On Sunday afternoon Alexander
remembered Miss Burgoyne's invitation
and called at her apartment.
He found it a delightful little
place and he met charming people
there. Hilda lived alone, attended
by a very pretty and competent
French servant who answered the
door and brought in the tea.
Alexander arrived early, and
some twenty-odd people dropped
in during the course of the afternoon.
Hugh MacConnell came with his
sister, and stood about, managing
his tea-cup awkwardly and watching
every one out of his deep-set,
faded eyes. He seemed to have
made a resolute effort at tidiness
of attire, and his sister, a
robust, florid woman with a splendid
joviality about her, kept eyeing
his freshly creased clothes apprehensively.
It was not very long, indeed,
before his coat hung with a discouraged
sag from his gaunt shoulders
and his hair and beard were rumpled
as if he had been out in a gale.
His dry humor went under a cloud
of absent-minded kindliness which,
Mainhall explained, always overtook
him here. He was never so witty
or so sharp here as elsewhere,
and Alexander thought he behaved
as if he were an elderly relative
come in to a young girl's party.
of a monthly review came with
his wife, and Lady
Kildare, the Irish philanthropist,
brought her young nephew, Robert
Owen, who had come up from Oxford,
and who was visibly excited and
gratified by his first introduction
to Miss Burgoyne. Hilda was very
nice to him, and he sat on the
edge of his chair, flushed with
his conversational efforts and
moving his chin about nervously
over his high collar. Sarah Frost,
the novelist, came with her husband,
a very genial and placid old
scholar who had become slightly
deranged upon the subject of
the fourth dimension. On other
matters he was perfectly rational
and he was easy and pleasing
in conversation. He looked very
much like Agassiz, and his wife,
in her old-fashioned black silk
dress, overskirted and tight-sleeved,
reminded Alexander of the early
pictures of Mrs. Browning. Hilda
seemed particularly fond of this
quaint couple, and Bartley himself
was so pleased with their mild
and thoughtful converse that
he took his leave when they did,
and walked with them over to
Oxford Street, where they waited
for their 'bus. They asked him
to come to see them in Chelsea,
and they spoke very tenderly
of Hilda. "She's a dear, unworldly
little thing," said the philosopher
absently; "more like the stage
people of my young days-- folk
ofsimple manners. There aren't
many such left. American tours
have spoiled them, I'm afraid.
They have all grown very smart.
Lamb wouldn't care a great deal
about many of them, I fancy."
Alexander went back to Bedford
Square a second Sunday afternoon.
He had a long talk with MacConnell,
but he got no word with Hilda
alone, and he left in a discontented
state of mind. For the rest of
the week he was nervous and unsettled,
and kept rushing his work as
if he were preparing for immediate
departure. On Thursday afternoon
he cut short a committee meeting,
jumped into a hansom, and drove
to Bedford Square. He sent up
his card, but it came back to
him with a message scribbled
across the front.
So sorry I can't see you. Will
you come and dine with me Sunday
evening at half-past seven?
When Bartley arrived at Bedford
Square on Sunday evening, Marie,
the pretty little French girl,
met him at the door and conducted
him upstairs. Hilda was writing
in her living-room, under the
light of a tall desk lamp. Bartley
recognized the primrose satin
gown she had worn that first
evening at Lady Walford's.
"I'm so pleased that you think
me worth that yellow dress, you
know," he said, taking her hand
and looking her over admiringly
from the toes of her canary slippers
to her smoothly parted brown
hair. "Yes, it's very, very pretty.
Every one at Lady Walford's was
looking at it."
Hilda curtsied. "Is
that why you think it pretty?
need for fine clothes in Mac's
play this time, so I can afford
a few duddies for myself. It's
owing to that same chance, by
the way, that I am able to ask
you to dinner. I don't need Marie
to dress me this season, so she
keeps house for me, and my little
Galway girl has gone home for
a visit. I should never have
asked you if Molly had been here,
for I remember you don't like
Alexander walked about the
room, looking at everything.
had a chance yet to tell you
what a jolly little
place I think this is. Where
did you get those etchings? They're
quite unusual, aren't they?"
sent them to me from Rome last
She is very much interested in
the American artist who did them.
They are all sketches made about
the Villa d'Este, you see. He
painted that group of cypresses
for the Salon, and it was bought
for the Luxembourg."
over to the bookcases. "It's
the air of the whole place
here that I like.
You haven't got anything that
doesn't belong. Seems to me it
looks particularly well to-night.
And you have so many flowers.
I like these little yellow irises."
look better by lamplight --in
London, at least.
Though Marie is clean --really
clean, as the French are. Why
do you look at the flowers so
critically? Marie got them all
fresh in Covent Garden market
"I'm glad," said Alexander
simply. "I can't tell you how
glad I am to have you so pretty
and comfortable here, and to
hear every one saying such nice
things about you. You've got
awfully nice friends," he added
humbly, picking up a little jade
elephant from her desk. "Those
fellows are all very loyal, even
Mainhall. They don't talk of
any one else as they do of you."
Hilda sat down
on the couch and said seriously: "I've
a neat little sum in the bank,
now, and I own a mite of a hut
in Galway. It's not worth much,
but I love it. I've managed to
save something every year, and
that with helping my three sisters
now and then, and tiding poor
Cousin Mike over bad seasons.
He's that gifted, you know, but
he will drink and loses more
good engagements than other fellows
ever get. And I've traveled a
Marie opened the door and smilingly
announced that dinner was served.
"My dining-room," Hilda explained,
as she led the way, "is the tiniest
place you have ever seen."
It was a tiny room, hung all
round with French prints, above
which ran a shelf full of china.
Hilda saw Alexander look up at
"It's not particularly rare," she
said, "but some of it was my
mother's. Heaven knows how she
managed to keep it whole, through
all our wanderings, or in what
baskets and bundles and theatre
trunks it hasn't been stowed
away. We always had our tea out
of those blue cups when I was
a little girl, sometimes in the
queerest lodgings, and sometimes
on a trunk at the theatre--queer
theatres, for that matter."
It was a wonderful little dinner.
There was watercress soup, and
sole, and a delightful omelette
stuffed with mushrooms and truffles,
and two small rare ducklings,
and artichokes, and a dry yellow
Rhone wine of which Bartley had
always been very fond. He drank
it appreciatively and remarked
that there was still no other
he liked so well.
"I have some
champagne for you, too. I don't
drink it myself,
but I like to see it behave when
it's poured. There is nothing
else that looks so jolly."
"Thank you. But I don't like
it so well as this." Bartley
held the yellow wine against
the light and squinted into it
as he turned the glass slowly
about. "You have traveled, you
say. Have you been in Paris much
these late years?"
one of the candle-shades carefully. "Oh,
yes, I go over to Paris often.
There are few
changes in the old Quarter. Dear
old Madame Anger is dead--but
perhaps you don't remember her?"
"Don't I, though!
I'm so sorry to hear it. How
did her son turn
out? I remember how she saved
and scraped for him, and how
he always lay abed till ten o'clock.
He was the laziest fellow at
the Beaux Arts; and that's saying
a good deal."
"Well, he is
still clever and lazy. They
say he is a good architect
when he will work. He's a big,
handsome creature, and he hates
Americans as much as ever. But
Angel--do you remember Angel?"
Did she ever get back to Brittany
and her bains
"Ah, no. Poor
Angel! She got tired of cooking
the coppers in Madame Anger's
little kitchen, so she ran away
with a soldier, and then with
another soldier. Too bad! She
still lives about the Quarter,
and, though there is always a
soldat, she has become a blanchisseuse
de fin. She did my blouses beautifully
the last time I was there, and
was so delighted to see me again.
I gave her all my old clothes,
even my old hats, though she
always wears her Breton headdress.
Her hair is still like flax,
and her blue eyes are just like
a baby's, and she has the same
three freckles on her little
nose, and talks about going back
to her bains de mer."
at Hilda across the yellow
light of the candles
and broke into a low, happy laugh. "How
jolly it was being young, Hilda!
Do you remember that first walk
we took together in Paris? We
walked down to the Place Saint-Michel
to buy some lilacs. Do you remember
how sweet they smelled?"
"Indeed I do.
Come, we'll have our coffee
in the other room,
and you can smoke."
Hilda rose quickly, as if she
wished to change the drift of
their talk, but Bartley found
it pleasant to continue it.
"What a warm, soft spring evening
that was," he went on, as they
sat down in the study with the
coffee on a little table between
them; "and the sky, over the
bridges, was just the color of
the lilacs. We walked on down
by the river, didn't we?"
Hilda laughed and looked at
him questioningly. He saw a gleam
in her eyes that he remembered
even better than the episode
he was recalling.
"I think we did," she answered
demurely. "It was on the Quai
we met that woman who was crying
so bitterly. I gave her a spray
of lilac, I remember, and you
gave her a franc. I was frightened
at your prodigality."
"I expect it was the last franc
I had. What a strong brown face
she had, and very tragic. She
looked at us with such despair
and longing, out from under her
black shawl. What she wanted
from us was neither our flowers
nor our francs, but just our
youth. I remember it touched
me so. I would have given her
some of mine off my back, if
I could. I had enough and to
spare then," Bartley mused, and
looked thoughtfully at his cigar.
They were both
remembering what the woman
had said when
she took the money: "God give
you a happy love!" It was not
in the ingratiating tone of the
habitual beggar: it had come
out of the depths of the poor
creature's sorrow, vibrating
with pity for their youth and
despair at the terribleness of
human life; it had the anguish
of a voice of prophecy. Until
she spoke, Bartley had not realized
that he was in love. The strange
woman, and her passionate sentence
that rang out so sharply, had
frightened them both. They went
home sadly with the lilacs, back
to the Rue Saint-Jacques, walking
very slowly, arm in arm. When
they reached the house where
Hilda lodged, Bartley went across
the court with her, and up the
dark old stairs to the third
landing; and there he had kissed
her for the first time. He had
shut his eyes to give him the
courage, he remembered, and she
had trembled so--
when Hilda rang the little
bell beside her. "Dear
me, why did you do that? I had
quite forgotten--I was back there.
It was very jolly," he murmured
lazily, as Marie came in to take
away the coffee.
and went over to the piano. "Well,
we are neither of us twenty
now, you know. Have
I told you about my new play?
Mac is writing one; really for
me this time. You see, I'm coming
nothing else. What kind of
a part is it? Shall you
wear yellow gowns? I hope so."
He was looking at her round
slender figure, as she stood
by the piano, turning over a
pile of music, and he felt the
energy in every line of it.
"No, it isn't
a dress-up part. He doesn't
seem to fancy me in
fine feathers. He says I ought
to be minding the pigs at home,
and I suppose I ought. But he's
given me some good Irish songs.
She sat down at the piano and
sang. When she finished, Alexander
shook himself out of a reverie.
Harp That Once,' Hilda. You
used to sing it so
Of course I can't really sing,
except the way my
mother and grandmother did before
me. Most actresses nowadays learn
to sing properly, so I tried
a master; but he confused me,
Alexander laughed. "All
the same, sing it, Hilda."
up from the stool and moved
restlessly toward the
window. "It's really too warm
in this room to sing. Don't you
over and opened the window
for her. "Aren't you
afraid to let the wind low like
that on your neck? Can't I get
a scarf or something?"
"Ask a theatre lady if she's
afraid of drafts!" Hilda laughed. "But
perhaps, as I'm so warm-- give
me your handkerchief. There,
just in front." He slipped the
corners carefully under her shoulder-straps. "There,
that will do. It looks like a
bib." She pushed his hand away
quickly and stood looking out
into the deserted square. "Isn't
London a tomb on Sunday night?"
the agitation in her voice.
He stood a little
behind her, and tried to steady
himself as he said: "It's soft
and misty. See how white the
For a long time neither Hilda
nor Bartley spoke. They stood
close together, looking out into
the wan, watery sky, breathing
always more quickly and lightly,
and it seemed as if all the clocks
in the world had stopped. Suddenly
he moved the clenched hand he
held behind him and dropped it
violently at his side. He felt
a tremor run through the slender
yellow figure in front of him.
his handkerchief from her throat
and thrust it
at him without turning round. "Here,
take it. You must go now, Bartley.
over her shoulder, without
touching her, and whispered
in her ear: "You are giving me
it and go. This isn't fair,
you know. Good-night."
Alexander unclenched the two
hands at his sides. With one
he threw down the window and
with the other--still standing
behind her--he drew her back
a little cry, threw her arms
over her head, and drew
his face down to hers. "Are you
going to let me love you a little,
Bartley?" she whispered.