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The St. Charles herald. [volume] (Hahnville, La.) 1873-1993, December 15, 1917, Image 5

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85034322/1917-12-15/ed-1/seq-5/

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A Story About an Ex
periment With Life
Synopsis—Louise Maurel, famous actress, making a motor tour of
rural England, was obliged, when her car broke down, to spend the
night at the ancestral home of Stephen and John Strangewey, bachelor
woman-haters, in the Cumberland district. Before she left the next day
she had captivated John. Three months later he went to London and
looked her up. She introduced him to her friends, among them Graillot,
a playwright, and Sophy Gerard, a light-hearted little actress. John,
puritanical in his views, entered the gay bohemian life of the city with
enthusiasm. It was soon seen that John and the prince of Seyre were
rivals for the heart and hand of Louise. Sophy also loved John
Seyre House was one of the few man
sions in London which boasted a ban
queting hall as well as a picture gal
lery. Although the long table was laid
for forty guests, it still seemed, with
Its shaded lights and its profusion of
flowers, like an oasis of color in the
middle of the huge, somberly lighted
apartment. Some of the faces of the
guests were well-known to John
through their published photographs;
to others he had been presented by
the prince upon their arrival. He was
seated between a young American star
of musical comedy and a lady who had
only recently dropped from the so
cial firmament through the medium of
the divorce court, to return to the the
ater of her earlier fame. Both showed
every desire to converse with him be
tween the Intervals of eating and
drinking, but were constantly brought
to a pause by John's lack of knowledge
of current topics. After her third
glass of champagne, the lady who had
recently been a countess announced
her intention of taking him under her
"Someone must tell you all about
things," she insisted. "What you need
Is a guide and a chaperon. Won't I
"Perfectly," he agreed.
"Fair play!" protested the young
Indy on his left, whose name was Rosie
ßharon. "I spoke to him first !
, "Jolly bad luck !" Lord Amerton
drawled from the other side of the
table. "Neither of you have an earth
ly. He's booked. Saw him out with
her the*other evening."
1 "I sha'n't eat any more supper,
■Rosie Sharon pouted, pushing away
tier plate.
"You ought to have told us about
her at once," the lady who had been a
countess declared severely,
j John preserved his equanimity.
; "It is to be presumed," he murmured,
"that you ladles are both free from
any present attachment?
"Got you there!" Amerton chuckled.
"What about Billy?"
I Rosie Sharon sighed.
"We don't come to the prince's sup
per parties to remember our ties," she
declared. "Let's all go on talking non
sense, please. Even if my heart is
broken, I could never resist the prince's
P at0
Apparently everyone was of the
eame mind. The hum of laughter stead
ily grew. Under shelter of the fire
of conversation, the prince leaned to
ward his companion and reopened their
previous discussion.
. "Do you know'," he began, "I am in
clined to be somewhat disappointed by
your lack of enthusiasm In a certain
direction !"
"I have disappointed many men In
my time," she replied. "Do you doubt
my power, now that I have promised
to exercise It?"
"Who could?" he replied courteously,
"Yet this young man poses, I believe,
as something of a St. Anthony. He
may give you trouble."
"He is then, what you call a prig?'
"A most complete and perfect speci
men, even in this nation of prigs !
"All that you tell me," she sighed,
"makes the enterprise seem easier. It
is, after all, rather like the lioness and
the mouse, isn't it? r
v The prince made no reply, but upon
his Ups there lingered a faintly lncred
ulous smile. The woman by his side
leaned back In her place. She had
the air of accepting the chaUenge,
"After supper," she said, "we will
see !"
A single chord of music In a minor
key floated across the room, soft at
first, swelling later into a volume of
sound, then dying away and ceasing
altogether. Every light in the place
was suddenly extinguished. There re
mained only the shaded lamps over
hanging the pictures.
Not .a whisper was heard in the
yoom. John, looking around him in
astonishment, was conscious only of
the half-suppressed breathing of the
men and women who lined the walls, or
Iwere still standing In little groups at
,the end of the long hall. Again there
leame the music, this time merged In
L t ow but insistent clamor of other in
jjtroments. Then, suddenly, through
the door at the farther end of the
room came a dimly seen figure in white.
The place seemed wrapped in a mys
tical twilight, with long black rays of
deeper shadow lying across the floor.
There was a little murmur of tense
voices, and then again silence.
For a few moments the figure In j
white was motionless. Then, without
any visible commencement, she seemed
suddenly to blend into the waves of
low, passionate music. The dance it
self was without form or definite move
ment. She seemed at first like some
whit*, limbless spirit, floating here nnd
there across the dark bars of shadow
at the calling of the melody. There
was no apparent effort of the body.
She was merely a beautiful, unearthly
shape. It was like the flitting of a
white moth through the blackness of a
moonless summer night.
But her motions grew more ani
mated, more human. With feet which
seemed never to meet the earth, she
glided toward the corner where John
was standing. He caught the smolder
ing fire in her eyes as she danced with
in a few feet of him. He felt a catch in
his breath. Some subtle and only half
expressed emotion shook his whole be
ing, seemed to tear at the locked cham
ber of his soul.
She had flung her arms forward, so
near that they almost touched him.
He could have sworn that her lips had
called his name. He felt himself be
witched, filled with an insane longing
to throw out his arms in response to
her passionate, unspoken invitation, in
obedience to the clamoring of his seeth
ing senses. He had forgotten, even,
that anyone else was in the room.
Then, suddenly, the mu^ stopped.
The lights flared out from the ceiling
and from every corner of the apart
ment Slender and erect, her arms
hanging limply at her sides, without a
touch of color in her cheeks or a coil
of her black hair disarranged, without
a sign of heat or disturbance or pas
sion in her face, John found Alda
Cnlavera standing within a few feet
of him, her eyes seeking for his. She
laid her fingers upon his arm. The
room was ringing with shouts of ap
plause, in which John unconsciously
joined. Everyone was trying to press
forward toward her. With her left
hand she waved them back.
"If I have pleased you," she said, "I
am so glad! I go now to rest for a
little time."
She tightened her clasp upon her
companion's arm, nnd they passed out
of the picture gallery and down a long
"Go Quickly, and Come Back Quickly.
I Wait for You."
corridor. John felt as if he were
walking in a dream. Volition seemed
to have left him. He only knew that
the still, white hand upon his arm
seemed like a vise burning Into his
She led him to the end of the corri
dor, through another door, Into a small
room furnished in plain but comforta
ble fashion.
"We will Invade the prince's own
sanctum," she murmured. "Before I
dance, I drink nothing but water. Now
I want some champagne. Will you
fetch me some, and bring
She sank back upon a divan ns she
spoke. John turned to leave the room,
but she called him back.
"Come here," she invited, "close to
my side ! I can wait for the cham
pagne. Tell me, why you are so silent?
And my dancing—that pleased you?"
He felt the words stick in his throat.
"Your dancing was Indeed wonderful,"
he stammered.
"It was for you !" she whispered, her
voice growing softer and lower. "It
was for you I danced. Did you not feel
Her arms stole toward him. The un
natural calm with which she had fin
ished lier dance seemed suddenly to
pass. Her bosom was rising and fall
ing more quickly. There was a fulnt
spot of color in her cheek.
"It was wonderful," he told her. "I
will get you the champagne."
Her lips were parted. She smiled
up at him.
"Go quickly," she whispered, "and
come back quickly ! I wait for you."
He left the room and passed out
again Into the picture gallery before
he had the least idea where he was
j The band was p i aV ing a waltz, and
Qr twQ couples ; vere dancing. The
w spemp(1 SU(](len iy to have be
come like puppets in some strange,
unreal dream. He felt an almost fever
ish longing for the open air, for a
long draft of the fresh sweetness of
the night, far away from this over
heated atmosphere charged with un
namable things.
As he passed through the farther
doorway he came face to face with
the prince.
"Where are you going?" the latter
"Mademoiselle Calavera has asked
me to get her some champagne," he an
it to me ;
The prince smiled.
"I will see that it Is sent to her at
once," he promised. "You are in my
sanctum, are you not? You can pursue
your tete-a-tete there without inter
ruption. "You are very much envied."
"Mademoiselle Calavera is there,"
John replied. As for me, I am afraid
I shall have to go now."
The smile fnded from the prince's
lips. His eyebrows came slowly to
"You are leaving?" he repeated.
"I must!" John Insisted. "I can't
help it. Forgive my behaving like a
boor, but I must go. Good night !"
The prince stretched out his band,
but he was too late.
John found himself, after a few
minutes' hurried walking, in Picca
dilly. He turned abruptly down Duke
street and made his way to St. James
park. From here he walked slowly
eastward. When he reached the
Strand, however, the storm in his soul
was still unabated. He turned nway
from the Milan. The turmoil of his
passions drove him to the thoughts
of flight. Half an hour later he en
tered St. Paneras station.
"What time is the next train north
to Kendal or Carlisle?" he inquired.
The porter stared at him. John's
evening clothes were spattered with
mud, the raindrops were glistening on
his coat and face, and his silk hat was
ruined. It was not only his clothes,
however, which attracted the man's at
tention. There was the strained look
of a fugitive in John's face, a fugitive
flying from some threatened fate.
"The newspaper train nt five thirty
is the earliest, sir," he said. "I don't
know whether you can get to Kendal
by It, but It stops at Carlisle."
John looked nt the clock. There was
an hour to wait. Ho wandered about
the station, gloomy, chill, deserted.
The place sickened him, and be strolled
out into the streets again. By chance
he left the station by the same exit
as on the day of his arrival In London.
He stopped short.
How could he have forgotten, even
for a moment? This was not the world
which he had come to discover. This
was just some plague-spot upon which
he had stumbled. Through the murky
dawn and across the ugly streets lie
looked into Louise's drawing-room. She
would be there waiting for him on
the morrow !
Louise! The thought of her was
like a sweet, purifying stimulant. He
felt the throbbing of his nerves
soothed. He felt himself growing calm.
The terror of the last few hours was
like a nightmare which had passed. He
summoned a taxicab and was driven to
the Milan. His wanderings for the
night were over.
Sophy Gerard sat in the little back
room of Louise's house, which the lat
ter called her den, but which she sel
dom entered. The little actress was
looking very trim and neat in a simple
blue serge costume which fitted her to
perfection, her hair very primly ar
ranged and tied up with a bow. She
had a pen in her mouth, there was a
sheaf of bills before her, and an open
housekeeping book lay on her knee.
She had been busy for the last half
hour making calculations, the result
; of which had brought a frown to her
"There is no doubt about it," she de
cided. "Louise is extravagant !"
The door opened, and Louise herself,
In a gray morning gown of some soft
material, with a bunch of deep-red
roses at her waist, looked into the
"Why, little girl," she exclaimed,
"how long have you been here?"
"All the morning," Sophy replied. "I
took the dogs out, and then I started
on your housekeeping book and the
bills. Your checks will have to be
larger than ever this month, Louise,
and I don't see how you can possibly
draw them unless you go and see your
bankers first."
Louise threw herself into an easy
"Dear me!" she sighed. "I thought
I had been so careful !"
»now can you talk about being care
ful?" Sophy protested, tapping the
pile of bills with her forefinger. "You
seem to be overdrawn already."
"I will see to that," Louise promised.
"The bank manager Is such a charm
ing person. Besides, what are banks
for but to oblige their clients? How
pale you look, little girl! Were you
out late last night?"
Sophy swung around in her place.
"I am all right. I spent the evening
Ln my rooms and went to bed at eleven
o'clock. Who's lunching with you? I
see the table is laid for two."
Louise glanced at the clock upon the
"Mr. Strangewey," she replied. "I
suppose he will be here in a minute or
Sophy dropped the housekeeping
book and jumped up.
"I'd better go, then."
"Of course not," Louise answered.
"You must stay to lunch. Ring the
bell and tell them to lay a place for
you. Afterward, if you like, you may
come In here and finish brooding over
these wretched bills while Mr. Strange
wey talks to me."
Sophy came suddenly across the
room and sank on the floor at Louise s
"What are you going to do about Mr.
Strangewey, Louise?" she asked wist
"What am I going to do about him?"
"He is in love with you," Sophy con
tinued. "I am sure—I am almost suie
of it."
Louise's laugh was unconvincing.
"You foolish child!" she exclaimed.
"I believe that you have been worry
ing. Why do you think so much about
other people?",
"Please tell me," Sophy begged. "I
want to understand how things really
are between you and John Strangewey.
Are you in love with him?"
Louise's eyes were soft and dreamy.
"I wish I knew," she answered. "If
I am, then there are things in life
more wonderful than I have ever
dreamed of. He doesn't live In our
world—and our world, as you know,
has its grip. He knows nothing about
my art, and you can guess what life
would be to me without that. What
future Could there be for him and for
me together? I cannot remake my
There was something in Sophy's face
that was almost like wonder.
"So this is the meaning of the
change In you, IauiIsc ! 1 knew that
something had happened. You have
seemed so different for the last few
Louise nodded.
"London has never been the same
place to mo since l first met him in
Cumberland," she admitted. ' Some
times I think I am—to use your own
words—In love with John. Sometimes
I feel it Is Just a queer, indistinct, but
passionate appreciation of the abstract
beauty of the life ho seems to stand
"Is ho really so good, I wonder?"
Sophy asked pensively.
"1 do not know," Louise sighed. "I
only know that when I first talked to
1dm, he seemed different from any
man I have ever spoken with in my
life. I suppose there are few temp
tations up there, and they keep nearer
to the big things. Sometimes I won
der, Sophy, If it was not very wrong
of me to draw him away from it ali I
"Rubbish !" Sophy declared. "If he
Is good, he can prove it and know it
here. He will come to know the truth
about himself. Besides, it isn't every
thing to possess the standard virtues.
Louise, he will be here in a minute.
You want to be left alone with him.
What are you going to say when he
asks you what you know he will ask
Louise looked down at her.
"Dear," she said, "I wish I could
tell you. I do not know. That is the
strange, troublesome part of it—I do
not know l"
"Will you promise me something?"
Sophy begged. "Promise me that if I
stay in here quietly until after he has
gone, you will come and tell me!"
Louise leaned a little downward as
if to look into her friend's face. Sophy
suddenly dropped her eyes, and the
color rose to the roots of her hair.
she an
There was a knock at the door, and the
parlor maid entered.
"Mr. Strangewey, madam,
Louise looked at John curiously as
she greeted him. His face showed few
signs of the struggle through which he
had passed, but the grim setting of his
lips reminded her a little of his
brother. He had lost, too, something
of the boyishness, the simple light
heartedness of the day before. Id*
stinctively she felt that the battle had
begun. She asked him nothing about
the supper party, and Sophy, quick to
follow her lead, also avoided the sub
Luncheon was not a lengthy meal,
and immediately its service was con
cluded, Sophy rose to her feet with a
"I must go and finish my work," she
declared. "Let me have the den to my
self for at least an hour, please, Lou
ise. It will take mo longer than that
to muddle through your books."
Louise led the way upstairs into the
cool, white drawing room, with Its
flower-perfumed atmosphere and its
delicate, shadowy air of repose. She
curled herself up ln a corner of the
divan and gave John his coffee. Then
she leaned back and looked at him.
"So you have really come to London,
Mr. Countryman !"
"I have followed you," he answered.
"I think you knew that I would. I
tried not to," he went on, after a mo
ment's pause. "I fought against it as
hard as I could ; but in the end I had
to give in. I came for you."
Louise's capacity for fencing seemed
suddenly enfeebled. A frontal attack
of such directness was irresistible.
"For me!" she repeated weakiy.
"Of course," he replied. "None of
your arguments would have brought
here If I have desired to und^er
nd this world at all. it is because it

Unresisting, She Felt the Fire of His
is your world. It is you I want—don't
you understand that? I thought you
would know it from the first moment
you saw me !"
He was suddenly on his feet, lean
ing over her, a changed man, master
ful, passionate. She opened her lips,
but said nothing. She felt herself
lifted up, clasped for a moment in his
arms. Unresisting, she felt the fire of
his kisses. The world seemed to have
stopped. Then she tried to push him
away, weakly, and against her own
will. At her first movement he laid
her tenderly back ln her place.
"I am sorry !" he said. "And yet I
am not," he added, drawing his chair
close up to her side. *T am glad ! You
knew that I loved you, Louise. You
knew that It was for you I had come."
She was beginning to collect herself.
Her brain was at work again ; but she
was conscious of a new confusion ln
her senses, a new element in her life.
She was no longer sure of herself.
"Listen," she begged earnestly. "Be
reasonable! How could I marry you?
Do you think that I could live with
you up there in the hills?"
"We will live," he promised, "any
where you choose in the world."
"Ah, no !" she continued, patting his
hand. "You know what your life is,
the things you want in life. You don't
know mine yet. There is my work.
You cannot think how wonderful it is
to me. You don't know the things that
fill my brain from day to day, the
thoughts that direct my life. I cannot
marry you just because—because—"
"Because what?" he interrupted ea
"Because you make me feel—some
thing I don't understand, because you
come and you turn the world, for a few
minutes, topsy-turvy. But that is all
foolishness, isn't it? Life isn't built up
of emotions. What I want you to un
derstand, and what you please must
understand, is that at present our
lives are so far, so very far, apart. I
do not feel I could be happy leading
yours, and you do not understand
"I have come to find out about
yours," John explained. "That is why
I am here. Perhaps I ought to have
waited a little time before I spoke to
you as I did just now. But I will serve
my apprenticeship. I will try to get
into sympathy with the things that
please you. It will not take me long.
As soon as you feel that we are draw
ing closer together, I will ask you
again what I have asked you this after
noon. In the meantime, I may be your
friend, may I not? You will let me
see a great deal of you? You will
help me just a little?"
Louise leaned back in her chair. She
had been carried off her feet, brought
face to face with emotions which she
dared not analyze. Perhaps, after all|
her self-dissection, there were still se
cret chambers. She thought almost
with fear of what they might contain.
Her sense of superiority was vanish
ing. She was, after all, like other
"Yes," she promised, "I will help.
We will leave it at that. Some day
you shall talk to me again, if you like.
In the meantime, remember we are both
free. You have not known many wom
en, and you may change your mind
when you have been longer in London.
Perhaps It will be better for you if
you do!"
"That is quite impossible," John said
firmly. "You see," he went on, look
ing at her with shining eyes, "I know
now what I hulf believed from the first
moment that I saw you. I love jou!
Springing restlessly to her feet, she
walked across the room nnd back
again. Action of some sort seemed Im
perative. A curious hypnotic feeling
seemed to be dulling ail her powers
of resistance. She looked Into her life
and she was terrified. Everything had
grown insignificant. It couldn't really
be possible that with her brains, her
experience, this man who had dwelt all
his life in the simple ways had yet the
power to show her the path toward the
greater things! She felt like a child
again. She trembled a little ns she
sat down by his side. It was not ln
tills fashion that she had intended to
hear what he had to say.
"I don't know what is the matter
with me today," she murmured dis
tractedly. "I think I must send you
away. You disturb my thoughts. I
can't see life clearly. Don't hope for
too much from me," she begged. "But
don't go away," she added, with a sud
den irresistible Impulse of anxiety.
"Oh, I wish—I wish you understood me
without my
! and everything about me.
he answered,
and that is sufficient."
Once more she rose to her feet and
! walked across to the window. An au
tomobile had stopped in the street be
low. She looked down upon it with
a sudden frozen feeling of apprehen
and for him,
John moved to her side, and for him,
too, the joy of those few moments was
clouded. A little shiver of presenti
ment took its place. He recognized the
footman whom he saw standing upon
the pavement.
"It is the prince of Seyre," Louise
"Send him away," John begged.
"We haven't finished yet. I won't say
anything more to upset you. What I
want now is some practical guidance."
"I cannot send him away !"
John glanced toward her and hated
himself for his fierce jealousy. She
was looking very white and very pa
thetic. The light had gone from her
eyes. He felt suddenly dominant, and.
with that feeling, there came all the
generosity of the conqueror.
"Good-by !" he said. "Perhaps I can
see you sometime tomorrow.
He raised her hand to his lips and
kissed her fingers, one by one. Then
he left the room. She listened to his
footsteps descending the stairs, firm,
resolute, deliberate. They paused,
there was the sound of voice ;—the
prince and he were exchanging greet
ings; then she heard other footsteps
ascending, lighter, smoother, yet Just!
as deliberate.
Her face grew paler as she listened.
There was something which sounded
to her almost like the beating of fate
In the slow, inevitable approach of
this unseen visitor.
Henri Graillot had made himself
thoroughly comfortable. He was en
sconced in the largest of John's easy
chairs, his pipe in his mouth, a recent
ly refilled teacup—Graillot was English
in nothing except his predilection for
tea—on the small table by his side.
Through a little cloud of tobacco
smoke he was studying his host.
"So you call yourself a Londoner
now, my young friend, I suppose," he
remarked, taking pensive note of
John's fashionable clothes. "It is a
transformation, beyond a doubt 1 Is it,
I wonder, upon the surface only, or
have you indeed become heart and soul
a son of this corrupt city?"
"Whatever I may have become,"
John grumbled, "it's meant three
months of the hardest work I've ever
done !"
Graillot held out his pipe in front of
him and blew away a dense cloud of
"Explain yourself," he insisted.
John stood on the hearth-rug, with,
his hands in his pockets. His morning
clothes were exceedingly well cut, his
tie and collar unexceptionable, his hair
closely cropped according to the fash
ion of the moment. He had an ex
tremely civilized air.
"Look here, Graillot," he said, 'Til
tell you what I've done, although I
don't suppose you would understand
what it means to me. I've visited
practically every theater ln London."
Louise comes to have a secret
horror of the prince. Graillot
gives John some very sensible
advice. The next Installment
brings important developments.
Baby Was Developing.
Johnny was a small boy of about five
years, and he had a baby sister who
was Just learning to walk. One day
Johnny saw his little sister stand alono
and take a few steps for the first time.
Johnny ran hurriedly to his mother and
said, "Oh, mamma, come here quick!
Baby's walkin' on her hind legs."

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