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weekly papers informed me, "for many charming house in Queen Anne's Gate,
been so needlessly slow in approaching, at
length occurred. Now, the episode to which I have al- It was in May, and rumors had for luded, and which I have called, “The some time been rife that a Life of GodEpisode of the Clandon Letters," did not frey Clandon was about to be published. come to pass until seven years after Clan- I knew that Vincent Cave was writing it, don's death. During those seven years,
but my knowledge went no further. Cave saw, for several reasons, rather less of
was, of course, the man to whom the work Mrs. Herraday than heretofore.
should have been intrusted, and besides For one thing, I had in the interim his skill in biography, he was further married, and my wife and she had taken equipped by what appeared to be a fairly to each other one of those inexplicable comprehensive personal acquaintance with dislikes any attempt to uproot which can Clandon. cause only disaster to him who makes it. They had been at Cambridge together,
My wife, who is shrewd, at once de- and on the occasion of the Spanish visit clared that Mrs. Herraday was a hum- (so valuable as the origin of “Paola"), bug, and this naturally I resented. It was Cave had been with the novelist. not the right word.
The book was reported to be nearly “She knows nothing about books," finished, then to be in the publishers' Maud declared, firmly; "and you know it, hands, then came a crushing report that Bill Marchington."
Cave was at a standstill, owing to a sudThis much I was willing to admit. den hiatus in his material.
“And yet- to hear her go on about I was very busy at the time, but I heard “The Valletorts” the other night--one the rumors, and wondered. Then one would have thought she'd written the day I met Cave in a motor 'bus, and asked book herself."
him about his work. This, alas, I could not deny. My "To tell you the truth,” he said, "I am friend's pretensions to literary knowledge, at a standstill. I have come across a mysthrough the friendship with Clandon, had tery." not escaped me.
“Dear me! But how excellent! What “She has so often discussed his books could be better? I should have said, from with him," I said, feebly.
the little I knew of Clandon, that exactly “Fiddlesticks! She thought Gambetta the lack of mystery would prove to be had been a friend of Cavour's and worn a your stumbling-block.” red shirt! He never told her that!”
"H’m. Well, so did I. I mean to say, This lamentable mixing up of two emi- that 's what I used to think. But we are nent men, I had not observed, but Maud
wrong. Have you ever heard that he had is truthful, even when angry.
a love-story, Marchington?" “And the way she went on about his I had not, and said so. unpublished poetry--why it was perfectly Cave stared ahead of him, his eyes ridiculous! I call her pretentious and false
vague, in the peculiar way of eyes that see -battening on a dead man's reputation.' more than other people's.
“Battening," as a word, has always im- "Exactly. And yet--he had. I have pressed me, just as "deleterious” does, –
found a bundle of letters—his own letters and some others. I said no more, and we -written to some woman—that are about did not invite Mrs. Herraday to meet Sir the finest things I have ever read." William Kershaw, the new president of "But what, then,” I cried, “what the R.A., Maud's uncle. There was could be better? You will publish them, never an open quarrel, it must be under- of course. Any woman would be proudstood. I still went occasionally to the that is to say, of course, unless—"
Cave laughed. “Oh, no, it seems to that in its sober splendor became her well, have been all right in that way. A most and it was pleasant to see that she made respectable, legitimate love, one would no effort to combat the coming of middlesay. They must have been engaged at the age. A beautiful dignified woman, full of time, there 's no date— But the deuce a certain restful charm. is, we can't find out to whom they were “I am very glad to see you," she said, written!"
taking my hand kindly in hers. “It has "Paper old?" I asked. "Ink faded ?" been long-"
"No. It 's thick, rough paper, quite I sat down and in the pleasant flowerunyellowed, and the ink is not faded at all. scented dusk, we began to talk. The letters contain no reference to cur- “Mr. Cave has written me that you rent events, or even to his work. That had advised him to come to me,” she said, makes me think that he must have been after a while. very deeply in love.”
“Yes. You did not mind ?” It looked so to me, and I went my way “No. He is coming to-morrow. So when we parted, nearly as interested as you know what he wants, March?” Cave.
“Yes." Suddenly—it was in the Strand, I re- “It-is about some letters. They are,” member- I thought of Wilmot Herraday. she added, "very beautiful. He calls She might know. It was highly probable them the letters of Fleur Blanche.” that Clandon had confided in her. She “I know. It is a beautiful name." was just the type of woman in whom men “I remember," she said, "when he do confide.
wrote the first one. I was at Margate, I wrote a note to Vincent Cave that with Flossie's poor little girl, you rememevening and told him of my great idea. ber. And I read it on the sands. That He sent me a line of thanks—type-written sounds very crowded, but it was n't, for it -and I thought no more of the matter was in February, and besides, every one for several days.
but me was at dinner. I can rememThen I had another letter from him- ber - ” she hesitated for a minute and then written, this one, by his own nervous hand. went on, one would have said almost rey“The most wonderful thing has hap- erently-"just how the sky looked and the pened! I was on the point of going to see It was the most wonderful letter I Mrs. Herraday when I found two notes had ever read. I think I once mentioned from her, sent to him some time ago. They them to you, did n't I, March ?" were on indifferent subjects, but in one she Them?' said, 'But I fear I am not at all like the “The Fleur Blanche letters. Oh, no, lovely princess Fleur Blanche!' March- it was Edmond Greer I read one to—" ington! Fleur Blanche is the only name he I stared. It sounded very cold blooded. ever used in the mad, delightful, wonder- “But why show it to Edmond Greer?” ful love-letters! So it is quite established “Because he was so interested in-well, that the letters were written to her." there is no harm in my telling you now,
This was news indeed. So after all, poor fellow, that he wanted to marry me, Clandon had loved her. And, after all, and I could n't convince him that I did n't why not? She was even now beautiful, wish to. He nearly drove me mad, until and nine years before, her beauty had I told him about Mr. Clandon-of course, been marvelous. I wondered why she no one in my position could think of marhad not married him. However, it was rying poor Edmond—” no business of mine.
I agreed promptly. A few days later, I called and found "Well, may I, as an old friend, ask, are her alone. She was now about forty, and you going to do as Cave wishes?” there were streaks of white in her glossy She smiled. “But I don't yet know dark hair and certain lines on her face, what he does wish !" but her beauty had not faded; it had, as So far as I can remember I am transgreat beauty has the immeasurable advan- cribing our conversation word for word. tage of doing, only changed a little in The reader is begged to note this. character.
“You must be able to make a pretty She was dressed in deep purple, a color good guess."
“You mean he wants to publish the let- Then I went on: 'And, of course, I may ters? And—tell the whole story? Well publish your name, too?'” - why not? I am extremely proud of it." He broke off speaking, adding, after a
"Then why," I asked, "did you not minute, "She has the most beautiful nuque do it?"
I ever saw.' She rose, and stood looking down at "Oh, bother her nuque! What did she me, a little line between her eyebrows. say y?”
"1-I tried, but-I simply was n't up "I won't bother her nuque! She was to it. Oh, how I tried !"
looking down so I saw it well. Luckily I always try to admire humility, and I she wore no collar. Oh, say? She said always fail. "Bosh!" I said, rudely, when yes, that I might publish her name too. I was quite clear that in this instance I Quite simply, like that.
Quite simply, like that. A wonderful had failed as usual.
No wonder Clandon loved her. “No, it was n't bosh, March. When I'd love her myself if I was n't so inferhe first proposed it, I thought I could. nally busy.” Naturally I was hugely flattered—and I was surprised by his news. I had exthen, as time went on, I found I simplypected something different; I hardly knew could n't. Oh, believe me, even he came what. to see that my efforts were-grotesque.” It was all very well to allow the letters
I began to make some reply when we to be published, although if she had been were interrupted by another caller, and my sister, I should have felt her consent chances were such that I did not see her to imply a certain regrettable lack of deliagain for months.
cacy; but that any woman could let her But Vincent Cave I saw the following name come out in connection with such week, and he gave me a very circumstan- letters, shocked me very much. tial account of their interview.
Poor Clandon, how he would have “I began in the middle,” he said ; "it's hated it, I thought, when Cave had left me the only way. “Mrs. Herraday,' I said, alone in my library. And then, rather 'I have found a bundle of letters writ- sadly, for I had thought better things of ten by Clandon to some lady. They are her, I came to the conclusion that it was magnificent letters, and they were sent to her old weakness for knowing worth-while you.'
people that was at the bottom of it all. “ 'How do you know that?' she asked She would, of course, by her consent to
having her name published, achieve a cer" 'Internal evidence. Now I wish my tain distinction as the woman Clandon biography of Clandon to be the finest I loved. The book was certain to create an have ever done. And I want you to help immense excitement in the literary world, me. Will you?'
and she, even while disapproved of by peo“ 'Yes. I will do anything I can,' she ple of taste, would yet become an object of answered.
great curiosity. “Then I went on without making any “Through this poor great man's weakmore bones about it, 'Way I publish these ness for her,” I thought, “she will beletters?'
come, in a way, famous. She will meet “She stood looking at me for a moment, more ‘worth-while people,' Heaven save and at last said, slowly, "Yes, I don't see the mark!” why they should n't be published.''
And I thought unkind things of her. “Then you embraced her, knocked over If she had not been ill that summer I the piano as you passed, and ran bare- might probably, for the sake of the old headed back to South Kensington to your days, have attempted to make her see study," I interjected.
things in their true light, but some one "No, I did n't. I simply struck while told me shortly after my talk with Cave the iron was hot. I said, 'I am very glad that she had typhoid fever and was in a that you are capable of realizing the im- nursing home. Where this nursing home portance of the letters--that such things was, I could not find out, although, I am belong to the world, not only to one glad to say, I conscientiously tried. woman.' She did say that they belonged Her house was closed, my letters reto her, but that was, of course, natural. mained unanswered, and by a curious fa
tality, her old doctor had died a month Her nurse's manner confirmed me in before, so that I did not know whither to the wisdom of my resolve. The nurse turn for news.
gave her a glass of tonic wine and then When at last I saw in “The Onlooker” felt her pulse, her serious eyes fixed on her that Mrs. James Herraday, whom, rumor watch. I could see that the woman was had it, Godfrey Clandon had wished to still taking care of my friend; that she marry, was now at Bognor recovering still needed care. from the effects of her recent severe ill- So I said no more, and we parted very ness, it was mid-August.
cordially. I went down one Sunday morning and The book was announced for Novemfound her comfortably installed at the ber 1, and Clinton and Protheroe were Norfolk, and apparently in possession of a advertising it very skilfully, whetting the perfectly candid conscience.
appetite of the public with a clever, occaShe looked so delicate, so diaphanous sional paragraph hinting that the volume after her long seclusion, that my heart contained hitherto unpublished facts about smote me.
Clandon that would prove very interestHow could I scold her? If she did not ing. People were really looking forward see the strange indelicacy of what she was to the book, and Cave was in high feather. doing, could I make her? She was glad Then one day in September, I met Mrs. to see me, and told me about her illness Herraday in Bedford Street, Covent Garwith the pride of the recently-snatched
She looked desperately ill, and from-death.
seemed in a great hurry. She was, she I explained why I had made no sign; told me, on her way to Clinton and she forgave me, and then she said, sud- Protheroe's. denly: "I am so interested in the book! I "I-it 's about the book," she said, “I am to see the galley proofs to-morrow. - I was n't able to read the proofs after They came last week. Is n't it kind of all, until last week. And I have come Mr. Cave?"
up to town on purpose to see the pubI grunted something in return.
lishers." “I think,” she went on, sniffing luxuri- “Is anything wrong?" I asked. ously at the flowers I had brought her, "No-yes-that is, I don't quite like “that the day that book is published will the way some of it is done. One or two be the proudest of my life.”
changes-” I went to the window. The fact that A mood of pitilessness came over me. her beautiful hair had been cropped close “My dear Wilmot,” I said, walking on and was now coming in nearly quite white beside her; "it 's too late to back out now. seemed to make my intended task more It would cost a fortune to change the nearly impossible than ever.
book. It 's set up by this time. You “So you are proud of it," I said, clear- should have reflected before, whether you ing my throat.
wished poor Clandon's secret to be pubShe laughed. “I am. Is it very silly?
Is it very silly? lished — " Oh, March, remember how I always She turned and looked at me. "Oh, wanted to know worth—"
that 's what you think!" she said, coldly. I interrupted her. "Oh, yes, I remem- "I wonder you did n't tell me before!" ber!”
“My dear friend, you were ill --" “Well, and then when it came, think "My dear Mr. Marchington, if you what it meant when I knew the best understood, I cannot think you have been worth-while of all—and not only knew a friend to me," she said, Aushing. “I him but was-well, his best friend for his will go on alone, please." last four years! It is enough to make me I had no alternative but to turn down proud."
the street, to the corner of which we had I had simply no heart to scold her.
She was behaving like an idiot, of After all, she had never been clever, or course, but, after all, had I behaved quite possessed of great understanding, and yet like a friend? I had been very fond of her. I would still be fond of her, and as she was, not It was Cave who, meeting Mrs. Herraas I would wish to have her.
day by chance at the very door of Clin
ton and Protheroe's, brought her, as he difficulty been kept out of the illustrated said, to reason.
papers; but, at the same time, I was "I began at once-in the middle," he obliged to admit that her publicity was of told me, “did n't let her talk at all. Told a delicate and rather beautiful kind. her that the book was in the press at that She looked very well that evening. She very moment and could be changed only wore black velvet, and her silvery hair, at huge expense; reminded her how inter- now clustering in close, soft curls all over ested every one would be to know that it her head, lent her a quaint look of travwas she whom Clandon had loved; how esty. Several people, my wife told me, many people she would meet when she thought it was powdered. was the celebrity she deserved to be; how She treated me very coldly at first, beautifully clear the letters made the ex- hardly looking at me during dinner, but I act nature of his friendship—that she had, watched her closely, and was forced to in short, rejected the greatest novelist of admit that she carried off the strange situhis century-in short toute la lyre!" ation very gracefully. She reminded me,
“You played on her feelings abomi- in fact, of a rare flower of some sort, to nably," I grumbled. “I am ashamed of see which all these people had come. They myself for not having made her see long talked and politely discussed her, but her ago how it was going to look."
serenity was undisturbed. “Rot!" Cave stood still for a moment Some one toward the end of dinner in the failing sunshine as I hailed a cab, made a rambling, not very tactful, speech, the practical modern look fading, as the in which he referred to her, praising what sun faded from his face, leaving in its he was pleased to call her public-spiritedplace its old expression of dreamy-far-see- ness. When he had sat down, Willy Prothingness. “You may say what you like, eroe said to her: "That does n't seem to Marchington," he murmured, "it is a me to be the word, Mrs. Herraday.” thing for any woman to be proud of- to She smiled at him. "No. 'Pride' have been loved-and like that -- by God- would be better. I am very proud indeed, frey Clandon.”
Mr. Protheroe." I next met her at a big dinner at the And after all, in spite of my forebodWilly Protheroes'-a dinner given, I gath- ings, no one seemed to take great excepered, in honor of the publication of the tion to what she had done. book. Cave was there; and Raynham Her way of doing it, added to Cave's with his wife; and Archer, R.A.; a very inexplicable gracefulness of style, may important Shaksperian actor; a duke and have been enough to disarm the criticism duchess, and several minor folk, all joined, of most people, but whatever it was she or assumed to be joined, together by the was to my amazement freely forgiven bond of their admiration for Clandon. I even by those who had at first resented had glanced through the book that day, her act. and I must say I greatly admired Cave's
She was very beautiful, remember, and work. Greater delicacy could hardly have very simple. She had no irritating airs to been found than that with which he ap- set the women against her, and she was proached the subject of the great man's silent enough on most occasions to allow love. What he said hardly filled a page them the comfort of calling her dull. - he allowed the letters to tell their own However all these things may be, it is story- but what he did say was more than a fact that after the publication of the clever, it was beautiful.
book her popularity was increased a hunHe had moreover indicated Mrs. Her- dredfold, and the "worth-while” of all raday by her initials only, referring to her London welcomed her to their houses. as a lady esteemed as much for her mental I made my peace with her after a time and moral qualities as for her great beauty, by writing and saying just that I was and mentioning the drawing-room in her sorry. She was glad, for she is fond of house in Queen Anne's Gate where Clan- her old friends, and never even asked me don had passed so many of the happiest what I was sorry for, but invited us to hours of his lonely life.
dine to meet a very particularly fine asOf course every one knew who she was, sortment of "worth-whiles” of all kinds. and her pictures, Cave told me, had with Throughout the winter she was very