The Price of Things
by Elinor Glyn
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"Of great use to our country, Harietta, my wife," Hans murmured again, clearing his throat.

"I am not your wife, my pretty Hans!" and she raised her eyebrows, and curled one corner of her upper lip. "You gave me up at the bidding of the higher command—I am your mistress now and then, when I feel inclined—but I am Stanislass' wife. I like a man better when I am his mistress; there are no tiresome old duties along with it."

Hans growled, he hated to realise this.

"You must be more careful with your speech, Harietta. When you get to England you must not say 'along with it'—after the pains I have taken with your grammar, too! You can use Americanisms if they are apt, and even a literal translation of another language—but bad grammar—common phrases—pah! that is to give the show away!"

Harietta reddened—her vanity disliked criticism.

"I take very good care of my language when it is necessary in the world—I am considered to have a lovely voice—but when I'm with you I guess I can enjoy a holiday—it's kind of a rest to let yourself go," her pronunciation lapsed into the broadest American, just to irritate him, and she stood and laughed in his face.

He caught her in his arms. She never failed to appeal to his senses; she had won him by that force and so held his brute nature even after five years. This was always the reason of whatever success she secured. A man had no smallest doubt as to why he was drawn; it was a direct appeal to the most primitive animal nature in him. The birth of Love is ever thus if we would analyse it truly, but the spirit fortunately so wraps things in illusion that generally both participants really believe that the mutual attraction is because of higher emotions of the mind, and so they are doomed to disappointment when passion is sated, unless the mind fulfills the ideal. But if the reality fails to make good, the refined spirit turns in disgust from the material, unconsciously resentful in that it has suffered deception. With Harietta this disappointment could never occur, since she created no illusion that she was appealing to the mind at all, and so a man if he were attracted faced no unknown quality, but was aware that it was only the animal in him which was drawn, and if his senses were his masters, not his servants, her victory was complete.

After some more fierce caresses had come to an end—there was no delicacy about Harietta—Hans continued his discourse.

"There has come here to Paris a young man of the name of Ardayre—Ferdinand Ardayre—he is slippery, but he can be of the greatest value to us. See that you become friends—you can reach him through Abba Bey. He hates his brother who is the head of the family and he hates his brother's wife—for family reasons which it is not necessary to waste time in telling you. I knew him in Constantinople. Underneath I believe he hates the English—there is a slur on him."

"I have already met him," and Harietta's eyes sparkled. "I hate the wife also for my own reasons—yes—how can I help you with this?"

"It is Ferdinand you must concentrate on; I am not concerned with the brother or his wife, except in so far as his hate for them can be used to our advantage. Do not embark upon this to play games of your own for your hate—you may be foolish then and upset matters."

"Very well." The two objects could go together, Harietta felt; she never wasted words. It would be a pleasure one day, perhaps, to be able to injure that girl whom Verisschenzko certainly respected, if he was not actually growing to love her. Harietta did not desire the respect of men in the abstract; it could be a great bore—what they thought of her never entered her consideration, since she was only occupied with her own pleasure in them and how they affected herself. Respect was one of the adjuncts of a good social position; and of value merely in that aspect. But as Verisschenzko respected no one else, as far as she knew, that must mean something annoyingly important.

Seven o'clock struck; she had thoroughly enjoyed being with Hans, he satisfied her in many ways, and it was also a relaxation, as she need not act. But the joys of the interview were over now, and she had others prepared for later on, and must go back to the Rhin to dress. So she kissed Hans and left, having arranged to meet him on the Tuesday night here in his rooms, and having received precise instructions as to the nature of the information to be obtained from Ferdinand Ardayre.

Life would be a paradise if only it were not for these ridiculous and tiresome political intrigues. Harietta had no taste for actual intrigue, its intricacies were a weariness to her. If she could have married a rich man in the beginning, she always told herself, she would never have mixed herself up in anything of the kind, and now that she had married a rich man, she would try to get out of the nuisance as soon as possible. Meanwhile, there was Ferdinand—and Ferdinand was becoming in love with her—they had met three times since the Montivacchini ball.

"He'll be no difficulty," she decided, with a sigh of relief. It would not be as it had been with Verisschenzko, whom she had been directed to capture. For in Verisschenzko she had found a master—not a dupe.

When she reached the beautiful Champs-Elysees, she looked at her diamond wrist watch. It was only ten minutes past seven, the dinner at the Austrian Embassy was not until half-past eight. Dressing was a serious business to Harietta, but she meant to cut it down to half an hour to-night, because there was a certain apartment in the Rue Cambon which she intended to visit for a few minutes.

"What an original street to have an apartment in!" people always said to Verisschenzko. "Nothing but business houses and model hotels for travellers!" And the shabby looking porte-cochere gave no evidence of the old Louis XV. mansion within, converted now into a series of offices, all but the top flooring looking on to the gardens of the Ministere.

Verisschenzko had taken it for its situation and its isolation, and had converted it into a thing of great beauty of panelling and rare pictures and the most comfortable chairs. There was absolute silence, too, there among the tree tops.

Madame Boleski ascended leisurely the shallow stairs—there was no lift—and rang her three short rings, which Peter, the Russian servant, was accustomed to expect. The door was opened at once, and she was taken through the quaint square hall into the master's own sitting-room, a richly sombre place of oak boiserie and old crimson silk.

Verisschenzko was writing and just glanced up while he murmured Napoleon's famous order to Mademoiselle George—but Harietta Boleski pushed out her full underlip and sat down in a deep armchair.

"No—not this evening, I have only a moment. I have merely come, Stepan, you darling, to tell you that I have something interesting to say."

"Not possible!" and he carefully sealed down a letter he had been writing and put it ready to be posted. Then he came over and took some cigarettes from a Faberger enamel box and offered her one.

Harietta smoked most of the day but she refused now.

"You have come, not for pleasure, but to talk! Sapristi! I am duly amazed!"

Another woman would have been insulted at the tone and the insinuation in the words, but not so Harietta. She did not pretend to have a brain, that was one of her strong points, and she understood and appreciated the crudest methods, so long as their end was for the pleasure of herself.

She nodded, and that was all.

Verisschenzko threw himself into the opposite chair, his yellow-green eyes full of a mocking light.

"I have seen a brooch even finer than the ruby ring at Cartier's just now—I thought perhaps if I were very pleased with you, it might be yours."

Harietta bounded from her chair and sat upon his knee.

"You perfect angel, Stepan, I adore you!" she said. He did not return the caresses at all, but just ordered:

"Now talk."

She spoke rapidly, and he listened intently. He was weighing her words and searching into their truth. He decided that for some reason of her own she was not lying—and in any case it did not matter if she were not, because he had resources at his command which would enable him to test the information, and if it were true it would be worth the brooch.

"She has been wounded in some way, probably physically, since nothing less material would affect her. Physically and in her vanity—but who can have done it?" the Russian asked himself. "Who is her German correspondent? This I must discover—but since it is the first time she has knowingly given me information, it proves some revenge in her goat's brain. Now is the time to obtain the most."

He encircled her with his arm and kissed her with less contemptuous brutality than usual, and he told her that she was a lovely creature, and the desire of all men—while he appeared to attach little importance to the information she vouchsafed, asking no questions and re-lighting a cigarette. This forced her to be more explicit, and at last all that she meant to communicate was exposed.

"You imagine things, my child," he scoffed. "I would have to have proof—and then if it all should be as you say. Why, that brooch must be yours—for I know that it is out of real love for me that you talk, and I always pay lavishly for—love."

"Indeed, you know that I adore you, Stepan—and that brooch is just what I want. Stanislass has been niggardly beyond words to me lately, and I am tired of all my other things."

"Bring me some proof to the reception to-night. I am not dining, but I shall be there by eleven for a few moments."

She agreed, and then rose to go—but she pouted again and the convex obstine curve below her under lip seemed to obtrude itself.

"She has gone back to England—your precious bride—I suppose?"

"She has."

"We shall all meet there in a week or so—Stanislass is going to see some of his boring countrymen in London—the conference you know about—and we have taken a house in Grosvenor Square for some months. I do not know many people yet—will you see to it that I do?"

"I will see that you have as many of these handsome Englishmen as will completely keep your hands full."

She laughed delightedly.

"But it is women I want; the men I can always get for myself."

"Fear nothing, your reception will be great."

Then she flung herself into his arms and embraced him, and then moved towards the door.

"I will telephone to Cartier in the morning," and Verisschenzko opened the door for her, "if you bring me some interesting proof of your love for me—to-night."

And when she had gone he took up his letter again and looked at the address,

To Lady Ardayre, Ardayre Chase, North Somerset, Angleterre.

"I must keep to the things of the spirit with you, precious lady. And when I cannot subdue it, there is Harietta for the flesh—wough! but she sickens me—even for that!"


Denzil Ardayre could not get any more leave for a considerable time and remained quartered in the North, where he played cricket and polo to his heart's content, but the head of the family and his charming wife went through the feverish season of 1914 in the town house in Brook Street. Ardayre was too far away for week-end parties, but they had several successful London dinners, and Amaryllis was becoming quite a capable hostess, and was much admired in the world.

Very fine of instinct and apprehension at all times she was developing by contact with intelligent people—for John had taken care that she only mixed with the most select of his friends. The de la Paule family had been more than appreciative of her and had guided her and supervised her visiting list with care.

Everything was too much of a rush for her to think and analyse things, and if she had been asked whether she was happy, she would have thought that she was replying with honesty when she affirmed that she was. John was not happy and knew it, but none of his emotions ever betrayed themselves, and the mask of his stolid content never changed.

They had gone on with their matter-of-fact relations, and when they returned to London after a week at Ardayre, all had been much easier, because they were seldom alone—and at last Amaryllis had grown to accept the situation, and try not to speculate about it. She danced every night at balls and continued the usual round, but often at the Opera, or the Russian ballet, or driving back through the park in the dawn, some wild longing for romance would stir in her, and she would nestle close to John. And John would perhaps kiss her quietly and speak of ordinary things. He went everywhere with her though, and never failed in the kindest consideration. He seldom danced himself, and therefore must often have been weary, but no suggestion of this ever reached Amaryllis.

"What does he talk to his friends about, I wonder?" she asked herself, watching him from across a room, in a great house after dinner one night.

John was seated beside the American Lady Avonwier, a brilliant person who did not allow herself to be bored. He appeared calm as usual, and there they sat until it was time to go on to a ball.

Everything he said was so sensible, so well informed—perhaps that was a nice change for people—and then he was very good-looking and—but oh! what was it—what was it which made it all so disappointing and tame!

A week after they had come up to Brook Street, the Boleskis arrived at the Mount Lennard House which they had taken in Grosvenor Square, armed with every kind of introduction, and Harietta immediately began to dazzle the world.

Her dresses and jewels defied all rivalry; they were in a class alone, and she was frank and stupid and gracious—and fitted in exactly with the spirit of the time.

She restrained her movements in dancing to suit the less advanced English taste; she gave to every charity and organized entertainments of a fantastic extravagance which whetted the appetite of society, grown jaded with all the old ways. The men of all ages flocked round her, and she played with them all—ambassadors, politicians, guardsmen, all drawn by her own potent charm, and she disarmed criticism by her stupidity and good nature, and the lavish amusements she provided for every one—while the chef they had brought over with them from Paris would have insured any hostess's success!

Harietta had never been so happy in all the thirty-six years of her life. This was her hour of triumph. She was here in a country which spoke her own language—for her French was deplorably bad—she had an unquestioned position, and all would have been without flaw but for this tiresome information she was forced to collect.

Verisschenzko had been detained in Paris. The events of the twenty-eighth of June at Serajevo were of deep moment to him, and it was not until the second week in July that he arrived at the Ritz, full of profound preoccupation.

Amaryllis had been to Harietta's dinners and dances, and now the Boleskis had been asked down to Ardayre in return for the three days at the end of the month, when the coming of age of the young Marquis of Bridgeborough would give occasion for great rejoicings, and Amaryllis herself would give a ball.

"You cannot ask people down to North Somerset in these days just for the pleasure of seeing you, my dear child," Lady de la Paule had said to her nephew's wife. "Each season it gets worse; one is flattered if one's friends answer an invitation to dinner even, or remain for half an hour when it is done. I do not know what things are coming to, etiquette of all sorts went long ago—now manners, and even decency have gone. We are rapidly becoming savages, openly seizing whatever good thing is offered to us no matter from whom, and then throwing it aside the instant we catch sight of something new. But one must always go with the tide unless one is strong enough to stem it, and frankly I am not. Now Bridgeborough's coming of age will make a nice excuse for you to have a party at Ardayre. How many people can you put up? Thirty guests and their servants at least, and seven or eight more if you use the agent's house."

So thus it had been arranged, and John expressed his pleasure that his sweet Amaryllis should show what a hostess she could be.

None but the most interesting people were invited, and the party promised to be the greatest success.

Two or three days before they were to go down, Amaryllis coming in late in the afternoon, found Verisschenzko's card.

"Oh! John!" she cried delightedly, "that very thrilling Russian whom we met in Paris has called. You remember he wrote to me some time ago and said he would let us know when he arrived. Oh! would not it be nice to have him at our party—let us telephone to him now!"

Verisschenzko answered the call himself, he had just come in; he expressed himself as enchanted at the thought of seeing her—and yes—with pleasure he would come down to Ardayre for the ball.

"We shall meet to-night, perhaps, at Carlton House Terrace at the German Embassy," he said, "and then we can settle everything."

Amaryllis wondered why she felt rather excited as she walked up the stairs—she had often thought of Verisschenzko, and hoped he would come to England. He was vivid and living and would help her to balance herself. She had thought while she dressed that her life had been one stupid rush with no end, since that night when they had talked of serious things at the Montivacchini hotel. She had need of the counsel he had promised to give her, for this heedless racket was not adding lustre to her soul.

Verisschenzko seemed to find her very soon—he was not one of those persons who miss things by vagueness. His yellow-green eyes were blazing when they met hers, and without any words he offered her his arm, foreign fashion, and drew her out on to the broad terrace to a secluded seat he had apparently selected beforehand, as there was no hesitancy in his advance towards this goal.

He looked at her critically for an instant when they were seated in the soft gloom.

"You are changed, Madame. Half the soul is awake now, but the other half has gone further to sleep."

"—Yes, I felt you would say that—I do not like myself," and she sighed.

"Tell me about it."

"I seem to be drifting down such a useless stream—and it is all so mad and aimless, and yet it is fun. But every one is tired and restless and nobody cares for anything real—I am afraid I am not strong enough to stand aside from it though, and I wonder sometimes what I shall become."

Verisschenzko looked at her earnestly—he was silent for some seconds.

"Fate may alter the atmosphere. There are things hovering, I fear, of which you do not dream, little protected English bride. Perhaps it is good that you live while you can."

"What things?"

"Sorrows for the world. But tell me, have you seen Harietta Boleski in her London role?"

"Yes—she is the greatest success—every one goes to her parties; she is coming to mine at Ardayre."

Verisschenzko raised his eyebrows, and nothing could have been more sardonically whimsical than his smile.

"I saw Stanislass this morning—he is almost gaga now—a mere cypher—she has destroyed his body, as well as his soul."

"They are both coming on the twenty-third."

"It will be an interesting visit I do not doubt—and I shall see the Family house!"

"I hope you will like it—I shall love to show it to you, and the pictures. It means so much to John."

"Have you met your cousin Denzil yet?".

Verisschenzko was studying her face; it had gained something, it was a little finer—but it had lost something too, and there was a shadow in her eyes.

"Denzil Ardayre? No—What made you mention him now?"

"I shall be curious as to what you think of him, he is so like—your husband, you know."

The subject did not interest Amaryllis; she wanted to hear more of the Russian's unusual views.

"You know London well, do you not?" she asked.

"Yes—I often came up from Oxford when I was there, and I have revisited it since. It is a sane place generally, but this year it would seem to be almost as desequilibre as the rest of the world."

"You give me an uneasy feeling, as though you knew that something dreadful was going to happen. What is it? Tell me."

"One can only speculate how soon a cauldron will boil over, one cannot be certain in what direction the liquid will fly. The whole world seems feverish; the spirit of progress has awakened after hundreds of years of sleep, and is disturbing everything. In all boilings the scum rises to the top; we are at the period when this has occurred—we can but wait—and watch."

"If we had a new religion?"

"It will come presently, the reign of mystical make-believe is past."

"But surely it is mysticism and idealism which make ordinary things divine!"

"Certainly when they are emplanted upon a true basis. I said 'make-believe'—that is what kills all good things—make-believe. Most of the present-day leaders are throwing dust in their followers' eyes—or their own. Priests and politicians, lawyers and financiers—all of them are afraid of the truth. Every one lives in a stupid atmosphere of self-deception. The religion of the future will teach each individual to be true to himself, and when that is accomplished the sixth root race will be born. Look at that man over there talking to a woman with haggard eyes—can you see them in the gloom? They have all the ugly entities around them, the spirits of morphine and nicotine—drawing misfortune and bodily decay. Every force has to have its congenial atmosphere, or it cannot exist; fishes cannot breathe on land."

Amaryllis looked at the pair; they were well-known people, the man celebrated in the literary and artistic section of the world of fashion—the woman of high rank and of refined intelligence.

Verisschenzko looked also. "I do not know either of their names," he said, "I am simply judging by the obvious deductions to be made by their appearances to any one who has developed intuition."

"How I wish I could learn to have that!"

"Read Voltaire's 'Zadig.' Deductive methods are shown in it useful to begin upon—observe everything about people, and then having seen results, work back to causes, and then realise that all material things are the physical expression of an etheric force, and as we can control the material, we need thus only attract what etheric waves we desire."

Amaryllis looked again at the pair—both were smoking idly, and she remembered having heard that they both "took drugs." It was a phrase which had meant nothing to her until now.

"You mean that because they smoke all the time, and it is said they take morphine piqures, that they are not only hurting their bodies, but drawing spiritual ills as well."

"Obviously. They have surrounded themselves with the drab demagnetising current which envelops the body when human beings give up their wills. It would be very difficult for anything good to pierce through such ambience. Have you ever remarked the strange ends of all people who take drugs? They seldom die natural, ordinary deaths. The evil entities which they have drawn round them by their own weakness, destroy them at last."

"I do not like the idea that there are these 'entities,' as you call them, all around us."

"There are not, they cannot come near us unless we allow them—have I not told you that the atmosphere must be congenial? Our own wills can create an armour through which nothing demagnetising can pass. It is weakness and drifting which are inexorably punished; they draw currents suitable for the vampires beyond to exist on."

"All this does sound so weird to me." Amaryllis was interested and yet repelled.

"Have you ever thought about Marconigrams and their etheric waves? No—not often. People just accept such things as facts as soon as they become commercial commodities—and only a few begin to speculate upon what such discoveries suggest, and the other possibilities which they could lead to. Nothing is supernatural; it is only that we are so ignorant. Some day I will take you to my laboratory in my home in Russia and show you the result of my experiments with vibrations and coloured lights."

"I should love that—but just now you troubled me—you seemed to include smoking in the things which brought evil—I smoke sometimes."

"So do I—will you have a Russian cigarette?"

He took out his case and offered her one, which she accepted. "Will it bring something bad?"

"Not more than a glass of wine," and he opened his lighter and bent nearer to her. "One glass of wine might be good for you, but twenty would make you very drunk and me very quarrelsome!"

They laughed softly and lit their cigarettes.

"I feel when I am with you that I am enveloped in some strong essence," and Amaryllis lay back with a satisfied sigh—"as though I were uplifted and awakened—it is very curious because you have such a wicked face, but you make me feel that I want to be good."

His queer, husky voice took on a new note.

"We have met of course in a former life—then probably I tempted you to break all vows—it was my fault. So in this life you are to tempt me—it may be—but my will has developed—I mean to resist. I want to place you as my joy of the spirit this time—something which is pure and beautiful apart from earthly things."

Into Amaryllis' mind there flashed the thought that if she saw him often, her emotions for him might not keep at that high level! Her eyes perhaps expressed this doubt, for Verisschenzko bent nearer.

"Another must fulfil that which must be denied to me. You are too young to remain free from emotion. Hold yourself until the right time comes."

Amaryllis wondered why he should speak as though it were an understood thing that she could feel no emotion for John. She resented this.

"I have my husband," she answered with dignity and a sweetly conventional air.

Verisschenzko laughed.

"You are delicious when you say things like that—loyal, and English, and proud. But listen, child—it is waste of time to have any dissimulation with me, we finished all those things when we were lovers in our other life. Now we must be frank and learn of each other. Shall it not be so?"

Amaryllis felt a number of things.

"Yes, you are right, we will always speak the truth."

"You see," he went on, "if you represent anything you must never injure it; you must destroy yourself if necessary in its service. You represent an ideal, the ideal of the perfect wife of the Ardayres. You must fulfil this role. I represent a leader of certain thought in my country. My soul is given to this—I must only indulge in through which nothing demagnetising can pass. It is weakness and drifting which are inexorably punished; they draw currents suitable for the vampires beyond to exist on."

"All this does sound so weird to me." Amaryllis was interested and yet repelled.

"Have you ever thought about Marconigrams and their etheric waves? No—not often. People just accept such things as facts as soon as they become commercial commodities—and only a few begin to speculate upon what such discoveries suggest, and the other possibilities which they could lead to. Nothing is supernatural; it is only that we are so ignorant. Some day I will take you to my laboratory in my home in Russia and show you the result of my experiments with vibrations and coloured lights."

"I should love that—but just now you troubled me—you seemed to include smoking in the things which brought evil—I smoke sometimes."

"So do I—will you have a Russian cigarette?"

He took out his case and offered her one, which she accepted. "Will it bring something bad?"

"Not more than a glass of wine," and he opened his lighter and bent nearer to her. "One glass of wine might be good for you, but twenty would make you very drunk and me very quarrelsome!"

They laughed softly and lit their cigarettes.

"I feel when I am with you that I am enveloped in some strong essence," and Amaryllis lay back with a satisfied sigh—"as though I were uplifted and awakened—it is very curious because you have such a wicked face, but you make me feel that I want to be good."

His queer, husky voice took on a new note.

"We have met of course in a former life—then probably I tempted you to break all vows—it was my fault. So in this life you are to tempt me—it may be—but my will has developed—I mean to resist. I want to place you as my joy of the spirit this time—something which is pure and beautiful apart from earthly things."

Into Amaryllis' mind there flashed the thought that if she saw him often, her emotions for him might not keep at that high level! Her eyes perhaps expressed this doubt, for Verisschenzko bent nearer.

"Another must fulfil that which must be denied to me. You are too young to remain free from emotion. Hold yourself until the right time comes."

Amaryllis wondered why he should speak as though it were an understood thing that she could feel no emotion for John. She resented this.

"I have my husband," she answered with dignity and a sweetly conventional air.

Verisschenzko laughed.

"You are delicious when you say things like that—loyal, and English, and proud. But listen, child—it is waste of time to have any dissimulation with me, we finished all those things when we were lovers in our other life. Now we must be frank and learn of each other. Shall it not be so?"

Amaryllis felt a number of things.

"Yes, you are right, we will always speak the truth."

"You see," he went on, "if you represent anything you must never injure it; you must destroy yourself if necessary in its service. You represent an ideal, the ideal of the perfect wife of the Ardayres. You must fulfil this role. I represent a leader of certain thought in my country. My soul is given to this—I must only indulge in that over which I am master. Indulgences are our recompenses, our rights, when we have obtained dominion and they have become our slaves; to be enjoyed only when, and for so long as, our wills permit. When you say a thing is 'plus fort que vous'—then you had better throw up the sponge—you have lost the fight, and your indulgence will scourge you with a scorpion whip."

"You say this, and yet you are so far from being an ascetic!"

"As far as possible, I hope! They are self-acknowledged failures; they dare not permit themselves the smallest indulgence, they are weaklings afraid to enter the arena at all. To me they are at a stage further back than the sensualists—what are they accomplishing? They have withered nature, they are things of nought! A man or woman should realise what plane he or she is living on, and try to live to the highest of the best of the physical, mental and moral life on that plane, but not try to alter all its workings, and live as though in a different sphere altogether, where another scheme of nature obtained. It is colossal presumption in human beings to give examples to be followed, which, should they be followed, would end the human race. The Supreme Being will end it in His own time; it is not for us to usurp authority."

"You reason in this in the same way that you did about the smoking."

"Naturally—that is the only form of sensible reasoning. You must keep your judgment perfectly balanced and never let it be obscured by prejudice, tradition, custom, or anything but the actual common-sense view of the case."

"I think we English like that better than any other quality in people—common sense."

Verisschenzko looked away from her to a new stream of guests who had come out on the terrace—a splendid-looking group of tall young men and exquisite women.

"With all your faults you are a great nation, because although these latter years seem often to have destroyed the sense of duty in the individual in regard to his own life, the ingrained sense of it had become a habit and the habit still continues in regard to the community—you are not likely to have upheavals of great magnitude here. Now all other countries are moved by different spirits, some by patriotism and gallantry like the French, some by superstition and ignorance worked on by mystic religion, as in my country—some by ruthless materialism like Germany; but that dull, solid sense of duty is purely English—and it is really a glorious thing."

Amaryllis thought how John represented it exactly!

"I feel that I want to do my duty," she said softly, "but..."

"Continue to feel that and Fate will show you the way. Now I must take you back to your husband whom I see in the distance there—he is with Harietta Boleski. I wonder what he thinks of her?"

"I have asked him! He says that she is so obvious as to be innocuous, and that he likes her clothes!"

Verisschenzko did not answer, and Amaryllis wondered if he agreed with John!

They had to pass along a corridor to reach the staircase, upon the landing of which they had seen Sir John and Madame Boleski leaning over the balustrade, and when they got there they had moved on out of sight, so Verisschenzko, bowing, left Amaryllis with Lady de la Paule.

As he retraced his steps later on he saw Sir John Ardayre in earnest conversation with Lemon Bridges, the fashionable rising surgeon of the day. They stood in an alcove, and Verisschenzko's alert intelligence was struck by the expression on John Ardayre's face—it was so sad and resigned, as a brave man's who has received death sentence. And as he passed close to them he heard these words from John: "It is quite hopeless then—I feared so—"

He stopped his descent for a moment and looked again—and then a sudden illumination came into his yellow-green eyes, and he went on down the stairs.

"There is tragedy here—and how will it affect the Lady of my soul?"

He walked out of the House and into Pall Mall, and there by the Rag met Denzil Ardayre!

"We seem doomed to have unexpected meetings!" cried that young man delightedly. "Here I am only up for one night on regimental business, and I run into you!"

They walked on together, and Denzil went into the Ritz with Verisschenzko and they smoked in his sitting-room. They talked of many things for a long time—of the unrest in Europe and the clouds in the Southeast—of Denzil's political aims—of things in general—and at last Verisschenzko said:

"I have just left your cousin and his wife at the German Embassy; they have now gone on to a ball. He makes an indulgent husband—I suppose the affair is going well?"

"Very well between them, I believe. That sickening cad Ferdinand is circulating rumours—that they can never have any children—but they are for his own ends. I must arrange to meet them when I come up next time—I hear that the family are enchanted with Amaryllis—"

"She is a thing of flesh and blood and flame—I could love her wildly did I think it were wise."

Denzil glanced sharply at his friend. He had not often known him to hesitate when attracted by a woman—

"What aspect does the unwisdom take?"

"Certain absorption—I have other and terribly important things to do. The husband is most worthy—one wonders what the next few years will bring. Their temperaments must be as the poles.

"No one seems to think of temperament when he marries, or heredity, or anything, but just desire for the woman—or her money—or something quite outside the actual fact." Denzil lit another cigarette. "Marriage appears a perfect terror to me—how could one know one was going to continue to feel emotion towards some one who might prove to be the most awful physical or mental disappointment on intimate acquaintance? I believe affaires de convenance selected with thought-out reasoning are the best."

Verisschenzko shrugged his shoulders.

"That is not necessary. If the brain is disciplined, it is in a condition to use its judgment, even when in love, and ought therefore to be able to resist the desire to mate if the woman's character or tendencies are unsuitable, but most men's brains are only disciplined in regard to mental things, and have no real control over their physical desires. I have been this morning with Stanislass Boleski—there is a case and a warning. Stanislass was a strong man with a splendid brain and immense ambition, but no dominion over his senses, so that Succubus has completely annihilated all force in him. He should have strangled her after the first etreinte as I should have done, had I felt that she could ever have any power over me!"

Denzil smiled—Stepan was such a mixture of tenderness and complete savagery.

"I always thought the Russian character was the most headstrong and undisciplined in the world, and took what it desired regardless of costs. But you belie it, old boy!"

"I early said to myself on looking at my countrymen—and especially my countrywomen—these people are half genius, half fool; they have all the qualities and ruin most of them through being slaves, not masters to their own desires. If with his qualities a Russian could be balanced and deductive, and rule his vagrant thoughts, to what height could he not attain!"

"And you have attained."

"I am on the road, but did not affairs of vital importance occupy me at the moment I might be capable of ancient excess!"

"It is as well for the head of the Ardayre family that you are occupied then!" and Denzil smiled, and then he said, his thoughts drifting back to what interested him most:

"You think Europe will be blazing soon, Stepan? I have wondered myself in the last month if this hectic peace could continue."

"It cannot. I am here upon business with great issues, but I must not speak of facts, and what I say now is not from my knowledge of current events, but from my study of etheric currents which the thoughts and actions of over-civilised generations have engendered. You do not cram a shell with high explosives and leave it among matches with impunity."

The two men looked at one another significantly, and then Denzil said:

"I think I will not retire from the old regiment yet—I shall wait another year."

"Yes—I would if I were you."

They smoked silently for a moment—Verisschenzko's Calmuck face fixed and inscrutable and Denzil's debonnaire English one usually grave.

"Some one told me that your friend, Madame Boleski, was having a tremendous success in London. I wish I could have got leave, I should like to have seen the whole thing."

"Harietta is enjoying her luck-moment; she is in her zenith. She has baffled me as to where she receives her information from—she is capable of betraying both sides to gain some material, and possibly trivial, end. She is worth studying if you do come up, for she is unique. Most criminals have some stable point in immorality; Harietta is troubled by nothing fixed, no law of God or man means anything to her, she is only ruled by her sense of self-preservation. Her career is picturesque."

"Had she ever any children?"

Verisschenzko crossed himself.

"Heaven forbid! Think of watching Harietta's instincts coming out in a child! Poor Stanislass is at least saved that!"

"What a terrible thought that would be to one! But no man thinks of such things in selecting a wife!"

"You will not marry yet—no?"

"Certainly not, there is no necessity that I should. Marriage is only an obligation for the heads of families, not for the younger branches."

"But if Sir John Ardayre has no son, you are—in blood—the next direct heir."

"And Ferdinand is the next direct heir-in-law—that makes one sick—"

Verisschenzko poured his friend out a whisky and soda and said smiling:

"Then let us drink once more to the Ardayre son!"


Lady de la Paule really felt proud of her niece; the party at Ardayre was progressing so perfectly. The guests had all arrived in time for the ball at Bridgeborough Castle on the twenty-third of July and had assisted next day at the garden party, and then a large dinner at Ardayre, and now on the last night of their stay Amaryllis' own ball was to take place.

All the other big country houses round were filled also, and nothing could have been gayer or more splendidly done than the whole thing.

John Ardayre had been quite enthusiastic about all the arrangements, taking the greatest pride in settling everything which could add lustre to his Amaryllis' success as a hostess.

The quantities of servants, the perfectly turned-out motors—the wonderful chef—all had been his doing, and when most of the party had retired to their rooms for a little rest before dinner on the twenty-fifth, the evening of the ball, Lady de la Paule and John's friend, Lady Avonwier, congratulated him, as he sat with them, the last ladies remaining, under the great copper beech tree on the lawn which led down to the lake.

"Everything has been perfect, has it not, Mabella?" Lady Avonwier said. "I have even been converted about your marvellous Madame Boleski! I confess I have avoided her all the season, because we Americans are far more exclusive than you English people in regard to whom we know of our own countrywomen, and no one would receive such a person in New York, but she is so luridly stupid, and such a decoration, that I quite agree you were right to invite her, John."

"She seems to me charming," Lady de la Paule confessed. "Not the least pretension, and her clothes are marvellous. You are abominably severe, Etta. I am quite sure if she wanted to she could succeed in New York."

"Mabella, you simple creature! She just cajoles you all the time—she has specialised in cajoling important great ladies! No American would be taken in by her, and we resent it in our country when an outsider like that barges in. But here, I admit, since she provides us with amusement, I have no objection to accepting her, as I would a new nigger band, and shall certainly send her a card for my fancy ball next week."

John Ardayre chuckled softly.

"That sound indicates?"—and Etta Avonwier flashed at him her lovely clever eyes.

John Ardayre did not answer in words, but both women joined in his smile.

"Yes, we are worldlings," Lady Avonwier admitted, "just measuring people up for what they can give us, it is the only way though when the whole thing is such a rush!"

"I am so sorry for the poor husband," and Lady de la Paule's fat voice was kindly. "He does look such a wretched, cadaverous thing, with that black beard and those melancholy black eyes, and emaciated face. Do you think she beats him when they are alone?"

"Who knows? She is so primitive, she may be capable even of that!"

"Her clothes are not primitive," and John Ardayre lighted a cigarette. "I don't think she really can be such a fool."

"I never suggested that she was a fool at all!" Lady Avonwier was decisive. "No one can be a fool who is as tenacious as she is—fools are vague people, who let things go. She is merely illiterate and stupid as an owl."

"I like your distinction between stupidity and foolishness!" John Ardayre often argued with Lady Avonwier; they were excellent friends.

"A stupid person is often a great rest and arrives—a fool makes one nervous and loses the game. But who is that walking with Amaryllis at the other side of the lake?"

John Ardayre looked up, and on over the water to the glory of the beech trees on the rising slope of the park, and there saw moving at the edge of them his wife and Verisschenzko, accompanied by two of the great tawny dogs.

"Oh! it is the interesting Russian whom we met in Paris, where all the charming ladies were supposed to be in love with him. He was to have come down for the whole three days. I suppose these Russian and Austrian rumours detained him, he has only arrived for to-night."

* * * * *

And across the lake Amaryllis was saying to Verisschenzko in her soft voice, deep as all the Ardayre voices were deep:

"I have brought you here so that you may get the best view of the house. I think, indeed, that it is very beautiful from over the water, do not you?"

Verisschenzko remained silent for a moment. His face was altered in this last week; it looked haggard and thinner, and his peculiar eyes were concentrated and intense.

He took in the perfect picture of this English stately home, with its Henry VII centre and watch towers, and gabled main buildings, and the Queen Anne added Square—all mellowed and amalgamated into a whole of exquisite beauty and dignity in the glow of the setting sun.

"How proud you should be of such possessions, you English. The accumulation of centuries, conserved by freedom from strife. It is no wonder you are so arrogant! You could not be if you had only memories, as we have, of wooden barracks up to a hundred and fifty years ago, and drunkenness and orgies, and beating of serfs. This is the picture our country houses call up—any of the older ones which have escaped being burnt. But here you have traditions of harmony and justice and obligations to the people nobody fulfilled." And then he took his hat off and looked up into the golden sky:

"May nothing happen to hurt England, and may we one day be as free."

A shiver ran through Amaryllis—but something kept her silent; she divined that her friend's mood did not desire speech from her yet. He spoke again and earnestly a moment or two afterwards.

"Lady of my soul—I am going away to-morrow into a frenzied turmoil. I have news from my country, and I must be in the centre of events; we do not know what will come of it all. I come down to-day at great sacrifice of time to bid you farewell. It may be that I shall never see you again, though I think that I shall; but should I not, promise me that you will remain my star unsmirched by the paltriness of the world, promise me that you will live up to the ideal of this noble home—that you will develop your brain and your intuition, that you will be forceful and filled with common sense. I would like to have moulded your spiritual being, and brought you to the highest, but it is not for me, perhaps, in this life—another will come. See that you live worthily."

Amaryllis was deeply moved.

"Indeed, I will try. I have seen so little of you, but I feel that I have known you always, and—yes—even I feel that it is true what you said," and she grew rosy with a sweet confusion—"that we were—lovers—I am so ignorant and undeveloped, not advanced like you, but when you speak you seem to awaken memories; it is as though a transitory light gleamed in dark places, and I receive flashes of understanding, and then it grows obscured again, but I will try to seize and hold it—indeed, I will try to do as you would wish."

They both looked ahead, straight at the splendid house, and then Amaryllis looked at Verisschenzko and it seemed as though his face were transfigured with some inward light.

"Strange things are coming, child, the cauldron has boiled over, and we do not know what the stream may engulf. Think of this evening in the days which will be, and remember my words."

His voice vibrated, but he did not look at her, but always across the lake at the house.

"Whenever you are in doubt as to the wisdom of a decision between two courses—put them to the test of which, if you follow it, will enable you to respect your own soul. Never do that which the inward You despises."

"And if both courses look equally good and it is merely a question of earthly benefit?"

Verisschenzko smiled.

"Never be vague. There is an Arab proverb which says: Trust in God but tie up your camel."

The setting sun was throwing its last gleams upon the windows of the high tower. Nothing more beautiful or impressive could have been imagined than the scene. The velvet lawn sloping down to the lake, with a group of trees to the right among which nestled the tiny cruciform ancient church, while in the distance, on all sides, stretched the vast, gloriously timbered park.

Verisschenzko gazed at the wonder of it, and his yellow-green eyes were wide with the vision it created in his brain.

No—this should never go to the bastard Ferdinand, whose life in Constantinople was a disgrace. This record of fine living and achievement of worthy Ardayres should remain the glory of the true blood.

He turned and looked at Amaryllis at his side, so slender, and strong, and young—and he said:

"It is necessary above all things that you cultivate a steadiness and clearness of judgment, which will enable you to see the great aim in a thing, and not be hampered by sentimental jingo and convention, which is a danger when a nature is as good and true, but as undeveloped, as yours. Whatever circumstance should arise in your life, in relation to the trust you hold for this family and this home, bring the keenest common sense to bear upon the matter, and keep the end, that you must uphold it and pass it on resplendent, in view."

Amaryllis felt that he was transmitting some message to her. His eyes were full of inspiration and seemed to see beyond.

What message? She refrained from asking. If he had meant her to understand more fully he would have told her plainly. Light would come in its own time.

"I promise," was all she said.

They looked at the great tower; the sun had left some of the windows and in one they could see the figure of a woman standing there in some light dressing-gown.

"That is Harietta Boleski," Verisschenzko remarked, his mood changing, and that penetrating and yet inscrutable expression growing in his regard. "It is almost too far away to be certain, but I am sure that it is she. Am I right? Is that window in her room?"

"Yes—how wonderful of you to be able to recognise her at that distance!"

"Of what is she thinking?—if one can call her planning thoughts! She does not gaze at views to appreciate the loveliness of the landscape; figures in the scene are all which could hold her attention—and those figures are you and me."

"Why should we interest her?"

"There are one or two reasons why we should. I think after all you must be very careful of her. I believe if she stays on in England you had better not let the acquaintance increase."

"Very well." Amaryllis again did not question him; she felt he knew best.

"She has been most successful here, and at the Bridgeborough ball she amused herself with a German officer, and left the other women's men alone. He was brought by the party from Broomgrove and was most empresse; he got introduced to her at once—just after we came in. I expect they will bring him to-night. He and she looked such a magnificent pair, dancing a quadrille. It was quite a serious ball to begin with! None of those dances of which you disapprove, and all the Yeomanry wore their uniforms and the German officer wore his too."

"He was a fine animal, then?"


"You said a pair—only an animal could make a pair with Harietta! Describe him to me. What was he like? And what uniform did he wear?"

Amaryllis gave a description, of height, and fairness, and of the blue and gold coat.

"He would have been really good-looking, only that to our eyes his hips are too wide."

"It sounds typically German—there are hundreds such there—some ordinary Prussian Infantry regiment, I expect. You say he was introduced to Harietta? They were not old friends—no?"

"I heard him ask Mrs. Nordenheimer, his hostess, who she was, in his guttural voice, and Mrs. Nordenheimer came up to me and presented him and asked me to introduce him to my guest. So I did. The Nordenheimers are those very rich German Jews who bought Broomgrove Park some years ago. Every one receives them now."

"And how did Harietta welcome this partner?"

"She looked a little bored, but afterwards they danced several times together."

"Ah!"—and that was all Verisschenzko said, but his thoughts ran: "An infantry officer—not a large enough capture for Harietta to waste time on in a public place—when she is here to advance herself. She danced with him because she was obliged to. I must ascertain who this man is."

Amaryllis saw that he was preoccupied. They walked on now and round through the shrubbery on the left, and so at last to the house again. Amaryllis could not chance being late.

Verisschenzko recovered from his abstraction presently and talked of many things—of the friendship of the soul, and how it can only thrive after there has been in some life a physical passionate love and fusion of the bodies.

"I want to think that we have reached this stage, Lady mine. My mission on this plane now is so fierce a one, and the work which I must do is so absorbing, that I must renounce all but transient physical pleasures. But I must keep some radiant star as my lodestone for spiritual delights, and ever since we met and spoke at the Russian Embassy it seems as though step by step links of memory are awakening and comforting me with knowledge of satisfied desire in a former birth, so that now our souls can rise to rarer things. I can even see another in the earthly relation which once was mine, without jealousy. Child, do you feel this too?"

"I do not know quite what I feel," and Amaryllis looked down, "but I will try to show you that I am learning to master my emotions, by thinking only of sympathy between our spirits."

"It is well—"

Then they reached the house and entered the green drawing-room in the Queen Anne Square, by one of the wide open windows, and there Amaryllis held out her two slim hands to Verisschenzko.

"Think of me sometimes, even amidst your turmoil," she whispered, "and I shall feel your ambience uplifting my spirit and my will."

"Lady of my Soul!" he cried, exalted once more, and he bent as though to kiss her hands, but straightened himself and threw them gently from him.

"No! I will resist all temptations! Now you must dress and dine, and dance, and do your duty—and later we will say farewell."

Harietta Boleski stamped across her charming chintz chamber in the great tower. She was like an angry wolf in the Zoo, she burst with rage. Verisschenzko had never walked by lakes with her, nor bent over with that air of devotion.

"He loves that hateful bit of bread and butter! But I shall crush her yet—and Ferdinand Ardayre will help me!"

Then she rang her bell violently for Marie, while she kicked aside Fou-Chow, who had travelled to England as an adjunct to her beauty, concealed in a cloak. His minute body quivered with pain and fear, and he looked up at her reproachfully with his round Chinese idol's eyes, then he hid under a chair, where Marie found him trembling presently and carried him surreptitiously to her room.

"My angel," she told him as they went along the passage, "that she-devil will kill thee one day, unless happily I can place thee in safety first. But if she does, then I will murder for myself! What has caused her fury tonight, some one has spoilt her game."

In the oak-panelled smoking room, deserted by all but these two, Verisschenzko spoke to Stanislass, hastily, and in his own tongue.

"The news is of vital importance, Stanislass. You must return with me to London; of all things you must show energy now and hold your men together. I leave in the morning. You hesitate!—impossible!—Harietta keeps you! Bah!—then I wash my hands of you and Poland. Weakling! to let a woman rule you. Well; if you choose thus, you can go by yourself to hell. I have done with you." And he strode from the room, looking more Calmuck and savage than ever in his just wrath. And when he had gone the second husband of Harietta leant forward and buried his head in his hands.

* * * * *

The picture Gallery made a brilliant setting for that gallant company! A collection of England's best, dancing their hardest to a stirring band, which sang when the tune of some popular Revue chorus came in.

"The Song of the Swan," Verisschenzko thought as he observed it all in the last few minutes before midnight. He must go away soon. A messenger had arrived in hot haste from London, motoring beyond the speed limit, and as soon as his servant had packed his things he must return and not wait for the morning. All relations between Austria and Servia had been broken off, the conflagration had begun, and no time must be wasted further. He must be in Russia as soon as it was possible to get there. He blamed himself for coming down.

"And yet it was as well," he reflected, because he had become awakened in regard to possible double dealing in Harietta. But where were his host and hostess—he must bid them farewell.

John Ardayre was valsing with Lady Avonwier and Harietta Boleski undulated in the arms of the tall German who had come with the party from Broomgrove—but Amaryllis for the moment was absent from the room.

"If I could only know who the beast is before I go, and where she has met him previously!" Verisschenzko's thoughts ran. "It is more than ever necessary that I master her—and there is so little time."

He waited for a few seconds, the dance was almost done, and when the last notes of music ceased and the throng of people swept towards him, he fixed Harietta with his eye.

Her evening so far had not been agreeable. She had not been able to have a word with Stepan, who had been far from her at the banquet before the ball. She was torn with jealousy of Amaryllis; and the advent of Hans, when she would have wished to have been free to re-grab Verisschenzko, was most unfortunate. It had not been altogether pleasant, his turning up at Bridgeborough, but at any rate that one evening was quite enough! She really could not be wearied with him more!

His new instructions to her from the higher command were most annoyingly difficult too—coming at a time when her whole mind was given to consolidating her position in England,—it was really too bad!

If only the tiresome bothers of these stupid old quarrelsome countries did not upset matters, she just meant to make Stanislass shut up his ugly old Polish home, and settle in some splendid country house like this, only nearer London. Now that she had seen what life was in England, she knew that this was her goal. No bothersome old other language to be learned! Besides, no men were so good-looking as the English, or made such safe and prudent lovers, because they did not boast. If any information she had been able to collect for Hans in the last year had helped his Ober-Lords to stir up trouble, she was almost sorry she had given it—unless indeed, ructions between those ridiculous southern countries made it so that she could remain in England, then it was a good thing. And Hans had assured her that England could not be dragged in. Then she laughed to herself as she always did if Hans coerced her—when she recollected how she had given his secrets away to Verisschenzko and that no matter how he seemed to compel her obedience, she was even with him underneath!

She looked now at the Russian standing there, so tall and ugly, and weirdly distinguished, and a wild passionate desire for him overcame her, as primitive as one a savage might have felt. At that moment she almost hated her late husband, for she dared not speak to Verisschenzko with Hans there. She must wait until Verisschenzko spoke to her. Hans could not prevent that, nor accuse her of disobeying his command. So that it was with joy that she saw the Russian approach her. She did not know that he was leaving suddenly, and she was wondering if some meeting could not be arranged for later on, when Hans would be gone.

"Good evening, Madame!" Verisschenzko said suavely. "May I not have the pleasure of a turn with you; it is delightful to meet you again."

Harietta slipped her hand out of Hans' arm and stood still, determined to secure Stepan at once since the chance had come.

Verisschenzko divined her intention and continued, his voice serious with its mock respect:

"I wonder if I could persuade you to come with me and find your husband. You know the house and I do not. I have something I want to talk to him about if you won't think me a great bore taking you from your partner," and he bowed politely to Hans.

Harietta introduced them casually, and then said archly:

"I am sure you will excuse me, Captain von Pickelheim. And don't forget you have the first one-step after supper!" So Hans was dismissed with a ravishing smile.

Verisschenzko had watched the German covertly and saw that with all his forced stolidity an angry gleam had come into his eyes.

"They have certainly met before—and he knows me—I must somehow make time," then, aloud:

"You are looking a dream of beauty to-night, Harietta," he told her as they walked across the hall. "Is there not some quiet corner in the garden where we can be alone for a few minutes. You drive me mad."

Harietta loved to hear this, and in triumph she raised her head and drew him into one of the sitting-rooms, and so out of the open windows on into the darkness beyond the limitations of the lawn.

Twenty minutes afterwards Verisschenzko entered the house alone, a grim smile of satisfaction upon his rugged countenance. Jealousy, acting on animal passion, had been for once as productive of information as a ruby ring or brooch—and what a remarkable type Harietta! Could there be anything more elemental on the earth! Meanwhile this lady had gained the ball-room by another door, delighted with her adventure, and the thought that she had tricked Hans!

"Have you seen our hostess, Madame?" the Russian asked, meeting Lady de la Paule. "I have been looking for her everywhere. Is not this a charming sight?"

They stayed and talked for a few minutes, watching the joyous company of dancers, among whom Amaryllis could now be seen. Verisschenzko wished to say farewell to her when the one-step should be done. They would all be going into supper, and then would be his chance. He could not delay longer—he must be gone.

He was paying little attention to what Lady de la Paule was saying—her fat voice prattled on:

"I hope these tiresome little quarrels of the Balkan peoples will settle themselves. If Austria should go to war with Servia, it may upset my Carlsbad cure."

Then he laughed out suddenly, but instantly checked himself.

"That would be too unfortunate, Madame, we must not anticipate such preposterous happenings!"

And as he walked forward to meet Amaryllis his face was set:

"Half the civilised world thinks thus of things. The sinister events in the Balkans convey no suggestions of danger, and only matter in that they could upset a Carlsbad cure! Alas! how sound asleep these splendid people are!"

He met Amaryllis and briefly told her that he must go. She left her partner and came with him to the foot of the staircase, which led to his room.

"Good-bye, and God keep you," she said feelingly, but she noticed that he did not even offer to take her hand.

"All blessings, my Star," and his voice was hoarse, then he turned abruptly and went on up the stairs. But when he reached the landing above he paused, and looked down at her, moving away among the throng.

"Sweet Lady of my Soul," he whispered softly. "After Harietta I could not soil—even thy glove!"


Events moved rapidly. Of what use to write of those restless, feverish days before the 4th of August, 1914? They are too well known to all the world. John, as ever, did his duty, and at once put his name down for active service, cajoled a medical board which would otherwise probably have condemned him and trained with the North Somerset Yeomanry in anticipation of being soon sent to France. But before all this happened, the night War was declared; he remained in his own sitting-room at Ardayre, and Amaryllis wondered, and towards dawn crept out of bed and listened in the passage, but no sound came from within the room.

How very unsatisfactory this strange reserve between them was becoming! Would she never be able to surmount it? Must they go on to the end of their lives, living like two polite friendly acquaintances, neither sharing the other's thoughts? She hardly realised that the War could personally concern John. The Yeomanry, she imagined, were only for home defence, so at this stage no anxiety troubled her about her husband.

The next day he seemed frightfully preoccupied, and then he talked to her seriously of their home and its traditions, and how she must love it and understand its meaning. He spoke too of his great wish for a child—and Amaryllis wondered at the tone almost of anguish in his voice.

"If only we had a son, Amaryllis, I would not care what came to me. A true Ardayre to carry on! The thought of Ferdinand here after me drives me perfectly mad!"

Amaryllis knew not what to answer. She looked down and clasped her hands.

John came quite close and gazed into her face, as if therein some comfort could be found; then he folded her in his arms.

"Oh! Amaryllis!" he said, and that was all.

"What is it? Oh! what does everything mean?" the poor child cried. "Why, why can't we have a son like other people of our age?"

John kissed her again.

"It shall be—it must be so," he answered—and framed her face in his hands.

"Amaryllis—I know you have often wondered whether I really loved you. You have found me a stupid, unsatisfactory sort of husband—indeed, I am but a dull companion at the best of times. Well, I want you to know that I do—and I am going to try to change, dear little girl. If I knew that I held some corner of your heart it would comfort me."

"Of course, you do, John. Alas! if you would only unbend and be loving to me, how happy we could be."

He kissed her once more. "I will try."

That afternoon he went up to London to his medical board, and Amaryllis was to join him in Brook Street on the following day.

She was stunned like every one else. War seemed a nightmare—an unreality—she had not grasped its meaning as yet. She thought of Verisschenzko and his words. What was her duty? Surely at a great crisis like this she must have some duty to do?

The library in Brook Street was a comfortable room and was always their general sitting-room; its windows looked out on the street.

That evening when John Ardayre arrived he paced up and down it for half an hour. He was very pale and lines of thought were stamped upon his brow.

He had come to a decision; there only remained the details of a course of action to be arranged.

He went to the telephone and called up the Cavalry Club. Yes, Captain Ardayre was in, and presently Denzil's voice said surprisedly:


"I heard by chance that you were in town. I suppose your regiment will be going out at once. It is your cousin, John Ardayre, speaking, we have not met since you were a boy. I have something rather vital I want to say to you. Could you possibly come round?"

The two voices were so alike in tone it was quite remarkable, each was aware of it as he listened to the other.

"Where are you, and what is the time?".

"I am in our house in Brook Street, number 102, and it is nearly seven. Could you manage to come now?"

There was a second or two's pause, then Denzil said:

"All right. I will get into a taxi and be with you in about five minutes," and he put the receiver down.

John Ardayre grew paler still, and sank into a chair. His hands were trembling, this sign of weakness angered him and he got up and rang the bell and ordered his valet who had come up with him, to bring him some brandy.

Murcheson was an old and valued servant, and he looked at his master with concern, but he knew him too to make any remark. If there was any one in the world beyond the great surgeon, Lemon Bridges, who could understand the preoccupations of John Ardayre, Murcheson was the man.

He brought the old Cognac immediately and retired from the room a moment or two before Denzil arrived. Very little trace of emotion remained upon the face of the head of the family when his cousin was shown in, and he came forward cordially to meet him. Standing opposite one another, they might have been brothers, not cousins, the resemblance was so strong! Denzil was perhaps fairer, but their heads were both small and their limbs had the same long lines. But where as John Ardayre suggested undemonstrative stolidity, every atom of the younger man was vitally alive.

His eyes were bluer, his hair more bronze, and exuberant perfect health glowed in his tanned fresh skin.

Both their voices were peculiarly deep, with the pronunciation of the words especially refined. John Ardayre said some civil things with composure, and Denzil replied in kind, explaining how he had been most anxious to meet John and Amaryllis and heal the breach the fathers had made.

John offered him a cigar, and finally the atmosphere seemed to be unfrozen as they smoked. But in Denzil's mind there was speculation. It was not for just this that he had been asked to come round.

John began to speak presently with a note of deep seriousness in his voice. He talked of the war and of his Yeomanry's going out, and of Denzil's regiment also. It was quite on the cards that they might both be killed—then he spoke of Ferdinand, and the old story of the shame, and he told Denzil of his boyhood and its great trials, and of his determination to redeem the family home and of the great luck which had befallen him in the city after the South African War—and how that the thought of worthily handing on the inheritance in the direct male line had become the dominating desire of his life.

At first his manner had been very restrained, but gradually the intense feeling which was vibrating in him made itself known, and Denzil grew to realise how profound was his love for Ardayre and how great his family pride.

But underneath all this some absolute agony must be wringing his soul.

Denzil became increasingly interested.

At last John seemed to have come to a very difficult part of his narration; he got up from his chair and walked rapidly up and down the room, then forced himself to sit down again and resume his original calm.

"I am going to trust you, Denzil, with something which matters far more than my life." John looked Denzil straight in the eyes. "And I will confide in you because you are next in the direct line. Listen very carefully, please, it concerns your honour in the family as well as mine. It would be too infamous to let Ardayre go to the bastard, Ferdinand, the snake-charmer's son, if, as is quite possible, I shall be killed in the coming time."

Denzil felt some strange excitement permeating him. What did these words portend? Beads of perspiration appeared on John's forehead, and his voice sunk so low that his cousin bent forward to be certain of hearing him.

Then John spoke in broken sentences, for the first time in his life letting another share the thoughts which tortured him, but the time was not for reticence. Denzil must understand everything so that he would consent to a certain plan. At length, all that was in John's heart had been made plain, and exhausted with the effort of his innermost being's unburdenment, he sank back in his chair, deadly pale. The quiet, waiting attitude in Denzil had given way to keenness, and more than once as he listened to the moving narration he had emitted words of sympathy and concern, but when the actual plan which John had evolved was unfolded to him, and the part he was to play explained, he rose from his chair and stood leaning on the high mantelpiece, an expression of excitement and illumination on his strong, good-looking face.

"Do not say anything for a little," John said. "Think over everything quietly. I am not asking you to do anything dishonourable—and however much I had hated his mother I would not ask this of you if Ferdinand were my father's son. You are the next real heir—Ferdinand could not be; my father had never met the woman until a month before he married her, and the baby arrived five months afterwards, at its full time. There was no question of incubators or difficulties and special precautions to rear him, nor was there any suggestion that he was a seven months' child. It was only after years that I found out when my father first saw the woman, but even before this proof there were many and convincing evidences that Ferdinand was no Ardayre."

"One has only to look at the beast!" cried Denzil. "If the mother was a Bulgarian, he's a mongrel Turk, there is not a trace of English blood in his body!"

"Then surely you agree with me that it would be an infamy if he should take the place of the head of the family, should I not survive?"

Denzil clenched his hands.

"There is no moral question attached, remember," John went on anxiously before he could reply. "There is only the question of the law, which has been tricked and defamed by my father, for the meanest ends of revenge towards me—and now we—you and I—have the right to save the family and its honour and circumvent the perfidy and weakness of that one man. Oh!—can't you understand what this means to me, since for this trust of Ardayre that I feel I must faithfully carry on, I am willing to—Oh!—my God, I can't say it. Denzil, answer me—tell me that you look at it in the same way as I do! You are of the family. It is your blood which Ferdinand would depose—the disgrace would be yours then, since if Ferdinand reigned I would have gone."

The two men were standing opposite one another, and both their faces were pale and stern, but Denzil's blue eyes were blazing with some wonderful new emotion, as they looked at John.

"Very well," he said, and held out his hand. "I appreciate the tremendous faith you have placed in me, and on my word of honour as an Ardayre, I will not abuse it, nor take advantage of it afterwards. My regiment will go out at once, I suppose, the chances are as likely that I shall be killed as you—"

They shook hands silently.

"We must lose no time."

Then John poured out two glasses of brandy, and the toast they drank was unspoken. But suddenly Denzil remembered as a strange coincidence that he was drinking it for the third time.

* * * * *

Amaryllis arrived from Ardayre the next afternoon, after John's medical board had been squared into pronouncing him fit for active service—and he met his wife at the station and was particularly solicitous of her well-being. He seemed to be unusually glad to see her, and put his arm round her in the motor driving to Brook Street. What would she like to do? They could not, of course, go to the theatre, but if she would rather they could go out to a restaurant to dine—there were going to be all kinds of difficulties about food. Amaryllis, who responded immediately to the smallest advance on his part, glowed now with fond sweetness. She had been so miserable without him; so crushed and upset by the thought of war, and his possible participation in it. All the long night, alone at Ardayre, she had tried to realise what it all would mean. It was too stupendous, she could not grasp it as yet, it was just a blank horror. And now to be in the motor and close to him, and everything ordinary and as usual seemed to drive the hideous fact further and further away. She would not face it for to-night, she would try to be happy and banish the remembrance. No one knew what was happening, nor if the Expeditionary Force had or had not crossed to France. John asked her again what she would like to do.

She did not want to go out at all, she told him; if the kitchenmaid and Murcheson could find them something to eat she would much rather dine alone with him, like a regular old Darby and Joan pair—and afterwards she would play nice things to him, and John agreed.

When she came down ready for dinner, she was radiant; she had put on a new and ravishing tea-gown and her grey eyes were shining with a winsome challenge, and her beautiful skin was brilliant with health and freshness. A man could not have desired a more delectable creature to call his own.

John thought so and at dinner expanded and told her so. He was not a practised lover; women had played a very small part in his life—always too filled with work and the one dominating idea to make room for them. He had none of the tender graciousness ready at his command which Denzil would very well have known how to show. But he loved Amaryllis, and this was the first time he had permitted the expression of his emotion to appear.

She became ever more fascinating, and at length unconscious passion grew in her glance. John said some rather clumsy but loving things, and when they went back to the library he slipped his arm round her, and drew her to his side.

"I love to be near you, John," she whispered; "I like your being so tall and so distinguished-looking. I like your clothes—they are so well made—" and then she wrinkled her pretty nose—"and I adore the smell of the stuff you put on your hair! Oh! I don't know—I just want to be in your arms!"

John kissed her. "I must give you a bottle of that lotion—it is supposed to do wonders for the hair. It was originally made by an old housekeeper of my mother's family in the still room, and I have always kept the receipt—there are cloves in it and some other aromatic herbs."

"Yes, that is what I smell, like a clove carnation—it is divine. I wonder why scents have such an effect upon one—don't you? Perhaps I am a very sensuous creature—they can make me feel wicked or good—some scents make me deliciously intoxicated—that one of yours does—when I get near you—I want you to hold me and kiss me—John."

Every fibre of John Ardayre's being quivered with pain. The cruel, ironical bitterness of things.

"I've never smelt this same scent on any one else," she went on, rubbing her soft cheek up and down against his shoulder in the most alluring way. "I should know it anywhere for it means just my dear—John!"

He turned away on the pretence of getting a cigarette; he knew that his eyes had filled with tears.

Then Murcheson came into the room with the coffee, and this made a break—and he immediately asked her to play to him, and settled himself in one of the big chairs. He was too much on the rack to continue any more love-making then; "what might have been" caused too poignant anguish.

He watched her delicate profile outlined against the curtain of green silk. It was so pure and young—and her long throat was white as milk. If this time next year she should have a child—a son—and he, not killed, but sitting there perhaps watching her holding it. How would he feel then? Would the certainty of having an Ardayre carry on heal the wild rebellion in his soul?

"Ah, God!" he prayed, "take away all feeling—reward this sacrifice—let the family go on."

"You don't think you will have really to go to the war, do you, John?" Amaryllis asked after she left the piano. "It will be all over, won't it, before the New Year, and in any case the Yeomanry are only for home defence, aren't they?" and she took a low seat and rested her head against his arm.

John stroked her hair.

"I am afraid it will not be over for a long time, Amaryllis. Yes, I think we shall go out and pretty soon. You would not wish to stop me, child?"

Amaryllis looked straight in front of her.

"What is this thing in us, John, which makes us feel that—yes, we would give our nearest and dearest, even if they must be killed? When the big thing comes even into the lives which have been perhaps all frivolous like mine—it seems to make a great light. There is an exaltation, and a pity, and a glory, and a grief, but no holding back. Is that patriotism, John?"

"That is one name for it, darling."

"But it is really beyond that in this war, because we are not going to fight for England, but for right. I think that feeling that we must give is some oblation of the soul which has freed itself from the chains of the body at last. For so many years we have all been asleep."

"This is a rude awakening."

They were silent for a little while, each busy with unusual thoughts.

There was a sense of nearness between them—of understanding, new and dangerously sweet.

Amaryllis felt it deliciously, sensuously, and took joy in that she was touching him.

John thrust it away.

"I must get through to-night," he thought, "but I cannot if this hideous pain of knowledge of what I must renounce conquers me—I must be strong."

He went on stroking her hair; it made her thrill and she turned and bit one of his fingers playfully with a wicked little laugh.

"I wish I knew what I am feeling, John," she whispered, and her eyes were aflame, "I wish I knew—"

"I must teach you!" and with sudden fierceness he bent down and kissed her lips.

Then he told her to go to bed.

"You must be tired, Amaryllis, after your journey. Go like a good child."

She pouted. She was all vibrating with some totally new and overmastering emotion. She wanted to stay and be made love to. She wanted—she knew not what, only everything in her was thrilling with passionate warmth.

"Must I? It is only ten."

"I have a frightful lot of business things to write tonight, Amaryllis. Go now and sleep, and I will come and wake you about twelve!" He looked lover-like. She sighed.

"Ah! if you would only come now!"

He kissed her almost roughly again and led her to the door. And he stood watching her with burning eyes as she went up the stairs.

Then he came back and rang the bell.

"I shall be very late, Murcheson—do not sit up, I will turn out the lights. Good-night."

"Very good, Sir John."

And the valet left the room.

But John Ardayre did not write any business letters; he sank back into his great leather chair—his lips were trembling, and presently sobs shook him, and he leaned forward and buried his face in his hands.

Just before twelve had struck, he went out into the hall, and turned off the light at the main. The whole house would now be in absolute darkness but for an electric torch he carried. He listened—there was not a sound.

Then he crept quietly up to his dressing room and returned with a bottle of the clove-scented hair lotion.

"What a mercy she spoke of it," his thoughts ran. "How sensitive women are—I should never have remembered such a thing."

Yes—now there was a sound.

* * * * *

Midnight had struck—and Amaryllis, sleeping peacefully, had been dreaming of John.

"Oh! dearest," she whispered drowsily, as but half awakened, she felt herself being drawn into a pair of strong arms—"Oh!—you know I love that scent of cloves—Oh!—I love you, John!"


When Amaryllis awoke in the morning her head rested on John's breast, and his arm encircled her. She raised herself on her elbow and looked at him. He was still asleep—and his face was infinitely sad. She bent over and kissed him with shy tenderness, but he did not move, he only sighed heavily as he lay there.

Why should he look so sad, when they were so happy?

She thought of loving things he had said to her at dinner—and then the afterwards!—and she thrilled with emotion. Life seemed a glorious thing and—But John was sad, of course, because he must go away. The recollection of this fact came upon her suddenly like a blast of cold air. They must part. War hung there with its hideous shadow, and John must be conscious of it even in his dreams, that was why he sighed.

The irony of things—now—when—Oh! how cruel that he must go.

Then John awoke with a shudder, and saw her there leaning over him with a new soft love light in her eyes, and he realised that the anguish of his calvary had only just begun.

She was perfectly exquisite at breakfast, a fresh and tender graciousness radiated in her every glance; she was subtle and captivating, teasing him that he had been so silent in the night. "Why wouldn't you talk to me, John? But it was all divine, I did not mind." Then she became full of winsome ways and caresses, which she had hitherto been too timid to express; and every fond word she spoke stabbed John's heart.

Could she not come and stay somewhere near so as to be with him while he was in training? It was unbearable to remain alone.

But he told her that this would be impossible and that she must go back to Ardayre.

"I will get leave, if there is a chance, dear little girl."

"Oh! John, you must indeed."

After he had gone out to the War Office, she sang as she undid a bundle of late roses he had sent her from Soloman's, on his way.

She must herself put them in water; no servant should have this pleasing task. Was it the thought of the imminence of separation which had altered John into so dear a lover? She went over his words there in the library. She relived the joy of his sudden fierce kiss, when he had said that he must teach her as to what her emotions meant.

Ah! how good to learn, how all glorious was life and love!

"Sweetheart," the word rang in her ears. He had never called her that before! Indeed, John rarely ever used any term of endearment, and never got beyond "Dear" or "Darling" before. But now it was an exquisite remembrance! Just the murmured word "Sweetheart!" whispered softly again and again in the night.

John came back to lunch, but two of the de la Paule family dropped in also, and the talk was all of war, and the difficulty of getting money at the banks, and how food would go on, and what the whole thing would mean.

But over Amaryllis some spell had fallen—nothing seemed a reality, she could not attend to ordinary things, she felt that she but moved and spoke as one still in a dream.

The world, and life, and death, and love, were all a blended mystery which was but beginning to unravel for her and drew her nearer to John.

The days went on apace.

John in camp thanked God for the strenuous work of his training that it kept him so occupied that he had barely time to think of Amaryllis or the tragedy of things. When he had left her on the following afternoon, the seventh of August, she had returned to Ardayre alone and began the knitting and shirt-making and amateurish hospital committees which all well-meaning English women vaguely grasped at before the stern necessities brought them organised work to do. Amaryllis wrote constantly to John—all through August—and many of the letters contained loving allusions which made him wince with pain.

Then the awful news came of Mons, then the Marne—and the Aisne—awful and glorious, and a hush and mourning fell over the land, and Amaryllis, like every one else, lost interest in all personal things for a time.

A young cousin had been killed and many of her season's partners and friends, and now she knew that the North Somerset Yeomanry would shortly go out and fight as they had volunteered at once. She was very miserable. But when September grew, in spite of all this general sorrow, a new horizon presented itself, lit up as if by approaching dawn, for a hope had gradually developed—a hope which would mean the rejoicing of John's heart.

And the day when first this possibility of future fulfilment was pronounced a certainty was one of almost exalted beatitude, and when Doctor Geddis drove away down the Northern Avenue, Amaryllis seized a coat from the folded pile of John's in the hall, and walked out into the park hatless, the wind blowing the curly tendrils of her soft brown hair, a radiance not of earth in her eyes. The late September sun was sinking and gilding the windows of the noble house, and she turned and looked back at it when she was far across the lake.

And the whole of her spirit rose in thankfulness to God, while her soul sang a glad magnificat.

She, too, might hand on this great and splendid inheritance! She, too, would be the mother of Ardayres!

And now to write to John!

That was a fresh pleasure! What would he say? What would he feel? Dear John! His letters had been calm and matter of fact, but that was his way. She did not mind it now. He loved her, and what did words matter with this glorious knowledge in her heart?

To have a baby! Her very own—and John's!

How wonderful! How utterly divine—!

Her little feet hardly touched the moss beneath them, she wanted to skip and sing.

Next May! Next May! A Spring flower—a little life to care for when war, of course, would have ended and all the world again could be happy and young!

And then she returned by the tiny ancient church. She had the key of it, a golden one which John had given her on their first coming down. It hung on her bracelet with her own private key.

The sun was pouring through the western window, carpeting the altar steps in translucent cloth of gold.

Amaryllis stole up the short aisle, and paused when she came between the two tall canopied tombs of recumbent sixteenth century knights, which made so dignified a screen for the little side aisles—and then she moved on and knelt in the shaft of the sunlight there at the carved rails.

And no one ever raised to God a purer or more fervent prayer.

She stayed until the sun sunk below the window, and then she rose and went back to the house, and up to her cedar room. And now she must write to John!

She began—once—twice—but tore up each sheet. Her news was a supreme happiness, but so difficult to transmit!

At last she finished three sides of her own rather large sized note-paper, but as she read over what she had written, she was not quite content; it did not express all that she desired John to know.

But how could a mere letter convey the wordless gladness in her heart?

She wanted to tell him how she would worship their baby, and how she would pray that they should be given a son—and how she would remember all his love words spoken that last time they were together, and weave the joy of them round the little form, so that it should grow strong and beautiful and radiant, and come to earth welcomed and blessed!

Something of all this finally did get written, and she concluded thus:

"John, is it not all wonderful and blissful and mysterious, this coming proof of our love? And when I lie awake I say over and over again the sweet name you called me, and which I want to sign! I am not just Amaryllis any longer, but your very own 'Sweetheart'!"

John received this letter by the afternoon post in camp. He sat down alone in his tent and read and re-read each line. Then he stiffened and remained icily still.

He could not have analysed his emotions. They were so intermixed with thankfulness and pain—and underneath there was a fierce, primitive jealousy burning.

"Sweetheart!" he said aloud, as though the word were anathema! "And must I call her that 'Sweetheart'! Oh! God, it is too hard!" and he clenched his hands.

By the same post came a letter from Denzil, of whose movements he had asked to be kept informed, saying that the 110th Hussars were going out at once, so that they would probably soon meet in France.

Then John wrote to Amaryllis. The very force of his feelings seemed to freeze his power of expression, and when he had finished he knew that it was but a cold, lifeless thing he had produced, quite inadequate as an answer to her tender, exalted words.

"My poor little girl," he sighed as he read it. "I know this will disappoint her. What a hideous, sickening mockery everything is."

He forced himself to add a postscript, a practice very foreign to his usual methodical rule. "Never forget that I love you, Amaryllis—Sweetheart!" he said.

And then he went to his Colonel and asked for two days' leave, and when it was granted for the following Saturday and Monday he wired to his wife asking her to meet him in Brook Street.

"I must see her—I cannot bear it," he cried to himself.

And late at night he wrote to Denzil—it was just that he should do this.

"My wife is going to have a baby—if only it should be a son, then it will not so much matter if both of us are killed, at least the family will be saved, and be able to carry oh."

He tried to make the letter cordial. Denzil had behaved with the most perfect delicacy throughout, he must admit, and although they had met once and exchanged several letters, not the faintest allusion to the subject of their talk in the library at Brook Street had ever been made by him.

Denzil had indeed acted and written as though such knowledge between them did not exist. He—Denzil—in these last seven weeks had been extremely occupied, and while his forces were concentrated upon the exhilarating preparations for war, it would happen in rare moments before sleep claimed him at night that he would let his thoughts conjure a waking dream, infinitely, mystically sweet. And every pulse would thrill with ecstasy, and then his will would banish it, and he would think of other subjects.

He could not face the marvel of his emotions at this period, nor dwell upon the romantically exciting aspect of some things.

He was up in London upon equipment business on the very Saturday that John got leave, and he was due to dine at the Carlton with Verisschenzko who had that day arrived on vital matters bent.

As they came into the hall, a man stopped to talk to the Russian, and Denzil's eyes wandered over the unnumerous and depressed looking company collected waiting for their parties to arrive. War had even in those early Autumn days set its grim seal upon this festive spot. People looked rather ashamed of being seen and no one smiled. He nodded to one or two friends, and then his glance fell upon a beautiful, slim, brown-haired girl, sitting quietly waiting in an armchair by the restaurant steps.

She wore a plain black frock, but in her belt one huge crimson clove carnation was unostentatiously tucked.

"What a lovely creature!" his thoughts ran, and Verisschenzko turning from his acquaintance that moment, he said to him as they started to advance:

"Stepan, if you want to see something typically English and perfectly exquisite, look at that girl in the armchair opposite where the band used to be. I wonder who she is?"

"What luck!" cried Verisschenzko. "That is your cousin, Amaryllis Ardayre—come along!"

And in a second Denzil found himself being introduced to her, and being greeted by her with interested cordiality, as befitted their cousinly relationship.

But Verisschenzko, whose eyes missed nothing, remarked that under his sunburn, Denzil had grown suddenly very pale. Amaryllis was enchanted to see her friend, the Russian. John had gone to the telephone, it appeared—and yes, they were dining alone—and, of course, she was sure John would love to amalgamate parties, it was so nice of Verisschenzko to think of it! There was John now.

The blood rushed back to Denzil's heart, and the colour to his face—he had only murmured a few conventional words. Mercifully John would decide the matter—it was not his doing that he and Amaryllis had met.

John caught sight of the three as he came along the balcony from the telephone, so that he had time to take in the situation; he saw that the meeting was quite imprevu, and he had, of course, no choice but to accept Verisschenzko's suggestion with a show of grace. At that very moment, before they could enter the restaurant, and re-arrange their tables, Harietta Boleski and her husband swept upon them—they were staying in the hotel. Harietta was enraptured.

What a delightful surprise meeting them! Were they all just together, would they not dine with her?

She purred to John, while her eyes took in with satisfaction Denzil's extraordinary good looks—and there was Stepan, too! Nothing could be more agreeable than to scintillate for them both.

John hailed their advent with relief: it would relax the intolerable strain which both he and Denzil would be bound to have to experience. So looking at the rest of the party, he indicated that he thought they would accept. It suited Verisschenzko also for his own reasons. And any suggestion to enlarge the intimate number of four would have been received by Denzil with graciousness.

He had not imagined that he would feel such profound emotion on seeing Amaryllis, the intensity of it caused him displeasure. It was altogether such a remarkable situation. He knew that it would have been of thrilling interest to him had it not been for the presence of John. His knowledge of what John must be suffering, and the knowledge that John was aware of what he also must be feeling, turned the whole circumstance into discomfort.

As soon as he recalled himself to Madame Boleski they all went into the restaurant to the Boleski table, just inside the door, by the window on the right. Harietta put John on one side of her and Denzil at the other, and beyond were Verisschenzko and her husband, with Amaryllis between, who thus sat nearly opposite Denzil, with her back to the room.

Harietta, when she desired to be, was always an inspiriting hostess, making things go. She intended to do her best to-night. The turn affairs had taken, England being at war, was quite too tiresome. It had spoilt all her country house visits and nullified much of the pleasure and profit she was intending to reap from her now secured position in this promised land.

Stanislass, too, had been difficult, he had threatened to go back to Poland immediately, which he explained was his obvious duty to do—but she had fortunately been able to crush that idea completely with tears and scenes. Then he suggested Paris, but information from Hans gave her occasion to think this might not be a comfortable or indeed quite a safe spot, and in all cases if the Frenchmen were fighting for dear life they would not have leisure to entertain her, therefore, dull and gloomy as England had become, she preferred to remain.

Hans, too, had given her orders. For the present London must be her home, and the lease of the Mount Lennard house in Grosvenor Square having expired, they had moved to the Carlton Hotel.

The misery of war, the holocaust of all that was noblest, left her absolutely cold. It was certainly a pity that those darling young guardsmen she had danced with should have had to be killed, but there was never any use in crying over spilt milk—better look out for new ones coming on. She was quite indifferent as to which country won. It was still a great bother collecting information for her former husband, but he threatened terrible reprisals if she refused to go on, and as in her secret heart she thought that there was no doubt as to who would be victor, she felt it might be wiser to remain on good terms with the power she believed would win!

Ferdinand Ardayre had been very helpful all the summer—he had moved from the Constantinople branch of his business to one in Holland and had just returned to England now; he was, in fact, coming to see her later on when she should have packed Stanislass safely off to the St. James' Club.

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