THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1921
YEARBOOK OF THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY
EDWARD J. O'BRIEN
Editor of "The Best Short Stories of 1915" "The Best Short Stories of 1916" "The Best Short Stories of 1917" "The Best Short Stories of 1918" "The Best Short Stories of 1919" "The Best Short Stories of 1920" "The Great Modern English Stories," Etc
Boston Small, Maynard & Company Publishers
Copyright, 1920, by John T. Frederick, Charles J. Finger, The Dial Publishing Company, Inc., Charles Scribner's Sons, The International Magazine Company, Harper & Brothers, and Smart Set Company, Inc.
Copyright, 1921, by The Boston Transcript Company.
Copyright, 1921, by B.W. Huebsch, The Century Company, John T. Frederick, George H. Doran Company, The Dial Publishing Company, Inc., The Pictorial Review Company, The Curtis Publishing Company, The Crowell Publishing Company, Harper & Brothers, Charles Scribner's Sons, The International Magazine Company, and Smart Set Company, Inc.
Copyright, 1921, by Boni & Liveright, Inc.
Copyright, 1922, by Maxwell Struthers Burt, George H. Doran Co., Lincoln Colcord, Waldo Frank, Katharine Fullerton Gerould, Doubleday, Page & Co., Glasgow, Susan Glaspell Cook, Richard Matthews Hallet, Frances Noyes Hart, Fannie Hurst, Manuel Komroff, Frank Luther Mott, Vincent O'Sullivan, Wilbur Daniel Steele, Harriet Maxon Thayer, Charles Hanson Towne, and Mary Heaton Minor.
Copyright, 1922, by Small, Maynard & Company, Inc.
Printed in the United States of America Press of the Murray Printing Company Kendall Square, Cambridge
TO A.E. COPPARD
BY WAY OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Grateful acknowledgment for permission to include the stories and other material in this volume is made to the following authors, editors and publishers:
To the Editor of The Century Magazine, the Editor of The Bookman, the Editor of The Dial, the Editor of The Pictorial Review, the Editor of The Saturday Evening Post, the Editor of The American Magazine, the Editor of Scribner's Magazine, the Editor of Good Housekeeping, the Editor of Harper's Magazine, the Editor of The Cosmopolitan, the Editors of The Smart Set, The Editor of The Midland, Boni & Liveright, Inc., George H. Doran Co., B.W. Huebsch, Doubleday, Page & Co., Sherwood Anderson, Konrad Bercovici, Maxwell Struthers Burt, Irvin S. Cobb, Lincoln Colcord, Charles J. Finger, Waldo Frank, Katharine Fullerton Gerould, Ellen Glasgow, Susan Glaspell, Richard Matthews Hallet, Frances Noyes Hart, Fannie Hurst, Manuel Komroff, Frank Luther Mott, Vincent O'Sullivan, Wilbur Daniel Steele, Harriet Maxon Thayer, Charles Hanson Towne, and Mary Heaton Vorse.
Acknowledgments are specially due to The Boston Evening Transcript for permission to reprint the large body of material previously published in its pages.
I shall be grateful to my readers for corrections, and particularly for suggestions leading to the wider usefulness of this annual volume. In particular, I shall welcome the receipt, from authors, editors, and publishers, of stories printed during the period between October, 1921 and September, 1922 inclusive, which have qualities of distinction and yet are not printed in periodicals falling under my regular notice. Such communications may be addressed to me at Forest Hill, Oxfordshire, England.
INTRODUCTION. By the Editor. xii
BROTHERS. By Sherwood Anderson. 3 (From The Bookman)
FANUTZA. By Konrad Bercovici. 13 (From The Dial)
EXPERIMENT. By Maxwell Struthers Burt. 28 (From The Pictorial Review)
DARKNESS. By Irvin S. Cobb. 52 (From The Saturday Evening Post)
AN INSTRUMENT OF THE GODS. By Lincoln Colcord. 82 (From The American Magazine)
THE LIZARD GOD. By Charles J. Finger. 109 (From All's Well)
UNDER THE DOME. By Waldo Frank. 130 (From The Dial)
FRENCH EVA. By Katharine Fullerton Gerould. 142 (From Scribner's Magazine)
THE PAST. By Ellen Glasgow. 168 (From Good Housekeeping)
HIS SMILE. By Susan Glaspell. 194 (From The Pictorial Review)
THE HARBOR MASTER. By Richard Matthews Hallet. 207 (From Harper's Magazine)
GREEN GARDENS. By Frances Noyes Hart. 240 (From Scribner's Magazine)
SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY. By Fannie Hurst. 253 (From The Cosmopolitan)
THE LITTLE MASTER OF THE SKY. By Manuel Komroff. 288 (From The Dial)
THE MAN WITH THE GOOD FACE. By Frank Luther Mott. 300 (From The Midland)
MASTER OF FALLEN YEARS. By Vincent O'Sullivan. 321 (From The Smart Set)
THE SHAME DANCE. By Wilbur Daniel Steele. 337 (From Harper's Magazine)
KINDRED. By Harriet Maxon Thayer. 362 (From The Midland)
SHELBY. By Charles Hanson Towne. 386 (From The Smart Set)
THE WALLOW OF THE SEA. By Mary Heaton Vorse. 401 (From Harper's Magazine)
THE YEARBOOK OF THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY, OCTOBER, 1920, TO SEPTEMBER, 1921 419
Addresses of American and English Magazines Publishing Short Stories. 421
The Biographical Roll of Honor of American Short Stories. 424
The Roll of Honor of Foreign Short Stories in American Magazines. 428
The Best Books of Short Stories: A Critical Summary. 430
Volumes of Short Stories Published in the United States: An Index. 437
Volumes of Short Stories Published in England and Ireland Only. 440
Volumes of Short Stories Published in France. 442
Articles on the Short Story: An Index. 443
Index of Short Stories in Books. 457
I. American Authors. 458
II. English and Irish Authors. 461
III. Translations. 463
Magazine Averages. 466
Index of Short Stories Published in American Magazines. 469
I. American Authors. 471
II. English and Irish Authors. 500
III. Translations. 505
I was talking the other day to Alfred Coppard, who has steered more successfully than most English story writers away from the Scylla and Charybdis of the modern artist. He told me that he had been reading several new novels and volumes of short stories by contemporary American writers with that awakened interest in the civilization we are framing which is so noticeable among English writers during the past three years. He asked me a remarkable question, and the answer which I gave him suggested certain contrasts which seemed to me of basic importance for us all. He said: "I have been reading books by Sherwood Anderson, Waldo Frank and Ben Hecht and Konrad Bercovici and Joseph Hergesheimer, and I can see that they are important books, but I feel that the essential point to which all this newly awakened literary consciousness is tending has somehow subtly eluded me. American and English writers both use the same language, and so do Scotch and Irish writers, but I am not puzzled when I read Scotch and Irish books as I am when I read these new American books. Why is it?"
I had to think for a moment, and then the obvious answer occurred to me. I told him that I thought the reason for his moderate bewilderment was due to the fact that the Englishman or the Scotchman or the Irishman living at home was writing out of a background of racial memory and established tradition which was very much all of one piece, and that all such an artist's unspoken implications and subtleties could be easily taken for granted by his readers, and more or less thoroughly understood, because they were elements in harmony with a tolerably fixed and ordered world.
I added that this was more or less true of the American writer up to a date roughly coinciding with that of the Chicago World's Fair in 1892. During the thirty years more or less which have elapsed since that date, there has been an ever widening seething maelstrom of cross currents thrusting into more and more powerful conflict from year to year the contributory elements brought to a new potential American culture by the dynamic creative energies, physical and spiritual, of many races.
My suggestion to Mr. Coppard was that gradually the Anglo-Saxon, to take the most readily understandable instance, was beginning to absorb large tracts of many other racial fields of memory, and to share the experience of Scandinavian and Russian and German and Italian, of Polish and Irish and African and Asian members of the body politic, and that all these widening tracts of remembered racial experience interacting upon one another under the tremendous pressure of our nervous, keen, and eager industrial civilization had set up a new chaos in many creative minds. I said that Mr. Anderson and the others, half consciously and half unconsciously, were trying to create worlds out of each separate chaos, living dangerously, as Nietzsche advised, and fusing their conceptions at a certain calculated temperature in artistic crucibles of their own devising.
Mr. Coppard said that he quite saw that, but added that the particular meaning in each case more or less escaped him. And then I ventured to suggest that these meanings were more important for Americans at the present stage than for Europeans, because American minds would grasp readily at suggestions that harmonized with their own spiritual pasts, and seize instinctive relations and congruities which had previously escaped them in their experience, and so begin to formulate from these books new intuitive laws. I suggested, moreover, that from the point of view of the great artist these books were all more or less magnificent failures which were creating, little by little, out of the shock of conflict an ultimate harmony, out of which the great book for which we are all waiting in America might come ten years from now, or five years, or even tomorrow.
To this he replied that he felt I had supplied the clue which had baffled him, and asked me if I did not discover a chaos of a different sort in English life and literature since the armistice. I agreed that I did discover such a chaos, but that it seemed to me a chaos which was an end rather than a beginning, a chaos in which the Tower of Babel had fallen, and men had come to babble with more and more complete dissociation of ideas, or else, on the other hand, were clinging desperately to such literary and social traditions as had been left, while their work froze into a new Augustanism comparable to that of the early years of the eighteenth century.
Next year, in conjunction with John Cournos, I shall begin in a parallel series of volumes with the present series, to present my annual study of the English case. Meanwhile, for the present, I deal once more with that American chaos in which I have unbounded and ultimate faith. From now on I should like to take as my motto almost the last paragraph written by Walt Whitman before he died: "The Highest said: Don't let us begin so low—isn't our range too coarse—too gross?—The Soul answer'd: No, not when we consider what it is all for—the end involved in Time and Space." Or, as the old Dutch flour-miller put it more briefly: "I never bother myself what road the folks come—I only want good wheat and rye."
To repeat what I have said in these pages in previous years, for the benefit of the reader as yet unacquainted with my standards and principles of selection, I shall point out that I have set myself the task of disengaging the essential human qualities in our contemporary fiction which, when chronicled conscientiously by our literary artists, may fairly be called a criticism of life. I am not at all interested in formulae, and organized criticism at its best would be nothing more than dead criticism, as all dogmatic interpretation of life is always dead. What has interested me, to the exclusion of other things, is the fresh, living current which flows through the best American work, and the psychological and imaginative reality which American writers have conferred upon it.
No substance is of importance in fiction, unless it is organic substance, that is to say, substance in which the pulse of life is beating. Inorganic fiction has been our curse in the past, and bids fair to remain so, unless we exercise much greater artistic discrimination than we display at present.
The present record covers the period from October 1920, to September 1921, inclusive. During this period, I have sought to select from the stories published in American magazines those which have rendered life imaginatively in organic substance and artistic form. Substance is something achieved by the artist in every act of creation, rather than something already present, and accordingly a fact or group of facts in a story only attain substantial embodiment when the artist's power of compelling imaginative persuasion transforms them into a living truth. The first test of a short story, therefore, in any qualitative analysis is to report upon how vitally compelling the writer makes his selected facts or incidents. This test may be conveniently called the test of substance.
But a second test is necessary if the story is to take rank above other stories. The true artist will seek to shape this living substance into the most beautiful and satisfying form, by skilful selection and arrangement of his materials, and by the most direct and appealing presentation of it in portrayal and characterization.
The short stories which I have examined in this study, as in previous years, have fallen naturally into four groups. The first consists of those stories which fail, in my opinion, to survive either the test of substance or the test of form. These stories are listed in the year book without comment or a qualifying asterisk. The second group consists of those stories which may fairly claim that they survive either the test of substance or the test of form. Each of these stories may claim to possess either distinction of technique alone, or more frequently, I am glad to say, a persuasive sense of life in them to which a reader responds with some part of his own experience. Stories included in this group are indicated in the yearbook index by a single asterisk prefixed to the title.
The third group, which is composed of stories of still greater distinction, includes such narratives as may lay convincing claim to a second reading, because each of them has survived both tests, the test of substance and the test of form. Stories included in this group are indicated in the yearbook index by two asterisks prefixed to the title.
Finally, I have recorded the names of a small group of stories which possess, I believe, the even finer distinction of uniting genuine substance and artistic form in a closely woven pattern with such sincerity that these stories may fairly claim a position in American literature. If all of these stories by American authors were republished, they would not occupy more space than five novels of average length. My selection of them does not imply the critical belief that they are great stories. A year which produced one great story would be an exceptional one. It is simply to be taken as meaning that I have found the equivalent of five volumes worthy of republication among all the stories published during the period under consideration. These stories are indicated in the yearbook index by three asterisks prefixed to the title, and are listed in the special "Roll of Honor." In compiling these lists I have permitted no personal preference or prejudice to consciously influence my judgment. To the titles of certain stories, however, in the "Rolls of Honor," an asterisk is prefixed, and this asterisk, I must confess, reveals in some measure a personal preference, for which, perhaps, I may be indulged. It is from this final short list that the stories reprinted in this volume have been selected.
It has been a point of honor with me not to republish a story by an English author or by any foreign author. I have also made it a rule not to include more than one story by an individual author in the volume. The general and particular results of my study will be found explained and carefully detailed in the supplementary part of the volume.
In past years it has been my pleasure and honor to dedicate the best that I have found in the American magazines as the fruit of my labors to the American artist who, in my opinion, has made the finest imaginative contribution to the short story during the period considered. I take pleasure in recalling the names of Benjamin Rosenblatt, Richard Matthews Hallet, Wilbur Daniel Steele, Arthur Johnson, Anzia Yezierska, and Sherwood Anderson. In my opinion Sherwood Anderson has made this year once more the most permanent contribution to the American short story, but as last year's book is associated with his name, I am happy to dedicate this year's offering to a new and distinguished English artist, A.E. Coppard, to whom the future offers in my opinion a rich harvest of achievement.
EDWARD J. O'BRIEN.
Forest Hill, Oxon, England, November 23, 1921
THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1921
Note.—The order in which the stories in this volume are printed is not intended as an indication of their comparative excellence; the arrangement is alphabetical by authors.
By SHERWOOD ANDERSON
(From The Bookman)
I am at my house in the country and it is late October. It rains. Back of my house is a forest and in front there is a road and beyond that open fields. The country is one of low hills, flattening suddenly into plains. Some twenty miles away, across the flat country, lies the huge city, Chicago.
On this rainy day the leaves of the trees that line the road before my window are falling like rain, the yellow, red, and golden leaves fall straight down heavily. The rain beats them brutally down. They are denied a last golden flash across the sky. In October leaves should be carried away, out over the plains, in a wind. They should go dancing away.
Yesterday morning I arose at daybreak and went for a walk. There was a heavy fog and I lost myself in it. I went down into the plains and returned to the hills and everywhere the fog was as a wall before me. Out of it trees sprang suddenly, grotesquely, as in a city street late at night people come suddenly out of the darkness into the circle of light under a street lamp. Above there was the light of day forcing itself slowly into the fog. The fog moved slowly. The tops of trees moved slowly. Under the trees the fog was dense, purple. It was like smoke lying in the streets of a factory town.
An old man came up to me in the fog. I know him well. The people here call him insane. "He is a little cracked," they say. He lives alone in a little house buried deep in the forest and has a small dog he carries always in his arms. On many mornings I have met him walking on the road and he has told me of men and women who were his brothers and sisters, his cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers-in-law. The notion has possession of him. He cannot draw close to people near at hand so he gets hold of a name out of a newspaper and his mind plays with it. One morning he told me he was a cousin to the man named Cox who at the time when I write is a candidate for the presidency. On another morning he told me that Caruso the singer had married a woman who was his sister-in-law. "She is my wife's sister," he said, holding the little dog closely. His gray watery eyes looked appealingly up to me. He wanted me to believe. "My wife was a sweet slim girl," he declared. "We lived together in a big house and in the morning walked about arm in arm. Now her sister has married Caruso the singer. He is of my family now." As some one had told me the old man had never been married I went away wondering.
One morning in early September I came upon him sitting under a tree beside a path near his house. The dog barked at me and then ran and crept into his arms. At that time the Chicago newspapers were filled with the story of a millionaire who had got into trouble with his wife because of an intimacy with an actress. The old man told me the actress was his sister. He is sixty years old and the actress whose story appeared in the newspapers is twenty, but he spoke of their childhood together. "You would not realize it to see us now but we were poor then," he said. "It's true. We lived in a little house on the side of a hill. Once when there was a storm the wind nearly swept our house away. How the wind blew. Our father was a carpenter and he built strong houses for other people but our own house he did not build very strongly." He shook his head sorrowfully. "My sister the actress has got into trouble. Our house is not built very strongly," he said as I went away along the path.
For a month, two months, the Chicago newspapers, that are delivered every morning in our village, have been filled with the story of a murder. A man there has murdered his wife and there seems no reason for the deed. The tale runs something like this—
The man, who is now on trial in the courts and will no doubt be hanged, worked in a bicycle factory where he was a foreman, and lived with his wife and his wife's mother in an apartment in Thirty-Second Street. He loved a girl who worked in the office of the factory where he was employed. She came from a town in Iowa and when she first came to the city lived with her aunt who has since died. To the foreman, a heavy stolid-looking man with gray eyes, she seemed the most beautiful woman in the world. Her desk was by a window at an angle of the factory, a sort of wing of the building, and the foreman, down in the shop, had a desk by another window. He sat at his desk making out sheets containing the record of the work done by each man in his department. When he looked up he could see the girl sitting at work at her desk. The notion got into his head that she was peculiarly lovely. He did not think of trying to draw close to her or of winning her love. He looked at her as one might look at a star or across a country of low hills in October when the leaves of the trees are all red and yellow gold. "She is a pure, virginal thing," he thought vaguely. "What can she be thinking about as she sits there by the window at work?"
In fancy the foreman took the girl from Iowa home with him to his apartment in Thirty-Second Street and into the presence of his wife and his mother-in-law. All day in the shop and during the evening at home he carried her figure about with him in his mind. As he stood by a window in his apartment and looked out toward the Illinois Central railroad tracks and beyond the tracks to the lake, the girl was there beside him. Down below women walked in the street and in every woman he saw there was something of the Iowa girl. One woman walked as she did, another made a gesture with her hand that reminded of her. All the women he saw except only his wife and his mother-in-law were like the girl he had taken inside himself.
The two women in his own house puzzled and confused him. They became suddenly unlovely and commonplace. His wife in particular was like some strange unlovely growth that had attached itself to his body.
In the evening after the day at the factory he went home to his own place and had dinner. He had always been a silent man and when he did not talk no one minded. After dinner he, with his wife, went to a picture show. When they came home his wife's mother sat under an electric light reading. There were two children and his wife expected another. They came into the apartment and sat down. The climb up two flights of stairs had wearied his wife. She sat in a chair beside her mother groaning with weariness.
The mother-in-law was the soul of goodness. She took the place of a servant in the home and got no pay. When her daughter wanted to go to a picture show she waved her hand and smiled. "Go on," she said. "I don't want to go. I'd rather sit here." She got a book and sat reading. The little boy of nine awoke and cried. He wanted to sit on the po-po. The mother-in-law attended to that.
After the man and his wife came home the three people sat in silence for an hour or two before bedtime. The man pretended to read a newspaper. He looked at his hands. Although he had washed them carefully grease from the bicycle frames left dark stains under the nails. He thought of the Iowa girl and of her white quick hands playing over the keys of a typewriter. He felt dirty and uncomfortable.
The girl at the factory knew the foreman had fallen in love with her and the thought excited her a little. Since her aunt's death she had gone to live in a rooming house and had nothing to do in the evening. Although the foreman meant nothing to her she could in a way use him. To her he became a symbol. Sometimes he came into the office and stood for a moment by the door. His large hands were covered with black grease. She looked at him without seeing. In his place in her imagination stood a tall slender young man. Of the foreman she saw only the gray eyes that began to burn with a strange fire. The eyes expressed eagerness, a humble and devout eagerness. In the presence of a man with such eyes she felt she need not be afraid.
She wanted a lover who would come to her with such a look in his eyes. Occasionally, perhaps once in two weeks, she stayed a little late at the office, pretending to have work that must be finished. Through the window she could see the foreman, waiting. When every one had gone she closed her desk and went into the street. At the same moment the foreman came out at the factory door.
They walked together along the street, a half-dozen blocks, to where she got aboard her car. The factory was in a place called South Chicago and as they went along evening was coming on. The streets were lined with small unpainted frame houses and dirty-faced children ran screaming in the dusty roadway. They crossed over a bridge. Two abandoned coal barges lay rotting in the stream.
He went along by her side walking heavily, striving to conceal his hands. He had scrubbed them carefully before leaving the factory but they seemed to him like heavy dirty pieces of waste matter hanging at his side. Their walking together happened but a few times and during one summer. "It's hot," he said. He never spoke to her of anything but the weather. "It's hot," he said; "I think it may rain."
She dreamed of the lover who would some time come, a tall fair young man, a rich man owning houses and lands. The workingman who walked beside her had nothing to do with her conception of love. She walked with him, stayed at the office until the others had gone to walk unobserved with him, because of his eyes, because of the eager thing in his eyes that was at the same time humble, that bowed down to her. In his presence there was no danger, could be no danger. He would never attempt to approach too closely, to touch her with his hands. She was safe with him.
In his apartment in the evening the man sat under the electric light with his wife and his mother-in-law. In the next room his two children were asleep. In a short time his wife would have another child. He had been with her to a picture show and presently they would get into bed together.
He would lie awake thinking, would hear the creaking of the springs of a bed from where, in another room, his mother-in-law was crawling under the sheets. Life was too intimate. He would lie awake eager, expectant—expecting what?
Nothing. Presently one of the children would cry. It wanted to get out of bed and sit on the po-po. Nothing strange or unusual or lovely would or could happen. Life was too close, intimate. Nothing that could happen in the apartment could in any way stir him. The things his wife might say, her occasional half-hearted outbursts of passion, the goodness of his stout mother-in-law who did the work of a servant without pay—
He sat in the apartment under the electric light pretending to read a newspaper—thinking. He looked at his hands. They were large, shapeless, a workingman's hands.
The figure of the girl from Iowa walked about the room. With her he went out of the apartment and walked in silence through miles of streets. It was not necessary to say words. He walked with her by a sea, along the crest of a mountain. The night was clear and silent and the stars shone. She also was a star. It was not necessary to say words.
Her eyes were like stars and her lips were like soft hills rising out of dim, star-lit plains. "She is unattainable, she is far off like the stars," he thought. "She is unattainable like the stars but unlike the stars she breathes, she lives, like myself she has being."
One evening, some six weeks ago, the man who worked as foreman in the bicycle factory killed his wife and he is now in the courts being tried for murder. Every day the newspapers are filled with the story. On the evening of the murder he had taken his wife as usual to a picture show and they started home at nine. In Thirty-Second Street, at a corner near their apartment building, the figure of a man darted suddenly out of an alleyway and then darted back again. That incident may have put the idea of killing his wife into the man's head.
They got to the entrance to the apartment building and stepped into a dark hallway. Then quite suddenly and apparently without thought the man took a knife out of his pocket. "Suppose that man who darted into the alleyway had intended to kill us," he thought. Opening the knife he whirled about and struck his wife. He struck twice, a dozen times—madly. There was a scream and his wife's body fell.
The janitor had neglected to light the gas in the lower hallway. Afterward, the foreman decided that was the reason he did it, that and the fact that the dark slinking figure of a man darted out of an alleyway and then darted back again. "Surely," he told himself, "I could never have done it had the gas been lighted."
He stood in the hallway thinking. His wife was dead and with her had died her unborn child. There was a sound of doors opening in the apartments above. For several minutes nothing happened. His wife and her unborn child were dead—that was all.
He ran upstairs thinking quickly. In the darkness on the lower stairway he had put the knife back into his pocket and, as it turned out later, there was no blood on his hands or on his clothes. The knife he later washed carefully in the bathroom, when the excitement had died down a little. He told everyone the same story. "There has been a holdup," he explained. "A man came slinking out of an alleyway and followed me and my wife home. He followed us into the hallway of the building and there was no light." The janitor had neglected to light the gas. Well there had been a struggle and in the darkness his wife had been killed. He could not tell how it had happened. "There was no light. The janitor had neglected to light the gas," he kept saying.
For a day or two they did not question him specially and he had time to get rid of the knife. He took a long walk and threw it away into the river in South Chicago where the two abandoned coal barges lay rotting under the bridge, the bridge he had crossed when on the summer evenings he walked to the street car with the girl who was virginal and pure, who was far off and unattainable, like a star and yet not like a star.
And then he was arrested and right away he confessed—told everything. He said he did not know why he had killed his wife and was careful to say nothing of the girl at the office. The newspapers tried to discover the motive for the crime. They are still trying. Some one had seen him on the few evenings when he walked with the girl and she was dragged into the affair and had her picture printed in the paper. That has been annoying for her, as of course she has been able to prove she had nothing to do with the man.
* * * * *
Yesterday morning a heavy fog lay over our village here at the edge of the city and I went for a long walk in the early morning. As I returned out of the lowlands into our hill country I met the old man whose family has so many and such strange ramifications. For a time he walked beside me holding the little dog in his arms. It was cold and the dog whined and shivered. In the fog the old man's face was indistinct. It moved slowly back and forth with the fog banks of the upper air and with the tops of trees. He spoke of the man who has killed his wife and whose name is being shouted in the pages of the city newspapers that come to our village each morning. As he walked beside me he launched into a long tale concerning a life he and his brother, who had now become a murderer, had once lived together. "He is my brother," he said over and over, shaking his head. He seemed afraid I would not believe. There was a fact that must be established. "We were boys together, that man and I," he began again. "You see we played together in a barn back of our father's house. Our father went away to sea in a ship. That is the way our names became confused. You understand that. We have different names but we are brothers. We had the same father. We played together in a barn back of our father's house. All day we lay together in the hay in the barn and it was warm there."
In the fog the slender body of the old man became like a little gnarled tree. Then it became a thing suspended in air. It swung back and forth like a body hanging on the gallows. The face beseeched me to believe the story the lips were trying to tell. In my mind everything concerning the relationship of men and women became confused, a muddle. The spirit of the man who had killed his wife came into the body of the little old man there by the roadside. It was striving to tell me the story it would never be able to tell in the courtroom in the city, in the presence of the judge. The whole story of mankind's loneliness, of the effort to reach out to unattainable beauty tried to get itself expressed from the lips of a mumbling old man, crazed with loneliness, who stood by the side of a country road on a foggy morning holding a little dog in his arms.
The arms of the old man held the dog so closely that it began to whine with pain. A sort of convulsion shook his body. The soul seemed striving to wrench itself out of the body, to fly away through the fog down across the plain to the city, to the singer, the politician, the millionaire, the murderer, to its brothers, cousins, sisters, down in the city. The intensity of the old man's desire was terrible and in sympathy my body began to tremble. His arms tightened about the body of the little dog so that it screamed with pain. I stepped forward and tore the arms away and the dog fell to the ground and lay whining. No doubt it had been injured. Perhaps ribs had been crushed. The old man stared at the dog lying at his feet as in the hallway of the apartment building the worker from the bicycle factory had stared at his dead wife. "We are brothers," he said again. "We have different names but we are brothers. Our father you understand went off to sea."
* * * * *
I am sitting in my house in the country and it rains. Before my eyes the hills fall suddenly away and there are the flat plains and beyond the plains the city. An hour ago the old man of the house in the forest went past my door and the little dog was not with him. It may be that as we talked in the fog he crushed the life out of his companion. It may be that the dog like the workman's wife and her unborn child is now dead. The leaves of the trees that line the road before my window are falling like rain—the yellow, red, and golden leaves fall straight down, heavily. The rain beats them brutally down. They are denied a last golden flash across the sky. In October leaves should be carried away, out over the plains, in a wind. They should go dancing away.
By KONRAD BERCOVICI
(From The Dial)
Light and soft, as though the wind were blowing the dust off the silver clouds that floated overhead, the first snow was falling over the barren lands stretching between the Danube and the Black Sea. A lowland wind, which had already hardened and tightened the marshes, was blowing the snow skywards. The fine silvery dust, caught between the two air currents, danced lustily, blown hither and thither until it took hold of folds and rifts in the frozen land and began to form rugged white ridges that stretched in soft silvery curves to meet other growing mountains of snow. The lowland wind, at first a mere breeze playfully teasing the north wind, like a child that kicks the bed-sheets before falling asleep, increased its force and swiftness, and scattered huge mountains of snow, but the steadily rising drone of the north wind soon mastered the situation. Like silver grain strewn by an unseen hand the snow fell obliquely in steady streams over the land. A great calm followed. The long Dobrudgean winter had started. In the dim steady light, in the wake of the great calm, travelling towards the Danube from the Black Sea, the "marea Neagra," four gipsy wagons, each drawn by four small horses, appeared on the frozen plains. The caravan was brought to a standstill within sight of the slowly moving river. The canvas-covered wagons ranged themselves, broadwise, in a straight line with the wind. Between the wagons enough space was allowed to stable the horses. Then, when that part of the business had been done, a dozen men, in furs from head to toe, quickly threw a canvas that roofed the temporary quarters of the animals and gave an additional overhead protection from the snow and wind to the dwellers of the wheeled homes.
While the unharnessing and quartering of the horses and the stretching of the canvas roof proceeded, a number of youngsters jumped down from the wagons, yelling and screaming with all the power of their lusty lungs. They threw snowballs at one another as they ran, some in search of firewood and others, with wooden pails dangling from ends of curved sticks over the left shoulder, in search of water for the horses and for the cooking pots of their mothers.
Soon afterwards, from little crooked black chimneys that pointed downwards over the roofs of the wagons, thick black smoke told that the fires were already started. The youngsters came back; those with the full water pails marching erectly with legs well apart; the ones with bundles of firewood strapped to their shoulders leaning forward on knotted sticks so as not to fall under the heavy burden.
When everything had been done, Marcu, the tall gray-bearded chief, inspected the work. A few of the ropes needed tightening. He did it himself, shaking his head in disapproval of the way in which it had been done. Then he listened carefully to the blowing of the wind and measured its velocity and intensity. He called to his men. When they had surrounded him, he spoke a few words. With shovels and axes they set energetically to work at his direction, packing a wall of snow and wood from the ground up over the axles of the wheels all around the wagons so as to give greater solidity to the whole and to prevent the cold wind from blowing underneath.
By the time the early night settled over the marshes, the camp was quiet and dark. Even the dogs had curled up near the tired horses and had gone to sleep.
Early the following morning the whole thing could not be distinguished from one of the hundreds of mountains of snow that had formed over night. After the horses had been fed and watered, Marcu, accompanied by his daughter, Fanutza, left the camp and went riverward, in search of the hut of the Tartar whose flat-bottomed boat was moored on the shore. Marcu knew every inch of the ground. He had camped there with his tribe twenty winters in succession. He sometimes arrived before, and at other times after, the first snow of the year. But every time he had gone to Mehmet Ali's hut and asked the Tartar to row him across the Danube, on the old Roumanian side, to buy there fodder for the horses and the men; enough to last until after the river was frozen tight and could be crossed securely with horses and wagon. He had always come alone to Mehmet's hut, therefore, the Tartar, after greeting Marcu and offering to do what his friend desired, inquired why the girl was beside the old chief.
"But this is my daughter, Fanutza, Mehmet Ali," Marcu informed.
"Who, Fanutza? She who was born here fourteen winters ago on the plains here?"
"The same, the same, my friend," Marcu answered as he smilingly appraised his daughter.
Mehmet Ali looked at the girl in frank astonishment at her size and full development; then he said as he took the oars from the corner of the hut: "And I, who thought that my friend had taken a new wife to himself! Allah, Allah! How fast these youngsters grow! And why do you take her along to the Giaour side, to the heathen side, of the river, friend?" he continued talking as he put heavy boots on his feet and measured Fanutza with his eyes as he spoke.
"For everything there is only one right time, say I, Marcu," the chief explained, in measured solemn voice. "And so now is the time for my daughter to get married. I have chosen her a husband from amongst the sons of my men, a husband who will become the chief when I am no longer here to come to your hut at the beginning of every winter. She shall marry him in the spring. I now go with her to the bazaars to buy silks and linens which the women of my tribe will fashion into new clothes for both. And may Allah be good to them."
"Allah il Allah," Mehmet assured Marcu. "And who is he whom you have chosen from amongst your men?"
"I am old, Mehmet, I would otherwise have chosen a younger man for my daughter; but because I fear that this or the following winter will be the last one, I have chosen Stan, whose orphaned daughter is Fanutza's own age. He is good and true and strong. Young men never make careful chiefs."
"That be right and wise," remarked Mehmet, who was by that time ready for the trip. During the whole conversation the young gipsy girl had been looking to her father when he spoke and sidewise when Mehmet answered.
At fourteen Fanutza was a full-grown woman. Her hair, braided in tresses, was hanging from underneath a black fur cap she wore well over her forehead. Her eyes were large and brown, the long eyebrows were coal black. Her nose was straight and thin and the mouth full and red. Withal she was of a somewhat lighter hue than her father or the rest of the gipsy tribe. Yet there was something of a darker grain than the grain in her people that lurked beneath her skin. And she was light on her feet. Even trudging in the deep snow, she seemed more to float, to skim on top, than to walk.
Unconcerned she had listened to the conversation that had gone on between her father and the Tartar in the hut of the boatman. She had hardly been interested in the whole affair, yet, when Mehmet Ali mentioned casually as soon as he was outdoors that he knew a man who would pay twenty pieces of gold for such a wife as Fanutza was, she became interested in the conversation.
"I sell horses only," Marcu answered quietly.
"Yet my friend and others from his tribe have bought wives. Remember that beautiful Circassian girl?" the Tartar continued without raising or lowering his voice.
"Yes, Mehmet, we buy wives but we don't sell them."
"Which is not fair," Mehmet reflected aloud still in the same voice.
By that time they had reached the river shore. Mehmet, after rolling together the oil cloth that had covered the boat, helped the gipsy chief and his daughter to the stern. With one strong push of the oar on the shore rock, the Tartar slid his boat a hundred feet towards the middle of the stream. Then he seated himself, face towards his passengers, and rowed steadily without saying a single word. The gipsy chief lit his short pipe and looked over his friend's head, trying to distinguish the other shore from behind the curtain of falling snow. The boat glided slowly over the thickening waters of the Danube. A heavy snowstorm, the heaviest of the year, lashed the river. When Mehmet had finally moored his boat to the Roumanian side of the Danube, he turned around to the gipsy chief and said:
"Be back before sundown. It shall be my last crossing of the year. For when the sun rises the waters will be frozen still. The gale blows from the land of the Russians."
"As you tell me, friend," answered Marcu while helping his daughter out of the boat.
When the two had gone a short distance Fanutza turned her head. Mehmet Ali was leaning on an oar and looking after them. A little later, a hundred paces further, she caught fragments of a Tartar song that reached her ears in spite of the shrill noises of the wind.
Marcu and his daughter entered the inn that stood a few hundred feet from the shore. The innkeeper, an old fat greasy Greek, Chiria Anastasidis, welcomed the gipsy chief. Not knowing the relationship between the old man and the girl, he feared to antagonize his customer by talking to the young woman. He pushed a white pine table near the big stove in the middle of the room and after putting two empty glasses on the table he inquired "White or red?"
"Red wine, Chiria. It warms quicker. I am getting old."
"Old!" exclaimed the Greek as he brought a small pitcher of wine. "Old! Why, Marcu, you are as young as you were twenty years ago."
"This is my daughter, Fanutza, Chiria, and not my wife."
"A fine daughter you have. Your daughter, eh?"
"Yes, and she is about to marry, too."
After they had clinked glasses and wished one another health and long years the innkeeper inquired:
"All your men healthy?"
"All. Only one-eyed Jancu died. You remember him. He was well along in years."
"Bogdaproste. Let not a younger man than he was die," answered Anastasidis as he crossed himself.
After Marcu had declared himself warmed back to life by the fine wine he inquired of Anastasidis the price of oats and straw and hay. The innkeeper's store and his warehouse contained everything from a needle to an oxcart. The shelves were full of dry goods, socks, shirts, silks, belts, fur caps, coats, and trousers. Overhead, hanging from the ceiling, were heavy leather boots, shoes, saddles, harness of all kinds, fishers' nets, and even a red painted sleigh that swung on heavy chains. In one corner of the store blankets were piled high, while all over the floor were bags of dry beans and peas and corn and oats. At the door were bales of straw and hay, and outside, already half covered with snow, iron ploughs hobnobbed with small anchors, harrows, and bundles of scythes that leaned on the wall.
"Oats you wanted? Oats are very high this year, Marcu."
And the bargaining began. Fanutza sat listlessly on her chair and looked through the window. A few minutes later, the two men called one another thief and swindler and a hundred other names. Yet each time the bargain was concluded on a certain article they shook hands and repeated that they were the best friends on earth.
"Now that we have finished with the oats, Chiria, let's hear your price for corn? What? Three francs a hundred kilo? No. I call off the bargain on the oats. You are the biggest thief this side of the Danube."
"And you, you lowborn Tzigane, are the cheapest swindler on earth."
Quarrelling and shaking hands alternately and drinking wine Marcu and the Greek went on for hours. The gipsy chief had already bought all the food for his men and horses and a few extra blankets and had ordered it all carted to the moored boat where Mehmet Ali was waiting, when Fanutza reminded her father of the silks and linen he wanted to buy.
"I have not forgotten, daughter, I have not forgotten." Fanutza approached the counter behind which the Greek stood ready to serve his customers.
"Show us some silks," she asked.
He emptied a whole shelf on the counter.
The old gipsy stood aside watching his daughter as she fingered the different pieces of coloured silk, which the shopkeeper praised as he himself touched the goods with thumb and forefinger in keen appreciation of the quality he offered. After she had selected all the colours she wanted and picked out the linen and neckerchiefs and ear-rings and tried on a pair of beautiful patent leather boots that reached over the knees and had stripes of red leather sewed on with yellow silk on the soft vamps, Fanutza declared that she had chosen everything she wanted. The bargaining between the Greek and the gipsy was about to start anew when Marcu looked outdoors thoughtfully, stroked his beard and said to the innkeeper:
"Put away the things my daughter has selected. I shall come again, alone, to bargain for them."
"If my friend fears he has not enough money—" suavely intervened Anastasidis, as he placed a friendly hand on the gipsy's arm.
"When Marcu has no money he does not ask his women to select silk," haughtily interrupted the gipsy. "It will be as I said it will be. I come alone in a day if the river has frozen. In a day or a week. I come alone."
"Shall I, then, not take all these beautiful things along with me, now?" asked Fanutza in a plaintive yet reproachful tone. "There is Marcia who waits to see them. I have selected the same silk basma for her. Have you not promised me, even this morning—?"
"A woman must learn to keep her mouth shut," shouted Marcu as he angrily stamped his right foot on the floor. He looked at his daughter as he had never looked at her before. Only a few hours ago she was his little girl, a child! He was marrying her off so soon to Stan, although it was the customary age for gipsies, against his desire, but because of his will to see her in good hands and to give to Stan the succession to the leadership of his tribe.
Only a few hours ago! What had brought about the change? Was it in him or in her? That cursed Tartar, Mehmet Ali, with his silly offer of twenty gold pieces! He, he had done it. Marcu looked again at his daughter. Her eyelids trembled nervously and there was a little repressed twitch about her mouth. She returned his glance at first, but lowered her eyes under her father's steady gaze. "Already a shameless creature," thought the old gipsy. But he could not bear to think that way about his little daughter, about his Fanutza. He also feared that she could feel his thoughts. He was ashamed of what passed through his mind. Rapidly enough in self-defense he turned against her the sharp edge of the argument. Why had she given him all those ugly thoughts?
"It will be as I said, Anastasidis. In a day or a week. When the river has frozen, I come alone. And now, Fanutza, we go. Night is coming close behind us. Come, you shall have all your silks."
The Greek accompanied them to the door. The cart that had brought the merchandise to the boat of the waiting Mehmet was returning.
"The water is thickening," the driver greeted the gipsy and his daughter.
They found Mehmet Ali seated in the boat expecting his passengers.
"Have you bought everything you intended?" the Tartar inquired as he slid the oars into the hoops.
"Everything," Marcu answered as he watched his daughter from the corner of an eye.
Vigorously Mehmet Ali rowed till well out into the wide river without saying another word. His manner was so detached that the gipsy chief thought the Tartar had already forgotten what had passed between them in the morning. Sure enough. Why! He was an old man, Mehmet Ali. It was possible he had been commissioned by some Dobrudgean Tartar chief to buy him a wife. He had been refused and now he was no longer thinking about her. He will look somewhere else, where his offer might not be scorned. That offer of Mehmet had upset him. He had never thought of Fanutza other than as a child. Of course he was marrying her to Stan—but it was more like giving her a second father!
Suddenly the old gipsy looked at the Tartar who had lifted his oars from the water and brought the boat to an abrupt standstill. Mehmet Ali laid the paddles across the width of the boat and looking steadily into the eyes of Marcu, he said:
"As I said this morning, Marcu, it is not fair that you should buy wives from us when you like our women and not sell us yours when we like them."
"It is as it is," countered the gipsy savagely.
"But it is not fair," argued Mehmet, slyly watching every movement of his old friend.
"If Mehmet is tired my arms are strong enough to help if he wishes," remarked Marcu.
"No, I am not tired, but I should like my friend to know that I think it is not fair."
There was a long silence during which the boat was carried downstream although it was kept in the middle of the river by skilful little movements of the boatman.
Fanutza looked at the Tartar. He was about the same age as Stan was. Only he was stronger, taller, broader, swifter. When he chanced to look at her his small bead-like eyes bored through her like gimlets. No man had ever looked at her that way. Stan's eyes were much like her own father's eyes. The Tartar's face was much darker than her own. His nose was flat and his upper lip curled too much noseward and the lower one chinward, and his bulletlike head rose from between the shoulders. There was no neck. No, he was not beautiful to look at. But he was so different from Stan! So different from any of the other men she had seen every day since she was born. Why! Stan—Stan was like her father. They were all like him in her tribe!
"And, as I said," Mehmet continued after a while, "as I said, it is not fair. My friend must see that. It is not fair. So I offer you twenty gold pieces for the girl. Is it a bargain?"
"She is not for sale," yelled Marcu, understanding too well the meaning of the oars out of the water.
"No?" wondered Mehmet, "not for twenty pieces of gold? Well, then I shall offer five more. Sure twenty-five is more than any of your people ever paid to us for a wife. It would shame my ancestors were I to offer more for a gipsy girl than they ever received for one of our women."
"She is not for sale," roared the gipsy at the top of his voice.
By that time the Tartar knew that Marcu was not armed. He knew the chief too well not to know that a knife or a pistol would have been the answer to his second offer and the implied insult to the race of gipsies.
Twenty-five gold pieces! thought Fanutza. Twenty-five gold pieces offered for her by a Tartar at a second bid. She knew what that meant. She had been raised in the noise of continual bargaining between Tartars and gipsies and Greeks. It meant much less than a quarter of the ultimate sum the Tartar was willing to pay. Would Stan ever have offered that for her? No, surely not. She looked at the Tartar and felt the passion that radiated from him. How lukewarm Stan was! And here was a man. Stopped the boat midstream and bargained for her, fought to possess her. Endangered his life for her. For it was a dangerous thing to do what he did and facing her father. Yet—she will have to marry Stan because her father bids it.
"I don't mean to offend you," the boatman spoke again, "but you are very slow in deciding whether you accept my bargain or not. Night is closing upon us."
Marcu did not answer immediately. The boat was carried downstream very rapidly. They were at least two miles too far down by now. Mehmet looked at Fanutza and found such lively interest in her eyes that he was encouraged to offer another five gold pieces for her.
It was a proud moment for the girl. So men were willing to pay so much for her! But her heart almost sank when her father pulled out his purse from his pocket and said:
"Mehmet Ali, who is my best friend, has been so good to me these twenty years that I have thought to give him twenty gold pieces that he might buy himself a wife to keep his hut warm during the long winter. What say he to my friendship?"
"That is wonderful! Only now, he is not concerned about that, but about the fairness of his friend who does not want to sell wives to the men whose women he buys. I offer five more gold pieces which makes thirty-five in all. And I do that not for Marcu but for his daughter that she may know that I will not harm her and will for ever keep her well fed and buy her silks and jewels."
"Silks!" It occurred to the gipsy chief to look at his daughter at that moment. She turned her head away from his and looked at the Tartar, from under her brows. How had he known?
"A bargain is a bargain only when two men agree on something, says the Koran," the gipsy chief reminded the Tartar boatman. "I don't want to sell her."
"So we will travel downstream for a while," answered Mehmet Ali and crossed his arms.
After a while the gipsy chief who had reckoned that they must be fully five miles away from his home across the water made a new offer.
"A woman, Mehmet Ali, is a woman. They are all alike after you have known them. So I offer you thirty-five pieces of gold with which you can buy for yourself any other woman you please whenever you want."
Fanutza looked at the Tartar. Though it was getting dark she could see the play of every muscle of his face. Hardly had her father finished making his offer, when Mehmet, after one look at the girl, said:
"I offer fifty gold pieces for the girl. Is it a bargain?"
Fanutza's eyes met the eyes of her father. She looked at him entreatingly, "Don't give in to the Tartar," her eyes spoke clearly, and Marcu refused the offer.
"I offer you fifty instead that you buy yourself another woman than my daughter."
"No," answered the Tartar, "but I offer sixty for this one, here."
Quick as a flash Fanutza changed the encouraging glance she had thrown to the passionate man to a pleading look towards her father. "Poor, poor girl!" thought Marcu. "How she fears to lose me! How she fears I might accept the money and sell her to the Tartar!"
"A hundred gold pieces to row us across," he yelled, for the night was closing in upon them and the boat was being carried swiftly downstream. There was danger ahead of them. Marcu knew it.
"A hundred gold pieces is a great sum," mused Mehmet, "a great sum! It has taken twenty years of my life to save such a sum—yet, instead of accepting your offer, I will give you the same sum for the woman I want."
"Fool, a woman is only a woman. They are all alike," roared the gipsy.
"Not to me!" answered Mehmet Ali quietly. "I shall not say another word."
"Fool, fool, fool," roared the gipsy as he still tried to catch Fanutza's eye. It was already too dark.
"Not to me." The Tartar's words echoed in the girl's heart. "Not to me." Twenty years he had worked to save such a great sum. And now he refused an equal amount and was willing to pay it all for her. Would Stan have done that? Would anybody else have done that? Why should she be compelled to marry whom her father chose when men were willing to pay a hundred gold pieces for her? The old women of the camp had taught her to cook and to mend and to wash and to weave. She must know all that to be worthy of Stan, they had told her. And here was a man who did not know whether she knew any of these things who staked his life for her and offered a hundred gold pieces in the bargain! Twenty years of savings. Twenty years of work. It was not every day one met such a man. Surely, with one strong push of his arms he could throw her father overboard. He did not do it because he did not want to hurt her feelings. And as the silence continued Fanutza thought her father, too, was a fine man. It was fine of him to offer a hundred gold pieces for her liberty. That was in itself a great thing. But did he do it only for her sake or wasn't it because of Stan, because of himself? And as she thought again of Mehmet's "Not to me," she remembered the fierce bitterness in her father's voice when he had yelled, "All women are alike." That was not true. If it were true why would Mehmet Ali want her and her only after having seen her only once? Then, too, all men must be alike! It was not so at all! Why! Mehmet Ali was not at all like Stan. And he offered a hundred pieces of gold. No. Stan was of the kind who think all women are alike. That was it. All her people were thinking all women were alike. That was it. Surely all the men in the tribe were alike in that. All her father had ever been to her, his kindness, his love was wiped away when he said those few words. The last few words of Mehmet Ali, "Not to me," were the sweetest music she had ever heard.
Marcu waited until it was dark enough for the Tartar not to see, when pressing significantly his daughter's foot, he said:
"So be it as you said. Row us across."
"It is not one minute too soon," Mehmet answered. "Only a short distance from here, where the river splits in three forks, is a great rock. Shake hands. Here. Now here is one oar. Pull as I count, Bir, icki, outch, dort. Again, Bir, icki, outch, dort. Lift your oar. Pull again. Two counts only. Bir, icki. So, now we row nearer to the shore. See that light there? Row towards it. Good. Marcu, your arm is still strong and steady and you can drive a good bargain."
Again and again the gipsy pressed the foot of his daughter as he bent over the oar. She should know of course that he never intended to keep his end of the bargain. He gave in only when he saw that the Tartar meant to wreck them all on the rocks ahead of them. Why had he, old and experienced as he was, having dealt with those devils of Tartars for so many years, not known better than to return to the boat after he had heard Mehmet say, "It is not fair!" And after he had reflected on the Tartar's words, why, after he had refused to buy all the silks and linen on that reflection, not a very clear one at first, why had he not told Mehmet to row across alone and deliver the fodder and food. He could have passed the night in Anastasidis' inn and hired another boat the following morning if the river had not frozen meanwhile! He should have known, he who knew these passionate beasts so well. It was all the same with them; whether they set their eyes on a horse that captured their fancy or a woman. They were willing to kill or be killed in the fight for what they wanted. A hundred gold pieces for a woman! Twenty years' work for a woman!
The two men rowed in silence, each one planning how to outwit the other and each one knowing that the other was planning likewise. According to Tartar ethics the bargain was a bargain. When the boat had been pulled out of danger Mehmet hastened to fulfil his end. With one jerk he loosened a heavy belt underneath his coat and pulled out a leather purse which he threw to Marcu. As he did so he met Fanutza's proud eye.
"Here. Count it. Just one hundred."
"That's good enough," the gipsy chief answered as he put the purse in his pocket without even looking at it. "Row, I am cold. I am anxious to be home."
"It will not be before daylight, chief," remarked Mehmet Ali as he bent again over his oars and counted aloud, "Bir, icki, Bir, icki." An hour later, Fanutza had fallen asleep on the bags of fodder and was covered by the heavy fur coat of the Tartar. The two men rowed the whole night upstream against the current in the slushy heavy waters of the Danube. A hundred times floating pieces of ice had bent back the flat of the oar Marcu was handling, and every time Mehmet had saved it from breaking by a deft stroke of his own oar or by some other similar movement. He was a waterman and knew the ways of the water as well as Marcu himself knew the murky roads of the marshes. The gipsy could not help but admire the powerful quick movements of the Tartar—yet—to be forced into selling his daughter—that was another thing.
At daylight they were within sight of Mehmet's hut on the shore. The storm had abated. Standing up on the bags of fodder Marcu saw the black smoke that rose from his camp. His people must be waiting on the shore. They were a dozen men. Mehmet was one alone. He will unload the goods first; then, when his men will be near enough, he will tell Fanutza to run towards them. Let Mehmet come to take her if he dare!
A violent jerk woke the gipsy girl from her sleep. She looked at the two men but said nothing. When the boat was moored, the whole tribe of gipsies, who had already mourned their chief yet hoped against hope and watched the length of the shore, surrounded the two men and the woman. There was a noisy welcome. While some of the men helped unload the boat a boy came running with a sleigh cart.
When all the bags were loaded on the sleigh Marcu threw the heavy purse Mehmet had given him to the Tartar's feet and grabbed the arm of his Fanutza.
"Here is your money, Mehmet. I take my daughter."
But before he knew what had happened, Fanutza shook off his grip and picking up the purse she threw it at her father, saying:
"Take it. Give it to Stan that he should buy with the gold another woman. To him all women are alike. But not to Mehmet Ali. So I shall stay with him. A bargain is a bargain. He staked his life for me."
Marcu knew it was the end. "All women are alike," he whined to Stan as he handed him the purse. "Take it. All women are alike," he repeated with bitterness as he made a savage movement towards his daughter.
"All, save the ones with blood of Chans in their veins," said Mehmet Ali who had put himself between the girl and the whole of her tribe. And the Tartar's words served as a reminder to Marcu that Fanutza's own mother had been the daughter of a Tartar chief and a white woman.
By MAXWELL STRUTHERS BURT
(From The Pictorial Review)
When she had reached that point of detachment where she could regard the matter more or less objectively, Mrs. Ennis, recalling memories of an interrupted but lifelong friendship, realized that Burnaby's behavior, outrageous or justifiable or whatever you choose to call it, at all events aberrational, was exactly what might have been expected of him, given an occasion when his instincts for liking or disliking had been sufficiently aroused. Moreover, there was about him always, she remembered, this additional exceptional quality: the rare and fortunate knowledge that socially he was independent; was not, that is, subject to retaliation. He led too roving a life to be moved by the threat of unpopularity; a grandfather had bequeathed him a small but unshakable inheritance.
As much, therefore, as any one can be in this world he was a free agent; and the assurance of this makes a man very brave for either kindness or unkindness, and, of course, extremely dangerous for either good or evil. You will see, after a while, what I am driving at. Meanwhile, without further comment, we can come directly to Mrs. Ennis, where she sat in her drawing room, and to the night on which the incident occurred.
Mrs. Ennis, small and blond, and in a white evening gown of satin and silver sequins that made her look like a lovely and fashionable mermaid, sat in her drawing room and stretched her feet out to the flames of a gentle woodfire. It was seven o'clock of a late April night, and through an open window to her left came, from the little park beyond the house, a faint breeze that stirred lazily the curtains and brought to the jonquils, scattered about in numerous metal and crystal bowls, word of their brothers in the dusk without. The room was quiet, save for the hissing of the logs; remote, delicately lighted, filled with the subtle odor of books and flowers; reminiscent of the suave personalities of those who frequented it. On the diminutive piano in one corner, a large silver frame, holding the photograph of a man in French uniform, caught here and there on its surface high lights from the shaded wall-lamp above. In the shelter of white bookcases, the backs of volumes in red and tawny and brown gave the effect of tapestry cunningly woven. Mrs. Ennis stared at the logs and smiled.
It was an odd smile, reflective, yet anticipatory; amused, absent-minded, barely disturbing the lines of her beautifully modeled red lips. Had any of Mrs. Ennis's enemies, and they were not few in number, seen it, they would have surmised mischief afoot; had any of her friends, and there were even more of these than enemies, been present, they would have been on the alert for events of interest. It all depended, you see, upon whether you considered a taste for amateur psychology, indulged in, a wickedness or not. Mrs. Ennis herself would not have given her favorite amusement so stately a name; she was aware merely that she found herself possessed of a great curiosity concerning people, particularly those of forcible and widely different characteristics, and that she liked, whenever possible, to gather them together, and then see what would happen. Usually something did—happen, that is.
With the innocence of a child playing with fire-crackers (and it wasn't altogether innocent, either), in her role of the god in the machine she had been responsible for many things; several comedies, perhaps a tragedy or two. Ordinarily her parties were dull enough; complacent Washington parties; diplomats, long-haired Senators from the West, short-bearded Senators from the East, sleek young men and women, all of whom sat about discussing grave nonsense concerning a country with which they had utterly lost touch, if ever they had had any; but every now and then, out of the incalculable shufflings of fate, appeared a combination that seemed to offer more excitement. Tonight such a combination was at hand. Mrs. Ennis was contented, in the manner of a blithe and beautiful spider.
Burnaby, undoubtedly, was the principal source of this contentment, for he was a young man—he wasn't really young, but you always thought of him as young—of infinite potentialities; Burnaby, just back from some esoteric work in Roumania, whither he had gone after the War, and in Washington for the night and greatly pleased to accept an invitation for dinner; but essential as he was, Burnaby was only part of the tableau arranged. To meet him, Mrs. Ennis had asked her best, for the time being, friend, Mimi de Rochefort—Mary was her right name—and Mimi de Rochefort's best, for the time being, friend, Robert Pollen. Nowadays Pollen came when Madame de Rochefort came; one expected his presence. He had been a habit in this respect for over six months; in fact, almost from the time Madame de Rochefort (she was so young that to call her Madame seemed absurdly quaint), married these five years to a Frenchman, had set foot once more upon her native land.
In the meeting of Pollen and Burnaby and Mary Rochefort, Mrs. Ennis foresaw contingencies; just what these contingencies were likely to be she did not know, but that an excellent chance for them existed she had no doubt, even if in the end they proved to be no more than the humor to be extracted from the reflection that a supposedly rational divinity had spent his time creating three people so utterly unalike.
The gilt clock on the mantelpiece chimed half-past seven. The jonquils on the piano shone in the polished mahogany like yellow water-lilies in a pool. Into the silence of the room penetrated, on noiseless feet, a fresh-colored man servant. Despite such days as the present, Mrs. Ennis had a way, irritating to her acquaintances, of obtaining faithful attendance. Even servants seemed to be glad to wait upon her. Her husband, dead these six years, had been unfailingly precise in all matters save the one of drink.
"Mr. Burnaby!" announced the man servant.
Burnaby strode close on his heels. Mrs. Ennis had arisen and was standing with her back to the fireplace. She had the impression that a current of air followed the entrance of the two men. She remembered now that she had always felt that way with Burnaby; she had always felt as if he were bringing news of pine forests and big empty countries she had never seen but could dimly imagine. It was very exciting.
Burnaby paused and looked about the room doubtfully, then he chuckled and came forward. "I haven't seen anything like this for three years," he said. "Roumanian palaces are furnished in the very latest bad taste."
He took Mrs. Ennis's outstretched hand and peered down at her with narrowed eyelids. She received the further impression, an impression she had almost forgotten in the intervening years, of height and leanness, of dark eyes, and dark, crisp hair; a vibrant impression; something like a chord of music struck sharply. Unconsciously she let her hand rest in his for a moment, then she drew it away hastily. He was smiling and talking to her.
"Rhoda! You ought to begin to look a bit older! You're thirty-six, if you're a day! How do you do it? You look like a wise and rather naughty little girl."
"Hush!" said Mrs. Ennis. "I wear my hair parted on one side like a debutante to give me a head-start on all the knowing and subtle and wicked people I have to put up with. While they are trying to break the ice with an ingenue, I'm sizing them up."
Burnaby laughed. "Well, I'm not subtle," he said. He sank down into a big chair across the fireplace from her. "I'm only awfully glad to be back; and I'm good and simple and amenable, and willing to do nearly anything any good American tells me to do. I love Americans."
"You won't for very long," Mrs. Ennis assured him dryly. "Particularly if you stay in Washington more than a day." She was wondering how even for a moment she had been able to forget Burnaby's vividness.
"No," laughed Burnaby, "I suppose not. But while the mood is on me, don't disillusion me."
Mrs. Ennis looked across at him with a smile. "You'll meet two very attractive people tonight, anyway," she said.
"Oh, yes!" He leaned forward. "I had forgotten—who are they?"
Mrs. Ennis spread her arms out along the chair. "There's Mary Rochefort," she answered, "and there's Robert Pollen, who's supposed to be the most alluring man alive."
"Is it doing him any good?"
"Well—" Mrs. Ennis looked up with a laugh.
"You don't like him? Or perhaps you do?"
Mrs. Ennis knit her brows in thought, her blue eyes dark with conjecture. "I don't know," she said at length. "Sometimes I think I do, and sometimes I think I don't. He's very good-looking in a tall, blond, pliable way, and he can be very amusing when he wants to be. I don't know."
Mrs. Ennis wrinkled her nose in the manner of one who is being pushed to explanation.
"I am not so sure," she confided, "that I admire professional philanderers as much as I did. Although, so long as they leave me alone—"
"Oh, he's that, is he?"
Mrs. Ennis corrected herself hastily. "Oh, no," she protested. "I shouldn't talk that way, should I? Now you'll have an initial prejudice, and that isn't fair—only—" she hesitated "I rather wish he would confine his talents to his own equals and not conjure young married women at their most vulnerable period."
"Just when," said Mrs. Ennis, "they're not sure whether they want to fall in love again with their own husbands or not." Then she stopped abruptly. She was surprised that she had told Burnaby these things; even more surprised at the growing incisiveness of her voice. She was not accustomed to taking the amatory excursions of her friends too much to heart; she had a theory that it was none of her business, that perhaps some day she might want charity herself. But now she found herself perceptibly indignant. She wondered if it wasn't Burnaby's presence that was making her so. Sitting across from her, he made her think of directness and dependability and other traits she was accustomed to refer to as "primitive virtues." She liked his black, heavily ribbed evening stockings. Somehow they were like him. It made her angry with herself and with Burnaby that she should feel this way; be so moved by "primitive virtues." She detested puritanism greatly, and righteously, but so much so that she frequently mistook the most innocent fastidiousness for an unforgivable rigidity. "If they once do," she concluded, "once do fall in love with their husbands again, they're safe, you know, for all time."
She looked up and drew in her breath sharply. Burnaby was sitting forward in his chair, staring at her with the curious, far-sighted stare she remembered was characteristic of him when his interest was suddenly and thoroughly aroused. It was as if he were looking through the person to whom he was talking to some horizon beyond. It was a trifle uncanny, unless you were accustomed to the trick.
"What's the matter?" she asked. She had the feeling that back of her some one she could not see was standing.
Burnaby smiled. "Nothing," he said. He sank back into his chair. "That's an odd name—the name of this alluring fellow of yours, isn't it? What did you say it was—Pollen?"
"Yes. Robert Pollen. Why, do you know him?"
"No." Burnaby shook his head. He leaned over and lit a cigarette. "You don't mind, do you?" he asked. He raised his eyes. "So he's conjuring this Madame de Rochefort, is he?" he concluded.
Mrs. Ennis flushed. "I never said anything of the kind!" she protested. "It's none of our business, anyway."
Burnaby smiled calmly. "I quite agree with you," he said. "I imagine that a Frenchwoman, married for a while, is much better able to conduct her life in this respect than even the most experienced of us."
"She isn't French," said Mrs. Ennis; "she's American. And she's only been married five years. She's just a child—twenty-six."
"Oh!" ejaculated Burnaby. "One of those hard-faced children! I understand—Newport, Palm Beach, cocktails—"
His voice was cut across by Mrs. Ennis's indignant retort. "You don't in the least!" she said. "She's not one of those hard-faced children; she's lovely—and I've come to the conclusion that she's pathetic. I'm beginning to rather hate this man Pollen. Back of it all are subtleties of personality difficult to fathom. You should know Blais Rochefort. I imagine a woman going about things the wrong way could break her heart on him like waves on a crystal rock. I think it has been a question of fire meeting crystal, and, when it finds that the crystal is difficult to warm, turning back upon itself. I said waves, didn't I? Well, I don't care if my metaphors are mixed. It's tragic, anyhow. And the principal tragedy is that Blais Rochefort isn't really cold—at least, I don't think he would be if properly approached—he is merely beautifully lucid and intelligent and exacting in a way no American understands, least of all a petted girl who has no family and who is very rich. He expects, you see, an equal lucidity from his wife. He's not to be won over by the fumbling and rather selfish and pretty little tricks that are all most of us know. But Mary, I think, would have learned if she had only held on. Now, I'm afraid, she's losing heart. Hard-faced child!" Mrs. Ennis grew indignant again. "Be careful my friend; even you might find her dangerously pathetic."
Burnaby's eyes were placidly amused. "Thanks," he observed. "You've told me all I wanted to know."
Mrs. Ennis waved toward the piano. "There's Blais Rochefort's photograph," she retorted in tones of good-humored exasperation. "Go over and look at it."
Burnaby's black shoulders, bent above the photograph, were for a moment the object of a pensive regard. Mrs. Ennis sighed. "Your presence makes me puritanical," she observed. "I have always felt that the best way for any one to get over Pollens was to go through with them and forget them."
Burnaby spoke without turning his head.
"A real man."
"Decidedly! Very brave and very cultivated."
"He waxes his mustache."
"Yes, even brave men do that occasionally."
"I should think," said Burnaby thoughtfully, putting the photograph down, "that he might be worth a woman's hanging on to."
Mrs. Ennis got up, crossed over to the piano, and leaned an elbow upon it, resting her cheek in the palm of her upturned hand and smiling at Burnaby.
"Don't let's be so serious," she said. "What business is it of ours?" She turned her head away and began to play with the petals of a near-by jonquil. "Spring is a restless time, isn't it?"
It seemed to her that the most curious little silence followed this speech of hers, and yet she knew that in actual time it was nothing, and felt that it existed probably only in her own heart. She heard the clock on the mantelpiece across the room ticking; far off, the rattle of a taxicab. The air coming through the open window bore the damp, stirring smell of early grass.
"Madame De Rochefort and Mr. Pollen!" announced a voice.
Mrs. Ennis had once said that her young friend, Mimi de Rochefort, responded to night more brilliantly than almost any other woman she knew. The description was apt. Possibly by day there was a pallor too lifeless, a nose a trifle too short and arrogant, lips, possibly, too full; but by night these discrepancies blended into something very near perfection, and back of them as well was a delicate illumination as of lanterns hung in trees beneath stars; an illumination due to youth, and to very large dark eyes, and to dark, soft hair and red lips. Nor with this beauty went any of the coolness or abrupt languor with which the modern young hide their eagerness.
Mary Rochefort was quite simple beneath her habitual reserve; frank and appealing and even humorous at times, as if startled out of her usual mood of reflective quiet by some bit of wit, slowly apprehended, too good to be overlooked. Mrs. Ennis watched with a sidelong glance the effect of her entrance upon Burnaby. Madame de Rochefort! How absurd! To call this white, tall, slim child madame! She admired rather enviously the gown of shimmering dark blue, the impeccability of adolescence. Over the girl's white shoulder, too much displayed, Pollen peered at Burnaby with the vague, hostile smile of the guest not yet introduced to a guest of similar sex.
"Late as usual!" he announced. "Mimi kept me!" His manner was subtly domestic.
"You're really on the stroke of the clock," said Mrs. Ennis. "Madame de Rochefort—Mr. Burnaby—Mr. Pollen." She laughed abruptly, as if a thought had just occurred to her. "Mr. Burnaby," she explained to the girl, "is the last surviving specimen of the American male—he has all the ancient national virtues. Preserved, I suppose, because he spends most of his time in Alaska, or wherever it is. I particularly wanted you to meet him."
Burnaby flushed and laughed uncertainly. "I object—" he began.
The fresh-colored man servant entered with a tray of cocktails. Madame de Rochefort exclaimed delightedly. "I'm so glad," she said. "Nowadays one fatigues oneself before dinner by wondering whether there will be anything to drink or not. How absurd!" The careful choice of words, the precision of the young, worldly voice were in amusing contrast to the youthfulness of appearance. Standing before the fireplace in her blue gown, she resembled a tapering lily growing from the indigo shadows of a noon orchard.
"Rhoda'll have cocktails when there aren't any more left in the country," said Pollen. "Trust Rhoda!"
Mary Rochefort laughed. "I always do," she said, "with reservations." She turned to Burnaby. "Where are you just back from?" she asked. "I understand you are always just back from some place, or on the verge of going."
"Usually on the verge," answered Burnaby. He looked at her deliberately, a smile in his dark eyes; then he looked at Pollen.
"Where were you—the War?"
"Yes—by way of Roumania in the end."
"The War!" Mary Rochefort's lips became petulant. One noticed for the first time the possibility of considerable petulance back of the shining self-control. "How sick of it I grew—all of us living over there! I'd like to sleep for a thousand years in a field filled with daffodils."
"They've plenty scattered about this room," observed Pollen. "Why don't you start now?"
The fresh-colored man servant announced dinner. "Shall we go down?" said Mrs. Ennis.
They left the little drawing-room, with its jonquils and warm shadows, and went along a short hall, and then down three steps and across a landing to the dining-room beyond. It, like the drawing-room, was small, white-paneled to the ceiling, with a few rich prints of Constable landscapes on the walls, and velvet-dark sideboards and tables that caught the light of the candles. In the center was a table of snowy drapery and silver and red roses.
Mrs. Ennis sank into her chair and looked about her with content. She loved small dinners beautifully thought out, and even more she loved them when, as on this night, they were composed of people who interested her. She stole a glance at Burnaby. How clean and brown and alert he was! The white table-cloth accentuated his look of fitness and muscular control. What an amusing contrast he presented to the rather languid, gesturing Pollen, who sat opposite him! And yet Pollen was considerable of a man in his own way; very conquering in the affairs of life; immensely clever in his profession of architecture. Famous, Mrs. Ennis had heard.
But Mrs. Ennis, despite her feminine approval of success, couldn't imagine herself being as much interested in him—dangerously interested—as she knew her friend Mary Rochefort to be. How odd! From all the world to pick out a tall, blond, willowy man like Pollen! On the verge of middle age, too! Perhaps it was this very willowiness, this apparent placidity that made him attractive. This child, Mary Rochefort, quite alone in the world, largely untrained, adrift, imperiously demanding from an imperious husband something to which she had not as yet found the key, might very naturally gravitate toward any one presenting Pollen's appearance of security; his attitude of complacence in the face of feminine authority. But was he complacent? Mrs. Ennis had her doubts. He was very vain; underneath his urbanity there might be an elastic hardness.
There were, moreover, at times indications of a rather contemptuous attitude toward a world less highly trained than himself. She turned to Pollen, trying to recollect what for the last few moments he had been saying to her. He perceived her more scrutinizing attention and faced toward her. From under lowered eyelids he had been watching, with a moody furtiveness, Mary Rochefort and Burnaby, who were oblivious to the other two in the manner of people who are glad they have met.
Mrs. Ennis found herself annoyed, her sense of good manners shocked. She had not suspected that Pollen could be guilty of such clumsiness; she questioned if matters had reached a point where such an attitude on his part would be justifiable under any circumstances. At all events, her doubts concerning his complacency had been answered. It occurred to Mrs. Ennis that her dinner-party was composed of more inflammable material, presented more dramatic possibilities, than even she had divined. She embraced Pollen with her smile.
"What have you been doing with yourself?" she asked.
He lifted long eyebrows and smiled faintly.
"Working very hard," he said.
"Building behemoths for billionaires?"
"And the rest of the time?"
"Rather drearily going about."
She surveyed him with wicked innocence.
"Why don't you fall in love?" she suggested.
His expression remained unmoved. "It is so difficult," he retorted, "to find the proper subject. A man of my experience frightens the inexperienced: the experienced frighten me."
"That I have reached the age where the innocence no longer possible to me seems the only thing worth while."
Mrs. Ennis wrinkled her nose daintily. "Nonsense!" she observed, and helped herself to the dish the servant was holding out to her. "What you have said," she resumed, "is the last word of the sentimentalist. If I thought you really meant it, I would know at once that you were very cold and very cruel and rather silly."
"Oh, I'm talking more or less abstractly."
"Well, possibly I am all of those things."
"But you want me to be personal?"
Pollen laughed. "Of course! Doesn't everybody want you to be personal?"
For an instant Mrs. Ennis looked again at Burnaby and Mary Rochefort, and a slightly rueful smile stirred in her eyes. It was amusing that she, who detested large dinners and adored general conversation, should at the moment be so engrossed in preventing the very type of conversation she preferred. She returned to Pollen. What a horrid man he really was! Unangled and amorphous, and underneath, cold! He had a way of framing the woman to whom he was talking and then stepping back out of the picture. One felt like a model in all manner of dress and undress. She laughed softly. "Don't," she begged, "be so mysterious about yourself! Tell me—" she held him with eyes of ingratiating sapphire—"I've always been interested in finding out just what you are, anyway."
Far back in Pollen's own eyes of golden brown a little spark slowly burst into flame. It was exactly as if a gnome had lighted a lantern at the back of an unknown cave. Mrs. Ennis inwardly shuddered, but outwardly was gay.
How interminably men talked when once they were launched upon that favorite topic, themselves! Pollen showed every indication of reaching a point of intellectual intoxication where his voice would become antiphonal. His objective self was taking turns in standing off and admiring his subjective self. Mrs. Ennis wondered at her own kindness of heart. Why did she permit herself to suffer so for her friends; in the present instance, a friend who would probably—rather the contrary—by no means thank her for her pains? She wanted to talk to Burnaby. She was missing most of his visit. She wanted to talk to Burnaby so greatly that the thought made her cheeks burn faintly. She began to hate Pollen. Mary Rochefort's cool, young voice broke the spell.
"You told me," she said accusingly, "that this man—this Mr. Burnaby, has all the primitive virtues; he is the wickedest man I have ever met."
"Good gracious!" said Mrs. Ennis.
"The very wickedest!"
Pollen's mouth twisted under his mustache. "I wouldn't have suspected it," he observed, surveying Burnaby with ironic amusement. There was just a hint of hidden condescension in his voice.
Burnaby's eyes drifted past him with a look of quiet speculation in their depths, before he smiled at Mrs. Ennis.
"Roumania has changed you," she exclaimed.
He chuckled. "Not in the least! I was simply trying to prove to Madame de Rochefort that hot-bloodedness, coolly conceived, is the only possible road to success. Like most innately moral people, she believes just the opposite—in cool-bloodedness, hotly conceived."
"I moral?" said Mary Rochefort, as if the thought had not occurred to her before.
"Why, of course," said Burnaby. "It's a question of attitude, not of actual performance. The most moral man I ever knew was a habitual drunkard. His life was spent between debauch and disgust. Not, of course, that I am implying that with you—"
"Tell us what you meant in the first place," commanded Mrs. Ennis.
"Something," said Burnaby slowly, "totally un-American—in short, whole-heartedness." He clasped his sinewy, brown hands on the table-cloth. "I mean," he continued, "if, after due thought—never forget the due thought—you believe it to be the best thing to do to elope with another man's wife, elope; only don't look back. In the same way, if you decide to become, after much question, an ironmonger, be an ironmonger. Love passionately what you've chosen. In other words, life's like fox-hunting; choose your line, choose it slowly and carefully, then follow it 'hell-for-leather.'
"You see, the trouble with Americans is that they are the greatest wanters of cake after they've eaten it the world has ever seen. Our blood isn't half as mixed as our point of view. We want to be good and we want to be bad; we want to be a dozen utterly incompatible things all at the same time. Of course, all human beings are that way, but other human beings make their choices and then try to eradicate the incompatibilities. The only whole-hearted people we possess are our business men, and even they, once they succeed, usually spoil the picture by astounding open scandals with chorus-girls."
Mrs. Ennis shook her head with amused bewilderment. "Do you mean," she asked, "that a man or woman can have only one thing in his or her life?"
"Only one very outwardly important thing—publicly," retorted Burnaby. "You may be a very great banker with a very great background as a husband, but you can't be a very great banker and at the same time what is known as a 'very great lover.' In Europe, where they arrange their lives better, one chooses either banking or 'loving'." He smiled with frank good humor at Pollen; the first time, Mrs. Ennis reflected, he had done so that night. A suspicion that Burnaby was not altogether ingenuous crossed her mind. But why wasn't he?