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WAVES OF DESTiNY 


MARGARET PEDLER 


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By 

MARGARET PEDLER 


WAVES OF DESTINY ^ 

THE BARBARIAN LOVER 

THE VISION OF DESIRE 

THE MOON OUT OF REACH 

THE LAMP OF FATE 

THE SPLENDID FOLLY 

THE HERMIT OF FAR END tL 

THE HOUSE OF DREAMS-COME-TRUE 


NEW YORK: 

GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 






WAVES 
OF DESTINY 

BY 

MARGARET PEDLER 


“A Wave of the great waves of Destiny , 
Convulsed at a checked impulse of the heart ” 
—George Meredith 


NEW 



YORK 


GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 




.~wr 


COPYRIGHT, 1924, 
BY MARGARET PEDLER 





©C1A807464 

WAVES OF DESTINY 
-B- 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 

OCT 22 b24 ^ 




CONTENTS 


CHAPTER PAGE 


I 

Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 




9 

II 

The Penalty .... 




31 

VIII 

The Death Rocks . 




49 

IV 

The Little Fool’s Wisdom 




72 

V 

The Madness of Sargenson . 




93 

i vi 

A Dangerous Woman 




108 

VII 

Grist to the Mill . 




124 

VIII 

The Straight Game 




141 

IX 

The End of a Rhapsody . 




159 

V x 

Old Sins. 




174 

V XI 

The Letters of Rosemary 




190 

XII 

Comrades. 




210 

XIII 

The Real Thing 




226 

XIV 

Akin to Love .... 




241 

XV 

The Third Act 




259 

XVI 

His Brother’s Keeper . 




271 















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WAVES OF DESTINY 




WAVES OF DESTINY 


CHAPTER I 

Mrs. Carrington’s last chance 

1 

I T began in the easiest and most natural way in tbe 
world. 

Billy bad pulled up in tbe middle of tbe pavement to light 
a cigarette, and at tbe same moment a big collie, racing hell- 
for-leatber in agonised pursuit of a vanished owner, bounded 
past him, knocking one of bis crutches from under tbe boy’s 
arm. 

Precisely as tbe accident occurred, Mrs. Carrington was 
coming strollingly out of a draper’s shop with her character¬ 
istic air of exquisite detachment. 

Tbe crutch fell with a clatter at her feet and Billy, flung 
off bis balance, lurched towards her. In an instant her 
small, strong band was beneath bis elbow, steadying him, 
and he found himself looking into a pair of melting, hya¬ 
cinth-blue eyes—“the stunningest eyes in the world,” as he 
told himself later on when, in the privacy of his hotel bed¬ 
room, he was able to reassemble his faculties of discrimina¬ 
tion and comparison. 

“Can you manage for a moment ?” asked a satin-soft voice. 
That and her aloof little air of detachment were Madeline 
Carrington’s two biggest assets, neither being commonly asso¬ 
ciated with the predatory type of woman. 

With the aid of his remaining crutch Billy propped him- 
9 


10 


Waves of Destiny 

self securely while Mrs. Carrington stooped swiftly and 
picked np the one which had fallen, slipping it beneath his 
arm with a quiet deftness that bespoke experience. 

“I say—thanks most awfully! How prompt you were!” 

His blue eyes shining, Billy blurted out his gratitude. 
Mrs. Carrington laughed. Her laugh was charming—a little 
flute-like sound like the note of a bird. 

“You learn to be prompt when you’ve done two years’ 
nursing in France,” she replied. 

“Did you do that?” asked Billy. “How topping of you!” 
warmly. 

Of course, hundreds of other women had done as much 
and more during those four ghastly years of war, but Billy 
forgot them all for the moment, and was only conscious of 
the “toppingness” of one individual woman who had done it. 

To Madeline Carrington, her two years’ war nursing had 
chiefly represented its equivalent in board and lodging with 
an added value of possible matrimonial opportunities. 

She was thirty-seven—although she contrived to look con¬ 
siderably less—and the chances of acquiring a satisfactory 
settlement in life by way of a second marriage meant a good 
deal to her. She had been left a widow with an income alto¬ 
gether inadequate to the extravagances of life, and for the 
last five or six years she had supplemented it in various ways 
which had not precisely added to her reputation. 

Hot that any one had any definite charge to bring against 
her. But odd stories floated about, and Mrs. Carrington was 
variously credited with a partiality for high stakes at auction, 
and with a tendency towards flirtations that strained even 
the elastic limits of post-war convention. It was whispered 
that she was quite willing to dine and dance nightly at the 
expense of any man friend who was prepared to foot the 
bill, and that if he were willing to include the settlement of 
an overdue milliner’s or dressmaker’s account, why, so much 
the better. 

Watchful mothers carefully shepherded their sons away 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 11 

from her vicinity, and the lists of one or two hostesses showed 
an irrevocable line scored through her name. 

For the rest, Mrs. Carrington clung on desperately to the 
fringe of society, and confronted the world with a sweet, 
enigmatic smile. But there were moments—tense, panicky 
moments—when to herself she admitted the bitter truth. She 
had invariably just failed to secure her footing. Unless she 
could make good by a successful marriage she was destined to 
remain always on society’s outskirts—a precarious hanger- 
on, barely able to scrape along. And the years simply raced! 

Only she herself knew how she envied “those others”! 
Those women with assured positions—and assured incomes—* 
whom she sometimes watched from the window of her tiny, 
roof-high fiat as they slid by in their cars, with their un¬ 
shakable poise bred of the knowledge that no doors were 
closed against them. 

When the war came she had rushed into every kind of 
war-work that might seem to promise the unlatching of those 
doors. But the women who readily availed themselves of her 
brains and energy showed an equal readiness to forget her 
existence socially. She was quietly “dropped” when the need 
for her services was over. 

Finally, she had turned her attention to nursing. But 
somehow or other she had failed to achieve matrimony. With 
war romances blossoming into marriage all around her, she 
had still been unlucky. The officers to whom it had been her 
lot to minister had proved to be either impecunious subalterns 
—who had adored her—or else, if more profusely blessed 
with this world’s goods, they were always happily married, 
and had written home to their wives not to worry, “as Sister 
Was the kindest and cleverest nurse a fellow could have.” 
All of which, to Mrs. Carrington’s credit be it said, was per¬ 
fectly true. 

And now a trifling accident had suddenly opened the way 
to new possibilities. The look of fervent admiration in 
Billy’s honest eyes told her that. 


12 Waves of Destiny 

She knew who he was quite well—the Honourable Billy 
Bethune, Lord Eainault’s only son, and he was stopping at 
Sandbeaeh at the same hotel as herself, alone with his valet. 
Mrs. Carrington generally made it her business to know who 
were the men at any hotel where she might be staying, more 
particularly if they were unattended by their womenkind. 

It seemed quite natural, after she had helped him, that 
she and Billy should stroll on together. They were both 
going in the same direction. 

“Not a relic of the war, I hope ?” she asked gently, indi- 
eating his crutches. 

He shook his head. 

“Oh, no. I smashed my foot up a hit playin’ polo. Three 
of us came down in a heap together, and I got rather knocked 
about generally, so the doctor-man buzzed me off here to re¬ 
cruit. Sea-breezes and all that, you know.” 

Mrs. Carrington nodded. 

“Sandheach is a nice little place,” she said simply. 
“You’re staying at my hotel, aren’t you? The Royal.” 

“Yes, I’m at the Royal. But are you there, too ? How 
could I have missed seeing you ?” 

His eyes, resting ardently on the dark-red hair that flamed 
beneath her hat, framing her small, distinctive face, suffi¬ 
ciently explained the naive astonishment in his tones. 

Mrs. Carrington laughed a little. 

“Oh, I’m not very noticeable. I’m a very quiet person, 
you see. And I don’t know any one down here.” 

“Hor do I,” said Billy. He paused. After a moment he 
went on with some embarrassment : “I say, if—if you’re 
really alone—like me—would you think it awful cheek of me 
to suggest that we might foregather a bit? Of course”—* 
quickly—“I know it would be frightfully dull for you, ’cos 
I can’t do anything.” 

“I don’t ‘do’ things either, I’m afraid,” she answered.; 
“And it’s a bit lonely sometimes by oneself, isn’t it ?” 

“ ’M. That’s what I meant We might watch the tennis 


13 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 

tournaments together. You keen on tennis ?” She nodded. 
“Good! And perhaps—now and then, you know—you might 
let me dine at your table.” 

Mrs. Carrington assented with a simple graciousness that 
was entirely disarming. She showed no eagerness—nothing 
beyond the pleasant acquiescence of a woman who, having no 
immediate claims upon her time, is good-naturedly willing to 
make the idle days pass less forlornly for some one else. 

So she and the Honourable Billy Bethune were seen in 
company at the tennis courts quite frequently. Sometimes 
they drove together. And the occasional sharing of the same 
table at meal times grew to be a daily custom. 

The result was soon regarded as a foregone conclusion by 
observant people at the hotel. Even Mrs. Carrington her¬ 
self began to feel a certain confidence in it. But she was ex¬ 
perienced enough to know that even a boy of Billy’s age— 
three-and-twenty at the most—isn’t safely landed until he 
has let the word “marriage” slip between his lips. 

There had been one ghastly moment when she had thought 
it was all up with her chances. That was when Billy, 
fumbling in his pocket-book for the snap-shot of a favourite 
polo-pony which he wanted to show her, had flicked out the 
portrait of a girl. It had fluttered to the ground between 
them, and Madeline, as she picked it up and handed it back 
to him, had met his embarrassed glance fair and square. 
There had been no curiosity in her own. She had preserved 
that delicate aloofness of hers intact while Billy, his cheeks 
reddening, had rushed into flurried explanation. 

“Oh, that’s a girl I know. Gave it me last time I went to 
Erance. Didn’t know it was still there.” 

He hesitated, looking anxiously at Mrs. Carrington. She 
leaned forward. 

“May I look ? Is she —the girl, Billy»” 

“Oh, no. There’s—nothing like that.” He stumbled 
rather badly over it, because a month ago there had been 
something very like that. Matters had not gone quite so far 


14 


Waves of Destiny 

as an actual understanding between him and the girl in the 
photo—at least, not the kind of understanding that had 
crystallised in words—hut news of Billy’s engagement to any 
one hut herself would certainly have come as a considerable 
surprise to little Anne Seton. 

Madeline examined tlie plioto in silence. It was very 
young—the face that looked hack at her out of the worn 
leather case—young and brave, with clear, steady, direct 
eyes, and a mouth that curled up deliciously at the corners. 

“She is very pretty,” she observed as she relinquished the 
case into Billy’s outstretched hand. She admitted the fact 
quite freely. She was too clever a woman to refuse to 
recognise another woman’s charm when she saw it. 

“Pretty? Oh, I dunno.” Billy stuffed the case back in 
his pocket. “But she’s not a bad kid, isn’t Anne, A real 
little sport. Game as you like.” 

If Billy suffered from any subsequent prickings of con¬ 
science, he stifled them successfully. Anne Seton’s name was 
never mentioned again in the days that followed, and Mrs. 
Carrington’s demeanour remained unaltered—serenely 
friendly, with just an occasional responsive flickering of 
something warmer. And then one day the inevitable hap¬ 
pened. 

They had been strolling along the shore together, and had 
Anally established themselves in the shelter of a big rock— 
Billy perched on a shelving spur, his game leg stretched 
carefully out in front of him, and Mrs. Carrington sitting on 
the sand at his side, her slim hands clasped round her knees. 

There was no one else in sight. They were alone, with 
'just the blue sea and the golden sand and the fragrant after¬ 
noon warmth. The sound of the sea murmuring among the 
scattered rocks on the shore came to their ears with an in¬ 
timate little suggestion of their solitude, seeming to set the 
rest of the world very far away. 

Madeline had taken off her hat, tossing it on to the ground 
beside her, and her coppery hair glowed with a red, slum- 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 15 

berous fire in the blazing sunlight. Billy’s gaze was bent on 
it worshipfully. Suddenly, with a stifled exclamation, he 
stooped and laid his cheek impulsively against it. The sun- 
warmed sweetness of it sent his heart thudding crazily against 
his ribs. Madeline turned her head slowly and looked up at 
him. 

“I had to! I couldn’t help it!” ,The words came tumbling 
out from the boy’s lips—awkward and blunt in their impet¬ 
uous honesty. “Madeline! Sweetest! I love you! I—Oh, 
I want you!” 

He drew her close to him with quick, enfolding arms. 

“Have I a chance, Madeline ? Have 1?” 

The whole clean soul of him looked at her out of his blue 
eyes, and suddenly her knowledge of the years between them, 
of his unthinking youth and her experience, slashed across 
her consciousness. Every decent instinct in her forbade her 
taking what he offered. Impulsively she drew away, her 
body stiffening a little in his eager clasp. 

Though she had not spoken, he sensed the significance of 
her recoil. 

“Don’t say no!” he exclaimed sharply, his young voice 
roughening. “Don’t say no!” 

“Billy boy, I ought to say—just that!” Mrs. Carrington 
spoke very quietly. Her eyes looked sad. 

“Why ought you?” he demanded hotly. 

“Why ? Oh, Billy, it’s so obvious, isn’t it ? A. man may 
not marry his grandmother!” She laughed a little, but the 
laugh broke in her throat, ending on a sudden hoarse note. 

“ ‘Grandmother’ ? What on earth are you talking about ? 
Suppose I am twenty-three and you’re—thirty. What then ? 
My four years at the front more than equal the odd seven 
between us, I should think!”—with a grim reminiscence in 
his tones. 

She was silent. She had made her effort, reminded Billy 
of the gulf of years between them, and he had bridged it 
triumphantly. Even honour could demand no more of her. 


16 Waves of Destiny 

And Billy represented everything in the world she most 
craved for—wealth, an assured position, and the headlong, 
uncritical devotion that only a hoy would ever offer her. In 
all probability he also represented her last chance. The 
gulf was wider than he guessed by seven years. 

Her eyes hardened. For a moment a ridiculous scruple 
had nearly made her throw away this glorious chance. She 
almost laughed. She was not a woman who could afford to 
have scruples. They were a privilege for the well-endowed, 
not for the Madeline Carringtons of the world.. 

When at last she spoke it was still to raise objections, hut 
the quality of her voice had altered. There was a note of 

yielding in it. _ . . 

“But your people, Billy? What would Lady Eainault 

say ?” 

“She’ll love you nearly as much as I do when she knows 
you,” he protested valiantly. “Say you’ll marry me, 

darling 1 ” . 

“And you’re sure——quite sure—you want me . 

“I’m sure I can’t live without you! That’s about the 
size of it.” 

“Then, if you’re really sure-” 

But the sentence was never finished. Billy’s eager mouth 
on hers quenched it, and the grip of his strong young arms 
about her made Mrs. Carrington almost forget for the mo¬ 
ment that she had just concluded an excellent bargain from 
a worldly point of view, and remember only that Billy loved 
her very much, and that something within her stirred oddly 
in answer to that love. 

2 

“My dear! Did you say—Mrs. Carrington? Madeline 
Carrington?” 

Lady Eainault’s well-bred voice did not rise the fraction 
of a tone above its normal quiet level, yet something in her 



Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 17 

utterance of the other woman’s name, a delicately faint 
inflection, seemed to set Mrs. Carrington down in some side 
street—the sort of side street in which no one would care 
to he seen. 

Billy detected it, and reddened defiantly. 

“Yes. Madeline Carrington,” he returned shortly. 

The golden weeks at Sandbeaeh were over at last and Billy 
had returned to town, though Mrs. Carrington had elected to 
stay a little longer by the sea. 

It was very typical of her that she had refrained from 
following him back to London. Few women in her position 
would have had the confidence to hold him on so slack a rein 
or the strength of will to triumph over all the fears and 
apprehensions which beset her when he spoke of going. 

She knew she was risking the adverse influences which 
would certainly be brought to bear on him when he rejoined 
his people. But she banked on Billy’s being sufficiently in 
love with her to resist all opposition to their marriage. If 
he were, she felt sure that rather than suffer anything which 
savoured of a scandal, rather than be pitied and condoled 
with by their friends over “dear Billy’s unfortunate mar¬ 
riage,” the Bainaults would bow to fate with as good a grace 
as they could simulate. They would tolerate her, outwardly 
accept her. And with them behind her—however unwillingly 
behind!—she knew that her position would be unassailable. 

So Mrs. Carrington waited quietly at Sandbeaeh. 

Billy had found it more difficult to broach the subject 
of his engagement than he had anticipated. The first week 
or two after his return he had been very much under his i 
doctor’s orders, and when at last his crutches were discarded 
in favour of a stick and a temporary limp, his mother had 
celebrated, the occasion by a little dinner at the Bitz to which 
Anne Set&n had been bidden. 

Anne, looking very sweet and young in one of “Minetta’s” 
simplest and most expensive little frocks, had welcomed him 
back to London with a shy, frank pleasure that was rather 


18 [Waves of Destiny 

disturbing. There had been even a tiny proprietary touch 
about her greeting—that elusive little royal air which invests 
a woman, no matter her age, when she knows that the man is 
in love with her. 

Billy enjoyed it, enjoyed it so much that it frightened 
him. More than once during the evening, as he met the 
dear, candid gaze of Anne’s grey eyes, he had to remind him¬ 
self that he was engaged—engaged to Mrs. Carrington. And 
that queer, incomprehensible mingling of fright and elation 
drove him the next morning into announcing his engagement 
to his mother. 

Lady Rainault’s reception of the news had not been en¬ 
couraging. To embolden himself he reiterated the informa¬ 
tion more firmly. 

“Yes. Mrs. Carrington and I are engaged to be married.” 

For a moment his mother made no response. When finally 
she did, it took a totally unexpected form. 

“She is a very beautiful woman,” she said quietly. 

Billy felt inadequate. He had been expecting opposition 
and was prepared to fight it. But this calmly uttered tribute 
left him feeling somehow weaponless. 

Lady Rainault looked across at him and smiled. 

“Why, Billy,” she said. “You didn’t suppose I’d be 
stupid enough to pretend she wasn’t, did you ?” 

“Some women would have done,” returned Billy dog¬ 
gedly. “But you’d never need to be jealous of another 
wofnan’s good looks, mater.” 

Lady Rainault kept her eyes fixed upon the blotting-pad 
lying on the desk in front of her. 

“And yet we must be about the same age—Mrs. Carring¬ 
ton and I.” She looked up suddenly, her direct glance meet¬ 
ing her son’s. “I don’t think I want a beautiful daughter-in- 
law about three years younger than myself, Billy.” 

He sprang to his feet, outraged, protesting volubly. His 
mother shook her head. 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 19 

“Pm right, Billy boy. Madeline Carrington is very much 
nearer forty than thirty.” 

“She may he”—stubbornly. “I haven’t asked her age. 
I asked her if she loved me. And she does!” 

“Do you think she’d love you quite so much if you weren’t 
Lord Rainault’s son with—presumably—plenty of money ?” 

“I’m sure of it”—warmly. “Madeline isn’t just out to 
catch a fortune.” His voice softened as he added: “She’s 
damned lonely.” 

Somehow in the discussion that followed Lady Rainault 
managed to keep all bitterness out of it. Very quietly and 
composedly she sketched a picture of Mrs. Carrington as she 
appeared in the eyes of the world at large, watching, as she 
did so, the boy’s face whiten into a mute, defiant misery. It 
ended, as such discussions almost invariably do end, in his 
valiantly championing the woman he had asked to be his 
wife. 

“If what you say is true, it’s all the more reason why I 
should marry her and give her a little happiness at last,” he 
flared. “I couldn’t let her down now even—even if I didn’t 
care for her. She’s never had a dog’s chance. She only 
wants to be looked after, and protected, and made happy—* 
like our own women are.” 

Lady Rainault observed the distinction so unconsciously 
emphasised and smiled a little to herself. Billy did not see 
the smile, but he flung down his last card triumphantly., 
“As you say, marriage means everything to her.” 

A long silence ensued. 

“I wish—I wish your father were back from India,” Lady 
Rainault said presently, a note of wistfulness in her voice. 

“Why? He wouldn’t make me give her up—if that’s 
what you mean!”—with quick defiance. 

Another silence followed. Lady Rainault was rapidly 
weighing values. She realised that further opposition would 
only serve to strengthen the boy’s determination. 


20 Waves of Destiny 

“Well?” he demanded at last with a certain nervous bel¬ 
ligerence. <c What are you going to say about it ?” 

She rose and came quickly across the room to where he 
stood staring moodily out of the window. 

“It needs thinking over,” she said simply. “I don’t think 
I want to say anything just now, Billy, except that you know 
I love you and that your happiness—yours and your father’s 
*—means more to me than anything in the world.” 

He swung round and, catching up her slim, still girlish 
figure in his arms, gave her a great schoolboy hug. Some¬ 
how the spontaneous, clumsy, boyish clasp seemed to loosen 
the band that had been tightening apprehensively about her 
heart. For all his six feet and his love affair with a woman 
whose reputation was patched with grey, he was still just 
her “little boy” to the eternal mother. ^ 

3 

Mrs. Carrington’s flat was perched on the top floor, and 
the services of a lift were not included amongst the advan¬ 
tages offered by the landlord. 

Lady Bainault climbed the steep stone stairway with lag¬ 
ging feet. She was in no hurry to reach the top. She 
frankly dreaded the forthcoming interview with the woman 
who, as the matter involuntarily phrased itself in her own 
mind, had trapped her son into an offer of marriage. Had 
her husband been home she would, of course, have left it to 
him to arrange the affair. Men were more used to buying 
their way out of difficulties, she reflected ruefully. 

But since Lord Eainault was still occupied with certain 
Governmental duties in India, and since Mrs. Carrington 
had returned to London and was already monopolising two- 
thirds of Billy’s time and the whole of his thoughts, his 
mother had taken her courage in both hands to seek an inter¬ 
view with her. 

A diminutive maid opened the door of the flat in response 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 21 

to her ring, and a minute later Lady Kainault found herself 
trying to gather from the room into which she was shown 
some impression of the woman she had come to see. There 
was nothing in the furnishings at which she could cavil. It 
was all very modern hut in quite good taste. Yet to the 
woman who was straining to draw from it some clue as to 
its owner’s personality, the whole effect of the room failed to 
ring true. It was as though, knowing that this or that was 
considered the right thing, its occupant had promptly ac¬ 
quired it and substituted it for something that would more 
nearly have expressed her own individuality. With a sigh 
Lady Kainault relinquished her attempt to make the room 
yield up its secret, and at the same moment the door opened 
to admit Mrs. Carrington. 

She came in very quietly. Her dress was almost Quaker¬ 
ish in. its simplicity, but here, too, Lady Kainault received 
the impression of a striving after effect. Simplicity was 
not the key-note of Mrs. Carrington’s character. Her red 
hair flamed denial. But the expression in the hyacinth-blue 
eyes was genuine enough. It asked apprehensively: “Have 
you come here as a friend or as an enemy?” And Lady 
Kainault, conscious of a sudden twinge of pity for the woman 
before her, answered the unspoken question swiftly. 

“Ho. I’m afraid you must not regard this as a friendly 
visit, Mrs. Carrington.” 

The other made no attempt to misunderstand her meaning. 
Some women would have simulated ignorance, but Madeline 
Carrington never wasted time or energy on futilities. If it 
was to be war, then let it be war to the knife and at once. 

“So you disapprove of my engagement to your son ?” she 
said, speaking as quietly as her visitor. 

“Could you expect me to do otherwise?” returned Lady 
Kainault. “I am very sorry, but neither my husband nor I 
could possibly give our sanction to it.” 

“Why not?” At least, Billy’s mother should be forced 
out into the open. 


22 Waves of Destiny 

“The disparity between your ages is surely sufficient 
reason.” 

“Oh, no, it isn’t!” The composed parrying of her attack 
broke through Mrs. Carrington’s guard of cool aloofness and 
something faintly common—a suggestion of the woman who 
lives by her wits—showed itself in the smartly-uttered con¬ 
tradiction. 

“Plenty of women marry men younger than themselves,” 
she went on. “Is that your only reason ?” 

“You know it is not,” answered Lady Eainault quietly. 
“Mrs. Carrington, need I go into details? You and I both 
know that there are a hundred reasons why you are an un¬ 
suitable wife for my son., Won’t you just accept the fact 
that I can’t consent to an engagement between you ?” 

“I suppose”—bluntly—“you think I’m not good enough ?” 

“I 'know you are not. And you know it, too. You’d spoil 
his life. He’s young, and you’re very beautiful—and he 
thinks he’s in love with you. But he isn’t really. He’d find 
it out as soon as you were married-” 

“Ho, he wouldn’t. He does love me! I tell you, he 
does!” 

Lady Eainault made no answer. Something in her silence 
dragged an unwilling question from the other. 

“Is there some one else ?” She was thinking of the girl in 
the photo. 

“Yes, I think there is. Though I’m not quite sure”—* 
simply—“that Billy realises it. You’ve dazzled him, you 
see.” 

“And I’m going to marry him. What’s more, you can’t 
stop me. He’s over age”—triumphantly. 

“True. He’s over age. But he’s not independent of his 
father financially.” 

The significance of Lady Eainault’s reply shattered Mrs. 
Carrington’s last shred of self-control. That clever assump¬ 
tion of aloofness which had so often successfully passed mus- 



Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 23 

ter, where she was unknown, as the quiet detachment of a 
woman of unquestionable status, went with it. 

“Then, if that’s the case,” she flung back, “Lord Kainault 
would either have to make him independent or stand the 
racket of a breach of promise case. I’ve plenty of Billy’s 
letters,” she added meaningly. 

“There is still another alternative,” replied Lady Kainault. 
She nerved herself to speak what she had really come to say. 
“I want you to release my son. How much would you con¬ 
sider reasonable compensation?” 

Madeline Carrington thought rapidly. She could guess 
what lay at the back of the offer. The Kainaults were as 
proud as Lucifer and they funked a breach of promise case. 
Bather would they face the fact of her marriage with Billy 
and cloak their disapproval in the eyes of the world by seem¬ 
ing to accept her. The trump cards were all in her hands. 
She didn’t want merely money. She wanted that—and 
everything else that marriage with Billy represented. 

Lady Eainault misread her silence. 

“I know, of course,” she continued, “that in releasing my 
son you would sacrifice certain financial security, and I am 
prepared to make this up to you. Would a cheque for three 
thousand pounds-” 

She stopped, checked by the sudden strained expression 
in the other woman’s face. 

“Of course you think it’s only a question of money ?” Mrs. 
Carrington burst out vehemently. “You don’t understand! 
How should you? You’ve always had all the things I’ve 
missed. You couldn't understand!” 

Lady Kainault stared at her in bewilderment., 

“The things you’ve missed ?” she repeated. 

“Yes. You’ve always been cared for”—with gathering 
intensity. “I haven’t! I’ve had to fight for my own hand. 
Everything that came to you naturally, luxury and position 
and a good time, I’ve had to get —by angling for it. I’m 



24 Waves of Destiny 

sick of angling, sick of pretending! I want the real thing . 
And Billy can give it me. I’ve never had anything—never! 
I’ve always been on the edge. Oh, I know what people say—* 
Pm an outsider. Well, they won’t be able to say it any 
longer. If I marry Billy, you—and people like you—will 
have to accept me whether they want to or not!” 

“Yes”—gravely. “I—we should have to accept you. I 
grant that.” 

“Very well,” retorted Mrs. Carrington triumphantly. 
“You can’t expect me to give all that up.” 

“Ho, I suppose I can’t,” replied Lady Bainault very 
slowly. “Unless—you care for him.” 

The five short words dropped into a silence—sudden and 
tense. Mrs. Carrington drew back a pace and stood a little 
away from the older woman, staring at her with a curiously 
awakened expression. 

There was something startled and bewildered, almost shy, 
in the hyacinth eyes. It invested her, this woman of the 
world—and a somewhat shady world at that—with an atmos¬ 
phere that was at once elusive and sweet and virginal. Billy’s 
mother, watching the transformation, could imagine what 
she must have been like as a young girl. 

“I—I do care!” The words came jerkily. “I didn’t 
know it before. But—I do care!” 

And looking into the other’s beautiful face, pale in the 
grip of a sudden intensity of emotion, Lady Bainault realised 
that she spoke the naked truth. 

But it could make no difference. Whether she loved him 
or loved only all that he could give her, this woman was no 
wife for her son. She spoke inexorably. 

“Then, if you care, give him up!” 

Mrs. Carrington drew in her breath sharply. 

“I can’t!” she muttered in a stifled voice. “I can’t give 
him up.” 

Almost as though her legs would no longer support her 
she sank down into a chair and stared dumbly at Billy’s 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 25 

mother. When Lady Rainault spoke again, it was rather 
sorrowfully. 

“If you love him, you’ll give him up. Just because you 
do love him. And, if you’re brave enough, you’ll send him 
away from you—without any regrets that he has to go.” 

The door closed quietly behind her. Madeline Carrington 
sat huddled in her chair, Lady Rainault’s last words beating 
in her brain like a pulse: “Send him away from you — 
without any regrets that he has to go.” 

“Ok, I can’t! . . . I can’t!” she whispered hoarsely. 

4 

Love’s eyes are very clear. In the days which followed 
Madeline Carrington could see that Billy was already chafing 
against the bonds which held him, although he was gamely 
refusing to recognise the fact, every instinct of his boy’s 
honour alert to conceal it from her. She set her teeth and 
tried not to recognise the bitter truth, but it jumped out and 
mocked at her a dozen times in as many days. 

Sometimes she would test him. 

“I’m too old for you, Billy,” she said one day, watching 
restlessly under her white lids for the old indignation to leap 
into his eyes, eagerly listening for the headlong denial. The 
denial came, but it lacked conviction. 

“Of course you’re not,” said Billy. “I wish you wouldn’t 
keep harping on the subject of age.” 

The crisis came one evening at the Gloria Restaurant. 
They were dining there together and at first he had appeared 
to be enjoying himself much as usual. But all at once 
he grew fidgety and his attention wandered. The altera¬ 
tion in his manner synchronised with the arrival of a party 
of friends who took possession of a table near at hand, and 
Mrs. Carrington, following the direction of Billy’s nervously 
roving glance, recognised in one of the new-comers the girl 
whose photo he had had with him at Sandbeach. 


26 Waves of Destiny 

There was no mistaking the pure, childish oval of her 
face with its wide-open, fearless eyes. And if there could 
have been a doubt it was dispelled an instant later when, 
meeting Billy’s eyes, she nodded and smiled across at him. 

Then her glance passed on from Billy to his companion. 
The smile died abruptly on her lips as though it had been 
wiped off and she turned aside. But, before she turned, her 
young, hard summing-up of the older woman was visible in 
the suddenly aloof expression of her eyes. 

Mrs. Carrington exerted herself to be even more charm¬ 
ing and entertaining than usual, desperately striving to re¬ 
gain and hold Billy’s attention so that his thoughts might 
not linger about the girl at that other table. Linger about 
her and—compare! 

But it was uphill work, and as they drove back to her flat, 
Madeline, leaning back silently in the darkness of the taxi, 
knew that she was holding fast to the mere letter of the pledge 
between them. The spirit of it was dead. 

“Coming in for a smoke ?” she asked as Billy helped her 
out of the taxi. 

“Hot to-night.” Then, catching sight of her face in the 
light of the street-lamps, he went on hurriedly: “Oh, very 
well, then. Just one.” 

They climbed the long flights of stairs almost in silence. 
Arrived at the flat, she established him in a big easy chair 
and held a match while he lit his cigarette, fussing round 
him in a way that was quite foreign to her usual custom. 

“You’re very attentive,” he commented, with a puzzled 
little smile. “Why am I being so spoilt to-night ?” 

She had been moving restlessly about the room. Now; 
she came back and stood in front of him on the hearth. 

“Perhaps—because—it’s our last evening together.” * 

Billy’s cigarette dropped from his fingers to the floor. 
He stooped and picked it up. 

“Our last night!” he repeated stupidly. “What do you 
mean ?” 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 27, 

“Would you be very sorry ?” she asked, evading the ques¬ 
tion. “You wouldn’t really, Billy. I’m too old for you.” 

“That’s my business, isn’t it?” he said quickly. “If I 
care for you-” 

“But you don’t!” she interrupted. “You’re in love with—* 
[Anne Seton.” 

He sprang to his feet. 

“Madeline! I’ve given you no right to say that!” 

“Except the right of observation”—dryly. “I saw you 
look at her to-night—at the Gloria-” 

“Suppose we leave Anne Seton’s name out of this discus¬ 
sion,” said Billy, his boyish voice suddenly cold. “I don’t 
understand what’s the matter with you to-night, Madeline.” 

“Hothing. Only—only I don’t believe you want to marry 
me now, Billy. You’d rather not. You’d like to get out of 
it.” 

In a minute he was on fire, his young pride scraped raw 
to the quick, denying, reassuring. She had touched him on 
a point of honour—that clean, untarnished honour so dear 
to a boy of twenty-three. 

All that he knew of the woman he had asked to be his 
wife, all that his mother had told him, only urged him into 
more vehement determination to keep his pledge—to lift 
her out of her shoddy life of makeshifts and pretence. It 
was all very young and staunch, and not'a little touching. 

But his face betrayed him. She could read the truth in 
his half-shamed, half-defiant eyes. He did not care any 
longer. But he was going to play the game, whatever it 
cost. 

“Oh, go! . . . Go!” she exclaimed violently. Then, as he 
turned away impetuously, she caught him back to her, pull¬ 
ing his face down to hers. 

“Ho! Don’t go, Billy!” she cried in frightened, breath¬ 
less tones. “I didn’t mean it. Kiss me! . . . Kiss me!” 

i 

When he was gone he left her secure in the knowledge that 




28 Waves of Destiny 

he would never claim his release, would not even accept it 
when she almost flung it at him. She could take him if she 
chose—or send him away and give him the freedom of which 
he was too young and too hot-headed to recognise the value.. 
But if it was to be a gift—love’s gift—he must go gladly, 
without regrets. 

Feverishly she snatched up a pen and began to write. 

Dear Billy —her pen jerked along— We've had our 
last evening together. Fond as I am of you, I'm not fool 
enough to believe we could live on love and hisses, and 
I've found out that you've only an allowance which might 
be cut off any old time your father felt inclined. So we'll 
call it off. You'll understand, won't you f 

Yours, Madeline. 

She caught up a wrap and went slowly downstairs. A 
pillar-box stood at the end of the street, like a grey sentinel 
in the lamp-lit dark. There was a flicker of white as she 
held the letter poised an instant in her hand, then the grim, 
black mouth of the pillar-box engulfed it. She remained 
staring fascinatedly at the blank slit. 

“Next clearance twelve midnight,” she said tonelessly. 
Billy stormed his way to her flat within an hour of the 
letter’s receipt. His face was white and strained, and there 
was a curious frozen look in his eyes. 

“Did you mean this ?” he asked. “Just what it says ?” 
She nodded. 

“I’m afraid I did, Billy. I’m sorry. But you see, I’m 
quite a material person. I’d love to be the Honourable Mrs. 
Billy, but it looks as though it’s a luxury I can’t afford.” 
She shrugged her shoulders a little. “So I’ll have to con¬ 
tent myself with being plain Mrs. Silas Arkwright.” 
“Arkwright! That bounder!” 

“ ’M. He’s gots pots of money, you know. And he likes 
me quite a lot.” 


Mrs. Carrington’s Last Chance 29 

“So you were just out after the money?” he said slowly. 

She looked away. 

“A woman in my position has to—think of things,” she 
answered. 

It hit him hard. He had been so frightfully sorry for 
her, for the bad luck against which she had put up such a 
plucky fight—had championed her so fiercely in his eager 
young chivalry. And now she had revealed herself the rapa¬ 
cious, .predatory type just as surely as a woman of the street. 

“You’re not going to kick up a fuss about it, Billy ?” she 
asked anxiously. 

“Oh, no,” he said shortly. “I won’t queer your pitch 
with—Silas Arkwright.” He laughed suddenly and harshly. 
“A man doesn’t want to marry your kind—if he knows.” 

“Ho, I suppose not.” She acquiesced with apparent in¬ 
difference. “Well, good-bye, Billy.” 

She held out her hand. He looked at it, but made no 
effort to take it. 

“Good-bye,” he said, and strode out of the room with his 
face very white and his heart full of fierce, boyish scorn and 
bitterness, but—without any regrets. 

She sat very still when he had gone, her hands lying idly 
folded on her knee, her eyes staring into space. She could 
hear his footsteps as he descended the stone stairway grow 
fainter and fainter. When the last one had died away into 
silence she gave a little shivering sigh, like a tired child 
worn out with crying. 

Six months later Lady Rainault and her daughter-in-law 
were lunching together at the Gloria Restaurant. Anne 
was looking radiant—vivid with the triumphant radiance of 
youth and love. 

Her glance flitted interestedly over the crowded room. 
Presently it was checked and held by a woman lunching 
with a middle-aged, opulent-looking man at another table—* 


30 Waves of Destiny 

a slender woman whose red hair flamed in the sunlight. 
[Anne’s lips curved into a faint disdain. 

“There’s that atrocious Mrs. Carrington, with a man of 
the rich financier type,” she observed. “She’s rather a 
dreadful person, isn’t she ?” 

“Is she?” Lady Rainault’s quiet eyes rested on the 
woman at the other table. “I don’t know. But I know she 
is a very brave woman.” 


CHAPTER II 


THE PENALTY 

1 

T HE green of the short grass crowning the cliffs met the 
bine of a sea which broke into a myriad glancing rip¬ 
ples a hundred feet below. Overhead, the tremulous June 
sky stretched cloudlessly away to the very edge of the horizon. 
The little intermittent breeze which brushed the downs car¬ 
ried on its breath the mingled sweetness of summer fragrance, 
and wafted it at inconsequent moments to the man and 
woman who were sitting together on the sun-baked turf, their 
faces seaward. 

It was easy to see that they had been picnicking. Some 
short distance away, where the white road wound like a 
broad ribbon across the foreland, stood the long grey car 
which had brought them to this solitary spot, while close be¬ 
side them an open lunch-basket, long since rifled of its con¬ 
tents, told its own tale. 

The silence which enfolded them had lasted a long time. 
The man was smoking, pulling at his cigarette with quick, 
nervous puffs, his blue eyes fixed unseeingly on the distant 
point where sky and sea met and melted into a pearl-grey 
blur. The line of his jaw was obstinately squared, as 
though he were mentally confronting some unpleasant fact. 
Seated a little behind him, so that only his clean-cut profile 
was visible to her, the woman watched him guardedly, in 
her eyes a curious mingling of faint amusement and regret. 
She could make a pretty good guess at his thoughts, and she 
was wondering how in the world she should answer him 
when he spoke. 


31 


32 


Waves of Destiny 

Actually, lie was reflecting with what amazing swiftness 
the weeks had slipped by since that day when, swinging his 
car sharply aside to avoid a blundering cyclist, it had skidded 
on the greasy road, climbed the steep bank that hedged it, 
and turned turtle, flinging him out on to his head in the 
roadway. After which rapid sequence of events, Anthony, 
Marquis of Frayne and heir to the dukedom of Carches- 
ter, had ceased to take any further interest in the proceed- 
ings. 

The accident had occurred just outside the little seaside 
village of Greybourne, immediately in front of the house of 
one Sutherland, the local doctor, and when, a day or two 
later, Frayne came back to a confused consciousness of mun¬ 
dane matters, it was to find himself in bed, while the doctor’s 
daughter, home on holiday, filled the post of head nurse with 
consummate skill—and with a gracious, flower-like charm 
which would probably have been conspicuously absent from 
a starched and uniformed professional. 

He recalled his first clear recollection of her—slender and 
pliant as a hazel wand, moving lightly about the room with 
a curious floating grace that made it sheer delight to watch 
her. As his strength increased, with masculine cunning he 
used to devise small jobs for her to execute. He wanted the 
window a little more widely opened; he would like the 
flowers she had brought him transferred from the table to 
the chimney-piece in order that he could see them better, and 
so on—anything which should compel her to cross the room 
so that his eyes might follow her as she moved to and fro. 

The patternless wall, of some warm brown distemper, 
made an almost perfect background for her little dark head. 
There was one particular spot in the room where the sunlight 
slanted in through a side window, and whenever she passed 
there it brought the sheen of a raven’s wing to her smoothly- 
banded hair. He used to wait until she happened to cross 
that spot, and then ask her some entirely unnecessary ques¬ 
tion in order to detain her there. It was always an even 


The Penalty 33 

chance whether she would pass on or would pause to answer 
him, standing quietly within the patch of sunlight with that 
wonderful liquid gleam on her hair, and he used to get tre¬ 
mendously excited to see which she would do. 

. . . And now it was all over. He and his car were both 
hopelessly convalescent, and there remained not the smallest 
reason why he should inflict himself upon the Sutherland 
household a day longer. 

His teeth hit suddenly through his cigarette. With an 
impatient movement he tossed the half-smoked ragged end 
over the cliff and turned to the woman beside him. 

“Yvonne,” he said slowly, “I can’t stay here indefinitely. 
This is one of our last days. Have you realised it ?” 

“Yes.” She bent her head and began plucking with 
nervous fingers at some sea-pinks growing near where she 
sat. She had cast aside her hat and the sunlight dwelt 
caressingly on the raven’s-wing hair. He felt a mad impulse 
to touch it—to feel its sun-warmed, satiny smoothness be¬ 
neath his hand. He compromised, and laid his strong brown 
fingers over the slim, restless ones which plucked at the sea- 
pinks. 

“Or—is it one of our first?” She threw a quick, almost 
frightened glance at him, and he went on recklessly: “Our 
first day—of ‘belonging.’ Because we do belong! I’m 
yours, body and soul. And you ?—Oh, beautifullest, you’ve 
understood, haven’t you?” 

“Understood ?” Her voice was a mere thread. 

“That I love you. Say you care”—his arms went round 
her, holding her prisoned. “Little darling Yvonne, say you 
care!” 

For a moment she seemed to yield, leaning towards him, 
the flame in his blue eyes kindling an answering flame in 
the southern dark of hers. Then, with a swift movement, 
she dragged herself free of him and sprang to her feet. 

“Ho, no!” she cried, stumblingly. “What are you think¬ 
ing of? You’re mad! Lord Frayne-” 



34 Waves of Destiny 

“ ‘Lord Frayne’!” he interrupted. a I> not that—to you, 
and you know it.” Standing beside her, he laughed down 
at her triumphantly. "I shan’t listen to anything you ave 

to say—to ‘Lord Frayne.’ ” . 

“Tony, then,” she conceded reluctantly. But listen 
oh, you must listen! It’s just because you are Lord Frayne 

that we can’t ever— 'belong.’ ” . ' 

“It’s just precisely why we can,” he returned gaily, catch¬ 
ing her back into his arms and holding her more closely. 
“There’s nothing in the wide world to prevent it. Thanks 
be, my revered ancestors had a positive genius for amassing 
money, and I can give you everything on earth you want. 
We can be married to-morrow—or, at least as soon as I can 
get a special licence!” 

She shook her head. 

“My dear, don’t you realise how impossible it all is ? It 
isn’t a question of money. What do you think the Duke of 
Carchester would say when you presented him with a country 
doctor’s daughter for his future daughter-in-law? Oh, you 
must see for yourself how impossible it is!” 

His brows drew frowningly together. 

“I don’t see,” he returned stubbornly. 

“But that’s only just because you don’t want to,” she 
answered. "Tony, dear, remember I’m a working woman. 
I’m only home on a short holiday. You can’t marry any 
one like me. It—it’s out of the question.” 

He glanced at her consideringly. The Sutherlands ap¬ 
peared to be quite comfortably blessed with this world’s 
goods. At the same time he had gathered that Yvonne was 
away from home the greater part of the year, earning her 
own living somewhere. Delicacy had prevented him from 
inquiring precisely how she earned it, and neither she nor 
her father—her mother, it appeared, had been dead some 
years—had ever volunteered any information on the sub¬ 
ject. Probably, he reflected, she held some well-paid posi¬ 
tion in the City. 


The Penalty 35 

“I don’t know what you do, darling,” he said at last. 
“But can’t you 'give notice’ or resign or something ?” 

She regarded him with a curious expression in her eyes—* 
eyes so sombrely dark that they suggested a strain of Latin 
blood. 

“I might/’ she answered. “But”—hardly—“do you think 
your father would exactly welcome into his family a woman 
who had been employed in a hat-shop?” 

Prayne did not flinch beneath the steady glance she levelled 
at him. 

“So that’s where you get your charming taste in head- 
gear, is it ?” he returned coolly, unmoved. “Well, keep your 
taste, dear—and drop the hat-shop.” 

She made a little gesture of impatience. 

“Tony, you must be sensible—you must try to under¬ 
stand,” she urged desperately. 

“There’s only one thing I want to understand,” he said, 
his voice deepening to the tenderly imperious note that she 
loved. “And that is—do you care ? Answer me. Yvonne, 
Yvonne, answer me quickly!” 

The passionate demand swept her off her feet. She had 
tried so hard to convince him—to show him the utter ab¬ 
surdity of any question of marriage between himself and her. 
How she shut her eyes to the great gulf which yawned be¬ 
tween them—the social gulf than which, no one knew better 
than she, there is none other so difficult to cross — 1 
and surrendered herself to the beautiful madness of the 
moment. 

“Care?” she breathed. “Oh, Tony, do I need to tell 
you ?” 

He lifted her against his heart and set his lips to hers, 
while the sun shone and the sea crooned softly at the cliff 
foot, and the little vagrant breeze flitted around them, breath¬ 
ing summer incense. And for a space they forget everything 
except that they were man and woman and loved each other 
as God had intended they should from the beginning. 


36 


Waves of Destiny 


2 

I've thought it all out, Tony, and—Fve run away. It 
was the only thing to do. You'll forget all about me one 
day—at least, I hope you will. . . . No, I don t really 
hope that. I'd like you to remember me sometimes. But 
do not ever seek to find me—it could bring neither of us 
any happiness to meet again. 

Such was the letter which Frayne found awaiting him 
the following day when he returned from his morning dip 
in the sea. He stared down at it blankly. She couldn t 
have gone—left Greybourne 1 Why, only an hour or so ago 
she had been gathering roses in the garden and had waved 
her hand to him light-heartedly as he set off for the shore! 
Some of those same roses were standing in a bowl on the 
table at his elbow. They seemed to nod at him deri¬ 
sively. 

She couldn’t be gone! He ransacked the whole house, 
striding dazedly in and out of the rooms. Then he searched 
the garden. But there was no sign of her. Finally, as he 
could not bring himself to seek information from the serv¬ 
ants, he had perforce to contain his impatience until the 
doctor came back from paying his daily round of visits. 
The period of inaction seemed interminable, and when at 
last Sutherland returned, it was only to confirm the contents 
of the letter. Yvonne had left Greybourne by the eleven 
o’clock train that morning. 

Eagerly Frayne demanded her address. The doctor shook 
his head, his kindly grey eyes compassionate. 

“Fm afraid if she didn’t see fit to give it to you herself, 
I mustn’t betray her whereabouts,” he answered. 

“But, good heavens, man! I must know it—I want to 
marry her!” 

“You’re doing us a great honour, Lord Frayne,” began 
Sutherland gravely. “But-” 


The Penalty 37 

“Oh, cut that out!” groaned Frayne. “I want to find 
her. Tell me where she is!” 

But Sutherland remained adamant—regretful, kindly, hut 
implacably firm. He could not give Lord Frayne his daugh¬ 
ter’s address. 

“Well, if I write to her, will you forward on the letter ?” 
demanded Frayne at last, finding that persuasion and argu¬ 
ment alike proved equally futile. 

“Yes,” he said. “I’ll do that.” 

So Frayne wrote, a frenzied outpouring, and the letter 
was duly forwarded. But it brought no response. Neither 
did two subsequent letters which he dispatched to Grey- 
bourne in quick succession after his return to London. It 
was as though a shutter had descended betwixt him and the 
woman he loved—blank and impassable. He was as com¬ 
pletely cut off from her as if those wonderful weeks by the 
sea had never been. 

Summer passed, and after a round of shooting parties in 
Scotland, Frayne found himself back once more in London, 
caught up into the familiar routine of the winter season. 
His friends noticed an alteration in him. He seemed to be 
always on guard, vigilantly on the watch for something or 
some one. Even in the street, they complained, he was oddly 
absent in his manner, appearing more or less oblivious of 
whoever might be his companion, while all the time his eyes 
roved restlessly to and fro amongst the hurrying crowds 
which thronged the pavements. He was always searching— 
searching for the face which he had never seen since that last 
morning at Greybourne—the face of Yvonne. And then, 
one day, when he had almost given up all hope of ever seeing 
her again, he found her. 

It happened quite by chance. At a big evening crush he 
ran up against a man he had not seen for some years, who 
was now part manager of the Diadem Theatre, and who 
buttonholed him promptly. 

“What are you doing to-morrow night, Frayne?” he had 


38 Waves of Destiny 

demanded. “Nothing? Then come to the first night of our 
new show. We’ve got Mauvigny and her company—the new 
dancer all Paris has gone wild over.” 

“Mauvigny? Never heard of her,” returned Prayne, 
“Is she any good ?” 

“Any good, man ? Mark my words, Yvonne Mauvigny is 
going to sweep the hoard. Paris has fallen for her, and so 
will London.” 

Yvonne! Despite himself, Prayne started violently. It 
couldn’t he the same Yvonne! And yet—the memory of her 
exquisite grace of movement rushed over him—that curious 
grace which had so caught and held his attention from the 
very outset of his acquaintance with her. Rather breath¬ 
lessly he agreed to attend the first night at the Diadem. 

Afterwards it seemed to him that he had known from the 
first moment he entered the theatre that he would find her 
there, and when she appeared, supreme amongst a company 
of superlatively good dancers, he was content for a time to 
sit quietly watching her from his stall, recapturing every 
detail of the grace and charm he had loved. She was looking 
very lovely, the dark hair above her pure little face inter¬ 
woven with gleaming pearls, while filmy, diaphanous white, 
sparkling here and there with half-hidden jewels, swathed 
her shoulders, and billowed away from her slender hips. 

Her dancing partner was a young Russian, Ivolski by 
name, and all at once, as Prayne followed the exquisitely 
delicate abandon of the dance, he became conscious of a 
sudden fierce jealousy, a primitive fury that any other man 
should hold in his arms the woman who was going to be his 
wife. He had no doubt at all about that latter point. Now 
that he had found her, he would never let her go again, run 
no risk of losing her a second time. 

At the conclusion of her part in the programme he made 
his way behind the scenes. Doors opened facilely for the 
Marquis of Prayne, and in a few minutes he was admitted 
to her dressing-room. 


The Penalty 39 

“Tony!” Even beneath her make-up he could see that 
she had paled nervously. With a gesture she dismissed her 
dresser, and turned to face him. 

“Why have you come here?” she asked in a frightened 
voice. “Oh, Tony, why have you come?” 

“To the ‘hat-shop’ ?” he returned, quizzically. “To find 
you, of course. I told you in my last letter—which you 
didn’t answer, by the way—that I should never rest until 
I’d found you. I meant it.” 

“And now that you have found me,” she said bitterly, 
“you will understand why I went away. The hat-shop was 
a myth. I daren’t—oh I couldn’t tell you the truth! The 
hat-shop”—with a wan little smile—“seemed at least— 1 
respectable!” 

“And isn’t a dancer respectable ?” he demanded teasingly, 
smiling down at her. His joy at finding her was so great, 
his feeling of security so sure now that they were together, 
that he ventured to play with his happiness, to squander a 
few moments in the glory of anticipation. He never cast a 
thought to the high gods who might be listening—and laugh¬ 
ing at him. 

“Oh, yes, dancers are quite respectable—very often,” she 
answered rather wearily. “Only no one ever believes it.” 
She paused. “And now, will you go away, Tony? You’ve 
found me, you see what I am, and you know now why I could 
never be your wife.” 

“Why shouldn’t you be my wife? You’ve not changed, 
have you ? You’re still the same Yvonne— my Yvonne!” 

She stared at him wonderingly. 

“But now—now that you know I’m a dancer, you wouldn’t 
*—still—marry me ?” she faltered. 

“Wouldn’t I? Oh, sweet, how little you know of love! 
Do you think it matters to me what you’ve been—whether 
you’ve run a hat-shop or danced like an angel? . . . Hot 
that!” He snapped his fingers. “All that matters is what 
you will be—and that’s my wife!” 


40 Waves of Destiny 

For a moment she gazed at him incredulously. Then, with 
a little broken cry of utter happiness, she went into his arms, 
and for a while the sheer ecstasy of reunion blotted out every¬ 
thing else from their minds. 

At last, leaning back in his embrace, she looked up at him 
with a flicker of amusement in her eyes. 

“It will he something rather novel, won’t it—a dancing 
duchess ?” 

He glanced at her swiftly. 

“It might he,” he said, “if there were to he any such a 
thing. But, of course”—easily—“you’ll give up all that 
sort of thing when you’re my wife.” 

“Give it up ?” she exclaimed. “What do you mean ? Why 
should I give it up?” A sudden note of apprehension 
sounded in her voice. 

He smiled. 

“Because—why, sweetest, you must see that you couldn’t 
remain a professional dancer after we’re married.” 

“But you said you didn’t mind!” she protested. “You 
said you didn’t mind the fact that I’d been a dancer!” 

“That you had been,” he emphasised gently. “I should 
mind very much my wife’s being a dancer.” 

“But why—why ? Tony, don’t you trust me ?” 

“Trust you ? Of course I do—round the world and back 
again. But darlingest, you must see—surely you realise”— 
he began to flounder—“that it wouldn’t do for the 
Marchioness of Frayne to be dancing professionally? It 
wouldn’t do, you know,” he repeated unhappily. “It—oh, 
hang it all, Yvonne!—it wouldn’t do.” 

In a flash she tore herself out of his arms. 

“Tony, I never knew before that you were a snob!” she 
cried, her eyes blazing scorn at him. 

His face paled a little. 

“I’m not,” he said, speaking with enforced quietness. 
“But it would be very undesirable for the future Duchess of 
Carchester to be dancing in public for the amusement of 


The Penalty 41 

every Torn, Dick, and Harry who has the price of a theatre 
ticket in his pocket! And in your heart you know it as well 
as I do. Rank has its privileges—but it also has its duties. 
As I see things, such influence as people in our position have 
is a special trust, and it’s sheer betrayal of that trust to 
cheapen ourselves so that our influence becomes nil. Don’t 
you understand, Yvonne?”—gravely. “Dear, to give up 
dancing in public is one of the penalties you’ll have to pay— 
for love. Is it too heavy a one ?” 

She was silent for a moment. Within herself she realised 
the bed-rock truth of every word he had uttered. But her 
whole being cried out against the sacrifice demanded of her. 

“Yes, it’s too heavy!” she burst out at last. “Tony, it’s 
in my very blood to dance—I couldn’t give it up! My 
mother was a dancer before she married—a Drench dancer. 
Mauvigny, the name I’m known by professionally, was her 
maiden name. She gave it all up to marry my father—to 
go and be buried alive in a poky little country hole like Grey- 
bourne, and she regretted it, longed to go back to the stage, 
till the day of her death. . . . And it would be the same 
with me. I can’t give it up! I can’t—not even to marry 
you!” 

“Then you don’t love me!” he flung back. The control he 
had been exerting snapped suddenly, and his anger and scorn 
poured over her in a surging torrent. He was too hurt, too 
bitterly hurt and angry to measure his words. But with 
each contemptuous, biting phrase he uttered her determina¬ 
tion hardened. 

“Stop! That’s enough!” she interrupted passionately. 
“I can’t and won’t give it up. I quite see”—with a bitter 
sneer—“that a—a future duchess’s legs must be concealed. 
So I’ll resign from the honour you’re proposing to do me by 
making me your wife.” 

Frayne looked at her. His eyes were hard, but behind 
their hardness lay an infinite pain. 

“Do you mean that ?” he asked. 


42 Waves of Destiny 

“Yes, I do mean it,” she returned swiftly. “And now, 

ill you go, please. I want to dress.” She turned con¬ 
clusively to the mirror. 

a Yvonne-” lie began. 

“Please go,” she repeated, without looking round. 

Por a moment be hesitated. Then, without another word, 
he turned on his heel and left the room. 

3 

Christmas found Yvonne back at Greybourne for a brief 
rest following upon the conclusion of her engagement at 
the Diadem. Very briefly she confided to her father the up¬ 
shot of her meeting with Prayne in London. They under¬ 
stood each other very well, these two, and Sutherland re¬ 
ceived the news without protest. 

“It was asking too much of me—to give up dancing,” she 
informed him. But there was an interrogative note in her 
voice, an unuttered appeal to his judgment, and he answered 
that. 

“Then, my dear, that settles the matter, doesn’t it?” he 
said quietly. “If either man or woman can apply the words 
‘too much’ to anything they are asked to do for the sake of 
love, that love isn’t of good enough quality to withstand the 
wear and tear of everyday life. And you’re wiser to cut it 
out of your scheme of things.” 

“Then you think I was right—that I decided wisely?” 
she persisted, conscious of a curious inner need for reas¬ 
surance. 

He regarded her with an enigmatical expression in his 
grey eyes. 

“Only time can tell you that,” he answered. 

Emphatically the holiday at Greybourne was not a suc¬ 
cess. Every nook and corner served to remind her of the 
man she had loved and sent away, to recall those perfect 
weeks they had spent together there, drifting carelessly with 



The Penalty 43 

the tide, without a thought of the hard and difficult choice 
which was destined to he the ultimate outcome of it all. 
Once she sought the cliffs where they had picnicked. But 
the sea-pinks were withered and dead, the voiceless solitude 
seemed to mock her, and the agony of remembrance which 
overwhelmed her was more than she could bear. She turned 
and fled from the place. 

She was thankful when at last her holiday drew to an end 
and she quitted Greybourne en route for London. She was 
about to leave England on a world tour, and it would be at 
least two years before she returned. At Victoria she bought 
a newspaper and, unfolding it as the train steamed out of 
the station, her glance fell on a brief paragraph included 
amongst the items of social news. Her eyes raced down the 
few lines: 

“The Duke of Carchester is lying dangerously ill at 
Carchester Towers, and is not expected to recover. Two 
doctors are in attendance ... in their opinion it is now 
only a question of hours. . . .” 

Her hand closed convulsively on the paper, crushing it 
together with the tensity of her grip. So a few hours would 
convert Tony into the next Duke of Carchester, setting him 
definitely and for ever outside her world! The wall between 
them would have risen so high as to be almost unscalable. 

A short time afterwards she stood on the deck of the cross- 
Channel steamer and watched the white cliffs of Dover recede 
into the distance with eyes that held a strange intermingling 
of emotion. 


In succession to the world tour Yvonne received the offer 
of several other important engagements, so that it was three 
years instead of two before she was able to contemplate re¬ 
turning home. The end of those three years found her in 


44 Waves of Destiny 

Paris, concluding an engagement there, and just as one para¬ 
graph in the newspapers had sent her out of England feeling 
that a door had been closed in her face, shutting off all the 
shining possibilities of happiness which had been hers, so 
now another item of news sufficed to doubly lock and bolt 
that same door. In an illustrated weekly, devoted principally 
to chronicling the doings of society folk, she came across a 
full-page portrait of a woman bending above an elaborately 
robed baby. Underneath ran a couple of explanatory lines 
of print: 

“The lovely yowing Duchess of Carchester, formerly 

Lady Hermione Dyheland, and her little son ” 

Then Tony was married! As Yvonne pored over the 
beautiful pictured face, dully trying to realise the fact, she 
felt as though everything in life that mattered had come to 
an end. There, facing her, was the presentment of the 
woman whom Tony had made his wife, had set in the place 
which, but for her refusal to give up her profession, might 
have been hers. And this woman was now the mother of his 
child! 

Yvonne knew now what she had done. She had cast aside 
the substance for the shadow. In her feverish pursuit of 
fame she had thrown away all the most wonderful gifts of 
life. And now that she had actually accomplished her desire 
and become world-famous, what did it all amount to? A 
handful of so-called friends—whose friendship, incidentally, 
had never been proved by the hard testing of adversity— 
staring head-lines in the papers, unlimited applause and 
feting. Weighed up as the sum total of a life’s happiness it 
seemed of very little worth compared with the wifehood and 
motherhood of this other woman. In that hour of passionate 
realisation Yvonne went down into the depths and the waters 
of bitterness closed over her head. 

That night, at the crowded Paris theatre where she was 
performing, she danced carelessly, absorbed in her own 


The Penalty 45 

thoughts. Once, twice, she almost missed Ivolski’s hand out¬ 
stretched to swing her up into one of those beautiful and 
difficult poses for which the two dancers had become famous. 
The second time it occurred the Kussian’s lean young face 
beaded with the perspiration of sudden fear. 

“Mais, mon dieu, Yvonne ! Take care!” he had whispered 
hurriedly. “Of what are you thinking to-night ?” 

She broke from his clasp mechanically as the dance pro¬ 
ceeded, and, warned by that tense look of anxiety in his eyes, 
forced herself to think coherently of the work in hand. The 
last phase of the dance called for the full perfection of her 
technique. From the centre of the stage scene a stairway 
conducted to a gallery above, and the action of the dance— 
which was supposed to be taking place in an ante-room dur¬ 
ing the course of a fancy dress ball—demanded that Yvonne, 
in the character of a Columbine, should escape up this stair¬ 
case, pursued by Ivolski as Pierrot. At the top of the stairs 
he catches her and bears her away aloft on his shoulder. 

Usually this scene provoked a thunder of applause, 
Yvonne’s pose as she lay across the Pierrot’s shoulder being 
a pure triumph of art and feather-light grace. But to-night, 
exactly as she reached the top of the staircase and turned 
with mischievous, smiling lips and outstretched arms to ward 
off her pursuer, her expression changed, and her glance grew 
suddenly fixed. From amid the blur of faces in the audi¬ 
torium below one face seemed to leap ouf at her with terrible 
and startling clarity—Tony’s face! He was down there—- 
amongst the audience! 

She hesitated only an instant, disconcerted by that sud¬ 
den recognition of the man who had once meant so much to 
her. But that instant brought catastrophe. When she sprang 
to clasp Ivolski’s outstretched hands, she missed her grip, 
and instead of seeming almost to float up on to his shoulder, 
she fell backward, her slim figure hurtling headlong down 
the staircase, to lie in a motionless, crumpled heap at its 
foot. 


46 Waves of Destiny 

The orchestra broke off discordantly, and a moment of 
shocked, horrified silence filled the great theatre. Then, as 
a hubbub of tongues arose, the curtain dropped and a black- 
coated, shirt-fronted manager hurried in front to announce 
that Mademoiselle Mauvigny was injured—how seriously it 
was as yet impossible to say. The performance must in any 
case be discontinued, and he begged the audience to disperse 
quietly. Their money would be returned to them at the 
box-office. 

Awed by the suddenness of the catastrophe, the big assem¬ 
blage of people streamed out obediently through the various 
exits. With one exception. Tony, his face white and set, 
battled his way against the opposing press of the crowd and 
contrived at last to pass through the doorway which led be¬ 
hind the scenes. 

Yvonne had already been carried from the stage to her 
dressing-room, where a doctor, hastily summoned from his 
seat in the theatre, was attending her. Half an hour—an 
age-long half-hour—elapsed before he emerged from the 
room. Tony, waiting in the corridor, confronted him with a 
swift question: 

“Miss Sutherland—Mademoiselle Mauvigny, I mean— 5 
how badly is she hurt ?” 

The doctor was English. Hearing the urgent query, he 
turned abruptly and scanned the speaker’s tense face. 

“Are you a relative of hers?” he asked briefly. 

Eor a moment Tony made no answer. Then he said 
quietly: 

“I’m the man she’s going to marry.” 

The other’s expression grew suddenly compassionate. 

“I’m afraid I’ve very bad news to give you,” he said 
pitifully. 

It seemed to Tony as though the walls and floor of the 
ill-lit corridor rose and surged towards him like the waves 
of the sea. 

“She’s not —'killed ?” he whispered, with dry lips. 


The Penalty 47 

“No, no! Not that. But—she’ll never dance again,” 
answered the doctor gravely. 

To his surprise, a muttered “Thank God!” broke from 
the man beside him. He glanced at him curiously. 

“Have you told her yet?” pursued Tony. Then, as the 
doctor shook his head: “Then, don’t! I’ve a particular 
reason for asking,” he added, in response to the other’s look 
of astonishment. “I—I want to tell her myself.” 

The doctor appeared relieved. He had no objection what¬ 
ever to being spared what he had been anticipating as a 
most unpleasant duty. 

“I shall be very glad for some one else to tell her,” he 
acknowledged. “She’ll take it hard, I’m afraid. At pres¬ 
ent, she imagines that the injury she has sustained to her 
foot is curable. So it is, for all practical purposes. But not 
for professional dancing. The tendons would always be 
liable to give way under any great strain. And a second col¬ 
lapse might result in permanent lameness.” 

A few minutes later Tony was admitted to the dressing- 
room. Yvonne was lying on the couch looking rather pale 
and shaken, her right foot skilfully bandaged. A flame of 
scarlet flew up into her face as she saw who it was that had 
been admitted, but when Tony knelt beside her and would 
have taken her in his arms she waved him back determinedly. 

“Ho, no! What are you thinking of ? You shouldn’t 
have come here now—now that you are married,” she 
gasped. 

“Married ?” He stared down at her. “But I’m not mar¬ 
ried ! I never shall be—unless you’ll marry me.” 

She gazed at him in bewilderment. Stammeringly she 
told him of the information she had gleaned from the news¬ 
papers. While she was speaking a look of comprehension 
dawned on his face, to be succeeded at last by a slow, whim¬ 
sical smile. 

“Only, you see, my father didn’t die, after all,” he ob¬ 
served, “Instead, he cheated the doctors and recovered. 


48 Waves of Destiny 

There was no reason why he shouldn’t. He’s only fifty-five, 
and has the constitution of an ox. My mother died when I 
was a child, and it was he, not I, who married Hermione 
Dykeland—and they’re remarkably happy together. As 
happy as we should have been if-” 

“Ah, Tony, don’t !” she broke in swiftly. “I suppose 
you—you’ll never forgive me—now?” 

He looked down at her with steady eyes. 

“But—what about your dancing?” he asked. ‘‘You’ve 
become a very famous personage since those days. I couldn’t 
ask you, now, to give it up.” 

Her hands went out to him. 

“You wouldn’t need to—ask me, Tony dear,” she said 
quietly. “I’d give it up to-morrow if—if you wanted me.” 

“Well, I do want you,” he told her. And proceeded to 
demonstrate the fact forthwith in a manner there was no 
mistaking. 

Presently she leaned a little away from him. 

“Tony,” she said regretfully, “it’s taken me a long time 
to learn that love counts more than anything else, hasn’t it ? 
We’ve wasted three whole years.” 

“We’ll make up for it in the course of the next forty or 
fifty, belovedest,” he assured her encouragingly. 

It was not until several days later that he told her of 
the doctor’s verdict. 

“I wouldn’t let them tell you before,” he said. “I felt I 
must know whether you were willing—while you still be¬ 
lieved you would be able to dance again—to pay the penalty 
—whether you loved me enough for that.” 

She lifted her face to his, and in her eyes lay a great peace 
and contentment. 

“I’ve borne a much harder penalty for these last three 
years,” she said simply. 



CHAPTER III 


THE DEATH EOCKS 

1 

T HE sands of Sainte Corinne, palely golden, seemed al¬ 
most to shimmer in the blazing sunlight. It poured 
down upon them from a sky of dazzling turquoise and 
sprinklqd with a myriad dancing points of light the surface 
of a sea as irrepressibly blue as the sky above it. 

Here and there the sail of a late homing fishing-boat 
splashed a note of brown or orange into the prevailing azure, 
an effect which brought a gleam of appreciation into the 
cynical grey eyes of a man who was lying prone on the sand 
in the pool of shadow thrown by a sheltering rock. 

That he was an Englishman was self-evident. His clean¬ 
limbed build, supple and sinewy, testified to that, as well as 
his close-cropped hair, fair and curling a little in spite of its 
ruthless shearing. 

That he was less conventional than most Englishmen of 
his class was also evident. He wore neither coat nor hat, 
and his silk shirt flapped carelessly open at the throat, 
revealing a Y-shaped patch of milk-white skin that contrasted 
oddly with the golden tan of face and neck. 

Beside him, leaning against the base of the rock, stood 
a girl whose whole heart revealed itself in the worshipping 
gaze with which her dark, brooding eyes were bent upon 
him. 

She was clad, like any other of the fisher-girls of Ste. 
Corinne, in^ a bright-coloured blouse and short homespun 
skirt, but a snowy kerchief worn about her shoulders, its ends 

49 


50 Waves of Destiny 

crossed upon her slight young bosom and fastened with a 
heavy silver clasp, gave a certain little individual air of 
daintiness and distinction to her costume. 

But then, Marie Contenelle was not really one of the girls 
of Ste. Corinne, she would have told you. She was of Petit 
Coin, which, as its name implied, was a “little corner” all to 
itself, a picturesque cluster of cottages across the bay from 
the village proper of Ste. Corinne. Here only a few of the 
more successful fisher-folk aspired to live, for rents were 
higher than at Ste. Corinne and cottages few in number. 

Marie’s father, old Pierre Contenelle, had been known as 
one of the finest fishermen along the coast, and had done 
uncommonly well for himself. Gradually he had acquired 
the sole ownership of several boats, and when he finally 
retired from active participation in the fishing, leaving 
younger men to carry on in his stead, it was to one of the best 
and biggest cottages at Petit Coin. 

Here Marie kept house for him—Madame Contenelle hav¬ 
ing slept in the little village cemetery these ten years past— 
and it was rumoured that when she married, old Pierre 
would bestow upon her a dot which would exceed that of 
any other girl in the district. 

Consequently there was keen competition among the 
younger fishermen to ingratiate themselves with Marie Con¬ 
tenelle, and Jean Gamier and Jacques Legrand and Armand 
Bigot had each at one time or another fancied himself her 
chosen favourite, onbjrto find, when he came to put his for¬ 
tune to the test, that Marie had remained disillusioningly 
heart-whole. 

She laughed them all away in turn, with a careless smile 
of berry-red lips and a fiiek of slender brown fingers, and 
some there were who whispered that for all her lovely face 
and the big dowry which old Contenelle could give her, Marie 
would end her days as a vieille fille . Than which, as every 
one knows, there is no more appalling fate for a woman to 
contemplate! 


The Death Rocks 


51 

And then had come the Englishman! Strolling idly across 
to Petit Coin one day from the little inn at Ste. Corinne 
where he was stopping, with his hands in his pockets as 
though he had nothing better to do with them, and in his 
grey eyes that look of bitter, weary cynicism which had 
gripped Marie’s tender heart and wrung it, for all the world 
*—as she had expressed it to herself—as a dishcloth is wrung 
in the hands. 

Perhaps the simile sprang into her mind from the fact 
that at the moment those hard, hurt eyes first encountered 
hers she was engaged in washing the family linen, plunging 
it elbow-deep in the cool running water whither the women¬ 
folk all came to do their blanchissage, then spreading it upon 
the smooth-worn fiag-stones at the water’s edge and beating 
it with a flat piece of wood. 

The Englishman had stopped, laughed a little, and then, 
sitting down on a bench close at hand, had produced from 
his pockets a sketch-book and pencil and with a few deft 
strokes had made a picture of the little scene. 

“Want to see it?” he asked. As Marie shook her head 
uncomprehendingly he repeated the question in fluent 
French. 

And when she had rather shyly acquiesced and he flipped 
open the book again for her to see the sketch he had made, 
an ejaculation of enraptured astonishment escaped her. 

“Mais me voila!” she exclaimed, pleased as a child. “It 
is I myself whom monsieur has depicted. Et voila aussi la 
mere Bigot et sa petite Elsette! But it is wonderful—■ 
epatant —the likeness! And in so few strokes of the pencil. 
Monsieur is a great artist, then, sans doute f” 

“An artist—yes,” the Englishman had answered. “But 
great? That is always for posterity to settle, isn’t it? 
^Would you care to have the sketch, mademoiselle ?” 

Marie assented eagerly, and he had torn the leaf out of 
his book and given it to her, first scrawling his name across 
the corner: Christopher Quain. 


52 Waves of Destiny 

The name was one to conjure with in artistic circles. Five 
years ago nothing but a struggling, half-starved painter, 
pawning the very clothes from off his back to find the where¬ 
withal to buy his precious tubes of pigment, Quain had 
leapt suddenly into fame, and now no exhibition was com¬ 
plete unless one of “C. Q.’s masterpieces” hung on the line, 
nor any society woman’s claim to be a reigning beauty 
established until her portrait had been painted by him. 

Marie Contenelle, of course, knew nothing of all this. She 
only knew that, to her, the name of Christopher Quain 
sounded like all the harps of heaven singing together and 
set her heart racing within her in sudden, disquieting tumult. 

But that came afterwards—after Quain, attracted by the 
charming view of Ste. Corinne which could be obtained from 
the Petit Coin side of the bay, had demanded that rooms 
should be found for him in the vicinity forthwith, in order 
that he might paint a picture of the little French fishing 
village from that particular angle. 

He had been very insistent in his demands, waving aside 
every objection raised and supplicating Marie to rescue him 
from his dilemma. 

“You would not, I am sure, little one, wish me to sleep 
a la belle etoile?” 

And Marie, horrified at the bare notion of this god-like 
personage sleeping under a hedge in the open like any tramp, 
had shyly suggested that perhaps her father might consent to 
take him as a lodger. He had done the same thing in respect 
of English tourists once or twice before, provided—this with 
a vivid scarlet blush—they could pay well. 

“He can name his own price,” Quain had said. 

And old Contenelle, having caught the village gossip con¬ 
cerning the stranger as it flew from mouth to mouth, had 
named a pretty stiff one. 

So it came about that Quain had been lodging for some 
ten days or more with the Contenelles when, on this bluest 
of blue summer mornings, he lay on the sands and watched 


The Death Rocks 53 

the brown and yellow sails of the fishing smacks as they 
came in on the tide. 

“Look jolly, don’t they?” he commented idly. “Know 
whose they are, Marie?” 

She seemed to drag her eyes unwillingly away from their 
absorbed contemplation of his lean face.. 

“The first one is Pierre Pougard’s boat,” she said. “He 
is not often late returning. Without doubt he has a fine 
catch. Et voila Armand Bigot who follows. Ah! He knows 
well how to sail a boat, that one!” 

Quain smiled. 

“But he didn’t know how to win your heart, eh, Marie ?” 
he suggested whimsically. 

The red blood rushed into her face, staining it scarlet 
from the tip of her rounded chin to the broad, low brow 
whence the dark hair lay folded back on either side like 
ravens’ wings. 

“Non, monsieur ” she replied in a stifled voice. 

The man’s eyes travelled slowly downward from her 
flushed face to her feet. The latter were bare, tanned to a 
delicious golden-brown, and now, as she spoke, her supple 
toes were digging into the sand convulsively. 

“Don’t do that!” he exclaimed peremptorily. “You’ll 
spoil your pretty nails.” 

He laid his hand lightly on the restless feet and they stayed 
suddenly still beneath his touch. But he could feel them 
pulsing under his hand, as the body of some frightened bird 
that has been caught may palpitate. 

He lifted one of the slender members and, holding it poised 
on his palm, regarded it critically. 

“It’s the loveliest foot!” he said softly, as though to him¬ 
self. “With nails as filbert as the nails of any society 
woman’s fingers.” 

Marie stood almost rigid beside the rock, her hands pressed 
stiffly, palm downwards, against its sun-warmed surface. 
Only her breast rose and fell unevenly as the touch of his 


54 Waves of Destiny 

hand on her soft, bare flesh sent little quivering thrills of 
ecstasy flying like fire through all her veins. 

Suddenly she tore her foot from his clasp. 

“Ah! Lachez-moi —let me go, monsieur!” 

And in an instant she had fled from him, rushing away 
across the golden sands like a startled deer. 

With a muttered exclamation Quain sprang to his feet 
and dashed in pursuit, the keenness of the hunter suddenly 
leaping to life in him. 

The ill-matched race was inevitably of short duration. 
JThe man’s long strides covered almost twice the ground of 
each flying step of the small hare feet that flitted desperately 
ahead, and in a few moments she was lying in his arms, 
panting, her head thrown back against his chest, her quiver¬ 
ing mouth, like a scarlet fruit, just beneath his own. 

He stooped his head and kissed her full on the lips. Then, 
as she lay still in tremulous surrender, he said quickly: 

“Could I win your heart, Marie ? Could I V 9 

It was a moment before she answered, and when she did 
there was an odd little catch in her voice—half pain, half 
ecstasy—that went straight to the heart like the appeal of 
a child. 

“Ah, monsieur — monsieur! But you know! My heart— 
he is all yours!” 

His arms tightened round her. 

“Then kiss me!” he said imperiously. “Kiss me back, 
Marie!” 

She lifted her face obediently and kissed him with an 
innocent fervour that yielded him her very soul. 

“Je f adore !” she whispered. 

2 

“It is wonderful you should love me like this,” murmured 
Marie in soft amazement. 


The Death Rocks 55 

An hour, two hours, had gone by. They had neither of 
them kept count of time. 

“You, a so famous artist and I merely a poor fisherman’s 
daughter. . . . But we are not really poor, mon bien-aime. 
I shall have a good dot ”—looking up at him with a shy, 
proud anxiety for his approval. 

“And I will he une bonne 'petite femme —a good little wife 
when we are married, my Christophe. I will cook and bake 
and sew, and tend well the house while you paint the great 
pictures that shall make you even more famous still.” 

Married! Wife! These two words leaped at Quain’s 
consciousness. The rest of her innocent chatter faded into 
a meaningless blur of words. 

Marie Contenelle had evidently accepted that hot, swift 
love-making of his as the preliminary to marriage! Humbly, 
thankfully even, with an infinitely touching modesty and 
diffidence, but, none the less, just as simply and naturally 
as a woman of his own class might have done. 

It was wonderful, of course, amazing—a miracle of le bon 
dieu —that a monsieur so high-placed should have deigned to 
love the daughter of old Pierre Contenelle. But since it had 
actually happened, she accepted the fact with a childlike 
faith, and the arms of her love reached up passionately to 
his that had stooped so far to find it. 

It had never entered her direct and candid mind to 
imagine that he could mean anything other than marriage. 

Quain, startled and somewhat conscience-stricken, began 
to ask himself what in the name of thunder he bad meant ? 

Why—why—he had meant nothing at all, really, in the 
first instance. It was only that it was summer time and 
the blood ran quick in his veins, while Petit Coin seemed a 
little corner of the world predestined for love and romance. 
And the warmth of the golden sunlight, the spurring tang 
of the brine blown in from the bluest of seas, Marie’s sheer 
loveliness and the young, helpless passion that trembled 


56 Waves of Destiny 

through her limbs at the touch of his hand on her soft, bare 
feet, had all combined to rush him into impetuous speech 
before he quite knew what he was doing. 

And now, how on earth was he to tell her—how make her 
understand that he had actually meant nothing, demanded 
no more than those kisses which she had yielded him, mouth 
to mouth, her heart upon her lips ? How put into words the 
crude fact that he had no intention—never had had any— 
of marrying her ? 

And yet —why not? The sudden question jarred his 
thoughts to an abrupt standstill, like a brake applied to a 
revolving wheel. 

Why not ? He was free. Oh, aye! He had earned the 
freedom to do as he willed with his life five years ago—and 
paid the price for it. Why, after all, should he not wed 
Marie Contenelle? Of course, he could not take her back 
to England with him and make her chatelaine of that stately 
house of his to which it had become a much-prized privilege 
to be invited. But he could give her a little home of her 
own, here by the sea at Petit Coin, to which he would come 
as occasion offered. And he could make her utterly and 
entirely happy. 

He knew he could do this, even though all that he had 
once called love lay dead within him. For when a woman 
loves with the primitive, adoring passion of Marie Contenelle, 
to be possessed of the loved one holds a supreme happiness 
that nothing on earth can ever take away. 

And in return she would pour out for him all the treasure 
of her love, after a time, perhaps even thawing that frozen 
heart of his a little. At Petit Coin there would be a 
quiet haven shut away from the world where he would be 
always welcomed, and where, at least, he would never find 
anything but love and simplicity and truth. 

And perhaps, some day, there would be the sound of little 
footsteps about the cottage, baby voices lisping a quaint mix¬ 
ture of French and English. For a moment the bitter look 


The Death Rocks 57 

died out of Quain’s tirbll eyes. Grim and self-contained as 
the man showed himself to the world at large, irretrievably 
embittered by something that lay always in the unforgotten 
past, be loved children as tenderly as a woman may—and 
comprehended them and won their hearts with an ease and 
swiftness which few women achieve. 

He and the kiddies always understood and trusted each 
other at sight. Perhaps it was the child they apprehended 
in him-—the eternal child that is always hidden somewhere 
in the make-up of genius—and which responded to and 
understood the child in them. 

“Christophe ? Of what art thou thinking ?” 

Marie’s soft voice broke the long silence wonderingly. 
There was so much to say; it seemed to her foolish to waste 
the golden moments. 

The man’s rather weary eyes rested on her consideringly. 

“I was thinking whether I ought to marry you or not, 
Marie,” he answered. “I’m not sure.” 

She slid her hand into his confidingly. 

“Me, I am sure—oh, quite sure!” 

“I don’t know,” he said gravely. “I don’t know.” 

“But—but why?” Her voice faltered suddenly, like a 
child’s on the verge of tears. The gravity of his tone had 
frightened her. 

“Why? Why, because you are so young and sweet and 
adorable, while I’m old and battered and world-weary-” 

“Non!” she interrupted indignantly. “You are not old 
nor battered!” 

He shook his head, smiling rather sadly. 

“I am—inside,” he replied. “But you, little one—you 
are like an opening flower. And you love me very much ?” 

“Oui, c’est vrai. I love you very much.” 

“While I,” he continued steadily, “have no love to give you. 
At least, not the same kind of love. It wouldn’t be a fair 
bargain between us.” 

“I do not make a bargain with the man I love,” protested 



58 Waves of Destiny 

Marie stoutly. “I—just love him.” Then, with sudden 
terror, a rush of self-depreciation flooding her whole being: 
“Is it that you do not want me? I know I am not good 
enough to be your wife, but oh! I love you, my Christophe 1 
Ah! Do not say you do not want me any more!” 

Her great eyes implored him, and he drew her into the 
curve of his arm, kissing her quivering, down-drooped lips 
into a tremulous smile. 

“Ho, no, it is not that,” he said soothingly. “Of course 
I want you, Marie. Who wouldn’t ? But I’m going to tell 
you a story and then—afterwards—it shall be for you to 
decide whether you will marry me or not.” 

She nestled against him. 

“Eh lien! I have decided now.” 

Quain shook her gently. 

“But you must listen first,” he said, smiling a little.. 
“Years ago, five years to be precise, I wasn’t what you are 
pleased to call a ‘famous artist.’ I was just a poor devil of a 
painter, struggling to make my way in the world—and not 
succeeding. And I was engaged to be married, which made 
it of the utmost importance that I should succeed. Because 
the woman I loved was the daughter of people who expected 
her to make a very fine marriage indeed. They were not 
rich themselves, but they contrived to live as though they 
were, so as to give their daughter her ‘chance.’ ” 

“Was she very beautiful ?” asked Marie swiftly. 

The man’s eyes dreamed a moment, as though they beheld 
some inner vision. 

“Very beautiful,” he answered simply. “All white and 
gold like a tall madonna lily.” 

“And—and you loved her very much?” 

“So much that when she threw me over—jilted the poor 
unknown painter in favour of the wealthy Lord Delmorne— 3 
my heart dried up. And that is why I say it would not be 
fair of me to marry you.” 


The Death Rocks 59 

“Do you mean”—Marie’s eyes widened with incredulous 
horror—“do you mean she did not marry you because you 
were— poor? That she married this other monsieur —Milor’ 
Delmorne—just because he was much richer?” 

“Very much richer,” replied Quain shortly. “Yes, you’ve 
put the case in a nutshell, Marie.. It’s often done, you 
know—in society.” 

“She can never have loved you!” stated Marie with 
simplicity. 

“Well—not as much as I was fool enough to imagine, evi¬ 
dently. I begged her to wait for me—I knew I should suc¬ 
ceed some day. But, you see, she, too, was poor. So she 
couldn’t wait. That’s all.” 

“And you love her still—still?” Marie hardly breathed 
the words. 

“ISTo. I shall never love her—or any one—again. That’s 
why I say I ought not to marry you., Do you want to marry 
a man with a dead heart, Marie ?” 

She nodded. 

“Yes, please. For my love, it is so great it will make him 
to live again.” 

Quain rose and, stooping, lifted her to her feet beside him. 
£They stood together with the golden sunlight all about them. 

“Very well,” he said, half mockingly, half tenderly. 
“Have it your own way. We’ll be married as soon as ever I 
have finished my picture of Ste. Corinne. But I’m afraid 
you’re getting a mighty poor bargain, my Marie, when all’s 
said and done.” 

3 

For a week things went on very much as usual. Daily 
Marie would row Quain out across the bay to the Caverne 
du Diable, a great cave at the foot of the cliff which he had 
chosen for his “studio,” since it tunnelled its way into the 


60 


Waves of Destiny 

rock at the most seaward point of the western arm of the hay, 
affording a glimpse of Ste. Corinne, with the wide sea beyond, 
that delighted his artist’s sonl. 

Here, in the mouth of the cave, sheltered alike from sun 
and wind, he worked at his picture. Sometimes Marie would 
remain, lingering to watch him at his work with adoring 
eyes, but more often she would return home across the bay 
and busy herself with her household duties, rowing back 
again in the afternoon to fetch him. 

For it was Marie who alone knew the only safe channel 
by which the Devil’s Cavern might be approached. Indeed, 
it was she who had first brought the spot to Quain’s notice 
as a possible coign of vantage from which to paint his picture, 
since no other among the fisher-folk of Ste. Corinne cared to 
venture there. 

There were strange stories told about the Caverne du 
Diable. For one thing, it was said to be haunted, and that 
whoever approached it did so at the peril of his immortal 
soul. For another—and, since most people are more con¬ 
cerned over the safety of their mortal bodies than over that 
of their immortal souls, this constituted probably the real 
ground upon which the place was shunned—the entrance to 
the cavern was guarded by a series of wicked-looking ridges 
of rock—the Death Rocks, they were called—toothed like the 
jaw of a rat and calculated to rip the bottom out of a boat 
as easily as one cuts butter with a sharp knife. 

And at high tides, when those murderous teeth were 
hidden just beneath the surface of the water, to approach 
the cavern was a matter of no inconsiderable danger and 
only to be attempted by one who knew to an inch the lie of 
the channel through which a boat might pass in safety. 

At Ste. Corinne the fisher-folk declared that Marie Con- 
tenelle knew it as she knew the palm of her hand, so they 
left it to her to act as ferryman across the bay to the mad 
Englishman who had chosen such an unblest spot from which 
to paint his picture. 


The Death Rocks 


61 


Marie used to love the walk home in the evening from 
the little stone jetty where she moored her boat, up to her 
father’s cottage on the hill, with Quain strolling beside her 
with that long, lazy stride of his which she found “so 
English” and so altogether adorable. 

The man, too, grew to count upon it—to look forward to 
it as a fitting close to the day’s work. It seemed to him in 
some way to symbolise the simple, tranquil life that would 
be theirs at Petit Coin when he and Marie were man and 
wife—the woman, the home-maker, coming to meet her mate 
in the cool of the evening after the labour of the day was 
past. 

And then, suddenly, without any warning, the fates that 
watch and make and mar snatched up the skein of their two 
lives and twisted it into inextricable confusion. 

It happened one evening, just as they had returned from 
the Caverne du Diable. Marie was kneeling on the lowest 
step of the jetty, making fast the boat’s painter to an iron 
ring, when she heard a sudden violent exclamation break 
from Quain, a cry of anger or bewilderment—she hardly 
knew what it held. 

Her eyes flew to him where he stood at the top of the flight 
of stone steps. His figure was taut and rigid, and his face, 
in the clear evening light, had grown all at once grey and 
haggard. Marie’s glance flashed onward, seeking what he 
saw that had so changed and altered him. 

A woman was standing at the edge of the jetty, straight 
and slender and pliant as a hazel rod, silhouetted against the 
flaming background of the sunset sky. 

Marie looked at her, and knew in the same instant that 
it was the Englishwoman—the woman Quain had loved. 

She was very beautiful. Gold hair swathed round a fine, 
small head, ivory skin hardly less white than the pearly 
gleam of the white gown she was wearing—“all white and 
gold like a tall madonna lily.” And out of that whiteness 


62 Waves of Destiny 

stared eyes blue like hyacinths—tragic, imploring eyes—and 
a broken murmur came from lips that shook. 

“Christopher. . . . Oh, Chris!” 

The appeal of it might have melted a heart of stone. But 
apparently it fell on deaf ears, for Quain, turning to help 
Marie up the last uneven steps, merely bowed and made as 
though to pass on. 

“Chris, won’t you even speak to me V* came the soft, 
dragging voice once more. 

The man hesitated an instant. 

“I think we have nothing to say to each other—you and 
I,” he answered quietly. 

Then, suddenly, with a curious grim deliberation: 

“This is my fiancee—Mademoiselle Contenelle.” 

The woman drew back with a cry so quickly stifled that 
it sounded hardly more than a, caught breath. Then, turning 
to Marie, she held out her hand. 

“I hope you will be very happy,” she said gently. 

What that supreme effort must have cost her, Marie did 
not know. She did not even think of it. She was only aware 
of a grace and graciousness that was part of some world of 
which she—simple Marie Contenelle—had no cognisance. 
She knew it must be Christopher’s world. And she was 
acutely conscious, as she stood beside this soft-voiced, white 
and golden woman, of her own homespun skirt and bare 
brown feet, and of the black hair and sun-tanned skin that 
had seemed attractive enough when last the little mirror 
hung on the cottage wall had shown them to her. Now she 
felt that they were coarse and common—that she herself was, 
after all, only a peasant fishergirl, miles removed from this 
madonna lily of a woman. 

All next day and the day after that Marie’s thoughts 
centred round the Englishwoman, hating her with a bitter 
hatred. It was true that Christopher had refused to speak 
with her, that he had openly—almost triumphantly— 
acknowledged old Contenelle’s daughter as his future wife, 


63 


The Death Rocks 

but in her heart of hearts Marie knew that this other was 
the woman he loved—and would always love. She had seen 
his eyes as they had met the gaze of those beseeching blue 
ones —and she Jcnew, 

And the next day Quain did not go to the Caverne du 
Diable. A letter had come for him by the morning post. 
Marie herself had taken it from the hands of the facteur as 
he went his rounds—a letter in a white, square envelope, 
faintly fragrant of violets, and after Christopher had read 
it he had told her that she should have a holiday from row¬ 
ing him across the bay that day—that he felt disinclined for 
work and that one must never paint unless one felt in the 
mood. 

There were several occasions after that when, apparently, 
Quain was not “in the mood” for work, and then came the 
day when Marie, returning from a marketing expedition to 
Ste. Corinne and taking a short cut through the woods that 
lay between the village and Petit Coin, caught a glimpse of 
a white gown and close beside it the blurred grey of Christo¬ 
pher’s tweed coat—the coat she brushed for him so conscien¬ 
tiously each evening that it might be ready for his use on 
the morrow. 

She stepped behind the trunk of a tree, and, as she stood 
hidden there, she heard Quain’s voice, shaken with pain and 
longing. 

“I could never believe in you—never trust you again, 
yirginia. . . . You failed me once—utterly!” 

“I know.” The soft, broken voice she had heard on the 
Jetty came in answer. “I know. But I have been punished, 
Chris! My life with Delmorne was unspeakable. And now 
1 —now that he is dead, can’t we ever be happy together—* 
you and I % Give me another chance, Chris-” 

Somehow—she never quite knew how she accomplished it 
•—Marie contrived to slip away unseen. She could not bear 
to listen to that soft, sweet voice pleading—pleading so 
that surely no man could resist its supplication for very long! 



64 Waves of Destiny 

And, as she made her way back to the cottage, something 
wild and untamed sprang to life within her—the savage, 
primitive instinct of a woman to guard and keep her own, 
to fight for the individual possession of the man she has 
chosen as her mate. 

When, later, Quain returned, he found her sitting brood¬ 
ing over the fire. She rose slowly, and faced him with eyes 
in which smouldered a dull fire of mingled pain and anger. 

“You love her—that Englishwoman !” 

She flung the accusation at him. 

“Yes,” he acknowledged simply. “I love her. I did not 
know I could still love her. I’m sorry, Marie.” 

A sudden fear clutched at her heart. 

“You’re not going back to her—say you’re not going back 
to her?” 

“No,” he said quietly. “I’m not going back to her. You 
need not be afraid, Marie. You see, though I love her, I 
don’t trust her enough—to go back.” 

Marie flew to him and laid her arms about his neck. 

“I will make it all up to you, adore . Some day when I 
shall have given you a son, you will forget—forget that you 
ever loved the Englishwoman.” 

But in her heart she knew that he would never forget, 
and that a time might come when love would at last teach 
him how to trust again. And when that time should come, 
her own happiness would be swept away for ever. 

4 

Marie stooped over the iron pot which swung above the 
fire and stirred its contents. It was nearly supper time— 
one keeps early hours at Petit Coin—and the savoury stew 
simmering in the black pot was all ready to serve as soon as 
Quain should return from the Caverne du Diable. 

He had gone there alone to-day. By this time he knew 
the channel between the rocks almost as well as Marie her- 


The Death Rocks 65 

self, and she had felt no qualms for his safety when she had 
informed him this morning that he must row across to the 
cavern by himself, beaching the boat on the narrow strip of 
stone upon which the cave debouched. As for her, she pur¬ 
posed accomplishing a “big wash” and could not go with 
him. 

“Thy silk shirts alone are the affair of one woman, ex¬ 
travagant one!” she had added, taking obvious pride and 
delight in his lordly unconcern for such trivial details. 

But now it was getting late—later than his wonted hour 
for returning. She knew he had hoped to complete his pic¬ 
ture to-day. Possibly ho had delayed a little in order to add 
the final touches. 

She crossed the room to the window and looked out. She 
could see her father digging in the garden, but there was no 
sign of the familiar beloved figure swinging up the hillside 
road, and once more she returned to stir the mixture bubbling 
in the pot above the fire. 

A few minutes later came a knocking at the door—uncer¬ 
tain, apprehensive, yet conveying a sort of desperate deter¬ 
mination in its persistence. Marie lifted the latch with a 
feeling of curiosity. Who could it be at this hour of the. 
evening ? 

As she opened the door a woman’s figure half stumbled,, 
half fell into the room, and Marie instinctively put out her 
hand to steady her. Then, with a sharp cry, she snatched it 
back again, for the woman who confronted her, swaying on 
her feet, was Virginia Delmorne—the woman Christopher 
loved. 

She was drawing her breath in great gasps like one who 
has run to the limit of exhaustion, and her face was grey- 
white save for two patches of dull crimson, born of stress, 
high up on the cheek-bones. Her forehead was rimmed with 
little beads of sweat and the dishevelled gold hair clung to 
her brow in dark wet rings. The hyacinth-blue eyes were 
wide and staring, dilated with some mortal fear. 


66 Waves of Destiny 


But her obvious condition of distress struck no spark of 
sympathy from Marie’s heart—she, usually so pitiful and 
eager to give help and succour. 

“Why have you come here ?’’ she demanded stiffly. x ou 

are not welcome, madame!” . . 

A sudden look of impatience flashed across Virginia s 


strained face. . 

“Oh, never mind all that now,” she cried harshly. .Lis¬ 
ten! Christopher is in danger. He is at the cavern . . . 
without a boat. . . .” 

Her gasping breath failed her, and Marie struck in scom- 


“You speak without knowledge, madame. He has taken 
the boat. I did not row him across this morning.” 

“I know_I know. But he must have let her get adrift 

. . . while he was painting.” She pressed her hand to her 
side, then continued with an effort. “The boat is in the bay 
... it has drifted in. You can see it from the shore.” 

“Drifted in?” repeated Marie stupidly. 

“Yes. Don’t you understand? Oh, my God! You must 
understand! It is high tide soon a spring tide, they tell 
me, when the cavern fills right up to the roof. And Christo¬ 
pher is there!” ; 

A sudden cry of anguish tore its way from Marie’s 


lips. | 

“La grande maree! Mother of God! I had forgotten!” 

“Yes, yes !”■—desperately. “La grande maree —the spring 
tide. And no one will go—no one will face the Death 
Eocks. So I came here. You must go! You must save 
him!” I 

As though at the end of her tether, Virginia sank back 
against the wall, clutching at the framework of the door. 

“There’s not a man amongst all those cowards will go,” 
she cried chokingly. “They are afraid—afraid of the devil, 
they say. And I can’t manage a boat—helpless fool that I 
am! . . . You’ll go?”—imploringly. 


The Death Rocks 


67 


“Go ? Of course I go!” flung back Marie. And ran out 
of tbe cottage, leaving the other still leaning, spent and ex¬ 
hausted, against the wall. 

But the next moment Marie returned, walking swiftly. 
Her face was a pallid white beneath its tan, and in her eyes 
was a new, strange look—a look of determination. And 
something more—something inexplicably triumphant. 

Virginia’s drooping figure straightened. 

“You have not gone!” she cried, her voice shrill with 
dismay. 

“Ho,” she said. “Why, after all, should I go? Why 
should I seek to save him —for youV’ 

“For me—what do you mean? Oh, don’t waste time 
talking crazily like that! Go—go!” 

“I am not crazy. I know—you know it, too—that some 
day he will come back to you”—with conviction. “He— 
loves you.” 

“Loves me? What does it matter whom he loves? For 
God’s sake, go!” Virginia smote her hands together 
despairingly. 

“It matters to me,” returned Marie stubbornly. 

To Virginia, she appeared to be utterly unmoved, stolidly 
oblivious of the momentarily increasing danger which 
threatened the man whom she professed to love down there 
by the Death Rocks. 

Actually, it was only by an almost superhuman effort 
of self-control that Marie stilled her body, forcibly leashing 
its straining muscles whilst she quivered to be gone. 

Her hands were clenched; the only sign of the turmoil of 
her spirit revealed itself in the* restless movement of her bare 
toes which twisted and twitched against the wooden floor 
incessantly. 

“He loves you—and some day he will come back to you,” 
she repeated monotonously. 

Virginia could have struck her. Her agony of impa¬ 
tience manifested itself in a sudden fierce desire to hurt. 


68 Waves of Destiny 

‘‘Yes, lie will come back to me,” she retorted savagely. 
“Unless you’d rather let bim die !” 

Then, unable to endure the torture of delay another 
moment, sbe almost screamed: “Ob, go! For tbe love of 
beaven, go!” 

But Marie made no motion to obey. Instead, sbe drew a 
step nearer to tbe shaking, agonised figure of tbe other 
woman. 

“If I go,” sbe said slowly, “will you give bim up ?” 

“Give bim up ?” 

“Yes. Show bim”—deliber/ately—“that you have not 
changed—that you are no more to be trusted now than you 
were five years ago. Tell bim you have but been fooling bim 
again—that you are already fiancee , promised to another. 

... . . Otherwise—I do not go.” 

Virginia drew back from her slowly, staring at her with 
wide, horrified eyes. 

“Do you mean it?” sbe said in dry, whispering tones. 
Then, with bitter contempt: “Is that your price for bis 
life?” 

Marie nodded. 

“Yes. If you love bim”—implacably—“you will pay it.” 

For a moment Virginia bid her face, and Marie could 
see only tbe gold hair and tbe white bands covering tbe 
still whiter face. Tbe madonna lily was broken now—beaten 
down to tbe earth by tbe storm that bad swept over it. 

When at length Virginia uncovered her face Marie almost 
flinched from it. It reminded her of the face of tbe tortured 
saint in a picture sbe bad seen one day at tbe convent. 

“Go!” Virginia’s lips moved stiffly. “Go and save bim—* 
for yourself. I will—do—as you say.” 

Like an arrow suddenly released Marie fled out of tbe cot¬ 
tage and down tbe bill to tbe shore. Precious moments bad 
been wasted in that fight with tbe Englishwoman for posses¬ 
sion of tbe man they both loved. But there was still time—• 
time to save bim. And sbe bad won—Christopher was hers 


The Death Rocks 


69 


now. He would never think any more of this woman who 
would force him to believe that she had deceived him twice—* 
twice ! 

Arrived at the shore she found a little knot of people 
gathered there—two or three fisher-lads and a handful of 
women gazing uneasily towards the Devil’s Cavern, where 
already the incoming sea had barred the entrance with a 
foam-flecked rim of water. 

Prisoned behind that churning barrier of clamorous sea 
the man she loved awaited death. Marie’s heart beat high, 
for it was she—she who would bring him life! 

She alone of the two hundred souls in Ste. Corinne had 
nerve and skill enough to manoeuvre a boat safely in and out 
again from that cavern, even though la grande maree had 
already flooded its floor. 

She bestowed one fierce, sweeping glance of contempt upon 
the little crowd collected on the shore. 

“Cowards! Poltrons!” she flung at them. 

Then, with firm hands, she gripped the gunwale of one 
of the small boats beached high up on the shore and pre¬ 
pared to run it down to the water’s edge. Half a dozen will¬ 
ing hands stretched out to help her. Gladly enough would 
any or all of the lads who crowded round have gonp to the 
rescue of the Englishman had it involved but the facing of a 
rough sea. The sea was a familiar enemy. But the evil 
spirit that lurked in the Devil’s Cavern—him they dared not 
face. To attempt to rescue a man from the grip of the Diable 
de la Caverne was to court certain death—and perhaps other 
things worse than death! 

And as Marie bent to her oars, and sent the boat shearing 
through the water, they watched her as men may watch one 
of their fellows go to what they believe to be his doom. 


The sun was setting when Marie shipped her oars at the 
side of the jetty. The tide was almost at its full now, heav- 


70 Waves of Destiny 

ing quietly, and the boat rocked easily on the surface of the 
water. . In the stern lay the motionless figure of a man. 

“He is hut stunned/ 7 explained Marie coolly to those who 
came hurrying forward to help. “That is all. He did not 
stoop low enough as we came out from the cavern and he 
struck his head. 77 

Then she looked up and saw Virginia standing on the 
jetty. By some chance hap the men had laid Quain 7 s uncon¬ 
scious figure almost at her feet, and Marie saw her kneel 
swiftly and lift his head, pillowing it against her bosom. The 
gold hair, loosened from the pins which held it, fell sud¬ 
denly forward like a glimmering curtain, hiding his face 
from Marie’s eyes. 

It seemed to her symbolical. Strange thoughts had taken 
birth within her as she rowed her helpless burden back across 
the bay. Somewhere behind the seething triumph which 
obsessed her a secret shame had stirred—shame at the bar¬ 
gain she had driven—slowly but very surely making of that 
triumph a thing of naught, valueless and futile. And with 
it came an odd, unwilling admiration for the other woman 
who had bought the life she loved at such a bitter price. 

Marie’s primitive soul grappled with the new significances 
it was dimly apprehending. Love did not mean only posses¬ 
sion, then. Sometimes, it seemed, it fulfilled itself in renun¬ 
ciation. 

Her eyes fastened curiously upon the two central figures 
of the little group upon the quay. Behind that shining veil 
of hair the man she had called her lover rested against the 
breast, of the woman whom he loved. . . . 

Slowly Marie bent forward till her face was on a level 
with Virginia’s. 

“He loved you—only you, madame ” she said in a queer, 
shaken voice. “See, I give him you.” 

She turned away quickly, and, stepping back into the boat, 
set her with her bows once more towards the Caverne du 
Diable. 


The Death Rocks 


71 


It was a few moments before the little throng gathered 
about Quain and Virginia realised that she had gone. Then, 
with one accord, they surged frantically forward to the edge 
of the jetty, waving and gesticulating to that solitary figure 
in the boat, calling on her to turn back. 

But she paid no heed, driving her craft through the water 
with swift, steady strokes as though responding to some other 
voice, a voice which she alone could hear, that bade her 
hasten—hasten. . . . 

An d presently the straining eyes of the watchers on the 
quay saw the boat cross the pathway of flame which the set¬ 
ting sun had cast upon the sea and head straight for the Rocks 
of Death. . . . 


The fisher-folk of Ste. Corinne still tell you many queer 
tales of the ill-omened Caverne du Diable. But all agree in 
this, that whosoever is foolhardy enough to venture there, 
even though he may have the luck to come back in safety, 
will sooner or later, without rhyme or reason, feel himself 
impelled to return thither, and that then, no matter how well 
he may know the channel, he will be dashed to pieces on the 
Death Rocks. 

For Marie Contenelle knew the lie of the channel as the 
palm of her hand—she, who went to and fro to the cavern in 
safety a score or more of times. Yet, in the end, was she 
not seen to row, bows foremost, straight on to the rocks and 
meet the death they promised % 


CHAPTER IV 


THE LITTLE POOL'S WISDOM 

‘‘CJHE’S a little fool!” commented Sadie Brunner 

O tersely. 

As she spoke, her honest grey eyes rested irritably on the 
retreating figures of a man and girl who had just quitted the 
club together and were making their way leisurely towards 
the tennis courts. The girl swung her racket self-consciously 
as she walked, as though defiantly aware of the fusillade of 
disapproving glances which pursued her from the veranda. 

“An arrant little fool,” reiterated Sadie, twisting her tall 
tumbler meditatively round and round between her hands so 
that the lump of ice which floated on the surface of its con¬ 
tents clinked refreshingly against the sides of the glass. 

“Or a knave,” countered the thin, acrid voice of the senior 
major’s wife. 

Sadie, being young and kind-hearted, and only the wife 
of a subaltern, was disposed to take a less prejudiced view. 

“Oh, she’s too unsophisticated for that, don’t you think? 
I should say”—her eyes twinkling—“Gayer Eorrest is the 
knave. Bad man!”—indulgently. 

“Gayer’s not bad—only sad!” put in another woman in a 
voice of lazy amusement. “The sun’s dropped out of his 
sky—temporarily—so he’s pursuing the nearest star.” 

“Somebody should warn her,” suggested the doctor’s wife. 

“And be accused of green-eyed jealousy for their pains!” 
returned the last speaker with a wry smile. “The suburban 
temperament doesn’t take kindly to advice.” 

“Is that where she hails from—the suburbs ?” asked some 
one else. 

“Isn’t it self-evident?” sneered the senior major’s wife. 

72 


The Little Fool’s Wisdom 73 

“Address: Mentone Villa, Acacia Avenue, Tooting, I sliould 
imagine.” 

It was too hot for any very vehement discussion, hut the 
idle talk was tinged with an inimical note that there was no 
mistaking. A three months’ bride who has left her husband 
sweltering in the plains and proceeds to amuse herself without 
apparently bestowing a single further thought upon him, 
incidentally attaching to her chariot-wheels the best-looking 
man in the regiment—and another woman’s property at 
that!—is likely to provoke a certain amount of hostility in 
even the least rancorous of Indian hill-stations. And in this 
respect Maisie Derafield had indubitably succeeded. The 
feminine portion of Dhurrapor# had turned against her to a 
woman. 

IsTot that they were particularly cliquish. On the con¬ 
trary, Dhurrapore bore the reputation of being rather hos¬ 
pitably inclined towards the stranger within its gates. And 
when Maisie arrived, looking somewhat frightened and for¬ 
lorn, and with appealing shadows underneath pathetic hazel 
eyes, while the news travelled swiftly round that circum¬ 
stances had compelled her to leave her husband in the plains 
a bare three months after their wedding-day, she had received 
the friendliest kind of welcome. The whole station seemed 
to have combined to cheer and entertain her, and prove to her 
that although India is a land of sharp, unforeseen partings 
and sudden hardship, it is, too, a land of enchantment and 
romance and gaiety—the more vivid and concentrated, per¬ 
haps, because no one of the players knows in how long or short 
a time the game may be abruptly cut short and the grim 
earnest of life and death adventure thrust in its place. 

“What on earth induced you to saddle yourself with her, 
Brenda, dear ?” inquired Mrs. Somers, the woman who had 
credited Maisie with a “suburban temperament.” 

Brenda Hartog smiled. She was a quiet, kindly-eyed 
woman who looked out on the world with the humorous toler¬ 
ance born of many years’ experience of life in India. 


74 Waves of Destiny 

“I’ve kept a more or less maternal eye on Percy Derafield 
ever since lie came out from home,” she replied. His 
mother and I were at school together ” 

“Good gracious! Percy's mother!" came in chorus. 

“What was she like ?” demanded Mrs. Somers curiously. 

Again Brenda smiled. 

“Very much like you or me,” she answered dryly. “But 
she married wrong, and Percy's the result. He's just like 
his father—commonplace and hopelessly dull, hut a good 
little fellow for all that—and besottedly in love with Maisie. 
He simply couldn't have afforded to send her to the hills. 
So I asked her to stay with me.” 

“How decent of you!” exclaimed Sadie impulsively. 

Mrs. Hartog's glance strayed in the direction of the tennis 
courts. 

“I hope I'm not going to regret it,” she said rather du¬ 
biously. 

She felt even less optimistic a few evenings later, when, 
at one of the many dances wherewith Dhurrapore cultivated a 
light heart and a lean figure, she observed Gayer Forrest 
dancing with Maisie for what she felt convinced was the 
seventh time in succession. 

“I know I've counted six!” Unconsciously she spoke 
aloud, and the eyes of the man standing beside her twinkled 
down at her with some amusement. 

“Forrest and your protegee, you mean?” he said, laugh¬ 
ing. “If your arithmetic will stand the strain, I dare say 
you’ll be able to treble that before the evening's over.” 

Mrs. Hartog made no answer. Only her lips closed a little 
more tightly as she watched Forrest and his partner glide 
smoothly past—Maisie, her small, eager face uptilted, while 
Gayer, with bent fair head, made open and outrageous love 
to her with those gay, reckless blue eyes of his—eyes that 
feared neither man nor devil and never bothered about the 
angels. 

Maisie's young, unfledged soul thrilled as she met their 



The Little Fool’s Wisdom 75 

glance. USTot even at the crucial moment when he had asked 
her to marry him had Percy’s eyes held a hundredth part of 
the tense significance which Gayer Forrest’s managed to 
convey. She felt herself menaced with the fiery ardours of 
a grande 'passion, one which had flamed into being—just as 
it did in novels—too late, and she realised with a species of 
fearful delight that she was treading on thin ice and rather 
enjoying the process. 

Presently Gayer drew her out on to the veranda—no longer 
a thing constructed of material roof and flooring, hut a moon- 
washed fairy palace of queer lights and shadows through 
which they passed into the mysterious, scented silence of the 
gardens beyond. 

“Well ?” he asked. “Have you made up your mind yet V 9 

“Made up my mind ? What about ?” 

“About India. Don’t yotL remember? A month or two 
ago you told me you weren’t at all sure if you’d like it.” 

Maisie shook her head. 

“I’d been having a horrid time, then. It was all strange 
to me, you see—the money and the servants and everything. 
And I’m terrified of snakes—and I found one in the bath¬ 
room one day!” She laughed. “Looking back, it seems silly 
and childish, of course.” 

“So you like India— now?” 

There was a challenge in the question. With a faint acces¬ 
sion of colour, she answered: 

“Yes, I like it now.” 

“So do I,” he responded confidently. 

She lifted a pair of big, questioning eyes. 

“You ? But then you must always have liked it. You—* 
you’ve been here years!” 

“Yes—years.” A touch of bitterness harshened his voice. 
Perhaps his thoughts had travelled swiftly back over those 
long years, realising their barrenness. “But I’ve felt in¬ 
fernally lonely lately—till you came.” 

Maisie’s heart grew big. She flashed a swift upward 


76 Waves of Destiny 

glance at his face—good-looking beyond the average, a trifle 
lined, with its half-cynical, half-amused mouth and reck¬ 
less, dissatisfied eyes. 

“I should never have thought of you as a lonely person,” 
she said. “You’ve so many friends.” 

“Friends?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Friends are a 
poor substitute when you’ve missed the one thing that really 
matters.” 

She was pilent. Did he mean—was he trying to tell her 
that he cared, that they had come into each other’s lives— 
too late ? 

“Maisie!’’ The man’s voice roughened suddenly. She 
looked extraordinarily pretty as she stood there in the drift¬ 
ing moonlight—warm red hair and milky skin, the slender¬ 
ness of her immature figure giving her a curious fictitious 
grace. The slight commonness—a commonness not so much 
of feature as of a shallow little mind—which characterised 
her face was hardly perceptible, momentarily transmuted by 
the magic alchemy of moonlight. Her hands hung loosely 
at her sides. 

“Maisie!” Gayer caught them swiftly in his—soft, 
dimpled, characterless small hands, with no significance other 
than that of essential femininity. 

“Oh!” Just the sound of a half-caught breath, almost 
voiceless. She swayed towards him, her slight young breast 
rising and falling in sudden tumult. 

Forrest hesitated. She was very young and new to life as 
it is lived under the hot suns of exile, where the game of love 
is often played lightly enough—sometimes just because there 
is nothing else to do, sometimes because the loneliness of 
separation is almost unbearable, and nine times out of ten 
without much harm to any one concerned. But Maisie had 
only been married a few months. Perhaps she had not yet 
learned the art of playing with fire without any subsequent 
burning of fingers. Slowly Gayer relinquished his clasp of 
her hands. 


The Little Fool’s Wisdom 77 

“I’d forgotten Derafield,” lie said abruptly. “Forgive me, 
Maisie.” 

“There’s nothing to forgive/’ she replied in her clear, 
composed little voice. “I think I’d forgotten—Derafield— 
too.” 

He was conscious of a slight shock. A woman twice her 
age couldn’t have given him his cue with more complete 
sang-froid. The inference was obvious. Derafield might be 
her husband, but she was evidently not in the least in love 
with him. Gayer had made love to many women in his time, 
and to one woman in particular, but he was no home-breaker. 
The sense of responsibility which had checked him vanished 
with Maisie’s surprisingly collected announcement. 

“Then,” he said, in a voice that held a mixture of caress 
and appeal, “then we are—two—lonely people.” 

“Yes.” Her big eyes, mistily mournful in the moonlight, 
gazed up at him with a child-like simplicity of response. 

He swept her up into his arms, crushing. his lips down 
on to hers in passionate, stormy kisses that filled her with a 
tremulous mingling of fear and ecstasy. She struggled in 
his grasp instinctively, like a caught bird. Then, as the 
hard clasp of his arms only tightened round her, she yielded, 
conscious of a curious throbbing delight in her surrender to 
the man’s sheer physical strength. 

When he released her, she stood trembling a little. This, 
then, was love—the kind of love she had read about but 
never experienced. As unlike Percy’s staid, complacent 
love-making as fire is unlike water. With the recollection 
of Percy the whole tide of the conventions in which she had 
been reared rushed over her. 

“I think—I think we’d better go back to the ball-room,” 
she said primly. 

Porrest gave a short laugh. 

“Yes, I rather think we had,” he agreed sardonically. 

Together they turned and walked back, side by side, 
Gayer still shaken by the storm of passion which her soft, 


78 Waves of Destiny 

yielding femininity had aroused in him, Maisie wondering in 
her undiscriminating small mind when he was going to 
apologise for the liberty he had taken. She was quite pre¬ 
pared to forgive him, with a wistful graciousness, and tell 
him that he “mustn’t do it again.” To her intense astonish¬ 
ment, however, the idea of offering an apology never seemed 
to occur to him. Instead, he overruled her halting objec¬ 
tions and danced with her almost continuously throughout 
the evening—and “did it again” in the dimness of the small 
hours of the morning as he helped her out of the rickshaw 
which had carried her home to Mrs. Hartog’s bungalow. 

She undressed slowly, wrapt in her thoughts. This was 
the India of her dreams—a kind of glorified playground 
where unlimited dances and moonlight picnics were an 
intrinsic part of the programme, while the shackles of matri¬ 
mony lay lightly on the wrists that wore them, and where 
every woman with any pretensions to good looks was in¬ 
fallibly destined to be spoilt and fussed over by men who 
had little else to do but, dance attendance on her. 

Some such picture of the sort of existence she would hence¬ 
forth lead had formulated itself in her mind when Percy 
Derafield, a small cog in the Indian Civil Service, home on 
belated leave, had slipped an inexpensive engagement ring 
on to her finger. He assured her that she would thoroughly 
enjoy the life in India. “All women do,” he had added. 
“Especially”—with an adoring glance—“the pretty ones.” 
A year later he had sent for her to join him there, and at 
first she had received a rude awakening from her visions. 
She discovered that there were just as many pinpricky daily 
worries, though of a different kind, to contend with as there 
had been in the little suburban villa at home—with this dif¬ 
ference, that there was no kindly, commonplace mother at 
hand on to whose accustomed shoulders they could be con¬ 
veniently shifted. There was the same familiar shortage of 
money. Percy’s salary of eight hundred rupees a month 
sounded lordly enough until you came to calculate the rela- 


The Little Fool’s Wisdom 


79 


tive purchasing power of a rupee and an English pound. 
Then it dwindled appallingly. And in addition to these 
general disadvantages, there were others peculiar to the 
country, such as poisonous snakes, and mosquitoes, and an 
intense, nerve-destroying heat which sapped all Maisie’s 
young vitality. 

It was not until Mrs. Hartog’s invitation had brought her 
to Dhurrapore that her visions of Indian life showed any 
signs of materialising, and then, plunged suddenly into all 
the gaieties of a lively hill station, the excitement of it went 
to her head like wine. It had only needed Gayer Forrest’s 
openly evinced devotion to complete matters. 

Maisie lay in bed, staring into the warm darkness. She 
could still feel the strong clasp of Gayer’s arms about her 
slender, yielding body, the passionate pressure of his lips on 
hers, and a queer little thrill of triumph bubbled up inside 
her at the reflection that it was she—the one-time Maisie 
Saunders of Mentone Villa or its equivalent—who had cap¬ 
tured the allegiance of the man whom half the women in the 
station had fought and squabbled over at one time or another. 
It was rather a feather in her cap. Besides—he was gen¬ 
uinely in love! She had felt it in every nerve of her. If 
only she were not married! For the first time the idea pre¬ 
sented itself to Maisie that she had really rather thrown her¬ 
self away in marrying Percy. “We shall live in India my 
fiance is in the Indian Civil Service, you know.” It had 
invariably produced the right effect amid the narrow little 
circle in which she moved, and her mother s contempories had 
referred to the forthcoming marriage as “quite an excellent 
match.” 

At the time, Maisie certainly thought she was doing ex¬ 
tremely well for herself. FTow she was not quite so sure. 
She had also believed herself very much in love with Percy. 
She was not quite so sure of that, either. If only she could 
have stayed at Dhurrapore before her marriage! Met other 
inen—men like Gayer Forrest—and been able to form com- 


80 Waves of Destiny 

parisons. It was not fair on a girl to tie her up before she 
has had any experience. She went to sleep, conscious of a 
distinct sense of injury. 

The days that followed slipped by in a kind of dream—a 
dream of which Gayer Forrest was the dominating figure. 
There were early morning rides, alone with him, snatched 
interviews, breathless with a stimulating sense of secrecy 
and forbidden fruit, dances at which he partnered her almost 
exclusively, and, finally, a tennis tournament wherein he 
and she carried off the first prize for the mixed doubles right 
in the face of the whole of Dhurrapore. 

Brenda Hartog skilfully fended off criticism for as long 
as possible, but when at last the colonel’s wife said to her: 
“My dear, we don’t want a regimental scandal. Can’t you 
do anything?” she proceeded to take Maisie firmly to task. 
The latter treated her remonstrances with an airy independ¬ 
ence that Brenda found almost as pathetic in its youthful 
ignorance as it was maddening. 

“I don’t see that my friendship with Captain Forrest has 
anything to do with you,” asserted Maisie, drawing her slim 
little figure to its full height and trying to cloak a certain in¬ 
ward quaking of which she was conscious with an immense 
assumption of offended dignity. 

“It has everything to do with me. For one thing, you’re 
my guest here, and to a certain extent I’m responsible for 
you. For another, I’ve got the credit of the regiment at 
heart. That, of course, means nothing to you.” 

Maisie flushed hotly. As a guest she knew she was behav¬ 
ing badly. She could not defend herself from that point of 
view, so she took refuge in attack. 

“Oh, by all means sneer at me because my husband isn’t 
in the army,” she flared. “I’m quite aware we’re only Civil 
Service.” 

“Oh, my dear-” Erenda coloured painfully. “You 

know I never thought of that. I’m not a snob. Eut the 



The Little Fool’s Wisdom 81 

regiment does mean—a good deal—to some of us/’ she went 
on simply. “And we don’t want one of the dearest and nicest 
men in it to make a mistake.” 

“If yon call it making a mistake for him to he friendly 
with me—/’ began Maisie stormily. 

“Friendly?” Mrs. Hartog interrupted her with quiet 
scorn. “Aren’t you rather more than—‘friendly’ ? It’s not 
playing the game for you to be philandering about with an¬ 
other man while your husband’s away at his work down in 
that sweltering heat. It—it isn’t decent, Maisie.” 

“Oh, of course, I quite understand. You’d like me to 
have nothing to do with Captain Forrest. You’re jealous— 
that’s the long and short of it! You don’t suppose I can’t 
see that, do you ?”—with a nasty little laugh. 

“Jealous?” Brenda, devoted wife and mother, whose 
heaviest cross it was that she had had to send her two babies 
to England in order to remain with her adored husband, 
shrank back in disgust. 

“You little fool!” she exclaimed, unconsciously echoing 
Sadie Brunner’s original verdict. “Can’t you understand 
that I’m speaking for your own sake, for yours, and Percy’s 
6 —and the regiment’s ?” 

“Oh, of course, the regiment!” 

“Yes”—steadily. “We don’t want a scandal in the 
Thirty-third. And I don’t suppose”—more kindly—“that 
you really want to make a hash of Percy’s life. It would, 
you know, if you let him down.” 

Maisie felt a little tremor of pride—that odd, peculiarly 
feminine pride which delights in the consciousness of power 
to sway the other sex. Already there were two men utterly 
devoted to her—Percy and Gayer Forrest. And when they 
met their mutual dislike would be the measure of that devo¬ 
tion. It would be rather exciting when they met, she thought. 

“Maisie!” There was a wistful appeal in Mrs. Hartog’s 
voice* 


82 Waves of Destiny 

“Oh”—pettishly. “You needn’t worry about me. I’m not 
going to let Percy down. But I don’t propose, on that ac¬ 
count, never to speak to any other man.” 

The older woman turned away disheartened. She had 
hoped to influence the girl—to find her more malleable when 
seriously taken to task. But she was running wild—had 
taken the bit between her teeth. 

Brenda had small hope of being able fo influence Gayer. 
She knew—which Maisie did not—all the circumstances that 
had combined to turn the most lovable personality in the regi¬ 
ment into a thwarted and embittered man, adding to his 
characteristic charm a quality of recklessness which made it 
doubly dangerous. The story of Gayer’s love for the exquisite 
woman whom marriage with another man had suddenly set 
out of his reach for ever was common knowledge in the regi¬ 
ment. Only Maisie, being a new-comer to Dhurrapore, knew 
nothing about it. Nor was she ever likely to be initiated. 
The Thirty-third had its secrets, and one which every man 
and woman guarded with a tenacious loyalty, born of the 
affection which Gayer’s essential lovableness never failed to 
inspire, was tho story of that unhappy love affair. 

It had been a grim little tragedy. Gayer had once been 
engaged to the woman in question. Then the tertium quid 
had come on the scene, and misunderstandings arose which 
had culminated in a violent quarrel and in Gayer’s abruptly 
exchanging into another regiment, leaving the coast clear for 
the enemy. Later on, a man who was a friend of Gayer’s 
and of the woman’s as well, had contrived to disentangle the 
threads and had bolted off post haste to explain matters to 
the former and warn him that the woman he loved was on 
the point of marrying the tertium quid. Gayer applied for 
a few days’ leave and got it—no one ever refused him any¬ 
thing he set his heart on—and he and the friend started off 
on a wild race against time. 

But for once Gayer’s luck was out. Bloods and a break¬ 
down on the line created delay when there was not a moment 


83 


,i The Little Fool’s Wisdom 

to spare, and he reached his destination just in time to see 
the woman he loved returning from the English church— 
another man’s bride. He had a brief vision of gold hair 
glimmering palely beneath a mist of bridal veil, of a white, 
ice-cold face, and of blue, desperate eyes that met his own 
in an agony of realisation. Gayer had carried that picture 
with him for many years now. 

It was quite a commonplace little tragedy. The kind of 
thing which has happened hundreds of times and will hap¬ 
pen hundreds more—until love is clear and strong and true 
enough to pierce through the first slight veil of misunder¬ 
standing before it thickens into a dense wall that may not 
be passed. 

Brenda’s heart ached whenever she thought of it. Later 
on, Gayer had managed to transfer back into the Thirty- 
third again, and she and her husband both counted him as 
one of their best friends. Nevertheless, she nerved herself 
to approach him on the matter of his friendship with Maisie 
Derafield. 

“Philandering ? Is that what you call it, memsahib V’ 
he asked, when she had finished her indictment. His eyes 
challenged her with a humorous defiance. 

She nodded. 

“What else could you call it? You’re not in love with 
her.” 

“It wouldn’t be difficult to fall in love with her,” he 
countered. 

“She’s married,” Brenda pointed out repressively. 

The quick, half-amused glance which he flung at her 
brought the colour to her cheeks. 

“Oh, of course. And matrimony automatically precludes 
any falling in love outside the prescribed area, doesn’t it ?” 
he returned mockingly. 

“Gayer! You’re outrageous!” she protested. 

“She’s an attractive little devil, you know,” he submitted 
tentatively. 


84 Waves of Destiny 

“ An ri unfortunately—eliminating the ‘little’—so are you!” 
acknowledged Brenda. “Gayer, leave her alone! She’s got 
a nice, well-meaning little husband stewing away down in 
the plains. He’s the very soul of convention. He’d never 
understand, and he’d be horribly hurt without knowing why 
he was being hurt. Leave her alone.” 

“Your word is law, memsabib . You know that. I’ll try—- 
but whether I’ll succeed or not, goodness only knows! Be¬ 
cause—she is such an attractive little devil, you know,” He 
smiled whimsically and went off, leaving Brenda divided in 
her mind betwixt confidence and doubt. 

He did try. He might even have succeeded if only some 
one had not proposed a moonlight picnic to the Valley of the 
Silver Ring. The place derived its name from the fact that, 
owing to some curious configuration of the rocks which 
rimmed its lip, when the moon hung at a certain angle in the 
sky a complete circle of silver light was flung on to the 
opposite slope of the valley. 

Moonlight permitting, a visit to the valley always formed 
part of the programme of entertainment mapped out for the 
visitor to Dhurrapore, and unthinkingly some one suggested 
that Mrs. Derafield ought to be taken there. The proposal 
was seized upon with avidity by the more youthful portion 
of the community—any excuse was good enough for a night’s 
frolic—and arrangements for the picnic were quickly fixed 
up. 

When the appointed evening came, Gayer Forrest, con¬ 
scious of extreme virtue, manoeuvred matters so that he and 
Maisie should not ride together, and when the cavalcade, 
laughing and chatting, set out from Dhurrapore towards 
the hills, the two were certainly as far apart as even Mrs. 
Grundy herself could have desired. But somehow, in the 
inevitable “sorting” process which occurs almost automati¬ 
cally in any gathering of men and women, this decorous ar¬ 
rangement speedily collapsed. Gayer found Maisie’s chest¬ 
nut mare abreast of his own mount, and when her saddle 


The Little Fool’s Wisdom 85 

slipped a trifle he had perforce to descend and tighten the 
girth. By the time matters were adjusted to her liking the 
remainder of the party were some distance ahead, and Maisie 
and Gayer might as well have been riding out towards the 
Valley of the Silver Bing alone together. 

“Tell me about it, Gayer,” she said, as she gathered up 
the reins, “About the circle, I mean. Is there a hole in 
the rocks, or what ?” 

“There are two rocks which curve towards each other,” 
he explained. “And just at one particular angle the moon¬ 
light coming between throws an almost exact circle of light 
on the ground. A few minutes later, when the moon has 
moved on a little, the circle breaks—just as though you had 
chipped a piece out of it,” 

“How interesting.” 

“Yes., It’s just a freak of nature. People have hung 
all sorts of stories on to it, of course—it’s become quite a 
legendary spot. They say that if two lovers happen to be 
standing on the patch of moonlight just as the circle breaks, 
the engagement between them will be broken off.” 

“Supposing they were not—exactly—engaged ?” suggested 
Maisie, gazing straight between her horse’s ears. 

“Oh, well, in that case, of course, it would mean a break 
of some kind.” He laughed a little. “Probably they’d 
quarrel, and never get as far as an engagement.” 

“How horrible!” Maisie shivered. “It’s rather uncanny, 
isn’t it ? I think I should be too frightened to stand in the 
patch of moonlight.” 

“You’re safely married,” submitted Gayer doggedly. 

She threw him a fleeting glance, 

“Percy and I might squabble and divorce each other,” 
she returned lightly. “That’s always a possibility, isn’t it ? 
I think I’d better keep out of the magic ring.” 

“Perhaps you had,” he returned gravely. 

Then, as though by mutual consent, they urged their 
horses into a canter and overtook the rest of the party. 


86 Waves of Destiny 

They picnicked at the mouth of the valley, amid an in¬ 
spiriting babel of fun and laughter; and it was not until the 
calte-free repast was at an end that somebody exclaimed: 

“There’s the circle showing at last!” 

Instinctively all heads were turned in the direction where 
it lay, although to most of the party the sight was a familiar 
one. The scene was peculiarly striking—the shadowed valley 
stretching between the hills like some dark chasm of mystery, 
crowned on either side with misshapen rocks that jutted up 
crudely against the mellow background of the sky, while on 
its lower slope gleamed a luminous disc, where the moon¬ 
light, streaming betwixt the boulders opposite, lay like a 
lambent pool of silver. 

“You ought to go up and see it, Mrs. Derafield,” sug¬ 
gested some one. 

Maisie hesitated, then looked across at Gayer. 

“Will you take me?” 

Tor an instant an oddly conflicting expression flashed 
across his face—half eager, half ironical. Then he nodded, 
holding out his hand to help her to her feet, and a minute 
later they had plunged into the shadows of the valley. 

It was a rough climb up the steep slope, scattered with 
loose stones and unexpected rocks, and Gayer slipped his 
arm through hers to guide her steps. The silence and dark¬ 
ness of the Eastern night closed round them like a curtain, 
seeming to cut them off from the rest of the world. Grad¬ 
ually, as they climbed, Maisie became vibrantly conscious of 
her aloneness with the man beside her—of the warmth of his 
arm against her side, of his quickened breathing, of the 
curious uneven note in his voice when he spoke. It was with 
a feeling akin to relief that she at last stepped into the circle 
of light. The movement seemed to snap that tingling sense 
of communion with which the darkness had enfolded them. 

Gayer released her arm abruptly—aware, perhaps, that 
while they stood together in the brilliant moonlight' they 
were clearly visible to the others of the party waiting at 


The Little jTool’s Wisdom 


87 


the valley’s mouth. He remained silently beside her, staring 
down at her with eyes that held a smouldering fire, and, 
against her will, she felt drawn to meet his glance. A stifled 
cry escaped her. Something in his expression frightened her. 
It was as though the man were holding himself in leash— 
and the leash were slipping. She jerked her head aside. 

“Don’t look at me like that!” she whispered sharply. 
Almost in the same breath, she pointed suddenly to the edge 
of the circle. It was breaking—breaking slowly, as though 
a jagged rent had been torn in it, 

“Oh!” The queer tenseness of the moment drew a 
cracked little scream from her. “Look! It’s broken—while 
we’re here!” 

Lor a moment she stared fascinatedly at the remorseless 
shadow which had eaten into the circle of light. Then, over¬ 
whelmed with a sudden senseless terror, she turned and 
plunged headlong into the surrounding darkness. Gayer 
followed her, swift as thought. To lose track of her on that 
night-black hill-side would be madness. In a moment he had 
reached her side and caught her by the arm. 

“Stop! Maisie! Don’t run away from me!” 

“I’m not! I’m not!” Her small hands fluttered seek- 
ingly and clutched his shoulders. “Only I’m frightened! 
What did it mean? The circle breaking while we were 
there ?” 

He gathered her into his arms and she lay against his 
breast like a spent child. The scent of her hair came to 
him through the darkness. He felt his senses leap, straining 
at the leash. 

“God knows what it meant!” he said hoarsely. “But this 
is what I mean!” And, lifting her off the ground, he bent 
his head and kissed her again and again with a fierce pos¬ 
sessiveness that shook her to the depths of her shallow little 
being. 

“It won’t part us—the circle?” she gasped, between his 
kisses., 


88 


Waves of Destiny 

“Part us ? Ho! Of course it won’t I” 

Presently, with a last passionate embrace, he released her, 
and together they descended the steep side of the slope, to be 
greeted with a hail of chaff and laughter when they rejoined 
the rest of the picnic party. 

“What a time you’ve been!” 

“We nearly started for home and left you to follow us!” 

Maisie was very silent on the homeward journey. She felt 
that she had come to a turning-point in her life—that the 
great decision lay ahead of her, the decision between Percy, 
her humdrum husband, and this splendid lover whose lonely 
life she, and she alone, could fill. There was something ex¬ 
hilarating in the very thought of how much he needed her. 
That Percy’s lonely life might also demand a certain amount 
of filling didn’t strike her. At least, there was no glamour in 
the idea. She lay awake half the night mentally concocting 
touching notes of farewell to her husband. That of course 
was the severance indicated by the broken circle. It was all 
quite clear to her now. 

Meanwhile, Gayer Porrest, restored to normal by a whisky 
peg and his customary energetic ablutions, was cursing him¬ 
self roundly. 

“Moonlight and propinquity—oh, confound them!” he 
muttered, as he turned in for the night. 

The next morning Maisie received a letter from her hus¬ 
band, telling her that he had at last been given leave and 
would join her at Dhurrapore. 

The shock of the news was somewhat aggravated by her 
realisation of the fact that Percy would be arriving in three 
days’ time, hard upon the heels of his letter—on the very 
night of a dance to which she was going. 

However she consoled herself by the reflection that travel¬ 
ling was at all times a somewhat uncertain quantity in India 
and that, if Percy did happen to turn up in time for the 
dance in question, the fact that she would be dancing half 


The Little Fool’s Wisdom 89 

the programme with Gayer would probably simplify matters 
in the long run. It would open his eyes to the facts. 

Apparently Tate had designed that the dance should be 
the vehicle for the opening of blind eyes, for Percy arrived 
at the Hartogs’ bungalow in excellent time for dinner. He 
hugged his wife delightedly quite oblivious of the lack of 
ardour in her return greetings. 

“I expect you’ll hardly feel like going to a dance to-night, 
Percy, after your journey ?” she suggested kindly. 

“Pm feeling as fit as a fiddle now I’m out of that damnable 
heat,” he returned with heartiness. “Besides I shouldn’t 
like to keep you home. I’m not a spoil-sport.” 

Maisie had had no intention of remaining at home but she 
refrained from saying so. She wondered how Gayer would 
take this sudden appearance of her husband on the scenes, 
and when she caught sight of him across the ball-room, she 
was conscious of a thrill of suppressed excitement—the high- 
strung elation of impending crisis. 

He was standing talking to a slender woman with mat- 
gold hair whom Maisie had not seen before—another new 
arrival, presumably. She 'wondered where she had come 
from, and frowned a little as she saw her touch Gayer lightly 
on the arm with an easy little gesture of intimacy, as though 
the two were old friends. 

“I wonder who that woman in black is,” said Maisie 
flatly. 

Percy was struggling with a pair of white gloves, one of 
which had already burst. He was the kind of man whose 
gloves always would burst. Even the heat of the plains had 
failed to reduce his regrettable tendency towards adipose 
tissue. His glance followed the direction of his wife’s. 

“She’s a Mrs. Maturin,” he replied. “Some fellow told 
me. I saw her on the train—she’s just come out from 
England.” 

Maisie’s eyes rested on her non-committally. Deep within 
her, some primitive instinct warned her that the woman was 


90 Waves of Destiny 

dangerous—inimical to herself. She was very beautiful, 
with the fine, ethereal beauty of a flower, delicately dis¬ 
tinctive, and there was a curious air of finish about her, a 
perfectness of detail which Maisie dully recognised as being 
quite beyond her own powers to achieve. 

Presently Gayer left the new-comer’s side and came across 
to Maisie, who perforce introduced him to her husband. His 
expression was quite impenetrable as he scribbled his initials 
once only on her card. Once! Maisie felt a sudden con¬ 
traction in her throat. She had kept free for him the usual 
generous number of dances, but it appeared that he had no 
intention of claiming them. She felt stunned overwhelmed 
with blank, incredulous astonishment. The band struck up, 
and she saw him dancing with Mrs. Maturin. There was 
something curiously easy in the way they danced together 
as though long habit had so accustomed them to each other’s 
step that unconsciously they moved in absolute harmony. 

“Aren’t you engaged for this 2” 

Percy’s rather high-pitched, throaty voice broke across the 
dazed bewilderment of her thoughts. 

“N— no.” 

“Good biz!” He drew her out into the room. Like many 
shortish men inclined to rotundity, he danced quite well, but 
Maisie was suffocatingly conscious of Gayer’s tall, supple 
figure, as it swung by at intervals, and of the slender woman 
in his arms, her gold head just as high as his heart. 

Percy was fatuously delighted to find his wife had so 
many dances to spare. 

“Good of you to have kept ’em for me, old thing,” he 
exulted fondly. Maisie, crudely conscious of the blank white 
spaces sprawled across her dance card, could have struck him 
for his complacent idiocy. But, underneath her bewildered 
irritation, she was illimitably thankful that he was there to 
fall back on. 

Enlightenment came while she was sitting alone in a 
screened-off corner, having dispatched Percy in search of 


The Little Fool’s Wisdom 91 

ices. On the other side of the screen a man and woman were 
talking. 

“So Cynthia Maturin is back again!” There was a touch 
of surprise in the woman’s voice., “I suppose that old affair 
goes on as before, then ?” 

“Oh, no. Haven’t you heard ?” The man’s voice dropped 
to a gossipy, confidential note. “She’s divorcing Maturin— 
he’s been playing the fool since he retired, I believe. The 
decree nisi’s through, and she’s come out here till it’s made 
absolute.” 

The woman laughed in a kindly, indulgent way. 

“Then Gayer will come into his own at last.” 

Maisie sat bolt upright. Her shallow, active little mind 
was working swiftly, putting two and two together and 
making four of them. She welcomed the ice-laden Percy on 
his return with a new warmth of manner, and when, later 
on, Gayer Forrest came to claim his solitary dance, she girded 
on her armour and prepared to do battle for her self-respect. 

Conversation flagged until the dance was over and they 
were sitting together in a curtained alcove. Then Gayer 
leaned forward and spoke abruptly. 

“You’ll be glad to have your husband here.” 

Maisie regarded him out of widely-opened eyes. 

“Why—naturally!” with emphasis. “We’ve really had 
rather hard luck for a newly-married couple, don’t you 
think?” 

Gayer nodded. 

“But that’s India all over. Throws you together and then 
drags you apart. You’ll get used to it”—grimly. 

“Of course.” 

“And we’ve had a jolly little time together—you and I.” 
There was a note of half-ironical, half-earnest appeal in his 
voice. Possibly it masked a certain well-founded nervous¬ 
ness. “A sort of entr'acte . We’ve kind of comforted each 
other, haven’t we?” 

The half-gods must needs steal away when the gods arrive. 


92 Waves of Destiny 

In her own heart Maisle was perfectly aware of the fact that 
she was being given her conge. But, with her inherent 
faculty for humbugging both herself and other people, she 
triumphantly disregarded it* 

“Indeed we have,” she agreed cordially. “I’m going to 
tell Percy what a splendid ‘substitute’ you’ve been.” 

Gayer gasped, recovered himself with a small internal 
laugh, and then, in the immensity of his relief, asked if he 
might have another dance. 

She shook her head regretfully. 

“I’m afraid I haven’t one to spare,” she replied. “You 
see”—archly—“I kept all I could for Percy—just on the 
chance of his getting here in time.” 

The ability to refuse—without any fear of finding her¬ 
self partnerless—restored her self-respect amazingly. As 
she climbed into the roomy, old-fashioned rickshaw to go 
home, she regarded Percy’s tubby little figure with a criti¬ 
cally possessive eye. He might not be exactly an Adonis—* 
she firmly suppressed a rebellious memory of Gayer’s sym¬ 
metrical proportions—but, after all, he was hers. Her hus¬ 
band—bound to her by the indissoluble bonds of lawful wed¬ 
lock. The reflection conveyed a reassuring feeling of per¬ 
manence. 

Percy slipped his arm round her waist. 

“Glad to see me back, old girl, aren’t you ?” he said, with 
all a man’s complacent confidence in the answer he would 
receive. 

And Maisie, with a sudden rush of genuine feeling, 
answered fervently: 

“Oh, so glad, Percy!” 

She was quite clear in her own mind on the matter. He 
was stodgy and commonplace and dull—but oh! he was so 
safe ! 

Wherein the little fool showed her wisdom. 


CHAPTER Y 


THE MADNESS OF SARGENSON 

M ILES COVENTRY strode along the dripping streets 
with a swinging, purposeful step, too much engrossed 
in his thoughts to heed either the rain which drove in his 
face or the occasional glance of swift surprise meted out to 
him by more than one passer-by. 

He was well known by sight to the concert-going public, 
and it was a matter of some astonishment to the one or two 
people who recognised him to encounter him thus tramping 
through the rain with such supreme indifference to the pos¬ 
sible effect of damp upon that golden voice of his. 

But Coventry was a man first and a singer after, and 
hitherto he had found that fresh air and no fads had not 
hurt him at all. And on this particular afternoon he was 
going to see the woman he loved—going to congratulate both 
her and her husband upon the latter’s return to the normal 
ways of life. 

Inevitably his thoughts harked back over the years of his 
friendship with the two Sargensons. It had begun in their 
mutual student days, when they had all three been glowing 
young enthusiasts at the shrine of music, and had only 
strengthened through the years of professional work which 
had followed. 

There had never been any question as to which of the trio 
of friends was the most gifted. Rene Sargenson, the brilliant 
young Norwegian pianist, had far outstripped the other two, 
flashing like a streak of flame into the front rank of execu¬ 
tive musicians, while Coventry had merely achieved a safe 
footing as a popular baritone and Venetia a certain steadily 
increasing reputation as an accompanist. 

93 


94 Waves of Destiny 

But the friendship had held throughout their varying 
fortunes—held even when each of the two men knew that he 
loved Yenetia, and afterwards when she was Sargenson’s 
wife. Prom the first, Miles had realised that it was the Nor¬ 
wegian, with his nimbus of sun-gold hair and his changeful, 
sea-blue eyes—sometimes ablaze with fiery enthusiasm, some¬ 
times mystic with dreams—to whom her heart was given. 
Wherefore he had set his teeth and held fast to the dual 
friendship which had made life so well worth living and 
never, by word or sign, allowed Yenetia to guess the truth. 
She only thought of him as the staunchest pal in the 
world. 

Then had come the war. Rene’s father, Norwegian by 
birth, had been a naturalised Englishman, his mother of half- 
French, half-English extraction, and Rene, with the glorious 
ardours of both France and England stirring in his blood, 
had hurled himself into the fighting line with all the fervour 
of the queerly intermingled patriotism which fired him. 

He and Coventry had been lucky enough to obtain com¬ 
missions in the same regiment. Yenetia had kissed them 
both when they went away, and through all that followed 
after, Coventry had carried in his heart the memory of her 
young face with its shy, brave eyes and of the maddening 
sweetness of her soft red lips against his cheek. 

It had been he, not Yenetia, who at first had tried to dis¬ 
suade Sargenson from taking on a fighting risk before he 
need. There were so many with less rare gifts. Always, 
throughout the years in Flanders, Coventry had felt that save 
when death, which all men paid equally, was the price, the 
gods of his country were asking Sargenson—Sargenson, 
whose wonderful musician’s hands meant everything to him— 
to risk a bigger stake than most men. 

And till within a month of the armistice it seemed as 
though the gods themselves realised this, for Rene came 
and went unscathed, though he was worn fine by the hourly 
strain of it all on his hypersensitive nerves. 


95 


The Madness of Sargenson 

Then, one grey October day, a shell screamed its way 
across No Man’s Land and buried itself somewhere beneath 
Sargenson’s dug-out. There was nothing much left of the 
dug-out, and of Sargenson only the whimpering semblance 
of a man which cried like a child at the least sound and hid 
its face behind shaking hands. 

But it was all over now—that horror of the past. The 
infinite skill of doctors and nurses and the healing hand of 
Time had combined to restore the wrecked nerves, and Rene 
Sargenson had been sent back to his home—cured. 

Coventry quickened his steps involuntarily. It would be 
good to see his friend again—to grip his hand and read in his 
eyes the old familiar welcome. He ran eagerly up the steps 
of the Sargensons’ house and pulled the bell, and a minute 
later he was holding Venetians hands, pouring out joyous 
felicitations and inquiries for Rene all in the same breath. 

“He’s—he’s not in yet,” said Yenetia at last. 

Something in her voice—a note of fear, almost—struck 
him with a sudden doubt. Wasn’t it all right ? Oh, but it 
must be! She had written to him telling him that her hus¬ 
band was coming back to her, cured. And she had smiled 
her happiness and relief when he had first entered the room. 
Coventry searched her face. The acute anxiety of the last 
year had gone from it. The lines of strain were relaxed. But 
there was something^lse, new and unaccustomed, in it—a 
strange look of bewilderment tinged with underlying fear. 

“What is it V 9 he said. “Isn’t it all right ?” 

She was silent for a moment, struggling with herself. It 
was always an effort to Yenetia to reveal her thoughts. She 
was naturally shy—shy with that intense, ineradicable re¬ 
serve which is so often found in conjunction with big emo¬ 
tional capacity. 

“Tell me, Yenetia,” urged Miles gently. “If there’s any¬ 
thing wrong, you must let me share.” 

“Yes, I’ll tell you,” she said at last. “You’ll have to 
know—sooner or later.” 


96 Waves of Destiny 

“What is it? You don’t mean he has—changed—at all?” 
There was a hint of anxiety in the quick question. 

Tor a moment her grey eyes grew radiant. 

“Ho,” she answered, an infinite content in her voice. “He 
is Rene—just Rene as he always used to be.” 

“Then—then-” 

“It’s his music!” she hurst out violently. “That’s gone!” 

“Gone ? But it couldn’t he! He’s out of practice, that’s 
all. A few months will put it right. Remember, he hasn’t 
touched a note while he was ill. Don’t worry over that, 
Yenetia.” 

She didn’t seem to he listening. Her attitude was that 
of one who merely waited for him to finish uttering futili¬ 
ties. 

“You don’t understand,” she said. “He went to the piano 
almost at once when he came hack last evening and played— 
atrociously. It was like a child playing! Ho—worse! 
Wrong notes, chords that were just a hideous nightmare of 
sound. If he attempted a chromatic run or a quick arpeggio 
it was no more than a blur. And he didn’t Jcnow it — didn’t 
hear it. He sat there with that rapt look on his face—you 
know how he looks when he is playing divinely?” There 
was a little choke in her voice. Coventry nodded silently. 
“Well, like that—all eager and glowing, with his eyes shin¬ 
ing. I know he thought he was making the most glorious 
music. And it was all just one mad, crazy discord. And 
then he jumped up and came across the room to me, bubbling 
over with delight. ‘I haven’t lost much, Yenetia, have IV 
he said. ‘Isn’t it amazingly good luck?’ . . . Miles, it 
was ghastly!” She shuddered. 

“What did you say? You didn’t tell him?” he asked. 

“Tell him? I can’t tell him—I daren’t l I think it would 
kill him.” She paused, then went on tonelessly: “But that 
isn’t all. He’s made up his mind to give a recital—quite 
soon. And—and he’s going to ask you to sing at it.” 

Before Miles could reply there came the sound of quick 


97 


The Madness of Sargenson 

footsteps. Venetians upflung hand checked his answer on 
his lips. 

The door flew open and Sargenson came in. Miles turned 
to greet him with a feeling akin to dread. But it was the 
old Bene whom he saw—the same slender, erect figure with 
its eager gesture and boyish face, the same sea-blue eyes with 
the veiled creative fire slumbering in their depths ready at 
any moment to flame into a glory of achievement. Coventry 
was struck anew with the sheer vitality of the man—the ar¬ 
resting vividness that seemed to radiate from him as the light 
from the sun. 

“Miles, old chap!” !&nd in a moment he was pump- 
handling Coventry’s hand up and down like a schoolboy just 
home from the holidays. 

“By Jove, it’s good to be back!” he exclaimed. “We three 
—you and I and Venetia—just as we were before old Fritz 
came along and began tearing up the earth. Oh, it’s good!” 

He beamed at them both, and the talk rattled along, ques¬ 
tion and answer tumbling over each other in the spontaneous 
joyfulness born of reunion. Coventry was struck by the 
other’s absolute normality. It seemed as though he had com¬ 
pletely thrown off the oppression of the years of war with 
their final shattering of nerve and balance, emerging un¬ 
scathed in both soul and body, and Miles wondered with a 
sudden pang of apprehension whether Yenetia’s story of his 
lost musicianship could possibly be some wild figment of her 
own imagination. She had been living at a strain for so 
long, with not only the fear of death before her, but with 
that other, hourly dread lest Bene should be incapacitated as 
an artist. Mow, when the danger was past, it might well be 
the relief had proved too great for her, so that in her own 
mind she had conjured up into the reality of fact the fear 
which had beset her. 

Coventry was beginning to feel convinced that this was 
the explanation. In a way he felt thankful—thankful that 
Bene’s great gift was unimpaired. But of course it meant 


98 Waves of Destiny 

that Yenetia must be looked after—cared for and nursed 
back to health. 

“I ought to play better than I ever did before.” Sargen- 
son’s ardent voice broke across the other man’s anxious 
thoughts. “The experience of war, the closeness to life and 
death—the sounds I heard, Miles! I shall find them all tak¬ 
ing form, colouring the new stuff I mean to write. And my 
fingers haven’t lost their cunning, either. It’s astonishing!” 
With his habitual impetuosity he crossed swiftly to the piano. 
“Listen!” 

Coventry knew one tense, palpitant instant of unspeak¬ 
able fear, of surging hope. Then came certainty—indescrib¬ 
ably hideous certainty. 

His teeth clenched in the effort to drive from his face 
every atom of expression which might betray the truth, he 
stood and listened to the discordant riot of sound which 
poured from beneath Rene’s fingers. 

The man’s hands swept the keys with what seemed to be 
just their old facility. And the result was a rhapsody of 
crazed musicianship. It was like some horrible parody of 
Sargenson at his best. Meaningless successions of notes 
played with a delicate, appealing tenderness of touch; bar¬ 
barous crashes of dissonant intervals which smote the ear, 
thundered out with all the precision, the wonderful capacity 
for sonorous tone, of fingers that had been wont to draw the 
whole pulsating value from every chord they struck. 

Coventry listened appalled. And as though to add a last 
macabre touch to the scene, Rene’s face was the face of an 
immortal—transfigured into a sublime serenity, with rapt 
eyes that held the mystic radiance of the musician’s fire. 
Watching him, Miles knew that, in spirit, Sargenson was 
caught away into familiar worlds of music, mentally aware 
of exquisite melodies which he believed himself to be inter¬ 
preting to the two who listened. And through some obscure 
severance of faculty this chaotic hotch-potch of discord was 
the result ! 


99 


The Madness of Sargenson 

Coventry’s gaze slid from the man at the piano to the 
woman who was his wife. She was sitting quite still, her 
small hands clenched tightly together, her face a blank, emo¬ 
tionless mask. Presently, when the last chaotic notes had 
jarred into silence, Rene looked across at her with the accus¬ 
tomed eager questioning in his eyes. 

“Well ? Do you like it ?” he asked. 

Coventry felt the sweat break out on his skin. And then 
it seemed to him Yenetia did a rather wonderful thing. She 
sprang up and ran across the room—just as he had seen her 
do a hundred times in the old days when Rene had been 
playing to them, and had surpassed himself—and took her 
husband’s outstretched hands in hers. 

“Oh, Rene!” she exclaimed. “It was wonderful!” 

Her smile held the same glad triumph in his work as it 
had been wont to do. Her voice seemed to quiver with excite¬ 
ment. It was the most magnificent piece of acting that 
Coventry had ever seen. 

And it satisfied Sargenson. He smiled contentedly at his 
wife. 

“I’m glad you like it,” he said. “I think I shall include 
it in the programme for my recital. By the way, Miles, has 
Yenetia told you I’m going to open with a recital ? And I 
want you, of course, old son. It will be like the good old 
times, our giving a recital together again.” 

Coventry never quite knew how he got through the dis¬ 
cussion that followed—the plans and suggestions for the 
projected concert. Only, when at last Sargenson went off 
to speak to some one on the telephone, and he was left 
alone with Yenetia, he found his limbs trembling. He 
passed his hand across his forehead and drew it away 
wet. 

“You see how it is with him.” 

She spoke quietly. She had had the night in which to 
accustom herself, more or less, while Coventry’s mind was 
still staggering under the shock. 


100 Waves of Destiny 

“Good God, Venetia!” lie broke out. “It’s the most 
ghastly thing conceivable! Has he gone tone-deaf ?” 

She shook her head. 

“Ho. It’s not that.” 

“Then, what is it?” 

“That’s what I was asking myself all through the night.” 
She smiled rather wanly. “Then this morning Rene began 
practising. Practising!” A little shiver ran through her 
body. “So I slipped away and went straight off to see Sir 
Raeburn Pores. He’s the man who kjiows more about Rene’s 
case than any one else. And I told him just what had hap¬ 
pened.” 

“What did he say ?” 

“He knew. He had heard Rene trying the piano one day 
—just before they sent him home.” 

“Then if he knew, why didn’t he prepare you ?” demanded 
Coventry, indignantly. 

“He did. He wrote to me from his place in the country 
four days ago. The letter came this afternoon! Probably 
it was dropped and left lying in some dusty corner of the 
village post office. Anyway, through somebody’s carelessness 
it was delayed.” 

“Well, what did Pores tell you? Is there any hope of 
Rene’s recovery?” 

“Yes, there is—hope. Rut Sir Raeburn says he can’t tell 
in the least how long it may take. He says he might recover 
suddenly—any day, to-morrow. Or”—her voice shook a 
little—“he may never recover at all.” 

Coventry stifled an ejaculation of dismay. 

“Rut he’s sane—as sane as you or I.” 

“Yes, he’s sane—every other way. Rut there’s some 
obscure mental condition, nevertheless. Couldn’t you see 
that all the time he was making that dreadful noise on the 
piano, he himself, in his own mind, was hearing real music ? 
Wonderful chords and melodies, just as he used to. And he 


The Madness of Sargenson 101 

thinks he is expressing them . It’s as though some cell in his 
brain were lying dormant, not working, so that the connect¬ 
ing link between his thought and the expression of it is 
broken. That’s how Sir Baebum described it.” 

Coventry nodded. 

“Yes. That describes the thing exactly. It’s appalling. 
Worse than if he’d been injured physically, . . Yenetia, 

who’s to tell him ?” 

“No one!” The words ripped out from her white lips. 
“I won’t have him told! If he knew— I think he’d go mad. 
Sir Baebum says the only chance is to carry on—as if he 
were all right.” 

“But—but-It can’t go on! Some one must tell him.” 

“Ho,” she repeated firmly. “Ho one shall tell him. He’s 
cured, really. Everything else has come back. His brain’s 
working quite normally every other way. And his music will 
come back. It—oh, it must!” 

For a moment she faltered, blenching from a possibility 
too horrible to contemplate. Then she steadied again. 

“It will come back,” she reiterated. “That one brain-cell 
or whatever it is that isn’t acting will recover, just as the 
rest of his brain has recovered. It isn’t as though he’d ever 
received any physical injury to his head. It’s only a matter 
of time—I’m sure of it. And meanwhile, I’m going to pre¬ 
tend it is all right——” 

“Pretend ?” 

“Yes. Behave exactly as though he could play as he 
used to do—until he actually does play like that,” 

“But you’ll find it unbearable!” 

“There is nothing unbearable,” she said quietly, “if you 
choose to bear it.” 

Coventry was conscious of a quick thrill of admiration 
for her pluck. But, none the less, he knew that her plan 
was impracticable. Fores’ advice might be the counsel 
of perfection, but it wasn’t feasible in a present-day world. 



102 Waves of Destiny 

“Pm afraid you can’t keep him in ignorance,” he objected 
gently. “Don’t you see, there’s this matter of the recital. 
He can’t give one. And he’ll have to he told why.” 

“If he’s determined to give it, he shall do so,” she answered 
doggedly. 

“Impossible! He’d be booed off the platform.” 

“Ho. Listen, Miles, I’ve a plan. And I want your help.” 

“You know you can count on that,”—steadily. 

She rewarded him with a smile. 

“I do know it,” she answered swiftly. “And I’ve relied 
on that in making my plans. Of course, I shall dissuade 
Rene from giving a recital if it’s any way possible—on the 
grounds that he’s out of practice, and that it would be better 
to wait. But if he persists in the idea, then he must be 
allowed to give it. And I want you, Miles, to sing for him.” 

She paused, looking at him anxiously. 

“Will you ?” she added. 

“Of course I will, if you wish it. But I can’t see—Oh, 
it’s a hopeless plan, Yenetia! The audience would almost 
riot. There’d be a frightful commotion if Rene went on and 
played—as he played just now.” 

“I don’t think so. His public love him. And I’m banking 
on that love. Anyway”—looking at him with steady eyes— 
“I shall risk it.” 

“There might be a very unpleasant scene,” he began. 

But she interrupted him. 

“I shall risk it,” she repeated. 

Coventry stared at her amazedly. He had always regarded 
Yenetia as exceptionally timid, nervously inclined to retreat 
from anything that might thrust her into prominence. Above 
all, he knew how she shrank instinctively from conflict or 
unpleasantness of any kind. And here she was composedly 
preparing to risk a scene from which a much bolder spirit 
than hers might flinch. 

“My dear,” he said, and there was a great tenderness in 
his voice. “You’ve no idea what a dissatisfied audience is 


103 


The Madness of Sargenson 

like. People want their money’s worth, and an audience 
that doesn’t get it is like a baulked beast of prey. You 
haven’t the nerve for that sort of thing.” 

“I’ve the nerve to stand by Rene—by my husband.” 

“And if there’s a row—how about Rene? He’d have to 
know then.” 

“Why should he? Don’t you understand that he doesn’t 
realise in the least how he’s playing ? He wouldn’t realise it 
any the more for a few cat-calls and booings. He’d merely 
think it was a disturbance intentionally organised by some 
one who wanted to do him a bad turn.” 

Coventry made a gesture of despair. 

“Oh, you’re impossible!” he declared. 

But nothing that he urged could shake her determination. 

Equally she herself was unable to dissuade Sargenson from 
his purpose of giving a recital. He was full of enthusiasm 
over the idea. Before Yenetia could choose the moment to 
introduce her gentle suggestion that it might be better to 
defer the date of his first public reappearance a little while, 
he had booked the concert hall, and advertisements flared 
forth in all the daily papers. 

Applications for tickets poured in. Within a week every 
seat in the house was sold—and could have been sold twice 
over. Sargenson himself was radiant—joyously excited as 
a schoolboy, and as the day approached his spirits rose 
ecstatically. 

Meanwhile to Yenetia each day meant twenty-four hours 
of acute mental torture. 

By dint of infinite tact and persuasion she had induced 
her husband not to play before any one prior to the day 
fixed for the recital, and with the solitary exception of Miles 
Coventry not even Sargenson’s most intimate friends had the 
least inkling of the real state of things. 

Coventry, loyally prepared to assist at the recital by sing¬ 
ing, could see no glimmer of hope on the horizon. 

“We’re heading straight for an almighty crash, Yenetia,” 


104 


Waves of Destiny 

he told her. “It would have been better to tell him the 
truth, and stand the consequences.” 

“Ho.” She was steadfast in her belief. “Sir Raeburn 
said that he might recover any day, so each day gives a pos¬ 
sible chance of his recovery before the concert. And crash 
or no crash, he’s got to be shielded from the knowledge which 
might send him stark mad.” 

• • 9 » a • a 

Coventry had come off the platform to the thunder of 
whole-hearted applause. The group of songs he had given 
had been enthusiastically received, and the audience, its 
appetite pleasantly whetted, was now waiting good-humour¬ 
edly in anticipation of hearing the pianist who had been 
London’s idol previous to the war. 

When he re-entered the artists’ room Miles found that 
Sargenson was chatting cheerily with a friend. Venetia, 
who had been accompanying the songs, turned back at the 
doorway. Her face was very white, but her eyes shone 
steadily like two unwavering stars. 

“I’m going to speak to them,” she said in a low voice, 
gesturing towards the body of the hall whence came the 
sounds of impatient clapping. 

“Do you mean you’ve persuaded Rene not to play V 9 asked 
Coventry eagerly. 

“Ho. But I’m going to tell them the truth before he 
goes on. He thinks I’m announcing a change in the pro¬ 
gramme. I’ve worked that. Only don’t let him overhear 
what I’m saying.” 

With a vague instinct to avert the crisis, to delay matters, 
he caught at her arm as she passed him. But she was gone— 
through the door, and up the steps on to the platform before 
he could stop her. 

She looked very young and girlish as she faced the big 
audience, standing there with her hands hanging loosely 


The Madness of Sargenson 105 

clasped in front of her, her small head flung hack a little, 
reminding one of some sensitive wild creature at hay. 

A round of applause greeted her, and died down into an 
attentive silence. Then in a tense, quiet voice, every note 
of which carried to the furthermost ends of the hall, she 
told the big audience which had gathered to hear her hus¬ 
band play exactly what had happened. 

“He has lost his wonderful gift fighting for us—fighting 
for you and me. It may come hack some day. We don’t 
know. But I know it would kill him to realise that he had 
lost it. Please, will you help me V 9 There was something 
poignantly appealing in the simple, direct question. “Will 
you try and pretend—pretend he is playing just as he used 
to play 2” 

An utter silence followed. 

The great assemblage sat tongue-tied, breathlessly still, 
each component soul of it pierced by the raw tragedy of the 
thing, yet helplessly seeking for direction, unable to articu¬ 
late the emotion which stirred it. The incident was so 
unparalleled, the circumstances so piteous. 

Coventry, listening to the brave little speech and the 
blank silence which ensued, was on his knees in spirit to 
Venetia. The sheer courage of her! 

And then a shout from the gallery voiced the dumb pas¬ 
sion of pity of the multitude^ 

“We will, lady! You trust us! . . . Sargenson! 

Sar-” The name was caught up by a hundred eager 

voices, and went echoing up to the rafters in a mighty roar. 

“Hark! They’re calling for me V 9 

Sargenson’s face held a look almost of exaltation as he 
sprang up the platform steps and stood bowing in response 
to applause which seemed to rock the hall. His eyes were 
full of tears. His heart, too. In the artists’ room Yenetia 
leaned helplessly against the wall, with closed eyelids, her 
whole being concentrated into the single sense of hearing. 



106 Waves of Destiny 

Rene sat down to the piano, and his hands swept the keys 
in a few bars of prelude. Eor an instant the audience 
stiffened into tense, stricken silence at the jangle of impos¬ 
sible chords. Then, magnificently loyal to the woman who 
had trusted them, they drowned the cacophony of sound in a 
tumult of cheers and clapping. 

Sargenson bent his head gravely in response, and began 
to play. To the mute listeners who had loved the man and 
his music, the poignancy of the scene was almost too great 
to be borne. The man himself so little changed—his fine 
head thrown back, the slanting sunlight making a halo of his 
tawny hair, his ardent eyes adream with inspiration—whilst 
all the time the once wonderful hands, reft of their magic, 
poured forth a flood of discord. 

. . . Suddenly, from somewhere outside, a street or two 
away, came the terrific blast of an explosion, submerging 
every other sound in a tornado of annihilating noise. The 
great concert-hall trembled under the concussion; its win¬ 
dows splintered into atoms. A woman at the back of the 
hall screamed shrilly. Some frightened attendant stupidly 
shouted “Eire!” In a moment panic seized the whole 
audience, and they surged up from their seats, stampeding 
towards the exits. 

At the first impact of thunderous detonation Sargenson 
sprang up from the piano. Eor an instant he stood rocking 
on his feet, his hands pressed against his ears. He felt as 
though his head would burst. Then, all at once, his brain 
cleared. He realised the frightful menace of that panic- 
stricken rush towards the doors and that he, and he alone, 
could check it. 

He strode to the edge of the platform. 

“Stop! Keep your seats!” he shouted, his voice ringing 
out like the call of a trumpet above the frightened cries and 
groans which ascended from the struggling crowd. “It’s all 
right! Ifs all right , I tell you!” 

He swung round to the piano, and the next moment a 


The Madness of Sargenson 107 

torrent of glorious music, blithe with melody, swinging with 
rhythmic chords, streamed out into the hall. 

The mass of pushing, struggling humanity checked 
abruptly. With suddenly uplifted faces, still white from 
recent terror, they stared towards the platform in sheer 
stupefaction. 

Sargenson’s madness had passed! He was once more the 
inspired musician they knew and loved. The miracle of it 
held them still and silent in stunned amazement. 

Presently, as the glowing music throbbed on unbroken, 
they began to steal back quietly, one by one, to their places, 
[And each man’s thought was, “Sargenson has come back!” 

In the artists’ room Venetia, spent with effort, was hold¬ 
ing on desperately to Miles Coventry’s strong, kindly hand, 

“It’s been worth it all, Miles,” she said shakily. “Be¬ 
cause—now—he need never know!” 


CHAPTER YI 


A DANGEBOUS WOMAN 

jK 

1 

Dear Peter, 

Tm just off to seek fresh fields and pastures new . 
Italy's altogether too elegant for the likes of me, and if 
iihe spars of the old tub I've chartered for the purpose { 
hold together. I'm proposing to spentj, the next few months 
cruising about in the South Seas. But before I shake off 
the dull dust of these civilised parts, here's just a word 
to the wise! Recall that blessed son and heir of yours 
home to England, and do it quick. The climate here's a 
deal too heating to the blood—young blood, anyway—and 
if you want to save his soul alive, you'll get him home . 

To put it concisely, young Toby's in the toils of Dolores 
di Ravoglini, an extremely beautiful person who lives in 
a gorgeous villa on the Bay of Naples. An adventuress, 
of course, but unique in her own line . You don't see her 
anywhere in public . In fact, current gossip has it that she 
never goes outside the grounds of her villa. But she's 
ruined more good fellows than one cares to think of, and 
apparently her tastes are catholic. I, personally, know of 
a rising young barrister who, since his acquaintance with 
the fair Dolores, will rise no more, and equally of a cer¬ 
tain highly-placed personage who was only hurried home 
by his suite in time to save a European scandal. She's a 
dangerous woman, and she'll swallow Toby at a gulp —- 
make no more of him than an hors d’ceuvre. So my advice 
to you, old son, is—get him home. You're asking for 
trouble if you leave him to his own devices out here any 
longer. Yours ever, Jim . 

m 


109 


A Dangerous Woman 

The man to whom this letter was addressed read it through 
for the second time, and the clouded expression for which it 
was responsible deepened on his face. It was an arresting 
face—that of a man of forty-eight or thereabouts—finely 
chiselled and sensitive, with keen grey eyes and a clean¬ 
shaven mouth closing in a straight, stern line which was 
oddly contradicted by the sweet-tempered uplift at its corners. 

“Dolores!” 

Peter Bettington repeated the name aloud. It was curious 
that from the shock of dismay with which the letter had 
smitten him, the one salient point which emerged, with a 
surprising clarity, was the fact that the woman who was evi¬ 
dently in a fair way to spoil his son’s life bore the same name 
as the woman who had played a part in the days of his own 
youth, nearly five-and-twenty years ago. 

A quarter of a century is a big slice out of life, but to 
Peter, looking back down the vista of the years, it did not 
seem as long as that since the time when he and that other 
Dolores—Dolores Daventry—had played at love together 
throughout the whole of a golden summer by the Cornish sea. 
He could see her now, with the eyes of his mind, as clearly as 
he had seen her then with the adoring eyes of ardent youth— 
a slip of a girl with night-black hair and cream-white skin, 
like some wonderful black-and-white etching, looking up at 
him with the dark, fringed pools of eyes which had been the 
gift of her Italian mother. Born of mixed English and Latin 
parentage, the south had predominated unmistakably in her 
temperament. She had all the fire and passion and allure of 
her maternal ancestry. 

How he had worshipped her! Probably—almost certainly 
*—he would have married her if Barbara Grey had not 
chanced to cross his path just then Barbara, restfully 
simple and sincere, with serene blue eyes and nondescript 
fair hair, and that frank, half-boyish camaraderie and charm 
which seems to be the peculiar heritage of the English¬ 
woman. The strange, indefinable call of race had to be 


110 Waves of Destiny 

reckoned with. Unconsciously Bettington reacted to it, and 
before long, with suddenly clarified vision, he was wondering 
how on earth the exotic, feverish beauty of Dolores could 
ever have appealed to him. The glamour and the spell were 
gone. 

Subsequently, when his engagement to Barbara Grey was 
announced, Dolores had been one of the first to offer her 
felicitations—with an insouciant gaiety which had effectually 
disposed of the idea that her heart had been any more se¬ 
riously involved than Peter’s own, and during the years of 
perfect happiness which succeeded his marriage he had 
practically forgotten all about her. Once he remembered 
vaguely hearing that she had married, and later still came 
the news that she had divorced her husband, neither of which 
facts had seemed to be even remotely connected with his own 
life. 

And now this gravely warning letter from Jim Burnaby, 
with its mention of the name Dolores, had suddenly reminded 
him of things which had long faded from his memory. It 
was only a coincidence, of course, the similarity of name. 
But for a moment it brought the past vividly before him. 
He could see again the gaunt, stark cliffs of Cornwall, with 
the dazzling blue sea breaking into a smother of flying spume 
against their ragged sides, recapture the clean, sharp tang of 
brine in the air as it mingled with that faint, elusive scent 
of stephanotis which had been wont to signify for him the 
presence of Dolores. 

He brushed his hand across his eyes, deliberately dismiss¬ 
ing the recollections which had suddenly risen up from the 
past and confronted him. The present demanded his atten¬ 
tion with an urgency which was overwhelming. Jim Burn¬ 
aby was no alarmist. On the contrary, he was about as 
tolerant and level-headed a man as you could find, and Peter 
knew surely that if Burnaby considered matters serious 
enough to counsel Toby’s immediate recall from Italy, the 
position of affairs must be critical. 


Ill 


A Dangerous Woman 

His brows drew together. Since Barbara’s death, five 
years previously, it had been round Toby that his whole 
thought and desire had centred. The boy was all that was 
left to him—son of the woman he had worshipped, the living 
link with his dead happiness. Bor a considerable time he 
debated with himself how best to meet the crisis which had 
arisen. Of course, he could follow Burnaby’s suggestion and 
summon the lad home. But supposing Toby did not choose 
to answer the summons ? Then, while the danger deepened 
hourly, valuable time would have been wasted to no pur- 
pose. 

This woman, this adventuress—Dolores di Eavoglini— 
could be counted on to exert all her power to keep him at 
her side until she had either married or ruined him. With 
a grim twist of the mouth Peter acknowledged that the terms 
were practically synonymous. And the power which a 
woman of her type could wield over a young man of Toby’s 
quick, eager temperament was almost incalculable. Without 
doubt, she was fully aware that the boy was heir to a big for¬ 
tune. She would not readily allow him to escape. 

Suddenly Peter came to a decision. Toby’s welfare was 
the one thing in life that mattered to him. He was taking 
no risks. He would go to Italy himself instead of wiring the 
boy to return home—a mandate which might, or might not, 
be obeyed! 

2 

The blow had fallen at last, after a long, fruitless discus¬ 
sion betwixt father and son in the hotel bedroom overlooking 
the bay. Toby had been first aloof, with a reticence Peter 
tried in vain t q combat, then irritable, like a cornered animal. 
Finally, with a sort of desperate pride and determination, he 
had flung down the gauntlet. 

“I can’t go home with you. I’ve asked her to marry me, 
and she’s consented.”* 


112 


Waves of Destiny- 

Only a quick compression of the lips showed that Peter 
had heard. It was some minutes before he spoke. 

“You think you’re in love with her, I suppose ?” he said 
at last. 

Toby’s blue eyes—so heart-shakingly like the eyes of the 
woman who lay sleeping in the quiet little Cornish church¬ 
yard—blazed back at his father. 

“I don’t think. I know,” he answered shortly. 

Peter nodded quietly. 

“We’ll accept that, then.” Toby stared at him doubt¬ 
fully, hardly believing his ears. Then his young mouth 
hardened, as his father went on swiftly: “Do you know— 
have you realised—what kind of woman she is ?” 

“Of course, you’ve heard tales!” burst out Toby, passion- 
' ately chivalrous as only youth can be. “There’s always gos¬ 
sip about a woman as beautiful as Dolores. But one needn’t 
believe it. I don't believe it”—stubbornly. 

“I’ve made a good many inquiries. I’m afraid there’s 
very little said about her that isn’t true.” Bettington paused, 
then added deliberately: “You can’t marry her, Toby.” 

“I can, and I will!” returned Toby swiftly. “Oh! I know 
what you think—that I’m too good for her, that she’s not 
fit to marry me—all that hard-as-nails Puritanical rub¬ 
bish-” 

“bTo,” interrupted Peter sharply. “You’re wrong. What 
I’m thinking”—his eyes, fixed on Toby’s face, narrowed 
suddenly—“is that Dolores di Bavoglini is not a fit woman 
to put in your mother’s place. You think that, too, don’t 
you ?” 

The boy turned a white face towards him. 

“That’s not fair,” he cried in a stifled voice. “It’s not 
fair.” 

“It’s true,” answered Peter, looking away from the hurt 
misery of the blue eyes. 

Toby stood still, clenching and unclenching his hands. 
Then: 



A Dangerous Woman 113 

“I’m going to marry her,” lie said jerkily. “I’d be a 
skunk to throw her over. Yon can’t let a woman down like 
that. Besides, she’s—she’s been wonderful to me—you don’t 

know-” He turned away abruptly and flung out of the 

room. 

Peter looked after him regretfully. He could sense the 
turmoil of Toby’s emotions—the passion which Dolores had 
waked in him warring against his instinctive, clean young 
summing-up of essential values. That reference to his 
mother—to Barbara! Peter had forced himself to make it, 
thrusting sheer at the hoy’s heart, and it had got home. But 
though it had cut Toby pretty badly, it was a useless weapon, 
returning blunted from contact with the shield of that fierce, 
boyish honour which could see only shame in the thought of 
discretion and retreat. 

With a brief sigh Bettington rose from his chair and 
strolled out on to the balcony, staring with unseeing eyes 
across the blue waters of the bay. It was up to him to save 
Toby from the snare in which his feet were tangled—to save 
him, somehow. The boy’s attitude, his very straightness, 
would add a hundredfold to the difficulties of the task before 
him. And yet—Peter admitted it with a brief, whimsical 
smile—he would not have had him one whit less scrupulous, 
would not have sacrificed an iota of that burning loyalty to a 
woman who had no understanding of loyalty beyond its mere 
trade value to herself. 

An hour later found Peter walking up the broad drive 
that led to Villa Violetta. It was the hottest part of the 
afternoon, and he walked slowly. He had chosen this time 
so that he should be certain of finding Dolores at home. Ho 
one who could help it went out at that hour of the day in 
Haples, and if the signora had not yet finished her siesta, 
he was prepared to wait until she had. 

The villa gardens were ablaze with flowers—the mingled 
perfume of them came borne to him on the drowsy, sun- 
warmed air—luscious, heady scent of southern bloom, almost 



114 


Waves of Destiny 

overpowering in its sweetness. Presently lie reached the 
villa itself, its white stucco almost hidden beneath a cloud of 
blossom. A deep silence pervaded the whole place, and the 
reverberation of the bell, as he pulled the old-fashioned 
handle, seemed to break through the stillness with a curious 
suggestion of violence. 

An old Italian woman, her sallow face wrinkled wherever 
a wrinkle could find place, her dark eyes bright and glancing, 
like a robin’s, peered at him scrutinisingly. Could he see 
the signora? She shook her head doubtfully. Peter smiled 
at her—that lovable, half-whimsical smile of his which so few 
women could resist—and the old serving-woman melted. 
Yes, it was true—the signora had finished her siesta . Per¬ 
haps she would receive the signore inglese. The name ? A 
swift expression of surprise crossed her face as Peter gave 
his name. It was quite familiar to her. But this was not 
the same Signore Bettington whom she had learned to know 
as a daily visitor at the villa. A sudden suspicion leaped 
into her shrewd old eyes and her manner hardened. 

“I will go and see,” she said harshly, and abruptly closed 
the door in his face, leaving him standing alone outside in 
the silence and warmth and fragrance. 

Presently the door reopened and she beckoned him to enter. 
The Signora di Ravoglini would see him. He followed her 
into the grateful coolness of the villa, through a pillared hall 
with tessellated floor of variously hued marble, the white 
limbs of statuary gleaming fugitively from shadowy corners, 
into a cool, wide room, with the same chequered flooring, and 
enfolded in the semi-darkness of windows closely shuttered 
to keep out the heat. In the centre of the room a fountain 
plashed refreshingly, the figure of a laughing Cupid holding 
aloft a vessel from which the water sprayed into a basin of 
green-veined marble, cooling the parched air. 

Por a moment, accustomed to the sunlit glare outside, 
Peter could distinguish but little. Then, his eyes adapting 
themselves to the half-light, he discerned an immense divan 


A Dangerous Woman 115 

at the further end of the room, heaped with rich-hued 
cushions, from which a woman had just risen and now stood 
awaiting him. As he approached she said something in 
rapid Italian to the old serving-woman, who nodded and, 
proceeding to one of the windows, opened the shutters, letting 
in a stream of light before she quitted the room. 

The light fell full on the figure of the woman who had 
risen from the divan, and Peter, in the act of advancing 
towards her, halted suddenly. 

“Dolores!” 

The name escaped him involuntarily. Older, of course, 
hut still slim and pliant and amazingly beautiful, Dolores 
di Ravoglini was the same Dolores he had known five-and- 
twenty years ago. She regarded him through half-closed 
eyes. 

“Yes. Didn’t you guess?” It was the familiar liquid 
Italian voice—the voice that had once been able to set all his 
pulses racing. How it left him unmoved, though he was still 
conscious of its beauty—its supple sweetness of intonation 
and able to estimate its probable effect on Toby. 

“I thought you must have guessed, Peter,” she went on, 
rallyingly, “and come to see what I was like now.” 

He looked at her consideringly. 

“I think that’s what I did come for,” he said. “To see 
what you are like.” 

“Well?”—challenging^. She was sure of herself, sure of 
her undimmed beauty. 

“I can’t answer that now,” he replied gravely. “I haven’t 
found out yet—what you are like.” 

Something—some swift change passed over her. Her 
eyes hardened. 

‘What do you mean ?” she asked sharply. She sank back 
on to the divan and gestured towards a chair. “Sit down 
and tell me what you mean?” 

“I mean that I don’t know yet whether you are going to 
be generous—and fair, or whether-” 



116 


Waves of Destiny 

She snapped her fingers. 

“Ah! I understand, my friend. Toby has told you that 
I am to be his wife.” 

“He’s told me that he has asked you to be his wife,” cor¬ 
rected Peter quietly* 

A latent fire woke to life in her sombre eyes. She smiled 
at him with covert triumph. 

“And I have accepted his offer. I’ve had my day—and 
a very good day it has been, too! How I think it is time I 
settled down and became respectable.” 

“At Toby’s expense?”—dryly. 

“Oh, I shall make him happy. Do not worry yourself on 
that score, amico mio ” 

“For a year—two years, perhaps,” admitted Peter. 
“After that, he’ll begin to realise things. He won’t thank 
you, then, for spoiling his life.” 

“I didn’t thank you—for spoiling mine.” 

There was a new note in her voice, something poignant 
and anguished—the accumulated pain of years suddenly 
rushing headlong to the surface. Her great eyes, fixed on 
his face, held naked accusation. He started up, incredulous, 
white-lipped, conscious of a great and terrible fear. 

“Dolores! Do you know what you are saying? Did 
you —mean that?” 

But the revealing moment had passed. She lowered her 
lids for an instant and when she looked at him again the 
expression in her eyes was merely derisive. 

“Ah! I see you are just as conceited as most other men, 
amico —only too ready to believe that some poor woman has 
been breaking her heart for you all these years! But you 
need not reproach yourself on my account. I have had many 
loves, many romances, since that summer in Cornwall.” She 
laughed amusedly—a little ripple of sound that lightly 
ridiculed his sudden uprush of horrified self-reproach. 

Her laughter jarred on him. 

“I’ve no doubt you have,” he responded savagely. “But I 


A Dangerous Woman 117 

haven’t any intention of letting you add Toby to the number., 
I came here to ask you to release him.” 

“But why?”—in accents of astonishment. 

“You know why. Bor every reason in the world.” 

She shook her head. 

“We love each other. Here, in Italy, one knows better 
how to love than in your cold grey England.” 

“Then if you love him, give him up,” interposed Peter 
eagerly. “Give him his freedom, Dolores.” 

“Has he asked for it ?”—quietly. 

Reluctantly he admitted the truth. 

“Ho. He considers himself bound.” 

An odd expression flitted across her face. 

“He is more honourable than his father was,” she said 
tauntingly. 

“And do you intend to hold him to that honour ?” 

“Of course. We are betrothed.” 

“ An engagement can be broken,” he hazarded. 

Her eyes flashed dangerously. 

“Men do not break their engagements, of whatever kind, 
with Dolores di Ravoglini, my friend.” 

She was as elusive as a butterfly, and Peter realised that 
he was making no headway. She was not prepared to listen 
to any appeal that he might make. At length, reluctantly, 
he resorted to the usual ultimate solvent of such situations. 

“I’m a rich man. That, of course, you know. I’m pre¬ 
pared to buy Toby’s freedom.” 

She sprang to her feet. 

“But I’m not prepared to sell it! I’ve told you”—with 
a smile—“I want to marry again—to lead the life of an 
English lady of position. It is high time I settled myself. 
Though, even so”—a secret mockery in her eyes—“if Toby 
himself asks me to release him, I will. . . . But on no other 
condition. You see”—amiably—“I am very fair. I do not 
even wish to hold him against his will.” 

She had named the one contingency which could never 


118 Waves of Destiny 

arise. If Toby’s freedom depended on his asking for it him¬ 
self, he would never get it. “You can't let a woman down 
like that ” he had said, with that reckless, unthinking boyish 
loyalty of his. 

There was nothing for it but to accept defeat. Peter left 
the villa, walking very slowly, with bent head. 

3 

It was a chance remark overheard at the English club 
which first suggested the idea. A couple of men were gossip¬ 
ing together within Peter’s hearing, and Dolores’ name 
cropped up. One of the men laughed cynically. 

“The Ravoglini? Nothing doing nowadays. She’s out 
for the propriety stakes—marriage and a good position. 
Didn’t you know ? She’s nabbed young Bettington.” 

“Why, he’s only a youngster,” protested the other. 

The first speaker shrugged his shoulders. 

“True. But he or any other man would serve, provided 
he can give her what she wants.” 

“Any other man!" The words were like a searchlight 
flashed across the dark confusion of Peter’s troubled 
thoughts, and in an instant he realised that here was the 
one possible way by which Toby could be saved. He had as 
much, indeed, far more to offer than his son. He wondered 
curiously why this solution of the problem had never occurred 
to him throughout these last few days of feverish, concen¬ 
trated thought. It was a terrible way out, involving the 
complete surrender of his own life. But it meant the salving 
of Toby’s—and in the natural course of events Toby had 
much longer to live than he, with all the good years ahead of 
him. Peter was determined that they should be good years. 

He stated his proposition very simply to Dolores, not 
troubling to conceal its object. 

“It would effectually cure Toby of his infatuation,” he 
added. “And his honour would be unhurt. I don’t want 


A Dangerous Woman 119 

to hurt that”—swiftly. “It must he you who break off the 
engagement.” 

“It would certainly cure him,” admitted Dolores dryly. 

She had listened with downbent eyes, her pale, immobile 
face devoid of any sign of emotion. 

“And you would promise to make me your wife, instead V’ 
she continued. 

“I would make you my wife,” replied Peter steadily. 
“You may trust me, Dolores. I’d do all I could to compass 
your happiness.” 

“Ah, yes! You would what you call ‘play the game’— 
I am sure of that.” 

He regarded her with faint surprise. 

“Yet the other day you practically accused me of being 
less honourable than my son.” 

“The other day ? Ah! The other day”—softly—“I was 
feeling sad. And sometimes when one is sad one tries to 
hurt other people and make them sad, too. I don’t know 
why.” She laid her hand lightly on his. “I did not mean 
it, amico mio ” 

He checked a sharp, instinctive movement to withdraw 
his hand, and his expression altered. He looked as a man 
may look who had suddenly come in contact with a snake. 
There was irrepressible repugnance in his eyes. 

She was watching him quietly. 

“You are quite ready to marry me, Peter ?” 

“I am ready,” he answered steadily. 

“Yet you don’t like me,” she flashed at him suddenly. 

The grave grey eyes met hers without flinching. 

“Ho,” he said. “I don’t like you.” 

She frowned a little. 

“I’m afraid you’d make a poor sort of husband,” she 
remarked uncertainly. “I’m not quite sure that the prospect 
is altogether attractive.” 

A sudden fear caught Peter in its grip. He had so nearly 
won, so nearly carried Toby into safety! 


120 Waves of Destiny 

“I’ll be any sort of husband you wish,” he said roughly. 
“You shall have the rest of my life to do as you like with.” 

She surveyed him quizzically, between narrowed lids. 

“It’s a handsome offer,” she continued, with a slight shrug 
of supple shoulders. 

“It’s everything I have to give”—quietly. 

For a moment she was silent, looking downwards and 
trifling with a long string of wonderful pearls that hung down 
almost to her knees, while Peter waited in tense anxiety. 
At last she lifted her eyes. 

“And what should you do about your property—your 
estate in England—Betridge Court?” 

His jaw seemed to square itself. 

“The boy lives there,” he said implacably. “That’s the 
only thing I won’t give you—my home. That’s got to be 
kept clean. . . . But you shall have everything else in the 
world that you want—a villa here, and in France, a house in 
London—what you will.” 

“I want—love.” She spoke very low. “Have you for¬ 
gotten how to love, Peter ?” 

He steadied himself. If he were to win out he must fulfil 
his side of the bargain to the uttermost demand—yield her 
everything. Everything—except Toby and Betridge. 

“Ho. I’ve not forgotten.” 

“Then kiss me.” 

He stooped his head and his lips met hers. Her eyes 
closed and she shivered a little in his arms, catching her 
breath. Then she drew quietly away from him. 

“Well?” he queried. “Have you decided? Will you 
marry me ?” 

“I’ll tell you—in three days’ time. I must—I must have 
a little while to think. But come and see me. We must 
get to know each other—learn each other all over again, 
Peter.” 

He acquiesced. There was no other course open to him. 
For two days he came and went at the villa, schooling him- 


121 


A Dangerous Woman 

self to pay the cost of Toby’s freedom. He would come 
away with his brain reeling, the scent of stephanotis stifling 
in his nostrils, the sound of her low, liquid voice and the 
plash of the fountain lingering maddeningly in his ears. 

The second evening, as he was leaving her, she leaned 
towards him in all the soft abandonment of surrender. 

“I think I have decided, Peter,” she said, a little break 
of utter tenderness in her voice. “To-morrow—to-morrow I 
will give you—everything I have to give.” She used his 
own words. 

He went out into the night with the set mouth of a man 
who has won, but in the winning lost all. A photograph of 
Barbara in a little folding leather case stood on his dressing- 
table at the hotel. It had gone everywhere with him since he 
had had to go alone. He lifted it and stared down at it with 
eyes which held a sick agony of pain. 

“Barbara—you’ll understand!” He spoke aloud, as 
though she were in the room with him. Then he closed the 
case, with a quick deliberation shutting from sight the face 
of the only woman who had ever counted in his life. 

It was not until the following evening that he turned 
his steps towards the villa. Giulietta, Dolores’ old Italian 
servant, had telephoned him earlier in the day that the 
signora was lying down with a bad headache, but that she 
would expect him to dinner as usual. Accordingly, at eight 
o’clock he made his way very slowly up the flowered drive 
to the door of the villa. Contrary to custom, it stood open. 
Fragments of paper, an oddment or two of string, and a 
few scraps of straw littered the doorstep untidily. An 
atmosphere of silence pervaded the place. Ho sound of steps 
or voices came to his ears—none of the accustomed mur¬ 
murous little noises that signify life—and when he rang the 
bell it seemed to vibrate emptily through the house, jarring 
the curious stillness with its clangour. Ho one answered 
the summons and, after a momentary hesitation, Peter 
crossed the threshold and entered the silent house. 


122 Waves of Destiny 

He passed through the paved hall, through the room 
where the fountain played, and into a smaller room beyond 
where they had dined together the previous evening. Each 
was empty. Nor were there any of the wonted signs of 
habitation. The laughing Cupid no longer tossed a quivering 
spray of water into the green-veined basin. Peter missed the 
cool, tinkling plash of it. Neither books nor papers, nor 
any of the soft silks and embroideries which had character¬ 
istically strewed the room, were to be seen. An air of neat¬ 
ness prevailed, as though the inhabitants of the house had 
gone away, leaving everything in order for the next tenant. 

“Dolores! Giulietta!” Instinctively Peter called aloud, 
but there came no reply. His voice seemed flung back at 
him jeeringly by the dumb walls. 

He strode hastily out on to the veranda—the veranda 
where last night he had sat with Dolores in the moonlight. 
It was unswept, her wicker chaise-longue bare of cushions. A 
shower of fast withering rose-leaves lay across the tessellated 
floor, blown in by the breeze. Peter’s questioning glance 
came to rest at last on the table where lay a square white 
envelope, addressed to him in Dolores’ careless handwriting. 

A muttered curse escaped him. So she had fooled him 
after all! From the first she had had no intention of keep¬ 
ing the proposed bargain with him. She had been merely 
amusing herself at his expense. And now she had left the 
villa, and probably Toby alone knew whither she had gone. 
That the boy would follow her—might even now have gone 
to her, while he was wasting precious moments here!—he 
felt sure. With a hand that shook a little, he tore open 
the letter, dreading to read the confirmation of his fear. 

Peter (the letter ran)— When you get this I shall have 
gone away—left Naples f Tell Toby I was everything he 
didn't believe me to be. That will cure him, my friend. 
It will hurt him a little at first, but he is young and he 


A Dangerous Woman 123 

will forget. It’s when one grows older that forgetting is 
so difficulty 

It was good of you to offer yourself as a substitute, 
Peter—rather brave and splendid of you, all things con- 
sideredy But I can’t take what you offer—because you 
happen to be the one man in the world I’ve ever loved or 
ever shall love. I kept you near me these last two days, 
though I could see you hated it. But, now that you know 
everything, I don’t think you’ll grudge them to me. 
They are the only good things life has ever given me. 

DOLORES ; 

Alone on tlie veranda, with the warm night scents around 
him, and the light of the pale young moon threading the 
falling dusk, Peter hared his head in grave salutation. 

“Rather brave and splendid of you, Dolores—all things 
considered,” he said. His voice was queerly uneven. 


CHAPTER VII 

GEIST TO THE MILll 

“ ‘mHE UNDERDOG’ ? It will be rather a new de- 
1 parture for you, Rorke—a tale that deals with the 
rank and file.” 

The head of the famous publishing house of Blake and 
Milward spoke slowly, consideringly, scanning the thin, 
hatchet face of the man sitting opposite him—David Rorke, 
the equally famous novelist. 

The latter nodded. 

“I know,” was all he said. But his grey, deep-set eyes 
were suddenly luminous. “That’s why I want to try it.” 

Blake hesitated. In the five or six novels which lay to 
his credit, Rorke had dealt brilliantly with the upper stratum 
of society, handling it with the sure touch of one who is 
familiar with every piece and move in the game. He had 
written of the life which he knew, to which he had been born 
and bred, and he had struck fire from the conventional, seek¬ 
ing—and finding—the unquenchable human soul hidden 
beneath the shroud of artificiality. Would he succeed equally 
with a tale set in a quite other milieu? Or would he merely 
jeopardise a reputation that was worth a comfortable annual 
income to himself and to his publishers ? 

On the other hand, if Rorke could bring the same insight 
to bear on this, to him, untried material, what a crowning 
success, both artistically and financially, the book might be! 
Perhaps it was worth risking the experiment. 

Blake’s expression concentrated into a sudden keenness. 

“Try it, then,” he said at last. “But—don’t write it from 
those rooms of yours in St. James’ Street! Get at grips with 
the real thing. The underdog will never let you see him 
124 


Grist to the Mill 


125 

as he is, unless he thinks you’re of his own kind. You’ll 
have to live amongst ’e!m, he one of them. ISTo rich man will 
ever break through the outworks of their pride, poor devils!” 

Again Rorke nodded. 

“I’ve thought of that. David—Seton”—he smiled— 
“would take a room in one of those big tenement buildings.” 

“That’s the idea!” Blake beamed approval. “And 
frankly, my dear fellow, it won’t hurt you. That last book 
of yours—well, it was sheer technique and your name on the 
cover which pulled it off as a success. Your work’s getting 
a bit anaemic ; there’s not enough red blood in it.” 

So David went away in search of red blood. 

London—that section of it to which the comings and go¬ 
ings of the popular writer mattered in their intimately so¬ 
cial aspect—absorbed the information that Rorke had gone 
out of town to work at his forthcoming novel, and a new 
tenant took possession of a room in one of those great, rabbit- 
warren hostelries where the poor and unsuccessful eke out 
their livelihood. 

David had purchased some second-hand furniture which 
he regarded as appropriate to his new station in life, and 
the man in charge of the delivery van had deposited it with 
a lack of ceremony consonant with its cost, leaving David 
to wrestle single-handed with the question of its ultimate 
disposition. 

It was late in the afternoon by the time he had arranged 
the greater part of it to his liking and proceeded to focus his 
attention upon a chest of drawers which still blocked the 
doorway. 

With the half-idle curiosity incidental to new ownership, 
he had pulled open one of the drawers, only to find that no 
persuasions of his would induce it to close, again. There it 
remained, with the inherent perversity of all cheap-made 
furniture, wedged as firmly as a rock. Apparently, there¬ 
fore, the chest was destined to spend the night on the land¬ 
ing, since, in its present condition, it could by no means be 


126 Waves of Destiny 

insinuated through the narrow framework of the doorway. 

David made a determined onslaught upon the protruding 
drawer. To all intents and purposes, he might equally as 
well have endeavoured to shift a cathedral, and he desisted, 
reflecting ruefully upon the beautiful old tallboy in his St. 
James’ Street bedroom, with its smoothly running drawers, 
the skilful handiwork of craftsmen who had lived and died 
long before the era of cheap goods. Never, hitherto, had 
he realised how poverty, even the comparative poverty which 
can afford a room and three—also comparative—meals a 
day, thrusts its detailed irritations into every nook and 
cranny of its victim’s daily life. 

He was still eyeing the open drawer with baffled fury when 
a light footstep sounded on the stone stairway, and a girl 
emerged from the gloomy depths below, surmounting the 
steepness of the steps with an ease that bespoke long 
practice. 

Finding herself confronted by a solid piece of furniture, 
she paused irresolutely and glanced inquiringly towards the 
man beside it—a tall, loosely-knit figure in his shabby suit, 
with boyishly ruffled hair freely adorned with wisps of 
straw, and, beneath a penthouse of shaggy brow, a pair of 
kind, discerning grey eyes. 

“I’m awfully sorry,” said David, replying to her un¬ 
spoken question, “but I can’t get the brute into my room— 
the confounded drawer has stuck. Can you squeeze by, do 
you think?”—anxiously gauging the width of the available 
passage. 

A little trill of laughter answered him, spontaneously 
sweet and gay with delicate mockery. 

“Oh, yes, I can get by, I think.” 

The sparkle of irony in her tones brought David’s eyes 
swiftly from the consideration of the margin of space to the 
consideration of the girl herself. 

The light from the unscreened gas-jet in his room flared 
out through the open doorway, revealing the extreme slight- 


127 


Grist to the Mill 

ness of her figure—knowledge of which had flecked her 
voice with amusement. It disclosed, too, a small fine head, 
poised on the slender throat with the grace of a harebell, and 
the pure outline of a face of uncommon charm, lit by dusky, 
sombre eyes that gleamed like stars reflected in a pool at 
night. 

Against the sordid background of the bald stone stair¬ 
way and dirt-spotted walls of the tenement building, the 
girl’s face glowed with the vivid beauty of a flower that has 
sprung into life on a dustheap. 

David experienced an impulse of sheer joy in the young 
loveliness of her, and then, a second later, he was conscious 
of a bleak perception of the paint which tinged her cheeks 
and reddened the curving lips that smiled at him. He 
divined, too, a dexterous technique in the way she wore her 
clothes, threadbare and shabby though they were, and there 
was conscious skill in the rakish tilt of her hat. 

“Seven stone and a bit,” he commented. “Yes, I think you 
can get by.” 

She laughed and slipped like a shadow between the corner 
of the chest of drawers and the projecting angle of the iron 
banister rail, then paused hesitatingly, 

“But can’t I help?” 

David shook his head. 

“The drawer won’t budge. I don’t believe Samson him¬ 
self would be of any assistance 1” 

“Let me try.” 

She slid a pair of slim, supple hands coaxingly benepth 
the drawer, and, an instant later, it glided into its appointed 
place as smoothly as even Mr. Chippendale himself could 
have desired. 

“Brute force isn’t everything, you see,” she observed de¬ 
murely. 

“As Samson ultimately discovered,” he agreed, adding 
with sincerity: “I am truly grateful for the advent of 
Delilah.” 


128 Waves of Destiny 

The girl stood and watched him as he at last pushed 
and dragged the chest of drawers triumphantly into his 
room. 

“You’re just moving in?” She hazarded a quick, bird¬ 
like glance at the tell-tale debris that bestrewed the floor. 

“I am,” he replied grimly. “It’s proved a bigger under¬ 
taking than I anticipated.” 

Her eyes rested commiseratingly on his dust-streaked face, 
noting the signs of physical fatigue it showed. 

“Have you fed ?” she asked bluntly. 

“Haven’t had time,” he returned, all at once aware that 
he had had nothing to eat since breakfast and that he was 
both hungry and thirsty. 

“My room is just opposite,” she went on, a thought shyly. 
“If you will come across—in ten minutes’ time—I’ll give 
you some tea.” 

“Oh, but I can’t impose-” he began hastily. 

“I’m making some for myself, anyway. You’d better 
come. Why, I dare say you haven’t even provided your¬ 
self with a kettle ?”•—searchingly. 

He had not. Humbly he acknowledged it. 

“I thought as much,” she rejoined. “In ten minutes, then.” 
She nodded and disappeared into a room which faced his own 
from the opposite side of the landing. 

A quarter of an hour later he presented himself at her 
door and was admitted, to the pleasant humming motif 
emitted by a kettle on the gas-ring. 

The girl had taken ofl her outdoor things, and, as she 
turned towards him, he saw that she had also removed the 
colouring from her lips and cheeks. Her face now presented 
a fine, clear pallor, and, in his eyes, she appeared infinitely 
more attractive than before. The artificial note had jarred 
on him. 

“Ho, I don’t like it any more than you do,” she flung 
at him, reading his thoughts. “It’s part of my job, that’s 
all” 



Grist to the Mill 129 

“Part of your job?” Por a moment a great fear shook 
him. 

The kettle suddenly switched off, substituting clouds of 
steam for its cheery humming, and the girl busied herself 
brewing the tea before she made reply. 

“Pm a mannequin” she volunteered then, as she handed 
him his cup. “At the Maison Mariette,” she added. 

David’s sister bought her frocks from Mariette. He was 
conscious of a feeling of personal guilt, which he recognised 
as manifestly absurd, seeing that whether his sister dealt 
at the Maison Mariette or not, this girl would still be com¬ 
pelled to make up suitably in her capacity of mannequin . 

“That means you show off the latest creations in frocks, 
doesn’t it?” he inquired. 

“Yes. And Madame Mariette has no use for girls who 
look pale and tired—as we most of us do towards the end of 
the day.” Then, as though ridiculing the touch of appeal 
that had dwelt in the speech: “Imagine showing off a pale 
blue gown with one’s face the colour of paper! There would 
be no sale if your customer thought the frock might em¬ 
phasise her own putty-coloured complexion!” 

“It sounds a bit exacting,” commented David. “What 
made you take up the—the profession of mannequinf” 

“Lack of money and the absence of other means to make' 
any. My face—or rather”—with a light laugh—“my figure’s, 
my fortune! And there aren’t too many—respectable—• 
occupations open to a woman whose capital is vested in her: 
looks,” she added dryly. 

“Then if you lose your figure-” 

“I lose my job. But”—smiling briefly—“that’s an un¬ 
likely contingency. The occupants of a tenement building 
don’t over-eat—much.” 

Presently she sought a reciprocal confidence. 

“But you—what are you doing in a place like this? 
You’ve not”—shrewdly—“always been—one of us?” 

“Ho,” he answered truthfully. “Hot always.” 



Waves of Destiny- 


130 

Slie nodded. , , _ , 

“I thought not. You’ll find it all the harder. I dont 
suppose you’ve the remotest idea how to live cheaply? 

“JSTo, I don’t think I have,” h.e admitted. “But I shall 
have to learn,” he added decisively. 

“You must let me help you”—eagerly. “I’ll show you 
where to shop—in the evenings, you know, that’s the cheapest 
time.” 

“I shall be very glad if you will.” 

“All right. I’ll be glad to do it. They’re sharks, half of 
them—the salesmen, I mean, and they’d size you up in two 
minutes—and charge you accordingly.” 

Later, alone once more in his own room, David found 
himself musing on the simple method of making friends 
which apparently obtained in his new sphere of life. No 
observance of a formal ritual was required—just the mere 
need that one human being may have of another’s help, and 
the preliminaries of acquaintance were swamped in an eager 
offer of service. 

Sheila Craig—she had told him her name, and the lilt of 
it lingered pleasingly in his ears—gave good measure. In 
the weeks that followed she showed him where to buy his 
provisions to the best advantage, advised him as to which 
milkman added the least quantum of water to a pint of milk, 
and initiated him into all the little shifts and economies by 
which sixpence may be made to go as far as a shilling in less 
skilful hands. 

A happy comradeship founded itself on these experiences, 
and gradually, prompted by her eager interest, he enlight¬ 
ened her as to his work. 

“I’m a quill-driver,” he told her, in answer to her friendly 
questioning. 

She shook her head dubiously. 

“Sounds well enough—but the pay’s very irregular.” 

“Yes,” he agreed, “the pay’s irregular. But if one suc¬ 
ceeds-” 


131 


Grist to the Mill 

“It may be all right at the top of the tree, but seven-and- 
six a thousand, or thereabouts, isn’t good enough. I had a 
pal who wrote. She types other people’s work now”— 
grimly. “It pays her better.” 

A remote little smile played about his mouth. He felt 
blackly hypocritical, but to admit the truth was to stultify 
his purpose. She must still believe him a struggler in the 
sea of competition, like herself. 

“I am trying,” he told her gravely, “to write a book about 
the lives of unsuccessful folk—the poor devils of underdogs 
who’ve never had a fighting chance in life.” 

“About us—people like you and me ?” she asked quickly, 
her eyes kindling. 

“Yes—about people like you and me,” he assented. 

“Oh! How splendid of you!” Her face glowed. “We 
want some one to write about us—to tell the world how hard 
hit we are. We’re not poor enough for charity—and we don’t 
want it, either !”•—fiercely. “And we’ve no trade union to 
strengthen our hands. We’re just fighting fighting to keep 
our self-respect, and our bodies and souls together—and it’s 
one eternal grind, with no chance of ever getting our heads 
above water. Oh, David! Write it write it quickly! 
She paused. “How I wish you were a popular author- 
some one well known, so that everybody would read your 
book!” He winced, and she went on swiftly. . “But, after 
all, if you were, you wouldn’t know how to write about us, 
;would you ?”■—smiling whimsically. 

“Ho, I shouldn’t know.” 

“You must let me help,” she pursued eagerly. “There 
are people in this very building whose lives ought to go into 
that book. They’re all friends of mine,” she added simply. 
“I’ll introduce you to them—you must make friends with 
them, too.” 

So, under Sheila’s auspices, David made friends with the 
middle-aged clerk at a hundred and sixty a year (and no 
prospect of a rise), who had an invalid wife and daughter to 


132 Waves of Destiny 

support, and with, the little music-mistress who occupied a 
tiny attic up in the roof, and whose old-fashioned methods 
had left her high and dry as the tide of modern technique 
swept by her, and with the fifty shillings a week chorus-girl, 
who had come up from the country to make her fortune, and 
whose fiercely primitive virtue had cost her her job and 
resulted in an enforced period of “resting” which promised 
to lengthen out indefinitely. 

They were all intrinsically new to David, these types of 
the underdog. Vaguely he had been aware of their exist¬ 
ence, but now, for the first time, he came up against the raw 
reality of their struggle to make ends meet and preserve 
appearances. 

He began his book, writing, like one possessed, all day and 
often far into the night, only keeping his evenings free, 
when, in company with Sheila, he probed ever more deeply 
into the heart of things, learning much, even from the simple 
exposition of her own life. There would be red blood enough 
in the new book when it should appear! 

As autumn deepened into winter, the question of gas and 
fuel became of absorbing interest, and he and Sheila made 
common cause against the encroaching darkness and the bitter 
cold by adopting a communal plan of sharing each other’s 
light and fire on alternate evenings, thus reducing their 
individual expenditure to a minimum. 

It was during these long evenings, passed together in the 
happy intimacy of comradeship, that David gradually drew 
from the girl the common tragedy of her life. She had been 
the daughter of a country parson, dependent on the micro¬ 
scopic value of his living, and, in consequence, at his death, 
she had been flung entirely on her own resources. 

“I was fifteen then,” she told him. “I’m twenty now. 
I’ve beaten the world for five years—single-handed. Some 
day—when I grow old—it will beat me, I suppose. A 
woman whose looks are all her stock-in-trade is bound to be 
beaten in the long run.” 


133 


Grist to the Mill 

The simple, unself-conscious cynicism of her outlook 
thrust at David like a sharp-edged sword. There was no 
questioning its sincerity. It was the uttermost lesson she 
had learned from life—the very antithesis of that garbled 
shibboleth of cynicism prattled out by the sheltered, superfi¬ 
cial women of his own world. 

Tor five years—since she was hardly more than a child 
she had been up against the naked realities of life, and David 
was conscious of a sudden overwhelming fury that such 
things should be. He wanted to take her right away from 
it all, to keep her safe, to stand between her and the world, 
now and always. 

“Sheila”—his voice shook a little—“you need never fight 
the world— single-handed—again. Marry me, and let us 
fight it together.” 

“But—but—why ?” She kept him away with a little 
imperative gesture when he would have approached her, her 
eyes, wide and startled, searching his face. All at once, they 
flashed into anger, and she darted from him, standing apart 
like a wild thing at bay. 

“Oh, I know! You’re sorry for me! You’re asking me 
to marry you out of pity-” 

In a couple of strides he gained her side. 

“I’m not I I love you! I’ve been loving you for months, 
but I’ve only just found it out. I didn’t know it before.. I 
didn’t know why these evenings together were so splendid; 
I didn’t know why every minute away from you seemed 
wasted. ~ But I know now. I love you!” 

She was silent for so long that he had time to realise what 
it would mean to him if she sent him away from her. Un¬ 
consciously, but none the less, compellingly, love had been 
growing and deepening within him, until now, in this 
moment of avowal, he recognised that it had submerged his 
whole being. Without Sheila’s love, life henceforth would 
be a thing of no worth. 


134 


Waves of Destiny 

“Sheila—answer me!” His voice shook uncontrollably. 
“Have you no love—nothing—to give me ?” 

She went to him then, swiftly, unreservedly. 

“Oh, my dear— yes! I ? ve everything to give you. Why— 
why, David”—as his arms closed round her—“didn’t you 
guess? That very first day—on the stairs—you looked so 
lost, such a great big helpless baby of a man, struggling with 
that chest of drawers and with your hair all on end—I think 
I loved you then!” 

“When shall we get married ?” he asked presently. “To¬ 
morrow? Next day?” 

She ridiculed him gently. 

“We can’t get married on our present mutual income,” 
she said, smiling. 

“No, I suppose not. I forgot!” 

He frowned, biting his lip. He was not yet ready to avow 
the truth concerning his position—not until the book was 
finished. In a few weeks now, at the outside, his work would 
be done, and then he could leave this tragic house of the 
underdog, and take Sheila away with him and show her how 
lovely a thing life may be made. Till then- 

It was she herself who found a way out of the dilemma. 

“We must wait, dear,” she said, “wait till the book is 
published. And then, if it goes well, perhaps”—shyly— 
“perhaps we might get married.” 

“Yes, that’s it,” he said, relieved. “When the book is 
published, then we’ll get married. It won’t be very long 
now, sweetheart.” 


Sheila stooped and applied a match to David’s unlit fire. 
He would be home before very long, she hoped, and mean¬ 
while she would get the room warm and presently put the 
kettle on to boil in readiness for their supper. 

It was a Saturday afternoon, so her time was her own, 
and she took a feminine delight in making her small prepara- 



Grist to the Mill 


135 

tions for his coming. It was like a foretaste of that life 
together which would be theirs when David’s ship came home. 

She tended the newly-lit fire until it gave forth a cheery 
blaze and busied herself straightening out the' typical bachelor 
confusion of the room. Then, from a cupboard in the wall, 
she took out the requisite crockery for the coming meal and 
set the table. 

After that, there remained nothing further she could do 
before he came, and, espying a big bundle of manuscript on 
the desk at which he worked, she crossed the room and began 
idly turning the pages, reading a few lines here and there. 

It was his new book, “The Underdog,” as he had named 
it, and only that same morning he had told her, with a gay 
ring of triumph in his voice, that he had completed it. 

As she turned the pages of closely written script, a thin 
sheet of notepaper slipped from between them and, drifting 
downward to the floor, lay there face upward. She stooped 
to recover it, and, almost before she was aware, her eyes had 
involuntarily gathered something of the sense of what was 
written on it—something so significant that, with a cry, she 
snatched it up, staring at it with horrified, incredulous 
eyes. 

The printed heading at the top of the sheet was that of 
Blake and Milward, Publishers. Sheila’s glance raced down 
the few, brief written lines that followed. 

Bear RorJce —the letter ran— Surely you must have 
sojourned among the aborigines long enough to have 
absorbed their atmosphere? Their loves and hates, pains 
and penalties of existence, ought to be at your fingers’ 
ends by this time! I didn’t mean to banish you from 
polite society indefinitely! 

How goes The Underdog? I’ll wager it’s the real 
thing, and the local colour unimpeachable. 

Yours ever. 


Jonathan Blake. 


136 Waves of Destiny 

The letter fluttered from Sheila’s nerveless fingers, and 
she sat staring at the blank wall opposite, her face set in a 
white mask of horror. 

David Seton—the man she had thought just such another 
struggler in deep waters as herself—was David Eorke, the 
foremost novelist of the day! 

The irony of the thing! He was rich—rich, and she, 
thinking him no better dowered than herself, had been teach¬ 
ing him how to live as the poor must needs live, had unveiled 
before him all the little sordid makeshifts enjoined upon 
them by an iron compulsion. How he must have laughed! 

The significance of the letter was quite clear to her—as 
clear as though she had been present at the interview between 
David and his publisher and had heard Blake’s counsel: “Go 
down and live amongst them—be one of them.” 

That, then, was why David Rorke had come to dwell in a 
tenement building—in order to collect material for the new 
book he was writing! 

And she herself, and the chorus-girl, and the wan old 
music-teacher whose day was past—all those whose drab 
little tragedies she had exposed to him had been only so many 
“types” for the skilled delineation of his pen. 

Even their love—hers and his—that, too, had been tossed 
into the melting-pot! “Their loves and hates must he at your 
fingers' ends ...” Blake had written. 

Quite collectedly, with a curious deliberation of move¬ 
ment, she turned to the bulky manuscript, lying on the desk 
in front of her, and began to read, skipping passages here 
and there, but gathering the sense of the story as she went 
along. Yes, it was all there—all that he had gleaned in the 
months he had passed amid the lame dogs of life—posing as 
one of them, pretending that he shared their handicap. 

An hour—two hours—passed away before she rose, shiver¬ 
ing, from her seat, and, more from force of habit than any¬ 
thing else, coaxed the smouldering fire into fresh life against 
David’s coming. 


Grist to the Mill 137 

It struck her crudely that this was the last little service 
she would ever render him. Henceforth their ways would 
lie apart. She must go-go before he returned. It was a 
fortunate circumstance that he chanced to be so late this 
evening. 

She glanced curiously round the room, as though taking 
farewell of its dear familiarity. Her hand was outstretched 
towards the door. 

And then came the sound of eager, hurrying steps on the 
stairs outside . . . David’s step . . . 


The bitter passion of her accusation rushed from her lips, 
and, when she ceased to speak, a silence that was still more 
bitter filled the room. 

At last David answered her—collectedly, almost carefully, 
it seemed. Yet the dumb hurt in his eyes made her flinch 
and catch her breath. 

“I suppose it does appear like that to you,” he said medita¬ 
tively. “As though I’d just come to spy out the land.” 

The slow, considering tones rasped her raw-edged nerves, 
and she retaliated furiously. 

“Yes, it does appear like that. And now that you’ve 
sucked the orange dry, now that you know how the underdog 
lives—how he eats and drinks, and laughs and weeps, you 
can go! Go! Go back to your own world! . . . Our loves, 
too—and our hates "—she laughed shrilly—“those must be 
at your fingers’ ends!” 

His face twisted. 

“Sheila, listen to me! Give me a chance to explain! You 
misunderstand-” 

She controlled herself with an effort. 

“Ho, David, it isn’t that,” she said quietly. “It’s that I 
understand too well! We were all of us only grist to the 
mill—just so much material for you to work upon and turn 
into money.” 



138 Waves of Destiny 

“I swear it isn’t so! I acknowledge that originally I came 
for that-” 

“So yon admit it—now that you’re found out!”—scorn¬ 
fully. 

“Yes,” he answered steadily. “I admit it. I did come 
for that—and then I stayed because, whether it made money 
or no, the book had to be written. It needed to be written, 
and thank God I was able to write it!” 

But her faith was too shaken for her to grasp the purport 
of his speech, its earnest significance. 

“Fm there—in your book!” she arraigned him with in¬ 
creasing bitterness. 

“Yes”—very simply. “How could it be otherwise? 
You’re in my heart—in my life.” 

“In your purse, you mean!”—contemptuously. “You 
only pretended to be one of us—you’ve made a mockery of 
us, analysing us and our ways and our emotions to please 
your public. That book”—pointing to it—“will stand be¬ 
tween you and me for ever. Oh! Can’t you understand? 
I’m there, we’re all there—put there so that you may earn 
money and fame. There’s nothing—nothing sacred to a man 
who writes!” 

“There is. Love—is sacred. Won’t you try”—there was 
a deep appeal in his voice—“won’t you try to believe it, 
Sheila ?” 

“Believe it ? Ho, I can’t. It’s all been part of the play. 
But I’ve finished. Henceforth, our lives are separate. I’ll 
get down from the dissecting table!” 

She turned to go, but he placed himself determinedly in 
front of her. 

“By God! You shall understand—you shall believe I 
care!” 

“I can’t,” came in dull, remorseless repetition. 

“You think I value that lx)ok, place it first and love second ? 
^There’s good stuff in it, I know-” 



Grist to the Mill |139 

“I’m sure of it,” she broke in harshly. “You’ve put our 
souls and bodies into it!” 

. I va ^ ue it,” be continued readily. “I’ve worked at 
it day in, day out, for months. IVe not been just an on¬ 
looker, as you choose to believe. The life has gripped me, 
caught me up, and I’ve been one of your fellows—no more, 
and no less. And for that reason the best work I shall ever do 
is m that book—work that will live—because Tve lived and 
felt and suffered it. . . . But I love you more than the work 
of my brain, more than fame, more than anything on earth, 
and if the book stands between us, it shall go!” 

With a swift movement he seized the pile of manuscript 
from the desk and hurled it on to the fire. 

/'There!” he cried. “There’s my proof of love! Now 
will you marry me ?” 

In silence the man and woman stood staring at the heaped- 
up script which filled the grate, and, stunned into a curious 
passivity, Sheila watched the fire die suddenly down beneath 
the impact of its heavy bulk. 

A minute later, like a snake, a narrow tongue of flame 
darted up, licked the leaves, and vanished, leaving a streak 
of brown across the whiteness of the covering sheet, while 
the undermost pages slowly turned a deepening yellow, 
cockling a little at the edges. 

Still . Sheila stood motionless, waiting, watching, in a 
dream-like apathy. She felt powerless to move—as though 
her limbs were bound with cords. 

Then, with a whispering hiss, a second ribbon of flame shot 
upward, rimming the edges of some loosened sheets with a 
quivering frill of fire—and this time the flame burned on, 
flickering greedily. 

In the same instant something seemed to snap in Sheila’s 
brain. With a stifled scream she sprang forward, and a 
second later she was on her knees before the hearth, dragging 
the manuscript from the fire, beating out the flames with 
her little bare fists. 


140 Waves of Destiny 

“It shan’t burn—it shan’t burn!” she whimpered sob- 
bingly. 

With his arms about her, David lifted her to her feet. 
She was still clutching the scarred manuscript, crushing out 
against her breast a last lingering spark that clung to it, 
widening into a glowing circle of red. 

“David—David!” Her lips were shaking. “It was like 
watching murder done! ... I couldn’t bear it!” Im¬ 
petuously she thrust the bundle of manuscript into his hands. 
“But I’ve saved it—saved your book.” 

He smiled at her. 

“Better murder a book, dear heart, than our love.” 

For a moment she was silent before the stark immensity 
of the sacrifice he had been prepared to make. Then: 

“And you—you’ve saved our love, David,” she said, and 
there was a soft, deep shining in her eyes. “It won’t—it 
can’t ever die, now.” 


CHAPTER VIII 


THE STRAIGHT GAME 

1 

A/TRS. DAVEHTRY laid the soft, fluffy powder-puff she 
had just been using down on the glass-topped toilet- 
table and, picking up her lipstick, carefully touched her lips, 
delicately emphasising their charming contour. Then she 
tilted the mirror and attentively regarded the result of her 
labours. 

Applied art undoubtedly contributed towards her appear¬ 
ance, although not to any extravagant extent, and it was a 
distinctly attractive face that looked back at her from the 
glass—piquantly angled, with a straight little nose and those 
rather high cheek-bones which somehow seem to enhance the 
value of the eyes above them. The eyes in question were 
long and hazel, with tiny specks of black and gold in the iris 
and, at their outer corners, a faint, artistically drawn line 
of shadow served to complete anything which [Nature might 
have left to chance in their setting of brow and cheek-bone. 
Beneath the smart little cloche hat, with its single inimitable 
touch of vivid tangerine, gleamed burnished hair that un¬ 
mistakably owed a part of its coppery sheen to a judicious 
application of henna. 

Its owner sighed discontentedly. 

“And it’s all a sheer waste here!” she remarked in heart¬ 
felt tones. 

Certainly the little Italian lakeside village of Varesina 
seemed a most inappropriate mise-en-scene for a woman of 
the type of Cara Daventry. A scattered handful of villas 
perched above the borders of the mountain-girdled lake, 

141 


142 


Waves of Destiny 

meandering village streets, primitive and pavementless, but 
boasting a few desirable shops where cobwebby lace, leather 
work, and exquisite trifles in frail tortoiseshell were en¬ 
ticingly displayed to tempt the tourist, and one really good 
hotel—these comprised the whole of Varesina’s attractions. 
At least, from Mrs. Daventry’s essentially material stand¬ 
point. The tranquil beauty of the place with its grave, 
snow-capped mountains, its placid stretch of blue water, 
broken here and there by tree-crowned islands or by a splash 
of colour as a boat with gaily-coloured awning drifted by, 
appealed to her not at all. As she had written to a friend in 
London: “You can’t live exclusively on a, beautiful view—* 
at any rate, I can’t.” 

She had happened on the place by accident. An acquaint¬ 
ance who had spent several weeks there in company with a 
party of friends had painted a glowing picture for her of the 
manifold delights of Varesina, quite unconsciously discount¬ 
ing the fact that it was the society of kindred spirits equally 
as much as the picturesque environment which had con¬ 
tributed to her enjoyment, and Mrs. Daventry, alone in an 
hotel that was now half empty, had been utterly and irre¬ 
trievably bored since the very first day of her arrival. 

Still, it was of no use sulking in her bedroom when the 
sun beckoned her outside, and, selecting by sheer force of 
habit a sunshade that toned artistically with her frock, she 
made her way downstairs and strolled through the deserted 
gardens until she came to the edge of the lake. Here a 
small jetty jutted out into the water, edged by a low, stone 
wall and with a flight of steps leading down from it to the 
water’s level. One or two boats, moored at the foot of the 
steps, lay almost motionless on the still surface, and she 
paused, glancing towards them uncertainly. Finally, feeling 
even too listless to attempt a pull on the lake, she unfurled 
her sunshade and, subsiding on to the wall, sat staring brood- 
ingly across at the snow-topped mountains. 

It was wonderfully quiet. Hardly a sound bivke the 


The Straight Game '143 

warm, reposeful silence, and for a long time she remained 
absorbed in her thoughts. But presently, gradually piercing 
her consciousness, came an even, rhythmic sound like the 
pulse of an engine and, looking up, she saw a motor-boat 
making its way towards the jetty. There was only one figure 
in the boat, the lean, athletic figure of a, man. His build, 
and the fair, kinky hair which the sunlight turned to gold, 
stamped him as unmistakably English, and instinctively Mrs, 
Haventry’s half-absent gaze quickened to attention. The 
boat drew nearer slowed down. It was almost alongside 
the jetty. A feeling of desperation took possession of her. 
It seemed ages since she had spoken to a man—a real, live 
Englishman. Her arm jerked spasmodically, and the next 
moment her sunshade flew out of her grasp and alighted on 
the surface of the water, where it bobbed up and down like 
a big, gaily-painted mushroom. 

The man in the motor-boat swerved its bows in the sun¬ 
shade’s direction. 

“All right,” he called. “I'll get it.” 

Eive minutes later he was standing, parasol in hand, at 
Mrs. Daventry’s side. 

“It’s dripping wet. You’d better let me carry it back to 
the hotel for you,” he said. “You are staying there, aren’t 
you ?” 

“Yes. I’m staying there,” she answered. “How did you 
guess ?” 

“Well, for one thing I saw you coming across the gardens 
about half an hour ago. And, in any case, there’s nowhere 
else where any one—like you—could possibly be staying.” 

He smiled, and Cara thought his smile was the most 
delightful thing she had ever seen. It began in his eyes, 
those very blue eyes of his, and ended crookedly at his mouth, 
slanting it up whimsically a little to one side. He was*about 
thirty, she supposed, and devoutly hoped he was unattached. 

“How ripping for me!” he exclaimed boyishly as they 
strolled towards the hotel together. “I only arrived here 


144 Waves of Destiny 

this morning, and now, thanks to your sunshade”-—he shook 
it lightly and the drops of water flew from it in a crystal 
spray—“we shan't need to glare at each other for several 
days before we dare to make acquaintance.” 

“It's ripping for me, too,” she returned. 

“Oh, I expect you've made heaps of friends here already,” 
he said discontentedly. 

She laughed outright. 

“I should he very clever if I had! The hotel is half empty, 
and such visitors as there are seem to he mostly American 
tourists who rush out sight-seeing all day and play bridge 
all evening, a few Milanese whose principal occupation is 
fishing in the lake, and one or two English—of the sort who 
would never make friends without a proper introduction! 
There goes one of them,” she added, nodding rather slight¬ 
ingly in the direction of a tall, angular woman with iron-grey 
hair and a remarkably high-bridged nose who was also head¬ 
ing for the hotel, accompanied by a slip of a girl of seventeen. 

“Good Lord!” Mrs. Daventry's companion went off into 
a shout of laughter. “That's my respected aunt, Lady 
Erskine, with her daughter. I'd no notion they were stay¬ 
ing here.” i! 

“Oh, I'm sorry—-—” Cara flushed uncomfortably. 

“You needn't be—one little bit,” he assured her cheerfully. 
“We dislike each other as cordially as most relatives. And 
she's exactly what you've described her—about as friendly 
as Cleopatra's Heedle.” 

In the lounge he left her and went off dutifully to pay his 
respects to his aunt, who was waiting regally to greet him 
before she entered the lift. Cara, watching him shake hands 
with mother and daughter, was aware of a fleeting hostile 
glance levelled at her from under lowered lids by the elder 
woman and surmised that Lady Erskine must have seen her 
walking with her nephew in the hotel gardens—seen and 
disapproved. 

“Wants him for that bread-and-butter daughter of hers,” 


The Straight Game 145 

was Mrs. Daventry’s inward comment, and she forthwith 
mentally proclaimed a state of war. All along she had been 
conscious of a subdued animosity towards the Erskines, who 
bad somewhat pointedly taken no notice of her since her 
anival at the hotel, and now she derived a certain malicious 
amusement from the fact that her acquaintance with their 
quite desirable relative obviously afforded them anything but 
satisfaction. 

The man who had rescued her sunshade from a watery 
grave proved to he even more desirable than she had antici¬ 
pated. The hotel register declared him to be Sir Roger 
Heriot of Heriot’s Court, and her knowledge of Debrett was 
amply sufficient to assure her that he was numbered amongst 
the most eligible bachelors of the moment: 

To Cara Daventry this fact was of enormous significance. 
Life had not hitherto been particularly kind to her. She 
possessed nothing beyond the tiny income which she had 
inherited from her father, and for more years now than she 
cared to remember she had reinforced it in various little ways 
that did not bear too close inspection—at least, not from the 
point of view of the sheltered, cared-for woman whose hus¬ 
band always foots the bills. Mrs. Daventry had no husband 
to undertake this very necessary office for her, and it was 
said that she was not at all averse from allowing other 
people’s husbands—or sons, as the case might be—to atone 
for this deficiency. “Such jewellery, too, my dear! She 
never bought it herself—of that you may be sure.” This 
was the kind of whispered gossip that pursued her, and 
wherever she went, desperately though she might try to keep 
in with the right people, some one invariably turned up who 
had known of her elsewhere, and soon afterwards a certain 
chilliness in the social atmosphere became apparent and Mrs. 
Daventry, as an acquaintance, was gently allowed to “slide.” 

Latterly, things had grown more difficult than ever, and 
she had even trenched upon her small capital to keep going, 
and there were occasional moments when sheer terror of the 


146 Waves of Destiny 

future caught her by the throat. Marriage held out the only 
hope of salvation, and, owing to that shrewd instinct of dis¬ 
trust which warned vigilant mothers to shepherd their sons 
determinedly away from her, the prospect of achieving 
matrimony grew more remote with each succeeding year. 

But now, thanks to that happy inspiration regarding her 
sunshade, a vista of glorious possibilities—such as she had 
long believed inexorably closed to her—had suddenly opened 
at her feet. The frank admiration in Roger Heriot’s blue 
eyes assured her of that, and here, in this lonely, romantic 
spot on the shores of Lake Maggiore, she felt that for once 
she had a clear field. She had been quick enough to sense 
Lady Erskine’s silent disapprobation, but she did not think 
the latter would injure her chances much, seeing that Heriot 
obviously cared precious little for his august relative^ 
opinion. And, in any case, an aunt was a much less diffi¬ 
cult proposition than a mother. 

So that Cara plunged into this new campaign with high 
hopes of success. She and Heriot went out often together on 
the lake, sometimes in the motor-boat which, as he gaily 
observed, Effected our first introduction,” sometimes in one 
of the rowing-boats, its cool white awning sheltering them 
from the blazing sun while Roger pulled leisurely at the 
oars and Cara lay back against the cushions in the stern, 
pretending to steer. They played tennis together on the one 
extremely bad court which was all the hotel boasted, and 
climbed the mountains, occasionally on foot, but more often 
by means of the funny little funicular railway which wound 
its way up their steep sides. And at last, of course, the 
inevitable happened. 

It was one evening when the moon was sailing through 
the sky like a great golden globe, and Roger had abruptly 
suggested a turn on the lake by moonlight. 

“Will you come?” he asked, a queer note of urgency in 
his voice. “It was on the lake we first met.” And then 
Cara guessed why he wanted it and she agreed a little 
breathlessly. 


The Straight Game 147 

Roger, coming out of the hotel a few minutes later with 
a rug slung over his arm, encountered Lady Erskine. 

“You’re going on the lake,” she said, glancing at the rug 
rather as though it were an unpleasant species of caterpillar. 
“I heard you ask that woman to go with you.” 

He nodded. 

“You heard me ask Mrs. Daventry,” he returned pleas¬ 
antly. “Any objection ?” 

“Every objection. She’s a man-hunter, and you’re simply 
walking straight into the net with your eyes blindly shut. 

,You don’t know all about her. If you did-” She paused 

significantly. 

“I know all I wish to, thank you,” he returned. “Mrs. 
Daventry has been quite frank. She’s told me she’s deadly 
hard up, and”—his voice softening—“I know she is lonely.” 
He smiled straight into Lady Erskine’s hard blue eyes. 
“And we’re going on the lake together.” 

He wheeled round and marched away, and although his 
aunt, suddenly realising that matters had gone much further 
than she had suspected, called to him to come back, he 
apparently didn’t hear her. Eor a few minutes later she 
discerned his broad-shouldered figure and Mrs. Daventry’s 
slender one standing side by side on the distant jetty, clearly 
silhouetted in the moonlight. 

2 

“And, darling, do you mind how soon we’re married?” 
said Roger joyously. “How that we’ve quite settled that 
we love each other and that we could neither of us possibly 
marry any one else, I don’t see any object in waiting.” 

The motor-boat had long since ceased to hum and lay idly 
rocking on the water in the middle of the lake, while two 
quite ridiculously happy people sat in the stern alternately 
making love and talking nonsense together. 

Marriage! Cara lifted her head from Roger’s shoulder 
and sat up suddenly. Why, that was the thing she had been 



148 


Waves of Destiny 

aiming at, striving for, all these weeks, and now, now that 
she had accomplished her object and Heriot had asked her to 
be his wife, she had forgotten all about that part of it and re¬ 
membered only that she loved him. The material side of 
the matter—the fact that the hand-to-mouth existence she had 
been living was over and done with, that her future was safe, 
her position assured—had never once entered her thoughts 
since the moment Roger had told her that he loved her and 
she had felt herself respond in every fibre of her being. She 
had been conscious of nothing except the splendour and 
glory of their mutual love, and even while now she recognised 
all that marriage with Heriot would mean to her from a 
worldly standpoint, she felt inimitably thankful that she had 
had that one glorious moment of simple love, free from all 
sordid considerations of material values. 

“Oh, Roger, Pm so glad—so glad!” she exclaimed im¬ 
pulsively, her voice a little shaken. 

“Pm glad, too,” he returned, not altogether understand¬ 
ing her, but boyishly exuberant in his new-found joy. 
“Gladder than I can say, sweetheart.” 

The boat drifted on almost imperceptibly, and at times 
they talked together and at times let the tender silence of 
the night enfold them. When they spoke, it was of the 
wonderful life that would be theirs after they were married, 
of Heriot Court, the beautiful old house, dating from the 
Horman period, which had been the home of the Heriots since 
the days of William the Conqueror, and insensibly Cara 
gathered something of the high standards and tradition 
which Roger, like every Heriot worthy of the name, en¬ 
deavoured to live up to. 

“'Truth and my sword/ ” said Roger, half shyly trans¬ 
lating for her benefit the old Latin motto of the Heriots. 
“It’s rather nice, isn’t it, sweetheart ? The kind of clean, 
straightforward motto a man can grip. My grandfather had 
it carved across the nursery chimneypiece at Heriot, because 
he said his children couldn’t get used to the idea too soon. 


The Straight Game 149 

^And I think he was right. To play the game, and play it 
straight—that’s the main thing.” 

“‘Truth and my swordf” repeated Cara, and a shadow, 
seemed to fall across her heart. Truth—sheer crystalline 
truth—did it count so much, then, in Roger’s eyes? With 
an effort she thrust the thought aside, and it was almost a 
relief when he suggested that they should he turning home¬ 
ward. She agreed hastily and sat idly trailing her fingers in 
the water while he busied himself restarting the motor. He 
was rather a long time about it, she thought. Once she heard 
the familiar hum and felt the boat steal forward a yard or 
two. Then came an irregular knocking and the little vessel 
seemed to shiver and stand still. Confused sounds issued 
from the covered-in vicinity of the engine, whither Roger 
had disappeared into the darkness—the clink of tools picked 
up and tossed down again, and once a hearty English 
“Damn!” was wafted up to her. At length Roger himself 
emerged, hot and rather grimy, his face adorned with a black 
and oily smudge which ran from brow to chin. 

“It’s all up!” he remarked succinctly. “That confounded 
engine’s struck work for the night.” 

“What!” A look of dismay crossed Cara’s face. “You 
don’t mean—that the boat won’t go?” 

“That’s just what I do mean,” he replied. “She won’t 
budge a yard.” 

“Then how shall we get back ?” 

A whimsical smile tilted Heriot’s mouth. 

“We shan’t get back—unless we find another boat to pick 
us up. And as there doesn’t seem to be a craft of any 
kind within hail, I’m afraid our chances don’t look very 
rosy.” 

“Do you mean—we shall have to stay here—all night?” 
gasped Cara. 

She had been caught in one or two not altogether dis¬ 
similar scrapes before, thanks to her own want of discretion, 
and her reputation had suffered a little tarnishing in conse- 


150 


Waves of Destiny 

quence on each occasion. And now, it seemed too hard that, 
just as she was on the eve of a new and much more desirable 
kind of existence, this unlooked-for contretemps should arise. 

“Aren’t there any fishing-boats about ?” she queried 
anxiously, her eyes searching the lake for any glimmer of a 
distant light. “There usually are,” 

Roger shook his head. 

“To-night seems to be an ‘off night’ with them,” he re¬ 
turned gloomily. “Never mind, darlingest. I’ll tuck you 
up in my coat and the rug and you’ll be all right till the 
morning. Luckily, it’s warm weather.” 

“You might shout,” suggested Cara. “Some one may 
hear us from the shore.” 

“I’m afraid we’re too far out. And, anyway, I expect the 
whole of Varesina is sound asleep by this time.” 

Not to lose any possible chance of rescue, however, he sent 
his voice lustily across the water, again and again. But it 
produced no result. Apparently the inhabitants of Yaresina 
were too deeply wrapped in slumber to be easily aroused. 
There was nothing for it, therefore, but to make the best of 
a bad job, and at last, with the rug drawn well up round her 
and leaning against Roger’s shoulder, Cara fell asleep. 

3 

She woke to the sound of voices. It was already daylight 
and she found that a small fishing-craft had pulled alongside 
the motor-boat. Heriot explained that he had seen and hailed 
the fishermen and that they had agreed to put then! ashore 
and tow the motor-boat back to harbour. Half an hour later 
as she and Roger, cold and very hungry, made their way up 
from the jetty, Cara saw one of the hotel windows go up and 
a dressing-gown clad figure pause for a moment at the 
aperture to stare down at them. 

“My reputation will be quite gone,” she declared, with a 
rather nervous laugh. 


151 


The Straight Game 

Roger laughed too, and squeezed her arm reassuringly. 

“That matters to no one except your future husband,” he 
said masterfully. “And Pm satisfied.” 

She was conscious of a sudden thrill. It was as though, 
in those few words, Roger had epitomised the whole altered 
relationship in which she stood towards the world at large. 
Ho longer Mrs. Daventry of nowhere in particular, a woman 
whom the safely established members of her own sex regarded 
with a species of distrust, hut the future wife of Heriot of 
Heriot’s Court, with the strong wall of a secure position 
fencing her round from adverse comment and innuendo. 
Henceforth she was to he one of the sheltered women. It 
was almost unbelievable, and when she reached the seclusion 
of her own room she went down on her knees in a passion of 
gratitude and thanksgiving. 

But she had forgotten the dressing-gowned figure at the 
window. Lady Erskine, watching with scandalised eyes the 
return of her nephew and Mrs. Daventry in the cold grey 
light of the early morning, summed up the whole situation in 
two angry syllables: 

“The minx!” 

An d immediately after breakfast she made a praiseworthy 
effort to save Heriot from his folly. She listened to his 
explanation of the night’s events with a cynically superior 
smile. 

“Very clever of her indeed,” she commented, “to think 
of tampering with the engine. I suppose she told you you 
had ruined her reputation 2” 

Roger’s eyes twinkled. 

“She did mention the word ‘reputation,’ ” he admitted. 

“She would! And of course you think you’ve got to marry 
her now?” 

“I am going to marry her,” he returned quietly. 

Lady Erskine’s eyes narrowed. There was something in 
Roger’s quiet speech which convinced her. 


152 


Waves of Destiny 

“You can’t,” she said swiftly, “You can’t many that 
woman, Roger.” 

His face set itself in suddenly stem lines. 

“Aunt Marian, I can’t allow you to adopt that tone regard¬ 
ing my future wife.” 

“But that’s just it. You musn’t malce her your wife.” 
Tor once genuine feeling sounded in Lady Erskine’s voice, 
“You can’t—you can’t put a woman of that sort in your 
mother’s place.” 

“What do you mean ?” She had got through his guard 
at last with that reference to his sainted, adored mother—- 
the woman who had reigned as a very great lady at Heriot’s 
Court until the day of her death. “What do you mean? 
You’ve said either too much or too little. You must ex¬ 
plain, please.” 

There s very little explanation required. Whatever else 
she is, that woman is not Mrs. Daventry.” 

“It’s a lieI” 

Lady Erskine’s thin lips curled. 

“Is it ?” she said coldly., “Then ask her. Ask her—and 
find out for yourself.” 

I will, he answered. And, wheeling round, he went 
impulsively in search of Cara. 

He found her in a sun-bathed corner of the garden, and as 
she greeted him with a happy little smile, he hated his errand. 
But he had no thought of evading it. 

“Belovedest,” he said, standing squarely in front of her, 
“I’ve got something perfectly beastly to ask you.” 

The gravity in his voice sent her heart racing. In an 
instant she felt that something threatened. 

“What what is it ?” she faltered. 

“It’s nothing, really. Oh, darling, don’t look like that— 
there s no need. It’s this: Are you, or are you not, Mrs. 
Daventry ? I know it sounds ridiculous, and I feel a perfect 
fool asking you such a question. But something’s been said 


The Straight Game 153 

—something utterly idiotic—and so I just want you to tell 
me that you are Mrs. Daventry.” 

In the pause that followed Cara’s mind worked with 
lightning-like rapidity. She had faced bad moments before, 
but never anything quite so bad as this. Her head drooped 
a little. 

“Suppose—suppose I told you I was not Mrs. Daventry?” 
she said slowly. 

“But you are—you must be!” Boger made a quick step 
forward, and for the first time fear crept into his eyes. 
“Cara, what do you mean ?” 

Suddenly she lifted her head and smiled straight at him. 
She had come to a decision. 

“I don’t mean anything very dreadful,” she said lightly. 
“It’s only that I’m not married—really. I’m Miss Daventry. 
But as I was travelling alone, I called myself Mrs., because 
it made things so much easier. A girl travelling alone, you 
know—Oh, don’t you understand, Boger? You must.” 

A great sigh of relief burst from him. 

“Yes, of course I understand, darling. But it was a pity 
you did it. It wasn’t a bit necessary, really, and you see 
how it might give rise to misunderstandings.” 

“Yes, I see,” she answered seriously. “I never thought 
of it that way. You’re—you’re not angry, Boger ?” 

“Ho, of course not. But I wish you hadn’t done it.” 

“I wish it, too—now, since it displeases you.” 

“Hever mind.” He laughed and kissed her. “It’s only— 
don’t you see ?—‘Truth and my sword / Even in little things 
it’s worth sticking to. How let’s go out and climb moun¬ 
tains, shall we ?” 

They did not return from their expedition until the eve¬ 
ning, and then it was to learn that Lady Erskine had received 
a wire recalling her to England, and that she and her 
daughter and maid had hastily packed up their belongings 
and left Varesina by the afternoon train. So that Boger 
would be perforce compelled to deny himself until their next 


15 4 


Waves of Destiny 

meeting the very human satisfaction of proving to his aunt 
how absurdly she had been making a mountain out of a 
molehill. 

“It’s quite a good notion—that of going hack to England,” 
he remarked reflectively, when he heard the news of the 
Erskines’ departure. 

“Why, haven’t you liked it here?” queried Cara. A 
sudden fear of leaving Varesina swept across her. It was 
so tranquil, so perfect, here on the shores of the lake—just 
she and Roger alone together. The thought of returning to 
England filled her with a queer sort of alarm. 

“I’ve loved it,” returned Heriot. “Every minute of it. 
But I shall love everything in the world better when you’re 
my wife. So let’s go back to England and get married, 
sweetest. Shall we ?” 


4 

Cara leaned back in her corner of the railway carriage 
and stared absently out of the window at the fields and hedges 
as they flew past. It was only a week now to the day fixed 
for her wedding, and she was on her way to Roger’s home. 
He had begged her to run down from London for a day so 
that they could discuss certain new decorations he was 
planning to have put in hand whilst they were absent on 
their honeymoon. 

He met her at the station, and waiting outside was the 
Rolls-Royce limousine, an immaculate footman in livery 
standing at the door. Soon they were slipping smoothly 
along the country road, and presently passed a lodge and 
swept up the long avenue of elms which led to Heriot’s 
Court. A woman curtsied respectfully at the lodge gates as 
she swung them apart, and when the doors of the stately old 
house were opened by the butler to admit them, Cara re¬ 
ceived a fleeting impression of other menservants waiting in 
the background. 


155 


The Straight Game 

She gave a little inward gasp as the realisation broke upon: 
her that all these things—the stately park with its beautiful 
old house, cars, servants, all this environment of ease and 
luxury—would henceforth be part and parcel of her own 
life. The contrasting recollection of the past with its pinch¬ 
ing 8 and scrapings and wretched little makeshifts filled her 
.with a wild desire to laugh. 

After lunch, Roger showed her over the place—room after 
room, each with its note of character, its hit of history. The 
hall, where ancient suits of armour glinted from dusky 
corners, and where hung the tattered banners of past days, 
stained with the blood of Heriots who had died for king and 
country. Gardens—a riot of gorgeous colour—the Italian 
garden, the Dutch garden, the rosery, each of which had 
been the special pride and care of one or other bygone genera¬ 
tion. And over all that inalienable atmosphere of tradition, 
of things old and valued and very precious, the suggestion of 
some hidden spiritual standard to which life in all its aspects 
was definitely attuned. Cara was vibrantly conscious of it, 
and it made her feel somehow small and paltry and cheap. 

“It’s very beautiful—your home, Roger,” she said at last. 

“Yes,” he answered quietly. “I love every stick and stone 
of it, and all the memories that to me are an integral part 
of it. Dm not in the least a snob, but there’s something in 
having a long line of brave men and splendid women at your 
back. It means something. It puts a certain compulsion on 
you to live up to what they have been—a duty to a name that 
has always stood for faith and honour and the things that 
count.” 

A name that has always stood for faith and honour! 
Cara’s hand went swiftly up to her throat and she glanced 
at him with suddenly frightened eyes. 

“Does it mean—so much to you ?” she asked hesitantly. 

“Yes,” he said simply. “It means everything. It’s like 
a torch that is handed on from one generation to another, 
and now it’s come to my turn. It’s up to me to hand that 


156 Waves of Destiny 

torch on, just as I received it, to my children and to their 
children after them.” 

Almost as though she were in a dream she accompanied 
him to the picture gallery where hung the portraits of dead 
and gone Heriots. They seemed to look down at her with 
grave, questioning eyes as though they asked: “Are you 
worthy to become one of us—to hand on the torch ?” 

They paused longest beneath the portrait of Boger’s 
mother. 

“She was very wonderful,” he said. “I wish you could 
have known her, helovedest. She would have been^so glad to 
know that you and I had found each other*” A little chill 
shiver ran through her. He spoke so confidently. 

Last of all he took her upstairs into a big room where the 
gay, jolly wall-paper with its milkmaids and Cinderellas and 
big and little bears carried you back to the good days when 
fairy tales were quite the most real part of life. 

“This has always been the nursery,” he said. “Look.” 
And he drew her forward so that she could see carved across 
the high, old-fashioned chimneypiece the Heriot motto. 

“ ‘Truth and my sword 333 he went on. “I grew up with 
that always before my eyes. And for our children, Cara”— 
his voice deepened—“it will be there for them too. We’d 
want them to play the straight game, darlingest—to learn 
from the beginning that that’s the only thing that really 
matters.” 

Again she felt that slight, chill shiver run through her. 
It was like the fleeting touch of a steel blade against bare 
flesh. 

“Yes,” she answered mechanically. “We’d want them—■ 
to play the straight game.” 


5 

“Why did you send for me ? What’s wrong, sweetheart ?” 
The tender eagerness of his tone hurt her incredibly. She 


The Straight Game 157 

knew that after to-day—after she had told him what she 
had sent for him to tell him—she would never again hear 
that note in his voice. It had taken her days—or was it 
years ?—to nerve herself to do it, to make up her mind. 
And yet, dully, subconsciously she thought she must have 
known all along that she would do this, known it ever since 
he had spoken of those children—those dream-children of 
his and hers. “We’d want them to play the straight game.” 
And playing the straight game was sometimes the hardest 
thing on earth. She knew that, too, now. But she was going 
to do it, because quite suddenly she found that she couldn’t 
filch from Roger his inheritance—that inheritance of his of 
a name which had always stood for faith and honour and all 
that was essentially fine. And if she married him she 
would rob both him and those dream-children. 

In the silence of her little room, high up in the tall grey 
house in London, she had faced the matter squarely. Delib¬ 
erately she was going to shut herself out from the splendid, 

glowing life which would have been hers as Roger’s wife_ 

the sheltered, assured life that other women carelessly 
accepted as their right—and go back to the same old make¬ 
shift existence as before, clinging desperately to the fringe 
of society, cadging—oh, yes, she might as well call the thing 
by its real name—cadging lunches and dinners and theatre 
tickets, and even the settlement of overdue dressmakers’ bills. 

And now Roger was standing in front of her with eager, 
questioning eyes, waiting to help her, to put right whatever 
small difficulty might be vexing her. The irony of it! 

“What’s wrong, sweetheart ?” 

She got it out somehow—the pitiful little story which had 
been buried more than seven years ago of a man and a woman 
‘—a child-woman, hardly out of her teens—and of the sudden 
reckless flare of passionate love between them. Of a runaway 
match and a marriage that was no marriage at all, because 
the man already had a wife, and after a few mad weeks of 
delirious happiness the inevitable bitter ending. 


158 Waves of Destiny 

“His wife refused to divorce him. Instead, she offered to 
take him hack—to forgive him. . . . But for me—for me 
there was no forgiveness.” Cara’s voice broke, then steadied 
again. “So you see, Roger, I can’t marry you. I’m not fit—« 
to hand on the torch.” 

She ceased, and sat with down-bent head and folded hands, 
waiting . . . waiting through the tense silence which fol¬ 
lowed for what must come, the scathing denunciation, the 
scorn . . . the anger of a man who felt himself duped. 

“Why did you tell me, Cara ?” 

That was all. Just that one simple question, very quietly 
uttered. 

With an effort she lifted her eyes to his face. But she 
could not read his expression. 

“Why?” Her hands clasped themselves more tightly 
together. “Because—after I’d been down to Heriot’s Court 
‘—I knew that it was no good. I couldn’t let you marry me. 
Our future would only have been founded upon a sham. I—■ 
I had to play—the straight game.” 

Again the silence fell. It seemed to Cara like a high wall 
closing round her. Roger had moved a little away, and was 
standing in the window embrasure, his back towards her. It 
was symbolical, she reflected dully—Roger, always with his 
face turned away from her, now that he knew—now that he 
knew- 

Suddenly he swung round and, coming over to her side, 
took her in his arms. 

“Belovedest,” he said, his voice a little roughened, “I’m 
so glad—so awfully proud you’ve told me. I hoped you 
would some day. Because, you see, I knew it all before.” 

“You knew it?” 

“Yes, I’ve known all about it ever since we came back to 
England. Dear Aunt Marian was very careful to make sure 
I should. But it doesn’t matter any more. All that matters 
is the straight game. ' Truth and my sword / And you’ve 
played it—magnificently.” 



CHAPTER IX 


THE END OF A RHAPSODY 

1 

T HERE were certain well-defined advantages about 
Brankscombe Building. It was a, tall, gaunt rabbit- 
warren of a place, where you might rent a room from ten 
shillings a week upwards, with electric light on the shilling- 
in-the-slot system, and “find” your own food. You could 
bestow as much, or as little, furniture as you chose between 
the four walls of your room without provoking comment, 
and if at any time—it was generally towards rent-day that 
this was liable to occur—the lump sum of a shilling for 
illumination proved too heavy a drain on the exchequer, you 
could always have recourse to an odd candle-end—either your 
own, or that of your next-door neighbour. 

All sorts and conditions of men and women made their 
home beneath the roof of Brankscombe Building. It was a 
human rookery, and, like rooks, its denizens sped forth in the 
early morning in search of food—or of the work which meant 
food—returning late in the evening. There were no repre¬ 
sentatives of the leisured classes at “Brank’s,” as it was 
familiarly called by its habitues. Erom the little dressmaker 
on the top storey, whose piece de resistance in the furniture 
line consisted of a table surmounted by a sewing-machine, to 
Signor Bellerini, Professor of Vocal Culture, on the ground 
floor—“Lessons given at Pupils’ Own Residence”—the 
occupants of Brank’s earned their bread very much on the 
same principle as did their forefather Adam. 

Geoffrey Heriot rented a room midway between the skyey 
abode of the little dressmaker, and the more expensive 
159 


160 Waves of Destiny 

quarters of the professor of vocal culture, and there, by the 
aid of a piano and the reckless use of quantities of manu¬ 
script music paper, he endeavoured to ascend the hill of fame. 
But that particular hill is sometimes of an almost incredible 
length and steepness, and his thoughts were more often com¬ 
pulsorily concentrated on the prosaic hut absorbing question 
of how to keep body and soul together rather than on the 
heights that awaited his climbing. 

“They’ll have to wait,” he reflected, as he seated himself 
at the piano, and proceeded to play over a little Danse des 
Sylphes of which he had just written the last note. 

The winter dusk had long since fallen and fled again before 
the moon which peered in at the window, and the candle, by 
the light of which he had been writing, guttered and went 
out abruptly in a pool of grease. At the same moment the 
door of his room opened a very little way, and a face thrust 
itself through the opening—a small, white face beneath a 
tangled mop of black hair, with a scarlet line of a mouth, 
and a pair of big, famished-looking black eyes. After peering 
for a minute, the owner of the face effected a kind of wriggle, 
which insinuated her whole person into the room without 
increasing by a single inch the narrow aperture between the 
open door and the wall. She advanced a few steps, and then 
stood motionless as a statue, all her vitality and soul seem¬ 
ingly concentrated in the great black eyes of her, as she stared 
at the maker of the gay, frolicsome music. , Presently a 
tremor passed through her body. She swayed a little from 
the waist, this way and that, her hands and feet moving tenta¬ 
tively to the rhythm. An instant later she began to dance. 

She was unbelievably thin, and her lean little body in its 
short, rusty-black frock swung and swayed on its long black 
legs with the lightness of a wind-blown flower. She looked 
like a shadow dancing across the patch of moonlight on the 
floor. 

With a crash the music ended, and for an instant she stood 


The End of a Rhapsody 161 

poised on one foot, arms outstretched, a wholly angelic smile 
curving her mouth. Then she dropped hack suddenly into a 
normal attitude, and nodded across at the pianist. 

“You make ver’ good music, you, mon vieux ” she re¬ 
marked with condescension. 

Heriot laughed. 

“Thanks, Sara. If you were Madame Marie Lopatka now, 
your approbation might be of some use to me. As it is — 1 
well, my ‘good music’ is worth just that to me!” And he 
tossed six half-crowns on to the table. “That’s precisely all 
my worldly wealth at the present moment. And most of that 
goes bang next rent-day.” * 

She tossed her head, shaking her tangled mop of raven 
hair. 

“Lopatka!” she exclaimed disdainfully. “Lopatka is— 
ver’ good in her way. But me, I shall be better than Lo¬ 
patka.’V 

There was supreme conviction in her voice. 

“Nothing like having a good conceit of yourself, my 
child,” smiled Heriot. 

She stamped her foot, her black eyes blazing. 

“It is not conceit! But no, not at all!” she protested 
vehemently. “I was horn a dancer. Le hon Dieu made me 
one. But le hon Dieu did not make Lopatka a dancer. Oh, 
non, hien sur! It was”—with a chuckle—“the master of the 
Russian ballet did that.” 

The mingled humour and pathos of the thing appealed to 
Heriot. Here was this little half-starved waif—offspring of 
an invalid mother who earned a meagre living by making 
artificial flowers, and of a drunken father whose disappear¬ 
ance, a few months previously, had been the only benefit he 
had ever conferred upon his wife and child—coolly criticis¬ 
ing Lopatka, the famous ballerina! And criticising her to 
some purpose, too. For although Lopatka’s technique was 
beyond praise, it was generally admitted that her interpreta- 


162 Waves of Destiny 

tion missed just that fine poetry of conception which would 
have placed her at the head of the world’s most famous 
dancers. 

“Well, I wish I felt equally sure that Providence intended 
me for a composer,” said Heriot, smiling rather ruefully. 
“Sometimes I feel convinced that Pve mistaken my vocation 
and that I was intended for a bricklayer.” 

“Non!” Again the black curls bobbed up and down as 
Sara shook her head vigorously. “You would not make a 
good bricklayer. Regard me these hands making a dive 
at Heriot’s slender, sensitive-looking hand, as it rested on 
the key-board of the piano, and spreading out the fingers fan- 
wise. “They are for la musique. You will be great one day, 
mon ami. We will be famous together, thou and I. Put 
she added vehemently in French—“I should adore thee the 
same, even wert thou a bricklayer.” 

Bom of mixed French and Russian parentage, there was 
a characteristic depth of intensity in her passionate declara¬ 
tion. Heriot, his eyes resting on the skinny little figure and 
on the small, determined face with its always hungry eyes, 
smiled compassionately. Before her father had betaken 
himself to pastures new, the young composer had more than 
once intervened to save her from the beating which the 
former, in a fit of drunken frenzy, had been hilariously bent 
upon administering to his offspring. Since then, there had 
been occasions—when the artificial flowers had failed to sell, 
and Sara had gone a whole day without food in order that 
the invalid mother upstairs might not suffer—when Heriot 
had shared his frugal supper with the child, and once or 
twice—just after the sale of a manuscript—he had bought 
her a scarlet ribbon for her hair, thus recognising the neces¬ 
sities of both the inner and the outer woman. In return, 
Sara had attached herself to him with a kind of elfin devo¬ 
tion that was rather pathetic. 

“There is only one thing,” she would say thoughtfully— 
almost regretfully, “that I love more than thee, mon Geoffroi 


163 


The End of a Rhapsody 

—and that is to dance. When I dance, I am different, some¬ 
how—no longer femme , tu sais! I feel like a spirit—and 
spirits do not love. C’est comme ga. J} 

2 

“I should like to see her l” 

r As she spoke, Jeanie Heriot pushed aside, with a sigh, 
the illustrated paper containing a full-page portrait of 
Madame Sara Lechitzka, the most famous dancer of the 
day, and pulled towards her a basket filled with socks in 
various stages of disrepair. a What awful holes you make!” 
she added, poking a slender, work-worn finger disgustedly 
through a painfully large gap in the heel of one of them. 
“Now, if you were Lechitzka it might he comprehensible. 
But as it is, I can't imagine how you contrive to wear your 
socks like this!” And she exhibited the hole in question. 

“Tramping round to the various music-publishers, I 
expect,” answered Geoffrey Heriot apologetically. “An 
allowance for 'socks and shoe-leather expended' ought to be 
included in the contract—on the rare occasions* when X get 
one. It's a dog's life I” 

He sighed, and his wife looked across at him with quick 
sympathy. 

“Are things so bad, Geoff ?” she asked. 

“About as bad as they can be. There's a trifie coming in 
from that last song of mine, and I've half a dozen or so 
miserable pianoforte pupils—confound them! 

“And the 'Rhapsody' ?” she questioned eagerly. “Have 
you shown that to any of the publishers yet ? 

He nodded gloomily. 

“The beggars won't look at it—advise me to stick to 
writing ballad-songs and let orchestral work alone. 'No 
opening for it—unless, of course, I could interest some lead¬ 
ing conductor in it .' 99 

“And can’t you?”—wistfully. 


164 Waves of Destiny 

“I’ve about as much chance of interesting the sun and 
moon and stars! No, my dear. Unsuccessful composers, 
living in Polliver Street, don’t get a chance to rub shoulders 
with the gentleman in fine raiment who waves a little white 
stick above a heated orchestra, and instils the fear of God 
into it.” 

Jeanie sighed. When she had first met Geoffrey Heriot, 
two years ago, he had just published a fairly successful song, 
and the ensuing royalties had so tinted the future with rose- 
colour that there had seemed no valid reason why, when love 
came along and tangled both their hearts in the same rain¬ 
bow snare, they should not marry and live happily ever after. 

“Once get a start,” Geoffrey had assured her, “and one 
never looks back.” 

And on the strength of this bold assertion they adventured 
into the sea of matrimony. 

But, unfortunately, Heriot had looked back. In fact, he 
had never done anything else, and it was only by dint of the 
utmost scraping and saving that the little home in Polliver 
Street had been kept going at all. 

Geoffrey was not of the type to “throw off” tuneful little 
pot-boilers. He loathed them from the bottom of his sincere 
musician’s soul, and work that is repugnant rarely proves 
expert—or profitable. So that Heriot’s deliberately con¬ 
cocted jingles failed to keep the pot boiling, and as ill-luck 
would have it, his bigger work, into which he had put the real 
genius which was his, had never yet obtained a hearing. 

It is a lamentable and humiliating truth that, be a boat 
never so truly built and worthy to skim on the crest of the 
waves, it needs some one to give it a, push-off from the shore 
before its qualities become apparent. And Geoffrey Heriot 
had been unable to find a friendly hand to give his frail 
little skiff the requisite start. 

He had had high hopes of the “Rhapsody” to which Jeanie 
referred. The theme had come to him in a moment of 
genuine inspiration, and he had laboured for months, cutting 


165 


The End of a Rhapsody 

and polishing the jewel of his thought. But when it was 
completed, and he took it into the market-place, there was 
none who troubled to look at the work of a man whose name— 1 
if it lingered in the memory at all—was associated with the 
pot-boilers Fate had wrung from his unwilling brain. 

So time had slipped by, and with each succeeding week 
of scraping and paring, and rent-day anxiety, Geoffrey’s 
face had taken on new lines, while Jeanie had laughed a 
little less and grown shadowy-eyed and rather pinched-look- 
ing about the nostrils. But she had never given up hope. 
Jeanie wasn’t that sort, and she had the unshakable belief 
in the man she loved which seems to be the prerogative of 
women. 

“Never mind, Geoffrey, cheer up,” she said, stabbing her 
needle viciously into the heel of a sock. “You’ll get your 
chance some day. I’m sure of it.” 

Heriot’s eyes softened as they rested on the brown head 
bent above the sock. 

“And meanwhile,” he said with forced cheerfulness, “if 
you’re dying to see Lechitzka, you shall. We’ll have two 
bobs’ worth to-night in the gallery, and dream of a time 
to come when it shall be two stalls.” 

3 

“She’s absolutely wonderful!” declared Jeanie with 
enthusiasm, as she set a steaming cup of coffee in front of 
her husband, and poured out another for herself. 

The Heriots had just returned from their “bobs’-worth” 
of Lechitzka, and Jeanie was bubbling over with admiration 
for the Russian’s marvellous dancing. 

“And she gets about five times as much for a single per¬ 
formance as I can make in a year,” submitted Geoffrey, by 
way of a postscript. 

The comparison induced reflection, and they were both 
silent for a moment. Then he continued musingly: 


166 Waves of Destiny 

“It’s a queer world! I knew Lechitzka half a dozen years 
ago, when she was just a hit of a lanky kid with a passion for 
dancing, and without two coppers to rub together.” 

“You knew her?” exclaimed Jeanie incredulously. 

“Yes. She and her mother lived at Brankscombe Build¬ 
ing when I had diggings there. Poor little Sara was often 
half starved, and I’ve shared my ‘sausage and mash’ with 
her many a time. And now—she’s at the top of the ladder, 
while I’m still grubbing about at its foot.” 

Jeanie stared at him, her brown eyes round with astonish¬ 
ment. 

“Pancy your knowing the great Lechitzka,” she said im¬ 
pressively. “Why—why—oh, Geoffrey, she could make 
you! If she would only take your ‘Khapsody’ and put it 
on as a dance, you’d be famous the next day.” 

It was Geoffrey’s turn to stare. 

“I can just see myself suggesting it to her,” he answered 
grimly. 

“But if you were friends years ago ? I don’t see why you 
shouldn’t,” persisted Jeanie. “You did her a good turn 
then. How she can pay it back.” 

“Sounds as simple as the rule of three, doesn’t it?” said 
Geoffrey. He laughed shortly. “Ho, no, Jeanie. When 
people get on in the world they forget the friends of their 
poorer days. Anyway, they don’t want the bill sent in—* 
‘account rendered for good turns received.’ ” 

“Then—then-” said Jeanie dispiritedly, “you won’t 

ask her—or show her the ‘Bhapsody’?” 

“Ho”—with decision. “I can stand being ‘turned down’ 
by the publishers—that’s in the bond—but I’m hanged if I’ll 
put myself in the way of being snubbed by Sara Lechitzka.” 

There was a kind of dogged obstinacy in his tones—a 
bitter, sensitive pride born of manifold rebuffs—and Jeanie 
realised that it would be useless to press the matter any 
further at the moment. But the idea took root in her mind, 
and lingered there quiescent. 



167 


The End of a Rhapsody 

As the months wore on, the Heriots’ financial outlook 
showed no signs of improvement, and when winter drew 
near, bringing in its train increased expenditure in the 
matter of coals and light, affairs assumed a very gloomy 
colouring indeed. Jeanie grew more shadowy-eyed than 
ever, and Geoffrey became irritable and nervy with the per¬ 
petual strain. Then he developed a cough, of which, in his 
state of low vitality, he was powerless to rid himself, and 
when, at length, the time came that he was too physically 
weak to go out and give the music lessons which formed the 
principal source of his income, Jeanie was at her wit’s end 
to know what to do. 

It was then that the idea of approaching the great 
Lechitzka regarding the “Bhapsody” recurred to her like 
a heaven-sent inspiration. 

Warned by Geoffrey’s uncompromising attitude on the 
subject when it had been broached before, she preserved a 
discreet silence about the matter, so that when she announced 
her intention of going out “to see a friend,” he acquiesced 
lethargically and without the least suspicion that any deeper 
project was afoot. 

She had already possessed herself of the MS. of the “Bhap¬ 
sody,” and with her heart heating rather high, she set out 
for the house of the famous Bussian dancer. 

Arrived there, she asked for Madame Lechitzka with much 
outward assurance and still more inward trepidation, the 
latter increasing a hundredfold as a forbidding-looking par¬ 
lourmaid superciliously inquired if she had an appointment. 
Indeed, the course of the Heriots’ lives might have run very 
differently hut for the fact that, while Jeanie was still 
politely wrangling about admission with the dragon at the 
door, Madame Lechitzka herself chanced to descend from 
upstairs. Perhaps it was merely a vague curiosity that made 
her pause, or perhaps it was that she caught a glimpse of 
Jeanie’s eager face with its big, imploring eyes like two 
brown pansies. Whatever it was, the dancer stood still for 


168 Waves of Destiny 

a moment, Hesitating on tHe staircase, and to Jeanie it seemed 
as tHough sHe beheld a beautiful black and white vision a, 
white face gleaming against dusky hair, dark, sombre eyes, 
and the slenderest of figures gowned in diaphanous black. 

With a swift movement, graceful as a cat, Lechitzka came 
across the hall. 

“You wish to see me, is it not so ?” she asked, speaking 
very rapidly and with a strong foreign accent. 

Jeanie gasped. 

“Oh, yes—yes, please!” she stammered nervously. 

Madame Lechitzka smiled and nodded. 

“Bien! I will see you,” she said. And a minute later 
Jeanie found herself alone with the famous dancer in a room 
full of mellow golden tints, amidst which Madame Lechitzka’s 
sable figure struck a curious note of austere simplicity. 

Stumblingly Jeanie poured forth her tale—of her hus¬ 
band’s genius, of their poverty, of how he had struggled 
against continual disappointment until he had broken down 
in health, finally winding up with her petition that Madame 
Lechitzka would hear his “Rhapsody” and produce it. 

At the end of this little recital, the Russian looked at her 
with a glint of humorous amusement in her eyes. 

“And why should I do all this for your husband?” she 
asked dryly. 

Jeanie flushed up to the roots of her hair. 

“Oh! How stupid of me!” she exclaimed. “Of course, 
I didn’t tell you! You—he—you knew each other—years 
ago—at Brankscombe Building.” 

A curious expression passed over the great dancer’s face. 
Her eyes narrowed suddenly. 

“At Brankscombe Building?” she repeated. “What— 
what is your husband’s name?” 

“Heriot—Geoffrey Heriot,” replied Jeanie. Then she 
blurted out quickly: “You—you used to share his ‘sausage 
and mash.’ ” 

Perhaps the reminder could hardly have been described 


169 


The End of a Rhapsody 

as tactful, but the shadow of impending tragedy had swept 
Jeanie’s soul clear of the conventions. And Madame 
Lechitzka did not seem offended. 

“Geoffrey Heriot! The young musician —Vadore de ma 
jeunesse!” she murmured. “And so, thou, little one, thou 
art his wife V 9 

“Yes,” answered Jeanie steadily. “Lm his wife. Oh, 
madame, do help us!” 

The dancer was silent, pacing up and down the room with 
bent head. Jeanie watched the pliant, undulating figure 
with the longing eyes of a child beseeching a favour. 

At last the Kussian raised her head. 

“But—did you not know ?—I have not been dancing lately. 
I am”—she hesitated—“resting a little.” 

“But you will,” replied Jeanie impetuously, “you will 
dance again. Oh, madame, it means all the world to us—to 
Geoffrey and me.” 

Madame Lechitzka looked at her oddly. 

“It means all the world to you—that I dance?” she said 
slowly. “And—perhaps—it means all the world to me 
also.” 

Jeanie stared at her uncomprehendingly. 

“ Ah , you do not understand ?”■—smiling a little. “Well, 
you need not. ... How, for this ‘Bhapsody.’ I will hear 
it. I will send for my pianist and he shall play it over.” 

While the “Bhapsody” was being played Jeanie sat with 
tightly clasped hands, her eyes riveted on the dancer’s face, 
trying vainly to gather from its expression her opinion of the 
composition. But Madame Lechitzka had resumed her 
pacing up and down and her face was impenetrable. There 
was a curious, far-away expression in her sombre eyes. 

When the last note had died into silence, she still did not 
speak for a few moments, and both the pianist and Jeanie 
sat waiting silently in the sunny, golden room, their eyes 
fixed on the slight, black-clad figure that seemed, in some 
inexplicable way, to dominate it. 


170 Waves of Destiny 

The dancer appeared unconscious of their gaze, hut at 
last she turned abruptly towards Jeanie. 

“I will take your husband’s 'Rhapsody/ ” she said quietly, 
"It is very beautiful, and when I have danced to it, it will 
be famous, and others will want his work.” 

The pianist jumped up from the piano. 

“But, madame-” he began protestingly. 

Madame Lechitzka made an arrogant gesture with her 
hand. 

“I have decided,” she said. Then, as the pianist seemed 
still inclined to combat her decision, she added good- 
humouredly: “Tais-toi, mon ami. It is useless to argue with 
a woman—and, above all, with Lechitzka! I have said that 
I will dance to this 'Rhapsody.’ C’est fini, alors!” 

4 

A great theatre, thronged with the huge concourse of 
people who had come to see Lechitzka in her marvellous new 
dance. The music, it was rumoured, was by some unknown 
young man whom the ballerina had “discovered.” He was 
conducting the orchestra himself to-night, and it was evident 
that he would no longer be permitted to hide his light under 
a bushel, for the music and the dancing were blent into so 
exquisite and harmonious a whole that the vast audience 
thrilled responsively to each bar of rhythm. 

All eyes were fixed on the ethereal figure in its cloudy 
draperies that flitted, spirit-like, across the stage, swaying, 
bending, leaping, with outstretched, upraised arms, to the 
fantastic measure of the “Rhapsody.” Gradually the music 
grew wilder, fiercer, and the dancer quickened to a rapturous 
abandon which matched it, the lighting of the stage deepen¬ 
ing from the pale, wintry moonlight which had ushered in 
the dance to the passionate rosy flush of awakening dawn 
and love. At last, with a final rush of chords, the music 
hurried to its climax, and the dancer, her filmy draperies 



The End of a Rhapsody 171 

transmuted into ruddy gold beneath the limelight, stood like 
a slender pillar of flame, poised in an ecstasy, reaching up- 
wards with white arms towards an imagined heaven of 
delight. . . . Then, slowly, inexorably, the curtain fell, 
shutting out the glowing scene and that embodiment of poetry 
which was Lechitzka. 

A great shout burst from the people, and the tumult of 
applause, reverberating through the auditorium, increased 
in volume as the curtain rose in answer to the acclamations. 

But, all at once, the thunderous noise died down like the 
sound of suddenly muted strings, began again hesitantly 
only to cease anew, then trailed off into a dismayed and 
dreadful silence. 

Por on the stage, beneath the brilliant glare of lights, lay 
Lechitzka—a little huddled heap of white, arms helplessly 
out-flung upon the floor, motionless, like a bird that has 
dropped to earth with a broken wing. 

Geoffrey, who had been hurriedly summoned from the 
orchestra, stood on the threshold of the great dancer’s dress¬ 
ing-room. 

Some one—the doctor, he supposed—came quickly outside 
the door and spoke to him. 

“She wishes to see you,” he said in a low voice. “Go in 
to her at once. She can’t last long.” 

“Can’t—last—long?” repeated Geoffrey dazedly. 

Only a quarter of an hour age she had been on the stage— 
the very incarnation of vitality itself! And now, this tall, 
grave-looking man was saying something ridiculous about 
her “not lasting long,” as one might speak of some one who 
lay dying. 

“I am Madame Lechitzka’s medical attendant,” continued 
the doctor very quietly. “I was here in case—of anything 
like this occurring. ... It was madness her appearing to¬ 
night. Perhaps”—looking keenly at the young musician— 
“perhaps you did not know that Madame Lechitzka’s heart 
was in a bad state ?” 


172 Waves of Destiny 

“I ? HSTo ? I knew nothing,” stammered Geoffrey. 

“She had been forbidden to dance again—at least, for a 
year or two. Perhaps, then , . . But now she will dance 
no more.” 

He stood aside, and with a slight gesture, invited Geoffrey 
to enter the room. 

Lechitzka was lying on a conch, limp and supine, with 
closed eyes, all the wonderful energy gone out of her supple 
limbs. There was a curious resemblance in the drawn, 
pinched face, its lips rimmed with faint, blue shadow, to the 
half-starved little dancing-girl of Brankscombe Building. 

Geoffrey knelt down beside the couch. 

“Sara!” he whispered pitifully. “Little Sara!” 

Slowly the closed lids lifted, and the big black eyes— 
hungry-looking as of old and with the same odd glint of irony 
in their depths—stared up at him. 

“Ah, Geoffrey, c’est toi , alors!” The white lips smiled as 
the whispering thread of voice crept between them. 

“Oh, Sara, why did you do it ?” he groaned. 

“I did it for thee, mon Geoffroi , for the sake of the old 
days. Thy ‘sausage and mash’ that we shared— fen souviens- 
iu?” The smile travelled to her eyes and lingered there. 
“Did I not tell thee, mon ami, that we would be famous to¬ 
gether—thou and I?” 

“But not at this cost,” he muttered huskily. 

“It is not so great as you think,” she began, then sank 
back feebly, whilst the doctor, standing watchful in the back¬ 
ground, hurried forward and held some stimulant to her lips. 
In a minute or two she revived. 

“I should never have danced again, Geoffrey,” she went 
on. “It doesn’t matter what the doctors say. Me, I know 
it! And—after my dancing—it was thee alone that I loved.” 
She panted a little, while the blue shade deepened round her 
lips. “It is une petite affaire du cceur in more senses than 
one,” she added with a flash of her old indomitable gaiety. 
“Ah! Smile then, mon ami! Por is it not of a truth well 


173 


The End of a Rhapsody 

done? Of the two things I loved best in life, the one has 
ministered to the other. Bien sur! When she has two loves, 
a woman’s heart, may well suffer!” A whimsical little smile 
flitted across her lips as she jested her way to Death’s 
threshold. 

“So thou hast no need to grieve, mon Geoffroi ” went on. 
the faint voice. “I have lived—and now I die—just as I 
would have wished—for my dancing, and for thee. Thou 
and the little Jeanne, thy wife, will he happy together.” 

She ceased and lay back with closed eyes, whilst the silence 
grew and deepened in the room. The doctor drew nearer 
and stooped over her; then, shaking his head, stepped back 
to his place, recognising that his work was done. 

Presently Lechitzka opened her eyes again. 

“Kiss me, Geoffroi ” she whispered. 

Very quietly, for the first and last time, he kissed her. 

Once more, silence. 

Then, very faintly from the couch, came the insouciant, 
rallying voice: 

“Au revoir , mon vieux ” 

And the silence closed down again, unbroken. . . . 


CHAPTER X 

OXiD SINS 

1 

T HE flaring lights of the big London terminus bit into 
the dnsk of the afternoon, while beyond the circle of 
their radiance, where the great arch of glass roof ended in a 
sharp, curved line against the leaden sky, the muffled silence 
of a snow-bound world hung like an impenetrable curtain. 

IJp country a heavy fall of snow had added to the usual 
congestion of traffic which prevails at Christmas time, but 
at last, more than three hours late, the northern express 
roared its way into the station. As it clanked ponderously 
to a standstill a sudden stir of life and movement rippled 
through the scattered figures grouped upon the platform. 
Porters sprang nimbly towards the opening carriage doors, 
and people who had been waiting patiently to welcome 
travellers from the north hurried forward in eager search of 
them. 

Conveying a little suggestion of remoteness from the 
bustling crowd, a slender woman stepped leisurely down 
from a first-class carriage and glanced interrogatively about 
her, as though she half expected some one might be there to 
meet her. Then, apparently disappointed in this, she hailed 
a porter. Her quiet gesture met with immediate response. 
Blind to other gesticulating passengers vainly bidding for 
his attention, a porter hurried to her side, shrewdly gauging, 
from her expensive-looking furs and general air of serene 
detachment, the probable value of the tip he might expect. 

She accepted his ready services just as she accepted all the 
other simplifications of life which came her way; with the 
■ assured composure of use and habit, and proceeded to make 

174 


Old Sins 175 

her way out of the station to where a closed car waited by 
the kerb. 

“I suppose your master has been detained, Jenner ?” She 
addressed a manservant who had opened the door at her 
approach and who now stood respectfully in attendance, rug 
in hand. 

“Yes, madam. A telephone message came through to say 
he would be unable to meet you.” 

She nodded, as though the answer were what she had 
expected, and stepped into the car, and a minute later it 
was sheering smoothly through the snow and slush of the 
t lamp-lit streets. 

The woman inside loosened her coat and, leaning back 
somewhat wearily against the cushions, closed her eyes. A 
single electric bulb lit the car’s interior, pulsing with each 
inequality of the road’s surface, and its fretful light revealed 
her, slim and graceful, beneath the shrouding of the furs 
she wore, with a thin, fine-cut face below a sweep of bronze- 
gold hair. It was an arresting face, with a rather charming 
air of fragility about it, as though time and circumstance 
had taken reluctant toll of youth’s fresh young beauty. The 
white, closed lids seemed to guard some secret. 

Suddenly the car swerved violently, and the chauffeur 
crammed on his brakes just in time to avoid collision with a 
skidding lorry. The woman sat up swiftly, opening startled 
eyes—wide, golden-brown eyes which held both the simple 
candour of a child and the mysterious reticence of a woman 
^—a woman who at some time or other has been hurt to the 
core of her. 

Then, as the traffic steadied and the car bore smoothly 
onward, her tautened muscles relaxed and she sank back once 
more into her corner. But she did not close her eyes again. 
The sudden, brief alarm seemed to have roused her effec¬ 
tually, and presently, searching in the handbag she carried, 
she brought out a letter and glanced eagerly down its closely- 
written pages. Her eyes lingered on its last paragraph. 


176 Waves of Destiny 

I have some news for you concerning Nannette. She is 
engaged — or, at least, she will be, 'provided I give my sanc¬ 
tion when the favoured swain presents himself for inspec¬ 
tion, As a father, I feel glad and proud and sorry all at 
once . As your husband, dear, I can feel only gladness. 

Kester . 

Pamela Grant folded np the letter and replaced it in its 
envelope; then, her slim hands lying idly on her knee, 
surrendered herself to the train of thought it conjured 
up. 

So Nannette was engaged—or likely to he! Nannette, her 
stepdaughter, the charming hut somewhat difficult girl who 
had been a thorn in her side throughout the few brief years 
of her married life. She could scarcely realise that here at 
last might he a promised end to the continuous friction which 
seemed to have become an integral part of her existence—the 
jar and fret which is the inevitable result when two people 
of hostile temperament and conflicting outlook are doomed to 
live under the same roof. 

When Pamela Trafford had married Kester Grant, K.C., 
a man nearly five-and-twenty years her senior and rapidly 
acquiring a reputation as the most merciless cross-examiner 
at the Bar, her friends had been unanimous in voicing their 
disapproval. It was shackling a butterfly to an iron 
stanchion, they declared, and predicted swift disaster. 

But the four years which had followed had refuted their 
gloomy prophecies. Behind the curt, clipped reticence which 
characterised her husband, Pamela had discovered a delicacy 
of insight and breadth of understanding which had gone far 
to still the first faint doubts with which she had entered 
upon her marriage. 

There had been many difficulties to contend with, & 
triangular relationship invariably constitutes a somewhat 
complicated problem, but Grant had seemed to understand 
better than many men might have done, the clash of tempera- 


Old Sins 


177 

ment between his wife and daughter, and his level judgment 
and wide sympathy had contrived to hold the balance even 
between the two women he loved, whose differences were 
intrinsically rooted in their individual love for him. 

There had been moments when Pamela, goaded almost to 
the limit of endurance by Hannette’s quiet, covert opposition, 
had been tempted to beg her husband to send the girl away 
from home. Only the knowledge of Grant’s deep affection 
for his daughter had restrained her. 

And now it seemed as though, without any effort of hers, 
in the most natural way in the world, this incessant conflict 
was to come to an end. With the likelihood of Hannette’s 
marriage and departure to a home of her own, Pamela’s 
whole life took on a new aspect. The future stretched before 
her full of unalloyed happiness, and when the car pulled up 
at the tall grey house in Berkeley Square, she was conscious, 
as her glance swept it, of an uprush of new feeling towards 
it. Some day, before very long now, this would be her home 
and Hester’s. Theirs only. Por a tremulous moment she 
felt as a bride may feel on the threshold of her new home-— 
captured that thrilling sense of glorious possession of which 
she had been robbed four years ago. 

She ran eagerly up the flight of steps and, when the door 
swung open, hurried with almost dancing feet across the hall 
to her husband’s study. At the sound of her entrance he 
rose from a desk crowded with papers. The husband had 
not yet swamped the lover in Hester Grant, and there was a 
still passion in the close hold of his arms about her slender 
body that set her heart racing with a queer, breathless glad¬ 
ness. There was something so sure and splendid about love 
like Hester’s. 

“I was sorry I couldn’t meet you,” he said presently, as 
he helped her out of her coat. “I knew”—a whimsical smile 
tilting his clever mouth—“that you’d be aching to hear 
everything.” 

“Of course I am. Hester, who is the man? Do you 


178 


Waves of Destiny 

approve? Wretch!”—shaking him gently—“you gave me 
no details!” 

“Because I’d none to give. I don’t even know his name. 
Hannette refers to him with blissful ambiguity as 
‘Steve’-” 

“How like her!”—smiling.. 

“And assures me that I’m certain to like him. Apparently 
he is one of the Appleton house-party and has been a fellow- 
guest there during the greater part of Hannette’s visit.” 

Pamela nodded. 

“So that’s how it happened? Go on—tell me the rest.” 

Grant laughed outright—that quick, unexpected laugh of 
his which lightened his lean, grave face so extraordinarily., 

“I can’t go on any further. I’m at the end of the ‘in¬ 
formation received.’ It seems that Hannette and this ‘Steve,’ 
whoever he may he, propose to travel hack to town together 
to-morrow, and Hannette has fixed up for him to dine here 
the same evening. So I’m afraid you must possess your soul 
in patience until then.” 

2 

Pamela came slowly down the stairs. Her heart was heat¬ 
ing rather quickly and at the foot of the staircase she paused, 
trying to steady herself a hit. 

So much—so much depended on this evening! Prom 
behind the closed door to her right came a murmur of voices 
-—Hester’s, and that of the man who held not only Hannette’s 
happiness, hut her own, in his hands. Once the murmur 
broke in a brief sound of laughter. It was all right then—• 
everything was going smoothly! Hester must like the man. 
With a quick, nervous gesture Pamela’s fingers closed over 
the handle of the door and turned it. 

As she entered the room the two figures standing by the 
fire swung round towards her. Pamela caught a glimpse of 
her husband’s face, smiling reassuringly, a little humorous 


.Old Sins 179 

twinkle in his eyes. Then her glance flashed past him and 
rested on the man beside him—a tall, fair man with curiously 
brilliant grey eyes beneath opaque white lids and a long¬ 
lipped, mobile mouth that might lie or kiss a woman’s soul 
away with equal facility. 

As Pamela met the gaze of those grey eyes her breath 
caught suddenly in her throat. A mist seemed to gather in 
front of her, blurring the familiar room and everything in 
it, and she stretched out a frightened, groping hand. 
Instantly, as though she had offered it in greeting, she felt it 
clasped and held, while Hester’s voice, seeming to come 
from a great way off, said pleasantly: 

“This is Stephen Cairn, my dear.” 

With the utterance of the commonplace little speech the 
sense of normality returned to her. The mist rolled away 
and she found herself shaking hands with Cairn—for it was 
he who had grasped her outstretched hand a moment earlier, 
thus covering the helpless, stricken appeal of the unconscious 
gesture. 

“Mrs. Grant and I have met before,” he said easily. 

“Indeed ?” Hester’s voice evinced just the ordinary interest 
which the statement might be expected to arouse. 

Pamela’s face was a blank mask. Her lips twitched but no 
words came, and Cairn continued quickly: 

“Yes. It was at the beginning of the war. It must be 
close on six years ago now, so it isn’t very surprising”—with 
ready tact—“if Mrs. Grant has forgotten me.” 

Suddenly Pamela seemed galvanised into speech. It was 
as though some one had pulled the strings of a marionette. 

“Why, of course,” she said jerkily. “I remember now! 
But—but you were Godfrey Cairn in those days, not 
Stephen.” 

“I’m still Godfrey to most people. But Hannette”— 
smiling—“expresses a pronounced preference for my second 
name.” 

“I should think I do!” Hannette, boyishly slender, with 


180 Waves of Destiny 

sleek hair and attenuated frock revealing almost perfect 
ankles, swished into the room and joined the group round 
the hearth. “I should think I do!” she repeated with 
emphasis. “I hate the name Godfrey.. It’s odious.” 

Pamela nodded slowly. 

“Yes. I think I hate it, too.” 

Then they went in to dinner and during the brief passage 
to the dining-room Pamela’s shrinking hand rested on Cairn’s 
arm like a white, unwilling flower. 

Somehow, with that desperate back-to-the-wall courage of 
woman, she continued to play her part of hostess throughout 
the meal which followed so that no one could have guessed 
that with the appearance of Godfrey Cairn the bottom had 
fallen suddenly out of her world. 

Godfrey Cairn! As Pamela watched him sitting quietly 
at her table, deferring to her husband with the ready courtesy 
of a younger to an elder man, an unobtrusive caress in his 
manner to JSTannette, her thoughts turned painfully back¬ 
ward, back to the time when this same man had marched 
straight into her life and taken possession of it, blotting out 
the need for any one or any thing else. 

It had all happened in the early days of the war when 
men and women/ rocked by the great tragedy that had rushed 
upon the world, were caught up by sudden, primal emotions 
and swept headlong through the broken walls of civilisation 
into a welter of instinctive human needs, snatching hungrily 
at life’s pleasures lest death should frustrate them. 

She and Godfrey had known each other barely a week, 
but it seemed to her as though they must have cared for one 
another from the first moment of meeting. And then, before 
there had been any talk of marriage, he was ordered suddenly 
to the Front. She could see him now, coming towards her 
with the telegram still crumpled in his hand, his face very 
white and in his eyes an aching, stark demand which she 
sensed even before his stumbling utterance had given it 
words. 


Old Sins 181 

“You’ll come, Pam?” lie said, holding her very close and 
speaking with a tense, breathless urgency that shook her very 
heart. “You’ll come? We’ve just twenty-four hours to he 
alive and love in. After that, it may he the end of the world 
for me. And I can’t go with nothing—nothing to remember. 
. . . You’re my woman, my mate. Marriage couldn’t make 
us any more each other’s than we are, though we’ll he mar¬ 
ried the minute I get back—my first leave. But”—grimly— 
“in case I never get a first leave-” 

To Pamela it seemed as if those eight words left her no 
choice. Could she send him from her, let him go out into 
that bleak Beyond, robbed of love’s consummation, just be¬ 
cause she was trammelled by the swathings of convention—* 
because she was afraid to give ? 

Crushed in his arms, with his eager lips pouring out his 
need while those dangerous grey eyes of his pleaded for him, 
she was too much a woman, with a woman’s passion for self- 
sacrifice, to deny him. 

So Cairn had his twenty-four hours to live and love in, and 
when he got his first leave—which, owing to circumstances, 
did not occur for some considerable time—it so happened 
that on his very first night in England a friend introduced 
him to a fluffy little girl with ash-blonde hair and appealing 
blue eyes, who danced like a bit of thistledown and who had 
acquired, from an extensive experience of khaki on leave, 
expert knowledge regarding the shortest route to a man’s 
heart. Cairn married her by special licence four days before 
he returned to the Front. 

In due course Pamela heard of the marriage, and she 
knew, then, that what had been for her a love so wonderful 
that no sacrifice was too great to lay upon its altar had been 
to Godfrey Cairn nothing more than a passing incident. 
That gift of herself which the near hazard of death had 
seemed to sanctify was suddenly and horribly converted into 
a sordid little episode the very memory of which scorched her 
like a flame. 



182 Waves of Destiny 

She endured her hell with a courage that refused to break. 
Work still remained, and for a time she worked so hard 
that mental agony was deadened by the sheer bodily fatigue of 
each day’s labour. Then Hester Grant had come into her 
life, and gradually, at first distrustful that fate could still 
have any good gift in store for her, she had learned to find 
peace and happiness in the shelter of his love. 

And now the grim, age-old irony of the gods had mani¬ 
fested itself anew. That Cairn, out of all the millions of 
men there were in the world, should be the one to seek her 
husband’s consent to his marriage with Hannette! 


Pamela never quite knew how she got through the eve¬ 
ning. She was conscious all the time that she was merely 
waiting for the inevitable climax—for the moment when 
Hester would turn to her and ask her what she thought of 
Godfrey Cairn. 

It came, as she had known it must, when the house door 
had closed behind Cairn, and when Hannette had reluctantly, 
with interrogation visible in her eyes, bidden her father good 
night and gone upstairs to bed, 

“Well, Pamela mine, what do you think of him? Hot at. 
all a bad chap, I should say.” 

Pamela was silent, and her husband resumed cheerfully: 

“He’s all right both as regards family and finances. The 
only thing against him, to my mind, is the fact that he’s a 
widower—and Hannette is so young.” 

A widower! So the little fluffy-haired girl was dead! 
With a vague sort of pity Pamela wondered if she had died 
in ignorance—before her belief in her husband had been 
killed. She hoped so. 

But—a widower! A widower twice over, surely! She 
strangled the laugh in her throat. She felt that if once it 
reached her lips she would never be able to stop laughing. 

“Yes. It’s a pity he is a widower,” she agreed fiatly. 


Old Sins 183 

.Again she felt her throat swell uncontrollably, and again she 
forced back the rising hysteria, clenching her hands in the 
effort to keep her hold over herself and to focus her attention 
on what Kester was saying. 

“Still, the main point is the man himself—what’s he like. 
I’m quite satisfied concerning his material status and so on. 
But you women have a kind of sixth sense in sizing up a 
man s character. Give me your opinion of Cairn and I shall 
go nap on it. Is he the right sort of man for me to give my 
little girl to ?” 

Pamela stared at him dumhly. Slowly the whole horror 
of the situation gripped her. Kester, with his belief in 
woman’s instinct, would infallibly be guided by her answer! 
Actually, the decision as to whether Cairn was to be accepted 
as Kannette’s future husband or not, rested with her! 

What was she to do ? What answer could she make ? If 
she gave her vote in Cairn’s favour, then she was deliberately 
handing her husband’s adored young daughter over to the 
care of a man whom she knew to be utterly devoid of loyalty 
and honour—to whom a woman’s love would never be any¬ 
thing more than a toy to be mercilessly thrown aside, when 
he was tired of it, in favour of a newer toy. And if she 
negatived the man as a possible husband for Kannette, then, 
notwithstanding his confidence in feminine intuition, she 
knew that Kester would inevitably seek to know the reasons 
which had influenced her decision, would probe and question 
with that searching, trained ingenuity of his until her feeble 
parryings and defence were broken down and the whole of 
her bitter secret laid bare before him. 

If that happened she might as well be dead. She would 
have destroyed her own happiness, slain the one thing in the 
whole world that mattered—Kester’s love for her. 

“I—I don’t know what to say,” she began, “I must 
think-” 

She broke off, swaying unsteadily, her face grown sud¬ 
denly grey. Kester’s arm reached out supportingly and 


,184 Waves of Destiny 

dimly she could see his kind, concerned eyes looking down at 
her. 

“Pm-—Pm rather overtired, I think,” she said, recovering 
herself a little. 

“I oughtn’t to have bothered you.” He spoke remorse¬ 
fully. “You shall go to bed now and tell me what you think 
of Nannette’s young man in the morning. It’ll be Christ¬ 
mas Eve, too!”—smiling. “So we’ll be able to give the kiddy 
our blessing and consent among her Christmas presents,” 

3 

Pamela went to bed to toss and turn hour after hour in an 
agony of mental conflict. Must she do this thing? She 
need only hold her tongue, let her husband believe she ap¬ 
proved Hannette’s choice, and her happiness was assured— 
with the added joy of release from the perpetual strain of 
Hannette’s presence in her home. She dreaded the dawn. 
She knew that Hester would in all probability reopen the 
subject at breakfast—and she would still be no nearer a 
decision. 

Morning came at last, and with it a few hours’ reprieve. 
Her maid brought her a hastily scribbled note from her 
husband: 

Just had a ’phone message, darling. 'An old school 
chum in trouble, so I must run down and see him. But I 
shall be bach in time for dinner. Will you ring up Cairn 
— he’s stopping at the Bitz—and ash him to dine to - 
morrow f Nannette shall have her happy Christmas —* 
unless that “sixth sense” of yours forbids! 

Pamela’s eyes riveted themselves upon the letter. All at 
once she saw a way out. Cairn himself must save her from 
the hideous position into which she had been forced. He 
owed her that much. 

She summoned her maid. # 


Old Sins 


185. 

“Ring up Mr. Cairn at the Ritz—Mr. Godfrey Cairn— 
and say we shall he glad to see him here this afternoon.” 

She thought the informality of the appointment would 
serve to reassure him, allaying any possible suspicions he 
might have that the invitation held an ulterior significance, 
although she realised that she was condemning herself to 
hours of suspense. She would have liked to bid him come at 
once! 

hTannette was safely out of the way when he came, ful¬ 
filling some final Christmas shopping errands which her 
stepmother had devised for the purpose, and Pamela received 
him alone, secure from interruption. In a few breathless, 
uneven words she told him what he must do, and why. He 
laughed. 

“Give up Hannette? Is that what you are asking me 
to do?” 

“Yes, yes!” She clasped her hands tensely.. “You can’t 
refuse. Godfrey, you can’t refuse!” 

He shook his head. 

“But I can, and I most certainly do refuse. Why should 
I give her up—jilt her, in fact?” 

“You know why!” With an effort—“You’re not fit to 
marry her!” 

His eyes narrowed cruelly. 

“Surely as fit—as you were to marry her father ?” 

The essential truth of the words was like the cut of a lash 
across bare flesh. She shrank back, staring at him with the 
eyes of a hunted thing. 

“Godfrey-” Her voice choked. 

But he remained quite unmoved. The headlong passion 
he had once felt for her was dead—and there is nothing less 
pitiful than a dead passion. 

“I don’t think,” he said with a slow smile, “that you are 
precisely in the position to explain to Grant why you don’t 
consider I’m an appropriate husband for his daughter. Do 
you ?” 



186 Waves of Destiny 

“I can’t let you marry her, Godfrey—I can’t!” 

“I’m very much afraid you’ll have to, my dear girl. 1 
haven’t the faintest intention of jilting her to order, I can 
assure you. And my candid advice to you is to let sleeping 
dos?s lie.” 

“Is that your last word, Godfrey? Oh!” desperately. 
“Won’t anything move you?” 

“Nothing.” . , . . t . 

He turned to go. The door closed quietly upon his retreat¬ 
ing figure and Pamela stood staring dumbly at its blank grey 
panels. They seemed to scream a negative at her—“Noth¬ 
ing! Nothing!” 

On a sudden crazy impulse to beseech him yet once again 
she fiew at the door and tore it open, then peered out, listen¬ 
ing. The murmurous quiet of the house drifted up to her 
unbroken. Then from far below came the muffled clang of 
the house door as it closed. 

Pamela’s hand, convulsively gripping the framework of 
the doorway, dropped away and fell limply to her side. 
Cairn had gone, and with him her last chance of escape from 
that sin of long ago. She realised that she must make con¬ 
fession—tell Kester the whole wretched story. There was 
no alternative. 

In her inmost soul she thought she had really known 
this all along, only she had tried to shut her eyes to the fact 

__fought hard to believe that, if Godfrey failed her, she 

could still take refuge in silence and stand aside while ISTan- 
nette set her feet on that path of disillusionment which any 
woman who gave her life into Cairn’s keeping must event- 
ually tread. 

She knew now that she couldn’t do it. Whatever the cost 
to herself, even though all the years of happiness would 
come crashing down in utter, irretrievable ruin, she must 
tell Kester the truth. 

The remainder of the day dragged slowly and painfully 


Old Sins 187 

away. r X telegram came from Grant saying that he would 
not reach home till late in the evening. Hannette ’phoned 
through to announce that she was dining with friends. 
Pamela passed the dreary hours in utter solitude. 

Outside, she knew, the streets were filled with hurrying 
crowds of Christmas shoppers, laden with parcels that spelt 
happiness, transformed from their ordinary workaday selves 
by that subtle Christmas spirit which seems to evoke some¬ 
thing of hope and happiness even in the hearts of the most 
toil-worn and weary. 

Only for Pamela there was nothing left to hope for. She 
knew, though fifty Christmases might come and go, for her 
no one of them would ever again bring a message of happi¬ 
ness. 

She made the merest pretence at eating dinner, and after¬ 
wards drew her chair close to the fire and sat waiting for 
Hester’s return. How and then she shivered, in spite of the 
fire’s cheery warmth, and once, when some street singers 
stopped outside the house, she thrust her fingers into her ears 
to shut away the sound of the familiar carols, nerves scraped 
raw by the memory of other, happier Christmastides. 

Ten o’clock! Eleven! The hours, long enough to hold 
illimitable pain, yet seemed to race. The strike of the clock 
in the corner of the room sounded like the tolling of a bell, 
each stroke dreadfully inevitable and bearing her another 
instant nearer to the end of everything in life that mattered. 

Presently a door opened and closed again downstairs. 
Then followed a brief murmur of voices and, a moment later, 
steps—rapid, mounting steps. Hester had returned! 
Pamela found herself gripping the arms of her chair with 
straining hands. 

“Hello, darling!” Grant came in and crossed the room 
to her side with the familiar eager tenderness in his greeting. 
“You got my note all right? Have you asked Cairn for to¬ 
morrow ?” 


188 Waves of Destiny 

Pamela’s heart gave a single agonising throb. Then she 
took up her cue with the deliberate precision of an actor on 

the stage. , , , . ~ r 

“No,” she said quietly. “I’ve not asked him. Nannette 

can’t marry him.” 

“Can’t marry him ? Pamela, what do you mean ? 1 nen, 
with swift conviction: “You know something against the 
mal1 *” 

She nodded voicelessly. Her lips felt stiff, as though they 
would not shape the words she sought. When at last she 
spoke, it was in a harsh, strained voice that seemed to rake 
her throat as it came. 

Somehow she got it out—the whole miserable story of that 
snatched twenty-four hours which she and Godfrey Cairn 
had shared together. She offered no excuse, attempted no 
palliation. Beneath her husband's searchingly grave eyes 
she felt that excuse was futile. 

“How you know—why Hannette can't marry him!” 

He made no answer, but stood gazing at her almost 
wonder ingly. The room seemed filled with a dumb, hopeless 
silence. She could feel it beating up against her—stifling, 
crushing her. She turned and stumbled blindly towards the 
door. 

“I'll go . . . I'll go . , she whispered. 

Then suddenly he was by her side, his arms holding her 
with a fierceness of possession that took her breath. 

“My woman—my brave woman!” 

She felt his lips on hers, and yielded unresistingly. She 
would have just this one moment to remember—to carry with 
her for the rest of her life! 

Presently she tried to push him from her. 

“But you haven't understood—you haven't under¬ 
stood-” 

“Haven't I ? I think I have.” 

“You can't want me now, Hester—-now that you know.” 

He laughed gently. 


Old Sins 


189 

“Not want you—now I know you’re a hundred times finer 
and pluckier than I’d thought any woman in the world could 
be? Oh, my dear, if I could only show you how much I 
want you! If you weren’t my wife”—the whimsical, kind 
eyes smiled down at her—“we’d go and get married to¬ 
morrow!” 

The clock in the corner struck the hour—twelve slow 
strokes, and, as the last one quivered into silence, from the 
street below rose the fluting sound of a boy’s voice, sweet and 
clear and high. 

Pamela, her hand in Hester’s, moved over to the window 
and threw it open. The boyish voice, carolling in the dawn 
of Christmas Day, seemed to hold a message of hope and 
understanding and forgiveness. 


CHAPTER XI 


THE LETTERS OF ROSEMARY 
1 

T HE moon, peeping up over the brown rim of the hill, 
saw them quite plainly. They were standing in the 
lane, hardly more than boy and girl, and the evening breeze 
wafted the scent of summer roses all about them. 

The two young faces, peering at each other through the 
moon-washed dusk, were wrung with the pain of parting 
a hard pain and a bitter for youth to bear, because so new 
and unaccustomed. 

“Timothy, I don’t know how I shall endure it after you’re 
gone!” exclaimed the girl, laying her hands on his shoulders 
and looking up with wet eyes. “If only Dad would let us 
;write sometimes, it—it wouldn’t be quite so hard.” 

He nodded. 

“Yes, it’s a bit rough, Mollie sweetheart, but you’ll know 
I shall be thinking of you all the time.” 

She gave a little broken laugh. 

“You musn’t do that—or you’ll never make your fortune, 
Tim. You’ll have to keep all your thoughts for the wonder¬ 
ful tales and novels you’re going to write. Oh, Tim, how 
splendid it will be when you come back, a famous author, and 
march up to Dad and say: 'How I’m going to marry your 
daughter.’ He won’t order you out of the house then, be- 
cause—poor old Dad!—he loves people who are very rich, or 
very titled, or very famous—they must be superlatively 
something.” 

“Otherwise they’re not good enough to marry Miss Mollie 
Mainwaring, eh?”—laughing rather ruefully. “Sir Robert 
certainly ordered me off with the utmost alacrity when I 
190 


The Letters of Rosemary 191 

mentioned my ideas about matrimony—but then I’m only 
superlatively poor.” J 

“You won’t always be poor, though”—and she rubbed her 
cheek comfortingly against the rough tweed of his shoulder. 
“And I shall wait for you, Tim.” 

.He caught her by the arms and stared down into her face 
with eager, insistent eyes. 

“Will you, Mollie ? Swear that you will,” he commanded 
fiercely. 

“I swear it, Tim. And if by the time I’m twenty-one— 
that’s in four years—you’re not rich enough or famous 
enough to please Had why, I’ll run away with you. And 
he can cut us oif with a shilling if he likes.” 

“He would, too!” replied Timothy grimly. 

A. footstep sounded a little distance up the lane, and Mollie 
looked over her shoulder fearfully. 

“What’s that, Tim? I musn’t let Dad find me out here 
with you.” 

“Don’t be frightened, sweetheart; it’s only some one pass- 
ing up the lane.” 

But the sound had shaken her courage. 

“I had better go,” she said nervously. “Oh, Timothy-” 

She faltered, stretching out her arms despairingly. 

He caught her to him, kissing her in rough misery, 

“Good-bye, my darling. Mollie, Mollie, God bless you!” 

Tearing himself from her clinging hands, he turned, squar¬ 
ing his shoulders as he went, and marched into the summer 
dusk—marched away to make his bid for fortune. 

A few minutes later, Sir Robert Mainwaring came upon 
his daughter, strolling idly by the river that ran through the 
garden. 

“What are you mooning about here for?” he demanded 
irascibly. “Sentimentalising over that young fool I sent 
about his business, I suppose ? Come into the house; I want 
to talk to you.” 

With outward meekness Mollie followed her irate parent 


192 Waves of Destiny 

into the gloomy purlieus of the library, his own particular 
sanctum, and, seating herself in an enormous arm-chair which 
nearly engulfed her slim person, prepared to do battle. 

Sir Robert established himself in a commanding position 
on the hearthrug—the library hearthrug at Mainwaring Park 
was almost as sacrosanct as Queen Victoria’s—and proceeded 
to lay down the law to his offspring. 

“You quite understand, Mollie, that there’s to be an end 
of this silly nonsense about young Gale. He’s no match for 
my daughter”—arrogantly—“and I forbid you to have any¬ 
thing more to do with him—anything whatsoever.” 

Mollie’s small chin was as obstinate as a pretty chin can 
be; in fact, it was a miniature edition de luxe of Sir Robert’s 
own. 

“I shall marry Timothy as soon as ever he’s made his for¬ 
tune,” she replied. “You won’t be able to object then.” 

“Pooh! Made his fortune! He isn’t going to do that by 
quill-driving, so you needn’t hope for it.” 

“I do hope for it,” retorted Mollie determinedly. “And 
not only that, but I’m quite sure he will* Timothy’s a 
genius,” she added conclusively. 

“Genius? Fiddlesticks!” Sir Robert snorted contempt¬ 
uously. “A bank balance is what’s wanted in a husband, not 
genius. Some day you’ll have ten thousand a year of your 
own. Ten thousand a year,” he repeated comfortably, “and 
when a man comes along who can bring ten thousand to meet 
it and a name as good as your own—that’s the man I shall 
choose for your husband. By that time”—sarcastically— 
“Timothy Gale’s ‘genius’ may be bringing him in an income 
of two hundred a year. It wouldn’t surprise me.” 

2 

“Refuse those and accept these, and bring me the business 
letters for signature after lunch.” 

Timothy Gale dismissed his secretary and sat down to a 


The Letters of Rosemary 193 

table littered with manuscript. A bundle of galley proofs 
caught his eye. 

“Wait a moment, Carter.” The secretary paused on his 
way to the door. “There are those proofs of 'The Way of a 
Dream'—you'd better put them through to-day. Machim 
& Co. are in a deuce of a hurry for them.'' 

The door closed quietly behind the secretary, and once 
more Timothy turned to the heap of manuscript that lay on 
the table before him. 

He turned the sheets idly, his thoughts a-wander. 

“ 'The Way of a Dream,'" he muttered. '' 'The Way 
of a Dream'—very much the way of happiness, I think, 
vanishing just as you think you're going to grasp it. And 
you who swore you would wait for me, Mollie!'' he added. 

He sighed lightly, shrugging his shoulders. For, after 
all, ten years had passed since he and Mollie had taken their 
passionate young farewell of each other in the moonlight;— 
ten busy, strenuous years which had converted the unknown 
Timothy Gale into the popular novelist whose work, under 
the pen-name of “Marvin Leigh,'' could hardly be turned 
out fast enough to please the publishers and the public. J 

Timothy had made his fortune, but apparently Mollie 1 
hadn't waited for him. He had written to her several times* 
at the end of the first three years, when his future was be¬ 
ginning to show a rosy promise, but he had received no reply,, 
and finally, a letter which he wrote a year later, begging for 
an answer, was returned to him by the G.P.O. with “Hot 
known'' scrawled across the envelope. ,< 

He had instituted inquiries, but all he had been able to 
ascertain was that Sir Robert Mainwaring was dead, that 
his property had been sold, and that his daughter had gone 
away, leaving no address, and it was believed that she had 
married. There the trail had ended, and for a time Timothy 
was badly hurt. Then the sting of the knowledge that Mollie 
had not waited, but had married some one else without ever 
a word to him, neglecting even to answer his letters, whipped 


194 Waves of Destiny 

him into a more normal, if somewhat embittered, frame of 
zmind, and gradually, immersed in his work and with his 
time very fully occupied, his recollection of that early 
romance of his became a little blurred and indistinct, no 
longer holding any poignancy of pain, but lingering in his 
memory like some tender, gracious dream. It had been just 
a boy and girl affair, fragment of youth's high hopes and 
enthusiasms—a pretty episode upon which he could look 
back with a kindly, indulgent smile. 

But there had been no other woman in his life. Women, 
yes—what popular novelist who adds good looks and personal 
charm to his other gifts escapes?—but no one particular 
woman who had ever dominated his life in the smallest 
degree. 

“And I don't think one ever will now," he muttered grimly, 
following out his train of thought to its logical conclu¬ 
sion. 

As he spoke, his fingers, trifling with the pages of his 
manuscript, encountered something of a firmer substance—> 
a letter, still unopened, which he had evidently overlooked in 
going through his morning’s correspondence. 

The envelope was fat and thick, of hand-made paper, and 
sealed at the back with the impress of an old-fashioned Cupid 
seal. The handwriting was a distinctly feminine one, fine 
and rather spidery-looking. 

Timothy groaned. 

“Another of 'em!" he muttered, smiling wryly. 

Did he not know, only too well, the enthusiastic outpour¬ 
ings of soulful young women who had found in his writings 
balm for their broken hearts, and who wanted to tell him all 
about it ? He was deluged with such epistles. 

He was about to pitch the letter into the fire when some¬ 
thing in the handwriting arrested him. It bore a faint, far¬ 
away resemblance to the sprawling hieroglyphics that had 
;adorned those little cocked-hat notes with which Mollie used 
vfco punctuate the dulness of a day when circumstances for- 


The Letters of Rosemary 195 

bade a meeting. Allowing for the development of years the 
envelope might almost have been addressed by her. 

Half smiling at the thought, Timothy slit open the flap 
and withdrew the folded sheet from within. A faint 
fragrance assailed his nostrils, vague and evanescent; he 
could not put a name to it, but it reminded him of potpourri 
and lavender and all sweet country scents. Almost he could 
see again the lane where he and Mollie had parted, the air 
heavy with the perfume of roses. 

His eyes skimmed lightly over the first two pages, and 
then, his brows contracting with sudden interest, he turned 
back to the beginning and read the whole letter carefully 
through. 

It was a curious letter, dealing with his writings, of 
course, but in a fresh, original way, and with such extraor¬ 
dinarily clear perception that it made pleasant reading in¬ 
deed to the author. 

The unknown correspondent had sensed the atmosphere of 
discouragement which, notwithstanding his success, cropped 
out in his work—a kind of discouragement with life, a 
suggestion of aloneness. Perhaps her own solitariness—for 
she had told him that she lived alone, “in an old maid’s 
solitude” she put it—had supplied her with the key to his, 
and though there was no single sentence in the letter that 
actually gave expression to her sympathy, yet the whole 
breathed such a comprehending, delicate interest that 
Timothy’s heart warmed towards her. 

There was no address on the letter; otherwise he would 
have been sorely tempted to break his most stringent rule 
regarding such epistles and reply to it. It was signed quite 
simply, “Rosemary,” and impulsively he picked up his pen, 
and drawing a sheet of scribbling paper towards him, headed 
it “Rosemary, That’s for Remembrance.” 

The little article for which the following hour was re¬ 
sponsible was one of “Marvin Leigh’s” most charming efforts 
—delightfully spontaneous, informed with an exquisitely 


196 Waves of Destiny 

tender understanding of the human soul—the prose almost 
transmuted into poetry. 

He appended his signature and sent it off to a journal to 
which he was a regular contributor, and his last thought that 
night, as he drowsed off into slumber, took the form of an 
anxious wonder as to whether “she” would see it. 

She did, and another letter in the same spidery hand¬ 
writing lay on his plate at breakfast a week after the publica¬ 
tion of the article. 

The second letter brought her much nearer to him. Her 
personality crept out in it—a little shrinkingly still, as 
though she were not even yet quite sure that she would be 
really welcome—and it was so charming a one that Timothy 
wasted quite a lot of time in mentally picturing what manner 
of woman she might be. She was not really an old maid— 
of that he was convinced. The letters breathed the spirit of 
youth itself, and she was witty and clever and sympathetic, 
and he felt sure her hair was brown—a warm brown with 
red lights in it. 

She still elected to hide behind the anonymity of “Rose¬ 
mary,” and this second letter, like the first, bore no address. 
The only clue he could find to her whereabouts was the post¬ 
mark, “St. Jude-in-Roseland,” a little village which reference 
to the Ordnance map informed him lay tucked away on the 
side of a Devonshire hill. 

It was obviously impossible, however, to address a letter 
to her with the sweet simplicity of “ ‘Rosemary/ St. Jude-in- 
Roseland,” and his mind utterly rejected the notion of 
making inquiries and so eliciting what she obviously wished 
kept hidden. To his fine perception such a procedure would 
have seemed like forcing the delicately closed up petals of a 
bud to unfold before their time. 

Ho, he would wait patiently until she chose to reveal 
herself. But, meanwhile, a way of responding to her letters 
presented itself to his eager mind, and very shortly there 
appeared, in a periodical called The Dreamer , the first 


197 


The Letters of Rosemary 

instalment of a series entitled “Letters of Remembrance.” 

It was written exactly on the lines of a letter, purporting 
to be a reply to one received, and created quite a small furore 
by its beauty of form and idea. Several of the reviews com¬ 
mented on it and congratulated the author, Marvin Leigh, 
on the delicacy of its workmanship, stating confidently that 
the next of the series would be anticipated with interest. 

Duly it brought its reply from “Rosemary”—direct and 
frank this time, as though the writer were prepared to trust 
to the friendship shown so plainly in the first of the “Letters 
of Remembrance.” 

How can I thank you? (she wrote). If my letters, 
written from this dull little corner of the world, have 
brought you—as you say they have—a breath of country 
sweetness into your turmoil of the town , yours to me have 
been like a whiff of the brave salt breezes of the sea, blow¬ 
ing away the mists that hung above the quiet backwater, 
where my barque is anchored . 

The touch of wistfulness in the last sentence brought a 
tender smile to Timothy’s face. Some day he would go down 
to that quiet backwater, and loosing her barque from its 
moorings, steer it away—away on to the wide sea of love. 

Yes, of love itself. From the very first he had found some¬ 
thing peculiarly charming in this interchange of thoughts 
and ideas with a mind so curiously akin to his own—this 
dream-like friendship of the spirit—and now, as the closely- 
written missives never failed to reach him in answer to the 
monthly appearances of the “Letters of Remembrance,” he 
found that his vision of the “Rosemary” who penned them 
was the vision of the woman whom he loved. 

3 

It came about quite unexpectedly—Timothy’s meeting 
with Mollie Mainwaring. Just a haphazard acceptance of 


198 Waves of Destiny 

one from amongst a dozen dinner invitations that had be¬ 
fallen him, and he found his hostess convoying him towards 
a strangely familiar figure and murmuring a confused blur 
of names by way of introduction. 

“Why, Tim-” And Mollie, little changed for all that 

ten long years had slipped away since he had seen her last, 
held out her hand in the old impulsive way he remembered 
so well. 

“So you know each other?” smiled the hostess. “Now, 
how nice! It won’t take you till the entree, then, to find out 
each other’s pet aversions.” 

Timothy found himself watching with fascinated eyes 
while Mollie stripped off her long white gloves, waiting, with 
a curious sensation of rebellion in his heart, to see the plain 
band of gold which he knew would be gleaming on her third 
finger, and which, years ago—oh, centuries ago!—he had 
once hoped to place there himself. 

But when she had freed her hands he looked down at 
them in amazement, for her white, slim fingers were as ring¬ 
less as his own. 

“Where’s your wedding ring?” The words leaped from 
his lips before he was aware. 

She turned and stared at him, the quick, vivid colour 
flying up into her face. 

“My wedding ring ?” she murmured. 

Timothy felt the red blood rush into his own cheeks. 

“I beg your pardon,” he stammered. “But I thought— 
I understood you were married.” 

Mollie’s eyes fell away from his. 

“You thought wrong,” she said quietly. 

The chill, brief words were like the hoisting of a sign¬ 
board with NO TRESPASSERS ALLOWED painted on 
it in large letters, and Timothy hastily led the conversation 
away into the paths of safety. 

By the time the entree was reached they had switched on 


The Letters of Rosemary 199 

to a literary line, and Mollie innocently inquired if lie had 
read “The Way of a Dream.” 

“Been obliged to,” he answered grimly. “Pm the poor 
devil that wrote it.” 

“You ? You are—Marvin Leigh V 9 She spoke slowly, and 
there was amazement in her eyes, amazement and something 
else—something almost resembling consternation. 

“I plead guilty,” he replied, smiling. 

“Then—then it was you who wrote those ‘Letters of 
Remembrance’ in the DreamerV’ 

The words broke from her almost in a whisper, and as 
Timothy turned to answer her, the scarlet flamed in her 
cheeks once more—a shamed red that died even the round, 
young palpitating throat and the tips of her little ears. 

Timothy remained staring at her a moment, silent in the 
grip of the immense awakening that had come to him. That 
tell-tale flush, the similarity of the hand-writing, the amazing 
understandingness of his unknown correspondent—it was all 
explained now. The whole thing leapt into vivid shape in 
his mind upon the instant; Mollie—she herself, and not 
another woman—was his dream lady, his lady of the letters! 
An d with that thought came another—that she loved him 
still. For “Rosemary” had loved some one once in the 
closed book of the past; he had read it between the lines of 
those letters written from “an old maid’s solitude.” 

There were worlds to be explained between them, but that 
could come later; it was enough for the moment to know 
that she still loved him. Meanwhile, that agonised blush 
and the sudden, stricken look in her eyes imperatively 
claimed his help, and with a wonderful lightness of heart he 
came to her rescue. 

“Yes. I wrote the ‘Letters of Remembrance.’ Nice of 
you to have read them. Did you like them \ 

“They—they were very beautiful,” she said in a low 
voice. 


200 Waves of Destiny 

“I wanted them to be,” he answered simply. “Pm so 
glad you liked them—Mollie.” 

“I think/’ she said gently—“I think that any woman 
would have liked them. I’m sure the ‘Rosemary’ you wrote 
them for—that was the name, wasn’t it?—must have liked 
them.” 

Timothy rejoiced. 

“I hope she did,” he said. And then they slid away to 
other topics, for a dinner-table is not the appropriate setting 
for a reconciliation. 

A conservatory approaches more nearly to it, and it was 
here, in the dimly-lit, green-scented warmth, that Timothy 
turned back the pages of the years that were gone. 

“Mollie, why did you never answer my letters?” 

Mollie stared at him. 

“Your letters? Why, you never wrote me any. You—= 
you forgot to come back when you were famous.” 

The bitterness in her voice was pitiful to him—pitiful as 
the silent crying of a child. 

“Porgot to come back ?” he repeated. “Oh, Mollie, Mollie! 
Thank God we’ve met in time—in time for explanations. 
We might have passed our whole lives without knowing. 
Mollie—sweetheart—I wrote you again and again, and you 
never answered me.” 

“I never had the letters,” she said slowly. “Are you sure 
—sure that you wrote—to Mainwaring ?” 

“Sure. And my last letter came back to me through the 
Dead Letter Office.” 

“Tell me, when did you write ? How many years ago ?” 

“I first wrote just three years after I went away. I was 
getting on well then, and I thought your father might re¬ 
consider his decision. I wrote several times, and had no 
answer. Then, a year later, I wrote again; that was the 
letter that came back to me.” 

Mollie nodded her head. 

“Yes. I had left Mainwaring then. But—but the year 


The Letters of Rosemary 201 

before—oh, Tim! Dad must have stopped those letters from 
reaching me! Oh, how could he V ’ 

A sudden sob shook her. 

“I thought, when I got no reply, that you meant to show 
me that—it was all over,” said Timothy slowly. 

“And I thought—you’d forgotten.” 

A silence fell between them. Timothy was thinking hard 
and bitter thoughts of the man who had come between them, 
and almost as though she read what was in his mind she 
said loyally: 

“He meant it for the best—poor dad.” 

“He’s robbed us,” broke out Timothy savagely—“robbed 
us of seven years.” 

Mollie’s hand stole out to his. 

“He’s dead, Timothy; don’t say anything. We’ve—we’ve 
got plenty of years left, dear.” 

And with that he caught her in his arms, crushing her to 
him, and kissed her as though he would never let her go. 

“And how was it you came to leave Mainwaring?” he 
asked presently. “If it hadn’t been for that you would have 
received the last letter I wrote you.” 

“Yes, dad was dead then. But—didn’t you ever hear ?—* 
his affairs were in an awful state. He—he had been specu¬ 
lating and there was nothing left. Everything had to be 
sold to pay his debts.” 

“And you?” Timothy’s arm tightened in its clasp. “I 
heard that you were married.” 

“Harried ? Oh, no. I got a situation as governess to a 
little boy.” 

“You—doing that ? Oh, my dear, and all the time I had 
more money than I knew how to spend! Mollie”—jealously 
'—“what are you doing now—not govemessing ?” 

“Ho”—with a little smile—“companioning. I’m com¬ 
panion to a Mrs. Danton.” 


202 Waves of Destiny 

“You shan’t he a day longer, then. We’ll be married to- 
morrow.” 

“Oh, no, we won’t.” With happiness Mollie was reverting 
to her charmingly autocratic self once more. “I couldn’t 
leave Mrs. Danton in the lurch like that—she’s been awfully 
kind and nice to me. But”—glancing at him mischievously 
—“I’ll marry you as soon as ever she’s ‘suited’ herself, as 
the servants say.” 

An ri with that Timothy had to be content. 

When he reached home he remembered that he had never 
challenged Mollie, after all, with the writing of “Rosemary’s” 
letters, and, chuckling a little to himself, he determined that 
now he would let her believe her secret undiscovered until 
after they were married. Then, one day, he would inveigle 
her into a confession and finally tell her that it was no news 
to him, but that he had known about it all the time, and had 
written accordingly. 

A week later came another letter from “Rosemary,” and 
this time she told him that letters addressed “Rosemary, 
c/o Mrs. Giles, St. Jude-in-Roseland,’ ” would find her. 

Timothy smiled with tender amusement at Mollie’s pre¬ 
tence, at her little effort to throw dust in his eyes now that 
they were actually engaged, by continuing to write letters as 
the unknown “Rosemary” so that he might not suspect her. 
Quite suddenly an altogether delightful idea presented itself 
to him: he would respond with a real love-letter. The quaint 
conceit of carrying on an anonymous correspondence with 
the lady of his heart appealed to some whimsical strain in 
him, and taking up his pen he wrote just such a beautiful, 
tender, delightful love-letter as might be expected from the 
author whose mind had created the “Letters of Re¬ 
membrance.” 

The day he posted it he asked Mollie casually if she 
chanced to know of a little place called St. Jude-in-Rose¬ 
land. 

“It has such a charming name,” he said, “that I’m sure 


The Letters of Rosemary 203 

it must be a charming place—the sort of place for a honey¬ 
moon, Mollie.” 

She had blushed a little and owned to a previous 
knowledge. 

“Mrs. Danton and I used to stay there,” she had said. 
That was exactly what Timothy had surmised, and there¬ 
after he wondered whose services she had requisitioned to 
post the “Rosemary” letters for her from the little Devon 
yillage after her return to London. 

4 

Mrs. Danton was able to “suit” herself with another com¬ 
panion within another fortnight, and Timothy and Mollie 
had been married exactly a week, and had passed seven bliss¬ 
ful days at St. Jude-in-Roseland—which was quite as pretty 
as it sounds—when Timothy received an answer from 
“Rosemary” to the love-letter he had written her when she 
sent him her address. 

He stared at the envelope, which had been redirected to 
him from London, in some surprise. He had hardly ex¬ 
pected Mollie to reply, but it was just like her to appreciate 
the whimsical charm of the idea and to follow it up, and he 
carried the letter away with him to peruse in luxurious 
solitude in the garden. 

It was full of the same delicate charm as “Rosemary’s” 
former letters, and the way in which Mollie had endeavoured 
to preserve her incognito, by raising insuperable objections 
to the meeting for which in his last letter he had pleaded, 
brought a smile, half humorous, half tender, to his lips. 

It is sweet indeed to feel that I am loved (wrote “Rose¬ 
mary”). But, dear, let me still remain your (C Dream 
Lady ,” as you have called me. There are harriers between 
us we can never pass. Age is one. I don’t believe you 
have ever realised how old I am, and I love you for it, for 
I feel young, although the mirror tells another tale. 


204 


Waves of Destiny 

“Little minx!” muttered Timothy, amused. 

He read on: 

And, as I told you long ago, I am anchored here in my 

little haven, and life for me — life, as you understand it in 

your glorious youthr—has quite passed by. 

Timothy was a little puzzled by this part of the letter; 
it seemed so sincere—so wistfully sincere. Mollie was really 
letting her imagination run riot in her efforts to guard her 
secret. 

He strolled back to the house, mentally complimenting her 
upon her unsuspected gift for imaginative writing. 

“I’ve had another letter from Rosemary/ ” he remarked. 

“What—from your Dream Lady,’ as you call her ? You’ll 
have to write some more Detters of Remembrance,’ Tim—a 
second series.” 

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he replied sedately. 

“Oh, you mustn’t leave her letters unanswered. It would 
be so unkind,” she smiled back at him. 

He made no reply for a moment. Then he said mean- 
ingly: 

“I know who ‘Rosemary’ is.” 

“Oh, do you?” she exclaimed. “How did you find out? 
I was so jealous of her at one time. Do you remember when 
you told me at that dinner that you were ‘Marvin Leigh’ ? I 
was sick with misery, because I felt I had lost you altogether, 
and yet I had to try and behave as though I didn’t care a 
rap. I was quite sure you must be in love with the woman to 
whom you could write such letters.” 

“Little actress!” ejaculated Timothy mentally. But aloud 
he said composedly: “So I was.” 

“You—you were?” faltered Mollie. 

“Yes—because I think the lady’s name is Mollie Gale— 
nee Mainwaring.” 

She shook her head. 


The Letters of Rosemary 205 

“Quite wrong, Tim. I never wasted my time writing 
anonymous letters to ‘Marvin Leigh/ I can assure you.” 

“You didn't V He stared at her blankly. “Is that really 
true, Mollie ? Answer me!” 

“Perfectly true. Why, does it matter? What makes 
you look like that, Tim? What is it?” A hint of panic 
showed itself in her voice, for his face had whitened and 
there was an expression of suddenly awakened horror in his 
eyes. 

“Good God, Mollie, it isn’t—it can’t be true!” he gasped 
hoarsely. “Don’t tell me you didn’t write those letters ?” 

“But I didn’t, dear—I didn’t really. Oh, Tim, do tell 
me what is the matter!” 

“Why—why-” stammered Timothy, his voice shaking. 

“Op—it’s horrible, Mollie! The others didn’t matter so 
much— but my last letter! I made sure it was you, and—* 
and I wrote a love-letter—a love-letter to ‘Rosemary,’ telling 
her—why, telling her all I should have told you, all that was 
in my heart.” He paused, then added in dry, rigid tones: 
“And she’s answered it.” 

He held out the letter, and as Mollie took it from him she 
saw that his hand was trembling. 

She read it through, then lifted a white, dismayed face, 
her eyes brimming over with tears. 

“Tim, Tim, you have made her so happy,” she said 
tremulously. “Oh, my dear, how dreadful it all is! What 
can you do ? You mustn’t—you can t tell her it s none of it 
true.” 

“Ho,” he answered dully. “I can’t do that, I must— 
I must just cease writing to her.” 

Mollie’s brows drew together. 

“That would mean hurting her so.” 

He nodded drearily. 

“Well, what can I do? I can’t tell her the truth. Tell 
me”—harshly—“what can I do ?” 

But there came no answer. There was nothing— nothing 



206 Waves of Destiny 

he could do that would repair the bitter, pitiful blunder he 
had made. 

5 

It was a very sobered Mollie that set out the next day to 
visit an old friend who lived in the neighbourhood. 

She and Timothy had discussed the matter of the letters 
to “Rosemary” until they were weary, but they were no 
nearer a solution of the difficulty, and at last Mollie had 
left her husband to ponder over it alone. 

“Perhaps I shall find some way out,” he had said, but 
there had been no promise in his tones. 

Mollie turned in at the gate of the little cottage which 
was her destination and walked slowly up the flagged path. 
The tiny garden on either side was a riot of summer flowers 
—all the sweet old-fashioned blooming of the country. Big, 
tall hollyhocks swayed in the breeze, nodding to the slender 
foxgloves, while, side by side, lavender and roses gleamed like 
amethyst and crimson jewels against an emerald carpet of 
fragrant mignonette. 

“Miss Penelope ?” asked Mollie of the servant who opened 
the door. 

“Why, I declare, tez Miss Mollie!” exclaimed the woman 
in the soft drawling tones of the West Country. “Miss 
Penelope’ll be plaized to see you, miss. Though she’s obliged 
to keep her room now, you’ll be main sorry to hear. I’ll just 
tell her, if so be you’ll come upstairs.” 

Mollie followed the broad, sturdy figure up the narrow 
staircase and into a low-roofed bedroom, sweet and fresh and 
dainty with chintz and flowers. 

In the big, four-poster bed, propped up against the pillows, 
lay a little frail woman, looking all the more fragile and 
diminutive by contrast with the massive proportions of the 
bed. A frilled muslin cap, coquettish with lavender ribbons, 


207 


The Letters of Rosemary 

crowned the soft grey hair that framed her face—a face that 
with its delicate features and soft blue eyes must have been 
lovely enough to break a heart or so in days gone by. But 
now the skin was waxen white and the blue eyes a little faded 
—like hyacinths washed with rain. 

“So you are ‘married and a’,’ m J Mollie,” said Miss Penel¬ 
ope presently. “It’s good, dear child, to see the course of 
true love run smooth. Oh, I know what love is”—nodding 
her head—“though I am an old maid.” 

“And I can’t think why you are,” broke out Mollie im¬ 
petuously. “It’s a shocking waste.” 

“My dear”—the hyacinth eyes grew misty—“I threw 
away my happiness once—youth is headstrong, you know, 
and doesn’t count the cost. And I’ve paid for it, day by day, 
in solitude ever since.” She hesitated. “No, not quite ever 
since. God has been very good to me and sent me a great 
love— a great, understanding love—to sweeten the last years 
of a lonely life. We have never met, but I know he cares, 
and I could not love him more if we had been together 
always.” 

She slipped a thin hand underneath her pillow, and with¬ 
drew a little package of letters, tied together with a lavender 
ribbon. A sprig of withered rosemary was thrust through 
the knot of the ribbon. 

“These—these are his letters,” went on Miss Penelope, a 
delicate wild-rose colour suddenly tinting her waxen cheeks. 
“And when—when the end comes, Mollie, I want you to see 
that they are buried with me. I think”—dreamily—“if I 
had them in my hand, I could lie and rest quite patiently 
till we meet—he and I.” She paused. “Will you do this 
for me, my dear ?” 

Mollie was gazing at the little package of letters as though 
fascinated by it, and Miss Penelope, following her glance, 
smiled. 

“Yes, they are funny letters, aren’t they ?” she said, her 


208 Waves of Destiny 

eyes twinkling with amusement. “Printed—hut they are 
love-letters all the same. And there is—just one—written by 
his own hand.” 

She pulled the ribbon a little aside so as to reveal the 
uppermost letter of the packet, and Mollie, with a strange 
tightening about her throat, found herself staring horror- 
stricken at her husband’s handwriting. 

So little Miss Penelope was the “Rosemary” of the letters 
•—the woman to whom they had brought a tender, secret 
happiness, a dream-like wraith of love. 

The tears were pouring down Mollie’s cheeks as she laid 
her young hand over the slight, frail one jealously clasping 
the letters. 

“Oh, my dear, my dear, I will do all, just—just as you 
would wish,” she said gently. 

A look of peace came into the tired face beneath the frilled 
cap, jaunty with its lavender ribbons. 

“Thank you, dear; I was sure you would.” Miss Penelope 
leaned back against her pillows, a little weary with the effort 
of talking. “Come and see me again, Mollie. It won’t be 
very long, now, before I go—to wait for him. But—but 
perhaps there may come another letter. He is so good—he 
never keeps me long without an answer.” 

Mollie and her husband were standing together in the 
scented dusk of their little garden. 

“She must never know,” Mollie was saying. “And you 
must not let her miss the letters—dear little Miss Penelope. 
Till—till the end, Timothy, you will go on writing ?” 

“Yes,” he answered gravely. “I will go on writing.” He 
took her in his arms and kissed her very tenderly and gently. 
“God bless you, dear, for understanding.” 

So the letters went to and fro once more though the delicate 
ispidery handwriting grew fainter with each attempt. 

At last there came a day when Mollie was hurriedly sent 


209 


The Letters of Rosemary 

for to the cottage, to find Miss Penelope propped np, shadow¬ 
like, against her pillows—so frail that it seemed almost as 
though a breath of wind might hear her away. 

In her hand she held Timothy’s last letter. 

Rosemary dear —he had written— Fve just been read¬ 
ing your letter and I feel such a brute, because in it you 
tell me you are ill, and yet I may not come to you. But 
since you yourself have set a barrier between us, which 
can never be brolcen down in this world, why, let me tell 
you that your letters—your dear letters, always fragrant 
of lavender—have been one of the most wonderful and 
beautiful things in my life . Always remember that, 
Rosemary . Perhaps it may comfort you at times . There 
come those times of loneliness to all of us. 

Miss Penelope met Mollie’s eyes with a smile of purest 
happiness. 

“I’ve heard again, Mollie,” she said. “Such a dear letter. 
It won’t he hard to go now; I’ve had so much— so much out 
of life, after all.” 

An d with the dawn, little Miss Penelope, whose dream 
romance had given what seemed “so much” to her humble 
soul, fared gladly forth to the bigger world that lay waiting 
for her beyond the border-line where life meets death. 

Mollie cried softly as she told her husband of the utter 
happiness which his last letter had brought with it. 

“But oh, Tim,” she whispered. “What about the awaken¬ 
ing? She has loved you so, and when she finds out—where 
she has gone—that it was all a mistake—what then?” 

Timothy smiled serenely, confidently. Por him that 
awakening held no fear. 

“Oh, my dear, she’ll understand then—we shall all under¬ 
stand—that no love is ever lost.” 


CHAPTER XII 

COMRADES 

1 

T HE big fire crackling on the hearth threw flickering 
shafts of light across the room, picking out the gleaming 
surfaces of polished woods and the soft, warm lustre of tor¬ 
toiseshell and gold upon the dressing-table. Its light fell, 
too, upon the still figure of a woman sitting in a chair, her 
bare feet, thrust into little blue mules, resting on the low 
kerb. Her hands lay folded upon her knee—slim, pointed 
members which seemed to hold something of despondency, 
almost of despair, in their quiet folding. The same shadow 
of unhappiness touched her face. The red mouth, with its 
short upper lip surely made for laughter, drooped wearily 
at the comers, while the grey, dissatisfied eyes which stared 
into the fire glowed sombrely as though with a curious con¬ 
flict of emotion. 

Suddenly from below came the dull thud of the house door 
closing. The woman started nervously at the sound, half 
made as though she would rise, then sank back into her chair 
again. But this time her body did not relax as before. She 
sat rigidly upright, her slender hands grasping the chair- 
arms, her small, dark head a little turned, her ears strained 
to catch the sound of mounting footsteps which were draw¬ 
ing nearer and nearer. 

A minute later the door was flung hurriedly open, and a 
man’s voice—quick and dominating—shattered the silence. 

“ ’Braid I’m late—hallo !”■—as the dusk met him like a 
wall. “All in the dark ? How’s that ? Aren’t you dressing 
yet?” 

“Ho.” The answer came tonelessly. 

210 





Comrades 


2 11 

With a muttered exclamation the new-comer fumbled for 
the electric switch and snapped it down, flooding the room 
with light. For an instant Leslie Daimer shielded her eyes 
with her hand from the sudden glare. Then she turned and 
faced her husband. 

He was a big, powerfully-built man—a complete contrast 
to her slender femininity—with determined brows overhang¬ 
ing keen, hazel eyes which held more than a hint of temper 
in their depths. Below an arrogant, jutting-out nose, the 
closing of his long-lipped mouth reminded one of a rat-trap, 
and the square, thrusting jaw completed the impression of a 
primitive, virile force that would not easily brook opposition. 
The men who worked under Daimer and the big financiers 
in the city who had not infrequently opposed him in some 
huge deal on the share-market had one and all learned to 
know that opposition only served to rouse in him a dogged 
tenacity which invariably carried him through to victory. 
“You might as well try to batter down a brick wall with 
your bare hands as fight Bruce Daimer.” It was a common 
saying among both friends and foes. And his wife, the 
dark, fragile woman who had borne his name and shared 
his wealth for seven long years—the longest years of a life 
which barely counted five-and-twenty in all—she, too, had 
learned to know that indomitable will of his—to know it and 
yield to it. 

“What the devil-” With an effort, Daimer checked 

the hasty ejaculation which broke from him as he perceived 
his wife to be still attired in a soft neglige that clung 
persuasively to the supple lines of her figure. “Why aren’t 
you dressing? You know we’re due at the Porthamores’ 
crush to-night ?” 

“I know.” 

“Well, it’s an occasion for full war-paint, isn’t it ?”—half 
smiling. When Bruce Daimer smiled it redeemed his face 
of all its dominating arrogance. There was something 
curiously attractive about his smile. Even now, after seven 



212 Waves of Destiny 

disillusioning years of matrimony, Leslie recognised tliat 
fact. 

“Do you think it is?” she answered wearily. “Do the 
Porthamores—matter much ?” 

“They do,” he returned incisively. “Porthamore’s chair¬ 
man of too many important concerns to he in any way a 
negligible quantity. Besides, have you forgotten what day 
it is?” 

A sudden nervous flush stained her cheeks. She had not 
forgotten, hut inwardly she had been hoping that he had. 
It was her birthday, one of the three occasions in the year 
which her husband chose to convert into a little private fete 
day. The other two were the occasion of his own birthday 
and the anniversary of their wedding-day. Invariably these 
eventful days had hitherto been celebrated by Daimer’s tak¬ 
ing a holiday from city affairs and spending the day alone 
with his wife. They would run out somewhere into the 
country in the big touring car which he drove even better 
than Jenkins, the extremely competent chauffeur, and finish 
up with a little gala dinner at some restaurant in town where 
they could dance together afterwards. To Leslie these anni¬ 
versaries represented nothing more than a bitter travesty of 
what such days should mean. 

And this morning she believed he had forgotten that it 
was her birthday. He had hurried off to the city earlier than 
usual, without making any reference to it, apparently solely 
intent upon some big financial coup he hoped to bring off. 

“Ho.” She answered his question mechanically. “Ho. I 
had not forgotten.” 

“But you thought I had, eh ?” He laughed triumphantly. 
“Does this look like it?” 

Followed the click of a spring, and the next moment he 
had tossed a jeweller’s velvet case carelessly on to the floor 
and was holding out towards her a flexible bracelet of magnifi¬ 
cent sapphires that smouldered darkly under the glare of the 
electric lights. 


Comrades 


213 


Leslie slipped it on to her wrist. 

“It is very beautiful / 5 she said unemotionally. “Thank 
you, Bruce.” 

“That all ?” he queried. 

She knew perfectly well what he meant, heard the demand 
in his voice. But she chose to ignore it. Very quietly and 
deliberately she turned away. 

“I must dress / 5 she said. “It is getting late . 55 

As though her tacit refusal of his demand roused some 
devil in him, he caught her by the shoulders and twisted her 
round towards him. 

“You 5 ll kiss me first!” he said harshly. 

For a moment she hesitated as if tempted to defy him, 
then, with a slight shrug of her shoulders, she yielded and 
lifted her face impassively to his. His arms closed round 
her, his mouth crushing down on hers with a passion that 
seemed whipped into fiercer flame by her very coldness. All 
at once he flung her away from him, so roughly that she 
had to catch at the dressing-table for support. 

“Damn it! I wonder sometimes if I married a woman 
or an iceberg ! 55 he exclaimed stormily. “You 5 ve about as 
much warmth about you as the latter, anyway. That s all 
I know . 55 

“Perhaps you don’t know much,” she answered slowly. 
“You don’t know the real me—at all, Bruce . 55 

Involuntarily she had voiced the truth. Seven years of 
married life, instead of bringing husband and wife that 
perfect mutual understanding which should be the fruit of 
long companionship, had only served to set them very far 
apart. Looking back down the long vista of those years it 
seemed to Leslie as though they had brought her nothing 
but bitter disappointment, day by day, month by month, 
crushing out the ideals which had been hers when she had 
stood side by side with Bruce before God’s altar and taken 
the vows which bound them together for all time. 

“For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness 


214 Waves of Destiny 

and health . . To Leslie, at eighteen, the simple words, 
embodying all that the most perfect companionship should 
mean, had held her whole vision of wifehood. She had been, 
uplifted by enthusiastic, girlish dreams of being her hus¬ 
band’s best and closest comrade, of sharing with him every¬ 
thing that came, good and bad alike. But with marriage 
these dreams had been shattered. There had been no bad 
fortune to share. Brom the first Bruce’s luck had been 
phenomenal, and, as the years passed on, his life in the City, 
the world of stocks and shares, seemed to absorb him more 
and more completely. Moreover, he appeared to regard it as 
a foregone conclusion that his wife should take no interest in 
such matters. At first, she had tentatively tried to draw him 
into telling her about his business, but he only laughed her 
inquiries aside, as though she were a child. 

“My dear, don’t bother your pretty little head with the 
very dull details of how money is made. If you concern 
yourself with the spending of it, that’s all I shall ever ask 
of you.” 

And that was all he ever had asked. As far as the graver 
issues of life were concerned, she was completely shut out 
of his confidence. Leslie realised this only too clearly, and 
resented it with the whole strength of her nature. Debarred 
from taking any real and definite interest in her husband’s 
affairs, she very naturally formed interests and friendships 
of her own in which Bruce had no share, and gradually hus¬ 
band and wife had drifted apart in all the deeper essentials 
of life. The mere tie of Daimer’s primitively fierce passion 
for her was not sufficient to hold a woman who craved com¬ 
panionship and understanding and an outlet for her energies. 
And, as almost inevitably happens when a woman misses 
what she needs in the man she calls husband, Leslie instinct¬ 
ively sought for it elsewhere, finding it eventually in the 
person of Rex Melville, a rising young artist whom Daimer 
had commissioned to paint his wife’s portrait. 

During the course of the sittings for the portrait, which 


Comrades 


215 


had extended over some considerable time, a friendship had 
grown np between them which, unrecognised by either, was 
rapidly deepening into something more dangerous and de¬ 
manding. In Melville, Leslie found all that she had missed 
in Bruce—a peculiar tenderness of understanding, a sym¬ 
pathy, and withal, a boyish gaiety of spirit that appealed 
both to her youth and to her womanhood. Outsiders, who 
usually see most of the game, were already remarking upon 
the friendship existing between the millionaire’s wife and 
Rex Melville. They had been seen together too much not 
to have provoked comment—at theatres, at concerts, and at 
dances whither Daimer had been too busy to escort his wife 
.—and now it only remained for some enlightening flash to 
reveal their mutual danger to the two people most concerned. 

It came on the night of the Porthamores’ crush. Wearied 
with the usual banalities of social intercourse, Leslie turned 
to find Melville standing beside her. A new light sprang into 
her face, momentarily chasing away the shadows which had 
lain there. 

“You?” she stammered. “I never expected to see you 
here this evening. I’d no idea you knew the Porthamores. 

He smiled. 

“I didn’t—until to-night. I came here, with a cousin of 
theirs, especially to meet old Porthamore. He wants me to 
paint his daughter’s portrait, it seems.” 

A brief flash of amusement leaped into Leslie’s eyes as she 
recalled the podgy features of the proposed sitter. 

“Have you seen her?” she whispered laughingly.. 

Melville’s mouth twisted with a wry humour. 

“I have. But painters—like beggars—can’t be choosers, 
worse luck! Only, confound it, the plainer people are, the 
more they appear to wish to have their features reproduced 
on <iinvas!” 

Leslie nodded, but the brief smile faded swiftly from her 
face and once more the tired lines reappeared at each side of 
her mouth—lines which had no business on the face of youth. 


216 Waves of Destiny 

Melville observed tbe change with his usual quick perception. 

“You look awfully tired,” he said solicitously. “Come 
out on to the balcony for a breath of air. These rooms”— 
glancing round him with a look of irritation—“are abomina¬ 
bly stuffy.” 

Her head was throbbing, and she rose gladly and followed 
him into the dimness of the sheltered balcony, where a sway¬ 
ing Chinese lantern shed a faint, elusive luminance. From 
below came the occasional rumble of a passing cart or the 
whir of a taxi—near, sharply-defined sounds superimposed 
upon the blurred murmur of the distant traffic. Leslie leaned 
her hot forehead against the cool stone of a pillar with a 
caught-back sigh of relief. 

“What is it?” Melville spoke abruptly. “What’s wrong, 
Leslie ? You look as if—as if-” He paused, hesitating. 

“Yes? As if?” she parried lightly. Then, suddenly 
dropping her guard: “Ah, Kex, it’s nothing new. It’s only 
the old tale. Why Bruce married me, I can’t think! We’re 
as far apart as the two poles. And yet—yes, I do know”—* 
with sudden bitterness. “I’m a good advertisement of his 
wealth—a pretty peg to hang his jewels on. Look!” She 
flung out her arm, the new sapphire bracelet gleaming 
sombrely against its whiteness. “One more link in the chain 
that binds me. Oh! Sometimes—sometimes I feel as if I 
can’t bear it any longer!” 

“Then don’t bear it!” The words broke from Melville 
with a sudden impulse stronger than he could restrain. His 
arm closed swiftly round her. “Break the chain—and come 
away with me. Let me teach you what love really means—* 
make you happy. Leslie, belovedest, I can’t , bear it any 
longer, either. I can’t bear your sad little- face—your dear 
eyes always asking, asking for something that Bruce Daimer 
can never give you. Come—come away with me, and I swear 
you shall forget all this. Leslie-” 

“Oh, stop!” For a moment she had let him run on, 
powerless to stem the torrent of his words. But now, with a 




Comrades 


217 


desperate gesture, she drew hack. “Oh, my dear, stop! 
Don’t ask me, don’t tempt me any more. Or I shall say 
‘yes’—and go with you, Rex. And I mustn’t. You don’t 
know—all. You don’t know why I married Bruce-” 

“God knows I don’t!” he muttered. “It—it was incon¬ 
ceivable. Madness!” 

“Yes, madness,” she assented. 

“Then leave him-” he urged. 

“No. I can’t. I’m not free. It—it was almost a bargain. 
My father was in difficulties—in debt. And Bruce helped 
him, set him on his feet again. Later, he asked me to marry 
him, and I couldn’t—how could I ?—refuse. We owed him 
everything. But—but I thought he cared— really cared. 
And I was so grateful to him that I think I couldn’t have 
helped loving him if I had meant anything to him at all. 

But, afterwards-” She broke off, hiding her face in her 

hands, while a long-drawn, choking sob shook her slender 
frame. Presently she recovered her composure a little. “So 
you see, Rex, I must stay—as long as I can, as long as it’s 
bearable.” 

“And if—if ever it gets unbearable?” he said. “Then, 
Leslie, you’ll come ?” 

She looked at him rather sadly. 

“Ah, Rex, perhaps—by then—you won’t want me any 
longer.” 

“I shall always want you,” he returned simply. “I shall 
always be waiting for you.” 

Very gently and tenderly he took her in his arms and 
kissed her. Por the moment infinite pity for the brave, tired 
soul of her had robbed his love of all passion. And it was 
just then that a man’s figure darkened the doorway, and 
Leslie, drawing herself swiftly from Melville’s arms, dis¬ 
cerned her husband’s face through the dusky half-light shed 
by the gaily-painted Chinese lantern—a face convulsed with 
rage, eyes blazing, lips drawn back in a snarl that was almost 
animal. 





218 Waves of Destiny 

“Anri now”—Daimer spoke in a voice shaken by uncon¬ 
trollable anger—“you’ll come borne—with me.” 

2 

As long as she lived Leslie would never forget all that 
followed ber husband’s appearance on tbe Portbamores’ 
balcony. Oddly enough, be bad contrived to restrain bis 
fury at the moment. He bad created no scene, for which 
she was inimitably thankful, although in ber bitterness of 
soul she attributed this fact purely to bis desire not to offend 
a “useful” acquaintance like Lord Porthamore. But when 
they were once more within tbe four walls of their own home, 
Bruce bad given bis temper free rein. He bad not tried 
to understand, be bad refused even to listen to ber, and 
when at last she bad flung at him tbe bitter challenge that 
be bad never cared, that be bad bought ber with tbe money 
with which be bad squared her father’s debts, be bad let it 
stand at that. 

“Say I bought you, then, if you choose,” be bad told her.. 
“If so, you’re doubly mine, and I’ll let you go to no other 
man.” He caught ber roughly by tbe arms. “You’ll keep 
your side of the bargain, Leslie. . Do you understand ?” 

She bad understood well enough, and tbe bruises which 
stained ber white flesh served to remind ber for days to come 
of the utter futility of struggling against Bruce Daimer—• 
either physically or spiritually. Outwardly, therefore, she 
yielded, and during the weeks which followed it seemed as 
though matters bad settled down once more into their usual 
routine. At first, Daimer bad been vigilantly watchful, 
reluctant to leave bis wife alone, as though be still feared 
she might defy him, but day after day tbe apathetic submis¬ 
sion of ber manner served to reassure him, and finally be 
seemed to forget tbe entire episode. 

But Leslie did not forget. That final terrible quarrel with 
ber husband seemed to ber to have broken tbe last thread of 


Comrades 


219 


loyalty she owed him, to have utterly and completely de¬ 
stroyed even the semblance of the love which, when he had 
first married her, she had had for him. And from the 
moment when he had practically acknowledged that their 
marriage had been nothing but a bargain—his wealth against 
her beauty—her decision to leave him, to accept what Melville 
offered her, was taken, and she only waited for an oppor¬ 
tunity. It came with the gradual relaxation of Daimer’s 
vigilance. An urgent business matter demanded his presence 
in Paris, and, apparently assured of her complete submission 
to his will, he had responded to the summons, leaving her 
alone at home for the first time since the night of the Portha- 
mores’ reception, and had motored down to Dover to catch 
the cross-Channel boat. 

“I shall always be waiting for you!” Melville had said. 
And now the waiting time was over. 

Leslie stood beside the slender amount of baggage that 
she proposed to take with her—a small suit-case that could be 
carried in the hand, containing just a few necessaries. She 
wanted none of the things which had been Daimer’s gifts. 
Purs and costly gowns—-they were all hanging in their 
accustomed places, and of her jewellery she had made a 
package and left it, addressed to her husband, upon the desk 
in his study. Now she stood waiting—waiting for Melville 
to come and take her away. It was midday. Outside, the 
sun beat warmly down on to the pavement. They had chosen 
this hour because the servants would be at luncheon, and 
Leslie could thus slip out of the house unnoticed. She 
glanced down at her watch. Everything was ready. She 
was impatient to be gone. 

Presently, from below came the soft whirr of a closed car. 
She peered through the slats of the lowered blind and watched 
it draw smoothly to a standstill by the kerb outside the house. 
Then, picking up her suit-case, she went softly downstairs, 
crossed the hall, and threw open the house door. The thought 
flashed through her mind that she knew now how a caged bird 


220 Waves of Destiny 

must feel when, some one opens the door of its cage and sets 
it free. . . . 


“What—what is it?” 

Leslie drew sharply hack. A man was standing on the 
doorstep—not Melville, hut a stranger—and she was con¬ 
scious of a confused hlur of figures beside the open door of 
the car. They were lifting some one out—some one who 
lay prone on a stretcher. 

“What is it?” she repeated more sharply. 

The man standing on the threshold stepped forward and 
lifted his hat. 

“Madam, I’m sorry to inform you that there has been a 
had accident-” he began. 

To Leslie the regretfully worded speech seemed intermina¬ 
ble—she thought the dry, precise voice would never finish 
what it had to say. Actually, hardly a moment must have 
elapsed, for, as a small procession of four figures carrying a 
stretcher passed her and entered the house, she knew exactly 
what they bore—the senseless body of her husband. There 
had been an accident on the Dover road. His car had col¬ 
lided with another and he was seriously injured. 

Leslie looked stupidly at the suit-case in her hand. It 
seemed to mock her with its futility. It signified going away 
—escape. And there could never be any going away, now. 
The suit-case had no longer the slightest meaning. Hardly 
conscious of what she was doing, she laid it down on a nearby 
chair, and, turning, followed the small, terrible procession 
up the stairs. 

3 

Leslie’s clear, tranquil voice ceased and she let the news¬ 
paper from which she had been reading aloud slide down 
on to her knee. 



Comrades 221 

“I can’t see to read any more, Bruce,” she said. “Wait a 
moment, and I will switch on the lights.” 

“Ho, don’t.” He stretched out a restraining hand. “Let’s 
sit and talk by the firelight.” 

She smiled rather wistfully. Light or dark, it was all one 
to Bruce Daimer now. The injuries he had suffered in the 
motor accident had been more serious than even the doctors 
had at first supposed. A couple of smashed ribs and a 
broken collar-bone were among the least of them. The worst 
injury had been to his head, and had affected his eyes. It 
was long before the bandages could be removed, and before 
that time came a great oculist had given it as his verdict that 
it would be impossible to save the patient’s sight. 

After the first wild recoil, terrible in its intensity, of a 
man cut off in his prime from all that signified life, Daimer 
had faced the blow with a pluck that was amazing. To 
Leslie, overwhelmed by the tragedy of the affair, his fine 
courage seemed to bring back the lover of her girlhood—the 
man who, at a. moment when it had seemed as though her 
father’s mismanagement of his affairs must engulf the whole 
family in misery, had coolly and competently taken the helm 
and saved the situation. And with that revival of earlier 
memories came a quiet determination to stand by the man 
whom fate had stricken in so terrible a manner. She could 
never leave him now. There was no longer any question of 
carrying out a bargain, paying back a debt. There remained 
only his great need of her. And to that need Leslie answered 
as the eternal woman always will answer to the needs of her 
men-folk. 

It was over two months now since Bruce had been allowed 
downstairs—four since the day of the accident itself and 
despite the long strain of his illness, and the subsequent 
strangeness of the life to which she had had to accustom her¬ 
self, Leslie had extracted from it a new, quiet happiness. 
The mere fact of Bruce’s absolute dependence on her had 
called forth all that was best and finest in her, and the bitter- 


222 Waves of Destiny 

ness which she had long felt towards him had heen wiped 
out by the infinite pity which his misfortune awakened in 
her. 

Save for a deep scar across the cheek-bone, his face showed 
little trace of the accident which had robbed him of his 
sight. Sometimes, looking into the keen, hazel eyes, so 
utterly unaltered, it seemed to her almost impossible of 
belief that they could not see. And then some awkward, 
fumbling movement of arm or hand, a lurching stumble 
against chair or foot-stool, served to bring vividly before her 
the full realisation of the terrible truth. Even now, as he 
suggested talking by the firelight, his eyes seemed to seek her 
own just as any other man’s might. Yet they missed meeting 
them. 

“Leslie”—Bruce spoke with a slight effort. “You’ve had 
a pretty rotten time since my accident. I wish you’d go out 
more—take up your usual life again.” 

“And leave you ?” she said, smiling. 

He nodded. 

“Yes. And leave me sometimes. I can find my way about 
the rooms alone now—if I go carefully. And you can’t be 
tied to a blind man’s side day in, day out,” he wound up 
irritably. 

“I don’t mind it-” she was beginning, when he inter¬ 

rupted abruptly. 

“That’s nonsense. You’re only trying to deceive yourself 
and me when you talk like that. You’ve been inexpressibly 
good to me—but there’s a limit, and I’m not going to take 
everything you choose to give.” 

“I—owed you a good deal, Bruce,” she said quietly. 

He sprang to his feet with a sudden impulsive movement 
that frightened her lest, not seeing, he should hurt himself 
against some piece of furniture, and involuntarily she jumped 
up, too, and laid a quick, guiding hand on his arm. The 
next moment she felt it caught and held determinedly. 

“Haven’t you forgotten that, yet—what I said about your 



, Comrades 223 

keeping your part of the bargain?” he demanded bitterly. 
“God knows I’ve wished it unsaid a hundred times. I’ve 
sometimes felt that—all your goodness to me—has only been 
a part of the bargain!” 

She let her hand remain in his. 

“When I said I owed you a good deal, I was thinking of 
something quite different,” she answered quietly. 

“What, then?” 

“Must I tell you?” 

“I think so. Leslie”—his arm slipped round her shoulders 
and the sightless eyes appeared to search her face—“Leslie, 
these last few months seem to have brought us closer together 
.—back to where we started from seven years ago. Don’t let 
anything stand between us—again.” 

“This will, I’m afraid,” she replied wistfully. She, too, 
felt as though the years had rolled back, and now, if she told 
Bruce the truth he asked of her, perhaps the new under¬ 
standing which had grown up imperceptibly betwixt them 
since his accident, and the quiet happiness she had been 
learning to know and value, would be at an end. She hesi¬ 
tated for a moment. Then at last she spoke. 

“Bruce, I don’t suppose you’ll forgive me—I don’t sup¬ 
pose you’ll ever quite understand what drove me into it. 
But, if our happiness is to last, to be worth anything, it 
mustn’t be founded on a sham. You say I’ve been 'good to 
you!’ Oh, my dear, far from being good to you, I was once 
on the point of leaving you altogether——” 

She felt the arm about her shoulders jerk. 

“Bor—Melville ?” 

She bent her head. “Yes. Bor Bex.” 

“And what stopped you ?” he said quickly. Why didn t 

you go?” 

She tried to speak, but her voice failed her and she stood 
looking at him with eyes blurred by sudden tears. 

“Was it—was it my accident?” he asked, with a strange 
gentleness. 



224 Waves of Destiny 

She turned and took a few restless paces away from him, 
then stood staring blindly out of the window. She hated 
hurting him as she knew her answer must hurt. 

“Yes.” The admission seemed torn from her. 

“Then—thank God for it!” he said quietly. “If it was 
that which has brought us together again, then it has been 
worth it—a thousand times over, and IT1 never grudge one 
minute of the bad time I went through.” 

She did not move from where she stood—only gazed at 
him with eyes in which the dawn of a great happiness 
struggled with incredulity. 

“Do you mean—did you care, then, too—all the time ?” 

“Did I care V 9 —passionately, “Care ? Didn't you know 
I cared V 9 

“You never let me see it!” 

A look of utter astonishment overspread his face. 

“I did everything in my power to show you. Who else 
did I work to make a fortune for ? Didn't I give you every¬ 
thing a man could give the woman he worshipped—cars, 
dresses, jewels! Was any slightest wish of yours ever left 
ungratified V 9 

While he spoke the past unrolled itself before her eyes—■ 
clear to read like some hitherto incomprehensible code of 
which she had suddenly been given the key. 

“Yes,” she said swiftly. “You gave me everything, Bruce 
<—except your confidence . You treated me like a doll—like 
a child to be petted and spoiled and scolded as the mood took 
you. Never as a wife. You kept me outside all the big, real 
things in your life—never let me share your worries and 
anxieties. You gave me candy and ice-cream, when I was 
starving for bread. But when you lost your sight, then you 
needed me—not as a woman to be petted, but as the woman 
who could be your mate-*-your comrade——” She broke 
off, shaken with the intensity of her own emotion. 

“Needed you?” he said slowly. “I've always needed you. 
There's never been a moment when I haven't needed you— 1 



Comrades 


225 


only apparently I’ve been as big a fool as other men and 
gone the wrong way about to make it clear. But that’s over 
now.” Before she knew what he was about to do, he strode 
swiftly towards her. She uttered a sharp cry of warning, 
fearful lest he should stumble against a chair that stood 
between them. But he did not pause. Instead, he stretched 
out his hand and, grasping the chair, twisted it out of his 
path. 

“Bruce!” She stepped back in amazement. “You saw— 
you saw that chair! You must have seen it!” 

“Saw it? Of course I saw it! Just as I see you, too, 
beautifullest.” 

“But—but—the doctors—your blindness!” she stammered 
wildly.. She felt as though everything were reeling round 
her. 

He laughed triumphantly. 

“The doctors found out what was wrong—and put it right 
—weeks ago.” 

“Weeks ago ? Then why—why did you let me go on be¬ 
lieving you were blind ?” 

He took her in his arms. 

“Because I found that my blindness—my utter depend¬ 
ence on you—was bringing me back the wife I’d lost. And 
so I pretended—went on letting you believe I was blind until 
I was sure —sure that no misunderstanding could ever set 
us apart again. It’s been devilish hard—playing a part, 
keeping from you the glorious truth that I could see, letting 
you do things for me when I was aching to do things for 
you. But it’s been worth it, because it’s given me my com¬ 
rade-wife. Worth it to me, at least.” He paused. “And 
for you, Beslie ? Has it been worth it, too ? 

Her eyes met his—seeing eyes looking gladly into other 
eyes that saw. 

“You know it has,” she answered. “Comrades, Bruce—* 
always.” 


CHAPTER XIII 


THE REAL THING 

1 

A SEA like a vast blue lake, crystal-smooth in the wind¬ 
less calm of the afternoon and flecked here and there 
with the brown or white sail of a fishing-smack. Overhead, 
the deep sapphire-bine sky of mid-summer, tremulous with 
a myriad infinitesimal points of light and paling into a pearly 
mist on the edge of the far horizon. All around, a warm and 
drowsy silence, unbroken by man or beast. 

Suddenly, against the shimmering haze of pearl and amber, 
a black speck showed, poised like a bird betwixt the sky and 
sea. Then the speck grew bigger, widened wing-like, and 
the still air pulsated to a distant humming. 

Soon—in an incredibly short time it seemed—outspread, 
motionless wings glinted silver in the sunlight, the hum¬ 
ming deepened to the rhythmic beat of an engine, and an 
aeroplane swept into view, skimming towards the green- 
crowned clifis that hemmed the shore. 

Presently she began to plane down, dropping on a long, 
sloping line as a bird may drop, and at last she landed with 
unerring precision on the short-cropped grass of the downs, 
ran a few yards, and came to rest. 

The pilot and his passenger—a woman—scrambled out, 
and the latter hastened to divest herself of the heavy coat 
that enveloped her, emerging from it slim and supple, and 
graceful as a young birch. Then she pulled off the close- 
fitting cap she was wearing, and the sun glinted delightedly 
on a mass of chestnut hair, touching its loosened strands to 
gold. 


226 


The Real Thing 227 

“Oh! It was glorious!” she exclaimed ecstatically.; 
“Thank you —thank yoUj Carden!” 

The man stared down at the exquisite face lifted to his. 
Her eyes were as darkly blue as the sapphire of the sky 
above, and the swift rush through the air had whipped her 
cheeks to a rosy flush. 

“Glad you liked it,” he said gruffly, adding with a faint 
smile: “It was worth the price, then ?” 

“The—-the price?” she stammered, the flush deepening 
in her cheeks. 

“Yes—the kiss that you promised me.” 

“Oh!” The blue eyes laughed at him provocatively. 
“You didn’t expect me to pay, did you?” 

The man’s face hardened. It was not a handsome face, 
but strong and clean-cut, with the eager, unflinching, wary 
eyes of those whose safety depends upon the keenness of 
their vision. For the rest, there were grim lines about his 
mouth, born of a past that held neither faith nor love, but 
only disillusionment. > r # 

“It was the bargain between us,” he said steadily. Have 
you forgotten?” 

She tapped her foot impatiently on the ground. Ol 
course she hadn’t forgotten! She had been wild to go flying, 
coaxing and imploring Carden Burke to take her. And he, 
because this was a new machine he was testing, had at first 
refused. Then she had put forth all her charm--and the 
charm of Celia Bendall when she chose to^ exert it was a 
source of dire peril to any mere male within the radius of 

its influence. , , 

“Very well,” she had retorted. If you wont take me, 
some one else will. And I swear I’ll kiss the first man 
who does!” 

“Is that a bargain ?” Burke had asked quickly. 

She nodded defiance, and he had clinched the matter then 

and there. 

“Done!” he said, "I’ll take you. 


228 Waves of Destiny 

Celia Rendall was twenty-three, and had flirted her way 
successfully through the last six years of her life without a 
check, making promises and breaking them, and taking 
hearts and breaking them, too, with the avid, irresponsible 
curiosity of a child dissecting a fly, and quite oblivious of 
the cruelty involved. 

She was essentially a modern product, and thanks to a 
society mother whose thoughts were bounded by auction and 
clothes, and to a father of bachelor tastes, whose primary 
object in life, apparently, was to avoid his parental and 
marital obligations, she had been early inoculated with the 
easy cynicism of the times. 

She was not really intentionally ruthless. It was merely 
that she chanced to be an exceptionally pretty woman, at 
whose feet innumerable hearts had been cast, while her own 
still remained her exclusive property. Splendidly immune, 
and utterly ignorant of the realities, she regarded marriage 
as a cage, and the lovemaking that preceded it as the gilding 
designed to conceal the bars, whilst the desire to attract was 
as inborn in her as is the hunting instinct of a tiger. 

Up till now, a torrent of hot words, of reproaches non¬ 
chalantly swept aside, had constituted the only consequence 
of her airy incursions into that region where hearts are 
trumps. But Celia had hitherto been dealing with men of a 
totally different calibre from the grim-looking, square-jawed 
individual who faced her now, demanding the fulfilment of 
her lightly uttered promise. 

“Of course I’ve not forgotten,” she acknowledged smil¬ 
ingly. “But I only said I’d kiss you in order to get my 
own way! I never meant to do it.” 

“Well, I mean you to, anyway,” replied Burke bluntly. 
“A bargain’s a bargain.” 

She laughed lightly. 

“My dear man, a woman’s promises are never made to be 
kept! They’re like cream—they spoil with keeping.” 

He drew a step nearer to her. 


229 


The Real Thing 

“I allow no one—neither man nor woman—to play fast 
and loose with me,” he said, and there was something ominous 
in the quiet of his voice. “Celia, are you going to keep 
your promise?” 

“Why, no,” she returned. “Of course I 7 m not. Don’t 
"be so absurd.” 

“Then, by God, I’ll make you!” he exclaimed savagely. 

He had come close to her side, and now, with a sudden, 
swift movement, he caught her in his arms and held her, his 
eyes searching her face. 

Por a moment they stared at each other—the grey, hawk¬ 
like eyes, and the half-frightened blue ones—the next, he 
had kissed her fiercely, exultantly, crushing the red, curved 
lips beneath his own. 

“Celia, I love you—love you! When will you marry 
me ?” The words leaped from him, dominating, demanding; 
no question of will or will not, but only of time—how soon ? 

Celia, released from his iron grip, shrank away from him 
apprehensively. Then, regaining her poise by a supreme 
effort, she retorted with forced gaiety: 

“Marry you? Never, my dear Carden! You’ve taken 
your payment whether I would or no—that’s more than most 
men have done, by the way! Be thankful for small mercies.” 

But he swept her levity aside. He, himself, was des¬ 
perately in earnest. 

“What do you mean ?” he exclaimed hotly. “You’re not 
going to pretend you didn’t know I loved you—didn’t know 
I meant to marry you ? Why, what do you suppose we’ve 
been leading up to all these months ?” 

“Leading up to ?” she queried with a delicate hesitation. 
“I don’t think I understand you.” 

“What has this summer meant to you, Celia? Hasn’t it 
meant love and-” 

“The summer has meant nothing at all to me—no more 
than any other summer,” she interrupted hastily. “And I 
don’t think the word love has ever been mentioned.” 


230 


Waves of Destiny 

He stared at he? unbelievingly. 

“Meant nothing to you? I don’t believe it! Haven’t 
we played and talked and dreamed together? Oh, I know 
the word love has never been mentioned, but you knew as 
well as I did where we were drifting.” 

She faced him coolly. 

“I really don’t know what you were doing, Mr. Burke. 
Jhat’s your own affair. But I wasn’t drifting—any¬ 
where !” 

Her smiling indifference seemed at last to shake his con¬ 
fidence. His face changed a little; doubt leaped suddenly 
into his eyes. 

“It’s a lie!” he muttered, his voice vibrating oddly. “A 

lie! Ho woman could—no woman-” He broke off 

abruptly. Then, coming quite close to her, he put his hand 
beneath her chin and tilted her face up to his, staring down 
at it. 

“Answer me!” he said violently. “Have you only been 
fooling me all these months ?” 

Celia wrenched herself away from him. 

“You’ve been fooling yourself, I think,” she said, “if you 
imagined that I was in love with you.” 

There was a long silence. Then— 

“And I—I thought you more angel than woman! I wor¬ 
shipped you—I would have given the whole world for the 
right to shield you, sacrificed anything to save you from a 
moment’s pain, spent myself to the uttermost in serving 
you!” 

She listened to him, and a light, ironical smile curved her 
mouth. 

“Oh, no,” she said at last, shaking her head. “That’s only 
what you think you’d do. It’s a very pretty picture—but 
only a picture, after all. Love, to a man like you, means 
conquest, possession, getting what he wants at any price. 
It’s only to women that love means service and sacrifice. 
And as I never had any tendency towards self-sacrifice—I 



The Real .Thing 231 

keep out of love! It’s much safer—and makes life more 
amusing.” 

The cool, calculated cynicism of her words struck him 
like a blow. And the substratum of truth they contained 
stung him to a very fury of resentment. 

“And you call yourself a woman!” he exclaimed contemp¬ 
tuously. “A woman with those sentiments! Faugh!” 

She laughed amusedly. 

“Oh, Mr. Burke, believe me, the days are gone of the 
trusting, clinging little fool, with pink sugar icing sentiments, 
who was content to make a burnt offering of herself on the 
nearest male altar.” 

“I believe you,” he replied grimly. And, turning on his 
heel, he retraced his steps to his machine and busied him¬ 
self re-starting the engine, while Celia made her way home¬ 
wards alone across the downs. 


2 

Just where the broad slope of the downs abutted on to 
the dusty white highroad, Celia encountered a young man— 
a big, broad-shouldered young man, with a good-humoured, 
sunburnt face and a pair of startlingly blue eyes. 

She became alive to this latter fact with rather unnerving 
suddenness by finding the said eyes fixed upon the top of 
her head in an undisguised stare. Instinctively she put her 
hand up, only to be reminded that in discarding the close- 
fitting cap she had been wearing whilst flying she had left 
herself minus headgear of any sort or description. 

“I beg your pardon!” exclaimed the young man im¬ 
pulsively, interpreting her gesture. 

“What for ?” she asked non-committally. 

“For staring like that.” 

“I don’t belong to the FTo-Hat-Brigade,” volunteered CeBa. 
“Though I’ll admit it looks like it.” 

“You ought to,” said the young man earnestly, his eyes 


232 Waves of Destiny 

resting once more on tlie coronal of chestnut braids, gleam¬ 
ing like burnished copper in the sunlight. “It’s it’s so 
perfectly glorious!” 

A faint smile curved Celia’s lips. 

“Thank you,” she answered, and then went on her way 
down the road, while the young man stood aside, bare-headed, 
for her to pass. 

Oddly enough, the memory of the brief encounter—and 
of those surprisingly blue eyes—haunted her continuously. 
The recollection was accompanied, too, by a curious little 
thrill which Celia never remembered having experienced 
before. She was also conscious of an inexplicable wish that 
there might be a repetition of the meeting. 

There was—but in the more conventional surroundings 
supplied by a little dinner at the house of a mutual friend, 
when the blue-eyed young man resolved himself into one Jim 
Laurence, the nephew and heir of old Sir James Laurence, 
the owner of half the county and also of large sums invested 
in securities that justified the name. In these socialistic 
days, so many securities don’t. 

Jim was a very direct young man. If he wanted a thing, 
he always forged straight ahead in the endeavour to obtain 
it, and having decided, the very first moment he set eyes on 
her, that he wanted Celia, and was likely to want her still 
more as years went on, he started in at once to make her the 
sharer of his views. 

Celia, accustomed to toy with hearts as an epicure with 
a new dish, suddenly found herself swept onward at a head¬ 
long pace that admitted of none of the sham little wiles and 
coquetries that are the current coin of the flirt—breathlessly 
hurried into a vibrant reality, wherein a man gave her the 
whole of his big, sane love and insistently claimed hers in 
return. 

And he obtained it. Which goes to support the theory 
that a citadel which has resisted many a carefully planned 
siege may sometimes be taken by storm. 


233 


The Real Thing 

Jim simply didn’t give Celia time to flirt with him. He 
loved her and he let her know it, and when she had recourse 
to the old-established strategy of her kind and attempted to 
trifle with the situation in a dilettante kind of manner, he 
broke all the rules of the game and declined to he trifled with. 

He stood up before her, very tall and straight and with 
very shining blue eyes, and said: 

“Look here, darling. You know I love you, and you 
either love me in return or you don’t. I hope you do. In 
which case I’ll stay here and we’ll get married just as soon 
as we possibly can. But if you don't, why then, say so, and 
I’ll go away right now. It’s up to you to tell me which I’m 
to do.” 

’And Celia, realising that he meant every word he said, 
told him to stay, and the engagement became an accomplished 
fact. 

The news spread quickly in the neighbourhood, finding its 
way at last to the little cottage where Carden Burke had 
established himself, and near which he had built a huge 
shed for the housing of his aeroplane and a workshop in 
which to make his experiments. Whereupon he engineered 
a chance meeting with her. 

“So you haven’t been able to keep out of love, after all,” 
he remarked sullenly. “I understood you considered that 
marriage was a mistake ?” 

“I believe it depends a great deal upon the man one 
marries,” replied Celia out of her newly-acquired wisdom. 

“I see. And I’m—the other man, I suppose V 9 

She regarded him consideringly. 

“Yes, I think you are,” she agreed. 

3 

“We’ll spend our honeymoon on Laurence Island,” an¬ 
nounced Jim, when the wedding-day had taken to itself a 
date. “Don’t you think it would be a topping idea, darling S” 


234 Waves of Destiny 

Laurence Island was an outlying portion of Sir James’s 
property—a few acres of land which the encroaching sea, 
year by year eating into the coast, had so far failed to con¬ 
quer. Smiling and triumphant, this little chip of the main¬ 
land held its own—a rock-hound oasis of verdant green in 
the midst of the blue water. 

“There’s a jolly little wooden shanty there,” pursued Jim, 
“where we could have our quarters, and we could bathe and 
boat and fish and enjoy ourselves without any Paul Pry 
nosing round to spoil the fun. People are so dashed in¬ 
terested in honeymooners.” 

“What about food?” demanded Celia practically. 

“Oh, one of the boats could bring over provisions every 
day or two. And we’d hire a woman to cook for us.”. 

“That might be as well,” admitted Celia, “seeing that 1 
don’t think I could even boil an egg with any certainty of 
the thing being a success.” 

“Lord! How badly they bring you girls up nowadays!” 
murmured Jim fondly. “Well, I’ll slip across to the island 
to-morrow and overhaul our quarters—find out what we shall 
need and so on.” 

It was a grey morning when Jim set sail for the island. 
Banks of sullen-looking cloud had massed themselves low 
down on the horizon, and an angry spume tufted the broken 
surface of the sea. 

“Is it safe?” Celia asked a little nervously. 

“Safe?” 

Jim’s ringing, boyish laugh answered the question more 
effectively than a dozen reiterated assurances, and as Celia 
watched from the shore the little craft dance its way over 
the grey, crested waves, the vague apprehension she had 
experienced ceased to trouble her. 

But her peace of mind was soon snatched from her, for 
early in the afternoon the threatened storm broke with 
appalling suddenness. 

Heavy clouds stretched out long arms and gathered the 


The Real Thing 235 

whole sky into their embrace; the wind caught up the sea 
into huge mountains of slate-coloured water and flung them 
down again with a swirl of yellow foam and splintered 
spray, while the blinding rain drove like some ghostly army 
before the gale. 

Celia, drenched to the skin, stood on the beach amid a 
little group of keen-eyed fishermen, scanning the grey waste 
of water for the sight of a sail. 

But no sail showed. Only, where Laurence Island lay, a 
shroud of spray from the breakers beating against its rock- 
strewn coast hung continuously in the air. 

“Don’t ’ee worry, missie,” said one of the fishermen kindly. 
“Young master’ll not be for leaving the island to-day. He’ll 
make himself snug in yon cabin what’s there.” 

“But he’s got no food with him,” cried Celia. “He’ll be 
faint with hunger before morning.” 

“Aye, mebbe he will. But ’tis better to be hungry than 
dead,” replied the old man sagely. And during the long 
hours of desperate suspense that came after, those words 
rang mockingly in Celia’s ears: “ ’Tis better to be hungry 
than dead.” 

Throughout the following night and morning the storm 
raged unabated, and in the afternoon some wreckage was 
cast up on to the shore—broken, drifting pieces of something 
that the fishermen identified as a boat, the boat in which 
Jim had set sail the previous day. 

Celia besought the men to take out the life-boat and try 
and make the island, but they only shook their heads with 
the quiet, submissive fatalism of those that go down to the 
sea in ships. 

“She couldn’t live in such a sea, miss. She’d be swamped 
inside ten minutes.” 

Ho entreaties, no offer of reward, could induce them to 
risk it. They knew the utter futility of such an effort, and 
Celia could have killed them for what appeared to her their 
stubborn apathy. Amongst themselves they accounted Jim 


236 Waves of Destiny 

as already lying far below the surging tumult of grey waters, 
and as one of them bluntly told her: 

“ >Tis no good risking the living to save the dead.”. 

“But he’s not dead!” persisted Celia. “He’s on the island 

_p m sur e of it! And if you don’t get him off he may die 

from hunger and thirst. You said yourselves that he’d never 
attempt to leave the island in this storm!” 

“There’s the wreckage,” they reminded her. “They spars 
was from the Mary Anne sure enough. And if so be you’re 
right, miss, and he’s still safe on the island, he must bide 
there a bit. Ho boat could land there while the seas be 
running mountains high.” 

In those hours of racking anxiety, with the stark fear of 
death standing at her elbow, Celia learned to know the mean¬ 
ing of love as her butterfly soul had never before conceived 
it. She realised that Jim, and Jim’s safety, mattered to her 
more than anything in the whole world. And she was power¬ 
less to secure it! 

But was she? All at once it came into her mind that 
there was one man who might yet help her—Carden Burke, 
the flying man! He alone could land on the island far out 
of reach of those terrific breakers that barred away the life¬ 
boat. 

The fact that she would have to swallow her pride and ask 
a favour of the very man whom she had dismissed with con¬ 
temptuous indifference so short a time ago did not trouble 
her, for to this new Celia, up against the big realities of love 
and death, pride had become a very little thing. 

Half an hour later, Carden Burke, lazily smoking in front 
of the log fire he had lit to keep out the cold and damp of the 
afternoon, opened the door of his cottage in answer to a 
hurried knocking. Outside stood a woman, her wet clothed 
clinging limply to her slender limbs, her chestnut hair, 
loosened by the wind, whipping her white face. 

“Miss Kendall—Celia!” he exclaimed, involuntarily 
stepping back a pace* 


237 


The Real Thing 

She crossed the threshold swiftly. 

“Yes. I want your help.” 

In a few words she had told him how matters stood, while 
he listened, pipe in hand. 

“And now, will you go ?” Then, as he made no answer: 
“Oh, my God! Don’t hesitate! You’re the only man who 
can save him—the only man!” 

“I’m afraid the fishermen may he right, and that it’s 
too late to save him,” he said slowly. 

“But there’s just a chance—a chance!” she cried implor¬ 
ingly. “He may he there—on the island—hurt-” She 

broke off and covered her face with her hands, shuddering. 

“Do you love him—like that?” he asked jealously. 

She dropped her hands and met his insistent gaze. 

“Yes,” she said simply. 

Burke strode across to the window and looked out. 

“It’s dirty weather,” he muttered. “It would he taking a 
big risk.” 

She peered at him. 

“You’re—you’re afraid!” she cried scornfully. 

“Ho, I’m not,” he replied, turning round from the window. 
“I’m merely wondering if it’s worth it.” 

“Worth it?”—in puzzled tones. 

“Yes. You see, I want you myself—and you’re asking 
me to go to the rescue of the other fellow. Why should I ?” 

“Why should you? Why should you?” she repeated. 
“Oh, don’t you understand? It’s his life —Jim’s life!” 

“And does his life mean so much to you ?” 

She faced him steadily. 

“More than anything else in the world,” she answered 
quietly. 

He was silent a moment. Then he turned to her with an 
odd smile on his dark, grim-featured face. 

“Look here,” he said. “I’ll make a bargain with you. 
You tried to break your first bargain with me, but you’d 
have to keep this one. I’ll go to the island—if you’ll promise 



238 


Waves of Destiny 

to marry me, the promise to hold good whether I find 
Laurence there or not.” 

For a little space she stared at him uncomprehendingly. 
Then a look of horrified understanding dawned in her eyes, 
and she backed slowly away from him, step by step, till she 
stood leaning against the wall, her hands stretched out on 
either side of her, pressed hard against its surface. 

“Oh! You—you brutel” she whispered hoarsely. 

Burke regarded her dispassionately. 

“I may be,” he said coolly. “But I know what I want, 
and, like other men, I try to get it. Those are my terms; 
take ’em or leave ’em.” 

An illimitable silence followed. It seemed to Celia as 
though a gulf had opened suddenly at her feet—a bitter gulf 
which must swallow all that her world might hold of happi¬ 
ness. 

Her eyes, desperate and incredulous with horror, sought 
Burke’s face, but there was no relenting in the stubborn set 
of his close-lipped mouth. 

At last she spoke. The words came haltingly from her 
dry throat. 

“Very well. I’ll—I’ll marry you. But you must go at 
once. Do you hear —at once V’ 

Burke nodded. 

“I’ll run the machine out now,” ,he said. And opening 
the door, he strode out into the wind and rain and across 
the field to the big shed where his aeroplane was housed. 

4 

Jim, white-faced and shaken, lay on his bed with one of 
his legs in splints and a dark bruise on his forehead. 

When, after much difficulty, due to the high wind, Carden 
Burke had at last succeeded in landing on the island, it had 
been to find Jim stretched on the floor of the shanty with a 


239 


The Real Thing 

broken leg to bis credit. He bad rashly made an attempt to 
leave tbe island on tbe afternoon of tbe storm, be told Burke, 
but bis boat bad been dasbed to pieces against tbe rocks, 
whilst be himself bad been carried up on to tbe shore by the 
waves and flung down, bruised and unconscious. 

When be returned to bis senses be bad dragged bimself 
painfully, an inch at a time, to tbe little log bouse, and 
there be bad lain, helpless and lapsing at times into uncon¬ 
sciousness, until Burke bad found him. 

It bad been a difficult job, transferring a man with a 
broken leg to the aeroplane, but somehow tbe dogged, grim¬ 
faced airman bad accomplished it, and then bad come tbe 
swift flight through the waning storm and tbe landing upon 
tbe downs, where Celia, whose belief that Jim would be 
found on tbe island bad never faltered, was waiting with a 
doctor and a motor-car in attendance. 

And now, two days later, she was standing at tbe foot 
of Jim’s bed, telling him tbe cost at which bis rescue bad 
been accomplished. 

Jim’s bands, lying outside tbe bedsbeets, clenched them¬ 
selves slowly. 

“My God!” be muttered. “What a blackguard! What 
an out-and-out blackguard!” 

“Hot altogether, Jim,” she answered with reluctant jus¬ 
tice. “At least, Carden .Burke is a brave man. He took big 
risks—and I suppose be thinks he’s earned bis pay. Ho 
one else would go, remember.” 

“I’d rather you bad let me die than that you bad bought 
my life at such a price.” 

Celia slipped to her knees beside bis bed and laid her 
cheek against bis band. 

“I couldn’t, Jim—I couldn’t do that, dear.” 

Presently some one came to tell her that Carden Burke 
was waiting below to see her. 

Every drop of colour drained itself away from her face as 


240 Waves of Destiny 

she rose to her feet and, stooping, laid her lips to Jim’s. 

“Good-bye, dear,” she whispered, and then went slowly 
down the stairs to the room where Burke awaited her. 

He was standing with his back to the door as she entered, 
looking out of the window. He wheeled round at the soft 
sound of her entrance, but he did not advance to meet her. 
Instead, he remained where he was, staring at her from 
beneath frowning brows. There were heavy shadows under¬ 
neath his eyes; he had the air of a man who has watched 
through the night rather than slept. 

Celia stood still a few paces away from him. 

“You’ve—you’ve come to claim your bargain,” she said 
a little tremulously. “I’m ready, Carden.” 

He took a sudden step towards her. 

“So you’re ready to make your sacrifice, are you ?” he said 
with an odd, twisted smile. “Well, you needn’t! Th© bar¬ 
gain’s off.” 

“Off ? What do you mean ?” 

“I mean that I’m not going to claim it. You’re free. I’m 
only the other man—the odd man out. I know that. I’ve 
known it all along, I think, really, though I put up a fight 
against it.” He paused, then added quietly: “You thought 
it was only to women that love meant service and sacrifice. 
But love—the real thing—means the same to all of us, I 
guess.” , 


CHAPTEE XIV 


AKIN TO LOVE 

1 


T ONY! At last!” 

The exclamation was one of pure delight. The 
girl who uttered it made a movement as though to raise her¬ 
self on the couch upon which she lay, then dropped back 
against her cushions, a brief spasm of pain contracting her 
young face. 

Tony Eyrie’s gay blue eyes softened incredibly as he 
bent over her. 

“ ‘At last !’ You demanding young person!” he replied* 
smiling down at the girl. She smiled back happily in answer j 
she always understood the little friendly teasing note in 
Tony’s voice. “Why, did you want me sooner?” he went 
on, pulling up a chair and sitting down beside the couch. 

fhink I always^waniL-yQm’f There was a shade of 
wistfulness in the answer. “I was afraid you were going 
down to the lake without coming in to see me.” 

“Of course not, honeyflower. I expect we shall keep it 
up down there till midnight or later, by which time all good 
little girls will be in bed and asleep.” 

He spoke with a sort of playful camaraderie, as though 
she were more child than woman. And indeed that was very 
much how he thought of her. She had been no more than a 
child when he had first found her, lying unconscious by the 
roadside, where she had been flung by a restive cob she was 
riding, and the seven years which had elapsed since then had 
passed without Tony’s quite realising that she had grown 
into womanhood. 


241 


242 Waves of Destiny 

The fall from her horse had been responsible for an injury 
to the spine, and although the doctors still maintained that 
recovery was possible, their hopes in this respect had not so 
far materialised. Meanwhile, Margery Seymour spent her 
days on a couch, subject to more or less constant pain, and 
Tony Kyrle’s frequent visits were the brightest spots in what 
was bound to be, at best, a very weary and shadowed young 
life. 

The acquaintance begun through the medium of Margery’s 
misfortune had ripened into a close intimacy. Her parents, 
still young themselves, had taken an immediate liking to the 
tall, blue-eyed young man who had driven the child back to 
her home in his car on the day of the accident, and by this 
time they both regarded him more or less in the light of a 
younger brother whose welcome to their house went without 
saying. During the war he had invariably spent his leave 
with them, having no home of his own—unless bachelor 
chambers could be counted as such—and when he won the 
V.C. Mrs. Seymour had been as glad and proud as his own 
mother would have been had she lived to know of it. 

On the present occasion he had come down to spend 
Christmas with them, and to-night, taking advantage of the 
intense frost which had sheeted the lake with ice for more 
than a week past, the Seymours had organised a skating 
carnival, to which half the neighbourhood had been bidden. 

“Is Mrs. Amery to be there this evening ?” asked Margery 
presently, after making eager inquiries as to the proposed 
arrangements for the night’s festivity. 

A fleeting change of expression showed on Tony’s face. 
For a moment his blue eyes darkened till they looked almost 
black. 

“Yes. Marion—your mother told me she was coming,” 
he answered shortly. 

“I’m so glad. You always like her, don’t you, Tony?” 
He nodded, and she went on: “I don’t see how any one could 
help liking her. She’s so beautiful.” 


Akin to Love 243 

“Yes. She’s very beautiful.” His voice sounded remote. 

“And yet Janet—that’s my maid, you know—told me this 
morning that Mr. Amery is dreadfully unkind to her. They 
even say”—her voice dropping almost to a whisper—“that 
he beats her!” 

Tony made a sudden jerky movement.. Then he said 
angrily: 

“Janet should hold her tongue. She’s no business to tell 
you things like that. I suppose she’s been gossiping with 
one of the Amery Hall servants. Why didn’t you shut her 
up ?” 

Margery looked half scared at the sudden anger in his 
voice, and Tony continued indignantly: 

“It’s horrible to encourage servants’ gossip about a woman 
like Mrs. Amery.” 

The girl’s pretty head dropped. The least hint of dis¬ 
approbation from Tony’s lips was sufficient to bring dismay 
to her heart. Half child, half woman, his word was her 
absolute law. 

“I didn’t mean to—to encourage it,” she stammered, the 
tears very near her eyes. “I—you know I love Mrs. Amery!” 

“Of course you do!” Tony was filled with quick remorse. 
“Only, you see, kiddy, if we are Carol’s—Mrs. Amery's 
pals, you and t—we can’t let people like Janet discuss her 
troubles.” 

Margery nodded soberly. 

“Don’t tell her to-night—will you, Tony?” she besought 
him anxiously. “She might be vexed that I didn’t stop Janet 
from talking.” 

“Tell her?” Tony almost gasped. He couldn’t quite 
imagine any one telling Carol Amery, with her delicate little 
air of pride and aloofness, that one of the servants had 
declared her husband beat her! But—and at the mere 
thought his hands clenched—could it be possible that there 
was a grain of truth in the report ? 

Every one was aware that Bruce Amery and his wife 


244 Waves of Destiny 

didn’t get on too well together. Rumour had it that at times 
Amery drank heavily, and it was common knowledge that 
he was a man of uncontrollable temper. Was it possible 
that in one of his violent rages he had actually laid hands 
on the frail, exquisite woman who was his wife % Tony felt 
sick at the thought. 

As he walked across the park to the frozen lake, after bid¬ 
ding Margery a somewhat compunctious good night, his very 
soul rose up in revolt at the idea of Carol subjected to any 
man’s rough handling! It had been bad enough to know 
that she was tied to a sulky brute like Amery—she had let 
him see a little into the dark places of her life—but if Mar¬ 
gery’s tale were true, then matters must soon come to break¬ 
ing-point. 

He strode on rapidly, the crisp film of ice which encrusted 
each blade of grass and fallen twig crunching with a little 
protesting whisper beneath his feet. Suddenly, from close 
at hand, the jovial, inspiriting strains of a band blared forth 
on the frosty air, and a sharp turn in the path brought the 
lake into full view. Big bonfires blazed at intervals along 
its borders, so that the frozen surface was striped alternately 
with vivid patches of golden light, against which the darting 
figures of the skaters showed suddenly clear and distinct, 
and with stretches of gloom, mysterious with chequered 
moonlight, into which the figures disappeared and were 
swiftly blurred into vague, misty shadows. Coloured 
Chinese lanterns, borne on slender bamboo rods by some of 
the revellers, flecked the scene with unexpected gleams of red 
and gold and blue, looking like so many multi-coloured fire¬ 
flies skimming and dancing above the lake. 

Bor a brief space Tony’s eager gaze scanned the shifting 
crowd of figures. Then some unerring instinct took him 
straight to Carol’s side. She was standing by the bank, alone 
for the moment. On its slender neck, circled by sable fur, 
her small head seemed to Tony poised like some delicate 
flower, and when she turned her soft, violet-grey eyes upon 


Akin to Love 245 

him lie felt as though his heart had jumped suddenly into 
his throat. 

Almost without greeting the man and woman clasped hands 
and slid away together over the black, gleaming ice. They 
skated in silence—a silence that seemed to link them to¬ 
gether, bind them more closely than any words. It was not 
until they had reached the further end of the lake that she 
spoke. 

“Oh, Tony, it’s good to have you back again!” 

There was a little breathless catch in her voice, something 
urgent and appealing, that stirred him to the depths of his 
soul. 

“Have you wanted me ? Tell me quick, Carol! Has he 
been making you miserable again V 9 

They were standing in deep shadow. A great blaze of 
light flung across the lake by one of the leaping bonfires 
seemed to cut them off from the rest of the world, hemming 
them in together in a little shadowy world of their own where 
there was no longer any need for pretence and dissimulation. 
She bent her head. 

“Sometimes,” she said, “sometimes I think I can’t bear 
it any longer.” 

Impulsively he laid his hand on her arm and felt her 
flinch at his touch, drawing her breath sharply as though it 
hurt her. His face darkened ominously. 

“Why did you wince like that ?” he demanded quickly. 

The silence which answered him was more eloquent than 
any words. So it was all true—what Margery had told him! 

“Carol!” His voice shook. “Carol, is it—has he dared 
to hurt you ?” 

Still she remained silent, her woman’s pride shrinking 
from the question. 

“Tell me,” he insisted sternly. 

“It’s only when—when he’s been drinking too much, 
Tony,” she said at last. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing 
then. He’s always sorry afterwards.” 


2*46 Waves of Destiny 

“ ‘Sorry afterwards’! Look here, Carol”—he spoke with 
a certain grimness—“this has got to end. You’ll leave him 
*—leave him and come away with me.” 

She drew quickly hack from him. 

“Oh, no, no, Tony! We can’t do that!” 

“Don’t you care enough, then ?” swiftly. 

“You know I care I” Her voice throbbed. “You know I 
care! But sometimes I think, Tony, that what you feel for 
me isn’t—love. It’s just kindness and—and pity, and the 
dear, brave feeling that you can’t bear to see a woman bul¬ 
lied.” 

“I can’t bear to see you bullied! And I won’t either. 
Come with me, Carol. Dearest, let me take you right away. 
Then, later, when he’s set you free, we’ll be married, and 
I s#ear before heaven I’ll make you happy.” 

^.His arms went round her, his voice, eager, beseeching, was 
in her ears, and for a moment she yielded, suffering herself 
to be drawn into his embrace. | It would be so sweet, so un¬ 
utterably sweet, to be loved and sheltered and cared for by 
this man whose very touch sent her pulses racing, the sound 
of whose voice thrilled her from head to Toot,,-! 

“You will \ Carol, say that you will!” he urged imperi¬ 
ously. 

With an effort she drew away from him. 

“Ah, no! Ho, Tony. I can’t do that. Dear, it must be 
enough just to see you sometimes—like this. I must make 
it enough. I—I haven’t got the right to take any more.” 

“He’s given you the right!” fiercely. 

“Ho, he hasn’t. Hothing could really make it right.” She 
laid a light hand on his arm. “Don’t ask me any more, 
Tony. It’s too hard—to go on saying no. Please, dear!” 

He stooped and brushed her hand with his lips. 

“Very well,” he said at last in a stifled voice. “But re¬ 
member, Carol, if ever—whenever—your life gets too much 
for you, harder than you can bear, now or ten years hence, 


Akin to Love 247 

Pm always there, waiting for you. One word from you, and 
Pll take you away—and make you happy, dear.” 

“Pll remember,” she said gravely. “But—I don’t think I 
shall ever say that word, Tony.” 

“So you’re here!” A tall, broad-shouldered figure had 
skated up to them unnoticed, and they started apart at the 
sound of the sullen, angry voice. “So you’re here, Carol! 
What the devil do you mean by hiding yourself like this ? I 
told you I’d skate with you, and then, without a, word to me, 
you go off with some one else.” 

“I waited quite a long time and you didn’t come, Bruce,” 
replied Carol. “So when Mr. Eyrie asked me to go round 
the lake with him, I did.” 

“Well, I’m here now.” Bruce Amery ignored Tony’s pres¬ 
ence with an insolent deliberation. “So come along.” 

“I’m skating with Mr. Eyrie now,” said Carol quietly. 
“I’ll come with you later.” 

“You’ll do nothing of the sort, my dear,” answered her 
husband jealously. “You’re coming with me— now. A mar¬ 
ried woman’s place is with her husband. Come on.” 

He stretched out his hand, but as Carol made no move¬ 
ment to take it, he drew nearer and caught hold of her 
roughly by the arm. “Do you hear ?” 

A sudden .puff of wind blew the flames of the nearest 
bonfire towards them, and in the ruddy glare of their light 
Amery’s face showed dark and convulsed with anger. The 
slightest opposition served to rouse his temper. 

“Do you hear?” he repeated, at the same time gripping 
his wife’s arm with a force that crushed the tender flesh 
excruciatingly. 

“Don’t! Don’t, Bruce!” The cry was wrung from Carol’s 
shaking lips despite herself, and Tony sprang forward. 

“Let go, you brute!” he thundered furiously. 

t The next moment a savage, well-directed blow from Amery 
sent him reeling backward, and before he could recover his 


248 Waves of Destiny 

balance the former had skated away, dragging Carol with 
him. 

2 

Four days elapsed without Tony’s being able to obtain 
sight or sound of Carol Amery. It was as though, when her 
husband dragged her away from him that evening on the 
ice, a shutter had descended, cutting him off from all com- 
munication with her. 

By inquiry he had elicited the fact that the Amerys had 
been seen leaving the lake together. Apparently Bruce had 
hurried his wife off home without permitting her even to 
make her farewells to her hostess. 

By the end of the fourth day Tony was nearly mad with 
anxiety. He had wild thoughts of driving over to the Hall 
in his car and asking to see Mrs. Amery, hut maturer re¬ 
flection hade him refrain. At the best he would almost cer¬ 
tainly he refused admittance, and at the worst it was possible 
that Amery, furious at his temerity in coming to the house, 
might visit his ill-humour unpleasantly upon his wife. Bor 
her sake, Tony dared not risk it. 

But at last, on the afternoon of the fourth day, as he was 
striding savagely homeward from a fruitless journey to the 
village, whither he had betaken himself in the hope of a 
chance meeting with Carol, a note was thrust surreptitiously 
into his hand. The hearer of the note was the Amerys’ 
under-gardener, a pleasant-faced young fellow who, as Tony 
knew, was devoted to his mistress. Having delivered the mis¬ 
sive, he slipped away again into the December dusk without 
waiting for any answer. 

Tony tore open the envelope and, by the flickering light 
of successive matches, deciphered the faint, pencil-written 
contents of the letter. 

It’s no use, Tony, it ran. I can’t hear it any longer . 

Since the other evening he hasn’t allowed me out of his 


Akin to Love 249 

sight. But this afternoon he has gone off in the car, to, 

stay with some people he knows , and he will not he hack 

till Christmas morning .. Will you come to me?, 

Tony crushed the letter into his pocket and, swinging 
round on his heel, made his way swiftly in the direction 
of Amery Hall. 

Carol’s eyes were unusually brilliant and there was a; 
nervous tensity in her manner as she greeted him. 

“I’m at the end of my tether, Tony,” she said, speaking 
with enforced quiet. “I can’t bear any more. If you still 
want me—I’ll come.” 

He swept her up into his arms. 

“If I still want you!” he cried. 

The whole matter was very easily arranged. The next 
day, Christmas Eve, was to be the occasion of a dance given 
by the Seymours, to which Carol had, of course, been in¬ 
vited, and since Amery did not propose returning till Christ¬ 
mas morning it would be perfectly simple for Tony and 
Carol to disappear during the course of the dance and to be 
many miles away before Amery discovered that they had 
gone. 

“I’ll have my car waiting,” said Tony, “and if, to-morrow, 
you’ll pack just the few things you’ll need in a bag I’ll stow 
it away in the car some time during the day. Then, half¬ 
way through the dance, we’ll slip off. Ho one will miss us 
for a little while. If they do, they’ll only think”—with a 
brief smile—“that we’re sitting out somewhere together. 
And you shall have the happiest Christmas Day of your life, 
Carol—far away from here, at a little country inn I 
know of.” 

Her eyes searched his face. 

“Tony, am I taking too much from you?” she asked. 
“Are you sure—sure that you’ll never regret ?” 

“Sure,” he said stoutly. 


250 


Waves of Destiny 


3 

“Do go up and look in at Margery for a minute, will you? 
She’s dying to see your frock.” 

Mrs. Seymour smiled as she gave Carol a little push in 
the direction of the staircase. 

“You’ve plenty of time,” she added reassuringly. “The 
dancing won’t begin yet.” 

Carol nodded and sped swiftly upstairs to the invalid’s 
room, where a cry of pleasure welcomed her entrance. 

“Oh, Mrs. Amery, how darling of you to come up! I told 
mum to ask if you would.” 

Margery’s eyes sparkled as they rested on the charming 
chiffony vision in the doorway. She adored pretty clothes 
on pretty people with all the eager enthusiasm of one who 
was herself debarred from exploiting the mysteries of dress. 
There was something almost boyish in her frank, spontaneous 
admiration. 

“Lift me up, Tony, so that I can see her better,” she com¬ 
manded. And Tony, who had been standing in the back¬ 
ground, raised her with all the ease of his splendid young 
strength and the deft skill of long practice. Margery 
thanked him with a glance, then riveted her eyes on Mrs, 
Amery. 

“Doesn’t she look a darling, Tony ?” 

“Quite a darling,” he declared heartily. “But”—with 
mock indignation—“you’ve omitted to remark that I look a 
darling! Am I not also arrayed like a lily of the field ?” 

Margery gave him a small friendly grin as he sat beside 
her on the couch, supporting her with an arm about her 
shoulders. 

“You’re wearing a perfectly good suit—I’ll go as far as 
that,” she replied impertinently. 

“Ungrateful female! I’ve a good mind to put you down 
on your pillows again instead of making a blessed arm-chair 


Akin to Love 251 

of myself while you pour out sticky compliments for Mrs. 
Amery’s benefit.” 

Margery tucked herself more comfortably into the curve of 
his arm and laughed confidently. She had no fear of Tony’s 
carrying out his threat. It was always he who knew just 
how to lift her without hurting her hack, who waited on 
her hand and foot, and who was able to soothe her when the 
pain was almost more than she could hear. Often he had 
sat holding her in his arms for hours at a stretch, so that 
he was almost too cramped to move when at last sleep merci¬ 
fully stilled the pain and he was able to lay her down once 
more on her couch. 

“I think Tony spoils you,” said Mrs. Amery, laughing 
gently. 

“Yes. When he’s away I miss him dreadfully. You’ll 
never have to get married, Tony. I couldn’t spare you,” she 
added. 

A silence followed the innocent little remark. Carol 
flushed suddenly and uncomfortably, while an odd, troubled 
expression leapt into Tony’s eyes. His arms seemed to close 
a little more tightly round the slender girlish figure which 
they held. An instant later Mrs. Seymour’s voice was heard 
calling upon him to come and help her with some small de¬ 
tail of arrangement downstairs. 

Margery’s eyes followed him a thought wistfully. Then 
she smiled up at Carol as the latter seated herself beside the 
couch. 

“We all call upon Tony when we want helping,” she 

Said. 

Carol was silent. The simple truth of the little speech 
knocked at her heart. 

“He’s the most wonderful person in the world, I think,” 
went on Margery, happily. “ Ever since my accident he’s 
been down here constantly. Half the time I know he comes 
just to please me. When he used to come home on leave 


252 Waves of Destiny 

from the Front it would have been ever so much jollier for 
him in town. A tiny village like this must have been fright¬ 
fully dull for any one like Tony. But he never seems to 
think of himself.” 

As the girl chattered on, innocently revealing in almost 
every word she spoke, how much Tony meant to her, Carol 
began to feel as though she were an outsider, an intruder. 
The close, friendly intimacy between the two was so evident. 
And it seemed as though, for Margery, Tony symbolised 
everything that was good in life. 

“You think a tremendous lot of him, don’t you?” said 
Carol at last, baldly. Each word the girl uttered stabbed her 
like a knife-thrust. 

Margery turned upon her eyes that shone like stars in 
their radiant, confident belief. 

“You would, too, if you knew him as I do,” she an¬ 
swered quietly. “I think if Tony ever came—came below 
what I’ve thought him, it would kill me! Sometimes, you 
know, I’ve felt as if I just couldn’t go on—the world seemed 
all black, and I was too big a coward to face it. And then 
I’ve rememhered how plucky and splendid Tony is when 
things are difficult.” She paused, then added with a little 
dreaming note in her voice: “He’s always been like a white, 
shining light to me. Like—like Christ on His Cross.” 

Carol’s chair grated sharply on the floor as she got up 
and pushed it suddenly back. 

“I—I think I must go now,” she said abruptly. “Your 
mother will be expecting me.” Then, as Margery looked up 
in some surprise at the unexpected movement, she stooped 
over the girl and kissed her. “I’m glad you have had such 
a good pal in Tony,” she said gently. “It must have meant 
a great deal to you.” 

“Yes. It means everything,” answered Margery with 
simplicity. 

As Carol descended the wide staircase the strains of a 


Akin to Love 


253 


lively fox-trot were wafted up to her from the ball-room. 
The dancing had begun, then! Conscious of a sudden vio¬ 
lent distaste for the lights and the sound of music and gay, 
light-hearted laughter which she knew would greet her when 
she entered the ball-room, she turned hastily aside and made 
her way into the deserted library. A low fire still burned in 
the grate, and drawing up a chair she sat down and stared 
into its dying embers. 

Her talk with Margery seemed to have altered the entire 
perspective of things. Before that, she had hardly realised 
the full significance of what she and Tony were about to do. 
That their friends and acquaintances would judge them both 
and condemn, she knew, but it had seemed a matter which 
concerned themselves alone. If they chose to face the obloquy 
of the world in order to secure their happiness, they were 
surely at liberty to do so. And now, now she began to 
v wonder if they were! Was any one ever really free ? Were 
f we not all so linked together that no one of us can sin with- 
| out hurting some one else ? 

If she and Tony went away together, Margery would be 
left with her young, loyal faith and belief shattered into 
fragments. What was it she had said that Tony symbolised 
for her ? “A white, shining light!” “Like Christ on His 
Cross!” Carol repeated the words below her breath. And 
gbe—she was to be the one to drag Him down from it, to rob 
this child, who had so little, of the one thing that mattered— 
her unshaken belief in all that was good! 

And there was something else, too, something which Carol 
had vaguely sensed but against which she had striven to shut 
her eyes. Margery was the woman Tony loved, although, 
blinded by his eager sympathy for her own unhappy life, by 
■fche appealing glamour which inevitably surrounds a lovely 
and unhappily married woman, he had not yet realised it. 

But Carol had realised it. When she had seen them to¬ 
gether just now, she had Jcnown, Her own love for Tony 


254 . Waves of Destiny 

had shown her clearly that what he felt for her was not love 
itself* bnt that pity which is so much akin that it sometimes 
gets mistaken for it. 

She never knew how long she remained alone by the 
slowly-dying fire, fighting the biggest battle of her life. But 
when at last Tony came in anxious search of her, and found 
her there, her decision was taken. 

“I’ve been hunting everywhere for you,” he said, switch¬ 
ing on the light and advancing into the room. 

She smiled faintly. 

“Have you, Tony V 9 

Her eyes rested upon him rather wistfully as he stood there 
under the blaze of the electric light. He looked so young 
and strong and splendid—a lover of whom any woman might 
be proud. 

“Yes. Everything’s ready. We’d better dance a bit — 1 
show ourselves in the ball-room. It will help to put people 
off the scent.” 

“I don’t think it matters,” she said slowly. 

He stared at her. 

“You don’t think it matters ?” he repeated. 

“Ho. Because—because I’m not coming with you, Tony, 
after all.” 

She told him then—told him why she couldn’t go. Her 
voice shook a trifle as she went on, but her eyes were steady. 

“Margery loves you, Tony—and so I want you to marry 
her and make her happy. She deserves to be happy. I don’t. 
iAnd I believe that you—care for her. What you feel for me 
hasn’t been really love—it’s been a little glamour and ro¬ 
mance and—and a lot of pity, Tony dear.” 

Tony’s face was rather bitter. 

“And your feeling for me ? I suppose that, too, has been 
just ‘a little glamour and romance’ V 9 he asked harshly. 

For a moment she was silent. Then she gave an odd little 
laugh and lied courageously. 

“Yes. I suppose it has,” she said. 


255 


Akin to Love 

“That settles it, then.” 

He turned aside, ashamed of something within himself 
that leaped at the thought of freedom. Then he realised that 
Carol was speaking again—speaking of his marriage with 
Margery. 

“It would he a ‘make-believe’ marriage, but what else can 
there ever be for her? And you—you’ve been her make- 

believe saint-” Her voice rose hysterically. She felt 

her control deserting her. It was all so funny—so funny! 
With an effort she recovered herself. “But if you married 
her, Tony, she’d be utterly happy just because she was your 
wife.” 

He swung round towards her. She must know the truth—■ 
know the full value of the gift she was bestowing. 

“It mightn’t be a ‘make-believe marriage,’ ” he said slowly 
and distinctly. “Didn’t you know? That London surgeon 
who came down to see her the other day is absolutely sure he 
can cure her.” 

Carol caught her breath. Margery’s happiness would be 
more complete, even, than she had thought. 

“Still”—she forced the words through stiff lips—“still, I 
want you to marry her, Tony. I’m—I’m going back to 
Bruce.” 


There was a light under the study door. Carol could see 
the vivid golden streak of it as she stood in the dusk of the 
faintly illumined hall. Then—then Bruce had changed his 
plans and had returned to-night! That meant he must have 
found and read the letter she had left for him, telling him 
she was going away with Tony. She had left it on his study 
table, propped up against the inkstand. She had intended 
to destroy it now—destroy it so that Bruce need never know 
how nearly he had lost her. 

She wondered what he would do, now that he knew she 
had really meant to leave him ? She didn’t suppose for one 



256 Waves of Destiny 

moment that he would he heartbroken—he must have ceased 
to care for her in that way very long ago. But he would 
be furiously angry. Pride and jealousy combined might 
drive him to almost any extreme. Perhaps he would thrust 
her out of his house—at once, in the dark of Christmas morn¬ 
ing, while the dawn was still quivering low down in the east. 
There would be something grimly ironical about it, if he 
did. Or perhaps—her eyes fell on his hunting-crop, with its 
long leathern thong, which hung near the door, and she shiv¬ 
ered a little. For a moment she was tempted to hide it— 
Bruce in one of his ungovernable tempers was scarcely re¬ 
sponsible for his actions—and she lifted it down from the peg 
on which it hung. Then a certain dogged courage made her 
replace it. With a small, white-lipped smile she turned away 
and opened the door of the study. 

Bruce was sitting at the table. Under one hand, flung out 
across the polished surface, lay the letter she hed left for 
him. His face was hidden on his arm. He made no move¬ 
ment; apparently he had not heard the light sound of her 
entrance. 

She was conscious of a sudden rush of pity as her eyes 
fell on the broad, bowed shoulders. There was something so 
forlorn, so utterly desolate, about that big, lonely figure. She 
crossed the room to his side and touched him gently on the 
arm. 

“Bruce, Pve come back,” she said. 

He looked up. His face was drawn and haggard, scarred 
with intolerable grief, and as he raised himself she caught 
the metallic gleam of a revolver gripped in his hand. 

“Oh, my dear! Did you care—like that?” The words 
broke from Carol in low, shocked tones. She had not for one 
instant thought of him as hurt or grief-stricken, but only 
as violently angry. 

“Did I care?” he said in a queer strained voice. “God 
knows I cared! I suppose you didn’t know. I haven’t be- 


Akin to Love 257 

haved much as though X cared, have I ?”—with a wry smile. 

“No, you haven’t,” she answered with the direct sim¬ 
plicity which grows out of crises. 

“No,” he acknowledged. “I haven’t. I’ve been a brute to 
you, Carol. And yet, when I was in my right mind, I loved 
you as other men love their wives. It’s my cursed temper 
that’s done it—that and the devil in the whisky bottle. I 
suppose—I suppose it’s too late now to start again.” He 
glanced at her with a kind of dull surprise in his face. 
“Why did you come back ?” he asked curiously. 

She responded to the question with another. 

“Do you want me back, Bruce ?” 

“Do I want you back ?” he exclaimed violently. “Does a 
hungry man want bread ?” 

She moved a few steps nearer to him. 

“Then, if you want me, I’ll stay.” 

“You’ll stay ?” He stared at her incredulously. “Do you 
mean you’ll give me another chance ? You’ll forgive ?” 

She smiled a little. 

“It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that I nearly 
ran away with another man.” 

“Small blame to you if you did”—tersely. 

She shook her head. 

“Two blacks don’t make a white. They never did and 
they never will.” She paused. “Bruce, do you realise that 
it’s Christmas Day? Suppose we each make the other a 
present of forgiveness—give each other another chance and 
start fresh ?” 

He made an involuntary movement towards her, then 
checked himself. 

“Do you know what you’re offering?” he asked roughly. 
“It won’t be all plain sailing, you know. My temper isn’t 
cured just because I want you, and it’ll take a devil of a 
long time curing. And I don’t suppose”—with a rather 
cynical little smile—“that I’ve taken a sudden distaste for 


258 Waves of Destiny 

the stuff in the bottle, either. There’ll he ups and downs to 
face, my dear, before I can pull round. Are you prepared 
to go all the way with me V 9 

Carol looked at him with level eyes. 

\“A11 the way, Bruce,” she answered steadily. j 
Ife “drew in his breath sharply. Then his arms went round 

her. 

“It’s a pretty big Christmas present,” be said. 

And somehow Carol knew, from the way he said it, that 
he would not let the gift he given in vain. 


CHAPTER XV 


THE THIED ACT 

Dear Sir, 

I regret that I shall he unable to undertake any further 
typing for you until after the election, as I have promised 
my services during that period to one of the candidates. 
Trusting that I may again have the pleasure of typing your 
manuscripts when the election is over, 

Yours faithfully, 

A. M. Little . 

The foregoing brief communication was beautifully type¬ 
written and the signature appended in a very neat and 
methodical-looking bandwriting. 

Terence Dyke frowned disgustedly as be perused it. Miss 
Little was the typist par excellence who bad, for the past 
five years, wrestled successfully with the rather illegible 
scrawl of bis manuscripts, and her defection at precisely the 
moment when bis first play was ready for transcription was 
aggravating in the extreme. 

For a few moments Dyke remained staring at the unwel¬ 
come missive, bis thin, eager face clouded over with a kind 
of balf-bumorous dismay. 

“Oh, hang!” be muttered irritably, ruffling bis crop of 
brown hair with a boyish gesture. “Ob, bang!” 

Then, thinking it just possible that Miss Little might be 
able to put his play through before the election swallowed 
her up, he moved towards the telephone. 

But Miss Little’s answer to his appeal was uncompromis¬ 
ing. 


259 


260 


Waves of Destiny 


What? Oh! Can I suggest some one else? *es, tnere 
a Miss Grey I know, who is just starting work as a typist. 
What? Oh, yes, thoroughly trustworthy and very anxious 
to get on. Grey, not Graham Miss Prudence Grey. And 

then followed the address. . . , 

Reluctantly Dyke packed up his precious manuscript, 
and enclosing with it a curt little note of explanation, dis¬ 
patched it to this new and untried source. _ 

Prudence Grey—it was rather an attractive name, he 
thought, as he addressed the package. He could almost sense 
a whiff of lavender and the whispering rustle of flowered bro¬ 
cade as he repeated the little name aloud, while a whimsical 
smile curved his sensitive mouth and disturbed for a moment 
the dreaming quiet of his imaginative hazel eyes. 

Prudence Grey! Well, he hoped she would prove a little 
more business-like and up-to-date than her old-world name 
suggested, since it was important that his play, Expiation, 
should he quickly and carefully typed. 

The manager of the Wanderers’ Theatre was prepared to 
produce it, provided that Decima Gale, his leading lady and 
one of the first emotional actresses of the day, considered the 
star part sufficiently starry to add lustre to her name. 

Hitherto Dyke’s literary career had jogged along at an 
even and unexciting pace, supplying him with bread and 
butter and even with a few luxuries, but he looked to this 
latest piece of work to earn him the coveted laurel leaves of 
actual fame. He had put the very best of himself into it, 
and he was convinced that the play was good above the 
average. If only it appealed to Decima Gale, his success was 
assured! And at thirty years of age the prospect of success 
is very sweet, especially to a man like Terence Dyke who has 
worked hard for some years without achieving it. 

Within four days of its dispatch the manuscript of “Ex¬ 
piation” was duly returned, but as Terence fluttered the type¬ 
written sheets through his fingers his face lengthened with 


The Third Act 261 

disappointment. The typing was badly done, and had been 
subjected to many alterations and erasures, while on more 
than one page the lines displayed a regrettable tendency to 
deviate from their appointed straight and narrow path. 

Suddenly, as he was comparing an inaccurately copied 
phrase with the text of his original manuscript, he caught 
sight of a few words pencilled in the margin towards the end 
of Act III. He read them aloud, slowly and with consid¬ 
erable amazement for it is certainly no part of a typist's 
duty to co mm ent upon the author’s ideas! Most writers, in¬ 
deed, would be disposed to accept such comment in much the 
same spirit as the butler might be expected to receive any 
suggestions concerning his office that emanated from the 
kitchenmaid! 

Marcia would never have taken it lying down like that 
(ran the impertinent scribble). No woman would. It’s 
tame of her—third act, too! 

!For a moment wrath and indignation submerged every 
other feeling in Terence’s bosom. Then—for he was an 
honest craftsman—he began to ask himself whether the 
gratuitous criticism held any germ of truth enfolded in its 
gentle ridicule. 

“Marcia” was the heroine of his play, and the hero, hav¬ 
ing certain sins both of omission and commission on his con¬ 
science, and being desirous of making atonement for the 
same, had resolved upon a form of expiation which involved 
Marcia’s happiness in addition to his own. And Marcia, 
hitherto depicted as a very modern and vital young woman, 
had suddenly caved in and agreed to the immolation of her 
happiness with an almost Early Victorian meekness and 
resignation. The typist’s finger had pointed out the one 
weakness of an otherwise delightful play. 

Terence acknowledged this to himself frankly, hut he 
could not quite subdue a certain soreness of spirit as he 
reflected that it had remained for a little, unknown typist— 


262 Waves of Destiny 

and a very inferior one at that!—to detect a flaw in his 
characterisation which he himself had failed to observe. 

The situation was not without its humour, however, and 
there was a twinkle in his eyes as he sat down and indited 
the following brief epistle: 

Dear Madam, 

Possibly you are a better critic than typist. What 
would you have done had you been Marcia f 

Yours faithfully, 

Terence Dyke. 

He hardly expected to receive an answer, hut Miss Pru¬ 
dence Grey was apparently quite undaunted by the slur cast 
upon the results obtained in her legitimate field of labour, 
and she launched forth into constructive criticism con amore. 
Within three or four days Terence received a badly-typed 
but exceedingly well-expressed outline of Miss Grey’s con¬ 
ception of Marcia’s attitude, and at the foot was added a 
malicious little thrust in pencil: 

If you s d been a woman you would have known all this 
without telling. 

Terence grinned to himself. He saw very clearly the force 
of the suggestions contained in the brief sketch. They be¬ 
tokened a tenderly humorous insight into the workings of the 
feminine mind, and the vivid, impetuous style of writing was 
instinct with a vitality that irresistibly conveyed itself to 
him, imbuing him with fresh creative impulse. 

It was as though he had been groping in the dark and 
some one had suddenly held aloft a flaming torch, illumi¬ 
nating all that had been obscure. To Terence’s vision, 
Marcia’s character took on a new aspect, glowing with fresh 
life and colour; he felt an intimate knowledge of the man¬ 
ner in which such a woman would have acted in the given 
circumstances of the story, and his pen flew along at racing 
speed, depicting with sure, unfaltering strokes the woman 


The Third Act 263 

as he now envisaged her. And when, at the end of a six 
hours’ stretch of work, he flung it down, he was aware that he 
had doubled the value of his play. 

If he had had any doubts about it, they would have been 
swept away by the enthusiastic reception accorded it by the 
manager of the Wanderers’ and by Miss Gale herself. 

The latter was frankly delighted with it, and said so, her 
small hand with its firm, sensitive fingers gripping Dyke’s 
arm impressively, while the beautiful blue eyes she lifted to 
his were ablaze with ardour. 

“It’s fine, Mr. Dyke,” she declared. “It will make you— 
and me, too.” 

Terence, pleased and excited, beamed back at her. 

“You are already made, Miss Gale—but if my play satis¬ 
fies you, then I’m sure of its success.” 

“Well, it does,” she returned seriously. “I never thought 
it was going to be half so good.” 

The following weeks passed in a whirl of work and rushing 
excitement. Rehearsals of the play were soon in full swing, 
Decima Gale was enchantingly kind to its author, and Ter¬ 
ence lived in a state of exaltation that turned the grey old 
workaday world into a paradise of rose and gold. 

Blakely, the manager of the Wanderers’, was equally as 
confident of success as his leading lady. 

“It’s going to be an annual income to us all, my boy,” he 
prophesied cheerfully. “Best thing you’ve ever done by a 
long way. That third act’s a corker—and that’s what’s going 
to fill our pockets. The rest of the play’s mere framing; Act 
Ill’s the jewel.” 

And Act III had been inspired by Prudence Grey! 

Terence felt a sudden rush of gratitude towards the un¬ 
known woman who had set him on the right track, irradiating 
his third act with the tender luminance of her thought, and, 
now that he had received a favourable verdict, he determined 
to share the good news with her and beg her to let her name 
appear with his as part-author of the play. 


264 Waves of Destiny 

His conscience—always a very sensitive and over-devel¬ 
oped portion of his spiritual anatomy—assured him that 
if the chief asset of the play lay in the third act, then it 
followed that he was not entitled to the whole credit—nor 
even to the whole cash—that might accrue from its produc¬ 
tion. 

In this particular instance his conscience had doubtless 
been stimulated into abnormal activity by a certain glamour 
of romance with which his imagination had enveloped Pru¬ 
dence Grey. 

Unknown, hiding behind her prosaic task of typewriting, 
there lived and moved a woman who had instinctively under¬ 
stood all that he was aiming at in the character of Marcia, 
and that such a woman must be immeasurably attractive he 
felt convinced. 

A man is always disposed to idealise the woman who, 
wittingly or unwittingly, has acted as an incentive to him in 
his work and Terence had endowed Prudence Grey with all 
the vivid charm and passionate womanhood which were the 
attributes of the “Marcia” she had inspired. 

It was therefore not without a little thrill of pleasurable 
expectancy that ho set out for the rather obscure neighbour¬ 
hood indicated by the address which was stamped in purple 
ink on the back of Miss Grey’s manuscript. 

He found the place with some difficulty, and after mount¬ 
ing endless flights of stone steps, stood at last outside a door 
bearing the legend: 

Prudence Grey, Typewriting Bureau . 

His quick imagination got to work, conceiving the kind of 
woman he was about to meet. She would be tall, he thought, 
and her hair would be nut-brown, with warm red lights in it. 
He was sure she must have red in her hair—first because he 
loved hair that glinted to a ruddy sheen in the sun, and 
second because he had sensed in her writing the impetuous 


The Third Act 265 

warmth of temperament that so often accompanies that 
colonring. 

And then a voice invited him to enter, and he walked into 
the room. 

It was a small, high-ceilinged chamber, furnished in a bare 
and meagre fashion with three straight-backed chairs, some 
alphabetically lettered shelves—presumably intended for the 
reception of manuscripts, but now yawning in empty deso¬ 
lation—and a desk on which stood a typewriter that bore 
an unmistakably new and little-used appearance. 

A woman who was seated at the desk looked up as Terence 
entered and bade him good morning in a thin, reedy voice 
from which the vibrant note of youth had long since de¬ 
parted. She was a small, grey-haired woman. Her com¬ 
plexion had that curious waxen quality frequently bestowed 
by chronic ill-health, and beneath the skin of her temples a 
little tracery of delicate blue veins was faintly visible, em¬ 
phasising the faded colour of her eyes—eyes of soft, misty 
blue, like that of an old Wedgwood bowl, and now peering 
at him a little nervously from behind the spectacles perched 
upon her nose. 

Terence paused doubtfully on the threshold of the room. 

“I beg your pardon,” he said, “I called to see Miss Grey.” 

His eyes wandered round the small apartment as though 
he suspected Miss Grey of being concealed behind one of her 
own chairs. 

“Yes?” replied the unyouthful voice. “I am Prudence 
Grey. What can I do for you ?” 

“You V’ The word escaped Terence almost before he was 
aware. This peaky, withered little person in spectacles—‘ 
Prudence Grey? It was inconceivable! Prudence Grey 
must be —must be —young and ardent, glowing with vitality 
and charm. How else could she have written that throbbing, 
passionately alive delineation of a woman faced with the 
utter loss of her love and happiness ? 

This shrivelled, dried-up ghost of womanhood must have 


266 


Waves of Destiny- 

long ago forgotten the glorious thrill and glamour of love 
in the parched and arid years of spinsterhood that lay be¬ 
hind her. “You are Miss Grey?” stammered Terence. 

“Yes. What can I do for you? You have”—a faint 
flicker of hope sprang into the tired eyes—“some manuscript 
that you wish typed ?” 

“No—I mean yes,” said Terence, correcting himself with 
a sudden consciousness of his inability to quench that eager 
light. “I have, heaps. I'll—I’ll send them on to you.” 
Mentally he decided that several long-discarded short stories 
that had suffered from home-sickness in the earlier and less 
successful stages of his career should be retyped and given a 
fresh start in life. “But I really called to-day to see you 
regarding some work you undertook for me before. My 
name is Dyke—Terence Dyke,” he added in explanation. 

“Oh, yes. Wasn’t it”—anxiously—“wasn’t it satisfac¬ 
tory ?” 

“Oh, yes, quite/' he replied hastily. “But, you know, 
you did so much more than an ordinary typist and—er—gave 
me the valuable assistance of your criticism.” 

Miss Grey flushed a little and peered at him through her 
spectacles. 

“Oh, yes,” she said. “The—the bureau does occasionally 
exceed its duties, I’m afraid. It’s the interest we take in our 
clients’ work that leads us astray.” There was a delightful 
little air of pomposity about the way she referred to “the 
bureau”—rather as though it were a hierarchy of angels 
brooding over the footsteps of the aspiring author. “I—I 
trust,” she added with a sudden descent to the level of a 
somewhat flustered fellow-mortal, “that you didn’t consider 
it too officious—that you didn’t resent our suggestions ?” 

“JSTo—oh, no!” he assured her warmly. “They were most 
helpful. How”—curiously—“did you come to think of 
them ?” 

“IV ’—stammering and blushing. “I think of them?” 
Suddenly a flash of humour gleamed in her eyes. “I ask 


The Third Act 


267 


you, Mr. Dyke, do I look the sort of person to—to think of 
things like that?” She did not, as Terence grimly appre¬ 
ciated. 

“But—hut—then, who was it?” 

“It was the young lady who took charge of the bureau in 
my absence. I was away for a week; I had influenza.” 

Terence’s heart gave a throb of relief. Then the wonder¬ 
ful woman who had inspired the reborn “Marcia” was a 
living, breathing reality after all, and not this forlorn little 
relic of a bygone time! 

“And the name of the young lady who was in charge?” 
he suggested. 

Miss Grey shook her head. 

“Ah! I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to tell you that,” she 
.answered primly. “She is not a typist by profession, you 
see. She only obliged me for the time being—under the 
cloak of the bureau, as it were.” 

Hor could all Terence’s eloquent persuasion prevail upon 
her to enlighten him further. 

“But—don’t you see?” he exclaimed at last in despair. 
“I’m really greatly indebted to this lady. I want to thank 
her.” 

“The bureau is very glad to have been of service, Mr. 
Dyke,” she replied with immense dignity. And there, per¬ 
force, the matter ended. There was no getting behind the 
shutters of the bureau. 

It was but human nature that the mere fact that there 
were difficulties in the way of his tracing this unknown typist 
should arouse in Terence an obstinate determination to dis¬ 
cover who she was and all about her. 

He inquired in every likely and unlikely direction, and 
now and again discreetly worded advertisements appeared in 
several of the daily papers. But the “lady typist who had 
criticised the third act of a certain play” and who was in¬ 
vited to “communicate with T. D” remained obstinately 
silent, discreetly veiled in mystery. 


268 Waves of Destiny 

Weeks passed, and as the time approached for the produc¬ 
tion of his play Terence found himself so fully occupied with 
the hundred and one details which demanded his attention 
that the matter of the unknown typist inevitably slid into 
second place. He still wondered about her at odd moments, 
still regretted that he could never repay the good turn she 
had done him, hut he had at last accepted the fact that his 
search for her was unlikely ever to prove successful. 

And, as the one woman slipped gradually into the back¬ 
ground of his thoughts, another woman stepped into her 
place—Decima Gale the actress, who so vividly realised the 
part of “Marcia,” and all that her creator had dreamed into 
it, that it was a perpetual delight to him, during rehearsal, 
to stand quietly by, watching her every gesture, listening for 
each inflection of her beautiful voice. 

The first night of the play came at last—a sheer triumph 
for both author and actress. The house rose at him when, in 
answer to persistent calls of “Author,” Terence at last showed 
himself in front of the curtain, bowing his acknowledgments, 
and it was then that the remembrance rushed over him once 
more, in overwhelming force, of the woman to whose influence 
and inspiration he owed this indisputable success. 

Half deafened by the roar of the applause, his eyes roved 
questioningly over the sea of white, upturned faces. Was 
hers among them, he wondered ? Somehow, he felt sure that 
if she were anywhere within reach, she would have come to 
the first night of “Expiation.” 

Rather thoughtfully, and with bent head, he retraced his 
footsteps into the wings, to be greeted by a message that 
Miss Gale was waiting to see him. 

He hurried to her dressing-room—fragrant with the 
sheaves of sweet-scented flowers offered at the shrine of the 
popular actress—and her congratulations, tendered with a 
curious little air of diffidence, set the seal upon the evening’s 
triumph. 

“But why so serious?” she rallied him, as he thanked 


The Third Act 269 

her gravely. “The play might have been the most ghastly 
frost, to judge from your expression!” 

Terence hesitated a moment, then something in the frank, 
kind friendliness of the blue eyes that were searching his 
face, drew the whole story of the manuscript of “Expiation” 
from his lips, and he blurted out the truth. 

“I feel,” he said, “an absolute humbug.” 

Decima Gale looked at him oddly. 

“So that’s what’s worrying you, is it ? I don’t fancy”— 
with an amused smile—“that most successful dramatists 
would think twice about the ‘ghost’ who had lent a hand.” 

“I don’t see how any one could do otherwise,” he replied 
simply. “Here am I reaping both the laurels and the cash, 
while all the time, the real creator—the inspiration—of that 
third act is getting nothing out of it. Don’t you see”— 
irritably—“it puts me in a horribly false position?” 

“And you’ve no idea who—or where—she is ?” 

“Hone. I’ve done my utmost to trace her. I—I should 
like to collaborate with her, you know. By heavens!”— 
kindling—“what parts we two would create for you, 
Decima!” 

As he spoke, his voice must have betrayed his secret to 
any but the most dull and love-blind of mortals—and the 
woman with whom a man is in love is rarely to be included 
in that category! Decima flushed a little, and a soft shining 
grew in her eyes. 

“Perhaps,” she suggested, “she—your unknown, I mean— 
might not feel quite so enthusiastic about creating parts— 
for me.” 

“I think she would,” he answered. “You see, she must 
understand your type of woman so well—or she could never 
have inspired ‘Marcia.’ ” 

“Supposing”—Decima’s Angers were busy stripping the 
petals from a rose—“supposing I told you that I know who 
she is—and that she is reaping her harvest just as much as 
you are?” 


270 Waves of Destiny 

He regarded her with bewildered eyes. 

“But—how could that be ?” 

Miss Gale looked back at him consideringly. 

“The leading lady"—she paused delicately—“won’t do so 
badly out of this play, you know l” 

“What?” Terence stared at her, incredulity struggling 
with the dawn of comprehension. “Do you mean to tell me 
that you, you were the typist ?” 

She nodded. 

“Yes. Poor Prue—Miss Grey, you know—is my old gov¬ 
erness, and she had no sooner opened her Typewriting 
Bureau’ than she fell a victim to influenza. She had just 
obtained your work through Miss Little, and she was so 
fearfully upset, poor old dear, at the idea of losing it that 
I undertook to do it for her. And when I saw how you were 
blundering over ‘Marcia,’ I—I simply couldn’t resist putting 
my finger in the pie.’’ She looked at him apologetically. 
“The play was so fine, Terence, so splendid, except for 
Marcia’s behaviour in the third act. And I felt I knew 
just what Marcia really would have done—and what, inside 
yourself, you really wanted her to do.” 

Terence’s eyes glowed. 

“Of course you did,” he said simply. “Because—you are 
Marcia, the woman I wanted out of the whole world of 
women. I thought I should never find her, so I just drew 
her as I imagined her to be. And then you came along, and 
showed me what she would really be—and it was something 
so infinitely more than I had guessed! Decima”—he held 
out his arms—“now that I have found her—my woman out 
of all the world—you won’t take her from me again ?” 

She went to him then, simply and straight as a homing 
bird. 

“Ho,” she said, “I won’t take her from you, because—oh, 
my dear, she doesn’t want to go.” 


CHAPTER XYI 
his brother’s keeper 

1 

TT was a good thing the foundations of Little Croft had 
been well and truly laid. The hurricane of wind sweep¬ 
ing across the moorland fairly howled round the sturdy, 
square-built house, tearing at the eaves, and shaking the 
heavy oaken doors as though it sought to uproot it bodily 
from the solid earth on which it stood, while rain and hail, 
driven before the gale, rattled against the window-panes like 
miniature gunfire. 

“Beastly night!” observed Colin Trenby, leaning forward 
in his chair to poke up the fire. “Pity any one who’s out 
in it.” 

A man of six-and-thirty or thereabouts, seated on the other 
side of the wide, old-fashioned hearth, glanced up indiffer¬ 
ently. 

“I shouldn’t imagine there is any one. The moorland 
folk have sense enough to go in out of the rain.” And his 
eyes fell again on the pages of the hook he was reading. 

“Then you’re jolly well mistaken!” exclaimed Colin, 
jumping up to his feet. “There is some one out in it. Do 
you hear that ?” 

“That” was the hoot of a motor-horn, repeated urgently 
several times, and sounding close at hand, and the next in¬ 
stant, during a momentary respite from the uproar of the 
wind, came a hurried tapping at the window. In a couple 
of strides Colin had reached the door, and was out in the 
square hall into which it opened, and a minute later came 
the grating noise of holts withdrawn, and the creak of the 
271 


272 Waves of Destiny 

heavy outer door as it swung wide, followed by a confused 
murmur of voices, one of them unmistakably feminine. 

“I couldn’t make any one hear.” The voices drew nearer. 
“So I told my chauffeur to tootle the horn while I rapped on 
the window. I was determined to get in somehow ’’ 

“I should think you were!” 

Colin had begun some eager answer, but the man within 
the room paid no heed to it. He had risen quickly to his 
feet, startled by a curiously familiar note in that other voice 
■—the rippling, flute-like voice which crossed and mingled 
with Colin’s. A fleeting look of annoyance—almost, it 
seemed, of apprehension—passed over his face, and his eyes 
went swiftly to the figure which preceded Colin into the room. 
Sex, feminine—and for the moment that was practically all 
that was discoverable. A green, fur-edged motor-cap, pulled 
well down on to the head, and the big fur collar of a similar 
green leather coat, between them almost entirely concealed 
the newcomer’s features, while high Russian boots meeting 
the flounce of fur which edged the coat completed the cos¬ 
tume. A flash of topaz-golden eyes between thick lashes, 
and the tip of a rather impertinent little nose was about all 
the outward woman visible. 

“This is Miss Verity Daryll, of the Cosmopolitan 
Theatre,” began Colin eagerly. “Her car’s broken down. 
Miss Daryll, let me introduce my brother Simon-” 

“I think we’ve met before.” But there was no welcome in 
the man’s grave voice. 

Miss Daryll pulled off a gauntleted glove, and held out 
her hand. 

“Why, of course we have!” she replied. “At the 
Sacheverels’, wasn’t it? I hope you don’t mind my taking 
refuge here from the storm ?” She spoke airily, but an ob¬ 
servant ear might have detected the faintest note of defiance 
in her tones. Colin, however, was far too enraptured at the 
moment to be observant. 

“He’ll be only too charmed, Miss Daryll,” he assured her 



His Brother’s Keeper 273 

eagerly. “He’s rather an old stick-in-the-mud”—with an 
affectionate glance at his brother—“but he means well.” 

In spite of a certain family resemblance of tone of voice 
and gesture, there was a marked contrast between the two 
Trenbys, and Miss Daryll’s glance went curiously from 
Colin’s clean-cut young face, with its gay blue eyes and fair 
hair with the rebellious kink in it that no amount of fero¬ 
cious brushing would subdue, to that of the elder man—lean 
and rather saturnine, with grave grey eyes, and a mouth that 
closed in a straight, unyielding line. 

“You’re thinking we’re not a bit alike?” said Colin 
quickly, interpreting her questioning glance. “But you see, 
we’re only half-brothers—not the real article at all. Though 
it doesn’t make a bit of difference to us, except in the shape 
of our noses. Does it, old chap ?” 

Simon Trenby’s eyes softened oddly as they rested on the 
boyish face. It was obvious that this young stepbrother of 
his, fifteen years his junior, meant a good deal to him. 

“Don’t you think,” he suggested, “that it would be rather 
more useful at this juncture if you helped Miss Daryll out 
of her motor-coat and ordered tea, instead of discussing the 
fine points of our relationship? Meanwhile,” he added, 
turning to the visitor, “I’ll go and see what can be done 
about your car.” 

Verity nodded and proceeded, with Colin’s assistance, to 
disembarrass herself of her heavy motor-kit, emerging slender 
and delightful in the latest thing in frocks, riotous with em¬ 
broideries in apparently every colour under the sun, and 
belted with a sash very low down on her hips. Accepting one 
of Colin’s cigarettes, she curled herself up in the chair Simon 
had vacated, and proceeded to expound with much cheerful¬ 
ness the series of mishaps which had culminated in her un¬ 
ceremonious onslaught upon the windows of Little Croft. 

“I don’t know what we should have done if we hadn’t 
happened across your place. We’d lost our way, and the 
engine was knocking like a steam-hammer, while the floor 


274 Waves of Destiny 

of the car resembled a pond more than anything else. Does 
it usually deluge like this in your part of the world ?” 

“Not often,” replied Colin. “This is about the worst 
storm we’ve had for the year. All the same,” he added 
audaciously, “I’ve no complaint to make against this par¬ 
ticular tempest.” 

“Nor have I.” Verity smiled back at him enchantingly. 
“Only I’d like to let the unfortunate friends who were ex¬ 
pecting me know that I’ve found refuge here. They’ll be 
wondering what’s happened to me. Of course you’ve no tele¬ 
phone ?” 

“Of course we have . Phone them that you can’t get to 
them till to-morrow.” 

She hesitated. 

“You can’t, you know,” insisted Colin. “Even if Simon 
and your chauffeur get the car into working order, you can’t 
possibly turn out again on a night like this. It’s perfectly 
respectable,” he added reassuringly. “We’ve an old gem of 
a housekeeper who stands for all the proprieties rolled into 
one.” 

Verity burst out laughing. 

“I don’t think that point would have bothered me much. 
And it’s awfully good of you. I’ll be thankful to stay if—if 
your brother doesn’t object.” 

“Simon! Of course he won’t. Why, you’re quite old 
friends, aren’t you ?” 

“Hardly that,” she submitted. “We both stayed at the 
same house once for a week-end. And frankly”—with a 
fleeting smile—“I don’t think he particularly liked me.” 

“Nonsense!” protested Colin stoutly. “He couldn’t help 
liking you. No one could.” 

“Thanks so much. Well, let’s say he disapproved of me, 
then.” 

It was some time before Simon returned from investigat¬ 
ing the trouble with the car, and when he did it was to disr 
cover Colin and Verity consuming unlimited quantities of 


His Brother’s Keeper 275 

tea and hot buttered scones, and apparently on the very best 
of terms with each other. A burst of gay young laughter 
over some ridiculous joke or other synchronised with his en¬ 
trance. He was suddenly conscious of feeling old—old and 
tired. 

“I’ve given my housekeeper orders to prepare a room for 
you, Miss Daryll,” he said rather stiffly. “Your car can’t 
be put in running order before to-morrow, and in any case 
you couldn’t possibly face this storm.” 

Verity glanced up at him from under lids shadowed with 
faint purple. 

“I’m sorry to be such a nuisance,” she murmured. 

“Hot at all.” But there was no cordiality in his dis¬ 
claimer, and Colin, flashing a quick look of protest at his 
brother, enthusiastically protested his satisfaction over the 
contretemps which had procured them the pleasure of Miss 
Daryll’s company. gg 

At dinner she appeared radiant in another creation, of gold 
and green tissue, which she had extracted from her suit-case. 
She had extracted other things too, to repair the ravages 
effected by wind and rain, and her strikingly pretty face 
was made up to look, if not prettier, at least more striking 
than nature had intended. Simon took in at a glance the 
darkened brows and lashes, the faint mauve shadows that 
deepened the setting of her eyes, the scarlet lips that were 
quite frankly and rather adorably the delicately pencilled 
work of a lipstick. A veiled scent emanated from her vi¬ 
cinity—something Eastern and elusive, that made you think 
of rose-leaves and sandalwood and moonlit gardens, and des¬ 
perately sweet music. . . . 

“Do you take mustard ?” Almost savagely Simon pushed 
towards her the little silver mustard-pot that stood with its 
salt and pepper brethren betwixt his plate and hers. 

“Hot with soup, thank you,” she replied meekly. And 
Simon, with a muttered ejaculation, hastily substituted the 
pepper, and relapsed into angry silence. 


276 Waves of Destiny 

But his silence had apparently no power to damp the en¬ 
joyment of the other two. They squabbled happily over 
the salted almonds, which they both adored, argued heatedly 
over the latest dancing-steps, and discussed everything they 
could think of from the probable date of the end of the world 
to the origin of the Blues. And all the time Colin hardly 
took his eyes off Verity's charming face, and equally she pre¬ 
tended to be totally unaware of the fact. 

After dinner she sang to them, playing her own accom¬ 
paniments, snatches of song from the various musical come¬ 
dies in which she had appeared. Simon sat listening with 
bent head and unsmiling mouth, and not even the most provo¬ 
cative of her little songs, sung with that same grace and im¬ 
pertinence which nightly packed the Cosmopolitan Theatre 
from floor to ceiling whenever she was playing there, gave him 
the least apparent enjoyment. On the contrary, he seemed 
relieved when the evening came to an end, and jumped up 
with alacrity to light Miss Daryll's bedroom candle for her. 
Meanwhile, Colin stood murmuring extravagant boyish com¬ 
pliments in her ear. 

“You must come and see me in London,” she answered him 
charmingly. “We open next month—a topping new musical 
comedy, The Chrysanthemum . Don't you''—she glanced 
round the old, oak-raftered living-room—“don't you ever 
come to town?” Then, her glance taking in the essential 
“rightness” of Colin's evening kit: “You look as if you did.” 

He nodded. 

“We gravitate between Mount Street and this place. At 
least, I do. Old Simon digs himself in here most of the year 
round.” 

“Ah! But how foolish!” She bestowed a brilliant smile 
on Simon. “How foolish to—to vegetate like that!” 

“You think so ?” Simon parried the smile bluntly. “I'm 
afraid I can't agree. I find nothing to attract me in 
London.” 

The next morning, amid a burst of sunshine and a flurry 


277 


His Brother’s Keeper 

of farewells, Miss Daryll departed, smiling above the arm¬ 
ful of flowers which Colin had rifled from the greenhouses 
right under the irate nose of the dour old gardener. 

“Colin, I want you a moment,” Simon laid a detaining 
hand on the boy’s arm. 

“Yes, old man, what is it ?” Colin answered abstractedly. 
His thoughts were really with the big touring car which was 
carrying Verity Daryll away along the ribbon of road that 
crossed the moors. 

For a moment Simon did not speak, but stood staring down 
into the fire. Then he said slowly: 

“Look here, Colin boy, cut the Cosmopolitan out of your 
scheme of things. Will you ?” 

“What do you mean ? Why, Miss Daryll has asked me to 
go and see her there.” 

“Precisely. Don’t go.” 

Colin was up in arms in a moment. It was absurd, mon¬ 
strous, behind the times to talk like that. Oh, yes, of course, 
he knew his brother had a down on actresses, but nowadays 
they were amongst the most charming of women, and wel¬ 
comed everywhere. Did he wish him—Colin—to become 
an absolute back number ? Et cetera, et cetera. 

“I’ll ask you one question,” said Simon at last. “Do you 
suppose Miss Daryll would have invited you to come and see 
her if she hadn’t known you were pretty well endowed with 
this world’s goods V 9 

Colin blustered. 

“How could she know? She happened in here quite by 
accident,” 

“Quite.” Simon’s expression was non-committal. “But 
she’d met me before at the Sacheverels’, and you’re as well 
aware as I am that Mrs. Sacheverel knows the amount of our 
income to the last half-penny. And what Mrs. Sacheverel 
knows, all her friends and acquaintances know. Take my 
word for it, Colin, a successful actress like Miss Daryll would 
have no earthly use for a young man with empty pockets.” 


278 


Waves of Destiny 

But Simon’s warning fell on very stony ground. Tlie pro¬ 
duction of the new musical comedy at the Cosmopolitan 
Theatre found Colin installed in the Mount Street house, 
and it was very soon known to all those whom it concerned— 
and to a good many whom it did not concern at all—that 
in the evenings young Trenby was generally to be found in 
Miss Daryll’s dressing-room, while during the day she was 
constantly seen driving with him in his car or lunching or 
supping with him at the most expensive places in town. 

2 

“Will you come this way, sir?” A trim parlour-maid 
ushered Simon into the room, pausing in the doorway to 
add: “Miss Daryll is not down yet. I will tell her you are 
here.” Then she vanished, leaving him to take stock of the 
room in which he found himself. It was very much of the 
type that he had expected it would be. Plain wall-paper 
with a frieze of absurd purple camels trekking across a scar¬ 
let desert, futurist rugs on a polished floor, while neutral- 
coloured chairs and divan served as a background for black 
cushions splashed with rich-hued embroideries, on one of 
which sprawled a black and white pierrot doll, its long legs 
straggling limply. The piano, chimney-piece, and any other 
available space appeared crowded with signed photographs of 
theatrical celebrities, boxes of cigarettes and chocolates, and 
big bowls of flowers. In the place of honour stood a large 
new photograph of Colin. 

Simon crossed the room to examine it, and stood for a 
few moments regarding it thoughtfully. The boy had altered 
during the last few months, he thought. The blue eyes had 
hardened a little. They were more experienced eyes, and 
the mouth held a shade of recklessness. While he was still 
staring sombrely down at the photograph, the door flew open 
and Verity entered the room. She was wearing a thick silk 
Chinese kimono, gaily embroidered in what appeared to 


279 


His Brother’s Keeper 

Simon to be a combination of cherry blossom and brilliant- 
hued fireflies. Her hair was loosely knotted in a great 
bronzy coil at the nape of her neck, and between her fingers 
she held a cigarette. Apparently she had been interrupted 
in the process of manicure, for while one hand was tipped 
with vividly pink nails, those of the other gleamed rather 
anemically by contrast. She started as she caught sight of 
Simon. 

“You!” she exclaimed in surprise. “I thought it was 
Colin. The maid only said ‘Mr. Trenby’ was here, so of 
course-” 

“Of course. He’s such a regular visitor, isn’t he?” ob¬ 
served Simon. 

“Well—-yes, he comes here pretty often.” The golden- 
brown eyes shot sudden defiance at him. “Do you object ?” 

“Yes,” he returned bluntly. “I do. That’s why I’ve come 
to see you.” 

Miss Daryll regarded him with a faint, enigmatical smile. 

“Well, you’re frank, anyway,” she said, seating herself 
on the divan. “Won’t you sit down—and have a cigarette ? 
If it’s to be a prolonged seance we may as well do it com¬ 
fortably.” 

Simon sat down but declined the cigarette, and as though 
deriding his curt refusal, she herself lit another from the 
stump of the one she held and delicately puffed a cloud of 
smoke into the air. Then she humped the cushions more 
comfortably together at her back and regarded him quizzi¬ 
cally from between narrowed lids. 

“Well ?” she said helpfully. 

Simon hesitated. 

“First of all,” he said at last, “I want to know if it’s Hue 
that you’ve promised to marry my brother—to marry Colin ?” 

She nodded. 

“Perfectly true.” 

“And may I ask why ?” 

Verity’s eyes widened. 



280 


Waves of Destiny 

“Why? Well, why does one usually promise to marry 
any one?” she drawled. 

“For a variety of reasons. Sometimes for money, some¬ 
times for position, sometimes merely to annoy other 
people-” 

He paused, and Verity put in swiftly: 

“And sometimes—for love. You’ve left that out.” 

“Yes. I’ve left that out,” he answered. “Was I wrong 
to leave it out ?” 

Beneath the direct inquiry of his glance she flushed and 
looked away. 

“Was I ?” he repeated steadily. 

“I don’t think I’m called upon to give you my reasons for 
marrying Colin,” she returned. “After all, they only matter 
to him, don’t they ?” 

“Ho,” he said abruptly. “They don’t. They matter to 
me, because Colin matters to me, more than anything in the 
world.” 

“And you don’t like actresses, do you ?”•—mockingly. 

“Ho, I don’t.” 

“You showed me that—quite clearly—when we met down 
at the Sacheverels’.” Something, resentment or anger—or 
was it merely pain ?—smouldered darkly in her eyes. 

He threw her a quick glance of interrogation. 

“And is it because of that—because of that—you are de¬ 
termined to marry Colin ?” 

“I don’t like being snubbed, Mr. Trenby. I’m not used 
to it.” The answer came back like a rapier-thrust. “But, 
do tell me”—with a resumption of her usual nonchalance— 
“why don’t you like actresses? We’re quite nice—really.” 

He was silent a moment. Then: 

“Yes. I’ll tell you,” he said quietly. “I don’t like ac¬ 
tresses because it was an actress who ruined my father’s 
life. She was Colin’s mother, and my father simply wor¬ 
shipped her. And before Colin was a year old she had run 
away with another man—an actor—and returned to the 



His Brother’s Keeper 281 

stage. Not even mother hood”—his voice deepened—“could 
hold her. It broke my father—I was just old enough to 
understand it. He was never the same man again, and when 
he died, five years later, he left Colin—Colin whom his 
mother had deserted—in my care. And I want to save him 
from being broken as my father was broken. . . . He’s— 
he’s only a kid, and doesn’t know yet what—love—means,” 
he added. 

“But all actresses don’t run away. Lots of them leave the 
stage when they marry, and become patterns of domestic 
respectability.” 

“Once an actress, always an actress. The footlights always 
call, and you’d go back to them. Because”—quietly—* 
“you’re not in love with Colin, and love is the only thing 
which would make the sacrifice of your career worth while.” 

“You’re quite sure I’m not in love with Colin ?” 

“Quite. And that’s why I’ve come to you to-day to make 
you an alternative proposal.” 

“A proposal ?” There was a curiously uneven note in Miss 
Daryll’s voice and a faint shell-pink crept into her cheeks. 

“Yes”—composedly. “If you will agree to release my 
brother from his engagement to you, I propose to settle two 
thousand a year on you.” 

The shell-pink vanished suddenly and in the dead white¬ 
ness of the face she turned towards him her eyes gleamed like 
frosty stars. 

“So”—she said slowly. “You think I’m to be bought ! 
You’re offering to—to buy me off ?” 

“You put it very crudely,” he returned. 

“It was a crude offer.” 

“It was a reasonable offer. Marriage with a man of 
Colin’s means has other sides to it than”—cruelly—“the 
merely romantic one. You’re a woman of the world— 
nearly seven years older than Colin—and I was speaking to 
you as such. Need we wrap up the real significance of this 
interview V 9 


282 Waves of Destiny 

Verity jabbed tbe end of her cigarette down on tbe black 
Wedgwood ash-tray and extinguished its glowing tip. 

“And I suppose/’ she said in a high, rather strained tone 
of voice, “it hasn’t occurred to you that Colin may have no 
desire to be ‘released,’ as you call it ?” 

“Certainly it has. But it would be up to you to deal with 
that side of the matter—to cure Colin of his infatuation. 
That would be your part of the bargain.” 

She sprang to her feet with a swift, fierce movement of 
supple limbs. 

“Which I flatly decline to carry out! You can keep your 
two thousand a year, Mr. Trenby, and I”—her eyes flared 
defiance at him—“will keep Colin.” 

Mechanically he had risen to his feet when she did, and 
now he stood looking down at her, conscious of an odd sur¬ 
prise and bewilderment. He had been so sure that the money 
would tempt her, but, in the face of her flat refusal of his 
offer, he was beginning to wonder if he had utterly mis¬ 
judged her. With his ingrained prejudice and hostility to 
all her kind he had assumed that Colin meant no more to her 
than a financially satisfactory settlement in life. And now 
—now he was asking himself if, after all, she really cared for 
Colin ? 

He remembered his first meeting with her. They had both 
arrived by the same train at a little wayside station in Devon¬ 
shire, and shared the same car, sent to meet the expected 
guests, on the fifteen-mile run from the station to Sacheverel 
Park. At the time he had had no idea of his fellow- 
traveller’s identity, and there had been something about her 
—a frankness in the golden-brown eyes, a certain simplicity 
underlying all the sophistication evident in the finished detail 
of her toilet and her careful “make-up”—which had attracted 
him. Afterwards, when his hostess had formally presented 
him and he learned that his companion of the journey was 
the leading lady at the Cosmopolitan Theatre, he had experi¬ 
enced a violent reaction, and throughout his brief visit he 


283 


His Brother’s Keeper 

had deliberately avoided Miss Daryll whenever politely pos¬ 
sible and, when it was not, opposed a chill indifference to her 
friendliness. Then, later, a storm across the Yorkshire 
moors had brought her to the threshold of his own door, and 
his distrust of her type of woman had leaped into new life, 
to be justified by the way in which she had immediately, 
and apparently without effort, annexed his brother and at¬ 
tached him to her chariot wheels. 

But if she really cared for Colin, so much so that she was 
actually prepared to renounce the stage in order to marry 
him, then he had misjudged her terribly and, at the thought, 
he was conscious of an odd conflict of emotion. The thing 
affected him with a strange poignancy—at one stroke it both 
gave him back the woman he had first met and known and 
took her from him irrevocably. 

“You don’t seem to understand-” Her voice had 

hardened and now drove harshly across the current of his 
thoughts. “You don’t seem to understand that marriage with 
Colin is a much better proposition for a woman like me than 
a mere two thousand a year—without marriage.” 

A wave of swift revulsion swept over him. He had been 
right, then! He had not misjudged her at all. She was as 
coolly calculating, as predatory in her instincts as any other 
woman of the adventuress type—capable of assessing Colin’s 
value as a matrimonial proposition to the last farthing. And 
beneath the grim satisfaction he felt at the correctness of his 
earlier estimate of her, beneath the fury of contempt her 
frank self-seeking awakened in him, he was aware of a curi¬ 
ous sense of disappointment. 

“So,” he said, and the scorn in his voice cut like a sharp 
blade. “So it’s marriage you want—marriage and money 
combined. Nothing less will satisfy you?” 

Unable to meet his eyes, she shook her head mutely. A 
bitter silence fell between them, bleak and biting as the iron- 
grey silence of an ice-bound winter night. At last, after 
what seemed an interminable length of time, he broke it. 


284 


Waves of Destiny 

“Then—marry me.” 

“Marry—you ?” She repeated the words after him doubt¬ 
fully, as though uncertain if she had heard him aright. 

“Yes. Well?”—as she still hesitated. “What do you 
say to it V 9 

“But why—I don’t understand. Why should you ask me 
to marry you when you’ve just been doing all you can to 
prevent my marrying Colin ?” 

“That’s why. I don’t want you to marry Colin. He’s 
got all his life before him, and—I want him to be happy.” 

“And you think that would be impossible—with me ?” 

“I do. That is why I’m offering you the alternative of 
marrying me. I’m the elder. ITrom the point of view of this 
world’s goods I’m better off than Colin—much more worth 
your powder and shot, if you only knew it.” 

She winced at the brutal frankness of the speech, but re¬ 
covered herself swiftly. 

“I can’t say I care for your method of making love,” she 
said, and her long, brown-gold eyes challenged him mock¬ 
ingly. 

His own kindled, seeming to catch fire from hers, and he 
made a sudden impulsive step towards her. 

“Don’t you?” he said unevenly. “Shall I try—another 
way ?” 

Bor a moment a queer, breathless silence held them both. 
The atmosphere was suddenly electric, charged with an emo¬ 
tional tensity which gripped both the man and woman. 
Verity’s hand went involuntarily to her breast. Her lips 
moved, but no words came. Then, as though some live wire 
had snapped between them, Simon gave a short laugh and 
drew back. 

“You should have all the money you want,” he went on in 
the same cool tones as before. It was as if that suddenly 
tense moment had never been; a door, ajar for an instant, 
had closed again between them. “And all the freedom. I 


His Brother’s Keeper 285 

don’t care a damn how you treat me—hut leave Colin alone. 
. . . Well, is it a deal? Will you marry me?” 

Verity’s foot tapped restlessly on the ground. Her head 
was downbent so that he could not see her face. At last, 
however, she looked up, her expression enigmatic. 

“Yes,” she said. “I’ll marry you.” 

“And you’ll-” He paused, then finished with a faint 

smile: “You’ll—disenchant Colin ?” 

She regarded him a little sadly. 

“Hasn’t it occurred to you,” she said, “that the mere facts 
of the case will disenchant him fast enough ? After to-day, 
he will think of me—just what you think. And with more 
reason. He is”—her voice trembled the least little bit— 
“very like you in some ways.” 

Colin took it badly. There were only two things clear to 
his blazing young indignation. At one and the same moment 
his brother and the woman with whom he imagined himself 
in love had let him down. The scene betwixt him and Verity 
in the gay little room, with its purple camels and multi¬ 
coloured cushions and floppy, straggley-legged pierrot, was 
short and bitter. 

“Simon was right about you, then,” he flung at her. “I 
jeered at him and called him ‘Simon Pure,’ but, by God, he 
knew your kind of woman better than I do. He’s welcome 
to you”—savagely. “And I hope he’s pleased with his bar¬ 
gain.” 

Verity caught her breath. She wished she could tell him 
that he was misjudging his brother horribly. Por herself, it 
didn’t much matter what Colin thought. Nothing mattered. 

“You don’t understand, Colin,” she said. “You—you 
couldn’t. But—some day-” 

“No, I certainly don’t understand.” The boyish voice 
was raw-edged with a fierce contempt that hurt right down 




286 Waves of Destiny 

somewhere in the depths of him. “And I hope to heaven I 
never shall!” 

He marched out of the room without looking hack at her 
once, and for quite a fortnight the world was compact of 
dust and ashes and Colin a confirmed misogynist. After 
that, seeing that it was his hoy’s pride that had been hurt 
rather than any more vital part of his spiritual anatomy, con¬ 
valescence set in., 

3 

Verity’s charming brows drew together as she pored over 
the letter she had just received. It was headed “Little Croft” 
and written in Simon’s decided, clear-cut hand, and, boiled 
down to its residuum of fact, it conveyed the news that he 
had lost practically his entire fortune in the big bank failure 
which had recently surprised the whole financial world. 

I am now a comparatively poor man (he wrote), and 
that being so, I can no longer presume to hold you to your 
bargain to marry me. You are free—free to marry Colin 
if you wish. Probably you think this is a poor sort of gift 
I am giving you—merely the husk and not the kernel. But 
the freedom I give you back is a real freedom. I could not 
give you less than I took from you, and as soon as it is 
humanly possible I will see Colin and tell him that I, and 
I alone, am to blame for your refusal to marry him. His 
share of our mutual inheritance, by the way, is quite in¬ 
tact, having been more fortunately invested than my own. 

The wording of the letter was curiously stiff and formal, 
so formal, indeed, that Verity smiled a little to herself. It 
made her think of a small hoy who has tumbled down and 
cut his knees, but proudly assures every one, in rather un¬ 
steady tones, that “it doesn’t hurt a bit, thank you.” 

The letter produced two immediate results. It procured 


His Brother’s Keeper 287 

Miss Daryll’s understudy the chance she had been waiting 
for during many fruitless months and sent Miss Daryll her¬ 
self to the other end of England as fast as the midnight train 
could thunder its way northwards. 

It was early in the morning—to be accurate, at precisely 
9 a.m.—that a rather uncertain tapping on the window-pane 
distracted Simon’s attention from his matutinal eggs and 
bacon. For, even though banks may fail, eggs and bacon still 
command an Englishman’s attention at nine o’clock in the 
morning. 

The tapping carried his thoughts vividly back to a certain 
storm-ridden night three months—or was it three centuries ? 
—ago, and he frowned irritably. 

“Oh, damn!” he muttered, because it isn’t nice to find 
that your nerves are playing tricks with you, and Simon had 
found this two or three times during the course of the last 
few days. 

Then the tapping came again, sounding too definitely on 
this occasion to be accounted for by jumpy nerves. He looked 
across at the window and saw her standing there, and before 
he knew what he was doing he had leapt up, thrown the 
window wide, and lifted her clean over the low sill into the 
room beside him. 

“V erity! V er ity! ” 

Then he remembered, and his arms fell to his sides. 

“What are you doing here ?” he asked dully. 

“It’s my place to be here. It’s any woman’s place to be 
with the man she’s going to marry, when he’s in trouble.” 

He nodded. 

“Yes. It would be —if we were going to be married and if 
we were ordinary man and woman.” 

“I’m quite an ordinary woman,” she said. “You’ve never 
believed it, but actresses are—awfully like other women, 
Simon, dear.” She smiled—a queer little tremulous smile. 
“They’re ready to stand by their men just as other women 
do.” 


288 Waves of Destiny 

“I don’t think you’ve understood. I’m a poor man, now, 
Verity. Little Croft is all that is left to me.” 

She looked round the old raftered room with eyes that 
were very soft. 

“I’m glad they’ve left you Little Croft,” she said simply. 
“Two people who—who loved could he very happy here.” 

“Verity’”—his.hands gripped her shoulders, forcing her 
to face'him—“Verity, what do you mean? ‘Two people— 
who loved’?'. . . You wanted to marry Colin.” .♦* 

“Yes.” Her head drooped. “Because—just because he 
was so like you, Simon. He reminded me of you in a dozen 
different ways—it was almost your'voice that spoke some¬ 
times—your laugh. And I thought you would never care 
for me. You hated actresses so much. For you we were all 
tarred with the same brush—heartless, just squeezing all we 
could out of life, like Colin’s mother. Oh, it wasn’t fair, 
Simon—you can’t judge people like that. . . . You see, I 
cared from the very beginning, when we first met at 
Sacheverel Park, and I had a feeling that you might have 
cared, too—only you wouldn’t let yourself-” 

“Ho,” he said, “I wouldn’t let myself.” 

“And afterwards—afterwards”—with a hint of tender 
mockery—“you were so busy taking care of Colin that you 
forgot all about yourself. Even when finally you did ask 
me to marry you—to save Colin—y6w still distrusted me com¬ 
pletely, and you were so horribly rich that there was no way 

of proving to you that I loved—just you. But now-” 

She broke off and came quite close to him. “Simon, dear,” 
she said, “do you think you could ever learn to love me— 
and trust me, too 1” 

With that the last barrier went down, and he caught her 
up in his arms. 

“I think,” he said, “it would be the very easiest thing in 
the world.” 


LRBFe?9 


THE END 





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