The masquerader

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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheMasquerader,byKatherineCecilThurston ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:TheMasquerader Author:KatherineCecilThurston ReleaseDate:April,2004[EBook#5422] LastUpdated:March16,2018 Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEMASQUERADER*** ProducedbyAnAnonymousVolunteerandDavidWidger THEMASQUERADER ByKatherineCecilThurston CONTENTS I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII XVIII XIX XX XXI XXII XXIII XXIV XXV XXVI XXVII XXVIII XXIX XXX XXXI XXXII XXXIII XXXIV I Two incidents, widely different in character yet bound together by results, marked the night of January the twenty-third On that night the blackest fog within a four years' memory fell upon certain portions of London, and also on thatnightcamethefirstannouncementoftheborderrisingsagainstthePersian government in the province of Khorasan the announcement that, speculated upon,evensmiledat,atthetime,assumedsuchsignificanceinthelightofafter events Ateighto'clockthenewsspreadthroughtheHouseofCommons;butatnine men in the inner lobbies were gossiping, not so much upon how far Russia, while ostensibly upholding the Shah, had pulled the strings by which the insurgents danced, as upon the manner in which the 'St George's Gazette', the Toryeveningnewspaper,hadseizedupontheincidentandshakenitinthefaces ofthegovernment Morethanoncebefore,Lakely—theownerandeditorofthe'St George's'— had stepped outside the decorous circle of tradition and taken a plunge into modernjournalism,butto-nightheessayeddeeperwatersthanbefore,andunder an almost sensational heading declared that in this apparently innocent border risingwehadlessanoutcomeofmereracialantagonismthanafirstfaintindex of a long-cherished Russian scheme, growing to a gradual maturity under the “drift”policyofthepresentBritishgovernment Theeffectproducedbythispronouncement,ifstrong,wasvaried Membersof the Opposition saw, or thought they saw, a reflection of it in the smiling unconcernontheMinisterialbenches;andthegovernmenthadanuneasysense thatbehindthenewlykindledinterestontheothersideoftheHouselaysome mysteriousscentingofbattlefromafaroff Butthoughtheseimpressionsranlike electricity through the atmosphere, nothing tangible marked their passage, and the ordinary business of the House proceeded until half-past eleven, when an adjournmentwasmoved The first man to hurry from his place was John Chilcote, member for East Wark He passed outoftheHousequickly,withthehalf-furtivequicknessthat marks a self-absorbed man; and as he passed the policeman standing stolidly underthearcheddoor-wayofthebigcourt-yardheswervedalittle,asifstartled outofhisthoughts Herealizedhisswervealmostbeforeitwasaccomplished, andpulledhimselftogetherwithnervousirritability “Foggynight,constables,”hesaid,withelaboratecarelessness “Foggynight,sir,andthickeningupwest,”respondedtheman “Ah, indeed!” Chilcote's answer was absent The constable's cheery voice jarredonhim,andforthesecondtimehewasconsciousofsenselessirritation Without a further glance at the man, he slipped out into the court-yard and turnedtowardsthemaingate Atthegate-waytwocablampsshowedthroughthemistofshiftingfoglike theeyesofagreatcat,andthefamiliar“Hansom,sir?”cametohimindistinctly Hepausedbyforceofcustom;and,steppingforward,hadalmosttouchedthe opendoorwhenanewimpulsecausedhimtodrawback “No,”hesaid,hurriedly “No I'llwalk.” The cabman muttered, lashed his horse, and with a clatter of hoofs and harnesswheeledaway;whileChilcote,stillwithuncertainhastiness,crossedthe roadinthedirectionofWhitehall About the Abbey the fog had partially lifted, and in the railed garden that faces the Houses of Parliament the statues were visible in a spectral way But Chilcote'sglancewasunstableandindifferent;heskirtedtherailingsheedlessly, and,crossingtheroadwiththespeedoflongfamiliarity,gainedWhitehallonthe lefthandside Therethefoghaddropped,and,lookingupwardtowardsTrafalgarSquare,it seemedthatthechainoflampsextendedlittlefartherthantheHorseGuards,and thatbeyondlaynothing Unconscious of this capricious alternation between darkness and light, Chilcotecontinuedhiscourse Toacloseobserverthemannerofhisgoinghad bothinterestandsuggestion;forthoughhewalkedon,apparentlyself-engrossed, yet at every dozen steps he started at some sound or some touch, like a man whosenervoussystemispainfullyoverstrung Maintaininghishaste,hewentdeliberatelyforward,obliviousofthefactthat at each step the curtain of darkness about him became closer, damper, more tangible; that at each second the passers-by jostled each other with greater frequency Then, abruptly, with a sudden realization of what had happened, he stoodquitestill Withoutanticipationorpreparationhehadwalkedfullintothe thicknessofthefog—athicknesssodensethat,asbyanenchanter'swand,the figures of a moment before melted, the street lamps were sucked up into the night Hisfirstfeelingwasasenseofpanicatthesuddenisolation,hissecondathrill ofnervousapprehensionattheoblivionthathadallowedhimtobesoentrapped Thesecondfeelingoutweighedthefirst Hemovedforward,thenpausedagain, uncertain of himself Finally, with the consciousness that inaction was unbearable,hemovedononcemore,hiseyeswideopen,onehandthrustoutas aprotectionandguide The fog had closed in behind him as heavily as in front, shutting off all possibilityofretreat;allabouthiminthedarknesswasaconfusionofvoices— cheerful, dubious, alarmed, or angry; now and then a sleeve brushed his or a hand touched him tentatively It was a strange moment, a moment of possibilities, to which the crunching wheels, the oaths and laughter from the blockedtrafficoftheroad-way,madeacontinuousaccompaniment Keepingwelltotheleft,Chilcotestillbeaton;therewasapersistenceinhis movementsthatalmostamountedtofear—afearbornofthesolitudefilledwith innumerable sounds For a space he groped about him without result, then his fingers touched the cold surface of a shuttered shop-front, and a thrill of reassurance passed through him With renewed haste, and clinging to his landmarkasablindmanmight,hestartedforwardwithfreshimpetus For a dozen paces he moved rapidly and unevenly, then the natural result occurred Hecollidedwithamancomingintheoppositedirection The shock was abrupt Both men swore simultaneously, then both laughed Thewholethingwascasual,butChilcotewasinthatstateofmindwheneven the commonplace becomes abnormal The other man's exclamation, the other man'slaugh,struckonhisnerves;comingoutofthedarkness,theysoundedlike arepetitionofhisown NineoutofeverytenmeninLondon,giventhesamesocialpositionandthe same education, might reasonably be expected to express annoyance or amusementinthesamemanner,possiblyinthesametoneofvoice;andChilcote rememberedthisalmostatthemomentofhisnervousjar “Beastly fog!” he said, aloud “I'm trying to find Grosvenor Square, but the chancesseemrathersmall.” The other laughed again, and again the laugh upset Chilcote He wondered uncomfortably if he was becoming a prey to illusions But the stranger spoke beforethequestionhadsolveditself “I'mafraidtheyaresmall,”hesaid “Itwouldbealmosthardtofindone'sway tothedevilonanightlikethis.” Chilcotemadeamurmurofamusementanddrewbackagainsttheshop “Yes Wecanseenowwheretheblindmanscoresinthematterofsalvation Thisisalmostarepetitionofthefogofsixyearsago Wereyououtinthat?” It was a habit of his to jump from one sentence to another, a habit that had grownoflate “No.”Thestrangerhadalsogropedhiswaytotheshopfront “No,Iwasout ofEnglandsixyearsago.” “You were lucky.” Chilcote turned up the collar of his coat “It was an atrociousfog,asblackasthis,butmoreuniversal Irememberitwell Itwasthe night Lexington made his great sugar speech Some of us were found on LambethBridgeatthreeinthemorning,havinglefttheHouseattwelve.” Chilcote seldom indulged in reminiscences, but this conversation with an unseen companion was more like a soliloquy than a dialogue He was almost surprisedintoanexclamationwhentheothercaughtuphiswords “Ah!Thesugarspeech!”hesaid “OddthatIshouldhavebeenlookingitup onlyyesterday Whatamagnificentdressing-upofadrysubjectitwas!Whata careerLexingtonpromisedinthosedays!” Chilcotechangedhisposition “You are interested in the muddle down at Westminster?” he asked, sarcastically “I—?” It was the turn of the stranger to draw back a step “Oh, I read my newspaper with the other five million, that is all I am an outsider.” His voice sounded curt; the warmth that admiration had brought into it a moment before hadfrozenabruptly “Anoutsider!”Chilcoterepeated “Whatanenviableword!” “Possibly, to those who are well inside the ring But let us go back to Lexington What a pinnacle the man reached, and what a drop he had! It has always seemed to me an extraordinary instance of the human leaven running through us all What was the real cause of his collapse?” he asked, suddenly “Wasitdrugsordrink?Ihaveoftenwishedtogetatthetruth.” AgainChilcotechangedhisattitude “Istrutheverworthgettingat?”heasked,irrelevantly “Inthecaseofapublicman—yes Heexchangeshisprivacyfortheinterestof themasses Ifhegivesthemassesthedetailsofhissuccess,whynotthedetails ofhisfailure?Butwasitdrinkthatsuckedhimunder?” “No.”Chilcote'sresponsecameafterapause “Drugs?” Again Chilcote hesitated And at the moment of his indecision a woman brushedpasthim,laughingboisterously Thesoundjarredhim “Wasitdrugs?”thestrangerwentoneasily “Ihavealwayshadatheorythatit was.” “Yes Itwasmorphia.”TheanswercamebeforeChilcotehadrealizedit The woman'slaughatthestranger'squietpersistencehadcontrivedtodrawitfrom him Instantlyhehadspokenhelookedabouthimquickly,likeonewhohasfor amomentforgottenanecessaryvigilance Therewassilencewhilethestrangerthoughtovertheinformationjustgiven him Thenhespokeagain,withanewtouchofvehemence “SoIimagined,”hesaid “Though,onmysoul,Ineverreallycreditedit To havegainedsomuch,andtohavethrownitawayforacommonvice!”Hemade anexclamationofdisgust Chilcotegaveanunsteadylaugh “Youjudgehardly.”hesaid Theotherrepeatedhissoundofcontempt “Justlyso Nomanhastherightto squanderwhatanotherwouldgivehissoulfor Itlessensthegeneralrespectfor power.” “You are a believer in power?” The tone was sarcastic, but the sarcasm soundedthin “Yes Allpoweristheoutcomeofindividuality,eitherpastorpresent Ifind nosentimentforthemanwhoplayswithit.” ThequietcontemptofthetonestungChilcote “Do you imagine that Lexington made no fight?” he asked, impulsively “Can't you picture the man's struggle while the vice that had been slave graduallybecamemaster?”Hestoppedtotakebreath,andinthecoldpausethat followeditseemedtohimthattheothermadeamurmurofincredulity “Perhapsyouthinkofmorphiaasapleasure?”headded “Thinkofit,instead, asatyrant—thattorturesthemindifheldto,andthebodyifcastoff.”Urgedby the darkness and the silence of his companion, the rein of his speech had loosened InthatmomenthewasnotChilcotethememberforEastWark,whose moods and silences were proverbial, but Chilcote the man whose mind craved thereliefofspeech “You talk as the world talks—out of ignorance and self-righteousness,” he wenton “BeforeyoucondemnLexingtonyoushouldputyourselfinhisplace —” “Asyoudo?”theotherlaughed Unsuspecting and inoffensive as the laugh was, it startled Chilcote With a suddenalarmhepulledhimselfup “I—?”Hetriedtoechothelaugh,buttheattemptfellflat “Oh,Imerelyspeak from—fromDeQuincey ButIbelievethisfogisshifting—Ireallybelieveitis shifting Canyouobligemewithalight?Ihadalmostforgottenthatamanmay still smoke though he has been deprived of sight.” He spoke fast and disjointedly He was overwhelmed by the idea that he had let himself go, and possessedbythewishtoobliteratetheconsequences Ashetalkedhefumbled; forhiscigarette-case Hisbeadwasbentashesearchedforitnervously Withoutlookingup,hewas consciousthatthecloudoffogthatheldhimprisonerwaslifting,rollingaway, closingbackagain,preparatorytofinaldisappearance Havingfoundthecase,he put a cigarette between his lips and raised his hand at the moment that the strangerdrewamatchacrosshisbox Forasecondeachstaredblanklyattheother'sface,suddenlymadevisibleby the lifting of the fog The match in the stranger's hand burned down till it scorchedhisfingers,and,feelingthepain,helaughedandletitdrop “Of all odd things!” he said Then he broke off The circumstance was too novelforordinaryremark By one of those rare occurrences, those chances that seem too wild for real life and yet belong to no other sphere, the two faces so strangely hidden and strangelyrevealedwereidentical,featureforfeature Itseemedtoeachmanthat helookednotatthefaceofanother,butathisownfacereflectedinaflawless looking-glass Of the two, the stranger was the first to regain self-possession Seeing Chilcote'sbewilderment,hecametohisrescuewithbrusquetactfulness “Thepositionisdecidedlyodd,”hesaid “Butafterall,whyshouldwebeso surprised? Nature can't be eternally original; she must dry up sometimes, and when she gets a good model why shouldn't she use it twice?” He drew back, surveyingChilcotewhimsically “But,pardonme,youarestillwaitingforthat light!” Chilcotestillheldthecigarettebetweenhislips Thepaperhadbecomedry, andhemoisteneditasheleanedtowardshiscompanion “Don'tmindme,”hesaid “I'mrather—ratherunstrungto-night,andthisthing gavemeajar Tobecandid,myimaginationtookheadinthefog,andIgotto overcautious or the horse was below the average, for they made but slow progressthroughthemorecrowdedstreets Tothetwosittinginsilencethepace was wellnigh unbearable With every added movement the tension grew The methodical care with which they moved seemed like the tightening of a string already strained to breaking-point, yet neither spoke—because neither had the couragenecessaryforwords OnceortwiceastheytraversedtheStrand,Lodermadeamovementasifto breakthesilence,butnothingfollowedit Hecontinuedtoleanforwardwitha certain dogged stiffness, his clasped hands resting on the doors of the cab, his eyesstaringstraightahead Notonce,astheythreadedtheirway,didhedareto glance at Eve, though every movement, every stir of her garments, was forced uponhisconsciousnessbyhisacutelyawakenedsenses WhenatlasttheydrewupbeforethedarkarchwayofMiddleTempleLane, hedescendedhastily AndashemechanicallyturnedtoprotectEve'sdressfrom thewheel,helookedatherfullyforthefirsttimesincetheirenterprisehadbeen undertaken Ashelookedhefelthisheartsink Hehadexpectedtoseethemarks of suffering on her face, but the expression he saw suggested something more thanmerementalpain Alltherichcolorthatusuallydeepenedandsoftenedthecharmofherbeauty hadbeenerasedasifbyalongillness;andagainstthenewpallorofherskinher blueeyes,herblackhairandeyebrows,seemedstartlinglydark Achillcolder than remorse, a chill that bordered upon actual fear, touched Loder in that moment Withthefirstimpulsivegesturehehadallowedhimself,hetouchedher arm “Eve—”hebegan,unsteadily;thentheworddiedoffhislips Without a sound, almost without a movement, she returned his glance, and somethinginhereyescheckedwhathemighthavesaid Inthatoneexpressive lookheunderstoodallshehaddesired,allshehadrenounced—thefullextentof theordealshehadconsentedto,andthemotivethathadcompelledherconsent Hedrewbackwiththeheavysensethatrepentanceandpitywereequallyfutile —equallyoutofplace Still in silence she stepped to the pavement and stood aside while Loder dismissedthecab Toboththerewassomethingsymbolic,somethingprophetic, in the dismissal Without intention and almost unconsciously they drew closer together as the horse turned, its hoofs clattering on the roadway, its harness jingling;and,stillwithoutrealization,theylookedafterthevehicleasitmoved awaydownthelong,shadowedthoroughfaretowardsthelightsandthecrowds thattheyhadleft Atlastinvoluntarilytheyturnedtowardseachother “Come!”Lodersaid,abruptly “It'sonlyacrosstheroad.” FleetStreetisgenerallyveryquiet,oncemidnightispassed;andEvehadno needofguidanceorprotectionastheycrossedthepavement,shininglikeicein the lamplight They crossed it slowly, walking apart; for the dread of physical contactthathadpossessedtheminthecabseemedtohavefallenonthemagain Inquisitiveness has little place in the region of the city, and they gained the opposite footpath unnoticed by the casual passer-by Then, still holding apart, theyreachedandenteredClifford'sInn Insidetheentrancetheypaused,andEveshiveredinvoluntarily “Howgrayit is!”shesaid,faintly “Andhowcold!Likeagraveyard.” Loderturnedtoher Faronemomentcontrolseemedshaken;hisbloodsurged, hisvisionclouded;thesensethatlifeandlovewerestillwithinhisreachfilled himoverwhelmingly HeturnedtowardsEve;hehalfextendedhishands Then, stirredbywhatimpulse,movedbywhatinstinct,itwasimpossibletosay,helet themdroptohissidesagain “Come!”hesaid “Come!Thisistheway Keepclosetome Putyourhandon myarm.” Hespokequietly,buthis eyeswereresolutelyaverted fromherfaceasthey crossedthedim,silentcourt Enteringthegloomydoor-waythatledtohisownrooms,hefeltherfingers tremble on his arm, then tighten in their pressure as the bare passage and cheerlessstairsmetherview;buthesethislips “Come!”herepeated,inthesamestrainedvoice “Come!Itisn'tfar—threeor fourflights.” Withawhitefaceandacuriousexpressioninhereyes,Evemovedforward She had released Loder's arm as they crossed the hall; and now, reaching the stairs,sheputoutherhandgropinglyandcaughtthebanister Shehadapained, numb sense of submission—of suffering that had sunk to apathy Moving forwardwithoutresistance,shebegantomountthestairs The ascent was made in silence Loder went first, his shoulders braced, his head held erect; Eve, mechanically watchful of all his movements, followed a steportwobehind Withwearymonotonyoneflightofstairssucceededanother; each, to her unaccustomed eyes, seeming more colorless, more solitary, more desolatethantheprecedingone Thenatlast,withasinkingsenseofapprehension,sherealizedthattheirgoal wasreached The knowledge broke sharply through her dulled senses; and, confronted by theclosenessofherordeal,shepaused,herheadlifted,herhandstillnervously graspingthebanister Herlipspartedasifinsuddendemandforaid;butinthe nervousexpectation,thepainedapprehension,ofthemomentnosoundescaped them Loder,resolutelycrossingthelanding,knewnothingofthesilentappeal Forasecondshestoodhesitating;thenherownweakness,herownshrinking dismay,weresubmergedintheinterestofhismovements Slowlymountingthe remainingsteps,shefollowedhimasiffascinatedtowardsthedoorthatshowed dingilyconspicuousinthelightofanunshadedgas-jet Almostatthemomentthatshereachedhissideheextendedhishandtowards the door The action was decisive and hurried, as though he feared to trust himself For a space he fumbled with the lock And Eve, standing close behind him, heardthehandlecreakandturnunderhispressure Thenheshookthedoor At last, slowly, almost reluctantly, he turned round “I'm afraid things aren't quitequiteright,”hesaid,inalowvoice “ThedoorislockedandIcanseeno light.” Sheraisedhereyesquickly “Butyouhaveakey?”shewhispered “Haven't you got a key?” It was obvious that, to both, the unexpected check to their designswasfraughtwithdanger “Yes, but—” He looked towards the door “Yes—I have a key Yes, you're right!”headded,quickly “I'lluseit Wait,whileIgoinside.” Filledwithanewnervousness,oppressedbytheloneliness,thesilenceabout her, Eve drew back obediently The sense of mystery conveyed by the closed door weighed upon her Her susceptibilities were tensely alert as she watched Loder search for his key and insert it in the lock With mingled dread and curiosity she saw the door yield, and gape open like a black gash in the dingy wall;andwithasuddensenseofdesertionshesawhimpassthroughtheaperture andheardhimstrikeamatch The wait that followed seemed extraordinarily long Listening intently, she heard him move softly from one room to the other And at last, to her acutely nervous susceptibilities, it seemed that he paused in absolute silence In the intensityoflistening,sheheardherownfaint,irregularbreathing,andthesound filledherwithpanic Thequiet,thesolitude,thevague,instinctiveapprehension, becamesuddenlyunendurable Thenallatoncethetensionwasrelieved Loder reappeared Hepausedforasecondintheshadowydoor-way;thenheturnedunsteadily, drewthedoorto,andlocked;it Evesteppedforward Herglimpseofhimhadbeenmomentary—andshehad not heard his voice—yet the consciousness of his bearing filled her with instinctive alarm Abruptly, and without reason, their hands turned cold, her heartbegantobeatviolently “John—”shesaidbelowherbreath Foranswer,hemovedtowardsher Hisfacewasbereftofcolor;therewasa lookofconsternationinhiseyes “Come!”hesaid “Comeatonce!Imusttake youhome.”Hespokeinashaken,unevenvoice Eve,lookingupathim,caughthishand “Why?Why?”shequestioned Her tonewaslowandscared Without replying, he drew her imperatively towards the stairs “Go very softly,”hecommanded “Noonemustseeyouhere.” Inthefirstmoment sheobeyedhiminstinctively; then,reachingtheheadof the stairs, she stopped With one hand still clasping his, the other clinging nervously to the banister, she refused to descend “John,” she whispered, “I'm notachild Whatisit?Whathashappened?Imustknow.” ForamomentLoderlookedatheruncertainly;then,readingtheexpressionin hereyes,heyieldedtoherdemand “He'sdead,”hesaid,inaverylowvoice “Chilcoteisdead.” XXXIV Tofullyappreciateagreatannouncementwemusthavetimeatourdisposal At the moment of Loder's disclosure time was denied to Eve; for scarcely had the words left his lips before the thought that dominated him asserted its prior claim Blindtotheincredulityinhereyes,hedrewherswiftlyforward,and— halfimpelling,halfsupportingher—forcedhertodescendthestairs Neverinafter-lifecouldheobliteratetheremembranceofthatdescent Fear, such as he could never experience in his own concerns, possessed him One desireoverrodeallothers—thedesirethatEve'sreputation,whichhehimselfhad so nearly imperilled, should remain unimperilled In the shadow of that urgent duty,thedespairofthepasthours,theappallingfactsolatelyrealized,thefuture withitspossibletrials,becamedarktohisimagination Inhisnewvictoryover self,thequestionofherprotectionpredominated Moving under this compulsion, he guided her hastily and silently down the desertedstairs,drawingabreathofdeepreliefas,oneafteranother,thelandings weresuccessivelypassed;andstillactuatedbythesuppressedneedofhaste,he passed through the door-way that they had entered under such different conditionsonlyafewminutesbefore Toleavethequietcourt,togaintheStrand,tohailabelatedhansomwasthe work of a moment By an odd contrivance of circumstance, the luck that had attendedeveryphaseofhisduallifewasagainexertedinhisbehalf Noonehad noticed their entry into Clifford's Inn; no one was moved to curiosity by their exit Withaninvoluntarythrilloffeelinghegaveexpressiontohisrelief “ThankGod,it'sover!”hesaid,asacabdrewup “Youdon'tknowwhatthe strainhasbeen.” Moving as if in a dream, Eve stepped into the cab As yet the terrible denouementtotheirenterprisehadmadenoclearimpressionuponhermind For the moment all that she was conscious of, all that she instinctively acknowledged,wasthefactthatLoderwasstillbesideher Inquietobedienceshetookherplace,drawingasideherskirtstomakeroom for him; and in the same subdued manner, he stepped into the vehicle Then, withthestrangesensationofrelivingtheirearlierdrive,theywereawareofthe tightenedreinandofthehorse'sfirstforwardmovement For several seconds neither spoke Eve, shutting out all other thoughts, sat close to Loder, clinging tenaciously to the momentary comforting sense of protection; Loder, striving to marshal his ideas, hesitated before the ordeal of speech Atlast,realizinghisresponsibility,heturnedtoherslowly “Eve,”hesaid,inalowvoiceandwithsomehesitation,“Iwantyoutoknow thatinallthis—fromthemomentIsawhim—fromthemomentIunderstood—I havehadyouinmythoughts—youandnooneelse.” Sheraisedhereyestohisface “Do you realize—?” he began afresh “Do you know what this—this thing means?” Stillsheremainedsilent “Itmeansthatafterto-nighttherewillbenosuchpersoninLondonasJohn Loder To-morrow the man who was known by that name will be found in his rooms;hisbodywillberemoved,andatthepost-modernexaminationitwillbe statedthathediedofanoverdoseofmorphia Hischarwomanwillidentifyhim asasolitarymanwholivedrespectablyforyearsandthensuddenlywentdownhillwithremarkablespeed Itwillbequiteacommoncase Nothingofinterest willbefoundinhisrooms;norelationwillclaimhisbody;aftertheusualtime hewillbegiventheusualburialofhisclass Thesedetailsarehorrible;butthere are times when we must look at the horrible side of life—because life is incompletewithoutit “ThesethingsIspeakofarethethingsthatwillmeetthecasualeye;butinour sighttheywillhaveaverydifferentmeaning “Eve,”hesaid,morevehemently,“awholechapterinmylifehasbeenclosed to-night, and my first instinct is to shut the book and throw it away But I'm thinking of you Remember, I'm thinking of you! Whatever the trial, whatever thedifficulty,noharmshallcometoyou Youhavemywordforthat! “I'll return with you now to Grosvenor Square; I'll remain there till a reasonableexcusecanbegivenforChilcote'sgoingabroad;IwillavoidFraide,I willcutpolitics—whateverthecost;then,atthefirstreasonablemoment,Iwill dowhatIwoulddonow,to-nightifitwerepossible I'llgoaway,startafresh;do inanothercountrywhatIhavedoneinthis.” There was a long silence; then Eve turned to him The apathy of a moment before had left her face “In another country?” she repeated “In another country?” “Yes;afreshcareerinafreshcountry Somethingcleantoofferyou I'mnot toooldtodowhatothermenhavedone.” He paused, and for a moment Eve looked ahead at the gleaming chain of lamps;then,stillveryslowly,shebroughtherglancebackagain “No,”shesaid veryslowly “Youarenottooold Buttherearetimeswhenage—andthingslike age—are not the real consideration It seems to me that your own inclination, yourownindividualsenseofrightandwrong,hasnothingtodowiththepresent moment Thequestioniswhetheryouarejustifiedingoingaway”—shepaused, hereyesfixedsteadilyuponhis—“whetheryouarefreetogoaway,andmakea newlife—whetheritiseverjustifiabletofollowaphantomlightwhen—when there'salanternwaitingtobecarried.”Herbreathcaught;shedrewawayfrom him,frightenedandelatedbyherownwords Loderturnedtohersharply “Eve!”heexclaimed;thenhistonechanged “You don'tknowwhatyou'resaying,”headded,quickly;“youdon'tunderstandwhat you'resaying.” Eve leaned forward again “Yes,” she said, slowly, “I understand.” Her voice was controlled, her manner convinced She was no longer the girl conquered by strength greater than her own: she was the woman strenuously demandingherrighttoindividualhappiness “I understand it all,” she repeated “I understand every point It was not Chance that made you change your identity, that made you care for me, that brought about—his death I don't believe it was Chance; I believe it was somethingmuchhigher Youarenotmeanttogoaway!” As Loder watched her the remembrance of his first days as Chilcote rose again; the remembrance of how he had been dimly filled with the belief that belowherself-possessionlayastrength—adepth—uncommoninwoman Ashe studied her now, the instinctive belief flamed into conviction “Eve!” he said involuntarily Withaquickgesturesheraisedherhead “No!”sheexclaimed “No;don'tsay anything!YouaregoingtoseethingsasIseethem—youmustdoso—youhave nochoice Norealmanevercastsawaythesubstancefortheshadow!”Hereyes shone—thecolor,theglow,thevitality,rushedbackintoherface “John,”shesaid,softly,“Iloveyou—andIneedyou—butthereissomething withagreaterclaim—agreaterneedthanmine Don'tyouknowwhatitis?” Hesaidnothing;hemadenogesture “It is the party—the country You may put love aside, but duty is different Youhavepledgedyourself Youarenotmeanttodrawback.” Loder'slipsparted “Don't!”shesaidagain “Don'tsayanything!Iknowallthatisinyourmind But,whenwesiftthingsrightthrough,itisn'tmylove—orourhappiness—that's reallyinthebalance Itisyourfuture!” Hervoicethrilled “Youaregoingtobeagreatman,andagreatmanisthe propertyofhiscountry Hehasnorighttoindividualaction.” AgainLodermadeanefforttospeak,butagainshecheckedhim “Wait!”sheexclaimed “Wait!Youbelieveyouhaveactedwrongly,andyou aredesperatelyafraidofactingwronglyagain Butisitreallytruer,moreloyal forustoworkoutalongprobationingroovesthatarealreadyoverfilledthanto marry quietly abroad and fill the places that have need of us? That is the questionIwantyoutoanswer Isitreallytruerandnobler?Oh,Iseethedoubt thatisinyourmind!Youthinkitfinertogoawayandmakeanewlifethanto livethelifethatiswaitingyou—becauseoneisindependentandtheothermeans theuseofanotherman'snameandanotherman'smoney—thatisthethoughtin your mind But what is it that prompts that thought?” Again her voice caught, but her eyes did not falter “I will tell you It is not self-sacrifice—but pride!” Shesaidthewordfearlessly AflushcrossedLoder'sface “Amanrequirespride,”hesaidinalowvoice “Yes,attherighttime Butisthistherighttime?Isiteverrighttothrowaway thesubstancefortheshadow?YousaythatIdon'tunderstand—don'trealize I realizemoreto-nightthanIhaverealizedinallmylife Iknowthatyouhavean opportunitythatcannevercomeagain—andthatit'sterriblypossibletoletitslip —” Shepaused Loder,hishandsrestingonthecloseddoorsofthecab,satvery silent,withavertedeyesandbenthead “Onlyto-night,”shewenton,“youtoldmethateverythingwascryingtoyou totaketheeasy,pleasantway Thenitwasstrongtoturnaside;butnowitisnot strong Itisfarnoblertofillanemptynichethantocarveoneforyourself John —”Shesuddenlyleanedforward,layingherhandsoverhis “Mr Fraidetoldme to-nightthatinhisnewministrymy—myhusbandwastobeUnderSecretaryfor ForeignAffairs!” Thewordsfellsoftly SosoftlythattoearslesscomprehendingthanLoder's their significance might have been lost—as his rigid attitude and unresponsive manner might have conveyed lack of understanding to any eyes less observant thanEve's For a long space there was no word spoken At last, with a very gentle pressure,herfingerstightenedoverhishands “John—”shebegan,gently Buttheworddiedaway Shedrewbackintoher seat,asthecabstoppedbeforeChilcote'shouse Simultaneously as they descended, the hall door was opened and a flood of warmlightpouredoutreassuringlyintothedarkness “I thought it was your cab, sir,” Crapham explained deferentially as they passed into the hall “Mr Fraide has been waiting to see you this half-hour I showedhimintothestudy.”Heclosedthedoor;softlyandretired Then, in the warm light, amid the gravely dignified surroundings that had markedhisfirstentryintothishazardoussecondexistence,EveturnedtoLoder fortheverdictuponwhichthefuturehung As she turned, his face was still hidden from her, and his attitude betrayed nothing “John,” she said, slowly, “you know why he is here.' You know that he has come to personally offer you this place; to personally receive your refusal—or consent.” Sheceasedtospeak;therewasamomentofsuspense;thenLoderturned His facewasstillpaleandgravewiththegravityofamanwhohasbutrecentlybeen closetodeath,butbeneaththegravitywasanotherlook—theoldexpressionof strengthandself-reliance,tempered,raised,anddignifiedbyanewhumility Movingforward,heheldouthishands “Myconsentorrefusal,”hesaid,veryquietly,“lieswith—mywife.” EndofProjectGutenberg'sTheMasquerader,byKatherineCecilThurston ***ENDOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEMASQUERADER*** *****Thisfileshouldbenamed5422-h.htmor5422-h.zip***** Thisandallassociatedfilesofvariousformatswillbefoundin: http://www.gutenberg.org/5/4/2/5422/ ProducedbyAnAnonymousVolunteerandDavidWidger Updatededitionswillreplacethepreviousone theoldeditions willberenamed Creatingtheworksfrompublicdomainprinteditionsmeansthatno oneownsaUnitedStatescopyrightintheseworks,sotheFoundation 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Withanefforthepulledouthisnotesandsmoothedthem nervously;butthoughhisgazewasfixedon the pages,notalineofBlessington's clearwritingreachedhismind Heglancedat the faceof the Speaker,thenat the faceson the TreasuryBench,thenoncemoreheleanedbackinhisseat... the uneven pavement and the worn railing that hemmed themround In the landingoutside the roomshisnameappearedabovehisdoor, but the painthadbeensoiledbytime,and the lettersfor the mostpartreducedto
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