Jewel Mysteries I have Known/The Accursed Gems
THE ACCURSED GEMS
THE ACCURSED GEMS
THE accursed gems lie sedately in the lowest drawer of my strong room, shining from a couple of dozen of prim leather cases, with a light which is full of strange memories. I call them accursed because I cannot sell them; yet there are those with other histories, stones about which the fancy of romance has sported, and the strong hand of tragedy has touched with an indelible brand. It may be that the impulse of sentiment, working deep down in the heart of the ostensibly commercial character, forbids me to cry some of these wares in the market-place with any vigour; it may be that the play of chance moves the mind of the jewel-buyer to a prejudice against them. In any case, they lie in my safe unhonoured and unsung—and, lacking that which Sewell called the "precious balsam" of reputation, are merely so much carbon or mineral matter giving light to iron walls which give no light again.
For the stones which have no history I am not an apologist. Some day, those excellent people who now decry them in every salon where jewels are discussed, will give up the hope of attempting to buy them cheaply; and I shall make my profit. Everything comes to him who can wait, and I am not in a hurry. As to the others, which have been the pivots of romance or serious story, they may well lie as they are while they serve my memory in the jotting down of some of these mysteries.
And that they do serve it I have no measure of doubt. Here, for instance, is a little bag of pearls and diamonds. It contains a black pearl from Koepang, so rich in silvery lustre, and so perfect in shape, that it should be worth eight hundred pounds in any market in Europe; a couple of pink pearls from the Bahamas, of fine orient yet pear-shaped, and therefore less valuable as fashion dictates; five old Brazilian diamonds averaging two carats each; a number of smaller diamonds for finish; and two great white pearls, which I find at the very bottom of the bag. Those stones were bought by the late Lord Maclaren a month before the date announced for his marriage with the Hon. Christine King. He had intended them as his gift to her, a handsome and sufficient gift, it must be admitted, yet so did fickle fortune work that his very generosity was the indirect cause of a commotion in the week of the wedding, and of as pretty a social scandal as society has known for a decade.
The matter was hushed up of course. For six weeks, as a wag said, it was a nine days' wonder. Aged ladies discussed it from every point of view, but could make nothing of it. The Society papers lacked enough information to lie about it. The principal actors held their tongues, and in due time the West forgot, for a new scandal arose, and the courts supplied the craving for the doubtful, which is a part of polite education nowadays. Yet I do not think that I make a boastful claim, in asserting that I alone, beyond those immediately concerned, became possessed of full knowledge of the occurrence. It was to me first of all that Lord Maclaren related the history of it, and, despite my advice to the contrary, laid it upon me that I should tell none in his lifetime. He is dead now, and the publication of the story will throw a light upon much that is well worth investigating. It may also help me to sell the pearls, which is infinitely more important, as any unprejudiced person will admit.
Here then is the story. I had a visit from the chief actor in it towards the end of June in the year 1890. He came to tell me that he was to be married quietly in the middle of the following month to the Hon. Christine King, the very beautiful sister of Lord Cantiliffe. She was then staying at the old family place at St. Peter's, in Kent; and she wished to avoid a public wedding in view of the recent death of her sister, whose beauty was no less remarkable than her own. Maclaren's visit was but the prelude to the purchase of a present, and the business was made the easier since he had the simplest notions as to his requirements. He had recently come from America—without a wife mirabile dictu—and there had seen a curious anchor bracelet. The wristband of this bauble was formed of a plain gold cable, the anchor itself of pearls and diamonds; the shackle consisted of a small circle of brilliants; the shaft had a pink pearl at either end; the shank had a black pearl at the foot of it, and the flukes were of white pearls with small diamonds round them. I found it to be rather a vulgar ornament; but his heart was set on having it, and it chanced that I had the very pearls necessary. I told him that I would make him a model, and send it down to his hotel at Ramsgate within a week; and that, if he then thought the jewel to be over showy, we could refashion it. He left much pleased, returning by the Granville express to Kent; and within the week he had the model; and I received his instructions to proceed with the work.
It is necessary, I think, to say a word here about this curious character. At the time I knew him, Maclaren was a man in his fortieth year, though he looked older. He was once vulgarly described in a club smoking-room as being "all hair and teeth," like a buzzard; and his best friend could not have ranked him with the handsome. Yet the women liked him—perhaps because it was a tradition that he made love to every pretty girl in town; and it was surprising beyond belief that he reached his fortieth year, and remained single. When he went to America in 1888 the whole of the prophets gave him six months of celibacy; but he cheated them, and returned without a wife. True, a copy of an American society paper was passed round the club, where the men learnt with surprise that New York had believed this elderly Don Juan to be engaged to Evelyn Lenox, "the lady of the unlimited dollars," as young Barisbroke of the Bachelors' called her; and had been very indignant when he took passage by the Teutonic, and left her people to face the titters of a triumphant rivalry. But for all that he was not married, and could afford to laugh at the malignant scribes who made couplets of his supposed amatory adventures in Boston; and dedicated sonnets of apology, "pro amore mea," to E—— L—— and the marrying mothers of New York generally. Such a man cared little for the threats of this young lady's brother, or for the common rumour that she was the most dashing girl in New York city, and would make things unpleasant for him. He had twenty thousand a year, and for fiancée one of the prettiest roses in the whole garden of Kent. What harm then could a broker's daughter, three thousand miles away, do to him? or how mar his happiness?
But I am anticipating, and must hark back to the anchor with the flukes of pearl. I sent the model down on Wednesday; on the Friday morning I received the order to proceed with the work. Early on the following Monday, as I read my paper in a cab on the way to Bond Street, I saw a tremendous headline which announced the "sudden and mysterious disappearance of Lord Maclaren." The report said that he had left his hotel on the Saturday afternoon to walk, as the supposition went, to St. Peters. But he had never reached Lord Cantiliffe's house; and although search had been made by the police and by special coastguard parties, no trace of him had been found. I need scarcely say that the murder theory was set up at once. Clever men from town came down to wag their heads with stupid men from Canterbury, and to discuss the "only possible theory," of which there were a dozen or more. The police arrested all the drunken men within a radius of ten miles, and looked for bloodstains on their coats. The Hon. Christine King was spoken of as "distracted," which was possible; and the family of the missing nobleman as "plunged into the most profound grief." Nor, as an eloquent special reporter in his best mood explained, was this supposed tragedy made less painful by the knowledge that the unhappy victim of accident or of murder was to have been married within the month.
For a whole week the press had no other topic; the police telegraphed to all the capitals; a reward of a thousand pounds was offered for knowledge of Lord Maclaren, "last seen upon the East Cliff at Ramsgate at three o'clock on the afternoon of Saturday, the fifth of July." A hundred tongues gave you the exact details of an imagined assassination; ten times that number—and these tongues chiefly feminine—told you that he had shirked the marriage upon its very threshold. But the mystery remained unexplained—and as the day for the wedding drew near, the excitement amongst a section of society rose to fever heat. Had the body been found? Had the detectives a clue? Were the strange hints—implying that the missing man had quarrelled with his fiancée's brother, and thrown a glass of wine in his face; that he had a wife in Algiers; that he was married a year ago at Cyprus; that he was bankrupt—merely the fable of malicious tongues, or had they that germ of truth from which so vast a disease of scandal can grow? I made no pretence to answer the questions—but they interested me, and I watched for the development of the story with the keenness of a hardened novel reader.
The day fixed for the wedding now drew near; and when the bridegroom did not appear, the vulgar, who do not believe scandals though they like to hear them, declared that the murder theory was true beyond question. The rest said that he was either bankrupt or bigamist—and having consoled themselves with the reflection, they let the matter go. It is likely that I should have done the same had I not enjoyed a solution of the mystery, which came to me unsought and accidentally. On a day near to that fixed for the wedding I was at Victoria Station about eight o'clock in the evening when I ran full upon the missing nobleman; and for some while stood speechless with astonishment at the sight of him. His beard was longer than ever, recalling the traditions of Killingworthe or of Johann Mayo; his Dundreary whiskers were shaggy and unkempt; he was very pale in the face, and wore a little yachting cap and a blue serge suit which begarbed him ridiculously. He had no luggage with him, not even a valise; and his first remark was given in the voice of a man afraid, and in a measure broken.
"Ah, Sutton, that's you, is it?" he cried. "I'm glad to see you, by Jove; have you such a thing as half-a-crown in your pocket?"
I offered him half-a-sovereign, still saying nothing; but he continued rapidly,—
"You've heard all about it, of course—what are they saying here now? Do they think I'm a dead man, eh?—but I won't face them yet. Upon my life, I dare not see a soul. Come with me to an hotel; there's a good fellow—but let's have a cognac first; I'm shivering like a child with a fever."
I gave him some brandy at a bar, and after that we took a four-wheeled cab—he insisting on the privacy—and drove to a private hotel in Cecil-street, Strand. They did not know him there, and I engaged a room for him and ordered dinner, taking these things upon myself, since he was as helpless as a babe. After the meal he seemed somewhat better, and I telegraphed to Ramsgate for his man, though it was impossible that the fellow could be with him until the following morning. In the meantime I found myself doing valet's work for him—but I had his story; and although it was not until some months later that another supplied some of the missing links in it, he telling me the barest outline, I will set it down here plainly as a narrative, and without any of those "says I's" and "says he's," which were the particular abomination of Defoe, as they have been of many since his day.
The complete explanation of this mystery was one, I think, to astonish most people. It was so utterly unlooked for, that I was led at the first hearing to believe the narrator insane. He told me that at three o'clock on the afternoon of July 5th, he had left his hotel on the East Cliff at Ramsgate—the day being glorious, and a full sun playing upon the Channel and many ships—and had determined to walk over to St. Peters, where his fiancée expected him to a tennis party. With this intention, he struck along the cliff towards Broadstairs, but had gone only a few paces, when a seaman stopped him, and touching his hat respectfully, said that he had a message for him.
"Well, my man, what is it?" Maclaren asked—I had the dialogue from the seaman himself—being in a hurry as those who walk the ways of love usually are.
"My respects to your honour," replied the fellow, "but the ketch Bowery, moored off the pier-head, 'ud be glad to see your honour if convenient, and if not, maybe to-morrow?"
"What the devil does the man mean?" cried his lordship, but the seaman plucking up courage continued,—
"An old friend of your honour's for sure he is, my guv'ner, Abraham Burrow, what you had the acquaintance of in New York city."
"Well, and why can't he come ashore? I remember the man perfectly—I have every cause to"—a true remark, since Abraham Burrow then owed the speaker some two thousand pounds; and had shown no unprincipled desire to pay it.
"The fact is, my lordship," replied the seaman, whose vocabulary was American and strange, "the fact is he's tidy sick, on his beam ends, I guess with brounchitis; and he won't be detaining you not as long as a bosun's whistle if you go aboard, and be easin' of him."
Now, although this comparatively juvenile lover was in a mighty hurry to get to St. Peter's, there was yet a powerful financial motive to send him to the ship. He had done business with this Abraham Burrow in America; the man had—we won't say swindled—but been smart enough there to relieve him of a couple of thousand pounds. To hope for the recovery of such a sum seemed as childish as a sigh for the moon. Maclaren had not seen Burrow for twelve months, and did not know a moment before this meeting whether he was alive or dead. Yet here he was in a yacht off Ramsgate harbor, desiring to see his creditor, and to see him immediately. The latter reflected that such a visit would not occupy half an hour of his time, that it might lead to the recovery of some part of his money, that he could make his excuses to the pretty girl awaiting him—in short, he went with the seaman; and in a quarter of an hour he stepped on board an exceeding well-kept yacht, which lay beyond the buoy over against the East Pier; and all his trouble began.
The craft, as I have said, was ketch rigged, and must have been of seventy tons or more. There was a good square saloon aft, and a couple of tiny cabins, the one amidships, the other at the poop. When Lord Maclaren went aboard, three seamen and a boy were the occupants of the deck; but a King Charles spaniel barked at the top of the companion; and a steward came presently and asked the visitor to go below. He descended to the saloon at this; but the sick man, they told him, lay in the fore cabin; and thither he followed his very obsequious guide.
I had the account of this episode and of much that follows from two sources, one a man I met in New York last summer, the other, the victim of the singularly American conspiracy. Lord Maclaren's account was simple—"As there's a heaven above me, Sutton," said he, "I'd no sooner put my foot in the hole when the door was slammed behind me, and bolted like a prison gate." The American said, "I guess the old boy had hardly walked right in, before they'd hitched up the latch, and he was shouting glory. Then the skipper let the foresail go—for the ketch was only lying-to, and in ten minutes he was standing out down the Channel. But you never heard such a noise as there was below in all your days. Talk about a sheet and pillow-case party in an insane asylum, that's no word for it."
The fact that the "illustrious nobleman," as the penny society papers called him, was trapped admitted of no question. He realized it himself in a few moments, and sat down to wonder, "who and why the devil, etc.," in five languages. I need scarcely say that the thing was an utter and inexplicable mystery to him. He thought at first that robbery was the motive, for he had the model of the bracelet upon him; and as he sat alone in the cabin, he really feared personal violence. He told me that he waited to see the door open, and a villain enter, armed with Colt or knuckleduster, after the traditional Adelphian mood; but a couple of hours passed and no one came, and after that the only interruption to his meditation was the steward's knock upon the cabin door, and his polite desire to know "Will my lord take tea?" "My lord" told him to carry his tea to a latitude where high temperatures prevail; and after that, continued to kick lustily at the door, and to make original observations upon the owner of the yacht, and upon her crew, until the light failed. Yet no one heeded him; and when it was dark the roll of the yacht to the seas made him sure that they stood well out, and were beating with a stiff breeze.
Unto this point, temper had dominated him; but now a quiet yet very deep alarm took its place. He began to ask himself more seriously if his position were not one of great danger, if he had not to face some mysterious but very daring enemy—even if he were like to come out of the adventure with his life. Yet his mind could not bring to his recollection any deed that had merited vindictive anger on the part of another; nor was he a blamable man as the world goes. He paid his debts—every three years; he was amongst the governors of five fashionable charities, and the only scandalous case which concerned him was arranged between the lawyers on the eve of its coming into court. The matrons told you that he was "a dear delightful rogue"; the men said that he was "a cunning old dog"; and between them agreed that he had read the commandments at least. Possibly, however, those hours of solitude in the cabin compelled him to think rather of his vices than of his virtues—and it may be that the fear was so much the more real as his shortcomings were secret. Be that as it may, he assured me that he had never suffered so much as he did during that strange imprisonment, and that he cried almost with delight when the door of the cabin opened, and he saw the table of the saloon set for dinner, and light falling upon it from a handsome lamp below the skylight. During one delicious moment he thought himself the victim of a well-meaning practical joker—the next his limbs were limp as cloth, and he sank upon a cushioned seat with a groan which must have been heard by the men above.
This scene has been so faithfully described to me that I can see it as clearly as though I myself stood amongst the players. On the one hand, a pretty little American girl, with hands clasped and malicious laughter about her rosy mouth; on the other, a shrinking, craven, abject shadow of a man, cowering upon the cushions of a sofa, in blank astonishment, and hiding his view of her with bony fingers. At a glance you would have said that the girl was not twenty—but she was twenty-three, the picture of youth, with the colour of the sea-health upon her cheeks, the spray of the sea-foam glistening in her rich brown hair. She had upon her head a little hat of straw poised daintily; her dress was of white serge with a scarf of yacht-club colours at the throat; but her feet were the tiniest in the world, and the brown shoes which hid them not unfit for an artist's model. And as she stood laughing at the man who had become her guest upon the yacht, her attitude would have made the fortune of half the painters in Hampstead. The two faced each other thus silently for a few minutes, but she was the first to speak, her voice overflowing with rippling laughter.
"Well," she said, "I call this real good of you, my lord, to come on my yacht—when you were just off to the other girl—and your wedding's fixed for the eighteenth of July. My word, you're the kindest-hearted man in Europe."
He looked up at her, some shame marked in his eyes, and he said,—
"Evelyn, I—I—never thought it was you!"
"Then how pleased you must be. Oh, I'm right glad, I tell you; I'm just as pleased as you are. To think that we've never met since you left N'York in such a flurry that you hadn't time even to send me a line—but of course you men are so busy and so smart that girls don't count, and I knew you were just dying to see me, and I sent the boat off saying it was old Burrow—how you love Burrow!—and here you are, my word!"
She spoke labouring under a heavy excitement, so that her sentences flowed over one another. But he could scarce find a coherent word, and began to tremble as she went on,—
"You'll stay awhile, of course, and—why, you're as pale as spectres, I guess. Now if you look like that I shall begin to think that we're not the old friends we were in N'York a year ago, and walk right upstairs to Arthur. You remember my brother Arthur, of course you do. He was your particular friend, wasn't he?—but how you boys quarrel. They really told me two months ago in the city that Arthur was going in the shooting business with you. Fancy that now, and at your age."
This sentence revealed what was lacking in the character of the girl; it showed that malicious, if rather low and vulgar, cunning which prompted the whole of this adventure; and it betrayed a revenge which was worthy of a Frenchwoman. Maclaren had but to hear the harsh ring of the voice to know that the girl who had threatened him months ago in New York had met her opportunity, and that she would use it to the last possibility. Every word that she uttered with such meaning vehemence cut him like a knife; his hair glistened with the drops of perspiration upon it; his right hand was passed over his forehead as though some heat was tormenting his brain. And as her voice rose shrilly, only to be modulated to the pretence of suavity again, he blurted out,—
"Evelyn, what are you going to do?"
"I—my dear Lord Maclaren—I am entirely in your hands; you are my guest, I reckon, and even in America we have some idea of what that means. Now, would you like to play cards after dinner, or shall we have a little music?"
The steward entered the cabin at this moment, and the conversation being interrupted, Maclaren chanced to see that the companion was free. A wild idea of appealing to the captain of the yacht came to him, and he made a sudden move to mount the ladder. He had but taken a couple of steps, however, when a lusty young fellow, perhaps of twenty-five years of age, barred the passage, and pushed him with some roughness into the cabin again. The man closed the long, panelled door behind him; and then addressed the unwilling guest.
"Ah, Maclaren, so that's you—devilish good of you to come aboard, I must say."
The newcomer was Evelyn Lenox's brother, the owner of the ketch Bowery. He acted his part in the comedy with more skill than his sister, having less personal interest in it; indeed, amusement seemed rather to hold him than earnestness. It was perfectly clear to Maclaren, however, that he would stand no nonsense; and seeing that a further exhibition of feeling would not help him one jot, the unhappy prisoner succumbed. When the dinner was put upon the table, he found himself sitting down to it mechanically, and as one in a dream. It was an excellent meal to come from a galley; and it was made more appetizing by the wit and sparkle of the girl who presided, and who acted her rôle to such perfection. She seemed to have forgotten her anger, and cloaked her malice with consummate art. She was a well-schooled flirt—and her victim consoled himself with the thought, "They will put me ashore in the morning, and I can make a tale." By ten o'clock he found himself laughing over a glass of whisky and soda. By eleven he was dreaming that he stood at the altar in the church of St. Peter's and that two brides walked up the aisle together.
The next picture that I have to show you of Maclaren is one which I am able to sketch from a full report of certain events happening on the evening of his wedding day. The yacht lay becalmed some way out in the bay of the Somme; the sea had the lustre of a mirror, golden with a flawless sheen of brilliant light which carried the dark shadows of smack-hulls and flapping lug-sails. There was hardly a capful of wind, scarce an intermittent breath of breeze from the land; and the crew of the Bowery lay about the deck smoking with righteous vigour, as they netted or stitched, or indulged in those seemingly useless occupations which are the delight of sailors. Often however, they stayed their work to listen to the rise and fall of sounds in the saloon aft; and once, when Maclaren's voice was heard almost in a scream, one of them, squirting his tobacco juice over the bulwarks, made the sapient remark, "Well, the old cove's dander is riz now, anyway."
The scene below was played vigorously. Evelyn Lenox sat upon the sofa, her arms resting upon the cabin table, her bright face positively alight with triumph. Maclaren stood before her with clenched hands and gnashing teeth. Arthur, the brother, was smoking a pipe and pretending to read a newspaper, leaving the conversation to his guest, who had no lack of words.
"Good God, Evelyn," he said, "you cannot mean to keep me here any longer—to-morrow's my wedding day!"
She answered him very slowly.
"How interesting! I remember the time, not so long ago, when my wedding day was fixed—and postponed."
He did not heed the rebuke, but continued cravenly,—
"You do not seem to understand that your brother and yourself have perpetrated upon me an outrage which will make you detested in every country in Europe. Great Heaven! the whole town will laugh at me. I shan't have a friend in the place; I shall be cut at every club, as I'm a living man."
The girl listened to him, her eyes sparkling with the excitement of it. "Did you never stop to think," said she, "when you left America, like the coward you were, that people would laugh at me, too, and I should never be able to look my friends in the face again? Why, even in the newspapers they held me up to ridicule when my heart was breaking. You speak of suffering; well, I have suffered."
Her mood changed, as the mood of women does—suddenly. The feminine instinct warred against the actress, and prevailed. She began to weep hysterically, burying her head in her arms; and a painful silence fell on the man. He seemed to wait for her to speak; but when she did so, anger had succeeded, and she rose from her place and stamped her foot, while rage seemed to vibrate in her nerves.
"Why do I waste my time on you?" she cried; "you who are not worth an honest thought. Pshaw! Lord Maclaren, illustrious nobleman and great sportsman"—she was quoting from an American paper—"go and tell them that for ten days you have humbled yourself to me, and have begged my pity on your knees. Go and tell them that my crew have held their sides when the parts have been changed, and you have been the woman. Oh, they shall know, don't mistake that; your wife shall read it on her wedding tour. I will send it to her myself, I, who have brought the laugh to my side now, scion of a noble house. Go, and take the recollection of your picnic here as the best present I can give to you."
I was told that Maclaren looked at her for some moments in profound astonishment when she pointed to the cabin door. Then, without a word, he went on deck, to find the yacht's boat manned and waiting for him. He said himself that many emotions filled him as he stepped off the yacht—anger at the outrage, desire for revenge, but chiefly the emotions of the thought, was there time to reach St. Peter's for the wedding ceremony? He did not doubt that lies would save him from the American woman, if things so happened that he could reach England by the morning of the next day. But could he? Where was he? Where was he to be put ashore? He asked the men at the oars these questions in a breath, standing up for one moment as the boat pushed off to shake his fist at the yacht, and cry, "D—n you all!" But the answer that he got did not reassure him. He was to be put ashore, the seaman said, at Crotoy, the little town on a tongue of land in the bay of the Somme. There was a steamer thence once a day to Saint Valery, from which point he could reach Boulogne by rail. He realized in a moment that all his hope depended on catching the steamer. If she had not sailed, he would arrive at Boulogne before sunset, and, if need were, could get across by the night mail and a special train from Folkestone. But if she had sailed! This possibility he dared not contemplate.
The men were now rowing rapidly towards the shore, whose sandy dunes and flat outlines were becoming marked above the sea-line. The yacht lay far out, drifting on a glassy mirror of water; the sun was sinking with great play of yellow and red fire in the arc of the west. Maclaren had then, however, no thought for Nature's pictures, or for seascapes. One burning anxiety alone troubled him—had the steamer sailed? He offered the men ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred pounds if they would catch her. The remark of one of them that she left on the top of the tide begot in him a mad eagerness to learn the hour of high-water; but none of those with him could remember it. He found himself swaying his body in rhythm with the oars as coxswains do; or standing up to look at the white houses shorewards. Another half-hour's rowing brought him a sight of the pier; he shouted out with a laugh that might have come from a jackal when he saw that the steamer was moored against it, and that smoke was pouring heavily from her funnels.
"Men," he said, "if you catch that boat, I'll give you two hundred and fifty pounds!" and later on their lethargy moved him to such disjointed exclamations as "For the love of heaven, get on to it!" "Now, then, a little stronger—fine fellows, all of you—a marriage depends upon this." "I'll give you a gold watch apiece, as I'm alive." "By ——, she's moving—no, she isn't, there's time yet, if you'll put your backs on to it—time, time—oh, Lord, what a crawl, what a cursed crawl!"
If one had peered into the faces of the yachtsmen critically, one might have detected the ripples of smirks about their lips; but Maclaren could not take his eyes away from the steamer, and the import of the suppressed amusement was lost upon him. The little town of Crotoy, with the garish établissement des bains, the picturesque church, and the time-wrecked ramparts escarped by the ceaseless play of currents, was then not half a mile away; but a bell was ringing on the pier, and there was all the hurry and the press known in "one packet" or "one train" towns. Those who had much to do did it slowly, that they might enjoy leisure to blow whistles or to shout; those who had little atoned by great displays of ineffective activity. Some ran wildly to and fro near the steamer; others bawled incomprehensible ejaculations, and incited, both those who were to leave by the ship, and those who were not, to hurry, or they would be late. Presently the little passenger steamer whistled with a hoarse and lowing shriek, and cast foam behind her wheels. Maclaren observed the motion, and cried out as a man in pain, waving his arms wildly. Those on shore mistook as much as they could see of his surprising signals for a parting salute to the vessel; and she left ten minutes after her time—without him.
He was hot from the battle of excitement, rivulets of perspiration trickling upon his face; but he had breath to curse the crew of the yacht's boat for five minutes when he stepped ashore; and the request of the coxswain to drink his health stirred up uncounted gifts for oath-making within him. In a quarter of an hour he was raving about the town of Crotoy, threatening to do himself injury if a boat were not forthcoming to carry him to St. Valery, whence he could get train to Boulogne. But the day was nigh gone, and the local seamen were at their homes. Few cared for his commission, and the man who took it ultimately set him down just twenty minutes after the last train had left.
The accounts given in the society papers for the abandonment of the wedding between Lord Maclaren and the Hon. Christine King were many. The true one is found in the simple statement that his lordship did not reach England until the evening of the day which had been fixed for the ceremony. So the presents were returned—and I kept the pearls which were to have made the famous anchor bracelet. And when I think the matter over, I cannot wonder at Maclaren's hatred of them, or of his wish that I should burn them.
"Sutton," he said, "I was more than a fool. I ought to have remembered that Evelyn Lenox was with me when I saw the piece of stuff similar to that I wanted you to make. Why, I got the very notion of it from her, and it was only when one of your idiots let a society journalist know what you were doing for me that she heard of the marriage, and of my being at Ramsgate."
But the rest of his remarks were purely personal.