Frances Waldeaux, by Rebecca Harding Davis
Part 1 out of 3
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REBECCA HARDING DAVIS
AUTHOR OF "DOCTOR WARRICK'S DAUGHTER"
FOR THE BEST FELLOW-TRAVELLER
IN THE WORLD
In another minute the Kaiser Wilhelm would push off
from her pier in Hoboken. The last bell had rung, the
last uniformed officer and white-jacketed steward had
scurried up the gangway. The pier was massed with people
who had come to bid their friends good-by. They were all
Germans, and there had been unlimited embracing and
kissing and sobs of "Ach! mein lieber Sckatz!" and
"Gott bewahre Dick!"
Now they stood looking up to the crowded decks, shouting
out last fond words. A band playing "The Merry Maiden
and the Tar" marched on board.
The passengers pressed against the rails, looking down.
Almost every one held flowers which had been brought to
them: not costly bouquets, but homely bunches of
marigolds or pinks. They carried, too, little German
or American flags, which they waved frantically.
The gangways fell, and the huge ship parted from the
dock. It was but an inch, but the whole ocean yawned in
it between those who went and those who stayed. There
was a sudden silence; a thousand handkerchiefs fluttered
white on the pier and the flags and flowers were waved on
the ship, but there was not a cry nor a sound.
James Perry, one of the dozen Americans on board, was
leaning over the rail watching it all with an amused
smile. "Hello, Watts!" he called, as another young man
joined him. "Going over? Quite dramatic, isn't it? It
might be a German ship going out of a German port. The
other liners set off in as commonplace a way as a Jersey
City ferryboat, but these North German Lloyd ships always
sail with a certain ceremony and solemnity. I like it."
"I always cross on them," said Dr. Watts. "I have but a
month's vacation--two weeks on board ship, two on land.
Now you, I suppose, don't have to count your days?
You cross every year. I can't see, for my part, what
business the assistant editor of a magazine has abroad."
"Oh, we make a specialty of articles from notorieties
over there; statesmen, scientific fellows, or people with
titles. I expect to capture a paper from Lorne and some
sketches by the Princess Beatrice this time."
"Lorne? It throws you into contact with that sort of
folk, eh?" said the doctor, looking at him enviously.
"How do they strike you, Jem?"
"Well," said Perry importantly, "well-bred people are the
same the world over. I only see them in a business way,
of course, but one can judge. Their voices are better
than ours, but as to looks--no! It's queer, but American
women--the wives and daughters of saddlers or farmers,
perhaps--have more often the patrician look than English
duchesses. Now there, for example," warming to the
subject, "that woman to whom you bowed just now, the
middle-aged one in blue cloth. Some Mrs. Smith or Pratt,
probably. A homely woman, but there is a distinction in
her face, a certain surety of good breeding, which is
lacking in the heavy-jawed English royalties."
"Yes; that is a friend of mine," said Watts.
She is a Mrs. Waldeaux from Wier, in Delaware. You could
hardly call her a typical American woman. Old French
emigre family. Probably better blood than the Coburgs
a few generations back. That priggish young fellow is
her son. Going to be an Episcopalian minister."
Mr. Perry surveyed his friend's friends good-humoredly.
"Brand new rugs and cushions," he said. "First voyage.
Heavens! I wish it were my first voyage, and that I had
their appetite for Europe."
"You might as well ask for your relish of the bread and
butter of your youth," said Watts.
The two men leaned lazily against the bulwark watching
the other passengers who were squabbling about trunks.
Mr. Perry suddenly stood upright as a group of women
"Do you know who that girl is?" he said eagerly. "The
one who looked back at us over her shoulder."
"No. They are only a lot of school-girls, personally
conducted. That is the teacher in front."
"Of course, I see that. But the short, dark one--surely
I know that woman."
The doctor looked after her. "She looks like a dog
turning into a human being," he said leisurely. "One
often sees such cases of arrested evolution. D'ye see?
Thick lips, coarse curls, flat nostrils----"
Perry laughed. "The eyes, anyhow, are quite human," he
said. "They challenge the whole world of men. I can't
place her!" staring after her, perplexed. "I really
don't believe I ever saw her before. Yet her face brings
up some old story of a tragedy or crime to me."
"Nonsense! The girl is not twenty. Very fetching with
all her vulgarity, though. Steward, send some coffee to
my stateroom. Let's go down, Jem. The fog is too
Frances Waldeaux did not find the fog chilly. She had
been thinking for thirty years of the day when she should
start to Europe--ever since she could think at all.
This was the day. It was like no other, now that it
had come. The fog, the crowd, the greasy smells of the
pier, all familiar enough yesterday, took on a certain
remoteness and mystery. It seemed to her that she was
doing something which nobody had ever done before. She
was going to discover the Old World.
The New was not more tremendous or unreal before the eyes
of Columbus when he, too, stood on the poop of his ship.
Her son was arguing with the deck steward about chairs.
"Now, mother," he said at last, "it's all right. They
are under cover so that the glare will not strain your
eyes, and we can keep dry while we watch the storms."
"How did you know about it all? One would think you had
crossed a dozen times, George."
"Oh, I've studied the whole thing up thoroughly," George
said, with a satisfied little nod. "I've had time
enough! Why, when I was in petticoats you used to tell
me you would buy a ship and we would sail away together.
You used to spoil all my school maps with red lines,
drawing our routes."
"Yes. And now we're going!" said Frances to herself.
He sat down beside her and they watched the unending
procession of passengers marching around the deck.
George called her attention by a wink to any picturesque
or queer figure that passed. He liked to watch her quiet
brown eyes gleam with fun. Nobody had such a keen sense
of the ridiculous as his mother. Sometimes, at the mere
remembrance of some absurd idea, she would go off into
soft silent paroxysms of laughter until the tears would
stream down her cheeks.
George was fond and proud of his childish little mother.
He had never known any body, he thought, so young or so
transparent. It was easily understood. She had married
at sixteen, and had been left a widow little more than a
year afterward. "And I," he used to think, "was born
with an old head on my shoulders; so we have grown up
together. I suppose the dear soul never had a thought in
her life which she has not told me."
As they sat together a steward brought Mrs. Waldeaux a
note, which she read, blushing and smiling.
"The captain invites us to sit at his table," she said,
when the man was gone.
"Very proper in the captain," said George complacently.
"You see, Madam Waldeaux, even the men who go down in
ships have heard of you and your family!"
"I don't believe the captain ever heard of me," she said,
after a grave consideration," nor of the Waldeaux. It is
much more likely that he has read your article in the
"Nonsense!" But he stiffened himself up consciously.
He had sent a paper on some abstruse point of sociology
to the Quarterly last spring, and it had aroused quite
a little buzz of criticism. His mother had regarded it
very much as the Duchess of Kent did the crown when it
was set upon her little girl's head. She always had
known that her child was born to reign, but it was
satisfactory to see this visible sign of it.
She whispered now, eagerly leaning over to him. "There
was something about that paper which I never told you.
I think I'll tell you now that the great day has come."
"Why, you know--I never think of you as my son, or a man,
or anything outside of me--not at all. You are just
ME, doing the things I should have done if I had not
been a woman. Well,"--she drew her breath
quickly,--"when I was a girl it seemed as if there was
something in me that I must say, so I tried to write
poems. No, I never told you before. It had counted for
so much to me I could not talk of it. I always sent them
to the paper anonymously, signed `Sidney.' Oh, it was
long--long ago! I've been dumb, as you might say, for
years. But when I read your article, George--do you know
if I had written it I should have used just the phrases
you did? And you signed it `Sidney'!" She watched him
breathlessly. "That was more than a coincidence, don't
you think? I AM dumb, but you speak for me now. It is
because we are just one. Don't you think so, George?"
She held his arm tightly.
Young Waldeaux burst into a loud laugh. Then he took her
hand in his, stroking it. "You dear little woman! What
do you know of sociology?" he said, and then walked
away to hide his amusement, muttering "Poems? Great
Frances looked after him steadily. "Oh, well!" she said
to herself presently.
She forced her mind back to the Quarterly article. It
was a beginning of just the kind of triumph that she
always had expected for him. He would soon be recognized
by scientific men all over the world as their confrere,
especially after his year's study at Oxford.
When George was in his cradle she had planned that he
should be a clergyman, just as she had planned that he
should be a well-bred man, and she had fitted him for
both roles in life, and urged him into them by the same
unceasing soft pats and pushes. She would be delighted
when she saw him in white robes serving at the altar.
Not that Frances had ever taken her religion quite
seriously. It was like her gowns, or her education, a
matter of course; a trustworthy, agreeable part of her.
She had never once in her life shuddered at a glimpse of
any vice in herself, or cried to God in agony, even to
grant her a wish.
But she knew that Robert Waldeaux's son would be
safer in the pulpit. He could take rank with scholars
She inspected him now anxiously, trying to see him with
the eyes of these Oxford magnates. Nobody would guess
that he was only twenty-two. The bald spot on his crown
and the spectacles gave him a scholastic air, and the
finely cut features and a cold aloofness in his manner
spoke plainly, she thought, of his good descent and high
Frances herself had a drop of vagabond blood which found
comrades for her among every class and color. But there
was not an atom of the tramp in her son's well-built and
fashionably clothed body. He never had had a single
intimate friend even when he was a boy. He will probably
find his companions among the great English scholars,"
she thought complacently. Of course she would always be
his only comrade, his chum. She continually met and
parted with thousands of people--they came and went.
"But George and I will be together for all time," she
He came up presently and sat down beside her, with an
anxious, apologetic air. It hurt him to think that he
had laughed at her. "That dark haze is the Jersey
shore," he said. "How dim it grows! Well, we are really
out now in the big world! It is so good to be alone
there with you," he added, touching her arm
affectionately. "Those cynical old-men-boys at Harvard
"I don't bore you, then, George?"
"You!" He was very anxious to make her forget his
roughness. "Apart from my affection for you, mother," he
said judicially, "I LIKE you. I approve of you as I
never probably shall approve of another woman. Your
peculiarities--the way your brown hair ripples back into
that knot "--surveying her critically. "And the way you
always look as if you had just come out of a bath, even
on a grimy train; and your gowns, so simple--and rich.
I confess," he said gravely, "I can't always follow your
unsteady little ideas when you talk. They frisk about
so. It is the difference probably between the man's mind
and the woman's. Besides, we have been separated for so
many years! But I soon will understand you. I know that
while you keep yourself apart from all the world you open
your heart to me."
"Wrap the rug about my feet, George," she said
hastily, and then sent him away upon an errand, looking
after him uneasily.
It was very pleasant to hear her boy thus formally sum up
his opinion of her. But when he found that it was based
upon a lie?
For Frances, candid enough to the world, had deceived her
son ever since he was born.
George had always believed that she had inherited a
fortune from his father. It gave solidity and comfort to
his life to think of her in the stately old mansion on
the shores of Delaware Bay, with nothing to do except to
be beautiful and gracious, as befitted a well-born woman.
It pleased him, in a lofty, generous way, that his father
(whom she had taught him to reverence as the most
chivalric of gentlemen) had left him wholly dependent
upon her. It was a legal fiction, of course. He was the
heir--the crown prince. He had always been liberally
supplied with money at school and at Harvard. Her income
was large. No doubt the dear soul mismanaged the estates
fearfully, but now he would have leisure to take care of
Now, the fact was that Colonel Waldeaux had been a
drunken spendthrift who had left nothing. The house and
farm always had belonged to his wife. She had supported
George by her own work all of his life. She could not
save money, but she had the rarer faculty of making it.
She had raised fine fruit and flowers for the
Philadelphia market; she had traded in high breeds of
poultry and cattle, and had invested her earnings
shrewdly. With these successes she had been able to
provide George with money to spend freely at college.
She lived scantily at home, never expecting any luxury or
great pleasure to come into her own life.
But two years ago a queer thing had happened to her. In
an idle hour she wrote a comical squib and sent it to a
New York paper. As everybody knows, fun, even vulgar
fun, sells high in the market. Her fun was not vulgar,
but coarse and biting enough to tickle the ears of the
common reader. The editor offered her a salary equal to
her whole income for a weekly column of such fooling.
She had hoarded every penny of this money. With it she
meant to pay her expenses in Europe and to support George
in his year at Oxford. The work and the salary were
to go on while she was gone.
It was easy enough to hide all of these things from her
son while he was in Cambridge and she in Delaware. But
now? What if he should find out that his mother was the
Quigg" of the New York ----, a paper which he declared to
be unfit for a gentleman to read?
She was looking out to sea and thinking of this when her
cousin, Miss Vance, came up to her. Miss Vance was a
fashionable teacher in New York, who was going to spend
a year abroad with two wealthy pupils. She was a thin
woman, quietly dressed; white hair and black brows, with
gold eye-glasses bridging an aquiline nose, gave her a
commanding, inquisitorial air.
"Well, Frances!" she began briskly, "I have not had time
before to attend to you. Are your bags hung in your
"I haven't been down yet," said Mrs. Waldeaux meekly.
"We were watching the fog in the sun."
"Fog! Mercy on me! You know you may be ill any minute,
and your room not ready! Of course, you did not take
the bromides that I sent you a week ago?
Miss Vance glanced at her. "Well, just as you please.
I've done what I could. Let me look at your itinerary.
You will be too ill for me to advise you about it later."
"Oh, we made none!" said George gayly, coming up to his
mother's aid. "We are going to be vagabonds, and have no
plans. Mother's soul draws us to York Cathedral, and
mine to the National Gallery. That is all we know."
"I thought you had given up that whim of being an
artist?" said Miss Vance, sharply facing on him.
Young Waldeaux reddened. "Yes, I have given it up. I
know as well as you do that I have no talent. I am going
to study my profession at Oxford, and earn my bread by
"Quite right. You never would earn it by art," she said
decisively. "How long do you stay in York, Frances?"
"Oh, a day, or a month--or--years, as we please," said
Frances, lazily turning her head away. She wanted to set
Clara Vance down in her proper place. Mrs. Waldeaux
abhorred cousinly intimates--people who run into your
back door to pry into the state of your larder or your
income. But Miss Vance, as Frances knew, unfortunately
held a key to her back door. She knew of George's
wretched daubs, and his insane desire, when he was a boy,
to study art. He gave it up years ago. Why should she
nag him now about it? By virtue of her relationship she
knew, too, all of Mrs. Waldeaux's secrets. It was most
unfortunate that she should have chosen to sail on this
"Well, mother," George said, uneasy to get away, "no
doubt Miss Vance is right. We should set things in
order. I am going now to give my letter of credit to the
purser to lock up; shall I take yours?"
Mrs. Waldeaux did not reply at once. "No," she said at
last. "I like to carry my own purse."
He smiled indulgently as on a child. "Of course, dear.
It IS your own. My father was wise in that. But, on
this journey, I can act as your paymaster, can't I? I
have studied foreign money----"
"We shall see. I can keep it as safe as any purser now,"
she said, obstinately shaking her head.
He laughed and walked away.
"You have not told him, then?" demanded Clara.
"No. And I never will. I will not hurt the boy by
letting him know that his mother has supported him, and
remember, Clara, that he can only hear it through you.
Nobody knows that I am `Quigg' but you."
Miss Vance lifted her eyebrows. "Nothing can need a
lie," she quoted calmly. Presently she said earnestly,
"Frances, you are making a mistake. Somebody ought to
tell you the truth. There is no reason why your whole
being should be buried in that man. He should stand on
his own feet, now. You can be all that he needs as a
mother, and yet live out your own life. It is broader
than his will ever be. At your age, and with your
capabilities, you should marry again. Think of the many
long years that are before you."
"I have thought of them," said Mrs. Waldeaux slowly. "I
have had lovers who came close to me as friends, but I
never for a moment was tempted to marry one of them.
No, Clara. When the devil drove my father to hand me
over--innocent child as I was--to a man like Robert
Waldeaux, he killed in me the capacity for that kind of
love. It is not in me." She turned her strenuous face
to the sea and was silent. "It is not in me," she
repeated after a while. "I have but one feeling, and
that is for my boy. It is growing on me absurdly, too."
She laughed nervously. "I used to be conscious of other
people in the world, but now, if I see a boy or man, I
see only what George was or will be at his age; if I read
a book, it only suggests what George will say of it. I
am like one of those plants that have lost their own sap
and color, and suck in their life from another. It
scares me sometimes."
Miss Vance smiled with polite contempt. No doubt Frances
had a shrewd business faculty, but in other matters she
was not ten years old.
"And George will marry some time," she said curtly.
"Oh, I hope so! And soon. Then I shall have a daughter.
I know just the kind of a wife George will choose,"
she chattered on eagerly. "I understand him so
thoroughly that I can understand her. But where could he
find her? He is so absurdly fastidious!"
Miss Vance was silent and thoughtful a moment. Then she
came closer. "I will tell you where to find her," she
said, in a low voice. "I have thought of it for a long
time. It seems to me that Providence actually made Lucy
Dunbar for George."
"Really?" Mrs. Waldeaux drew her self up stiffly.
"Wait, Frances. Lucy has been with me for three years.
I know her. She is a sincere, modest, happy little
thing. Not too clever. She is an heiress, too. And her
family is good; and all underground, which is another
advantage. You can mould her as you choose. She loves
"Or is it that she----?"
"You have no right to ask that!" said Miss Vance quickly.
"No, I am ashamed of myself." Mrs. Waldeaux reddened.
A group of girls came up the deck. Both women scanned
the foremost one critically. "I like that wholesome,
candid look of her," said Miss Vance.
"Oh, she is well enough," said Frances. "But I am sure
George does not like yellow hair. Nothing but an
absolutely beautiful woman will attract him."
"An artist," said Miss Vance hastily, "would tell you her
features were perfect. And her flesh tints----"
"For Heaven's sake, Clara, don't dissect the child. Who
is that girl with the red cravat? Your maid?"
"It is not a cravat, it's an Indian scarf. If it only
were clean----" Miss Vance looked uneasy and perplexed.
"She is not my maid. She is Fraulein Arpent. The Ewalts
brought her as governess from Paris, don't you remember?
They sent the girls to Bryn Mawr last week and turned her
adrift, almost penniless. She wished to go back to
France. I engaged her as assistant chaperone for the
Mrs. Waldeaux's eyebrows went up significantly. She
never commented in words on the affairs of others, but
her face always was indiscreet. George, who had come up
in time to hear the last words, was not so
scrupulous. He surveyed the young woman through his
spectacles as she passed again, with cold disapproval.
"French or German?" he asked.
"I really don't know. She has a singular facility in
tongues," said Miss Vance.
"Well, that is not the companion _I_ should have chosen
for those innocent little girls," he said
authoritatively, glad to be disagreeable to his cousin.
"She looks like a hawk among doves."
"The woman is harmless enough," said Miss Vance tartly.
"She speaks exquisite French."
"But what does she say in it?" persisted George. "She is
vulgar from her red pompon to her boots. She has the
swagger of a soubrette and she has left a trail of
perfume behind her--pah! I confess I am surprised at
you, Miss Vance. You do not often slip in your
"Don't make yourself unpleasant, George," said his mother
gently. Miss Vance smiled icily, and as the girls came
near again, stopped them and stood talking to Mlle.
Arpent with an aggressive show of familiarity.
"Why do you worry Clara?" said Mrs. Waldeaux. "She
knows she has made a mistake. What do you think of that
little blonde girl?" she asked presently, watching him
anxiously. "She has remarkable beauty, certainly; but
there is something finical--precise----"
"Take care. She will hear you," said George. "Beauty,
eh? Oh, I don't know," indifferently. "She is passably
pretty. I have never seen a woman yet whose beauty
Mrs. Waldeaux leaned back with a comfortable little
laugh. "But you must not be so hard to please, my son.
You must bring me my daughter soon," she said.
"Not very soon. I have some thing else to think of than
marriage for the next ten years."
Just then Dr. Watts came up and asked leave to present
his friend Perry. The doctor, like all young men who
knew Mrs. Waldeaux, had succumbed to her peculiar charm,
which was only that of a woman past her youth who had
strong personal magnetism and not a spark of coquetry.
George's friends all were sure that they would fall in
love with a woman just like her--but not a man of
them ever thought of falling in love with her.
Young Perry, in twenty minutes, decided that she was the
most brilliant and agreeable of companions. He had
talked, and she had spoken only with her listening,
sympathetic eyes. He was always apt to be voluble. On
this occasion he was too voluble.
"You are from Weir, I think, in Delaware, Mrs. Waldeaux?"
he asked. "I must have seen the name of the town with
yours on the list of passengers, for the story of a woman
who once lived there has been haunting me all day. I
have not seen nor thought of her for years, and I could
not account for my sudden remembrance of her."
"Who was she?" asked George, trying to save his mother
from Perry, who threatened to be a bore.
"Her name was Pauline Felix. You have heard her story,
"Yes" said Frances coldly. "I have heard her story. Can
you find my shawl, George?"
But Perry was conscious of no rebuff, and turned
cheerfully to George. "It was one of those dramas of
real life, too unlikely to put into a novel. She was
the daughter of a poor clergyman in Weir, a devout, good
man, I believe. She had marvellous beauty and a devilish
disposition. She ran away, lived a wild life in Paris,
and became the mistress of a Russian Grand Duke. Her
He could not have told why he stopped. Mrs. Waldeaux
still watched him, attentive, but the sympathetic smile
had frozen into icy civility. She had the old-fashioned
modesty of her generation. What right had this young man
to speak of "mistresses" to her? Clara's girls within
hearing too! She rose when he paused, bowed, and hurried
to them, like a hen fluttering to protect her chicks.
"He was talking to me of a woman," she said excitedly to
Clara, "who is never mentioned by decent people."
"Yes, I heard him," said Miss Vance. "Poor Pauline! Her
career was always a mystery to me. I was at school with
her, and she was the most generous, lovable girl! Yet
she came to a wretched end," turning to her flock, her
tone growing didactic. "One is never safe, you see. One
must always be on guard."
"Oh, my dear!" cried Frances impatiently. "You
surely don't mean to class these girls and me with
Pauline Felix! Come, come!"
"None of us is safe," repeated Clara stiffly. "Somebody
says there is a possible vice in the purest soul, and it
may lie perdu there until old age. But it will break out
Mrs. Waldeaux looked, laughing, at the eager, blushing
faces around her. "It is not likely to break out in us,
girls, eh! Really, Clara," she said, in a lower tone,
"that seems to me like wasted morality. Women of our
class are in no more danger of temptation to commit great
crimes than they are of finding tigers in their
drawing-rooms. Pauline Felix was born vicious. No woman
could fall as she did, who was not rotten to the core."
A sudden shrill laugh burst from the French woman, who
had been looking at Mrs. Waldeaux with insolent, bold
eyes. But as she laughed, her head fell forward and she
swung from side to side.
"It is nothing," she cried, "I am only a little faint.
I must go below."
The ship was now crossing short, choppy waves. The
passengers scattered rapidly. George took his mother to
her stateroom, and there she stayed until land was
sighted on the Irish coast. Clara and her companions
also were forced to keep to their berths.
During the speechless misery of the first days Mrs.
Waldeaux was conscious that George was hanging over her,
tender as a mother with a baby. She commanded him to
stay on deck, for each day she saw that he, too, grew
more haggard. "Let me fight it out alone," she would beg
of him. "My worst trouble is that I cannot take care of
He obeyed her at last, and would come down but once
during the day, and then for only a few hurried minutes.
His mother was alarmed at the ghastliness of his face and
the expression of anxious wretchedness new to it. "His
eye avoids mine craftily, like that of an insane man,"
she told herself, and when the doctor came, she asked him
whether sea-sickness affected the brain.
On the last day of the voyage the breeze was from land,
and with the first breath of it Frances found her vigor
suddenly return. She rose and dressed herself. George
had not been near her that day. "He must be very ill,"
she thought, and hurried out. "Is Mr. Waldeaux in
his stateroom?" she asked the steward.
"No, madam. He is on deck. All the passengers are on
deck," the man added, smiling. Land is in sight."
Land! And George had not come to tell her! He must be
She groped up the steps, holding by the brass rail. "I
will give him a fine surprise!" she said to herself. "I
can take care of him, now. To-night we shall be on shore
and this misery all over. And then the great joy will
She came out on deck. The sunshine and cold pure wind
met her. She looked along the crowded deck for her
invalid. Every-body was in holiday clothes, every-body
was smiling and talking at once. Ah! there he was!
He was leaning over Frances' steamer chair, on which a
woman lay indolently. He was in rude health, laughing,
his face flushed, his eyes sparkling.
Looking up, he saw his mother and came hastily to meet
her. The laugh was gone. "So you came up?" he said
impatiently. "I would have called you in time.
I---- Mother!" He caught her by the arm. "Wait, I must
see you alone for a minute." Urged by the amazed fright
in her face, he went on desperately, "I have something to
tell you. I intended to break it to you. I don't want
to hurt you, God knows. But I have not been idle in
these days. I have found your daughter. She is here."
He led her up to the chair. The girl's head was wrapped
in a veil and turned from her.
Mrs. Waldeaux held out her hands. "Lucy! Lucy Dunbar!"
she heard herself say.
"Mais non! Cest moi!" said a shrill voice, and Mlle.
Arpent, turning her head lazily, looked at her, smiling.
Clara Vance had her faults, but nobody could deny that,
in this crisis, she acted with feeling and tact. She
ignored mademoiselle and her lover, whose bliss was in
evidence on deck all day, and took possession of Mrs.
Waldeaux, caring for her as tenderly as if she had been
some poor wretch sentenced to death. "She has no
intellect left except her ideas about George," she told
herself, "and if he turns his back on her for life in
this way---- She never was too sane!" shaking her head
She thought it best to talk frankly of the matter to
little Lucy Dunbar, and was relieved to find her ready to
joke and laugh at it. "No bruise in that tender heart!"
thought Clara, who was anxious as a mother for her girls.
"We all worshipped Mr. George," said Lucy saucily. "I,
most of all. He is so cold, so exalted and ah--h, so
good-looking! Like a Greek god. But he never gave
a look to poor little me! The fraulein came on deck as
soon as we all went down with sea-sickness, and bewitched
him with her eyes. It must have been her eyes; they are
yellow--witch's eyes. Or maybe that cheap smell about
her is a love-philter! Or was it just soul calling to
soul? I should have said the fraulein had the soul of a
milliner. She put great ideas into the hat that she
altered for me," Lucy added, with an unsteady laugh.
"I care nothing for them or their souls," said Miss Vance
crossly. "It is his mother that I think of."
"But really," said Lucy, "mademoiselle is quite raw
material. No ideas--no manners whatever. Mrs. Waldeaux
may mould her into something good and fine."
"She will not try. She will never accept that creature
as a daughter."
"She seems to me to be indifferent," said Lucy. "She
does not see how terrible it is. She was leaning over
the bulwark just now, laughing at the queer gossoons
selling their shillalahs."
"Oh, she will laugh at Death himself when he comes to
fetch her, and see something `queer'in him," said Clara.
But her little confidence with Lucy had relieved her.
The child cared nothing for George, that was plain.
Mademoiselle, watching Mrs. Waldeaux closely all day, was
not deceived by her laugh. "The old lady, your mother,"
she said to George, "is what you men call `game.' She
has blood and breeding. More than you, monsieur. That
keeps her up. I did not count on that," said the young
George took off his glasses and rubbed them nervously as
he talked. "I don't understand my mother at all! She
has always been very considerate and kind. I never
thought that she would receive my wife, when I brought
her to her, with calm civility. Not a kiss nor a
"A kiss? A blessing for me?" Lisa laughed and nodded
meaningly to the sea and world at large. "She could
hardly have blessed a woman lolling full length in her
chair," she thought. "It IS her chair. And I have
unseated her for life curling herself up in the rugs.
Yet she had a twinge of pity for the old lady. Even the
wild boar has its affections and moments of gentleness.
A week ago Lisa could have trampled the life out of this
woman who had slandered her dead mother, with the fury of
any wild beast.
For she was Pauline Felix's daughter. It was her
mother's name that Mrs. Waldeaux had said could not be
spoken by any decent woman. Lisa had been but a child,
but she had held her mother's head close to her stout
little heart as she lay dying--that awful mysterious
death of which the young man had tried to make a telling
story. The girl crossed herself now and closed her tired
eyes as she thought of it. She had been a wicked child
and a wicked woman, but she knew certainly that the
Virgin and her Son had come near to her that day, and had
George, who was poring fondly on her face, exclaimed:
"Your eyes are wet. You are in trouble!"
"I was thinking of my mother," she said gently, holding
out her hand to him.
He took it and said presently, "Will you not talk to me
about her, Lisa? You have not told me any thing of
your people, my darling. Nor of yourself. Why, I don't
even know whether you are French or German."
"Oh, you shall hear the whole story when we are married,"
she replied softly, a wicked glitter in her eyes. "Some
of the noblest blood in Europe is in my veins. I will
give you my genealogical tree to hang up in that old
homestead of yours. It will interest the people of
Weir--and please your mother."
"It is good in you to think of her," he said, tenderly
looking down at her.
He was not blind. He saw the muddy skin, the thick lips,
the soiled, ragged lace. They would have disgusted him
in another woman.
But this was--Lisa. There was no more to be said.
These outside trifles would fall off when she came into
his life. Even with them she was the breath and soul of
She saw the difference between them more sharply than he
did. She had been cast for a low part in the play, and
knew it. Sometimes she had earned the food which kept
her alive in ways of which this untempted young priest
had never even heard. There was something in this
clean past of his, in his cold patrician face and
luxurious habits new to her, and she had a greedy relish
for it all.
She had been loved before, caressed as men caress a dog,
kicking it off when it becomes troublesome. George's
boyish shyness, his reverent awe of her, startled her.
"He thinks Lisa Arpent a jeune fille--like these
others. A little white rose!" she thought, and laughed.
She would not tell him why she laughed, and muttered an
oath when he stupidly insisted on knowing.
He was the first lover who had ever believed in her.
She had begun this affair simply to punish the "old
woman"; the man in it had counted for nothing. But now,
as they crossed the gangway, she looked up at him with
eyes that for the moment were honest and true as a
child's, and her firm hand suddenly trembled in his.
Three weeks later Mrs. Waldeaux came into Miss Vance's
little parlor on Half Moon Street. Her face was red from
the wind, her eyes sparkled, and she hummed some gay air
which an organ ground outside. Clara laid down her
"Where have you been, Frances? It is a week since I saw
"Oh, everywhere! George has been showing me London!"
She sat down before the fire with a gurgle of comfort
and dropped her bonnet and gloves on the floor beside
her. "Yesterday we spent at the Museum. George
explained the Elgin marbles to me. I don't suppose any
body in London has studied their history so thoroughly.
I did wish you could have heard him. And the day before
I was at the House--in the ladies' gallery. I can't
imagine how he got admission for me. He IS so clever!"
"We are going down to Canterbury for a couple of days,"
said Clara. "We start at noon. Will you go with us?"
"No, I think not. George does not seem to care for
cathedrals. And he has plans for me, no doubt."
Miss Vance brushed the bonnet and carefully rolled up the
strings. "Are you satisfied? Is London the London you
have been thinking of these twenty years?" she asked.
"Oh, a thousand times more! And George has been with me
every day--every day!"
Miss Vance picked up the gloves, looking impatiently at
the poor lady's happy face. "Now she has gone off into
one of her silly transports of delight, and for no
"I noticed that George has seen very little of Lisa
lately," she said tentatively. "If he really means to
"Marry her! Clara! You surely never feared THAT?"
"He certainly told us plainly enough that he would do
it," said Miss Vance testily.
"Oh, you don't understand him! You have had so little to
do with young men. They are all liable to attacks like
that--as to measles and scarlet fever. But they pass
off. Now, George is not as susceptible as most of them.
But," lowering her voice, "he was madly in love with the
butcher's Kate when he was ten, and five years afterward
offered to marry the widow Potts. I thought he had
outgrown the disease. There has been nothing of the kind
since, until this fancy. It is passing off. Of course
it is mortifying enough to think that such a poor
creature as that could attract him for an hour."
"I was to blame," Miss Vance said, with an effort. "I
brought her in his way. But how was I to know that she
was such a cat, and he such---- If he should marry
Mrs. Waldeaux laughed angrily. "You are too absurd,
Clara. A flirtation with such a woman was degrading
enough, but George is not quite mad. He has not even
spoken of her for days. Oh, here he comes! That is his
step on the stairs." She ran to the door. "He found
that I was out and has followed me. He is the most
ridiculous mother's boy! Well, George, here I am! Have
you thought of some thing new for me to see?" She
glanced at Miss Vance, well pleased that she should see
the lad's foolish fondness for her.
George forced a smile. He looked worn and jaded. Miss
Vance noticed that his usually neat cravat was awry and
his hands were gloveless. "Yes," he said. "It is a lit-
tle church. The oldest in London. I want to show it to
Miss Vance tied on Mrs. Waldeaux's bonnet, smoothing her
hair affectionately. "There are too many gray hairs
here for your age, Frances," she said. "George, you
should keep your mother from worry and work. Don't let
her hair grow gray so soon."
George bowed. "I hope I shall do my duty," he said, with
dignity. "Come, mother."
As they drove down Piccadilly Mrs. Waldeaux chattered
eagerly to her son. She could not pour out her teeming
fancies about this new world to any body else, but she
could not talk fast enough to him. Had they not both
been waiting for a lifetime to see this London?
"The thing," she said earnestly, as she settled herself
beside him, "the thing that has impressed me most, I
think, were those great Ninevite gods yesterday. I sat
for hours before them while you were gone. There they
sit, their hands on their knees, and stare out of their
awful silence at the London fog, just as they stared at
the desert before Christ was born. I felt so miserably
young and sham!"
George adjusted his cravat impatiently. "I'm afraid I
don't quite follow you, mother. These little flights of
yours---- They belong to your generation, I suppose. It
was a more sentimental one than mine. You are not
very young. And you certainly are not a sham. The
statues are interesting, but I fail to see why they
should have had such an effect upon you."
"Oh!" said Frances. "But you did not stay alone with
them as long as I did, or you would have felt it too.
Now I am sure that the debates in Parliament impressed
you just as they did me?"
George said nothing, but she went on eagerly. It never
occurred to her that he could be bored by her impressions
in these greatest days of her life. "To see a half-dozen
well-groomed young men settle the affairs of India and
Australia in a short, indifferent colloquy! How shy and
awkward they were, too! They actually stuttered out
their sentences in their fear of posing or seeming
pretentious. So English! Don't you think it was very
"I really did not think about it at all. I have had very
different things to occupy me," said George, coldly
superior to all mothers and Parliaments. This is the
The cab stopped before an iron door between two shops
in the most thronged part of Bishopsgate Street. He
pushed it open, and they passed suddenly out of the
hurrying crowd into the solemn silence of an ancient
dingy building. A dim light fell through a noble window
of the thirteenth century upon cheap wooden pews. The
church was empty, and had that curious significance and
half-spoken message of its own which belongs to a vacant
"I remember," whispered Frances, awestruck. "This was
built by the first Christian convert, St. Ethelburga."
"You believe every thing, mother!" said George irritably.
She wandered about, looking at the sombre walls and
inscriptions, and then back uneasily, to his moody face.
Suddenly she came up to him as he stood leaning against
a pillar. "Something has happened!" she said. "You did
not bring me here to look at the church. You have
something to tell me."
The young man looked at her and turned away. "Yes, I
have. It isn't a death," he said, with a nervous laugh.
"You need not look in that way. It is--something
very different. I--I was married in this church
yesterday to Lisa Arpent."
Frances did not at first comprehend the great disaster
that bulked black across her whole life, but, woman-like,
grasped at a fragment of it.
"You were married and I was not there! Yesterday! My
boy was married and he forgot me!"
"Mother! Don't look like that! Here, sit down,"
grabbing her helplessly by the arms. "I didn't want to
hurt you. I brought you here to tell you quietly. Cry!
Why don't you cry if you're worried! Oh! I believe she's
dying!" he shouted, staring around the empty church.
She spoke at last.
"You were married and I couldn't say God bless you! You
forgot me! I never forgot you, George, for one minute
since you were born."
"Mother, what fool talk is that? I only didn't want a
scene. I kept away from Lisa for weeks so as not to vex
you. Forget you! I think I have been very considerate
of you under the circumstances. You have a dislike
to Lisa, a most groundless dislike----"
"Oh, what is Lisa? " said Frances haughtily. "It is that
you have turned away from me. She has nothing to do with
the relation between you and me. How can any woman come
between me and my son?" She held up her hands. "Why,
you are my boy, Georgy. You are all I have!"
He looked at the face, curiously pinched and drawn as if
by death, that was turned up to his, and shrugged his
shoulders impatiently. "Now this is exactly what I tried
to escape yesterday. Am I never to be a man, nor have
the rights of a man? You must accept the situation,
mother. Lisa is my wife, and dearer to me than all the
He saw her lips move. "Dearer? Dearer than me!"
She sat quite still after that, and did not seem to hear
when he spoke. Something in her silence frightened him.
She certainly had been a fond, indulgent mother, and he
perhaps had been abrupt in cutting the tie between them.
It must be cut. He had promised Lisa the whole matter
should be settled to-day. But his mother certainly
was a weak woman, and he must be patient with her.
Secretly he approved the manliness of his patience.
"The cab is waiting, dear," he said. She rose and walked
to the street, standing helpless there while the crowd
jostled her. Was she blind and deaf? He put her into
the cab and sat down opposite to her. "Half Moon
Street," he called to the driver.
"Mother," touching her on the knee.
"I told him to drive to Half Moon Street. I will take
you to Clara Vance. We may as well arrange things now,
finally. You do not like my wife. That is clear. For
the present, therefore, it is better that we should
separate. I have consulted with Lisa, and she has
suggested that you shall join Clara Vance's party while
we go our own way."
She stared at him. "Do you mean that you and I are not
to see London together? Not to travel through Europe
He pitied her a little, and, leaning forward, kissed her
clammy lips. "The thing will seem clearer to you
to-morrow, no doubt. I must leave you now. Go to Clara
and her girls. They all like to pet and make much of
you. I will bring Lisa in the morning, to talk business
a little. She has an uncommonly clear head for business.
Good-by, dear!" He stopped the cab, jumped out, and
walked briskly to the corner where his wife was waiting
"You have told her?" she asked breathlessly.
"Yes. It's over."
"That we must separate?"
"Yes, yes. I told her you thought it best."
"And she was not willing?"
"Well, she did not approve very cordially," said George,
evading her eye.
"But she shall approve!" hanging upon his arm, her
burning eyes close to his face. "You are mine, George!
I love you. I will share you with nobody!" She whistled
shrilly, and a hansom stopped.
"What are you going to do, darling?"
"Follow her. I will tell her something that will make
her willing to separate. Get in, get in! "
Frances, when in trouble, went out of doors among the
trees as naturally as other women take to their beds.
Lisa's sharp eyes saw her sitting in the Green Park as
they passed. The mist, which was heavy as rain, hung in
drops on the stretches of sward and filled the far aisles
of trees with a soft gray vapor. The park was deserted
but for an old man who asked Mrs. Waldeaux for the
penny's hire for her chair. As he hobbled away, he
looked back at her curiously.
"She gave him a shilling!" exclaimed Lisa, as he passed
them. "I told you she was not fit to take care of
"But why not wait until to-morrow to talk of business?
She is hurt and unnerved just now, and she--she does not
like you, Lisa."
"I am not afraid. She will be civil. She is like
Chesterfield. `Even death cannot kill the courtesy in
her.' You don't seem to know the woman, George. Come."
But George hung back and loitered among the trees. He
was an honest fellow, though slow of wit; he loved his
mother and was penetrated to the quick just now by a
passionate fondness for his wife. Two such good, clever
women! Why couldn't they hit it off together?
"George?" said Frances, hearing his steps.
Lisa came up to her. She rose, and smiled to her son's
wife, and after a moment held out her hand.
But the courtesy which Lisa had expected suddenly enraged
her. "No! There need be no pretence between us," she
said. "You are not glad to see me. There is no pretence
in me. I am honest. I did not come here to make
compliments, but to talk business."
"George said to-morrow. Can it not wait until
"No. What is to do--do it! That is my motto. George,
come here! Tell your mother what we have decided. Oh,
very well, if you prefer that I should speak. We go to
Paris at once, Mrs. Waldeaux, and will take apartments
there. You will remain with Miss Vance."
"Yes, I know. I am to remain----" Frances passed her
hand once or twice over her mouth irresolutely. "But
Oxford, George?" she said. "You forget your
George took off his spectacles and wiped them.
"Speak! Have you no mind of your own?" his wife
whispered. "I will tell you, then, madam. He has done
with that silly whim! A priest, indeed! I am Catholic,
and priests do not marry. He goes to Paris to study art.
I see a great future for him, in art."
Frances stared at him, and then sat down, dully. What
did it matter? Paris or Oxford? She would not be there.
What did it matter?
Lisa waited a moment for some comment, and then began
sharply, "Now, we come to affaires! Listen, if you
please. I am a woman of business. Plain speaking is
always best, to my idea."
Mrs. Waldeaux drew herself together and turned her eyes
on her with sudden apprehension, as she would on a
snapping dog. The woman's tones threatened attack.
"To live in Paris, to work effectively, your son must
have money. I brought him no dot, alas! Except"--with
a burlesque courtesy--"my beauty and my blood. I must
know how much money we shall have before I design the
"George has his income," said his mother hastily.
"Ah! You are alarmed, madam! You do not like plain
words about the affaires? George tells me that
although he is long ago of age, he has as yet received no
portion of his father's estates."
"Lisa! You do not understand! Mother, I did not
complain. You have always given me my share of the
income from the property. I have no doubt it was a fair
share--as much as if my father had left me my portion,
according to custom."
"Yes, it was a fair share," said Frances.
"Ah! you smile, madam!" interrupted Lisa. "I am told it
is a vast property, a grand chateau--many securities! M.
Waldeaux pere made a will, on dit, incredibly
foolish, with no mention of his son. But now that this
son comes to marry, to become the head of the house, if
you were a French mother, if you were just, you
would---- You appear to be amused, madam?"
For Mrs. Waldeaux was laughing. She could not speak for
a moment. The tears stood in her eyes.
"The matter has somewhat of droll to you?"
"It has its humorous side," said Frances. "I quite
understand, George, that you will need more money to
support a wife. I will double your allowance. It shall
be paid quarterly."
"You would prefer to do that?" hesitated George. "Rather
than to make over a son's share of the property to me
absolutely? Some of the landed estate or securities? I
have probably a shrewder business talent than yours, and
if I had control could make my property more profitable."
"I should prefer to pay your income as before--yes," said
"Well, as you choose. It is yours to give, of course."
George coughed and shuffled to conquer his
disappointment. Then he said, "Have it your own way."
He put his hand affectionately on her shoulder. "And
when you have had your little outing and go home to Weir,
you will be glad to have us come to you, for a
visit--won't you, mother? You haven't said so."
"Why should I say so? It is your home, George, yours and
your wife's." She caught his hand and held it to her
But Lisa had not so easily conquered her disappointment.
This woman was coolly robbing George of his rights and
was going instead to kill for him a miserable little
fatted calf! Bah! This woman, who had maligned her dead
She should have her punishment now. In one blow,
straight from the shoulder.
"But you should know, madam," she said gently, "who it is
your son has married before you take her home. I assure
you that you can present me to the society in Weir with
pride. I have royal blood----"
"Lisa!" George caught her arm. "It is not necessary.
"Oh, I forget nothing! I said royal blood. My father,
madam, was the brother of the Czar, and my mother was
Pauline Felix. You don't seem to understand----" after
a moment's pause. " It was my mother whose name you
said should not cross any decent woman's lips--my
mother----" She broke down into wild sobs.
"When I said it I did not know that you---- I am sorry."
Frances suddenly walked away, pulling open her collar.
It seemed to her that there was no breath in the world.
George followed her. "Did you know this?" she said at
last, in a hoarse whisper. "And you are--married to her?
There is no way of being rid of her?"
"No, there is no way," said Waldeaux stoutly. "And if
there were, I should not look for it. I am sorry that
there is any smirch on Lisa's birth. But even her
mother, I fancy, was not altogether a bad lot. Bygones
must be bygones. I love my wife, mother. She's worth
loving, as you'd find if you would take the trouble to
know her. Her dead mother shall not come between her and
"She's like her, George!" said Mrs. Waldeaux, with white,
trembling lips. "I ought to have seen it at first.
Those luring, terrible eyes. It is Pauline Felix's heart
that is in her. Rotten to the core--rotten----"
"I don't care. I'll stand by her." But George's face,
too, began to lose its color. He shook himself
uncomfortably. "The thing's done now," he muttered.
"Certainly, certainly," Frances repeated mechanically.
"Tell her that I am sorry I spoke of her mother before
her. It was rude--brutal. I ask her pardon."
"Oh, she'll soon forget that! Lisa has a warm heart, if
you take her right. There's lots of hearty fun in her
too. You'll like that. Are you going now? Good-by,
dear. We will come and see you in the morning. The
thing will not seem half so bad when you have slept on
He paused uncertainly, as she still stood motionless.
She was facing the grim walls of Stafford House, looming
dimly through the mist, her eyes fixed as if she were
studying the sky line.
"George," she said. "You don't understand. You will come
to me always. But that woman never shall cross my
"Mother! Do you mean what you say?"
It was a man, not a shuffling boy that spoke now. "Do
you mean that we are not to go to you to-morrow? Not to
go home in October? Never----"
"Your home is open to you. But Pauline Felix's child is
no more to me than a wild beast--or a snake in the grass,
and never can be." She faced him steadily now.
"There she is," said Frances, looking at the little black
figure under the trees, "and here am I. You can choose
"Those whom God hath joined together," muttered George.
"You know that."
"You have known her for three weeks," cried Frances
vehemently. "I gave you life. I have been your slave
every hour since you were born. I have lived but for
you. Which of us has God joined together?"
"Mother, you're damnably unreasonable! It is the course
of nature for a man to leave his parents and cleave to
"Yes , I know," she said slowly. "You can keep that foul
thing in your life, but it never shall come into mine."
"Then neither will I. I will stand by my wife."
"That is the end, then?"
She waited, her eyes on his.
He did not speak.
She turned and left him, disappearing slowly in the rain
Two days later Mr. Perry met Miss Vance in Canterbury and
told her of the marriage. She hurried back to London.
She could not hide her distress and dismay from the two
"How did she force him into it? One is almost driven to
believe in hypnotism," she cried.
Lucy Dunbar had no joke to make about it to-day. The
merry little girl was silent, having, she said, a
"You've had too much cathedral!" said Miss Hassard. "And
the whole church is wretchedly out of drawing!"
Jean Hassard had studied art at Pond City in Dakota, and
her soul's hope had been to follow Marie Bashkirtseff's
career in Paris. But her father had morally handcuffed
her and put her into Clara's custody for a year. It was
hard! To be led about to old churches, respectable as
her grandmother, when she might have been studying
the nude in a mixed class! She rattled her chains
disagreeably at every step.
"The mesalliance is on the other side," she told Lucy
privately. "A woman of the world who knew life, to marry
that bloodless, finical priest!"
"He was not bloodless. He loved her."
Mr. Perry came up with them from Canterbury, being
secretly alarmed about Miss Dunbar's headache. Nobody
took proper care of that lovely child! He had attached
himself to Miss Vance's party in England; he dropped in
every evening to tell of his interviews with Gladstone or
Mrs. Oliphant or an artist or a duke. It was delightful
to the girls to come so close to these unknown great
folks. They felt quite like peris, just outside the
court of heaven, with the gate a little bit ajar. This
evening Mr. Perry promised it should open for them. He
was going to bring a real prince, whom he familiarly
dubbed "a jolly fellow," to call upon Miss Vance.
"Who is the man?" said Clara irritably. "Be careful, Mr.
Perry. I have had enough of foreign adventurers."
"Oh, the Hof Kalender will post you as to Prince
Wolfburgh. I looked him up in it. He is head of one of
the great mediatized families. Would have been reigning
now if old Kaiser Wilhelm had not played Aaron's serpent
and gobbled up all the little kings. Wolfburgh has kept
all his land and castles, however."
"Very well. Let us see what the man is like," Miss Vance
Mrs. Waldeaux was not in the house when they arrived.
Every day she went early in the morning to the Green
Park, where she had seen George last, and wandered about
until night fell. She thought that he had gone to Paris,
and that she was alone in London. But somehow she came
nearer to him there.
When she found that Clara had arrived, she knew that she
would be full of pity for her. She came down to dinner
in full dress, told some funny stories, and laughed
No. She had not missed them. The days had gone merry as
a marriage bell with her even after her son and his wife
had run away to Paris.
Mr. Perry congratulated her warmly on the match.
"The lady is very fetching, indeed," he said. "I
remarked that the first day on ship-board. Oh, yes, I
know a diamond when I see it. But your son picks it up.
Lucky fellow! He picks it up!" He told Miss Vance that
there was a curious attraction about her friend, "who, by
the way, should always wear brown velvet and lace."
Miss Vance drew little Lucy aside after dinner. "Do you
see," she said, "the tears in her eyes? It wrenches my
heart. She has become an old woman in a day. I feel as
if Frances were dead, and that was her ghost joking and
Lucy said nothing, but she went to Frances and sat beside
her all evening. When the prince arrived and was
presented, going on his triumphant way through the room,
she nestled closer, whispering, "What do you think of
"He looks very like our little fat Dutch baker in
Weir--he has the same air of patronage," said Frances
coldly. She was offended that Lucy should notice the man
at all. Was it not she whom George should have married?
How happy they would have been--her boy and this
sweet, neat little girl! And already Lucy was curious
about so-called princes!
When his Highness came back to them she rose hastily and
went to her own room.
Late that night Miss Vance found her there in the dark,
sitting bolt upright in her chair, still robed in velvet
and lace. Clara regarded her sternly, feeling that it
was time to take her in hand.
"You have not forgiven George?" she said abruptly.
Mrs. Waldeaux looked up, but said nothing.
"Is he coming back soon?"
"He never shall come back while that woman is with him."
Miss Vance put her lamp on the table and sat down.
"Frances," she said deliberately, "I know what this is to
you. It would have been better for you that George had
"But he didn't die. He married Lisa Arpent. Now it is
your duty to accept it. Make the best of it."
"If a lizard crawls into my house will you tell me to
accept it? Make the best of it? Oh, my God! The slimy
"She is not vile! I tell you there are lovable qualities
in Lisa. And even if she were as wicked as her mother,
what right have you---- You, too, are a sinner before
"No," said Mrs. Waldeaux gravely, "I am not. I have
lived a good Christian life. I may have been tempted to
commit sin, but I cannot remember that I ever did it."
Miss Vance looked at her aghast. "But surely your
religion teaches you---- Why, you are sinning now, when
you hate this girl!"
"I do not hate her. God made her as he made the lizard.
I simply will not allow her to cross my path. What has
religion to do with it? I am clean and she is vile.
That is all there is to say."
Both women were silent. Mrs. Waldeaux got up at last and
caught Clara by the arm. She was trembling violently.
"No, I'm not ill. I'm well enough. But you don't under-
stand! That woman has killed George. I spent twenty
years in making him what he is. I worked--there was
nothing but him for me in the world. I didn't spare
myself. To make him a gentleman--a Christian. And
in a month she turns him into a thing like herself. He
is following her vulgar courses. I saw the difference
after he had lived with her for one day. He is tainted."
She stood staring into the dull lamp. "She may not live
long, though," she said. "She doesn't look strong----"
"Frances! For God's sake!"
"Well, what of it? Why shouldn't I wish her gone? The
harm--the harm! Do you remember that Swedish maid I
had--a great fair woman? One day she was stung by a
green fly, and in a week she was dead, her whole body a
mass of corruption! Oh, God lets such things be done!
Nothing but a green fly----" She shook off Clara's hold,
drawing her breath with difficulty. "That is Lisa. It
is George that is being poisoned, body and soul. It's a
pity to see my boy killed by a thing like that--it's a
Miss Vance was too frightened to argue with her. She
brought her wrapper, loosened her hair, soothing her in
little womanish ways. But her burning curiosity drove
her presently to ask one question.
"How can they live?"
"I have doubled his allowance."
"Frances! You will work harder to make money for Lisa
"Oh, what is money!" cried Frances, pushing her away
Miss Vance persuaded Mrs. Waldeaux to go with her to
Scotland. During the weeks that followed Frances always
found Lucy Dunbar at her side in the trains or on the
"She is a very companionable child," she told Clara. "I
often forget that I am any older than she. She never
tires of hearing stories of George's scrapes or his queer
sayings when he was a child. Such stories, I think, are
usually tedious, but George was a peculiar boy."
Mr. Perry's search for notorieties took him also to
Scotland, and, oddly enough, Prince Wolfburgh's search
for amusement led him in the same direction. They met
him and his cousin, Captain Odo Wolfburgh, at Oban, and
again on the ramparts of Stirling Castle, and the very
day that they arrived in Edinburgh, there, in Holyrood,
in Queen Mary's chamber, stood the pursy little man,
curling his mustache before her mirror.
Mr. Perry fell into the background with Miss Hassard.
"His Highness is becoming monotonous!" he grumbled.
"These foreigners never know when they are superfluous in
"Is he superfluous?" Jean glanced to the corner where the
prince and Lucy were eagerly searching for the blood of
Rizzio upon the steps.
"Decidedly," said Perry. "I wished to show you and Miss
Dunbar a live prince, and I did it. That is done and
over with. He has been seen and heard. There is no
reason why he should pop up here and there all over Great
Britain like a Jack-in-the-box. He's becoming a bore."
"You suspect him to be an impostor?" said Jean quickly.
"No. He's genuine enough. But we don't want any
foreigners in our caravan," stroking his red beard
"No. What do you suppose is his object?" asked Jean,
with one of her quick, furtive glances.
Mr. Perry's jaws grew red as his beard. "How can I
tell?" he said gruffly. He went on irritably, a moment
later: "Of course you see it. The fellow has no
delicacy. He makes no more secret of his plans than if
he were going to run down a rabbit. Last night at
Stirling, over his beer, he held forth upon the dimples
on Miss Dunbar's pink elbows, and asked me if her hair
were all her own. I said, at last, that American men did
not value women like sheep by their flesh and fleece and
the money they were rated at in the market. I hit him
square that time, prince or no prince!"
"Yes, you did, indeed," said Jean vaguely. Her keen eyes
followed Lucy and the prince, who were loitering through
the gallery, pausing before the faded portraits. "You
think it is only her money that draws him after us?"
"Why, of course! A fellow like that could not appreciate
Miss Dunbar's beauty and wit."
"You think Lucy witty?" said Jean dryly. "And you think
she would not marry for a title?"
"I don't believe any pure American girl would sell
herself, like a sheep in the shambles! And she is
pure! A lamb, a lily! cried Perry, growing incoherent in
"She would not if her heart were preoccupied," said Jean
"And you think----" he said breathlessly.
But Jean only laughed, and said no more.
The guide had been paying profound deference to Prince
Wolfburgh, keeping close to his heels. Now he swung open
a door. "If your Highnesses will come this way?" he
said, bowing profoundly to Lucy.
The little girl started and hurried back to Miss Vance.
Her face was scarlet, and she laughed nervously. Prince
Wolfburgh also laughed, loudly and meaningly. He swore
at the old man and went out into the cloister where his
cousin stood smoking.
"Had enough of the old barracks?" said the captain.
"I found I was making too fast running in there," said
the prince uneasily; "I'll waken up and find that girl
married to me some day."
"Not so bad a dream," puffed his cousin.
"I'll take a train somewhere," said the prince. "But no
matter where I go, I'll find an American old woman with
a girl to marry. They all carry the Hof Kalender
in their pockets, and know every bachelor in Germany."
The captain watched him attentively. "I don't believe
those women inside mean to drive any marriage bargain
with you, Hugo," he said gruffly. "I doubt whether the
little mees would marry you if you asked her. Her dot,
I hear, is e-normous!" waving his hand upward as if to
mountain heights. "And as for beauty, she is a wild
Now, there were reasons why the captain should rejoice
when Hugo allied himself to the little mees. On the day
when he would take these hills of gold and wild rose to
himself, the captain would become the head of the house
of Wolfburgh. It was, perhaps, a mean, ungilded throne,
but by German law no nameless Yankee woman could sit upon
The prince looked at Captain Odo. "You cannot put me
into a gallop when I choose to walk," he said. "She's a
pretty girl, and a good girl, and some time I may marry
her, but not now."
Odo laughed good-humoredly, and they sauntered down the
The prince had offered to dine with Miss Vance that
evening, but sent a note to say that he was summoned to
the Highlands unexpectedly.
"It is adieu, not auf wiedersehen, I fear, with his
Highness," Miss Vance said, folding the note pensively.
She had not meant to drive a marriage bargain, and
yet--to have placed a pupil upon even such a bric-a-brac
throne as that of Wolfburgh! She looked thoughtfully at
Lucy's chubby cheeks. A princess? The man was not
objectionable in himself, either--a kindly, overgrown
"He told me," said Jean, "that he was going to a house
party at Inverary Castle."
"Whose house is that, Jean?" asked Lucy.
"It is the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Argyll."
"Oh!" Lucy gave a little sigh. Prince Hugo was
undeniably fat and very slow to catch a joke, but there
was certainly a different flavor in this talk of dukes
and ancestral seats to the gossip about the Whites and
Greens at home.
Indeed, the whole party, including even Mr. Perry,
experienced a sensation of sudden vacancy and
flatness when his Highness left them. It was as though
they had been sheltering a royal eagle that was used to
dwelling in sunlit heights unknown to them, and now they
were left on flat ground to consort with common poultry.
Miss Vance led her party slowly through Scotland and down
again to London. Mrs. Waldeaux went with them. The
girls secretly laughed together at her fine indomitable
politeness, and her violent passion for the Stuarts, and
hate of the Roundheads. But Mr. Perry was bored by her.
"What is it to us," he said, "that Queen Mary paddled
over this lake, or Cromwell's soldiers whitewashed that
fresco? Give me a clean, new American church, anyhow,
before all of your mouldy, tomby cathedrals. These
things are so many cancelled cheques to me. I have
nothing to pay on them. It is live issues that draw on
my heart. You American girls ought to be at home looking
into the negro problem, or Tammany, or the Sugar Trust,
instead of nosing into Rembrandts, or miracles at
Lourdes, or palaces. These are all back numbers. Write
n. g. on them and bury them. So, by the way, is your
Mrs. Waldeaux a back number. My own opinion is that
all men and women at fifty ought to go willingly and be
shut up in the room where the world keeps its second-hand
"Yet nobody," said Lucy indignantly, "is more careful or
tender with Mrs. Waldeaux than you!"
"That is because Mr. Perry has the genuine American awe
of people of good birth," said Jean slyly. "It is the
only trait which makes me suspect that he is a self-made
Mr. Perry, for answer, only bowed gravely. He long ago
had ceased to hide his opinion that Miss Hassard was
Frances, for her part, was sure that the young people
were glad to have her as a companion. One day she
decided to stay with them, and the next to go to New York
on the first steamer. She seemed to see life hazily, as
one over whose mind a cataract was growing. What had she
to do in Europe, she reasoned? George was gone. Her one
actual hold on the world had slipped from her. That
great mysterious thing called living was done and past
And yet--there was Kenilworth, and Scott's house?
Scott, who had been her friend and leader since she was
eight years old! And in that anthem at York minster
there was a message, which she had been waiting all of
her life to hear! And here was Lucy beside her with her
soft voice, and loving blue eyes--Lucy, who should have
been George's wife! In all of these things something
high and good called to the poor lady, which she heard
and understood as a child would the voice of its mother.
One hour she resolved to leave her son with his wife, to
go back to Weir at once and work with the poultry and
Quigg's jokes for the rest of her life. She was dead.
Let her give up and consent to be dead.
The next, she would stay where she could see George
sometimes, and try to forgive the woman who had him in
her keeping. Perhaps, after all, she was human, as Clara
said. If she could forgive Lisa, she could be happy with
these young people and live--live in this wonderful old
world, where all that was best of past ages was kept
waiting for her.
When they came to London, she went at once to
Morgan's to make a deposit, for she had been hard at work
on her jokes as she travelled, and had received her pay.
"Your son, madam," said the clerk, "drew on his account
to-day. He said he expected remittances from you. Is
this to be put to his credit?"
"My son was in London to-day?
"He has just left the house."
"Did he--he left a message for me? A letter, perhaps?"
"No, nothing, madam."
"Put the money to his credit, of course."
She went out into the narrow street and wandered along to
the Bank of England, staring up at the huge buildings.
He had been looking at them--he had walked on this very
pavement a minute ago! That might be the smoke of his
She could easily find him. Just to look at him once; to
hold his hand! He might be ill and need her; he never
was well in foggy weather.
Then she remembered that Lisa was with him. She would
She called a cab, and, as she drove home, looked out at
the crowd with a hard, smiling face.
Henry Irving that night played "Shylock," and Mr. Perry
secured a box for Miss Vance. Frances went with the
others. Before the curtain rose there was a startled
movement among them, a whisper, and then Clara turned to
"Frances, Lisa is coming into the opposite box," she
said. "She is really a beautiful woman in that
decollete gown, and her cheeks flushed, and her
eyes---- I had no idea! She is superb!"
Two men in the dress of French officers entered the box
with Lisa. They seated her, bending over her with an
empressement which, to Mrs. Waldeaux's heated fancy,
was insulting. George came last, carrying his wife's
cloak, which he placed upon a chair. One of the men
tossed his cape to him, with a familiar nod, and George
laid it aside and sat down at the back of the box.
His mother leaned forward, watching. That woman had put
her son in the place of an inferior--an attendant.
The great orchestra shook the house with a final crash,
and the curtain rose upon the Venetian plaza. Every face
in the audience was turned attentive toward it. But Mrs.
Waldeaux saw only Lisa.
A strange change came upon her as she watched her son's
wife. For months she had struggled feebly against her
hate of Lisa. Now she welcomed it; she let herself go.
Is the old story true after all? Is there some brutal
passion hiding in every human soul, waiting its chance,
even in old age? It is certain that this woman, after
her long harmless life, recognized the fury in her soul
and freed it.
"Frances," whispered Clara, "when this act is over, go
and speak to them. I will go with you. It is your
chance to put an end to this horrible separation. They
are your children."
"No. That woman is my enemy, Clara," said Mrs. Waldeaux
quietly. "I will make no terms with her."
Miss Vance sighed and turned to the stage, but Frances
still watched the opposite box. It seemed as if the
passion within her had cleared her eyes. They never
had seen George as they now saw him.
Was that her son? Was it that little priggish,
insignificant fellow that she had made a god of? He was
dull, commonplace! Satisfied to sit dumb in the
background and take orders from those bourgeois French
The play went on, but she saw nothing but George and his
There was the result of all her drudgery! The hot
summers of work in the filthy poultry yards; the grinding
out of poor jokes; the coarse, cheap underclothes (she
used to cry when she put them on, she hated them so).
Years and years of it all; and for that cold, selfish
His mother saw him leave the box, and knew that he was
"Oh, good-evening, George!" she said gayly, as he opened
the door. "A wonderful scene, wasn't it? I have always
wished to see Irving in `Hamlet.'"
"This is `Shylock,'" he said gravely, and turned to speak
to the others. They welcomed him eagerly, and made room
for him. He had lost something of the cold, blase air
which had ennobled him in the eyes of the young
women. He looked around presently, and said with a
"It is so pleasant to talk English again! My wife
detests it. We speak only French. I feel like an alien
and outcast among you!" He laughed; his mother glanced
at him curiously. But Lucy turned her face away, afraid
that he should see it. As he talked, George noted the
clear-cut American features of the girls, and their
dainty gowns, with a keen pleasure; then he glanced
quickly at the opposite box.
"Ah!" said Jean to Mr. Perry. "The soiled lace and musk
are beginning to tell! He is tired of Lisa already!"
"I never liked the fellow," said Mr. Perry coldly. "But
he is hardly the cad that you suppose."
He fell into a gloomy silence. He had wasted two years'
salary in following Lucy Dunbar about, in showering
flowers on her, in posing before her in the last fashions
of Conduit Street, and yet when this conceited fellow
came into the box she was blind and deaf to all besides!
Her eyes filled with tears just now when he talked of
his loneliness. Lonely--with his wife! A married man!
George, when the curtain fell again, sat down by Frances.
"Mother," he said.
"Yes, George." Her eyes were bright and attentive, but
her countenance had fallen into hard lines new to him.
"I went to Morgan's this afternoon. You have been very
liberal to us."
"I will do what I can. You may depend upon that amount,
He rose and bade them good-night, and turned to her
"We--we are coming to-morrow to thank you. MOTHER?"
There was a hoarse sob in his throat. He laid his hand
on her arm. She moved so that it dropped. "We will come
to-morrow," he said. "Did you understand? Lisa wishes
to be friends with you. She is ready to forgive," he
groped on, blundering, like a man.
"Oh, yes, I understand. You and Lisa are coming to
forgive me to-morrow," she said, smiling.
He looked at her, perplexed and waiting. But she said no
"Well, I must go now. Good-night."
"Good-night, George! "Her bright, smiling eyes followed
him steadily, as he went out.
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