He nodded ruefully

Floyd-Rosney had expected that the restoration of the child to the
mother would effect an immediate reconciliation with his wife.
Therefore, he attained a serenity, a renewal of self-confidence which he
had not enjoyed since the humiliating _contretemps_ at Union Station. In
the dismissal of his bill for divorce–the _retraxit_ craftily worded
and expressing with a dignity that might have seemed impossible under
the circumstances his contrition for the hasty and offensive assumptions
of his mistake, a sweeping recantation of all his charges and a complete
endorsement of his wife’s actions in every relation of life,–he
considered he had offered her an ample apology for his conduct and had
held out a very alluring olive branch. He had a relish, too, of the
surprise he had planned, partly to avoid a more personal method to court
her forgiveness, in sending the child in charge of her favorite servant,
old Aunt Dorothy, to alight unheralded from the train at Ingleside. He
imagined her delight and gratitude and awaited, in smiling anticipation,
altogether devoid of anxiety, her ebullient letter, brimming with thanks
and endearments, and taking the blame, as she was wont to do in their
differences, in that she had so misunderstood him and precipitated this
series of perverse happenings that had exposed him to such cruel public

But this letter did not come.

He began to frown when the mail was brought in, and to sort the missives
with a hasty touch for something that he did not find. The servants,
always on the alert to observe, and agog about the successive phases of
the scandal which they had witnessed at such close quarters, collogued
over the fact that he laid the rest of the mail aside unopened for
hours, while he sat with a clouded brow and a reflective, unnoting eye
in glum silence, unsolaced even by a cigar. It was not good to speak to
him at these crises, and the house was as still as a tomb.

Floyd-Rosney’s ascendency in life had been so great, so fostered by his
many worldly advantages, that he could make no compact with denial,
defeat. He had not yet reached the point where he could write to his
wife and beg her forgiveness, or even reproach her with her agency in
the disasters that had whelmed their domestic life in this unseemly
publicity. He developed an ingenuity in devising reasons for her
silence. She was too proud; he had let her have her head too long. She
would not write–she would not verbally admit that she condoned his
odious charges, which he often declared he had a right to make, if he
were to believe the testimony of his eyes, witnessing her flight with
her old lover, Randal Ducie, as he was convinced, boarding the train
together. She would simply return unheralded, unexplained,–and that was
best! He had himself inaugurated this method in restoring the child
without a word. It was a subject that could not be discussed between
them, with all its sensitive nerves, with its open wounds quivering with
anguished tremors. No! She would come to her home, her hearthstone, her
husband, as she had every right to do, even paying all tribute to her
pride, to her sense of insulted delicacy. He saw to it that the papers
containing the text of his full retraction and explanation of the
circumstances were mailed to her, and then adjusted himself anew to
waiting and anticipation.

He had been spared in the details of his life all the torments of
suspense which harass men less fortunately placed. It may be doubted if
ever before he had had cause to anticipate and await an event, and hope,
and be deferred and denied. He could scarcely brook the delay. He began
to fear that he should be obliged to write and summon her home. Once he
even thought of going in person to escort her back, and but that he
shrank from meeting her eye, all unprepared as she would be, he would
have followed little Ned to Ingleside. Something might be said on the
impulse of the moment to widen the breach. He could not depend upon
her–he could not depend upon himself. She knew the state of his mind,
he argued. Those papers, most astutely, more delicately than any words
of his might compass, had depicted his whole mental status. Doubtless,
after a seemly diplomatic interval she would return. The sooner the
better, he felt in eager impatience. He had hardly known how dearly he
loved her, he declared to himself, interpreting his restiveness under
the suffocations of suspense and anxiety as symptoms of his revived
affection. He became so sure of this happy solution of the whole cruel
imbroglio that he acted upon it as if he had credible assurance of the
fact. He caused certain minor changes, which she had desired, to be made
in the house–changes to which he had no objection, but he had never
taken thought to gratify her preference. He ordered the suite of rooms
that she had occupied to be thoroughly overhauled in such a fever of
haste that the domestic force expected to see the lady of the mansion
installed in her realm before a readjustment was possible. At last
everything was complete and exquisite, and Floyd-Rosney, patrolling the
apartments with a keen and critical eye, could find no fault to
challenge his minute and censorious observation. A new lady’s maid was
engaged, of more skill and pretensions than the functionary he had
driven from his service, and had already entered upon her duties in the
rearrangement of her mistress’s wardrobe, and the chauffeur took heedful
thought of the railroad timetables, that he might not be out of the way
when the limousine should be ordered to meet Mrs. Floyd-Rosney at Union

Under these circumstances the filing of Mrs. Floyd-Rosney’s bill for
divorce and alimony fell like a bombshell upon the defenseless head of
her husband. It was a genuine and fierce demonstration, evidently
calculated to take advantage of every point that might contribute to the
eventuation of a decree. The allegations of cruelty and tyranny, of
which there were many instances that Floyd-Rosney, in his marital
autocracy had long ago forgotten, including the crafty blow which he had
given her under the cloak of the child in her arms, were supplemented
and illustrated by the secret removal of her child from her care, and
the determination to ship her out of the country against her will. Thus
she had been constrained in defense of her personal liberty to flee to
the home of her uncle, her nearest relative, although she was obliged to
borrow the money for the railroad fare from a mere stranger whom she had
met only once before. Notwithstanding the fact that her husband was
several times a millionaire, he permitted her no command of money, her
fine clothes and jewels and equipages being accorded merely to decorate
the appurtenances of his wealth and ostentation. She recounted the
indignity she had causelessly suffered in the allegations of his bill
for divorce, all baseless and unproved as was evidenced by their
complete retraction under oath in the precipitate dismissal of the bill.
Her petition concluded by praying for an absolute divorce with alimony
and the custody of the child.

This document was not filed without many misgivings on the part of Major
Majoribanks and of horrified protest from his wife. Ingleside was remote
from modern progress and improvements, and such advantages as might
accrue from successfully prosecuting a suit for divorce won but scant
consideration there. The worthy couple were firm in their own conviction
that marriage should not be considered a temporary connection. It was,
to their minds, a lifelong and holy joining together, and should not be
put asunder. Mrs. Majoribanks made some remarks so very old-fashioned as
almost to excite Paula’s laughter, despite the seriousness of the
subject. It was a wife’s duty to put up with her husband’s foibles, to
overlook little unkindnesses; the two should learn to bear and forbear
in their mutual imperfections. Had she ever remonstrated gently, with
wifely lovingness, with Mr. Floyd-Rosney’s harshness?

“I didn’t dare,” said Paula. And the mere phrase was an instance in

A woman’s craft in reading hearts is a subtle endowment. Mrs.
Majoribanks had not kept step with the onward march of the world, but
she struck a note that vibrated more in accord with Paula’s temperament
when she said:

“It is often a hardship in point of worldly estimation to be a divorced

She looked cautiously at Paula over her spectacles, for in the old days
no one had been more a respecter of the opinions of smart people than
her husband’s niece.

“Oh, that isn’t the case any more,” said Paula lightly, with a little
fleering laugh, “it is quite fashionable now to have a divorce decree.”

“You may depend upon it,” Mrs. Majoribanks said in private to her
husband, “Paula is reckoning on winning back Randal Ducie! And, to my
mind, that is the worst feature of the whole horrible affair.”

Major Majoribanks did not altogether concur in his wife’s views of the
possible efficacy of gentle suasion on Mr. Floyd-Rosney’s
irascibilities. Perhaps he knew more of the indurated heart of that type
of man. The Major had been greatly impressed by the attempt upon his
niece’s personal liberty, as he interpreted the insistence on the
Oriental tour and, although he welcomed little Ned with an enthusiasm
that might have befitted a grandfather, he was apprehensive concerning
the child’s return as an overture of reconciliation. He felt his
responsibility in the situation very acutely. He did not favor the plan
of seeking merely a legal separation and maintenance, which his wife
advocated, because it was not conclusive; it would be regarded by
Floyd-Rosney as temporary and would render Paula liable to pressure to
recur to their previous status. He did not consider his niece safe with
her arrogant and arbitrary husband, as the attempt to enforce a tour
alone with casual acquaintances to the Orient amply proved. The extreme
measure of secretly removing the child from her companionship and care
as means of subjugation might be repeated when circumstances of public
opinion did not coerce his restoration. Mrs. Majoribanks had not a more
squeamish distaste for divorce than her husband, nor did she entertain a
deeper reverence for the sacredness of the bonds of matrimony. But he
reflected with a sigh of relief that it was not his duty to seek to
impose his own views on his niece. Paula was permitted by law to judge
and act for herself, and she had had much experience which had aided in
determining her course. He could not bring himself to urge her to
condone the insupportable allegations in the bill of divorce which
Floyd-Rosney had filed and allowed to be made public, and to trust
herself and the child once more in his clutches. She had now the wind of
public favor in her sails. Her husband had committed himself so openly
and so irretrievably that it was probable that the custody of the child
would be awarded to her in view of his tender years. Later, when time
should have somewhat repaired the tatters of Floyd-Rosney’s status in
the estimation of the world, when the inevitable influence and
importance of so rich a man should begin to make themselves felt anew,
it might be more difficult for her to contend against him. If ever she
could hope to free herself from him and his tyrannies, and his
unimaginable machinations in the future, now was the opportunity and
this the cause of complaint. He might not again give her so palpable and
undeniable an occasion of insupportable affront. Major Majoribanks, even
in the seclusion of Ingleside, took note of the penniless estate of the
wife of the millionaire as she fled from her richly appointed home, and
gave due weight to the fact that the decree would assure her future
comfort by requiring alimony in proportion to the husband’s means. There
was no obligation on him to deprive her of her due maintenance and
protection by the urgency of his advice, although his wife goaded him
with her strict interpretations of his duty, and his brow clouded
whenever she mentioned her belief of the influence of the expectation of
winning back Randal Ducie upon Paula’s determination.

Paula had thus the half-hearted support of her relatives in her
proceedings, and she was grateful even for this, saying to herself that
with their limitations she could hardly have expected more. She was
eager and hopeful, and, to Mrs. Majoribanks’s displeasure, not more
sensitive to the mention of the proceedings than if they had involved a
transaction concerning cotton or corn. The three Majoribanks boys were
excited on the possibility of an attempt to kidnap little Edward, since
the filing of the bill, and they kept him, in alternation, under close
and strict surveillance night and day.

“It would be impossible to spirit him away from Ingleside,” they
bluffly contended, and to their mother’s great though unexpressed
displeasure their father did not rebuke their bluster.

“We all talk of getting the decree,” she said in connubial privacy, “as
if it were a diploma.”

He nodded ruefully. But he was the more progressive of the two.

And in this feeble and sorry wise the influence of modern civilization
began to impinge on the primitive convictions and traditions of

Adrian Ducie was affronted beyond measure by the unseemly notoriety
given to his part in the Floyd-Rosney incident, in the subsequent
publications emanating from various sources. The serious menace,
however, that the circumstances held for Randal moderated for a time his
indignation. He thought it not improbable that Floyd-Rosney would shoot
Randal Ducie on sight, and he greatly deprecated the fact that his
brother was chronicled by the New Orleans papers as having quitted that
city, on his way to Memphis, returning by boat.

“Why didn’t the fellow stay where he was until matters should have
developed more acceptably?” Adrian fumed in mingled disgust and
apprehension. His anxiety was somewhat assuaged in the meantime when
Colonel Kenwynton’s letter appeared, and more especially when
Floyd-Rosney withdrew his petition for divorce–a definite confession of
his clumsy mistake. Still in Adrian’s opinion latent fires slumbered
under the volcanic crust, as this sudden eruption had proved. This city
was no place for the bone of contention between husband and wife. The
season for the preparations for cotton planting was already well
advanced. Assuredly it was seemly and desirable for Randal to repair to
his plantation and supervise the operations of his manager and his
laborers. Adrian found his own stay in the city harassing to his
exacerbated nerves. The questioning stare of men whom he passed on the
streets, who looked as if they expected salutation, in default of which
surmised that this was the twin brother, hero of the Floyd-Rosney
_esclandre_, annoyed him by its constant repetition, and gave his face a
repellant reserve which the countenance of the gentle and genial Randal
had never known. A dozen times he was more intimately assailed, “Hey,
Ran, old man, how goes it?” with perhaps a quizzical leer, or an eager
hopefulness that some discussion of the reigning sensation of the day
might not be too intrusive. When the stranger was enlightened, not
abruptly, however, for Adrian was cautious to refrain from alienating
Randal’s friends, the comments on the wonderful likeness implied an
accession of interest in the significant incident in Union Station, and,
doubtless, many a surmise as to what had betided heretofore to arouse
the lion in the husband’s breast. Obviously, both the brothers for every
reason should be removed from the public eye till the story was stale;
but, although Adrian felt this keenly, he himself could not get away in
view of the interests of his firm in an important silk deal with a large
concern desiring to treat directly with the representative of the

He had never cared so little to see his brother as one day when the door
of his bedroom in the hotel unceremoniously opened and Randal entered.
He had deprecated the effect of all this publicity on the most sensitive
emotions of that high-strung and spirited nature. He was proud, too, and
winced from the realization that all the world should be canvassing the
fact of Randal’s rejection by Mrs. Floyd-Rosney in her girlhood days.
She had treated him cruelly, and had dashed her plighted troth, his
love, his happiness to the ground with not a moment’s compunction, for a
marriage of splendor and wealth–“and,” said Adrian grimly to himself,
“for it she has got all that was coming to her.”

He felt for Randal. His heart burned within him.

“Why, who is this that I see here?” cried Randal gaily, as he entered.
“Not myself in a mirror surely, for I never looked half so glum in all
my life.”

There was a hearty handclasp, and a sort of facetious fraternal hug,
after the fashion of men who humorously disguise a deeper emotion, and
they were presently seated in great amity before the glowing fire.

“This is imported Oriental tobacco,” said Adrian, handing his brother a

“Imported from where–the corner drugstore?” demanded Randal, laughing,
his face illumined by the flicker of the lighted match.

“Genuine Ladikieh,” protested Adrian.

“It’s like carrying coals to Newcastle to pay duty on tobacco in

“I didn’t say I paid any duty, did I?”

“Oh, you haven’t the grit to smuggle anything through, and if you had
you would have brought enough to generously divvy up with me.”

He sent off a fragrant puff, stretched out luxuriously in his armchair,
and turned his clear eyes upon his brother.

There was a momentary silence.

“I read the report of your address in the papers. It was very able and

“I’d care more for your compliments if you understood the subject,”
declared Randal cavalierly. Then, roguishly, “Is that _all_ you have
read about me in the papers lately?”

Adrian stared, dumfounded. And he had so wincingly deprecated the effect
of this limelight of publicity upon the shrinking heart of the rejected

“I think it very hard you should be subjected to this,” he began

“Who–I? Why,–I was never so pleased in my life!”

“Why–what do you mean, Randal? It is a very serious matter; it might
have had a life-and-death significance.”

“Serious enough for Floyd-Rosney,” Randal laughed bluffly. “Did ever a
fellow so befool himself, and call all the world to witness! Of course,
I deprecate the publicity for the lady, but everybody understands the
situation. It does not injure her position in the least. That is the
kind of husband she wanted–and she has got him.”

Adrian silently smoked a few moments.

“I never was so affronted in my life,” he said.

Once more Randal laughed. “I was simply enchanted,” he declared.

“Honestly, Randal, I don’t understand you,” said Adrian, holding his
cigar delicately in his fingers.

“Oh, I am very simple, quite transparent, in fact.”

Adrian shook his head, restoring his cigar to his lips. “Don’t make you
out, old man.”

“Because you have never been told by a lady to take foot in hand, and
toddle! Discarded–rejected–despised! Therefore”–with a strong
puff–“you can’t know what a keen joy it is to realize that you are
still important enough to be the cause of domestic discord between
husband and wife, when you haven’t seen the lady but once in five years,
and then in his presence, besides, being five hundred miles away, meekly
babbling about levee protection.”

Adrian stared. “And you like that?”

“Like it? It goes to the cockles of my heart.”

“Randal, I should never have thought it of you,” said Adrian rebukingly.

“Because, kid, I am older than you and know many things that you haven’t
learned. I got a little bit the start of you in life and I have kept
ahead of you ever since,” Randal declared whimsically.

“I can’t comprehend how you like to be mixed up in that miserable

“Why, it flatters me to death. She couldn’t put me out of her heart,
although she could and did lacerate terribly my heart. Floyd-Rosney is
jealous of my very existence. But for that he would have inferred no
more from seeing me, as he thought, assisting her to board the train
than any incidental acquaintance tendering that courtesy. He is not
disturbed that _you_ boarded the train with her.”

“You are jealous of Floyd-Rosney,” said Adrian abruptly.

Randal thrust his cigar between his lips and spoke indistinctly with
this obstruction. “Not I,” he laughed. “Not under these circumstances.”

Adrian was frowning anxiously. The two faces, so alike in feature, were
curiously dissimilar at the moment, the one so genially confiding, the
expression of the other, alert, expectant, with a grave prophetic

“Look here, Randal,” Adrian said seriously, “you perturb me very much.
You speak actually as if you are still–still sentimentally interested
in this woman–another man’s wife–because you discover—-”

“That both she and her husband are sentimentally interested in me; ha!
ha! ha!” Randal interrupted.

“I could never imagine such a thing,–it perturbs me,” Adrian persisted

“It perturbs me, too,” declared Randal quizzically, “to have you gadding
about in my likeness, escorting other men’s wives,–the gay Lothario
that you are!–and getting _me_ into the papers, the public prints. Oh,
fie, fie.”

“And she _is_ another man’s wife,” remonstrated Adrian.

“She won’t be long if she has a spark of spirit left,” declared Randal
boldly. “She will bring suit for divorce herself.”

“But I doubt if she can get it,” said Adrian in dismay.

The difference of mood made itself manifest in the tones of their
voices–Adrian’s crisp, imperative, even tinctured with sternness,
Randal’s careless, musical, drawling.

“Oh, she can get it fast enough. I should think from what I observed of
his manner to her she could prove enough instances of cruelty and
tyranny to melt almost any trial judge.”

Adrian reflected silently upon the episodes on the _Cherokee Rose_, but
kept his own counsel, while the smoke curled softly above the duplicate

“When I saw them together,” observed Randal, “he impressed me as being a
veritable despot, and in a queer way, too. I can’t understand his
satisfaction in it. He arrogated the largest liberty to criticize her
views and actions, as if his dictum were the fiat of last resort. I tell
you now, kid, criticism and cavil in themselves are incompatible with
love. No man can depreciate and adore at the same time the same object.
When he thinks the feet of his idol are of clay the whole structure
might as well come down at once. He seemed to have a certain perversity,
and this is a connubial foible I have seen in better men, too; a
tendency to contradict her in small, immaterial matters for the sheer
pleasure of contrariety, I suppose,–to oppose her, to balk her, merely
because he could with impunity. I imagine he has enjoyed a long lease of
this impunity because his perversity has attained such unusual
proportions, and her plunges of opposition had the style of sudden
revolt rather than the practiced habit of contention. She has lived a
life of repression and submission with him. Her identity is pretty much
annihilated. The Paula of her earlier days is nearly all disappeared.”

For a few moments Adrian said nothing in response to this keen analysis
of character, which corresponded so well to his longer opportunity of
observation, but sat silently eyeing the fire in serious thought.

Suddenly he broke out with impassioned eagerness.

“Randal, you are my own twin brother—-”

“I am obliged to admit it,” interpolated Randal flippantly.

“–my other self. The tie that binds us seems to me closer than with
other brothers. We came into the world together; we have lived hand in
hand almost all our lives; we even look alike.”

“And make a precious good job of it too,” declared Randal gaily.

“We feel alike; we believe alike; we have been educated in the same
traditions; we respect the sanctities of the old fireside teachings; we
have not strayed after strange gods.”

Randal had taken his cigar from his lips and in his half recumbent
position was gazing keenly at his brother.

“What are you coming to, kid?”

“Just this–you are not looking forward to this divorce in the hope–the
expectation of marrying this woman? Are you? Tell me.”

Randal’s eyes flashed. “What do you take me for?” he said angrily
between his set teeth. “She could never again be anything to me,–not
even if Floyd-Rosney were at the bottom of the Mississippi River.”

“Oh, how this relieves my mind,” cried Adrian.

“You may set it at rest,–for I could never again love that woman.”

“I know that I have no right to interfere or even to question–but you
always appreciate my motives, Randal. You are the best fellow in the

“I always thought so,” said Randal, smoking hard.

“I believe she will expect it,” suggested Adrian, still with some

“She will be grievously disappointed, then,–and turn about is fair

“I want you to guard against any soft surprise,” said Adrian. “She
seemed so sure of you. She said you were the only friend she had in the
world. She came to the Adelantado Hotel to find you–that you should
lend her ten dollars for the railroad fare to Ingleside!”

“The liberal Floyd-Rosney!”

“I want you to look out for her. She is a designing woman. She is
heartily tired of her bargain, and with reason, and she wants to pick up
the happiness she threw away five years ago—-”

“With me and poverty.”

“She has enjoyed an artful combination of real poverty and fictitious
splendor. I want you to be frank with me, Randal, and confide in me,

“Take that paw off my arm.”

“–and,” continued Adrian, removing his hand, “not make an outsider of
your own, only twin brother.”

“Heaven protect me from two twin brothers like unto this fellow,”
laughed Randal. “Make yourself easy, Adrian; when I am finally led to
the altar I shall countenance an innovation in the marriage
ceremony–the groom shall be given away by his own only twin brother.”

“She broached the matter herself when she had an opportunity to speak
aside to me on the _Cherokee Rose_,” said Adrian, his reminiscent eyes
on the fire.

“What? Divorce and remarriage?”

“Oh, no–no. The course she had pursued with you.”

Randal’s eyes glowed with sudden fire; his face flushed deeply red.

“That was very unhandsome of her,” he said curtly, “and by your leave it
was very derogatory to both you and me for you to consent to discuss

“Why should _I_ decline to discuss it when she introduced the
subject,–as if I felt that _you_ were humiliated in the matter or had
anything to regret?”

“It would seem that neither of you were hampered with any delicacy of
sentiment or sensitiveness.”

“She spoke to me of a gift of yours that she had failed to return. She
wished me to convey it to you. But I referred her to the registered mail
or the express.”

“That was polite, at all events.”

“I told her that the relations between my brother and myself were
peculiarly tender, and that I would not allow her to come between us.
And, with that, I bowed myself away.”

Randal’s eyes gloomed on the fire, with many an unwelcome thought of an
old and shattered romance. But when he spoke, it was of the present.

“Adrian, I am sorry I was so short with you. Of course I know you could
not openly avoid the topic forced upon you in that way. I am sure, too,
that you did not fail to take full cognizance of my dignity, as well as
your own. I wouldn’t hurt your feelings for a million dollars.”

“Well, you did it,” retorted Adrian, “and nobody that I know of has
offered you so much as fifty cents. It was a gratuitous piece of
meanness on your part. And you can take that paw off me,” glancing down
with affected repugnance at Randal’s caressing hand laid on his sleeve.

“Well,” said Randal, with a long sigh, “she closed the incident herself.
She gave me the trinket in her husband’s presence–and you can imagine
Floyd-Rosney was all eyes.”

“She placed it on the table among the Ducie jewels the previous night,”
said Adrian; “and, as I was occupied in reading the papers, I asked her
pointedly to take charge of it. And she looked most awfully cheap as she
repossessed herself of it.”

“Adrian, you really have a heart of stone in this connection,” smiled
Randal, “and after she had been chiefly instrumental in restoring to us
the Duciehurst papers and jewels!”

“What else could she do–commit a felony and keep them? I certainly
entertain no fantastic magnanimity on that score.”

Randal laughed, but the solicitous Adrian fancied this phase of the
subject might develop a menace to the future, and hastened to change the
topic. “I wish you would come with me and confer with our lawyers
to-day, Randal,” he suggested. “It is better to have both principals in
interest present at any important consultation. I have an engagement
with them at three,” drawing out his watch for a hasty glance.

“Agreed,” said Randal, springing up alertly. “Where’s your
clothes-brush?–but no, I suppose there is not a speck of the dust of
travel on me, for, when I tipped the man on the boat, he practically
frayed all the nap off my clothes to show his gratitude. I am
presentable, eh?”

He stood for a moment before the long mirror, then broke forth
whimsically in affected alarm. “Adrian, who is this in the mirror, you
or I? I am all mixed up. I can’t tell us apart. What are we going to do
about it?” he continued, as if in great agitation, while Adrian, with a
leisurely smile–for he had often taken part in this _gambade_, a
favorite bit of fooling since their infancy–looked about for his hat.

“Let’s go downstairs and get somebody to pick us out,” suggested Randal,
“for, really, I don’t want to be you, Adrian. You are too solemn and
priggish; why, this must be I, for, if it were you, you would have said
‘piggish.’ You are so dearly fraternal. Don’t come near me, I don’t want
to get mixed up again. I begin to know myself. This is I.”

But, notwithstanding this threatened peril of proximity, they walked
down the street together, arm in arm, to the office of the counsel,
followed by many a startled glance perceiving the wonderful resemblance,
and sometimes a passing stranger of an uncultured grade came to a full
halt in surprise and curiosity.

There were many consultations with the legal advisers in the days that
ensued, which Randal Ducie found very irksome, accustomed as he was to
an active outdoor life and a less labyrinthine species of thought than
appertains to the purlieus of the law. Unexpected details continually
developed concerning the interests involved. Mrs. Floyd-Rosney’s bill
for divorce was filed in the meantime, and because it had a personal
interest paramount to its importance in the Duciehurst case it brought
up again the matter of taking her deposition in these proceedings which
had been pretermitted by reason of affairs of greater magnitude.

The decision was reached on a day when to Randal’s relief he was able to
dub facetiously the counsel “the peripatetic philosophers” by reason of
a journey which they thought it necessary to take in the company of
their clients and which he found much more tolerable than the duress of
their offices and their long indoor prelections. The four men boarded a
packet leaving the city at five o’clock; it being deemed advisable that
the lawyers should make a personal examination of the locality and the
hiding place of the Ducie papers and other valuables, before conferring
with the Mississippi counsel retained in the case. The question of
summoning Mrs. Floyd-Rosney was discussed as they sat on the hurricane
deck in the approaching dusk between the glitter of the evening sky, all
of a clear pink and gold, and the lustrous sheen of the expanse of the
river, reflecting a delicate amber and rose. The search-light apparatus
was not illumined and looked in the uncertain half twilight as if it
might be some defensive piece of artillery of the mortar type, mounted
on the hurricane deck. The great smoke-stacks, towering high into the
air, had already swinging between them the green and red chimney lamps,
required by law, but as yet day reigned and all the brilliancy of the
evening bespoke a protest against the coming night.

Adrian Ducie doubted the availability of summoning Mrs. Floyd-Rosney in
their interest. The proof could inferentially be made without her, by
those who saw her deliver the box and witnessed its opening and
contents. Besides, here were the papers to speak for themselves. But
Randal Ducie urged the deposition. It would seem conscious not to call
her. Why should she not give her testimony. It was disrespectful to
imply that Mrs. Floyd-Rosney would be reluctant to do this.

“Mr. Floyd-Rosney is a mighty touchy man,” suggested the junior counsel.
This practitioner was about forty years of age, thin, wiry, eager, even
fidgetty. He had a trick of passing his hand rapidly over his
prematurely bald head, of playing with his fob chain, of twisting a
pencil, or his gloves, or his eyeglasses–these last also, perhaps, a
prematurely acquired treasure. Apparently he had burned a great deal of
midnight oil to good purpose, for he was admittedly an exceedingly able
lawyer, destined to rise very high in his profession.

His associate in the case was in striking contrast, in many respects, to
Mr. Guinnell. He was a portly man, with a big head, and a big frame, and
a big brain. It was his foible,–one of them, perhaps,–in moments of
deep thought to close his eyes; it may have been in order to commune the
more closely and clearly with the immanent legal entity within; it may
have been more definitely to concentrate his ideas; it may have been to
shut out the sight of Mr. Guinnell’s swiftly revolving pencil or
eyeglasses; whatever his reason, the habit had a most unnerving effect
on clients in consultation, suggesting the idea that their
affairs–always of vital importance to the parties in interest–were of
slight consequence to their adviser and of soporific effect. Both
gentlemen were serious-minded, and, which is more rare in their
profession, abysmally devoid of a sense of humor.

“The filing of Mrs. Floyd-Rosney’s bill for divorce and alimony
complicates the situation,” continued Mr. Guinnell, “although I have
thought since the Union Station incident,” he hesitated slightly,
glancing toward Randal,–“you will excuse me for mentioning it in
professional confidence.”

“Certainly; I often mention it myself as a mere layman,” said Randal,

“I have thought that Mr. Floyd-Rosney will make a stiff fight on the
hard letter of the law,–_à l’outrance_, in fact,–with no contemplation
of such concessions as would otherwise present themselves to litigants,
looking to compromise, settlement of antagonistic interest by equitable
adjustment. In the present development of his domestic affairs he will
find it quite intolerable for his wife to give testimony in the interest
of Mr. Randal Ducie and his brother. Mr. Floyd-Rosney will wince from

“It is a good thing that something can make him wince,” declared Randal
hardily. “A stout cowhide is evidently what he needs.”

“I hope, Mr. Ducie,” said Mr. Harvey, the senior counsel in alarm and
grave rebuke, “that you will not take that tone in testifying. All the
circumstances in the case render the situation unusual and perilous, and
we want to do and say nothing that will place either you or your brother
in personal danger from Mr. Floyd-Rosney.”

“The only cause for wonder is that your brother was not shot down at
Union Station, being mistaken for you,” Mr. Guinnell added the weight of
his opinion to his partner’s remonstrance. “If Floyd-Rosney had chanced
to wear a revolver Adrian Ducie would not be here to-day to tell the

“Count on me; I am yours to command,” declared Randal, lightly. “I am a
very lamb, when necessary, and you may lead me through the case with a
blue ribbon and a ring in my nose. I’ll eat out of any man’s hand!”

The ponderous senior counsel looked at him soberly. The junior twirled
and twirled his fob-chain.

“We wish to conduct this case to the best advantage,” said Mr. Harvey,
“and leave no stone unturned that can contribute to success. But we wish
to be conservative–we must keep that intention before us, to be
_conservative_, and give Floyd-Rosney no possible opportunity for
outbreak at our expense, either in regard to the interests of the case
or the personal safety of our clients.”

“I will order my walk and conversation as if on eggs,” declared Randal,
with a wary look.

“I do not apprehend any unseemly measures or conduct on the part of the
opposing counsel,” continued Mr. Harvey. “They are gentlemen of high
standing. But Mr. Floyd-Rosney has a most unruly and unreasoning temper
and he has placed himself at a deplorable public disadvantage in this
matter, which, be sure, he does not ascribe to himself. We will go
slowly and safely–coming necessarily into contention with him. But we
shall take Mrs. Floyd-Rosney’s deposition by all means.”

And thus the matter was settled.

On the third day the boat made the Duciehurst landing, and some hours
were spent in exploring the ruins of the mansion. Later the party
separated, the lawyers repairing to the inland town of Caxton for a
conference with the local legal firm who would prosecute the interests
of the case in Mississippi, and the two Ducies making a prearranged
excursion to a plantation which Randal had leased at some distance
higher up the river. As the residence on this plantation was comfortable
and in good repair he had quitted his quarters at the hotel in Caxton
and had taken up his abode here. It had been a wrench to him to
relinquish the operations on the Ducie estate; but he was advised that
his claim to rightful possession might be jeopardized by consenting to
hold under Floyd-Rosney, which course, indeed, he had never
contemplated. As the two, mounted on the staid farm horses, rode through
the fields and speculated on their possibilities, Randal would often
pause in the turn-rows–the cotton of last year a withered stubble–in
systematic lines, with here and there a floculent “dog-tail,” as the
latest wisp of the staple is called, flaunting in the chill spring
breeze, and would descant on the superior values of the Duciehurst lands
compared to these, illustrating sometimes by the fresh furrows near at
hand, showing the humus of the soil, for the plows were already running.
Now and again he turned his eager, hopeful eyes on his brother as he
declared, “This time next year, old man, I shall have the force busy
getting ready to bed up land for cotton at Duciehurst.” Or “When the
estates of our fathers are restored to us I shall live in formality at
our ancestral mansion, and if you dare go back to France I shall revenge
myself by marrying somebody.”

“Anybody in view?”

“Apprehensive, again? Well, to set your mind at rest, I was thinking,
pictorially merely, how stately Hilda Dean looked walking down the
grand staircase with her head up. How beautifully it is poised on her

“She is truly beautiful,” Adrian said heartily, “and during all that
trip down the river I was impressed with her lovely character, and her
sterling qualities of mind and heart. Her beauty, great as it is, really
is belittled by the graces of her nature. Pray Heaven your visions of
Hildegarde as your chatelaine at Duciehurst may materialize.”

“One more year,–one more year of this toilsome probation, and then,”
Randal’s face was illumined as if the word radiated light, “Duciehurst!”

Adrian, looking over the river which was now well in view from the
fields, began to speculate on the approach of a skiff heading down
stream, and running in to the bank. “I wonder if that is the boat that
your manager was to send for me for my trip to Berridge’s?”

For, although the terror of the fierce pursuit of the riverside harpies
inaugurated by Colonel Kenwynton had swept the others in flight from the
country, not a foothold of suspicion had been found against Berridge and
his son. It was known that Captain Treherne had spent the night at their
amphibian home, and had gone thence to his conference with Colonel
Kenwynton on the sand-bar; so much he himself had stated, but he
declared positively that neither of the Berridges was with the
miscreants who had waylaid him on his return and conveyed him bound to
Duciehurst. It was beyond his knowledge, indeed, that this choice twain
had later joined his captors at the mansion. Their strength of nerve,
however, failed them when they were notified that the Ducie counsel
desired an interview with them on this visit to the vicinity to
ascertain if their testimony would be at all pertinent in the matters
preliminary to the discovery of the documents. Even their non-appearance
this afternoon did not excite unfavorable comment. It was supposed that
in the depths of their illiteracy they had not understood the nature of
the communication, if indeed they had received it, and Adrian Ducie
promised the counsel to see old Berridge or his son personally and
explain the matter in order to have them present in Caxton the following
day when the lawyers should be in conference.

“Oh, I will go instead,” cried Randal; “I really ought not to let you go
on this errand, for,” with a quizzical smile, “you are ‘company,’ you

“Not very formal ‘company.’ You ought to see to the placing of that new
boiler in the gin-house,–and I have nothing to do. Yes,” continued
Adrian, still regarding the approach of the skiff, “that is your man
Job, and he can take this horse back to the stable.”

He dismounted hastily and throwing the reins to Randal, he ran lightly
up the slope of the levee. He paused on the summit to wave his hand and
call out cheerily, “Ta, ta–see you later,” and then he threw himself in
the skiff, which was dancing on the floods close below, the boatman
holding it by the painter as he stood on the exterior slope of the

The river was at flood height and running with tremendous force. But for
the aid of the current Adrian’s strength plying the oars would have made
scant speed. It was only a short time before he sighted the little
riverside shanty which no longer showed its stilts, but sat on the water
as flush with the surface as a swimming duck. Adrian was able from his
seat between the rowlocks to knock on the closed door without rising.
There was no response for a few minutes, although the building was
obviously inhabited, the sluggish smoke coiling up from the stove-pipe
into this dull day of late winter or early spring, whichever season
might be credited with its surly disaffection. A child’s voice within
suddenly babbled forth, and but for this Adrian fancied a feint of
absence might have been attempted. With a slight motion of the oars he
kept the skiff in place at the entrance, and at length the door slowly
opened and the frowsy, copper-tinted hair and freckled face of Jessy
Jane was thrust forth.

She was one of that type of woman to whom without any approach to moral
delinquency a handsome man is always an object of supreme twittering
interest, however remote of station and indifferent of temperament;
however crusty or contemptuous. That he should obviously concern himself
in no wise with her existence did not in any degree minimize the
intensity of her personal absorption in him. Her face, sullen and
lowering, took on a bland and mollifying expression, and with a fancied
recognition of the rower she broke forth with a high, ecstatic chirp:

“Why, Mr. Ran, I never knowed ’twas you hyar!” though she had never
spoken to Randal Ducie, and knew him only by sight.

“This is not Mr. Randal Ducie, but his brother,” said Adrian, and as
she stared silently at him, noting the wonderful resemblance, he

“I want to speak to Joshua Berridge,” he consulted a paper in his hand.
“He lives here, doesn’t he?”

“My dad-in-law,” she explained, suavely; “but he ain’t at home just now,
though”–with a facetious smile, “’twon’t be long ’fore he comes–most
supper time, ye know. Won’t ye kem in an’ wait?”

Ducie declined this invitation and sat meditatively eyeing the waste of
waters, for the river was now at its full scope, barring inundation, and
stretched in great majesty to a bank scarcely visible on the farther

“I ain’t sure, but what ye mought find him over on the old _Che’okee
Rose_,” she said, speculatively, for Ducie was very comely and she had a
special impulse to be polite to so worthy an object of courtesy.

“Is the old steamboat there yet?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at
the murky swirls of the swift current. There was now no sign of the
sand-bar on which the ill-fated craft had stranded. The foaming waves
raced past and submerged its whole extent. None might know where it lay.
A deep-water craft, drawing many feet, might have unwittingly plied
above its expanse. Only a fraction of the superstructure of the
steamboat–the pilot-house and texas, and the upper part of the cabin,
showed above the waste of waters to distinguish the spot where the
steamer had run aground and the pitiless storm had flayed out all its
future utility.

“The wreckers have been down time and again,” she went on with a note of
apology. “They tuk off all the vallybles before the water riz,–the
kyarpets, an’ funnicher, an’ mirrors, an’ sech–even the big chimbleys.
The water got the rest, but wunst in a while ef us pore folks wants
somethin’ that be lef’ fur lost–like some henges, or somthin’ we jest
tries to supply ourse’fs ez bes’ we kin.”

Adrian was still silently looking at the wreck that he had such cause to
remember, with all that had since come and gone.

“Well, I reckon Dad is over there now, hunting fur them henges,” said
the woman, speculatively. “Leastwise,” holding her palm above her eyes,
“’pears like I kin see a boat on the tother side, a-bobbin at the e-end
of a painter!”

Adrian moved with a sudden resolution. The oars smote the water, and
with curt and formal thanks for the information, he began to row
strongly across the current that despite his best endeavors carried him
continually down and down the river, and required him to shape his
course diagonally athwart the stream to counteract its impetus.

The woman stood for a time aimlessly watching him, as the rhythmic oars
plied, and the skiff, shadowless this dull day, kept on its way. At last
she turned within and shut the door.

The effect on Floyd-Rosney of his wife’s legal proceedings was deep and
radical. His counsel constantly noted in him a sort of stunned surprise,
as if contemplating some fantastic revulsion of the natural course of
events. He had fashioned this result as definitely as if he had planned
its every detail, yet he regarded it with an affronted amazement that he
should be called upon to experience events so untoward. He had a
disposition to belittle the efficiency of the demonstration. He
perceived with a snort of rage and contempt the seriousness with which
his counsel regarded it and declared violently that she could never get
a decree.

“You mean to defend the suit, then?” Mr. Stacey asked, very cool, and
pallid, and dispassionate.

“What else?” thundered Floyd-Rosney, the veins in his forehead blue and
swollen, his face scarlet, his hands quivering.

“I can’t see upon what grounds, in view of the terms of _retraxit_.”

“_You_ dictated the terms of that precious performance,” declared
Floyd-Rosney, with vindictive pleasure in shifting the blame.

But Mr. Stacey easily eluded the burden.

“Under your specific instructions as to the facts to which you made
affidavit,” he said, coldly.

It was perhaps evidence how Floyd-Rosney was beginning to acquire a
modicum of prudence under the fierce tuition of circumstance that he
avoided a breach with his lawyers. He heartily cursed them in his heart,
recollecting the many large fees they had received at his hands,
minimizing altogether the arduous work and professional learning that
had earned them. He broke off the consultation, which he postponed to a
future day, and left them with a stunned realization that these men,
whose capacity and experience he had so often tested, were of opinion
that he had no defense against the preposterous suit of his wife, that
she would receive her decree and be awarded the custody of the child and
ample alimony which it would be adjudged he should pay.

He set his teeth, gritting them hard when he remembered how these
lawyers had sought to induce him to defer filing his bill, to mitigate
his allegations, to investigate the circumstances more closely. Their
judgment had been justified in every particular, and though showing no
triumph–Mr. Stacey was too completely a legal machine for such
manifestation–he gave attestation of his human composition by the cold
distaste, which he could not disguise, for the subsequent developments.

“Damned if _he_ is not ashamed to be concerned with _me_,” Floyd-Rosney
said to himself, fairly staggered by the preposterous climax of the

He began to have a great desire to get out of the country, to be quit of
all the sights and associations of his recent life, but he had pressed
the preparations for the Duciehurst suit, and his absence now as the
date of the trial approached would have the aspect of a pusillanimous
retreat, specially obnoxious to him in view of the fact that the Ducies
were his opponents. The overthrow of his plans and expectations of his
wife’s return to him and the rehabilitation of their life together was
like the demonstration of some great earthquake or cataclysmal disaster;
it had destroyed all the symmetry and purpose of his life; his outlook
was as upon a blank desert of despair, an “abomination of desolation.”
That human heart of his, despite its overlay of selfish aims and
turbulent pride, had depths seldom stirred of genuine feeling; he
yearned for sympathy; he poignantly lacked the touch of his absent
child’s hand; the adoring look in the limpid infantile eyes; he felt at
every turn the loss of the incense of adulation that his wife had been
wont to burn before him. It had made sweet the atmosphere of his life,
and until it ceased he had never known how dependent upon it his very
respiration had grown to be–it was as the breath of his life. While he
sat in his solitary library, brooding and silent, reviewing in his
enforced leisure and loneliness the successive steps by which the
destruction of his domestic happiness had been compassed, his brow
darkened and grew fierce as he fixed the date of its inception to the
meeting with Adrian Ducie on the _Cherokee Rose_, and the discovery that
his wife could subtly distinguish between these facsimile faces of the
two brothers the lineaments of her former lover. Even now his logic
strove to reassert itself. Of course, the man’s face was intimately
familiar to her; there must be tricks of expression, the lift of an
eyebrow, the curl of a lip, methods of enunciation peculiar to one and
alien to the other, distinctive enough to a keen and habituated
observer. But, alack! this was not all, offensive as were its
suggestions to his pride of monopoly. He said to himself that from the
moment of the presentation of this vivid reminder of her old lover’s
face was inaugurated the recurrence of the Ducie influence in her life.
Here began that strange, covert revolt against him and all his theories
and plans, which had grown inch by inch till it possessed her. She had
never been the same, and he–fool that he was–through his magnanimity
in withdrawing the allegations of his bill, had furnished her with the
certainty of gaining a decree in her counter suit for divorce, of
securing an ample fortune in the belittling name of alimony, and the
opportunity of marrying and endowing with this wealth, derived from him,
the penniless Randal Ducie, whose baleful influence had destroyed for
him all that made life worth living.

Floyd-Rosney had never been an intemperate man, but in this grim
seclusion he began to drink heavily. He had piqued himself upon his
delicate taste, his acumen as a judge of fine wines, but the Chambertin
and Château Yquem remained untouched during his hasty dinners, while the
brandy decanter had taken up a permanent position on the library table,
and he had ordered up from the cellar an old and rich whisky that had
been laid down by his father before he was born, and that he had, so far
as the butler knew, never yet tasted.

It was difficult for the lurking magnate, in his sullen seclusion, to
face the eyes of his own domestic staff; he could not bring himself to
confront the questioning, speculative gaze of the streets, the club, the
driving park. Even such _rencontres_ as chanced when he went to consult
his counsel, whom, but for very shame he would have summoned to him, he
found an ordeal. He had grown poignantly sensitive and keenly perceptive
as well, and was discriminating in minute points of facial expression
and gradations of manner. He could differentiate embarrassment,
commiseration,–and how pity stung him!–reprobation, and oftenest of
all, a sort of covert relish, an elation, that with any personal
relation would have meant triumph. “They are nearly as well pleased as
if I were broken,” he would say cynically to himself. But there was no
breach of courtesy, no abatement of the deep respect usually tendered to
a magnate and millionaire. He was keenly alive to detect the insignia of
a diminution of consideration, but his little world salaamed as
heretofore, for he was by no means broken, not even if he should have to
pay heavy alimony, and lose Duciehurst into the bargain. The experience
of these encounters, however, weighed heavily on his nerves, now all
a-quiver and jangling with the effects of his deep potations.

His home was odious to him; his covert speculations as to the deductions
of the servants, whom ordinarily he would have disregarded as mere worms
of the earth, afflicted him. He was keenly conscious of his humiliated
position in their eyes, cognizant as he knew them to be of his
expectation of his wife’s return, and the elaborate preparations he had
made and personally supervised for her reception. He found a greater
degree of privacy and comfort on his yacht, which he ordered up from New
Orleans, where she had been lying for a month past, refitted and
revictualed, awaiting his summons. He steamed down the river to the
Gulf on one occasion, but finding himself out of touch with his counsel
in the Duciehurst case, and realizing that some final decision must be
reached as to his course in the divorce suit, he confined his wanderings
to idly cruising up and down the river, stopping at prearranged points
for mail or telegrams.

In this resource he experienced a surcease of the harassments that
infested his life on shore. His skipper knew little and cared less of
land-lubber interests–as maritime an animal as a crab. He had, indeed,
with a brightening eye and a ready courtesy, asked, when Floyd-Rosney
came over the side of the _Aglaia_, if the madam was not going to favor
the ship’s company with her presence. Being answered shortly in the
negative he heartily protested his regret.

“The best sailor she is of any lady I ever saw,” he declared, and added
that if they were to do some deep-sea stunts they need not consult the
barometer for weather signs. She cared no more for weather than a stormy
petrel. He always looked on the madam’s presence as a good omen, he
said; he had a bit of the blarney and a bit of poesy in his composition,
his ancestry hailing from the Emerald Isle.

“She has brought no good luck to her husband,” Floyd-Rosney reflected,

It was grateful to him, however, to perceive that the man knew naught of
his recent discomfitures and humiliation; of very meager consequence
such an opinion would have been ordinarily, but the evident ignorance of
the skipper enabled him to hold his head higher. The skipper read
nothing in the newspapers but the shipping news, and but for the change
in Floyd-Rosney’s bibulous habit he might never have been the wiser.

“He’s drinking like a fish,” he said in surprise to the second officer.
“That’s new with him.”

“Seems to me,” responded the subordinate, meditatively, “I heard
something when we was in port in Boloxi about him and the madam havin’
had some sort o’ row.”

“I hate to trust him with the brand new dinky skiff,” said the skipper.
“He ain’t a practiced hand; I seen him run her nose up on a drift log
lying on the levee with a shock that might have started every seam in

But the yacht, with all that appertained to it, was Floyd-Rosney’s
property, and the skipper could only enjoy his fears for the proper care
of its appurtenances.

For Floyd-Rosney had contracted the habit of scouting about in the
skiff, while the yacht swung at anchor, awaiting his pleasure. The
solitude was soothing to his exacerbated nerves. He could, indeed, be
alone, for he took the oars himself, and as he was a strong, athletic
man the exercise was doubtless beneficial and tonic. The passing of the
congestion of commerce from the great river to the railroads had brought
the stream to an almost primitive loneliness. Thus he would often row
for hours, seeing not a human being, not the smoke of a riverside
habitation, not a craft of any of the multifarious species once wont to
ply the waters of this great inland sea. The descriptive epithet was
merited by its aspect at this stage of the water. Bank-full, it
stretched as far as the eye could reach. Only persons familiar with the
riparian contours could detect in a ruffled line on the horizon the
presence of a growth of cottonwood on the swampy Arkansas shore.

One of these days, when he was thus loitering about, the sky was dull
and clouded; the river was dark, and reflected its mood. The tender
green of spring was keen almost with the effect of glitter on the bank,
and he noted how high the water stood against the levees of plantations,
here and there, menacing overflow. When a packet chanced to pass he bent
low to his oars, avoiding possible recognition from any passenger on the
guards or officer on deck, but he uncharacteristically exchanged
greetings with a shanty boat, now and again propelled down the stream
with big sweeps; none of the humble amphibians of the cabins had ever
heard, he was sure, of the great Floyd-Rosney. Sometimes he called out a
question, courteously answered, or with a response of chaff, roughly
gay. Once, being doubtful of the locality, he paused on his oars to ask
information of an ancient darkey, who was paddling in a dug-out along
the margin of the river.

“You are going to have an overflow hereabout,” added Floyd-Rosney.

The old darkey, nothing loath, joined in the dismal foreboding, keeping
his craft stationary while he lent himself to the joys of conversation
with so aristocratic a gentleman.

“Dat’s so, Boss; we’se gwine under, shore, ef de ribber don’t quit dis

“Whose plantation is that beyond the point, where the water is standing
against the levee?”

“Dat, sah, is de Mountjoy place, but hit’s leased dis year ter Mr. Ran
Ducie. I reckon mebbe you is ’quainted wid him. Mighty fine man, Mr.
Ran is, an’ nobody so well liked in the neighborhood.”

Without another word Floyd-Rosney bent to his oars. Was there no escape
from this ill-omened association of ideas?

The old darkey, checked in the exploitation of his old-time manners and
balked in the opportunity of polite conversation, gazed in amazed
discomfiture after Floyd-Rosney’s skiff, as it sped swiftly down the
river, then resumed his progress, gruff and lowering, ejaculating in

“White folks is cur’ous, shore; ain’t got no manners, nor no raisin’,
nor no p’liteness, nohow.”

Floyd-Rosney’s equipoise had been greatly shaken by the strain upon his
nerves and mental forces, this depletion of his powers of resistance
supplemented by constant and inordinate drinking, contrary to his usual
custom. Thus he had become susceptible to even the slightest strain on
his self-control. He noticed that with the renewal of the mental
turmoils that he had sought to elude–conjured up by the chance mention
of the man’s name that meant so much to him in many ways–his stroke
grew erratic and uncertain; once one of the oars was almost wrenched
from his grasp by a swirl of the current. He was well in mid-stream, in
deep water, and he realized that should he lose his capacity to handle
the little craft he would be in immediate danger of capsizing and
drowning, for his strength in swimming could never enable him to breast
that tumultuous tide at flood height. The yacht was out of sight, lying
at anchor in the bight of a bend, that cut him off from all chance of
being observed and rescued by the skipper. He summoned his presence of
mind and let the boat drift for a few moments while he took from his
pocket a brandy flask, and drank deeply from its undiluted contents. The
potent elixir rallied his forces–steadied his nerves. With its
artificial stimulus his hand was once more firm, his eye bright and
sure. But its stimulus was not lasting, as he knew, and fearing an
incapacity to handle the boat in this swirling waste of waters he
directed his course toward an island, as it seemed, thinking that thence
he would signal the _Aglaia_ and wait for her to steam up and take him
off. There he would be in full view from the yacht.

As he neared his destination he perceived–as he had not hitherto,
because of the potency of the brandy–that the island of his beclouded
mirage was the wreck of the _Cherokee Rose_, still aground on the
sand-bar, although waters swirled around her, and fish swam through her
cabin doors and the slime and ooze of the river had befouled the
erstwhile dapper whiteness of her guards and saloon walls. He lay on his
oars for a space, regarding with meditative eyes the ruin, analogous, it
seemed to the far-reaching ruin that had its inception here and that had
trailed him so ruthlessly many a day. In his dreary idleness he was
sensible of a species of languid curiosity as to the extent of the
ravages of water and decay in comparatively so short a time. Only a few
months ago, in the past October, he had been aboard the packet, when
trim and sound, and immaculately white and fully equipped, she had run
aground on this treacherous bar, where her bones were destined to rot.
He wondered that the wreckers had left so much, unless, indeed, their
operations were frustrated by the sudden impending rise of the waters.
The craft lay listed to one side, the hull evidently smashed like an
egg-shell by the furious onslaught of the storm, but a part of the
superstructure–the texas and the pilot-house–was still above water,
though canted queerly askew.

Floyd-Rosney rowed briskly to the stair that formerly served to ascend
to the hurricane deck, the skiff running up flush with the flight. He
sprang out–first trying the integrity of the wood with a cautious foot,
and tied the painter firmly to one of the posts that supported the
hurricane deck, leaving the boat leaping on the ripples, as if seeking
to break away from some ponderous creature of its own kind that would
fain drag it down into the hopeless devastations of a lair in the

With a deep sigh Floyd-Rosney slowly ascended the few steps of the stair
above the current, and stood looking drearily down upon the structure
wherein were lived those scenes so momentous in his fate so short a time
ago. As he walked along the canted floor, his white cap in his hand, his
head bared to the breeze, he glanced now and again through the shattered
cabin lights down into the saloon, seeing there the water continuously
swirling in the melancholy spaces, once full of radiance and cheer and
genial company. All the doors of the staterooms had been removed, both
those opening on the guards and the inner ones, of which the panels were
decorated with mirrors and which gave upon the saloon. A vague jingle
caught his attention; a fragment of an electrolier still clung to the
ceiling and sometimes, shaken by the ripples, its glass pendants sent
forth a shrill, disconsolate vibration, like a note of funereal keening.
Suddenly from amidst that weird desolation of shifting waters a face
stared up at him. It was unmistakable. He saw it distinctly. But when he
looked again it was gone.

Floyd-Rosney was trembling from head to foot. He had turned ghastly
pale. But for the wall of the texas against which he staggered he might
have fallen. He did not question the reality of his impression. It was
as definite as the light of day,–a face strangely familiar, yet
sinister, seen in the murky depths. He wondered wildly if it could be
the drowned face of some victim of the wreck, or if this were now
impossible, some curious explorer such as himself, meeting here more
serious mystery than any he had sought. The next moment he broke into a
harsh laugh of scorn. It was his own reflection! At the end of the
saloon, where the craft lay highest on the bar, one of the mirrored
doors, shattered doubtless in careless handling in process of removal,
had been left as useless. In this fragment he had seen his face for one
moment, and then the ripples played over the glass and the semblance was
gone, returning now again. But Floyd-Rosney had no mind to watch these
weird, illusory antics. It was horrible to him to see his face mirrored
anew, distorted in those foul depths where he had been once well and
happy and full of exuberant life and hope, with wife and child and
fortune, every desire of his heart gratified, both hands full and
running over.

As he turned away he was surprised to note how the shock had shaken his
composure, his nerves. He was loath to quit his posture against the wall
of the texas that had supported him. His long, intent gaze into the
swirl of the waters had induced a tendency to vertigo, and he looked
about for something that might serve for a seat. The pilot-house was but
two or three steps above, and there were seats built into the wall, he

He made shift to clamber up the short flight. The door was still on its
hinges, but so defaced and splintered as to be not worth removing, and
so askew as to be difficult to open. With one strong effort, for
Floyd-Rosney was a powerful man, he burst it ajar, although it swung
back to its previous position, implying a like difficulty in opening it

He sat down on the farther side, on the bare bench, the upholstery
having disappeared, and waited to regain his composure. Once more he had
recourse to the brandy flask, now nearly empty. Once more the fires
streamed through nerve and fiber, revivifying his every impulse. He felt
that he was himself again, as he gazed through the blank spaces where
the glass was wont to be, at the vast expanse of the great river, now a
glittering sheen under a sudden cast of the sun. Beautiful chromatic
suggestions were mirrored back from the sky; a stretch of illuminated
lilac, an ethereal hue touched the vivid green of the opposite bank. A
play of rose and gold was in the westward ripples, and one bar, athwart
the tawny reach, of crude, intense vermillion betokened a cloud of
scarlet, harbinger of sunset in the offing. He could see the little
house on stilts to the left hand, now like a boat on the water. In the
enforced stay here, when aground on the sand-bar, he had time to
familiarize himself with even unvalued elements of the landscape. To
the right was a bayou, the current running with great force down its
broad channel, as wide as an ordinary river, and on the other side of
the bight of the bend, lay the _Aglaia_. He wondered if the _Cherokee
Rose_ was an object of the scrutiny of the skipper’s binocle.
Floyd-Rosney thought that he should be on the watch for his employer’s
return, which was doubtless the fact, as he had no other duties in hand.

Floyd-Rosney was still eyeing the craft, meditating how best to signal
his wish to be taken back to the _Aglaia_, when a sudden sound caught
his attention–a sound of swift steps. They came rapidly along the
hurricane deck, where he himself had found footing, mounted the short
stair to the texas, and the next moment the door of the pilot-house was
burst ajar and the face and form of Adrian Ducie appeared at the

Floyd-Rosney staggered to his feet.

“What does this mean, sir?” he cried, thickly, the veins of his forehead
swollen stiff and blue, his face scarlet, his eyes flashing fire.

The newcomer seemed surprised beyond measure. He stared at Floyd-Rosney
as if doubting his senses and could not collect his thoughts or summon
words until Floyd-Rosney blustered forth:

“Why this intrusion! Leave this place instantly!”

“It is no intrusion, and I will go at my own good pleasure. I came here
thinking to find a man with whom I have business.”

“Well, you have found him. A business that should have been settled
between us long ago!” He advanced a step, and he had his right hand in
his pocket.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“You’ll find out, as sure as your name is Randal Ducie,” hissed

“That’s exactly what it is not. I am Adrian Ducie.”

“You can’t play that game with me. I know your cursed face well enough.
I will mark it now, so that there will never be any more mistakes
between you.”

Adrian had thought he had a pistol, but it was a knife–a large clasp
knife which he had opened with difficulty because of the strength of its
spring as he fumbled with it in his pocket. He thrust violently at
Ducie’s face, who only avoided the blow by suddenly springing aside; the
blade struck the door with such force as to shiver off a fragment of the

Taken at this disadvantage it was impossible for Adrian to retreat in
the precarious footing of the wreck and useless to call for help. He
could only defend himself with his bare hands.

“I call you to observe, Mr. Floyd-Rosney,” he exclaimed, “that I am

“So much the better!” cried Floyd-Rosney, striking furiously with the
knife at the face he hated with such rancor.

But this time Adrian caught at the other man’s arm to deflect the blow
and there ensued a fierce struggle for the possession of the knife, the
only weapon between them. While Floyd-Rosney was the heavier and the
stronger of the combatants, Adrian was the more active and the quicker
of resource. He had almost wrested the knife from Floyd-Rosney’s grasp;
in seeking to close the blade the sharp edge was brought down on
Floyd-Rosney’s hand, and the blood spurted out. The next moment he had
regained it and he rushed at his adversary’s face–the point held high.
Pushing him back with one hand against his breast Adrian once more
deflected his aim from his eyes and face, but the point struck lower
with the full force of Floyd-Rosney’s terrific lunge, piercing the
throat and severing the jugular vein.