The Price of Things
by Elinor Glyn
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"Denzil, of course I will."

He sighed a little.

"The old order made England great—but that cycle is over for all the world—and what we shall have to do is to stand steady and try to direct the new on-rush, so that it makes us greater and does not sweep civilisation into darkness, as when Rome fell. It may be a fairly easy matter because, as Stepan says, we have got such fundamental common sense. It would be much less hard if the people at the top were really courageous and unhampered by trying to secure votes, or whatever it is, which makes them wobble and surrender at the wrong moment. If the politicians could have that dogged, serene steadfastness which the Tommies, and almost every man has in the trenches, how supreme we should be—!"

"I hope so, but one must have vision as well so that one can look right ahead and not stumble over retained old prejudices; people so often want a thing and yet have not will enough to eliminate qualities in themselves which must obviously prevent their obtaining their desire."

Denzil was not looking at her now, he was gazing ahead with his blue eyes filled with light, and she saw that there was something far beyond the physical magnetism which drew her to him, and a pride and joy filled her. She would indeed be his helpmate in all his undertakings and striving for noble ends. They talked for some time of these things and their plans to aid in their fulfilment, and then they gradually spoke of Verisschenzko and Amaryllis asked what was the latest news—he was in Russia, she supposed.

"Stepan will be arriving in London next week. I heard from him to-day. Won't you ask him down, darling, to spend the New Year with us here—it would be so good to see the dear old boy again."

This was agreed upon, and then they drifted back to lovers' whisperings, and presently they said a fond good-night.

* * * * *

Christmas Day of 1915, and the weeks which followed were like some happy dream for Denzil and Amaryllis. Each hour seemed to discover some new aspect which caused further understanding and love to augment. They spent long late afternoons in the cedar parlour dipping into books and a delicious pleasure was for Amaryllis to be nestled in Denzil's arms on the sofa while he read aloud to her in his deep, magnetic voice.

Beatrice Ardayre at this period was like a pleased mother cat purring in the sun while her kittens gambol. Her well-beloved was content, and she was satisfied. She always seemed to be there when wanted and yet to leave the lovers principally to themselves.

Another of their joys was to motor about the beautiful country, exploring the old, old churches and quaint farmhouses and manors with which North Somerset abounds; and they went all over the estate also and saw all the people who were their people and their friends. The union was thoroughly approved of, and although the engagement was not to be officially announced until after the New Year it was quite understood, as the tenants had all heard of John's instructions in his will. But perhaps the most supreme joy of all was when they could play with the baby Benedict together alone for half an hour before he went to bed. Then they were just as foolish and primitive as any other two young things with their firstborn. He was a very fine and forward baby and already expressed a spirit and will of his own, and it always gave Denzil the very strangest thrill when he seized and clung firmly to one of his fingers with his tiny, strong, chubby hand. And over all his qualities and perfections his parents then said wonderful things together!

Every subtle and exquisite pleasure, mystical, symbolical and material, which either had ever dreamed of as connected with this living proof of love, was realised for them. And to know that soon, soon, they would be united for always—wedded—not merely engaged. Oh! that was glorious—when passion need be under no restraint—when there need be no good-night!

For in this the chivalry of Denzil never failed—and each day they grew to respect each other more.

Verisschenzko was to arrive in time for dinner on the last day of the old year. That afternoon was one of even unusually perfect happiness—motoring slowly round the park and up on to the hills in Amaryllis' little two-seater which she drove herself. They got out at the top and leaned upon a gate from which they seemed to be looking down over the world. Peaceful, smiling, prosperous England! Miles and miles of her fairest country lay there in front of them, giving no echo of war.

"If we had been born sixty years ago, Denzil, what different thoughts this view would be creating in our minds. We would have no speculation—no uncertainty—we should feel just happy that it is ours and would be ours for ever! The world was asleep then!"

"Stepan would say that it was resting before the throes of struggle must begin. Now we are going to face something much greater than the actual war in France, but if we are strong we ought to come through. We have always been saner than other peoples, so perhaps our upheaval will be saner too."

"Whatever there is to face, we shall be together, Denzil, and nothing can really matter then—and we must make our little Benedict armed for the future, so that he will be fitted to cope with the conditions of his day."

"Look there at the blue distance, darling, could anything be more peaceful? How can anyone in the country realise that not two hundred miles away this awful war is grinding on?"

Denzil put an arm round her and drew her close to him and clasped her fondly.

"But just for a little we must try to forget about it. I never dreamed of such perfect happiness as we are having, Sweetheart,—my own!"

"Nor I, Denzil,—I am almost afraid—"

But he kissed her passionately and bade this thought begone. Afraid of what? Nothing mattered since they would always be together. February would soon come, and then they would never part again.

So the vague foreboding passed from Amaryllis' heart, and in fond visionings they whispered plans for the spring and the summer and the growing years. And so at last they returned to the house and found the after-noon post waiting for them. Filson had just brought it in and Amaryllis' letters lay in a pile on her writing table.

There happened to be none for Denzil and he went over to the fireplace and was stroking the head of Mercury, the greatest of the big tawny dogs, when he was startled by a little ominous cry from his Beloved, and on looking up he saw that she had sunk into a chair, her face deadly pale, while there had fluttered to the floor at her feet a torn envelope and a foreign looking postcard.

What could this mean?


Verisschenzko had come straight through from Petrograd to England. He had been delayed and had never returned to Paris since September. He knew nothing of Harietta's sacrilege as yet. But he had at last accumulated sufficient proof against her to have her entirely in his hands.

He thought over the whole matter as he came down in the train to Ardayre. She was a grave danger to the Allies and had betrayed them again and again. He must have no mercy. Her last crimes had been against France, her punishment would be easier to manage there.

The strain of cruelty in his nature came uppermost as he reviewed the evil which she had done. Stanislass' haunted face seemed to look at him out of the mist of the half-lit carriage. What might not Poland have accomplished with such a leader as Boleski had been before this baneful passion fell upon him! Then he conjured up the? imaged faces of the brave Frenchmen who were betrayed by Harietta to Hans, and shot in Germany.

A spy's death in war time was not an ignoble one, and they had gone there with their lives in their hands. Had Harietta been true to that side, and had she been acting from patriotism, he could have desired to save her the death sentence now. But she had never been true; no country mattered to her; she had given to him secrets as well as to Hans! Then he laughed to himself grimly. So her danseur at the Ardayre ball was the first husband! The man who used to beat her with a stick—and who had let her divorce him in obedience to the higher command!

How clever the whole thing was! If it had not all been so serious, it would have been interesting to allow her to live longer to watch what next she would do, but the issues at stake were too vital to delay. He would not hesitate; he would denounce her to the French authorities immediately on his return to Paris, and without one qualm or regret. She had lived well and played "crooked"—and now it was meet that she should pay the price.

Filson announced him in the green drawing room when he reached Ardayre, but only Denzil rose to greet him and wrung his hand. He noticed that his friend's face looked stern and rather pale.

"I'm so awfully glad that you have come, Stepan," and they exchanged handshakes and greetings. "You are about the only person I should want to see just now, because you know the whole history. Something unprecedented has happened. A communication has come apparently from John to Amaryllis from a prisoners' camp in Germany, and yet as far as one can be certain of anything I am certain that I saw him die—"

Verisschenzko was greatly startled. What a frightful complication it would make should John be alive!

"The letter—merely a postcard enclosed in an envelope—came by this afternoon's post—and as you can understand, it has frightfully upset us all. It is a sort of thing about which one cannot analyse one's feelings. John had a right to his life and we ought to be glad—but the idea of giving up Amaryllis—of having all the suffering and the parting again—Stepan, it is cruelly hard."

Verisschenzko sat down in one of the big chairs, and Euterpe, the lesser tawny dog, came and pushed her nose into his hand. He patted her silky head absently. He was collecting his thoughts; the shock of this news was considerable and he must steady his judgment.

"John wrote to her himself, you say? It is not a message through a third person—no?"

"It appears to be in his own writing." Denzil stood leaning on the mantelpiece, and his face seemed to grow more haggard with each word. "Merely saying that he was taken prisoner by the enemy when they made the counter attack, and that he had been too ill to write or speak until now. I can't understand it—because they did not make the counter attack until after I was carried in—and even though I was unconscious then, the stretcher bearers must have seen John when they lifted me if he had been there. Nothing was found but his glasses and we concluded another shell had burst somewhere near his body after I was carried in. Stepan, I swear to God I saw him die."

"It sounds extraordinary. Try to tell me every detail, Denzil."

So the story of John's last moments was gone over again, and all the most minute events which had occurred. And at the end of it the two solid facts stood out incontrovertibly—John's body was never found, but Denzil had seen him die.

"How long will it take to communicate with him, I wonder? We can through the American Ambassador, I suppose, because he gives no address. It must be awful for him lying there wounded with no news. I say this because I suppose I must accept his own writing, but I, cannot yet bring myself to believe that he can be alive."

Verisschenzko was silent for a moment, then he asked:

"May I see my Lady Amaryllis?"

"Yes, she told me to bring you to her as soon as I should have explained to you the whole affair. Come now."

They went up the stairs together, and they hardly spoke a word. And when they reached the cedar parlour Denzil let Verisschenzko go in in front of him.

"I have brought Stepan to you," he told Amaryllis. "I am going to leave you to talk now."

Amaryllis was white as milk and her grey eyes were disturbed and very troubled. She held out her two hands to Verisschenzko and he kissed them with affectionate worship.

"Lady of my Soul!"

"Oh! Stepan,—comfort me—give me counsel. It is such a terrible moment in my life. What am I to do?"

"It is indeed difficult for you—we must think it all out—"

"Poor John—I ought to be glad that he is alive, and I am—really—only, oh! Stepan, I love Denzil so dearly. It is all too awfully complicated. What so greatly astonishes me about it is that John has not written deliriously, or as though he has lost his memory, and yet if we had carried out his instructions and wishes we should be married now, Denzil and I,—and he never alludes to the possibility of this! It is written as though no complications could enter into the case—"

"It sounds strange—may I see the letter?"

She got up and went over to the writing table and returned with a packet and the envelope which contained the card. It was not one which prisoners use as a rule; it had the picture of a German town on it and the postmark on the envelope was of a place in Holland. Verisschenzko read it carefully:

"I have been too ill to write before—I was taken prisoner in the counter attack and was unconscious. I am sending this by the kindness of a nurse through Holland. Everyone must have believed that I was dead. I am longing for news of you, dearest. I shall soon be well. Do not worry. I am going to be moved and will write again with address.

"All love,—


The writing was rather feeble as a very ill person's would naturally be, but the name "John" was firm and very legible.

"You are certain that it is his writing?"

"Yes"—and then she handed him another letter from the packet—John's last one to her. "You can see for yourself—it is the same hand."

Stepan took both over to the lamp, and was bending to examine them when he gave a little cry:

"Sapristi!"—and instead of looking at the writings he sniffed strongly at the card, and then again. Amaryllis watched him amazedly.

"The same! By the Lord, it is the work of Ferdinand. No one could mistake his scent who had once smelt it. The muskrat, the scorpion! But he has betrayed himself."

Amaryllis grew paler as she came close beside him.

"Stepan, oh, tell me! What do you mean?"

"I believe this to be a forgery—the scent is a clue to me. Smell it—there is a lingering sickly aroma round it. It came in an envelope, you see,—that would preserve it. It is an Eastern perfume, very heavy,—what do you say?"

She wrinkled her delicate nose:

"Yes, there is some scent from it. One perceives it at first and then it goes off. Oh, Stepan, please do not torture me. Can you be quite sure?"

"I am absolutely certain that whether it is in John's writing or not, Ferdinand, or some one who uses his unique scent, has touched that card. Now we must investigate everything."

He walked up and down the room in agitation for a few moments; talking rapidly to himself—half in Russian—Amaryllis caught bits. "Ferdinand—how to his advantage? None. What then? Harietta? Harietta—but why for her?"

Then he sat down and stared into the fire, his yellow-green eyes blazing with intelligence, his clear brain balancing up things. But now he did not speak his thoughts aloud.

"She is jealous. I remember—she imagined that it is my child. She believes I may marry Amaryllis. It is as plain as day!"

He jumped up and excitedly held out his hands.

"Let us fetch Denzil," he cried joyously. "I can explain everything."

Amaryllis left the room swiftly and called when she got outside his door:

"Denzil—do come."

He joined them in a second or two—there as he was, in a blue silk dressing gown, as he had just been going to dress for dinner.

He looked from one face to the other anxiously and Stepan immediately spoke.

"I think that the card is a forgery, Denzil. I believe it to have been written by Ferdinand Ardayre—at the instigation of Harietta Boleski. She would have means to obtain the postcard, and have it sent through Holland too."

"But why—why should she?" Amaryllis exclaimed in wonderment. "What possible reason could she have for wishing to be so cruel to us. We were always very nice to her, as you know."

Verisschenzko laughed cynically.

"She was jealous of you all the same. But Denzil, I track it by the scent. I know Ferdinand uses that scent," he held out the card. "Smell."

Denzil sniffed as Amaryllis had done.

"It is so faint I should not have remarked it unless you had told me—but I daresay if it was a scent one had smelt before, one would be struck by it! But how are you going to prove it, Stepan? We shall have to have convincing proof—because I am the only witness of poor John's death, and it could easily be said that I am too deeply interested to be reliable. For God's sake, old friend, think of some way of making a certainty."

"I have a way which I can enforce as soon as I reach Paris. Meanwhile say nothing to any one and put the thought of it out of your heads. The evidence of your own eyes convinced you that John is dead; you found it difficult to accept that he was alive even when seeing what appeared to be his own writing, but if I assure you that this is forged you can be at peace. Is it not so?"

Amaryllis' lips were trembling; the shock and then this counter shock were unhinging her. She was horrified at herself that she should not catch at every straw to prove John was alive, instead of feeling some sense of relief when Verisschenzko protested that the postcard was a forgery.

Poor John! Good, and kind, and unselfish. It was all too agitating. But was just life such a very great thing? She knew that had she the choice she would rather be dead than separated now from Denzil. And if John were really to be alive—what misery he would be obliged to suffer, knowing the situation.

"Quite apart from what to me is a convincing proof, the scent," Verisschenzko went on, "the card must be a forgery because of John's seeming oblivion of the possibility that you two might have already carried out his wishes. All this would have been very unlike him. But if it is, as I think, Ferdinand's and Harietta Boleski's work, they would not be likely to know that John had desired that Denzil should marry you, Amaryllis, and so would have thought a short card with longings to see you would be a natural thing to write. Indeed you can be at rest. And now I will go and dress for dinner, and we will forget disturbing thoughts."

Amaryllis and Denzil will always remember Stepan's wonderful tact and goodness to them that evening; he kept everything calm and thrilled them all with his stories and his conversation and his own wonderfully magnetic personality. And after dinner he played to them in the green drawing room and, as Mrs. Ardayre said, seemed to bring peace and healing to all their troubled souls.

But when he was alone with Denzil late, after the two women had retired to bed, he sunk into a deep chair in the smoking room and suddenly burst into a peal of cynical laughter.

"What the devil's up?" demanded Denzil, astonished.

"I am thinking of Harietta's exquisite mistake. She believes the baby is mine! She is mad with a goat's jealousy; she supposes it is I who will marry Amaryllis—hence her plot! Does it not show how the good are protected and the evil fall into their own traps!"

"Of course! She was in love with you!"

"In love! Mon Dieu! you call that love! I mastered her body and was unobtainable. She was never able to draw me more than a person could to whom I should pay two hundred francs. She knew that perfectly—it enraged her always. The threads are now completely in my hands. Conceive of it, Denzil! The man at the Ardayre ball was her first husband for whom she always retained some kind of animal affection—because he used to beat her. They married her to Stanislass just to obtain the secrets of Poland, and any other thing which she could pick' up. Her marvellous stupidity and incredible want of all moral restraint has made her the most brilliant spy. No principles to hamper her—nothing. She has only tripped up through jealousy now. When she felt that she had lost me she grew to desire me with the only part of her nature with which she desires anything, her flesh—then she became unbalanced, and in September before I left, gave the clue into my hands. I shall not bore you with all the details, but I have them both—she and Ferdinand Ardayre. The first husband has gone back to Germany from Sweden, but we shall secure him, too, presently. Meanwhile I shall hand Harietta to the French authorities—her last exploits are against France. She has enabled the Germans to shoot six or seven brave fellows, besides giving information of the most important kind wormed from foolish elderly adorers and above all from Stanislass himself."

"She will be shot, I suppose."

"Probably. But first she shall confess about the postcard from the prison camp. I shall go to Paris immediately, Denzil; there must be no delay."

"You will not feel the slightest twinge because she was your mistress, if she is shot, Stepan? I ask because the combination of possible emotions is interesting and unusual."

"Not for an instant—" and suddenly Verisschenzko's yellow-green eyes flashed fire and his face grew transfigured with fierce hate. "You do not know the affection I had for Stanislass from my boyhood—he was my leader, my ideal. No paltry aims—a great pioneer of freedom on the sanest lines. He might have altered the history of our two countries—he was the light we need, and this foul, loathsome creature has destroyed not only his soul and his body, but the protector and defender of a conception of freedom which might have been realised. I would strangle her with my own hands."

"Stanislass must have been a weakling, Stepan, to have let her destroy him. He could never have ruled. It strikes me that this is the proof of another of your theories. It must be some debt of his previous life that he is paying to this woman. He was given his chance to use strength against her and failed."

The hate died out of Verisschenzko's face—and the look of calm reasoning returned.

"Yes, you are right, Denzil. You are wiser than I. So I shall not give her up, for punishment of her crimes. I shall only give her up because of justice—she must not be at large. You see, even in my case,—I who pride myself on being balanced, can have my true point of view obsessed by hate. It is an ignoble passion, my son!"

"You will catch Ferdinand too?"

"Undoubtedly—he is just a rotten little snipe, but he does mischief as Harietta's tool—and through his business in Holland."

"He loathes the English—that is his reason, but Madame Boleski has no incentive like that."

"Harietta has no country—she would be willing to betray any one of them to gratify any personal desire. If she had been a patriot exclusively working for Germany, one could have respected her, but she has often betrayed their secrets to me—for jewels—and other things she required at the moment. No mercy can be shown at all."

"In these days there is no use in having sentiment just because a spy is a woman—but I am glad it is not my duty to deliver her up."

Verisschenzko smiled.

"I cannot help my nature, Denzil,—or rather the attributes of the nation into which in this life I am born. I shall hand Harietta over to justice without a regret."

Then they parted for the night with much of the disturbance and the complex emotions removed from Denzil's heart.


When Verisschenzko reached Paris and discovered the desecration of the Ikon, an icy rage came over him. He knew, even before questioning his old servant, that it could only be the work of Harietta. Jealousy alone would be the cause of such a wanton act. It revealed to him the certainty of his theory that she had imagined the little Benedict to be his child. No further proof that the postcard was a forgery was really needed, but he would see her once more and obtain extra confirmation.

His yellow-green eyes gleamed in a curious way as he stood looking at the mutilated picture.

That her ridiculous and accursed hatpin should have dared to touch the eyes of his soul's lady, and scratch out the face of the child!

But he must not let this emotion of personal anger affect what he intended in any case to do from motives of justice. In the morning he would give all his proofs of her guilt to the French authorities, and let the law take its course—but to-night he would make her come there to his apartment and hear from him an indictment of her crimes.

He sat down in the comfortable chair in his own sitting room and began to think.

His face was ominous; all the fierce passions of his nation and of his nature held him for a while.

His dog, an intelligent terrier whom he loved, sat there before the fire and watched him, wagging his stump of a tail now and then nervously, but not daring to approach. Then, after half an hour had gone by, he rose and went to the telephone. He called up the Universal and asked to be put through to the apartment of Madame Boleski, and soon heard Harietta's voice. It was a little anxious—and yet insolent too.

"Yes? Is that you Stepan! Darling Brute! What do you want?"

"You—cannot you come and dine with me to-night—alone?"

His voice was honey sweet, with a spontaneous, frank ring in it, only his face still looked as a fiend's.

"You have just arrived? How divine!"

"This instant, so I rushed at once to the telephone. I long for you—come—now."

He allowed passion to quiver in the last notes—he must be sure that she would be drawn.

"He cannot have opened the doors of the Ikon," Harietta thought. "I will go—to see him again will be worth it anyway!"

"All right!—in half an hour!"

"Soit,"—and he put the receiver down.

Then he went again to the Ikon and examined the doors; by slamming them very hard and readjusting one small golden nail, he could give the fastening the appearance of its having been jammed and impossible to open. He ordered a wonderful dinner and some Chateau Ykem of 1900. Harietta, he remembered, liked it better than Champagne. Its sweetness and its strength appealed to her taste. The room was warm and delightful with its blazing wood fire. He looked round before he went to dress, and then he laughed softly, and again Fin nervously wagged his stump of a tail.

Harietta arrived punctually. She had made herself extremely beautiful. Her overmastering desire to see Verisschenzko had allowed her usually keen sense of self-preservation partially to sleep. But even so, underneath there was some undefined sense of uneasiness.

Stepan met her in the hall, and greeted her in his usual abrupt way without ceremony.

"You will leave your cloak in my room," he suggested, wishing to give her the chance to look at the Ikon's jammed doors and so put her at her ease.

The moment she found herself alone, she went swiftly to the shrine. She examined it closely—no the bolt had not been mended. She pulled at the doors but she could not open them, and she remembered with relief that she had slammed them hard. That would account for things. He certainly could not yet know of her action. The evening would be one of pleasure after all! And there was never any use in speculating about to-morrows!

Verisschenzko was waiting for her in the sitting-room, and they went straight in to dinner. A little table was drawn up to the fire; all appeared deliciously intimate, and Harietta's spirits rose.

To her Verisschenzko appeared the most attractive creature on earth. Indeed, he had a wonderful magnetism which had intoxicated many women before her day. He was looking at her now with eyes unclouded by glamour. He saw that she was painted and obvious, and without real charm. She could no longer even affect his senses. He saw nothing but the reality, the animal, blatant reality, and in his memory there remained the pierced out orbs of the Virgin and the scratched face of the Christ child.

Everything fierce and cunning in his nature was in action—he was glorying in the torture he meant to inflict, the torture of jealousy and unsatisfied suspicion.

He talked subtly, deliberately stirring her curiosity and arousing her apprehension. He had not mentioned Amaryllis, and yet he had conveyed to her, as though it were an unconscious admission, that he had been in England with her, and that she reigned in his soul. Then he used every one of his arts of fascination so that all Harietta's desires were inflamed once more, and by the time she had eaten of the rich Russian dishes and drank of the Chateau Ykem she was experiencing the strongest emotion she had ever known in her life, while a sense of impotence to move him augmented her other feelings.

Her eyes swam with passion, as she leaned over the table whispering words of the most violent love in his ears.

Verisschenzko remained absolutely unstirred.

"How silly you were to send that postcard to Lady Ardayre," he remarked contemplatively in the middle of one of her burning sentences. "It was not worthy of your usual methods—a child could see that it was a forgery. If you had not done that I might have made you very happy to-night—for the last time—my little goat!"

"Stepan—what card? But you are going to make me happy anyway, darling Brute; that is what I have come for, and you know it!"

Her eyes were not so successfully innocent as usual when she lied. She was uneasy at his stolidity, some fear stayed with her that perhaps he meant not to gratify her desires just to be provoking. He had teased her more than once before.

Verisschenzko went on, lighting his cigarette calmly:

"It was a silly plot—Ferdinand Ardayre wrote it and you dictated it; I perceived the whole thing at once. You did it because you were jealous of Lady Ardayre—you believe that I love her—"

"I do not know anything about a card, but I am jealous about that hateful bit of bread and butter," and her eyes flashed. "It is so unlike you to worry over such a creature—I'm what you like!"

He laughed softly. "A man has many sides—you appeal to his lowest. Fortunately it is not in command of him all the time—but let me tell you more about the forgery. You over-reached yourselves—you made John ignore something which would have been his first thought, thus the fraud was exposed at once."

Her jealousy blazed up, so that she forgot herself and prudence.

"You mean about the child—your child—"

The ominous gleam came into Verisschenzko's eyes.

"My child—you spoke of it once before and I warned you—I never speak idly."

She got up from the table and came and flung her arms round his neck.

"Stepan, I love you—I love you! I would like to kill Amaryllis and the child—I want you—why are you so changed?"

He only laughed scornfully again, while he disengaged her arms.

"Do you know how I found out? By the perfume—the same as you told me must be that of Stanislass' mistress—on the handkerchief marked 'F.A.' The whole thing was dramatically childish. You thought to prove her husband was still alive, would stop my marriage with Amaryllis Ardayre!"

"Then you are going to marry her!"

Harietta's hazel eyes flashed fire, her face had grown distorted with passion and her cheeks burned beyond the rouge.

She appeared a most revolting sight to Stepan. He watched her with cold, critical eyes. As she put out her hands he noticed how the thumbs turned right back. How had he ever been able to touch her in the past! He shivered with disgust and degradation at the thought.

She saw his movement of repulsion, and completely lost her head.

She flung herself into his arms and almost strangled him in her furious embrace, while she threw all restraint to the winds and poured out a torrent of passion, intermingled with curses for one who had dared to try and rob her of this adored mate.

It was a wonderful and very sickening exhibition, Verisschenzko thought. He remained as a statue of ice. Then when she had exhausted herself a little, he spoke with withering calm.

"Control yourself, Harietta; such emotion will leave ugly lines, and you cannot afford to spoil the one good you possess. I have not the least desire for you—I find that you look plain and only bore me. But now listen to me for a little—I have something to say!" His voice changed from the cynical callousness to a deep note of gravity: "You need not even tell me in words that you sent the forgery—you have given me ample proof. That subject is finished—but I will make you listen to the recital of some of your vile deeds." The note grew sterner and his eyes held her cowed. "Ah! what instruments of the devil are such women as you—possessing the greatest of all power over men you have used it only for ill—wherever you have passed there is a trail of degradation and slime. Think of Stanislass! A man of fine purpose and lofty ideals. What is he now? A poor lifeless semblance of a man with neither brain nor will. You have used him—not even to gratify your own low lust, but to betray countries—and one of them your husband's country, which ought to have been your own."

She sank to her knees at his side; he went on mercilessly. He spoke of many names which she knew, and then he came to Ferdinand Ardayre.

"They tell me he is drinking and sodden with morphine, and raves wildly of you. Think of them all—where are they now? Dead many of them—and you have survived and prospered like a vampire, sucking their blood. Do you ever think of a human being but your own degraded self? You would sacrifice your nearest and dearest for a moment's personal gain. You are not caught and strangled because the outside good natures come easily to you. It makes things smooth to smile and commit little acts of showy kindness which cost you nothing. You live and breathe and have your being like a great maggot fattening on a putrid corpse. I blush to think that I have ever used your body for my own ends, loathing you all the time. I have watched you cynically when I should have wrung your neck."

She sobbed hoarsely and held out her hands.

"For all these things you might still have gone free, Harietta—and fate would punish you in time, but you have committed that great crime for which there can be no mercy. You have acted the part of a spy. A wretched spy, not for patriotism but for your own ends—you have not been faithful to either side. Have you not often given me the secrets of your late husband Hans? Do you care one atom which country wins? Not you. The whole sordid business has had only one aim—some personal gratification."

He paused—and she began to speak, now choking with rage, but he motioned her to be silent.

"Do you think so lightly of the great issues which are shaking the world that you imagine that you can do these things with impunity? I tell you that soon you must pay the price. I am not the only one who knows of your ways."

She got up from the floor now and tossed her head. Important things had never been to her realities—her fear left her. What agitated her now was that Stepan, whom she adored, should speak to her in such a tone. She threw herself into his arms once more, passionately proclaiming her love.

He thrust her from him in shrinking disgust, and the cruel vein in his character was aroused.

"Love!—do not dare to desecrate the name of love. You do not know what it means. I do—and this shall always remain with you as a remembrance. I love Amaryllis Ardayre. She is my ideal of a woman—tender and restrained and true—I shall always lay my life at her feet. I love her with a love such beings as you cannot dream of, knowing only the senses and playing only to them. That will be your knowledge always, that I worship and reverence this woman, and hold you in supreme contempt."

Harietta writhed and whined on the sofa where she had fallen.

"Go," he went on icily. "I have no further use for you, and my car is waiting below. You may as well avail yourself of it and return to your hotel. In the morning the last proof of the interest I have taken in you may be given, but to-night you can sleep."

Harietta cried aloud—she was frightened at last. What did he mean? But even fear was swallowed up in the frantic thought that he had done with her, that he would never any more hold her in his arms. Her world lay in ruins, he seemed the one and only good. She grovelled on the floor and kissed his feet.

"Master, Master! Keep me near you—I will be your slave—"

But Verisschenzko pushed her gently aside with his foot and going to a table near took up a cigarette. He lighted it serenely, glancing indifferently at the dishevelled heap of a woman still crouching on the floor.

"Enough of this dramatic nonsense," and he blew a ring of smoke. "I advise you to go quietly to bed—you may not sleep so softly on future nights."

Fear overcame her again—what could he mean? She got up and held on to the table, searching his face with burning eyes.

"Why should I not sleep so softly always?" and her voice was thick.

He laughed hoarsely.

"Who knows? Life is a gamble in these days. You must ask your interesting German friend."

She became ghastly white—that there was real danger was beginning to dawn upon her. The rouge stood out like that on the painted face of a clown.

Verisschenzko remained completely unmoved. He pressed the bell, and his Russian servant, warned beforehand, brought him in his fur coat and hat, and assisted him to put them on.

"I will take Madame to get her cloak," he announced calmly. "Wait here to show us out."

There was nothing for Harietta to do but follow him, as he went towards the bedroom door. She was stunned.

He walked over to the Ikon, and slipping a paper knife under them opened wide the doors; then he turned to her, and the very life melted within her when she saw his face.

"This is your work," and he pointed to the mutilations, "and for that and many other things, Harietta, you shall at last pay the price. Now come, I will take you back to your lover, and your husband—both will be waiting and longing for your return. Come!"

She dropped on the floor and refused to move so that he was obliged to call in the servant, and together they lifted her, the one holding her up, while the other wrapped her in her cloak. Then, each supporting her, they made their way down the stairs, and placed her in the waiting motor, Verisschenzko taking the seat at her side—and so they drove to the Universal. She should sleep to-night in peace and have time to think over the events of the evening. But to-morrow he must no longer delay about giving information to the authorities.

She cowered in the motor until they had almost reached the door, when she flung her arms round his neck and kissed him wildly again, sobbing with rage and terror:

"You shall not marry Amaryllis; I will kill you both first."

He smiled in the darkness, and she felt that he was mocking her, and suddenly turned and bit his arm, her teeth meeting in the cloth of his fur-lined coat.

He shook her off as he would have done a rat:

"Never quite apropos, Harietta! Always a little late! But here we have arrived, and you will not care for your admirers, the concierge, and the lift men, to see you in such a state. Put your veil over your face and go quietly to your rooms. I will wish you a very good-night—and farewell!"

He got out and stood with mock respect uncovered to assist her, and she was obliged to follow him. The hall porter and the numerous personnel of the hotel were looking on.

He bowed once more and appeared to kiss her hand:

"Good-bye, Harietta! Sleep well."

Then he re-entered the car and was whirled away.

She staggered for a second and then moved forward to the lift. But as she went in, two tall men who had been waiting stepped forward and joined her, and all three were carried aloft, and as she walked to her salon she saw that they were following her.

"There will be no more kicks for thee, my Angel!" the maid, peeping from a door, whispered exultingly to Fou-Chow! "Thy Marie has saved thee at last!"

* * * * *

When Verisschenzko again reached his own sitting room he paced up and down for half an hour. He was horribly agitated, and angry with himself for being so.

Denzil had been right; when it came to the point, it was a ghastly thing to have to do, to give a woman up to death—even though her crimes amply justified such action.

And what was death?

To such a one as Harietta what would death mean?

A sinking into oblivion for a period, and then a rebirth in some sphere of suffering where the first lessons of the meanings of things might be learned? That would seem to be the probable working of the law—so that she might eventually obtain a soul.

He must not speculate further about her though, he must keep his nerve.

And his own life—what would it now become? Would the spirit of freedom, stirring in his beloved country, arrive at any good? Or would the red current of revolution, once let loose, swamp all reason and flow in rivers of blood?

He would be powerless to help if he let weakness overmaster him now.

The immediate picture looked black and hopeless to his far-seeing eyes.

But his place must be in Petrograd now, until the end. His activities, which had obliged him to be away from Russia, were finished, and new ones had begun which he must direct, there in the heart of things.

"The world is aching for freedom, God," his stormy thoughts ran, "but we cannot hope to receive it until we have paid the price of the aeons of greed and self-seeking which have held us, the ignorance, the low material gain. We must now reap that sowing. The divine Christ—one man—was enough as a sacrifice in that old period of the world's day—but now there must be a holocaust of the bravest and best for our purification."

He threw himself into his chair and gazed into the glowing embers. What pictures were forming themselves there? Nations arising glorified by a new religion of common sense, education universally enjoyed, the great forces studied, and Nature's fundamental principles reckoned with and understood.

To hunt his food.

To recreate his species.

And to kill his enemy.

A bright blade sheathed but ready, a clear judgment trained and used, ideals nobly striven for, and Wisdom the High Priest of God.

These were the visions he saw in the fire, and he started to his feet and stretched out his arms.

"Strength, God! Strength!" that was his prayer.

"That we may go— Armoured and militant, New-pithed, new-souled, new-visioned, up the steeps To those great altitudes whereat the weak Live not, but only the strong Have leave to strive, and suffer, and achieve."

Then he sat down and wrote to Denzil.

"I have all the needed proofs, my friend. Marry my soul's lady in peace and make her happy. There come some phases in a man's life which require all his will to face. I hope I am no weakling. I return to Russia immediately. Events there will enable me to blot out some disturbing memories.

"The end is not yet. Indeed, I feel that my real life is only just beginning.

"Ferdinand Ardayre is deeply incriminated with Harietta; it is only a question of a little time and he will be taken too. Then, Denzil, you, in the natural course of events, would have been the Head of the Family. You will need all your philosophy never to feel any jar in the situation with your son as the years go on. You will have to look at it squarely, dear old friend, and know that it is impossible to have interfered with destiny and to have gone scott free. Then you will be able to accept title affair with common sense and prize what you have obtained, without spoiling it with futile regrets. You have paid most of your score with wounds and suffering, and now can expect what happiness the agony of the world can let a man enjoy.

"My blessings to you both and to the Ardayre son.

"And now adieu for a long time."

He had hardly written the last line when the telephone rang, and the frantic voice of Stanislass, his ancient friend, called to him!

Harietta had been taken away to St. Lazare—her maid had denounced her. What could be done?

A great wave of relief swept over Stepan. So he was not to be the instrument of justice after all!

How profoundly he thanked God!

But the irony of the thing shook him.

Harietta would pay with her life for having maltreated a dog!

Truly the workings of fate were marvellous.


The days in prison for Harietta, before and after her trial, were days of frenzied terror, alternating with incredulity. She would not believe that she was to die.

Stanislass and Ferdinand, and even Verisschenzko, would save her!

She loathed the hard bed at St. Lazare, and the discomfort, and the ugliness, and the Sister of Charity!

She spent hours tramping her cell like a wild beast in a cage. She would roar with inarticulate fury, and cry aloud to her husband, and her lovers, one after another, and then she would cower in a corner, shaking with fear.

The greatest pain of all was the thought that Stepan and Amaryllis would marry and be happy. Once or twice foam gathered at the corners of her lips when she thought of this.

If she could have reached Marie, that would have given her some satisfaction—to tear out her eyes! For Ferdinand Ardayre had told her how Marie had given her up, working quietly until she had all necessary proofs, and then denouncing her.

When Stanislass had returned from the Club, whither she had despatched him for the evening, so that she might be free to dine with Verisschenzko, he found that she had already been taken away.

The shock, when he discovered that nothing could be done, had nearly killed him—he now lay dangerously ill in a Maison de Sante, happily unconscious of events.

For Ferdinand Ardayre the blow had fallen with crushing force. The one strong thing in his weak nature was his passion for Harietta—and to be robbed of her in such a way!

He battled impotently against fate, unable even to try to use any means in his possession to get the death sentence commuted, because he was too deeply implicated himself to make any stir.

He saw her in the prison after the trial, with the bars between and the warders near. And the awful change in Tier paralysed him with grief. On the morrow she was to die—the usual death of a spy.

Her hair was wild and her face without rouge was haggard and wan.

She implored him to save her.

The frightful pain of knowing that he could do nothing made Ferdinand desperate, and then suddenly he became inspired with an idea.

He could at all events remove some of the agony of terror from her, and enable her to go to her death without a hideous scene. He remembered "La Tosca"—the same method might serve again!

He managed to whisper to her in broken sentences that she would certainly be saved. The plan was all prepared, he assured her. The rifles would contain blank cartridges, and she must pretend to fall—and afterwards he would come, having bribed every one and made the path smooth.

He lied so fervently that Harietta was convinced, her material brain catching at any straw. She must dress herself and look her best, he told her, so as to make an impression upon all the men concerned; and then, when he had to leave her, he arranged with the prison doctor that she might receive a strong piqure of morphine, so that she would be serene. She spent the night dreaming quite happily and at four o'clock was awakened and began to dress.

The drug had calmed all her terrors and her dramatic instinct held full sway.

She arranged her toilet with the utmost care, using all her arts to beautify herself. In her ears were Stanislass' ruby earrings and she wore Stepan's ring and brooch.

Death to her was an impossibility—she had never seen any one die.

It was a wonderfully fine part she would have to play, with Ferdinand there really going to save her! That was all! She must even be sweet at last to the poor sister, whom she had snarled at hitherto.

If she could only have seen Stepan once more! Stanislass and his broken life and fond devotion never gave her a thought or troubled her at all. After she was free, she would find some means to pay out Hans! She hated him. If it had not been for Hans and his tiresome old higher command with their stupid intrigues, she would still be free. That she had betrayed countries—that she was guilty in any way never presented itself to her mind.

All Verisschenzko's passionate indictment had fallen upon unheeding ears. The morphine now left her only sufficiently conscious for fundamental instincts to act.

She felt that she was a beautiful woman going to be the chief figure in a wonderfully dramatic scene. Nothing solemn had touched her. Her brain was light and now only filled with cunning and coqueterie; she meant to charm her guards and executioners to the last man! And ready at length, she walked nonchalantly out of the prison and into the waiting car which was to carry her to Vincennes.

Now the end of all this is best told in the words of a young French soldier who was an eye witness and wrote the whole thing down. To pen the hideous horror I find too difficult a task.

"Sunday—11 in the evening.

"We had only returned at that moment from our day's leave, when the Lieutenant came to us to announce that we should be of the piquet to-morrow morning for the execution of Madame Boleski, the spy.

"He said this to us in his monotonous voice as though he had been saying 'To-morrow—Revue d'Armes'—but for us, after a whole day passed far from barracks, it was a rather brusque return to military realities!

"At once it became necessary that we look through our accountrements for the show. No small affair! and for more than an hour there was brushing and polishing of straps and buckles. It was nearly two o'clock in the morning before we could turn in.

"Many of us could not sleep—we are all between eighteen and nineteen years old, and the idea to see a woman killed agitated us. But little by little the whole band dozed."

"Monday morning.

"At four o'clock—reveille. We dress in haste in the dark. Ten minutes later we all find ourselves in the courtyard.

"'A droit alignement couvres sur deux.'

"The Lieutenant made the call."

* * * * *

"The detachment moves off in the night, marching in slow cadence—that step which so peculiarly gives the impression of restrained force and condensed power.

"We leave the fort and gain the artillery butts—true landscape of the front! Trenches, stripped trees, abandoned wagons!

"And in the middle of all that—our silhouettes of carbines, casques and sacs.

"Absolute silence.

"We stop—we advance—and suddenly in the dawn which has begun, we arrive at our destination—the execution ground.

"'Cannoniers—halte! Couvres sur deux. A droite alignement.'"

"A rattle of arms. And there in front of us, at hardly fifteen yards, we catch sight of the post.

"Up till now we had scarcely felt anything—just startled impressions, almost of curiosity, but now I begin to experience the first strong sensation.

"The post! Symbol of all this sinister ceremony. A short post—not higher than one's shoulder! There it stands in front of the shooting butts. And to think that nearly every Monday—"

* * * * *

"Now the troops from the Square, which is in reality rectangular, the shooting butt constituting one of its sides. Then in the grim dawn we wait quietly for what is to come. One after another, we see several automobiles approach, and each time we ask ourselves, 'Is not this the condemned?'

"No—they are journalists—officers—avocats—and presently a hearse, out of which is lifted the coffin.

"The undertakers' men, who presently will proceed to the business of placing the body there, laugh and talk together as they sit and smoke. They are old habitues!"

"One was cold standing still! It begins to be quite light. The condemned one may arrive at any moment, because the execution has been fixed for exactly at the rising of the sun.

"The men of the platoon load their rifles. The number of them is twelve—four sergeants, four corporals, four soldiers.

"And then there are the Chasseurs a pied."

"All of a sudden, two more cars appear, escorted by a company of dragoons.

"This time it is She.

"They stop—out of the first one, officers descend. The Commissaire of the Government who has, condemned Madame Boleski to death and who had gone a little more than an hour ago to awake her in her cell. The Captain, reporter, and two other Captains. The door of the second auto opens, two gendarmes get out—a Sister of St. Lazare (what a terrible metier for her!)—and then Harietta Boleski!

"And at once, accompanied by the nun and followed by the gendarmes, she penetrates into the square of men.

"Until now we have been enduring a period of waiting, we have been asking ourselves if it will have an effect upon us—but now we have no more doubt. The effect has begun!

"'Present arms!'

"All together we render honour to the dead woman—for one considers a person condemned as already dead. And the bugles begin to play the March—Do sol do do Sol do do, Mi mi mi

"They play slowly—very softly and in the minor key.

"Harietta Boleski walks quickly, the sister can hardly keep by her side. She is tall, beautiful, very elegant. A large hat with floating lace veil thrown back and splendid earrings. A dark dress—pretty shoes.

"She looks at the troops and the piquet d'execution a little disdainfully, and then she smiles gaily—it is almost a titter. The sister taps her gently on the shoulder, as if to recall her to a sense of order, but she makes one careless gesture and walks up to the post.

"The bugles are sounding plaintively, slowly and more slowly all the time.

"She pauses in front of us—and with us it is now, 'Does this make us feel something?' We must hold ourselves not to grow faint.

"To see this woman go by with the trumpets sounding ever. To say to ourselves that in sixty seconds she will be no more. There will be no life in that beautiful body. Ah! that is an emotion, believe me!

"Never has the great problem been brought more forcibly before my spirit.

"It is during the second when she passes before me that I receive the most profound impression, more even than at the actual moment of the firing."

* * * * *

"Harietta Boleski is beside the post. The bugles stop their mournful sound. They tie her to it, but not tightly, only so that her fall may not be too hard. A gendarme presents her with a bandeau for her eyes, which she pushes aside with scorn.

"And when an officer reads the sentence, Harietta Boleski smiles."

* * * * *

"At twelve yards the platoon is lined up. The sentence has been read.

"Madame Boleski embraces the Sister of Charity, who is very overcome. She even whispers a few words to comfort her. They stand back from the post. The adjutant who commands the platoon raises his sword—the rifles come in into position—two seconds—and the sword falls!"

* * * * *

"A salute!"

* * * * *

"Harietta Boleski is no more.

"The fair body drops to earth and immediately an Adjutant of Dragoons goes swiftly to the post, revolver pointed, and gives the coup de grace.

"'Arme sur l'epaule—Droit. A droit. En avant. Marche!'

"And we file past the corpse while the trumpets recommence to sound.

"Harietta Boleski is lying down. She seems to be only reposing, so beautiful she looks.

"The ball had entered her heart (we knew this later) so that her death has been instantaneous.

"All the troops have defiled before her now.

"We regain our quarters.

"But as we file into the courtyard the sun gilds the highest window of the fortress. The day has begun."

* * * * *

Thus perished Harietta Boleski in the thirty-seventh year of her age—in the midst of the zest of life. The times are to strenuous for sentiment.

So perish all spies!


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