THE WRATH TO COME
E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM
New complications brought about by the "eternal feminine” face Grant Slattery as he sails from Monaco toward new adventure.
SUSAN turned away with a little shiver of excitement.
Gertrude, who had just hurried in, knelt down by Grant’s
side and called to the steward.....
“Some more hot water and lint," she directed. “Some disinfectant, if you have it, and a sponge. Please leave this to me, all of you.
I’m used to bandaging but I hate to have too many people round...”
Susan left the saloon stealthily and made her way back on deck. She walked up the lee-side and climbed the stairs down which Grant had been thrown. The Officer in charge was standing, looking stealthily at a light far ahead. He suddenly felt a touch on his arm, and turned round with a start to find Susan by his side.
“Do you mind my talking to you for a minute?” she whispered. “We’re all so scared—so afraid that we’re going to break down or something.”
“We’re quite all right,” the young man declared, a little thickly.
“Shall we get back to Monaco to-night?”
“In about two hours’ time. We shall see the lights presently.”
“What is our couse just now, then?” she enquired. “Almost due north,” he replied. “There’s just a point or two of east in it. You’d better get down, your ladyship. Mr. Slattery doesn’t allow any one on the bridge unless he brings them here himself.”
She edged a little away from him.
“Where do you give your orders to the engine room?” she asked.
He pointed to the chart house behind. She nodded.
“I have brought you a message from Mr. Slattery,” she said.
He looked at her suspiciously. There was something stealthy and guarded in her attitude. The wind was blowing her hair back from her face. It was a very strong, capable face—a stronger face than his own. Her eyes, too —soft and brown, but compelling—seemed to hold him.
“Mr. Slattery’s message,” she went on, “is that you alter the course to due south. It is his wish to go no nearer to Monaco. Will you please ring down to the engine room at once and reverse your course.”
“I can’t do that, your ladyship,” he declined. “I have my orders. I must stick to them.”
“And I have mine,” she said, “from Mr. Slattery. I have never broken my word in my life and you can take this from me, just as though I were a man.
I’m not going to risk killing you outright but I’m going to shoot you first through one leg and then through the other, unless you do as you’re ordered.”
“Pooh! Don’t be silly,” he exclaimed, moving towards her.
“I’m twice as quick as you are and a great deal more used to firearms.”
“Quick, I say!”
The muzzle of her pistol gleamed wickedly in the light which shone from the chart room. The young rnan stood and looked ahead of him miserably.
“What a night!” he groaned.
“I can’t wait,” she declared. “We might be interrupted. Get into the room and ring down at once. If you don’t I swear J will keep my word. I will keep it before I count five. One, two, three ”
“Stop!” he begged.
“I’ve had enough of this business. I don’t suppose we should have touched the five thousand anyhow.”
lie swung round and entered the chart bourse. She listened to his brief conversation, covering him all the time. Soon they began
what seemed to be a huge turn. The light on their port bow disappeared. Now it was abreast of them. Presently it was aft. The Officer in charge finished his directions and came out of the chart room.
“We’re back on Mr. Slattery’s original course,” he announced. “What will happen when that little fat man finds out, I don’t know. Or what will happen to me, either.”
“Stick to it now,” Susan enjoined, “and I’ll do the best I can with Mr. Slattery. You’ve done all you could to make amends anyhow.”
“I can’t make out what it all means,” he muttered. “What’s become of the Skipper and Mr. Nicholson?”
“Locked in the Engineer’s room,” she told him. “I can’t understand why they couldn’t make themselves heard, though.”
The young man grinned weakly.
“They’re behind solid mahogany,” he declared. “All the doors in the officers’ quarters are three inches thick. What’s that?”
HE SWUNG round. Coming towards them, stealthily and sombrely through the darkness, was Blunn, walking on tiptoe, and behind him, gaunt and grey, yet even more menacing, was Funderstrom.
“Give me the gun,” the young man begged. “I’m fed up with this.”
Susan looked into his face and gave it to him. He turned towards the intruders, and the hand which held the pistol was as steady as a rock.
“Look here,” he shouted. “Off my bridge, both of you! Not a word, or by God, I’ll shoot you both.”
They came to a standstill. The sailor on lookout duty stepped from his canvas shelter and stood staring at them.
“You have altered the course,” Blunn complained. “And if I have, what the hell is that to you?” the
young man flamed into hot retort.
“I take it that you don’t want your five thousand pounds, then?” Blunn enquired viciously.
“Not a penny of it,” was the prompt reply. “I want you off this bridge and damned quick too, or as sure as I’m a living man I shall shoot.”
Cornelius Blunn stood for a moment, irresolute. No braver man than he breathed, but he was also a philosopher.
“Bosun,” the mate added, swinging round towards the lookout man, “hurry round to my quarters. Get the key of the Officers’ Mess. You’ll find that it will unlock the Chief Engineer’s room. The Captain and the Chiefare both there. Ask the Captain to step this way. And listen to me,” he went on, “if either of you two interfere with that man, I’ll shoot, and shoot where it kills, too.”
The bosqn saluted and hurried off. Cornelius Blunn shrugged his shoulders. He leaned forward against the rail but he made no further movement forward.
“My young friend,” he said, “forgive me if I suggest that you are introducing an unwelcome note of melodrama into this little affair. It has been a game of wits between your owner and ourselves. I fear that the young lady,” he added, bov/ing to Susan, “has played the winning card. We will voyage with you, sir, in whatever direction you choose. Funderstrom, I am very thirsty.”
The two men disappeared. Susan smiled reassuringly up at the young Officer by her side.
“That’s all right, now,” she declared. “You’ve seen the thing through, after all. It has been rather a mix-up, you know. I’m afraid Mr. Slattery has been behaving very badly,”
He looked steadily ahead into the windy darkness.
“Your ladyship is very kind,” he rejoined shortly. “A sailor ought to remember that he only -has to obey orders.”
She left him a moment or two later and walked down the deck. It was hard for her to believe that the whole thing had not been a dream. A steward was handing round glasses of champagne, and Cornelius Blunn, with an apologetic grin, was holding a glass in either hand. The Prince, looking very pale and malicious, was seated back in the shadows. Grant, with his head bandaged, was standing on the threshold.
“My dear guests,” he announced, waving his hand to Susan, as she came up, “I regret having to tell you that the worst has happened. There is no longer any hope of
our reaching Monaco to-night. The Captain, who has just gone up on the bridge, has assured me that it is impossible.”
“There will be a heavy reckoning,” Funderstrom warned him solemnly.
“Under the circumstances,” Grant said, ignoring the remark, “I have ordered supper to be served in the saloon.”
“Supper,” Mr. Cornelius Blunn said thoughtfully. “God bless my soul. That’s what is the matter with me. I’m hungry.”
THE landing was a perfectly carried out farce. Everybody appeared to be in high spirits and even Prince von Diss managed to infuse a little cordiality into his thanks for the generous hospitality he had experienced. Grant was very apologetic about the slight trouble with his engines. Every body assured him, however, that the few extra hours at sea had been a pleasure and studiously eschewed any mention of the mingled farce and drama which they had evoked. On the
subject OÍ his dinner, which, after two postponements, had been fixed for the following night, Mr. Cornelius Blunn was eloquent.
“If a single one of you denies me,” he declared, “I shall be hurt. ' It is going to give_me the greatest possible pleasure to feel myself, for once, a host, to endeavor to repay a little the sumptuous hospitality I have received. We meet at the Hotel de Paris at eight o’clock. I have, by the bye, asked His Majesty, the King of Gothland, to meet you. His Majesty is most agreeable and his presence will in no way interfere with, what I hope is going to be, a cheery evening.”
Susan and Grant exchanged amused glances more than once, during this somewhat drawn out business of leavetaking. Once she drew near enough to him to whisper. “What a gorgeous farce! Aren’t we all clever?”
“Blunn is the man I admire,” he confided. “The Prince can’t get away with it. He looks as though he wanted to stick a knife into some one.”
There was a little sprinkling of journalists upon the quay, who had come down on the report that an accident had happened to the Gray Lady. They attached themselves especially to Baron Funderstrom, who had, however, one reply to them all.
“It was unfortunate that I could not attend the meeting of the Conference,” he said, “owing to the slight accident to the engines which happened when we were some distance out at sea. As a matter of fact, however, I know quite well what the agenda consisted of and there was nothing in which my views did not coincide with-the majority.”
“You know,” one of the journalists asked him, “that the Conference has decided to invite America to join the Pact?”
“I imagined that would take place,” he admitted, without change of countenance. “The decision to forward the invitation was, I presume, unanimous?”
“The discussion took place in private session,” the journalist pointed out. “But one understands that there was no opposition.”
Grant glanced at his watch.
“I wonder if your father is back from Nice?” he said to Susan.
She shook her head.
“He doesn’t usually arrive at the Villa until six o’clock. Now that the regular sessions have commenced, it may be even later.”
“I will come up with you, if I may,” he suggested. “I want to see him as soon as possible after he returns. Besides, I want to escape from these people.”
“Come along,” Susan agreed. “We had better take a carriage. They may send the car down when they see the yacht coming in, but as Peters will be over with Dad at Nice I should think it’s doubtful.”
'T'HEY drove off and the remainder of the little company melted away from the pier, all apparently in the highest of spirits.
“I must say one thing about Blunn,” Grant declared, as they looked backward for a moment from the top of the hill. “He’s an unprincipled scoundrel, of course, but he’s a sportsman.”
“He’s much better than that Prince von Diss or that terrible Scandinavian,” Susan assented.
“I suppose you realize,” he went on, “that you were the pluckiest person on board.”
“Nonsense!” she answered, colouring with pleasure. “It was really a tremendous rag.”
“I’m not quite sure what that misguided young officer of mine thought about it when he found himself held up by a girl,” Grant observed drily. “They’d have brought it off, but for you.”
“I’m very glad,” she murmured. “Next time you give a party like that I hope I’m there.”
He looked at her for a moment a little wistfully. Youth had certainly befriended her. Gertrude had risen that morning with dark lines under her eyes and her manner on the dock had been almost spiritless. There was nothing in Susan’s happy face and smiling expression to indicate a night of anxiety.
“I wish you weren’t such a kid,” he said suddenly. “What on earth do you mean?” she retorted. “I’m nearly twenty. Surely that is old enough for—for anything. Are you trying to insinuate that I am unintelligent or unformed or something?”
are ver2 sweet as you are, Susan,” he assured her. “It was a foolish wish. I wouldn’t have you a day older. And here comes your father. They must have been back from Nice early.”
ÇjUSAN scarcely showed her usual joy at welcoming her parent.^ They all arrived at the Villa together and Lord Yeovil at once drew Grant into his little sanctum.
I^am inclined to think that you must have found a mare’s-nest, young fellow,” he announced. “You can guess my news?”
You have received the consent of the Pact to forward ^ invitation ho America,” Grant replied.
_ Not only that, but my motion was supported by Prince Lutrecht.”
“Were there no votes against it, then?” Grant asked incredulously.
“There were three black-balls,” Lord Yeovil admitted. “That was somewhat of a surprise to us, I must say, but, as you know, three was not sufficient to affect the result.”
“Well,” Grant told him, “I should like you to realize this. It is entirely due to Lady Susan that you had your own way in this matter. You fyave won the first step towards breaking up what I am convinced now to be a very malevolent conspiracy, and it was your daughter who made it possible.”
“My daughter! Susan!” Lord Yeovil exclaimed. “What do you mean, Grant?”
“I mean that I was right—just as right as I knew I was, all the time. Lutrecht voted against it, as he had always meant to, whatever he may have said at the Meeting. So did Katina. That’s why he was rushed down from Berlin and why poor old Naga had to go. So did Gortz, the Russian. And, if I hadn’t abducted Funderstrom and kept him away until too late to go-to the Meeting, his would have been the fourth vote.”
“Abducted Funderstrom!” Lord Yeovil wonderingly.
“That’s just what we did, sir,” Grant assented. “I kept him on the yacht until it was too late for him to go to Nice. There was a tremendous row,” he went on, “practically a free fight, and, at one time, Blunn and Prince von Diss were having things their own way, and they very nearly got Funderstrom back. If it hadn’t been for Susan, who took command when I was hors de combat and, with an automatic in her hand, frightened one of my navigating officers to death, they would have done.”
“You’d better not tell me anything more, Grant,” Lord Yeovil decided, a little gravely, though there was a twinkle of delight in his eyes. “This sort of thing is outside the sphere of practical politics. All I can say is that, wh'atever you did, I personally am convinced that you did it for the best—and I thank you.”
“What I did,” Grant said earnestly, “I did, incidentally for the sake of the world’s peace, but chiefly for the sake of my own country. We’re only half way through the trouble yet, though. The invitation may be sent. As yet it isn’t accepted.”
“I hope to God it will be!” was the fervent response. “If it isn’t, I tell you, Grant, no man, even though he had the tongue of a god and all the angels, will be able to induce any future Meeting of the Pact to send another invitation.”
“I realize that absolutely,” Grant acquiesced. “I can assure you of one thing. All that stands for the best in my country will be in favour of accepting, but there is a great deal there that stands for the worst. There will be plots, and bribery, and intrigue, any quantity of it. And yet we are going to win. The invitation shall be accepted.”
A servant brought in cocktails and Grant was easily persuaded to stay and dine.
“I shan’t change,” his prospective host told him. “You can send for your things, if you like, or change afterwards if you are going on anywhere. What I want you to do is to sit down in that easy chair, and tell me—unofficially, mind—the whole story of your adventures on the yacht.”
Grant lit a cigarette and accepted the invitation.
“When we all wished one another good-bye this morning,” he said, “I had to pinch myself metaphorically to realize that I wasn’t dreaming. The whole thing seemed too improbable and fantastic. However, here’s the story.”
THE dinner given by Cornelius Blunn was the most talked-of function of a very brilliant Riviera season. The writing-room on the left of the lounge at the Hotel de Paris had been transformed into a private banquetting apartment, at one end of which a small stage had been erected for artists who came from Nice and even Cannes, to entertain the guests, and whose fees were a record in munificence. Despite the slight formality of the opening stages of the gathering, owing to the presence of the Scandinavian Monarch, the key-note to the whole party seemed to be set and adequately maintained by Blunn himself—reckless, brilliant light-heartedness. Gertrude sat on his right—jealously watched from across the table by her husband. Grant, with curious disregard for precedence, was seated at her other side. On Blunn’s left was a lady of royal birth, whose exploits had been the talk of Europe—a woman still beautiful and witty, who was supposed to be devoting the remainder of her years and a portion of her colossal fortune, to the entertainment of the monarch who sat on her left. Lord Yeovil, persuaded to be present with great difficulty, at the last moment, was in the vicinity, with the Princess Lutrecht for a neighbour. Several of the Monte Carlo notables in addition to the originally invited guests were present. There was no one there who did not acknowledge the genius of Blunn as a host. The gastronomic haunts of Europe had been sought for delicacies. Wines were served which had become little more than a memory. The greatest violinist known lifted them all, for a moment, into the rare atmosphere of the world to which he held the pass-key. The
most popular humourist in Paris offered the wittiest creations of his brain. The only person who seldom smiled was Gertrude. She had already been accepted in the little Principality as the reigning beauty of the season, but her appearance to-night had created a positive sensation. She had justified to the fullest extent the old contention, that beauty is not a permanent and unchanging thing, but an effect of chance, an evanescent quality, possessed one minute, and gone the next. This might have been the moment of her life. She seemed to carry with her a nameless and unanalysable perfection of grace, of figure, all those nameless qualities which come so wonderfully to the aid of features not really perfect in form. The violet of her eyes was distracting. Even the slight tiredness which was sometimes apparent in her languid tones seemed to bring her distinction. Susan, at the first sight of her, and more than once since, had been conscious of a little sinking of the heart. It seemed impossible that any man could look at her without desire. Grant himself was moved by the unfamiliar side of her beauty—the beauty which, for this one evening, seemed to have taken to itself a certain appeal, a helplessness, a demand for something which perhaps no one else but he could realise. Once or twice, at a whispered word from her, he had felt his pulses leap as in the old days, had felt, indeed, some touch of the old folly back again—the folly of which he had deemed himself purged. He had permitted himself to think for one moment of a few nights ago when she had stood on the edge of the quay, looking down to the yacht—looking wistfully at the gang-plank, passage across which he had so strenuously forbidden. It had been comparatively easy then. He wondered whether any man in the world would have found it easy now. . .
“ A RE you quite at your best to-night, Grant, or is it 2A rny fancy?” she asked, during a pause in the conversation.
“If I am not,” he rejoined, “it is because you surpass your best.”
Almost for the first time, she laughed happily. There was real meaning in his tone and it was the sort of speech for which she craved.
“You really think that I am looking well to-night? You see, I never know where I am between the two extremes. Ottilie declared I was a vision of delight. Otto snarled out something about the Montmartre.”
“It is a most unfortunate circumstance,” Grant declared, “that every day I am learning to dislike your husband more.”
“You may hate him if you~want to,” she replied. “I shall not quarrel with you.”
“Well, I hope he is much kinder to you at home than he appears to be in public. I can’t stand the man who scowls at his wife’s beauty because it naturally attracts admiration and doesn’t himself endeavour to offer her his homage.”
“Otto is thoroughly German,” she pronounced. “Some Englishmen are the same, they say. They buy their wife with their name or money or simulated affection, and when they have her it is finished. She is their chattel, she is their singing bird or dancing girl, to perform for their pleasure. There are times, nowadays,” she went on, “when such methods fail, and they bring disaster. But even then the man is generally selfish and brutal enough to see that some one else shares that disaster.”
CORNELIUS BLUNN leaned a little forward in his place with uplifted glass.
“Before I forget it—Bon Voyage, Mr. Slattery,” he said. “May your trip across the Atlantic provide you with as much amusement as our recent cruise. And may its result be as satisfactory.”
Grant bowed pleasantly and drank.
“I shall miss you all,” he acknowledged, smiling.
Grant saw the white shoulder, so close to him, shiver, for a moment—a queer little habit of hers in times of emotion. She remained silent, however, for some time. Perhaps she knew that her husband’s eyes were upon her, as well as Blunn’s. Under cover of a great chorus of laughter, evoked by one of the latter’s stories, she turned at last to Grant.
“That is just one of the sweet little stabs,” she confided, “which I have learnt to expect. Cornelius has been saving that up for me. I think that you might have spared me the shock.”
“I only made up my mind twelve hours ago,” he assured her. “I can’t imagine how he knew.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I think that I should have been the first to be told.”
“You probably would. Next to the Yeovils, of course.” “Lord Yeovil or Lady Susan?”
“They are equally my friends,” he replied.
“Are you in love with Lady Susan, Grant?”
He was a little startled, both by the question and the thrill which it brought.
“I happen to be thirty-one years old,” he reminded her. “Lady Susan is nineteen.” -
“That is rather a recognized standard,” she remarked, “according to present ideas. The older a man gets the more he leans towards the Kindergarten. In any case it doesn’t answer my question.”
“I have no time to be in love with any one just at present,” he said. “I have work to do.”
“You men and your work!” she exclaimed bitterly. “You drag it around with you like a closet of refuge, into which you can step whenever you are hard pressed. Honestly I can’t imagine why there are any good women in the world. There certainly is no encouragement for them. When do you sail, Grant?”
“To-morrow or Thursday.”
“Are you going straight to New York?”
“I may stay at Gibraltar to coal,” he replied. “I shall probably have to. I’ll not know about that for a while.”
SHE turned a little towards him.
She had a trick of dropping her voice almost to a whisper. Her little question barely reached his ears.
“Are you taking me with you?”
“I can’t do that, Gertrude,” he said firmlyt “neither would you come. And it isn’t a fair question to ask me when you know that you are looking more adorable than you ever looked in your life.”
“I tried to make myself look nice to-night because I wanted to ask you that question, or something like it. . . Isn’t it terrible this gift of frankness I have developed. I think out a course of complete dissimulation and I find myself the very personification of candour. Why won’t you take me,
Grant? Are you afraid of Otto?
He is a very small man and not very strong. And duels have gone out even amongst us now.”
“I thought,” he remarked with a smile, thankful for the note of banter in her tone, “that your beloved young Prince was trying to bring them in again.”
“They say so,” she admitted.
“That is because he got them reinstated when he was at the University, and, amongst his young friends he is President of what they call their ‘Court of Honour.’
But I do not think you would be afraid to fight with any man,
Grant, for anything you cared for.
The great question is, or would be, whether you cared enough.”
“It isn’t entirely a question of caring,” Grant declared. “There are two contemptible roles in the world. One of them is the role of Joseph. I tell you frankly, Gertrude, that that is a part I never intend to play. Therefore if I am placed in the position of that unfortunate young man—which I trust I never shall be—I shall probably fall quite gracefully.”
“Thank heavens,” she murmured. “I may remind you of that some day.”
“The other,” he went on, “is the man who takes away another man’s wife. Frankly, I hate that a great deal worse. I suppose, during my thirty-one years, I have behaved neither worse nor better than other men. But I have never poached. I don’t understand the morality of it exactly, but it happens to be how I feel.”
“I suppose you will admit,” she said, “that circumstances alter cases. What do you think, for instance, of Otto persuading me to run away with him the clay before we were to be married, by telling me something which I afterwards found to be an utter falsehood, about you when you were in Berlin?”
“That was a contemptible action,” he acknowledged, “but—”
He paused significantly. She half closed her eyes. “Yes, I know,” she confessed drearily. “I was just as much to blame. More so, perhaps —but how I have suffered for it!”
UE LOWERED his voice.
■* “Your husband,” he warned her, “seldom takes his eyes from us. Blunn, too, watches. We must speak of other things.”
“It is always like that,” she muttered under her breath. “Eyes seem to follow me everywhere. Ears are listening. Life is like that in Berlin. Everybody seems to have espionage on the brain.”
Suddenly they all had a surprise. Blunn rose to his feet. His action was so unexpected, that they all stared at him. He beamed around at their expectant faces. He had the trick of smiling at a score of people so that each one thought the smile specially intended for him.
“My dear friends,” he began, “have no fear. This is not
a speech. This is merely the expression of a quaint desire which has just come into my mind to express my joy and pride that, to-night, amongst all of you dear people who have come at my bidding, there has come one who I think, within the next few days or weeks, will be acknowledged the greatest benefactor, the most far-seeing diplomatist, the most beneficent statesman of this generation. I am referring, of course, to Lord Yeovil.”
Every one smiled. The idea, even the words, were still, from any ordinary point of view, curiously out of place. Yet, spoken by Blunn, just as he spoke them, they seemed natural and reasonable.
“I will tell you what Lord Yeovil had done,” he went on. “He has had the courage of a great man. He has braved possible opposition—and opposition to the Chairman of the Pact of Nations can only mean one thing, where the personal dignity of that functionary is concerned. He has, I say, braved opposition and he has pointed out to all of us the weak link in the chain of our hope for eternal peace. I mean the standing out of your great country, sir,” he added, bowing to Slattery, “the United States of America, from the Pact of Nations. Some of us have felt that by her repeated refusals she did not deserve any further invitations. Some of us have selfishly felt that we, ourselves, are in a better pösition for her being outside of it. Lord Yeovil swept aside all these pettinesses. He spoke to us as only a great man speaks. He saw the truth, and he made us see it. We ratified that invitation. I ask you to drink the health of Lord Yeovil with me. There is no other statesman living to-day who could have done this great thing. I am a proud man that he sits at this table. I only ask you to forgive the unassailable impulse which has prompted me to make this public apologia. For, behind my words, you will guess the truth, that I was one of those who hesitated. That is finished. I am a man convinced. I do homage to a greater brain. My dear friends—I don’t say ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’—let us drink to Lord Yeovil.”
“Amazing!” Grant murmured with genuine admiration in his tone.
LORD YEOVIL, whose face was as still as the face of • a graven image, raised his glass. Fie took the only means possible of showing his opinion of his host’s action. He remained seated.
“My friends,” he said, “any reply of mine to our host’s kindly words would give undue significance tó his friendly out-pourings, and would invest a few remarks, spoken at a private dinner, with a semi-official’ significance. I think that what we have all done together is a great and a good thing. I should have liked every representative who was present at Nice to have thought the same. Those three anonymous dissentients, whose votes were recorded against me still rankle, just a little. However, the thing is accomplished. I thank you, Mr. Blunn, for your appreciation, and I thank you more especially still for the most wonderful entertainment at which I have ever been privileged to assist. There is one thing, however, which, at the present moment, seems of more vital importance to me and, I am sure, to all of us, than any unexpected and unofficial discussion of a political matter. We should all be made supremely happy if Mademoiselle Lebrun would sing to us once more.”
There was a gleam of admiration for a moment in Blunn’s eyes. He was just the man to appreciate the aptness which had minimized as far as possible the importance of his pronouncement. He dispatched an emissary at once for the famous soprano.
“When Mademoiselle has sung,” he announced, “His Majesty has asked permission to retire to the Rooms.”
The king smiled.
“This is an amazing place, with an amazing atmosphere,” he declared. “Even when one entertains like an ambassador—as no ambassador of to-day could—always in the background there is that little god calling. We leave our seats at the opera to tempt chance. We forget sometimes, watching the spinning of that wheel, that the most beautiful woman of our desire is waiting for us. How is it with you, Mr. Blunn? They tell me that you are one of the richest men in the world, but I have seen you standing watching that table as though nothing but an earthquake could move you until the little ball has found its place.”
“I feel it,” Blunn acknowledged. “I have even gone so far, following out the trend of your thoughts, as to try to appreciate the psychological side of it. It isn’t always the money that counts. Your Majesty has, if I might be permitted to say so, exaggerated when he speaks of my wealth, but still it is not the money at all which one thinks of. There is a personal sense of triumph when your number turns up. You feel that you have backed yourself against a mighty organization, and won. You are supremely indifferent to the fact that chance has aided you. You have an absolute conviction that it is your own cleverness. That is the secret of the thrill when your number turns up and the croupiers fill your pockets...”
Mademoiselle Lebrun sang, and afterwards there was a little movement of departure.
“Will you please escort me up to the Club?” Gertrude whispered to her neighbour.
“With pleasure,” he assented.
There were other influences at work, however. Blunn turned to her, good-humoredly, with the air of one making a pleasing announcement. The Prince was laughing a little in the background.
“His Majesty asks for the pleasure of conducting you to the Rooms, Princess.”
“If you will do me that honour,” the King murmured, bowing.
“I shall bring you bad luck,” Gertrude warned him, her voice trembling a little.
“You will give me, even in that event, what counts, perhaps, for more-very charming company,” was the gallant rejoinder.
SUSAN came up to Grant, smiling, about half-an-hour later. She had left Bobby Lancaster and his sister seated on a divan.
“Aren’t you flattered, Grant?” she exclaimed. “You’ve been labelled dangerous. Kings have been summoned to
the help of the terrified husband. Look, they’ve made the poor woman sit at a table and play roulette, which :she hates, with His Majesty on one side, her husband behind her chair, and Blunn, like a patron saint, hovering around.” ’ — .
Grant looked at the little phalanx and nodded.
“Well,” he admitted, “I’m half inclined to believe you’re right. It does seem to be a plot. Where’s your father?”
“Gone home,” she answered. “He was very angry with Mr. Blunn.”
“All the same it was clever,” Grant observed. “I’ll bet he’s got a dozen copies of those few remarks of his, ready for print and distribution in the States. The audacity of it all is so amazing. There were you and I and Gertrude, to say nothing of the Prince, who knew the whole secret, absolutely within a few yards of him—knew how he fought to get that gloomy Scandinavian back to Nice in time to vote.
He just laughs at us and ignores it all. We’re only one or two. It is the millions he wants. It’s magnificent!”
. “Since I’m afraid it’s quite hopeless for you to get anywhere near the enchanting Princess, would you like to talk to me for a few minutes?” she invited.
“We’ll find that greedy corner in the Bar,” he assented, turning away with her, “where you eat up all the chocolate eclairs.”
“I wish I weren’t so fond of food.
People won’t believe that I have sentiment when they watch my appetite. However,” she went on cheerfully, “I shan’t want anything more to eat to-day, nor to-morrow, as a matter of fact.”
“It was a great dinner,” he acknowledged. “We’ll have an orangeade and go through the courses.
They were something to dream of.”
“If you’re going to talk about food,” she began peevishly—
“Not necessarily food,” he interrupted, as they selected their easy chairs. “There were the wines— that Chateau Yquem, for instance.
Térrible to drink it after champagne, but it was a dream.”
“How long are you going to stay in the States?” she asked.
“Until you’re grown up,” he replied. “Then Pm coming back to see what sort of a woman you have become.” “You will probably find me married to Bobby Lancaster,” she warned him. “He proposed to me to-night in an entirely different way and I was really touched. I ■don’t see why one should wait for ever for a man who never asks one, and who talks about going to the other end of the world as though he was slipping into Corret’s to have his hair cut.”
tpOR a single moment Grant felt that he had exchanged •*his thirty-one years for her nineteen. She was smiling at him with all the gentle savoir faire of a woman of the world. He himself was embarrassed.
“Aren’t you by way of being an extremist?” he inquired. “Even if one might hesitate to ask you to leap into sedate middle age, it seems rather a pity for you to marry into the nursery.”
“Bobby is twenty-four,” she declared indignantly. “You amaze me,” he confessed. “But consider those twenty-four years. We will leave out the perambulator stages. Fifteen to nineteen at Eton—cricket and rackets. Twenty to twenty-four, a guardsman—rather more cricket rather more rackets. It is a full and busy life, child, but it makes for youth.”
She smiled serenely.
“You don’t understand,” she remonstrated. “Cricket is almost our religion. I asked the Captain of the Australians to marry me when I was fourteen.”
“He spared you?”
“He gave me his daughter’s photograph. She was much older than I was, very thin and she squinted. It wasn’t really a romance—it was cricket-.”
“Is Bobby any good?” he asked.
“That’s rather the pity of it,” she admitted. “He very seldom makes any runs and he has ninety-five different excuses, or rather explanations, for the way in which he got out.”
“I don’t think I’m missing much in cricket,” Grant reflected. “I played half back for Harvard. Football isn’t a bad game, you know.”
She looked at him sympathetically.
“That must have been back in the dim past,” she observed. “Long before the sedate middle-aged feeling came upon you.”
“Let’s have orangeades,” he suggested, giving an order to the waiter. “And Susan, I want to tell you this. You’re a delightful child and an amusing tomboy and I’ve often wished that you were just a few years older.”
“Why?” she demanded breathlessly.
“Never mind. But, in addition to youth, you have a brain, and you’re one of the pluckiest girls I’ve ever had with me in a tight corner. Don’t think I’ve forgotten it, because I haven't.”
“Rubbish!” she laughed.
“And I’m going to say this to you,” he continued, turning towards her, so that she suddenly saw that he was in earnest, and became very still indeed, “I’ve got a half finished job on my hands, and how it will turn out I
don’t know. It will be a matter of six months before I’m through. When I’m through I’m coming right back. And, Susan, I don’t want to say too much, but I don’t think those boys are going to be quite what you deserve in life. It’s horrible to feel a little too old.”
She suddenly gripped his hand.
“Idiot!” she murmured. “You’re not a bit too old. I wouldn’t marry Bobby Lancaster if he was the last man on earth.”
SHE was looking at him with a suspicious mistiness in her eyes. Her mouth was quivering just a little. And then it all passed. She was herself again—slim, girlish, delightful, with the audacity of a child and the certain promise of the woman’s beauty in her delicate immaturity.
“I don’t know how I can trust you to cross the Atlantic alone,” she laughed. “How many of the crew of the ‘Grey Lady’ have you sacked?”
“Not one,” he admitted. “I’ve forgiven them all. You don’t think Blunn is going to smuggle himself and a few desperate plotters on board, do you? Or put an infernal machine there to blow me sky high?”
She shook her head.
“I’m half honest,” she said thoughtfully, “when I tell you frankly that I don’t like letting you go alone. You, in your sedate middle age do need a little looking after, sometimes, you know—somebody with the common sense of youth. However, it’s just an idea, I suppose. I wish you luck in America, Grant.”
“Will you wish me a safe return?” he asked.
Once more she looked at him. He felt the peace of a great understanding in his heart. Those were not the eyes of a child.
“Yes,” she answered. “I hope you will come back safe and soon.”
AT A few minutes after ten the next morning the Blue Peter was flying from the masthead of the “Grey Lady” and the last of a little stream of tradespeople were leaving the yacht. There was the usual crowd of loungers upon the dock to watch the departure, and on the bridge Lord Yeovil and Grant were standing a little aside, talking.
“If anything could make me a convert to your some-
what alarmist point of view, Slattery, Blunn’s behavior last night would do it.,” the former acknowledged, after a little desultory conversation upon the events of the evening before. “I still don’t understand what was at the back of his mind.”
“I can tell you,” Grant said. “You’ll find a copy of that speech will appear broadcast throughout America. ‘Cornelius Blunn, the great shipping magnate, entertains Prime Minister of Great Britain, to celebrate invitation to the United States to join the Pact of Nations.’ That’s the sort of headline you’ll see in every paper which counts. Every word he said will appear verbatim. It’s wonderful propaganda for Germany.”
“He stole a march on me, I’m afraid,” was the somewhat rueful admission.
“Never mind,” Grant consoled him. “We’ve won the first bout after all, and Blunn knows it. For all his carefully laid scheme to prevent it, America is invited to join the Pact of Nations. Now we’ll have to strip for the second bout. We shall have to fight like hell to get that invitation accepted. You don’t follow our domestic politics, sir, I expect.”
“How can I?” Lord Yeovil protested. “I’ve problems enough of our own to deal with all the time.”
“’T'HE opinion of the educated A and intelligent citizen of the United States upon any vital subject,” Grant expounded, “is sometimes, unfortunately, an entirely different matter to her voting force. That is our only danger. Cornelius Blunn and his friends know quite well that if America accepts the invitation of the Pact, all those grandiose schemes which have been formulated and brought to maturity by Germany and her friends, fall to the ground. Peace is assured to the world for an indefinite period of time. Germany must abandon her hope of revenge. Japan must reconcile herself to the permanent subordination of the yellow races. Therefore, strenuous efforts will be made in America to prevent her acceptance.”
“I can quite believe that,” Lord Yeovil assented. “The peace lover will have German-American interests and the Japanese influence to fight. Still, I can’t help thinking that on a question like this the common sense of the country will carry all before it.”
“I am with you there,” Grant agreed, “and yet it is a fact that there have been, even within my memory, laws passed by the legislature which were in absolute opposition to the will of the people. The voting power of America is a chaotic and terribly uncertain quantity. Our friend Blunn will be over there before a month is passed. Prince Lutrecht will be visiting at Washington. I shouldn’t be surprised if Baron Funderstrom takès a little tour there, too. Headquarters will be moved from Monte Carlo to Washington and New York, and we haven’t any reasonable means of coping with all the flaring, misleading propaganda which will be let loose to induce America to refuse this invitation within the next few weeks. The only hope will be if, by any remote chance, one of us is able to discover proof of the subsequent intentions of Germany and her jackals. Otherwise I honestly believe that there is a serious possibility that the United States, in the most courteous possible tones, will decline your invitation.”
“If they do,” Lord Yeovil remarked grimly, “I must resign at once from my position as Chairman of the Pact and probably from the Premiership of Great Britain. A refusal under the present circumstances would be little less' than an affront. ... You have this matter very much at heart, Grant.”
“I’m an American and I am fond and proud of _my country,” Grant answered. “I pose as being an idle millionaire. You know I’m not. I never worked so hard in my younger days, when I was Second and eventually First Secretary, or went through so many disagreeable moments as I have during the last eighteen months. I don’t fancy my next six months will be any easier. I am going to do my level best to bring the truth home to the American people, and to show up the plot which I am convinced is being organized against us. If I succeed, I shall come straight back to Europe and, if I may, I shall come and pay you a visit.”
Lord Yeovil held out his hand. Probably at this moment the same thought was in the minds of both men. “You have my best wishes, Grant,” he said cordially. Grant walked with his departing guest to the gangplank, and waved his farewell as they backed away into
the harbor and swung round. Very soon they were heading for the open sea. The wonderful little bejewelled Principality of intrigue, of fierce excitements, and strange happenings, grew fainter but not less beautiful. The sun was streaming down upon the snow-streaked mountain peaks, the white-faced villas, the deep masses of green, the garish but curiously attractive front of the great Casino. Grant breathed a sigh of relief as the coast-line faded away and the west took them into its embrace. There were ten days at least of freedom— ten days to rearrange his thoughts, to prepare for the next stage of the struggle.
He lunched early, dozed for an hour in the afternoon, read for a little time, and discussed the question of coal supply with the Chief Engineer. They made careful calculations and to Grant’s relief, came to the conclusion that a call at Gibraltar would not be necessary. He was suddenly feverishly anxious to reach New York, to see his friends at Washington, to gauge for himself exactly the feeling which would be created by this fateful invitation. The solitude of the open seas appealed to him immensely. He sat on deck for a while after dinner, in a sheltered place, listening to the rush of the wind, and vratching the stars make a fitful appearance. As the breeze stiffened they altered their course slightly, and showers of spray sometimes swept the deck. He turned in early and slept soundly, although every now and then he was haunted by a queer sense of some unusual sound—unusual yet not sufficiently distinct to waken him. In the morning he turned out at his usual hour, quite unconscious of the fact that he was so soon to be brought face to face with tragedy. He took his bath of warm and then cold sea water, strolled on deck, breakfasted in a sunny corner, and lit a pipe. After an hour or so he strolled aft on his way to the chart room. As he passed the companion-way he glanced in, gripped at the door, stood stupefied, speechless, aghast. Still wearing her wonderful cloak, her satin dress and slippers, her eyes weary, but passionately questioning, came Gertrude.
“TF YOU please, Grant,” she said, “I want my clothes.” His words, even to himself, sounded pitifully inadequate.
“How on earth did you get here?” he demanded.
“It was rather difficult,” she admitted. “I had a lot of luck. Can I have some coffee or something? I haven’t had anything since I came on board.”
“When was that?” he asked.
“Four o’clock yesterday morning. I’m starving. I was afraid you’d hear me crying in the night.”
“Good God!” he groaned. “Come down to my room. You mustn’t let them see you like that.”
She followed him down to his own quarters. He shut the door, watched her sink into a chair, and stood over her.
“Tell me about it,” he said simply.
“After we got home,” she began, “—and they made me play roulette until two o’clock—Otto was simply bruta], I couldn’t bear it any longer, and the thought of your going. I gambled once before in life, you see.
I gambled again. I gave Ottilie, my maid, all the money I had. She packed a trunk for me and addressed it to you. It came on board with a lot of other things. It must be somewhere about. That was easy enough. The difficulty was to get here myself. I borrowed a chauffeur’s overcoat, put it on over all my things and a cap that hid my face. I Walked up and down the doeks for an hour, until I saw a chance. Then I came down the gangway, slipped along the empty side of the deck, got down the companion-way—I had to hide twice behind doors, but eventually I got to the door of the' stateroom which you said you kept for any special guest, and which I knew wasn’t to be used this voyage.
I crawled in, locked the door, and lay down. I hid there and waited. It must have been about four or five o’clock yesterday morning. 1 heard all the people come on with stores. I heard Lord Yeovil come on board. I heard your voices as you walked up and down with him. All the time I lay there in terror. Then I heard the rush of the water and the anchor come up. I heard the engines and knew we were out at sea. Still I dared not show myself. I was afraid.”
“Afraid,” he repeated mechanically.
“I was afraid you’d send me back. I knew there was only one chance—to stay on board long enough. I hid all day, terrified lest some one should look in the stateroom. At night I felt so ill that I almost gave up, but somehow or other I dropped off to sleep. When I woke I felt faint, and I found myself crying. I went to sleep again, though. This morning as soon as I heard your voice on deck, I crept up the stairs and here I ani. I am here, Grant. You are not going to be cruel?”
He rang the bell.
"Some coffee, an omelette, quickly,” he ordered from the astonished steward. “Serve it here. Let me have the coffee at once.”
“Don’t keep me alive unless you are going to be kind
to me,” she begged hysterically. “I couldn’t bear it, Grant. Tell me you are not going to land me anywhere. Why are you looking at me like that?”
“I was thinking,” he answered.
“Grant, you cared for me once,” she went on. “I know I must look perfectly hateful now, but I’m not hateful. I’m really rather wonderful. I could be. Otto was killing me, and all the horrible things he made, me do. Grant, say something to me. Feel my hands, how cold they are. Be kind to me.”
“My dear, who could be anything but kind to you?” he exclaimed. “But you must realize—you must know —this is a terrible thing you have done.”
He took her hands and held them in his for a minute. The steward brought in the eoffee. The boy followed behind, a moment or two later, with an omelette and cold meats. Grant felt suddenly stifled. He turned towards the door.
“I’m going to leave you for a short time,” he answere^. “You must drink your coffee and you must eat something. I’m going to try and find out where your things are. I will have them put in a room for you and a bath got ready. We can’t talk until you are yourself again.” She looked at him wistfully.
“I’ll do just as you tell me, Grant,” she promised. “Then first of all drink your coffee while it is hot,” he insisted.
TTE MADE his way on deck. For a moment he could scarcely realize that this was the same cruise, thé same ship, the same deck he had walked a few moments ago. He tried to face the matter calmly. She had been on board since the night after Blunn’s party, the remainder of that early morning, and all the next night. By this time every one in Monte Carlo probably knew —probably she knew. No one would ever believe the truth. No one could ever be told the truth. There was no explanation, no defence. She was there alone on the yacht with him. Before they could land anywhere, two nights would have passed. A sudden storm of anger seized him! Then he remembered hér, as she had almost crouched in her chair, her gorgeous clothes bedraggled, her eyes searching his, like the haunted eyes of a dumb animal in fear. What way was there out of it? He had faced problems before, difficult problems. How could he deal with this one? . . .
Presently he returned to his quarters and sent for his own servant.
“Brookes,” he asked, “did you know anything about a lady being on board?”
“Nothing, sir, until a few minutes ago when I saw her coming up the companion-way,” the man assured him.
“Have you heard any one else allude to it in any way?” “No one, sir.”
“It appears that she sent a truck here, or a package addressed to me, containing her clothes,” Grant continued after a moment’s pause. “Kindly search for it and have it taken to the Empire suite aft. Prepare a bath there and everything that is necessary. Find the lady and let her know. She will lunch with me in the saloon.”
“Very good, sir,” the man replied. . . .
And after that! He busied himself for an hour or so in the minor affairs of the ship. The Captain found him studying the chart.
“When ßhould we make Gibraltar, Martin?” he enquired.
“Snpds.y morning, sir, as early as you like. I’ll guarantee the coal, though.”
“I may decide to put in,” he said. “I’ll let you know.” Gibraltar! A hopeless place. How could he possibly leave her there amongst strangers? And yet, if not, it must be Madeira, worse still, or New York. Eight days alone with the woman with whom he had once been in love—the memory of whose kisses had never altogether passed. It all seemed very hopeless. His own marked attentions to Gertrude during the last week or so—attentions persisted in partly to lull her suspicions, and partly to keep her away from Arthür Lymane— came back to his mind.. There was probably not a soul in the world who would hold him blameless for what had happened. A diabolical trick of fate! . . .
TTE CAME down the deck a few minutes before lunch 1 time, and found Gertrude established in a long chair—a very changed and resuscitated Gertrude. She was wearing a white serge costume, her hair—she wore no hat—shone in the warm light, the color of cowslips in a sunsoaked meadow. She was herself again, soignee, as perfect in the small details of her toilette as though her maid had spent the morning by her side. Brookes appeared with two cocktails on a tray, just as Grant arrived. She took one readily and smiled at her distracted host.
“This is wonderful,” she murmured. “I never wanted anything so much in my life. . . . The epoch to which my reputation belongs is finished,” she went on, a moment or two later. “You can put me off somewhere
if you want to and make me appear ridiculous. I donot think that you will be so cruel as that, though.” “No,” he admitted. “I do not think I shall. But, in the name of God, what made you do it?”
“I have tried to explain,” she answered. “Perhaps presently I may be more coherent. Am I allowed tolunch with you?”
“By all means. The bugle has just gone. Let me help you out.”
Her fingers clung to his, and she took his arm as they passed down the companion-way and entered the beautiful little saloon. She looked round her almost affectionately.
“I didn’t think I should be here again so soon,” she murmured.
“Neither did I,” he answered.
“I missed most of the fun the other night,” she went on ruminatingly. “If I had known what was going to happen, I shouldn’t have been so careful. Your little friend, Lady Susan, really won the trick, didn’t she?”
“She did,” Grant assented. “She brought that youthful Navigator of mine to his senses. I think if it hadn’t been for her, your husband and Blunn would have got Funderstrom back and that invitation to America would never have been sent.”
“In which case, I suppose you would not have been on your way to America now?”
“I certainly should not,” he acknowledged.
“And you would have been spared this terrible thing which has come upon you!”
“The voyage would never have taken place,” he remarked stonily.
' I 'HE service of luncheon proceeded amidst flickers of conversation of a general character, chiefly prompted by Gertrude. Afterwards they took their coffee on deck.
“To leave our unimportant selves for a moment or two,” she said, sadly yet with an effort at lightness, “what are you going to do in America?”
“I shall find work there,” he answered.
“You certainly will,” she agreed. “I believe you are going back with the right idea. If not you can hear it from me. All that speech of Blunn’s was sheer and unadulterated bluff. Germany will do its very utmost in the States to get the Senate to refuse the invitation from the Pact. They have more power than you would imagine.”
“You have reason to believe this?” Grant asked.
“I know it,” she assured him. “They talked before me freely enough—Blunn, Lutrecht, Otto. I was only Otto’s wife, his chattel. I didn’t count. I shouldn’t be likely to dare to breathe a word of which my lord and master did not approve. Oh, they are fools, those men, the way they treat their women-kind.”
“Have you any idea as to the means they intend to make use of?” Grant enquired.
“Propaganda, first and foremost,” she declared. “They are all prepared. Whom they cannot convince, they will buy. They reckon that the bill for assenting to the invitation will pass the House of Representatives, but that they will fight it inch by inch in the Senate. They will go any lengths to stop it,” drant’s face darkened.
“I know what that means,” he muttered. “I know/ what a political fight in my country means, alas!”’
“I might be able to help,” she suggested a little timidly. “I have seen something of life in Berlin. . . .”
HE MADE her drink her coffee, and afterwards lie down and rest. He, himself, spent a restless afternoon. The situation tormented him. A man, as a rule, of fixed and changeless purposes, he found himself all the time looking at the matter from varying points of view. There were moments when his old tenderness for Gertrude seemed to some extent revived, when, for the sake of bringing the happiness once more into her face, he felt a queer incoherent impulse to bid her close the gates of memory upon the past—to assure her of his unchanged devotion. And then he shook with terror at the thought that such an idea could possibly have occurred to him. He was running a risk of ruining his own life and perhaps Susan’s for the sake of a sentimental impulse of pity. He kept to himself most of the afternoon. At dinner time the strain began again. She wore a simple but beautifully fitting black net gown, and the way her eyes sought his as though for his approval would have seemed pathetic to a harderhearted man than Grant. She drank more champagne than usual at dinner time and regained some of her spirits. She seemed less timid; some of her constraint appeared to pass. Afterwards they sat out on deck ina sheltered place. A clear windy night—a star-strewn sky and a moon in its last quarter. They smoked, drank coffee, and every moment conversation became more difficult. Suddenly she leaned towards him and caught at his hands.
“Grant,” she murmured, pleading, “can’t you pretend,
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even if you don’t feel anything any more? Don’t keep me away at arms’ length like this. We’re alone. There isn’t any one in the world to interfere, and my heart is dry. Kiss me as though you cared.”
Her arms were around his neck, her head falling back, her lips close to his. A sudden coldness came over him. He remembered how he had longed, and fought against the desire, to kiss Susan. It wasn’t fair, he had told himself. She must have her chance. She was so young. The sort of kiss he would have given herseemed somehow sacrilegious. , .
“Grant, kiss me.”
He obeyed, coldly, and with no pretence of fervour.
“Gertrude,” he said, “it’s a horrible thing. You know I cared once. You know that once I was glad enough to kiss you.”
“Is it that girl?” she asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
HER arms slid away from him—white, reluctant arms, beautiful in shape and texture—arms with their own peculiar expression of despair, as they fell upon her lap. The life for a moment seemed to go out of her.
“She is so young,” she murmured. “Such a child, Grant. She doesn’t understand life yet. You could leave her alone and she wouldn’t be hurt. And you—you don’t realize it, .but you need more than that.”
“Gertrude,” he confessed. “I’m a fool about her. I can’t help it. She’s one of a type, I know—a very beautiful but not an unusual type. She’s just herself. The way she looks, her voice, her laugh, her little mannerisms—they just sit in my heart, they make me feel tender and wonderful things, and there doesn’t seem to be room for anything else.”
She lay watching the lazy movements of the yacht as it rose and fell, watching the black tumult of waters, glittering, now and then, in the faint moonshine. For a time she seemed utterly inert. Then she rose suddenly to her feet.
“I have a fancy to walk, Grant,” she said. “No, don’t come, please. I would just like to walk alone. It is a fancy of mine.”
He helped her to her feet. She drew a fur wrap around her shoulders and turned hastily away. He leaned back in his chair, his eyes following her movements. She walked with rapid, unhesitating foot-
steps, sure-footed and graceful on the sloping deck, walked with her head a little uplifted, as though watching the rolling mast stab upward at the stars, as though she had passed into a world of her own thoughts, as though she were pursuing phantom ideas, seeking comfort in impotent essays of the imagination. The wind blew in her hair, but brought no colour to her cheeks. Time after time, she passed his chair without a glance, and, each time it seemed to him that she was a little paler. At last he stopped her.
“You are tiring yourself, Gertrude,” he said kindly. “Take my arm if you want to walk any more.”
“You are right,” she assented. “I will go down. Good-night, Grant.”
HE KISSED her fingers, horrified to find how cold they were. He insisted on taking her down the companion-way to the door of her stateroom. _ She turned there and smiled at him a little wanly. There was a tiny sitting-room as well as a bedroom and bathroom, the latter all black and white marble, and gleaming silver. ,,
“You give me so much luxury, Grant, she sighed. “If only you could ñnd a little kindness in your heart for me.”
He felt suddenly brutal. He stooped and Idssed her hands.
“Dear Gertrude,” he whispered, “my heart is full of kindness. So full—”
“So full, Grant?”
“So full that I don’t know how to offer it to you,” he answered. “You see I’m a clumsy brute, Gertrude, and I’ve never been able to forget the years when I thought you the most beautiful thing on
“But you don’t any longer!” she cried. He turned away. She listened anxiously to his receding footsteps. Then she threw herself on the sofa with a little moan. . . Afterwards she prepared for bed, left her door on the hook, wrapped a dressing gown of wonderful rose-coloured _ silk around her, lit a standard electric light, drew out a book at random, and made a pretence at reading. She waited until she heard him come down the gangway, heard him pass her door with unfaltering footsteps, on his way to his own quarters, heard him open and close the door of his own room. Then she dropped the book and turned over on her face.
To be Continued