The Lion And The Unicorn
by Richard Harding Davis
Prentiss had a long lease on the house, and because it stood in Jermyn
Street the upper floors were, as a matter of course, turned into
lodgings for single gentlemen; and because Prentiss was a Florist to
the Queen, he placed a lion and unicorn over his flower-shop, just in
front of the middle window on the first floor. By stretching a little,
each of them could see into the window just beyond him, and could hear
all that was said inside; and such things as they saw and heard during
the reign of Captain Carrington, who moved in at the same time they
did! By day the table in the centre of the room was covered with maps,
and the Captain sat with a box of pins, with different-colored flags
wrapped around them, and amused himself by sticking them in the maps
and measuring the spaces in between, swearing meanwhile to himself. It
was a selfish amusement, but it appeared to be the Captain's only
intellectual pursuit, for at night the maps were rolled up, and a
green cloth was spread across the table, and there was much company
and popping of soda-bottles, and little heaps of gold and silver were
moved this way and that across the cloth. The smoke drifted out of the
open windows, and the laughter of the Captain's guests rang out loudly
in the empty street, so that the policeman halted and raised his eyes
reprovingly to the lighted windows, and cabmen drew up beneath them
and lay in wait, dozing on their folded arms, for the Captain's guests
to depart. The Lion and the Unicorn were rather ashamed of the scandal
of it, and they were glad when, one day, the Captain went away with
his tin boxes and gun-cases piled high on a four-wheeler.
Prentiss stood on the sidewalk and said, "I wish you good luck, sir."
And the Captain said, "I'm coming back a Major, Prentiss." But he
never came back. And one day—the Lion remembered the day very well,
for on that same day the newsboys ran up and down Jermyn Street
shouting out the news of "a 'orrible disaster" to the British arms. It
was then that a young lady came to the door in a hansom, and Prentiss
went out to meet her and led her up-stairs. They heard him unlock the
Captain's door and say, "This is his room, miss," and after he had
gone they watched her standing quite still by the centre-table. She
stood there a very long time looking slowly about her, and then she
took a photograph of the Captain from the frame on the mantel and
slipped it into her pocket, and when she went out again her veil was
down, and she was crying. She must have given Prentiss as much as a
sovereign, for he called her "Your ladyship," which he never did under
And she drove off, and they never saw her again either, nor could they
hear the address she gave the cabman. But it was somewhere up St.
John's Wood way.
After that the rooms were empty for some months, and the Lion and the
Unicorn were forced to amuse themselves with the beautiful ladies and
smart-looking men who came to Prentiss to buy flowers-and
"buttonholes," and the little round baskets of strawberries, and even
the peaches at three shillings each, which looked so tempting as they
lay in the window, wrapped up in cotton-wool, like jewels of great
Then Philip Carroll, the American gentleman, came, and they heard
Prentiss telling him that those rooms had always let for five guineas
a week, which they knew was not true; but they also knew that in the
economy of nations there must always be a higher price for the rich
American, or else why was he given that strange accent, except to
betray him into the hands of the London shopkeeper, and the London
The American walked to the window toward the west, which was the
window nearest the Lion, and looked out into the graveyard of St.
James's Church, that stretched between their street and Piccadilly.
"You're lucky in having a bit of green to look out on," he said to
Prentiss. "I'll take these rooms—at five guineas. That's more than
they're worth, you know, but as I know it, too, your conscience
needn't trouble you."
Then his eyes fell on the Lion, and he nodded to him gravely. "How do
you do?" he said. "I'm coming to live with you for a little time. I
have read about you and your friends over there. It is a hazard of new
fortunes with me, your Majesty, so be kind to me, and if I win, I will
put a new coat of paint on your shield and gild you all over again."
Prentiss smiled obsequiously at the American's pleasantry, but the new
lodger only stared at him.
"He seemed a social gentleman," said the Unicorn, that night, when the
Lion and he were talking it over. "Now the Captain, the whole time he
was here, never gave us so much as a look. This one says he has read
"And why not?" growled the Lion. "I hope Prentiss heard what he said
of our needing a new layer of gilt. It's disgraceful. You can see that
Lion over Scarlett's, the butcher, as far as Regent Street, and
Scarlett is only one of Salisbury's creations. He received his
Letters-Patent only two years back. We date from Palmerston."
The lodger came up the street just at that moment, and stopped and
looked up at the Lion and the Unicorn from the sidewalk, before he
opened the door with his night-key. They heard him enter the room and
feel on the mantel for his pipe, and a moment later he appeared at the
Lion's window and leaned on the sill, looking down into the street
below and blowing whiffs of smoke up into the warm night-air.
It was a night in June, and the pavements were dry under foot and the
streets were filled with well-dressed people, going home from the
play, and with groups of men in black and white, making their way to
supper at the clubs. Hansoms of inky-black, with shining lamps inside
and out, dashed noiselessly past on mysterious errands, chasing close
on each other's heels on a mad race, each to its separate goal. From
the cross streets rose the noises of early night, the rumble of the
'buses, the creaking of their brakes as they unlocked, the cries of
the "extras," and the merging of thousands of human voices in a dull
murmur. The great world of London was closing its shutters for the
night and putting out the lights; and the new lodger from across the
sea listened to it with his heart beating quickly, and laughed to
stifle the touch of fear and homesickness that rose in him.
"I have seen a great play to-night," he said to the Lion, "nobly
played by great players. What will they care for my poor wares? I see
that I have been over-bold. But we cannot go back now—not yet."
He knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and nodded "good-night" to the
great world beyond his window. "What fortunes lie with ye, ye lights
of London town?" he quoted, smiling. And they heard him close the door
of his bedroom, and lock it for the night.
The next morning he bought many geraniums from Prentiss and placed
them along the broad cornice that stretched across the front of the
house over the shop-window. The flowers made a band of scarlet on
either side of the Lion as brilliant as a Tommy's jacket.
"I am trying to propitiate the British Lion by placing flowers before
his altar," the American said that morning to a visitor.
"The British public, you mean," said the visitor; "they are each
likely to tear you to pieces."
"Yes, I have heard that the pit on the first night of a bad play is
something awful," hazarded the American.
"Wait and see," said the visitor.
"Thank you," said the American, meekly.
Every one who came to the first floor front talked about a play. It
seemed to be something of great moment to the American. It was only a
bundle of leaves printed in red and black inks and bound in brown
paper covers. There were two of them, and the American called them by
different names: one was his comedy and one was his tragedy.
"They are both likely to be tragedies," the Lion heard one of the
visitors say to another, as they drove away together. "Our young
friend takes it too seriously."
The American spent most of his time by his desk at the window writing
on little blue pads and tearing up what he wrote, or in reading over
one of the plays to himself in a loud voice. In time the number of his
visitors increased, and to some of these he would read his play; and
after they had left him he was either depressed and silent or excited
and jubilant. The Lion could always tell when he was happy because
then he would go to the side table and pour himself out a drink and
say, "Here's to me," but when he was depressed he would stand holding
the glass in his hand, and finally pour the liquor back into the
bottle again and say, "What's the use of that?"
After he had been in London a month he wrote less and was more
frequently abroad, sallying forth in beautiful raiment, and coming
home by daylight.
And he gave suppers, too, but they were less noisy than the Captain's
had been, and the women who came to them were much more beautiful, and
their voices when they spoke were sweet and low. Sometimes one of the
women sang, and the men sat in silence while the people in the street
below stopped to listen, and would say, "Why, that is So-and-So
singing," and the Lion and the Unicorn wondered how they could know
who it was when they could not see her.
The lodger's visitors came to see him at all hours. They seemed to
regard his rooms as a club, where they could always come for a bite to
eat or to write notes; and others treated it like a lawyer's office
and asked advice on all manner of strange subjects. Sometimes the
visitor wanted to know whether the American thought she ought to take
£10 a week and go on tour, or stay in town and try to live on £8; or
whether she should paint landscapes that would not sell, or
race-horses that would; or whether Reggie really loved her and whether
she really loved Reggie; or whether the new part in the piece at the
Court was better than the old part at Terry's, and wasn't she getting
too old to play "ingenues" anyway.
The lodger seemed to be a general adviser, and smoked and listened
with grave consideration, and the Unicorn thought his judgment was
most sympathetic and sensible.
Of all the beautiful ladies who came to call on the lodger the one the
Unicorn liked the best was the one who wanted to know whether she
loved Reggie and whether Reggie loved her. She discussed this so
interestingly while she consumed tea and thin slices of bread that the
Unicorn almost lost his balance in leaning forward to listen. Her name
was Marion Cavendish, and it was written over many photographs which
stood in silver frames in the lodger's rooms. She used to make the tea
herself, while the lodger sat and smoked; and she had a fascinating
way of doubling the thin slices of bread into long strips and nibbling
at them like a mouse at a piece of cheese. She had wonderful little
teeth and Cupid's-bow lips, and she had a fashion of lifting her veil
only high enough for one to see the two Cupid's-bow lips. When she did
that the American used to laugh, at nothing apparently, and say, "Oh,
I guess Reggie loves you well enough."
"But do I love Reggie?" she would ask, sadly, with her teacup held
poised in air.
Consumed tea and thin slices of bread.
"I am sure I hope not," the lodger would reply, and she would put down
the veil quickly, as one would drop a curtain over a beautiful
picture, and rise with great dignity and say, "If you talk like that I
shall not come again."
She was sure that if she could only get some work to do her head would
be filled with more important matters than whether Reggie loved her or
"But the managers seem inclined to cut their cavendish very fine just
at present," she said. "If I don't get a part soon," she announced, "I
shall ask Mitchell to put me down on the list for recitations at
"That seems a desperate revenge," said the American; "and besides, I
don't want you to get a part, because some one might be idiotic enough
to take my comedy, and if he should, you must play Nancy."
"I would not ask for any salary if I could play Nancy," Miss
They spoke of a great many things, but their talk always ended by her
saying that there must be some one with sufficient sense to see that
his play was a great play, and by his saying that none but she must
The Lion preferred the tall girl with masses and folds of brown hair,
who came from America to paint miniatures of the British aristocracy.
Her name was Helen Cabot, and he liked her because she was so brave
and fearless, and so determined to be independent of every one, even
of the lodger—especially of the lodger, who, it appeared, had known
her very well at home. The lodger, they gathered, did not wish her to
be independent of him, and the two Americans had many arguments and
disputes about it, but she always said, "It does no good, Philip; it
only hurts us both when you talk so. I care for nothing, and for no
one but my art, and, poor as it is, it means everything to me, and you
do not, and, of course, the man I am to marry must." Then Carroll
would talk, walking up and down, and looking very fierce and
determined, and telling her how he loved her in such a way that it
made her look even more proud and beautiful. And she would say more
gently, "It is very fine to think that any one can care for me like
that, and very helpful. But unless I cared in the same way it would be
wicked of me to marry you, and besides—" She would add very quickly
to prevent his speaking again—"I don't want to marry you or anybody,
and I never shall. I want to be free and to succeed in my work, just
as you want to succeed in your work. So please never speak of this
again." When she went away the lodger used to sit smoking in the big
arm-chair and beat the arms with his hands, and he would pace up and
down the room, while his work would lie untouched and his engagements
Summer came and London was deserted, dull, and dusty, but the lodger
stayed on in Jermyn Street. Helen Cabot had departed on a round of
visits to country-houses in Scotland, where, as she wrote him, she was
painting miniatures of her hosts and studying the game of golf. Miss
Cavendish divided her days between the river and one of the West End
theatres. She was playing a small part in a farce-comedy.
One day she came up from Cookham earlier than usual, looking very
beautiful in a white boating-frock and a straw hat with a Leander
ribbon. Her hands and arms were hard with dragging a punting-hole, and
she was sunburnt and happy, and hungry for tea.
"Why don't you come down to Cookham and get out of this heat?" Miss
Cavendish asked. "You need it; you look ill."
"I'd like to, but I can't," said Carroll. "The fact is, I paid in
advance for these rooms, and if I lived anywhere else I'd be losing
five guineas a week on them."
Miss Cavendish regarded him severely. She had never quite mastered his
"But—five guineas—why, that's nothing to you," she said. Something
in the lodger's face made her pause. "You don't mean—"
"Yes, I do," said the lodger, smiling. "You see, I started in to lay
siege to London without sufficient ammunition. London is a large town,
and it didn't fall as quickly as I thought it would. So I am
economizing. Mr. Lockhart's Coffee Rooms and I are no longer
Miss Cavendish put down her cup of tea untasted and leaned toward him.
"Are you in earnest?" she asked. "For how long?"
"Oh, for the last month," replied the lodger; "they are not at all
bad—clean and wholesome and all that."
"But the suppers you gave us, and this," she cried, suddenly, waving
her hands over the pretty tea-things, "and the cake and muffins?"
"My friends, at least," said Carroll, "need not go to Lockhart's."
"And the Savoy?" asked Miss Cavendish, mournfully shaking her head. "A
dream of the past," said Carroll, waving his pipe through the smoke.
"Gatti's? Yes, on special occasions; but for necessity the
Chancellor's, where one gets a piece of the prime roast beef of Old
England, from Chicago, and potatoes for ninepence—a pot of bitter
twopence-halfpenny, and a penny for the waiter. It's most amusing on
the whole. I am learning a little about London, and some things about
myself. They are both most interesting subjects."
"Well, I don't like it," Miss Cavendish declared, helplessly. "When I
think of those suppers and the flowers, I feel—I feel like a robber."
"Don't," begged Carroll. "I am really the most happy of men—that is,
as the chap says in the play, I would be if I wasn't so damned
miserable. But I owe no man a penny and I have assets—I have £80 to
last me through the winter and two marvellous plays; and I love, next
to yourself, the most wonderful woman God ever made. That's enough."
"But I thought you made such a lot of money by writing?" asked Miss
"I do—that is, I could," answered Carroll, "if I wrote the things
that sell; but I keep on writing plays that won't."
"And such plays!" exclaimed Marion, warmly; "and to think that they
are going begging!" She continued, indignantly, "I can't imagine what
the managers do want."
"I know what they don't want," said the American. Miss Cavendish
drummed impatiently on the tea-tray.
"I wish you wouldn't be so abject about it," she said. "If I were a
man I'd make them take those plays."
"How?" asked the American; "with a gun?"
"Well, I'd keep at it until they read them," declared Marion. "I'd sit
on their front steps all night and I'd follow them in cabs, and I'd
lie in wait for them at the stage-door. I'd just make them take them."
Carroll sighed and stared at the ceiling. "I guess I'll give up and go
home," he said.
"Oh, yes, do, run away before you are beaten," said Miss Cavendish,
scornfully. "Why, you can't go now. Everybody will be back in town
soon, and there are a lot of new plays coming on, and some of them are
sure to be failures, and that's our chance. You rush in with your
piece, and somebody may take it sooner than close the theatre."
"I'm thinking of closing the theatre myself," said Carroll. "What's
the use of my hanging on here?" he exclaimed. "It distresses Helen to
know I am in London, feeling about her as I do—and the Lord only
knows how it distresses me. And, maybe, if I went away," he said,
consciously, "she might miss me. She might see the difference."
Miss Cavendish held herself erect and pressed her lips together with a
severe smile. "If Helen Cabot doesn't see the difference between you
and the other men she knows now," she said, "I doubt if she ever will.
Besides—" she continued, and then hesitated.
"Well, go on," urged Carroll.
"Well, I was only going to say," she explained, "that leaving the girl
alone never did the man any good unless he left her alone willingly.
If she's sure he still cares, it's just the same to her where he is.
He might as well stay on in London as go to South Africa. It won't
help him any. The difference comes when she finds he has stopped
caring. Why, look at Reggie. He tried that. He went away for ever so
long, but he kept writing me from wherever he went, so that he was
perfectly miserable—and I went on enjoying myself. Then when he came
back, he tried going about with his old friends again. He used to come
to the theatre with them—oh, with such nice girls!—but he always
stood in the back of the box and yawned and scowled—so I knew. And,
anyway, he'd always spoil it all by leaving them and waiting at the
stage entrance for me. But one day he got tired of the way I treated
him and went off on a bicycle-tour with Lady Hacksher's girls and some
men from his regiment, and he was gone three weeks, and never sent me
even a line; and I got so scared; I couldn't sleep, and I stood it for
three days more, and then I wired him to come back or I'd jump off
London Bridge; and he came back that very night from Edinburgh on the
express, and I was so glad to see him that I got confused, and in the
general excitement I promised to marry him, so that's how it was with
"Yes," said the American, without enthusiasm; "but then I still care,
and Helen knows I care."
"Doesn't she ever fancy that you might care for some one else? You
have a lot of friends, you know."
"Yes, but she knows they are just that—friends," said the American.
Miss Cavendish stood up to go, and arranged her veil before the mirror
above the fireplace.
"I come here very often to tea," she said.
"It's very kind of you," said Carroll. He was at the open window,
looking down into the street for a cab.
"Well, no one knows I am engaged to Reggie," continued Miss Cavendish,
"except you and Reggie, and he isn't so sure. She doesn't know
"Well?" said Carroll.
Miss Cavendish smiled a mischievous, kindly smile at him from the
"Well?" she repeated, mockingly. Carroll stared at her and laughed.
After a pause he said: "It's like a plot in a comedy. But I'm afraid
I'm too serious for play-acting."
"Yes, it is serious," said Miss Cavendish. She seated herself again
and regarded the American thoughtfully. "You are too good a man to be
treated the way that girl is treating you, and no one knows it better
than she does. She'll change in time, but just now she thinks she
wants to be independent. She's in love with this picture-painting
idea, and with the people she meets. It's all new to her—the fuss
they make over her and the titles, and the way she is asked about. We
know she can't paint. We know they only give her commissions because
she's so young and pretty, and American. She amuses them, that's all.
Well, that cannot last; she'll find it out. She's too clever a girl,
and she is too fine a girl to be content with that long. Then—then
she'll come back to you. She feels now that she has both you and the
others, and she's making you wait; so wait and be cheerful. She's
worth waiting for; she's young, that's all. She'll see the difference
in time. But, in the meanwhile, it would hurry matters a bit if she
thought she had to choose between the new friends and you."
"She could still keep her friends and marry me," said Carroll; "I have
told her that a hundred times. She could still paint miniatures and
marry me. But she won't marry me."
"She won't marry you because she knows she can whenever she wants to,"
cried Marion. "Can't you see that? But if she thought you were going
to marry some one else now?"
"She would be the first to congratulate me," said Carroll. He rose and
walked to the fireplace, where he leaned with his arm on the mantel.
There was a photograph of Helen Cabot near his hand, and he turned
this toward him and stood for some time staring at it. "My dear
Marion," he said at last, "I've known Helen ever since she was as
young as that. Every year I've loved her more, and found new things in
her to care for; now I love her more than any other man ever loved any
Miss Cavendish shook her head sympathetically.
"Yes, I know," she said; "that's the way Reggie loves me, too."
Carroll went on as though he had not heard her.
"There's a bench in St. James's Park," he said, "where we used to sit
when she first came here, when she didn't know so many people. We used
to go there in the morning and throw penny buns to the ducks. That's
been my amusement this summer since you've all been away—sitting on
that bench, feeding penny buns to the silly ducks—especially the
black one, the one she used to like best. And I make pilgrimages to
all the other places we ever visited together, and try to pretend she
is with me. And I support the crossing sweeper at Lansdowne Passage
because she once said she felt sorry for him. I do all the other
absurd things that a man in love tortures himself by doing. But to
what end? She knows how I care, and yet she won't see why we can't go
on being friends as we once were. What's the use of it all?"
"She is young, I tell you," repeated Miss Cavendish, "and she's too
sure of you. You've told her you care; now try making her think you
Carroll shook his head impatiently.
"I will not stoop to such tricks and pretense, Marion," he cried,
impatiently. "All I have is my love for her; if I have to cheat and to
trap her into caring, the whole thing would be degraded."
Miss Cavendish shrugged her shoulders and walked to the door. "Such
amateurs!" she exclaimed, and banged the door after her.
Carroll never quite knew how he had come to make a confidante of Miss
Cavendish. Helen and he had met her when they first arrived in London,
and as she had acted for a season in the United States, she adopted
the two Americans—and told Helen where to go for boots and hats, and
advised Carroll about placing his plays. Helen soon made other
friends, and deserted the artists with whom her work had first thrown
her. She seemed to prefer the society of the people who bought her
paintings, and who admired and made much of the painter. As she was
very beautiful and at an age when she enjoyed everything in life
keenly and eagerly, to give her pleasure was in itself a distinct
pleasure; and the worldly tired people she met were considering their
own entertainment quite as much as hers when they asked her to their
dinners and dances, or to spend a week with them in the country. In
her way, she was as independent as was Carroll in his, and as she was
not in love, as he was, her life was not narrowed down to but one
ideal. But she was not so young as to consider herself infallible, and
she had one excellent friend on whom she was dependent for advice and
to whose directions she submitted implicitly. This was Lady Gower, the
only person to whom Helen had spoken of Carroll and of his great
feeling for her. Lady Gower, immediately after her marriage, had been
a conspicuous and brilliant figure in that set in London which works
eighteen hours a day to keep itself amused, but after the death of her
husband she had disappeared into the country as completely as though
she had entered a convent, and after several years had then re-entered
the world as a professional philanthropist. Her name was now
associated entirely with Women's Leagues, with committees that
presented petitions to Parliament, and with public meetings, at which
she spoke with marvellous ease and effect. Her old friends said she
had taken up this new pose as an outlet for her nervous energies, and
as an effort to forget the man who alone had made life serious to her.
Others knew her as an earnest woman, acting honestly for what she
thought was right. Her success, all admitted, was due to her knowledge
of the world and to her sense of humor, which taught her with whom to
use her wealth and position, and when to demand what she wanted solely
on the ground that the cause was just.
She had taken more than a fancy for Helen, and the position of the
beautiful, motherless girl had appealed to her as one filled with
dangers. When she grew to know Helen better, she recognized that these
fears were quite unnecessary, and as she saw more of her she learned
to care for her deeply. Helen had told her much of Carroll and of his
double purpose in coming to London; of his brilliant work and his lack
of success in having it recognized; and of his great and loyal
devotion to her, and of his lack of success, not in having that
recognized, but in her own inability to return it. Helen was proud
that she had been able to make Carroll care for her as he did, and
that there was anything about her which could inspire a man whom she
admired so much to believe in her so absolutely and for so long a
time. But what convinced her that the outcome for which he hoped was
impossible, was the very fact that she could admire him, and see how
fine and unselfish his love for her was, and yet remain untouched by
She had been telling Lady Gower one day of the care he had taken of
her ever since she was fourteen years of age, and had quoted some of
the friendly and loverlike acts he had performed in her service, until
one day they had both found out that his attitude of the elder brother
was no longer possible, and that he loved her in the old and only way.
Lady Gower looked at her rather doubtfully and smiled.
"I wish you would bring him to see me, Helen," she said; "I think I
should like your friend very much. From what you tell me of him I
doubt if you will find many such men waiting for you in this country.
Our men marry for reasons of property, or they love blindly, and are
exacting and selfish before and after they are married. I know,
because so many women came to me when my husband was alive to ask how
it was that I continued so happy in my married life."
"But I don't want to marry any one," Helen remonstrated, gently.
"American girls are not always thinking only of getting married."
"What I meant was this," said Lady Gower: "that, in my experience, I
have heard of but few men who care in the way this young man seems to
care for you. You say you do not love him; but if he had wanted to
gain my interest, he could not have pleaded his cause better than you
have done. He seems to see your faults and yet love you still, in
spite of them—or on account of them. And I like the things he does
for you. I like, for instance, his sending you the book of the moment
every week for two years. That shows a most unswerving spirit of
devotion. And the story of the broken bridge in the woods is a
wonderful story. If I were a young girl, I could love a man for that
alone. It was a beautiful thing to do."
Helen sat with her chin on her hands, deeply considering this new
point of view.
"I thought it very foolish of him," she confessed, questioningly, "to
take such a risk for such a little thing."
Lady Gower smiled down at her from the height of her many years.
"Wait," she said, dryly, "you are very young now—and very rich; every
one is crowding to give you pleasure, to show his admiration. You are
a very fortunate girl. But later, these things which some man has done
because he loved you, and which you call foolish, will grow large in
your life, and shine out strongly, and when you are discouraged and
alone, you will take them out, and the memory of them will make you
proud and happy. They are the honors which women wear in secret."
Helen came back to town in September, and for the first few days was
so occupied in refurnishing her studio and in visiting the shops that
she neglected to send Carroll word of her return. When she found that
a whole week had passed without her having made any effort to see him,
and appreciated how the fact would hurt her friend, she was filled
with remorse, and drove at once in great haste to Jermyn Street, to
announce her return in person. On the way she decided that she would
soften the blow of her week of neglect by asking him to take her out
to luncheon. This privilege she had once or twice accorded him, and
she felt that the pleasure these excursions gave Carroll were worth
the consternation they caused to Lady Gower.
The servant was uncertain whether Mr. Carroll was at home or not, but
Helen was too intent upon making restitution to wait for the fact to
be determined, and, running up the stairs, knocked sharply at the door
of his study.
A voice bade her come in, and she entered, radiant and smiling her
welcome. But Carroll was not there to receive it, and, instead, Marion
Cavendish looked up at her from his desk, where she was busily
writing. Helen paused with a surprised laugh, but Marion sprang up and
hailed her gladly. They met half-way across the room and kissed each
other with the most friendly feeling.
Philip was out, Marion said, and she had just stepped in for a moment
to write him a note. If Helen would excuse her, she would finish it,
as she was late for rehearsal.
But she asked over her shoulder, with great interest, if Helen had
passed a pleasant summer. She thought she had never seen her looking
so well. Helen thought Miss Cavendish herself was looking very well
also, but Marion said no; that she was too sunburnt, she would not be
able to wear a dinner-dress for a month. There was a pause while
Marion's quill scratched violently across Carroll's note-paper. Helen
felt that in some way she was being treated as an intruder; or worse,
as a guest. She did not sit down, it seemed impossible to do so, but
she moved uncertainly about the room. She noted that there were many
changes, it seemed more bare and empty; her picture was still on the
writing-desk, but there were at least six new photographs of Marion.
Marion herself had brought them to the room that morning, and had
carefully arranged them in conspicuous places. But Helen could not
know that. She thought there was an unnecessary amount of writing
scribbled over the face of each.
Marion addressed her letter and wrote "Immediate" across the envelope,
and placed it before the clock on the mantel-shelf. "You will find
Philip looking very badly," she said, as she pulled on her gloves. "He
has been in town all summer, working very hard—he has had no holiday
at all. I don't think he's well. I have been a great deal worried
about him," she added. Her face was bent over the buttons of her
glove, and when she raised her blue eyes to Helen they were filled
with serious concern.
"Really," Helen stammered, "I—I didn't know—in his letters he seemed
Marion shook her head and turned and stood looking thoughtfully out of
the window. "He's in a very hard place," she began, abruptly, and then
stopped as though she had thought better of what she intended to say.
Helen tried to ask her to go on, but could not bring herself to do so.
She wanted to get away.
"I tell him he ought to leave London," Marion began again; "he needs a
change and a rest."
"I should think he might," Helen agreed, "after three months of this
heat. He wrote me he intended going to Herne Bay or over to Ostend."
"Yes, he had meant to go," Marion answered. She spoke with the air of
one who possessed the most intimate knowledge of Carroll's movements
and plans, and change of plans. "But he couldn't," she added. "He
couldn't afford it. Helen," she said, turning to the other girl,
dramatically, "do you know—I believe that Philip is very poor."
Miss Cabot exclaimed, incredulously, "Poor!" She laughed. "Why, what
do you mean?"
"I mean that he has no money," Marion answered, sharply. "These rooms
represent nothing. He only keeps them on because he paid for them in
advance. He's been living on three shillings a day. That's poor for
him. He takes his meals at cabmen's shelters and at Lockhart's, and
he's been doing so for a month."
Helen recalled with a guilty thrill the receipt of certain boxes of La
France roses—cut long, in the American fashion—which had arrived
within the last month at various country-houses. She felt indignant at
herself, and miserable. Her indignation was largely due to the
recollection that she had given these flowers to her hostess to
decorate the dinner-table.
She hated to ask this girl of things which she should have known
better than any one else. But she forced herself to do it. She felt
she must know certainly and at once.
"How do you know this?" she asked. "Are you sure there is no mistake?"
"He told me himself," said Marion, "when he talked of letting the
plays go and returning to America. He said he must go back; that his
money was gone."
"He is gone to America!" Helen said, blankly.
"No, he wanted to go, but I wouldn't let him," Marion went on. "I told
him that some one might take his play any day. And this third one he
has written, the one he finished this summer in town, is the best of
all, I think. It's a love-story. It's quite beautiful." She turned and
arranged her veil at the glass, and as she did so, her eyes fell on
the photographs of herself scattered over the mantel-piece, and she
smiled slightly. But Helen did not see her—she was sitting down now,
pulling at the books on the table. She was confused and disturbed by
emotions which were quite strange to her, and when Marion bade her
good-by she hardly noticed her departure. What impressed her most of
all in what Marion had told her was, she was surprised to find, that
Philip was going away. That she herself had frequently urged him to do
so, for his own peace of mind, seemed now of no consequence. Now that
he seriously contemplated it, she recognized that his absence meant to
her a change in everything. She felt for the first time the peculiar
place he held in her life. Even if she had seen him but seldom, the
fact that he was within call had been more of a comfort and a
necessity to her than she understood.
That he was poor, concerned her chiefly because she knew that,
although this condition could only be but temporary, it would distress
him not to have his friends around him, and to entertain them as he
had been used to do. She wondered eagerly if she might offer to help
him, but a second thought assured her that, for a man, that sort of
help from a woman was impossible.
She resented the fact that Marion was deep in his confidence; that it
was Marion who had told her of his changed condition and of his plans.
It annoyed her so acutely that she could not remain in the room where
she had seen her so complacently in possession. And after leaving a
brief note for Philip, she went away. She stopped a hansom at the
door, and told the man to drive along the Embankment—she wanted to be
quite alone, and she felt she could see no one until she had thought
it all out, and had analyzed the new feelings.
So for several hours she drove slowly up and down, sunk far back in
the cushions of the cab, and staring with unseeing eyes at the white,
enamelled tariff and the black dash-board.
She assured herself that she was not jealous of Marion, because, in
order to be jealous, she first would have to care for Philip in the
very way she could not bring herself to do.
She decided that his interest in Marion hurt her, because it showed
that Philip was not capable of remaining true to the one ideal of his
life. She was sure that this explained her feelings—she was
disappointed that he had not kept up to his own standard; that he was
weak enough to turn aside from it for the first pretty pair of eyes.
But she was too honest and too just to accept that diagnosis of her
feelings as final—she knew there had been many pairs of eyes in
America and in London, and that though Philip had seen them, he had
not answered them when they spoke. No, she confessed frankly, she was
hurt with herself for neglecting her old friend so selfishly and for
so long a time; his love gave him claims on her consideration, at
least, and she had forgotten that and him, and had run after strange
gods and allowed others to come in and take her place, and to give him
the sympathy and help which she should have been the first to offer,
and which would have counted more when coming from her than from any
one else. She determined to make amends at once for her
thoughtlessness and selfishness, and her brain was pleasantly occupied
with plans and acts of kindness. It was a new entertainment, and she
found she delighted in it. She directed the cabman to go to
Solomons's, and from there sent Philip a bunch of flowers and a line
saying that on the following day she was coming to take tea with him.
She had a guilty feeling that he might consider her friendly advances
more seriously than she meant them, but it was her pleasure to be
reckless: her feelings were running riotously, and the sensation was
so new that she refused to be circumspect or to consider consequences.
Who could tell, she asked herself with a quick, frightened gasp, but
that, after all, it might be that she was learning to care? From
Solomons's she bade the man drive to the shop in Cranbourne Street
where she was accustomed to purchase the materials she used in
painting, and Fate, which uses strange agents to work out its ends, so
directed it that the cabman stopped a few doors below this shop, and
opposite one where jewelry and other personal effects were bought and
sold. At any other time, or had she been in any other mood, what
followed might not have occurred, but Fate, in the person of the
cabman, arranged it so that the hour and the opportunity came
There were some old mezzotints in the window of the loan-shop, a
string of coins and medals, a row of new French posters; and far down
to the front a tray filled with gold and silver cigarette-cases and
watches and rings. It occurred to Helen, who was still bent on making
restitution for her neglect, that a cigarette-case would be more
appropriate for a man than flowers, and more lasting. And she scanned
the contents of the window with the eye of one who now saw in
everything only something which might give Philip pleasure. The two
objects of value in the tray upon which her eyes first fell were the
gold seal-ring with which Philip had sealed his letters to her, and,
lying next to it, his gold watch! There was something almost human in
the way the ring and watch spoke to her from the past—in the way they
appealed to her to rescue them from the surroundings to which they had
been abandoned. She did not know what she meant to do with them nor
how she could return them to Philip; but there was no question of
doubt in her manner as she swept with a rush into the shop. There was
no attempt, either, at bargaining in the way in which she pointed out
to the young woman behind the counter the particular ring and watch
she wanted. They had not been left as collateral, the young woman
said; they had been sold outright.
"Then any one can buy them?" Helen asked, eagerly. "They are for sale
to the public—to any one?"
The young woman made note of the customer's eagerness, but with an
"Yes, miss, they are for sale. The ring is four pounds and the watch
"Twenty-nine pounds!" Helen gasped.
That was more money than she had in the world, but the fact did not
distress her, for she had a true artistic disregard for ready money,
and the absence of it had never disturbed her. But now it assumed a
sudden and alarming value. She had ten pounds in her purse and ten
pounds at her studio—these were just enough to pay for a quarter's
rent and the rates, and there was a hat and cloak in Bond Street which
she certainly must have. Her only assets consisted of the possibility
that some one might soon order a miniature, and to her mind that was
sufficient. Some one always had ordered a miniature, and there was no
reasonable doubt but that some one would do it again. For a moment she
questioned if it would not be sufficient if she bought the ring and
allowed the watch to remain. But she recognized that the ring meant
more to her than the watch, while the latter, as an old heirloom which
had been passed down to him from a great-grandfather, meant more to
Philip. It was for Philip she was doing this, she reminded herself.
She stood holding his possessions, one in each hand, and looking at
the young woman blankly. She had no doubt in her mind that at least
part of the money he had received for them had paid for the flowers he
had sent to her in Scotland. The certainty of this left her no choice.
She laid the ring and watch down and pulled the only ring she
possessed from her own finger. It was a gift from Lady Gower. She had
no doubt that it was of great value.
"Can you lend me some money on that?" she asked. It was the first time
she had conducted a business transaction of this nature, and she felt
as though she were engaging in a burglary.
"We don't lend money, miss," the girl said, "we buy outright. I can
give you twenty-eight shillings for this," she added.
"Twenty-eight shillings!" Helen gasped. "Why, it is worth—oh, ever so
much more than that!"
"That is all it is worth to us," the girl answered. She regarded the
ring indifferently and laid it away from her on the counter. The
action was final.
Helen's hands rose slowly to her breast, where a pretty watch dangled
from a bow-knot of crushed diamonds. It was her only possession, and
she was very fond of it. It also was the gift of one of the several
great ladies who had adopted her since her residence in London. Helen
had painted a miniature of this particular great lady which had looked
so beautiful that the pleasure which the original of the portrait
derived from the thought that she still really looked as she did in
the miniature was worth more to her than many diamonds.
But it was different with Helen, and no one could count what it cost
her to tear away her one proud possession.
"What will you give me for this?" she asked, defiantly.
The girl's eyes showed greater interest. "I can give you twenty pounds
for that," she said.
"Take it, please," Helen begged, as though she feared if she kept it a
moment longer she might not be able to make the sacrifice.
"That will be enough now," she went on, taking out her ten-pound note.
She put Lady Gower's ring back upon her finger and picked up Philip's
ring and watch with the pleasure of one who has come into a great
fortune. She turned back at the door.
"Oh," she stammered, "in case any one should inquire, you are not to
say who bought these."
"No, miss, certainly not," said the woman. Helen gave the direction to
the cabman and, closing the doors of the hansom, sat looking down at
the watch and the ring, as they lay in her lap. The thought that they
had been his most valued possessions, which he had abandoned forever,
and that they were now entirely hers, to do with as she liked, filled
her with most intense delight and pleasure. She took up the heavy gold
ring and placed it on the little finger of her left hand; it was much
too large, and she removed it and balanced it for a moment doubtfully
in the palm of her right hand. She was smiling, and her face was lit
with shy and tender thoughts. She cast a quick glance to the left and
right as though fearful that people passing in the street would
observe her, and then slipped the ring over the fourth finger of her
left hand. She gazed at it with a guilty smile, and then, covering it
hastily with her other hand, leaned back, clasping it closely, and sat
frowning far out before her with puzzled eyes.
To Carroll all roads led past Helen's studio, and during the summer,
while she had been absent in Scotland, it was one of his sad pleasures
to make a pilgrimage to her street and to pause opposite the house and
look up at the empty windows of her rooms. It was during this daily
exercise that he learned, through the arrival of her luggage, of her
return to London, and when day followed day without her having shown
any desire to see him or to tell him of her return, he denounced
himself most bitterly as a fatuous fool.
At the end of the week he sat down and considered his case quite
calmly. For three years he had loved this girl, deeply and tenderly.
He had been lover, brother, friend, and guardian. During that time,
even though she had accepted him in every capacity except as that of
the prospective husband, she had never given him any real affection,
nor sympathy, nor help; all she had done for him had been done without
her knowledge or intent. To know her, to love her, and to scheme to
give her pleasure had been its own reward, and the only one. For the
last few months he had been living like a crossing sweeper in order to
be able to stay in London until she came back to it, and that he might
still send her the gifts he had always laid on her altar. He had not
seen her in three months. Three months that had been to him a blank,
except for his work—which, like all else that he did, was inspired
and carried on for her. Now at last she had returned and had shown
that, even as a friend, he was of so little account in her thoughts,
of so little consequence in her life, that after this long absence she
had no desire to learn of his welfare or to see him—she did not even
give him the chance to see her. And so, placing these facts before him
for the first time since he had loved her, he considered what was due
to himself. "Was it good enough?" he asked. "Was it just that he
should continue to wear out his soul and body for this girl who did
not want what he had to give, who treated him less considerately than
a man whom she met for the first time at dinner?" He felt he had
reached the breaking-point; that the time had come when he must
consider what he owed to himself. There could never be any other woman
save Helen; but as it was not to be Helen, he could no longer, with
self-respect, continue to proffer his love only to see it slighted and
neglected. He was humble enough concerning himself, but of his love he
was very proud. Other men could give her more in wealth or position,
but no one could ever love her as he did. "He that hath more let him
give," he had often quoted to her defiantly, as though he were
challenging the world, and now he felt he must evolve a makeshift
world of his own—a world in which she was not his only spring of
acts; he must begin all over again and keep his love secret and sacred
until she understood it and wanted it. And if she should never want it
he would at least have saved it from many rebuffs and insults.
With this determination strong in him, the note Helen had left for him
after her talk with Marion, and the flowers, and the note with them,
saying she was coming to take tea on the morrow, failed to move him
except to make him more bitter. He saw in them only a tardy
recognition of her neglect—an effort to make up to him for
thoughtlessness which, from her, hurt him worse than studied slight.
A new régime had begun, and he was determined to establish it
firmly and to make it impossible for himself to retreat from it; and
in the note in which he thanked Helen for the flowers and welcomed her
to tea, he declared his ultimatum.
"You know how terribly I feel," he wrote; "I don't have to tell you
that, but I cannot always go on dragging out my love and holding it up
to excite your pity as beggars show their sores. I cannot always go on
praying before your altar, cutting myself with knives and calling upon
you to listen to me. You know that there is no one else but you, and
that there never can be any one but you, and that nothing is changed
except that after this I am not going to urge and torment you. I shall
wait as I have always waited—only now I shall wait in silence. You
know just how little, in one way, I have to offer you, and you know
just how much I have in love to offer you. It is now for you to
speak—some day, or never. But you will have to speak first. You will
never hear a word of love from me again. Why should you? You know it
is always waiting for you. But if you should ever want it, you must
come to me, and take off your hat and put it on my table and say,
'Philip, I have come to stay.' Whether you can ever do that or not can
make no difference in my love for you. I shall love you always, as no
man has ever loved a woman in this world, but it is you who must speak
first; for me, the rest is silence."
The following morning as Helen was leaving the house she found this
letter lying on the hall-table, and ran back with it to her rooms. A
week before she would have let it lie on the table and read it on her
return. She was conscious that this was what she would have done, and
it pleased her to find that what concerned Philip was now to her the
thing of greatest interest. She was pleased with her own
eagerness—her own happiness was a welcome sign, and she was proud and
glad that she was learning to care.
She read the letter with an anxious pride and pleasure in each word
that was entirely new. Philip's recriminations did not hurt her, they
were the sign that he cared; nor did his determination not to speak of
his love to her hurt her, for she believed him when he said that he
would always care. She read the letter twice, and then sat for some
time considering the kind of letter Philip would have written had he
known her secret—had he known that the ring he had abandoned was now
upon her finger.
She rose and, crossing to a desk, placed the letter in a drawer, and
then took it out again and reread the last page. When she had finished
it she was smiling. For a moment she stood irresolute, and then,
moving slowly toward the centre-table, cast a guilty look about her
and, raising her hands, lifted her veil and half withdrew the pins
that fastened her hat.
"Philip," she began, in a frightened whisper, "I have—I have come
The sentence ended in a cry of protest, and she rushed across the room
as though she were running from herself. She was blushing violently.
"Never!" she cried, as she pulled open the door; "I could never do
The following afternoon, when Helen was to come to tea, Carroll
decided that he would receive her with all the old friendliness, but
that he must be careful to subdue all emotion.
He was really deeply hurt at her treatment, and had it not been that
she came on her own invitation he would not of his own accord have
sought to see her. In consequence, he rather welcomed than otherwise
the arrival of Marion Cavendish, who came a half-hour before Helen was
expected, and who followed a hasty knock with a precipitate entrance.
"Sit down," she commanded, breathlessly, "and listen. I've been at
rehearsal all day, or I'd have been here before you were awake." She
seated herself nervously and nodded her head at Carroll in an excited
and mysterious manner.
"What is it?" he asked. "Have you and Reggie—"
"Listen," Marion repeated. "Our fortunes are made; that is what's the
matter—and I've made them. If you took half the interest in your work
I do, you'd have made yours long ago. Last night," she began,
impressively, "I went to a large supper at the Savoy, and I sat next
to Charley Wimpole. He came in late, after everybody had finished, and
I attacked him while he was eating his supper. He said he had been
rehearsing 'Caste' after the performance; that they've put it on as a
stop-gap on account of the failure of 'The Triflers,' and that he knew
revivals were of no use; that he would give any sum for a good modern
comedy. That was my cue, and I told him I knew of a better comedy than
any he had produced at his theatre in five years, and that it was
going begging. He laughed, and asked where was he to find this
wonderful comedy, and I said, 'It's been in your safe for the last two
months and you haven't read it.' He said, 'Indeed, how do you know
that?' and I said, 'Because if you'd read it, it wouldn't be in your
safe, but on your stage.' So he asked me what the play was about, and
I told him the plot and what sort of a part his was, and some of his
scenes, and he began to take notice. He forgot his supper, and very
soon he grew so interested that he turned his chair round and kept
eying my supper-card to find out who I was, and at last remembered
seeing me in 'The New Boy'—and a rotten part it was, too—but he
remembered it, and he told me to go on and tell him more about your
play. So I recited it, bit by bit, and he laughed in all the right
places and got very much excited, and said finally that he would read
it the first thing this morning." Marion paused, breathlessly. "Oh,
yes, and he wrote your address on his cuff," she added, with the air
of delivering a complete and convincing climax.
Carroll stared at her and pulled excitedly on his pipe.
"Oh, Marion!" he gasped, "suppose he should? He won't, though," he
added, but eying her eagerly and inviting contradiction.
"He will," she answered, stoutly, "if he reads it."
"The other managers read it," Carroll suggested, doubtfully.
"Yes, but what do they know?" Marion returned, loftily. "He knows.
Charles Wimpole is the only intelligent actor-manager in London."
There was a sharp knock at the door, which Marion in her excitement
had left ajar, and Prentiss threw it wide open with an impressive
sweep, as though he were announcing royalty. "Mr. Charles Wimpole," he
The actor-manager stopped in the doorway bowing gracefully, his hat
held before him and his hand on his stick as though it were resting on
a foil. He had the face and carriage of a gallant of the days of
Congreve, and he wore his modern frock-coat with as much distinction
as if it were of silk and lace. He was evidently amused. "I couldn't
help overhearing the last line," he said, smiling. "It gives me a good
Marion gazed at him blankly. "Oh," she gasped, "we—we—were just
talking about you."
"If you hadn't mentioned my name," the actor said, "I should never
have guessed it. And this is Mr. Carroll, I hope."
The great man was rather pleased with the situation. As he read it, it
struck him as possessing strong dramatic possibilities: Carroll was
the struggling author on the verge of starvation; Marion, his
sweetheart, flying to him gave him hope; and he was the good fairy
arriving in the nick of time to set everything right and to make the
young people happy and prosperous. He rather fancied himself in the
part of the good fairy, and as he seated himself he bowed to them both
in a manner which was charmingly inclusive and confidential.
"Miss Cavendish, I imagine, has already warned you that you might
expect a visit from me," he said, tentatively. Carroll nodded. He was
too much concerned to interrupt.
"Then I need only tell you," Wimpole continued, "that I got up at an
absurd hour this morning to read your play; that I did read it; that I
like it immensely—and that if we can come to terms I shall produce
it. I shall produce it at once, within a fortnight or three weeks."
Carroll was staring at him intently and continued doing so after
Wimpole had finished speaking. The actor felt he had somehow missed
his point, or that Carroll could not have understood him, and
repeated, "I say I shall put it in rehearsal at once."
Carroll rose abruptly, and pushed back his chair. "I should be very
glad," he murmured, and strode over to the window, where he stood with
his back turned to his guests. Wimpole looked after him with a kindly
smile and nodded his head appreciatively. He had produced even a
greater effect than his lines seemed to warrant. When he spoke again,
it was quite simply, and sincerely, and though he spoke for Carroll's
benefit, he addressed himself to Marion.
"You were quite right last night," he said; "it is a most charming
piece of work. I am really extremely grateful to you for bringing it
to my notice." He rose, and going to Carroll, put his hand on his
shoulder. "My boy," he said, "I congratulate you. I should like to be
your age, and to have written that play. Come to my theatre to-morrow
and we will talk terms. Talk it over first with your friends, so that
I shan't rob you. Do you think you would prefer a lump sum now, and so
be done with it altogether, or trust that the royalties may—"
"Royalties," prompted Marion, in an eager aside.
The men laughed. "Quite right," Wimpole assented, good-humoredly;
"it's a poor sportsman who doesn't back his own horse. Well, then,
"But," Carroll began, "one moment, please. I haven't thanked you."
"My dear boy," cried Wimpole, waving him away with his stick, "it is I
who have to thank you."
"And—and there is a condition," Carroll said, "which goes with the
play. It is that Miss Cavendish is to have the part of Nancy."
Wimpole looked serious and considered for a moment.
"Nancy," he said, "the girl who interferes—a very good part. I
have cast Miss Maddox for it in my mind, but, of course, if the author
Marion, with her elbows on the table, clasped her hands appealingly
"Oh, Mr. Wimpole!" she cried, "you owe me that, at least."
Carroll leaned over and took both of Marion's hands in one of his.
"It's all right," he said; "the author insists."
Wimpole waved his stick again as though it were the magic wand of the
"You shall have it," he said. "I recall your performance in 'The New
Boy' with pleasure. I take the play, and Miss Cavendish shall be cast
for Nancy. We shall begin rehearsals at once. I hope you are a
"I'm letter-perfect now," laughed Marion.
Wimpole turned at the door and nodded to them. They were both so
young, so eager, and so jubilant that he felt strangely old and out of
it. "Good-by, then," he said.
"Good-by, sir," they both chorused. And Marion cried after him, "And
thank you a thousand times."
He turned again and looked back at them, but in their rejoicing they
had already forgotten him. "Bless you, my children," he said, smiling.
As he was about to close the door a young girl came down the passage
toward it, and as she was apparently going to Carroll's rooms, the
actor left the door open behind him.
Neither Marion nor Carroll had noticed his final exit. They were both
gazing at each other as though, could they find speech, they would ask
if it were true.
"It's come at last, Marion," Philip said, with an uncertain voice.
"I could weep," cried Marion. "Philip," she exclaimed, "I would rather
see that play succeed than any play ever written, and I would rather
play that part in it than—Oh, Philip," she ended, "I'm so proud of
you!" and rising, she threw her arms about his neck and sobbed on his
Carroll raised one of her hands and kissed the tips of her fingers
gently. "I owe it to you, Marion," he said—"all to you."
This was the tableau that was presented through the open door to Miss
Helen Cabot, hurrying on her errand of restitution and goodwill, and
with Philip's ring and watch clasped in her hand. They had not heard
her, nor did they see her at the door, so she drew back quickly and
ran along the passage and down the stairs into the street.
She did not need now to analyze her feelings. They were only too
evident. For she could translate what she had just seen as meaning
only one thing—that she had considered Philip's love so lightly that
she had not felt it passing away from her until her neglect had killed
it—until it was too late. And now that it was too late she felt that
without it her life could not go on. She tried to assure herself that
only the fact that she had lost it made it seem invaluable, but this
thought did not comfort her—she was not deceived by it, she knew that
at last she cared for him deeply and entirely. In her distress she
blamed herself bitterly, but she also blamed Philip no less bitterly
for having failed to wait for her. "He might have known that I must
love him in time," she repeated to herself again and again. She was so
unhappy that her letter congratulating Philip on his good fortune in
having his comedy accepted seemed to him cold and unfeeling, and as
his success meant for him only what it meant to her, he was hurt and
He accordingly turned the more readily to Marion, whose interest and
enthusiasm at the rehearsals of the piece seemed in contrast most
friendly and unselfish. He could not help but compare the attitude of
the two girls at this time, when the failure or success of his best
work was still undecided. He felt that as Helen took so little
interest in his success he could not dare to trouble her with his
anxieties concerning it, and she attributed his silence to his
preoccupation and interest in Marion. So the two grew apart, each
misunderstanding the other and each troubled in spirit at the other's
The first night of the play justified all that Marion and Wimpole had
claimed for it, and was a great personal triumph for the new
playwright. The audience was the typical first-night audience of the
class which Charles Wimpole always commanded. It was brilliant,
intelligent, and smart, and it came prepared to be pleased.
From one of the upper stage-boxes Helen and Lady Gower watched the
successful progress of the play with an anxiety almost as keen as that
of the author. To Helen it seemed as though the giving of these lines
to the public—these lines which he had so often read to her, and
altered to her liking—was a desecration. It seemed as though she were
losing him indeed—as though he now belonged to these strange people,
all of whom were laughing and applauding his words, from the German
Princess in the Royal box to the straight-backed Tommy in the pit.
Instead of the painted scene before her, she saw the birch-trees by
the river at home, where he had first read her the speech to which
they were now listening so intensely—the speech in which the hero
tells the girl he loves her. She remembered that at the time she had
thought how wonderful it would be if some day some one made such a
speech to her—not Philip, but a man she loved. And now? If Philip
would only make that speech to her now!
He came out at last, with Wimpole leading him, and bowed across a
glaring barrier of lights at a misty but vociferous audience that was
shouting the generous English bravo! and standing up to applaud. He
raised his eyes to the box where Helen sat, and saw her staring down
at the tumult, with her hands clasped under her chin. Her face was
colorless, but lit with the excitement of the moment; and he saw that
she was crying.
Lady Gower, from behind her, was clapping her hands delightedly.
"But, my dear Helen," she remonstrated, breathlessly, "you never told
me he was so good-looking."
"Yes," said Helen, rising abruptly, "he is—very good-looking."
She crossed the box to where her cloak was hanging, but instead of
taking it down, buried her face in its folds.
"My dear child!" cried Lady Gower, in dismay. "What is it? The
excitement has been too much for you."
"No, I am just happy," sobbed Helen. "I am just happy for him."
"We will go and tell him so, then," said Lady Gower. "I am sure he
would like to hear it from you to-night."
Philip was standing in the centre of the stage, surrounded by many
pretty ladies and elderly men. Wimpole was hovering over him as though
he had claims upon him by the right of discovery.
But when Philip saw Helen, he pushed his way toward her eagerly and
took her hand in both of his.
"I am so glad, Phil," she said. She felt it all so deeply that she was
afraid to say more, but that meant so much to her that she was sure he
He had planned it very differently. For a year he had dreamed that, on
the first night of his play, there would be a supper, and that he
would rise and drink her health, and tell his friends and the world
that she was the woman he loved, and that she had agreed to marry him,
and that at last he was able, through the success of his play, to make
her his wife.
And now they met in a crowd to shake hands, and she went her way with
one of her grand ladies, and he was left among a group of chattering
strangers. The great English playwright took him by the hand and in
the hearing of all praised him gracefully and kindly. It did not
matter to Philip whether the older playwright believed what he said or
not; he knew it was generously meant.
"I envy you this," the great man was saying. "Don't lose any of it,
stay and listen to all they have to say. You will never live through
the first night of your first play but once."
"Yes, I hear them," said Philip, nervously; "they are all too kind.
But I don't hear the voice I have been listening for," he added, in a
whisper. The older man pressed his hand again quickly. "My dear boy,"
he said, "I am sorry."
"Thank you," Philip answered.
Within a week he had forgotten the great man's fine words of praise,
but the clasp of his hand he cherished always.
Helen met Marion as she was leaving the stage-door and stopped to
congratulate her on her success in the new part. Marion was radiant.
To Helen she seemed obstreperously happy and jubilant.
"And, Marion," Helen began, bravely, "I also want to congratulate you
on something else. You—you—neither of you have told me yet," she
stammered, "but I am such an old friend of both that I will not be
kept out of the secret." At these words Marion's air of triumphant
gayety vanished; she regarded Helen's troubled eyes closely and
"What secret, Helen?" she asked.
"I came to the door of Philip's room the other day when you did not
know I was there," Helen answered, "and I could not help seeing how
matters were. And I do congratulate you both—and wish you—oh, such
happiness!" Without a word Marion dragged her back down the passage to
her dressing-room, and closed the door.
"Now tell me what you mean," she said.
"I am sorry if I discovered anything you didn't want known yet," said
Helen, "but the door was open. Mr. Wimpole had just left you and had
not shut it, and I could not help seeing."
Marion interrupted her with an eager exclamation of enlightenment.
"Oh, you were there, then," she cried. "And you?" she asked,
eagerly—"you thought Phil cared for me—that we are engaged, and it
hurt you; you are sorry? Tell me," she demanded, "are you sorry?"
Helen drew back and stretched out her hand toward the door.
"How can you!" she exclaimed, indignantly. "You have no right."
Marion stood between her and the door.
"I have every right," she said, "to help my friends, and I want to
help you and Philip. And, indeed, I do hope you are sorry. I
hope you are miserable. And I'm glad you saw me kiss him. That was the
first and the last time, and I did it because I was happy and glad for
him; and because I love him, too, but not in the least in the way he
loves you. No one ever loved any one as he loves you. And it's time
you found it out. And if I have helped to make you find it out, I'm
glad, and I don't care how much I hurt you."
"Marion!" exclaimed Helen, "what does it mean? Do you mean that you
are not engaged; that—"
"Certainly not," Marion answered. "I am going to marry Reggie. It is
you that Philip loves, and I am very sorry for you that you don't love
Helen clasped Marion's hands in both of hers.
"But, Marion!" she cried, "I do, oh, I do!"
There was a thick yellow fog the next morning, and with it rain and a
sticky, depressing dampness which crept through the window-panes, and
which neither a fire nor blazing gas-jets could overcome.
Philip stood in front of the fireplace with the morning papers piled
high on the centre-table and scattered over the room about him.
He had read them all, and he knew now what it was to wake up famous,
but he could not taste it. Now that it had come it meant nothing, and
that it was so complete a triumph only made it the harder. In his most
optimistic dreams he had never imagined success so satisfying as the
reality had proved to be; but in his dreams Helen had always held the
chief part, and without her, success seemed only to mock him.
He wanted to lay it all before her, to say, "If you are pleased, I am
happy. If you are satisfied, then I am content. It was done for you,
and I am wholly yours, and all that I do is yours." And, as though in
answer to his thoughts, there was an instant knock at the door, and
Helen entered the room and stood smiling at him across the table.
Her eyes were lit with excitement, and spoke with many emotions, and
her cheeks were brilliant with color. He had never seen her look more
"Why, Helen!" he exclaimed, "how good of you to come. Is there
anything wrong? Is anything the matter?"
She tried to speak, but faltered, and smiled at him appealingly.
"What is it?" he asked in great concern.
Helen drew in her breath quickly, and at the same moment motioned him
away—and he stepped back and stood watching her in much perplexity.
With her eyes fixed on his she raised her hands to her head, and her
fingers fumbled with the knot of her veil. She pulled it loose, and
then, with a sudden courage, lifted her hat proudly, as though it were
a coronet, and placed it between them on his table.
"Philip," she stammered, with the tears in her voice and eyes, "if you
will let me—I have come to stay."
The table was no longer between them. He caught her in his arms and
kissed her face and her uncovered head again and again. From outside
the rain beat drearily and the fog rolled through the street, but
inside before the fire the two young people sat close together, asking
eager questions or sitting in silence, staring at the flames with
wondering, happy eyes.
The Lion and the Unicorn saw them only once again. It was a month
later when they stopped in front of the shop in a four-wheeler, with
their baggage mixed on top of it, and steamer-labels pasted over every
"And, oh, Prentiss!" Carroll called from the cab-window. "I came near
forgetting. I promised to gild the Lion and the Unicorn if I won out
in London. So have it done, please, and send the bill to me. For I've
won out all right." And then he shut the door of the cab, and they
drove away forever.
"Nice gal, that," growled the Lion. "I always liked her. I am glad
they've settled it at last."
The Unicorn sighed sentimentally. "The other one's worth two of her,"