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slipped round to Thallie's face. And the "Poor Uncle Reggie has no eyes left friendliness of Mrs. Ghillamoor's good-by to lose, my dear. Nurse is coming now did not alter the young girl's conviction to take your temperature and tuck you in. that her secret had been discovered by a Let Uncle Reggie have a kiss- unless trick, that in consequence the other was he 's hoarding them these days." her antagonist.
Rosalie expelled her breath in a melSo her first intuition, formed at Cher
ancholy way. bourg, had been right: there was, or had “Here you are, then, Uncle Reggie. been, something between Mrs. Ghilla- No, no; you know better than that! My moor and Reginald? Pleading a head- forehead 's for papa, my right cheek 's for ache, Thallie escaped the remainder of mama, my left cheek 's for you.” her walk.
"How about your lips?” In result, Reginald managed to enter "You grown-up people all smoke, and the Ghillamoors' rooms in the Hotel Alex- tobacco makes my lips burn. Besides, andra at precisely seven o'clock.
that kind of kissing is n't sanitary. Is it, By the fire, wrapped in a Roman shawl Nurse?” of knitted silk, sat a little girl of seven, The nurse, lifting her in the Roman scrawny, colorless, with black ringlets and shawl, bore her away. Mrs. Ghillamoor large, serious eyes.
sat down beside the fire. "Wie gehts, Rosalie," cried Reginald, She was not, and had never been, in in the hearty tone that young men assume love with Reginald. To her mind, he for ailing children.
could no more be compared to Hector “Wie gehts, Uncle Reggie,” the little Ghillamoor than if he had belonged to an girl replied, watching him closely, as if inferior species. She had long since disexpecting him to play some joke on her. covered many of his shortcomings, due, as "Your buttonhole looks lonely. Have a she thought, to the fact that he, unlike posy.”
her husband and herself, was the product “Oh, thanks. And where are the pa- of only a single affluent generation. She ters and maters and potaters, what?" discerned beneath his polish, beneath the
Without the shadow of a smile she an- romanticism that underlay his worldly swered:
manner, a weakness on which no heavy “The paters and maters are dressing. strain had yet been put, a flaw that she The potaters are cooking. That is, yours would have described to Hector as a yelare. Little round bald ones to go with low streak. the sole Marguery, and long brown hairy But it was not necessary to be in love ones with the filets mignons.”
with him in order to feel jealousy. Mrs. “And what are your potaters doing? Ghillamoor, though faithful to her husDigesting?"
band, was not averse to the attentions “I did n't get any.
I only had a of a cavaliere servente-a good-humored, cereal."
presentable young man content to follow Mrs. Ghillamoor entered the parlor in in her train and entertain her on demand. a saffron-colored evening gown, her hair The traditional friend of the family, no freshly dressed, a cigarette between her matter how innocent his status, may somefingers. By some process known only to times find that a heart-affair arranged herself and to her maid she had lost half outside the long-frequented household afa dozen years since afternoon.
fects the amiability of the wife. The little invalid solemnly inspected As sleet lashed the window-panes, she her mother.
regarded Reginald with a mocking smile. “Mama, your hair is different to-night. “A little of your famous Tuscan weaIt 's rather chic, I think. Is that the new ther! By the way, we 're leaving for frock from Poiret? Did you put it on to Sicily to-morrow." make poor Uncle Reggie lose an eye?" “To-morrow!"
"You 'll stop all those American tricks plicated science of modern warfare. And when you 've married her, though?” nothing interested him more than the new
"Oh, then, to be sure," declared Fava, coöperation of aëroplanes and artillery.
“ "she 'll have to learn a few lessons. But But a day of battle might come when that bird is still in the tree.”
the aviators had all been disabled, when "Courage!" Camillo laughed. "Put on volunteers would be needed to soar and a mask and propose at the carnival ball.” spy, in order to save a brigade, a division,
"By the way," Azeglio inquired, "when an army. That would be the chance for the carnival ball comes along, shall we him if he knew how to fly. have to invite them? A box costs a hun- One day he revisited Baron di Campodred lire, you know."
formio. The faces of the three lieutenants grew The Villa Campoformio, in the counlong.
try-side north of Florence, was a white That night, in barracks, Camillo stucco house in a spacious garden of ilexcounted his savings, shrugged, blew out and cypress-trees.
High walls, the lamp, sat down to review his condi- mounted by large stone urns, inclosed the tion.
grounds: one rang a bell in the gate-post, A light from the troopers' dormitories and, after five minutes or so, a man-serpassed over the courtyard and entered his vant in a green baize apron pushed back room, a small white chamber arranged the bolts. Camillo, dismounting, left his with that neat simplicity which distin- horse with this servitor. The baron, clad guishes the born soldier. Here stood his in an old tweed coat, his thin hair blown military chest, there his narrow bed, and, by the breeze, his boots incrusted with
, over his varnished boots all precisely alined loam, was helping the gardener tie up the against the wall, hung his uniforms, hel- rose-bushes with straw. met, revolver, and long, straight sword. Campoformio led Camillo into the Near the window, beside the shaving-shelf, drawing-room, a large apartment hung in
-, were tacked some photographs of his par- yellow brocade, where a sporting widowents and sisters. A table covered with er's tastes had almost eclipsed the influence books, a lamp, an arm-chair, completed his of the dead American wife. Another serproperty.
vant brought vermuth and seltzer, cigarIn the courtyard a trumpet wailed the ettes and cigars. The baron's weathersilenzio. The lights, except one in each beaten face wore a quizzical look as he dormitory, went out. Camillo looked up asked: at the moon, which was struggling, like a "Well, Signore Icarus?" soul in the toils of circumstance, to break Camillo smiled in turn. through the clouds. His face of a young
"It 's true," he confessed, "that I came medieval knight grew firm.
to ask for a little ride in the sky.” "Since I cannot give my children a for- “Oh, I knew you would. It was easy tune, they must have honors, honors, and to see that you 'd never rest till you'd honors. Ah, yes, I 'll have to rise quickly driven a biplane yourself. Am I right?"
' now. If only another war would come !" “I should like to do that, too."
Camillo had not been content with “Good enough! The more of us that learning cavalry tactics and memorizing can fly, the worse we shall beat the Aushistoric problems of strategy. For years,
trians, I take it you're not afraid of as if Italy's future depended upon his heights?” knowledge, he had studied the regimen, "I was born on a mountain." equipment, and field-work of infantry, “Your nerves are all right in these fatal the transportation of ammunition and days of peace?" food, the latest, most intricate forms of Camillo held out his strong brown intrenchment, the conduct of sieges, ballis- hands, palms down, with fingers spread, at tics, powders, projectiles—the whole com- arm's length. They did not move any
more than if carved out of Pavonazzetto lets whirled round and scattered like marble.
chickens below the hawk. The hill "Bravo! A cavalry officer able to do streams, all their secrets revealed, writhed that in Florence must have a constitution
in their channels and wriggled away to of iron-or be related to all the saints !” the south. And ahead, the snow-capped
They rode down to the flying-field. A mountains, so haughty till now in their biplane, propelled by mechanics and field- supremacy, were beginning to crouch, like hands, emerged from its hangar.
ranks of cowardly Titans preparing for Campoformio insisted that Camillo also flight. put on a fleece-lined jacket, an aviator's "Now I know how God feels in his helmet, and gloves. Well muffled, they heavens!” Camillo thought. “At last man climbed the frame, the pilot taking the comes into his own! At last our divinity steering-seat, the passenger the perch be- abases the world !” And, to Campoforhind, against the gasolene-tank. The
mio, who was looking back at him baron raised his hand in the air. А strangely, he gave an exalted, dazed smile. mechanic gave the propeller a whirl and “Are you dizzy?" the pilot demanded, darted away. The engine began a deafen- his howl no more than a sigh in the roar ing clatter. The biplane moved forward of engine and wind. gently, then faster and faster. Camillo “Go on! go on! go on!” cried Camillo. realized that the ground was ten, twenty, The words, driven back into his throat, thirty feet beneath him, and blurred by set him to coughing. the speed of this flight.
The baron put the aëroplane round in When had they left the turf?
a banking curve, descended five hundred Suddenly they shot up a steep hill of feet at one swoop, raced homeward. Florair, ran level, shot up again. The pressure ence, creeping forth over the rim of the of wind seemed to Aatten Camillo's chest; world, expanded from a puddle to a wide, he could hardly expel his breath. The flashing lake of roofs. The hills beyond, oxygen that rushed into his lungs made as the biplane dipped again, emerged from him feel drunk. He wanted to laugh bluish mists, regained their courage, held aloud, to shout in triumph, to shake his up their heads as before. Below appeared fist at the clouds. He felt as if he had pastures that seemed like table-cloths never really lived till this moment.
raised to catch the aëroplane safe in their With a nod, Campoformio bade him folds. And into their folds the machine look down.
descended so softly that one could not On every side the earth was unrolling tell when it left the air and ran on the in billows, hills flattening, highways and ground. villages dwindling, forests melting to A few rods away two hangars appeared. patches of grayish haze. Far behind. Familiar faces surrounded the biplane — through the brilliant, transparent disk pro- the faces of the baron's mechanics. What, duced by the whirling propellers, Camillo they had skimmed the world and unerrsaw Florence shrinking like some magical ingly regained this obscure little spot? carpet of brown and silvery mottles, like Camillo was further amazed to learn Balzac's peau de chagrin, which dimin- that they had flown only thirteen minutes. ished at every wish. The Arno became a Campoformio gave him another keen thread; the heights beyond sank into their glance. valleys, and Mount Cuccioli, slowly crum- "You were dizzy up there?” bling, was lost in the distance.
"Not at all. I felt a bit tipsy at first." Camillo looked ahead. Mount Rinaldi, "Next time you won't notice that. If, Fiesole, Mount Ceceri were bowing be- indeed, you wish to go on?" fore this miracle, this great bird, ridden “Go on! Per Baccho! nothing can stop by men, that swept over them at the alti- me now!”. tude of a thousand feet. The white ham- "Then look here; while you 're at it,
“And none too soon for Rosalie, at not of love, but of loving some one who that.”
was neither rich nor fashionable. In his He flushed.
effort to prove his worldly cultivation, his "Honestly, Paula, I thought Florence aristocratic tastes, he had even insulted would be all right.”
his inamorata with a deprecatory smile. "Never mind. The doctors in Paris At last the yellow streak was showing. warned me.
I had no intention of stop- Instantly Reginald Dux became less deping here. Still, I did n't mind staying sirable even as a cavaliere servente. long enough to learn the reason for all Hector's valet bore in the cocktails. your eloquence. Now I think that the "It 's settled, however, that you won't
“ best thing for you, as well as for Rosalie, start with us to-morrow?" asked Paula, will be a month or two at Taormina.” casually.
His Aush deepened. Shrugging his “But how can I, since I 've asked a lot shoulders, he returned, with an attempt of people to that wretched ball?" at nonchalance:
Ghillamoor dubiously shook his head. "Sorry, but that 'll have to wait a bit. "Give me your word, at least, that as I can't possibly get off to-morrow.” soon as our backs are turned you won't
Hector Ghillamoor lounged into the slop over. You know, if you did, there 'd room, his big hands crammed in the pock- be the very devil. to pay at home. Why, ets of his dinner-jacket, his chest already your mother would probably hold Paula pushing the starched plastron out of his and me responsible !" waistcoat. Mrs. Ghillamoor, with a hint “My dear fellow !” Reginald protested, of bitterness in her voice, informed him: still with his deprecating smile.
“Reggie is n't traveling in the morn- A waiter, bowing in the doorway, aning.”
nounced that dinner was served. At once “Nonsense!"
Mrs. Ghillamoor swept her saffron-col“It 's so, old man. I've tied myself up
ored train into the adjoining room. for some sort of carnival ball."
When Thallie learned that Reginald "What a reason!” was Paula Ghilla- had renounced the Ghillamoors in order moor's comment.
to stay in Florence, a flood of triumph Her husband scowled.
washed away all her bitterness. "Bad business, Reggie. Go slow."
The carnival ball was imminent. In “Go slow at what?"
the Pension Schwandorf there was "Don't bluff. We have your number. merry trying-on of dominoes and masks, You 're stuck on her all right.”
a running to and fro of dressmakers' apIt was on the tip of Reginald's tongue prentices. It was arranged that on the to say, "Kindly mind your own business!” festive night all should meet at the penYet by such a rejoinder he would affront sion at half-past ten o'clock. The ball two well-established dwellers in a world was to be held in the opera-house, the that he had not entered till in his teens- Politeama Fiorentino, only a square away, a world, indeed, wherein he still felt at so carriages would not be needed unless times the fallibility of a novice. His re- it rained. The Magenta Cavalry prayed spect for these patricians of three genera- fervently for clear weather. tions cowed his spirit. The timidity of Their plea was granted. the parvenu changed his defiance to a As the hour approached, Thallie, standlaugh.
ing at the window of her bedroom, im“Oh, come, now," he remonstrated. bibed the balmiest air that she had ever “Hardly as bad as that!"
known in winter. It seemed to her that In Paula Ghillamoor's eyes the flash of spring must have returned for this occatriumph was immediately clouded by con- sion, with all that spring may mean. tempt. Though infatuated, Reginald Looking up at the starry sky, she found evaded owning up to it. He was ashamed the splendor of the world, enhanced by
the tenor of her present thoughts, almost Within a great ring of boxes the dantoo much to bear. With a sigh of rap- cing-floor disappeared beneath promenature she turned to the looking-glass. She ders in eccentric costume. A film of dust, knew that she was beautiful to-night. She produced by
produced by these innumerable feet, saw in her reflection a new alluring qual- dimmed the glitter of the military band ity. Her fresh loveliness seemed more that filled the stage, befogged the clushumanly provocative than previously. tered lights and tricolor decorations, gave Perhaps this was due in part to her attire, to the balconies overhead, where small, of white satin trimmed with tiny rose- grotesque figures chased one another amid buds, contrived in the very latest fashion showers of confetti, a look of unreality. known to Florence, the finest, most sophis- In the adjoining box Thallie and Frosticated dress that she had ever worn. sie were surprised to see "Moloch's wife,'
from Giacinta's tea-room. The lieutenCHAPTER XII
ants, bowing to her, introduced the Good
childs. AN OLD GATE-KEEPER IN A RÔLE OF
She was Princess Tchernitza!
The band burst into a triumphal At eleven o'clock the Goodchilds, Regi- march; the promenaders scampered in all nald, and the three lieutenants set out directions, and there emerged upon the afoot for the Politeama Fiorentino. Thal- floor a procession of nautch-girls, demons, lie's domino and mask were white; Fros- harlequins, giants with the heads of beasts, sie wore green; Aurelius, in order not to
among whom, on an artificial camel, rode put a quietus on the merrymaking, had a handsome woman clad in gauze and muffled himself in a robe of red glazed rhinestones. The crowd made obeisance. muslin. But Reginald, observing that the Ribbons of colored paper curled through officers disdained to hide their uniforms the air. Amid frenzied applause a Roand faces with such frippery, blushed for man general, his classic costume enhanced his lack of savoir-faire, and left his carni- by spectacles and flowing whiskers, scaled val regalia in the pension. Thallie had the camel, embraced the Spirit of the Carnever seen him in full evening dress be- nival. Mr. Goodchild gave a jump. The fore.
victim of this onslaught was the InterApproaching the opera-house, they national Star! found a crowd of poor Florentines watch- “The Tesore!" Azeglio ejaculated. ing the participants arrive. Vehicles And to Fava, with a mischievous smile, crawled forward in a line; cab-doors kept “To-night would be an excellent time to slamming; between banks of heads, that present papa!” wore an unearthly pallor in the rays of Camillo quelled him with a look. arc-lamps, a stream of dominoes, red, Thallie, standing at the box-rail, white, and green, ascended to the door- clapped her hands delightedly. To see ways. Thallie was nearly crushed by a better she removed her mask. Immediluxurious motor-car, at the wheel of ately a group of men gathered on the which Reginald noted Baron di Campo- floor below-clowns, Fiji Islanders, brigformio's chauffeur.
ands, Arabs, mandarins. Sounds of apIn the foyer, one mob besieged the proval rose; a few of the masqueraders cloak-rooms on the left, another, largely ventured florid compliments, and a little composed of rakish-looking fellows in thin fellow, in evening dress, but wearing false noses, seethed round the buffets ex- a pig's head of papier-mâché, made a motending to the right. Straight ahead, a tion as if of yearning to clasp her to his third swarm was climbing a staircase to breast. Lieutenant Fava dashed a glass the ball-room. The Americans and the of champagne into the stranger's eyes. Magenta Cavalry drove upward through
As the latter slunk away to mop his coat, this press and gained their box.
Aurelius let slip an exclamation of dis