Зображення сторінки

speech on any platform. It is believed romance to favor you. But," and he by many that he might achieve greatness if pursed up his lips as if in doubt and looked he chose. But he never chooses. He has at Captain Rames with a searching eye. the air at a discussion of being able to say Rames was disconcerted. He had been the last word on any subject, but he does back in England for some six months, and not say it. He seems, indeed, to stand during those six months he had been much high in the world on a pedestal which has sought after. At this period of his life, no legs to it. That is how I describe him. doubts of him had been rarely expressed For the rest, he is rich, and I have never behind his back, and never to his face. heard him utter an opinion which was not Young ladies whom he did not know had derived from others, or altogether banal. clamored for his autograph, young ladies But, listen! He is going to speak to us." whom he did know had approached him

“However, I can recommend the old with a winning humility; established beauty brandy," was all that Mr. Benoliel had at had smiled at him; established fame had that moment to say.

welcomed him as an equal. The calm “There, what did I tell you!” said Sir scrutiny of Henry Smale was a displeasing James, triumphant at the success of his splash of cold water. diagnosis.

“Of course," he said, with a diffidence, "Well, if his talk is banal his brandy which he did not feel. “I might be a isn't, God bless him,” said Captain Rames. failure.” “But I interrupted you."

And Henry Smale replied promptly: "Ile has been guilty of one weakness," "That's just it. You might be a failure. Sir James resumed. “He married into an Meanwhile you are a great success, and old family of great poverty and the mar- have the chance of standing quite alone in riage lasted for six months. His wife lives your career. For what you set out to do handsomely in Eton Square- But I see is not yet done. You leave the laurel for that I am going to lose you, for our host another to snatch.” is beckoning to you."

“That is quite true Mr. Smale,” Harry Captain Rames obeyed the summons Rames replied. “But I have considered with alacrity and walked round the table. it. I am not yielding to an impulse I

"I see that you are going on to Bucking- have counted the risk!”. ham Palace," said Mr. Benoliel. “So I He spoke with a nice adjustment of thought that I would interrupt your con- firmness and modesty. Henry Smale rose versation with Sir James Burrell. For I from his chair. want to introduce you to Mr. Smale.” “Very well,” he said. “Will you come

Mr. Smale held out his hand. At a sign down to the House at four o'clock tofrom Benoliel, the butler brought up a chair morrow afternoon? I will introduce you and placed it between Smale and his host. to Hanley, the chief whip.”

“Sit down,” said Benoliel, and Captain Captain Rames flushed with pleasure. Rames obeyed.

“Thank you, I shall be delighted," he “Benoliel tells me,” said Smale, “that cried, rising in his turn; and as the two men you are thinking of Parliament."

shook hands, Mr. Benoliel said gently: Captain Rames was startled. He could “I was thinking of Ludsey. It has no not remember that in his one brief con- candidate on your side, Smale." versation with his host he had even mentioned his ambition.

XI “I inferred it from a casual word or two you let drop," said Benoliel with a smile.

A MAN ON THE MAKE “Well, it's true,” said Rames. “I should like to stand on your side very A WEEK later, and much about the same much, Mr. Smale, if I could find a seat to hour, Captain Rames was driven along the contest."

Mall in St. James's Park. Friday had come Henry Smale nodded.

round again, and the light did not burn in “That, no doubt, could be arranged. the clock-tower at Westminster. But the You would be a strong candidate. You windows of the admiralty blazed upon the bring a reputation and some breath of horse-guards' parade, and its great doors

stood open for a glittering company. It was comes had made him thoroughly aware that the night of official dinners and receptions he was a momentous personage to young in honor of the king's birthday. Soldiers in ladies. He was human enough to enjoy his scarlet, sailors in blue, ministers and privy importance, and he followed Mr. Benoliel councillors in gold, and ladies in their with alacrity toward a side of the room shimmering gowns thronged with the small- where Cynthia Daventry sat talking to a er fry in black coats up the shallow steps young man in the office of the Board of into a hall decorated with Union Jacks. Trade. Rames noticed the clear and deliThere was a thrill of expectancy in the air cate profile of her face and the distinction that evening. Rumors were rife that the which set her apart; he noticed too that, government was inclined to advise a disso- although she did not once look his way, lution. Members' wives were speculating the young gentleman in the Civil Service whether they must go back to the constitu- uniform was summarily dismissed. encies and tread the ways of deference; “Cynthia, this is Captain Rames," said their husbands how soon the time would Israel Benoliel, and however imperious a come when they must exchange the erect mood Cynthia might have shown to him, dignity of the member for the supple curves she had reserved none of it for Captain of the candidate; and curious eyes dwelt, Rames. Her eyes swept over him swiftly as if in hope of answer upon a sturdy with the shy and eager look to which he had white-haired man with a blunt, good-hu- grown accustomed: she gave him her hand. mored face, who, wearing a uniform with “I am very glad to meet you,” she said epaulets of red worsted, left you in doubt impulsively, “because " and she halted whether he was a fireman or an admiral, suddenly upon the word, with the color like He was, however, the prime minister, and a rose in her cheeks, “I suppose that you he stood in the hall amongst his friends, are tired of congratulations.” bearing the world lightly according to his Captain Rames expanded: he laughed wont. He stepped forward and shook genially, a fastidious critic might have said hands with Rames as he passed, and so too noisily. turned again to his friends. He was heard “By no means," he exclaimed. “Indeed, to say, “I have to-day achieved the ambi- Miss Daventry, you may lay it on with a tion of my life”; and curious ears eager trowel.” to glean a hint were inclined toward him. “I am not prepared to do that," answered

"To-day?” one of the group exclaimed. Cynthia, and though she spoke lightly, her “You have been prime-minister for three voice was guarded, and even in the eager years."

eyes there was a constant watchfulness. The Prime Minister laughed.

Eight months had passed since Cynthia “That's nothing,” he said. “To become had sat by the bedside of Robert Daventry Prime-Minister was merely to take a step and listened to his instructions. She had on the way. But to-night I wear for the first taken Diana Royle to live with her as he time the uniform of an Elder Brother of the had bidden, though she had taken her reTrinity, and that means that I need never luctantly. She had spent nearly all that wear knee-breeches again as long as I live.” time at the white house upon the Lon

The curious ears were disappointed; don road, in spite of Mrs. Royle's repeated Harry Rames shook hands with the First suggestion that Beaulieu, or preferably Cap Lord of the Admiralty, passed on, and in D'Ail in the south of France would be more the second room was touched on the elbow satisfactory places for wintering. Diana by Israel Benoliel.

Royle was glad to be relieved from her “I have been asked by a young friend of genteel penury in Sussex Gardens, Kenmine to bring you to her, and I beg you to sington, but she had no liking for the councome at once, for she is in her most imperi- try. Cynthia, however, was deaf to her ous mood," said Mr. Benoliel in a voice of hints. She lived for a while in solitude, whimsical entreaty.

broken only by the companionship of the “We will go to her as fast as we can,” few neighbors with whom she was most said Captain Rames.

intimate. The swift deaths of the two old He had now been three months in Eng, people who had so long lived for her and land, and the shy warmth of many wel- in her, left her desolate and inclined ever regretfully to search back across her life for door. I was in terror lest the door should occasions in which she had failed of kind- open. I dreaded what might come through. ness toward them, or hurt them by forget- I seem still to be looking into the great mirfulness. She was young, however, and with ror, and with the same kind of fear. Only no taint of morbidness. The sense of des- now the door opens upon the world, and not olation passed, and Diana Royle began to on the passage of a house." urge a new plan.

Diana Royle gathered up her embroid“You ought to take a house in town for ery and her book. the season, Cynthia. I know of one in an “If you are going to talk that sort of excellent position, which would just suit nonsense, Cynthia, I shall go to bed," she you. It's in Curzon Street, and the right remarked sternly, and left Cynthia still end of the street, one of those nice, flat- gazing into the fire. fronted houses, old outside and tiled bath- Cynthia had not been speaking with afrooms inside. I happened, I think, to see fectation. The terror with which her father an advertisement of it to-day."

had for so long inspired her had left its Mrs. Royle handed the newspaper to mark deep, as Robert Daventry upon his Cynthia, who looked it over.

death-bed had understood. He was dead “We might think of it,” she said. -yes, but she could not rid her thoughts of

“I am sure neither Mr. nor Mrs. Daven- the dreadful destiny which he had protry would have wished you to bury your posed for her. By so little she had escaped self always in the country.”

it. She would look round the room with “That's true," said Cynthia. “My its books and its dainty appointments, and father looked forward to my taking a house feel the arms of her chair to make sure in town.

that all was real. “I don't think you could do better than “If he had carried me away!" she would this, dear,” said Diana Royle. “I know cry. “If he had come back with the law the house quite well by sight."

at his side and had carried me away!" And “Well, we'll think of it,” said Cynthia. the streets of Buenos Aires would pass be

Mrs. Royle suppressed a shrug of irrita- fore her eyes in a procession of blazing tion.

thoroughfares and dimly lighted lanes. “You will find the house will be snapped And because she had escaped by so little, up, dear, if you take too long thinking of she looked out upon all unknown things it," she said with asperity.

with apprehension. Moreover, Daventry's Cynthia looked at her with innocent eyes. disclosure to her upon his death-bed had,

"But I expect there will be other houses in a strange way, added to her apprehenin London, won't there?" she asked. sion. There were three people—thus her

She had no wish to be churlish, she un- thoughts ran; two of them seeking to hide derstood how deeply her companion longed from her knowledge which they thought for the paved roadways, and the streets. would cause her pain; and she the third, And in her own heart too she was beginning seeking to hide from them, just for the same to turn to the unknown world of London reason, that the knowledge was hers alwith an expectancy of adventure, which ready. The years of terror had been needdrew her and thrilled her, even while she less, yet they had been endured, and it was hesitated.

love itself which had inflicted them. Kind“I don't understand you, Cynthia,” Di- ness then could do just the same harm as ana Royle cried in exasperation. “Are the deliberate will to hurt. She took that you afraid?"

thought into her heart of hearts, and beThe question was intended merely as a cause of it dreaded what might come gibe, but Cynthia turned to her with through when the door opened upon the startled eyes, and Mrs. Royle knew that world. she had chanced upon a truth.

With the coming of the spring, however, “Of what are you afraid?" she asked there came a stir in her blood. It was a curiously, and Cynthia answered while she spring of sunlit days and warm, soft nights. looked into the fire:

The great garden bursting into leaf and “I once lay all night staring into a great blossom, the annual miracle of tender bright mirror which revealed to me a shut green, the return of the birds, and the renewal of melody quickened the girl's both hands outstretched for new experipulses, gave to her a lightness of spirit, and ences. Yet she grasped them with a cermade her dreamily expectant of wonders. tain wariness. Eager she was, but her She walked of an evening under her great eagerness was guarded. For dim in the cedar trees, with the flowers and the paths shadows at the back of her mind there was glimmering pale in the warm dusk, and the still the image of the mirror and the door. earth whispered to her of things as yet be- She had been in London less than a month yond her knowledge; throbbing moments when Harry Rames was brought to her side of life, dreams minted in events. She woke by Mr. Benoliel. eagerly to the clear, early mornings and the They talked for a moment upon immablackbirds calling on the lawn; she lin- terial topics, and then Mr. Benoliel turned gered on that lawn when the windows in the to Harry Rames: house were alight and the nightingales sang “So it is all settled, I hear.” in the copses, and from some distant wood “Practically," replied Rames. “I have the clear, double note of a cuckoo was borne still to be formally adopted as prospective to her across the darkness. There came an candidate by the Three Hundred, but that evening in the middle of May when she will be done at a meeting on Monday burst her sheath like any bud on the bole night.” of one of her chestnut trees. She stood, a “Then there is no longer any reason why creature of emotion. The soft wind brought we should keep the matter secret, espeto her ears the chimes of the clock in the cially from Miss Daventry, who lives not great church tower at Ludsey. Desire for five miles from your constituency. Cynthe adventure overswept her fears. Her thia,” and both men turned toward her, feet danced, and her youth had its way“Captain Rames is going to stand for Ludwith her.

sey at the next election." She could see through the long open win- Captain Rames smiled modestly, expectdow Diana Royle in the drawing-room. ing congratulations. He liked congratulaShe ran across the grass.

tions, especially from pretty girls, but he “Di!”

was disappointed. He saw only a wrinkle Some new sound in her voice, a leap, a of perplexity upon Cynthia's forehead and thrill, made Diana look up. She saw a a shadow in her eyes. look in the girl's face, a light in her eyes, a “Why?" she asked. soft color in her cheeks which quite trans- “You disapprove?” said Rames. figured her.

Cynthia drew back. “I have been rather a brute, Di,” cried “I have no right to disapprove," she said Cynthia. “We will go to London." coldly, and Harry Rames planted himself “When?"

sturdily on both his feet in front of her. “As soon as we can pack.”

“Nevertheless you do," he insisted. A telegram was sent off to Mr. Benoliel, In spite of herself, a faint smile of amusewho was now in Grosvenor Square. He ment played about Cynthia's lips as she was bidden to work his quickest and his watched him. She felt constrained to acbest. The furnished house in Curzon cept his challenge. Street was still unlet. It was secured, and "I should have thought—" she said with by the beginning of June Cynthia had come a trifle of hesitation; "it's not my business, to town. There she was of course un- of course—you may think it an impertiknown. But she had made many friends nence-but since you challenge me, I in Warwickshire. Mr. Benoliel set his should have thought that you would have shoulder to the wheel: and she had a hand- done better to have gone back to the Antsome balance at the bank. Add to these arctic again.” advantages her looks, and it will be seen “That's just what Smale said,” rethat it was fairly smooth sailing for Cyn- marked Mr. Benoliel, and he moved away. thia during her first season. She danced, “That's just what Smale said, what she dined, she lunched at Hurlingham, she every one will say. But it's all wrong," went to plays and to the opera, she rode Rames exclaimed emphatically. I was very under the trees of the Row in the morning, glad to go South. I am very glad now that she went up in a balloon; she came with I went; but once is enough.'

A little wrinkle of disdain showed about to retain the look. Her appeal was a prayer Cynthia's mouth.

that he should stamp it upon his image for “No doubt there were many hardships.” good and all. Captain Rames was nettled.

“May I explain it all to you?” he asked. “Yes, there were, Miss Daventry, a great He sat down beside her, and in answer to many, and singularly unpleasant ones. I that gentle appeal of hers to make the best have been twenty-four hours in a sleeping- of himself, he drew for her clearly and sucbag with two other men. The sleeping- cinctly and proudly the picture of a man on bag was sewn up on the inside, it was with- the make. “I went South, first and last, in a tent, we were so close together that we to get on in the world,” he began. “As I could only turn round one at a time, and say, I was very glad to go. The journey we smoked in the bag, and still we were was a great experience. Yes, three years deadly cold. And I hate being cold. Yes of my life were very well spent upon it; but there were hardships, and though it's easy they were very well spent, not because the enough to remember them lightly here in journey was a great experience, but because the Admiralty, they were not delightful it is now the great help to me in getting on, when they happened. But I should face which I always thought it was going to be." them once more if I wanted to go back. He took no notice of the disappointment Only I don't. I never want to see an ice- gathering upon Cynthia's face. He was not pack again as long as I live.”

aware of it. Here was a girl of a remarkThe bluff confidence with which he able loveliness, wistfully appealing to him spoke convinced Cynthia that it was not to explain the inner workings of his mind, a fear of the hardships which had affected and he was delighted to gratify her wish. him. There she had been wrong, and she “I can hardly remember the time when made amends.

I was not diligently looking for my chances "I have no doubt the hardships wouldn't to get on. I was poor, you see. I am so deter you if you wanted to go," she ad- still, indeed. I had none of those oppormitted. “But what I don't understand is tunities which money commands. I had why you don't want to." And a greater em- somehow to create or find them. There's a phasis crept into her voice than she had motto in gold letters above the clock in the meant to use, and gave to her words the great hall at Osborne, the first of all motwistfulness of an appeal. “I should have toes in its súperb confidence: thought,” she cried, “that you could never have rested until you had finished what you “There is nothing the navy cannot do." had begun."

“That's true to the letter," he replied. Cynthia turned to him with eagerness. “That's why I am standing for Ludsey.” “Yes," she said with a smile. “For a

Cynthia looked up at him in surprise. boy to have that plain and simple state

“I don't think that I understand," she ment before his eyes each day, that's splensaid quietly, and she made room upon the did. I suppose a boy would never speak of couch at her side. Harry Rames took the it, but it would be to him a perpetual inplace. The appeal in her voice was a flat- spiration.” tery which he quite failed to understand. “Yes,” said Rames, "if all he thought of Though Cynthia was young, and though was the navy; if his ambitions were bound she walked no longer in her enchanted gar- up with the navy. But mine weren't, you den, something of that spirit of romance, see, and I used to worry over that sentence which had guided her there, had revived in even then. There is nothing the navy canher of late. Captain Rames was one of the not do.' Very well. But that didn't mean chosen men on whom the turnstile had re- that this little particular, insignificant cogvolved; now that she met him in the flesh she wheel in the navy machine was going to do could not forget it. He was of her dreams, anything special, or indeed anything at all. he had marched in the procession of heroes, And I wanted to do things—I myself, not and though disillusionment had come to the navy." her he still wore a look of the heroic in her “To do things?” Cynthia asked quietly, thoughts. All the more because disillu- and her lips drooped a little at the corners, sionment had come to her she wished him “Or to become a personage?'

« НазадПродовжити »