Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

learned they were Mr. Hector Ghilla- child, and three or four servants. But moor and Mr. Reginald Dux, who, with where had they kept themselves all this Mr. Ghillamoor's wife and child, occu- time? pied the “royal suite.”

"Ah," drawled one of the poker-play“And may one ask,” he mildly inquired, ers, viciously dealing the cards, "you "what are these young gentlemen's voca- forget, sir, that if those kinds of folks tions?"

were to mingle with us, we might give The card-players looked at him in 'em the pip or something." amazement till one exploded :

"I pass," said another. "As for them, "Ha, ha! That 's a good one! A neat I guess there is n't a soul on board that little knock, eh, boys?"

they 've spoken to outside the stewards." Hector Ghillamoor was a herculean, “Kindly try to dole me three queens swarthy young man with the low, sloping this time. Nor what 's more, that they forehead, short nose, and heavy jaw of a will speak to while this here galumping gladiator. His small eyes, sunken behind caravel sails the sea.” his high cheek-bones, habitually looked But the following night- the last night forth with a calm disdain. When he out of sight of land-it came about that smiled there was something contemptuous Reginald Dux spoke to Thallie. about his large mouth. But he had, all Alone she had climbed to the boat-deck the same, a name for the utmost good- to say good night to the ocean. She found nature in his own circle, where he lived a secluded spot well forward, beside a a life of strenuous pleasure-seeking and life-boat. Leaning over the rail, she sport. He was said to be very well off looked out at the horizon, where sky was -even wealthier than Reginald Dux. distinguished from sea by the clear blue

The latter, younger than Hector Ghil- twinkle of stars. On the morrow the lamoor, was about twenty-five years old. mystery of that level union of air and Not so tall, more nearly slight, he showed water would be dispelled: the strange a fair skin. In his agreeable face the shores would loom forth; the long-sought hauteur due to his aquiline nose and future, with all its promises, would begin drooping eyelids was counteracted by the to merge into the present. Perhaps, at easy-going curve of his lips. Now, when the same time, all the anticipations of girlhe noticed the interest he had excited, hood would change to experience. those lips of his began to twitch with an She was startled by a creaking sound irrepressible smile, not so much of amuse- that issued from the life-boat above her. ment as from the stirring of yanity. A young man in a dinner-jacket, legs

The truth is, his father had not become swinging over the gunwale, face vague in a millionaire till the boy was in his teens, the starlight, stared down at her in surso to-day the latter could hardly help be- prise. ing flattered when he imagined any one "I beg your pardon!” saying, "That is the socially prominent, His voice was rather high and throaty; the rich, young Reginald Dux." These he clipped short his words even while prosensations, however, were not entirely

not entirely nouncing them precisely; his utterance owing to snobbishness. At heart he was was easy, amiable, and somehow unusual. still so sensitive to public opinion that "I must have fallen asleep,” he conany approbative attention sent through fessed. “These boat-covers make such him a warm glow. In fact, since child- jolly hammocks." hood had tried to leave him, also, a leg- Had he dropped from the sky? With acy of emotionalism, he might, with an- a nervous laugh, she risked the pleasantry: other father, have been an actor.

“Are you a stowaway?" Mr. Goodchild wondered if he had not “Give you my word, I should n't have seen those two come aboard at New York been if I'd known about you." with a willowy young woman, a pretty Sliding down to the deck, leaning gracefully against a davit, he smiled at which now and then firtatiousness threather, half cavalier, half mischievous boy. ened to show, his good looks, and attire,

"Why did n't you wander up here the and debonair carriage that neatly escaped first part of the trip?”

a swagger, all ended by fascinating Thal"The first part of the trip," Thallie lie. She was even pleased when he began stammered, “I was ill.” And at once she to reveal a certain good-natured condefelt herself blushing.

scension of manner. A companion so "Ouch! So was I. And that 's one winning, in such romantic surroundings! more overrated pastime, is n't it? But Half closing her eyes, she found it quite when a fellow tries to murder his con- natural to picture a honeymoon voyage stitution the last night ashore, he can't illumined by stars like these, with a lover complain if he has to pay toll to Mr. as fine as this young man by her side, Wave.” Lighting a cigarette, he stared whose name she did not know. at her across the flaming match. “By Leaning against the rail, they stared George, what bully hair! Am I still out over the waves. asleep? Mind pinching me?"

"Good old Nature!” he said. "She “Good night,” gasped Thallie, and sets the stage rather well to-night, what?" turned to flee.

She felt sure this careless speech masked “Oh, I say, if you go down now, you '11 a sentimentalism intensely congenial to break up the whole party! Let 's stay her own. awake another hour and ruin our health. "The sea is so wonderful!" she sighed. Let 's pace the quarter-deck with knitted "Right!" brows. “Damn the torpedoes!' and all “When I think of all the marvelous that sort of thing, what? Cigarette ?" things that are waiting for us off there!" "No, thanks."

"Paris, eh? Rue de la Paix, and all "Tango?”

that?” “N-no.”

"Think of the Louvre!" “Why so cruel? We might have a “Oh, so you 're keen on art?" quiet cavort up here and take turns at “I 'm going to be a painter myself.” whistling the tune. I do need the ex- "Really? Paint my portrait?" ercise.”

"Some day, perhaps." "I never met any one like you in my

"Don't forget." life!"

"I won't." A silence. “And now I "Affability, that 's wot it is. No 'arm,

must go." just affability. Come on; let's romp “We 'll have the moon in a minute.” about while we 're still young."

He put his hand over hers, which lay With a reluctance at least half-genu- on the rail, and suddenly his face grew ine, with a vague trepidation, a feeling serious, nearly solemn. His teasing, almost like guilt, she began to stroll with trifling impulses shredded away. The him round the boat-deck.

worldly difference between them, which He soon made her laugh again. He he had long since divined, which even patronized the stars, pretended to find Thallie was beginning to realize, ceased constellations with ridiculous names, all at once to exist, as the furniture of a asked her if she would like him to fit the splendid room disappears with the modship's propellers to a pontoon and take est hat on the table when the light is her aëroplaning round Venus. Demand- blown out. For that instant they were ing where she was going to stay in Paris, simply maiden and youth contemplating he threatened to bring the band from each other in the starlit solitude with the Maxime's to play every night under her delicate, swift, half-shy avidity of spring. window. He, for his part, was going to "Good night,” she said breathlessly, remain in Europe till he got bored.

and ran down the ladder. But on the His jests, his informality, through promenade-deck, repenting of that quick

Alight, she wondered if she had offended They descended the ladder together. him.

The tender bore them off toward the In the sisters' small cabin Thallie went shore. They gazed back with a vague silently to bed. A long while she lay affection at the great ship that had awake in her narrow upper berth, un- brought them safe over the sea, that they soothed by the gentle lift of the ship or saw now for the first time in perspective. the soft, steady breathing of Aglaia and They drew in to the quay, and just as the Frossie. Her wide-open eyes again visu- hawsers curled through the air, Thalia alized his face; his careless, warm-toned perceived, at the other end of the tender, speech sounded still in her ears. Every her boat-deck friend. trivial remark she recalled and considered ; He was with a big, sulky-looking young and in his countenance, his voice, his man, a pretty little girl, and a smart-lookwords, she could find not the slightest ing lady. The sunshine seemed less bright faw. Who was he? Why had she met as Thallie observed that slender woman him only to-night? Would she see him of twenty-eight, on whose face petulance to-morrow, in Paris, elsewhere, too? She was gradually eclipsed by a smile. It was believed she would see him again many he who was making her laugh! Worse times. She fell asleep at last with a smile still, he was so intent on keeping her on her lips.

laughing that never once did he turn his Next morning sea-gulls were thick head ! astern; the sky-line was threaded with In the scramble off the boat, through tiny sails; above the horizon dark smoke the custom-house, into the train, she lost formed diagonal, intersecting lines. The him again. And even in the station at ship's isolation was ended.

Paris he failed to pass by with the crowd. At last they drew in to Plymouth- “But he knows where we 're going to white cliffs, budding green, a climbing stay." town of quaint aspect; then off again, up They were going to stay at an old the channel, toward France.

hotel near the Gare St. Lazare. Mme. Cherbourg! The tender, piled high Linkow, before setting out to visit friends with trunks, lay alongside the ship. From in Versailles, herself arranged their acacross the waves breakwaters reached commodations. out, as if to embrace and draw in the voy- "And so, if we need each other no more agers toward the low-lying city between for a little, auf wiedersehen!" She gave them. The Goodchild family, staring each of the girls a resounding kiss on the and pointing, inhaled with delight the cheek, clasped Mr. Goodchild's hand, air of this new land, that seemed to them sailed out to her taxicab, and was gone. like the air of another world. But amid “How good she is! What would we the bustling passengers Thallie had not have done without her!" discerned the young man of the boat-deck. "Well, anyway, here we are.”

Mme. Linkow appeared, more majestic “Here we are in Paris !” than ever in her shore-going costume, They went down to dinner a-flutter, a-rustle with silk, a-jingle with golden still feeling at every step the motion of trinkets, her maid and a queue of heavily- the ship. laden stewards trailing behind. When That hotel maintained rather mustily she saw Aurelius and the three Graces the atmosphere of the Third Empire. In her eyes grew soft, as who should think: its public parlors, still furnished with “Poor innocents! It is I who must see black walnut and plush, even the chandethem safe in some nest at Paris to-night!" liers recalled a period of tasteless AamShe approached them with her dazzling, boyance. And the courtesy of grave, maternal smile.

elderly servants completed the suggestion “So, you were waiting for me? How of an old palace, once given up to crinonice of you!”

line balls, now going to seed.

The table d'hôte room was occupied by May breeze, penetrated the sisters' hearts, commercial travelers from Belgium and and filled all three with an indefinable Germany, bourgeois families, provincial exuberance. bridal couples. Nearly all wore napkins To-morrow! To-morrow! under their chins, and chased the rich A week went by, in which they blunsauces round their plates with a crust. dered all over Paris. But the young man Rising, at last, with congested, cheerful of the boat-deck failed to appear. faces, they marched out, picking their Why had he never called? Perhaps he teeth.

was off on some excursion, or ill? Before Finally, replete themselves, the Good- long they might take up their own travels childs donned hats and wraps, to brave again without having seen him at all! the strange thoroughfares.

One morning when they had been in Through the shadows of Rue Auber Paris a fortnight their breakfast talk deloomed the opera-house: Aglaia dreamed veloped that very topic. of success. As the Louvre raised its Their repast-they were not inured to long rows of window-panes beside the coffee and rolls alone-had reached the Seine, Thallie thought of the masterpieces marmalade-stage. The French phrasehidden there, which she was to emulate. book lay open beside the beefsteak platter; And when, from a bridge, they peered Frossie was starting the daily round of across misty water at the dim bulk of sentences : Notre Dame, Euphrosyne saw herself "Good-day, Monsieur. Is it that one writing romances in which the heroics can buy here of gloves, of silk, of lingerie, of Esmeralda were far surpassed.

of shoes American?” Aurelius, on the other hand, kept won- “If madame will give herself the pain dering if he was awake. “It 's a fact: to step by there." this is Paris! That shadow is the Isle of "Mademoiselle, this madame desires of the City, where Lutetia was born! Be- gloves, of silk, of lingerie, of shoes Amerhind me is the very Place de la Concorde, ican—" where the guillotine cut off the head of "And what good," Aglaia demanded Louis XVI!" And, after a while, in- suddenly, "will all this do us in Italy?" evitably, “But why must all this come too A look of uneasiness crossed Mr. Goodlate for her to share it?" And then, “But child's face. New habits to fathom, new who knows that she does not share it tongues to struggle with, new railroads, that she is not here to-night close by our custom-houses, hotel tariffs, and touts! side?" A breath of air stirred his locks, Thallie faltered: and the mist, exhaled from the Seine, “But we have n't finished here." seemed to curl along the parapet like the “Do you expect," Aglaia asked, "to flowing robes of an immaterial presence. check off every cobblestone ?"

Back in their rooms, attired for bed, "I don't care; I 've always had a kind yet sure that sleep was not to be won for of foreboding about the Italians. Folks hours, the three Graces looked down from say they 're so dangerous." their windows upon the street. Before “Plenty of others go to Italy and live the café across the way the terrace was through it. Besides, everybody seems to alive with people. The taxicabs continued agree the best music-teachers are there." to bear jolly parties here and there to un- “Oh, of course, if your music 's the known pleasures.

only thing in this family!" "Where is he to-night?" wondered "Children, children!" Thallie.

"What do you say, Frossie?” Aglaia But gradually the vibrations from a inquired. myriad minds, the concerted supreme im- “I'd just as soon. I 've got enough pulses of that city, the influence of Paris, atmosphere out of Paris to do my novel stole in through the windows with the about King Henry of Navarre."

[ocr errors]

Thallie's lower lip quivered.

In the evening they went to the Théâ"It makes no difference to either of you tre Français. Mounet-Sully played in that Paris is the center of painting for the "Cdipus,” but not, according to Mr. whole world !"

Goodchild, in the true classic manner. “Then why do so many artists go to Greek drama, the father maintained, was Florence, for instance ?"

conceived in a spirit of lofty impersonality. “Florence! I know I shall hate it." The cothurni and the mask effaced the

"You 'll be much better able to judge actor, and what Athenian audience would about that at first-hand,” Aglaia replied, have stood the spectacle of an Edipus her emerald eyes unnaturally serene. with bleeding eye-sockets! Then Aure

Thallie hid her face against Mr. Good- lius dived head-foremost into Greek literchild's shiny house-jacket. Quickly his

ature.

He spoke of metres, -elegiac, arm went round her shoulder, his heart lyric, iambic, - the Dorian and the Æoturned over: for in that instant it seemed lian schools, the religious origins of Helto him that another, long since lost, had

lenic verse.

But his daughters, formerly laid her well-remembered cheek on his quick to respond to such words, were no breast.

longer listening. Their attention was "Aggie, if the poor child enjoys Paris riveted on the boxes, where ladies of title,

in full toilet and wearing perukes of From Thallie, in muffled tones:

ultra-marine and mauve, lowered their “I don't enjoy it. I have n't enjoyed eyes at the compliments of dashing young one minute of it yet. Nothing happens attachés of the embassies. the way I want it to! And just because Still Thallie's gaze, preoccupied, trouI 'm the youngest - "

bled, went roaming for a young man “My dears," said Mr. Goodchild, “I whose name she did not know. Somethink we may very easily stay here a little times she felt a swift, hot thrill beneath while longer."

her heart; her eyes flashed through the Thallie gave him a hug of gratitude. crowds with the terrified, blissful convicThere fell a silence pervaded by surprise. tion, "At last!” Then, seeing more It had not occurred to the sisters that the clearly, she realized it was only another last word might lie with their father. who by some trick of gesture or dress had So they stayed on in Paris.

suggested him. All her fancies of how Thallie made a pretense, at first, of go- they would meet again, what he would ing every day to the Louvre. Drifting say, what she would say in reply, were into that cool, white, echoing place, she scattered like thistle-down before a chill passed the marbles and bronzes, climbed blast. She followed her sisters with a the grand staircase, at last reached the lassitude that presently extended to them. picture-gallery. She let her eyes rest on They recalled Ohio, where lilac was Perugino's "Madonna," on Leonardo's Aowering now.

flowering now. They remembered the "Belle Ferronnière," on Titian's “En- studio, the theatricals of Saturday night. tombment." She tried to analyze the ele. They stepped into a shop, and sent off ments of those hues while making with some picture post-cards to the Inchkins her hand little gestures in imitation of and Dr. Numble. brush-strokes. But all the rest of the And still Mme. Linkow, whom they paintings seemed to crowd nearer, to had been so proud to call their friend, press their details on her sight with an ignored them. insupportable weight. She went off, list- “After all,” said Aglaia, with a bitter less, to learn how Velasquez had spread smile, "why should that surprise us? She his thin pigments. But, walking close to has the artistic temperament. We amused the windows, she saw young men

in her till we ceased to be a novelty. But, spring suits sauntering through the gar- anyway, she might have heard me sing dens.

and given me some advice."

« AnkstesnisTęsti »