A Rebellious Heroine
John Kendrick Bangs
Part 1 out of 2
This etext was produced from the 1896 Harper and Brothers edition by
David Price, email firstname.lastname@example.org
A REBELLIOUS HEROINE
by John Kendrick Bangs
CHAPTER I: STUART HARLEY: REALIST
"--if a word could save me, and that word were not the Truth, nay, if
it did but swerve a hair's-breadth from the Truth, I would not say
Stuart Harley, despite his authorship of many novels, still
considered himself a realist. He affected to say that he did not
write his books; that he merely transcribed them from life as he saw
it, and he insisted always that he saw life as it was.
"The mission of the novelist, my dear Professor," he had once been
heard to say at his club, "is not to amuse merely; his work is that
of an historian, and he should be quite as careful to write
truthfully as is the historian. How is the future to know what
manner of lives we nineteenth century people have lived unless our
novelists tell the truth?"
"Possibly the historians will tell them," observed the Professor of
Mathematics. "Historians sometimes do tell us interesting things."
"True," said Harley. "Very true; but then what historian ever let
you into the secret of the every-day life of the people of whom he
writes? What historian ever so vitalized Louis the Fourteenth as
Dumas has vitalized him? Truly, in reading mere history I have
seemed to be reading of lay figures, not of men; but when the
novelist has taken hold properly--ah, then we get the men."
"Then," objected the Professor, "the novelist is never to create a
"The humorist or the mere romancer may, but as for the novelist with
a true ideal of his mission in life he would better leave creation to
nature. It is blasphemy for a purely mortal being to pretend that he
can create a more interesting character or set of characters than the
Almighty has already provided for the use of himself and his brothers
in literature; that he can involve these creations in a more dramatic
series of events than it has occurred to an all-wise Providence to
put into the lives of His creatures; that, by the exercise of that
misleading faculty which the writer styles his imagination, he can
portray phases of life which shall prove of more absorbing interest
or of greater moral value to his readers than those to be met with in
the every-day life of man as he is."
"Then," said the Professor, with a dexterous jab of his cue at the
pool-balls--"then, in your estimation, an author is a thing to be led
about by the nose by the beings he selects for use in his books?"
"You put it in a rather homely fashion," returned Harley; "but, on
the whole, that is about the size of it."
"And all a man needs, then, to be an author is an eye and a type-
writing machine?" asked the Professor.
"And a regiment of detectives," drawled Dr. Kelly, the young surgeon,
"to follow his characters about."
Harley sighed. Surely these men were unsympathetic.
"I can't expect you to grasp the idea exactly," he said, "and I can't
explain it to you, because you'd become irreverent if I tried."
"No, we won't," said Kelly. "Go on and explain it to us--I'm bored,
and want to be amused."
So Harley went on and tried to explain how the true realist must be
an inspired sort of person, who can rise above purely physical
limitations; whose eye shall be able to pierce the most impenetrable
of veils; to whom nothing in the way of obtaining information as to
the doings of such specimens of mankind as he has selected for his
pages is an insurmountable obstacle.
"Your author, then, is to be a mixture of a New York newspaper
reporter and the Recording Angel?" suggested Kelly.
"I told you you'd become irreverent," said Harley; "nevertheless,
even in your irreverence, you have expressed the idea. The writer
must be omniscient as far as the characters of his stories are
concerned--he must have an eye which shall see all that they do, a
mind sufficiently analytical to discern what their motives are, and
the courage to put it all down truthfully, neither adding nor
subtracting, coloring only where color is needed to make the moral
lesson he is trying to teach stand out the more vividly."
"In short, you'd have him become a photographer," said the Professor.
"More truly a soulscape-painter," retorted Harley, with enthusiasm.
"Heavens!" cried the Doctor, dropping his cue with a loud clatter to
the floor. "Soulscape! Here's a man talking about not creating, and
then throws out an invention like soulscape! Harley, you ought to
write a dictionary. With a word like soulscape to start with, it
would sweep the earth!"
Harley laughed. He was a good-natured man, and he was strong enough
in his convictions not to weaken for the mere reason that somebody
else had ridiculed them. In fact, everybody else might have
ridiculed them, and Harley would still have stood true, once he was
convinced that he was right.
"You go on sawing people's legs off, Billy," he said, good-naturedly.
"That's a thing you know about; and as for the Professor, he can go
on showing you and the rest of mankind just why the shortest distance
between two points is in a straight line. I'll take your collective
and separate words for anything on the subject of surgery or
mathematics, but when it comes to my work I wouldn't bank on your
theories if they were endorsed by the Rothschilds."
"He'll never write a decent book in his life if he clings to that
theory," said Kelly, after Harley had departed. "There's precious
little in the way of the dramatic nowadays in the lives of people one
cares to read about."
Nevertheless, Harley had written interesting books, books which had
brought him reputation, and what is termed genteel poverty--that is
to say, his fame was great, considering his age, and his compensation
was just large enough to make life painful to him. His income
enabled him to live well enough to make a good appearance among, and
share somewhat at their expense in the life of, others of far greater
means; but it was too small to bring him many of the things which,
while not absolutely necessities, could not well be termed luxuries,
considering his tastes and his temperament. A little more was all he
"If I could afford to write only when I feel like it," he said, "how
happy I should be! But these orders--they make me a driver of men,
and not their historian."
In fact, Harley was in that unfortunate, and at the same time happy,
position where he had many orders for the product of his pen, and
such financial necessities that he could not afford to decline one of
And it was this very situation which made his rebellious heroine of
whom I have essayed to write so sore a trial to the struggling young
It was early in May, 1895, that Harley had received a note from
Messrs. Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick, the publishers, asking for a
story from his pen for their popular "Blue and Silver Series."
"The success of your Tiffin-Talk," they wrote, "has been such that we
are prepared to offer you our highest terms for a short story of
30,000 words, or thereabouts, to be published in our 'Blue and Silver
Series.' We should like to have it a love-story, if possible; but
whatever it is, it must be characteristic, and ready for publication
in November. We shall need to have the manuscript by September 1st
at the latest. If you can let us have the first few chapters in
August, we can send them at once to Mr. Chromely, whom it is our
intention to have illustrate the story, provided he can be got to do
The letter closed with a few formalities of an unimportant and
stereotyped nature, and Harley immediately called at the office of
Messrs. Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick, where, after learning that
their best terms were no more unsatisfactory than publishers' best
terms generally are, he accepted the commission.
And then, returning to his apartment, he went into what Kelly called
one of his trances.
"He goes into one of his trances," Kelly had said, "hoists himself up
to his little elevation, and peeps into the private life of hoi
polloi until he strikes something worth putting down and the result
he calls literature."
"Yes, and the people buy it, and read it, and call for more," said
"Possibly because they love notoriety," said Kelly, "and they think
if they call for more often enough, he will finally peep in at their
key-holes and write them up. If he ever puts me into one of his
books I'll waylay him at night and amputate his writing-hand."
"He won't," said the Professor. "I asked him once why he didn't, and
he said you'd never do in one of his books, because you don't belong
to real life at all. He thinks you are some new experiment of an
enterprising Providence, and he doesn't want to use you until he sees
how you turn out."
"He could put me down as I go," suggested the Doctor.
"That's so," replied the other. "I told him so, but he said he had
no desire to write a lot of burlesque sketches containing no coherent
"Oh, he said that, did he?" observed the Doctor, with a smile.
"Well--wait till Stuart Harley comes to me for a prescription. I'll
get even with him. I'll give him a pill, and he'll disappear--for
Whether it was as Kelly said or not, that Harley went into a trance
and poked his nose into the private life of the people he wrote
about, it was a fact that while meditating upon the possible output
of his pen our author was as deaf to his surroundings as though he
had departed into another world, and it rarely happened that his mind
emerged from that condition without bringing along with it something
of value to him in his work.
So it was upon this May morning. For an hour or two Harley lay
quiescent, apparently gazing out of his flat window over the
uninspiring chimney-pots of the City of New York, at the equally
uninspiring Long Island station on the far side of the East River.
It was well for him that his eye was able to see, and yet not see:
forgetfulness of those smoking chimney-pots, the red-zincked roofs,
the flapping under-clothing of the poorer than he, hung out to dry on
the tenement tops, was essential to the construction of such a story
as Messrs. Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick had in mind; and Harley
successfully forgot them, and, coming back to consciousness, brought
with him the dramatis personae of his story--and, taken as a whole,
they were an interesting lot. The hero was like most of those
gentlemen who live their little lives in the novels of the day, only
Harley had modified his accomplishments in certain directions.
Robert Osborne--such was his name--was not the sort of man to do
impossible things for his heroine. He was not reckless. He was not
a D'Artagnan lifted from the time of Louis the Fourteenth to the
dull, prosaic days of President Faure. He was not even a Frenchman,
but an essentially American American, who desires to know, before he
does anything, why he does it, and what are his chances of success.
I am not sure that if he had happened to see her struggling in the
ocean he would have jumped in to rescue the young woman to whom his
hand was plighted--I do not speak of his heart, for I am not Harley,
and I do not know whether or not Harley intended that Osborne should
be afflicted with so inconvenient an organ--I am not sure, I say,
that if he had seen his best-beloved struggling in the ocean Osborne
would have jumped in to rescue her without first stopping to remove
such of his garments as might impede his progress back to land again.
In short, he was not one of those impetuous heroes that we read about
so often and see so seldom; but, taken altogether, he was
sufficiently attractive to please the American girl who might be
expected to read Harley's book; for that was one of the stipulations
of Messrs. Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick when they made their verbal
agreement with Harley.
"Make it go with the girls, Harley," Mr. Chadwick had said. "Men
haven't time to read anything but the newspapers in this country.
Hit the girls, and your fortune is made."
Harley didn't exactly see how his fortune was going to be made on the
best terms of Messrs. Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick, even if he hit the
girls with all the force of a battering-ram, but he promised to keep
the idea in mind, and remained in his trance a trifle longer than
might otherwise have been necessary, endeavoring to select the
unquestionably correct hero for his story, and Osborne was the
result. Osborne was moderately witty. His repartee smacked somewhat
of the refined comic paper--that is to say, it was smart and cynical,
and not always suited to the picture; but it wasn't vulgar or dull,
and his personal appearance was calculated to arouse the liveliest
interest. He was clean shaven and clean cut. He looked more like a
modern ideal of infallible genius than Byron, and had probably played
football and the banjo in college--Harley did not go back that far
with him--all of which, it must be admitted, was pretty well
calculated to assure the fulfilment of Harley's promise that the man
should please the American girl. Of course the story was provided
with a villain also, but he was a villain of a mild type. Mild
villany was an essential part of Harley's literary creed, and this
particular person was not conceived in heresy. His name was to have
been Horace Balderstone, and with him Harley intended to introduce a
lively satire on the employment, by certain contemporary writers, of
the supernatural to produce dramatic effects. Balderstone was of
course to be the rival of Osborne. In this respect Harley was
commonplace; to his mind the villain always had to be the rival of
the hero, just as in opera the tenor is always virtuous at heart if
not otherwise, and the baritone a scoundrel, which in real life is
not an invariable rule by any means. Indeed, there have been many
instances in real life where the villain and the hero have been on
excellent terms, and to the great benefit of the hero too. But in
this case Balderstone was to follow in the rut, and become the rival
of Osborne for the hand of Marguerite Andrews--the heroine.
Balderstone was to write a book, which for a time should so fascinate
Miss Andrews that she would be blind to the desirability of Osborne
as a husband-elect; a book full of the weird and thrilling, dealing
with theosophy and spiritualism, and all other "Tommyrotisms," as
Harley called them, all of which, of course, was to be the making and
the undoing of Balderstone; for equally of course, in the end, he
would become crazed by the use of opium--the inevitable end of
writers of that stamp. Osborne would rescue Marguerite from his
fatal influence, and the last chapter would end with Marguerite lying
pale and wan upon her sick-bed, recovering from the mental
prostration which the influence over hers of a mind like
Balderstone's was sure to produce, holding Osborne's hand in hers,
and "smiling a sweet recognition at the lover to whose virtues she
had so long been blind." Osborne would murmur, "At last!" and the
book would close with a "first kiss," followed closely by six or
eight pages of advertisements of other publications of Messrs.
Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick. I mention the latter to show how
thoroughly realistic Harley was. He thought out his books so truly
and so fully before he sat down to write them that he seemed to see
each written, printed, made and bound before him, a concrete thing
from cover to cover.
Besides Osborne and Balderstone and Miss Andrews--of whom I shall at
this time not speak at length, since the balance of this little
narrative is to be devoted to the setting forth of her peculiarities
and charms--there were a number of minor characters, not so necessary
to the story perhaps as they might have been, but interesting enough
in their way, and very well calculated to provide the material needed
for the filling out of the required number of pages. Furthermore,
they completed the picture.
"I don't want to put in three vivid figures, and leave the reader to
imagine that the rest of the world has been wiped out of existence,"
said Harley, as he talked it over with me. "That is not art. There
should be three types of character in every book--the positive, the
average, and the negative. In that way you grade your story off into
the rest of the world, and your reader feels that while he may never
have met the positive characters, he has met the average or the
negative, or both, and is therefore by one of these links connected
with the others, and that gives him a personal interest in the story;
and it's the reader's personal interest that the writer is after."
So Miss Andrews was provided with a very conventional aunt--the kind
of woman you meet with everywhere; most frequently in church
squabbles and hotel parlors, however. Mrs. Corwin was this lady's
name, and she was to enact the role of chaperon to Miss Andrews.
With Mrs. Corwin, by force of circumstances, came a pair of twin
children, like those in the Heavenly Twins, only more real, and not
so Sarah Grandiose in their manners and wit.
These persons Harley booked for the steamship New York, sailing from
New York City for Southampton on the third day of July, 1895. The
action was to open at that time, and Marguerite Andrews was to meet
Horace Balderstone on that vessel on the evening of the second day
out, with which incident the interest of Harley's story was to begin.
But Harley had counted without his heroine. The rest of his cast
were safely stowed away on ship-board and ready for action at the
appointed hour, but the heroine MISSED THE STEAMER BY THREE MINUTES,
AND IT WAS ALL HARLEY'S OWN FAULT.
CHAPTER II: A PRELIMINARY TRIAL
"I'll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool
To shake the head, relent, and sigh, and yield."
- "Merchant of Venice."
The extraordinary failure of Miss Andrews, cast for a star role in
Stuart Harley's tale of Love and Villany, to appear upon the stage
selected by the author for her debut, must be explained. As I have
already stated at the close of the preceding chapter, it was entirely
Harley's own fault. He had studied Miss Andrews too superficially to
grasp thoroughly the more refined subtleties of her nature, and he
found out, at a moment when it was too late to correct his error,
that she was not a woman to be slighted in respect to the
conventionalities of polite life, however trifling to a man of
Harley's stamp these might seem to be. She was a stickler for form;
and when she was summoned to go on board of an ocean steamship there
to take part in a romance for the mere aggrandizement of a young
author, she intended that he should not ignore the proprieties, even
if in a sense the proprieties to which she referred did antedate the
period at which his story was to open. She was willing to appear,
but it seemed to her that Stuart Harley ought to see to it that she
was escorted to the scene of action with the ceremony due to one of
"What does he take me for?" she asked of Mrs. Corwin, indignantly, on
the eve of her departure. "Am I a mere marionette, to obey his
slightest behest, and at a moment's notice? Am I to dance when
Stuart Harley pulls the string?"
"Not at all, my dear Marguerite," said Mrs. Corwin, soothingly. "If
he thought that, he would not have selected you for his story. I
think you ought to feel highly complimented that Mr. Harley should
choose you for one of his books, and for such a conspicuous part,
too. Look at me; do I complain? Am I holding out for the
proprieties? And yet what is my situation? I'm simply dragged in by
the hair; and my poor children, instead of having a nice, noisy
Fourth of July at the sea-shore, must needs be put upon a great
floating caravansary, to suffer seasickness and the other discomforts
of ocean travel, so as to introduce a little juvenile fun into this
great work of Mr. Harley's--and yet I bow my head meekly and go.
Why? Because I feel that, inconspicuous though I shall be,
nevertheless I am highly honored that Mr. Harley should select me
from among many for the uses of his gifted pen."
"You are prepared, then," retorted Marguerite, "to place yourself
unreservedly in Mr. Harley's hands? Shall you flirt with the captain
if he thinks your doing so will add to the humorous or dramatic
interest of his story? Will you permit your children to make
impertinent remarks to every one aboard ship; to pick up sailors'
slang and use it at the dining-table--in short, to make themselves
obnoxiously clever at all times, in order that Mr. Harley's critics
may say that his book fairly scintillates with wit, and gives
gratifying evidence that 'the rising young author' has made a deep
and careful analysis of the juvenile heart?"
"Mr. Harley is too much of a gentleman, Marguerite, to place me and
my children in a false or ridiculous light," returned Mrs. Corwin,
severely. "And even if he were not a gentleman, he is too true a
realist to make me do anything which in the nature of things I should
not do--which disposes of your entirely uncalled-for remark about the
captain and myself. As for the children, Tommie would not repeat
sailors' lingo at the table under any circumstances, and Jennie will
not make herself obnoxiously clever at any time, because she has been
brought up too carefully to fail to respect her elders. Both she and
Tommie understand themselves thoroughly; and when Mr. Harley
understands them, which he cannot fail to do after a short
acquaintance, he will draw them as they are; and if previous to his
complete understanding of their peculiarities he introduces into his
story something foreign to their natures and obnoxious to me, their
mother, I have no doubt he will correct his error when he comes to
read the proofs of his story and sees his mistake."
"You have great confidence in Stuart Harley," retorted Miss Andrews,
gazing out of the window with a pensive cast of countenance.
"Haven't you?" asked Mrs. Corwin, quickly.
"As a man, yes," returned Marguerite. "As an author, however, I
think he is open to criticism. He is not always true to the real.
Look at Lord Barncastle, in his study of English manners!
Barncastle, as he drew him, was nothing but a New York society man
with a title, living in England. That is to say, he talked like an
American, thought like one--there was no point of difference between
"And why should there be?" asked Mrs. Corwin. "If a New York society
man is generally a weak imitation of an English peer--and no one has
ever denied that such is the case--why shouldn't an English peer be
represented as a sort of intensified New York society man?"
"Besides," said Miss Andrews, ignoring Mrs. Corwin's point, "I don't
care to be presented too really to the reading public, especially on
board a ship. I never yet knew a woman who looked well the second
day out, and if I were to be presented as I always am the second day
out, I should die of mortification. My hair goes out of curl, my
face is the color of an unripe peach, and if I do go up on deck it is
because I am so thoroughly miserable that I do not care who sees me
or what the world thinks of me. I think it is very inconsiderate of
Mr. Harley to open his story on an ocean steamer; and, what is more,
I don't like the American line. Too many Americans of the brass-band
type travel on it. Stuart Harley said so himself in his last book of
foreign travel; but he sends me out on it just the same, and expects
me to be satisfied. Perhaps he thinks I like that sort of American.
If he does, he's got more imagination than he ever showed in his
"You must get to the other side in some way," said Mrs. Corwin. "It
is at Venice that the trouble with Balderstone is to come, and that
Osborne topples him over into the Grand Canal, and rescues you from
his baleful influence."
"Humph!" said Marguerite, with a scornful shrug of her shoulders.
"Robert Osborne! A likely sort of person to rescue me from anything!
He wouldn't have nerve enough to rescue me from a grasshopper if he
were armed to the teeth. Furthermore, I shall not go to Venice in
August. It's bad enough in April--damp and hot--the home of malaria-
-an asylum for artistic temperaments; and insecty. No, my dear aunt,
even if I overlook everything else to please Mr. Harley, he'll have
to modify the Venetian part of that story, for I am determined that
no pen of his shall force me into Italy at this season. I wouldn't
go there to please Shakespeare, much less Stuart Harley. Let the
affair come off at Interlaken, if it is to come off at all, which I
"There is no Grand Canal at Interlaken," said Mrs. Corwin, sagely;
for she had been an omnivorous reader of Baedeker since she had
learned the part she was to play in Harley's book, and was therefore
well up in geography.
"No; but there's the Jungfrau. Osborne can push Balderstone down the
side of an Alp and kill him," returned Miss Andrews, viciously.
"Why, Marguerite! How can you talk so? Mr. Harley doesn't wish to
have Balderstone killed," cried Mrs. Corwin, aghast. "If Osborne
killed Balderstone he'd be a murderer, and they'd execute him."
"Which is exactly what I want," said Miss Andrews, firmly. "If he
lives, it pleases the omnipotent Mr. Harley that I shall marry him,
and I positively--Well, just you wait and see."
There was silence for some minutes.
"Then I suppose you will decline to go abroad altogether?" asked Mrs.
Corwin after a while; "and Mr. Harley will be forced to get some one
else; and I--I shall be deprived of a pleasant tour--because I'm only
to be one of the party because I'm your aunt."
Mrs. Corwin's lip quivered a little as she spoke. She had
anticipated much pleasure from her trip.
"No, I shall not decline to go," Miss Andrews replied. "I expect to
go, but it is entirely on your account. I must say, however, that
Stuart Harley will find out, to his sorrow, that I am not a doll, to
be worked with a string. I shall give him a scare at the outset
which will show him that I know the rights of a heroine, and that he
must respect them. For instance, he cannot ignore my comfort. Do
you suppose that because his story is to open with my beautiful self
on board that ship, I'm to be there without his making any effort to
get me there? Not I! You and the children and Osborne and
Balderstone may go down any way you please. You may go on the
elevated railroad or on foot. You may go on the horse-cars, or you
may go on the luggage-van. It is immaterial to me what you do; but
when it comes to myself, Stuart Harley must provide a carriage, or I
miss the boat. I don't wish to involve you in this. You want to go,
and are willing to go in his way, which simply means turning up at
the right moment, with no trouble to him. From your point of view it
is all right. You are anxious to go abroad, and are grateful to Mr.
Harley for letting you go. For me, however, he must do differently.
I have no particular desire to leave America, and if I go at all it
is as a favor to him, and he must act accordingly. It is a case of
carriage or no heroine. If I'm left behind, you and the rest can go
along without me. I shall do very well, and it will be Mr. Harley's
own fault. It may hurt his story somewhat, but that is no concern of
"I suppose the reason why he doesn't send a carriage is that that
part of your life doesn't appear in his story," explained Mrs.
"That doesn't affect the point that he ought to send one," said
Marguerite. "He needn't write up the episode of the ride to the pier
unless he wants to, but the fact remains that it's his duty to see me
safely on board from my home, and that he shall do, or I fail him at
the moment he needs me. If he is selfish enough to overlook the
matter, he must suffer the consequences."
All of which, I think, was very reasonable. No heroine likes to feel
that she is called into being merely to provide copy for the person
who is narrating her story; and to be impressed with the idea that
the moment she is off the stage she must shift entirely for herself
is too humiliating to be compatible with true heroism.
Now it so happened that in his meditations upon that opening chapter
the scene of which was to be placed on board of the New York, Stuart
realized that his story of Miss Andrews's character had indeed been
too superficial. He found that out at the moment he sat down to
describe her arrival at the pier, as it would be in all likelihood.
What would she say the moment she--the moment she what?--the moment
she "emerged from the perilous stream of vehicles which crowd West
Street from morning until night," or the moment "she stepped out of
the cab as it drew up at the foot of the gangway"? That was the
point. How would she arrive--on foot or in a cab? Which way would
she come, and at what time must she start from home? Should she come
alone, or should Mrs. Corwin and the twins come with her?--or would a
woman of her stamp not be likely to have an intimate friend to
accompany her to the steamer? Stuart was a rapid thinker, and as he
pondered over these problems it did not take him long to reach the
conclusion that a cab was necessary for Miss Andrews; and that Mrs.
Corwin and the twins, with Osborne and Balderstone, might get aboard
in their own way. He also decided that it would be an excellent plan
to have Marguerite's old school friend Mrs. Willard accompany her to
the steamer. By an equally rapid bit of thought he concluded that if
the cab started from the Andrews apartment at Fifty-ninth Street and
Central Park at 9.30 A.M., the trip to the pier could easily be made
in an hour, which would be in ample time, since the sailing hour of
the New York was eleven. Unfortunately Harley, in his hurry, forgot
two or three incidents of departures generally, especially departures
of women, which he should not have overlooked. It was careless of
him to forget that a woman about to travel abroad wants to make
herself as stunning as she possibly can on the day of departure, so
that the impression she will make at the start shall be strong enough
to carry her through the dowdy stage which comes, as Marguerite had
intimated, on the second and third days at sea; and to expect a woman
like Marguerite Andrews, who really had no responsibilities to call
her up at an early hour, to be ready at 9.30 sharp, was a fatal
error, unless he provided his cab with an unusually fast horse, or a
pair of horses, both of which Harley neglected to do. Miss Andrews
was twenty minutes late at starting the first time, and just a half-
hour behind schedule time when, having rushed back to her rooms for
her gloves, which in the excitement of the moment she had forgotten,
she started finally for the ship. Even then all would have been well
had the unfortunate author not overlooked one other vital point.
Instead of sending the cab straight down Fifth Avenue, to Broadway,
to Barclay Street, he sent it down Sixth, and thence through
Greenwich Village, emerging at West Street at its junction with
Christopher, and then the inevitable happened.
THE CAB WAS BLOCKED!
"I had no idea it was so far," said Marguerite, looking out of the
cab window at the crowded and dirty thoroughfare.
"It's a good mile farther yet," replied Mrs. Willard. "I shall have
just that much more of your society."
"It looks to me," said Marguerite, with a short laugh, as the cab
came suddenly to a halt -"it looks to me as if you were likely to
have more than that of it; for we are in an apparently inextricable,
immovable mixture of trucks, horse-cars, and incompetent policemen,
and nothing short of a miracle will get us a mile farther along in
"I do believe you are right," said Mrs. Willard, looking at her watch
anxiously. "What will you do if you miss the steamer?"
"Escape a horrid fate," laughed Marguerite, gayly.
"Poor Mr. Harley--why, it will upset his whole story," said Mrs.
"And save his reputation," said Marguerite. "It wouldn't have been
real, that story," she added. "In the first place, Balderstone
couldn't write a story that would fascinate me; he could never
acquire a baleful influence over me; and, finally, I never should
marry Robert Osborne under any circumstances. He's not at all the
style of man I admire. I'm willing to go along and let Mr. Harley
try to work it out his way, but he will give it up as a bad idea
before long--if I catch the steamer; and if I don't, then he'll have
to modify the story. That modified, I'm willing to be his heroine."
"But your aunt and the twins--they must be aboard by this time. They
will be worried to death about you," suggested Mrs. Willard.
"For a few moments--but Aunt Emma wanted to go, and she and the rest
of them will have a good time, I've no doubt," replied Miss Andrews,
calmly; and here Stuart Harley's heroine actually chuckled. "And
maybe Mr. Harley can make a match between Aunt Emma and Osborne,
which will suit the publishers and please the American girl," she
said, gleefully. "I almost hope we do miss it."
And miss it they did, as I have already told you, by three minutes.
As the cab entered the broad pier, the great steamer moved slowly but
surely out into the stream, and Mrs. Willard and Mr. Harley's heroine
were just in time to see Mrs. Corwin wildly waving her parasol at the
captain on the bridge, beseeching him in agonized tones to go back
just for a moment, while two separate and distinct twins, one male
and one female, peered over the rail, weeping bitterly. Incidentally
mention may be made of two young men, Balderstone and Osborne, who
sat chatting gayly together in the smoking-room.
"Well, Osborne," said one, lighting his cigar, "she didn't arrive."
"No," smiled the other. "Fact is, Balderstone, I'm glad of it.
She's too snippy for me, and I'm afraid I should have quarrelled with
you about her in a half-hearted, unconvincing manner."
"I'm afraid I'd have been the same," rejoined Balderstone; "for,
between us, there's a pretty little brunette from Chicago up on deck,
and Marguerite Andrews would have got little attention from me while
she was about, unless Harley violently outraged my feelings and his
And so the New York sailed out to sea, and Marguerite Andrews watched
her from the pier until she had faded from view.
As for Stuart Harley, the author, he sat in his study, wringing his
hands and cursing his carelessness.
"I'll have to modify the whole story now," he said, impatiently,
"since it is out of my power to bring the New York back into port,
with my hero, villain, chaperon, and twins; but whenever or wherever
the new story may be laid, Marguerite Andrews shall be the heroine--
she interests me. Meantime let Mrs. Willard chaperon her."
And closing his manuscript book with a bang, Harley lit a cigarette,
put on his hat, and went to the club.
CHAPTER III: THE RECONSTRUCTION BEGINS
"Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human."--BURNS.
When, a few days later, Harley came to the reconstruction of his
story, he began to appreciate the fact that what had seemed at first
to be his misfortune was, on the whole, a matter for congratulation;
and as he thought over the people he had sent to sea, he came to
rejoice that Marguerite was not one of the party.
"Osborne wasn't her sort, after all," he mused to himself that night
over his coffee. "He hadn't much mind. I'm afraid I banked too much
on his good looks, and too little upon what I might call her
independence; for of all the heroines I ever had, she is the most
sufficient unto herself. Had she gone along I'm half afraid I
couldn't have got rid of Balderstone so easily either, for he's a
determined devil as I see him; and his intellectual qualities were so
vastly superior to those of Osborne that by mere contrast they would
most certainly have appealed to her strongly. The baleful influence
might have affected her seriously, and Osborne was never the man to
overcome it, and strict realism would have forced her into an
undesirable marriage. Yes, I'm glad it turned out the way it did;
she's too good for either of them. I couldn't have done the tale as
I intended without a certain amount of compulsion, which would never
have worked out well. She'd have been miserable with Osborne for a
husband anyhow, even if he did succeed in outwitting Balderstone."
Then Harley went into a trance for a moment. From this he emerged
almost immediately with a laugh. The travellers on the sea had come
to his mind.
"Poor Mrs. Corwin," he said, "she's awfully upset. I shall have to
give her some diversion. Let's see, what shall it be? She's a
widow, young and fascinating. H'm--not a bad foundation for a
romance. There must be a man on the ship who'd like her; but, hang
it all! there are those twins. Not much romance for her with those
twins along, unless the man's a fool; and she's too fine a woman for
a fool. Men don't fall in love with whole families that way. Now if
they had only been left on the pier with Miss Andrews, it would have
worked up well. Mrs. Corwin could have fascinated some fellow-
traveller, won his heart, accepted him at Southampton, and told him
about the twins afterwards. As a test of his affection that would be
a strong situation; but with the twins along, making the remarks they
are likely to make, and all that--no, there is no hope for Mrs.
Corwin, except in a juvenile story--something like 'Two Twins in a
Boat, not to Mention the Widow,' or something of that sort. Poor
woman! I'll let her rest in peace, for the present. She'll enjoy
her trip, anyhow; and as for Osborne and Balderstone, I'll let them
fight it out for that dark-eyed little woman from Chicago I saw on
board, and when the best man wins I'll put the whole thing into a
Then began a new quest for characters to go with Marguerite Andrews.
"She must have a chaperon, to begin with," thought Harley. "That is
indispensable. Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick regard themselves as
conservators of public morals, in their 'Blue and Silver Series,' so
a girl unmarried and without a chaperon would never do for this book.
If they were to publish it in their 'Yellow Prism Series' I could
fling all such considerations to the winds, for there they cater to
stronger palates, palates cultivated by French literary cooks, and
morals need not be considered, provided the story is well told and
likely to sell; but this is for the other series, and a chaperon is a
sine qua non. Marguerite doesn't need one half as much as the girls
in the 'Yellow Prism' books, but she's got to have one just the same,
or the American girl will not read about her: and who is better than
Dorothy Willard, who has charge of her now?"
Harley slapped his knee with delight.
"How fortunate I'd provided her!" he said. "I've got my start
already, and without having to think very hard over it either."
The trance began again, and lasted several hours, during which time
Kelly and the Professor stole softly into Harley's rooms, and,
perceiving his condition, respected it.
"He's either asleep or imagining," said the Professor, in a whisper.
"He can't imagine," returned the Doctor. "Call it--realizing.
Whatever it is he's up to, we mustn't interfere. There isn't any use
waking him anyhow. I know where he keeps his cigars. Let's sit down
and have a smoke."
This the intruders did, hoping that sooner or later their host would
observe their presence; but Harley lay in blissful unconsciousness of
their coming, and they finally grew weary of waiting.
"He must be at work on a ten-volume novel," said the Doctor. "Let's
And with that they departed. Night came on, and with it darkness,
but Harley never moved. The fact was he was going through an
examination of the human race to find a man good enough for
Marguerite Andrews, and it speaks volumes for the interest she had
suddenly inspired in his breast that it took him so long to find what
Along about nine o'clock he gave a deep sigh and returned to earth.
"I guess I've got him," he said, wearily, rubbing his forehead, which
began to ache a trifle. "I'll model him after the Professor. He's a
good fellow, moderately good-looking, has position, and certainly
knows something, as professors go. I doubt if he is imposing enough
for the American girl generally, but he's the best I can get in the
time at my disposal."
So the Professor was unconsciously slated for the office of hero;
Mrs. Willard was cast for chaperon, and the Doctor, in spite of
Harley's previous resolve not to use him, was to be introduced for
the comedy element. The villain selected was the usual poverty-
stricken foreigner with a title and a passion for wealth, which a
closer study of his heroine showed Harley that Miss Andrews
possessed; for on her way home from the pier she took Mrs. Willard to
the Amsterdam and treated her to a luncheon which nothing short of a
ten-dollar bill would pay for, after which the two went shopping,
replenishing Miss Andrews's wardrobe--most of which lay snugly stored
in the hold of the New York, and momentarily getting farther and
farther away from its fair owner--in the course of which tour Miss
Andrews expended a sum which, had Harley possessed it, would have
made it unnecessary for him to write the book he had in mind at all.
"It's good she's rich," sighed Harley. "That will make it all the
easier to have her go to Newport and attract the Count."
At the moment that Harley spoke these words to himself Mrs. Willard
and Marguerite, accompanied by Mr. Willard, entered the mansion of
the latter on Fifth Avenue. They had spent the afternoon and evening
at the Andrews apartment, arranging for its closing until the return
of Mrs. Corwin. Marguerite meanwhile was to be the guest of the
"Next week we'll run up to Newport," said Dorothy. "The house is
ready, and Bob is going for his cruise."
Marguerite looked at her curiously for a moment.
"Did you intend to go there all along?" she asked.
"Yes--of course. Why do you ask?" returned Mrs. Willard.
"Why, that very idea came into my mind at the moment," replied
Marguerite. "I thought this afternoon I'd run up to Riverdale and
stay with the Hallidays next week, when all of a sudden Newport came
into my mind, and it has been struggling there with Riverdale for two
hours--until I almost began to believe somebody was trying to compel
me to go to Newport. If it is your idea, and has been all along,
I'll go; but if Stuart Harley is trying to get me down there for
literary purposes, I simply shall not do it."
"You had better dismiss that idea from your mind at once, my dear,"
said Mrs. Willard. "Mr. Harley never compels. No compulsion is the
corner-stone of his literary structure; free will is his creed: you
may count on that. If he means to make you his heroine still, it
will be at Newport if you are at Newport, at Riverdale if you happen
to be at Riverdale. Do come with me, even if he does impress you as
endeavoring to force you; for at Newport I shall be your chaperon,
and I should dearly love to be put in a book--with you. Bob has
asked Jack Perkins down, and Mrs. Howlett writes me that Count
Bonetti, of Naples, is there, and is a really delightful fellow. We
"You simply confirm my fears," interrupted Marguerite. "You are to
be Harley's chaperon, Professor Perkins is his hero, and Count
Bonetti is the villain--"
"Why, Marguerite, how you talk!" cried Mrs. Willard. "Do you exist
merely in Stuart Harley's brain? Do I? Are we none of us living
creatures to do as we will? Are we nothing more than materials
pigeon-holed for Mr. Harley's future use? Has Count Bonetti crossed
the ocean just to please Mr. Harley?"
"I don't know what I believe," said Miss Andrews, "and I don't care
much either way, as long as I have independence of action. I'll go
with you, Dorothy; but if it turns out, as I fear, that we are
expected to act our parts in a Harley romance, that romance will
receive a shock from which it will never recover."
"Why do you object so to Mr. Harley, anyhow? I thought you liked his
books," said Mrs. Willard.
"I do; some of them," Marguerite answered; "and I like him; but he
does not understand me, and until he does he shall not put me in his
stories. I'll rout him at every point, until he--"
Marguerite paused. Her face flushed. Tears came into her eyes.
"Until he what, dearest?" asked Mrs. Willard, sympathetically.
"I don't know," said Marguerite, with a quiver in her voice, as she
rose and left the room.
"I fancy we'd better go at once, Bob," said Mrs. Willard to her
husband, later on. "Marguerite is quite upset by the experiences of
the day, and New York is fearfully hot."
"I agree with you," returned Willard. "Jerrold sent word this
afternoon that the boat will be ready Friday, instead of Thursday of
next week; so if you'll pack up to-morrow we can board her Friday,
and go up the Sound by water instead of by rail. It will be
pleasanter for all hands."
Which was just what Harley wanted. The Willards were of course not
conscious of the fact, though Mrs. Willard's sympathy with Marguerite
led her to suspect that such was the case; for that such was the case
was what Marguerite feared.
"We are being forced, Dorothy," she said, as she stepped on the yacht
two days later.
"Well, what if we are? It's pleasanter going this way than by rail,
isn't it?" Mrs. Willard replied, with some impatience. "If we owe
all this to Stuart Harley, we ought to thank him for his kindness.
According to your theory he could have sent us up on a hot, dusty
train, and had a collision ready for us at New London, in order to
kill off a few undesirable characters and give his hero a chance to
distinguish himself. I think that even from your own point of view
Mr. Harley is behaving in a very considerate fashion."
"No doubt you think so," returned Marguerite, spiritedly. "But it's
different with you. You are settled in life. Your husband is the
man of your choice; you are happy, with everything you want. You
will do nothing extraordinary in the book. If you did do something
extraordinary you would cease to be a good chaperon, and from that
moment would be cast aside; but I--I am in a different position
altogether. I am a single woman, unsettled as yet, for whom this
author in his infinite wisdom deems it necessary to provide a lover
and husband; and in order that his narrative of how I get this person
he has selected--without consulting my tastes--may interest a lot of
other girls, who are expected to buy and read his book, he makes me
the object of an intriguing fortune-hunter from Italy. I am to
believe he is a real nobleman, and all that; and a stupid wiseacre
from the York University, who can't dance, and who thinks of nothing
but his books and his club, is to come in at the right moment and
expose the Count, and all such trash as that. I know at the outset
how it all is to be. You couldn't deceive a sensible girl five
minutes with Count Bonetti, any more than that Balderstone man, who
is now making a useless trip across the Atlantic with my aunt and her
twins, could have exerted a 'baleful influence' over me with his
diluted spiritualism. I'm not an idiot, my dear Dorothy."
"You are a heroine, love," returned Mrs. Willard.
"Perhaps--but I am the kind of heroine who would stop a play five
minutes after the curtain had risen on the first act if the remaining
four acts depended on her failing to see something that was plain to
the veriest dolt in the audience," Marguerite replied, with spirit.
"Nobody shall ever write me up save as I am."
"Well--perhaps you are wrong this time. Perhaps Mr. Harley isn't
going to make a book of you," said Mrs. Willard.
"Very likely he isn't," said Marguerite; "but he's trying it--I know
"And how, pray?" asked Mrs. Willard.
"That," said Marguerite, her frown vanishing and a smile taking its
place--"that is for the present my secret. I'll tell you some day,
but not until I have baffled Mr. Harley in his ill-advised purpose of
marrying me off to a man I don't want, and wouldn't have under any
circumstances. Even if I had caught the New York the other day his
plans would have miscarried. I'd never have married that Osborne
man; I'd have snubbed Balderstone the moment he spoke to me; and if
Stuart Harley had got a book out of my trip to Europe at all, it
would have been a series of papers on some such topic as 'The
Spinster Abroad, or How to be Happy though Single.' No more shall I
take the part he intends me to in this Newport romance, unless he
removes Count Bonetti from the scene entirely, and provides me with a
different style of hero from his Professor, the original of whom, by-
the-way, as I happen to know, is already married and has two
children. I went to school with his wife, and I know just how much
of a hero he is."
And so they went to Newport, and Harley's novel opened swimmingly.
His description of the yacht was perfect; his narration of the
incidents of the embarkation could not be improved upon in any way.
They were absolutely true to the life.
But his account of what Marguerite Andrews said and did and thought
while on the Willards' yacht was not realism at all--it was
imagination of the wildest kind, for she said, did, and thought
nothing of the sort.
Harley did his best, but his heroine was obdurate, and the poor
fellow did not know that he was writing untruths, for he verily
believed that he heard and saw all that he attributed to her exactly
as he put it down.
So the story began well, and Harley for a time was quite happy. At
the end of a week, however, he had a fearful set-back. Count Bonetti
was ready to be presented to Marguerite according to the plan, but
there the schedule broke down.
Harley's heroine took a new and entirely unexpected tack.
CHAPTER IV: A CHAPTER FROM HARLEY, WITH NOTES
"Good-bye, proud world, I'm going home.
Thou art not my friend, and I'm not thine."
I think the reader will possibly gain a better idea of what happened
at the Howlett dance, at which Count Bonetti was to have been
presented to Miss Andrews, if I forego the pleasure of writing this
chapter myself, and produce instead the chapter of Stuart Harley's
ill-fated book which was to have dealt with that most interesting
incident. Having relinquished all hope of ever getting that
particular story into shape without a change of heroine, and being
unwilling to go to that extreme, Mr. Harley has very kindly placed
his manuscript at my disposal.
"Use it as you will, my dear fellow," he said, when I asked him for
it. "I can't do anything with it myself, and it is merely occupying
space in my pigeon-holes for which I can find better use. It may
need a certain amount of revision--in fact, it is sure to, for it is
unconscionably long, and, thanks to the persistent failure of Miss
Andrews to do as I thought she would, may frequently seem incoherent.
For your own sake revise it, for the readers of your book won't
believe that you are telling a true story anyhow; they will say that
you wrote this chapter and attributed it to me, and you will find
yourself held responsible for its shortcomings. I have inserted a
few notes here and there which will give you an idea of what I
suffered as I wrote on and found her growing daily less and less
tractable, with occasionally an indication of the point of divergence
between her actual behavior and that which I expected of her."
To a fellow-workman in literary fields this chapter is of pathetic
interest, though it may not so appear to the reader who knows little
of the difficulties of authorship. I can hardly read it myself
without a feeling of most intense pity for poor Harley. I can
imagine the sleepless nights which followed the shattering of his
hopes as to what his story might be by the recalcitrant attitude of
the young woman he had honored so highly by selecting her for his
heroine. I can almost feel the bitter sense of disappointment, which
must have burned to the very depths of his soul, when he finally
realized how completely overturned were all his plans, and I cannot
forego calling attention to the constancy to his creed of Stuart
Harley, in sacrificing his opportunity rather than his principles, as
shown by his resolute determination not to force Miss Andrews to do
his bidding, even though it required merely the dipping of his pen
into the ink and the resolution to do so.
I cannot blame her, however. Granting to Harley the right to a
creed, Miss Andrews, too, it must be admitted, was entitled to have
views as to how she ought to behave under given circumstances, and if
she found her notions running counter to his, it was only proper that
she should act according to the dictates of her own heart, or mind,
or whatever else it may be that a woman reasons with, rather than
according to his wishes.
As to all questions of this kind, however, as between the two, the
reader must judge, and one document in evidence is Harley's chapter,
which ran in this wise:
"Stop beating, heart, and in a moment calm
The question answer--is this, then, my fate?"
- PERKINS'S "Odes."
As the correspondents of the New York papers had surmised,
invitations for the Howlett ball were issued on the 12th. It is not
surprising that the correspondents in this instance should be guilty
of that rare crime among society reporters, accuracy, for their
information was derived from a perfectly reliable source, Mrs.
Howlett's butler, in whose hands the addressing of the envelopes had
been placed--a man of imposing presence, and of great value to the
professional snappers-up of unconsidered trifles of social gossip in
the pay of the Sunday newspapers, with many of whom he was on terms
of closest intimacy. Of course Mrs. Howlett was not aware that her
household contained a personage of great journalistic importance, any
more than her neighbor, Mrs. Floyd-Hopkins, was aware that it was her
maid who had furnished the Weekly Journal of Society with the vivid
account of the scandalous behavior, at her last dinner, of Major
Pompoly, who had to be forcibly ejected from the Floyd-Hopkins
domicile by the husband of Mrs. Jernigan Smith--a social morsel which
attracted much attention several years ago. Every effort was made to
hush that matter up, and the guests all swore eternal secrecy; but
the Weekly Journal of Society had it, and, strangely enough, had it
right, in its next issue; but the maid was never suspected, even
though she did appear to be possessed of more ample means than usual
for some time after. Mrs. Floyd-Hopkins preferred to suspect one of
her guests, and, on the whole, was not sorry that the matter had got
abroad, for everybody talked about it, and through the episode her
dinner became one of the historic banquets of the season.
The Willards, who were by this time comfortably settled at "The
Needles," their cottage on the cliff, it is hardly necessary to
state, were among those invited, and with their cards was included
one for Marguerite. Added to the card was a personal note from Mrs.
Howlett to Miss Andrews, expressing the especial hope that she would
not fail them, all of which was very gratifying to the young girl.
"See what I've got," she cried, gleefully, running into Mrs.
Willard's "den" at the head of the beautiful oaken stairs.
(Note.--At this point in Harley's manuscript there is evidence of
indecision on the author's part. His heroine had begun to bother him
a trifle. He had written a half-dozen lines descriptive of Miss
Andrews's emotions at receiving a special note of invitation,
subsequently erasing them. The word "gleefully" had been scratched
out, and then restored in place of "scornfully," which had at first
been substituted for it. It was plain that Harley was not quite
certain as to how much a woman of Miss Andrews's type would care for
a special attention of this nature, even if she cared for it at all.
As a matter of fact, the word chosen should have been "dubiously,"
and neither "gleefully" nor "scornfully"; for the real truth was that
there was no reason why Mrs. Howlett should so honor Marguerite, and
the girl at once began to wonder if it were not an extra precaution
of Harley's to assure her presence at the ball for the benefit of
himself and his publishers. The author finally wrote it as I have
given it above, however, and Miss Andrews received her special
invitation "gleefully"--according to Harley. He perceives her doubt,
however, without comprehending it; for after describing Mrs.
Willard's reading of the note, he goes on.)
"That is very nice of Mrs. Howlett," said Mrs. Willard, handing
Marguerite back her note. "It is a special honor, my dear, by which
you should feel highly flattered. She doesn't often do things like
"I should think not," said Marguerite. "I am a perfect stranger to
her, and that she should do it at all strikes me as being most
extraordinary. It doesn't seem sincere, and I can't help thinking
that some extraneous circumstance has been brought to bear upon her
to force her to do it."
(Note.--Stuart Harley has commented upon this as follows: "As I read
this over I must admit that Miss Andrews was right. Why I had Mrs.
Howlett do such a thing I don't know, unless it was that my own
admiration for my heroine led me to believe that some more than usual
attention was her due. In my own behalf I will say that I should in
all probability have eliminated or corrected this false note when I
came to the revision of my proofs." The chapter then proceeds.)
"What shall we wear?" mused Mrs. Willard, as Marguerite folded Mrs.
Howlett's note and replaced it in its envelope.
"I must positively decline to discuss that question. It is of no
public interest," snapped Marguerite, her face flushing angrily. "My
clothing is my own business, and no one's else." She paused a
moment, and then, in an apologetic tone, she added, "I'd be perfectly
willing to talk with you about it generally, my dear Dorothy, but not
Mrs. Willard looked at the girl in surprise.
(Note.--Stuart Harley has written this in the margin: "Here you have
one of the situations which finally compelled me to relinquish this
story. You know yourself how hard it is to make 30,000 words out of
a slight situation, and at the same time stick to probability. I had
an idea, in mapping out this chapter, that I could make three or four
interesting pages--interesting to the girls, mind you--out of a
discussion of what they should wear at the Howlett dance. It was a
perfectly natural subject for discussion at the time and under the
circumstances. It would have been a good thing in the book, too, for
it might have conveyed a few wholesome hints in the line of good
taste in dress which would have made my story of some value. Women
are always writing to the papers, asking, 'What shall I wear here?'
and 'What shall I wear there?' The ideas of two women like Mrs.
Willard and Marguerite Andrews would have been certain to be
interesting, elevating, and exceedingly useful to such people, but
the moment I attempted to involve them in that discussion Miss
Andrews declined utterly to speak, and I was cut out of some six or
seven hundred quite important words. I had supposed all women alike
in that matter, but I find I was mistaken; one, at least, won't
discuss clothes--but I don't wonder that Mrs. Willard looked up in
surprise. I put that in just to please myself, for of course the
whole incident would have had to be cut out when the manuscript went
to the type-setter." The chapter takes a new lead here, as follows:)
Mrs. Willard was punctiliously prompt in sending the acceptances of
herself and Mr. Willard to Mrs. Howlett, and at the same time
Marguerite's acceptance was despatched, although she was at first
disposed to send her regrets. She was only moderately fond of those
inconsequent pleasures which make the life social. She was a good
dancer, but a more excellent talker, and she preferred talking to
dancing; but the inanity of what are known as stair talks at dances
oppressed her; nor did she look forward with any degree of pleasure
to what we might term conservatory confidences, which in these
luxurious days have become so large a factor in terpsichorean
diversions, for Marguerite was of a practical nature. She had once
chilled the heart of a young poet by calling Venice malarious (Harley
little realized when he wrote this how he would have suffered had he
carried out his original intention and transplanted Marguerite to the
City of the Sea!), and a conservatory to her was a thing for mid-day,
and not for midnight. She was therefore not particularly anxious to
spend an evening--which began at an aggravatingly late hour instead
of at a reasonable time, thanks to a social custom which has its
foundation in nothing short of absolute insanity--in the pursuit of
nothing of greater value than dancing, stair talks, and conservatory
confidences; but Mrs. Willard soon persuaded her that she ought to
go, and go she did.
It was a beautiful night, that of the 22d of July. Newport was at
her best. The morning had been oppressively warm, but along about
three in the afternoon a series of short and sharp electrical storms
came, and as quickly went, cooling the heated city, and freshening up
the air until it was as clear as crystal, and refreshing as a draught
of cold spring-water.
At the Howlett mansion on Bellevue Avenue all was in readiness for
the event. The caterer's wagons had arrived with their dainty
contents, and had gone, and now the Hungarian band was sending forth
over the cool night air those beautiful and weird waves of melody
which entrance the most unwilling ear. About the broad and spacious
grounds festooned lights hung from tree to tree; here and there
little rose-scented bowers for tete-a-tete talks were set; from
within, streaming through the windows in regal beauty, came the
lights of the vast ballroom, the reception-rooms, and the beautifully
designed dining-hall--lately added by young Morris Black, the
architect, to Mrs. Howlett's already perfect house.
On the ballroom floor are some ten or twenty couples gracefully
waltzing to the strains of Sullivan, and in the midst of these we see
Marguerite Andrews threading her way across the room with some
difficulty, attended by Mr. and Mrs. Willard. They have just
arrived. As Marguerite walks across the hall she attracts every one.
There is that about her which commands attention. At the instant of
her entrance Count Bonetti is on the qui Vive.
"Py Chove!" he cries, as he leans gracefully against the doorway
opening into the conservatory. "Zare, my dear friend, zat iss my
idea of ze truly peautiful woman. Vat iss her name?"
"That is Miss Andrews of New York, Count," the person addressed
replies. "She is up here with the Willards."
"I musd meed her," says the Count, his eye following Marguerite as
she walks up to Mrs. Howlett and is greeted effusively by that lady.
Marguerite is pale, and appears anxious. Even to the author the ways
of the women in his works are inscrutable; so upon this occasion.
She is pale, but I cannot say why. Can it be that she has an
intuitive knowledge that to-night may decide her whole future life?
Who can tell? Woman's intuitions are great, and there be those who
say they are unerringly true. One by one, with the exception of
Count Bonetti, the young men among Mrs. Howlett's guests are
presented--Bonetti prefers to await a more favorable opportunity--and
to all Marguerite appears to be the beautiful woman she is. Hers is
an instant success. A new beauty has dawned upon the Newport
Let us describe her as she stands.
(Note.--There is a blank space left here. At first I thought it was
because Harley wished to reflect a little before drawing a picture of
so superb a woman as he seemed to think her, and go on to the
conclusion of the chapter, the main incidents being hot in his mind,
and the purely descriptive matters more easily left to calmer
moments. He informs me, however, that such was not the case. "When
I came to describe her as she stood," he said, "she had disappeared,
and I had to search all over the house before I finally found her in
the conservatory. So I changed the chapter to read thus:")
After a half-hour of dancing and holding court--for Marguerite's
triumph was truly that of a queen, it was so complete--Miss Andrews
turned to Mr. Willard and took his arm.
"Let us go into the conservatory," she said, in a whisper. "I have
heard so much about Mrs. Howlett's orchids, I should like to see
Willard, seeing that she was tired and slightly bored by the
incessant chatter of those about her, escorted her out through the
broad door into the conservatory. As she passed from the ballroom
the dark eyes of Count Bonetti flashed upon her, but she heeded them
not, moving on into the floral bower in apparently serene
unconsciousness of that person's presence. Here Willard got her a
"Will you have an ice?" he asked, as she seated herself beneath one
of the lofty palms.
"Yes," she answered, simply. "I can wait here alone if you will get
Willard passed out, and soon returned with the ice; but as he came
through the doorway Bonetti stopped him and whispered something in
"Certainly, Count, right away," Willard answered. "Come along."
Bonetti needed no second bidding, but followed Willard closely, and
soon stood expectant before Marguerite.
"Miss Andrews," said Willard, "may I have the pleasure of presenting
The Count's head nearly collided with his toes in the bow that he
"Mr. Willard," returned Miss Andrews, coldly, ignoring the Count,
"feeling as I do that Count Bonetti is merely a bogus Count with
acquisitive instincts, brought here, like myself, for literary
purposes of which I cannot approve, I must reply to your question
that you may not have that pleasure."
With which remark (concludes Stuart Harley) Miss Marguerite Andrews
swept proudly from the room, ordered her carriage, and went home,
thereby utterly ruining the second story of her life that I had
undertaken to write. But I shall make one more effort.
CHAPTER V: AN EXPERIMENT
"And thus I'll curb her mad and headstrong humor.
He that knows better how to tame a shrew,
Now let him speak; 'tis charity to show."
--"Taming of the Shrew."
"What would have happened if she had behaved differently, Stuart?" I
asked, after I had read the pages he had so kindly placed at my
"Oh, nothing in particular to which she could reasonably object,"
returned Harley. "The incidents of a truly realistic novel are
rarely objectionable, except to people of a captious nature. I
intended to have Bonetti dance attendance upon Miss Andrews for the
balance of the season, that's all, hoping thereby to present a good
picture of life at Newport in July and part of August. About the
middle of August I was going to transport the whole cast to Bar
Harbor, for variety's sake. That would have been another opportunity
to get a good deal of the American summer atmosphere into the book.
I wish I could afford the kind of summer I contemplated giving her."
"You didn't intend that she should fall in love with Bonetti?" I
"Not to any serious extent," said Harley, deprecatingly. "Even if
she had a little, she'd have come out of it all right as soon as the
hero turned up, and she had a chance to see the difference between a
manly man of her own country and a little titled fortune hunter from
the land of macaroni. Bonetti wasn't to be a bad fellow at all. He
was merely an Italian, which he couldn't help, being born so, and
therefore, as she said, of an acquisitive nature. There is no
villany in that, however--that is, no reprehensible villany. He was
after a rich marriage because he was fond of a life of ease. She'd
have found him amusing, at any rate."
"But he was bogus!" I suggested.
"Not at all," said Harley, impatiently. "That's what vexes me more
than anything else. She made a very bad mistake there. As a Count,
Bonetti was quite as real as his financial necessities."
"It was a beastly awkward situation, that conservatory scene," said
I. "Especially for Willard. The Count might have challenged him.
What became of the Count when it was over?"
"I don't know," said Harley. "I left him to get out of his
predicament as best he could. Possibly he did challenge Willard. I
haven't taken the trouble to find out. If, as I think, however, he's
a living person, he'll extricate himself from his difficulty all
right; if he's not, and I have unwittingly allowed myself to conjure
him up in my fancy, there's no great harm done. If he's nothing more
than a marionette, let him fall on the floor, and stay there until I
find some imaginative writer who will take him off my hands--you, for
instance. You can have Bonetti for a Christmas present, with my
compliments. I'm through with him; but as for Miss Andrews, she has
been so confoundedly elusive that she has aroused my deepest
interest, and I couldn't give her up if I wanted to. I never
encountered a heroine like her in all my life before, and the one
object of my future career will be to catch her finally in the meshes
of a romance. Romance will come into her life some time. She is not
at all of an unsentimental nature--only fractious--new-womanish,
perhaps; but none the less lovable, and Cupid will have a shot at her
when she least expects it; and when it does come, I'll be on hand to
report the attempted assassination for the delectation of the
Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick public."
"I should think you would try a little persuasion, just for larks," I
"You forget I am a realist," he replied, as he went out.
Now I sincerely admired Stuart Harley, and I wished to the bottom of
my heart to help him if I could. It seemed to me that, however
admirable Miss Andrews had shown herself to be generally as a woman,
she had been an altogether unsatisfactory person in the role of a
heroine. I respected her scruples about marrying men she did not
care for, and, as I have already said, no one could deny her the
right to her own convictions; but it seemed to me that in the Bonetti
incident she might and truly ought to have acted differently when the
time came for the presentation. There is no doubt in my mind that
her little speech to Willard, in which she stated that the Count was
a fraud and might not be presented, was a deliberately planned
rebuff, and therefore not in any sense excusable. She could have
avoided it by telling Willard before leaving home that she did not
care to meet the Count. To make a scene at Mrs. Howlett's was not a
thing which a sober-minded, self-contained woman would have done; it
was bad form to behave so rudely to one of Mrs. Howlett's guests, and
was so inconsiderate of Willard and unreasonable in other ways that I
blamed her unreservedly.
"She deserves to be punished," I thought to myself, as Harley went
dejectedly out of the room. "And there is no kind of punishment for
a woman like that so galling to her soul as to find herself in the
hands of a relentless despot who forces her this way and that,
according to his whim. I'd like to play Petrucio to her Katherine
for five minutes. She'd soon find out that I'm not a realist bound
by a creed to which I must adhere. Whatever I choose to do I can do
without violating my conscientious scruples, because I haven't any
conscientious scruples in literature. And, by Jove, I'll do it!
I'll take Miss Marguerite Andrews in hand myself this very afternoon,
and I'll put her through a course of training that will make her rue
the day she ever trifled with Stuart Harley--and when he takes her up
again she'll be as meek as Moses."
Strong in my belief that I could bring the young woman to terms, I
went to my desk and tried my hand at a story, with Miss Andrews as
its heroine, and I was not particular about being realistic either.
Neither did I go off into any trances in search of heroes and
villains. I did what Harley could not do. I brought the New York
back to port that very day, and despatched Robert Osborne, the
despised lover of the first tale, to Newport.
"She shall have him whether she likes him or not," said I, gritting
my teeth determinedly; "and she won't know whether she loves him or
Count Bonetti best; and she'll promise to marry both of them; and she
shall go to Venice in August, despite her uncompromising refusal to
do so for Harley; and she shall meet Balderstone there, and, no
matter what her opinion of him or of his literary work, she shall be
fascinated by the story I'll have him write, and under the spell of
that fascination she shall promise to marry him also; whereupon the
Willards will turn up and take her to Heidelberg, where I'll have her
meet the hero she couldn't wait for at the Howlett dance, the
despised Professor, and she shall promise to be his wife likewise;
and finally I'll put her on board a steamer at Southampton, bound for
New York, with Mrs. Corwin and the twins; and the second day out,
when she is feeling her very worst, all four of her fiances will turn
up at the same time beside her chair. Then I shall leave her to get
out of her trouble the best way she can. I imagine, after she has
had a taste of my literary regimen, she'll quite fall in love with
the Harley method, and behave herself as a heroine should."
I sat down all aglow with the idea of being able to tame Harley's
heroine and place her in a mood more suited for his purposes. The
more I thought of how his failures were weighing on his mind, the
more viciously ready was I to play the tyrant with Marguerite, and--
well, I might as well confess it at once, with all my righteous
indignation against her, I could not do it. Five times I started,
and as many times did I destroy what I wrote. On the sixth trial I
did haul the New York relentlessly back into port, never for an
instant considering the inconvenience of the passengers, or the
protests of the officers, crew, or postal authorities. This done, I
seized upon the unfortunate Osborne, spirited his luggage through the
Custom-house, and sent the ship to sea again. That part was easy. I
have written a great deal for the comic papers, and acrobatic
nonsense of that sort comes almost without an effort on my part.
With equal ease I got Osborne to Newport--how, I do not recollect.
It is just possible that I took him through from New York without a
train, by the mere say-so of my pen. At any rate, I got him there,
and I fully intended to have him meet Miss Andrews at a dance at the
Ocean House the day after his arrival. I even progressed so far as
to get up the dance. I described the room, the decorations, and the
band. I had Osborne dressed and waiting, with Bonetti also dressed
and waiting on the other side of the room, Scylla and Charybdis all
over again, but by no possibility could I force Miss Andrews to
appear. Why it was, I do not pretend to be able to say--she may have
known that Bonetti was there, she may have realized that I was trying
to force Osborne upon her; but whatever it was that enabled her to do
so, she resisted me successfully--or my pen did; for that situation
upon which I had based the opening scene of my story of compulsion I
found beyond my ability to depict; and as Harley had done before me,
so was I now forced to do--to change my plan.
"I'll have her run away with!" I cried, growing vicious in my wrath;
"and both Bonetti and Osborne shall place her under eternal
obligations by rushing out to stop the horse, one from either side of
the street. She'll have to meet Bonetti then," I added, with a
And I tried that plan. As docile as a lamb she entered the phaeton,
which I conjured up out of my ink-pot, and like a veteran Jehu did
she seize the reins. I could not help admiring her as I wrote of it-
-she was so like a goddess; but I did not relent. Run away with she
must be, and run away with she was. But again did this extraordinary
woman assert herself to my discomfiture; for the moment she saw
Bonetti rushing out to rescue her from the east, she jerked the left
rein so violently that the horse swerved to one side, toppled over on
Osborne, who had sprung gallantly to the rescue from the west; and
Bonetti, missing his aim as the horse turned, fell all in a heap in
the roadway two yards back of the phaeton. Miss Andrews was not
hurt, but my story was, for she had not even observed the unhappy
Osborne; and as for Bonetti, he cut so ridiculous a figure that,
Italian though he was, even he seemed aware of it, and he shrank
dejectedly out of sight. Again had this supernaturally elusive
heroine upset the plans of one who had essayed to embalm her virtues
in a literary mould. I could not bring her into contact with either
of my heroes.
I threw my pen down in disgust, slammed to the cover of my ink-well,
and for two hours paced madly through the maze-like walks of the
Central Park, angry and depressed; and from that moment until I
undertook the narration of this pathetic story I gave Harley's
heroine up as unavailable material for my purposes. She was worse,
if anything, in imaginative work than in realism, because she
absolutely defied the imagination, while the realist she would be
glad to help so long as his realism was kept in strict accord with
her ideas of what the real really was.
It was some days before I saw Harley again, and I thought he looked
tired and anxious--so anxious, indeed, that I was afraid he might
possibly be in financial straits, for I knew that for three weeks he
had not turned out any of his usual pot-boilers, having been too busy
trying to write the story for Messrs. Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick.
It happened, oddly enough, that I had two or three uncashed checks in
my pocket; so, feeling like a millionaire, I broached the subject to
"What's the matter, old fellow?" I said. "You seem in a blue funk.
Has the mint stopped? If it has, command me. I'm overburdened with
checks this week."
"Not at all; thanks just the same," he said, wearily. "My Tiffin
royalties came in Wednesday, and I'm all right for a while, anyhow."
"What's up, then, Stuart?" I asked. "You look worried. I've just
offered to share my prosperity with you, you might share your grief
with me. Lend me a peck of trouble overnight, will you?"
"Oh, it's nothing much," he said. "It's that rebellious heroine of
mine. She's weighing on my mind, that's all. She's very real to me,
that woman; and, by Jove! I've been as jealous as a lover for two
days over a fancy that came into my head. You'll laugh when I tell
you, but I've been half afraid somebody else would take her up and--
well, treat her badly. There is something that tells me that she has
been forced into some brutal situation by somebody, somewhere, within
the past two or three days. I believe I'd want to kill a man who did
I didn't laugh at him. I was the man who was in a fair way to get
killed for "doing that," and I thought laughter would be a little bit
misplaced; but I am not a coward, and I didn't flinch. I confessed.
I tried to ease his mind by telling him what I had attempted to do.
"It was a mistake," he said, shortly, when I had finished. "And you
must promise me one thing," he added, very seriously.
"I'll promise anything," I said, meekly.
"Don't ever try anything of the sort again," he went on, gravely.
"If you had succeeded in writing that story, and subjected her to all
that horror, I should never have spoken to you again. As it is, I
realize that what you did was out of the kindness of your heart,
prompted by a desire to be of service to me, and I'm just as much
obliged as I can be, only I don't want any assistance."
"Until you ask me to, Stuart," I replied, "I'll never write another
line about her; but you'd better keep very mum about her yourself, or
get her copyrighted. The way she upset that horse on Osborne,
completely obliterating him, and at the same time getting out of the
way of that little simian Count, in spite of all I could do to place
her under obligations to both of them, was what the ancients would
have called a caution. She has made a slave of me forever, and I
venture to predict that if you don't hurry up and get her into a
book, somebody else will; and whoever does will make a name for
himself alongside of which that of Smith will sink into oblivion."
"Count on me for that," said he. "'Faint heart never won fair lady,'
and I don't intend to stop climbing just because I fear a few more
CHAPTER VI: ANOTHER CHAPTER FROM HARLEY
"Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her,--but I will not keep her long."
- "Richard III."
There was no doubt about it that Harley, true to his purpose, was
making a good fight to conquer without compulsion, and appreciated as
much as I the necessity of reducing his heroine to concrete form as
speedily as possible, lest some other should prove more successful,
and so deprive him of the laurels for which he had worked so hard and
suffered so much. In his favor was his disposition. He was a man of
great determination, and once he set about doing something he was not
an easy man to turn aside, and now that, for the first time in his
life, he found himself baffled at every point, and by a heroine of no
very great literary importance, he became more determined than ever.
"I'll conquer yet," he said to me, a week or so later; but the
weariness with which he spoke made me fear that victory was afar off.
"I've no doubt of it--ultimately," I answered, to encourage him; "but
don't you think you'll stand a better chance if you let her rest for
a while, and then steal in upon her unawares, and catch her little
romance as it flies? She is apparently nerved up against you now,
and the more conscious she is of your efforts to put her on paper,
the more she will rebel. In fact, her rebelliousness will become
more and more a matter of whim than of principle, unless you let up
on her for a little while. Half of her opposition now strikes me as
obstinacy, and the more you try to break her spirit, even though you
do it gently, the more stubborn will she become. Put this book aside
for a few weeks anyhow. Why not tackle something else? You'd do
better work, too, after a little variety."
"This must be finished by September 1st, that's why not," said
Stuart. "I've promised Herring, Beemer, & Chadwick to send them the
completed manuscript by that time. Besides, no heroine of mine shall
ever say that she swerved me from doing what I have set about doing.
It is now or never with Marguerite Andrews."
So I left him at his desk, and for a week was busy with my own
affairs. Late the following Friday night I dropped in at Harley's
rooms to see how matters were progressing. As I entered I saw him at
his desk, his back turned towards me, silhouetted in the lamp-light,
scratching away furiously with his pen.
"Ah!" I thought, as my eye took in the picture, "it goes at last. I
guess I won't disturb his train of thought."
And I tried to steal softly out, for he had not observed my entrance.
As luck would have it, I stepped upon the sill of the door as I
passed out, and it creaked.
"Hello!" cried Harley, wheeling about in his chair, startled by the
"Oh! It's you, is it?" he added, as he recognized me. "What are you
up to? Come back here. I want to see you."
His manner was cheerful, but I could see that the cheerfulness was
assumed. The color had completely left his cheeks, and great rings
under his eyes betokened weariness of spirit.
"I didn't want to disturb you," said I, returning. "You seem to have
your pen on a clear track, with full steam up."
"I had," he said, quietly. "I was just finishing up that Herring,
Beemer, & Chadwick business."
"Aha!" I cried, grasping his hand and shaking it. "I congratulate
you. Success at last, eh?"
"Well, I've got something done--and that's it," he said, and he
tossed the letter block upon which he had been writing across the
table to me. "Read that, and tell me what you think of it."
I read it over carefully. It was a letter to Messrs. Herring,
Beemer, & Chadwick, in which Stuart asked to be relieved of the
commission he had undertaken:
"I find myself utterly unable to complete the work in the stipulated
time," he wrote, "for reasons entirely beyond my control. Nor can I
at this writing say with any degree of certainty when I shall be able
to finish the story. I have made constant and conscientious effort
to carry out my agreement with you, but fruitlessly, and I beg that
you will relieve me of the obligation into which I entered at the
signing of our contract. Of course I could send you something long
enough to cover the required space--words come easy enough for that--
but the result would be unsatisfactory to you and injurious to me
were I to do so. Please let me hear from you, releasing me from the
obligation, at your earliest convenience, as I am about to leave town
for a fortnight's rest. Regretting my inability to serve you at this
time, and hoping soon to be able to avail myself of your very kind
offer, I beg to remain,
"Oh!" said I. "You've finished it, then, by--"
"By giving it up," said he, sadly.
"It's the strangest thing that ever happened to me, but that girl is
impossible. I take up my pen intending to say that she did this, and
before I know it she does that. I cannot control my story at all,
nor can I perceive in what given direction she will go. If I could,
I could arrange my scenario to suit, but as it is, I cannot go on.
It may come later, but it won't come now, and I'm going to give her
up, and go down to Barnegat to fish for ten days. I hate to give the
book up, though," he added, tapping the table with his pen-holder
reflectively. "Chadwick's an awfully good fellow, and his firm is
one of the best in the country, liberal and all that, and here at my
first opportunity to get on their list, I'm completely floored. It's
beastly hard luck, I think."
"Don't be floored," said I. "Take my advice and tackle something
else. Write some other book."
"That's the devil of it!" he replied, angrily pounding the table with
his fist. "I can't. I've tried, and I can't. My mind is full of
that woman. If I don't get rid of her I'm ruined--I'll have to get a
position as a salesman somewhere, or starve, for until she is caught
between good stiff board covers I can't write another line."
"Oh, you take too serious a view of it, Stuart," I ventured. "You're
mad and tired now. I don't blame you, of course, but you mustn't be
rash. Don't send that letter yet. Wait until you've had the week at
Barnegat--you'll feel better then. You can write the book in ten
days after your return; or if you still find you can't do it, it will
be time enough to withdraw then."
"What hope is there after that?" he cried, tossing a bundle of
manuscript into my lap. "Just read that, and tell me what's the use.
I'd mapped out a meeting between Marguerite Andrews and a certain Mr.
Arthur Parker, a fellow with wealth, position, brains, good looks--in
short, everything a girl could ask for, and that's what came of it."
I spread the pages out upon the table before me and read:
CHAPTER IV: A DECLARATION
"I have not seen
So likely an ambassador of love."
- "Merchant of Venice."
Parker mounted the steps lightly and rang the bell. Marguerite's
kindness of the night before, which was in marked contrast to her
coolness at the MacFarland dance, had led him to believe that he was
not wholly without interest to her, and her invitation that he should
call upon her had given him a sincere pleasure; in fact, he wondered
that he should be so pleased over so trivial a circumstance.
"I'm afraid I've lost my heart again," he said to himself. "That is,
again if I ever lost it before," he added.
And his mind reverted to a little episode at Bar Harbor the summer
before, and he was not sorry to feel that that wound was cured--
though, as a matter of fact, it had never amounted to more than a
A moment later the door opened, and Parker entered, inquiring for
Miss Andrews as he did so.
"I do not know, but I will see if Miss Andrews is at home," said the
butler, ushering him into the parlor. That imposing individual knew
quite well that Miss Andrews was at home, but he also knew that it
was not his place to say so until the young lady had personally
assured him of the facts in so far as they related to this particular
caller. All went well for Parker, however. Miss Andrews consented
to be at home to him, and five minutes later she entered the drawing
room where Parker was seated.
"How do you do?" she said, frigidly, ignoring his outstretched hand.
("Think of that, will you?" interposed Harley. "He'd come to
propose, and was to leave engaged, and she insists upon opening upon
him frigidly, ignoring his outstretched hand."
I couldn't help smiling. "Why did you let her do it?" I asked.
"I could no more have changed it than I could fly," returned Stuart.
"She ought never to have been at home if she was going to behave that
way. I couldn't foresee the incident, and before I knew it that's
the way it happened. But I thought I could fix it up later, so I
went on. Read along, and see what I got let into next."
I proceeded to read as follows:)
"You see," said Parker, with an admiring glance at her eyes, in spite
of the fact that the coolness of her reception rather abashed him--
"you see, I have not delayed very long in coming."
"So I perceive," returned Marguerite, with a bored manner. "That's
what I said to Mrs. Willard as I came down. You don't allow your
friends much leeway, Mr. Parker. It doesn't seem more than five
minutes since we were together at the card party."
("That's cordial, eh?" said Harley, as I read. "Nice sort of talk
for a heroine to a hero. Makes it easy for me, eh?"
"I must say if you manage to get a proposal in now you're a genius,"
"Oh--as for that, I got reckless when I saw how things were going,"
returned Harley. "I lost my temper, and took it out of poor Parker.
He proposes, as you will see when you come to it; but it isn't
realism--it's compulsion. I simply forced him into it--poor devil.
But go on and read for yourself."
I did so, as follows:)
This was hardly the treatment Parker had expected at the hands of one
who had been undeniably gracious to him at the card-table the night
before. He had received the notice that she was to be his partner at
the tables with misgivings, on his arrival at Mrs. Stoughton's,
because his recollection of her behavior towards him at the
MacFarland dance had led him to believe that he was personally
distasteful to her; but as the evening at cards progressed he felt
instinctively drawn towards her, and her vivacity of manner,
cleverness at repartee, and extreme amiability towards himself had
completely won his heart, which victory their little tete-a-tete
during supper had confirmed. But here, this morning, was reversion
to her first attitude.
What could it mean? Why should she treat him so?
("I couldn't answer that question to save my life," said Stuart.
"That is, not then, but I found out later. I put it in, however, and
let Parker draw his own conclusions. I'd have helped him out if I
could, but I couldn't. Go on and see for yourself."
Parker could not solve the problem, but it pleased him to believe
that something over which he had no control had gone wrong that
morning, and that this had disturbed her equanimity, and that he was
merely the victim of circumstances; and somehow or other it pleased
him also to think that he could be the victim of her circumstances,
so he stood his ground.
"It is a beautiful day," he began, after a pause.
"Is it?" she asked, indifferently.
("Frightfully snubbish," said I, appalled at the lengths to which
Miss Andrews was going.
"Dreadfully," sighed Harley. "And so unlike her, too.")
"Yes," said Parker, "so very beautiful that it seemed a pity that you
and I should stay indoors, with plenty of walks to be taken and--"
Marguerite interrupted him with a sarcastic laugh.
"With so much pity and so many walks, Mr. Parker, why don't you take
a few of them!" she said.
("Good Lord!" said I. "This is the worst act of rebellion yet. She
seems beside herself."
"Read on!" said Harley, in sepulchral tones.)
This was Parker's opportunity. "I am not fond of walking, Miss
Andrews," he said; and then he added, quickly, "that is, alone--I
don't like anything alone. Living alone, like walking alone, is--"
"Let's go walking," said Marguerite, shortly, as she rose up from her
chair. "I'll be down in two minutes. I only need to put my hat on."
Parker acquiesced, and Miss Andrews walked majestically out of the
parlor and went up-stairs.
"Confound it!" muttered Parker, as she left him. "A minute more, and
I'd have known my fate."
("You see," said Harley, "I'd made up my mind that that proposal
should take place in that chapter, and I thought I'd worked right up
to it, in spite of all Miss Andrews's disagreeable remarks when, pop-
-off she goes to put on her hat."
"Oh--as for that--that's all right," said I. "Parker had suggested
the walk, and a girl really does like to stave off a proposal as long
as she can when she knows it is sure to come. Furthermore, it gives
you a chance to describe the hat, and so make up for a few of the
words you lost when she refused to discuss ball-dresses with Mrs.
"I never thought of that; but don't you think I worked up to the
proposal skilfully?" asked Harley.
"Very," said I. "But you're dreadfully hard on Parker. It would
have been better to have had the butler fire him out, head over
heels. He could have thrashed the butler for doing that, but with
your heroine his hands were tied."
"Go on and read," said Harley.)
"She must have known what I was driving at," Parker reflected, as he
awaited her return. "Possibly she loves me in spite of this frigid
behavior. This may be her method of concealing it; but if it is, I
must confess it's a case of
'Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love,
But--why did you kick me down-stairs?'
Certainly, knowing, as she now must, what my feelings are, her being
willing to go for a walk on the cliffs, or anywhere, is a favorable
("Parker merely echoed my own hope in that remark," said Harley. "If
I could get them engaged, I was satisfied to do it in any way that
might be pleasing to her.")
A moment later Marguerite appeared, arrayed for the walk. Parker
rose as she entered and picked up his gloves.
"You are a perfect picture this morning," said he.
"I'm ready," she said, shortly, ignoring the compliment. "Where are
we scheduled to walk?--or are we to have something to say about it
Parker looked at her with a wondering smile. The aptness of the
remark did not strike him. However, he was equal to the occasion.
"You don't believe in free will, then?" he asked.
("It was the only intelligent remark he could make, under the
circumstances, you see," explained Harley.
"He was a clever fellow," said I, and resumed reading.)
"I believe in a great many things we are supposed to do without,"
said Marguerite, sharply.
They had reached the street, and in silence walked along Bellevue
"There are a great many things," vouchsafed Parker, as they turned
out of the avenue to the cliffs, "that men are supposed not to do
"Yes," said Marguerite, sharply--"vices."
"I did not refer to them," laughed Parker. "In fact, Miss Andrews,
the heart of man is supposed to be incomplete until he has lost it,
and has succeeded in getting another for his very--"
"Are you an admirer of Max Nordau?" interposed Marguerite, quickly.
("Whatever led you to put that in?" I asked.
"Go on, and you'll see," said Harley. "I didn't put it in. It's
what she said. I'm not responsible.")
"I don't know anything about Max Nordau," said Parker, somewhat
surprised at this sudden turn of the conversation.
"Are you familiar with Schopenhauer?" she asked.
("It was awfully rough on the poor fellow," said Harley, "but I
couldn't help him. I'd forced him in so far that I couldn't get him
out. His answer floored me as completely as anything that Miss
Andrews ever did.")
"Schopenhauer?" said Parker, nonplussed. "Oh yes," he added, an idea
dawning on his mind. "That is to say, moderately familiar--though,
as a matter of fact, I'm not at all musical."
Miss Andrews laughed immoderately, in which Parker, thinking that he
had possibly said something witty, although he did not know what it
was, joined. In a moment the laughter subsided, and for a few
minutes the two walked on in silence. Finally Parker spoke,
"Miss Andrews," he said, "perhaps you have noticed--perhaps not--that
you have strongly interested me."
"Yes," she said, turning upon him desperately. "I have noticed it,
and that is why I have on two separate occasions tried to keep you
from saying so."
"And why should I not tell you that I love--" began Parker.
"Because it is hopeless," retorted Marguerite. "I am perfectly well
aware, Mr. Parker, what we are down for, and I suppose I cannot blame
you for your persistence. Perhaps you don't know any better; perhaps
you do know better, but are willing to give yourself over
unreservedly into the hands of another; perhaps you are being forced
and cannot help yourself. It is just possible that you are a
professional hero, and feel under obligations to your employer to
follow out his wishes to the letter. However it may be, you have
twice essayed to come to the point, and I have twice tried to turn
you aside. Now it is time to speak truthfully. I admire and like
you very much, but I have a will of my own, am nobody's puppet, and
if Stuart Harley never writes another book in his life, he shall not
marry me to a man I do not love; and, frankly, I do not love you. I
do not know if you are aware of the fact, but it is true nevertheless
that you are the third fiance he has tried to thrust upon me since
July 3d. Like the others, if you insist upon blindly following his
will, and propose marriage to me, you shall go by the board. I have
warned you, and you can now do as you please. You were saying--?"
"That I love you with all my soul," said Parker, grimly.
("He didn't really love her then, you know," said Harley. "He'd been
cured of that in five minutes. But I was resolved that he should say
it, and he did. That's how he came to say it grimly. He did it just
as a soldier rushes up to the cannon's mouth. He added, also:")
"Will you be my wife?"
"Most certainly not," said Marguerite, turning on her heel, and
leaving the young man to finish his walk alone.
("And then," said Harley, with a chuckle, "Parker's manhood would
assert itself in spite of all I could do. He made an answer, which I
"I see," said I, "but you've scratched it out. What was that line?"
"'"Thank the Lord!" said Parker to himself, as Miss Andrews
disappeared around the corner,'" said Stuart Harley. "That's what I
wrote, and I flatter myself on the realism of it, for that's just
what any self-respecting hero would have said under the
A silence came over us.
"Do you wonder I've given it up," asked Stuart, after a while.
"Yes," said I, "I do. Such opposition would nerve me up to a battle
royal. I wouldn't give it up until I'd returned from Barnegat, if I
were you," I added, anxious to have him renew his efforts; for an
idea had just flashed across my mind, which, although it involved a
breach of faith on my part, I nevertheless believed to be good and
justifiable, since it might relieve Stuart Harley of his
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