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THE LOVE OF MONEY.

By H. C. BAILEY.


MRS. Chetwind-Chetwynde tells me that he was born in the gutter. She is picturesque. Born in Notting Dale, he was weaned in Somers Town. After achieving those necessities he emigrated (he took his parents) to Philadelphia. His education was acquired, I infer, upon all the railways and in most of the mines between Panama and Alaska. At thirty-five he still lacks some of the finer graces. He smokes a green cigar, and his manner of eating a boiled egg is acrobatic.

There are many stories about him. This begins from a journey round the world made by Sir Joseph Paignton, an iron-king of Durham, and his daughter. They came back through Canada. In a desolate region of Ontario they were taken to see a copper-mine which, after the manner of mines, produced nothing. A little man with a brown face and a yellow shirt received them. Sir Joseph had been privately informed that he was "on the make," and treated him with the arrogance of the man already made. Therefore Cicely Paignton was kind to him. Harry Blaker was allowed to look into two eyes of a darker blue than he had known. For the first time since his undistinguished birth in Notting Dale, a lady's hand lay on his arm. Sir Joseph Paignton, in taking leave, genially suggested that Harry Blaker was making a fool of himself in putting his capital down a barren mine. Mr. Blaker looked him in the eye.

"I've took root," said he. "While I've got a cent to pay a boy, I sit on the shaft." Sir Joseph laughed at him and turned away. Cicely lingered.

"Good luck!" said Cicely, holding his hand. "Good luck!" And she took away the memory of a grip and a long scar on a tanned cheek.

Some years went by. Sir Joseph Paignton, very loth, left this world and his money. His daughter remained to make the best of both under the guidance of Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde. That lady reigned in the big, ugly house in Mount Street, capably representing propriety till such time as a husband came to take that duty. Cicely Paignton gave no sign of hastening his arrival; nor, naturally, Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde.

One afternoon, a footman came in and said something to Cicely that made her face flame as she answered sharply "No!" Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde looked up. "Cyril Vaughan," said Cicely angrily.

"Well?"

"He is horrid."

"You have refused him?" Cicely nodded. "Yes, his family have no tact."

"He is horrid. It is not as if he cared, you know, really cared."

Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde laughed. "My dear, the world is exceedingly horrid. It does not care, you know, really care."

"I wish I were poor," said Cicely.

Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde laughed again. "To find out who really cares? Oh, my dear, it would not be worth while. There are many possible men who care sufficiently to be polite to you. A man who really cares is a boor, or a bore, or impossible. And why want to know? If a man appears to care for you invariably—without interludes—independently of his liver"—a footman came in—"and your complexion—it is more than yon have a right to expect. So don't expect it, my dear." Cicely sat with her hands clasped on her lap, leaning forward at the fire.

"I never know if you know about people, or if you're trying to make yourself believe you know," she said.

Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde laughed for the third time. "I don't want to believe that I know about people. Knowledge and wrinkles come together. I have a little of both." She looked at herself in the mirror of a cabinet, and reflected that she contrived to hide one. The mirror said nothing about the other.

And the footman was standing like a graven image at Cicely's elbow. Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde directed Cicely's attention to him. Cicely took up a card; her brow creased; she read aloud: "Harry Blaker. Hotel Cecil. 999, King William Street, E.C." She gazed upon Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde, who shook her head, denying all connection with a gentleman of such a taste in addresses. Then: "I know! Has he a scar?" cried Cicely.

"I did seem to notice 'e 'ad 'ad, ma'am."

In a moment there was ushered into the room a little man, who brought with him a heavy fur coat and a hat of soft felt. The latter was under his arm, and he advanced with his hands in his pockets.

"Miss Paignton? Wal, Miss Paignton, I'm vurry pleased to meet you," said he, and smiled broadly and put out his hand. Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde regarded him with curiosity; wondered where he had learnt to dress as he dressed and to talk as he talked. His accent wedded a faint nasal twang to the slurred consonants of London. "You are palatial. Say, this is a parlour-car beside Jamesville, On—tario. Y' don't forget Jamesville, I do hope, Miss Paignton?" All this time he was holding Cicely's hand. She withdrew it, saying that she was glad to see Mr. Blaker, and presented him to Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde. "Vurry pleased to meet you," said Blaker, shaking her hand violently. "I'll get out of my robe," he went on, and took off his overcoat, revealing himself in a jacket, a waistcoat cut low, and a black dress-tie. Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde watched him with the greatest interest. He might do anything next. But he only folded his coat neatly and put it out of the way under a chair.

"I hope you had good luck with the mine, Mr. Blaker," said Cicely.

"Not a cent. I cleared out o' Jamesville in shirt and trousers." Then his eyes brightened. "So you hadn't quite forgot Jamesville, Miss Paignton? Wal, that's kind. I allow I believed you wouldn't. Y' looked at me that way, going. Say, I lived on what you said for a while. And I hustled—by the living Jimmy, I hustled! But I allow it's no good hustling a spavined horse. That durned mine was spavined!"

"I am sorry," said Cicely.

"Don't you drop a tear, Miss Paignton. I've gone some way since then." He looked down with complacency on his expanse of white shirt, then at Cicely, as if he bade her note his increased gentility. "I wanted to speak to you," he said bluntly, and glanced at Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Blaker," said that lady, smiling, and rose. Mr. Blaker opened the door for her.

"That's kind, ma'am," said he, with a smile, softly.

Cicely sat before the fire still. Mr. Blaker stood over her and put his hand on the back of her chair.

"I wanted to tell you, Miss Paignton, you've had hold of me all the time. See, I never saw a girl like you before Jamesville, and since I ha'n't been looking for them." Cicely gazed into his eyes. His face was entirely calm and placid. "While your poppa was living, I allow I could wait. Now it's kind o' changed. I couldn't get on thinking about you travelling alone. I allow I could take on for you as well as any man. I don't want you to say 'Yes' right here. I want to know is there anyone else, Miss Paignton?" And Cicely gazed into his eyes. His tone was quiet, supremely quiet, as of a man making a bargain. The first words of affection became revolting. Cicely's full upper lip curled.

"Thank you, Mr. Blaker. I think you should have gone to the office of my trustees. If I want a man of business, I will remember your name." She rose and rang the bell. The long line of the scar flamed red on Blaker's cheek: "Y' don't take me, Miss Paignton——" he began.

"You have explained very clearly, thank you," said Cicely. "Your coat is under that chair." Mr. Blaker was shown out by a footman with contemptuous respect.

Mrs. Chetwind-Chetvvynde returned. Cicely was sitting still over the fire. "You know, I liked him in Canada," said Cicely thoughtfully.

"Did he wear that waistcoat?"

"Oh, what does a waistcoat matter?"

"Nothing, I hope; but if one has to see it! My dear, he has all the qualifications; he is a boor, he is impossible. Does he 'really care'?"

"He is the most horrible man I have ever met," said Cicely.

"I once knew a Prime Minister," said Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde.

By the end of two weeks Cicely could not bear the sight of Mr. Blaker—a disability the more trying since she had borne the sight of him four times. Mr. Blaker, to the amazement of Cicely, had been a guest with her at three houses—at three houses of respectability. Cicely, of course, had declined to see him. Unfortunately, Mr. Blaker had declined to see her. What joy in snubbing if the snubbed snubs?

In an unobjectionable waistcoat, in other garments quite adequate, Mr. Blaker came to a bazaar whereat Cicely sold things. Now, if you happen to be an heiress to a hundred thousand pounds, and unwed, there are many men who will buy from your stall at a bazaar. Many men bought from Cicely. Of them, Mr. Blaker was not one. He passed by in his unobjectionable waistcoat and spent much money at other stalls. Cicely observed that he spent in the grand manner, which has nothing to do with birth or training, but comes a pure gift from the gods.

"The adventurer," said Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde, "adventures."

It occurred to Cicely that the explanation did not explain his original waistcoat. Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde's explanations are not intended to explain.

At Lady Variance's dance, Cyril Vaughan again begged Cicely to accept him and an ice. She refused him. She was looking at Mr. Blaker, who appeared to be amusing two peeresses and a peer. Lord Clandon arrived.

"Let us talk," said Cicely.

"I'm less borin' when I dance," said Lord Clandon. He sat down beside her among the palms. "But I listen awfully well. I'm listenin', Miss Paignton."

"Who is that?" Cicely asked, looking in the direction of Mr. Blaker's broad smile. Lord Clandon adjusted his eyeglass.

"He's the new humorist," said Lord Clandon. Cicely was puzzled.

"An—an entertainer?"

"I don't think he's very entertainin'. But he entertains, don't you know. Millionaires do. They're all humorists now. They must have some coverin' besides cheques for decency. And it's easier bein' a humorist than a gentleman."

"Is he a millionaire?"

"In dollars. Awfully mean to be a millionaire in dollars. So deceitful. I fancy I've heard that a dollar is a beastly insignificant coin; people forget that in the joy of acceptin' a millionaire."

"I was wondering how I came to see him everywhere, suddenly," said Cicely.

"He's a kind of tract. He comes out of nowhere, certified as a millionaire; and at once we're all bein' distressed by another new humorist. The love of money is the root of all evil."

"I see," said Cicely sharply. "He is just like my father, then. He was recommended to people by his money, I understand, Lord Clandon." There was a pause.

"You're hittin' rather hard, Miss Paignton. I know I'm a fool. But you know I was merely rottin'. I'm sorry." Cicely said nothing for a minute, and Lord Clandon rose. "You see, I'd better have danced," he said. Cicely put her hand on his sleeve.

"I'm sorry. It's I who was stupid," she said, and smiled at him.

"It would be distressin' to argue. You're perfectly wrong. Let's go to sup." Cicely was very charming to him at supper.

Mr. Blaker was looking at a fountain. Mr. Blaker (whose taste had an affection for colour) was thinking that if he owned it, he would put a dark blue electric lamp so that its light shivered through the water.

"Mr. Blaker——" Mr. Blaker swung round sharply and touched Cicely's white shoulder.

"Miss Paignton?"

"I was very rude to you. I beg your pardon," said Cicely. Mr. Blaker observed in her eyes the effect of dark blue light.

"That's kind," said Mr. Blaker, smiling, and took her hand. "I allow you were on the wrong track, somehow. How was it, Miss Paignton?"

"I think," said Cicely, "it was your waistcoat"; and, having told the precise truth, blushed and stammered. Mr. Blaker laughed heartily.

"Does it trouble you yet, Miss Paignton? See, it took me an hour or two to get the right way of your men's suits. I came to you right off the mail."

"I am horribly rude," said the contrite Cicely, while the lingering blush faded from neck and bosom. "I always do say things straight out."

"So I thought," said Mr. Blaker, chuckling. "See here, Miss Paignton, don't you drop a tear. I allow I see the run o' the land. You've had a crowd of mean trash after the dollars. And I looked one o' the crowd. I know I talked fool talk." He flashed round on her. "I don't take back a letter, Miss Paignton!" he said fiercely, and Cicely flushed. "Wal, we're friends, anyway?"

"Yes—but——"

"Don't want a 'but.'"

"There is a 'but,' Mr. Blaker. I'd like to be friends. But only if it's only friends. You mustn't think——" She stopped. "Not ever!" she said with decision. And Mr. Blaker, looking into the proud eyes, said softly—

"I've thought it out for seven years. You've thought it out for seven minutes, little girl. That's all."

"No!" cried Cicely. "If it had been seven years——"

"I allow I'd talk about it. Say, we've each said our piece. Let it go at that."

"But you must remember!" Cicely cried. Then under the light in his eyes she blushed as he muttered—

"Is it like I'll forget?"

"I didn't want to hurt——" Cicely began. Mr. Blaker patted her hand.

"I didn't want to whine. Let us pass along—in the spirit and by the legs," a phrase which he interpreted by drawing Cicely's arm through his and walking on through the palms; also by changing the subject, thus: "Y' know, I'm vurry glad I wasn't born in the dress-clothes' stratum. Every time I see a silk-facing now, I feel that I have achieved. I have climbed to the right kind of waistcoat."

"Don't make fun. It was horrid of me."

"You have too large a conscience, Miss Paignton. I allow I came in on you in the war-paint of Jamesville. You had a shock. The waistcoat was horrid. Rebuke your conscience."

"I have to be very kind to it. Else it would go away."

"First accommodating conscience I have struck. I would be harsh to it, Miss Paignton. It's restful when conscience has a week-end."

"I don't want to be restful," said Cicely, tossing her head.

"Maybe the sun don't want to be bright," said Mr. Blaker pensively, and looked at the curve of her neck.

"But I'm not restful. And I would hate to be. And indeed it's not a compliment to say I am." They had come to the darker end of the conservatory and stood together looking out on the night.

"Say, there's many ways to be restful," said Mr. Blaker. "See there, the moon's getting up, just shell-pink in the black. And you watch it that way blushing faint, and it comes on—on—bright and white. White in that black sea. I allow that's restful to watch." Cicely glanced at him; his lips were parted, his face tilted at the sky. "It's white, all white. Just wee and lone. But it's not afraid," said the poetical Mr. Blaker. Amid faint, sweet odours of flowers, looking out on the still night, while her arm was pressed against his side, Cicely caught something of this remarkable mood.

"No. It's not afraid. It was sent there—to shine."

"That's right. By Heaven!" said Mr. Blaker.

There arrived a young man with a face of grief. He remarked to Cicely in a plaintive tone that it had been his dance. Cicely passed to the ballroom for the ultimate twenty seconds of a waltz, passed under the eyes of Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde; and Mr. Blaker alone still looked up at the moon. You cannot conceive of Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde looking at the moon.

She knows (she knows, of course, everything), she knows that there is a moon, just as she knows that there are parsnips. Moons and parsnips exist for people who do not know any better. Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde, sitting under an electric lamp with a rose-pink shade, looked at another lady on whom sea-green rays were falling and reflected upon her own wisdom. It was necessary to be very wise.

For behold, the person, the American person, who was at once a bore—and a boor—and impossible, had developed. One goes not to look at the moon with a distasteful male. Now, Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde was not prepared to welcome any male to the house in Mount Street. She loved her own very admirable rooms and her own very pleasant importance as Cicely's permanent bodyguard.

And so in the carriage Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde leant back so that she could see Cicely's face.

"I gather that he is not the most horrible man you have ever met, my dear," she remarked. And Cicely, blushing a little and laughing, turned to her—

"Oh, I was perfectly stupid! It's comical, really—only that I am so ashamed." Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde coughed. "You know he's awfully rich, really!"

"So I supposed," said Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde drily. Cicely stared at her. "It appeared that the tables were turned, my dear." Cicely gave a little, quick gasp. Her cheeks were speedily crimson.

"What do you mean?" she asked in a low voice.

"My dear Cicely," said Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde with some skill, "I cannot at all afford to offend you."

"Do you think I am so mean?" cried poor Cicely. "Because I ask you to say what you think, should I—should—should you have to go away?"

"No, my dear. I beg your pardon," said Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde, and laid her hand a moment on Cicely's. She found that cold. "It is a little difficult to say. I wished to warn you, that is all. You know I heard Lady Hogmorton say to-night: 'Ah! The icicle thaws before that.' You were among the palms with the American. I think myself, Cicely, a little care—he is a somewhat impossible person. I do not doubt you find in him many excellent traits. The rest of us only observe his bank-book."

Cicely's cheeks were flaming. Cicely looked straight at the coachman's back.

"Everybody is horrible," said Cicely.

"Of course," said Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde. "Don't forget that, my dear."

Cicely passed a gruesome night of meditation on the world, the flesh, and the devil. Cicely beheld herself as Mr. Cyril Vanghan, with the advantage of a different sex—a female fortune-hunter. Her conscience, indeed, was clear. A clear conscience is not an adequate soporific. When she rang, white-faced, for her maid, she had constructed two resolves. She would see Mr. Blaker just as much as she pleased, and the world might say just what the world pleased. Also, she would never speak to Mr. Blaker, and the world should never say that she—she!—cared for money. On these two consistent resolves she acted.

Hence a joyful life for Mr. Blaker. Mr. Blaker, who persevered in visiting the same houses as Cicely, became the shuttlecock of these two resolves. The hapless shuttlecock had never any confidence how he would be hit. On Monday, Cicely was the frank, good companion of Jamesville. On Tuesday, Cicely turned up her little nose and turned round her little head when she saw afar off Mr. Blaker's large smile. And ever Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde improved the shining hour by reporting or inventing remarks of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Sometimes she achieved her intended effect, and Mr. Blaker was shunned. Sometimes Cicely's indignant honesty was stirred to defy the world, the flesh, and Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde, and then Mr. Blaker was made very happy. For he himself pleased Cicely. Behind his remarkable manners she divined a real man. Real men were rare in her experience. Mr. Blaker made his impression. Cicely began to look forward to seeing him. She might snub him when she did see him (for Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde was skilful), but she liked to see him all the same. So for a while he was met alternately with a show of deep regard and the snub direct. And then he was seen less often. It appeared that he had had enough. And Cicely felt lonely.

Just as Mr. Blaker fell out of Society, faint echoes of American war rolled across the sea. A great railway combine had declared war upon Mr. Blaker, and his ox, and his ass, and all that was his. The causes of strife were mingled marvellously. Charity to my reader forbids explanation why a magnate of blotting-paper strove with Mr. Blaker, a master of mines. Briefly (with bald inaccuracy) be it told that the methods of Mr. Blaker, a new divinity, harassed the older gods so that they set themselves to crush him by means of the railways that served his mines.

There was but one obvious end. The world of finance anticipated the extinction of the mushroom millionaire. Society (on hearing of it) stated that it had always told you so. On the lines of a belief in the swift extinction of Mr. Blaker, Finance and Society made their several arrangements.

So when Mr. Blaker came to stay at a house on the river, the other guests were shocked at his want of good feeling. Coming forth to the lawn, Mr. Blaker received but a smile and a nod from his host, Count Vasili, and hardly two words from any one person. Mr. Blaker sat himself down in a deck-chair all alone. His face was pallid and worn. Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde approached him.

"So surprised to see you, Mr. Blaker," she said in her highest voice.

"Yes, ma'am." Mr. Blaker's eyes were roving. Every servant passing from the house was scanned. He did not—which was rude—give a glance to Mrs. Chetwind-Chatwynde. So she viciously—

"I suppose you will not be long in England, Mr. Blaker?" A bicycle bell sounded, and he started round.

"Why not, ma'am?" he asked blandly over his shoulder.

"Oh, perhaps you have nothing left—to require your return to America?" said Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde, with a laugh, and turned her back. Mr. Blaker stared at it as it departed. No one else came to honour him. He was left a grey, lonely patch on the lawn, derelict.

Lord Clandon ran a punt up to the steps and helped Cicely out. They stood together a moment looking at the kindly party. All the guests were chattering and laughing together—save one, the forlorn Mr. Blaker. A footman came forth with a salver and a telegram. It was brought to Mr. Blaker. He rose to snatch at it, tore it open as he dropped back, then bent over it, ran his forefinger along the words.

Some of the party stared at him, and a peal of high, appropriate laughter rang out.

"Oh, hang!" said Lord Clandon.

"Yes!" said Cicely with fervour. "Isn't it vile?"

"I would like to be a dog," said Lord Clandon. "A large, fluffy, wet dog. I would shake myself in that crowd." Mr. Blaker was lying back in his chair staring at the telegram spread out on his knee. "Poor beggar! He's hit!" said Lord Clandon, and marched on the crowd. There he took his host, Count Vasili, by the button.

Cicely went quickly to Mr. Blaker. Mr. Blaker was folding his telegram carefully. He said to the footman: "G' way!" and then saw Cicely standing before him, slim and white. A smile came quick on the pallid face, a curious light in his eyes.

"I'm desolate, Mr. Blaker. Won't you have pity on me?"

"Pity!" Mr. Blaker sprang up. "Where will you have it?"

"There's a punt."

"Can I tip a punt up, anyway? If I can, Miss Paignton, I shall. I have no luck on the waters."

"I'll pole," said Cicely. Cicely was surprised at his gaiety.

So Mr. Blaker, recumbent on cushions, watched the lithe figure sway above him, saw the gleam of her white arm. Cicely poled with power. Her opinions of her fellow-guests were expressed to the gravel of the river-bed.

"Do I talk to the girl at the pole?"

"She'll answer," Cicely smiled down at him.

"It's a deal!" cried Mr. Blaker. "Wal, now, what have I done?"

"Done?" Cicely flushed. "To those horrible people? Oh——"

"Not that. I have the hang of that. You began to cut me some while back, Miss Paignton. I'd offended you, likely?"

"No," said Cicely, and poled on, avoiding his eyes. Blaker sighed.

"It's something to take back, anyway," he said, and looked away at the red evening light on the bare hills.

"You're going back to America?" said Cicely, letting her pole trail in the water. Blaker nodded.

"It's time."

"I—I wonder if you'd let me say—I'm sorry, very, very——"

"Great James, no!" cried Blaker fiercely. "Do you think I want pity?" He sprang up and faced her. The punt rocked. Cicely flushed under his gleaming eyes.

"I beg your pardon. I—I—I didn't want to hurt you," she stammered. Blaker started forward and caught her wrists.

"Heavens! d'you think this is like treading on toes?" he cried. "Say, a man's been hoping for you for seven years; and he comes, and you treat him like a friend one day and a cur-dog the next; and then—when he's going—'you're sorry'!" He laughed, and she felt his grip grow harder. Then he dropped her wrists and drew back, for her face was very white and she was biting her lip. "I hurt you. I ask your pardon, Miss Paignton."

"No!" Cicely met his eyes. "It was fair. Quite fair." She brought the words out with a rush, and then, very sedately: "Will you sit down, please? I want to say something." But she did not say it at once. She sat opposite Mr. Blaker with her chin on her hand, and her sleeve drooping back from the little white arm. She leant forward to look in Blaker's eyes, and her own were very dark and intent. "I did play with you," said Cicely in a low voice. "I had always liked you. But I listened to silly people who said that I wanted your money——"

"Great James!" Blaker's expletive broke through his breath. Cicely went calmly on—

"Now it is different. If you like, I—I—will go with you to America." While she watched, his eyes grew hard and keen; his lip curled.

"Yes, now it's different. Y' wouldn't take me when we were level. My dollars are gone now. So now you'll come to me for charity? Thank you so much, Miss Paignton. I go back alone." And behold, before his sneer and his glittering eyes, Cicely caught her hands together and——

"I knew!" she cried. "I knew you'd say it!" and the blood flitted to and fro in her cheeks, and her bosom rose stormily. Blaker's scar flamed a red line across his cheek. He sprang up and raised awkwardly the unfamiliar pole.

"I allow I have amused you enough, Miss Paignton," he growled, and proceeded to shove the punt broadside on to the towing-path. Cicely rose from her cushions, laid her hands on his on the pole, and arrested his energy.

"Indeed, indeed I meant it," said Cicely, blushing. "Only I did want you to say that." Blaker's amazement let the pole go splash. Cicely stooped for it and, hidden under her hat, said to the river Thames: "Oh, don't you see? You'll come back. I know you will come. And—and—I will be Cicely Paignton—still—waiting." Blaker dropped down beside her in the bottom of the punt, he caught the little wet hands on the pole and held them. Starry eyes turned to him, and trembling lips.

"That's so?" Blaker muttered; and Cicely, trying to laugh, echoed—

"That's so!" Then Blaker began to smile.

"I allow I'll be back in a month," he said. The bright eyes opened very wide, suspecting Mr. Blaker of brag, and to the doubting eyes he spake: "Would I have come to you with the shake of a shade of a chance of turning beggar? I waited seven years, little girl."

"You're not——?" cried Cicely, and then blushed dark. "Oh, you make me feel mean—and mean!" Whereat Blaker slipped his arm round her, and as she yielded, whispered—

"Mean? You? Cis!"

"I am! But I couldn't know—and that telegram." That telegram was given her. "'R.C. snowed under. W. signed,'" Cicely read aloud. "Well, sir?"

"Means I've won, Cis.... Cis, have I?"

In the last red rays of the sun she bent her head back for him. His lips crushed down upon hers.

Now, meanwhile remember that Lord Clandon on that charitable lawn had spoken with Count Vasili. Thus—

"I'm goin' to be beastly rude——" Lord Clandon began, and there stuck.

"I admire the preface," quoth Count Vasili.

"You saw those pigs with Blaker?"

"It was entertaining," quoth Count Vasili.

"Oh! Well, if people wanted to insult a man when he's down on his luck, they'd not do it in my house. That's all." He was departing in wrath when Count Vasili detained him.

"My friend, the pig he is an interesting animal. I am not a pig. Only I study him. Wait."

As the sun set, Count Vasili's pigs, fearing a chill, herded indoors. Then Count Vasili chose a moment of silence to address Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde.

"I hope that you did congratulate my friend Blaker? No? You did not know he had conquered in America? No?" He looked all round at the listening pigs. "Nobody did know? Ah! now I understand." There was a long, silent stare at the smiling Count. Then everyone began to talk vigorously about something else.

Soon Mr. Blaker entered—alone. Cicely would not face the crowd. Mr. Blaker was received with effusion. Mr. Blaker was besieged.

"You see? My pigs, are they not interesting?" said Count Vasili.

The names of the guests at the wedding filled three-quarters of a newspaper column. They were received by Mrs. Chetwind-Chetwynde.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1961, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.