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   Chapter 6 MUMMERS ALL

Mrs. Falchion, Complete By Gilbert Parker Characters: 37696

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


The next day was beautiful, if not enjoyable. Stirring preparations were being made for the ball. Boyd Madras was transferred to a cabin far forward, but he did not appear at any meal in the saloon, or on deck. In the morning I was busy in the dispensary. While I was there, Justine Caron came to get some medicine that I had before given her. Her hand was now nearly well. Justine had nerves, and it appeared to me that her efforts to please her mistress, and her occasional failures, were wearing her unduly. I said to her: "You have been worried, Miss Caron?"

"Oh, no, Doctor," she quickly replied.

I looked at her a little sceptically, and she said at last: "Well, perhaps a little. You see, madame did not sleep well last night, and I read to her. It was a little difficult, and there was not much choice of books."

"What did you read?" I asked mechanically, as I prepared her medicine.

"Oh, some French novel first-De Maupassant's; but madame said he was impertinent-that he made women fools and men devils. Then I tried some modern English tales, but she said they were silly. I knew not what to do. But there was Shakespeare. I read Antony and Cleopatra, and she said that the play was grand, but the people were foolish except when they died-their deaths were magnificent. Madame is a great critic; she is very clever."

"Yes, yes, I know that; but when did she fall asleep?"

"About four o'clock in the morning. I was glad, because she is very beautiful when she has much sleep."

"And you-does not sleep concern you in this matter of madame?"

"For me," she said, looking away, "it is no matter. I have no beauty. Besides, I am madame's servant,"-she blushed slightly at this,"-and she is generous with money."

"Yes, and you like money so much?"

Her eyes flashed a little defiantly as she looked me in the face. "It is everything to me."

She paused as if to see the effect upon me, or to get an artificial (I knew it was artificial) strength to go on, then she added: "I love money. I work for it; I would bear all for it-all that a woman could bear. I-" But here she paused again, and, though the eyes still flashed, the lips quivered. Hers was not the face of cupidity. It was sensitive, yet firm, as with some purpose deep as her nature was by creation and experience, and always deepening that nature. I suddenly got the conviction that this girl had a sorrow of some kind in her life, and that this unreal affection for money was connected with it. Perhaps she saw my look of interest, for she hurriedly continued: "But, pardon me, I am foolish. I shall be better when the pain is gone. Madame is kind; she will let me sleep this afternoon, perhaps."

I handed her the medicine, and then asked: "How long have you known Mrs. Falchion, Miss Caron?"

"Only one year."

"Where did you join her?"

"In Australia."

"In Australia? You lived there?"

"No, monsieur, I did not live there."

A thought came to my mind-the nearness of New Caledonia to Australia, and New Caledonia was a French colony-a French penal colony! I smiled as I said the word penal to myself. Of course the word could have no connection with a girl like her, but still she might have lived in the colony. So I added quietly: "You perhaps had come from New Caledonia?"

Her look was candid, if sorrowful. "Yes, from New Caledonia."

Was she, thought I, the good wife of some convict-some political prisoner?-the relative of some refugee of misfortune? Whatever she was, I was sure that she was free from any fault. She evidently thought that I might suspect something uncomplimentary of her, for she said: "My brother was an officer at Noumea. He is dead. I am going to France, when I can."

I tried to speak gently to her. I saw that her present position must be a trial. I advised her to take more rest, or she would break down altogether, for she was weak and nervous; I hinted that she might have to give up entirely, if she continued to tax herself heedlessly; and, finally, that I would speak to Mrs. Falchion about her. I was scarcely prepared for her action then. Tears came to her eyes, and she said to me, her hand involuntarily clasping my arm: "Oh no, no! I ask you not to speak to madame. I will sleep-I will rest. Indeed, I will. This service is so much to me. She is most generous. It is because I am so altogether hers, night and day, that she pays me well. And the money is so much. It is my honour-my dead brother's honour. You are kind at heart; you will make me strong with medicine, and I will ask God to bless you. I could not suffer such poverty again. And then, it is my honour!"

I felt that she would not have given way thus had not her nerves been shaken, had she not lived so much alone, and irregularly, so far as her own rest and comfort were concerned, and at such perpetual cost to her energy. Mrs. Falchion, I knew, was selfish, and would not, or could not, see that she was hard upon the girl, by such exactions as midnight reading and loss of sleep. She demanded not merely physical but mental energy-a complete submission of both; and when this occurred with a sensitive, high-strung girl, she was literally feeding on another's life-blood. If she had been told this, she, no doubt, would have been very much surprised.

I reassured Justine. I told her that I should say nothing directly to Mrs. Falchion, for I saw she was afraid of unpleasantness; but I impressed upon her that she must spare herself, or she would break down, and extorted a promise that she would object to sitting up after midnight to read to Mrs. Falchion.

When this was done, she said: "But, you see, it is not madame's fault that I am troubled."

"I do not wish," I said, "to know any secret,-I am a doctor, not a priest,-but if there is anything you can tell me, in which I might be able to help you, you may command me in so far as is possible." Candidly, I think I was too inquiring in those days.

She smiled wistfully, and replied: "I will think of what you say so kindly, and perhaps, some day soon, I will tell you of such trouble as I have. But, believe me, it is no question of wrong at all, by any one-now. The wrong is over. It is simply that a debt of honour must be satisfied; it concerns my poor dead brother."

"Are you going to relatives in France?" I asked.

"No; I have no relatives, no near friends. I am alone in the world. My mother I cannot remember; she died when I was very young. My father had riches, but they went before he died. Still, France is home, and I must go there." She turned her head away to the long wastes of sea.

Little more passed between us. I advised her to come often on deck, and mingle with the passengers; and told her that, when she pleased, I should be glad to do any service that lay in my power. Her last words were that, after we put into Aden, she would possibly take me at my word.

After she had gone, I found myself wondering at my presentiment that Aden was to be associated with critical points in the history of some of us; and from that moment I began to connect Justine Caron with certain events which, I felt sure, were marshalling to an unhappy conclusion. I wondered, too, what part I should play in the development of the comedy, tragedy, or whatever it was to be. In this connection I thought of Belle Treherne, and of how I should appear in her eyes if that little scene with Mrs. Falchion, now always staring me in the face, were rehearsed before her. I came quickly to my feet, with a half-imprecation at myself; and a verse of a crude sea-song was in my ears:

"You can batten down cargo, live and dead,

But you can't put memory out of sight;

You can paint the full sails overhead,

But you can't make a black deed white...."

Angry, I said to myself: "It wasn't a black deed; it was foolish, it was infatuation, it was not right, but it is common to shipboard; and I lost my head, that was all."

Some time later I was still at work in the dispensary, when I heard Mr. Treherne's voice calling to me from outside. I drew back the curtain. He was leaning on his daughter's arm, while in one hand he carried a stick. "Ah, Doctor, Doctor," cried he, "my old enemy, sciatica, has me in its grip, and why, in this warm climate, I can't understand. I'm afraid I shall have to heave-to, like the 'Fulvia', and lay up for repairs. And, by the way, I'm glad we are on our course again." He entered, and sat down. Belle Treherne bowed to me gravely, and smiled slightly. The smile was not peculiarly hospitable. I knew perfectly well that to convince her of the reality of my growing admiration for her would be no easy task; but I was determined to base my new religion of the affections upon unassailable canons, and I felt that now I could do best by waiting and proving myself.

While I was arranging some medicine for Mr. Treherne, and advising him on care against chills in a hot climate, he suddenly broke in with: "Dr. Marmion, Captain Ascott tells me that we shall get to Aden by Tuesday morning next. Now, I was asked by a friend of mine in London to visit the grave of a son of his-a newspaper correspondent-who was killed in one of the expeditions against the native tribes, and was buried in the general cemetery at Aden. On the way out I was not able to fulfil the commission, because we passed Aden in the night. But there will be plenty of time to do so on Tuesday, I am told. This, however, is my difficulty: I cannot go unless I am better, and I'm afraid there is no such luck as that in store for me. These attacks last a week, at least. I wish my daughter, however, to go. One of the ladies on board will go with her-Mrs. Callendar, I believe; and I am going to be so bold as to ask you to accompany them, if you will. I know you better than any officer on board; and, besides, I should feel safer and better satisfied if she went under the protection of an officer,-these barbarous places, you know!-though, of course, it may be asking too much of you, or what is impossible."

I assented with pleasure. Belle Treherne was looking at the Latin names on the bottles at the time, and her face showed no expression either of pleasure or displeasure. Mr. Treherne said bluffly: "Dr. Marmion, you are kind-very kind, and, upon my word, I'm much obliged." He then looked at his daughter as if expecting her to speak.

She looked up and said conventionally: "You are very kind, Dr. Marmion, and I am much obliged." Then I thought her eyes twinkled with amusement at her own paraphrase of her father's speech, and she added: "Mrs. Callendar and myself will be much honoured indeed, and feel very important in having an officer to attend us. Of course everybody else will be envious, and, again of course, that will add to our vanity."

At this she would have gone; but her father, who was suffering just enough pain to enjoy anything that would divert his attention from it, fell into conversation upon a subject of mutual interest, in which his daughter joined on occasion, but not with enthusiasm. Yet, when they came to go, she turned and said kindly, almost softly, as her fingers touched mine: "I almost envy you your profession, Dr. Marmion. It opens doors to so much of humanity and life."

"There is no sin," I laughingly said, "in such a covetousness, and, believe me, it can do no harm to me, at least." Then I added gravely: "I should like my profession, in so far as I am concerned, to be worth your envy." She had passed through the door before the last words were said, but I saw that her look was not forbidding.

.........................

Is there unhappiness anywhere? There is not a vexing toss of the sea, not a cloud in the sky. Is not catastrophe dead, and the arrows of tragedy spilled? Peace broadens into deep, perfumed dusk towards Arabia; languor spreads towards the unknown lands of the farthest south. No anxious soul leans out from the casement of life; the time is heavy with delightful ease. There is no sound that troubles; the world goes by and no one heeds; for it is all beyond this musky twilight and this pleasant hour. In this palace on the sea Mirth trails in and out with airy and harmonious footsteps. Even the clang-clang of eight bells has music-not boisterous nor disturbing, but muffled in the velvety air. Then, through this hemisphere of jocund quiet, there sounds the "All's well" of the watch.

But, look! Did you see a star fall just then, and the long avenue of expiring flame behind it?-Do not shudder; it is nothing. No cry of pain came through that brightness. There was only the "All's well" from the watchers.

The thud of the engines falls on a padded atmosphere, and the lascars move like ghosts along the decks. The long, smooth promenade is canopied and curtained, and hung with banners, and gay devices of the gorgeous East are contributing to the federation of pleasure.

And now, through a festooned doorway, there come the people of many lands to inhabit the gay court. Music follows their footsteps: Hamlet and Esther; Caractacus and Iphigenia; Napoleon and Hermione; The Man in the Iron Mask and Sappho; Garibaldi and Boadicea; an Arab sheikh and Joan of Arc; Mahomet and Casablanca; Cleopatra and Hannibal-a resurrected world. But the illusion is short and slight. This world is very sordid-of shreds and patches, after all. It is but a pretty masquerade, in which feminine vanity beats hard against strangely-clothed bosoms; and masculine conceit is shown in the work of the barber's curling-irons and the ship-carpenter's wooden swords and paper helmets. The pride of these folk is not diminished because Hamlet's wig gets awry, or a Roman has trouble with his foolish garters. Few men or women can resist mumming; they fancy themselves as somebody else, dead or living. Yet these seem happy in this nonsense. The indolent days appear to have deadened hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. They shall strut and fret their hour upon this little stage. Let that sprightly girl forget the sudden death which made her an orphan; the nervous broker his faithless wife; the grey-haired soldier his silly and haunting sins; the bankrupt his creditors.

"On with the dance, let joy be unconfined!" For the captain is on the bridge, the engineer is beneath; we have stout walls, and a ceaseless sentry-go. In the intervals of the dance wine passes, and idle things are said beside the draped and cushioned capstan or in the friendly gloom of a boat, which, in the name of safety, hangs taut between its davits. Let this imitation Cleopatra use the Cleopatra's arts; this mellow Romeo (sometime an Irish landlord) vow to this coy Juliet; this Helen of Troy-Of all who walked these decks, mantled and wigged in characters not their own, Mrs. Falchion was the handsomest, most convincing. With a graceful swaying movement she passed along the promenade, and even envy praised her. Her hand lay lightly on the arm of a brown stalwart native of the Indian hills, fierce and savage in attire. Against his wild picturesqueness and brawny strength, her perfectness of animal beauty, curbed and rendered delicate by her inner coldness, showed in fine contrast; and yet both were matched in the fine natural prowess of form.

With a singular affirmation of what had been, after all, but a sadly-humourous proposal, I had attired myself in a Greek costume-quickly made by my steward, who had been a tailor-and was about to leave my cabin, when Hungerford entered, and exclaimed, as he took his pipe from his mouth in surprise: "Marmion, what does this mean? Don't you know your duties better? No officer may appear at these flare-ups in costume other than his uniform. You're the finest example of suburban innocence and original sin I've seen this last quarter of a century, wherein I've kept the world-and you-from tottering to destruction." He reached for one of my cigars.

Without a word, and annoyed at my own stupidity, I slowly divested myself of the clothes of Greece; while Hungerford smoked on, humming to himself occasionally a few bars of The Buccaneer's Bride, but evidently occupied with something in his mind. At length he said: "Marmion, I said suburban innocence and original sin, but you've a grip on the law of square and compass too. I'll say that for you, old chap-and I hope you don't think I'm a miserable prig."

Still I replied nothing, but offered him one of my best cigars, taking the other one from him, and held the match while he lighted it-which, between men, is sufficient evidence of good-feeling. He understood, and continued: "Of course you'll keep your eye on Mrs. Falchion and Madras to-night: if he is determined that they shall meet, and you have arranged it. I'd like to know how it goes before you turn in, if you don't mind. And, I say, Marmion, ask Miss Treherne to keep a dance for me-a waltz-towards the close of the evening, will you? Excuse me, but she is the thorough-bred of the ship. And if I have only one hop down the promenade, I want it to be with a girl who'll remind me of some one that is making West Kensington worth inhabiting. Only think, Marmion, of a girl like her-a graduate in arts, whose name and picture have been in all the papers-being willing to make up with me, Dick Hungerford! She is as natural and simple as a girl can be, and doesn't throw Greek roots at you, nor try to convince you of the difference between the songs of the troubadours and the sonnets of Petrarch. She doesn't care a rap whether Dante's Beatrice was a real woman or a principle; whether James the First poisoned his son; or what's the margin between a sine and a cosine. She can take a fence in the hunting-field like a bird-! Oh, all right, just hold still, and I'll unfasten it." And he struggled with a recalcitrant buckle. "Well, you'll not forget about Miss Treherne, will you? She ought to go just as she is. Fancy-dress on her would be gilding the gold; for, though she isn't surpassingly beautiful, she is very fine, very fine indeed. There, now, you're yourself again, and look all the better for it."

By this time I was again in my uniform, and I sat down, and smoked, and looked at Hungerford. His long gossip had been more or less detached, and I had said nothing. I understood that he was trying, in his blunt, honest way, to turn my thoughts definitely from Mrs. Falchion to Belle Treherne; and he never seemed to me such a good fellow as at that moment. I replied at last: "All right, Hungerford; I'll be your deputation, your ambassador, to Miss Treherne. What time shall we see you on deck?"

"About 11.40-just in time to trip a waltz on the edge of eight bells."

"On the edge of Sunday, my boy."

"Yes. Do you know, it is just four years ago tomorrow since I found Boyd Madras on the No Man's Sea?"

"Let us not talk of it," said I.

"All

right. I merely stated the fact because it came to me. I'm mum henceforth. And I want to talk about something else. The first officer,-I don't know whether you have noticed him lately, but I tell you this: if we ever get into any trouble with this ship he'll go to pieces. Why, the other night, when the engine got tangled, he was as timid as a woman. That shock he had with the coal, as I said before, has broken his nerve, big man as he is."

"Hungerford," I said, "you do not generally croak, but you are earning the character of the raven for yourself to-night. The thing is growing on you. What IS the use of bringing up unpleasant subjects? You are an old woman." I fear there was the slightest irritation in my voice; but, truth is, the last few days' experiences had left their mark on me, and Hungerford's speech and manner had suddenly grown trying.

He stood for a moment looking at me with direct earnestness from under his strong brows, and then he stepped forward, and, laying his hand upon my arm, rejoined: "Do not be raw, Marmion. I'm only a blunt, stupid sailor; and, to tell you God's truth, as I have told you before, every sailor is superstitious-every real sailor. He can't help it-I can't. I have a special fit on me now. Why don't I keep it to myself? Because I'm selfish, and it does me good to talk. You and I are in one secret together, and it has made me feel like sharing this thing with a pal, I suppose."

I seized his hand and begged his pardon, and called myself unpleasant names, which he on the instant stopped, and said: "That's all right, Marmy; shake till the knuckles crack! I'm off. Don't forget the dance." He disappeared down the passage.

Then I went on deck, and the scene which I have so imperfectly described passed before me. Mrs. Falchion was surrounded with admirers all the evening, both men and women; and two of the very stately English ladies of title, to whom I before referred, were particularly gracious to her; while she, in turn, bore herself with becoming dignity. I danced with her once, and was down on her programme for another dance. I had also danced with Belle Treherne, who appeared as Miriam, and was chaperoned by one of the ladies of title; and I had also "sat out" one dance with her. Chancing to pass her as the evening wore on, I saw her in conversation with Mrs. Falchion, who had dismissed her cavalier, preferring to talk, she said, for dancing was tiresome work on the Indian Ocean. Belle Treherne, who up to that moment had never quite liked her, yielded to the agreeable charm of her conversation and her frank applausive remarks upon the costumes of the dancers. She had a good word for every one, and she drew her companion out to make the most of herself, as women less often do before women than in the presence of men. I am certain that her interest in Belle Treherne was real, and likewise certain that she cherished no pique against her because I had transferred my allegiance. Indeed, I am sure that she had no deep feeling of injured pride where I was concerned. Such after acidity as she sometimes showed was directed against the foolish part I had played with her and my action in subsequent events; it did not proceed from personal feeling or self-value.

Some time after this meeting I saw Boyd Madras issue from the companion-way dressed as a Greek. He wore a false beard, and carried off well his garments of white and scarlet and gold-a very striking and presentable man. He came slowly forward, looking about him steadily, and, seeing me, moved towards me. But for his manner I should scarcely have recognised him. A dance was beginning; but many eyes were turned curiously, and even admiringly, to him; for he looked singular and impressive and his face was given fulness by a beard and flesh paints. I motioned him aside where there was shadow, and said: "Well, you have determined to see her?"

"Yes," he said; "and I wish you, if you will, to introduce me to her as Mr. Charles Boyd.

"You still think this wise?" I asked.

"It is my earnest wish. I must have an understanding to-night." He spoke very firmly, and showed no excitement. His manner was calm and gentlemanly.

He had a surprising air of decision. Supporting an antique character, he seemed for the moment to have put on also something of antique strength of mind, and to be no longer the timid invalid. "Then, come with me," I answered.

We walked in silence for a few minutes, and then, seeing where Mrs. Falchion was, we advanced to her. The next dance on her programme was mine. In my previous dance with her we had talked as we now did at table-as we did the first hour I met her-impersonally, sometimes (I am bold to say) amusingly. Now I approached her with apologies for being late. The man beside her took his leave. She had only just glanced at me at first, but now she looked at my companion, and the look stayed, curious, bewildered.

"It is fitting," I said, "that Greek meet Greek-that Menelaus should be introduced to Helen. May I say that when Helen is not Helen she is Mrs. Falchion, and when Menelaus is not Menelaus he is-Mr. Charles Boyd."

I am afraid my voice faltered slightly, because there came over me suddenly a nervousness as unexpected as it was inconvenient, and my words, which began lightly, ended huskily. Had Madras miscalculated this woman?

Her eyes were afire, and her face was as pale as marble; all its slight but healthy glow had fled. A very faint gasp came from her lips. I saw that she recognised him, as he bowed and mentioned her name, following my introduction. I knew not what might occur, for I saw danger in her eyes in reply to the beseeching look in his. Would melodrama supervene after all? She merely bowed towards me, as if to dismiss me, and then she rose, took his arm, and moved away. The interview that follows came to me from Boyd Madras afterwards.

When they had reached the semi-darkness of the forward part of the ship, she drew her hand quickly away, and, turning to him, said: "What is the name by which you are called? One does not always hear distinctly when being introduced."

He did not understand what she was about to do, but he felt the deadly coldness in her voice. "My name is known to you," he replied. He steadied himself.

"No, pardon me, I do not know it, for I do not know you.... I never saw you before." She leaned her hand carelessly on the bulwarks.

He was shocked, but he drew himself together. Their eyes were intent on each other. "You do know me! Need I tell you that I am Boyd Madras?" "Boyd Madras," she said, musing coldly. "A peculiar name."

"Mercy Madras was your name until you called yourself Mrs. Falchion," he urged indignantly, yet anxiously too.

"It suits you to be mysterious, Mr.-ah yes, Mr. Boyd Madras; but, really, you might be less exacting in your demands upon one's imagination." Her look was again on him casually.

He spoke breathlessly. "Mercy-Mercy-for God's sake, don't treat me like this! Oh, my wife, I have wronged you every way, but I loved you always-love you now. I have only followed you to ask you to forgive me, after all these years. I saw you in Colombo just before you came on board, and I felt that I must come also. You never loved me. Perhaps that is better for you, but you do not know what I suffer. If you could give me a chance, and come with me to America-anywhere, and let me start the world again? I can-travel straight now, and I will work hard, and be honest. I will-" But here sudden pain brought back the doubt concerning his life and its possibilities.

He leaned against the bulwarks, and made a helpless, despairing motion with his hand. "No, no!" he said; and added with a bitter laugh: "Not to begin the world again, but to end it as profitably and silently as I can. ... But you will listen to me, my wife? You will say at least that you forgive me the blight and ill I brought upon you?"

She had listened to him unmoved outwardly. Her reply was instant. "You are more melodramatic than I thought you capable of being-from your appearance," she said in a hard tone. "Your acting is very good, but not convincing. I cannot respond as would become the unity and sequence of the play.... I have no husband. My husband is dead-I buried him years ago. I have forgotten his name-I buried that too."

All the suffering and endured scorn of years came to revolt in him. He leaned forward now, and caught her wrist. "Have you no human feeling?" he said "no heart in you at all? Look. I have it in me here suddenly to kill you as you stand. You have turned my love to hate. From your smooth skin there I could strip those rags, and call upon them all to look at you-my wife-a felon's wife; mine to have and to hold-to hold, you hear!-as it was sworn at the altar. I bare my heart to you, repenting, and you mock it, torture it, with your undying hate and cruelty. You have no heart, no life. This white bosom is all of you-all of your power to make men love you-this, and your beauty. All else, by God, is cruel as the grave!"

His voice had sunk to a hoarse whisper. She had not sought to remove his hand, nor struggled in the least; and once it seemed as if this new development of his character, this animal fierceness, would conquer her: she admired courage. It was not so. He trembled with weakness before he had finished. He stopped too soon; he lost.

"You will find such parts exhausting to play," she murmured, as he let her arm fall. "It needs a strong physique to endure exaggerated, nervous sentiment. And now, please, let us perform less trying scenes." Then, with a low, cold anger, she continued: "It is only a coward that will dog a woman who finds his presence insupportable to her. This woman cannot, if she would, endure this man's presence; it is her nature. Well, why rush blindly at the impossible? She wishes to live her spoiled life alone. The man can have no part in it-never, never! But she has money. If in that way-"

He stretched out his hand protestingly, the fingers spread in excitement. "No more-not another word!" he said. "I ask for forgiveness, for one word of kindness-and I am offered money! the fire that burned me to eat, instead of bread! I had a wife once," he added in a kind of troubled dream, looking at her as if she were very far away, "and her name was Mercy-her name was Mercy-Mercy Madras. I loved her. I sinned for her sake. A message came that she was dead to me; but I could not believe that it was so altogether, for I had knelt at her feet and worshipped her. I went to her, but she sent me away angrily. Years passed. 'She will have relented now,' I said, and I followed her, and found her as I thought. But it was not she; it was a wicked ghost in her beautiful body-nothing more. And then I turned away and cursed all things, because I knew that I should never see my wife again. Mercy Madras was dead. ... Can you not hear the curses?"

Still she was unmoved. She said with a cruel impatience in her voice: "Yes, Mercy Madras is dead. How then can she forgive? What could her ghost-as you call her-do, but offer the thing which her husband-when he was living-loved so well that he sold himself into bondage, and wrecked his world and hers for it-Money? Well, money is at his disposal, as she said before-"

But she spoke no more. The man in him straight way shamed her into silence with a look. She bowed her head, yet not quite in shame, for there was that in her eyes which made her appear as if his suffering was a gratuitous infliction. But at this moment he was stronger, and he drew her eyes up by the sheer force of his will. "I need no money now," he coldly declared. "I need nothing-not even you; and can you fancy that, after waiting all these years for this hour, money would satisfy me? Do you know," he continued slowly and musingly, "I can look upon you now-yes, at this moment-with more indifference than you ever showed to me? A moment ago I loved you: now I think you horrible; because you are no woman; you have a savage heart. And some day you will suffer as I do, so terribly that even the brazen serpent could not cure you. Then you will remember me."

He was about to leave her, but he had not taken two steps before he turned, with all the anger and the passion softened in his eyes, and said, putting his hand out towards yet not to touch her, "Good-bye-for the last time." And then the look was such as might be turned upon a forgiven executioner.

"Good-night," she replied, and she did not look into his eyes, but out to sea. Her eyes remained fixed upon its furtive gloom. She too was furtive and gloomy at this moment. They were both sleek, silent, and remorseless. There was a slight rustle to her dress as she changed her position. It was in grim keeping with the pitiless rustle of the sea.

And so they parted. I saw him move on towards the companion-way, and though I felt instinctively that all had gone ill with him, I was surprised to see how erect he walked. After a minute I approached her. She heard me coming, and presently turned to me with a curious smile. "Who is Mr. Charles Boyd?" she asked. "I did not pierce his disguise. I could not tell whether I had met him on board before. Have I? But my impression is that I had not seen him on the ship."

"No, you had not seen him," I replied. "He had a fancy to travel, until yesterday, with the second-class passengers. Now he has a first-class cabin-in his proper place, in fact."

"You think so-in his proper place?" The suggestion was not pleasant.

"Assuredly. Why do you speak in that way?" was my indignant reply.

She took my arm as we moved on. "Because he was slightly rude to me."

I grew bold, and determined to bring her to some sort of reckoning.

"How rude were you to him?"

"Not rude at all. It is not worth while being so-to anybody," was her chilly answer.

"I was under the impression you had met him before," I said gravely.

"Indeed? And why?" She raised her eyebrows at me. I pushed the matter to a conclusion. "He was ill the other day-he has heart trouble. It was necessary for me to open the clothes about his neck. On his breast I saw a little ivory portrait of a woman's head."

"A woman's head," she repeated absently, and her fingers idly toyed with a jingling ornament in her belt. In an idle moment I had sketched the head, as I remembered it, on a sheet of paper, and now I took it from my pocket and handed it to her. We were standing near a port-hole of the music saloon, from which light streamed.

"That is the head," said I.

She deliberately placed the paper in the belt of light, and, looking at it, remarked mechanically: "This is the head, is it?" She showed no change of countenance, and handed it back to me as if she had seen no likeness. "It is very interesting," she said, "but one would think you might make better use of your time than by surreptitiously sketching portraits from sick men's breasts. One must have plenty of leisure to do that sort of thing, I should think. Be careful that you do not get into mischief, Dr. Marmion." She laughed. "Besides, where was the special peculiarity in that portrait that you should treasure it in pencil so conventionally?-Your drawing is not good.-Where was the point or need?"

"I have no right to reply to that directly," I responded. "But this man's life is not for always, and if anything happened to him it would seem curious to strangers to find that on his breast-because, of course, more than I would see it there."

"If anything happened? What should happen? You mean, on board ship?" There was a little nervousness in her tone now.

"I am only hinting at an awkward possibility," I replied.

She looked at me scornfully. "When did you see that picture on his breast?" I told her. "Ah! before THAT day?" she rejoined. I knew that she referred to the evening when I had yielded foolishly to the fascination of her presence. The blood swam hotly in my face. "Men are not noble creatures," she continued.

"I am afraid you would not give many their patents of nobility if you had power to bestow them," I answered.

"Most men at the beginning, and very often ever after, are ignoble creatures. Yet I should confer the patents of nobility, if it were my prerogative; for some would succeed in living up to them. Vanity would accomplish that much. Vanity is the secret of noblesse oblige; not radical virtue-since we are beginning to be bookish again."

"To what do you reduce honour and right?" returned I.

"As I said to you on a memorable occasion," she answered very drily, "to a code."

"That is," rejoined I, "a man does a good action, lives an honourable life, to satisfy a social canon-to gratify, say, a wife or mother, who believes in him, and loves him?"

"Yes." She was watching Belle Treherne promenading with her father. She drew my attention to it by a slight motion of the hand, but why I could not tell.

"But might not a man fall by the same rule of vanity?" I urged. "That he shall appear well in their eyes, that their vanity in turn should be fed, might he not commit a crime, and so bring misery?"

"Yes, it is true either way-pleasure or misery. Please come to the saloon and get me an ice before the next dance."

I was perplexed. Was she altogether soulless? Even now, as we passed among the dancers, she replied to congratulations on her make-up and appearance with evident pleasure.

An hour later, I was taking Belle Treherne from the arm of Hungerford for the last waltz, and, in reply to an inquiring glance from him, I shook my head mournfully. His face showed solicitude as he walked away. Perhaps it did not gratify my vanity that Belle Treherne, as her father limped forward at the stroke of eight bells to take her below, said to me: "How downright and thorough Mr. Hungerford is!" But I frankly admitted that he was all she might say good of him, and more.

The deck was quickly dismantled, the lights went out, and all the dancers disappeared. The masquerade was over; and again, through the darkness, rose the plaintive "All's well!" And it kept ringing in my ears until it became a mocking sound, from which I longed to be free. It was like the voice of Lear crying over the body of Cordelia: "Never, never, never, never, never!"

Something of Hungerford's superstitious feeling possessed me. I went below, and involuntarily made my way to Boyd Madras's cabin.

Though the night was not hot, the door was drawn to. I tapped. His voice at once asked who was there, and when I told him, and inquired how he was, he said he was not ill, and asked me to come to his cabin in the morning, if I would. I promised, and bade him good-night. He responded, and then, as I turned away from the door, I heard him repeat the good-night cordially and calmly.

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