Puslapio vaizdai


Impossible to-night, my little prince. The park is shut'"'

again enveloped them. These scamper- in plum-colored cloth, a yellow plush rug ing figures, bizarre and ravishing, these trailing over the tufted cushions, some sildust-adulterated scents of musk and roses, ver objects gleaming in a rack between the these sounds of kisses snatched in corners doors. This limousine, once the equipage amid scufflings and squeals, distorted like of the American Baroness di Campoforthe fumes of a too-dangerous wine the mio, still had the appearance of a dainty inspiration that one had caught back there little boudoir. from the immaculate stars. Thallie clung Thallie, her foot already on the step, fast to Reginald's arm, as if, assailed from drew back. The motor-car did not look every side by a half-comprehended men- at all as she had thought it would. And ace, she knew no refuge so safe as the in a flash her intuition told her that this beloved. He, when he felt her warm and tête-à-tête with Reginald was also liable yielding pressure, quickened his pace with to exceed her expectations. a swift access of virility. “By George!" “Hurry up!” he urged, his hand inhe thought, “let one of these monkeys so sistent on her arm. much as look at her, and I 'll knock his "No! no! A stranger's automobile_” head clear off!"

“I tell you he 's a friend of mine. I've A wide staircase fell away before them, stayed at his house. It 's Campoformio, choked with masqueraders. Setting his that I stopped with out by Quarto.” shoulder to the crowd, he dragged her “Then-then-go ask him. Let 's go down the steps. In this press,


back and ask him if he minds” out a heat of many glowing bodies, the "What nonsense!” smell of alcohol, sachets, tobacco, and She saw the indignation in his face, moist flesh was as enervating as the steam quailed, became limp. His hands-or of Circe's caldron. A tipsy Greek war- was it terror lest he might hate her otherrior suspected the charms concealed by wise? --drove Thallie forward. She hudThallie's domino, and risked an amorous dled into the farthest corner of the limouwhisper. Though she blushed to her sine. The plum-colored upholstery disforehead, she made no sign of protest, for pelled an odor of stale cigarette-smoke fear that a brawl might keep them from which recalled to her the studio in Via the park.

de' Bardi. At the foot of the staircase she saw the The door slammed shut. At the lowthin little man in the pig's head of papier- ered window appeared the chauffeur's mâché, his shirt-bosom stained with the broad face. champagne that Fava had thrown over "The Cascine!" him. Flattened beside the entrance to the “The Cascine? Ah, Signorino, but the foyer, indifferent to the jostling of the Cascine would be closed." mob, he looked at her steadily through “Impossible! I

the Cascine his bestial disguise. Now, however, she Park." found him more uncanny than absurd, a “Yes, Signorino, the Cascine Park. sort of symbol posted at the door, a fig- The gates are shut at night.” ure, with its brutish head-gear and its Thallie expelled a long breath. But foppish evening dress befouled with wine, Reginald cried: that seemed to propose an almost sinister “Drive there, anyway! I 'll find out riddle.

for myself." But Reginald drew her eagerly into the The chauffeur took his seat. The vagfoyer, where Campoformio's chauffeur abonds, having received no tips, raised an was waiting for them.

ironical cheer. The automobile rushed The motor-car stood thrumming at the off toward the park. Street lights, sailing curb. Half a dozen shabby idlers sprang by, Aashed over the two figures, rigid forward to hold the door. The interior

from suspense. of the limousine was revealed, upholstered On each side the house-fronts fell



In ten

away; the avenue expanded into a square; "Who 's this?" demanded Reginald of ahead loomed the tall stone towers of the the chauffeur. Cascine gate. The motor-car glided to a “The gate-keeper, Signorino." standstill: the rays of its lamps, illumin- “He has the keys?” ing a distant mass of ilex-leaves, were “No! no!" pleaded Thallie, then shrank strained through iron bars.

into the corner. "Behold, Signorino!" the chauffeur ex- The chauffeur inquired: claimed, with a triumphant gesture.

"Hast thou the keys, old one?" Thallie leaned toward Reginald im- His grimace maliciously expanding, the ploringly.

wraith repeated to Reginald, in the rough"You see, it 's really closed.”

est dialect of Florence: “You seem far from sorry!"

"Impossible to-night, my little prince. "Please don't be angry with me!" The park is shut."

"So," he muttered, "I was mistaken But Reginald produced a fifty-lire note. in your wishes."

The ancient, who had seemed, a mo“Ah, if you could understand !"

ment since, beyond desire of every sort, “Then, if the gates had been open ?" now showed in his filmy eyes a gleam of

"Yes,” she assented, with a febrile cupidity. Yet he only wavered, shaking eagerness. “Yes, if the gates had been his head, groaning excuses, mumbling of open; but they 're not.”

the danger he would run, until a second “We'll take another drive.

bank-note had been added to the first. minutes we can reach San Miniato.” Then, with a last despairing oath that he In a stifled voice she protested :

was ruined, he snatched the money and "San Miniato is n't the Cascine. To- hobbled to the bars. morrow we'll come here.

To-morrow "Make haste !" called the old voice, afternoon—"

quickened by greed and fear. "Make "No doubt!"

haste! Make haste!" And to mock him still more there is- The motor-car, springing through the sued from the park, through the iron bars gateway, was engulfed by the Cascine. that reached across his path, the breeze, Its windows blank, its panels faintly sweet with leaves and moss, that seemed glistening in the starlight, the limousine to blow from regions of eternal spring. pursued a radiant path, as elusive as that

He had opened his mouth to order, which leads to happiness in dreams. "Drive us back," when he saw a figure Ahead, the nocturnal landscape kept leapapproaching through the shadows.

ing forth in unnatural hues and extraorInto the glare of the lamps there sham- dinary forms. But that foliage, just as bled a senile wreck whose military cap the car attained it, faded into obscurity was decked with tattered braid, whose again. And behind, the darkness, swimred-rimmed eyes were surrounded with ming together, blotted everything, as if wrinkles like old sword-cuts, whose nose the phantasmal mingling of leaf and light resembled a potato, whose ragged white had been a visionary's paradise, which mustaches concealed his chin. This crea ceases to exist when one attempts to peneture, advancing with assurance, peered trate its borders. into the limousine. When he caught sight After the automobile had passed by, a of Thallie's shimmering dress and satin vast silence again descended from the mask, the vacuity of his countenance gave heavens and enwrapped the park. place to such a grimace as a ghost might And that progress was noted by other show while contemplating the follies that eyes than those of the impelling universe. enamoured him when he was Aesh and Here and there, amid denuded thickets blood.

pale with statues, from marble benches "L'Hascine è chius'," he croaked. encircled by the graves of last year's flow"The park is shut."

ers, rose the heads of those who had been


able to evade without a bribe the old "To the opera-house, Signorino?" gate-keeper's barrier against nature. A “Eh? Why, yes, I suppose so.” white-haired, ruminant priest, who could As the chauffeur was about to start, not sleep at home, reflected, with the Reginald began to fumble with more worldly wisdom gained from many con- money. fessionals, “In that automobile are two “Remember, Antonio—" persons who may some day repent this The Italian, with a look of reproach, hour, but will never quite regret it.” Far- laid one hand dramatically on his breast. ther on, a poor young poet, who lived for “Ah, Signorino,” he protested. And the most part on dreams of art and love, when he had stuffed this second fee into murmured sadly, "She who rides with his pocket, the faithful Antonio drove him in such an equipage must be very back in dashing style to the Politeama beautiful, or at least must be beautified Fiorentino. by elegance and the occasion. Yet I doubt Now the whole edifice seemed tremif he who rides with her has soul enough bling with excitement. Wild laughter to immortalize this moment even with a and blares of music, the sound of popping couplet. Alas! if only I were he!" And, corks and smashing glass, merged with a near the far end of the park, a cowherd steady roar that issued from the auditofrom the Cascine stables said to his sweet- rium above a torrent of helmets, garlands, heart, with a hoarse laugh: “Like us two, peaked hats, disheveled wigs, and pincheh? But for all their fine little house on

beck crowns.

For an instant Reginald wheels no happier to-night than you was amazed to find these revels not only and I !”

still in progress, but more violent than Perhaps not so happy. .

ever. It seemed to him that all this The motor-car was returning. From license ought to be spent by now, and the Piazzale del Re, where the trees fell superseded by remorse. He felt as alien away in a wide circle, one could already here as a young Daniel moving through see the street-lamps twinkling beyond the Babylonian orgies. gates. The wheels revolved more slowly. A girl in the conventional dress of The chauffeur, half turning in his seat, Cleopatra, her gauzy skirts in ribbons, called out:

her vulture head-dress awry, barred his “Signorino, maybe I still have time for way, laid her henna-stained fingers on his one more turn around the park?”

shoulder, demanded half indignantly: The window dropped open.

“Come, now! For me, at least, you will "No; drive to the Pension Schwan- smile?" He pushed by her with a hostile dorf.”

glare. The laughter of the crowd purIn five minutes they were there.

sued him down a corridor. The door of The young man, stepping out upon the the box was before him. Recoiling, turnsidewalk, attempted to help her from the ing on his heel, he hastened toward the limousine. She avoided his hand. Her street. domino floated loose ; her face, at last un- But that would be the act of a fool! masked, gleamed through the shadows It was necessary to go back there to the like alabaster as she ran up the steps. The box, rejoin the people of whom he was door burst open; the white vestibule re- still the host, offer some story. “See here, ceived her. The door slammed shut, fell in Heaven's name, a little common sense !" ajar from that impact, once

After a while he was able to retrace vealed her fluttering domino, which quickly diminished in the depths of the Mr. Goodchild, in his robe of red dim hall. His hand still raised, he stared glazed muslin, still sat in the shadow of toward the spot where she had last been the obese Bulgarian. Camillo and Frosvisible.



sie, oblivious to everything except each Finally he reëntered the limousine, other, were whispering together. Azeglio

his steps.

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