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“It's a fact. Somehow or other I know that her hands lying quietly there could n't get hold of myself; never felt in her lap had become suddenly like ice. such a blank fool in all my life before." He began again:

“What does it matter? Come and sit “I want you to know that you were down here beside me. Tell me, you are right, absolutely right all along when glad to see me, Kenneth?” Something you insisted my duty was to Charlotte of all the yearning of those years was and the children. I saw it myself after in Cynthia's voice.

you
had
gone.

Thank God it was n't too "Why, of course," he said heartily. late! You-you see what I mean, don't "Always glad to see old friends." He you, Cynthia?” She waited so long to looked around the room. “By Jove! answer he hurried on: “I must have this does look familiar! I have n't been been mad; that 's the only way I can over here since you left. Did n't like account for it. After it was all over, I that rotten bounder who took the place; told Charlotte. Charlotte was a fine played the worst golf I ever saw.” woman, Cynthia."

And although quiet seemed creeping Cynthia spoke now and looked at up all around her heart, Cynthia forced him. herself to answer lightly:

You told Charlotte when—when it “That damned him, of course."

was all over?He squared around again and looked “Yes, I told her of my mad infatuaat her.

tion for you. I told her the attitude you “Why did n't you let me know you had taken,—what you said about her were coming home?” he demanded. and the children,-and then your going

Ah, that was it-he did n't like this away so suddenly. I told her everysurprise. Manlike, he would make her thing." The man's voice actually suffer for it. The relief of it brought the trembled. blood back to her face.

He had told Charlotte, while she “Would it have made so much differ- but Cynthia could not think. ence to you, Kenneth?” she asked softly. “You understand, don't you, Cyn

"Why, yes; I might have helped put thia?” he asked again. “I'm willing to the place in shape for you. There must take all the blame; I did take it." have been quite a lot-"

Blame? Where had there been any "No; thank you just the same. It blame? And then she did understand. was no trouble.” She got up suddenly “Yes,” she said slowly, “I understand and tugged at the bell-cord. “What will you, Kenneth-perfectly." you have to drink, Kenneth? Honora And she did understand. She undercan still make a mint cup.”

stood what his attitude this morning “By Jove! yes; have n't had one in the should have prepared her for; but, dear Lord knows when."

God, was it for this she had come home So she gave the order and came back; at last? She got up, and went to stand but she did not take her old seat. She by an open window. She felt she must sat down across from him, and they breathe again. Back of her he went on: struggled to find something to say to “If you had gone with me when I each other.

wanted you to, it would have meant a Honora came in presently and left smash. We were almost certain to have them alone together once more.

been miserable after a little. But, "There's something I want to tell thanks to you, we were saved all that. you, Cynthia," he said when he had Your common sense saved us; you even proved to his own' satisfaction that went away without letting me know. Honora's hand had not lost its cunning. It was a good thing, too, because I “Yes?"

would have been mad enough to have He cleared his throat.

stopped you, or at least to have tried to "It's this-about us, you know- do it. But, as it was, the whole thing and-and Charlotte He stopped

blew over. I don't think any one ever and looked at her. He wished she would suspected unless it was Honora." help him out, but she sat very still, and “You have no cause for alarm.” Cynof course there was no way he could thia's voice came level and calm.

"And I have the consolation of know- danced half the night through with ing that I did my duty; I made Charlotte lonesome, homesick boys, the endless happy."

dishes she had washed, and the miles of Was it a huge joke? Was this the floors she had swept after that dancing Kenneth she knew? He had the conso- was through. No, she had not been at lation of knowing he had made Charlotte her post at nine o'clock. But she told happy! Would n't he sweep her up in him none of this. Somehow she could another moment and kiss her numb n't imagine herself telling this Kenneth heart back to life! But no; he went on: anything.

"Sometimes I even wished I knew He went home presently, not the way where you were, so I could write and tell he had come, but out through the front you to come home. Charlotte even sug- door. It was more fitting, she thought, gested it once

as she accompanied him. Then she “Please__” she said, and came back came back and looked at her room. and sat down, facing him. He stared at It had changed. In just that little her uncertainly while her eyes searched while it had changed forever.

It was his face.

only an old room, rather dull and faded. He cleared his throat again and set The hangings should be done over, she the empty glass he held down on a little noted, with a detached sort of feeling. table, drew an immaculate handker- No, there was nothing there that she chief from his pocket, and wiped his remembered, nothing of what she had hands. Decidedly it was time to change seen that morning when she had filled it the subject.

with flowers. Something had gone from “It seems like old times to have you it; something had gone from her, too. back-" He stopped and frowned. She felt it a curious lack. That was a false note. Old times still Just there it was he had stood and meant the thing they had just been held her in his arms when the final madtalking about. “I mean when Waring ness came -the madness they had both was living, and we played bridge over fought so long. She had not time to here in the evening, you and Waring and build a defense; and, then, she loved Charlotte and I.”

him. There was no being false to that. With more curiosity than any other Yes, it was there she had told him in feeling, for every other feeling was dead, answer to his eager questions. They Cynthia looked at him.

had been gloriously happy for a little. Does it?" she said. Was that really Perhaps it was infatuation; perhaps he what this room meant to him, all it was right, after all. Certainly it had meant, when it was here he had held her swept them both away. And yet inin his arms and told her he loved her and fatuation did not last through years, begged her to go with him?

and, when it was done, make one suffer “You were in France, were n't you?” as she was suffering now. No, it was

“Yes,” she said; “I was in a canteen love she had given him, and love of at Bar-le-Duc.” She could hardly turn which he had just robbed her. her eyes away from him; he fascinated And did he think her love nothing her.

that he had not taken it into account? He nodded his head, ponderously. "I And she had not got over it; she had not thought I heard it somewhere or other. tried. She had treasured the fine frenzy I was in Washington myself. They of it all those years in the way women made a lot of fun of us; called us 'swivel- do; so that men had said in far-away chair majors'-all that sort of thing. India or Italy, wherever she had hapBut it was no joke, I can tell you; I was pened to be, “The beautiful Mrs. Waring at my desk every morning at nine has a light in her eyes." They had said o'clock!" He said it with pride.

that, and gone softly when they had Cynthia remembered, as she listened seen it. When Charlotte had died it had to him, that she had not been at her taken all of her strength to keep from post at nine o'clock every morning. running home, just as it had taken all of She remembered sickly the ache of her her strength to go in the first place. bruised and swollen feet after she had But no, she had waited never doubting.

was

Love had grown into something akin to known how to supply that comfort, the an anchorite's hair shirt, something that children. Oh, yes, she could see it flagellated, but gave ecstasy.

through all the years. He was right. She had reasoned for And this was the man who swore to them both and gone away.

Hers had love her always. There never been the final decision; but now, to in- woman loved as she was loved, so he had sult her with this! Infatuation he had said. He would storm high heaven for called it—something to apologize for. To her, go through hell. Yes, but not laud her for the things her reason had through years of ease. He could not do impelled her to do, not her heart! And that. Hell would be an adventure, but he had told Charlotte when it was comfort was a soporific warranted to dull all over. He had not even been true the highest passion. to her memory. And Charlotte had She remembered now all the fine orthodied, he said, admiring her; but she dox things she had talked about his knew Charlotte. It was much more duty, his home. Only men lose their realikely Charlotte had died feeling smugly son in times like these and are unable to sorry for her.

Oh, yes, she knew see the other side; it had been left for her Charlotte!

to see it, to make the sacrifice and go. The absolute safety of it for him, due And now this was the end. first to one woman's renunciation of her very soul and to another's generosity! In return he had pleaded love. Laws And yet not generosity. There was were not made for such as he and she, he nothing generous in permitting conven- had said. Their love transcended everytions to fight one's battles. Charlotte thing. Prove it, go away with him. had known she had held all the cards He was willing to give everything he except one, and as years had gone by, possessed for her. They must go. They she had slowly, inexorably destroyed would go to Egypt Egypt in the purple that one.

She had made it just hard dusk, the Nile, Shepherd's Hotel at enough for him to realize his sin and Cairo, where they would sit with their repent. He had achieved peace through coffee after dinner and watch the world absolution, and then came the begin- pass by. He had held her in his arms ning of the padding. Charlotte had and talked of Egypt.

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Suddenly Cynthia laughed. She had did not suffer any more; there was just never been to Egypt. With all her going a dull pain where the agony had been. up and down the world she had never And as she saw more of him, listened to been there. She was saving it for the his platitudes, there was born a humor of last-for him. Often when she had seen it all. She tried to picture his bewilderits sun-scorched coast dim from the ment if he but knew what was going on deck of her steamer plowing up and behind her cool detachment, if he knew down the Mediterranean, she had looked that she thought he had no soul, that he and exulted. "Some day!" she whis- stood for death and stupidity and stagpered to it. So she had waited for it. nation. What would he say if she told Together they would live and dream its him suddenly that his life was merely a everlasting age-old romance. She did matter of digestion? not know how or when it would come, And then she wondered if she could what would be the circumstance; she have saved him. This, too, she came to only knew if she were true, if she be- doubt in time. His love, if it had been lieved and waited, it would come at last. love even in the beginning, had been due

But now love was dead. There was to her actual bodily presence; there had nothing to wait for any longer. She been nothing fine or ennobling about it. would never see Egypt, never! She She saw it clearly now. would flee from it as from the plague. His pride in the children suffocated "Egypt!" she whispered; and sobs came, her. She never saw them unless she dry shakings of her whole body. What a came upon them by accident. She refool she had been! What a simple fool! membered Alix as a fat, roly-poly baby To think that love would last! To feed of four or five and Ken a noisy youngster on dreams for so long! Why had she not a few years older. It was strange to see taken the gift when it was offered? Once them so nearly grown. And, she noticed, in a lifetime, she told herself, only once; rather amused by it, that Alix had and she had thrown the glory away! Charlotte's round, moon-like face and

As days went by she walked or drove, the same small, selfish mouth. Ken bore or sat in her garden and looked with no resemblance to his mother. He much dulled heart. It seemed that life was resembled the Kenneth she had first over. Was there anything worth going known when she had married and come on for? She came to realize the terrible to live next door. He even possessed waste of those past years. The realiza- the same trick of pushing back that tion was agony. She came to resent it. tumbling lock of hair which fell down She was thirty-four. Soon she would be his forehead at unexpected intervals. old, and never know anything but a She came upon him one day on the promise of happiness.

little beach which bound the two houses And then again habit was too strong. on the sound side. He was lying flat on All this was not true; the old Kenneth his back in the shade of a rock, his arms was there, waiting around the corner of folded under his head, and a book, its the world for her. But he came and sat, pages ruffling in the wind, beside him. with his fat, black cigars, and talked of She would have passed on; but at the town and the children and his golf. And sight of her he jumped to his feet and it was n't the Kenneth she had known; snatched the little book out of sight. he was dead. This was a prosperous, Cynthia was faintly amused. She middle-aged, rather dull person, well sat stopped, and lowered her parasol. isfied with himself, a credit to his club, "Poetry, Ken?" she inquired, with a the perfect citizen. He had to be care- little smile. ful what he ate; he had a blood pressure. The color came under his dark skin, He discussed it as though it were a and he hung his head. patent of respectability.

She folded the little parasol and sank They sat and talked of the weather, down on the sand. a school for Alix next autumn, and "Let me see!" she commanded, holdwhether Ken should be allowed to go in ing out her hand. for law, as he wished. She kept her eyes The boy brought the book to light, and hands busy with fine sewing. She suffering tortures meanwhile. Cynthia

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had expected Tennyson, or at the very "Can you see dad?” he went on presworst Robert Service.

ently. “Why, it 's Verlaine!” she said in some Cynthia nodded her head; yes, she surprise.

could see him. "Yes," he replied, still more embar- “He 'll jolly well throw a fit. But I rassed.

mean to do it. This law course is only a She opened the little book and read stall. It 'll do to start with; it 's better half aloud to herself and half to him, than any other profession for my pur“Clair de Lune”:

pose. I 've-I 've thought it all out,

and when I 'm free_” His voice died Your soul is as a moonlit landscape fair, away completely. He had forgotten she Peopled with maskers delicate and dim, was there. He was in the future, dreamThat play on lutes and dance and have an air ing. Of being sad in their fantastic trim.

KENNETH watched their growing intiWHEN she had done, she handed it back macy with heavy amusement. One to him. All the amusement had gone night she dined with them; it was her out of her face. “I have a fuller edi- weekly custom. She refused Kenneth's tion,” she told him. "Perhaps you escort home, saying that Ken would go, would like to see it sometime."

that he wanted a book he had left there “It 's awfully good of you,” the boy earlier in the day. And the older Kenstammered.

neth had flung one arm around the “Oh, no." She rose to her feet. boy's shoulders and said laughingly: “Thank you, Kenneth.” And she was Do you know, Cynthia, I believe this gone, leaving the boy to stare after her youngster of mine is in love with you!" wonderingly.

And Cynthia, with one look at the And that was the beginning of her boy's stricken eyes, had mastered an friendship with him. All through the almost insane desire to bury her nails in summer months they were much to- the man's fat, amused face. But she gether. He had the soul of a poet, she turned away, and made no reply beyond: discovered, this shy boy, with his tum- "Are you coming, Ken?" bling dark hair and ardent blue eyes. He went with her to her own front The discovery came slowly as he yielded door and did not speak a word. up to her quick sympathy his dreams Then for days she did not see him. and hopes, all his boyish fancies. They Finally she sent for him. talked about all the dear, old lovely “I don't think you 're treating me things—things she had once believed in. very well, Ken," she said lightly. That Would he lose it, this love of beauty and was the tone she meant to take about of the things one could not touch with the whole thing. the hands? Would the moon come to He looked at her, but did not answer. mean a planet necessary to the solar “One must have one's little family system and nothing more? She often jokes, you know. Of course I realize my asked herself these questions.

age; but still I think it hardly polite--" "It 's not law that I want really," he “Oh, don't!" he said. confided one day, stretched at her feet Cynthia stopped, startled; it had been on the little sandy beach. They had

almost a cry. just been reading Gertha's Lovers,” “I had no idea you were taking it so taking turns at its lovely limpid prose. seriously,” she went on. "I'm sorry

No?” She looked down at the ear- “Oh, Mrs. Waring, it is n't that!" His nest young face.

young face was very white. “It's that “No; I want to write."

he should laugh!” “I think I knew it, Ken,” she said “But, dear, he thought,” she must gently.

say something in Kenneth's favor; it He looked up at her.

would never do to widen the breach Yes, I suppose you did. You you "he was only joking.” know everything." He stopped, shyly "No," he exclaimed violently. “He embarrassed.

knows

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