by Elinor Glyn
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John Derringham smiled.

"I admit that a woman with money may be useful to me by and by," he said, "because, as you know, I am always hard up, and presently when I want to occupy a larger sphere I shall require money for my ends, but for the time being they serve to divert me as a relaxation; that is all."

"You are contracting no ties, dear lad?" asked the Professor with one eyebrow raised, while he shook back his silvery hair. "I had heard vaguely about your attention to Lady Durrend, but I understand she has had many preliminary canters and knows the ropes."

John Derringham smiled. "Vivienne Durrend is a most charming woman," he said. "She has taught me a number of things in the last two years. I am grateful to her. Next season she is bringing a daughter out—and she has a wonderful sense of the fitness of things." Then he sipped his tea and got up and strolled towards the windows.

"Besides," he continued, "I do not admit there are any ties to be contracted. The Greeks understood the place of women; all this nonsense of vows of fidelity and exaltation of sentiment in the home cramps a man's ambitions. It is perfectly natural that he should take a wife if his position calls for it, because the society in which we move has made a figurehead of that kind necessary. But that a woman should expect a man to be faithful to her, be she wife or mistress, is contrary to all nature."

"We have put nature out of the running now for a couple of thousand years," Mr. Carlyon announced sententiously; "we have set up a standard of impossibilities and worship hypocrisy and can no longer see any truth. You have got to reckon with things as they are, not with what nature meant them to be."

"Then you think women are a force now which one must consider?"

"I think they are as deadly as the deep sea—" and Mr. Carlyon's voice was tense. "When they have only bodies they are dangerous enough, but when—as many of the modern ones have—they combine a modicum of mind as well, with all the cunning Satan originally endowed them with—then happy is the man who escapes, even partially whole, from their claws."

"Whew—" whistled John Derringham, "and what if they have souls? Not that I personally admit that such a case exists—what then?"

"When you meet a woman with a soul you will have met your match, John," the Professor said, and opening his Times, which Demetrius had brought in with the second post, he closed the conversation.

John Derringham strolled into the garden. The place had been greatly improved since Halcyone's first discovery of its new occupant. The shutters were all a spruce green and the paths weeded and tidy, while the borders were full of bedded-out plants and flowers. A famous gardener from Upminster renowned through all the West had come over and given his personal attention to the matter, and next year wonderful herbaceous borders would spring up on all sides. Mr. Johnson's visits and his council, though at first resented, had at length grown a source of pure delight to Halcyone; she reveled in the blooms of the delicate begonias and salvias and other blossoms which she had never seen before. Mr. Carlyon, although desiring solitude, appreciated a beautiful and cultivated one, and the orchard house was now becoming a very comfortable bachelor's home.

The day was much cooler than it had been of late. There was a fresh breeze though the sun shone. John Derringham wandered down to the apple tree and thence to the gap, and through it and on into the park. His walk was for pleasure, and aimless as to destination, and presently he sat down under a low-spreading oak and looked at the house—La Sarthe Chase. A beautiful view of it could be obtained from there, and it interested him—and from that his thoughts came to Halcyone and her strange, quaint little personality, and he stretched himself out and putting his hands under his head he looked up into the dense foliage of the tree above him—and there his eyes met two grave, quiet ones peering down from a mass of green, and he saw slender brown legs drawn up on a broad branch, and a scrap of blue cotton frock.

"Good morning," Halcyone said quite composedly, "don't make a noise, please, or rustle—the mother doe is just coming out of the copse with her new fawn."

"How on earth did you get up there?" he asked, surprised.

"I swung myself from the lower branch on the other side; it is quite easy—would you like to come up, too? There is plenty of room—and then we could be sure the doe would not see you and she might peep out again. I do not wish to frighten her."

John Derringham rose leisurely and went to the further side of the oak, where sure enough there was a drooping branch and he was soon up beside her, dangling his long limbs as he sat in a fork.

"What an enchanting bower you have found," he said. "Away from all the world."

"No indeed, that cannot be at this time of the year," she answered. "See, there is a squirrel far up in the top and there are birds, and look—down there at the roots there is a rabbit hole with such a family in it. It is only in the winter you can be alone—and not even then, for you know there are the moles even if you cannot see them."

"Creatures are interesting to watch, aren't they?" he said. "I have an old place which I loved when I was a boy. It is let now because I am too poor to live in it, but I used to like to prowl about in the early mornings long ago."

"We are all very poor," said Halcyone simply, "but I am sorry for you that you have to let strangers be in your house—that must be dreadful."

John Derringham smiled, and his face lost the insouciante arrogance which irritated his enemies so. His smile, rare enough, was singularly sweet.

"I don't think about it," he said. "It is best not to when anything is disagreeable."

"Cheiron and I often tell one another things like that."

"Cheiron—who is Cheiron?" he asked.

This seemed a superfluous question to Halcyone.

"The Professor, of course. He is just like the picture in my 'Heroes,'" she answered, "and I often pretend we are in the cave on Pelion. I thought you would perhaps be like one of the others since you were his pupil, too, but I cannot find which. You are not Heracles—because you have none of those great muscles—or AEneas or Peleus. Are—are you Jason himself, perhaps—" and her voice sounded glad with discovery. "We do not know, he may not have had a Greek face."

John Derringham laughed. "Jason who led the Argonauts to find the Golden Fleece—it is a good omen. Would you help me to find the Golden Fleece if you could?"

"Yes, I would, if you were good and true—but the end of the story was sad because Jason was not."

"How must I be good and true then? I thought Jason was a straight enough sort of a fellow and that it was Medea who brought all the trouble—Medea, the woman."

Halcyone's grave eyes never left his face. She saw the whimsical twinkle in his but heeded it not.

"He should not have had anything to do with Medea—that is where he was wrong," she said, "but having given her his word, he should have kept it."

"Even though she was a witch?" Mr. Derringham asked.

"It was still his word—don't you see? Her being a witch did not alter his word. He did not give it because she was or was not a witch—but because he himself wanted to at the time, I suppose; therefore, it was binding."

"A man should always keep his word, even to a woman, then?" and John Derringham smiled finely.

"Why not to a woman as well as a man?" Halcyone asked surprised. "You do not see the point at all it seems. It is not to whom it is you give your word—it is to you it matters that you keep it, because to break it degrades yourself."

"You reason well, fair nymph," he said gallantly; he was frankly amused. "What may your age be? A thousand years more or less will not make any difference!"

"You may laugh at me if you like," said Halcyone, and she smiled; his gayety was infectious, "but I am not so very young. I shall be thirteen in October, the seventh of October."

John Derringham appeared to be duly impressed with this antiquity, and went on gravely:

"So you and the Master discuss these knotty points of honor and expediency together, do you, as a recreation from the Greek syntax? I should like to hear you."

"The Professor does not believe in men much," Halcyone said. "He says they are all honorable to one another until they are tempted—and that they are never honorable to a woman when another woman comes upon the scene. But I do not know at all about such things, or what it means. For me there is nothing towards other people; it only is towards yourself. You must be honorable to yourself."

And suddenly it seemed to John Derringham as if all the paltry shams of the world fell together like a pack of cards, and as if he saw truth shining naked for the first time at the bottom of the well of the child's pure eyes.

An extraordinary wave of emotion came over him, finely strung as he was, and susceptible to all grades of feeling. He did not speak for a minute; it was as if he had quaffed some elixir. A flame of noble fire seemed to run in his veins, and his voice was changed and full of homage when at last he addressed her.

"Little Goddess of Truth," he said, "I would like to be with you always that you might never let me forget this point of view. And you believe it would have won for Jason in the end—if he had been true to himself? Tell me—I want greatly to know."

"But how could there be any doubt of that?" she asked surprised. "Good only can bring good, and evil, evil."

At this moment, out from the copse the soft head of a doe appeared, and at the thrilling sight Halcyone slipped her hand into her companion's, and held his tight lest he should move or rustle a leaf.

"See," she whispered right in his ear. "She will cross to the other side by the stream—and oh! there is the fawn! Is he not the dearest baby angel you have ever seen—!"

And the doe, feeling herself safe, trotted by, followed by a minute son in pale drab velvet hardly a month old.

The pair in the tree watched them breathlessly until they had entered the copse again beyond the bend, and then Halcyone said:

"That makes six—and perhaps there are more. Oh! how I hope the Long Man will not see them!"

John Derringham did not let go her hand at once; there was something soft and pleasant in the touch of the cool little fingers.

"I want to hear about everything," he said. "Tell me of the Long Man—and the fawns, and why there are only six. I am having the happiest morning I have had for years."

So Halcyone began. She glossed a good deal over the facts she had told Mr. Carlyon upon the subject because she did not feel she knew this stranger well enough to let him into her aunts' private affairs—so she turned the interest to the deer themselves, and they chatted on about all sorts of animals and their ways, and John Derringham was entranced and felt quite aggrieved when she said it was getting late and she must go back to the house for her early dinner. He swung himself down from the tree by the high branch with ease and stood ready to catch her, but with a nimbleness he did not expect, she crept round to the lower side and was landed upon the soft turf before he could reach her.

Then he walked back with her to the broken gate, telling her about his own old home the while, and then they paused to say good-by.

Halcyone carried a twig of freshly sprouting oak which she had brought from the tree, having broken it off in her lightning descent.

"Give me one leaf and you keep the other," he said. "And then, whenever I see it, I will try to remember that I must always be good and true."

With grave earnestness she did as he asked, and then opened the gate.

"I want to tell you," she said—and she looked down for a second, and then up into his eyes from beyond the bars. "I did not like the thought of your coming—and at first I did not like you—but now I see something quite different at the other side of your head—Good-by."

And before he could answer, she was off as the young fawn would have been—a flitting shape among the trees. And John Derringham walked slowly back to the orchard house, musing as he went.

But when he got there a telegram from his Chief had arrived, recalling him instantly to London.

And he did not see Halcyone again for several years.


The seasons came and went with peaceful regularity, unbroken by a jarring note from the outside world. Mr. Anderton, being well assured by the Misses La Sarthe that his stepdaughter was receiving a splendid education, was only too glad to leave her in peace, and Mrs. Anderton felt her duty achieved when at the beginning of each summer and winter she sent a supply of what she considered suitable clothes. It took Priscilla and Hester hours to alter them to Halcyone's slender shape.

Mr. Carlyon was seldom absent from his house during this period, only twice a year, when he spent a fortnight in London in June, and another week in November with his brother, a squire of some note in the Cornish world. Halcyone made green his old age with the exquisite quality of her opening mind. And deep down in her heart there always dwelt the image of John Derringham, and whatever new hero she read about, he unconsciously assumed some of his features or mien. She passed through enthusiasms for all periods, and for quite six months was under the complete spell of the "Morte d'Arthur" and the adventures of the knights contained therein. She read voraciously and systematically, but her first love for all things Greek regained its hold and undoubtedly colored her whole view of life.

Her education was exotic and might have ruined a brain of lesser fiber. But for her it seemed to bring forth all that was clear and fine and polish it with a diamond luster. Twice a week alternately the French and German master from the Applewood Grammar School came to her, and she also learned to read music from the organist at the church, and then played to herself with no technique but much taste.

And of all her masters, Nature and the fearless study of her night moods molded her soul the most.

For the first few months after John Derringham's visit Mr. Carlyon often spoke of him and read aloud bits of his letters, and Halcyone listened with rapt attention, but she never embarked upon the subject herself—and then the Professor had an accident to his knee which kept him a prisoner for months. And somehow the interest of this seemed to dwarf less present things, and as time went on, John Derringham grew to be mentioned only by fits and starts, when his rapidly rising political career called forth cynical grunts of admiration from his old master. There had been a dissolution of Parliament and a short term of office for the other side, and then at the General Election John Derringham's Chief had come in again stronger than ever, and he himself had been made Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It was a tremendous rise for one so young. He was at that time not more than twenty-nine years old—but two years before this happened, when Halcyone was about fifteen, he came again to the orchard house for a short Saturday to Monday visit.

From the moment that she knew he was coming a strange stillness seemed to fall upon the child. She had grown long-legged and was at the fledgling stage when even a pretty girl sometimes looks plain, and she, who had as yet no claim to beauty, was at her worst. She was quite aware of it, with her intense soul-worship of all beautiful things. Some unreasoned impulse made her keep away from her master during the first day, but on the Sunday he summoned her, and, as once before, she came and poured out the tea, but it was a cold and windy autumn afternoon, and it was not laid out of doors. John Derringham had been for a walk, and came in while she sat in a shadowy corner behind the table, teapot in hand.

He was greatly changed, she thought, in the three years. He had grown a beard! and looked considerably older, with his thin commanding figure and arrogant head. He was not handsome now, but peculiarly distinguished-looking. He could very well be Pericles, she decided at once. As for him, he had almost forgotten her. Life had been so full of many things; but, seeing a pale, slender, overgrown girl with mouse-colored clouds of hair now confined in a demure pigtail, it came to his mind that this must be the Professor's pupil again. Had she not been called Hebe or Psyche—or Halcyone—some Greek name? And gradually his former recollection of her came back, and of their morning in the tree.

"Why, how do you do," he said politely, and Halcyone bowed without speaking. She felt much as Hans Andersen's Ugly Duckling used to feel, and when John Derringham had said a few ordinary things about her having grown out of all likeness, he turned to the Professor again, and almost forgot her presence.

His talk was most wonderful to listen to, she thought, his language was so polished, and there was a courtesy added to the former vehemence. They spoke of nothing but politics, which she did not understand, and Cheiron chaffed him a good deal in his kindly cynical way. He was still fighting his chimeras, it seemed, and fighting them successfully. As he spoke, Halcyone, behind the teapot, thrilled with a kind of worship. To be strong and young and manful, and to combat modern dragons, appeared to her to be a god-like task.

In the midst of a heated argument she rose to slip away. Her comings and goings were so natural to the Professor that he was unaware that she was leaving the room until John Derringham broke off in the middle of a sentence, to rise and open the door for her.

"Good-by," she said. "Aunt Roberta is not very well to-day, so I must not be late. Good night, Cheiron"—and she went out and closed the door.

"But it is quite dark!" exclaimed John Derringham. "Is there a servant waiting? She can't go all alone!"

The Professor leaned back in his chair.

"Don't disturb yourself," he said. "Halcyone is accustomed to the twilight. It is a strange night-creature—leave it alone."

John Derringham sat down again.

"She is not nearly so attractive-looking as she used to be. If I remember, she was rather a weirdly pretty child."

"Just a chrysalis now," grunted the professor between [**TR Note: was betwen in original; typesetter's error.] puffs of smoke. "But there is more true philosophy and profound knowledge of truth in that little head than either you or I have got in ours, John."

"You always thought the world of her, Master—you, with your ineradicable contempt for women!"

"She is not a woman—yet. She is an intelligence and a brain—and a soul."

"Oh, she has a soul, then!" and John Derringham smiled. "I remember once you said when I should meet a woman with a soul I should meet my match! I do not feel very alarmed."

One of the Professor's penthouse brows raised itself about half an inch, but he did not speak.

"In which school have you taught her?" John Derringham asked—"you who are so much of a cynic, Master. Does she study the ethics of Aristotle with you here in this Lyceum, or do you reconstruct Plato's Academy? She is no sophist, apparently, since you say she can see the truth."

Mr. Carlyon looked into the fire.

"She is almost an Epicurean, John, in all but the disbelief in the immortality of the soul. She has evolved a theory of her own about that. It partakes of Buddhism. After I have discussed metaphysical propositions with her over which she will argue clearly, she will suddenly cut the whole knot with a lightning flash, and you see the naked truth, and words become meaningless, and discussion a jest."

"All this, at fifteen!" John Derringham laughed antagonistically, and then he suddenly remembered her words to himself upon honor in the tree that summer morning three years ago, and he mused.

Perhaps some heaven-taught beings were allowed to come to earth after all, now and then as the centuries rolled on.

"She knows Greek pretty well?" he asked.

"Fairly, for the time she has learnt. She can read me bits of Lucian. She would stumble over the tragedies. I read them to her." Then he continued, as though it were a subject he loved, "She has a concrete view upon every question; her critical faculty is marvelous. She never lays down the law, but if you ask her, you have your answer in a nutshell, the simplest truth, which it always appears to her so strange that you have not seen all the time."

"What is her parentage? Heredity plays so large a part in these things," Mr. Derringham asked.

"The result of a passionate love-match between distant cousins of that fine old race, I believe. Timothy La Sarthe was at Oxford before your day, but not under me—a brilliant, enchanting fellow, drowned while yachting when my little friend was only a few months old."

"And the mother?"

"Married again to pay his debts, to a worthy stockbroker, almost immediately, I believe. She paid the debt with herself and died after having three children for him in a few years."

"So your protegee lives with those cameos of the Victorian era we dined with, and never sees the outside world?"

"Never—from one year's end to another."

"What a fate!" and John Derringham stretched out his arms. "Ye gods, what a fate!"

And again Cheiron smiled, raising his bushy left brow.

Halcyone, meanwhile, was walking with firm certain steps across the park, where the dusk had fallen. The turbulent Boreas blew in her face, and she stopped and took off her soft cap and unplaited her hair so that it flew out in a cloud as the wind rushed through it. This sensation was a great pleasure to her, and when she came to a rising ground, a kind of knoll where the view of the country was vast and superb, she paused again and took in great deep breaths. She was drawing all the forces of the air into her being and quivered presently with the joy of it.

She could see as only those who are accustomed to the dark can. She was aware of all the outlines of golden bracken at her feet and the head of a buck peeping from the copse near. The sky was a passionate, tempestuous mass of angry clouds scudding over the deep blue, where an evening star could be seen peeping out.

"Bring me your force and strength, that I may grow noble and beautiful, dear wind," she said aloud. "I want to be near him when he comes again," and then she ran and jumped the uneven places, while she hummed a strange song.

And Jeb Hart and Joseph Gubbs, the poachers, saw her, as she passed within a yard of where they lay setting their snares, and Gubbs, who was a good Catholic from Upminster, crossed himself as he muttered in his friend's ear:

"We'll get no swag to-night, Jeb. When she passes, blest if she don't warn the beasts."


When Halcyone was nearly nineteen and had grown into a rare and radiant maiden, the like of whom it would be difficult to find, an event happened which was of the greatest excitement and importance to the neighborhood. Wendover, which had been shut up for twenty years, was reported to have been taken for a term by a very rich widow—or divorcee—from America it was believed, and it was going to be sumptuously done up and would be filled with guests. Mr. Miller took pains to find out every detail from the Long Man at Applewood, and so was full of information at his monthly repast with the old ladies. Mrs. Vincent Cricklander was the new tenant's name. The Long Man had himself taken her over the place when she first came down to look at it, and his report was that she was the most beautiful lady he had ever seen, and with an eye to business that could not be beaten. He held her in vast respect.

Then Mr. Miller coughed; he had now come to the point of his discourse which made him nervous.

For he had learned beyond the possibility of any doubt that Mrs. Cricklander was, alas! not a lonely widow but had been divorced—only a year or two ago. She had divorced her husband—not he her—he hastened to add, and then coughed again and got very red.

"When we were young," Miss La Sarthe remarked severely, "our Mamma would never have allowed us to know any divorced person—and, indeed, our good Queen Victoria would never have received one at her Court. We cannot possibly call, Roberta."

Poor Miss Roberta's face fell. She had been secretly much elated by the thoughts of a neighbor, and to have all her hopes thus nipped in the bud was painful. She had heard (from Hester again, it is to be feared!) that Mrs. Cricklander's maid, who was a cousin of the baker in Applewood, and who had originally instigated her discovery of Wendover, had said that her lady knew all the greatest people in England—lords and duchesses by the dozen, and even an archbishop! Surely that was respectable enough.

But Miss La Sarthe, while again deploring the source of her sister's information, was firm. Ideas might have changed, but they had not. Since the last time they had curtsied to the beloved late Queen, in about 1879, she believed new rules had been made, but the La Sarthe had nothing to do with such things!

Halcyone caught Miss Roberta's piteous, subdued eye, and smiled a tender, kind smile. With years her understanding of her ancient aunts had grown. They were no longer rather contemptible, narrow-minded elders in her eyes, but filled her with a pitiful and gentle respect. Their courage under adversity, their firm self-control, and the force which made them live up to their idea of the fitness of things, appealed to her strongly. She had John Derringham's quality of detached consideration, and appreciated her old relatives as exquisite relics of the past, as well as her own kith and kin.

"In America, divorce is not considered the heinous crime it was once in England," Mr. Carlyon said. "Perhaps this lady may have been greatly sinned against and deserves all our pity and regard."

But Miss La Sarthe remained obdurate. The point was not as to who was in the right, she explained, but that certain conventions, laid down by one whose memory was revered, had been outraged, and she could never permit her sister or Halcyone to have any intercourse with the tenant of Wendover Park!

The preparations for the new arrival went on apace all the autumn and winter. Armies of workpeople were reported to be in possession, and whole train-loads of splendid French furniture were known to have arrived at Applewood, to augment the antique and time-worn pieces which were Wendover's own.

Miss Le Sarthe sent for the Long Man. Things had been rather better of late, and no more precious belongings had been forced to be parted with. An investment which had been valueless for years now began to produce some interest which was a great comfort, for Miss La Sarthe was now seventy-nine and Miss Roberta seventy-six.

The orders that the agent received were precise. The gate between Wendover and La Sarthe Chase which had been closed for over a hundred years was to be boarded up, and their side of the haw-haw which for nearly a mile divided the two parks was to be deepened and cleared out, and the spikes mended in any places where the ground might have seemed to have fallen in sufficiently, or the irons to have become broken enough to make the passage easy.

This would be unnecessary, Mr. Martin (the Long Man) told her. The haw-haw was still as perfect as ever and a wonder of concealed traps for the unwary, but the gate should be seen to at once.

Thus La Sarthe Chase was armed fully against Wendover, when, about Easter, Mrs. Cricklander decided she would come down and bring a few friends. It was with a sudden violent beating of the heart that Halcyone learned casually from Mr. Carlyon that John Derringham would be of their number.

The aunts took in the Morning Post, but until she was eighteen they had rigorously forbidden Halcyone's perusal of it. Newspapers, except one or two periodicals, were not fit for young ladies' reading until they were grown up, they felt. However, their niece, having now come to years of discretion, sometimes had the pleasure of reading John Derringham's speeches and thrilled with joy over his felicitous daring and caustic wit. The Government could not last much longer, but he at least, as far as he could, would keep it full of vigor until the end. She knew, therefore, that the last sitting before the Easter recess had been a storm of words sharp as sword-thrusts—it was before the days of the language of Billingsgate and the behavior of roughs. There were quite a number of gentlemen still in the House of Commons, who often behaved as such.

Those wonderful forces which Halcyone culled from all nature, and especially the night, gave her a serenity over the most moving events, and when the sudden beating of her heart was over, she waited calmly for the moment when she should see John Derringham again.

Mr. Carlyon took in the Graphic as well as his Quarterly Review and the Nineteenth Century, and it was her only medium for guessing even what the outside world looked like, but from it she was quite aware that a beard was a most unusual thing for a young modern man of the world, and that John Derringham for that reason must always be distinguished from his fellows. Carpenters and hedgers and ditchers wore them, and nondescript young fellows she remembered seeing when she went into Upminster with her aunts; but these excursions had been discontinued now for the past five years, so the villagers of Sarthe-under-Crum and the denizens of the rather larger Applewood were the only human beings she ever saw.

The party at Wendover were to arrive on the Thursday before Good Friday—Priscilla had told her that—and it was just possible that some of them might be in church.

The aunts now drove a low basket shay which had been their pride in the sixties, but which for countless years, until the investment began to pay, they had been unable to keep a pair of ponies for. Now, however, the shay was unearthed from the moldy coach-house and for the past year two very old and quiet specimens of Shetland had been found for them by Mr. Martin and they were able to drive to church every Sunday in state, William sitting up behind, holding the reins between his mistresses, while Miss La Sarthe flourished a small whip whose delicate handle was studded with minute turquoises. From it dangled a ring which she could slip on her finger over her one-buttoned slate-colored glove, and so feel certain of not dropping this treasure. Halcyone always walked.

On Good Friday there was not a sight of the Wendover party in church, and Halcyone went back by the orchard house to look in at Cheiron, who had had a cold in the last few days.

Stretched in the armchair she found John Derringham.

The brisk walk in the fresh spring air had brought some faint color to her pale cheeks, her soft hair was wound about her head with becoming simplicity, and she wore an ordinary suit which could not disguise her beautiful slender limbs, so long and thin, a veritable Artemis in her chaste perfection of balance and proportion.

Halcyone could pass in any crowd and perhaps no one would ever notice her and her mouse-like coloring, but once your eye was arrested, then, like looking at some rare bit of delicate enamel, you began to perceive undreamed-of graces which soothed the sight until you were filled with the consciousness of an exquisite beauty as intangible as her other charm—distinction. An infinite serenity was in her atmosphere, a promise of all pure and tender things in her great soft eyes. The mystery and freshness of the night seemed always to hang about her. Her ways were noiseless—the most creaking door appeared to forget its irritating habit when under her touch. Thus it was that John Derringham, smoking a cigar, never even glanced up until a voice of extreme cultivation and softness said gently:

"Good morning. And how are you?"

Then he bounded from his chair, startled a little, and held out his hand.

"My old friend, Miss Halcyone, the Priestess of Truth!" he exclaimed, "as I am alive!"

She smiled serenely while they shook hands, and sat down demurely by the Professor's side.

"I thought you would have been translated to Olympus long ago," the visitor said. "Have you honored this ordinary earth and our friend Cheiron's cave, ever since?"

"Ever since!"

"There can be nothing left for you to learn. Master, it is you and I whom she could teach," he laughed.

"How do you know all this?" asked Halcyone quietly, while her eyes smiled at his raillery. "Do I look such an old-fashioned blue-stocking, then?"

"You look perfectly sweet," and John Derringham's expressive eyes confirmed what he said.

"Enough, enough, John. Halcyone is quite unaccustomed to gallants from the world like you," the Professor growled. "If you pay her compliments she won't believe you can really make a speech."

So Mr. Derringham laughed and continued his interrupted conversation. He seemed in good humor with all the world. He was going to stay at Wendover for the whole of Easter week. Mrs. Cricklander had an amusing party of luminaries of both sides—she was the most perfect hostess and had a remarkable talent for collecting the right people.

"She is quite the best-read woman I have ever met, Master," John Derringham said. "You must let me bring her over here one day to see you—you would delight in her wit and beauty. She does not leave you a dull moment."

"Yes, bring her," the Professor returned between the puffs at his long pipe. "I have never met any of these new hothouse roses grafted upon briar roots. I should like to study how the system has worked."

"Quite admirably, as you will see. I do not know any Englishwomen who are to compare to such Americans in brilliancy and fascination."

Over Halcyone, in spite of her serenity, there crept a feeling of cold. She did not then analyze why, and, as was her habit when anything began to distress her, she looked out of the window, whether it were night or day. She always did this, and when her eyes saw Nature in any of her moods, calm returned to her.

"She will simply revel in La Sarthe Chase when she sees it," Mr. Derringham went on, now addressing Halcyone. "She is a past-mistress in knowledge of the dates of things. You are going to have the most delicious neighbor, Miss Halcyone, and in learning, a foeman worthy of your steel."

Cheiron was heard to chuckle wickedly, and when his former Oxford pupil asked him with mild humor the reason of his inappropriate mirth, he answered dryly:

"She is never likely to see the inside of the park even. Queen Victoria did not receive divorced persons, and the Misses La Sarthe, in consequence, cannot either. You will have to bring her here by the road, John!"

Halcyone winced a little. She disliked this conversation; it was not as fine as she liked to think were the methods of both the men who were carrying it on.

John Derringham reddened up to his temples, where there were a few streaks of gray in his dark hair which added to the distinction of his finely cut, rather ascetic face. The short, well-trimmed beard was very becoming, Halcyone thought, and gave him a look of great masculinity and strength. His hawk's eyes were shadowed, as though he sat up very late at night; which indeed he did. For John Derringham, at this period of his life, burnt the candle at both ends and in the middle, too, if it could add to the pleasure or benefit of his calculated career, mapped out for himself by himself.

A sensation almost of wrath rose in his breast at his old master's words. These ignorant country people, to dare to criticise his glittering golden pheasant, whom he was very nearly making up his mind to take for a wife! This aspect of the case, that even these unimportant old ladies could question the position of his choice, galled him. He had spent up to the last penny of his diminished income in his years of man's estate, and Derringham was mortgaged to its furthest acre—and a gentleman must live—and with his brilliant political future expanding before him, lack of means must not be allowed to stand in his way. He would give this woman in gratified ambition as much or more than she would give him in wealth, so it would be an equal bargain and benefit them both. And, above all, he was more than half in love with her, and could get quite a large share of pleasure out of the affair as well. He had been too busy to trouble much over women as a sex since he had left the University—except in the way he had once described to his old master, regarding them as flowers in a garden—mere pleasures for sight and touch, and experiencing ephemeral passions which left no mark. But women either feared or adored him; and this woman, the desired of a host of his friends, had singled him out for her especial favors. It had amused him the whole of the last season; he had defied her efforts to chain him to her chariot wheels, and in the winter she had gone to Egypt, and had only just returned. But the charm was growing, and he felt he would allow himself to be caught in her net.

"Mrs. Cricklander would be very much amused could she hear this verdict of the county," he said with a certain tone in his voice which did not escape Halcyone. "In London we do not occupy ourselves with such unimportant things—but I dare say she will get over it. And now I really must be going back. May I walk with you through the park, Miss Halcyone, if you are going, too? I am sure there must be an opening somewhere, as the two places touch."

"Yes, there is just one," Halcyone said. "The haw-haw runs the whole way, and it is impossible to pass, except in the one spot, and I believe no one knows of it but myself. There are a few bricks loose, and I used to take them out and put them back when I wanted to get into Wendover—long ago."

"Then it will be an adventure; come," he said, and Halcyone rose.

"Only if you will not give away my secret. Promise you will not tell anyone else," she bargained.

"Oh! I promise," and John Derringham jumped up—his movements were always quick and decided and full of nervous force. "I will bring my hostess to see you on Monday or Tuesday, Master," he announced, as he said good-by. "And prepare yourself to fall at her feet like all the rest of us—Merlin and Vivien, you know. It will be a just punishment for your scathing remarks."

When they were outside in the garden Halcyone spoke not a word. The beds were a glory of spring bulbs, and every bud on the trees was bursting with its promise of coming leaf. Glad, chirruping bird-notes called to one another, and a couple of partridges ran across the lawn.

John Derringham took in the lines of Halcyone's graceful person as she walked ahead. She had that same dignity of movement from the hips which the Nike of Samothrace seems to be advancing with as you come up the steps of the Louvre.

How tall she had grown! She must be at least five feet nine or ten. But why would she not speak?

He overawed her here in the daylight, and she felt silent and oppressed.

"Whereabouts is our tree that we sat in when I was young and you were old?" he asked, after they had got through the gap in the hedge. A little gate had been put in the last years to keep out the increasing herd of deer.

"It is over there by the copse," she said shyly. "The lower branch fell last winter, and it makes a delightful seat. One is not obliged to climb into the tree now. See: Demetrius helped me to drag it close, and we nailed on these two arms," and she pointed to a giant oak not far from them, which John Derringham pretended to recognize.

He tried his best to get her to talk to him, but some cloud of timid aloofness on her part seemed to hang between them, and very soon below the copse they came to the one vulnerable part in all the haw-haw's length. She showed him how to take the bricks out and where to place his feet, and pointed out how secluded from any eye the place was. Then, as he climbed down and then up again, and looked across at her from Wendover lands, she said a sedate good-by, and turning, went on among the thickly growing saplings of the copse and, never looking back, was soon out of sight.

John Derringham watched her disappear with a strange feeling of ruffled disquietude in his heart.


It was so warm and charming an April day that Mrs. Cricklander and some of her friends were out of doors before luncheon, walking up and down the broad terrace walk that flanked Wendover's southern side.

It was a Georgian house, spacious and comfortable, but not especially beautiful. Mrs. Cricklander was a woman of enormous ability—she had a perfect talent for discovering just the right people to work for her pleasure and benefit, while being without a single inspiration herself. If she engaged a professional adviser to furnish her house, and decorate it, you could be sure he was of the best and that his services had been measured and balanced beforehand, and that he had been generously paid whatever he had obtained by bargaining for it, and that the agreement was signed and every penny of the cost entered in a little book. It was so with everything that touched her life. She had a definite idea of what she wanted, although she did not always want the same thing for long; but while she did, she went about getting it in a sensible, practical way, secured it, paid for it,—and then often threw it away.

She had felt she wanted Vincent Cricklander because he belonged to one of the old families in New York and played polo well, and, being a great heiress though of no pretensions to birth, she wished to have an undisputed entry into the inner circle of her own country. He fulfilled her requirements for quite three years, and then she felt she was "through" with America, and wanted fresh fields for her efforts. Paris was too easy, Berlin doubtful, Vienna and Petersburg impossible to conquer, but London would hold out everything that she could wish for. Only, it must be the very best of London, not the part of its society that anyone can struggle and push and pay to get into, but the real thing. She was "quite finished" with Vincent Cricklander, too, at this period; to see him play polo no longer gave her any thrill. So one morning at their lunch, on a rare occasion when they chanced to be alone, she told him so, and asked him practically how much he would take to let her divorce him.

But Vincent Cricklander was a gentleman, and, what is more, an American gentleman, which means of a chivalry towards women unknown in other countries.

"I do not want any of your money, Cis," he said. "I will be quite glad to go, if it will make you happier. We'll phone T.V. Ryan this afternoon and let him think out a scheme so that it can be done without a scandal of any sort. My mother has old-fashioned ideas, and I would hate to pain the poor dear lady."

It took nearly two years, but the divorce was completed at last, and Cecilia Cricklander found herself perfectly free and with all the keen scent of the hunter for the chase dilating her fine nostrils as she stood upon the deck of the great ocean liner bound for Liverpool.

She was a very beautiful woman and refined in every point, with exquisite feet and hands, pure, brilliant, fair coloring and a superb figure, and even a fairly sweet voice. Her education had been a good deal neglected because she was too spoilt by a doting father to profit by the instruction he provided for her. She felt this keenly directly she began to go out into the world, and immediately commenced to remedy the defect. For her, from the very beginning, life appeared in the light of a game. Fate was an adversary from whom she meant to win all the stakes, and it behooved a clever woman not to overlook a single card that might be of use to her in her play. She was quite aware of her own limitations, and her own forces and advantages. She knew she was beautiful and charming; she knew she was kind and generous and extremely "cute," as her old father said. She knew that literature and art did not interest her one atom in themselves, that most music bored her, and that she had a rather imperfect memory; but during her brief visits to England, when she was making up her mind that this country would be the field for her next exertions, she had decided that to be beautiful and charming was not just enough; there were numbers of other Americans who were both, and they were all one as successful and sought after as the other. She must be something beyond this—a real Queen. To beauty and wealth and charm she must add culture as well. She must be able to talk to the prime minister upon his pet foibles, she must be able to quote erudite passages from all the cleverest books of the day to the brilliant politicians and diplomats and men of polished brain who made up the society over which she wished to rule. And how was this to be done? She thought it all out, and during her two years of living quietly to obtain her divorce without a breath of scandal, she had hit upon and put into practice an admirable plan.

She searched for and found a poor, very plain and highly cultivated English gentlewoman, one who had been governess in a foreign Royal family and was now trying to support an aged mother by giving private lessons. Arabella Clinker was this treasure's name—Miss Arabella Clinker, aged forty-two, and as ugly as it is possible for a thoroughly nice woman to be.

Mrs. Cricklander made no mysteries about what she required Miss Clinker's companionship for. She explained minutely that should any special dinner-party or rencontre with any great person be in view, Miss Clinker must do a sort of preparatory cramming for her, as boys are prepared for examinations.

"You must make it your business, when I give you the names of the people I am to meet, to post me up in what they are likely to talk about. You must read all the papers in the morning with the political speeches in them, and then give me a quick resume; if it should be any diplomat or great artist or one of those delightful Englishmen who knows everything, then you must suggest some suitable authors to speak of that they will like, and I have quite enough sense myself to turn the conversation off any that I should not know about. In this way you will soon learn what I require of you, and I shall learn a great deal and gradually can launch out into much more difficult things."

Arabella Clinker had a sense of humor, and she adored her mother and wished to give her a comfortable old age. Mrs. Cricklander's terms for this unique position were according to her accustomed liberality.

"I like to give splendid prices for things, and then I expect them to be splendidly done," she said.

Miss Clinker had promised to do her best, and their partnership had lasted for nearly three years with the most satisfactory results to both of them. Their only difficulty was Mrs. Cricklander's defective memory. She could not learn anything by heart, and if she were at all tired had to keep herself tremendously in hand to make no mistakes. But the three years of constant trying had enabled her to talk upon most subjects in a shibboleth of the world which imposed upon everyone. Her real talent which called for the greatest admiration was the way in which she manipulated what she knew, and skimmed a fresh subject. She would do so with such admirable skill and wording as to give the impression that she was acquainted with its profoundest depths; and then when she was safely over the chasm the first moment she was free she would rush to Arabella for the salient points, doggedly repeat them over and over, and on the next occasion come out with them to the same person, convincing him more than ever of her thorough knowledge of the subject. But her memory was her misfortune, for if Miss Clinker instructed her, for instance, in all the different peculiarities of the styles of Keats and Shelley, a week after she would have forgotten which was which—because both bored her to distraction—and she would have to be reminded again. One awful moment came when, rhapsodizing upon the sensibility of Keats' character, she said to Sir Tedbury Delvine, the finest litterateur of his time, that there must have come moments during Keats' latter years when he must have felt as his own "Prometheus Unbound"! But, seeing her mistake immediately by her listener's blank face, she regained her ground with a skill and a flow of words which made Sir Tedbury Delvine doubt whether his own ears had heard aright.

"Arabella," Mrs. Cricklander said when next morning she lay smoking in her old-rose silk bed, while she went through her usual lessons for the day, "you must give me just a point each about those wretched old two, so that I will remember them again. I must have a sort of keynote. Shelley's would do with that horrible statue of him drowned, at Oxford, that would connect his chain—but what for Keats?"

So at last Miss Clinker invented a plan, almost Pythagorean in its way, and it proved very helpful to her patroness.

When she went on light, amusing excursions to Egypt and such places, she allowed Arabella to remain with her mother, and these were months of pure happiness to Miss Clinker.

It had not taken Mrs. Cricklander long to conquer London with her money, and her looks, and her triumphant belief in herself. At the end of two years, when John Derringham was first presented to her, she had almost reached the summit of her ambitions. To become his wife she had decided would place her there. For was he not certain to climb to the top of the tree, as well as being the most brilliant and most sought after young man in all England. Of love—the love that recks not of place or gain but just gives its being to the loved one—to such emotion she was happily a complete stranger. John Derringham attracted her greatly, and until now had successfully evaded all her snares and had remained beyond the thrall of her will. To have got him to come for this whole week of Easter was a triumph and exulted her accordingly. She particularly affected politicians, and her house in Grosvenor Square was a meeting-place for both parties, provided the members of each were of the most distinguished type. And there were not more than two or three people out of all her acquaintances, besides Arabella, who smiled a little over her brilliant culture.

By all this it can be seen that Mrs. Cricklander was a wonderful character—tenacious, indomitable, full of nerve and deserving of the greatest respect in consequence.

The only thing the least vulgar about her was her soul—if she had one—and it is not the business of society to look into such things. Scrutiny of the sort is left for creatures like the Professor, Cheiron, who have nothing else to do—but his impressions upon this subject must come in their proper place.

Meanwhile, John Derringham had joined the party on the terrace, and was joyously acclaimed, and then minutely questioned as to the cause of his lengthy absence. He had not been to church—that was certain. He had not been out of the park, because the lodges were not in the direction from which he had been seen advancing. Where had he been, then? All alone? He would not give any account of himself, as was his way, and presently his hostess drew him on ahead and down the terrace steps. She wanted to point out to him some improvements which she contemplated. The garden must be the most beautiful in the country—and he knew so much about gardens, he could tell her exactly which style would suit the house best.

John Derringham was in a bad temper. That unaccountable sense of a discordant note with himself still stayed with him. He unconsciously, during his walk, had dwelt upon the Professor's information as to the view of the old ladies of The Chase, and then Halcyone's silence and stiffness. He felt excluded from the place which he recollected he had held in the child's regard. His memory had jumped the brief glimpse of her during her fledgling period, and had gone back with distinct vividness to the summer morning in the tree, almost seven years ago.

He answered with a carelessness which was not altogether pleasing to Cecilia Cricklander. She saw instantly that her favorite guest was ruffled by something. Although never fine, she was quick at observing all the moods of her pawns, and had brought the faculty of watching for signs from castles, knights and kings to a science. John Derringham must be humored and cajoled by a proof of her great understanding of him—he must be left in silence for a minute, and then she would pause and look over the balustrade, so that he might see her handsome profile and take in the exquisite simplicity of her perfect dress. She knew these things pleased him. She would look a little sad, too, and far away.

It had its effect.

"What are you dreaming about, fair chatelaine?" he asked after a while. "Your charming mouth has its corners drooped."

"I was wondering—" and then she stopped.

"Yes?" asked John Derringham. "You were wondering what?"

"I was wondering if one could ever get you to really take an interest in anything but your politics, and your England's advancement? How good it would be if one could interest you for a moment in anything else."

He leaned upon the balustrade beside her.

"You are talking nonsense," he said. "You know very well that you interest me every time I see you—and it is growing upon me. That was not the only thing revolving in your clever mind."

"Yes, indeed," and she looked down.

"Well, then, I am interested in your garden. What do you think of doing? Tell me."

She explained an elaborate plan, and quoted the names of famous gardeners and their styles, with her accustomed erudition. For had not Arabella got them up for her only that morning, as she smoked her seventh cigarette in bed? She inclined to French things, and she thought that this particular part—a mere rough bit of the park—could very well be laid out as a Petit Trianon. She could procure copies of the plans of Mique, and even have a Temple d'Amour.

"I love to create," she said. "The place would not have amused me if everything had been complete, and if you will help me I shall be so grateful."

"Of course I will," he said. "The Temple d'Amour would look quite well up upon that rising ground, and you could have a small winding lake dug to complete the illusion. Nothing is impossible, and I suppose you can get permission from the old Wendover who lives in Rome to do what you wish?"

"I should like to have been able to take the park of the next place, La Sarthe Chase, too—that impassable haw-haw and the boarded-up gate irritate me. The boards have been put since I came to look over everything last autumn. I did instruct the agent, Martin, in Applewood to offer a large price for it, but he assured me it would be quite useless; it belongs, it appears, to the most ridiculous old ladies, who are almost starving, but would rather die than be sensible."

Suddenly John Derringham was conscious that his sympathies had shifted to the Misses La Sarthe, and he could not imagine why.

"You told me, I think," she went on, "that you knew this neighborhood. Do you happen to be aware of any bait I could hold out to them?"

"No, I do not," he said. "That sort of pride is foolish, if you like; but there it is—part of an inheritance of the spirit which in the past has made England great. They are wonderful old ladies. I dined with them once long ago."

"I must really go over and see them one day. Perhaps I could persuade them to my view."

The flicker of a smile came into the eyes of John Derringham, and she noticed it at once. It angered her, and deepened the pretty pink in her fresh cheeks.

"You think they would not be pleased to see me?" she flashed.

"They are ridiculously old-fashioned," he said. "Not your type at all."

"But I love curiosities," she returned, smiling now. "I am not absolutely set upon any type. All human beings are a delightful study. If you know them, you must bring them to see me then some day."

But at this John Derringham laughed outright.

"If you could picture them, you would laugh, too," he said. "There is someone, though, whom I do want you to know, who lives close here—my old Oxford professor of Greek, Arnold Carlyon. He is a study who will repay you. The most whimsical cynic, as well as one of the greatest scholars I have ever come across in my life. I promised him to-day that I would persuade you to let me take you to see him."

"How enchanting," she replied with enthusiasm. "And we must make him come here. When shall we go? To-morrow?"

"No, I said Monday or Tuesday—with your permission," and he bent over her with caressing homage.

"Of course—when you will. That, then, is where you were this morning. But how did you get back through the park?" she asked. "There is no opening at that side whatever. It is all blocked by the wicked La Sarthe Chase."

"I came round the edge," he said, and felt annoyed—he hated lying—"and then turned upwards. I wanted to see the boundaries."

"I hate boundaries," she laughed. "I always want to overstep them."

"There is the chance of being caught in snares."

"Which adds to the excitement," and she allowed her radiant eyes to seek his with a challenge.

He was not slow to take it up.

"Enchantress," he whispered softly, "it is you whose charm lays snares for men. You have no fear of falling into them yourself."

She rippled a low laugh of satisfaction. And, having tamed her lion, she now suggested it was time to go in to luncheon.


Arabella Clinker took Sunday afternoons generally to write a long letter to her mother, and Good Friday seemed almost a Sunday, so she went up to her room from force of habit. But first she looked up some facts in the countless books of reference she kept always by her. Mrs. Cricklander had skated over some very thin ice at luncheon upon a classical subject, when talking to the distinguished Mr. Derringham, and she must be warned and primed up before dinner. Arabella had herself averted a catastrophe and dexterously turned the conversation in the nick of time. Mrs. Cricklander had a peculiarly unclassical brain, and found learning statistics about ancient philosophies and the names of mythological personages the most difficult of all. Fortunately in these days, even among the most polished, this special branch of cultivation was rather old-fashioned, Miss Clinker reflected, but still, as Mr. Derringham seemed determined to wander along this line (Arabella had unconsciously appropriated some apt Americanisms during her three years of bondage), she must be loyal and not allow her employer to commit any blunders. So she got her facts crystallized, or "tabloided," as Mrs. Cricklander would mentally have characterized the process, and then she began her letter to her parent. Mrs. Clinker, an Irishwoman and the widow of a learned Dean, understood a number of things, and was clear-headed and humorous, for all her seventy years, and these passages in her daughter's letter amused her.

We are entertaining a number of distinguished visitors, and among them Mr. John Derringham, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He is a most interesting personality, as perfectly sure of what he wants in life as is M. E. (M. E. stood for "My Employer"—names were invidious). They would be a perfect match, each as selfish as the other, I should say. He is really very cultivated, and believes her to be so, too. She has not made a single mistake as yet, but frightened me at luncheon a little. I must try and get her to keep him off classical subjects. She intends to marry him—and then she will not require me, I suppose; or rather, I do not think he would permit her to keep me. If it came to a measure of wills, he would win, I think—at first, at least—but she could wear away a stone in the end, as you know. The arranging of this place is still amusing her, so she may decide to spend a good deal of time here. She closed her mouth with that firm snap this morning that I have described to you often, and said that it was going to be her delight to make them put themselves out and come so far away from London for her. "Them," for the moment, are Mr. Derringham and Mr. Hanbury-Green, almost a Socialist person, who is on the other side—very brilliantly clever but with a Cockney accent in one or two words. M. E. does not notice this, of course. Mr. H-G. is in love with her—Mr. D. is not, but she is determined that he shall be. I do not know if he intends to marry her. He is making up his mind, I think, therefore I must be doubly careful not to allow her to commit any mistakes, because if she did it would certainly estrange him, and as to keep her free is so much to our advantage, I feel I must be extra careful in doing my duty.

Arabella was a person of scrupulous honor.

She then proceeded to describe the party, and concluded with,

There is one American girl I like very much—perfectly natural and bubbling with spirits, saying aloud everything she thinks, really well educated and taking so much outdoor exercise that she has not yet begun to have the nervous attacks that are such a distressing feature of so many of her countrywomen. I am told it is their climate. M. E. says it is because the men out there have always let them have their own way. I should think so much smoking has something to do with it.

John Derringham meanwhile had gone with his hostess and some of the rest of the party, Mr. Hanbury-Green among them, to inspect the small golf links Mrs. Cricklander was having constructed in the park. Her country-house must be complete with suitable amusements. She had taken all the Wendover shooting, too, and what she could get of Lord Graceworth's beyond. "You cannot drag people into the wilds and then bore them to death," she said. What she most enjoyed was to scintillate to a company of two or three, and fascinate them all into a desire for a tete-a-tete, and then, when with difficulty one had secured this privilege, to be elusive and tantalize him to death. To passion she was a complete stranger, and won all her games because with her great beauty she was as cold as ice.

She was not feeling perfectly content this Good Friday afternoon. Something had happened since the evening before which had altered John Derringham's point of view towards her. She felt it distinctly with her senses, trained like an animal's, to scent the most subtle things in connection with herself. It was impossible to seize, she could not analyze it, but there it was; certainly there seemed to be some change. He was brilliant, and had been even empresse before lunch, but it was not spontaneous, and she was not perfectly sure that it was not assumed. It was his cleverness which attracted her. She could not see the other side of his head—not that she would have understood what that meant, if she had heard the phrase.

But her habit was not to sit down under an adverse circumstance, but to probe its source and eradicate it, or, at least, counteract it. Thus, while she chattered eloquently to Sir Tedbury Delvine, her keen brain was weighing things. John Derringham had certainly had a look of aroused passion in his eyes when he had pressed her hand in a lingered good night; he had even said some words of a more advanced insinuation as to his intentions towards her than he had ever done before. They were never exact—always some fugitive hint to which afterwards she would try to fix some meaning as she reviewed their meetings. She had not seen him at breakfast because she never came down in the morning until eleven or twelve, and he had already gone out, she heard, when she did descend.

It followed then that either he had received some disturbing letter by the post—only one on Good Friday—or something had occurred during his visit to his old master. It would be her business to find out which of these two things it was. Could the Professor be married, and might there be some woman in the family? Or was it nothing to do with the Professor or with a letter, or was there a more present reason? Had Cora Lutworth attracted him with her youth and high spirits? They were walking ahead now, and she could hear his laugh and see how they were enjoying themselves.

She had been a perfect fool to ask Cora. She did not fear a single Englishwoman, the powers of most of whom in her heart she despised—but Cora was of her own race, and well equipped to rival her in a question of marriage. Cora was only twenty-one, and she herself was thirty—and there was the divorce which, although she had found it no bar to her entrance into the most exclusive English society, still might perhaps rankle unconsciously in the mind of a man mounting the political ladder, and determined to secure the highest honors.

She felt she hated Cora, and would have destroyed her with a look if she had been able.

Miss Lutworth, meanwhile, brimful of the joy of life and insouciance, was amusing herself vastly. And John Derringham was experiencing that sense of relaxation and irresponsible pleasure he got sometimes when he was overworked from going to an excruciatingly funny Paris farce. Miss Lutworth did not appeal to his brain at all, although she was quite capable of doing so; she just made him feel gay and frolicsome with her deliciously ruse view of the world and life in general. He forgot his ruffled temper of the morning, and by the time they had returned for tea, was his brilliant self again, and quite ready to sit in a low chair at his hostess's side, while she leaned back among the cushions of her sofa, in her own sitting-room, whither she had enticed him during that nondescript hour before dinner, when each person could do what he pleased.

"Is not Cora sweet?" she said, smoothing the brocade beneath her hand. Her sitting-room had been arranged by the artist who had done the house, as a perfect bower of Italian Sixteenth Century art. Mr. Jephson, the artist, had assured her that this period would make a perfect background for her fresh and rather voluptuous coloring; it had not become so banal as any of the French Louis'. And so Arabella had been instructed to drum into her head the names of the geniuses of that time, and their works, and she could now babble sweetly all about Giorgione, Paolo Veronese and Titian's later works without making a single mistake. And while the pictures bored her unspeakably, she took a deep pleasure in her own cleverness about them, and delighted in tracing the influence Paolo Veronese must have had upon Boucher, a hint from Arabella which she had announced as an inspiration of her own.

She had tea-gowns made to suit this period, and adopted the stately movements which were evidently the attribute of that time.

John Derringham thought her superb. If he had been really in love with her, he might have seen through her—and not cared—just as if she had not attracted him at all, he would certainly have taken her measure and enjoyed laying pitfalls for her. But as it was, his will was always trying to augment his inclination. He was too busy to analyze the real meaning of any woman, and until the Professor's words about the divorce and the Misses La Sarthe's view of the affair, it had never even struck him that there could be one single aspect of Mrs. Cricklander's case which he might have to blink at. He had told himself he had better marry a rich woman, since his old maternal uncle, Joseph Scroope, had just taken unto himself a young wife and might any day have an heir. And this was his only other possible source of fortune.

Mrs. Cricklander seemed the most advantageous bargain looming upon the horizon. She was of proved entertaining capabilities. She had passed her examination in the power of being a perfect hostess. She had undoubted and expanding social talents. Women did not dislike her; she was very vivid, very handsome, very rich. What more could a man who in his innermost being had a supreme contempt for women, and a supreme belief in himself, desire?

He had even balanced the advantages of marrying a rich American girl, one like Miss Lutworth, for example. But such beings were unproven, and might develop nerves and fads, which were of no consequence in the delightful creatures with whom he passed occasional leisure hours of recreation, but which in a wife would be a singular disadvantage. Since he must marry—and soon—before the present Parliament broke up and his Government went out, and there came some years of fighting from the Opposition benches, when especially brilliant entertaining might be of advantage to him—he knew he had better make up his mind speedily, and take this ripe and luscious peach, which appeared more than willing to drop into his mouth.

So, this late afternoon, aided by the scents and colors and propinquity, he did his very best to make gradual love to her, and for some unaccountable hideously annoying reason felt every moment more aloof. It almost seemed at last as if he were guarding something of fine and free that was being assailed. His dual self was fighting within his soul.

Mrs. Cricklander was experiencing all the exciting emotions which presumably the knights of old enjoyed when engaged in a tournament. She was not even disturbed when the dressing-gong rang and she had not yet won. It was only a postponement of one of the most entrancing games she had ever played in her successful life. And Mr. Hanbury-Green was going to sit upon her left hand at dinner and would afford new flint for her steel. He was a recent acquisition, and of undoubted coming value. His views were in reality nearer her heart politically than those of John Derringham. Deep down in her being was a strong class hatred—undreamed of, and which would have been vigorously denied. She remembered the burning rage and the vows of vengeance which had convulsed her as a girl, because the refined and gently bred women of her own New York's inner circle would have none of her, and how it had been her glory to trample upon as many of them as she could, when Vincent Cricklander had placed her as head of his fine mansion in Fifty-ninth Street, having moved from the old family home in Washington Square. And there, underneath, was the feeling still for those of any country who, instinct told her, had inherited from evolution something which none of her money, and none of her talent, and none of her indomitable will, could buy. But of course Mr. Hanbury-Green was not to be considered, except as a foil for her wit—a pawn in the game for the securing of John Derringham.

Thus it was that she was able to walk in her stately way with trailing velvets down the broad stairs of her newly acquired home with a sense of exaltation and complacency which was unimpaired.

John Derringham, on the contrary, was rather abrupt with his valet and spoilt two white ties, and swore at himself because his old Eton hand had lost its cunning. But finally he too went down the shallow steps, and, joining his hostess at the door, sailed in with her to the George I saloon, his fine eyes shining and his bearing more arrogant than before.


After dinner there was a brisk passage of arms between the two men of opposite party in the group by the fire, and Mrs. Cricklander incited them to further exertions. It had arisen because Mr. Derringham had launched forth the abominable and preposterous theory that the only thing the Radicals would bring England to would be the necessity of returning to barbarism and importing slaves—then their schemes applied to the present inhabitants of the country might all work. The denizens in the casual wards, having a vote and a competence provided by the State, would have time to become of the leisured classes and apply themselves to culture, and so every free citizen being equal, a company of philosophers and an aristocracy of intellect would arise and all would be well!

Mrs. Cricklander glanced stealthily at his whimsical face, to be sure whether he were joking or no—and decided he probably was. But Mr. Hanbury-Green, so irritated by the delightful hostess's evident penchant for his rival, allowed his ill-humor to obscure his usually keen judgment, and took the matter up in serious earnest.

"Your side would not import, but reduce us all—we who are the defenders of the people—to being slaves," he said with some asperity. "Your class has had its innings long enough, it would be the best thing in the world for you to have to come down to doing your own housework."

"I should make a capital cook," said John Derringham, with smiling eyes, "but I should certainly refuse to cook for anyone but myself; and you, Mr. Green, who may be an indifferent artist in that respect, would have perhaps a bad dinner."

"I never understand," interrupted Mrs. Cricklander—"when everything is socialistic, shall we not be able to live in these nice houses?"

"Of course not," said Mr. Hanbury-Green gravely. "You will have to share with less fortunate people." And then he drew himself up ready for battle, and began.

"Why, because a man or woman is born in the gutter, should not he or she be given by the State the same chance as though born in a palace? We are all exactly the same human beings, only until now luck and circumstance have been different for us."

"I am all for everyone having the same chance," agreed John Derringham, allowing the smile to stay in his eyes, "although I do not admit we are all the same human beings, any more than the Derby winner is the same horse as the plow horse or the cob. They can all draw some kind of vehicle, but they cannot all win races—they have to excel, each in his different line. Give everyone a chance, by all means, and then make him come up for examination, and if found fit passed on for higher things, and if unfit, passed out! It is your tendency to pamper the unfit which I deplore. You have only one idea on your Radical Socialist side of the House, to pull down those who are in any inherited or agreeable authority—not because they are doing their work badly, but because you would prefer their place! The war-cry of boons for the people covers a multitude of objects, and is the most attractive cry for the masses to hear all over the world. The real boon for the people would be to give them more practical sound education and ruthlessly to clear out the unfit." Then his face lost its whimsical expression and became interested.

"Let us imagine a Utopian state of republic. Let every male citizen who has reached twenty-five years, say, pass his examination in the right to live freely, regardless of class, and if he cannot do so, let him go into the ranks of the slaves, because, turn it how you will, we must have some beings to do the lowest offices in life. Who would willingly clean the drains, fill the dust-carts—and, indeed, do the hundred and one things that are simply disgusting, but which must be done?"

Mr. Hanbury-Green had not a sufficiently strong answer ready, so remained loftily silent, while John Derringham went on:

"We obscure every issue nowadays by a sickly sentiment and this craze for words to prove black is white in order to please the mediocrity. If we could only look facts in the face we should see that the idea of equality of all men is perfectly ridiculous. No ancient republic ever worked, even the most purely democratic, like the Athenian, of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., without an unconsidered and unrepresented population of slaves. You know your Aristotle, Mr. Green," he went on blandly, "and you will remember his admirable remark about some men being born masters and others born to obey, and that, if only Nature had made the difference in their mental capacities as apparent to the eye as is the difference in their bodies, everyone would recognize this at once."

His voice grew intense: the subject interested him.

"You may say," he went on, "that Aristotle, Plato and Socrates accepted the fact of slavery without protest because it was an institution from time immemorial, and so the idea did not appear to them so repugnant. But do you mean to tell me that such consummate geniuses, such unbiased glorious brains would have glossed over any idea, or under-considered any point in their schemes for the advancement of man? They accepted slavery because they saw that it was the only possible way to make a republic work, where all citizens might aspire to be equal."

"You would advocate slavery then? Oh! Mr. Derringham, how dreadful of you!" exclaimed Mrs. Cricklander, half playfully.

"Not in the least," he returned, still allowing some feeling to stay in his voice. "I would only have it recognized that there must be some class in my ideal republic who will do the duties of the slaves of old. I would have it so arranged that they should occupy this class only when they had shown they were unfit for anything higher, and I would also arrange it that the moment they appeared capable of rising out of it there should be no bar to their doing so. It is the cry of our all being equal because we have two arms and two legs and a head in common, not counting any mental endowment, which is utter trash and hypocrisy. But when these agitators are shouting for the people's rights and inciting poor ignorant wretches to revolt, they never suggest that the lowest of them is not perfectly suited to the highest position! Those occupying any station above the lowest have got there merely by superior luck and favoritism, not merit—that is what they preach."

Mr. Hanbury-Green was just going to answer with a biting attack when Miss Cora Lutworth's rather high voice was heard interrupting from a tall old chair in which she had perched herself.

"Why, Mr. Derringham, we all want to be something very grand," she laughed merrily. "I hate common people and love English dukes and duchesses—don't you, Cis?" and she looked at Mrs. Cricklander, who was standing in a position of much stately grace by the lofty mantelpiece.

"You sweet girl!" exclaimed Lord Freynault, who was next to her. "I cannot get any nearer to those favored folk than my uncle's being a duke, but won't you let me in for some of your friendly feelings on that account?"

"I certainly will," she answered archly, "because I like the way you look. I like how your hair is brushed, and how your clothes are cut, and your being nice and clean and outdoor—and long and thin—" and then she whispered—"ever so much better than Mr. Hanbury-Green's thick appearance. He may be as clever as clever, but he is common and climbing up, and I like best the people who are there!"

John Derringham now addressed himself exclusively to his hostess.

"I agree with the point of view of the old Greeks—they were so full of common sense. Balance and harmony in everything was their aim. A beautiful body, for instance, should be the correlative of a beautiful soul. Therefore in general their athletics were not pursued, as are ours, for mere pleasure and sport, and because we like to feel fit. They did not systematically exercise just to wrest from some rival the prize in the games, either. Their care of the body had a far higher and nobler end: to bring it into harmony as a dwelling-place for a noble soul."

"How divine!" said Mrs. Cricklander.

John Derringham went on:

"You remember Plato upon the subject—his reluctance to admit that a physical defect must sometimes be overlooked. But nowadays everything is distorted by ridiculous humanitarian nonsense. With our wonderful inventions, our increasing knowledge of sanitation and science, and the possibilities and limitations of the human body, what glorious people we should become if we could choke this double-headed hydra of rotten sentiment and exalt common sense!"

But now Mrs. Cricklander saw that a storm was gathering upon Mr. Hanbury-Green's brow and, admirable hostess that she was, she decided to smooth the troubled waters, so she went across the room to the piano, and began to play a seductive valse, while John Derringham followed her and leaned upon the lid, and tried to feel as devoted as he looked.

"Why cannot we go to-morrow and see your old master?" she asked, as her white fingers, with their one or two superb rings, glided over the keys. "I feel an unaccountable desire to become acquainted with him. I should love to see what the person was like who molded you when you were a boy."

"Mr. Carlyon is a wonderful-looking old man," John Derringham returned. "Someone—who knows him very well—described him long ago as 'Cheiron.' You will see how apt it is when you meet."

Mrs. Cricklander crashed some chords. She had never heard of this Cheiron. She felt vaguely that Arabella had told her of some classical or mythological personage of some such sounding name, a boatman of sorts—but she dare not risk a statement, so she went on with the point she wished to gain, which was to investigate at once Mr. Carlyon's surroundings and discover, if possible, whether there was any influence there that would be inimical to herself.

"I dare say we can go to-morrow," John Derringham said. "You and I might walk over—and perhaps Miss Lutworth and Freynault. We can't go a large party, the house is so small."

"Why cannot you and I go alone, then?" she asked.

"Oh, I think he would like to see Miss Cora. She is such a charming girl," and John Derringham looked over to where she sat, still dangling a pair of blue satin feet from the high chair. And inwardly Mrs. Cricklander burned.

Cora was a second cousin of her divorced husband, and belonged by birth to that inner cream of New York society which she hated in her heart. Never, never again would she be so foolish as to chance crossing swords with one of her own nation. But aloud she acquiesced blandly and arranged that they should start at eleven o'clock.

"Perhaps we could persuade him to return to lunch with us?" she hazarded. "And that would be so nice."

"You must do what you can with him," John Derringham said. "I have prepared him to find you beautiful—as you are."

"You say lovely things about me behind my back, then?" she laughed. "Now he will be disappointed!"

"Yes, I admit it was a betise—but, being my real thoughts, they slipped out when I was there to-day. You will have to be extra charming to substantiate them."

Before Mrs. Cricklander went to bed, she called Arabella Clinker into her room.

"Arabella," she said, "who was Cheiron?" But she pronounced the "ei" as an "a," so Miss Clinker replied without any hesitation:

"He was a boatman who carried the souls of the dead over the River Styx, and to whom they were obliged to pay an obolus—son of Erebus and Nox. He is represented as an old man with a hideous face and long white beard and piercing eyes."

"Is there anything else I ought to know about him?" her employer asked, and Arabella thought for a moment.

"There is the story of Hercules not showing the golden bow. Er—it is a little complicated and has to do with the superstitions of the ancients—er—something Egyptian, I think, for the moment—I will look it up to-morrow. I can't say offhand."

"Thanks, Arabella. Good night."

And it was not until after the party of four had started next morning that Miss Clinker suddenly thought, with a start: "She may have been alluding to quite the other Cheiron—the Centaur—and in that case I have given her some wrong lights!"


Cora was being more than exasperating, Mrs. Cricklander thought, as they went through the park. Not content with Lord Freynault, who was plainly devoted to her, she kept every now and then looking back at John Derringham with some lively sally, and although he was being particularly agreeable to herself, he responded to Miss Lutworth's piquant attacks with a too ready zeal.

Mrs. Cricklander grew more and more certain that her hold over him had lessened in these last two days, and every force in her indomitable personality stiffened with determination to win him at all costs.

The Professor received them graciously. He was seated in his library, which now was a most comfortable room surrounded with bookcases in which lived all his rare editions of loved books. Nothing could be more fascinating than Mrs. Cricklander's manner to him—a mixture of deference and friendly familiarity, as though he would appreciate the fact of a tacit understanding between them that she too had a right in John Derringham's friends. She had been so reassured by finding that Mr. Carlyon was unmarried and lived alone, that a glow of real warmth towards the Professor emanated from her, while the conviction grew that it was nothing but the influence of Cora Lutworth which had even momentarily cooled her whilom ardent friend.

Mr. Carlyon's imperturbable countenance gave no hint of what he thought of her, although John Derringham watched him furtively and anxiously. He listened to their conversation when he could, and it jarred upon him twice when the lady of his choice altogether missed the point of Cheiron's subtle remarks. She whom he had always considered so understanding!

Of Halcyone there was no sign and no mention, and for some reason which he could not explain John Derringham felt glad.

It seemed an eternity before Mrs. Cricklander got up to go, having been unable to persuade Mr. Carlyon to return with them to luncheon. He had a slight cold, he said, and meant to remain in his warm library.

"Mr. Derringham says you are called Cheiron," Mrs. Cricklander announced laughingly. "How ridiculous to find in you any likeness to that old ferryman of the piercing eye. I see no resemblance but in the beard."

"So John relegates me to the post of ferryman to the dead already, does he!" Mr. Carlyon responded. "I had hoped he still allowed me my horse's hoofs and my cave—I have been deceiving myself all these years, evidently."

A blank look grew in Mrs. Cricklander's eye. What had caves and horse's hoofs to do with the case? She had better turn the conversation at once, or she might be out of her depth, she felt; and this she did with her usual skill, but not before the Professor's left eyebrow had run up into his forehead, and his wise old eyes beneath had met and then instantly averted themselves from those of John Derringham.

All the way back to the house Mrs. Cricklander had the satisfaction of listening to a much more advanced admiration of herself than she had hoped to obtain so soon, and arrived in the best of restored humors—for John Derringham had clenched his teeth as he left the orchard house, and had told himself that he would not be influenced or put off by any of these trifling things, and that it was some vixenish turn of Fate to have allowed these currents of disillusion about a woman who was so eminently suitable to reach him through the medium of his old friend.

A strange thing happened to Halcyone that morning. She had made up her mind to keep away from her usual visit to Cheiron on the Monday and Tuesday when John Derringham had announced he might bring over his hostess to see the Professor. She did not wish to cause complications with her aunts by making Mrs. Cricklander's acquaintance, and underneath she had some strange reluctance herself. Her unerring instincts warned her that this woman might in some way trouble her life, but she thought Saturday would be perfectly safe and was preparing to start, when some vague longing came over her to see her goddess. She had felt less serene since the day before, and John Derringham and his words and looks absorbed her thoughts. The home of Aphrodite was now in a chest in the long gallery, of which she kept the key, and as this old room was always empty—none of the servants, not even Priscilla, caring about visiting it—haunted, it was, they said—she had plenty of time to spend what hours she liked with her treasure without having to do so by stealth, as in the beginning. For any place indoors she loved the long gallery better than any other place. The broken window panes had been mended when the turn for the better came for the whole house, and now she herself kept it all dusted and tidy and used it as a sitting-room and work-room as well; and, above all, it was the temple of the goddess wherein was her shrine.

This day when Aphrodite was uncovered from her blue silk wrappings, her whole expression seemed to be one of appeal; however Halcyone would hold her, in high or low light, the eyes appeared to be asking her something.

"What is it, sweet mother and friend?" she said. "Do you not want me to leave you to-day? If so, indeed I will not. What are you telling me with those beautiful, sad eyes? That something is coming into my existence that you promised me always, and that it will cause me sorrow, and I must pause?"—and she shivered slightly and laid her cheek against the marble cheek. "I am not afraid, and I want whatever it must be, since it is life." Then she put the head back, and started upon her walk. But first one thing and then another delayed her, until last of all she sat down under the oak near the gap in the hedge and asked herself if all these things could be chance. And here she took to dreaming and watching the young rabbits come out of their holes, and to wondering what Fate held in store for her in the immediate future. What was going to be her life? That nothing but good could happen she always knew, because since the very beginning God—the same personal kindly force that she had always worshiped, unaltered by her deep learning, unweakened by any theological dissertations—was there manifesting the whole year round His wonderful love for the world.

And so she sat until the clock of the church at Sarthe-under-Crum struck one, and she started up, realizing that she was too late now to go on to Cheiron's and would only just have time to return for lunch with her aunts. She must go instead in the afternoon. So she walked briskly to the house, with a strange feeling of relief and joy, which she was quite unable to account for in any explicable way.

Nothing delayed her on her second attempt to reach the orchard house, and she found Cheiron placidly smoking while he read a volume of Lucian. She was quite aware what that meant. When the Professor was in an amused and cynical humor he always read Lucian, and although he knew every word by heart, it still caused him complete satisfaction, plainly to be discerned by the upward raising of the left penthouse brow.

Halcyone sat down and smiled sympathetically while she tried to detect which volume it was, that she might have some clew to the cause of her Professor's mood. But he carefully closed the book, so that she could not see—it was the Judgment of Paris in the dialogue of the gods—and she was unable to have her curiosity gratified.

"Something has entertained you, Cheiron?" she said.

"I have had the visit of two goddesses," he answered, chuckling. "Our friend John Derringham brought them. He wanted to show them off and get my opinion, I think."

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