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of his type, but none the less unhealthy. be stupid. There are wounds that no Was it some remnant of grumous at probes can_touch, that no medicine mosphere carried like an infection from
This reaches those wounds, the circle he had once adorned? Or was dear boy—and cures them. Isn't it it an egoism which, fed and fattened delightfully novel? The Medical Corps upon itself, had finally developed into is going to try it on.” grotesque repulsiveness? Undoubtedly, "And in the mean time," I exclaimed, I decided. At all events, he was the in the Aush of knowledge, "you have sort one avoids—the sort that by no restored a brave man to his own.” possibiliy, as it seemed, could have “I have made a brave man,
," she attracted Sybil Dauriac. Yet, evident corrected. She gestured impatiently. ly he had.
“Oh, I have had no illusions, Leslie. My eyes bristled with questions as she I'll tell you, because I know how good caught my gaze—her answer a shrug a friend you are: Eric Jermyn”-her with a suggestion of defiance.
voice sank almost to a whisper-“was In another moment the car was draw the most arrant coward that God ever ing up at the Portland Place house, fashioned. But now,” she went on, Jermyn slouched out and, with proprie- “he's going back into the army-reintory mien that I resented, gave an order stated. He doesn't know how near it is. to the chauffeur.
Nor do I, precisely. But it is near.” “You see,” said Sybil, her manner Her eyes were Aaming. “Leslie, I'd suddenly changing to its usual blithe never done anything big in my life ness as we entered the hall, “Eric is before. But now I want you to apmy patient from nine in the morning preciate it, want you to understand. until after dinner. Do come in and I'll You'll go to your clubs, to the War show you the lion's den. You'll excuse Office, and you'll meet enemies—I mean
Eric's and mine-many of them imporJermyn nodded and walked non tant, or, worse, those who scoff. Ichalantly into the drawing-room, Sybil we want you
us, waiting until the tapestry closed behind count.” his slim, well-shaped back. Then she “Yes, to be sure." I spoke absently, took my arm in silence and led me into for my mind was singing with the revean apartment, a recent addition, evi- lations that had blazed before. I turned dently, to the house--and altogether to her suddenly. “Sybil, how deucedly, extraordinary.
how sublimely like you!" It was nothing more or less, if I
And it was. In her intense, burning may coin a term, than a color cure. way, led by an imagination and imThe ceiling was the even turquoise of a pulses—as likely as not to be weird, summer sky, which, with the spring uncanny, tinged at times with morbidity green of carpet, upholstery, and tapes -she had seized upon this broken reed try, the sunlit yellow of the walls, and not only as an issue upon which to the thrilling rays of light falling through attach the surplus energy of her abounddouble curtains of violet, green, and red, ing mentality, but as a deed of patriotic had combined in the creation of the emprise-damming the strong wayward most inspiring atmosphere imaginable. currents of decadent nature and divertCertainly the normal drab of London ing them into channels of normality; had no place here.
she would—to change the metaphor “Splendid.” I glanced about smil take worthless clay and re-mold it and ing. "One expands here; one certainly give to her country, wound up and does—.”
ready to go, a heroic automaton. “You feel it, Leslie?"
That she had done this I had not “Feel it! I want to go right out and the slightest doubt; her serene belief in push a bridge over.
I her work, her ineffable confidence, would suppose--"
have submerged misgiving, even were “Eric Jermyn's,” she said, simply. there not the memory of Jermyn's hec“Eh?" I regarded her dazedly. tic mood of exaltation. “Why, Leslie,” she rejoined, "don't Later, when Jermyn rejoined us, there Vol. CXXXVI.--No. 816.—105
came a sudden, utterly startling thought ing them in a watery nimbus. Only corthat Sybil was not coming through this ner street-lamps were lighted; beneath mess untouched. Something in his at them lay glowing pools. Pedestrians, titude-a pettish, exacting, manner their figures blurred and distorted, hurwhich no other man had ever held tow ried by with heads bent before the drivard this ebullient, brilliant young wom ing rain. an—and her uncharacteristic and, yes, It was an evening meet for the advent unwholesome acceptance of it, gave me of terror—and terror I suppose there the idea.
was in the hearts of those whom long I took it away with me to the club, experience had not rendered immune where I found it amply confirmed. No from the keener dread of air attack, scandal, not a breath of it; and yet even though the elemental conditions one would have had to be stupid indeed so grisly and uncanny in all their maninot to have caught hints of those omi festations bespoke a safety which the nous clouds on the horizon of things, starlit skies would not have vouchsafed. clouds whose rising and eventual pre- Probably the early beauty of the day cipitation would surely and inevitably had tempted raiders forth, and even now sweep the world-Sybil's wonderful there was no fog, merely a mist which world-bare of her. She had changed, no doubt tended greatly to accentuate undoubtedly; so ran the veiled com and magnify every random light. ment. Professionally and in many There had appeared in the newspapers more subtle ways—as though the mias of the preceding day or so despatches mic introspectiveness of Jermyn's per- vaguely warning from the Admiralty, sonality had invested her-she was not per the Wireless Press, and the late herself.
evening editions this night had spoken Was it love! There were those who of hostile aircraft as sighted along the would have it so. Others who cared coast of Essex, Suffolk, and Kent. most for her shrugged, and, with the There was the rumor of a Zeppelin shot mien of persons selecting the least of down in the Thames Estuary. evils, hoped that it might be so. Per The club hummed with it, and while sonally, I had not the slightest doubt: the time had gone by when such visitaSybil had played once too often with tion excited anything more than extreme fantasy, and now all the deeper emo irritability, there was, nevertheless, gentions of an emotional nature were hope- eral satisfaction that nature had conlessly, helplessly involved in the per- spired to deprive the Huns of the full sonality of a man who cared for nothing moon that the calendar had promised, at all but himself.
if not to defeat their murderous plans
altogether. As I sit writing now in a little room Sybil had me on the telephone from at Field Headquarters in Flanders, with the theater, inquiring as to further news a winter gale shrieking over a desolate of the raiders. Her manner seemed area of frozen mud, I am the more rather tense for a young woman whose thoroughly convinced that, whether four coolness in an attack the preceding weeks or four decades as an inhabitant month had averted a panic and kept of this grim earth have been allotted the audience in their seats while the me, Sybil Dauriac's after-theater supper play went on. will survive always with extraordinary "Oh, I'm not worrying," she exdistinctness.
claimed, laughing, as I proceeded to supI recall the beauty of the day-Aeet- plement my avowed inability to give ing beauty; it endured perhaps until her information with a reassuring word. noon, when the ardor began to fade “It isn't that, don't you know. . . . It from the impeccable heavens and a chill is only that it fits so beautifully into the wind and drizzling rain blotted out the effect of the supper. ... I had been glory of the blithe May season. Dinner- worrying about the atmosphere; an hour saw the city a vague domain of atmosphere of a certain sort--you'll dripping unreality. Taxicabs drifted understand when you see.” hither and thither, their lamps invest I knew I would, of course, marveling,
however, at a sense of detail so rigid “My word!” he wheezed, “that girl that a threatened air raid would be wel- doesn't do things half-way-what?" comed as playing into her mise en scène. Learoyd, the journalist, who had And yet it was not uncharacteristic. worked up to the second flight, called If the complete success of this function some laughing reference to the anomademanded Aames, I had no doubt Sybillous circumstance of a girl so popular would joyously set fire to her house. as Sybil Dauriac establishing a No
I spoke of it to Sir Derric Cecil, one Man's Land in her own house. of the secretaries at the War Office, as It was all very jolly, the barbed wire we taxied to Portland Place through being filled with arriving guests, while the rain. He diagnosed the idea with from the third-floor landing came gloomy perspicuity.
striking reproduction of machine-gun “Sybil was looking for something ad reports. ditional in the way of a Rembrandt We reached the top without casualties effect designed to throw the stature of and entered the apartment which, imher hero into stronger relief.”
provised as a dugout, was quite the best I didn't reply, my thoughts wandering thing that Sybil Dauriac had ever done. to Jermyn, whose snake-like twinings It was very like. The great attic room about the mind and personality of Sybil had been given over to the Savoy Dauriac had become only too apparent stage-carpenters and artists, who had after my seven days in London to be converted it beyond flaw into a segmisunderstood.
ment of France. The mud and sand“And we are to supply the applause,” bags were painted on canvas, but there added Cecil.
were real posts, real ladders, real straw“And lend your influence?" I sug everything, in fact, but rats. The table gested. “You really think Jermyn was of plain pine, and candles flickered wants another opportunity?”
from candelabra of bayonets supporting “Wants it!” The man eyed me trench bombs. scornfully. "You've talked to him. Sybil, in a night-blue and silver gown Can you doubt it? He'll spring to his with silver-lace cap and black aigrette, chance like a fanatic. And he'll have her dark eyes snapping excitedly, would it-his chance, I mean. To-night's af- have none of our congratulations. fair will give him a sanction that it 'll “It was all Eric Jermyn,” she exbe silly for the War Office to ignore. claimed, repeatedly. “His idea, really There's been too much noise over noth —and, of course, he put it into effect. ing already. He'll go back to the front The poor boy worked himself half sick and live or die a hero; you'll see." over it, you've no idea." When I came
But I was not so certain. “If Sybil up she turned to me, whispering, “Now, could go with him," I began. But Leslie, you can see how apropos an air Cecil most manifestly had withdrawn raid would be.” his mind.
I could, indeed, and said so. For Neither of us spoke again until we that matter, the entire atmosphere of reached Portland Place. There were the city was already palpable in its two men at the door in soldier garb, tenseness. Several times in the course trench helmets, muddy uniforms, and of the evening there had been alarms, equipment complete. They saluted, with the usual association of eventsand the butler, in the dress of a French police motors scurrying forth bearing peasant, ushered us into a hallway which their “take cover" signs; the tube had been transformed into a small grove. stations alternately filled and emptied “The dugout,” he said, “is on the by rich and poor seeking shelter in a
common, congested herd; in short, all Dugout!" Cecil chuckled. “This is the sights and sounds of a civilized
community suddenly called upon to We overtook old Lord Hardigan, the face the last resort of murderous human banker, making his way gingerly up the passion. stairs through a maze of barbed-wire Yet it bespeaks the potency of habit entanglement.
that Sybil Dauriac's party, with only
a thin roof above us-upon which the light—the protagonist. His eyes burnrain drummed incessantly—should have ing with unnatural fire, his black hair been no less care-free and enjoyable than straggling over his narrow forehead, he had it been a house in New York or some was here, there, everywhere, tossing his other city remote from the attacks of greetings in careless, throaty nonchaZeppelins and airplanes.
lance, patronizing, defiant, fawning, The company was rather a mixture, boastful, as his kaleidoscopic succession and yet interesting inasmuch as it re
of moods dictated. flected the skill of Sybil's campaign, as Yet there was something fascinating well as the wide range of her popularity. about the man, the sort of fascination There were two or three members of an actor asserts who is bearing his part her company, including the beautiful with realistic artistry. At least that is Irene Stoutenburgh, and Gladwin, the the way it appealed to me. There were leading man. There was Tom Yorke, present who were indubitably the stage - manager, and there were heroes, as the world esteems a hero, and Basil Sides, the barrister, and his wife; yet in his presence they all, every one, the Honorable Ermentrude; Farrel, seemed to lose stature and become ordithe novelist; Sir Albert Leach, of the nary. Such a shrinking one never saw. Home Office-a very influential per- Sybil, radiant with success, took his sonage; General Cavendish, a War arm as a bugle blew the mess call and Office bigwig; Colonel Sellewe, of the delivered him over to Lady Jane Ketarmy, and a sprinkling of other people chell-a powerful woman whom many important in their various social, offi in official life feared to the extent of cial, or professional spheres.
servile flattery. Whereupon, with much It was, I suppose, the greatest tacti- laughter and gaiety we moved to the cal triumph Sybil Dauriac had ever table. scored. Here, through her sheer dy Jermyn, his eyes glittering, raised a namic, indomitable personality, she had glass of sherry. "To the assassin gods gathered from circles-several of them of the air-and our breasts bared in impenetrably exclusive-men and wom defiance,” he declaimed. en who in many cases could singly wield “To the gods of the air!" We drank heavy influence, who together formed a standing, but before we could take our totality of weight that was altogether seats or even replace our glasses the compelling. The impressiveness of the faint booming of guns came from out achievement was heightened by the the silent city. puerile purpose underlying it. For, Several of us moved to a window after all, in this age of sterling man giving to the eastward. A changing hood what boots the making or unmak wind was rending the clouds, and from ing of one individual poltroon?
behind one great mass appeared the Yet, again, I-and I suppose all of shoulder of the moon foreing its way us-could catch Sybil's viewpoint, which, upward toward a broad gap of velvet of course, was the eternal feminine point blue. And on the horizon we could see of view, and loving her and admiring her the questing arms of searchlights. as we did we tried to share it-even “It was evidently no false alarm, Derric Cecil, who certainly had every after all," said Learoyd. “You should reason to be rebellious, since his pre have selected the cellar, Miss Dauriac." tensions regarding her had every sanc Jermyn's jaunty laughter and detion until she had developed the Jermyn clamatory, voice drowned her reply. incubus.
“There is,” he said, "a most comfortable But Sybil notwithstanding, it was dif- sitting-room in the basement, safe beficult; it would have been so in any case, yond measure, for those who find the but with Jermyn seizing upon the oc heights venturesome." casion as a long-delayed but none the Learoyd flushed and took his seat less gratifying personal tribute, it was next to Irene Stoutenburgh, who was infinitely more trying. While Sybil smiling doubtfully. stood back he became the genius of the “At all events,” she said, "I shall show scene, the ruling spirit, the guiding no fear. Since the raids began I have