Puslapio vaizdai

Lawrence did not reply.

whom I loved, is dead. She died on Lake Como, in a villa called Many

"Do I bore you, madame?"

Flora gave no sign of having heard Kisses, during our honeymoon, at the that question. height of her love for me. It's true "If my story is commonplace thus that there is now living a woman of far, perhaps the end is not."

He smoothed his beard with his shriveled hand, on which shone a splendid ring of emeralds and pearls, like a relic of ancient sumptuousness on the hand of a mummy.

"Leaving her after that last interview, I felt, naturally, as if the universe had crashed down round my


"Not only the future was wrecked, you understand. The past, that invaluable past with her, seemed to lie in ruins, too. How could I think of it now in the same way? This act of hers was going to deform horribly all my best recollections of her. She was not only depriving me, so to say, of her contemporary self; she was also destroying her former self. She was murdering the girl who had raised her face to mine in the moonlight at Many Kisses to whisper with a divine sincerity, 'Forever!'

her general appearance who even bears the same name, but that is not my wife. My wife, who is dead, was indeed a very different sort of person.'

"The soul of man has, among its peculiar qualities, this fortunate one the capacity for obscuring its painful memories. Nowadays they say that this obscuration is accomplished by the subconscious mind; but the will may assist and hasten the process.

"Now I set my will upon forgetting her except as she had been at the first, in the fullness of her love for me. In the end I attained the understanding that my dear wife was dead, that she had died here in Many Kisses, loving me to the end."

Lawrence stared at the old man in awe. Was it the shock of that loss which had overthrown his mind, already trembling between genius and insanity? Was it then that people had begun to say in earnest that

"What I did finally to prevent that Maxime Destouches was mad? crime may surprise you."

He gazed pensively at the long ash of his cigar, which began to tremble. Suddenly all the muscles of his face appeared in flux: he became unrecognizable. A shudder passed through his body as he regained control of himself, to present once more that appearance of almost terrible calmness and benignity. Only the little heap of ashes on the floor remained in evidence of that convulsion.

As though he had said nothing unusual, Maxime Destouches continued:

"What a relief when I had attained that understanding! I was happy again. My work reached its best period. From one thing or another people deduced, 'He is in love again.' I was indeed in love, but not again. I was in love with the memory of my wife who had died here in Many Kisses, mine to the last. It was a new springtime for me. I had re

He looked at the end of his cigar turned to my youth. I had regained regretfully as he resumed:

"This is how I prevented that crime. I said to myself: 'My wife,

youth's idealism in love, youth's devotion to one beloved object.

"You know how fame attracts idle

women. More and more they trailed into my studio their exquisite toilettes, perfumed the air, moist from clay, with their elaborate scents, seated themselves on my faded divans with the lax grace of odalisks, smiled mistily into my face. They did not see that externally I was growing old. They saw only that I was a celebrated person about to become a classic. For me they resembled shadows.

"On a certain day, earlier than usual, I heard one of those light knocks on the door of my studio. It was she. "Yes, it was she, the imposter who had the appearance and who bore the name of my wife, who had died at Many Kisses. She had on my wife's pearls, she used the same perfume. Her imitation was as nearly complete as possible.

"I asked her politely:

suffering, could see that she was truly unhappy. One must have fetched such sobs from the heart, one must have writhed in such paroxysms, to appreciate grief.

"I told her: 'I am sorry, madame, to see you weeping so. I regret that I can think of no way to abate your unhappiness. Other ladies, feeling that they were mistaken in the past, have come here in the hope of rectifying their errors. To you I must say the same thing: I am desolated; but my heart is preoccupied by one whose name is '

"She stood up as if galvanized, her wet face transfigured.

"Myself!' she cried out.

"No, madame. My wife, who died on our honeymoon in a villa of Lake Como.'

"She had been so intelligent, so

"Have n't you mistaken the intuitive, where I was concerned, that door?'

"She sat down upon a divan-the divan upon which they usually sat down-and burst into tears. And it appeared that she had not found, after all, an excess, or even the equivalent, of the old magic.

"Eh, if ours is a struggle in the dark, theirs is a leap into the dark. As they stand poised for flight to the new paradise, they think that this time they can see clear to the end of life, across a sunny vista covered with crimson roses. Not at all. They cannot see farther than from those windows yonder, against which the night and the rain have hung their curtains.

"Poor imposter! She continued to weep, twisting herself about on the old divan where my Italian model sat in the morning putting on his brogans. I, who had been acquainted with

almost immediately, I believe, she understood what I had done, what now loomed between her and me. Yes, surely she perceived that she now had at last a rival-an invincible rival, herself as she had been at the beginning. Surely, she knew that she was vanquished by the other woman whom she had ceased to be.

"Yet she rallied bravely. She told me, of course, that I was mad. She raised her veil so that I might see her beauty. Did she hope that I might find there a richer beauty than resided in my memories?

"I responded gently:

"'You are charming. Ah, if I were not in love with some one else!'

And suddenly she became frightened by something, I cannot imagine what, in my face. She retreated, her features disorganized by what seemed, curiously enough, a frantic remorse.

She looked ghastly; and the more calmly I smiled, the more ghastly she became. I never saw her again.

"But twice after that I received scrawls from her, containing such nonsense as this: "The woman that you married was not what you supposed her to be even on your honeymoon. Let me enlighten you about the character of your wife.'

"Those words were written in hatred. Not in hatred of me, but of her rival, of herself as she had been.

with an effort, snuffled out of the



Flora, in a stifled voice, said:

"Must we wait for him to come back? I don't think I can bear to say good-by to him. Why did n't you tell me that he is really mad?" She went to the windows, peered through the wet glass, and shivered.

A change had come over her beauty, or at least a premonition of change. Her delicate features had a pinched look. In her pallor there was a touch of bleakness.

"Do you remember that marble bust of mine, called 'Pauline,' in the Luxembourg, where it was found one morning smashed into fragments? She did it, because that bust was the image of the woman she hated, of herself as she had been at the beginning. That episode was a mystery to all Paris. I alone knew the truth. Poor imposter! "A few years later, when she was on her death-bed, she penned her last message to me. She wrote, 'If ever you go back to Many Kisses-' That was all, except a line at the bottom of the page by the nursing sister, as follows, 'Unfortunately, madame was unable to finish her letter.' “What had she meant to say that closely. Her face turned bitter. time? No matter.

She approached a mirror that hung on the wall in a baroque gilt frame. She looked at her reflection intently.

"Lawrence, you 're rid of me just in time," she said. And after a moment of brooding: "Do you still-no, of course not. Do you still carry it, that old photograph?"

"And at last I returned, as she may have foreseen, to Many Kisses, which I refurnished as nearly as might be in the original style. Some of these things are imitations that never received the touch of my dear wife; but the ebony pianoforte, the bedstead of Spanish inlay, and a mirror of hers by Benvenuto Cellini-"

He paused, listened to the rain, and called:


There was no answer.

He took from his wallet a yellowish, worn photograph of Flora in her twenty-third year, made one bright spring morning on the terrace of Many Kisses. Tweaking it out of his hand, she examined it long and

"How insipid she looks! It's easy to see that she does n't know anything, that she 's never suffered from temptation or remorse. A doll!"

With a swift, ruthless movement she hurled the old photograph into the flames. He sprang toward the fire; but Flora, throwing her body in his way, held him back.

"Let her burn, Lawrence! Let her burn!" And, wrapping her arms round his neck with a fervor that recalled the past to him, "She 's dead; but I'm alive, with all my weaknesses,

"Pardon me," he said, and, rising with all my inability to imitate her."

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Now haud your tongue, ye haverin' coward,

For while I'm young I 'll go flounced and flowered, In lutestring striped like the strings o' a fiddle,

Wi' gowden girdles aboot my middle.

In your Hielan' glen, when the rain pours steady,
Ye 'll be gay an' glad for a prinkin' leddie,

When the rocks are all bare an' the turf is all sodden,
An' the lassies go sad in their homespun an' hodden.

My silks are stiff wi' patterns o' siller,
I've an ermine hood like the hat o' a miller,
I've chains o' coral like rowan-berries,
An' a cramoisie mantle that came frae Paris.

Ye 'll be glad for the glint o' its scarlet linin'
When the larks are up an' the sun is shinin';
When the winds are up an' ower the heather,
Your heart 'll be gay wi' my gowden feather.

When the skies are low an' the earth is frozen,
Ye 'll be gay an' glad for the leddie ye 've chosen;
When ower the snow I go prinkin' an' prancin'
In my wee red slippers, were made for dancin'.

It's better a leddie like Solomon's lily
Than one that 'll run like a Hielan' gillie
A-linkin' it ower the leas, my laddie,
In a raggedy kilt an' a belted plaidie.

The Unsheathed Sword of France



HAT'S the matter with France?" asks the ex-A. E. F. man. The ex-A. E. F. man is still "down on" the Germans, no softening of the heart there!--but he feels, all the same, that it's time to forget the old hate, and that the French are only mixing things up, and will not get anywhere by talk of renewing the war. If Fritz showed signs of wanting to try his luck in battle again, that would be different. But he does n't, and since it takes two to make a fight, the agitation in France to go into the Ruhr and to aid the Silesian Poles against the Germans seems unnecessary. The Anglo-Saxon instinct, after the other fellow is beaten, is to let up on him, even to help him to his feet. Throughout Anglo-Saxondom public opinion is pretty well agreed that German-baiting is poor sport.

The American attitude toward postbellum problems is summed up in the four words cut into the tomb of General Grant. We prefer Grant's "Let us have peace" to Foch's "The war is not ended." The British are even more eager than we to settle European affairs in such a way as to leave no open sores, no burden of long-term military responsibilities on the Continent. Four hundred million people have to live side by side, and whatever the virtues and sins, certain European nations cannot indefinitely lord it over others, say the British. Those who have been wronged ought to be compensated, those who have been good

ought to be rewarded, and those who have been bad ought to be punished; but practical common sense suggests limits to compensations, rewards, and punishments. After the Treaty of Versailles, Germany still has a population one and a half times that of France, and outcast Russia is the largest country of Europe in area, natural resources, and population. Despite the discouraging events of the last two years, there is no reason for pessimism concerning the recovery of Europe, if we have peace; but everything depends upon that "if."

In London, Rome, and Washington we find the tendency to blame France for the unsettled state of affairs in the world. We are told in speeches of statesmen, in interviews with “high officials," in inspired newspaper articles, that Germany has been stupid and lacking in good faith in her tactics ever since the treaty was signed. We believe the charge. The facts speak for themselves. But, coupled with the complaints of Germany's conduct, are hints, inferences, sometimes open accusations, that French policy has made a settlement of every problem affecting the rehabilitation of Europe difficult, if not impossible. British, Italians, and Americans declare that the French adopt obstructionist tactics or an uncompromising attitude in conferences with the Germans; inspire the Poles in their foolish ventures; intimidate the Belgians into a constantly provocative

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