There’s No Such Word
Romance becomes a State menace, but what does young love care for Governments?
The story: In the South American republic of Sao Pedro, the Honorable Larry Odell falls instantly in love with Daryl Forsythe, beautiful daughter of President Pacheco, and, refusing to recognize any such word as “impossible." determines to win her despite the announcement that she is about to wed a wealthy and elderly Englishman named Clive Lattimer.
Daryl laughs at Larry’s declaration of love, but because he is an engaging talker she introduces him to her father, who also laughs at him. Daryl is impressed nevertheless by Larry's sincerity, and as she contrasts his debonair personality with that of her sombre fiancé, her peace of mind is a bit disturbed.
Because he cannot meet her again by any other means. Larry kidnaps her chauffeur, drives Daryl to a lonely spot, and wrings from her an admission that she does not really love iMttimer.
Impressed by the coincidence that Daryl's wedding is to take place only two days before the national audit. Larry puts twoand two together, then goes to Clive Lattimer and asks the tatter if he is going to enjoy making good the President's defalcations. Lattimer's response convinces Larry that he has hit upon the truth.
Arrested by Pacheco for impersonating his daughter's chauffeur, Larry astounds the President by stating that he knows he has stolen Stale funds. Pacheco admits that Larry's "knowledge” is correct, and warns the latter to cultivate forgetfulness. Larry refuses to promise anything except that he will do all he can to prevent the proposed marriage and. after listening to a veiled threat, he walks from the President's office a free man.
THE habit of direct action is infectious, and although it was not a practice of Pacheco to model himself upon other men, the rapidity with which he acted when the door closed behind Larry could not have been exceeded by that young man himself.
Seizing the telephone, he issued instructions that two persons named Soutto and Waytinge should present themselves before him immediately. This call was being made while Larry was passing through the guards gathered behind the double doors of the room beyond. Larry s appearance served to increase the bewilderment of these gentlemen, and his pleasant smile and nod of farewell did little to relieve it. Rather feebly, one of them halted him with the question. "What's on? “Are you under arrest or aren't you?
"I believe not, ' said Larry sweetly. “But if you would care to make sure, my friend, the President, would be delighted to inform you. Good night."
They stared at him open mouthed as he turned on his heel and walked down the corridor toward the atrium.
Upon a banistered landing above, dressed in a wrap of
coral pink, stood Daryl. As Larry came into view, walking alone and unattended, she could not resist a little glad cry.
“Larry !" she said.
He stopped, frowned, then looked up at her with a face that lit into a smile of welcome. It was the first time she had called him by his Christian name, and the warm notes of her voice as she had uttered it, made the occasion one that was doubly blessed.
"Hello, angel,” he answered, “up there in the sky and all by yourself. Hello to you.”
“As air. May I come up and say good night?”
She could only answer that in the negative, but she delayed that negative long enough for him to believe that it was even possible she might say “yes." Actually she did not say “No.” She shook her head, and from lier curls, reflecting the light from a great lustre chandelier, it seemed that a hundred little stars showered down upon him.
“Good night." she said.
“Until tomorrow, angel."
But she dared not believe in tomorrows, so stood there
Because of the sound of footsteps in the corridor behind him, Larry kissed his hand to her and passed out of view. She heard the front door close quietly, and the crunch of his feet upon the gravel of the courtyard. Daryl rested her elbows upon the rail, and, with her face in cupped hands, allowed romantic thoughts to fill her head.
Thus she might have stayed for a long while but for the appearanct • in the atrium below of two singularly villainous looking men. She could not see their features from above, but something in the character of their slouching walk, broad shoulders and downhanging hands seemed familiar. She remembered to have seen them before, loafing at the stables or in muttered conversation with the details of the main guard. She had often wondered why such persons had access to the precincts of the palace, and their appearance at this hour of night, moving in the direction of Pacheco’s room with the air of persons assured of a welcome, disturbed her greatly. She made a half movement as though to descend and follow them, but being in a negligee, checked herself and ran swiftly toward her own apartment.
Thus it was that Soutto and Waytinge made their grotesque bows to Pacheco without the embarrassment of a female audience. Pacheco, who appeared to have recovered his composure and efficiency, lost no time in coming to the point. In a few' brief words he instructed his visitors that they were to carry out a removal. These tidings were received by both with grins at once significant and unpleasant to behold.
“And the person’s name?” Soutto demanded, huskily because at some point in his career the resonance of his vocal cords had suffered as the result of a blow that someone had struck him in the neck with a piece of lead pipe.
Pacheco gave the necessary information.
“Ah,” said Soutto; "the Englishman that piled up the car in the pond a half hour ago.”
“He is walking back to the Hotel do Ico. If you are quick, the matter might be settled before he arrives.”
Nothing was further from Pacheco’s wishes than an interruption at this juncture. In the ordinary course of events it was impossible for him to be interrupted until he had sounded the little hand bell which rested upon the table. There was only one person in the world who could enter without first making application and that was Daryl.
It was doubly unfortunate she should have chosen this moment, for not only was there important business to transact but the company in which she found him would hardly fail to arouse her suspicions. Coming into the room, Daryl stopped and looked at the two gunmen with an expression in which fear and anger seemed to take equal
“Let them wait until you ring,” she said.
In a desire to avoid emphasizing her suspicions, Pacheco readily agreed.
"By all means," he said. “Their business can wait a week so far as I’m concerned. Indeed, it was tiresome of them to disturb me with their trivial complaints at this hour of the
Assuming a frown, he dismissed the two men.
"If you care to wait,” he said to them, "I will do my best to give you a minute or two later on."
TVARYL barely waited for the door of the room to close before firing the question:
“Why did you send for those men?”
"Send?" Pacheco repeated with the innocent inflection of a little child. "They asked leave to see me.”
Daryl looked at him and shook her head. It was a tragic thought that she had sacrificed all the best things in life for the sake of a man in whom she had no trust whatsoever.
"At this hour?” she said.
He did not reply, but, placing a chair, begged her to sit down.
"You look tired, my dear. Why not relax? What has happened tonight to upset you?”
But Daryl ignored the invitation.
"Listen," she said; "when mother died I promised her that I’d help you in any emergency. Well, I’m sticking to that. But I’m sticking to it on terms."
“Terms,” said Pacheco. “Terms of affection I hope you mean, my dear.”
“I wish I could say yes. but I can’t,” she answered "But
that doesn’t count. I’ve given my word to marry Mr. Lattimer, and you needn’t be afraid I shall break it unless—”
"Unless what, Daryl?”
“Unless anything happens to Larry Odell.”
Pacheco’s brow puckered into lines of astonishment.
“You confuse me, Daryl. I don’t understand you. What could happen to that rash and rather foolish young man?”
“I don’t know,” said Daryl. “But I know this—that if anything does happen, it’s you who would suffer most; for then I shan’t marry Lattimer. I shan’t! The sooner you realize that, the better for all of us. Good night.”
She darted out of the room by one of the smaller doors. As it closed, Pacheco ran his fingers through his hair in desperation. He knew her too well to disregard that warning. She was a girl who stood by her word, and that word had created an impasse. Stretching out his hand, he rang the bell violently. The door was opened, revealing two of the guards and Waytinge.
“You two young men come in here,” he ordered.
But it was only Waytinge who obeyed.
"Soutto has already gone, excellency,” he said. “I told him that—”
But the sentence was drowned by Pacheco, his voice rising to a shriek.
“Gone? Santa Maria!”
In an excess of uncontrollable fury, he hit Waytinge in the face with the back of his hand.
“A car,” he cried. “A car at once !” And he plunged from the room under the startled eyes of Waytinge and the guard.
AS LARRY passed the main guard and entered into the Via Maria Puerta, he could not resist a grim smile at the spectacle of the piled-up wreckage of several automobiles, over which two policemen and a disconsolate owner stood sentinel.
There was a full moon, and the light it shed upon the flat roofs of the Spanish houses gave them the appearance of having been sprinkled by a fall of snow. A breeze rustled among the palms, setting their many points ticking, one against the other, like busy little clocks. The bowl of sky was fretted with millions of stars.
If ever Nature had conspired to reveal, to create and to whisper romance, it had done so this night; and yet it was not with romantic thoughts that Larry’s head was filled, but rather with a practical enquiry as to whether he would
be safer walking in the centre of the wide open roadway or huddling along in the shadow of the trees, the palms and the houses. With the knowledge that had come to him of Pacheco’s private transactions with national funds, life had assumed a very real danger.
He did not doubt for a moment the validity of Pacheco’s threat. Indeed, viewing that gentleman’s situation broadmindedly, he perceived that in having him knocked off he would probably be taking the only safe course open to him. Larry was wise enough to realize that, although the disclosure of Pacheco’s secret transactions offered him a weapon to fight with, it did not necessarily supply a solution to the problem.
At the moment, however, he was more concerned in trying to keep his faculties alert and get himself back to the hotel alive than with any other matter. The thought may appear a selfish one, but that was not altogether true, for almost beyond the love he felt for Daryl was the determination to rescue her from the situation into which fate and Pacheco’s cupidity had cast her.
He turned into the main boulevard, and had proceeded along it perhaps a hundred yards when his ears informed him of the sound of light, running footfalls coming from behind. Still keeping in view, Larry quickened his pace, and, turning sharply at an intersection where a garden ran down to the sidewalk, he hopped behind a clump of laurels and waited events. He had not long to wait before the approaching footfalls ceased abruptly less than a yard from where he was concealed.
Peeping through the laurels, Larry was provided with his first view of Pacheco’s gunman. A hard life and many adversities had wrought sundry alterations in Soutto’s features which had not been contemplated in Nature’s original design. In the circumstances, Larry can hardly be blamed for forming the project of carrying out just one more. The fact that Soutto had stopped at this precise point provided an agreeable opportunity for maturing this intention.
The man was out of breath and clearly confused. There was a pistol in his hand and his eyes were searching the darkness for signs of his quarry. A single step forward brought him within a couple of feet of where Larry stood, and as Larry’s left hand shot like a trap upon his right wrist, Soutto gave vent to a cry of dismay.
“Here I was all the time,” said Larry, and brought his
right to the chin with a sock that sent Soutto spinning like a top, to fall face downward on the sidewalk. Uncertain whether the man was alive or dead but anxious to be on the safe side, Larry broke off a branch of the laurel, and, twisting it into a wreath, laid it on the prostrate Soutto.
He was thus engaged when the hum of an engine travelling fast caught his ear. The rays of a headlight swung the shadows of palms across the body. Since for the moment caution was Larry’s watchword, once more he stepped behind the laurels.
The car drew up with a scream of tires upon the road. A man jumped out and hurried toward the spot where Soutto lay. As he passed a patch of moonlight, Larry recognized Pacheco. Pacheco was wringing his hands and calling upon the saints.
“Too late!” he cried. “Too late!”
Going down on his knees beside the body, he rolled it over and flashed a cigarette lighter before the face. There was a startled exclamation, “Diablo.”as Larry stepped from his place of concealment. The mingled expression of relief and surprise upon Pacheco’s face was hard to fathom.
“So you wanted to make sure,” said Larry.
Pacheco swallowed and shook his head.
“I feared,” he began, “that there had been an accident.”
The relief upon Pacheco’s face increased. Looking down, he favored the still unconscious Soutto with a kick.
“With these canaille our streets are unsafe for pedestrians,” he said. “If you will allow me, it will be a pleasure to drive you back to your hotel.”
Larry hesitated. He did not pretend to understand the source of Pacheco’s relief. It was reasonable to suppose the invitation might conceal a further attempt upon his life; but somehow Larry could not persuade himself to believe it.
“That will be delightful,” he said. “Especially as I have a pistol now to defend us in the event of another attack.”
As they drove together to the Hotel do Ico, Larry’s right hand, with the pistol, lay upon his lap. Not that there was any need of it, for Pacheco, lost in his own thoughts, neither moved nor spoke during the length of the journey.
TF THERE was one thing more than another that Lattimer -*■ could not tolerate, it was to be disturbed after he had succeeded in getting to sleep. The shock and surprise from such rude awakenings had precisely the effect upon him
produced by a severe blow in the epigastric region.
His response to a knock upon his bedroom door was to sit up in bed and yell :
“Who is it? What is it?”
At the same time he reached for the switch of the lamp which stood upon the bedside table. Into the pool of light it shed, entered a small pair of feet which could only belong to one man in Sao PedroPacheco. Further evidence of Pacheco’s presence was supplied by that gentleman’s voice, instructing Roberts that he need not wait.
If it had been anyone of less importance than the President, it is probable that Lattimer would either have thrown him out or thrown something at him. As it was. he contented himself with a series of inarticulate protests. He had never made any pretense of liking Pacheco, but until the moment of this rude, and in his opinion unwarrantable intrusion, he had been unaware of the extent of his dislike for the man.
“I have to see you immediately " said Pacheco “on a matter of the most urgent gravity.”
Still grumbling, Lattimer reached out a hand for his toupee which lay upon the bedside table.
“Wait a minute,” he said, and with an angry gesture slapped it on his head.
To adjust a toupee to its best advantage, time and care should be expended. A great deal of its effect depends upon the exact choice of a location. In his present mood, however, Lattimer had not bothered about that, with the result that the diachylum adhering to his frontal bone so disposed the toupee that its back failed to cover the vacant space on the top of his head, while its fringe rested practically upon his eyebrows, giving him an appearance of the utmost malevolence.
Pacheco waited for this operation to be completed before springing his mine.
“The young Englishman has discovered the truth about me. If he talks, I’m done for.”
H« had not, perhaps, chosen the happiest moment for an appeal to the sympathy of his audience.
“The world,” said Lattimer, “wouldn’t be much the poorer on that account.”
“But don’t you see?” said Pacheco, leaning forward and speaking earnestly. “Something must be done about it at once.”
“My accounts must be squared by noon tomorrow.” Having regard to the obvious implication of this remark, Lattimer’s reply, “How?” was definitely disappointing. Pacheco sat upon the foot of the bed, and his voice assumed a tone of deep emotion.
“I ask you to prove your devotion for Daryl by letting me have that two hundred thousand dollars before the wedding. It will make no difference to you, and it will save me from a situation which otherwise may prove disastrous.” Confronted by such an appeal, it would appear that only one answer was possible, but Lattimer had the reputation of never doing what was expected of him.
“If you think because you wake a man up in the middle of the night he’s going to act like a fool, you’re wrong,” he said.
Pacheco wrung his hands.
“You don’t realize the danger.”
“Possibly I don’t,” Lattimer agreed. “On the other hand, I realize that I’d have a fat hope of getting the girl after you’d touched the money.”
When one reflects upon the ties of relationship which shortly were to unite these two men, such a reply must seem deplorable. So at least it appeared to Pacheco. Vibrantly he demanded :
“You don't trust me?”
“Not an inch.” «
"But you can’t be so base as to believe that my conscience w ill allow me—”
Lattimer waved him down.
"Your conscience didn’t prevent you from prigging national funds, and it isn’t likely to stop you from having a dip at mine.”
Pacheco saw that it was necessary to approach the argument from another angle.
"You will regret this, Lattimer," he said. “For if Odell speaks, there will be no wedding.”
It looked like a good card, but it failed to take the trick. “If I parkered up now, there’d be no wedding,” said Lattimer. "Besides, what's the young man to gain by speaking?"
"Isn’t he in love with Daryl?”
Lattimer’s head went from side to side.
"Bless my soul.” he said. “You’re President here. You've power. Why not use it?”
“You can round up this young firebrand. 1 imagine, and shove him across the frontier?"
"No." said Pacheco, "that’s just what I can't do.” And briefly he described to Lattimer what had taken place between Daryl and himself. “I tell you,” he insisted, "there's nothing for it but for you to let me have the money
"Which I have no intention of doing.” was the reply.
'THERE are certain men with whom it is useless to argue.
and Pacheco’s knowledge of human nature was sufficient for him to know that Lattimer came under that categoryWith the valor of despair he fell back upon the last line of defense. It cannot be said that he placed implicit trust in it. but after all a scrape in the ground is better than no cover at all.
“The trouble," he said, pacing up and down the room to the infinite annoyance of his host, “lies in contact and visual attraction.”
It was useless for Lattimer to protest that he had no wish to listen to a lecture at that hour of night, for Pacheco had reached a point from which there was no going back.
“Just so long as those two young people continue to see one another, anything may happen. There is only one course open to us, and we must follow it to whatever end it may lead.”
Lattimer sighed with the natural antipathy of a man who hates oratory.
“Since it is impossible for us to make any move against Odell, we are faced with the need of putting Daryl somewhere where it is impossible for them to meet.”
There seemed to be a certain amount of sense in that suggestion. It encouraged Lattimer to enquire:
“As for instance?”
Pacheco stopped in his pacing as though in the presence of an inspiration.
“It’s a long time,” he said, “since the brigands abducted anyone.”
“Oh. my goodness.” wailed Lattimer, who really believed that his visitor was going to talk sense at last.
“Don’t misunderstand me,” said Pacheco. “I have no intention whatsoever of handing her over to the brigands. Such a thing would be inhuman—horrible. But what’s to prevent us making it appear that she had fallen into their hands?”
“And what’s to prevent us looking like a couple of fools?” said Lattimer.
"Examine the advantages of such a course. ’ Pacheco said. “This young man’s head is so filled with romantic nonsense that he would be distraught. His one ambition would be to rescue her, to the exclusion of every other consideration.”
“And then?” said Lattimer.
"And then,” was the reply, “a bare half hour before the time fixed for your wedding Daryl could be hurried into Santarem and the marriage would take place.”
He paused and held out his hands like an actor, inviting a round of applause.
“Of all the preposterous nonsense I’ve ever listened to!”
But Pacheco was in no mood to listen to non-constructive criticism.
“If you have a better suggestion to make,” he said, "I will listen to it. If not, you will please leave the matter in my hands. There is a ball at the Presidency tomorrow night, at which the abduction could take place. It would keep Odell quiet if I were to send him an invitation to attend it.” With the prospect of action before him, he seemed to have recovered much of his lost confidence. “The details can be arranged tomorrow. In the meantime, I wish you good night.” Pacheco went from the room and closed the door crisply behind him.
“Good night!” Lattimer echoed and, turning round, beat his fists upon the pillow savagely. Forgetting to remove his toupee, he stretched out a hand and turned out the light. The bed creaked as he lowered himself into it. “A lot of theatrical nonsense. Waking anyone up at this hour! Ten to one I don’t get off again.”
LARRY was smoking a cigarette in the lounge of the Hotel do Ico after breakfast the following morning when a page passed, calling his name. Beckoning the boy to approach, Larry took from the salver a large and impressive envelope. Within was an invitation to attend a ball to be given at the Presidency that night.
On the face of it, his inclusion into the President’s social register appeared to be a favorable sign, but a very natural suspicion of that gentleman discouraged Larry from giving undue confidence to this belief. Scribbling a note of acceptance and handing it to a messenger, he moved across to a flower stall and ordered the best of the flowers to be dispatched to Miss Daryl Forsythe. He was in the act of completing his purchase when he beheld Daryl coming into the
There was about her face a hint of anxiety that bordered upon agitation. Crossing to the reception bureau, she told the clerk to telephone the hairdressing department to enquire whether Hypolite was disengaged. While he was making the necessary connection she asked casually:
"Have you a gentleman staying here named Mr. Odell?” The clerk nodded.
“Yes, señorita. Do you wish to see him?”
Daryl shook her head.
"No. no! I just wondered.' She hesitated and added: “Did he by any chance sleep in the hotel last night?”
"But yes, señorita. He was here in the foyer not five
It was pleasant to Larry to mark how that answer seemed to erase all the signs of anxiety from her face.
“If Hypolite is disengaged, she said. “I will go down.” It appeared that Hypolite was disengaged and Larry watched Daryl pass down the corridor and enter into the hairdressing saloon. Inspired by affection rather than by discretion, he discharged his bill with the florist and went in the same direction.
The hairdressing saloon at the Hotel do Ico consisted of a comfortable lounge encompassed on three sides by small curtained parlors. Into one of these Daryl vanished as Larry approached. Dropping into an armchair and picking up a newspaper, he awaited the opportunity to speak with her. Now' and again, through the fabric of the curtain, the soft music of her voice came to his ear. and presently the voice of Hypolite. saying:
“If the señorita will not mind waiting, I will see if this
special lotion has arrived.”
Daryl murmured something inaudible, and a moment later Hypolite passed Larry with a courteous smile of greeting and vanished through the swing door.
Daryl’s chin was upon her breast and she seemed to be thinking deeply when Larry parted the curtains and went in. There was no mirror before the place where she sat and. moving toward her without a word, he stood behind the chair. Daryl was the first to speak.
“My maid,” she said, “seemed so clumsy this morning. That’s why I came to you. Somehow you always seem to soothe me, Hypolite, when you rub my head.”
Larry smiled and, murmuring something inarticulate, allowed his fingertips to sink among the soft waves of her honey-colored hair. It was the first intimate moment ofcontact between them, and both reacted to it with exquisite pleasure. As Larry's fingers moved slowly and caressingly about her head Daryl gave a purr of pleasure.
“Lovely,” she said. “Just lovely. Go on, just like that. Hypolite.” And, under the calming magnetism of his hands, she closed her eyes and sighed.
With the return of Hypolite imminent, Larry dared not prolong the happiness of these minutes, so he gave the lobe of her ear a friendly pinch. The spell was broken and with a sharp exclamation Daryl stood bolt upright.
“Don’t do that!” she said.
"Mustn’t I?” he asked.
At the sound of his voice she turned and stared.
“You! You again!”
“Why, yes. And why not? I felt I could hardly do less than tell you how gladly I accept your invitation to the ball tonight."
“Not mine,” she said. “I know nothing of it. But I wanted to see you. It’s important that I should see you,
She did not finish the sentence. From outside came the creak of a swing door and the sound of footsteps. Larry heard it too and backed toward the curtain.
“I beg your pardon, señorita,” he said"I had no idea anyone was in here.”
Hypolite came in as he went out.
“Señor!” said the astonished hairdresser.
“A little mistake,” Larry replied, "for which I have apologized.”
THERE were two thoughts in his head as he walked out into the sunlit garden. Why had not Daryl been told of his invitation to the ball, and why had she asked whether he had slept in the hotel that night? Had she been worrying as to what might have befallen him? A wave of appreciation swept over him. Life is very full and adventurous and complicated, and of all its many blessings none is greater than the joy of uncertainty and the knowledge of battles still to be won.
There was no Larry in the foyer when Daryl passed through on her way to the car which took her back to the Presidency. Climbing the stairs to her own apartments, she met Pacheco, who shed upon her one of his most innocent smiles. The pleasantness of his features then contorted itself into a look of perplexity and. tapping his brow like a man in search of a lost memory, he said:
"Surely there was something I wanted to ask you. Ah, yes, I recall it now. This young Englishman. As a visitor from a foreign nation, it would perhaps be a civility to invite him to the ball tonight.”
Daryl said nothing.
"That is, of course,” he went on, “if you have no objection.”
”1 have none,” she replied and passed on up the stairs.
To anyone as inherently truthful as Daryl, the petty deceptions of such a man as Pacheco were unbearable. It seemed impossible for him to tell the truth on any subject. Even in this matter of the invitation to Larry, he lied in presenting it as a suggestion rather than as something which had actually been done. On top of that thought came another even less welcome. What was at the back of the invitation? Why had Pacheco suddenly changed his front in regard to Larry Odell. From any logical standpoint, what had happened would have served to increase his suspicion and dislike for the young man rather than to encourage a taste for his society. It was all very perplexing and worrying, and that was why, when Daryl entered her room and found a small box of roses with a formal typed
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card announcing, "Sent by the order of Clive Lattimer,” she pushed them on one side with an angry gesture and, moving to the window, pressed her small nose against the glass and stretched out her hands as a prisoner stretches them out against bars.
In response to a knock at the door she replied, "Come in,” and did not even turn to see who her visitor might be.
A procession of servants filed in, and the first intimation Daryl had of the reason that brought them was the scent of many flowers filling the air with fragrance. Daryl turned as the last servant went from the room, which suddenly had been transformed into a bower of roses, gladioli, larkspur and camellia. A card had been left with Larry's name upon it. She picked it up and, moving among the flowers, touched them as gently and caressingly as his fingers had caressed her hair earlier that morning.
“Oh, what an idiot he is,’ she said to herself and smiled. Something ached in her throat, and when she touched the comer of one of her eyes she found a little moisture welling from its lower lid. "What an idiot,” she repeated and angrily stamped her foot. “But how glorious it would be if I could be an idiot too!”
A BALL at the Presidency was one of 4*those grim social functions at which those who had been invited abandoned all thought of enjoyment. As in most small states, the affair was distinguished by the observance of strict formality and etiquette. It was not the fashion for anyone to support the President in the matter of receiving guests, and Pacheco, mounted upon a dais, conducted this duty alone. The brief conversation exchanged between himself and the passing guests never departed from a stereotyped formula. To the men he expressed gratification at their presence and to the women mild amazement at their increasing youthfulness.
It was toward the latter end of the procession, when the first press of arrivals had waned to a few stragglers, that the clarion voice of the major-domo announced "Clive Lattimer.”
As a result of a broken night, Mr. Lattimer was not in his best mood. Defying social etiquette, he mooched up to the dais with his hands in his trousers pockets.
“Ah, this is a pleasure indeed. Delightful of you to have come,” said Pacheco, and held out a hand which Lattimer ignored.
"I don't want to shake hands with anyone. Don’t feel like it,” he said.
Pacheco expressed the pious hope that his guest was not ill.
"Ill be hanged. I’m worried.”
Finding themselves alone for a moment, Pacheco dropped his voice to a whisper:
"In three quarters of an hour your worries will be over. Everything is arranged.”
He raised his voice to greet Archie Lester, as that young man breezed in and passed on, to drop into a chair a few yards away with an air vaguely suggesting that his limbs were not under perfect control. It would be doing Archie less than justice to inspire the belief that he made a practice of punishing the bottle. On the other hand, upon such occasions as this he had conclusively proved that an odd spot of liquor made all the difference between profit and loss. From his attitude of collapse and appearance of having entered into temporary oblivion, Lattimer felt justified in making an enquiry without undue caution: "Are you going on with this foolery?” Pacheco nodded.
"And I venture to believe you will live to thank me, my friend.’’
"If ever I reach my second childhood I may, but not before," was the answer. A gloomy problem cast its shadows before Lattimer. "How the devil am I going to justify this abduction with Daryl? Can’t expect a young woman of spirit to take an abduction sitting down.”
Pacheco liad an answer to that:
"Don’t attempt to justify it. Let it appear a romantic gesture.”
"Romantic carrots,” Lattimer retorted. “Who ever heard of shutting a girl up in order to keep her out of reach of some young jackanapes?”
"It has often been done,” Pacheco replied. “Tradition supplies countless examples. I was reading the other day that, when their duties took them to battle, it was a-practice among the Crusaders to—”
But whatever that practice may have been, the arrival of Larry prevented any expression of it.
"Welcome indeed, Señor Odell,” said Pacheco, pressing the sole of his foot lightly upon the toe of a patent leather shoe that Lattimer was wearing.
Larry’s murmured acceptance of this greeting was somewhat drowned by an irritable, "Where the devil are you putting your foot?” from Lattimer.
Pacheco contrived to smile and frown at the same time.
"I believe you have already made Mr. Lattimer’s acquaintance,” he said.
Larry admitted that this was so, and, remarking that his rival appeared to be tired, he tipped Archie out of the chair he was occupying and placed it within reach of Lattimer. This considerate gesture was so unexpected that Lattimer was trapped into an expression of gratitude.
“Not at all,” said Larry. "Must keep up your strength, you know.” And with a smile he vanished in the direction of the ballroom.
'T'HE band had just ceased playing and 4the floor space was rapidly clearing for the appearance of two exhibition dancers who had been engaged to entertain the company. Larry’s entrance through one of the doors synchronized with the departure of Daryl into the garden upon the arm o. the same Anglo-Indian colonel who had caused Lattimer such acute distress at the Palazzo Vecchio. Without provocation, the veteran once more had succeeded in bringing the conversation round to the slaughter of beasts in their wild state. His first remark on the subject was to announce that there were dozens of different ways of shooting tiger and that he had tried them all. As this preface bade fair to involve Daryl into listening to a recital of some length, she was driven manfully to stifle a sigh.
They had reached the steps which led from the terrace into the garden and which were in view of the ballroom when Larry, ranging among the guests, caught sight of them. Unfortunately he was on the farther side of the room and, even more unfortunately, the exhibition dancers had already embarked upon their first item, an original number involving close unity punctuated by abrupt separations, passionate pursuits and ultimate re-welding. At the moment the ’ Larry saw Daryl the dancers were well asunder. Forgetful of all else, Larry strode toward the window just as they turned to plunge into each other’s arms for a temporary reconciliation. As a result, an unrehearsed collision took place in which Larry found himself charged from both sides. With genuine regret, he apologized abjectly to the girl and fled.
He reached the head of the steps as Colonel Chives led Daryl into a narrow walk with a hedge of myrtle on either side, bisected here and there by a cross path.
"But what I say," protested the colonel, "is thisand mind you I’m speaking from an intimate knowledge of my subject—“if a tiger has got to be shot, give me a machan every time.”
Daryl, who hadn’t the vaguest idea what a machan was, murmured some nonsense about them being very fascinating. It was characteristic of the colonel, when carrie. away by the narration of a story, to walk up and down rather than to proceed in any given direction along a straight course. One of these abrupt turns resulted in Daryl
seeing Larry descending the steps toward her.
“To give you an idea,’ said the colonel, developing his theme, “you stake out a live kid—”
“Kid,” Daryl repeated.
“Kid or goat. It doesn’t matter which. But you stake it out under a tree.” He looked about him for some object with which to illustrate his words, and fixed upon a cedar about fifteen paces to the rear.
"This one, for example.” And, spinning Daryl round at the very moment when she and Larry had almost met, he led her down the path.
Now, Larry had had some experience with Anglo-Indian colonels and knew that before their magnificent defenses a frontal attack is foredoomed to failure. Observing that there was a gap beside the tree toward which the colonel was leading Daryl, Larry skirted round the outer side of the hedge and approached it with all the stealth of an Afghan hillman. He arrived at the gap as the colonel was pointing aloft and describing how one fixed a kind of raft in the upper branches.
"There,” he said. “It might be in that crotch up there.”
His eyes were still aloft when Larry's hand stole round the edge of the myrtles and closed upon Daryl’s wrist. Of course, if she had behaved properly she would have made some protest, but she did not behave properly, and while the veteran’s attention was still concerned with a reverent looking upward, she felt herself drawn through the gap, lifted off her feet and carried away at a run. The sound of Larry’s hastening footfalls was drowned by the colonel’s booming, “Then up you go. You, your bearer and the trusty double express. Get the idea?”
A moment’s silence, then, “Bless my soul, where’s she gone to?” After that they were too far for Daryl to hear anything more.
“Put me down,” she insisted. “How can I possibly explain?”
She felt herself tossed almost on to a painted seat in a little shady arbor. Larry was standing before her.
“I shouldn’t try,” he said. "Why bother? One wastes half one’s life explaining things.” He dropped on to the seat beside her and took one of her hands. “And they are seldom the things one wants to explain.”
“Oh, dear, you’re an awful responsibility,” she exclaimed.
His grip on her hand tightened.
“Are you the girl to shirk responsibility?”
But she did not mean to be drawn into a conversation down that avenue.
"You sent me all those flowers. Gardens of them. Why must you exaggerate everything you do?”
He repeated the word “exaggerate” and added:
“When a man’s as much in love as I am, there aren’t enough flowers in the world to say it for you.”
TT WAS like heaven, sitting there in the x night listening to words of that kind spoken by a man who meant them and was not just making them up as part of a ,campaign against a girl’s heart. She tilted her head so that it leaned against the back of the seat' and looked at him. It was dark in the arbor, but there was light enough to see his eyes and the uneven line of his hair as it grew above his forehead.
"I love your hair,” she said, and clapped a hand to her mouth as if to drive the words back and make them unspoken.
“Shall I have it cut off,” he said, “and sent to you in a little paper bag? Or one of those lockets like Victorian ladies used to wear? I sometimes think there’s a bit of the Victorian in you, Daryl—so earnest, so determined to do the right thing, such a self-sacrificer.”
"I’m not,” she answered. “What have I ever sacrificed?”
You 11 sacrifice the whole of your life unless you’re prevented,” he answered.
She started a little.
"Then you know?”
“I knew all along you were not in love with Lattimer, so I looked about for a reason and found it. It's a pretty noble reason too, Daryl. All wrong, of course. But pretty good stuff.”
She did not seem to be listening. All sorts of new troubles were gathering on her brow.
“I’m glad you came tonight,” she said. “Even though I don’t understand why he asked you. I have been worrying. I am worrying.”
She nodded emphatically.
“It’s worth making you worry to hear you confess it.”
“Listen,” she said; “we have to say good-by.”
“Good-by?” he repeated. “You’re going away?”
“No. You are. ”
He laughed at that, but she leaned forward and drummed a fist upon the back of his hand.
“You are. You must!”
“I must, but I can’t,” he said. “Didn’t you know I was happy here?”
“You must go,” she insisted. “Listen: Last night I saved your life.”
“Angel,” he said, smiling. “What for?” “Oh, never mind. But I did. It’s true. He—you know who I mean—had sent for j some men to have you—removed.”
Larry’s mouth went a bit grim.
“Yes,” he said. “I saw some signs of it." “So don’t you see,” Daryl went on, “you must go away?”
“But what use would my life be if I went away?”
“Oh, Larry,” she pleaded. "I’m afraid.
I saved you once, but next time—”
He put an arm on the back of the seat and pressed her shoulder. There was infinite strength in his touch.
“I can look after myself, Daryl.”
“You can’t. You don’t know the danger. And since you’ve discovered about Pacheco and that money— You see, out here,
people who know too much don’t last.”
“My love for you is going to last, ’ he said. “That’s not going to be snuffed out by any twopenny President.” He swung around upon her and spoke with sudden vehemence. “It may seem all right to you to be a professional martyr, but I’m not going to let you do it.”
“Oh, please,” she pleaded. “If you mean any of the things you say to me, please, please go.”
He was silent for a long while, looking at her with his merry, laughing eyes. There was a deep sincerity in his voice when he
“It’s hard to refuse you anything. If I agree, will you say good-by to me as you would if you felt for me as I feel for you?” The bit of Victorian in Daryl made her look down.
“I might. But how can I?”
It was madness to have looked up. His arms were open and waiting for her. With half-closed eyes she entered them and lifted her mouth to his. Then he felt her hands pressing against him and released her from his embrace.
“Now will you go?” she said.
“After that, Daryl?”
She gave a small cry of protest.
But he only shook his head.
“Isn’t that the silliest question ever asked a man?”
“Oh, what am I going to do with you?” she sighed, and kissed him of her own accord, so that his reply, “That will take a lifetime to answer,” only reached her understanding, not her ears.
(To be Continued)