The Man From Brodney's
George Barr McCutcheon
Part 3 out of 6
They stood at the edge of and apart from the crowd of curious Moslems,
who had moved up in advance of the procession.
"A gala day in Aratat," observed the stubby Mr. Britt. "We are to have
the whole party over night up at the chateau. Perhaps the advent of
strangers may heal the new breach between Mrs. Browne and Lady
Deppingham. They haven't been on speaking terms since day before
yesterday. Did Miss Pelham tell you about it? Well, it seems that Mrs.
Browne thinks that Lady Agnes is carrying on a flirtation with
Browne--Hello! By thunder, old man, she's--she's speaking to you!" He
turned in astonishment to look at his companion's face.
The Enemy was staring, transfixed, at the young woman in white who sat
beside Lady Deppingham. He seemed paralysed for the moment. Then his
helmet came off with a rush; a dazed smile of recognition lighted his
face. The very pretty young woman in the wide hat was leaning forward
and smiling at him, a startled, uncertain look in her eyes. Lady
Deppingham was glancing open-mouthed from one to the other. The Enemy
stood there in the sun, bareheaded, dazed, unbelieving, while the
carriage whirled past and up the street. Both women turned to look back
at him as they rounded the corner into the avenue; both were smiling.
"I must be dreaming," murmured the Enemy.
Britt took him by the arm. "Do you know her?" he asked. The Enemy turned
upon him with a radiant gleam in his once sombre disconsolate eyes.
"Do you think I'd be grinning at her like a damned fool if I didn't? Why
the dickens didn't you tell me that it was the Princess Genevra of
Rapp-Thorberg who was coming?"
"Never thought of it. I didn't know you were interested in princesses,
CHASE PERFORMS A MIRACLE
Hollingsworth Chase now felt that he was on neutral ground with the
Princess Genevra. He could hardly credit his senses. When he left
Rapp-Thorberg in disgrace some months before, his susceptibilities were
in a most thoroughly chastened condition; a cat might look at a king,
but he had forsworn peeping into the secret affairs of princesses.
His strange connection with the Skaggs will case is easily explained.
After leaving Thorberg he went directly to Paris; thence, after ten
days, to London, where he hoped to get on as a staff correspondent for
one of the big dailies. One day at the Savage Club, he listened to a
recital of the amazing conditions which attended the execution of
Skaggs's will. He had shot wild game in South Africa with Sir John
Brodney, chief counsellor for the islanders, and, as luck would have it,
was to lunch with him on the following day at the Savoy.
His soul hungered for excitement, novelty. The next day, when Sir John
suddenly proposed that he go out to Japat as the firm's representative,
he leaped at the chance. There would be no difficulty about certain
little irregularities, such as his nationality and the fact that he was
not a member of the London bar: Sir John stood sponsor for him, and the
islanders would take him on faith.
In truth, Rasula was more than glad to have the services of an American.
He had heard Wyckholme talk of the manner in which civil causes were
conducted and tried in the United States, and he felt that one Yankee on
the scene was worth ten Englishmen at home. Doubtless he got his
impressions of the genus Englishman by observation of the devoted
The good-looking Mr. Chase, writhing under the dread of exposure as an
international jackass, welcomed the opportunity to get as far away from
civilisation as possible. He knew that the Prince Karl story would not
lie dormant. It would be just as well for him if he were where the lash
of ridicule could not reach him, for he was thin-skinned.
We know how and when he came to the island and we have renewed our short
acquaintance with him under peculiar circumstances. It would be sadly
remiss, however, to suppress the information that he could not banish
the fair face of the Princess Genevra from his thoughts during the long
voyage; nor would it be stretching the point to say that his day dreams
were of her as he sat and smoked in his bungalow porch.
Before Chase left London, Sir John Brodney bluntly cautioned him against
the dangers that lurked in Lady Deppingham's eyes.
"She won't leave you a peg to stand on, Chase, if you seek an
encounter," he said. "She's pretty and she's clever, and she's made
fools of better men than you, my boy. I don't say she's a bad lot,
because she's too smart for that. But I will say that a dozen men are in
love with her to-day. I suppose you'll say that she can't help that. I'm
only warning you on the presumption that they don't seem to be able to
help it, either. Remember, my boy, you are going out there to offset,
not to beset, Lady Deppingham."
Chase learned more of the attractive Lady Agnes and her court before he
left England. Common report credited her with being dangerously pretty,
scandalously unwise, eminently virtuous, distractingly adventurous in
the search for pleasure, charmingly unscrupulous in her treatment of
men's hearts, but withal, sufficiently clever to dodge the consequences
of her widespread though gentle iniquities. He was quite prepared to
admire her, and yet equally resolved to avoid her. Something told him
that he was not of the age and valor of St. Anthony. He went out to
Japat with a stern resolution to lead himself not into temptation; to
steer clear of the highway of roses and stick close to the thorny paths
below. Besides, he felt that he deserved some sort of punishment for
looking so high in the Duchy of Rapp-Thorberg.
Not that he was in love with the proud Princess Genevra; he denied that
to himself a hundred times a day as he sat in his bungalow and smoked
the situation over.
He had proved to himself, quite beyond a doubt, that he was not in love,
when, like a bolt from a clear sky, she stepped out of the oblivion into
which he had cast her, to smile upon him without warning. It was most
unfair. Her smile had been one of the most difficult obstacles to
overcome in the effort to return a fair and final verdict.
As he sat in the shade of his bungalow porch on the afternoon of her
arrival, he lamented that every argument he had presented in the cause
of common sense had been knocked into a cocked hat by that electric
smile. Could anything be more miraculous than that she should come to
the unheard-of island of Japat--unless, possibly, that he should be
there when she came? She was there for him to look upon and love and
lose, just as he had dreamed all these months. It mattered little that
she was now the wife of Prince Karl of Brabetz; to him she was still the
Princess Genevra of Rapp-Thorberg.
If he had ever hoped that she might be more to him than an unattainable
divinity, he was not fool enough to imagine that such a hope could be
realised. She was a princess royal, he the slave who stood afar off and
worshipped beyond the barrier of her disdain. In his leather pocketbook
lay the ever-present reminder that she could be no more than a dream to
him. It was the clipping from a Paris newspaper, announcing that the
Princess Genevra was to wed Prince Karl during the Christmas holidays.
He had seen the Christmas holidays come and go with the certain
knowledge in his heart that they had given her to Brabetz as the most
glorious present that man had ever received. If he was tormented by this
thought at the happiest season of the year, his crustiness was
attributed by others to the loneliness of his life on the island. If he
grew leaner and more morose, no one knew that it was due to the passing
of a woman.
Now she was come to the island and, so far as he had been able to see,
there was no sign of the Prince of Brabetz in attendance. The absence of
the little musician set Chase to thinking, then to speculating and, in
the end, to rejoicing. Her uncle by marriage, an English nobleman of
high degree, in gathering his friends for the long cruise, evidently had
left the Prince out of his party, for what reason Chase could not
imagine. To say that the omission was gratifying to the tall American
would be too simple a statement. There is no telling to what heights his
thoughts might have carried him on that sultry afternoon if they had not
been harshly checked by the arrival of a messenger from the chateau. His
blood leaped with anticipation. Selim brought word that the messenger
was waiting to deliver a note. The Enemy, who shall be called by his
true name hereafter, steadied himself and commanded that the man be
Could it be possible--but no! _She_ would not be writing to him. What a
ridiculous thought! Lady Deppingham? Ah, there was the solution! She was
acting as the go-between, she was the intermediary! She and the Princess
had put their cunning heads together--but, alas! His hopes fell flat as
the note was put into his eager hand. It was from Britt.
Still he broke the seal with considerable eagerness. As he perused the
somewhat lengthy message, his disappointment gave way to a no uncertain
form of excitement; with its conclusion, he was on his feet, his eyes
gleaming with enthusiasm.
"By George!" he exclaimed. "What luck! Things are coming my way with a
vengeance. I'll do it this very night, thanks to Britt. And I must not
forget Browne. Ah, what a consolation it is to know that there are
Americans wherever one goes. Selim! Selim!" He was standing as straight
as a corporal and his eyes were glistening with the fire of battle when
Selim came up and forgot to salute, so great was his wonder at the
transformation. "Get word to the men that I want every mother's son of
'em to attend a meeting in the market-place to-night at nine. Very
important, tell 'em. Tell Von Blitz that he's _got_ to be there. I'm
going to show him and my picturesque friend, Rasula, that I am here to
stay. And, Selim, tell that messenger to wait. There's an answer."
Long before nine o'clock the men of Japat began to gather in the market
and trading place. It was evident that they expected and were prepared
for the crisis. Von Blitz and Rasula, who had played second fiddle until
he could stand it no longer, were surprised and somewhat staggered by
the peremptory tone of the call, but could see no chance for the
American to shift his troublesome burden. The subdued, sullen air of the
men who filled the torchlighted market-place brooded ill for any attempt
Chase might make to reconcile them to his peculiar views, no matter how
thoroughly they may have been misunderstood by the people. Explanations
were easy to make, but difficult to establish. Chase could convince
them, no doubt, that he was not guilty of double dealing, but it would
be next to impossible to extinguish the blaze of jealousy that was
consuming the reason of the head men of Japat, skilfully fed by the
tortured Von Blitz and blown upon ceaselessly by the breath of scandal.
Five hundred dark, sinister men were gathered in knots about the square.
They talked in subdued tones and looked from fiery eyes that belied
their outward calm.
Hollingsworth Chase, attended by Selim, came down from his mountain
retreat. He heard the sibilant hiss of the scorned Persians as he passed
among them on the outskirts of the crowd; he observed the threatening
attitude of the men who waited and watched; he saw the white, ugly face
of Von Blitz quivering with triumph; he felt the breath of disaster upon
his cheek. And yet he walked among them without fear, his head erect,
his eyes defiant. He knew that a crisis had come, but he smiled as he
walked up to meet it, with a confidence that was sublime.
The market-place was a large open tract in the extreme west end of the
town, some distance removed from the business street and the pier. On
two sides were the tents of the fruit peddlers and the vegetable
hucksters, negroes who came in from the country with their produce. The
other sides were taken up by the fabric and gewgaw venders, while in the
centre stood the platforms from which the auctioneers offered treasures
from the Occident. Through a break in the foothills, the chateau was
plainly discernible, the sea being obscured from view by the dense
forest that crowned the cliffs.
Chase made his way boldly to the nearest platform, exchanging bows with
the surprised Von Blitz and the saturnine Rasula, who stood quite near.
The men of Japat slowly drew close in as he mounted the platform, The
gleaming eyes that shone in the light of the torches did not create any
visible sign of uneasiness in the American, even though down in his
heart he trembled. He knew the double chance he was to take. From where
he stood looking out over those bronze faces, he could pick out the
scowling husbands who hated him because their wives hated them. He could
see Ben Ali, the master of two beauties from Teheran and the handsome
dancing girl from Cairo; there was Amriph, who basked erstwhile in the
sunshine of a bargain from Damascus and a seraph from Bagdad, but who
now groped about in the blackness of their contempt; and others, all of
whom felt in their bitter hearts that their misery was due to the
prowess of this gallant figure.
Afar off stood the group of women who had inspired this hatred and
distrust. Behind them, despised and uncountenanced by the Oriental
elect, were crowded the native women, who, down in their hearts, loathed
the usurpers. It was Chase's hope that the husbands of these simple
women would ultimately stand at his side in the fight for supremacy--and
they were vastly in the majority. If he could convince these men that
his dealings with them were honest, Von Blitz could "go hang."
He faced the crowd, knowing that all there were against him. "Von
Blitz!" he called suddenly. The German started and stepped back
involuntarily, as if he had been reprimanded.
"I've called this meeting in order to give you a chance to say to my
face some of the things you are saying behind my back. Thank God, all of
you men understand English. I want you to hear what Von Blitz has to say
in public, and then I want you to hear what I say to him. Incidentally,
you may have something to say for yourselves. In the first place, I want
you all to understand just how I stand in respect to my duties as your
legal representative. Von Blitz and Rasula and others, I hear, have
undertaken to discredit my motives as the agent of your London advisers.
Let me say, right here, that the man who says that I have played you
false in the slightest degree, is a liar--a _damned_ liar, if you prefer
it that way. You have been told that I am selling you out to the lawyers
for the opposition. That is lie number one. You have been led to believe
that I make false reports to your London solicitors. Lie number two. You
have been poisoned with the story that I covet certain women in this
town--too numerous to mention, I believe. That is lie number three. They
are all beautiful, my friends, but I wouldn't have one of 'em as a gift.
"For the past few nights my home has been watched. I want to announce to
you that if I see anybody hanging around the bungalow after to-day, I'm
going to put a bullet through him, just as I would through a dog. Please
bear that in mind. Now, to come down to Von Blitz. You can't drive me
out of this island, old man. You have lied about me ever since I beat
you up that night. You are sacrificing the best interests of these
people in order to gratify a personal spite, in order to wreak a
personal vengeance. Stop! You can talk when I have finished. You have
set spies upon my track. You have told these husbands that their wives
need watching. You have turned them against me and against their wives,
who are as pure and virtuous as the snow which you never see. (God,
forgive me!) All this, my friend, in order to get even with me. I don't
ask you to retract anything you've said. I only intend you to know that
I can crush you as I would a peanut, if you know what that is. You----"
Von Blitz, foaming with rage, broke in: "I suppose you vill call out der
warships! We are not fools! You can fool some of----"
"Now, see here, Von Blitz, I'll show whether I can call out a warship
whenever I need one. I have never intended to ask naval help except in
case of an attack by our enemies up at the chateau. You can't believe
that I seek to turn those big guns against my own clients--the clients I
came out here to serve with my life's blood if necessary. But, hear me,
you Dutch lobster! I can have a British man-of-war here in ten hours to
take you off this island and hang you from a yard arm on the charge of
conspiracy against the Crown."
Von Blitz and Rasula laughed scornfully and turned to the crowd. The
latter began to harangue his fellows. "This man is a--a--" he began.
"A bluff!" prompted Von Blitz, glaring at his tall accuser.
"A bluff," went on Rasula. "He can do none of these things. Nor can the
Americans at the chateau. I know that they are liars. They--"
"I'll make you pay for that, Rasula. Your time is short. Men of Japat, I
don't want to serve you unless you trust me--"
A dozen voices cried: "We don't trust you!" "Dog of a Christian! Son of
a snake!" Von Blitz glowed with satisfaction.
"One moment, please! Rasula knows that I came out here to represent Sir
John Brodney. He knows how I am regarded in London. He is jealous
because I have not listened to his chatter. I am not responsible for the
probable delay in settling the estate. If you are not very careful, you
will ruin every hope for success that you may have had in the beginning.
The Crown will take it out of your hands. You've got to show yourselves
worthy of handling the affairs of this company. You can't do it if you
listen to such carrion as Von Blitz and Rasula. Oh, I'm not afraid of
you! I know that you have written to Sir John, Rasula, asking that I be
recalled. He won't recall me, rest assured, unless he throws up the
case. I have his own letters to prove that he is satisfied with my work
out here. I am satisfied that there are enough fair-minded men in this
crowd to protect me. They will stand by me in the end. I call upon--"
But a howl of dissent from the throng brought him up sharply. His face
went white and for a moment he feared the malevolence that stared at him
from all sides. He looked frequently in the direction of the distant
chateau. An anxious gleam came into his eyes--was it of despair? A
hundred men were shouting, but no one seemed to have the courage to
break over the line that he had drawn. Knives slipped from many sashes;
Von Blitz was screaming with insane laughter, pointing his finger at the
discredited American. While they shouted and cursed, his gaze never left
the cleft in the hills. He did not attempt to cry them down; the effort
would have been in vain. Suddenly a wild, happy light came into his
anxious, searching eyes. He gave a mighty shout and raised his hands,
Selim, clinging to his side, also had seen the sky-rocket which arose up
from the chateau and dropped almost instantly into the wall of trees.
There was something in the face and voice of the American that quelled
the riotous disorder.
"You fools!" he shouted, "take warning! I have told you that I would not
turn the guns of England and America against you unless you turned
against me. I am your friend--but, by the great Mohammed you'll pay for
my life with every one of your own if you resort to violence. Listen!
To-day I learned that my life was threatened. I sent a message in the
air to the nearest battleship. There is not an hour in the day or night
that I or the people in the chateau cannot call upon our governments for
help. My call to-day has been answered, as I knew it would be. There is
always a warship near at hand, my friends. It is for you to say whether
a storm of shot and shell--"
Von Blitz leaped upon a platform and shouted madly: "Fools! Don't
believe him! He cannot bring der ships here! He lies--he lies! He--"
At that moment, a shrill clamour of voices arose in the distance--the
cries of women and children. Chase's heart gave a great bound of joy. He
knew what it meant. The crowd turned to learn the cause of this sudden
disturbance. Across the square, coming from the town, raced the women
and children, gesticulating wildly and screaming with excitement.
Chase pointed his finger at Von Blitz and shouted:
"I can't, eh? There's a British warship standing off the harbour now,
and her guns are trained--"
But he did not complete the astounding, stupefying sentence. The women
"The warship! The warship! Fly! Fly!"
In a second, the entire assemblage was racing furiously, doubtingly, yet
fearfully toward the pier. Von Blitz and Rasula shouted in vain. They
were left with Chase, who smiled triumphantly upon their ghastly faces.
"Gentlemen, they are not deceived. There _is_ a warship out there. You
came near to showing your hand to-night. Now come along with me, and
I'll show my hand to you. Rasula, you'd better draw in your claws.
You're entitled to some consideration. But Von Blitz! Jacob, you are
standing on very thin ice. I can have you shot to-morrow morning."
Von Blitz sputtered and snarled. "It is all a lie! It is a trick!" He
would have drawn his revolver had not Rasula grasped his arm. The native
lawyer dragged him off toward the pier, half-doubting his own senses.
Just outside the harbour, plainly distinguishable in the moonlight, lay
a great cruiser, her searchlights whipping the sky and sea with long
The gaping, awe-struck crowd in the street parted to let Chase pass
through on his way to the bungalow. He was riding one of Wyckholme's
thoroughbreds, a fiery, beautiful grey. His manner was that of a
medieval conqueror. He looked neither to right nor to left, but kept his
eyes straight ahead, ignoring the islanders as completely as if they did
"It's more like a Christian Endeavour meeting than it was ten minutes
ago," he was saying to himself, all the time wondering when some
reckless unbeliever would hurl a knife at his back. He gravely winked
his eye in the direction of the chateau. "Good old Britt!" he muttered
in his exultation.
THE LANTERN ABOVE
Chase sat for hours on his porch that night, gazing down upon the
chateau. Lights gleamed in a hundred of its windows. He knew that
revelry held forth in what he was pleased enough to call the feudal
castle, and yet his heart warmed toward the gay people who danced and
sang while he thirsted at the gates.
The bitterness of his own isolation, the ostracism that circumstance had
forced upon him, would have been maddening on this night had not all
rancour been tempered by the glorious achievement in the market-place.
He wondered if the Princess knew what he had dared and what he had
accomplished in the early hours of the night. He wondered if they had
pointed out his solitary light to her--if, now and then, she bestowed a
casual glance upon that twinkling star of his. The porch lantern hung
almost directly above his head.
He was not fool enough to think that he had permanently pulled the wool
over the eyes of the islanders. Sooner or later they would come to know
that he had tricked them, and then--well, he could only shake his head
in dubious contemplation of the hundred things that might happen. He
smiled as he smoked, however, for he looked down upon a world that
thought only of the night at hand.
The chateau was indeed the home of revelry. The pent-up, struggling
spirits of those who had dwelt therein for months in solitude arose in
the wild stampede for freedom. All petty differences between Lady
Deppingham and Drusilla Browne, and they were quite common now, were
forgotten in the whirlwind of relief that came with the strangers from
the yacht. Mrs. Browne's good-looking eager husband revelled in the
prospect of this delirious night--this almost Arabian night. He was
swept off his feet by the radiant Princess--the Scheherezade of his
boyhood dreams; his blithe heart thumped as it had not done since he was
a boy. The Duchess of N---- and the handsome Marchioness of B---- came
into his tired, hungry life at a moment when it most needed the light.
It was he who fairly dragged Lady Agnes aside and proposed the banquet,
the dance, the concert--everything--and it was he who carried out the
hundred spasmodic instructions that she gave.
Late in the night, long after the dinner and the dance, the tired but
happy company flocked to the picturesque hanging garden for rest and the
last refreshment. Every man was in his ducks or flannels, every woman in
the coolest, the daintiest, the sweetest of frocks. The night was clear
and hot; the drinks were cold.
The hanging garden was a wonderfully constructed open-air plaisance
suspended between the chateau itself and the great cliff in whose shadow
it stood. The cliff towered at least three hundred feet above the roof
of the spreading chateau, a veritable stone wall that extended for a
mile or more in either direction. Its crest was covered with trees
beyond which, in all its splendour, rose the grass-covered mountain
peak. Here and there, along the face of this rocky palisade, tiny
streams of water leaked through and came down in a never-ending spray,
leaving the rocks cool and slimy from its touch.
Near the chateau there was a real waterfall, reminding one in no small
sense of the misty veils at Lauterbrunnen or Giesbach. The swift stream
which obtained life from these falls, big and little, ran along the base
of the cliff for some distance and was then diverted by means of a deep,
artificial channel into an almost complete circuit of the chateau,
forming the moat. It sped along at the foot of the upper terrace, a wide
torrent that washed between solid walls of masonry which rose to a
height of not less than ten feet on either side. There were two
drawbridges--seldom used but always practicable. One, a handsome example
of bridge building, crossed the current at the terminus of the grand
approach which led up from the park; the other opened the way to the
stables and the servants' quarters at the rear. A small, stationary
bridge crossed the vicious stream immediately below the hanging garden
and led to the ladders by which one ascended to the caverns that ran far
back into the mountain.
Two big, black, irregular holes in the face of the cliff marked the
entrance to these deep, rambling caves, wonderful caverns wrought by the
convulsions of the dead volcano, cracks made by these splintering
earthquakes when the island was new.
The garden hung high between the building and the cliff, swung by a
score of great steel cables. These cables were riveted soundly in the
solid rock of the cliff at one end and fastened as safely to the stone
walls of the chateau at the other. It swung staunchly from its moorings,
with the constancy of a suspension bridge, and trembled at the slightest
It was at least a hundred feet square. The floor was covered with a foot
or more of soil in which the rich grass and plants of the tropics
flourished. There were tiny flower beds in the center; baby palms,
patchouli plants and a maze of interlacing vines marked the edges of
this wonderful garden in mid-air. Cool fountains sprayed the air at
either end of the green enclosure: the illusion was complete.
The walls surrounding the garden were three feet high and were intended
to represent the typical English garden wall of brick. To gain access to
the hanging garden, one crossed a narrow bridge, which led from the
second balcony of the chateau. There was not an hour in the day when
protection from the sun could not be found in this little paradise.
Bobby Browne was holding forth, with his usual exuberance, on the
magnificence of the British navy. The Marquess of B----, uncle to the
Princess, swelled with pride as he sat at the table and tasted his julep
through the ever-obliging straw. The Princess, fanning herself wearily,
leaned back and looked up into the mystic night, the touch of dreamland
caressing her softly. The others--eight or ten men and half as many
women--listened to the American in twice as many moods.
"There she is now, sleeping out there in the harbour, a great, big thing
with the kindest of hearts inside of those steel ribs. Her Majesty's
ship, the _King's Own!_ Think of it! She convoys a private yacht; she
stops off at this beastly island to catch her breath and to see that all
are safe; then she charges off into the horizon like a bird that has no
home. Ah, I tell you, it's wonderful. Samrat, fill the Count's glass
again. May I offer you a cigarette, Princess? By the way, I wonder how
Chase came off with his side show?"
"Saunders tells me that he was near to being butchered, but luck was
with him," said Deppingham. "His ship came home."
"It was a daring trick. I'm glad he pulled it off. He's a man, that
fellow is," said Browne. "See, Princess, away up there in the mountain
is his home. There's a light--see it? He keeps rather late hours, you
"Tell me about him," said the Princess suddenly. She arose and walked to
the vine-covered wall, followed by Bobby Browne.
"I don't know much to tell you," said he. "He's made an enemy or two and
they are trying to drive him out. I'd be rather sorry to see him go.
We've asked him down here, just because we can't bear to think of a
fellow-creature wasting his days in utter loneliness. But he has, so
far, declined with thanks. The islanders are beginning to hate him. They
distrust him, Britt says. Of course, you know why we are here, you--"
"Every one knows, Mr. Browne. You are the most interesting quartette in
the world just now. Every one is wondering how it is going to end. What
a pity you _can't_ marry Lady Agnes."
"Oh, I say!" protested Browne. She laughed merrily.
"But how dull it must be for Mr. Chase! Does he complain?"
"I can't say that he does. Britt--that's my lawyer--Britt says he's
never heard a murmur from him. He takes his medicine with a smile. I
like that sort of a fellow and I wish he'd be a little more friendly. It
couldn't interfere with his duties and I don't see where the harm would
come in for any of us."
"He has learned to know and keep his place," said she coolly. Perhaps
she was thinking of his last night in the palace garden. Away up there
in the darkness gleamed his single, lonely, pathetic little light.
"Isn't it rather odd, Mr. Browne, that his light should be burning at
two o'clock in the morning? Is it his custom to sit up--"
"I've never noticed it before, now you speak of it. I hope nothing
serious has happened to him. He may have been injured in--I say, if you
don't mind, I'll ask some one to telephone up to his place. It would be
beastly to let him lie up there alone if we can be of any service to--"
"Yes, do telephone," she broke in. "I am sure Lady Deppingham will
approve. No, thank you; I will stand here a while. It is cool and I love
the stars." He hurried off to the telephone, more eager than ever, now
that she had started the new thought in his brain. Five minutes later he
returned to her, accompanied by Lady Agnes. She was still looking
at--the stars? The little light among the trees could easily have been
mistaken for a star.
"Lady Deppingham called him up," said Bobby.
"And he answered in person," said her ladyship. "He seemed strangely
agitated for a moment or two, Genevra, and then he laughed--yes, laughed
in my face, although it was such a long way off. People can do what they
like over the telephone, my dear. I asked him if he was ill, or had been
hurt. He said he never felt better in his life and hadn't a scratch. He
laughed--I suppose to show me that he was all right. Then he said he was
much obliged to me for calling him up. He'd quite forgotten to go to
bed. He asked me to thank you for bringing a warship. You saved his
life. Really, one would think you were quite a heroine--or a Godsend or
something like that. I never heard anything sweeter than the way he said
good-night to me. There!"
The light in the bungalow bobbed mysteriously for an instant and then
"How far is it from here?" asked the Princess abruptly.
"Nearly two miles as the crow flies--only there are no crows here. Five
miles by the road, I fancy, isn't it, Bobby? I call him Bobby, you know,
when we are all on good terms. I don't see why I shouldn't if you stop
to think how near to being married to each other we are at this very
"I wonder if help could reach him quickly in the event of an attack?"
"It could, if he'd have the kindness to notify us by 'phone," said
"But he wouldn't telephone to us," said Lady Deppingham ruefully. "He's
not so communicative as that."
"Surely he would call upon you for help if he----"
"You don't know him, Genevra."
The Princess smiled in a vague sort of way. "I've met him quite
informally, if you remember."
"I should say it was informally. It's the most delicious story I've ever
heard. You must tell it to Mr. Browne, dear. It's all about the Enemy in
Thorberg, Mr. Browne. There's your wife calling, Bobby. She wants you to
tell that story again, about the bishop who rang the door bell."
The next morning the captain of the _King's Own_ came ashore and was
taken to the chateau for dejeuner. Late in the afternoon, the Marquess
and his party, saying farewell to the Princess and the revived legatees,
put out to the yacht and steamed away in the wake of the great warship.
The yacht was to return in a month, to pick up the Princess.
Genevra, her maids, her men and her boxes, her poodle and her dachshund,
were left behind for the month of March. Not without misgiving, it must
be said, for the Marquess, her uncle, was not disposed to look upon the
island situation as a spot of long-continued peace, even though its
hereditary companion, Prosperity, might reign steadily. But she refused
to listen to their warnings. She smiled securely and said she had come
to visit Lady Agnes and she would not now disappoint her for the world.
All this, and much more, passed between them.
"You won't be able to get help as cleverly and as timely as that
American chap got it last night," protested the Marquess. "Warships
don't browse around like gulls, you know. Karl will never forgive me if
I leave you here----"
"Karl is of a very forgiving nature, uncle, dear," said Genevra sweetly.
"He forgave you for defending Mr. Chase, because you are such a nice
Englishman. I've induced him to forgive Mr. Chase because he's such a
nice American---although Mr. Chase doesn't seem to know it---and I'm quite
sure Karl would shake his hand if he should come upon him anywhere.
Leave Karl to me, uncle."
"And leave you to the cannibals, or whatever they are. I can't think of
it! It's out of the--"
"Take him away, Aunt Gretchen. 'And come again some other day,'" she
And so they sailed away without her, just as she had intended from the
beginning. Lord Deppingham stood beside her on the pier as the shore
party waved its adieus to the yacht.
"By Jove, Genevra, I hope no harm comes to you here in this beastly
place," said he, a look of anxiety in his honest eyes. "There goes our
salvation, if any rumpus should come up. We can't call 'em out of the
sky as Chase did last night. Lucky beggar! That fellow Chase is ripping,
by Jove. That's what he is. I wish he'd open up his heart a bit and ask
us into that devilish American bar of his."
"He owes us something for the warship we delivered to him last night,"
said Bobby. "He has made good with his warship story, after all, thanks
to the _King's Own_ and Britt."
"And the fairy Princess," added Lady Deppingham.
"I am doubly glad I came, if you include me in the miracle," said
Genevra, shuddering a little as she looked at the lounging natives.
"Isn't it rather more of a miracle that I should come upon mine ancient
champion in this unheard-of corner of the globe?"
"I'd like to hear the story of Chase and his Adventures in the Queen's
Garden," reminded Bobby Browne.
"I'll tell it to you to-night, my children," said the Princess, as they
started for the palanquins.
Hollingsworth Chase dodged into the American bar just in time to escape
the charge of spying.
MR. SAUNDERS HAS A PLAN
Miss Pelham's affair with Thomas Saunders by this time had reached the
stage where observers feel a hesitancy about twitting the parties most
concerned. Even Britt, the bravest jester of them all, succumbed to the
prevailing wind when he saw how it blew. He got in the lee of popular
opinion and reefed the sails of the good ship _Tantalus_.
"Let true love take its course," he remarked to Bobby Browne one day,
after they had hearkened to Deppingham's furious complaint that he
couldn't find Saunders when he wanted him if he happened to be wanted
simultaneously by Miss Pelham. "Miss Pelham is a fine girl. Your wife
likes her and looks after her. She's a clever girl, much cleverer than
Saunders would be if he were a girl. She's found out that he earns a
thousand a year and that his mother is a very old woman. That shows
foresight. She says she's just crazy about London, although she doesn't
know where Hammersmith is. That shows discretion. She's anxious to see
the boats at Putney and talks like an encyclopaedia about Kew Gardens.
That shows diplomacy. You see, Saunders lives in Hammersmith, not far
from the bridge, all alone with his mother, who owns the house and
garden. It's all very appealing to Miss Pelham, who has got devilish
tired of seeing the universe from a nineteenth story in Broadway. I
heard her tell Saunders that she keeps a couple of geranium pots on the
window sill near which she sits all day. She says she's keen about
garden flowers. Looks serious to me."
"She's a very nice girl," agreed Bobby Browne.
"A very saucy one," added Deppingham, who had come a severe cropper in
his single attempt to interest her in a mild flirtation.
"She's off with Saunders now," went on Britt. "That's why you can't find
him, my lord. If you really want him, however, I think you can reach him
by strolling through the lower end of the park and shouting. For
heaven's sake, don't fail to shout."
"I _do_ want him, confound him. I want to ask him how many days there
are left before our time is up on the island. Demmed annoying, that I
can't have legal advice when I--"
"How many days have you been here?"
"How the devil should I know? That's what we've got Saunders here for.
He's supposed to tell us when to go home, and all that sort of thing,
"It isn't going to be so bad, now that the Princess has come to cheer us
up a bit," put in Bobby Browne. "Life has a new aspect."
"I say, Browne," burst out Deppingham, irrelevantly, his eyeglass
clenched in the tight grasp of a perplexed frown, "would you mind
telling me that story about the bishop and the door bell again?"
Britt laughed hoarsely, his chubby figure shivering with emotion.
"You've heard that story ten times, to my certain knowledge,
His lordship glared at him. "See here, Britt, you'll oblige me by--"
"Very well," interrupted Britt readily. "I forget once in a while."
"The trouble with you Americans is this," growled Deppingham, turning to
Browne and speaking as if Britt was not in existence: "you have no
dividing line. 'Gad, you wouldn't catch Saunders sticking his nose in
where he wasn't wanted. He's--"
"I was under the impression that you wanted him," interrupted Britt,
most good-naturedly, his stubby legs far apart, his hands in his
"I say, Browne, would you mind coming into my room? I want to hear that
story, but I'm hanged if I'll listen to it out here."
The oft-told story of the bishop and the bell, of course, has no bearing
upon the affairs of Miss Pelham and Thomas Saunders. And, for that
matter, the small affairs of that worthy couple have little or no
bearing upon the chief issue involved in this tale. Nobody cares a rap
whether Saunders, middle-aged and unheroic bachelor, with his precise
little "burnsides," won the heart of the pert Miss Pelham, precise in
character if not always so in type. It is of no serious consequence that
she kept him from calling her Minnie until the psychological moment, and
it really doesn't matter that Thomas was days in advancing to the
moment. It is only necessary to break in upon them occasionally for the
purpose of securing legal advice, or the equally unromantic desire to
have a bit of typewriting done. We are not alone in this heartless and
uncharitable obtrusion. Deppingham, phlegmatic soul, was forever
disturbing Saunders with calls to duty, although Saunders was brutish
enough, in his British way, to maintain (in confidence, of course) that
he was in the employ of Lady Deppingham, or no one at all. Nevertheless,
he always lived under the shadow of duty. At any moment, his lordship
was liable to send for him to ask the time of day--or some equally
important question. And this brings us to the hour when Saunders
unfolded his startling solution to the problem that confronted them all.
First, he confided in Britt, soberly, sagely and in perfect good faith.
Britt was bowled over. He stared at Saunders and gasped. Nearly two
minutes elapsed before he could find words to reply; which proves
conclusively that it must have been something of a shock to him. When at
last he did express himself, however, there was nothing that could have
been left unsaid--absolutely nothing. He went so far as to call Saunders
a doddering fool and a great many other things that Saunders had not in
the least expected.
The Englishman was stubborn. They had it back and forth, from legal and
other points of view, and finally Britt gave in to his colleague,
reserving the right to laugh when it was all over. Saunders, with a
determination that surprised even himself, called for a conference of
all parties in Wyckholme's study, at four o'clock.
It was nearly six before Lady Deppingham arrived, although she had but
forty steps to traverse. Mr. and Mrs. Browne were there fully half an
hour earlier. Deppingham appeared at four and then went away. He was
discovered asleep in the hanging garden, however, and at once joined the
others. Miss Pelham was present with her note book. The Princess was
invited by Lady Deppingham, who held no secrets from her, but the royal
young lady preferred to go out walking with her dogs. Pong, the red
cocker, attended the session and twice snarled at Mr. Saunders, for no
other reason than that it is a dog's prerogative to snarl when and at
whom he chooses.
"Now, what's it all about, Saunders?" demanded Deppingham, with a wide
yawn. Saunders looked hurt.
"It is high time we were discussing some way out of our difficulties,"
he said. "Under ordinary circumstances, my lady, I should not have
called into joint consultation those whom I may be pardoned for
designating as our hereditary foes. Especially Mr. Browne. But, as my
plan to overcome the obstacle which has always stood in our way requires
the co-operation of Mr. Browne, I felt safe in asking him to be present.
Mrs. Browne's conjugal interest is also worthy of consideration." Mrs.
Browne sniffed perceptibly and stared at the speaker. "But five weeks
remain before our stay is over. We all know, by this time, that there is
little or no likelihood of the estate being closed on schedule time. I
think it is clear, from the advices we have, that the estate will be
tied up in the courts for some time to come, possibly a year or two.
From authoritative sources, we learn that the will is to be broken. The
apparent impossibility of marriage between Lady Deppingham and Mr.
Browne naturally throws our joint cause into jeopardy. There would be no
controversy, of course, if the terms of the will could be carried out in
that respect. The islanders understand our position and seem secure in
their rights. They imagine that they have us beaten on the face of
things. Consequently they are jolly well upset by the news that we are
to contest the will in the home courts. They are, from what I hear and
observe, pretty thoroughly angered. Now, the thing for us to do is to
He came to this conclusion with startling abruptness. Four of his
hearers stared at him in blank amazement.
"Get married?" murmured first one, then another.
"Are you crazy?" demanded Browne. Britt was grinning broadly.
"Certainly not!" snapped Saunders.
"Oh, by Jove!" exclaimed Deppingham, relieved. "I see. You mean _you_
contemplate getting married. I congratulate you. You gave me quite a
"I don't mean anything of the sort, my lord," said Saunders getting very
red in the face. Miss Pelham looked up from her note book quickly. He
winked at her, and her ladyship saw him do it. "I mean that it is high
time that Lady Deppingham and Mr. Browne were getting married. We
haven't much time to spare. It--"
"Good Lord!" gasped Bobby Browne. "You _are_ crazy, after all."
"Open the window and give some air," said Britt coolly.
"See here, Saunders, what the devil is the matter with you?" roared
"My lord, I am here to act as your legal adviser," said Saunders with
dignity. "May I be permitted to proceed?"
"Rather queer legal advice, 'pon my word."
"Please let him explain," put in Mrs. Browne, whose sense of humour was
strongly attracted by this time. "If there is anything more to be
learned concerning matrimony, I'd like to know it."
"Yes, Mr. Saunders, you may proceed," said Lady Agnes, passing a hand
over her bewildered eyes.
"Thank you, my lady. Well, here it is in a nutshell: I have not spoken
of it before, but you and Mr. Browne can very easily comply with the
provisions of the will. You can be married at any time. Now, I--"
"And where do I come in?" demanded Deppingham, sarcastically.
"Yes, and I?" added Mrs. Browne. "You forget us, Mr. Saunders."
"I include Mrs. Browne," amended Deppingham. "Are we to be assassinated?
By Jove, clever idea of yours, Saunders. Simplifies matters
"I hear no objection from the heirs," remarked Saunders, meaningly.
Whereupon Lady Agnes and Bobby came out of their stupor and protested
"Miss Pelham," said Britt, breaking in sharply, "I trust you are getting
all of this down. I wish to warn you, ladies and gentlemen, that _I_
expect to overthrow the will on the ground that there is insanity on
both sides. You'll oblige me by uttering just what you feel."
"Why, this is perfectly ridiculous," cried Lady Agnes. "Our souls are
not our own."
"Your minds are the only things I am interested in," said Britt calmly.
"My plan is very simple--" began Saunders helplessly.
"Demmed simple," growled Deppingham.
"We are living on an island where polygamy is practised and tolerated.
Why can't we take advantage of the custom and beat the natives at their
own game? That's the ticket!"
Of course, this proposition, simple as it sounded, brought forth a storm
of laughter and expostulation, but Saunders held his ground. He listened
to a dozen jeering remarks in patient dignity, and then got the floor
"You have only to embrace Mohammedanism or Paganism, or whatever it is,
temporarily. Just long enough to get married and comply with the terms.
Then, I daresay, you could resume your Christian doctrine once more,
after a few weeks, I'd say, and the case is won."
"I pay Lady Deppingham the compliment by saying that it would be most
difficult for me to become a Christian again," said Browne smoothly,
bowing to the flushed Englishwoman.
"How very sweet of you," she said, with a grimace which made Drusilla
shiver with annoyance.
"You don't need to live together, of course," floundered Saunders,
getting rather beyond his depth.
"Well, that's a concession on your part," said Mrs. Browne, a flash in
"I never heard of such an asinine proposition," sputtered Deppingham.
Saunders went completely under at that.
"On the other hand," he hastened to remark, "I'm sure it would be quite
legal if you did live to----"
"Stop him, for heaven's sake," screamed Lady Agnes, bursting into
"Stop him? Why?" demanded her husband, suddenly seeing what he regarded
as a rare joke. "Let's hear him out. By Jove, there's more to it than I
thought. Go on, Saunders."
"Of course, if you are going to be nasty about it--" began Saunders in a
"I can't see anything nasty about it," said Browne. "I'll admit that our
wife and our husband may decide to be stubborn and unreasonable, but it
sounds rather attractive to me."
"Robert!" from his wife.
"He's only joking, Mrs. Browne," explained Deppingham magnanimously.
"Now, let me understand you, Saunders. You say they can be married
according to the customs--which, I take it, are the laws--of the
islanders. Wouldn't they be remanded for bigamy sooner or later?"
"They don't bother the Mormons, do they, Mr. Browne?" asked Saunders
triumphantly. "Well, who is going to object among us?"
"I am!" exclaimed Deppingham. "Your plan provides Browne with two
charming wives and gives me but one. There's nothing to compel Mrs.
Browne to marry me."
"But, my lord," said Saunders, "doesn't the plan give Lady Deppingham
two husbands? It's quite a fair division."
"It would make Lord Deppingham my husband-in-law, I imagine," said
Drusilla quaintly. "I've always had a horror of husbands-in-law."
"And you would be my wife-in-law," supplemented Lady Agnes. "How
"Saunders," said Deppingham soberly, "I must oppose your plan. It's
quite unfair to two innocent and uninvolved parties. What have we done
that we should be exempt from polygamy?"
"You are not exempt," exclaimed the harassed solicitor. "You are merely
not _obliged_ to, that's all. You can do as you choose about it, I'm
sure. I'm sorry my plan causes so much levity. It is meant for the good
of our cause. The will doesn't say how many wives Mr. Browne shall have.
It simply says that Agnes Ruthven shall be his wife. He isn't
restricted, you know. He can be a polygamist if he likes. I ask Mr.
Britt if there is anything in the document which specifically says he
shall _not_ have more than one wife. Polygamy is quite legal in the
United States, and he is an American citizen. I read about a Mormon chap
marrying a whole Sunday-school class not long ago."
"You're right," said Britt. "The will doesn't specify. But, my dear
Saunders, you are overlooking your own client in this plan."
"I don't quite understand, Mr. Britt."
"As I understand the laws on this island--the church laws at least--a
man can have as many wives as he likes. Well, that's all very well for
Mr. Browne. But isn't it also a fact that a woman can have no more than
one husband? Lady Deppingham has one husband. She can't take another
without first getting rid of this one."
"And, I say, Saunders," added Deppingham, "the native way of disposing
of husbands is rather trying, I've heard. Six or seven jabs with a long
knife is the most approved way, isn't it, Britt?"
"Imagine Lady Deppingham going to the altar all covered with gore!" said
"Saunders," said Deppingham, arising and lighting a fresh cigarette,
"you have gone clean daft. You're loony with love. You've got marriage
on the brain. I'd advise you to take some one for it,"
"Do you mean that for me. Lord Deppingham?" demanded Miss Pelham
sharply. She glared at him and then slammed her note book on the table.
"You can josh Mr. Saunders, but you can't josh me. I'm sick of this job.
Get somebody else to do your work after this. I'm through."
"Oh!" exclaimed every one in a panic. It took nearly ten minutes to
pacify the ruffled stenographer. She finally resumed her place at the
table, but her chin was in the air and she turned the pages with a
vehemence that left nothing to the imagination.
"I can arrange everything, my lady, so that the ceremony will be
regular," pleaded the unhappy Saunders. "You have only to go through the
"But what kind of a form does she follow in stabbing me to mincemeat?
That's the main law point," said Deppingham. "You seem to forget that I
am still alive."
"Perhaps we could arrange for a divorce all round," cried Saunders,
"On what grounds?" laughed Browne.
"Give me time," said the lawyer.
"It's barely possible that there is no divorce law in Japat," remarked
Britt, keenly enjoying his confrere's misery.
"Are you quite sure?"
"Reasonably. If there was such a law, I'll bet my head two-thirds of the
men in Aratat would be getting rid of wives before night."
Britt, after this remark, sat very still and thoughtful. He was turning
over the divorce idea in his mind. He had ridiculed the polygamy scheme,
but the divorce proposition might be managed.
"I'm tired," said Lady Deppingham suddenly. She yawned and stretched her
arms. "It's been very entertaining, Saunders, but, really, I think we'd
better dress for dinner. Come, Mr. Browne, shall we look for the
"With pleasure, if you'll promise to spare Deppingham's life."
"On condition that you will spare Deppingham's wife," very prettily and
airily. Mrs. Browne laughed with amazing good grace, but there was a new
expression in her eyes.
"Your ladyship," called Saunders desperately, "do you approve of my
plan? It's only a subterfuge--"
"Heartily!" she exclaimed, with one of her rarest laughs. "The only
objection that I can see to it is that it leaves out my husband and Mrs.
Browne. They are very nice people, Saunders, and you should be more
considerate of them. Come, Mr. Browne." She took the American's arm and
gaily danced from the room. Lord Deppingham's eyes glowed with pride in
his charming wife as he followed with the heartsick Drusilla. Britt
sauntered slowly out and down the stairway, glancing back but once at
the undone Saunders.
"I would have won them over if Britt had not interfered," almost wailed
little Mr. Saunders, his eyes glazed with mortification.
"I'm getting to hate that man," said Miss Pelham loyally. "And the
others! They give me a pain! Don't mind them, Tommy, dear."
Lady Deppingham and Browne came upon the Princess quite unexpectedly.
She was in the upper gallery, leaning against the stone rail and gazing
steadily through the field glasses in the direction of the bungalow.
They held back and watched her, unseen. The soft light of early evening
fell upon her figure as she stood erect, lithe and sinuous in the open
space between the ivy-clad posts; her face and hands were soft tinted by
the glow from the reflecting east, her hair was like a bronze relief
against the dark green of the mountain. She was dressed in white--a
modish gown of rich Irish lace. One instantly likened this rare young
creature to a rare old painting.
Genevra smiled securely in her supposed aloofness from the world. Then,
suddenly moved by a strange impulse, she gently waved her handkerchief,
as if in greeting to some one far off in the gloaming. The action was a
mischievous one, no doubt, and it had its consequences--rather sudden
and startling, if the observers were to judge by her subsequent
movements. She lowered the glass instantly; there was a quick catch in
her breath--as if a laugh had been checked; confusion swept over her,
and she drew back into the shadows as a guilty child might have done.
They distinctly heard her murmur as she crossed the flags and
disappeared through the French window, without seeing them:
"Oh, dear, what a crazy thing to do!"
Genevra, peering through the glasses, had discovered the figure of Chase
on the bungalow porch. She was amused to find that he, from his distant
post, was also regarding the chateau through a pair of glasses. A spirit
of adventure, risk, mischief, as uncontrolled as breath itself, impelled
her to flaunt her handkerchief. That treacherous spirit deserted her
most shamelessly when her startled eyes saw that he was waving a
response. She laid awake for a long time that night wondering what he
would think of her for that wretched bit of frivolity. Then at last a
new thought came to her relief, but it did not give her the peace of
mind that she desired.
He may have mistaken her for Lady Deppingham.
TWO CALLS FROM THE ENEMY
Deppingham was up and about quite early the next morning--that is, quite
early for him. He had his rolls and coffee and strolled out in the shady
park for a smoke. The Princess, whose sense of humiliation had not been
lessened by the fitful sleep of the night before, was walking in the
shade of the trees on the lower terrace, beyond the fountains and the
artificial lake. A great straw hat, borrowed from Lady Agnes, shaded her
face from the glare of the mid-morning sun. Farther up the slope, one of
the maids was playing with the dogs. She waved her hand gaily and paused
to wait for him.
"I was thinking of you," she said in greeting, as he came up.
"How nice you are," he said. "But, my dear, is it wise in you to be
thinking of us handsome devils? It's a most dangerous habit--thinking of
"But, Deppy, dear, the Prince isn't here," she said, falling into his
humour. "That makes quite a difference, doesn't it?"
"Your logic is splendid. Pray resume your thoughts of me--if they were
pleasant and agreeable. I'll not blow on you to Karl."
"I was just thinking what a lucky fellow you are to have such a darling
as Agnes for a wife."
"You might as well say that Agnes ought to feel set up because Pong has
a nice coat. By the way, I have a compliment for you--no, not one of
their beastly trade-lasts! Browne says your hair is more beautiful than
Pong's. That's quite a compliment, Titian never even dreamed of hair
"You know, Deppy," she said with a pout, "I am very unhappy about my
hair. It is quite red. I don't see why I should have hair like that of a
red cocker. It seems so animalish."
"Rubbish! Why should you complain? Look at my hair. It's been likened
more than once to that of a jersey cow."
"Oh, how I adore jersey cows! Now, I wouldn't mind that a bit."
They were looking toward the lower gates while carrying on this
frivolous conversation. A man had just entered and was coming toward
them. Both recognised the tall figure in grey flannels. Deppingham's
emotion was that of undisguised amazement; Genevra's that of confusion
and embarrassment. She barely had recovered her lost composure when the
newcomer was close upon them.
There was nothing in the manner of Chase, however, to cause the
slightest feeling of uneasiness. He was frankness itself. His smile was
one of apology, almost of entreaty; his broad grass helmet was in his
hand and his bow was one of utmost deference.
"I trust I am not intruding," he said as he came up. His gaze was as
much for Deppingham as for the Princess, his remark quite impersonal.
"Not at all, not at all," said Deppingham quickly, his heart leaping to
the conclusion that the way to the American bar was likely to be opened
at last. "Charmed to have you here, Mr. Chase. You've been most
unneighbourly. Have you been presented to her Highness, the--Oh, to be
sure. Of course you have. Stupid of me."
"We met ages ago," she said with an ingenuous smile, which would have
disarmed Chase if he had been prepared for anything else. As a matter of
fact, he had approached her in the light of an adventurer who expects
nothing and grasps at straws.
"In the dark ages," said he so ruefully that her smile grew. He had
come, in truth, to ascertain why her husband had not come with her.
"But not the forgotten variety, I fancy," said Deppingham shrewdly.
"It would be impossible for the Princess to forget the greatest of all
fools," said Chase.
"He was no worse than other mortals," said she.
"Thank you," said Chase. Then he turned to Lord Deppingham. "My visit
requires some explanation, Lord Deppingham. You have said that I am
unneighbourly. No doubt you appreciate my reasons. One has to respect
appearances," with a dry smile. "When one is in doubt he must do as the
Moslems do, especially if the Moslems don't want him to do as he wants
"No doubt you're right, but it sounds a bit involved," murmured
Deppingham. "Now that you are here you must do as the Moslems don't.
That's our Golden Rule. We'll consider the visit explained, but not
curtailed. Lady Deppingham will be delighted to see you. Are you ready
to come in, Princess?"
They started toward the chateau, keeping well in the shade of the boxed
trees, the Princess between the two men.
"I say, Chase, do you mind relieving my fears a bit? With all due
respect to your estimable clients, it occurs to me that they are likely
to break over the traces at any moment, and raise the very old Harry at
somebody else's expense. I'd like to know if my head is really safe.
Since your experience the other night, I'm a bit apprehensive."
"I came to see you in regard to that very thing, Lord Deppingham. I
don't want to alarm you, but I do not like the appearance of things.
They don't trust me and they hate you--quite naturally. I'm rather sorry
that our British man-of-war is out of reach. Pray, don't be alarmed,
Princess. It is most improbable that anything evil will happen. And, in
any event, we can hold out against them until relief comes."
"We?" demanded Deppingham.
"Certainly. If it comes to an assault of any kind upon the chateau, I
trust that I may be considered as one of you. I won't serve assassins
and bandits--at least, not after they've got beyond my control. Besides,
if the worst should come, they won't discriminate in my favour."
"Why do you stay here, Mr. Chase?" asked the Princess. "You admit that
they do not like you or trust you. Why do you stay?"
"I came out here to escape certain consequences," said he candidly.
"I'll stay to enjoy the uncertain ones. I am not in the least alarmed on
my own account. The object of my visit, Lord Deppingham, is to ask you
to be on your guard up here. After the next steamer arrives, and they
learn that Sir John will not withdraw me in submission to Rasula's
demand, with the additional news that your solicitors have filed
injunctions and have begun a bitter contest that may tie up the estate
for years--then, I say, we may have trouble. It is best that you should
know what to expect. I am not a traitor to my cause, in telling you
this; it is no more than I would expect from you were the conditions
reversed. Moreover, I do not forget that you gave me the man-of-war
opportunity. That was rather good fun."
"It's mighty decent in you, Chase, to put us on our guard. Would you
mind talking it over with Browne and me after luncheon? You'll stay to
luncheon, of course?"
"Thank you. It may be my death sentence, but I'll stay."
In the wide east gallery they saw Lady Deppingham and Bobby Browne,
deeply engrossed in conversation. They were seated in the shade of the
wisteria, and the two were close upon them before they heard their
voices. Deppingham started and involuntarily allowed his hand to go to
his temple, as if to check the thought that flitted through his brain.
"Good Lord," he said to himself, "is it possible that they are
considering that demmed Saunders's proposition? Surely they can't be
thinking of that!"
As he led the way across the green, Browne's voice came to them
distinctly. He was saying earnestly:
"The mere fact that we have come out to this blessed isle is a point in
favour of the islanders. Chase won't overlook it and you may be sure Sir
John Brodney is making the most of it. Our coming is a guarantee that we
consider the will valid. It is an admission that we regard it as sound.
If not, why should we recognise its provisions, even in the slightest
detail? Britt is looking for hallucinations and all--"
"Sh!" came in a loud hiss from somewhere near at hand, and the two in
the gallery looked down with startled eyes upon the distressed face of
Lord Deppingham. They started to their feet at once, astonishment and
wonder in their faces. They could scarcely believe their eyes. The
He was smiling broadly as he lifted his helmet, smiling in spite of the
discomfort that showed so plainly in Deppingham's manner.
Chase was warmly welcomed by the two heirs. Lady Agnes was especially
cordial. Her eyes gleamed joyously as she lifted them to meet his
admiring gaze. She was amazingly pretty. The conviction that Chase had
mistaken her for Lady Agnes, the evening before, took a fresh grasp upon
the mind of the Princess Genevra. A shameless wave of relief surged
through her heart.
Chase was presented to Drusilla Browne, who appeared suddenly upon the
scene, coming from no one knew where. There was a certain strained look
in the Boston woman's face and a suspicious redness near the bridge of
her little nose. As she had not yet acquired the Boston habit of wearing
glasses, whether she needed them or not, the irritation could hardly be
attributed to tight _pince nez_. Genevra made up her mind on the instant
that Drusilla was making herself unhappy over her good-looking husband's
attentions to his co-legatee.
"It's very good of you," said the Enemy, after all of them had joined in
the invitation. There was a peculiar twinkle in his eye as he asked this
rather confounding question: "Why is it that I am more fortunate than
your own attorneys? I am but a humble lawyer, after all, no better than
they. Would you mind telling me why I am honoured by an invitation to
sit at the table with you?" The touch of easy sarcasm was softened by
the frank smile that went with it. Deppingham, having been the first to
offend, after a look of dismay at his wife, felt it his duty to explain.
"It's--it's--er--oh, yes, it's because you're a diplomat," he finally
remarked in triumph. It was a grand recovery, thought he. "Saunders is
an ass and Britt would be one if Browne could only admit it, as I do.
Rubbish! Don't let that trouble you. Eh, Browne?"
"Besides," said Bobby Browne breezily, "I haven't heard of your clients
inviting _you_ to lunch, Mr. Chase. The cases are parallel."
"I'm not so sure about his clients' wives," said Deppingham, with a vast
haw-haw! Chase looked extremely uncomfortable.
"I am told that some of them are very beautiful," said Genevra sedately.
"Other men's wives always are, I've discovered," said Chase gallantly.
The party had moved over to the great stone steps which led down into
the gardens. Chase was standing beside Lady Deppingham and both of them
were looking toward his distant bungalow. He turned to the Princess with
"That is my home. Princess. It is the first time I have seen it from
your point of view, Lady Deppingham. I must say that it doesn't seem as
far from the chateau to the bungalow as it does from the bungalow to the
chateau. There have been times when the chateau seemed to be thousands
of miles away."
"When in reality it was at your very feet," she said with a bright look
into his eyes. For some unaccountable reason, Genevra resented that look
and speech. Perhaps it was because she felt the rift of an undercurrent.
"Is that really where you live?" she asked, so innocently that Chase had
difficulty in controlling his expression.
At that instant something struck sharply against the stone column above
Chase's head. At least three persons saw the little puff of smoke in the
hills far to the right. Every one heard the distant crack of a rifle.
The bullet had dropped at Chase's feet before the sound of the report
came floating to their ears. No one spoke as he stooped and picked up
the warm, deadly missile. Turning it over in his fingers, an ugly thing
to look at, he said coolly, although his cheek had gone white:
"With Von Blitz's compliments, ladies and gentlemen. He is calling on
me, by proxy."
"Good God, Chase," cried Browne, "they're trying to murder us. Get back,
every one! Inside the doors!"
The women, white-faced and silent for the moment, turned to follow the
"I'm sorry to bring my troubles to your door," said Chase. "It was meant
for me, not for any of you. The man who fired that did not intend to
kill me. He was merely giving voice to his pain and regret at seeing me
in such bad company." He was smiling calmly and did not take a single
step to follow them to safety.
"Come in, Chase! Don't stand out there to be shot at."
"I'll stay here for a few minutes, Mr. Browne, if you don't mind, just
to convince you all that the shot was not intended to kill. They're not
ready to kill me yet. I'm sure Lord Deppingham will understand. He has
been shot at often enough since he came to the island."
"By Jove, I should rather say I have," blurted out Deppingham. "'Pon my
word, they had a shot at me every time I tried to pluck a flower at the
roadside. I've got so used to it that I resent it when they don't have a
try at me."
"Think it was Von Blitz?" asked Browne.
"No. He couldn't hit the chateau at two hundred yards. It is a native.
They shoot like fury." He lighted a cigarette and coolly leaned against
the column, his gaze bent on the spot where the smoke had been seen. The
others were grouped inside the doors, where they could see without being
seen. A certain sense of horror possessed all of the watchers. It was as
if they were waiting to see him fall with a bullet in his
breast--executed before their eyes. Several minutes passed.
"For heaven's sake, why does he stand there?" cried the Princess at
last. "I can endure it no longer. It may be as he says it is, but it is
foolhardy to stand there and taunt the pride of that marksman. I can't
stay here and wait for it to come. How can--"
"He's been there for ten minutes, Princess," said Browne. "Plenty of
time for another try."
"I am not afraid to stand beside him," said Lady Agnes suddenly. She had
conquered her dread and saw the chance for something theatrical. Her
husband grasped her arm as she started toward the Enemy.
"None of that, Aggie," he said sharply.
Before they were aware of her intention, the Princess left the shelter
and boldly walked across the open space to the side of the man. He
started and opened his lips to give vent to a sharp command.
"It is so easy to be a hero, Mr. Chase, when one is quite sure there is
no real danger," she said, with distinct irony in her tones. "One can
afford to be melodramatic if he knows his part so well as you know
Chase felt his face burn. It was a direct declaration that he had
planned the whole affair in advance. He flicked the ashes from his
cigarette and then tossed it away, hesitating long before replying.
"Nevertheless, I have the greatest respect for the courage which brings
you to my side. I daresay you are quite justified in your opinion of me.
It all must seem very theatrical to you. I had not thought of it in that
light. I shall now retire from the centre of the stage. It will be
perfectly safe for you to remain here--just as it was for me." He was
leaving her without another word or look. She repented.
"I am sorry for what I said," she said eagerly. "And--" she looked up at
the hills with a sudden widening of her eyes--"I think I shall not
He waited for her and they crossed to the entrance together.
Luncheon was quite well over before the spirits of the party reacted
from the depression due to the shooting. Chase made light of the
occurrence, but sought to impress upon the others the fact that it was
prophetic of more serious events in the future. In a perfectly
cold-blooded manner he told them that the islanders might rise against
them at any time, overstepping the bounds of England's law in a return
to the primeval law of might. He advised the occupants of the chateau to
exercise extreme caution at all times.
"The people are angry and they will become desperate. Their interests
are mine, of course. I am perfectly sincere in saying to you, Lady
Deppingham, and to you, Mr. Browne, that in time they will win out
against you in the courts. But they are impatient; they are not the kind
who can wait and be content. It is impossible for you to carry out the
provisions of the will, and they know it. That is why they resent the
delays that are impending."
Deppingham told him of the scheme proposed by Saunders, treating it as a
vast joke. Chase showed a momentary sign of uneasiness, but covered it
instantly by laughing with the others. Strange to say, he had been
instructed from London to look out for just such a coup on the part of
the heirs. Not that the marriage could be legally established, but that
it might create a complication worth avoiding.
He could not help looking from Lady Deppingham to Bobby Browne, a
calculating gleam in his grey eyes. How very dangerous she could be! He
was quite ready to feel very sorry for pretty Mrs. Browne. Browne, of
course, revealed no present symptom of surrender to the charms of his
co-legatee. Later on, he was to recall this bit of calculation and to
enlarge upon it from divers points of view.
Just now he was enjoying himself for the first time since his arrival in
Japat. He sat opposite to the Princess; his eyes were refreshing
themselves after months of fatigue; his blood was coursing through new
veins. And yet, his head was calling his heart a fool.
THE PRINCESS GOES GALLOPING
A week passed--an interesting week in which few things happened openly,
but in which the entire situation underwent a subtle but complete
change. The mail steamer had come and gone. It brought disconcerting
news from London. Chase was obliged to tell the islanders that notice of
a contest had been filed. The lineal heirs had pooled their issues and
were now fighting side by side. The matter would be in chancery for
months, even years. He could almost feel the gust of rage and
disappointment that swept over the island--although not a word came from
the lips of the sullen population. The very silence was foreboding.
He did not visit the chateau during that perplexing week. It was hard,
but he resolutely kept to the path of duty, disdaining the pleasures
that beckoned to him. Every day he saw and talked with Britt and
Saunders. They, as well as the brisk Miss Pelham, gave him the "family
news" from the chateau. Saunders, when he was not moping with the ague
of love, indulged in rare exhibitions of joy over the turn affairs were
taking with his client and Bobby Browne. It did not require
extraordinary keenness on Chase's part to gather that her ladyship and
Browne had suddenly decided to engage in what he would call a mild
flirtation, but what Saunders looked upon as a real attack of love.
"If I had the nerve, I'd call Browne good and hard," said Britt, over
his julep. "It isn't right. It isn't decent. No telling what it will
come to. The worst of it is that his wife doesn't blame him. She blames
her. They disappear for hours at a time and they've always got their
heads together. I've noticed it for a month, but it's got worse in the
last week. Poor little Drusilla. She's from Boston, Chase, and can't
retaliate. Besides, Deppingham wouldn't take notice if she tried."
"There's one safeguard," said Chase. "They can't elope on this island."
"They can't, eh? Why, man, they could elope in the chateau and nobody
could overtake 'em. You've no idea how big it is. The worst of it is,
Deppingham has got an idea that they may try to put him out of the
way--him and Drusilla. Awful, isn't it?"
"Perfect rot, Britt. You'll find that it turns out all right in the end.
I'd bank on Lady Deppingham's cool little head. Browne may be mad, but
"It won't help me any unless both of 'em are mad," said Britt, with a
wry face. "And, say, by the way, Saunders is getting to dislike you
"I can't help it if he loves the only stenographer on the island," said
Chase easily. "You seem to be the only one who isn't in hot water all
the time, Britt."
"Me and the Princess," said Britt laconically. Chase looked up quickly,
but the other's face was as straight as could be. "If you were a real
gentleman you would come around once in a while and give her something
to talk to, instead of about."
"Does she talk about me?" quite steadily.
"They all do. I've even heard the white handmaidens discussing you in
glowing terms. You're a regular matinee hero up there, my--"
"Selim!" broke in Chase. The Arab came to the table immediately. "Don't
put so much liquor in Mr. Britt's drinks after this. Mostly water."
Britt grinned amiably.
They sipped through their straws in silence for quite a while. Both were
thinking of the turn affairs were taking at the chateau.
"I say, Britt, you're not responsible for this affair between Browne and
Lady Deppingham, are you?" demanded Chase abruptly.
"I? What do you mean?"
"I was just wondering if you could have put Browne up to the game in the
hope that a divorce or two might solve a very difficult problem."
"Now that you mention it, I'm going to look up the church and colonial
divorce laws," said Britt non-committally, after a moment.
"I advise you to hurry," said Chase coolly. "If you can divorce and
marry 'em inside of four weeks, with no court qualified to try the case
nearer than India, you are a wonder."
Chase was in the habit of visiting the mines two or three times a week
during work hours. The next morning after his conversation with Britt,
he rode out to the mines. When he reached the brow of the last hill,
overlooking the wide expanse in which the men toiled, he drew rein
sharply and stared aghast at what lay before him.
Instead of the usual activity, there was not a man in sight. It was some
time before his bewildered brain could grasp the meaning of the puzzle.
Selim, who rode behind, came up and without a word directed his master's
attention to the long ridge of trees that bordered the broken hillsides.
Then he saw the miners. Five hundred half-naked brown men were
congregated in the shade of the trees, far to the right. By the aid of
his glasses he could see that one of their number was addressing them in
an earnest, violent harangue. It was not difficult, even at that
distance, to recognise the speaker as Von Blitz. From time to time, the
silent watchers saw the throng exhibit violent signs of emotion. There
were frequent gesticulations, occasional dances; the faint sound of
shouts came across the valley.
Chase shuddered. He knew what it meant. He turned to Selim, who sat
beside him like a bronze statue, staring hard at the spectacle.
"How about Allah now, Selim?" he asked sententiously.
"Allah is great, Allah is good," mumbled the Moslem youth, but without
"Do you think He can save me from those dogs?" asked the master, with a
"Sahib, do not go among them to-day," implored Selim impulsively.
"They are expecting me, Selim. If I don't come, they will know that I
have funked. They'll know I am afraid of them."
"Do not go to-day," persisted Selim doggedly. Suddenly he started,
looking intently to the left along the line of the hill. Chase followed
the direction of his gaze and uttered a sharp exclamation of surprise.
Several hundred yards away, outlined against the blue sky beyond the
knob, stood the motionless figure of a horse and its rider--a woman in a
green habit. Chase could hardly believe his eyes. It did not require a
second glance to tell him who the rider was; he could not be mistaken in
that slim, proud figure. Without a moment's hesitation he turned his
horse's head and rode rapidly toward her. She had left the road to ride
out upon the crest of the green knob. Chase was in the mood to curse her
As he came up over the slope, she turned in the saddle to watch his
approach. He had time to see that two grooms from the stables were in
the road below her. There was a momentary flash of surprise and
confusion in her eyes, succeeded at once by a warm glow of excitement.
She smiled as he drew up beside her, not noticing his unconscious frown.
"So those are the fabulous mines of Japat," she said gaily, without
other greeting. "Where is the red glow from the rubies?"
His horse had come to a standstill beside hers. Scarcely a foot
separated his boot from her animal's side. If she detected the serious
look in his face, she chose to ignore it.
"Who gave you permission to ride so far from the chateau?" he demanded,
almost harshly. She looked at him in amazement.
"Am I a trespasser?" she asked coldly.
"I beg your pardon," he said quickly. "I did not mean to offend. Don't
you know that it is not safe for you to--"
"Nonsense!" she exclaimed. "I am not afraid of your shadows. Why should
they disturb me?"
"Look!" He pointed to the distant assemblage. "Those are not shadows.
They are men and they are making ready to transform themselves into
beasts. Before long they will strike. Von Blitz and Rasula have sunk my
warships. You _must_ understand that it is dangerous to leave the
chateau on such rides as this. Come! We will start back together--at
"I protest, Mr. Chase, that you have no right to say what I shall do
"It isn't a question of right. You are nearly ten miles from the
chateau, in the most unfrequented part of the island. Some day you will
not return to your friends. It will be too late to hunt for you then."
"How very thrilling!" she said with a laugh.
"I beg of you, do not treat it so lightly," he said, so sharply that she
flushed. He was looking intently in the direction of the men. She was
not slow to see that their position had been discovered by the miners.
"They have seen us," he said briefly. "It is quite possible that they do
not mean to do anything desperate at this time, but you can readily see
that they will resent this proof of spying on our part. They mistake me
for one of the men from the chateau. Will you come with me now?"
"It seems so absurd--but I will come, of course. I have no desire to
cause you any uneasiness."
As they rode swiftly back to the tree-lined road, a faint chorus of
yells came to them across the valley. For some distance they rode
without speaking a word to each other. They had traversed two miles of
the soft dirt road before Chase discovered that Selim was the only man
following them. The two men who had come out with the Princess were not
in sight. He mentioned the fact to her, with a peculiar smile on his
lips. They slackened the pace and Chase called Selim up from behind. The
little Arab's face was a study in its display of unwonted emotion.
"Excellency," he replied, in answer to Chase's question, his voice
trembling with excitement, "they left me at the bend, a mile back. They
will not return to the chateau."
"The dogs! So, you see, Princess, your escort was not to be trusted,"
said Chase grimly.
"But they have stolen the horses," she murmured irrelevantly. "They
belong to the chateau stables."
"Which direction did they take, Selim?"
"They rode off by the Carter's highway, Excellency, toward Aratat."
"It may not appeal to your vanity, your Highness, but it is my duty to
inform you that they have gone to report our clandestine meeting."
"Clandestine! What do you mean, sir?"
"The islanders are watching me like hawks. Every time I am seen with any
one from the chateau, they add a fresh nail to the coffin they are
preparing for me. It's really more serious than you imagine. I must,
therefore, forbid you to ride outside of the park."
They rode swiftly for another mile, silence being unbroken between them.
She was trying to reconcile her pride to the justice of his command.
"I daresay you are right, Mr. Chase," she said at last, quite frankly.
"I thank you."
"I am glad that you understand," he said simply. His gaze was set
straight before him, keen, alert, anxious. They were riding through a
dark stretch of forest; the foliage came down almost to their faces;
there was an almost impenetrable green wall on either side of them. He
knew, and she was beginning to suspect, that danger lurked in the
peaceful, sweet-smelling shades.
"I begin to fear, Mr. Chase," she said, with a faint smile, "that Lady
Deppingham deceived me in suggesting Japat as a rest cure. It may
interest you to know that the court at Rapp-Thorberg has been very gay
this winter. Much has happened in the past few months."
"I know," he said briefly, almost bitterly.
"My brother, Christobal, has been with us after two years' absence. He
came with his wife from the ends of the earth, and my father forgave him
in good earnest. Christobal was very disobedient in the old days. He
refused to marry the girl my father chose for him. Was it not foolish of
"Not if it has turned out well in the end."
"I daresay it has--or will. She is delightful. My father loves her. And
my father--the Grand Duke, I should say--does not love those who cross
him. One is very fortunate to have been born a prince." He thought he
detected a note of bitterness in this raillery.
"I can conceive of no greater fortune than to have been born Prince Karl
of Brabetz," he said lightly. She flashed a quick glance at his face,
her eyes narrowing in the effort to divine his humour. He saw the cloud
which fell over her face and was suddenly silent, contrite for some
"As I was saying," she resumed, after a moment, "Lady Deppingham has
lured me from sunshowers into the tempest. Mr. Chase," and her face was
suddenly full of real concern, "is there truly great danger?"
"I fear so," he answered. "It is only a question of time. I have tried
to check this uprising, but I've failed. They don't trust me. Last night
Von Blitz, Rasula and three others came to the bungalow and coolly
informed me that my services were no longer required. I told them to--to
"I understand," she said quickly. "It required courage to tell them
that." He smiled.
"They protested friendship, but I can read very well as I run. But can't
we find something more agreeable to talk about? May I say that I have
not seen a newspaper in three months? The world has forgotten me. There
must be news that you can give me. I am hungry for it."
"You poor man! No newspapers! Then you don't know what has happened in
all these months?"
"Nothing since before Christmas. Would you like to see a bit of news
that I clipped from the last Paris paper that came into my hands?"
"Yes," she said, vaguely disturbed. He drew forth his pocketbook and
took from its interior a small bit of paper, which he handed to her, a
shamed smile in his eyes. She read it at a glance and handed it back. A
faint touch of red came into her cheeks.
"How very odd! Why should you have kept that bit of paper all these
"I will admit that the announcement of the approaching nuptials of two
persons whom I had met so casually may seem a strange thing to cherish,
but I am a strange person. You have been married nearly three months,"
he said reflectively. "Three months and two days, to be precise."
She laughed outright, a bewitching, merry laugh that startled him.
"How accurate you would be," she exclaimed. "It would be a highly
interesting achievement, Mr. Chase, if it were only borne out by facts.
You see, I have not been married so much as three minutes."
He stared at her, uncomprehending.
She went on: "Do you consider it bad luck to postpone a wedding?"
Involuntarily he drew his horse closer to hers. There was a new gleam in
his eyes; her blood leaped at the challenge they carried.
"Very bad luck," he said quite steadily; "for the bridegroom."
In an instant they seemed to understand something that had not even been
considered before. She looked away, but he kept his eyes fast upon her
half-turned face, finding delight in the warm tint that surged so
shamelessly to her brow. He wondered if she could hear the pounding of
his heart above the thud of the horses' feet.
"We are to be married in June," she said somewhat defiantly. Some of the
light died in his eyes. "Prince Karl was very ill. They thought he might
die. His--his studies--his music, I mean, proved more than he could
carry. It--it is not serious. A nervous break-down," she explained
"You mean that he--" he paused before finishing the
"Yes. It was necessary to postpone the marriage. He will be quite well
again, they say--by June."
Chase thought of the small, nervous, excitable prince and in his mind
there arose a great doubt. They might pronounce him cured, but would it
be true? "I hope he may be fully recovered, for your sake," he managed
"Thank you." After a long pause, she turned to him again and said: "We
are to live in Paris for a year or two at least."
Then Chase understood. Prince Karl would not be entirely recovered in
June. He did not ask, but he knew in some strange way that his
physicians were there and that it would be necessary for him to be near
"He is in Paris now?"
"No," she answered, and that was all. He waited, but she did not expand
"So it is to be in June?" he mused.
"In June," she said quietly. He sighed.
"I am more than sorry that you are a princess," he said boldly.
"I am quite sure of that," she said, so pointedly that he almost gasped.
She was laughing comfortably, a mischievous gleam in her dark eyes. His
laugh was as awkward as hers was charming.
"You _do_ like to be flattered," he exclaimed at random. "And I shall
take it upon myself to add to to-day's measure." He again drew forth his
pocketbook. She looked on curiously. "Permit me to restore the lace
handkerchief which you dropped some time ago. I've been keeping it for
"My handkerchief?" she gasped, her thoughts going at once to that
ridiculous incident of the balcony. "It must belong to Lady Deppingham."
"Oh, it isn't the one you used on the balcony," he protested coolly. "It
antedates that adventure."
"Balcony? I don't understand you," she contested.
"Then you are exceedingly obtuse."
"I never dreamed that you could see," she confessed pathetically.
"It was extremely nice in you and very presumptuous in me. But, your
highness, this is the handkerchief you dropped in the Castle garden six
months ago. Do you recognise the perfume?"
She took it from his fingers gingerly, a soft flush of interest
suffusing her cheek. Before she replied, she held the dainty bit of lace
to her straight little nose.
"You are very sentimental," she said at last. "Would you care to keep
it? It is of no value to me."
"Thanks, I will keep it."
"I've changed my mind," she said inconsequently, stuffing the fabric in
her gauntlet. "You have something else in that pocketbook that I should
very much like to possess."
"It can't be that Bank of England--"
"No, no! You wrapped it in a bit of paper last week and placed it there
for safe keeping."
"You mean the bullet?"
"Yes. I should like it. To show to my friends, you know, when I tell
them how near you were to being shot." Without a word he gave her the
bullet that had dropped at his feet on that first day at the chateau.
"Thank you. Oh, isn't it a horrid thing! Just to think, it might have
struck you!" She shuddered.
He was about to answer in his delirium when a sharp turn in the road
brought them in view of the chateau. Not a hundred yards ahead of them
two persons were riding slowly, unattended, very much occupied in
themselves. Their backs were toward Chase and the Princess, but it was
an easy matter to recognise them. The glance which shot from the
Princess to Chase found a peculiar smile disappearing from his lips.
"I know what you are thinking," she cried impulsively "You are
wrong--very wrong, Mr. Chase. Lady Deppingham is a born coquette--a born
trifler. It is ridiculous to think that she can be seriously engaged in
"It isn't that, Princess," he interrupted, a dark loot in his eyes. "I
was merely wondering whether dear little Mrs. Browne is as happy as she
Genevra was silent for a moment.
"I had not thought of that," she said soberly.
THE BURNING OF THE BUNGALOW
He went in and had tiffin with them in the hanging garden. Deppingham
was surly and preoccupied. Drusilla Browne was unusually vivacious. At
best, she was not volatile; her greatest accomplishment lay in the
ability to appreciate what others had to say. This in itself is a treat
so unusual that one feels like commending the woman who carries it to
Her husband, aside from a natural anxiety, was the same blithe optimist
as ever. He showed no sign of restraint, no evidence of compunction.
Chase found himself secretly speculating on the state of affairs. Were
the two heirs working out a preconceived plan or were they, after all,
playing with the fires of spring? He recalled several of Miss Pelham's
socialistic remarks concerning the privileges of the "upper ten," the
intolerance of caste and the snobbish morality which attaches folly to
none but the girl who "works for a living."
Immediately after tiffin, Genevra carried Lady Deppingham off to her
room. When they came forth for a proposed stroll in the grounds, Lady
Agnes was looking very meek and tearful, while the Princess had about
her the air of one who has conquered by gentleness. In the upper
corridor, where it was dark and quiet, the wife of Deppingham halted
suddenly and said:
"It has been so appallingly dull, Genevra, don't you understand? That's
why. Besides, it isn't necessary for her to be so horrid about it.
"She isn't horrid about it, dear. She's most self-sacrificing."
"Rubbish! She talks about the Puritans, and all that sort of thing. I
know what she means. But there's no use talking about it. I'll do as you
say--command, I mean. I'll try to be a prude. Heaven alone knows what a
real prude is. I don't. All this tommy-rot about Bobby and me wouldn't
exist if that wretched Chase man had been a little more affable. He
never noticed us until you came. No wife to snoop after him and--why, my
dear, he would have been ideal."
"It's all very nice, Agnes, but you forget your husband," said Genevra,
with a tolerant smile.
"Deppy? Oh, my dear," and she laughed gaily once more. "Deppy doesn't
mind. He rather likes me to be nice to other men. That is, if they are
nice men. Indeed, I don't forget Deppy! I shall remember him to my dying
"Your point of view is quite different from that of a Boston wife, I'd
"Certainly. We English have a colonial policy. We've spread out, my
"You are frivolous once more, Agnes."
"Genevra," said Lady Agnes solemnly, "if you'd been on a barren island
for five months as I have, with nothing to look at but your husband and
the sunsets, you would not be so hard on me. I wouldn't take Drusilla's
husband away from her for the world; I wouldn't even look at him if he
were not on the barren island, too. I've read novels in which a man and
woman have been wrecked on a desert island and lived there for months,
even years, in an atmosphere of righteousness. My dear, those novelists
are ninnies. Nobody could be so good as all that without getting wings.
And if they got wings they'd soon fly away from each other. Angels are
the only creatures who can be quite circumspect, and they're not real,
after all, don't you know. Drusilla may not know it yet, but she's not
an angel, by any means; she's real and doesn't know it, that's all. I am
real and know it only too well. That's the difference. Now, come along.
Let's have a walk. I'm tired of men and angels. That's why I want you
for awhile. You've got no wings, Genevra; but it's of no consequence, as
you have no one to fly away from."
"Or to, you might add," laughed Genevra.
"That's very American. You've been talking to Miss Pelham. She's always
adding things. By the way, Mr. Chase sees quite a lot of her. She types
for him. I fancy she's trying to choose between him and Mr. Saunders. If
you were she, dear, which would you choose?"
"Mr. Saunders," said Genevra promptly. "But if I were myself, I'd choose
"Speaking of angels, he must have wings a yard long. He has been chosen
by an entire harem and he flies from them as if pursued by the devil. I
imagine, however, that he'd be rather dangerous if his wings were to get
out of order unexpectedly. But he's nice, isn't he?"
The Princess nodded her head tolerantly.
Her ladyship went on: "I don't want to walk, after all. Let us sit here
in the corridor and count the prisms in the chandeliers. It's such fun.
I've done it often. You can imagine how gay it has been here, dear. Have
you heard the latest gossip? Mr. Britt has advanced a new theory. We are
to indulge in double barrelled divorce proceedings. As soon as they are
over, Mr. Browne and I are to marry. Then we are to hurry up and get
another divorce. Then we marry our own husband and wife all over again.
Isn't it exciting? Only, of course, it isn't going to happen. It would
be so frightfully improper--shocking, don't you know. You see, I should
go on living with my divorced husband, even after I was married to
Bobby. I'd be obliged to do that in order to give Bobby grounds for a
divorce as soon as the estate is settled. There's a whole lot more to
Mr. Britt's plan that I can't remember. It's a much gentler solution
than the polygamy scheme that Mr. Saunders proposes; I will say that for
it. But Deppy has put his foot down hard. He says he had trouble enough
getting me to marry him the first time; he won't go through it again.
Besides, he loathes grass widows, as Mrs. Browne calls them. Mr. Britt
told him he'll be sure to love me more than ever as soon as I become a
guileless divorcee. Of course, it's utter nonsense."
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