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Author of “Children of the 
Whirlwind” “Daughter of Two 
Worlds” “No. 13 Washington 
Square“Counsel for the De¬ 
fens e/ J etc. 

U ndoubtedly the most im¬ 
portant of Mr. Scott’s works. In 
Cordelia he studies a high type of 
the modern society girl, one who eventually 
sickens of society’s false standards. 

They called her Cordelia, the Magnifi¬ 
cent,—because she was the acknowledged 
leader of New York’s younger set—be¬ 
cause girls, as well as men, followed her 
—because with her vivid beauty and domi¬ 
nating personality she was used to sweep¬ 
ing all before her. “Finished” at New 
York’s most fashionable school, she was 
prepared to do everything—except earn 
her own living. When that necessity 
arose she was completely nonplussed. Un¬ 
expectedly, however, she received an ex¬ 
traordinary offer that made it possible for 
her to live on in her brilliant circle, where 
she enjoyed greater and greater conquests. 
But she was unconsciously paying a higher 
price for her position than she realized, so 
that one day with a terrific crash her life 
fell shattered around her. From this crisis 
there finally emerged a very different Cor¬ 
delia, a girl with a new set of values. 



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Cordelia’s Triumph Was Complete 






Copyright, 1923 


Printed March, 1923 

Printed in 

United States of America 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2019 with funding from 
Brigham Young University 




Cordelia Faces a Problem 





The Making of Cordelia . 



How It Paid to Advertise . 


2 J 


Fortune’s Other Face . . 

4 S 


Rolling Meadows . . . 

5 a 


Shadows of Secrets . . . 

59 ' 


The Reward of Vigilance . 



Near the Heart of Mystery 




Cordelia’s Place in the Sun 




Mitchell is Investigated . 



Cordelia Seeks a Way . 



How Cordelia Learned the Truth 



A Romance of Regret . 



A Ride with Mitchell . 



Cordelia Makes Her Report 



How Jerry Was Protected . 



i 74 


Readjusted Plans 



How Experts Do It . . . 




XIX. Golden Days.204 

XX. The Mystery of Mitchell . . . . 213 

XXI. A Compact and a Warning . . . 226 

XXII. In Which the Expected Happens . 242 

XXIII. Cordelia the Magnificent . . . 252 

XXIV. How Mitchell Apologized to Himself 263 

XXV. The Wedding Day. 275 

XXVI. Franklin Conducts His Trial . . 291 

XXVII. How a Great Dream Turned Out . 309 

XXVIII. How Francois Lost One Mother . . 320 

XXIX. All the King's Horses. 325 

XXX. Cordelia Rebuilds Her House . . . 338 

XXXI. Mitchell Says His Say .... 359 

XXXII. Mitchell Says Some More . . . 376 

XXXIII. The Magnificence Cordelia Found . 386 

XXXIV. Addenda.. . 392 




The four young women at the table in their secluded cor¬ 
ner, all about twenty-two or twenty-three, made a group such 
as any illustrated Sunday supplement of a New York paper 
would have been exultantly proud to have starred in the 
every center of its page of society beauties. Small wonder, 
then, that the people at the other tables in the big restaurant 
of the Grantham Hotel stole glances at these four favorites 
of fortune, pointed them out to friends less well informed 
and gave gossipy facts in eager, subdued whispers. 

They had known each other all their lives had these four, 
said the gossipy whispers; had gone to the same school; had 
been debutantes in the same season; had always done every¬ 
thing together. That one there, the vivid, sparkling beauty 
with glinting, reddish-brown hair and with that pleasant, 
confident smile which showed that she was equal to anything 
—that was Miss Cordelia Marlowe, best known of the four, 
the most striking figure in society’s youngest set. Didn’t 
she really look everything that people and the papers said 
of her?—didn’t she look that name which had somehow fas¬ 
tened itself to her, “Cordelia the Magnificent?” Just look 
at her! Didn’t she ? 

The others? That spirited brunette across from her was 
Mrs. Jacqueline Thorndike, whose smart wedding two years 
before to Murray Thorndike was still being talked about. 
And that vivacious little blonde was Mrs. Ailine Harkness, 




whose husband was that Peter Harkness who was just now 
making a sensational splurge down in Wall Street. And 
that proud-looking girl—if she were arrogant, wouldn’t any 
girl be so in her position?—was Miss Gladys Norworth, an 
orphan these many years, and in her own right the richest 
girl of the group, and one of the richest heiresses in Amer¬ 

But the one to look at was Miss Marlowe. Wasn’t she a 
beauty? And just looking at her, couldn’t you just see why 
she was so popular ?—so undeniably a leader in her own bril¬ 
liant set? . . . 

Cordelia sensed very well the substance of what these 
tables were whispering about her. She was accustomed to 
being admired, to being talked about; not only by a mixed 
crowd such as filled the Grantham, but by her own great 
world. Though the good-humored smile of her oft-pictured 
face did not change under this present admiration, the face 
of her mind puckered into a wry, twisted smile at the irony 
of the situation. How very differently these people—and 
all the people who knew her or knew of her—would talk 
when they learned all the facts! 

That morning, when the thing was fresh upon her, Cor¬ 
delia’s dazed impulse had been all for breaking this luncheon 
engagement; Jackie, Gladys and Ailine, even though they 
had long looked upon her as their leader, could easily have 
handled all matters relating to the fifth reunion of the class 
of T6 of fashionable Harcourt Hall. But Cordelia had 
wanted to see Jackie, her room-mate at school and closest 
friend during the years since then, and tell Jackie confiden¬ 
tially the stupefying, the unbelievable thing that had just be¬ 
fallen her. And being here—such was her control of her¬ 
self—she was outwardly the charming, humorous, pleasantly 
confident Cordelia her friends had always known. 



All through the luncheon the four girls—nicknamed in 
their first year at Harcourt the “Faithful Four”—had chat¬ 
tered about this and that, interrupting each other with the 
license of old friends. But it was not until after the finger- 
bowls were before them that they really settled to the busi¬ 
ness that had brought them together. 

“Of course the biggest thing we’ve got to do is to pick 
the chairman for the class reunion,” said Jackie Thorndike. 
“We know the person we want, and the person the whole 
class will want. Cordie Marlowe. And she’s practically 
promised to serve. We’re all agreed on that—yes?” 

■ “Of course,” said pretty Ailine Harkness. “The class 
would be sore at us if we dared pick any one else.” 

“Cordie, of course,” agreed Gladys Norworth. 

“Then that’s all settled,” declared the brisk Jackie. “And 
since that’s about all the real business we have—” 

“I’m afraid it’s not settled,” drawlingly interrupted Cor¬ 
delia. “I suppose I should have told you before, but I 
didn’t know the thing myself much before this. The fact 
is, I’m not going to be at the reunion.” 

“Not be there!” the three chorused in dismay. Then 
Jackie demanded: “What’s the matter, Cordie? Why 
not ?” 

Cordelia’s good-humored, ready smile did not change— 
except that there was now a provoking hint of mystery in it. 

“I’ve suddenly changed all my plans,” she answered. 

“Changed your plans!” cried Ailine. “How ?” 

“I’m not telling just now,” said Cordelia still smiling. 
“You’ll all know all about my plans in a few days. Wait 
till then.” 

“You must have something big on!” breathed Jacqueline. 

They did not question her further; they knew from old 
that there was no use quizzing Cordelia when she had an- 



nounced she would give no answers. But they sensed mys¬ 
tery here—perhaps romance—certainly something big, as 
Jackie had said—certainly a surprise. Cordelia read what 
was passing in their minds, and again she smiled her wry 
inner smile. They would be surprised, all right—but what 
a different surprise from anything they might be imagining! 

“But I say, Cordie,” Gladys Norworth burst out in sud¬ 
den concern, “you promised to come out to my place right 
after the class reunion and stay for the summer! Your 
new plan isn’t going to interfere with that?” 

“I’m sorry, Gladys. But I’ll have to call that visit off 

“But, Cordie, when I’d planned—! What is it, anyhow, 
that you’re up to ?” 

Cordelia was still smiling. “It’s just as I said, Gladys. 
I can’t say any more just now—and you’ll know everything 
in a few days.” 

There was a moment of surprised silence on the part of 
Jackie and Ailine. Gladys having asked Cordelia out to 
Rolling Meadows, and Cordelia having accepted! Here was 
something else to wonder about! 

There was no further questioning of the smiling, enigmati¬ 
cal Cordelia about her altered plans; and the business of the 
committee of the fifth reunion of the class of ’16 of Har- 
court Hall went on and was quickly finished. The matter of 
the chairman was settled by the insistence that Cordelia ac¬ 
cept the nominal chairmanship, with Jackie as vice-chairman 
who would be prepared to assume all duties in case Cordelia 
really could not appear. Gladys and Ailine then departed 
on shopping expeditions, and at last Cordelia had her wish 
of being alone with Jackie. 

“You’ve certainly sprung a lot of surprises on us, Cordie, 
old dear,” began Jackie. “You needn’t tell me a thing you 



don’t want to—particularly about your changed plans. But 
Gladys asking you to come out to that big place of hers, that 
was certainly a jolt! Why, since she came back from 
France two years ago with her step-sister and that French 
war orphan the two of them adopted, Gladys hasn’t had a 
soul out to see her!” 

“That’s exactly why she asked me,” returned Cordelia. 
“I don’t know all Gladys’ reasons, of course. She said her 
keeping to herself so much since she came back from France 
was the effect on her of her two or three years of war work 
in the hospital of that Countess de Crecy.” 

“So that’s it! The way she’s herded to herself and be¬ 
haved generally has had me guessing—had all of us guess¬ 

“Gladys said she now believed that her keeping out of 
things had been bad for her, and from now on she was go¬ 
ing to entertain a lot. She put it up to me as a favor, and 
said she wanted me out at Rolling Meadows to help put life 
into things.” 

“She certainly could not have asked any one who could 
do the thing better!” declared Jackie. “At keeping a lot of 
guests in proper spirits, you’re a world-beater; you’re what 
might be called social insurance, Cordie. And certainly 
Gladys needs some one, with that awful temper of hers and 
her conceit—both likely to burst out any time. But her 
picking you, Cordie!—with her always having been jealous 
of you, and especially just now with the two of you— I 
guess I don’t have to say that, Cordie.” 

“I suppose you’re referring to Jerry Plimpton?” 

“Jerry Plimpton, yes.” 

“I spoke straight out to Gladys about that when we were 
all out at your place last . week. We’d had a bit of a row, 
and she’d flared up about Jerry. Just as nice as I could I 



told her there was no sense in our fighting about Jerry 
Plimpton. I said I wasn’t saying that I liked Jerry or that 
she liked Jerry; and if Jerry liked either of us, that was 
pretty much his own affair and I guessed he’d make up his 
mind to suit himself. And I told her that if he made up 
his mind that he liked her, and if she liked him, I’d be right 
there saying 'God bless you, my children.’ I went on and 
said a lot more things, all along the same line.” 

"How did Gladys take it?” 

"You know how Gladys is. When she has a good im¬ 
pulse, it’s as swift as her temper. She broke down. Said 
she’d always resented me, because people liked me; that’s 
why she’s been so nasty. Said she had lots of acquaintances 
—but no girl friends—not a real girl friend—and how she 
did need a girl friend she could depend on. It all sounded 
mighty sincere. That was when she asked me to come and 
stay with her.” 

"Perhaps Gladys was sincere—for that moment!” said 
Jackie skeptically. "But even so, she was unconsciously 
thinking of little Gladys. And if she wants a real girl 
friend, one that she can depend on, how about that step¬ 
sister of hers ? The little I’ve seen of Esther Stevens, she’s 
always seemed to me a mighty decent sort—and the two 
used to be getting along together well enough for them to go 
to Paris the month after Gladys graduated to work in the 
hospital of that Countess de Crecy.” 

"I said much the same to Gladys. Her explanation wa9 
that there was too much difference in their ages for them to 
be real friends.” 

"I don’t believe her! Gladys is twenty-two or twenty- 
three, and her step-sister is only five or six years older. 
There’s some other reason—I’ll lay you a little bet on that. 
And as for you, Gordie—she’s asked you out because she 



thought she could use you. And I’ll bet it all has some¬ 
thing to do with Jerry Plimpton!” 

Cordelia still wore her smile. “Whatever Gladys’ real 
reasons may have been for asking me, I guess they don’t 
make much difference at present since I’m not going out to 
visit her.” 

Suddenly Jackie’s hand slipped across the table-cloth and 
gripped Cordelia’s wrist. “Speaking of Jerry Plimpton!’* 
she breathed. “There—coming out of the grill-room!” 

Cordelia slightly turned her head. Jerry Plimpton’s 
course lay past their table, but as yet he had not seen them. 
He was twenty-nine or thirty, tall, well-built, with high-bred, 
handsome features, easy confidence in his every movement: 
altogether an outstanding figure in any company. Since the 
death ten years earlier of his mother, who had admittedly 
been the social empress of New York City, there had been 
no more important question to ambitious mothers with 
queenly daughters than whom Jerry would select as his con¬ 
sort, to try to fill, in her younger way, the place untenanted 
in society since his mother’s death—and likewise fill the great 
house on upper Fifth Avenue, the Newport house and the 
other Plimpton places. 

Jerry sighted them, and bore down upon their table with 
an eager smile. The greeting was that of old friends. 

“If I didn’t have a confounded business engagement with 
my lawyer,” he grumbled pleasantly, “I’d invite myself to 
sit with you for a while.” 

“If you did, I’d have to tell you you couldn’t stay,” re¬ 
turned Cordelia, “for I’m having, right now, a confounded 
business engagement with Jackie.” 

His gaze fixed on Cordelia. “That sounds to me like an 
order to hurry along. All right, Cordelia. But I’ll be see¬ 
ing you to-night out at the Grastons ?” 



“I'm sorry, Jerry, but I won’t be able to make it. I was 
going to ’phone you.” 

She had promised him several dances for that night, and 
his face showed keen disappointment. 

‘‘Well—if you can’t, you can’t. Then I’m not to see you 
till that little party we’ve arranged for Friday night?” 

“I’ll not be able to make that either, Jerry. I’ve just 
changed all my plans.” 

“Changed your plans!” he exclaimed. In what way ? 

She regarded him with her same easy, unperturbed smile. 
“I can’t tell you just yet, Jerry. But you’ll know all in a 
few days.” 

Puzzled, Jerry went on his way. 

“You should have seen how the people in here were look¬ 
ing at you and Jerry while you were talking,” whispered 
Jackie. “All of them, including me, were saying just one 
thing: ‘What a stunning couple they’ll make!’ I’m back¬ 
ing you with all I’ve got against Gladys.” 

“And I, if I had anything to bet,” returned Cordelia, 
“would put it all on Gladys.” 

Jackie stared at this. “I wish those few days you men¬ 
tioned were over, so I could know what all this business is 

“You won’t have to wait, Jackie. My chief reason for 
coming here to-day was to get the chance to tell you at once 
what it’s all about.” 

Despite the privacy of their comer table, Jackie leaned 
far across and gazed breathlessly at her old room-mate. 

“Yes?” she whispered. 

“You must promise not to repeat a word of what I tell, 
until it all becomes public.” 

“You can count on my promise, Cordie.” 

“Here goes then. First of all, so you’ll understand the 



full meaning of the thing, I’d better remind you how poor 
we are. These last ten years, since father’s death, mother 
has had a mighty hard time to keep things going with Lily 
and me on her hands, and only a little over thirty thousand 
a year to do it all on. As for that, I guess things weren’t a 
lot better when my father was alive, or even in my grand¬ 
father’s day. We Marlowes never did have much money.” 

“Everybody knows you haven’t much money, Cordie. 
That doesn’t make any difference with such a family as the 
Marlowes. It’s enough for us all that you’re just Cordelia 
Marlowe! There’s not another girl who has your standing 
—your popularity—who gets the invitations you do!” 

Cordelia smiled wryly, half humorously. “Perhaps 
you’ve never guessed it, Jackie, but my popularity has been 
part of my capital, those invitations a large part of my in¬ 
come. A week-end party, a yachting party, a guest at this 
house for a week, at that house for a month; I’m always 
booked up. I’m a successful guest, and I work hard at be¬ 
ing a guest; that’s been my business.” 

“Don’t talk like that, Cordie! Every one’s always tickled 
to get you!” 

“I suppose they have been. At least, I’ve tried to please. 
But if I hadn’t taken my living expenses off mother’s hands 
in this way, I don’t see how mother could have managed at 
all these last five years. So much for that. Now to come 
to the present situation. Here it is all at once, Jackie. 
We’re wiped out, Jackie—utterly finished!” 

“Finished?” echoed Jackie. “In what way?” 

“In every way.” 

“You mean especially—especially money?” 

“If we haven’t any money at all—well, I guess money in¬ 
cludes everything, doesn’t it?” 

“Cordie! . . . How did it happen?” 



“No use bothering you with many details. It’s a com¬ 
mon story, anyhow; I’ll bet that never before did so many 
families go on the rocks as in this awful year of Our Lord 
1921. I didn’t know anything about our mess till last night; 
then mother and I had a long session, and she told me some 
things she’d been keeping from me. With the high prices 
since the War she found it harder and harder to live on our 
income. Result, she kept drawing on her capital by selling 
off bonds. Result of this was that the income from her re¬ 
maining bonds was so inadequate as to make her feel they 
were hardly worth keeping. She saw only one chance. 
Desperate, she decided to sell the bonds and speculate. 
Mother picked out oil, and—everything’s gone.” 

“Everything, Cordie?” 

“Everything except a twenty-five-hundred-dollar annuity 
from one of my father’s life-insurance policies. Mother 
said she’d tried to borrow; but nobody, not even old friends,! 
would loan in such hard times without the best security, and 
of course we haven’t that.” j 

“I’ll loan you money, Cordie!” 

“Thanks! You’re a dear, Jackie! If it were a small f 
amount, I’d take you up. But nothing less than thirty thou¬ 
sand, and thirty thousand every year, would be worth while., 

I wouldn’t take that much from you, even if you could spare 
it.” : | 

“Cordie—Cordie—what will it mean?” j j 

“Isn’t that pretty plain? As my mother put it last night, 
Tt means that the Mariowes, one of the best families for.: 
generations, must necessarily sink out of their world into ! 
poverty and dingy obscurity.’ I’m sorriest for Lily; she’^ 
only fifteen and was to have entered Harcourt Hall in Sep-^ ] 
tember; but now Lily will never have a chance. As for my-! j 
self—well, now you see why I can’t be chairman of our class 


% I £1 




reunion—why I’m not going out to Gladys Norworth’s— 
why I’d back Gladys against myself so far as Jerry Plimp¬ 
ton is concerned. I’m out of my old world, out of your 
world, out of their world—out of it forever.” 

“Cordie!” breathed the dazed Jackie. “Cordie! . . . 
My God!” 

Cordie still tried to smile into Jackie’s staring face. But 
none the less she was feeling something of the poignant dis¬ 
may that had pierced her and dazed her when her mother 
had broken the news of the family disaster. She knew no 
other world except this into which she had been born; she 
loved it; and now she had lost it! She had indeed been a 
social star; and now all that glory was lost! She liked 
Jerry; subconsciously all her important plans had been bas¬ 
ing themselves upon the growing possibility of being Mrs. 
Jerry Plimpton and of having the splendid position that 
would belong to his wife; and now she was out of his world, 
their paths would never cross—now all that was lost! 

“I guess you realize now what it means, Jackie,” Cordelia 
said mechanically. Then she added: “The only reason for 
keeping the thing secret is my mother’s wish. She feels the 
disgrace, and is crazy to avoid it. Mother said that since 
the rent for our apartment is paid in advance until the first of 
July, it will be cheaper for us to live on there than any place 
else. She hopes there may be some kind of a chance that 
something may still turn up, and if something does then the 
world need never know what’s happened. She wants to 
keep the thing quiet, on that chance.” 

Jackie nodded. “But you, Cordie!—what are you going 
to do?” 

“I’ve thought it all out, and the only thing is for me to go 
to work.” 

“Work!” Jackie was scarcely less horrified and sym- 



pathetic than at Cordelia’s original announcement. “Cor¬ 
delia Marlowe—go to work!” 

And then Jackie’s face lit up. “It might not be so bad 
after all, Cordie. It’s something new—it might be an awful 
lark! What’re you going to do?” 

“That’s what I’ve been wondering about—though I’ve not 
yet had time to do any real thinking.” 

“I’ll tell you what,” Jackie cried inspiredly. “Let’s have 
a look at the want columns of a newspaper. They tell me 
one can find everything in these want ads.” 

For the moment the vivacious Jackie had forgotten the 
seriousness of the situation and was seeing the affair as an 
exciting adventure into an unknown country. So when the 
waiter set down Cordelia’s iced tea and her own horse’s-neck, 
she ordered him to bring in a newspaper. Jackie quickly 
swallowed two inches from her tall glass: “A little some¬ 
thing from the hip will pep this Volstead stuff up so I can do 
some heavy thinking,” she whispered, and drew a silver flask, 
from her hand-bag and filled her glass to the brim. This she 
stirred with a long spoon, and sipped her reinforced bever¬ 
age. “Ah, that’s something like!” she sighed. “Somehow 
my booze tastes a lot better these days since they’ve told me 
I can’t have it.” 

The waiter returned with a newspaper and the next mo¬ 
ment the two of them were scanning the columns headed, 
“Help Wanted—Female.” They finished these pleas for 
assistance, and regarded each other glumly. It was Jackie 
who spoke the thought of each. 

“How monotonous! Nothing wanted but cooks, maids, 
scrubwomen, nurse-maids, stenographers—and still more 
cooks and maids. Not a thing that’s in your line.” 


Simultaneously their eyes fell upon an adjoining heading 



“Positions Wanted—Female.” Again Jackie had an inspira¬ 

“I say, Cordie—why don’t you put in a want ad for a 
position? Miss Harcourt was always saying you were the 
best Harcourt Hall ever turned out.” 

“That might be just the thing!” exclaimed Cordelia. 
Then she asked: “Advertising to do what?” 

“Well—um—well—you’re a wonderful dancer, you 

“But not good enough to be a professional on the stage. 
And I don’t know how to be a teacher. And I don’t think 
I’d like to be one, either.” 

“Well—there’s your swimming.” 

“Same answer, Jackie.” 

“I don’t know any girl who can sail a boat better than 

“Same answer again.” 

“There’s your tennis. Don’t some tennis clubs have pro¬ 
fessionals, the same as golf clubs?” 

“Not women professionals. There’s no money in tennis 
for me.” 

“You’re a regular wiz at driving a car. I’ve been in your 
roadster when you were coaxing over ninety an hour out of 

“How much demand is there for a woman chauffeur—or 
should I say chauffeuse? And with my record for arrests, 
who would take me on as a careful family driver ?” 

“Well”— But here Jackie came to a pause. 

“I guess you get all of my situation now, Jackie.” 

“Yes,” Jackie said slowly. “You’re broke, and you’ve got 
to earn money. You’ve got every accomplishment, but you 
can’t do a damned thing that’s useful—not a damned thing 
that you can sell!” 



“That's exactly my situation, Jackie. And as you just 
said, Miss Harcourt used to call me Harcourt Hall’s best!” 

The two looked at each other solemnly, even glumly, for 
a long moment. Then a smile started on Jackie’s piquant 
face, and slowly became a challenging grin. 

“What’s up now, Jackie?” 

“I dare you to do it ?” 

“Do what?” 

“I’ll tell you in a minute. Cordie, we’ve been following 
the wrong line!” 


“In trying to compete with these people.” Jackie ex¬ 
citedly tapped the want columns. “They all either want to 
buy or sell the commonplace, the useful. What are some 
people often most eager to get and pay big money for? 
Uncommon things that are not useful. Diamonds, for in¬ 
stance ! Beginning to get the idea ?” 

“I’m beginning to get excited. Go on!” 

“Don’t advertise yourself as a lump of coal. Advertise 
yourself as a diamond. There’s my idea. I dare you!” 

A reckless gleam had flashed into Cordelia’s eyes, and she 
laughed. Into the two girls had come the spirit of old. 
Again they v/ere a couple of wild, harum-scarum girls hatch¬ 
ing an escapade at Miss Harcourt’s. 

“I’ll not back down on a dare!” cried Cordelia. “I’ll ad¬ 
vertise, but I’ll tell the exact truth!” 

“The more truth the better! We’ll not waste any time 
getting busy on this. Here, use the ads in this paper as a 
sample, and dictate to me. I’ll write the thing on the back 
of this menu card. I’m all set—now shoot.” 

Laughing at the absurdity, the dare-deviltry of the enter¬ 
prise—so much akin in spirit was the thing to one of their 
schoolday larks—Cordelia began to dictate. After elabora- 



tion, condensation, revision, and frequent reference to the 
newspaper for the proper form, the completed want ad on 
the back of the menu card read as follows: 

AMERICAN GIRL, 23, strong, considered good- 
looking. Best social standing. Expert at swimming, 
riding, tennis, dancing, and can drive racing car. Has 
other accomplishments, but no useful training. Desires 
position with adequate remuneration. What have you 
to offer her ? 

Jackie summoned the waiter and paid the bill. “Just so 
you won’t have a chance to renege, Cor die, I’m going to take 
this right over to the Times and pay for it. Come on.” 

Laughing, Cordelia followed Jackie out of the hotel and 
over to the Times office, where Jackie copied the advertise¬ 
ment upon the blank provided and handed it in. The clerk 
counted the words, added “R 113 Times,” and handed 
Jackie a slip of paper. This Jackie gave to Cordelia. 

“There’s your lottery ticket, old dear—R 113. Sounds 
like a lucky number. The clerk said you might have a 
bunch of replies by Wednesday morning. You must tell 
me what happens.” 

“Jackie, you dear fool you—nothing is going to hap¬ 
pen !” 

“You just wait and see!” prophesied Jackie. 

But even Jackie did not guess what a good prophet she 



Since this history is primarily a record of a brief period 
in the life of Cordelia Marlowe, then to understand the strik¬ 
ing, gay, impulsive, confident creature that Cordelia was at 
twenty-three, one must be equipped with some further 
knowledge of her family and of Cordelia's history. The 
Marlowes were for generations one of the bluest families in 
that unnumbered group which tradition has baptized under 
the numerical name of The Four Hundred. The family 
had once upon a time been wealthy, though the Marlowes 
had never been wealthy upon the scale by which present 
fortunes are considered. The later males of the Marlowe 
family, however, had lacked the ability to retain what 
the earlier Marlowes had acquired, though there had always 
been sufficient to maintain the family name as one of the 
best in New York City. But Cordelia's thoroughly like¬ 
able father, that almost famous polo player, had in an 
even greater degree than any of his forbears the gift of 
letting money slip through his hands; so that when a gal¬ 
loping pony stumbled with him, and he was picked up dying 
—this was when Cordelia was twelve—the lawyers had to 
report to his widow that the estate had almost passed out 
of existence with its last proprietor. 

There was something left, however, and Bernice Marlowe, 
who had always had everything, saw no reason why she 
should not still have everything, or at least the appearance of 




everything. There followed great internal economies, of 
course, and some borrowing: of which affairs it was not the 
world’s business to have any knowledge. So the long-legged 
Cordelia was kept on at her very exclusive private school 
(Lily, eight years younger, was as yet no such economic 
problem) ; after which, as parents who are somebody do with 
their daughters and as also do parents of recent wealth who 
want to be somebody, Cordelia was sent at fourteen to one of 
the hundreds of girls’ finishing schools which find the vicin¬ 
age of New York a rich soil for their growth and prosperity. 

Harcourt Hall was of course one of the most, if not actu¬ 
ally the most, exclusive of these schools. Miss Harcourt, for 
the prestige of her establishment, tactfully did her very best 
to restrict her enrolment to girls who came from families of 
established social position. Miss Harcourt recognized and 
deplored the growing fact—she never saw the fact in the 
light of a social phenomenon of American life with conse¬ 
quent social problems—that never before were there so many 
Americans with new-made fortunes, and never so many new 
families who were trying to promote their daughters to higher 
social spheres by sending them to schools where they might 
mix and establish valuable relations with the daughters of the 
socially elect. This practice was abhorrent to Miss Harcourt, 
and it may be said to the credit of her watchfulness that few 
indeed were the upstarts who escaped her scrutiny and got 
within her walls to soil her carefully chosen group and mount 
ambition-ward upon them. 

Harcourt Hall sits in withdrawn dignity upon one of Long 
Island’s main highways, some thirty miles out of New York 
City. To the neighbors, to motorists who pass and repass 
it, to the members of the nouveau riche who would enter, it 
offers to the eye no more than a long stretch of high brick 
wall, a lofty pair of wrought iron gates with a porter’s lodge 



on guard beside them. Watchful observers see these gates 
swing open only when big cars with liveried chauffeurs come 
on Friday afternoon to whisk away young ladies, and then 
return these young ladies Sunday night or Monday morn¬ 
ing ; or when of an afternoon, the day’s toil done, the gates 
emit a speedster with a girl at its wheel—on some after¬ 
noons several such cars—on the errand of clearing away 
the cobwebs of study by racing against the winds of Long 

To the initiate, there is presented a very different view: a 
park that is carpeted by meticulously shorn lawn; ribboned 
with drives of white gravel that curve in and out among 
noble elms ^nd glistening copper beeches. In the heart of 
this splendid seclusion sit three spacious buildings of closely 
related architecture, for all are of red brick and their trim 
of white woodwork has something of the majesty of the 
colonial: the Gymnasium, the Dormitory, and the Adminis¬ 
tration Building, the latter containing most of the class 
rooms and the office of Miss Harcourt, whose sanctum is 
finished with a rich austerity as might have been the room of 
a not too unworldly abbess. 

It was a wonderful place, Harcourt Hall. It taught a girl 
sureness of herself, the proper manner to carry herself 
through the great world. 

At Harcourt Hall Cordelia shone, but not because of ex¬ 
cellence in her studies. While the curriculum of Harcourt 
Hall as published in the elaborate year book was rather ex¬ 
tensive, even including business courses which none of the 
girls took, regular application to study was not required. 
Miss Harcourt was very considerate in this respect; it was 
enough if her dear charges did just as much work as they 
wanted to—their careers were to be those of ladies. 

Cordelia had a jolly time during her four years at this 



model school for young ladies, which has so many duplicates 
and imitations teaching their tens of thousands of girls the 
ways of gentility. She was popular not only with the other- 
girls, but with the very proper Miss Harcourt, whose invari¬ 
able wear was black silk, and who might have been of almost 
any year above forty-five, for Miss Harcourt knew all the 
secrets of preserving the appearance of an imposing middle 
age. Miss Harcourt fully realized that Cordelia was not 
rich as the other girls were rich; but then Cordelia had tre¬ 
mendous “family,” and was in every way an ornament to the 

“My dear, I am just sending off the very best report to 
your mother,” she said in her grand dame manner in Cor¬ 
delia’s last year. “You are one girl—I may say the girl — 
Harcourt Hall will always be proud of!” 

And indeed, when Cordelia graduated, which was when 
she was eighteen, she was easily the star of Harcourt Hall. 
She was the school’s star at swimming, tennis, riding, and 
basket-ball. Also she drove a car with the daring if not 
with quite the skill of a professional racing driver; she knew 
the periods when the traffic officers were off duty, and so 
could let her car out with the minimum danger of arrest. 
Also she was an instinctive dancer—“a love of a dancer” 
the girls called her. And very incidentally she knew enough 
of the modest academic requirements of Harcourt Hall to 
graduate not quite at the bottom of her class. Ailine Hark- 
ness ranked next below her, and both Gladys Norworth and 
Jackie Thorndike had too much money and standing not to 
be given their diplomas. 

Cordelia’s debut a year afterwards at Sherry’s (then an 
institution, and not as now a memory), though modest as to 
cost, was everything it should have been as to its appoint¬ 
ments, and the best people were present. Her mother had 



carefully seen to these matters. After her debut, Cordelia’s 
mother patiently and in silence waited for her to marry any 
one of the several nice rich young men who paid her court. 
Cordelia would swim with any of them, and out-swim them; 
play tennis with any of them, and give any of them a man’s 
game; and would dance with any of them or all of them till 
morning. But not one of them would she marry. She got 
rather bored with saying “No,” though always she felt 
genuinely sorry for the perfectly tailored, heart-broken 
young men she had to say it to. 

During the year and a half America fought in the Great 
War, Cordelia, of course, threw herself into the work of 
entertaining the untrained soldiers encamped near New 
York, as did most of the girls of her set. This was most 
exciting—the boys in their blanket-fitting uniforms were 
such dears! What the young fellows liked best was to have 
her drive them about; and at times her imported sports car— 
she still drove the same smart racer—scuttling through 
country roads, could scarcely be seen because of the very 
large portion of the American Expeditionary Army which 
was attempting to adhere to it. But presently the War was 
over, the soldiers were demobilized, and Cordelia declared 
peace (though the official government was less prompt) and 
turned to other matters. 

When some two or three years had thus been spent in war- 
relief work, and in having a good time socially, and in being 
a brilliant sportswoman, and in rejecting proposals (Jerry 
Plimpton had not as yet developed into a serious considera¬ 
tion), and when at the end of this period Cordelia was still 
unwed and even unbetrothed, her mother at last lost some¬ 
thing of the patience she had been exercising with such diffi¬ 
culty. Mrs. Marlowe, with affectionate, deprecatory insis¬ 
tence, demanded that Cordelia marry one of the several de- 



sirable suitors, and backed up this demand by revealing 
something of the Marlowe financial circumstances, which 
until then she had protectingly withheld. Thirty thousand a 
year— they’d been reduced to that, and the strain of making 
ends meet on that figure—well, Mrs. Marlowe simply could 
not stand it much longer! Cordelia was sorry about the 
finances; she would do her best to keep down her expenses; 
but she was not ready to marry. Perhaps a little later she 
might: almost any time a man might come along whom she 
really loved. 

Cordelia had never known any sort of life but this which 
she lived, and it simply did not enter her consciousness that 
any other sort of life was possible. But after this talk with 
her mother Cordelia did all she saw practical to reduce ex¬ 
penses. There are innumerable ways of living cheaply, and 
at the same time appearing to live otherwise, which are open 
secrets to many women of Cordelia’s world, and likewise to 
many men. Of course the Park Avenue apartment meant 
cash; nine thousand a year. But though Cordelia always 
looked smart, she managed so that her clothes cost as little 
as possible, and she managed so that her food cost her, in 
cash, nothing at all. There was always a luncheon party, 
a dinner party, a week-end party, a yachting party; as she 
had told Jackie, she was a guest at this big house for a week, 
at that big house for a month; there was hardly ever an 
empty hour in her engagement book. She was welcome 
everywhere, sought for on all sides. She was so clever, she 
instinctively put life into the other guests, she was so good 
at every sport—and what counted most of all with the 
women, though she was immensely popular with the men, 
she lacked utterly the instinct to take another woman’s man 
away from her or to monopolize male attention. She was 
a brilliantly successful guest. She worked hard at being a 



guest, and so spontaneous were all her social expressions 
that she worked without ever knowing she was working. 

Such was Cordelia Marlowe, made what she was by birth, 
home traditions, school training, and the practices of the 
world into which she had naturally been projected: distinctly 
herself, altogether different, yet in many ways typical of the 
ten thousand plus, or hundred thousand plus, other girls 
turned out by Harcourt Hall and its peers and its struggling 
imitations. . . . 

“Magnificent” became attached to Cordelia’s name in 
much the way that most of the nicknames of every-day life 
and the more formal sobriquets of history become attached 
to their owners: through some minor incident—through the 
color of the hair, size of body, a limp, a crooked back, a 
terrible temper, a splendid manner. 

In Cordelia’s case it had been her manner. Her very 
handsome and very popular father, when she was newly 
born, had paid her only the casual attention which is the 
common attitude of fathers until their offspring begin to j 
emerge from that mere generalization which is infancy into 
an individuality of their own; besides, during those early 
days, Mr. Marlowe was either very busy practising to make 
the American Polo Team, or as equally busy at some of 
his various clubs, discussing America’s chance of bringing 
back the cup from England. But when Cordelia was 
between one and two, and her father had failed to make the 
team—he was a brilliant performer, but he liked his whiskey * 
and the good-fellowship of his clubs too well to be a depend- j 
able player—he began to take more adequate notice of his 
first-born. Already, he noted, she had the true Marlowe air; j 
the air which had made him so popular, made him accepted! 
as a leader among his fellows: an air composed of genuine I 
good-nature, pleasantly imperious self-confidence, an implicit 



belief that of course she was going to have her own way and 
that, of course, her way was the best way. “A true Mar¬ 
lowe !” he ejaculated proudly. “God—but she’s a magnificent 
child! Magnificent!” 

He liked that word “magnificent.” In his pride as a 
Marlowe, in his new pride as a father, it seemed to him that 
“magnificent” exactly hit off his daughter; the word had a 
fine flavor upon the tongue, and he used it again and again. 
Like so many chance words, chance phrases repeatedly 
uttered by fond parents over their young, this word adhered 
to Cordelia. It remained with her through childhood ; 
through her school days; and even through the years that 
followed—though the father who had bestowed it had then 
long been resting under a very handsome monument. Her 
father had been quite right: she had the manner, the dash, 
to carry off the word. Nowadays in her young maturity 
the word, whenever it was used, was used lightly and 
half-humorously; but never with irony or contempt as 
might have been the case had Cordelia herself taken the word 
too seriously. She seemed to regard it as an inescapable but 
good-natured jest, trailing her from her childhood. Most 
people, however, in their hearts, seriously believed Cordelia 
deserved the title; and down in her own heart of hearts, 
Cordelia was inclined to believe the same. 

Physically, this title seemed a garment made for her. 
She was above the middle height, was strongly and splen¬ 
didly built, and withal was rarely light and graceful. And 
her face deserved the attention that the photogravure sec¬ 
tion of the Sunday papers had for years been giving it: 
regular in its dark beauty, but with an aliveness of mind 
and spirit, with a high good-natured confidence, which re¬ 
moved all danger of that monotony which so often is the 
fatal accompaniment of beautiful facial regularity: the kind 



of vital, sparkling beauty that is most properly crowned 
with just such glinting reddish-brown hair as was hers. 

She would hardly have been normal or human had she 
not privately believed in this appellation of her childhood. 
She had always been a brilliant star, and popular as such 
even among her girl friends; she had never faced a situa¬ 
tion which she had not carried off with ease. 

That is, not until this situation had arisen which she had*" 
just outlined to Jackie Thorndike. 



When Cordelia and Jackie parted, Cordelia drove her 
smart roadster to the Marlowe apartment on Park Avenue, 
still humorously regarding her want advertisement as an 
absurd adventure. But beneath this amusement at herself 
there was a very real excited expectation. Who knew ?—in¬ 
deed something might happen! 

However, the following morning, her mood was to dis¬ 
count entirely the humor and the expectation of her adver¬ 
tisement. The thing was just a bit of folly of two extremely 
foolish girls. 

Her eyes fell upon a stack of unopened envelopes on her 
writing desk, and in Cordelia’s mood those envelopes seemed 
the concrete symbol of her present situation—indeed the 
chief and bitter fact of the Marlowes’ existence. They 
were bills. Some were more than bills: were duns, even 
threats of action if there should not be prompt payment upon 
account. The first of every month saw just such a stack. 
Bills—forever bills. Cordelia sighed. That was life’s direst 
tragedy—meeting bills! 

She forced her thoughts to her more immediate problem, 
making a living, and tried to consider it practically. But 
Cordelia knew no more about the practicalities of earning 
money than if she were the daughter of some distant planet 
blissfully exempt from toil. She knew that the young 
women who waited on her in the shops, and the young 




women she had seen entering office buildings, must be paid 
for their work, and in the first instance must have used some 
method of gaining their positions; but how much they were 
paid, and how they secured their places, she could not even 
guess. She considered many kinds of possible work, and out 
of the great number of undesirable possibilities, she tenta¬ 
tively decided that a private secretaryship might be the 
least undesirable. But she had to have information. In¬ 
formation was something Jerry Plimpton might be able to 
give her. 

“I’ve just had a letter from an umpty-seventh cousin, 
Jerry,” she was presently saying over the telephone. “The 
girl wants to come to New York to be a private secretary. 
How much is a private secretary paid?” 

“From nothing up to fifteen or twenty thousand a year. 
How good is she?” 

“I don’t know. Suppose she’s just fair.” 

“A girl has got to be mighty skilful and reliable to get as 
much as thirty a week.” 

“Perhaps she doesn’t know anything. What’s the best 
way to start in?” 

“Tell her to go to a good business school, and then get 
experience with any decent concern that will give her a 
chance. But how about this evening, Cordie? Won’t you 
let me—” 

Cordelia evaded the invitation. Thirty dollars a week! 
But thirty dollars a week, considered merely as thirty dol¬ 
lars, had no meaning to Cordelia. Obviously its meaning 
had to be expressed in terms of what it would buy. Board 
and lodging for instance. She had to know about this. 

Half an hour later Cordelia was in a house over in the 
West Seventies, the address of which she had found in a 
newspaper under the heading “Boarders Wanted.” Mrs. 



Gregory led her up two flights, opened a door, and began: 

“One of my best rooms. Very private. The bath only 
two doors down the hall.” 

To Cordelia the room looked stiflingly small and was 
stiflingly hot this June day, and she could see little else in it 
besides an iron bed. Next Mrs. Gregory led her to the 
dining-room in the front of the basement—a low ceilinged 
dungeon, it seemed to Cordelia—with a view through grilled 
windows of passing legs all uniformly amputated at the 

“How—how much ?” Cordelia managed to get out through 
her muffling handkerchief. 

“Only fifteen dollars a week. And the accommodations 
cannot be equalled at the price in the city.” 

“Thanks—I’ll tell my cousin,” murmured Cordelia and 
hurried out to her roadster and back across Central Park. 

Half of her salary for such accommodations! And she 
wasn’t even earning that salary yet! 

She drove back to the Park Avenue apartment—her 
mother had fled the city to visit a distant cousin, taking Lily 
with her—and spent the rest of that day and most of the 
night, going over and over her situation. She had to go to 
work, that was settled; and thirty dollars a week became 
fixed in her mind as her first economical goal. She simply 
had to earn at least thirty dollars a week! But how was she 
going to finance herself until she was able to earn that much 
—say by learning to be a private secretary ? 

There was only one way. That was to sell her car; her 
beautiful imported roadster. 

But while she thus planned through the night, a dizzy 
nausea seized her every time she thought of her swift and 
appalling descent from her pleasant, her magnificent world. 
From her wonderful world, to the dingy, smelly oblivion 



of Mrs. Gregory’s boarding-house or its kindred! . . . 

The next morning, more out of obedience to her implied 
promise to Jackie than out of any re-awakened expectation, 
Cordelia went to the advertising office of the Times and 
presented her receipt. Here she had her first great sur¬ 
prise. The clerk handed her a twine-bound packet of what 
seemed a hundred letters or more. 

Her second great surprise came when, locked in her room 
at home, she tore open the top letter of the parcel, and 

Dear Little R113: 

Your advertisement listens mighty good to me. 
Let’s get acquainted. You sound like just the girl 
I’ve been looking for. Call up the telephone number 
below, ask for me, and we’ll arrange to have a nice 
little dinner together and size each other up. After 

Well, if we make a hit with each other I think 
you’ll be satisfied on the point you made about adequate 
remuneration. I have enough money and you’ll find 
me no tightwad. 

Eagerly awaiting your ring. 

Cordelia gazed in utter astoundment at this letter. Then, 
as its obvious meaning penetrated her numbed conscious¬ 
ness, she gave a gasp, went hot all over with rage, and tore 
the letter to bits. How dared any one so insult her? 

Breast heaving, she regarded the pile with horror. 
Then she forced herself to read another letter—and 
another—and another. Each she tore up as she read it. 
With each her horror and her hot rage mounted. They 
were different from the first only in text: the purpose be¬ 
hind every one was identical. 



Cordelia read no more. She simply could not under- 
stand the thing! How could she possibly, possibly have 
laid herself open to such insulting overtures? Then she 
bethought herself of her advertisement. She had saved 
a copy of the paper containing it, and this paper she now 
secured and read the lines she and Jackie had concocted 
over the tea table. She slowly read the advertisement 
through two or three times; then she turned as cold as she 
had been hot. She gasped again, and with a different kind 
of horror, as she realized the unsuspected significance that 
existed in the innocent advertisement drawn up by two 
confident, worldly-wise, yet unworldly-wise young women in 
a larkish spirit. To men of loose minds the thing of course 
read like a veiled invitation. And she had written it! 

For a space she was of a mind to destroy the rest of the 
letters unread. But the very fascination of her horror 
drew her on, and one after another she read some two 
dozen more. They varied in expression as much as the 
men might have differed in their physical appearance; 
some were delicate, some direct, some leering; but every 
writer had read her advertisement as had her first corre¬ 

At length she came upon the following, typed upon heavy 
expensive paper, the firm’s name embossed at the letter’s 

My dear Miss R113: 

If you will apply in person, show this letter, and ask 
to see Mr. Franklin, it is possible that some work may 
be arranged for you with our firm. 

Very truly, 

Kedmore and Franklin 
Per M. G. 



This letter brought her up with a start. Its impersonal 
formality, its brevity, its typewritten signature, were coldly 
refreshing after the odious familiarity of the letters which 
had preceded it. “Kedmore and Franklin”—the name 
sounded familiar. Who were they? The austere letter¬ 
head conveyed no hint of their business. Oh, yes; she 
remembered now. They were a firm of lawyers. Big law¬ 
yers, too, for dimly remembered newspaper accounts con¬ 
nected the firm with many important cases. And, oh, yes— 
they were the chief counsel in helping Mrs. Henry Arnold 
win her sensational counter-suit for divorce. 

She hesitated. What help could she possibly be to such 
a firm ? Then suddenly she made her decision: they had 
asked her to come, there would be nothing lost in seeing 
them. So she locked in her desk the torn heap of repuB 
sive letters, to be more fully destroyed later, and started 
for the firm’s address on lower Broadway. 

An express elevator shot her up to the thirtieth floor. 
Here was an impressive line of doors labeled “Kedmore 
and Franklin,” one of which was marked “Entrance.” As 
she stepped through this door into an outer office of quiet 
but rich appointments, a young woman of her own age arose 
from a typewriter and courteously asked how she could serve 

“I wish to see Mr. Franklin. Please give him this letter.” 

The young woman passed through a side door, and al¬ 
most at once returned. “You are to come right in, please.” 

With her heart in almost painful wonderment as to what 
she was about to experience, Cordelia followed her guide 
through another office, which instantly gave an impression 
of quiet distinction, to a third door which the young 
woman opened. “You’ll find Mr. Franklin waiting,” she 



Cordelia stepped through, and the door closed quietly 
behind her. Her quick eyes took in a large room of yet 
more simple distinction than the others, with windows that 
looked downward upon the whole northern and eastern 
stretch of the city. A man at the flat-top desk in the center 
of the room stood up; she saw he held the letter she had 
sent in to him. 

“Will you please have a chair,” he invited in a low 
courteous voice, motioning to a chair beside his desk. 

She obeyed, giving him a swift glance. Mr. Franklin 
was perhaps thirty-five, clean-shaven, quietly but smartly 
dressed, of athletic build, of easy bearing; he gave her an 
instant sense that here was a man of power, a man who 
would achieve great things if he had not already achieved 

He resumed his chair after she was seated. “And now 
Miss—Miss”— He gave a start as he now saw her features 
more clearly. “Pardon me, but I believe I already know 

“I do not recall ever having seen you before,” Cordelia 
said with some stiffness and in surprise. 

“You are correct; we have never met. But I frequently 
glance at the photogravure sections of the Sunday papers, 
and no one more frequently appears there than yourself. 
You are Miss Cordelia Marlowe.” 

“Yes,” Cordelia had to admit. She had planned to use 
her mother’s maiden name, at least temporarily. Now with 
the admission of her identity she felt with dismay that 
the possibility of keeping the Marlowe disaster a secret, as 
her mother wished, was instantly and entirely gone. 

“You wrote the advertisement to which this letter re¬ 




“Indeed!” He regarded her thoughtfully for a moment. 
“Excuse me just one second, please—a little item I had 

He pressed a button beneath his desk, though there was 
a double row of pearl-topped buttons in view beside his 
telephone, and scribbled upon a pad. He folded this, and 
apparently waited for some one to appear, meditatively tap¬ 
ping his pencil upon the rich mahogany. But no one en¬ 

“I guess this other matter will have to wait after all,” he 
remarked, turning his keen, steady, gray eyes again to Cor¬ 
delia. “Would you mind telling me, Miss Marlowe, just 
why you wrote that advertisement?” 

“The advertisement itself answers that question. I want 

“But why should Miss Cordelia Marlowe want work?” 

“Is my reason important to you? It seems to me that 
the important consideration is whether I am suitable for 
any work you may have in mind.” 

“That is partly correct, Miss Marlowe. But I think you 
will admit that it is somewhat unusual to have one of the 
best known young women of New York's smartest set ad¬ 
vertising for work—and any sort of work at that. We are 
a responsible firm, Miss Marlowe, and therefore must neces¬ 
sarily exercise care regarding our personnel. I think you 
will agree that we are not exceeding our legitimate require¬ 
ments in wanting to know what prompted so unusual a 
procedure on your part.” 

Cordelia had to admit to herself that he was in the right, 
and she gave a brief account of the family reverses. 

“Strange that I hadn’t heard of this,” mused Mr. 

“No one has heard as yet.” 



“No one?” 

“No one except my mother, myself, and my best friend,. 
Mrs. Murray Thorndike.” 

“Do you object to telling me why this misfortune has 
been kept a secret?” 

“It was mother’s idea. You see, rent for our apartment 
is paid in advance, and it will be cheapest to live there for 
the present. So since we were not compelled to make a 
change at once, it occurred to my mother that there was a 
desperate last chance of something turning up which might 
save us and make it unnecessary for the public ever to know 
what our predicament had been.” 

“I see. And if nothing does turn up, what will happen 
to your mother? How will she feel about it?” 

“She’s a proud woman, and you know what has always 
been our family’s position. I think you can answer your 
question for yourself.” 

“I think I can. And your sister—what will become of 

“I don’t know. She’s the one who will really suffer 
most, for she will not have had a chance of any kind.” 

“Thank you for your information,” he said quietly. And 
then after a moment: “Just what did you think you might 
do for us?” 

“I had not thought. My advertisement was plain enough 
in stating that I could do nothing useful. If you have 
work for me, it will be for you to decide what I can best 

Mr. Franklin nodded. 

“What sum had you in mind when you mentioned 'ade¬ 
quate remuneration’?” 

“I was hoping for something that would pay me thirty 
dollars a week.” 



Mr. Franklin slowly shook his head. “At thirty dollars 
a week I fear we could not use you.” 

Amost unconsciously, as the conversation had continued, 
a very eager hope had been growing up in Cordelia. Con¬ 
sequently Mr. Franklin's quiet words had the effect of al¬ 
most flattening her. 

“Why—why,” she stammered, “I thought I would be 
worth at least that much. I don’t see how I can live on 
less.” Then, hesitantly: “Twenty-five?” 

“We could not use you at twenty-five.” 

Cordelia stood up dully. “Then I might as well be going. 
I suppose I should thank your for your kindness in seeing 
me. Good-bye.” 

“One moment, please. I am not quite through. Won’t 
you be seated again ?” 

That even voice had a compelling quality. Cordelia sank 
back into her chair. 

“Since you have already permitted me to be inquisitive 
relative to your personal affairs, I hope you will answer 
just one more question. How much a year has it cost you 
to live? I mean for the entire family, and in the manner 
in which you have been living.” 

“I don’t know exactly, but around thirty thousand.” 

“I should say at least thirty thousand, to live the way 
you were living. And at that you must have found it 
hard. I have listened to your proposition, Miss Marlowe, 
and I now ask you to listen to my proposition. My offer 
to you is thirty thousand a year.” 

“Thirty thousand!” gasped Cordelia. 

“It being expressly understood as part of the agreement, 
if we do agree,” the quiet voice went on, “that you and 
your family are to continue to live in the exact manner 



in which you have been living. There will of course be 
other conditions. ,, 

‘‘Thirty thousand!” repeated the dazed Cordelia. “Thirty 
thousand—when you wouldn’t pay me thirty a week! X 
don’t understand.” 

“It is very simple. Thirty dollars a week presupposes 
that you have dropped from your present position, and 
are just Miss Smith. As Miss Smith you are not worth 
thirty dollars a week; and besides, you would not partic¬ 
ularly interest me for I can get ten thousand Miss Smiths 
to do the Miss Smith kind of work. But as Miss Cordelia 
Marlowe, holding your present position, you are not one 
of ten thousand, you are of a very small number, and 
as such you are easily worth thirty thousand a year to my 

“Doing what ?” she inquired. 

He shifted slightly, and seemed to be keenly watching 
the effect of his carefully chosen words upon her. “You 
must understand that much of our work is of a highly 
confidential character and is performed for wealthy clients. 
Many of our clients belong to your own set, or else come 
in contact with it. Frequently a delicate situation arises, 
and we must protect our clients’ property and honor. We 
can best do this if we are in a position to secure informa¬ 
tion other than through our regular channels concerning 
the conditions which threaten our clients. A person belong¬ 
ing to your set, and moving on terms of intimacy in it, can 
easily secure bits of information which, added to what we 
already know, would prove of great value to us.” 

“Am I to understand that you are proposing that I am 
to act as a spy upon my friends, and that I then pass on 
this key-hole information to you?” 



She said this in a voice of incredulous indignation. He 
studied her flushed face a moment before replying. 

“That is what I was intimating—-yes.” 

“Then you may get some one else for your work!” She 
started to rise. 

“Please keep your chair, Miss Marlowe. I made that 
intimation solely for the purpose of testing you. Had you 
said ‘yes,’ we could not have used you. We require a 
person of utmost honor—and if you were a person to sell 
out your friends, you might also sell out us.” 

“Well?” she demanded. 

“The general nature of the work is much as I have 
outlined it, but you would be requested to do nothing that 
would not be pleasing to your honor and good taste. Fur¬ 
ther, you will have the privilege of refusing to participate 
in any case that does not appeal to you. As a matter of 
fact, I believe that most affairs would so engage your sym¬ 
pathy that you will be happy to be of service.” 

“I don’t know,” Cordelia said doubtfully. 

“The arrangement will obviate all the unpleasant features 
that would attend your sinking to the level of ‘Miss Smith,” 
he suggested. “I judge that you are not exactly eager 
to give up your present position and your present friends?” 


He pressed this point gently but firmly. “Also it would 
obviate the fate your mother dreads for herself and would 
solve the problem of your sister.” 

“Those are good arguments,” she said. “But before I 
can answer I’d like to know what are the other considerations 
of which you spoke.” 

“Certainly. We must require that you never let a single 
soul know the true character of your relations with our 



firm. Your explanation for seeing us, if ever an explana¬ 
tion is necessary, is that we are your personal attorneys.-” 

“I understand. What else?” 

“You must never let any one know the real source of your 
income. For the public to learn this would mean that the 
public had also learned of your family reverses, and that 
might in some way impair your own and your mother’s posi¬ 
tion. Since the general public does not know what your 
predicament has been, you need explain nothing to the pub¬ 
lic—the public will never know the difference. As for your 
friend, Mrs. Thorndike, tell her your mother’s fears were 
premature and groundless and that all is now well. And as 
for your mother—” 

“Yes, my mother! How will I account for the money 
to her?” 

“She must be kept in ignorance of what you are doing. 
Here is an instance where we may properly use a bit of 
deception that you will agree is legitimate. You spoke of 
your mother having some speculative stock which is worth¬ 
less. Get that stock into my possession, and I will handle 
it in some way which will make her believe she has recovered 
her lost fortune. The money which you earn will then 
come to you through your mother.” 

“I see. What are the other conditions?” 

“We have covered them all. I am now waiting for your 
‘yes’ or ‘no.’ ” 

“I can only say ‘yes’ to such an offer, especially when it 
leaves me free to decline any work you may propose. 
Though,” she added, “your proposition doesn’t yet seem real 
to me.” 

“I am glad you are to be with us,” he said. Even now 
his voice did not alter in its courteous, business-like quality. 



“And you will soon find that the proposition is real enough.” 

“When do you want me to begin? And on what piece 
of work?” 

“I wish you to begin at once, if possible. I have one 
case in hand in which I am certain you can render the 
greatest service, but the circumstances are not yet quite ripe 
for you. May I ask what were your own plans prior to 
the time your mother gave you her bad news?” 

“I had accepted an invitation to visit a school friend, 
Miss Gladys Norworth. Of course I have canceled it.” 

“Gladys Norworth!” exclaimed Mr. Franklin. “The great 
heiress—that Miss Norworth ?” 


Mr. Franklin’s gray eyes held a surprised brightness for 
a moment, then were as calm as before. “Since I am not 
quite ready with the case I referred to, I suggest that in 
the meantime you make your visit with Miss Norworth as 
originally arranged.” 

Cordelia blinked at this. 

Mr. Franklin hesitated an instant, then continued: “I 
think it might be well for me to say a little more. Very 
shortly I would have asked you to go to Miss Norworth’s 
anyhow. Her affairs constitute one of our cases. I think 
you now begin to see the value that our connection with 
you will be to us: you have the natural entree to the kind 
of people we must keep in touch with.” 

“Gladys Norworth one of your cases!” exclaimed Cor¬ 

“I said her affairs,” corrected Mr. Franklin. “Miss Nor¬ 
worth knows nothing of our firm being interested in her, 
and I wish you to take care not to let her suspect it. If 
she did, our efforts might be useless. We are confidential 
counsel to the trustees of her estate. Her trustees believe 



something is seriously wrong with her affairs, but they 
themselves have been baffled as to what it is. That is why 
they have secretly entrusted us with the matter. We have 
gained some facts, and have some suspicions, but we have not 
yet penetrated the mystery. That is what I wish you to 
do, help us get to the heart of this baffling matter. You 
will please notice everything, and report every detail to 
me no matter how unimportant it may seem to you.” 

“That is exactly what I said I could not do—spy upon 
my friends.” 

“I thought we had covered that,” Mr. Franklin said pa¬ 
tiently. “You are not acting as a spy—at least not in the 
repugnant sense of the word. You are in reality your 
friend’s protector, though she does not know it, and must 
not know it. You are really trying to help save your friend. 
That is something very different, is it not?” 

“Yes,” Cordelia admitted. 

“Then you will go, as soon as arrangements are made?” 

“Yes. But would you mind telling me something about 
the situation?” 

“I cannot without a breach of good faith toward the 
trustees. Besides, there is no need for you to know much; 
what you need you will learn for yourself. Further, I 
will very frankly admit I do not understand the thing 
myself, except that something strange is going on behind 
the surface. And now, Miss Marlowe, I believe that is 
everything, except the discussing of financial plans involv¬ 
ing your getting into my hands your mother’s oil 

Thirty minutes later that discussion was over, and Mr. 
Franklin opened the door for her with a courteous bow. 
As she shot down the elevator, and walked as in a dream 
up Broadway, within her was a chaos of wonderment and 



thrilling exultation: a whirling chaos that had three chief 

This Mr. Franklin, clear-thinking, never hesitant for a 
word, always courteous—could he possibly be other than the 
polished gentleman, the discreet repository of other peo¬ 
ples’ confidences and worries, that he seemed to be? 

What was the strange thing that was going on in Gladys 
Norworth’s affairs? Now that a point had been made of 
it, it did seem that Gladys for a long time had been behav¬ 
ing oddly. What was she, Cordelia, going to find out? 
What was going to happen to her? 

But more thrilling than either of these thoughts was the 
change that had come in her fortunes. An hour before she 
had been a pauper, seeking work at a miserable wage. And 
now she was her old self again. Her mother was saved— 
Lily was saved—she was saved! The family position was 
unchanged; she was to remain up in her own world—the 
world that loved her, the world she loved! And—and—the 
world where she and Jerry Plimpton would be meeting as 



Cordelia would have wondered even more had it been 
possible for her to have remained invisible in Mr. Frank¬ 
lin’s office, and thus been able to see and overhear. The 
moment Mr. Franklin was back in his chair, after seeing 
Cordelia out, he remarked in a slightly raised voice: 

“Come in, Kedmore.” 

A door at the side of the office opened, and from a little 
private corridor that led to the adjoining office there stepped 
forth a stockily built man of perhaps fifty-five with a pink¬ 
ish bald head. His clothes had doubtless cost as much 
as Mr. Franklin’s, but their wrinkled and baggy appearance 
suggested that they also served him as pyjamas. Seen in 
repose he looked a very unimportant figure; but those ac¬ 
quainted with the higher courts of New York knew that, 
given a case with a woman in it, no matter what its other 
ingredients, Josiah Kedmore could win that case before 
the most callous jury ever impaneled. His was the gift 
of the golden voice, the apposite word, the bugle call to 

In the privacy of his partner’s company something seemed 
to have dropped from Mr. Franklin’s face: nothing so tan¬ 
gible as a mask—perhaps merely that careful control which 
was his face’s professional attire. At any rate, his fea¬ 
tures were more alive, expressive; the tow-toned even, per¬ 
suasive quality of his voice had given place to vibrant in¬ 




“You got my signal?” Mr. Franklin queried when his 
partner was in the chair which had so recently held Cor¬ 

“Sure!” It was a relaxation to Mr. Kedmore to be in¬ 
elegant when the occasion did not require dressed-up Eng¬ 

“Then you saw her ajid heard her. What do you think?” 

“That she’s a peach! Lord, man, I almost passed out 
when I learned who she was. Cordelia Marlowe! To think 
of Cordelia Marlowe writing an ad like that—Lord!” 

“She’s just the kind that would do it. Worldly-wise 
and self-confident, and because of that as ignorant and easy 
as they come.” 

Kedmore nodded his big pink head. “Just so. Lord, 
if it wasn’t for those swell schools, and what they do teach 
and don’t teach the dear girls, and if it wasn’t for swell 
society, and what it does teach and doesn’t teach, where the 
dickens would we poor lawyers be—what? Lord!” 

“Then you think she’ll do?” 

“She’ll be a wonder—if you can manage her.” 

“You saw this afternoon’s performance. I was as much 
surprised as you were when I learned who she was. I never 
guessed a real society person was behind that ad. Consider¬ 
ing my surprise, I think you’ll admit I handled her pretty 

“Yes, that was clever work, Franklin. Damned clever. 
Lord, yes. But for a minute I thought your foot had 


“When you suggested to her that Maggie the Blackmail 
Queen thing, and she flared up.” 

“I had to sound her out, didn’t I, to find whether she 
was already of a mind to go in for something of the sort? 



And when I learned she wasn’t, I guess you’ll admit I made 
a quick recovery.” 

“Yes, your mind is quick on its feet. Lightning quick. 
I’ll say. But where did you get that idea, not hesitating a 
second, of sending her out to that—what’s her name?— 
Gladys Nor worth ? And our being privately retained by Miss 
Norworth’s trustees to make an investigation of certain 
matters? How did you come to send her to this Gladys 
Norworth person? You certainly had me buffaloed, and it 
still seems a mystery.” 

“If you listened carefully, you will recall that Miss Mar¬ 
lowe was the first to mention Gladys Norworth. I’d not 
even thought of Miss Norworth until Miss Marlowe spoke 
of her invitation to visit Miss Norworth. So I decided to 
send Miss Marlowe where she already had an invitation. 
Almost every rich family has a closet with a skeleton or two 
in it, and I thought Miss Marlowe might as well start with 
these Norworth people, where she has an opening, as with 
anybody else. It’s all the same to us. Of course I did re¬ 
call vaguely a few things about the Norworth situation, and 
that helped. If Miss Marlowe doesn’t find the key to the 
Norworth closet, or if opening the closet she finds no 
skeleton, then I shift her to some other family. And that’s 
all there is to that mystery.” 

“Simple as taking a litter of rabbits out of your grand¬ 
mother’s silk hat, after you’ve been shown how,” com¬ 
mented Mr. Kedmore. You’ve sure got a brain, Franklin, 
up where some people only keep a custard pie.” 

“Thanks. You understand I don’t care a damn about 
this Norworth outfit; that is, not unless something big is 
turned up there. What I care about is landing a young 
woman like Miss Marlowe. That’s the big thing 1” 

“Sure, I understand. But, Lord, man, offering her thirty 



thousand. That’s quite a piece of change, you know. 
Seems to me you’re mighty free with our dough.” 

“It’s just as I told her: she will be worth that or nothing 
to us. And you know she would be worth nothing to us 
unless she stuck to her place in society.” 

“I suppose so. But how are you going to get that money 
back ?”' 

“You let me worry about that. It’s going to be easy. 
The tips she’ll hand me, without ever knowing what she’s 
done, about the things that are happening among her rich 
friends—why, there’ll be a fortune in them if we follow them 
up and use them right.” 

“But you can’t expect to keep a girl like Miss Marlowe in 
ignorance forever of what she’s actually doing. Lord, no. 
When she takes a tumble to the real game, how are you 
going to handle her ?” 

“By that time I figure she won’t need any handling. 
She’ll be willing to come in with her eyes wide open, 
provided we keep on covering up her work. Don’t I know 
that sort of woman!—the woman who’s about to topple 
from her place in the big world and who don’t want to 
fall! New York, every big city, is full of them. String 
those women along for a little while, keeping them just 
balanced at the top, and then they’ll be willing to do anything 
to keep from going down. You know that as well as I do; 
that’s been our experience.” 

“I know. But we’ve never before handled a woman 
that’s had the real class of this Marlowe girl. Suppose 
when her waking-up time comes the girl refuses to go 
ahead ?” 

Franklin’s mouth tightened. “That event will be pro¬ 
vided for. If she refuses, she will find herself so involved, 



without knowing beforehand that she is involved, that she 
will not dare do anything except go ahead.” 

Kedmore raised a hand. “Say no more. Never tell me 
what you’re up to. I’m only the vocal chords of this or¬ 
ganization; I’ll handle any case in court that you’ve got 
fixed so that the law cannot reach it—but it’s up to you to 
do all the thinking and fixing. Too much knowledge is 
likely to be a damned dangerous thing for me. So let me 
have the bliss and safety of ignorance.” 

“All right. You needn’t worry. And, man, think of 
the other side: how much we’ll make when I’ve made her 
what I want her to be! I tell you, Kedmore, I’m going to 
make that girl, willing or unwilling, the ablest woman in this 
line that New York ever knew. You just see!” 

“I hope you do it. But it may be some job.” 

“I’ll make her that—you just see!” repeated Franklin, 
his eyes glowing. “These ladies’ maids who want to sell 
compromising letters—these women on the fringe of 
society who hang on by their little retail trade in scandal 
—all of them together won’t be a tenth of what Miss Mar¬ 
lowe will be when I’ve got her ready!” He became tense 
in his certainty. “She’s going to be a wonder! A year 
from now—it will take time—it will require patience and 
adroitness—but a year from now and that girl will be every¬ 
thing I’ve said!” 

“I believe you, Franklin; you have an admirable habit 
of putting your plans across.” The pink head nodded 
slowly in meditation. “But I wonder now—I just natur¬ 
ally wonder what your Miss Marlowe would be thinking 
about if she knew this minute what she is destined to be in 
a year.” 

To this Franklin made no reply. 



“Of course you’ll succeed,” the heavy, meditative voice 
of Kedmore rumbled on. “But that girl had a look to 
her that does make me wonder. She’s no cinch. It’ll be 
mighty interesting, Franklin, watching how she develops 
under your hands. Mighty interesting.” 

After his partner had departed through the private door 
through which he had entered, Franklin swung around and 
gazed down on the far reaches of the city, his brain fever¬ 
ishly exultant, eagerly darting into the future. Robert 
Franklin was a type of lawyer that has existed ever since 
law has been practised as a business, but which has only 
mounted to the peak of its success with the development 
of modern wealth, of modern society and modern business, 
and the rich opportunities these have offered. At the begin¬ 
ning of his practice he had chanced upon a rather scan¬ 
dalous secret and had been paid his price for suppressing 
it. That incident had determined his career. Such money 
comes so easily and comes in such large sums: money 
paid by clients for helping them hide something, money paid 
by clients for doing something illegal in such a way that 
the law, even if awakened, cannot touch client or lawyer, 
money paid for a closed mouth; and it is all so very safe, 
if only one is clever and careful enough. 

To-day it was Franklin’s practice to watch for every 
little domestic rupture among the respectable rich; to listen 
for every rumor of an indiscretion that might develop into 
a profit; to wait quietly for developments, collecting notes 
of every detail—adding to these, ever adding to these, until 
finally a crisis was reached in some affair in which reputa¬ 
tions were at stake and in which those concerned were 
frantically eager for nothing to leak out, and he was the 
only outside person who had all the dangerous facts. These 
affairs were his great chances; in such general direction 



had the main portion of his law business developed—as 
many a law business, in part at least, has developed. 

Such, then, was Cordelia’s saviour at the age of thirty- 
five: a perfection of his type: respected in his profession, 
and suspected by no one to whom he did not care to give 
his confidence; prosperous; a finished man of the world; 
he wore, and knew how to wear, the best of clothes; he was 
a member of good clubs; and he was to-day far more am¬ 
bitious than in his fiery early years. 

His practice of watching every chance, however small, 
every slip of folly and ignorance, every mistake of vanity 
and pride and judgment, had finally brought him Cordelia. 
He had never felt more exultant, more sure of himself, than 
now. She was made to his hand! And of her he was go¬ 
ing to make a wonder! 

Thus mused Franklin, who was accustomed to the belief 
that he could see into the far future and pull the proper 
strings to make that far future fit his own desire. But 
Cordelia, setting forth upon her mission, ignorant of the 
true purposes that had prompted her orders, was not more 
ignorant of what was to be the outcome of this planning 
and striving than was the astute, sky-soaring Robert Frank¬ 



On Monday afternoon of the following week Cordelia, at 
the wheel of her spirited maroon roadster, a large black 
suit case strapped upon its after deck (her trunks had been 
sent in advance by express), was skimming easily over a 
Long Island road at a third her engine’s speed but many 
miles over the speed permitted by the State law. She was 
palpitant with the suspense of the adventure whose portals 
she was now entering. She had taken part in many daring 
matters before this, but in none had the stakes been so im¬ 
portant to her and to others; in none had the outcome 
seemed so unforeseeable; and in none had her personal sit¬ 
uation been so strange a one. 

Behind her she had left business affairs settled upon much 
the basis Mr. Franklin had first outlined to her. There had 
been many interviews with him in his office from which 
one looked down, as from a watch-tower, upon the far-flung 
city and its toiling, scheming, idling, suffering, loving mil¬ 
lions. Mrs. Marlowe had been prevailed upon to come to 
this office and leave with Mr. Franklin her unfortunate 
securities. She had been greatly impressed by Mr. Franklin 
on her first visit; and her respect had grown a hundred fold 
when three days later he announced to her that she had been 
the victim of fraudulent practices, and that he had succeeded 
in getting a settlement out of her brokers and the companies 
in which she held stock, under the terms of which settle- 




ment she was regularly to receive twenty-five hundred dollars 
monthly. He had handed her a cashier’s check for the. 
amount of the first payment. She had been most grateful, 
but extreme tact had been required in handling her indig¬ 
nant demand for criminal action against those conscience¬ 
less brokers who had tried to ruin her and who so nearly 
had succeeded; and she had driven away, the saving check 
triumphantly clutched in her hand-bag, with never a sus¬ 
picion that she had been an unconscious actor in a care¬ 
fully prepared bit of private theatricals. 

Of course Cordelia had promptly sent off the ordered 
note to Jackie Thorndike telling that her mother had been 
premature in her fears of financial reverses, and telling 
Jackie that their affairs were as sound as ever and that 
therefore she, Cordelia, would not have to undertake any of 
those foolish schemes they had discussed. Jackie had re¬ 
plied with enthusiastic congratulations, and had promised 
silence. It had hurt Cordelia a bit to tell this fib to a good 
old friend like Jackie. 

And of course there had been payments made upon those 
awful bills. 

There were flies buzzing about the sweet ointment of her 
secret rehabilitation of the secret failure of her family. 
Was she going to be found out? If so, what would happen 
to her? And then there was that sense that she was acting 
rather like a spy, coming to Rolling Meadows under such 
circumstances. But this last fly she brushed away with the 
mental gesture that she was coming to protect, not to betray: 
—though at intervals this fly returned to its buzzing. 

As she drew nearer her destination her excitement grew 
more intense. She did not know Rolling Meadows, she 
did not know the step-sister, or the other persons who might 
comprise the household; she knew only Gladys. She was 



about to enter a new world—a world that she now believed 
contained a mystery, possibly a menace: a mystery that she, 
always unsuspected, was to help discover and clear away. 

Presently the maroon roadster turned through the gateway 
of Rolling Meadows and swung over the low undulations, 
now lush with hay that would soon be ready for the mower, 
toward the house which sat upon a knoll that had the splen¬ 
did exclusion bestowed by a quarter mile’s removal from 
the highway. It had been the gently curving lines of the 
sweeping acres which had inspired the parents of Gladys 
to call the estate Rolling Meadows when, twenty years 
earlier, they had chosen this as the site of their country 
home and had ordered architects and landscape gardeners 
and builders to do their best. 

Since she was the first of Gladys’ friends to enter Rolling 
Meadows, Cordelia looked with an explorer’s interest at the 
house she approached. Her first vision of course could 
not take in details: but she was aware of a two-story red 
brick house, containing possibly two-score rooms, trimmed 
in white, and with cool wide porches upheld by white fluted 
columns, the whole mounted upon the low pedestal of a 
brick-walled terrace. Two hundred yards from the house 
the hay left off and a lawn began whose nap was as perfect 
as that of a putting-green. Cordelia had a consciousness of 
long rose arbors in flamboyant bloom, of a sunken garden 
at one side, of a thick pine wood as background to the en¬ 
tire picture, with Long Island Sound on one side glistening 
in the distance. Then she halted her car at the steps from 
which Gladys had been eagerly waving to her. 

“I’m so glad you were able to come after all!” Gladys 
cried, and after Cordelia had lightly sprung from the car, 
Gladys threw her arms around Cordelia and kissed her. 



That was only Cordelia’s second kiss from her old school 
friend, and it seemed uncomfortably strange. 

A man in formal clothes came rapidly and noiselessly 
down the broad steps of the terrace, crossed to the car 
and began with quick practised hands to unstrap Cordelia’s 
bag. Cordelia, obeying the instructions given her by Mr. 
Franklin, swiftly studied this newcomer, obviously Gladys’ 
butler. He was young for a butler, perhaps twenty-eight 
or thirty; was above the medium height, rather lightly 
built except for an unusual width of shoulders, and had that 
clean-shaven, impersonal mask of a face which Cordelia in¬ 
stinctively associated with male house-servants of the higher 
order. If she had been asked at that moment to character¬ 
ize him, she would have had to say that his outstanding 
characteristic was his perfect conformity to his class, his 
colorlessness, his lack of any individuality. And yet de¬ 
spite this perfect usualness, Cordelia had an instant sense 
that his appearance belied the man’s real quality. 

Bag in hand, the butler turned to Gladys. 

“What time shall I serve dinner, Miss Norworth?” 

“You can be ready in half an hour, Cordelia?” asked 
Gladys. Cordelia nodded. “Dinner at eight, Mitchell.” 

Cordelia’s eyes followed Mitchell as he moved easily away 
with her heavy bag; and she noted that Gladys’ eyes were 
also fixed upon the impersonal butler. 

As they went up the steps of the terrace, Gladys again 
threw her arms around Cordelia in a clutching embrace. 
“Oh, I’m so glad you’ve come!” she whispered. “You’ll 
—'you’ll help so much!” 

“How?” asked Cordelia, rather bewildered by Gladys’ 
unaccustomed show of emotion. 

“By—by just being here!” Gladys quickly recovered her 



self-control. “You’re so strong and sane, you know/’ 
She started to lead Cordelia into the house. “I’ll show you 
your room. Your trunks are already there. Wear any¬ 
thing you like; dinner’s going to be very informal to¬ 

“Aren’t you going to let me meet your step-sister now?” 

“Esther is helping with Frangois.” 

“Frangois? Who is he?” 

“Our child. Esther’s and mine. The French war orphan 
we adopted.” 

“Oh, yes—in the excitement of getting here I’d forgotten 
about your war orphan.” 

“He had a little indigestion this evening, and didn’t want 
to go to sleep. Esther offered to help his governess quiet 
him, so I might be free to meet you.” 

By this time they had crossed a big hall, mounted a wide 
stairway, and had come to a door which Gladys opened. 
“These will be your rooms, Cordie. Annie here will take 
care of you.” 

Gladys went out, and Cordelia gave her keys to the 
waiting lady’s maid and examined her quarters. There were 
a large bedroom with bath, and an enormous sitting-room 
with eastern windows which looked over the green billows 
of the estate, and with northern windows from which she 
could look down from the hill-poised house over the stunted 
Long Island trees and see the smooth Sound burnished by 
the low coppery sun. There might be something wrong in 
this house, as Mr. Franklin had said, but certainly Rolling 
Meadows did not lack in comforts for the body and pleasures 
for the eye. 

At eight o’clock Cordelia entered the dining-room, and 
there met Gladys’ step-sister, Esther Stevens. Cordelia tried 
to make swift appraisal of this new member of the house- 



hold, as she had tried to appraise Mitchell. Esther Stevens 
was the direct antithesis of the colorfully handsome, impe¬ 
rious Gladys. She was twenty-eight or -nine; pleasant of 
face and manner, though no radiant beauty; self-contained, 
self-controlled, with a quiet graciousness, and obviously in 
no awe of her rich and dominating sister. She gave off a 
sense of reserve power, and a sense that for all her quiet 
control hers was a nature capable of deep emotion. 

Alert to record her impressions, Cordelia noted how in¬ 
stantly she had been struck by the wide difference between 
these two sisters; and she wondered how they got on together 
in private, and how they had been getting on the many years 
they had been together. She felt she was going to like this 
quiet Esther, if Esther would let her. 

There was no conversation at the dinner that Cordelia 
afterwards recalled in detail. She retained only her im¬ 
pressions. Gladys' attempts were all towards gossipy per¬ 
sonalities concerning their friends. Esther said little, but 
what she said was pleasant, and unobtrusively gracious; it 
increased Cordelia’s liking. Cordelia’s most distinct, yet in¬ 
distinct, impression was of Mitchell. The butler alone served 
the dinner. Such was his ability to efface himself that he 
hardly seemed to exist; yet there he was, serving noiselessly, 
seeming to anticipate every want before it became conscious 
in the minds of the three women, and in consequence re¬ 
quiring no word. In his non-existence, in his swift effi¬ 
ciency, he seemed to Cordelia the most perfect butlering 
mechanism she had ever met. 

A little incident happened at the end of the dinner that 
gave Cordelia further glimpse of the flawless versatility of 
Mitchell. He had served the ice and they were in the midst 
of it, when a childish voice sounded from the main door¬ 



“Mother Esther, can’t I have some ice-cream?” 

Cordelia turned. There in pyjamas and bare feet stood a 
handsome, yellow-haired boy of four, sturdy and manly, 
blinking sleep-heavy but bright eyes at them. Esther and 
Gladys were out of their chairs at the same moment, but 
Gladys chanced to have sat the closer to him, and she seized 
him sharply by the shoulder. 

“You naughty boy, Frangois! Why aren’t you asleep?” 

“Don’t want you, Mother Gladys,” declared the boy, try¬ 
ing to pull away from her. “Want Mother Esther.” 

Esther Stevens was now on her knees beside him, her 
arms about his small figure. 

“I left you asleep with Jeanne watching, Frangois,” she 
said gently. “How did you get down here?” 

“I woke up, and I wanted you to tell me another story, 
Mother Esther.” 

“Wasn’t Jeanne there to tell you another story?” 

The boy shook his head. Then he sighted Cordelia and 
pointed a tiny finger at her. 

“Who’s that, Mother Esther?” 

“You mustn’t bother us, Frangois,” interrupted Gladys. 
“You must go right back to bed!” 

“He’ll go in just a minute, Gladys,” said Esther. “Come 
on, Frangois, and meet your new friend.” 

Gravely she led him pattering across to Cordelia and 
gravely went through with the introduction. Gravely the 
boy held out a hand to Cordelia. 

“Are you going to be another one of my mothers?” he 

Cordelia felt a swift inward glow. 

“I will if you will let me.” 

“Can you tell good stories?” he cross-examined. 

“Perhaps she’ll try to-morrow, dear,” said Esther, start- 



ing to draw him away. “Come upstairs, and Mother Esther 
will tell Frangois a story now.” 

But at that moment the non-existent Mitchell materialized 
on the opposite side of Frangois, holding his other hand. 

“Pardon me, Miss Stevens,” he said, “but won’t you 
finish your dinner? I’m entirely through here. I’ll take 
him up to the nursery.” And to Frangois: “Don’t you 
want Mitchell to tell you a nice story? And let your 
mothers finish their dinner?” 

“Yes—yes, Mitchell!” the boy cried eagerly. “You tell 
the nicest stories of anybody!” 

“Then say good-night, Master Frangois.” 

“Good-night, Mother Esther,” and he put an arm around 
her neck and kissed her. “Good-night, Mother Gladys; you 
haven’t kissed me good-night to-night and you didn’t kiss 
me last night.” 

He held up his face to Gladys, and the flushed Gladys 
gave him a quick kiss, with “Now hurry off to bed with 

The boy said good-night to Cordelia, then trotted off 
gravely with the butler. It seemed to the watchful Cordelia 
that Esther was not entirely pleased—the reason for it Cor¬ 
delia could not guess—to have the child go away in Mitch¬ 
ell’s charge. 

The butler puzzled Cordelia. The servant question is 
one of the established commonplaces of conversation; one 
may discuss it, without seeming inquisitive, as one may 
discuss the weather or prohibition. So Cordelia felt she 
could ask questions about Mitchell without arousing sus¬ 
picion of the curiosity behind the question. 

“That seems a rather remarkable butler you have, Gladys.” 

“Yes, Mitchell is good.”' 

“How long have you had him ?” 



“About a year now.” 

“How did you happen upon him?” 

“Oh, he just turned up as servants do, and applied for 
the place.” 

“He seems to be almost without personality,” Cordelia 
chatted on—“nothing in his nature to attract one to him. 
Yet I noticed that Francois seemed very fond of him.” 

“Oh, that is just Francois’ way. He takes to every one.” 

With her next sentence Gladys changed the subject. 
Cordelia had a vague sense that Gladys had purposely 
changed the subject, that for some reason she preferred not 
to talk about her butler. 

There was little more said during the dinner. Left to 
her own thoughts, Cordelia could not help considering the 
members of this household into which she had been brought 
by invitation and the instructions of the cool-eyed Mr. 
Franklin: Gladys—Esther—Frangois—Mitchell. She could 
not then have explained why, but more than about any of the 
others, she wondered about Mitchell. 



Dinner over, Esther Stevens went upstairs to see if all 
was going well with little Frangois. Cordelia took advan¬ 
tage of her departure to say how pleasantly impressed she 
had been with Gladys’ step-sister. 

“Yes, Esther is a dear!” agreed Gladys. “A perfect 

Even had Franklin not given orders to learn all she 
could, Cordelia’s human curiosity would have prompted her 
to be inquisitive concerning this step-sister and her pur¬ 
pose in being at Rolling Meadows. As it was Cordelia 
had two motives for asking questions, and she asked them. 
Gladys was willing enough to talk, and led the way up to 
the privacy of her own sitting-room. 

Cordelia already knew something of Esther, and the ac¬ 
count she now heard was added to by bits of facts and deduc¬ 
tions which she picked up during the following days. 
Gladys’ father had died when she was ten. When Gladys 
was twelve her mother had taken as her second husband Mr. 
Stevens, a rich and daring western speculator, recently left a 
widower, who had just come confidently to the East to pro¬ 
mote some large mining enterprises. After his marriage he 
had decided to settle in New York and to show Wall Street 
that it possessed no monopoly of financial genius. Esther, 
then eighteen, had been so outraged by her father’s second 
marriage, regarding it as an affront to the memory of her 



mother who had been with her only a few months before, 
that she had flatly refused to come East and be a part of her 
father’s new family. 

Three years of trying to outwit Wall Street had resulted in 
Wall Street collecting to itself every dollar Mr. Stevens 
had brought as a challenge from the West. A few 
months thereafter he had collapsed from a bad heart and had 
died within the hour. Esther had been in California, and 
there had been no time for her to come to his funeral. He 
had never touched a penny of the great fortune of 
Gladys’ mother—which included the large fortune left by 
her father—and on her mother’s death, when Gladys was 
seventeen, in school at Harcourt Hall, the fortune had passed 
on intact to Gladys under a will (its character due largely 
to the suggestions of Mr. Stevens) which provided that the 
entire estate should be in the control of trustees, save only 
the income, until Gladys had married or reached twenty-five, 
in either of which events the principal was to come into her 
unhampered possession. The trustees were also named as 
guardians of Gladys’ personal well-being. 

The death of her step-father and later of her mother 
had left Gladys without a single blood relative; and the 
three tired and busy trustees, bethinking themselves of the 
step-sister and desirous of avoiding every responsibility that 
could be evaded, had written Esther a pleading note present¬ 
ing the care of Gladys as a charge which would have been 
Esther’s father’s had he lived. Time and her father’s death 
had softened Esther’s resentment, and out of sense of duty 
to her father she had resigned her position as English teacher 
in a Los Angeles high school to become mother, aunt, older 
sister, chaperone, what-not, to the seventeen-year-old product 
of the socially ambitious mother and of Miss Harcourt’s 
widely admired institution. 



If Esther Stevens had different ideas about a young 
girl’s upbringing, she had entered Gladys’ life at too late 
a period, and with too little authority, to have tried to put 
those ideas into practice without arousing the defiance of 
her charge. So perforce Esther had accepted the situation 
as she had found it, trying to do her father’s duty, and dur¬ 
ing the first months taking a lot of snubbing that tried her 
patience; and when, after her graduation in 1916, Gladys 
became captivated with the idea of being a nurse in the 
very smart hospital of the very chic Countess de Crecy (then 
in America campaigning for funds and volunteers) Esther 
had also gone as a nurse and had remained in France with 
Gladys for three years. While there she had co-jointly 
with Gladys legally adopted the infant Frangois, whom they 
had taken from one of the many Paris institutions that the 
War was constantly overcrowding with parentless children. 

Gladys had made her work as historian of her step-sister 
as brief as possible. She was eager to get to her own 

“Cordie, as I told you, I’ve been herding by myself too 
much these last two or three years, and I feel I’ve been all 
wrong. Oh, of course, I had good reasons,” she justified 
herself. This last came out with tense suddenness, but she 
did not enlarge upon her reasons. “But I can’t stand things 
that way any longer. I’ve got a new program scheduled. 
I’m going out a lot, and there’s going to be some life at this 
place. Lots and lots of people. That’s what I want you to 
help do—put life into this place.” 

To do just this had long been Cordelia’s business as a 
guest. “You can count on me to do what I can. And I 
think you are right in deciding to have your friends about 

“I’ve spoken to a few already.” She hesitated. “Jerry 



Plimpton has promised to come. But when he promised, 
he of course knew you were to be here.” 

“What I said about him that night out at Jackie Thorn¬ 
dike’s still goes with me, Gladys. You and I are not going 
to have any difficulty about a man.” 

Until almost midnight they discussed plans for the social 
revolution at Rolling Meadows. Long after she was in bed 
Cordelia lay thinking about this household which for its own 
good, so she believed, she had been set to study and to watch: 
—Esther Stevens—the unobtrusive, ever-present Mitchell— 
the child Frangois—and, yes, Gladys. Some puzzling ques¬ 
tions emerged from her patient thinking. Why should 
Esther Stevens, good-looking enough, by nature independent, 
competent, any real or sentimental obligation she may have 
owed Gladys now fully paid off, remain here in what was 
practically a position of dependence?—for Gladys had again 
made plain that Esther had not a cent of her own. And 
Gladys herself: now that she was concentrating upon the 
matter, wasn’t it more and more odd that Gladys had main¬ 
tained a rather distant attitude toward her friends all these 
years ? 

At length, wearied with self-questioning, Cordelia fell 
asleep, only to find herself after a time sitting up in bed, 
suddenly awake, with the sense that she had just heard the 
sharp cry of a woman. This was followed instantly by her 
definitely hearing the commanding voice of a man. The 
words she could not make out. She sat for a long moment 
straining her ears, but after that dominant male voice there 
was only silence. 

Obeying an impulse, she got quickly out of bed and into 
a dressing-gown and slippers. She crossed to the door and 
cautiously peered forth. The hall was lighted but empty. 
She stepped through the door, silently closed it, and re- 



mained in a moment’s indecision as to which direction her 
search should take her. As she so stood, around a corner 
toward her came the noiseless Mitchell dressed in the 
formal clothes he had worn at dinner. Startled, she shrank 
back against the door, but he showed no slightest surprise 
as he approached her. 

‘‘Is there something I can get for you, Miss Marlowe?’” 
he asked in his even voice. 

She had recovered enough to have ready a fib explaining 
her presence abroad. “No, thank you, I couldn’t sleep, so 
I thought I’d go out for a little air.” 

“Frangois has been having a restless night; I was just go¬ 
ing to see if I was needed,” he said, and with a bow he 
passed on. 

To turn her fib into the semblance of truth, Cordelia went 
down and stood on the porch for several minutes; then she 
slipped back into her room and into bed. The man’s voice 
she had heard had undoubtedly been Mitchell’s. Rut the 
woman’s voice—if there really had been a voice—had it been 
Gladys’ or Esther’s? 

She wished Mr. Franklin had been more open with her 
and given her more of his knowledge of the situation in the 
household of his client and her friend. It was difficult to 
help Mr. Franklin straighten out this situation, starting as 
she was in utter ignorance. But Mr. Franklin was right in 
the main fact he had told her: there certainly was something 
strange here. 

She thought and thought. Morning was beginning to 
break before her tired brain slipped into a swoon of weari¬ 
ness and she slept again. And when she woke her mind 
instantly returned to that outcry of a woman—the man’s 
commanding voice—Mitchell prowling about fully dressed. 
And again she considered Gladys—Esther Stevens—the at- 



titude of each toward their partnered son—the boy’s ready 
acceptance of the care of the neutral-tinted butler. 

For a brief space she had an impulse to go to Mr. Frank¬ 
lin, in compliance with his request that she report upon 
every slightest detail. But she decided against this course; 
as yet she had only faintest shadows, and one cannot trans¬ 
port or communicate a shadow. For the present she would 
just wait and watch: watch without seeming to notice any¬ 
thing. She must be very adroit; always very, very adroit. 

On this second day, in the casual manner one may use in 
discussing servants, Cordelia again asked Gladys about her 
butler. Again Gladys quickly veered from the subject, 
as she had done the previous night at dinner. This was 
further confirmation of Cordelia’s suspicion that there was 
more to Mitchell’s place in the household than merely be¬ 
ing its butler. 

Cordelia made a careful survey of the other fifteen serv¬ 
ants at Rolling Meadows. They all seemed no more than 
just the better class of servants that are to be found in rich 
families; they respected Mitchell, and gave him prompt 
obedience, for they recognized him as an able, experienced 
domestic commander; none of them, Cordelia judged, had 
any part in the mystery she suspected. The same conclu¬ 
sion she reached concerning Jeanne; Jeanne was just a high 
type of the well-trained French governess—nothing more. 
So all of them Cordelia dismissed from her consideration. 

Mitchell, of the servants, was in this mystery alone—if 
mystery there really was. And every day her interest was 
more and more intrigued by the butler. Was that butler’s 
face of his merely a mask? Did the mask ever slip off? 
What sort of person would be revealed if ever that mask 
did slip its strings? 

This increased interest was due partly to her sense that, 



from the first day, Mitchell had several times been watching 
her. She could feel his eyes intent upon her. She throb- 
bingly wondered if he suspected her: suspected that she sus¬ 
pected him. But when she quickly turned toward him, he 
was busy about some butler’s task and not even facing to¬ 
ward her, or else he was approaching her, his face its usual 
butler’s mask, with the offer of some trifling butler’s ser¬ 
vice. She never once caught him gazing at her, never sur¬ 
prised on his features an unbutler-like look. And yet she 
was certain—certain!—that he was observing her, thinking 
of her. 

Why should Mitchell be studying her? 

There was another item that added to her curiosity. On 
that first night when Francois had gone off so gladly with 
Mitchell, Gladys explained this willingness by saying that 
Francois took to everybody. Cordelia noted that this was 
not the fact. The boy got on well with all the servants; 
but Mitchell was his preference over them all, even over 
his governess. He would even slip away from Gladys and 
Esther to be with Mitchell. 

To this study there came a brief interruption, the reunion 
of the class of T6 of Harcourt Hall. Cordelia went to this 
with warm eagerness. Without her being fully conscious of 
the fact, the school had been the strongest single influence in 
Cordelia’s life since the death of her father. The reason 
for this is fairly obvious. For four years (except for vaca¬ 
tions, which she had mostly spent with school friends) she 
had lived there continuously, and since fourteen no other 
place in which she had been had had a like quality of perma¬ 
nence. Except for those four years she seemed always to be 
visiting; even her stays at home had the character of brief 
visits. At Harcourt Hall alone had she really unpacked and 
settled down. In consequence it seemed more of a home to 



her than the expensive apartment on Park Avenue which her 
mother maintained as the most important item of that family 
appearance which she had to show the world. 

Besides Gladys, Jackie Thorndike, Ailine Harkness and a 
score of other T6 girls were present. In every detail that 
day was a triumph for Cordelia; as presiding officer, she 
knew just how to handle these wilful young women; and for 
their part, they fairly smothered the heroine of their school 
days in their enthusiasm. It was “Good old Cordie! ,, and 
“Just as ugly as ever, old dear!” and impulsive flinging of 
arms about her all through the day. 

It was all so splendid to Cordelia; it flushed her with warm 
affection for her friends, and with confidence in her own 
powers. She felt that she could do anything—anything! 

At the end of the afternoon she had a few minutes alone 
with that thoroughly-stayed figure of dignified portliness that 
was Miss Harcourt, whose manner toward her was august 
but deferential. Once in an impulsive moment during her 
last school year Cordelia had kissed the rarely kissed cheek 
of Miss Harcourt and had thereby almost unposed that lady; 
but although Miss Harcourt was still an important person 
to her, and although Cordelia was warmly alive with good 
wishes for her former preceptress, Cordelia made no at¬ 
tempt to kiss Miss Harcourt now. 

“I’m so glad you were with us to-day, Miss Cordelia,” 
Miss Harcourt said in her model of drawing-room gracious¬ 
ness. “I have designs on you. You know I still consider 
you one of the best products of Harcourt Hall—in fact the 
very best—and I am always talking about you. Can’t you 
run out again to-morrow? I’d like to arrange a little affair 
for you to meet some of my younger girls informally. They 
have heard much about you, they are very eager, and will be 
highly complimented.” 



Cordelia was herself highly complimented. “Fm very 
sorry, Miss Harcourt, but my engagements won’t permit my 
coming.” Miss Harcourt was also deeply disappointed. 
Little more was said—there was no time for it. Cordelia 
congratulated Miss Harcourt on the success of the school 
during the year now ending, and wished it an endless succes¬ 
sion of successful years. Miss Harcourt thanked her, and 
when Cordelia started away she said: 

“I hope your sister will make as good a name for herself 
here as you have, and I hope that she will be as happy here.” 

“Fm sure she will be. Good-by, Miss Harcourt.” 

“Good-by, my dear,” replied Miss Harcourt, in that voice 
that was a model of dignity and deference. “And remem¬ 
ber, Miss Cordelia—any time you can come, it will be an 
honor to us.” 

Outside Cordelia experienced difficulty in breaking away 
from her school friends. As her car rolled away, Jackie 
turned to the group on the verandah steps and cried, “Al¬ 
together, fellows—three cheers for Cordie Marlowe!” The 
cheers that instantly followed almost choked Cordelia and 
there were tears in her eyes as she turned and flung a kiss. 
It was a wonderful place, good old Harcourt Hall! The 
gracious lawn, the stately trees, the drive that curved among 
them, all moved her deeply. And when she went through 
the iron gates, and the precise old porter who had known 
her since her hair was in a braid, raised his cap to her with 
a permissible smile of friendship, she was almost impelled to 
fling him a kiss. Yes, Harcourt Hall was really a wonder¬ 
ful place! 



The days of adroit watching that followed brought no 
new incidents and revealed few new facts. But they con¬ 
firmed Cordelia’s first impression that there was a hidden 
something at Rolling Meadows, and confirmed and enlarged 
her first impressions of the people. Gladys was fitfully gen¬ 
erous and gay, fitfully cross and impatient; now that Cor¬ 
delia was seeing her intimately, she noted that Gladys 
seemed constantly under a nervous strain, for which the 
planning of the coming party seemed hardly an adequate 
explanation. The more Cordelia saw of Esther Stevens, 
the more she liked the quiet step-sister. On several oc¬ 
casions Esther spoke in amusement of herself; she had been 
engaged before the War—had been jilted for a handsomer 
woman with a handsome inheritance—an old maid had to 
do something with her broken heart, so she had brought the 
fragments to Gladys. She was congenitally lazy, she said, 
so she had remained with Gladys ever since. To Cordelia 
she seemed so competent that Cordelia could hardly believe 
she was here just for a pensioner’s ease. 

The outstanding fact Cordelia noted about Esther was 
her love for the adopted Francois. Her love seemed far 
greater than that of Gladys. Had she been the boy’s actual 
mother she could not have shown greater concern in every 
detail that affected him. And Frangois plainly loved her 
better than his other mother; really liked her better than 




he did Mitchell, despite his delight in being with the butler; 
perhaps this delight, so guessed Cordelia, was due merely to 
the fact that Mitchell was the only man about the house to 
whom the boy could turn. 

Cordelia could hardly understand the devotion of Esther 
to the adopted orphan. Had she been wiser in human na¬ 
ture, she might have surmised that the strongest element in 
Esther was the maternal instinct, and, denied outlet upon a 
child of her own, this great maternal feeling had turned its 
full power upon the foundling. 

Cordelia’s freshest experience these days was with little 
Francois. From the first he adopted her as his third mother, 
and she fell in love with him. This was altogether novel 
for her. She had never really come in contact with a child, 
much less played with one. The eight years difference be¬ 
tween her and her sister Lily had been a chasm which had 
never been bridged. Of course she had always had a real 
affection for Lily, but for nearly ten years she had been al¬ 
most constantly away from home. So now it was that 
Francois was the first child that had vitally entered her life 
—and what a dear Frangois was. 

As for her own part in this problem, this mystery, Cor¬ 
delia considered herself as entirely outside it, except in so 
far as it was a problem which she was to solve. Of course 
this affair meant, in its secret financial aspect, her remaining 
up in her splendid world—in the world where she was go¬ 
ing to meet Jerry Plimpton as she had been meeting him. 
Also she felt excitement in the adventure; gratification in 
the exercise of her faculties for succeeding in anything she 
tried to do. She was going to solve this problem—some¬ 
how! No doubt of that! Also she wished to extricate 
Gladys, or whoever else might be involved in the mystery. 
But beyond these considerations, excited and intrigued 

7 o 


though she was, Cordelia did not feel herself personally in¬ 
volved in the affair. She was entirely outside the picture, 
looking for what the moving figures within the frame might 
next do, and trying to learn what might be the motives that 
prompted their actions, and what might be their various re¬ 

It never occurred to Cordelia that this particular mystery 
might not be a thing apart to itself; that it might really be, 
for her, no more than a minor element in a far more im¬ 
portant mystery. In her unsophisticated sophistication Cor¬ 
delia did not realize that Gladys and the household at Roll¬ 
ing Meadows perhaps represented merely the ordinary mys¬ 
tery, if there was a mystery, of relationships that are care¬ 
fully kept secret:—just a few facts which are temporarily 
concealed, and whose mere discovery may make an end of 
all that is mysterious. This belief that she was not per¬ 
sonally concerned, together with her exuberant confidence 
in herself, prevented her from suspecting that she and all 
her destiny might already have been subtly drawn into 
this affair, and that this story had grown to be primarily 
her story. And this belief, this confidence, and the blind¬ 
ness with which life shuts off the realities of our future 
from us all, prevented her from perceiving that this busi¬ 
ness upon which she was so impersonally engaged was, more 
than any other series of experiences of her existence, to 
shape and determine the answer to life's most dramatic 
theme and question: What kind of person was Cordelia 
Marlowe going to turn out to be ? What was to be her fate ? 

Despite all Cordelia’s trying to note every look, every in¬ 
flection of tone, every act of these people, it was not until 
she had been at Rolling Meadows a week that she gained 
her first clue to the realities of the situation. Toward eleven 
o’clock one night she caught a swift questioning look which 



Gladys gave Esther, and saw Esther's almost imperceptible 
nod. Instantly Cordelia’s every sense was on the alert. 
She pretended a yawn, said she was going to get a book 
from the library with which to read herself to sleep. With 
the book she ascended the main stairway with the tired man¬ 
ner of one to whom a few pages will be an infallible sleeping 
potion. Inside her room she dropped the book, slipped out¬ 
side again, locked her door, and carefully made her way 
down the hall toward a little-used stairway in the western 
wing. Fortune favored her, for she gained the porch un¬ 

Standing in a corner of the porch in the black shadow of 
thick wistaria, not even feeling the chill that had come with 
night, Cordelia waited in rigid expectancy, peering in every 
direction into the gloom-flooded lawn. She had an insist¬ 
ent, pounding sense that something was about to happen, 
something about to be revealed to her; and she felt a con¬ 
viction that the something, be it big or small, was not go¬ 
ing to transpire in the illumined walls of the big house. 
Minutes throbbed by; a half hour; an hour. Then from 
the shadows of the house there emerged a vague figure and 
hurried away to the right, avoiding the path and keeping 
to the silent lawn. It was a woman’s figure; no doubt of 
it—Gladys. Its blurred outlines swiftly faded into the night. 

Cordelia still waited. More minutes passed, then hurry¬ 
ing from the house through the gloom of the lawn Cordelia 
saw another vague figure. This also was a woman, and 
indubitably Esther Stevens. She dissolved into the night 
at about the same point Gladys had entered the blackness. 
Undoubtedly they were headed for the same spot and ac¬ 
cording to agreement; but what was there that these two 
had to say to each other that they could not say as safely in 
the whispered privacy of one of their rooms? The obvious 

7 2 


answer was that they were to meet a third person, or pos¬ 
sibly a fourth. 

With mounting tensity Cordelia waited for another 
shadowy figure to cross the lawn. Minutes passed. But 
no figure traversed the darkness. And then it came to her 
that the other person or persons might have been waiting 
over there in the unknown blackness before she had come 
out upon the verandah. She delayed no longer, but went 
swiftly down the steps and across the lawn in the direction 
taken by the other two. 

As she hurried she wondered where might be the rendez¬ 
vous. Almost any spot in the groping blackness of the 
pine wood; to find them there was well-nigh hopeless. And 
then Cordelia realized the direction she was taking, and sud¬ 
denly she remembered something. 

Near the limit of the lawn, and sitting almost in the edge 
of the pine woods, there stood a playhouse built for Gladys 
when she was ten years old and used by her for two or three 
years when in the occasional mood for playing at keeping 
house. It was really as large as many a comfortable sum¬ 
mer cottage, and had cost the indulgent mother of Gladys 
above fifteen thousand dollars. When Gladys had outgrown 
the toy, its chambers had been converted into bedrooms for 
the use of guests when the big house’s week-end hospital¬ 
ity was overflowing. In recent years there had been no oc¬ 
casion for such use, but it had been kept in order. 

Cordelia recognized, since she was headed straight for it, 
that the playhouse was the logical place of meeting. She 
moved carefully around to its farther side, for she remem¬ 
bered that the windows of the living-room faced toward a 
little clearing in the pines. There were no lights. She 
crept up toward the heart of a great syringa bush which 
grew against the house. Cautious as she was, she rustled 



the leaves slightly, and her over-acute ears magnified that 
shuffling of leaves to the clatter of cymbals. Her heart grew 
suddenly still. She was sure she had been heard. 

But there came no sign from the house. More cautiously, 
she crept further in and tried to make herself a part of 
the syringa bush’s arching branches. And then a leaping 
thrill went through her like a current of electricity. She 
had guessed right!—and luck still was with her ! A window 
was open and through it came lowered voices. 

In her excitement she did not catch the first words; but 
the voice was Gladys’ and it was angry, loud. The first 
words she really heard were in a man’s voice—a cool, steady 

“Soft pedal your talk a bit, Gladys,” said the voice. 
“You’re not using the best sense in the world in crying out 
like this—and the way you did the other night. The other 
night you got Miss Marlowe out of bed. I don’t mind it 
so much, but it’s not particularly safe for you.” 

Cordelia almost gasped aloud as she recognized this quiet 
voice. It had the quality of authority, of assured mastery 
over those it addressed. It was the voice of Mitchell, the 
self-effacing, ever-present, soft-toned Mitchell—that perfect 

“You don’t expect me to take any such talk from you 
calmly!” exclaimed Gladys, in a lower tone. 

“You must acquire better control of your nerves, my 
dear,” responded Mitchell. Though assured, his voice had 
an easy, pleasant, affable quality. “I must say that you have 
lost a lot in the matter of nerves in the last five years. And 
I must say that you’re making things rather absurd when 
your nerves make it necessary to arrange to slip off to a place 
like this when a private talk is necessary. Esther here has 
far better control. You should try to copy it, my dear.” 



“Will you please stop ‘my clearing’ me?” cried Gladys in 
exasperation. “I’m tired of it!” 

“Anything to please you, Gladys. Though I can’t give 
bond for my tongue; it’s got a frightful memory.” 

“And another thing,” the exasperated Gladys went on. 
“I want you—and so does Esther—to stop making up to 

“Do you, Esther?” Mitchell inquired. 

If Esther made any reply it did not come to Cordelia’s 

“Anyhow—what is behind your always trying to make 
Francois so fond of you?” Gladys demanded. 

“I like the boy, and I like to make him happy, as I have 
told you. Isn’t that reason enough?” 

“Not reason enough for you!” 

“Well, of course there might be other considerations 
prompting my kindness.” His tone was meditative, still 
pleasant; Cordelia could guess how provoking that pleasant 
quality was to Gladys. “Who knows, I may be thinking 
of the desirability of some day kidnapping Frangois.” 

“I wouldn’t put it beyond you to try!” 

“And if I should try, it would make the business very 
much easier, and less dangerous, now wouldn’t it, my dear— 
beg pardon, Gladys; I forgot I wasn’t to call you my dear— 
much less dangerous, if Frangois came along of his own 
accord because he liked me so much? A neat plan. I 
rather fancy that plan.” 

Neither of the two made response to this. 

“Or who knows, perhaps I am thinking of something else. 
For example, that I am getting ready to claim him as my 
own son.” 

“You wouldn’t dare!” burst from Gladys in a choked 




“Mitchell—you’re not in earnest about any such claim!” 
breathed Esther. 

Cordelia could not tell whether he was in earnest, or merely 
taking his pleasure in exercising his power over these two. 
He responded to neither of them, and went on in his pleas¬ 
ant, meditative tones. 

“That last idea is decidedly good. It would make a most 
convincing and affecting newspaper story. Father enters do¬ 
mestic service in search of son lost in war chaos of France. 
Relationship proved by the instinctive affection between the 
two; a slightly different version of the ancient Solomon-and- 
two-mothers stunt. Yes, indeed, most affecting and convinc¬ 
ing situation. On the whole I believe I like this plan much 
better than any I have thought of. It’s safer—and there may 
be much more in it. Yes, when I get good and ready I think 
I’ll claim my son.” 

“You’ll never get him away from me?” said Esther. 

“Try that, and I’ll fight you!” exclaimed Gladys. 

“Fight me? Oh, will you, Gladys, my dear?” Mitchell 
said softly. “Now will you? I do wish you’d try that 
course. It would be most interesting to match evidence with 
you in court, my dear—most interesting!” 

Neither of the women spoke. 

“Yes,” said Mitchell, in his soft, meditative tone, “I think I 
like this plan best. I’ll claim Frangois as my son.” 

There was silence for a moment or more. Cordelia was 
sure that, in her tense eagerness, she had rustled the syringa 
bush. But if so, there was no immediate sign that she had 
been heard within. 

Esther was the next to speak. “Suppose we change 
the subject and get to the matter Gladys wanted to talk 

“Just as pleases the two of you,” said Mitchell. “But be- 

7 e> 


fore getting on to that—Gladys, how about that money you 
were to give me ?” 

“You’ve had altogether too much out of me as it is!” 

“You’d have given me ever so much more if I’d only asked 
for it, my dear,” returned the pleasant voice of Mitchell. 
“Oh, ever and ever so much more, and you know it.” 

“See here, you listen to what—” Gladys began hotly, but 
was interrupted by the equable voice of her butler. 

“My dear, if I’ve got to listen to much more I believe I’ll 
first close the window. It’s getting chilly, and there’s a draft, 
and the draft must be directly upon Esther’s back.” 

The window came down with a soft thud, and Cordelia 
heard no more. She wondered what they were saying with¬ 
in, but she had already heard enough to astound her. The 
subservient Mitchell on a basis of equality with Gladys 
and Esther—perhaps of superiority over them! What could 
it mean? What was the true relationship among the three? 

She recognized that her own immediate problem was to get 
back to the house unobserved. But the trio within might 
finish any moment, qnd start for the house. The safe 
course for her, if she would avoid all danger of discovery, 
was to remain where she was until the three had departed. 
So she stood in the enfolding arms of the syringa bush, pal- 
pitantly wondering, fearing to breathe fully, waiting until 
the way was clear. 



She stood a motionless dryad among the branches for half 
an hour, until each stiffened leg had changed into a column of 
prickling anguish. But at last she heard the three leave the 
house, one after another. She waited on despite the torture 
of limbs that had gone to sleep, until finally she judged that 
her path was safe. She parted the branches and attempted 
to step outward, only to have the paralyzed legs collapse and 
send her .toppling to the soft earth. 

For several moments she lay there, a helpless agonized 
cripple. That was an absurd anti-climax to such an adven¬ 
ture—her legs asleep!—but the discomfort of that condition 
was a mild sensation compared to the dismay she felt when, 
after swaying tinglingly across the lawn, she found that all 
the doors of the darkened house were locked. She had never 
thought of this contingency, so had not brought her latchkey, 
and Mitchell, after his return, had seen to his butler’s duty of 
securing the house for the night. 

She was locked out! What should she do ? 

Her legs still unsteady beneath her, she leaned against the 
door jamb, considering. She thought of ringing the bell; 
but, no, that wouldn’t do—it might in some way lead the three 
to suspect that she had been eavesdropping upon them. She 
thought of sleeping in one of the guest-rooms out in the play¬ 
house and returning to her own room when the servants 
opened the house in the morning; but this would not do 




either, for such a procedure might rouse just as much 
suspicion as ringing the bell. She was even thinking of 
getting out her car and driving into the city when— 

All the while that she had stood there thinking, she had 
been mechanically fumbling at the knob of the main door, un¬ 
consciously rattling it; and now, suddenly, the overhead 
porch light went on, and this body of hers she had been so 
frantically thinking how to conceal was now no more of a 
secret than a statue stark against the sun. The door 
swung open, and before her stood Mitchell. There was no 
surprise or other emotion in his face; it was that butler’s face 
in which she had as yet seen no alteration. 

“Pardon me for locking you out, Miss Marlowe,” he said 
in his impersonal servant’s voice—so unlike that cool, as¬ 
sured voice which had been coming to her through the open 
window. “I thought every one was in.” 

She was afraid she had been caught. Also she felt very 
absurd. She had to attempt some explanation, since she had 
publicly announced two hours before that she was going to 
bed; but the only words she found in her mouth were those 
same words that had stumbled awkwardly forth that first 
time she had slipped from her room in the middle of the night 
and had encountered him. 

“I couldn’t sleep, so I went out for a walk in the air.” 

Her words sounded most unconvincing to her. He : 
seemed to accept them. 

“There’s nothing better for sleeplessness, Miss Marlowe,” 
he said. 

She stepped inside on her still uncertain legs. He closed I 
the door. 

“It’s rather late, and perhaps you are hungry. Shall I get ■ 
you a little something?” 

“No, thank you, Mitchell. Good-night.” 



“Good-night, Miss Marlowe.” 

She started for the stairway. And then her tingling, un¬ 
dependable legs buckled under her again, and the next mo¬ 
ment she was sitting on the floor. Instantly he was on his 
knees beside her. 

“You’re hurt—you’re sick!” he cried. 

For the first time, before her, his butler’s grave imperson¬ 
ality had left him. Face and voice were alive with quick 
concern. Even though Cordelia had just been listening to 
him when he had certainly talked like no butler, she was 
nevertheless startled by this swift transformation—by this 
glimpse at some one else. 

She tried to cover the absurdity of her posture on the 
floor with a little laugh; and in explanation she told a half- 

“I’m not sick or hurt. I got tired walking and sat down 
on the ground. My legs went to sleep—that’s all.” 

She tried to struggle to her feet. That other person that 
Mitchell had been, departed as swiftly as he had come, and 
Mitchell was once more the butler. 

“Let me help you, Miss Marlowe,” he said, slipping his 
hands beneath her arms. 

“Oh, I can make it all right.” 

“You really need assistance,” and he lifted her to her feet. 
“And I’d better help you to your room.” 

She protested; but with his servant’s formality he insisted. 
And so they went up the stairway, she clinging to the banister 
with one hand, his two hands beneath her shoulders with one 
arm across her back. There was no more attempt at famili¬ 
arity in those hands than if they had been the hands of a 
traffic policeman helping a woman across a slippery street, 
or than if she had been a faltering lady of eighty. But Cor¬ 
delia was for some reason acutely conscious of those hands, 



not helping her too much, but alert for her to topple and 
strong as steel if she should need such support. 

“Thank you very much, Mitchell,” she said at the door. 

“Good-night, Miss Marlowe.” 

But as she started in, he spoke again. 

“I beg your pardon—I wonder if I might venture to tell 
you something—ask you something ?” 

At this her heart raced wildly and she stared at him. But 
his expression was exactly as before; impersonal, respectful. 

“Of course you may. Go on.” 

He seemed to consider for a moment. 

“After all perhaps I T d better not, Miss Marlowe. Thank¬ 
ing you just the same. Good-night.” 

“Good-night, Mitchell.” 

She slipped through her door, locked it, and stood leaning 
weakly against it. Two dominant questions pulsed through 
her. What was the thing Mitchell had been on the point of 
telling her, or asking her, and about which he had decided to 
remain silent ? And did Mitchell suspect what she had really 
been doing that night ?—what was her real purpose at Rolling 
Meadows ? 

Presently she managed to get into bed, and she lay there 
excitedly thinking, trying to arrange in order the fragments 
she had discovered that night, and from the fragments trying 
to reconstruct the whole. This last she was unable to do, but 
four facts stood out, clear, indisputable. 

First, there was a real mystery here at Rolling Meadows. 

Second, that adopted French war orphan, Francois, was 
somehow involved in the mystery—perhaps was its heart. 

Third, Mitchell was the real master at Rolling Meadows. 
He had some secret hold over both Gladys and Esther, and 
through that secret he was able to demand money and get it. 



He was not merely the perfect buttering automaton. He 
was a clever man; a man of education; he had talked like a 
man of the world. He had seemed to be what is usually 
termed a gentleman; perhaps fairly decent, perhaps very evil; 
but undeniably a gentleman. And with all this, he was un¬ 
deniably a trained butler. 

Fourth, Gladys had implied that she had known Mitchell 
for only a year. From the overheard conversation it was 
clear she and Esther had known Mitchell for five years, and 
known him well; perhaps intimately—perhaps very inti¬ 
mately. That is, they had known Mitchell from about the 
time they had gone to France. 

So much was fact. The rest was conjecture. And what 
a world of conjecture Cordelia’s mind traversed in swift 
excitement. Each question was in itself an unexplored con¬ 

Who was Mitchell—really? What sort of a man was the 
real Mitchell? A semi-scoundrel or a villain competent to 
conceive and manage a great scheme, and who was now 
managing it? 

What was the character of Mitchell’s secret hold upon 
Gladys and Esther? 

Who was Frangois—really? 

Could Mitchell be the father of the boy, as his light re¬ 
marks in the playhouse might suggest? If so, that relation¬ 
ship might explain the boy’s fondness for Mitchell. But, 
against this presumption, there were Gladys and Esther both 
claiming Frangois as their adopted son. 

Could the explanation be that Mitchell had been secretly 
married, in France, to one of the two and that Frangois 
was the son of that marriage? No—such a conjecture was 
plainly preposterous. Gladys wanted to marry Jerry Plimp¬ 
ton, and the clever Mitchell must know of this matrimonial 



ambition. And as for Esther, the quiet, poiseful Esther did 
not behave in the least as if she had married Mitchell; 
and if there had been a marriage, there seemed no sane rea¬ 
son why such a person as Esther should hide both the mar¬ 
riage and her maternity. 

Cordelia could not find answers to these questions. But 
behind those questions was a relationship, a situation, that 
bulked big—tremendously big! She had made great prog¬ 
ress in getting at this mystery. And she was going to 
clear up the whole of it. No doubt of that! 

At last she had something worth while to report to Mr. 
Franklin. She would see him the next morning—as early 
as she could make it. 

Finally Cordelia fell into a light, restless sleep. 

At half-past nine she was at the wheel of her roadster 
bound for the city. As explanation for the trip she had 
mentioned casually to Gladys that she had an appointment 
in town with her mother that morning; and had protected 
herself by actually making an engagement by telephone to 
meet her mother at their Park Avenue apartment at twelve. 

At half-past ten, throbbing with excitement over her 
achievement and also with suspense as to how Mr. Franklin 
would take her report, Cordelia was ushered into Franklin’s 
office. The quality of professional reserve which had struck 
her on her first meeting as Mr. Franklin’s outstanding charac- 
tertisic, vanished at sight of her. He greeted her with a 
frank, cordial smile—though not too cordial. She had an 
impression that he looked younger and more spirited than on 
her previous visits, though he had then looked no more than 
his actual thirty-five; perhaps years had been cut off his ap¬ 
pearance by the fresh candor of his smile, perhaps by his 
smartly cut gray suit. 



"I’ve been hoping you wouldn’t forget your promise to 
call when you were in town,” he said, as he pushed a chair 
into place for her. 

'‘This isn’t a call. Not a social one anyway. I’ve come 
on business. To tell you what I’ve learned.” 

"Then you have learned something already?” 

"I think I have. And something big! But you are to 
judge what it may be worth.” 

Excitedly, rapidly, Cordelia told of the conversation she 
had overheard the night before—of Mitchell’s hidden au¬ 
thority in the household—of Francois—of the possibility of 
there having been a secret marriage; and she outlined 
the possibilities, repeated the questions, that had come to her 
during the night. As he listened, Franklin was shot through 
with amazement. He had never dreamed of such results! 
But his surprise and exultation he concealed under a man¬ 
ner of pleased commendation. 

"What you have told me, Miss Marlowe,” he said, "helps 
much towards filling up the many holes in my information. 
You are helping me a great deal in this case. A very great 
deal, indeed.” 

From the day she had accepted Mr. Franklin’s commis¬ 
sion, Cordelia had felt absolutely confident of her ability to 
succeed. Nevertheless she relished this praise; and she would 
have liked it if the praise had been even stronger. 

"You are sure you are not disappointed in what I have 
done ?” 

That brought her just what she was hungry for. "How 
can I possibly be disappointed in you, Miss Marlowe? I 
expected much from you—very much, indeed—but you are 
doing far, far better than I ever expected! No one could 
possibly have improved upon what you have done!” 

8 4 


For a time they discussed the possibilities and the ques¬ 
tions Cordelia had propounded. This discussion ended, Cor¬ 
delia asked: 

“Have you any particular directions you wish to give me 
for my further action ?” 

“I'd like to have you pay especial attention to that butler 
Mitchell, and learn all you possibly can about him. He 
seems the center of things out there.” 

“I had intended watching him and studying him.” 

“Good. And of course you will do the same with Miss 
Norworth and Miss Stevens.” 

“Of course.” 

“I hardly need warn you that you must be most care¬ 
ful not to let a soul suspect you. Not a soul must know 
your mission there, much less guess your connection with 

“Fll be most careful.” 

“Another point. Concerning that week-end party you said 
Miss Norworth is going to give.” Cordelia had told him of 
Gladys’ plans for a larger hospitality, and that Gladys’ first 
function under this new program was to be a party over 
the following week-end. “I’d like very much to size up the 
individuals in this case, and I might have a better chance 
while a party is going on than when they are alone and on 
their guard. I presume you can secure me an invitation? 
As a”—he hesitated—“as one of your friends? It would 
be much better,” he hastened to explain, “if they were not 
to suspect that I was there for a business reason.” 

“I can invite any one I wish. Only—only the people there 
—my old friends, you know—may be a little surprised at my 
knowing you as a friend. You see, following out the spirit 
of your instructions, I have never mentioned you to any one 
as a friend.” 



Franklin perceived that he had been trying to move too 
rapidly. “Perhaps then it will be wisef if I write you to¬ 
ward the latter part of the week that I wish to consult you 
at once concerning your affairs. You of course cannot come 
into town, and that will give you an excuse to ask me out 
Saturday. I will then come out as your attorney, and not as 
a friend or guest. In a few hours I can probably gain all 
the first-hand impressions I desire.” 

To this Cordelia agreed. 

“Won’t you let me return this hospitality in advance, by 
being your host at lunch to-day? Your mother and sister 
are lunching with me—a matter of business.” 

Cordelia pleaded another engagement. As a matter of 
fact, on her way to Franklin’s office, she had stopped to 
telephone Jerry Plimpton and he had promptly asked her to 
lunch with him at the Grantham. 

“Some other time, then,” Franklin rose with her. “One 
moment, please. I am still the only person who knows about 
your situation? Your financial situation, I mean.” 


“I am glad of that. I must remind you to continue the 
same reticence; and must remind you that the success of our 
business arrangement necessarily depends upon your keeping 
your social position as Miss Cordelia Marlowe. I hope you 
don’t mind”—he smiled pleasantly—'“my being a partner 
in your secret ?” 

“Why, no,” she said. It had not before occurred to her 
as a definite thought that he was the only person who knew 
her secret; and it did not then occur to her that his pleas¬ 
ant mention of it was a part of a skillful effort to develop 
in her a growing sense that they two were bound together. 

He saw her out with his gracious courtesy which did not 
presume too far. And then before calling in Kedmore to 



give his partner the news, he walked over to one of his lofty 
windows and excitedly gazed down at the broad panorama 
of the outspread city, seeing none of it. God, what a gold 
mine this was he had stumbled upon!—stumbled upon with¬ 
out ever seriously thinking it was there—and stumbled upon 
it through merely having sent Cordelia Marlowe to Rolling 
Meadows to fill her time till he found a worth-while case to 
put her on. That just went to prove how right was the 
working principle he had so often outlined to Kedmore: 
that almost every rich and high-placed family had a skeleton 
in its closet; just discover the skeleton, and the frantic family 
would pay anything to be allowed to keep that skeleton in the 
closet and keep the closet locked. The family closets of the 
rich—those were indeed the world’s richest gold mines, if 
carefully worked! 

And what a find, what a piece of luck, was this beautiful, 
popular, self-confident Cordelia Marlowe! The ideal instru¬ 
ment for working such mines! 

But it was not over his particular Golconda, nor over 
Cordelia as an instrument for precious mining, that Frank¬ 
lin was now most excited. His highest excitement was over 
Cordelia just as Cordelia; over a somewhat different arrange¬ 
ment for her. In the days which had passed since he had 
first met Cordelia and had conceived his bold plan for using 
her, that plan had become a dozen times bolder and more 
embracing. Instead of merely representing a hope for fi¬ 
nancial gain, his plan now represented the sum of all his 

New York City, that crowded goal of great and strange 
ambitions, contained no man with an ambition more calcu¬ 
lated, more soaring, more multiform than Robert 
Franklin’s. He wanted money, of course, and was getting 



it; money was fundamental to all else. But more than 
money he wanted wide public recognition, wanted standing 
with the best society. Hard and shrewd worker at law, his 
leisure had been devoted to an intensive self-culture, includ¬ 
ing those superficial graces popular in a man. He was well 
up on all phases of art that were being talked about; was 
a devotee of opera, the horse show, the flow’er show, of all 
important first nights in the theater. His dancing he had 
developed under the highest-paid teachers, and each fall 
he had his steps remodeled by the smartest experts to ac¬ 
cord with the latest styles. He was as desirable a bridge 
partner as he was a dancing partner. He had made him¬ 
self, and had made himself carefully; and he had gone very 
far. But for some time he had realized that the further 
progress of a bachelor of no family would be inchingly slow 
unless he could secure for himself the magic wings of a 
fortunate marriage. 

And so it had come to him as an inspiration that he should 
marry Cordelia. He was making enough money, at least 
enough for present purposes; she had incomparable posi¬ 
tion. What a combination! And his good fortune had 
brought her right to his hand! Of course he would be 
patient and adroit and make the attentive love which every 
woman desires. And if this did not win her—well, if he 
skilfully played the cards she had unknowingly dealt him, 
and skilfully played the additional cards he was dealing 
himself, she would hardly care to refuse him. Of course 
he would not go to extremes unless extremes were necessary. 

His getting upon good terms with Mrs. Marlowe had 
been a clever thought. And he believed he had managed 
that business of going out to Rolling Meadows rather 
cleverly. The other guests there would undoubtedly re- 


gard him as Cordelia’s friend and would therefore be in¬ 
clined toward accepting him as one of themselves. That 
would help. 

Yes, he had, managed extremely well. In fact, marvel¬ 
lously well! 

As yet he did not perceive exactly how he was going to 
carry out his two seemingly contradictory ideas in regard 
to Cordelia: making her that amazingly valuable business 
ally which he had first planned that she should be—winning 
her for the wife who was to lift him to high position. But 
he would manage it—somehow. Yes, he would manage it! 



Mr. Franklin’s pleasant manner had had its carefully 
calculated effect upon Cordelia. As she drove up town 
she was thinking what a gentlemanly, considerately appre¬ 
ciative man he was. It was a pleasure to do one’s best for 
such a man. As far as she could she was going to be nice 
to him. In a social way, too. Perhaps he would like that. 

Cordelia felt immensely pleased. Within herself she was 
celebrating a national holiday that was all her own. 
The sense of power she had always had, the consciousness 
of her ability to do anything she set out to do, had just 
proved both its authenticity and its reliability. She had 
achieved what she had said she would achieve, and she would 
achieve all the rest. 

The memory of the dingy oblivion which had threatened 
her and her family only a week or two before, now returned 
to her, and she smiled. For a little while that menace, by 
its strangeness and unexpectedness, had had her flounder¬ 
ing ; but how she had risen to the emergency—how she had 
met the situation, saved it and conquered it! People of 
course could never know how she had mastered this emer¬ 
gency; but if they did know, they would certainly admit that 
she deserved in all seriousness that old half-humorous title 
of Cordelia the Magnificent. 

This day, on th@ whole, was one of the most satisfying 




days of Cordelia’s life. She was going to have far greater 
days—she knew that; but on this day she was filled with 
the glorious, expansive sense of being her full self. And 
so, with this sense of rich success and of having earned a 
day off, she enjoyed every moment that she moved with the 
heavy, sluggish traffic up Fifth Avenue, frequently held 
stationary at the curb by the commands of the semaphore 
towers. Her slow progress was a subdued, discreet ova¬ 
tion; the unofficial parade of a first citizeness—just what 
she had long been accustomed to whenever she moved 
through a crowd. Shoppers in halted cars gazed across 
at her; women on the sidewalk turned to stare and whispered 
eagerly to their companions. She knew just what they all 
were saying, even though their syllables did not carry to her 
ears. “Look—driving that red car; that’s Cordelia Marlowe 
*—the cleverest and handsomest young woman in New York 
Society.” “You’d know her from her pictures in the papers; 
she certainly looks the leader they say she is.” 

She was pleasantly conscious she looked her part. She 
liked these people; all of them. Yes, this was a wonderful 

Under this pleasant scrutiny she was waiting in the inter¬ 
locked traffic near Fortieth Street, when a man stepped to 
the side of her car, his head bared, his face a close-up of 
delight, his mouth a fount of conversation. It was Kyle 
Brandon, the motion-picture director-producer. Cordelia 
was really glad to see him. 

This Kyle Brandon, in his youth merely a poor relation of 
a socially important family (that still very important lady, 
Mrs. Phipps-Morse, was his aunt), had become a successful 
portrait painter of smart ladies; then he had gone into mo¬ 
tion-pictures as an art director. He had been the right man 



at the right time, and now, still under forty and looking even 
younger, he was reputed worth his millions and was the 
president and director-in-chief of the famous “Brandon 
Pictures.” He had what few other of the big motion pic¬ 
ture producers possess, social position. His social position 
was perhaps of the second order; but such as it was, it was 
indubitably genuine. 

He had a pink chubbiness of face, and he exuded vitality 
and confidence. If in manner he were a bit inclined toward 
the grandiose, that was doubtless the effect upon him of his 
glamorous business. 

Cordelia was again aware that the crowded street was 
staring; that the people were excitedly whispering that those 
two were the famous movie man, Kyle Brandon, and the 
famous society beauty, Cordelia Marlowe. And she sensed 
that Brandon was conscious of this public attention and that 
he liked it. She had an amused, flashing thought that he 
was sorry that one of his camera-men was not over there on 
the sidewalk shooting this effective picture. 

“This is a piece of luck, my meeting you,” Brandon was 
saying in his brisk, confident, ingratiating manner. “I was 
going to write you and ask you for a talk. About some¬ 
thing my aunt, Mrs. Phipps-Morse, has wished on me. She 
is giving a pageant—big thing of its sort—at her place near 
Huntington early in September. She’s trying to raise money 
for devastated France, or some French milk fund, or French 
orphans—don’t know just what. And I don’t know yet what 
the pageant’s going to be; she told me there was some fel¬ 
low, some poet, writing it for her. My aunt asked me to 
put the show on for her, be director-general, and of course 
I had to say yes. But this much I do know about that show, 
Miss Marlowe; I certainly want you in it, and if it shapes up 



right I’ll probably want you for the lead. And if I’m any 
good as a director, I’ll see that you get my best. How 
about it?” 

Cordelia could not help being pleased, used though she 
was to being singled out. A charity show, a society show, 
staged by the great Brandon—that should be an event in¬ 
deed ! 

“I’ll be glad to. That is, if you think I can do it.” 

“Of course you can! Then that’s all settled for the pres¬ 
ent,” Kyle Brandon could not long keep away from what 
he at times called his business, at other times reverently' 
called his art. “Tell you what, Miss Marlowe—why should 
you and I stop with this pageant ? Ever think of going into 
pictures ?” 

Cordelia laughed. “Pictures? I can’t act!” 

“How do you know? I bet you could! And with me 
directing you, I know you could!” He appraised her with 
admiring eyes. “Why, with me directing you, picking your 
story, getting you the right cast, launching you with the 
right publicity—you’d be a knockout! Society star deserts 
social life to become screen star—just think of that pub¬ 
licity! You’d be a sure-fire knockout!” 

Cordelia was pleasantly flattered, but her response was a 
soft laugh of unbelief. There had been a playful quality 
in Brandon’s words, for he knew that such a person as Cor¬ 
delia would not seriously consider anything in his business 
power to offer. None the less behind his half-jocular propo¬ 
sition he had a most serious and long-cherished idea. There 
would be publicity—wonderful publicity!—if he could get 
hold of a famous society beauty who could also act. What 
couldn’t he do with her, in the smart society dramas which 
were one of his specialties!—an actress who knew how to be 
the real lady when she acted a lady, and whom the eager 



public knew to be a real lady, instead of those damned, curs¬ 
ing, temperamental ex-waitresses and ex-chorus girls! 

“Oh, I hardly thought you’d take it seriously—not with 
what you have before you,” he conceded. “But it’s nothing 
to be laughed at. The money end’s not bad. I’m not pay¬ 
ing any Mary Pickford salaries, but among my people there 
are three girls working for me—all really nobodies—not one 
of whom had a fifth of the qualities to start with that you 
have right now; and of these three, each girl cleared over a 
hundred and fifty thousand last year.” 

“So much as that!” breathed Cordelia, mentally comparing 
the amount with her own income. 

“Not bad is it, for just letting some one point a camera 
at your face ? It’s worth thinking about, anyhow. Perhaps 
even you may some day change your mind. I want you to 
promise me one thing, in case you ever do.” 


“Promise to give Brandon Pictures the first chance at you. 
I’ll offer you a better contract than any other producer.” 

Again Cordelia laughed. “I guess I can promise that with 
perfect safety.” 

“You just bear that in mind—I have your promise! Lis¬ 
ten now”—and he smiled with that assurance, with that om¬ 
niscience and omnipotence which are the gift and aura of 
motion-picture directors and presidents—“if you’d come in 
with me, you’d soon be a star, writing your own salary 
check! And the bill-boards everywhere would be saying 
‘Kyle Brandon presents Cordelia Marlowe in Her Heart’s 
Desire.’ You’ll be a sensation! Wait and see!” 

Cordelia laughed again. Traffic began to move. 

“You’re coming out to Gladys Norworth’s for the week¬ 
end?” she called. “I’m staying there now.” 

“Then of course I’ll be there—to sign you up!” 



As she rolled slowly northward along the curb, Cordelia 
saw that which made her start. This was Mitchell, walking 
south. His gaze was fixed casually over her head; she was 
certain he had seen her; but he passed without meeting her 
eyes. She had thought herself prepared for anything from 
Mitchell, but she was none the less surprised to see the butler 
strolling along Fifth Avenue in smartly tailored blue serge, 
with malacca stick and yellow gloves, and looking as much 
the well-groomed man of the world as any she might see 
that morning upon the Avenue. 

Yes, as Mr. Franklin had said, Mitchell was decidedly a 
man to be most carefully watched and studied. 

For a moment her mind went back to their little scene of 
the night before: his letting her in when she had thought her¬ 
self locked out—the collapse of her palsied legs, her absurd 
sprawl upon the floor—the strong hands beneath her arms 
as he had helped her up the stairway. And yes—that some¬ 
thing he had started to tell her or ask her, and then had 
checked himself—what could that something have been? 

At twelve o’clock Cordelia was in their closed-up Park 
Avenue apartment, talking to her mother. Mrs. Marlowe 
was a kindly, warm-hearted lady, and she had the greatest 
affection and concern for her two daughters. She was no 
more than forty-five, her carefully coiffed yellow hair 
scarcely showed its gray, and she might have appeared a 
much younger and more elastic person except for her formal 
bearing. All her life she had functioned within the rigid 
and narrow frontiers of what a lady can do who has been 
brought up in profound respect of her own position and the 
position of a few others who were her equals. It had been 
hard work to maintain that appearance of unruffled stateli¬ 
ness these last dozen years; hard work, with unguessed cares, 


to maintain her daughters in such a position as would guar¬ 
antee their going on in such a position. 

Mrs. Marlowe had been coming into town anyway that 
day, so Cordelia’s message had not inconvenienced her. The 
talk of the two was almost wholly upon family matters. 
Mrs. Marlowe explained that she was in the city primarily on 
a shopping expedition which was to equip her younger 
daughter with additional summer accessories—dancing 
dresses were the main item—which Lily insisted were neces¬ 
sities for any girl of fifteen who was really, according to 
the standards of her day, a grown-up young lady. Fortu¬ 
nately, so Mrs. Marlowe said, she could get these dancing 
dresses at one of the shops where her credit was good for a 
year or more; and thus the purchases would be no immedi¬ 
ate drain upon the family income. 

This led to finances, that eternal Marlowe topic, and for 
a time they talked finance. And very naturally finances led 
to Mr. Franklin. 

Mrs. Marlowe was eloquent on the subject of Mr. Frank¬ 
lin. He had been most thoughtful, most reassuring; so 
kindly reassuring that she now looked upon the future with¬ 
out a single financial worry, except of course the care re¬ 
quired to live upon such a straightened income as thirty 
thousand dollars. It was a pleasure to have one’s affairs in 
the hands of such an able and considerate gentleman. He 
had written her several extremely clear letters, and had been 
kind enough to come and see her twice when she had been in 
town and explain matters to her. 

Mrs. Marlowe was well pleased with the world and well 
pleased with herself. “I hope you appreciate, Cordelia, what 
I have done for you in this matter,” she continued in her tone 
of self-approval. “If I hadn’t had the wisdom to see what 



Mr. Franklin could do for me, where would we all be to-day, 
and what would have happened to you ?” 

That was one of Mrs. Marlowe’s little traits: to forget 
how matters started, and to assume that they had originated 
in her maternal care. Cordelia managed to keep a straight 

As for Mrs. Marlowe, she was certainly grateful to Mr. 
Franklin. That was why she and Lily were lunching with 
him that day. One could not show such a man too great 

Mr. Franklin was the bright spot of Mrs. Marlowe’s con¬ 
versation. But she had her worry—Lily. It was a dance or 
something else every night with Lily. She had suddenly be¬ 
come unmanageable! And the way Lily had begun to drink! 
Mrs. Marlowe had always been accustomed to seeing wine 
drunk by ladies and gentlemen, as ladies and gentlemen 
should drink wine; but in all her life she had never seen such 
quantities of liquor drunk as were being drunk by the chil¬ 
dren! Drinking was becoming the most popular childish 
game. Why, Lily now carried her own pocket flask. The 
flask was a present; Mrs. Marlowe refused to give money 
or liquor to fill it; but her friends kept Lily supplied. And, 
too, Lily did swear such an awful lot. It would be a re¬ 
lief when Lily was in Harcourt Hall, where she would be 
regulated by discipline. In the meantime couldn’t Cordelia 
do something? 

To Mrs. Marlowe, Lily seemed a brand-new problem for 
which there was no answer. 

Cordelia went into the bedroom where Lily, having 
changed into a fresh frock, was now carefully applying a 
lip-stick. Lily was slight, with dark, bobbed hair, and had 
that pert audacity, that shameless inclination to shock, which 



sometimes seems the dominant instinct and delight of pres¬ 
ent-day feminine fifteen. 

“Hello, Cord, old girl. Don’t touch me, for I don’t want 
to be mussed. Going to meet my best beau.” 

“See here, infant—how about all this boozing you’re doing 
these days?” 

“Mother been telling tales ?” 

“Never you mind! Better cut that stuff out before it 
gets you.” 

“Oh, don’t be a damned pill! If a fellow doesn’t drink 
her share, the crowd doesn’t want her along.” 

“How much do you drink?” 

“Just keep step—that’s all.” 


“Don’t be a gloom, Cord! Besides, you just please re¬ 
member I’ve got a reputation to live up to. I’m the sister 
of the great Cordelia Marlowe, and that means I’ve got to 
travel. So there!” 

Cordelia bit her lip. She wanted to slap the cheek of 
this pert piece of sophistication. Cordelia herself was a con¬ 
temporary of the flapper; but some quality in her had re¬ 
strained her from that self-possessed audacity, that un¬ 
ashamed directness, that itch to shock the world, that practice 
of signalling the world to just watch her sow wild oats, 
which to Cordelia’s mind characterized the flapper when fully 
developed. If Lily kept her present direction, what would 
this fledgling be when she reached the flapper maturity of 
seventeen or eighteen? 

“I can stop boozing if I want to,” Lily continued. “Can 
wean myself without anybody’s help. Can taper off on one 
of these infant’s what-d’you-call-’ems ?—rubber pacifiers. 
So there’s nothing for you to worry your old bean about. 



Let’s change the subject. I’ve got a new beau. Now what 
d’you think of that?” 

Even to Cordelia, this newest generation was at times 

“Who is he?” 

“Can’t claim yet that he’s all mine. You may marry him, 
or mother may beat me out. But I rather think he’ll prefer 
little Lily. He’s been mighty nice to me. He’s our brand- 
new good angel—Mr. Franklin.” 

Cordelia swooped upon Lily, seizing her by either ear. 
“Why, you brazen little imp!” she cried. I’ll put some sense 
into you!” 

“Hell—ouch! You leave me alone!” Lily squealed. “I 
know what’s the matter with you. Jealous! You want Mr. 
Franklin yourself!” 

At this last Cordelia loosed her hold in exasperated amaze¬ 
ment. Mrs. Marlowe, drawn by the outcry, came in and 
wanted to know what was the trouble. Lily winked and 
grinned in an aside at Cordelia, and spoke of having half 
murdered herself with a damned old pin. 

Five minutes later they were down in the street. All 
were lunching at the Grantham, but Lily refused Cordelia’s 
invitation to ride in the roadster; she wasn’t going to make a 
mess of her fresh dress by crowding three in that dinky, 
damned little seat; and besides she was going to look at hats 
before they met Mr. Franklin. So away Lily and Mrs. Mar¬ 
lowe went in a taxicab, and Cordelia rode off alone. 

She would certainly have to do something about Lily’s 
precocious interest in men and drink! Was Lily really se¬ 
rious, or merely trying to be glibly teasing and trying to give 
herself airs in what she had said about Mr. Franklin? But 
then Lily was young—perhaps her manners and practices 
were no more than a pose; perhaps she was merely passing 



through some brief phase of adolescence; perhaps in a few 
years she might outgrow it all—or something might happen 
to her that would tear her loose from, or lift her out of, 
all such things. 

Jerry Plimpton was waiting for Cordelia in the lobby of 
the Grantham. Cordelia hadn’t seen Jerry since the eve¬ 
ning before she had gone out to Rolling Meadows. Her heart 
pumped warm pride through all her arteries as he came 
eagerly, smilingly, toward her: he was so handsome, so easy 
of manner, so distinguished, such a splendid figure of the 
kind the world just naturally bows to. And when they 
moved through the crowded dining-room to the table he had 
reserved, she had an even stronger consciousness than on 
Fifth Avenue that eyes were following her admiringly and 
enviously; that people were whispering that there went that 
famous social beauty Cordelia Marlowe and that terribly rich 
Jerry Plimpton—and what a handsome couple they made! 

Just being with Jerry, though she knew nothing important 
was going to be said or done, seemed the proper culmination 
of an expansive, glorious day. 

While the luncheon progressed, and they talked gaily of 
nothing in particular, Cordelia definitely came to a decision. 
Some day she was going to marry Jerry Plimpton. He was 
personally delightful; he had all those splendid accessories 
which she knew how to use so well and which would 
make all the years to come years of unbroken happiness 
and triumph; and she knew that no woman could fill the 
place of wife to him—a high place that of his wife, successor 
to his great mother’s glories and traditions—with so much 
grace and distinction as herself. 

She knew that Jerry admired Gladys. That was not to be 
wondered at; for Gladys had real looks; she had real posi¬ 
tion; she had more money than any other unmarried young 



woman Cordelia knew; and her public manner was very 
agreeable—only her intimates suspected that Gladys might 
have her little failings. The possession of Jerry Plimpton, 
and the splendid things he represented, indubitably lay be¬ 
tween Gladys Norworth and Cordelia Marlowe. And Cor¬ 
delia did not doubt that she would win out over Gladys, 
and she now let her full powers express themselves in the 
pleasant effort to attract Jerry. 

For the present, of course, it would not be wise to let an 
open courtship develop. That must wait until she was 
through with the important business she now had in hand— 
till she was free from the necessity of keeping on amicable 
terms with the easily aroused Gladys, who had her own pri¬ 
vate dreams concerning Jerry. But Cordelia was in no 
hurry; it suited her perfectly to drift along for a time in 
this close friendship. Also Jerry was not the man to be hur¬ 
ried. He regarded marriage too seriously to be likely to be 
swept incautiously off his feet by any sudden tide of emotion ; 
Jerry would give his judgment ample time to consider any 
urgent recommendations of his heart. 

All in all she was most happy with the situation as it 
stood. Of course there was suspense—great suspense. But 
when she had decided that her time was ready—then there 
would be certainty. 

Again within her was a swift overwhelming upward rush, 
as though the whole soul of her were a geyser of gratitude. 
How great had been her fortune—how great her skill and 
efforts—that had saved her from going down in disaster two 
weeks before—that had kept her up here on her old plane 
of existence, where she could meet Jerry Plimpton! At no 
time since her escape, had her escape seemed so marvellous 
a blessing as now when she was sitting here smile to smile 
with Jerry. 



There came an interruption: Lily advancing on their table, 
followed by her mother and Mr. Franklin. Cordelia intro¬ 
duced the two men. They bowed and shook hands formally. 

“Just what Mr. Franklin is that, Cordelia?” Jerry asked, 
when he and Cordelia were again alone. 

Cordelia told him about Mr. Franklin; not quite every¬ 
thing, to be sure. 

“So he’s that Mr. Franklin—and your family’s new law¬ 
yer,” mused Jerry. “He should prove a real help to you. 
I’ve heard quite a bit about him. They say he’s an able cit¬ 
izen and a comer.” 

At another table the irrepressible Lily was whispering: 
“I say, Mr. Franklin—-what do you think of that pair? I’ll 
bet you Cordelia marries him!” 

“Indeed!” remarked Mr. Franklin. He glanced across at 
Cordelia and Jerry, and his pleasant expression did not 
change. “If appearances count for anything, Miss Lily, 
you’ll likely win your bet, for they do look a well-matched 

Cordelia’s eye caught Mr Franklin’s gaze upon her. His 
pleasant look warmed into a pleasant smile. She smiled 
brightly back. Indeed she was going to be nice to Mr. 

Yes . . . this was simply a wonderful day! 



Cordelia drove back to Rolling Meadows in soaring 
spirits after her gratifying day in town. Her thoughts were 
inclined to play about Jerry Plimpton, and that brilliant 
future whose brilliance was to be jointly hers and Jerry’s. 
But the practical aspects of her situation intruded upon 
these pleasant prospects, and regretfully she let practicality 
force fancy into subsidence. Before she could try to turn 
these dreams, which included Jerry, into a permanent real¬ 
ity, she had to clear up this situation at Rolling Meadows; 
and as her roadster sped on she considered what should be 
her next steps in trying to discover the fundamental facts 
of the mystery. 

Again she wished she might go straight to Esther or 
Gladys and ask for and be given their confidence; that 
would be so much the finer and simpler way. But she real¬ 
ized that this direct approach was closed to her; they 
would make denial or refuse to talk; and with them thus 
put upon their guard, she would be able to learn nothing 
from observing them. There was no other course but for 
her to continue to be a spy. She hated being a spy, even 
a spy in a good cause; but espionage seemed the only hope 
for finding a remedy for, and bringing relief to, this situa¬ 

She felt no such compunctions over spying upon Mitchell: 
Mitchell, that semi-scoundrel, or great villain, who held 




Gladys and Esther in his soft and supple but relentless 
hands. Mitchell, as she and Mr. Franklin had agreed, was 
the one above all others to be watched and studied. It oc¬ 
curred to Cordelia that even an investigation of Mitchell’s 
room might reveal some enlightening facts concerning this 
pseudo and real butler. With Mitchell now in the city, this 
afternoon might afford her the ideal opportunity for an in¬ 
vestigation of Mitchell’s effects. 

But when, towards six, Cordelia hurried up the ter¬ 
race at Rolling Meadows, there was Mitchell, again in his 
formal black coat, starting into the doorway with the tea- 
tray. He saw her, and waited with that impersonal for¬ 
mality of his until she was upon the porch. 

“Shall I serve you tea, Miss Marlowe?” 

“If you please, Mitchell. Have Miss Norworth and Miss 
Stevens had theirs?” 

“They finished just a few minutes ago. They are now 
playing with Master Frangois.” 

She thought rapidly. “If I am to have tea alone, then 
bring it to my sitting-room.” 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe. I’ll have fresh tea up there for 
you within five minutes.” 

She hastened to her suite. This might be her chance, 
through adroit questioning, to learn something about Mitch¬ 
ell. But her questions had to be indeed adroit; seemingly 
without purpose beyond mere personal curiosity; otherwise 
the man might take alarm, and his alarm might mean the 
end of all her plans here. She knew Mitchell had it in his 
power to secure the swift termination of her visit. 

“I saw you in the city to-day, Mitchell,” she began as he 
set down the tray before her. 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe. I had a few hours off and I went 
in to attend to a little business.” 


“I thought you saw me.” 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe.” 

“But you refused to meet my eye, to speak to me.” 

“A butler who knows his place, Miss Marlowe, does not 
expect to be recognized in public by the guests of his em¬ 

He stood respectfully before her, with the air of being 
entirely at her command. Never before had he seemed 
more the perfect butler; never more bounded by the rigid 
conventions of his position. 

“But you do not seem like the average butler, Mitchell. 
You seem to be—well, something very different.” 

“I once hoped and intended to be something different.” 

“Then how did it happen that you became a butler?” 

“It started in college when I—” 

“Then you’re a college man?” 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe.” 

“What college?” 

“If you will pardon me, I would rather not say. My 
parents also expected me to be something different; I would 
not want their pride to be hurt by finding out what I am 
now doing.” 

“I see. You’re trying to hide your identity?” 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe. So long as I remain a butler. 
Telling you my college might somehow betray my identity.” 

“Yes, I see. Then I suppose Mitchell is not your real 
name ?” 

“No, Miss Marlowe.” 

“I understand. You started to tell me how you became 
a butler. Won’t you please go on?” 

“It’s really a very commonplace experience, Miss Mar¬ 
lowe. My people were poor and I had to work my way 
through college. For four years I worked in, then managed, 



a college eating club. My first two summers I was a waiter 
in a big resort hotel. That was the best paying work I 
could get during summers. Then one summer I was chief 
steward on board a private yacht. The owner liked me, 
seemed to have confidence in me, and the next summer he 
put me in charge of his country house as butler. My par¬ 
ents needed financial help just then; I could earn more, 
at least could save more, as a butler than by doing anything 
else; so I remained with this gentleman as butler for over 
a year. I had managed to save more than my parents 
needed so I started to take a special course in electrical engi¬ 
neering. But before I had finished my course my money gave 
out and I started to work for a firm of engineers. But 
when the War was over, and I was demobilized—” 

“Then you were in service ?” 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe.’" 

“Under the name of Mitchell, or your own?” 

“Under neither, Miss Marlowe. I joined in with the 
Canadians at the beginning of the War. I was afraid my 
enlisting might cause complications with my own country, 
so I took another name—just as many other Americans 

“Go on, please.” 

“I was among the last to be demobilized. You will recall 
what a hard time the soldiers, particularly those who were 
last discharged, had in getting their old jobs back. I could 
not get mine, nor any other like it. No one seemed to want 
an ex-soldier; especially a sickly one, for I still felt the ef¬ 
fects of being gassed. But there were plenty of chances in 
household service, so I decided to turn again to that. I 
learned that Miss Norworth needed a butler, and she gave 
me my present place. It’s light work here, and I’m keeping 
the place until I get back my strength.” 


“Miss Norworth and Miss Stevens were in France dur¬ 
ing the War. Perhaps you met them in Paris ?” 

“No, Miss Marlowe.” 

“Of course, Mitchell, you do not intend to remain a 

“I like it here; they are good to me, and a butler could 
have no better place. But of course I have other ambi¬ 
tions. With the experience I have had in managing house¬ 
hold affairs I have thought I might do better to drop the 
idea of being an engineer and start a restaurant, in New 

York_that is, if I can find a partner with capital; a small 

restaurant, but with an appeal to a discriminating clientele. 

“You should make a success of it. I’m sure every one 
will wish the very best for you.” 

“Thank you, Miss Marlowe. Pardon me for having 
talked so much about myself—I’m sure your tea must have 
become quite cold. Shall I get you some hot tea and toast? 

“What you have told me has been most interesting. 
Don’t bother about fresh tea, for I’m quite through. You 
may take the tray.” 

He had picked up the tray and was starting from the 
room, when she thought of something else. 

“By the way, Mitchell, last night you began to tell me 
something, or ask me something. I suppose it was some¬ 
thing important?” 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe.” 

“Important to you?” 

“Yes, Miss Marlowe.” 

“And perhaps important to other persons ?” she suggested. 

“Well—yes, Miss Marlowe.” 

“Perhaps you have changed your mind, and would like 
to tell me as you first intended.” 

“That impulse of last night was wrong, Miss Marlowe. 



I think I should not tell you.” He’waited for a moment. 
“Is there anything else you wish, Miss Marlowe ?” 

“That is all, Mitchell.” 

After he had gone, Cordelia sat considering the things 
he had told her. She had trapped him in two lies. He 
had said he had not met Gladys and Esther in France; she 
happened to know that he had known them in Paris very 
w’ell indeed. He had spoken about still being weak from 
having been gassed; she recalled the ease with which he had 
lifted her from the floor the previous night, recalled the 
steely strength of the hands that had supported her up the 
stairway. What a liar the man was! And that rigmarole 
explaining how he had become a butler; paying his way 
through college by working in an eating club, and in summer 
working in hotels and private families—all that long tale 
was just pure invention! 

Examining the details of the interview one by one, she 
could not find a single item which she felt she could safely 
regard as a fact. As an investigation, the interview had 
been a failure. 

As she sat thinking, a disquieting doubt filtered into her 
consciousness. After all, had she really been the person who 
had directed that interview ? Mitchell’s story, such as it was, 
had come out with surprising ease, requiring no urging at 
all from her. Instead of her having adroitly drawn his 
story from him, might the fact not be that he had been 
adroitly thrusting that story upon her ? And if so, what was 
his purpose? 

And again she wondered what was that thing which he 
had been upon the point of telling or asking her. He piqued 
her curiosity more than ever. More than ever did she feel 
that the matter of first importance in her business was to 
get at the truth behind this man. 



The opportunity to go through his effects came after 
breakfast the following morning. Cordelia was in Esther’s 
sitting-room, and she and Esther and Gladys were playing 
with Francois, as was the custom while his governess had 
her breakfast. There was a knock, and Mitchell stepped 

“Excuse me,” he said. “I have come for Master Fran¬ 

Esther looked up from the paper elephant she was cut¬ 
ting out, and regarded him coldly.” 

“You need not bother. Jeanne will be here in a few 

“Jeanne wanted to look after Master Francois’ laundry, 
and I promised her I would take him out for his walk.” 
He turned to the boy. “Would Master Francois like to 
come with Mitchell?” 

“Yes, Mitchell!” the boy cried, jumping up and running 
across the room, his paper menagerie fluttering to the floor. 
“You’ll tell me a story?” 

“After I’ve taken you for a walk and shown you the 
bunny I bought you in town yesterday. It came this morn¬ 

“A bunny—oh, Mitchell! A really live bunny that can 
really eat?” 

“It can really eat, Master Francois.” 

“Come on, Mitchell! Let’s run!” 

“Master Francois must first say good-bye.” 

“Good-bye, Mother Esther—good-bye, Mother Gladys— 
good-bye, Mother Cordelia. Now come on, Mitchell!” 

Francois seized the man’s hand and excitedly led Mitchell 
from the room. Cordelia caught a quick flush in Esther’s 
cheek and a swift angry flash in Gladys’ eye; and she 
wondered again what was Mitchell’s real purpose in court- 


ing the boy's liking: to show his velvet power?-—to taunt 
and tease them?—or might his impulse be a real affection 
for Frangois?—a father's affection? 

But this was no time to follow up these conjectures. 
Here was her chance: Mitchell out on the grounds, the 
other servants at breakfast. Cordelia excused herself and, 
once out of the room, she hurried for the wing containing 
the servants' quarters. Mitchell’s room adjoined the trunk- 
room; if seen in this part of the house, her explanation 
would be that she had come for some article she had left 
in a trunk. 

Of course his room was probably locked. Cautiously 
she tried the door. It was not locked, and breathlessly she 
slipped in. Her quick glance showed her a room whose 
formal orderliness matched Mitchell’s butler personality. 
She did not expect to find a great deal here; Mitchell was 
too shrewd a person to be likely to leave anything of real 
importance about; the most she hoped for was a bare clue 
either to his identity or to his power over the household. 

There were a number of books—not many. To her on 
her present business they were vaguely suggestive, rather 
than definitely informative. There were a number of vol¬ 
umes dealing with problems of electrical engineering; and a 
few novels—“Tom Jones," “Vanity Fair," “Gil Bias," 
“Don Quixote," Meredith’s “The Egoist." Rapid as was 
her survey, she retained a dim impression that the man's 
fictional preference was toward comedy and satire. 

She turned to his drawers and went swiftly through 
them, then through his closet, scrutinizing each garment 
and then replacing each article exactly as she found it. His 
clothes were all of the best, even of the quality a Jerry 
Plimpton might have worn, but aside from the makers' 
names, they were unmarked or bore the admittedly assumed 



name of Mitchell. Only two articles of any possible signif¬ 
icance did she come upon. One was a bank-book in Mitch¬ 
ell’s name, showing a credit of a trifle over three hundred 
dollars, the plausible savings of a servant; it made her think 
of a safe deposit box, where his real savings, the tribute he 
had collected here, and his important documents were doubt¬ 
less hidden away, and it begot in her a desire some day to 
learn the secrets of that box. 

The second article was a letter which she found in the 
'coat Mitchell had worn the day before in town. It was 
addressed care of General Delivery, New York City, was 
stamped as received on the previous day, and was upon the 
stationary of a Cleveland hotel; and address, contents and 
signature were all typewritten, with many clumsy, amateur¬ 
ish erasures and corrections in the body of the letter. 
The letter read: 

Dear Buddie: 

That last two thousand you sent was was a life-saver. 

A million thanks. Perhaps I have been trying to ex¬ 
pand the business a little too rapidly, but the profits will 
prove this has been the right course. Of course I could 
have done nothing without the help of your money, and 
you are going to have half the profits even if you won’t 
take a partnership in the business. I’m still keeping my 
name out of the firm—still sticking to ‘Excelsior’—so 
that we can use your name if you change your mind 
and decide to come in. 

Of course I don’t blame you for not wanting to come 
out here and buckle down to this routine drudgery, 
when you are cleaning up so much coin in New 
York. I wish you would open up and tell me how you 
are making all that dough. I didn’t know that an out- 



sider had a chance against those New York business 
sharps. Not unless a fellow went into the bandit or 
bootlegging business. 

You are certainly the best and squarest pal a guy 
ever had! 

But say, boy, for a clever business man you are run¬ 
ning a big risk in sending your remittances to me in the 
form of drafts payable to “Cash” and “Bearer.” Any 
professional mail-looter would give three silent cheers 
to get his hands on one of those. Better be more care¬ 

I’m beginning to get the hang of this damned vest- 
pocket typewriter you make me lug around to write my 
letters to you on. Though I don’t yet quite see the idea, 
of your wanting all my letters to you type-written, and 
type-written by my own five-thumbed hands. 

May the goddess who adorns the dollar continue to 
regard you as her favorite child! 

Yours till Gabriel toots for final demobilization. 


Cordelia returned the letter to the pocket from which she 
had taken it, and a minute later she was hurrying away in 
feverish thought. Who was this “J.”? Also she asked her¬ 
self the two questions which “J.” implied: why was “J.” 
required to write on a typewriter?—and why was money 
sent payable to cash or bearer ? 

In a few moments Cordelia had the answers, or at least 
she thought she had: these were obviously measures to pre¬ 
vent names appearing anywhere on paper which might 
later disconcertingly appear as evidence, and to prevent 
betrayal by an identifiable handwriting. 

This letter which had told so little that was definite,, had. 



made Mitchell a still more intriguing personality. Evidently 
“J-” liked him, admired him, trusted him. Mitchell must 
have*a lot of qualities she had not guessed behind that ex¬ 
pressionless butler’s mask of his. 

Obeying a subconscious purpose, she had, all the while 
she had been thinking of this letter, been moving about the 
grounds in search of Mitchell; and now in a quiet spot 
shut off from the sight of the house she glimpsed Mitchell 
and Frangois and the rabbit which could really eat. This 
was still another Mitchell she now saw; not he of butler’s 
coat, not he of smart Fifth Avenue garb, not he of that 
voice of taunting quality which had come to her in the dark¬ 
ness from the open window. He was seated on the grass, 
the rapt Frangois on his lap, both watching the really live 
rabbit nibbling at a lettuce leaf; and Mitchell was talking, 
and his face had an eager, good-humored smile—almost a 
boyish smile—which matched that of Frangois; and when 
he laughed his laugh seemed to have as much the ring of 
spontaneous care-free happiness as that of the boy. Mitch¬ 
ell was undoubtedly having a gorgeous time. 

Cordelia slipped away unnoted. Who— who —and what 
—was the real Mitchell? 



Cordelia wanted a place where she could think undis¬ 
turbed upon this puzzle of contradictions that Mitchell had 
become and upon the other problems of her business at 
Rolling Meadows. She remembered the child’s play-house 
which was being set in order to accommodate the overflow 
of guests at Gladys’ week-end party but which at the pres¬ 
ent moment was unoccupied. She crossed the grounds, 
entered the play-house and seated herself at that same open 
window which looked out upon the syringa bush beneath 
which she had crouched listening two midnights before. 

Less than thirty-six hours had passed since Cordelia had 
discovered the dominating position of Mitchell in the house¬ 
hold at Rolling Meadows, and during this period she had 
been too much concerned with her information and her 
actions to settle down quietly and attempt to apply sober 
reason to the facts she had acquired. To this task she now 
gave herself; and if Cordelia in all her life had ever 
reasoned carefully, flawlessly, she believed she was now so 

The secret, whatever it might be, was apparently known 
to just three persons: Gladys, Esther and Mitchell. There 
were probably no documents or papers of any kind contain¬ 
ing the secret which the closest search would enable her to 
lay hands upon; such valuable and dangerous evidence, even 
if it had ever existed, was destroyed or else hidden away be- 




yond possible finding. This meant that the only sources 
from which the truth might be learned were the lips of the 
three; and this conclusion very naturally suggested in turn 
the business of virtuous eavesdropping. From the popular 
literature of detection Cordelia had some vague knowledge 
of dictaphones, and other devices for bringing the cautious 
ear into proximity with incautious lips; but a little further 
thought caused her to dismiss entirely the stock-in-trade 
strategy of listening. Even should she manage again to hear 
the three in conversation, she would probably learn no more 
than she already knew. The facts behind this situation were 
probably so old, so thoroughly accepted by the three, that 
they would never mention them. These old facts, the en¬ 
tire story—this was what was wanted. 

And then the only possible way came to her. She had 
to secure the full story directly from the lips of one of 
the three. 

That was indeed a difficult task. It would be difficult 
enough just to unseal any pair of those lips; and it was 
made more difficult by the necessity that her act should 
not seem the result of intention, and should not arouse 

One by one she considered the three, beginning with 
Mitchell. Mitchell had shrewdness, poise, self-control; he 
was making a profit out of this secret; to give up the secret 
would mean to him to give up his profit. She could not 
imagine the butler ever being so thrown off his guard that 
he would involuntarily let slip the truth; and he would not 
tell voluntarily unless he saw that telling would be greatly 
to his profit. Mitchell, she decided, was out of the ques¬ 

Further thought also removed the lips of Esther. Esther 
also had too much self-control, though of a different order 



from Mitchell’s, ever to be startled into any unpremeditated 
disclosure. If she ever told, it would be because she had 
come to a reasoned decision to tell. 

That left Gladys. Gladys was the one who was paying 
money, the one most desperately determined to keep the 
unknown facts unguessed. She was the central figure; and 
from the standpoint of Cordelia’s purpose, she was the 
weakest figure of the affair. For the autocratic, self- 
centered Gladys had never been schooled to control of any 
kind; anger, selfishness, whatever strong feeling rose in her, 
possessed her utterly for the minutes or hours that the storm 
might last. 

Cordelia decided she would get the secret of Gladys from 
the lips of Gladys. 

Just what was that secret—probably? Among all possible 
secrets, just what was the one possible secret that an un¬ 
married, socially proud young woman would most desper¬ 
ately desire to keep hidden?—would pay most readily and 
lavishly to keep suppressed? 

Cordelia felt no great surprise when, by swift elimination, 
she reached the answer; for the answer had been lurking, 
unphrased in her mind since she had overheard the voices 
two nights before in the play-house. An illegitimate child, 
of course. Francois was Gladys’ son. 

The story of his being a French war orphan, the elabo¬ 
rate business of his French and American legal adoption by 
Gladys and Esther—all this was just careful camouflage to 
protect the proud name and high position of Gladys. Fran¬ 
cois had been born in France; Mitchell had known Gladys 
and Esther in France; therefore Mitchell probably had 
first-hand knowledge of the facts. No wonder he had power 
over Gladys! 

Of course it was possible, as she had before thought, that 



Mitchell was the boy’s father. That would explain his ap¬ 
parently real affection for Frangois. He might even be the 
husband of Gladys. No, on further thought his being 
Gladys’ husband did not seem likely. With a husband liv¬ 
ing in her own house, Gladys would hardly care to pose 
as single and to be matrimonially interested in Jerry Plimp¬ 

But these speculations were at best no more than spec¬ 
ulations. She had to have facts. How was she to get facts 
such as she suspected from the lips of Gladys? Her end 
was laudable—to help Mr. Franklin free Gladys from her 
entanglement; and any means was justifiable. She thought 
long; and at length she decided that her best procedure 
would be to play upon Gladys’ great weakness, her lack of 
self-control. Aroused to anger, to fear, Gladys might en¬ 
tirely lose herself, and suddenly incited by just the right 
happening or even just the right phrase, the fundamental 
facts might come tumbling forth from her momentarily 
unguarded lips. Of course the exact procedure that Cor¬ 
delia would use would have largely to be determined and 
shaped by opportunity. 

Of this meditated quality of Gladys’ temper Cordelia had 
an almost immediate illustration, for at this point in her 
thoughts Gladys walked into the play-house. There was 
hot color in her cheeks and an angry light in her green 

“I thought you were going to help me settle that trouble 
over the orchestra for Saturday night’s dance?” she said 
almost sharply. 

“So I am. I was just starting back to the house. Come 

“One minute!” Gladys caught Cordelia’s arm. “Ailine 
Harkness just called up a minute ago about the party. She 



said she saw you and Jerry Plimpton lunching together 
yesterday. Is that so ?” 

“Yes. Why not? Jerry and I are old friends. ,, 

“You were behaving as though you were a lot more than 
just old friends!” 

Cordelia began to grow hot at this ungoverned arrogance. 
“Gladys—say right out just what you mean!” 

“You know what I mean! I told you that—well, you 
know, that there is almost an understanding between Jerry 
Plimpton and me. And that night at Jackie Thorndike’s 
you the same as promised not to cut in. Are you trying to 
double-cross me?” 

“Gladys Norworth! Do you want me to pack my things 
and go home?” 

“Not if you aren’t—” 

“Say anything more like what you’ve just said and I’ll 
slap your face! Now let loose of my arm!” 

Gladys glared, hesitated, then cbeyed; but her eyes still 
gleamed with her sullen anger. Cordelia quickly regained 
her self-control; a break would mean her leaving Rolling 
Meadows before the mystery here was solved. 

“Don’t be silly, Gladys. I have a lot of friends who are 
also your friends, and every time I accept a courtesy 
from one of them you shouldn’t construe it as an act of 
conspiracy against you.” 

“Well, I didn’t mean to be unfair,” Gladys said grudg¬ 
ingly. “But you know what I think about Jerry Plimpton. 
And you know, or you’ve guessed, that it’s mainly because 
of him that I’m giving this party.” 

“I’ll see that at your party you have the right of way with 
Jerry as far as I am concerned. Now let’s see to that or¬ 

Her mission here at Rolling Meadows was none too easy, 



Cordelia mused wryly, with the two of them both having 
intentions toward Jerry Plimpton. Rivals! Well, as she 
had decided while lunching with Jerry the day before, she’d 
have to avoid danger by keeping Jerry at a distance till she 
was well out of this business. 

She thought much of this flare-up of Gladys on Jerry 
Plimpton’s account; could this ever-ready resentment be 
so inflamed and played upon that it could be made to lead 
to the revelation she sought? As the days passed she con¬ 
sidered other possible means and qualities that might be used 
to sweep Gladys into the necessary frenzy of uncontrol; 
her temper still seemed the best; but Cordelia could settle 
upon no definite procedure. 

On Friday the guests began to come, and by Saturday 
afternoon some score had answered the roll call of hospi- 
tality. There were Jackie and Murray Thorndike, Ailine 
and Peter Plarkness, Jerry Plimpton, Kyle Brandon and a 
small host who have no individual place in this history. 
Cordelia tried to keep her promise to Gladys by avoiding any 
semblance of a tete-a-tete with Jerry Plimpton; she noted 
that Jerry was surprised by her behavior and she was 
secretly pleased thereat. Gladys very openly absorbed him. 
He seemed to enjoy her attention; perhaps pique at Cor¬ 
delia may have had something to do with his apparent 
pleasure. But then Gladys was at her very best in Jerry’s 
company, and Gladys when she tried to be her best was 
second in attractiveness to few indeed. Charm, plus beauty, 
plus position, plus great wealth—here is a feminine total 
almost irresistible. 

On Friday evening before dinner, according to an arrange¬ 
ment Gladys had made in her invitation, up in Gladys’ sit¬ 
ting-room, there was another of those little reunions of the 
four old Harcourt chums—Cordelia, Gladys, Jackie, and 



Ailine. Rather promptly Gladys excused herself from the 
gathering. She had her duties as a hostess, she explained; 
her real reason was that Jerry Plimpton was waiting down 
in the library. 

The talk of the three friends who remained was, as was 
the case at their meetings, almost entirely about themselves. 
The pretty, eager, gay Ailine, of the tireless and talented 
feet, was a-gush with Peter’s recent successes in Wall Street. 
Though a broker, and theoretically supposed to make his 
money from executing commissions, Peter played the market 
on his own account. His profits for the last few months, 
said the flushed Ailine, had amounted to over a quarter of a 
million; and that week they had bought the Fern wold house, 
just off Fifth Avenue in the Seventies, and were redecorat¬ 
ing it throughout. It was not going to be anything elaborate, 
you know; it couldn’t be, for altogether it was only going 
to cost three hundred thousand; but it was going to be very 
much nicer than what they now had—they could entertain 
ever so much better. 

Cordelia was pleased to learn of Ailine’s and Peter’s good 
fortune. They were lavish spenders, both of them; they 
liked to keep pace with their richest and smartest acquaint¬ 
ances; and sometimes their friends feared that their com¬ 
bined inheritance, none too large for such living, was being 
severely strained by their prodigal inclination. It was in¬ 
deed splendid that Peter was doing so well that they did 
not have to worry about money; and Cordelia congratu¬ 
lated Ailine heartily upon her good news. 

Her tale completed, Ailine left them, giving her reason 
frankly, with her sparkling smile. There was to be a small 
informal dance that night; one of the men was an excep¬ 
tional dancer; and she had promised to meet him before 
dinner to talk over some exhibition dances they might give. 



Dear big old heavy Peter was no dancer, and he good- 
naturedly let her do just as she pleased about partners. In 
fact, the spirited, tireless, pretty Ailine did just as she 
pleased about almost everything; and almost every one— 
particularly all the men—seemed pleased to have her do it. 

Ailine was a sprite—a darling! 

When Ailine was gone, Jackie drew closer to Cordelia 
and said: ‘Tm glad to have you all to myself at last for a 
minute or two, Cordie, old dear. I want you to do some¬ 
thing for me.” 

“There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for you, 
Jackie.” That was exactly as Cordelia felt toward her 
room-mate at Harcourt Hall, her especial chum of their 
especial quartette. “What is it?” 

“You’ve been visiting Gladys long enough. I want you 
to say good-bye to her, and come along home with me and 
spend the summer.” 

“I can hardly do that, Jackie. I’ve already promised to 
stay the summer with Gladys.” 

“Gladys doesn’t need you. And I do need you.” 

The abrupt emphasis of Jackie’s last statement made Cor¬ 
delia start. 

“You need me! Why?” 

Jackie slowly knocked the ash from her cigarette, lifted 
her white shoulders, then composedly looked Cordelia 
straight in the eyes. 

“I rather believe you guess why, Cordie, so there’s no 
reason I shouldn’t put it into plain words. Murray and I 
don’t seem to be as popular with each other as we used 
to be. I’m not seeing a lot of Murray these days, and it’s 
a bit lonely being a married widow.” 

Cordelia was aware of this situation. She liked the 
restless, generous, impulsive Jackie, and she liked the easy- 



going Murray, and she had felt genuine regret over this 

“And I rather think you know why Murray isn’t about 
the house very much,” Jackie continued. “A lot of people 
seem to know why. It’s that French dancer Ziegfeld brought 
over and put into his last revue.” 

Cordelia knew this also. 

“What are you going to do about it?” 

“Oh, we’re keeping up the appearance of a happy home.” 

“But, Jackie, if you really tried I’m sure you could 
keep Murray away from all the dancers in the world.” 

Again Jackie lifted her beautiful shoulders. 

“Perhaps yes. Perhaps no. But that’s not the business 
before the present meeting. The business is, I need you 
and I’m asking you to come. Are you coming?” 

“I’m sorry, Jackie. I’ve just told you why I can’t come.” 

“Well, then, at least promise me this much: come if you 
find you can come.” 

“Of course I’ll promise that.” 

Cordelia went on to express sympathy but Jackie inter¬ 
rupted. No need to worry about her; this was just about 
what marriage was like; Cordelia would find this out for 
herself after she’d been married a few years. 

Nevertheless all Friday evening Cordelia did feel keen 
regret over the situation between Jackie and Murray; though 
whenever she looked at them, each seemed to be happy 
enough, and several times she saw them dancing together. 

On Saturday afternoon Mr. Franklin motored out, as had 
been planned. He was going on down to Southampton to 
work a little and play a little golf over Sunday. Cordelia 
watched him closely when he was introduced to Gladys 
and a little later when Mitchell, thinking him a guest, asked 
about his bags. To neither of these two did Franklin be- 



tray by any slightest move or inflection that he had any 
interest other than that of a chance visitor. Particularly 
did Cordelia watch, with a little catch in her breath, when 
the butler and the lawyer faced each other, both strong, 
subtle men. Each played his part to perfection. With a 
little anticipatory thrill of excitement, Cordelia wondered 
what would be the scene and what its outcome if ever these 
two men should meet with masks removed. 

Toward the guests he met, Franklin had an easy yet unob¬ 
trusive manner. Several knew him slightly, more had heard 
of him. Cordelia noted that Gladys appraised him thought¬ 
fully; well-mannered, well-dressed single men of standing 
are to be recorded as possible social assets. Cordelia ad¬ 
mired the way he bore himself; each time she saw him she 
found she was raising her estimate of him. He seemed so 
courteously reserved, so strictly holding himself out of other 
people’s affairs; yet she was certain that not a thing was es¬ 
caping him. As a matter of fact, he was seeing even more 
than she thought. 

Toward the middle of the afternoon the entire party went 
down to the beach; and presently, as she and Franklin walked 
along the beach apart from the others, Cordelia was telling 
him of her further discoveries concerning Mitchell, her con¬ 
clusions concerning Gladys, and of her projected method of 
procedure. He approved her energy and her judgment. 
Again Cordelia pulsed warmly under his praise; it was in¬ 
deed something to have one’s ability recognized by so able 
a man as Mr. Franklin. 

He cautioned her, however, against trying to move too 
rapidly. He would advise that she consult him before tak¬ 
ing her next step. As a matter of fact, Mr. Franklin was 
seeing before himself the danger of her learning too much, 
getting too far into the inside. If that came to pass, it 



would complicate immensely his own subtle, delicately ad¬ 
justed plans. 

He saw that the two of them were being observed by the 
guests, and he held Cordelia in conversation as much as he 
dared. He knew that he was establishing the impression 
among this smart company that he and the very popular 
Cordelia Marlowe were friends—and that was well. He was 
thinking of feigning illness in order that he might remain 
at Rolling Meadows and improve upon his opportunity. But 
this deception was not necessary; for on their return to the 
house Gladys, having noted his attentiveness to Cordelia and 
seeing him as a further barrier between Cordelia and Jerry 
Plimpton, promptly invited him to stay on over the week¬ 
end. After a decent hesitation he accepted. 

Thus came about Mr. Franklin’s introduction to Rolling 
Meadows and its circle. Behind his pleasant, composed fea¬ 
tures was a mighty exultation over the success of his ma- 
noeuvers. First, Cordelia Marlowe had come his way. And 
now, hardly more than two weeks later, he was among these 
people—a guest—one of them! Oh, but he was getting on l 



Saturday night’s dance was a real dance; a dance to please 
the dancingest and thirstiest dancers. The guests, accus¬ 
tomed to the gaiety, even the abandon of week-end parties, 
were soon bent upon making this the gayest of the season. 
To this spirited abandon they were incited partially by the 
music, which was a smiling, gurgling, swaying negro or¬ 
chestra; and partially by the plentitude and potency of the 
punch, champagne and whiskey. Gladys, knowing what 
would be expected from one who intended to be a popular 
hostess all her life, had on her return from France laid in 
a forty years’ supply of wines and liquors while buying was 
still legal. 

Cordelia tried to hold herself in abeyance. This was 
Gladys’ party, and she wished Gladys to have the pleasure 
and the credit that are properly the hostess’. But she could 
not help it that she was more in demand as a partner than 
any other woman; always it had been so; and secretly she 
gloried in this popularity, else she would have been something 
other than her sex. Whenever there was a dispute among 
claimants for a dance, she invariably gave her favor to Mr. 
Franklin; he was her guest, and then a further reason was 
that choosing a neutral, an outsider, would excite the least 
jealousy among her men friends; and so she found that a 
third of her dances were with Franklin, who to her surprise 
proved to be one of the best dancers in the party. This man 
could apparently do everything! 



She had a few dances with Kyle Brandon. As before* 
he talked with enthusiasm of her possibilities as a great mo¬ 
tion picture star. Also he told her he was now getting busy 
on that pageant to be given at his aunt’s, Mrs. Phipps-Morse.. 
It was going to a big thing; the biggest of its kind ever at¬ 
tempted. And Cordelia’s part was looking bigger and bet¬ 
ter every hour he thought it over. She was going to like 
the part. Just wait and see! 

Despite all her seeming care-free gaiety, Cordelia took in 
everything that was happening. She noted, with a stab 
of jealousy, that Gladys’ most frequent partner was 
Jerry Plimpton. As for herself, she had not once 
danced with Jerry. Well—that was just as she had planned 

And her eyes went inevitably to Mitchell, presiding imper¬ 
turbably over the servants at the buffet, or moving with his 
butler’s perfect impersonality among the hilarious guests. 
Again and again the thought shivered through her: what 
would this smart crowd think and do, if that carved expres¬ 
sionless face should suddenly alter and he should drop into 
their joyous midst the bomb of what she guessed to be the 

But the most persistent, most enduring merry-makers 
eventually grow weary, even when stimulated by wine more 
precious than diamonds and rubies. By four o’clock half 
the guests were in their beds, and the crowd was rapidly 
dwindling, though the grinning, singing negroes twanged gui¬ 
tars and blew into saxophones with an unabated vigor which 
suggested that they could maintain their musical pace until 
old Marse Gabriel sounded his clarion signal for them to 
drop these instruments and take up harps of gold. Not 
until this hour did Cordelia have her first dance with Jerry 
Plimpton, which she told him was to be her last for the night; 



and as they danced she noted that Gladys was swaying in 
the arms of Franklin. 

“Let’s have a bit of fresh air before you go up,” Jerry 
remarked when the dance was concluded; and on Cordelia’s 
acceding, he led her out upon the porch and over to a shad¬ 
owed corner. Neither was conscious that Gladys and 
Franklin had also stepped forth, apparently with this same 
desire for air. 

Nor for that matter, did any of the four know that the 
cautious, ubiquitous Mitchell was watching every move 
of them all. 

“Now I’ve got you here and you’ve got to listen to me, 
Cordie,” Jerry grumbled reprovingly. “Why have you been 
dodging me the whole evening ?” 

“Have I been dodging you?” 

“In that very answer you try to dodge me again. Till 
just now you haven’t danced with me once. Each time I 
asked you, you had all the next dances promised. What 
was the grand idea in treating me just as if I wasn’t here?” 

“It gave you all the more chance to pay your respects to 
your hostess.” 

“Oh, Gladys can go to—” He checked himself. “You 
are not going to get away with a thing like this without 
paying for it. And a big penalty.” 

“What, for instance?” 

“I’ll let you pay in instalments. The first instalment is, 
I’m going to kiss you.” 

“You’ve drunk too much, Jerry. Don’t be a fool.” 

“I’d sure be a fool if I didn’t.” 

He slipped his arms about her and kissed her. This was 
far from being the first time Cordelia had been kissed, and 
she neither felt surprised nor did she pretend resistance. 
Also she recognized instantly that Jerry’s kiss was not that of 


a driving love, and she felt no lifting thrill. Rather it was 
the semi-maudlin sentimental kiss that has for its inception 
equal parts of titillating music, alcohol, and languorous sum¬ 
mer darkness. Jerry could undoubtedly be the serious lover, 
but he was not the serious lover now, and wisdom cautioned 
her against letting his sentimentality sweep onward into 
temporary fervor. 

She loosed his embrace and moved a pace from him. 
“You’ve had too much punch, Jerry. Behave. Let’s go in 
now. I want to go to bed.” 

“Not till you pay another instalment.” 

He kissed her again. Then they strolled back in, and a 
minute later Cordelia was on her way to her room. 

Franklin and Gladys had seen, in shadowy silhouette, the 
embrace and kisses; but had not heard the whispered words 
and so did not know the rather tepid quality of the dalliance. 
Franklin felt Gladys’ fingers bite into his arm; and that 
clutch violently affirmed all that his watchfulness during the 
evening had told him. For his own part, what the kissing 
suggested suited him no better than it did Gladys. But he 
controlled his wits; he perceived that in one respect at least 
the girl beside him was an ally. 

“I presume those two are engaged,” he murmured softly, 
and with subtle purpose, after Cordelia and Jerry had gone 

“She—she told me—there was nothing between them,” 
Gladys returned, speaking with greatest difficulty. 

“I’m sure they must be engaged,” he insisted in his soft, 
even voice. “I said as much to myself when I saw them at 
lunch at the Grantham the other day. You should have seen 
their manner to each other; there was no mistaking its mean¬ 
ing. They are undoubtedly engaged, and for some reason 
are hiding it for the present.” 



“Excuse me,” Gladys choked out, and was gone. 

Franklin was satisfied. He had handled this situation 
very skilfully. He had put a spoke into that wheel! He 
had, indeed—but even the very clever Mr. Franklin was 
hardly clever enough to foresee just how that spoke was go¬ 
ing to affect the running gear of his own very complicated 

Cordelia had been in her room no more than a moment, 
and before starting to undress was before her long mirror 
for a final appraisal of how she had looked during the eve¬ 
ning, when her door was violently opened, as violently closed, 
and there stood Gladys, her white bosom heaving spasmod¬ 
ically, her green eyes blazing with wild accusation and mad 

“Gladys! What on earth is the matter with you ?” Cor¬ 
delia exclaimed. 

Gladys came toward her, body tensely bent, fingers crooked 
like talons. “You liar, you!” she shrilled gaspingly. “You 
—you dirty liar!” 

Cordelia stiffened, and a dangerous look came into her 
own eyes. “What’s this about ?” she demanded sharply. 

“Oh, you damned sneaking liar!” screamed Gladys. 

“Are you crazy? Do you want all your guests to hear 
you? If you’ve got anything to say, at least lower your 

“Let them hear me! I’d like nothing better than to have 
them know the truth about you ! The sort you are!” 

There was, however, little likelihood of the guests hear¬ 
ing even this shrill, defiant voice; for the rooms of Cordelia, 
Gladys and Esther were side by side at the front of the 
house, and the guest-rooms were all in the wings and to 
reach these rooms the guests did not have to pass through 


the part of the house where Gladys and Cordelia now faced 
each other. Nevertheless, Gladys’ fortissimo of anger had 
in her last words subsided to a less penetrating tone. 

“Out with it quick!” ordered Cordelia angrily. “What 
are you trying to say?” 

“As if you didn’t know! I saw you kissing him! Kissing 
Jerry Plimpton!” 

“So that’s it? What’s that to you?” 

“What’s it to me? Why—why—kissing him after you 
told me he was nothing to you—after you had promised not 
to interfere between him and me! Why—why—Oh, I could 
kill you, you rat!” 

Gladys’ face twisted and writhed with the vehemence of 
unlovely passion. All that was primitive, elemental, child¬ 
ishly and savagely direct in her undisciplined selfishness, now 
ruled her utterly. She felt no shame, no reticence, no re¬ 
straint due to the mere habits of civilized manners; she was 
just an uncontrollable flame of mad egotism. 

Cordelia herself had never been more angry. She had 
come here to try to save this girl. Why, Gladys didn’t de¬ 
serve saving! 

But before Cordelia’s temper escaped its leash, there 
flashed upon her partial remembrance of the inspiration she 
had had the other day in the child’s play-house. If she 
could only make Gladys lose all control, in either anger or 
fear! At this moment Cordelia was conscious of no clear 
plan, but she proceeded exactly as if guided by one. 

Her manner was angry, but her anger was assumed. Also 
her manner was taunting. 

“Why shouldn’t I kiss Jerry? Jerry seemed to like it. 
And what makes you so angry? Because Jerry didn’t pre¬ 
fer to kiss you?” 



“Get out of my house! You hear me! Get out of my 
house! You cheap flirt! Kissing like a cheap shop girl on 
a park bench!” 

“At least, Gladys dear, Jerry chose to kiss me, and not 

It was an unseemly, unsightly quarrel between the star 
graduates of fine old Harcourt Hall. Gladys grew yet more 

“Jerry didn’t choose; you made him! You’re trying to 
coax him away with your kisses. You’re after his money. 
Everybody knows you’ve got barely enough to live on, and 
that’s all! All you’ve really got is an empty name, and a 
few good looks, and a cheap popularity, and a scheming 
head! And you’re scheming to get Jerry’s money!” 

At this Cordelia could barely hold herself in; perhaps it 
was the element of truth in Gladys’ words that so inflamed 
her. But the growing anger she showed was still directed, 
acted towards a purpose. She looked as if she were upon 
the instant of exploding. 

“What have you got, you poor ninny? Not a thing but 
money! You admit I have family, looks, popularity, a good 
head. And you haven’t a thing but money! That’s the only 
way you’ll ever get a man’s attention—buying it with your 

Cordelia had tried to say something which would rouse 
Gladys to the last limits of her anger; she could have chosen 
no greater insult. 

“Get out of my house! Pack your things this minute! 
Get out!” 

“And you think you can buy Jerry Plimpton with your 
money—the only thing you have to attract a man! When 
money is the last thing in a woman that would interest Jerry 


Plimpton! You poor fool! Why you know Jerry will 

“You shut up!” Gladys’ voice was an almost animal-like 
snarl. “You get out of my house! Get out! You lie! 
I’ll show you which of us is the fool! I’ll show you whether 
I can interest Jerry! I’ll show it to you by being married 
to him inside of a year!” 

Her panting voice cracked in its rage. She was utterly 
gone, utterly lost. Cordelia’s moment was come, and swiftly 
she struck. 

“You think Jerry Plimpton will marry you? Marry you 
after you have told him Francois is your child?—your ille¬ 
gitimate child?” 

The deyastating Gladys swayed back. Her flaming rage 
was gone as a candle that is suddenly blown out. Her tense 
figure loosed as though it were about to collapse, her livid 
features became gray and gaped and twitched with idiot 
looseness, her green eyes now blinked with stupefying fear 
and horror. 

“How—how did you—find it out ?” she finally asked, in a 
choked whisper. 

“I was told.” 

“But—they all promised they would never tell!” 

The next moment Gladys was abjectly clutching Cordelia, 
wildly pawing her, pouring out a frantic jumble of words. 
“You must never tell, Cordelia! Promise me you’ll never 
tell! Please! For God’s sake! It would ruin me—I 
couldn’t stand it—and I don’t deserve it! I’ll do anything 
you ask me to—I’ll give you anything—anything! Please! 
For God’s sake!” 

The very sight of this cringing, cowering creature, the 
instant before so arrogantly insulting, made Cordelia feel 



sick. She wanted to throw off those clutching hands, close 
her eyes against that slavering face. But before she could 
reply to Gladys, Gladys had entered a new phase. 

“It's all a lie, Cordelia! He is not my child! I swear 
it! He’s Esther’s! They’ve put it on me to shield her! 
To shield her! Just because by accusing me and threaten¬ 
ing me they can make me pay money! I even have to pay 
Esther. It’s the God’s truth! I swear it! You believe 
me, Cordelia—of course you believe me!” 

Cordelia pulled away from the hands that had alternately 
clutched and imploringly patted her. 

“Don’t lie like that!” 

“It’s not a lie! It’s the God’s truth, Cordelia! It’s the 
God’s truth! I swear it!” 

There was a knock at Cordelia’s door. Again Gladys was 
clinging to Cordelia, whispering frantically. 

“Don’t make a sound! Don’t answer!” 

“Come in!” Cordelia called. 

The door opened and Esther entered, wearing a dressing- 

“I thought I heard Gladys in a temper at you, Cordelia, 
and I thought I’d better come in and stop her,” Esther said. 
And then with surprise she noted the attitude of the pair, 
Gladys imploringly holding to Cordelia. “Why this sudden 
change? What’s it all been about?” 

“Don’t say a word, Cordelia!” Gladys gasped quickly. 
“Please! I never told that before to anybody, and I’ll never 
let it go any further. Not a word, please—for Esther’s 

“What is it?” Esther demanded sharply. 

Cordelia’s reply was drawn from her not alone by Esther’s 
question; she saw in this new development of the situation 
her opportunity to learn yet more of the truth. 


“I had learned that Gladys was the mother of Frangois, 
and told her so. She was just denying it and was saying 
you were his mother.” 

Esther crossed, took Gladys by one shoulder and looked 
squarely and sternly into the frightened face for a long 
moment. Gladys’ gaze wavered and fell. 

“I—I lost my head,” Gladys stammered in a whisper. 
“It’s—it’s true about me, Cordelia.” 

Esther loosed her hold upon her step-sister and turned to 
Cordelia. “How did you learn of this?” 

Cordelia had had her answer prepared these many days, 
and it came out with convincing simplicity, and in a man¬ 
ner to awaken no suspicion that all this might be the result 
of preparation and part of a great plan. 

“I told Gladys that some one had told me. That was not 
true; I was angry when I said it. The fact merely is that 
I had noted a likeness between Gladys and Frangois, and 
a possibility had popped into my head. A while ago Gladys 
came in here and was very insulting. I completely lost my 
temper, and struck back by accusing her of being Frangois’ 
mother. She admitted it. With me, the whole thing was 
just a shot in the dark that chanced to strike the target. 
That’s all there is to it. And I’m very sorry that I lost 
my temper.” 

Cordelia perceived that her explanation had entirely con¬ 
vinced the two. 

Again Gladys was eagerly fawning upon her. “It’s not 
so bad as you think, Cordelia. You know only the worst; 
it’s not fair to me to have you think the worst of me. And 
since you know the worst, I want you to know all of it. 
Then you’ll see that I’m not really to blame, that luck’s 
been unfair to me all the way through. Listen—I’ll tell 
you the whole story.” 



But just then soft steps were heard crossing the room. 
The three women whirled about. Coming toward them 
was Mitchell. He had entered and closed the door so noise¬ 
lessly that they had not guessed his presence. 

“What are you doing here?” Esther demanded sharply. 

Cordelia had long been wanting to see the butler’s face 
when it would not be the face of the butler. She again had 
her wish. The face was keen, and smiling, with the cool, 
easy, ironical good humor of one who feels himself the 
thorough master. In this unmasking smile, in this real Mitch¬ 
ell which Cordelia felt she was glimpsing for the first 
time, there was nothing brutal, nothing vulgar, nothing men¬ 
acing. A villain and a devil undoubtedly, Cordelia thought 
—but a gentlemanly devil. 

“I’m here, Esther, my dear,” Mitchell answered with 
bland pleasantry, “because I happened to be watching our 
darling Gladys, and I saw the look on her dear face as she 
followed Miss Marlowe upstairs. That look made me fear 
that something was due to happen which might possibly 
concern me. So I followed Gladys, and—you will all excuse 
me, I am sure, for you will admit that a gentleman must 
be prepared to protect his name and his interests—and I 
listened outside the door. I heard all that was said, for 
the singing voice of our Gladys has a carrying quality that 
has been equalled only by Madame Sembrich in her voidest 
days. I heard Esther stirring in her room; I got out of sight; 
I saw her come in here; I decided the party would not be 
complete without me, and entered just behind her. Is my 
explanation sufficiently adequate, dear Esther?” 

“You will leave us this instant!” 

“I’m sorry to appear disobliging to you, Esther; partic¬ 
ularly since, as you know, I admire you so thoroughly and 
since you and I have really always gotten on very well to- 


gether. But I must remain; I have business in this com¬ 

“You get out of here!” snapped Gladys in her choking 
scream. “Get out!” 

Mitchell regarded her with sober, rebuking face. “Gladys, 
I’ve often told you that I feared I’d be compelled to turn 
you across my knee and spank you. Unless you compose 
yourself, I shall have to conduct that somewhat intimate 
ceremony before the eyes of the present assemblage.” 

She glowered at him furiously, but held her tongue. 

“I shall remain,” Mitchell continued, “because I over¬ 
heard that our little story was to be told in full to Miss 
Marlowe. I feel that it is my right to be present to check 
up on the details which concern me, and to see that I am not 

Cordelia, her interest in the story racing ahead, could no 
longer hold back the surmise which had been with her these 
many days. 

“I already know your part. You are Frangois’ father. 
Fve seen how fond you are of him.” 

Mitchell turned on her a pained, reproachful look. 

“You are correct about my being very fond of Frangois, 
Miss Marlowe”—and at that moment she felt all doubts of 
the sincerity of his affection for the boy vanish. “But really 
now, aren’t you rather unjust to me when you think that I 
would choose such a person as Gladys to be the mother of 
my child?” 

“You—you—” choked Gladys. 

“Careful, Gladys, careful. Remember your weak heart, 
and don’t forget the dangers of apoplexy. Shall we get 
along with our history? It’s a long story, and I’m sure we 
will endure it better if we are seated.” 

He drew chairs together: not with his manner of a butler- 



ing automaton, but with smiling ornate courtesy that was 
seasoned with mockery: mockery which Cordelia sensed 
was directed chiefly at Gladys. Cordelia could not keep her 
eyes off his smiling face; she did not know what to make 
of the man; but somehow she felt growing in her a tentative, 
dubious liking for him, even though he did seem an un¬ 
doubted scoundrel. 

“And now that we are all comfortable and cozy,” con¬ 
tinued the easy pleasant voice of Mitchell, “let’s unfold our 



And so in the stillness of half-past four in the morning, 
with the chief figures of Gladys’ great world from which 
she had been striving to hide her story sleeping in profound 
unsuspicion all about her, the hidden and repented romance 
of Gladys was at last unfolded to Cordelia: Gladys, Esther 
and Mitchell all contributing their portions to the history. 
In the telling there was bickering and denial from Gladys, 
contradictions, explanations, elaborations, corrections from 
the other two. It revealed no new aspect of Gladys’ char¬ 
acter : it merely threw into stronger, more dramatic light the 
Gladys that was known: an heiress of leisure who believed 
that to her belonged the world, who loved whatever shone 
brilliantly at the top, whose egotistical will brushed aside 
all opposition and seized with swift directness what it de¬ 
sired, and who dodged and frantically ran away from any 
unpleasant consequences of having had her own imperious 

The tale was a portrait of Gladys’ soul. But in truth not 
of her alone, for New York City, America, has its ten 
thousand Gladyses: duplicates in soul, differing only in the 
details of their different social levels. 

Reduced to its essentials, and arranged in chronological 
order, the history which the three told in fragments, was a 
story which in its earlier phases was matched by scores of 
love affairs that developed swiftly and rushed to swift con- 




summation during the reckless emotionalism of the Great 
War. In the Paris of that period Romance took no thought 
of the morrow; that vast belt of bursting shells and stifling 
gas which bounded northern France had destroyed all cer¬ 
tainty of a morrow. To-day was the only certainty; and 
recklessly, without thought of the future, Romance seized its 
only chance. 

In 1916, Gladys had met a Sergeant Grayson of the Cana¬ 
dian Forces while he was spending his leave in Paris. He 
was the latest of those young heroes who, at that period, 
were shining for their brief day with the glory of a supreme 
fixed star, only to have their brilliant flames flicker swiftly 
into oblivion. During this day of his glory he was being 
universally praised, and he had been slated for a commission. 
The glamour of his fame, the adulation with which his 
friends exalted him, made him from the first moment a figure 
of super-fascination to Gladys; and even when on the day 
of their first meeting he informed her that he was a citizen 
of the United States, and that until he had crossed into Can¬ 
ada and enlisted he had been a mechanic in a Detroit auto¬ 
mobile factory—even that admission of his lowly origin had 
not lessened her fervid adoration. He was a great hero; 
the hero of the hour. He was utterly splendid. Within 
two days they were engaged, and they determined upon mar¬ 
riage before his return to the front. 

Gladys now confided her great honor and happiness 
to Esther Stevens, who was at this time confined to the 
hospital of the Countess de Crecy with influenza. Esther 
had opposed the marriage. 

“Do you think he’s not good enough for me?” Gladys 
had demanded, “because he was once a mechanic ?” 

“He may be altogether too good for you. I can’t say, 
since I have never seen him. But that has nothing whatever 



to do with my attitude. I am thinking of you both when I say 
the two of you are now living in a period of hysteria, and 
when I ask you both to remember that your marriage, en¬ 
tered into in this time of high emotion, will be lived out 
through sober, commonplace years. Neither of you is now 
in a state of mind to choose the person who will best suit 
you during the unexciting and perhaps disillusioning years 
which will come when this awful war is over. Be good 
friends in the meantime, but wait till peace and a normal 
state of mind return before you decide upon marriage.” 

“Then you won’t give your consent?” 

“Most definitely I will not. Later on you will thank me 
for holding you back from such a course.” 

Gladys had argued no further and had not told Sergeant 
Grayson of Esther’s objection. She was not going to let 
any stick like Esther tell her whom and when she could 
marry. She had taken the lead in the matter, and two days 
later she and Sergeant Grayson, accompanied by his best 
friend Sergeant Farrell, had slipped away and been secretly 
married. Three days after the marriage Sergeant Grayson 
had left Paris to rejoin his company. 

He had not been gone another three days—less than a 
week had passed since the marriage—when Gladys had begun 
to regret her action, and every day her regret had become 
more acute. It grew into shame. Each day in that period 
of the War had its own brilliant hero, and in the swift suc¬ 
cession of radiances that flashed across the sky of hero¬ 
ism, the fame of Sergeant Grayson was sadly dimmed—in 
fact it was being all but forgotten save by a very few. In 
that epoch of great and crowding events, a single day was a 
long span of life for average hero-ship. 

With Grayson’s fame faded, his glamour gone, Gladys was 
confronted with the unromantic reality that she was secretly 



married to a nobody who was just an automobile mechanic. 
Her soul writhed with the awful humiliation of her situa¬ 
tion. She, Gladys Norworth, married to an ordinary me¬ 
chanic ! What would her world say when it learned ? What 
was she ever, ever going to do? 

And then, when Grayson had left her hardly more than a 
fortnight, and before his actual promotion to a lieutenancy, 
there had come the news of his death in action. This news 
had gained no more space than a brief paragraph; that was 
how long hero-ship lasted in those tense days. 

Gladys had wept when she heard this news. She had 
wept from relief. Since soldiers had to die anyhow, his 
death had been providential. How lucky she had been in 
that the marriage had been a secret one! Now, no one need 
ever know of her shame; not even Esther, who had advised 
against the marriage. His death had given her story its 
only possible happy ending. 

Perhaps no young widow was ever before so happy as 

A month after her husband’s death, Sergeant Farrell, who 
had just gained his commission as a lieutenant, reappeared 
in Paris and called upon the widow of his friend. From the 
first moment of his call Gladys made no attempt to conceal 
that she considered her marriage a terrible mesalliance, that 
she was happy to be so easily freed from such an entangle¬ 
ment. Lieutenant Farrell called again, and on this occasion 
she noted that his manner was strained, embarrassed; it 
frightened her; and finally she drew from Farrell that which 
made her profoundly grateful to the great luck which had 
been guarding her. Before Sergeant Grayson had gone 
into his final action, so Farrell told her, he had had a premo¬ 
nition that his end was close upon him, and he had confessed 
to Farrell that some fifteen months earlier he had married 



a poor French girl in Paris; and he had asked his friend, 
in the event of his death, to carry out his instructions for 
providing for this earlier wife. To attend to these instruc¬ 
tions was Farrell’s present business in Paris. Through 
Lieutenant Farrell Gladys met the French wife. There was 
an infant of four or five months; also a wedding certificate. 

With this new development Gladys at first went almost 
frantic with fear—horror—with an even greater shame. A 
bigamous wife! No marriage at all! The bigamous wife 
of a mere mechanic, hardly better than her own chauffeur! 
How her friends, how all Europe, how all America, would 
laugh at her if they knew the truth! 

And then she remembered. Grayson was dead. The 
marriage had been a secret. In response to her frenzied 
appeal, Farrell promised silence, as much for his dead com¬ 
rade’s good name as for her own. Again Gladys was saved! 
No one need ever know! It would be just as though it 
all had never happened! 

She felt an inner shame, a vast chagrin, over her secret 
humiliation; and she knew she would always feel this chagrin 
and shame. But the world would never know of her shame 
■—that was the great thing! The world would never know ! 
Oh, but how luck had been with her when she had decided 
to keep that awful marriage secret! 

Relief flooded into her, her old pride in herself returned. 
But this relief and pride were of brief duration. Soon 
Gladys knew she was to be a mother. Once more a frenzy 
of fear and shame seized upon her, unsettling all control, 
all reason. No longer was silence possible. She told Esther 
of the clandestine marriage; told her everything, and de¬ 
manded to be saved. Esther wasted no single word in re¬ 
proof ; she suggested that they investigate that earlier mar¬ 
riage. The frantic Gladys would not hear of this; the 



marriage was all right, and investigation would lead inevi¬ 
tably to the discovery of her own illegal marriage and of 
her shame. Esther tried to discuss a reasonable course with 
her; but Gladys would have no such procedure. She had 
thought of a way by which the world would never know; 
if Esther would not help her she would kill herself. 

Esther had had to yield to Gladys’ plan—in its essentials 
a very ancient plan. At this time France was already ask¬ 
ing aid of its friends in handling the problem of its war 
orphans. In conformity with Gladys’ demand Esther let 
it be known that she and Gladys had decided to adopt an 
infant, and had her application registered with the proper 
relief organizations. Thus suspicion was forestalled. Then 
—through the kindness of the Countess de Crecy the two 
were transferred to duty in a hospital at Dijon. Shortly 
thereafter they took a secluded villa in the hills outside the 
city; and in this closely guarded sanctuary Frangois was 
bom. When Gladys’ strength was fully regained she and 
Esther returned to Paris, where Esther sent word to the 
various relief organizations with which she had previously 
filed applications that they had been suited in the matter of an 
orphan. Thereupon, in due legal form, Esther and Gladys 
jointly adopted little Frangois, and on their return to New 
York at the close of the War this joint adoption had been 

In Paris toward the end of the war Farrell, now a Cap¬ 
tain, had once more called on Gladys. He had seen the 
boy, and Gladys had told him of the adoption. He had 
smiled, but by no word had he given a hint that he was 
aware of the deception. 

Back in America Gladys considered that all was safely 
hidden. She was now even grateful that the marriage had 
not been legal, was even reconciled to Frangois’ illegiti- 



macy; for had the marriage been legal, she would, in her 
first terror at learning she was to become a mother, have 
made known the marriage, and that marriage to a mechanic 
would have made her an absurd figure to be forever laughed 
at. Yes, granting her original mistake, things had all turned 
for the very best. 

For two years since her return to America, Gladys had 
felt this security—though keeping to herself—and given 
thanks to her protecting stars. 

And then one day Farrell, now a civilian, had called upon 
her. He was in a sad financial way, he had told her; he 
had regretfully referred to an episode of Parisian days, and 
had intimated that he might be driven to make profitable use 
elsewhere of his knowledge of that adventure, and of the 
maternity of Frangois, offspring of that brief and regretted 
romance. The old-time fear of Gladys had leaped from its 
peaceful grave in twice-fold its former greatest panic. The 
upshot was that Farrell had become her butler, and his 
butler’s wages were but a small fraction of the money he 
was being paid. 

Such was the story that came from Gladys, Esther and 
Mitchell. Through it all Mitchell smiled with satiric, imper¬ 
turbable good-humor, every moment perfectly at his ease, 
with no evidence of feeling guilt or shame. 

There was one aspect of the situation that still puzzled 
Cordelia. Why should Mitchell, able to make Gladys pay 
any price for his silence, have chosen to become her butler? 
During the recital he had apparently shown no desire 
to hold anything back, so Cordelia now asked him this 

“I was still suffering from having been gassed,” he an¬ 
swered. “I thought that a good home, a quiet life, and light 
work would help my recovery.” 



His quizzical amiable smile made Cordelia feel that he 
was playing with her. 

“You said something of the same sort to me the other day. 
But that wasn’t your real reason.” 

“It was a real reason, but possibly not my greatest reason. 
You see, Grayson was my best friend, and despite his some¬ 
what Oriental aptitude for wives, I admired him as a real 
man. I rather resented the manner in which Gladys 
promptly began to look down upon him—even before she 
knew of his instinct for connubial plurality. And somehow, 
after she did learn, I was yet more resentful of the way she 
came to be ashamed of him, not because of his mulierose fail¬ 
ing, but because he had been a mechanic. So it pleased my 
low, vengeful nature to be close to Gladys where I could rub 
things in a bit and watch her squirm.” 

“That may also have been a reason,” said Cordelia, “but it 
doesn’t sound like your main reason.” 

“And right you are, Miss Marlowe.” His smile was bland, 
enigmatic. “But that’s all the witness can admit at the pres¬ 
ent moment. Perhaps you will some day learn the main 
reason—perhaps you will not. It will depend very largely 
on what our dear Gladys does.” 

Through all the talk Gladys had maintained an attitude of 
belligerent resentment toward the others, of an indignant, 
poignant sympathy for herself. She now burst forth. 

“It’s not fair, the way you’ve talked about me!” she cried. 
“And it’s not fair, the fix I’m in and the way I suffer! I’m 
not to blame! I never did anything wrong, not inten¬ 
tionally !” 

“People suffer sometimes as much from their foolish acts 
as from their sins,” said Esther. 

“I wasn’t foolish! I was just plain unlucky! And be¬ 
cause I was merely unlucky, I’ve got this thing hanging over 



my head—and with Mitchell always threatening to tell !” 

“If you had only acknowledged your marriage at the time 
as I begged you to,” Esther remarked with the bored patience 
of one repeating an oft-made argument, “and had not tried 
to conceal the other things, people would have been inclined 
to regard you merely as unfortunate, and many people would 
have sympathized with you; and by now the whole affair 
would have been accepted and partly forgotten. And you 
would not have Mitchell and his threats hanging over your 

“Exactly what I have often told Gladys myself,” com¬ 
mented the bland voice of Mitchell. 

“No use talking about what I might have done!” Gladys 
cried bitterly. 

“Even now,” Esther continued, “it would be best for you 
if you told the facts. That would free you instantly of 

“It’s the truth,” agreed Mitchell. “It would end me in a 
second. I’ve often told you that, Gladys. And in the future, 
please remember that I am now giving you that advice again. 
So go to it, Gladys—tell everything.” 

“And have everybody laugh at me, and turn away from 
me!” Her voice was again rising toward a shriek of exas¬ 
perated rebellion at her unjust fate. “I may be suffering, I 
may be paying, but what I’ve got is worth what I pay!” 

“All the same,” said Esther with a grim sigh, “I wish it 
would all come out somehow, so we’d be through with this 

The very idea was too much for Gladys’ raw nerves. She 
again lost herself in panic and seized Esther’s arm. 

“Esther, if that ever happens, you’ll stand by me! Re¬ 
member, you promised! You’ll stand by me, Esther! Like 
you said!” 



“On the condition we agreed upon.” 

“You mean Frangois?” 


“But, Esther—” 

“You know Frangois is the only thing that keeps me here 
in your house. I care for him more than you do, and I’m a 
better mother to him. He’s to be mine—all mine, remember. 
You still promise that?” 

Gladys wet her lips. Her green eyes were still bright with 
their frantic apprehension. 

“Yes—yes,” she whispered. 

Before Cordelia could even wonder what this unknown 
compact might be, Gladys had whirled about and had cring¬ 
ing, fawning hands upon her. 

“You see I’m just the victim of bad luck, Cordie, don’t 
you? You understand that, don’t you, dear? And you’ll 
never tell what you’ve heard to-night! Promise me you’ll 
never tell! Think how it would hurt me! Give me your 

Cordelia remembered her mission in this house, her obliga¬ 
tion to Mr. Franklin. Her reply was carefully evasive. 

“I give you my promise that I shall never say a word to 
injure you.” 

“Thank you, Cordie—oh, thank you!” And then at once, 
her hands menacingly crooked, she was glaring at Cordelia 
in furious, suspicious hatred. “I don’t believe you! It’ll 
be just like you to tell Jerry Plimpton! You’d play any 
trick to get him away from me!” 

“Gladys!” Esther caught her arm and pulled her back¬ 

Once more there was a swift change in Gladys. Again she 
cringed and cowered. 

“I didn’t mean it, Cordie. I just went out of my head. 



That’s all—I just went out of my head. If you’d been 
through all I’ve been through, you wouldn’t blame me for 
forgetting myself occasionally.” 

“You’re coming straight to bed!” ordered Esther in un¬ 
disguised disgust, and with a “good-night” to Cordelia, she 
led Gladys toward the door. 

Mitchell held the door open for them, and bowed and 
whispered a courteous, pleasant-toned “good-night” as they 
passed. Then he turned and moved quickly back to Cor¬ 
delia, and smiled at her his provokingly ironic but good- 
natured smile. 

“There are a few things we still have to say, you and 
I, Miss Marlowe. I shall call for you in ten minutes. I’d 
rather like a ride in that car of yours. You might change 
into something suitable.” 

With that Mitchell moved swiftly out and closed the door. 



Mitchell’s request, or command, accorded perfectly with 
Cordelia’s own desire. He had not half revealed his true 
character, she was sure of that; and she was almost as 
curious to learn more of his suave, debonair, mocking per¬ 
sonality as she was to learn why he wished to talk to her, and 
what he might have to say, at five o’clock in the morning. 

She changed rapidly into a suit, her thoughts racing ex¬ 
ultantly. At last she had the full secret of Rolling Meadows 
which she had been commissioned to secure. Mr. Franklin 
would be surprised—-she could imagine his surprise when 
she told him!—at the promptness of her work, as well as 
at the clever manner in which she had stilled all suspicion 
by pretending that her discovery was a pure accident pre¬ 
cipitated by a pardonable loss of temper. He would praise 
her again; praise her warmly, for she deserved it. Cer¬ 
tainly Cordelia Marlowe had proved again that she could 
manage things! No one could have handled the affair in 
a more clever way! 

And certainly she was earning the money which was keep¬ 
ing her at the top. After this proof positive of her ability 
and practical usefulness in helping to handle a big and deli¬ 
cate affair—her ability as an endowed and very private good 
angel to help save people in distress—-there was no doubt of 
her remaining in triumph and admiration, through her own 
efforts, up in her accustomed place. 




She wondered just how Mr. Franklin was going to handle 
the formidable yet indefinite force which Mitchell was. 
Of course he would somehow quickly rid Gladys of her in¬ 
cubus; that was Mr. Franklin’s business. She felt regret 
that she necessarily would receive no public credit for her 
great share in this service. 

And yet Cordelia felt no thrill of elation on the score 
that it was Gladys whom her clever, anonymous efforts were 
to extricate. Fundamentally, and aside from Gladys’ char¬ 
acter, Gladys’ situation was commonplace enough, was even 
excusable; a marriage she had believed legal, and a child 
from that marriage. Only the fact that Gladys was Gladys, 
and insisted on being Gladys, had developed what should 
have been merely an unfortunate affair into a potential 
charge of social dynamite. Really, it didn’t matter much 
what happened to Gladys. She deserved just about every¬ 
thing she was likely to get. 

But, oh, what an explosion the thing would make! That 
is, if any one ever touched off the charge! 

In her swift meditation, her hasty moralizing, Cordelia 
did not perceive a certain likeness, a sistership, between 
herself and Gladys: that in different ways, both she and 
Gladys were striving for the same end: to keep from falling 
from their high places into disrepute or oblivion—to retain 
their splendid places in this beautiful world which was theirs 
by right, the only world they knew, the only world in which 
living seemed possible. 

When a cautious knock sounded, Cordelia opened her door 
and stepped into the hall. Mitchell had exchanged his but¬ 
ler’s coat in favor of a dark sack suit. 

“No one will see us,” he said, “there’ll be nobody stirring 
for hours. But if we are seen, you can mention casually 
that you had a headache, thought a ride might cure it, and 



asked me to go along as a sort of footman to guard against 
the busy ubiquitous bandit who is making New York fa¬ 
mous. Of course,” he added with his mocking smile, “we 
might have talked in your room—but a tete-a-tete in your 
room at five a. m. with a man, and a butler at that, might 
possibly have led to a scandal, and God knows we’re not 
starving for another scandal at Rolling Meadows.” 

Five minutes later the roadster was flitting through the 
pearl-gray dawn. They drove inland a few miles, turned 
into a dirt road, then swung into a track which led into an 
unfenced woodland of the low scrub pine which on most of 
Long Island is the only excuse for forest. A hundred yards 
within, Cordelia stilled the motor in a little spot that had 
been cleared by fire. Above the scrawny, ignoble trees the 
morning was stealthily pushing up its edge of salmon-pink. 

She turned to her strange passenger. His manner was 
courteous enough, but he was regarding her with that iron¬ 
ical, whimsical, challenging smile which that night she 
had seen for the first time break through his butler’s mask. 

“Is this place quiet enough for your purpose?” she 

“It is perfection,” he answered. “I wish to compliment 
you on your courage in coming to so secluded a spot with 
a man of my character.” 

“Don’t talk rot!” she said shortly. “Why did you wish 
to see me?” 

“Because I knew you wished to see me, and it is my 
instinct to gratify a lady’s every wish. No, m>—excuse 
me—don’t be angry,” he said quickly, as he noted the hot 
flash in Cordelia’s eyes. “I’m so used to chaffing Gladys 
that I get started in that manner before I think. I’ll be 
serious. No, not too serious; but I’ll try to talk sense. 
I wanted to see you, and see you promptly, because I 



thought we might have some interests in common. At 
least your discovery made you a possible menace to my 
interests. So I thought we’d better talk things out.” 

“What shall I call you?” she asked abruptly. 

“Mitchell will do as well as anything else.” 

“But that is not your real name.” 

“So I informed you. Nor is Farrell my real name. 
We’ll have to keep the real name on the list of things un¬ 
knowable for a time. If you ever feel you know me well 
enough, you may call me Bob. Till then, in private as we 
now are, you may address me as Mr. Mitchell. But in pub¬ 
lic I will be just plain Mitchell.” 

She saw this last speech was meant neither to tease nor 
to offend her. She regarded him with a direct, cross-exam¬ 
ining gaze, which he met with a courteous smile. 

“Just who are you?” she demanded. 

“I told you who I am the other day.” 

There was just one way of dealing with such an impudent, 
facetious person: that was to take the upper hand, and to 
give him straight-from-the-shoulder talk, to ask hard, direct 

“I don’t believe a bit of that story you told me the other 
day,” she said severely, “about how you came to be a butler. 
You told at least two lies that I know to be lies!” 

Her accusation did not seem greatly to fluster him. 
“Just which two lies are you referring to?” 

“You told me then that you had known Gladys and Esther 
only a few months; that you had not met them in France. 
You had known them for five years.” 

“Yes, that does sound rather as if I had fibbed. And 
the other one?” 

“You told me you were working as a butler because you 
needed light work. You had been gassed, you said, and 



were still weak. You weak! That night you let me in, 
and I fell, you picked me up as if I were a feather.” 

'‘Yes, that does sound like another fib,” he admitted. 

“And what’s more, I knew at the time you told them 
that they were lies!” 

“And I,” he said gently, “at the time I told them knew 
that you knew they were lies.” 

“What!” she stared at him. “Then why did you tell 

“That I shall answer at some other time—perhaps.” 

“How did you know that I knew?” 

“How did you know that I was lying?” he countered. 

She did not answer. That eavesdropping at the window 
of the child’s play-house was a matter about which she 
preferred to say nothing. 

“I shall answer your question before we leave here,” he 
said. “And perhaps you may find that my answer is the 
answer to both your question and my question. Now as to 
the lies I told you”—his tone had become that of apologetic 
inquiry—“is a person really lying when he is fully conscious 
that his lies are not deceiving his listener ?” 

“That is pure quibbling!” she exclaimed. 

“When is a lie not a lie? Always an interesting subject. 
But discussing it might lead into metaphysical labyrinths 
far from our present business. Perhaps we’d better return 
to your original question: Just who am I?” 

“Yes, who are you?” She was still trying to keep her 
attitude of ascendency. “You have some of the qualities 
of a gentleman. And you are something more than just 
a butler. Why are you masquerading like this? Just who 
are you?” 

His answer was not direct; he spoke whimsically, mock¬ 
ingly, teasingly. 



“Suppose we consider the possibilities—since you think 
I’m masquerading. Just who might I be? I might be 
a sociologist, or a novelist, masquerading to get first-hand 
material for a book upon the idle rich. Or I might be 
an ardent lover, playing a part to be near the one I love; 
some more “She Stoops to Conquer” kind of stuff, this time 
with reverse English. Or I might be Haroun-al-Raschid, 
disguised and moving shadow-like about my own particular 
Bagdad, to see how my subjects, my servants, live, so that 
I may be more kindly and more wise and more just. Or I 
might be an international spy, seeking to discover the docu¬ 
ment and the plot and thereby foil the enemy. Or I might 
be a gentleman detective. Or I might be a harum-scarum 
clubman, lately on a carouse, now fulfilling the terms of the 
foolish bet he lost. I might be— But why go on ? You can 
supply all the possibilities; you’ve met all these situations, 
all these characters, in stories.” 

“But just which one of these are you?” 

“Just which one I am not telling.” 

“But why not?” she persisted. 

“For my own reasons. Perhaps because I like the amuse¬ 
ment of keeping you guessing at mystery. And perhaps 
because if I told you who I really am, and why I am doing 
what I am, you wouldn’t believe me. You’d say it was 
utterly improbable. And it would seem so amazingly 
improbable merely because it is really so simple and prob¬ 

“You are talking riddles,” she said. 

“No—just now I’m trying to talk most simple truth. If 
ever you do learn all about me, that’s what will surprise 
you—the obviousness of everything. I’m the most obvious 
man alive; you merely don’t happen to see me, that is all. 
The only surprise you’ll ever get is that there is nothing 



at all to be surprised at. So I warn you—please expect 

“That makes you sound more of a mystery than 

“Who knows”—and his cool eyes were now laughing at 
her—“perhaps that’s just what I was trying to make myself 
sound like!” 

His talk, while piquing her curiosity, had half angered 
her. It had seemed to her that all the while he had been 
quietly trying to make sport of her. 

“Whoever you are,” she declared, “you will admit that 
you have behaved like a scoundrel! And you will admit 
that you are a scoundrel!” 

“Yes, I am a scoundrel,” he agreed amiably, as though 
he liked the character. “And when you know all about me, 
if you ever do, you’ll know positively I am a scoundrel. 
Whatever mistakes you may make concerning me, don’t 
mistake me for anything else.” 

“But you are a man of ability, even if you are a rogue. 
Why waste your time being a butler ?” 

“I’m not wasting my time. I do not know of anything I 
could do at present that would pay me as well as Gladys is 
paying me. Besides, I am learning a lot which may later 
be of use to me. Besides, I like comedy; and I don’t know 
of any better comedy than those self-appreciating fine 
people now at Rolling Meadows giving me orders and my 
taking them like an inanimate, errorless automaton. Besides 
•— But, excuse me—my chief reason for being a butler is 
one of those little items I am keeping to myself for the 

“You realize, of course, that you are practising black¬ 
mail ?” 

“Blackmail, of course,” he agreed pleasantly. 



“Do you consider that honorable for a man?” she asked 

“But, my dear Miss Marlowe,” he mildly protested, “Fve 
just been telling you I am not an honorable man. I’m a 
scoundrel. And a scoundrel just naturally blackmails. He 
can’t help it; it’s what he was made for, just as a singer was 
made to sing. And if he must blackmail, can you think of 
any individual belonging to any discovered sex who more 
thoroughly deserves to be blackmailed than Gladys ?” 

Cordelia found herself without an answer. 

“As I said earlier to-night I could not touch Gladys if 
she had the decency and courage to play square. But Gladys 
is a snob and a sneak and a coward. She thinks she is 
overwhelmingly important; what the world thinks of her 
means everything to her. And I know of no worse indict¬ 
ment against the world than that the fool world does bow 
down and worship her and her kind. For proof of this, 
see the photograph supplements of the New York Sunday 
papers. I mean no personal offense, but your own portrait 
is often in that same gallery of the brief immortals. I’m 
no Socialist, no Anarchist; I’m not even a quasi-Malthusian, 
if you know what I mean; but I sometimes think that a 
social uprising, or a good-natured selective plague, that would 
reduce the population to the extent of eradicating these 
treasured, carefully bred feminine orchids—I sometimes 
think that such misfortune would be a grand favor to the 
human race. But I beg your pardon—I didn’t mean to 
grow serious and polemic.” 

Again Cordelia found herself without words, and found 
herself wondering more than ever at her companion. Was 
his talk mere persiflage, fantastic foolery, or behind it was 
there a vein of seriousness? 

“But to get back to my blackmailing of Gladys. I have 



yet another reason: a personal grudge. Whatever may have 
been Grayson’s faults, he was a real man and the best and 
truest friend I’ve ever had. If I ever loved a man, I loved 
him. I’m talking serious talk now. When I saw Gladys 
that second time in Paris and learned that, even before she’d 
heard that story of his other marriage, she’d grown ashamed 
of Grayson, my best friend, because he had been a mechanic 
—when I learned that she was really glad he was dead, 
because her secret marriage and her shame would not ever 
have to come out—why, I made up my mind right then that 
I’d make Gladys pay if ever my time came! And I’m mak¬ 
ing her pay, not just with the money I’m getting—I’m mak¬ 
ing her pay with the constant fear of being found out. And 
that’s the highest price you can get out of your Gladyses— 
the fear that they’ll be found out, and may go tumbling 
from their dazzling pedestals!” 

But instantly his grim tone was light again, and he was 
once more smiling quizzically at her. 

“I may have still another reason for my blackmailing—one 
that’s just a bit more human. Frangois is the son of my 
dearest friend; I regard him as my god-son; he’s the near¬ 
est thing to a relative that I now have living, and I think I 
couldn’t care more for him if he were my own child. Esther 
and I are his best friends; but Esther has no money of her 
own to take care of him with, and of course she has little 
use for me for I’m a bold bad blackmailer. Who knows 
when Gladys won’t feel that she’s got to throw Frangois 
overboard to save herself? And who knows when some 
clever man—she’ll fall for a man who’ll flatter her in the 
right way—may not get hold of her fortune and manage to 
lose it, big as it is? And who knows that I’m not taking 
Gladys’ money, while she’s still got it, in order to save and 
invest it for Frangois’ later use? Who knows that what I’m 



doing is not merely taking out insurance for the son against 
his mother’s folly?” 

Cordelia recalled the letter she had found in his room, 
which referred to remittances which were to return a rich 

“And that’s what you’ve been doing—investing all that 
money for Francois?” 

“Who knows ? And even if I were to declare I was doing 
it all for Francois, you know you should not believe an 
admitted scoundrel.” 

He was now smiling openly. “But why your repugnance 
to blackmailing? Fundamentally it is one of our most im¬ 
portant and respected business institutions. Its principle 
is exactly the same as that of all other successful business; 
one secures an advantage over another person which the 
second person cannot resist, and one uses that advantage. 
That’s how the captains of industry, also the lieuten¬ 
ants, sergeants, corporals and buck privates, all got theirs 
if they ever got very much. And blackmail in its 
less agreeable forms—why, we’re all mixed up in 
it. We’re all either holding people up, or being held 
up, because of big scandals or little annoyances and 
inconveniences which we are able to threaten and inflict 
or which we wish to escape. Why, I dare say even 
you, Miss Marlowe, if you would scrutinize your life, have 
paid or may be paying blackmail in some form in order to 
avoid something which may seem to you unpleasant. No, 
you really must not say anything against our sacred institu¬ 
tion of blackmail. That would be sacrilegious. Without 
exacting it or paying it how could we be comfortable and 
respectable ?” 

She did not know exactly why, but Cordelia had a sense 
that this talk was becoming uncomfortably personal. 

i 5 8 


“Is this why you asked me here,” she inquired, “to air: 
your philosophy of blackmail?” 

“I beg your pardon! I entirely forgot myself. When I 
get an audience, I’m as glib, as quenchless, as authoritative 
and quite as meaningless as an English novelist on an Ameri¬ 
can lecture tour.” Abruptly his appearance changed; his 
satiric eyes became keen, searching. “You’re right—I didn’t 
ask you here to listen to the mere wagging of a loose tongue. 
It seemed to me that our games had become pretty thor¬ 
oughly tangled and that we should have a frank show-down. 
I’ve told you about myself. Now just what is your game?” 

She started. 

“My game!” 

“You’re not acting that innocent surprise at all well,” he 
said sharply. “Yes, your game. Surely you don’t think 
I’m such a fool as to believe the tale you told Esther and 
Gladys? That your learning Gladys’ story was due entirely 
to an accident and the losing of your temper ?” 

Surprised though she was, she tried to be stiff, coldly in¬ 

“You may believe it or not; what you believe does not 
concern me. But what I told Gladys and Esther was the 

“I’m willing Gladys and Esther should think your tale the 
truth—provided it doesn’t interfere with me. But I know 
it is not the truth. For I know you came to Rolling Mead¬ 
ows to learn Gladys’ story, and that you learned it in conse¬ 
quence of persistent, careful planning. I say again your tale 
was not the truth, and again I ask you what’s your game?” 

“Mitchell!” she said haughtily. 

“Mr. Mitchell, when we’re in private,” he corrected. 

She stared at him, still trying to maintain her manner of 
haughty denial and indignation. 



“You might as well drop that pretense,” he directed— 
“we’ll get on better. I suspected you almost from the first, 
but I’ve been certain of your business at Rolling Meadows 
since the night I was talking to Gladys and Esther out in 
Gladys’ old play-house, and I heard you just outside the win¬ 
dow where you were listening. You will recall that I spoke 
of a draft and closed the window. I think you will now ad¬ 
mit I know what I am talking about.” 

She felt her dignity suddenly deserting her. 

“I believe that’s the promised answer to your question of 
a few minutes ago and also to my question: How did you 
know that I was lying ? And how did I know that you knew 
I was lying? Are you satisfied with my answer?” 

Her own answer was silence. 

“And that isn’t all I know. I’ve been watching you ever 
since. I knew what you were up to that day you thought you 
were questioning me so cleverly. And I know you got the 
story out of Gladys to-night through a skilfully prepared 
trick. I’m no fool! We’ll get to our point much more 
quickly if you’ll admit the truth. I’m right in all I said 
about you, am I not?” 

Against her will she slowly nodded. 

“That’s much better. Next: now what’s your game?” 

“I have no game.” Even to her own ears this sounded 

“Oh, yes, you have!” 

“None except that when I first came here I felt that 
something was wrong with Gladys. I thought if I found 
out what the trouble was, I might somehow help her get un¬ 
tangled. I had no other purpose.” 

“Of course you suspected me. Then you must have 
planned in advance some way of getting rid of me. How 
are you going to do it?” 



“I haven’t had a chance to think since I’ve known just 
what your hold on Gladys is. I see I can’t call the police. 
Can’t I appeal to your better nature to drop this—this 
persecution ?” 

“The better nature of a scoundrel? No. Besides, Gladys 
won’t want me to give up. She’ll feel safer to have me 
around where she thinks she knows what I’m doing. But 
to help Gladys—is that your only motive for hunting down 
this story?” 

“What other motive could I have?” 

“Gladys hinted pretty broadly at a possible one. It’s 
plain enough to every one that both you and she are inter¬ 
ested in that very rich, very handsome, and very exalted Mr. 
Plimpton. With this story you could certainly serve Mr. 
Plimpton with Gladys’ goose very thoroughly cooked.” 

This time Cordelia’s indignation was sincere enough. 

“I hope you do not think me that kind of a woman!” 

“I think not. But knowing Gladys has made me able 
to imagine a woman capable of doing anything.” He 
regarded her thoughtfully for a moment. “If you were not 
already a rich person, there is still another motive that 
might be ascribed to you. And a mighty big motive.” 

“What is that?’ 

“The one we were discussing a few minutes ago. The 
ancient and universal motive of blackmail. If you needed 
money, and were not handicapped with scruples, you could 
not have dug up a better asset than this story. Gladys would 
pay you any amount you cared to ask.” 

He caught the angry gleam of her eyes, and interrupted 
her before the rush of hot words got to her lips. 

“Oh, I don’t believe that. I merely mentioned it as a 
possibility that existed in the situation. Of course a per¬ 
son with your money would never even be tempted. Let’s 



shift to something more pleasant.” He was smiling at her 
again, respectfully enough, but with whimsical daring. “I’d 
much rather be on friendly terms, if that is possible. For 
I’ve read the cards and the tea-dregs and the stars in their 
courses; they tell me that you and I are to be much involved 
together. We are already mixed up a bit, you know.” 

“In what other way do they tell you we may be involved ?” 

“It’s rather early in our acquaintance for me to be too 
explicit,” he replied with grave mischief. “Their predictions 
pertain to—ah—romance. Cards, tea-dregs, the stars in 
their courses, my own eyes—they all tell me that your fate is 
entangled with the fates of many men. Excuse me for 
mentioning names. There is Mr. Plimpton, a wonderful 
match—wonderful! The usual social prophet would 
promptly predict a marriage there, but the tea-dregs are shy 
and non-committal. Then there is this lawyer, Mr. Franklin, 

“Mr. Franklin!” she ejaculated. 

“Didn’t you know ? I saw that in him at once. He wants 
to marry you. He’s clever and determined, and unless you 
wish to marry him you’d better be careful. Take my advice 
and be careful anyhow. There doubtless are many addi¬ 
tional men who represent romantic complications, but I my¬ 
self have knowledge of but one other.” 

“Since you are giving me a catalogue, what is the name of 
the third?” 

“His real name is not generally known. But people call 
him Mitchell.” 


“Oh, I’m not saying I’m really in love with you—yet. No 
more than you are in love with me—yet. But I do admire 
you, and you know what admiration often leads to. I do not 
mean to be impertinent. At least, not too impertinent. But 



since I was listing your possibilities, or your dangers—why, 
as an honest statistician, I was compelled to include myself. 
Now which of the three of us is it going to be? I wonder?” 

“You are altogether too impudent! We’ll be going back!” 
Her foot reached for the starter. 

“Just one more minute.” All levity was gone from his 
manner; he was impressively serious. “You may think I 
have talked nothing but nonsense. In this day the only way 
you can get hard facts listened to by the public is to play the 
humorist or the fool and present your realities as a fool’s 
jestings. But, believe me—I’ve been talking nothing but 
mighty hard facts! And perhaps the most important fact 
of all to you I have still to mention.” 

“What is that?” 

“Gladys. Your getting her secret may be the worst thing 
that possibly could have happened to you. She’ll fawn upon 
you, but you’ve won her eternal hatred. She’ll be always 
afraid that you may tell on her, and she’ll be always think¬ 
ing how she can destroy you, so that you cannot tell—or so 
that if you do tell, at least you will not be believed. And 
there is nothing that she will stop at. So look out for Gladys. 
And now you may step on that starter if you wish.” 

Twenty minutes later they were back at Rolling Mead¬ 
ows. The household was still hushed in its heavy Sunday 
morning slumber. The Mitchell who opened the front 
door for Cordelia, and stood aside for her to enter, was 
Mitchell the impersonal and impassive, whose butler’s face 
proclaimed that in all this thirty years he had never smiled. 

Cordelia was more bewildered, more curious than ever 
concerning this man. Just what was he, really? And par¬ 
ticularly just how much of a scoundrel? 



Although the household was still quiet with sleep, Cor¬ 
delia did not even go to bed. Too many things had hap¬ 
pened that night, and there were too many things to be 
thought out; and so she sat at an open window, her brain 
seething with meditations and plans. 

Wonder about Mitchell kept pushing into her mind. She 
promptly pushed it out. Mitchell could wait. She had more 
pressing matters. 

Her next step in this affair which she felt she was han¬ 
dling with much finesse and brilliance give Mr. Frank¬ 
lin immediately news of her achievement. It seemed to her 
indeed a happy coincidence, a fortunate omen—almost as 
though High Destiny was approving her action by giving 
this aid—that Mr. Franklin should be a guest at Rolling 
Meadows at the very hour she had brought their common 
endeavor to a successful issue. 

But fortunate though his presence was, nevertheless so 
serious an interview was not an easy matter to manage in this 
houseful of guests. The interview would have to appear 
unsuspicious to Esther, and particularly so to Gladys and 
Mitchell, and very likely both would be watching her every 
movement. As for Jerry, most important figure of them 
all—Jerry did not dream there was anything for him to 

Breakfast had been announced the previous night for ten 




o'clock for those who did not choose to be served in their 
rooms at a more indulgent hour; and when Cordelia came 
down at a few minutes before ten she believed she had 
her stratagem for the interview worked out. Mr. 
Franklin was waiting, and she managed a word aside with 
him before they entered the breakfast-room. 

“I have something to tell you/’ she whispered. “At 
the table ask me openly to drive you around and show you 
the country." 

Of all the merry-makers of the night before, there were 
only five whose energy or nerves brought them to the table: 
Gladys, Cordelia, Esther, Jerry Plimpton and Mr. Franklin, 
and of these probably only the two men had slept a moment. 
Gladys had appeared, so Cordelia guessed, only because it 
was her duty as hostess to greet her guests, and because 
nervous fear made her prefer to come down and be in the 
company of those who knew her secret, rather than remain 
in her room in an agony of frenzy and doubt as to what 
possibly was being whispered concerning her. Several times 
Gladys flashed glances at Cordelia; her green eyes were in 
turn pleading, defiant, dilated with swift terror. 

Jerry Plimpton stole several questioning looks at Gladys; 
he was puzzled. 

“What’s the matter this morning, Gladys?” he asked as 
they were finishing. “Aren’t you well?” 

“Me? Oh, I’m all right!” She laughed, but her laugh 
was high-pitched, almost hysterical. “I just didn’t sleep 
much—perhaps I was too excited from the dancing—and 
I had one of my awful nightmares.” 

Just then little Frangois, who had managed the great 
adventure of an escape from his governess, came wander¬ 
ing into the breakfast-room with the flushed happy smile of 
childish success. Esther had a moment before gone out to 



search for him and relieve Jeanne. Gladys was nearest 
him, and toward her he ran gleefully and clutched her arm. 

“Oh, Mother Gladys—” he began. 

Gladys sprang up frantically, overturning her chair. 

“Don’t you call me that!” she cried wildly, flinging off 
his hand. “Go away from me! Leave me alone!” 

Frangois, frightened, began to cry. For a moment Cor¬ 
delia thought that the truth was about to explode betrayingly 
from Gladys before this group, which would doubtless 
mean that all Gladys’ world would soon know it. But 
again it was Mitchell who relieved the situation. All dur¬ 
ing the meal he had been the graven perfection of the 
servant who has no private thoughts or feelings. He now 
moved quickly to the boy’s side and took his hand. 

“Mitchell hasn’t shown Master Frangois the bunnies yet 
this morning. Come on—let’s hurry out and watch them 

Instantly the boy was quieted, and Mitchell led him forth. 
Gladys desperately gripped her nerves. 

“He startled me so,” she exclaimed, trying to smile, “I 
just didn’t know what I was doing. It’s that awful night¬ 

All were now standing. Franklin saw this as his oppor¬ 

“I have never seen the country around here. I wonder. 
Miss Norworth, if you’d think I was running away from 
you if I were to ask Miss Marlowe to show me through a 
bit of it?” 

To Gladys this was a heaven-sent interruption to a nerve- 
racking situation. Besides it would improve her chances 
to be with Jerry Plimpton. 

“Not at all,” she spoke up eagerly, and with affected light¬ 
ness. “Take him out in your car, Cordelia—there’s a dear 



?—and show him everything. But don’t let her race the 
breath out of you, Mr. Franklin.” 

Half an hour later the low-slung maroon roadster crept 
into the same fire-scarred clearing among the scrub pine 
where six hours earlier Cordelia had had her long session 
with Mitchell. Within ten minutes she had reported upon 
her experiences of the night; though for some reason—she 
could not have told what fundamentally that reason was— 
she omitted most of what Mitchell had said to her, and she 
only briefly sketched Mitchell’s attitude. 

“At least we have our suspicion backed up by facts,” 
she ended eagerly. “You now know exactly what the situa¬ 
tion is! You can now act!” 

“Splendid!” he said. “I had no idea you would handle 
the matter so effectively and with such dispatch. What 
you’ve done has all been marvellous. I cannot congratulate 
you too warmly.” And he went on in further praise of her. 

“Now that we have all the facts,” said Cordelia, “just 
what are you going to do to get Gladys out of this mess? 
I’ll help you, of course, for I take it to be part of our agree¬ 
ment. Though I must admit,” she added, “that I do not 
feel a full one hundred per cent of undiluted sympathy for 

“What am I going to do? Your success has come with 
such unexpected rapidity that I really have not had time 
to settle upon my exact procedure. Will you excuse me 
if I think the matter over for a few minutes before answer¬ 

Leaning back beneath her low-angled steering-post, Cor¬ 
delia, awaiting in suspense to learn what was to be their fur¬ 
ther action, watched his keen handsome face staring straight 
ahead in concentrated thought. She would have been sur¬ 
prised indeed had she known that his quick brain was not 



giving first consideration to the facts that she had just pre¬ 
sented; that first of all he was considering something far 
different. This was the very devil of a situation, that her 
unexpected quickness, and unexpected luck, had gotten him 
into! He had never wanted that she should get all the in¬ 
side facts of this case, or of any other case he might later 
assign her to; he had merely planned that she should bring 
him hints and fragments, which might mean little to her, 
but which would mean much to him and which he might 
follow up through other methods and agents to his 
great profit, without her ever suspecting him or suspecting 
that she had been used. But her having learned all there 
was to be learned in this case complicated all his plans 
like the very dickens! With her knowing all the facts, it 
was going to be very difficult to profit out of this rich sit¬ 
uation—this tremendously rich situation!—without her 
guessing or even learning just exactly what he was doing. 

Here, developed from an almost chance beginning, was 
certainly the most delicate, difficult and complicated problem 
he had ever had to handle. 

He had started with the sole idea that Cordelia, with 
her necessities, her ignorance, and her position, offered bet¬ 
ter than a gambler’s chance to make big money. Now funda¬ 
mental to all else, dominating all else, was his far greater 
dream concerning her: he was going to marry her—soar on 
the wings of her social prestige. Cold reason had first form¬ 
ulated this added plan. And now he realized that this 
ambition to marry Cordelia was supported by an even 
stronger force. He was in love with Cordelia Marlowe. 
The discovery of this fact in himself had at first quite dumb¬ 
founded him, rendered him uncertain of the very founda¬ 
tion of his life. He had always been cynical toward love, 
and his professional contact with love affairs, particularly 



his very secret contacts, had developed that cynicism: love 
always caused its foolish victims to make wreckage of them¬ 
selves; and he was determined that sentiment should never 
distort his clear vision nor disturb the smooth progress of 
his careful plans. And here was he, fallen madly in love. 

But his case had this alleviation: love was merely approv¬ 
ing and coinciding with judgment. 

His situation, as he now saw it, had many acute problems 
and dangers. He must keep Cordelia from learning about 
him—somehow. He must in the end win her for himself— 
somehow. And if she should ever learn about him, he must 
have planned in advance to keep her silent—somehow. 

His first measure, so he decided, must be to get Cordelia 
away from Rolling Meadows where she might see things 
that would cause her to suspect. At length he spoke: 

‘T find that I am not able, at the present moment, to say 
just what course it will be best to take. Before deciding 
I think I am bound to consult the trustees of Miss Nor- 
worth’s estate, in whose behalf I am acting in this matter. 
But whatever the decision, I am certain that you will be 
required to do nothing further.” 

“But I thought I was to help you see the whole affair 
through!” she exclaimed. 

“You have learned the facts; that was by far the most 
important and difficult aspect of the situation. The rest of 
the case can best be handled entirely by men whose business 
is the law. You see that, don’t you?” 

“Yes, I suppose I do. But of course you’ll clear the mat¬ 
ter up?” 

“Of course. Though,” he added, “you must not ex¬ 
pect immediate results. We must protect Miss Nor worth, 
so merely to rush matters along is not the most important 
thing. We must figure out the best way to eliminate and 


silence Mitchell, and that means that we must have time to 
learn more about him. ,, 

Before she could comment upon this he had deftly switched 
to another subject. “Your work at Rolling Meadows is 
entirely done. I think you will be happier out of the atmos¬ 
phere of the natural resentment of Miss Norworth. Also 
our private business arrangement will be best served if you 
are now transferred to another case. I presume you can 
arrange to leave here in a day or so.” 

“Why, yes.” 

She spoke hesitantly, with disappointment. She had 
really started the clearing up of this mystery; its solution 
thus far was her handiwork; and there were many un¬ 
finished items about which her curiosity was acutely 
inquisitive—for example, what sort was the real Mitchell, 
what really was his part ? 

“That will be excellent,” said Franklin. “Then you will 
leave here to-morrow, or the day after. Just as soon as you 
can get away—that will be best. But it so happens that I 
do not have the next case quite ready for you. Is there 
some friend you might visit while I am getting your next 
case prepared?” 

“Mrs. Thorndike was asking me only Friday to stay with 

“Mrs. Jacqueline Thorndike, the school friend you con¬ 
sulted when you feared you had lost your fortune ?” 


“Very good. By the way haven’t I heard rumors that 
Mrs. Thorndike and Mr. Thorndike are—ah—having their 
little domestic troubles?” 

“There has been some talk—yes.” 

It occurred to Mr. Franklin that for the second time when 
he had had to find a place for Cordelia, kind Fortune might 



possibly be thrusting opportunity right into his hands. 
Trouble in the Thorndike family—they had money—Cor¬ 
delia would be there. Certainly the current of large affairs 
had never swept more goldenly in the direction of his 

“As a matter of fact I already knew of this trouble of the 
Thorndikes,” he confessed. “Again you and I happen up¬ 
on a rather odd coincidence. Relatives of the Thorndikes 
have confidentially approached me, asking me if I could not 
straighten out their difficulties and bring them together. 
It is a pity that such a couple should grow apart.” 

“Indeed it is,” agreed Cordelia. 

“I have tentatively promised to see if anything can be 
done. As I told the relatives, the first step must be to get 
the real facts which are causing the difficulty. Nothing 
can be done without knowing those facts, for the sole pos¬ 
sibility of a cure is the discussing, the forgiving, the re¬ 
moval of these facts. You might help me very much if you 
could learn the real facts. More important, you would be 
helping your friends, the Thorndikes. Of course you would 
be glad to help them.” 

“Of course I would!” 

“Then, if you don’t object, I suggest that when we get 
back to Rolling Meadows, you tell Mrs. Thorndike that you 
accept her invitation.” 

For a second time Mr. Franklin was on a new subject 
before she could comment. “I hope you will excuse my 
freedom if I now take up a purely financial matter.” His 
gaze was smilingly open, disarmingly direct—that of a bus¬ 
iness man who is frankly grateful; perhaps he had never 
acted better, or with more caution, than now. “When we 
made our business arrangement we fixed a certain sum as 



remuneration which was to be paid to your mother. That 
was to be a fixed minimum payable in any event. In addi¬ 
tion, in case of meritorious service, we spoke of a bonus 
which was to be payable directly to you.” 

“A bonus!” exclaimed Cordelia. “I do not recall any 
reference to a bonus!” 

“I’m sure I must have spoken of it. Certainly I in¬ 
tended doing so, for it was most definitely a part of my plan 
for our arrangement. A bonus clause, or understanding, 
is nothing less than your most ordinary rights. If you 
were at all acquainted with modern business practices, you 
would be aware that a bonus is almost invariably demanded 
and provided for as a matter of course to meet cases where 
unusual quality of service, or unusual rapidity of service, 
may possibly be rendered. You have given both unusual 
quality and rapidity of service, and you have certainly doubly 
earned the bonus which we have always taken for granted 
that, in the event which has come to pass, we should be 
obligated to pay you.” 

This was all most unexpected and surprising; and yet the 
idea of money, money which should be entirely her own, 
was breathlessly alluring to Cordelia. 

“If I did not understand any such obligation to be in 
the arrangement, I do not think you should regard it as 
binding,” she protested hesitantly. 

“We cannot take advantage of a technicality of that sort,” 
he smiled. “And please remember that I am not personally 
out of pocket in paying such a bonus; it will be charged up 
in our bill of expenses. To speak very frankly, I can 
understand the promptings of pride and delicacy, but I feel 
you have no moral right to refuse. I hope you will forgive 
my becoming personal; but you will recall that you took me 



pretty fully into your financial confidence at the time of 
our |first interview. I can’t help knowing that you need 
money. You could use the money, couldn’t you?” 

She could not help smiling a wry humorous smile. There 
were her bills that somehow never got paid up: those miser¬ 
able, insistent duns that came incongruously in the same 
mail with insistent invitations from New York’s finest homes. 

“My creditors could certainly use it if I had it,” she 

“Then you shall have it. And at once. As to the amount. 
I had thought—don’t hesitate to disagree if you think the 
amount should be greater—I had thought that perhaps you 
would consider a bonus of five thousand dollars fair.” 

She blinked at him. She could not speak. Five thou¬ 
sand dollars! She moved an equal among the highest; 
her friends had their millions; to Gladys the amount men¬ 
tioned would be unimportant; Jerry Plimpton could lose it 
in an evening of bridge and be pleasantly forgetful of it 
in the morning. But Cordelia, for all her position, for all 
the envy directed at her, had in all her life never had five 
thousand dollars at one time; no, not the half of it. Why, 
the miracle five thousand dollars would work among her 
insulting creditors! 

“Even if I had thought of a bonus,” she at length found 
voice to say, “I would not have dreamed of so large a sum.” 

“Then we’ll call five thousand satisfactory in the present 
instance; but don’t forget that there will be a bonus if you 
do as well with your next case.” He drew out a pocket 
check-book and fountain pen. “You must give me the satis¬ 
faction of settling this little matter at once. No, after all, 
I can give you a check for only half the amount just now— 
but I insist upon that. In this account my balance will just 
about cover such a check. The other half I shall mail from 


the office to-morrow. Not a word of objection—I insist!’* 

His swift resourceful mind, which had just hit upon this 
bonus idea only five minutes before, had at the last instant 
perceived the superior protective value of two checks; if 
ever evidence should be needed, two endorsed and canceled 
checks would be more silencing or more convincing than, 
one. He filled out the check for twenty-five hundred, writ¬ 
ing on his knee, blotted it by waving it in the air, then handed 
it to her. 

“Don’t thank me, please; you’ve more than earned it. 
And you may count upon receiving its twin in your Tuesday 
morning’s mail.” 

She slipped it into the pocket of her sport skirt. As for 
Mr. Franklin, as they started away, he believed he had 
handled the delicate matter extremely well—extremely well 1 
—considering. The pleasant smile he held upon her was 
thoroughly genuine. 



On their homeward drive they spoke of many phases of 
the Rolling Meadows’ situation; but all the while Cordelia’s 
mind was dominantly, exultantly upon that check in her 
pocket and its soon-to-be-born sister. Fresh confidence 
flooded her confident soul; she was experiencing the ancient 
and somewhat sordid truth, that not courage, nor virtue, nor 
conviction of one’s rightness, nor sense of personal powers, 
nor any inner glow of the higher faculties, so enheartens the 
average mortal as does the material fact of the sudden and 
unexpected presence of a considerable sum of money in 
one’s pocket. Cordelia could now face anything! 

All the party were up by the time they were back at 
Rolling Meadows; and some, as substitute for Sunday 
morning services, were already dancing to the phonograph. 
Gladys was dancing with Jerry Plimpton; and it was per¬ 
haps the added confidence and independence of the check in 
her pocket which stirred Cordelia to regard this couple with 
growing indignation in Jerry’s behalf. She recalled the 
Plimpton tradition toward their women; the utmost was 
demanded from them, they must be forever beyond scandal’s 
whisper. It was not decent the way Gladys was making up 
to Jerry, when his family tradition would compel him 
to draw away if he knew the truth. Jerry should be pro¬ 
tected. But Cordelia could not tell him. To tell would not 



be playing the game, and it might put her in the light of a 
gossip and a sneak. But how save Jerry—without herself 
being the one to put him on his guard? Somehow Jerry 
had to be protected; she felt righteously decided as to that. 

Perhaps Cordelia’s thinking was not entirely disingenuous, 
not entirely unselfish. Perhaps her righteous indignation 
and her concern for Jerry had their real origin in her own 
plans for Jerry’s future. But for the moment she felt 
flamingly lofty and selfless in her righteousness. 

Inspiration—it seemed to her an inspiration—came to her 
in her dilemma. When the dance ended, she crossed to 
Gladys and Jerry, her determination masked beneath her 
usual high-spirited smile. 

‘‘You’ll excuse Gladys for a few minutes, won’t you,. 
Jerry? Gladys, I’ve a bit of news for you that I simply 
must tell you at once. Let’s go up to my room.” 

She was certain that Gladys would not dare refuse- 
Gladys did not. Cordelia took her arm, and they mounted 
the stairway side by side, Cordelia chatting with the appear¬ 
ance of lightness all the while, though she felt the arm she 
held tense and quiver. Inside the room and the door closed, 
Gladys turned sharply upon Cordelia. In her green eyes 
was the suppressed hate, the cringing fear, the fawning 
subservience which Cordelia had seen in the small hours of 
that morning. 

“What—what is it, Cordelia?” she asked in a tremulous 

“First of all I want to tell you that Jackie Thorndike has 
asked me to visit her, and I’m leaving you in the morning.” 

This was good news for Gladys. Also bad news, for she 
had counted it |as one point to her advantage that she had 
Cordelia in her house where she could watch her, where a 
sense of what is owed to hospitality might restrain Cordelia. 



Away from Rolling Meadows, what might not Cordelia do 

or say? 

“But Cordie, you mustn’t!” Gladys cried in dismay. You 
promised to stay with me all summer. You’ve got to keep 
your promise, Cordie! And—and after what’s happened— 
you know I need you!” 

“I’ve said I would go, and I’m going. We’ll be just wast¬ 
ing time if we discuss it. Besides, I asked you up here on 
something far more important than my leaving you.” 

The direct look of Cordelia awakened all of Gladys’ fear. 
Gladys shrank away cowering, her figure huddled down and 
quivered as though her bones had turned to jelly. 

“Cordie,” she gasped, “Cordie—you don’t mean—you’re 
going to tell?” 

“No. But you are going to tell.” 

“I tell? I tell. . . . Tell—tell whom?” 

"Jerry Plimpton.” 

"Tell Jerry Plimpton! I tell Jerry Plimpton!” Till now 
her voice had been low-pitched; it now burst forth a defiant 
shriek. “I’ll not tell him! And you can’t make me! I’ll 
not tell him—never!” 

“Be quiet, or you’ll tell everybody!” Cordelia caught her 
eommandingly by the shoulders. “Be quiet, I say. I’m 
going to tell you exactly what you’re going to do, and you’re 
going to do exactly what I order!” 

Just then the door softly opened, and softly closed. 
Cordelia felt no surprise whatever when she turned and saw 
that for the second time their interrupter was Mitchell. 

“At it again, Miss Marlowe,” he remarked in his pleasant, 
mocking tone. “I gave you to understand, since I knew you 
were watching me, that I’d be watching you, and when I 
overheard our dear Gladys’ voice I knew that my place was 



with you two. Your affairs are my affairs—you would 
have told me anyhow—so of course you will excuse me if I 
remain. Don’t mind me, please; go right ahead.” He 
seated himself comfortably and smiled encouragingly at 
the two. 

“She’s asking me to tell Jerry Plimpton,” Gladys angrily 
explained to him. She turned back to Cordelia. “I won’t 
tell him, I say!” 

Cordelia acted upon Mitchell’s suggestion that the pro¬ 
ceedings ignore him. “You will tell! For you’re going to 
listen to reason! You know as well as I do the attitude all 
the Plimptons have had toward their wives, and you know 
Jerry has that same attitude. They demand that their 
women shall be absolutely above reproach. You are not 
above reproach; at least not from the Plimpton standard. 
It’s not fair to Jerry for you to try to lead him on, with him 
in ignorance. So it’s up to you to tell him the truth. Jerry’s 
a gentleman; you can trust him, knowing it will never go 
any further. But you’ve got to tell Jerry!” 

“I tell you I won’t do it! You can’t make me lose Jerry 
like that!” Glady’s face twitched with convulsive hatred, 
then with sudden understanding. “Oh, I see now what 
you’re up to! You’re trying to make me do this so you’ll 
have a clear track to Jerry for yourself!” 

“It doesn’t matter what my motive is. You’ve got to tell 

“And I say again that I won’t tell!” 

Their gaze locked. There was a moment of silence. Then 
the bland voice of Mitchell was gently raised. 

“It seems that my entrance was quite providential. When 
two parties to a conflict cannot agree, then arbitration is the 
modern remedy. I nominate and elect myself as the third 



party—the arbiter. Now let’s see if we cannot find a happy 
solution that will satisfy the wishes of all three of us. I 
take it that your chief desire, Miss Marlowe, is not so much 
that Mr. Plimpton be told the whole truth, as that he will be 
guaranteed protection against Gladys. I presume this latter 
will satisfy you?” 

“That will satisfy me—yes.” 

“I will state I am entirely with you, Miss Marlowe, in not 
wishing matters to go too far at present between Gladys and 
Mr. Plimpton. So far, so good. Now, Gladys, Miss Mar¬ 
lowe’s yielding a point puts it up to us to give her this guar¬ 
antee which she requires. Now you don’t want Mr. Plimp¬ 
ton to know the whole truth. No more do I; it doesn’t suit 
my personal plans to have a single extra person know, for 
there’s no telling where the thing will stop, if it be told. 
Once more we are in accord. That brings us straight to an 
arbitrated agreement. On the one hand, Mr. Plimpton will 
not be told. On the other hand, Gladys, you’ll have to 
break with Mr. Plimpton—give him up.” 

“I won’t do it!” she stormed. 

“You can’t help yourself. You have only the choice be¬ 
tween giving him up of your own accord, or having him 
explosively removed from you by his being told. I am 
quite certain that Miss Marlowe, if left no other recourse, 
will not hesitate to give Mr. Plimpton the fullest informa¬ 
tion. Just cast your mental eyes over those two horns of 
your dilemma, Gladys, and then seat yourself upon the softer 

There was a moment of silence. Gladys regarded him 
with sullen defiance, and Cordelia was resentful of the cool 
familiarity with which he had taken this matter out of her 

Mitchell stood up. “I’m sure you have made the wiser 



choice, Gladys. There’s a writing-desk over near the win¬ 
dow. Come on over; we’re going to take our pen in hand 
and write a little letter.” 

Gladys hesitated, then sullenly followed him. At his 
direction she sat down and picked up a pen. 

“I’ll help you out by dictating the letter,” he went on. 
“Of course it’s to Mr. Plimpton. Shall we address him as 
My dear Jerry, Dearest Jerry, or just Dear Jerry? I think 
that Dear Jerry will be about the right compromise between 
formality and affection, since this is to be a letter of farewell. 
Make it Dear Jerry. All set—let’s go.” 

This is the letter as Gladys’ rebellious pen set it down: 

Dear Jerry: 

You are such an old friend, and such a good friend, 
that I want you to be one of the very first to learn of 
my secret. Remember it is a secret —you must not 
whisper it to a soul and you must burn this letter. I 
am engaged! And that is not the whole of my secret. 

I am not even telling you the name of my fiance; that’s 
the biggest part of the secret. There are circumstances 
which make silence for a time—but then I don’t need 
to go into explanations to you. 

You may think my telling you this is a bit strange. 
But I felt I’d best do so. Otherwise you might misin¬ 
terpret the way I behaved Saturday night—dancing 
with you so much—and other times. But I know 
you’ll understand. 

Always your friend, 


Gladys Nor worth. 

When Gladys had finished, Mitchell ordered her to ad¬ 
dress an envelope to Jerry’s city home, to enclose the letter, 



seal it, and hand it over to him. At this last order Gladysi 

“I don’t want him to get that. He’ll think it funny, later 
on, when that engagement is never announced. He may 
learn that there never was an engagement. I don’t propose 
to look like a fool!” 

“Later on, when the proper time comes, you may write 
him another letter asking him to forget this one and telling 
him the engagement has been broken and that it’s lucky you 
kept it a secret.” 

• “But why should I announce a fake engagement at all?” 
she stormed. 

“Would you rather announce a fake marriage?” he asked 
meaningly. “I believe we’ve been over all that. And remem¬ 
ber this; if ever you even whisper to Mr. Plimpton that the 
news of this letter was false news, then instantly he gets 
the real news. Now give me the letter, and please leave us. 
Miss Marlowe and I have something to say to each other.” 

She handed over the letter. Then she whirled upon 
Cordelia, all her passions blazing forth, hands clenching and 
unclenching in their furious desire to close on flesh. 

“You’ve done all this, Cordelia Marlowe!” she cried. “I’ll 
not forget it! My time will come—just you see—and when 
it comes, oh, but I’ll make you pay! I’ll make you pay!” 

Her threats continued to pour out, but Mitchell stopped 
her, taking her by the arm and shaking her sharply. 

“Gladys ! Do you think it wise to talk like that to Miss 
Marlowe ?” 

Instantly Gladys was once more cringing. “I didn’t mean 
a word of it, Cordelia! Honest, I didn’t. It’s just my 
nerves—I don’t know what I’m doing. You know you’re 
the best friend I have.” 



“That will do,” said Mitchell. “You will now please 
leave us.” 

With her propitiating, cringing look Gladys backed away 
and was gone. 

Mitchell turned upon Cordelia, again with his satiric, 
mocking smile. 

“I really have very little to say,” he began, “except to 
offer my congratulations—” 

“Congratulations ?” 

“I may seem premature, but congratulations are in order. 
Remember, I said in the woods at day-break that I didn’t 
yet know whom it was to be: Plimpton, or Franklin, or me. 
But I know now. At least which one it will be first. A 
most glorious match—the coming together of twin glories. 
The city, the country, will ring with applause—even as very 
humbly I now sound mine.” 

“Your presumption is an insufferable insult!” she angrily 
flung at him—and herself felt the impotence, the empty the- 
atricalism, of her words. 

He continued his mocking smile. “Pardon me, but noth¬ 
ing a mere servant says can possibly rise to the importance 
of being regarded as an insult by a lady; just as a servant 
would not dare to take as an insult anything a lady might 
choose to say.” His smile grew more daringly humorous. 
“But what a mixed-up, democratic thing life is, now isn’t 
it? The famous Miss Marlowe, the great Mr. Plimpton, 
the rich Miss Norworth, and the lowly man-servant—also a 
few others—all entangled in one and the same situation. It 
is impudent of Life, I must say, to attempt to impose any 
sense of equality upon people by such trickery. All the 
same, I wonder—I certainly do wonder—how is Life going 
to end it all? In the last chapter, I mean?” 



Before she could attempt any response, he was holding 
out to her the letter Gladys had written. She took it. 

“Mail it at once. It is your ticket to paradise. No war 
tax, and no speculator’s profit. It will admit you—even¬ 
tually. I hope you like the show, after the ticket-taker lets 
you in. And while you still hold the ticket, and while 
later on you enjoy the spectacle, I hope you will think over 
my few remarks of this morning upon the subject of black¬ 

Still with his smile of challenging mockery, he bowed 
slightly and was quickly gone—leaving her blinking and 
gasping at his last words. 



Cordelia's gasping astonishment at the parting words of 
the smilingly polite and ironical Mitchell was swifty trans¬ 
muted by the chemistry of her nature into flaming indigna¬ 
tion. She made no attempt to search out the implications 
and applications of his cryptic remark about blackmail. 
She was too thoroughly angered. Mitchell might be some¬ 
thing better than the average butler—indeed he was; un¬ 
doubtedly he was clever, and undoubtedly he did possess 
ability and power far above mere cleverness. But in his 
instincts he was a boor; a clown who delighted in his clown¬ 
ing; altogether too presumptuous. 

Her hot resentment against Mitchell impelled her to make 
immediate use of the letter he had induced Gladys to write, 
and with it in her pocket she went down to the broad piazza. 
In the chattering crowd she saw Mitchell, with his deft 
impersonal precision, gathering the empty glasses of those 
who had felt the need of a pick-me-up to prime them for 
a new day; and there was Gladys, with high-pitched, nerv¬ 
ous laugh, at the end of some story she was telling Mr. 
Franklin and Jerry Plimpton. 

Prompted by her resentment, her words intended partic¬ 
ularly for Mitchell and incidentally for Gladys, Cordelia 
said to Jerry: 

“I’m driving into the village to mail a letter, Jerry. 
Want to ride with me?” 




“Glad to,” he answered. 

She did not look to see the effect of her words on 
Mitchell and Gladys. On the run into the village, her spir¬ 
its were wildly high. If Jerry only knew that she was 
carrying a letter to him!—and such a letter! But Jerry 
would never know of her connection with that letter. 

Later in the day she somehow did not feel quite so com¬ 
fortable over the letter. But she forced these thoughts 
from her mind. That was the only way to dispose of dis¬ 
turbing matters: not to think of them. 

The party danced and drank all that Sunday afternoon 
and evening. Diplomacy no longer had need to determine 
Cordelia’s policy, and Jerry was her most frequent partner, 
with Mr. Franklin next. The latter improved upon the 
impression he had made the previous day; not only was he 
an adept and entertaining partner at dancing, but he was 
skilful and considerate at the bridge tables. What Jackie 
Thorndike said to Cordelia was said in substance by half 
a dozen women who sought her out: “Cordie, old girl, 
I think your Mr. Franklin is a regular find! I’ve invited 
him out, and he’s promised to come.” 

When Mr. Franklin motored into town that midnight, 
it was with the triumphant feeling that he had never spent 
thirty-six hours to better advantage. He was certainly on 
his way up, thanks to Cordelia .Marlowe; and with the 
cards he held and the care with which he intended playing 
them, there was nothing which now could stop him! 

The following morning Cordelia stood beside her road¬ 
ster, saying good-bye; her trunks had already been called 
for by a Thorndike chauffeur, and there was only her trav¬ 
elling case for the impeccable Mitchell to set down in front 
of the extra seat. A few of the other guests had not yet 
gone, and since there was an audience Gladys was effusively 



affectionate at the parting; but Cordelia knew that, in 
Gladys’ heart, the urgent invitation to return soon was a 
malediction, and that the kiss was a bite. Esther was 
soberly gracious. Of them all little Frangois was most 
demonstrative. His arms around her neck held her tight, 
and he kissed her again and again, saying over and over 
“Please come back, Mother Cordelia—please!” The spon¬ 
taneous, simple affection of the little boy stirred her pro¬ 
foundly; there had been little of such direct, free-flowing 
love in her life; and she held him close in response, and 
promised, and an inner voice remarked that Mitchell must 
have been right about the boy’s father:—whatever the 
father’s flaws, he must have been a simple, likeable man, 
for certainly Frangois derived none of his unspoiled sim¬ 
plicity from Gladys. 

As for Mitchell, till the last he was the efficient, emotion¬ 
less butler, who could never possibly have had those two 
scenes with her in her room nor that session in the burned 
clearing among the scrub pines. 

Thus Cordelia rode away from Rolling Meadows, re¬ 
lieved to be going, and yet with a trace of inexplicable 
reluctance; believing that her mission there and all per¬ 
taining to it were for her at an end, and that she was about 
to turn a fresh and more engrossing page; never dreaming, 
in her young sureness of herself, that life does not snip in 
two the thread of experience at one’s will; her mind holding 
no hint that all the important things which were about to 
develop in her career were to be the direct consequences 
of those experiences at Rolling Meadows and of these un¬ 
analyzed ingredients which were in that human container 
labeled Cordelia Marlowe. 

During the days which followed Cordelia’s life swept 
onward in what she excitedly and exultantly felt was the 



direction of her dreams, her greatest triumphs. The impor¬ 
tant events were few, yet her days all seemed crowded. 
She had never felt more satisfied with herself, never more 
sure of herself, never more confident of the future. The 
horrible stress and consequent manoeuvering of her pov¬ 
erty were now removed, thanks to that unexpected bonus 
from Mr. Franklin, whose second check had come on Tues¬ 
day morning as he had promised. She had the exhilarating 
satisfaction of achievement, of abilities successfully exer¬ 
cised; she had certainly justified Mr. Franklin’s belief in 
her. And she felt that, in due time, when she herself was 
quite ready, Jerry Plimpton would swing in her direction— 
now that Gladys was most properly removed as a counter- 

Of the undramatic but engrossing events of these days, 
nothing gave Cordelia more acute satisfaction than the use 
of the five thousand dollars which lay for a day or two in 
her surprised bank account; for, to persons unaccustomed 
to cash, cash is for a brief period quite the most thrilling 
thing in the world. She sent checks upon accounts to all 
her creditors; an hour of this scribbling, and her bank bal¬ 
ance had swiftly receded to a little over one hundred dol¬ 
lars, which was much above her average. (She hoped 

her mother would not, for a time at least, learn of this 

sudden liquidation of her debts; she did not see just how 
she could render a plausible explanation to her mother of 
her possession of a sum unprecedented in the family history.) 
She had been pinched all season by the scantiness of her 
wardrobe, had had to rack her brain and had been driven 
to most difficult makeshifts and expedients in order to main¬ 
tain the proper show of charming and ever-fresh plenitude. 
But now, in company with Jackie—who was tautly restless 
these days, and was eager for anything that would keep 



her forever moving—she ran into town on several consec¬ 
utive days and was waited upon by her former creditors 
whose faces the magic of her checks had rearranged into 
alert and obliging smiles; and presently her old debts were 
replaced with new debts, a trifle larger. But she had 
clothes! And she had need of clothes; she had need of 
everything that would make her stand out in attraction 
above all other women; for she was now seeing a great deal 
of Jerry. 

Cordelia had luncheon or tea with Jerry about every 
day; and several nights a week he ran out to Jackie’s place. 
He seemed to be able to make unlimited time to see her. 
She wondered how he had taken Gladys’ letter announcing 
the secret engagement; she was prepared to act thoroughly 
surprised in case he mentioned the news; but not so much 
as by a hint did he refer to Gladys’ note. 

One day at luncheon she and Jackie and Jerry were 
joined by Kyle Brandon, who wished to discuss Cordelia’s 
part in the French pageant. That magician of the mo¬ 
tion picture had never known the English language 
to hang back bashful and awkward and indigent in his 
mouth; and this day it poured forth in its most easy and 
confident affluence. His plans were now taking definite 
shape; several of the best men on his staff were going to 
assist with the details. The pageant was going to be a 
wonder! Never had there been anything like it attempted 
before for social or philanthropic purposes! Particularly 
did he dwell upon Cordelia’s part, making rapid sketches 
on the back of luncheon cards of her in this pose, in that 
costume. Let him advise her upon all the costumes— 
better still, leave the costumes almost entirely to him; he’d 
guarantee an effect never before approached by a figure 
in a non-professional exhibition. And every pose, every 



gesture would be a picture; in fact an art photograph. In 
fact, he’d have his very best still-man and his very best 
camera-men on hand to get these matchless photographs by 
the score, by the thousand feet; and all the illustrated Sun¬ 
day papers would grab her portraits, and millions of people 
would see her when the news reels were flashed upon the 
the silver screen. Superb! Magnificent! 

Cordelia laughingly begged to be excused from such 
publicity. But she perceived that Jerry was impressed and 
pleased. The Plimptons might be particular about their 
women; but in all the generations there had not yet been a 
male Plimpton who had not liked to have the public admire 
the woman he admired. 

At home that night Jackie said: “From the way Jerry’s 
eyeing you these days, he’s soon going to be asking you what 
size engagement ring you usually wear—if he has not al¬ 
ready asked you.” 

“You’re just dreaming, Jackie,” Cordelia laughed. “Jerry 
just likes to play around.” 

“I’ll bet you any amount up to fifty cents that Jerry asks 
you inside of three months. And you’ll be a fool if you 
don’t say yes, and say it quick.” Jackie sighed grimly. 
“If you people do decide to have a try at it, here’s hoping 
you have better luck than some people I know.” 

Frequently during these days in town Cordelia was seeing 
Mr. Franklin, and now and again she met him at evening 
parties at various country houses; after every meeting her 
liking for him was a little further advanced. 

At one of the first of these conferences Franklin got from 
Cordelia those facts he had commissioned her to get relative 
to the domestic affairs of Jackie and Murray Thorndike. 
Jackie and Murray were quite open about their breach. 
Murray’s case was unusual only in being so extremely usual. 



His inamorata was the premier danseuse of a popular sum¬ 
mer show; he had bought her jewels, a foreign car, and 
was understood to be paying the rent of her smart summer 
cottage out near Rye. All this Jackie knew. As for Jackie, 
in her need for something to fill her time, she was seeing a 
lot of one Nicholas Drexel, more commonly known as 
“Nickie,” who shot across from the Hamptons almost 
nightly in his racing car. Just how far intimacy had pro¬ 
gressed between Jackie and Nickie, Cordelia could not tell, 
but Murray knew all there was to be known and had as yet 
said nothing about buying a gun and getting it into action. 
Jackie and Murray had frequently talked with each other 
about divorce; but neither wished to marry another person,, 
so they were just letting matters run along as they were. 

Mr. Franklin pondered over this information carefully* 
Certainly here might be scandal enough. Rut for his pur¬ 
poses it had this fatal defect: no one was interested in 
trying to conceal it. In the entire field of financial possi¬ 
bilities, there is nothing less profitable than a big scandal 
which no one has the decency to wish to hide. 

Mr. Franklin thought of shifting Cordelia into some 
situation which might prove financially more promising; but 
this he vetoed for the present. The social connections he 
was establishing through Cordelia’s being where she was 
were too valuable an asset to risk by manipulating her int <y 
a situation that might be socially less fortunate. Besides,, 
more and more his various plans for Cordelia were becoming 1 
subordinated to the great and consuming plan of joining 
their powers and personalities with a wedding ring. 

And besides, there was the business side of Gladys’ secret, 
needing all the attention, and the very shrewdest attention, 
that he could give it. Yes, every consideration advised 
him to keep Cordelia on at Jackie’s; and to allay any scruples 



she might have about accepting money, if she seemed to be 
giving no service in return, he assured her that the infor¬ 
mation she was gathering about the Thorndikes was of the 
greatest value to him and directed her to go on collecting 
facts which would help him remedy the deplorable situation 
of her friends. 

Having eliminated Cordelia as his agent in Gladys’ affairs, 
Franklin’s mind had turned to Mitchell as his most likely 
instrument for the furtherance of his interests. Mitchell 
was already collecting tribute from Gladys; if he could only 
gain some hold upon Mitchell, then he could make Mitchell 
greatly increase the amount of his levy, make Mitchell turn 
the entire payments over to him, and he, Franklin, would 
in no wise appear directly in the matter. Since Mitchell 
was admittedly blackmailing, Franklin reasoned that Mitch¬ 
ell was an experienced criminal. Very likely Mitchell had 
a criminal record which he wished to conceal; possibly even 
the police were now searching for him in connection with 
some unpenanced crime; either hypothesis supplied a very 
adequate motive for his hiding his identity in the guise of 
a servant. To get a clever criminal in your power, and 
make him do your work for you—what more simple, more 

Franklin realized that he had to handle this Mitchell with 
very great care, for Mitchell was no ordinary person. Also 
he had to be most careful on Cordelia’s account. He must 
not involve Cordelia, betray her; she who was to be his 
wife must be kept clear of all admitted complications. 

About a week after Cordelia’s departure from Rolling 
Meadows, Franklin motored out and had tea with Gladys, 
who had invited him to come whenever he could. He made 
himself extremely agreeable to her, and drove back leaving 
behind with Gladys a highly increased opinion of himself; 



and he carried away with him a saucer on which were im¬ 
prints of Mitchell’s thumb and fingers. This saucer he 
sent to the Police Department with the request that the 
finger-prints be developed and that he be informed of the 
identity and record of the person whose finger story had thus 
been captured. He waited confidently and hopefully. But 
the Police Department report was disappointing. The 
owner of those fingers had no police record, nor was he 
wanted as a suspect in connection with any crime. 

This made Mitchell more difficult. But it did not make 
him impossible. He was undoubtedly a criminal, and as 
such was amenable to skilful handling; the only question 
was how to handle him. Through playing upon his cupid¬ 
ity, undoubtedly that was the way. 

Two days after the unfavorable police report upon the 
finger-prints, Mitchell was in Franklin’s office in response 
to a skilfully worded letter asking him to call. Franklin 
was cool, pleasant, direct. 

“Visiting at Rolling Meadows I was much struck by your 
obvious superiority to your position,” he said. “I am sure 
that you have had ambitions, and training, for something 
much better. I am right in that conjecture?” 


“Very good. Now I can use an intelligent man of your 
type, and it occurred to me that I might offer you some¬ 
thing which you might consider an improvement upon your 
present situation.” 

“I fear I could not suit you, Mr. Franklin, for none 
of my training has been along legal lines.” 

“Such training is not at all necessary for what I had 
in mind. You can do the work—of this I have convinced 
myself—and you will find it easy. I think the only serious 
point is”—he hesitated for emphasis’ sake, then said with 



bland, quiet significance—“is whether I can suit you in the 
matter of terms.” 

“Terms?” queried Mitchell. “What terms did you think 
of offering?” 

Franklin had now reached the moment for what he con¬ 
sidered the show-down. He had decided that the only way 
to handle Mitchell, to work through him, was to offer him 
more than he was now clearing; not offer it too bluntly, of 
course—at least not at first. The man was a crook; he 
would understand a hint. 

The two men sat gazing eye to eye. There was expres¬ 
sion in neither face. 

“My terms?” said Franklin, steadily, choosing his words 
so that their meaning could not possibly be mistaken. “Of 
course I do not know what you are now clearing, from 
salary, gratuities, and all other sources, but if you will come 
in with me I will guarantee to double your present receipts. 
Double them—whatever the source, whatever the amount.” 

He paused an instant to let this gather its full effect, then 
added his weightiest argument. 

“And do not overlook this further consideration: the 
security one feels in handling one’s affairs through a repu¬ 
table and skilful legal firm.” 

He believed he could not have made his offer more 

Mitchell did not at once reply. His face retained its 
direct, thoughtful but otherwise expressionless look. Then 
it showed apologetic regret. 

“You have been most kind, Mr. Franklin,” he said. “But 
I have no personal ability, and no connection of any kind, 
which could possibly warrant me in accepting so generous 
an offer.” 

“Then you do not accept?” 



“No. It would not be fair to you.” 

“At least there has been no harm in making you the pro¬ 
posal ?” 

“Quite the contrary. I thank you for the compliment.” 

Mitchell rose, and with courteous, poker faces the two 
men parted. Franklin was certain that the other had under¬ 
stood him perfectly; was more certain than before that 
Mitchell was a clever criminal—even cleverer and bolder 
than he had believed. Mitchell preferred to play a lone 
hand, that was the explanation; and he believed he could 
play it successfully no matter who might be sitting in the 
game. Yes, the man certainly had nerve. 

Well, he’d be eternally on his guard against this Mitchell. 



Franklin’s only remaining course, so it now seemed to 
him, to make a profit out of Cordelia’s information—the 
big profit of a great lawyer who was keeping safely within 
the law—was through direct dealings with Gladys. But 
he must be extremely adroit and cautious at every point: not 
only was there the danger which follows inevitably when a 
lawyer makes a slip, but also Gladys was one of that select 
and lofty circle whose good offices it was his ambition to 
win and keep. He planned with mathematical care, checked 
up and proved his results, again wrote a skilfully phrased 
letter, and two days after the call of Mitchell he received 
in his office another visitor from Rolling Meadows, this 
time Gladys. 

She was openly interested in seeing him; it is the instinct 
and habit of the Gladyses of this world to be interested in 
every personable man who is not too old and the worth of 
whose position is being countersigned and endorsed by ex¬ 
cellent signatures. Also she was flutteringly curious as to 
the business that brought her here. She did not venture so 
far as to be coquettish, but she made her best effort to be 
charming, for she now saw Mr. Franklin as a polished and 
able newcomer destined to an increasing popularity among 
her sort of people. 

Mr. Franklin made his approach with the slow and de¬ 
vious consideration of a doctor announcing leaky heart- 




valves. He was gracious—then sympathetic—then apolo¬ 
getic—then self-deprecatory. The sparkle of Gladys’ smile 
died out; her face grew ashen, staring. 

“1 find myself in a most embarrassing, most humiliating 
situation,” Franklin went on. “Believe me, I would not 
touch the matter I am about to broach to you, were it not 
for the certainty that some other lawyer would handle the 
matter if I declined, and I feel that I can give you consider¬ 
ation and perhaps protection that you might not receive 
from another. So it is largely for your sake that I have 
consented to act in this affair. I daresay you have already 
surmised what the matter is that I am referring to ?” 

Gladys dared not trust her voice. She shook her head. 

“I regret, then, that I must put so delicate a matter into 
words. Briefly, a person has just come to me with a most 
unfortunate story: an affair of the heart in war-time Paris, 
a child born out of wedlock—and everything most carefully 
concealed from the public. I sincerely hope you now un¬ 
derstand, so that it will not be unpleasantly necessary for 
me to go into further details. Also this person has proofs, 
and threatens to make the story public unless— But you 
see what I am forced to lead up to. This person requires 
a price—a large price, in fact—in return for his part in 
keeping the story a secret from the public.” 

Gladys attempted no denial; she sensed that it would be 
useless. Her green eyes were now beginning to flash vin¬ 

“I know who the person is!” she exclaimed. “Cordelia 
Marlowe! She always has needed money—she knows this 
story—she told me you were her attorney! It’s all as plain 
as day—the person is Cordelia Marlowe!” 

His eyebrows went up in a surprised protest that could 
not have been more convincingly simulated. 



“Miss Marlowe! I assure you, Miss Norworth, that 
Miss Marlowe has never breathed a word to me of this 

“Then it must have been Mitchell! He knows, and he’s 
the only other person who might have told!” 

Franklin hesitated for the briefest moment. Perhaps it 
might be as well to let her think Mitchell his informant. 
No, that would not be wise. Mitchell was too able and too 
potentially dangerous a man to be put in a false position; 
he might strike back, and strike disastrously. 

“It was not Mitchell,” he assured her. “I can tell you 
no more than that my client—I presume I must call him 
my client, though I detest his business, and as I told you 
am acting primarily to protect you—my client made it one 
of his first conditions that I should not reveal his identity.” 

“Then it’s Cordelia Marlowe!” Gladys cried with con¬ 
viction. “It’s just like her! She’s already used that story 
to hold me up!” 

Here was interesting matter for Mr. Franklin. “Indeed! 
And how?” 

“She made me write a letter to Mr. Plimpton. Not tell¬ 
ing him that story, but the sort of letter that would cause 
him to keep away from me.” 

“But her reason for that?” 

“Isn’t her reason plain enough? He was—’was attentive 
to me. She wanted him for herself. She thought that 
driving him away from me would help her chances. And 
it most certainly will! It will send him straight into her 

This was most important news indeed: a new angle to 
his situation, requiring most careful thought, most adroit 
manipulation. Looking into the angry jealous face of 
Gladys, it occurred to Mr. Franklin for the first time that 



they two had a very large interest in common; that) some 
time it might be to their advantage to unite their forces. 
But his sympathetic face revealed no trace of this swift 

“I assure you again that Miss Marlowe is not the person 
in question,” he said soothingly. “And besides, the identity 
of my client does not affect in any way the real subject of 
this conference. This conference is necessarily limited 
merely to the matter of terms. I may say that I have no 
latitude as to terms; they were laid down for me in advance 
by my client.” 

“What are the terms?” 

“The essential requirement is that my client shall be fully 
protected. Very frankly, we both know that he proposes 
to practise blackmail, and blackmail has its very severe pen¬ 
alties when it can be proved. That you may not take this 
matter too hard,” he went on, again in his soothing voice, 
“let me say that you would be amazed, Miss Norworth, if 
you knew the number of most respectable individuals and 
families throughout the country who are paying heavily for 
silence. Really, there is hardly a family of prominence 
and wealth that is immune from such tribute. If you were 
in my disillusioning profession, you would realize how sadly 
true and commonplace this is. The skeleton in the closet” 
—he permitted himself ever so faint a pleasant, propitiating 
smile—“is the most expensive member of the family to 
support. And every family is supporting one. So you 
must not regard this situation as a personal disgrace, or as 
an unusual injustice, that you are sufferings Again I as¬ 
sure you that your experience is almost the common experi¬ 

“Perhaps you’re right,” was her indifferent response to 
his last remarks; that others might suffer was no concern 



of hers. And then with her former sharpness: “Miss 
Marlowe—your client—in what way does she demand 
that she be protected against being found out?” 

“My client requires, for his safety’s sake, that his identity 
shall remain unknown, that he shall in no wise personally 
appear in the matter. He has required, in case we finally 
come to terms, that all business be transacted through me 
and in my name.” 

“Very clever of Cordelia, I’m sure!” 

He pretended not to have heard either the name she had 
used or her caustic tone. 

“My client came to me with a plan which was thoroughly 
worked out. He requires that the affair be disguised as a 
legitimate business arrangement, with documents to prove 
its legitimacy in case trouble ever should arise. His plan 
requires that I become your personal attorney, in charge of 
all your personal affairs, with a very large annual retainer. 
This retainer is of course to be the sum which I turn over 
to my client as the price of his silence.” 

“I see. What sort of documents will be required?” 

“Two will be sufficient. The first will be a letter from 
you to me, in your handwriting. In this you will say that 
you have heard of my ability as a lawyer; you will say that 
your affairs are in a very tangled shape; you will say that, 
prompted by your belief in me, you would like me to under¬ 
take the handling of these affairs, and you will ask for an 
appointment to talk over this proposal. The second docu¬ 
ment will be a contract, dated two days later than your letter, 
for my services for a period of years at a specified annual 
retainer, payable quarterly in advance.” 

“I suppose I’ll have to agree to the documents. What 
will I have to pay?’ 

“My client has figured that. Apparently he knows how 



much you are worth; I suspect he somehow gained access 
to your last income-tax statement. He figures that you have 
holdings valued at thirty millions, and that you have an in¬ 
come of about a million and a half, less of course your 
taxes. He will charge much less for his protection than the 
government charges for its protection. Sixty thousand a 
year for the retaining fee is the figure he fixed, which is 
about four per cent of your gross income—reasonable, he 
thought it.” 

“Sixty thousand!” she gasped. 

“Please remember that I am not making this figure—I 
am merely transmitting it,” he apologized. 

“Sixty thousand! IPs preposterous !” 

“I am inclined to agree with you. On the other hand”— 
again he smiled at her, a bit humorously, as if to lighten the 
situation for her—“on the other hand, if I were acting for 
myself, and not for a client, I might ask even more.” 

“More?” she exclaimed. 

“A very great deal more.” 

“How much more?” 

“To be exact, a million and a half a year, less your 
taxes ?” 

She blinked at him, and gasped again. “How—how could 
you do that?” 

His smile was disarmingly pleasant. “I might tell you 
that the price of my silence would be your marriage to me. 
Very simple, isn’t it ? But pardon me, I did not intend to be 
led into a jest.” 

She laughed in her relief. He joined in her laughter. 
At that moment, for the first time, it occurred to him that 
what he had conceived and suggested in fancy was highly 
practical and would not be a bad arrangement at all—not at 
all!—were his interest not elsewhere engaged. 



“So you perceive/' smiled he, “you might be faced with a 
far more unpleasant demand.” 

“I suppose there’s nothing for it except to agree.” 

“I think you are wise in saying that—though of course I 
am not approving my client’s procedure. As a matter of 
fact”—a new idea was coming to him—“this arrangement 
may possibly have some slight compensation for you. As 
your attorney, even under such circumstances, I shall al¬ 
ways be on the watch to serve your interests.” 

She liked this man, despite this unpleasant business so 
obviously repugnant to him. “I accept that last offer, 
and shall count on you.” 

“Then, that is also an agreement,” said he. 

Neither of them guessed, in that brief interval of light¬ 
ness, how important that half-jesting compact was to be¬ 
come to both of them in the events toward which they were 
unconsciously sweeping. 

“Is anything else demanded of me?” she inquired. 

“Only one more thing. You are not to mention, not to 
hint, to a single soul that you are being victimized in this 
matter. My client has laid great emphasis upon this re¬ 
quirement. If it is broken, the penalty will be immediate 

“Having swallowed the camel, I guess I can down a gnat. 
I agree. And now I hope that’s everything?” 

“Yes. But since we have reached an agreement, and you 
are here, we might as well take care of the mere formalities. 
It will save you another visit. In fact I so far presumed as 
to believe that we would come to terms, and I have every¬ 
thing prepared, including the contract for my services. 
Here is the contract. Also I have a little confession to 
make: the last time I was out at Rolling Meadows I fore¬ 
saw a probable emergency need for some of your personal 



stationery, so I helped myself to a bit of it. Here is a sheet, 
and a fountain pen. Suppose we first get rid of the letter 
you were to write me, asking me to assume charge of 
your affairs. Just date it— By the way, just when did 
Miss Marlowe begin her recent visit to you?” 

“She came during the early part of June.” 

“That was about when I thought. Perhaps it will help 
us all—in fact my client made a point of the matter—if we 
antedate both the letter and the contract a little. I will 
date the contract the seventeenth of May, and you will date 
the letter the fifteenth of May. Now for the letter. Per¬ 
haps it will be easier for you if I dictate the letter’s contents. 
All ready?” 

She took down his words in her large sprawling hand. 
The letter done, he handed her the contract saying: 

“Just glance that contract through. You’ll find the terms 
exactly as I outlined, and you’ll note that I’ve dated it the 
seventeenth of May.” 

He himself glanced through her letter. Most excellently 
drawn! Then he touched the button that signalled Ked¬ 
more, and on the appearance of his genial, porpoise-shaped 
partner he introduced Gladys to him. 

“Mr. Kedmore will help us execute our little understand¬ 
ing,” he explained to Gladys. “Just as a matter of form”— 
holding out to her the letter written a few moments before 
—“you identify this as a letter you wrote me some weeks 

“I do,” said Gladys. 

“Just glance the letter through, Kedmore. It is to be 
filed with the contract. Note that it is dated as Miss Nor- 
worth has just testified.’” 

“I see, I see,” nodded Kedmore—'“dated May fifteenth. 
Everything in perfect order.” 



A stenographer was summoned from without, the con¬ 
tract was signed and witnessed; after which the stenographer 
was dismissed and the benign Kedmore withdrew. A deli¬ 
cate hint from Mr. Franklin prompted Gladys to write a 
check for fifteen thousand dollars, the first quarterly instal¬ 
ment of the pseudo retainer; and a few minutes later he was 
shaking Gladys’ hand at his door. 

“Remember, it was the best I could make out of a bad 
situation,” he assured her once more. “And don’t let 
yourself worry over this situation—I shall take care of you.” 

“It’s an awful lot to pay, but—” She grimaced, and 
lifted her shoulders. Then she smiled at him. “You’ll not 
forget to run out and see me?” 

“Indeed I shall not!” 

When Gladys had gone, he stood with check in hand, ex¬ 
ulting. This was the way to swing big things! There were 
a lot of clever lawyers in New York who were on the look¬ 
out for choice bits of business such as this; but not one of 
them, not the cleverest of the lot, could have turned this 
trick as cleverly as he! And he was safe—covered, under¬ 
written, guaranteed, at every point! 

He recalled the day he had read Cordelia’s advertisement 
and the day of her visit, and the quickness with which he had 
seen his rare chance and had seized it. How right he had 
been! Cordelia had certainly proved his long-awaited op¬ 
portunity ! What a distance he had travelled since he had 
deftly attached himself to her! 

Yes, what a distance—and yet he had only just begun to 

Into his soaring mind there slipped the unease of what 
Gladys had said about Cordelia and Jerry Plimpton: Cor¬ 
delia swinging Jerry toward her by the use of that extorted 
letter. He had previously taken note of the danger of this 



attachment; but what Gladys had told him made this danger 
seem more acute. Steps had to be taken. One could not 
be too careful. His quick brain became busy. He re¬ 
called that Cordelia had told him she had checked out the 
entire five thousand he had previously given her. That 
meant that she was again hard up. Another check was the 
thing; the more cancelled checks he had the surer he would 
be. So he scribbled a note, full of more praise and grati¬ 
tude, so phrased that she would have to regard the enclosure 
as clearly earned, and yet so phrased that the note would 
mean nothing to another person—besides he had advised her 
for her own protection to burn all his letters, and she had 
promised—wrote out a check for twenty-five hundred, 
slipped it into the envelope, and himself went out into the 
corridor and dropped the letter into the chute. 

He was spending a lot of money—undoubtedly. But 
then, one could not play for high stakes without putting a lot 
of cash upon the table. And in the end the worth of his 
money, a thousand times its worth, was coming back to 
him, for he was going to win! For how can the man 
possibly lose who unsuspected by all has loaded the dice, 
stacked the cards? 



Cordelia was now playing the drama of her life upon a 
stage, in a setting—however entrancing it may seem to those 
who gaze enviously upon it from the cheaper seats—where 
unusual and dramatic action is not considered good social 
dramaturgy. The incidents of life must be interesting; in 
fact, making them interesting is the chief motive and con¬ 
cern of such life; but the incidents must run smoothly, in 
their appointed order and according to the scenario of one’s 
engagement book. Furthermore, Cordelia was a lady; and 
a lady may dream and even scheme, but if she would remain 
impeccably a lady she must limit herself by the code of her 
class and must wait with seemingly mild interest and even 
smiling detachment for her plans to mature into events; she 
cannot with compelling and colorful action hasten her desires 
into swift and dramatic conclusions as may a spirited woman 
who has a lowlier position to live up to and to risk. Here is 
the most tedious, trying penalty that accompanies the bless¬ 
ing of being a lady: one must forever be a lady. 

Cordelia’s career, which she never ceased to regard as 
a thing of growing splendor, had now apparently reached 
one of those pleasant, eventless stretches where a lady can 
only wait. 

The days and weeks which now flowed by were of course 
exciting enough in their details, in their hopes, in their 
suspense. But whatever might be happening outside the 




boundaries of her knowledge, or whatever forces might be 
gathering, nothing of importance happened upon the surface 
of Cordelia’s life; and nothing of importance consciously 
happened within her, and she ventured no further undertak¬ 
ing. Every hour was interesting and full; she was seeing 
Jerry Plimpton almost every day, and she sensed that they 
were nearing a rapprochement; she saw Mr. Franklin every 
few days; Gladys was frequently over to Jackie’s place, and 
Cordelia drove frequently across to Rolling Meadows—for 
Gladys was insistently eager to maintain terms of friend¬ 
ship ; there were frequent sessions with the enthusiastic Kyle 
Brandon who was always having new ideas for her part in 
the pageant; and when not thus engaged, there were bridge 
parties and dances at this country house and that, and drives 
home through the beautiful but too prompt dawn. Just days 
of delightful routine: moving triumphantly toward an ap¬ 
pointed culmination. 

But though Cordelia’s life was now barren of large 
dramatic events—that is, dramatic events of which she was 
conscious—she was fully conscious that life for her had 
never been richer, more full of promise, than during these 
splendid days; that she herself had never been more able to 
meet life, manage life, and, yes, adorn life. Never before 
had she been happier; never so free from the care of money; 
never had she had brighter dreams, and never had her 
dreams been so certain of fulfilment. To her friends, to 
the host who admired her from a distance, she was Cor¬ 
delia at her best, a super-Cordelia. In a more resplendent 
way than ever before she was that which all her life had 
trained her to be. And in a thoroughly human way—a way 
that warmed her with kindliness toward all and gave new 
strength and dignity to her splendid self-confidence—she was 
aware that she radiated ability, and charm, and graciousness. 



and glory. Never before, to any such degree as during 
these expansive and expanding weeks, did that old half- 
humorous title of Cordelia the Magnificent seem so 
thoroughly deserved, so perfectly fitting—so much an in¬ 
spiration on the part of the proud father who had bestowed 

Cordelia the Magnificent! She was nothing less. 

Occasionally her soaring spirits fluttered to earth and she 
thought of Mitchell; in fact, her mind, particularly when 
she wasn’t watching it, flashed down to him several times a 
day. Sometimes her thoughts were dominated by resent¬ 
ment of the man’s cool insolence; again by curiosity. He 
had said that there was no mystery about him, that when she 
learned the full truth she would be surprised only by its 
simplicity, its utter obviousness. Perhaps he had not been 
telling the truth when he had said this; certainly he was no 
ordinary person. Who was he—really? What sort was 
the real Mitchell, at bottom? 

Not once during her several brief visits to Rolling 
Meadows did Mitchell again break through his butler de¬ 

She was of course curious, even felt keen suspense, over 
how Mr. Franklin was going to put an end to Mitchell’s 
hold upon Gladys, his admitted blackmail of her; this 
achievement represented her cleverness, her effort. On one 
of Mr. Franklin’s early visits to Jackie’s place—this was at 
the end of the afternoon following his bargain with Gladys 
—Cordelia drew him aside and questioned him upon this 
business of Mitchell. 

“As I once before told you, the clearing of this matter 
will require time,” he said. “But I am making progress. 
Excellent progress, in fact; for I am no longer merely 
working for Miss Norworth indirectly, as the attorney for 



her trustees. Miss Norworth has placed all her personal 
affairs in my hands, as her attorney.” 

“Splendid! Is this arrangement a secret?” 

“By no means. I’m sure Miss Norworth will confirm it, 
if you care to ask her.” 

Here was a real accomplishment which Cordelia felt was 
due to her efforts. And when, half an hour after his de¬ 
parture, Franklin’s letter of praise with the enclosed check 
for twenty-five hundred dollars was opened (she had 
slept till after lunch, and it was seven o’clock when she 
turned to her morning mail) she felt that she really de¬ 
served the tribute he paid her; and she glowingly agreed 
with him, that her service was so unique and valuable that 
she had fully earned this further bonus. 

The following day Cordelia was over at Rolling Meadows, 
primarily for an hour with Francois; and she managed a 
few moments apart with Gladys, during which she con¬ 
gratulated her upon entrusting her affairs to so able a man 
as Mr. Franklin. 

“That must mean, Gladys,” she ended, “that there’ll soon 
be an end to Mitchell’s bleeding you.” 

Gladys had been glaring since Cordelia’s first word upon 
the subject. She now exploded. 

“It means that I am being bled ten times worse than 

“Worse than ever! How ?” 

Cordelia’s appearance of astonished innocence was al¬ 
together too much for Gladys. “How? You know how, 
damn you! You damned hypocrite! You crook! That’s 
just what you are, a damned crook!” 

Cordelia stiffened. A dangerous gleam flashed from her 

“Gladys, you’ll please explain exactly what you mean!” 



But Gladys did not explain. Courage and anger left her 
with panic abruptness. She remembered how much further 
Cordelia might go, if provoked. And she recalled Mr. 
Franklin’s strict injunction to say nothing about paying out 
hush money through him. So once more she cringed; spoke 
of her uncontrollable nerves; vowed she meant no reflection 
against Cordelia. 

Cordelia went away puzzled. Also incensed against 
Mitchell. At the very least Mitchell should have been con¬ 
tent with the tribute he was already exacting. Instead, 
Gladys had said he was demanding and receiving more! 
Yes, the man was a scoundrel; his behavior answered all 
doubt of that; and what a ruthless, unmitigated scoundrel 
the man was! 

Notwithstanding this unexpected failure in the matter of 
Mitchell, or rather the delay in her success, Cordelia did 
not return Mr. Franklin’s twenty-five-hundred-dollar check 
sent in recognition of services extraordinary. She did not 
return it for the compelling reason that she no longer had it; 
she had very promptly either spent it, or pledged herself to 
its expenditure. Of course she had not paid anything on 
her new accounts at the shops; those bills were less than a 
month old, and of course could not be considered as really 
owed for six months or so. But more than any other of her 
possessions, that smart, foreign-built roadster was the true 
index of her place in the world, and that roadster had been 
getting noticeably shabby—scratched paint, a bent fender, 
nauseated and regurgitant growlings which excited the fear 
that the sickly car might some day spew out all its intimate 
organs immodestly upon the public highway. Of course 
there was not enough money for a new car—not for a smart 
car, that is; so that morning she had driven her dependable 
pet into a New York service station, and had ordered a 



thorough overhauling and a special paint job—the very best. 
The estimate had been fifteen hundred dollars; and as 
sophisticated automobile hospitals have the disobliging 
practice of requiring cash payments upon the delivery of a 
car^this meant that fifteen hundred dollars were, as it were, 
held in escrow. And then her mother, always hard up, had 
written despairingly of irritating creditors; and Cordelia, in 
the full current of a spending mood, had endangered her 
mother's weak heart by sending her a thousand-dollar check. 
Thus once again Cordelia's balance had succumbed to habit 
and returned to its home-like environment which was 
bounded on the top by one hundred dollars. 

It was just a bit annoying, even embarrassing, that she 
had spent this money, and had to forego the graceful gesture 
of returning it. But then—well, Mr. Franklin would soon 
have Mitchell thoroughly checked. And besides, Mr. 
Franklin must have known of this delay when he had written 
her the letter of praise and sent the check. It was going to 
work out all right. 

It seemed as if this Mitchell was the thread upon which 
were strung all the odds and ends of un-routine events of 
this delightful routine period. She had been at Jackie’s 
a month or six weeks when Murray Thorndike amazed his 
wife and the servants by coming home to dinner; this 
phenomenon had a very simple explanation which Murray 
was not called on to deliver. The dancing lady was just 
then preparing to introduce a new number in the summer 
show and what with the time and temper required for her 
rehearsals—well, Murray decided to take a little vacation and 
devote himself to domesticity. 

His plump, good-humored, liquor-illumined, yet essentially 
out-of-doors, face had the eager light of one who bears sur¬ 
prising news. “Guess whom I saw lunching in the Gran- 



tham Grill? All those grand dukes of waiters kissing his 
feet; and him taking it as easy as if he’d never done any¬ 
thing else with his feet except have them kissed by grand 
dukes. Give you each ten guesses, and lay you ten to one 
you don’t come within ten thousand miles.” 

They had their guesses, then gave up. 

“That beggar that’s been Gladys Norworth’s butler. 
Mitchell’s his name. And I tell you he looked just about as 
top-hole as they come, and acted as if he’d always had 
butlers, not been one. Now wouldn’t that knock you dead!” 

Cordelia had expected Mitchell’s reincarnation in human 
garb, and with a different status; none the less she was just 
a bit startled by the event now that it had come to pass. She 
counted it fortunate, though, that she was thus learning of 
his transition at second hand, saving her from possible 
embarrassment should she unprepared have chanced upon the 
altered man. 

Murray was going rapidly on: “He was lunching with 
old Bill Graham; with old Bill of all men—remember, 
Jackie, Bill was my best man. I stopped and was talking to 
Bill before I even noticed the Mitchell person; hadn’t really 
seen him when Bill started to introduce us. Mitchell took 
the introduction just as if he’d never seen me before; just 
as easy as that. As for me, I almost passed out—almost 
came apart. And that handsome beggar—cool as a cocktail 
—has fed me my soup, God knows how many times! And 
him as cool—-as cool—” 

It was Jackie who interrupted his incoherence with ques¬ 
tions. Cordelia did not need to ask them; she thought she 
already knew the answers. 

“What was his idea in acting as a butler?” 

“I didn’t have the nerve to ask him. I didn’t have the 
nerve even to suggest that I’d ever seen him as a butler— 



not to that cool bird. Though damned if I didn’t feel all 
the while that he was grinning at me inside himself.” 

“What’s he doing, now that he’s stopped being a butler?” 
demanded Jackie. 

“Opened some kind of an office—don’t remember just 
what sort. Believe he represents some western interests; I 
think he did say something about automobiles. On a very 
modest scale, he said. I gathered that he’d just recently 
come into a bit of money.” 

He had indeed come into a bit of money, Cordelia grimly 
remarked to herself; and she knew just how he’d come into 

“Afterwards I saw old Bill Graham alone,” Murray bab¬ 
bled on. “Seems old Bill had known Mitchell a bit over in 
France during the big scrap. Bill hadn’t known Mitchell 
well, for Mitchell was with the Canadians. Says Mitchell 
had a buddy he was nuts about; the buddy was wiped out 
in nineteen-sixteen, after which Mitchell started out to lick 
the Germans all by his lonesome. According to Bill this 
Mitchell was a humdinger; devil of a fine chap; cool, reck¬ 
less, liked by every one. Didn’t happen to make one of 
those spectacular military reputations, though, which are 
largely the result of accident, luck, and having a war corre¬ 
spondent look your way at just the right minute. But Bill 
says he certainly is one corker! Gee, wouldn’t I like to have 
the inside story of that bird!” 

Wherever Cordelia went during the next few days, the 
ex-butler of Gladys came excitedly into the conversation. 
Mitchell was by way of being a mild sensation. No one 
seemed to have news of him that was superior to Murray 
Thorndike’s vague incoherencies; and Cordelia did not 
choose to enlarge the fund of common knowledge by re¬ 
vealing her experiences, store of facts, suspicions and con- 



jectures. The talk about him found expression chiefly in 
the form of interjections and questions. An obvious gentle¬ 
man who had chosen to assume the role of butler! How 
interesting—how extraordinary! And why had he done it? 
He must have had some big mysterious reason for working 
as a butler! Guesses at his reason flew back and forth 
across dinner tables: a list of the romantic guesses would 
very closely have matched the summary of possibilities the 
smiling, tantalizing Mitchell had made for Cordelia during 
their first intimate talk in the little burnt clearing among the 
scrub pines. 

Gladys was present at one of these dinners, and she 
was assailed for answers to these guesses. She professed 
ignorance equal to that of her questioners. 

“Didn’t you ever once suspect, while he was with you, 
that he might be something besides a butler?” was de¬ 
manded of her. 

“Not once,” she replied. “And when he left me, and 
turned out to be a gentleman, I was just as surprised as any 
of you.” 

“Really! Just think of having had a man like that work 
for you as a servant! Now that you know what he is, how 
will you treat him if you ever happen to see him?” 

“I shall forget that he was ever my butler, and shall treat 
him just as I would any other gentleman.” 

Really! Then they’d have to treat him that way, too, 
they supposed. 

Cordelia felt a grudging admiration for Gladys for the 
naturalness with which she acted this little scene. Except 
for Cordelia, not a soul at that dinner had a guess as to 
Gladys’ real emotions and motives. 



On the following Sunday—the time was now late in 
August—while out motoring with Jerry, Cordelia suggested 
that they drop in at Rolling Meadows for tea; her secret 
reason being a desire for a half hour’s visit with Frangois. 
When they mounted Gladys’ porch, there was Mitchell with 
the eager Frangois on his knee. Gladys introduced Mitchell, 
and since Frangois refused to leave his perch, Mitchell had 
to acknowledge the introductions sitting, which he did with 
a courteous modesty containing no hint of mockery. Jerry, 
experienced man of the world, was perfectly at his ease in 
shaking hands with and being pleased to meet the former 
servant. Cordelia, watching, felt approval for the manner 
of both men. 

“Mother Cordelia,” promptly interjected Frangois, “don’t 
you think that Mitchell looks funny without his other coat? 
Mitchell, what did you do with your other coat?” 

“I’m saving it to give to your Brer Rabbit, when he 
grows up,” Mitchell answered with grave humor, “so he can 
be a big butler rabbit like the one in your picture book.” 

Frangois remembered the picture, and laughed gleefully. 
“My rabbit will look funny in that coat, won’t he?” He 
snuggled closer. “I don’t care which coat you wear, Mitch¬ 
ell, I like you just the same!” 

Just then Gladys’ new butler, with outraged supercilious¬ 
ness which it was beyond butler nature entirely to conceal, 




handed the ex-butler his tea; and Frangois, insisting that 
the story he had been hearing be continued, Mitchell drew 
apart from the others and resumed the interrupted narrative. 
Presently Mitchell crossed toward the steps, Frangois 
clinging to his hand; and Frangois called to Cordelia per¬ 
emptorily : 

“Mother Cordelia, you haven’t seen my rabbit for ’most 
a year. We’re going out to see him, and I want you to come 

Cordelia surmised that the visit and the demand upon her 
had been adroitly suggested to the boy by Mitchell, as a ruse 
to get her away for a private talk. Instead of being averse 
to such a meeting, she was flutteringly eager; and accom¬ 
panied the two to the rabbit’s private estate behind the 
garage. Sure enough, Jeanne, the boy’s governess, soon 
appeared and Mitchell swore Frangois to obedience to 
Jeanne, administering a solemn oath with the humorous 
gravity in which the boy delighted. Two minutes later Cor¬ 
delia and Mitchell were face to face in the seclusion of the 
sunken rose garden. She was the first to speak; her tone 
was accusatory, contemptuous. 

“So you decided to end the buffering masquerade, and 
become a man of affairs.” 

He was not ruffled in the least by the rebuke of her at¬ 
titude. He smiled pleasantly. 

“Yes. I thought I’d better make a change, for rather 
unexpectedly and suddenly I came into some money that 
had long been owing me.” 

“Don’t think you can deceive me by this story of having 
come into money! I know whose money it is you came 
into, and how you came into it! Gladys’ money—and you 
came into it by blackmail.” 



She would have been at a loss to explain the fierce 
strength of her anger against this man, had she been asked 
for an explanation. 

“I should have thought,” she went on with more scathing 
contempt, ‘‘that you would have been content with the 
amount of blackmail you have been making Gladys pay you. 
Instead, you make her pay more—ten times more! And 
you try to cover it all by starting this story of having come 
into money!” 

His smile was gone, he was soberly alert. 

“One moment, please! Who said I was making Gladys 
pay me more?” 


“Our dear Gladys has both a gift and an affection for 
lies. She has been lying to you.” 

“I don’t believe it!”’ 

“Gladys has been lying to you. Or else—” He broke 
off, a swiftly dawning thought in his eyes, and regarded her 
with sharp intentness. 

“Or else?” 

He continued his intent gaze. 

“Or else?” she prompted, mockingly. 

“Pardon me if I seem abruptly to change the subject of 
conversation. Mr. Franklin is your lawyer. How well do 
you know him—how far do you think you can trust him ?” 

“He’s my lawyer—that should be answer enough,” she 
replied haughtily. 

“But how far is he to be trusted ? I had a little talk with 
him the other day, and from the way he spoke—” He 
checked himself, then shot out a sudden question: “Have 
you ever by any chance let slip in Mr. Franklin’s presence 
any of the facts of Gladys’ situation?” 



This was distinctly none of Mitchell’s business, he was 
most presumptuous; a lie was thoroughly justifiable. So 
she lied, and lied convincingly. 

“I have not!” 

“Then Gladys is lying. No one is extorting further 
money from her.” 

Against her will, Cordelia was convinced that Mitchell 
was speaking the truth. 

“Pardon me if I intrude so far as to give you a bit of ad¬ 
vice,” he continued. “About Mr. Franklin. From his 
manner to me—well, he’s a clever lawyer, no doubt of that; 
but I wouldn’t trust him too far. I suggest you don’t men¬ 
tion anything about Gladys to him, and do not mention any¬ 
thing else to him that might ever be used against you or any¬ 
body else.” 

“I believe that I am competent to form my own judgments 
and guide my own actions,” she returned stiffly. 

He accepted her rebuff, and dismissed the subject of 
Franklin with a slight bow. 

“While we are on the subject of my blackmailing of 
Gladys, I want to give you the full truth about that matter. 
In fact, since I am once more myself, I’d rather like to have 
you know all the truth about me. Or at least, almost all.” 

“Including the mystery?” 

“Including the mystery.” He was smiling again. “Only, 
as I once warned you, you’ll find it a poor mystery—really 
no mystery at all. First as to the blackmailing of Gladys. 
I plead guilty. I’ve made Gladys pay me two thousand a 
month all the while I was with her. I did it for Francois’ 
sake. Every penny of it is invested for him.” 

Again Cordelia was convinced he was speaking the truth. 
Suddenly she remembered the letter she had found the day 
she had searched Mitchell’s room; the letter had referred to 



money he was investing, and before she could check herself 
a question leaped from her lips. 

“The letter I found in your coat spoke of investments. 
Were they investments for Frangois?” 

His face was suddenly tense. “What letter ?” he de¬ 
manded sharply. 

Too late she saw her slip. She decided dignity would 
be her best manner. 

“You know very well I suspected you, and was trying to 
find out things about you. I searched your room and found 
a letter. It was typewritten, spoke of large drafts you had 
been sending, and was signed “J.” 

He regarded her searchingly for a moment, then said 
slowly: “If I remember that particular letter correctly, it 
told you nothing further.” 

“It did not. But it made me ask myself a lot of ques¬ 

“About me?” 

“Yes. And why you should have that kind of a letter 
written you.” 

“I think I understand. I think your questions can be 
answered—Fm not saying this is the full answer—can be 
answered by one fact which you are well acquainted 
with. I was trying to conceal my identity, and desired to 
have no clues about which might connect me with my 

This seemed a trifle vague; but it was a sort of answer 
to the many questions that letter had aroused in her. 

“Why have you gotten this money for Frangois?” 

His smile had once more returned. 

“Haven’t I already made that plain to you? Because I 
wanted some protection for Frangois in case Gladys ever 
does some utterly wild thing, of which she is thoroughly 



capable. And because his father was the best friend I ever 
had, and I feel that it’s up to me to look out for my friend’s 
boy. I have twenty-five thousand put away for his care and 
education. That’s absolutely all there is to my blackmailing 

Reluctantly, she began to feel a hesitant, dubious admira¬ 
tion for this man; she rather liked his humorous smile, now 
bold, now teasing. She did not kncfw it, but her own face 
had begun to relax into a smile. 

“Then that brings us to your own story. Remember, a 
few minutes ago you promised to tell me.” 

“The great Mitchell mystery?” He was laughing softly, 
with dancing eyes. She became aware that he had rather 
nice eyes. 

“Yes. The mystery of why you became a butler.” 

“All right. A promise is a promise. Here goes. But 
sure you’re all braced for a shock?” 

“Yes! Go on!” 

“Remember I warned you that the great mystery was that 
there was no mystery. That the great surprise was that 
there would be no surprise. All ready for a shock like 

He was just teasing her, and she knew it; but none the 
less his light words whetted her expectancy, her suspense, 
to a keener edge. 

“I’m ready! Go on!” 

“Well, I became a butler because—” He hesitated, still 

“Yes? Yes?” 

“Because I was broke.” 


“I was broke. I needed the money.” He chuckled. “I 



told you the only real point to the solution of my mystery 
was its utter simplicity, its utter obviousness. I went to 
work for exactly the same reason that every other man goes 
to work: I needed the money.” 

Her face had gone blank. She felt as though something 
very large and brilliant had been deflated with dizzying sud¬ 
denness; as though she had been cheated by some swift, 
amazing trick. 

“Is that—that all there is to it?” she stammered. 

“Absolutely all there is to it.” 

“But to—to go to work—as—as a butler?” 

“When a man’s hard up, he turns to the thing he can do 
best, or the thing which will pay him best. That’s natural, 
isn’t it—and very simple?” 

She was beginning to understand. How—how flat it 
was! . . . But the thing was too far outside her experience 
and the range of her thoughts, for her to understand it fully. 
He saw the bewilderment in her face. 

“Perhaps Fd better explain a bit. Remember what I 
once told you about how I paid my way through college, by 
working in eating clubs during the college year, and in big 
resort hotels and country homes during the summer ? That 
was all true. Naturally you don’t know about such things, 
so I’ll tell you that there’s nothing a poor college chap can 
do which will pay as much, or at least enable him to save as 
much, as working in big resort hotels and summer houses. 
Menial perhaps—but it gets you the money. You have no 
idea how many college boys are doing just that. Also some 
college girls. Naturally the better you are, the more money 
you get; and I decided to become the best. Besides sol¬ 
diering, butlering is the one trade I know; and if I do 
say it myself, I certainly am one good butler! I challenge 



the world! So you see at Rolling Meadows I wasn’t a 
fake, and I wasn’t really masquerading. I was just an 
honest-to-God butler working at his regular trade. Does 
this line of talk make things any simpler?” 

She nodded slowly, still dazed. “But your going back to 
be a butler after—after being something better? For you 
had been a captain, hadn’t you?—or something?” 

“That brings me to a situation which a rich girl like you 
—a girl who has never been caught in a financial trap, and 
had to pull herself out—simply cannot imagine yourself 
ever being up against. So, since experience cannot help 
your imagination, perhaps I won’t be able to make the thing 
plain to you. It was like this: When the War was over, I 
found myself with a bit of an income; nothing big, you 
understand, but enough to live on comfortably. My father 
and mother had died during the War, and of the heirs men¬ 
tioned in the will of an aunt I was the only one still living. 
The money was all in securities, and I left it there. Since 
I had a fair income I decided to finish the technical educa¬ 
tion the War had interrupted. So I lived that life for a 
year; took things easy, spending every cent; was quite a 
swell of about the third rate, had my smart little car—noth¬ 
ing like yours, of course—and things like that. Studied 
pretty hard, but otherwise I was one of the lilies of the 
field and enjoyed being a lily. 

“Well, in the meantime a friend of mine had needed back¬ 
ing in a business venture, and I had let him have all my 
bonds to put up as security. About a year ago, when I was 
at the height of my joyous glory—thump!—my friend was 
wiped out, there was I suddenly without an income, not a 
dollar in my bank, no idea where I was going to get a dollar, 
and with no end of social obligations. I was by way of be¬ 
ing a social favorite, or thought I was. A giddy social fa- 



vorite, suddenly gone broke! Imagine my fix, if you can. 
But you can’t!” 

He laughed at the memory of his predicament. Cordelia 
had a vague but most uncomfortable sense that this thing 
had somehow become acutely personal. 

“What did you do?” she asked hurriedly. 

“Went to work; what else was there for a chap in my fix 
to do?” he demanded. “Went to work at the one paying 
job I really knew, being a butler. Since I’d known Gladys 
in France, as I’ve told you, and had a certain influence with 
her, I made her take me on. I’ve saved, on the average, 
one hundred and fifty a month while I’ve been Gladys’ 
butler—out of wages and tips. How many young doctors 
or lawyers save that much ?” 

“You mean to say—you’ve taken tips from Gladys’ 
guests ?” 

At her shocked tone he chuckled again. 

“I took tips from every one of them. Except from you. 
You didn’t offer me any. That’s one grudge I still hold 
against you. And why shouldn’t I have taken tips ? I was 
a regular butler, and all butlers take tips. Besides, as I told 
you, I needed the money; I was saving towards a stake. 
Shocked, are you? That’s because you rich young ladies 
of fashionable leisure, never having felt the need of a dollar, 
can’t put yourselves in the place of a person who has simply 
got to have money.” 

He mistook her wide stare, her parted lips, for a look of 
bewildered pity. He hastened to reassure her. 

“Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t deserve it. The 
world’s full of people doing more or less the same thing. 
And really, it’s not hard at all. If a fellow’s caught in a fix 
like mine—why, if he’s willing to work, and is moderately 
honest, and does not have any false pride, and isn’t afraid 



of people, and is able to see the points of the great human 
comedy—why, there’s nothing he can’t do, and have a good 
time doing it.” 

She again had the sense that his remarks were somehow 
personal. She made haste to veer away from this discom¬ 

“It’s really true, then, that your only motive was just to 
make money?” 

“My dominating motive, yes; except for necessity I would 
not have taken up my old trade. Of course there were other 
motives. I’d long had it in for Gladys for her attitude to¬ 
ward my friend. Remember, it was not because she be¬ 
lieved him a bigamist that Gladys grew ashamed of him; a 
lot of otherwise decent chaps, caught by the wild mood of 
the Paris of those war days, forgot their Puritan morals and 
followed where fancy led. Remember that Gladys grew 
ashamed of him, once his glory flickered out, because he 
had been a working-man, a mechanic; was ashamed of him 
before she had heard anything against him or had heard of 
his death. Being in Gladys’ house gave me a chance to 
make Gladys writhe. And believe me, I’m not through with 
her yet! Wait till the right time comes!” 

His closing words came out incisively, almost with a vin¬ 
dictive snap—in sharp contrast to the humorous, half-quiz¬ 
zical tone of all the rest of what he had been saying. But 
instantly he was again smiling. 

“I shouldn’t have said that last. Sometimes my brain 
falls asleep while supposed to be on duty, and then my 
tongue wags just as it crazily pleases. So forget what I 

As if to cover his slip, he immediately went on. “You 
were asking me about my other motives. I’ve always been 
a bit of a—well, you might call it a plain and fancy fool. 



Was always ready for anything if I saw a chance for fun in 
it. That part of my nature was perhaps another motive; 
a very minor motive. At any rate it’s better than a comedy, 
acting the butler to Gladys’ friends, and being treated as a 
butler by them! And some of the things they’ve said to 
me!—and before me! Undoubtedly there is a streak of 
the devil in me, for I’ve certainly had a lark!” 

He grinned, somewhat impishly, at his memories. The 
next moment his smile had undergone yet another change: 
was challenging, daring, dancing, held direct upon her. 

“And these last few weeks there has been still another 
motive for playing the man of mystery, and exaggerating 
the part a bit. Really the biggest motive of all.” 

“What was that?” 

“To excite your interest in me.’” 


“From the day I first saw you I’ve been interested in you. 
A cat may look at a king, you know, and a butler may look 
at a—I haven’t the right tag to finish that sentence with. 
But I couldn’t expect you to look at a butler. Not unless 
the butler was unusual—say a man of mystery. Half the 
things I’ve done since you came to Rolling Meadows, I did 
with the great purpose of puzzling you, making you curious. 
Am I not honest?” 

Outrage was beginning to swell in her; but she had a 
swift suspicion, and a question she had been asking herself 
over and over these many weeks she now asked him. 

“That night you let me in—and picked me up—you 
started to tell me something or ask me something. What 
was it?” 

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” His impish smile was 
yet more daring. “That was just a carefully thought-out 
little trick of mine to make you think about me—make you 



curious. Was it pity, or curiosity, that some poet once re¬ 
marked was akin to love? As for me, I staked my chances 
on curiosity. I’m sure you get what I’m driving at, for 
you will recall I once listed myself as one of the men you 
might marry.” 

She had grown furiously red. “Of—of all the nerve!” 

“Oh, I have the nerve all right. I’ve admitted that. My 
nerve is my fortune, sir, she said. Also I rather like and 
believe in myself. I haven’t the money or the position of 
the estimable Jerry person, and never will have, but other¬ 
wise I have just as good qualifications for a husband. I 
recommend myself most heartily.” 

She tried to say something, choked and lost her chance, 
for he was off again. 

“And now you know all there is to know about me: my 
past, my present, also my future purpose. Oh, yes—I 
should have mentioned that the friend I loaned my securi¬ 
ties to finally got himself untangled and has squared him¬ 
self with me. So I have my little income back, and my 
sweating brain cells are going to add to it. No, you don’t 
know quite all about me. There are two things you still 
don’t know. First, my real name. That’s not important, 
and never will have the slightest significance; Mitchell is 
just as good and means just as much; I’m merely holding 
my real name in abeyance for a little personal reason. 
Second, you don’t yet know one other detail of my relations 
with Gladys; that also I am holding back for a personal 
reason—until, I might say, the market suits me. A man is 
entitled to two minor secrets in his life, isn’t he? Oh, yes— 
there is a third thing you don’t yet know about me. Now I 
wonder if I should mention that?” 

With the last sentence, his manner had become grave and 
hesitant. She should have known him well enough by this 



time to have suspected that he might be laying a trap for 
her. But with his two exceptions he had again adroitly 
aroused her curiosity, thrown her off her guard. 

“The third—what is that?” 

He flashed his bold, dancing, whimsical smile at her. 

“You don’t yet know whether I’m going to be your hus¬ 

She stiffened, gasped, glared at this final outrage. 

“If you feel I have not yet proposed to you in the proper 
set terms, please consider I have now formally done so.” 

“I’m going to the house!” she exclaimed. 

“Yes,” he agreed pleasantly, “perhaps we had better be 
strolling back to Jerry.” 

Smiling with whimsical delight, he followed her out of 
the garden. 



In the ensuing days of industrious pleasure, Cordelia 
glowered inwardly whenever she thought of that scene in the 
sunken garden, and she thought of it often. To be pro¬ 
posed to by such a man as Mitchell—the effrontery of it! 
And topping that insult, to have him laugh in her face while 
he proposed! 

It was a habit among her girl friends, dating back to the 
old days of Harcourt Hall, to talk among themselves with 
an excitement subdued to indifference (first swearing the 
confidantes to secrecy which they hoped would not be kept), 
of their aspiring love-affairs, their conquests, their pro¬ 
posals. Well, here was one proposal no one would ever 
hear her brag about! 

Her inclination toward Mitchell, at its intensest, was an 
itch to be his murderess. 

In her angered and contemptuous thinking, there was an 
aspect of the situation that never crossed the border of her 
mind. If one of Mitchell’s objects had been, as he had pro¬ 
claimed, to make her think of him, he had in that purpose 
been an unmitigated success. Cordelia had been proposed 
to by many men, all of them desirable men, whom she had 
pleasantly refused. But never had she thought so much, 
and so intensely, of any rejected suitor as of the provoca¬ 
tively smiling Mitchell. 

In her less indignant moods her mind would drift to the 
story Mitchell had told her in the sunken garden. The 




more she considered the explanation of his mystery, the 
more commonplace and uninteresting did the man and his 
story seem to be; just so do all mysterious phenomenon sink 
to insignificance in the human mind after they have received 
the mortal blow of an unmysterious and perfectly natural 
solution. After all, the thing was just as Mitchell had said; 
he had gone to work for exactly the same reason as any other 
servant—for wages. And where was there any romance in 
a servant going to work for wages ? 

Yes, aside from his audacity, and a certain glib trick of 
the tongue, the man was utterly commonplace! Negligible! 

By degrees—more from the operations of the subcon¬ 
scious than from any reasoned comparison—she had become 
aware of elements of similarity between his story and her 
own. Both, had received unexpected financial blows, both 
had had to meet a financial emergency or go under. Both 
had met their emergency by work: he as a servant, she by the 
valuable exercise of higher powers. 

So he thought she had never known the pinch and fear of 
the lack of money! If he only knew the truth of how she 
had been pinched, and how she had worked! She laughed 
grimly whenever she thought of this. 

She was sure she despised and hated him. He was out¬ 
rageously presumptuous. She decided to put him out of 
her mind. Thank heavens, there was little chance of her 
meeting him again. Despite what people had said in their 
first surprise at learning he was not a butler by long descent, 
they after all would hardly go so far as to invite him to 
their houses; and if they did, he probably had enough 
ordinary pride and sense of his own proper place to refuse 
their invitations. Gladys’ was the only house where he 
was likely to be; Gladys wouldn’t dare refuse to let him 
come, and of course there was Frangois to draw him to 



Rolling Meadows. She’d go to Rolling Meadows as little as 
possible, and when she did she’d go prepared to keep Mitchell 
very coldly in his place. 

He was permanently out of her world, out of her life. 
That was one comfort. 

And having decided that he was to be kept out of her 
mind, being happy that he was closed out of her world, she 
was naturally somewhat disconcerted and infuriated when 
out driving with Jerry and when Jerry was chatting along 
as smoothly as his purring motor, and when Jerry would 
suddenly check his pleasant monologue with ‘‘Don’t you 
think that’s so, Cordelia?”—it was somewhat infuriating to 
be thus jerked back to herself and the consciousness that 
her hands were angrily clenched and that for some time she 
had been seeing only the whimsically smiling face of a man 
who was explaining away his unmysterious mystery. 

She only thought of him because he was so exasperating. 
That was it. Time would make her indifferent to such ir¬ 
ritations. He really was an incident that was closed; rather, 
an incident that really had never been. Time would 
thoroughly erase him. 

While life, except for these irritating irruptions of 
Mitchell in her mind, was sweeping onward for Cordelia 
with thrilling eventlessness toward an ever more certain con¬ 
summation, Mr. Franklin was regarding this development of 
her affairs with no such content; and he had no such willing¬ 
ness to let matters take their own course, happy in the cer¬ 
tainty that they would eventually drift into the harbor of his 
desire. He was the captain of his soul and of his fortune; 
he did not like the set of the tide, nor the looks of certain 
reefs that were lifting out of the sea; it was his part to 
stand unintermittently on watch and do some very expert 



Of course socially he was sailing in the right direction 
and sailing smoothly and rapidly. With this aspect of his 
situation he was satisfied. Tremendously so. 

But he was not pleased with the manner in which the 
lines of Cordelia’s and Jerry’s lives were moving undeviat- 
ingly toward an intersection, a confluence. He could termin¬ 
ate this affair, could turn Cordelia from her course so that 
there would be no intersection—of this he had no doubt; 
but he recognized that limitations were now upon what he 
might have done, and upon what he desired to do. He was 
not free to use his full wits, his full powers. He could not 
injure Cordelia, his future wife, in public esteem, as there 
was danger of his doing if he used all his power and there 
should be an attending mishap. 

A limitation which he recognized even more clearly was 
that passion was a most treacherous impediment to clear, in¬ 
fallible thinking. He was still somewhat dazed by the 
wholly unexpected fact that he was in love with Cordelia; 
that his personal plans involving Cordelia, first conceived 
with a cool mind quick to see and calculate an advantage, 
were now captured and dominated by the first love of his 
life, a furiously passionate love. He was wildly jealous of 
Jerry Plimpton; he recognized that, and knew jealousy to 
be a weakness in any mind that sought to be cool and bal¬ 

He realized that he was not fully competent, and that 
realization made him hold himself in restraint, made him 
cautious. He therefore decided that he would wait; time 
might serve him better than he could serve himself. Ac¬ 
cident, misunderstanding, temper, might end her affair with 
Jerry. They might quarrel. Seemingly prospering court¬ 
ships were forever being abruptly terminated. Yes, he 
would hold back for that chance. 



Cordelia, Jackie, Gladys, Jerry Plimpton, his partner 
Kedmore, the others who saw Franklin during this period, 
never suspected from his pleasant, composed face, the tor¬ 
ture of jealousy, of unaccustomed indecision and inaction, 
that were tearing at his heart. 

One decision he did reach. Since he hoped to win Cor¬ 
delia without resorting to extremes, and since eventually 
she was going to accept him anyhow, it would be the part of 
wisdom to acquaint her now with his attitude. This would 
give her time to grow accustomed to him as a suitor; and if 
he were consideratively attentive, as he intended being, it 
would make her final turning to him all the easier. 

Two evenings after he formulated this decision—which 
chanced to be just two days after Mitchell’s proposal to Cor¬ 
delia—he motored out to Jackie’s and offered himself in 
marriage. He told his love extremely well, simply, with 
feeling; his was the advantage of being a most unusual actor, 
who in this instance was an actor tremendously in earnest. 

Cordelia was surprised, and genuinely pained. Whatever 
her faults, she had^ never led men on, and had never taken 
pleasure in giving the hurt of a “no” to a proposal. Ex¬ 
cepting of course, Mitchell. His proposal she had not digni¬ 
fied by giving it a refusal. 

“I had no idea you felt toward me in any such way,” she 
said honestly. “Of course I’m complimented; it seems trite 
to tell you that. But I’m sorry—I don’t feel that way 
toward you.” 

“Excuse my boldness in asking it—but do you feel that 
way toward any other man?” he pressed with loverly eager¬ 
ness. “No, I’ve no right to ask that. But may I ask this: 
have you given your promise to any other man ?” 


“Then I shall keep on hoping,” he said. 



“Please don’t,” she begged in distress. “I’m sure it will 
not make any difference. And besides, it will be rather 
embarrassing in our business relations—” 

“It will make no difference whatever in our business 
arangements,” he assured her. “I trust that you consider 
me enough of a gentleman to believe that I would not take 
advantage of our business relations to force my love upon 
you.” He smiled wanly, the smile of a brave man who is 
suffering anguish, yet smiles to lessen the other’s pain. 
“Even though you tell me there is no hope, I shall still go on 
hoping—I can’t help it.” 

She was deeply moved; even thrilled. She would never 
accept him, of course, but here was a proposal that was an 
honor! Long after Franklin had bowed in brave smiling 
pain over her hand and had driven away into the night, she 
tingled with pity and pride. Inevitably she compared the 
two proposals so recently made her: the latter respecting, 
anguished, of a brave man who hoped hopelessly on; the 
former, of a man who felt no more deeply, who respected 
her no more highly, than to turn his proposal into a grinning 

Mr. Franklin was a gentleman! She was going to be 
kind to him, and considerate. Just as kind as she could be 
without awakening the misapprehension that her kindness 
was love. 

As for Mr. Franklin, he drove through the night with 
no such pang in his heart as had shown upon his face. 
The proposal had gone off even better than he had expected. 
The seed was sown; he would cultivate it with the always 
appealing attention of a heart that hides its heart-break; time 
would help on its growth; and there were other stimulants 
in reserve. He was a lover well content. 

On taking further thought it occurred to Mr. Franklin 



that, since he had decided it was wisdom to bide his time and 
use only his slow and less powerful measures, he had been 
overlooking very considerable possibilities represented by 
Gladys. Careful consideration of these possibilities 
developed no concrete practical plan; nevertheless, on the 
Sunday afternoon following his proposal to Cordelia, he 
motored out to Rolling Meadows. Mitchell was there, but 
was down at the beach with Frangois and Esther Stevens; 
so Franklin very easily managed a confidential session with 
Gladys. He approached the matter of his visit with direct¬ 
ness and every appearance of an impressive frankness. 

“Miss Norworth, I am going to speak openly with you; 
I am going to put all my cards, face up, upon the table. 
When you and I reached our little understanding by which 
it was agreed that I was to serve you nominally as your at¬ 
torney, I then remarked that I hoped the time might come 
when I might serve you in fact. If not serve you as your 
attorney, then serve you as a friend. I believe that such 
a time has now arrived. And on the other hand, a situation 
has developed in which I believe you can serve me. We 
have certain interests in common. I suggest that we join 
forces, help each other, and thereby help ourselves/’ 

He had roused her to excited eagerness. “Yes, of course, 
if we can really help each other. What are the interests we 
have in common?” 

“Two individuals. Mr. Plimpton and Miss Marlowe.” 

Instantly her green eyes were glittering. “You should 
know how much interest I have in Cordelia Marlowe!” 

“Pardon me, you are interested in Miss Marlowe, and I 
shall show you how in just a moment. I suggested that we 
be very frank. I shall first be frank regarding myself. 
Miss Norworth, I am in love with Miss Marlowe, and I have 
very real hope that she will some day marry me.” 



Gladys stared. “Well!” she ejaculated. “Well! I 
never guessed it! That certainly is news! You’ve asked 


“What did she say?” This very eagerly. 

“She refused me. But very kindly. And without being 
egotistical, I have reason to believe she will some day answer 

“Oh, no, she won’t!” Gladys exclaimed bitterly. “She’s 
got Jerry Plimpton hooked, and you can just bet she’ll hang 
on to Jerry Plimpton!” 

“I admit Mr. Plimpton is my difficulty. And his name 
naturally brings up the other half of my proposition. I have 
been very frank about myself, Miss Norworth; now I’m go¬ 
ing to be equally frank about you—even though I may seem 
presumptuous and intrusive. I know that you feel toward 
Mr. Plimpton exactly as I feel toward Miss Marlowe: you 
want to marry him. Now don’t be angry—don’t feel that 
modesty requires you to deny this. We’re both human; we 
want what we want, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t have 
what we want if we can get it.” 

Gladys regarded him non-committally. It irked her pride 
to admit she wanted a man with whom another woman had 
walked off. 

“What’s next?” she asked. 

“You see our situations are identical: identical except for 
the one detail that a different person represents the difficulty 
in each case. If Mr. Plimpton were eliminated, I could 
more easily attain my desire. If Miss Marlowe were elim¬ 
inated, I am certain Mr. Plimpton would swing straight to 
you. If I marry Miss Marlowe, your problem is solved; 
mine is solved if you marry Mr. Plimpton. To repeat, our 
interests are identical. Our first common effort should be 



to break off the affair between Mr. Plimpton and Miss Mar¬ 
lowe. You agree in that, I presume ?” 

Gladys did not agree; at least not in words. To say that 
she cared for any one who apparently was more interested 
in Cordelia Marlowe—that was too much. But growing 
fury was in her eyes. 

“Then you want Mr. Plimpton to marry Miss Marlowe ?” 
he prodded her gently. 

At this she exploded. “I do not! Marry him through 
having made herself attractive with my money! Those new 
clothes—my money paid for them. That smartened-up car 
—my money paid for it! She’s getting him, and she’s mak¬ 
ing me pay for him for her!” 

“Then you are willing to join efforts to break the affair 

“I’ll join you in anything to break it off! But how are 
we going to do it?” 

There, Mr. Franklin had admitted to himself, was indeed 
the rub. But he did not wish to admit as much to Gladys. 
He was hoping that, somehow, she would prove the desired 

“We’ll find a way,” he assured her confidently. “Our 
first step was to reach this understanding; that in itself we 
must consider a very great accomplishment.” He regarded 
her seriously, slowly nodding his head for emphasis. “A 
very great accomplishment, indeed!” And then after a 
moment’s apparent meditation of their problem, he asked: 
“I wonder if any method had occurred to you by which 
you might—ah—influence Mr. Plimpton away from Miss 

“Indeed there has!” she cried. “And one that would 


In his quick interest he leaned sharply forward. “Yes! 
And what?” 

“Tell Jerry Plimpton straight out where and how she’s 
getting that money she’s spending! From me! And black¬ 
mail! Wouldn’t he drop her quick when he learned that! 
And say—” In the excitement of a fresh idea she gripped 
his hand. “You just said we’d work together, back each 
other up. Right here’s where we fit in together. You know 
all about her getting that money from me, for she gets it 
through you. Why, you and I can go before those two and 
you can come right out and prove everything I say and 
make her admit it!” 

His excitement, which had flamed high for a moment, died 
into sudden ashes. There were a few facts bearing upon his 
own relation to this blackmailing which he preferred to re¬ 
main in blessed obscurity, and Gladys’ idea of exposing Cor¬ 
delia would almost surely drag these facts forth from their 
protecting shadows. 

“For your own sake we dare not try that plan,” he said. 
“If we accuse her of blackmail, we are certain to start Mr. 
Plimpton asking the question 'On what grounds was she able 
to extort blackmail?’ That would lead straight to your— 
ah—unfortunate experience, and the child. If we were to 
force Mr. Plimpton into learning this— No, that plan will 
not do.” 

“I should say not!” Gladys breathed in alarm. 

“Have you thought of any other method ?” 

“No. Have you thought of anything?” 

“Yes. But not a plan that would be immediately practi¬ 

“What is it?” 

He smiled. “As your lawyer, I think it wiser that you 



should not know. Then you will always have the plea of 
innocence. Besides, I do not wish to use this method until 
all other methods have failed. There is an element of dan¬ 
ger in it; it might possibly involve all of us unpleasantly. 
But I will use it, if necessary; and I think, as your lawyer 
and your friend, I can guarantee you that in time Mr. Plimp¬ 
ton will be paying his attention to you.” 

He stood up. Her eyes were sparkling. 

“Pm glad that we have had this understanding,” he went 
on, “and that we are now partners. I have just one further 
suggestion. The opportunity—it may even come as an 
emergency—may arise at any moment. I think I may say, 
without conceit, that I have had more experience than you 
in handling sudden situations. I suggest, therefore,, that 
you watch me, and be ready at all times to follow my lead 
and support my actions and statements. I’ll go even further 
than making this suggestion: I ask that you consent to its 
being a part of our agreement.” 

“I agree!” she cried. “And gladly!” 

They shook hands upon this fact. During the moment 
that he held her hands and gazed down into her eager face, 
a voice within him—not the voice of emotion, but perhaps 
that of cold practical reason—once again whispered that 
Gladys possessed everything which the great world admires, 
and that he had only to stretch out his hand and take her. 

Gladys was still talking with eager animation of this new 
alliance and its hopes as she accompanied Mr. Franklin to 
the piazza on his way to his car. She was so engrossed that 
she did not see Mitchell sitting on the porch with Frangois, 
and was startled when he stood up. She flushed, for she 
suddenly recalled the letter he had compelled her to write, 
and his forcing her to promise to relinquish all aspirations 
to Jerry. Then she stared at him defiantly. 



“Mr. Franklin is my lawyer,” she announced to him, “and 
we have just been discussing a matter of business.” 

Without waiting for any response to this, she introduced 
the two men. They greeted each other without embarrass¬ 
ment, with equally matched ease: no restraint in their man¬ 
ner over the fact that one had so recently been a servant, 
and over the fact that so recently they had sat face to face* 
all expression masked, while the lawyer had made a veiled 
proposal. Franklin spoke of his pleasure in learning of the 
change in Mitchell’s fortunes, and wished him prosperity 
in his new venture, and in his proper station in life. Mitchell 
thanked the other for his good wishes. Their talk ran on 
for a minute or more. Its substance was of no consequence; 
the talk of men who are using words to hide their thoughts. 

While they thus stood face to face, with no apparent pur¬ 
pose beyond this courteous chatting, each was swiftly re¬ 
measuring and revaluing the other. They were rivals in 
love; but it was not as such that they were now consider¬ 
ing one another; as rivals each regarded the other lightly. 
Mitchell had guessed Franklin’s intentions toward Cordelia, 
he did not regard Franklin as the really dangerous con¬ 
tender; Jerry Plimpton was that. As for Franklin, he did 
not even know of Mitchell’s proposal; Cordelia had kept the 
oath she had given herself, and had let slip no whisper of 
the insult he had offered her. 

Rather, they studied each other as instinctive opponents; 
and in their hundred seconds of well-bred small talk, each 
altered his previous estimate. Franklin judged Mitchell to 
be less formidable than he had formerly thought him. He 
had learned from Gladys the amount she had been paying 
Mitchell as hush money; and he could but set a man down 
as a mental weakling or a coward who took so little when 
he had power to take so much. 



But for all that, instinct warned him that here was a man 
who might still prove dangerous. 

Mitchell’s concern, while he studied his rival, was of a 
very different order. Despite Cordelia’s assurance to him, 
there had persisted in him a fear that she might have uncon¬ 
sciously let fall some fragment of Gladys’ secret, from 
which the whole had been reconstructed, and that she had 
thereby become the innocent tool by which Franklin was 
enabled to extract blackmail from Gladys. But Franklin’s 
look, and more especially Gladys’ cordial manner to the law¬ 
yer, dissipated this fear. Gladys would never feel such 
eager friendship for a man who had become a menace, who 
was extorting her money. Mitchell was relieved that he had 
been mistaken. 

But though he acquitted Franklin of guilt in this matter, 
he felt no increase of confidence in the man. 

At parting the two men shook hands pleasantly, perfunc¬ 
torily, like casual Sunday-afternoon acquaintances. But 
when Franklin had gone, Mitchell turned to Gladys with 
his cool, tantalizing smile. Frangois had been led away by 
his governess during the scene with Franklin. 

“Just what might have been the nature of your business 
with the legal gentleman, Gladys, my dear?” he inquired. 

“My business with him is none of your business!” she 

“Your are forgetting, my dear,” he returned pleasantly, 
“that your business is always my business.” 

“This is not, and I sha’n’t tell you!” 

“Oh yes, you will.” 

He regarded her meditatively with his amiable smile. 
Perhaps it was Cordelia’s presence in his mind but a few 
moments before, as the possible unconscious instrument of 
Franklin, that prompted his next question. 


“Was your business concerning Miss Marlowe?” 

“It was not!” But Gladys’ swift flush was a confession* 

“So !—your business was concerning Miss Marlowe* 
H’m. Now just what could be the nature of that business* 
Let’s think.” He was silent for almost a minute. “Gladys, 
your greatest! interest in Miss Marlowe is connected with 
Jerry Plimpton. Jerry Plimpton—that’s it.” 

She did not respond, but her angry flush was again an- 
swer enough. 

He spoke sharply. “Gladys, to oblige me, you are not go¬ 
ing to interfere with Miss Marlowe.” 

“From the interest you take in Cordelia Marlowe, one 
might think you were in love with her yourself!” This out¬ 
burst was no more than the unpremeditated reaction of her 
anger; but instantly she saw the possibilities that lay in her 
words. “Oh, isn’t that just too rich! What a story that 
will make—my ex-butler in love with the proud Cordelia I' 
Won’t Cordelia just love it when that story gets around to 

Mitchell perceived how humiliating such a story would 
be to Cordelia, how utterly disastrous to him—if started 
prematurely. But he gave no sign to Gladys’ gleeful spite 
that it had accidentally hit the bull’s eye. 

“You will start no such story—not if you have any re¬ 
gard for your own happiness,” he warned her in a low 
voice. “I do admire Miss Marlowe, but my only interest 
in her affair with Mr. Plimpton is for her to have a fair 
chance to get him if she decides that he is the man she really 
wants—and I’m going to see that she gets it. Even though 
I may privately think Mr. Plimpton is not the right man. 
A fair chance, without any complications, any tricks, from 
you! That’s why I made you write him that letter! Now 
I believe I have made myself perfectly plain!” 



Never before had he spoken to her with such intensity. 
His present force, his motives, may have had their origin 
in that quixotism he had confessed to Cordelia; he loved 
her deeply, but he desired her happiness so greatly that he 
could fight against himself and on the side of the rival she 

Gladys was for the moment taken aback by his grim force. 
But she was too rebelliously angry, too engrossed in her¬ 
self, to question that intensity’s significance. 

"I’m tired of your always interfering with me!” she 
flared at him. "I’m not going to stand it any longer! I’m 
going ahead and do just as I please!” 

"If you try any game, Gladys,” he continued in the same 
low even voice, eyes straight into hers, "I’ll be sitting in that 
game, and I warn you now that I’ll be holding the highest 
card! I may not play it till I get good and ready—but don’t 
you ever forget that I’ll be holding that card!” 

Though she was furious, her next words came in a whis¬ 
per. "Oh, I know what you mean! You’ve threat¬ 
ened to play it often enough! Frangois. But other people 
now also hold that card and it’s not worth so much. Be¬ 
sides, if any one of you dares play that card, it’s then not 
worth a cent to any of you!” 

"That’s what I’ve been telling you this long while, and 
advising you to go ahead and play that card yourself. That 
'particular card. But I’m not saying whether I’m now re¬ 
ferring to that card, or some other card.” 

"What other card can there be?” 

"I’m not saying. I’m just telling you I hold the highest 
card, and advising you to behave.” 

She glared at him in baffled puzzlement; then burst out: 

"What will you take—how much—to clear out of my 
life forever? Leave me alone?” 



His smile came slowly back. 

“There is a certain price I might ask. You just spoke of 
what a delicious story it would make, if it were known that 
Gladys Norworth’s former butler were in love with Cordelia 
Marlowe. Don’t you think it would make an even more de¬ 
licious story if Miss Norworth were to announce her com¬ 
ing marriage to the said former butler?” 

“You—you wouldn’t dare ask such a thing!” 

“And you, my dear—you wouldn’t dare refuse.” 

Her face was pale, blank. Never before had he gone 
so far as to suggest such a price. 

He laughed softly. 

“Don’t worry, Gladys dear; I’m not going to ask you. 
You should know that I know you so well that the only 
terms on which I’d consider the proposition of being endowed 
with thee and all thy worldly goods, would be with thee left 
out. I rather fancy that the price I will require for clearing 
out will be a very great deal more than that—and a very 
great deal less. In fact I can give you this fairly positive 
assurance; some day I shall go, and when I go I shall not 
require the price of a penny for myself. But when the ac¬ 
count is thus settled, I am very sure that you, if you still 
had your choice, would vastly prefer to have paid by giv¬ 
ing your former butler both your fortune and yourself. I 
believe that’s all I can think of just now, my dear, and if 
you don’t mind excusing me I’ll see if I can’t find Fran¬ 

With a smile of ironic courtesy he strolled away, leaving 
her cursing furiously in choking whispers. He was per¬ 
vaded with grim satisfaction. As he had told Cordelia, he 
had an old and long bill against Gladys and he was missing 
no opportunities for exacting small payments upon account. 



At length mid-September came, and with it the long re¬ 
hearsed pageant at Mrs. Phipps-Morse’s country place near 

Cordelia was destined to attain greater glories and more 
satisfying ambitions, and to attain them soon. But in all her 
splendid career, in all her lofty and up-pointing course, 
which had latterly maintained the prosperous direction only 
by smile-hidden efforts of which the envious world had 
never a guess, the magnificent Cordelia had never yet been 
so magnificent as at the French pageant. Considering her 
career up to this time, this was Cordelia’s day of days. 

Once upon a time, in what might be termed its formless 
youth, there had been words to this pageant. Lots of 
words, cadenced words, stately words: the slow, sonorous 
beauty of words, so inspiration had conceived, that should 
be the proper marriage-mate of a pageant’s measured dig¬ 
nity. For many weeks during early and mid summer an 
elderly youngish man, whose divine fire never seemed to 
die down and give his purely mortal elements a chance to 
cool off and undergo repairs, was at almost any hour of the 
day or night to be seen eagerly drawing a fellow member 
aside into a corner of the lounge at the Players’ Club; and 
such members as could not escape the poet’s capture con¬ 
fided to the poet that his poetry was indeed slow, sonorous, 
stately, divinely fitted to be the word-bride of pageantry—in 



short that his contribution to the marriage was truly made 
in heaven, and they hoped the couple would live happily for¬ 
ever after; whereupon such members, being released, made 
haste to seek the company of other members who were good 
fellows and known to carry something on the hip. 

Praise of much the same quality was uttered by Kyle 
Brandon when, in due time, the elderly youngish man read 
his beautiful words to the director-in-chief of the pageant. 
The great Brandon thumped the poetic shoulder; corking 
stuff, really—only there would have to be eliminations, just 
a few, to get the show down into six reels—no, he meant 
two hours. Of course, of course, agreed the gratified poet. 
But as the eliminations began, and continued, the poet’s 
body seemed to diminish with the body of his verse; lines, 
stanzas, whole pages, seemed to be daily crossed out of his 
corporeal person—and the next day more pages; and this 
physical dwindling of the poet continued until on the day 
of the pageant there was present no more of his physical 
substance than of his poetic, of which latter there was not 
a syllable. 

Thus does it happen to all the meaner arts when they 
come into conflict with the noble and more puissant art of 
the Movie. And thus does a character who had aspired to 
a place of minor importance in this history of Cordelia Mar¬ 
lowe vanish unnamed from its pages; existing here, as it 
were, only parenthetically—as a foot-note, an explanation. 
He was gently done to death, and lies in his unmarked 
grave, because Kyle Brandon believed that the art of the 
pageant is identical with the art of the motion-picture, and 
the art of the motion-picture, according to the Brandon 
canons, is to dress your people up and keep ’em moving. 

Also there was another reason, not connected with art, 
for this gradual but complete fade-out of the poet and his 



poetry. As rehearsals progressed it became ever more clear 
to Kyle Brandon that his greatest chance for making the 
pageant a striking success for himself (he cared nothing 
for the jealousies among his lesser society actresses, and in 
his heart of hearts he believed all pageants a bore) was by 
pushing Cordelia to the front, building up her parts, giving 
her an infinite variety of costumes, postures and processions. 
Yes, a thousand damns for the feelings of all those incom¬ 
petent society would-be amateurs! And being human, and 
observant, and having two extremely good eyes which were 
kept extremely wide open to the future advantages of Kyle 
Brandon, he was influenced by another consideration: he had 
noted the approximation of Cordelia and Jerry in their 
courses—Cordelia was plainly appointed by destiny to be 
the outstanding social figure of her time—and since she 
really was the best of an amateur lot, why shouldn’t he make 
her his star ? And having such a star, and having his social 
wagon deftly hitched to it—well, one could travel very 
pleasantly in that wagon in the years to come. 

Against such considerations as these, what chance was 
there for an elderly youngish poet and his beautiful words? 
*—even had he possessed, and arranged in beautiful sequence, 
all the beautiful words of the world? 

Kyle Brandon was possibly right in his private judg¬ 
ment that all pageants, especially society pageants, are a 
formal bore; except, of course, to the actors, to the actors’ 
relatives, to the benefactees and to such members of the less 
fortunate classes as are eager to buy tickets at bandit 
prices in order to get within the gates of such an estate as 
Mrs. Phipps-Morse’s and to gaze upon those splendid 
people to whom such estates are no more remarkable than 
flats in Harlem. All interest shown by other persons, so 


Brandon held, was just pretense. At any rate, his dictum 
shall be followed in this history—and that splendid pageant 
—“the greatest spectacle Long Island Society has ever 
known,” so it was declared to be by one of the young Bar- 
nums Brandon employed upon his publicity staff—shall here 
undergo an elimination only less complete than that suffered 
by the poet’s word-garbed beauty. It was not what Cor¬ 
delia did in the pageant, or what others did, that is impor¬ 
tant to this history; rather it is the effect she created, the 
stimulus to her social fame, the hastening of events that 
had been leisurely in their march. 

“Give the people what they know”—this was one of the 
first principles of Brandon’s art. So in a series of tab¬ 
leaux and processions, Cordelia was in turn the conventional 
figure of France in Phrygian cap; Joan of Arc; Charlotte 
Corday; a vivandiere; a nurse in the uniform of the French 
Red Cross. 

Cordelia’s triumph was complete; partly because the 
people had been told to admire her, and crowd-like obeyed; 
partly because of the skill with which Brandon had cos¬ 
tumed and posed her; and most of all because of her beauty 
and natural grace. When all was over, women re¬ 
porters encompassed her; then the newspaper photogra¬ 
phers took possession of her, though there were at their dis¬ 
posal “stills” of her in all poses taken at Brandon’s order 
in advance, and though two of his crack camera-men had 
been cranking their machines throughout the spectacle and 
the results of this labor were promised free for all. “The 
illustrated supplement of every paper in the country will 
carry your pictures, and they’ll be knockouts!” Brandon 
had told her—a prediction which later became a fact; for of 
beautiful pictures of beautiful women American papers 



seem unable ever to get enough, and Brandon’s “stills” 
were altogether the most remarkable set of beautiful girl 
pictures offered the papers that year. 

After the press people had released her, Cordelia’s 
friends swarmed about her, congratulating her, praising 
her. The atmosphere was like that in a star’s dress¬ 
ing room, after the final curtain has fallen upon a radiantly 
successful first performance. The three thousand people 
seemed every one her friend, her eager admirer. Jackie 
was there of course, and Ailine Harkness. Even Gladys 
told her how well she’d done, and kissed her; and Cordelia, 
who loved all the world just then, returned the kiss. And 
Miss Harcourt worshipped quite openly, but with proper 
respect, this former star of her school. 

“You were to-day all that years ago I said you were going 
to be!” she proclaimed fervently. “I am proud of you— 
proud to have had you! And soon”—she laid a hand on 
Lily’s shoulder, and smiled expectantly—“soon I shall be 
having your dear little sister.” 

“Dear little sister—my eye!” whispered Lily as Miss 
Harcourt moved away. “Where does she get that ‘dear 
little’ stuff?” Lily gave Cordelia a tight affectionate 
squeeze, and kissed her. “You sure were all to the good, 
old dear!” 

Sometimes Cordelia really loved the bit of swaggering 
precocity that was her younger sister. This was one of the 

Mrs. Marlowe took Cordelia in her arms and wept a bit. 
“You were wonderful, my dear—wonderful!” And having 
her lips so close to her daughter’s ears, and the two of them 
being for the moment apart from the others, she could not 
restrain her worried heart. “I do hope, dear, that—that 
after this you’ll soon be marrying,” she whispered tremu- 


lously. “Some of those old bills are bothering me terribly! 
I appreciated that thousand you sent, though I don’t know 
how you managed to spare it—it’s the first time you ever 
did save anything out of your allowance. But, dear, with 
prices what they are—I hate to say it, dear—but I simply 
don’t see how I can afford to keep up your allowance— 
There, I won’t say it; but you know how things are.” 

It was the old family trouble, the pinching lack of money, 
which would not let itself be forgotten even on a state oc¬ 
casion. But on this day the world was Cordelia’s; and 
such an item as mere money could not depress her. She 
hugged her mother reassuringly. 

“Don’t you worry, mother. Everything is going to be 
all right! Just you see!” 

Comforted, Mrs. Marlowe gave way to others. Among 
these others came Mr. Franklin, who expressed his admi¬ 
ration with so fine a restraint upon his personal grief, that 
again Cordelia thought inevitably of how like a thorough 
gentleman he had proposed and how gallantly he had taken 
his refusal. Her heart warmed toward him. 

And among the others came Mitchell. He was there as 
Brandon’s friend. Brandon, who was tirelessly seeing pos¬ 
sibilities everywhere and tirelessly seizing them, thought 
he had perceived the germ of a picture story in Mitchell and 
was cultivating Mitchell that the germ might be the better 
incubated. Though Cordelia had vowed to cut Mitchell 
dead when she next saw him, she was so in love with all 
the world that she promptly took the hand he smilingly 
offered and returned his smiles. Not until after he had 
said his say and was gone did she realize that after having 
greeted him thus cordially in public she could never as¬ 
sume the proposed attitude of icy unawareness of his exist¬ 
ence when they might meet in the future. Such an attitude 




would make her seem silly. She would have to behave 
toward him, at the least, as toward an acquaintance. 

All this while, Jerry Plimpton had been standing on the 
outskirts of Cordelia’s court, observing, smiling at her when¬ 
ever he could get her eye. It had been arranged that he 
was to drive her back to Jackie Thorndike’s. 

At the most effective moment Kyle Brandon came for¬ 
ward in true impresario manner and congratulated his star. 
This was one of those moments that Kyle Brandon lived for. 
He said much, and said it loudly that all might hear; and he 
said it extremely well, for his little speech had been carefully 
written out and “flimsy” of it was at this moment in pos¬ 
session of all the reporters. 

“And there’s one thing I wish to remind you of, Miss 
Marlowe, one promise I wish to hold you to,” he concluded 
in a manner of serious banter which gave the effect of his 
being at bottom very serious indeed—“and that promise is, 
if you ever decide to act for the screen, you are to come 
under my management.” 

“I promise,” laughed Cordelia. 

“My greatest wish is that we may soon be working to¬ 
gether!” However great his wish, it was not backed by 
his belief, for he knew how the wind was blowing and he 
was very certain it would never blow her into the Brandon 
Studios. “What a picture we could make, you and I! 
What a star I could make of you, Miss Marlowe—what a 

The people clustered about applauded this speech and 
then applauded Cordelia and grew murmurous with com¬ 
ment. No doubt of it at all; if Cordelia Marlowe should 
care to turn from a more glorious career to the movies, she 
would be a star of stars. 

Yes, this was Cordelia’s day of days! 


At the last came Jerry, eyes bright with proud admiration. 
“Pll tell you how really wonderful you were a little later— 
when we’re away from this crowd. Will you soon be ready 
to start back?”’ 

“Give me half an hour, Jerry.” 

And within the half hour, in Jerry’s roadster, they were 
humming toward Jackie Thorndike’s, and Jerry was telling 
Cordelia just how wonderful she was. That afternoon had 
had its very positive effect upon him. He had long been 
very fond of Cordelia, though from necessity he had kept 
himself from being passionately in love. Taking unto him¬ 
self a wife was a business requiring the functioning of a 
careful brain rather than a rapturous and therefore perhaps 
incautious emotion. He could hardly have regarded the 
matter otherwise, having been brought up on the Plimpton 
tradition, and having had it always held up to him that his 
wife must be the social equivalent of that very remarkable 
woman, his mother. These many weeks his duly careful 
brain had been finding more and more to approve of in 
Cordelia. Even if the pageant had been unimportant in all 
other matters, it would still have been of vital importance in 
Cordelia’s history, in that it was the pageant which provided 
the occasion for her beauty and her poise to stand out in 
contrast above the qualities of other women, the occasion for 
her to win the unqualified approval of Jerry’s public and of 
Jerry’s judgment. It was the pageant which finally deter¬ 
mined Jerry’s mind to propose. 

And Jerry, having decided to propose, proposed. And 
Cordelia, having decided to accept, accepted. 

Their minds, having already settled this essential in ad¬ 
vance, had time for several practical details before the drive 
was over. The announcement of the engagement was of 
course to be left to Cordelia and Mrs. Marlowe, and no one 



was to be told until after Mrs. Marlowe had received the 
news. They would be married that fall. Neither cared for 
a wedding journey. He would have the Plimpton town 
house, which had not been socially open since his mother’s 
death, redecorated and they would, be installed in it before 
the social season was well under way and the big house 
would return to the character it had held in his mother’s 

At Jackie’s that night, by ascribing all her high spirits 
to the pageant, Cordelia managed to conceal the exultant 
triumph that swirled and throbbed within her. She sent 
a wire asking her mother to meet her the following morning 
at the Park Avenue apartment; and then after she went to 
her room for the night she decided, upon warm impulse, to 
make just one exception to the agreement that the announce¬ 
ment should come solely from her mother. There was one 
person who had been so practically helpful, so considerate, 
so thoroughly the gentleman, that it would be discourteous 
and unkind to allow him to get the first news solely from 
the newspapers. 

She decided to send a letter. This is what she wrote 
Mr. Franklin, though the letter was not mailed until the fol¬ 
lowing afternoon: 

Dear Mr. Franklin: 

You have been so extremely kind to me that I feel 
I owe it to you to let you have the news of something 
which has just happened, directly from me. I am en¬ 
gaged to be married to Mr. Jerry Plimpton. 

Perhaps it will not be out of place to repeat here 
that I shall always feel the honor of the question which 
you asked me, and I shall always regret any pain which 
my answer may have inflicted. 


Of course I hardly need tell you that with my en¬ 
gagement our business relationship will necessarily come 
to an end. I am glad indeed to have been so useful 
to you, as you have kindly told me I have been; and I 
am happy in thinking I really earned the sums you paid 
me, as you kept assuring me I did. As you know, I 
needed this money very badly. It will be pleasant to 
remember, in connection with our relationship, that each 
of us was of help to the other. 

I hope that our friendship may be continued into 
my married life. Wishing you all happiness, I am 

Sincerely your friend. 

Cordelia read the letter through carefully. Her mind 
went to Mr. Franklin, and visioned him as he received the 
letter. She felt profoundly moved. She could see him 
flinch and pale at the blow. And then with that brave, quiet 
smile of his, he would hide his heart-break and try to save 
her the pain of any sight of his suffering. 

Ah, there was a true gentleman! 



The following morning the smart roadster which had 
formerly been a faded and freckled maroon, but now had 
an almost bridal freshness in its new complexion of hunter's 
green, drew up again beside the Park Avenue apartment 
building and Cordelia, who had excitedly whizzed all the 
way here from Jackie’s, excitedly whizzed upward to unfold 
her news. The telegram had been received and her mother 
and Lily were waiting her. When Cordelia told of her en¬ 
gagement, feminine excitement could blaze no higher. 
There were tears, embraces, ejaculations, sobs of a delight 
which mere words were too limited to express. 

‘T knew you’d make a match of this kind!” Mrs. Mar¬ 
lowe exclaimed proudly, when she had subsided to a level 
where being articulate was possible. “And to think of it— 
Jerry Plimpton! But he’s not better than you deserve, my 
dear, and you’ll make him a wife that will be an honor to 
his family!” 

Lily was relieved to get down from emotional heights; 
after a spasm of emotion she always felt ashamed, as though 
she had been caught indecently dressed; and to restore the 
self-respect of worldly fifteen, she had to drawl: 

“Well, Cordie old thing, I’ve sure got to hand it to you 
for being one grand little money-hound. Just think of it— 
you’ve copped off a husband who’s almost as rich as a boot¬ 

Mrs. Marlowe made no attempt to reprove Lily for this 




impiety. She had long since despaired of curbing her 
younger daughter’s tendency to verbal gaminism. That 
cure she was going to leave to Miss Harcourt. 

Mrs. Marlowe’s mind now turned to a joyously practical 
aspect of the engagement. 

“After this engagement is announced, I believe all these 
shop people will no longer bother me with their bills,” she 
said with severe dignity, as if rebuking the shop-keepers 
in their proper persons for their discourtesy in troubling 
her with their trifles. “In fact, I’m sure they’ll be only too 
happy to extend us all the further credit we may wish. In 
view of the circumstances, we shall need a lot of new things 
—I mean Lily and I. You, Cordelia, are of course a sep¬ 
arate consideration. Lily, in a few days you and I shall 
start out among the shops to see what we can do—as soon 
as the announcement has had time to have its effect.” 

Cordelia informed her mother of Jerry’s wish that the 
announcement should issue from Mrs. Marlowe, and issue 
at once. This was immensely gratifying to Mrs. Marlowe; 
there was to be no wait before the tradespeople ate their 
humble pie!—and all her friends, all the world, would with¬ 
in another day know this new honor of the Mariowes. So 
with Lily acting as secretary—despite her general flightiness, 
Lily wrote a really capable hand— “Mrs. Gregory Mar¬ 
lowe begs to announce,” etc., was written off many times, 
envelopes were written off many times, envelopes were ad¬ 
dressed to all the city newspapers and all the society journals, 
and these letters were promptly dropped in the mail chute 
in the corridor. The formal engraved announcements would 
go out in due time. 

Jerry came in for tea that afternoon, and kissed and was 
kissed by his relatives-to-be. He bore himself ideally, with 
graciousness, affection, good-humor. To Mrs. Marlowe he 



was everything she could dream of in her dizziest dreams 
as desirable in a son-in-law; of highest birth, highest man¬ 
ners, highest money. As for Jerry, he was pleased with 
his family-to-be: proud of Cordelia, of course; and in a 
lesser degree proud of Mrs. Marlowe, for though he ad¬ 
mitted she was not a brilliant woman she was none the less 
of one of the best families; but of Lily he was not so proud, 
nor so fond. He foresaw that Lily might prove to be the 
one spot of irritation in this new life of his which was so 
happily beginning. 

Particularly was he not so proud nor fond of Lily when, 
after asking her what he should give her for an engage¬ 
ment present, she glibly answered, “Six thousand of your 
own special brand of cigarettes, six dozen silk pyjamas, 
and six cases of your best hooch, 1 ” and after her ask¬ 
ing him if it were true, what people said, that he was 
really and truly and honest-to-Godly almost as rich as a 
bootlegger. Jerry smiled at her request and inquiry, but 
his smile was from the face outward. For all his having 
mixed for some thirty years on familiar terms with all sorts 
of the best people, Jerry was dismayed, and felt an exas¬ 
perated inner shame, at the shameless out-spokenness of this 
new generation of girls in their mid teens. He’d have to 
find means, later on, for curbing this cheeky Lily. She, 
too, was going to be a beauty like her sister when she grew 
up; he might be proud of her then; but she would certainly 
take a lot of curbing! In the meantime he fervently 
thanked God she was going to enter Harcourt Hall the fol¬ 
lowing week; his little sister-in-law-to-be could not be in a 
better reformatory, for Miss Harcourt had the name of tam¬ 
ing the wildest material into well-bred ladies. 

Over their tea, when they considered mundane details, 
Cordelia asked Jerry, as a very great favor to her, to con- 


sent to a modest wedding. This request was born of an 
earlier conference with her mother, in which Mrs. Marlowe 
—who would have loved nothing so much as a big show 
wedding—mentioned the predicament which arose from the 
fact of the bride’s family being supposed to pay the costs of 
a wedding and from the further fact that they had nothing 
at all with which to pay. Jerry delicately sensed something 
of the motive behind this request, and he heartily agreed 
that nothing would suit him so little as the usual big theat¬ 
rical spectacle staged around the altar. So it was agreed 
that the wedding should be very modest. Already Cordelia 
had begun to consider privately if it might not be even 
simpler, and therefore much easier for her mother, if the 
two of them just slipped away and were married. 

The following morning Cordelia found herself on the first 
page of every New York newspaper; and it is indeed a 
wondrous tribute to the extraordinary importance of an en¬ 
gagement, or marriage, when it can compete on equal terms 
with the ordinary divorce for first-page eminence. Her 
pictures were in the papers, too; and a little later she was to 
receive these pictures by the thousands from all parts of 
the country, for the moment he learned the news, Kyle 
Brandon, instead of sending her florist’s flowers, as he ex¬ 
plained, subscribed to a press clipping bureau in her name. 
If she had not known before how great was her success, 
all this newspaper space would have made it plain enough. 
And Kyle Brandon made it even plainer. When telephoning 
her of the newspaper flowers he was sending her—he had 
of course begun by congratulating her most warmly—he 
lapsed for a few phrases into the levity of professional jar¬ 

“If I had as big a picture story as you two have a 
marriage story, I’d have the biggest picture the world ever 



saw filmed!” he declared over the wire. “You’ve got a 
hit—the biggest knock-out of ten years!” 

And so, indeed, it was. 

From the morning she drove back to the apartment in 
her sheeny green roadster, Cordelia had determined that 
her career as a popular guest who made ends meet by being 
a guest was then and there forever at an end. She needed 
a convenient place of her own, from which she could direct 
her coming activities; the apartment was the only place she 
had; and so she decided to remain in town, although the 
time was then only mid-September and the days still had 
their summer heat. For the next two months—in fact up 
to the very day she drove away to be married—the apart¬ 
ment continued to be her headquarters; which was the 
longest single period she had spent in her home since she 
had started on her career of itinerant guest at eighteen. 

Since the announcement of the engagement the telephone 
was always ringing, one of the liveried attendants of the 
building was always carrying up bundles of letters. Cor¬ 
delia had always known she had a long list of friends and 
had been popular with them—otherwise she could not have 
lived these last four years; but she had never guessed 
she had so many friends as now hastened to tell her of 
their delight. The whole Social Register seemed to be taking 
its pen in hand or taking its telephone receiver off the hook. 
Among this multitude of congratulators were of course 
the more intimate friends such as Jackie Thorndike and 
Ailine Harkness. Mitchell wrote her a brief note, which 
she considered rather nice. And Mr. Franklin answered 
her letter to him with just the tone of gallant gentlemanliness 
she expected; and later when he called, he wore just the look 
of brave, smile-hidden grief that she knew would be on 



his face. Even Gladys wrote effusively; and even called 
on Cordelia and kissed her, for Cordelia was about to be¬ 
come a social figure of such unassailable importance that 
one would be a fool not to be friends with her. Incidentally 
it seemed to Cordelia she had not in all her previous life 
been kissed by Gladys so frequently and fervently as during 
the weeks since she had discovered Gladys’ secret. 

But this kiss pressed against Cordelia’s cheek was not 
what was on Gladys’ lips on that morning when she first 
read the announcement of the engagement; nor was the fine, 
brave look of nobly hidden heart-break which Cordelia’s im¬ 
agination saw upon Franklin’s face, the exact look which 
overspread his face the morning he received Cordelia’s let¬ 
ter. As he read of her engagement—her tribute to him 
as a rejected suitor—her notice of the termination of their 
business relationship which had been so agreeable and profit¬ 
able to both of them, and of her gratification at having truly 
earned the sums he had paid her as he had so frequently 
assured her—the feelings aroused in him were quite other 
than the noble resignation Cordelia had imagined. 

As he studied the letter and the changes it meant to him, 
some forty miles away, Gladys, in bed, was yawning over the 
head-lines of her newspaper. The next moment she was 
gasping, then swearing violently; swearing was one of the 
very private courses, with complete instruction, which Miss 
Harcourt did not know her excellent school provided; and 
the following moment Gladys was flying across the room 
in her nightgown toward her telephone. She got Mr. 
Franklin at once. 

“Have you seen the news?” she cried. “Cordelia Mar¬ 
lowe and Jerry Plimpton engaged!” 

“I’ve seen it—yes.” 



“But you said you were going to stop any engagement !” 

“Being engaged is not the same as being married,” he 
reminded her. “They are not married yet.” 

“But they will be! My paper says they’re to be married 

“They’re not married yet,” he repeated. “A lot may hap¬ 
pen before then.” 

“But what can we do to stop them—as you said we’d do ?” 

“Perhaps we’d better go over that in a little talk. Will 
you be in the city to-day?” 

She would be. They had their little talk. And the result 
of it, so far as Gladys could see, was that Mr. Franklin’s 
only plan was his statement that a lot might happen before 
the marriage. As a matter of fact, this really was Mr. 
Franklin’s chief hope. 

It was after this that Gladys—somewhat discouraged by 
Mr. Franklin in her idea of upsetting Cordelia—called upon 
Cordelia and stamped her with the kiss of loyal affection. 
And it was after this that Mr. Franklin called upon her, 
wearing his look of secret sorrow nobly borne. 

These days of late September and October were days of 
intoxicating glory for Cordelia, what with the universal 
congratulations, with her private sense of her achievement, 
with her sense of the vast interest the public was taking 
in her, and with the nearness of the greater triumphs which 
should be hers after she was Mrs. Jerry Plimpton. Her 
natural graciousness of manner became more gracious; her 
high spirits became more sparkling, more communicative of 
glad thrills to others; her wings grew more exultantly 
strong for soaring. Invitations poured in upon her; they 
were gratifying, but they no longer represented a livelihood; 
and besides she was too excitedly busy with Jerry to spare 
time for accepting invitations. 



She and Jerry were now devoting themselves to one prac¬ 
tical matter they had decided upon on the afternoon of their 
engagement. This was going over their various homes and 
starting alterations which would fit them to Cordelia’s taste 
or fit them for immediate occupancy whenever needed. Ac¬ 
companied by Mrs. Marlowe they spent a few days at sea 
on Jerry’s yacht, the Nordic, later to be Cordelia’s floating 
home. Not a change was needed here. With an architect 
and a decorator added to the entourage—jotting down mem¬ 
oranda of the instructions given to them—the three visited 
the great cottage at Newport, disestablished for a decade; 
and after that they spent a week at Jerry’s Adirondack camp 
whose rugged out-of-doorness was represented by a main 
cottage and fourteen guest cottages, all steam-heated and 
with tiled baths. But most of their redecorative energies 
were given to the Fifth Avenue house, which was to be the 
residence first used. Here Jerry smilingly allowed Cordelia 
complete sway, as he had at the other establishments. It 
pleased him to have the future Mrs. Plimpton be the mis¬ 
tress, to the last detail, of her several future homes. 

No material aspect of her coming marriage gave such day- 
after-day substantial gratification to Cordelia as these homes 
and the business of refitting them. These homes signified 
to her a magnificent reversal of her formal role: no longer 
was she to be merely a desirable guest—she was to become 
a most desired hostess! And as a hostess, she would enter¬ 
tain as she had never been entertained! 

Gossip of course took note of these activities, and guessed 
the social programme at which they pointed. Gossipy's tongue 
wagged excitedly with questions, conjectures, weak-voiced 
doubts, loud-voiced affirmations: in country homes, in moun¬ 
tain lodges, in the few drawing-rooms that were beginning 
to open, and more discreetly in the society columns of the 

26 o 


newspapers. Would Cordelia ever make the great social 
figure that Jerry’s mother had been? Some declared yes. 
Some feared no. But all agreed that she would prove a 
marvellous hostess, and all admitted that she was the most 
brilliant young star in the social firmament. 

The general attitude toward Cordelia was reflected, per¬ 
haps in an exaggerated degree, by one of the great world’s 
lesser but respected figures on the day Cordelia drove Lily 
out to Harcourt Hall to begin the treatment which was to 
transmute Lily’s dross into the pure gold of a lady. Miss 
Harcourt almost made genuflections in her delight at Cor¬ 
delia’s visit; she no longer ventured to first-name or my- 
dear her former pupil. “Miss Marlowe, I always foretold 
that you, of all my girls, were destined to shine as the 
brightest,” she said in awed respect. “And, Miss Marlowe, 
I was right! I hope you will honor us—we shall count it 
an honor—by visiting your sister as often as you can. And 
you may count on this, Miss Marlowe: we shall do our best 
for Miss Lily—our very best.” 

When Cordelia drove away from the school which had 
so largely shaped her life, she could not have felt that this 
school had paid her greater obeisance even had Miss Har¬ 
court creaked down on her pudgy knee-caps and reverently 
kissed her felt. 

In these happy pre-marital days the delicate considerate¬ 
ness of Jerry did not pause with turning over his houses to 
Cordelia. There were his mother’s jewels. He took her to 
the vault where they were stored and showed them to her: 
the famous jewels that had not been upon a woman’s person 
for now almost a dozen years. Those jewels were now all 
hers, he told her. Of course she would not want to wear 
them until after the marriage. But they were hers. 

She drew a deep quivering breath as she held those turn- 



bling masses of gleaming color, of leaping light, in her two 
hands. Hers—all hers! 

Nor did the delicate considerateness of Jerry pause even 
here. He knew the exact condition of the Marlowe fortune, 
or thought he did. He knew Cordelia would not have one 
penny of her own after her marriage. That was quite all 
right with him; he was under no necessity of having his 
wife bring money into the family. But it was an old Plimp¬ 
ton tradition that their wives have separate and independent 
incomes, and when their wives did not bring the incomes, the 
incomes were settled upon them; it had perhaps now grown 
to be a matter of inherited pride with the male Plimptons 
that their wives should never need to ask for money. At 
any rate, with delicate frankness and excusing his action by 
the Plimpton custom, Jerry brought up the subject of a 
wifely income and pressed his point; with the result that 
there were visits to the offices of his attorneys, and finally 
papers were drawn up and executed, settling one hundred 
thousand a year upon Cordelia, the transfer to go into effect 
on the day she became his wife. Jerry made it clear to her 
that all running expenses, all general bills, were to be paid for 
out of his own funds. This hundred thousand a year was 
for her own personal expenses—her modistes’ bills and the 
like—her pin money—to be spent exactly as she pleased, 
with no accounting. 

As the necessity for dining out in order to get a dinner, 
of forever going visiting in order to keep a home, had been 
banished—so now had that other terrible Marlowe spectre, 
the eternal lack of money. She now had money! Money 
all her own! And all the money any woman might by any 
possibility ever possibly need! 

All these days Cordelia lived in sparkling thrills succeeded 
by yet more sparkling thrills: her body, her nerves, her 



spirit, were all coruscations of delight. At last she had 
everything—everything she had ever dreamed of: more of 
it and all of it better! What difficulties she had secretly 
surmounted!—how skilfully she had secretly managed!—* 
what a dazzling, dazzling road now stretched wide and open 
and easy and far before her! 

Yes—of a truth had she proved her sober right to that 
old half-jesting title:—more than ever was she Cordelia the 
Magnificent! * 



All these exhilarating days Cordelia’s sky had been ever 
of deepest blue. Not a single cloud had marred that unfail¬ 
ing blue, and if a cloud existed anywhere in all the heavens 
it had remained below Cordelia’s horizon. 

Then a cloud did lift itself above the sky-line of her life. 
It appeared first in the form of Mitchell. 

These last several weeks Cordelia had not given Mitchell 
a serious thought. She had been too busy to dwell upon 
him; and she had not seen him since her triumph at the 
pageant. To be sure, her mind had flitted to him a few 
times, and had vagrantly wondered what he was doing; but 
she asked no one about him, and had no slightest idea what 
was this occupation he had turned to since quitting his butler- 
ing career. As for Mitchell, aside from his brief note of 
congratulation, he had made no slightest attempt to intrude 
upon Cordelia’s new life. 

When they did meet it was not in consequence of an at¬ 
tempt on his part at intrusion. It was pure chance, though 
they were certain to have been thrown together sooner or 

The afternoon of their meeting was one of the few after¬ 
noons that Jerry had not been able to spend with her. She 
was coming out of a Fifth Avenue shop, alone, and was 
crossing toward her limousine (Jerry’s limousine, at her dis¬ 
posal during these weeks) when she saw Mitchell almost 
upon her. She stopped, and held out her hand with a smile. 




“Why, Mr. Mitchell!” she exclaimed. 

She had once planned, when she should meet, that she 
would cut him dead. It now happened just the other way. 
His face was white, tight, and blank with unrecognition; 
and he ignored her hand and strode on. 

Stupefied, she gazed after him. She could not believe 
this thing! 

But instantly he had turned sharply about and was grip¬ 
ping her arm. 

“After all I must say it!” he declared in a fierce whisper. 
“I must see you a few minutes—where we’ll be alone!” 

Her compliance was determined as much by her paralyz¬ 
ing stupefaction as by the fierce dominance of his manner. 

“We—we can take a drive in my car,” she suggested. 

“And perhaps have your chauffeur overhear, and perhaps 
understand! I’d rather risk a taxi-driver.” 

He hailed a taxicab, helped her in, called “Up the Ave¬ 
nue” to the driver, and stepped in beside her. The eyes in 
which heretofore she had seen only smiles, good-humored, 
cynical or teasing, now blazed on her with withering ac¬ 
cusation and disdain. 

Her dazed spirit had begun to recover its vigorous con¬ 

“What’s all this about?” she demanded.' 

“About several things, all of which are one thing,” he 
said fiercely, slowly, his eyes stabbing her with their disdain. 
“In the first place, I have insulted myself most horribly. I 
want to regain my self-respect, if that is possible, by apolo¬ 
gizing to myself, and apologizing to myself in your pres¬ 

“Go on!” 

“I insulted my self-respect when I asked you to marry 


“What!” she flamed at him. 

“I then said to myself that I loved you. I did love you 
at that time. Perhaps my heart still loves you. But my 
sense of decency doesn’t love you. My self-respect, which 
once let me ask you to marry you, now demands that I tell 
you that I despise you more than any woman I know!” 

“You dare say that to me!” she cried furiously. 

“I do.” He drove at her with his slow, fierce relentless¬ 
ness. “And I’ll tell you why I despise you. I despise you 
because you are a liar! And a blackmailer! And a girl of 
good chances who has turned into just an ordinary adven¬ 
turess !” 

Her amazed fury was for a moment almost incoherent. 

“You say—you say—” And then: “You can’t make 
charges like those, and then think I’m going to rest quiet 
under them! You’ve got to come out in the open, if you’re 
not a coward, and say just what you mean!” 

“To say just what I mean—that’s exactly why I’ve got 
you here! But first of all, I’m going to tell you how I hap¬ 
pened to find out about you. You remember about my hav¬ 
ing a talk with your Mr. Franklin, and his making me a prop¬ 
osition that sounded very suspicious. You remember tell¬ 
ing me that Gladys had told you she was paying more 
heavily than ever for blackmail; you accused me of getting 
it; at the time I didn’t take this seriously, for I thought 
Gladys was just lying. You will remember that I asked 
you if by any chance you had unconsciously dropped a hint 
of Gladys' secret to your Mr. Franklin; it occurred to me 
that if you had dropped a hint to your Mr. Franklin, then, 
unknown to you, he might be the person who was levying 
the blackmail Gladys had spoken about. You will remem¬ 
ber that, to my question, you returned the reply that you 
had made no mention of Gladys’ affair to your Mr. Frank- 



lin. I believe you remember all these things?—that you 
will admit that these are statements of facts?” 

If fury could have burned, Mitchell would have been 
a cinder. 

“I admit these things—yes! But you have not said a 
thing thus far—not a thing!—that proves your cowardly 

“I’ll prove it in two minutes—don’t you worry! For a 
time I paid no attention to these facts I have just outlined. 
Then, somehow, by a natural affinity, they all came to¬ 
gether in my mind. I began to think them over. Together, 
they looked very suspicious. I decided to learn the truth. 
You were concerned; I had to know the truth about you. 
The one person easiest for me to get the truth, or part of 
the truth, out of was Gladys. I remembered the trick you 
had used to get her secret out of her: working her into 
such a temper as made her forget all discretion, all self- 
control. The other day I used your trick; in her wild rage 
she let the facts come tumbling out of her. And those 
facts, Miss Marlowe, prove everything I called you!”' 

“You’ve not proved anything yet!” she cried. 

“All right. If you will be obstinate in your pretense of 
innocence, we’ll just go over those names I called you one 
by one. First, as to the liar. I asked you if you had told 
your Mr. Franklin anything of Glady’s secret. You told 
me you had not said a word. You lied then—lied flatly. 
I have the facts, and you might as well admit you lied.” 

“That was no lie!” she stormed. “No one but you would 
dare call it such. A client’s relations with her attorney are 
confidential. Not even a court would demand to know 
what had passed between a woman and her attorney in con¬ 

“Oh, so you would try to take refuge in that old evasion!” 


he sneered. “The sanctity of the legal confessional! Oh, 
my God—you poor, cheap thing! But we’ll come back to 
the liar; we’ll now pass on to the blackmailer. I know that 
you did tell your Mr. Franklin about Gladys; he could have 
learned the facts from no other person but you, and he cer¬ 
tainly knew the facts. Your Mr. Franklin has been black¬ 
mailing Gladys; I forced everything out of her. She 
showed me one canceled check for fifteen thousand dollars; 
she pays him sixty thousand a year. The thing is covered 
by a contract for legal services, but it is plainly blackmail, 
and Gladys admits it is blackmail. Your clever Mr. Frank¬ 
lin is blackmailing, with you as his clever assistant!” 

She had begun to have a dim, appalling sense that some¬ 
where truth might be hidden in what he was saying. 

“It’s—it’s not so!”' she declared, but without her former 

“Of course you’d try to play your bluff till the end! But 
it’s no use, I tell you! Here’s another point. I didn’t know 
until the other day that you really do not have much money 
—that in fact, despite the show you put up, you personally 
haven’t very much more money than I got from my aunt, 
and I’m just an ordinary working-man. But these last 
few months you’ve been spending a lot for a person who 
has so little: all those new clothes, the car done over. 
Thousands of dollars! Where did that money come from?” 

“That’s my business!” 

“I’ll tell you where it came from. From your Mr. Frank¬ 
lin. Part of the blackmail he has collected with your help. 
Answer me this question if you dare, and I dare you to 
answer it honestly: Isn’t it a fact that you’ve been having 
money from Mr. Franklin?” 

“Yes. But it has been for honest service, honestly per¬ 



He laughed harshly. 

“If I thought you believed that yourself, I’d add an¬ 
other word to those I’ve called you. I’d say that you are 
a fool! You are many things, but you certainly are no 
fool! You are far too wise to help in a game like this, and 
still be ignorant and innocent of what was really going on. 
Mr. Franklin could not be paying you any such sums as he 
was paying you, unless it was blackmail money—you can’t ex¬ 
pect me or any one else to believe otherwise, and you your¬ 
self know that what I’ve said is the truth. No, the money 
you had from your Mr. Franklin was just ordinary black¬ 
mail! Your whole game is now as clear as day! Your 
whole purpose in coming out to Rolling Meadows was to 
carry out your and Mr. Franklin’s plan of blackmailing 

His injustice was going too far. 

“It was not!” she cried hotly. “I came to Rolling 
Meadows to protect Gladys!” 

“Don’t lie to me!” he commanded in savage contempt. 
“I’ve caught you in one lie, and your lies don’t fool me a 
moment! And please don’t insult my intelligence by telling 
such a feeble lie as that you came to protect Gladys. Pro¬ 
tect Gladys from me—when every penny I was taking from 
Gladys was being saved to meet Gladys’ own obligations in 
case she ever flunked them! You protect Gladys!—when 
right after you learned her story you told your Mr. Franklin, 
and a few days later your blackmail machine was going full 
speed! God, what a weak-wit of a liar you are!” 

She tried to retort to this, but he snapped her off. 

“Don’t try more lies! Besides, you’re not here to talk; 
you’re here to listen! This game against Gladys, I’ll bet 
it was not your only game of the sort! I’ll bet you and 
your Mr. Franklin have been playing it elsewhere right 


along. I’ve called you a liar and a blackmailer, and I’ve 
proved both. Now I’m going to prove you an adventuress. 
You ve been using your social position to gain information 
which you could use to levy blackmail. And you’ve been 
using your blackmail money to make a splurge, to fascinate 
men. Especially to trap Jerry Plimpton! 

“Shut up!” he cried fiercely, when at this last she tried 
to gasp out an interruption; and he went on with his torrent 
of molten words, his eyes blazing at her. “I told you you 
were here to listen! There, I’ve proved all three counts: 
liar, blackmailer, adventuress! And to think that I was so 
blind that I let you fool me, and let you use me! My friends 
have called me an idealist—a Don Quixote—a good-natured 
idiot who would be trapped by his own good-nature! They 
were right. And I’m even worse than all that. To think 
^ I ^ or you! And even helped you in your 
schemes! I loved you, but thought I wasn’t really good 
enough for you. I wanted you to have the very best 
chance, even with the man I saw as my chief rival. And 
that though I had my doubts about Jerry Plimpton being 
really fine enough for you. In my crazy idealism I made 
Gladys step aside for you, I made her write that letter to 
Jerry Plimpton. My God—to think that I fell for you!— 
helped you! 

That s all! Except to say that, even with you what you 
are I’m not going to tell on you. And except to say that 
Jeriy Plimpton s a hundred times too good for you. And 
except to say that I’m ten thousand times too good for you. 
You made a fool of me, yes—but now you know that I’m 
one person who’ll always be on to you! And I’ve apolo¬ 
gized to my self-respect! Now I’m through with you! 
Drive on! Good-bye!” 

With that he stopped the cab, stepped out, handed the 



driver five dollars, and without glancing back at her walked 
rapidly away through the straggling crowd of upper Fifth 

She stared after his erect figure with angry, horror- 
filled eyes, forgetful of all else except him and what he had 
said, until the driver brought her to with, “Where to, 
ma’am?” She gave the order to return to the waiting 
limousine; and in a swirling chaos she drove to her 
car, and in a swirling chaos she drove home and locked her¬ 
self in her room. So dazed, so appalled, so wrought up was 
she, that she did not definitely know what she thought or 
felt; she could not possibly have separated and analyzed her 
emotional content. But two sensations, each of them part 
thought and part emotion, dominated all her other wild fer¬ 
ment. One was outraged fury at the very real injustice 
which had been part of the substance of everything 
Mitchell had said. The other was a sense of the dazing 
possibility that the other part of what he had said might be 
true, and mixed with this sense was a shivering fear. 

It was this fear, and not her indignation, which swelled j 
within her as the minutes and hours passed, with her sitting 
there staring at nothing. Could those things possibly be 
true? Could she have been fooled?—been made the instru¬ 
ment of Mr. Franklin’s devices? Was this money which 
had been supporting the family, supporting her, all these , 
months in reality the fruits of blackmail? 

She remembered that Gladys had said she was paying 
more blackmail than ever; something now whispered insist- j 
ently in Cordelia that Gladys had then spoken the truth, j 
She remembered that Mitchell had said he had not increased 1 
his exaction; the same whisper insisted that Mitchell had 
also then spoken the truth. She remembered that Mr. j 
Franklin had said he could not stop the blackmail, to stop it j 


would require time; and the same whisper began to suggest 
doubt of these statements, and doubt of every aspect of Mr. 
Franklin and her relations with him. 

Beside, staring at her, was the fact that she had told him 
Gladys’ secret. And Gladys had told her she was paying 
more than ever; and Mitchell had said that Gladys had told 
him that all this extra money was being paid to Mr. 
Franklin; both of which statements, it now seemed to Cor¬ 
delia, might very likely be true. And, staring at her, was 
the fact that she and her mother had received large sums 
from Mr. Franklin, who certainly had not protected Gladys. 

She grew chill with the deductions which the logic of 
these considerations forced upon her. Yes—it might all be 

And if true, why, she, Cordelia— But she shrank from 
the direction in which that thought led. 

It came to her that she might end this suspense, learn just 
what was the truth, by going to Mr. Franklin and demand¬ 
ing the facts. But on considering this as a practical action, 
she found she lacked the courage for it; she did not want to 
see Mr. Franklin again, or speak to him. 

She admitted to herself she did not want to know the truth. 
It would be better not to know. She—she was afraid. 
And so long as she did not know the truth, she was inno¬ 

One resolve she did make. It first flashed into her as 
an inspiration; it came as a great light that clears away 
all the black dreads of the night; it brought infinite relief. 
She would pay back all they had had from Mr. Franklin! 
Even were she unconsciously guilty this was the extent of 
her guilt, that she had foolishly, but innocently, taken his 
money. Well, she would pay him back—every penny! 
That would make everything right! 



She wished she could make this repayment instantly, and 
so be all clean, so close the matter forever. But they had 
spent the money from Mr. Franklin, they had never had less 
ready money than at present; in fact, they were now living 
almost entirely upon the credit which was being eagerly ex¬ 
tended everywhere in view of the nearing marriage. That 
was most unfortunate, her not having the ready money. 

But—and here a swift thought thrilled her with further 
relief—she soon would have the ready money! As soon as 
she was married! Her own money—'the fortune Jerry had 
settled upon her! Money for which she did not have to 
account to a living soul! Once married, Mr. Franklin 
would promptly have every dollar back; the whole affair 
would then be wiped clean from her life. 

The question came, Should she tell Jerry? If he knew, 
Jerry would probably be prompted to advance the money im¬ 
mediately, or pay off the obligation at once, and she would 
be free of the matter without a day’s delay. But as she 
considered the idea of telling Jerry, objections developed; 
small, but not exactly pleasant. The affair was rather com¬ 
plicated, and it would be rather difficult to explain so that he 
would understand. And then—well, after she explained, 
would Jerry, could Jerry, fully understand? 

She decided that it would be wiser and simpler not to tell 
Jerry. The matter was not one that affected their relations 
as an engaged couple. It was not as if her honor, her 
standing, were affected; as if she were any the less per¬ 
sonally. And anyhow, there was not much longer to wait; 
she could wait, quietly repay Mr. Franklin with her own 
money, and then when the whole affair had receded into the 
untroublous region of distant memory—then she would tell 
Jerry, tell it lightly, humorously, as a bit of the sort of 


foolishness which a girl may be drawn into before she has 
a big wise husband to keep her from the paths of folly. 
Tell it as a joke on herself. And at this later time, when 
there was nothing to trouble over, Jerry would laugh at it as 
a joke. 

But despite these inspirations, these decisions, which 
should have quieted her, Cordelia was not quieted. Follow¬ 
ing that ride with Mitchell, there was not a day when this 
matter did not recur to her, some days many times, and stir 
her with unease. Two or three times Jerry caught a 
strained, far-away look in her eyes. 

‘‘Anything worrying you, Cordie?” he asked. 

“Not a thing in the world,” she assured him. Then she 
forced a look of whimsical trouble. “Nothing—except that 
your wife’s coming to you broke and a dead-beat, and she’s 
worrying about the awful amount of money you’re spending 
on her.” 

“That’s one worry a kiss should eradicate;” and he so 
eradicated it. “Now look pleasant.” 

She did so; and looked so effectively pleasant that he 
gravely suggested, in case money should ever become a 
worry with them, that he would rebuild their fortune by 
putting canned kisses on the market as a magic beautifier. 

They had settled upon the fifteenth of November for 
their quiet wedding, and Cordelia began to look feverishly 
forward to this day as the day of her release. When this 
was still three weeks off, reporters and camera-men began to 
haunt them in anticipation of the great event; and it was at 
this time that they began to speak openly of a procedure 
which had been nebulously in Cordelia’s mind all during the 
engagement—a run-away marriage. It was the end of 
October that Jerry, provoked by a woman reporter from a 

2 74 


newspaper which made a specialty of love romances in its 
colored Sunday supplement, came out flatly, unequivocally 
upon the subject. 

“I’m absolutely fed up on these news-hounds, with their 
smelling and baying, as they trail a fellow’s every footstep 
to the altar!” he exclaimed. “What do you say, Cordie— 
let’s put one over on the whole damnable and forever-be- 
damned bunch. Let’s do what we’ve talked about: fade 
quietly out of the scene, and have a marriage that’s nobody’s 
business but our own! And let’s do it to-morrow!” 

“Let’s!” she agreed. 

“We’ll get the license in the morning, and then be away. 
None of our places are fit to stay in, and we don’t want to 
go to a hotel. How about Aunt Janet’s place? You know 
she’s been begging us to take it for part of our honeymoon. 
Aunt Janet’s in town, but she keeps her Long Island place 
running; plenty of servants and all that. All I need do is 
just ’phone her; she’ll do the rest. Any objections?” 

“Carried unanimously!” 

“Then to-morrow, my dear! To-morrow you and I’ll 
stage one wedding that isn’t just a benefit performance for 
the damned newspapers! We’ll show ’em, my dear!” 

Rapidly they discussed and settled the details of this 
escape. Presently he kissed her good-night; never again, 
he whispered, would a good-night kiss be a kiss of parting. 

After Jerry had gone, Cordelia was free to walk her room 
excitedly, to speak exultantly to herself in her vast relief. 
Just one more day! 



The practical details Cordelia and Jerry had settled be¬ 
fore that last good-night kiss which would ever part them, 
were these: To escape those confounded news-hounds, they 
would that night pack their trunks with their honeymoon 
equipment and at an unwatchful, slumbrous hour after mid¬ 
night one of Jerry’s cars would call for the trunks and 
transport them out to his Aunt Janet’s. Their more im¬ 
mediate and intimate necessities each would pack into a 
bag, and then, if the whim should strike them on the road 
not to go to his Aunt’s for a day or two, they would be 
equipped to slip off to wherever fancy led them; these two 
bags they would carry with them in their own car on the 
morrow. But these bags would not be in their car when 
they drove down to the City Hall in the morning to se¬ 
cure a license; bags in a waiting car, plus two persons 
emerging from the license bureau, might give their whole 
show away if one of those damned reporters should be 
hanging around. But merely getting a license was not in 
their case a suspicious circumstance; a license was good 
for any period, it was marriage kept in storage until needed; 
most couples, as a matter of convenience, secured their 
licenses several days in advance of the day of their in¬ 
tended use. And there was a further circumstance that 
would avert suspicion from Cordelia and Jerry: their 
marriage had publicly been set for the fifteenth of 




November, and if they were just moderately careful no one 
would suspect a change of date until all was over. 

Jerry would, in the early morning, bring his bag over to 
the Park Avenue apartment and leave it there; they would 
then drive down and in an unsuspicious manner get their 
license; then they would return up town and quickly get the 
two bags and shoot away. Yes, that would certainly be 
putting it over on the newspapers! 

And as it was planned, so was it done. At ten o’clock 
the following morning—it was the morning of Hallowe’en, 
by the way—they walked out of City Hall, the license in 
Jerry’s inner pocket, and unhurriedly crossed to Jerry’s 
roadster parked near the Hall of Records. No one had 
seemed to notice them. The thing had worked. 

But a few things had happened, and more now began to 
happen, of which they were unaware. For instance, they 
were both totally unaware that for many days past certain 
apparently stolid gentlemen with obvious manner of unin¬ 
terest in them, had been watching every move they made. 
Two of these gentlemen had noted and followed up the post¬ 
midnight movement of trunks; and another pair of these 
gentlemen had observed the entrance of Jerry’s suit case into 
Cordelia’s apartment-house. These two items, as had been 
every other item of action, were duly reported over the wire 
to Mr. Franklin. And even while Cordelia and Jerry, re¬ 
joicing inwardly at the success of their strategy, were step¬ 
ping into their car beside the Hall of Records, some one in 
the office of the license clerk (stimulated to watchfulness 
and obliging promptness by a gratifying fee) was duly report- ' 
ing the issuance of the license to Mr. Franklin’s office. 

Trunks sent secretly to the country, plus a travelling bag, 
plus a marriage license was not a difficult problem in addi¬ 
tion and deduction for Mr. Franklin. He had kept to 



his policy, difficult though restraint had been, of waiting 
for something to happen; something that would proceed 
from outside himself, that would not involve him. But 
something had not happened. He now must make some¬ 
thing happen. He acted with the swift exactness of a 
general who has been waiting “Zero” hour. Everything had 
been thought out, prepared for. Just one minute after the 
last of these reports had come in over the telephone, Mir. 
Franklin had Rolling Meadows on. the wire and was 
talking to Gladys. His voice was sharp, peremptory. 

“Miss Marlowe and Mr. Plimpton are planning to slip 
away and be married to-day. We’ve—” 

“What!” gasped Gladys. “And you promised to stop—” 

“Don’t interrupt! We’ve got to act quick. Now 
get everything I tell you, and get it all straight. First of 
all, get Miss Marlowe’s apartment on the wire and ask her 
to come out to you at once. Make it important—you’ve 
got to see her at once—within the hour! Don’t give 
any hint that you suspect what they’re going to do. They 
are planning to spend their honeymoon out at Mr. Plimpton’s 
aunt’s place; that’s not far from you. They probably in¬ 
tend to be married quietly somewhere out in that part of the 
country. So coming to see you will not seem to them much 
out of their way—it won’t seem to them any real delay—and 
particularly they’ll not object since they can pretend to you 
that they’re just out for a drive, or a week-end visit. And 
if you make seeing Miss Marlowe a most pressing matter, 
they’ll not have stopped to be married before they arrive. 
Make it important—most important—and they’ll be sure 
to come!” 

“But what important reason can I give Cordelia? A 
reason that will bring her here ?” 

“Tell her something has suddenly come up about Fran- 



gois. Something you simply must see her about—not an 
hour’s delay. Something you can’t tell her over the wire— 
Frangois—she likes him—that will bring her!” 

“All right. I understand all that.” 

“When they come, have them shown directly into the 
library; it’s away from the rest of the house and they won’t 
notice anything that’s happening while they wait. The 
library—it’s important—you’ll remember that?” 

“The library—I’ll remember! Anything else? 

“Yes, as soon as you’ve talked to Miss Marlowe, get that 
Mrs. Jackie Thorndike on the wire. Use whatever excuse 
you think will get her over. But get her over—and at 

“I’m sure I can get her. But what for?” 

“No time now to tell you. May never tell you, for we 
may not use her. Keep yourself out of sight, on some ex¬ 
cuse, till I come. And then leave things to me—as your 
attorney. I’ll be there not many minutes behind Miss Mar¬ 
lowe and Mr. Plimpton. And I’ll probably bring Mrs. 
Marlowe with me. She won’t know why she’s there, any 
more than Mrs. Thorndike, and they may never know. 
They’re just for use in an emergency, and let’s hope there’ll 
be no emergency. Now remember everything I’ve said, and 
don’t waste a second. That’s all till I see you. Good-bye.” 

“One moment—don’t hang up!” cried Gladys. “There’s 
something you’d perhaps better know. Mitchell will be here. 
This is Hallowe’en, or his birthday, or something; and he 
promised to spend the day with Frangois.” 

“Would rather Mitchell wasn’t going to be there, but I 
don’t see how it can be helped. And I guess his being there 
won’t make any difference. I don’t look for trouble. 

The next minute Franklin was talking to Mrs. Marlowe. 



Cordelia and Jerry were then not more than a mile on their 
uptown journey. 

“Good-morning, Mrs. Marlowe,” he said in the gracious, 
respectful voice she liked so much. “By the way, there has 
just been an unexpected development in your business affair. 
Some of your stocks. Nothing unpleasant, but extremely 
important and I should consult you at once. And I’d rather, 
if you can arrange it, that Miss Marlowe did not at present 
know of our interview. I can get in my car and drive 
straight up. If all this suits you, I wonder if you can 
arrange so that there will not be a minute’s unnecessary 

“I shall be glad to see you,” said the pleased Mrs. Mar¬ 
lowe. “Come right up. No! No! Just a moment while 
I think.” Her roving eyes had caught Cordelia’s bag, and 
that reminded her that Cordelia would soon be back. “My 
daughter will be leaving the house for the day in perhaps a 
quarter of an hour. If you are in a hurry, and yet wish 
to avoid her, you might drive up and wait in sight of the 
entrance of the house. There may be a car down in 
front—the car she’ll be going in. If the car is still there, 
you can watch it, and as soon as my daughter goes down 
and drives away, you may come right up.” 

“Excellent. I’ll do that. Oh, by the way—I wonder if 
you’d be willing to talk business in my car? It’s a closed 
car, and very comfortable. I’ve a frightful headache this 
morning, and I was thinking I’d like to get out into the 
air. We can talk as we drive. I’ve come to my own con¬ 
clusions regarding your business, and am leaving in the office 
instructions based on these conclusions. If after our talk 
you wish a different course pursued, we can stop anywhere 
and I can telephone in a new set of instructions. If such a 
plan suits you,” he ended persuasively, “we might run into 

28 o 


the country a bit, and for me it would turn business into an 
hour or two of holiday. ,, 

The plan did suit Mrs. Marlowe; suited her very much 
indeed; and she said so. It had been a dismal, nerve-ex¬ 
hausting prospect, this sitting alone in the apartment while 
her daughter was off somewhere going through the great cli¬ 
max of marriage. The drive would be a most welcome re¬ 

And so, hardly five minutes behind Cordelia and Jerry, 
Mr. Franklin’s limousine followed uptown. 

When Cordelia and Jerry appeared in the apartment, Mrs. 
Marlowe was careful not to mention Mr. Franklin’s name, 
but she reported that Gladys Norworth had just called up 
twice and had left an urgent message that Cordelia should 
ring her up the moment she came in. It was of the very 
greatest importance. Cordelia, though restless to be away, 
complied with the request, and over the wire Gladys repeated 
what Franklin had ordered her to say concerning Frangois. 
With Cordelia nothing else could have been so effective. 
She liked Frangois for himself, and then his small figure 
was behind—most significantly behind !—all the larger things 
that had recently happened in her life. This call, as she 
reasoned, would not have come if this sudden development 
concerning Frangois did not also concern her. She asked 
Gladys to hold the wire, muffled the mouthpiece with her 
palm and turned toward Jerry. What each said, was in 
substance just what Franklin judged would be their reac¬ 

“It’s Gladys, Jerry. She says something has happened 
to Frangois, and she asks me to come at once. If you don’t 
mind, I’d like very much to stop by. I’d like it very much, 
Jerry. It won’t take long, and it’s really not much out of 
our direction.” 



“Just as you like, Cor die. And they won’t guess what 
we’re up to. We’re off for the usual week-end—that will 
explain our bags if they notice them.” 

Five minutes later they were headed for Queensboro 
Bridge, thence to streak across Long Island like a domesti- 
cized meteor in Jerry’s imported Hispano-Suiza car, with 
its airplane motor—Jerry, especially, chuckling with delight 
over the manner in which he had outwitted the news-hounds. 
Neither had an idea that, only a few minutes behind them, 
drove Mr. Franklin and Mrs. Marlowe, the latter giving her 
approval to his ideas concerning those purely hypothetical 
stocks upon whose income she had been supporting her 
family these many months; and since Mrs. Marlowe was 
content with his suggestions, she was quite content to drive 
on and have a bit of the crisp Long Island air. 

And neither Jerry nor Cordelia had an idea—as yet— 
that after all they had not succeeded in that wonderfully 
clever stratagem for eluding the reporters; that those three 
closed cars behind, which seemed to be holding their own di¬ 
rection, were each loaded with determined newspaper men. 
Wise though both of them were in most worldly matters, 
Jerry and Cordelia were not fully acquainted with one sober 
fact of modern life: that when newspaper men do not wish 
to be eluded, newspaper men usually are not eluded. They 
knew their marriage was an important event; but they did 
not realize that the marriage of Cordelia Marlowe and Jerry 
Plimpton could no more escape the newspapers than that of 
England’s Princess Mary to—to—the gentleman’s name for 
the moment escapes the present writer—when its turn came 
to fascinate the public’s romantic mind some four or five 
months later. 

As they stepped from Jerry’s racer in front of Gladys’ 
house, Frangois came darting from out the spruce, shouting, 



“Mother Cordelia!” She kissed him and hugged him in 
great relief. She had feared that Gladys’ vague and peremp¬ 
tory message might have meant that the boy was critically 
ill. As she released him and straightened up to continue 
into the house, she heard a voice call, “Better come to me 
now, Frangois,” and she then saw Mitchell standing aloof a 
dozen yards away. He was rather pale, but was otherwise 
as composed as usual, and he bowed slightly. She bowed 
formally in return, remembering the afternoon he had ab¬ 
ducted her in a taxicab and the disdain with which he had 
lashed her. Head held proudly high, she led the way up the 
steps and to the door. 

When Gladys’ butler admitted Cordelia and Jerry, he said 
that Gladys was busy with a telephone call, and that they 
were please to wait in the library where she would presently* 
come, and to it he led the way and there left them. The 
library was at the side of the house farthest away from thq 
main entrance, the driveway, the garage and all the ground; 
floor rooms in most common use; it had that apartness, that: 
remoteness, which are ideal for a library, having been 
planned by an architect who had provided for a greateii 
fondness for books and bookly quiet than had ever been 
shown by the dead Mr. Norworth and his wife or by their 
daughter. The architect had also provided a literary retreat! 
even more quiet, for, adjoining the library, with a door into, 
the library and another door opening into a private corridor, 
was that dream of the luxurious bibliophile, a sound-proof 
study. | 

Several minutes passed. Cordelia remarked to Jerry thatj 
Gladys must be having one of those week-end telephone; 
visits. She was feeling restless, apprehensive, but she tried ! 
not to show this to Jerry. Then the butler reappeared. ] 

“Several gentlemen from the newspapers are here,” he 


announced. “They say they would like very much to see 

Both Cordelia and Jerry had sprung up, and both had 
gasped “Reporters!” It was Jerry who answered, and his 
answer was emphatic. 

“You may say to the newspaper gentlemen that we would 
like very much not to see them!” 

“Very well, sir. They said I was also to say to you, if 
you refused to see them, that they know you are going to 
be married to-day and that they simply must have the news, 
I was to say to you that it would be very much pleasanter 
for you and for them if you would consent to seeing them 
and consent to their being present at the ceremony. Other¬ 
wise they’d have too—” 

“Tell them all to go to hell!” exploded Jerry. “Tell them 
it’s none of their damned business!” 

“Yes, sir. Very well, sir.” 

As the butler made his exit, Cordelia and Jerry stared at 
each other in dismay. Their inspired plan for non-publicity 
had come to—to—this! They were incoherent in the exas¬ 
peration of their suddenly foiled desire, and before coher¬ 
ence could be regained the butler was back once more. 

“Miss Norworth wishes to see Miss Marlowe in the 
study,” he said, and crossing the library he opened the heavy 
door to the study, and after she had passed in he closed it 
behind her. 

The study was empty. Strange how many delays Gladys 
was having this morning, Cordelia thought as she sat down. 
A few moments passed, then the door which opened 
from the private corridor softly opened and as softly closed. 
Cordelia rose in sudden alarm as she saw that the person 
who had joined her was not Gladys. 

“Mr. Franklin!” she exclaimed. 



“Good-morning, Miss Marlowe/' he said pleasantly. “I 
happened to be out here seeing my client, Miss Norworth, 
on a matter of business. She will be detained a few minutes 
more. While you wait, if you don’t mind, I’d like to have 
a little chat with you. Won’t you please be seated?” 

For the first time in his presence, Cordelia felt fear 
and dislike of this polished man. But her pride concealed 

“I’d prefer not to talk with you, just at present,” she 
said formally. “I’ll wait for Miss Norworth in the library.” 

She moved toward the library door. With a quick step 
he intercepted her. 

“Perhaps you will be willing to talk when you know what 
I wish to talk about,” he said, still in his pleasant manner. 
“About our business relations. I really have not yet an¬ 
swered your letter terminating our connections. I wish to 
answer it now. I have something of very great importance 
to say, and it should be said immediately.” 

His voice had not altered its agreeable quality, but for her 
it had the quality of command. 

“Very well. But please make what you say brief.” 

“I hope that you will help me make it brief. With your 
permission I shall tell Mr. Plimpton I am with you—he 
knows I am your attorney—so that he can check Miss Nor¬ 
worth if she comes through the library. I’m sure we don’t 
wish Miss Norworth to overhear any part of our business 

She was instantly certain that he was in the study by 
arrangement with Gladys. But she assented with a nod. 
He opened the library door, greeted Jerry, then said: 

“Miss Norworth seems to be delayed. Miss Marlowe and 
I wish to talk over a little matter of business—it will only 
require a few moments—and if Miss Norworth comes 


through the library will you please detain her until we have 
finished ?” 

Jerry thought this appearance of Franklin somewhat odd; 
but he knew of Franklin’s professional relation to both 
Gladys and Cordelia, and he promised. Franklin closed the 
door, and recrossed toward Cordelia, his face still smiling. 

“And now, since we are to have our talk, won’t you please 
be seated?”’ 

“I promised to help you make this brief, and I shall make 
it so brief that we will not need to sit down.” She felt that 
she had herself well in hand; she knew she was cool, digni¬ 
fied, distant—distinctly superior. “To get to our business. 
For some time I have felt that perhaps I should not have 
accepted the money which I had from you during the course 
of our recent business relations. I prefer not to go into 
the reasons behind this feeling. It will be sufficient to say 
that for some time I have had the determination to repay 
you every dollar of the sums received. You know that after 
my marriage I shall have ample funds entirely my own. 
Since the reporters know it, you doubtless also know that 
I am to be married to-day. That knowledge should be a 
guarantee to you that you will receive payment in full 
within the next few days. I believe this closes the sub¬ 
ject of all the business there is to be discussed between 

There—she had said it! And said it extremely well! 

“That can hardly close the business,” he returned, “for 
that is not at all the subject I got you here to discuss.” 

“I do not know of any other subject!” 

“Surely you do. Something of far more importance than 
money, or its return. You will recall that I once told you 
I loved you and asked you to marry me.”' 

“I prefer not to reopen that subject,” she said haughtily. 



“At that time you said no/’ he continued. “I then told 
you that I should hope on, that I should never give you 
up. I have not given you up. My real business is this: to 
tell you again that I love you, and to ask you again to marry 

Her gaze was a scorching flame. 

“You get me here with you by a trick—to tell me that— 
on my wedding day!” 

Whatever had been blazing within him, ravening at his 
heart, he had up to this moment maintained a surface of 
poise and pleasant-mannered self-restraint. But now there 
was an instantaneous change. His face, his manner, his 
words, were what his heart was and his heart was crazy in 
its love for Cordelia. He made a quick stride and gripped 
her upper arms. 

“Cordelia, you’re going to marry me—not that man wait¬ 
ing in the library!” he cried, his voice shaking with his 
passion. “He hasn’t love to give you, Cordelia. He has 
only money! I have love, and I’ll get you all the money 
you’ll ever want! I love you, Cordelia—I love you—don’t 
you see how I love you? God, how I love you! And I 
always will love you—always!” 

During the first moment of the rush of his mad words, 
Cordelia was so stunned and horrified by the sudden out¬ 
burst that she was powerless to move or speak. “Let me 
go—let me go !” # she now gasped, and struggled to tear her¬ 
self free from those clinging hands. She got one arm loose, 
and with all her young strength drove a fist into those lips 
spilling their abominable and abominated love. “You beast, 
you!” she cried. “You beast! To dare to talk like that 
to me! Let go my other arm!” 

He loosed his clutch. Gasping, she glared at him for the 
supreme insult he had dared put upon her. He had not, in 



his serious moments, ever believed that any such mad 
avowal of love would avail to win her; but passion had seized 
him, and swept him for a minute out of his mind’s control. 
But now once more, by a great effort, his mind was master 
of his passions. 

“Stand out of my way !” she cried imperiously. “I’ve 
had enough of this!” 

He made no move to obey. 

“I love you,” he said, his voice now quiet. “But if you 
will not marry me for love, there is still another reason why 
you will marry me.” 

The strange confidence with which he spoke, the ab¬ 
surdity, the utter impossibility of what he said, were such 
as to draw from her a question. 

“What reason is that?” she demanded. 

He was now on safe ground. He knew just how to 
handle people when he finally had them in a position from 
which they could not extricate themselves. He was calm— 
though exultant within—because he knew that she was go¬ 
ing to accept him, that in just a few minutes she was going 
to be his fiancee, not Jerry Plimpton’s. 

“Because, though you may not love me, you love what 
the world thinks of you,” he said. “Therefore, you’d much 
rather marry me than allow me to tell the world what I know 
about you.” 

“Tell what you know about me?” she exclaimed, not yet 
seeing in what direction he was leading her. 

“Yes. Tell what I know. And all I know. There’s 
your choice, and it’s simple: either marry me, or I tell.” 

“But what is there to tell?” 

“Plenty. That you’re a blackmailer. That you’re an ad¬ 
venturess. That you and your family have been making 
a social show entirely on blackmail money.” 



Even in her dumbfounded wrath she had a sense that 
these same things had been said to her before. By whom? 
Oh, yes—by Mitchell. 

*Tt will make a very nice story,”' he continued. “The 
great Cordelia Marlowe—Cordelia the Magnificent, I be¬ 
lieve they sometimes call you—keeping up her fine front 
by blackmailing her friends. Yes, a very nice story, indeed. 
And I don’t have to ask the world to take my unsupported 
word. I have documents. Your signatures, you know. 
. . . Now don’t you see that your best chance for a happy 
married life is with me?” 

Only slowly had she got the full significance of what he 
had been saying, and of what that clearly implied concern¬ 
ing the whole of their relationship. The thing stupefied 
her with its horror. 

“So!—all this while youVe been lying to me—leading me 
into a trap!”' 

“Exactly—if you wish to put it in unpleasant language.” 

“And you trapped me —so that you could blackmail me 
into marrying you!” 

“Exactly. Though I had hoped you would marry me 
without my being driven to use unpleasant pressure.” 

She stared at him, speechless. The thing seeemed to her 

“To think”—she breathed slowly—“to think that any 
man in all the world could do such a thing!” 

“A man has done it,” he said in his even, confident tone. 
“And you are going to marry that man.” 

Her stunned vitality returned to her with a dizzying rush. 
Her glance was a blaze of contemptuous fury. 

“Marry you! you! Never! Never!” 

“Oh, yes, you will.” His voice was still confident. 



“When you say no, you are forgetting the alternative I men¬ 
tioned: if you don’t marry me, I’ll tell the world all about 

“Tell—go on and tell!” she cried in her furious defiance. 
“To show you how much I care for your threat, I’ll tell the 
world myself! Tell it everything!” 

Looking at her trembling figure, he realized that she 
would indeed tell. And he realized—utterly unbelievable 
though the thing had seemed to him since the beginning— 
he realized, definitely, that he had lost; that his careful, 
patient plan had failed. 

“I’ll tell everything!” she blazed on. “And tell it now! 
And I shall begin by going right in and telling Mr. Plimpton 
first of all. And I shall tell the world all about you—that 
you are a blackmailer—a swindling, crooked lawyer who de¬ 
serves disbarment and prison!” 

He again caught her arm in a fierce grip. She did not 
speak to him again, not even to order him to remove his 
hand; but stood gazing at him with her terrible contempt. 
His love for Cordelia had been, and still was, a wild love; 
akin to the love of those men who, refused, kill the women 
they love. This impulse to kill was now upon him. 

And added to this impulse, doubling its strength, was the 
impulse of self-preservation. By her last words she had 
become a menace to his fortune, his career, his very life. 
The gratification of the two impulses required the same ac¬ 
tion. She must be killed—if he could possibly kill her. 
But not physically. 

He took his hand from her arm and stepped aside. 

“Go on in and tell,” he said quietly. 

She swiftly crossed the study, with him following, and 
threw open the library door. 


“Jerry,” she cried, “Jerry—” 

She broke off, somewhat taken aback. For instead of 
the solitary Jerry that she expected, waiting in the library 
were Jerry, Gladys, Esther and Mitchell. 



While this scene had been going on in the study, Gladys 
had entered the library, had acted surprised at seeing Jerry, 
and had been halted by him just as Mr. Franklin, in his 
brief interview with her a few minutes earlier, had told her 
she would be. She knew she was living through a danger¬ 
ous hour; things might go wrong and something strike at 
her; and so,. since it was her instinct and habit to have 
Esther near her when there was possibility of danger, she 
had now brought Esther along. A moment after their en¬ 
trance Mitchell had come in. He had no guess at exactly 
what was going on, but the sudden appearance at Rolling 
Meadows of Cordelia, Jerry Plimpton, Jackie Thorndike 
and Mr. Franklin with Mrs. Marlowe, made him suspect 
that something of importance was due to happen; and he 
felt that anything important that happened in this house¬ 
hold was very definitely his concern. 

The four of them had risen when Cordelia had burst from 
the study, Franklin just behind her. Her surprise at the 
sight of the four was slight and was gone in a moment. 
Aflame with angry purpose, tense, drawn to her full height, 
she was a superb commanding figure. At that moment she 
felt herself a super-Cordelia Marlowe. Singing electrically 
through her was the great strength, the great confidence, 
which had never failed to sweep her in triumph through any 
emergency; and behind her own great strength, making it 




invincible, she felt the reassuring strength of Jerry Plimpton. 

“Jerry,”, she cried, after her brief pause, “I want to tell 
you—tell all of you people—that this man here has just been 
demanding that I break our engagement and marry him! 
And he has tried to enforce that demand by threatening 
me with exposure if I refused—has tried to blackmail me 
into marriage!” 

Jerry crossed the room in three strides, his face black, 
his hands clenched. 

“Damn you, Franklin, I’m going—” 

“Don’t strike me just yet,” Franklin spoke up quickly, 
in his composed tone. “Wait till you’ve heard all Miss 
Marlowe’s story and till I’ve made a few remarks. I’ll 
promise not to interrupt her, on the understanding that I 
am likewise to be allowed to tell my story to the end. Then, 
Mr. Plimpton, having heard all, if you still wish to strike 
me, I give you leave to strike as often and as hard as you 

“Go on, Cordelia!” said Jerry. 

“I’ll tell you everything about this man! Yes, and I’ll 
tell all the world when—” 

“One moment, Miss Marlowe—please!” Franklin broke in. 
“I believe I noticed some reporters in another room: the 
men who followed you to get the news of your marriage. 
If you wish to tell all the world, I know of no better way 
than to ask those reporters in.” 

“Yes, ask them in!” cried Cordelia. 

“Miss Norworth,” said Franklin, “as this is your house, 
you are the proper person to ask the reporters to come here.” 

Gladys, remembering her instructions to obey Franklin’s 
every order and to follow his every lead, promptly went out. 
No one in the room spoke until she returned a minute later 



followed by a dozen reporters. They ranged themselves 
along the wall and became a silent audience to the drama 
that was being played by the six characters in the room. 
“Hounds,” Jerry in his irritation had called them, but they 
were all eager, alert men; and all were alive with excitement 
over the possibility of some new twist to the much-written 
Marlowe-Plimpton romance. For the benefit of these mes¬ 
sengers to all the world, Cordelia repeated the beginning 
of her story, though she directed her words at Jerry. Her 
voice was vibrant with insulted pride, crushing contempt 
and assured triumph. 

“This man here, on my wedding day, has just demanded 
that I break my engagement and marry him. He has tried 
to blackmail me into marriage by threatening to make cer¬ 
tain exposures concerning me. I shall make those ex¬ 
posures myself, and in making them I shall show him to be 
a crooked lawyer, a swindler, a professional blackmailer. 

“I became acquainted with him about the first of last 
June. I needed money; there is no news in that admission, 
for every one knows my family has never had much money. 
I inserted an advertisement; this man answered it, and that 
is how we met. He made me believe that, unknown to a 
certain woman, he was confidentially retained by other 
people to protect that woman. He said there was some 
secret in that woman’s life which was being used against 
her and which he did not know; and he said he could not 
properly protect her unless he knew this secret, unless he 
knew what he was protecting her against. The woman 
is rich and of social prominence; I know her. This man 
suggested that, through my knowing this woman, I might 
be able to discover this secret and thereby be of great as¬ 
sistance to him and to the woman. He proposed that I 



undertake this matter and he offered to pay me well for 
this service. All that he said sounded very plausible to me 
at the time; and as I greatly needed money I accepted. 

“I discovered the secret. What that secret is has no 
bearing on what I am now telling; besides that secret is with 
me still a confidential matter. I told the secret to this man, 
as I had obligated myself to do. He paid me, as he had 
promised. I had acted in good faith all the time and be¬ 
lieved I had performed an honorable service and had legiti¬ 
mately earned the money. Not until later did I learn that 
when he first spoke to me this man was not legally engaged 
by any one to protect this woman; and not until much later 
did I learn this man’s true character, and what he had been 
doing. He had been using the secret I obtained to levy 
blackmail upon the woman I have mentioned. The money 
he paid me was paid me for being a tool—an innocent tool, 
remember—in his blackmailing scheme. I now know this 
was unclean money and I have promised this man to repay 
him every cent. These, then, are the things this man threat¬ 
ened to expose if I did not marry him: that I had taken his 
money, that I was his dupe in a blackmailing scheme! 
There, that is all!” 

She turned on Franklin and gave him, as from a great 
height, a look of withering disdain. 

“So you thought you could frighten me with your threats 
to tell such a story!” she said contemptuously. “Your 
threats have had just one effect, and an effect you had not 
counted on. They have forced me to tell the world what a 
scoundrel you are, and when the courts are through with 
you, you’ll be out of the blackmailing business forever!” 

Jerry glowered at Franklin, his fists clenched again, and 
he stepped toward the lawyer. 

“Here’s where you get it!” he cried. 


“One moment!” Franklin said quickly. “Remember, I 
let Miss Marlowe have her full say on the understanding 
that I was to be allowed a few remarks. ,, 

“Go ahead!” thundered Jerry. “But you’d better make 
it snappy!” 

“Thank you. Using your own word, I shall make it as 
'snappy’ as I can.” 

Franklin paused for a moment, seemingly to arrange his 
thoughts. In reality it was a court-room trick of his: such 
a pause let the effect of the opposing counsel’s words upon 
the jury wear off a little, helped center attention and sus¬ 
pense upon himself. However much of wild passion might 
be in his nature, cool lawyer brain ruled the whole of him 
at the present moment. It was a trial, and he recognized 
it as such—a trial with all the world sitting upon the jury; 
and he further recognized that for the time being he was the 
person on trial. Never before had he prepared for any 
case as he had prepared for this; for in no other trial of 
his life had he personally had so much at stake. Every 
lawyer’s wit in him was alert, yet he tried his best not to 
look or seem the lawyer. 

His manner was hesitant, uncertain, apologetic at the 
start. “I must ask you all—and you especially, Mr. Plimp¬ 
ton—to exercise restraint during my first statements. Be¬ 
ing Miss Marlowe’s friends, you naturally all believe her 
story. If I have any defense, I must naturally contradict 
some parts of that story. And naturally some of my con¬ 
tradictions may give you serious offense. But please bear 
with me until I am through. 

“The first charge against me which I shall take up is her 
account of what passed between us a few moments ago in 
the study. She claims that I urged her to break the engage¬ 
ment, and tried to coerce her into marrying me. Half of 



that statement is true, half untrue. She referred un¬ 
pleasantly to my character. For some time I have been 
aware of certain things about her character which are gen¬ 
erally unknown; just what they are and just what I learned 
of them, I shall state later on. I will here merely say that 
they are derogatory, and unfit her to be Mrs. Plimpton. 
From motives which will later be clear, Mr. Plimpton, I 
have on several occasions urged Miss Marlowe to end her 
engagement of her own accord. She has refused, and has 
made threats against me for my interference; one of these 
threats she has carried out in this accusation she has just 
made against me. I have had her watched and I learned 
of your plan to be married to-day, and I arranged with Miss 
Norworth to get the two of you here. My purpose in us¬ 
ing this device was to gain a chance to make one last appeal 
to Miss Marlowe to break the engagement and so prevent 
an unfortunate marriage. That is absolutely all that passed 
between us in the study: I made this last appeal—to save 
you, Mr. Plimpton—and I once more failed. What she 
has added to this account, such as my trying to blackmail 
her into marrying me and the like, are all fabrications in¬ 
tended to discredit me, exactly as she had threatened if I 
should attempt to stop her by some means other than appeal 
and argument. There you have the truth of what happened 
in the study, and the whole truth.” 

Cordelia had barely been able to contain herself during 
this long opening statement, with its few truths and many 
falsehoods. She was amazed, wrothy, at the man’s colossal, 
incredible impudence. 

“That’s a lie!” she now burst out hotly. “Everything 
he’s added to my statement is all a lie!” 

“I cannot prove that part of my story, I admit,” Frank¬ 
lin continued. “Perhaps, for the sake of establishing my 



credibility, it would be wise to turn at once to some points 
which I can prove. Miss Marlowe has several times re¬ 
ferred to a certain woman with a secret and whom she says 
I claimed to be trying to protect. She refrained from giv¬ 
ing this woman’s name, and has let us infer that her reti¬ 
cence was due to a desire to shield the woman. I thank her, 
and so does the lady, I am sure. But there is no necessity 
for the reticence. Miss Norworth, I believe you are the 
woman referred to?” 

Gladys went white. She had no idea to what this ques¬ 
tion might lead. But there was his order to back up his 
every move. 

“I am,”' she said. 

“Miss Marlowe has said that, at the time I first spoke to 
her, I was not engaged directly or indirectly to represent 
Miss Norworth. I may say, parenthetically, that 1 have 
with me a number of documents which I shall show in their 
proper order. They are not with me by accident; Miss 
Marlowe has been threatening to do just what she has done 
this morning, and I have been carrying these documents 
for self-protection in case just such an emergency as this 
should develop.” He drew a black leather wallet from the 
inner pocket of his waistcoat and from it took a folded paper 
which he handed to Gladys. “Miss Norworth, will you 
please identify this paper and tell us its contents?” 

“It’s a letter I wrote to you. It asks you to take legal 
charge of all my affairs.” 

“When was it written?”' 

“It is dated May fifteenth of this year.” 

“What else was done in the matter ?” 

“I saw you and this arrangement I asked for was made. 
A contract was drawn up and signed. I think that was two 
days later.” 



“Miss Marlowe says that my first talk with her, during 
which I made my alleged proposal to her to gain your secret, 
was early in June. She says I lied when I claimed to be 
protecting you as a lawyer. Was I, or was I not, your 
regularly retained lawyer at that time?” 

“You were.”' 

“That’s not so!” breathed Cordelia. 

“It is so, Miss Marlowe, only at that time you did not 
know it,” Franklin responded. “A little later on you will 
learn the reason why you were not permitted to know. Will 
you kindly give me back the letter, Miss Norworth ? Thank 
you. I may say to all of you that the contract Miss Nor¬ 
worth spoke of is in my office safe, and will be produced 
at any time when requested. But Miss Norworth’s word, 
and this letter, which any one may examine who so wishes, 
prove conclusively that since about the middle of May I 
have been Miss Norworth’s legal representative and in her; 
legal confidence. And now I believe I have shown three 
things: first, that some of my unprovable statements may 
possibly be true; second, that Miss Marlowe is capable of mis¬ 
statements ; and third, that I have been in the midst of this 
affair, and had business there, from the very beginning.” 

Franklin paused a moment to let these points sink into 
his jury, and he glanced them over to see what effect he had 
thus far made. Cordelia, splendidly indignant, contemptu¬ 
ous and certain, also gazed around the room to get the effect 
produced by the outrageous lies this man was telling. Jerry’s 
gaze was fixed hard and glowering on Franklin; otherwise 
his grim face told nothing of his impressions. Esther’s face 
was just a face of wonderment. Mitchell’s was pale, set, al¬ 
most expressionless; but Cordelia felt sure that Mitchell, at 
least, knew that Franklin was lying. Gladys’ green eyes 
were glittering with vengeful joy at Franklin’s attack upon 



Cordelia, and with wild suspense as to what he might do 
next; but alloying that pleasure was a fear that something 
might possibly happen to her. As for the reporters, they 
were skeptical but excited; such a story about the famous 
Cordelia Marlowe, Cordelia the Magnificent, that very hour 
on her way to the altar with the rich Jerry Plimpton—that 
would be a story indeed, if there was only a peg of unas¬ 
sailable and unlibellous fact on which to hang it. But so 
far there had been no such fact. 

Franklin continued. 

“I shall leave the charge of blackmail alleged by Miss 
Marlowe until a little later. To repeat, I have long feared 
this threat of Miss Marlowe, and since I was going to de¬ 
liver to her my ultimatum this morning I came here to¬ 
day especially prepared against her carrying out this 
threat. To make my later points clear I shall now introduce 
some evidence that may at the present seem unimportant. 
Miss Norworth, will you kindly ask Mrs. Marlowe and Mrs. 
Thorndike to join us for a few moments ?” 

Again Gladys promptly obeyed. Jackie came in and 
looked about her in bewilderment; Mrs. Marlowe came in 
with an expectant smile—she had an idea that she was to 
be a witness to her daughter's marriage after all. Seeing 
the crowd, and the tense attitude of every one, her smile 
vanished and she blinked about the room in her surprise. 

“Just a few questions and both of you ladies may then 
be excused,” said Franklin. “First you, Mrs. Marlowe. 
About the first of last June your entire family fortune was 
swept away, was it not?” 

“Yes. But with Cordelia's help you very quickly got it 
restored to us, Mr. Franklin. And I shall never stop being 
grateful to you!” 

“You believed, at least, that I restored your fortune to 

3 00 


you. Now the loss of your fortune would have meant 
social obliteration for you and your two daughters, would 
it not ?” 

“Of course. One cannot maintain a social position such 
as the Marlowes have always had, without money. ,, 

“And you wanted to maintain that position, did you not? 
—not alone for your own sake, but for the sake of your 
two daughters? In fact, this was an almost overwhelming 
desire, was it not?” 

“Naturally I wanted to remain where the Marlowes have 
always been.” 

“Thank you, Mrs. Marlowe. That is all. And now, 
Mrs. Thorndike, did, or did not, Miss Marlowe confide to 
you about the first of June that their fortune had all 
been swept away ?” 

Jackie looked questioningly at Cordelia. 

“Answer him, Jackie,” Cordelia ordered contemptuously. 

“She did,” said Jackie. “But a few days later she told 
me it had all been a mistake, or at any rate the fortune had 
been returned to them.” 

“Thank you, Mrs. Thorndike. That is quite all. And 
now both of you ladies may go. By the way, Mrs. Mar¬ 
lowe, I find I shall be detained here for some time. I sug¬ 
gest that you return to the city in my car. Just tell my 
driver your wishes; I have already told him that the car is 
at your disposal. Good-morning, and thank you both again.” 

Mrs. Marlowe hesitated, her face anxious. 

“Do you need me here, Cordelia?” 

“No. You’d better go,” Cordelia answered proudly. 
“Jerry and I will be leaving here in just a few minutes.” 

Mrs. Marlowe and Jackie passed out of the library. 

“There was no need for you to have brought them here 
as witnesses,” Cordelia said to Franklin with her manner of 



contemptuous pride. “I would have admitted the loss of 
our fortune. In fact, I have already voluntarily said as 

“It is just as well that I had this bit of corroborative evi¬ 
dence,” Franklin responded. “But the loss of the fortune 
is not the only point in this evidence. The most important 
point is that two persons, the only ones among your relatives 
and friends who knew of this loss, were very quickly made 
to believe by you that the fortune had never been lost—just 
as all your friends believe to this day.” 

He turned to the others. “I wish you all to bear this 
point in mind, for its great importance will soon be ap¬ 
parent: that Miss Marlowe admits that the fortune was 
actually lost, and that all this time she has made the world 
believe that she was living on the family fortune.” 

“I made people believe that because you ordered me to 
make them believe it!” Cordelia retorted angrily. 

“Naturally, your defense would be to blame me,” he re¬ 
turned. Again he addressed himself to the others. “Miss 
Marlowe has referred to an advertisement which led to our 
acquaintance. I believe that advertisement will prove an 
interesting exhibit.” Again he drew out the black wallet, 
and again took from it a folded paper. “Here is her ad¬ 
vertisement, posted on a sheet of paper. I can recall Mrs. 
Thorndike to prove its authenticity.” 

“There’s no use going any further trying to prove that 
advertisement is mine,” Cordelia interrupted. “I admit it.” 

“Then if you admit it, the less harm to you in my show¬ 
ing it. The points I am making, ladies and gentlemen, may 
seem each small in itself, just as one brick is small, but a 
great many bricks will build a house. You shall presently 
see just what is built by my many little points. This adver¬ 
tisement has value in helping to reveal the true character of 

3 02 


Miss Marlowe, and in helping to reveal her secret methods. 
It reads as follows: 

“ ‘AMERICAN GIRL, 23, strong, considered good- 
looking. Best social standing. Expert at swimming, 
riding, tennis, dancing and can drive a racing car. Has 
other accomplishments, but no useful training. Desires 
position with adequate remuneration. What have you 
to offer her?’ 

“I give this advertisement to you newspaper men to copy 
in case you later decide to use it;” and Franklin so did. 
“You newspaper men recognize that type of advertisement. 
Formerly they appeared in certain newspapers under the 
unsavory heading of ‘personals’; nowadays all decent news¬ 
papers, except when a clerk at the want-ad counter becomes 
careless, vigorously exclude all such matter. As you 
newspaper men know, such an advertisement is usually a 
delicate suggestion that the lady, if satisfactory terms can 
be arranged, is quite willing to become the temporary wife 
of any agreeable man.” 

“You—you dare say that!” gasped Cordelia. 

Jerry had seized Franklin by the shoulder. 

“Damn you! Take that back, you damned slanderous, 
foul-minded scoundrel!” 

“Certainly, Mr. Plimpton, if you desire,” said Franklin, 
apologetically. “But there is hardly need for me to take it 
back since I did not accuse Miss Marlowe of the intention 
which that advertisement might imply. But doubtless I 
was not the only one who was struck by that unusual ad¬ 
vertisement; doubtless Miss Marlowe had many replies. 
I should like to ask Miss Marlowe if the majority 
of the men who wrote to her did not take her advertisement 
as exactly the kind of an overture I have indicated?” 



Cordelia recalled the thick bundle of responses. Indeed 
all of them, with the sole exception of Mr. Franklin’s, had 
taken the advertisement in exactly the suggestive manner he 
had described. She flushed at the memory of those insults. 

“That has nothing to do with the present matter!” she re¬ 

He had made his little point; had added one more brick. 
He had not expected his very plain innuendo to be accepted; 
he had merely been following, in his lawyer way, that 
proved device of using anything and everything that may 
create doubt or suspicion against a hostile witness. 

Contented, he went on. 

“Personally, the worst I claim for that advertisement is 
that it shows a woman in desperate straits, ready for any¬ 
thing. Please remember the situation as her mother de¬ 
scribed it; they were suddenly penniless, and faced utter 
social oblivion. Miss Marlowe here was the proudest of 
them all, the greatest social figure, and the prospect of social 
oblivion was naturally more terrible to her than to the 
others. As I have said, such a woman in such a situation is 
ready for anything. 

“That unusual advertisement caught my eye. It seemed 
to me suspicious; of such a character, indeed, that I felt it 
my duty as a citizen to investigate it. So I answered that 
advertisement and the writer of it came to see me; this was 
in early June, as Miss Marlowe says. I recognized Miss 
Marlowe at once, and was naturally amazed that a young 
woman so well known in society should be using a device 
that is more properly the method of a rather ordinary ad¬ 
venturess. I was all the more interested in meeting her, in 
such a strange situation, because she had been a school 
friend and was a social intimate of my new client, Miss 
Norworth—whom, as I have just proved to you, I was then 



legally representing. Naturally I kept this legal connection: 
with Miss Norworth a secret for the time being from Miss 

‘‘Pardon me if I once more interrupt my narrative for 
just a moment. There are a few other documents I wish to 
show you.” Again the black wallet was taken out and this 
time several bits of paper were extracted from it. “Miss 
Marlowe has admitted the family fortune was really gone. 
Here are eight cancelled checks signed by me, totalling 
twenty thousand dollars, five for twenty-five hundred dollars, 
each made out to Mrs. Marlowe, and three for twenty-five 
hundred dollars, each made out to Miss Marlowe. You will 
see that they have all been endorsed by Mrs. Marlowe and 
Miss Marlowe and were therefore cashed by them.” 

“Oh, I admit the money was paid and we got it,” Cordelia 
said with imperious impatience. She was tired of all this 
wordy detail which was leading nowhere, and which was 
certainly not going to enable Franklin to escape his just 
deserts. “But I’ve told you I thought the money was 
honestly earned, and I’ve told you that I would repay it. If 
you have anything important to say, please get to it!” 

“Again you mistake the real point, Miss Marlowe. The 
importance here is not in your having received this money. 
The important point is that the money represented by these 
eight checks is all the money you and your family have re¬ 
ceived since the first of June.” 

“I admit that, if it will get you forward any quicker. 
Please come to something important!” 

“We’ll come to something important, most important, in 
just a moment!” He now spoke, for the first time, with 
swift, incisive vigor. “What I have said thus far has been 
just preparation—we now come to the heart of the whole 
sordid business! Please remember, all of you, that Miss 



Marlowe has admitted that the money represented by these 
checks is all she or her family has had in the last several 
months. Without that money she could not have kept her 
high place in the world. To return once more to my nar¬ 
rative, Miss Marlowe, after our first interview, tried to 
sound me out with suggestions that grew more and more 
dubious; I led her on, to see just what was her game. At 
length she made me a proposition. The family had lost its 
money, she told me, and she was in desperate straits; she 
had a chance to make a splendid marriage, but she needed 
money to put that marriage over; if I would help her, she 
would pay me a large sum after her marriage. She had a 
plan to secure money, but she could not swing that plan 
alone, and she asked my aid. The plan she proposed 
to me jwas to blackmail a certain lady. The person she 
named as the victim of her matrimonial scheme was your¬ 
self, Mr. Plimpton. The first victim of the blackmailing 
scheme was Miss Norworth.” 

“What—what infernal lies!” gasped Cordelia, now 

“Of course you would say so, Miss Marlowe. Miss Nor¬ 
worth, you have personal knowledge of some of these state¬ 
ments. Have I lied in any statement that concerns you?” 

“You have told only the truth,” Gladys said emphatically. 
“And I know that she was all the time scheming to get 
Jerry Plimpton to marry her.” 

“Gladys—you—you—” But Cordelia’s words could not 
come out. 

“Go on!” Jerry commanded Franklin in a harsh voice. 

“Miss Marlowe made it a condition,” Franklin continued, 
“that if I went into her plan with her, no one was to know 
of our arrangement; no one was to know of the lost family 
fortune, and everybody was to suppose that the money re- 



ceived from her plan was just the usual family income. If 
people knew the facts, she pointed out, her position would 
be lost and her whole plan would be worthless. I pre¬ 
tended to accede to all she said. Meanwhile I consulted my 
client, Miss Norworth, one of Miss Marlowe’s proposed 
victims. Miss Norworth ordered me to go right ahead with 
Miss Marlowe. She told me of various shady things which 
Miss Marlowe, because of her financial shortage, had done 
to cling on to her position. Miss Marlowe’s continual 
shortage of money had long since made her a social parasite, 
scheming for invitations on which she could live; that 
shortage was now turning her into a desperate and dangerous 
social menace. Miss Norworth and I determined to lead 
her on in her plan to blackmail Miss Norworth, and then, 
when we had her thoroughly involved, expose her and thus 
rid society of her. In accordance with this prearranged 
plan Miss Norworth agreed to submit for a time to being 
blackmailed by Miss Marlowe, making the payments 
through me, as Miss Marlowe had suggested. Miss Nor¬ 
worth placed money in my hands for this purpose, though I 
did advance the first amounts paid over. And exactly as 
Miss Norworth and I planned, exactly was the thing carried 
out. I believe that is a correct summary of what we did, 
Miss Norworth?” 

“That’s exactly what we talked over and exactly what we 
did!” Gladys cried quickly, exultantly. Not till the last 
minute or two had she perceived just where Franklin was 
driving. Now she saw. Cordelia was being struck down 
—struck down—struck down!—and she was glad. “Cor¬ 
delia Marlowe kept demanding more money—and more 
money—and more money—but it was worth all I spent—for 
at last we trapped her!” 



As Franklin had piled swift lie upon swift lie, Cordelia's 
growing rage had been appalled into sheer inability to speak 
by the unbelievable audacity of it all. At the moment she 
could not conceive that any one would credit such prepos¬ 
terous lies. She had not feared Franklin and did not now 
fear him; and she had no fear of the outcome of this pre¬ 
posterous scene. But Gladys had gone too far! At these 
last glib, vindictive falsehoods of Gladys the rage in Cor¬ 
delia found its tongue. 

“Gladys Norworth!” she cried, crossing and facing 
Gladys in her fury, “you can’t tell such lies about me and 
still expect me to be loyal to you and shield you! You’ve 
been paying real blackmail, and you knew it! And you’ve 
been paying blackmail to Mr. Franklin! And I’m going to 
tell exactly why you were paying blackmail!” 

“Stop her, Mr. Franklin!” shrieked Gladys in sudden 
frenzy. “Stop her! For God’s sake, stop her!” 

But Franklin, for that moment, was interested in Gladys 
only in so far as she might serve to clear himself. Be¬ 
sides, he knew of no way of stopping Cordelia. 

“At last the world is going to know the exact secret you 
have been paying blackmail to have hushed up!”’ Cor¬ 
delia’s voice rang on. “And here it is. Because Frangois 
is your child ! Your illegitimate child !” 

A sudden hush filled the library. In her great anger, 
outraged beyond all bearing by insult after insult, in her 
righteous certainty of emerging a victor from this affair, 
Cordelia wheeled swiftly upon Franklin like a scorching 

“That’s what your witness is worth!” she cried in her 
mighty contempt. “All her life has been just a lie! Just 
as everything she has said against me has been a lie! Just 



lies! That’s what your charges against me have been built 

With that she turned her back squarely upon Franklin, 
and an erect, quivering, splendid figure, she stood gazing 
down into the green eyes of the appalled Gladys. 



Slowly Gladys shrank away from Cordelia, ashen pale, 
shivering, eyes wide with terror; stricken utterly dumb by 
the disaster she had been fighting off for years. Esther, 
Mitchell, Franklin, knew the truth, and their only shock was 
the shock of its suddenly being made public. But to Jerry 
Plimpton the thing came as an unbelievable surprise; he 
gazed across in bewildered stupefaction at Gladys, whose 
green eyes had turned their panic upon him. As for the re¬ 
porters, it is difficult to surprise sophisticated, hard-boiled 
men whose daily routine for years has been the tabulation of 
surprises; but these men were all gaping with astoundment 
at this latest development in the story of the wedding day of 
Cordelia Marlowe. 

For several moments the only sound in the library was 
tense, excited breathing. Then again Cordelia’s voice rang 
out in accusing triumph. 

“That’s the secret you’ve been paying blackmail for, 
Gladys Norworth! Frangois, your alleged adopted child, is 
really your own child! Your illegitimate child!” 

And then suddenly Gladys came out of her paralysis as if 
flung by a spring. 

“It’s a lie!” she gasped hysterically. “She’s lying, I tell 
you! I tell you it’s a lie—it’s a lie—it’s a lie!” 

She whirled about upon Esther and her frenzied hands 
clutched her step-sister. “Tell them it’s a lie, Esther! I 
can’t have people believe such a thing about me! Esther— 




Esther—remember what you promised! What you promised 
if ever the time came! The time’s come, Esther! Tell 
them, Esther—tell them as you promised! Your promise, 
Esther—your promise !” 

And then Esther Stevens, for one who had no gifts as an 
actress, performed a most excellent bit of acting. There 
was good reason for its excellence; for years she had been 
mentally rehearsing the business for some such scene as 
this, and the lines were riveted in her memory by the 
hammer of a thousand repetitions. Besides, she was acting 
for the biggest stake, the highest price, which life just then 
could offer her. 

She caught Gladys in her arms, as if to shield her, and 
eyed them all defiantly. 

'‘Gladys is right—it is all a lie!” she cried. "Gladys has 
tried to protect me, but I can’t let her suffer or pay for my 
fault any longer! Francois is my child! And since you 
make a point of the word—my illegitimate child!” 

They could only stare at her, all silent. 

"For years Gladys has paid blackmail to shield me!” 
Esther went on. "One or two persons even suspected that 
Gladys was the boy’s mother. So long as there was just 
this tiny bit of suspicion, so long as Gladys was just paying 
money, I could let her go on trying to protect me. But 
when Gladys is publicly accused of my guilt, then the time 
has come for me to clear her and admit the truth we’ve both 
tried to hide. There—you now all know who’s guilty, and 
just what is behind this whole blackmailing business!” 

Cordelia was the first to emerge from the general stupor. 

"But, Esther,” she protested, "you know what you’ve 
said is not so! You know you are not Frangois’ mother!” 

Esther wheeled on Cordelia with a manner which a truly 
great emotional actress might have envied. 


“Who are you,” she demanded, “to tell a mother that she 
is not the mother of her own child ?” 

Cordelia turned to Mitchell, and for the first time during 
this long scene she addressed him. 

“You know the truth, Mr. Mitchell. You know Esther is 
not the boy’s mother.” 

“I know nothing,” said Mitchell, “that would carry weight 
as evidence against the words of a woman who publicly 
stands forth and claims that a child is her illegitimate child.” 

In that dazing moment, Cordelia still retained enough 
sense to perceive that Mitchell had just uttered a profound 
human truth. 

Esther, facing them all defiantly, again spoke. “I have 
just this much more to say. Now that the truth is at last 
out, there is an end to all this blackmailing. I really have 
no name, and no high position that might be hurt, and I 
have no money of my own with which to buy silence, even 
if silence were now possible. And I want to say this also.” 
The ring of sincerity in her next words was not the ring of 
careful acting; it was the ring of genuine and great emotion. 
“Now that the truth is out, I am proud to be the mother of 
such a boy! And I hope he is going to be proud of me as a 
mother! At least I am going to be the best mother to him 
that I know how to be!” 

Again there was an awed hush for several moments. 
The figure of Esther, defiantly proud in her claim of il¬ 
legitimate maternity, dominated them all; dominated Cor¬ 
delia who knew but could not prove that she was lying. 

It was Franklin who ended the silence. 

“I think that we will all agree with what Miss Stevens has 
implied,” he said; “that we have just had revealed to us a 
truly noble example of sympathetic womanly instinct, in the 
way in which Miss Norworth has for years striven to shield 

3 12 


the good name of her step-sister. And we have had re¬ 
vealed to us the exact opposite of that noble, sympathetic 
womanly instinct, in the way in which Miss Marlowe has 
tried to attack the veracity of Miss Norworth by trying to 
fix upon her an undeserved shame. With your permission, 
after Miss Marlowe’s most reprehensible interruption, I 
shall again return to my narrative. I have only a few more 
words to add, and I shall address myself directly to you, 
Mr. Plimpton, since you are the person most concerned, and 
since to save you has been one of the chief aims of all I 
have done.” 

His voice, his entire aspect, suddenly changed. During 
the greater part of his long statement his manner had been 
apologetic, humbly propitiating, to win this originally hostile 
court to listen to him. Now his manner, his voice, had the 
driving, righteously denunciatory quality of a district at¬ 
torney who is at the end of his summing-up speech and who 
has proven all his charges against the prisoner at the bar. 

‘‘That’s my case, Mr. Plimpton!” he cried. “And I’ve 
proved it all! Proved part of it by Miss Marlowe’s own 
admissions, proved part of it by the numerous documents I 
showed, and proved it as a whole by Miss Norworth’s testi¬ 
mony and my own. Miss Marlowe entered into a con¬ 
spiracy to blackmail, and into a conspiracy to trap you into 
marriage. These last several months she has been keeping 
up her social position wholly upon blackmail money, and she 
has been using this blackmail money to help her lure you on 
into marriage!” 

At last Cordelia no longer regarded Franklin merely with 
contempt and anger, blinded by these hot, righteous 
emotions. At last she was seeing the devilish cunning of all 
the man had been saying; at last she was seeing the direction 
in which he was driving her. 


“It’s not true, Jerry!” she cried. “Not a word of it, ex¬ 
cept the things I told you! The rest of it’s lies—all lies!” 

Jerry’s figure was taut, his face white, set. Franklin 
gave him no chance to respond to Cordelia. 

“For the sake of the honor of the Plimpton name, Mr. 
Plimpton, I’ve tried not to carry this thing so far as this,”' 
Franklin went on quickly. “I tried my best to settle the 
whole matter privately, without publicity or scandal, so that 
your name would not be involved. But Miss Marlowe’s re¬ 
fusal to terminate your engagement, and thereby auto¬ 
matically closing and hushing up the whole business, has 
forced me to the present extreme measures. And even yet, 
Mr. Plimpton, I have not told you all my measures. Acting 
upon instructions from Miss Norworth, I have drawn up 
papers in a suit against Miss Marlowe to recover money se¬ 
cured through methods of extortion. You so instructed, 
Miss Norworth?” 

“Yes—yes!” Gladys exclaimed quickly, aquiver with 
wild exultant relief at now being free—free forever!—of 
any danger from the secret which had kept her in shivering 
fear for almost five years. And, oh—how she was getting* 
even with Cordelia!—paying her back! 

“For your sake, Mr. Plimpton,” Franklin continued, 
swiftly picking up while Gladys’ second “yes” was still in 
the air, “I prevailed on Miss Norworth to refrain from 
starting this suit until I had exhausted all efforts with Miss 
Marlowe. These papers have for some days been drawn up, 
ready for filing. I was to make what I knew to be the last 
possible appeal to Miss Marlowe this morning. I left in¬ 
structions with my law partner, Mr. Kedmore, that if 
he did not receive by telephone a satisfactory message by 
eleven o’clock to-day, he was immediately to file the papers 
in this suit.” Mr. Franklin drew out his watch and glanced 


at it. ‘‘It is almost twelve o’clock. These papers are now 
filed. They are now a matter of court record, they are now 
public property, and I daresay the newspapers have already 
taken note of them.” 

His last few sentences constituted one of the few facts 
Mr. Franklin had uttered in the whole of his long, care¬ 
fully built up statement. Those papers were a reality. At 
that moment they actually were on file. 

“But, Jerry—Jerry!” Cordelia spoke up frantically. 
“The amount they’re suing for is nothing—only twenty 
thousand dollars! We can pay it, and settle the case!” 

Again it was Franklin, not Jerry, who spoke. And he 
spoke without permitting an instant’s break. 

“The suit cannot now be settled. It is no longer a matter 
of money. It is now wholly a matter of principle, of duty 
to society at large: the showing up of a social adventuress, 
showing the world, for its own protection, the practice by 
which such a woman bleeds society, maintains herself in 
envied splendor, and carries out her schemes. I have given 
Miss Marlowe every chance to save herself and to save 
others; and having given her every chance, both Miss Nor- 
worth and I are now determined to force this action for¬ 
ward, in its every detail, to the very last extremity! And 
I feel that I should say to you, Mr. Plimpton, that whether 
you marry Miss Marlowe or not, this suit will be pressed on 
to its bitter finish! And I should also again remind you, 
Mr. Plimpton, that every charge that has been made we shall 
prove in court!” 

“Jerry!” breathed Cordelia— “It’s not true! None of it! 
It’s not true!” 

“It is true!” cried Franklin in his now terrible voice. 
“But even were it not true—and it all is!—here is a matter 
for Mr. Plimpton to consider: even if it is not true, the 


world, the whole world, will believe it is true! Mr. Plimp¬ 
ton still is not married to Miss Marlowe. It is still in his 
power to decide whether he wishes to give the splendid, the 
honored name of Plimpton to a woman whom all the world 
will know to be an adventuress, who all the world will 
know has kept up her social show with money blackmailed 
from society! It is still in Mr. Plimpton’s power to de¬ 
cide whether he wishes to try to place a woman of such a 
reputation in the position once occupied by his mother!” 

Cordelia had a sense that she was falling—falling—fall¬ 
ing; dizzily falling with infinite swiftness, falling to an in¬ 
finite depth of black disaster. But Jerry there—Jerry with 
the strength of his great position in the world—Jerry could 
defy all these people—Jerry still could save her! Save her 
by a word! As Jerry’s wife, all these slanderous lies against 
her would collapse to nothingness! 

‘‘Jerry!” she whispered pleadingly. “Jerry! . . . 
Jerry! . . 

For a single moment, Jerry met the wild entreaty in her 
eyes. Then his gaze shifted from her. There followed a 
moment of breathless waiting, all eyes on Jerry. Perhaps 
Jerry himself never knew just what passed in his brain 
during that moment. But Franklin had analyzed his man 
with a scientist’s precision; his last words had beeen aimed 
with the unerring skill of the perfect marksman who 
is sure of the vital spot. These last words must have been 
what filled the whole of Jerry’s brain for the space of that 
long tense moment. Perhaps it was true about Cordelia, 
perhaps not. But even if not, all the world would believe it 
true, and would always believe it true. And a woman of 
whom the world believed such things—as his wife—in his 
mother’s place—in that proud white yacht—in the camp in 
the Adirondacks—in the marble cottage at Newport—in the 



great Fifth Avenue house, all prepared to throw open its 
splendors in just a few more days— 

“Jerry!” Cordelia^ whispered, faintly, huskily, still with 
that sense of falling, falling, falling—but of not yet in her 
swift descent having reached the bottom—“Jerry! . . . 
Jerry! . . . 

He kept his eyes from her, and still did not speak. 

Once more Franklin’s was the prompting voice that 
moved affairs onward. 

“We should perhaps give a little consideration to the 
newspaper men,” he said softly. “They came here to get 
the details of your marriage, Mr. Plimpton. I’m sure some 
of them have afternoon editions which they are eager to 
catch. In order that we may excuse them, Mr. Plimpton, 
perhaps you have something to say concerning the plans for 
your wedding.” 

Jerry’s figure tightened. He still avoided Cordelia’s 
eyes; he looked at no one—just looked straight ahead of 
him, into space. He swallowed. Then he spoke. His 
words were strained, yet had the precision of a determined 

“Perhaps it may be just as well to announce now,” he 
said, “that there will be no marriage. My engagement to 
Miss Marlowe no longer exists.” 

Cordelia gave a silent gasp, shivered away from him, 
caught a chair, and stood staring at him. But though still 
falling, falling, she did not faint. 

It was Mitchell who was now the first to speak. He 
crossed the room in three swift strides, and caught Jerry 
Plimpton by the shoulder and shook him furiously. 

“You God-damned cad!” he cried, his tone half snarl, 
half roar. “You God-damned skunk! You could have 
saved Miss Marlowe if you’d stood by her like even half a 


man, and not been thinking only of your damned Plimpton 

Jerry quivered, but his voice was cold, composed. 

“What you think of me does not interest me in the 
slightest, so I do not care to bother to reply to you. I will 
say this, however: that whom I marry, and whom I do not 
marry, is a matter which is entirely my own concern, and is 
not the concern of any other man.” 

This was an indubitable truth. For the instant it left 
Mitchell without a word in his mouth. 

“I have only this single remark to address to you,” con¬ 
tinued Jerry. “Kindly remove your hand from my person.” 

Choking in his anger, Mitchell did so. 

Again Franklin tried to push the proceedings forward. 
“If Miss Norworth’s former butler has nothing further to 

“I have plenty to say!” shouted the wildly wrathful 
Mitchell. “And part of it’s going to be about you, you 
damned liar, you damned crook of a lawyer!” 

“May I remind you,” Franklin said evenly, “that there is 
such a thing as a law for libel.” 

“Your libel law can’t touch me for what I’m going to say 
now, for it’s the truth!” Mitchell shouted. He suddenly 
turned on Gladys and seized her arm. “Gladys Norworth^ 
do you think you can help out in a game like this, and not 
have to pay for it? Well, you and these people can’t get 
away with a thing like this! You can’t get away with it! 
For now I’ve got something to tell! You hear me—I’ve got 
something to tell!” 

He paused, as if to set himself the better to deliver his 
forthcoming blow. Gladys stared at him in quivering fear- 
—fear of she knew not what. 

“Yes?—yes?” breathed Cordelia with faint eagerness, 



stretching forth a shaking hand from her vast depth, as if 
to her last saviour. 

“Yes, please go on,” urged Franklin. His voice was 
easy, composed, but behind that composure had risen a swift 
indefinite dread. 

And then, while they all, waiting, fearful, gazed at him, 
the hot wrath died down in Mitchell. Or perhaps it might 
be more correct to say that he regained control of that 
wrath and forced it down. 

“After all, I was mistaken,” he said. “I have nothing to 

Mitchell moved back to his former place against the wall. 
Great relief showed in Gladys’" face, and perhaps as great a 
relief was felt within Franklin, though he gave no sign of 
what he felt 

“Since Mr. Mitchell has nothing to say,” remarked 
Franklin, “then I beg to be allowed to say just one thing 
more. This is to the gentlemen from the newspapers. 
Since you gentlemen have the fact that Mr. Plimpton has 
broken his engagement to Miss Marlowe and there is after 
all to be no marriage, and since you have the further fact 
that suit has been filed against Miss Marlowe to recover 
money extorted through blackmailing practices, I think that 
you may feel perfectly safe, with no danger from libel laws, 
in using just as you see fit anything you may have heard or 
seen here this morning. I am no judge of news values, but 
taken all in all it seems to me that the material should make 
a very interesting story. And that,” pleasantly concluded 
Mr. Franklin, “that, I believe, is all.” 

And, indeed, that was all. A tame, flat finish to the ex¬ 
citement of accusation and counter-accusation that had gone 
before; the people now speaking in whispers, or shuffling 
silently out of the library. 


So dazed was Cordelia from the blow which had fallen 
upon her, so dizzy from her fall, that after Franklin’s last 
word she hardly knew what she did, or what was done to 
her. In her numb pain she was at best just a silent, slow 
automaton; a bit of human furniture that was pushed here, 
pulled there. Afterwards she had a dim memory of 
pulling off her engagement ring, and Jerry’s other presents, 
and letting them fall to the library floor, not noticing Jerry 
so far as to hand him the gifts. And afterwards she had a 
dim memory of Gladys dragging her into a corner, some¬ 
where, and gloating over her, and saying, "I told you I’d 
get even with you!— I told you I’d get even with you!— 
but God, I never dreamed it would be as good as this!” 

Some one—at the moment she didn’t note who—led her 
silently out and put her in a car. And then this some one 
silently transferred from Jerry’s Hispano-Suiza to this other 
car her bag containing her intimate bridal glories. And then 
this some one silently got in beside her. Only then did she 
become conscious that the person next her was Mitchell, and 
that she was in Mitchell’s car, and that the some one who had 
silently taken charge of her since she had been stricken help¬ 
less was Mitchell. 

And thus, hardly more than an hour after Cordelia Mar¬ 
lowe had driven magnificently up to her wedding day, Cor¬ 
delia Marlowe, slumped and huddled and benumbed, drove 
ingloriously away from it. 



One brief episode happened as this silent pair drove to¬ 
ward the city; and the telling of this episode shall conclude 
the record of what happened that day at Rolling Meadows, 
so far as events there concern this history. 

Gladys and Franklin were in the midst of a scene of ex¬ 
tremely private but extremely enthusiastic congratulations, 
when word was brought to her that Esther wished to see her 
immediately in Esther’s sitting-room. When Gladys en¬ 
tered, Esther was standing, hat and coat on, over one arm 
Frangois’ cap and overcoat, and on the door near her were 
two big travelling-bags. Esther’s usually gentle face was 
Lard, her eyes were flashing. 

‘"Why, what’s this all about, Esther?” exclaimed Gladys. 

“Do you think, after what’s happened this morning, I’d 
stay a minute longer than I had to in this house?” Esther 
whispered intensely. “You—you sneaking little beast, you!” 

“But—but—Esther—” stammered Gladys. 

“That’s what you’ve always been!” cried the other, “a 
crawling, cringing, sneaking, cowardly, treacherous little 
beast! I was sorry for Miss Marlowe this morning—what 
you helped do to her! I was sorry for her, but I couldn’t 
have done much for her. The most I could have done 
would have been to say that you really were Frangois’ 
mother, but that wouldn’t have really done her much good, 
the way things were going. Besides, it was my chance at 



last to get Frangois! Except for Frangois, I’d never have 
stood you these last few years! And now, thank God, I 
don't have to stand you any longer for Frangois’ sake!” 

"But—but, Esther—I—I don’t understand?” 

"Oh, yes, you do understand! But I’ll put it in plain 
words, so there won’t be any mistake. I’m leaving your 
house—forever! I’m taking Frangois away with me—for¬ 
ever ! I don’t want to see you again—forever! I don’t in¬ 
tend Frangois to see you again—forever! There, is that 
plain enough for you?” 

"But, Esther,” ejaculated Gladys, "you can’t do such a 
thing! Frangois really is my child, and I’m not going to 
let him go!” 

"Your child—your child!” the other cried contemp¬ 
tuously. "After you just denied him, in public, down in 
the library! And after, to save yourself, you made me ad¬ 
mit down there that he was my child! Oh, what a poor 
little coward and cheat you are! There’s one thing I can’t 
understand: how you could be the mother of such a wonder¬ 
ful boy as Frangois! He certainly got none of his qualities 
from you. After all, despite what we know about his 
father, there must have been a streak of something big and 
fine in the man; certainly there was no other place for 
Frangois to have got his good points from!” 

Esther’s voice changed from contempt to defiant, un¬ 
changing purpose. The denied maternity which was per¬ 
haps the strongest impulse in Esther’s spinster life* now 
rang out in motherhood’s fiercest, most primal tones. 

"I told the world Frangois is mine! And from now on 
he’s going to be all mine! You hear—all mine! And I’m 
taking him away!” 

"No, you’re not!” exclaimed Gladys, with sudden fierce¬ 
ness of her own. "I won’t let you!” 



After all, Gladys did have mother love of a sort for her 
son; but her love was hardly more than a weakly and 
spasmodically fluttering emotion compared to the overwhelm¬ 
ing selfless passion that was Esther’s. 

“You won’t let me?” cried Esther. “You can’t stop 
me! I’ve kept my promise to you! Only two people alive 
know who really is the mother of Frangois—know it so they 
can prove it! You and I. You made me promise, in case 
you were ever about to be found out publicly, that I would 
say I was the mother. No one could prove I wasn’t. I 
gave you my promise on one condition: that was your 
promise that if ever I did save you by saying he was my 
child, then you were to let him become entirely mine. I’ve 
kept my promise! Now you’ve got to keep your promise!” 

“I won’t do it!” snapped Gladys, with sullen obstinance. 
“I never thought it really would ever turn out like this, and 
it’s not fair of you to try to hold a mother to any such 

“You’d try to back out of it, would you? Well, so can 
I back out! And I’ll back out of it in a way that will make 
you sick all your life!” 

Gladys looked frightened. 


“You ought to know how! It’s simple enough. I’ve 
just said that you and I are the only two people that really 
know how to get the proof of who is the mother of Frangois. 
Well, I’ll get all the proof—certified copies of all documents, 
even if I have to cover every square foot of France to get 
them—and I’ll prove who is the real mother! And I’ll 
prove you are his mother, and I’ll make it all public!” 

“Esther—you wouldn’t do a thing like that?” 

“Wouldn’t I? I’ve heard a lot of talk about blackmail 
to-day—people being forced to do things by threats of ex- 


posure. I may be talking blackmail talk right now; and if 
so, let me say that there isn’t a form of blackmail invented 
that I wouldn’t use against you to make you keep your 
promise! And I’ll certainly expose you if you fail me! 
Now, do you keep your promise?” 

There was a pause. The two women gazed fixedly at 
each other. 

“All right—yes,” said Gladys weakly. 

“That promise has got to include something else. I’ve 
thought it all out. Something might some time happen— 
perhaps a legal technicality—where I might want to pro¬ 
tect Franqois and couldn’t. If it came right down to real 
proof, I could never prove I’m his mother, and so be able 
to protect him and provide for him through the fact of 
being his mother. So I’m going to adopt him all over again 
and it’s going to be a one hundred per cent legal adoption. 
He’ll be no longer adopted jointly by the two of us. You 
have got to renounce all claim to him, in every legal way I 
may require, and you’ve got to do everything else necessary 
to help me secure his full adoption by me. That’s got to be 
part of your promise!” 

Again there was a pause, as the two gazed at each other. 

“All right,” Gladys sullenly agreed. 

“Then that’s all. Except to say that Franqois and I shall 
not need, and certainly shall not accept, a penny of your 
money. What Francois may lack in luxury, he will more 
than be compensated for by being free from the contami¬ 
nating influence of your person. And now good-bye! 
Never before was I so glad to say two words as I am to 
say to you— good-bye!” 

And so about an hour after Cordelia and Mitchell drove 
through the great arched entrance to the estate of Rolling 
Meadows, Esther and the boy who was now all hers also 

3 2 4 


drove through that entrance,, and for the last time. Of 
course the newspapers learned of this second departure. 
They treated Gladys with marked consideration in the 
matter; Gladys saw to it that they got the hint which gave 
them the proper angle upon the regrettable affair. The 
papers said—no, they did not put it so bluntly as this; but 
their intimation was clear—the papers intimated that since 
Miss NorwortlTs step-sister had publicly admitted herself 
the mother of an illegitimate child, Miss Norworth, out of 
deference to the ordinary standards of decency and to main¬ 
tain the irreproachable propriety of her home, had had to 
perform the painful duty of requesting her unfortunate 
step-sister to withdraw from Rolling Meadows and with 
her child to retire into obscurity. 



A gentleman occupying the place of topmost honor in 
the somewhat punishing art of pugilism, while speaking 
upon the subject of the challengers to his fame, is credited 
with having grimly snapped out the remark that “The bigger 
they come, the harder they fall!” This rather inelegant but 
classic colloquialism may perhaps be applied with equal fit¬ 
ness to those who challenge for the championships of life 
which are contended for outside the squared ring. 

Cordelia had been a big figure in her world; among the 
younger people, none bigger. And she had fallen hard. 
How very hard, how very, very far, she was still too 
stunned to realize as she drove away from Rolling Meadows 
at almost exactly the hour she had confidently expected mar¬ 
riage to crown her as life’s most brilliant champion. How 
hard she had been hit, how hard she had fallen, how un¬ 
believably far had been her fall, she was not to realize fully 
until days later when her head had had time to clear and she 
could measure all that had happened. 

As she and Mitchell drove back to the city, little was said 
between the two; only a few sentences. At the time Cor¬ 
delia hardly knew what they were saying; her own few 
words were mechanical; not until long after did her stunned 
memory, then partially recovered, report to her their brief 

Mitchell was the first of the two to say a word and they 




were almost in the city when he spoke. Perhaps he had 
sensed that, before this, she would not even have heard him. 

“I want to apologize,” he began, “for the things I said 
to you that day in the taxicab. Not till to-day did I realize 
how terribly unjust I had been, and how terribly mistaken.” 

“Don’t apologize,” replied her low mechanical voice. 
“What you said then was all true. Only—I didn’t then 
know it.” 

He let a minute pass before he spoke again. 

“At least one good thing has come to you out of all that’s 
happened to-day. You’ve found out the sort Jerry Plimpton 
really is. Found it out before you were married to him. 
Think of being married to such a man, and then afterwards 
finding out there was no loyalty in him, no real regard for 
any one except himself!” 

Mitchell’s voice had been soothingly calm, but it now 
flamed into violence. 

“The cad! The damned beastly cad!” 

She made no reply to this. He subsided into his former 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t help you,” he went on. “This—this 
just wasn’t my day. I lost my head at the last and started 
to say something, and it almost got away from me. But 
I caught myself just in time. Saying it just then wouldn’t 
have done you a bit of good. But saving it and saying it 
at another time—well, I’m hoping there’ll come another 

Not until days after did she wonder what it was he 
had almost said and did not say. Just then she only re¬ 
marked in her dull voice: 

“No, you couldn’t have helped. And I didn’t expect 
you to help.” 

Again his calm flamed into violence. 


3 2 7 

“Oh, but I wish I could make them pay! And if things 
come right, I will make Gladys pay! And if luck, or life, 
should ever turn up the right card, how I’d love to make 
Jerry Plimpton pay—that beast of a cad! And Franklin. 
Franklin, too! 

“But it’s too much to expect even of crazy luck to give 
me a chance at a man like Franklin. He’s forever got the 
deck stacked, and his sleeves are full of aces; and he’s too 
smooth, too tricky a lawyer ever to be caught. If he’s ever 
caught it will be because he’s made some little slip when he’s 
tried to be too clever. New.Yqrk is filled with just such 
clever, scheming, deck-stacking lawyers, and they’re never 
caught, except now and then one, not much worse than the 
rest, like little Abe Hummel. 

“But Gladys and Jerry Plimpton—by their birth and 
breeding we’ve a right to expect better of them than of 
Franklin. They’re the two I want to get! If ever I prayed 
for anything, it’s this—that sometime I can make them 

This outburst she received in silence. When he again 
spoke his voice was once more composed. 

“About Esther, I admire her a lot, even though I’ve 
teased and irritated her a lot; I could hardly avoid that, 
since in the matter that has been the basis of my teasing, 
she and Gladys have in a way been one person. You and 
I both know Esther lied about being Frangois’ mother, but 
I couldn’t have proved it. She couldn’t have helped you 
much, either. She likes you well enough, I think. But 
about Frangois she is simply crazy. Against such a love as 
that you could hardly expect her to give much consideration 
to you. What Esther did to-day, I’m sure she did because 
she was thinking wholly of Frangois.’’ 

“I don’t blame Esther at all,” said Cordelia. 

3 2 8 


Days later, when her mind went back to this talk, the 
foregoing was all that she recalled. 

From that terrible hour in Gladys’ library until days later, 
chronology did not exist for Cordelia. Time was just an 
endless, unvarying string on which were strung hours that 
were exquisite beads of pain, undistinguishable from each 
other in their perfectly matched agony. And there was to 
her no orderly sequence of events; things just happened, 
swiftly, coming from each and every direction, everything 
painful—all blurred together. Since there was no chron¬ 
ology and no sequence in Cordelia’s life as she then lived it, 
there shall be none in this portion of her history. Each 
series of related events, and related emotions, shall be 
grouped together and tied into a single compact parcel. 

There was Mrs. Marlowe. There is no expressing the 
utter confoundment, the stabbing, bewildered dismay of 
that lady when she had the first news of the disaster, and 
when each day piled on its further disaster. In her own 
way, she had her soul all poised for a flight through majestic 
bliss, and her eagerness and certainty had been as great as 
Cordelia’s own. Therefore her fall was very like Cordelia’s 
fall. She did not blame Cordelia; hers was not a recrim¬ 
inating nature. She wept and wailed and walked helplessly 
through the cruel bewildering days. But all of Mrs. Mar¬ 
lowe cannot go in a single bundle; bits of her must be dis¬ 
tributed through the other parcels. 

There was the social fall. Mr. Franklin, in Gladys’ library, 
had stated hesitatingly and with seeming modesty—the mod¬ 
esty here was all in the seeming, for the keenest news editor 
in New York City did not have a quicker or surer sense of 
news value than Mr. Franklin—that what he had brought 
out and pieced together might possibly make a rather in¬ 
teresting newspaper story. It did: to the extent of columns 



and columns in every New York newspaper, on that and 
subsequent days; and columns and columns in every paper 
of consequence through the country that either paid for a 
New York press service or stole it. In fact it was so much 
“a rather interesting story” that it was altogether the most 
interesting story with a society angle of that year. 

And the social effect? Just set down items and figure 
your own answer. Take a spectacularly brilliant young 
woman of society; engage her to a gentleman of highest 
family, who is admittedly the best man, matrimonially 
speaking, at that time extant; have it stated, and generally 
believed, that for a long time this young woman has 
been maintaining her social brilliance through blackmail; 
have it stated, and generally believed, that through the 
use of this extorted money she has been able to lure 
this very fine young man almost to the very altar; have 
it stated, and have it a matter of court record, that 
suit is being brought (by none other than that well-known 
figure, Miss Gladys Norworth, who has been secretly and 
splendidly protecting her unfortunate step-sister these many 
years) to recover the funds extorted by blackmail; and have 
this fine young man of most irreproachable personal record 
and of unmatchable family show his own belief in all these 
things by jilting the young woman on what was to have been 
their romantic wedding day; have it stated, and have it be¬ 
lieved, and have it a matter of actual fact, that this spectacu¬ 
larly brilliant young woman and her family have not one 
penny of their fortune left; take all of these things, and 
however splendid the young woman’s standings at the start, 
what have you left? 

The answer is very simple. You have left exactly what 
the crowding, craning spectators saw at the bottom of the 
wall after Humpty Dumpty was quite through with his his- 

33 ° 


toric tumble. Cordelia knew this; and she knew that the 
rest of the tragic lines also fitted her: that all the King’s 
horses and all the King’s men could never put together again 
her once splendid social figure. And this much can be put 
down to the credit of her sense, when her sense did begin to 
return, that she did not indulge in any vague, wild dreams 
of regaining what she had lost, of valiantly reconquering 
society’s respect. Socially, she was ended, forever and for¬ 
ever. If she was to have a further life, it was to be life of a 
very different sort. 

Then there was the financial fall. 

If this history, particularly in the pages which follow, 
seems to be largely about the sordid unromantic detail of 
money, it should be remembered that, for people who have 
less money than they spend, money is the most poignantly 
dramatic theme of life. Its feverish suspense never sub¬ 
sides, its high emotion knows no fall. Compared to it, love 
is a mere placid day-dreamy flutter—merely the heart turn¬ 
ing over on its other side during a pleasant sleep. 

All their lives the lack of money had been the tragic skele¬ 
ton in the Marlowe family closet; it now stalked forth and 
filled their entire stage. For years they had been living be¬ 
yond their income, always deeply in debt; for months they 
had had no income that was bona fide; recently, with the 
unlimited credit eagerly urged upon them in view of Cor¬ 
delia’s marriage, they had bought right and left, spending 
thousands upon thousands of dollars which they did not 
have. And now they were practically penniless; the only 
real money they had in sight was the twenty-five hundred 
dollars annuity which came from Mr. Marlowe’s life-in¬ 
surance policy. This tragic situation, Gladys, with her in¬ 
fallible aptitude for finding a way to give pain, had sensed 
instantly. It suited her vengeance, and her personal safety 



(as also those of Mr. Franklin) for Cordelia to be crushed 
utterly, in every possible way; for if Cordelia possessed, or 
should regain, any strength or standing, then each saw her 
as a danger—she might somehow say things that somehow 
some one might believe. Gladys could not deny her exultant 
spite the further pleasure of personally assisting in and 
speeding up this financial disaster; and so, on the very day 
of the scene in her library, with Mr. Franklin’s assistance, 
she called up the Marlowe creditors whose names she could 
learn and informed them that the Marlowes were done for 
and they’d better hurry if they wanted their money. And 
the creditors descended. 

But here this tying of related disasters into bundles and 
cataloguing them should perhaps be interrupted a moment 
for the interpolation of a fact of somewhat different charac¬ 
ter. This other fact was Mitchell. From the hour when he 
had quietly taken possession of Cordelia in Gladys’ library, 
he seemed quietly to have become a part of the Marlowe 
household. He was never intrusive, but was always present 
when a man could help. This was the first time a man had 
been around the Marlowe home, in any kind of a family 
capacity, since the late Mr. Marlowe had taken that awkward 
dive over the head of his favorite polo pony; and for an 
emergency such as this, the present man was much the better 
captain of affairs. The creditors came full of bully and 
bluff; Mitchell gave them back bully and bluff. The cred¬ 
itors were as hard as nails; Mitchell saw the justice of their 
side, but Mitchell was hard as knives and steel-jacketed 
bullets. He told them flatly what their best chances were for 
a settlement: there were no assets beyond the furnishings 
of the apartment which were to be sold promptly and the 
proceeds divided proportionately. Their only other chance 
—absolutely their only other chance—of getting a penny 



upon their damned bills, which were all made up of swindlers' 
prices anyhow, was to take back all recent purchases, unused 
or used, and give credit for the original purchase prices. 
The shopkeepers raved at his audacity; but in the end they 
all carried away the smart articles which they had sold at 
a pleasant one hundred or two hundred per cent 

Mrs. Marlowe and Cordelia sometimes listened through 
door cracks to these arbitration conferences, and Mrs. Mar¬ 
lowe would blink at Cordelia over the language of this new 
man in the house. Cordelia had never heard Mitchell really 
swear before; his talk with her, except that time in the 
taxicab, however serious his purpose might have been, had 
always had the character of persiflage. She had heard 
people speak of the way soldiers swear. Well, if general 
ability as a swearer was an index of ability as a soldier, 
then Mitchell was undoubtedly that much debated person, 
the man who won the Great War. 

Then there was Lily; the effect of all this upon Lily’s 
life. Mrs. Marlowe wept with sympathy over how her 
youngest was now to have no chance; and shivered with 
apprehension over the hard way in which Lily would take 
the blow. Cordelia also felt acute anguish for Lily, and 
blamed herself for bringing Lily down in her disaster. She 
also knew how hard the spoiled, self-centered, pleasure-lov¬ 
ing Lily would take the results of that disaster as they af¬ 
fected her. 

But their great surprise was how Lily really did take it. 
They jointly wrote her of the misfortune—Lily had gleaned 
the main facts much earlier from the papers—and here is 
part of what the spoiled, unthinking, frivolous child wrote 
from Miss Harcourt’s polite finishing school: 



Sorry for you Mums and Cordie—sorry as hell! 
Say, Cordie sure got handed one rotten deal! If I was 
allowed to tote a gun like a lady ought to be there’s 
some damned birds I’d shoot up so they’d be fit for 
nothing except to be cut up in little pieces and peddled 
around for button-holes. But don’t you people at home 
worry none about me. I was all fed up on this school 
before I was even fed my first bite of it. Anyhow I’d 
never be comfortable trying to be a lady. Think I’ll 
go into business. Guess I’ll start as a stenographer; 
I’ve already got most of the education to make a good 
one; I can chew gum. Where do I go from here? 
And when? 

“She takes it very bravely,” sniffed Mrs. Marlowe after 
reading this—“though—though I did hope she’d stay at Miss 
Harcourt’s until she learned not to swear.” 

Lily’s school represented another financial problem. Mrs. 
Marlowe, at the beginning of the school year a few weeks 
earlier, had been in funds, owing to a little saving she had 
done and to a recent monthly check from Mr. Franklin; and 
so had been able to meet Miss Harcourt’s inflexible rule of 
“full amount of fees payable in advance” and had written 
her check for three thousand dollars. These facts she re¬ 
lated to Mitchell; also further facts. Lily would have to 
come straight home; they simply didn’t have the money 
for her “extras,” and “extras” at Miss Harcourt’s amounted 
to almost as much as the regular fees. And then there was 
still another printed rule “no fees returned in case a pupil is 
removed during the school year,” and that was a rule Miss 
Harcourt never broke. To think of it—to have paid in 
advance three thousand dollars which they could not use 
and could not get back! 



Mitchell quietly suggested that they let him go out and 
bring Lily home. They let Mitchell do it. 

Miss Harcourt received him with dignified aloofness. He 
was pleasantly, almost obsequiously polite, but Miss Har¬ 
court did not know him and sensed no danger in his ex¬ 
treme politeness. Yes, she’d been expecting they’d come to 
take Lily out of school after—after such disgraceful happen¬ 
ings. It really was most inconsiderate toward her school, 
even if she were driven to say it (she said it with majestic 
severity) for a family to keep a child in Harcourt Hall after 
the family had been involved in such a scandal. After such 
a scandal—the child still in Harcourt Hall! No, she could 
not return any part of the fee; that was never done under 
any circumstances. Never. Yes, he could see Lily; and 
he’d please tell Lily to hurry about packing her things. 
Yes, he could see Miss Harcourt again for a moment— 
but only just one moment—as he was taking Lily away. 

Mitchell saw Lily. They took to each other as sponge to 
water, as flowers to rain. In five minutes these two had 
known each other forever. She was as flippant with him 
as she might have been with Cordelia. 

“Say, you nursling,” he growled in mock severity at one 
of her audacities, “you half-ounce bottle of pap&ka—cut 
out the rough talk! Like to have me turn you over my knee 
and spank you?” 

“Sure I would!” she said heartily. “I’d like ’most any¬ 
thing you’d do to me!” 

“Hold on there, Cleopatra! Don’t you try to turn your 
just punishment into a means of being too intimate with me! 
I guess, for the sake of self-protection, I’d better tell you 
something; on the q. t. you understand. Here it is: if 
things work out the way I intend them to work out, one of 
these days I’m going to be your brother-in-law.” 



“You mean Gordie? Holy mackerel, Cordie is a quick 
worker! Or else she carries a lot of spare parts! But, 
gee, this is some blow. Here you tell me you’re going to be 
my brother in-law, and here was I getting all primed up to 
slip in to Cordie when I got home and tell her you were 
going to be her brother-in-law! Hell, but this’s a hard 

“See here—let’s change the subject 1 —quick! I’m too 
young to be talking to an old woman of the world like you. 

“All the same, you should feel sympathy for me. I’ve 
always been unlucky in love.” 

“Cut it out, I say! Let’s get down to business. That old 
hen downstairs— But we needn’t go into that. Will you 
,do something unpleasant for me?” 

“Bless you, old bean 1 —sure. I’ve already done some¬ 
thing unpleasant for your sake. Mighty unpleasant. I’ve 
given you up!” 

“You!” He made as if to slap her, then grinned. 
“Listen, I’m serious. Would you be willing to stay on here 
in this school, where they don’t want you—if I told you to?” 

She made a vinegary face. “Oh, all right. Yes, if you 
tell me to I’ll stick on here till hell—even longer than that— 
till Miss Harcourt grows real hair under her wig.” 

“I’ll be back in about five minutes and tell you whether 
it’ll be that long.” 

He re-entered Miss Harcourt’s room, smiling pleasantly, 
a bit of paper in his right hand. 

“About the money, Miss Harcourt—” 

She interrupted him sharply, severely. 

“I have already informed you that no fees are ever re¬ 
funded !” 

“Oh, that money. I wasn’t thinking of that money. I 



meant this money.” And he handed her the bit of paper he 

“What’s this?” He did not answer and she held it out 
at arm’s length to examine it; being farsighted, she could 
not read print or writing without her spectacles, except in 
this manner; and she never lowered the Harcourt dignity 
by wearing spectacles in public. “A check! And for— 
why—for nine thousand dollars! What’s this check for?” 

“For nine thousand dollars. At least that’s what I wrote 
it for.” 

“Sir—are you trying to be flippant?” she asked sternly. 
“I mean what is this money for?” 

“Oh, I beg pardon,” he said apologetically. “Perhaps I 
really hadn’t made that altogether plain. You see it’s like 
this,” he went on amiably. “I’m a sort of relative of the 
family; this tangle’s pretty much up to me. And that Lily, 
she’s suddenly fallen on me as a sort of ward. After talk¬ 
ing to her I rather think she’d be a nuisance; anyhow I can’t 
have her around me. But it’s up to me to take care of her. 
So since she’s already here, it strikes me that the easiest way 
out of the mess for me is just to keep her here.” 

“Keep her here!” gasped Miss Harcourt. 

“Yes. You see, when she was first entered in Harcourt 
Hall it was on the understanding that she was to remain 
through the usual four years; so keeping her here will just 
be carrying out the original bargain. I hate to be bothered 
with bills, particularly when I’ve cash idle in my bank. So 
now you know what that nine thousand is for. It’s to pay 
the balance for keeping Lily here four years.” 

Miss Harcourt stared and gaped, and the Harcourt dew¬ 
lap made spasmodic gestures for help. 

“Four years—four years—” And then Miss Harcourt 



utterly forgot all the elegancies of Miss Harcourt. “Of all 
the nerve!” she exploded. 

The upshot was that Miss Harcourt did a thing which 
pained her more than any pain she had suffered in her long 
and respectable career. She refunded money from the 
Harcourt treasury; an even three thousand she finally made 
it, rather than accept the alternative Mitchell so pleasantly 
offered her. And of course she refused the check for nine 
thousand. However, she had a long waiting list; a letter 
would at once bring another girl in Lily’s place; and there 
was another Harcourt rule which read “No reduction in the 
annual fees for pupils entering after the beginning of the 
school year.” 

And so Mitchell and Lily drove away with the three-thou- 
sand-dollar check. And Lily, as she told him, being uncer¬ 
tain in her mind as to whether her future status was to be 
that of his wife or his sister, overlooked neither bet and 
snuggled close to him and joyously hugged him all the way 
into town. 



Of course as soon as her spirits began to lift themselves 
slowly out of their dazed stupor, Cordelia, being human, 
wished for vengeance, vindication. Oh, how she wished for 
vengeance and vindication! Perhaps she had been a fool— 
undoubtedly she had been made one—but how she would 
love to strike back, and strike back, and strike back again, 
at Gladys and Franklin—make known to everybody their 
treachery and perfidy. And how she yearned to make the 
world admit that almost all these terrible things it believed 
against her, were only lies!—the lies of these two! 

But even as this desire flamed up from the ruins of her 
pride, there rose with it, chilling it back into her pride’s 
ashes, the conviction that if ever she were revenged and vin¬ 
dicated, revenge and vindication must come from some 
other source than herself. That very desire was no more 
than an impotent gesture of the old Cordelia Marlowe. 
That old all-confident Cordelia Marlowe, who could do any¬ 
thing and everything, was now quite dead; she was without 
strength, without power of any kind. 

And so, although the desire for revenge and vindication 
lived in her, flamed into white heat at times, hope of these 
was entirely gone. 

The financial adjustment, the domestic rearrangement, of 
the household were of necessity radical and rapid. Within 
two weeks they were out of the Park Avenue apartment; 




it was a highly desirable apartment and Mitchell, by his 
same unabashable methods of bargaining, had sublet it for 
the balance of the period of the Marlowe lease for a thou¬ 
sand a year advance upon the Marlowe rental, and this 
windfall was of course a help. The furniture had been sold 
to the last kitchen chair—Mitchell compelled decent prices— 
and the proceeds were turned over to the creditors, Mitchell 
demanding and getting receipts in full. Mrs Marlowe had 
decided to retire to some small, obscure city where living 
expenses were comparatively low; upon her income she 
could no longer afford New York, and her pride could not 
countenance the probability of her meeting, in her now re¬ 
duced circumstances, the friends and satellites of her reign¬ 
ing days. Cordelia was remaining in New York to try to 
make her own way; and Lily elected to stay with Cordelia. 
Lily, after much discussion, was given by her mother an al¬ 
lowance of fifteen dollars a week—she would not take more; 
Cordelia refused to accept anything whatever. 

In such manner, and upon such terms, the Marlowe fam¬ 
ily parted and began its effort to start life afresh. 

There was one financial matter which troubled Cordelia 
more than all others. This was the humiliating twenty 
thousand dollars she had received: Franklin’s or Gladys’ 
money—the money they were suing to recover. How she 
did itch to return that money—if only she could!—and feel 
herself cleansed of at least this much of her soilment. 

“Now don’t you worry about that money,” Mitchell or¬ 
dered her. “Gladys and Franklin are tickled to death with 
having spent it! Neither of them ever before got so much 
for his or her money in his or her life! They certainly got 
a bargain. And here’s another way of looking at the whole 
situation: by rights, if you only had the evidence, you should 
be suing each of them for about ten million for defamation 



of character. At the very least they owe you that much. 
So stop the worry.” 

Mitchell made another point. “Now about that suit— 
don’t you worry there either. That suit is just a grandstand 
play on their part. Just a play for publicity. I’ll hire a ten- 
dollar lawyer to handle your end of it. They’ll string it 
along, getting it postponed for this and that for just so long 
as they feel it helps them; then they’ll drop it as quietly as 
they can. They’ll never press that suit to a trial; they 
won’t dare to. You just wait and see.” 

And just as Mitchell prophesied—to let this history run 
ahead of itself a bit—just so did the matter of the suit come 
to pass. 

One bit of financial driftwood was saved out of the wreck¬ 
age of the Marlowe fortune. This was Cordelia’s dazzling 
racing roadster. It was saved, of course, by Mitchell. He 
blandly admitted, in private, that the method of the car’s 
salvation was perhaps not irreproachably honest; but then 
who was he to worry about such a highly technical and aca¬ 
demic and non-terrestrial detail as mere honesty? Within 
an hour from the time he set Cordelia down at her home on 
the day of the disaster, he had the car out of the garage 
where Cordelia kept it and in another garage whose 
address was known to none of the parties concerned in the 
Marlowe assets save only himself. Thereafter, in the 
course of the squabble with the creditors, he claimed that 
Cordelia, several days prior to the bankruptcy, had turned 
the car over to him in settlement of a claim; and in holding 
on to his own in the matter of keeping this car, Mitchell 
proved the most relentless and bloodthirsty creditor of the 
whole crew of creditors; not all the creditors, combined in 
a united assault upon him, could have torn from him so 
much as the car’s spare wire wheel. 



That beautiful, aristocratic, foreign-born car had been 
Cordelia’s pet since she was eighteen—five years. It had to 
be sold, of course. But no one could kill that pet except 
herself; besides, Mitchell had been doing enough for the 
family. So Mitchell left the disposal of the pet to Cordelia. 
Cordelia’s education in the facts of life now began to pro¬ 
ceed rapidly. She learned about life—real life—from that 

She offered that beautiful and rare roadster to one second¬ 
hand dealer; then to another. She was astounded, outraged, 
personally insulted, at the price she was offered. She de¬ 
cided the low price was due to the fact that she was offering 
an open car for sale at the beginning of winter; she would 
get ever so much better terms if by some means she could 
only hold the car until spring. She took counsel from the 
poor man’s and poor woman’s ever ready adviser, the want- 
ad section of a newspaper. Here she sought the columns 
that are crowded with three- and four-line offers to buy and 
sell automobiles; and tucked away here she found several 
nuggets of purest hope. Several philanthropists, giving 
only their telephone numbers, offered to loan the full sale 
value upon cars, strictest confidence being observed. Cor¬ 
delia telephoned one of these good Samaritans, and half an 
hour later she eagerly entered his office. 

Sure enough, he did offer to loan her upon the car almost 
as much as the dealers had offered her. This was splendid! 
She gratefully told him he needn’t be delicate on her account 
in the matter of her pawning her automobile, for now that 
her social position was gone she had no reasons for asking 
that strictest confidence be observed. She then discovered 
that the reasons for this delicacy in observing strictest con¬ 
fidence, a confidence so strict that it amounted to an un- 
provable relationship, were entirely his reasons. His rea- 



sons had to do with interest rates. In New York State 
usury is illegal, and penalties are attached to its practice. 
Usurers, who are plentiful enough despite the law, are there¬ 
fore rather diffident gentlemen, tongue-tied in the presence 
of a third person, and disinclined to put very many words 
on paper. This particular good Samaritan asked, for a four 
months’ loan, interest at the rate of one hundred per cent, 
the interest to be deducted in advance from the sum he 
offered to loan. 

Cordelia left him, returned to the first dealer she had seen, 
and sold the car at the price which had been first offered 
her. People who sold second-hand cars in the closing weeks 
of 1921—when the financial slump was at its lowest, and 
cars were being sold for songs and very poor songs at 
that—have already guessed to the very dollar what Cordelia 
was paid. For that high-born, dashing racer which had 
originally cost thousands and thousands, and on which she 
had recently spent fifteen hundred for internal repairs and 
beauty-treatment, she got an even five hundred dollars. But 
then, of course, the car was five years old. 

This five hundred dollars became the basis of Cordelia’s 
new fortunes. 

At this time she and Lily had just moved into a two-room 
kitchenette apartment in Harlem; they were doing their 
own cooking, housework, washing—clumsily, of course, for 
they knew as much of such things as Columbus knew of 
America prior to 1492; and Lily was freshly entered in pub¬ 
lic high school. 

Cordelia now turned to the great problem of ways and 
means. Henceforth, she had her own way to make. She 
might have asked aid of Jackie Thorndike; and Jackie 
would probably have loaned her money, for the restless 
Jackie had a generous enough heart. And Ailine Harkness 



would probably have done the same; and perhaps others. 
All of them very privately, of course. Naturally, it would 
be out of the question for them to champion her openly; 
such a course would be too great a social risk. But Cor¬ 
delia decided not to ask them; she would have a try at things 
entirely on her own; and so, it may here be recorded, that 
Jackie Thorndike and Ailine Harkness and the others never 
again had any place in Cordelia’s life, except as memories 
or as names seen in newspapers. 

Cordelia had made up her mind how she was going to earn 
her living, and now that she, or rather Mitchell, had cleared 
away the impeding mess of affairs, she started straight out 
to achieve her goal. She was going to be a motion-picture 
actress. Picture actresses made an awful lot of money, 
everybody said; and Kyle Brandon had always spoken in 
easy, off-hand, impressive figures. Besides, he had said she 
would be a sure-fire hit in pictures; a star, under his han¬ 
dling. Of course she wouldn’t expect stardom for a while ; 
but it would be nice to have one of those nice secondary 
roles and get one of those nice secondary salaries. 

She was dressed in her best—the best then remaining to 
her—and she looked her best, when she entered Kyle Bran¬ 
don’s outer office. She had to wait quite a while after she 
gave her name; quite a long while; but when, after an hour 
of waiting, she was told Mr. Brandon would see her, she 
went in with her brightest smile. He seemed strangely 
altered from his former self-possession, the unhesitating 
positiveness of his every act. He shuffled at his desk, 
seemed uncertain in all his movements, when he received her. 
But she refused to let that dim her smile. 

“I’ve come to hold you to your promise, Mr. Brandon,” 
she said cheerily. “I’ve decided to go into motion pic¬ 



He looked most uncomfortable. The easy flow of ample- 
gestured language seemed entirely lost. His speech came 
haltingly; it was made up of isolated, orphaned phrases; 
sentences that weakly began nowhere and breathed their 
last before they got anywhere. These tattered fragments, 
broken odds and ends, so incongruous and alien in that 
fluent mouth, touched with vague staccato quality upon such 
subjects as the general financial depression, you know— 
worst year picture business ever had, you know—small ex- 
hibiters closing their houses—this censorship that makes 
you afraid to make anything—we’re up against it, what can 
we do—our Eastern studios closed down, only two com¬ 
panies working in Hollywood—most actors and directors 
idle, glad to work at a fifth what we used to pay:—and so 
on and on the great man wandered through the by-ways and 
labyrinths of his inarticulation. 

But while his visible and audible lips staggered drunkenly, 
his invisible lips were the open flood-gates for a rushing, 
roaring torrent of words, all curses and all directed at her. 
Why the hell had he let his damned good nature trick 
him into letting her in to see him! Why the hell had she 
come anyhow! . . . He was a most unhappy man, Kyle 
Brandon, and in his behavior in this scene with Cordelia, he 
should be judged as such. The ingredients of Kyle Bran¬ 
don were the ingredients of the best of the so-called “motion- 
picture magnates”; a large dash of fake, buncombe; a gift 
for splendid promises; a touch of very real genius—do not 
doubt the genius; the whole diluted and well shaken up with 
coloring matter and a large quantity of water, like bootleg¬ 
ger’s whiskey. But instead of water and coloring matter, it 
would be more fair to Kyle Brandon to state that these 
last ingredients were just plain ordinary human nature. 
And human nature—yours, or mine, or a motion-picture 



magnate’s—grows embarrassed and indignant, and feels it¬ 
self imposed upon, when a former prosperous friend drops 
in and asks for the fulfilment of a promise after that friend 
has turned into a famous failure. 

Brandon could hint at hard times and attendant disastrous 
conditions. But there was one condition which disturbed 
him more than any of these as far as Cordelia was con¬ 
cerned, and of this he dared not hint to her at all. Some 
two months earlier, there had been a Labor Day party in a 
San Francisco hotel, with whiskey and gin and a phonograph 
and pyjamas; and in consequence a widely advertised film 
comedian was then in jail charged with the murder of a 
film actress and a large part of the country was calling upon 
the films in an awful voice—the general effect of Billy Sun¬ 
day talking vigorously into a vast amplifier—either to seek 
the paths of repentance and righteousness or else go out of 
business. At the time of Cordelia’s visit to Brandon the 
picture producers of the country were panic-stricken with 
morality. Cotton Mather was never more righteously up¬ 
right—indeed there never has been, never will be, never can 
be, a higher peak of moral righteousness than the righteous¬ 
ness of all the picture producers, in all their public utter¬ 
ances, all their public attitudes, during the fall and winter 
of 1921. They were the Ten Commandments, the Beati¬ 
tudes, the Blue Laws, rarefied, volatilized into their origi¬ 
nal cosmic vapor, and then recondensed and the resultant 
pure distillate of virtue recomposed into human beings 
who strode about their offices as though they were God’s 
latest priests in God’s newest and chastest temples. And to 
think of this Cordelia Marlowe coming to him, Kyle Bran¬ 
don, and asking to be put into pictures at such an hour of 
exalted, perfervid purity—Cordelia Marlowe about whom 
all the papers of the country were printing stories 1 —that 



“recently exposed famous society blackmailer”— Why— 
why—put her in pictures !—put her in pictures! 

Kyle Brandon almost dissolved quite away in the mental 
perspiration of the very thought. 

When Cordelia finally got the solid residuum, the slight 
precipitate of his murky speech, she perceived that the 
golden opportunity for stardom had in some manner dwin¬ 
dled to this: a chance to be used as an “extra woman”—the 
pay five to fifteen dollars a day, according to importance of 
character, and according to clothes required, she to furnish 
her own wardrobe—perhaps two days’ work a week, perhaps 
not, certainly no more—she to pay all travelling expenses 
to Los Angeles and all living expenses—and no part of this 
to be considered as a guarantee on his part, or as a promise. 

This was the day Cordelia decided she was not going to 
be a motion-picture actress. 

Cordelia learned about life—real life—from motion pic¬ 

She had been fully aware that Brandon had been embar¬ 
rassed to see her, and this made her angry all during the in¬ 
terview. In this she was, in a degree, unjust to Brandon. 
There was some substance, in a business sense, to those un¬ 
spoken objections which shivered through his mind. And 
then, as a matter of fact, Cordelia really could not act. She 
could walk gracefully about, she could take an easy, graceful 
pose, as when Brandon directed her at the pageant; but as 
for any natural, spontaneous ability as an actress, why Cor¬ 
delia could no more act than—than—well, than the average 
motion-picture star. 

After giving up motion pictures, her mind turned to 
something which she knew she really could do. She was an 
excellent all-round athlete, the star of her years in Harcourt 
Hall; and although she had been gay in the years since then, 



she had never dissipated and was now in fine trim. The re¬ 
turned Lily had told her that the position of physical in¬ 
structor at Harcourt Hall had just become vacant. Cor¬ 
delia determined to apply for it. She was competent as a 
teacher, she believed; in her school days the girls had taken 
to her naturally as a leader; she would make an ideal coach. 
She was the right person. 

Swallowing her pride—what was left of it—and putting 
on the pleasant smile she had worn into Brandon’s office, 
Cordelia went out to her dear old school home and asked to 
see Miss Harcourt. Always before, when she had dropped 
in here for a visit, Miss Harcourt had instantly hurried out 
with a proud, ingratiating smile. Now Miss Harcourt’s 
secretary asked her kindly to state her business. This Cor¬ 
delia did, and the secretary vanished softly into the inner 
shrine. Presently she reappeared and reported to Cordelia 
that Miss Harcourt could not spare the time to see her and 
did not care to consider her for the vacant position. 

And so Cordelia also learned about life—real life—from 
Miss Harcourt. 

One of the things which she was beginning to learn about 
life was this: when you are down and out, about the only 
old friend of your splendid days whose friendship you can 
still count upon is yourself. And she was learning this 
other thing: that it’s mighty fine if this particular friend is 
equipped to help you by being equipped to do something 
for which people will pay money. 

Cordelia might have tried for a place as physical instruc¬ 
tor at some other school; but she judged her chances slight, 
with the school year under way and all positions doubtless 
filled; and besides she had neither practical experience nor 
recommendations. And so, at last, Cordelia’s mind turned 
toward that very occupation which had occurred to her in 

34 » 


the beginning of this history when she called up Jerry 
Plimpton and asked him how much stenographers were paid. 
She would become a stenographer. Here her determination 
settled and here it remained. She entered a business college 
and took up stenography and typewriting. 

And in such manner, at last, Cordelia Marlowe, Cordelia 
the Magnificent, twenty-three going on twenty-four, started 
out upon the humble end of that long road which stretches 
between trained competency and true magnificence. She 
was starting out to try to learn to be, fundamental to all 
else, just an ordinary, average, self-supporting person. 

She found it hard, tremendously hard. What her studies 
most required was application; and in all her life she had 
never applied herself to anything, except pleasure. But she 
was determined, for there were only the few dollars from 
the car between her and bitter necessity. She had to learn 
to be competent, and learn in a few months, or else die. 
And so during that fall and winter Cordelia drove herself 
relentlessly all day at school; and then again at night, when 
her share of the housework was done, she drove herself at 
the keys of her rented typewriter until exhaustion and sleep 
would let her drive no more. 

If the old friends of the years of her magnificence could 
have seen Cordelia during the days and nights of this winter, 
they would have been bewildered; they simply could not 
have understood. Cordelia Marlowe doing such things, 
living in such a way—why, it just couldn't be so! Some 
might have pitied her, but most of them would have been 
very glad that they no longer had to know her. 

As for Lily, that lazy, irreverent child lived the life of 
these days with a tireless zest as if this were the great ad¬ 
venture for which she had always hungered. Lily decided 



to add to her original qualification for being a stenographer, 
her ability to chew gum, by learning to typewrite; and when 
she was not busy at other work, and when Cordelia was not 
using it, she was hammering away at the typewriter, en¬ 
deavoring under Cordelia’s instruction to master the touch 

The two of them did not remain alone, nor in that first 
tiny flat, for more than a month. Escorted by Mitchell, 
Esther came to call; and after a visit or two, and debates 
about the basis on which expenses should be divided, a larger 
flat was taken; and after that the household was composed 
of Cordelia, Lily, Esther and Frangois, with Mitchell call¬ 
ing almost every evening. Esther’s finances were a bit 
easier now than when she had first left Rolling Meadows, for 
Mitchell was turning over to her the income from a small 
sum which he, as the best friend of Frangois’ father, had 
managed to recover from the father’s muddled estate. He 
told Esther this fib, as he confided to Cordelia, for the rea¬ 
son that if Esther knew the truth, that the money he was 
turning over to her was really the income from the sums he 
had extracted from Gladys, he knew she would regard the 
money as Gladys’ and would refuse to take it. 

From this time on, Frangois, who seemed to have a true 
collector’s mania for mothers, again had three mothers as 
in the days of Rolling Meadows; and of the three Lily took 
her adoptive motherhood with the most airs of importance; 
hers was a mothership that fairly strutted. Pleas and com¬ 
mands from her mother and her other elders had had no 
effect whatever in restraining Lily’s profanity. But some¬ 
how this son of hers, with no plea having been made to her, 
almost instantly brought about what those in authority had 
vainly striven for; her swear-words seemed suddenly to 



drop out of her vocabulary. As she explained to Mitchell: 
“You see these days we women have got to be mighty care¬ 
ful how we bring our men-folks up.” 

With hard work, and relentless driving, winter moved 
slowly on toward spring. 

These months, almost with her being unconscious of the 
accretion, details were added to Cordelia’s estimate of Mitch¬ 
ell; his picture slowly filled out to a full-length living por¬ 
trait. His business, she learned, was Eastern representative 
of a Cleveland firm manufacturing automobile parts—a 
young and small firm as yet, but with all of youth’s vigorous 
determination and ambition. Its head was the friend to 
whom Mitchell had turned over his bonds as security, and 
whose temporary disaster had forced Mitchell to return to 
domestic service; the same friend who, in the letter Cordelia 
had long ago discovered in Mitchell’s pocket, had thanked 
Mitchell for the remittances he had been sending. It was 
with this concern that Frangois’ tiny fortune was invested. 
The firm had a medium-priced car of its own, existing for 
the most part only in drawings, which it would launch 
upon the market as soon as the firm was better organized 
and as soon as it could draw to itself the necessary capital. 
The great selling point, and the great service point, of this 
new car, Mitchell explained, was that, through the com¬ 
pany’s patents, it had all the stability and roadability of the 
heaviest and most expensive cars together with the gasoline 
economy and low up-keep of the average car of lower cost. 
There was a tremendous field for this type of car, Mitchell 

She also became aware that, though he was up at the little 
apartment for an hour or two almost every evening—as a 
rule very early in the evening, so that he could have one of 
his grave talks with Frangois before the boy’s bedtime— 


3 5i 

Mitchell was a prodigious worker. He worked long hours, 
and his mind never slowed down. As he explained to Cor¬ 
delia: “You see I lost almost five years out of my working 
life through the War, and I’ve got to work myself double 
shift to make those five years up.” He was certainly work¬ 
ing double shift, and undoubtedly he would make up those 

Also she learned that the facetious, fantastic, jesting 
quality which had so irritated her at first, because she had 
set it down as an assumed mannerism, was a true element 
of the man. He was just that way in all things. In him 
was a lot of the mischievous boy, the Peter Pan who would 
never grow up; perhaps it was this left-over boyishness 
which gave him his amazing zest. She knew that he worked 
with a jesting smile; he had made love to her with a jesting 
smile; and she imagined that he had gone into battle with 
that same smile of high banter. That smile, she now real¬ 
ized, signified no lack of seriousness, of high purposes, of 
grim determination; it was merely the way in which this 
particular man faced the great problems, the great dangers, 
the great desires of his life. And back of that fantastic, 
jesting smile, she now knew, was an infinite tenderness. 
Also she realized that he had this tenderness’ reverse: a 
grim, patient, relentless, almost maniacal vindictiveness to¬ 
ward any injustice, particularly an injustice or insult directed 
at his friends: this last she sensed, in its most marked de¬ 
gree, in his unchanging attitude toward Gladys. Toward 
Gladys, she judged, he would stop at nothing. In fact, he 
had said as much. 

Imperceptibly the conviction grew upon her that Mitchell, 
if the chances of life did not turn all against him, might 
some day be recognized as a very remarkable man. Per¬ 
haps even a very great man. For the able man who smiles 

3 52 


at everything, and keeps right on going—he is the man that 
nothing less than Fortune's malignant and unchanging ill- 
will can ever stop. 

These ideas concerning Mitchell were not so much definite 
conclusions, the result of conscious and careful observation, 
as the final sum of almost unconscious impressions which 
filtered into her as the busy weeks and months moved slowly 

From the newspapers, during that winter and early 
spring, Cordelia occasionally got bits of gossip about persons 
who had formerly been important in her life. Jerry Plimp¬ 
ton, as she had known, had started for Japan the day after 
he broke his engagement to her; in February the papers re¬ 
ported him back in New York. Of the others, Gladys was 
the one of whom the papers told her most. Socially, that 
winter was the biggest and best Gladys had ever had; for 
this was the first active social season since she was nine¬ 
teen—she was nineteen when Francois was born—when her 
spirits had not been repressed and her activities restrained 
by her ever-present fear of exposure. Now that old dread 
was gone. Esther had removed it. Her spirits swept her 
where they wished. She entertained frequently and lav¬ 
ishly—having dug up from some obscure spot, as a substi¬ 
tute for her step-sister, an elderly lady of dignified aspect 
who responded promptly and obligingly when addressed by 
Gladys as “Aunt Gertrude” [though the lady took the role of 
Gladys' aunt without a day’s rehearsal and with no previous 
knowledge of Gladys] and who gave the element of propri¬ 
ety to the social activities of Gladys’ spinister household. 
And when Gladys was not entertaining, she was being en¬ 
tertained. She was immensely popular, immensely success¬ 

If by misadventure these pages have given any impres- 



sion that Gladys was publicly an unpleasant character, that 
impression must here be emphatically corrected. Gladys 
was never unpleasant except to dependents, or inferiors, or 
enemies; or when she lost her temper—and when Gladys 
lost her temper, if the person offended was one she thought 
of importance, she apologized so promptly and profusely 
that she begot a kindly feeling toward herself as one of 
those hot-headed, warm-hearted persons who flare up and 
then flare swiftly down in misery and self-reproach—not 
an ounce of real ill-nature in her whole make-up, you 
know. No one knew more of the art of being consciously 
pleasant than Gladys. In her methods she was similar to 
those thrifty farmers who keep the worst of their produce for 
home consumption, and send their best to market. One of 
our greatest comic actors, an incurable addict to matrimony 
—he is still alive, God save his bones!—thus summed up 
the wife of one of his middle marriages, widely known as 
a delightful actress: “She’s great on the stage, but hell in 

That was Gladys. On her own stage she was truly great. 

Also Cordelia heard of Jackie Thorndike and of Ailine 
Harkness—of these and other of her friends: from the 
newspapers, and from Mitchell who now heard far more of 
the gossip about town than did she. Jackie and Murray 
Thorndike had finally come to an open smash-up; Murray 
had gone to Paris where his temperamental dancer was said 
to be, and Jackie was in California starting her divorce pro¬ 
ceedings. As for the Harknesses, it now appeared that both 
of them for a long time had consciously been going at a 
much faster pace than an honest usage of their resources 
would have permitted. Peter Harkness’ brokerage firm was 
one of the many financial houses that were accused early in 
1922 of “bucket-shop” practices; it had collapsed, and Peter ; 



had suddenly vanished on the magic carpet which seems 
ever at the disposal of all absconders, leaving behind him 
debts, wailing claimants, and a penniless wife. Ailine, how¬ 
ever, appeared not to be prostrated by her misfortune. Re¬ 
port had it that she was living upon the benevolence of, and 
finding great solace in, the company of, a rich gentleman 
who looked young and handsome (if one did not inspect his 
make-up too closely) despite his fifty-five years; at any rate, 
she dined openly with him almost nightly at the smarter 
restaurants and went with him to the first nights of all the 
new plays. 

As she lay awake Cordelia often thought of the four of 
them: Gladys, Jackie, Ailine, herself. And included with the 
four she sometimes thought of other girls much like them¬ 
selves; her mates at Harcourt Hall, her friends in society. 
But mostly her thoughts dwelt upon the four; and these 
thoughts began to form the weak bones of a philosophy that 
thus far was amorphous. All four of them had been envied 
girls; superficially, at least, all clever, brilliant girls. They 
had had everything. They had been heiresses of leisure, 
with nothing to do but enjoy themselves. And starting 
with everything, what a mess they had made of their lives! 
All of them! Gladys, now the most successful of the lot, 
at bottom a sneaking, scheming, crawling creature, afraid of 
the one real thing in her life, her own child. The restless 
Jackie—Cordelia no longer placed the major blame on 
Murray—always so eager to be on the go that she had not 
cared to make a real home; and now apparently about to 
develop into that type of woman whose life is just a series 
of rapid pilgrimages from the present husband to the next, 
and for whom life’s only variety is this matrimonial change. 
And pretty, dashing Ailine—now apparently on her way to 



becoming a woman of the town of the smarter class. And 
herself: publicly, at least, she had come the most inglorious 
cropper of them all. 

Yes, what a mess they had made of life! All of them! 

And as a bit of philosophy began to come into her life, 
Cordelia’s views toward herself and her career began slowly 
to alter. She had been unjustly used—had been tricked—■ 
lied about; but then, after all, she herself was most to blame 
for all the evil that had overtaken her. Her confidence had 
been based on nothing real. Her sense of mastery over 
herself and over others had no solid powers behind it. 
She had been just pretense, self-deception. An utter ama¬ 
teur at life, and yet so confident! She had sought to build 
a great mansion on a foundation of sand, and some one 
had come along and their touch had helped topple it over. 
If she had conceived the right sort of house, and had 
builded her house properly, all the strength of these people 
could not have moved so much as one of its smallest 

And while she did not hate and despise Franklin the less, 
she blamed herself the more for their relationship. She 
now saw that she had taken the wrong turn, because it was 
the easier turn, at the very start; she now saw that she, and 
girls like her, had been the destined prey, the especially 
trained prey, for the men who had written her those odious 
letters or for the Franklins of the world. Her self-confi¬ 
dence, her tremendous belief in herself, had made her 
Franklin’s easy dupe. But for that conceit, that sense of her 
high value and great power, she would not have taken as a 
matter of course that she, an untrained person, could honestly 
earn thirty thousand dollars a year and could honestly do the 
things Franklin had asked her to do. Yes—it had been not 



so much Franklin, as her own great conceit, that had made a 
fool of her: the same conceit that was making, in various 
ways, fools out of other girls of her kind. 

It was about this time in Cordelia’s vague philosophizing 
(the calendar time was then March) that there began to 
grow up in Cordelia—its first sprouts were tingling and 
awing thrills—the strange, unreal sense that, perhaps after 
all, her misfortune was in time to prove her salvation! She 
had been lucky! That was it—she was lucky! She hadn’t 
deserved luck—she had no merit—but she was lucky! . . . 
Every day this sense grew stronger, more tingling, with more 
of lift to it. . . . Through sheer blind luck she might 
eventually escape into something fundamentally better, finer, 
more worth-while, than the most glorious of her former 

It was when Cordelia began to think like this that her old 
'friends, could they have known her thoughts, would have 
understood her least of all. . . . 

She finished her business course in March. She had 
been working at her stenography and typewriting from 
twelve to fifteen hours every day, including Sundays. All 
those extra hours of self-imposed drill now counted. She 
was a fair stenographer, for one without experience; and 
she had the makings of an exceptional typist, for the swift¬ 
ness and exactness of muscle and nerve which had made her 
an unusual athlete were assets of equal value upon the 

The day she graduated Mitchell proposed to her again. 
Mitchell had gradually come to be an accepted part of her 
life; she felt more of easy comfort, of at-homeness, with 
him than with any other man she had known. But she 
didn’t know whether she could ever love anybody; the nerve- 
centers of romance were still dazed from what had hap- 



pened to her, and perhaps there was permanent paralysis. 
These things she told Mitchell. And she added one other 

“I’m not any too proud of what I used to be. But every¬ 
body believes I was a blackmailer. I was not—at least not 
consciously; but it wouldn’t be fair to any man for me to 
come to him as his wife bringing along my terrible reputa¬ 
tion as a blackmailer. And I’m not going to.” 

“If we could ever clear that reputation, what would you 
say ?” 

“You’re suggesting the remote and improbable, if not the 

“But if we ever could—and ever do—may I ask you 
again ?” 

“I suppose you may.” Then she smiled at him. “I’m 
only saying you may ask, though, merely because I know I 
couldn’t stop you anyhow.” 

“I’m taking that as a promise. Please remember it. 
Now I’ve got another proposal. If you won’t marry me, 
will you work for me?” 

This proposal she accepted. But not until after a long 
wrangle about salary. He offered to start her at twenty 
dollars a week. She knew that was more than a beginner 
ordinarily could get, and refused it. They finally compro¬ 
mised on fifteen. And at fifteen dollars a week Cordelia 
the Magnificent began her career as a wage-earner. 

What Cordelia needed to improve her was practice and 
experience, and Mitchell saw that she got both; besides 
which she kept hammering at the typewriter at home 
at nights to develop her speed. During the weeks that 
followed she made rapid progress; she gained that self-con¬ 
fidence which is based upon trained ability to do a thing, 
which is a different sort from her more glorious confidence 



which was based on nothing at all. She knew she was 
better; so when on the first day of May—that was her 
birthday, and she was twenty-four—Mitchell again offered 
her twenty dollars a week, this time she accepted it. 

Her first twenty-dollar pay-envelope brought Cordelia one 
of the very greatest moments of her career. She was making 
twenty dollars a week, and she could live on twenty dollars 
a week. For the first time in all her life Cordelia Marlowe 
was living within her income! 

A few days later, on Fifth Avenue, she saw Gladys walk¬ 
ing toward her with Jerry Plimpton. This was the first 
time she had seen either since that century-distant day in 
Gladys’ library. Jerry held his face straight ahead, though 
she knew that he had seen her. But Gladys gave her a look 
of hard, exultant triumph, not otherwise recognizing her, 
slipped a hand through Jerry’s arm, laughingly said some¬ 
thing close against his ear; and thus, arm in arm, they swept 
by her. 

She knew from Gladys’ manner what had happened, and 
was therefore not surprised the following morning when she 
read the announcement of their engagement. 



The engagement of Gladys and Jerry was almost as great 
a social sensation as had been the engagement of Jerry and 
Cordelia. Gladys, however, despite her wealth, was not 
the figure Cordelia had been when Cordelia was making the 
world her eager and admiring servant; Gladys never could 
be such a figure for she lacked the true good will toward 
others, the graciousness, the social readiness, which Cor¬ 
delia, despite her many failings, really did possess. 

Even so, Gladys had no cause to complain of lack of envy, 
applause and publicity. There were columns and columns 
about this brilliant social romance, two hearts united as well 
as two great fortunes; their handsome faces gazed forth 
from all the papers of the country, and there were pictures 
of Rolling Meadows, and Gladys’ town house and of Jerry’s 
various houses and of his yacht. All the world loves a 
lover; and newspapers have an especial love for lovers who 
have many mansions and many estates. 

Cordelia read all this; read that work had once more been 
started on Jerry’s houses to put them into fit condition to re¬ 
ceive the new heiress to the glories of Jerry’s famous 
mother; read that the pair, after their marriage which was 
set for only a month away, were to be very active socially; 
that they would, in fact, resume the Plimpton social activities 
which had been allowed to decline since Mrs. Plimpton’s 
death. In brief, it was all a reprint of love’s splen¬ 
did prospectus of months and months before, with Gladys’ 




name substituted for Cordelia’s. But Cordelia, reading, was 
not envious. Gladys was quite welcome to Jerry. 

A certain cynical bitterness, however, Cordelia could not 
keep down. Thus were the lying, the scheming, the cring¬ 
ing, the cowardice, the insolence of Gladys rewarded! 
Gladys was everything that was mean, and she walked in 
triumph before the world. 

But, after all, that was life. That was how fortune, suc¬ 
cesses, seemed to fall. That was how life picked its favor¬ 

And another bitterness Cordelia could not altogether keep 
down. Gladys walked in triumph before the world, and 
this same world still believed her, Cordelia, to be a black¬ 
mailer and worse. And this same triumphant Gladys was 
the person who had thrust her down into her dishonor. For 
without the support of Gladys’ lies, the lies of Franklin 
would have been of no avail. 

But such reflection Cordelia tried to push aside and con¬ 
centrate on business. All such matters were a part of the 
past; she had a future to make. 

She worked harder than ever. 

At about this time a new acquaintance came inconspicu¬ 
ously into the very small circle of friends of the little family 
in the Harlem flat. Mitchell introduced him as Mr. James 
Aldrich, a business friend from the West, whose affairs in 
New York were being delayed, and who therefore having 
little to do for the present and being almost a stranger in 
the city, would be mighty happy if the family would receive 
him within its gates. 

“He’s been good to me, so be good to him,” said Mitchell, 
and the family obeyed. 

Mr. Aldrich was Mitchell’s age, near thirty; a big, 
pleasant-faced, clumsy figure of a man, diffident of manner 



and unready of speech. Cordelia saw little of him but was 
inclined to like him; he was up often during the day, Cor¬ 
delia gathered, and went on walks with Esther and Fran¬ 
cois or played with Francois in the flat while Esther was 
busy with the housework; and Cordelia gathered that both 
liked the stranger. It seemed to Cordelia that there was a 
vague, strained something in Mr. Aldrich’s manner, but she 
had not the time, and was not sufficiently interested, to try 
to analyze this quality. 

It was just a week after the announcement of the engage¬ 
ment of Gladys and Jerry—and all that part of the world 
which is interested in the doings of society was still aflutter 
at the news—that, when Cordelia appeared in the office at 
the usual nine o’clock, Mitchell said to her: “I’m going to 
have a little conference here to-day. I want you to be 
present, and I want you to keep hold of yourself.” 

Cordelia had need for this control when the parties to the 
conference began to arrive at ten o’clock. There were two 
strangers whom Mitchell, then and later introduced as “Mr. 
Emerson and Mr. Bailey, interested in a little matter with 
me”; they were silent, composed men, and so remained 
throughout the conference. Then came Esther. Then, to¬ 
gether, came Gladys Norworth and Jerry Plimpton. Their 
entrance was the real surprise to Cordelia; she now began 
to wonder what this business could be about and she won¬ 
dered by what means these last two had been brought to 
Mitchell’s office. 

The means was then known only to Mitchell and 
Gladys; there had been a brief note from Mitchell to Gladys 
of which this was a portion: “I now have the definite proof 
of who is the real mother of Frangois. I shall let the il¬ 
legitimacy of his maternity become a matter of widest pub¬ 
lic knowledge, if you are not in my office Wednesday morn- 



ing at ten o'clock and if you do not bring Mr. Plimpton 
with you. I leave entirely to you the method of influence 
by which you get Mr. Plimpton here.” 

As Gladys entered her manner was proud, defiant, dis¬ 
dainful ; then she saw her step-sister, and sudden fear 
flashed into her green eyes, but instantly her pride was again 
in control. She gave Esther a distant, frigid nod; Esther 
gazed at her coldly but did not return the greeting. Jerry 
stood formally at Gladys' elbow; he did not like the memory 
of the last scene in which he had been involved with these 
people, and he was very much upon his dignity. 

Cordelia, pulsing with suspense, feeling herself only a 
spectator in whatever was about to happen, gazed around 
from one to another, awaiting developments. 

Mitchell had taken the situation in hand, with brisk 
pleasantness, with perfect ease, the moment these last two 
had entered. He had noted that both had ignored the pres¬ 
ence of Cordelia. 

“By the way, Miss Norworth, Mr. Plimpton,” he in¬ 
quired, “have you ever met my secretary, Miss Marlowe?” 

Gladys and Jerry bowed stiffly, and Cordelia responded 
in like manner. At Mitchell’s request all took seats. 

“And now to our little business,” said Mitchell, in his 
most pleasant tone. “But, Miss Norworth, before we go 
into the real matter that has brought us here, there is a 
small affair I wish to clear up. To clear this affair up satis¬ 
factorily will require answers from you to a few questions 
which I shall put. Before putting these questions, Miss Nor¬ 
worth, I wish to remind you of something. I11 a note you 
received there was reference to a certain fact. I wish to 
state that I can prove that fact. I have all the evidence I 
need, have I not, Miss Stevens?” 


Gladys, suddenly pale, looked swiftly across at her step¬ 
sister. Esther was also pale, but her face was set. 

‘‘You have all the evidence,” said Esther. 

Gladys needed no further assurance upon that point. 

“The questions I desire to put to you, Miss Norworth,” 
Mitchell resumed, “all relate to Miss Marlowe, and all re¬ 
late to a certain incident which occurred in your library some 
six months ago. Are you inclined to answer those ques¬ 
tions, Miss Norworth?” 

Cordelia tensed at this. After all, there might be some¬ 
thing in this conference which concerned her. 

Gladys tried to appear calm, at her ease, but her voice 
was strained. 

“Go ahead.” 

“Thank you. On the occasion referred to, Miss Nor¬ 
worth, Mr. Franklin stated that some time before Miss Mar¬ 
lowe began her visit to your home he had been retained by 
you as her attorney. You then supported Mr. Franklin by 
testifying that his statement was the truth. Now as a mat¬ 
ter of fact, when Miss Marlowe’s visit began, was Mr. 
Franklin then employed as your attorney, or was he not?” 

Gladys hesitated. Her eyes wavered appealingly to 
Esther. She saw no mercy there. She flashed a look of 
hate into Cordelia’s eager, awaiting face. 

“He was not,” Gladys admitted. 

Cordelia caught a sharp breath. Mitchell went on. 

“Mr. Franklin, to prove his statement that he had been 
your attorney all the while, produced a letter undeniably 
written by you which was dated about the middle of May. 
Did you write that letter at this date, or antedate it?— 
write it much later ?” 

“I wrote it much later.” 

3 6 4 


“Mr. Franklin also referred to an alleged contract for his 
services, also signed by you about the middle of May. Did 
you sign this contract at this date, or sign it much later?” 

“I signed it much later.” 

“On this same occasion Mr. Franklin stated that, as your 
attorney, he devised a plan, in fact the two of you devised 
a plan in advance for trapping Miss Marlowe in a black¬ 
mailing scheme. You testified to the truth of these state¬ 
ments. Now, as a matter of fact, was any such plan made 
in advance, or was there not?” 

“There was not.” 

“On this same occasion Mr. Franklin stated that, in carry¬ 
ing out this plan, you had been paying blackmail to Miss 
Marlowe through him. You testified that this was the 
truth. As a matter of fact, was any of your money paid 
to Miss Marlowe directly or indirectly, that you can prove 
to have been blackmail money?” 

She hesitated a moment over this, frantically searching 
her mind for proof. Cordelia, bewildered by the manner 
in which at last facts were coming out, gazed breathlessly at 
Gladys, awaiting her answer. 

“No,” Gladys said finally. 

“But you did pay money to Mr. Franklin that you were 
morally certain was blackmail?—which, in fact, you were 
told was blackmail?” 


“In brief, all these statements which you made against 
Miss Marlowe on that day—which was to have been her 
wedding day—all your statements were lies?” 

Gladys hesitated again; but the answer came. 


“And you know of nothing whatever against Miss Mar¬ 
lowe, which you can prove, that is to her discredit?” 




“In brief, then, all the things you said that day against 
Miss Marlowe, and in support of Mr. Franklin, you said 
to carry out a conspiracy whose purpose was to damage 
Miss Marlowe’s reputation?” 

Gladys balked at this; stared at Mitchell in frightened ob¬ 

“Go on!” he ordered sternly. “Were all these statements 
just a conspiracy to ruin Miss Marlowe?” 

“Yes,” Gladys whispered. 

“That will be all, Miss Norworth. And now, while the 
matter is fresh in mind, we will just put the substance of 
your present statements into an affidavit. I’ll dictate the 
affidavit to Miss Marlowe. And you’ll sign it, Miss Nor¬ 
worth, and all the other persons here present I’ll ask to 
sign as witnesses, and I’ll have the notary from the next 
office present during the proceedings to make the thing le¬ 
gally shipshape.” 

As Mitchell said, so it was done. Fifteen minutes later 
the affidavit was properly signed, witnessed, and attested in 
duplicate. Besides these two official copies there were half 
a dozen unsigned carbons. Mitchell handed Cordelia one 
of the signed affidavits. 

“This document, Miss Marlowe, v properly used,” he re¬ 
marked, “will remove every slur from your name, except 
the one cast on it by Mr. Plimpton. And properly used— 
and I shall see that it is properly used, and shall see that 
Miss Norworth supplements it if necessary with testimony 
on the witness stand—properly used, I rather believe it will 
make Mr. Franklin a somewhat unhappy gentleman.” 

Cordelia took the affidavit with trembling hand. 

“Thanks—thanks!” she stammered weakly. That this 
thing had happened, and happened so swiftly and unex- 



pectedly, still seemed incredible to her. And just how 
Mitchell was making it happen she could not understand. 

“I should explain to you, Miss Marlowe,” he went on, 
‘'that what I have just done now I could not have done on 
that day at Rolling Meadows because I then did not have 
the evidence I now have, especially the support of Miss 

“I—I think I like it this way very much better,” Cordelia 

Mitchell turned to the others. “In order that you all may 
have for your personal records, as a memorandum of what 
you have just heard and witnessed, I shall give each an un¬ 
signed copy of Miss Norworth’s affidavit.” 

This he proceeded to do. Gladys and Jerry refused the 
copies offered them, but Esther accepted, and also the two 
silent men about whose business there Cordelia had been 
wondering. With the second signed affidavit Mitchell 
crossed to his office safe, deposited the affidavit therein, 
locked the safe and returned to his former position. 

“And now,” said he in his pleasant voice, “let’s get to our 
real business. But before going further, Miss Marlowe, I 
desire to remind you that I once remarked to you that when 
the proper time came I might have something to say. You 
remember ?” 

“Yes—I remember,” said Cordelia. 

“The right time has come for me to say what I have to 
say. I shall now proceed. But first, Mr. Plimpton, in 
order that you may understand what is to follow, you should 
know a few facts which are already known to most of us 
here. One of these preliminary facts is that I have known 
Miss Norworth since 1916, now almost six years. We got 
to know each other rather well in Paris shortly after she 
first went over. That is correct, is it not, Miss Norworth?” 



“Yes,” admitted Gladys. 

“Through this long acquaintance I am in a position to 
know pretty thoroughly what I am talking about. The sec¬ 
ond preliminary fact Mr. Plimpton should know, already 
known to the rest of us, is that Miss Norworth is the real 
mother of Frangois.” 

Cordelia, herself stunned by this, saw Gladys come wildly 
to her feet. 

“You promised not to tell that!” she cried frantically. 
“You promised—in your letter!” 

“My letter promised no such thing. Read it carefully 
and you will find no such promise. What I promised—* 
But wait and see.” 

“Gladys—” breathed Jerry Plimpton. “Gladys—” And 
seeming unable to go further he stopped. 

Gladys in her frenzy turned appealingly to Esther. 

“Esther,” she choked out—“Esther—your promise—Es¬ 

But this time there was no rushing to her rescue on Es¬ 
ther’s part. Esther’s gaze was cold, devoid of sympathy. 

Inevitably Cordelia’s eyes went to Jerry Plimpton. Jerry 
was very pale; his was the face of a gentleman who was 
having a most unhappy time in his attempts at marriage. 
But he now did get his words out; they came in a strained, 
stupefied voice. 

“Gladys—is this true? Is Frangois your child ?—your 
illegitimate child?” 

Gladys slumped into her chair, every bone soft, and 
covered her face with both her hands. She did not answer 

“Gladys,” he repeated, “is Frangois your child ?—your 
illegitimate child?” 

The admission which for so many years Gladys had 



fought to keep from making, now came a thinnest whisper 
through her fingers. 


Jerry Plimpton straightened up sharply, white as his col¬ 
lar, and stood rigid with the rigidity of one incapable of 

“We still have to come to our .real business,” continued 
Mitchell. “But before going further, I must again touch 
upon some preliminary facts—a bit of history. I shall 
briefly give this history partly for Mr. Plimpton’s informa¬ 
tion, but more with the hope that Miss Marlowe may see 
my point of view, may understand why I did what I did. 
What I now have to tell, Miss Marlowe, may put me, in 
some of its details, in an unfavorable light, and I want you 
to think as well of me as possible.” 

“Go on!” Cordelia breathed, wondering where he was 
leading now. 

He continued to direct his speech to Cordelia. 

“You know what I have first to tell, Miss Marlowe, but 
Mr. Plimpton does not. The best friend I ever had, Billy 
Grayson, then a sergeant in the Canadian Army in France, 
and then about twenty-three or four, met Miss Norworth 
while we were both on leave together in Paris. We met 
Miss Norworth in the Cafe de Paris. At that time he was 
the spectacular hero of the hour, and was slated for pro¬ 
motion; he was later quickly and utterly forgotten, as the 
legion of other small heroes had their turn. But during 
his day of glory, he was supreme, honored everywhere. To 
own him was to own a prize. 

“He and Miss Norworth fell in love, and wanted to marry 
at once. From the very first I thought Miss Norworth was 
attracted only by his hero’s radiance, for before the War 
he was an automobile mechanic—ambitious and able, but 



just a mechanic; and within a day I was convinced his hero’s 
radiance was indeed all she really cared for. I urged Billy 
Grayson not to marry her; I didn’t think she was good 
enough, and it was my business to save my friend if I could. 
But he was thoroughly infatuated, and my advice did no 
good. Miss Stevens, for very different reasons, urged 
Miss Norworth against the marriage. But there was no 
stopping her. They were married—secretly, at Miss Nor- 
worth’s insistence, for she wished to avoid trouble with her 
step-sister—and thereafter the marriage was kept a secret. 
Of all their friends I was the only one who knew; I was a 

“I particularly ask you, Miss Marlowe, to give careful 
attention to what I next say. You already know the facts, 
most of them; I am retelling the facts chiefly for Mr. 
Plimpton’s sake. It is the point of view behind those facts 
that I want you to get—my point of view. 

“Before our leave was over, I saw how completely right 
I had been about Miss Norworth. Billy Grayson’s glory 
had already begun to pass to other heroes; she saw him now 
as just an ordinary mechanic. With him stripped of his 
glory she was ashamed of him, and was now glad that no 
one knew of the marriage. It made me hate her, her at¬ 
titude toward my friend, the finest simplest fellow alive. 
In my behalf I ask you to remember, Miss Marlowe, that 
I was then only twenty-four. Well, we went back to the 
front; and almost at once we got in a bit of action. Gray¬ 
son was reported killed. I was wounded slightly, and 
landed in a Paris hospital. Within a month from the time 
Grayson and I had said good-bye to her, I saw Miss Nor¬ 
worth again. She was tremendously relieved, she even re¬ 
joiced, at the death of Grayson. She was now more happy 
than ever that the marriage had been kept a secret; she 



need never admit it now, the world need never know her 
terrible mistake and disgrace. I despised and hated her 
more than ever. 

“Up to this time, Miss Marlowe, though I disliked her, 
I had never done a thing against Miss Norworth beyond 
urging my friend not to marry her. But this attitude of 
hers was too much. I made her even happier yet about 
keeping the marriage a secret by something which I told her. 
I told her that before going into his last action Billy Gray¬ 
son had had a premonition that this was to be his end and he 
had asked me, in case he did go West, to tell Miss Norworth 
the truth—that he already had a wife, a French girl he had 
married a year and a half earlier. I told Miss Norworth 
this, produced the French wife and her six-months-old 
child, and the marriage certificate. Miss Norworth was 
horrified. The bigamous wife of an automobile mechanic! 
What if that were known in her world—the disgrace of it! 
She thanked God again that the marriage had been kept 
safely secret, and that the bigamous husband, who had never 
been her husband at all, was safely dead. 

“A little later she learned she was going to have a child— 
Grayson’s child—an illegitimate child. That threatened to 
bring the awful story of her mistaken marriage before the 
public, and she was more horrified than ever. Miss Stevens 
urged her to admit the facts, and have the child openly. 
Miss Norworth would not hear of such a thing. The dis¬ 
grace! So at Miss Norworth’s insistence a plan was ar¬ 
ranged whereby the child was born in secret. Later, fol¬ 
lowing a practice then much in vogue of adopting French 
war orphans, Miss Norworth sought to conceal the whole 
affair by adopting her own son, supposedly the orphan of 
nameless French parents. 

“I knew the truth, and later a few others learned it. And 



from that time to this—about five years—Miss Norworth 
has lived in daily fear that her secret would be discovered. 
She has lied—she hid behind Miss Stevens—she used every 
trick and twist she could think of—she let herself be black¬ 
mailed—she finally denied her own son. When all these 
five years—” 

All this while Mitchell had been addressing himself to 
Cordelia. But at the last he had wheeled about upon 
Gladys, and his voice, which had flowed evenly throughout 
his narrative, now rang out with sharp command: 

“Listen to what comes next, Gladys!” 

Till then Gladys’ face had been buried in her hands. His 
recital had contained nothing new for her; just the bare 
facts that had constituted her monotonous but poignant 
dread for years. At his command she raised her sickly, 
stricken face. 

“When all those five years, Gladys,” his voice drove at 
her, “if you had not been a snob, and a sneak, and a coward, 
—if there had been one tiny streak of true woman in you— 
you need not have paid one penny of hush-money, and need 
not have had a single moment of fear!” 

Gladys blinked stupidly at this. 

“Wha-what?” she mumbled. 

He turned back to Cordelia. The formality, the even¬ 
ness of speech and manner he had maintained through the 
scene was now dropped. 

“Remember this in my behalf, Cordelia,” he said rapidly, 
pleadingly. “I don’t justify all I did. But I was twenty- 
four—a boy. And I hated this snob for the way she had 
despised and spit upon my dead friend. I—I was ready for 
anything that would square the insult she had put upon a 
fine brave man!” 

He turned quickly upon Gladys. 



“You need not have had one single moment of fear!” he 
repeated. “There was nothing to fear! Nothing what¬ 
ever to be ashamed of, except yourself! For everything I 
told you was lies!” 

“Lies?” she said stupidly. “Lies? How?” 

“Isn’t it getting pretty obvious? I wanted to make you 
suffer for being ashamed of such a man as Grayson. I 
thought a lot about it; thought as well as a young fellow of 
twenty-four could think. And I saw a way. My friend was 
dead; a slander on his name wouldn’t hurt him; besides, 
it probably would never become known. Since you were 
ashamed of being married to a mechanic, and afraid it might 
be found out, it struck me that nothing else would hurt your 
snobbish pride so much as feeling you were not merely the 
wife of a mechanic, but worse than that, his illegal wife, 
his bigamous wife. The great Gladys Norworth, bigamous 
wife of a mechanic!—how you would squirm with the 
shame of it, how you would squirm with the fear of its ever 
becoming public! So I worked the plan out and put it over. 
And it was all a lie!” 

There was still stupid bewilderment in the stare of 
Gladys’ wide eyes. It is difficult, all at once, to. accept the 
reversal of an obsessing fear that has been the central fact, 
the ever uncertain foundation, of one’s existence. 

“But—but that marriage document? That other wife, 
the child?” 

“That document was forged. And purposely forged so 
clumsily that its forgery would have been obvious if you 
had had the nerve to demand its investigation. The woman 
was the widow of a French poilu; the child was hers. The 
poor thing needed money, and she really didn’t know what 
she was doing. I paid her a hundred francs.” 

Gladys gazed at him, blinking, speechless. 



“At the time I did this, I had no thought beyond making 
you personally do a lot of squirming in the place your 
pride is located. I then did not foresee your child. When 
I learned of the child and how you were ashamed of his 
father—well, I decided you had earned any new suffering 
your pride and cowardice might bring to you. But I did not 
intend the boy ever to suffer; I was going to see to that.” 

Gladys’ dazed faculties were slowly realizing the, to her, 
stupendous facts. 

“Then—Billy Grayson was not what you said—a biga¬ 
mist—a crook—” 

“Billy Grayson was about the finest and straightest man 
any woman ever had the honor to call her husband!” 

“And—and—my marriage—it was—” 

“As legal as law can make a marriage.” 

“And—and—then Francois—” 

“If a thoroughly legal marriage is what makes a child 
legitimate, then there was never a more legitimate child than 

“Then”—there came a quaver of self-pity in her voice— 
“then I’ve suffered all these years—without deserving it!” 

“Don’t waste any sympathy on yourself! You’ve de¬ 
served all you’ve got. The point for you to think of is 
that you’ve suffered all these years without needing to suffer. 
For in all these years there has not been a moment when, 
by being a real woman, you could not have instantly have 
cleared things away. Even when I told you that lie in 
Paris, I still had a lingering hope that you would come out 
like a real wife and hotly declare you would not believe any 
such slander against the man you had just married, and who 
had just bravely died in action. If you had shown that 
much respect for the memory of Grayson, I would have 
shown you all my cards right there, and have ended the mat- 



ter. And ever since I’ve been hoping you’d call my bluff, 
defy me; in which case I’d instantly have come out with the 
facts—they were always right on the surface for you any¬ 
how. There never was a more flimsy frame-up; one more 
purposely flimsy. You had but to stretch out your hand and 
at the bare touch it would have toppled over. Only one 
thing made so flimsy a frame-up possible: you are so proud, 
so snobbish, so selfish, so self-centered—and again snobbish 
and self-centered—and forever and ever snobbish and self- 
centered !” 

Gladys heard but little of this final tirade. Her mind, as 
it came out of its palsy, had gone reaching toward things 
of more importance than these vain might-have-beens. As 
Mitchell finished an excited glow, a glow of vast relief, had 
lighted her face, and that glow she now turned on Jerry. 

“Oh, Jerry—Jerry!” she cried sobbingly, happily. “Jerry 
—everything’s all right! You heard—there’s nothing 
against me! Nothing! My marriage was legal! Fran¬ 
cois is legitimate! And I’m—I’m a real widow! Oh, 
Jerry, after what I’ve been through-—isn’t it wonderful! 
There’s nothing now to stop our marriage, Jerry! We can 
go right ahead!” 

Jerry, still pale with the pallor of a man who has almost 
found a skeleton in what was to have been his family 
closet, gazed at her uncertainly. Cordelia could see that the 
substance of what he had been hearing was not quite clear to 
him; it had not yet had time to become settled into its proper 
place, become adjusted to its proper relation to the other 
facts of his life, his life’s other considerations. 

Gladys turned again to Mitchell. Cordelia had never 
seen a swifter transformation in a person than in Gladys. 
Gladys, so abject and lifeless but a moment before, had never 
been more haughty, more imperious, more triumphant. 



“Now that you have completed your confession, Mr. 
Mitchell,” she said, ‘T presume we are quite through with 
the business on which you brought me here, and we shall be 
going.” She wheeled on Esther. '‘And I wish to serve 
notice on you, Esther,” she said severely, “that as soon as 
I can arrange for it, I am going to have Francois back. 
You know that he is my child, and you have just heard 
that he is my legitimate child. And I am going to have him 

Gladys now turned upon Cordelia, whom all this while 
she had scarcely noticed. In her triumph she could not re¬ 
strain her desire for a last vindictive fling at the person who 
had once been her greatest rival and who in her eyes was 
now to become so lowly a figure. 

“I don’t care if you are cleared—at least I stopped you!” 
she cried. “I suppose you and Mitchell fixed this little 
scheme up hoping to injure me! Well, you see how 7 your 
little scheme has worked out: you’ve cleared me, set me 
free of everything! As for you, Cordelia the Magnificent, 
I hope you’ll enjoy your sweet, beautiful career of being a 
magnificent stenographer! Good-bye to you!” 

She turned next to Jerry. 

“Come on, Jerry! We’re through here. We’ve had quite 
enough of these people!” 

She took Jerry’s arm. He responded obediently to her 
proud touch and she swept him toward the door. Cor¬ 
delia, watching them, drew a deep breath. So—at last— 
this episode of Gladys’ secret that had been inserted in her 
life was now ended. And ended with Gladys, in her own 
mind at least, splendidly triumphant. 



But before Gladys, leading Jerry, reached the door, Cor¬ 
delia again heard Mitchell’s voice. It was polite, pleasant. 

“Just one other little matter before you go, Miss Nor- 
worth. Excuse me, I should now give you your correct 
name—Mrs. Grayson. I have not quite finished what you 
term my confession, Mrs. Grayson. And you, too, Mr. 
Plimpton—I think you also should hear the rest of my 
confession before completing the plans for your marriage.” 

The pair turned about. 

“Please make it brief!” Gladys ordered haughtily. 
“We’ve been here quite long enough!” 

“I shall be extremely brief, Mrs. Grayson, for I now 
have very little left to tell. And it all relates to one single 
fact. I believed as thoroughly as you did, and as other 
people did, that the report of Billy Grayson’s death was 
true. When the War was over, and my regiment was 
waiting in England to be returned to Canada, and straggling 
prisoners of war from German prison camps were being re¬ 
turned to their original outfits—why, just imagine my sur¬ 
prise, Mrs. Grayson, when Billy Grayson came plumping 
into me.” 

The flashing hauteur of Gladys’ face turned instantly to 
gray ashes, her mouth fell loosely agape. She swayed, and 
clutched Jerry. 

“Billy Grayson—was alive?” her stiff lips whispered. 




“He was as alive as you are, Mrs. Grayson. Only very 
thin, and horribly dirty, and terribly in need of a shave.” 

Again Gladys swayed into a chair, and, collapsed, huddled, 
as if with melted bones, sat staring at Mitchell with wide, 
uncomprehending eyes. Cordelia could guess how utterly 
stunned Gladys was, the life almost knocked out of her, by 
this revelation; for she herself was reeling with stupefac¬ 
tion from the surprise of this last of the many things 
Mitchell had had to say. 

“Alive ?” mumbled Gladys’ stiff lips. “Alive ? . . . How ?” 

“That’s a very commonplace story, though it was anything 
but commonplace to Billy in living it for two years and 
more. The War had thousands and thousands of cases 
just like it; too old and common a story to bother you now 
with its details. Men officially reported dead; no news 
from them; and then, the War ended, the German prison 
camps emptied, these officially dead men turned up. There 
were so many of them that they were not even news. 
Billy’s return didn’t even get a line in the papers. You 
see, officially, he was a person of no importance; he had 
never got his expected commission—he was reported dead 
before the papers could go through; and as for his having 
once been a spectacular hero, that of course had long before 
been entirely forgotten. And so, outside his own company, 
and outside his few friends, no one paid much attention to 
what had happened to Billy. And you, not being interested, 
very naturally did not hear.” 

With her gray, loose face, Gladys stared at Mitchell in 

“Billy’s first question, Mrs. Grayson,” Mitchell continued, 
“was about you. All those two years in the prison camp he 
had been thinking of little else except you. Thinking of 
you was the one bright thing for him in that hell of his life. 

37 § 


He was more in love with you than ever. And you—you 
weren’t fit to kiss the rags of shoes he wore. He wanted 
to get right to you. I wasn’t going to let a fine, loyal man 
like Billy be humiliated by you, have him break his heart 
in your presence. I wasn’t going to let the man I loved, a 
man with the tremendous woman-hunger that a war-prison 
creates in one, go silly about your foolish self again. I was 
going to cure him, if a cure was possible. 

“But I certainly had my work cut out for me. I broke 
the thing to him bit by bit. I told him a few technical lies, 
but in its essence everything I told him was the truth. I 
told him that you were ashamed of him because he was a 
mechanic; that you had never acknowledged your marriage 
to him; that when the report had come of his death, you 
had been glad, for it had freed you of the shame of ever 
having to acknowledge him as your husband; that, hiding 
the marriage of which you were ashamed, you were passing 
yourself off as an unmarried woman. There was one im¬ 
portant fact I held back from him—Frangois. I was afraid 
if he knew he had a son it might upset all my plans to cure 
him, to save him. I felt sure Esther would save the son; 
just then the most important thing in the world to me was to 
save the father. So I told him these things; later he had a 
chance to prove them to himself. He has seen you often, 
Mrs. Grayson, when you didn’t know he was watching you. 
What he learned at first broke his heart, but it cured him. 
He’s simple and modest, Billy Grayson is, but he’s got a real 
man’s pride; he wanted nothing to do with a wife who was 
ashamed of him.” 

Again slow, dazed words came from Gladys’ stiff lips. 

“So—he’s really alive? . . . Still alive?” 

“He’s still alive, Mrs. Grayson. He’s gone back to his 
old trade. He runs a garage out in Cleveland. I’m sure, 



Mrs. Grayson, all your society friends will be delighted 
with your splendid match when they learn that your husband 
runs a garage.” 

His last thrust was wasted on her. She was feeling 
too many other things just then to feel mere irony. 

“And he,” she mumbled on, “he—he knows all this?” 

“He didn’t know it all at the time. But he knows it all 
now. Everything. Five days ago I told him everything, 
including the deceptions I’d practised first to revenge him, 
and later to save him. And he’s forgiven me. Not till five 
days ago did he know that he had a son. A few minutes 
ago you declared to Esther you intended to take Frangois 
back. You will not! Billy has gone crazy over Frangois 
and Frangois has gone crazy over Billy. You would have 
had a poor chance of getting him away from Esther, to 
whom you gave what amounts to a quitclaim! You’ll 
have no chance at all to get him away from his father! 
Not with your record as a wife, and particularly your record 
as a mother!” 

Breathless from this swift development, Cordelia looked 
across at Esther. Esther was pale, but her set face held 
no surprise. It was evident that Esther had known all these 
things before she had entered the office—had perhaps known 
them for days. Cordelia’s head turned back just in time 
to see the limp figure of Gladys fling itself with galvanic 
energy from its chair. 

“I don’t believe it!” she cried to Mitchell with a hysteri¬ 
cal burst of imperious defiance. “You’re trying to trick 
me again! As you did before! It’s lies—all lies! But 
you can’t fool me this time! I don’t believe a word of it!” 

“This time I’m not asking you to believe a word of it.” 
Mitchell stepped to the door of‘ his inner office, opened it 
and called: 



“Just step in here a minute, Billy.” 

Cordelia, her breath again held, watched the open door; 
and there walked in—she already had a swift suspicion as 
to who Billy was—there walked in the big, pleasant-faced 
“Mr. Aldrich” who had been so much about their apart¬ 
ment these last few days and who had grown so friendly 

with Esther and Frangois. As he entered, the glow of 
her imperious defiance left Gladys as though it were a 

light that had been switched off, and her face had the 

wild, appalled stare of those who gaze upon the unwelcomely 
resurrected dead. 

“Billy. . . . Billy Grayson. . . came in a faintest 
breath from her. 

Gladys said no more; she could say no more. No one 
else spoke. Cordelia, though almost as amazed as Gladys, 
yet got an impression of the scene as a whole. Mitchell 
and Esther showed no surprise—this was their play, en¬ 
acted according to plan; and also Grayson showed no sur¬ 
prise, though he was very white as he gazed straight into 
the eyes of the wife who had been ashamed to own her 
husband, the mother who had been ashamed to own her 
child. The eyes of the two silent men—who were they, 
anyhow?—were popping with excitement. And Gladys, she 
continued motionless, with that stricken, frightened, ap¬ 
palled, world-lost stare. And Jerry, he had the ghastly 
pallor of a sick man who is dying on his feet. 

Cordelia’s eyes, now far more sensitive to real values 
than in other days, instinctively compared Grayson and Jerry 
—the husband, with the. husband that was to have been. 
Her judgment was instantaneous, incontrovertible: judged 
upon his worth as a man, how very much the better—oh, 
how very much the better—Gladys’ first choice had been! 

The faint, worded breath again issued from Gladys’ 


palsied lips; and once again she spoke wholly from the 
angle, and with the color, of self-pity. 

“Billy Grayson . . . why have you kept this hidden all 
these years? . . . only to make it known at such a 
time . . . such a time . . . when I was about to marry 
. . . marry. . . .” 

Her whisper dwindled away into silence. 

“Let me answer her, Billy/’ cut in Mitchell. “I’ve be¬ 
gun this business with her; let me finish it. Mrs. Grayson, 
I’ll divide what you ask into two parts: why was this 
kept hidden from you all these years? To suit me, that 
is part of the answer; and you may go as far as you 
like in blaming me. Billy’s part of the answer is this: 
You had never, except during the first few days, shown 
the slightest interest in him as a husband; in fact, you have 
hidden the fact all these years that he is your husband. I 
told you Billy had a man’s pride. Since you were too 
proud to recognize him, he was too proud to recognize 
you. And since you had hidden the marriage all these 
years, he decided he also would hide it. The relationship 
was a dishonor to him; he was glad to be clear of you. 
And he would not now be coming forward and admitting 
the disgrace of being your husband did he not desire to 
prevent your becoming in actuality what your pride has 
for years falsely led you to believe yourself to be—a 
bigamous wife! Is that much of the answer plain enough?” 

It evidently was. But she did not speak. 

“In connection with that, here’s another point, Mrs. Gray¬ 
son. Now that Billy’s had the humiliation of having had 
publicly to recognize you as his wife, you are going to have 
the humiliation of remaining publicly his wife. You are 
probably already thinking of a divorce. Well, you’ll never 
get it!—not if I have my way! As for Billy Grayson, I’ll 



say he’s not interested in another woman; his one marriage 
has cured him of women; he’s satisfied to let the cards 
rest exactly as they’ve fallen. You can’t get a divorce in 
the State of New York; you haven’t grounds for action, 
and you won’t be given grounds. And if you go to another 
state and start suit on some such grounds as desertion, he’ll 
be in that state, and in court, to prove that he hasn’t deserted 
you. He’s not anxious to live with you; not at all; though 
if you insist, you can have half of his apartment above his 
garage. No use trying to get out of it—you are now Mrs. 
William Grayson for keeps; wife of the garage-man. 

“And now, Mrs. Grayson, for the second part of your 
question,” Mitchell went on. “But first there is still one 
other little fact I should make known to you and Mr. 
Plimpton. I have told you that these two gentlemen, Mr. 
Emerson and Mr. Bailey, were interested in our conference, 
but I did not tell you the nature of their interest. That 
information I shall at this point give you. You and Mr. 
Plimpton will recall that on an earlier occasion when Mr. 
Plimpton’s marriage arrangements were disturbed, there 
was present a very considerable representation of the press. 
It seemed to me that on this occasion, when Mr. Plimpton 
might feel that his marriage arrangements were being a 
second time disturbed, it would be no more than fair that 
the press should again be represented. But I could not 
accommodate a crowd. Only these two. Mr. Emerson rep¬ 
resents the Associated Press, which serves newspapers 
throughout the country—and, through allied agencies, 
throughout the world. Mr. Bailey is from the City News 
Association, which serves news to all the papers of New 
York City. Together, I am certain they will secure us 
adequate publicity.” 

Neither Gladys nor Jerry at that moment seemed con- 



cemed over this matter of adequate press attention. 

“Now, Mrs. Grayson, for the second part of your ques¬ 
tion: Why was this kept hidden only to be told when you 
were about to be married ?” Mitchell’s voice was now 
hard, driving. “You yourself are chiefly to blame for this. 
And this Jerry Plimpton is partly to blame. If, on what 
was to have been Miss Marlowe’s wedding day, you had 
not, by your lies, disgracefully broken up her marriage and 
smirched her reputation, this thing would never have hap¬ 
pened in this way. Never! You would have been told, of 
course; but told in some quiet manner, and with no intent 
of publicly humiliating you. But on the day that you pub¬ 
licly smashed Miss Marlowe, I swore that I was going to 
hold this thing back and wait for the day when you were in 
the same situation Miss Marlowe was at that time in— 
engaged and about to be married—and then, exactly as you 
had smashed Miss Marlowe with lies, I would smash you 
with the truth! And I’ve done it! I wanted to pay off the 
cad of a Jerry Plimpton, too—but in my best dream I 
did not see such luck as this! The two of you! The 
two of you at once! The two of you! . . . And now, 
Mrs. Grayson, is this sufficient answer to your question?” 

Apparently it was. At least she asked for nothing 
further. Mitchell turned to the two newspaper men. 

“On that other occasion to which I have referred, some 
one remarked to the reporters that he believed they had a 
rather interesting story. I can now repeat that remark. I 
believe you have a rather interesting story. Very! For 
myself, I make just one request: try to see that the papers 
print Mrs. Grayson’s sworn confession clearing Miss Mar¬ 
lowe. That’s why I gave you the copies of the affidavits.” 

“The papers will eat that alive!” exclaimed the City Press, 



Mitchell now turned to Jerry. 

“On that previous occasion, Mr. Plimpton, you were 
asked if you had any little announcement you wished to 
make to the press concerning your marriage. You had. 
The situation now is more or less the same. So again the 
same question is put to you: Have you any little announce¬ 
ment you wish to make to the press concerning your mar¬ 
riage ?” 

The sick-faced, benumbed Jerry apparently had neither 
anything to say, nor the power of saying it if he had had. 

“Then I’ll say it for you!” Again Mitchell’s voice was 
hard, driving. “And if the newspaper men, fearing libel 
laws, think it safer not to express their opinions of you in 
their own words, they are at full liberty to quote all I say 
and to quote me as saying anything I should have said but 
have left out. If you feel this a disgrace to the important 
Jerry Plimpton, and a disgrace to the sacred Plimpton 
name, just remember that you had it coming to you and 
that you brought it upon yourself! Instead of being man 
enough to respect and trust and believe the woman you had 
promised to marry, when the worst against her was nothing 
dishonorable but was that in her ignorance she had acted a 
bit foolishly and had been duped—instead of being a real 
man, you chose, on Miss Marlowe’s wedding day, to believe 
the lies of this liar here, and the lies of another liar, as 
against your promised wife’s truth, and you publicly cast 
her aside and publicly discredited her! I hope, you damned 
cad, that you, and your Plimpton dignity, writhe till your 
last days! And I hope that the newspapers laugh you out 
of the country!” 

Mitchell took Jerry by his arm. 

“I’ve been a butler in my time, Mr. Plimpton, and as 
such it has been my duty to show many men the door. But 


in all my life I have never had so much pleasure in showing 
any man the door as I now have in showing you the 
door! And I hope that all the world shows you the door !’* 

As he spoke, Mitchell had been pressing Jerry, unresist- 
ing and still speechless, before him across the room. At 
the last words Mitchell pushed Jerry through the door, and 
then closed it. 

Cordelia had been watching Mitchell and Jerry; but 
Gladys, eyes on her husband, had taken no notice of this, 
last. Cordelia’s gaze now shifted to this pair. For a space 
there was utter silence in the room, not a motion. Gladys’ 
look was still what it had been when she had first seen her 
husband enter the room: that stricken, appalled stare of one 
gazing upon the unwelcomely resurrected dead. His white 
face continued gazing steadfastly into her eyes. He had 
not uttered a single word. 

Thus, with wife and husband gazing at each other, several 
moments passed. Then Gladys’ eyes wavered; she turned 
away, and without another word to him or any of them, her 
body drooping forward, she unsteadily crossed the room, 
fumbled at the door, and passed out. 



Cordelia’s eyes remained upon the door for several 
moments after Gladys had gone. Her own feelings toward 
Gladys at that period she could not have analyzed; dom¬ 
inating these personal feelings was an awed sense of what 
had happened to Gladys. Gladys had lied with her lips and 
her life, she had schemed, she had twisted this way, she 
had turned that way, she had used every trick her wit could 
command—all to serve her pride, her vanity, her supreme 
selfishness; and this was what all her lying and scheming 
and selfishness had brought her. 

They had lost her Jerry Plimpton. They had lost her a 
husband who looked a fine, simple, sincere man. They had 
lost her her son, a darling, manly little fellow. They had 
brought on her the humiliation of this broken engagement. 
They were making public the long-hidden story of her 
marriage, with its details of her being ashamed of her hus¬ 
band because of her snobbery—her relief in her husband’s 
reported death because that death made it possible for her 
to keep the marriage secret—her hidden maternity and her 
adoption of her own son—her submitting to blackmail— 
her public denial of her son—and, capping the vast edifice of 
chagrin built by her pride, this final fact that everything had 
been quite regular and legal from the first and that the years 
of her suffering from a supposed shame had been brought 
upon her solely because of her snobbishness and cowardice. 



All these, Cordelia in this awed summary foresaw, were 
things the world of Gladys would never forget. 

Nothing . . . nothing that could possibly have happened 
to Gladys could have struck more truly the heart of her 
vanity than these things which had happened. Of all the 
things which she had once had, and dreamed of having, 
Gladys had only one thing left—her money. . . . Only her 
money! . . . 

While she thus thought Cordelia had been conscious of 
voices in the room, but not of the words spoken. Now the 
words dimly registered upon her brain; they came from the 
City Press man. 

“It’s a whale of a story! The papers won't be satisfied 
with City Press dope on a story like this. I’ll ’phone in to 
my office, and the office will flash a bulletin to all the papers, 
and in about ten minutes you’ll have ten dozen reporters 
here. Might as well get ready for them.” 

Cordelia was aware that the next moment the two news¬ 
paper men had gone. She was utterly dazed by what had 
happened; by what might be its meaning to her. Just then 
she wanted nothing else quite so much as to be alone—to 
clear her brain—to think. 

She stood up, and spoke to Mitchell. 

“I want to thank you—for all you’ve done for me—and 
that’s all I can say now.” 

She shook the hand he offered her. And she gripped 
Esther’s hand, and Grayson’s, neither of whom spoke. 

“If you don’t mind, please,” she went on, “I’d like to be 
alone—for a while.” 

She passed into her little cubby-hole of an office, closed 
the door, sank into her chair and dropped her head in her 
folded arms upon the desk beside her typewriter. She sat 
there soundless, tremors running through her. She had not 

3 88 


a single thought; just then thought was beyond her. Wild 
sensations dizzied through her, but they were as inarticu¬ 
late, as formless, as impermanent as are the swift, roaring 
phantasms of a person who is going into, or coming out of, 

And for her, just then, time was as much a nullity, a void, 
as it is to a person in ether, and its twilight stages. And 
in so far as she was conscious, consciousness was merely a 
series of hiatuses with brief instants when mind or soul 
seemed barely to touch a bit of reality and then flash 
away. . . . She heard voices in the room she had left, 
many voices; and her subconsciousness, from its vastly re¬ 
mote distance, told her that these were the voices of many 
reporters. . . . And then, after a timeless interval, the 
voices were gone; no sound came from the next room. . . . 
And then, after another timeless interval, her door seemed 
to open, a paper seemed to be laid before her, the door 
seemed to close. That remote subconsciousness dimly told 
her Mitchell had slipped in, and then slipped out. . . . 

An hour, perhaps several hours, may have passed. She 
pulled herself up out of her swirling emotional anaesthesia, 
and looked at the paper Mitchell had brought her. It was 
an afternoon paper, and in it was a hasty, preliminary ac¬ 
count of that morning’s happenings. But there, printed in 
full, was Gladys’ affidavit. 

Her brain began to clear, to function. Her heart leaped 
at that affidavit—Mitchell’s work!—clearing her. She was 
cleared! The world might think her a fool—she herself 
thought she had been a fool. But the world could no longer 
think her consciously and wilfully dishonest. At last the 
world would have to admit that she had been lied about— 
that in intention she had always been honest! 

She was glad that at last the world would acknowledge 


her honest. But aside from this, she seemed to care very- 
little what the world thought of her. 

She pushed the paper from her, and her clearing brain 
began to go about in the groove of a circle her thoughts 
had worn a few months earlier when she had begun slowly 
to re-win her self-respect and had first begun to philosophize 
a bit, a circle whose course was determined by Gladys, 
Jackie, Ailine, herself—a circle whose circumference con¬ 
tained innumerable mates at Harcourt Hall, countless friends 
of society—smart, brilliant girls, all of them—but a circle 
whose high, determining points were ever Gladys, Jackie, 
Ailine, herself. . . . Gladys, Jackie, Ailine, herself. . . . 
Herself, Ailine, Jackie, Gladys. . . . Round and round ill 
its groove went her mind. . . . Yes, they had been a smart, 
brilliant lot. And to-day? To-day, the restless Jackie start¬ 
ing out to string herself a necklace of husbands; only no 
knot at the end of her string, and the latest bead slipping off 
as the newest is slipped on. And Ailine? Ailine, living 
alone for pleasure; dancing her life away; turning all her 
splendid youth into nothing better than a smooth floor for 
her dancing feet; just a decorated and decorative wanton. 
And Gladys ? Gladys, by her own selfish acts bereft of all; 
shamed and laughed at; nothing left but her money. And 
herself, Cordelia ? Why, she— 

She was dazed, her breath was swept from her, by the 
swift upward rush of her thoughts. 

Why, after all, she was making the best finish of the lot! 
She had found something real in life, something worth 
while! Of the four, she was the success! 

It was toward this concrete realization that her mind 
had been moving all that while it had been away from her, 
circling its remote ether: all the long while she had been 
sitting here in her little office. And as she lit upon this 



truth, she straightened up in her chair with a thrill and 
gazed with distant, be-dazzled eyes at her wall three feet 

Of them all she was the success! 

For she had found her real self; perhaps a small self; but 
such as it was, she had found it, and upon it she could 
build, and keep on building; it would grow, and keep on 
growing. Build and grow, until finally— 

From out of nowhere that old haunting phrase flashed 
back upon her: Cordelia the Magnificent. How empty 
it sounded! She smiled at its pretension. . . . And then 
she sobered, as an awing thought, related to that old title, 
surged into her mind. Why—why—if there was any such 
thing as true magnificence—that magnificence which comes 
from discovering one’s self, and keeping on being one’s 
best self, and helping one’s best self to grow—why, her 
feet were now in the beginning of the one path that led 
to it! 

Cordelia the Magnificent! But, oh, such a different 
kind of magnificence! So very, very different! . . . 

But if she was anything now, and was ever to be any¬ 
thing more, credit for it did not belong to her. Oh, but 
she had been lucky! For luck, that was all that had won 
for her!—saved her and let the others go! Luck, just 

Luck! . . . and—why—why, of course! Mitchell! 

Mitchell! . . . 

Gratitude, humility, joy inexpressible, swelled within 
her . . . kept on swelling . . . kept on swelling . . . and 
her distant eyes fixed on her three-foot-away partition grew 
more awedly bright with the miracle of it all. . . . 

Presently Mitchell came in again and quietly sat 
down, the room’s tiny size forcing him to sit within a foot 


of her. Hours must have passed. She did not know. 

“There is just one little last thing I have to tell you/’ he 
said quietly. “My name—my last name. It’s Harrison. 
Harrison nobody-at-all. I told you long ago Mitchell was 
quite as good a name, and quite as important. My only 
reason for not using my own name was, when I went to 
work as a butler, I thought another name might do as a 
butler just as well. And I kept the name, after my plans 
concerning Gladys began to take shape, because I feared, 
if my real name were known, through my real name some 
one might trace down Billy Grayson and the truth would 
come out before I was quite ready for it to come out. 
That’s all there is to that. That’s the last of my little mys¬ 
teries, and now you know as much about me as I know 
about myself.” 

She hardly heard this. He had been looking at her very 
steadily while he spoke. She had never before noted, so 
clearly as now, what fine, candid, sympathetic, understand¬ 
ing eyes he had. All the great feelings in her—she felt as 
though they were about— 

His quiet voice went on; but there was that look in those 
fine eyes that required no words. 

“You will remember you once said, if you were ever 
cleared, I might again ask—” 

That was as far as she let him go. That gratitude, 
humility, joy, swelling in her, had now swelled to where 
nothing could confine them. They burst forth. 

“You needn’t ask!” she cried. She flung her arms about 
his neck, and held him tightly as one clutches joy and 
salvation; and her words went on, broken and choked with 
thrilled ecstatic sobs: “Oh, I’m so happy! ... so happy! 
, . . And I haven’t deserved it! ... I haven’t deserved it! 
... I haven’t deserved it! ... I haven’t deserved it! . . . 



What remains to be told of this history are merely those 
disconnected odds and ends which in most histories appear 
at the end of the volume under the heading “Addenda.” 
The following addenda are dated approximately one year 
later than the afternoon when Cordelia sobbed her ecstatic 
incoherencies upon the co-ecstatic shoulder of Mitchell. 

Mitchell—or, more correctly, one should say Harrison— 
no, he might as well remain Mitchell through these few re¬ 
maining lines—Mitchell was entirely within the facts when 
he remarked that the story he revealed might prove rather 
interesting to the newspapers. It did so prove. Rather! 
What more does a newspaper ask for in a single story than 
these items, namely, the most marriageable bachelor in town 
having his second big marriage attempt within six months 
broken off, and broken off with attending scandalous in¬ 
cidents ; a rich and well-known young society leader, posing 
as a spinster and about to become the bride of the foregoing 
gentleman, revealed as having been married these past six 
years and being the mother of the child she had passed off 
as an adopted French war orphan; the husband to this 
splendid lady, the owner of a garage, quite willing to re¬ 
main dead as the lady wished him, because the last thing 
the garage man wished for on earth was to have the splen¬ 
did lady as a wife; a former social favorite, recently jilted 
under remembered circumstances, and since then living 




under a very dark cloud, entirely cleared of all blame by the 
sworn confession of the first lady; and mixed in with the 
foregoing people, and having his hand in their affairs, a 
very prominent attorney, accused of blackmail and various 
and sundry other malpractices:—to repeat, having all these, 
what more can a newspaper wish for in a single story? 

They had quite enough. And the papers made the most 
of this much for many days. Certainly Gladys thought it 
was enough. And so did Jerry Plimpton. 

There was one inaccuracy in the stories of the first few 
days. This related to Billy Grayson running a garage. 
This point was put in by Mitchell, in his efforts to make 
Gladys’ pride wince just a little more. There was a garage, 
to be sure; but that was a minor item. It presently devel¬ 
oped that Billy Grayson was a part-owner and factory-man¬ 
ager of a small but growing concern manufacturing automo¬ 
bile parts, a concern with several promising patents of its 
own; in fact the concern for which Mitchell was the East¬ 
ern and promotion manager. 

Mr. Franklin, as Mitchell predicted, is not a happy 
gentleman these days. Mr. Kedmore, his partner, at once 
decided it would be wiser to dissolve their partnership. 
Proceedings looking toward Franklin’s disbarment are now 
pending before the Bar Association, and criminal suits on 
several counts are being pressed against him in the courts. 
He may escape them all, for he is a man of shrewd wits; 
but the dizzy place he once looked up to as his future estate 
will be the property of some other gentleman. 

The day after the scene in Mitchell’s office Jerry Plimp¬ 
ton started on a trip around the world. He is still on that 
trip. So far as rumor knows, he has as yet announced no 
third candidate for the houses and the social honors left 
empty by the death of his distinguished mother. 



Gladys is in California, living pleasantly at Santa Bar¬ 
bara, the while her suit for divorce progresses through the 
courts. She charges “mental cruelty,” which, whatever the 
phrase may mean, is adequate grounds in California. Per¬ 
haps the phrase means a “psychic headache,” which is per¬ 
haps what Gladys has; anyhow, a divorce is quite as easy 
to get in California as a headache powder, the former 
merely requiring a little longer for the prescription to be 

During Glady’s few months of social brilliance, culmi¬ 
nating in her engagement to Jerry Plimpton, Kyle Brandon 
often spoke to her with eloquent enthusiasm of what a hit 
a handsome, popular young society woman, such as she 
was, would make if she would only go into pictures under 
his direction. Now, despite her living right next door to 
his studios, so to speak, he has not again broached the bril¬ 
liant project to her. 

Notwithstanding Mitchell’s declaring to Gladys that any 
action for divorce she started would be fought by Grayson 
her suit is not being contested. This is due to one of the 
tangles that human affection sometimes involves humans in. 
Esther may not be sure that she loves Grayson, and Gray¬ 
son may not be sure that he loves Esther; but Esther loves 
Francois and is determined to keep him; and Grayson loves 
Frangois and is determined to keep him; and Frangois loves 
them both and is determined to keep them both; and 
so, as the only compromise by which this difficulty can be 
arbitrated to suit all these unchangeable determinations, 
Esther and Grayson are going to be married as soon as 
Gladys gets her decree, and all three are going to keep each 
other. They are going to live in Cleveland. 

But this necessary loss of Frangois to Lily does not mean 
that Lily’s bantam-like, strutting mothership will abruptly 


cease to function. Its direction will be changed—has al¬ 
ready been changed—that is all. 

Cordelia still has a job; rather a new job. It is over 
this new job that Lily is so busy and bossy and strutty. 
This job is three weeks old and is of the feminine gender. 
The parents have not yet decided upon a name. Both par¬ 
ents have decided, most enthusiastically, that the daughter 
is magnificent—simply magnificent! Down in her heart, 
however, where her stoutest resolutions are made, Cor¬ 
delia has secretly decided that her daughter’s magnificence 
is not to be trained toward a social career. 

And that, as Mr. Franklin once remarked—that, I be¬ 
lieve, is all. 





A NDREW CROY hated inferiority 
of birth—for very good reasons. 
He was, in brief, a gentleman of 
sorts. So he was decidedly bitter when 
he found himself married to a girl beneath 
his station—Mary Kate, a charming mix¬ 
ture of French and Irish blood, but a girl 
of slight education and humble family. 
Their necessary marriage changed An¬ 
drew’s love into smoldering resentment at 
the loss of his social prestige in this country. 

In Paris, Andrew asks an old Marquise, 
a cousin, to train his wife. Mary Kate, by 
nature refined and half-French, is not slow 
in acquiring the gayety, the subtlety of the 
French manager. Her freshness and charm 
make her a decided success with the bril¬ 
liant, restless men and women of the 
Marquise’s set, a group,by the way, which 
is sketched with surprising vividness. Her 
popularity with these people so alters the 
situation that from now on her relation¬ 
ship with Andrew becomes a delicate study 
in nuances, in shades of feeling that reveal 
a woman’s strength and a man’s slow de¬ 
velopment of character. 


19 West 44th St. 



New York 


Author of Of All Things! 

Benchley’s humour is irresistible. He 
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as The Tooth, the Whole Tooth, and Nothing 
but the Tooth, How to Watch Auction-Bridge, 
The Increase in Bigamy, How to Measure 
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Author of The Beginning of Wisdom, Heavens and Earth, etc. 

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No. 13 TORONI 


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