There are to be no continuances on our side

Floyd-Rosney could scarcely restrain his fury when the papers were
served upon him. The whole subject had grown doubly distasteful because
of its singular connection with his domestic concerns. He could not fall
to so poor spirited a plane as to imagine that his wife preferred
another man–he was too ascendant in his own estimation to harbor the
thought. Logic, simple, plain common sense, forbade the conclusion. She
had thrown this man over for him years ago at the first summons. He did
not esteem his wealth as the lure; it was only an incident of his other
superlative advantages. She had not seen the discarded lover since, yet
from the moment of the appearance of the facsimile brother was
inaugurated a change in her manner, her conversation, the very look in
her eyes, which he could not explain, except as the result of old
associations which he did not share, antagonistic to his interest and
his domestic peace.

She had very blandly explained on the first opportunity, volunteering
the communication, indeed, the mystery of the return of the key–an old
_gage d’amour_, a trifle–the slightness of which he mentally conceded,
for he had large ideas in _bijouterie_. She did not wish to keep it, nor
to send it back without explanation; in fact, she was not willing to
return it at all except in her husband’s presence.

“Dear me, you need not have been so particular,” he declared
cavalierly. “A matter of no importance.”

She had magnified it in her fear of him till it loomed great and
menacing. She felt cheapened and crestfallen by his manner of receiving
the disclosure. Yet he had marked the occurrence, she was sure; he had
resented it–though he now flouted it as a trifle. This added to her
respect for him, and it riveted the fetters in which he held her.

The inauguration of the suit to rip up and annul the ancient
foreclosure, the many irritating questions as to whether the lapse of
time could be pleaded in bar of the remedy, whether disabilities could
be brought forward to affect the operation of the statute of
limitations, what line of attack would be pursued by the Ducie brothers,
all wrought him almost to a frenzy. He could scarcely endure even
canvassing with his lawyers the points of his adversary’s position. Any
intimation of the development of possible strength on their part
affected him like the discovery of disloyalty in his counsel. More than
once the senior of these gentlemen saw fit to explain that this effort
to probe the possibilities, to foresee and provide against the maneuvers
of the enemy, to weigh the values in their favor, was not the result of
conviction, but merely to ascertain the facts in the case.

The counsel, in closer conference still, closeted together, canvassed in
surprise and disaffection the difficulty of handling their client, and
the best method of avoiding rousing from his lair the slumbering lion of
his temper. It was a case involving so much opportunity of distinction,
of professional display, as well as heavy fees, that they were loath to
risk public discomfiture because Mr. Floyd-Rosney was prone to gnash his
teeth at a mere inquiry which bore upon one of the many sensitive points
with which the case seemed to bristle. He was as prickly as a porcupine,
and to stroke him gently required the deftness of a conjurer. At the
most unexpected junctures this proclivity of sudden rage, of
unaccountable discomfiture broke forth, amazing and harassing the
counsel, who, with all their perspicacity, could not perceive, lurking
in the background of Floyd-Rosney’s consciousness, the mirage of his
wife’s ancient romance, more especially as he himself could not justify
its formulation on the horizon.

As Floyd-Rosney was accustomed to handle large business interests and
was ordinarily open to any proposition of a practical nature,
conservative in his views, and close and accurate in his calculation of
chances, his attitude in this matter mystified his co-adjutors, who had
had experience hitherto in his affairs and were versed in his peculiar
characteristics. The legal firm had come to avoid speaking of any point
that might redound to the advantage of the opponent, unless, indeed,
there was some bit of information necessary to secure from Floyd-Rosney.
Thus matters had been going more smoothly, save that he was wont to come
to the conferences with his counsel bearing always a lowering brow and a
smoldering fire in his surly, brown eyes. It flared into open flame when
one day Mr. Stacey, the senior counsel, observed:

“They will, doubtless, call Mrs. Floyd-Rosney.”

The client went pale for a moment, then his face turned a deep purplish
red. Twice he sought to speak before he could enunciate a word.

“Mrs. Floyd-Rosney,” he sputtered at length. “As their witness? It is
monstrous! I will not suffer it! It is monstrous!”

“Oh, no; not at all.”

Mr. Stacey had a colorless, clear-cut face of the thin, hatchet-like
type. His straight hair, originally of some blonde hue, had worn sparse,
and neither showed the tint of youth nor demanded the respect due to the
bleach of age. It seemed wasted out. He was immaculately groomed and was
very spare; he looked, somehow, as if in due process of law he had been
ground very sharp, and had lost all extraneous particles. There seemed
nothing of Mr. Stacey but a legal machine, very cleverly invented, and,
as he sat in his swivel chair, his thin legs crossed, he turned a bit
from his desk, intently regarding Mr. Floyd-Rosney, who was thrown back
in a cushioned armchair beside him, flanked by the great waste-paper
basket, containing the off-scourings of the lawyer’s desk. Mr. Stacey’s
light gray eyes narrowed as he gazed,–he was beginning to see into the
dark purlieus of his client’s reasonless conduct.

“Mrs. Floyd-Rosney is perfectly competent to testify in the case.” Mr.
Stacey wore a specially glittering set of false teeth which made no
pretense to nature, but gave effect to his clear-clipped enunciation.
“Her deposition will certainly be taken by them.”

“As against her husband?” foamed Floyd-Rosney in vehement argument. “She
can be introduced _by_ her husband to testify in his behalf, but not
_against_ him, except in her own interest, as you know right well.”

“That incompetency is limited to the Mississippi law as regards third
persons, in the case of husband and wife. But in the proceedings in
reference to the Tennessee property the local statutes will obtain,–she
can testify against her husband’s interest and, in my opinion, will be
constrained to do this.” After this succinct, dispassionate statement
Mr. Stacey paused for a moment; then, in response to Floyd-Rosney’s
stultified bovine stare, as in speechless amazement, he went on with a
tang of impatience in his tone. “Why, you know, of course, there is a
bit of Tennessee property involved,–that small business house in South
Memphis,–I forget, for the moment, the name of the street. You are
aware that in the foreclosure proceedings nearly forty years ago the
plantation and mansion house of Duciehurst were bid in for the estate of
the mortgagee, but as the amount of the highest bid at the sale did not
equal the indebtedness in the shrunken condition of real estate values
at that time, the executors pursued and subjected other property of the
mortgagor for the balance due, this Tennessee holding being a part of
it, and the Ducies now contend that the debt having been previously
fully satisfied and paid in full, this whole proceeding was null and
void from the beginning. They bring suit for all in sight. Mrs.
Floyd-Rosney can testify in their interest under the Tennessee

Floyd-Rosney sprang up and strode across the room, coming flush against
the waste-paper basket as he threw himself once more into his chair,
overturning the papers and scattering them about the floor. He took no
notice of them, but the tidy Stacey glanced down at the litter, though
with an inscrutable eye.

“Oh, I’ll get her out of the country. They shall not have her testimony.
They shall not call her as their witness. She has been wanting a trip to
the Orient–she shall go–at once–at once!”

Mr. Stacey very closely and critically examined a paper knife that had
been lying on the table. Then, putting it down, he rejoined, without
looking at Floyd-Rosney, who was scarcely in case to be seen, the veins
of his forehead swollen and stiff, his face apoplectically red, his eyes
hot and angry: “They can have her deposition taken in a foreign

“If they can find her,” said Floyd-Rosney in prophetic triumph. “But
they would not take the time for that.”

“Why, you don’t reflect,” said the lawyer very coolly, “the cause may
not come to trial for two or three years. In view of the usual delays,
continuances and the like, you could not expatriate her for that length
of time.”

Floyd-Rosney’s face was a mask of stubborn conviction as he replied:

“The Ducies will want to race the matter through. They claim that they
and their predecessors have been wrongfully kept out of their own for
forty years. They will think that is long enough. _I_ won’t make delays.
The question is a legal one, and can be decided on the jump–yes or no.
The case can come to trial at the April term of the court, and by that
time Mrs. Floyd-Rosney will be in Jerusalem or Jericho.”

“This will damage your position in the case, Mr. Floyd-Rosney,” urged
the lawyer. “I think, myself, that it is a particularly valuable point
for you that it should be your wife, who, at considerable risk and in a
very dramatic manner, discovered and secured these family jewels and
papers, knowing what they were and that they threatened the title of her
husband, and restored them to the complainants. It proves your good
faith in your title–the foreclosure of the mortgage in ignorance of the
outstanding release. Your wife as their witness is a valuable witness
for us, and the motives of your contention being thus justified there
remains nothing but the question of title to come before the court.”

“All that rigamarole can be proved by other witnesses,” said
Floyd-Rosney doggedly. “There were twenty people who saw her come
bouncing down the stairs with the box and give it to Adrian Ducie.”

There is a species of anger expressed in unbecoming phraseology. Mr.
Stacey made no sign, but the words “rigamarole,” applied to his own
lucid prelection, and “bouncing” to the gait of the very elegant Mrs.
Floyd-Rosney, did not pass unnoted.

“I am sure the case on neither side can be ready for the April
term,–the docket is crowded and there is always the possibility of

“There are to be no continuances on our side,” declared Floyd-Rosney,
both glum and stubborn; “I don’t choose that my wife shall testify in
their interest. She goes to the Orient, and stays there till the
testimony is all in and the case closed.”

The season had opened in a whirl of social absorption for Paula, once
more established in their city house for the winter. She had never known
her husband so interested in these functions nor so solicitous that her
entertainments should be characterized by a species of magnificence that
would once have dazzled and delighted her, but that now seemed only to
illustrate his wealth and predominance. He was critical and fretful
because of small, very small, deficiencies, as–some flower being
unattainable that one less costly should be used in decoration, or a
shade of an electrolier being broken that another, dissimilar to the
rest in design, should be temporarily substituted. Her own toilets were
submitted to his scrutiny and preference, and when she revolted, saying
that she knew far more of such matters than he did, he lapsed into surly
dissatisfaction. Once he spoke of a costume of delicate, chaste elegance
as “common”–“nothing on it.” Then he added significantly, “You ought to
have married a poor man, Paula, if that is your taste.”

She held the gown up when she was disrobing afterward and examined its
points. She saw that the effect could have been duplicated in simple
materials costing a trifle; thus beautifully and gracefully could she
have gowned herself if she _had_ married a poor man as once she had
thought to do.

Of her own initiative she could not have given the series of dinners of
which the lavish richness astonished, as was intended, the guests, and
of which, strangely enough, she was tired before they began. More than
once, as she took up her position beside her husband in the glittering
drawing-room, hearing the approach of the first of the guests, he said
to her in a low voice, the tone like a pinch: “Don’t seem so dull,
Paula–you have gone off awfully in your looks lately, and that gown is
no good. For Heaven’s sake be more animated, and not so much like a rag
doll.” It was poor preparation to meet the coterie of men and women
keyed to a high pitch of effort toward charm and brilliancy, as doing
honor to the occasion, their hosts, and themselves. A large ball was
also among the functions he planned, to be given in compliment to
Hildegarde Dean, whose beauty he affected to admire extravagantly. He
had remembered his wife’s obvious jealousy of her attractions when
Randal Ducie had seemed interested and delighted, and it did not soothe
his unquiet spirit to note that now she had no grudging, but joined
ardently in making the festivity a great success and an elaborate
tribute to the reigning belle and beauty. She was required to invite the
wives of certain men whom he desired to compliment,–yet who were not of
his list of dinner guests,–to luncheons, and teas, and afternoon
receptions, till she was tired out with the meaningless routine and sick
at heart. Yet this was what she had craved–all her dream come true,
pressed down and running over. Why had it no longer an interest for her?
Was it sheer satiety, or was it that naught is of value when love has
flown. And it had gone–even such poor semblance as had worn its name
had vanished. She could not delude herself, though she might make shift
to masquerade in such wise that he should not know. She hoped for this,
for she had begun to fear him. He was so arrogant, so self-sufficient,
so dominant, so coercive. She feared his frown, his surly slumbrous
eyes, his hasty outbursts of gusty temper.

One evening in this arid existence, this feast of dead-sea fruit, there
was on hand no social duty–the pretty phrase for the empty
frivolity–and she was glad of it. It was a gala night at the opera, for
a star of distinction was to sing in a Wagnerian rôle, and the
Floyd-Rosneys would occupy their box, according to their habit when
aught worth while was billed. She was dressed for the occasion and
awaiting him in the library, but he had not yet come in. She was more
placid than her wont of late, for she realized that it would rest her
nerves to be still and listen, a respite, however brief, from the
tiresome round; and she had just come from the nursery where the baby
was being put to bed–very playful, and freakish, and comical. She had
been laughing with him, and at him, and the glow of this simple
happiness was still warm in her heart when the door opened and her
husband entered. He was not yet dressed for the evening, and, as she
looked her surprise, he responded directly:

“No,–we are not going.”

He often changed his plans thus, regardless of her preferences, and she
had grown so plastic to his will that she was able to readjust her
evening or her day without regard to her previous expectations.

The spacious room might have seemed the ideal expression of a home of
culture and affluence. The walls were lined with books from floor to
ceiling, unbroken save where a painting of value and distinction was
inserted, special favorites of their owner, and placed here where his
eyes might constantly rest upon them, rather than consigned to the
gallery of his art treasures. The furniture was all of a fashion
illustrating the extremity of luxury,–such soft cushions, such elastic
springs, such deep pile into which the feet sunk treading the Oriental
rugs. Not a sound from the street nor from any portion of the house
could penetrate this choice seclusion, and over the fireplace, where the
hickory logs flared genially, the legend “Fair Quiet, have I found thee
here?” was especially accented by a finely sculptured statue of Silence,
her finger on her lip, which stood on its pedestal at a little distance
from the deep bay of a window.

The beautiful woman, in the blended radiance of the electric light and
the home-like blaze, seemed as one of the favored of the earth. She had
dressed with great care, and her gown of lavender gauze over satin of
the same shade, with a string of fine pearls about her throat and
another in her fair hair, could scarcely have incurred his unfavorable
criticism. Her gloves of the same tint lay ready on the table and an
evening cloak of white brocaded satin hung over a chair. Great pains and
some time such a toilette cost; but she had learned never to count
trouble if peace might ensue.

She was prepared to be left in ignorance of his reason for a change of
plans, but he seemed, this evening, disposed to explain. He came and
stood opposite to her, one hand lifted on the shelf of the massive
mantel-piece, while he held his hat with the other. He was still in his
overcoat, its collar and lining of fur bringing out in strong relief
the admirable points of his handsome face, its red and white tints, the
brilliancy of his full lordly eyes, the fine shade of his chestnut hair.
He was notably splendid this evening, vitally alert, powerful of aspect,
yet graceful, all the traits of his manly beauty finished with such
minutely delicate detail. She noticed the embellishment of his aspect,
as if the evident quickening of his interest in some matter had enhanced
it, and she remembered a day–long ago, it seemed, foolish and transient
when she had had a proud possessory sentiment toward this fair outer
semblance of the identity within, so little known to her then, so
overwhelming all other attributes of his personality.

She did not ask a question–she was too well trained by experience. He
would tell her if he would; if not, it was futile to speculate as to his

“Well, the Oriental tour is _un fait accompli_,” he said, smiling. “You
sail within the week.”

She started in surprise. She had definitely been denied this desire,
which she had once harbored, on the score of all others most seemingly
untenable–expense. But it was her husband’s habit to make everything
inordinately costly. He would not appear in public except _en prince_,
nor travel abroad save with a most elaborate and extensive itinerary and
a suite of attendants.

“This week–why–I don’t know—-” she hesitated. “I suppose–I can get

“Oh, you will scarcely need any preparation,” he said cavalierly. “Any
old things will answer.”

This was so out of character with his wonted solicitude in small
matters that she was surprised and vaguely agitated. She saw a quiver in
the tip of her dainty lavender slipper, extended on a hassock before her
in the relaxed attitude she had occupied, and she withdrew it that the
disquietude of her nerves might not be noticed. She raised herself to an
upright posture in her chair before she replied in a matter-of-fact

“I wasn’t alluding to dress. What I am wearing here will answer, of
course–but I was thinking of the arrangements for the nurse. Will we
take his old colored nurse, or do you suppose she would not be equal to
the requirements of the trip? Had Elise better go in her place?”

“Oh, that cuts no ice. For the baby won’t go at all,” he replied, as
simply as if this were an obvious conclusion.

She sat petrified for one moment. Then she found her voice–loud and
strong and definite.

“The baby won’t go!” she exclaimed. “Then I won’t go–not one foot! What
do you take me for?”

“For a sensible woman,” he retorted.

He looked angry, as always, when opposed, but not surprised. He had
evidently anticipated her objection, and he controlled himself with care
unusual to his ungoverned temper. “Who wants to go dragging a child
three years old all around Europe and the Holy Land! You won’t be gone
more than a year!”

“A year! Why, Edward–are you crazy? To think I would leave the baby for
a year! No–nor a month! No–nor a day! He has scarcely been out of my
sight for two hours together since he was born.”

“How many women leave their children to take a trip abroad,” he argued,
and she began to feel vaguely that he would much prefer that she should
agree peaceably–he was even willing to exert such self-control as was
necessary to persuade her.

“Never–never would I,” she declared, “and he would be miserable without

“Not with me here,” her husband urged. “He is pleased to regard me with
considerable favor.” And he bent upon her his rare, intimate,
confidential smile.

For, unknown to him, she had been at great pains to build up a sort of
idolatry of his father in the breast of the little boy, such as children
usually feel without prompting. He was taught to disregard
Floyd-Rosney’s averse, selfish inattention, to rejoice and bask in the
sun of his favor, to run to greet him with pretty little graces, to
admire him extravagantly as the finest man in all the world, to regulate
his infantile conduct by the paternal prepossessions, being stealthily
rewarded by his mother whenever his wiles attained the meed of praise.

Paula looked dazed, bewildered.

“You know, dearest, I am held here by the pressure of that villainous
lawsuit, and as it will absorb all my leisure I thought that now is your
chance for your Oriental tour–for I really don’t care to go again, and
you may never have another opportunity.”

He paused, somewhat at a loss. She was leaning forward, gazing at him

“What _can_ possess you to imagine for one moment that I would go
without the boy! What is the Orient to me–or my silly fad for Eastern
travel! I wish my tongue had been withered before I ever spoke the

“Why, you talk as if I were proposing something amazing–abnormally
brutal. Don’t other women leave their children?”

“But with their mothers, or some one who stands in that tender,
solicitous relation,–and I have no mother!” Her words ended in a wail.

“But he will be with me–and surely I care for him as much as you do,”
he argued, vehemently.

“But why can’t I take him with me,” she sought to adjust the difficulty,
“even though the pleasure of the trip is lost if you don’t go?”

“Because–because,” he hesitated. “Because I cannot bear the separation
from him,” he declared bluntly. “I am afraid something–I don’t know
what–might happen to him. I know I am a fool. I couldn’t bear it.”

His folly went to her heart in his behalf as nothing else could have
done. This evidence of his love for the child, his son and hers, atoned
for a thousand slights and tyrannies which she forgave on the spot. Her
brow cleared, her face relaxed, her cheek flushed.

“Aha!” she cried jubilantly, “you know how it feels, too!” She gleefully
shook her fan at him. “We will let the trip to the Orient drop, now and
forever. I can’t go without little Edward, and you”–she gave him a
radiant, rallying smile–“can’t spare him, so we will just stay at home
and see as much of each other as the old lawsuit will let you. And what
I want to know,” she added, with a touch of indignation, “is, why do
those lawyers of yours allow the matter to harass you? It is their
business to take the care of it off your shoulders.”

He stood silent throughout this speech, changing expressions flitting
across his face, but it hardened upon the allusion to the lawsuit and
his vacillation solidified into resolve.

“Come, Paula, this talk is idle; the matter is arranged. The Hardingtons
start for New York to-morrow, and sail as soon as they strike the town.
Mrs. Hardington says she will be enchanted to have you of her party, and
I have telegraphed and received an answer engaging your stateroom on the
ship. Your section in the Pullman is also reserved,–couldn’t get the
stateroom on the train–already taken, hang it.”

She had risen to her feet and was gazing at him with a sort of averse
amazement, once more pale and agitated, and with a strange difficulty of
articulation. “Why, Edward, what do you mean? Why should you want to get
me out of the country? There’s something behind all this, evidently.”
She noted that he winced by so slight a token as the flicker of an
eyelash. “You know that I would not consent to go without my child for
any earthly consideration.”

“I know no such thing, as I have told you,” he retorted hotly. “The
arrangements are all made. Your passage is taken. I have ready your
letter of credit. I do think you are the most ungrateful wretch alive,”
he exclaimed, his eyes aglow with anger. “A beautiful and costly trip,
that you have longed for, planned out for you in every detail, and
you—-” he broke off with a gesture of repudiation.

“I wouldn’t be separated from my child for one night for all the
jauntings about the globe that could be devised,” she declared.

Floyd-Rosney suddenly lost all self-control. “Well, you certainly will
be separated from him for one night–for many nights,–for he is gone!”

“Gone?” She sprang forward with a shriek and started toward the door.
Then with a desperate effort to compose herself she paused even in the
attitude of flight. “For God’s sake, Edward, where has he gone? What do
you mean?”

“He has been sent to the place where I propose to have him cared for in
your absence. Knowing that your time is short I tried to smooth the

“But where?–where?”

“Where you shall not know,–you shall not follow. You may as well make
up your mind to take the trip.”

She seemed taller, to tower, as she drew herself up in her wrath,
standing on the threshold in the ghastly incongruity of her festival
evening gown and her tragic face. “Oh, you brute!” she shrilled at him.
“You fiend!”

Then she turned and fled through the great square hall and up the
massive staircase to the nursery that she had quitted so lately, that
had been so full of cheer and cosy comfort and infantile laughter and

The room was empty now. The fire was low in the grate, seen through the
bars of the high fender that kept the little fellow from danger of
contact with the flames. The dull, spiritless, red glow of the embers
enabled her to discern the switch to turn on the electric light, and
instantly the apartment sprang into keen visibility. The bed was
vacant, the coverlets disarranged where the child had been taken thence,
doubtless after he had fallen asleep. The drawers of the bureau, the
doors of the wardrobe stood ajar, the receptacles ransacked of all his
little garments, his hats and shoes. Evidently a trunk had been packed
in view of a prolonged absence while she had sat downstairs in the
library, all unconscious of the machinations in progress against her in
her own home. She was numb with the realization of the tremendous import
of the situation. She could not understand the motive–she only
perceived the fact. It was her husband’s scheme to get her out of the
country, and he had fancied that he could force her to go without her
child. She took no account of her grief, her fears, the surging anguish
of separation. She was saying to herself as she turned into her own room
adjoining that she must be strong in this crisis for the child’s sake,
as well as her own. She must discern clearly, and reason accurately, and
act promptly and without vacillation. If she should remain here she
might be seized and on some pretext coerced into leaving the country on
that lovely trip which he had planned for her. She burst into a sudden
bitter laugh, and the sound startled her into silence again. When had
her husband ever planned aught for her save to serve some purpose of his
own? She would not go–she would not, she said over and over to herself.
Her determination, her instinct were to ascertain where the child had
been hidden, and if possible to capture him; if not to be near, on the
chance of seeing him sometimes, to watch over him, to guard him from
danger. In her self-pity at this poor hope the tears welled up and she
shook with sobs. But on this momentary collapse ensued renewed strength.
It might be, she thought, she could appeal to the law. She knew that her
husband’s was the superior claim to the child, but in view of his tender
years, his delicate health in certain respects, might not a court grant
his custody to his mother? At all events his restoration to her care was
henceforward her one object, and if she allowed herself to be forced out
of the country, to serve this unknown, unimagined whim of her cruel
husband’s, she might never see the child again.

A knock at the door startled her nerves like a clap of thunder. A maid
had come to say that dinner had been served–indeed the butler had
announced it an hour ago–and should it still wait?

“Have it taken down,” Paula said with stiff lips. “Mr. Floyd-Rosney will
not dine at home.”

For Paula had heard the street door bang as she fled up the stairs, and
she knew that he was not in the house. The girl gazed at her with a
sharp point of curiosity in her little black eyes as she obsequiously
withdrew. Despite the humility of the manner of her domestics Mrs.
Floyd-Rosney had not the ascendency in her household due a chatelaine so
magnificently placed. It was his wealth–she was an appendage. It was
his will that ruled, not hers. As the servants loved to remark to each
other, “She has got no more say-so here than me,” and the insecurity of
her authority and the veneer of her position affected unfavorably the
estimation in which she was held. The girl perceived readily enough that
a clash had supervened between the couple and sagely opined that the
master would have the best of it. Below stairs they ascribed to it the
strange removal of the child at this hour of the night and the change
in their employer’s plans for the evening. Their unrestrained voices
came up through doors carelessly left ajar, along with the clatter of
the dishes of the superfluous dinner, and Paula, with some unoccupied
faculty, albeit all seemed burdened to the point of breaking with her
heavy thoughts, realized that this breach of domestic etiquette could
never have chanced had the master of the house been within its walls.

As she hastily divested herself of her dainty evening attire, with
trembling fingers her spirits fell, her courage waned. No one would heed
her, she said to herself. What value would a court attach to her
representations as against the word and the will of a man of her
husband’s wealth and prominence? And how could she expect aught of aid
from any quarter? She had literally no individual position in the world.
She had no influence on her husband, no real hold on his heart. She
could command not one moment’s attention, save as his wife. Bereft of
his favor and countenance she would be more of a nullity than a woman,
poor but independent, working for a weekly wage. Truly Floyd-Rosney
could ship her out of the country as if she were a mare or a cow.
Decorum would forbid open resistance, for indeed if she clamored and
protested she could be sent with a trained nurse as the victim of
hysteria or monomania. She must get away. Her liberty was threatened.
Her will had long been annulled, but now she was to be bodily bound and
in effect carried whither she would not. Her liberty, her free agency
were at stake–not her life. Never, she thought, would he do a deed
that would react upon himself. She must be gone–and swiftly.

Perhaps Paula never realized the extent of her subjection until when
dressed in her dark coat suit with hat and gloves, her suitcase packed
with a few indispensable articles, she stood at her dressing table and
opened her gold mesh-bag with a sudden clutch at her heart to ascertain
what money she might have. Her white face, so scornful of herself,
looked back from the mirror, duplicating her bitter smile. She had not
five dollars in the world. Floyd-Rosney never gave money to his wife in
the raw, so to speak. All her extravagant appointments came as it were
from his hand. She could buy as she would on his accounts; she could
subscribe liberally to charities and public enterprises which he
countenanced, and he made her signature as good as his, but she could
never have undertaken the slightest plan of her own initiative. She had
no command of money. She could not go–she could not get away from under
his hand. She was as definitely a prisoner as if she were behind the
bars. Still looking scornfully, pityingly, distressfully at her pallid
image in the mirror, a strange thought occurred to her. She wondered if
she were Ran Ducie’s wife could she have been as poor as this. But she
must go–and quickly. For one wild moment she contemplated borrowing
from the servants the sum she needed. As she revolted at the degradation
she realized its futility. Their place in his favor was more secure than
hers–her necessity attested the tenuity of her position. They would not
lend money to her in order to thwart him. She looked at the strings of
pearls, the gold mesh-bag, and remembered the pawnbroker. Once more she
shivered back from her own thought. They were not hers, for her own.
They were for her to wear, to illustrate his taste, his liberality to
his wife, his wealth. She knew little of law, of life. This might be an
actual theft. But she must go–and go at once.

With her suitcase in her hand she stole down the stairs and softly let
herself out of the massive front door, closing it noiselessly behind
her, never for a moment looking up at the broad, tall façade of the
building that had been her home. She crossed the street almost
immediately, lest she encounter her husband returning with his plans
more definitely concluded and with a more complete readiness to execute

The night was not cold, but bland and fresh, and she felt the vague stir
of the breeze like a caress on her cheek. The stars–they were strangers
to her now, so long it had been since she had paused to look upon
them–showed in a dark, moonless heaven high above the deep canyon of
the street. She walked rapidly, despite the weight of the suitcase, but
so long had it been since she had traversed the thoroughfares on foot
that she had forgotten the turnings–now the affair of the
chauffeur–and once she was obliged to retrace her way for a block. She
deprecated the loss of time and the drain upon her strength, but she was
still alert and active when she paused in the ladies’ entrance of a
hotel and stood waiting and looking about with her card in her hand. Oh,
how strange for her, accustomed to be so considered, so attended, so
heralded! She did not for the moment regret the coercion her splendors
were wont to exert. She only wondered how best to secure her object, if
she could not win the attention of the supercilious and reluctant
functionaries dully regarding her in the distance.

The lobby of the ladies’ entrance opened upon the larger space of the
office of the hotel, and here in a delicate haze of cigar smoke a number
of men were standing in groups about the tessellated marble floor, or
seated in the big armchairs placed at the base of the tall pillars. As
fixing her eyes on the clerk behind the desk she placed her suitcase on
the floor and started forward, he jangled a sharp summons on a hand
bell, and a bell-boy detached himself from the coterie that had been
nonchalantly regarding her, and loungingly advanced.

“Will you take that card to Mr. Randal Ducie?” she said, controlling her
voice with difficulty.

“Ain’t hyar,” airily returned the darkey. He was about to turn away from
this plainly dressed woman, who had no claim on any eagerness of service
when his eyes chanced to fall on a token of quality above her seeming
station. He suddenly noted the jeweled card case as she returned the
card to it, and the gold mesh bag, and he vouchsafed pleasantly:

“I noticed myse’f the announcement in the evenin’ paper, but it is his
brudder stoppin’ hyar.”

That moment her eyes fell upon Adrian Ducie standing in one of the
groups of men smoking in the office. Her impulse was like that of a
drowning creature clutching at a straw. Without an instant of
hesitation, without even a vague intention of appropriately employing
the intermediary services of the limp bell-boy, with a wild, hysteric
fear that a moment’s waiting would lose her the opportunity, she dashed
into the midst of the office, and, speechless, and pallid, and
trembling, she seized Adrian by the arm.

Adrian Ducie looked in startled amazement down into her white, drawn
face with its hollow, appealing eyes, and quivering lips that could not
enunciate a word. He did not recognize her for one moment. Then his
expression hardened, and his gaze grew steady. With dextrous fingers he
took his hat from his head and his cigar from his lips with one hand,
for she held the other arm with a grip as of steel. The moony luster of
the electric lights shone down upon a scene as silent and as motionless
as if, Gorgon-like, her entrance had stricken it into stone; the groups
of men who had been smoking standing about the floor, the loungers in
the armchairs, the clerks behind the counter were for the moment as if
petrified, blankly staring.

“What can I do for you?” Adrian asked courteously, and the calm, clear
tones of his voice pervaded the silence like the tones of a bell.

In her keen sensitiveness she noted the absence of any form of greeting
or salutation. He would not call her name for the enlightenment of these
gazing strangers in this public place, in the scene she had made. Oh,
how could she have so demeaned herself, she wondered, as to need such
protection, such observance on his part of the delicacy she had
disregarded. She despised herself to have incurred the necessity, yet
with both her little gloved hands she clung to his arm with a convulsive
strength of grasp which he could not have shaken off without a struggle
that would have much edified the gazing crowd, all making their own
inferences as to the unknown significance of the scene. Such good
breeding as it individually possessed had begun to assert itself against
the shock and numbing effects of surprise, and there was the sound of
movement and the murmur of resumed conversation which induced Adrian
Ducie to hope that the one word she suddenly gasped had not been

“Randal,” she began in a broken voice, and the look in his eyes struck
her dumb. They held a spark of actual fire that scorched every delicate
sensibility within her. But it was like the ignition of a fuse–it set
the whole train of gunpowder into potentiality. With sudden intention he
looked over his shoulder and signaled to a gentleman at a little
distance, staring, too, but not in the least recognizing Mrs.

“We will go into the reception room and talk the matter over,” he said
decisively. “Colonel Kenwynton will give us the benefit of his advice.”

Colonel Kenwynton had been trained in the school of maneuvers and
strategy. Off came his hat from his old white head, and with a resonant
“Certainly! Certainly!” he advanced on the other side of Paula, who
noticed that he followed Ducie’s example and did not speak her name.
“Good evening, good evening, madam, I trust I see you well!” was surely
salutation enough to satisfy the most exacting requirements of

Scarcely able to move, yet never for one instant relaxing her hold on
Ducie’s arm, she suffered herself to be led, half supported, to the
reception room, where she sank into an armchair while Ducie stood
looking down at her.

“Oh, Mr. Ducie,” she cried plangently, “I had hoped to find Randal
here–his arrival was in the paper. I am in such terrible trouble, and I
know my old friend would feel for me. Oh, he loved me once! I know he
would help me now!”

“I will do whatever Randal could,” said Ducie. His voice was suave and
kind, but his face was stern, and doubtful, and inquiring.

“Oh, you look so like him–you might have a heart like his. But you are
not like him. Oh, I have not another friend in the world!”

Adrian thought she had not deserved to account Randal Ducie her friend.
But this was no occasion to make nice and formal distinctions. He only

“Randal is not in town. But if you will give me the opportunity to be of
use to you, Mrs. Floyd-Rosney, I will do anything I can.”

Both her auditors thought for a moment that she was insane when she

“I want you to lend me ten dollars.”

The two men exchanged a glance. Then Ducie heartily declared:

“Why, that is very easily done. But may I ask, Mrs. Floyd-Rosney, what
use you wish to make of it?”

He was thinking the trifling sum was yet sufficient to work mischief if
she were under some temporary aberration.

“I want to go to my aunt’s place in the uplands of Mississippi–my old
home! Oh, how I wish I had never left it!”

She threw herself back in the chair and pressed her handkerchief to her
streaming eyes. “Mr. Ducie, I have fled from my husband’s house. He has
taken my child from me–spirited him away–and I don’t know where he is,
nor how he will be cared for. He is only three years old–oh, just a
little thing!”

“Mrs. Floyd-Rosney, you must control your voice,” said Ducie,
embarrassed and reluctant. “I hate to say it–but you will bring the
whole house about us.”

Once launched on a recital of her woes she had acquired a capacity to
arrange her ideas, and was keenly noting the effect of her words. There
was no alacrity to produce the money she had requested as a loan,
corresponding to the prompt acquiescence of Adrian Ducie a moment or so
ago. She marveled in humble anxiety, not knowing that the two men
doubted her mental responsibility, and feared to trust her with money.

Her griefs, once released, strained for expression, and she went on in a
meek, muffled tone that brought the tears to the old Colonel’s pitying
eyes–his heart had grown very soft with advancing years–but Adrian
Ducie held himself well in hand and regarded her with critical

“My husband desires, for some reason which he does not explain, but
which I suspect, to get me out of the country.”

Once more Colonel Kenwynton and Ducie exchanged a covert glance of

“He has arranged an extensive European and Oriental tour for me–without
my child–leaving my child for a year at least. Why, Colonel Kenwynton,
tell me what would all the glories of foreign capitals and all the
associations of Palestine count for with me when the one little face
that I care to see is far away, and the one little voice I cannot hear!”

“Oh, my dear madam”–the Colonel had a frog in his throat–“surely Mr.
Floyd-Rosney would not insist. You must be mistaken!”

“Oh, it is all arranged–my passage taken; my letter of credit ready; my
party–such a gay party–made up and prepared to start to-morrow, the

The Colonel’s face bore a sudden look of conviction.

“I recollect now–it had slipped my memory–Mr. Charles Hardington was
telling me this evening of the tour his family have in contemplation,
and he mentioned that they were to have the great pleasure of your
company, starting to-morrow.”

“Oh, but I will not go! I will not!” cried Paula, springing from her
chair and frantically clasping her hands. “I will not go without my
child! If you will not help me I will hide in the streets–but he could
find me and–as I have not one friend–he could lock me up as insane!”
She turned her wild eyes from one to the other. Then she broke into a
jeering laugh. “It would be very easy in this day to prove a woman
insane who does not prefer the tawdry follies and frivolities of gadding
and staring through Europe with a party of fashionable empty-pates to
the care and companionship of her only child. But I will not! I will not
be shipped out of the country!”

Adrian Ducie’s face had changed. He believed that Floyd-Rosney was
capable of any domestic tyranny, but however he moved the
responsibility involved in her appeal was great. He could not consign
her to whatever fate might menace her. Still, he dared not trust her
with money. She might buy poison, she might buy a pistol.

“Colonel, we must do something,” he declared. Then he turned to her.
“Mrs. Floyd-Rosney,” he said, “will you permit us, instead of handing
you the small amount you mentioned, to buy your ticket for your aunt’s
home and see you aboard the train?”

In one moment her face was radiant.

“Oh, if you only would! If you only would! I should bless and thank you
to the end of my days!”

Adrian Ducie, with a clearing brow, crossed the room and touched the
bell. The summons was answered so immediately as to suggest the
prompting of a lurking curiosity.

“Time-table,” said Ducie, and when it was brought he rid himself of the
officious bell-boy by commanding: “Taxi, at the ladies’ entrance.”

“We must be starting at once,” he said to Paula. “We have barely time to
catch the train. Bring the lady’s suitcase,” to the returning servant;
and to the veteran: “Come, Colonel, you will kindly accompany us.”

Then they took their way out into the night.

Paula felt as if she trod on air. It had been so long since she had done
aught of her own initiative, so little liberty had she possessed, even
in trifles, that it gave her a sense of power to be able to carry any
plan of her own device into successful execution. She was suddenly
hopeful, calm, confident of her judgment, and restored to her normal
aspect and manner. As they stood for a moment on the sidewalk, while
the cab came chugging to the curb, she looked as with the eyes of a
restored vitality upon the familiar surroundings–the electric street
lights, the brilliant, equidistant points far down the perspective, the
fantastic illuminated advertisements, the tall canyon of the buildings,
the obstructive passing of a clanging, whirring street car, and then she
was handed into the vehicle by Adrian Ducie. The next moment the door
banged, and she was shut in with the two who she felt were so
judiciously befriending her. The taxicab backed out into the street and
was off for Union Station at a speed as rapid as a liberal construction
of the law would allow.

There was no word said, and for that she was grateful. Her eyes stung as
if blistered by the bitter tears she had shed, but not for one moment
would she let the restful lids fall, lest the face of the man before her
vanish in the awakening from this dream of rescue. She watched the
fluctuations of light on Ducie’s countenance as the arc lamp at every
street intersection illuminated it, for she found a source of
refreshment in its singular likeness to the one friend, she told
herself, she had in the world. Adrian would not have lent himself as he
had done to her aid, she felt sure, were he not Randal’s brother. She
had been vaguely sensible of a reluctance that was to her inexplicable,
of a reserve in both the men before her, that seemed to her inimical to
her interest. She would venture no word to jar the accord they had

When the taxicab drew up at the Union Station the glare of lights, the
stir of the place enthused her. She was here at last, on her way,
success almost attained. She did not share Ducie’s sudden fever of
anxiety in noting the great outpouring of smoke from the shed where the
train stood almost ready to start, the resonance of its bell and the
clamors of the exhaust steam of the engine already beginning to jar the
air. He ran swiftly up the stair to the ticket office, leaving her with
Colonel Kenwynton, and was back almost immediately, taking her
protectively by the arm as he urged her along into the great shed. At
the gate she was surprised to see that he presented three tickets, but
he voluntarily explained, not treating her as an unreasoning child, as
was Floyd-Rosney’s habit, that he thought it best that he and the
Colonel should accompany her to the first station, to see her fairly
clear of the city. He was saying this as they walked swiftly down
between the many rows of rails in the great shed where a number of cars
were standing, and the train which she was to take was beginning to move
slowly forward.

Her heart sank as she marked its progress, but Ducie lifted his arm and
signed eagerly to the conductor just mounting the front step of the
Pullman. The train slowed down a bit; the stool was placed by the alert
porter, but the step passed before she could put her foot upon it. Ducie
caught her up and swung her to the next platform as it glided by, and
the two men clambered aboard as the cars went on.

They were laughing and elated as they conveyed her into its shelter.
Then a deep shade settled on the face of the Colonel.

“Why, my dear madam, you have no luncheon!” He regarded the suitcase
with reprobation, as affording no opportunities of refreshment, save of
the toilette.

“But, Colonel, I don’t lunch throughout the night,” she returned, with a
smile. “I shall be glad to sleep,” she added plaintively.

The Colonel looked disconsolate for a moment. Then he took a handsome
little flask from his pocket. “With my best compliments,” he said.

“But I don’t drink brandy, either,” she declared, strangely flattered,
“and I have no pistol pocket.”

“Tuck it in your suitcase,” he insisted seriously. “Something might
happen. You might–might–see fit to faint, you know.”

“Oh, no, I never faint,” she protested. “If I haven’t fainted so far I
shall hold my own the rest of the way.”

As they sat in the section which Ducie had reserved for her the Colonel
eyed him enigmatically, as if referring something for his approval. Then
he said bluffly:

“I am sorry I haven’t the ten dollars which you did us the honor to wish
to borrow. I have nothing less than a twenty, that you can get changed
by the conductor and return to me at your good pleasure. I’m getting
rich, Mrs. Floyd-Rosney,” he laughed gaily, at the incongruity of the
jest. “And I never carry anything but large bills.”

He took the little empty mesh bag from her hand and slipped the money in
it, despite her protest that she had now no need of it.

“It is never prudent to travel without an emergency fund,” he opined
sagaciously. “My affairs are managed by Hugh Treherne now, for a share
of the proceeds. He did not want any compensation at all, but I
insisted on it. Wonderful head for detail he has, Ducie. I’d go to the
asylum and stay there a term or two if it would educate me to make every
edge cut as he can.”

When they had alighted on the platform of the first station and stood
lifting their hats, as her pale face looked out of the window while the
train glided on, Colonel Kenwynton spoke his mind.

“She is as sane as I am, and a fine, well-bred woman. She has married a
brute of a husband, and if I were not such an excellent Christian,
Ducie, I don’t know what I wouldn’t wish might happen to him.”

Ducie said nothing. Floyd-Rosney was a distasteful subject that he was
averse to discuss. They took their places in the electric street car
which would whisk them back to town speedily, and, as the train slowly
backed on the switch, she saw them through the window, as yet the sole
occupants on the return run.