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Hatherell, William / Rosemary in Search of a Father
[Illustration: _Evelyn and Rosemary climbed hand in hand, while Hugh
carried the two huge baskets_]


ROSEMARY
IN SEARCH
OF A
FATHER

BY
C. N. & A. M. WILLIAMSON

NEW YORK

McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.
MCMVII


_Copyright, 1906, by McClure, Phillips & Co._


_The illustrations in the book are by William Hatherell
and the decorations by Thomas Maitland Cleland_


_To Minda_




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE WHITE GIRL ON THE TERRACE:
THE ROSE GIRL AT THE CASINO 3

II. THE ROSE GIRL'S LITTLE STORY, AND
GREAT EYES 21

III. WHEN THE CURTAIN WAS DOWN 40

IV. DOGS AND FATHERS 48

V. ROSEMARY IN SEARCH OF A FATHER 62

VI. FAIRY FATHERS MUST VANISH 78

VII. THE WHITE FIGURE AT THE DOOR 94

VIII. WHEN A MAN GOES SHOPPING 108

IX. THE LAST WORD OF MADEMOISELLE 128




ILLUSTRATIONS


EVELYN AND ROSEMARY CLIMBED HAND
IN HAND, WHILE HUGH CARRIED TWO
HUGE BASKETS _Frontispiece_

PAGE

HE TOOK OFF HALF, AND WAS LEAVING
THE REST TO RUN, WHEN A VOICE CLOSE
TO HIS SHOULDER, SAID, "OH, DO TAKE
IT ALL OFF" 12

WITH A CRASH OF MACHINERY HE BROUGHT
THE BIG BLUE CAR TO A STOP 70

HE CRUSHED THEM IN HIS, THEN BENT
HIS HEAD AND KISSED THEM 102

THEY CAME NEARER, NEAR ENOUGH FOR
MADEMOISELLE TO RECOGNISE THE MAN
WITH THEM 124

THEIR FLUFFY LACES BURNT AND BLACKENED.
CHIFFON FICHUS TORN IN RIBBONS
STREWED THE CARPET 138




ROSEMARY IN SEARCH OF A FATHER




CHAPTER ONE

THE WHITE GIRL ON THE TERRACE: THE ROSE GIRL AT THE CASINO


There was a young man in Monte Carlo. He had come in a motor car, and he
had come a long way, but he hardly knew why he had come. He hardly knew
in these days why he did anything. But then, one must do something.

It would be Christmas soon, and he thought that he would rather get it
over on the Riviera than anywhere else, because the blue and gold
weather would not remind him of other Christmases which were gone--pure,
white, cold Christmases, musical with joy-bells and sweet with aromatic
pine, the scent of trees born to be Christmas trees.

There had been a time when he had fancied it would be a wonderful thing
to see the Riviera. He had thought what it would be like to be a rich
man, and bring a certain girl here for a moon of honey and roses.

She was the most beautiful girl in the world, or he believed her so,
which is exactly the same thing; and he had imagined the joy of walking
with her on just such a terrace as this Casino terrace where he was
walking now, alone. She would be in white, with one of those long ermine
things that women call stoles; an ermine muff (the big, "granny" kind
that swallows girlish arms up to the dimples in their elbows) and a hat
which they would have bought together in Paris.

They would have bought jewels, too, in the same street where they found
the hat; the Rue de la Paix, which she had told him she longed to see.
And she would be wearing some of the jewels with the white dress--just a
few, not many, of course. A string of pearls (she loved pearls) a
swallow brooch (he had heard her say she admired those swallow brooches,
and he never forgot anything she said); with perhaps a sapphire-studded
buckle on her white suéde belt. Yes, that would be all, except the
rings, which would lie hidden under her gloves, on the dear little hands
whose nails were like enamelled rose leaves.

When she moved, walking beside him on the terrace, there would be a
mysterious silky whisper and rustle, something like that you hear in the
woods, in the spring, when the leaves are crisp with their pale green
youth, and you shut your eyes, listening to the breeze telling them the
secrets of life.

There would be a fragrance about the white dress and the laces, and
ermine, and the silk things that you could not see,--a fragrance as
mysterious as the rustling, for it would seem to belong to the girl, and
not to have come from any bottle, or bag of sachet powder. A sweet,
fresh, indefinable fragrance, like the smell of a tea rose after rain.

They would have walked together, they two, and he would have been so
proud of her, that every time a passer-by cast a glance of admiration at
her face, he would feel that he could hardly keep in a laugh of joy, or
a shout, "She is mine--she is mine."

But he had been poor in the old days, when from far away he had thought
of this terrace, and the moon of honey and roses, and love. It had all
been a dream, then, as it was now; too sweet ever to come true.

He thought of the dream, and of the boy who had dreamed it, half
bitterly, half sadly, on this his first day in the place of the dream.

He was rich--as rich as he had seen himself in the impossible picture,
and it would have been almost too easy to buy the white dress, and the
ermine, and the pearls. But there was no one for whom he would have been
happy to buy them. The most beautiful girl in the world was not in his
world now; and none other had had the password to open the door of his
heart since she had gone out, locking it behind her.

"She would have liked the auto," he said to himself. And then, a moment
later, "I wonder why I came?"

It was a perfect Riviera day. Everybody in Monte Carlo who was not in
the Casino was sauntering on the terrace in the sun; for it was that
hour before luncheon when people like to say, "How do you do?--How nice
to meet you here!" to their friends.

The young man from far away had not, so far as he knew, either enemies
or friends at Monte Carlo. He was not conscious of the slightest desire
to say "How do you do?" to any of the pretty people he met, although
there is a superstition that every soul longs for kindred souls at
Christmas time.

He had not been actively unhappy before he left the Hotel de Paris and
strolled out on the terrace, to have his first sight of Monte Carlo by
daylight. Always, there was the sore spot in his heart, and often it
ached almost unbearably at night, or when the world hurt him with its
beauty, which he must see without Her; but usually he kept the spot
well covered up; and being healthy as well as young, he had cultivated
that kind of contentment which Thoreau said was only desperate
resignation in disguise. He took an interest in books, in politics, and
sport and motor cars, and a good many other things; but on the terrace,
the blue of the sea; the opal lights on the mountains; the gold glint of
oranges among green, glittering leaves; the pearly glimmer of white
roses thrown up like a spray against the sky, struck at his heart, and
made the ache come back more sharply than it had for a long time.

If he had been a girl, tears would have blinded his eyes; but being what
he was, he merely muttered in anger against himself, "Hang it all, what
a wretched ass I am," and turning his back on the sea, made his way as
fast as he could into the Casino.

It was close upon twelve o'clock, and the "Rooms" had been open to the
public for two hours. The "early gamblers" thronging the Atrium to wait
till the doors opened, had run in and snatched seats for themselves at
the first tables, or marked places to begin at eleven o'clock, if
crowded away from the first. Later, less ardent enthusiasts had strolled
in; and now, though it was not by any means the "high season" yet, there
were rows of players or lookers on, three deep round each table.

The young man was from the South--though a South very different from
this. He had the warm blood of Virginia in his veins, and just so much
of the gambler's spirit as cannot be divided from a certain recklessness
in a man with a temperament. He had seen plenty of life in his own
country, in the nine years since he was twenty, and he knew all about
roulette and _trente et quarante_, among other things desirable and
undesirable.

Still, gambling seemed to be made particularly fascinating here, and he
wanted to be fascinated, wanted it badly. He was in the mood for the
heavy hush of the Rooms, for the closeness, and the rich perfumes, which
mingling together seem like the smell of money piled on the green
tables; he was in a mood for the dimmed light like dull gold, gold
sifted into dust by passing through many hands.

He had got his ticket of admission to the Casino, after arriving
yesterday evening; but the Rooms had not pleased him then. He had not
played, and had merely walked through, looking at the people; but now he
went to a _trente et quarante_ table, and reaching over the shoulders of
the players--not so many as in the roulette rooms,--he put a five
hundred franc note on _couleur_. It won. He let the money lie, and it
won again. A third time and a fourth he left the notes on, and still
luck was with him. He was in for a good run.

As it happened, nobody else had been playing higher than _plaques_, the
handsome hundred franc gold pieces coined for the Principality of
Monaco; and people began to watch the new comer, as they always do one
who plays high and is lucky. On the fifth deal he had won the maximum.
He took off half, and was leaving the rest to run, when a voice close to
his shoulder said, "Oh, do take it all off. I feel it's going to lose
now. To please _me_."

[Illustration: _He took off half, and was leaving the rest to run, when
a voice close to his shoulder said, "Oh, do take it all off"_]

He glanced aside, and saw an exceedingly pretty, dark face, which looked
vaguely familiar. With a smile, he took up all the notes, and only just
in time. Couleur lost; inverse won.

"Oh, I'm so glad," said the owner of the pretty face. She spoke English
with a slight, but bewitching foreign accent; and her eyes shone at him
like brown jewels under the tilted brim of a hat made all of pink and
crimson roses. She was rather like a rose, too, a rich, colourful, spicy
rose, of the kind which unfolds early. He knew that he had seen her
before, and wondered where.

After all, it was rather nice to be spoken to by someone other than a
hotel manager or a waiter; someone who was good to look at, and
friendly. He lost interest in the game, and gained interest in the girl.

"Thank you," said he. "You've brought me luck."

"I hope you don't think I speak always to strangers, like that," said
the girl in the rose hat. "But you see, I recognized you at once. I
don't know if you remember me? No, I'm afraid you don't."

"Of course I remember you, only I can't think where we--"

"Why, it was in Paris. You saved my mother's little dog from being run
over one day. We were both so grateful. Afterwards we saw you once or
twice at tea at the Ritz, and you took off your hat, so you must have
remembered then. Ah me, it's a long time ago!"

"Not so very," said the young man. "I remember well, now." (He wished her
mother had not been quite such an appalling person, fat and painted.)
"It was only last October. I'd just come to Paris. It was my first day
there, when I picked up the little dog. Now, on my first day here, you
pay me back for what I did then--as if it needed paying back!--by
making me pick up my money. That's quite a coincidence."

They had moved away from the tables now, and were walking very slowly
down the room. The young man smiled at the girl, as he crushed up the
notes and stuffed them into his pocket. He saw that she was much
prettier than he had thought her in Paris, if he had thought of her at
all; and her dress of pale pink cloth was charming with the rose hat.
Somehow, he was glad that she was not in white--with an ermine stole.

"So it is, quite a coincidence, and a pleasant one for me, since I meet
again one who was once so kind," she said. "Especially it is good to
meet a friend--if I may call you a friend?--when one is very sad."

"Of course you may call me a friend," said he, kindly. "I'm sorry to
hear you are sad."

"That is why I told you the other meeting seemed a long time ago,"
explained the girl. "I was happy then. Now, I am breaking my heart, and
I do not know what to do. Oh, I ought not to talk like this, for after
all, you are a stranger. But you are English, or you are American; and
men of those countries never misunderstand a woman, even if she is in
trouble. We can feel ourselves safe with them."

"I'm American," he answered, "and I'm glad you feel like that. I wish I
could help you in some way." He spoke kindly, but not with absolute
warmth of sincerity. The girl saw this, and knew that he did not believe
in her as she wished him to believe, as she intended to make him
believe.

She looked up at him with sad and eloquent eyes, which softened his
heart in spite of himself. "You can't help me, thank you," she said,
"except by kind words and kind thoughts. I think, though, that it would
do me good to tell you things, if you really take an interest?"

"Of course I do." He was speaking the truth now. He was human, and she
was growing prettier, as she grew more pathetic, every moment.

"And would you advise me a little? I have nobody else to ask. My mother
and I know no one at Monte Carlo. Perhaps you would walk with me on the
terrace and let me talk?"

"Not on the terrace," he said, quickly, for he could not bear to meet
the sweet ghost of the past in the white dress and ermine stole, as he
gave advice to the flesh and blood reality of the present, in the pink
frock and roses. "What about Ciro's? Couldn't we find your mother
somewhere, and get her to chaperon us for lunch? I should think it must
be very jolly now, in the Galerie Charles Trois."

"So it would be; but my poor mother is very ill in her bed," said the
girl.

"Would she--er--do you think, as I'm an American, and we're almost old
friends, mind letting you have lunch just with me alone? Of course, if
she would mind, you must say no. But I must confess, I'm hungry as a
wolf; and it would be somewhere to sit and talk together, quietly, you
know."

"You are hungry," echoed the girl. "Ah, I would wager something that you
don't really know what hunger is. But I know--now."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean it is well my mother is ill, and doesn't wish to eat, for there
would be nothing for her, if she did."

"Good heavens! And you?"

"I have had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, and then only a
biscuit with a glass of water."

"My poor girl, we won't say anything more about chaperons. Come along
with me to Ciro's this instant, to lunch, and tell me everything."

He was completely won over now, and looked very handsome, with a slight
flush on his brown face, and his dark eyes bright with excitement.

The girl lowered her long lashes, perhaps to hide tears.

When she did this, and drooped the corners of her mouth, she was very
engaging, and the young man tingled all over with pity. That poor,
pretty creature, starving, in her charming pink dress and hat of roses.
How strange life was! It was something to be thankful for that he had
met her.

A little while ago, he had walked through the Galerie Charles Trois,
thinking how delightful the tables looked at Ciro's, and making up his
mind to return there for lunch. But afterwards, on the terrace, he had
been so miserable that he would probably have forgotten all about his
plan, if it had not been for the girl.

Now, he chose a small table in a corner of the balcony, close to the
glass screen. A month later, he might have had to engage it long
beforehand; but to-day, though the place was well filled with pretty
women and their attendant men, there was not a crowd, and he could
listen to his companion's low-voiced confidences without fear of being
overheard.




CHAPTER TWO

THE ROSE GIRL'S LITTLE STORY, AND GREAT EYES


He ordered a lunch which he thought the girl would like, with wine to
revive the faculties that he knew must be failing. Then, when she had
eaten a little, daintily in spite of her hunger, he encouraged her to
talk.

"Mother and I are all alone in the world," she said. "We are Belgian,
and live in Brussels, but we have drifted about a good deal, just
amusing ourselves. Somehow we never happened to come here until a month
ago. Then my mother said one day in Paris, 'Let us go to Monte Carlo. I
dreamed last night that I won twenty thousand francs there.' My mother
is rather superstitious. We came, and she did win, at first. She was
delighted, and believed in her dream, so much that when she began to
lose, she went up and up, doubling each time. They call the game she
made, 'playing the martingale!'

"She lost all the money we had with us, and telegraphed home for more.
Soon, she had sold out every one of our securities. Then she won, and
went half mad with the joy and excitement, but the joy didn't last long.
She lost all, again--literally, our all. We were penniless. There was
nothing left to pay the hotel bill. I went out, and found a _Mont de
Pieté_, just beyond the limits of the Principality; they aren't allowed
inside. I pawned all our jewellery, and as we had a great many valuable
things, I got several thousand francs. I thought the money would last
us until I could find something to do. But, without telling me what she
meant to do, mother took it all to the Casino--and--it followed the
rest.

"She was so horrified at what she had done, when it was too late, that
she wished to kill herself. It was a terrible time for me, but I was so
sorry--so sorry for her."

As the girl said this, she looked full into the young man's eyes, with
her great, appealing ones. He thought that she must have a wonderfully
sweet nature, to have forgiven that horrible, fat old woman, after being
subjected to so much undeserved suffering. It was a thousand pities, he
said to himself, that a really good sort of girl should be forced to
live her life beside a creature of that type, and under such an
influence. He had not quite believed in the poor child, at first,
perhaps, and because he did believe in her now, he felt poignant remorse
for his past injustice.

"What did you do, then?" he asked, honestly absorbed in the story, for
he was a generous and warm hearted fellow, who found most of his
pleasure, in these latter days, in the help he could give others, to
make them happier than he was himself.

"I comforted her as well as I could, but I didn't know what would become
of us. Then a lady, who had a room next to mine in the hotel, heard me
crying, and was very kind."

"I should think she would have been," interrupted the young man.

"She told me that, as my mother had lost everything, she had better go
to the Direction of the Casino, and get what they call a viatique--money
to go away with. So she did ask, though it was a great ordeal to make
up her mind to do it; and they gave my mother a thousand francs. Then,
you know, she had no right to play in the Rooms again; she was supposed
to pay her hotel bill, and leave Monte Carlo. But she gave half the
money to a woman she had met in the Rooms, and asked her to put it on
six numbers she had dreamed about; she was sure that this time she would
win."

"And did she?"

"No. The money was lost. We hadn't enough left to settle our account at
the hotel, or to get away from the place, even if there were anywhere to
go--when one has no pennies. So my mother begged me to slip into the
Rooms, with what was left, and try to get something back. I had been
trying when you saw me, with our last louis. Now you know why it seemed
so good to see a man I knew, a face I could trust. Now you know why I,
who had had such misfortunes, was glad at least to bring you luck."

"It's my turn to bring you some, I think," began the man she could
trust; but she stopped him by putting up her plump little white hand.

"If you mean with money, no," she said, with soft decision that was
pretty and sad to hear. "If you mean with advice, yes. If you could only
get me something to do! You see, they will be turning us out of our
hotel to-morrow. They've let us keep our rooms on, up to now, but for
two days they've not given us anything to eat. Of course, it can't go on
like this. If it hadn't been for you, I think when I went back to tell
my mother that the last louis of the viatique was gone, we would have
killed ourselves."

"Great Heaven, you must promise me not to do that," the young man
implored.

"I will promise, now, for you have saved me by--caring a little. You do
care, really, don't you?"

"I wouldn't have blood in my veins, if I didn't. But--about something
for you to do--I must think."

"Are you staying here for some time?" asked the girl.

"I haven't made up my mind."

"I asked because I--I suppose you don't need a secretary, do you? I can
write such a good English hand; and I know French and Italian as well as
I do German, and your own language. If I could be of use, I would work
so hard for you."

"I dare say I shall be needing a secretary after Christmas, indeed, I'm
sure I shall," insisted the young man, more and more earnest in his
desire to do good. "I have dozens of letters to write every day, and all
sorts of odds and ends to keep straight. I could bring the things down
to your place and you could help me, if you would. But I'm afraid it
would be no end of bother to you."

"I should love it," said the girl, gently.

"Oh, it would be hard work. It would take a lot of your time, and be
worth a lot of money."

"Would it really? But you mustn't overpay me. I should be so angry if
you did that."

"There's no danger. I'm a good business man, I assure you. I should pay
a capable secretary like you--knowing several languages and all
that--say forty dollars a week. That's about two hundred francs."

"Wouldn't that be too much?"

"Hardly enough."

"You are so good--so good! But I knew you would be. I wonder if you
would think me a very bold girl if I told you something? It's this; I've
never forgotten you since those days in Paris. You were different,
somehow, from other men I had seen. I thought about you. I had a
presentiment that we should meet again. My mother dreamed of numbers to
play at roulette. I dreamed of--but oh, I am saying things I ought not
to say! Please don't blame me. When you've starved for two days, and not
known what to do--unless to die, and then a man comes who is kind, and
saves you from terrible things, you can't be as wise and well behaved as
at other times."

"Poor child," said the young man.

"It does me good to be called that. But you don't know my name, the name
of your new secretary. It is Julie--Julie de Lavalette. My mother is
the Comtesse de Lavalette. And you?"

"Oh, I'm plain Hugh Egerton," said the young man.

The girl laughed. "I do not think you are plain Hugh Egerton at all. But
perhaps an American girl would not tell you that? Hugh! What a nice
name. I think it is going to be my favourite name."

She glanced up at him softly, under long lashes,--a thrilling glance;
but he missed its radiance, for his own eyes were far away. Hugh had
been the favourite name of another girl.

When she saw that look of his, she rose from her chair. "I'm taking too
much of your time," she exclaimed, remorsefully. "I must go."

His eyes and thoughts came back to the wearer of pink and roses.
Perhaps there had been just a little too much softness and sweetness. It
had been wise of her to change the key, and speak of parting.

He paid for the lunch, and tipped the waiters so liberally that they all
hoped he would come again often. Then he asked if he might walk with her
to the hotel where she and her mother were staying.

"It's down in the Condamine," she hesitated. "We've moved there lately,
since the money began to go, and we've had to think of everything. It's
rather a long walk from here."

"All the better for me," he answered, and her smile was an appreciation
of the compliment.

They sauntered slowly, for there was no haste. Nobody else wanted Hugh
Egerton's society, and he began to believe that this girl sincerely did
want it. He also believed that he was going to do some real good in the
world, not just in the ordinary, obvious way, by throwing about his
money, but by being genuinely necessary to someone.

When they had strolled down the hill, and had followed for a time the
straight road along the sea on that level plain which is the Condamine,
the girl turned up a side street. "We live here," she said, and stopped
before a structure of white stucco, rococco decoration, and flimsy
balconies. Large gold letters, one or two of which were missing,
advertised the house as the Hotel Pension Beau Soleil; and those who ran
might read that it would be charitable to describe its accommodation as
second rate.

"It is not nice," she went on, with a shrug of her pretty shoulders.
"But--it is good to know all the same that we will not be turned out. I
have a new heart in my breast, since I left this house a few hours
ago--because there is a You in the world."

As she said this, she held out her hand for goodbye, and when he had
shaken it warmly, the young man was bold enough to slip off her wrist
the little pink leather bag which hung there by its chain.

"Now for that advance on your secretarial work," he said; and taking
from his pocket a wad of notes which he had won at the Casino, he
stuffed it hastily into the yawning mouth of the bag, while the girl's
soft eyes gazed at the sea. Then he closed the spring with a snap, and
she let him pass the chain over her hand once more.

"Oh, but it looks very fat," she exclaimed. "Are you sure you counted
right?"

"There's a little more there," he said, uncomfortably, "just a little to
save the bother of counting here in the street. Don't look angry. Only
the salary part's for you, of course, but the rest--couldn't you just
hand it over to your mother, and say, 'Winnings at the Casino'? That's
true, you know; it was, every bit. And you needn't say who won it.
Besides, if it hadn't been for you, it would have been lost instead of
won. It would be a kind of Christmas present for your mother from the
Casino, which really owes her a lot more."

The girl shook her head, gently. "I couldn't do that, even for my
mother's sake; but I don't misunderstand, now we are such friends. I
know how kindly you mean, and though neither mother nor I can accept
presents of money, even from dear friends (after all we are of the
noblesse!) I'm not going to hurt you by giving the money back, if you
will do what I ask of you."

"What is that?" He felt ready to do anything within reason.

"Let us sell you our dear little dog, for this extra money you have put
into my bag. He is very, very valuable, for he cost thousands of francs,
the sweet pet, so you would really have something not unworthy, in
return for your goodness. Ah, don't say no. You would love Papillon, and
we should love you to have him. We couldn't have parted with our little
darling to a stranger, though we were starving; but it would make us
happy to think he was yours. And then, if you won't, you must take all
this back." As she spoke, she touched the bag on her arm.

"Oh, I'll have the dog!" Hugh Egerton said, quickly. Anything rather
than the girl should return the money, which she so much needed. "I
remember he was a dear little chap, Pomeranian or something of the sort.
I hope he likes motors."

"He will like whatever you like. If you will come and fetch him this
evening, I will show you all his tricks. Do come. It would be good to
see you again so soon."

"With pleasure," said the young man, flushing slightly. "If you think
your mother will be well enough to receive me?"

"The news I have to give will almost cure her. If you would dine with
us? They will give us a dinner, now"--and she laughed childishly--"when
I have paid the bill. It will be very stupid for you at a place like
this, but you will have a welcome, and it is the best we can do."

"It is the welcome I want," said Hugh. "But if you and your mother could
dine with me somewhere--"

"Another time we will."

There were to be other times, of course!

"And this evening," she went on, "we can talk of my beginning work, as
your secretary. It shall be directly after Christmas?"

"Whenever you are ready."

"I suppose you have friends to whom you will go for Christmas?"

"Not a friend."

"Oh, perhaps we might be together--all three?"

"I'll think of something pleasant for us to do, if you'll let me."

"How good you are! Then, till this evening. It will seem long till
then."

They shook hands once more. She had taken off her glove now, and her
palm left on his a reminiscence of Peau d'Espagne. He did not know what
the scent was, but it smelled rich and artificial, and he disliked to
associate it with his new friend. "But probably it's her mother's, and
she didn't choose it herself," he thought. "Well--I have a new interest
in life now. I expect this is the best thing that's happened to me for a
long time."

As he walked back to his hotel, his head was full of plans for the
girl's transient pleasure and lasting benefit. "Poor lonely child," he
thought. "And what a mother! She ought not to be left with a person like
that. She ought to marry. It would be a good deed to take her away from
such an influence. So young, and so ingenuous as she is still, in spite
of the surroundings she must have known, she is capable of becoming a
noble woman. Perhaps, if she turns out to be really as sweet and gentle
as she seems--"

The sentence broke off unfinished, in his mind, and ended with a great
sigh.

There could be only second best, and third best things in life for him
now, since love was over, and it would be impossible for him to care for
an angel from heaven, who had not the face and the dear ways of the girl
he had lost. But second best things might be better than no good things
at all, if only one made up one's mind to accept them thankfully. And it
was a shame to waste so much money on himself, when there were
soft-eyed, innocent girls in the world who ought to be sheltered and
protected from harm.




CHAPTER THREE

WHEN THE CURTAIN WAS DOWN


The soft-eyed, innocent girl who had inspired the thought went into the
hotel, and was rather cross to the youthful concierge, because the
_ascenseur_ was not working. There were three flights of stairs to mount
before she reached her room, and she was so anxious to open her bag to
see what was inside, that she ran up very fast, so fast that she stepped
on her dress and ripped out a long line of gathers. Her eyes were not
nearly as soft as they had been, while she picked up the hanging folds
of pink cloth, and went on.

The narrow corridor at the top of the staircase was somewhat dark, and,
her eyes accustomed to the brilliant light out of doors, the girl
stumbled against a child who was coming towards her.

"_Petit bête!_" she snapped. "You have all but made me fall. Awkward
little thing, why don't you keep out of people's way?"

The child flushed. She would have liked to answer that it was
Mademoiselle who had got in her way; but Mother wished her to be always
polite. "I am sorry," she replied instead, not saying a word about the
poor little toes which the pretty pink lady had crushed.

"Well, then, if you are sorry, why don't you let me pass?" asked the
girl of the soft eyes.

"If you please, I want to give you a note," said the child, anxiously
searching a small pocket. "It's from Mother, for Madame. She told me to
take it to your door; so I did, several times, but nobody answered.
Here 'tis, please, Mademoiselle."

Mademoiselle snatched it from the hand, which was very tiny, and pink,
with dimples where grown up folk have knuckles. She then pushed past the
child, and went on to a door at the end of the passage, which she threw
open, without knocking.

"_Eh bien_, Julie! You have been gone long enough to break the bank
twice over. What luck have you had?" exclaimed the husky voice of a
woman who sat in an easy chair beside a wood fire, telling her own
fortune with an old pack of cards, spread upon a sewing board, on her
capacious lap.

She was in a soiled dressing gown of purple flannel, with several of the
buttons off. In the clear light of a window at the woman's back, her
hair, with a groundwork of crimson, was overshot with iridescent lights.
On a small table at her side a tray had been left, with the remains of
_déjeûner_; a jug stained brown with streaks of coffee; a crumbled
crescent roll; some balls of silver paper which had contained cream
chocolates; ends of cigarettes, and a scattered grey film of ashes. At
her feet a toy black Pomeranian lay coiled on the torn bodice of a red
dress; and all the room was in disorder, with an indiscriminate litter
of hats, gloves, French novels, feather boas, slippers, and fallen
blouses or skirts.

The lady of the roses went to the mirror over the untidy mantel piece,
and looked at herself, as she answered. "No luck at roulette or trente.
But the best of luck outside."

"What, then?"

The girl began to hum, as she powdered her nose with a white glove,
lying in a powder box.

"You remember _le beau brun_?"

"The young man in Paris you made so many enquiries about at Ritz's? Is
he here?"

"He is. I've just had lunch with him. Oh, there are lots of things to
tell. He is a good boy."

"How, good? You told him we had had losses?"

"I painted a sad picture. He was most sympathetic."

"To what extent?"

"_Chere maman!_ One would think we were vulgar adventuresses. We are
not. He respects me, this dear young man, and it is right that he
should. I deserve to be respected. You know the fable about the dog who
dropped his meat in the water, trying to snap at its reflection? Well,
I don't ask strangers for loans. I make my impression. Monsieur Hugh
Egerton is my friend--at present. Later, he will be what I choose. And
most certainly I shall choose him for a husband. What luck, meeting him
again! It is time I settled down."

"They said at Ritz's that he was one of the young millionaires, well
known already in America," the fat woman reflected aloud. "It is a good
thing that I have brought you up well, Julie, and that you are pretty."

"Yes, it is a good thing that I am pretty," repeated the girl. "We have
had many hopes often before, but this seems to be the most promising. I
think it is very promising indeed, and I don't mean to let it slip."

She turned her back to the easy chair, and opened the pink bag. As the
woman talked on, she secretly counted out the money. There were more
than ten thousand francs in mille notes and others of smaller
denominations. Quietly she put them away in the top of a travelling box,
which she locked. Then she noticed the letter which the child had given
her, still lying on the dressing table, with her gloves.

"Here's something from _la belle Americaine_, upstairs," said she. "_A
billet doux_."

"A dun," exclaimed the woman.

"No doubt. It can be nothing else."

"Well, we can't pay."

"No, we can't pay," said the girl, looking at the locked box.

"Let me see, how much was it she lent?"

"Two hundred francs, I think. We told her we'd give it back in a week.
That's nearly a month ago."

"Serve her right for trusting strangers. The saints alone know when
she'll see her money again. She shouldn't be so soft hearted. It
doesn't pay in these days."

"Neither do we--when we can help it."

They both laughed.

"But when you are Madame--let me see, what was the name of the young
monsieur, they told you at the Ritz?"

"Egerton."

"Ah yes. When you are Madame Egerton--"

"Everything will be very different then."

And the girl slipped the key of the box into the little pink bag.




CHAPTER FOUR

DOGS AND FATHERS


After delivering her letter, the child went slowly on downstairs, to the
room she had been on the way to visit. It was on the second floor, just
under the room of the Comtesse de Lavalette.

"Come in," said a Cockney voice shrill with youth, in answer to her tap;
and the child obeyed.

Though this room was of the same size and shape, it was very different
from that of the Comtesse. The plain furniture was stiffly arranged, and
there was no litter of clothing or small feminine belongings. By the
window, which gave a glimpse of the sea, and of Monaco rock with the old
part of the Palace, a plump young girl sat, with a baby a year or two
old in her arms, and a nurse's cap on her smooth head.

"You invited me to come down after I'd had my déjeûner, so I came," said
the child.

"Right you are, Miss Rosemary," returned the plump girl. "You're such a
quaint little body, you're a regular treat. I declare I ain't 'alf sure
I wouldn't rather talk to you, than read the Princess Novelettes.
Besides, I do get that tired of 'earin' nothin' but French, I'm most
sorry I undertook the job; and the Biby don't pick up English much yet."

"Don't you think he's a bright baby?" asked the child, sitting down on a
footstool, which was a favourite seat of hers.

"For a French biby, 'e's as bright as you could expect," replied her
hostess, judicially.

"Are they different?"

"Well, they ain't Hinglish."

"_I'm_ half American," said the little girl.

"You don't talk through your nose. Far as I can see, you've got as good
a haccent as me."

"I suppose yours _is_ good?" asked Rosemary, as if she longed to have a
doubt set forever at rest.

"Rather! Ain't I been brought out from London on purpose so as this biby
can learn to speak Hinglish, instead of French? It's pretty near the
sime thing as bein' nursery governess. Madame wouldn't trust her own wye
of pronouncing the languidge. She must 'ave a Hinglish girl."

"And she sent for you on purpose?" the child enquired, with increasing
respect.

"Well, I was the only one as would come at the price. 'Tain't big wages;
but I'm seein' loife. Lor', I come down here with Madame and Mounseer a
fortnight ago, and Monte Carlo ain't got many secrets from me. I _was_ a
duffer, though, at first. When I 'eerd all them shots poppin' off every
few minutes, up by the Casino, I used to think 'twas the suicides a
shooting theirselves all over the place, for before I left 'ome, I 'ad a
warnin' from my young man that was the kind of goin's on they 'ad here.
But now I know it's only the pigeon shooters, tryin' for prizes, and I
wouldn't eat a pigeon pie in this 'otel, not if 'twas ever so!"

"Do they ever have them?" asked the little girl, awed.

"Not as I knows of, but they may for Christmas. I sye, are you lookin'
forward to your Christmas, kiddy?"

"Angel--that's Mother, I mean--says I'm not going to have much of a
Christmas this year. I'm trying not to mind. I suppose it's because
Santa Claus can't get to the Riviera, with his sleigh and reindeer. How
could he, Miss Jane, when there's no snow, and not even a scrap of ice?"

"Pshaw!" said Miss Jane. "It ain't Santa Claus brings you things, snow
or no snow. Only babies believe that. You're old enough to know better.
It's your father and mother does it all."

"Are you sure?" asked Rosemary.

"Dead sure. Don't be a silly and cry, now, just because there ain't any
Santa Claus, nor any fairies."

"It isn't that," said the little girl. "It's because I can never have
any more Christmases, if it depends on a father. You know, I haven't a
father."

"I supposed you 'adn't, as 'e ain't 'ere, with yer ma," replied the
young person. "She's mighty pretty."

"I think she's the prettiest mother in the world," said Rosemary,
proudly.

"She don't look much like a mother."

The child opened her eyes very wide at this new point of view. "I
couldn't have a mother who looked any other way," she said. "What do you
think she does look like?"

"Silly puss! I only mean she isn't much more'n a kid, 'erself."

"She's twenty five, twenty whole years more than me. Isn't that old?"

"Lawkes, no. I'm goin' on seventeen myself. I 'aven't got any father, no
more'n you 'ave, so I can feel fur you. Your ma 'as to do typewritin'.
Mine does charrin'. It's much the sime thing."

"Is it?" asked Rosemary.



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