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-E.PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM SS;&K53J?S2!5r
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CHAPTER XV Continued.
It's wonderful l" Sophy declared.
"Try and bear the thread of it all In
your mind. For two acts you have
been asked to focus your attention
upon the Increasing brutality of the
marquis. Remember that, won't you?"
"Not likely to forget it," John re
plied. "How well they all act!"
There was a quarter of an hour's
interval before the curtain rose again.
Humors concerning the last act had
been floating about for weeks, and the
house 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 Paris
without any warning. Ills wife showed
signs of dismay at his coming. lie
had 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
f 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 mnrquis sinks upon
a settee, and presently is joined by
one of the ladies who have traveled
trith him from Paris. lie talks to her
f the pictures upon the wall. She is
Impatient to meet the Marquise de
--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.
Ills 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
"You asked me what I could do,"
she says, pointing to her lover. 'Ton
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 box, 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 nameless horror. The bril
liance of the language, the subtlety of
the situation, seemed like some evil
trail drawn across that one horrible
elimax. It was Louise who had come
from that room and pointed to Fara
He reached his rooms he scarcely
knew how and walked upstairs. There
lie threw off some of his dripping gar
ments, opened the window wide, and
He looked out over the Thames, and
there was a red flare before his eyes.
Stephen was right, he told himself.
There was nothing but evil to be found
here, nothing but bitter disappoint
ment, nothing but the pain which deep
ens into nnguish. Better to remain
like Stephe.s, unloving and unloved, to
draw nearer to the mountains, to find
joy in the crops and the rain and the
sunshine, to Hston 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
he 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 hprself 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
Sophy Mho was crossing toward him,
the rain streaming from her ruined
"John!" she cried. "Oh, John!"
She led him back to his chuir and
knelt by his side. She held his hands
"You mustn't feel like this," she
outed; "you mustn't, John, renllv
You don't understand. It's all a j.l
Louise wouldn't really do anything lik
He shivered. Nevertheless, he
clutched her hands and drew her closer
"Do, please, listen to me," she
begged. "It's all over. Louise is her
self again Louise Maurcl. The Mar
quise de Guy never lived except upon
those boards. It is simply a wonderful
creation. Any one of The great ac
tresses would play that part and glory
IA It the very greatest, John. Oh, It's
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 aDd tell her
that you think it was wonderful 1"
He rose slowly to his feet and caught
at her hands roughly.
"Supposing I won't go?" he whis
pered hoarsely. "Supposing I keep
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
less worthy of you and your love."
He strode away into the farther
room, ne reappeared in a moment or
two, his hair smoothly brushed, his tie
"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
"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!"
The days and weeks drifted Into
months, and John remained in London.
His 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 hlra 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. "J 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
"It's fine of you," John declared. "I
remember nothing of that day. We will
"It's Louise You Want Not Me."
look at things squarely together, even
where we differ. I'm "
JUT yJiL iu me uiiuuic ui mo ocu-
he door had been suddenly
) and Sophy uerara maue a
jfiat impetuous entrance,
Vrfj absolutely sick of ringing,
John," she exclaimed. "Oh, I beg your
pardon! I hadn't the least idea you
had anyone with you."
She stood still in surprise, a little
apologetic smile upon her lips. John
hastened forward and welcomed her.
"It's all riht, Sophy," he declared.
"Let me introduce my brother, may!?
My brother Stephen Miss Sophy
Stephen rose slowly from his place,
laid down his pipe, nnd bowed stiffly to
Sophy. She held out her hand, how
ever, and smiled up at him delightfully.
"How nice of you to come and see
your poor, lonely brother !" she said.
"We have done our best to spoil him,
but, I'm afraid he is very homesick
sometimes. I hope you've come to stay
a long time and to learn all about Lon
don, as John is doing. If you are half
as niceas he is, we'll give you such a
good time 1"
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.
"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
bagged. "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, r musn't
take you away from him."
"We'll all have dinner together,"
John suggested. "You'll come, of
Stephen shook his head.
"Thank you," he said, "I am due at
my hotel. Tm going back to Cumber
land tomorrow morning, and my errand
is already done."
"You will do nothing of the sort!"
"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 me all about Cum
berland, where this brother of yours
lives. He doesn't tell us half enough 1"
John passed his arm through his
brother's and led him away.
"Come and have a wash, old chap,"
They dined together at Lulgi'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,
nnd the women like dolls.
"For the last time, Stephen," John
said, "won't you come to a music hall
"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 taxlcab, "we shall spend
the remainder of the evening in the
"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
"It's a bargain," John promised.
"We'll drive Louise home, and then I'll
take you back to Luigl's. We haven't
been out together for some time, have
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 an
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 and disapproving
spirit sitting in judgment upon some
1 modern nnd unworthy wuntonness. His
face, stern and grave, showed little
sign of approval or disapproval, but to
John's apprehending eyes the critical
sense was 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
er 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. r
"We had better hurry round," she
said. "Louise Is always very quick get
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
'My Preference Is to Remain Stand
ing." French people from Ills 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.
"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
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 tor 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
"No !" he decided, almost roughly. "I
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 Hps.
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
"What a selfish pig I am!" he ex
claimed. "Anyhow, It's all over now.
We'll go back to Luigl's to supper, by
all means. I am going to make you
tell me all about that young man from
Louise glanced at her watch, sat up
In bed, and turned reproachfully
"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
you 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
"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's
Louise clasped her knees with her
fingers and sat thinking. She was wide
"He has been here some time al
ready, madame." Aline continued. "I
did not wish to disturb you, but
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 once."
Louise dressed herself simply but
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
had she to fear? She went over the In
terview in her mind, imagining him
crushed and subdued by her superior
subtlety and finesse.
With a little smile of coming triumph
upon her Hps TBhe descended the stairs
and swept Into her pleasantly warmed
and perfumed little drawing-room. She
even held out her hand cordially to the
dark, grim figure whose outline against
the dainty white wall seemed so inap
"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 hi? out
"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
make yourself comfortable while we
talk. See, this is my favorite place,"
she added, dropping Into a corner of
her lounge. "Will you sit beside rue?
Or, If you prefer, draw up that chair."
"My preference," he replied, "is to
She raised her eyebrows. Her tone
"It must be as you wish, of course,"
she continued ; "only I have such pleas
ant recollections of your hospitality at
Peak Hall that I should like, if there
was any possible way in which I could
"Madam," he Interrupted, "you must
admit that the hospitality of Peak nail
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.
"You want to know why I have found
my way to London?" he went on. "I
came to find out a little more about
"To discover if there was anything
about you," he proceeded deliberately.
concerning which report had lied. I
do not place my faith in newspapers
nnd 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 plaf
She was speechless. It was as if he
were speaking to her in some foreign
"I have struggled," he continued, "lo
adopt a charitable view of your pn
fession. I know that the world change $
quickly, while we, who prefer to tk
main outside Its orbit, of necessity los
touch with its new ideas and nev
fashions. So I said to myself tha
there should be no mistake. For thai
reason I sat in a theater last night a)
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, "x wish to save
"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 ne saved rrom me 7 lr 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
"You make my task more difficult.
he observed deliberately. "Does it
amuse you to practice your profession
before one so ignorant and so unappre
ciatlve as myself? If my brother
should ever marry, it is my firm inten
tion that he shall marry an honest
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 you waste your breath?" he
asked calmly. "We are alone here,
you and I we know the truth 1"
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 beUeve 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?"
"That seems impossible to your sh
"Utterly impossible 1"
"And to John?"
T am speaking for myself and not
for my brother,"' Stephen replied. "Men
like him, who are assailed by a certain
madness, are best left alone with It.
That is why I canie to you to bargain,
if I could. Is there anything that you
lack anything which your cwn suc
cess and your lover, or lovers, have
failed to provide for you?" "
It was useless to try to rise; she
was powerless in all her limbs. Side
by side with the anger and horror that
his words aroused was a sense of some
thing almost grotesque, something
which seemed to force an unnatural
laugh from her Hpt.
"So you want to buy me off?"
"I should be clad 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 be. said."
"Not that," he told her; "only It la
better for you to understand that If
you turn me from your house this
morning, I shall still feel the necessity
of saving ray brother from you."
"Saving him from me?" she ex
claimed, rising suddenly and throwing
out her arms. "Do you know what
you are talking about? Do you know
that if I consented to think of your
brother as my husband, there is not a
man in London who would not envy
him? Look at me! I am beautiful, am
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 done
in life to render him worthy of the
sacrifice I should make if I chose to
give him my hand? You had better
go back to Cumberland, Mr. Strange
wey. You do not see life as we see It
"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 1"
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 he
"Take him with you!" she broke In
fiercely. "He will do as I bid him do
you hear? If I lift my little finger, bo
will stay. It will be I who decide,
"But you will not lift your little fin
ger," he interrupted grimly.
"Why shouldn't I, Just to punish'
you?" she demanded. "There are
scores of men who fancy themselves In
love with me. If I choose, I can keep
them all their lives hanging to the
hem of my skirt, praying for a word, a
touch. I can make them furious oue
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
"Because," he declared, "I am the
guardian of my brother's happiness.
Whoever trifles with it shall In the fu
ture reckon with me!"
Ills eyes were fixed upon her soft,
white throat. His long, lean fingers
seemed suddenly to be drawing near
to her. She watched him, fascinated.
She was trying to scream. Even after
"Take Him With You!" She Broke in
he had turned away and left her, after,
she had heard his measured tramp de
scending the stairs, her fingers flew fe
her throat. She held herself tightly,
standing there with beating heart and
throbbing pulses. It was not until the
front door had closed that she haVi
the strength to move, to throw herselfi
face downward upon the couch.
Louise ate a very small luncheon,!
but an unusual thing for her efcej
drank two glasses of wine. Just aa
3Ka Vint) flnl aTho Cnnh tt ra ma In m!4) -
ink-stained fingers and a serious ex
(TO BE CONTINUED.)