never before met one."
In answer to Cuckoo's surprise she added, with a smile
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
of peculiar beauty, "Indeed, Sair Peregrine is the only
English person I have ever known.
When Cuckoo and Janeways again stood outside the
high garden wall, he asked her if she had enjoyed her
"I don't like the the feel of a convent," she returned.
"It seemed to be going to take my breath away. But I
liked her. She is beautiful."
"Yes. She was always nearly an angel. I once very
nearly fell in love with her, we are just of an age, and
did I ever tell you," he broke off, "the story of an old
jewel of mine, called the Bag of Saffron?"
She shook her head. "No."
He smiled down at her. "I'll tell it to you. Let's
sit on that bench outside the church, and I'll tell you.
Conte" he added with sudden sadness, "d'un grandpere."
They sat down on the bench, and taking off his hat and
leaning his head against the dingy wall of the church, he
told his story.
"Once upon a time," he began, "there lived in Genoa,
by the sea, an old man who had only one son ;
Below them stretched the rough street, which, running
between high walls, was almost like a village street, and
beyond the houses at its foot they could see miles of roofs
and a vast pale sky out of which dripped unevenly the
golden light that so delicately painted the irregular gabled
roofs and the glittering curve that was the river.
" So the son, whose name has been forgotten," the
story went on, "took his bundle and three pieces of gold,
like the youths in all the fairy-tales, and crossed the sea,
leaving the sun behind him, and came to a chilly, gray
island where reigned an old king who wore a red rose in
"The young man, who as you know was a goldsmith,
went to a great maker of jewels in the king's town and
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
showed him his work, and the old man said, 'By my soul,
young stranger, your work is finer than mine. Who are
you, and whence come you?' Are you listening, Mrs.
Cuckoo started. "I am."
"Good. So the young man said in Italian, 'Son pel-
ligrino Genovese,' which means, 'I am a Genoese pilgrim.' '
"Now the old goldsmith could not speak Italian, so
when he tried to say 'pelligrino Genovese,' he said 'pelli-
grin Janeways' "
"Oh!" Cuckoo turned, her face flashing with interest,
"I see. That's "
"Yes, that's the origin of my name. From Pelligrin
it naturally evolved into Peregrine, and ever since the
eldest son of my people has been called Peregrine."
"But who was the old king with the red rose in his
"The good King Henry VII. But I really want to
tell you the story of the Bag of Saffron. You are not
tired of it, are you? There is an old Ligurian legend
about saffron, it was said to harm those in whom lay the
germ of illness, mental or physical, but to a sound person
it was believed to give strength, and a continuance and
perfection of his or her goodness. Therefore it follows
that it should be worn only by a man who is brave or a
woman who is good. Do you see?"
"Yes. Then you think valor in a man and goodness
in a woman are equally necessary things?"
Janeways looked gravely out over the widespread scene
before them, the afternoon light turning his eyes to little
pools of gold. "Of course," he said, simply, "a man who
is not brave is surely as horrible as a woman who isn't
There was a pause, and then Cuckoo went on slowly,
urged by a strong wish to know what he thought, "But -
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
surely you yourself have not you have not done much
to help women be good?"
He did not move, and she saw that he was frowning,
not so much angrily as thoughtfully. "I know what you
mean, of course," he answered at length, "but you see,
you don't exactly see what I mean by goodness."
"It is obvious that I don't. Won't you tell me?"
He took her hand and kissed it gently. "My dear,"
he said, "I am an old man and I love women all of them.
I have known a few good ones, but by good I mean some-
thing I can't quite explain. Only one thing is really ex-
pressible. I mean by the word good something much more
than mere physical virtue. I mean, possibly chiefly, kind-
ness of mind as well as kindness of heart ; and I mean fair-
ness of vision; and forgivingness ah, I mean many
"But to get back to my story. That first Peregrine
Janeways fell in love one day with a girl who was the
daughter of a neighbor of his master. And the girl I
hope her name was Mary seemed to him so good, so
perfect, that he set his mind to finding some gift he could
"According to his Ligurian legend, saffron was the best
of gifts, and saffron he would give the maid he loved. So
he bought gold and wrought a little bag, and in the mesh
he wove topazes probably because they were cheap
and he walked to a garden in the country and picked
saffron leaves, and put them into the bag and gave it to
his sweetheart "
"And the bag now hangs on a beautiful diamond chain
and you own it, and I have had it in my hands !"
At Cuckoo's words he turned and stared at her in ludi-
"What do you mean?" he cried.
And she told him Tier story: of the day her uncle had
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
bought her a string of pearls, and how the salesman had
showed them the odd jewel. When he had expressed his
amazement at the curious hazard, he told the rest of the
"It was my great, great grandmother, also, curiously
enough, a Genoese, who revived our interest in the little
bag, and her husband had the chain made for it. It's a
funny little thing, isn't it?"
"It's delightful. But who wears it, and what did you
mean about Sister Marie Seraphine?"
There was a little pause, and then he answered both
"Each Janeways each eldest son gives it during his
life to some woman. But never, no matter what happens,
to more than one. So you see one must be pretty sure
about the one woman, and about one's own feelings about
her. I was perfectly sure that Marie Aumonier was the
best woman I had ever met or ever should meet. It was
only of myself that I was not sure."
"That, of course," Cuckoo said very softly, "was why
she went into the convent?"
"Yes. She told me years after. It's so long ago now
that it's like talking of some other man she did love
me, and she knew that I was not sure, so she engaged
herself to poor Xavier and then, at the last minute "
"She could not marry him and became a nun."
After a time Janeways spoke again. "My mother was
the last woman round whose neck that chain has hung,
and I have no son. When I die I shall have the bag
not the chain buried with me."
Then he rose, gave himself a shake and laughed. "So
there is the history of the Bag of Saffron! Come, Mrs.
Loxley by the way, what is your name? It can't be
"Nicoleta. I have Italian blood, too."
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
"Good. I thought you had. Come, then, Madame
Nicoleta, let us get back to our coach "
Cuckoo did not ask herself why she had not told him
who she was, even that Loxley and not Locksley, as he
had assumed, was her name. He had sent her flowers
addressed to Mrs. Locksley, and thus she knew why he
did not associate her with his old acquaintance, the Vicar
of Widdybank; and there seemed to her to lie in her in-
cognito a safeguard against some as yet undeclared
That evening she wrote to George, telling him simply
that she was visiting the Countess, who was an old friend
of Lady Pelter's, and that she had met Sir Peregrine
Janeways. "He is," she added, "a charming old
MARGUERITE LENSKY was a very nice woman
in many ways, and despite her little external
vulgarities, she had what Cuckoo in self-com-
munion called a very decent mind. She had the delicacy
of not asking questions, and it was her stopping teasing
her young guest about Sir Peregrine Janeways' attentions
that first opened Cuckoo's eyes to the fact that the old
beau really meant anything beyond a delightful and ro-
mantic friendship. At first, all of the little coterie had
chaffed her about II Magnifico, and what was worse, some
of them had even ventured to chaff her under Janeways'
very nose. That organ, however, remained so blandly
unconscious of the very possibility of anyone's taking such
a liberty with it, that even Lady Vaux soon gave up mak-
ing remarks that were meant to pique him.
One very wet afternoon, the Countess and her guest
were sitting in a little smoking-room hung with crimson
Florentine brocade, waiting for dressing-time. The
Countess, who was very tired, wore an elaborate tea-
gown, and Cuckoo felt ashamed of herself for noting that
her kind friend's outline under the meager disguise of
the tea-gown was, in its uncorseted state, not unlike Aunt
Marcia's. The Countess lay on a chaise-longue, smoking
and polishing her nails ; Cuckoo sat on the rug by the fire,
her head against one of the big easy-chairs. The Count-
ess had just finished the story of her own marriage to
Paul Lensky and of the inevitable breaking of that more
or less sacred tie.
"He would have cleaned me out," she wound up, "in
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
another two years. My trustees did hate him like poison,
but he managed to get money out of them. It was a
real gift with him "
Cuckoo nodded. "So in reality you just paid him off?"
"I did. I give him a fairly good income now, you
know. Poor old Paul; I'm sort of fond of him in spite
of everything. He seems to be quite happy trotting about
with little .Minnas and Josephines, as he calls them. He
came to see me not long ago, and I was real glad to hear
his voice. He stayed to dinner and we had a long talk
but, my ! I was glad when he went."
After a minute she added with a good-natured laugh,
"And so was he, I suppose! Well, that's my little lot.
Now suppose you tell me about your husband, Nicky."
Cuckoo had for a long time been expecting just this
conversation, and she was prepared for it.
"There's very little to tell," she said ; "he's a delight-
ful person, but we shouldn't have married; not enough
money, and we're both too nervous. George ought to
have married a woman like a feather pillow, and I
well, I don't know whom I should have married nobody,
if I'd had any money."
The Countess glanced at her curiously. "Do you really
mean that?" she said. "You English women lie so hor-
ribly about that kind of thing. Now, as for me, I'm al-
ways in love with somebody even now when I'm really
far enough to know better, and English women are cer-
tainly much more loving than we are. E.ven poor Queenie
and everybody knows about her love affairs lies like
a whale ; pretends she never cared for anybody but War-
Cuckoo stared into the fire. "I certainly cared for
George," she said slowly, "although, from what I have
seen of ether people, I'm not sure that I was in love with
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
"And you never cared for anybody else?"
"Well," said the Countess, "I'd rather die in a ilitcK
than be like that. I'd like to see your husband. Have
you got a picture of him?"
Cuckoo had, and fetched it from her room. It was a
large, well-taken photograph in a leather frame, and the
Countess looked at it for a long while in silence.
"Nice boy he looks," she declared at length. "Young,
"Beautiful eyes; looks a little delicate, doesn't he?
Perhaps he's just a little too tame for you, Nicky?"
Cuckoo reflected. Tame was not exactly the word,
but she didn't know how to better it. She would not
have minded telling the whole truth to this common,
noisy American woman, for the common, noisy American
was kind, and sincere, and really sympathetic. But
Cuckoo had not learned the whole truth about herself and
George, so she took the photograph and put it on the
"He isn't tame," she said, "he's a (dear, really. Some-
times I think it's just that I'm not good enough for him."
The Countess sat up suddenly.
"Then you don't get on well together?" she cried, with
the joy of one who is justified in an intuition.
"Not very. You see, we're poor, and we're too much
together, and we're both nervous and we get on each oth-
er's nerves, I think."
The telephone bell rang in the library close at hand,
and the Countess rose to go to it.
"That's sure to be Juan," she said. "Look here,
Nicky," she added, putting her hand on the younger
woman's shoulder, and speaking, despite her make-up and
her dyed hair, in an earnest, motherly way. "Give your-
self another chance. Don't get too involved with Pelly
Janeways, or anyone else. You and George are both
young, and after all, marriage does mean something.
Perhaps" and her over-red face saddened suddenly
"you may have a child some day, and that would make
it all right. I believe it would have made things all right
even for Paul and me. Oh, damn," she went on suddenly
to the telephone bell, as she lumbered across the floor to-
wards it. "Do shut up, I'm coming."
They dined with Janeways that night, in his apparte-
ment in the Avenue de Bois. The only other guest was a
Greek, who, because his name was Diamantopoulos, was
usually known as Mantepop, and the dinner in the quiet,
sober, dining-room, served by grave French servants,
seemed to Cuckoo an amazing change from the dinners
that had of late fallen to her lot. Janeways was a little
distrait, and Mantepop, who never had been known to
stop talking, carried on his flow of conversation almost
uninterruptedly. Janeways had engaged a box at the
Folies Bergeres, and after coffee they went on there.
Mantepop devoted himself to the Countess, who shrieked
with laughter over his whispered tales and called him a
sale type, evidently under the impression that this phrase
was one of great elegance; and Cuckoo and Janeways,
both tired, both for some reason a little out of spirits,
hardly spoke to each other. The program was not a
particularly exciting one, and Janeways, who was always
bored at music-halls, looked as nearly cross as Cuckoo had
ever seen him. The evening bade fair to be very dull, but
towards its middle an unexpected diversion was the arrival
in the box, or, to speak more accurately, the "pen" in
which Janeways and his party were sitting, of two men
and two ladies. They came in very quietly, and Cuckoo,
who was sitting with her back to the box, didn't notice
them. But after a while she straightened in her chair
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
and listened. It was Bertie Fabricius' voice speaking be-
hind her, and Bertie Fabricius had not yet seen her or
her companions, for he was seated with his back to their
box, thus facing the stage. At that moment Janeways,
who had gone to speak to some friend, made his way back
towards his place, and one of the ladies with Fabricius
asked who he was.
"Oh, that's Janeways, the chap they call The Magnifi-
cent," Bertie explained, as Janeways came quietly into
the box and sat down almost behind him. "You must have
heard of him, Mrs. Grant." Mrs. Grant craned her neck
and looked off to the left.
"Of course, I have heard of him where's he gone?
Has he run away with anybody lately?"
Cuckoo, leaning back, could feel Janeways' breath on
her shoulders, so closely were they packed in the tiny
place. Fabricius laughed, of course in perfect ignorance
of the fact that Janeways, by stretching out his hand,
could have touched him.
"I don't know," he said; "he's not so much in the
public eye as he used to be. He's a most delightful fellow.
He must be getting on, you know, and you can't expect
the man to go on coveting his neighbor's wife for ever."
"It must be horrid," Mrs. Grant returned in a perfectly
kind voice, "for a man of that type to grow old. I've
often thought how dreadful it must be for very beautiful
women of the corresponding kind, when they begin to
lose their charm and power, but for a man it must be
almost worse. I remember when I was a girl hearing
my mother talk about Pelly Janeways, as she called him.
She was devoted to him and never would hear a word
against him. I believe he has hosts of friends."
Bertie shrugged his shoulders, and Cuckoo knew from
his voice that he was annoyed. "Oh, yes, he was always
a popular man, to give the devil his due; but the funny
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
part is that of all the women he has ill-treated and there
must have been hundreds not one has ever made real
trouble for him, and nearly all of them have remained
his friends. What a very dull show this is !"
After a minute Mrs. Grant went on. "If we should
chance to meet him as we go out, do introduce him to me,
Cuckoo started. If Bertie were Sir Hubert, poor old
Uncle Adolph must be gone, and it was only a few weeks
since she had seen him following his wife to the car that
night. Bertie, she reflected angrily, had not lost much
time in mourning. And then came the thought that if
Fabricius had married her she would have been rich now
enormously rich. By leaning back she could catch a
glimpse of her cousin's right profile as he bent towards
pretty, fluffy Mrs. Grant. The two years had not im-
proved him. The back of his neck was very red and
bulged over the top of his collar. Cuckoo noticed it, but
knew it would have made no difference to her. .With all
her soul she wished she had married him.
Sir Peregrine had not spoken since coming into the box,
and she knew that, whereas it might have amused some
men to embarrass the neighboring chatterers, he, with his
old-fashioned courtesy, would be distressed if they should
find out that he was there; so she took his lead and re-
mained silent, and it may be doubted whether even Jane-
ways ever knew how much depended on Mrs. Grant's next
"By the way, how old must Felly Janeways be nearly
seventy, isn't he?"
Cuckoo heard Peregrine Janeways draw himself up be-
hind her and, urged by a simple and absolutely innocent
impulse of sympathy, she reached her hand towards him.
He took it in his for a moment, and ground her fingers
together in a grip that hurt.
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
"No," Fabricius said indifferently, as the lights went
up and he directed his glasses on somebody on the other
side of the box. "He can't be that old, but he's well over
sixty. His career as Don Juan must be about over. I
wonder if he realizes," the younger man went on, "that
he's a back number?"
Cuckoo felt her hand gently released, and the next sec-
ond the door of th*e box clicked and Janeways had gone.
A few minutes later, during an interval, he came in, rather
noisily, and said to .Cuckoo:
"Excuse me, dear Donna Nicoleta, for having left you.
I hope you haven't been bored?" Cuckoo knew that
Bertie had heard his voice, and that when she spoke he
must recognize hers ; and she was not above giving a be-
lated dig at the man who had abused her before his
"I haven't been bored at all, Sir Peregrine," she said;
"in fact, I've something rather amusing to tell you."
Janeways sat down.
The guilty pair in the next box sat very still, waiting.
The game was in Sir Peregrine's hands, and nobly and
deftly he played it. Leaning behind Cuckoo he tapped
his neighbor on the back.
"Surely that's you, Fabricius?" he said cordially.
"How are you, my dear fellow?" He had never called
Bertie Fab "my dear fellow" before in his life, and Bertie
Fab knew it. The two men shook hands, and then Jane-
ways was introduced to Mrs. Grant, who, dreadfully con-
fused and remorseful, was quite pretty enough to reward
his generosity in going into her box for a moment. While
they talked Bertie found courage to turn to his cousin.
"Look here, Cuckoo," he said, without any prelimin-
aries, "you surely wouldn't be such a beast as to tell
"Tell him what?" Cuckoo asked innocently.
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
"Oh, what we were saying while he was out of the box."
"He wasn't out of the box."
"Do you mean he heard?"
"Every word, my dear cousin."
Bertie was visibly shaken.
"By Jove!" he muttered.
"Did you get my letter ?" he went on after a second. "I
sent it to the bank because I didn't know your address."
"Your letter? No."
Bertie lowered his voice.
"My poor father died on the eighteenth of this month,
and just before the end he asked me to give you a mes-
"Oh, Bertie," she burst out, "I am so sorry ; really and
truly sorry. The eighteenth the last day I was in town.
I did love him, you know."
"I believe you did and he was very fond of you. He
never got over that that business. But he never said one
word against you, Nicky. Where are you staying? Can
I come and see you?"
She was about to say yes, and then she realized how
little she wished any conversation about her to take place
between her cousin and Janeways.
"I don't think there would be any good in your coming
to see me. My husband is in Cyprus and I am visiting
the Countess Lensky for a few weeks. Can't you tell me
now what the message is?"
"AH right, just as you like. It was only to give you
his love and to say that he hoped you would be happy,
and something about something you returned to him
that he knew it was not your fault. I think that's what
he meant ; that he knew it wasn't your fault."
"I see. I'm glad he said that. Thank you for telling
me." Then she said in a lower voice, "I'm very tired.
I'm going to ask the Countess if she'd mind going home."
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
Bertie looked at her. He was wondering wherein had
lain her enormous charm for him, and she could see him
"How's Aunt Marcia?" she asked.
"Oh, she's fairly fit, although the shock was very great.
I'm taking her down to Hyeres to-morrow. That's why
I'm here. Oh, Cuckoo, I forgot to tell you father left
you five hundred pounds."
She gave a little gasp. "Oh, Bertie, how kind of him !"
"Yes. He saw Loxley not long ago and thought he
looked very seedy, and I think he had an idea that you
might like to get him to a good climate "
At this juncture Janeways rose, and shaking hands with
Mrs. Grant and the other woman in her party, came back
to his own box. He had heard Cuckoo talking to Fabri-
cius, but had not caught any of their words, and when
the Countess, who really had a headache, suggested to
him that they might as well go now before the general
exodus, he bowed gravely and they made their way out
to where his car was waiting for them.
"You must come back with me," he said, "and I'll
make you some real Turkish coffee. It's only a little
after eleven "
For some reason Cuckoo had, at his words, a sudden
extremely clear vision of Aunt Flora and Aunt Effie
going up their narrow stairs at Roseroofs at sharp ten
o'clock, each with her bedroom candle lighted in her hand.
Janeways made the coffee himself over a little lamp on
a beaten brass tray in his big library, Cuckoo sitting by
him, while Marguerite and the still steadily talking Man-
tepop sat on a distant sofa, where, she said, the light
would not hurt her eyes. Janeways had given her aspirin,
and she lay back very comfortably, not even listening
to the unceasing sound of her companion's words. That
THE BAG OF SAFFRON
was the beauty of Mantepop one didn't Have to listen
Janeways, Cuckoo saw, was pale, and the lines from
his nose to the corners of his mouth seemed deeper.
It was clear, in a way pathetically clear, that the con-
versation in the next box had hurt him. Cuckoo was
sincerely sorry for him; for all his age and vast experi-
ence, he reminded her, as he carefully stirred his coffee
after damping it with a little rose-water, of a hurt child.
"Wasn't it funny," she said, with an apparent lack of
tact that covered a really kindly impulse, "Bertie Fab-
ricius talking such nonsense?"
He bent over the smoking brass pot until she could
only see his beautiful white hair. Then he looked slowly
up at her through the steam, and his eyes were full of
"Would anybody," he asked, "really take me for sev-
Cuckoo laughed. "Never! I'm a fairly good guesser
of ages, and I never would have taken you for more than
His face cleared a little.
"Honor bright ?" he asked.
"But you, you see," he said mournfully, "you are
clever. You don't judge me entirely by my hair, as most
people judge their fellow-creatures."
"No," she said cheerfully. "I think I judge you more
by the way you move and then by your hands "
He held one of his hands up, and looked at it critically.
"Yes," he said. "It's certainly not the hand of a back
He took Cuckoo's hand, and, hid from the others as