Frances Waldeaux, by Rebecca Harding Davis
Part 2 out of 3
Mrs. Waldeux tapped at Clara's door that evening after
they reached home.
"I came to tell you that I shall leave London early in
the morning," she said.
"You will not wait to see George and his wife?"
"I hope I never shall see them again. No! Not a word!
I will hear no arguments!" She came into the room and
closed the door. There was a certain novel air of
decision and youth in her figure and movements. "I am
going to make a change, Clara," she said. "I have worked
for others long enough. I am going away now, alone. I
will be free. I will live my own life--at last." Her
eyes shone with exultation.
"And---- Where are you going?" stammered Miss Vance,
"I don't know. There is so much--it has all been waiting
so long for me. There are the cathedrals--and the
mountains. Or the Holy Land. Perhaps I may try to write
again. There seems to be a dumb word or two in me.
Don't be angry with me, Clara," throwing her arms about
her cousin, the tears rushing to her eyes. "I may come
back to you and little Lucy some time. But just now I
want to be alone and fancy myself young. I never was
When Lucy stole into her old friend's chamber the next
morning as usual to drink her cup of coffee with her, she
found the door open and the room in disorder, and she was
told that Mrs. Waldeaux had left London at daybreak.
During the year which followed, Mr. Perry was forced to
return to the States, but he made two flying trips across
"the pond," as he called it, in the interests of his
magazine, always running down his prey of notorieties in
that quarter of Europe in which Miss Vance and her
charges chanced to be.
When he came in July he found them in a humble little inn
in Bozen. He looked with contempt at the stone floors,
the clean cell-like chambers, each with its narrow bed,
and blue stone ewer perched on a wooden stool; and he
sniffed with disgust when breakfast was served on a table
set out in the Platz.
"Don't know," he said, "whether I can digest food, eating
out of doors. Myself, I never give in to these foreign
ways. It's time they learned manners from us."
"I have no doubt," said Miss Vance placidly, "that you
can find one of the usual hotels built for rich Americans
in the town. We avoid them. We search out the inns
du pays to see as far behind the scenes as we can. I
don't care to go to those huge houses with mobs of
Chicagoans and New Yorkers; and have the couriers and
portiers turn the flashlights on Europe for me, as if it
were a burlesque show."
"Now, that's just what I like!" said Perry. "I always go
to the houses where the royalties put up. I like to
order better dishes and give bigger tips than they do.
They don't know Jem Perry from Adam, but it's my way of
waving the American flag."
"I am afraid we have no such patriotic motive," said
Clara. "My girls seem to care for nothing now but art.
We have made this little inn our headquarters in the
Tyrol chiefly out of love for the old church yonder."
Mr. Perry glanced contemptuously across the Platz at the
frowning gray building, and sat down with his back to it.
"Art, eh? Well, I've no doubt I could soon catch on to
Art, if I turned my mind that way. It pays, too,--Art.
Not the fellows who paint, but the connoisseurs. There's
Miller from our town. He was a drummer for a candy
firm. Had an eye for color. Well, he buys pictures now
for Americans who want galleries in their houses. He
bought his whole collection for Stout--the great dealer
in hams. Why, Miller can tell the money value within
five dollars, at sight, of any picture in Europe. He's
safe, too. Never invests in pictures that aren't sure to
go up in price. Getting rich! And began as a candy
drummer! No, ma'am! Art's no mystery. I've never taken
it up myself. Europe is sheer pleasure to me. I get the
best out of it. I know where to lodge well, and I can
tell you where the famous plats are cooked, and I have my
coats built by Toole. The house pays me a salary which
justifies me in humoring my little follies," stroking his
red beard complacently.
Lucy's chubby face and steady blue eyes were turned on
him thoughtfully, and presently, when they sauntered down
the windy street together, he talked and she still
silently watched him.
"Miss Precision is weighing him in the balance," said
Jean, laughing, as she poured out more black coffee.
"With all of her soft ways Lucy is shrewd. She knows
quite well why he races across the Atlantic, and why
Prince Wolfburgh has backed away from us and charged on
us again all summer. She is cool. She is measuring poor
Perry's qualifications for a husband now just as she
would materials for a cake. A neat little inventory. So
much energy, so much honest kindness--so much vulgarity.
I couldn't do that. If ever a man wants to marry me,
I'll fly to him or away from him, as quick as the steel
needle does when the magnet touches it."
Miss Vance listened to her attentively. "Jean," she
said, after a pause, "are you sure that it is Lucy whom
the prince wishes to marry?"
"It is not I," said Miss Hassard promptly. "He has
thought of me several times--he has weighed my
qualifications. But the man is in love with Lucy as
honestly as a ploughman could be. Don't you think I've
tough luck?" she said, resting her elbow on the table and
her chin on her palm, her keen gray eyes following Miss
Dunbar and her lover as they loitered under the shadow of
the church. "I am as young as Lucy. I have a better
brain and as big a dot. But her lovers make her
life a burden, and I never have had one. Just because
our noses and chins are made up differently!"
"Oh, my dear!" said Clara anxiously. "I never thought
you cared for that kind of success!"
"I'm only human," Jean laughed. "Of course I'm an
artist. I'm going to paint a great picture some day that
all the world shall go mad about. Of Eve. I'll put all
the power of all women into her. But in the meantime I'd
like to see one man turn pale and pant before me as the
fat little prince does when Lucy snubs him."
"Lucy is very hard to please," complained Miss Vance.
"She snubs Mr. Perry--naturally. But the prince--why
should she not marry the prince?"
"Your generation," said Jean, smiling slyly, "used to
think that an unreasonable whim called love was a good
thing in marriage----"
"But why should she not love the prince? He is honorable
and kind, and quite passable as to looks---- Can there
be any one else?" turning suddenly to Jean.
Miss Hassard looked at her a moment, hesitating. "Your
cousin George used to be Lucy's type of a hero----"
"Why! the man is married!" Miss Vance stood up, her lean
face reddening. "Jean! You surprise me! That kind of
talk--it's indecent! It is that loose American idea of
marriage that ends in hideous divorce cases. But for one
of my girls----"
"It is a very old idea," said Jean calmly.
"David loved another man's wife. Mind you, I don't accuse
Lucy of loving any body, but when the needle has once
touched the magnet it answers to its call ever after."
Miss Vance vouchsafed no answer. She walked away across
the Platz, jerking her bonnet strings into a knot. Jean
was one of the New Women! Her opinions stuck out on
every side like Briareus' hundred elbows! You could not
come near her without being jabbed by them. Such women
were all opinions; there was no softness, no feeling, no
delicacy about them. Skeletons with no flesh! As for
Lucy, she had no fear. If even the child had loved
George, she would have cast out every thought of him
on his wedding day, as a Christian girl should do!
She passed Lucy at that moment. She was leaning against
one of the huge stone lions which crouch in front of the
church, listening to Mr. Perry. If ever a pure soul
looked into the world it was through those limpid eyes!
The Platz was nearly empty. One or two men in blouses
clattered across the cobblestones and going into the dark
church dropped on their knees. The wind was high, and
now and then swept heavy clouds low across the sunlight
Lucy, as Jean had guessed, knew why the man beside her
had crossed the Atlantic, and she had decided last night
to end the matter at once. The tears had stood in her
eyes for pity at the thought of the pain she must give
him. Yet she had put on her new close-fitting coat and
a becoming fur cap, and pulled out the loose hair which
she knew at this moment was blowing about her pink cheeks
in curly wisps in a way that was perfectly maddening.
Clara, seeing the mischief in her eyes as she listened
shyly to Perry, went on satisfied. There was no
abyss of black loss in that girl's life!
Lucy just now was concerned only for Perry. How the poor
man loved her! Why not marry him after all, and put him
out of his pain? She was twenty-four. Most women at
twenty-four had gone through their little tragedy of
love. But she had had no tragedy. She told herself
firmly that there had been no story of love in her life.
There never could be, now. She was too old.
She was tired, too, and very lonely. This man would seat
her on a throne and worship her every day. That would be
"I am ashamed of myself," he was saying, "to pursue you
in this way. You have given me no encouragement, I know.
But whenever I go to New York and bone down to work,
something tells me to come back and try again."
Lucy did not answer, and there was a brief silence.
"Of course I'm a fool,"--prodding the ground with his
stick. "But if a man were in a jail cell and knew that
the sun was shining just outside, he'd keep on
beating at the wall."
"Your life is not a jail cell. It's very comfortable, I
"It has been bare enough. I have had a hard fight to
live at all. I told you that I began as a canal-boy."
She looked at him with quick sympathy. At once she
fancied that she could read old marks of want on his
face. His knuckles were knobbed like a laborer's. He
had had a hard fight! It certainly would be pleasant to
rain down comfort and luxury on the good, plucky fellow!
"Of course that was all long ago," said Perry. "I'm not
ashamed of it. As Judge Baker remarked the other day,
`The acknowledged aristocrats of America, to-day, are its
self-made men.' He ought to know. The Bakers are the
top of the heap in New York. Very exclusive. I've been
intimate there for years. No, Miss Dunbar, I may have
begun as a mule-driver on a canal, but I am choice in my
society. My wife will not find a man or woman in my
circle who is half-cut."
Lucy drew a long breath. To live all day and every day
with this man!
And yet--she was so tired! There was a good deal of
money to manage, and he could do that. He would like a
gay, hospitable house, and so would she, and they would
be kind to the poor--and he was an Episcopalian, too.
There would be no hitch there. Lucy was a zealous High
Why should she not do it? The man was as good as gold at
heart. Jean called him a cad, but the caddishness was
only skin deep.
Mr. Perry watched her, reading her thoughts more keenly
than she guessed.
"One thing I will say in justice to myself," he said.
"You are a rich woman. If you marry me, YOU will know,
if nobody else does, that I am no fortune-hunter. I
shall always be independent of my wife. Every dollar she
owns shall be settled on her before I go with her to the
"Oh, I'm not thinking of the money," said Lucy
"Then you are thinking of me!" He leaned over her. She
felt as if she had been suddenly dragged too close to
a big unpleasant fire. "I know you don't love me," he
panted, "you cold little angel, you! But you do like me?
Eh? just a little bit, Lucy? Marry me. Give me a
chance. I'll bring you to me. If there is a single
spark of love in your heart for me, I'll blow it into a
flame! I can do it, I tell you!" He caught her fiercely
by the shoulder.
Lucy drew back and threw out her hands. "Let me have
time to think!"
"Time? You've had a year!"
"One more day. Come again this evening----"
"This evening? I've come so often!" staring breathlessly
into her face. "It will be no use, I can see that.
Well, as you please. I'll come once more."
The young fellow in his jaunty new clothes shook as if he
had the ague. He had touched her. For one minute she
had been his!
He turned and walked quickly across the Platz.
Lucy, left alone, was full of remorse. She looked down
into her heart; she had forgotten to do it before. No,
not a spark for him to blow into a flame; not a
single warm thought of him!
The girl was ashamed of herself. He might be a cad, but
he was real; his honest love possessed him body and soul.
It was a matter of expediency to her; a thing to debate
with herself, to dally over, with paltry pros and cons.
Miss Vance came hurriedly up the street, an open letter
in her hand. Lucy ran to meet her.
"What is it? You have heard bad news?"
"I suppose we ought not to call it that. It is from
George Waldeaux. They have a son, two months old. He
tells it as a matter for rejoicing."
"Oh, yes," said Lucy feebly.
"They are at Vannes--in Brittany. He has a cough. He
seems to know nobody--to have no friends, and, I suspect,
not much money. He is terribly depressed." Clara folded
the letter thoughtfully. "He asks me to tell his mother
that the baby has come."
"Where is his mother?"
"Why is she not with him?" demanded Lucy angrily.
"Wandering about gathering edelweiss, while he is alone
"He has his wife. You probably do not understand the
case fully," said Clara coldly. "I am going to wire to
his mother now." She turned away and Lucy stood
irresolute, her hand clutching the shaggy head of the
stone beast beside her.
"I can give him money. I'll go to him. He needs me!"
she said aloud. Then her whole body burned with shame.
She--Lucy Dunbar, good proper Lucy, whose conscience hurt
her if she laid her handkerchiefs away awry in her
drawer, nursing a criminal passion for a married man!
She went slowly back to the inn. "He has his wife," she
told herself. "I am nothing to him. I doubt if he would
know me if he met me on the street." She tried to go
back to her easy-going mannerly little thoughts, but
there was something strange and fierce behind them that
would not down.
Jean came presently to the salle. "I have had a letter
too," she said. "The girl who writes came from Pond
City. She was in the same atelier in Paris with
George. She says: `Your friends the Waldeaux have
come to grief by a short cut. They flung money about for
a few months as if they were backed by the Barings. The
Barings might have given their suppers. As for their
studio--there was no untidier jumble of old armor and
brasses and Spanish leather in Paris; and Mme. George
posing in the middle in soiled tea-gowns! But the
suppers suddenly stopped, and the leather and Persian
hangings went to the Jews. I met Lisa one day coming out
of the Vendome, where she had been trying to peddle a
roll of George's sketches to the rich Americans. I asked
her what was wrong, and she laughed and said, "We were
trying to make thirty francs do the work of thirty
thousand. And we have made up our minds that we know no
more of art than house painters. We are in a blind
alley!" Soon after that the baby was born. They went
down to Brittany. I hear that Lisa, since the child
came, has been ill. I tell all this dreary stuff to you
thinking that you may pass it on to their folks.
Somebody ought to go to their relief.'"
"Relief!" exclaimed Miss Vance. "And the money that they
were flinging into the gutter was earned day by day
by his old mother! Every dollar of it! I know that
during the last year she has done without proper clothes
and food to send their allowance to them."
"You forget," said Lucy, "that George Waldeaux was doing
noble work in the world. It was a small thing for his
mother to help him."
"Noble work? His pictures or his sermons, Lucy?"
demanded Miss Vance, with a contemptuous shrug.
Lucy without reply walked out to the inn garden and
seated herself in a shady corner. There Mr. Perry found
her just as the first stroke of the angelus sounded on
the air. Her book lay unopened on her lap.
He walked slowly up to her and stopped, breathing hard,
as if he had been running. "It is evening now. I have
come for my answer, Miss Dunbar," he said, forcing a
"Answer?" Lucy looked up bewildered.
"You have forgotten!"
The blood rushed to her face. She held out her hands.
"Oh, forgive me! I heard bad news. I have been so
"You forgot that I had asked you to be my wife!"
"No, don't say another word, Miss Dunbar. I have had my
answer. I knew you didn't love me, but I did not think
I was so paltry that you would forget that I had offered
to marry you."
Lucy pressed her hands together, looking up at him
miserably without a word. He walked down the path and
leaned on the wall with his back to her. His very back
Presently he turned. "I will bid you goodby," he said,
with an effort at lofty courtesy, "and I will leave my
adieux for your friends with you."
"Are you going--back to the States?" stammered Lucy.
"Yes, I am going back to the States," he replied sternly.
"A man of merit there has his place, regardless of rank.
Jem Perry can hold his head there as high as any beggarly
prince. Farewell, Miss Dunbar."
He strode down the path and disappeared. Lucy shook her
head and cried from sheer wretchedness. She felt
that she had been beaten to-day with many stripes.
Suddenly the bushes beside her rustled. "Forgive me," he
said hoarsely. She looked up and saw his red honest
eyes. "I behaved like a brute. Good-by, Lucy! I never
loved any woman but you, and I never will."
"Stay, stay!" she cried.
He heard her, but he did not come back.
Lucy was silent and dejected for a day or two, being
filled with pity for Mr. Perry's ruined life. But when
she saw his name in a list of outgoing passengers on the
Paris her heart gave a bound of relief. Nothing more
could now be done. That chapter was closed. There had
been no other chapter of moment in her life, she told
herself sternly. Now, all the clouds had cleared away.
It was a new day. She would begin again.
So she put on new clothes, none of which she had ever
worn before, and tied back her curly hair with a fresh
white ribbon, and came down to breakfast singing gayly.
Miss Vance gave her her roll and milk in silence, and
frowning importantly, drew out a letter.
"Lucy, I have just received a communication from Prince
Wolfburgh. He is in Bozen."
"Here!" Lucy started up, glancing around like a chased
Then she sat down again and waited. There was no other
chapter, and the book was so blank!
"His coming is very opportune," she said presently,
"Oh! do YOU think so, my dear? Really! Well, I always
have liked the young man. So simple. So secure of his
social position. The Wolfburghs, I find, go back to the
eleventh century. Mr. Perry had noble traits, but one
never felt quite safe as to his nails or his grammar."
"But the prince--the prince?" cried Jean.
"Oh, yes. Well, he writes--most deferentially. He begs
for the honor of an interview with me this afternoon upon
a subject of the most vital importance. He says,
`regarding you, as I do, in loco parentis to the
hochgeboren Fraulein Dunbar.'"
"Hochgeboren!" said Lucy. "My grandfather was a
saddler. Tell him so, Miss Vance. Tell him the exact
facts. I want no disclosures after----"
"After marriage?" said Jean, rising suddenly. "Then you
"I have not said that I had decided," replied Lucy
Jean laughed. "He will not be scared by the saddler.
Europeans of his order take no account of our American
class distinctions. They look upon us as low-born
parvenues, all alike. They weigh and value us by other
standards than birth."
"I have money, if you mean that, Jean," said Lucy
"I think you had better go away, girls, if you have
finished your dejeuner. He may be here at any moment
now," said Clara, looking anxiously at her watch.
Lucy went to her little chamber and sat down to work at
a monstrous caricature which she was painting of the
church. Jean paced up and down the stone corridor,
looking out of the window into the Platz.
"He has come," she said excitedly, appearing at Lucy's
door. "He went into the church first, to say an ave for
help, poor little man! His fat face is quite pale and
stern. It is a matter of life and death to him. And
it's no more to you than the choosing of a new coat."
Lucy smiled and sketched in a priest on the church
steps. Her hand shook, but Jean could not see that. She
went to the window again with something like an inward
oath at the dolts of commonplace women who had all the
best chances, but was back in a moment, laughing
"Do you know he has on that old brown suit?" She leaned
against the jamb of the door. "If I were a prince, and
came a-wooing, I would have troops of my Jagers, and
trumpets and banners with the arms of my House, and I'd
wear all my decorations. Of course we Americans are
bound to say that rank and royalty are dead things. But
if I had them, I'd galvanize the corpses! If they are
useful as shows, I'd make the show worth seeing. I'd
cover myself with jewels like the old Romanoffs. You
would never see Queen Jean in a slouchy alpaca and
pork-pie hat like Victoria." While her tongue chattered,
her eyes watched Lucy keenly. "You don't hear me! You
are deciding what to do. Why on earth should you
hesitate? He is a gentleman--he loves you!" and then to
Lucy's relief she suddenly threw on her hat and rushed
off for a walk.
Miss Dunbar painted the priest's robe yellow, in her
agitation. But the agitation was not deep. There really
seemed no reason why she should hesitate. He would be
kind; he was well-bred and agreeable. A princess? She
had a vague idea of a glorified region of ancestral
castles and palaces in which dukes and royalties dwelt
apart and discoursed of high matters. She would be one
The other day there seemed to be no reason why she should
not marry Mr. Perry. In marriage then one must only
consider the suitability of the man? There was nothing
else to consider----
With a queer, hunted look in her soft eyes she worked on,
daubing on paint liberally.
Meanwhile, in the little salle below, Miss Vance sat
stiffly erect, while the prince talked in his shrill
falsetto. Although he set forth his affection for the
engelreine Madchen as simply as the little German baker
in Weir (whom he certainly did resemble) might have done,
she could find, in her agitation, no fitting words in
which to answer him. That she, Clara Vance, should be
the arbiter in a princely alliance! At last she managed
to ask whether Miss Dunbar had given him any
encouragement on which to found his claim.
"Ah, Fraulein Vance!" he cried, laughing. "The hare does
not call to the hounds! But I have no fear. She speaks
to me in other ways than by words.
"`Mein Herz und seine Augen
Verstehen sich gar so gut!'
You know the old song. Ah, ja! I understand what she
would say--here!" touching his heart.
He paced up and down, smiling to himself. Suddenly he
drew up before her, tossing his hands out as if to throw
away some pleasant dream. "I have come to you, gracious
lady, as I would to the mother of Miss Dunbar. I show to
you the heart! But before I address her it is necessary
that I shall consult her guardian with regard to
It was precisely, Clara said afterward, as if the baker
from Weir had stopped singing, and presented his bill.
"Business?" she gasped. "Oh, I see! Settlements. We
don't have such things in the States. But I quite
understand all those European social traits. I have
lived abroad for years. I----"
"Who is Miss Dunbar's guardian?" the prince demanded
alertly. He sat down by the table and took out a
notebook and papers.
"But--settlements? Is not that a little premature?" she
ventured. "She has not accepted you."
"HE may not accept my financial proposals. It is
business, you see. The gentle ladies, even die
Amerikaner, do not comprehend business. It is not, you
perceive, dear lady, the same when the head of the House
of Wolfburgh allies himself with a hochgeboren
Fraulein as when the tailors marry----"
"Nor bakers. I see," stammered Clara.
"Miss Dunbar's properties are valuable. Her estate in
Del-aware," glancing at his notebook, "is larger than
some of our German kingdoms. Her investments in railway
and mining securities, if put on the market, should be
worth a million of florins. These are solid matters, and
must be dealt with carefully."
"But, good gracious, Prince Wolfburgh! cried Miss Vance,
"how did you find out about Lucy's investments?"
He looked at her in amazement. "Meine gnadigste
Fraulein! It is not possible that you supposed that in
such a matter as this men leap into the dark--the men of
rank, princes, counts, English barons, who marry the
American mees? That they do not know for what they
exchange their--all that they give? I will tell you,"
with a condescending smile. "There are agents in the
States--in New York--in Chicago--in--how do you name it?
St. Sanata. They furnish exact information as to the
dot of the lady who will, perhaps, marry here. Oh, no!
We do not leap into the dark!"
"So I perceive," said Clara dryly. "And may I inquire,
your Highness, what financial arrangement you propose, in
case she becomes your wife?"
"Assuredly." He hastily unfolded a large paper. "This
must be accepted by her guardian before the betrothal can
take place. I will translate, in brief. The whole
estate passes to me, and is secured to me in case of my
wife's death without issue. I inserted that clause," he
said, looking up, smiling, for approval, "because
American Frauleins are so fragile--not like our
women. I will, of course, if we have issue, try to
preserve the real estate for my heir, and the remaining
property for my other children."
"It seems to me that a good deal is taken for granted
there," said Clara, whose cheeks were very hot. "And
where does Miss Dunbar come into this arrangement? Is
she not to have any money at all?"
"My widow, should I die first, will be paid an annuity
from my estate. But while Mees Lucy is my wife, _I_ will
buy all that she needs. I will delight to dress her, to
feed her well. With discretion, of course. For there
are many channels into which my income must flow.
But I will not be a niggardly husband to her! No, no!"
cried the little man in a glow.
"That is very kind of you. But she will not have any of
her own money to spend? In her own purse? To fling into
the gutter if she chooses?"
The prince laughed gayly. "How American you are,
gracious lady! A German wife does not ask for her `own
purse.' My wife will cease to be American; she will be
German," patting his soft hands ecstatically. "But
you have not told me the name of her guardian?"
"Lucy," said Miss Vance reluctantly, "is of age. She has
full control of her property. A Trust Company manages it
for her, but they have no authority to stop her if she
chooses to--throw it into the gutter."
The prince looked up sharply. Could this be a trick?
But if it were, the agent would find out for him. He
"To have the sole disposal of her own hand and of her
fortune? That seems strange to us," he said, smiling.
"But I have your consent, most dear lady, to win both, if
"Oh, yes, prince. If you can."
He took her hand and bowed profoundly over it, but no
courtly grace nor words could bring back Clara's awe of
him. She had a vague impression that the Weir baker had
been wrangling with her about his bill.
"Your Highness has asked a good many questions," she
said. "May I put one to you? Did you inquire concerning
Miss Hassard's dot, also?"
"Ah, certainly! Why not? It is very large. I have
spoken of it to my cousin Count Odo. But the
drawback--her father still lives. He may marry again.
Her dot depends upon his good pleasure. Whereas Miss
Dunbar is an orphan; and besides that, she is so dear to
me!" clasping his hands, his face red with fervor. "So
And she knew that he honestly meant it.
When Miss Vance came into the corridor after she had
reported this interview to Lucy, Jean swept her into her
room and dragged the whole story from her. In fact the
poor anxious lady was glad to submit it to the girl's
shrewd hard sense.
"You told him that she was the uncontrolled mistress of
"It is the truth. I had to tell him the truth, my dear."
"Yes, I suppose so, for he would have found it out
"I do feel," panted Clara, "as if I had put a dove into
the claws of a vulture."
"Not at all," said Jean promptly. "The little man has a
heart, but an empty pocket. Was Lucy interested most in
his love or his bargaining?"
"In neither, I think. She just went on painting, and
Oh, she will decide the matter in time! She will
bring her little intellect to bear on it as if it were a
picnic for her Sunday-school class!" Jean stood silent
a while. "Miss Vance," she said suddenly, "let me
engineer this affair for a few days. I can help you."
"What do you propose to do, Jean?"
"To leave Bozen to-morrow. For Munich."
"But the Wolfburghs have a palace or--something in
Munich. Is it quite delicate for us----"
"It is quite rational. Let us see what the something is.
So far in our dealings with principalities and powers, we
have had a stout little man--with no background."
The prince was startled when he was told of this sudden
journey, but declared that he would follow them
Lucy, as usual, asked no questions, but calmly packed her
As the little train, the next day, lumbered through the
valley of the Eisach, she sat in her corner, reading a
newspaper. Miss Vance dozed, or woke with a start to
lecture on points of historic interest.
"Why don't you look, Lucy? That monastery was a Roman
fortress in the third century. And you are missing
the color effects of the vineyards."
"I can look now. I have finished my paper." Lucy folded
it neatly and replaced it in her bag. "I have read the
Delaware State Sun," she said triumphantly, "regularly,
every week since we left home. When I go back I shall be
only seven days behind with the Wilmington news."
Jean glanced at her contemptuously. "Look at that great
castle on yonder mountain," she said. "You could lodge
a village inside of the ramparts. Do you think Wolfburgh
Schloss is like that? The prince told us last night,"
turning to Miss Vance, "the old legends about his castle.
The first Wolfburgh was a Titan about the time of Noah,
and married a human wife, and with his hands tore open
the mountain for rocks to lay the foundation of his
house. According to his story there were no end of
giants and trolls and kings concerned in the building of
it," she went on, furtively watching the deepening pink
in Lucy's cheek. "The Wolfburgh of Charlemagne's day was
besieged by him, and another entertained St. Louis and
all his crusaders within the walls." Jean's voice rose shrilly
and her eyes glowed. She leaned forward, looking eagerly
across the fields. "The prince told us that the Schloss
of his race had for centuries been one of the great
fortresses of Christendom. And here it is! Now we shall
see--we shall see!"
The car stopped. The guard opened the door and Miss
Vance and Lucy suddenly found themselves swept by Jean on
to the platform, while the little train rumbled on down
the valley. Miss Vance cried out in dismay.
"Never mind. There will be another train in a half
hour," said Jean. "Here is the Schloss," pointing to a
pepper-box tower neatly whitewashed, which rose out of a
huge mass of broken stone. "And here, I suppose, is the
capital of the kingdom over which the Wolfburghs now
reign feudal lords?"
Clara found herself against her will looking curiously at
the forge, the dirty shop, the tiny bier-halle, and a
half a dozen huts, out of which swarmed a few old women
"Where are the men of this village?" Jean demanded of the
station master, a stout old man with a pipe in his mouth.
"Gone to America, for the most part," he said, with a
Lucy came up hastily, an angry glitter in her soft eyes.
"You have no right to make me play the spy in this way!"
she said haughtily, and going into the little station sat
down with her back to the door.
"You? It is I--I----" muttered Jean breathlessly. "And
who lives in the tower, my good man? It is not big
enough for a dozen hens." She slipped a florin into his
"Four of the noble ladies live there. The princesses.
The gracious sisters of Furst Hugo. There come two of
A couple of lean, wrinkled women dressed in soiled merino
gowns and huge black aprons, their hair bristling in curl
papers, crossed the road, peering curiously at the
"They came to look at you, Fraulein," said the man,
chuckling. "Strangers do not stop at Wolfburgh twice in
"And what do the noble ladies do all the year?"
"Jean, Jean!" remonstrated Clara.
"Oh, Miss Vance! This is life and death to some of us!
What do they do?"
"Do?" said the man, staring. "What shall any gracious
lady do? They cook and brew, and crochet lace and----"
"Are there any more princesses--sisters of Furst Hugo?"
"Two more. They live in Munich. No, none of them are
married. Because," he added zealously, "there are no men
as high-born as our gracious ladies, so they cannot
"No doubt that accounts for it," said Jean. "Six. These
are `the channels into which the income will flow,' hey?"
She gave him more money, and marching into the station
caught Lucy by the shoulder, shaking her passionately.
"Do you think any American girl could stand that? How
would YOU like to be caged up in that ridiculous tower
to cook and crochet and brew beer and watch the train go
by for recreation? The year round--the year round?"
Lucy rose quietly. "The train is coming now," she said.
"Calm yourself, Jean. YOU will not have to live in the
Jean laughed. When they were seated in the car
again, she looked wistfully out at the heaps of ruins.
"It must have been a mighty fortress once," she said.
"Those stones were hewed before Charlemagne's time. And
a great castle could easily be built with them now," she
The travellers entered Munich at noon. The great
generous city lay tranquil and smiling in the frosty
"I have secured apartments," said Miss Vance, "used
hitherto by royalties or American millionaires. My girl
must be properly framed when a prince comes a-wooing."
Lucy smiled. But her usual warm color faded as they
drove through the streets. Jean, however, was gay and
"Ah, the dear splendid town!" she cried. "It always
seems to give us a royal welcome. Nothing is changed!
There is the music in the Kellers, and there go the
same Bavarian officers with their swagger and saucy blue
eyes. They are the handsomest men in Europe! And here
is the Munchen-kindl laughing at us, and the same
crowds are going to the Pinakothek! What do you want
more? Beer and splendor and fun and art! What a home it
will be for you, Lucy!"
Lucy's cold silence did not check Jean's affectionate
zeal. She anxiously searched among the stately old
buildings, which they passed, for the Wolfburgh palace.
"It will not be in these commonplace Haussmannized
streets," she said. "It is in some old corner; it has a
vast, mysterious, feudal air, I fancy. You will hold a
little court in it, and sometimes let a poor American
artist from Pond City in to hang on the edge of the crowd
and stare at the haute noblesse."
"Don't be absurd, Jean," said Miss Vance.
"I am quite serious. I think an American girl like Lucy,
with her beauty and her money, will be welcomed by these
German nobles as a white swan among ducks. She ought to
take her place and hold it." Jean's black eyes snapped
and the blood flamed up her cheeks. "If I were she I'd
make my money tell! I'd buy poor King Ludwig's residence
at Binderhof, with the cascades and jewelled peacocks and
fairy grottos, for my country seat. The Bavarian
nobility are a beggarly lot. If they knew that Lucy and
her millions were coming to town in this cab, they'd blow
their trumpets for joy. `Wave, Munich, all thy
banners wave!'" Lucy's impatient shrug silenced
her, but she was preoccupied and excited throughout the
day. Miss Vance watched her curiously. Could it be that
she had heard of the prince's plan of marrying her to his
cousin, and that she was building these air castles for
A day or two sufficed to make Miss Vance's cheery
apartments the rendezvous of troops of Americans of all
kinds: from the rich lounger, bored by the sight of
pictures, which he did not understand, and courts which
he could not enter, to the half-starved, eager-eyed art
students, who smoked, and drank beer, and chattered in
gutturals, hoping to pass for Germans.
There were plenty of idle young New Yorkers and
Bostonians too, hovering round Lucy and Jean,
overweighted by their faultless London coats and trousers
and fluent French. But they deceived nobody; they all
had that nimble brain, and that unconscious swagger of
importance and success which stamps the American in every
country. Prince Hugo, in his old brown suit, came and
went quietly among them.
"The genuine article!" Jean declared loudly. "There
is something royal in his hospitality! He lays all
Munich at Lucy's feet, as if it were his own estate, and
the museums and palaces were the furniture of his house.
That homely simplicity of his is tremendously fine, if
she could understand it!"
The homely genuineness had its effect even upon Lucy.
The carriage which he brought to drive them to Isar-anen
was scaly with age, but the crest upon it was the noblest
in Bavaria; in the cabinet of portraits of ancient
beauties in the royal palace he showed her indifferently
two or three of his aunts and grandmothers, and in the
historical picture of the anointing of the great
Charlemagne, one of his ancestors, stout and good-humored
as Hugo himself, supported the emperor.
"The pudgy little man," said Jean one day, somehow
belongs to the old world of knights and
crusaders--Sintram and his companions. He will make it
all real to Lucy when she marries him. He is like Ali
Baba, standing at the shut door of the cave full of
jewels and treasures with the key in his hand."
"Those Arabian Night stories are simply silly," said Lucy
severely. "I am astonished that any woman in this
age of the world should read that kind of trash."
"But the prince's cave?" persisted Jean. "When are we to
look into it? I want to be sure of the treasures inside.
When are we to go to his palace? When will his sisters
ask us to dinner?"
Miss Vance looked anxious. "That is a question of great
importance," she said. "The princesses have invited me
through their brother to call. It is of course etiquette
here for the stranger to call first, but I don't wish to
compromise Lucy by making advances."
There was a moment's silence, then Lucy said, blushing
and faltering a little, "It would be better perhaps to
call, and not prejudice them, by any discourtesy, against
us. The prince is very kind."
"So! The wind is in that quarter?" Jean said, with a
She jumped up and went to her own room. She was in a
rage at herself. Why had she not run away to Paris
months ago and begun her great picture of the World's
mother, Eve? There was a career for her! And
thinking--perhaps of Eve--she cried hot salt tears.
A week passed, but the question of the first call was not
yet settled. It required as much diplomacy as an
international difficulty. Furst Hugo represented the
princesses as "burning with impatience to behold the
engelreine Madchen whom they hoped to embrace as a
sister," but no visible sign of their ardor reached Miss
On Monday Jean went to spend the day with some of her
artist friends, but at noon she dashed into the room
where Clara and Lucy sat sewing, her dark face blotched
red, and her voice stuttering with excitement.
"I have seen into the cave!" she shouted. I have got at
the truth! It's a rather stagy throne, the Wolfburghs!
"What is the matter with you?" said Miss Vance.
"Nothing is the matter with ME. It is Lucy's tragedy.
I've seen the magnificent ancient palace of the
Wolfburghs. It is a flat! In the very house where
I went to-day. The third story flat just under the
attics where the poor Joneses daub portraits. I passed
the open doors and I saw the shabby old tables and chairs
and the princesses--two fat old women in frowzy wrappers,
and their hair in papers, eating that soup of pork and
cabbages and raisins--the air was thick with the smell!
And that is not the worst!"
"Take breath, Jean," said Lucy calmly.
"The prince himself--the Joneses told me, there can be no
doubt--the prince makes soap for a living! No wonder you
turn pale, Miss Vance. Soap! He is the silent partner
in the firm of Woertz und Zimmer, and it is not a paying
Jean did not wait for an answer, but walked up and down
the room, laughing angrily to herself. "Yes, soap! He
cannot sneer at Lucy's ancestral saddles, now. Nor my
father's saws! His rank is the only thing he has to give
for Lucy's millions, and now she knows what it is worth!"
Lucy rose and, picking up her work basket, walked quietly
out of the room. Jean flashed an indignant glance after
"She might have told me that he gave himself! Surely the
man counts for something! Anyhow, rank like his is not
smirched by poverty or trade. Bismarck himself brews
"Your temper is contradictory to-day," said Clara coldly.
"Did you know," she said presently, "that the princesses
will be at the Countess von Amte's to-morrow?"
"Then we shall meet them!" cried Jean. "Then something
will be settled."
Lucy locked the door of her chamber after her.
She found much comfort in the tiny bare room with its
white walls and blue stove, and the table where lay her
worn Bible and a picture of her old home. The room
seemed a warm home to her now. Above the wall she had
hung photographs of the great Madonnas, and lately she
had placed one of Frances Waldeaux among them. That was
the face on which she looked last at night. When Clara
had noticed it, Lucy had said, "I am as fond of the dear
lady as if she were my own mother."
She sat down before it now, and taking out her sewing
began to work, glancing up at it, half smiling as to
a friend who talked to her. She thought of Furst Hugo
boiling soap, with a gentle pity, and of Jean with hot
disdain. What had Jean to do with it? The prince was
her own lover, as her gloves were her own.
But indeed, the prince and love were but shadows on the
far sky line to the little girl; the real things were her
work and her Bible, and George's mother talking to her.
She often traced remembered expressions on Mrs.
Waldeaux's face; the gayety, the sympathy, a strange
foreboding in the eyes. Finer meanings, surely, than any
in the features of these immortal insipid Madonnas!
Sometimes Lucy could not decide whether she had seen
these meanings on Frances Waldeaux's face, or on her
She sewed until late in the afternoon. There came a tap
at the door. She opened it, and there stood Mrs.
Waldeaux, wrapped in a heavy cloak. Lucy jumped at her,
trembling, and hugged her.
"Oh, come in! Come in!" she cried shrilly. "I have just
been thinking of you and talking to you!"
Frances laughed, bewildered. "Oh, it is Miss
Dunbar? The man sent me here by mistake to wait. Miss
Vance is out, he said."
"Yes, I suppose so. But I--I am here." Lucy threw her
arms around her again, laying her head down on her
shoulder. She felt as if something that she had waited
for a long time was coming to her. "Sit by the stove.
Your hands are like ice," she said.
"Yes, I am usually cold now; I don't know why."
Lucy then saw a curious change in her face. The fine
meanings were not in it now. It was fatter--coarser; the
hair was dead, the eyes moved sluggishly, like the glass
eyes of a doll.
"You are always cold? Your blood is thin, perhaps. You
are overtired, dear. Have you travelled much?"
"Oh, yes! all of the time. I have seen whole tracts of
pictures, and no end of palaces and
hotels--hotels--hotels!" Frances said, awakening to the
necessity of being talkative and vivacious with the young
girl. She threw off her cloak. There was a rip in the
fur, and the dirty lining hung out. Lucy shuddered.
Mrs. Waldeaux's blood must have turned to water, or she
would never have permitted that!
"You must rest now. I will take care of you," she said,
with a little nod of authority. Frances looked at her
perplexed. Why should this pretty creature mother her
with such tenderness?
Oh! It was the girl that George should have married!
She glanced at the white room with its dainty bibelots,
the Bible, the Madonnas, watching, benign. Poor little
nun, waiting for the love that never could come to her!
"I am glad you are here, my child. You can tell me what
I want to know. I have not an hour to spare. I am going
to my son--to George. Do you know where he is?"
"At Vannes, in Brittany."
"Brittany--that is a long way." Frances rose
uncertainly. "I hoped he was near. I was in a Russian
village, and Clara's letter was long in finding me. When
I got it, I travelled night and day. I somehow thought
I should meet him on the way. I fancied he would come to
Lucy's blue eyes watched her keenly a moment. Then she
rang the bell.
"You must eat, first of all," she said.
"No, I am not hungry. Vannes, you said? I must go now.
I haven't an hour."
"You have two, exactly. You'll take the express at
eight. Oh, I'm never mistaken about a train. Here is
the coffee. Now, I'll make you a nice sandwich."
Frances was faint with hunger. As she ate, she watched
the pretty matter-of-fact little girl, and laughed with
delight. When had she found any thing so wholesome? It
was a year, too, since she had seen any one who knew
George. Naturally, she began to empty her heart, which
was full of him, to Lucy.
"I have not spoken English for months," she said, smiling
over her coffee. "It is a relief! And you are a friend
of my son's, too?"
"No. A mere acquaintance," said Lucy, with reserve.
"No one could even see George and not understand how
different he is from other men."
"Oh! altogether different!" said Lucy. "Yes, you
understand. And there was that future before
him--when his trouble came. Oh, I've thought of it, and
thought of it, until my head is tired! He fell under
that woman's influence, you see. It was like mesmerism,
or the voodoo curse that the negroes talk of. It came on
me too. Why, there was a time when I despised him.
George!" Her eyes grew full of horror. "I left him, to
live my own life. He has staggered under his burden
alone, and I could have rid him of it. Now there are two
"Two of them? " said Lucy curiously.
"There is a baby--Pauline Felix's grandson. I beg your
pardon, my child, I ought not to have named her. She is
not a person whom you should ever hear of. He has them
both,--George. He has that weight to carry." She stood
up. "That is why I am going to him. It must be taken
"You mean--a divorce?"
"I don't know--I can't think clearly. But God does such
queer things! There are millions of men in the world,
and this curse falls on--George!"
Lucy put her hands on the older woman's arms and seated
her. "Mrs. Waldeaux," she said, with decision, "you
need sleep, or you would not talk in that way. Lisa is
not a curse. Nor a voodoo witch. She came to your son
instead of to any other man--because he chose her out
from all other women. He had seen them." She held her
curly head erect. "As he did choose her, he should make
the best of her."
Frances looked at her as one awakened out of a dream.
"You talk sensibly, child. Perhaps you are right. But
I must go. Ring for a cab, please. No, I will wait in
the station. Clara would argue and lecture. I could not
stand that to-night," with her old comical shrug.
Lucy's entreaties were vain.
But as the train rushed through the valley of the Isar
that night, Frances looked forward into the darkness with
a nameless terror. "That child was so healthy and sane,"
she said, "I wish I had stayed with her longer."
Prince Hugo had made no secret of his intentions with
regard to Miss Dunbar, so that when it was known that his
sisters and the rich American Mees would at last meet at
the Countess von Amte's there was a flutter of curiosity
in the exclusive circle of Munich. The countess herself
called twice on Clara that day, so great was her triumph
that this social event would occur at her house.
She asked boldly "Which of Miss Dunbar's marvellous
Parisian confections will she wear? It is so important
for her future happiness that the princesses should be
favorably impressed! Aber, lieber Gott!" she shrieked,
"don't let her speak French! Not a word! That would be
ruin! They are all patriotism!" She hurried away, and
ran back to say that the sun was shining as it had not
done for days.
"She thinks nature itself is agog to see how the
princesses receive Lucy," said Miss Vance
indignantly. "One would suppose that the child was on
"So she is. Me, too," said Jean, wistfully regarding the
bebe waist of the gown which Doucet had just sent her.
"I must go as an ingenue. I don't play the part well!"
"No, you do not," said Clara.
Miss Vance tapped at Lucy's door as she went down, and
found her working at her embroidery. "You must lie down
for an hour, my dear," she said, "and be fresh and rosy
for this evening."
"I am not going. I must finish these pinks. I have just
sent a note of apology to the countess."
"Not going!" Clara gasped, dismayed. Then she laughed
with triumph. "The princesses and all the Herrschaft of
Munich will be there to pass judgment on the bride, and
the bride will be sitting at home finishing her pinks!
"I am no bride!" Lucy rose, stuck her needle carefully in
its place, and came closer to Miss Vance. "I have made
up my mind," she said earnestly. "I shall never marry.
My life now is quiet and clean. I'm not at all sure
that it would be either if I were the Princess
Clara stroked her hair fondly. "Your decision is sudden,
my dear," she faltered, at last.
"Yes. There was something last night. It showed me what
I was doing. To marry a man just because he is good and
kind, that is--vile!" The tears rushed to her eyes.
There was a short silence.
"Don't look so aghast, dear Miss Vance," said Lucy
cheerfully. "Go now and dress to meet the Herrschaft."
"And what will you do, child?"
"I really must finish these pinks to-night." She took up
her work. Her chin trembled a little. "We won't speak
of this again, please," she said. "I never shall be a
bride or a wife or mother. I will have a quiet,
independent life--like yours."
The sunshine fell on the girl's grave, uplifted face, on
the white walls, the blue stove, and the calm, watching
Madonnas. Clara, as Mrs. Waldeaux had done, thought of
a nun in her cell to whom love could only be a sacred
She smiled back at Lucy, bade her goodnight, and closed
"Like mine?" she said, as she went down the corridor.
"Well, it is a comfortable, quiet life. But empty----"
And she laid her hand suddenly across her thin breast.
Jean listened in silence when Clara told her briefly that
Lucy was not going.
"She is very shrewd," she said presently. "She means to
treat them de haut en bas from the outset. It is
Jean, when she entered the countess's salon, with
downcast eyes, draped in filmy lace without a jewel or
flower, was shy innocence in person. Furst Hugo stood
near the hostess, with two stout women in shabby gowns
and magnificent jewels.
"The frocks they made themselves, and the emeralds are
heirlooms," Jean muttered to Clara, without lifting her
"Miss Dunbar is not coming?" exclaimed the prince.
"No," said Miss Vance.
"The Fraulein is ill?" demanded one of his sisters.
"No," Clara said, again smiling.
"WE expected to meet her," the younger princess said.
"It is most singular----"
"She has sent her apology to the countess," said Clara
gently, and passed on.
But her little triumph was short lived.
A famous professional soprano appeared in a
white-ribboned enclosure at the end of the salon, and
the guests were rapidly arranged according to their rank
to listen. Clara and Jean stood until every man and
woman were comfortably seated, when they were placed in
the back row.
When the music was over supper was announced, and the
same ceremony was observed. The Highnessess, the
hochwohlgeboren privy councillors, the hochgeboren
secretaries, even the untitled Herren who held some petty
office, were ushered with profound deference to their
seats at the long table, while Clara stood waiting.
Jean's eyes still drooped meekly, but even her lips were
"How can you look so placid?" she whispered. "It is a
deliberate insult to your gray hairs."
"No. It is the custom of the country. It does not hurt
They were led at the moment to the lowest seats. Jean
shot one vindictive glance around the table.
"You have more wit and breeding than any of them!" she
said. "And as for me, this lace I wear would buy any of
their rickety old palaces."
"They have something which we cannot buy," said Miss
Vance gravely. "I never understood before how actual a
thing rank is here."
"Cannot it be bought? I am going to look into that when
this huge feed is over," Miss Hassard said to herself.
Late in the evening she danced with Count Odo, and
prattled to him in a childish, frank fashion which he
found very charming.
"Your rules of precedence are very disagreeable!" she
pouted. "Especially when one sits at the foot of the
table and is served last."
"They must seem queer to you," he said, laughing, "but
they are inflexible as iron."
"But they will bend for Miss Dunbar, if she makes up her
mind to marry your cousin?"she asked, looking up
into his face like an innocent child.
"No. Hugo makes a serious sacrifice in marrying a woman
of no birth," he said. "He must give up his place and
title as head of the family. She will not be received at
court nor in certain houses; she must always remain out-
side of much of his social life."
He led her back to Miss Vance. She seemed to be struck
dumb, and even forgot to smile when he bowed low and
thanked her for the dance.
"Let us go home," she whispered to Clara. "The American
girl is a fool who marries one of these men!"
When Miss Vance's carriage reached her hotel, she found
Prince Hugo's coupe before the door.
"He has come to see Lucy, alone!" she said indignantly,
as she hurried up the steps. "He has no right to annoy
She met him coming out of the long salle. The little
man walked nervously, fingering his sword hilt. He could
not control his voice when he tried to speak naturally.
"Yes, gracious lady, I am guilty. It was
unpardonable to come when I knew the chaperone was gone.
But--ach! I could not wait!" throwing out both hands
to her. "I have waited so long! I knew when she did not
come to meet my sisters to-night she had resolved against
me, but I could not sleep uncertain. So I break all the
laws, and come!"
"You have seen her, then? She has told you?"
He nodded without speaking. His round face was red, and
something like tears stood in his eyes.
He waited irresolute a moment, and then threw up his
"Soh! It is over! I shall not whine! You have been
very good to me," he said earnestly, taking Clara's hand.
"This is the first great trouble in my life. I have
loved her very dearly. I decided to make great
sacrifices for her. But I am not to have her--never."
"I am so sorry for you, prince." Clara squeezed his hand
"Nor her dot. That would have been so comfortable for
me," he said simply.
Clara hid a smile, and bade him an affectionate
As he passed into the outer salle a childish figure in
creamy lace rose before him, and a soft hand was held
out. "I know what has happened!" she whispered
passionately. "She has treated you scandalously! She
cannot appreciate YOU!"
Prince Hugo stuttered and coughed and almost kissed the
little hand which lay so trustingly in his. He found
himself safely outside at last, and drove away, wretched
to the soul.
But below his wretchedness something whispered: "SHE
appreciates me, and her dot is quite as large."
George Waldeaux hummed a tune gayly as he climbed the
winding maze of streets in Vannes, one cloudy afternoon,
"It is impertinent to be modern Americans in this old
town," he said. "We might play that we were jongleurs,
and that it was still mediaeval times. I am sure the
gray walls yonder and the fortress houses in this street
have not changed in ages."
"Neither have the smells, apparently," said Lisa grimly.
"Wrap this scarf about your throat, George. You coughed
George tied up his throat. "Coughed, did I?" he said
anxiously. He had had a cold last winter, and his wife
with her poultices and fright had convinced him that he
was a confirmed invalid. The coming of her baby had
given to the woman a motherly feeling toward all of the
world, even to her husband.
"Look at these women," he said, going on with his fancy
presently. "I am sure that they were here wearing
these black gowns and huge red aprons in the twelfth
century. What is this?" he said, stopping abruptly, to
a boy of six who was digging mud at the foot of an
ancient ivy-covered tower.
"C'est le tour du Connetable," the child lisped. "Et
v'la, monsieur!" pointing to a filthy pen with a gate of
black oak; "v'la le donjon de Clisson!"
"Who was Clisson?" said Lisa impatiently.
"A live man to Froissart--and to this boy," said George,
laughing. "I told you that we had gone back seven
centuries. This fog comes in from the Morbihan sea where
Arthur and his knights went sailing to find the Holy
Greal. They have not come back. And south yonder is the
country of the Druids. I will take you to-morrow and
show you twenty thousand of their menhirs, and then we
will sail away to an island where there is an altar that
the serpent worshippers built ages before Christ."
Lisa laughed. He was not often in this playful mood.
She panted as she toiled up the dark little street, a
step behind him, but he did not think of giving her his
arm. He had grown accustomed to regard himself as
the invalid now, and the one who needed care.
"I am going for letters," he called back, diving into a
dingy alley. The baby and its bonne were near Lisa.
The child never was out of her sight for, a moment. She
waited, standing a little apart from Colette to watch
whether the passers-by would notice the baby. When one
or two of the gloomy and stolid women who hurried past in
their wooden sabots clicked their fingers to it, she
could not help smiling gayly and bidding them good-day.
The fog was stifling. As she waited she gave a tired
gasp. Colette ran to her. "Madame is going to be ill!"
"No, no! Don't frighten monsieur."
George came out of the gate at the moment.
"Going to faint again, Lisa?" he said, with an annoyed
glance around the street. "Your attacks do choose the
most malapropos times----"
"Oh, dear no, George! I am quite well quite." She
walked beside him with an airy step, laughing gayly
now and then, but George's frown deepened.
"I don't understand these seizures at all," he said.
"You seem to be in sound physical condition."
"Oh, all women have queer turns, George."
"Did you consult D'Abri, as I told you to do, in Paris?"
"Yes, yes! Now let us talk no more about it. I have had
these--symptoms since I was a child."
"You never told me of them before we were married," he
Lisa scowled darkly at him, but she glanced at the baby
and her mouth closed. Little Jacques should never hear
her rage nor swear.
From an overhanging gable at the street corner looked
down a roughly hewn stone Madonna. The arms of the Holy
Child were outstretched to bless. Lisa paused before it,
crossing herself. A strange joy filled her heart.
"I too am a mother! I too!" she said. She hurried after
George and clung to his arm as they went home.
"Was there any letter?" she asked.
"Only one from Munich--Miss Vance. I haven't opened it."
"I thought your mother would write. She must have heard
about the boy!"
George's face grew dark. "No, she'll not write. Nor
"You wish for her every day, George?" She looked at him
"Yes, I do. She and I were comrades to a queer degree.
I long for something hearty and homelike again. See
here, Lisa. I'm going home before my boy begins to talk.
I mean he shall grow up under wholesome American
"Not foreign," she repeated gravely. She was silent a
while. "I have thought much of it all lately," she said
at last. "It will be wholesome for Jacques on your farm.
Horses--dogs---- Your mother will love him. She can't
help it. She--I acted like a beast to that woman,
George. I'll say that. She hit me hard. But she has
good traits. She is not unlike my own mother."
George said nothing. God forbid that he should tell her,
even by a look, that she and her mother were of a caste
different from his own.
But he was bored to the soul by the difference; he was
tired of her ignorances, which she showed every minute,
of her ghastly, unclean knowledges--which she never
They came into the courtyard of the Chateau de la Motte,
the ancient castle of the Breton dukes, which is now an
inn. The red sunset flamed up behind the sad little town
and its gray old houses and spires massed on the hill,
and the black river creeping by. George's eyes kindled
at the sombre picture.
"In this very court," he said, "Constance stood when she
summoned the States of Brittany to save her boy Arthur
from King John."
"Oh, yes, you have read of it to me in your Shakespeare.
It is one of his unpleasant stories. Come, Bebe. It
As she climbed the stone stairway with the child, Colette
lingered to gossip with the portier. "Poor lady! You
will adore her! She is one of us. But she makes of that
bete Anglais and the ugly child, saints and gods!"
When George presently came up to their bare little room,
Lisa was singing softly, as she rocked Jacques to sleep.
"Can't you sing the boy something a bit more
cheerful?" he said. "You used to know some jolly catches
from the music halls."
"Catches for HIM?" with a frightened look at the
child's shut eyes.
"The `Adeste Fideles' is moral, but it is not a merry
air. You sing it morning, noon, and night," he grumbled.
"Yes," she whispered, laying the child in its crib. "One
never knows how much HE understands, and he may
remember, I thought. Some day when he is a great boy, he
may hear it and he'll think, `My mother sang that hymn.
She must have been a good woman!'"
"Nonsense, Lisa," said George kindly. "You'll teach him
every day, while he is growing to be a great boy, that
you are a good woman."
She said nothing, but stood on the other side of the crib
looking at him.
"Well, what is it?" said George uneasily. "You look at me
as if somebody were dragging you away from me."
She laughed. "What ridiculous fancies you have!" She
came behind him and, drawing his head back, kissed him on
the forehead. "Oh, you poor, foolish boy!" she said.
Lisa sat down to her work, which was the making of
garments for Jacques out of her own gowns. She was an
expert needlewoman, and had already a pile of fantastic
kilts of cloth and velvet.
"Enough to last until he is ten years old," George said
contemptuously. "And you will not leave a gown for
"There will be all I shall need," she said.
He turned up the lamp and opened Clara's letter.
Lisa's needle flew through the red and yellow silk. It
was pleasant work; she was doing it skilfully. The fire
warmed her thin blood. She could hear the baby's
regular, soft breathing as it slept. A pleasure that was
almost like health stole through her lean body. She
leaned back in her chair looking at Jacques. In three
years he could wear the velvet suit with the cap and
pompon. His hair would be yellow and curly, like his
father's. But his eyes would be like her mother's. She
pressed her hands together, laughing, the hot tears
rushing to her eyes. "Ah, maman!" she said. "Do you
know that your little girl has a baby? Can you see him?"
What a superb "great boy" he would be! He should go to
a military school. Yes! She lay back in her chair,
George suddenly started up with a cry of amazement.
"What is it?" she said indifferently.
He did not answer, but turned the letter and read it over
again. Then he folded it with shaking fingers.
"I have news here. Miss Vance thinks it time that I was
told, and I agree with her. It appears that I am a
pauper, and always have been. My father died penniless."
"Then Jacques will be poor?"
"Jacques! You think of nothing but that mewling,
senseless thing! It is mother--she always has supported
me. We are living now on the money that she earns from
week to week, while I play that I am an artist!"
Lisa listened attentively. "It does not seem strange
that a mother should work for her son," she said slowly.
"But she has never told us! That is fine! I like that!
I told you she had very good traits."
George stared at her. "But--me! Don't you see what a cad
He paced up and down, muttering, and then throwing on his
hat went out into the night to be alone.
Lisa sank back again and watched Jacques. At military
school, yes; and after he had left school he would be a
soldier, perhaps. Such a gallant young fellow!
She leaned over the cradle, holding out her hands. Ah,
God! if she could but live to see it! Surely it might
be? There was no pain now. Doctors were not
infallible--even D'Abri might be mistaken, after all.
George, coming in an hour later, found her sitting with
her hands covering her face.
"Are you asleep, Lisa?"
"There is a telegram from Clara. My mother has left
Munich for Vannes. She will be here in two days."
She rose with an effort. "I am glad for you, George."
"You are ill, Lisa!"
"A little tired, only. Colette will give me my powder,
and I shall be quite well in the morning. Will you send
her to me now?"
After George was gone the rumbling of a diligence
was heard in the courtyard, and presently a woman was
brought up to the opposite chamber.
The hall was dark. Looking across it, Frances Waldeaux
saw in the lighted room Lisa and her child.
Before we come to the dark story of that night in the
inn, it is but fair to Frances to say that she came there
with no definite evil purpose. She had been cheerful on
her journey from Munich. There was one clear fact in her
brain: She was on her way to George.
The countless toy farms of southern France, trimmed
neatly by the inch, swept past her. In Brittany came
melancholy stretches of brown heath and rain-beaten
hills; or great affluent estates, the Manor houses
covered with thatch, stagnant pools close to the doors,
the cattle breaking through the slovenly wattled walls.
Frances, being a farmer, felt a vague amusement at
these things, but they were all dim to her as a faded
landscape hanging on the wall.
She was going to George.
Sometimes she seemed to be in Lucy's room again, with the
sweet, clean air of youth about her. All of that
purity and love might have gone into George's
life--before it fell into the slough.
But she was going now to take it out of the slough.
There was a merchant and his wife from Geneva in the
carriage with their little boy, a pretty child of five.
Frances played and joked with him.
"Has madam also a son?" his mother asked civilly.
She said yes, and presently added, "My son has now a
great trouble, but I am going to relieve him of it."
The woman, startled, stared at her.
"Is it not right for me to rid him of it?" she demanded
"Mais oui, certainement" said the Swiss. She watched
Frances after that furtively. Her eyes, she thought,
were quite sane. But how eccentric all of these
Mrs. Waldeaux reached Vannes at nightfall. At last!
Here was the place in this great empty world where he
When the diligence entered the courtyard, George was so
near to the gate that the smoke of his cigar was
blown into her face, but he did not see her. He was lean
and pale, and his eyes told his misery. When she saw
them his mother grew sick from head to foot with a sudden
nausea. This was his wife's doing. She was killing him!
Frances hurried into the inn, her legs giving way under
her. She could not speak to him. She must think what to
She was taken to her room. It was dark, and across the
corridor she saw Lisa in her lighted chamber. This was
good luck! God had put the creature at once into her
hands to deal with!
She was conscious of a strange exaltation, as if from
wine--as if she would never need to sleep nor eat again.
Her thoughts came and went like flashes of fire. She
watched Lisa as she would a vampire, a creeping deadly
beast. Pauline Felix--all that was adulterous and vile
in women--there it was!
Her mind too, as never before, was full of a haughty
complacency in herself. She felt like the member of some
petty sect who is sure that God communes with him inside
of his altar rails, while the man is outside whom he
believes that God made only to be damned.
Lisa began to undress. Frances quickly turned away,
ashamed of peeping into her chamber. But the one fact
burned on into her brain:
The woman was killing George.
If God would rid the world of her! If a storm should
rise now, and the lightning strike the house, and these
stone walls should fall on her, now--now!
But the walls stood firm and the moonlight shone
tranquilly on the world outside.
She told herself to be calm--to be just. But there was
no justice while this woman went on with her work! God
saw. He meant her to be stopped. Frances prayed to him
frantically that Lisa might soon be put off of the earth.
Just as the Catholic used to pray before he massacred the
Huguenot, or the Protestant, when he tied his Catholic
brother to the stake. If this woman was mad for blood,
it was a madness that many sincere people have shared.
Colette was busy with her mistress for a long time. She
was very gentle and tender, being fond of Lisa, as people
of her class always were. She raised her voice as she
made ready to leave the room.
"If the pain returns, here is the powder of morphia,
mixed, within madame's reach," she said.
Frances came close to the door.
"And if it continues?" asked Lisa.
"Let monsieur call me. I would not trust him to measure
a powder," Colette said, laughing. "It is too dangerous.
He is not used to it--like me."
Mrs. Waldeaux saw her lay a paper package on a shelf.
"I will pray that the pain will not return," the girl
said. "But if it does, let monsieur knock at my door.
Here is the tisane when you are thirsty." She placed a
goblet of milky liquid near the bed.
What more she said Frances did not hear.
It was to be! There was the morphia, and yonder the
night drink within her reach. It was God's will.
Colette turned out the lamp, hesitated, and sat down by
the fire. Presently she rose softly, bent over her
mistress, and, finding her asleep, left the room
noiselessly. Her door closed far down the corridor.
Mrs. Waldeaux was quite alone, now.
It was but a step across the hall. So easy to do--easy.
It must be done at once.
But her feet were like lead, she could not move; her
tongue lay icy cold in her mouth. Her soul was willing,
but her body rebelled.
What folly was this? It was the work of a moment.
George would be free. She would have freed him.
In God's name then----
She crossed the hall softly. Into the hell of her
thoughts flashed a little womanish shame, that she,
Frances Waldeaux, should be walking on tiptoe, like a
She took down the package, and leaning over the table at
the side of the bed, shook the white powder into the
glass. Then she went back to her room and shut the door.
The casement was open and the moonlight was white
outside. She was conscious that the glare hurt her eyes,
and that there was a strange stricture about her jaws and
the base of her brain, like an iron hand.
It seemed to her but a minute that she stood there, but
the dawn was breaking when there was a sudden confusion
in the opposite room. She heard Colette's voice,
and then George's, calling Lisa.
There was no answer.
Frances stood up, to listen. "Will she not speak?" she
cried. "Make her speak!"
But in reality she said nothing. Even her breath had
stopped to listen.
There was no answer.
Frances was awake now, for the rest of her life. She
knew what she had done.
"Why, George," she said, "she cannot speak. She is dead.
I did it."
She stood in the room a minute, looking from side to
side, and then went with measured steps out of it, down
the corridor and into the street.
"I did it," she said to herself again and again, as she
walked slowly on.
The old cathedral is opposite to the inn. Her eyes, as
she passed, rested on the gargoyles, and she thought how
fine they were. One was a ridiculous head with lolling
A priest's voice inside was chanting mass. A dozen
Breton women in their huge white winged caps and wooden
shoes hurried up to the door, through the gray fog. They
met Mrs. Waldeaux and saw her face. They huddled to
one side, crossing themselves, and when she passed, stood
still, forgetting the mass and looking, frightened, up
the steep street behind her to find what horror had
"They know what I have done," she said aloud.
Once when she was a child she had accidentally seen a
bloated wretch, a murderer, on his way to the gallows.
"I am he," she thought. "I--_I_, Frances."
Then the gargoyle came into her mind again. What a
capital headpiece it would make for "Quigg's" next
column! It was time this week's jokes were sent.
But at last these ghosts of yesterday's life faded out,
and she saw the fact.
She had hated her son's wife and had killed her!
When the sun was well up the women who had been at mass
gathered down by the little river which runs through the
old city, to wash their clothes. They knelt on the broad
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