have approved of his master liking her.
"Soon the Baas, madame," he said as he placed a chair
for her, and with the gliding footstep of a native left the
"Sunny creature!" she remarked aloud, with a little
laugh, and looked round. Instantly her face lighted with
interest. Here was nothing of that admired disorder, that
medley of incongruous things which marked the room she
had just left; but perfect order, precision, and balance of
arrangement, the most peaceful equipoise. There was a
great carved oak-table near to sun-lit windows, and on it
were little regiments of things, carefully arranged bas-
A WOMAN TELLS HER STORY
kets with papers in elastic bands; classified and inscribed
reference-books, scales, clips, pencils; and in one clear
space, with a bunch of violets before it, the photograph
of a woman in a splendid silver frame a woman of
seventy or so, obviously Rudyard Byng's mother.
Al'mah's eyes softened. Here was insight into a nature
of which the world knew so little. She looked further.
Everywhere were signs of disciplined hours and careful
hands cabinets with initialed drawers, shelves filled
with books. There is no more impressive and revealing
moment with man or woman than when you stand in a
room empty of their actual presence, but having, in every
inch of it, the pervasive influences of the absent personal-
ity. A strange, almost solemn quietness stole over Al'mah's
senses. She had been admitted to the inner court, not of
the man's house, but of his life. Her eyes travelled on with
the gratified reflection that she had been admitted here.
Above the books were rows of sketches rows of sketches !
Suddenly, as her eyes rested on them, she turned pale
and got to her feet. They were all sketches of the veld,
high and low; of natives; of bits of Dutch architecture;
of the stoep with its Boer farmer and his vrouw; of a kopje
with a dozen horses or a herd of cattle grazing; of a spruit,
or a Kaffir's kraal; of oxen leaning against the dissel-
boom of a cape- wagon ; of a herd of steinboks, or a little
colony of meerkats in the karoo.
Her hand went to her heart with a gesture of pain, and
a little cry of misery escaped her lips.
Now there was a quick footstep, and Byng entered
with a cordial smile and an outstretched hand.
"Well, this is a friendly way to begin the New Year,"
he said, cheerily, taking her hand. "You certainly are
none the worse for our little unrehearsed drama the other
night. I see by the papers that you have been repeating
your triumph. Please sit down. Do you mind my hav-
ing a little toast while we talk? I always have my petit
dejeuner here; and I'm late this morning."
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
"You look very tired," she said as she sat down.
Krool here entered with a tray, placing it on a small
table by the big desk. He was about to pour out the tea,
but Byng waved him away.
"Send this note at once by hand," he said, handing
him an envelope. It was addressed to Jasmine Grenfel.
"Yes, I'm tired rather," he added to his guest with
a sudden weariness of manner. "I've had no sleep for
three nights working all the time, every hour; and in
this air of London, which doesn't feed you, one needs
plenty of sleep. You can't play with yourself here as
you can on the high veld, where an hour or two of sleep
a day will do. On-saddle and off-saddle, in-span and out-
span, plenty to eat and a little sleep; and the air does the
rest. It has been a worrying time."
"The Jameson Raid and all the rest?"
"Particularly all the rest. I feel easier in my mind
about Dr. Jim and the others. England will demand
so I understand," he added with a careful look at her, as
though he had said too much "the right to try Jameson
and his filibusters from Matabeleland here in England;
but it's different with the Jo'burgers. They will be
"They have been arrested," she intervened.
"Oh, is it announced?" he asked without surprise.
"It was placarded an hour ago," she replied, heavily.
"Well, I fancied it would be," he remarked. "They'll
have a close squeak. The sympathy of the world is with
Kruger so far."
"That is what I have come about," she said, with an
involuntary and shrinking glance at the sketches on the
"What you have come about?" he said, putting down
his cup of tea and looking at her intently. "How are you
concerned? Where do you come in?"
"There is a man he has been arrested with the others;
with Farrar, Phillips, Hammond, and the rest "
A WOMAN TELLS HER STORY
"Oh, that's bad! A relative,
"Not a relative, exactly," she replied in a tone of irony.
Rising, she went over to the wall and touched one of the
" How did you come by these?" she asked.
"Blantyre's 'sketches? Well, it's all I ever got for all
Blantyre owed me, and they're not bad. They're lifted
out of the life. That's why I bought them. Also be-
cause I liked to think I got something out of Blantyre;
and that he would wish I hadn't. He could paint a bit
don't you think so?"
"He could paint a bit always," she replied.
A silence followed. Her back was turned to him, her
face was towards the pictures.
Presently he spoke, with a little deferential anxiety in
the tone. "Are you interested in Blantyre?" he asked,
cautiously. Getting up, he came over to her.
"He has been arrested as I said with the others."
"No, you did not say so. So they let Blantyre into
the game, did they?" he asked almost musingly; then, as
if recalling what she had said, he added: "Do you mind
telling me exactly what is your interest in Blantyre?"
She looked at him straight 'in the eyes. For a face
naturally so full of humour, hers was strangely dark with
stormy feeling now.
"Yes, I will tell you as much as I can enough for you
to understand," she answered.
He drew up a chair to the fire, and she sat down. He
nodded at her encouragingly. Presently she spoke.
"Well, at twenty-one I was studying hard, and he was
She inclined her head. "He was full of dreams beau-
tiful, I thought them; and he was ambitious. Also he
could talk quite marvellously."
"Yes, Blantyre could talk once," Byng intervened,
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
"We were married secretly."
Byng made a gesture of amazement, and his face be-
came shocked and grave. "Married! Married! You
were married to Blantyre?"
"At a registry office in Chelsea. One month, only
one month it was, and then he went away to Madeira to
paint 'a big commission,' he said; and he would send
for me as soon as he could get money in hand certainly
in a couple of months. He had taken most of my half-
year's income I had been left four hundred a year by
Byng muttered a malediction under his breath and
leaned towards her sympathetically.
With an effort she continued. "From Madeira he
wrote to tell me he was going on to South Africa, and
would not be home for a year. From South Africa he
wrote saying he was not coming back; that I could divorce
him if I liked. The proof, he said, would be easy; or I
needn't divorce him unless I liked, since no one knew we
For an instant there was absolute silence, and she sat
with her fingers pressed tight to her eyes. At last she
went on, her face turned away from the great kindly blue
eyes bent upon her, from the face flushed with honourable
"I went into the country, where I stayed for nearly
three years, till till I could bear it no longer; and then
I began to study and sing again."
"What were you doing in the country?" he asked in a
"There was my baby," she replied, her hands clasping
and unclasping in pain. "There was my little Nydia."
"A child she is living?" he asked gently.
"No, she died two years ago," was the answer in a
voice which tried to be firm.
"Does Blantyre know?"
"He knew she was born, nothing more."
A WOMAN TELLS HER STORY
"And after all he has done, and left undone, you want
to try and save him now?"
He was thinking that she still loved the man. "That
off scouring!" he said to himself. "Well, women beat all!
He treats her like a Patagonian; leaves her to drift with
his child not yet born; rakes the hutches of the towns and
the kraals of the veld for women always women, black
or white, it didn't matter; and yet, by gad, she wants
She seemed to understand what was passing in his
mind. Rising, with a bitter laugh which he long remem-
bered, she looked at him for a moment in silence, then she
spoke, her voice shaking with scorn:
"You think it is love for him that prompts me now?"
Her eyes blazed, but there was a contemptuous laugh at
her lips, and she nervously pulled at the tails of her sable
muff. "You are wrong absolutely. I would rather
bury myself in the mud of the Thames than let him touch
me. Oh, I know what his life must have been the life
of him that you know! With him it would either be
the sewer or the sycamore-tree of Zaccheus; either the
little upper chamber among the saints or eating husks
with the swine. I realize him now. He was easily sus-
ceptible to good and evil, to the clean and the unclean;
and he might have been kept in order by some one who
would give a life to building up his character; but
his nature was rickety, and he has gone down and
"Then why try to save him? Let Oom Paul have him.
He'll do no more harm, if "
"Wait a minute," she urged. "You are a great man"
she came close to him "and you ought to understand
what I mean, without my saying it. I want to save him
for his own sake, not for mine to give him a chance.
While there's life there's hope. To go as he is, with the
mud up to his lips ah, can't you see! He is the father
of my dead child. I like to feel that he may make some-
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
thing of his life and of himself yet. That's why I haven't
tried to divorce him, and "
"If you ever want to do so " he interrupted, mean-
"Yes, I know. I have always been sure that nothing
could be quite so easy; but I waited, on the chance of
something getting hold of him which would lift him out
of himself, give him something to think of so much greater
than himself, some cause, perhaps "
"He had you and your unborn child," he intervened.
"Me !" She laughed bitterly. "I don't think men
would ever be better because of me. I've never seen
that. I've seen them show the worst of human nature
because of me and it wasn't inspiring. I've not met
many men who weren't on the low levels."
"He hasn't stood his trial for the Johannesburg con-
spiracy yet. How do you propose to help him? He is
in real danger of his life."
She laughed coldly, and looked at him with keen,
searching eyes. "You ask that, you who know that in
the armory of life there's one all-powerful weapon?"
He nodded his head whimsically. "Money? Well,
whatever other weapons you have, you must have that,
I admit. And in the Transvaal "
"Then here," she said, handing him an envelope
"here is what may help."
He took it hesitatingly. "I warn you," he remarked,
"that if money is to be used at all, it must be a great deal.
Kruger will put up the price to the full capacity of the
"I suppose this victim has nothing," she ventured,
"Nothing but what the others give him, I should think.
It may be a very costly business, even if it is possible, and
"I have twenty thousand pounds," she said.
"Earned by your voice?" he asked, kindly.
A WOMAN TELLS HER STORY
"Every penny of it."
"Well, I wouldn't waste it on Blantyre, if I were you.
No, by Heaven, you shall not do it, even if it can be
done! It is too horrible."
"I owe it to myself to do it. After all, he is still my
husband. I have let it be so; and while it is so, and
while" her eyes looked away, her face suffused slightly,
her lips tightened "while things are as they are, I am
bound bound by something, I don't know what, but it
is not love, and it is not friendship to come to his rescue.
There will be legal expenses "
Byng frowned. "Yes, but the others wouldn't see
him in a hole yet I'm not sure, either, Blantyre being
Blantyre. In any case, I'm ready to do anything you
She smiled gratefully. "Did you ever know any one
to do a favor who wasn't asked to repeat it paying one
debt by contracting another, finding a creditor who will
trust, and trading on his trust? Yet I'd rather owe you
two debts than most men one." She held out her hand
to him. "Well, it doesn't do to mope 'The merry heart
goes all the day, the sad one tires in a mile-a.' And I am
out for all day. Please wish me a happy new year."
He took her hand in both of his. " I wish you to go
through this year as you ended the last in a blaze of
"Yes, really a blaze if not of glory," she said, with
bright tears, yet laughing, too, a big warm humour shining
in her strong face with the dark brown eyes and the thick,
heavy eyebrows under a low, broad forehead like his
own. They were indeed strangely alike in many ways
both of mind and body.
"They say we end the year as we begin it," he said,
cheerily. "You proved to Destiny that you were en-
titled to all she could give in the old year, and you shall
have the best that's to be had in 1897. You are a woman
in a million, and "
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
"May I come and breakfast with you some morning?"
she asked, gaily.
"Well, if ever I'm thought worthy of that honour, don't
hesitate. As the Spanish say, It is all yours." He waved
a hand to the surroundings.
"No, it is all yours" she said, reflectively, her eyes slow-
ly roaming about her. "It is all you. I'm glad to have
been here, to be as near as this to your real life. Real
life is so comforting after the mock kind so many of us
live; which singers and actors live anyhow."
She looked round the room again. "I feel I don't
know why it is, but I feel that when I'm in trouble I shall
always want to come to this room. Yes, and I will surely
come; for I know there's much trouble in store for me.
You must let me come. You are the only man I would
go to like this, and you can't think what it means to me
to feel that I'm not misunderstood, and that it seems
absolutely right to come. That's because any woman
could trust you as I do. Good-bye."
In another moment she had gone, and he stood beside
the table with the envelope she had left with him. Pres-
ently he opened it, and unfolded the cheque which was in
it. Then he gave an exclamation of astonishment.
"Seven thousand pounds!" he exclaimed. "That's a
better estimate of Krugerism than I thought she had.
It '11 take much more than that, though, if it's done at all;
but she certainly has sense. It's seven thousand times too
much for Blantyre," he added, with an exclamation of dis-
gust. ' ' Blantyre that outsider !' ' Then he fell to think-
ing of all she had told him. "Poor girl poor girl!" he
said aloud. "But she must not come here, just the same.
She doesn't see that it's not the thing, just because she
thinks I'm a Sir Galahad me!" He glanced at the pic-
ture of his mother, and nodded toward it tenderly. "So
did she always. I might have turned Kurd and robbed
caravans, or become a Turk and kept concubines, and
she'd never have seen that it was so. But Al'mah
A WOMAN TELLS HER STORY
mustn't come here any more, for her own sake. ... I'd
find it hard to explain if ever, by any chance "
He fell to thinking of Jasmine, and looked at the clock.
It was only ten, and he would not see Jasmine till six;
but if he had gone to South Africa he would not have seen
her at all! Fate and Wallstein had been kind.
Presently, as he went to the hall to put on his coat and
hat to go out, he met Barry Whalen. Barry looked at
him curiously; then, as though satisfied, he said: "Early
morning visitor, eh? I just met her coming away. Card
of thanks for kind services au theatre, eh?"
"Well, it isn't any business of yours what it is, Barry,"
came the reply in tones which congealed.
"No, perhaps not," answered his visitor, testily, for he
had had a night of much excitement, and, after all, this
was no way to speak to a friend, to a partner who had fol-
lowed his lead always. Friendship should be allowed some
latitude, and he had said hundreds of things less carefully
to Byng in the past. The past he was suddenly con-
scious that Byng had changed within the past few days,
and that he seemed to have put restraint on himself.
Well, he would get back at him just the same for the snub.
"It's none of my business," he retorted, "but it's a
good deal of Adrian Fellowes' business "
"What is a good deal of Adrian Fellowes' business?"
"Al'mah coming to your rooms. Fellowes is her man.
Going to marry her, I suppose," he added, cynically.
Byng's jaw set and his eyes became cold. "Still, I'd
suggest your minding your own business, Barry. Your
tongue will get you into trouble some day. . . . You've
seen Wallstein this morning and Fleming?"
Barry replied sullenly, and the day's pressing work be-
gan, with the wires busy under the seas.
WITHIN THE POWER-HOUSE
A? a few moments before six o'clock Byng was shown
into Jasmine's sitting-room. As he entered, the
man who sat at the end of the front row of stalls the first
night of "Manassa" rose to his feet. It was Adrian Fel-
lowes, slim, well groomed, with the colour of an apple in
his cheeks, and his gold-brown hair waving harmoniously
over his unintellectual head.
"But, Adrian, you are the most selfish man I've ever
known," Jasmine was saying as Byng entered.
Either Jasmine did not hear the servant announce Byng,
or she pretended not to do so, and the words were said so
distinctly that Byng heard them as he came forward.
"Well, he is selfish," she added to Byng, as she shook
hands. "I've known him since I was a child, and he
has always had the best of everything and given nothing
for it." Turning again to Fellowes, she continued: "Yes,
it's true. The golden apples just fall into your hands."
"Well, I wish I had the apples, since you give me the
reputation," Fellowes replied, and, shaking hands with
Byng, who gave him an enveloping look and a friendly
greeting, he left the room.
"Such a boy Adrian," Jasmine said, as they sat
"Boy he looks thirty or more!" remarked Byng in a
"He is just thirty. I call him a boy because he is
so young in most things that matter to people. He is
the most sumptuous person entirely a luxury. Did you
WITHIN THE POWER-HOUSE
ever see such colouring like a woman's! But selfish, as
I said, and useful, too, is Adrian. Yes, he really is very
useful. He would be a private secretary beyond price
to any one who needed such an article. He has tact
as you saw and would make a wonderful master of cere-
monies, a splendid comptroller of the household and
equerry and lord-chamberlain in one. There, if ever you
want such a person, or if "
She paused. As she did so she was sharply conscious
of the contrast between her visitor and Ian Stafford in
outward appearance. Byng's clothes were made by good
hands, but they were made by tailors who knew their
man was not particular, and that he would not "try on."
The result was a looseness and carelessness of good things
giving him, in a way, the look of shambling power.
Yet in spite of the tie a little crooked, and the trousers a
little too large and too short, he had touches of that
distinction which power gives. His large hands with the
square-pointed fingers had obtrusive veins, but they were
"Certainly," he intervened, smiling indulgently; "if
ever I want a comptroller, or an equerry, or a lord-cham-
berlain, I'll remember 'Adrian.' In these days one can
never tell. There's the Sahara. It hasn't been exploited
yet. It has no emperor."
"I like you in this mood," she said, eagerly. "You
seem on the surface so tremendously practical and sen-
sible. You frighten me a little, and I like to hear you
touch things off with raillery. But, seriously, if you can
ever put anything in that boy's way, please do so. He has
had bad luck in your own Rand mine. He lost nearly
everything in that, speculating, and "
Byng's face grew serious again. "But he shouldn't
have speculated; he should have invested. It wants
brains, good fortune, daring and wealth to speculate.
But I will remember him, if you say so. I don't like to
think that he has been hurt in any enterprise of mine.
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
I'll keep him in mind. Make him one of my secretaries
Then Barry Whalen's gossip suddenly came to his
mind, and he added: "Fellowes will want to get married
some day. That face and manner will lead him into
ways from which there's only one outlet."
"Matrimony?" She laughed. "Oh dear, no, Adrian
is much too selfish to marry."
"I thought that selfishness was one of the elements of
successful marriages. I've been told so."
A curious look stole into her eyes. All at once she
wondered if his words had any hidden meaning, and she
felt angrily self-conscious; but she instantly put the re-
flection away, for if ever any man travelled by the straight
Roman road of speech and thought, it was he. He had
only been dealing in somewhat obvious worldly wisdom.
"You ought not to give encouragement to such ideas
by repeating them," she rejoined with raillery. "This is
an age of telepathy and suggestion, and the more silent
we are the safer we are. Now, please, tell me everything
of the inside, I mean about Cecil Rhodes and the
Raiders. Is Rhodes overwhelmed? And Mf. Chamber-
lain you have seen him? The .papers say you have
spent many hours at the Colonial Office. I suppose*
you were with him at six o'clock last evening, instead of
being here with me, as you promised."
He shook his head. "Rhodes? The bigger a man is
the greater the crash when he falls; and no big man falls
She nodded. "There's the sense of power, too, which
made everything vibrate with energy, which gave a sense
of great empty places filled of that power withdrawn
and collapsed. Even the bad great man gone leaves a
sense of desolation behind. Power power, that is the
thing of all," she said, her eyes shining and her small
fingers interlacing with eager vitality: "power to set
waves of influence in motion which stir the waters on dis-
WITHIN THE POWER-HOUSE
tant shores. That seems to me the most wonderful
Her vitality, her own sense of power, seemed almost
incongruous. She was so delicately made, so much the
dresden-china shepherdess, that intensity seemed out of
relation to her nature. Yet the tiny hands playing be-
fore her with natural gestures like those of a child had,
too, a decision and a firmness in keeping with the per-
fectly modelled head and the courageous poise of the body.
There was something regnant in her, while, too, there was
something sumptuous and sensuous and physically thrill-
ing to the senses. To-day she was dressed in an exquisite
blue gown, devoid of all decoration save a little chinchilla
fur, which only added to its softness and richness. She
wore no jewelry whatever except a sapphire brooch, and
her hair shone and waved like gossamer in the sun.
"Well, I don't know," he rejoined, admiration unbound-
ed in his eyes for the picture she was of maidenly charm
and womanly beauty, "I should say that goodness was
a more wonderful thing. But power is the most common
ambition, and only a handful of the hundreds of millions
get it in any large way. I used to feel it tremendously
when I first heard the stamps pounding the quartz in the
mills on the Rand. You never heard that sound? In
the clear height of that plateau the air reverberates great-
ly; and there's nothing on earth which so much gives a
sense of power power that crushes as the stamps of a
great mine pounding away night and day. There they
go, thundering on, till it seems to you that some unearthly
power is hammering the world into shape. You get up
and go to the window and look out into the night. "There's
the deep blue sky blue like nothing you ever saw in any
other sky, and the stars so bright and big, and so near,
that you feel you could reach up and pluck one with your
hand; and just over the little hill are the lights of the
stamp-mills, the smoke and the mad red flare, the roar of
great hammers as they crush, crush, crush; while the
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
vibration of the earth makes you feel that you are living
in a world of Titans."
"And when it all stops?" she asked, almost breath-
lessly. "When the stamps pound no more, and the
power is withdrawn? It is empty and desolate and
"It is anything you like. If all the mills all at once,