In the Quarter
Robert W. Chambers
Part 4 out of 4
"Hirsch, Reh, and fawn, and ja! ja! Sehen Sie? Gams!"
After this they went on cautiously. All at once a peculiar shrill
hiss, half whistle, half cry, sounded very near.
A chamois, followed by two kids, flashed across a heap of rocks above
their heads and disappeared. The Jaeger muttered something, deep in
"You wouldn't have shot her?" said Ruth, timidly.
"No, but she will clear this place of chamois. It's useless to stay
It was an hour's hard pull to the next peak. When at last they lay
sheltered under a ledge, grimy snow all about them, the Jaeger handed
his glass to Ruth.
"Hirsch on the Kaiser Alm, three Reh by Nani's Hütterl, and one in
the ravine," he said, looking at Gethryn, who was searching eagerly
with his own glass. Ruth balanced the one she held against her
"Yes, I see them all -- and -- why, there's a chamois!"
Sepp seized the glass which she held toward him.
"The gracious Fraülein has a hunter's eyesight; a chamois is feeding
just above the Hirsch."
"We are right for the wind, but is this the best place?" said Rex.
"We must make the best of it," said Sepp.
The speck of yellow was almost imperceptibly approaching their knoll,
but so slowly that Ruth almost doubted if it moved at all.
Sepp had the glass, and declining the one Rex offered her, she turned
for a moment to the superb panorama at their feet. East, west, north
and south the mountain world extended. By this time the snow mountains
of Tyrol were all lighted to gold and purple, rose and faintest
violet. Sunshine lay warm now on all the near peaks. But great billowy
oceans of mist rolled below along the courses of the Alp-fed streams,
and, deep under a pall of heavy, pale gray cloud, the Trauerbach was
rushing through its hidden valley down to Schicksalsee and Todtstein.
There was perfect silence, only now and then made audible by the
tinkle of a distant cowbell and the Jodel of a Sennerin. Ruth turned
again toward the chamois. She could see it now without a glass. But
Sepp placed his in her hand.
The chamois was feeding on the edge of a cliff, moving here and there,
leaping lightly across some gully, tossing its head up for a
precautionary sniff. Suddenly it gave a bound and stood still, alert.
Two great clumsy "Hirsch-kühe" had taken fright at some imaginary
danger, and, uttering their peculiar half grunt, half roar, were
galloping across the alm in half real, half assumed panic with their
calves at their heels.
The elderly female Hirsch is like a timorous granny who loves to scare
herself with ghost stories, and adores the sensation of jumping into
bed before the robber under it can catch her by the ankle.
It was such an alarm as this which now sent the two fussy old deer,
with their awkward long legged calves, clattering away with
terror-stricken roars which startled the delicate chamois, and for one
moment petrified him. The next, with a bound, he fairly flew along the
crest, seeming to sail across the ravine like a hawk, and to cover
distances in the flash of an eye. Sepp uttered a sudden exclamation
and forgot everything but what he saw. He threw his rifle forward,
there was a sharp click! -- the cartridge had not exploded. Next
moment he remembered himself and turned ashamed and deprecating to
Gethryn. The latter laid his hand on the Jaeger's arm and pointed. The
chamois' sharp ear had caught the click! -- he swerved aside and
bounded to a point of rock to look for this new danger. Rex tried to
put his rifle in Ruth's hands. She pressed it back, resolutely. "It
is your turn," she motioned with her lips, and drew away out of his
reach. That was no time for argument. The Jaeger nodded, "Quick!" A
shot echoed among the rocks and the chamois disappeared.
"Is he hit? Oh, Rex! did you hit him?"
"Ei! Zimbach!" Sepp slipped the leash, the hound sprang away, and in
a moment his bell-like voice announced Rex's good fortune.
Ruth flew like the wind, not heeding their anxious calls to be
careful, to wait for help. It was not far to go, and her light, sure
foot brought her to the spot first. When Rex and Sepp arrived she was
kneeling beside the dead chamois, stroking the "beard" that waved
along its bushy spine. She sprang up and held out her hand to Gethryn.
"Look at that beard -- Nimrod!" she said. Her voice rang with an
excitement she had not shown at her own success.
"It is a fine beard," said Rex, bending over it. His voice was not
quite steady. "Herrlich!" cried Sepp, and drank the "Waidmann's
Heil!" toast to him in deep and serious draughts. Then he took out a
thong, tied the four slender hoofs together and opened his game sack;
Rex helped him to hoist the chamois in and onto his broad shoulders.
Now for the upper Shelter. They started in great spirits, a happy
trio. Rex was touched by Ruth's deep delight in his success, and by
the pride in him which she showed more than she knew. He looked at her
with eyes full of affection. Sepp was assuring himself, by all the
saints in the Bavarian Calendar, that here was a "Herrschaft" which
a man might be proud of guiding, and so he meant to tell the duke.
Ruth's generous heart beat high.
Their way back to the path where they had separated from Colonel Dene
was long and toilsome. Sepp did his best to beguile it with hunter's
yarns, more or less true, at any rate just as acceptable as if they
had been proved and sworn to.
Like a good South German he hated Prussia and all its works, and his
tales were mostly of Berliners who had wandered thither and been
abused; of the gentleman who had been told, and believed, that the
"gams" slept by hooking its horns into crevices of the rock,
swinging thus at ease, over precipices; of another whom Federl once
deterred from going on the mountains by telling how a chamois, if
enraged, charged and butted; of a third who went home glad to have
learned that the chamois produced their peculiar call by bringing up a
hind leg and whistling through the hoof.
It was about half past two in the afternoon and Ruth began to be very,
very tired, when a Jodel from Sepp greeted the "Hütte" and the white
cross rising behind it. As they toiled up the steep path to the little
alm, Ruth said, "I don't see Papa, but there are people there." A
man in a summer helmet, wound with a green veil, came to the edge of
the wooden platform and looked down at them; he was presently joined
by two ladies, of whom one disappeared almost immediately, but they
could see the other still looking down until a turn in the path
brought them to the bottom of some wooden steps, close under the
platform. On climbing these they were met at the top by the gentleman,
hat in hand, who spoke in French to Gethryn, while the stout, friendly
lady held out both hands to Ruth and cried, in pretty broken English:
"Ah! dear Mademoiselle! ees eet possible zat we meet a--h--gain!"
"Madame Bordier!" exclaimed Ruth, and kissed her cordially on both
cheeks. Then she greeted the husband of Madame, and presented Rex.
"But we know heem!" smiled Madame; and her quiet, gentlemanly
husband added in French that Monsieur the colonel had done them the
honor to leave messages with them for Miss Dene and Mr Gethryn.
"Papa is not here?" said Ruth, quickly.
Monsieur the colonel, finding himself a little fatigued, had gone on
to the Jaeger-hütte, where were better accommodations.
Ruth's face fell, and she lost her bright color.
"But no! my dear!" said Madame. "Zere ees nossing ze mattaire. Your
fazzer ees quite vell," and she hurried her indoors.
Rex and Monsieur Bordier were left together on the platform. The
amiable Frenchman did the honors as if it were a private salon.
Monsieur the colonel was perfectly well. But perfectly! It was really
for Mademoiselle that he had gone on. He had decided that it would be
quite too fatiguing for his daughter to return that day to Trauerbach,
as they had planned, and he had gone on to secure the Jagd-hütte for
the night before any other party should arrive.
"He watched for you until you turned into the path that leads up
here, and we all saw that you were quite safe. It is only half an hour
since he left. He did us the honor to say that Mademoiselle Dene could
need no better chaperon than my wife -- Monsieur the colonel was a
little fatigued, but badly, no."
Monsieur Bordier led the way to the usual spring and wooden trough
behind the house, and, while Rex was enjoying a refreshing dip, he
continued to chat.
Yes, as he had already had the honor to inform Rex, Mademoiselle had
been his wife's pupil in singing, the last two winters, in Paris.
Monsieur Gethryn, perhaps, was not wholly unacquainted with the name
of Madame Bordier?
"Madame's reputation as an artist, and a professor of singing, is
worldwide," said Rex in his best Parisian, adding:
"And you, then, Monsieur, are the celebrated manager of `La
The manager replied with a politely gratified bow.
"The most charming theater in Paris," added Rex.
"Ah! murmured the other, Monsieur is himself an artist, though not of
our sort, and artists know."
"Colonel Dene has told you that I am studying in Paris," said Rex
"He has told me that Monsieur exhibited in the salon with a number
Rex scrubbed his brown and rosy cheeks with the big towel.
Monsieur Bordier went on: "But the talent of Mademoiselle! Mon Dieu!
what a talent! What a voice of silver and crystal! And today she will
meet another pupil of Madame -- of ours -- a genius. My word!"
"Yes, she is with us here. She makes her debut at the Fauvette next
Rex concealed a frown in the ample folds of the towel. It crossed his
mind that the colonel might better have stayed and taken care of his
own daughter. If he, Rex, had had a sister, would he have liked her to
be on a Bavarian mountaintop in a company composed of a gamekeeper,
the manager of a Paris theater and his wife, and a young person who
was about to make her debut in opera-bouffe, and to have no better
guardian than a roving young art student? Rex felt his unfitness for
the post with a pang of compunction. Meantime he rubbed his head, and
Monsieur Bordier talked tranquilly on. But between vexation and
friction Gethryn lost the thread of Monsieur's remarks for a while.
The first word which recalled his wandering attention was "Chamois?"
and he saw that Monsieur Bordier was pointing to the game bag and
looking amiably at Sepp, who, divided between sulkiness at Monsieur's
native language and goodwill toward anyone who seemed to be accepted
by his "Herrschaften," was in two minds whether to open the bag and
show the game to this smiling Frenchman, or "to say him a Grobheit"
and go away. Sepp's "Grobheit" could be very insulting indeed when
he cared to make it so. Rex hastened to turn the scale.
"Yes, Herr Director, this is Sepp, one of the duke's best gamekeepers
-- Monsieur speaks German?" he interrupted himself to ask in French.
"Parfaitement! Well," he went on in Sepp's native tongue, "Herr
Director, in Sepp you see one of the best woodsmen in Bavaria, one of
the best shots in Germany. Sepp, we must show the Herr Director our
And there was nothing for Sepp but to open the bag, sheepish, beaten,
laughing in spite of himself, and before he knew it they all three had
their heads together over the game in perfect amity.
A step sounded along the front platform, and Madame looked round the
corner of the house, saying that lunch was ready. Her husband and Rex
joined her immediately. "Ze young ladees are wizin," she said, and
led the way.
The sun-glare on the limestone rocks outside made the little room seem
almost black at first, and all Rex could distinguish as he followed
the others was Ruth's bright smile as she stood near the door and a
jumble of dark figures farther back.
"Permit me," said Monsieur, "to introduce you to our Belle
Hélène." Rex had already bowed low, seeing nothing. "Mademoiselle
Descartes -- Monsieur Gethryn -- " Rex raised his head and looked
into the white face of Yvonne.
"Ah, yes! as I was saying," gossiped Monsieur while they were taking
their places at table, "I shoot when I can, but merely the partridge
and rabbit of the turnip. Bah! a man may not boast of that!"
Rex kept his eyes fixed on the speaker and forced himself to
understand what was being said.
"But the sanglier?" His voice sounded in his ears like noises one
hears with the head under water.
"Mon Dieu! the sanglier! yes, that is also noble game. I do not deny
it." Monsieur talked on evenly and quietly in his self-possessed,
reasonable voice, about the habits and the hunt of the wild boar.
Ruth, sitting opposite, forcing herself to swallow the food, to answer
Madame gaily and look at her ease, felt her heart settle down like
lead in her breast.
What was this? Oh! what was it? She looked at Mademoiselle Descartes.
This young, gentle stranger with the dark hair and the face like
marble, this girl whom she had never heard of until an hour ago, was
hiding from Rex behind the broad shoulders of Madame Bordier. The
pupils of her blue eyes were so dilated that the sad, frightened eyes
themselves looked black. Ruth turned to Gethryn. He was listening and
answering. About his nostrils and temples the hollows showed; the
flush of sunburn was gone, leaving only a pallid brown over the ashen
grey of his face; his expression varied between a strained smile and a
fixed stare. The cold weight at her heart melted and swelled in a
passion of pity.
"Someone must keep up! Someone must keep up!" she said to herself;
and turned to assure Madame in tones which deserved the name of
"crystal and silver," that, Yes, for her part she had not been able
to see any reason why hearing Parsifal at Bayreuth should make one
forget that Bizet was also a great master.
But the strain became too great, and at the first possible moment she
said brightly to Rex, "I'm going to feed Zimbach. Sepp said I
might." She collected some scraps on a plate and went out. The hound
rose wagging as she approached. Ruth stood a moment looking down at
him. Then she knelt and took his brown head in her arms. Her eyes were
full of tears. Zimbach licked her face, and then wrenching his head
away began to dance about her, barking and running at the platter. She
took a bone and gave it to him; it went with a snap; so bit by bit she
fed him with her own hands, and the tears dried without one falling.
She heard Rex come out and stood up to meet him with clear grey eyes
that seemed to see nothing but a jest.
"Look at this dog, Rex! He hasn't a word to say about the bones he's
eaten already; he merely remarks that there don't seem to be any more
Rex was taking down his gun. "Monsieur wants to see this," he said
in a dull, heavy voice. "And Ruth -- when you are ready -- your
father, perhaps -- "
"Yes, I really would like to join him as soon as possible -- " They
went in together.
An hour later they were taking leave. All the usual explanations had
been made; everyone knew where the others were stopping, and why they
were there, and how long they meant to stay, and where they intended
to go afterward.
The Bordiers, with Yvonne, were at a lake on the opposite side of the
mountain, but a visit to the Forester's house at Trauerbach was one of
the excursions they had already planned.
It only remained now, as Ruth said, to fix upon an early day for
The hour just past had been Ruth's hour.
Without effort, or apparent intention, she had taken and kept the lead
from the moment when she returned with Rex. She it was who had given
the key, who had set and kept the pitch, and it was due to her that
not one discordant note had been struck. Vaguely yet vividly she felt
the emergency. Refusing to ask herself the cause, she recognized a
crisis. Something was dreadfully wrong. She made no attempt to go
beyond that. Of all the deep emotions which she was learning now so
suddenly, for the first time, the dominant one with her at present was
a desire to help and to protect. All her social experience, all her
tact, were needed to shield Rex and this white-faced, silent stranger,
who, without her, must have betrayed themselves, so stunned, so dazed
they were. And the courage of her father's daughter kept her fair head
erect above the dead weight at her heart.
And now, having said "Au revoir" to Monsieur and Madame, and fixed
upon a day for their visit to the Försthaus, she turned to Yvonne and
took her hand.
"Mademoiselle, I regret so much to hear that you are not quite
strong. But when you come to Trauerbach, Mama and I will take such
good care of you that you will not mind the fatigue."
The sad blue eyes looked into the clear grey ones, and once more Ruth
responded with a passion of grief and pity.
How Rex made his adieux Ruth never knew.
When he overtook her, she and Sepp were well started down the path to
the Jagd-hütte. They seemed to be having a duet of silence, which Rex
turned into a trio when he joined them.
For such walkers as they all were the distance they had to go was
nothing. Soft afternoon lights were still lying peacefully beside the
long afternoon shadows as they approached the little hut, and Sepp
answered the colonel's abortive attempt at a Jodel with one so long
and complicated that it seemed as if he were taking that means to
express all he should have liked to say in words. The spell broken, he
turned about and asked:
"Also! what did the French people," -- he wouldn't call them
Herrschaft -- "say to the gracious Fraulein's splendid shot?"
Ruth stopped and looked absently at him, then flushed and recovered
herself quickly. It was the first time she had remembered her stag.
"I fear," said she, "that French people would disapprove a young
lady's shooting. I did not tell them."
Sepp went on again with long strides. The four little black hoofs of
the chamois stuck pitifully up out of the bag on his broad back. When
he was well out of hearing he growled aloud:
"Hab' 's schon g' wusst! Jesses, Marie and Josef! was is denn dös!"
That evening, when Rex and the Jaeger were fussing over the chamois'
beard and dainty horns inside the Hütte, Ruth and her father stood
without, before the closed door. The skies were almost black, and full
of stars. Through the wide fragrant stillness came up now and then a
Jodel from some Bursch going to visit his Sennerin. A stamp, and a
comfortable sigh, came at times from Nani's cows in their stall below.
Ruth put both arms around her father's neck and laid her head down on
Supper was over, evening had fallen; but there would be no music
tonight under the beech tree; the sky was obscured by clouds and a wet
wind was blowing.
Mrs Dene and Ruth were crossing the hall; Gethryn came in at the front
door and they met.
"Well?" said Rex, forcing a smile.
"Well," said Ruth. "Mademoiselle Descartes is better. Madame will
bring her down stairs by and by. It appears that wretched peasant who
drove them has been carrying them about for hours from one inn to
another, stopping to drink at all of them. No wonder they were tired
out with the worry and his insolence!"
"It appears Miss Descartes has had attacks of fainting like this more
than once before. The doctor in Paris thinks there is some weakness of
the heart, but forbids her being told," said Mrs Dene.
Ruth interposed quickly, not looking at Gethryn:
"Papa and Monsieur Bordier, where are they?"
"I left them visiting Federl and Sepp in their quarters."
"Well, you will find us in that dreadful little room yonder. It's the
only alternative to sitting in the Bauernstube with all the
woodchoppers and their bad tobacco, since out of doors fails us. We
must go now and make it as pleasant as we can."
Ruth made a motion to go, but Mrs Dene lingered. Her kind eyes, her
fair little faded face, were troubled.
"Madame Bordier says the young lady tells her she has met you before,
"Yes, in Paris"; for his life he could not have kept down the
crimson flush that darkened his cheeks and made his temples throb.
Mrs Dene's manner grew a little colder.
"She seems very nice. You knew her people, of course."
"No, I never met any of her people," answered Rex, feeling like a
kicked coward. Ruth interposed once more.
"People!" said Ruth, impatiently. "Of course Rex only knows nice
people. Come, mother!"
Putting her arm around the old lady, she moved across the hall with
decision. As they passed into the cheerless little room, Rex held open
the door. Ruth, entering after her mother, looked in his face. It had
grown thinner; shadows were deep in the temples; from the dark circles
under the eyes to the chin ran a line of pain. She held out her hand
to him. He bent and kissed it.
He went and stood in the porch, trying to collect his thoughts. The
idea of this meeting between Ruth and Yvonne was insupportable. Why
had he not taken means -- any, every means to prevent it? He cursed
himself. He called himself a coward. He wondered how much Ruth
divined. The thought shamed him until his cheeks burned again. And all
the while a deep undercurrent of feeling was setting toward that
drooping little figure in black, as he had seen it for a moment when
she alighted from the carriage and was supported to a room upstairs.
Heavens! How it reminded him of that first day in the Place de la
Concorde! Why was she in mourning? What did the doctor mean by
"weakness of the heart"? What was she doing on mountaintops, and on
the stage of a theater if she had heart disease? He started with a
feeling that he must go and put a stop to all this folly. Then he
remembered the letter. She had told him another man had the right to
care for her. Then she was at this moment deserted for the second
time, as well as faithless to still another lover! -- to how many
more? And it was through him that a woman of such a life was brought
into contact with Ruth! And Ruth's parents had trusted him; they
thought him a gentleman. His brain reeled.
The surging waves of shame and self-contempt subsided, were forgotten.
He heard the wind sough in the Luxembourg trees, he smelled the pink
flowering chestnuts, a soft voice was in his ear, a soft touch on his
arm, her breath on his cheek, the old, old faces came crowding up.
Clifford's laugh rang faintly, Braith's grave voice; odd bits and ends
of song floated out from the shadows of that past and through the
troubled dream of face and laugh and music, so long, so long passed
away, he heard the gentle voice of Yvonne: "Rex, Rex, be true to me;
I will come back!"
"I loved her!" he muttered.
There was a stir, a door opened and shut, voices and steps sounded in
the room on his left. He leaned forward a little and looked through
the uncurtained window.
It was a bare and dingy room containing only a table, some hard
chairs, and an old "Flügel" piano with a long inlaid case.
They sat together at the table. Ruth's back was toward him; she was
speaking. Yvonne was in the full light. Her eyes were cast down, and
she was nervously plaiting the edge of her little black-bordered
handkerchief. All at once she raised her eyes and looked straight at
the window. How blue her eyes were!
Rex dropped his face in his hands.
"Oh God! I love her!" he groaned.
"Gute Nacht, gnädige Herrn!"
Sepp and Federl stood in their door with a light. Two figures were
coming down from the Jaeger's cottage. Gethryn recognized the colonel
and Monsieur Bordier.
At the risk of scrutiny from those cool, elderly, masculine eyes,
Rex's manhood pulled itself together. He went back to meet them, and
presently they all joined the ladies in the apology for a parlor,
where coffee was being served.
Coming in after the older men, Rex found no place left in the little,
crowded room, excepting one at the table close beside Yvonne. Ruth was
on the other side. He went and took the place, self-possessed and
Yvonne made a slight motion as if to rise and escape. Only Rex saw it.
Yes, one more: Ruth saw it.
"Mademoiselle has studied seriously since I had the honor -- "
Her faint voice and timid look were more than Ruth could bear. She
leaned forward so as to shield the girl as much as possible, and
entered into the lively talk at the other end of the table.
Rex spoke again: "Mademoiselle is quite strong, I trust -- the stage
-- Sugar? Allow me! -- As I was saying, the stage is a calling which
requires a good constitution." No answer.
"But pardon. If you are not strong, how can you expect to succeed in
your career?" persisted Rex. His eyes rested on one frail wrist in
its black sleeve. The sight filled him with anger.
"I would make my debut if I knew it would kill me." She spoke at
last, low but clearly.
"But why? Mon Dieu!"
"Madame has set her heart on it. She thinks I shall do her credit.
She has been good to me, so good!" The sad voice fainted and sank
"One is good to one's pupils when they are going to bring one fame,"
said Rex bitterly.
"Madame took me when she did not know I had a voice -- when she
thought I was dying -- when I was homeless -- two years ago."
"What do you mean?" said Rex sternly, sinking his voice below the
pitch of the general conversation. "What did you tell me in your
"I never wrote you any letter." Yvonne raised her blue eyes,
startled, despairing, and looked into his for the first time.
"You did not write that you had found a -- a home which you preferred
to -- to -- any you had ever had? And that it would be useless to --
to offer you any other?"
"I never wrote. I was very ill and could not. Afterward I went to --
you. You were gone." Her low voice was heartbreaking to hear.
"When?" Rex could hardly utter a word.
"In June, as soon as I left the hospital."
"The hospital? And your mother?"
"She was dead. I did not see her. Then I was very ill, a long time.
As soon as I could, I went to Paris."
"And the letter?"
"Ah!" cried Yvonne with a shudder. "It must have been my sister who
The room was turning round. A hundred lights were swaying about in a
crowd of heads. Rex laid his hand heavily on the table to steady
himself. With a strong effort at self-control he had reduced the
number of lights to two and got the people back in their places when,
with a little burst of French exclamations and laughter, everyone
turned to Yvonne, and Ruth, bending over her, took both her hands.
The next moment Monsieur Bordier was leading her to the piano.
A soft chord, other chords, deep and sweet, and then the dear voice:
Oui c'est un rêve,
Un rêve doux d'amour,
La nuit lui prête son mystére
The chain is forged again. The mists of passion rise thickly, heavily,
and blot out all else forever.
Hélène's song ceased. He heard them praise her, and heard "Good
nights" and "Au revoirs" exchanged. He rose and stood near the
door. Ruth passed him like a shadow. They all remained at the foot of
the stairs for a moment, repeating their "Adieus" and
"Remerciements." He was utterly reckless, but cool enough still to
watch for his chance in this confusion of civilities. It came; for one
instant he could whisper to her, "I must see you tonight." Then the
voices were gone and he stood alone on the porch, the wet wind blowing
in his face, his face turned up to a heavy sky covered with black,
driving clouds. He could hear the river and the moaning of the trees.
It seemed as if he had stood there for hours, never moving. Then there
was a step in the dark hall, on the threshold, and Yvonne lay
trembling in his arms.
The sky was beginning to show a tint of early dawn when they stepped
once more upon the silent porch. The wind had gone down. Clouds were
piled up in the west, but the east was clear. Perfect stillness was
over everything. Not a living creature was in sight, excepting that
far up, across the stream, Sepp and Zimbach were climbing toward the
"I must go in now. I must you -- child!" said Yvonne in her old
voice, smoothing her hair with both hands. Rex held her back.
"My wife?" he said.
"Yes!" She raised her face and kissed him on the lips, then clung to
"Hush! hush! It is I who should do that," he murmured, pressing her
cheek against his breast.
Once more she turned to leave him, but he detained her.
"Yvonne, come with me and be married today!"
"You know it is impossible. Today! what a boy you are! As if we
"Well then, in a few days -- in a week, as soon as possible."
"Oh! my dearest! do not make it so hard for me! How could I desert
Madame so? After all she has done for me? When I know all her hopes
are set on me; that if I fail her she has no one ready to take my
place! Because she was so sure of me, she did not try to bring on any
other pupil for next autumn. And last season was a bad one for her and
Monsieur. Their debutante failed; they lost money. Behold this
child!" she exclaimed, with a rapid return to her old gay manner,
"to whom I have explained all this at least a hundred times already,
and he asks me why we cannot be married today!"
Then with another quick change, she laid her cheek tenderly against
his and murmured:
"I might have died but for her. You would not have me desert her so
"My love! No!" A new respect mingled with his passion. Yes, she was
"And now I will go in! Rex, Rex, you are quite as bad as ever! Look
at my hair!" She leaned lightly on his shoulder, her old laughing
He smiled back sadly.
"Again! After all! You silly, silly boy! And it is such a little
while to wait!"
"Belle Hélène is very popular in Paris. The piece may run a long
"Rex, I must. Don't make it so hard for me!" Tears filled her eyes.
He kissed her for answer, without speaking.
"Think! think of all she did for me; saved me; fed me, clothed me,
taught me when she believed I had only voice and talent enough to
support myself by teaching. It was half a year before she and Monsieur
began to think I could ever make them any return for their care of me.
And all that time she was like a mother to me. And now she has told
everyone her hopes of me. If I fail she will be ridiculed. You know
Paris. She and Monsieur have enemies who will say there never was any
pupil, nor any debut expected. Perhaps she will lose her prestige. The
fashion may turn to some other teacher. You know what malice can do
with ridicule in Paris. Let me sing for her this once, make her one
great success, win her one triumph, and then never, never sing again
for any soul but you -- my husband!"
Her voice sank at the last words, from its eager pleading, to an
exquisite modest sweetness.
"But -- if you fail?"
"I shall not fail. I have never doubted that I should have a success.
Perhaps it is because for myself I do not care, that I have no fear.
When I had lost you -- I only thought of that. And now that I have
found you again -- !"
She clung to him in passionate silence.
"And I may not see your debut?"
"If you come I shall surely fail! I must forget you. I must think
only of my part. What do I care for the house full of strange faces? I
will make them all rise up and shout my name. But if you were there --
Ah! I should have no longer any courage! Promise me to come only on
the second night."
"But if you do fail, I may come and take you immediately before
Monsieur the Maire?"
"If you please!" she whispered demurely.
And they both laughed, the old happy-children laugh of the Atelier.
"I suppose you are bad enough to hope that I will fail," added she
presently, with a little moue.
"Yvonne," said Rex earnestly, "I hope that you will succeed. I know
you will, and I can wait for you a few weeks more."
"We have waited for our happiness two years. We will make the
happiness of others now first, n'est ce pas?" she whispered.
The sky began to glow and the house was astir. Rex knew how it would
soon be talking, but he cared for nothing that the world could do or
"Ah! we will be happy! Think of it! A little house near the Parc
Monceau, my studio there, Clifford, Elliott, Rowden -- Bra--- all of
them coming again! And it will be my wife who will receive them!"
She placed a little soft palm across his lips.
"Taisez-vous, mon ami! It is too soon! See the morning! I must go.
There! yes -- one more! -- my love, Adieu!"
Fewer tourists and more hunters had been coming to the Lodge of late;
the crack of the rifle sounded all day. There was great talk of a hunt
which the duke would hold in September, and the colonel and Rex were
invited. But though September was now only a few days off, the colonel
was growing too restless to wait.
After Yvonne's visit, he and Ruth were much together. It seemed to
happen so. They took long walks into the woods, but Ruth seemed to
share now her father's aversion to climbing, and Gethryn stalked the
deer with only the Jaegers for company.
Ruth and her father used to come home with their arms full of wild
flowers -- the fair, lovely wild blossoms of Bavaria which sprang up
everywhere in their path. The colonel was great company on these
expeditions, singing airs from obsolete operas of his youth, and
telling stories of La Grange, Brignoli and Amodio, of the Strakosches
and Maretzeks, with much liveliness. Sometimes there would be a
silence, however, and then if Ruth looked up she often met his eyes.
Then he would smile and say:
"Well, Daisy!" and she would smile and say:
But this could not last. About a week after Yvonne's visit, the
colonel, after one of these walks, instead of joining Rex for a smoke,
left him sitting with Ruth under the beech tree and mounted the stairs
to Mrs Dene's room.
It was an hour later when he rose and kissed his wife, who had been
sitting at her window all the time of their quiet talk, with eyes
fixed on the young people below.
"I never dreamed of it!" said he.
"I did, I wished it," was her answer. "I thought he was -- but they
are all alike!" she ended sadly and bitterly. "To think of a boy as
wellborn as Rex -- " But the colonel, who possibly knew more about
wellborn boys than his wife did, interrupted her:
"Hang the boys! It's Ruth I'm grieved for!"
"My daughter needs no one's solicitude, not even ours!" said the old
"Right! Thank God!" said the veteran, in a tone of relief. "Good
night, my dear!"
Two days later they left for Paris.
Rex accompanied them as far as Schicksalsee, promising to follow them
in a few days.
The handsome, soldierly-looking Herr Förster stood by their carriage
and gave them a "Glück-liche Reise!" and a warm "Auf Wiedersehen!"
as they drove away. Returning up the steps slowly and seriously, he
caught the eye of Sepp and Federl, who had been looking after the
carriage as it turned out of sight beyond the bridge:
"Schade!" said the Herr Förster, and went into the house.
"Schade!" said Federl.
"Jammer-schade!" growled Sepp.
On the platform at Schicksalsee, Rex and Ruth were walking while they
waited for the train. "Ruth," said Rex, "I hope you never will need
a friend's life to save yours from harm; but if you do, take mine."
"Yes, Rex." She raised her eyes and looked into the distance. Far on
the horizon loomed the Red Peak.
The clumsy mail drew up beside the platform. It was the year when all
the world was running after a very commonplace Operetta with one
lovely stolen song: a Volks-song. One heard it everywhere, on both
continents; and now as the postillion, in his shiny hat with the
cockade, his light blue jacket and white small clothes, and his curly
brass horn, came rattling down the street, he was playing the same
Es ist im Leben häßlich eingerichtet --
The train drew into the station. When it panted forth again, Gethryn
stood waving his hand, and watched it out of sight.
Turning at last to leave the platform, he found that the crowd had
melted away; only a residue of crimson-capped officials remained. He
inquired of one where he could find an expressman and was referred to
a mild man absorbing a bad cigar. With him Gethryn arranged for having
his traps brought from Trauerbach and consigned to the brothers
Schnurr at the "Gasthof zur Post," Schicksalsee, that inn being
close to the station.
This settled, he lighted a cigarette and strolled across to his hotel,
sitting down on a stone bench before the door, and looking off at the
It was mid-afternoon. The little place was asleep. Nothing was
stirring about the inn excepting a bandy Dachshund, which came
wheezing up and thrust a cold nose into the young man's hand. High in
the air a hawk was wheeling; his faint, querulous cry struck Gethryn
with an unwonted sense of loneliness. He noticed how yellow some of
the trees were on the slopes across the lake. Autumn had come before
summer was ended. He leaned over and patted the hound. A door opened,
a voice cried, "Ei Dachl! du! Dachl!" and the dog made off at the
top of his hobbyhorse gait.
The silence was unbroken except for the harsh cries of the hawk,
sailing low now in great circles over the lake. The sun flashed on his
broad, burnished wings as he stooped; Gethryn fancied he could see his
evil little eyes; finally the bird rose and dwindled away, lost
against the mountainside.
He was roused from his reverie by angry voices.
"Cochon! Kerl! Menteur!" cried someone.
The other voice remonstrated with a snarl.
"Bah!" cried the first, "you lie!"
"Alsatians," thought Rex; "what horrible French!"
The snarling began again, but gradually lapsed into whining. Rex
looked about him.
The quarreling seemed to come from a small room which opened out of
the hotel restaurant. Windows gave from it over the front, but the
blinds were down.
"No! No! I tell you! Not one sou! Starve? I hope you will!" cried
the first voice, and a stamp set some bottles and glasses jingling.
"Alsatians and Jews!" thought Rex. One voice was unpleasantly
familiar to him, and he wondered if Mr Blumenthal spoke French as he
did English. Deciding with a careless smile that of course he did, Rex
ceased to think of him, not feeling any curiosity to go and see with
whom his late fellow-lodger might be quarreling. He sat and watched
instead, as he lounged in the sunshine, some smart carriages whirling
past, their horses stepping high, the lackeys muffled from the
mountain air in winter furs, crests on the panels.
An adjutant in green, with a great flutter of white cock's feathers
from his chapeau, sitting up on the box of an equipage, accompanied by
flunkies in the royal blue and white of Bavaria, was a more agreeable
object to contemplate than Mr Blumenthal, and Gethryn felt as much
personal connection with the Prince Regent hurrying home to Munich,
from his little hunting visit to the emperor of Austria, as with the
wrangling Jews behind the close-drawn blinds of the coffee-room at his
The sun was slowly declining. Rex rose and idled into the
smoking-room. It was deserted but for the clerk at his desk, a railed
enclosure, one side of which opened into the smoking-room, the other
side into the hall. Across the hall was a door with "Café --
Restaurant," in gilt letters above it. Rex did not enter the café; he
sat and dreamed in the empty smoking-room over his cigarette.
But it was lively in the café, in spite of the waning season. A good
many of the tables were occupied. At one of them sat the three
unchaperoned Miss Dashleighs, in company with three solemn,
high-shouldered young officers, enjoying something in tall, slender
tumblers which looked hot and smelled spicy. At another table Mr
Everett Tweeler and Mrs Tweeler were alternately scolding and stuffing
Master Irving Tweeler, who expressed in impassioned tones a desire for
"Ur--r--ving!" remonstrated Mr Tweeler.
"Dahling!" argued Mrs Tweeler. "If oo eats too many 'ittle cakies
then oo tant go home to Salem on the puffy, puffy choo-choo boat."
Old Sir Griffin Damby overheard and snorted.
When Master Tweeler secured his tarts, Sir Griffin blessed the meal
with a hearty "damn!"
He did not care for Master Tweeler's nightly stomach aches, but their
rooms adjoined. When "Ur--r--ving" reached unmolested for his
fourth, Sir Griffin rose violently, and muttering, "Change me room,
begad!" waddled down to the door, glaring aggressively at the
occupants of the various tables. Near the exit a half suppressed
squeal caused him to swing round. He had stepped squarely on the toe
of a meager individual, who now sat nursing his foot in bitter
"Pardon -- " began Sir Griffin, then stopped and glared at the
Sir Griffin stared hard at the man he had stepped on, and at his
"Damn it!" he cried. "Keep your feet out of the way, do you hear?"
puffed his cheeks, squared his shoulders and snorted himself out of
The yellow-faced man was livid with rage.
"Don't be a fool, Mannie," whispered the woman; "don't make a row
-- do you know who that is?"
"He's an English hog," spluttered the man with an oath; "he's a
cursed hog of an Englishman!"
"Yes, and he knows us. He was at Monaco a few summers ago. Don't
forget who turned us out of the Casino."
Emanuel Pick turned a shade more sallow and sank back in his seat.
Neither spoke again for some moments. Presently the woman began to
stir the bits of lemon and ice in her empty tumbler. Pick watched her
"You always take the most expensive drinks. Why can't you order
coffee, as others do?" he snarled.
She glanced at him. "Jew," she sneered.
"All right; only wait! I've come to the end of my rope. I've got just
money enough left to get back to Paris -- "
"You lie, Mannie!"
He paid no attention to this compliment, but lighted a cigar and
dropped the match on the floor, grinding it under his heel.
"You have ten thousand francs today! You lie if you say you have
Mr Pick softly dropped his eyelids.
"That is for me, in case of need. I will need it too, very soon!"
His companion glared at him and bit her lip.
"If you and I are to remain dear friends," continued Mr Pick, "we
must manage to raise money, somehow. You know that as well as I do."
Still she said nothing, but kept her eyes on his face. He glanced up
and looked away uneasily.
"I have seen my uncle again. He knows all about your sister and the
American. He says it is only because of him that she refuses the
The woman's face grew tigerish, and she nodded rapidly, muttering,
"Ah! yes! Mais oui! the American. I do not forget him!"
"My dear uncle thinks it is our fault that your sister refuses to
forget him, which is more to the purpose," sneered Pick. "He says
you did not press that offer he made Yvonne with any skill, else she
would never have refused it again -- that makes four times," he
added. "Four times she has refused an establishment and -- "
"Pst! what are you raising your voice for?" hissed the woman. "And
how is it my fault?" she went on.
"I don't say it is. I know better -- who could wish more than we that
your sister should become the mistress of my dear rich uncle? But when
I tried to tell him just now that we had done our best, he raved at
me. He has guessed somehow that they mean to marry. I did not tell him
that we too had guessed it. But he said I knew it and was concealing
it from him. I asked him for a little money to go on with. Curse him,
he would not lend me a sou! Said he never would again -- curse him!"
There was a silence while Pick smoked on. The woman did not smoke too
because she had no cigarette, and Pick did not offer her any.
Presently he spoke again.
"Yes, you certainly are an expensive luxury, under the circumstances.
And since you have so mismanaged your fool of a sister's affair, I
don't see how the circumstances can improve."
She watched him. "And the ten thousand francs? You will throw me off
and enjoy them at your ease?"
He cringed at her tone. "Not enjoy -- without you -- "
"No," she said coolly, "for I shall kill you."
Mr Pick smiled uncomfortably. "That would please the American," he
said, trying to jest, but his hand trembled as he touched the stem of
his cigar-holder to shake off the ashes.
A sudden thought leaped into her face. "Why not please -- me --
instead?" she whispered.
Their eyes met. Her face was hard and bold -- his, cowardly and
ghastly. She clenched her hands and leaned forward; her voice was
scarcely audible. Mr Pick dropped his oily black head and listened.
"He turned me out of his box at the Opera; he struck you -- do you
hear? he kicked you!"
The Jew's face grew chalky.
"Today he stands between you and your uncle, you and wealth, you and
me! Do you understand? Cowards are stupid. You claim Spanish blood.
But Spanish blood does not forget insults. Is yours only the blood of
a Spanish Jew? Bah! Must I talk? You saw him? He is here. Alive. And
he kicked you. And he stands between you and riches, you and me, you
and -- life!"
They sat silent, she holding him fascinated with her little black
eyes. His jaw fallen, the expression of his loose mouth was horrible.
Suddenly she thrust her face close to his. Her eyes burned and the
blood surged through the distended veins under the cracking rouge. Her
lips formed the word, "Tonight!"
Without a word he crept from his seat and followed her out of the room
by a side door.
Gethryn, lounging in the smoking-room meanwhile, was listening with
delight to the bellowing of Sir Griffin Damby, who stood at the
clerk's desk in the hall.
"Don't contradict me!" he roared -- the weak-eyed clerk had not
dreamed of doing so -- "Don't you contradict me! I tell you it's the
"But Excellence," entreated the clerk, "we do not know -- "
"What! Don't know! Don't I tell you?"
"We will telegraph to Paris -- "
"Telegraph to hell! Where's my man? Here! Dawson! Do you remember
that infernal Jew at Monaco? He's here. He's in there!" jerking an
angry thumb at the café door. "Keep him in sight till the police come
for him. If he says anything, kick him into the lake."
The clerk tried to say that he would telegraph instantly, but Sir
Griffin barked in his face and snorted his way down the hall, followed
by the valet.
Rex, laughing, threw down his cigarette and sauntered over to the
"Whom does the Englishman want kicked out?"
The clerk made a polite gesture, asking Rex to wait until he had
finished telegraphing. At that moment the postillion's horn heralded
the coming of the mail coach, and that meant the speedy arrival of the
last western train. Rex forgot Sir Griffin and strolled over to the
post office to watch the distribution of the letters and to get his
A great deal of flopping and pounding seemed to be required as a
preliminary to postal distribution. First the mail bags seemed to be
dragged all over the floor, then came a long series of thumps while
the letters were stamped, finally the slide was raised and a face the
color of underdone pie crust, with little angry eyes, appeared. The
owner had a new and ingenious insult for each person who presented
himself. The Tweelers were utterly routed and went away not knowing
whether there were any letters for them or not. Several valets and
ladies' maids exchanged lively but ineffectual compliments with the
face in the post office window. Then came Sir Griffin. Rex looked on
with interest. What the ill-natured brute behind the grating said, Rex
couldn't hear, but Sir Griffin burst out with a roar, "Damnation!"
that made everybody jump. Then he stuck his head as far as he could
get it in at the little window and shouted -- in fluent German,
awfully pronounced -- "Here! You! It's enough that you're so stupid
you don't know what you're about. Don't you try to be impudent too!
Hand me those letters!" The official bully handed them over without a
Rex took advantage of the lull and stepped to the window. "Any
letters for Mr Gethryn?"
"How you spell him?" Rex spelled him.
"Yet once again!" demanded the intelligent person. Rex wrote it in
English and in German script.
"From Trauerbach -- yes?"
The man went away, looked through two ledgers, sent for another, made
out several sets of blanks, and finally came back to the window, but
"Well?" said Rex, pleasantly.
"Well," said the man.
"Anything for me?"
"Nothing for you."
"Kindly look again," said Rex. "I know there are letters for me."
In about ten minutes the man appeared again.
"Well?" said Gethryn.
"Well," said the man.
"Nothing for me?"
"Something." And with ostentatious delay he produced three letters
and a newspaper, which Rex took, restraining an impulse to knock him
down. After all, the temptation was not very great, presenting itself
more as an act of justice than as a personal satisfaction. The truth
was, all day long a great gentleness tinged with melancholy had rested
on Gethryn's spirit. Nothing seemed to matter very much. And whatever
engaged his attention for a moment, it was only for a moment, and then
his thoughts returned where they had been all day.
Yvonne, Yvonne! She had not been out of his thoughts since he rose
that morning. In a few steps he reached his room and read his letters
by the waning daylight.
The first began:
My Darling -- in three more days I shall stand before a Paris
audience. I am not one bit nervous. I am perfectly happy. Yesterday
at rehearsal the orchestra applauded and Madame Bordier kissed me.
Some very droll things happened. Achilles was intoxicated and
chased Ajax the Less with a stick. Ajax fled into my dressing room,
and although I was not there I told Achilles afterward that I would
never forgive him. Then he wept.
The letter ran on for a page more of lively gossip and then, with a
sudden change, ended:
But why do I write these foolish things to you? Ah! you know it is
because I am too happy! too happy! and I cannot say what is in my
heart. I dare not. It is too soon. I dare not!
If it is that I am happy, who but you knows the reason? And now
listen to my little secret. I pray for you, yes, every morning and
every evening. And for myself too -- now.
God forgives. It is in my faith. Oh! my husband, we will be good!
Gethryn's eyes blurred on the page and he sat a long time, very still,
not offering to open his remaining letters. Presently he raised his
head and looked into the street. It was dusk, and the lamps along the
lake side were lighted. He had to light his candles to read by.
The next was from Braith -- a short note.
Everything is ready, Rex, your old studio cleaned and dusted until
you would not know it.
I have kept the key always by me, and no one but myself has ever
entered it since you left.
I will meet you at the station -- and when you are really here I
shall begin to live again.
It seemed as if Gethryn would never get on with his correspondence. He
sat and held this letter as he had done the other. A deep melancholy
possessed him. He did not care to move. At last, impatiently, he tore
the third envelope. It contained a long letter from Clifford.
"My blessed boy," it said.
We learn from Papa Braith that you will be here before long, but
the old chump won't tell when. He intends to meet you all alone at
the station, and wishes to dispense with a gang and a brass band.
We think that's deuced selfish. You are our prodigal as well as
his, and we are considering several plans for getting even with Pa.
One is to tell you all the news before he has a chance. And I will
begin at once.
Thaxton has gone home, and opened a studio in New York. The
Colossus has grown two more inches and hates to hear me mention the
freak museums in the Bowery. Carleton is a hubby, and wifey is
English and captivating. Rowden told me one day he was going to get
married too. When I asked her name he said he didn't know. Someone
with red hair.
When I remarked that he was a little in that way himself, he said
yes, he knew it, and he intended to found a race of that kind, to
be known as the Red Rowdens. Elliott's brindle died, and we sold
ours. We now keep two Russian bloodhounds. When you come to my
room, knock first, for "Baby" doesn't like to be startled.
Braith has kept your family together, in your old studio. The
parrot and the raven are two old fiends and will live forever. Mrs
Gummidge periodically sheds litters of kittens, to Braith's
indignation. He gives them to the concierge who sells them at a
high price, I don't know for what purpose; I have two of the
Gummidge children. The bull pups are pups no longer, but they are
beauties and no mistake. All the same, wait until you see "Baby."
I met Yvonne in the Louvre last week. I'm glad you are all over
that affair, for she's going to be married, she told me. She looked
prettier than ever, and as happy as she was pretty. She was with
old Bordier of the Fauvette, and his wife, and -- think of this!
she's coming out in Belle Hélène! Well! I'm glad she's all right,
for she was too nice to go the usual way.
Poor little Bulfinch shot himself in the Bois last June. He had
delirium tremens. Poor little chap!
There's a Miss Dene here, who knows you. Braith has met her. She's
a beauty, he says, and she's also a stunning girl, possessing
manners, and morals, and dignity, and character, and religion and
all that you and I have not, my son. Braith says she isn't too good
for you when you are at your best; but we know better, Reggy; any
good girl is too good for the likes of us.
Hasten to my arms, Reginald! You will find them at No. 640 Rue
Notre Dame des Champs, chez,
Foxhall Clifford, Esq.
Leaving Clifford's letter and the newspapers on the table, Rex took
his hat, put out the light, and went down to the street. As he stood
in the door, looking off at the dark lake, he folded Yvonne's letter
and placed it in his breast. He held Braith's a moment more and then
laid it beside hers.
The air was brisk; he buttoned his coat about him. Here and there a
moonbeam touched the lapping edge of the water, or flashed out in the
open stretch beyond the point of pines. High over the pines hung a
cliff, blackening the water all around with fathomless shadow.
A waiter came lounging by, his hands tucked beneath his coattails.
"What point is that? The one which overhangs the pines there?" asked
"Gracious sir!" said the waiter, "that is the Schicksalfels."
"Has the gracious gentleman never heard the legend of the `Rock of
"No, and on second thoughts, I don't care to hear it now. Another
time. Good night!"
"Ah! the gentleman is too good! Thousand thanks! Gute Nacht, gnädiger
Gethryn remained looking at the crags.
"They cannot be half a mile from here," he thought. "I suppose the
path is good enough; if not, I can turn back. The lake will look well
from there by moonlight." And he found himself moving up a little
footpath which branched below the hotel.
It was pleasant, brisk walking. The air had a touch of early frost in
it. Gethryn swung along at a good pace, pulling his cap down and
fastening the last button of his coat. The trees threw long shadows
across the path, hiding it from view, except where the moonlight fell
white on the moist gravel. The moon herself was past the full and not
very bright; a film of mist was drawing over the sky. Gethryn, looking
up, thought of that gentle moon which once sailed ghostlike at high
noon through the blue zenith among silver clouds while a boy lay
beside the stream with rod and creel; and then he remembered the dear
old yellow moon that used to flood the nursery with pools of light and
pile strange moving shades about his bed. And then he saw, still
looking up, the great white globe that hung above the frozen river,
striking blue sparks from the ringing skates.
He felt lonely and a trifle homesick. For the first time in his life
-- he was still so young -- he thought of his childhood and his
boyhood as something gone beyond recall.
He had nearly reached his destination; just before him the path
entered a patch of pine woods and emerged from it, shortly, upon the
flat-topped rock which he was seeking. Under the first arching
branches he stopped and looked back at the marred moon in the
"I am sick of this wandering," he thought. "Wane quickly! Your
successor shall shine on my home: Yvonne's and mine."
And, thinking of Yvonne, he passed into the shadows which the pines
cast upon the Schicksalfels.
Paris lay sparkling under a cold, clear sky. The brilliant streets lay
coiled along the Seine and stretched glittering from bank to bank,
from boulevard to boulevard; cafés, brasseries, concert halls and
theaters in the yellow blaze of gas and the white and violet of
It was not late, but people who entered the lobby of the Theater
Fauvette turned away before the placard "Standing room only."
Somewhere in the city a bell sounded the hour, and with the last
stroke the drop curtain fell on the first act of "La Belle Hélène."
It fell amidst a whirlwind of applause, in which the orchestra led.
The old leader of the violins shook his head, however. He had been
there twenty years, and he had never before heard of such singing in
"No, no," he said, "she can't stay here. Dame! she sings!"
Madame Bordier was pale and happy; her good husband was weak with joy.
The members of the troupe had not yet had time to be jealous and they,
As for the house, it was not only conquered, it was wild with
enthusiasm. The lobbies were thronged.
Braith ran up against Rowden and Elliott.
"By Jove!" they cried, with one voice, "who'd have thought the
little girl had all that in her? I say, Braith, does Rex know about
her? When is he coming?"
"Rex doesn't know and doesn't care. Rex is cured," said Braith.
"And he's coming next week. Where's Clifford?" he added, to make a
"Clifford promised to meet us here. He'll be along soon."
The pair went out for refreshments and Braith returned to his seat.
The wait between the acts proved longer than was agreeable, and people
grumbled. The machinery would not work, and two heavy scenes had to be
shifted by hand. Good Monsieur Bordier flew about the stage in a
delirium of excitement. No one would have recognized him for the
eminently reasonable being he appeared in private life. He called the
stage hands "Prussian pigs!" and "Spanish cattle!" and expressed
his intention to dismiss the whole force tomorrow.
Yvonne, already dressed, stood at the door of her room, looking along
the alley of dusty scenery to where a warm glow revealed the close
proximity of the footlights. There was considerable unprofessional
confusion, and not a little skylarking going on among the company, who
took advantage of the temporary interruption.
Yvonne stood in the door of her dressing room and dreamed, seeing
Her pretty figure was draped in a Grecian tunic of creamy white,
bordered with gold; her soft, dark hair was gathered in a simple knot.
Presently she turned and entered her dressing room, closing the door.
Then she sat down before the mirror, her chin resting on her hands,
her eyes fixed on her reflected eyes, a faint smile curving her lips.
"Oh! you happy girl!" she thought. "You happy, happy girl! And just
a little frightened, for tomorrow he will come. And when he says --
for he will say it -- `Yvonne must we wait?' I shall tell him, No!
take me now if you will!"
Without a knock the door burst open. A rush of music from the
orchestra came in. Yvonne thought "So they have begun at last!" The
same moment she rose with a faint, heartsick cry. Her sister closed
the door and fastened it, shutting out all sound but that of her
terrible voice. Yvonne blanched as she looked on that malignant face.
With a sudden faintness she leaned back, pressing one hand to her
"You received my letter?" said the woman.
Yvonne did not answer. Her sister stamped and came nearer. "Speak!"
Yvonne shrank and trembled, but kept her resolute eyes on the cruel
eyes approaching hers.
"Shall I tear an answer from you?" said the woman, always coming
nearer. "Do you think I will wait your pleasure, now?"
"He is here -- Mr Blumenthal; he is waiting for you. You dare not
refuse him again! You will come with us now, after the opera. Do you
hear? You will come. There is no more time. It must be now. I told you
there would be time, but there is none -- none!"
Yvonne's maid knocked at the door and called:
"Mademoiselle, c'est l'heuer!"
"Answer!" hissed the woman.
Yvonne, speechless, holding both hands to her heart, kept her eyes on
her sister's face. That face grew ashen; the eyes had the blank glare
of a tiger's; she sprang up to Yvonne and grasped her by the wrists.
"Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle! c'est l'heure!" called the maid,
shaking the door.
"Fool!" hissed her sister, "you think you will marry the
"Mademoiselle Descartes! mais Mademoiselle Descartes!" cried
Monsieur's voice without.
"Let me go!" panted Yvonne, struggling wildly.
"Go!" screamed the woman, "go, and sing! You cannot marry him! He
is dead!" and she struck the girl with her clenched fist.
The door, torn open, crashed behind her and immediately swung back
again to admit Madame.
"My child! my child! What is it? What ails you? Quick, or it will be
too late! Ah! try, try, my child!"
She was in tears of despair.
Taking her beseeching hand, Yvonne moved toward the stage.
"Oui, chère Madame!" she said.
The chorus swelled around her.
Oh! reine en ce jour!
rose, fell, ebbed away, and left her standing alone.
She heard a voice -- "Tell me, Venus -- " but she hardly knew it for
her own. It was all dark before her eyes -- while the mad chorus of
Kings went on, "For us, what joy!" -- thundering away along the
"Let Calchas fear!"
And then she began to sing -- to sing as she had never sung before.
Sweet, thrilling, her voice poured forth into the crowded auditorium.
The people sat spellbound. There was a moment of silence; no one
offered to applaud. And then she began again.
Oui c'est un réve,
Un réve doux d'amour --
She faltered --
La nuit lui préte son mystère,
Il doit finir avec le jour --
the voice broke. Men were standing up in the audience. One cried out:
"Il -- doit -- finir -- "
The music clashed in one great discord.
Why did the stage reel under her? What was the shouting?
Her heavy, dark hair fell down about her little white face as she sank
on her knees, and covered her as she lay her slender length along the
The orchestra and the audience sprang to their feet. The great blank
curtain rattled to the ground. A whirlwind swept over the house.
Monsieur Bordier stepped before the curtain.
"My friends!" he began, but his voice failed, and he only added,
With hardly a word the audience moved to the exits. But Braith,
turning to the right, made his way through a long, low passage and
strode toward a little stage door. It was flung open and a man hurried
"Monsieur!" called Braith. "Monsieur!"
But Monsieur Bordier was crying like a child, and kept on his way,
The narrow corridor was now filled with hurrying, excited figures in
gauze and tinsel, sham armor, and painted faces. They pressed Braith
back, but he struggled and fought his way to the door.
A Sergeant de Ville shouldered through the crowd. He was dragging a
woman along by the arm. Another policeman came behind, urging her
forward. Somehow she slipped from them and sank, cowering against the
wall. Braith's eyes met hers. She cowered still lower.
A slender, sallow man had been quietly slipping through the throng. A
red-faced fellow touched him on the shoulder.
"Pardon! I think this is Mr Emanuel Pick."
"No!" stammered the man, and started to run.
Braith blocked his way. The red-faced detective was at his side.
"So, you are Mr Emanuel Pick!"
"No!" gasped the other.
"He lies! He lies!" yelled the woman, from the floor.
The Jew reeled back and, with a piercing scream, tore at his
handcuffed wrists. Braith whispered to the detective:
"What has the woman done? What is the charge?"
"Charge? There are a dozen. The last is murder."
The woman had fainted and they carried her away. The light fell a
moment on the Jew's livid face, the next Braith stood under the dark
porch of the empty theater. The confusion was all at the stage
entrance. Here, in front, the deserted street was white and black and
silent under the electric lamps. All the lonelier for two wretched
gamins, counting their dirty sous and draggled newspapers.
When they saw Braith they started for him; one was ahead in the race,
but the other gained on him, reached him, dealt him a merciless blow,
and panted up to Braith.
The defeated one, crying bitterly, gathered up his scattered papers
from the gutter.
"Curse you, Rigaud! you hound!" he cried, in a passion of tears.
"Curse you, son of a murderer!"
The first gamin whipped out a paper and thrust it toward Braith.
"Buy it, Monsieur!" he whined, "the last edition, full account of
the Boulangist riot this morning; burning of the Prussian flags;
explosion on a warship; murder in Germany, discovered by an English
Milord -- "
Braith was walking fast; the gamin ran by his side for a moment, but
soon gave it up. Braith walked faster and faster; he was almost
running when he reached his own door. There was a light in his window.
He rushed up the stairs and into his room.
Clifford was sitting there, his head in his hands. Braith touched him,
trying to speak lightly.
"Are you asleep, old man?"
Clifford raised a colorless face to his.
"What is it? Can't you speak?"
But Clifford only pointed to a crumpled telegram lying on the table,
and hid his face again as Braith raised the paper to the light.
In the Quarter was first published in 1894 and the text is in the
public domain. The transcription was done by William McClain, 2003.
A printed version of this book is available from Sattre Press
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