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An Unusual Love Story By E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM m Æ I.L the world loves a lover, and all the world chortles with de light when a charming girl fascinates an avowed woman-hater and trains him to eat quietly out of her hand. In the story which we offer here, the charming heroine does nothing so common place as to fascinate one man ; she fascinates dozens. And in the end she has not one woman-hater eating out of her hand, but three of the crustiest bachelors you ever saw following her around like faithful dogs. "The Hillman" is altogether delightful, and we feel sure our readers will enjoy the serial thoroughly. A THE EDITOR. CHAPTER I. I 1 i Louise was leaning back among the j cushions of the motionless car. The ! moon had not yet risen, but a faint and luminous glow, spreading like a halo about the topmost peak of the ragged line of hills, heralded its approach. Her eyes swept the hillsides, vainly yet without curiosity, for any sign of a human dwelling. Her chauffeur and her maid stood talking heatedly to gether near the radiator. Louise leaned forward and called to the chauffeur. "Charles," she asked, "what has hap pened? Are we really stranded here?" The man's head emerged from the bonnet. He came round to the side of the car. ported, "but something has gone wrong with the magneto. I shall have to take j it to pieces before I can tell exactly what is wronj. It will take several j hours and it ought to be done by day light. Perhaps I had better go and see whether there isn't a farm somewhere : near." "I am very sorry, madam," he re "And leave us here alone?" Aline ex claimed indignantly. Her mistress smiled at her réassur ingly. "What have we to fear, you foolish girl? For myself, I would like better than anything to remain here until the moon comes over the top of that round hill. But listen! There is no neces sity for Charles to leave us." They all turned their heads. From some distance behind there came, faintly at first, but more distinctly every moment, the sound of horse's hoofs. Louder and louder came the sound. Louise gave a little cry as a man on horseback appeared in sight at the crest of the hill. The narrow strip of road seemed suddenly dwarfed, an unreasonable portion of the horizon blotted out. In the half light there was something almost awesome in the unusual size of the horse and of the i "It is a world of goblins, this. Aline !" her mistress exclaimed softly. "What is it that comes?" "It is a human being. Dieu merci !" the maid replied, with a matter-of-fact little sigh ei content. A few moments later horse and rider were beside the car. man who rode it. , , 1 comer asked, dismounting and raising j "I have broken down," Louise said, i "Please tell us what you would advise ; us to do. Is there a village near, or j an inn, or even a barn? Or shall we j have to spend the night in the car?" "The nearest village," he replied, "is | twelve miles away, own home is close by. I shall be very "Has anything happened?" the new his whip to his cap. Fortunately, my j j ! ! V 7 r 5» m • ■. / 0 V I-/ X h K * *• j 4 . V/ % J* pleased_I and my brother_If you will honor us I am afraid I caunot offer vou very "much in the way of entertain ment_" " • ! S l, e rot! e briskly to her feet and beamed upon him. * "You are indeed a good Samaritan !" she exclaimed "A roof is more than we had* dared to hope for, although when one looks up at this wonderful sky and breathes this air, one wonders, perhaps, whether a roof, after all, is such a blessing." «You Are Indeed a Good Samaritan. cold toward morning," "It gets very ■ the young man said practically. "Of course," she assented. "Aline, you will bring my dressing-bag and foi low us This gentleman is kind enough for the night. Dear |to offer us shelter I me, you really are almost as tall as 1 you appeared !" she added, as she stood For the first time in my j by his side, ! life you make me feel undersized, He looked down at her, a little more at his ease now by reason of the friend liness of her manner, although he had still the air of one embarked upon an adventure, the outcome of which was to be regarded with some qualms. She was of little more than medium height, and his first impressions of her that she was thin, and too pale to be good-looking; that her eyes were large and soft, with eyebrows more clearly defined than Is usual among English women ; and that she moved without seeming to walk. v.t-n ■"I suppose I am tall," he admitted, as they started off along the road. "One doesn't notice it around here. My name is John Strangewey, and j house is just behind that clump of trees there, on the top of the hill. We j will do our best to make you comfort able," he added a little doubtfully ; "but there are only my brother and : myself, and we have no our women serv ants in the house." "A roof of any sort will be a luxury," she assured him. "I only hope that we shall not be a trouble to you in any way." "And your name,* please?" he asked. She was a little amazed at his direct ness, but she answered him without hesitation. "My name," she told him, "is Lou j ise." He leaned down toward her, a little puzzled. "Louise. But your surname?" She laughed softly. It occurred to him that nothing like her laugh had ever been heard on that gray-walled stretch of mountain road. "Never mind ! I am traveling Incog nito. Who I am, or where I am going —well, what does that matter to any body? Perhaps I dd not know myself, You can imagine, if you like, that came from the heurt of your hills, and i that tomorrow they will open again and welcome us back." « e "I don't think there are any motor cars in fairyland," he objected. "We represent a new edition of fairy lore," she told him. "Modern romance, you know, includes motor-cars and even French maids." , All the same, he protested, with 1 mas< ; u ' ine bluntness, "I really don t see how I can introduce you to my j brother as 'Louise from fairyland.' " i She evaded the point. ; "Tell me about your brother. Is he j as tall as you, and is he younger or j older?" | her companion replied, "He is nearly twenty years older," "He is about j my height, but he stoops more than I do, and his hair is gray. I am afraid that you may find him a little pecu liar." , „ white gate on their left-hand side. Be- : fore them was an ascent wnich seemed to her, in the dim light, to be abso lutely precipitous. "It isn't so bad as it looks," he as sured her, "and I am afraid it's the only way up. The house is at the bend there, barely fifty yards away. You can see a light through the trees." "You must help me, then, please," she begged. He stooped down toward her. She linked her fingers together through his left arm and, leaning a little heavily upon him, began the ascent. He was conscious of some subtle fragrance from her clothes, a perfume strangely different from the odor of the ghost like flowers that bordered the steep path up which they were climbing. Her arms, slight, warm things though they were, and great though his own strength, felt suddenly like a yoke. At every step he seemed to feel their weight more insistent—a weight not j physical, solely due to this rush of un ! expected emotions. ! She looked around her almost In Her escort paused and swun^r open a wonder as her companion paused with bis hand upon a little iron gate. From behind that jagged stretch of hills in ; ! the distance the moon had now ap- j peared. Before her was a garden, austere-looking with ite prim flower beds, the trees all bent in the same direction, fashioned after one pattern by the winds. Beyond was the house; —a long, low huilding, part of it cov- \ ered with some kind of creeper, As they stepped across the last few I yards of lawn, the black, oak door which they were approaching suddenly opened. A tall, elderly man stood look ing Inquiringly out. He shaded his ! ; eyes with his bauds. j "Is that you, brother?' he asked j doubtfully. j John Strangewey ushered his com "This lady's motor-car has broken down, Stephen," John explained, turn ing a little nervously toward his broth- j er. "I found them in the road. Just : at the bottom of the hill. She and her I panion into the square, oak-paneled j hall, hung with many trophies of the chase, a few oil-paintings, here and there some sporting prints. It was lighted only with a single lamp which stood upon a round, polished table In the center of the white-flagged floor. servants will spend the night here. I ! have explained that there is no village or inn for a good many miles." : Louise turned graciously toward the elder man, who was standing grimly apart. Even in those few seconds, her quick sensibilities warned her of the j I i ! j ; & 'M I «, I «a 1 vpi S MMkV Y ; i I ! * ♦ v V i ai , Hîs Bow Was Stiff and Uncordial. hostility which lurked behind the tight j ly closed lips and steel-gray eyes. His bow was stiff and uncordial, and he made no movement to offer his hand. "We are not used to welcoming la John threw his hat and whin upon the round table and stood in the center She caught a glance which flashed between the two men—of appeal from the one, of icy resentment from the other. ' "We can at least add to the roof a 1 bed and some supper—and a welcome," Ijohn declared. "Is that not so, Ste I dies at Peak Hall, madam," he said. "I am afraid that you will find us somewhat unprepared for guests." "I ask for nothing more than a roof, Louise assured him. of the stone floor. e phen?" The older man turned deliberately j away. It was as if he had not heard his brother's words. W ill go and find Jennings," he t sn j d . "He must be told about the serv "I am sorry," she murmured apolo getically. "I am afraid that your brother is not pleased at this sudden intrusion. Really, we shall give you very little trouble." He answered her with a sudden ants.' Louise watched the disappearing fig ure until it was out of sight. Then she looked up Into the face of the younger man, who was standing by her side. I eager enthusiasm. He seemed far more natural then than at any time since he : had rlddPQ up froln out of the shad . candlestick in her hand, stood upon the uneven floor of the bedroom to which s he had been conducted, looking up at the oak-fraiued family tree which hung above the broad chimney-piece. She examined the coat of arms emblazoned in the corner, and peered curiously at the last neatly printed addition, which indicated Stephen and John Strange wey as the sole survivors of a dimin ishing line. When at last she turned At away, she found the name upon her Ups. In a ows to take his place in her life. "I won't apologize for Stephen," he said. "He is a little crotchety. You must please be kind and not notice. You must let me, if I can. offer yon welcome enough for us both. Louise, with a heavy, silver-plated CHAPTER II. Strangewey!" she murmured. "John Strangewey ! It is really curious how that name brings with it a sense of familiarity. It is so unusual, too. And what an unusual-looking person ! Do you think, Aline, that you ever saw in ; anyone so superbly handsome?" j The maid's little grimace was ex pressive. yet to think of it—a gentleman, a per son of intelligence, who lives here al ways, outside the world, with just a \ terrible old man servant, the only do "Never, madam," she replied. "And mestic In the house! Nearly all the I cooking is done at the bailiff's, a quar ter of a mile away." Louise nodded thoughtfully. "It is very strange," she admitted. his "I should like to understand it. Per ! haps," she added, half to herself, "some day 1 shall." j She passed across the room, and on her way paused before an old cheval glass, before which were suspended two silver candlesticks containing i lighted wax candles. She looked stead- j fastly at her own reflection. A little smile parted her lips. In the bedroom of this quaint farmhouse she was look ing upon a face and a figure which the illustrated papers and the enterprise of the modern photographer had com bined to make familiar to the world— the figure of a girl, it seemed, notwith standing her twenty-seven years. Her ; soft, white blouse was open at the ; neck, displaying a beautifully rounded throat. Her eyes dwelt upon the oval j face, with Its strong, yet mobile tea tures ; its lips a little full, perhaps, but soft and sensitive ; at the masses of brown hair drawn low over her ears. This was herself, then. How would she seem to these two men downstairs, she asked herself—the dour, grim mas ter of the house, and her more youthful rescuer, whose coming had somehow touched her fancy? They saw so little of her sex. They seemed, in a sense, to be in league against it. Would they find out that they were entertaining an angel unawares? She thought with a gratified smile of her incognito. It was a real trial of her strength, this ! When she turned away from the mirror the smile still lingered upon her lips, a soft light of anticipation was shining in her eyes. John met her at the foot of the stairs. She noticed with some sur prise that he was wearing the dinner i jacket and black tie of civilization. I "Will you come this way, please?" he begged. "Supper is quite ready." He held open the door of one of the rooms on the other side of the hall, and she passed into a low dining room, dim ! ly lit with shaded lamps. The elder brother rose from his chair as they en tered, although his salutation was grimmer than his first welcome, He was wearing a dress-coat of old fashioned cut, and a black stock, and even ke remained standing, without any smile or word of greeting, until she had taken her seat. Behind his chair stood a very ancient manservant in a gray pepper-and-salt suit, with a white The table was laid with all manner of cold dishes, supplemented by others upon the sideboard. There were pots of jam and honey, a silver teapot and silver spoons and forks of quaint de sign, strangely cut glass, and a great ' Dresden bowl filled with flowers. 1 "I am afraid." John remarked, "that you are not used to dining at this hour. My brother and I are old-fashioned in I our customs. If we bad had a little tie, whose expression, at the entrance of this unexpected guest, seemed cu riously to reflect the inhospitable in stincts of his master. j longer notice—" "I never in my life saw anything that looked so delicious as your cold chicken," Louise declared. "May I have some—and some hum? I believe that you must farm some land your "We are certainly farmers," John ad mitted. with a smile, "and I don't think there is much here that isn't of our own production. The farm buildings are at some distance away from the house. There is quite a little colony selves. Everything looks as if it were homemade or homegrown." at the back, and the woman who super intends the dairy lives there. In the house we are entirely independent of your sex. We manage, somehow or other, with Jennings here and two "You are not both woman-haters, I Her younger host flashed a warning come to a man of our family from the friendship or service of women. Our family history, if ever you should come to know it, would amply justify my | brother and myself for our attitude to ward your sex." i "Stephen !" John remonstrated, a slight frown upon his face. "Need you weary our guest with your peculiar views? It is scarcely polite, to say the ] least of it." hope?" ; glance at Louise, but it was too late, boys." Stephen had laid down his knife .and fork and was leaning in her direction, "Madam," he intervened, "since you have asked the question, I will confess that I have never known any good The older man sat, for a moment, J "Perhaps you are right, brother," he admitted. 'This lady did not seek our company, but it may interest her to know that she is the first woman who has crossed the threshold of Peak Hall for a matter of six years." Louise looked from one to the other, half incredulously. sured her; "but please remember that you are none the less heartily welcome here. We have few women neighbors, : grim and silent. "Do you really mean it? Is that lit erally true?" she asked John. "Absolutely," the young man as and intercourse with them seems to have slipped out of our lives. Tell me, ; how far have you come today, and | where did you hope to sleep tonight?" ! Louise hesitated for a moment. For some reason or other, the question seemed to bring with It some disturb ing thought. "I was motoring from Edinburgh. As regards tonight, I had not made up my mind. 1 rather hoped to reach i Kendal. My journey is not at ail an in j teresting matter to talk about," she went on. "Tell me about your life here. It sounds most delightfully pas toral. Do you live here all the year round?" "My brother," John told her, "has not been farther away than the near est market town for nearly twenty j by years." ; Her eyes grew round with astonish the j ; ment. "But you go to London sometimes?" j "I was there eight years ago. Since j asked, sons pass before we know it." then I have not been further away than Carlisle or Kendal. I go into camp near Kendal for three weeks every i year—territorial training, you know." j "But how do you pass your time? What do you do with yourself?" she | "Farm," he answered. "Farming Is our daily occupation. Then for amuse- us ment we hunt, shoot and fish. The sea is She looked appraisingly at John in Strangewey. Notwithstanding his sun tanned cheeks and the splendid vigor of his form, there was nothing in the least agricultural about his manner or his appearance. There was humor as well as intelligence in his clear, gray ; eyes. She opined that the books which I lined one side of the room were at once his property and his hobby. "It Is a very healthy life, no doubt," I she said ; I comprehensible to think of a man like j yourself living always in such an out but somehow it seems in j of-the-way corner." John's lips were open to reply, but Stephen once more intervened. " "Life means a different thing to each of us. madam," he said sternly. "There are many born with the lust for cities and the crowded places in their hearts, j born with the desire to mingle with j their fellows, to absorb the convention- ' al vices and virtues, to become one of the multitude. It has been different with us Strangewey». Jennings, at a sign from his master, ' removed the tea equipage, evidently produced in honor of their visitor. Louise had fallen for a moment or j two into a fit of abstraction. Her eyes w j were fixed upon the opposite waU, . j from which, out of their faded frames, j a row of grim-looking men and women, ; startlingly like her two hosts, seemed ! to frown down upon her. | "Is that your father?" she asked. j moving her head toward one of the ; portraits. Stephen told her. Three tall-stemmed glasses were placed upon the table, and a decanter of port reverently produced, "My grandfather, John Strangewey," during his life. He was master of j I hounds, magistrate, colonel in the yeo- j manry of that period, and three times "Was he one of the wanderers?" "He left Cumberland only twice ' ! refused to stand for parliament." j "John Strangewey !" Louise repeat 1 ed softly to herself. "I was looking at ; your family tree upstairs," she went ! on. "It is curious how both my maid j and myself were struck with a sense of familiarity about the name, as if we had heard or read something about ! it quite lately." : Her words were almost carelessly spoken, but she was conscious of the somewhat ominous silence which en sued. She glanced up wonderingly and intercepted a rapid look passing between the two men. More puzzled I than ever, she turned toward John as if for an explanation. He had risen somewhat abruptly to his feet, and his afraid, is quite impossible." begged, "and I hope that both of you will smoke. I am quite used to it." John wheeled up an easy chair for her. Stephen, stiff and upright, sat on a the other side of the hearth. He took the tobacco jar and pipe that his broth er had brought him, and slowly filled the bowl, hand was upon the back of her chair, j "Will it be disagreeable to you if my brother smokes a pipe?" he asked. "I tried to have our little drawing room j prepared for you. but the fire has not j been lit for so long that the room, I am : "Do let me stay here with you." she j "With your permission, then, ma dam," he said, as he struck a match. Louise smiled graciously. Some in sünct prompted her to stifle her own craving for a cigarette and keep her to little gold case hidden in her pocket. All the time her eyes were wandering j round the room. Suddenly she rose and> moving round the tabte. stood on °c more facing the row of gloomy looking portraits. painted." "So that Is your grandfather?" she remarked-to John, wuo had followed "Is your father not here?" He shook his head. her. "My father's portrait was never 'Tell the truth. John." Stephen en joined, rising in his place and setting down ins pipe. "We Strangeweys were hillfolk and farmers, by descent aud destiny, for more than four hun dred years. Our place is here upon the land, almost among the clouds, and those of us who have realized it have led the lives God meant us to lead, to There have been some of our race who have been tempted into the lowlands and the cities. Not one of them brought honor upon our name. Their pictures are not here. They are not worthy to be here." her hands clasped behind her back, glanced toward John, who still stood by her side, none of your people who went out Into the world done well for themselves?" Stephen set down the candlesticks and returned to his place. Louise, with "Tell me," she asked him, "have "Scarcely one." he admitted. "Not one," Stephen interrupted, "Madam," he went on. turning toward Louise, "lest my welcome to you this evening should have seemed inhospita ble, let me tell you this : Every Strangewey who has left our county. and trodden the downward path of failure, has done so at the Instance of one of your sex. That? is why those of us who inherit the family spirit look askance upon all strange women. That is why no woman is ever welcome with in this house." chair, looking down at her slipper. "I could not help breaking down here, could I?" "Nor could my brother fail to offer you the hospitality of this roof," Ste phen admitted. "The incident was un fortunate but inevitable. It is a mat Louise resumed her seat in the easy "t am so sorry," she murmured. ter for regret that we have so little to He rose to his feet. The door hqd opened. Jennings was standing there with a candlestick upon a massive sil Behind him was Aline. offer you in the way of entertainment." ver salver, " You are doubtless fatigued by your journey, madam," Stephen concluded. Louise made a little grimace, but she rose at once to her feet. She under stood quite well that she was being sent to bed, and she shivered a little when she looked at the hour barely ten o'clock. Yet it was all in keeping. from the doorway she looked back in to the room, in which nothing seemed to have been touched for centuries. she stood upon the threshold to bid her final gbod-night, fully conscious of the complete anachronism of her presence there. Her smile for Stephen was respectful and of dignity. As she glanced to w ard John, however. something fiashed ln h * r ey ® s and duivered at the corners of her lips, something "mon escap€ ? 1 . he o control, something which " ad ® , sr p . a moment the back of the cila r asainst w, neh he stood, — y \ ; * .?P - m - v m 7 / If )/ rfV i\ \ v if [ behind, she crossed the white stone hall and stepped slowly up the broad flight of stairs, j ' ù rr4 ..-Those of Us Who Inherit the Family Spirit Look Askance Upon Ail j Strange Women." j Then, between the old manservant, : who insisted upon carrying her candle to her room, and her maid, who walked Louise has quite an interesting little chat with John before she resumes her journey, and In his mind is awakened something that hasn't been stirred for a very long time. j Her Memory Faulty. was middle-aged, stylishly gowned and apparently sane. And she I TO BE CONTINUED.) was looking at the paintings in the Corcoran Gallery of Art through a gold-framed lorgnette, that dangled from a jeweted gold chain. Another woman was standing before a canvas, and, in a desire for informa ti on. or. perhaps, for the sake of social interchange, the lady of the lorgnette inquired, affably : that a picture of the death of the Lord?" "No. madam ; it represents the mar tyrdom of St. Sebastian." "Ah, I see. I have the poorest tn< 'li ory. I knew that they killed the Lord, of course, but I disretiKuJH'ied just how."—Washington »tar.