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The St. Charles herald. [volume] (Hahnville, La.) 1873-1993, December 29, 1917, Image 5

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TME HILLMAN
^.PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM
. THE n»AM
uthor of* * THE DOUBLE TRAITOR.'
THE MASTER MUMMER." Etc. ••••
V COMPANY
CHAPTER XV—Continued.
•*T * "—9——
*■ s Won derful !" Sophy ueclared.
1 y and bear the thread of it all In
your mind. For two acts you have
been asked to focus your attention
■ 6 * ncreasin 8 brutality of the
«vJ;.. . ememberth at, won't you?"
"Not likely to forget It," John re
plied. "How well they all act!"
I here was a quarter of an hour's
Interval before the curtain rose aguin.
Rumors concerning the last act had
been floating about for weeks, and the
bouse was almost tense with excite
ment as the curtain went up. The
scene was the country chateau of the
"Marquis de Guy," who brought a
noisy crowd of companions from Pnris
without any warning. His wife showed
signs of dismay at his coming. He
bad brought with him women whom
she declined to receive.
The great scene between her hus
band and herself took place in the
square hall of the chateau, on the first
floor. Louise reaffirms her intention
of leaving the house. Her husband
laughs at her. Her position Is hope
less.
"What can you do?" he mocks.
She shrugs her shoulders and passes
Into her room. The marquis sinks upon
a settee, and presently is joined by
one of the ladies who have traveled
with him from Paris, ne talks to her
of the pictures upon the wall. She is
Impatient to meet the Marquise de
Guy.
The marquis knocks at his wife's
door. Her voice is heard clearly, after
a moment's pause.
"In a few minutes !" she replies.
The marquis resumes his flirtation.
His companion becomes impatient—
the marquis has pledged his word that
she should be received by'his wife. An
ancient enmity against the Marquise
de Guy prompts her to Insist.
The marquis shrugs his shoulders
and knocks more loudly than ever at
his wife's door. She comes out dressed
for travel and is met by Faraday, who
suddenly appears.
"You asked me what I could do, 1
she says, pointing to her lover. "You
see now !
There was a moment's breathless si
lence through the house. The scene in
Itself was a little beyond anything that
the audience had expected. Sophy,
who had been leaning over the edge of
the bfir, turned around In no little
anxiety. She heard the door slam.
John had disappeared !
He left the theater with only his hat
in his hand, turning up his coat by in
stinct as he passed through the driving
rain. All his senses seemed tingling
with some uameless horror. The bril
liance of the language, the subtlety of
the situation, seemed like some evil
trail drawn across that one horrible
climax. It was Louise who had come
from that room and pointed to Fara
day!
He reached his rooms—he scarcely
knew how—and walked upstairs. There
he threw off some of his dripping gar
ments, opened the window wide, and
Itood there.
He looked out over the Thames, and
there was a red flare before his eyes.
Stephen was right, he told himself,
fhere was nothing but evil to be found
here, nothing but bitter disappoint
ment, nothing but the pain which deep
ens into anguish. Better to remain
like Stephen, unloving and unloved, to
draw nearer to the mountains, to find
joy in the crops and the rain and the
sunshine, to listen stonily to the cry
of human beings as if to some voice
from an unknown world.
He leaned a little further from the
window, and gazed into the court at a
dizzy depth below. He had cut himself
adrift from the peace which might have
been his. He would never know again
the Joys of his earlier life. It was for
this that he had fought so many bat
tles, clung so tightly to one Ideal—for
Louise, who could show herself to any
one who cared to pay his shilling or
his half-guinea, glorying in her dis
honor ; worse than glorying in it—find
ing some subtle humor in the little ges
ture with which she had pointed, un
ashamed, to her lover.
. John bent a little lower from the
window. A sudden dizziness seemed
to have come over him. Then he was
forced to turn around. His door had
been quickly opened and shut. It was
I Sophy who was crossing toward him,
the rain streaming from her ruined
opera cloak.
"John !" she cried. "Oh. Johnl"
She led him back to his chair and
knelt bjr bis side. Bhe held his hands
tightly.
"You mustn't feel like this," she
sobbed; "you mustn't, John, really I
You don't understand. It's all a play.
Louise wouldn't really do anything like
that !"
, He shivered. Nevertheless, he
clutched her hands and drew her closer
to him. «
"Do, please, listen to me, ' she
begged. "It's all over. Louise is
self again— Louise Maurel. The Mai
quise de Guy never lived except upoi
those boards. It Is simply a wonderful
creation. Any one of the great ac
tresses would play that part and glory
In it—the very greatest, John. Oh, It's
„„
at her hands roughly.
I "Supposing I won't go?" he whis
"Supposing—I keep
so hard to make you understand ! Lou
ise is waiting for you. They are all
waiting at the supper party. You are
expected. You must go and tell her
that you think it was wonderful !"
He rose slowly to his feet and caught
_____ _____ „„
! less worthy of you and your love,
pered hoarsely,
you here instead, Sophy?"
She swayed for a moment. Some
thing flashed into her face and passed
away. She was paler than ever.
"Dear John," she begged, "pull your
self together! Remember that Louise
is waiting for you. It's Louise you
want—not me. Nothing that she has
done tonight should make her any the
He strode away into the farther
room. He reappeared in a moment or
two, his hair smoothly brushed, his tie
newly arranged.
"I'll come, little girl," he promised.
"I don't know what I'll say to her, but
I'll come. There can't be any harm in
that !"
"Of course not," she answered cheer
fully. "You're the most terrible goose,
John," she added, as they walked down
the corridor. "Do, please, lose your
tragical air. The whole world is at
Louise's feet tonight. You mustn't let
her know how absurdly you have been
feeling. Tomorrow you will find that
every paper in London will be acclaim
ing her genius."
John squared his shoulders.
"All the same," he declared grimly,
"if I could burn the theater and the
play, and lock up Graillot for a month,
tonight, I'd do it !"
CHAPTER XVI.
The days and weeks drifted into
months, and John remained in London.
Ills circle of friends and his interests
had widened. It was only his rela
tions with Louise which remained still
unchanged. Always charming to him,
giving him much of her time, favoring
him, beyond a doubt, more than any of
her admirers, there was yet about her
something elusive, something which
seemed intended to keep him so far as
possible at arm's length.
There was nothing tangible of which
he could complain, and this probation
ary period was of his own suggestion.
He bore it grimly, holding his place,
whenever it was possible, by her side
with dogged persistence. Then one eve
ning there was a knock at his door,
and Stephen Strangewey walked in.
Stephen, although he seemed a little
taller and gaunter than ever, though
he seemed to bring into the perhaps
overwarmed atmosphere of John's lit
tle sitting room something of the cold
austerity of his own domain, had evi
dently come in no unfriendly spirit. He
took both his brother's hands in his
and gripped them warmly.
"I can't tell you how glad I am to
see you, Stephen!" John declared.
"It has been an effort to me to
come," Stephen admitted. "I am one
of the old-fashioned Strangeweys.
What I feel is pretty well locked up
inside. The last time you and I met
perhaps I spoke too much; so here I
am !"
"It's fine of you," John declared. "I
remember nothing of that day. We will
-If» Louise You Want—Not Me."
look at things squarely together, even
where we differ. I'm—"
He broke off in the middle of his sen
tence. The door had been suddenly
opened, and Sophy Gerard made a
somewhat impetuous entrance.
"I'm absolutely sick of ringing,
John," she exclaimed. "Oh, I beg your
pardon I I hadn't the least Idea yon
had anyone with you."
She stood still in surprise, a little
pologetlc smile upon her lips. John
stened forward and welcomed her.
"It's all right, Sophy," he declared,
t me introduce my brother, may I?
brother Stephen—Miss Sophy
îen rose slowly from his place,
n his pipei and bowed stiffly to 1
Sophy. She held out her hand, how
1 ever, and smiled up at him delightfully.
"How nice of you to come and see
I your poor, lonely brother !" she said,
j "We have done our best to spoil him,
! but I'm afraid he is very homesick
sometimes. I hope you've come to stay
J a long time and to learn all about Lon
don. as John is doing. If you are half
us nice as he is, we'll give you such a
good time!"
From his great height, Stephen
looked down upon the girl's upturned
face a little austerely. She chattered
away, entirely unabashed.
"I do hope you're not shocked at my
bursting in upon your brother like
this! We really are great pals, and I
live only just across the way. We are
much less formal up here, you know,
than you are in the country. John, I've
brought you a message from Louise."
"About tonight?'
She nodded.
"Louise is most frightfully sorry,"
she explained, "but she has to go down
to Streatham to open a bazaar, and she
can't possibly be back in time to dine
before the theater. Can you guess what
she dared to suggest?"
"I think I can," John replied, smiling.
"Say you will, there's a dear," she
begged. "I am not playing tonight.
May Enser is going on in my place. We
arranged it a week ago. I had two
fines to pay on Saturday, and I haven't
had a decent meal this week. But I
had forgotten," she broke off, with a
sudden note of disappointment in her
tone. "There's your brother. I musn't
take you away from him."
"We'll all have dinner together."
John suggested. "You'll come, of
course, Stephen?"
Stephen shook his head.
"Thank you," he said, "I am due at
my hotel. I'm going back to Cumber
land tomorrow morning, and my errand
is already done."
"You will do nothing of the sort!"
John declared.
"Please be amiable," Sophy begged.
"If you won't come with us, I shall
simply run away and leave you with
John. You needn't look at your
clothes," she went on. "We can go to
a grillroom. John sha'n't dress, either.
I want you to tell ine all about Cum
berland. where this brother of yours
lives. He doesn't tell us half enough !"
John passed his arm through his
brother's and led him away.
"Come and have a wash, old chap,"
he said.
They dined together at Luigi's, a
curiously assorted trio—Sophy, be
tween the two men, supplying a dis
tinctly alien note. She was always
gay, always amusing, but although she
addressed most of her remarks to
Stephen, he never once unbent. He ate
and drank simply, seldom speaking of
himself or his plans, and firmly nega
tiving all their suggestions for the re
mainder of the evening. Occasionally
he glanced at the clock. John became
conscious of a certain feeling of curi
osity, which in a sense Sophy shared.
"Your brother seems to me like a
man with a purpose," she said, as they
stood in the entrance hall on their way
out of the restaurant. "Like a prophet
with a mission, perhaps I should say."
John nodded. In the little passage
where they stood, he and Stephen
seemed to dwarf the passers-by. The
men, in their evening clothes and pallid
faces, seemed suddenly insignificant,
and the women like dolls.
"For the last time, Stephen," John
said, "won't you come to a music hall
with us?"
"I have made my plans for the eve
ning, thank you," Stephen replied,
holding out his hand. "Good night !"
He left them standing there and
walked off down the Strand. John, look
ing after him, frowned. He was con
scious of a certain foreboding.
"I suppose," Sophy sighed, as they
waited for a taxicab, "we shall spend
the remainder of the evening in the
usual fashion !"
"Do you mind?" John asked.
"No," she assented resignedly. "That
play will end by making a driving
idiot of me. If Louise is tired tonight,
though, I warn you that I shall insist
upon supper."
"It's a bargain," John promised.
"We'll drive Louise home, and then I'll
take you back to Luigi's. We haven't
been out together for some time, have
we?"
She looked up at him with a little
grimace and patted his hand.
"You have neglected me," she said.
"I think all these fine ladies have
turned your head."
She drew a little closer to him and
passed her arm through his. John
made no responsive movement. He was
filled with resentment at the sensation
of pleasure that her affectionate ges
ture gave him.
The curtain was up and the play in
progress when they reached the box
that John had taken for the season.
The spell of It all, against which he
had so often fought, came over John
anew. He set his chair back against
the wall and watched and listened, a
veritable sense of hypnotism creeping
over his senses. Presently the same
impulse which had come to him so
many times before induced him to turn
his head, to read in the faces of the au
dience the reflection of her genius. He
had often watched those long lines of
faces changing, each In its own way,
under the magic of her art. Tonight
he looked beyond. He knew very well
that his search had a special object.
Suddenly he gripped the arms of his ;
chair. In the front row of the pit, sit
ting head and shoulders taller than the
men and women who lounged over the
wooden rest In front of them, was
Stephen. More than ever, among these
unappropriate surroundings, he seemed
to represent something almost patri
archal, a forbidding und disapproving
spirit sitting In judgment upon some
modern and unworthy want 'uness. Hi»
J
face, stern and grave, showed little
sign of approval or disapproval, but to
John's apprehending eyes the critical
sens.* vus there, the verdict fore
doomed. He understood as in a flash
that Stephen had come there to judge
once more the woman whom his broth
cr desired.
The curtain went up again and the
play moved on, with subtle yet inevita
ble dramatic power, toward the hated
and dreaded crisis.
The play came to an end presently,
amid a storm of applause. The grim
figure in the front of the pit remained
motionless and silent. He was one of
the last to leave, and John watched his
retreating figure with a sigh. Sophy
drew him away.
"We had better hurry round," she
said. "Louise Is always very quick get
ting ready."
They found her, as a matter of fact,
in the act of leaving. She welcomed
them naturally enough, but John
fancied that her greeting showed some
signs of embarrassment.
"You knew that I was going out to
supper tonight?" she asked. "Oh didn't
I tell you? The prince has asked the
r w '.
Vu
It
V
"My Preference Is to Remain Stand
ing."
French people from His Majesty's to
meet M. Graillot at supper. I am hur
rying home to dress."
John handed her Into her waiting
automobile in silence. She glanced
into his face.
"Is anything the matter?" she asked.
"Nothing !"
"The prince would have asked you,
without a doubt," Louise continued,
"but he knows that you are not really
interested in the stage, and this party
is entirely French—they do not speak
a word of English. Au revoir ! Sophy,
take care of him, and mind you behave
yourselves !"
She waved her hand to them both
and threw herself back among the
cushions as the car glided off. John
walked to the corner of the street in
gloomy silence. Then he remembered
his companion. He stopped short.
"Sophy," he begged, "don't hold me
to my promise. I don't want to take
you out to supper tonight. I am not in
the humor for it."
"Don't be foolish!" she replied. "If
you stay alone, you will only imagine
things and be miserable. We needn't
have any supper, unless you like. Let
me come and sit in your rooms with
you."
"No !" he decided, almost roughly,
am losing myself, Sophy. I am losing
something of my strength every day.
Louise doesn't help as she might. Don't
stay with me, please. I am beginning
to have moods, and when they come on
I want to be alone."
She drew a little closer to him.
"Let me come, please!" she begged,
with a pathetic, almost childlike quiver
at the corner of her lips.
He looked down at her. A sudden
wave of tenderness swept every other
thought from his mind. His mental
balance seemed suddenly restored. He
hailed a passing taxi and handed Sophy
into It.
"Whnt a selfish pig I am!" he ex
claimed. "Anyhow, it's all over now.
We'll go back to Luigi's to supper, by
all means. I am going to make you
tell me all about that young man from
Bath !"
CHAPTER XVII.
Louise glanced at her watch, sat up
In bed, and turned reproachfully
toward Aline.
"Aline, do you know it is only eleven
o'clock?" she exclaimed.
"I am very sorry, madame," the lat
ter hastened to explain, "but there Is a
gentleman downstairs who wishes to
see you. He says he will wait until
yon can receive him. I thought you
would like to know."
"A gentleman at this hour of the
morning?" Louise yawned. "How ab
surd ! Anyhow, you ought to know
better than to wake me up before the
proper time."
"I am very sorry, madame," Aline re
plied. "I hesitated for some time, but
I thought you would like to know that
the gentleman was here. It is Mr.
Stephen Strangewey—Mr. John'»
brother."
Louise clasped her knees with her
fingers and sat thinking. She was wide
awake now.
"He has been here some time al
ready, madame," Aline continued. "I
did not wish to disturb you, but 1
thought perhaps it was better for you
to know that he was here."
"Quite right, Aline," Louise decided.
"Go down and tell him that I will see
him in half an hour, and get my bath
ready at one»
j
;
j
i
j
! Louise dressed herself simply but
to carefully. She could conceive of but
; one reason for Stephen's presence in
her house, and it rather amused her. It
; was, of course, no friendly visit. He
| had come either to threaten or to
! cajole. Yet what could he do? What
of
had she to fear? She went over the in-
terview in her mind, imagining him
-T
crushed and subdued by bei
subtlety and finesse.
With a little smile of coming triumph
upon her lips slu* descended the stairs
and swept into lier pleasantly warmed
and perfumed little drawing-room. She
even held out her hand cordially to the
dark, grim figure whose outline against
tiie dainty white wall seemed so' inap
propriate. (
"This is very nice of you indeed, Mr.
Strangewey," she began. "I had no idea
that you had followed your brother's
example and come to town."
She told herself once more that her
slight instinct of uneasiness had been
absurd. Stephen's bow, although a lit
tle formal and austere, was still an
acknowledgment of her welcome. The
shadows of the room, perhaps, had pre
vented him from seeing her out
stretched hand.
"Mine Is a very short visit. Miss Mau
rel," he said. "I had no other reason
for coming but to see John and to pay
this call upon you."
"I am greatly flattered," she told
him. "You must please sit down and
ruuke yourself comfortable while we
talk. See, this Is my favorite place,"
she added, dropping into a corner of
her lounge. "Will you sit beside me?
Or, If you prefer, draw up that chair."
"My preference," he replied, "Is to
remain standing."
She raised her eyebrows. Her tone
altered.
"It must be as you wish, of course,"
she continued ; "only I have such pleas
j ant recollections of your hospitality at
; I'eak Hull that I should like. If there
j was any possible way In which I could
i return it—" .
"Madam," he Interrupted, "you must
admit that the hospitality of Beak Hall
j was not willingly offered to you. Save
for the force of circumstances, you
would never have crossed our thresh
old."
She shrugged her shoulders. She
was adapting her tone and manner to
the belligerency of his attitude.
"Well?"
"You want to know why I have found
my way to London?" he went on. "I
came to find out a little more about
you."
"About me?"
"To discover if there was anything
about you," he proceeded deliberately,
"concerning which report had lied. I
do not place my faith in newspapers
and gossip. There was always a chance
that you might have been an honest
woman. That is why I came to Lon
don, and why I went to see your play
last night."
She was speechless. It was as If he
were speaking to her in some foreign
tongue.
"I have struggled," he continued, "to
adopt a charitable view of your pro
fession. I know that the world changes
quickly, while we, who prefer to re
main outside its orbit, of necessity lose
touch with Its now ideas and new
fashions. So I said to myself that
there should be no mistake. For that
reason I sat in a theater last night al
most for the first time in my life,
saw you act."
"Well?" she asked almost defiantly.
He looked down at her. All splendid
self-assurance seemed ebbing away,
She felt a sudden depression of spirit,
a sudden strange sense of insignifi
cance.
"I have come," he said, "if I can, to
buy my brother's freedom."
"To buy your brother's freedom?
she repeated, in a dazed tone.
"My brother is infatuated with you,"
Stephen declared. "I wish to save
him."
The woman's courage began to as
sert Itself. She raised her eyes to his
"Exactly what do you mean?" she
asked calmly. "In what way Is any
man to be saved from me? If your
brother should care for me, and I, by
any chance, should happen to care for
him, in what respect would that be a
state from which he would require sal
vation?"
"You make my task more difficult,"
he observed deliberately. "Does it
amuse you to practice your profession
before one so ignorant and so unappre
ciative as myself? If my brother
should ever marry, it Is my firm Intern
tion that he shall marry an honest
woman."
Louise sat quite still for a moment.
A flash of lightning had glittered be
fore her eyes, and in her ears was the
crash of thunder. Her face was sud
denly strained. She saw nothing but
the stern, forbidding expression of the
man who looked down at her,
"You dare to say this to me, here in
my own house?"
"Dare? Why not? Don't people tell
you the truth here in London, then?"
She rose a little unsteadily to her
feet, motioning him toward the door
and moving toward the belL Suddenly
she sank back into her former place
breathless and helpless.
"Why do yon waste your hreath?" he
asked ealrniy. "We are alone here
you and I— we know the truth !"
She sat quite still, shivering a little
"Do we? Tell me, then, because I
am curious—tell me why you are so
sure of what you say."
"The world has It," he replied, "that
you are the mistress of the prince of
Seyre. I came to London to satisfy
myself as to the truth of that report
Do you believe that any man living
among that audience last night coulu
watch the play—although you 'are a
clever actress, madam—and believe
that you were a woman who was living
an honest life?" 6
to
she
her
S
sh"
«That seems impossible to you? u sti|
demanded.
"Utterly impossible!
"And to John?"
"I ai
formynro».-. — alled by a certifia
Tiiai m nnvthing that yon
If I ! ' b i",rvourcvm sue-
II» " h0 Z,"1SÏÏlone 0 witb It
lack— anything which your
or lovers, have
she
cess and your lover,
failed to provide for you?
It was useless to try to rise;
was powerless in all her limbs. Side
by side with the anger and horror
his
words aroused was a sense of some.
almost grotesque,
something
which seemed to force an unnatural
laugh from her lips.
"So you want to buy me off?
"I should be glad to believe that It
was within my power to do so. I have
not John's great fortune, but I have
money, the accumulated savings of a
lifetime, for which I have no better
purpose. There is one more thing, too.
to bsttnid."
"AlWher charge?"
"Not that," he told her; "only It Is
better for you to understand that if
you turn me from your house tala
morning, I shall still feel the necessity
of saving my brother from you.
"Saving him from me?" she £X*
claimed, rising suddenly and throwing
out her arms. "Do you know what
you are talking about? Do you know 1
that if I consented to think of your
brother as my husband, there Is not ft
man in London who would not envy
him? Look at me! I am beautiful, aai
I not? I am a great artist. I am Lou
ise Maurel, and I have made myself
famous by my own work and my own
genius. What Has your brother dens
In life to render him worthy of the
sacrifice I should make If I chose to
give him my hund? You had better
go back to Cumberland, Mr. Strange
wey. You do not see life as we see it
up here!"
"And what about John?" he asked,
without moving. "You tempted him
away. Was It from wantonness, or do
you love him?"
"Love him?" she laughed. "I hate
you both ! You are boors—you are
ignorant people. I hate the moment I
ever saw either of you. Take John back
with you. Take him out of my life.
There Is no place there for him !"
Stephen picked up his hat from the
sofa where It lay. Louise remained
perfectly still, her breath coming quick
ly, her eyes lit with passion.
"Madam," he said, "I am sorry to
have distressed you, but the truth
sometimes hurts the most callous of
us. You have heard the truth from
me. I will take John back to Cumber
land with me, if he will come. If ha
will not—"
"Take him with you !" she broke In
fiercely. "He will do as I bid him—da
you hear? If I lift my little finger, he
will stay. It will be I who decide*.
I—"
"But you will not lift your little fin
ger," be interrupted grimly.
"Why shouldn't I, just to punish
you?" she demanded. "There ar8
scores of men who fancy themselves ia
love with me. If I choose, I can keep
them all their lives hanging to tha
hem of my skirt, praying for a word, a
touch. I can make them furious one
day and penitent the next—wretched
always, perhaps, but I can keep them
there. Why should I not treat your
brother in the same way?"
He seemed suddenly to dilate. She
was overcome with a sense of some lat
ent power in the man, some command
ing influence.
"Because," he declared, "I am the
guardian of my brother's happiness.
Whoever trifles with It shall In the fu
ture reckon with me !"
His eyes were fixed upon her soft,
white throat. His long, lean flngera
seemed suddenly to be drawing near
to her. She watched him, fascinated,
bhe was trying to »cream. Even after
<B r /( t
}>X
m
%
"T*ke Him with Youl* She Broke in
Fiercely.
she h hl t K rned aWay and Ieft he ri after
«ending th a e stî!rs m h eaSU fl red tmmp **
her thrLf Iv ' her ®ngers flew fo
standing She held hers elf tightly,
throbbing pffiser lt ltw atlDS aQrt
........
but—^n 6 Hte " very sma11 luncheon,
S 3 V n T al th,ng for her-ahe
sh" had ZZTlol Wlne ' JUSt "
ink-stained finger^ aï 77 !°'
pression. d a serious «*
(TO B« CONTINUED.*

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