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severely prosaic narrative of concrete table as if she saw in imagination the infacts, he had been unable to keep from finite reaches of the ocean, blue, green, me the real inspiration of the whole ad- gray, or black, forever fluid and treachventure. I was prepared to murmur, erous, a sinister superficies beneath ‘Was this the face that launched a which the bodies and achievements of thousand ships?' and so on, as much as men disappeared as into some unknown I could remember of that famous bit of lower region. rant. One gets an exalted notion of Women have many valid reasons for women who are credited with such pow- hating the sea; and this woman seemed ers, who preserve some vestige of the dimly aware of a certain jealousy of magic that can make men‘immortal it that alluring masculine element with a kiss.' Bionda, in a large fur coat which destroys men without any aid and a broad-brimmed hat of black vel- from women at all. Her faith in ships vet, had cloaked her divinity, and the had not suffered shipwreck, so much first impression was Christian rather as foundered. than pagan. 'A tired saint,' I thought, They were all agreed. Serge was of as I sat down after the introduction and the opinion that, if they recovered a looked at the pale bronze hair and the tenth of the bullion which her husband, intelligent gray eyes.
who had a platinum concession in the She had a very subtle and pretty way Asiatic Urals, had consigned to his agent of expressing her appreciation of the in Paris, there would be enough for homage rendered by these diverse mas- all. Serge, in short, became the active culine personalities. Her hands, emerg- spirit of the enterprise. He knew how ing from the heavy fur sleeves, were to obtain funds from mysterious firms white and extremely thin, with several who had quiet offices down secluded allarge rings. She had nothing to say to leys near Copthall Court and Great St. a stranger, which was natural enough, Helens, in London. He made sketches and I sat in silence watching her. She and explained where the stuff was spoke English with musical delibera- stowed, and, presuming the ship to be tion, rolling the r's and hesitating at in such and such a position, what bulktimes in a choice of words, so that one heads had to be penetrated to get into waited with pleasure upon her pauses her. He obtained permission to accomand divined the rhythm of her thoughts. pany the Ouzel on her four-day cruises, She preserved in all its admirable com- and they never had a dull moment. He pleteness that mystery concerning their brought water-colors along, purchased ultimate purpose in the world which is at immense expense from the local exso essential to women in the society of tortioners, and made astonishing drawmen. And it was therefore with some ings of his hosts and their excursion surprise that I heard her enunciate with steamer. He sang songs in a voice like intense feeling, 'Oh, never, never, nev- a musical snarl — songs in obscure diaer!' There was an expression of sad lects, songs in indecent French, songs in finality about it. She was conveying to booming Russian. He danced native them her fixed resolve never to board a Russian dances, and the click of his ship again. Ships had been altogether heels was like a pneumatic calking-tool too much for her. She had been inland at work on a rush job. His large, serious all her life, and her recent catastrophes face, with the long, finely formed nose, had robbed her of her reserves of forti- the sensitive mouth, the sad dark eyes tude. She would remain here in this suddenly illuminated by a beautiful island. She sat staring at the marble smile, the innumerable tiny criss-cross
corrugations above the cheek-bones and the others had a little of their own; which are the marks of life in polar but hers was mostly in an ammunition regions, fascinated the Englishmen.
the Englishmen. chamber on B deck in a foundered warWithout ever admitting it in so many ship, along with the bullion, bound to words, they knew him to be that ex- the Siberian Bank. She was n't worrytremely rare phenomenon, a leader of ing about money at all. She was wishmen on hazardous and lonely quests. ing she was in Marseilles, for her experiWithout being at all certain of his name, ences on ships had n't given her a very which was polysyllabic and rather a strong confidence in their safety. And burden to an Anglo-Saxon larynx, they Serge was anxious to get her to Paris, discovered his character with unerring to her relatives, before what money she accuracy. From the very first they had ran out.' seem to have been conscious of the spiritual aspect of the adventure. They Suddenly she gathered up her gloves listened to the tittle-tattle of the hotel and trinkets and said she must be going. bars and the Casino dances, and re- She had worked hard that day and was frained from comment. The scheme tired. We rose and, as if by precongrew in their minds and preoccupied certed arrangement, divided into two them. Mr. Marks and Heatly spent parties. It was the general rule, I gathdays and nights over strange designs, ered, that the gentlemen who had acted and Heatly himself worked at the bench as her bodyguard for so long should in the port alleyway, between the pad- undertake this nightly escort. We filed dle-box and the engine-room, construct- out into the deserted square, and the ing mechanical monstrosities.
last view we had of them was the small But as weeks went by and Serge con- fur-clad figure tripping away up the tinued to communicate with Paris and empty and romantic street, while over London, it became clear that he was
her towered the three tall soldiers, looknot at all easy in his mind. Some people ing like benevolent brigands in their say, of course, that no Russian is easy dark cloaks. in his mind; but this was an altruistic As we turned toward the Grand anxiety. He judged that it would be Harbor, Captain Gosnell remarked best for them to get on to Paris, where that, if I cared to come, they could Bionda had relatives and he himself show me something I had probably could resume active operations.
never seen before. We descended the And so they started, this time in a stone stairs leading to the Custom French mail-boat bound for Marseilles. House Quay. To see them diving with Our three mine-sweepers saw them off. long strides down those broad, shallow And Captain Gosnell, as we walked up steps, the solitary lamps, burning before the Strada Stretta and emerged upon dim shrines high up, lighting their forms the brilliant Strada Reale, was able to as for some religious mystery, they apconvey a hint of the actual state of peared as men plunging in the grip of affairs.
powerful and diverse emotions. The 'She knew nothing,' he said. “She captain was plain enough to any intelwas still under the impression that there ligence. He desired money that he would always be an endless stream of might maintain his position in England money coming from somebody in Paris a country where it is almost better or London. She was, if you can excuse to lose one's soul than one's position. the word, like a child empress. But
Mr. Marks, beneath the genial falsity there was n't any such stream. Serge of a wig, concealed an implacable fidel
ity to a mechanical ideal. Heatly, on decide how much was reality and how the other hand, was not so easily ana- much merely excited imagination, Mr. lyzed as Emma had suggested. He ap- Marks went down and proceeded to set peared the inarticulate victim of a re- a ladder against the side of the machine. mote and magnificent devotion. He He grasped wheels and levers, he spoke gave the impression of a sort of proud with vehemence to Heatly, who ran to disgust that he should have been thus a switchboard and encased his head afflicted.
in a kind of listening helmet. Then So we came down to the water, and Mr. Marks climbed nimbly through the walked along the quay until we hailed aperture and drew the door to with a a small, broad-beamed steamer, very click. A light appeared within, shining brightly lighted but solitary, so that through the enormously thick glass, Captain Gosnell had to use a silver and showing a fantastic travesty of Mr. whistle that he carried, and the shrill Marks moving about in his steel prison. blast echoed from the high ramparts of Captain Gosnell indicated the triumphthe Castle of Sant' Angelo.
ant perfection of this thing. They were A boat came slowly toward us, and in constant telephonic connection with we went aboard. She was a strange blend him. He could direct a bright beam in of expensive untidiness. Great pumps any direction, and he could animate any and hoses, costly even when purchased one or all of the extraordinary limbs of second-hand, lay red and rusty and the machine. Suppose a ship lay in sand slathered with dry mud about her decks. shale, mud, or gravel. He could dig We descended a foul ladder through an himself under her, dragging a hawser iron scuttle leading to the one great which could be made fast to a float on hold forward. The 'tween-decks were each side. He could fasten on to a given workshops, with lathes, drills, and sav- portion of the hull, drill it, cut it, and in age-looking torch-furnaces. Things that time crawl inside on the caterpillar feet. looked like lawn-mowers afflicted with He had food, hot and cold drinks, and elephantiasis revealed themselves on in- oxygen for two days. He could sit and spection as submersible boring-heads read if he liked, or talk to the people on and cutters that went down into inac- the ship. And quite safe, no matter cessible places, like marine ferrets, and how deep. Wonderful! did execution there.
I dare say it was. It was a fabulousIn the centre, however, suspended looking thing, anyhow, and as Mr. from a beam, was the masterpiece. It Marks, moving like a visible brain in a would be vain to describe the indescrib- transparent skull, started and stopped able. It resembled in a disturbing way his alarming extremities, it struck me a giant spider with its legs curled semi- that humanity was in danger of trancircularly about its body. A formidable scending itself at last. It was soothing domed thing, with circular glass eyes to come up on deck again and see Sant set in it, and a door as of a safe or the Angelo in the moonlight like the backbreech-block of a gun. From this pro- cloth of an Italian opera. It was a com
a truded a number of odd-looking mech- fort to hear that one of the men, who anisms, and below it, flanked by cat ought to have been on duty, was drunk. erpillar belts, on which the contrivance Perhaps he had found the machinery walked with dignity upon the bed of the too powerful for his poor weak human ocean, were large, sharp-bladed cutters, soul and had fled ashore to drown the like steel whorls.
nightmare of mechanism in liquor. One While I gazed at this, endeavoring to could imagine the men-at-arms, whose
duty it was to watch from those stone nouncement board bore the legend ‘Totowers, slipping out of some newly in- night — Faust.' vented corselet with a jangle and clang, You want tea ?' said the boy, with a and stealing away in an old leather forward dart of his head, like an injerkin, only half laced, to make a night quisitive bird. of it.
I nodded. Not that there was anything funda- "Toast?' mentally at odds with romance in this I nodded again. 'I thought you were extraordinary adventure into deep wa- at the hotel,' I remarked. ters, I mused, as I lay in my vast cham- 'Only in the evenings,' he explained, ber that night. Knights in armor, releas- lifting his tray. “You want cakes, too?' ing virgin forces of wealth buried in the I nodded again, and he seemed to apocean. Heatly was moving about in the prove of my catholic taste. A low voice next room, smoking a cigarette.
said, 'Karl!'and he hurried down out of ‘What does she do for a living?' I sight. asked.
I was sitting there munching a bun He came and stood in the doorway and enjoying some really well-made tea in his pajamas. He blew a thread of (with lemon), and watching a number of tobacco from his lips.
cheerful well-dressed people emerging ‘She keeps a tea-shop near the Opera from the theatre, when something causHouse,' he said. "We don't go there; ed me to look round, and I saw the face knowing her as we do, it would n't be of Bionda just above the floor. She the right thing.'
was standing at a turn in the stair, re‘But I can, I suppose,' I suggested. garding me attentively. I rose, and she
‘Yes, you can, I suppose,' he as- came on up. sented from somewhere within his room. 'I thought,' she said without raising
You don't object, of course?' I went her eyes, 'that I had seen you before. on.
Have you everything you wish?' The light went out.
‘Everything except someone to talk
to,' I said. VII
She raised her eyes with a serious ex
pression in them. 'I will talk if you Wedged in between Lanceolotte's wish,' she said gravely. music-shop and Marcus's emporium of 'Do sit down,'I begged. Maltese bijouterie I found a modest door I wished to sit down myself, for the and window. In the latter was a simple window was low. She complied. card with the word TEAS in large print. 'I am a friend of Mr. Heatly,'I went Below it was a samovar, and a couple of table centres made of the local lace. Her face lighted up. 'He is a very
'Can I go upstairs?' I asked the little nice man,' she said, laughing. 'He likes boy with the gray eyes and freckled me very much. He told me he was nose; and he smiled and nodded with going to look after me for the rest of delightful friendliness.
my life. He makes me laugh very ‘Then I will,' I said; and he rushed much. You like him?' up in front of me.
'I used to be on the same ship with There was nobody there. He cleared him,' I said; 'years ago, before he was a table by the low window. Across the married.' street was the broad and beautiful fa- 'Ah, yes, before he was married. I cade of the Opera House. The an- see. Now you go on a ship again?'
"When she arrives from Odessa.' called for tea. The little boy came up
'From - She looked hard at me. to take their order, and I paid him and Perhaps there will be news, if she went out. comes from Odessa.'
Our intimacy increased, of course, as Maybe.' (She sighed.) 'You have the days passed, and I began to wonhad no news, then, since the Revolu- der whether or not I too was about to tion?'
pass under the spell and devote my life 'Nothing. Not one single word. In to the amelioration of her destiny. If there, it is all dark. When your ship my ship went back to Odessa, I would comes, there will be passengers, no?' be the bearer of messages, an agent of
Ah, I could n't say,' I replied. “We inquiry seeking news of a dim concesmust wait. If there are any, I will let sionnaire in the Asiatic Urals. I made you know.'
extensive promises, chicfly because I “Thank you.' Her gaze wandered was pretty sure my ship would probacross the street. They have finished ably go somewhere else — Bizerta or the play. What do you call when they Tunis. sing — before?'
The simple sailor man in time devel'A rehearsal, you mean.'
ops a species of simple cunning, to pro“Yes. Well, they have finished. There tect himself from being too oppressively is Mephistopheles coming out now.' exploited. But it is practically imposShe nodded toward a tall gentleman sible to rid a woman of the illusion that in tweeds, who was smoking a cigarette she is imposing upon a man. Even and swinging a cane on the upper ter- Emma thought it well to warn me of race. 'He waits for Margarita. There my danger. She heard rumors about she is.'
that woman. Where had she got the A robust creature emerged, putting money to start her tea-shop, eh? And on long gloves, and the two descended when all the officers had gone home, to the sidewalk. Bionda laughed. where would she get customers? And
‘Does Margarita usually walk out so on. with Mephisto?' I asked.
These questions did not preoccupy 'Oh, they are married,' she informed Bionda herself, however. She was sad, me with a whimsical grimace, and very but her sadness was the inevitable rehappy.'
sult of delightful memories. Her life What are you?' I demanded abrupt- had been full and animated; and it was ly. ‘Not a Slav, I am sure.'
only natural, since fate had left her ‘Me? No, I am a Bohemian,' she stranded on a pleasant island, that she said.
should indulge her desire for retrospect ‘How appropriate! How exquisitely before rousing to do herself full justice appropriate!' I murmured.
in the new environment. The possibil‘From Prague,' she added, sighing a ity of regaining the wealth that had been little.
lost did not seem to interest her at all. “An enemy?' (She nodded.) ‘But if She never spoke of the expedition of you will only consider yourself Czecho- Captain Gosnell and his fellow advenslovak — 'I suggested.
turers. It seemed doubtful at times She made a gesture of dissent and whether she understood anything at all rose. 'Let me know when your ship about it. A shrug, and she changed the comes in,' she said; and I promised. subject.
Three young naval lieutenants in And then one day I was stopped by tennis undress came up the stairs and 'two of the Russian officers as they came