PANDOLFO

This amazing novel of international business and a magnificent romance draws swiftly to a cat aclysmic conclusion.

WILLIAM J. LOCKE August 15 1925

PANDOLFO

This amazing novel of international business and a magnificent romance draws swiftly to a cat aclysmic conclusion.

WILLIAM J. LOCKE August 15 1925

PANDOLFO

This amazing novel of international business and a magnificent romance draws swiftly to a cat aclysmic conclusion.

WILLIAM J. LOCKE

GREGORY UGLOW pulled out a telegram from his note-case and handed it to Paula. “Look at this. Came last week from Pandolfo, from the middle of the Andes.” It ran: “No news Polini. Make enquiries.” “Who is Polini?” “One of his pensioners. An old man who once managed, I think, an Italian statuary shop in Soho.”

“Those little casts they sell in the streets?” asked Paula.

“The firm used to, I believe—that side of the trade is apparently extinct in London. No, they supply art-schools and people who have gardens and grottoes—

But Polini must have belonged to the old regime. He fell on evil days and Sir Victor supported him. Of course I made enquiries and found the old chap was dead. But the important thing is that Pandolfo, not getting his usual quarterly letter of thanks—Polini,

I must say, used to pile on the gratitude—gets anxious and cables. He must be up to his neck in worry. Only a great man would think of trifles like that.”

Gregory’s eyes glistened, as he spoke of his hero. Paula again assented, soberly.

“Yes, a great man.”

Then she put to him again the question she had asked at Renes-lesEaux, in a slightly different form: “Has he ever spoken to you about his boyhood?”

“Never. Why should he? He’s a man who lives in the present and the future, not in the past.”

“Yet your friend Polini of the plaster-cast shop must have belonged to the past.”

Gregory shrugged his shoulders, and then laughed. Then Paula turned'suddenly to Gregory. “You’re a loyal friend.” “I should be unspeakable if I weren’t,” he replied. “Yes. But there’s loyalty and loyalty.” His pale face flamed. “There’s only one kind," said he, “for an honorable man.” There was a little silence. Then she laughed. “I think May mornings are a mistake, don’t you?”

O IS reply was cut short by the entry, through the gap, of a man-servant carrying a box of bowls, followed by Lord Demeter and two other men. It was Demeter’s one golden hour during his wife’s week-end lion-parties. On the bowling-green, all men and lions were equal. No one could roar at the tense moment of balance of bowl in hand and sight strained on the jack. And he himself, an expert, could beat any of them. For the rest of the time he faded away impersonally into backgrounds and corners; but here he lived a life gloriously, though transiently individual. His summons rang across the green.

“Paula, you'll play with me. We’ll show these people who fancy themselves what we can do.”

Gregory sat for a while and watched the game. Presently he rose, with a sigh, gathered his papers together and went into the house. There was an hour's work to be done before lunch. He went up to his room, sweet smell-

ing, all bright chintz and oak, with small paned latticed windows looking over an orchard, and spread the marked typed pages before him on the delicately furnished writing table. But his mind wandered; as the love-filled mind of a young man must wander, when the touch of the lady of his dreams had merged into the warm clasp of hands, when she has definitely challenged his love for her— “there is loyalty and loyalty,” she had said—and when in the flash of the three words she has responded to his thought.

And yet, the same young man thumped the table with sudden anger.

“Why the devil doesn’t she?”

Why the devil didn’t the goddess accept the unhappy god for whom she was created; and—incidentally—put a poor wretched tantalised mortal out of his misery, once and for all?

’ I 'HE summons for lunch found him with work not begun. He must buckle to in the afternoon, when he had hoped for holiday. After lunch, in the drawing room, he managed to draw her aside from a knot of people.

“I’m writing to Sir Victor, to catch the afternoon post. Can I send him a message?”

Here was the devotee ready to cast himself down beneath the Juggernaut wheel; the splendid would-be martyr posing as the well-conducted young man of good society. She noticed just a tiny quiver of his lips. She laid a hand on his wrist. Should she desire to summon Pandolfo, a few words scribbled on a bit of paper and sent by a servant to the telegraph office would be sufficient. To summon him through an agonized lover wmre grotesque indeed. |Her clasp grew firmer.

“I don’t send messages to people, even to superpeople, who have taken no apparent notice of my existence for j five months.”

“I feel I must tell him that I have seen you.” “As you like,” she said. “You may tell him that I amjn resplendent health, prosperous and enjoying myself prodigiously.”

He went away, not knowing whether he was sorrowful, or otherwise.

Paula,fjas soon as she could escape from a psychoanalyst, whose name, like Gregory, she had not caught, but whom, following Gregory’s conjectural nomenclature, she identified in her mind as Hunkbuster, and who had penned her into a corner while he described the complex of a patient, developed just like a flower before his eyes* through recorded dreams by which it was evident that he had conceived a guilty passion for his grandmother before he was born—Paula, as soon as she could escape from the lard-faced, and somewhat pornological charlatan, rushed to her room, and almost mechanically carried out the checked impulse of the morning. She rang a bell. A maid appeared. She waved the telegraph form.

“Please ask somebody to take that at once.”

The maid retired. The thing was done. She stood in front of the pier-glass and threw herself instinctively into a superb attitude. She turned away, with a majestic snap of the fingers. Hang it all! He had been right all the time. They were both big people. To the devil with her silly snobbery! One didn’t find a giant to mate with every day in the week. Well, the die was cast, she had burned her boats, she had compromised herself according to any metaphor or figure of speech one could think of. Gregory? He was but a boy. A bunch of sensitive nerves. He would get over it. He would yield to the inevitable.

CHE went to the dressing table and did foolish things with powder puffs and went downstairs. It was no longer possible to sit out of doors. Clouds had settled on the afternoon and a damp cold wind sang. di ii rt~tt trt~s u~itt'd it t he it h~ housear~ V p1a el bridge tttd I in trt. i gt L~ nitd taU ind it e it ke betore h~r ti t ani. anti Co ret't it w as iii t itt~ met bin Stnet tier UfiLt rtlnious bra r Lt~~ .~ Iii t l'h~ iS of hL~ t it LI Li iii .1 lii'. Lit lit lilt' wi. ui it iniLtr ti 0 i~ LlStltt'S5, :uui of y !ohi' m nip hi .t mg tiw t f tort urte. tL. ti - h .~ .i don h ti u~ h hot quit i. so out !`~gtu U41. I LUtl Cl Cit it itS oit1~ Li (Itit~t tt'fl itt d'-~re lit an art open muid iiptll soul Iii' f ut 11. ihtt 1 eve~zt~ts~ n the old way end Ct~ I ti ni I LlLlz..Lih~tI the statut' of ttdtlitv. lie e~ - m rip rUtI~I titi world. iitainlv iii

r u h~ the - 1 du d her t htt her. pert tilt usly of tt~ rt ant o t eli her. lb he a~~o iene a n a pt' tal it flt rt It

t n t~uIdtng tht~ dtunits r~ u~iu~ polu al I t V U u~ R~ be u~t erested in w hat is )1C

I re t4 }`~r.L~"~v i~~n~tnts she he hsmaying t }i i~ht hat he was her eti she eouhI stareeIV n .r!taa h~n st terteaI 1au~~hter. I lad he ese f her last verds 0 Fafle.lhta `c v a. i tave been ntvtt aide. She

f~. ) hed. I. I ri. is js her cU~t ni, nz h~'~ - rn, dis u~s I he h u~e~part y anti the d~y' u :~`1. r while l'aula said suddenly: 5 cry u: I've cabed t s-day to Panduifo n ru 1 ru.irr~ 1' rn

t ara at~1 clasped er to her bosom. T oty went to steep happy. She had heen right 1 r. i at nb w~och she had counselled had Sde knew that Paula vould come ar 1

• ar h n ;tfli e r. L ri Demetor and .a~ ,~ ahh pee ii rip a -. Pan iolfos car waited a few i: rep rv - piiw who was to motor her ii S ad a un he ri engagement and ivoald a ri ii. rs arerne e aernoon. They talked for a I ` v as enory man e an a an. n gged pardon hut Mr. I glow `ah:.m ex"otin as ne aad ust o'en (ailed to Pres r r p ry anpeareo w:~ ri a very white lane, oL a sf~er at -:lhiirrp paper in his hand. Mn' F e H -arr,rt t e It rh a wun'i of apology to her hosts The CL - rn rn i~ tie vestihue. ir.Ma (iCarn. ilenea in Tire Street and tele pbr.i What s me raean:ng of it?" - TO - Oe paper. Or rOt n;arr:nd. W:fe annompanying me. • er ry •r. • pret ara' on. Pandoijo.' tuu~ the panc'r our to Lady Deme tsr SIre a d er;ed: V r • us must iia~ gone madl Tren rew a `t mm ,rasp.np hreath, rernc'mhering, - In - me. • a at she `~ ad ada runt ` a make fove to 0 VT!

rHAP~'L~R VI

f.. I fat rarc-: in - nakc-dneo,: yet neon Trip a: .e a lara Dorv~-~er. mu~t have gone at j Demere: ac J `omfi rt and of (-ontririuting anrp~ the nver-a r aurtna-d. r. I) d n/a: - I g,aw -he ha~1 ;c-. ;u ati rn had its si: - : a p aion. The god do anin: Par dolfo o he r. a mç~ clIng. r.ad. DY DI e eiii.a. -eneficene, aff.: r~ - s ;cer.;ng of the ran F .a.a am 1. er eante had gone It wou.c he re -~ .e e he woa.d find it on nia air cal n ht watcn, coulri porloin and urpre Fr Itve:o; ccl. a t Demetirs would he I ha; e cc tot iii: un heri ae Gegory a.. cr0: we; a cai Pando.fo rr.ad and u drag cc ence ":en - otne:cthe nito the rearer; it a as a.. cry we.; for Pau.a to aurn, as a di-. inc lady did toe ;nsu. cu :.er spurneri heaucy: hut there 1 outran nat re DL the man rçj he ri-cl-coned ce: au. after aha had driven off: You

couldn’t expect the fellow to hang around for ever. He wasn't a dry stick like Spencer Babington. If Paula had got left, it was her own fault. She couldn't tell a chap to go to blares and, when he went there, consider herself hardly done by. Uis summing up of the situation, although inelegant belonged to a school in which elegance of diction was regarded as pedantic and suspect of insincerity and also perhaps superficial, had so much in it of common-souse, that his wife could respond only by impotent lamentation. “The chapter is torn out and destroyed,” said Paula, that evening. “Let us say no more about it.”

She drew herself morally up, as proud as anything. Let him receive the cable. He could make of it what he liked. In the meantime, she was free once more; freed, too, of the year's obsession. As soon as her tenants moved out of the flat in Basil Mansions, she could pack up the dreadful Perseus and send it away. Old Simkin, at Chadford, would love to put it up in his kitchen-garden. She thanked Heaven that the embarrassing car had been broken to bits. The engraved paulinium paper-knife with the old Florentine haft which she carried about with her, she threw into the bottom of a trunk. It was all ended, over and done with. She assured herself that she regarded the unknown personality of Lady Pandolfo with cold indifference. All she asked from a courteous world was the effacement of Pandolfo from her horizon.

Yet this must be denied her. There was Gregory Uglow. She could not visit the sins of the master upon the secretary.

Some days afterwards he rang up and craved an appointment. He came, with an envelope.

"If I’ve been indiscreet, do forgive me . . . It’s my duty to open cables. When I saw what it was, I thought perhaps . . .”

SHE flushed with sudden shame. It had not occurred to her that confidential secretaries, in the ordinary course of business, opened telegrams. All her scorn had gone for nothing. He stood, just ever so little twisted, recalling her first impression of him at Renes-les-Eaux, and regarded her out of his mild brown eyes, like a dog not knowing whether his good intentions were to be accounted to him as a fault. She tore the telegram into tiny pieces, which she threw into the wastepaper basket. ‘T don’t see, in the circumstances, how you could have kept it for him.” “Neither did I,” he said eagerly. “Then I did right?” She nodded slowly. “Quite right,” she handed him a silver box of cigarettes and took one-herself. “Perhaps it was a bit your fault,” she smiled, carrying it off loftily. “You don’t know how you harrowed me last Sunday morning. I felt I must do something. Thank goodness, however, it wasn’t necessary.” “I wish I knew what to think of it all,” sighed Gregory. “If you mean by ‘all,’ anything between Sir Victor and myself, you need never think of it again, for the rest of your life.”

“In one way,” said he, “that would be a relief.”

“Only in one way?” she asked, with her head aside, as she knocked the ash of her cigarette into a tray. “I can’t conceive it possible for Pandolfo, no matter whom he has married, not to need you.” “I may be old-fashioned and monogamie, my dear Gregory,” she laughed, “but, when a man has got a wife, I don’t hold with his needing another woman.” He fidgeted about. His cigarette had gone out and he threw it aside. “I don’t know whether I’ve a right to ask you, but—” “You can ask me anything you like.” “Are you going to turn him down when he comes home?’ “I think,” replied Paula, coldly, “that as far as I’m concerned, he’ll turn himself down.” Gregory rose, made two or three indeterminate paces about the room, and suddenly halted with a gesture of arms.

“And if he does, what about me?” “How—about you?” “I’m tied to him, by every sacred bond between one man and another. No matter what he did, I’d give up my life for him. And at the same time I can’t do without you. I know I’m a damned fool, but I can’t. I can’t.” He stood away from her, as though he had burned boats, crossed Rubicons and awaited annihilation on a hostile shore. A note in his voice unlocked within her an unsuspected fount of tenderness. “I don’t see why you should do without me, if you want me so.”

He swerved sharply. “You know what I mean?” “I have a certain amount of intelligence.” “And you don’t mind my meaning it?” “Why should I?” she asked.

'T'HE universe burst into a sudden blaze of glory. „Such A pyrotechnics have been as common as moonshine since the beginning of the world; yet every man, from the beginning of the world has considered them phenomena produced for his especial benefit. Gregory stood dazed. When at last he spoke there was awe in his voice. “You are too wonderful.”

She rose and went up to him. “Don’t misunderstand me, my dear Gregory. I’m not a bit wonderful. I’m only \jery selfish. 1 love people to be fond of me; over-fondness sometimes is embarrassing.” “Only the demonstration of it,” he said, quickly. “Yes. The over-demonstration.” “If you’ll let me be over-fond of you, I’ll be very discreet.” She laughed happily. “We’ll leave it at that, then.”

The young man went away more than content, leaving a lady unable to decide whether she ought to feel exhilarated or conscience-stricken. Of course she could have said in the kindest and most charming way in the world: “My dear boy, I like you tremendously, and we’ll be the best of friends till the end of time; but you must put all that other foolishness out of your head; it’s utterly hopeless.” Yet was it so hopeless after all? She did not know. He had stirred depths. She must wait until these stirrings rose to a conscious surface. In a vague way she felt as though, for the first time in her beautiful woman’s relation with men, she had come in contact with a soul, which something within her, a soul—for lack of more precise term - was eager to greet. There was a spirituality investing the proclaimed devout lover which she recognized with astonished reverence. Geoffrey she had loved in a harum-scarum, all in all fashion. In the absorbing wonder and joy of her episodic marriage she had no time to worry about analysis of sentiment. It had been beautiful, primitive and complete. That was over. Such rapture when there is no scale of values, can come but once in a life. Now she had a scale of values . . .

The London season began to redeem its promise of gaiety. Paula, caught up in the whirl, had little time for thought. Countless friends welcomed her as one re-arisen if not from the dead, at least from unaccountable hibernation. A score of houses were at her disposal, when her month’s visit to the Demeters should be over. Clara was for keeping her indefinitely but yielded to argument. Perhaps she would join them somewhere in the summer. The first of June saw her at the Denhams, he a Conservative Member of Parliament with the curious sociopolitical glaze that spreads over the hardened old Parliamentarian; she, young, sprightly, enamoured of the social game. Denham, as a matter of fact, was a far-distant cousin. As far as the difference in her life went, the change was little more than a moving from one hotel to another in a crowded Riviera resort. Once more her name and photograph appeared every week in the illustrated papers. “The beautiful Mrs. Field”—The mother of a debutante, Sylvia Fleming, having broken a leg in a motor accident, she stood deputy and presented the child at Court. Everything that London could give her was hers for the taking—as it had been in the past. They were blind and lovely weeks.

NOW and then she saw Gregory. He visited her shyly. Pandolfo had come home bringing his bride with him. The lady they discussed but little. A nonchalant question: “She all right?” and a colorless answer: “Quite charming,” summed up the brief discussion. Gregory smilingly announced, however, that he had worked himself to death in putting the house straight, and of course, as soon as she arrived, she had upset all the arrangements. “What woman wouldn’t?” Paula laughed, remembering the museum-like house. “There I sympathize with her.”

Once she asked: “Why aren’t they seen anywhere?" Gregory didn’t know. His own social life, practically non-existent, until Lady Demeter and Paula had stretched out their hands to him, was still limited. The marriage had been announced. The return of Sir Victor with Lady Pandolfo to Tite Street had been officially advertised. The cards of callers were stacked high on the salver in the hall. But of what significance this was to Pandolfo he had no means of gauging. The great man was working harder than ever; often in his laboratory till the early hours of the morning ... It was difficult for him to judge. Now he had his own suite in the big house and dwelt apart.

Then one day she ran into Clara Demeter at Hurlingham. Clara drew her from her party who were watching a polo game and plumped her into a chair some distance away.

“My dear, I was on the point of ringing you up. I’ve seen him."

She reeled off her narrative, lie had caught sight of her standing on the fringe of a waiting luncheon party that day, in the lounge of the Ritz Hotel, and stridden up to her.

"Why haven’t you called on my wife?" To which Lady Demeter, comfortable woman of the world : "llovv was 1, my dear man, to know that you had one?" "I've published the fact in every newspaper in the "How should 1 have known that you did it? One doesn't believe everything one sees in newspapers. "1 thought, at least, you were my friend." said he. “I’m a greater friend of Paula Field,” said Lady Demeter.

He shrugged his shoulders and flickered his hands.

“You cast me out,” said he.

“I do nothing of the kind. If you had written or telephoned or come to see me and in any old way, had said something to this effect: ‘My dear Clara Demeter, I found Paula Field a hopeless proposition, and, being merely a human being with all kinds of needs and the rest of it, I’ve married, out of desperation, a very charming lady—will you let me bring her along, or will you come and see her,’ I should have done whatever was polite—if even out of curiosity. But no. You bring over some kind of a Frenchwoman—”

“She’s as English as you are,” cried Pandolfo.

“That makes it all the worse,” said Lady Demeter. “Anyhow you bring her over, say you’re married to her, and without a word of explanation, expect your friends who thought you romantically in love with Paula Field, to crowd round and fall at the feet of the other lady whom you have delighted to honor. No, no, my friend. That sort of thing isn’t done. You cast yourself out.”

The kindly lady was greatly pleased with her set-down of the Great Pandolfo, for she repeated it several times to Paula, with fresh garnishings.

T T E HAD stood before

-*■ her, bending on her stern hard brows and hard eyes that half frightened her. But she wasn’t to be frightened or browbeaten. When a man has behaved like an idiot and knows it, and knows that a woman knows it, then, if a woman can’t take advantage of her opportunity, God help her— For the moment he had nothing to say. Clara followed up her advantage.

“Do you expect Paula Field, too, to call on Lady Pandolfo?” she enquired.

“I think we might leave Paula out of the question,” said he.

Lady Demeter countered by saying that Paula was the very essence of this particular question.

“Then I softened a bit,” said Clara. “I don’t think he’s very happy. He has grown older. I asked him whether his wife was there.”

Paula put up her hand. “My dear, this really doesn’t interest me very much, and I certainly don’t want to hear about her.”

“Well, she wasn’t there, anyway. So you won’t. He was giving a man’s business lunch party. Which reminded him that he must return to his duty. So he went, without more ado.”

Paula rose. She wanted to look at the polo. But Clara restrained her for a moment longer. She must tell her of the crowd she saw him with in the restaurant. Vultures and foxes and fat pink pigs. Where could the man have dug them up? There were about eight of them. She drew a picture of Pandolfo, at the head of his table, his back to the Green Park window, gesticulating, laying down the law, snarling at his guests—yes, glaring as if he hated them, and showing his teeth—while they pointed fingers at him or waved hands, palms upwards under his nose. It was the most dreadful luncheon party she ever had seen.

The picture lingered unpleasantly in Paula’s mind for a considerable time. It seemed, in view of Gregory Uglow’s half confidences, the revelation of a new aspect of the man fiercely at bay, with his back against the wall.

Then, one evening, about a fortnight afterwards, at supper at the Embassy Club, a young man, her neighbor, one of the many of her legion of vague acquaintances, pointed out a woman dancing with a clean shaven, saturnine dark man, whose eyeglass, firmly wedged in, lowered the under-eyelid so that the red showed and suggested the eye of a dangerous dog.

“Do you know who that is?”

“I know the man, of course—by sight only, thank goodness. Everyone does—Cosmo Phelps.”

“Yes. Dreadful fellow. But the woman? Look now, she’s turning round.”

“I’ve seen her about, here and there,” said Paula. “Rather pretty and attractive, in a common sort of way.” “That’s Lady Pandolfo.”

The announcement was like a sudden stab in her heart. She said rather foolishly:

“Are you sure?”

The young man laughed. “Of course. I was introduced to her here a few nights ago. Don’t suppose she’ll re-

member me. And I know Pandolfo, too. You know whom I mean—Sir Victor Pandolfo?”

“Oh yes, I’ve met him,” she replied.

“A tremendous card, isn’t he? I come across him in the City. I’m a mining-engineer, you know. That’s how. Oh yes, that’s Lady Pandolfo right enough. Not long married—”

Paula looked at the woman whom indeed she recognized as a figure seen before in public places, with a little curl of disdain at the corners of her lips. She was a woman of considerable beauty, slim, exquisitely and daringly gowned, fresh colored, eyes and mouth animated by alluring laughter as she looked up into her partner’s face. Paula remembered that, on the previous occasion, she had always seen her thus—accentuated, as it were, either in a dancing-man’s arms or leaning over, bare bodied, across a small restaurant table.

She said to the young man, rather coldly: “Why did you think I should be interested?”

“This is a foolish and idle place,” he replied, in a tone of apology. “A new star shooting into the firmament— lots of people have asked who she is.”

“And who is she, besides being Lady Pandolfo?”

“Ah!” said the young man, “the rest is—gossip.”

“And silence, I hope.”

“That’s what I meant to convey,” said he.

The dance over she watched the couple cross to a champagne covered table, where two more couples joined them. The two other women looked hard, seasoned, commonplace, of the predatory type which regards bridge, race-meetings and the friendship of men familiar with the turf and with stock Exchange affairs, as a definite means of adding to their incomes: outwardly respectable enough to be admitted through the doors of the exclusive club, but inwardly a charnel house of morals and human emotions. Once more disdain flickered at the corners of Paula’s lips. And then she recognized one of the men as Monte Dangerfield.

She was glad when the party broke up so that she could think quietly alone.

What was Pandolfo’s wife doing in that galley? Why did he allow her to belong to its dreadful crew? For dreadful crew it was, even below the breath of scandal.

There was Cosmo Phelps, a man notoriously living on his wits, a sinister figure in international society, whose name was always cropping up in the devious by-ways of petty finance, known to be behind all kinds of gambling hells, a bird of prey who by some magic managed to wear the plumage of ordinary social fowl; a man who had lived for many years on the borderland between Society and the walls of a gaol. And with him, was Monte Dangerfield, still admitted within the pale of decent folk; but a vulture as rapacious as Cosmo Phelps. Was it not to him that her foolish old father mainly owed his financial ruin? And the women!

She had a prescience of tragedy. Two pictures haunted her. Clara’s: that of the snarling Pandolfo; the one she had just before her eyes: that of the laughing, beautiful, sensuous woman, manner, body, heart, soul, obviously part and parcel of the galley’s crew.

For all her pity for Pandolfo, which rose above resentment and scorn of marital weakness, if such there was, she felt powerless to act. She thought of consulting Gregory. But what could he do? Tell his dynamo of an employer that his wife was making his name as mud in the eyes of social London? Pandolfo would blast him with thunderbolts. Seek Pandolfo herself? No, there were limits to woman’s magnanimity. The path to Pandolfo was strewn with every kind of prides and delicacies exquisitely torturing to walk upon.

She revelled and danced through the next two or three weeks, during which she only once had a fleeting glimpse of Lady Pandolfo. It was on the lawns at Ascot, and she was talking animatedly to an elderly peer notoriously debauched. Yet on that occasion, too, she saw in the distance, for an instant, Pandolfo, greyhatted, magnificent, alone, standing with folded arms surveying the scene from the far edge of the crowd.

At the end of June she went back to Chadford.

CHAPTER XVII

IT HAD been a trick as old as the Stone Age; as old as woman’s guile than which nothing human can be older; a trick that, in spite of legendary hoariness, is sempiternally taken by man as a manifestation of the divine. It is of primordial simplicity. Given a grain of guile and it cannot fail. All the woman has to do is to work the man up to consolation point, and then—console him. This to Nesta de Breville had been as easy as Ring.

From the start she had everything in her favor. She bore an authentic title; she came of unimpeachable English stock; she had beauty and an extensive and peculiar knowledge of the world. She had as her shipboard neighbor a man whose clumsiness set him at once penitently at her feet. She had the glamor of moonlight and midnight and balmy air and a mild Atlantic ever blue. When he told her of his romantic passion for another woman, she smiled, knowing that he was but a poor fool man lost and won. All that was in his heart for the obdurate lady she allowed him to pour out into her angel ears. The process of exhaustion lasted a couple of days. Pandolfo was nothing if not vast. And then, following ancient, deliberate system she began to fill him up with herself. Being a woman of few reticences save those counselled by a cold intelligence, she filled him up to the neck. The process hardly required subtlety. She needed little recourse to the man's pity for the eternally misunderstood woman, the lonely soul on the heights pining for its spiritual mate. The psychology' of the matter was as crudely evident to her as to Frank Demeter. She had brains; yes, also the gift of light wit, tact, the manners of I tS edtQifliflg ht~r in h nfu~ed 4 the t~ut all 31 3he, watll pal pIt at in~. Ia ughing te~ ,ng, at her n rice ty t he tI

Ic at I~u i aneir L her etpless vehement slave. S a all t h nt sb hac ahttnttc nt .t her visit to w hit ncr she asLinu e uavs further It ct ra r t Jut! a as tie LI for treetitit n cai I )t tialt h ii e n~ h II. ntttg r a it LIII IOU? LtLU ii Le tit a tt Brt II ii I t the { erj 0 N t~t.tg itt it .r t `0 nLt.Ztt kr - ii C' \t .t,r to satisfy -, it L!Lt % iiii Ittit .t V~s' ?t Its \~htrt the U tttt a tILL L tttitllt'lc 3, - ttLt? ottat. ure \ t at iLLS c It Jilt?) art tale-s it II Ut :1 [[SC U ILL. antp WILt. iar.n~ • `i tutU rt h~-ir~ng nt a • Lne~~ ur :4-ti

[[F ,y eLL e~nl'.~r .~ i.zHiwhtt: t[[e~ i,~ ) t~t t [[`a! it 11 tc k he hack It: `~ j i h utte t~ q!. t~ [tt' I cn: .1!.! ji:t:!: ) fl )`Jfl! [[IS I -1k Pci ` i N i i!: :her. u_r ii1~. ,p~ I i 1av~ wu i her :~ -•-

y •~ ui H, : ira: 1 her about the British ran jc"~r n:ar.r.er. Behold the wife of Fan, in. r at iii exi~u:siteiy gowned, hung with unz i wn hi~ zauntlet. \Va~ there such an S a knr"r: a" Then ulienly he would clash hi~ mines lesnair. A"~a fe~hen~zan fret a' the restricted social in a d `a :r:e ii' return to Europe. D ` ur.d~ -~ and I must perfect my metal?'' I dd rue al She regarded it. although rn a~ lack of interest. It was - B" i b couHi declare: •T'nless I succeed in the r'. v: . .. at rained Ta show her a threatening C . : r U" `~ h ffrmamen' would have been the •fne~ ii )ftheGreat\Ian. T5 c's a must be naii'r he. ar ay~ .ey must I'' ltr .r.g I ay otherwise? she ventured once. L~ by temfng into the mountains

aza -~ tnrh:n~ hut that, She hiftc.d her `a w ai g mssi' to death. He needed a E .a d 15 w an: -c here o death," said he, "in Er. ziin w rr::n rnyie o :mmortality." roe gardel w~can':e a~ hough he were a hit B ard L~sr~rs of the Paulinium Steel amored return. Even Gregory, .Jrram an I n ate:. uggestcd it. With one lien asnes he `de .~ . Ftc r~c'scended post-haste ar, urin u;rin ` fe. a: `in Tuesday .1 n ad our pa--azes't ct her'tns. ri made for me. ` he dc ared. Royai Ja:, of tea and came hack Zr: a ecad-e-:reta~i~se. -a a act \V: . y iu never belis''c~ it?'' T os' r.e Esrencanty of hia Star waiLed a cc'..:azs `rat `rms desperate. `Jn the eve of his `a nz te save a roe: oar:; - `nose who had hefriended hi' a .:e I ..::r.g tb at~e es Lady Pandolfo -done almost dazea.~ r. `he ref ert n of h~ gi ry :n which he had the SC 1' t' ;est:na m:x~~elf n .e yags tr~at soc asaed him whether he

1YL~l~,CtL.~11i~ h.t~l t a~~n uly si tpS t announe t heir marriage in • tps? \\ hat St ps? 11 Brazil knows it, Europe must 1 nwoenltnt say usual ," site stud. 1 ltt'\ ituelit of it • i was too busy. You and the flt'~. \\ hit I it vu suggest it itefore~ If you think tight 1) lo~t. lii 50111 a \lareonigram to the at it

He started up and would have sped to the wireless office, had she not restrained his impetuosity. Time enough when they landed. There was a point which she had often wished to discuss. "Do sit down again." He obeyed. She made her point. Until she had married Pandolfo, she had been content to keep the name of her former husband. It was her right and the title helped a lonely woman on her path through cosmopolitan hotels. Still -by the depravity of his life the Comte de Breville had made the name a byword of disgrace. Coming to England afresh, after many years, could she not enter society under sweeter colors? For instance, couldn't T he Times announcement run: "On the so and so, at so and so, Sir Victor Pandolfo, K.B.E., to Nesta, daughter of the late Isaac Saunderson, D.D., Canon of Ely"?

P~0'~F'O threw up his hands. Why, of course. Of course. He hated, loathed and abominated the sound or suggestion of de Breville. He wished the scandal had never been horn. She drew a fluttering breath of relief. "But why wait till now?" he asked. She didn't know. It was a delicate matter from which che had shrunk. Besides he had always been so preoccu pied She uggled herself out of the situation. I must cend a Marconigrani, in any case," said he. For it suddenly oerurred to him that he was bringing a wife to a bachelor house. Hitherto he had obeyed a life-long instinct of secretive ness a:~ to hi, domestic affairs. Even Paula, alone of mortals to .vhom he had revealed his parentage, had never heard of his Russell Square housemaid mother and the semi-detached villa at \Valham Green and the motor car and chauffeur and the funeral plumes that had impressed the Fulham Road. No one living had heard of his first wife, caught up, strange comedy of the gods, on a previous voyage from Brazil. His life, and a man's inti mate life is that concerned with his women-folk, he

reserved from view with an almost Oriental sense of inviolability. His taking of a woman to himself was no one's business. So worked on instructive inhibition. Also, after the first frenzy of new husbandship had abated, he remembered his little circle of friends. He hated the eating of his words. And those having been peculiarly high-seasoned, he had no relish for the repast. He sent the friends with an angry wave into the limbo of forgot ten things. Time enough for proclamation of madness when he r e t u r n e d. But now the practical, commonplace an nouncement. He sent his wireless message to Gregory.

The homeward voy age lacked the Vivien enchantment of the outward one. He played the part of the Great Pandolfo. The Captain was his very honest and humble servant-had not Pan dolfo saved him and ship from submarine destruction d u r i n g the war? He delighted to do the great man honor and Pandolfo accepted honor as a thrush does worms But apart from hideous anxiety, that, for all his courage, awakened him, in cold sweat, every morn ing, gloomy doubts and suspicions, hith erto repelled, began to assail him. One day out, they sat alone on opposite sides of the ledge-di vided writing table in the upper smokeroom on the right of the companion-way. He was so deeply immersed in his work that only a shrill clear-pitched v made him aware of~a close presence. Nests! Hello, old thing,who would have thought of seeing you here!"

He started, just in time to see a swift sign of rebuke on his wiles face and an in-

determinate, effeminate, fair-moustached, - middle-aged Englishman, with outstretched hands, in act of greeting her. She rose quickly, mistress of the situation. "\`ietorthis is an old friend of mine. Ma~or Lethaby - my hushand, Sir Victor Pandolfo." The two men bowed. "And where have you sprung from? Its years since we met." "Pre-war," said the man with over-necessary emphasis. Pandolfo stood hands on hips. "Bound for Southampton?" Lethaby laughed. `Of course. Where else?" "\Ve touch at Madeira, Lisbon, pleasant places. Also Cberbourg, one of the ocean gates of France." ``If you won't look on me as a Jonah,'' said the other, ``I think T'll carry on to Southampton.'' lie took smiling leave, for the moment, and went his way. Nests flashed. "You've been rude." ``Why proclaim the obvious? I have no use for men of that sort, When I have no use for a man I tell him so.'' She clenched her bands impotently, tore up the lctter she was writing and throwing the fragments into the waste-paper basket, flung angrily away, Pandolfo sat, with finger tips at the roots of his crisp bronze hair, and his thoughts were miles from the interests of the Paulinium Steel Company Limited. In five months things bad happened: many t longs bad happened: :111 of them little lb in gs, each as unimportant as an individual Liliput ian arrow shot into the side of be bound ( ulliver, hut in I beir individual a~grc~ate, mire t ban irrit at lug. madden in p. so that be could roar wit Ii exasperation.

1 111111 b:td beec: a foolish, accidental i:cst ion of ulolley. l'ncler niisappreheusion be bad left her ma doquat ely supplied. On his ret urn to Rio she lisd reproached him somewhat tartly. She bad been forced to borrow. This splendid remorse for carelessness swelled the ebeque that he wrote there and then. Yet, afterwards, the thought smote him: Why should she borrow when she had an ample private fortune? Not that he wished her to spend a milreis of her own, save for her good pleasure. The idea of sharing expenses in any way was repulsive to his magnificence. But on an emergency . . . She had but to present her letter of credit ... To discuss the matter was unthinkable. But the little puzzle remained.

Then there had been a pleasant Spanish secretary of Legation, met at the British Consul’s, who when introduced to Lady Pandolfo, kissed her hand and said:

“Surely I have had the pleasure of meeting you two years ago at Monte Video?”

And she had replied: “Surely you are mistaken, Señor. I think we have met, but it was either in Madras or Saint Sebastian. I have never been to Monte Video.”

Plis quick ear had caught the dialogue—he stood but a pace or two away; and he remembered Pelham Foxe’s gossip concerning a lady hurriedly named Madame de Treville who had been in Monte Video, two years before.

On their way back to the hotel from the luncheon party she had said: “I wish to God we could get out of this place.” He asked why. She shrugged impatient shoulders.

“I hate the people. The English are provincial. The Portuguese are filthy and the Spaniards are insufferable.” ‘It’s by no means the country of my predilection,” said he, with unusual gentleness. “But it happens that all I care for in the world is bound up in it.”

She sulked, handsomely. “I count for nothing then.” “You are bound up in my life of ambition,” said he. “Without me, you’d carry on just the same.”

He pondered for a moment, looking out at the wide, white thoroughfare and the busy flashing trams, and turned to her.

“Whatever I may be, I am a Force and must carry on till I die.”

“That’s pleasant for me, isn’t it?” she scoffed.

He asked: “What more can I give you?”

“A bit of my’own way, now and then.”

He threw out his arms: “My Heavens, what restraint do I put on you?”

“You tie me here,” she cried, seizing her opportunity. She went on.

She was bored to misery. The place, the people, the climate got on her nerves.

The argument continued when they reached the hotel.

In some despair he suggested that she should sail by the first available boat and wait for him in London. She rejected the proposal angrily. A stranger to England for so many years, she must return with him and take up her immediate position as his wife. She laughed, with some bravura.

“Don’t you see, you must guarantee my respectability?”

As a compromise, he made another suggestion: that,

during his next absence, she should take ship to Buenos Aires and stay for a while with her friends. She stared at him as though he were mad, and burst into hysterical laughter.

“You have queer ideas of honeymoons!”

He said in his eager way:

“I’ll take you there myself. Leave you with your friends and when my weary business is over, I’ll come for you and we’ll sail home from there.” She pulled herself together. “No, no. I’ll stick it.”

THEN had followed the incident of Lady Pandolfo’s maid, a Frenchwoman, gaunt and silent, and apparently dog-devoted. By letter he learned that his wife had summarily dismissed Victorine for insolence and general impossibility and had taken her passage on a homeward steamer. A day later he received an unsigned letter in French. It began:

“If Monsieur desires to know why Madarne did not want to go to Buenos Aires ...”

He read no further, tore the conjectured unclean thing in pieces and scattered them over the Andes.

Then, there was the disturbing faded scrap of paper; a bit of label on one of her trunks which caught his eye as he surveyed the pile of luggage for the steamer’s hold; just a dirty little right-hand bottom corner fragment bearing nothing but the letters “EO.” He could think of no other place in the world thus ending save Montevideo.

Yet over and over again of her own accord, without question, from the time of their very first meeting, she had definitely stated that this was her first visit to the continent of South America.

There had been a hundred other trivial things.

He sat with his head in his hands, wondering what kind of woman he had married. She seemed as remote from him as the teeth-shewing stars whose pale performances he had seen, in her company, on the screens of picture palaces,

On arriving in London he made a brave show. The faithful Gregory met them, was introduced with sincere and exuberant flourish.

“My second self, of whom I have so often spoken. He would call himself I know, my fidus Achates. But that’s his modesty. Fidus Achates never seemed to do a hand’s turn for Aeneas. He was a bit of an ass. But Gregory,” he clasped and shook his shoulder, “is a great man. You must be the best of friends.”

“I’m sure we shall,” said Lady Pandolfo.

And each looked into the other’s eyes and felt perfectly and coldly sure that they would not.

When they entered the house which Gregory, trusting to loving earnestness and foresight rather than to experience, had transformed from the cold museum into something resembling a home, with bright curtains and cushions and such-like hasty decorations—a young lady decorator, lioness-cub met at Hinsted had guided him— Pandolfo made great gestures of enthusiasm.

“Another place, my dear boy, another place altogether. What’s the artist’s crown—laurel, bay, parsley—can’t remember. Anyhow you deserve a golden crown. And all done in a fortnight! Marvellous! . . . Ah, your boudoir—” This on the tour of the house. “Here I hope you’ll be happy. A touch of genius, my boy, putting the Old Crome there. Falls in with the chintz. What do you think, Nesta?”

“It’s very well thought out,” she replied, with a hint of certain sweet acidity, “but unfortunately chintz and I are old enemies.”

“If I could have had but a hint, Lady Pandolfo . . .” said Gregory, somewhat downcast, sensitively conscious of her previous lip service to Pandolfo’s exuberance.

“Of course, Mr. Uglow, you have done wonders. But how should you know?” she turned to Pandolfo. “I see this room all rich purples and gold. A divan here, instead of that stiff Chippendale. You understand, Victor?” “As you wish,” he replied. “Purple and gold, like the gleaming cohorts of the Assyrian. But I don’t see our dear mellow English Old Crome in the setting.”

“You can stick that anywhere. There’s heaps of room for it in the house.”

SHE made triumphant and iconoclastic progress. In many instances the Lady of the House had unquestionable right on her side. Hers was the province, the power and the expression of her Glory. But there are ways and ways of asserting sovereignty.

When they were alone, she said to Pandolfo.

“I think your young man is a fidus what-you-call it after all.”

The instinctive mutual hostility grew fast. She put immediate ban on Gregory’s intimate domestic relations. A paid secretary, he must live apart. He acquiesced gently-

“Sorry, my dear fellow,” said Pandolfo, “but women have their own ideas abdht running {louses.”

(}regqry smiled. se FtO~% ft usts ,u. d a rncrt t.. .~ LU ti It r age tar ;tt'tt ;t r .~tt LtS She .. rr e; r sk drea a (e~t ti set; a'. h. a a CL 2! C U It Li ,~ h_Ut Nfltfl t~~.Io.dV rt .~.` lot' t, ed for r F; t t tie tt ro, to tt; I . t .rtstt. ot ho. -~ .~ 1 -.t n;rnorts ftr th, - -!` tttt' re;axti --ut' e gr;p~. a oh rs ` - s `ught t tte coitO or t hat .tatl'to., a ..-:e. I `0. re and et try .` f . . ..r:a. .artn-ra, he lily .(r;rtze lea years, as yet n d o~th hid tara~led. atIt; F F., n r~t;ud rust;.;uttoitg he t-tnp;re: apart front i:~ ). ritt;,-r_r I ocr :te los acquaint -itt ci a. i-LI. to t-retlte a ir,-sl; lU `UI' r no tout or tnt' oppor-an i-. o at; tU 0 a r;tit'letts as she &r.it;ti -. it. t'r:r;c i the ever.1, 1 a. -r ,,--,-;. ft. no and scarcely -t .1 o for a FijI h.'tights were con.r n te .t.-rtc:tn. r'r-;iCent: how rn iS.. t'a rot unt `rio ks Wit hour st rast rn--e'n

( \P :~i~ \\ 111

p t,j .~r. p.vt of August .r t ot tf -~..ar,. strict, Mr. \ereiy. a - h - . - k wine crisp `a: - p rr. : irefully lnwn - middle. ru- ext rhefir:e I English ru:rt w:ti. l.~lnctiOn, an i s F:n:.ish gent ewi~ man `l :n; :. . ri: c,rcumstanc*-s. ;sas ea-ty. [) : ar I r--:-'-n;ler she -. IA h `risr'ils .n Si-itianci. Ontoher 45'a r. - . r,c at nai:nrd. The mr - rn re;eat itself. - n. --r a wrd. Clara - a sr - - . ss:p of the :eor.ine ---C k~ Lin hail IHi':ncun wrote is' s:trhed dk'reely o . - "~-r. ur 01 Panriofi, anti - :.. S". I a - or scantiest news. ifl - .` a ``iron he novel was Thsn-~ R~ sw rrira.sc-'l it: kind )~i 1 - an --5 `;` n merits of arro - -.--c-~; s wizdom. it com ma r' r f the novel reading - wane up one morn-` a -i~. ner puouishers - agoeeah su(-eess.

I - .iary~hat.nc'eding a ....~ - ancial sancrion. `ip - .. - a:aiin thcBasil a . , - by :-~-r Amenef:n~ttime-'fnre - marion. she riad numoni `~"n~enning nbc' cam" from all sides. -. `~-`- ,rn ci r.e irnpossiBahington c-" a - .a Pacdcclfo was se* .c.;n" H" f r.ad bought A a r,: - ce C their 2 1 `~r - au Sceri •er. a n"'-iIan vith the can a no'' n:m at the `am r wr.ene he as dninz me Of .e Bzilian U it H'ayt. nrr.c.anjwhou any - - p~c n nary rc ---~a hl~-e vrclcar. v~ay. So ns ocr mu near you kncw. rn~ t"aP~ .ba, w um~~"--a:v enup(.1 in,. :.-,: c' My ci"an feiiocc. ru -"h" sn-rnan~anrtocee.though I didn enma`b I `am ycu. a n "mm. cci wYr. a iau?h. `He's es aa c-i' - es sa . S;-r en. f:ngc-ning his e far.'-' a.: of tc-Cineee. 1 ou..e zra Ecur. you ii forgive my I e po...ng my stony. He n.e .:y~ tha and rIght I em sned vO thoucand - n m a ar I r.tcO2 you ma I gfvc- . an option on it for

that price till twelve o’clock to-morrow.’ Then he waved his hand and followed his host out of the dining-room.”

"Did you buy the picture?” asked

"1 did. In all modesty 1 may call myself an expert in Post Raphael paintings, what an older generation would term a connoisseur. I could name two or three American collectors who would pay three thousand guineas at least for that Yaeearo. It is unique. Not that I contemplate selling it," he added hastily, lest Paula should suspect him of mean commercialism. "1 only mention the fact to show you that I know what I’m talking about. Besides 1 have always hankered after the picture.”

“Why, do you think, did he want to sell it?”

He paused for a rhetorical instant. "The man’s devilish hard up.”

A queer little stab in the heart made her wince. The possible failure of Paulinium steel had been a subject for gentle regret ever since that May morning the year before when Gregory had made her the confidant of his anxieties. Pandolfo’s amazing marriage and hiswithdrawal from her horizon, together with her absorption in her own work, had blunted the regret’s poignancy. Men of vast affairs often failed in their ambitions. Had he but demanded or allowed it, she would have given him her spiritual sympathy. The financial aspect of this she had never envisaged. He was a man, apparently, of vast wealth, careless of expenditure; an exotic prince, commanding inexhaustible resources in—say—Samarcand, or whatever romantic El Dorado you pleased. For he lived en prince, he acted en prince, with boundless generosity. In a vague way she had known that the failure of Paulinium would mean some monetary loss. Yet what could that matter compared with the collapse of his card-castle of dreams? His material life would remain unaffected. But now, Spencer’s crude statement had revolutionized all her conceptions. The man was devilish hard up. So was her father. Her father had sold his pictures. Pandolfo was selling his, needing money for the ordinary carrying on of life. It seemed fantastic, incredible. She tried to picture Pandolfo shabbily dressed, hesitating whether he should walk or incur the expense of a taxi, averting his head from an outstretched hand conscious of no largesse wherewith to fill it. Her fancy boggled at the task. He could not be other than the Grand Panjandum, selfcreated such, she was sure, since his childhood when he was associated with his father in hawking plaster of Paris images through the streets.

THE inevitable encounter took place on a grey March morning in Sloane Street. Pandolfo was rushing for a jeweller’s shop, across pavement to car, where walking down sedately she found herself in direct apposition. Only by a swerve in his imperious course did he avoid jostling her. He raised his hat, as to a strange woman, and began:

“I’m so sorry.” Then: “You, Paula, of all people!”

“Why shouldn’t I walk down Sloane Street, seeing that I live within a stone’s throw of it?”

“Always the same,” said he.

“I hope so. And you?”

He took her by the arm and by some trick of force had swept her past the door held open by the chauffeur into the car, before she could realize what had happened. She started indignantly from the seat on which she was almost flung and broke into angry protest. The chauffeur slammed the door.

“Let me get out—”

“A scandal in Sloane Street? My dear, is it thinkable? Where can I have the pleasure of driving you?”

“To the end of the street, so as to avoid the scandal you seem to be afraid of,” said Paula.

“I’ll drive you where I like,” he flashed, “and show you that I, too, am always the same. You’re back in your flat?” She nodded. “We’ll go there.” He flung the address to the chauffeur through the open window and the car moved on.

“Do you realize I haven’t seen you for nearly eighteen months?” he asked.

“That’s scarcely my fault,” she retorted. “I don’t care whose fault it is, at any rate, it’s my damned misfortune.”

“In the circumstances, is that quite a loyal thing to say?”

“In the circumstances, yes. I’ve been God’s greatest fool.”

She met his eyes coolly, in spite of the odd little thrill half of amusement half of a kind of elemental fright, at thus being forcibly abducted. So had he imposed his will on her many times before, putting her into an absurd position from which she could not retire with dignity.

"What kind of answer do you want me

lie shot out his hands. “A generous one at any rate."

She felt at a loss for reply. Obviously the transcendent folly of which he accused himself was that of mating with a lady who wasted his substance in riotous living with Monte Dangerfield and his crew. 11 itherto she had been very sorry for him; but her sorrow was tempered by a woman’s humiliated resentment. Had she not cabled the gift of herself to him one emotional afternoon last May, only to be hit in the face the next morning by the news of his marriage?

She turned her head aside, shrinking from an unfamiliar hunger in his eyes. Outwardly he wore his usual air of the conqueror. Far from the shabbiness pictured from Spencer Babington’s gossip, his sleek attire proclaimed not only vulgar ease but the daily thought of the prosperous man careful of his personal appearance. He was the same Pandolfo, master of the earth, vehement, imperious —and yet there was a difference. His full face had grown thin; there was greying hair at his temples; his nose seemed to be absurdly pinched; and the faintest little bloodshot striations marred the serenity of his clear and commanding eyes. She looked idly aside, conscious of subtle change. Then she darted a swift glance and, meeting his, shivered from a sudden grotesque impression. Had the lion turned into wolf?

THE car drew up before the front steps of Basil Mansions. From the spot whence he abducted her to the flat, it was a matter almost of seconds. The chauffeur opened the car-door. Pandolfo leaped out and aided her to descend. She turned with a smile, socially gracious, and waved a valedictory hand.

“Thanks for driving me home, Sir Victor.”

She marched into the hall of the Mansions. The lift man stood by the gates and touched his cap, as she entered; but Pandolfo was her heels.

“I’m afraid—’’she began.

He interrupted. “No matter. You needn’t stand on ceremony with me.” And then pleasantly to the man: “Still here?”

The attendant grinned his appreciation of recognition.

“For the last twenty years, Sir Victor.” Again what could woman do? To bid him begone would only arouse undesirable astonishment in the mind of the liftman on whom Pandolfo, a couple of years ago, had taken care to impress his personality. In her drawing room she faced him. “Well, you’re here. Once more you’ve taken me at a disadvantage. Whether it’s chivalrous or decent of you, I leave you to íudge. I can’t see what we’ve got to say to each other that could be of any possible use. You’ve chosen to go your way; I’ve gone mine.”

“The pity of it,” said he.

Visible through the open communicating door of the dining room the Perseus gleamed in its corner. His quick eye caught it, and he stretched out a hand.

“I’m glad you kept that. It may be my masterpiece.”

She made vague answer, asking herself the while what he was doing there, disturbing her, as she hated to be disturbed, by his presence, his air of authority and possession.

“I have every wrong on my side, I admit,” he said suddenly. “But we can’t get away from each other. I’ve been wondering how, in this conventional world in which you live, I could approach you. I’m aware that there’s the government system of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones. I could also have rung at your door. But as I say you live in the polite world.”

He walked a pace or two and returned. “Anyhow, fate has taken things out of our hands. We’ve met. And now comes the question I’ve been trying to solve for the last year. Why would you have none of me?”

SHE suddenly felt incomprehensibly and ludicrously angry. She could not tell him that in the space of less than twenty-

four hours, she had offered herself to him and that he had summarily rejected her, declining on a hatefully lower range of passions and the etceteras of the poet. The picture of the common woman and her common crew flashed before her vision. She said:

“What’s the good of going over the old ground over and over again? Everything’s ended now. You did it. I didn’t. You’re married. There’s nothing more to be said.”

He sat on the head of the sofa and rested his arm on the back. “There’s everything in the world to be said. You put me away from you. I’m not a congenital celibate. Another woman passed by. Need I dot i’s and cross t’s?”

She turned flaming. “You’ve no right to talk like that. You married, with your eyes open. The only commonsense^thing is to keep out of each other’s way.”

“We can’t,” cried Pandolfo, with dramatically uplifted hand. “That’s the tragi-comedy of the whole thing. ^As I can’t get away from you, so you can’t get away from me. Do you suppose you could have written this last novel of yours, if I hadn’t come into your life?”

She gasped for a moment, standing before him splendidly indignant.

“You’re mad. It’s monstrous to say such a thing.”

“It isn’t,” said he. “It’s humble truth. Before you met me you couldn’t write it. Afterwards, when I had stirred up your soul and made you hate and love and hate again and throw yourself into the arms of another man so as to escape me, and then realize the ludicrousness of the proceeding —when I had made you grasp something of the Homeric sense of laughter—Afterwards, I say, when you were struggling against me, when every fibre of you was restrung to concert pitch, you^ sat down and produced a work of art. Your life of widowhood, your princess walk through the great world, unchallenged on account of the beauty and the wonder of you, was deadening your genius—No—there’s no reason to throw up your hands in deprecation. The genius is one who creates. Anybody who creates something out of nothing has a bit of God, the Creator, in him. This bit of God in you was in process of atrophy. I came like a ^yind into your life and revivified it. It’s no use your saying I’m talking like a madman. I know it’s the truth. And it’s no use your retorting that this is a culminating instance of my monstrous egoism.”

“You’re quite right,” she said, with a touch of irony, “it wouldn’t be much good, would it? And now that we’ve both said exactly what we think of each other, and you’ve rejected the only possible solution of the problem you put before me, what else, my dear Victor,” she smiled a trifle wearily, and touched his sleeve, “what else have you to say to a bewildered woman?”

“That’s she’s the only woman in the world for me and that I’m the only man in the world for her.”

She turned away with a gesture of almost comic despair.

“Look,” said he.

“Yes?”

He drew from his _ jacket pocket a jeweller’s case, opened it for a second and flashed a second’s glitter of gems before her eyes, and threw it into the brightly burning fire.

The woman in her shrieked protest. Regardless of anti-climax to she knew not what absurdly heroic gesture, she rushed to the fire-irons. But before she could reach her object, the tongs, he had caught her by the wrist and detained her. In his grip resistance was physically impossible, further protest futile. They watched the dainty case burst and crackle and spurt and a sudden gleam spit and grow angrily black.

He released her.

“A burnt sacrifice on our altar. said he.

He moved swiftly to the door, made a wide gesture of farewell, and went out, leaving Paula standing superbly in the centre of the room, with a smile in her eyes and her brows puckered in puzzlement.

CHAPTER XIX

\ I THAT did it all mean? Paula lunched VV with friends in a vague dream, came home, and in the quietude of her room gave herself up to the consideration of the baffling problem. Her meeting with Pandolfo had, of course, been fortuitous. Either that or predestined. He had caught her up in his maddening Jovian fashion and made her listen to him. But what had he to tell save the same old self-vaunting story, the same old proclamation of their inevitable union? Never before had she defended herself with such lucid valiancy. She had revealed in clear speech her soul’s picture of him. He had accepted it without protest. Nay more, he had carelessly dashed on dark values, lie had claimed as his own the spiritual force at the back of her novel. Was the amazing man mad or gifted with an uncanny insight? Monstrously impudent or superbly conscious of his power?

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Let her think.

He was right in saying that when she had roughed out the scheme of the novel, she was incapable of writing it. It was beyond her artistic strength. Conscious of the fact she had let it lie uncared-for in the dust-bin of her mind. Then he had come, upheaving all the placidities of her life, arousing undreamed of antagonisms, awakening dormant impulses, and she had sat down and, day by day, written vivid and emotional pages, of whose value, at the time, she had been unconscious; . . .

What did it all mean? She felt unaccountably shaken. She reflected that she had not seen Gregory Uglow for a long while. His aloofness almost amounted to desertion. Lady Demeter, too, had vainly tried to grasp a curiously elusive young man. Surely he must have the key to the enigma. She went to the telephone and rang him up. As on previous occasions he was not at home. The servant with whom she was in communication didn’t know when he would return. In fact, he had been out of town for some time. In Staffordshire? Yes. The servant thought he was at the Works. For a moment she thought of asking for Pandolfo; then, rejecting the idea, she rang off.

THE next morning’s newspaper gave her the sudden tidings that “Paulinium Steel Ltd.” had gone into liquidation. “The company inaugurated by the famous inventor, Sir Victor Pandolfo,” so ran the paragraph, “in order to exploit his new metal Paulinium, that was to take the place of steel, has been unsuccessful in attaining its object, owing it is believed to the failure in the supply of the secret ore which plays an analogous part in its manufacture to that of spiegeleisen in the Bessemer process. Interesting and sensational developments are expected.”

Her heart sank. This was the end foreshadowed by Gregory Uglow on that past May morning. Pandolfo was defeated, possibly ruined. And yet, yesterday he had stood before her in his old conquering guise.

She wrote impulsively:—

“My dear, dear friend—

“This news, if I read it right is dreadful. Why didn’t you tell me, so that I could have given you some kind of loving sympathy? You must be heartbroken. When you do find a minute, do come to me. Yours, Paula.”

This she despatched by messenger boy. Within an hour he brought a reply, in Pandolfo’s great, firm handwriting.

“Jo son io; remember Henley’s verse. Have faith in me.”

The days went on, but he did not come. Gregory Uglow returned to town, explained over the telephone that the great man was wrestling with beasts at Ephesus. Nothing to do ÍDUÍ sit and listen to the myriad-tongued gossip of London. Pandolfo’s name became as mud. He was a crack-brained adventurer, a charlatan, an exploiter of credulous investors: he had pocketed a quarter of a million; he had fled; he had stolen all the inventions that had made him famous; he was penniless, going about cadging for ten pound notes; his father had been an organ-grinder with a monkey. At any rate his career was that of the rocket and the stick. Down he must come . . . That seemed to Paula the only thing certain in all the wild rumors.

“I told you so,” said Spencer Babington.

Tongues were not less idle concerning Lady Pandolfo. Here they had more authentic grounds on which to wag. Suddenly everybody appeared to have known of her as a notorious woman, a common hetaira of gentle birth and position.

“You may take it from me,” said Spencer, “that the following is exact. You’ll do me the credit of vouching for me as no scandalmonger. Also my training has enabled me to penetrate the clouds of imagination and prejudice and follow the clear line of fact. And, in this case I’ve taken particular pains to get this clear line.”

SHE was really the daughter of a Canon of Ely and had married the Comte de Breville, a debauched member of the old French nobility. But she had been as debauched as he. Long before his death in the odor of sinfulness, she had been the maitresse en titre of one of his friends and neighbors, from whom she had run away with a wealthy Italian manufacturer. The Comte de Breville, a strict Catholic, in spite of his unsavory existence, refused to divorce her—in order to marry him she had been received into the Catholic Church—and wiped her out of his memory. He died, after spending the last penny of his fortune and left her to the world’s mercy. And so, as in a figure of a dismal dance, she had drifted over the world, ever grasping, after the povertyhaunted way of her kind; ever managing to dress, wear jewels and live in luxury; ever succeeding in the maintenance of a vague social position. One man she had ruined, a young American who had shot himself in a hotel corridor outside her room in Montevideo. The boy’s name was Bellamy Shanks, an attache of legation in Uruguay.

“I got this from his cousin who’s in the American Embassy here,” said Spencer.

Paula listened with the sheltered woman’s disgust. She knew the type, although she could not understand it. Her mind refused to travel beyond the laws of her caste. That the ranks of the hetairae should be recruited from little milliners, mannequins, chorus girls and such beautiful sea foam sparkling refreshingly over the billows of the lower classes was, in the nature of things, scarcely reprehensible from the point of view of the sea foam. But that a lady born and bred should take up the profession was incomprehensible.

“And how much of this, do you think, does Pandolfo know?”

Spencer made his little diplomatic concession to foreign gesture.

“My dear, if she hasn’t told him herself, who is there would tell him? Pandolfo isn’t a man to whom one can go and say: ‘Your wife is this, that and the other.’ ” That he married the siren in ignorance of her sirenic record, he felt assured. In a flash he had given her the reason, and she still shivered with a cold shame at the justice of it. Faute des merles on prend les grives. The bluntest of sexual declarations. But that was a matter of long ago. The immediate question was his knowledge now.

Even if he knew or not, she felt maddeningly certain that such a woman, in this crisis of his life, was rather millstone round his neck than ark of safety. The mad casting of the jewels into the fire symbolized repudiation.

She wrote again: a long and foolish letter which she tore up and threw into the fire. Then a short note:

“For God's sake, tell me if I can’t do anything for you.”

Then came back the answer.

“When the sun is eclipsed there’s nothing to do but wait until the darkness is over.”

Which for Pandolfo was deeply pessimistic.

CGREGORY came at last, ill, haggard, J looking like death. The past months had been nightmare. He explained what had happened in terms comprehensible to her lay mind. The rich streak of the secret ore had petered out. All Pandolfo’s researches in Brazil had failed to discover another. Yet, in terms of liquid, a faint quantity remained in solution. A few pounds running through a ton, which, though not a commercial proposition, kept hope alive. In the laboratory they had worked themselves grey experimenting with the residue and with other cognate ores. And then, after the first few orders, the metal had shown flaws; there had been breakdowns for which the buying firms had claimed compensan Finally there was no more money to carry on the company even on its experimental side, and now nothing left on which to experiment, Paulinium was dead and in its grave were buried many hundreds of thousands of pounds. "And Pandolfo?” she asked.

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"He must stand the racket. At present he’s a rock, not caring a damn for anybody. Give him a year and he’ll make another fortune for everybody. So he says.”

"He has lost everything, then?”

"As far as 1 can see. He must go through the court.”

"Bankruptcy?” Her voice quavered on the word, which, to her, held almost a criminal flavor.

Gregory uttered a helpless. “Of course,” and stared at her gloomily.

“That means the selling up of everything home, pictures—”

He nodded. "He would never believe it would come. Something would happen. Until a few days ago there was still a man and a gang of workmen digging holes in the Andes . . . Yes, naturally, when a man’s bankrupt he has to surrender every blessed thing he's possessed of. It’s heart-breaking, it’s damnable. Though I’ve seen it coming for a year, I’ve never realized what it would be like.”

There was a long silence. Outside a gusty rain marked the setting in of the dreary March twilight. The maid brought in tea. They drank mechanically. At last Paula asked:

“And you? What is your position?”

He groaned. “I feel a brute not to be able to go down with him on the sinking ship. But that would do neither him nor me any good. I might just as well sit outside his door and refuse food, like a dog. Without my knowledge he has worked me into a big position with the Blickham-Anstruther people—you know —of course you do—they’re world-famous.”

He described with some vividness the little scene. The vast octagonal room, half library, half laboratory, into which Pandolfo had dragged him penniless from the Embankment, many years before. They sat on opposite sides of the library table examining the morning’s dreadful correspondence. The telephone between them rang. Gregory stretched out his hand as usual to take the message; but Pandolfo, impatiently bade him carry on with complicated figures with which he was engaged.

PANDOLFO, ear to receiver, uttered his usual quick: “Yes-yes-yes.” And at last: “Of course he’s a damned fool. But you know that a fool can’t be damned unless there’s something in him worth damnation? Keep it open. You won’t regret it. Wait till I kick him from here to hell . . . What?”—he laughed boyishly “No, nothing personal. If I’m not picturesque I’m naught. Right. Thank you. Good-bye.”

Then he thumped the table with both hands.

“You astounding young ass! What in God’s name made you turn down Blickham and Anstruther?”

For Gregory had received a letter the evening before from that classical firm. Understanding that he was about to sever his long connection with Sir Victor Pandolfo, they would be glad to know if he would care to entertain a proposal they were prepared to put before him in an interview that could be arranged over the telephone with the writer of the letter. And he had replied forthwith that he had no intention of leaving Sir Victor’s service.

“It stands to reason,” said Gregory. “How can I leave you?”

“ ‘I’ll never desert Mr. Micawber,’ ” Pandolfo laughed. “But Mr. Micawber can’t afford the luxury of highly trained scientific secretaries. In fact he hasn’t a damned thing for the highly trained scientist to do, and not a red cent to pay him further salary.”

“Oh, damn the salary,” cried the young man, indignantly.

“I’ve noticed in the course of a vehement life,” said Pandolfo, “that damning things hasn’t the least effect on them. The position is this. You’ve got to be fed, clothed and housed. How are you going to attain these necessities of life without a salary, damn it though you may? You may, in your loyalty make the rejoinder that if I start out with a wallet on my back, and a hat stolen from a scarecrow, and grow a hedgehog beard and take to

the highroad, you’ll do the same. If you don’t realize that this would cause me the greatest possible irritation and annoyance, you haven’t yet begun to understand my character. The proposal that BlickhamAnstruthers are ready to make you is one that 1 myself arranged.”

"You in all this tornado of worry?” Pandolfo leaned back and snapped his fingers in the air.

“Good Heavens! What’s a tornado? What chance has it against a human soul?”

He lit a cigar and turned to the papers he was reading when the telephone disturbed him.

“Ring up Merivale now and make your appointment.”

“I’ll do no such thing,” said Gregory. “That Orkney and Shetland, Pictish mother of yours! She gave you all the virtues except gratitude.”

Gregory Uglow sprang to his feet.

HOW dare he say that? What other sentiment could possibly inspire his present attitude?

Pandolfo bent over the table and held him with his clear eyes.

“1 think to refuse the last gift your greatest friend in the world can give you —the result merely of his affection and solicitude—is ungracious.”

Gregory had to yield, feeling mean, as he told Paula. What else was there to do? She knew Pandolfo’s way. Paula agreed that his acceptance of the position was the only course open to him. It would have been more romantic to starve at Pandolfo’s heels; but the proceeding would have lacked common-sense; was also Pandolfo’s way to be reckoned with. He gave to the last.

“I’d have to do something, sooner or later,” said Gregory. “And this means a couple of thousand a year and a future before me. All his doing, of course.”

He was already outside the flat door when it occurred to her that he had not mentioned Lady Pandolfo. What was she doing in this tornado of worry as he had termed it? She met him on the landing, just as the lift ascended.

“And she—how is she taking it?”

“1 should say badly. But that side of things is a mystery to me. She loathed me at first sight, as you know. I seldom meet her in the house and he scarcely ever refers to her.”

“Where is she now?”

“Abroad. Monte Carlo, I believe.” “How long?”

“She started on the morning when the announcement was made in the papers.” Paula started. Had he not thrown the jewels into the fire the day before?

The electric bell jarred in the lift, summoned for some other floor. The liftman asked:

“Are you going down, sir, or shall I come back and fetch you?”

“I’ll go now,” said Gregory. “That’s really all I know.”

WITH what truth she had rhetorically proclaimed their common wretchedness, she did not surmise till a day or two later when her father burst unexpectedly upon her. He was the picture of the fine old English gentleman facing adversity with almost apoplectic indignation.

Had she seen all these infernal newspaper reports about Paulinium? What was it all about? What was the truth of it? She knew the man and must be aware of the real state of affairs which one could never learn from those scoundrelly and lying papers. Young Bulstrode was in a devil of a way and had told him he had better come up to town and find out what he could.

“If he has been buying shares in Paulinium, I’m afraid he has lost them. I’m sorry for him,” said Paula.

“I don’t care a damn what he has bought. What does it matter to me?” stormed Mr. Veresy.

“Take off your overcoat and sit down, my dear,” said Paula soothingly; and while she was aiding him“Of course it’s a tragic affair for Pandolfo. The seam of secret ore that makes Paulinium has given out and they can’t find any more. So the metal can’t be made and the whole thing has collapsed.”

“Then it is true?”

“Only too true. My poor friend’s ruined.”

Mr. Veresy started up in his chair and threw out his arms wide.

“Then—Good Heavens! Don’t you see that I’m ruined too?”

“You? What have you got to do with Paulinium?”

“How do you suppose I can pay the interest on the mortgage, and live, dammit after all, like a gentleman, without Paulinium?”

“I never supposed anything,” said Paula. “You both—Pandolfo and yourself—assured me that it was a straightforward business arrangement on both sides. As you wouldn’t tell me any more and you were both honorable men, I took your words for it.”

“Of course it was honorable—at any rate as far as I was concerned. I had implicit faith in the fellow—and, to give the devil his due, he had faith in himself. He convinced me that Paulinium shares would go bang up sky-high—and that in point of fact I was doing him the favor—” “I don’t understand,” said Paula, drawing up a chair to the fire. “You had better tell me everything from the beginning.”

In his ex-dragoon’s way he unfolded a story which left Paula aghast. Even her careless woman’s elementary idea of business was outraged. The transaction was fantastic.

MR. VERESY paid, it seemed, the interest on the mortgage not in cash, but in purchased Paulinium shares. At the time of the mad arrangement, the £100 shares were quoted at £10. But Pandolfo took the shares, in payment of the mortgage-interest at their face value. Thus Mr. Veresy was given a receipt in full for actually only one-tenth of the interest. This arrangement was to last for three years, at the end of which, when the shares should have reached dizzy heights, multiplying themselves a thousandfold in value, Pandolfo was to transfer half of them back, as a free gift to Mr. Veresy, who would then find himself in a position to pay off the whole mortgage, while Pandolfo himself would be in the enjoyment of a small fortune far exceeding the aggregate amount of the three years’ interest.

This, as far as she could gather, was the essence of the childish matter. She marvelled at the guilelessness of her father, who could for a moment have been gulled by such a proposition. No wonder he had called Pandolfo a damned fine fellow!

Of course it was one of Pandolfo’s magnificent masterstrokes of egotistic generosity. He had sworn that Chadford Park should not pass into “alien” hands, and, all for her sake, had he devised this crazy scheme. She could hear him, perfervidly eloquent, muddling her honest father’s brain with fairy tales of Paulinium and, at the same time, convincing him that he, Pandolfo, was driving a hard bargain.

And shrewd Mr. Veresy, in view of the inevitable appreciation of Paulinium shares, and so as not to be caught napping, had laid in a three years’ stock.

“I couldn’t touch what little capital I have left,” he groaned, “so I had to sell some diamonds that belonged to your dear mother. For Heaven’s sake don’t tell Myrtilla.”

SHE pondered for a while, searching her vague store of business knowledge. “There must have been a shareholders’ meeting. Didn’t you attend it?”

Mr. Veresy murmured something about proxies. He had been busy when the papers came; besides his holding was insignificant. He hadn’t gone into the matter, not dreaming that he wasn’t safe in the hands of Pandolfo.

“Then how do we stand now, dear?” asked Paula.

“We don’t stand. Don’t you see? The damn shares are worth nothing and”— he buried his face in his hands—“we're all in the cart!”

She caressed his bowed shoulders, spoke words of consolation. There must be some simple way out which Pandolfo had foreseen. He had been sending her all sorts of reassuring messages. Mr. Veresy raised his head. Had she talked with him about it? What had he to say for himself? Paula explained that she had only seen him once and then they hadn’t talked about mortgages.

“But he’ll talk now, if I ring him up,” she declared radiantly. “Either here, or at his house. All will be well.”

She went to the telephone, conscious of her power. Gregory Uglow replied. Pandolfo had gone to Monte Carlo. “The damned fellow has gone and done a bolt,” cried Mr. Veresy.

To be Concluded