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THE JUDGMENT OF CHARTS
MRS. BAILLIE REYNOLDS



UNIT. Of CALIF. LIBRARY. LOS ANG



BY MRS. BAILLIE REYNOLDS

THE JUDGMENT OF CHAR1S
ALSO RAN

"OPEN, SESAME!"
THE KING'S WIDOW
THE LONELY STRONGHOLD
A CASTLE TO LET
THE DAUGHTER PAYS
THE COST OF A PROMISE
A DOUBTFUL CHARACTER
A MAKE-SHIFT MARRIAGE
OUT OF THE NIGHT
GIRL FROM NOWHERE
THE NOTORIOUS MISS LISLE

NEW YORK
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



THE JUDGMENT
OF CHARIS



BY



MRS. BAILLIE REYNOLDS

AUTHOR OF "THE KING'S WIDOW," "THE DAUGHTER
PAYS," "THE LONELY STRONGHOLD,"

"A CASTLE TO LET," ETC.




NEW XBJr YORK
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



COPYRIGHT, 1922,
BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



THE JUDGMENT OF CHARIS. I



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAG*

I Lady Portwine's Lap-Dog . r. . 9

II Founding a Friendship 2O

III The Cranstoun-Browns at Home ... 28

IV A Curious Request 37

V Who is Miss Garth? 46

VI New Impressions : . 52

VII George Strachan's Heirs 60

VIII The Dinner-Party 68

IX An Exciting Scheme 80

X Comparing Notes 92

XI Colonel Morrison Wonders .... 98

XII InTeesdale . 107

XIII Changing Partners I2O

XIV Phyllis and Finance . . . . . . . 130

XV A Near Shave 140

XVI Gilbert Commits Himself 152

XVII Lord Clement Butts In ..... 159

XVIII The Misty Mountain-Top .... 167

XIX Lost! Lost! Lost! 177

XX Bid Me Good-Bye 189



2132280



VI



Contents



CHAPTM PAGB

XXI Phyllis Explains . 198

XXII Charis Rejected . . r . . . . 208

XXIII Strachan's Displeasure 213

XXIV Charis Cuts the Knot 222

XXV Exit Miss Garth 233

XXVI Bertalda's Accident 244

XXVII Altered Circumstances 250

XXVIII A Confession 262

XXIX The Judge is Judged 273

XXX Strachan's Suggestion 283

XXXI Dreams; and the Awakening . . r . 292



THE JUDGMENT
OF CHARIS

CHAPTER I

LADY PORTWINE'S LAP-DOG

AS the lift shot noiselessly down to the ground-
floor of the Tuscany Hotel, a middle-aged man
stepped out of it and walked towards the entrance
lounge.

He was well dressed, but had the air of one who
has known hard work and discipline. His face was
rather a fine one, oval in shape, dark in complexion.
His iron-grey hair gave a touch of distinction to his
clean-cut features, and to the lines upon his counte-
nance, graven there by some deep-lying trouble.

Beckoning one of the page-boys, he bade him
watch for the arrival of an elderly lady and gentle-
man of the name of Cranstoun-Brown, and to con-
duct them to him in the drawing-room. The voice
in which the order was given was pleasant, but car-
ried the hint of an accent.

As he turned away to go to the drawing-room, a
newsboy came through the swing-door. Summon-

9



10 The Judgment of Charis

ing him, the gentleman bought a Spectator and
turned aside to glance at it, seating himself upon one
of the couches which stood about.

A large, important-looking female was descend-
ing the main staircase. She was accompanied by a
small Pekingese dog upon a lead, which lead termi-
nated in a bracelet secured to the owner's wrist.

Swiftly behind her came a thin, active girl who
carried an attache case, and ran downstairs as though
she had a train to catch. Coming within sight of the
hall clock, she hastened yet the more, seeing neither
the plethoric little dog nor the link between him and
the ponderous lady. She caught her foot, there was
a mingled cry, yelp and shriek, and the girl fell the
whole length of the stairs, alighting almost at the
feet of the man with the Spectator.

He was prompt in hurrying to the rescue. The
hall became full of excited people running about.
The bulky owner of the dog had most wisely seated
herself when the shock came. Its impact broke her
bracelet, and the little cur was hurled, like the girl,
to the bottom of the stairs. Lady Portwine made
such outcry that at first she was thought to be her-
self injured. Moreover, she was covered with furs
and diamonds, and looked important. The girl was
evidently nobody. She wore a blue serge suit and
a little hat to match.

For obvious reasons, therefore, more than one
voice was heard indignantly to declare that the acci-
dent had been the girl's fault entirely. The man
with the iron-grey hair had meanwhile lifted her



Lady Portwine's Lap-Dog II

carefully from the ground. She was not uncon-
scious, but breathless and bewildered.

"Oh !" she cried, as he placed her upon the lounge.
"What on earth have I done? What happened?"

"Never mind," said the kind voice with the accent.
"What matters is the extent of your hurt. May I
take off your hat?"

He did so, deftly. The clerk, who had left his
desk to investigate the affair, seeing that she was
sitting up and speaking, turned to the more impor-
tant matter of Lady Portwine's outraged feelings
and the extent of her pedigree dog's injuries. She
and Sir Jacob had occupied an expensive suite at
the Tuscany ever since their phenomenal rise of for-
tune owing to a deal with the Government in South
American carcasses during the war. She was ob-
viously to be conciliated; and for some minutes
George Strachan had the monopoly of the person
who was really hurt.

The girl was trying to laugh, though shivering
and gasping. The hat had saved her head from
anything worse than a purple bump which was
rapidly rising under the loose rings of shining hair
upon her forehead. But when she attempted to raise
her arms in the instinctive feminine desire to arrange
her head-gear, she uttered a cry of pain.

"My arm!" she muttered, "my left arm! I'm
afraid it's sprained, or something. How perfectly
sickening! I'm a typist, as it happens, and I have
to type a dozen folios by four o'clock."

Strachan was interested. There was a spon-



12 The Judgment of Charis

taneity about that phrase, "How perfectly sicken-
ing!" which enlisted his sympathy.

"Most annoying," said he. "You certainly can't
use that arm. Look how your wrist is swelling ! I
had better take you to a doctor and get it bound
up."

Her lips twisted a little as she nursed the injured
limb.

"Don't you trouble," said she, between half-shut
teeth. "Not so bad as a leg would have been. I
can walk in a minute. Then I'll go and . . . find
a doctor."

"No such thing," said he, with kind authority.
"Certain to be a doctor somewhere about in this
hotel. Lie back a while and get your breath while
I say a word to the authorities."

The management, convinced of two things first
that the girl was really hurt, and next that Mr.
Strachan was showing interest in her case became
suddenly attentive. She was taken into a private
room, a glass of water was brought, and the doctor,
who had already rendered first aid to Fido, discov-
ered that he was at leisure to attend to her wrist.
While he was doing this, Mr. Strachan was advised
of the arrival of his guests, and went out into the
hall to receive them.

Strachan had been looking forward to this meet-
ing with almost painful expectation. His immediate
feeling was disappointment. He saw a stout, elderly
couple, elaborately got up for the occasion. The
lady was large. She wore purple silk and expensive



Lady Portwine's Lap-Dog 13

furs. She had small eyes and a heavy jowl. Her
husband beside her conveyed the impression of being
almost as unimportant as the male spider is in com-
parison with the female. He seemed sheltering be-
hind the expansiveness with which his wife grasped
her cousin's hand in two fat yellow-gloved paws.

"Why, George George Strachan! After all
these years! Back in England! We could hardly
believe it when we got your letter could we, Pa?
Well, what a pleasure! Have you come home to
stay?"

Strachan's soft dark eyes were wistful as he con-
templated his cousin Clara. It could be seen that
he was anxious to like his kinswoman to think well
of her if he could.

"I can't answer your question yet," he said gravely.
"The old country has changed since I left it one
has dropped out "

"Of course," stammered Mr. Cranstoun-Brown
solicitously, "we realise how the painful circum-
stances must must we understand full well that
such bereavement "

George Strachan could not bear so heavy a touch
upon wounds as yet but half healed. His brow con-
tracted, but he replied quite pleasantly:

"We can talk of such things by and by. Just now
I want to ask if you will mind waiting five minutes
or so before sitting down to lunch? There has just
been an accident here a young lady fell downstairs
over the string of one of those detestable little
lap-curs and has hurt herself a good deal. I want



14 The Judgment of Charis

to persuade her, as soon as she feels well enough, to
come and eat something with us."

"A young lady!" cried Clara Brown, in a tone
which Strachan found distasteful. Cranstoun-Brown
was wiser than his wife perhaps merely because he
was kinder.

"Fell down these stairs, you say?" he echoed,
with some assumption of interest "A pretty severe
fall, that. Who is she?"

"That I don't know, as yet," was the reply, "ex-
cept that her name is Garth and she is a professional
typist. If you and Clara will excuse me a moment,
I will go and see what the doctor thinks of her."

He saw them comfortably seated and went back
to the room he had left.

The doctor had finished his work and departed.
The girl was lying back in a large chair which she
did not nearly fill. Her face was wan and her eyes
closed; but at sound of the opening door she un-
closed them and summoned a smile, which struck him
as infinitely pathetic. He found her extraordinarily
attractive, though he could hardly say that she was
pretty. Her skin was fine, her features, though not
regular, were delicately cut, and her mouth was much
tucked in at the corners, disclosing dear little teeth
when her smile broke out. She was entirely free
from affectation, and answered his questions nat-
urally.

"Well," said he presently, "I guess you feel ready
for a mouthful of lunch?"

"Thanks. I'll go over the road to a teashop in a



Lady Portwine's Lap-Dog 15

minute or two. I have to find a friend to do my work
for me."

"Leave that to me. I will send your notes to be
copied, while you are having lunch here."

She smiled. "You are most kind, but that's pre-
posterous. I should need to have my lunch cut up
for me."

"I shall be here to cut it up," said Strachan
simply.

She laughed. "A bun doesn't need cutting up.
Do you think I usually lunch on rump steak?"

"You don't look like it, but I have no idea what
people eat in England since the war. I've only been
back a week from Canada."

"Canada!" she cried, on a note almost of tri-
umph, adding, as he looked interrogative, "I knew
you were different, somehow."

"Different?"

As she opened her mouth to reply, the door
opened and a young woman in a very smart black
silk frock sailed in. She glanced from the lady's
bandaged wrist to the gentleman as if puzzled, but
concluded that she had better deliver her message.

"Lady Portwine wishes me to ask how the the
young person is, and to tell her that Her Ladyship
does not intend to to take any steps any proceed-
ings, I should say."

Strachan was watching the little face whose out-
line gleamed so purely against the dim velvet back-
ground of the easy chair. He marked how the
dimples quivered about the corners of the tucked-in



16 The Judgment of Charis

mouth. The airs and graces of the lady's maid were
evidently almost too much for Miss Garth's self-
control. He turned to the waiting messenger.

"Do I gather that Lady Portwine maintains that
the accident was er this young lady's fault?"

The maid looked taken aback. "She was running
downstairs at a great rate," she murmured.

"On the other hand," went on Mr. Strachan, "it
is not a wise thing to walk up and down a public
staircase with a very small animal on a lead. Miss
Garth has been hurt, and her injuries will interfere
with her professional duties. I witnessed the acci-
dent, and I do not think the courts would hold Miss
Garth to have been in fault."

The maid's expression revealed that the same idea
had been put before Her Ladyship.

"Do I understand that the young lady thinks
she has any cause for complaint, sir?"

Perhaps it was the highly effective pause before
the maid brought out the word "lady" which caused
Miss Garth to break into laughter.

"Of course not. It was half my fault," she said
impetuously, and added mischievously, "I hope the
little rat was not hurt."

"You are the only person who was hurt, I con-
jecture," said Strachan. To his sensitive perceptions
the girl's demeanour suggested that she herself had
been used to command the services of a maid, and
that the attitude of this one tickled her hugely. A
pang of sympathy shot through him. Was this a



Lady Portwine's Lap-Dog 17

specimen of what Punch laughingly refers to as "the
new poor"?

Evidently the maid was a little alarmed by the
impressive manner of Strachan's declaration that
he had been a witness of the accident. She lost some
of her arrogance, and stammered out that she was
bidden to say that Her Ladyship would like to com-
pensate the young lady for her loss of time and
the doctor's services.

At this, Miss Garth, with a muttered exclama-
tion of "What cheek!" came to her feet. Mr.
Strachan, without hesitation, stepped in front of
her.

"Miss Garth's hand is so injured that she cannot
use a typewriter, and so is unable to execute the com-
mission on which she was engaged when she fell
downstairs. She must pay a substitute to do her
work "

The maid promptly produced some Treasury
notes, and having thrust them into his hand, mut-
tered that she would report to Her Ladyship that
the young er lady was satisfied, and hurried out
of the room. Strachan was conscious that a very
irate young woman was standing just behind him.

"Well, upon my word," she began indignantly,
but burst once more into laughter as he turned and
faced her with an irresistible twist of the mouth.

"I take too much upon myself, you were about to
say. That's nonsense. Am I wrong in concluding
that you work for your living?"

"Certainly I work for my living."



1 8 The Judgment of Charis

"Then you can't afford to lose work?"
"N no."

"Why shouldn't this woman, bursting with money
to waste on lap-dogs and kindred follies, help you
when, partly at least by her fault, you have been
crippled? I suppose you know that hand won't be
serviceable for some while yet?"

She admitted it grudgingly.

"Yet you are too proud to accept this little bit
of compensation?"

His voice and manner as he handed over the
money made it impossible to take offence. He had
a hint of the American "vurry," and for "can't" he
said neither "carn't" nor "can't," but "caan't,"
which was somehow fascinating.

"And now for lunch," he went on calmly, having
silenced her objections. "I have a most efficient
chaperon outside there in the hall, and I hope you'll
honour me by being my guest. Where are those
documents of yours ? While we eat, I'll send a mes-
senger to the nearest bureau to get them done."

"You are the most domineering person," she
smiled, her lovely eyes full of gratitude, "but indeed
I can't. I don't feel anything like well enough to
lunch in a restaurant. I must have a taxi and go
home. Please find me one, and I'll depart, blessing
your name which I don't know."

"It's Strachan," he answered, "George Strachan.
I guess I'll have to let you take your way. Sit down
there, and I'll find a taxi and call you." Cutting
short her protestations, he shut the door upon her



Lady Portwine's Lap-Dog 19

and went up to his two lunchless relatives, seated in
the drawing-room.

"Clara," said he, "I want that you and Joe should
go right into the restaurant and begin your lunch.
That girl's not fit to go home alone, and I must take
her. Follow me I'll give you in charge of one of
the best waiters in London, and I'll be with you
again before you've got to the joint."

Disregarding their protests and suggestions, he
swept them both off, saw them comfortably settled
at the reserved table, and hastened back to his
charge.



CHAPTER II

FOUNDING A FRIENDSHIP

WHEN Clara Strachan, a not uncomely and
extremely masterful young woman, married
Joe Brown, it had been for the quite simple reason
that, so far as she could see, it was a case of Joe
or nobody. In one respect she had made a wise
choice, for the little man was not without commer-
cial aptitude. Although his business was a very
small affair, he prospered mildly, and the years of
the war had rendered him more definitely pros-
perous.

His increased profits in no wise represented
wealth; but he had taken a roomy house in the suburb
of Streatwood, and had ceased to be "J ose P n C.
Brown" on his visiting cards, and become "J. Cran-
stoun-Brown."

The pair had three children, a son and two daugh-
ters; and the return from Canada of their cousin,
George Strachan, was full of interest to them; for
in his case no qualification was required when you
called him a rich man. He was a millionaire, and
the war had left him quite alone in the world.

Seven years before they had written sympathetic-
ally to condole with him on the tragic death of his
wife and daughter in a sleigh accident. His son was

20



Founding a Friendship 21

left to be his comfort and companion; but Captain
Ronald Strachan had fallen in the hour of triumph
in the final victorious advance of the Allies, a
month before the armistice.

The visit to England of the childless widower
might be fraught with most important consequences
to the house of Cranstoun-Brown. Seated at table
and plied with hors d'ceuvres, the pair considered
the situation.

The side-whiskers which adorned Joseph's round t
good-tempered face made him look out of date. He
had a habit of intently perusing his wife's features
and expression actually with the object of ascer-
taining the state of her temper, but apparently in
ever-fresh wonder as to what he had been thinking
about when he allowed her to appropriate him.

Time had treated Clara unkindly. Her square
jaw, now that she was stout, had developed into a
forbidding jowl; and her fleshy cheeks made her
small eyes recede into her head, and produced an
expression of cunning which was not really deserved.
She was a good wife and mother according to her
lights, and her ambitions were centred upon the
future of her children.

"How long is it since George landed?" she in-
quired of her husband.

"Let me see, we had his letter on the Tuesday,
I think yes, Tuesday it was, for I remember I had
to go over that day to see Bates in Tokenhouse
Yard "

"Yes, yes, and to-day is Monday." The prattling



22 The Judgment of Charis

reminiscence on his side, the ruthless interruption,
on hers, were both characteristic. "A bare week,"
she reflected, "and already he has struck up a friend-
ship with a girl. Picked her up here in the hotel,
do you suppose ?"

"Oh, my dear," in a shocked manner, "I conclude
he knew her in Canada his wife must have known
her in Canada "

"Joseph,, don't be a fool. He says she is a typist."

"Yes, yes, quite so; but for all that she might
have known him formerly in better days," his voice
trailed off and grew vague as his wife snorted. Her
only son had now for some years been marriageable,
and she nursed a deep suspicion of all young ladies
without means.

"What you and I have to consider is not George's
morals, but our children's future," she remarked.
"If he has made a protegee of some girl, well, it
can't be helped. But we may be able to prevent
his marrying again."

"I don't see what difference that would make,"
said Joseph simply but sensibly. "There's no settled
property. He can leave his money to anybody
wife or no wife."

"I think we may venture to suppose that as yet he
has made no will. I am convinced that he has taken
this journey to England to get into touch with his
family." She heaved a big sigh. "What a merciful
thing for us that poor Emily has no children."

" 'M, wonderful that is, Nicholson being a parson
and all. They might have had nine or ten it was



Founding a Friendship 23

to be expected whereas our three have practically
a clear field."

There was a moment's silence while both parental
minds made excursions into the future of Gilbert,
Phyllis, and Veronica.

"You didn't catch sight of her, did you?" asked
Clara presently. "George is fairly simple, or seems
so and the lady typewriter is a useful pose."

"George's simplicity," said Mr. Brown, who was
becoming mellowed by his excellent lunch, "has
taken him far, financially."

"Which doesn't prove that he knows anything at
all about women," snapped the lady promptly.

Meanwhile, Miss Garth found herself she
hardly knew how seated in a taxi-cab with Mr.
Strachan at her side.

"This is all wrong," she said, in earnest protest.
"You have left guests for me a stranger! What
will they think?"

He was evidently surprised. "Why, isn't it the
natural thing to do? You look pretty white, and
I couldn't let you go drifting off alone you might
never have reached home." He was musing upon
the address she had given him that of the Trenby
Hostel, a big residential club for young gentlewomen
who worked professionally. He knew little of such
places, but concluded that it could not be the girl's
own home. "Have you no home of your own?" he
asked compassionately.

"No home available," was her swift reply, accom-



24 The Judgment of Charis

panied by so hot a blush that he felt there must
be something painful in her mind in this connection.
Her voice repelled further questioning he was
sensitive to tones.

"Will you find anybody in this hostel place able
to look after you?" he ventured in a dissatisfied
voice.

She laughed reassuringly. "Why, of course. We
all look after each other there. We are a jolly lot,
and Miss Kay, the Head, is no end good to us. We
are allowed to invite our friends both sexes to
come and see us. Will you come to tea one day if I
invite you?" she asked, as it were experimentally.

He returned her look with those serious eyes,
whose youth and darkness made pleasant contrast
with his brown, lined face and iron-grey hair. "If
you are inviting me in the way young ladies do
broadcast, meaning nothing you are making a mis-
take. I mean to come, and I would like you to fix
a day."

She was perhaps a trifle hustled by this prompti-
tude; but the tranquillity of his demeanour reassured
her. He was or seemed completely unconscious
of doing anything that was not perfectly normal.

"I did mean it," she said intrepidly. "Will you
come next Monday?"

"Thank you. I shall not forget. But I must do
myself the honour of making inquiries earlier than
that, and if I do not presume I should like to urge
you to go to bed the moment you arrive. These
accidents have a curiously unexpected effect some-



Founding a Friendship 25

times, in the way of a shock to the system, not at
first recognised. I hope you will not suffer in that
way. Your arm will probably require massage. My
own wife once sprained her wrist, skating, and in her
case massage reduced the swelling and made the
wrist supple in a very short time." After a pause
he added, "If my daughter had lived, she would
have been just about your age."

Miss Garth was completely reassured. Mr.
Strachan's wife was now in all probability lunching
with the abandoned guests at the Tuscany. "You
have lost your daughter," she murmured impulsively.
"I may say I am sorry for you, may I not?"

"I want you to be sorry for me," was the de-
liberate answer. "That is why I told you. I lost
the girlie and her mother on the same day. Since
then, the war has taken away my only son. I am
quite alone in the world. I hope you pity me."

"Pity you? ... It must be hard to go on living
after such bludgeonings of fate. I can't think how
you bear it!"

"I don't very well know myself," was his answer,
patient with a dreariness which sounded as if within
measurable distance of despair. "But if it is any
comfort to you to know it, you have helped me a bit
to-day. For my lost girl's sake I want to be good to
all girls, but especially to those engaged in that fight
with the world which we call earning a living. I
would not thrust my private affairs on you at such
short notice, but I wanted you to know what a



26 The Judgment of Charis

paternal heart I have, deprived of all chance to do
any fathering any more."

Out of the sympathetic silence her sweet voice
came timidly at last.

"Mr. and Mrs. Brown your cousins they have
children, I suppose?"

He smiled a little. "They have. But, conversely,
their children have Mr. and Mrs. Brown. It is


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