For a second Loder's eyebrows went
^p, but he recovered himself instantly.
"Ah. thanks. Greening," he said.
"Thanks. I think your hope will be
He watched the little secretary move
softly and apologetically to the door,
then he walked to the fire and, rest
ing his elbows on the mantelpiece, he
took his face in his hands.
For a space he stood absolutely
quiet, then his hands dropped to his
sides, and he turned slowly round. In
that short space he had balanced
things and found his bearings. The
slight nervousness shown in his
brusque sentences and overconfident
manner faded out, and he faced facts
With the return of his calmness he
took along survey of the room. His
glance brightened appreciatively as: it
traveled from the walls lined with well
bound books to the lamps modulated to
the proper light from the lamps to the
desk fitted with every requirement.
Nothing was lacking. All he had once
possessed, all he had since dreamed of,
was here, but on a greater scale.
enjoy the luxuries of life a man must
go long without them. Loder had lived
severelyso severely that until three
weeks ago he had believed himself ex
empt from the temptations of
manity. Then the voice of the world
had spoken, and within him another
voice had answered with a tone so
clamorous and insistent that it
outcried his surprised and incredulous
wonder at its existence and its claims.
That had been the voice of suppressed
ambition, and now as he stood in the
new atmosphere a newer voice lifted
itself. The joy of material things rose
suddenly, overbalancing the last rem
nant of the philosophy he had reared.
He saw all things in a fresh light
the soft carpets, the soft lights, the
numberless pleasant, unnecessary
things that color the passing land
scape and oil the wheels of life. This
,was powerpower made manifest. The
choice bindings of one's books, the
quiet harmony of one's surroundings,
the gratifying deference of one's de
pendentsthese were the visible, the
outward signs, the thing she had for
Crossing the room slowly, he lifted
and looked at the different papers on
the desk. They had a substantial feel
ing, an importance, an air of value.
They were like the solemn keys to so
many vexed problems. Beside the pa
pers were a heap of letters neatly ar
ranged and as yet unopened. He turn
ed them over one by one. They were
all thick and interesting to look at.
He smiled us he recalled his own
scanty mailenvelopes long and bulky
or narrow and thin, unwelcome manu
scripts or very welcome cheeks. Hav
ing sorted the letters, he hesitated. It
was his life task to open them, but he
had never in his life opened an envel
ope addressed to another man.
He stood uncertain, weighing them
in his hand. Then all at once a look
of attention and surprise crossed his
face, and he raised his head. Some
one had unmistakably paused outside
the door which Greening had left ajar.
There was a moment of apparent
doubt, then a stir of skirts, a quick,
uncertain knock, and the intruder en
For a couple of seconds she stood in
the doorway then as Loder made no
effort to speak she moved into the
room. She had apparently but just re
turned from some entertainment, for.
though she lrid drawn off her long
gloves, she AVUS still wearing an even
ing cloak of lace and fur.
That she was Chilcote's wife Loder
instinctively realized the moment she
entered the room. But a disconcerting
confusion of ideas was all that fol
lowed the knowledge. He stood by the
desk, silent and awkward, trying to fit
his expectations to his knowledge.
Then, faced by the hopelessness of the
task, he turned abruptly and looked at
She had taken off her cloak and was
standing by the fire. The compulsion
of moving through life alone had set
its seal upon her in a certain self pos
session, a certain confidence of pose,
yet her figure as Loder then saw it,
backgrounded by the dark books and
gowned in pale blue, had a suggestion
of youthfulness that seemed a contra
diction. The remembrance of Chil
cote's epithets "cold" and "unsympa
thetic" came back to him with some
thing like astonishment. He felt no
uncertainty, no dread of discovery and
humiliation in her presence as .he had
felt in the maid's, yet there was some
thing in her face that made him infi
nitely more uncomfortable, a look he
could find no name for, a friendliness
that studiously covered another feel
ing, whether question, distrust or ac
tual dislike he could not say. With a
strange sensation of awkwardness he
sorted Chilcote's letters, waiting for
her to speak.
As if divining his thought she turn
ed toward him. "I'm afraid I rather
ftitrude," she said. "If you are busy"
His sense of courtesy was touched.
He had begun life with a high opinion
f women, and the words shook up an
echo of the old sentiment
"Don't think that," he said hastily.
"I was only looking throughmy let
ters. You mustn't rate yourself below
Otters." He was conscious that his
Masquerade By KATHERINE CECIL THURSTON,
Author of "The Circle," Etc.
Copyright, 1905. 1904, Harper Brothers
tone was hurried, that his words were
a little jagged, but Eve did not appear
to notice. Unlike Greening, she took
the new manner without surprise. She
had known Chilcote for six years.
"I dined with the Fraides tonight,"
she said. "Mr. Fraide sent you a mes-
Unconsciously Loder smiled. There
was humor in the thought of a mes
sage to him from the great Fraide. To
hide his amusement he wheeled one of
the big lounge chairs forward.
"Indeed," he said. "Won't you sit
They wore near together now, and
he saw her face more fully. Again he
was taken aback. Chilcote had spoken
of her as successful and intelligent,
but never as beautiful. Yet her beauty
was a rare and uncommon fact. Her
hair was blacknot a glossy black, but
the dusky black that is softer than any
brownher eyes were large and of a
peculiarly pure blue, and her eyelashes
were black, beautifully curved and of
"Won't you sit down?" he said again,
short his thoughts with some
"Thank you." She gravely accepted
the proffered chair. But he saw that
without any ostentation she drew her
aside as she passed him. The
action displeased him unaccountably.
"Well," he said shortly, "what had
Fraide to say?" He walked to the
with his customary move
ment and stood watching her. The in
stinct toward hiding his face had left
him. Her instant and uninterested ac
ceptance of him almost nettled him.
His own half contemptuous impression
of Chilcote came to him unpleasantly
and with it the first desire to assert his
own individuality. Stung by the con
flicting emotions, he felt in Chilcote's
pockets for something to smoke.
Eve saw and interpreted the action.
"Are these your cigarettes?" She lean
ed toward a small table and took up a
box made of lizard skin.
"Thanks." He took the box from
her, and as it passed from one to the
other he saw her glance at his rings.
The glance was momentary. Her lips
parted to express question or surprise,
then closed again without comment.
More than any spoken words the inci
dent showed him the gulf that sepa
rated husband and wife.
"i'Zl think over what you've said," he
"Well," he said again, "what about
At his words she sat straighter and
looked at him more directly, as if brac
ing herself to a task.
"Mr. Fraide isis as interested as
ever in you," she began.
"Or in you?" Loder made the inter
ruption precisely as he felt Chilcote
would have made it. Then instantly he
wished the words back.
Eve's warm skin colored more deep
ly. For a second the inscrutable un
derlying expression that puzzled him
showed in her eyes, then she sank
back into a corner of the chair.
"Why do you make such a point of
sneering at my friends?" she asked
quietly. "I overlook it when you are
nervous." She halted slightly on the
word. "But you are not nervous to
Loder, to his great humiliation, red
dened. Except for an occasional out
burst on the part of Mrs. Robins, his
charwoman, he had not merited a wo
man's displeasure for years.
"The sneer was unintentional," he
For the first time Eve showed a per
sonal interest. She looked at him in a
puzzled way. "If your apology was
meant" she said hesitatingly, "I should
be glad to accept it
Loder, uncertain of how to take the
words, moved back to the desk. He
carried an unlighted cigarette between
There was an interval in which nei
ther spoke. Then at last, conscious of
its awkwardness, Eve rose. With one
hand on the back of her chair she look
ed at him.
"Mr. Fraide thinks it's such a pity
thag'she stopped to choose her words
"that you should lose hold on things
lose interest in thingsas you are do
ing. He has been thinking a good deal
about you in the last three weeks, ever
since the day of youryour illness in
the house, and it seems to him"again
she broke off, watching Loder's avert
ed head"it seems to him that if you
made one real effort now, even now, to
shake off your restlessness that your
your health might improve. He thinks
that the present crisis would be"she
hesitated"would give you a tremen
dous opportunity. Your trade interests,
bound up as they are with Persia,
would give any opinion you might hold
a double weight." Almost unconscious
ly a touch of warmth crept into her
"Mr. Fraide talked very seriously
about the beginning of your career.
He said that if only the spirit of your
first days could come back" Her
tone grew quicker, as though she fear
ed ridicule in Loder's silence. "He
asked me to use my influence. I know
that I have littlenone, perhapsbut I
couldn't tell him that, and soso
"And have kept the promise?" Loder
spoke at random. Her manner and her
words had both affected him. There
was a sensation of unreality in his
"Yes," she answered. I always
want to dowhat I can."
"As she spoke a sudden realization
or the effort she was making struck
upon him, and with it his scorn of
Chilcote rose in renewed force.
"My intention" he began, turning
to her. Then the futility of any dec
laration silenced him. "I shall think
over what you say," he added after a
minute's wait. "I suppose I can't say
more than that."
Their eyes met and she smiled a lit
"I don't believe I expected as much,"
he said. "I think I'll go now. You
have been wonderfully patient." Again
she smiled slightly, at the same time
extending her hand. The gesture was
quite friendly, but in Loder's eyes it
held relief as well as friendliness, and
When their hands met he noticed that
her fingers barely brushed his.
He picked up her cloak and carried it
across the room. As he held the door
open he laid it quietly across her arm.
"I'll think over what you've said," he
Again she glanced at him as if sus
pecting sarcasm. Then, partly reas
sured, she paused. "You will always
despise your opportunities, and I sup
pose I shall always envy them," she
said. "That's the way with men and
women. Good night." With another
faint smile she passed out into the cor
Loder waited until he heard the outer
door close, then he crossed the room
thoughtfully and dropped into the
chair she had vacated. He sat for a
time looking at the hand her fingers
had touched. Then he lifted his head
with a characteristic movement
"By Jove," he said aloud, "how cor
dially she detests him!"
soundly and dream
lessl in Chilcote's canopied
bed. To him big room
suggested nothing of the gloom and
solitude that it held in its owner's
eyes. The ponderous furniture, the
high ceiling, the heavy curtains, un
changed since the days of Chilcote's
grandfather, all hinted at a far reach
ing ownership that stirred him. The
ownership was mythical in his regard
and the possessions a mirage, but they
filled the day and surely sufficient for
That was his frame of mind as he
opened his eyes on the following morn
ing and lay appreciative of his com
fort, of the surrounding space, even of
the light that filtered through the cur
tain chinks, suggestive of a world re
created. With day all things seemed
possible to a healthy man. He stretch
ed his arms luxuriously, delighting in
the glossy smoothness of the sheets.
What was it Chilcote had said? Bet
ter live for a day than exist for a life
time. That was true, and life had be
gun. At thirty-six he was to know it
for the first time.
He smiled, but without irony. Man
is at his best at thirty-six, he mused.
He has retained his enthusiasms and
shed his exuberances he has learned
what to pick up and what to pass by
he no longer imagines that to drain a
cup one must taste the dregs. Hefirst
closed his eyes and stretched again
not his arms only, but his whole body.
The pleasure of his mental state in
sisted on a physical expression. Then,
sitting up in bed, he pressed the elec
Chilcote's new valet responded.
"Pull those curtains, Renwick," he
said. "What's the time?" He had
passed the ordeal of Renwick's eyes
the night before.
The man was slow, even a little stu
pid. He drew back the curtains care
fully, then looked at the small clock on
the dressing table. "Eight o'clock, sir.
I didn't expect the bell so early, sir."
Loder felt reproved, and a pause fol
"May I bring your cup of tea, sir?"
"No, not just yet. I'll have a bath
Renwick showed ponderous uncer
tainty. "Warm, sir?" he hazarded.
Still perplexed, the man left the
Loder smiled to himself. The chances
of discovery In that quarter were not
large. He was inclined to think that
Chilcote had even overstepped necessi
ty in the matter of his valet's dullness.
He breakfasted alone, following Chil
cote's habit, and af !*r breakfast found
his way to the st jay.
As he entered Greening rose with
the same conciliatory haste that he had
shown the night before.
lender nodded to him. "Eftriy at
4 Si^l '4
4 J4*H s^^JtJ
work?" he said pleasantly. "^$*
The little man showed instant, al
most ridiculous, relief. "Good morn
ing, sir," he said. "You, too, are early.
I rather feared your nerves troubled
you after I left last night, for I found
your letters still unopened this morn
ing. But I am glad to see you look so
Loder promptly turned his back to
the light. "Oh, last night's- letters!"
he said. "To tell you the truth, Green
ing, my trife"his hesitation was very
slight"my wife looked me up after
you left, and we gossiped. I clean for
got the post." He smiled in an ex
planatory way as he moved to the
desk and picked up the lett*rs.
With Greening's eyes upon him there
was no time for scruples. With very
creditable coolness he began opening
the envelopes one by one. The letters
were unimportant, and he passed them
one after another to the secretary, ex
periencing a slight thrill of authority
as each left his hand. Again the fact
that power is visible in little things
came to his mind.
"Give me my engagement book,
Greening," he said when the letters
had been disposed of.
The book that Greening handed him
was neat in shape and bound, like Chil
cote's cigarette case, in lizard skin.
As Loder took it the gold monogram
"J. C." winked at him in the bright
morning light The incident moved his
sense of humor. He and the book were
co-operators in the fraud, it seemed.
He felt an inclination to wink back.
Nevertheless he opened it with proper
gravity and skimmed the pages.
The page devoted to the day was al
most full. On every other line were
jottings in Chilcote's irregular hand,
and twice among the entries appeared
a prominent cross in blue penciling.
Loder's interest quickened as his eye
Caught the mark. It had been agreed
between them that only engagements
essential to Chilcote's public life need
be carried through during his absence,
and these to save his confusion were
to be crossed in blue pencil. The rest,
for the most part social claims, were
to be left to circumstance and Loder's
inclination, Chilcote's erratic memory
always accounting for the breaking of
But Loder in his new energy was
anxious for obligations. The desire for
fresh and greater tests grew with in
dulgence. He scanned the two lines
with eagerness. The first was an in
terview with Cresham, one of Chil
cote's supporters in Wark the other an
engagement to lunch with Fraide. At
the idea of the former his interest
quickened, but at thought of the latter
it quailed momentarily. Had the entry
been a royal command it would have
affected him infinitely less. For a
space his assurance faltered. Then by
coincidence the recollection of Eve and
Eve's words of last night came back to
him, and his mind was filled with a
Because of Chilcote he was despised
by Chilcote's wife! There was no de
nying that in all the pleasant excite
ment of the adventure that knowledge
had rankled. It came to him now link
ed with remembrance of the slight, re
luctant touch of her fingers, the faintly
evasive dislike underlying her glance.
It was a trivial thing, but it touched
his pride as a man. That was how he
put it to himself. It wasn't that he
valued this woman's opinionany wo
man's opinion. It was merely that it
touched his pride. He turned again to
the window and gazed out, the engage
ment book still between his hands.
What if he compelled her respect?
What if by his own personality cloak
ed under Chilcote's identity he forced
her to admit his capability? It was a
matter of pride, after allscarcely even
of pride self respect was a better
Satisfied by his own reasoning, he
turned back into the room.
"See to those letters, Greening," he
said. "And for the rest of the morn
ing's work you might go on with your
Khorasan notes. I believe we'll all
want every inch of knowledge we can
get in that quarter before we're much
older. I'll see you again later." With
a reassuring nod he crossed the room
and passed through the door.
He lunched with Fraide at his club
and afterward walked with him
Westminster. The walk and lunch
were both memorable. In that hour he
learned many things that had been
sealed to him before. He tasted his
draft of real elation, his first drop
of real discomfiture. He saw for the
first time how a great man may con
descendhow unostentatiously, how
fully, how delightfully. He felt what
tact and kindness perfectly combined
may accomplish, and he burned in
wardly with a sense of duplicity that
crushed and elated him alternately.
He was John Loder, friendless, penni
less, with no present and no future, yet
he walked down Whitehall in the full
light of day with one of the greatest
statesmen England has known.
Some strangers were being shown
over the terrace when he and Fraide
reached the house, and, noticing the
open door, the old man paused.
"I never refuse fresh air," he said.
"Shall we take another breath of it
before settling down?" He took Lo
der's arm and drew him forward. As
they passed through the doorway the
pressure of his fingers tightened. "I
shall reckon today among my pleasant
est memories, Chilcote," he said grave
ly. "I can't explain the feeling, but I
seem to have touched Eve's husbaffd.
the real you, more closely this morning
than I ever did before. It has been a
genuine happiness." He looked up with
the eyes that through all his years of
action and responsibility had remained
But Loder paled suddenly, and his
glance turned to the riverwide, mys
terious, secret. Unconsciously Fraide
had stripped the illusion. It was not
John Loder who walked here it was
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