The Project Gutenberg eBook of The King in Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers. (2022)

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The King in Yellow, by Robert W. ChambersThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: The King in YellowAuthor: Robert W. ChambersPosting Date: December 24, 2011 [EBook #8492]Release Date: July, 2005[This file was first posted on July 16, 2003]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE KING IN YELLOW ***Produced by Suzanne Shell, Beth Trapaga, Charles Franks,and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. HTML version byChuck Greif.

BY
ROBERT W. CHAMBERS

Original publication date: 1895

THE KING IN YELLOW
IS DEDICATED
TO
MY BROTHER

Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.
Song of my soul, my voice is dead;
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.
Cassilda's Song in "The King in Yellow," Act i, Scene 2.
CONTENTS
THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS
THE MASK
IN THE COURT OF THE DRAGON
THE YELLOW SIGN
THE DEMOISELLE D'YS
THE PROPHETS' PARADISE
THE STREET OF THE FOUR WINDS
THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL
THE STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS
RUE BARRÉE

THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS

I

"Ne raillons pas les fous; leur folie dure plus longtemps que lanôtre.... Voila toute la différence."

Toward the end of the year 1920 the Government of the United States hadpractically completed the programme, adopted during the last months ofPresident Winthrop's administration. The country was apparentlytranquil. Everybody knows how the Tariff and Labour questions weresettled. The war with Germany, incident on that country's seizure of theSamoan Islands, had left no visible scars upon the republic, and thetemporary occupation of Norfolk by the invading army had been forgottenin the joy over repeated naval victories, and the subsequent ridiculousplight of General Von Gartenlaube's forces in the State of New Jersey.The Cuban and Hawaiian investments had paid one hundred per cent and theterritory of Samoa was well worth its cost as a coaling station. Thecountry was in a superb state of defence. Every coast city had been wellsupplied with land fortifications; the army under the parental eye ofthe General Staff, organized according to the Prussian system, had beenincreased to 300,000 men, with a territorial reserve of a million; andsix magnificent squadrons of cruisers and battle-ships patrolled the sixstations of the navigable seas, leaving a steam reserve amply fitted tocontrol home waters. The gentlemen from the West had at last beenconstrained to acknowledge that a college for the training of diplomatswas as necessary as law schools are for the training of barristers;consequently we were no longer represented abroad by incompetentpatriots. The nation was prosperous; Chicago, for a moment paralyzedafter a second great fire, had risen from its ruins, white and imperial,and more beautiful than the white city which had been built for itsplaything in 1893. Everywhere good architecture was replacing bad, andeven in New York, a sudden craving for decency had swept away a greatportion of the existing horrors. Streets had been widened, properlypaved and lighted, trees had been planted, squares laid out, elevatedstructures demolished and underground roads built to replace them. Thenew government buildings and barracks were fine bits of architecture,and the long system of stone quays which completely surrounded theisland had been turned into parks which proved a god-send to thepopulation. The subsidizing of the state theatre and state opera broughtits own reward. The United States National Academy of Design was muchlike European institutions of the same kind. Nobody envied the Secretaryof Fine Arts, either his cabinet position or his portfolio. TheSecretary of Forestry and Game Preservation had a much easier time,thanks to the new system of National Mounted Police. We had profitedwell by the latest treaties with France and England; the exclusion offoreign-born Jews as a measure of self-preservation, the settlement ofthe new independent negro state of Suanee, the checking of immigration,the new laws concerning naturalization, and the gradual centralizationof power in the executive all contributed to national calm andprosperity. When the Government solved the Indian problem and squadronsof Indian cavalry scouts in native costume were substituted for thepitiable organizations tacked on to the tail of skeletonized regimentsby a former Secretary of War, the nation drew a long sigh of relief.When, after the colossal Congress of Religions, bigotry and intolerancewere laid in their graves and kindness and charity began to draw warringsects together, many thought the millennium had arrived, at least in thenew world which after all is a world by itself.

But self-preservation is the first law, and the United States had tolook on in helpless sorrow as Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium writhedin the throes of Anarchy, while Russia, watching from the Caucasus,stooped and bound them one by one.

In the city of New York the summer of 1899 was signalized by thedismantling of the Elevated Railroads. The summer of 1900 will live inthe memories of New York people for many a cycle; the Dodge Statue wasremoved in that year. In the following winter began that agitation forthe repeal of the laws prohibiting suicide which bore its final fruit inthe month of April, 1920, when the first Government Lethal Chamber wasopened on Washington Square.

I had walked down that day from Dr. Archer's house on Madison Avenue,where I had been as a mere formality. Ever since that fall from myhorse, four years before, I had been troubled at times with pains in theback of my head and neck, but now for months they had been absent, andthe doctor sent me away that day saying there was nothing more to becured in me. It was hardly worth his fee to be told that; I knew itmyself. Still I did not grudge him the money. What I minded was themistake which he made at first. When they picked me up from the pavementwhere I lay unconscious, and somebody had mercifully sent a bulletthrough my horse's head, I was carried to Dr. Archer, and he,pronouncing my brain affected, placed me in his private asylum where Iwas obliged to endure treatment for insanity. At last he decided that Iwas well, and I, knowing that my mind had always been as sound as his,if not sounder, "paid my tuition" as he jokingly called it, and left. Itold him, smiling, that I would get even with him for his mistake, andhe laughed heartily, and asked me to call once in a while. I did so,hoping for a chance to even up accounts, but he gave me none, and I toldhim I would wait.

The fall from my horse had fortunately left no evil results; on thecontrary it had changed my whole character for the better. From a lazyyoung man about town, I had become active, energetic, temperate, andabove all—oh, above all else—ambitious. There was only one thing whichtroubled me, I laughed at my own uneasiness, and yet it troubled me.

During my convalescence I had bought and read for the first time, TheKing in Yellow. I remember after finishing the first act that itoccurred to me that I had better stop. I started up and flung the bookinto the fireplace; the volume struck the barred grate and fell open onthe hearth in the firelight. If I had not caught a glimpse of theopening words in the second act I should never have finished it, but asI stooped to pick it up, my eyes became riveted to the open page, andwith a cry of terror, or perhaps it was of joy so poignant that Isuffered in every nerve, I snatched the thing out of the coals and creptshaking to my bedroom, where I read it and reread it, and wept andlaughed and trembled with a horror which at times assails me yet. Thisis the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa where blackstars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthenin the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and mymind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask. I pray God willcurse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with thisbeautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistiblein its truth—a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow. Whenthe French Government seized the translated copies which had justarrived in Paris, London, of course, became eager to read it. It is wellknown how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city,from continent to continent, barred out here, confiscated there,denounced by Press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced ofliterary anarchists. No definite principles had been violated in thosewicked pages, no doctrine promulgated, no convictions outraged. It couldnot be judged by any known standard, yet, although it was acknowledgedthat the supreme note of art had been struck in The King in Yellow,all felt that human nature could not bear the strain, nor thrive onwords in which the essence of purest poison lurked. The very banalityand innocence of the first act only allowed the blow to fall afterwardwith more awful effect.

It was, I remember, the 13th day of April, 1920, that the firstGovernment Lethal Chamber was established on the south side ofWashington Square, between Wooster Street and South Fifth Avenue. Theblock which had formerly consisted of a lot of shabby old buildings,used as cafés and restaurants for foreigners, had been acquired by theGovernment in the winter of 1898. The French and Italian cafés andrestaurants were torn down; the whole block was enclosed by a gildediron railing, and converted into a lovely garden with lawns, flowers andfountains. In the centre of the garden stood a small, white building,severely classical in architecture, and surrounded by thickets offlowers. Six Ionic columns supported the roof, and the single door wasof bronze. A splendid marble group of the "Fates" stood before the door,the work of a young American sculptor, Boris Yvain, who had died inParis when only twenty-three years old.

The inauguration ceremonies were in progress as I crossed UniversityPlace and entered the square. I threaded my way through the silentthrong of spectators, but was stopped at Fourth Street by a cordon ofpolice. A regiment of United States lancers were drawn up in a hollowsquare round the Lethal Chamber. On a raised tribune facing WashingtonPark stood the Governor of New York, and behind him were grouped theMayor of New York and Brooklyn, the Inspector-General of Police, theCommandant of the state troops, Colonel Livingston, military aid to thePresident of the United States, General Blount, commanding at Governor'sIsland, Major-General Hamilton, commanding the garrison of New York andBrooklyn, Admiral Buffby of the fleet in the North River,Surgeon-General Lanceford, the staff of the National Free Hospital,Senators Wyse and Franklin of New York, and the Commissioner of PublicWorks. The tribune was surrounded by a squadron of hussars of theNational Guard.

The Governor was finishing his reply to the short speech of theSurgeon-General. I heard him say: "The laws prohibiting suicide andproviding punishment for any attempt at self-destruction have beenrepealed. The Government has seen fit to acknowledge the right of man toend an existence which may have become intolerable to him, throughphysical suffering or mental despair. It is believed that the communitywill be benefited by the removal of such people from their midst. Sincethe passage of this law, the number of suicides in the United States hasnot increased. Now the Government has determined to establish a LethalChamber in every city, town and village in the country, it remains to beseen whether or not that class of human creatures from whose despondingranks new victims of self-destruction fall daily will accept the reliefthus provided." He paused, and turned to the white Lethal Chamber. Thesilence in the street was absolute. "There a painless death awaits himwho can no longer bear the sorrows of this life. If death is welcome lethim seek it there." Then quickly turning to the military aid of thePresident's household, he said, "I declare the Lethal Chamber open," andagain facing the vast crowd he cried in a clear voice: "Citizens of NewYork and of the United States of America, through me the Governmentdeclares the Lethal Chamber to be open."

The solemn hush was broken by a sharp cry of command, the squadron ofhussars filed after the Governor's carriage, the lancers wheeled andformed along Fifth Avenue to wait for the commandant of the garrison,and the mounted police followed them. I left the crowd to gape and stareat the white marble Death Chamber, and, crossing South Fifth Avenue,walked along the western side of that thoroughfare to Bleecker Street.Then I turned to the right and stopped before a dingy shop which borethe sign:

HAWBERK, ARMOURER.

I glanced in at the doorway and saw Hawberk busy in his little shop atthe end of the hall. He looked up, and catching sight of me cried in hisdeep, hearty voice, "Come in, Mr. Castaigne!" Constance, his daughter,rose to meet me as I crossed the threshold, and held out her prettyhand, but I saw the blush of disappointment on her cheeks, and knew thatit was another Castaigne she had expected, my cousin Louis. I smiled ather confusion and complimented her on the banner she was embroideringfrom a coloured plate. Old Hawberk sat riveting the worn greaves of someancient suit of armour, and the ting! ting! ting! of his little hammersounded pleasantly in the quaint shop. Presently he dropped his hammer,and fussed about for a moment with a tiny wrench. The soft clash of themail sent a thrill of pleasure through me. I loved to hear the music ofsteel brushing against steel, the mellow shock of the mallet on thighpieces, and the jingle of chain armour. That was the only reason I wentto see Hawberk. He had never interested me personally, nor didConstance, except for the fact of her being in love with Louis. This didoccupy my attention, and sometimes even kept me awake at night. But Iknew in my heart that all would come right, and that I should arrangetheir future as I expected to arrange that of my kind doctor, JohnArcher. However, I should never have troubled myself about visiting themjust then, had it not been, as I say, that the music of the tinklinghammer had for me this strong fascination. I would sit for hours,listening and listening, and when a stray sunbeam struck the inlaidsteel, the sensation it gave me was almost too keen to endure. My eyeswould become fixed, dilating with a pleasure that stretched every nervealmost to breaking, until some movement of the old armourer cut off theray of sunlight, then, still thrilling secretly, I leaned back andlistened again to the sound of the polishing rag, swish! swish! rubbingrust from the rivets.

Constance worked with the embroidery over her knees, now and thenpausing to examine more closely the pattern in the coloured plate fromthe Metropolitan Museum.

"Who is this for?" I asked.

Hawberk explained, that in addition to the treasures of armour in theMetropolitan Museum of which he had been appointed armourer, he also hadcharge of several collections belonging to rich amateurs. This was themissing greave of a famous suit which a client of his had traced to alittle shop in Paris on the Quai d'Orsay. He, Hawberk, had negotiatedfor and secured the greave, and now the suit was complete. He laid downhis hammer and read me the history of the suit, traced since 1450 fromowner to owner until it was acquired by Thomas Stainbridge. When hissuperb collection was sold, this client of Hawberk's bought the suit,and since then the search for the missing greave had been pushed untilit was, almost by accident, located in Paris.

"Did you continue the search so persistently without any certainty ofthe greave being still in existence?" I demanded.

"Of course," he replied coolly.

Then for the first time I took a personal interest in Hawberk.

"It was worth something to you," I ventured.

"No," he replied, laughing, "my pleasure in finding it was my reward."

"Have you no ambition to be rich?" I asked, smiling.

"My one ambition is to be the best armourer in the world," he answeredgravely.

Constance asked me if I had seen the ceremonies at the Lethal Chamber.She herself had noticed cavalry passing up Broadway that morning, andhad wished to see the inauguration, but her father wanted the bannerfinished, and she had stayed at his request.

"Did you see your cousin, Mr. Castaigne, there?" she asked, with theslightest tremor of her soft eyelashes.

"No," I replied carelessly. "Louis' regiment is manœuvring out inWestchester County." I rose and picked up my hat and cane.

"Are you going upstairs to see the lunatic again?" laughed old Hawberk.If Hawberk knew how I loathe that word "lunatic," he would never use itin my presence. It rouses certain feelings within me which I do not careto explain. However, I answered him quietly: "I think I shall drop inand see Mr. Wilde for a moment or two."

"Poor fellow," said Constance, with a shake of the head, "it must behard to live alone year after year poor, crippled and almost demented.It is very good of you, Mr. Castaigne, to visit him as often as you do."

"I think he is vicious," observed Hawberk, beginning again with hishammer. I listened to the golden tinkle on the greave plates; when hehad finished I replied:

"No, he is not vicious, nor is he in the least demented. His mind is awonder chamber, from which he can extract treasures that you and I wouldgive years of our life to acquire."'

Hawberk laughed.

I continued a little impatiently: "He knows history as no one else couldknow it. Nothing, however trivial, escapes his search, and his memory isso absolute, so precise in details, that were it known in New York thatsuch a man existed, the people could not honour him enough."

"Nonsense," muttered Hawberk, searching on the floor for a fallen rivet.

"Is it nonsense," I asked, managing to suppress what I felt, "is itnonsense when he says that the tassets and cuissards of the enamelledsuit of armour commonly known as the 'Prince's Emblazoned' can be foundamong a mass of rusty theatrical properties, broken stoves andragpicker's refuse in a garret in Pell Street?"

Hawberk's hammer fell to the ground, but he picked it up and asked, witha great deal of calm, how I knew that the tassets and left cuissard weremissing from the "Prince's Emblazoned."

"I did not know until Mr. Wilde mentioned it to me the other day. Hesaid they were in the garret of 998 Pell Street."

"Nonsense," he cried, but I noticed his hand trembling under hisleathern apron.

"Is this nonsense too?" I asked pleasantly, "is it nonsense when Mr.Wilde continually speaks of you as the Marquis of Avonshire and of MissConstance—"

I did not finish, for Constance had started to her feet with terrorwritten on every feature. Hawberk looked at me and slowly smoothed hisleathern apron.

"That is impossible," he observed, "Mr. Wilde may know a great manythings—"

"About armour, for instance, and the 'Prince's Emblazoned,'" Iinterposed, smiling.

"Yes," he continued, slowly, "about armour also—may be—but he is wrongin regard to the Marquis of Avonshire, who, as you know, killed hiswife's traducer years ago, and went to Australia where he did not longsurvive his wife."

"Mr. Wilde is wrong," murmured Constance. Her lips were blanched, buther voice was sweet and calm.

"Let us agree, if you please, that in this one circumstance Mr. Wilde iswrong," I said.

II

I climbed the three dilapidated flights of stairs, which I had so oftenclimbed before, and knocked at a small door at the end of the corridor.Mr. Wilde opened the door and I walked in.

When he had double-locked the door and pushed a heavy chest against it,he came and sat down beside me, peering up into my face with his littlelight-coloured eyes. Half a dozen new scratches covered his nose andcheeks, and the silver wires which supported his artificial ears hadbecome displaced. I thought I had never seen him so hideouslyfascinating. He had no ears. The artificial ones, which now stood out atan angle from the fine wire, were his one weakness. They were made ofwax and painted a shell pink, but the rest of his face was yellow. Hemight better have revelled in the luxury of some artificial fingers forhis left hand, which was absolutely fingerless, but it seemed to causehim no inconvenience, and he was satisfied with his wax ears. He wasvery small, scarcely higher than a child of ten, but his arms weremagnificently developed, and his thighs as thick as any athlete's.Still, the most remarkable thing about Mr. Wilde was that a man of hismarvellous intelligence and knowledge should have such a head. It wasflat and pointed, like the heads of many of those unfortunates whompeople imprison in asylums for the weak-minded. Many called him insane,but I knew him to be as sane as I was.

I do not deny that he was eccentric; the mania he had for keeping thatcat and teasing her until she flew at his face like a demon, wascertainly eccentric. I never could understand why he kept the creature,nor what pleasure he found in shutting himself up in his room with thissurly, vicious beast. I remember once, glancing up from the manuscript Iwas studying by the light of some tallow dips, and seeing Mr. Wildesquatting motionless on his high chair, his eyes fairly blazing withexcitement, while the cat, which had risen from her place before thestove, came creeping across the floor right at him. Before I could moveshe flattened her belly to the ground, crouched, trembled, and spranginto his face. Howling and foaming they rolled over and over on thefloor, scratching and clawing, until the cat screamed and fled under thecabinet, and Mr. Wilde turned over on his back, his limbs contractingand curling up like the legs of a dying spider. He was eccentric.

Mr. Wilde had climbed into his high chair, and, after studying my face,picked up a dog's-eared ledger and opened it.

"Henry B. Matthews," he read, "book-keeper with Whysot Whysot andCompany, dealers in church ornaments. Called April 3rd. Reputationdamaged on the race-track. Known as a welcher. Reputation to be repairedby August 1st. Retainer Five Dollars." He turned the page and ran hisfingerless knuckles down the closely-written columns.

"P. Greene Dusenberry, Minister of the Gospel, Fairbeach, New Jersey.Reputation damaged in the Bowery. To be repaired as soon as possible.Retainer $100."

He coughed and added, "Called, April 6th."

"Then you are not in need of money, Mr. Wilde," I inquired.

"Listen," he coughed again.

"Mrs. C. Hamilton Chester, of Chester Park, New York City. Called April7th. Reputation damaged at Dieppe, France. To be repaired by October 1stRetainer $500.

"Note.—C. Hamilton Chester, Captain U.S.S. 'Avalanche', ordered homefrom South Sea Squadron October 1st."

"Well," I said, "the profession of a Repairer of Reputations islucrative."

His colourless eyes sought mine, "I only wanted to demonstrate that Iwas correct. You said it was impossible to succeed as a Repairer ofReputations; that even if I did succeed in certain cases it would costme more than I would gain by it. To-day I have five hundred men in myemploy, who are poorly paid, but who pursue the work with an enthusiasmwhich possibly may be born of fear. These men enter every shade andgrade of society; some even are pillars of the most exclusive socialtemples; others are the prop and pride of the financial world; stillothers, hold undisputed sway among the 'Fancy and the Talent.' I choosethem at my leisure from those who reply to my advertisements. It is easyenough, they are all cowards. I could treble the number in twenty daysif I wished. So you see, those who have in their keeping the reputationsof their fellow-citizens, I have in my pay."

"They may turn on you," I suggested.

He rubbed his thumb over his cropped ears, and adjusted the waxsubstitutes. "I think not," he murmured thoughtfully, "I seldom have toapply the whip, and then only once. Besides they like their wages."

"How do you apply the whip?" I demanded.

His face for a moment was awful to look upon. His eyes dwindled to apair of green sparks.

"I invite them to come and have a little chat with me," he said in asoft voice.

A knock at the door interrupted him, and his face resumed its amiableexpression.

"Who is it?" he inquired.

"Mr. Steylette," was the answer.

"Come to-morrow," replied Mr. Wilde.

"Impossible," began the other, but was silenced by a sort of bark fromMr. Wilde.

"Come to-morrow," he repeated.

We heard somebody move away from the door and turn the corner by thestairway.

"Who is that?" I asked.

"Arnold Steylette, Owner and Editor in Chief of the great New Yorkdaily."

He drummed on the ledger with his fingerless hand adding: "I pay himvery badly, but he thinks it a good bargain."

"Arnold Steylette!" I repeated amazed.

"Yes," said Mr. Wilde, with a self-satisfied cough.

The cat, which had entered the room as he spoke, hesitated, looked up athim and snarled. He climbed down from the chair and squatting on thefloor, took the creature into his arms and caressed her. The cat ceasedsnarling and presently began a loud purring which seemed to increase intimbre as he stroked her. "Where are the notes?" I asked. He pointed tothe table, and for the hundredth time I picked up the bundle ofmanuscript entitled—

"THE IMPERIAL DYNASTY OF AMERICA."

One by one I studied the well-worn pages, worn only by my own handling,and although I knew all by heart, from the beginning, "When fromCarcosa, the Hyades, Hastur, and Aldebaran," to "Castaigne, Louis deCalvados, born December 19th, 1877," I read it with an eager, raptattention, pausing to repeat parts of it aloud, and dwelling especiallyon "Hildred de Calvados, only son of Hildred Castaigne and Edythe LandesCastaigne, first in succession," etc., etc.

When I finished, Mr. Wilde nodded and coughed.

"Speaking of your legitimate ambition," he said, "how do Constance andLouis get along?"

"She loves him," I replied simply.

The cat on his knee suddenly turned and struck at his eyes, and he flungher off and climbed on to the chair opposite me.

"And Dr. Archer! But that's a matter you can settle any time you wish,"he added.

"Yes," I replied, "Dr. Archer can wait, but it is time I saw my cousinLouis."

"It is time," he repeated. Then he took another ledger from the tableand ran over the leaves rapidly. "We are now in communication with tenthousand men," he muttered. "We can count on one hundred thousand withinthe first twenty-eight hours, and in forty-eight hours the state willrise en masse. The country follows the state, and the portion thatwill not, I mean California and the Northwest, might better never havebeen inhabited. I shall not send them the Yellow Sign."

The blood rushed to my head, but I only answered, "A new broom sweepsclean."

"The ambition of Caesar and of Napoleon pales before that which couldnot rest until it had seized the minds of men and controlled even theirunborn thoughts," said Mr. Wilde.

"You are speaking of the King in Yellow," I groaned, with a shudder.

"He is a king whom emperors have served."

"I am content to serve him," I replied.

Mr. Wilde sat rubbing his ears with his crippled hand. "PerhapsConstance does not love him," he suggested.

I started to reply, but a sudden burst of military music from the streetbelow drowned my voice. The twentieth dragoon regiment, formerly ingarrison at Mount St. Vincent, was returning from the manœuvres inWestchester County, to its new barracks on East Washington Square. Itwas my cousin's regiment. They were a fine lot of fellows, in their paleblue, tight-fitting jackets, jaunty busbys and white riding breecheswith the double yellow stripe, into which their limbs seemed moulded.Every other squadron was armed with lances, from the metal points ofwhich fluttered yellow and white pennons. The band passed, playing theregimental march, then came the colonel and staff, the horses crowdingand trampling, while their heads bobbed in unison, and the pennonsfluttered from their lance points. The troopers, who rode with thebeautiful English seat, looked brown as berries from their bloodlesscampaign among the farms of Westchester, and the music of their sabresagainst the stirrups, and the jingle of spurs and carbines wasdelightful to me. I saw Louis riding with his squadron. He was ashandsome an officer as I have ever seen. Mr. Wilde, who had mounted achair by the window, saw him too, but said nothing. Louis turned andlooked straight at Hawberk's shop as he passed, and I could see theflush on his brown cheeks. I think Constance must have been at thewindow. When the last troopers had clattered by, and the last pennonsvanished into South Fifth Avenue, Mr. Wilde clambered out of his chairand dragged the chest away from the door.

"Yes," he said, "it is time that you saw your cousin Louis."

He unlocked the door and I picked up my hat and stick and stepped intothe corridor. The stairs were dark. Groping about, I set my foot onsomething soft, which snarled and spit, and I aimed a murderous blow atthe cat, but my cane shivered to splinters against the balustrade, andthe beast scurried back into Mr. Wilde's room.

Passing Hawberk's door again I saw him still at work on the armour, butI did not stop, and stepping out into Bleecker Street, I followed it toWooster, skirted the grounds of the Lethal Chamber, and crossingWashington Park went straight to my rooms in the Benedick. Here Ilunched comfortably, read the Herald and the Meteor, and finallywent to the steel safe in my bedroom and set the time combination. Thethree and three-quarter minutes which it is necessary to wait, while thetime lock is opening, are to me golden moments. From the instant I setthe combination to the moment when I grasp the knobs and swing back thesolid steel doors, I live in an ecstasy of expectation. Those momentsmust be like moments passed in Paradise. I know what I am to find at theend of the time limit. I know what the massive safe holds secure for me,for me alone, and the exquisite pleasure of waiting is hardly enhancedwhen the safe opens and I lift, from its velvet crown, a diadem ofpurest gold, blazing with diamonds. I do this every day, and yet the joyof waiting and at last touching again the diadem, only seems to increaseas the days pass. It is a diadem fit for a King among kings, an Emperoramong emperors. The King in Yellow might scorn it, but it shall be wornby his royal servant.

I held it in my arms until the alarm in the safe rang harshly, and thentenderly, proudly, I replaced it and shut the steel doors. I walkedslowly back into my study, which faces Washington Square, and leaned onthe window sill. The afternoon sun poured into my windows, and a gentlebreeze stirred the branches of the elms and maples in the park, nowcovered with buds and tender foliage. A flock of pigeons circled aboutthe tower of the Memorial Church; sometimes alighting on the purpletiled roof, sometimes wheeling downward to the lotos fountain in frontof the marble arch. The gardeners were busy with the flower beds aroundthe fountain, and the freshly turned earth smelled sweet and spicy. Alawn mower, drawn by a fat white horse, clinked across the green sward,and watering-carts poured showers of spray over the asphalt drives.Around the statue of Peter Stuyvesant, which in 1897 had replaced themonstrosity supposed to represent Garibaldi, children played in thespring sunshine, and nurse girls wheeled elaborate baby carriages with areckless disregard for the pasty-faced occupants, which could probablybe explained by the presence of half a dozen trim dragoon trooperslanguidly lolling on the benches. Through the trees, the WashingtonMemorial Arch glistened like silver in the sunshine, and beyond, on theeastern extremity of the square the grey stone barracks of the dragoons,and the white granite artillery stables were alive with colour andmotion.

I looked at the Lethal Chamber on the corner of the square opposite. Afew curious people still lingered about the gilded iron railing, butinside the grounds the paths were deserted. I watched the fountainsripple and sparkle; the sparrows had already found this new bathingnook, and the basins were covered with the dusty-feathered littlethings. Two or three white peacocks picked their way across the lawns,and a drab coloured pigeon sat so motionless on the arm of one of the"Fates," that it seemed to be a part of the sculptured stone.

As I was turning carelessly away, a slight commotion in the group ofcurious loiterers around the gates attracted my attention. A young manhad entered, and was advancing with nervous strides along the gravelpath which leads to the bronze doors of the Lethal Chamber. He paused amoment before the "Fates," and as he raised his head to those threemysterious faces, the pigeon rose from its sculptured perch, circledabout for a moment and wheeled to the east. The young man pressed hishand to his face, and then with an undefinable gesture sprang up themarble steps, the bronze doors closed behind him, and half an hour laterthe loiterers slouched away, and the frightened pigeon returned to itsperch in the arms of Fate.

I put on my hat and went out into the park for a little walk beforedinner. As I crossed the central driveway a group of officers passed,and one of them called out, "Hello, Hildred," and came back to shakehands with me. It was my cousin Louis, who stood smiling and tapping hisspurred heels with his riding-whip.

"Just back from Westchester," he said; "been doing the bucolic; milk andcurds, you know, dairy-maids in sunbonnets, who say 'haeow' and 'I don'tthink' when you tell them they are pretty. I'm nearly dead for a squaremeal at Delmonico's. What's the news?"

"There is none," I replied pleasantly. "I saw your regiment coming inthis morning."

"Did you? I didn't see you. Where were you?"

"In Mr. Wilde's window."

"Oh, hell!" he began impatiently, "that man is stark mad! I don'tunderstand why you—"

He saw how annoyed I felt by this outburst, and begged my pardon.

"Really, old chap," he said, "I don't mean to run down a man you like,but for the life of me I can't see what the deuce you find in commonwith Mr. Wilde. He's not well bred, to put it generously; he ishideously deformed; his head is the head of a criminally insane person.You know yourself he's been in an asylum—"

"So have I," I interrupted calmly.

Louis looked startled and confused for a moment, but recovered andslapped me heartily on the shoulder. "You were completely cured," hebegan; but I stopped him again.

"I suppose you mean that I was simply acknowledged never to have beeninsane."

"Of course that—that's what I meant," he laughed.

I disliked his laugh because I knew it was forced, but I nodded gailyand asked him where he was going. Louis looked after his brotherofficers who had now almost reached Broadway.

"We had intended to sample a Brunswick cocktail, but to tell you thetruth I was anxious for an excuse to go and see Hawberk instead. Comealong, I'll make you my excuse."

We found old Hawberk, neatly attired in a fresh spring suit, standing atthe door of his shop and sniffing the air.

"I had just decided to take Constance for a little stroll beforedinner," he replied to the impetuous volley of questions from Louis. "Wethought of walking on the park terrace along the North River."

At that moment Constance appeared and grew pale and rosy by turns asLouis bent over her small gloved fingers. I tried to excuse myself,alleging an engagement uptown, but Louis and Constance would not listen,and I saw I was expected to remain and engage old Hawberk's attention.After all it would be just as well if I kept my eye on Louis, I thought,and when they hailed a Spring Street horse-car, I got in after them andtook my seat beside the armourer.

The beautiful line of parks and granite terraces overlooking the wharvesalong the North River, which were built in 1910 and finished in theautumn of 1917, had become one of the most popular promenades in themetropolis. They extended from the battery to 190th Street, overlookingthe noble river and affording a fine view of the Jersey shore and theHighlands opposite. Cafés and restaurants were scattered here and thereamong the trees, and twice a week military bands from the garrisonplayed in the kiosques on the parapets.

We sat down in the sunshine on the bench at the foot of the equestrianstatue of General Sheridan. Constance tipped her sunshade to shield hereyes, and she and Louis began a murmuring conversation which wasimpossible to catch. Old Hawberk, leaning on his ivory headed cane,lighted an excellent cigar, the mate to which I politely refused, andsmiled at vacancy. The sun hung low above the Staten Island woods, andthe bay was dyed with golden hues reflected from the sun-warmed sails ofthe shipping in the harbour.

Brigs, schooners, yachts, clumsy ferry-boats, their decks swarming withpeople, railroad transports carrying lines of brown, blue and whitefreight cars, stately sound steamers, déclassé tramp steamers, coasters,dredgers, scows, and everywhere pervading the entire bay impudent littletugs puffing and whistling officiously;—these were the craft whichchurned the sunlight waters as far as the eye could reach. In calmcontrast to the hurry of sailing vessel and steamer a silent fleet ofwhite warships lay motionless in midstream.

Constance's merry laugh aroused me from my reverie.

"What are you staring at?" she inquired.

"Nothing—the fleet," I smiled.

Then Louis told us what the vessels were, pointing out each by itsrelative position to the old Red Fort on Governor's Island.

"That little cigar shaped thing is a torpedo boat," he explained; "thereare four more lying close together. They are the Tarpon, the Falcon,the Sea Fox, and the Octopus. The gun-boats just above are thePrinceton, the Champlain, the Still Water and the Erie. Next tothem lie the cruisers Faragut and Los Angeles, and above them thebattle ships California, and Dakota, and the Washington which isthe flag ship. Those two squatty looking chunks of metal which areanchored there off Castle William are the double turreted monitorsTerrible and Magnificent; behind them lies the ram, Osceola."

Constance looked at him with deep approval in her beautiful eyes. "Whatloads of things you know for a soldier," she said, and we all joined inthe laugh which followed.

Presently Louis rose with a nod to us and offered his arm to Constance,and they strolled away along the river wall. Hawberk watched them for amoment and then turned to me.

"Mr. Wilde was right," he said. "I have found the missing tassets andleft cuissard of the 'Prince's Emblazoned,' in a vile old junk garret inPell Street."

"998?" I inquired, with a smile.

"Yes."

"Mr. Wilde is a very intelligent man," I observed.

"I want to give him the credit of this most important discovery,"continued Hawberk. "And I intend it shall be known that he is entitledto the fame of it."

"He won't thank you for that," I answered sharply; "please say nothingabout it."

"Do you know what it is worth?" said Hawberk.

"No, fifty dollars, perhaps."

"It is valued at five hundred, but the owner of the 'Prince'sEmblazoned' will give two thousand dollars to the person who completeshis suit; that reward also belongs to Mr. Wilde."

"He doesn't want it! He refuses it!" I answered angrily. "What do youknow about Mr. Wilde? He doesn't need the money. He is rich—or willbe—richer than any living man except myself. What will we care formoney then—what will we care, he and I, when—when—"

"When what?" demanded Hawberk, astonished.

"You will see," I replied, on my guard again.

He looked at me narrowly, much as Doctor Archer used to, and I knew hethought I was mentally unsound. Perhaps it was fortunate for him that hedid not use the word lunatic just then.

"No," I replied to his unspoken thought, "I am not mentally weak; mymind is as healthy as Mr. Wilde's. I do not care to explain just yetwhat I have on hand, but it is an investment which will pay more thanmere gold, silver and precious stones. It will secure the happiness andprosperity of a continent—yes, a hemisphere!"

"Oh," said Hawberk.

"And eventually," I continued more quietly, "it will secure thehappiness of the whole world."

"And incidentally your own happiness and prosperity as well as Mr.Wilde's?"

"Exactly," I smiled. But I could have throttled him for taking thattone.

He looked at me in silence for a while and then said very gently, "Whydon't you give up your books and studies, Mr. Castaigne, and take atramp among the mountains somewhere or other? You used to be fond offishing. Take a cast or two at the trout in the Rangelys."

"I don't care for fishing any more," I answered, without a shade ofannoyance in my voice.

"You used to be fond of everything," he continued; "athletics, yachting,shooting, riding—"

"I have never cared to ride since my fall," I said quietly.

"Ah, yes, your fall," he repeated, looking away from me.

I thought this nonsense had gone far enough, so I brought theconversation back to Mr. Wilde; but he was scanning my face again in amanner highly offensive to me.

"Mr. Wilde," he repeated, "do you know what he did this afternoon? Hecame downstairs and nailed a sign over the hall door next to mine; itread:

MR. WILDE,
REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS.
Third Bell.

"Do you know what a Repairer of Reputations can be?"

"I do," I replied, suppressing the rage within.

"Oh," he said again.

Louis and Constance came strolling by and stopped to ask if we wouldjoin them. Hawberk looked at his watch. At the same moment a puff ofsmoke shot from the casemates of Castle William, and the boom of thesunset gun rolled across the water and was re-echoed from the Highlandsopposite. The flag came running down from the flag-pole, the buglessounded on the white decks of the warships, and the first electric lightsparkled out from the Jersey shore.

As I turned into the city with Hawberk I heard Constance murmursomething to Louis which I did not understand; but Louis whispered "Mydarling," in reply; and again, walking ahead with Hawberk through thesquare I heard a murmur of "sweetheart," and "my own Constance," and Iknew the time had nearly arrived when I should speak of importantmatters with my cousin Louis.

III

One morning early in May I stood before the steel safe in my bedroom,trying on the golden jewelled crown. The diamonds flashed fire as Iturned to the mirror, and the heavy beaten gold burned like a halo aboutmy head. I remembered Camilla's agonized scream and the awful wordsechoing through the dim streets of Carcosa. They were the last lines inthe first act, and I dared not think of what followed—dared not, evenin the spring sunshine, there in my own room, surrounded with familiarobjects, reassured by the bustle from the street and the voices of theservants in the hallway outside. For those poisoned words had droppedslowly into my heart, as death-sweat drops upon a bed-sheet and isabsorbed. Trembling, I put the diadem from my head and wiped myforehead, but I thought of Hastur and of my own rightful ambition, and Iremembered Mr. Wilde as I had last left him, his face all torn andbloody from the claws of that devil's creature, and what he said—ah,what he said. The alarm bell in the safe began to whirr harshly, and Iknew my time was up; but I would not heed it, and replacing the flashingcirclet upon my head I turned defiantly to the mirror. I stood for along time absorbed in the changing expression of my own eyes. The mirrorreflected a face which was like my own, but whiter, and so thin that Ihardly recognized it. And all the time I kept repeating between myclenched teeth, "The day has come! the day has come!" while the alarm inthe safe whirred and clamoured, and the diamonds sparkled and flamedabove my brow. I heard a door open but did not heed it. It was only whenI saw two faces in the mirror:—it was only when another face rose overmy shoulder, and two other eyes met mine. I wheeled like a flash andseized a long knife from my dressing-table, and my cousin sprang backvery pale, crying: "Hildred! for God's sake!" then as my hand fell, hesaid: "It is I, Louis, don't you know me?" I stood silent. I could nothave spoken for my life. He walked up to me and took the knife from myhand.

"What is all this?" he inquired, in a gentle voice. "Are you ill?"

"No," I replied. But I doubt if he heard me.

"Come, come, old fellow," he cried, "take off that brass crown andtoddle into the study. Are you going to a masquerade? What's all thistheatrical tinsel anyway?"

I was glad he thought the crown was made of brass and paste, yet Ididn't like him any the better for thinking so. I let him take it frommy hand, knowing it was best to humour him. He tossed the splendiddiadem in the air, and catching it, turned to me smiling.

"It's dear at fifty cents," he said. "What's it for?"

I did not answer, but took the circlet from his hands, and placing it inthe safe shut the massive steel door. The alarm ceased its infernal dinat once. He watched me curiously, but did not seem to notice the suddenceasing of the alarm. He did, however, speak of the safe as a biscuitbox. Fearing lest he might examine the combination I led the way into mystudy. Louis threw himself on the sofa and flicked at flies with hiseternal riding-whip. He wore his fatigue uniform with the braided jacketand jaunty cap, and I noticed that his riding-boots were all splashedwith red mud.

"Where have you been?" I inquired.

"Jumping mud creeks in Jersey," he said. "I haven't had time to changeyet; I was rather in a hurry to see you. Haven't you got a glass ofsomething? I'm dead tired; been in the saddle twenty-four hours."

I gave him some brandy from my medicinal store, which he drank with agrimace.

"Damned bad stuff," he observed. "I'll give you an address where theysell brandy that is brandy."

"It's good enough for my needs," I said indifferently. "I use it to rubmy chest with." He stared and flicked at another fly.

"See here, old fellow," he began, "I've got something to suggest to you.It's four years now that you've shut yourself up here like an owl, nevergoing anywhere, never taking any healthy exercise, never doing a damnthing but poring over those books up there on the mantelpiece."

He glanced along the row of shelves. "Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon!" heread. "For heaven's sake, have you nothing but Napoleons there?"

"I wish they were bound in gold," I said. "But wait, yes, there isanother book, The King in Yellow." I looked him steadily in the eye.

"Have you never read it?" I asked.

"I? No, thank God! I don't want to be driven crazy."

I saw he regretted his speech as soon as he had uttered it. There isonly one word which I loathe more than I do lunatic and that word iscrazy. But I controlled myself and asked him why he thought The King inYellow dangerous.

"Oh, I don't know," he said, hastily. "I only remember the excitement itcreated and the denunciations from pulpit and Press. I believe theauthor shot himself after bringing forth this monstrosity, didn't he?"

"I understand he is still alive," I answered.

"That's probably true," he muttered; "bullets couldn't kill a fiend likethat."

"It is a book of great truths," I said.

"Yes," he replied, "of 'truths' which send men frantic and blast theirlives. I don't care if the thing is, as they say, the very supremeessence of art. It's a crime to have written it, and I for one shallnever open its pages."

"Is that what you have come to tell me?" I asked.

"No," he said, "I came to tell you that I am going to be married."

I believe for a moment my heart ceased to beat, but I kept my eyes onhis face.

"Yes," he continued, smiling happily, "married to the sweetest girl onearth."

"Constance Hawberk," I said mechanically.

"How did you know?" he cried, astonished. "I didn't know it myself untilthat evening last April, when we strolled down to the embankment beforedinner."

"When is it to be?" I asked.

"It was to have been next September, but an hour ago a despatch cameordering our regiment to the Presidio, San Francisco. We leave at noonto-morrow. To-morrow," he repeated. "Just think, Hildred, to-morrow Ishall be the happiest fellow that ever drew breath in this jolly world,for Constance will go with me."

I offered him my hand in congratulation, and he seized and shook it likethe good-natured fool he was—or pretended to be.

"I am going to get my squadron as a wedding present," he rattled on."Captain and Mrs. Louis Castaigne, eh, Hildred?"

Then he told me where it was to be and who were to be there, and made mepromise to come and be best man. I set my teeth and listened to hisboyish chatter without showing what I felt, but—

I was getting to the limit of my endurance, and when he jumped up, and,switching his spurs till they jingled, said he must go, I did not detainhim.

"There's one thing I want to ask of you," I said quietly.

"Out with it, it's promised," he laughed.

"I want you to meet me for a quarter of an hour's talk to-night."

"Of course, if you wish," he said, somewhat puzzled. "Where?"

"Anywhere, in the park there."

"What time, Hildred?"

"Midnight."

"What in the name of—" he began, but checked himself and laughinglyassented. I watched him go down the stairs and hurry away, his sabrebanging at every stride. He turned into Bleecker Street, and I knew hewas going to see Constance. I gave him ten minutes to disappear and thenfollowed in his footsteps, taking with me the jewelled crown and thesilken robe embroidered with the Yellow Sign. When I turned intoBleecker Street, and entered the doorway which bore the sign—

MR. WILDE,
REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS.
Third Bell.

I saw old Hawberk moving about in his shop, and imagined I heardConstance's voice in the parlour; but I avoided them both and hurried upthe trembling stairways to Mr. Wilde's apartment. I knocked and enteredwithout ceremony. Mr. Wilde lay groaning on the floor, his face coveredwith blood, his clothes torn to shreds. Drops of blood were scatteredabout over the carpet, which had also been ripped and frayed in theevidently recent struggle.

"It's that cursed cat," he said, ceasing his groans, and turning hiscolourless eyes to me; "she attacked me while I was asleep. I believeshe will kill me yet."

This was too much, so I went into the kitchen, and, seizing a hatchetfrom the pantry, started to find the infernal beast and settle her thenand there. My search was fruitless, and after a while I gave it up andcame back to find Mr. Wilde squatting on his high chair by the table. Hehad washed his face and changed his clothes. The great furrows which thecat's claws had ploughed up in his face he had filled with collodion,and a rag hid the wound in his throat. I told him I should kill the catwhen I came across her, but he only shook his head and turned to theopen ledger before him. He read name after name of the people who hadcome to him in regard to their reputation, and the sums he had amassedwere startling.

"I put on the screws now and then," he explained.

"One day or other some of these people will assassinate you," Iinsisted.

"Do you think so?" he said, rubbing his mutilated ears.

It was useless to argue with him, so I took down the manuscript entitledImperial Dynasty of America, for the last time I should ever take itdown in Mr. Wilde's study. I read it through, thrilling and tremblingwith pleasure. When I had finished Mr. Wilde took the manuscript and,turning to the dark passage which leads from his study to hisbed-chamber, called out in a loud voice, "Vance." Then for the firsttime, I noticed a man crouching there in the shadow. How I hadoverlooked him during my search for the cat, I cannot imagine.

"Vance, come in," cried Mr. Wilde.

The figure rose and crept towards us, and I shall never forget the facethat he raised to mine, as the light from the window illuminated it.

"Vance, this is Mr. Castaigne," said Mr. Wilde. Before he had finishedspeaking, the man threw himself on the ground before the table, cryingand grasping, "Oh, God! Oh, my God! Help me! Forgive me! Oh, Mr.Castaigne, keep that man away. You cannot, you cannot mean it! You aredifferent—save me! I am broken down—I was in a madhouse and now—whenall was coming right—when I had forgotten the King—the King in Yellowand—but I shall go mad again—I shall go mad—"

His voice died into a choking rattle, for Mr. Wilde had leapt on him andhis right hand encircled the man's throat. When Vance fell in a heap onthe floor, Mr. Wilde clambered nimbly into his chair again, and rubbinghis mangled ears with the stump of his hand, turned to me and asked mefor the ledger. I reached it down from the shelf and he opened it. Aftera moment's searching among the beautifully written pages, he coughedcomplacently, and pointed to the name Vance.

"Vance," he read aloud, "Osgood Oswald Vance." At the sound of his name,the man on the floor raised his head and turned a convulsed face to Mr.Wilde. His eyes were injected with blood, his lips tumefied. "CalledApril 28th," continued Mr. Wilde. "Occupation, cashier in the SeaforthNational Bank; has served a term of forgery at Sing Sing, from whence hewas transferred to the Asylum for the Criminal Insane. Pardoned by theGovernor of New York, and discharged from the Asylum, January 19, 1918.Reputation damaged at Sheepshead Bay. Rumours that he lives beyond hisincome. Reputation to be repaired at once. Retainer $1,500.

"Note.—Has embezzled sums amounting to $30,000 since March 20, 1919,excellent family, and secured present position through uncle'sinfluence. Father, President of Seaforth Bank."

I looked at the man on the floor.

"Get up, Vance," said Mr. Wilde in a gentle voice. Vance rose as ifhypnotized. "He will do as we suggest now," observed Mr. Wilde, andopening the manuscript, he read the entire history of the ImperialDynasty of America. Then in a kind and soothing murmur he ran over theimportant points with Vance, who stood like one stunned. His eyes wereso blank and vacant that I imagined he had become half-witted, andremarked it to Mr. Wilde who replied that it was of no consequenceanyway. Very patiently we pointed out to Vance what his share in theaffair would be, and he seemed to understand after a while. Mr. Wildeexplained the manuscript, using several volumes on Heraldry, tosubstantiate the result of his researches. He mentioned theestablishment of the Dynasty in Carcosa, the lakes which connectedHastur, Aldebaran and the mystery of the Hyades. He spoke of Cassildaand Camilla, and sounded the cloudy depths of Demhe, and the Lake ofHali. "The scolloped tatters of the King in Yellow must hide Yhtillforever," he muttered, but I do not believe Vance heard him. Then bydegrees he led Vance along the ramifications of the Imperial family, toUoht and Thale, from Naotalba and Phantom of Truth, to Aldones, and thentossing aside his manuscript and notes, he began the wonderful story ofthe Last King. Fascinated and thrilled I watched him. He threw up hishead, his long arms were stretched out in a magnificent gesture of prideand power, and his eyes blazed deep in their sockets like two emeralds.Vance listened stupefied. As for me, when at last Mr. Wilde hadfinished, and pointing to me, cried, "The cousin of the King!" my headswam with excitement.

Controlling myself with a superhuman effort, I explained to Vance why Ialone was worthy of the crown and why my cousin must be exiled or die. Imade him understand that my cousin must never marry, even afterrenouncing all his claims, and how that least of all he should marry thedaughter of the Marquis of Avonshire and bring England into thequestion. I showed him a list of thousands of names which Mr. Wilde haddrawn up; every man whose name was there had received the Yellow Signwhich no living human being dared disregard. The city, the state, thewhole land, were ready to rise and tremble before the Pallid Mask.

The time had come, the people should know the son of Hastur, and thewhole world bow to the black stars which hang in the sky over Carcosa.

Vance leaned on the table, his head buried in his hands. Mr. Wilde drewa rough sketch on the margin of yesterday's Herald with a bit of leadpencil. It was a plan of Hawberk's rooms. Then he wrote out the orderand affixed the seal, and shaking like a palsied man I signed my firstwrit of execution with my name Hildred-Rex.

Mr. Wilde clambered to the floor and unlocking the cabinet, took a longsquare box from the first shelf. This he brought to the table andopened. A new knife lay in the tissue paper inside and I picked it upand handed it to Vance, along with the order and the plan of Hawberk'sapartment. Then Mr. Wilde told Vance he could go; and he went, shamblinglike an outcast of the slums.

I sat for a while watching the daylight fade behind the square tower ofthe Judson Memorial Church, and finally, gathering up the manuscript andnotes, took my hat and started for the door.

Mr. Wilde watched me in silence. When I had stepped into the hall Ilooked back. Mr. Wilde's small eyes were still fixed on me. Behind him,the shadows gathered in the fading light. Then I closed the door behindme and went out into the darkening streets.

I had eaten nothing since breakfast, but I was not hungry. A wretched,half-starved creature, who stood looking across the street at the LethalChamber, noticed me and came up to tell me a tale of misery. I gave himmoney, I don't know why, and he went away without thanking me. An hourlater another outcast approached and whined his story. I had a blank bitof paper in my pocket, on which was traced the Yellow Sign, and I handedit to him. He looked at it stupidly for a moment, and then with anuncertain glance at me, folded it with what seemed to me exaggeratedcare and placed it in his bosom.

The electric lights were sparkling among the trees, and the new moonshone in the sky above the Lethal Chamber. It was tiresome waiting inthe square; I wandered from the Marble Arch to the artillery stables andback again to the lotos fountain. The flowers and grass exhaled afragrance which troubled me. The jet of the fountain played in themoonlight, and the musical splash of falling drops reminded me of thetinkle of chained mail in Hawberk's shop. But it was not so fascinating,and the dull sparkle of the moonlight on the water brought no suchsensations of exquisite pleasure, as when the sunshine played over thepolished steel of a corselet on Hawberk's knee. I watched the batsdarting and turning above the water plants in the fountain basin, buttheir rapid, jerky flight set my nerves on edge, and I went away againto walk aimlessly to and fro among the trees.

The artillery stables were dark, but in the cavalry barracks theofficers' windows were brilliantly lighted, and the sallyport wasconstantly filled with troopers in fatigue, carrying straw and harnessand baskets filled with tin dishes.

Twice the mounted sentry at the gates was changed while I wandered upand down the asphalt walk. I looked at my watch. It was nearly time. Thelights in the barracks went out one by one, the barred gate was closed,and every minute or two an officer passed in through the side wicket,leaving a rattle of accoutrements and a jingle of spurs on the nightair. The square had become very silent. The last homeless loiterer hadbeen driven away by the grey-coated park policeman, the car tracks alongWooster Street were deserted, and the only sound which broke thestillness was the stamping of the sentry's horse and the ring of hissabre against the saddle pommel. In the barracks, the officers' quarterswere still lighted, and military servants passed and repassed before thebay windows. Twelve o'clock sounded from the new spire of St. FrancisXavier, and at the last stroke of the sad-toned bell a figure passedthrough the wicket beside the portcullis, returned the salute of thesentry, and crossing the street entered the square and advanced towardthe Benedick apartment house.

"Louis," I called.

The man pivoted on his spurred heels and came straight toward me.

"Is that you, Hildred?"

"Yes, you are on time."

I took his offered hand, and we strolled toward the Lethal Chamber.

He rattled on about his wedding and the graces of Constance, and theirfuture prospects, calling my attention to his captain's shoulder-straps,and the triple gold arabesque on his sleeve and fatigue cap. I believe Ilistened as much to the music of his spurs and sabre as I did to hisboyish babble, and at last we stood under the elms on the Fourth Streetcorner of the square opposite the Lethal Chamber. Then he laughed andasked me what I wanted with him. I motioned him to a seat on a benchunder the electric light, and sat down beside him. He looked at mecuriously, with that same searching glance which I hate and fear so indoctors. I felt the insult of his look, but he did not know it, and Icarefully concealed my feelings.

"Well, old chap," he inquired, "what can I do for you?"

I drew from my pocket the manuscript and notes of the Imperial Dynastyof America, and looking him in the eye said:

"I will tell you. On your word as a soldier, promise me to read thismanuscript from beginning to end, without asking me a question. Promiseme to read these notes in the same way, and promise me to listen to whatI have to tell later."

"I promise, if you wish it," he said pleasantly. "Give me the paper,Hildred."

He began to read, raising his eyebrows with a puzzled, whimsical air,which made me tremble with suppressed anger. As he advanced his,eyebrows contracted, and his lips seemed to form the word "rubbish."

Then he looked slightly bored, but apparently for my sake read, with anattempt at interest, which presently ceased to be an effort. He startedwhen in the closely written pages he came to his own name, and when hecame to mine he lowered the paper, and looked sharply at me for a moment.But he kept his word, and resumed his reading, and I let the half-formedquestion die on his lips unanswered. When he came to the end and readthe signature of Mr. Wilde, he folded the paper carefully and returnedit to me. I handed him the notes, and he settled back, pushing hisfatigue cap up to his forehead, with a boyish gesture, which Iremembered so well in school. I watched his face as he read, and when hefinished I took the notes with the manuscript, and placed them in mypocket. Then I unfolded a scroll marked with the Yellow Sign. He saw thesign, but he did not seem to recognize it, and I called his attention toit somewhat sharply.

"Well," he said, "I see it. What is it?"

"It is the Yellow Sign," I said angrily.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said Louis, in that flattering voice, whichDoctor Archer used to employ with me, and would probably have employedagain, had I not settled his affair for him.

I kept my rage down and answered as steadily as possible, "Listen, youhave engaged your word?"

"I am listening, old chap," he replied soothingly.

I began to speak very calmly.

"Dr. Archer, having by some means become possessed of the secret of theImperial Succession, attempted to deprive me of my right, alleging thatbecause of a fall from my horse four years ago, I had become mentallydeficient. He presumed to place me under restraint in his own house inhopes of either driving me insane or poisoning me. I have not forgottenit. I visited him last night and the interview was final."

Louis turned quite pale, but did not move. I resumed triumphantly,"There are yet three people to be interviewed in the interests of Mr.Wilde and myself. They are my cousin Louis, Mr. Hawberk, and hisdaughter Constance."

Louis sprang to his feet and I arose also, and flung the paper markedwith the Yellow Sign to the ground.

"Oh, I don't need that to tell you what I have to say," I cried, with alaugh of triumph. "You must renounce the crown to me, do you hear, tome."

Louis looked at me with a startled air, but recovering himself saidkindly, "Of course I renounce the—what is it I must renounce?"

"The crown," I said angrily.

"Of course," he answered, "I renounce it. Come, old chap, I'll walk backto your rooms with you."

"Don't try any of your doctor's tricks on me," I cried, trembling withfury. "Don't act as if you think I am insane."

"What nonsense," he replied. "Come, it's getting late, Hildred."

"No," I shouted, "you must listen. You cannot marry, I forbid it. Do youhear? I forbid it. You shall renounce the crown, and in reward I grantyou exile, but if you refuse you shall die."

He tried to calm me, but I was roused at last, and drawing my long knifebarred his way.

Then I told him how they would find Dr. Archer in the cellar with histhroat open, and I laughed in his face when I thought of Vance and hisknife, and the order signed by me.

"Ah, you are the King," I cried, "but I shall be King. Who are you tokeep me from Empire over all the habitable earth! I was born the cousinof a king, but I shall be King!"

Louis stood white and rigid before me. Suddenly a man came running upFourth Street, entered the gate of the Lethal Temple, traversed the pathto the bronze doors at full speed, and plunged into the death chamberwith the cry of one demented, and I laughed until I wept tears, for Ihad recognized Vance, and knew that Hawberk and his daughter were nolonger in my way.

"Go," I cried to Louis, "you have ceased to be a menace. You will nevermarry Constance now, and if you marry any one else in your exile, I willvisit you as I did my doctor last night. Mr. Wilde takes charge of youto-morrow." Then I turned and darted into South Fifth Avenue, and with acry of terror Louis dropped his belt and sabre and followed me like thewind. I heard him close behind me at the corner of Bleecker Street, andI dashed into the doorway under Hawberk's sign. He cried, "Halt, or Ifire!" but when he saw that I flew up the stairs leaving Hawberk's shopbelow, he left me, and I heard him hammering and shouting at their dooras though it were possible to arouse the dead.

Mr. Wilde's door was open, and I entered crying, "It is done, it isdone! Let the nations rise and look upon their King!" but I could notfind Mr. Wilde, so I went to the cabinet and took the splendid diademfrom its case. Then I drew on the white silk robe, embroidered with theYellow Sign, and placed the crown upon my head. At last I was King, Kingby my right in Hastur, King because I knew the mystery of the Hyades,and my mind had sounded the depths of the Lake of Hali. I was King! Thefirst grey pencillings of dawn would raise a tempest which would shaketwo hemispheres. Then as I stood, my every nerve pitched to the highesttension, faint with the joy and splendour of my thought, without, in thedark passage, a man groaned.

I seized the tallow dip and sprang to the door. The cat passed me like ademon, and the tallow dip went out, but my long knife flew swifter thanshe, and I heard her screech, and I knew that my knife had found her.For a moment I listened to her tumbling and thumping about in thedarkness, and then when her frenzy ceased, I lighted a lamp and raisedit over my head. Mr. Wilde lay on the floor with his throat torn open.At first I thought he was dead, but as I looked, a green sparkle cameinto his sunken eyes, his mutilated hand trembled, and then a spasmstretched his mouth from ear to ear. For a moment my terror and despairgave place to hope, but as I bent over him his eyeballs rolled cleanaround in his head, and he died. Then while I stood, transfixed withrage and despair, seeing my crown, my empire, every hope and everyambition, my very life, lying prostrate there with the dead master,they came, seized me from behind, and bound me until my veins stoodout like cords, and my voice failed with the paroxysms of my frenziedscreams. But I still raged, bleeding and infuriated among them, and morethan one policeman felt my sharp teeth. Then when I could no longer movethey came nearer; I saw old Hawberk, and behind him my cousin Louis'ghastly face, and farther away, in the corner, a woman, Constance,weeping softly.

"Ah! I see it now!" I shrieked. "You have seized the throne and theempire. Woe! woe to you who are crowned with the crown of the King inYellow!"

[EDITOR'S NOTE.—Mr. Castaigne died yesterday in the Asylum for CriminalInsane.]

THE MASK

Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.
Stranger: Indeed?
Cassilda: Indeed it's time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
Stranger: I wear no mask.
Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!
The King in Yellow, Act I, Scene 2.

I

Although I knew nothing of chemistry, I listened fascinated. He pickedup an Easter lily which Geneviève had brought that morning from NotreDame, and dropped it into the basin. Instantly the liquid lost itscrystalline clearness. For a second the lily was enveloped in amilk-white foam, which disappeared, leaving the fluid opalescent.Changing tints of orange and crimson played over the surface, and thenwhat seemed to be a ray of pure sunlight struck through from the bottomwhere the lily was resting. At the same instant he plunged his hand intothe basin and drew out the flower. "There is no danger," he explained,"if you choose the right moment. That golden ray is the signal."

He held the lily toward me, and I took it in my hand. It had turned tostone, to the purest marble.

"You see," he said, "it is without a flaw. What sculptor could reproduceit?"

The marble was white as snow, but in its depths the veins of the lilywere tinged with palest azure, and a faint flush lingered deep in itsheart.

"Don't ask me the reason of that," he smiled, noticing my wonder. "Ihave no idea why the veins and heart are tinted, but they always are.Yesterday I tried one of Geneviève's gold-fish,—there it is."

The fish looked as if sculptured in marble. But if you held it to thelight the stone was beautifully veined with a faint blue, and fromsomewhere within came a rosy light like the tint which slumbers in anopal. I looked into the basin. Once more it seemed filled with clearestcrystal.

"If I should touch it now?" I demanded.

"I don't know," he replied, "but you had better not try."

"There is one thing I'm curious about," I said, "and that is where theray of sunlight came from."

"It looked like a sunbeam true enough," he said. "I don't know, italways comes when I immerse any living thing. Perhaps," he continued,smiling, "perhaps it is the vital spark of the creature escaping to thesource from whence it came."

I saw he was mocking, and threatened him with a mahl-stick, but he onlylaughed and changed the subject.

"Stay to lunch. Geneviève will be here directly."

"I saw her going to early mass," I said, "and she looked as fresh andsweet as that lily—before you destroyed it."

"Do you think I destroyed it?" said Boris gravely.

"Destroyed, preserved, how can we tell?"

We sat in the corner of a studio near his unfinished group of the"Fates." He leaned back on the sofa, twirling a sculptor's chisel andsquinting at his work.

"By the way," he said, "I have finished pointing up that old academicAriadne, and I suppose it will have to go to the Salon. It's all I haveready this year, but after the success the 'Madonna' brought me I feelashamed to send a thing like that."

The "Madonna," an exquisite marble for which Geneviève had sat, had beenthe sensation of last year's Salon. I looked at the Ariadne. It was amagnificent piece of technical work, but I agreed with Boris that theworld would expect something better of him than that. Still, it wasimpossible now to think of finishing in time for the Salon that splendidterrible group half shrouded in the marble behind me. The "Fates" wouldhave to wait.

We were proud of Boris Yvain. We claimed him and he claimed us on thestrength of his having been born in America, although his father wasFrench and his mother was a Russian. Every one in the Beaux Arts calledhim Boris. And yet there were only two of us whom he addressed in thesame familiar way—Jack Scott and myself.

Perhaps my being in love with Geneviève had something to do with hisaffection for me. Not that it had ever been acknowledged between us. Butafter all was settled, and she had told me with tears in her eyes thatit was Boris whom she loved, I went over to his house and congratulatedhim. The perfect cordiality of that interview did not deceive either ofus, I always believed, although to one at least it was a great comfort.I do not think he and Geneviève ever spoke of the matter together, butBoris knew.

Geneviève was lovely. The Madonna-like purity of her face might havebeen inspired by the Sanctus in Gounod's Mass. But I was always gladwhen she changed that mood for what we called her "April Manœuvres."She was often as variable as an April day. In the morning grave,dignified and sweet, at noon laughing, capricious, at evening whateverone least expected. I preferred her so rather than in that Madonna-liketranquillity which stirred the depths of my heart. I was dreaming ofGeneviève when he spoke again.

"What do you think of my discovery, Alec?"

"I think it wonderful."

"I shall make no use of it, you know, beyond satisfying my own curiosityso far as may be, and the secret will die with me."

"It would be rather a blow to sculpture, would it not? We painters losemore than we ever gain by photography."

Boris nodded, playing with the edge of the chisel.

"This new vicious discovery would corrupt the world of art. No, I shallnever confide the secret to any one," he said slowly.

It would be hard to find any one less informed about such phenomena thanmyself; but of course I had heard of mineral springs so saturated withsilica that the leaves and twigs which fell into them were turned tostone after a time. I dimly comprehended the process, how the silicareplaced the vegetable matter, atom by atom, and the result was aduplicate of the object in stone. This, I confess, had never interestedme greatly, and as for the ancient fossils thus produced, they disgustedme. Boris, it appeared, feeling curiosity instead of repugnance, hadinvestigated the subject, and had accidentally stumbled on a solutionwhich, attacking the immersed object with a ferocity unheard of, in asecond did the work of years. This was all I could make out of thestrange story he had just been telling me. He spoke again after a longsilence.

"I am almost frightened when I think what I have found. Scientists wouldgo mad over the discovery. It was so simple too; it discovered itself.When I think of that formula, and that new element precipitated inmetallic scales—"

"What new element?"

"Oh, I haven't thought of naming it, and I don't believe I ever shall.There are enough precious metals now in the world to cut throats over."

I pricked up my ears. "Have you struck gold, Boris?"

"No, better;—but see here, Alec!" he laughed, starting up. "You and Ihave all we need in this world. Ah! how sinister and covetous you lookalready!" I laughed too, and told him I was devoured by the desire forgold, and we had better talk of something else; so when Geneviève camein shortly after, we had turned our backs on alchemy.

Geneviève was dressed in silvery grey from head to foot. The lightglinted along the soft curves of her fair hair as she turned her cheekto Boris; then she saw me and returned my greeting. She had never beforefailed to blow me a kiss from the tips of her white fingers, and Ipromptly complained of the omission. She smiled and held out her hand,which dropped almost before it had touched mine; then she said, lookingat Boris—

"You must ask Alec to stay for luncheon." This also was something new.She had always asked me herself until to-day.

"I did," said Boris shortly.

"And you said yes, I hope?" She turned to me with a charmingconventional smile. I might have been an acquaintance of the day beforeyesterday. I made her a low bow. "J'avais bien l'honneur, madame," butrefusing to take up our usual bantering tone, she murmured a hospitablecommonplace and disappeared. Boris and I looked at one another.

"I had better go home, don't you think?" I asked.

"Hanged if I know," he replied frankly.

While we were discussing the advisability of my departure Genevièvereappeared in the doorway without her bonnet. She was wonderfullybeautiful, but her colour was too deep and her lovely eyes were toobright. She came straight up to me and took my arm.

"Luncheon is ready. Was I cross, Alec? I thought I had a headache, but Ihaven't. Come here, Boris;" and she slipped her other arm through his."Alec knows that after you there is no one in the world whom I like aswell as I like him, so if he sometimes feels snubbed it won't hurt him."

"À la bonheur!" I cried, "who says there are no thunderstorms in April?"

"Are you ready?" chanted Boris. "Aye ready;" and arm-in-arm we racedinto the dining-room, scandalizing the servants. After all we were notso much to blame; Geneviève was eighteen, Boris was twenty-three, and Inot quite twenty-one.

II

Some work that I was doing about this time on the decorations forGeneviève's boudoir kept me constantly at the quaint little hotel in theRue Sainte-Cécile. Boris and I in those days laboured hard but as wepleased, which was fitfully, and we all three, with Jack Scott, idled agreat deal together.

One quiet afternoon I had been wandering alone over the house examiningcurios, prying into odd corners, bringing out sweetmeats and cigars fromstrange hiding-places, and at last I stopped in the bathing-room. Boris,all over clay, stood there washing his hands.

The room was built of rose-coloured marble excepting the floor, whichwas tessellated in rose and grey. In the centre was a square pool sunkenbelow the surface of the floor; steps led down into it, sculpturedpillars supported a frescoed ceiling. A delicious marble Cupid appearedto have just alighted on his pedestal at the upper end of the room. Thewhole interior was Boris' work and mine. Boris, in his working-clothesof white canvas, scraped the traces of clay and red modelling wax fromhis handsome hands, and coquetted over his shoulder with the Cupid.

"I see you," he insisted, "don't try to look the other way and pretendnot to see me. You know who made you, little humbug!"

It was always my rôle to interpret Cupid's sentiments in theseconversations, and when my turn came I responded in such a manner, thatBoris seized my arm and dragged me toward the pool, declaring he wouldduck me. Next instant he dropped my arm and turned pale. "Good God!" hesaid, "I forgot the pool is full of the solution!"

I shivered a little, and dryly advised him to remember better where hehad stored the precious liquid.

"In Heaven's name, why do you keep a small lake of that gruesome stuffhere of all places?" I asked.

"I want to experiment on something large," he replied.

"On me, for instance?"

"Ah! that came too close for jesting; but I do want to watch the actionof that solution on a more highly organized living body; there is thatbig white rabbit," he said, following me into the studio.

Jack Scott, wearing a paint-stained jacket, came wandering in,appropriated all the Oriental sweetmeats he could lay his hands on,looted the cigarette case, and finally he and Boris disappeared togetherto visit the Luxembourg Gallery, where a new silver bronze by Rodin anda landscape of Monet's were claiming the exclusive attention of artisticFrance. I went back to the studio, and resumed my work. It was aRenaissance screen, which Boris wanted me to paint for Geneviève'sboudoir. But the small boy who was unwillingly dawdling through a seriesof poses for it, to-day refused all bribes to be good. He never restedan instant in the same position, and inside of five minutes I had asmany different outlines of the little beggar.

"Are you posing, or are you executing a song and dance, my friend?" Iinquired.

"Whichever monsieur pleases," he replied, with an angelic smile.

Of course I dismissed him for the day, and of course I paid him for thefull time, that being the way we spoil our models.

After the young imp had gone, I made a few perfunctory daubs at my work,but was so thoroughly out of humour, that it took me the rest of theafternoon to undo the damage I had done, so at last I scraped mypalette, stuck my brushes in a bowl of black soap, and strolled into thesmoking-room. I really believe that, excepting Geneviève's apartments,no room in the house was so free from the perfume of tobacco as thisone. It was a queer chaos of odds and ends, hung with threadbaretapestry. A sweet-toned old spinet in good repair stood by the window.There were stands of weapons, some old and dull, others bright andmodern, festoons of Indian and Turkish armour over the mantel, two orthree good pictures, and a pipe-rack. It was here that we used to comefor new sensations in smoking. I doubt if any type of pipe ever existedwhich was not represented in that rack. When we had selected one, weimmediately carried it somewhere else and smoked it; for the place was,on the whole, more gloomy and less inviting than any in the house. Butthis afternoon, the twilight was very soothing, the rugs and skins onthe floor looked brown and soft and drowsy; the big couch was piled withcushions—I found my pipe and curled up there for an unaccustomed smokein the smoking-room. I had chosen one with a long flexible stem, andlighting it fell to dreaming. After a while it went out, but I did notstir. I dreamed on and presently fell asleep.

I awoke to the saddest music I had ever heard. The room was quite dark,I had no idea what time it was. A ray of moonlight silvered one edge ofthe old spinet, and the polished wood seemed to exhale the sounds asperfume floats above a box of sandalwood. Some one rose in the darkness,and came away weeping quietly, and I was fool enough to cry out"Geneviève!"

She dropped at my voice, and, I had time to curse myself while I made alight and tried to raise her from the floor. She shrank away with amurmur of pain. She was very quiet, and asked for Boris. I carried herto the divan, and went to look for him, but he was not in the house, andthe servants were gone to bed. Perplexed and anxious, I hurried back toGeneviève. She lay where I had left her, looking very white.

"I can't find Boris nor any of the servants," I said.

"I know," she answered faintly, "Boris has gone to Ept with Mr. Scott. Idid not remember when I sent you for him just now."

"But he can't get back in that case before to-morrow afternoon, and—areyou hurt? Did I frighten you into falling? What an awful fool I am, butI was only half awake."

"Boris thought you had gone home before dinner. Do please excuse us forletting you stay here all this time."

"I have had a long nap," I laughed, "so sound that I did not knowwhether I was still asleep or not when I found myself staring at afigure that was moving toward me, and called out your name. Have youbeen trying the old spinet? You must have played very softly."

I would tell a thousand more lies worse than that one to see the look ofrelief that came into her face. She smiled adorably, and said in hernatural voice: "Alec, I tripped on that wolf's head, and I think myankle is sprained. Please call Marie, and then go home."

I did as she bade me, and left her there when the maid came in.

III

At noon next day when I called, I found Boris walking restlessly abouthis studio.

"Geneviève is asleep just now," he told me, "the sprain is nothing, butwhy should she have such a high fever? The doctor can't account for it;or else he will not," he muttered.

"Geneviève has a fever?" I asked.

"I should say so, and has actually been a little light-headed atintervals all night. The idea!—gay little Geneviève, without a care inthe world,—and she keeps saying her heart's broken, and she wants todie!"

My own heart stood still.

Boris leaned against the door of his studio, looking down, his hands inhis pockets, his kind, keen eyes clouded, a new line of trouble drawn"over the mouth's good mark, that made the smile." The maid had ordersto summon him the instant Geneviève opened her eyes. We waited andwaited, and Boris, growing restless, wandered about, fussing withmodelling wax and red clay. Suddenly he started for the next room. "Comeand see my rose-coloured bath full of death!" he cried.

"Is it death?" I asked, to humour his mood.

"You are not prepared to call it life, I suppose," he answered. As hespoke he plucked a solitary gold-fish squirming and twisting out of itsglobe. "We'll send this one after the other—wherever that is," he said.There was feverish excitement in his voice. A dull weight of fever layon my limbs and on my brain as I followed him to the fair crystal poolwith its pink-tinted sides; and he dropped the creature in. Falling, itsscales flashed with a hot orange gleam in its angry twistings andcontortions; the moment it struck the liquid it became rigid and sankheavily to the bottom. Then came the milky foam, the splendid huesradiating on the surface and then the shaft of pure serene light brokethrough from seemingly infinite depths. Boris plunged in his hand anddrew out an exquisite marble thing, blue-veined, rose-tinted, andglistening with opalescent drops.

"Child's play," he muttered, and looked wearily, longingly at me,—as ifI could answer such questions! But Jack Scott came in and entered intothe "game," as he called it, with ardour. Nothing would do but to trythe experiment on the white rabbit then and there. I was willing thatBoris should find distraction from his cares, but I hated to see thelife go out of a warm, living creature and I declined to be present.Picking up a book at random, I sat down in the studio to read. Alas! Ihad found The King in Yellow. After a few moments, which seemed ages,I was putting it away with a nervous shudder, when Boris and Jack camein bringing their marble rabbit. At the same time the bell rang above,and a cry came from the sick-room. Boris was gone like a flash, and thenext moment he called, "Jack, run for the doctor; bring him back withyou. Alec, come here."

I went and stood at her door. A frightened maid came out in haste andran away to fetch some remedy. Geneviève, sitting bolt upright, withcrimson cheeks and glittering eyes, babbled incessantly and resistedBoris' gentle restraint. He called me to help. At my first touch shesighed and sank back, closing her eyes, and then—then—as we still bentabove her, she opened them again, looked straight into Boris' face—poorfever-crazed girl!—and told her secret. At the same instant our threelives turned into new channels; the bond that held us so long togethersnapped for ever and a new bond was forged in its place, for she hadspoken my name, and as the fever tortured her, her heart poured out itsload of hidden sorrow. Amazed and dumb I bowed my head, while my faceburned like a live coal, and the blood surged in my ears, stupefying mewith its clamour. Incapable of movement, incapable of speech, I listenedto her feverish words in an agony of shame and sorrow. I could notsilence her, I could not look at Boris. Then I felt an arm upon myshoulder, and Boris turned a bloodless face to mine.

"It is not your fault, Alec; don't grieve so if she loves you—" but hecould not finish; and as the doctor stepped swiftly into the room,saying—"Ah, the fever!" I seized Jack Scott and hurried him to thestreet, saying, "Boris would rather be alone." We crossed the street toour own apartments, and that night, seeing I was going to be ill too, hewent for the doctor again. The last thing I recollect with anydistinctness was hearing Jack say, "For Heaven's sake, doctor, what ailshim, to wear a face like that?" and I thought of The King in Yellowand the Pallid Mask.

I was very ill, for the strain of two years which I had endured sincethat fatal May morning when Geneviève murmured, "I love you, but I thinkI love Boris best," told on me at last. I had never imagined that itcould become more than I could endure. Outwardly tranquil, I haddeceived myself. Although the inward battle raged night after night, andI, lying alone in my room, cursed myself for rebellious thoughts unloyalto Boris and unworthy of Geneviève, the morning always brought relief,and I returned to Geneviève and to my dear Boris with a heart washedclean by the tempests of the night.

Never in word or deed or thought while with them had I betrayed mysorrow even to myself.

The mask of self-deception was no longer a mask for me, it was a part ofme. Night lifted it, laying bare the stifled truth below; but there wasno one to see except myself, and when the day broke the mask fell backagain of its own accord. These thoughts passed through my troubled mindas I lay sick, but they were hopelessly entangled with visions of whitecreatures, heavy as stone, crawling about in Boris' basin,—of thewolf's head on the rug, foaming and snapping at Geneviève, who laysmiling beside it. I thought, too, of the King in Yellow wrapped in thefantastic colours of his tattered mantle, and that bitter cry ofCassilda, "Not upon us, oh King, not upon us!" Feverishly I struggled toput it from me, but I saw the lake of Hali, thin and blank, without aripple or wind to stir it, and I saw the towers of Carcosa behind themoon. Aldebaran, the Hyades, Alar, Hastur, glided through thecloud-rifts which fluttered and flapped as they passed like thescolloped tatters of the King in Yellow. Among all these, one sanethought persisted. It never wavered, no matter what else was going on inmy disordered mind, that my chief reason for existing was to meet somerequirement of Boris and Geneviève. What this obligation was, itsnature, was never clear; sometimes it seemed to be protection, sometimessupport, through a great crisis. Whatever it seemed to be for the time,its weight rested only on me, and I was never so ill or so weak that Idid not respond with my whole soul. There were always crowds of facesabout me, mostly strange, but a few I recognized, Boris among them.Afterward they told me that this could not have been, but I know thatonce at least he bent over me. It was only a touch, a faint echo of hisvoice, then the clouds settled back on my senses, and I lost him, but hedid stand there and bend over me once at least.

At last, one morning I awoke to find the sunlight falling across my bed,and Jack Scott reading beside me. I had not strength enough to speakaloud, neither could I think, much less remember, but I could smilefeebly, as Jack's eye met mine, and when he jumped up and asked eagerlyif I wanted anything, I could whisper, "Yes—Boris." Jack moved to thehead of my bed, and leaned down to arrange my pillow: I did not see hisface, but he answered heartily, "You must wait, Alec; you are too weakto see even Boris."

I waited and I grew strong; in a few days I was able to see whom Iwould, but meanwhile I had thought and remembered. From the moment whenall the past grew clear again in my mind, I never doubted what I shoulddo when the time came, and I felt sure that Boris would have resolvedupon the same course so far as he was concerned; as for what pertainedto me alone, I knew he would see that also as I did. I no longer askedfor any one. I never inquired why no message came from them; why duringthe week I lay there, waiting and growing stronger, I never heard theirname spoken. Preoccupied with my own searchings for the right way, andwith my feeble but determined fight against despair, I simply acquiescedin Jack's reticence, taking for granted that he was afraid to speak ofthem, lest I should turn unruly and insist on seeing them. Meanwhile Isaid over and over to myself, how would it be when life began again forus all? We would take up our relations exactly as they were beforeGeneviève fell ill. Boris and I would look into each other's eyes, andthere would be neither rancour nor cowardice nor mistrust in thatglance. I would be with them again for a little while in the dearintimacy of their home, and then, without pretext or explanation, Iwould disappear from their lives for ever. Boris would know;Geneviève—the only comfort was that she would never know. It seemed, asI thought it over, that I had found the meaning of that sense ofobligation which had persisted all through my delirium, and the onlypossible answer to it. So, when I was quite ready, I beckoned Jack to meone day, and said—

"Jack, I want Boris at once; and take my dearest greeting toGeneviève...."

When at last he made me understand that they were both dead, I fell intoa wild rage that tore all my little convalescent strength to atoms. Iraved and cursed myself into a relapse, from which I crawled forth someweeks afterward a boy of twenty-one who believed that his youth was gonefor ever. I seemed to be past the capability of further suffering, andone day when Jack handed me a letter and the keys to Boris' house, Itook them without a tremor and asked him to tell me all. It was cruel ofme to ask him, but there was no help for it, and he leaned wearily onhis thin hands, to reopen the wound which could never entirely heal. Hebegan very quietly—

"Alec, unless you have a clue that I know nothing about, you will not beable to explain any more than I what has happened. I suspect that youwould rather not hear these details, but you must learn them, else Iwould spare you the relation. God knows I wish I could be spared thetelling. I shall use few words.

"That day when I left you in the doctor's care and came back to Boris, Ifound him working on the 'Fates.' Geneviève, he said, was sleeping underthe influence of drugs. She had been quite out of her mind, he said. Hekept on working, not talking any more, and I watched him. Before long, Isaw that the third figure of the group—the one looking straight ahead,out over the world—bore his face; not as you ever saw it, but as itlooked then and to the end. This is one thing for which I should like tofind an explanation, but I never shall.

"Well, he worked and I watched him in silence, and we went on that wayuntil nearly midnight. Then we heard the door open and shut sharply, anda swift rush in the next room. Boris sprang through the doorway and Ifollowed; but we were too late. She lay at the bottom of the pool, herhands across her breast. Then Boris shot himself through the heart."Jack stopped speaking, drops of sweat stood under his eyes, and his thincheeks twitched. "I carried Boris to his room. Then I went back and letthat hellish fluid out of the pool, and turning on all the water, washedthe marble clean of every drop. When at length I dared descend thesteps, I found her lying there as white as snow. At last, when I haddecided what was best to do, I went into the laboratory, and firstemptied the solution in the basin into the waste-pipe; then I poured thecontents of every jar and bottle after it. There was wood in thefireplace, so I built a fire, and breaking the locks of Boris' cabinetI burnt every paper, notebook and letter that I found there. With amallet from the studio I smashed to pieces all the empty bottles, thenloading them into a coal-scuttle, I carried them to the cellar and threwthem over the red-hot bed of the furnace. Six times I made the journey,and at last, not a vestige remained of anything which might again aid inseeking for the formula which Boris had found. Then at last I dared callthe doctor. He is a good man, and together we struggled to keep it fromthe public. Without him I never could have succeeded. At last we got theservants paid and sent away into the country, where old Rosier keepsthem quiet with stories of Boris' and Geneviève's travels in distantlands, from whence they will not return for years. We buried Boris inthe little cemetery of Sèvres. The doctor is a good creature, and knowswhen to pity a man who can bear no more. He gave his certificate ofheart disease and asked no questions of me."

Then, lifting his head from his hands, he said, "Open the letter, Alec;it is for us both."

I tore it open. It was Boris' will dated a year before. He lefteverything to Geneviève, and in case of her dying childless, I was totake control of the house in the Rue Sainte-Cécile, and Jack Scott themanagement at Ept. On our deaths the property reverted to his mother'sfamily in Russia, with the exception of the sculptured marbles executedby himself. These he left to me.

The page blurred under our eyes, and Jack got up and walked to thewindow. Presently he returned and sat down again. I dreaded to hear whathe was going to say, but he spoke with the same simplicity andgentleness.

"Geneviève lies before the Madonna in the marble room. The Madonna bendstenderly above her, and Geneviève smiles back into that calm face thatnever would have been except for her."

His voice broke, but he grasped my hand, saying, "Courage, Alec." Nextmorning he left for Ept to fulfil his trust.

IV

The same evening I took the keys and went into the house I had known sowell. Everything was in order, but the silence was terrible. Though Iwent twice to the door of the marble room, I could not force myself toenter. It was beyond my strength. I went into the smoking-room and satdown before the spinet. A small lace handkerchief lay on the keys, and Iturned away, choking. It was plain I could not stay, so I locked everydoor, every window, and the three front and back gates, and went away.Next morning Alcide packed my valise, and leaving him in charge of myapartments I took the Orient express for Constantinople. During the twoyears that I wandered through the East, at first, in our letters, wenever mentioned Geneviève and Boris, but gradually their names crept in.I recollect particularly a passage in one of Jack's letters replying toone of mine—

"What you tell me of seeing Boris bending over you while you lay ill,and feeling his touch on your face, and hearing his voice, of coursetroubles me. This that you describe must have happened a fortnight afterhe died. I say to myself that you were dreaming, that it was part ofyour delirium, but the explanation does not satisfy me, nor would ityou."

Toward the end of the second year a letter came from Jack to me in Indiaso unlike anything that I had ever known of him that I decided to returnat once to Paris. He wrote: "I am well, and sell all my pictures asartists do who have no need of money. I have not a care of my own, but Iam more restless than if I had. I am unable to shake off a strangeanxiety about you. It is not apprehension, it is rather a breathlessexpectancy—of what, God knows! I can only say it is wearing me out.Nights I dream always of you and Boris. I can never recall anythingafterward, but I wake in the morning with my heart beating, and all daythe excitement increases until I fall asleep at night to recall the sameexperience. I am quite exhausted by it, and have determined to break upthis morbid condition. I must see you. Shall I go to Bombay, or will youcome to Paris?"

I telegraphed him to expect me by the next steamer.

When we met I thought he had changed very little; I, he insisted, lookedin splendid health. It was good to hear his voice again, and as we satand chatted about what life still held for us, we felt that it waspleasant to be alive in the bright spring weather.

We stayed in Paris together a week, and then I went for a week to Eptwith him, but first of all we went to the cemetery at Sèvres, whereBoris lay.

"Shall we place the 'Fates' in the little grove above him?" Jack asked,and I answered—

"I think only the 'Madonna' should watch over Boris' grave." But Jackwas none the better for my home-coming. The dreams of which he could notretain even the least definite outline continued, and he said that attimes the sense of breathless expectancy was suffocating.

"You see I do you harm and not good," I said. "Try a change without me."So he started alone for a ramble among the Channel Islands, and I wentback to Paris. I had not yet entered Boris' house, now mine, since myreturn, but I knew it must be done. It had been kept in order by Jack;there were servants there, so I gave up my own apartment and went thereto live. Instead of the agitation I had feared, I found myself able topaint there tranquilly. I visited all the rooms—all but one. I couldnot bring myself to enter the marble room where Geneviève lay, and yet Ifelt the longing growing daily to look upon her face, to kneel besideher.

One April afternoon, I lay dreaming in the smoking-room, just as I hadlain two years before, and mechanically I looked among the tawny Easternrugs for the wolf-skin. At last I distinguished the pointed ears andflat cruel head, and I thought of my dream where I saw Geneviève lyingbeside it. The helmets still hung against the threadbare tapestry, amongthem the old Spanish morion which I remembered Geneviève had once put onwhen we were amusing ourselves with the ancient bits of mail. I turnedmy eyes to the spinet; every yellow key seemed eloquent of her caressinghand, and I rose, drawn by the strength of my life's passion to thesealed door of the marble room. The heavy doors swung inward under mytrembling hands. Sunlight poured through the window, tipping with goldthe wings of Cupid, and lingered like a nimbus over the brows of theMadonna. Her tender face bent in compassion over a marble form soexquisitely pure that I knelt and signed myself. Geneviève lay in theshadow under the Madonna, and yet, through her white arms, I saw thepale azure vein, and beneath her softly clasped hands the folds of herdress were tinged with rose, as if from some faint warm light within herbreast.

Bending, with a breaking heart, I touched the marble drapery with mylips, then crept back into the silent house.

A maid came and brought me a letter, and I sat down in the littleconservatory to read it; but as I was about to break the seal, seeingthe girl lingering, I asked her what she wanted.

She stammered something about a white rabbit that had been caught in thehouse, and asked what should be done with it. I told her to let it loosein the walled garden behind the house, and opened my letter. It was fromJack, but so incoherent that I thought he must have lost his reason. Itwas nothing but a series of prayers to me not to leave the house untilhe could get back; he could not tell me why, there were the dreams, hesaid—he could explain nothing, but he was sure that I must not leavethe house in the Rue Sainte-Cécile.

As I finished reading I raised my eyes and saw the same maid-servantstanding in the doorway holding a glass dish in which two gold-fish wereswimming: "Put them back into the tank and tell me what you mean byinterrupting me," I said.

With a half-suppressed whimper she emptied water and fish into anaquarium at the end of the conservatory, and turning to me asked mypermission to leave my service. She said people were playing tricks onher, evidently with a design of getting her into trouble; the marblerabbit had been stolen and a live one had been brought into the house;the two beautiful marble fish were gone, and she had just found thosecommon live things flopping on the dining-room floor. I reassured herand sent her away, saying I would look about myself. I went into thestudio; there was nothing there but my canvases and some casts, exceptthe marble of the Easter lily. I saw it on a table across the room. ThenI strode angrily over to it. But the flower I lifted from the table wasfresh and fragile and filled the air with perfume.

Then suddenly I comprehended, and sprang through the hallway to themarble room. The doors flew open, the sunlight streamed into my face,and through it, in a heavenly glory, the Madonna smiled, as Genevièvelifted her flushed face from her marble couch and opened her sleepyeyes.

IN THE COURT OF THE DRAGON

"Oh, thou who burn'st in heart for those who burn
In Hell, whose fires thyself shall feed in turn;
How long be crying—'Mercy on them.' God!
Why, who art thou to teach and He to learn?"

In the Church of St. Barnabé vespers were over; the clergy left thealtar; the little choir-boys flocked across the chancel and settled inthe stalls. A Suisse in rich uniform marched down the south aisle,sounding his staff at every fourth step on the stone pavement; behindhim came that eloquent preacher and good man, Monseigneur C——.

My chair was near the chancel rail, I now turned toward the west end ofthe church. The other people between the altar and the pulpit turnedtoo. There was a little scraping and rustling while the congregationseated itself again; the preacher mounted the pulpit stairs, and theorgan voluntary ceased.

(Video) The King In Yellow - Videobook 🎧 Audiobook with Scrolling Text 📖

I had always found the organ-playing at St. Barnabé highly interesting.Learned and scientific it was, too much so for my small knowledge, butexpressing a vivid if cold intelligence. Moreover, it possessed theFrench quality of taste: taste reigned supreme, self-controlled,dignified and reticent.

To-day, however, from the first chord I had felt a change for the worse,a sinister change. During vespers it had been chiefly the chancel organwhich supported the beautiful choir, but now and again, quite wantonlyas it seemed, from the west gallery where the great organ stands, aheavy hand had struck across the church at the serene peace of thoseclear voices. It was something more than harsh and dissonant, and itbetrayed no lack of skill. As it recurred again and again, it set methinking of what my architect's books say about the custom in earlytimes to consecrate the choir as soon as it was built, and that thenave, being finished sometimes half a century later, often did not getany blessing at all: I wondered idly if that had been the case at St.Barnabé, and whether something not usually supposed to be at home in aChristian church might have entered undetected and taken possession ofthe west gallery. I had read of such things happening, too, but not inworks on architecture.

Then I remembered that St. Barnabé was not much more than a hundredyears old, and smiled at the incongruous association of mediaevalsuperstitions with that cheerful little piece of eighteenth-centuryrococo.

But now vespers were over, and there should have followed a few quietchords, fit to accompany meditation, while we waited for the sermon.Instead of that, the discord at the lower end of the church broke outwith the departure of the clergy, as if now nothing could control it.

I belong to those children of an older and simpler generation who do notlove to seek for psychological subtleties in art; and I have everrefused to find in music anything more than melody and harmony, but Ifelt that in the labyrinth of sounds now issuing from that instrumentthere was something being hunted. Up and down the pedals chased him,while the manuals blared approval. Poor devil! whoever he was, thereseemed small hope of escape!

My nervous annoyance changed to anger. Who was doing this? How dare heplay like that in the midst of divine service? I glanced at the peoplenear me: not one appeared to be in the least disturbed. The placid browsof the kneeling nuns, still turned towards the altar, lost none of theirdevout abstraction under the pale shadow of their white head-dress. Thefashionable lady beside me was looking expectantly at Monseigneur C——.For all her face betrayed, the organ might have been singing an AveMaria.

But now, at last, the preacher had made the sign of the cross, andcommanded silence. I turned to him gladly. Thus far I had not found therest I had counted on when I entered St. Barnabé that afternoon.

I was worn out by three nights of physical suffering and mental trouble:the last had been the worst, and it was an exhausted body, and a mindbenumbed and yet acutely sensitive, which I had brought to my favouritechurch for healing. For I had been reading The King in Yellow.

"The sun ariseth; they gather themselves together and lay them down intheir dens." Monseigneur C—— delivered his text in a calm voice,glancing quietly over the congregation. My eyes turned, I knew not why,toward the lower end of the church. The organist was coming from behindhis pipes, and passing along the gallery on his way out, I saw himdisappear by a small door that leads to some stairs which descenddirectly to the street. He was a slender man, and his face was as whiteas his coat was black. "Good riddance!" I thought, "with your wickedmusic! I hope your assistant will play the closing voluntary."

With a feeling of relief—with a deep, calm feeling of relief, I turnedback to the mild face in the pulpit and settled myself to listen. Here,at last, was the ease of mind I longed for.

"My children," said the preacher, "one truth the human soul findshardest of all to learn: that it has nothing to fear. It can never bemade to see that nothing can really harm it."

"Curious doctrine!" I thought, "for a Catholic priest. Let us see how hewill reconcile that with the Fathers."

"Nothing can really harm the soul," he went on, in, his coolest,clearest tones, "because——"

But I never heard the rest; my eye left his face, I knew not for whatreason, and sought the lower end of the church. The same man was comingout from behind the organ, and was passing along the gallery the sameway. But there had not been time for him to return, and if he hadreturned, I must have seen him. I felt a faint chill, and my heart sank;and yet, his going and coming were no affair of mine. I looked at him: Icould not look away from his black figure and his white face. When hewas exactly opposite to me, he turned and sent across the churchstraight into my eyes, a look of hate, intense and deadly: I have neverseen any other like it; would to God I might never see it again! Then hedisappeared by the same door through which I had watched him depart lessthan sixty seconds before.

I sat and tried to collect my thoughts. My first sensation was like thatof a very young child badly hurt, when it catches its breath beforecrying out.

To suddenly find myself the object of such hatred was exquisitelypainful: and this man was an utter stranger. Why should he hate meso?—me, whom he had never seen before? For the moment all othersensation was merged in this one pang: even fear was subordinate togrief, and for that moment I never doubted; but in the next I began toreason, and a sense of the incongruous came to my aid.

As I have said, St. Barnabé is a modern church. It is small and welllighted; one sees all over it almost at a glance. The organ gallery getsa strong white light from a row of long windows in the clerestory, whichhave not even coloured glass.

The pulpit being in the middle of the church, it followed that, when Iwas turned toward it, whatever moved at the west end could not fail toattract my eye. When the organist passed it was no wonder that I sawhim: I had simply miscalculated the interval between his first and hissecond passing. He had come in that last time by the other side-door. Asfor the look which had so upset me, there had been no such thing, and Iwas a nervous fool.

I looked about. This was a likely place to harbour supernatural horrors!That clear-cut, reasonable face of Monseigneur C——, his collectedmanner and easy, graceful gestures, were they not just a littlediscouraging to the notion of a gruesome mystery? I glanced above hishead, and almost laughed. That flyaway lady supporting one corner of thepulpit canopy, which looked like a fringed damask table-cloth in a highwind, at the first attempt of a basilisk to pose up there in the organloft, she would point her gold trumpet at him, and puff him out ofexistence! I laughed to myself over this conceit, which, at the time, Ithought very amusing, and sat and chaffed myself and everything else,from the old harpy outside the railing, who had made me pay ten centimesfor my chair, before she would let me in (she was more like a basilisk,I told myself, than was my organist with the anaemic complexion): fromthat grim old dame, to, yes, alas! Monseigneur C—— himself. For alldevoutness had fled. I had never yet done such a thing in my life, butnow I felt a desire to mock.

As for the sermon, I could not hear a word of it for the jingle in myears of

"The skirts of St. Paul has reached.
Having preached us those six Lent lectures,
More unctuous than ever he preached,"

keeping time to the most fantastic and irreverent thoughts.

It was no use to sit there any longer: I must get out of doors and shakemyself free from this hateful mood. I knew the rudeness I wascommitting, but still I rose and left the church.

A spring sun was shining on the Rue St. Honoré, as I ran down the churchsteps. On one corner stood a barrow full of yellow jonquils, paleviolets from the Riviera, dark Russian violets, and white Romanhyacinths in a golden cloud of mimosa. The street was full of Sundaypleasure-seekers. I swung my cane and laughed with the rest. Some oneovertook and passed me. He never turned, but there was the same deadlymalignity in his white profile that there had been in his eyes. Iwatched him as long as I could see him. His lithe back expressed thesame menace; every step that carried him away from me seemed to bear himon some errand connected with my destruction.

I was creeping along, my feet almost refusing to move. There began todawn in me a sense of responsibility for something long forgotten. Itbegan to seem as if I deserved that which he threatened: it reached along way back—a long, long way back. It had lain dormant all theseyears: it was there, though, and presently it would rise and confrontme. But I would try to escape; and I stumbled as best I could into theRue de Rivoli, across the Place de la Concorde and on to the Quai. Ilooked with sick eyes upon the sun, shining through the white foam ofthe fountain, pouring over the backs of the dusky bronze river-gods, onthe far-away Arc, a structure of amethyst mist, on the countless vistasof grey stems and bare branches faintly green. Then I saw him againcoming down one of the chestnut alleys of the Cours la Reine.

I left the river-side, plunged blindly across to the Champs Elysées andturned toward the Arc. The setting sun was sending its rays along thegreen sward of the Rond-point: in the full glow he sat on a bench,children and young mothers all about him. He was nothing but a Sundaylounger, like the others, like myself. I said the words almost aloud,and all the while I gazed on the malignant hatred of his face. But hewas not looking at me. I crept past and dragged my leaden feet up theAvenue. I knew that every time I met him brought him nearer to theaccomplishment of his purpose and my fate. And still I tried to savemyself.

The last rays of sunset were pouring through the great Arc. I passedunder it, and met him face to face. I had left him far down the ChampsElysées, and yet he came in with a stream of people who were returningfrom the Bois de Boulogne. He came so close that he brushed me. Hisslender frame felt like iron inside its loose black covering. He showedno signs of haste, nor of fatigue, nor of any human feeling. His wholebeing expressed one thing: the will, and the power to work me evil.

In anguish I watched him where he went down the broad crowded Avenue,that was all flashing with wheels and the trappings of horses and thehelmets of the Garde Republicaine.

He was soon lost to sight; then I turned and fled. Into the Bois, andfar out beyond it—I know not where I went, but after a long while as itseemed to me, night had fallen, and I found myself sitting at a tablebefore a small café. I had wandered back into the Bois. It was hours nowsince I had seen him. Physical fatigue and mental suffering had left meno power to think or feel. I was tired, so tired! I longed to hide awayin my own den. I resolved to go home. But that was a long way off.

I live in the Court of the Dragon, a narrow passage that leads from theRue de Rennes to the Rue du Dragon.

It is an "impasse"; traversable only for foot passengers. Over theentrance on the Rue de Rennes is a balcony, supported by an iron dragon.Within the court tall old houses rise on either side, and close the endsthat give on the two streets. Huge gates, swung back during the day intothe walls of the deep archways, close this court, after midnight, andone must enter then by ringing at certain small doors on the side. Thesunken pavement collects unsavoury pools. Steep stairways pitch down todoors that open on the court. The ground floors are occupied by shops ofsecond-hand dealers, and by iron workers. All day long the place ringswith the clink of hammers and the clang of metal bars.

Unsavoury as it is below, there is cheerfulness, and comfort, and hard,honest work above.

Five flights up are the ateliers of architects and painters, and thehiding-places of middle-aged students like myself who want to livealone. When I first came here to live I was young, and not alone.

I had to walk a while before any conveyance appeared, but at last, whenI had almost reached the Arc de Triomphe again, an empty cab came alongand I took it.

From the Arc to the Rue de Rennes is a drive of more than half an hour,especially when one is conveyed by a tired cab horse that has been atthe mercy of Sunday fête-makers.

There had been time before I passed under the Dragon's wings to meet myenemy over and over again, but I never saw him once, and now refuge wasclose at hand.

Before the wide gateway a small mob of children were playing. Ourconcierge and his wife walked among them, with their black poodle,keeping order; some couples were waltzing on the sidewalk. I returnedtheir greetings and hurried in.

All the inhabitants of the court had trooped out into the street. Theplace was quite deserted, lighted by a few lanterns hung high up, inwhich the gas burned dimly.

My apartment was at the top of a house, halfway down the court, reachedby a staircase that descended almost into the street, with only a bit ofpassage-way intervening, I set my foot on the threshold of the opendoor, the friendly old ruinous stairs rose before me, leading up to restand shelter. Looking back over my right shoulder, I saw him, ten pacesoff. He must have entered the court with me.

He was coming straight on, neither slowly, nor swiftly, but straight onto me. And now he was looking at me. For the first time since our eyesencountered across the church they met now again, and I knew that thetime had come.

Retreating backward, down the court, I faced him. I meant to escape bythe entrance on the Rue du Dragon. His eyes told me that I never shouldescape.

It seemed ages while we were going, I retreating, he advancing, down thecourt in perfect silence; but at last I felt the shadow of the archway,and the next step brought me within it. I had meant to turn here andspring through into the street. But the shadow was not that of anarchway; it was that of a vault. The great doors on the Rue du Dragonwere closed. I felt this by the blackness which surrounded me, and atthe same instant I read it in his face. How his face gleamed in thedarkness, drawing swiftly nearer! The deep vaults, the huge closeddoors, their cold iron clamps were all on his side. The thing which hehad threatened had arrived: it gathered and bore down on me from thefathomless shadows; the point from which it would strike was hisinfernal eyes. Hopeless, I set my back against the barred doors anddefied him.

There was a scraping of chairs on the stone floor, and a rustling as thecongregation rose. I could hear the Suisse's staff in the south aisle,preceding Monseigneur C—— to the sacristy.

The kneeling nuns, roused from their devout abstraction, made theirreverence and went away. The fashionable lady, my neighbour, rose also,with graceful reserve. As she departed her glance just flitted over myface in disapproval.

Half dead, or so it seemed to me, yet intensely alive to every trifle, Isat among the leisurely moving crowd, then rose too and went toward thedoor.

I had slept through the sermon. Had I slept through the sermon? I lookedup and saw him passing along the gallery to his place. Only his side Isaw; the thin bent arm in its black covering looked like one of thosedevilish, nameless instruments which lie in the disused torture-chambersof mediaeval castles.

But I had escaped him, though his eyes had said I should not. Had Iescaped him? That which gave him the power over me came back out ofoblivion, where I had hoped to keep it. For I knew him now. Death andthe awful abode of lost souls, whither my weakness long ago had senthim—they had changed him for every other eye, but not for mine. I hadrecognized him almost from the first; I had never doubted what he wascome to do; and now I knew while my body sat safe in the cheerful littlechurch, he had been hunting my soul in the Court of the Dragon.

I crept to the door: the organ broke out overhead with a blare. Adazzling light filled the church, blotting the altar from my eyes. Thepeople faded away, the arches, the vaulted roof vanished. I raised myseared eyes to the fathomless glare, and I saw the black stars hangingin the heavens: and the wet winds from the lake of Hali chilled my face.

And now, far away, over leagues of tossing cloud-waves, I saw the moondripping with spray; and beyond, the towers of Carcosa rose behind themoon.

Death and the awful abode of lost souls, whither my weakness long agohad sent him, had changed him for every other eye but mine. And now Iheard his voice, rising, swelling, thundering through the flaringlight, and as I fell, the radiance increasing, increasing, poured overme in waves of flame. Then I sank into the depths, and I heard the Kingin Yellow whispering to my soul: "It is a fearful thing to fall into thehands of the living God!"

THE YELLOW SIGN

"Let the red dawn surmise
What we shall do,
When this blue starlight dies
And all is through."

I

There are so many things which are impossible to explain! Why shouldcertain chords in music make me think of the brown and golden tints ofautumn foliage? Why should the Mass of Sainte Cécile bend my thoughtswandering among caverns whose walls blaze with ragged masses of virginsilver? What was it in the roar and turmoil of Broadway at six o'clockthat flashed before my eyes the picture of a still Breton forest wheresunlight filtered through spring foliage and Sylvia bent, halfcuriously, half tenderly, over a small green lizard, murmuring: "Tothink that this also is a little ward of God!"

When I first saw the watchman his back was toward me. I looked at himindifferently until he went into the church. I paid no more attention tohim than I had to any other man who lounged through Washington Squarethat morning, and when I shut my window and turned back into my studio Ihad forgotten him. Late in the afternoon, the day being warm, I raisedthe window again and leaned out to get a sniff of air. A man wasstanding in the courtyard of the church, and I noticed him again with aslittle interest as I had that morning. I looked across the square towhere the fountain was playing and then, with my mind filled with vagueimpressions of trees, asphalt drives, and the moving groups ofnursemaids and holiday-makers, I started to walk back to my easel. As Iturned, my listless glance included the man below in the churchyard. Hisface was toward me now, and with a perfectly involuntary movement I bentto see it. At the same moment he raised his head and looked at me.Instantly I thought of a coffin-worm. Whatever it was about the man thatrepelled me I did not know, but the impression of a plump whitegrave-worm was so intense and nauseating that I must have shown it in myexpression, for he turned his puffy face away with a movement which mademe think of a disturbed grub in a chestnut.

I went back to my easel and motioned the model to resume her pose. Afterworking a while I was satisfied that I was spoiling what I had done asrapidly as possible, and I took up a palette knife and scraped thecolour out again. The flesh tones were sallow and unhealthy, and I didnot understand how I could have painted such sickly colour into a studywhich before that had glowed with healthy tones.

I looked at Tessie. She had not changed, and the clear flush of healthdyed her neck and cheeks as I frowned.

"Is it something I've done?" she said.

"No,—I've made a mess of this arm, and for the life of me I can't seehow I came to paint such mud as that into the canvas," I replied.

"Don't I pose well?" she insisted.

"Of course, perfectly."

"Then it's not my fault?"

"No. It's my own."

"I am very sorry," she said.

I told her she could rest while I applied rag and turpentine to theplague spot on my canvas, and she went off to smoke a cigarette and lookover the illustrations in the Courrier Français.

I did not know whether it was something in the turpentine or a defect inthe canvas, but the more I scrubbed the more that gangrene seemed tospread. I worked like a beaver to get it out, and yet the diseaseappeared to creep from limb to limb of the study before me. Alarmed, Istrove to arrest it, but now the colour on the breast changed and thewhole figure seemed to absorb the infection as a sponge soaks up water.Vigorously I plied palette-knife, turpentine, and scraper, thinking allthe time what a séance I should hold with Duval who had sold me thecanvas; but soon I noticed that it was not the canvas which wasdefective nor yet the colours of Edward. "It must be the turpentine," Ithought angrily, "or else my eyes have become so blurred and confused bythe afternoon light that I can't see straight." I called Tessie, themodel. She came and leaned over my chair blowing rings of smoke into theair.

"What have you been doing to it?" she exclaimed

"Nothing," I growled, "it must be this turpentine!"

"What a horrible colour it is now," she continued. "Do you think myflesh resembles green cheese?"

"No, I don't," I said angrily; "did you ever know me to paint like thatbefore?"

"No, indeed!"

"Well, then!"

"It must be the turpentine, or something," she admitted.

She slipped on a Japanese robe and walked to the window. I scraped andrubbed until I was tired, and finally picked up my brushes and hurledthem through the canvas with a forcible expression, the tone alone ofwhich reached Tessie's ears.

Nevertheless she promptly began: "That's it! Swear and act silly andruin your brushes! You have been three weeks on that study, and nowlook! What's the good of ripping the canvas? What creatures artistsare!"

I felt about as much ashamed as I usually did after such an outbreak,and I turned the ruined canvas to the wall. Tessie helped me clean mybrushes, and then danced away to dress. From the screen she regaled mewith bits of advice concerning whole or partial loss of temper, until,thinking, perhaps, I had been tormented sufficiently, she came out toimplore me to button her waist where she could not reach it on theshoulder.

"Everything went wrong from the time you came back from the window andtalked about that horrid-looking man you saw in the churchyard," sheannounced.

"Yes, he probably bewitched the picture," I said, yawning. I looked atmy watch.

"It's after six, I know," said Tessie, adjusting her hat before themirror.

"Yes," I replied, "I didn't mean to keep you so long." I leaned out ofthe window but recoiled with disgust, for the young man with the pastyface stood below in the churchyard. Tessie saw my gesture of disapprovaland leaned from the window.

"Is that the man you don't like?" she whispered.

I nodded.

"I can't see his face, but he does look fat and soft. Someway or other,"she continued, turning to look at me, "he reminds me of a dream,—anawful dream I once had. Or," she mused, looking down at her shapelyshoes, "was it a dream after all?"

"How should I know?" I smiled.

Tessie smiled in reply.

"You were in it," she said, "so perhaps you might know something aboutit."

"Tessie! Tessie!" I protested, "don't you dare flatter by saying thatyou dream about me!"

"But I did," she insisted; "shall I tell you about it?"

"Go ahead," I replied, lighting a cigarette.

Tessie leaned back on the open window-sill and began very seriously.

"One night last winter I was lying in bed thinking about nothing at allin particular. I had been posing for you and I was tired out, yet itseemed impossible for me to sleep. I heard the bells in the city ringten, eleven, and midnight. I must have fallen asleep about midnightbecause I don't remember hearing the bells after that. It seemed to methat I had scarcely closed my eyes when I dreamed that somethingimpelled me to go to the window. I rose, and raising the sash leanedout. Twenty-fifth Street was deserted as far as I could see. I began tobe afraid; everything outside seemed so—so black and uncomfortable.Then the sound of wheels in the distance came to my ears, and it seemedto me as though that was what I must wait for. Very slowly the wheelsapproached, and, finally, I could make out a vehicle moving along thestreet. It came nearer and nearer, and when it passed beneath my windowI saw it was a hearse. Then, as I trembled with fear, the driver turnedand looked straight at me. When I awoke I was standing by the openwindow shivering with cold, but the black-plumed hearse and the driverwere gone. I dreamed this dream again in March last, and again awokebeside the open window. Last night the dream came again. You rememberhow it was raining; when I awoke, standing at the open window, mynight-dress was soaked."

"But where did I come into the dream?" I asked.

"You—you were in the coffin; but you were not dead."

"In the coffin?"

"Yes."

"How did you know? Could you see me?"

"No; I only knew you were there."

"Had you been eating Welsh rarebits, or lobster salad?" I began,laughing, but the girl interrupted me with a frightened cry.

"Hello! What's up?" I said, as she shrank into the embrasure by thewindow.

"The—the man below in the churchyard;—he drove the hearse."

"Nonsense," I said, but Tessie's eyes were wide with terror. I went tothe window and looked out. The man was gone. "Come, Tessie," I urged,"don't be foolish. You have posed too long; you are nervous."

"Do you think I could forget that face?" she murmured. "Three times Isaw the hearse pass below my window, and every time the driver turnedand looked up at me. Oh, his face was so white and—and soft? It lookeddead—it looked as if it had been dead a long time."

I induced the girl to sit down and swallow a glass of Marsala. Then Isat down beside her, and tried to give her some advice.

"Look here, Tessie," I said, "you go to the country for a week or two,and you'll have no more dreams about hearses. You pose all day, and whennight comes your nerves are upset. You can't keep this up. Then again,instead of going to bed when your day's work is done, you run off topicnics at Sulzer's Park, or go to the Eldorado or Coney Island, andwhen you come down here next morning you are fagged out. There was noreal hearse. There was a soft-shell crab dream."

She smiled faintly.

"What about the man in the churchyard?"

"Oh, he's only an ordinary unhealthy, everyday creature."

"As true as my name is Tessie Reardon, I swear to you, Mr. Scott, thatthe face of the man below in the churchyard is the face of the man whodrove the hearse!"

"What of it?" I said. "It's an honest trade."

"Then you think I did see the hearse?"

"Oh," I said diplomatically, "if you really did, it might not beunlikely that the man below drove it. There is nothing in that."

Tessie rose, unrolled her scented handkerchief, and taking a bit of gumfrom a knot in the hem, placed it in her mouth. Then drawing on hergloves she offered me her hand, with a frank, "Good-night, Mr. Scott,"and walked out.

II

The next morning, Thomas, the bell-boy, brought me the Herald and abit of news. The church next door had been sold. I thanked Heaven forit, not that being a Catholic I had any repugnance for the congregationnext door, but because my nerves were shattered by a blatant exhorter,whose every word echoed through the aisle of the church as if it hadbeen my own rooms, and who insisted on his r's with a nasal persistencewhich revolted my every instinct. Then, too, there was a fiend in humanshape, an organist, who reeled off some of the grand old hymns with aninterpretation of his own, and I longed for the blood of a creature whocould play the doxology with an amendment of minor chords which onehears only in a quartet of very young undergraduates. I believe theminister was a good man, but when he bellowed: "And the Lorrrrd saidunto Moses, the Lorrrd is a man of war; the Lorrrd is his name. My wrathshall wax hot and I will kill you with the sworrrrd!" I wondered howmany centuries of purgatory it would take to atone for such a sin.

"Who bought the property?" I asked Thomas.

"Nobody that I knows, sir. They do say the gent wot owns this 'ere'Amilton flats was lookin' at it. 'E might be a bildin' more studios."

I walked to the window. The young man with the unhealthy face stood bythe churchyard gate, and at the mere sight of him the same overwhelmingrepugnance took possession of me.

"By the way, Thomas," I said, "who is that fellow down there?"

Thomas sniffed. "That there worm, sir? 'Es night-watchman of the church,sir. 'E maikes me tired a-sittin' out all night on them steps andlookin' at you insultin' like. I'd a punched 'is 'ed, sir—beg pardon,sir—"

"Go on, Thomas."

"One night a comin' 'ome with 'Arry, the other English boy, I sees 'im asittin' there on them steps. We 'ad Molly and Jen with us, sir, the twogirls on the tray service, an' 'e looks so insultin' at us that I up andsez: 'Wat you looking hat, you fat slug?'—beg pardon, sir, but that's'ow I sez, sir. Then 'e don't say nothin' and I sez: 'Come out and I'llpunch that puddin' 'ed.' Then I hopens the gate an' goes in, but 'edon't say nothin', only looks insultin' like. Then I 'its 'im one, but,ugh! 'is 'ed was that cold and mushy it ud sicken you to touch 'im."

"What did he do then?" I asked curiously.

"'Im? Nawthin'."

"And you, Thomas?"

The young fellow flushed with embarrassment and smiled uneasily.

"Mr. Scott, sir, I ain't no coward, an' I can't make it out at all why Irun. I was in the 5th Lawncers, sir, bugler at Tel-el-Kebir, an' wasshot by the wells."

"You don't mean to say you ran away?"

"Yes, sir; I run."

"Why?"

"That's just what I want to know, sir. I grabbed Molly an' run, an' therest was as frightened as I."

"But what were they frightened at?"

Thomas refused to answer for a while, but now my curiosity was arousedabout the repulsive young man below and I pressed him. Three years'sojourn in America had not only modified Thomas' cockney dialect but hadgiven him the American's fear of ridicule.

"You won't believe me, Mr. Scott, sir?"

"Yes, I will."

"You will lawf at me, sir?"

"Nonsense!"

He hesitated. "Well, sir, it's Gawd's truth that when I 'it 'im 'egrabbed me wrists, sir, and when I twisted 'is soft, mushy fist one of'is fingers come off in me 'and."

The utter loathing and horror of Thomas' face must have been reflectedin my own, for he added:

"It's orful, an' now when I see 'im I just go away. 'E maikes me hill."

When Thomas had gone I went to the window. The man stood beside thechurch-railing with both hands on the gate, but I hastily retreated tomy easel again, sickened and horrified, for I saw that the middle fingerof his right hand was missing.

At nine o'clock Tessie appeared and vanished behind the screen with amerry "Good morning, Mr. Scott." When she had reappeared and taken herpose upon the model-stand I started a new canvas, much to her delight.She remained silent as long as I was on the drawing, but as soon as thescrape of the charcoal ceased and I took up my fixative she began tochatter.

"Oh, I had such a lovely time last night. We went to Tony Pastor's."

"Who are 'we'?" I demanded.

"Oh, Maggie, you know, Mr. Whyte's model, and Pinkie McCormick—we callher Pinkie because she's got that beautiful red hair you artists like somuch—and Lizzie Burke."

I sent a shower of spray from the fixative over the canvas, and said:"Well, go on."

"We saw Kelly and Baby Barnes the skirt-dancer and—and all the rest. Imade a mash."

"Then you have gone back on me, Tessie?"

She laughed and shook her head.

"He's Lizzie Burke's brother, Ed. He's a perfect gen'l'man."

I felt constrained to give her some parental advice concerning mashing,which she took with a bright smile.

"Oh, I can take care of a strange mash," she said, examining her chewinggum, "but Ed is different. Lizzie is my best friend."

Then she related how Ed had come back from the stocking mill in Lowell,Massachusetts, to find her and Lizzie grown up, and what an accomplishedyoung man he was, and how he thought nothing of squanderinghalf-a-dollar for ice-cream and oysters to celebrate his entry as clerkinto the woollen department of Macy's. Before she finished I began topaint, and she resumed the pose, smiling and chattering like a sparrow.By noon I had the study fairly well rubbed in and Tessie came to look atit.

"That's better," she said.

I thought so too, and ate my lunch with a satisfied feeling that all wasgoing well. Tessie spread her lunch on a drawing table opposite me andwe drank our claret from the same bottle and lighted our cigarettes fromthe same match. I was very much attached to Tessie. I had watched hershoot up into a slender but exquisitely formed woman from a frail,awkward child. She had posed for me during the last three years, andamong all my models she was my favourite. It would have troubled me verymuch indeed had she become "tough" or "fly," as the phrase goes, but Inever noticed any deterioration of her manner, and felt at heart thatshe was all right. She and I never discussed morals at all, and I had nointention of doing so, partly because I had none myself, and partlybecause I knew she would do what she liked in spite of me. Still I didhope she would steer clear of complications, because I wished her well,and then also I had a selfish desire to retain the best model I had. Iknew that mashing, as she termed it, had no significance with girls likeTessie, and that such things in America did not resemble in the leastthe same things in Paris. Yet, having lived with my eyes open, I alsoknew that somebody would take Tessie away some day, in one manner oranother, and though I professed to myself that marriage was nonsense, Isincerely hoped that, in this case, there would be a priest at the endof the vista. I am a Catholic. When I listen to high mass, when I signmyself, I feel that everything, including myself, is more cheerful, andwhen I confess, it does me good. A man who lives as much alone as I do,must confess to somebody. Then, again, Sylvia was Catholic, and it wasreason enough for me. But I was speaking of Tessie, which is verydifferent. Tessie also was Catholic and much more devout than I, so,taking it all in all, I had little fear for my pretty model until sheshould fall in love. But then I knew that fate alone would decide herfuture for her, and I prayed inwardly that fate would keep her away frommen like me and throw into her path nothing but Ed Burkes and JimmyMcCormicks, bless her sweet face!

Tessie sat blowing rings of smoke up to the ceiling and tinkling the icein her tumbler.

"Do you know that I also had a dream last night?" I observed.

"Not about that man," she laughed.

"Exactly. A dream similar to yours, only much worse."

It was foolish and thoughtless of me to say this, but you know howlittle tact the average painter has. "I must have fallen asleep aboutten o'clock," I continued, "and after a while I dreamt that I awoke. Soplainly did I hear the midnight bells, the wind in the tree-branches,and the whistle of steamers from the bay, that even now I can scarcelybelieve I was not awake. I seemed to be lying in a box which had a glasscover. Dimly I saw the street lamps as I passed, for I must tell you,Tessie, the box in which I reclined appeared to lie in a cushioned wagonwhich jolted me over a stony pavement. After a while I became impatientand tried to move, but the box was too narrow. My hands were crossed onmy breast, so I could not raise them to help myself. I listened and thentried to call. My voice was gone. I could hear the trample of the horsesattached to the wagon, and even the breathing of the driver. Thenanother sound broke upon my ears like the raising of a window sash. Imanaged to turn my head a little, and found I could look, not onlythrough the glass cover of my box, but also through the glass panes inthe side of the covered vehicle. I saw houses, empty and silent, withneither light nor life about any of them excepting one. In that house awindow was open on the first floor, and a figure all in white stoodlooking down into the street. It was you."

Tessie had turned her face away from me and leaned on the table with herelbow.

"I could see your face," I resumed, "and it seemed to me to be verysorrowful. Then we passed on and turned into a narrow black lane.Presently the horses stopped. I waited and waited, closing my eyes withfear and impatience, but all was silent as the grave. After what seemedto me hours, I began to feel uncomfortable. A sense that somebody wasclose to me made me unclose my eyes. Then I saw the white face of thehearse-driver looking at me through the coffin-lid——"

A sob from Tessie interrupted me. She was trembling like a leaf. I saw Ihad made an ass of myself and attempted to repair the damage.

"Why, Tess," I said, "I only told you this to show you what influenceyour story might have on another person's dreams. You don't suppose Ireally lay in a coffin, do you? What are you trembling for? Don't yousee that your dream and my unreasonable dislike for that inoffensivewatchman of the church simply set my brain working as soon as I fellasleep?"

She laid her head between her arms, and sobbed as if her heart wouldbreak. What a precious triple donkey I had made of myself! But I wasabout to break my record. I went over and put my arm about her.

"Tessie dear, forgive me," I said; "I had no business to frighten youwith such nonsense. You are too sensible a girl, too good a Catholic tobelieve in dreams."

Her hand tightened on mine and her head fell back upon my shoulder, butshe still trembled and I petted her and comforted her.

"Come, Tess, open your eyes and smile."

Her eyes opened with a slow languid movement and met mine, but theirexpression was so queer that I hastened to reassure her again.

"It's all humbug, Tessie; you surely are not afraid that any harm willcome to you because of that."

"No," she said, but her scarlet lips quivered.

"Then, what's the matter? Are you afraid?"

"Yes. Not for myself."

"For me, then?" I demanded gaily.

"For you," she murmured in a voice almost inaudible. "I—I care foryou."

At first I started to laugh, but when I understood her, a shock passedthrough me, and I sat like one turned to stone. This was the crowningbit of idiocy I had committed. During the moment which elapsed betweenher reply and my answer I thought of a thousand responses to thatinnocent confession. I could pass it by with a laugh, I couldmisunderstand her and assure her as to my health, I could simply pointout that it was impossible she could love me. But my reply was quickerthan my thoughts, and I might think and think now when it was too late,for I had kissed her on the mouth.

That evening I took my usual walk in Washington Park, pondering over theoccurrences of the day. I was thoroughly committed. There was no backout now, and I stared the future straight in the face. I was not good,not even scrupulous, but I had no idea of deceiving either myself orTessie. The one passion of my life lay buried in the sunlit forests ofBrittany. Was it buried for ever? Hope cried "No!" For three years I hadbeen listening to the voice of Hope, and for three years I had waitedfor a footstep on my threshold. Had Sylvia forgotten? "No!" cried Hope.

I said that I was no good. That is true, but still I was not exactly acomic opera villain. I had led an easy-going reckless life, taking whatinvited me of pleasure, deploring and sometimes bitterly regrettingconsequences. In one thing alone, except my painting, was I serious, andthat was something which lay hidden if not lost in the Breton forests.

It was too late for me to regret what had occurred during the day.Whatever it had been, pity, a sudden tenderness for sorrow, or the morebrutal instinct of gratified vanity, it was all the same now, and unlessI wished to bruise an innocent heart, my path lay marked before me. Thefire and strength, the depth of passion of a love which I had never evensuspected, with all my imagined experience in the world, left me noalternative but to respond or send her away. Whether because I am socowardly about giving pain to others, or whether it was that I havelittle of the gloomy Puritan in me, I do not know, but I shrank fromdisclaiming responsibility for that thoughtless kiss, and in fact had notime to do so before the gates of her heart opened and the flood pouredforth. Others who habitually do their duty and find a sullensatisfaction in making themselves and everybody else unhappy, might havewithstood it. I did not. I dared not. After the storm had abated I didtell her that she might better have loved Ed Burke and worn a plain goldring, but she would not hear of it, and I thought perhaps as long as shehad decided to love somebody she could not marry, it had better be me.I, at least, could treat her with an intelligent affection, and whenevershe became tired of her infatuation she could go none the worse for it.For I was decided on that point although I knew how hard it would be. Iremembered the usual termination of Platonic liaisons, and thought howdisgusted I had been whenever I heard of one. I knew I was undertaking agreat deal for so unscrupulous a man as I was, and I dreamed the future,but never for one moment did I doubt that she was safe with me. Had itbeen anybody but Tessie I should not have bothered my head aboutscruples. For it did not occur to me to sacrifice Tessie as I would havesacrificed a woman of the world. I looked the future squarely in theface and saw the several probable endings to the affair. She wouldeither tire of the whole thing, or become so unhappy that I should haveeither to marry her or go away. If I married her we would be unhappy. Iwith a wife unsuited to me, and she with a husband unsuitable for anywoman. For my past life could scarcely entitle me to marry. If I wentaway she might either fall ill, recover, and marry some Eddie Burke, orshe might recklessly or deliberately go and do something foolish. On theother hand, if she tired of me, then her whole life would be before herwith beautiful vistas of Eddie Burkes and marriage rings and twins andHarlem flats and Heaven knows what. As I strolled along through thetrees by the Washington Arch, I decided that she should find asubstantial friend in me, anyway, and the future could take care ofitself. Then I went into the house and put on my evening dress, for thelittle faintly-perfumed note on my dresser said, "Have a cab at thestage door at eleven," and the note was signed "Edith Carmichel,Metropolitan Theatre."

I took supper that night, or rather we took supper, Miss Carmichel andI, at Solari's, and the dawn was just beginning to gild the cross on theMemorial Church as I entered Washington Square after leaving Edith atthe Brunswick. There was not a soul in the park as I passed along thetrees and took the walk which leads from the Garibaldi statue to theHamilton Apartment House, but as I passed the churchyard I saw a figuresitting on the stone steps. In spite of myself a chill crept over me atthe sight of the white puffy face, and I hastened to pass. Then he saidsomething which might have been addressed to me or might merely havebeen a mutter to himself, but a sudden furious anger flamed up within methat such a creature should address me. For an instant I felt likewheeling about and smashing my stick over his head, but I walked on, andentering the Hamilton went to my apartment. For some time I tossed aboutthe bed trying to get the sound of his voice out of my ears, but couldnot. It filled my head, that muttering sound, like thick oily smoke froma fat-rendering vat or an odour of noisome decay. And as I lay andtossed about, the voice in my ears seemed more distinct, and I began tounderstand the words he had muttered. They came to me slowly as if I hadforgotten them, and at last I could make some sense out of the sounds.It was this:

"Have you found the Yellow Sign?"

"Have you found the Yellow Sign?"

"Have you found the Yellow Sign?"

I was furious. What did he mean by that? Then with a curse upon him andhis I rolled over and went to sleep, but when I awoke later I lookedpale and haggard, for I had dreamed the dream of the night before, andit troubled me more than I cared to think.

I dressed and went down into my studio. Tessie sat by the window, but asI came in she rose and put both arms around my neck for an innocentkiss. She looked so sweet and dainty that I kissed her again and thensat down before the easel.

"Hello! Where's the study I began yesterday?" I asked.

Tessie looked conscious, but did not answer. I began to hunt among thepiles of canvases, saying, "Hurry up, Tess, and get ready; we must takeadvantage of the morning light."

When at last I gave up the search among the other canvases and turned tolook around the room for the missing study I noticed Tessie standing bythe screen with her clothes still on.

"What's the matter," I asked, "don't you feel well?"

"Yes."

"Then hurry."

"Do you want me to pose as—as I have always posed?"

Then I understood. Here was a new complication. I had lost, of course,the best nude model I had ever seen. I looked at Tessie. Her face wasscarlet. Alas! Alas! We had eaten of the tree of knowledge, and Eden andnative innocence were dreams of the past—I mean for her.

I suppose she noticed the disappointment on my face, for she said: "Iwill pose if you wish. The study is behind the screen here where I putit."

"No," I said, "we will begin something new;" and I went into my wardrobeand picked out a Moorish costume which fairly blazed with tinsel. It wasa genuine costume, and Tessie retired to the screen with it enchanted.When she came forth again I was astonished. Her long black hair wasbound above her forehead with a circlet of turquoises, and the ends,curled about her glittering girdle. Her feet were encased in theembroidered pointed slippers and the skirt of her costume, curiouslywrought with arabesques in silver, fell to her ankles. The deep metallicblue vest embroidered with silver and the short Mauresque jacketspangled and sewn with turquoises became her wonderfully. She came up tome and held up her face smiling. I slipped my hand into my pocket, anddrawing out a gold chain with a cross attached, dropped it over herhead.

"It's yours, Tessie."

"Mine?" she faltered.

"Yours. Now go and pose," Then with a radiant smile she ran behind thescreen and presently reappeared with a little box on which was writtenmy name.

"I had intended to give it to you when I went home to-night," she said,"but I can't wait now."

I opened the box. On the pink cotton inside lay a clasp of black onyx,on which was inlaid a curious symbol or letter in gold. It was neitherArabic nor Chinese, nor, as I found afterwards, did it belong to anyhuman script.

"It's all I had to give you for a keepsake," she said timidly.

I was annoyed, but I told her how much I should prize it, and promisedto wear it always. She fastened it on my coat beneath the lapel.

"How foolish, Tess, to go and buy me such a beautiful thing as this," Isaid.

"I did not buy it," she laughed.

"Where did you get it?"

Then she told me how she had found it one day while coming from theAquarium in the Battery, how she had advertised it and watched thepapers, but at last gave up all hopes of finding the owner.

"That was last winter," she said, "the very day I had the first horriddream about the hearse."

I remembered my dream of the previous night but said nothing, andpresently my charcoal was flying over a new canvas, and Tessie stoodmotionless on the model-stand.

III

The day following was a disastrous one for me. While moving a framedcanvas from one easel to another my foot slipped on the polished floor,and I fell heavily on both wrists. They were so badly sprained that itwas useless to attempt to hold a brush, and I was obliged to wanderabout the studio, glaring at unfinished drawings and sketches, untildespair seized me and I sat down to smoke and twiddle my thumbs withrage. The rain blew against the windows and rattled on the roof of thechurch, driving me into a nervous fit with its interminable patter.Tessie sat sewing by the window, and every now and then raised her headand looked at me with such innocent compassion that I began to feelashamed of my irritation and looked about for something to occupy me. Ihad read all the papers and all the books in the library, but for thesake of something to do I went to the bookcases and shoved them openwith my elbow. I knew every volume by its colour and examined them all,passing slowly around the library and whistling to keep up my spirits. Iwas turning to go into the dining-room when my eye fell upon a bookbound in serpent skin, standing in a corner of the top shelf of the lastbookcase. I did not remember it, and from the floor could not decipherthe pale lettering on the back, so I went to the smoking-room and calledTessie. She came in from the studio and climbed up to reach the book.

"What is it?" I asked.

"The King in Yellow."

I was dumfounded. Who had placed it there? How came it in my rooms? Ihad long ago decided that I should never open that book, and nothing onearth could have persuaded me to buy it. Fearful lest curiosity mighttempt me to open it, I had never even looked at it in book-stores. If Iever had had any curiosity to read it, the awful tragedy of youngCastaigne, whom I knew, prevented me from exploring its wicked pages. Ihad always refused to listen to any description of it, and indeed,nobody ever ventured to discuss the second part aloud, so I hadabsolutely no knowledge of what those leaves might reveal. I stared atthe poisonous mottled binding as I would at a snake.

"Don't touch it, Tessie," I said; "come down."

Of course my admonition was enough to arouse her curiosity, and before Icould prevent it she took the book and, laughing, danced off into thestudio with it. I called to her, but she slipped away with a tormentingsmile at my helpless hands, and I followed her with some impatience.

"Tessie!" I cried, entering the library, "listen, I am serious. Put thatbook away. I do not wish you to open it!" The library was empty. I wentinto both drawing-rooms, then into the bedrooms, laundry, kitchen, andfinally returned to the library and began a systematic search. She hadhidden herself so well that it was half-an-hour later when I discoveredher crouching white and silent by the latticed window in the store-roomabove. At the first glance I saw she had been punished for herfoolishness. The King in Yellow lay at her feet, but the book was openat the second part. I looked at Tessie and saw it was too late. She hadopened The King in Yellow. Then I took her by the hand and led herinto the studio. She seemed dazed, and when I told her to lie down onthe sofa she obeyed me without a word. After a while she closed her eyesand her breathing became regular and deep, but I could not determinewhether or not she slept. For a long while I sat silently beside her,but she neither stirred nor spoke, and at last I rose, and, entering theunused store-room, took the book in my least injured hand. It seemedheavy as lead, but I carried it into the studio again, and sitting downon the rug beside the sofa, opened it and read it through from beginningto end.

When, faint with excess of my emotions, I dropped the volume and leanedwearily back against the sofa, Tessie opened her eyes and looked atme....

We had been speaking for some time in a dull monotonous strain before Irealized that we were discussing The King in Yellow. Oh the sin ofwriting such words,—words which are clear as crystal, limpid andmusical as bubbling springs, words which sparkle and glow like thepoisoned diamonds of the Medicis! Oh the wickedness, the hopelessdamnation of a soul who could fascinate and paralyze human creatureswith such words,—words understood by the ignorant and wise alike, wordswhich are more precious than jewels, more soothing than music, moreawful than death!

We talked on, unmindful of the gathering shadows, and she was begging meto throw away the clasp of black onyx quaintly inlaid with what we nowknew to be the Yellow Sign. I never shall know why I refused, thougheven at this hour, here in my bedroom as I write this confession, Ishould be glad to know what it was that prevented me from tearing theYellow Sign from my breast and casting it into the fire. I am sure Iwished to do so, and yet Tessie pleaded with me in vain. Night fell andthe hours dragged on, but still we murmured to each other of the Kingand the Pallid Mask, and midnight sounded from the misty spires in thefog-wrapped city. We spoke of Hastur and of Cassilda, while outside thefog rolled against the blank window-panes as the cloud waves roll andbreak on the shores of Hali.

The house was very silent now, and not a sound came up from the mistystreets. Tessie lay among the cushions, her face a grey blot in thegloom, but her hands were clasped in mine, and I knew that she knew andread my thoughts as I read hers, for we had understood the mystery ofthe Hyades and the Phantom of Truth was laid. Then as we answered eachother, swiftly, silently, thought on thought, the shadows stirred in thegloom about us, and far in the distant streets we heard a sound. Nearerand nearer it came, the dull crunching of wheels, nearer and yet nearer,and now, outside before the door it ceased, and I dragged myself to thewindow and saw a black-plumed hearse. The gate below opened and shut,and I crept shaking to my door and bolted it, but I knew no bolts, nolocks, could keep that creature out who was coming for the Yellow Sign.And now I heard him moving very softly along the hall. Now he was at thedoor, and the bolts rotted at his touch. Now he had entered. With eyesstarting from my head I peered into the darkness, but when he came intothe room I did not see him. It was only when I felt him envelope me inhis cold soft grasp that I cried out and struggled with deadly fury, butmy hands were useless and he tore the onyx clasp from my coat and struckme full in the face. Then, as I fell, I heard Tessie's soft cry and herspirit fled: and even while falling I longed to follow her, for I knewthat the King in Yellow had opened his tattered mantle and there wasonly God to cry to now.

I could tell more, but I cannot see what help it will be to the world.As for me, I am past human help or hope. As I lie here, writing,careless even whether or not I die before I finish, I can see the doctorgathering up his powders and phials with a vague gesture to the goodpriest beside me, which I understand.

They will be very curious to know the tragedy—they of the outside worldwho write books and print millions of newspapers, but I shall write nomore, and the father confessor will seal my last words with the seal ofsanctity when his holy office is done. They of the outside world maysend their creatures into wrecked homes and death-smitten firesides, andtheir newspapers will batten on blood and tears, but with me their spiesmust halt before the confessional. They know that Tessie is dead andthat I am dying. They know how the people in the house, aroused by aninfernal scream, rushed into my room and found one living and two dead,but they do not know what I shall tell them now; they do not know thatthe doctor said as he pointed to a horrible decomposed heap on thefloor—the livid corpse of the watchman from the church: "I have notheory, no explanation. That man must have been dead for months!"

I think I am dying. I wish the priest would—

THE DEMOISELLE D'YS

"Mais je croy que je
Suis descendu on puiz
Ténébreux onquel disoit
Heraclytus estre Vereté cachée."

"There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which Iknow not:

"The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; theway of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with amaid."

I

The utter desolation of the scene began to have its effect; I sat downto face the situation and, if possible, recall to mind some landmarkwhich might aid me in extricating myself from my present position. If Icould only find the ocean again all would be clear, for I knew one couldsee the island of Groix from the cliffs.

I laid down my gun, and kneeling behind a rock lighted a pipe. Then Ilooked at my watch. It was nearly four o'clock. I might have wanderedfar from Kerselec since daybreak.

Standing the day before on the cliffs below Kerselec with Goulven,looking out over the sombre moors among which I had now lost my way,these downs had appeared to me level as a meadow, stretching to thehorizon, and although I knew how deceptive is distance, I could notrealize that what from Kerselec seemed to be mere grassy hollows weregreat valleys covered with gorse and heather, and what looked likescattered boulders were in reality enormous cliffs of granite.

"It's a bad place for a stranger," old Goulven had said: "you'd bettertake a guide;" and I had replied, "I shall not lose myself." Now I knewthat I had lost myself, as I sat there smoking, with the sea-windblowing in my face. On every side stretched the moorland, covered withflowering gorse and heath and granite boulders. There was not a tree insight, much less a house. After a while, I picked up the gun, andturning my back on the sun tramped on again.

There was little use in following any of the brawling streams whichevery now and then crossed my path, for, instead of flowing into thesea, they ran inland to reedy pools in the hollows of the moors. I hadfollowed several, but they all led me to swamps or silent little pondsfrom which the snipe rose peeping and wheeled away in an ecstasy offright. I began to feel fatigued, and the gun galled my shoulder in spiteof the double pads. The sun sank lower and lower, shining level acrossyellow gorse and the moorland pools.

As I walked my own gigantic shadow led me on, seeming to lengthen atevery step. The gorse scraped against my leggings, crackled beneath myfeet, showering the brown earth with blossoms, and the brake bowed andbillowed along my path. From tufts of heath rabbits scurried awaythrough the bracken, and among the swamp grass I heard the wild duck'sdrowsy quack. Once a fox stole across my path, and again, as I stoopedto drink at a hurrying rill, a heron flapped heavily from the reedsbeside me. I turned to look at the sun. It seemed to touch the edges ofthe plain. When at last I decided that it was useless to go on, and thatI must make up my mind to spend at least one night on the moors, I threwmyself down thoroughly fagged out. The evening sunlight slanted warmacross my body, but the sea-winds began to rise, and I felt a chillstrike through me from my wet shooting-boots. High overhead gulls werewheeling and tossing like bits of white paper; from some distant marsh asolitary curlew called. Little by little the sun sank into the plain,and the zenith flushed with the after-glow. I watched the sky changefrom palest gold to pink and then to smouldering fire. Clouds of midgesdanced above me, and high in the calm air a bat dipped and soared. Myeyelids began to droop. Then as I shook off the drowsiness a suddencrash among the bracken roused me. I raised my eyes. A great bird hungquivering in the air above my face. For an instant I stared, incapableof motion; then something leaped past me in the ferns and the bird rose,wheeled, and pitched headlong into the brake.

I was on my feet in an instant peering through the gorse. There came thesound of a struggle from a bunch of heather close by, and then all wasquiet. I stepped forward, my gun poised, but when I came to the heatherthe gun fell under my arm again, and I stood motionless in silentastonishment. A dead hare lay on the ground, and on the hare stood amagnificent falcon, one talon buried in the creature's neck, the otherplanted firmly on its limp flank. But what astonished me, was not themere sight of a falcon sitting upon its prey. I had seen that more thanonce. It was that the falcon was fitted with a sort of leash about bothtalons, and from the leash hung a round bit of metal like a sleigh-bell.The bird turned its fierce yellow eyes on me, and then stooped andstruck its curved beak into the quarry. At the same instant hurriedsteps sounded among the heather, and a girl sprang into the covert infront. Without a glance at me she walked up to the falcon, and passingher gloved hand under its breast, raised it from the quarry. Then shedeftly slipped a small hood over the bird's head, and holding it out onher gauntlet, stooped and picked up the hare.

She passed a cord about the animal's legs and fastened the end of thethong to her girdle. Then she started to retrace her steps through thecovert. As she passed me I raised my cap and she acknowledged my presencewith a scarcely perceptible inclination. I had been so astonished, solost in admiration of the scene before my eyes, that it had not occurredto me that here was my salvation. But as she moved away I recollectedthat unless I wanted to sleep on a windy moor that night I had betterrecover my speech without delay. At my first word she hesitated, and asI stepped before her I thought a look of fear came into her beautifuleyes. But as I humbly explained my unpleasant plight, her face flushedand she looked at me in wonder.

"Surely you did not come from Kerselec!" she repeated.

Her sweet voice had no trace of the Breton accent nor of any accentwhich I knew, and yet there was something in it I seemed to have heardbefore, something quaint and indefinable, like the theme of an old song.

I explained that I was an American, unacquainted with Finistère,shooting there for my own amusement.

"An American," she repeated in the same quaint musical tones. "I havenever before seen an American."

For a moment she stood silent, then looking at me she said. "If youshould walk all night you could not reach Kerselec now, even if you hada guide."

This was pleasant news.

"But," I began, "if I could only find a peasant's hut where I might getsomething to eat, and shelter."

The falcon on her wrist fluttered and shook its head. The girl smoothedits glossy back and glanced at me.

"Look around," she said gently. "Can you see the end of these moors?Look, north, south, east, west. Can you see anything but moorland andbracken?"

"No," I said.

"The moor is wild and desolate. It is easy to enter, but sometimes theywho enter never leave it. There are no peasants' huts here."

"Well," I said, "if you will tell me in which direction Kerselec lies,to-morrow it will take me no longer to go back than it has to come."

She looked at me again with an expression almost like pity.

"Ah," she said, "to come is easy and takes hours; to go isdifferent—and may take centuries."

I stared at her in amazement but decided that I had misunderstood her.Then before I had time to speak she drew a whistle from her belt andsounded it.

"Sit down and rest," she said to me; "you have come a long distance andare tired."

She gathered up her pleated skirts and motioning me to follow picked herdainty way through the gorse to a flat rock among the ferns.

"They will be here directly," she said, and taking a seat at one end ofthe rock invited me to sit down on the other edge. The after-glow wasbeginning to fade in the sky and a single star twinkled faintly throughthe rosy haze. A long wavering triangle of water-fowl drifted southwardover our heads, and from the swamps around plover were calling.

"They are very beautiful—these moors," she said quietly.

"Beautiful, but cruel to strangers," I answered.

"Beautiful and cruel," she repeated dreamily, "beautiful and cruel."

"Like a woman," I said stupidly.

"Oh," she cried with a little catch in her breath, and looked at me. Herdark eyes met mine, and I thought she seemed angry or frightened.

"Like a woman," she repeated under her breath, "How cruel to say so!"Then after a pause, as though speaking aloud to herself, "How cruel forhim to say that!"

I don't know what sort of an apology I offered for my inane, thoughharmless speech, but I know that she seemed so troubled about it that Ibegan to think I had said something very dreadful without knowing it,and remembered with horror the pitfalls and snares which the Frenchlanguage sets for foreigners. While I was trying to imagine what I mighthave said, a sound of voices came across the moor, and the girl rose toher feet.

"No," she said, with a trace of a smile on her pale face, "I will notaccept your apologies, monsieur, but I must prove you wrong, and thatshall be my revenge. Look. Here come Hastur and Raoul."

Two men loomed up in the twilight. One had a sack across his shouldersand the other carried a hoop before him as a waiter carries a tray. Thehoop was fastened with straps to his shoulders, and around the edge ofthe circlet sat three hooded falcons fitted with tinkling bells. Thegirl stepped up to the falconer, and with a quick turn of her wristtransferred her falcon to the hoop, where it quickly sidled off andnestled among its mates, who shook their hooded heads and ruffled theirfeathers till the belled jesses tinkled again. The other man steppedforward and bowing respectfully took up the hare and dropped it into thegame-sack.

"These are my piqueurs," said the girl, turning to me with a gentledignity. "Raoul is a good fauconnier, and I shall some day make himgrand veneur. Hastur is incomparable."

The two silent men saluted me respectfully.

"Did I not tell you, monsieur, that I should prove you wrong?" shecontinued. "This, then, is my revenge, that you do me the courtesy ofaccepting food and shelter at my own house."

Before I could answer she spoke to the falconers, who started instantlyacross the heath, and with a gracious gesture to me she followed. Idon't know whether I made her understand how profoundly grateful I felt,but she seemed pleased to listen, as we walked over the dewy heather.

"Are you not very tired?" she asked.

I had clean forgotten my fatigue in her presence, and I told her so.

"Don't you think your gallantry is a little old-fashioned?" she said;and when I looked confused and humbled, she added quietly, "Oh, I likeit, I like everything old-fashioned, and it is delightful to hear yousay such pretty things."

The moorland around us was very still now under its ghostly sheet ofmist. The plovers had ceased their calling; the crickets and all thelittle creatures of the fields were silent as we passed, yet it seemedto me as if I could hear them beginning again far behind us. Well inadvance, the two tall falconers strode across the heather, and the faintjingling of the hawks' bells came to our ears in distant murmuringchimes.

Suddenly a splendid hound dashed out of the mist in front, followed byanother and another until half-a-dozen or more were bounding and leapingaround the girl beside me. She caressed and quieted them with her glovedhand, speaking to them in quaint terms which I remembered to have seenin old French manuscripts.

Then the falcons on the circlet borne by the falconer ahead began tobeat their wings and scream, and from somewhere out of sight the notesof a hunting-horn floated across the moor. The hounds sprang away beforeus and vanished in the twilight, the falcons flapped and squealed upontheir perch, and the girl, taking up the song of the horn, began to hum.Clear and mellow her voice sounded in the night air.

"Chasseur, chasseur, chassez encore,
Quittez Rosette et Jeanneton,
Tonton, tonton, tontaine, tonton,
Ou, pour, rabattre, dès l'aurore,
Que les Amours soient de planton,
Tonton, tontaine, tonton."

As I listened to her lovely voice a grey mass which rapidly grew moredistinct loomed up in front, and the horn rang out joyously through thetumult of the hounds and falcons. A torch glimmered at a gate, a lightstreamed through an opening door, and we stepped upon a wooden bridgewhich trembled under our feet and rose creaking and straining behind usas we passed over the moat and into a small stone court, walled on everyside. From an open doorway a man came and, bending in salutation,presented a cup to the girl beside me. She took the cup and touched itwith her lips, then lowering it turned to me and said in a low voice, "Ibid you welcome."

At that moment one of the falconers came with another cup, but beforehanding it to me, presented it to the girl, who tasted it. The falconermade a gesture to receive it, but she hesitated a moment, and then,stepping forward, offered me the cup with her own hands. I felt this tobe an act of extraordinary graciousness, but hardly knew what wasexpected of me, and did not raise it to my lips at once. The girlflushed crimson. I saw that I must act quickly.

"Mademoiselle," I faltered, "a stranger whom you have saved from dangershe may never realize empties this cup to the gentlest and loveliesthostess of France."

"In His name," she murmured, crossing herself as I drained the cup. Thenstepping into the doorway she turned to me with a pretty gesture and,taking my hand in hers, led me into the house, saying again and again:"You are very welcome, indeed you are welcome to the Château d'Ys."

II

I awoke next morning with the music of the horn in my ears, and leapingout of the ancient bed, went to a curtained window where the sunlightfiltered through little deep-set panes. The horn ceased as I looked intothe court below.

A man who might have been brother to the two falconers of the nightbefore stood in the midst of a pack of hounds. A curved horn wasstrapped over his back, and in his hand he held a long-lashed whip. Thedogs whined and yelped, dancing around him in anticipation; there wasthe stamp of horses, too, in the walled yard.

"Mount!" cried a voice in Breton, and with a clatter of hoofs the twofalconers, with falcons upon their wrists, rode into the courtyard amongthe hounds. Then I heard another voice which sent the blood throbbingthrough my heart: "Piriou Louis, hunt the hounds well and spare neitherspur nor whip. Thou Raoul and thou Gaston, see that the epervier doesnot prove himself niais, and if it be best in your judgment, faitescourtoisie à l'oiseau. Jardiner un oiseau, like the mué there onHastur's wrist, is not difficult, but thou, Raoul, mayest not find it sosimple to govern that hagard. Twice last week he foamed au vif andlost the beccade although he is used to the leurre. The bird actslike a stupid branchier. Paître un hagard n'est pas si facile."

Was I dreaming? The old language of falconry which I had read in yellowmanuscripts—the old forgotten French of the middle ages was sounding inmy ears while the hounds bayed and the hawks' bells tinkledaccompaniment to the stamping horses. She spoke again in the sweetforgotten language:

"If you would rather attach the longe and leave thy hagard au bloc,Raoul, I shall say nothing; for it were a pity to spoil so fair a day'ssport with an ill-trained sors. Essimer abaisser,—it is possiblythe best way. Ça lui donnera des reins. I was perhaps hasty with thebird. It takes time to pass à la filière and the exercises d'escap."

Then the falconer Raoul bowed in his stirrups and replied: "If it be thepleasure of Mademoiselle, I shall keep the hawk."

"It is my wish," she answered. "Falconry I know, but you have yet togive me many a lesson in Autourserie, my poor Raoul. Sieur PiriouLouis mount!"

The huntsman sprang into an archway and in an instant returned, mountedupon a strong black horse, followed by a piqueur also mounted.

"Ah!" she cried joyously, "speed Glemarec René! speed! speed all! Soundthy horn, Sieur Piriou!"

The silvery music of the hunting-horn filled the courtyard, the houndssprang through the gateway and galloping hoof-beats plunged out of thepaved court; loud on the drawbridge, suddenly muffled, then lost in theheather and bracken of the moors. Distant and more distant sounded thehorn, until it became so faint that the sudden carol of a soaring larkdrowned it in my ears. I heard the voice below responding to some callfrom within the house.

"I do not regret the chase, I will go another time. Courtesy to thestranger, Pelagie, remember!"

And a feeble voice came quavering from within the house, "Courtoisie"

I stripped, and rubbed myself from head to foot in the huge earthenbasin of icy water which stood upon the stone floor at the foot of mybed. Then I looked about for my clothes. They were gone, but on a settlenear the door lay a heap of garments which I inspected withastonishment. As my clothes had vanished, I was compelled to attiremyself in the costume which had evidently been placed there for me towear while my own clothes dried. Everything was there, cap, shoes, andhunting doublet of silvery grey homespun; but the close-fitting costumeand seamless shoes belonged to another century, and I remembered thestrange costumes of the three falconers in the courtyard. I was surethat it was not the modern dress of any portion of France or Brittany;but not until I was dressed and stood before a mirror between thewindows did I realize that I was clothed much more like a young huntsmanof the middle ages than like a Breton of that day. I hesitated andpicked up the cap. Should I go down and present myself in that strangeguise? There seemed to be no help for it, my own clothes were gone andthere was no bell in the ancient chamber to call a servant; so Icontented myself with removing a short hawk's feather from the cap, and,opening the door, went downstairs.

By the fireplace in the large room at the foot of the stairs an oldBreton woman sat spinning with a distaff. She looked up at me when Iappeared, and, smiling frankly, wished me health in the Breton language,to which I laughingly replied in French. At the same moment my hostessappeared and returned my salutation with a grace and dignity that sent athrill to my heart. Her lovely head with its dark curly hair was crownedwith a head-dress which set all doubts as to the epoch of my own costumeat rest. Her slender figure was exquisitely set off in the homespunhunting-gown edged with silver, and on her gauntlet-covered wrist shebore one of her petted hawks. With perfect simplicity she took my handand led me into the garden in the court, and seating herself before atable invited me very sweetly to sit beside her. Then she asked me inher soft quaint accent how I had passed the night, and whether I wasvery much inconvenienced by wearing the clothes which old Pelagie hadput there for me while I slept. I looked at my own clothes and shoes,drying in the sun by the garden-wall, and hated them. What horrors theywere compared with the graceful costume which I now wore! I told herthis laughing, but she agreed with me very seriously.

"We will throw them away," she said in a quiet voice. In my astonishmentI attempted to explain that I not only could not think of acceptingclothes from anybody, although for all I knew it might be the custom ofhospitality in that part of the country, but that I should cut animpossible figure if I returned to France clothed as I was then.

She laughed and tossed her pretty head, saying something in old Frenchwhich I did not understand, and then Pelagie trotted out with a tray onwhich stood two bowls of milk, a loaf of white bread, fruit, a platterof honey-comb, and a flagon of deep red wine. "You see I have not yetbroken my fast because I wished you to eat with me. But I am veryhungry," she smiled.

"I would rather die than forget one word of what you have said!" Iblurted out, while my cheeks burned. "She will think me mad," I added tomyself, but she turned to me with sparkling eyes.

"Ah!" she murmured. "Then Monsieur knows all that there is ofchivalry—"

She crossed herself and broke bread. I sat and watched her white hands,not daring to raise my eyes to hers.

"Will you not eat?" she asked. "Why do you look so troubled?"

Ah, why? I knew it now. I knew I would give my life to touch with mylips those rosy palms—I understood now that from the moment when Ilooked into her dark eyes there on the moor last night I had loved her.My great and sudden passion held me speechless.

"Are you ill at ease?" she asked again.

Then, like a man who pronounces his own doom, I answered in a low voice:"Yes, I am ill at ease for love of you." And as she did not stir noranswer, the same power moved my lips in spite of me and I said, "I, whoam unworthy of the lightest of your thoughts, I who abuse hospitalityand repay your gentle courtesy with bold presumption, I love you."

She leaned her head upon her hands, and answered softly, "I love you.Your words are very dear to me. I love you."

"Then I shall win you."

"Win me," she replied.

But all the time I had been sitting silent, my face turned toward her.She, also silent, her sweet face resting on her upturned palm, satfacing me, and as her eyes looked into mine I knew that neither she norI had spoken human speech; but I knew that her soul had answered mine,and I drew myself up feeling youth and joyous love coursing throughevery vein. She, with a bright colour in her lovely face, seemed as oneawakened from a dream, and her eyes sought mine with a questioningglance which made me tremble with delight. We broke our fast, speakingof ourselves. I told her my name and she told me hers, the DemoiselleJeanne d'Ys.

She spoke of her father and mother's death, and how the nineteen of heryears had been passed in the little fortified farm alone with her nursePelagie, Glemarec René the piqueur, and the four falconers, Raoul,Gaston, Hastur, and the Sieur Piriou Louis, who had served her father.She had never been outside the moorland—never even had seen a humansoul before, except the falconers and Pelagie. She did not know how shehad heard of Kerselec; perhaps the falconers had spoken of it. She knewthe legends of Loup Garou and Jeanne la Flamme from her nurse Pelagie.She embroidered and spun flax. Her hawks and hounds were her onlydistraction. When she had met me there on the moor she had been sofrightened that she almost dropped at the sound of my voice. She had, itwas true, seen ships at sea from the cliffs, but as far as the eye couldreach the moors over which she galloped were destitute of any sign ofhuman life. There was a legend which old Pelagie told, how anybody oncelost in the unexplored moorland might never return, because the moorswere enchanted. She did not know whether it was true, she never hadthought about it until she met me. She did not know whether thefalconers had even been outside, or whether they could go if they would.The books in the house which Pelagie, the nurse, had taught her to readwere hundreds of years old.

All this she told me with a sweet seriousness seldom seen in any one butchildren. My own name she found easy to pronounce, and insisted, becausemy first name was Philip, I must have French blood in me. She did notseem curious to learn anything about the outside world, and I thoughtperhaps she considered it had forfeited her interest and respect fromthe stories of her nurse.

We were still sitting at the table, and she was throwing grapes to thesmall field birds which came fearlessly to our very feet.

I began to speak in a vague way of going, but she would not hear of it,and before I knew it I had promised to stay a week and hunt with hawkand hound in their company. I also obtained permission to come againfrom Kerselec and visit her after my return.

"Why," she said innocently, "I do not know what I should do if you nevercame back;" and I, knowing that I had no right to awaken her with thesudden shock which the avowal of my own love would bring to her, satsilent, hardly daring to breathe.

"You will come very often?" she asked.

"Very often," I said.

"Every day?"

"Every day."

"Oh," she sighed, "I am very happy. Come and see my hawks."

She rose and took my hand again with a childlike innocence ofpossession, and we walked through the garden and fruit trees to a grassylawn which was bordered by a brook. Over the lawn were scattered fifteenor twenty stumps of trees—partially imbedded in the grass—and upon allof these except two sat falcons. They were attached to the stumps bythongs which were in turn fastened with steel rivets to their legs justabove the talons. A little stream of pure spring water flowed in awinding course within easy distance of each perch.

The birds set up a clamour when the girl appeared, but she went from oneto another, caressing some, taking others for an instant upon her wrist,or stooping to adjust their jesses.

"Are they not pretty?" she said. "See, here is a falcon-gentil. We callit 'ignoble,' because it takes the quarry in direct chase. This is ablue falcon. In falconry we call it 'noble' because it rises over thequarry, and wheeling, drops upon it from above. This white bird is agerfalcon from the north. It is also 'noble!' Here is a merlin, and thistiercelet is a falcon-heroner."

I asked her how she had learned the old language of falconry. She didnot remember, but thought her father must have taught it to her when shewas very young.

Then she led me away and showed me the young falcons still in the nest."They are termed niais in falconry," she explained. "A branchier isthe young bird which is just able to leave the nest and hop from branchto branch. A young bird which has not yet moulted is called a sors,and a mué is a hawk which has moulted in captivity. When we catch awild falcon which has changed its plumage we term it a hagard. Raoulfirst taught me to dress a falcon. Shall I teach you how it is done?"

She seated herself on the bank of the stream among the falcons and Ithrew myself at her feet to listen.

Then the Demoiselle d'Ys held up one rosy-tipped finger and began verygravely.

"First one must catch the falcon."

"I am caught," I answered.

She laughed very prettily and told me my dressage would perhaps bedifficult, as I was noble.

"I am already tamed," I replied; "jessed and belled."

She laughed, delighted. "Oh, my brave falcon; then you will return at mycall?"

"I am yours," I answered gravely.

She sat silent for a moment. Then the colour heightened in her cheeksand she held up her finger again, saying, "Listen; I wish to speak offalconry—"

"I listen, Countess Jeanne d'Ys."

But again she fell into the reverie, and her eyes seemed fixed onsomething beyond the summer clouds.

"Philip," she said at last.

"Jeanne," I whispered.

"That is all,—that is what I wished," she sighed,—"Philip and Jeanne."

She held her hand toward me and I touched it with my lips.

"Win me," she said, but this time it was the body and soul which spokein unison.

After a while she began again: "Let us speak of falconry."

"Begin," I replied; "we have caught the falcon."

Then Jeanne d'Ys took my hand in both of hers and told me how withinfinite patience the young falcon was taught to perch upon the wrist,how little by little it became used to the belled jesses and thechaperon à cornette.

"They must first have a good appetite," she said; "then little by littleI reduce their nourishment; which in falconry we call pât. When, aftermany nights passed au bloc as these birds are now, I prevail upon thehagard to stay quietly on the wrist, then the bird is ready to betaught to come for its food. I fix the pât to the end of a thong, orleurre, and teach the bird to come to me as soon as I begin to whirlthe cord in circles about my head. At first I drop the pât when thefalcon comes, and he eats the food on the ground. After a little he willlearn to seize the leurre in motion as I whirl it around my head ordrag it over the ground. After this it is easy to teach the falcon tostrike at game, always remembering to 'faire courtoisie á l'oiseau',that is, to allow the bird to taste the quarry."

A squeal from one of the falcons interrupted her, and she arose toadjust the longe which had become whipped about the bloc, but thebird still flapped its wings and screamed.

"What is the matter?" she said. "Philip, can you see?"

I looked around and at first saw nothing to cause the commotion, whichwas now heightened by the screams and flapping of all the birds. Then myeye fell upon the flat rock beside the stream from which the girl hadrisen. A grey serpent was moving slowly across the surface of theboulder, and the eyes in its flat triangular head sparkled like jet.

"A couleuvre," she said quietly.

"It is harmless, is it not?" I asked.

She pointed to the black V-shaped figure on the neck.

"It is certain death," she said; "it is a viper."

We watched the reptile moving slowly over the smooth rock to where thesunlight fell in a broad warm patch.

I started forward to examine it, but she clung to my arm crying, "Don't,Philip, I am afraid."

"For me?"

"For you, Philip,—I love you."

Then I took her in my arms and kissed her on the lips, but all I couldsay was: "Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeanne." And as she lay trembling on mybreast, something struck my foot in the grass below, but I did not heedit. Then again something struck my ankle, and a sharp pain shot throughme. I looked into the sweet face of Jeanne d'Ys and kissed her, and withall my strength lifted her in my arms and flung her from me. Thenbending, I tore the viper from my ankle and set my heel upon its head. Iremember feeling weak and numb,—I remember falling to the ground.Through my slowly glazing eyes I saw Jeanne's white face bending closeto mine, and when the light in my eyes went out I still felt her armsabout my neck, and her soft cheek against my drawn lips.

When I opened my eyes, I looked around in terror. Jeanne was gone. I sawthe stream and the flat rock; I saw the crushed viper in the grassbeside me, but the hawks and blocs had disappeared. I sprang to myfeet. The garden, the fruit trees, the drawbridge and the walled courtwere gone. I stared stupidly at a heap of crumbling ruins, ivy-coveredand grey, through which great trees had pushed their way. I creptforward, dragging my numbed foot, and as I moved, a falcon sailed fromthe tree-tops among the ruins, and soaring, mounting in narrowingcircles, faded and vanished in the clouds above.

"Jeanne, Jeanne," I cried, but my voice died on my lips, and I fell onmy knees among the weeds. And as God willed it, I, not knowing, hadfallen kneeling before a crumbling shrine carved in stone for our Motherof Sorrows. I saw the sad face of the Virgin wrought in the cold stone.I saw the cross and thorns at her feet, and beneath it I read:

"PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF THE
DEMOISELLE JEANNE D'Ys,
WHO DIED
IN HER YOUTH FOR LOVE OF

PHILIP, A STRANGER.
A.D. 1573."

But upon the icy slab lay a woman's glove still warm and fragrant.

THE PROPHETS' PARADISE

"If but the Vine and Love Abjuring Band
Are in the Prophets' Paradise to stand,
Alack, I doubt the Prophets' Paradise,
Were empty as the hollow of one's hand."

THE STUDIO

He smiled, saying, "Seek her throughout the world."

I said, "Why tell me of the world? My world is here, between these wallsand the sheet of glass above; here among gilded flagons and dulljewelled arms, tarnished frames and canvasses, black chests andhigh-backed chairs, quaintly carved and stained in blue and gold."

"For whom do you wait?" he said, and I answered, "When she comes I shallknow her."

On my hearth a tongue of flame whispered secrets to the whitening ashes.In the street below I heard footsteps, a voice, and a song.

"For whom then do you wait?" he said, and I answered, "I shall knowher."

Footsteps, a voice, and a song in the street below, and I knew the songbut neither the steps nor the voice.

"Fool!" he cried, "the song is the same, the voice and steps have butchanged with years!"

On the hearth a tongue of flame whispered above the whitening ashes:"Wait no more; they have passed, the steps and the voice in the streetbelow."

Then he smiled, saying, "For whom do you wait? Seek her throughout theworld!"

I answered, "My world is here, between these walls and the sheet ofglass above; here among gilded flagons and dull jewelled arms, tarnishedframes and canvasses, black chests and high-backed chairs, quaintlycarved and stained in blue and gold."

THE PHANTOM

The Phantom of the Past would go no further.

"If it is true," she sighed, "that you find in me a friend, let us turnback together. You will forget, here, under the summer sky."

I held her close, pleading, caressing; I seized her, white with anger,but she resisted.

"If it is true," she sighed, "that you find in me a friend, let us turnback together."

The Phantom of the Past would go no further.

THE SACRIFICE

I went into a field of flowers, whose petals are whiter than snow andwhose hearts are pure gold.

Far afield a woman cried, "I have killed him I loved!" and from a jarshe poured blood upon the flowers whose petals are whiter than snow andwhose hearts are pure gold.

Far afield I followed, and on the jar I read a thousand names, whilefrom within the fresh blood bubbled to the brim.

"I have killed him I loved!" she cried. "The world's athirst; now let itdrink!" She passed, and far afield I watched her pouring blood upon theflowers whose petals are whiter than snow and whose hearts are puregold.

DESTINY

I came to the bridge which few may pass.

"Pass!" cried the keeper, but I laughed, saying, "There is time;" and hesmiled and shut the gates.

To the bridge which few may pass came young and old. All were refused.Idly I stood and counted them, until, wearied of their noise andlamentations, I came again to the bridge which few may pass.

Those in the throng about the gates shrieked out, "He comes too late!"But I laughed, saying, "There is time."

"Pass!" cried the keeper as I entered; then smiled and shut the gates.

THE THRONG

There, where the throng was thickest in the street, I stood withPierrot. All eyes were turned on me.

"What are they laughing at?" I asked, but he grinned, dusting the chalkfrom my black cloak. "I cannot see; it must be something droll, perhapsan honest thief!"

All eyes were turned on me.

"He has robbed you of your purse!" they laughed.

"My purse!" I cried; "Pierrot—help! it is a thief!"

They laughed: "He has robbed you of your purse!"

(Video) The King In Yellow - Videobook 🎧 Audiobook with Scrolling Text 📖

Then Truth stepped out, holding a mirror. "If he is an honest thief,"cried Truth, "Pierrot shall find him with this mirror!" but he onlygrinned, dusting the chalk from my black cloak.

"You see," he said, "Truth is an honest thief, she brings you back yourmirror."

All eyes were turned on me.

"Arrest Truth!" I cried, forgetting it was not a mirror but a purse Ilost, standing with Pierrot, there, where the throng was thickest in thestreet.

THE JESTER

"Was she fair?" I asked, but he only chuckled, listening to the bellsjingling on his cap.

"Stabbed," he tittered. "Think of the long journey, the days of peril,the dreadful nights! Think how he wandered, for her sake, year afteryear, through hostile lands, yearning for kith and kin, yearning forher!"

"Stabbed," he tittered, listening to the bells jingling on his cap.

"Was she fair?" I asked, but he only snarled, muttering to the bellsjingling on his cap.

"She kissed him at the gate," he tittered, "but in the hall hisbrother's welcome touched his heart."

"Was she fair?" I asked.

"Stabbed," he chuckled. "Think of the long journey, the days of peril,the dreadful nights! Think how he wandered, for her sake, year afteryear through hostile lands, yearning for kith and kin, yearning forher!"

"She kissed him at the gate, but in the hall his brother's welcometouched his heart."

"Was she fair?" I asked; but he only snarled, listening to the bellsjingling in his cap.

THE GREEN ROOM

The Clown turned his powdered face to the mirror.

"If to be fair is to be beautiful," he said, "who can compare with me inmy white mask?"

"Who can compare with him in his white mask?" I asked of Death besideme.

"Who can compare with me?" said Death, "for I am paler still."

"You are very beautiful," sighed the Clown, turning his powdered facefrom the mirror.

THE LOVE TEST

"If it is true that you love," said Love, "then wait no longer. Give herthese jewels which would dishonour her and so dishonour you in lovingone dishonoured. If it is true that you love," said Love, "then wait nolonger."

I took the jewels and went to her, but she trod upon them, sobbing:"Teach me to wait—I love you!"

"Then wait, if it is true," said Love.

THE STREET OF THE FOUR WINDS

"Ferme tes yeux à demi,
Croise tes bras sur ton sein,
Et de ton cœur endormi
Chasse à jamais tout dessein."
"Je chante la nature,
Les étoiles du soir, les larmes du matin,
Les couchers de soleil à l'horizon lointain,
Le ciel qui parle au cœur d'existence future!"

I

The animal paused on the threshold, interrogative alert, ready forflight if necessary. Severn laid down his palette, and held out a handof welcome. The cat remained motionless, her yellow eyes fastened uponSevern.

"Puss," he said, in his low, pleasant voice, "come in."

The tip of her thin tail twitched uncertainly.

"Come in," he said again.

Apparently she found his voice reassuring, for she slowly settled uponall fours, her eyes still fastened upon him, her tail tucked under hergaunt flanks.

He rose from his easel smiling. She eyed him quietly, and when he walkedtoward her she watched him bend above her without a wince; her eyesfollowed his hand until it touched her head. Then she uttered a raggedmew.

It had long been Severn's custom to converse with animals, probablybecause he lived so much alone; and now he said, "What's the matter,puss?"

Her timid eyes sought his.

"I understand," he said gently, "you shall have it at once."

Then moving quietly about he busied himself with the duties of a host,rinsed a saucer, filled it with the rest of the milk from the bottle onthe window-sill, and kneeling down, crumbled a roll into the hollow ofhis hand.

The creature rose and crept toward the saucer.

With the handle of a palette-knife he stirred the crumbs and milktogether and stepped back as she thrust her nose into the mess. Hewatched her in silence. From time to time the saucer clinked upon thetiled floor as she reached for a morsel on the rim; and at last thebread was all gone, and her purple tongue travelled over every unlickedspot until the saucer shone like polished marble. Then she sat up, andcoolly turning her back to him, began her ablutions.

"Keep it up," said Severn, much interested, "you need it."

She flattened one ear, but neither turned nor interrupted her toilet. Asthe grime was slowly removed Severn observed that nature had intendedher for a white cat. Her fur had disappeared in patches, from disease orthe chances of war, her tail was bony and her spine sharp. But whatcharms she had were becoming apparent under vigorous licking, and hewaited until she had finished before re-opening the conversation. Whenat last she closed her eyes and folded her forepaws under her breast, hebegan again very gently: "Puss, tell me your troubles."

At the sound of his voice she broke into a harsh rumbling which herecognized as an attempt to purr. He bent over to rub her cheek and shemewed again, an amiable inquiring little mew, to which he replied,"Certainly, you are greatly improved, and when you recover your plumageyou will be a gorgeous bird." Much flattered, she stood up and marchedaround and around his legs, pushing her head between them and makingpleased remarks, to which he responded with grave politeness.

"Now, what sent you here," he said—"here into the Street of the FourWinds, and up five flights to the very door where you would be welcome?What was it that prevented your meditated flight when I turned from mycanvas to encounter your yellow eyes? Are you a Latin Quarter cat as Iam a Latin Quarter man? And why do you wear a rose-coloured floweredgarter buckled about your neck?" The cat had climbed into his lap, andnow sat purring as he passed his hand over her thin coat.

"Excuse me," he continued in lazy soothing tones, harmonizing with herpurring, "if I seem indelicate, but I cannot help musing on thisrose-coloured garter, flowered so quaintly and fastened with a silverclasp. For the clasp is silver; I can see the mint mark on the edge, asis prescribed by the law of the French Republic. Now, why is this garterwoven of rose silk and delicately embroidered,—why is this silkengarter with its silver clasp about your famished throat? Am I indiscreetwhen I inquire if its owner is your owner? Is she some aged dame livingin memory of youthful vanities, fond, doting on you, decorating you withher intimate personal attire? The circumference of the garter wouldsuggest this, for your neck is thin, and the garter fits you. But thenagain I notice—I notice most things—that the garter is capable ofbeing much enlarged. These small silver-rimmed eyelets, of which I countfive, are proof of that. And now I observe that the fifth eyelet is wornout, as though the tongue of the clasp were accustomed to lie there.That seems to argue a well-rounded form."

The cat curled her toes in contentment. The street was very stilloutside.

He murmured on: "Why should your mistress decorate you with an articlemost necessary to her at all times? Anyway, at most times. How did shecome to slip this bit of silk and silver about your neck? Was it thecaprice of a moment,—when you, before you had lost your pristineplumpness, marched singing into her bedroom to bid her good-morning? Ofcourse, and she sat up among the pillows, her coiled hair tumbling toher shoulders, as you sprang upon the bed purring: 'Good-day, my lady.'Oh, it is very easy to understand," he yawned, resting his head on theback of the chair. The cat still purred, tightening and relaxing herpadded claws over his knee.

"Shall I tell you all about her, cat? She is very beautiful—yourmistress," he murmured drowsily, "and her hair is heavy as burnishedgold. I could paint her,—not on canvas—for I should need shades andtones and hues and dyes more splendid than the iris of a splendidrainbow. I could only paint her with closed eyes, for in dreams alonecan such colours as I need be found. For her eyes, I must have azurefrom skies untroubled by a cloud—the skies of dreamland. For her lips,roses from the palaces of slumberland, and for her brow, snow-driftsfrom mountains which tower in fantastic pinnacles to the moons;—oh,much higher than our moon here,—the crystal moons of dreamland. Sheis—very—beautiful, your mistress."

The words died on his lips and his eyelids drooped.

The cat, too, was asleep, her cheek turned up upon her wasted flank, herpaws relaxed and limp.

II

"It is fortunate," said Severn, sitting up and stretching, "that we havetided over the dinner hour, for I have nothing to offer you for supperbut what may be purchased with one silver franc."

The cat on his knee rose, arched her back, yawned, and looked up at him.

"What shall it be? A roast chicken with salad? No? Possibly you preferbeef? Of course,—and I shall try an egg and some white bread. Now forthe wines. Milk for you? Good. I shall take a little water, fresh fromthe wood," with a motion toward the bucket in the sink.

He put on his hat and left the room. The cat followed to the door, andafter he had closed it behind him, she settled down, smelling at thecracks, and cocking one ear at every creak from the crazy old building.

The door below opened and shut. The cat looked serious, for a momentdoubtful, and her ears flattened in nervous expectation. Presently sherose with a jerk of her tail and started on a noiseless tour of thestudio. She sneezed at a pot of turpentine, hastily retreating to thetable, which she presently mounted, and having satisfied her curiosityconcerning a roll of red modelling wax, returned to the door and satdown with her eyes on the crack over the threshold. Then she lifted hervoice in a thin plaint.

When Severn returned he looked grave, but the cat, joyous anddemonstrative, marched around him, rubbing her gaunt body against hislegs, driving her head enthusiastically into his hand, and purring untilher voice mounted to a squeal.

He placed a bit of meat, wrapped in brown paper, upon the table, andwith a penknife cut it into shreds. The milk he took from a bottle whichhad served for medicine, and poured it into the saucer on the hearth.

The cat crouched before it, purring and lapping at the same time.

He cooked his egg and ate it with a slice of bread, watching her busywith the shredded meat, and when he had finished, and had filled andemptied a cup of water from the bucket in the sink, he sat down, takingher into his lap, where she at once curled up and began her toilet. Hebegan to speak again, touching her caressingly at times by way ofemphasis.

"Cat, I have found out where your mistress lives. It is not very faraway;—it is here, under this same leaky roof, but in the north wingwhich I had supposed was uninhabited. My janitor tells me this. Bychance, he is almost sober this evening. The butcher on the rue deSeine, where I bought your meat, knows you, and old Cabane the bakeridentified you with needless sarcasm. They tell me hard tales of yourmistress which I shall not believe. They say she is idle and vain andpleasure-loving; they say she is hare-brained and reckless. The littlesculptor on the ground floor, who was buying rolls from old Cabane,spoke to me to-night for the first time, although we have always bowedto each other. He said she was very good and very beautiful. He has onlyseen her once, and does not know her name. I thanked him;—I don't knowwhy I thanked him so warmly. Cabane said, 'Into this cursed Street ofthe Four Winds, the four winds blow all things evil.' The sculptorlooked confused, but when he went out with his rolls, he said to me, 'Iam sure, Monsieur, that she is as good as she is beautiful.'"

The cat had finished her toilet, and now, springing softly to the floor,went to the door and sniffed. He knelt beside her, and unclasping thegarter held it for a moment in his hands. After a while he said: "Thereis a name engraved upon the silver clasp beneath the buckle. It is apretty name, Sylvia Elven. Sylvia is a woman's name, Elven is the nameof a town. In Paris, in this quarter, above all, in this Street of theFour Winds, names are worn and put away as the fashions change with theseasons. I know the little town of Elven, for there I met Fate face toface and Fate was unkind. But do you know that in Elven Fate had anothername, and that name was Sylvia?"

He replaced the garter and stood up looking down at the cat crouchedbefore the closed door.

"The name of Elven has a charm for me. It tells me of meadows and clearrivers. The name of Sylvia troubles me like perfume from dead flowers."

The cat mewed.

"Yes, yes," he said soothingly, "I will take you back. Your Sylvia isnot my Sylvia; the world is wide and Elven is not unknown. Yet in thedarkness and filth of poorer Paris, in the sad shadows of this ancienthouse, these names are very pleasant to me."

He lifted her in his arms and strode through the silent corridors to thestairs. Down five flights and into the moonlit court, past the littlesculptor's den, and then again in at the gate of the north wing and upthe worm-eaten stairs he passed, until he came to a closed door. When hehad stood knocking for a long time, something moved behind the door; itopened and he went in. The room was dark. As he crossed the threshold,the cat sprang from his arms into the shadows. He listened but heardnothing. The silence was oppressive and he struck a match. At his elbowstood a table and on the table a candle in a gilded candlestick. This helighted, then looked around. The chamber was vast, the hangings heavywith embroidery. Over the fireplace towered a carved mantel, grey withthe ashes of dead fires. In a recess by the deep-set windows stood abed, from which the bedclothes, soft and fine as lace, trailed to thepolished floor. He lifted the candle above his head. A handkerchief layat his feet. It was faintly perfumed. He turned toward the windows. Infront of them was a canapé and over it were flung, pell-mell, a gownof silk, a heap of lace-like garments, white and delicate as spiders'meshes, long, crumpled gloves, and, on the floor beneath, the stockings,the little pointed shoes, and one garter of rosy silk, quaintly floweredand fitted with a silver clasp. Wondering, he stepped forward and drewthe heavy curtains from the bed. For a moment the candle flared in hishand; then his eyes met two other eyes, wide open, smiling, and thecandle-flame flashed over hair heavy as gold.

She was pale, but not as white as he; her eyes were untroubled as achild's; but he stared, trembling from head to foot, while the candleflickered in his hand.

At last he whispered: "Sylvia, it is I."

Again he said, "It is I."

Then, knowing that she was dead, he kissed her on the mouth. And throughthe long watches of the night the cat purred on his knee, tightening andrelaxing her padded claws, until the sky paled above the Street of theFour Winds.

THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL

"Be of Good Cheer, the Sullen Month will die,
And a young Moon requite us by and by:
Look how the Old one, meagre, bent, and wan
With age and Fast, is fainting from the sky."

The room was already dark. The high roofs opposite cut off what littleremained of the December daylight. The girl drew her chair nearer thewindow, and choosing a large needle, threaded it, knotting the threadover her fingers. Then she smoothed the baby garment across her knees,and bending, bit off the thread and drew the smaller needle from whereit rested in the hem. When she had brushed away the stray threads andbits of lace, she laid it again over her knees caressingly. Then sheslipped the threaded needle from her corsage and passed it through abutton, but as the button spun down the thread, her hand faltered, thethread snapped, and the button rolled across the floor. She raised herhead. Her eyes were fixed on a strip of waning light above the chimneys.From somewhere in the city came sounds like the distant beating ofdrums, and beyond, far beyond, a vague muttering, now growing, swelling,rumbling in the distance like the pounding of surf upon the rocks, nowlike the surf again, receding, growling, menacing. The cold had becomeintense, a bitter piercing cold which strained and snapped at joist andbeam and turned the slush of yesterday to flint. From the street belowevery sound broke sharp and metallic—the clatter of sabots, the rattleof shutters or the rare sound of a human voice. The air was heavy,weighted with the black cold as with a pall. To breathe was painful, tomove an effort.

In the desolate sky there was something that wearied, in the broodingclouds, something that saddened. It penetrated the freezing city cut bythe freezing river, the splendid city with its towers and domes, itsquays and bridges and its thousand spires. It entered the squares, itseized the avenues and the palaces, stole across bridges and crept amongthe narrow streets of the Latin Quarter, grey under the grey of theDecember sky. Sadness, utter sadness. A fine icy sleet was falling,powdering the pavement with a tiny crystalline dust. It sifted againstthe window-panes and drifted in heaps along the sill. The light at thewindow had nearly failed, and the girl bent low over her work. Presentlyshe raised her head, brushing the curls from her eyes.

"Jack?"

"Dearest?"

"Don't forget to clean your palette."

He said, "All right," and picking up the palette, sat down upon thefloor in front of the stove. His head and shoulders were in the shadow,but the firelight fell across his knees and glimmered red on the bladeof the palette-knife. Full in the firelight beside him stood acolour-box. On the lid was carved,

J. TRENT.
École des Beaux Arts.
1870.

This inscription was ornamented with an American and a French flag.

The sleet blew against the window-panes, covering them with stars anddiamonds, then, melting from the warmer air within, ran down and frozeagain in fern-like traceries.

A dog whined and the patter of small paws sounded on the zinc behind thestove.

"Jack, dear, do you think Hercules is hungry?"

The patter of paws was redoubled behind the stove.

"He's whining," she continued nervously, "and if it isn't because he'shungry it is because—"

Her voice faltered. A loud humming filled the air, the windows vibrated.

"Oh, Jack," she cried, "another—" but her voice was drowned in thescream of a shell tearing through the clouds overhead.

"That is the nearest yet," she murmured.

"Oh, no," he answered cheerfully, "it probably fell way over byMontmartre," and as she did not answer, he said again with exaggeratedunconcern, "They wouldn't take the trouble to fire at the Latin Quarter;anyway they haven't a battery that can hurt it."

After a while she spoke up brightly: "Jack, dear, when are you going totake me to see Monsieur West's statues?"

"I will bet," he said, throwing down his palette and walking over to thewindow beside her, "that Colette has been here to-day."

"Why?" she asked, opening her eyes very wide. Then, "Oh, it's toobad!—really, men are tiresome when they think they know everything! AndI warn you that if Monsieur West is vain enough to imagine thatColette—"

From the north another shell came whistling and quavering through thesky, passing above them with long-drawn screech which left the windowssinging.

"That," he blurted out, "was too near for comfort."

They were silent for a while, then he spoke again gaily: "Go on, Sylvia,and wither poor West;" but she only sighed, "Oh, dear, I can never seemto get used to the shells."

He sat down on the arm of the chair beside her.

Her scissors fell jingling to the floor; she tossed the unfinished frockafter them, and putting both arms about his neck drew him down into herlap.

"Don't go out to-night, Jack."

He kissed her uplifted face; "You know I must; don't make it hard forme."

"But when I hear the shells and—and know you are out in the city—"

"But they all fall in Montmartre—"

"They may all fall in the Beaux Arts; you said yourself that two struckthe Quai d'Orsay—"

"Mere accident—"

"Jack, have pity on me! Take me with you!"

"And who will there be to get dinner?"

She rose and flung herself on the bed.

"Oh, I can't get used to it, and I know you must go, but I beg you notto be late to dinner. If you knew what I suffer! I—I—cannot help it,and you must be patient with me, dear."

He said, "It is as safe there as it is in our own house."

She watched him fill for her the alcohol lamp, and when he had lightedit and had taken his hat to go, she jumped up and clung to him insilence. After a moment he said: "Now, Sylvia, remember my courage issustained by yours. Come, I must go!" She did not move, and he repeated:"I must go." Then she stepped back and he thought she was going to speakand waited, but she only looked at him, and, a little impatiently, hekissed her again, saying: "Don't worry, dearest."

When he had reached the last flight of stairs on his way to the street awoman hobbled out of the house-keeper's lodge waving a letter andcalling: "Monsieur Jack! Monsieur Jack! this was left by MonsieurFallowby!"

He took the letter, and leaning on the threshold of the lodge, read it:

"Dear Jack,

"I believe Braith is dead broke and I'm sure Fallowby is. Braith swearshe isn't, and Fallowby swears he is, so you can draw your ownconclusions. I've got a scheme for a dinner, and if it works, I will letyou fellows in.

"Yours faithfully,
"WEST.

"P.S.—Fallowby has shaken Hartman and his gang, thank the Lord! Thereis something rotten there,—or it may be he's only a miser.

"P.P.S.—I'm more desperately in love than ever, but I'm sure she doesnot care a straw for me."

"All right," said Trent, with a smile, to the concierge; "but tell me,how is Papa Cottard?"

The old woman shook her head and pointed to the curtained bed in thelodge.

"Père Cottard!" he cried cheerily, "how goes the wound to-day?"

He walked over to the bed and drew the curtains. An old man was lyingamong the tumbled sheets.

"Better?" smiled Trent.

"Better," repeated the man wearily; and, after a pause, "Have you anynews, Monsieur Jack?"

"I haven't been out to-day. I will bring you any rumour I may hear,though goodness knows I've got enough of rumours," he muttered tohimself. Then aloud: "Cheer up; you're looking better."

"And the sortie?"

"Oh, the sortie, that's for this week. General Trochu sent orders lastnight."

"It will be terrible."

"It will be sickening," thought Trent as he went out into the street andturned the corner toward the rue de Seine; "slaughter, slaughter, phew!I'm glad I'm not going."

The street was almost deserted. A few women muffled in tattered militarycapes crept along the frozen pavement, and a wretchedly clad gaminhovered over the sewer-hole on the corner of the Boulevard. A ropearound his waist held his rags together. From the rope hung a rat, stillwarm and bleeding.

"There's another in there," he yelled at Trent; "I hit him but he gotaway."

Trent crossed the street and asked: "How much?"

"Two francs for a quarter of a fat one; that's what they give at the St.Germain Market."

A violent fit of coughing interrupted him, but he wiped his face withthe palm of his hand and looked cunningly at Trent.

"Last week you could buy a rat for six francs, but," and here he sworevilely, "the rats have quit the rue de Seine and they kill them now overby the new hospital. I'll let you have this for seven francs; I can sellit for ten in the Isle St. Louis."

"You lie," said Trent, "and let me tell you that if you try to swindleanybody in this quarter the people will make short work of you and yourrats."

He stood a moment eyeing the gamin, who pretended to snivel. Then hetossed him a franc, laughing. The child caught it, and thrusting it intohis mouth wheeled about to the sewer-hole. For a second he crouched,motionless, alert, his eyes on the bars of the drain, then leapingforward he hurled a stone into the gutter, and Trent left him to finisha fierce grey rat that writhed squealing at the mouth of the sewer.

"Suppose Braith should come to that," he thought; "poor little chap;"and hurrying, he turned in the dirty passage des Beaux Arts and enteredthe third house to the left.

"Monsieur is at home," quavered the old concierge.

Home? A garret absolutely bare, save for the iron bedstead in the cornerand the iron basin and pitcher on the floor.

West appeared at the door, winking with much mystery, and motioned Trentto enter. Braith, who was painting in bed to keep warm, looked up,laughed, and shook hands.

"Any news?"

The perfunctory question was answered as usual by: "Nothing but thecannon."

Trent sat down on the bed.

"Where on earth did you get that?" he demanded, pointing to ahalf-finished chicken nestling in a wash-basin.

West grinned.

"Are you millionaires, you two? Out with it."

Braith, looking a little ashamed, began, "Oh, it's one of West'sexploits," but was cut short by West, who said he would tell the storyhimself.

"You see, before the siege, I had a letter of introduction to a 'type'here, a fat banker, German-American variety. You know the species, Isee. Well, of course I forgot to present the letter, but this morning,judging it to be a favourable opportunity, I called on him.

"The villain lives in comfort;—fires, my boy!—fires in the ante-rooms!The Buttons finally condescends to carry my letter and card up, leavingme standing in the hallway, which I did not like, so I entered the firstroom I saw and nearly fainted at the sight of a banquet on a table bythe fire. Down comes Buttons, very insolent. No, oh, no, his master, 'isnot at home, and in fact is too busy to receive letters of introductionjust now; the siege, and many business difficulties—'

"I deliver a kick to Buttons, pick up this chicken from the table, tossmy card on to the empty plate, and addressing Buttons as a species ofPrussian pig, march out with the honours of war."

Trent shook his head.

"I forgot to say that Hartman often dines there, and I draw my ownconclusions," continued West. "Now about this chicken, half of it is forBraith and myself, and half for Colette, but of course you will help meeat my part because I'm not hungry."

"Neither am I," began Braith, but Trent, with a smile at the pinchedfaces before him, shook his head saying, "What nonsense! You know I'mnever hungry!"

West hesitated, reddened, and then slicing off Braith's portion, but noteating any himself, said good-night, and hurried away to number 470 rueSerpente, where lived a pretty girl named Colette, orphan after Sedan,and Heaven alone knew where she got the roses in her cheeks, for thesiege came hard on the poor.

"That chicken will delight her, but I really believe she's in love withWest," said Trent. Then walking over to the bed: "See here, old man, nododging, you know, how much have you left?"

The other hesitated and flushed.

"Come, old chap," insisted Trent.

Braith drew a purse from beneath his bolster, and handed it to hisfriend with a simplicity that touched him.

"Seven sons," he counted; "you make me tired! Why on earth don't youcome to me? I take it d——d ill, Braith! How many times must I go overthe same thing and explain to you that because I have money it is myduty to share it, and your duty and the duty of every American to shareit with me? You can't get a cent, the city's blockaded, and the AmericanMinister has his hands full with all the German riff-raff and deuceknows what! Why don't you act sensibly?"

"I—I will, Trent, but it's an obligation that perhaps I can never evenin part repay, I'm poor and—"

"Of course you'll pay me! If I were a usurer I would take your talentfor security. When you are rich and famous—"

"Don't, Trent—"

"All right, only no more monkey business."

He slipped a dozen gold pieces into the purse, and tucking it againunder the mattress smiled at Braith.

"How old are you?" he demanded.

"Sixteen."

Trent laid his hand lightly on his friend's shoulder. "I'm twenty-two,and I have the rights of a grandfather as far as you are concerned.You'll do as I say until you're twenty-one."

"The siège will be over then, I hope," said Braith, trying to laugh, butthe prayer in their hearts: "How long, O Lord, how long!" was answeredby the swift scream of a shell soaring among the storm-clouds of thatDecember night.

II

West, standing in the doorway of a house in the rue Serpentine, wasspeaking angrily. He said he didn't care whether Hartman liked it ornot; he was telling him, not arguing with him.

"You call yourself an American!" he sneered; "Berlin and hell are fullof that kind of American. You come loafing about Colette with yourpockets stuffed with white bread and beef, and a bottle of wine atthirty francs and you can't really afford to give a dollar to theAmerican Ambulance and Public Assistance, which Braith does, and he'shalf starved!"

Hartman retreated to the curbstone, but West followed him, his face likea thunder-cloud. "Don't you dare to call yourself a countryman of mine,"he growled,—"no,—nor an artist either! Artists don't worm themselvesinto the service of the Public Defence where they do nothing but feedlike rats on the people's food! And I'll tell you now," he continueddropping his voice, for Hartman had started as though stung, "you mightbetter keep away from that Alsatian Brasserie and the smug-faced thieveswho haunt it. You know what they do with suspects!"

"You lie, you hound!" screamed Hartman, and flung the bottle in his handstraight at West's face. West had him by the throat in a second, andforcing him against the dead wall shook him wickedly.

"Now you listen to me," he muttered, through his clenched teeth. "Youare already a suspect and—I swear—I believe you are a paid spy! Itisn't my business to detect such vermin, and I don't intend to denounceyou, but understand this! Colette don't like you and I can't stand you,and if I catch you in this street again I'll make it somewhatunpleasant. Get out, you sleek Prussian!"

Hartman had managed to drag a knife from his pocket, but West tore itfrom him and hurled him into the gutter. A gamin who had seen this burstinto a peal of laughter, which rattled harshly in the silent street.Then everywhere windows were raised and rows of haggard faces appeareddemanding to know why people should laugh in the starving city.

"Is it a victory?" murmured one.

"Look at that," cried West as Hartman picked himself up from thepavement, "look! you miser! look at those faces!" But Hartman gave hima look which he never forgot, and walked away without a word. Trent, whosuddenly appeared at the corner, glanced curiously at West, who merelynodded toward his door saying, "Come in; Fallowby's upstairs."

"What are you doing with that knife?" demanded Fallowby, as he and Trententered the studio.

West looked at his wounded hand, which still clutched the knife, butsaying, "Cut myself by accident," tossed it into a corner and washed theblood from his fingers.

Fallowby, fat and lazy, watched him without comment, but Trent, halfdivining how things had turned, walked over to Fallowby smiling.

"I've a bone to pick with you!" he said.

"Where is it? I'm hungry," replied Fallowby with affected eagerness, butTrent, frowning, told him to listen.

"How much did I advance you a week ago?"

"Three hundred and eighty francs," replied the other, with a squirm ofcontrition.

"Where is it?"

Fallowby began a series of intricate explanations, which were soon cutshort by Trent.

"I know; you blew it in;—you always blow it in. I don't care a rap whatyou did before the siege: I know you are rich and have a right todispose of your money as you wish to, and I also know that, generallyspeaking, it is none of my business. But now it is my business, as Ihave to supply the funds until you get some more, which you won't untilthe siege is ended one way or another. I wish to share what I have, butI won't see it thrown out of the window. Oh, yes, of course I know youwill reimburse me, but that isn't the question; and, anyway, it's theopinion of your friends, old man, that you will not be worse off for alittle abstinence from fleshly pleasures. You are positively a freak inthis famine-cursed city of skeletons!"

"I am rather stout," he admitted.

"Is it true you are out of money?" demanded Trent.

"Yes, I am," sighed the other.

"That roast sucking pig on the rue St. Honoré,—is it there yet?"continued Trent.

"Wh—at?" stammered the feeble one.

"Ah—I thought so! I caught you in ecstasy before that sucking pig atleast a dozen times!"

Then laughing, he presented Fallowby with a roll of twenty franc piecessaying: "If these go for luxuries you must live on your own flesh," andwent over to aid West, who sat beside the wash-basin binding up hishand.

West suffered him to tie the knot, and then said: "You remember,yesterday, when I left you and Braith to take the chicken to Colette."

"Chicken! Good heavens!" moaned Fallowby.

"Chicken," repeated West, enjoying Fallowby's grief;—"I—that is, Imust explain that things are changed. Colette and I—are to bemarried—"

"What—what about the chicken?" groaned Fallowby.

"Shut up!" laughed Trent, and slipping his arm through West's, walked tothe stairway.

"The poor little thing," said West, "just think, not a splinter offirewood for a week and wouldn't tell me because she thought I needed itfor my clay figure. Whew! When I heard it I smashed that smirking claynymph to pieces, and the rest can freeze and be hanged!" After a momenthe added timidly: "Won't you call on your way down and say bon soir?It's No. 17."

"Yes," said Trent, and he went out softly closing the door behind.

He stopped on the third landing, lighted a match, scanned the numbersover the row of dingy doors, and knocked at No. 17.

"C'est toi Georges?" The door opened.

"Oh, pardon, Monsieur Jack, I thought it was Monsieur West," thenblushing furiously, "Oh, I see you have heard! Oh, thank you so much foryour wishes, and I'm sure we love each other very much,—and I'm dyingto see Sylvia and tell her and—"

"And what?" laughed Trent.

"I am very happy," she sighed.

"He's pure gold," returned Trent, and then gaily: "I want you and Georgeto come and dine with us to-night. It's a little treat,—you seeto-morrow is Sylvia's fête. She will be nineteen. I have written toThorne, and the Guernalecs will come with their cousin Odile. Fallowbyhas engaged not to bring anybody but himself."

The girl accepted shyly, charging him with loads of loving messages toSylvia, and he said good-night.

He started up the street, walking swiftly, for it was bitter cold, andcutting across the rue de la Lune he entered the rue de Seine. The earlywinter night had fallen, almost without warning, but the sky was clearand myriads of stars glittered in the heavens. The bombardment hadbecome furious—a steady rolling thunder from the Prussian cannonpunctuated by the heavy shocks from Mont Valérien.

The shells streamed across the sky leaving trails like shooting stars,and now, as he turned to look back, rockets blue and red flared abovethe horizon from the Fort of Issy, and the Fortress of the North flamedlike a bonfire.

"Good news!" a man shouted over by the Boulevard St. Germain. As if bymagic the streets were filled with people,—shivering, chattering peoplewith shrunken eyes.

"Jacques!" cried one. "The Army of the Loire!"

"Eh! mon vieux, it has come then at last! I told thee! I told thee!To-morrow—to-night—who knows?"

"Is it true? Is it a sortie?"

Some one said: "Oh, God—a sortie—and my son?" Another cried: "To theSeine? They say one can see the signals of the Army of the Loire fromthe Pont Neuf."

There was a child standing near Trent who kept repeating: "Mamma, Mamma,then to-morrow we may eat white bread?" and beside him, an old manswaying, stumbling, his shrivelled hands crushed to his breast,muttering as if insane.

"Could it be true? Who has heard the news? The shoemaker on the rue deBuci had it from a Mobile who had heard a Franctireur repeat it to acaptain of the National Guard."

Trent followed the throng surging through the rue de Seine to the river.

Rocket after rocket clove the sky, and now, from Montmartre, the cannonclanged, and the batteries on Montparnasse joined in with a crash. Thebridge was packed with people.

Trent asked: "Who has seen the signals of the Army of the Loire?"

"We are waiting for them," was the reply.

He looked toward the north. Suddenly the huge silhouette of the Arc deTriomphe sprang into black relief against the flash of a cannon. Theboom of the gun rolled along the quay and the old bridge vibrated.

Again over by the Point du Jour a flash and heavy explosion shook thebridge, and then the whole eastern bastion of the fortifications blazedand crackled, sending a red flame into the sky.

"Has any one seen the signals yet?" he asked again.

"We are waiting," was the reply.

"Yes, waiting," murmured a man behind him, "waiting, sick, starved,freezing, but waiting. Is it a sortie? They go gladly. Is it to starve?They starve. They have no time to think of surrender. Are theyheroes,—these Parisians? Answer me, Trent!"

The American Ambulance surgeon turned about and scanned the parapets ofthe bridge.

"Any news, Doctor," asked Trent mechanically.

"News?" said the doctor; "I don't know any;—I haven't time to know any.What are these people after?"

"They say that the Army of the Loire has signalled Mont Valérien."

"Poor devils." The doctor glanced about him for an instant, and then:"I'm so harried and worried that I don't know what to do. After the lastsortie we had the work of fifty ambulances on our poor little corps.To-morrow there's another sortie, and I wish you fellows could come overto headquarters. We may need volunteers. How is madame?" he addedabruptly.

"Well," replied Trent, "but she seems to grow more nervous every day. Iought to be with her now."

"Take care of her," said the doctor, then with a sharp look at thepeople: "I can't stop now—good-night!" and he hurried away muttering,"Poor devils!"

Trent leaned over the parapet and blinked at the black river surgingthrough the arches. Dark objects, carried swiftly on the breast of thecurrent, struck with a grinding tearing noise against the stone piers,spun around for an instant, and hurried away into the darkness. The icefrom the Marne.

As he stood staring into the water, a hand was laid on his shoulder."Hello, Southwark!" he cried, turning around; "this is a queer place foryou!"

"Trent, I have something to tell you. Don't stay here,—don't believe inthe Army of the Loire:" and the attaché of the American Legationslipped his arm through Trent's and drew him toward the Louvre.

"Then it's another lie!" said Trent bitterly.

"Worse—we know at the Legation—I can't speak of it. But that's notwhat I have to say. Something happened this afternoon. The AlsatianBrasserie was visited and an American named Hartman has been arrested.Do you know him?"

"I know a German who calls himself an American;—his name is Hartman."

"Well, he was arrested about two hours ago. They mean to shoot him."

"What!"

"Of course we at the Legation can't allow them to shoot him off-hand,but the evidence seems conclusive."

"Is he a spy?"

"Well, the papers seized in his rooms are pretty damning proofs, andbesides he was caught, they say, swindling the Public Food Committee. Hedrew rations for fifty, how, I don't know. He claims to be an Americanartist here, and we have been obliged to take notice of it at theLegation. It's a nasty affair."

"To cheat the people at such a time is worse than robbing the poor-box,"cried Trent angrily. "Let them shoot him!"

"He's an American citizen."

"Yes, oh yes," said the other with bitterness. "American citizenship isa precious privilege when every goggle-eyed German—" His anger chokedhim.

Southwark shook hands with him warmly. "It can't be helped, we must ownthe carrion. I am afraid you may be called upon to identify him as anAmerican artist," he said with a ghost of a smile on his deep-linedface; and walked away through the Cours la Reine.

Trent swore silently for a moment and then drew out his watch. Seveno'clock. "Sylvia will be anxious," he thought, and hurried back to theriver. The crowd still huddled shivering on the bridge, a sombre pitifulcongregation, peering out into the night for the signals of the Army ofthe Loire: and their hearts beat time to the pounding of the guns, theireyes lighted with each flash from the bastions, and hope rose with thedrifting rockets.

A black cloud hung over the fortifications. From horizon to horizon thecannon smoke stretched in wavering bands, now capping the spires anddomes with cloud, now blowing in streamers and shreds along the streets,now descending from the housetops, enveloping quays, bridges, and river,in a sulphurous mist. And through the smoke pall the lightning of thecannon played, while from time to time a rift above showed a fathomlessblack vault set with stars.

He turned again into the rue de Seine, that sad abandoned street, withits rows of closed shutters and desolate ranks of unlighted lamps. Hewas a little nervous and wished once or twice for a revolver, but theslinking forms which passed him in the darkness were too weak withhunger to be dangerous, he thought, and he passed on unmolested to hisdoorway. But there somebody sprang at his throat. Over and over the icypavement he rolled with his assailant, tearing at the noose about hisneck, and then with a wrench sprang to his feet.

"Get up," he cried to the other.

Slowly and with great deliberation, a small gamin picked himself out ofthe gutter and surveyed Trent with disgust.

"That's a nice clean trick," said Trent; "a whelp of your age! You'llfinish against a dead wall! Give me that cord!"

The urchin handed him the noose without a word.

Trent struck a match and looked at his assailant. It was the rat-killerof the day before.

"H'm! I thought so," he muttered.

"Tiens, c'est toi?" said the gamin tranquilly.

The impudence, the overpowering audacity of the ragamuffin took Trent'sbreath away.

"Do you know, you young strangler," he gasped, "that they shoot thievesof your age?"

The child turned a passionless face to Trent. "Shoot, then."

That was too much, and he turned on his heel and entered his hotel.

Groping up the unlighted stairway, he at last reached his own landingand felt about in the darkness for the door. From his studio came thesound of voices, West's hearty laugh and Fallowby's chuckle, and at lasthe found the knob and, pushing back the door, stood a moment confused bythe light.

"Hello, Jack!" cried West, "you're a pleasant creature, inviting peopleto dine and letting them wait. Here's Fallowby weeping with hunger—"

"Shut up," observed the latter, "perhaps he's been out to buy a turkey."

"He's been out garroting, look at his noose!" laughed Guernalec.

"So now we know where you get your cash!" added West; "vive le coup duPère François!"

Trent shook hands with everybody and laughed at Sylvia's pale face.

"I didn't mean to be late; I stopped on the bridge a moment to watch thebombardment. Were you anxious, Sylvia?"

She smiled and murmured, "Oh, no!" but her hand dropped into his andtightened convulsively.

"To the table!" shouted Fallowby, and uttered a joyous whoop.

"Take it easy," observed Thorne, with a remnant of manners; "you are notthe host, you know."

Marie Guernalec, who had been chattering with Colette, jumped up andtook Thorne's arm and Monsieur Guernalec drew Odile's arm through his.

Trent, bowing gravely, offered his own arm to Colette, West took inSylvia, and Fallowby hovered anxiously in the rear.

"You march around the table three times singing the Marseillaise,"explained Sylvia, "and Monsieur Fallowby pounds on the table and beatstime."

Fallowby suggested that they could sing after dinner, but his protestwas drowned in the ringing chorus—

"Aux armes!
Formez vos bataillons!"

Around the room they marched singing,

"Marchons! Marchons!"

with all their might, while Fallowby with very bad grace, hammered onthe table, consoling himself a little with the hope that the exercisewould increase his appetite. Hercules, the black and tan, fled under thebed, from which retreat he yapped and whined until dragged out byGuernalec and placed in Odile's lap.

"And now," said Trent gravely, when everybody was seated, "listen!" andhe read the menu.

Beef Soup à la Siège de Paris.
Fish.
Sardines à la père Lachaise.
(White Wine).
Rôti (Red Wine).
Fresh Beef à la sortie.
Vegetables.
Canned Beans à la chasse-pot,
Canned Peas Gravelotte,
Potatoes Irlandaises,
Miscellaneous.
Cold Corned Beef à la Thieis,
Stewed Prunes à la Garibaldi.
Dessert.
Dried prunes—White bread,
Currant Jelly,
Tea—Café,
Liqueurs,
Pipes and Cigarettes.

Fallowby applauded frantically, and Sylvia served the soup.

"Isn't it delicious?" sighed Odile.

Marie Guernalec sipped her soup in rapture.

"Not at all like horse, and I don't care what they say, horse doesn'ttaste like beef," whispered Colette to West. Fallowby, who had finished,began to caress his chin and eye the tureen.

"Have some more, old chap?" inquired Trent.

"Monsieur Fallowby cannot have any more," announced Sylvia; "I am savingthis for the concierge." Fallowby transferred his eyes to the fish.

The sardines, hot from the grille, were a great success. While theothers were eating Sylvia ran downstairs with the soup for the oldconcierge and her husband, and when she hurried back, flushed andbreathless, and had slipped into her chair with a happy smile at Trent,that young man arose, and silence fell over the table. For an instant helooked at Sylvia and thought he had never seen her so beautiful.

"You all know," he began, "that to-day is my wife's nineteenthbirthday—"

Fallowby, bubbling with enthusiasm, waved his glass in circles about hishead to the terror of Odile and Colette, his neighbours, and Thorne,West and Guernalec refilled their glasses three times before the stormof applause which the toast of Sylvia had provoked, subsided.

Three times the glasses were filled and emptied to Sylvia, and again toTrent, who protested.

"This is irregular," he cried, "the next toast is to the twin Republics,France and America?"

"To the Republics! To the Republics!" they cried, and the toast wasdrunk amid shouts of "Vive la France! Vive l'Amérique! Vive la Nation!"

Then Trent, with a smile at West, offered the toast, "To a Happy Pair!"and everybody understood, and Sylvia leaned over and kissed Colette,while Trent bowed to West.

The beef was eaten in comparative calm, but when it was finished and aportion of it set aside for the old people below, Trent cried: "Drink toParis! May she rise from her ruins and crush the invader!" and thecheers rang out, drowning for a moment the monotonous thunder of thePrussian guns.

Pipes and cigarettes were lighted, and Trent listened an instant to theanimated chatter around him, broken by ripples of laughter from thegirls or the mellow chuckle of Fallowby. Then he turned to West.

"There is going to be a sortie to-night," he said. "I saw the AmericanAmbulance surgeon just before I came in and he asked me to speak to youfellows. Any aid we can give him will not come amiss."

Then dropping his voice and speaking in English, "As for me, I shall goout with the ambulance to-morrow morning. There is of course no danger,but it's just as well to keep it from Sylvia."

West nodded. Thorne and Guernalec, who had heard, broke in and offeredassistance, and Fallowby volunteered with a groan.

"All right," said Trent rapidly,—"no more now, but meet me at Ambulanceheadquarters to-morrow morning at eight."

Sylvia and Colette, who were becoming uneasy at the conversation inEnglish, now demanded to know what they were talking about.

"What does a sculptor usually talk about?" cried West, with a laugh.

Odile glanced reproachfully at Thorne, her fiancé.

"You are not French, you know, and it is none of your business, thiswar," said Odile with much dignity.

Thorne looked meek, but West assumed an air of outraged virtue.

"It seems," he said to Fallowby, "that a fellow cannot discuss thebeauties of Greek sculpture in his mother tongue, without being openlysuspected."

Colette placed her hand over his mouth and turning to Sylvia, murmured,"They are horridly untruthful, these men."

"I believe the word for ambulance is the same in both languages," saidMarie Guernalec saucily; "Sylvia, don't trust Monsieur Trent."

"Jack," whispered Sylvia, "promise me—"

A knock at the studio door interrupted her.

"Come in!" cried Fallowby, but Trent sprang up, and opening the door,looked out. Then with a hasty excuse to the rest, he stepped into thehallway and closed the door.

When he returned he was grumbling.

"What is it, Jack?" cried West.

"What is it?" repeated Trent savagely; "I'll tell you what it is. I havereceived a dispatch from the American Minister to go at once andidentify and claim, as a fellow-countryman and a brother artist, arascally thief and a German spy!"

"Don't go," suggested Fallowby.

"If I don't they'll shoot him at once."

"Let them," growled Thorne.

"Do you fellows know who it is?"

"Hartman!" shouted West, inspired.

Sylvia sprang up deathly white, but Odile slipped her arm around her andsupported her to a chair, saying calmly, "Sylvia has fainted,—it's thehot room,—bring some water."

Trent brought it at once.

Sylvia opened her eyes, and after a moment rose, and supported by MarieGuernalec and Trent, passed into the bedroom.

It was the signal for breaking up, and everybody came and shook handswith Trent, saying they hoped Sylvia would sleep it off and that itwould be nothing.

When Marie Guernalec took leave of him, she avoided his eyes, but hespoke to her cordially and thanked her for her aid.

"Anything I can do, Jack?" inquired West, lingering, and then hurrieddownstairs to catch up with the rest.

Trent leaned over the banisters, listening to their footsteps andchatter, and then the lower door banged and the house was silent. Helingered, staring down into the blackness, biting his lips; then with animpatient movement, "I am crazy!" he muttered, and lighting a candle,went into the bedroom. Sylvia was lying on the bed. He bent over her,smoothing the curly hair on her forehead.

"Are you better, dear Sylvia?"

She did not answer, but raised her eyes to his. For an instant he mether gaze, but what he read there sent a chill to his heart and he satdown covering his face with his hands.

At last she spoke in a voice, changed and strained,—a voice which hehad never heard, and he dropped his hands and listened, bolt upright inhis chair.

"Jack, it has come at last. I have feared it and trembled,—ah! howoften have I lain awake at night with this on my heart and prayed that Imight die before you should ever know of it! For I love you, Jack, andif you go away I cannot live. I have deceived you;—it happened before Iknew you, but since that first day when you found me weeping in theLuxembourg and spoke to me, Jack, I have been faithful to you in everythought and deed. I loved you from the first, and did not dare to tellyou this—fearing that you would go away; and since then my love hasgrown—grown—and oh! I suffered!—but I dared not tell you. And now youknow, but you do not know the worst. For him—now—what do I care? Hewas cruel—oh, so cruel!"

She hid her face in her arms.

"Must I go on? Must I tell you—can you not imagine, oh! Jack—"

He did not stir; his eyes seemed dead.

"I—I was so young, I knew nothing, and he said—said that he lovedme—"

Trent rose and struck the candle with his clenched fist, and the roomwas dark.

The bells of St. Sulpice tolled the hour, and she started up, speakingwith feverish haste,—"I must finish! When you told me you lovedme—you—you asked me nothing; but then, even then, it was too late, andthat other life which binds me to him, must stand for ever between youand me! For there is another whom he has claimed, and is good to. Hemust not die,—they cannot shoot him, for that other's sake!"

Trent sat motionless, but his thoughts ran on in an interminable whirl.

Sylvia, little Sylvia, who shared with him his student life,—who borewith him the dreary desolation of the siege without complaint,—thisslender blue-eyed girl whom he was so quietly fond of, whom he teased orcaressed as the whim suited, who sometimes made him the least bitimpatient with her passionate devotion to him,—could this be the sameSylvia who lay weeping there in the darkness?

Then he clinched his teeth. "Let him die! Let him die!"—but then,—forSylvia's sake, and,—for that other's sake,—Yes, he would go,—hemust go,—his duty was plain before him. But Sylvia,—he could not bewhat he had been to her, and yet a vague terror seized him, now all wassaid. Trembling, he struck a light.

She lay there, her curly hair tumbled about her face, her small whitehands pressed to her breast.

He could not leave her, and he could not stay. He never knew before thathe loved her. She had been a mere comrade, this girl wife of his. Ah! heloved her now with all his heart and soul, and he knew it, only when itwas too late. Too late? Why? Then he thought of that other one,binding her, linking her forever to the creature, who stood in danger ofhis life. With an oath he sprang to the door, but the door would notopen,—or was it that he pressed it back,—locked it,—and flung himselfon his knees beside the bed, knowing that he dared not for his life'ssake leave what was his all in life.

III

It was four in the morning when he came out of the Prison of theCondemned with the Secretary of the American Legation. A knot of peoplehad gathered around the American Minister's carriage, which stood infront of the prison, the horses stamping and pawing in the icy street,the coachman huddled on the box, wrapped in furs. Southwark helped theSecretary into the carriage, and shook hands with Trent, thanking himfor coming.

"How the scoundrel did stare," he said; "your evidence was worse than akick, but it saved his skin for the moment at least,—and preventedcomplications."

The Secretary sighed. "We have done our part. Now let them prove him aspy and we wash our hands of him. Jump in, Captain! Come along, Trent!"

"I have a word to say to Captain Southwark, I won't detain him," saidTrent hastily, and dropping his voice, "Southwark, help me now. Youknow the story from the blackguard. You know the—the child is at hisrooms. Get it, and take it to my own apartment, and if he is shot, Iwill provide a home for it."

"I understand," said the Captain gravely.

"Will you do this at once?"

"At once," he replied.

Their hands met in a warm clasp, and then Captain Southwark climbed intothe carriage, motioning Trent to follow; but he shook his head saying,"Good-bye!" and the carriage rolled away.

He watched the carriage to the end of the street, then started towardhis own quarter, but after a step or two hesitated, stopped, and finallyturned away in the opposite direction. Something—perhaps it was thesight of the prisoner he had so recently confronted nauseated him. Hefelt the need of solitude and quiet to collect his thoughts. The eventsof the evening had shaken him terribly, but he would walk it off,forget, bury everything, and then go back to Sylvia. He started onswiftly, and for a time the bitter thoughts seemed to fade, but when hepaused at last, breathless, under the Arc de Triomphe, the bitternessand the wretchedness of the whole thing—yes, of his whole misspent lifecame back with a pang. Then the face of the prisoner, stamped with thehorrible grimace of fear, grew in the shadows before his eyes.

Sick at heart he wandered up and down under the great Arc, striving tooccupy his mind, peering up at the sculptured cornices to read the namesof the heroes and battles which he knew were engraved there, but alwaysthe ashen face of Hartman followed him, grinning with terror!—or was itterror?—was it not triumph?—At the thought he leaped like a man whofeels a knife at his throat, but after a savage tramp around the square,came back again and sat down to battle with his misery.

The air was cold, but his cheeks were burning with angry shame. Shame?Why? Was it because he had married a girl whom chance had made a mother?Did he love her? Was this miserable bohemian existence, then, his endand aim in life? He turned his eyes upon the secrets of his heart, andread an evil story,—the story of the past, and he covered his face forshame, while, keeping time to the dull pain throbbing in his head, hisheart beat out the story for the future. Shame and disgrace.

Roused at last from a lethargy which had begun to numb the bitterness ofhis thoughts, he raised his head and looked about. A sudden fog hadsettled in the streets; the arches of the Arc were choked with it. Hewould go home. A great horror of being alone seized him. But he was notalone. The fog was peopled with phantoms. All around him in the mistthey moved, drifting through the arches in lengthening lines, andvanished, while from the fog others rose up, swept past and wereengulfed. He was not alone, for even at his side they crowded, touchedhim, swarmed before him, beside him, behind him, pressed him back,seized, and bore him with them through the mist. Down a dim avenue,through lanes and alleys white with fog, they moved, and if they spoketheir voices were dull as the vapour which shrouded them. At last infront, a bank of masonry and earth cut by a massive iron barred gatetowered up in the fog. Slowly and more slowly they glided, shoulder toshoulder and thigh to thigh. Then all movement ceased. A sudden breezestirred the fog. It wavered and eddied. Objects became more distinct. Apallor crept above the horizon, touching the edges of the watery clouds,and drew dull sparks from a thousand bayonets. Bayonets—they wereeverywhere, cleaving the fog or flowing beneath it in rivers of steel.High on the wall of masonry and earth a great gun loomed, and around itfigures moved in silhouettes. Below, a broad torrent of bayonets sweptthrough the iron barred gateway, out into the shadowy plain. It becamelighter. Faces grew more distinct among the marching masses and herecognized one.

"You, Philippe!"

The figure turned its head.

Trent cried, "Is there room for me?" but the other only waved his arm ina vague adieu and was gone with the rest. Presently the cavalry began topass, squadron on squadron, crowding out into the darkness; then manycannon, then an ambulance, then again the endless lines of bayonets.Beside him a cuirassier sat on his steaming horse, and in front, among agroup of mounted officers he saw a general, with the astrakan collar ofhis dolman turned up about his bloodless face.

Some women were weeping near him and one was struggling to force a loafof black bread into a soldier's haversack. The soldier tried to aid her,but the sack was fastened, and his rifle bothered him, so Trent held it,while the woman unbuttoned the sack and forced in the bread, now all wetwith her tears. The rifle was not heavy. Trent found it wonderfullymanageable. Was the bayonet sharp? He tried it. Then a sudden longing, afierce, imperative desire took possession of him.

"Chouette!" cried a gamin, clinging to the barred gate, "encore toimon vieux?"

Trent looked up, and the rat-killer laughed in his face. But when thesoldier had taken the rifle again, and thanking him, ran hard to catchhis battalion, he plunged into the throng about the gateway.

"Are you going?" he cried to a marine who sat in the gutter bandaginghis foot.

"Yes."

Then a girl—a mere child—caught him by the hand and led him into thecafé which faced the gate. The room was crowded with soldiers, some,white and silent, sitting on the floor, others groaning on theleather-covered settees. The air was sour and suffocating.

"Choose!" said the girl with a little gesture of pity; "they can't go!"

In a heap of clothing on the floor he found a capote and képi.

She helped him buckle his knapsack, cartridge-box, and belt, and showedhim how to load the chasse-pot rifle, holding it on her knees.

When he thanked her she started to her feet.

"You are a foreigner!"

"American," he said, moving toward the door, but the child barred hisway.

"I am a Bretonne. My father is up there with the cannon of the marine.He will shoot you if you are a spy."

They faced each other for a moment. Then sighing, he bent over andkissed the child. "Pray for France, little one," he murmured, and sherepeated with a pale smile: "For France and you, beau Monsieur."

He ran across the street and through the gateway. Once outside, he edgedinto line and shouldered his way along the road. A corporal passed,looked at him, repassed, and finally called an officer. "You belong tothe 60th," growled the corporal looking at the number on his képi.

"We have no use for Franc-tireurs," added the officer, catching sight ofhis black trousers.

"I wish to volunteer in place of a comrade," said Trent, and the officershrugged his shoulders and passed on.

Nobody paid much attention to him, one or two merely glancing at histrousers. The road was deep with slush and mud-ploughed and torn bywheels and hoofs. A soldier in front of him wrenched his foot in an icyrut and dragged himself to the edge of the embankment groaning. Theplain on either side of them was grey with melting snow. Here and therebehind dismantled hedge-rows stood wagons, bearing white flags with redcrosses. Sometimes the driver was a priest in rusty hat and gown,sometimes a crippled Mobile. Once they passed a wagon driven by a Sisterof Charity. Silent empty houses with great rents in their walls, andevery window blank, huddled along the road. Further on, within the zoneof danger, nothing of human habitation remained except here and there apile of frozen bricks or a blackened cellar choked with snow.

For some time Trent had been annoyed by the man behind him, who kepttreading on his heels. Convinced at last that it was intentional, heturned to remonstrate and found himself face to face with afellow-student from the Beaux Arts. Trent stared.

"I thought you were in the hospital!"

The other shook his head, pointing to his bandaged jaw.

"I see, you can't speak. Can I do anything?"

The wounded man rummaged in his haversack and produced a crust of blackbread.

"He can't eat it, his jaw is smashed, and he wants you to chew it forhim," said the soldier next to him.

Trent took the crust, and grinding it in his teeth morsel by morsel,passed it back to the starving man.

From time to time mounted orderlies sped to the front, covering themwith slush. It was a chilly, silent march through sodden meadowswreathed in fog. Along the railroad embankment across the ditch, anothercolumn moved parallel to their own. Trent watched it, a sombre mass, nowdistinct, now vague, now blotted out in a puff of fog. Once forhalf-an-hour he lost it, but when again it came into view, he noticed athin line detach itself from the flank, and, bellying in the middle,swing rapidly to the west. At the same moment a prolonged cracklingbroke out in the fog in front. Other lines began to slough off from thecolumn, swinging east and west, and the crackling became continuous. Abattery passed at full gallop, and he drew back with his comrades togive it way. It went into action a little to the right of his battalion,and as the shot from the first rifled piece boomed through the mist, thecannon from the fortifications opened with a mighty roar. An officergalloped by shouting something which Trent did not catch, but he saw theranks in front suddenly part company with his own, and disappear in thetwilight. More officers rode up and stood beside him peering into thefog. Away in front the crackling had become one prolonged crash. It wasdreary waiting. Trent chewed some bread for the man behind, who tried toswallow it, and after a while shook his head, motioning Trent to eat therest himself. A corporal offered him a little brandy and he drank it,but when he turned around to return the flask, the corporal was lying onthe ground. Alarmed, he looked at the soldier next to him, who shruggedhis shoulders and opened his mouth to speak, but something struck himand he rolled over and over into the ditch below. At that moment thehorse of one of the officers gave a bound and backed into the battalion,lashing out with his heels. One man was ridden down; another was kickedin the chest and hurled through the ranks. The officer sank his spursinto the horse and forced him to the front again, where he stoodtrembling. The cannonade seemed to draw nearer. A staff-officer, ridingslowly up and down the battalion suddenly collapsed in his saddle andclung to his horse's mane. One of his boots dangled, crimsoned anddripping, from the stirrup. Then out of the mist in front men camerunning. The roads, the fields, the ditches were full of them, and manyof them fell. For an instant he imagined he saw horsemen riding aboutlike ghosts in the vapours beyond, and a man behind him cursed horribly,declaring he too had seen them, and that they were Uhlans; but thebattalion stood inactive, and the mist fell again over the meadows.

The colonel sat heavily upon his horse, his bullet-shaped head buried inthe astrakan collar of his dolman, his fat legs sticking straight out inthe stirrups.

The buglers clustered about him with bugles poised, and behind him astaff-officer in a pale blue jacket smoked a cigarette and chatted witha captain of hussars. From the road in front came the sound of furiousgalloping and an orderly reined up beside the colonel, who motioned himto the rear without turning his head. Then on the left a confused murmurarose which ended in a shout. A hussar passed like the wind, followed byanother and another, and then squadron after squadron whirled by theminto the sheeted mists. At that instant the colonel reared in hissaddle, the bugles clanged, and the whole battalion scrambled down theembankment, over the ditch and started across the soggy meadow. Almostat once Trent lost his cap. Something snatched it from his head, hethought it was a tree branch. A good many of his comrades rolled over inthe slush and ice, and he imagined that they had slipped. One pitchedright across his path and he stopped to help him up, but the manscreamed when he touched him and an officer shouted, "Forward! Forward!"so he ran on again. It was a long jog through the mist, and he was oftenobliged to shift his rifle. When at last they lay panting behind therailroad embankment, he looked about him. He had felt the need ofaction, of a desperate physical struggle, of killing and crushing. Hehad been seized with a desire to fling himself among masses and tearright and left. He longed to fire, to use the thin sharp bayonet on hischasse-pot. He had not expected this. He wished to become exhausted, tostruggle and cut until incapable of lifting his arm. Then he hadintended to go home. He heard a man say that half the battalion had gonedown in the charge, and he saw another examining a corpse under theembankment. The body, still warm, was clothed in a strange uniform, buteven when he noticed the spiked helmet lying a few inches further away,he did not realize what had happened.

The colonel sat on his horse a few feet to the left, his eyes sparklingunder the crimson képi. Trent heard him reply to an officer: "I can holdit, but another charge, and I won't have enough men left to sound abugle."

"Were the Prussians here?" Trent asked of a soldier who sat wiping theblood trickling from his hair.

"Yes. The hussars cleaned them out. We caught their cross fire."

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"We are supporting a battery on the embankment," said another.

Then the battalion crawled over the embankment and moved along the linesof twisted rails. Trent rolled up his trousers and tucked them into hiswoollen socks: but they halted again, and some of the men sat down onthe dismantled railroad track. Trent looked for his wounded comrade fromthe Beaux Arts. He was standing in his place, very pale. The cannonadehad become terrific. For a moment the mist lifted. He caught a glimpseof the first battalion motionless on the railroad track in front, ofregiments on either flank, and then, as the fog settled again, the drumsbeat and the music of the bugles began away on the extreme left. Arestless movement passed among the troops, the colonel threw up his arm,the drums rolled, and the battalion moved off through the fog. They werenear the front now for the battalion was firing as it advanced.Ambulances galloped along the base of the embankment to the rear, andthe hussars passed and repassed like phantoms. They were in the front atlast, for all about them was movement and turmoil, while from the fog,close at hand, came cries and groans and crashing volleys. Shells felleverywhere, bursting along the embankment, splashing them with frozenslush. Trent was frightened. He began to dread the unknown, which laythere crackling and flaming in obscurity. The shock of the cannonsickened him. He could even see the fog light up with a dull orange asthe thunder shook the earth. It was near, he felt certain, for thecolonel shouted "Forward!" and the first battalion was hastening intoit. He felt its breath, he trembled, but hurried on. A fearful dischargein front terrified him. Somewhere in the fog men were cheering, and thecolonel's horse, streaming with blood plunged about in the smoke.

Another blast and shock, right in his face, almost stunned him, and hefaltered. All the men to the right were down. His head swam; the fog andsmoke stupefied him. He put out his hand for a support and caughtsomething. It was the wheel of a gun-carriage, and a man sprang frombehind it, aiming a blow at his head with a rammer, but stumbled backshrieking with a bayonet through his neck, and Trent knew that he hadkilled. Mechanically he stooped to pick up his rifle, but the bayonetwas still in the man, who lay, beating with red hands against the sod.It sickened him and he leaned on the cannon. Men were fighting allaround him now, and the air was foul with smoke and sweat. Somebodyseized him from behind and another in front, but others in turn seizedthem or struck them solid blows. The click! click! click! of bayonetsinfuriated him, and he grasped the rammer and struck out blindly untilit was shivered to pieces.

A man threw his arm around his neck and bore him to the ground, but hethrottled him and raised himself on his knees. He saw a comrade seizethe cannon, and fall across it with his skull crushed in; he saw thecolonel tumble clean out of his saddle into the mud; then consciousnessfled.

When he came to himself, he was lying on the embankment among thetwisted rails. On every side huddled men who cried out and cursed andfled away into the fog, and he staggered to his feet and followed them.Once he stopped to help a comrade with a bandaged jaw, who could notspeak but clung to his arm for a time and then fell dead in the freezingmire; and again he aided another, who groaned: "Trent, c'estmoi—Philippe," until a sudden volley in the midst relieved him of hischarge.

An icy wind swept down from the heights, cutting the fog into shreds.For an instant, with an evil leer the sun peered through the naked woodsof Vincennes, sank like a blood-clot in the battery smoke, lower, lower,into the blood-soaked plain.

IV

When midnight sounded from the belfry of St. Sulpice the gates of Pariswere still choked with fragments of what had once been an army.

They entered with the night, a sullen horde, spattered with slime, faintwith hunger and exhaustion. There was little disorder at first, and thethrong at the gates parted silently as the troops tramped along thefreezing streets. Confusion came as the hours passed. Swiftly and moreswiftly, crowding squadron after squadron and battery on battery, horsesplunging and caissons jolting, the remnants from the front surgedthrough the gates, a chaos of cavalry and artillery struggling for theright of way. Close upon them stumbled the infantry; here a skeleton ofa regiment marching with a desperate attempt at order, there a riotousmob of Mobiles crushing their way to the streets, then a turmoil ofhorsemen, cannon, troops without, officers, officers without men, thenagain a line of ambulances, the wheels groaning under their heavy loads.

Dumb with misery the crowd looked on.

All through the day the ambulances had been arriving, and all day longthe ragged throng whimpered and shivered by the barriers. At noon thecrowd was increased ten-fold, filling the squares about the gates, andswarming over the inner fortifications.

At four o'clock in the afternoon the German batteries suddenly wreathedthemselves in smoke, and the shells fell fast on Montparnasse. At twentyminutes after four two projectiles struck a house in the rue de Bac, anda moment later the first shell fell in the Latin Quarter.

Braith was painting in bed when West came in very much scared.

"I wish you would come down; our house has been knocked into a cockedhat, and I'm afraid that some of the pillagers may take it into theirheads to pay us a visit to-night."

Braith jumped out of bed and bundled himself into a garment which hadonce been an overcoat.

"Anybody hurt?" he inquired, struggling with a sleeve full ofdilapidated lining.

"No. Colette is barricaded in the cellar, and the concierge ran away tothe fortifications. There will be a rough gang there if the bombardmentkeeps up. You might help us—"

"Of course," said Braith; but it was not until they had reached the rueSerpente and had turned in the passage which led to West's cellar, thatthe latter cried: "Have you seen Jack Trent, to-day?"

"No," replied Braith, looking troubled, "he was not at AmbulanceHeadquarters."

"He stayed to take care of Sylvia, I suppose."

A bomb came crashing through the roof of a house at the end of the alleyand burst in the basement, showering the street with slate and plaster.A second struck a chimney and plunged into the garden, followed by anavalanche of bricks, and another exploded with a deafening report in thenext street.

They hurried along the passage to the steps which led to the cellar.Here again Braith stopped.

"Don't you think I had better run up to see if Jack and Sylvia are wellentrenched? I can get back before dark."

"No. Go in and find Colette, and I'll go."

"No, no, let me go, there's no danger."

"I know it," replied West calmly; and, dragging Braith into the alley,pointed to the cellar steps. The iron door was barred.

"Colette! Colette!" he called. The door swung inward, and the girlsprang up the stairs to meet them. At that instant, Braith, glancingbehind him, gave a startled cry, and pushing the two before him into thecellar, jumped down after them and slammed the iron door. A few secondslater a heavy jar from the outside shook the hinges.

"They are here," muttered West, very pale.

"That door," observed Colette calmly, "will hold for ever."

Braith examined the low iron structure, now trembling with the blowsrained on it from without. West glanced anxiously at Colette, whodisplayed no agitation, and this comforted him.

"I don't believe they will spend much time here," said Braith; "theyonly rummage in cellars for spirits, I imagine."

"Unless they hear that valuables are buried there."

"But surely nothing is buried here?" exclaimed Braith uneasily.

"Unfortunately there is," growled West. "That miserly landlord ofmine—"

A crash from the outside, followed by a yell, cut him short; then blowafter blow shook the doors, until there came a sharp snap, a clinking ofmetal and a triangular bit of iron fell inwards, leaving a hole throughwhich struggled a ray of light.

Instantly West knelt, and shoving his revolver through the aperturefired every cartridge. For a moment the alley resounded with the racketof the revolver, then absolute silence followed.

Presently a single questioning blow fell upon the door, and a momentlater another and another, and then a sudden crack zigzagged across theiron plate.

"Here," said West, seizing Colette by the wrist, "you follow me,Braith!" and he ran swiftly toward a circular spot of light at thefurther end of the cellar. The spot of light came from a barred man-holeabove. West motioned Braith to mount on his shoulders.

"Push it over. You must!"

With little effort Braith lifted the barred cover, scrambled out on hisstomach, and easily raised Colette from West's shoulders.

"Quick, old chap!" cried the latter.

Braith twisted his legs around a fence-chain and leaned down again. Thecellar was flooded with a yellow light, and the air reeked with thestench of petroleum torches. The iron door still held, but a whole plateof metal was gone, and now as they looked a figure came creepingthrough, holding a torch.

"Quick!" whispered Braith. "Jump!" and West hung dangling until Colettegrasped him by the collar, and he was dragged out. Then her nerves gaveway and she wept hysterically, but West threw his arm around her and ledher across the gardens into the next street, where Braith, afterreplacing the man-hole cover and piling some stone slabs from the wallover it, rejoined them. It was almost dark. They hurried through thestreet, now only lighted by burning buildings, or the swift glare of theshells. They gave wide berth to the fires, but at a distance saw theflitting forms of pillagers among the débris. Sometimes they passed afemale fury crazed with drink shrieking anathemas upon the world, orsome slouching lout whose blackened face and hands betrayed his share inthe work of destruction. At last they reached the Seine and passed thebridge, and then Braith said: "I must go back. I am not sure of Jack andSylvia." As he spoke, he made way for a crowd which came tramplingacross the bridge, and along the river wall by the d'Orsay barracks. Inthe midst of it West caught the measured tread of a platoon. A lanternpassed, a file of bayonets, then another lantern which glimmered on adeathly face behind, and Colette gasped, "Hartman!" and he was gone.They peered fearfully across the embankment, holding their breath. Therewas a shuffle of feet on the quay, and the gate of the barracks slammed.A lantern shone for a moment at the postern, the crowd pressed to thegrille, then came the clang of the volley from the stone parade.

One by one the petroleum torches flared up along the embankment, and nowthe whole square was in motion. Down from the Champs Elysées and acrossthe Place de la Concorde straggled the fragments of the battle, acompany here, and a mob there. They poured in from every street followedby women and children, and a great murmur, borne on the icy wind, sweptthrough the Arc de Triomphe and down the dark avenue,—"Perdus! perdus!"

A ragged end of a battalion was pressing past, the spectre ofannihilation. West groaned. Then a figure sprang from the shadowy ranksand called West's name, and when he saw it was Trent he cried out. Trentseized him, white with terror.

"Sylvia?"

West stared speechless, but Colette moaned, "Oh, Sylvia! Sylvia!—andthey are shelling the Quarter!"

"Trent!" shouted Braith; but he was gone, and they could not overtakehim.

The bombardment ceased as Trent crossed the Boulevard St. Germain, butthe entrance to the rue de Seine was blocked by a heap of smokingbricks. Everywhere the shells had torn great holes in the pavement. Thecafé was a wreck of splinters and glass, the book-store tottered, rippedfrom roof to basement, and the little bakery, long since closed, bulgedoutward above a mass of slate and tin.

He climbed over the steaming bricks and hurried into the rue de Tournon.On the corner a fire blazed, lighting up his own street, and on the bankwall, beneath a shattered gas lamp, a child was writing with a bit ofcinder.

"HERE FELL THE FIRST SHELL."

The letters stared him in the face. The rat-killer finished and steppedback to view his work, but catching sight of Trent's bayonet, screamedand fled, and as Trent staggered across the shattered street, from holesand crannies in the ruins fierce women fled from their work of pillage,cursing him.

At first he could not find his house, for the tears blinded him, but hefelt along the wall and reached the door. A lantern burned in theconcierge's lodge and the old man lay dead beside it. Faint with frighthe leaned a moment on his rifle, then, snatching the lantern, sprang upthe stairs. He tried to call, but his tongue hardly moved. On the secondfloor he saw plaster on the stairway, and on the third the floor wastorn and the concierge lay in a pool of blood across the landing. Thenext floor was his, theirs. The door hung from its hinges, the wallsgaped. He crept in and sank down by the bed, and there two arms wereflung around his neck, and a tear-stained face sought his own.

"Sylvia!"

"O Jack! Jack! Jack!"

From the tumbled pillow beside them a child wailed.

"They brought it; it is mine," she sobbed.

"Ours," he whispered, with his arms around them both.

Then from the stairs below came Braith's anxious voice.

"Trent! Is all well?"

THE STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS

"Et tout les jours passés dans la tristesse
Nous sont comptés comme des jours heureux!"

I

The street is not fashionable, neither is it shabby. It is a pariahamong streets—a street without a Quarter. It is generally understood tolie outside the pale of the aristocratic Avenue de l'Observatoire. Thestudents of the Montparnasse Quarter consider it swell and will havenone of it. The Latin Quarter, from the Luxembourg, its northernfrontier, sneers at its respectability and regards with disfavour thecorrectly costumed students who haunt it. Few strangers go into it. Attimes, however, the Latin Quarter students use it as a thoroughfarebetween the rue de Rennes and the Bullier, but except for that and theweekly afternoon visits of parents and guardians to the Convent near therue Vavin, the street of Our Lady of the Fields is as quiet as a Passyboulevard. Perhaps the most respectable portion lies between the rue dela Grande Chaumière and the rue Vavin, at least this was the conclusionarrived at by the Reverend Joel Byram, as he rambled through it withHastings in charge. To Hastings the street looked pleasant in the brightJune weather, and he had begun to hope for its selection when theReverend Byram shied violently at the cross on the Convent opposite.

"Jesuits," he muttered.

"Well," said Hastings wearily, "I imagine we won't find anything better.You say yourself that vice is triumphant in Paris, and it seems to methat in every street we find Jesuits or something worse."

After a moment he repeated, "Or something worse, which of course I wouldnot notice except for your kindness in warning me."

Dr. Byram sucked in his lips and looked about him. He was impressed bythe evident respectability of the surroundings. Then frowning at theConvent he took Hastings' arm and shuffled across the street to an irongateway which bore the number 201 bis painted in white on a blueground. Below this was a notice printed in English:

1.For Porter please oppress once.
2.For Servant please oppress twice.
3.For Parlour please oppress thrice.

Hastings touched the electric button three times, and they were usheredthrough the garden and into the parlour by a trim maid. The dining-roomdoor, just beyond, was open, and from the table in plain view a stoutwoman hastily arose and came toward them. Hastings caught a glimpse of ayoung man with a big head and several snuffy old gentlemen at breakfast,before the door closed and the stout woman waddled into the room,bringing with her an aroma of coffee and a black poodle.

"It ees a plaisir to you receive!" she cried. "Monsieur is Anglish? No?Americain? Off course. My pension it ees for Americains surtout. Hereall spik Angleesh, c'est à dire, ze personnel; ze sairvants do spik,plus ou moins, a little. I am happy to have you comme pensionnaires—"

"Madame," began Dr. Byram, but was cut short again.

"Ah, yess, I know, ah! mon Dieu! you do not spik Frainch but you havecome to lairne! My husband does spik Frainch wiss ze pensionnaires. Wehave at ze moment a family Americaine who learn of my husband Frainch—"

Here the poodle growled at Dr. Byram and was promptly cuffed by hismistress.

"Veux tu!" she cried, with a slap, "veux tu! Oh! le vilain, oh! levilain!"

"Mais, madame," said Hastings, smiling, "il n'a pas l'air très féroce."

The poodle fled, and his mistress cried, "Ah, ze accent charming! Hedoes spik already Frainch like a Parisien young gentleman!"

Then Dr. Byram managed to get in a word or two and gathered more or lessinformation with regard to prices.

"It ees a pension serieux; my clientèle ees of ze best, indeed a pensionde famille where one ees at 'ome."

Then they went upstairs to examine Hastings' future quarters, test thebed-springs and arrange for the weekly towel allowance. Dr. Byramappeared satisfied.

Madame Marotte accompanied them to the door and rang for the maid, butas Hastings stepped out into the gravel walk, his guide and mentorpaused a moment and fixed Madame with his watery eyes.

"You understand," he said, "that he is a youth of most careful bringingup, and his character and morals are without a stain. He is young andhas never been abroad, never even seen a large city, and his parentshave requested me, as an old family friend living in Paris, to see thathe is placed under good influences. He is to study art, but on noaccount would his parents wish him to live in the Latin Quarter if theyknew of the immorality which is rife there."

A sound like the click of a latch interrupted him and he raised hiseyes, but not in time to see the maid slap the big-headed young manbehind the parlour-door.

Madame coughed, cast a deadly glance behind her and then beamed on Dr.Byram.

"It ees well zat he come here. The pension more serious, il n'en existepas, eet ees not any!" she announced with conviction.

So, as there was nothing more to add, Dr. Byram joined Hastings at thegate.

"I trust," he said, eyeing the Convent, "that you will make noacquaintances among Jesuits!"

Hastings looked at the Convent until a pretty girl passed before thegray façade, and then he looked at her. A young fellow with a paint-boxand canvas came swinging along, stopped before the pretty girl, saidsomething during a brief but vigorous handshake at which they bothlaughed, and he went his way, calling back, "À demain Valentine!" as inthe same breath she cried, "À demain!"

"Valentine," thought Hastings, "what a quaint name;" and he started tofollow the Reverend Joel Byram, who was shuffling towards the nearesttramway station.

II

"An' you are pleas wiz Paris, Monsieur' Astang?" demanded Madame Marottethe next morning as Hastings came into the breakfast-room of thepension, rosy from his plunge in the limited bath above.

"I am sure I shall like it," he replied, wondering at his own depressionof spirits.

The maid brought him coffee and rolls. He returned the vacant glance ofthe big-headed young man and acknowledged diffidently the salutes of thesnuffy old gentlemen. He did not try to finish his coffee, and satcrumbling a roll, unconscious of the sympathetic glances of MadameMarotte, who had tact enough not to bother him.

Presently a maid entered with a tray on which were balanced two bowls ofchocolate, and the snuffy old gentlemen leered at her ankles. The maiddeposited the chocolate at a table near the window and smiled atHastings. Then a thin young lady, followed by her counterpart in allexcept years, marched into the room and took the table near the window.They were evidently American, but Hastings, if he expected any sign ofrecognition, was disappointed. To be ignored by compatriots intensifiedhis depression. He fumbled with his knife and looked at his plate.

The thin young lady was talkative enough. She was quite aware ofHastings' presence, ready to be flattered if he looked at her, but onthe other hand she felt her superiority, for she had been three weeks inParis and he, it was easy to see, had not yet unpacked hissteamer-trunk.

Her conversation was complacent. She argued with her mother upon therelative merits of the Louvre and the Bon Marché, but her mother's partof the discussion was mostly confined to the observation, "Why, Susie!"

The snuffy old gentlemen had left the room in a body, outwardly politeand inwardly raging. They could not endure the Americans, who filled theroom with their chatter.

The big-headed young man looked after them with a knowing cough,murmuring, "Gay old birds!"

"They look like bad old men, Mr. Bladen," said the girl.

To this Mr. Bladen smiled and said, "They've had their day," in a tonewhich implied that he was now having his.

"And that's why they all have baggy eyes," cried the girl. "I think it'sa shame for young gentlemen—"

"Why, Susie!" said the mother, and the conversation lagged.

After a while Mr. Bladen threw down the Petit Journal, which he dailystudied at the expense of the house, and turning to Hastings, started tomake himself agreeable. He began by saying, "I see you are American."

To this brilliant and original opening, Hastings, deadly homesick,replied gratefully, and the conversation was judiciously nourished byobservations from Miss Susie Byng distinctly addressed to Mr. Bladen. Inthe course of events Miss Susie, forgetting to address herselfexclusively to Mr. Bladen, and Hastings replying to her generalquestion, the entente cordiale was established, and Susie and hermother extended a protectorate over what was clearly neutral territory.

"Mr. Hastings, you must not desert the pension every evening as Mr.Bladen does. Paris is an awful place for young gentlemen, and Mr. Bladenis a horrid cynic."

Mr. Bladen looked gratified.

Hastings answered, "I shall be at the studio all day, and I imagine Ishall be glad enough to come back at night."

Mr. Bladen, who, at a salary of fifteen dollars a week, acted as agentfor the Pewly Manufacturing Company of Troy, N.Y., smiled a scepticalsmile and withdrew to keep an appointment with a customer on theBoulevard Magenta.

Hastings walked into the garden with Mrs. Byng and Susie, and, at theirinvitation, sat down in the shade before the iron gate.

The chestnut trees still bore their fragrant spikes of pink and white,and the bees hummed among the roses, trellised on the white-walledhouse.

A faint freshness was in the air. The watering carts moved up and downthe street, and a clear stream bubbled over the spotless gutters of therue de la Grande Chaumière. The sparrows were merry along thecurb-stones, taking bath after bath in the water and ruffling theirfeathers with delight. In a walled garden across the street a pair ofblackbirds whistled among the almond trees.

Hastings swallowed the lump in his throat, for the song of the birds andthe ripple of water in a Paris gutter brought back to him the sunnymeadows of Millbrook.

"That's a blackbird," observed Miss Byng; "see him there on the bushwith pink blossoms. He's all black except his bill, and that looks as ifit had been dipped in an omelet, as some Frenchman says—"

"Why, Susie!" said Mrs. Byng.

"That garden belongs to a studio inhabited by two Americans," continuedthe girl serenely, "and I often see them pass. They seem to need a greatmany models, mostly young and feminine—"

"Why, Susie!"

"Perhaps they prefer painting that kind, but I don't see why they shouldinvite five, with three more young gentlemen, and all get into two cabsand drive away singing. This street," she continued, "is dull. There isnothing to see except the garden and a glimpse of the BoulevardMontparnasse through the rue de la Grande Chaumière. No one ever passesexcept a policeman. There is a convent on the corner."

"I thought it was a Jesuit College," began Hastings, but was at onceoverwhelmed with a Baedecker description of the place, ending with, "Onone side stand the palatial hotels of Jean Paul Laurens and GuillaumeBouguereau, and opposite, in the little Passage Stanislas, Carolus Duranpaints the masterpieces which charm the world."

The blackbird burst into a ripple of golden throaty notes, and from somedistant green spot in the city an unknown wild-bird answered with afrenzy of liquid trills until the sparrows paused in their ablutions tolook up with restless chirps.

Then a butterfly came and sat on a cluster of heliotrope and waved hiscrimson-banded wings in the hot sunshine. Hastings knew him for afriend, and before his eyes there came a vision of tall mulleins andscented milkweed alive with painted wings, a vision of a white house andwoodbine-covered piazza,—a glimpse of a man reading and a woman leaningover the pansy bed,—and his heart was full. He was startled a momentlater by Miss Byng.

"I believe you are homesick!" Hastings blushed. Miss Byng looked at himwith a sympathetic sigh and continued: "Whenever I felt homesick atfirst I used to go with mamma and walk in the Luxembourg Gardens. Idon't know why it is, but those old-fashioned gardens seemed to bring menearer home than anything in this artificial city."

"But they are full of marble statues," said Mrs. Byng mildly; "I don'tsee the resemblance myself."

"Where is the Luxembourg?" inquired Hastings after a silence.

"Come with me to the gate," said Miss Byng. He rose and followed her,and she pointed out the rue Vavin at the foot of the street.

"You pass by the convent to the right," she smiled; and Hastings went.

III

The Luxembourg was a blaze of flowers. He walked slowly through the longavenues of trees, past mossy marbles and old-time columns, and threadingthe grove by the bronze lion, came upon the tree-crowned terrace abovethe fountain. Below lay the basin shining in the sunlight. Floweringalmonds encircled the terrace, and, in a greater spiral, groves ofchestnuts wound in and out and down among the moist thickets by thewestern palace wing. At one end of the avenue of trees the Observatoryrose, its white domes piled up like an eastern mosque; at the other endstood the heavy palace, with every window-pane ablaze in the fierce sunof June.

Around the fountain, children and white-capped nurses armed with bamboopoles were pushing toy boats, whose sails hung limp in the sunshine. Adark policeman, wearing red epaulettes and a dress sword, watched themfor a while and then went away to remonstrate with a young man who hadunchained his dog. The dog was pleasantly occupied in rubbing grass anddirt into his back while his legs waved into the air.

The policeman pointed at the dog. He was speechless with indignation.

"Well, Captain," smiled the young fellow.

"Well, Monsieur Student," growled the policeman.

"What do you come and complain to me for?"

"If you don't chain him I'll take him," shouted the policeman.

"What's that to me, mon capitaine?"

"Wha—t! Isn't that bull-dog yours?"

"If it was, don't you suppose I'd chain him?"

The officer glared for a moment in silence, then deciding that as he wasa student he was wicked, grabbed at the dog, who promptly dodged. Aroundand around the flower-beds they raced, and when the officer came toonear for comfort, the bull-dog cut across a flower-bed, which perhapswas not playing fair.

The young man was amused, and the dog also seemed to enjoy the exercise.

The policeman noticed this and decided to strike at the fountain-head ofthe evil. He stormed up to the student and said, "As the owner of thispublic nuisance I arrest you!"

"But," objected the other, "I disclaim the dog."

That was a poser. It was useless to attempt to catch the dog until threegardeners lent a hand, but then the dog simply ran away and disappearedin the rue de Medici.

The policeman shambled off to find consolation among the white-cappednurses, and the student, looking at his watch, stood up yawning. Thencatching sight of Hastings, he smiled and bowed. Hastings walked over tothe marble, laughing.

"Why, Clifford," he said, "I didn't recognize you."

"It's my moustache," sighed the other. "I sacrificed it to humour a whimof—of—a friend. What do you think of my dog?"

"Then he is yours?" cried Hastings.

"Of course. It's a pleasant change for him, this playing tag withpolicemen, but he is known now and I'll have to stop it. He's gone home.He always does when the gardeners take a hand. It's a pity; he's fond ofrolling on lawns." Then they chatted for a moment of Hastings'prospects, and Clifford politely offered to stand his sponsor at thestudio.

"You see, old tabby, I mean Dr. Byram, told me about you before I metyou," explained Clifford, "and Elliott and I will be glad to do anythingwe can." Then looking at his watch again, he muttered, "I have just tenminutes to catch the Versailles train; au revoir," and started to go,but catching sight of a girl advancing by the fountain, took off his hatwith a confused smile.

"Why are you not at Versailles?" she said, with an almost imperceptibleacknowledgment of Hastings' presence.

"I—I'm going," murmured Clifford.

For a moment they faced each other, and then Clifford, very red,stammered, "With your permission I have the honour of presenting to youmy friend, Monsieur Hastings."

Hastings bowed low. She smiled very sweetly, but there was something ofmalice in the quiet inclination of her small Parisienne head.

"I could have wished," she said, "that Monsieur Clifford might spare memore time when he brings with him so charming an American."

"Must—must I go, Valentine?" began Clifford.

"Certainly," she replied.

Clifford took his leave with very bad grace, wincing, when she added,"And give my dearest love to Cécile!" As he disappeared in the rued'Assas, the girl turned as if to go, but then suddenly rememberingHastings, looked at him and shook her head.

"Monsieur Clifford is so perfectly hare-brained," she smiled, "it isembarrassing sometimes. You have heard, of course, all about his successat the Salon?"

He looked puzzled and she noticed it.

"You have been to the Salon, of course?"

"Why, no," he answered, "I only arrived in Paris three days ago."

She seemed to pay little heed to his explanation, but continued: "Nobodyimagined he had the energy to do anything good, but on varnishing daythe Salon was astonished by the entrance of Monsieur Clifford, whostrolled about as bland as you please with an orchid in his buttonhole,and a beautiful picture on the line."

She smiled to herself at the reminiscence, and looked at the fountain.

"Monsieur Bouguereau told me that Monsieur Julian was so astonished thathe only shook hands with Monsieur Clifford in a dazed manner, andactually forgot to pat him on the back! Fancy," she continued with muchmerriment, "fancy papa Julian forgetting to pat one on the back."

Hastings, wondering at her acquaintance with the great Bouguereau,looked at her with respect. "May I ask," he said diffidently, "whetheryou are a pupil of Bouguereau?"

"I?" she said in some surprise. Then she looked at him curiously. Was hepermitting himself the liberty of joking on such short acquaintance?

His pleasant serious face questioned hers.

"Tiens," she thought, "what a droll man!"

"You surely study art?" he said.

She leaned back on the crooked stick of her parasol, and looked at him."Why do you think so?"

"Because you speak as if you did."

"You are making fun of me," she said, "and it is not good taste."

She stopped, confused, as he coloured to the roots of his hair.

"How long have you been in Paris?" she said at length.

"Three days," he replied gravely.

"But—but—surely you are not a nouveau! You speak French too well!"

Then after a pause, "Really are you a nouveau?"

"I am," he said.

She sat down on the marble bench lately occupied by Clifford, andtilting her parasol over her small head looked at him.

"I don't believe it."

He felt the compliment, and for a moment hesitated to declare himselfone of the despised. Then mustering up his courage, he told her how newand green he was, and all with a frankness which made her blue eyes openvery wide and her lips part in the sweetest of smiles.

"You have never seen a studio?"

"Never."

"Nor a model?"

"No."

"How funny," she said solemnly. Then they both laughed.

"And you," he said, "have seen studios?"

"Hundreds."

"And models?"

"Millions."

"And you know Bouguereau?"

"Yes, and Henner, and Constant and Laurens, and Puvis de Chavannes andDagnan and Courtois, and—and all the rest of them!"

"And yet you say you are not an artist."

"Pardon," she said gravely, "did I say I was not?"

"Won't you tell me?" he hesitated.

At first she looked at him, shaking her head and smiling, then of asudden her eyes fell and she began tracing figures with her parasol inthe gravel at her feet. Hastings had taken a place on the seat, and now,with his elbows on his knees, sat watching the spray drifting above thefountain jet. A small boy, dressed as a sailor, stood poking his yachtand crying, "I won't go home! I won't go home!" His nurse raised herhands to Heaven.

"Just like a little American boy," thought Hastings, and a pang ofhomesickness shot through him.

Presently the nurse captured the boat, and the small boy stood at bay.

"Monsieur René, when you decide to come here you may have your boat."

The boy backed away scowling.

"Give me my boat, I say," he cried, "and don't call me René, for myname's Randall and you know it!"

"Hello!" said Hastings,—"Randall?—that's English."

"I am American," announced the boy in perfectly good English, turning tolook at Hastings, "and she's such a fool she calls me René because mammacalls me Ranny—"

Here he dodged the exasperated nurse and took up his station behindHastings, who laughed, and catching him around the waist lifted him intohis lap.

"One of my countrymen," he said to the girl beside him. He smiled whilehe spoke, but there was a queer feeling in his throat.

"Don't you see the stars and stripes on my yacht?" demanded Randall.Sure enough, the American colours hung limply under the nurse's arm.

"Oh," cried the girl, "he is charming," and impulsively stooped to kisshim, but the infant Randall wriggled out of Hastings' arms, and hisnurse pounced upon him with an angry glance at the girl.

She reddened and then bit her lips as the nurse, with eyes still fixedon her, dragged the child away and ostentatiously wiped his lips withher handkerchief.

Then she stole a look at Hastings and bit her lip again.

"What an ill-tempered woman!" he said. "In America, most nurses areflattered when people kiss their children."

For an instant she tipped the parasol to hide her face, then closed itwith a snap and looked at him defiantly.

"Do you think it strange that she objected?"

"Why not?" he said in surprise.

Again she looked at him with quick searching eyes.

His eyes were clear and bright, and he smiled back, repeating, "Whynot?"

"You are droll," she murmured, bending her head.

"Why?"

But she made no answer, and sat silent, tracing curves and circles inthe dust with her parasol. After a while he said—"I am glad to see thatyoung people have so much liberty here. I understood that the Frenchwere not at all like us. You know in America—or at least where I livein Milbrook, girls have every liberty,—go out alone and receive theirfriends alone, and I was afraid I should miss it here. But I see how itis now, and I am glad I was mistaken."

She raised her eyes to his and kept them there.

He continued pleasantly—"Since I have sat here I have seen a lot ofpretty girls walking alone on the terrace there,—and then you arealone too. Tell me, for I do not know French customs,—do you have theliberty of going to the theatre without a chaperone?"

For a long time she studied his face, and then with a trembling smilesaid, "Why do you ask me?"

"Because you must know, of course," he said gaily.

"Yes," she replied indifferently, "I know."

He waited for an answer, but getting none, decided that perhaps she hadmisunderstood him.

"I hope you don't think I mean to presume on our short acquaintance," hebegan,—"in fact it is very odd but I don't know your name. When Mr.Clifford presented me he only mentioned mine. Is that the custom inFrance?"

"It is the custom in the Latin Quarter," she said with a queer light inher eyes. Then suddenly she began talking almost feverishly.

"You must know, Monsieur Hastings, that we are all un peu sans gênehere in the Latin Quarter. We are very Bohemian, and etiquette andceremony are out of place. It was for that Monsieur Clifford presentedyou to me with small ceremony, and left us together with less,—only forthat, and I am his friend, and I have many friends in the Latin Quarter,and we all know each other very well—and I am not studying art,but—but—"

"But what?" he said, bewildered.

"I shall not tell you,—it is a secret," she said with an uncertainsmile. On both cheeks a pink spot was burning, and her eyes were verybright.

Then in a moment her face fell. "Do you know Monsieur Clifford veryintimately?"

"Not very."

After a while she turned to him, grave and a little pale.

"My name is Valentine—Valentine Tissot. Might—might I ask a service ofyou on such very short acquaintance?"

"Oh," he cried, "I should be honoured."

"It is only this," she said gently, "it is not much. Promise me not tospeak to Monsieur Clifford about me. Promise me that you will speak tono one about me."

"I promise," he said, greatly puzzled.

She laughed nervously. "I wish to remain a mystery. It is a caprice."

"But," he began, "I had wished, I had hoped that you might give MonsieurClifford permission to bring me, to present me at your house."

"My—my house!" she repeated.

"I mean, where you live, in fact, to present me to your family."

The change in the girl's face shocked him.

"I beg your pardon," he cried, "I have hurt you."

And as quick as a flash she understood him because she was a woman.

"My parents are dead," she said.

Presently he began again, very gently.

"Would it displease you if I beg you to receive me? It is the custom?"

"I cannot," she answered. Then glancing up at him, "I am sorry; I shouldlike to; but believe me. I cannot."

He bowed seriously and looked vaguely uneasy.

"It isn't because I don't wish to. I—I like you; you are very kind tome."

"Kind?" he cried, surprised and puzzled.

"I like you," she said slowly, "and we will see each other sometimes ifyou will."

"At friends' houses."

"No, not at friends' houses."

"Where?"

"Here," she said with defiant eyes.

"Why," he cried, "in Paris you are much more liberal in your views thanwe are."

She looked at him curiously.

"Yes, we are very Bohemian."

"I think it is charming," he declared.

"You see, we shall be in the best of society," she ventured timidly,with a pretty gesture toward the statues of the dead queens, ranged instately ranks above the terrace.

He looked at her, delighted, and she brightened at the success of herinnocent little pleasantry.

"Indeed," she smiled, "I shall be well chaperoned, because you see weare under the protection of the gods themselves; look, there are Apollo,and Juno, and Venus, on their pedestals," counting them on her smallgloved fingers, "and Ceres, Hercules, and—but I can't make out—"

Hastings turned to look up at the winged god under whose shadow theywere seated.

"Why, it's Love," he said.

IV

"There is a nouveau here," drawled Laffat, leaning around his easel andaddressing his friend Bowles, "there is a nouveau here who is so tenderand green and appetizing that Heaven help him if he should fall into asalad bowl."

"Hayseed?" inquired Bowles, plastering in a background with a brokenpalette-knife and squinting at the effect with approval.

"Yes, Squeedunk or Oshkosh, and how he ever grew up among the daisiesand escaped the cows, Heaven alone knows!"

Bowles rubbed his thumb across the outlines of his study to "throw in alittle atmosphere," as he said, glared at the model, pulled at his pipeand finding it out struck a match on his neighbour's back to relight it.

"His name," continued Laffat, hurling a bit of bread at the hat-rack,"his name is Hastings. He is a berry. He knows no more about theworld,"—and here Mr. Laffat's face spoke volumes for his own knowledgeof that planet,—"than a maiden cat on its first moonlight stroll."

Bowles now having succeeded in lighting his pipe, repeated the thumbtouch on the other edge of the study and said, "Ah!"

"Yes," continued his friend, "and would you imagine it, he seems tothink that everything here goes on as it does in his d——d littlebackwoods ranch at home; talks about the pretty girls who walk alone inthe street; says how sensible it is; and how French parents aremisrepresented in America; says that for his part he finds Frenchgirls,—and he confessed to only knowing one,—as jolly as Americangirls. I tried to set him right, tried to give him a pointer as to whatsort of ladies walk about alone or with students, and he was either toostupid or too innocent to catch on. Then I gave it to him straight, andhe said I was a vile-minded fool and marched off."

"Did you assist him with your shoe?" inquired Bowles, languidlyinterested.

"Well, no."

"He called you a vile-minded fool."

"He was correct," said Clifford from his easel in front.

"What—what do you mean?" demanded Laffat, turning red.

"That," replied Clifford.

"Who spoke to you? Is this your business?" sneered Bowles, but nearlylost his balance as Clifford swung about and eyed him.

"Yes," he said slowly, "it's my business."

No one spoke for some time.

Then Clifford sang out, "I say, Hastings!"

And when Hastings left his easel and came around, he nodded toward theastonished Laffat.

"This man has been disagreeable to you, and I want to tell you that anytime you feel inclined to kick him, why, I will hold the othercreature."

Hastings, embarrassed, said, "Why no, I don't agree with his ideas,nothing more."

Clifford said "Naturally," and slipping his arm through Hastings',strolled about with him, and introduced him to several of his ownfriends, at which all the nouveaux opened their eyes with envy, and thestudio were given to understand that Hastings, although prepared to domenial work as the latest nouveau, was already within the charmed circleof the old, respected and feared, the truly great.

The rest finished, the model resumed his place, and work went on in achorus of songs and yells and every ear-splitting noise which the artstudent utters when studying the beautiful.

Five o'clock struck,—the model yawned, stretched and climbed into histrousers, and the noisy contents of six studios crowded through the halland down into the street. Ten minutes later, Hastings found himself ontop of a Montrouge tram, and shortly afterward was joined by Clifford.

They climbed down at the rue Gay Lussac.

"I always stop here," observed Clifford, "I like the walk through theLuxembourg."

"By the way," said Hastings, "how can I call on you when I don't knowwhere you live?"

"Why, I live opposite you."

"What—the studio in the garden where the almond trees are and theblackbirds—"

"Exactly," said Clifford. "I'm with my friend Elliott."

Hastings thought of the description of the two American artists which hehad heard from Miss Susie Byng, and looked blank.

Clifford continued, "Perhaps you had better let me know when you thinkof coming so,—so that I will be sure to—to be there," he ended ratherlamely.

"I shouldn't care to meet any of your model friends there," saidHastings, smiling. "You know—my ideas are rather straitlaced,—Isuppose you would say, Puritanical. I shouldn't enjoy it and wouldn'tknow how to behave."

"Oh, I understand," said Clifford, but added with greatcordiality,—"I'm sure we'll be friends although you may not approve ofme and my set, but you will like Severn and Selby because—because,well, they are like yourself, old chap."

After a moment he continued, "There is something I want to speak about.You see, when I introduced you, last week, in the Luxembourg, toValentine—"

"Not a word!" cried Hastings, smiling; "you must not tell me a word ofher!"

"Why—"

"No—not a word!" he said gaily. "I insist,—promise me upon your honouryou will not speak of her until I give you permission; promise!"

"I promise," said Clifford, amazed.

"She is a charming girl,—we had such a delightful chat after you left,and I thank you for presenting me, but not another word about her untilI give you permission."

"Oh," murmured Clifford.

"Remember your promise," he smiled, as he turned into his gateway.

Clifford strolled across the street and, traversing the ivy-coveredalley, entered his garden.

He felt for his studio key, muttering, "I wonder—I wonder,—but ofcourse he doesn't!"

He entered the hallway, and fitting the key into the door, stood staringat the two cards tacked over the panels.

FOXHALL CLIFFORD

RICHARD OSBORNE ELLIOTT

"Why the devil doesn't he want me to speak of her?"

He opened the door, and, discouraging the caresses of two brindlebull-dogs, sank down on the sofa.

Elliott sat smoking and sketching with a piece of charcoal by thewindow.

"Hello," he said without looking around.

Clifford gazed absently at the back of his head, murmuring, "I'm afraid,I'm afraid that man is too innocent. I say, Elliott," he said, at last,"Hastings,—you know the chap that old Tabby Byram came around here totell us about—the day you had to hide Colette in the armoire—"

"Yes, what's up?"

"Oh, nothing. He's a brick."

"Yes," said Elliott, without enthusiasm.

"Don't you think so?" demanded Clifford.

"Why yes, but he is going to have a tough time when some of hisillusions are dispelled."

"More shame to those who dispel 'em!"

"Yes,—wait until he comes to pay his call on us, unexpectedly, ofcourse—"

Clifford looked virtuous and lighted a cigar.

"I was just going to say," he observed, "that I have asked him not tocome without letting us know, so I can postpone any orgie you may haveintended—"

"Ah!" cried Elliott indignantly, "I suppose you put it to him in thatway."

"Not exactly," grinned Clifford. Then more seriously, "I don't wantanything to occur here to bother him. He's a brick, and it's a pity wecan't be more like him."

"I am," observed Elliott complacently, "only living with you—"

"Listen!" cried the other. "I have managed to put my foot in it in greatstyle. Do you know what I've done? Well—the first time I met him in thestreet,—or rather, it was in the Luxembourg, I introduced him toValentine!"

"Did he object?"

"Believe me," said Clifford, solemnly, "this rustic Hastings has no moreidea that Valentine is—is—in fact is Valentine, than he has that hehimself is a beautiful example of moral decency in a Quarter wheremorals are as rare as elephants. I heard enough in a conversationbetween that blackguard Loffat and the little immoral eruption, Bowles,to open my eyes. I tell you Hastings is a trump! He's a healthy,clean-minded young fellow, bred in a small country village, brought upwith the idea that saloons are way-stations to hell—and as for women—"

"Well?" demanded Elliott

"Well," said Clifford, "his idea of the dangerous woman is probably apainted Jezabel."

"Probably," replied the other.

"He's a trump!" said Clifford, "and if he swears the world is as goodand pure as his own heart, I'll swear he's right."

Elliott rubbed his charcoal on his file to get a point and turned to hissketch saying, "He will never hear any pessimism from Richard OsborneE."

"He's a lesson to me," said Clifford. Then he unfolded a small perfumednote, written on rose-coloured paper, which had been lying on the tablebefore him.

He read it, smiled, whistled a bar or two from "Miss Helyett," and satdown to answer it on his best cream-laid note-paper. When it was writtenand sealed, he picked up his stick and marched up and down the studiotwo or three times, whistling.

"Going out?" inquired the other, without turning.

"Yes," he said, but lingered a moment over Elliott's shoulder, watchinghim pick out the lights in his sketch with a bit of bread.

"To-morrow is Sunday," he observed after a moment's silence.

"Well?" inquired Elliott.

"Have you seen Colette?"

"No, I will to-night. She and Rowden and Jacqueline are coming toBoulant's. I suppose you and Cécile will be there?"

"Well, no," replied Clifford. "Cécile dines at home to-night, and I—Ihad an idea of going to Mignon's."

Elliott looked at him with disapproval.

"You can make all the arrangements for La Roche without me," hecontinued, avoiding Elliott's eyes.

"What are you up to now?"

"Nothing," protested Clifford.

"Don't tell me," replied his chum, with scorn; "fellows don't rush offto Mignon's when the set dine at Boulant's. Who is it now?—but no, Iwon't ask that,—what's the use!" Then he lifted up his voice incomplaint and beat upon the table with his pipe. "What's the use of evertrying to keep track of you? What will Cécile say,—oh, yes, what willshe say? It's a pity you can't be constant two months, yes, by Jove! andthe Quarter is indulgent, but you abuse its good nature and mine too!"

Presently he arose, and jamming his hat on his head, marched to thedoor.

"Heaven alone knows why any one puts up with your antics, but they alldo and so do I. If I were Cécile or any of the other pretty fools afterwhom you have toddled and will, in all human probabilities, continue totoddle, I say, if I were Cécile I'd spank you! Now I'm going toBoulant's, and as usual I shall make excuses for you and arrange theaffair, and I don't care a continental where you are going, but, by theskull of the studio skeleton! if you don't turn up to-morrow with yoursketching-kit under one arm and Cécile under the other,—if you don'tturn up in good shape, I'm done with you, and the rest can think whatthey please. Good-night."

Clifford said good-night with as pleasant a smile as he could muster,and then sat down with his eyes on the door. He took out his watch andgave Elliott ten minutes to vanish, then rang the concierge's call,murmuring, "Oh dear, oh dear, why the devil do I do it?"

"Alfred," he said, as that gimlet-eyed person answered the call, "makeyourself clean and proper, Alfred, and replace your sabots with a pairof shoes. Then put on your best hat and take this letter to the bigwhite house in the Rue de Dragon. There is no answer, mon petitAlfred."

The concierge departed with a snort in which unwillingness for theerrand and affection for M. Clifford were blended. Then with great carethe young fellow arrayed himself in all the beauties of his andElliott's wardrobe. He took his time about it, and occasionallyinterrupted his toilet to play his banjo or make pleasing diversion forthe bull-dogs by gambling about on all fours. "I've got two hours beforeme," he thought, and borrowed a pair of Elliott's silken foot-gear, withwhich he and the dogs played ball until he decided to put them on. Thenhe lighted a cigarette and inspected his dress-coat. When he had emptiedit of four handkerchiefs, a fan, and a pair of crumpled gloves as longas his arm, he decided it was not suited to add éclat to his charmsand cast about in his mind for a substitute. Elliott was too thin, and,anyway, his coats were now under lock and key. Rowden probably was asbadly off as himself. Hastings! Hastings was the man! But when he threwon a smoking-jacket and sauntered over to Hastings' house, he wasinformed that he had been gone over an hour.

"Now, where in the name of all that's reasonable could he have gone!"muttered Clifford, looking down the street.

The maid didn't know, so he bestowed upon her a fascinating smile andlounged back to the studio.

Hastings was not far away. The Luxembourg is within five minutes' walkof the rue Notre Dame des Champs, and there he sat under the shadow of awinged god, and there he had sat for an hour, poking holes in the dustand watching the steps which lead from the northern terrace to thefountain. The sun hung, a purple globe, above the misty hills of Meudon.Long streamers of clouds touched with rose swept low on the western sky,and the dome of the distant Invalides burned like an opal through thehaze. Behind the Palace the smoke from a high chimney mounted straightinto the air, purple until it crossed the sun, where it changed to a barof smouldering fire. High above the darkening foliage of the chestnutsthe twin towers of St. Sulpice rose, an ever-deepening silhouette.

A sleepy blackbird was carolling in some near thicket, and pigeonspassed and repassed with the whisper of soft winds in their wings. Thelight on the Palace windows had died away, and the dome of the Pantheonswam aglow above the northern terrace, a fiery Valhalla in the sky;while below in grim array, along the terrace ranged, the marble ranks ofqueens looked out into the west.

From the end of the long walk by the northern façade of the Palace camethe noise of omnibuses and the cries of the street. Hastings looked atthe Palace clock. Six, and as his own watch agreed with it, he fell topoking holes in the gravel again. A constant stream of people passedbetween the Odéon and the fountain. Priests in black, withsilver-buckled shoes; line soldiers, slouchy and rakish; neat girlswithout hats bearing milliners' boxes, students with black portfoliosand high hats, students with bérets and big canes, nervous,quick-stepping officers, symphonies in turquoise and silver; ponderousjangling cavalrymen all over dust, pastry cooks' boys skipping alongwith utter disregard for the safety of the basket balanced on the impishhead, and then the lean outcast, the shambling Paris tramp, slouchingwith shoulders bent and little eye furtively scanning the ground forsmokers' refuse;—all these moved in a steady stream across the fountaincircle and out into the city by the Odeon, whose long arcades were nowbeginning to flicker with gas-jets. The melancholy bells of St Sulpicestruck the hour and the clock-tower of the Palace lighted up. Thenhurried steps sounded across the gravel and Hastings raised his head.

"How late you are," he said, but his voice was hoarse and only hisflushed face told how long had seemed the waiting.

She said, "I was kept—indeed, I was so much annoyed—and—and I mayonly stay a moment."

She sat down beside him, casting a furtive glance over her shoulder atthe god upon his pedestal.

"What a nuisance, that intruding cupid still there?"

"Wings and arrows too," said Hastings, unheeding her motion to beseated.

"Wings," she murmured, "oh, yes—to fly away with when he's tired of hisplay. Of course it was a man who conceived the idea of wings, otherwiseCupid would have been insupportable."

"Do you think so?"

"Ma foi, it's what men think."

"And women?"

"Oh," she said, with a toss of her small head, "I really forget what wewere speaking of."

"We were speaking of love," said Hastings.

"I was not," said the girl. Then looking up at the marble god, "Idon't care for this one at all. I don't believe he knows how to shoothis arrows—no, indeed, he is a coward;—he creeps up like an assassinin the twilight. I don't approve of cowardice," she announced, andturned her back on the statue.

"I think," said Hastings quietly, "that he does shoot fairly—yes, andeven gives one warning."

"Is it your experience, Monsieur Hastings?"

He looked straight into her eyes and said, "He is warning me."

"Heed the warning then," she cried, with a nervous laugh. As she spokeshe stripped off her gloves, and then carefully proceeded to draw themon again. When this was accomplished she glanced at the Palace clock,saying, "Oh dear, how late it is!" furled her umbrella, then unfurledit, and finally looked at him.

"No," he said, "I shall not heed his warning."

"Oh dear," she sighed again, "still talking about that tiresome statue!"Then stealing a glance at his face, "I suppose—I suppose you are inlove."

"I don't know," he muttered, "I suppose I am."

She raised her head with a quick gesture. "You seem delighted at theidea," she said, but bit her lip and trembled as his eyes met hers. Thensudden fear came over her and she sprang up, staring into the gatheringshadows.

"Are you cold?" he said.

But she only answered, "Oh dear, oh dear, it is late—so late! I mustgo—good-night."

She gave him her gloved hand a moment and then withdrew it with a start.

"What is it?" he insisted. "Are you frightened?"

She looked at him strangely.

"No—no—not frightened,—you are very good to me—"

(Video) Section 29 ✫ The Aesop for Children ✫ Learn English through story

"By Jove!" he burst out, "what do you mean by saying I'm good to you?That's at least the third time, and I don't understand!"

The sound of a drum from the guard-house at the palace cut him short."Listen," she whispered, "they are going to close. It's late, oh, solate!"

The rolling of the drum came nearer and nearer, and then the silhouetteof the drummer cut the sky above the eastern terrace. The fading lightlingered a moment on his belt and bayonet, then he passed into theshadows, drumming the echoes awake. The roll became fainter along theeastern terrace, then grew and grew and rattled with increasingsharpness when he passed the avenue by the bronze lion and turned downthe western terrace walk. Louder and louder the drum sounded, and theechoes struck back the notes from the grey palace wall; and now thedrummer loomed up before them—his red trousers a dull spot in thegathering gloom, the brass of his drum and bayonet touched with a palespark, his epaulettes tossing on his shoulders. He passed leaving thecrash of the drum in their ears, and far into the alley of trees theysaw his little tin cup shining on his haversack. Then the sentinelsbegan the monotonous cry: "On ferme! on ferme!" and the bugle blew fromthe barracks in the rue de Tournon.

"On ferme! on ferme!"

"Good-night," she whispered, "I must return alone to-night."

He watched her until she reached the northern terrace, and then sat downon the marble seat until a hand on his shoulder and a glimmer ofbayonets warned him away.

She passed on through the grove, and turning into the rue de Medici,traversed it to the Boulevard. At the corner she bought a bunch ofviolets and walked on along the Boulevard to the rue des Écoles. A cabwas drawn up before Boulant's, and a pretty girl aided by Elliott jumpedout.

"Valentine!" cried the girl, "come with us!"

"I can't," she said, stopping a moment—"I have a rendezvous atMignon's."

"Not Victor?" cried the girl, laughing, but she passed with a littleshiver, nodding good-night, then turning into the Boulevard St. Germain,she walked a tittle faster to escape a gay party sitting before the CaféCluny who called to her to join them. At the door of the RestaurantMignon stood a coal-black negro in buttons. He took off his peaked capas she mounted the carpeted stairs.

"Send Eugene to me," she said at the office, and passing through thehallway to the right of the dining-room stopped before a row of panelleddoors. A waiter passed and she repeated her demand for Eugene, whopresently appeared, noiselessly skipping, and bowed murmuring, "Madame."

"Who is here?"

"No one in the cabinets, madame; in the half Madame Madelon and MonsieurGay, Monsieur de Clamart, Monsieur Clisson, Madame Marie and their set."Then he looked around and bowing again murmured, "Monsieur awaits madamesince half an hour," and he knocked at one of the panelled doors bearingthe number six.

Clifford opened the door and the girl entered.

The garçon bowed her in, and whispering, "Will Monsieur have thegoodness to ring?" vanished.

He helped her off with her jacket and took her hat and umbrella. Whenshe was seated at the little table with Clifford opposite she smiled andleaned forward on both elbows looking him in the face.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded.

"Waiting," he replied, in accents of adoration.

For an instant she turned and examined herself in the glass. The wideblue eyes, the curling hair, the straight nose and short curled lipflashed in the mirror an instant only, and then its depths reflected herpretty neck and back. "Thus do I turn my back on vanity," she said, andthen leaning forward again, "What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for you," repeated Clifford, slightly troubled.

"And Cécile."

"Now don't, Valentine—"

"Do you know," she said calmly, "I dislike your conduct?"

He was a little disconcerted, and rang for Eugene to cover hisconfusion.

The soup was bisque, and the wine Pommery, and the courses followed eachother with the usual regularity until Eugene brought coffee, and therewas nothing left on the table but a small silver lamp.

"Valentine," said Clifford, after having obtained permission to smoke,"is it the Vaudeville or the Eldorado—or both, or the Nouveau Cirque,or—"

"It is here," said Valentine.

"Well," he said, greatly flattered, "I'm afraid I couldn't amuse you—"

"Oh, yes, you are funnier than the Eldorado."

"Now see here, don't guy me, Valentine. You always do, and, and,—youknow what they say,—a good laugh kills—"

"What?"

"Er—er—love and all that."

She laughed until her eyes were moist with tears. "Tiens," she cried,"he is dead, then!"

Clifford eyed her with growing alarm.

"Do you know why I came?" she said.

"No," he replied uneasily, "I don't."

"How long have you made love to me?"

"Well," he admitted, somewhat startled,—"I should say,—for about ayear."

"It is a year, I think. Are you not tired?"

He did not answer.

"Don't you know that I like you too well to—to ever fall in love withyou?" she said. "Don't you know that we are too good comrades,—too oldfriends for that? And were we not,—do you think that I do not know yourhistory, Monsieur Clifford?"

"Don't be—don't be so sarcastic," he urged; "don't be unkind,Valentine."

"I'm not. I'm kind. I'm very kind,—to you and to Cécile."

"Cécile is tired of me."

"I hope she is," said the girl, "for she deserves a better fate. Tiens,do you know your reputation in the Quarter? Of the inconstant, the mostinconstant,—utterly incorrigible and no more serious than a gnat on asummer night. Poor Cécile!"

Clifford looked so uncomfortable that she spoke more kindly.

"I like you. You know that. Everybody does. You are a spoiled childhere. Everything is permitted you and every one makes allowance, butevery one cannot be a victim to caprice."

"Caprice!" he cried. "By Jove, if the girls of the Latin Quarter are notcapricious—"

"Never mind,—never mind about that! You must not sit in judgment—youof all men. Why are you here to-night? Oh," she cried, "I will tell youwhy! Monsieur receives a little note; he sends a little answer; hedresses in his conquering raiment—"

"I don't," said Clifford, very red.

"You do, and it becomes you," she retorted with a faint smile. Thenagain, very quietly, "I am in your power, but I know I am in the powerof a friend. I have come to acknowledge it to you here,—and it isbecause of that that I am here to beg of you—a—a favour."

Clifford opened his eyes, but said nothing.

"I am in—great distress of mind. It is Monsieur Hastings."

"Well?" said Clifford, in some astonishment.

"I want to ask you," she continued in a low voice, "I want to ask youto—to—in case you should speak of me before him,—not to say,—not tosay,—"

"I shall not speak of you to him," he said quietly.

"Can—can you prevent others?"

"I might if I was present. May I ask why?"

"That is not fair," she murmured; "you know how—how he considersme,—as he considers every woman. You know how different he is from youand the rest. I have never seen a man,—such a man as MonsieurHastings."

He let his cigarette go out unnoticed.

"I am almost afraid of him—afraid he should know—what we all are inthe Quarter. Oh, I do not wish him to know! I do not wish him to—toturn from me—to cease from speaking to me as he does! You—you and therest cannot know what it has been to me. I could not believe him,—Icould not believe he was so good and—and noble. I do not wish him toknow—so soon. He will find out—sooner or later, he will find out forhimself, and then he will turn away from me. Why!" she criedpassionately, "why should he turn from me and not from you?"

Clifford, much embarrassed, eyed his cigarette.

The girl rose, very white. "He is your friend—you have a right to warnhim."

"He is my friend," he said at length.

They looked at each other in silence.

Then she cried, "By all that I hold to me most sacred, you need not warnhim!"

"I shall trust your word," he said pleasantly.

V

The month passed quickly for Hastings, and left few definite impressionsafter it. It did leave some, however. One was a painful impression ofmeeting Mr. Bladen on the Boulevard des Capucines in company with a verypronounced young person whose laugh dismayed him, and when at last heescaped from the café where Mr. Bladen had hauled him to join them in abock he felt as if the whole boulevard was looking at him, and judginghim by his company. Later, an instinctive conviction regarding the youngperson with Mr. Bladen sent the hot blood into his cheek, and hereturned to the pension in such a miserable state of mind that Miss Byngwas alarmed and advised him to conquer his homesickness at once.

Another impression was equally vivid. One Saturday morning, feelinglonely, his wanderings about the city brought him to the Gare St.Lazare. It was early for breakfast, but he entered the Hôtel Terminusand took a table near the window. As he wheeled about to give his order,a man passing rapidly along the aisle collided with his head, andlooking up to receive the expected apology, he was met instead by a slapon the shoulder and a hearty, "What the deuce are you doing here, oldchap?" It was Rowden, who seized him and told him to come along. So,mildly protesting, he was ushered into a private dining-room whereClifford, rather red, jumped up from the table and welcomed him with astartled air which was softened by the unaffected glee of Rowden and theextreme courtesy of Elliott. The latter presented him to threebewitching girls who welcomed him so charmingly and seconded Rowden inhis demand that Hastings should make one of the party, that he consentedat once. While Elliott briefly outlined the projected excursion to LaRoche, Hastings delightedly ate his omelet, and returned the smiles ofencouragement from Cécile and Colette and Jacqueline. Meantime Cliffordin a bland whisper was telling Rowden what an ass he was. Poor Rowdenlooked miserable until Elliott, divining how affairs were turning,frowned on Clifford and found a moment to let Rowden know that they wereall going to make the best of it.

"You shut up," he observed to Clifford, "it's fate, and that settlesit."

"It's Rowden, and that settles it," murmured Clifford, concealing agrin. For after all he was not Hastings' wet nurse. So it came aboutthat the train which left the Gare St. Lazare at 9.15 a.m. stopped amoment in its career towards Havre and deposited at the red-roofedstation of La Roche a merry party, armed with sunshades, trout-rods, andone cane, carried by the non-combatant, Hastings. Then, when they hadestablished their camp in a grove of sycamores which bordered the littleriver Ept, Clifford, the acknowledged master of all that pertained tosportsmanship, took command.

"You, Rowden," he said, "divide your flies with Elliott and keep an eyeon him or else he'll be trying to put on a float and sinker. Prevent himby force from grubbing about for worms."

Elliott protested, but was forced to smile in the general laugh.

"You make me ill," he asserted; "do you think this is my first trout?"

"I shall be delighted to see your first trout," said Clifford, anddodging a fly hook, hurled with intent to hit, proceeded to sort andequip three slender rods destined to bring joy and fish to Cécile,Colette, and Jacqueline. With perfect gravity he ornamented each linewith four split shot, a small hook, and a brilliant quill float.

"I shall never touch the worms," announced Cécile with a shudder.

Jacqueline and Colette hastened to sustain her, and Hastings pleasantlyoffered to act in the capacity of general baiter and taker-off of fish.But Cécile, doubtless fascinated by the gaudy flies in Clifford's book,decided to accept lessons from him in the true art, and presentlydisappeared up the Ept with Clifford in tow.

Elliott looked doubtfully at Colette.

"I prefer gudgeons," said that damsel with decision, "and you andMonsieur Rowden may go away when you please; may they not, Jacqueline?"

"Certainly," responded Jacqueline.

Elliott, undecided, examined his rod and reel.

"You've got your reel on wrong side up," observed Rowden.

Elliott wavered, and stole a glance at Colette.

"I—I—have almost decided to—er—not to flip the flies about justnow," he began. "There's the pole that Cécile left—"

"Don't call it a pole," corrected Rowden.

"Rod, then," continued Elliott, and started off in the wake of the twogirls, but was promptly collared by Rowden.

"No, you don't! Fancy a man fishing with a float and sinker when he hasa fly rod in his hand! You come along!"

Where the placid little Ept flows down between its thickets to theSeine, a grassy bank shadows the haunt of the gudgeon, and on this banksat Colette and Jacqueline and chattered and laughed and watched theswerving of the scarlet quills, while Hastings, his hat over his eyes,his head on a bank of moss, listened to their soft voices and gallantlyunhooked the small and indignant gudgeon when a flash of a rod and ahalf-suppressed scream announced a catch. The sunlight filtered throughthe leafy thickets awaking to song the forest birds. Magpies in spotlessblack and white flirted past, alighting near by with a hop and bound andtwitch of the tail. Blue and white jays with rosy breasts shriekedthrough the trees, and a low-sailing hawk wheeled among the fields ofripening wheat, putting to flight flocks of twittering hedge birds.

Across the Seine a gull dropped on the water like a plume. The air waspure and still. Scarcely a leaf moved. Sounds from a distant farm camefaintly, the shrill cock-crow and dull baying. Now and then a steam-tugwith big raking smoke-pipe, bearing the name "Guêpe 27," ploughed up theriver dragging its interminable train of barges, or a sailboat droppeddown with the current toward sleepy Rouen.

A faint fresh odour of earth and water hung in the air, and through thesunlight, orange-tipped butterflies danced above the marsh grass, softvelvety butterflies flapped through the mossy woods.

Hastings was thinking of Valentine. It was two o'clock when Elliottstrolled back, and frankly admitting that he had eluded Rowden, sat downbeside Colette and prepared to doze with satisfaction.

"Where are your trout?" said Colette severely.

"They still live," murmured Elliott, and went fast asleep.

Rowden returned shortly after, and casting a scornful glance at theslumbering one, displayed three crimson-flecked trout.

"And that," smiled Hastings lazily, "that is the holy end to which thefaithful plod,—the slaughter of these small fish with a bit of silk andfeather."

Rowden disdained to answer him. Colette caught another gudgeon and awokeElliott, who protested and gazed about for the lunch baskets, asClifford and Cécile came up demanding instant refreshment. Cécile'sskirts were soaked, and her gloves torn, but she was happy, andClifford, dragging out a two-pound trout, stood still to receive theapplause of the company.

"Where the deuce did you get that?" demanded Elliott.

Cécile, wet and enthusiastic, recounted the battle, and then Cliffordeulogized her powers with the fly, and, in proof, produced from hiscreel a defunct chub, which, he observed, just missed being a trout.

They were all very happy at luncheon, and Hastings was voted "charming."He enjoyed it immensely,—only it seemed to him at moments thatflirtation went further in France than in Millbrook, Connecticut, and hethought that Cécile might be a little less enthusiastic about Clifford,that perhaps it would be quite as well if Jacqueline sat further awayfrom Rowden, and that possibly Colette could have, for a moment atleast, taken her eyes from Elliott's face. Still he enjoyed it—exceptwhen his thoughts drifted to Valentine, and then he felt that he wasvery far away from her. La Roche is at least an hour and a half fromParis. It is also true that he felt a happiness, a quick heart-beatwhen, at eight o'clock that night the train which bore them from LaRoche rolled into the Gare St. Lazare and he was once more in the cityof Valentine.

"Good-night," they said, pressing around him. "You must come with usnext time!"

He promised, and watched them, two by two, drift into the darkeningcity, and stood so long that, when again he raised his eyes, the vastBoulevard was twinkling with gas-jets through which the electric lightsstared like moons.

VI

It was with another quick heart-beat that he awoke next morning, for hisfirst thought was of Valentine.

The sun already gilded the towers of Notre Dame, the clatter ofworkmen's sabots awoke sharp echoes in the street below, and across theway a blackbird in a pink almond tree was going into an ecstasy oftrills.

He determined to awake Clifford for a brisk walk in the country, hopinglater to beguile that gentleman into the American church for his soul'ssake. He found Alfred the gimlet-eyed washing the asphalt walk which ledto the studio.

"Monsieur Elliott?" he replied to the perfunctory inquiry, "je ne saispas."

"And Monsieur Clifford," began Hastings, somewhat astonished.

"Monsieur Clifford," said the concierge with fine irony, "will bepleased to see you, as he retired early; in fact he has just come in."

Hastings hesitated while the concierge pronounced a fine eulogy onpeople who never stayed out all night and then came battering at thelodge gate during hours which even a gendarme held sacred to sleep. Healso discoursed eloquently upon the beauties of temperance, and took anostentatious draught from the fountain in the court.

"I do not think I will come in," said Hastings.

"Pardon, monsieur," growled the concierge, "perhaps it would be well tosee Monsieur Clifford. He possibly needs aid. Me he drives forth withhair-brushes and boots. It is a mercy if he has not set fire tosomething with his candle."

Hastings hesitated for an instant, but swallowing his dislike of such amission, walked slowly through the ivy-covered alley and across theinner garden to the studio. He knocked. Perfect silence. Then he knockedagain, and this time something struck the door from within with a crash.

"That," said the concierge, "was a boot." He fitted his duplicate keyinto the lock and ushered Hastings in. Clifford, in disordered eveningdress, sat on the rug in the middle of the room. He held in his hand ashoe, and did not appear astonished to see Hastings.

"Good-morning, do you use Pears' soap?" he inquired with a vague wave ofhis hand and a vaguer smile.

Hastings' heart sank. "For Heaven's sake," he said, "Clifford, go tobed."

"Not while that—that Alfred pokes his shaggy head in here an' I have ashoe left."

Hastings blew out the candle, picked up Clifford's hat and cane, andsaid, with an emotion he could not conceal, "This is terrible,Clifford,—I—never knew you did this sort of thing."

"Well, I do," said Clifford.

"Where is Elliott?"

"Ole chap," returned Clifford, becoming maudlin, "Providence whichfeeds—feeds—er—sparrows an' that sort of thing watcheth over theintemperate wanderer—"

"Where is Elliott?"

But Clifford only wagged his head and waved his arm about. "He's outthere,—somewhere about." Then suddenly feeling a desire to see hismissing chum, lifted up his voice and howled for him.

Hastings, thoroughly shocked, sat down on the lounge without a word.Presently, after shedding several scalding tears, Clifford brightened upand rose with great precaution.

"Ole chap," he observed, "do you want to see er—er miracle? Well, heregoes. I'm goin' to begin."

He paused, beaming at vacancy.

"Er miracle," he repeated.

Hastings supposed he was alluding to the miracle of his keeping hisbalance, and said nothing.

"I'm goin' to bed," he announced, "poor ole Clifford's goin' to bed, an'that's er miracle!"

And he did with a nice calculation of distance and equilibrium whichwould have rung enthusiastic yells of applause from Elliott had he beenthere to assist en connaisseur. But he was not. He had not yet reachedthe studio. He was on his way, however, and smiled with magnificentcondescension on Hastings, who, half an hour later, found him recliningupon a bench in the Luxembourg. He permitted himself to be aroused,dusted and escorted to the gate. Here, however, he refused all furtherassistance, and bestowing a patronizing bow upon Hastings, steered atolerably true course for the rue Vavin.

Hastings watched him out of sight, and then slowly retraced his stepstoward the fountain. At first he felt gloomy and depressed, butgradually the clear air of the morning lifted the pressure from hisheart, and he sat down on the marble seat under the shadow of the wingedgod.

The air was fresh and sweet with perfume from the orange flowers.Everywhere pigeons were bathing, dashing the water over their iris-huedbreasts, flashing in and out of the spray or nestling almost to the neckalong the polished basin. The sparrows, too, were abroad in force,soaking their dust-coloured feathers in the limpid pool and chirpingwith might and main. Under the sycamores which surrounded the duck-pondopposite the fountain of Marie de Medici, the water-fowl cropped theherbage, or waddled in rows down the bank to embark on some solemnaimless cruise.

Butterflies, somewhat lame from a chilly night's repose under the lilacleaves, crawled over and over the white phlox, or took a rheumaticflight toward some sun-warmed shrub. The bees were already busy amongthe heliotrope, and one or two grey flies with brick-coloured eyes satin a spot of sunlight beside the marble seat, or chased each otherabout, only to return again to the spot of sunshine and rub theirfore-legs, exulting.

The sentries paced briskly before the painted boxes, pausing at times tolook toward the guard-house for their relief.

They came at last, with a shuffle of feet and click of bayonets, theword was passed, the relief fell out, and away they went, crunch,crunch, across the gravel.

A mellow chime floated from the clock-tower of the palace, the deep bellof St. Sulpice echoed the stroke. Hastings sat dreaming in the shadow ofthe god, and while he mused somebody came and sat down beside him. Atfirst he did not raise his head. It was only when she spoke that hesprang up.

"You! At this hour?"

"I was restless, I could not sleep." Then in a low, happy voice—"Andyou! at this hour?"

"I—I slept, but the sun awoke me."

"I could not sleep," she said, and her eyes seemed, for a moment,touched with an indefinable shadow. Then, smiling, "I am so glad—Iseemed to know you were coming. Don't laugh, I believe in dreams."

"Did you really dream of,—of my being here?"

"I think I was awake when I dreamed it," she admitted. Then for a timethey were mute, acknowledging by silence the happiness of beingtogether. And after all their silence was eloquent, for faint smiles,and glances born of their thoughts, crossed and recrossed, until lipsmoved and words were formed, which seemed almost superfluous. What theysaid was not very profound. Perhaps the most valuable jewel that fellfrom Hastings' lips bore direct reference to breakfast.

"I have not yet had my chocolate," she confessed, "but what a materialman you are."

"Valentine," he said impulsively, "I wish,—I do wish that youwould,—just for this once,—give me the whole day,—just for thisonce."

"Oh dear," she smiled, "not only material, but selfish!"

"Not selfish, hungry," he said, looking at her.

"A cannibal too; oh dear!"

"Will you, Valentine?"

"But my chocolate—"

"Take it with me."

"But déjeuner—"

"Together, at St. Cloud."

"But I can't—"

"Together,—all day,—all day long; will you, Valentine?"

She was silent.

"Only for this once."

Again that indefinable shadow fell across her eyes, and when it was goneshe sighed. "Yes,—together, only for this once."

"All day?" he said, doubting his happiness.

"All day," she smiled; "and oh, I am so hungry!"

He laughed, enchanted.

"What a material young lady it is."

On the Boulevard St. Michel there is a Crémerie painted white and blueoutside, and neat and clean as a whistle inside. The auburn-haired youngwoman who speaks French like a native, and rejoices in the name ofMurphy, smiled at them as they entered, and tossing a fresh napkin overthe zinc tête-à-tête table, whisked before them two cups of chocolateand a basket full of crisp, fresh croissons.

The primrose-coloured pats of butter, each stamped with a shamrock inrelief, seemed saturated with the fragrance of Normandy pastures.

"How delicious!" they said in the same breath, and then laughed at thecoincidence.

"With but a single thought," he began.

"How absurd!" she cried with cheeks all rosy. "I'm thinking I'd like acroisson."

"So am I," he replied triumphant, "that proves it."

Then they had a quarrel; she accusing him of behaviour unworthy of achild in arms, and he denying it, and bringing counter charges, untilMademoiselle Murphy laughed in sympathy, and the last croisson was eatenunder a flag of truce. Then they rose, and she took his arm with abright nod to Mile. Murphy, who cried them a merry: "Bonjour, madame!bonjour, monsieur!" and watched them hail a passing cab and drive away."Dieu! qu'il est beau," she sighed, adding after a moment, "Do they bemarried, I dunno,—ma foi ils ont bien l'air."

The cab swung around the rue de Medici, turned into the rue deVaugirard, followed it to where it crosses the rue de Rennes, and takingthat noisy thoroughfare, drew up before the Gare Montparnasse. They werejust in time for a train and scampered up the stairway and out to thecars as the last note from the starting-gong rang through the archedstation. The guard slammed the door of their compartment, a whistlesounded, answered by a screech from the locomotive, and the long trainglided from the station, faster, faster, and sped out into the morningsunshine. The summer wind blew in their faces from the open window, andsent the soft hair dancing on the girl's forehead.

"We have the compartment to ourselves," said Hastings.

She leaned against the cushioned window-seat, her eyes bright and wideopen, her lips parted. The wind lifted her hat, and fluttered theribbons under her chin. With a quick movement she untied them, and,drawing a long hat-pin from her hat, laid it down on the seat besideher. The train was flying.

The colour surged in her cheeks, and, with each quick-drawn breath, herbreath rose and fell under the cluster of lilies at her throat. Trees,houses, ponds, danced past, cut by a mist of telegraph poles.

"Faster! faster!" she cried.

His eyes never left her, but hers, wide open, and blue as the summersky, seemed fixed on something far ahead,—something which came nonearer, but fled before them as they fled.

Was it the horizon, cut now by the grim fortress on the hill, now by thecross of a country chapel? Was it the summer moon, ghost-like, slippingthrough the vaguer blue above?

"Faster! faster!" she cried.

Her parted lips burned scarlet.

The car shook and shivered, and the fields streamed by like an emeraldtorrent. He caught the excitement, and his faced glowed.

"Oh," she cried, and with an unconscious movement caught his hand,drawing him to the window beside her. "Look! lean out with me!"

He only saw her lips move; her voice was drowned in the roar of atrestle, but his hand closed in hers and he clung to the sill. The windwhistled in their ears. "Not so far out, Valentine, take care!" hegasped.

Below, through the ties of the trestle, a broad river flashed into viewand out again, as the train thundered along a tunnel, and away once morethrough the freshest of green fields. The wind roared about them. Thegirl was leaning far out from the window, and he caught her by thewaist, crying, "Not too far!" but she only murmured, "Faster! faster!away out of the city, out of the land, faster, faster! away out of theworld!"

"What are you saying all to yourself?" he said, but his voice wasbroken, and the wind whirled it back into his throat.

She heard him, and, turning from the window looked down at his arm abouther. Then she raised her eyes to his. The car shook and the windowsrattled. They were dashing through a forest now, and the sun swept thedewy branches with running flashes of fire. He looked into her troubledeyes; he drew her to him and kissed the half-parted lips, and she criedout, a bitter, hopeless cry, "Not that—not that!"

But he held her close and strong, whispering words of honest love andpassion, and when she sobbed—"Not that—not that—I have promised! Youmust—you must know—I am—not—worthy—" In the purity of his own hearther words were, to him, meaningless then, meaningless for ever after.Presently her voice ceased, and her head rested on his breast. He leanedagainst the window, his ears swept by the furious wind, his heart in ajoyous tumult. The forest was passed, and the sun slipped from behindthe trees, flooding the earth again with brightness. She raised her eyesand looked out into the world from the window. Then she began to speak,but her voice was faint, and he bent his head close to hers andlistened. "I cannot turn from you; I am too weak. You were long ago mymaster—master of my heart and soul. I have broken my word to one whotrusted me, but I have told you all;—what matters the rest?" He smiledat her innocence and she worshipped his. She spoke again: "Take me orcast me away;—what matters it? Now with a word you can kill me, and itmight be easier to die than to look upon happiness as great as mine."

He took her in his arms, "Hush, what are you saying? Look,—look out atthe sunlight, the meadows and the streams. We shall be very happy in sobright a world."

She turned to the sunlight. From the window, the world below seemed veryfair to her.

Trembling with happiness, she sighed: "Is this the world? Then I havenever known it."

"Nor have I, God forgive me," he murmured.

Perhaps it was our gentle Lady of the Fields who forgave them both.

RUE BARRÉE

"For let Philosopher and Doctor preach
Of what they will and what they will not,—each
Is but one link in an eternal chain
That none can slip nor break nor over-reach."
"Crimson nor yellow roses nor
The savour of the mounting sea
Are worth the perfume I adore
That clings to thee.
The languid-headed lilies tire,
The changeless waters weary me;
I ache with passionate desire
Of thine and thee.
There are but these things in the world—
Thy mouth of fire,
Thy breasts, thy hands, thy hair upcurled
And my desire."

I

One morning at Julian's, a student said to Selby, "That is FoxhallClifford," pointing with his brushes at a young man who sat before aneasel, doing nothing.

Selby, shy and nervous, walked over and began: "My name is Selby,—Ihave just arrived in Paris, and bring a letter of introduction—" Hisvoice was lost in the crash of a falling easel, the owner of whichpromptly assaulted his neighbour, and for a time the noise of battlerolled through the studios of MM. Boulanger and Lefebvre, presentlysubsiding into a scuffle on the stairs outside. Selby, apprehensive asto his own reception in the studio, looked at Clifford, who sat serenelywatching the fight.

"It's a little noisy here," said Clifford, "but you will like thefellows when you know them." His unaffected manner delighted Selby. Thenwith a simplicity that won his heart, he presented him to half a dozenstudents of as many nationalities. Some were cordial, all were polite.Even the majestic creature who held the position of Massier, unbentenough to say: "My friend, when a man speaks French as well as you do,and is also a friend of Monsieur Clifford, he will have no trouble inthis studio. You expect, of course, to fill the stove until the next newman comes?"

"Of course."

"And you don't mind chaff?"

"No," replied Selby, who hated it.

Clifford, much amused, put on his hat, saying, "You must expect lots ofit at first."

Selby placed his own hat on his head and followed him to the door.

As they passed the model stand there was a furious cry of "Chapeau!Chapeau!" and a student sprang from his easel menacing Selby, whoreddened but looked at Clifford.

"Take off your hat for them," said the latter, laughing.

A little embarrassed, he turned and saluted the studio.

"Et moi?" cried the model.

"You are charming," replied Selby, astonished at his own audacity, butthe studio rose as one man, shouting: "He has done well! he's allright!" while the model, laughing, kissed her hand to him and cried: "Àdemain beau jeune homme!"

All that week Selby worked at the studio unmolested. The French studentschristened him "l'Enfant Prodigue," which was freely translated, "TheProdigious Infant," "The Kid," "Kid Selby," and "Kidby." But the diseasesoon ran its course from "Kidby" to "Kidney," and then naturally to"Tidbits," where it was arrested by Clifford's authority and ultimatelyrelapsed to "Kid."

Wednesday came, and with it M. Boulanger. For three hours the studentswrithed under his biting sarcasms,—among the others Clifford, who wasinformed that he knew even less about a work of art than he did aboutthe art of work. Selby was more fortunate. The professor examined hisdrawing in silence, looked at him sharply, and passed on with anon-committal gesture. He presently departed arm in arm with Bouguereau,to the relief of Clifford, who was then at liberty to jam his hat on hishead and depart.

The next day he did not appear, and Selby, who had counted on seeing himat the studio, a thing which he learned later it was vanity to count on,wandered back to the Latin Quarter alone.

Paris was still strange and new to him. He was vaguely troubled by itssplendour. No tender memories stirred his American bosom at the Place duChâtelet, nor even by Notre Dame. The Palais de Justice with its clockand turrets and stalking sentinels in blue and vermilion, the Place St.Michel with its jumble of omnibuses and ugly water-spitting griffins,the hill of the Boulevard St. Michel, the tooting trams, the policemendawdling two by two, and the table-lined terraces of the Café Vacehettwere nothing to him, as yet, nor did he even know, when he stepped fromthe stones of the Place St. Michel to the asphalt of the Boulevard, thathe had crossed the frontier and entered the student zone,—the famousLatin Quarter.

A cabman hailed him as "bourgeois," and urged the superiority of drivingover walking. A gamin, with an appearance of great concern, requestedthe latest telegraphic news from London, and then, standing on his head,invited Selby to feats of strength. A pretty girl gave him a glance froma pair of violet eyes. He did not see her, but she, catching her ownreflection in a window, wondered at the colour burning in her cheeks.Turning to resume her course, she met Foxhall Clifford, and hurried on.Clifford, open-mouthed, followed her with his eyes; then he looked afterSelby, who had turned into the Boulevard St. Germain toward the rue deSeine. Then he examined himself in the shop window. The result seemed tobe unsatisfactory.

"I'm not a beauty," he mused, "but neither am I a hobgoblin. What doesshe mean by blushing at Selby? I never before saw her look at a fellowin my life,—neither has any one in the Quarter. Anyway, I can swear shenever looks at me, and goodness knows I have done all that respectfuladoration can do."

He sighed, and murmuring a prophecy concerning the salvation of hisimmortal soul swung into that graceful lounge which at all timescharacterized Clifford. With no apparent exertion, he overtook Selby atthe corner, and together they crossed the sunlit Boulevard and sat downunder the awning of the Café du Cercle. Clifford bowed to everybody onthe terrace, saying, "You shall meet them all later, but now let mepresent you to two of the sights of Paris, Mr. Richard Elliott and Mr.Stanley Rowden."

The "sights" looked amiable, and took vermouth.

"You cut the studio to-day," said Elliott, suddenly turning on Clifford,who avoided his eyes.

"To commune with nature?" observed Rowden.

"What's her name this time?" asked Elliott, and Rowden answeredpromptly, "Name, Yvette; nationality, Breton—"

"Wrong," replied Clifford blandly, "it's Rue Barrée."

The subject changed instantly, and Selby listened in surprise to nameswhich were new to him, and eulogies on the latest Prix de Rome winner.He was delighted to hear opinions boldly expressed and points honestlydebated, although the vehicle was mostly slang, both English and French.He longed for the time when he too should be plunged into the strife forfame.

The bells of St. Sulpice struck the hour, and the Palace of theLuxembourg answered chime on chime. With a glance at the sun, dippinglow in the golden dust behind the Palais Bourbon, they rose, and turningto the east, crossed the Boulevard St. Germain and sauntered toward theÉcole de Médecine. At the corner a girl passed them, walking hurriedly.Clifford smirked, Elliott and Rowden were agitated, but they all bowed,and, without raising her eyes, she returned their salute. But Selby, whohad lagged behind, fascinated by some gay shop window, looked up to meettwo of the bluest eyes he had ever seen. The eyes were dropped in aninstant, and the young fellow hastened to overtake the others.

"By Jove," he said, "do you fellows know I have just seen the prettiestgirl—" An exclamation broke from the trio, gloomy, foreboding, like thechorus in a Greek play.

"Rue Barrée!"

"What!" cried Selby, bewildered.

The only answer was a vague gesture from Clifford.

Two hours later, during dinner, Clifford turned to Selby and said, "Youwant to ask me something; I can tell by the way you fidget about."

"Yes, I do," he said, innocently enough; "it's about that girl. Who isshe?"

In Rowden's smile there was pity, in Elliott's bitterness.

"Her name," said Clifford solemnly, "is unknown to any one, at least,"he added with much conscientiousness, "as far as I can learn. Everyfellow in the Quarter bows to her and she returns the salute gravely,but no man has ever been known to obtain more than that. Her profession,judging from her music-roll, is that of a pianist. Her residence is in asmall and humble street which is kept in a perpetual process of repairby the city authorities, and from the black letters painted on thebarrier which defends the street from traffic, she has taken the name bywhich we know her,—Rue Barrée. Mr. Rowden, in his imperfect knowledgeof the French tongue, called our attention to it as Roo Barry—"

"I didn't," said Rowden hotly.

"And Roo Barry, or Rue Barrée, is to-day an object of adoration to everyrapin in the Quarter—"

"We are not rapins," corrected Elliott.

"I am not," returned Clifford, "and I beg to call to your attention,Selby, that these two gentlemen have at various and apparentlyunfortunate moments, offered to lay down life and limb at the feet ofRue Barrée. The lady possesses a chilling smile which she uses on suchoccasions and," here he became gloomily impressive, "I have been forcedto believe that neither the scholarly grace of my friend Elliott nor thebuxom beauty of my friend Rowden have touched that heart of ice."

Elliott and Rowden, boiling with indignation, cried out, "And you!"

"I," said Clifford blandly, "do fear to tread where you rush in."

II

Twenty-four hours later Selby had completely forgotten Rue Barrée.During the week he worked with might and main at the studio, andSaturday night found him so tired that he went to bed before dinner andhad a nightmare about a river of yellow ochre in which he was drowning.Sunday morning, apropos of nothing at all, he thought of Rue Barrée, andten seconds afterwards he saw her. It was at the flower-market on themarble bridge. She was examining a pot of pansies. The gardener hadevidently thrown heart and soul into the transaction, but Rue Barréeshook her head.

It is a question whether Selby would have stopped then and there toinspect a cabbage-rose had not Clifford unwound for him the yarn of theprevious Tuesday. It is possible that his curiosity was piqued, for withthe exception of a hen-turkey, a boy of nineteen is the most openlycurious biped alive. From twenty until death he tries to conceal it.But, to be fair to Selby, it is also true that the market wasattractive. Under a cloudless sky the flowers were packed and heapedalong the marble bridge to the parapet. The air was soft, the sun spun ashadowy lacework among the palms and glowed in the hearts of a thousandroses. Spring had come,—was in full tide. The watering carts andsprinklers spread freshness over the Boulevard, the sparrows had becomevulgarly obtrusive, and the credulous Seine angler anxiously followedhis gaudy quill floating among the soapsuds of the lavoirs. Thewhite-spiked chestnuts clad in tender green vibrated with the hum ofbees. Shoddy butterflies flaunted their winter rags among theheliotrope. There was a smell of fresh earth in the air, an echo of thewoodland brook in the ripple of the Seine, and swallows soared andskimmed among the anchored river craft. Somewhere in a window a cagedbird was singing its heart out to the sky.

Selby looked at the cabbage-rose and then at the sky. Something in thesong of the caged bird may have moved him, or perhaps it was thatdangerous sweetness in the air of May.

At first he was hardly conscious that he had stopped, then he wasscarcely conscious why he had stopped, then he thought he would move on,then he thought he wouldn't, then he looked at Rue Barrée.

The gardener said, "Mademoiselle, this is undoubtedly a fine pot ofpansies."

Rue Barrée shook her head.

The gardener smiled. She evidently did not want the pansies. She hadbought many pots of pansies there, two or three every spring, and neverargued. What did she want then? The pansies were evidently a feelertoward a more important transaction. The gardener rubbed his hands andgazed about him.

"These tulips are magnificent," he observed, "and these hyacinths—" Hefell into a trance at the mere sight of the scented thickets.

"That," murmured Rue, pointing to a splendid rose-bush with her furledparasol, but in spite of her, her voice trembled a little. Selby noticedit, more shame to him that he was listening, and the gardener noticedit, and, burying his nose in the roses, scented a bargain. Still, to dohim justice, he did not add a centime to the honest value of the plant,for after all, Rue was probably poor, and any one could see she wascharming.

"Fifty francs, Mademoiselle."

The gardener's tone was grave. Rue felt that argument would be wasted.They both stood silent for a moment. The gardener did not eulogize hisprize,—the rose-tree was gorgeous and any one could see it.

"I will take the pansies," said the girl, and drew two francs from aworn purse. Then she looked up. A tear-drop stood in the way refractingthe light like a diamond, but as it rolled into a little corner by hernose a vision of Selby replaced it, and when a brush of the handkerchiefhad cleared the startled blue eyes, Selby himself appeared, very muchembarrassed. He instantly looked up into the sky, apparently devouredwith a thirst for astronomical research, and as he continued hisinvestigations for fully five minutes, the gardener looked up too, andso did a policeman. Then Selby looked at the tips of his boots, thegardener looked at him and the policeman slouched on. Rue Barrée hadbeen gone some time.

"What," said the gardener, "may I offer Monsieur?"

Selby never knew why, but he suddenly began to buy flowers. The gardenerwas electrified. Never before had he sold so many flowers, never at suchsatisfying prices, and never, never with such absolute unanimity ofopinion with a customer. But he missed the bargaining, the arguing, thecalling of Heaven to witness. The transaction lacked spice.

"These tulips are magnificent!"

"They are!" cried Selby warmly.

"But alas, they are dear."

"I will take them."

"Dieu!" murmured the gardener in a perspiration, "he's madder than mostEnglishmen."

"This cactus—"

"Is gorgeous!"

"Alas—"

"Send it with the rest."

The gardener braced himself against the river wall.

"That splendid rose-bush," he began faintly.

"That is a beauty. I believe it is fifty francs—"

He stopped, very red. The gardener relished his confusion. Then a suddencool self-possession took the place of his momentary confusion and heheld the gardener with his eye, and bullied him.

"I'll take that bush. Why did not the young lady buy it?"

"Mademoiselle is not wealthy."

"How do you know?"

"Dame, I sell her many pansies; pansies are not expensive."

"Those are the pansies she bought?"

"These, Monsieur, the blue and gold."

"Then you intend to send them to her?"

"At mid-day after the market."

"Take this rose-bush with them, and"—here he glared at thegardener—"don't you dare say from whom they came." The gardener's eyeswere like saucers, but Selby, calm and victorious, said: "Send theothers to the Hôtel du Sénat, 7 rue de Tournon. I will leave directionswith the concierge."

Then he buttoned his glove with much dignity and stalked off, but whenwell around the corner and hidden from the gardener's view, theconviction that he was an idiot came home to him in a furious blush. Tenminutes later he sat in his room in the Hôtel du Sénat repeating with animbecile smile: "What an ass I am, what an ass!"

An hour later found him in the same chair, in the same position, his hatand gloves still on, his stick in his hand, but he was silent,apparently lost in contemplation of his boot toes, and his smile wasless imbecile and even a bit retrospective.

III

About five o'clock that afternoon, the little sad-eyed woman who fillsthe position of concierge at the Hôtel du Sénat held up her hands inamazement to see a wagon-load of flower-bearing shrubs draw up beforethe doorway. She called Joseph, the intemperate garçon, who, whilecalculating the value of the flowers in petits verres, gloomilydisclaimed any knowledge as to their destination.

"Voyons," said the little concierge, "cherchons la femme!"

"You?" he suggested.

The little woman stood a moment pensive and then sighed. Joseph caressedhis nose, a nose which for gaudiness could vie with any floral display.

Then the gardener came in, hat in hand, and a few minutes later Selbystood in the middle of his room, his coat off, his shirt-sleeves rolledup. The chamber originally contained, besides the furniture, about twosquare feet of walking room, and now this was occupied by a cactus. Thebed groaned under crates of pansies, lilies and heliotrope, the loungewas covered with hyacinths and tulips, and the washstand supported aspecies of young tree warranted to bear flowers at some time or other.

Clifford came in a little later, fell over a box of sweet peas, swore alittle, apologized, and then, as the full splendour of the floral fêteburst upon him, sat down in astonishment upon a geranium. The geraniumwas a wreck, but Selby said, "Don't mind," and glared at the cactus.

"Are you going to give a ball?" demanded Clifford.

"N—no,—I'm very fond of flowers," said Selby, but the statement lackedenthusiasm.

"I should imagine so." Then, after a silence, "That's a fine cactus."

Selby contemplated the cactus, touched it with the air of a connoisseur,and pricked his thumb.

Clifford poked a pansy with his stick. Then Joseph came in with thebill, announcing the sum total in a loud voice, partly to impressClifford, partly to intimidate Selby into disgorging a pourboire whichhe would share, if he chose, with the gardener. Clifford tried topretend that he had not heard, while Selby paid bill and tribute withouta murmur. Then he lounged back into the room with an attempt atindifference which failed entirely when he tore his trousers on thecactus.

Clifford made some commonplace remark, lighted a cigarette and lookedout of the window to give Selby a chance. Selby tried to take it, butgetting as far as—"Yes, spring is here at last," froze solid. He lookedat the back of Clifford's head. It expressed volumes. Those littleperked-up ears seemed tingling with suppressed glee. He made a desperateeffort to master the situation, and jumped up to reach for some Russiancigarettes as an incentive to conversation, but was foiled by thecactus, to whom again he fell a prey. The last straw was added.

"Damn the cactus." This observation was wrung from Selby against hiswill,—against his own instinct of self-preservation, but the thorns onthe cactus were long and sharp, and at their repeated prick his pent-upwrath escaped. It was too late now; it was done, and Clifford hadwheeled around.

"See here, Selby, why the deuce did you buy those flowers?"

"I'm fond of them," said Selby.

"What are you going to do with them? You can't sleep here."

"I could, if you'd help me take the pansies off the bed."

"Where can you put them?"

"Couldn't I give them to the concierge?"

As soon as he said it he regretted it. What in Heaven's name wouldClifford think of him! He had heard the amount of the bill. Would hebelieve that he had invested in these luxuries as a timid declaration tohis concierge? And would the Latin Quarter comment upon it in their ownbrutal fashion? He dreaded ridicule and he knew Clifford's reputation.

Then somebody knocked.

Selby looked at Clifford with a hunted expression which touched thatyoung man's heart. It was a confession and at the same time asupplication. Clifford jumped up, threaded his way through the florallabyrinth, and putting an eye to the crack of the door, said, "Who thedevil is it?"

This graceful style of reception is indigenous to the Quarter.

"It's Elliott," he said, looking back, "and Rowden too, and theirbulldogs." Then he addressed them through the crack.

"Sit down on the stairs; Selby and I are coming out directly."

Discretion is a virtue. The Latin Quarter possesses few, and discretionseldom figures on the list. They sat down and began to whistle.

Presently Rowden called out, "I smell flowers. They feast within!"

"You ought to know Selby better than that," growled Clifford behind thedoor, while the other hurriedly exchanged his torn trousers for others.

"We know Selby," said Elliott with emphasis.

"Yes," said Rowden, "he gives receptions with floral decorations andinvites Clifford, while we sit on the stairs."

"Yes, while the youth and beauty of the Quarter revel," suggestedRowden; then, with sudden misgiving; "Is Odette there?"

"See here," demanded Elliott, "is Colette there?"

Then he raised his voice in a plaintive howl, "Are you there, Colette,while I'm kicking my heels on these tiles?"

"Clifford is capable of anything," said Rowden; "his nature is souredsince Rue Barrée sat on him."

Elliott raised his voice: "I say, you fellows, we saw some flowerscarried into Rue Barrée's house at noon."

"Posies and roses," specified Rowden.

"Probably for her," added Elliott, caressing his bulldog.

Clifford turned with sudden suspicion upon Selby. The latter hummed atune, selected a pair of gloves and, choosing a dozen cigarettes, placedthem in a case. Then walking over to the cactus, he deliberatelydetached a blossom, drew it through his buttonhole, and picking up hatand stick, smiled upon Clifford, at which the latter was mightilytroubled.

IV

Monday morning at Julian's, students fought for places; students withprior claims drove away others who had been anxiously squatting oncoveted tabourets since the door was opened in hopes of appropriatingthem at roll-call; students squabbled over palettes, brushes,portfolios, or rent the air with demands for Ciceri and bread. Theformer, a dirty ex-model, who had in palmier days posed as Judas, nowdispensed stale bread at one sou and made enough to keep himself incigarettes. Monsieur Julian walked in, smiled a fatherly smile andwalked out. His disappearance was followed by the apparition of theclerk, a foxy creature who flitted through the battling hordes in searchof prey.

Three men who had not paid dues were caught and summoned. A fourth wasscented, followed, outflanked, his retreat towards the door cut off, andfinally captured behind the stove. About that time, the revolutionassuming an acute form, howls rose for "Jules!"

Jules came, umpired two fights with a sad resignation in his big browneyes, shook hands with everybody and melted away in the throng, leavingan atmosphere of peace and good-will. The lions sat down with the lambs,the massiers marked the best places for themselves and friends, and,mounting the model stands, opened the roll-calls.

The word was passed, "They begin with C this week."

They did.

"Clisson!"

Clisson jumped like a flash and marked his name on the floor in chalkbefore a front seat.

"Caron!"

Caron galloped away to secure his place. Bang! went an easel. "Nom deDieu!" in French,—"Where in h—l are you goin'!" in English. Crash! apaintbox fell with brushes and all on board. "Dieu de Dieu de—" spat!A blow, a short rush, a clinch and scuffle, and the voice of themassier, stern and reproachful:

"Cochon!"

Then the roll-call was resumed.

"Clifford!"

The massier paused and looked up, one finger between the leaves of theledger.

"Clifford!"

Clifford was not there. He was about three miles away in a direct lineand every instant increased the distance. Not that he was walkingfast,—on the contrary, he was strolling with that leisurely gaitpeculiar to himself. Elliott was beside him and two bulldogs covered therear. Elliott was reading the "Gil Blas," from which he seemed toextract amusement, but deeming boisterous mirth unsuitable to Clifford'sstate of mind, subdued his amusement to a series of discreet smiles. Thelatter, moodily aware of this, said nothing, but leading the way intothe Luxembourg Gardens installed himself upon a bench by the northernterrace and surveyed the landscape with disfavour. Elliott, according tothe Luxembourg regulations, tied the two dogs and then, with aninterrogative glance toward his friend, resumed the "Gil Blas" and thediscreet smiles.

The day was perfect. The sun hung over Notre Dame, setting the city in aglitter. The tender foliage of the chestnuts cast a shadow over theterrace and flecked the paths and walks with tracery so blue thatClifford might here have found encouragement for his violent"impressions" had he but looked; but as usual in this period of hiscareer, his thoughts were anywhere except in his profession. Aroundabout, the sparrows quarrelled and chattered their courtship songs, thebig rosy pigeons sailed from tree to tree, the flies whirled in thesunbeams and the flowers exhaled a thousand perfumes which stirredClifford with languorous wistfulness. Under this influence he spoke.

"Elliott, you are a true friend—"

"You make me ill," replied the latter, folding his paper. "It's just asI thought,—you are tagging after some new petticoat again. And," hecontinued wrathfully, "if this is what you've kept me away from Julian'sfor,—if it's to fill me up with the perfections of some little idiot—"

"Not idiot," remonstrated Clifford gently.

"See here," cried Elliott, "have you the nerve to try to tell me thatyou are in love again?"

"Again?"

"Yes, again and again and again and—by George have you?"

"This," observed Clifford sadly, "is serious."

For a moment Elliott would have laid hands on him, then he laughed fromsheer helplessness. "Oh, go on, go on; let's see, there's Clémence andMarie Tellec and Cosette and Fifine, Colette, Marie Verdier—"

"All of whom are charming, most charming, but I never was serious—"

"So help me, Moses," said Elliott, solemnly, "each and every one ofthose named have separately and in turn torn your heart with anguish andhave also made me lose my place at Julian's in this same manner; eachand every one, separately and in turn. Do you deny it?"

"What you say may be founded on facts—in a way—but give me the creditof being faithful to one at a time—"

"Until the next came along."

"But this,—this is really very different. Elliott, believe me, I am allbroken up."

Then there being nothing else to do, Elliott gnashed his teeth andlistened.

"It's—it's Rue Barrée."

"Well," observed Elliott, with scorn, "if you are moping and moaningover that girl,—the girl who has given you and myself every reason towish that the ground would open and engulf us,—well, go on!"

"I'm going on,—I don't care; timidity has fled—"

"Yes, your native timidity."

"I'm desperate, Elliott. Am I in love? Never, never did I feel so d—nmiserable. I can't sleep; honestly, I'm incapable of eating properly."

"Same symptoms noticed in the case of Colette."

"Listen, will you?"

"Hold on a moment, I know the rest by heart. Now let me ask yousomething. Is it your belief that Rue Barrée is a pure girl?"

"Yes," said Clifford, turning red.

"Do you love her,—not as you dangle and tiptoe after every prettyinanity—I mean, do you honestly love her?"

"Yes," said the other doggedly, "I would—"

"Hold on a moment; would you marry her?"

Clifford turned scarlet. "Yes," he muttered.

"Pleasant news for your family," growled Elliott in suppressed fury."'Dear father, I have just married a charming grisette whom I'm sureyou'll welcome with open arms, in company with her mother, a mostestimable and cleanly washlady.' Good heavens! This seems to have gone alittle further than the rest. Thank your stars, young man, that my headis level enough for us both. Still, in this case, I have no fear. RueBarrée sat on your aspirations in a manner unmistakably final."

"Rue Barrée," began Clifford, drawing himself up, but he suddenlyceased, for there where the dappled sunlight glowed in spots of gold,along the sun-flecked path, tripped Rue Barrée. Her gown was spotless,and her big straw hat, tipped a little from the white forehead, threw ashadow across her eyes.

Elliott stood up and bowed. Clifford removed his head-covering with anair so plaintive, so appealing, so utterly humble that Rue Barréesmiled.

The smile was delicious and when Clifford, incapable of sustaininghimself on his legs from sheer astonishment, toppled slightly, shesmiled again in spite of herself. A few moments later she took a chairon the terrace and drawing a book from her music-roll, turned the pages,found the place, and then placing it open downwards in her lap, sighed alittle, smiled a little, and looked out over the city. She had entirelyforgotten Foxhall Clifford.

After a while she took up her book again, but instead of reading beganto adjust a rose in her corsage. The rose was big and red. It glowedlike fire there over her heart, and like fire it warmed her heart, nowfluttering under the silken petals. Rue Barrée sighed again. She wasvery happy. The sky was so blue, the air so soft and perfumed, thesunshine so caressing, and her heart sang within her, sang to the rosein her breast. This is what it sang: "Out of the throng of passers-by,out of the world of yesterday, out of the millions passing, one hasturned aside to me."

So her heart sang under his rose on her breast. Then two bigmouse-coloured pigeons came whistling by and alighted on the terrace,where they bowed and strutted and bobbed and turned until Rue Barréelaughed in delight, and looking up beheld Clifford before her. His hatwas in his hand and his face was wreathed in a series of appealingsmiles which would have touched the heart of a Bengal tiger.

For an instant Rue Barrée frowned, then she looked curiously atClifford, then when she saw the resemblance between his bows and thebobbing pigeons, in spite of herself, her lips parted in the mostbewitching laugh. Was this Rue Barrée? So changed, so changed that shedid not know herself; but oh! that song in her heart which drowned allelse, which trembled on her lips, struggling for utterance, whichrippled forth in a laugh at nothing,—at a strutting pigeon,—and Mr.Clifford.

"And you think, because I return the salute of the students in theQuarter, that you may be received in particular as a friend? I do notknow you, Monsieur, but vanity is man's other name;—be content,Monsieur Vanity, I shall be punctilious—oh, most punctilious inreturning your salute."

"But I beg—I implore you to let me render you that homage which has solong—"

"Oh dear; I don't care for homage."

"Let me only be permitted to speak to you now andthen,—occasionally—very occasionally."

"And if you, why not another?"

"Not at all,—I will be discretion itself."

"Discretion—why?"

Her eyes were very clear, and Clifford winced for a moment, but only fora moment. Then the devil of recklessness seizing him, he sat down andoffered himself, soul and body, goods and chattels. And all the time heknew he was a fool and that infatuation is not love, and that each wordhe uttered bound him in honour from which there was no escape. And allthe time Elliott was scowling down on the fountain plaza and savagelychecking both bulldogs from their desire to rush to Clifford'srescue,—for even they felt there was something wrong, as Elliottstormed within himself and growled maledictions.

When Clifford finished, he finished in a glow of excitement, but RueBarrée's response was long in coming and his ardour cooled while thesituation slowly assumed its just proportions. Then regret began tocreep in, but he put that aside and broke out again in protestations. Atthe first word Rue Barrée checked him.

"I thank you," she said, speaking very gravely. "No man has ever beforeoffered me marriage." She turned and looked out over the city. After awhile she spoke again. "You offer me a great deal. I am alone, I havenothing, I am nothing." She turned again and looked at Paris, brilliant,fair, in the sunshine of a perfect day. He followed her eyes.

"Oh," she murmured, "it is hard,—hard to work always—always alone withnever a friend you can have in honour, and the love that is offeredmeans the streets, the boulevard—when passion is dead. I know it,—weknow it,—we others who have nothing,—have no one, and who giveourselves, unquestioning—when we love,—yes, unquestioning—heart andsoul, knowing the end."

She touched the rose at her breast. For a moment she seemed to forgethim, then quietly—"I thank you, I am very grateful." She opened thebook and, plucking a petal from the rose, dropped it between the leaves.Then looking up she said gently, "I cannot accept."

V

It took Clifford a month to entirely recover, although at the end of thefirst week he was pronounced convalescent by Elliott, who was anauthority, and his convalescence was aided by the cordiality with whichRue Barrée acknowledged his solemn salutes. Forty times a day he blessedRue Barrée for her refusal, and thanked his lucky stars, and at the sametime, oh, wondrous heart of ours!—he suffered the tortures of theblighted.

Elliott was annoyed, partly by Clifford's reticence, partly by theunexplainable thaw in the frigidity of Rue Barrée. At their frequentencounters, when she, tripping along the rue de Seine, with music-rolland big straw hat would pass Clifford and his familiars steering aneasterly course to the Café Vachette, and at the respectful uncoveringof the band would colour and smile at Clifford, Elliott's slumberingsuspicions awoke. But he never found out anything, and finally gave itup as beyond his comprehension, merely qualifying Clifford as an idiotand reserving his opinion of Rue Barrée. And all this time Selby wasjealous. At first he refused to acknowledge it to himself, and cut thestudio for a day in the country, but the woods and fields of courseaggravated his case, and the brooks babbled of Rue Barrée and the mowerscalling to each other across the meadow ended in a quavering "RueBar-rée-e!" That day spent in the country made him angry for a week, andhe worked sulkily at Julian's, all the time tormented by a desire toknow where Clifford was and what he might be doing. This culminated inan erratic stroll on Sunday which ended at the flower-market on the Pontau Change, began again, was gloomily extended to the morgue, and againended at the marble bridge. It would never do, and Selby felt it, so hewent to see Clifford, who was convalescing on mint juleps in his garden.

They sat down together and discussed morals and human happiness, andeach found the other most entertaining, only Selby failed to pumpClifford, to the other's unfeigned amusement. But the juleps spread balmon the sting of jealousy, and trickled hope to the blighted, and whenSelby said he must go, Clifford went too, and when Selby, not to beoutdone, insisted on accompanying Clifford back to his door, Clifforddetermined to see Selby back half way, and then finding it hard to part,they decided to dine together and "flit." To flit, a verb applied toClifford's nocturnal prowls, expressed, perhaps, as well as anything,the gaiety proposed. Dinner was ordered at Mignon's, and while Selbyinterviewed the chef, Clifford kept a fatherly eye on the butler. Thedinner was a success, or was of the sort generally termed a success.Toward the dessert Selby heard some one say as at a great distance, "KidSelby, drunk as a lord."

A group of men passed near them; it seemed to him that he shook handsand laughed a great deal, and that everybody was very witty. There wasClifford opposite swearing undying confidence in his chum Selby, andthere seemed to be others there, either seated beside them orcontinually passing with the swish of skirts on the polished floor. Theperfume of roses, the rustle of fans, the touch of rounded arms and thelaughter grew vaguer and vaguer. The room seemed enveloped in mist.Then, all in a moment each object stood out painfully distinct, onlyforms and visages were distorted and voices piercing. He drew himselfup, calm, grave, for the moment master of himself, but very drunk. Heknew he was drunk, and was as guarded and alert, as keenly suspicious ofhimself as he would have been of a thief at his elbow. His self-commandenabled Clifford to hold his head safely under some running water, andrepair to the street considerably the worse for wear, but neversuspecting that his companion was drunk. For a time he kept hisself-command. His face was only a bit paler, a bit tighter than usual;he was only a trifle slower and more fastidious in his speech. It wasmidnight when he left Clifford peacefully slumbering in somebody'sarm-chair, with a long suede glove dangling in his hand and a plumy boatwisted about his neck to protect his throat from drafts. He walkedthrough the hall and down the stairs, and found himself on the sidewalkin a quarter he did not know. Mechanically he looked up at the name ofthe street. The name was not familiar. He turned and steered his coursetoward some lights clustered at the end of the street. They provedfarther away than he had anticipated, and after a long quest he came tothe conclusion that his eyes had been mysteriously removed from theirproper places and had been reset on either side of his head like thoseof a bird. It grieved him to think of the inconvenience thistransformation might occasion him, and he attempted to cock up his head,hen-like, to test the mobility of his neck. Then an immense despairstole over him,—tears gathered in the tear-ducts, his heart melted, andhe collided with a tree. This shocked him into comprehension; he stifledthe violent tenderness in his breast, picked up his hat and moved onmore briskly. His mouth was white and drawn, his teeth tightly clinched.He held his course pretty well and strayed but little, and after anapparently interminable length of time found himself passing a line ofcabs. The brilliant lamps, red, yellow, and green annoyed him, and hefelt it might be pleasant to demolish them with his cane, but masteringthis impulse he passed on. Later an idea struck him that it would savefatigue to take a cab, and he started back with that intention, but thecabs seemed already so far away and the lanterns were so bright andconfusing that he gave it up, and pulling himself together lookedaround.

A shadow, a mass, huge, undefined, rose to his right. He recognized theArc de Triomphe and gravely shook his cane at it. Its size annoyed him.He felt it was too big. Then he heard something fall clattering to thepavement and thought probably it was his cane but it didn't much matter.When he had mastered himself and regained control of his right leg,which betrayed symptoms of insubordination, he found himself traversingthe Place de la Concorde at a pace which threatened to land him at theMadeleine. This would never do. He turned sharply to the right andcrossing the bridge passed the Palais Bourbon at a trot and wheeled intothe Boulevard St. Germain. He got on well enough although the size ofthe War Office struck him as a personal insult, and he missed his cane,which it would have been pleasant to drag along the iron railings as hepassed. It occurred to him, however, to substitute his hat, but when hefound it he forgot what he wanted it for and replaced it upon his headwith gravity. Then he was obliged to battle with a violent inclinationto sit down and weep. This lasted until he came to the rue de Rennes,but there he became absorbed in contemplating the dragon on the balconyoverhanging the Cour du Dragon, and time slipped away until heremembered vaguely that he had no business there, and marched off again.It was slow work. The inclination to sit down and weep had given placeto a desire for solitary and deep reflection. Here his right leg forgotits obedience and attacking the left, outflanked it and brought him upagainst a wooden board which seemed to bar his path. He tried to walkaround it, but found the street closed. He tried to push it over, andfound he couldn't. Then he noticed a red lantern standing on a pile ofpaving-stones inside the barrier. This was pleasant. How was he to gethome if the boulevard was blocked? But he was not on the boulevard. Histreacherous right leg had beguiled him into a detour, for there, behindhim lay the boulevard with its endless line of lamps,—and here, whatwas this narrow dilapidated street piled up with earth and mortar andheaps of stone? He looked up. Written in staring black letters on thebarrier was

RUE BARRÉE.

He sat down. Two policemen whom he knew came by and advised him to getup, but he argued the question from a standpoint of personal taste, andthey passed on, laughing. For he was at that moment absorbed in aproblem. It was, how to see Rue Barrée. She was somewhere or other inthat big house with the iron balconies, and the door was locked, butwhat of that? The simple idea struck him to shout until she came. Thisidea was replaced by another equally lucid,—to hammer on the door untilshe came; but finally rejecting both of these as too uncertain, hedecided to climb into the balcony, and opening a window politely inquirefor Rue Barrée. There was but one lighted window in the house that hecould see. It was on the second floor, and toward this he cast his eyes.Then mounting the wooden barrier and clambering over the piles ofstones, he reached the sidewalk and looked up at the façade for afoothold. It seemed impossible. But a sudden fury seized him, a blind,drunken obstinacy, and the blood rushed to his head, leaping, beating inhis ears like the dull thunder of an ocean. He set his teeth, andspringing at a window-sill, dragged himself up and hung to the ironbars. Then reason fled; there surged in his brain the sound of manyvoices, his heart leaped up beating a mad tattoo, and gripping atcornice and ledge he worked his way along the façade, clung to pipes andshutters, and dragged himself up, over and into the balcony by thelighted window. His hat fell off and rolled against the pane. For amoment he leaned breathless against the railing—then the window wasslowly opened from within.

They stared at each other for some time. Presently the girl took twounsteady steps back into the room. He saw her face,—all crimsonednow,—he saw her sink into a chair by the lamplit table, and without aword he followed her into the room, closing the big door-like panesbehind him. Then they looked at each other in silence.

The room was small and white; everything was white about it,—thecurtained bed, the little wash-stand in the corner, the bare walls, thechina lamp,—and his own face,—had he known it, but the face and neckof Rue were surging in the colour that dyed the blossoming rose-treethere on the hearth beside her. It did not occur to him to speak. Sheseemed not to expect it. His mind was struggling with the impressions ofthe room. The whiteness, the extreme purity of everything occupiedhim—began to trouble him. As his eye became accustomed to the light,other objects grew from the surroundings and took their places in thecircle of lamplight. There was a piano and a coal-scuttle and a littleiron trunk and a bath-tub. Then there was a row of wooden pegs againstthe door, with a white chintz curtain covering the clothes underneath.On the bed lay an umbrella and a big straw hat, and on the table, amusic-roll unfurled, an ink-stand, and sheets of ruled paper. Behind himstood a wardrobe faced with a mirror, but somehow he did not care to seehis own face just then. He was sobering.

The girl sat looking at him without a word. Her face was expressionless,yet the lips at times trembled almost imperceptibly. Her eyes, sowonderfully blue in the daylight, seemed dark and soft as velvet, andthe colour on her neck deepened and whitened with every breath. Sheseemed smaller and more slender than when he had seen her in the street,and there was now something in the curve of her cheek almost infantine.When at last he turned and caught his own reflection in the mirrorbehind him, a shock passed through him as though he had seen a shamefulthing, and his clouded mind and his clouded thoughts grew clearer. For amoment their eyes met then his sought the floor, his lips tightened, andthe struggle within him bowed his head and strained every nerve to thebreaking. And now it was over, for the voice within had spoken. Helistened, dully interested but already knowing the end,—indeed itlittle mattered;—the end would always be the same for him;—heunderstood now—always the same for him, and he listened, dullyinterested, to a voice which grew within him. After a while he stood up,and she rose at once, one small hand resting on the table. Presently heopened the window, picked up his hat, and shut it again. Then he wentover to the rose-bush and touched the blossoms with his face. One wasstanding in a glass of water on the table and mechanically the girl drewit out, pressed it with her lips and laid it on the table beside him. Hetook it without a word and crossing the room, opened the door. Thelanding was dark and silent, but the girl lifted the lamp and glidingpast him slipped down the polished stairs to the hallway. Thenunchaining the bolts, she drew open the iron wicket.

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Through this he passed with his rose.

THE END

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FAQs

What is the point of The King in Yellow? ›

According to the lore of the interconnected stories, The King in Yellow is a cursed text that lures readers in with a fairly normal first act … and then drives them insane with Act II. Perhaps the best story in the collection is the first one, The Repairer of Reputations.

How long is The King in Yellow? ›

The King in Yellow
Cover of an 1895 edition
AuthorRobert W. Chambers
Publication date1895
Media typePrint
Pages316
8 more rows

Is The King in Yellow public domain? ›

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927. The author died in 1933, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less.

Who wrote The King in Yellow play? ›

Robert Chambers' The King in Yellow, the original version, consisted of 10 short stories, all tied together by a play of the same name which exists in all of these stories.

Who is Cassilda in The King in Yellow? ›

Cassilda is one of the key characters from The King In Yellow, who is quoted by Robert W. Chambers in the original collection of stories. She is one of only three characters known for certain to be in the play. Appears in Act 1, Scene 2 of the play.

Is the king in yellow hard to read? ›

Or even at all. The fact that The King in Yellow is a book of short stories, however, serves to break up the flow of things in a way that is challenging. And for challenging, read – at times – confusing.

Is the baby in yellow based on the King in Yellow? ›

Heavily implied to be the King of Yellow, Hastur, that took form of the baby or possessed it, the Baby in Yellow has a penchant to trap his babysitters on his dimension known as Carcosa after babysitting him and attempts to do the same with the current babysitter that tries to babysit him.

Where does the King in Yellow live? ›

Hastur is the name of a city in the Robert W. Chambers short stories "The Yellow Sign" and "The Repairer of Reputations" which appeared in his short story collection The King in Yellow.

Is the King in Yellow a Great Old One? ›

Hastur, also known as the King in Yellow, is one of the many Great Old Ones and Cthulhu Mythos deities, acting as one of the most mysterious of Lovecraftian gods.

Is Carcosa real? ›

Carcosa is a fictional city in Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" (1886). The ancient and mysterious city is barely described and is viewed only in hindsight (after its destruction) by a character who once lived there.

Who is the Yellow King 40k? ›

At the end of Penitent it is revealed that the King In Yellow's name is Constantin Valdor. If this is not some misdirection, it is the first confirmed sighting of him in about 10,000 years.

Is the King in Yellow part of Cthulhu? ›

Lovecraft and other writers such as August Derleth who followed Chambers incorporated Carcosa and the King in Yellow into their storytelling, and it has since become part of the Cthulhu Mythos that the King in Yellow (given the Outer God name of Hastur) is a brother of Cthulhu and a key figure in the Mythos.

Is the baby in yellow a demon? ›

He is the demon form of The Baby, and is the only form that can kill The Babysitter. It has a face complete with a mouth filled sharp teeth, and glowing red eyes. It's body appears to be wrapped in some sort of yellow fabric, and it has a fleshy, yellow webbing sprouting from its back.

How many pages is the king in yellow? ›

"The King In Yellow" by Robert W. Chambers 1895 - First Edition, Later Printing Antique Hardcover Book 7 1/2" x 5 1/2" 316 Pages The hardcover book is in fair condition.

What is in the Necronomicon? ›

In Lovecraft's stories, the Necronomicon is described as an ancient text compiled by Abdul Alhazred (called the “Mad Arab”) in the 8th century, containing magical spells and incantations for summoning monsters and archaic deities.

How many endings does The Baby in Yellow have? ›

"Quickly towards the exit, the little rabbit hopped."

There are multiple endings in The Baby In Yellow. Currently, there are a total of 4 endings, two can be achieved in Normal Mode and two can be achieved in Escape Mode.

Does The Baby in Yellow have parents? ›

The Baby was born to unnamed parents and had a 7 year old sister, Tianna At some point, The Baby in Yellow had become possessed by Cthulu and murdered his older sister Tianna brutally. Later, the parents would let a young girl called Avery Wilson babysit The Baby in Yellow.

Is The Baby in Yellow a true story? ›

The directorial debut film is based on a true story of Gauri Gadgil, a child with special needs, who also plays herself in the film. The film was released on 4 April 2014 to critical acclaim.

Who worships Hastur? ›

Revelations only occur when one ascends to the inner circle, and those who balk inevitably become sacrifices. Hastur is also worshipped by lone lunatics who view humanity as sheep and themselves as murderous shepherds with the right to determine life and death.

Who is Cthulhu's brother? ›

Description. Reputed to be the “brother” of the Great Old One Cthulhu, Kthanid is physically identical to his sibling - a colossal humanoid with stubby bat-wings and sporting a growth of octopoid tentacles from his lower face - in every way but one: his eyes are a deep gold in colour.

What does hastur symbolize? ›

Hastur's earliest depiction was as a god of shepherds. He then came to be intertwined with the King in Yellow and represent ennui and dissolution.

Who is Nodens? ›

*Nodens or *Nodons (reconstructed from the dative Nodenti or Nodonti) is a Celtic healing god worshipped in Ancient Britain.

Who is Yidhra? ›

Yidhra is an Outer God who is worshipped as a beautiful, awesome and terrible earth-mother, similar to Shub-Niggurath and might be connected to the Darkness.

Who was the killer in True Detective? ›

Rust and Marty finally face off with the real killer

His name is Errol Childress, the grandson of Sam Tuttle. He is the man with the scars on his face, the tall man, and the green-eared spaghetti monster all in one.

Why is time a flat circle? ›

Cohle says: "Time is a flat circle". This is Friedrich Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence, as depicted in The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Cohle expresses this idea in a pessimistic mood and it is meant to magnify the absurdity of life by declaring its endless repetition.

What religion is Cthulhu part of? ›

Cthulhu represents what is to be found in the pages of The Bible of Cthulhu. The self-proclaimed puritans of this belief system believe that Cthulhu descended from the stars literally and slumbers in His house in R'lyeh, communicating His will to H.P Lovecraft through dream.

Is Constantin Valdor back? ›

The Identity of the King in Yellow has been confirmed. So Constantin Valdor is back. Apparently, he was working in the shadows all this time and has amassed an army of Blank clones, legions of "good" Daemons and possibly a Host of Custodes.

Is valdor a primarch? ›

A warrior of superlative skill, it was said that Valdor could match even a Primarch in single combat. Indeed, such was his might, that there were those, even in the Imperial Court, who called him a "Primarch" in all but name.

What happens to Eisenhorn? ›

Following leads from the Eyeclone investigation, Eisenhorn became tangled up with a heretical cabal on the world of Gudrun, and in fact was briefly captured and tortured by one of its members, Gorgone Locke. The cabal was eventually broken by a full Inquisitorial purge led by Inquisitor Voke.

What does Carcosa look like? ›

Carcosa is often desribed to have: Black stars on a bright sky. Twin black stars. The Lake of Hali.

Is True Detective Lovecraftian? ›

The first season of True Detective is a work of Lovecraftian fiction. It's a weird, pulpy tale of unspeakable horror and two detectives that are caught up in the middle of it. Much of the fascination with season one centered around Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey.

How do I get hastur in Persona 5 Royal? ›

Persona 5 Royal

Hastur is the eighth Persona of the Star Arcana, and can either be found within Maruki's Palace or otherwise available to be fused after 1/12. As a Shadow, it is known as "Warped Abyss".

Is the King in Yellow a Great Old One? ›

Hastur, also known as the King in Yellow, is one of the many Great Old Ones and Cthulhu Mythos deities, acting as one of the most mysterious of Lovecraftian gods.

Is the baby in yellow a reference to the King in Yellow? ›

Heavily implied to be the King of Yellow, Hastur, that took form of the baby or possessed it, the Baby in Yellow has a penchant to trap his babysitters on his dimension known as Carcosa after babysitting him and attempts to do the same with the current babysitter that tries to babysit him.

Is the King in Yellow part of Cthulhu? ›

Lovecraft and other writers such as August Derleth who followed Chambers incorporated Carcosa and the King in Yellow into their storytelling, and it has since become part of the Cthulhu Mythos that the King in Yellow (given the Outer God name of Hastur) is a brother of Cthulhu and a key figure in the Mythos.

Who is the King in Yellow 40k? ›

At the end of Penitent it is revealed that the King In Yellow's name is Constantin Valdor. If this is not some misdirection, it is the first confirmed sighting of him in about 10,000 years.

Is hastur the devil? ›

The short story "Gramma" by Stephen King features a demonic entity named Hastur, who also appeared in the 18th episode of the 1985 "Twilight Zone" adaptation and the 2014 film adaptation, Mercy.

What does hastur symbolize? ›

Hastur's earliest depiction was as a god of shepherds. He then came to be intertwined with the King in Yellow and represent ennui and dissolution.

Who worships hastur? ›

Revelations only occur when one ascends to the inner circle, and those who balk inevitably become sacrifices. Hastur is also worshipped by lone lunatics who view humanity as sheep and themselves as murderous shepherds with the right to determine life and death.

Is The Baby in Yellow a true story? ›

The directorial debut film is based on a true story of Gauri Gadgil, a child with special needs, who also plays herself in the film. The film was released on 4 April 2014 to critical acclaim.

How many endings does The Baby in Yellow have? ›

"Quickly towards the exit, the little rabbit hopped."

There are multiple endings in The Baby In Yellow. Currently, there are a total of 4 endings, two can be achieved in Normal Mode and two can be achieved in Escape Mode.

Does The Baby in Yellow have parents? ›

The Baby was born to unnamed parents and had a 7 year old sister, Tianna At some point, The Baby in Yellow had become possessed by Cthulu and murdered his older sister Tianna brutally. Later, the parents would let a young girl called Avery Wilson babysit The Baby in Yellow.

Who is Cthulhu's brother? ›

Description. Reputed to be the “brother” of the Great Old One Cthulhu, Kthanid is physically identical to his sibling - a colossal humanoid with stubby bat-wings and sporting a growth of octopoid tentacles from his lower face - in every way but one: his eyes are a deep gold in colour.

Where does The King in Yellow live? ›

Hastur is the name of a city in the Robert W. Chambers short stories "The Yellow Sign" and "The Repairer of Reputations" which appeared in his short story collection The King in Yellow.

Is Carcosa real? ›

Carcosa is a fictional city in Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" (1886). The ancient and mysterious city is barely described and is viewed only in hindsight (after its destruction) by a character who once lived there.

Is Constantin Valdor back? ›

The Identity of the King in Yellow has been confirmed. So Constantin Valdor is back. Apparently, he was working in the shadows all this time and has amassed an army of Blank clones, legions of "good" Daemons and possibly a Host of Custodes.

What happens to Eisenhorn? ›

Following leads from the Eyeclone investigation, Eisenhorn became tangled up with a heretical cabal on the world of Gudrun, and in fact was briefly captured and tortured by one of its members, Gorgone Locke. The cabal was eventually broken by a full Inquisitorial purge led by Inquisitor Voke.

Is valdor a primarch? ›

A warrior of superlative skill, it was said that Valdor could match even a Primarch in single combat. Indeed, such was his might, that there were those, even in the Imperial Court, who called him a "Primarch" in all but name.

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