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She was coming toward him still smiling shyly, her lips parted as if she were breathing quickly from fear or another emotion. He set down his coffee-cup without regard to taste or direction, his gaze fixed upon the trim, slender figure in blue.

He now saw that her dark eyes were filled with a soft seriousness that belied her smile ; a delicate pink had come into her clear, high- face ; the hesitancy of the gentlewoman enveloped her with a mantle that shielded her from any suspicion of boldness.

Brock struggled to his feet, amazement written in his face. Her smile deepened as the blankness increased in his face.

In the most casual, matter-of-fact manner, she appropriated the chair across the table from his. For a single, tense, abashed moment they looked searchingly into each other's eyes.

Has no one told you of the poodle? He began to adore her at that very moment, a circumstance well worth remembering. Am I supposed to be your father or what?

Did n't they mention me in any way at all? Arc there any more in my family that I have n't met? That 's how you happened to miss meeting us. We saw you there, however.

I recognised you by your clothes. You seemed very unhappy. Oh, I forgot. You wanted to know who I am.

Well, I am your sister-in- law. When the waiter departed, he leaned for- ward and said quite frankly, u You '11 pardon me, I 'm sure, but I can't understand how I was so short-sighted as to marry your sister.

I am considered an unusually discriminating person. Four years ago, in London, at St. George's, in Hanover Square, at four o'clock, on a Satur- day.

Did n't they tell you all that? I 'm glad to know the awful details, believe me. I 'm trying to look like " " 'Sh! If you want me to believe you are not the ass you think you look, be careful what you say.

Remember I am not Miss Fowler to you. I am Constance sometimes Connie. Can you remember that, Roxbury? He flushed painfully, conscious of the rebuke.

You see, I 've been rather over- come by the sense of my own importance. I 'm not used to being the head of an establishment. It has dazed me.

A great many things have happened to me since I left the Gare de 1'Est last night. The Rodneys are my friends, not Edith's.

Katherine Rodney was in the convent with me. We sec [29] Edith a great deal of each other. I 'm sure you will like her.

Everybody falls dreadfully in love with her. Which reminds me that I 've never had a sister-in-law. They 're very nice, I 'm told.

It 's odd that Medcroft did n't tell me about you. Would you mind advancing a bit of general information about yourself and, I may say, about my family in general?

It may come handy. She leaned forward, her elbows on the table, her chin in her hands. We live in Paris, that is, father and I.

I 'm three years younger than Edith. Of course, you know how old your wife is, so we won't dwell upon that. You don't? Then I 'd demand it of her.

I have n't been in Philadelphia since I was seven and that 's ages ago. I have no mother, and father is off in South America on business.

So, you see, little sister has to tag after big sister. Now you'll have to go. Roxbury always does. You have no idea how " " It 's all right then," she said with her rarest and most confident smile.

The Rodneys were in Paris at the time, however, and they had asked me to join them for a fortnight in the Tyrol.

When I said that I was off for a visit with the with you, I mean they insisted that you all should come too. They are connections, in a [30] T h e Sister-in-Law way, don't you sec.

So we accepted. And here we are. It 's only as a safeguard, you know. People may ask questions. The flush had deepened in her cheek.

It convinced him that she was in love and engaged. He experienced a queer sinking of the heart. Appalling thought! I 'm already married, you know.

But if anyone should ask, you 're not obliged to answer. Poor old Roxbury would n't have had the tact to inquire.

She possessed the capacity for divining the sane and the ridiculous with splendid discrimination. He became blissfully imbued with the idea that she had surprised herself by the discovery that he was really quite attractive.

In fact, he was quite sincerely pleased with himself for which he may be pardoned if one stops to think how re- sourceful a woman of tact may be if she is very, very pretty.

And, by way of further analogy, Brock was a thoroughly likable chap, beside being handsome and a thoroughbred to the core. She was properly relieved to find that he came of a fine old family and that he had led more than one cotillion in New York.

He experienced a remarkable change of front in respect to Roxbury Medcroft before the breakfast was over. It may have been due to the spell of her eyes or to the call of her voice, but it remains an unchallenged fact that he no longer thought of Medcroft as a stupid bungler ; instead, he had come to regard him as a good and irreproachable Samaritan.

All of which goes to prove that a divinity shapes our ends, rough hew them how we may. By the way, Roxbury, I am now about to preserve you from bitter reproaches.

You have forgotten to order coffee and rolls for your wife. So I have! It's nine o'clock. You have much to accomplish in the next twenty-four hours, not the least of your duties being the subjugation of Tootles and Raggles.

Tootles is fifteen months old, it may interest you to know. Once in a wl. Do you like babies? I daresay I could cultivate a taste for 'em. But, I say," with eager enthusiasm, " I love dogs!

He growls every time that Roxy kisses Edith. But I '11 try to anticipate Raggles by compelling Edith to keep 3 [33] Husbands of Edith her distance," he said, scowling darkly.

He made a friend of Raggles without half trying ; dogs always took co him, he admitted modestly. Tootles was less vulnerable. She howled consistently at each of his first half-dozen advances ; his courage began to wane with shocking rapidity ; his next half-hearted advances were in reality inglorious retreats.

Spurred on by the sustaining Constance, he stood by his guns and at last was gratified to see faint signs of surrender. By midday he had conquered.

Tootles permitted him to carry her up and down the station platform she was too young to realise the risk she ran.

Edith and Constance, with the beaming nurse and O'Brien, applauded warmly when he returned from his first promenade, bearing Tootles and proudly heeled by Raggles.

Fond mothers in the crowd of hurry- ing travellers found time to look upon him and smile as if to say, u What a nice man! Which, no doubt, accounted for the intense rud- diness of his cheeks.

Medcroft, after Tootles had brought tears to his eyes with a potent attack upon his nose. She caught the light of danger in his grey eyes and hastily snatched the offend- ing Tootles from his arms.

Miss Fowler kept him constantly at work with his eyeglass and his English, neither of which he was manag- ing well enough to please her critical estimate.

In fact, he laboured all day with the persistence, if not the sullenness, of a hard-driven slave. He did not have time to become tired.

There was always something new to be done or learned or unlearned : his day was full to overflowing.

He was a man of family! The wife of his bosom was tranquillity itself. She was enjoying herself. When not amusing herself by watch- ing Brock's misfortunes, she was napping or reading or sending out for cool drinks.

With all the selfishness of a dutiful wife, she was content to shift responsibilities upon that ever convenient and useful creature a detached sister.

Brock sent telegrams for her from cities along the way, Ulm, Munich, Salzburg, and others, all meant for the real Roxbury in London, but sent to a fictitious being in Great Russell Street, the same having been agreed upon by at least two of the conspirators.

It mattered little that she repeated herself monotonously in regard to the state of health of herself and Tootles. Roxbury would doubt- less enjoy the protracted happiness brought on by these despatches, even though they got him out of bed or missed him altogether until they reached him in a bunch the next day.

He may also have been gratified to hear from Munich that Roxbury was perfectly lovely. She said, in the course of her longest despatch, that she was so [35] glad that the baby was getting to like her father more ana more as the day wore on.

At one station Brock narrowly escaped missing the train. He swung himself aboard as the cars were rolling out of the sheds.

As he sank, hot and exhausted, into the seat opposite his wife and her sister, the former looked up from her book, yawning ever so faintly, and asked : u Are you enjoying your honeymoon, Roxbury?

She smiled encouragingly. Medcroft, this time yawning freely and stretching her fine young arms in the luxury of hon contentment. Brock went to bed early, in Vienna that night tired but happy, caring not what the morrow brought forth so long as it continued to provide him with a sister-in-law and a wife who was devoted to another man.

He was under the spell! Wherefore it did not matter at all what name he went by : he would have answered as readily to one as the other. He blandly ignored telegrams and letters addressed to Roxbury Medcroft, and once he sat like a lump, with everyone staring at him, when the chairman of the archi- tects' convention asked if Mr.

Medcroft had anything to say on the subject under discussion. He was forced, in some confusion, to attribute his heedlessness to a life-Ion defect in hearing.

Thereafter it was his punishment to have his name and fragments of conversation hurled about in tones so stentorian that he blushed for very shame.

In the Bristol, in the Karntner-Ring, in the Lichtenstein Gallery [37] The Husbands of Edith in the Gardens no matter where he went if he were to be accosted by any of the genial architects it was always in a voice that attracted attention ; he could have heard them if they had been a block away.

It became a habit with him to instinctively lift his hand to his ear when one of them hove in sight, having seen him first.

Constance had just whispered her condolences. He was immensely relieved. Considerable difficulty had to be overcome at the Bristol in the matter of rooms.

Without going into details, Brock resignedly took the only room left in the crowded hotel a six by ten cubby-hole on the top floor overlooking the air- shaft.

He had to go down one flight for his morning tub, and he never got it because he refused to stand in line and await his turn.

Medcroft had the choicest room in the hotel, looking down upon the beautiful Karntner-Ring. Constance proposed, in the goodness of her heart, to give up to Brock her own room, adjoining that of her sister, provided Edith would take her in to sleep with her.

Edith was perfectly willing, but interposed the sage conclusion that gossiping menials might not appreciate a preference so unique.

Roxbury Medcroft's sky parlour adjoined the eleva- tor shaft. The head of his bed was in close proximity to the upper mechanism of the lift, a thin wall intervening.

A French architect, who had a room hard by, met Brock in the hall, hollow-eyed and haggard, on the morning sit [38].

The Distant Cousins their first night. He shouted lugubrious congratulations in Brock's ear, just as if Brock's ear had not been harassed a whole night long by shrieking wheels and rasping cables.

Ah, even an affliction such as yours, monsieur, has its benedictions! They were all young and full of the joy of living.

They laughed in secret over the mishaps and perils ; they whirred and enjoyed the spice that filled the atmosphere in which they lived.

They visited the gardens and the Hofs, the Chateau at Schonbrunn, the Imperial stables, the gay "Venice in Vienna " ; they attended the opera and the con- certs, ever in a most circumspect u trinity," as Brock had come to classify their parties.

Like a dutiful husband, he always included his wife in the expeditions. Med- croft," he declared, u but an unusually agreeable chaperon.

I don't know how Constance and I could get on without you. The Rodneys were arriving on the fifth day from Berlin. Despite the fact that the Seattle " connections " had never seen the illustrious Medcroft, husband to their distant cousin, there still remained the disturbing fear that they would recognise or rather fail to recognise him!

Besides, there was always the possibility that they had seen or even met Brock in New York. He lugubriously admitted that he had met unfortunate thousands whom he had promptly forgotten but who seldom failed to remember him.

Constance strove faith- fully, even valiantly, to inject confidence into the souls of the prime conspirators.

He was a very brave fellow in spite of all that. You are afraid of Edith, but can't you be like the Indian? He " "That's all very nice," mourned Brock, "but he could cover his confusion with war paint.

Don't forget that, my dear. Think of the difference in our disguises! War paint in daubs versus spats and an eyeglass. Besides, he did n't have to talk West End English.

And, moreover, he lived in a wigwam, and did n't have to explain a sky bedroom to strangers who happened along. They were driving in the Haupt Alice.

It [40] t - The Distant Cousins occurred to me afterward that he is violently opposed to the system.

I advocated it. He'll have a I might say, a devil of a time explaining his change of front. For the next two or three days the newspapers printed caustic contributions from fellow architects and builders, in each of which the luckless Medcroft was taken to task for advocating an impractical and fatuous New York hobby in the way of construction, something that staid old London would not even tolerate or discuss.

The social chroniclings of the Medcrofts in Vienna, as despatched by the correspondents, offset this unhappy u bull " to some extent, in so far as Medcroft's peace of mind was concerned, but nothing could have drawn attention to the fact that he was not in London at that particular time so decisively as the Vienna interview and its undefended front.

Even his shrewdest enemy could not have suspected Medcroft of a patience which would permit him to sit quiet in London while the attacks were going on.

He found some small solace in the reflection that he could make the end justify the means. On their return to the Bristol, Brock and Miss Fowle' found the fair Edith in a pitiful state of collapse.

She de- clared over and over again that she could not face the Rod- neys ; it was more than should be expected of her ; she was sure that something would go wrong ; why, oh, why was it necessary to deceive the Rodneys?

Why should they be kept in the dark? She finally dissolved- into tears, and would not listen to reason, expos- tulation, or persuasion.

It was then that Brock cruelly but effectively declared his intention to abdicate, as he also had a reputation to preserve.

Whereupon, with a fine sense of distinction, she flared up and accused him of treachery to his best friend, Roxbury Medcroft, who was reposing the utmost confidence in his friendship and loyalty.

How could she be expected to go on with the play if he, the man upon whom everything depended, was to turn tail in a critical hour like this?

He looked at her in fresh amazement. Brock, and " 'Sh! Say ' Roxbury, dear '! Medcroft plaintively implored his forgive- ness, and said that she was miserable and ashamed and very unappreciative.

Brock, in deep humility, begged her pardon for his unnecessary harshness, and promised not to offend again.

And you 've been married less than a week! It 's very bad taste. Very much like the pies mother used to make.

It would take him a year to produce a quarrel. The American husband is not so confounded slow. I won't live up to Roxbury in everything. Afterwards the entire party would attend the opera, which was then in the closing week.

Brock, with splendid prodigality, had taken a box for the final perform- ance of u Tristan and Isolde. He took the seats with a definite purpose in mind to cast the burden of responsibility upon his wife, who would be forced to extend herself in the capacity of hostess, giving him the much-needed oppor- tunity to secure safe footing in the dark area of uncer- tainty.

He believed himself capable of diverting the youthful Miss Rodney and his discreet sister-in-law, but he was consumed by an unholy dread of Rodney pere ; something told him that this shrewd American business man was not the kind who would have the wool pulled over his eyes by anyone.

Brock felt that the support of Constance was of greater value than that of Edith at any stage or in any emergency. Besides, he was now quite palpably in love with her!

That 's more than most husbands can say. Constance pursued Katherine to her [43] The Husbands of Edith room, where they revelled in the delights of a reunion, gradually coming out of its throes as the hour for dressing approached.

I must be off to dress. Is he nice? Most of these English matches turn out abominably," commented Miss Rodney, who was twenty, very pretty, and very worldly.

He was with us in Dresden and Prague and don't you think he 's awfully jolly? He said he J d seen you in Paris this spring. Constance was saying to herself, " She 's in love with Freddie.

I might have known it. His heart was a very flexible organ. He was of the kind who love or make love to every new girl they meet, seriously enough at the time, but easily passed over if need be.

Rebuffs may have puzzled him, but they left no jagged scar. He belonged to that class which upsets the tranquillity of inexperienced maidens by whispering intensely, " God, it 's grand!

Katherine Rodney was in love with him. He belonged to a fashionable New York family of wealth, and he had been a young lion at Pasadena during the winter just past.

He owned automobiles and a yacht and an extensive wardrobe. These notable assets had much to do with the conquest of Mrs.

Rodney : she looked with favour upon the transitory Mr. Ulstervelt, and believed in her heart that he had something to do with the location of the shining sun.

But of this affair more anon, as the novelists say. She experienced a cold chill, the distinct approach of catastrophe. Brock had just been told that young Ulstervelt of New York was to be of the party.

His blood ran cold. He had never seen the young man, but he knew his father well ; he had even dined at the mansion in Madison Avenue.

There was every reason, however, to suspect that Freddie knew him by sight. Even as he was planning a mode of defence in case of recognition, the young man was presented.

Brock's drawl was something wonderful. Strange we never met, 'pon my soul. Medcroft," said Freddie good-naturedly. He was a slight young fellow with a fresh, inquisitive face.

It 's bigger upwards. Say, do you know, you remind me of a fellow I knew in New York! Miss Fowler caught her breath sharply. Stupid sort of chap, my mother says.

I " "Oh, dear me, Mr. Ulstervelt," cried Edith, breaking in, "you shan't say anything mean about Mr. He 's my husband's best friend.

It was my mother. To tell the truth, I 've never met him, but I 've seen him on the Fifth Avenue stages. You di look like him, though, by Jove.

Haw, haw! Eh, Mr. Ripping what? Good God, am I ripping anything? Rodney, who was fussy and fat and generally futile.

He seemed to grow suddenly un- comfortable, as if ripping was a habit with him. Dinner was a success. Brock shone with a refulgence that bedimmed all expectations.

His wife was delighted ; in all of the four years of married life, Roxbury had never been so brilliant, so deliciously English to use her own expression.

Constance tingled with pride. Of late, she had experienced unusual difficulty in diverting her gaze from the handsome impostor, and her thoughts were ever of him in justification of a platonic interest, of course, no more than that.

To-night her eyes and thoughts were for him alone, a circumstance which, could he have felt sure, would have made him wildly happy, instead of in- ordinately furious in his complete misunderstanding of her manner toward Freddie Ulstervelt, who had no compunc- tion about making love to two girls at the same time.

She was never so beautiful, never so vivacious, never so re- sourceful. Brock was under the spell ; he was fascinated ; he had to look to himself carefully in order to keep his wits in the prescribed channel.

His self-esteem received a severe shock at the opera. Medcroft, with malice aforethought, insisted that Ulstervelt should take her husband's seat.

As the box 'held but six persons, the unfortunate Brock was compelled to shift more or less for himself. Inwardly raging, he [ The Husbands of Edith suavely assured the party Freddie in particular that he would find a seat in the body of the house and would join them during the Entr'acte.

Then he went out and sat in the foyer. It was fortunate that he hated Wagner. Before the end of the act he was joined by Mr. Rodney, horribly bored and eager for relief.

In a near-by cafe they had a whiskey and soda apiece, and, feeling comfortably reinforced, returned to the opera house arm-in-arm, long and short, thin and fat, liberally discoursing upon the in- tellectuality of Herr Wagner.

Rodney impulsively, even gratefully. You recognise the joke that Wagner played on the world. Pardon me for saying it, ' sir, but I did n't think it was in an Englishman.

Ripping, by Jove! No, no! Not you. I mean the joke. But then, you see, it's been so long since i Wagner played it that even an Englishman has had time to see the point.

Besides, I 've lived a bit of my life in America. Brock glared so venomously at the intrusive Mr. Medcroft smiled softly to herself as she turned her face away.

Her eyes were ' sparkling, and something in her manner bespoke the bated breath. He blushed convincingly.

I 'm not blind. Anyone can see it. She sees it. Have n't you sense enough to hide it from her? How do you expect to win?

I 'm confusion itself. But," he went on eagerly, illogically, u do you think I could win her? And I 'd be much obliged if you 'd help me.

But look at that confounded Ulstervelt! He 's making love to her with the whole house looking on. Then take the girls into the foyer for a stroll and a chat after the act.

Don't mind me. I 'm afraid you '11 have to work for Constance. He returned to the box after the second act and proposed a turn in the foyer.

He almost hated Edith for the tantalising smile she shot after him as he moved away, defeated. If he was glaring luridly at the irrepressible Freddie, he was not alone in his gloom.

Rodney was sniffing the air as if it was laden with frost. I 'm so fond of her," said Miss Rodney, so sweetly that he should have detected the nether-flow.

He started and pulled himself together. Then, to Mrs. Alfred Rodney, a telegram in his hand, charged down the hall to Mrs.

Medcroft's door. With characteristic Far West impulsiveness he banged on the door. A sleepy voice asked who was there.

Get up. I want to see Med-- croft. Say, Roxbury, wake up! Good heaven, Mr. Rodney, what has happened? What has happened?

What the deuce is he doing upstairs? Do tell me what 's the matter? Medcroft's room? He objects to the noise. Oh, has anything happened to Roxbury?

I have a telegram from" She uttered a shriek. Oh, Roxbury! It 's a telegram from " The Husbands of Edith u Oh, heavens!

I knew they 'd kill him I knew something dreadful would happen if I left " Here she stopped suddenly. He distinctly heard her catch her breath.

After a moment she went on warily : " Is it from a man named Hobart? It's from Odell-Carney. I don't know anybody named Hobart.

No time to be lost. We 've got to catch the nine o'clock train. Then, in sudden dismay : " But I can't. The idea of getting up at an hour like this!

It is barely possible that he occupied a lower social plane than that attained by his wife, but he was a man of accomplishment, if not accomplishments.

He always did what he set out to do. Be it said in defence of this assertion, he not only routed out his entire protesting flock, but had them at the West-Bahnhof in time to catch the Orient Express lug- gage, accessories, and all.

Be it also said that he was the only one in the party, save Constance and Tootles, who took to the situation amiably. Broc looked up approvingly.

First I 've heard of 'em. Oh, dear, have you never heard of them? He felt properly re- buked. It is said " " Then, good heavens, they '11 know I 'm not Medcroft," he whispered in alarm.

That 's just where you 're wrong. They don't know Roxbury the first. I 've gone over it all with Edith.

She 's just crazy to get into the Odell-Carney set. I regret to say that they have failed to notice the Medcrofts up to this time.

Secretly, Edith has ambitions. She has gone to the Lord Mayor's dinners and to the Royal Antiquarians and to Sir John Brodney's and a lot of other functions on the outer rim, bu she 's never been able to break through the crust and taste the real sweets of London society.

My dear Roxbury, the Odell-Carneys entertain the nobility without compunction, and they 've been known to hobnob with royalty.

Odell-Carney was a Lady Somebody-or-other before she married the second time. She 's terribly smart, Roxbury. I have it from Freddie Ulstervelt that he 's trying to sell something like a million shares to Mr.

Rodney, who has loads of money that came from real mines in the Far West. He 'd never be such a fool as to sink a million in South Africa, you know, bu he J s just clever enough to see the advantage of keeping Odell-Carney in tow, as it were.

It means a great deal to Mrs. Rodney, don't you know, Roxbury, to be able to [S3] say that she toured with the Odell-Carneys.

Freddie says that Cousin Alfred is talking in a very diplomatic manner of going on to London in August to look fully into the master.

It is understood that the Rodneys are to be the guests of the Odell-Carneys while in London. It won't be the season, of course, so there won't be much of a com- motion in the smart set.

It is our dear Edith's desire to slip into the charmed circle through the rift that the Rod- neys make. Do you comprehend? Brock's eyes were devouring her exquisite face with a greediness that might have caused her some uneasiness if there had not been something pleasantly agreeable in his way of doing it.

I '11 be a dread- ful skeleton in her closet if it comes to that. When she is obliged to produce the real Roxbury, what then? Do be careful. She 's going to re- veal the whole plot to Mrs.

Odell-Carney just as soon as Roxbury gives the word treating it as a very clever and necessary ruse, don't you see. Odell-Carney will be implored to aid in the deception for a few days, and she '11 consent, because she 's really quite a bit of a sport.

At the psychological moment the Rodneys will be told. That places Mrs. Odell-Carney in the position of being an [54] Would-be Brother-in-Law abettor or accomplice : she 's had the distinction of being a sharer in a most glorious piece of strategy.

Don't you see how charmingly it will all work in the end? Constance brought him up sharp with a warn- ing kick on the ankle. He vowed afterward that he would carry the mark to his grave.

Brock glared out of the window. Freddie sniffed scornfully. He stared hard at the Danube below. After a long silence he said, 44 It 's all tommy-rot about it being blue, is n't it?

It 's always a yellow-ochre, it seems to me. She '11 have to explain, you know. There's bound to be a sceptic or two, my dear Constance.

Alas, my dear sister, it 's a very deep pool we 're in. Their eyes met, and the wonder suddenly left hers. She blushed furiously.

He found small comfort in the whisperings and titterings that came, willy-nilly, to his burning ears from the corner of the compartment. He had a disquieting impression that they were discussing him; it was forced in upon him that being a brother-in-law is not an enviable occupation.

No, thanks. The train makes such a beastly racket, don't you know. Which ear is it? Because, if she was, I couldn't.

Do you get the point? They reached Munich late in the afternoon and went at once to the Hotel Vier Jahretzeiten, where they were to find the Odell-Carneys.

Odell-Carney was a middle-aged Englishman of the extremely uninitiative type. He was tall and narrow and distant, far beyond what is commonly accepted as blase-, indeed, he was especially slow of speech, even for an Englishman, quite as if it were an everlasting question with him whether it was worth while to speak at all.

One had the feeling when listening to Mr. Odell-Carney that he was being favoured beyond words ; it took him so long to say anything, that, if one were but moderately bright, he could finish the sentence mentally some little time ia advance of the speaker, and thus be prepared to properly appreciate that which otherwise might have puzzled him considerably.

It could not be said, however, that Mr. Odell-Carney was ponderous; he was merely the effectual result of delay. Perhaps it is safe to agree with those who knew him best ; they maintained that Odell-Carney was a pose, nothing more.

She was bony and red-faced and opinionated. A few sallow years with a rapid, profli- gate nobleman had brought her, in widowhood, to a fine sense of appreciation of the slow-going though tiresomely unpractical men of the Odell-Carney type.

It mattered little that he made poor investment of the money she hai 1 sequestered from his lordship ; he had kept her in the fore- ground by associating himself with every big venture thnt interested the financial smart set.

Notwithstanding the fact that he never was known to have any money, he was looked upon as a financier of the highest order.

Which is saying a great deal in these unfeeling days of poundr and shillings. Of course Mrs. Odell-Carney was dressed as all rangy, long-limbed Englishwomen are prone to dress, after a model peculiarly not her own.

She looked ridiculously ungraceful alongside the smart, chic American women, and yet not one of them but would have given her boots to be able to array herself as one of these.

There was no denying the fact that Mrs. Odell-Carney was a " regular tip-topper," as Mr. Rodney was only too eager to say.

She had the air of a born leader ; that is to say, she could be gra- cious when occasion demanded, without being patronising.

In due course of time the Medcrofts and Miss Fowler were presented to the distinguished couple. This function was necessarily delayed until Odell-Carney had time to go into the details of a particularly annoying episode of the fternoon.

He was telling the story to his friend Rodney, nd of course everything was at a standstill until he got through. It seems that Mr.

Odell-Carney felt the need of a nap [ ' - Would-be Brother -in- Law at thiee o'clock. He gave strict injunctions that there was to be no noise in the halls while he slept, and then went into his room and stretched out.

Anyone who has stopped at the Hotel Four Seasons will have no difficulty in recall- ing the electric hall-bells which serve to attract the cham- bermaids to given spots.

If one needs the chambermaid, he presses the button in his room and a little bell in the hall tinkles furiously until she responds and shuts it off.

In that way one is sure that she has heard and is coming, a most admirable bit of German ingenuity.

If she hap- pens to be taking her lunch at the time, the bell goes on ringing until she returns ; it is a faithful bell.

Coming back to Odell-Carney : the maid on his floor was making up a room in close proximity when a most annoying happened to her. A porter who had reason to dislike came along and turned her key from the outside, locking her in the room.

She could n't get out, and she had been warned against making a sound that might disturb the Eng- lish guest. With rare intelligence, she did not scream or make an outcry, but wisely proceeded to press the button for a chambermaid.

Then she evidently sat down to wait. To make the story short, she rang her own call-bell for two hours, no other maid condescending to notice the call, which speaks volumes for the almost martial system of the hotel.

The bell was opposite the narrator's door. Is it, therefore, surprising that he required a great deal of time to tell all that he felt?

It was not so much of what he did that he spoke at such great length, but of what he felt. I did n't close my eyes, c'nfend me if I did.

Rodney fussily intervened and introduced the Medcrofts. Odell-Carney was delightfully gracious ; she was sure that no nicer party could have been " got together.

He unbent at once in the presence of the unmistakably handsome Fowler sisters ; his expressive " chawmed " was in direct contrast to his ordinary manner of acknowledging an introduction.

Medcroft is the famous architect, you know," explained the anxious Mrs. Brocik stuck his eyeglass in tighter and hemmed with raucous precision.

Medcroft stif- fened perceptibly. Roxbury Medcroft, the great Eng- lish architect," cried Mrs. Rodney, in some little confusion. Odell-Carney suddenly remembered.

He glared hard at Brock ; the Rodneys saw signs of disaster. Are you the man who did that? Brock faced the storm coolly, for his friend Medcroft's sake.

Medcroft to her supposed husband a few minutes later. There was a dangerous red in her cheeks, and she was breathing quickly.

Brock gave an embarrassed laugh and mentioned something audibly about a " stupid ass. Rodney already had reserved the better part of a whole floor for himself and guests.

Odell-Carney, before they left Munich, brought himself to the point of apologising to Brock for his peppery remarks.

He was sorry and all that, and he hoped they 'd be friends ; but the windows were atrocious, there was no getting around that.

His wife smoothed it over with Edith by confiding to her the lamentable truth that poor Odell-Carney had n't the remotest idea what he was talking about half of the time.

After carefully looking Edith over and finding her valuably bright and attractive, she cordially expressed the hope that she would come to see her in London.

Med- croft," she had said amiably. Edith thought of the famous drawing-rooms in Mayfair and exulted vastly. Medcroft, too. I am so interested in men who have a craft.

They always are worth while, really, don't you know. How like an American Mr. Medcroft is. I dare- say he gets that from having lived so long with an Ameri- can wife.

And what a darling baby! She 's wonderfully like Mr. Medcroft, don't you think? No one could mis- take that child's father never!

And, my dear," leaning close with a whimsical air of confidence, " that 's more than 61] can be said of certain children I know of in very good families.

From that momentous hour Mrs. Medcroft encouraged an inordinate regard for the circumspect. She decided that it was best never to be alone with her husband ; the future was now too precious to go unguarded for a single moment that might be unexplainable when the triumphal hour of revelation came to hand.

She impressed this fact upon her sister, with the result that while Brock was never alone with his prudent wife, he was seldom far from the side of the adorable lieutenant.

As if precociously pro- viding for an ultimate alibi, the fickle Tootles began to show unmistakable signs of aversion for her temporary parent.

Rodney, being an old-fashioned mother, could not reconcile herself to this unfilial attitude, and gravely confided to her husband that she feared Medcroft was mistreating his child behind their backs.

Rodney, who liked Brock ; " and if a dog likes a man he 's not altogether a bad lot. If I were you, I would n't spread the report. Twice removed," she concluded as an after-thought.

He may be an unnatural father, but I shall not be the one to say so. Please bear that in mind, Alfred.

Rodney, departing before she could disobey the injunction. Of course, there was no little confusion at the Hotel Tyrol when it came to establishing the Medcrofts.

For 62] The Would-be Brother-in-Law a while it looked as though Brock would have to share a room with Tootles, relegating Burton to an alcove and a couch ; but Constance, in a strictly family conclave, was seized by an inspiration which saved the day or the night, more properly speaking.

A great many invalids do, you know. It 's quite simple. You sleep in the open air because it does your lungs so much good.

Oh, I know! It is n't 'necessary to expand your chest like that. They're per- fectly sound, I daresay. I should think you 'd rather enjoy the fresh air.

Besides, there is n't a room to be had in the hotel. And so it was settled that he was to sleep in the small balcony just off the baby's luxurious room, the hotel people agreeing to place a cot there at night in order to oblige the unfortunate guest with the affected lung.

Medcroft, very much relieved. You 've no idea how hard it is for me to speak English against Odell-Carney. I 'm an out-and- out amateur beside him.

And it's horribly annoying to have Ulstervelt shouting in my ear loud enough for every- body in the dining-room to hear. It 's rich, I tell you, and if I did n't love you so devotedly, Edith, I 'd be on my way at this very instant.

I feel better. By the way, Edith, I 'm afraid I '11 have to punch Odell-Carney's confounded head before He 's getting to be so friendly to me as Roxbury that I can't endure him as Brock.

Constance looked up with a new interest in her ever sprightly face. Confound him, he persists in saying I 'm all right, but God deliver him from those demmed rotters, the American builders.

He says he would n't let one of us build a hen- coop for him, much less a dog kennel. Oh, I say, Connie, don't laugh!

How would you like it if But both of them were laughing at him so merrily that he joined them at once. Burton and O'Brien, who had come in, wer smiling discreetly.

Upon their return from the delightful stroll along the mountain side, she went at once to her room to dress for dinner. Brock, more deeply in love than ever before, lighted a cigar and seated himself in the gallery, dubiously retrospective in his meditations.

He was sorely disturbed by her almost constant allusion to Freddie Ulstervelt and his "amazingly attractive ways. He seemed to be propounding this doleful question to the lofty, sphinx-like Waldraster-Spitze, loom- ing dark in the path of the south.

Brock shifted un- easily. Medcroft, as man to man. You are Connie's brother-in-law and you ought to be able to set me straight. It 's a matter I have n't discussed with anyone.

I 've come to, have a liking for you, Roxbury. You 're my sort ; you have a sort of New York feeling about you.

I 'm sure you 're enough of a sport to give me unprejudiced advice. Hands across the sea, see? Well, to get right down to the [65] point, old man, you '11 pardon my plain speech, I think Constance ought to marry an American.

How clever you are. We see a great deal of each other. I'm sure you will like her. Everybody falls dreadfully in love with her. Which reminds me that I've never had a sister-in-law.

They're very nice, I'm told. It's odd that Medcroft didn't tell me about you. Would you mind advancing a bit of general information about yourself—and, I may say, about my family in general?

It may come handy. She leaned forward, her elbows on the table, her chin in her hands. We live in Paris,—that is, father and I.

I'm three years younger than Edith. Of course, you know how old your wife is, so we won't dwell upon that.

You don't? Then I'd demand it of her. I haven't been in Philadelphia since I was seven—and that's ages ago. I have no mother, and father is off in South America on business.

So, you see, little sister has to tag after big sister. Now you'll have to go. Roxbury always does.

You have no idea how—". The Rodneys were in Paris at the time, however, and they had asked me to join them for a fortnight in the Tyrol. When I said that I was off for a visit with the—with you, I mean—they insisted that you all should come too.

They are connections, in a way, don't you see. So we accepted. And here we are. It's only as a safeguard, you know. People may ask questions.

The flush had deepened in her cheek. It convinced him that she was in love—and engaged. He experienced a queer sinking of the heart.

Appalling thought! He laughed delightedly. I'm already married, you know. But if anyone should ask, you're not obliged to answer.

She looked troubled and uncertain. Poor old Roxbury wouldn't have had the tact to inquire. For the next quarter of an hour they chatted in the liveliest, most inconsequential fashion, getting on excellent terms with each other and arriving at a fair sense of appreciation of what lay ahead of them in the shape of peril and adventure.

She was the most delightful person he had ever met, as well as being the most beautiful. There was a sprightly, ever-growing air of self-reliance about her that charmed and reassured him.

She possessed the capacity for divining the sane and the ridiculous with splendid discrimination. Moreover, she could jest and be serious with an impartial intelligence that gratified his vanity without in the least inspiring the suspicion that she was merely clever.

He became blissfully imbued with the idea that she had surprised herself by the discovery that he was really quite attractive.

In fact, he was quite sincerely pleased with himself—for which he may be pardoned if one stops to think how resourceful a woman of tact may be if she is very, very pretty.

And, by way of further analogy, Brock was a thoroughly likable chap, beside being handsome and a thoroughbred to the core.

It's not betraying a secret to affirm, cold-bloodedly, that Miss Fowler had not allied herself with the enterprise until after she had pinned Roxbury down to facts concerning Brock's antecedents.

She was properly relieved to find that he came of a fine old family and that he had led more than one cotillion in New York.

He experienced a remarkable change of front in respect to Roxbury Medcroft before the breakfast was over.

It may have been due to the spell of her eyes or to the call of her voice, but it remains an unchallenged fact that he no longer thought of Medcroft as a stupid bungler; instead, he had come to regard him as a good and irreproachable Samaritan.

All of which goes to prove that a divinity shapes our ends, rough hew them how we may. By the way, Roxbury, I am now about to preserve you from bitter reproaches.

You have forgotten to order coffee and rolls for your wife. So I have! It's nine o'clock. You have much to accomplish in the next twenty-four hours, not the least of your duties being the subjugation of Tootles and Raggles.

Tootles is fifteen months old, it may interest you to know. We can't afford to have Tootles scream with terror every time she sees you, and it would be most unfortunate if Raggles should growl and snap at you as he does at all suspicious strangers.

Once in a while he bites too. Do you like babies? But, I say," with eager enthusiasm, "I love dogs! He growls every time that Roxy kisses Edith.

But I'll try to anticipate Raggles by compelling Edith to keep her distance," he said, scowling darkly.

There were habits and foibles, demands and restrictions, that he had to adapt himself to with unvarying benignity.

He made a friend of Raggles without half trying; dogs always took to him, he admitted modestly. Tootles was less vulnerable.

She howled consistently at each of his first half-dozen advances; his courage began to wane with shocking rapidity; his next half-hearted advances were in reality inglorious retreats.

Spurred on by the sustaining Constance, he stood by his guns and at last was gratified to see faint signs of surrender.

By midday he had conquered. Tootles permitted him to carry her up and down the station platform she was too young to realise the risk she ran.

Edith and Constance, with the beaming nurse and O'Brien, applauded warmly when he returned from his first promenade, bearing Tootles and proudly heeled by Raggles.

Fond mothers in the crowd of hurrying travellers found time to look upon him and smile as if to say, "What a nice man! Which, no doubt, accounted for the intense ruddiness of his cheeks.

Medcroft, after Tootles had brought tears to his eyes with a potent attack upon his nose. She caught the light of danger in his grey eyes and hastily snatched the offending Tootles from his arms.

Miss Fowler kept him constantly at work with his eyeglass and his English, neither of which he was managing well enough to please her critical estimate.

In fact, he laboured all day with the persistence, if not the sullenness, of a hard-driven slave. He did not have time to become tired. There was always something new to be done or learned or unlearned: his day was full to overflowing.

He was a man of family! The wife of his bosom was tranquillity itself. She was enjoying herself. When not amusing herself by watching Brock's misfortunes, she was napping or reading or sending out for cool drinks.

With all the selfishness of a dutiful wife, she was content to shift responsibilities upon that ever convenient and useful creature—a detached sister.

Brock sent telegrams for her from cities along the way,—Ulm, Munich, Salzburg, and others,—all meant for the real Roxbury in London, but sent to a fictitious being in Great Russell Street, the same having been agreed upon by at least two of the conspirators.

It mattered little that she repeated herself monotonously in regard to the state of health of herself and Tootles. Roxbury would doubtless enjoy the protracted happiness brought on by these despatches, even though they got him out of bed or missed him altogether until they reached him in a bunch the next day.

He may also have been gratified to hear from Munich that Roxbury was perfectly lovely. She said, in the course of her longest despatch, that she was so glad that the baby was getting to like her father more and more as the day wore on.

At one station Brock narrowly escaped missing the train. He swung himself aboard as the cars were rolling out of the sheds. As he sank, hot and exhausted, into the seat opposite his wife and her sister, the former looked up from her book, yawning ever so faintly, and asked:.

She smiled encouragingly. Medcroft, this time yawning freely and stretching her fine young arms in the luxury of home contentment.

Brock went to bed early, in Vienna that night—tired but happy, caring not what the morrow brought forth so long as it continued to provide him with a sister-in-law and a wife who was devoted—to another man.

The end of the week found Brock quite thoroughly domesticated—to use an expression supplied by his new sister-in-law.

True, he had gone through some trying ordeals and had lost not a little of his sense of locality, but he was rapidly recovering it as the pathway became easier and less obscure.

At first he was irritatingly remiss in answering to the name of Medcroft; but, to justify the stupidity, it is only necessary to say that he had fallen into a condition which scarcely permitted him to know his own name, much less that of another.

He was under the spell! Wherefore it did not matter at all what name he went by: he would have answered as readily to one as the other.

He blandly ignored telegrams and letters addressed to Roxbury Medcroft, and once he sat like a lump, with everyone staring at him, when the chairman of the architects' convention asked if Mr.

Medcroft had anything to say on the subject under discussion. He was forced, in some confusion, to attribute his heedlessness to a life-long defect in hearing.

Thereafter it was his punishment to have his name and fragments of conversation hurled about in tones so stentorian that he blushed for very shame.

In the Bristol, in the Kärntner-Ring, in the Lichtenstein Gallery, in the Gardens—no matter where he went—if he were to be accosted by any of the genial architects it was always in a voice that attracted attention; he could have heard them if they had been a block away.

It became a habit with him to instinctively lift his hand to his ear when one of them hove in sight, having seen him first.

Constance had just whispered her condolences. He was immensely relieved. Considerable difficulty had to be overcome at the Bristol in the matter of rooms.

Without going into details, Brock resignedly took the only room left in the crowded hotel—a six by ten cubby-hole on the top floor overlooking the air-shaft.

He had to go down one flight for his morning tub, and he never got it because he refused to stand in line and await his turn.

Medcroft had the choicest room in the hotel, looking down upon the beautiful Kärntner-Ring. Constance proposed, in the goodness of her heart, to give up to Brock her own room, adjoining that of her sister, provided Edith would take her in to sleep with her.

Edith was perfectly willing, but interposed the sage conclusion that gossiping menials might not appreciate a preference so unique.

Roxbury Medcroft's sky parlour adjoined the elevator shaft. The head of his bed was in close proximity to the upper mechanism of the lift, a thin wall intervening.

A French architect, who had a room hard by, met Brock in the hall, hollow-eyed and haggard, on the morning after their first night.

He shouted lugubrious congratulations in Brock's ear, just as if Brock's ear had not been harassed a whole night long by shrieking wheels and rasping cables.

Ah, even an affliction such as yours, monsieur, has its benedictions! Matters drifted along smoothly, even merrily, for several days.

They were all young and full of the joy of living. They laughed in secret over the mishaps and perils; they whiffed and enjoyed the spice that filled the atmosphere in which they lived.

They visited the gardens and the Hofs, the Chateau at Schönbrunn, the Imperial stables, the gay "Venice in Vienna"; they attended the opera and the concerts, ever in a most circumspect "trinity," as Brock had come to classify their parties.

Like a dutiful husband, he always included his wife in the expeditions. Medcroft," he declared, "but an unusually agreeable chaperon.

I don't know how Constance and I could get on without you. But the day of severest trial was now at hand.

The Rodneys were arriving on the fifth day from Berlin. Despite the fact that the Seattle "connections" had never seen the illustrious Medcroft, husband to their distant cousin, there still remained the disturbing fear that they would recognise—or rather fail to recognise him!

Besides, there was always the possibility that they had seen or even met Brock in New York. He lugubriously admitted that he had met unfortunate thousands whom he had promptly forgotten but who seldom failed to remember him.

It is not surprising, then, that the Medcrofts, ex parte , were in a state of perturbation,—a condition which did not relax in the least as the time drew near for the arrival of the five o'clock train from the north.

Constance strove faithfully, even valiantly, to inject confidence into the souls of the prime conspirators. He was a very brave fellow in spite of all that.

You are afraid of Edith, but can't you be like the Indian? Don't forget that, my dear. Think of the difference in our disguises!

War paint in daubs versus spats and an eyeglass. Besides, he didn't have to talk West End English. And, moreover, he lived in a wigwam, and didn't have to explain a sky bedroom to strangers who happened along.

He looked at her with an expression that made a verbal reply to this suggestion altogether unnecessary. Still he stared moodily, unconvinced, at the roadway ahead.

They were driving in the Haupt Allee. It occurred to me afterward that he is violently opposed to the system. I advocated it. He'll have a—I might say, a devil of a time explaining his change of front.

As a matter of fact, when Medcroft, hiding in London, saw the reproduced interview in the "Times," together with editorial comments upon the extraordinary attitude of a supposedly conservative Englishman of recognised ability, he was tried almost beyond endurance.

For the next two or three days the newspapers printed caustic contributions from fellow architects and builders, in each of which the luckless Medcroft was taken to task for advocating an impractical and fatuous New York hobby in the way of construction,—something that staid old London would not even tolerate or discuss.

The social chroniclings of the Medcrofts in Vienna, as despatched by the correspondents, offset this unhappy "bull" to some extent, in so far as Medcroft's peace of mind was concerned, but nothing could have drawn attention to the fact that he was not in London at that particular time so decisively as the Vienna interview and its undefended front.

Even his shrewdest enemy could not have suspected Medcroft of a patience which would permit him to sit quiet in London while the attacks were going on.

He found some small solace in the reflection that he could make the end justify the means. On their return to the Bristol, Brock and Miss Fowler found the fair Edith in a pitiful state of collapse.

She declared over and over again that she could not face the Rodneys; it was more than should be expected of her; she was sure that something would go wrong; why, oh, why was it necessary to deceive the Rodneys?

Why should they be kept in the dark? Why wasn't Roxbury there to counsel wisely—and more, ad infinitum , until the distracted pair were on the point of deserting the cause.

She finally dissolved into tears, and would not listen to reason, expostulation, or persuasion. It was then that Brock cruelly but effectively declared his intention to abdicate, as he also had a reputation to preserve.

Whereupon, with a fine sense of distinction, she flared up and accused him of treachery to his best friend, Roxbury Medcroft, who was reposing the utmost confidence in his friendship and loyalty.

How could she be expected to go on with the play if he, the man upon whom everything depended, was to turn tail in a critical hour like this?

He looked at her in fresh amazement. We have both placed the utmost confidence in you, Mr. Brock, and—".

Say 'Roxbury, dear'! Then Mrs. Medcroft plaintively implored his forgiveness, and said that she was miserable and ashamed and very unappreciative.

Brock, in deep humility, begged her pardon for his unnecessary harshness, and promised not to offend again. And you've been married less than a week!

It's very bad taste. Very much like the pies mother used to make. It would take him a year to produce a quarrel.

The American husband is not so confounded slow. I won't live up to Roxbury in everything. It was decided that Constance should greet the Rodneys upon their arrival; the Medcrofts were not to appear until dinner time.

Afterwards the entire party would attend the opera, which was then in the closing week. Brock, with splendid prodigality, had taken a box for the final performance of "Tristan and Isolde.

He took the seats with a definite purpose in mind to cast the burden of responsibility upon his wife, who would be forced to extend herself in the capacity of hostess, giving him the much-needed opportunity to secure safe footing in the dark area of uncertainty.

Brock felt that the support of Constance was of greater value than that of Edith at any stage or in any emergency.

Besides, he was now quite palpably in love with her! That's more than most husbands can say. The Rodneys descended upon the Bristol at five o'clock, rushing down from the Nord-Bahnhof as if there was not a minute to spare.

Constance pursued Katherine to her room, where they revelled in the delights of a reunion, gradually coming out of its throes as the hour for dressing approached.

Most of these English matches turn out abominably," commented Miss Rodney, who was twenty, very pretty, and very worldly. He was with us in Dresden and Prague and—don't you think he's awfully jolly?

Katherine laughed a trifle hardly after a stiff moment; then a queer light flitted into her eyes,—the light of awakened opposition. Constance was saying to herself, "She's in love with Freddie.

I might have known it. He had threatened to throw himself into the Seine; she remembered that quite well—and also the fact that he did nothing of the sort, but had a very jolly time at Maxim's and sent her flowers by way of repentance.

Knowing Freddie so well, it would not have surprised her in the least to find that he had become engaged to Katherine. His heart was a very flexible organ.

And thus it transpired that Freddie Ulstervelt—addlepated, good-looking, inconstant Freddie, just out of college—was transformed into a bone of contention, whether he would or no.

He was of the kind who love or make love to every new girl they meet, seriously enough at the time, but easily passed over if need be.

Rebuffs may have puzzled him, but they left no jagged scar. He belonged to that class which upsets the tranquillity of inexperienced maidens by whispering intensely, "God, it's grand!

Katherine Rodney was in love with him. He belonged to a fashionable New York family of wealth, and he had been a young lion at Pasadena during the winter just past.

He owned automobiles and a yacht and—an extensive wardrobe. These notable assets had much to do with the conquest of Mrs.

Rodney: she looked with favour upon the transitory Mr. Ulstervelt, and believed in her heart that he had something to do with the location of the shining sun.

But of this affair more anon, as the novelists say. Brock was presented to the Rodneys just before the party went in to dinner. He managed his eyeglass and his drawl bravely, and got on swimmingly with the elder Rodneys, until Constance appeared with Katherine and Freddie Ulstervelt.

It was not until then that it occurred to Miss Fowler that Freddie, being from New York, was almost certain to know Brock either personally or by sight.

She experienced a cold chill, the distinct approach of catastrophe. Brock had just been told that young Ulstervelt of New York was to be of the party.

His blood ran cold. He had never seen the young man, but he knew his father well; he had even dined at the mansion in Madison Avenue.

There was every reason, however, to suspect that Freddie knew him by sight. Even as he was planning a mode of defence in case of recognition, the young man was presented.

Brock's drawl was something wonderful. Strange we never met, 'pon my soul. Medcroft," said Freddie good-naturedly. He was a slight young fellow with a fresh, inquisitive face.

It's bigger upwards. Say, do you know, you remind me of a fellow I knew in New York! Ulstervelt," cried Edith, breaking in, "you shan't say anything mean about Mr.

He's my husband's best friend. It was my mother. To tell the truth, I've never met him, but I've seen him on the Fifth Avenue stages.

You do look like him, though, by Jove. Haw, haw! Eh, Mr. Ripping what? Good God, am I ripping anything? Rodney, who was fussy and fat and generally futile.

He seemed to grow suddenly uncomfortable, as if ripping was a habit with him. Dinner was a success. Brock shone with a refulgence that bedimmed all expectations.

His wife was delighted; in all of the four years of married life, Roxbury had never been so brilliant, so deliciously English to use her own expression.

Constance tingled with pride. Of late, she had experienced unusual difficulty in diverting her gaze from the handsome impostor, and her thoughts were ever of him—in justification of a platonic interest, of course, no more than that.

To-night her eyes and thoughts were for him alone,—a circumstance which, could he have felt sure, would have made him wildly happy, instead of inordinately furious in his complete misunderstanding of her manner toward Freddie Ulstervelt, who had no compunction about making love to two girls at the same time.

She was never so beautiful, never so vivacious, never so resourceful. Brock was under the spell; he was fascinated; he had to look to himself carefully in order to keep his wits in the prescribed channel.

His self-esteem received a severe shock at the opera. Medcroft, with malice aforethought, insisted that Ulstervelt should take her husband's seat.

As the box held but six persons, the unfortunate Brock was compelled to shift more or less for himself. Inwardly raging, he suavely assured the party—Freddie in particular—that he would find a seat in the body of the house and would join them during the Entr'acte.

Then he went out and sat in the foyer. It was fortunate that he hated Wagner. Before the end of the act he was joined by Mr.

Rodney, horribly bored and eager for relief. You recognise the joke that Wagner played on the world. Pardon me for saying it, sir, but I didn't think it was in an Englishman.

Ripping, by Jove! No, no! Not you. I mean the joke. But then, you see, it's been so long since Wagner played it that even an Englishman has had time to see the point.

Besides, I've lived a bit of my life in America. Brock glared so venomously at the intrusive Mr. Ulstervelt upon the occasion of his next visit to his own box, that Mrs.

Medcroft smiled softly to herself as she turned her face away. A few minutes later she seized the opportunity to whisper in his ear.

Her eyes were sparkling, and something in her manner bespoke the bated breath. He blushed convincingly.

I'm not blind. Anyone can see it. She sees it. Haven't you sense enough to hide it from her? How do you expect to win?

I'm confusion itself. But," he went on eagerly, illogically, "do you think I could win her? And I'd be much obliged if you'd help me.

But look at that confounded Ulstervelt! He's making love to her with the whole house looking on. Then take the girls into the foyer for a stroll and a chat after the act.

Don't mind me. I'm your friend. I'm afraid you'll have to work for Constance. People will think you are making love to me!

He returned to the box after the second act and proposed a turn in the foyer. To his disgust, Ulstervelt appropriated Constance and left him to follow with Mrs.

Rodney and Katherine. He almost hated Edith for the tantalising smile she shot after him as he moved away, defeated. If he was glaring luridly at the irrepressible Freddie, he was not alone in his gloom.

Katherine Rodney, green with jealousy, was sending spiteful glances after her dearest friend, while Mrs. Rodney was sniffing the air as if it was laden with frost.

I'm so fond of her," said Miss Rodney, so sweetly that he should have detected the nether-flow. He started and pulled himself together.

Then, to Mrs. Rodney, his mind a blank after a passing glimpse of Constance and her escort: "Aw—er—a perfectly jolly opera, isn't it?

The next morning, bright and early, Mr. Alfred Rodney, a telegram in his hand, charged down the hall to Mrs. Medcroft's door. With characteristic Far West impulsiveness he banged on the door.

A sleepy voice asked who was there. Good heaven, Mr. Rodney, what has happened? What has happened? He objects to the noise.

Oh, has anything happened to Roxbury? I knew they'd kill him—I knew something dreadful would happen if I left—" Here she stopped suddenly.

He distinctly heard her catch her breath. After a moment she went on warily: "Is it from a man named Hobart? It's from Odell-Carney.

I don't know anybody named Hobart. No time to be lost. We've got to catch the nine o'clock train. Then, in sudden dismay: "But I can't do it! The idea of getting up at an hour like this!

Alfred Rodney was a persevering man. It is barely possible that he occupied a lower social plane than that attained by his wife, but he was a man of accomplishment, if not accomplishments.

He always did what he set out to do. Be it said in defence of this assertion, he not only routed out his entire protesting flock, but had them at the West-Bahnhof in time to catch the Orient Express—luggage, accessories, and all.

Be it also said that he was the only one in the party, save Constance and Tootles, who took to the situation amiably.

Brock looked up approvingly. First I've heard of 'em. Oh, dear, have you never heard of them? He felt properly rebuked.

It is said—". That's just where you're wrong. They don't know Roxbury the first. I've gone over it all with Edith. She's just crazy to get into the Odell-Carney set.

I regret to say that they have failed to notice the Medcrofts up to this time. Secretly, Edith has ambitions. She has gone to the Lord Mayor's dinners and to the Royal Antiquarians and to Sir John Rodney's and a lot of other functions on the outer rim, but she's never been able to break through the crust and taste the real sweets of London society.

My dear Roxbury, the Odell-Carneys entertain the nobility without compunction, and they've been known to hobnob with royalty.

Odell-Carney was a Lady Somebody-or-other before she married the second time. She's terribly smart, Roxbury. I have it from Freddie Ulstervelt that he's trying to sell something like a million shares to Mr.

Rodney, who has loads of money that came from real mines in the Far West. He'd never be such a fool as to sink a million in South Africa, you know, but he's just clever enough to see the advantage of keeping Odell-Carney in tow, as it were.

It means a great deal to Mrs. Rodney, don't you know, Roxbury, to be able to say that she toured with the Odell-Carneys.

Freddie says that Cousin Alfred is talking in a very diplomatic manner of going on to London in August to look fully into the master.

It is understood that the Rodneys are to be the guests of the Odell-Carneys while in London. It won't be the season, of course, so there won't be much of a commotion in the smart set.

It is our dear Edith's desire to slip into the charmed circle through the rift that the Rodneys make. Do you comprehend?

They were seated side by side in the corner of the compartment, his broad back screening her as much as possible from the persistent glances of Freddie Ulstervelt, who was nobly striving to confine his attentions to Katherine.

Brock's eyes were devouring her exquisite face with a greediness that might have caused her some uneasiness if there had not been something pleasantly agreeable in his way of doing it.

I'll be a dreadful skeleton in her closet if it comes to that. When she is obliged to produce the real Roxbury, what then? Do be careful.

She's going to reveal the whole plot to Mrs. Odell-Carney just as soon as Roxbury gives the word—treating it as a very clever and necessary ruse, don't you see.

Odell-Carney will be implored to aid in the deception for a few days, and she'll consent, because she's really quite a bit of a sport.

At the psychological moment the Rodneys will be told. That places Mrs. Odell-Carney in the position of being an abettor or accomplice: she's had the distinction of being a sharer in a most glorious piece of strategy.

Don't you see how charmingly it will all work in the end? Constance brought him up sharp with a warning kick on the ankle. He vowed afterward that he would carry the mark to his grave.

Brock glared out of the window. Freddie sniffed scornfully. She laughed in the old way, but she was not soon to forget that moment when panic was so imminent.

He stared hard at the Danube below. After a long silence he said,—. He waited a long time before venturing to express the thought that of late had been troubling him seriously.

She'll have to explain, you know. There's bound to be a sceptic or two, my dear Constance. Alas, my dear sister, it's a very deep pool we're in.

Their eyes met, and the wonder suddenly left hers. She blushed furiously. He found small comfort in the whisperings and titterings that came, willy-nilly, to his burning ears from the corner of the compartment.

He had a disquieting impression that they were discussing him; it was forced in upon him that being a brother-in-law is not an enviable occupation.

Which ear is it? Because, if she was, I couldn't. Do you get the point? They reached Munich late in the afternoon and went at once to the Hotel Vier Jahretzeiten, where they were to find the Odell-Carneys.

Odell-Carney was a middle-aged Englishman of the extremely uninitiative type. One had the feeling when listening to Mr. Odell-Carney that he was being favoured beyond words; it took him so long to say anything, that, if one were but moderately bright, he could finish the sentence mentally some little time in advance of the speaker, and thus be prepared to properly appreciate that which otherwise might have puzzled him considerably.

It could not be said, however, that Mr. Odell-Carney was ponderous; he was merely the effectual result of delay.

Perhaps it is safe to agree with those who knew him best; they maintained that Odell-Carney was a pose, nothing more.

His wife was quite the opposite in nearly every particular, except height and angularity. She was bony and red-faced and opinionated.

A few sallow years with a rapid, profligate nobleman had brought her, in widowhood, to a fine sense of appreciation of the slow-going though tiresomely unpractical men of the Odell-Carney type.

It mattered little that he made poor investment of the money she had sequestered from his lordship; he had kept her in the foreground by associating himself with every big venture that interested the financial smart set.

Notwithstanding the fact that he never was known to have any money, he was looked upon as a financier of the highest order.

Which is saying a great deal in these unfeeling days of pounds and shillings. Of course Mrs. Odell-Carney was dressed as all rangy, long-limbed Englishwomen are prone to dress,—after a model peculiarly not her own.

She looked ridiculously ungraceful alongside the smart, chic American women, and yet not one of them but would have given her boots to be able to array herself as one of these.

There was no denying the fact that Mrs. Odell-Carney was a "regular tip-topper," as Mr. Rodney was only too eager to say. She had the air of a born leader; that is to say, she could be gracious when occasion demanded, without being patronising.

In due course of time the Medcrofts and Miss Fowler were presented to the distinguished couple. This function was necessarily delayed until Odell-Carney had time to go into the details of a particularly annoying episode of the afternoon.

He was telling the story to his friend Rodney, and of course everything was at a standstill until he got through. It seems that Mr. Odell-Carney felt the need of a nap at three o'clock.

He gave strict injunctions that there was to be no noise in the halls while he slept, and then went into his room and stretched out.

Anyone who has stopped at the Hotel Four Seasons will have no difficulty in recalling the electric hall-bells which serve to attract the chambermaids to given spots.

If one needs the chambermaid, he presses the button in his room and a little bell in the hall tinkles furiously until she responds and shuts it off.

In that way one is sure that she has heard and is coming, a most admirable bit of German ingenuity. If she happens to be taking her lunch at the time, the bell goes on ringing until she returns; it is a faithful bell.

Coming back to Odell-Carney: the maid on his floor was making up a room in close proximity when a most annoying thing happened to her.

A porter who had reason to dislike her came along and turned her key from the outside, locking her in the room.

She couldn't get out, and she had been warned against making a sound that might disturb the English guest. With rare intelligence, she did not scream or make an outcry, but wisely proceeded to press the button for a chambermaid.

Then she evidently sat down to wait. To make the story short, she rang her own call-bell for two hours, no other maid condescending to notice the call, which speaks volumes for the almost martial system of the hotel.

The bell was opposite the narrator's door. Is it, therefore, surprising that he required a great deal of time to tell all that he felt?

It was not so much of what he did that he spoke at such great length, but of what he felt. I didn't close my eyes, c'nfend me if I did.

While Odell-Carney was studiously adjusting his eyeglass for a final glare at an unoffending 'bus boy who almost dropped his tray of plates in consequence, Mr.

Rodney fussily intervened and introduced the Medcrofts. Odell-Carney was delightfully gracious; she was sure that no nicer party could have been "got together.

He unbent at once in the presence of the unmistakably handsome Fowler sisters; his expressive "chawmed" was in direct contrast to his ordinary manner of acknowledging an introduction.

Brock stuck his eyeglass in tighter and hemmed with raucous precision. Medcroft stiffened perceptibly.

Roxbury Medcroft, the great English architect," cried Mrs. Rodney, in some little confusion. Odell-Carney suddenly remembered.

He glared hard at Brock; the Rodneys saw signs of disaster. Are you the man who did that? Brock faced the storm coolly, for his friend Medcroft's sake.

Where the devil did you get such ideas—eh, wot? Medcroft to her supposed husband a few minutes later. There was a dangerous red in her cheeks, and she was breathing quickly.

Brock gave an embarrassed laugh and mentioned something audibly about a "stupid ass. The entire party left on the following day for Innsbruck, where Mr.

Rodney already had reserved the better part of a whole floor for himself and guests. Odell-Carney, before they left Munich, brought himself to the point of apologising to Brock for his peppery remarks.

He was sorry and all that, and he hoped they'd be friends; but the windows were atrocious, there was no getting around that.

His wife smoothed it over with Edith by confiding to her the lamentable truth that poor Odell-Carney hadn't the remotest idea what he was talking about half of the time.

After carefully looking Edith over and finding her valuably bright and attractive, she cordially expressed the hope that she would come to see her in London.

Medcroft," she had said amiably. Edith thought of the famous drawing-rooms in Mayfair and exulted vastly. Medcroft, too. I am so interested in men who have a craft.

They always are worth while, really, don't you know. How like an American Mr. Medcroft is. I daresay he gets that from having lived so long with an American wife.

And what a darling baby! She's wonderfully like Mr. Medcroft, don't you think? No one could mistake that child's father—never! And, my dear," leaning close with a whimsical air of confidence, "that's more than can be said of certain children I know of in very good families.

Edith may have gasped and looked wildly about in quest of help, but her agitation went unnoticed by the new friend. From that momentous hour Mrs.

Medcroft encouraged an inordinate regard for the circumspect. She decided that it was best never to be alone with her husband; the future was now too precious to go unguarded for a single moment that might be unexplainable when the triumphal hour of revelation came to hand.

She impressed this fact upon her sister, with the result that while Brock was never alone with his prudent wife, he was seldom far from the side of the adorable lieutenant.

As if precociously providing for an ultimate alibi, the fickle Tootles began to show unmistakable signs of aversion for her temporary parent.

Rodney, being an old-fashioned mother, could not reconcile herself to this unfilial attitude, and gravely confided to her husband that she feared Medcroft was mistreating his child behind their backs.

Rodney, who liked Brock; "and if a dog likes a man he's not altogether a bad lot. If I were you, I wouldn't spread the report.

Twice removed," she concluded as an after-thought. He may be an unnatural father, but I shall not be the one to say so.

Please bear that in mind, Alfred. Rodney, departing before she could disobey the injunction. Of course, there was no little confusion at the Hotel Tyrol when it came to establishing the Medcrofts.

For a while it looked as though Brock would have to share a room with Tootles, relegating Burton to an alcove and a couch; but Constance, in a strictly family conclave, was seized by an inspiration which saved the day—or the night, more properly speaking.

A great many invalids do, you know. It's quite simple. You sleep in the open air because it does your lungs so much good.

Oh, I know! It isn't necessary to expand your chest like that. They're perfectly sound, I daresay. I should think you'd rather enjoy the fresh air.

Besides, there isn't a room to be had in the hotel. And so it was settled that he was to sleep in the small balcony just off the baby's luxurious room, the hotel people agreeing to place a cot there at night in order to oblige the unfortunate guest with the affected lung.

Medcroft, very much relieved. You've no idea how hard it is for me to speak English against Odell-Carney. I'm an out-and-out amateur beside him.

And it's horribly annoying to have Ulstervelt shouting in my ear loud enough for everybody in the dining-room to hear. It's rich, I tell you, and if I didn't love you so devotedly, Edith, I'd be on my way at this very instant.

I feel better. He's getting to be so friendly to me as Roxbury Medcroft that I can't endure him as Brock. Constance looked up with a new interest in her ever sprightly face.

Confound him, he persists in saying I'm all right, but God deliver him from those demmed rotters, the American builders.

He says he wouldn't let one of us build a hencoop for him, much less a dog kennel. Oh, I say, Connie, don't laugh! How would you like it if—" But both of them were laughing at him so merrily that he joined them at once.

Burton and O'Brien, who had come in, were smiling discreetly. Upon their return from the delightful stroll along the mountain side, she went at once to her room to dress for dinner.

Brock, more deeply in love than ever before, lighted a cigar and seated himself in the gallery, dubiously retrospective in his meditations.

He was sorely disturbed by her almost constant allusion to Freddie Ulstervelt and his "amazingly attractive ways. He seemed to be propounding this doleful question to the lofty, sphinx-like Waldraster-Spitze, looming dark in the path of the south.

Brock shifted uneasily. Medcroft, as man to man. You are Connie's brother-in-law and you ought to be able to set me straight. It's a matter I haven't discussed with anyone.

I've come to have a liking for you, Roxbury. You're my sort; you have a sort of New York feeling about you. I'm sure you're enough of a sport to give me unprejudiced advice.

Hands across the sea, see? Well, to get right down to the point, old man,—you'll pardon my plain speech,—I think Constance ought to marry an American.

Brock sat up very straight. We're not really engaged—but almost. As a matter of fact, we've got to the point where it's really up to me to speak to her father about it, don't you know.

Luckily, I haven't. That would have committed me, don't you see. I've been tentatively engaged more than a dozen times, but never quite up to the girl's father.

Now, I don't mind telling you that I've changed my mind about Katherine. She's a jolly good sort, but she's not just my sort.

I thought she was, but—well, you know how it is yourself. The heart's a damned queer organ. Mine has gone back to Constance in the last two days.

You are her brother-in-law, and you're a good fellow, through and through. I want your help. I've got money to burn, and the family's got position in the States.

I can take care of her as she should be taken care of. No little old six-room flat for her.

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