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The lure of the mask


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Title:TheLureoftheMask
Author:HaroldMacGrath
Illustrator:HarrisonFisher
KarlAnderson
ReleaseDate:July27,2007[EBook#22158]
[Lastupdated:July22,2011]
Language:English

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TheLUREOFTHEMASK


ByHAROLDMACGRATH
WITHILLUSTRATIONSBY
HARRISONFISHER
AND
KARLANDERSON
INDIANAPOLIS
THEBOBBS-MERRILLCOMPANY
PUBLISHERS
COPYRIGHT1908
PRESSOF
BRAUNWORTH&CO.
BOOKBINDERSANDPRINTERS
BROOKLYN,N.Y.
TO
MYFELLOWTRAVELER
AND
GENTLECRITIC


CONTENTS
CHAPTERI.THEVOICEINTHEFOG
CHAPTERII.OBJECT,MATRIMONY
CHAPTERIII.MADAMEANGOT
CHAPTERIV.BLINDFOLDED
CHAPTERV.THEMASK
CHAPTERVI.INTOTHEFOGAGAIN
CHAPTERVII.THETOSSOFACOIN
CHAPTERVIII.WHATMERRIHEWFOUND
CHAPTERIX.MRS.SANDFORDWINKS
CHAPTERX.CARABINIERI
CHAPTERXI.THECITYINTHESEA
CHAPTERXII.ABOXOFCIGARS
CHAPTERXIII.KITTYASKSQUESTIONS
CHAPTERXIV.GREYVEILS
CHAPTERXV.MANYNAPOLEONS
CHAPTERXVI.O'MALLYSUGGESTS
CHAPTERXVII.GIOVANNI


CHAPTERXVIII.THEARIAFROMILTROVATORE
CHAPTERXIX.TWOGENTLEMENFROMVERONA
CHAPTERXX.KITTYDROPSABANDBOX
CHAPTERXXI.ANINVITATIONTOABALL
CHAPTERXXII.TANGLES
CHAPTERXXIII.THEDÉNOUEMENT
CHAPTERXXIV.MEASUREFORMEASURE
CHAPTERXXV.FREE
CHAPTERXXVI.THELETTER
CHAPTERXXVII.BELLAGGIO


LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS
O'Mallytoldinimitablestories
Shedeliberatelydrewalineacrossthecentreofthetable-cloth
InthebalconyLaSignorinareposedinasteamerchair
"Ourlittlejigisup.Readtheseandseeforyourself."
Againandagaintheprincemadedesperateattemptstofreehimself
"Takeme,andoh!begoodandkindtome"


THELUREOFTHEMASK


CHAPTERI
THEVOICEINTHEFOG
Out of the unromantic night, out of the somber blurring January fog, came a
voiceliftedinsong,asoprano,rich,fullandround,young,yetmatured,sweet
andmysteriousasanight-bird's,hauntingandelusiveasthemurmurofthesea
in a shell: a lilt from La Fille de Madame Angot, a light opera long since
forgotten in New York. Hillard, genuinely astonished, lowered his pipe and
listened.Tositdreamingbyanopenwindow,eveninthisunlovelyfirstmonth
of the year, in that grim unhandsome city which boasts of its riches and still
accepts with smug content its rows upon rows of ugly architecture, to sit
dreaming,then,ofred-tiledroofs,ofcloud-caressedhills,ofterracedvineyards,
ofcypressesintheirdarkaloofness,isnotoutofthenaturalorderofthings;but
thatintothisidleandpleasantdreamthereshouldentersodivineavoice,living,
feeling,pulsing,thiswasnotordinaryatall.
AndHillardwasgladthattheroomwasindarkness.Heroseeagerlyandpeered
out.Buthesawnoone.Acrossthestreetthearc-lampburneddimly,likeanopal
in the matrix, while of architectural outlines not one remained, the fog having
kindlyobliteratedthem.
The Voice rose and sank and soared again, drawing nearer and nearer. It was
joyousand unrestrained,andtherewasyouthinit,thetouchofspringand the
breathofflowers.ThemusicwasLecocq's,thatistosay,French;butthetongue
wasofacountrywhichHillardknewtobethegardenoftheworld.Presentlyhe
observed a shadow emerge from the yellow mist, to come within the circle of
light,which,faintasitwas,limnedinagainstthenothingnessbeyondtheform
ofawoman.Shewalkeddirectlyunderhiswindow.
Astheinvisiblecomessuddenlyoutofthefuturetoassumedistinctproportions
whicheithermakeormarus,sodidthisunknowncantatricecomeoutofthefog
that night and enter into Hillard's life, to readjust its ambitions, to divert its
aimlesscourse,togiveimpetustoit,andadirectnesswhichhithertoithadnot
known.
"Ah!"


He leaned over the sill at a perilous angle, the bright coal of his pipe spilling
comet-wisetothearea-waybelow.Hewasonlysubconsciousofhavingspoken;
but this syllable was sufficient to spoil the enchantment. The Voice ceased
abruptly, with an odd break. The singer looked up. Possibly her astonishment
surpassedeventhatofheraudience.Forafewminutesshehadforgottenthatshe
wasinNewYork,whereromancemaybefoundonlyinthebook-shops;shehad
forgottenthatitwasnight,adampandchillforlornnight;shehadforgottenthe
paininherheart;therehadbeenonlyagreatandirresistiblelongingtosing.
Though she raised her face, he could distinguish no feature, for the light was
behind. However, he was a man who made up his mind quickly. Brunette or
blond,beautifulorotherwise,itneededbutamomenttofindout.Evenasthis
decisionwasmadehewasintheupperhall,takingthestairstwoatabound.He
ranoutintothenight,bareheaded.Upthestreethesawaflyingshadow.Plainly
she had anticipated his impulse and the curiosity behind it. Even as he gave
chase the shadow melted in the fog, as ice melts in running waters, as flame
dissolvesinsunshine.Shewasgone.Hecuppedhisearwithhishand;invain,
therecamenosoundasofpatteringfeet;therewasnothingbutfogandsilence.
"Well,ifthisdoesn'tbeattheDutch!"hemurmured.
Helaugheddisappointedly.Itdidnotmatterthathewasthreeandthirty;hestill
retainedyouthenoughtofeelchagrinedatsuchatrivialdefeat.Herehadbeen
something like a genuine adventure, and it had slipped like water through his
clumsyfingers.
"Deucetakethefog!ButforthatI'dhavecaughther."
But reason promptly asked him what he should have done had he caught the
singer.Yes,supposinghehad,whatexcusewouldhehavehadtooffer?Denial
onherpartwouldhavebeensimple,andrighteousindignationatbeingaccosted
onthestreetsimplerstill.Hehadnotseenherface,anddoubtlessshewasaware
ofthisfact.Thus,shewouldhavehadalltheweaponsfordefenseandhenotone
for attack. But though reason argued well, it did not dislodge his longing. He
would have been perfectly happy to have braved her indignation for a single
glanceatherface.Hewalkedback,lightinghispipe.Whocouldshebe?What
peculiarwhimsicalfreakhadsenthersingingpasthiswindowatoneo'clockof
themorning?Agrandoperasinger,returninghomefromalatesupper?Buthe
dismissedthisopinionevenasheadvancedit.Heknewsomethingaboutgrand
operasingers.Theyattendlatesuppers,itistrue,buttheyridehomeinluxurious


carriagesandneverrisktheirgoldenvoicesinthiscarelessifromanticfashion.
AndinNewYorknobodytookthetroubletoserenadeanybodyelse,unlesspaid
inadvanceandarmedwithapolicepermit.Asforbeingacomic-operastar,he
refusedtoadmitthepossibility;andherelegatedthiswell-satisfiedconstellation
tothedarksoflimbo.HehadheardaVoice.
A vast, shadow loomed up in the middle of the street, presently to take upon
itself the solid outlines of a policeman who came lumbering over to add or
subtracthisquotaofinterestintheaffair.Hillardwiselystoppedandwaitedfor
him, pulling up the collar of his jacket, as he began to note that there was a
winter'stangtothefog.
"Hi,what'sallthis?"thepolicemancalledoutroughly.
"To what do you refer?" Hillard counter-questioned, puffing. He slipped his
handsintothepocketsofhisjacket.
"Iheardawomansingin',that'swhat!"explainedtheguardianofthelaw.
"SodidI."
"Oh,youdid,huh?"
"Certainly.Itispatentthatmyearsareasgoodasyours."
"Huh!Seeher?"
"Foramoment,"Hillardadmitted.
"Well,wecan'thavenoneo'thisinthestreets.It'sdisorderly."
"My friend," said Hillard, rather annoyed at the policeman's tone, "you don't
thinkforaninstantthatIwasdirectingthisoperetta?"
"Think?Where'syourhat?"
Hillardranhishandoverhishead.Thepolicemanhadhimhere."Ididnotbring
itout."
"Toowarmandsummery;huh?Itdon'tlookgood.I'vebeenwatchin'theseparts
feraleddy.TheycallherLeddyLightfinger;an'shehassomeO'thegentsdone
toapulpwhenitcomestoliftin'joolsan'trinkets.Somebodyfergitstolockthe
frontdoor,an'shefindsitout.Whydidyoucomeoutwithoutyerlid?"


"Justforgotit,that'sall."
"Whichway'dshego?"
"You'llneedamapandasearch-light.Istartedtorunafterhermyself.Ihearda
voicefrommywindow;Isawawoman;Imadeforthestreet;niente!"
"Huh?"
"Niente,nothing!"
"Oh!Isee;Dago.Seemstomenowthatthiswomanwassingin'I-taly-an,too."
They were nearing the light, and the policeman gazed intently at the hatless
youngman."Why,it'sMr.Hillard!I'msurprised.Well,well!SomedayI'llrunin
abuncho'thesechorusleddies,jes'feralesson.Theygitlivelyattherestaurants
overonBroadway,an'thintheyraisethedeadwiththeirsingin',which,oftenas
not,isanythin'butsingin'.An'hereitis,afterone."
"Butthiswasnotachoruslady,"repliedHillard,thoughtfullyreachingintohis
vestforacigar.
"Sure,an'howdoyouknow?"withrenewedsuspicions.
"Theladyhadasingingvoice."
"Huh!Theyallthinkalikeaboutthat.Butmebbeshewasn'tbadatthebusiness.
Annyhow...."
"Itwasratheroutoftimeandplace,eh?"helpfully.
"That's about the size of it. This Leddy Lightfinger is a case. She has us all
thinkin' on our nights off. Clever an' edjicated, an' jabbers in half a dozen
tongues.It'sathousan'tothemanwhojugsher.Butshedon'tsing;atleast,they
ain'tanyreporttothateffect.Perhapsyourleddywasjes'larkin'abit.Butit'sgot
tobestopped."
Hillard passed over the cigar, and the policeman bit off the end, nodding with
approval at such foresight. The young man then proffered the coal of his pipe
and the policeman took his light therefrom, realizing that after such a peaceofferingtherewasnothingforhimtodobutmoveon.Yetondismallonesome
nights, like this one, it is a godsend and a comfort to hear one's own voice
againstthedarkness.Sohelingered.


"Didn'tgetapeepatherface?"
"Notasinglefeature.Thelightwasbehindher."Hillardtappedonetoeandthen
theother.
"An'howwasshedressed?"
"Infog,forallIcouldsee."
"Onthelevelnow,didn'tyouknowwhoshewas?"ThepolicemangaveHillarda
slydigintheribswithhisclub.
"Onmyword!"
"Someswell,mebbe."
"Undoubtedlyalady.That'swhyitlooksodd,whyitbroughtmeintothestreet.
She sang in classic Italian. And what's more, for the privilege of hearing that
voiceagain,Ishouldnotmindsittingonthiscoldcurbtillthemilkmancomes
aroundinthemorning."
"That wouldn't be fer long," laughed the policeman, taking out his watch and
holdingitclosetotheendofhiscigar."Twentyminutesafterone.Well,Imust
begittin'backtomebeat.An'you'dbetterbegoin'in;it'scold.Goodnight."
"Goodnight,"Hillardrespondedcheerfully.
"Say,what'sI-taly-anfergoodnight?"stillreluctanttogoon.
"Buonanotte."
"Bonynotty;huh,soundslikeChineseferrheumatism.BeentoItaly?"
"Iwasbornthere,"patiently.
"No!Why,you'renoDago!"
"Notsomuchasaneyelash.Thestorkhappenedtodropthebasketthere,that's
all."
"Ha!Isee.Well,Amerikyisgoodenoughfermean'mine,"complacently.
"Idaresay!"
"An' if this stogy continues t' behave, we'll say no more about the vanishin'


leddy." And with this the policeman strolled off into the fog, his suspicions in
nowiseremoved.HeknewmanyrichyoungbachelorslikeHillard.Ifitwasn'ta
chorus lady, it was a prima donna, which was not far in these degenerate days
frombeingthesamething.
Hillard regained his room and leaned with his back to the radiator. He had an
idea. It was rather green and salad, but as soon as his hands were warm he
determinedtoputthisideaintoimmediateuse.TheVoicehadstirredhimdeeply,
stirred him with the longing to hear it again, to see the singer's face, to learn
what extraordinary impulse had loosed the song. Perhaps it was his unspoken
loneliness striving to call out against this self-imposed isolation; for he was
secretlylonely,asallbachelorsmustbewhohavepassedtheRubiconofthirty.
He made no analysis of this new desire, or rather this old desire, newly
awakened. He embraced it gratefully. Such is the mystery and power of the
humanvoice:thisone,passingcasuallyunderhiswindow,hadawakenedhim.
Neverthewintercamewithitswearyroundofrainandfogandsnowthathis
heartandminddidnotflyoverthetidelesssouthernseatothelandofhisbirthif
notofhisblood.Sorrento,thatjeweloftheruddyclifts!Therewasfogoutside
his window, and yet how easy it was to picture the turquoise bay of Naples
shimmeringinthemorninglight!TherewasNaplesitself,likeastringofitsown
pink coral, lying crescent-wise on the distant strand; there were the snowcaps
fading on the far horizon; the bronzed fishermen and their wives, a sheer two
hundred feet below him, pulling in their glistening nets; the amethyst isles of
CapriandIschiaeternallyhangingmidwaybetweentheblueoftheskyandthe
blueofthesea;andthere,toweringmenacinglyaboveallthismeltingbeauty,the
dark,grimpipeofVulcan.Howeasily,indeed,hecouldseeallthesethings!
Withaquickgestureofbothhands,Latin,alwaysLatin,hecrossedtheroomtoa
smallwriting-desk,turnedonthelightsandsatdown.Hesmiledashetookup
the pen to begin his composition. Not one chance in a thousand. And after
severalattemptsherealizedthattheletterhehadinmindwasnotthesimplestto
compose. There were a dozen futile efforts before he produced anything like
satisfaction.Thenhefilledoutasmallcheck.Alittlelaterhestoledown-stairs,
roundthecornertothelocalbranchofthepost-office,andreturned.Itwasonly
ablindthrow,suchasdicerssometimesmakeinthedark.Butchancelovesher
truegamester,andtohimshemakesafaithfulservant.
"I should be sorely tempted," he mused, picking up a novel and selecting a
comfortable angle in the Morris, "I should be sorely tempted to call any other


manasillyass.LeddyLightfinger—itwouldbeafinejokeifmysingerturned
outtobethatirregularperson."
Hefelltoreading,butitwasnotlongbeforeheyawned.Heshiedthebookinto
acorner,drewoffhisbootsandcastthemintothehall.Amomentafterhisvalet
appeared,gathereduptheboots,tuckedthemunderhisarm,andwaited.
"Iwantnothing,Giovanni.Ihaveonlybeenaroundtothepost-office."
"Iheardthedooropenandclosefourtimes,signore."
"ItwasIeachtime.Ifthisfogdoesnotchangeintorain,Ishallwantmyridingbreechesto-morrowmorning."
"Itisalwaysraininghere,"Giovanniremarkedsadly.
"Notalways;therearepleasantdaysinthespringandsummer.Itisbecausethis
is not Italy. The Hollander wonders how any reasonable being can dwell in a
countrywheretheydonotdrinkgin.It'shome,Giovanni;rainpeltsyoufroma
differentanglehere.Thereisnothingmore;youmaygo.Itistwoo'clock,and
youaredeadforsleep."
ButGiovannionlybowed;hedidnotstir.
"Well?"inquiredhismaster.
"Itissevenyearsnow,signore."
"Soitis;seventhiscomingApril."
"Iamnowacitizenofthiscountry;Iobeyitslaws;Ivote."
"Yes,Giovanni,youareanAmericancitizen,andyoushouldbeproudofit."
Giovannismiled."ImayreturntomygoodItaliawithoutdanger."
"Thatdepends.Ifyoudonotrunacrossanyofficialwhorecognizesyou."
Giovanni spread his hands. "Official memory seldom lasts so long as seven
years.Thesignorehascrossedfourtimesinthisperiod."
"Iwouldgladlyhavetakenyoueachtime,asyouknow."
"Oh, yes! But in two or three years the police do not forget. In seven it is
different."


"Ah!" Hillard was beginning to understand the trend of this conversation. "So,
then,youwishtoreturn?"
"Yes,signore.Ihavesavedalittlemoney,"modestly.
"Alittle?"Hillardlaughed."ForsevenyearsyouhavereceivedfiftyAmerican
dollarseverymonth,andoutofityoudonotspendasmanycoppercentesimi.I
amcertainthatyouhavetwentythousandliretuckedawayinyourstocking;a
fortune!"
"Ibuytheblackingforthesignore'sboots,"gravely.
Hillard saw the twinkle in the black eyes. "I have never," he said truthfully,
"askedyoutoblackmyboots."
"Penance, signore, penance for my sins; and I am not without gratitude. There
was a time when I had rather cut off a hand than black a boot; but all that is
changed. We of the Sabine Hills are proud, as the signore knows. We are
Romansoutthere;wedespisethecities;andwedonotholdoutourpalmsfor
the traveler's pennies. I am a peasant, but always remember the blood of the
Cæsars. Who can say? Besides, I have held a sword for the church. I owe no
allegiancetothepunyHouseofSavoy!"Therewasnotwinkleintheblackeyes
now; there was a ferocious gleam. It died away quickly, however; the squared
shouldersdrooped,andtherewasadeprecatingshrug."Pardon,signore;thisis
farawayfromthematterofboots.Igrowboastful;Iamanoldmanandshould
knowbetter.ButdoesthesignorereturntoItalyinthespring?"
"Idon'tknow,Giovanni,Idon'tknow.Butwhat'sonyourmind?"
"Nothingnew,signore,"witheyescastdowntohidethereturninglights.
"Youareabloodthirstyruffian!"saidHillardshortly."Willtimeneversoftenthe
murderinyourheart?"
"Iamas thegoodGodmademe.Ihaveseenthroughblood,andtimecannot
changethat.Besides,theHolyFatherwilldosomethingforonewhofoughtfor
thecause."
"Hewillcertainlynotcountenancebloodshed,Giovanni."
"Hecanabsolveit.Andasyousay,Iamrich,asrichesgointheSabineHills."
"Iwasinhopesyouhadforgotten."


"Forgotten?Thesignorewillneverunderstand;itishisfather'sblood.Shewas
soprettyandyouthful,eyeofmyeye,heartofmyheart!Andinnocent!Shesang
likethenightingale.Shewasalwayshappy.Upwiththedawn,tosleepwiththe
stars.Wewerealone,sheandI.Thesheepsupportedmeandshesoldherroses
anddriedlavender.Itwasallsobeautiful...tillhecame.Ah,hadhelovedher!
Butaplaything,apastime!Thesignoreneverhadadaughter.Whatisshenow?
Anamelessthinginthestreets!"Giovanniraisedhisarmstragically;thehoots
clattered to the floor. "Seven years! It is a long time for one of my blood to
wait."
"Enough!"criedHillard;buttherewasahardnessinhisthroatatthesightofthe
old man's tears. Where was the proud and stately man, the black-bearded
shepherdinfadedbluelinen,inpicturesquegarters,withhisreed-likepipe,that
he, Hillard, had known in his boyhood days? Surely not here. Giovanni had
known the great wrong, but Hillard could not in conscience's name foster the
spiritwhichdemandedaneyeforaneye.Sohesaid:"Icangiveyouonlymy
sympathy for your loss, but I abhor the spirit of revenge which can not find
satisfactioninanythingsavemurder."
Giovanni once more picked up the boots. "I shall leave the signore in the
spring."
"Asyouplease,"saidHillardgently.
Giovannibowedgravelyandmadeoffwithhisboots.Hillardremainedstaring
thoughtfullyatthemany-coloredsquaresintherugunderhisfeet.Itwouldbe
lonesomewithGiovannigone.Theoldmanhadevidentlymadeuphismind....
ButtheWomanwiththeVoice,wouldsheseethenoticeinthepaper?Andifshe
did,wouldshereplytoit?Whatafoundationforaromance!...Bah!Heprepared
forbed.
To those who reckon earthly treasures as the only thing worth having, John
Hillard was a fortunate young man. That he was without kith or kin was
consideredbymanyasanadditionalpieceofgoodfortune.BorninSorrento,in
one of the charming villas which sweep down to the very brow of the cliffs,
educated in Rome up to his fifteenth year; taken at that age from the dreamy,
drifting land and thrust into the noisy, bustling life which was his inheritance;
fatherlessandmotherlessattwenty;acollegeyouthwhowasforevermixinghis
Italian with his English and being laughed at; hating tumult and loving quiet;
warm-hearted and impulsive, yet meeting only habitual reserve from his


compatriots whichever way he turned; it is not to be wondered at that he
preferredthelandofhisbirthtothatofhisblood.
All this might indicate an artistic temperament, the ability to do petty things
grandly; but Hillard had escaped this. He loved his Raphaels, his Titians, his
Veroneses,hisRubenses,withoutanydesiretomakeindifferentcopiesofthem;
he admired his Dante, his Petrarch, his Goldoni, without the wish to imitate
them. He was full of sentiment without being sentimental, a poet who thought
but never indited verses. His father's blood was in his veins, that is to say, the
saltofrestraint;thus,hisfortunegrewandmultiplied.Thestrongestandreddest
corpusclehadbeenthegiftofhismother.Shehadlefthimthelegacyofloving
allbeautifulthingsinmoderation,thelegacyofgentleness,ofcharity,ofstrong
lovesandfrankhatreds,ofhumor,oflivingoutintheopen,ofdreaminggreat
thingsandaccomplishingnoneofthem.
Theoldhouseinwhichhelivedwasnotinthefashionablequarterofthetown;
butthatdidnotmatter.Nordiditvaryexternallyfromanyofitsunpretentious
neighbors.Inside,however,thereweretreasurespricelessandunique.Therewas
nowomaninthehousehold;hemightsmokeinanyroomhepleased.Acook,a
butler,andavaletwerethesum-totalofhisretinue.Inappearanceheresembled
manyanotherclean-cut,clean-livingAmericangentleman.
Giovannisoughthisownroomattheendofthehall,squattedonalowstooland
solemnlybeganthebusinessofblackinghismaster'sboots.Hewasstillaslean
and tall as a Lombardy poplar, this handsome old Roman. His hair was white;
therewasnownoblackbeardonhisface,whichwasasbrownandcreasedas
Spanishlevant;andsomeofthefullnesswasgonefromhischestandarms;but
forallthathecarriedhisfifty-oddyearslightly.Heworkedswiftlyto-night,but
hismindwasfarawayfromhistask.
There was a pitiful story, commonplace enough. A daughter, a loose-living
officer, a knife flung from a dark alley, and sudden flight to the south. Hillard
had found him wandering through the streets of Naples, hiding from the
carabinieri as best he could. Hillard contrived to smuggle him on the private
yachtofafriend.Hefoundapeasantwhowasreconsideringtheadvisabilityof
diggingsewersandlayingrailroadtiesintheEldoradooftheWest.Afewpieces
of silver, and the passport changed hands. With this Giovanni blandly lied his
way into the United States. After due time he applied for citizenship, and
through Hillard's influence it was accorded him. He solemnly voted when
electionscameround,andhoardedhiswages,likethethriftymanhewas.Some


day he would return to Rome, or Naples, or Venice, or Florence, as the case
mightbe;andthen!
When the boots shone flawlessly, he carried them to Hillard's door and softly
tiptoed back. He put his face against the cold window. He, too, had heard the
Voice.Howhishearthurthimwithitswildhope!Butonlyforamoment.Itwas
not the voice he hungered for. The words were Italian, but he knew that the
womanwhosangthemwasnot!


CHAPTERII
OBJECT,MATRIMONY
WinterfogsinNewYorkareneverquitesointolerableastheircounterpartsin
London; and while their frequency is a matter of complaint, their duration is
seldom of any length. So, by the morrow a strong wind from the west had
winnowedtheskiesandclearedthesun.Therewasanexhilaratingtingleoffrost
intheairandavisiblerimeonthewindows.Hillard,havingbreakfastedlightly,
was standing with his back to the grate in the cozy breakfast-room. He was in
boots and breeches and otherwise warmly clad, and freshly shaven. He rocked
onhisheelsandtoes,andranhispalmoverhisblue-whitechininsearchofa
possibleslipoftherazor.
Giovanni came in to announce that he had telephoned, and that the signore's
brownmarewouldbeattheparkentrancepreciselyathalf-aftereight.Giovanni
stillmarveledoverthiswonderfulvoicewhichcameoutofnowhere,buthewas
nolongerafraidofit.Thecuriositywhichisinnateandchild-likeinallLatins
soon overcame his dark superstitions. He was an ardent Catholic and believed
thatafewmiraclesshouldbeleftinthehandsofGod.Thetelephonehadnow
becomeakindofplaything,andHillardoftenfoundhiminfrontofit,patiently
waitingforthebelltoring.
ThefacilitywithwhichGiovannihadmasteredEnglishamazedhisteacherand
master;butnowheneedednomorelessons,thetwowhenalonetogetherspoke
Giovanni'stongue:Hillard,becausehelovedit,andGiovannibecausethecook
spokeitbadlyandtheEnglishbutlernotatall.
"Youhavemadeupyourmindtogo,then,amico?"saidHillard.
"Yes,signore."
"Well, I shall miss you. To whom shall I talk the tongue I love so well, when
Giovanni is gone?" with a lightness which he did not feel. Hillard had grown
veryfondoftheoldRomaninthesesevenyears.
"Whenever the signore goes to Italia, he shall find me. It needs but a word to
bringmetohim.Thesignorewillpardonme,butheislike—likeason."


"Thanks,Giovanni.Bytheway,didyouhearawomansinginginthestreetlast
night?"
"Yes.Atfirst—"Giovannihesitated.
"Ah,butthatcouldnotbe,Giovanni;thatcouldnotbe."
"No,itcouldnotbe.Butshesangwell!"theoldservantventured.
"So thought I. I even ran out into the street to find out who she was; but she
vanishedliketheladyintheconjurer'strick.Butitseemedtomethat,whileshe
sanginItalian,sheherselfwasnotwhollyofthatrace."
"Buonissima!" Giovanni struck a noiseless brava with his hands. "Have I not
always said that the signore's ears are as sharp as my own? No, the voice was
verybeautiful,butitwasnottrulyRoman.ItwasmoreliketheytalkinVenice.
Andyetthesoundofthevoicedecidedme.Thehillshavealwaysbeencallingto
me;andImustanswer."
"Andtheunforgettingcarabinieri?"
"Oh,Imusttakemychance,"withtheairofafatalist.
"Whatshallyoudo?"
"I have my two hands, signore. Besides, the signore has said it; I am rich."
Giovanni permitted a smile to stir his thin lips. "Yes, I must go back. Your
people have been good to me and have legally made me one of them, but my
heartisneverhere.Itisalwayssocoldandeveryonemovessoquickly.Youcan
not lie down in the sun. Your police, bah! They beat you on the feet. You
rememberwhenIfellasleeponthestepsofthecathedral?TheythoughtIwas
drunk,andwouldhavearrestedme!"
"Everybodymustkeepmovinghere;itisthepenaltyofbeingrich."
"AndIamlonesomeformykind.Ihavenothingincommonwiththeseherdsof
SiciliansandNeapolitanswhopourintothestreetsfromthewharves."Giovanni
spokescornfully.
"YetinwartimetheNeapolitansshelteredyourpope."
"Vanity!Theywishedtomakeanimpressionontherestoftheworld.Itisdull
here,besides.Thereisnojoyintheshops.Iamlostinthesegreatpalaces.The


festaislacking.Nobodybargains;nobodyseestheproprietor;youfindyourway
tothestreetsalone.Thebutchersaysthathismeatisso-and-so,andyoupay;the
grocermarkshistinssuch-and-such,andyoudonotquestion;andthebakersays
that, and you pay, pay, pay! What? I need a collar; it is quindici—fifteenyou
say!Iofferquattordici.Iwouldgiveinteresttothesale.Butno!Thecollargoes
backintothebox.Ipayquindici,orIgowithout.Itisthesameeverywhere;very
dull,dead,lifeless."
Hillardwasmovedtolaughter.Heverywellunderstoodtheoldman'slament.In
Italy,ifthereisonethingmorethananotherthatpleasesthenativeitistomake
believe to himself that he has got the better of a bargain. A shrewd purchase
enlivensthewholeday;itistalkedabout,laughedover,andbecomesthehistory
of the day that Tomass', or Pietro, or Paoli, or whatever his name may be, has
bestedthemerchantoutofsometwentycentesimi.
"Andthecookandthebutler,"concludedGiovanna;"wedonotgetonwell."
"It is because they are in mortal fear of you, you brigand! Well, my coat and
cap."
Hillard presentlyleftthehouseandhailed aFifthAvenueomnibus. Helooked
with negative interest at the advertisements, at the people in the streets, at his
fellow-travelers.Oneofthesewashiddenbehindhismorningpaper.Personals.
Hillardsquirmedalittle.Theworldneverholdsverymuchromanceinthesober
morning. What a stupid piece of folly! The idea of his sending that personal
inquirytothepaper!To-morrowhewouldseeitsandwichedinbetweensamples
of shop-girl romance, questionable intrigues, and divers search-warrants. Ye
gods! "Will the blonde who smiled at gentleman in blue serge, elevated train,
Tuesday,meetsameinpark?Object,matrimony."Hillardfidgeted."Youngman
knownasAdoniswouldadorestoutelderlylady,independentlysituated.Object,
matrimony." Pish! "Girlie. Can't keep appointment to-night. Willie." Tush! "A
French Widow of eighteen, unencumbered," and so forth and so on. Rot, bally
rot; and here he was on the way to join them! "Will the lady who sang from
MadameAngot communicate with gentleman who leaned out of the window?
J.H.BurgomasterClub."Positivelyasinine!Themanoppositefoldedthepaper
andstuffeditintohispocket,anditsdisappearancerelievedHillardsomewhat.
Therewasscarceonechanceinathousandofthemysterioussinger'sseeingthe
inquiry,notoneintenthousandofheransweringit.Andthefollyofgivinghis
clubaddress!Thatwouldlookverydignifiedinyonderagonycolumn!Andthen


he brightened. He could withdraw it; and he would do so the very first thing
whenhewentdown-towntotheoffice."Object,matrimony!"Ifthewomansaw
itshewouldonlylaugh.Itwasalladecentwomancoulddo.Andcertainlythe
womanofthepastnight'sadventurewasofhighdegree,educated;anddoubtless
thespiritwhichhadpromptedthesongwasasinexplicabletoherthismorning
asithadbeentohimlastnight.Hehadlostnoneofthedesiretomeether,but
reason made it plain to him that a meeting could not possibly be arranged
throughanypersonalcolumninthenewspaper.Hewouldcancelthething.
Hedroppedfromtheomnibusattheparkentrance,wherehefoundhisrestive
mare.Hegaveheralumpofsugarandclimbedintothesaddle.Hedirectedthe
groom to return for the horse at ten o'clock, then headed for the bridle-path. It
washeavy,buttheairwassokeenandbracingthatneitherthemannorthehorse
worriedaboutthegoing.Therewereadozenorsoearlyridersbesideshimself,
and in and out the winding path they passed and repassed, walking, trotting,
cantering. Only one party attracted him: a riding master and a trio of brokers
whowerevergingonembonpoint,andweredesperateandlookedit.Theystood
inafairwayoflosingseveralpoundsthatmorning.Agoodrideralwayssmiles
at the sight of a poor one, when a little retrospection should make him rather
pitying. Hillard went on. The park was not lovely; the trees were barren, the
grass yellow and sodden, and here and there were grimy cakes of unmelted
snow.
"Sheissoinnocent,soyouthful!"
He found himself humming the refrain over and over. She had sung it with
abandon,tenderness,lightness.Foroneglimpseofherface!Hetooktheriseand
dipwhichfollowed.Perhapsahundredyardsaheadasolitarywomancantered
easily along. Hillard had not seen her before. He spurred forward, only faintly
curious.Sheprovedtobeatotalstranger.Therewasnothingfamiliartohiseye
inherfigure,whichwascharming.Sherodewell.Ashedrewnearerhesawthat
sheworeaheavygreyveil.Andthisveilhideverythingbutthesingleflashofa
pair of eyes the color of which defied him. Then he looked at her mount. Ha!
therewasonlyonerangyblackwithawhitethroat;fromtheSandfordstables,
hewaspositive.ButtheSandfordswereatthismomentinCairo,soitsignified
nothing.Thereisalwayssomeonereadytoexerciseyourhorses,iftheyhappen
to be showy ones. He looked again at the rider; the flash of the eyes was not
repeated;sohisinterestvanished,andheurgedthemareintoasharprun.Twice
inthecourseoftheridehepassedher,butherheadneverturned.Heknewitdid
notbecauseheturnedtosee.


So he went back to his tentative romance. She had passed his window and
disappearedintothefog,andtherewasareasonabledoubtofhereverreturning
from it. The Singer in the Fog; thus he would write it down in his book of
memories andsensibly turnthe page.Oncedown-townhewouldcountermand
hisorder,andthatwouldbetheendofit.Atlengthhecamebacktotheentrance
andsurrenderedthemare.Hewasabouttocrossthesquare,whenhewashailed.
"Hello,Jack!Isay,Hillard!"
HillardwheeledandsawMerrihew.He,too,wasinriding-breeches.
"Why,Dan,gladtoseeyou.Wereyouinthepark?"
"Riverside.Beastlycold,too.ComeintothePlazaandjoinmeinacupofgood
coffee."
"Hadbreakfastlongago,boy."
"Oh,justonecup!I'mlonesome."
"That'snoinducement;butI'lljoinyou,"repliedHillardcheerfully.
Thetwoenteredthecafé,satdown,andMerriheworderedMocha.
"Howare youbehavingyourselfthesedays?"askedMerrihew.Hedrankmore
coffeeandsmokedmorecigarsthanweregoodforhim.Hewasalwaysgoingto
startinnextweektoreducethequantity.
"Myhabitsarealwaysexemplary,"answeredHillard."Butyours?"
Merrihew'sfacelengthened.Hepulledtheyellowhairoutofhiseyesandgulped
hiscoffee.
"KittyKilligrewleavesintwoweeksforEurope."
"AndwhothedeuceisKittyKilligrew?"demandedHillard.
"What?" reproachfully. "You haven't heard of Kitty Killigrew in The Modern
Maid? Where've you been? Pippin! Prettiest soubrette that's hit the town in a
dog'sage."
"I say, Dan, don't you ever tire of that sort? I can't recall when there wasn't a
KittyKilligrew.What'stheattraction?"Hillardwavedasidethebigblackcigar.
"Noheavytobaccoformeinthemorning.What'stheattraction?"


Merrihewtouchedoffamatch,appliedittotheblackcigar,tookthecigarfrom
histeethandinspectedtheglowingendcritically.Heneverfailedtogothrough
thisabsurdpantomime;hewouldmissatrainratherthanomitit.
"Thetruthis,Jack,I'majackasshalfthetime.Ican'tgetawayfromtheglamour
of the footlights. I'm no Johnny; you know that. No hanging round stageentrancesandbuyingwineanddiamonds.Imightberecklessenoughtobuya
bunchofroses,whenI'mnotbroke.ButIlike'em,thebrightones.Theykeepa
fellowamused.Mostof'emspeakgoodEnglishandcomefrombetterfamilies
thanyouwouldsuppose.Justgoodfellowship,youknow;maybearabbitanda
bottle of beer after the performance, or a little quarter limit at the apartment,
singingandgoodstories.Whatyou'veinmindisthechorus-lady.Notformine!"
Hillardlaughed,recallinghisconversationwiththepoliceman.
"Goon,"hesaid;"getitalloutofyoursystem,nowthatyou'restarted."
"And then it tickles a fellow's vanity to be seen with them at the restaurants.
That'sthewayitbegins,youknow.I'llbeperfectlyfrankwithyou.Ifitwasn't
forwhattheotherfellowssay,mostofthechorus-ladieswouldgohungry.And
thegirlsthatyouandIknowthinkI'madevilofafellow,wickedbutinteresting,
andallthat."
Hillard'slaughterbrokeforthagain,andheleanedback.Merrihewwouldalways
betwenty-six,hewouldalwaysbeyouthful.
"AndthisKittyKilligrew?IbelieveI'veseenpostersofherinthewindows,now
thatyouspeakofit."
"Well,Jack,I'vegotitbadthistrip.Iofferedtomarryherlastnight."
"What!"
"Truth.Andwhatdoyouthink?Droppedmeveryneatlytwothousandfeet,but
softly.AndIwasserious,too."
"ItseemstomethatyourKittyisnothalfbad.Whatwouldyouhavedonehad
sheacceptedyou?"
"Marriedherwithintwenty-fourhours!"
"Come,Dan,besensible.Youarenotsuchanassasallthat."


"Yes,Iam,"moodily."Itoldyou thatIwasajackasshalfthetime;thisisthe
half."
"Butshewon'thaveyou?"
"Notforloveormoney."
"Areyousureaboutthemoney?"askedHillardshrewdly.
"Sevenhundredorseventhousand,itwouldn'tmattertoKittyifshemadeupher
mind to marry a fellow. What's the matter with me, anyhow? I'm not so badly
set-up;Icanwhipanymanintheclubatmyweight;Icantellastorywell;and
I'mnotafraidofanything."
"Notevenofthefuture!"addedHillard.
"Doyoureallythinkit'smymoney?"pathetically.
"Well,seventhousanddoesn'tgofar,andthat'sallyouhave.Ifitwereseventy,
now,I'mnotsureKittywouldn'treconsider."
Merrihew ran his tongue along the cigar wrapper which had loosened. He had
seventhousandayear,andeveryJanuaryfirstsawhimshoulderingathousand
odddollars'worthoflastyear'sdebts.Somehow,nomatterhowheretrenched,
he never could catch up. It's hard to pay for a horse after one has ridden it to
death,andMerrihewwasalwayspayingfordeadhorses.Hesighed.
"What'sshelike?"askedHillard,withmoresympathythancuriosity.
Merrihew drew out his watch and opened the case. It was a pretty face; more
than that, it was a refined prettiness. The eyes were merry, the brow was
intelligent,thenoseandchinweregood.Altogether,itwasthefaceofamerry,
kindlylittlesoul,onesuchaswouldbemostlikelytotrapthewanderingfancy
ofayoungmanlikeMerrihew.
"Andshewon'thaveyou,"Hillardrepeated,thistimewithmorecuriositythan
sympathy.
"Oh,she'snofool,Isuppose.HonestInjun,Jack,it'ssobadthatIfindmyself
writingpoetryonthebacksofenvelopes.Andnowshe'sgoingtoEurope!"
"London?"
"No.Somemanagerhastheideainhisheadthatthereismoneytobemadein


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