The butler made an instinctive movement to detain him, but he
flung him aside and entered the drawing-room, the servant
recovering his equilibrium and following on a run. Light from great
crystal chandeliers dazzled him for a moment; the butler again
confronted him but hesitated under the wicked glare from his eyes.
Then through the brilliant vista, the young fellow caught a glimpse
of a dining-room, a table where silver and crystal glimmered, and a
great gray man just lowering a glass of wine from his lips to gaze
at him with quiet curiosity.
The next moment he traversed the carpeted interval between them
and halted at the table's damask edge, gazing intently across at
the solitary diner, who sat leaning back in an arm-chair, heavy
right hand still resting on the stem of a claret glass, a cigar
suspended between the fingers of his left hand.
"Are you Colonel Arran?"
"I am," replied the man at the table coolly. "Who the devil are
"By God," replied the other with an insolent laugh, "that's what
I came here to find out!"
The man at the table laid both hands on the edge of the cloth
and partly rose from his chair, then fell back solidly, in silence,
but his intent gaze never left the other's bloodless face.
"Send away your servants, Colonel Arran!" said the young man in
a voice now labouring under restraint. "We'll settle this matter
The other made as though to speak twice; then, with an effort,
he motioned to the butler.
What he meant by the gesture perhaps he himself scarcely
realised at the moment.
The butler instantly signalled to Pim, the servant behind
Colonel Arran's chair, and started forward with a furtive glance at
his master; and the young man turned disdainfully to confront
"Will you retire peaceably, sir?"
"No, but you will retire permanently if you touch me. Be very
Colonel Arran leaned forward, hands still gripping the table's
"You may go."
The small gray eyes in the pock-pitted face stole toward young
Berkley, then were cautiously lowered.
"Very well, sir," he said.
"Close the drawing-room doors. No—this way. Go out through the
pantry. And take Pim with you."
"Very well, sir."
"When I want you I'll ring. Until then I don't want anybody or
anything. Is that understood?"
"That is all."
"Thank you, sir."
The great mahogany folding doors slid smoothly together, closing
out the brilliant drawing-room; the door of the butler's pantry
Colonel Arran slowly wheeled in his place and surveyed his
"Well, sir," he said, "continue."
"I haven't yet begun."
"You are mistaken, Berkley; you have made a very significant
beginning. I was told that you are this kind of a young man."
"I am this kind of a young man. What else have you been
Colonel Arran inspected him through partly closed and heavy
eyes; "I am further informed," he said, that at twenty-four you
have already managed to attain bankruptcy."
"Perfectly correct. What other items have you collected
"You can retrace your own peregrinations if you care to. I
believe they follow a vicious circle bisecting the semi-fashionable
world, and the—other. Shall we say that the expression, unenviable
notoriety, summarises the reputation you have acquired?"
"Exactly," he said; "both kinds of vice, Colonel
Arran—respectable and disreputable."
"Oh! And am I correct in concluding that, at this hour, you
stand there a financially ruined man—at twenty-four years of
"I do stand here; but I'm going to sit down."
He did so, dropped both elbows on the cloth, and balancing his
chin on the knuckles of his clasped hands, examined the older man
with insolent, unchanging gaze.
"Go on," he said coolly, "what else do you conclude me to
"What else is there to say to you, Berkley? You have evidently
seen my attorneys."
"I have; the fat shyster and the bow-legged one." He reached
over, poured himself a glass of brandy from a decanter, then, with
an unpleasant laugh, set it aside untasted.
"I beg your pardon. I've had a hard day of it. I'm not myself,"
he said with an insolent shrug of excuse. "At eleven o'clock this
morning Illinois Central had fallen three more points, and I had no
further interest in the market. Then one of your brokers—" He
leaned farther forward on the table and stared brightly at the
older man, showing an edge of even teeth, under the receding upper
"How long have your people been watching me?"
"Long enough to give me what information I required."
"Then you really have had me watched?"
"I have chosen to keep in touch with your—career, Berkley."
Berkley's upper lip again twitched unpleasantly; but, when at
length he spoke, he spoke more calmly than before and his mobile
features were in pallid repose.
"One of your brokers—Cone—stopped me. I was too confused to
understand what he wanted of me. I went with him to your
attorneys—" Like lightning the snarl twitched his mouth again; he
made as though to rise, and controlled himself in the act.
"Where are the originals of those letters?" he managed to say at
"In this house."
"Am I to have them?"
"I think so."
"So do I," said the young man with a ghastly smile. "I'm quite
sure of it."
Colonel Arran regarded him in surprise.
"There is no occasion for violence in this house, Berkley."
"Where are the letters?"
"Have you any doubts concerning what my attorneys have told you?
The originals are at your immediate disposal if you wish."
Then Berkley struck the table fiercely, and stood up, as claret
splashed and trembling crystal rang.
"That's all I want of you!" he said. "Do you understand
what you've done? You've killed the last shred of self-respect in
me! Do you think I'd take anything at your hands? I never
cared for anybody in the world except my mother. If what your
lawyers tell me is true—" His voice choked; he stood swaying a
moment, face covered by his hands,
The young man's hands fell; he faced the other, who had risen to
his heavy six-foot height, confronting him across the table.
"Berkley, whatever claim you have on me—and I'm ignoring the
chance that you have none——"
"By God, I tell you I have none! I want none! What you have done
to her you have done to me! What you and your conscience and your
cruelty and your attorneys did to her twenty-four years ago, you
have done this day to me! As surely as you outlawed her, so have
you outlawed me to-day. That is what I now am, an outlaw!"
"It was insulted civilisation that punished, not I,
"It was you! You took your shrinking pound of flesh. I know your
sort. Hell is full of them singing psalms!"
Colonel Arran sat silently stern a moment. Then the congested
muscles, habituated to control, relaxed again. He said, under
"You'd better know the truth. It is too late now to discuss
whose fault it was that the trouble arose between your mother and
me. We lived together only a few weeks. She was in love with her
cousin; she didn't realise it until she'd married me. I have
nothing more to say on that score; she tried to be faithful, I
believe she was; but he was a scoundrel. And she ended by thinking
"Even before I married her I was made painfully aware that our
dispositions and temperaments were not entirely compatible. I
think," he added grimly, "that in the letters read to you this
afternoon she used the expression, 'ice and fire,' in referring to
herself and me."
Berkley only looked at him.
"There is now nothing to be gained in reviewing that unhappy
affair," continued the other. "Your mother's family are headlong,
impulsive, fiery, unstable, emotional. There was a last shameful
and degrading scene. I offered her a separation; but she was
unwisely persuaded to sue for divorce."
Colonel Arran bent his head and touched his long gray moustache
with bony fingers.
"The proceeding was farcical; the decree a fraud. I warned her;
but she snapped her fingers at me and married her cousin the next
day… . And then I did my duty by civilisation."
Still Berkley never stirred. The older man looked down at the
wine-soiled cloth, traced the outline of the crimson stain with
unsteady finger. Then, lifting his head:
"I had that infamous decree set aside," he said grimly. "It was
a matter of duty and of conscience, and I did it without remorse… .
They were on what they supposed to be a wedding trip. But I had
warned her." He shrugged his massive shoulders. "If they were not
over-particular they were probably happy. Then he broke his neck
hunting—before you were born."
"Was he my father?"
"I am taking the chance that he was not."
"You had reason to believe——"
"I thought so. But—your mother remained silent. And her answer
to my letters was to have you christened under the name you bear
to-day, Philip Ormond Berkley. And then, to force matters, I made
her status clear to her. Maybe—I don't know—but my punishment of
her may have driven her to a hatred of me—a desperation that
accepted everything—even you!"
Berkley lifted a countenance from which every vestige of colour
"Why did you tell me this?"
"Because I believe that there is every chance—that you may be
legally entitled to my name. Since I have known who you are, I—I
have had you watched. I have hesitated—a long while. My
brokers have watched you for a year, now; my attorneys for much
longer. To-day you stand in need of me, if ever you have stood in
need of anybody. I take the chance that you have that claim on me;
I offer to receive you, provide for you. That is all, Berkley. Now
you know everything."
"Knows what you did to my mother?"
"Some people among the families immediately concerned," replied
Colonel Arran coolly.
"Who are they?"
"Your mother's relatives, the Paiges, the Berkleys—my family,
the Arrans, the Lents——"
"What Lents?" interrupted the young man looking up sharply.
"They live in Brooklyn. There's a brother and a sister, orphans;
and an uncle. Captain Josiah Lent."
"Oh… . Who else?"
"A Mrs. Craig who lives in Brooklyn. She was Celia Paige, your
mother's maid of honour."
"A sister-in-law of Mrs. Craig, formerly my ward. She is now a
widow, a Mrs. Paige, living on London Terrace. She, however, has no
knowledge of the matter in question; nor have the Lents, nor any
one in the Craig family except Mrs. Craig."
"I see… . And, as I understand it, you are now stepping forward
to offer me—on the chance of—of——"
"I offer you a place in this house as my son. I offer to deal
with you as a father—accepting that belief and every
responsibility, and every duty, and every sacrifice that such a
For a long time the young fellow stood there without stirring,
pallid, his dark, expressionless eyes, fixed on space. And after a
while he spoke.
"Colonel Arran, I had rather than all the happiness on earth,
that you had left me the memory of my mother. You have chosen not
to do so. And now, do you think I am likely to exchange what she
and I really are, for anything more respectable that you believe
you can offer?
"How, under God, you could have punished her as you did—how you
could have reconciled your conscience to the invocation of a brutal
law which rehabilitated you at the expense of the woman who had
been your wife—how you could have done this in the name of duty and
of conscience, I can not comprehend.
"I do not believe that one drop of your blood runs in my
He bent forward, laying his hands flat on the cloth, then
gripping it fiercely in clenched fists:
"All I want of you is what was my mother's. I bear the name she
gave me; it pleased her to bestow it; it is good enough for me to
wear. If it be hers only, or if it was also my father's, I do not
know; but that name, legitimate or otherwise, is not for exchange!
I will keep it, Colonel Arran. I am what I am."
He hesitated, rigid, clenching and unclenching his hands—then
drew a deep, agonised breath:
"I suppose you have meant to be just to me, I wish you might
have dealt more mercifully with my mother. As for what you have
done to me—well—if she was illegally my mother, I had rather be her
illegitimate son than the son of any woman who ever lived within
the law. Now may I have her letters?"
"Is that your decision, Berkley?"
"It is. I want only her letters from you—and any little
keepsakes—relics—if there be any——"
"I offer to recognise you as my son."
"I decline—believing that you mean to be just—and perhaps
kind—God knows what you do mean by disinterring the dead for a son
to look back upon——"
"Could I have offered you what I offer, otherwise?"
"Man! Man! You have nothing to offer me! Your
silence was the only kindness you could have done me! You have
killed something in me. I don't know what, yet—but I think it was
the best part of me."
"Berkley, do you suppose that I have entered upon this matter
Berkley laughed, showing his teeth. "No. It was your damned
conscience; and I suppose you couldn't strangle it. I am sorry you
couldn't. Sometimes a strangled conscience makes men kinder."
Colonel Arran rang. A dark flush had overspread his forehead; he
turned to the butler.
"Bring me the despatch box which stands on: my study table."
Berkley, hands behind his back, was pacing the dining-room
"Would you accept a glass of wine?" asked Colonel Arran in a low
Berkley wheeled on him with a terrible smile.
"Shall a man drink wine with the slayer of souls?" Then, pallid
face horribly distorted, he stretched out a shaking arm. "Not that
you ever could succeed in getting near enough to murder
hers! But you've killed mine. I know now what died in me.
It was that! … And I know now, as I stand here excommunicated
by you from all who have been born within the law, that there is
not left alive in me one ideal, one noble impulse, one spiritual
conviction. I am what your righteousness has made me—a man without
hope; a man with nothing alive in him except the physical brute… .
Better not arouse that."
"You do not know what you are saying, Berkley"—Colonel Arran
choked; turned gray; then a spasm twitched his features and he
grasped the arms of his chair, staring at Berkley with burning
Neither spoke again until Larraway entered, carrying an inlaid
"Thank you, Larraway. You need not wait."
"Thank you, sir."
When they were again alone Colonel Arran unlocked and opened the
box, and, behind the raised lid, remained invisibly busy for some
little time, apparently sorting and re-sorting the hidden contents.
He was so very long about it that Berkley stirred at last in his
chair; and at the same moment the older man seemed to arrive at an
abrupt decision, for he closed the lid and laid two packages on the
cloth between them.
"Are these mine?" asked Berkley.
"They are mine," corrected the other quietly, "but I choose to
yield them to you."
"Thank you," said Berkley. There was a hint of ferocity in his
voice. He took the letters, turned around to look for his hat,
found it, and straightened up with a long, deep intake of
"I think there is nothing more to be said between us, Colonel
"That lies with you."
Berkley passed a steady hand across his eyes. "Then, sir, there
remain the ceremonies of my leave taking—" he stepped closer,
level-eyed—"and my very bitter hatred."
There was a pause. Colonel Arran waited a moment, then struck
"Larraway, Mr. Berkley has decided to go."
"You will accompany Mr. Berkley to the door."
"And hand to Mr. Berkley the outer key of this house."
"And in case Mr. Berkley ever again desires to enter this house,
he is to be admitted, and his orders are to be obeyed by every
servant in it."
Colonel Arran rose trembling. He and Berkley looked at each
other; then both bowed; and the butler ushered out the younger
"Pardon—the latch-key, sir."
Berkley took it, examined it, handed it back.
"Return it to Colonel Arran with Mr. Berkley's
undying—compliments," he said, and went blindly out into the April
night, but his senses were swimming as though he were drunk.
Behind him the door of the house of Arran clanged.
Larraway stood stealthily peering through the side-lights; then
tiptoed toward the hallway and entered the dining-room with velvet
"Port or brandy, sir?" he whispered at Colonel Arran's
The Colonel shook his head.
"Nothing more. Take that box to my study."
Later, seated at his study table before the open box, he heard
Larraway knock; and he quietly laid away the miniature of Berkley's
mother which had been lying in his steady palm for hours.
"Pardon. Mr. Berkley's key, with Mr. Berkley's compliments,
sir." And he laid it upon the table by the box.
"Thank you. That will be all."
"Thank you, sir. Good night, sir."
The Colonel picked up the evening paper and opened it
"By telegraph!" he read, "War inevitable. Postscript! Fort
Sumter! It is now certain that the Government has decided to
reinforce Major Andersen's command at all hazards——"
The lines in the Evening Post blurred under his eyes;
he passed one broad, bony hand across them, straightened his
shoulders, and, setting the unlighted cigar firmly between his
teeth, composed himself to read. But after a few minutes he had
read enough. He dropped deeper into his arm-chair, groping for the
miniature of Berkley's mother.
As for Berkley, he was at last alone with his letters and his
keepsakes, in the lodgings which he inhabited—and now would inhabit
no more. The letters lay still unopened before him on his writing
table; he stood looking at the miniatures and photographs, all
portraits of his mother, from girlhood onward.
One by one he took them up, examined them—touched them to his
lips, laid each away. The letters he also laid away unopened; he
could not bear to read them now.
The French clock in his bedroom struck eight. He closed and
locked his desk, stood looking at it blankly for a moment; then he
squared his shoulders. An envelope lay open on the desk beside
"Oh—yes," he said aloud, but scarcely heard his own voice.
The envelope enclosed an invitation from one, Camilla Lent, to a
theatre party for that evening, and a dance afterward.
He had a vague idea that he had accepted.
The play was "The Seven Sisters" at Laura, Keene's Theatre. The
dance was somewhere—probably at Delmonico's. If he were going, it
was time he was afoot.
His eyes wandered from one familiar object to another; he moved
restlessly, and began to roam through the richly furnished rooms.
But to Berkley nothing in the world seemed familiar any longer; and
the strangeness of it, and the solitude were stupefying him.
When he became tired trying to think, he made the tour again in
a stupid sort of way, then rang for his servant, Burgess, and
started mechanically about his dressing.
Nothing any longer seemed real, not even pain.
He rang for Burgess again, but the fellow did not appear. So he
dressed without aid. And at last he was ready; and went out, drunk
with fatigue and the reaction from pain.
He did not afterward remember how he came to the theatre.
Presently he found himself in a lower tier box, talking to a Mrs.
Paige who, curiously, miraculously, resembled the girlish portraits
of his mother—or he imagined so—until he noticed that her hair was
yellow and her eyes blue. And he laughed crazily to himself,
inwardly convulsed; and then his own voice sounded again, low,
humorous, caressingly modulated; and he listened to it, amused that
he was able to speak at all.
"And so you are the wonderful Ailsa Paige," he heard himself
repeating. "Camilla wrote me that I must beware of my peace of mind
the moment I first set eyes on you——"
"Camilla Lent is supremely silly, Mr. Berkley——"
"Camilla is a sibyl. This night my peace of mind departed for
"May I offer you a little of mine?"
"I may ask more than that of you?"
"You mean a dance?"
"More than one."
"All of them. How many will you give me?"
"One. Please look at the stage. Isn't Laura Keene
"Your voice is."
"Such nonsense. Besides, I'd rather hear what Laura Keene is
saying than listen to you."
"Do you mean it?"
"Incredible as it may sound, Mr. Berkley, I really do."
He dropped back in the box. Camilla laid her painted fan across
"Isn't Ailsa Paige the most enchanting creature you ever saw? I
told you so! Isn't she?"
"Except one. I was looking at some pictures of her a half an
"She must be very beautiful," sighed Camilla.
"Oh… . Is she dead?"
Camilla looked at the stage in horrified silence. Later she
touched him again on the arm, timidly.
"Are you not well, Mr. Berkley?"
"You are so pale. Do look at Ailsa Paige. I am completely
enamoured of her. Did you ever see such a lovely creature in all
your life? And she is very young but very wise. She knows useful
and charitable things—like nursing the sick, and dressing injuries,
and her own hats. And she actually served a whole year in the
horrible city hospital! Wasn't it brave of her!"
Berkley swayed forward to look at Ailsa Paige. He began to be
tormented again by the feverish idea that she resembled the girl
pictures of his mother. Nor could he rid himself of the fantastic
impression. In the growing unreality of it all, in the distorted
outlines of a world gone topsy-turvy, amid the deadly blurr of
things material and mental, Ailsa Paige's face alone remained
strangely clear. And, scarcely knowing what he was saying, he
leaned forward to her shoulder again.
"There was only one other like you," he said. Mrs. Paige turned
slowly and looked at him, but the quiet rebuke in her eyes remained
"Be more genuine with me," she said gently. "I am worth it, Mr.
Then, suddenly there seemed to run a pale flash through his
"Yes," he said in an altered voice, "you are worth it… . Don't
drive me away from you just yet."
"Drive you away?" in soft concern. "I did not mean——"
"You will, some day. But don't do it to-night." Then the quick,
feverish smile broke out.
"Do you need a servant? I'm out of a place. I can either cook,
clean silver, open the door, wash sidewalks, or wait on the table;
so you see I have every qualification."
Smilingly perplexed, she let her eyes rest on his pallid face
for a moment, then turned toward the stage again.
The "Seven Sisters" pursued its spectacular course; Ione Burke,
Polly Marshall, and Mrs. Vining were in the cast; tableau succeeded
tableau; "I wish I were in Dixie," was sung, and the popular
burlesque ended in the celebrated scene, "The Birth of the
Butterfly in the Bower of Ferns," with the entire company kissing
their finger-tips to a vociferous and satiated audience.
Then it was supper at Delmonico's, and a dance—and at last the
waltz promised him by Ailsa Paige.
Through the fixed unreality of things he saw her clearly,
standing, awaiting him, saw her sensitive face as she quietly laid
her hand on his—saw it suddenly alter as the light contact startled
Flushed, she looked up at him like a hurt child, conscious yet
only of the surprise.
Dazed, he stared back. Neither spoke; his arm encircled her;
both seemed aware of that; then only of the swaying rhythm of the
dance, and of joined hands, and her waist imprisoned. Only the
fragrance of her hair seemed real to him; and the long lashes
resting on curved cheeks, and the youth of her yielding to his
Neither spoke when it had ended. She turned aside and stood
motionless a moment, resting against the stair rail as though to
steady herself. Her small head was lowered.
He managed to say: "You will give me the next?"
"Then the next——"
"No," she said, not moving.
A young fellow came up eagerly, cocksure of her, but she shook
her head—and shook her head to all—and Berkley remained standing
beside her. And at last her reluctant head turned slowly, and,
slowly, her gaze searched his.
"Shall we rest?" he said.
"Yes. I am—tired."
Her dainty avalanche of skirts filled the stairs as she settled
there in silence; he at her feet, turned sideways so that he could
look up into the brooding, absent eyes.
And over them again—over the small space just then allotted them
in the world—was settling once more the intangible, indefinable
spell awakened by their first light contact. Through its silence
hurried their pulses; through its significance her dazed young eyes
looked out into a haze where nothing stirred except a phantom
heart, beating, beating the reveille. And the spell lay heavy on
"I shall bear your image always. You know it."
She seemed scarcely to have heard him.
"There is no reason in what I say. I know it. Yet—I am destined
never to forget you."
She made no sign.
"Ailsa Paige," he said mechanically.
And after a long while, slowly, she looked down at him where he
sat at her feet, his dark eyes fixed on space.