man pitches it all into the junk-shop, and cuts his losses."
He picked up the Morning Post and glanced down the
middle page the social column first with the half-
amused reflection that he hadn't done it for years, and
that here were the same old names reappearing, with the
same brief chronicles. Here, too, were new names, some
of them, if not most of them, of a foreign turn to their
syllables New York, Melbourne, Buenos Ayres, Johan-
nesburg. His lip curled a little with almost playful scorn.
At St. Petersburg, Vienna, and elsewhere he had been
vaguely conscious of these social changes; but they did
not come within the ambit of his daily life, and so it had
not mattered. And there was no reason why it should
matter now. His England was a land the original ele-
ments of which would not change, had not changed; for
the old small inner circle had not been invaded, was still
impervious to the wash of wealth and snobbery and push.
That refuge had its sequestered glades, if perchance it was
unilluminating and rather heavily decorous; so that he
could let the climbers, the toadies, the gold-spillers, and
the bribers have the middle of the road.
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
It did not matter so much that London was changing
fast. The old clock on the tower of St. James's would
still give the time to his step as he went to and from the
Foreign Office, and there were quiet places like Kensing-
ton Gardens where the bounding person would never
think to stray. Indeed, they never strayed; they only
rushed and pushed where their spreading tails could be
seen by the multitude. They never got farther west than
Rotten Row, which was in possession of three classes of
people those who sat in Parliament, those who had seats
on the Stock Exchange, and those who could not sit their
horses. Three years had not done it all, but it had done
a good deal ; and he was more keenly alive to the changes
and developments which had begun long before he left
and had increased vastly since. Wealth was more and
more the master of England new-made wealth; and some
of it was too ostentatious and too pretentious to condone,
much less indulge.
All at once his eye, roaming down the columns, came
upon the following announcement:
"Mr. and Mrs. Rudyard Byng have returned to town from Scot-
land for a few days, before proceeding to Wales, where they are
presently to receive at Glencader Castle the Duke and Duchess of
Sheffield, the Prince and Princess of Cleaves, M. Santon, the French
Foreign Minister, the Slavonian Ambassador, the Earl and Countess
of Tynemouth, and Mr. Tudor Tempest."
'"And Mr. Tudor Tempest,'" Ian repeated to himself.
"Well, she would. She would pay that much tribute to
her own genius. Four-fifths to the claims of the body and
the social nervous system, and one-fifth to the desire of
the soul. Tempest is a literary genius by what he has
done, and she is a genius by nature, and with so much
left undone. The Slavonian Ambassador h'm, and the
French Foreign Minister! That looks like a useful com-
bination at this moment at this moment. She has a
gift for combinations, a wonderful skill, a still more won-
THREE YEARS LATER
derful perception and a remarkable unscrupulousness.
She's the naturally ablest woman I have ever known; but
she wants to take short-cuts to a worldly Elysium, and
it can't be done, not even with three times three millions
and three millions was her price."
Suddenly he got up and went over to a table where
were several dispatch-boxes. Opening one, he drew forth
from the bottom, where he had placed it nearly three
years ago, a letter. He looked at the long, sliding hand-
writing, so graceful and fine, he caught the perfume which
had intoxicated Rudyard Byng, and, stooping down, he
sniffed the dispatch-box. He nodded.
"She's pervasive in everything," he murmured. He
turned over several other packets of letters in the box.
' ' I apologize, ' ' he said, ironically, to these letters. ' ' I ought
to have banished her long ago, but, to tell you the truth,
I didn't realize how much she'd influence everything
even in a box." He laughed cynically, and slowly opened
the one letter which had meant so much to him. .
There was no show of agitation. His eye was calm;
only his mouth showed any feeling or made any comment.
It was a little supercilious and scornful. Sitting down
by the table, he spread the letter out, and read it with
great deliberation. It was the first time he had looked
at it since he received it in Vienna and had placed it in
"Dear Ian," it ran, "our year of probation that is the word,
isn't it? is up; and I have decided that our ways must lie apart.
I am going to marry Rudyard Byng next month. He is very kind
and very strong, and not too ragingly clever. You know I should
chafe at being reminded daily of my own stupidity by a very clever
man. You and I have had so many good hours together, there has
been such confidence between us, that no other friendship can ever
be the same; and I shall always want to go to you, and ask your
advice, and learn to be wise. You will not turn a cold shoulder on
me, will you? I think you yourself realized that my wish to wait
a year before giving a final answer was proof that I really had not
that in my heart which would justify me in saying what you wished
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
me to say. Oh yes, you knew; and the last day when you bade me
good-bye you almost said as much! I was so young, so unschooled,
when you first asked me, and I did not know my own mind; but I
know it now, and so I go to Rudyard Byng for better or for worse "
He suddenly stopped reading, sat back in his chair, and
"'For richer, for poorer ' now to have launched out on
the first phrase, and to have jibbed at the second was dis-
tinctly stupid. The quotation could only have been car-
ried off with audacity of the ripest kind. 'For better, for
worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till
death us do part, amen ' That was the way to have done
it, if it was to be done at all. Her cleverness forsook her
when she wrote that letter. ' Our year of probation ' she
called it that. Dear, dear, what a poor prevaricator the
best prevaricator is ! She was sworn to me, bound to me,
wanted a year in which to have her fling before she settled
down, and she threw me over like that."
He did not read the rest of the letter, but got up, went
over to the fire, threw it in, and watched it burn.
"I ought to have done so when I received it," he said,
almost kindly now. "A thing like that ought never to
be kept a minute. It's a terrible confession, damning
evidence, a self-made exposure, and to keep it is too brutal,
too hard on the woman. If anything had happened to
me and it had been read, ' Not all the King's horses nor
all the King's men could put Humpty Dumpty together
Then he recalled the brief letter he had written her in
reply. Unlike him, she had not kept his answer, when it
came into her hands, but, tearing it up into fifty frag-
ments, had thrown it into the waste-basket, and paced
her room in shame, anger and humiliation. Finally, she
had taken the waste-basket and emptied it into the flames.
She had watched the tiny fragments burn in a fire not
hotter than that in her own eyes, which presently were
washed by a flood of bitter tears and passionate and un-
THREE YEARS LATER
availing protest. For hours she had sobbed, and when
she went out into the world the next day, it was with his
every word ringing in her ears, as they had rung ever since :
the sceptic comment at every feast, the ironical laughter
behind every door, the whispered detraction in every loud
accent of praise.
"Dear Jasmine," his letter had run, "it is kind of you to tell me
of your intended marriage before it occurs, for in these distant lands
news either travels slowly or does not reach one at all. I am for-
tunate in having my information from the very fountain of first
knowledge. You have seen and done much in the past year; and
the end of it all is more fitting than the most meticulous artist could
desire or conceive. You will adorn the new sphere into which you
enter. You are of those who do not need training or experience:
you are a genius, whose chief characteristic is adaptability. Some
people, to whom nature and Providence have not been generous,
live up to things; to you it is given to live down to them; and no
one can do it so well. We have had good times together happy
conversations and some cheerful and entertaining dreams and pur-
poses. We have made the most of opportunity, each in his and her
own way. But, my dear Jasmine, don't ever think that you will
need to come to me for advice and to learn to be wise. I know of
no one from whom I could learn, from whom I have learned, so
much. I am deeply your debtor for revelations which never could
have come to me without your help. There is a wonderful future
before you, whose variety let Time, not me, attempt to reveal. I
shall watch your going on" (he did not say goings on) "your
Alpine course, with clear memories of things and hours dearer to
me than all the world, and with which I would not have parted for
the mines of the Rand. I lose them now for nothing and less than
nothing. I shall be abroad for some years, and, meanwhile, a new
planet will swim into the universe of matrimony. I shall see the
light shining, but its heavenly orbit will not be within my calcula-
tions. Other astronomers will watch, and some no doubt will pray,
and I shall read in the annals the bright story of the flower that was
turned into a star!
"Always yours sincerely,
From the filmy ashes of her letter to him Stafford now
turned away to his writing-table. There he sat for a while
and answered several notes, among them one to Alice
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
Mayhew, now the Countess of Tynemouth, whose red
parasol still hung above the mantel-piece, a relic of the
Zambesi and of other things.
Periodically Lady Tynemouth's letters had come to him
while he was abroad, and from her, in much detail, he had
been informed of the rise of Mrs. Byng, of her great
future, her "delicious" toilettes, her great entertainments
for charity, her successful attempts to gather round her
the great figures in the political and diplomatic world;
andlier partial rejection of Byng's old mining and finan-
cial confreres and their belongings. It had all culmi-
nated in a visit of royalty to their place in Suffolk,
from which she had emerged radiantly and delicately
aggressive, and sweeping a wider circle with her social
Ian had read it all unperturbed. It was just what he
knew she could and would do; and he foresaw for Byng,
if he wanted it, a peerage in the not distant future. Alice
Tynemouth was no gossip, and she was not malicious..
She had a good, if wayward, heart, was full of sentiment,
and was a constant and helpful friend. He, therefore,
accepted her invitation now to spend the next week-end
with her and her husband; and then, with letters to two
young nephews in his pocket, he prepared to sally forth
to buy them presents, and to get some sweets for the chil-
dren of a poor invalid cousin to whom for years he had
been a generous friend. For children he had a profound
love, and if he had married, he would not have been con-
tent with a childless home with a childless home like
that of Rudyard Byng. That news also had come to
him from Alice Tynemouth, who honestly lamented that
Jasmine Byng had no "balance-wheel," which was the
safety and the anchor of women "like her and me," Lady
Tynemouth's letter had said.
Three millions then and how much more now? and
big houses, and no children. It was an empty business,
or so it seemed to himj who had come of a large and agree-
THREE YEARS LATER
ably quarrelsome and clever family, with whom life had
been checkered but never dull.
He took up his hat and stick, and went towards the
door. His eyes caught Al'mah's photograph as he passed.
"It was all done that night at the opera," he said.
"Jasmine made up her mind then to marry him, ... I
wonder what the end will be. . . . Sad little, bad little
girl. . . . The mess of pottage at the last? Quien sabe!"
*'HE SHALL NOT TREAT ME SO"
THE air of the late September morning smote Staf-
ford's cheeks pleasantly, and his spirits rose as he
walked up St. James's Street. His step quickened im-
perceptibly to himself, and he nodded to or shook hands
with half a dozen people before he reached Piccadilly.
Here he completed the purchases for his school-boy
nephews, and then he went to a sweet-shop in Regent
Street -to get chocolates for his young relatives. As he en-
tered the place he was suddenly brought to a standstill,
for not two dozen yards away at a counter was Jasmine
She did not see him enter, and he had time to note what
matrimony, and the three years and the three million
pounds, had done to her. She was radiant and exquisite,
a little paler, a little more complete, but increasingly
graceful and perfectly appointed. Her dress was of dark
green, of a most delicate shade, and with the clinging
softness and texture of velvet. She wore a jacket of the
same material, and a single brilliant ornament at her
throat relieved the simplicity. In the hat, too, one big
solitary emerald shone against the lighter green.
She was talking now with animation and amusement
to the shop-girl who was supplying her with sweets, and
every attendant was watching her with interest and
pleasure. Stafford reflected that this was always her
way: wherever she went she attracted attention, drew
interest, magnetized the onlooker. Nothing had changed
in her, nothing of charm and beauty and eloquence,-
"HE SHALL NOT TREAT ME SO"
how eloquent she had always been! of esprit, had gone
from her; nothing. Presently she turned her face full
toward him, still not seeing him, half hidden as he was
behind some piled-up tables in the centre of the shop.
Nothing changed? Yes, instantly he was aware of a
change, in the eyes, at the mouth. An elusive, vague,
distant kind of disturbance he could not say trouble
had stolen into her eyes, had taken possession of the cor-
ners of the mouth; and he was conscious of something
exotic, self-indulgent, and "emancipated." She had al-
ways been self-indulgent and selfish, and, in a wilful,
innocent way, emancipated, in the old days; but here
was a different, a fuller, a more daring expression of these
qualities. . . . Ah, he had it now ! That elusive something
was a lurking recklessness, which, perhaps, was not bold
enough yet to leap into full exercise, or even to recognize
So this was she to whom he had given the best of which
he had been capable not a very noble or priceless best,
he was willing to acknowledge, but a kind of guarantee of
the future, the nucleus of fuller things. As he looked at
her now his heart did not beat faster, his pulses did not
quicken, his eye did not soften, he did not even wish him-
self away. Love was as dead as last year's leaves so
dead that no spirit of resentment, or humiliation, or pain
of heart was in his breast at this sight of her again. On
the contrary, he was conscious of a perfect mastery of
himself, of being easily superior to the situation.
Love was dead; youth was dead; the desire that beats
in the veins of the young was dead; his disillusion and
disappointment and contempt for one woman had not
driven him, as it so often does, to other women to that
wild waste which leaves behind it a barren and ill-natured
soil exhausted of its power, of its generous and native
health. There was a strange apathy in his senses, an
emotional stillness, as it were, the atrophy of all the
passionate elements of his nature. But because of this
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
he was the better poised, the more evenly balanced, the
more perceptive. His eyes were not blurred or dimmed
by any stress of emotion, his mind worked in a cool quiet,
and his forward tread had leisurely decision and grace.
He had sunk one part of himself far below the level of
activity or sensation, while new resolves, new powers of
mind, new designs were set in motion to make his career
a real and striking success. He had the most friendly
ear and the full confidence of the Prime Minister, who
was also Foreign Secretary he had got that far; and
now, if one of his great international schemes could but
be completed, an ambassadorship would be his reward,
and one of first-class importance. The three years had
done much for him in a worldly way, wonderfully much.
As he looked at the woman who had shaken his life to
the centre not by her rejection of him, but by the fashion
of it, the utter selfishness and cold-blooded calculation of
it, he knew that love's fires were out, and that he could
meet her without the agitation of a single nerve. He de-
spised her, but he could make allowance for her. He knew
the strain that was in her, got from her brilliant and
rather plangent grandfather. He knew the temptation
of a vast fortune, the power that it would bring and the
notoriety, too, again an inheritance from her grandfather.
He was not without magnanimity, and he could the more
easily exercise it because his pulses of emotion were still.
She was by nature the most brilliantly endowed woman
he had ever met, the most naturally perceptive and artis-
tic, albeit there was a touch of gorgeousness to the in-
herent artistry which time, training and experience would
have chastened. Would have chastened? Was it not,
then, chastened? Looking at her now, he knew that it
was not. It was still there, he felt ; but how much else
was also there of charm, of elusiveness, of wit, of men-
tal adroitness, of joyous eagerness to discover a new
thought or a new thing! She was a creature of rare
splendour, variety and vanity.
"HE SHALL NOT TREAT ME SO"
Why should he deny himself the pleasure of her society?
His intellectual side would always be stimulated by her,
she would always "incite him to mental riot," as she had
often said. Time had flown, love had flown, and passion
was dead; but friendship stayed. Yes, friendship stayed
in spite of all. Her conduct had made him blush for
her, had covered him with shame, but she was a woman,
and therefore weak he had come to that now. She was
on a lower plateau of honour, and therefore she must be
not forgiven that was too banal ; but she must be accepted
as she was. And, after all, there could be no more de-
ception; for opportunity and occasion no longer existed.
He would go and speak to her now.
At that moment he was aware that she had caught
sight of him, and that she was startled. She had not
known of his return to England, and she was suddenly
overwhelmed by confusion. The words of the letter he
had written her when, she had thrown him over rushed
through her brain now, and hurt her as much as they did
the first day they had been received. She became a little
pale, and turned as though to find some other egress
from the shop. There being none, there was but one
course, and that was to go out as though she had not
seen him. He had not even been moved at all at seeing
her; but with her it was different. She was disturbed
in her vanity? In her peace? In her pride? In her
senses? In her heart? In any, or each, or all? But she
was disturbed: her equilibrium was shaken. He had
scorched her soul by that letter to her, so gently cold, so
incisive, so subtly cruel, so deadly in its irony, so final
She was ashamed, and no one else in the world but Ian
Stafford could so have shamed her. Power had been
given to her, the power of great riches the three millions
had been really four and everything and everybody,
almost, was deferential towards her. Had it brought her
happiness, or content, or joy? It had brought her excite-
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
ment much of that and elation, and opportunity to do
a thousand things, and to fatigue herself in a thousand
ways; but had it brought happiness?
If it had, the face of this man who was once so much
to her, and whom she had flung into outer darkness, was
sufficient to cast a cloud over it. She felt herself grow
suddenly weak, but she determined to go out of the place
without appearing to see him.
He was conscious of it all, saw it out of a corner of his
eye, and as she started forward, he turned, deliberately
walked towards her, and, with a cheerful smile, held out
"Now, what good fortune!" he said, spiritedly. "Life
plays no tricks, practises no deception this time. In a
book she'd have made us meet on a grand staircase or at
a court ball."
As he said this, he shook her hand warmly, and again
and again, as would be fitting with old friends. He had
determined to be master of the situation, and to turn the
moment to the credit of his account not hers; and it
was easy to do it, for love was dead, and the memory of
Colour came back to her face. Confusion was dispelled,
a quick and grateful animation took possession of her, to
be replaced an instant after by the disconcerting reflection
that there was in his face or manner not the faintest sign
of emotion or embarrassment. From his attitude they
might have been good friends who had not met for some
time; nothing more.
" Yes, what a place to meet!" she said. " It really ought
to have been at a green-grocer's, and the apotheosis of the
commonplace would have been celebrated. But when
did you return? How long do you remain in England?"
Ah, the sense of relief to feel that he was not reproach-
ing her for anything, not impeaching her by an injured
tone and manner, which so many other men had assumed
with infinitely less right or cause than he!
"HE SHALL NOT TREAT ME SO"
"I came back thirty-six hours ago, and I stay at the
will of the master-mind," he answered.
The old whimsical look came into her face, the old sud-
den flash which always lighted her eyes when a daring
phrase was born in her mind, and she instantly retorted:
"The master-mind how self-centred you are!"
Whatever had happened, certainly the old touch of
intellectual diablerie was still hers, and he laughed good-
humoredly. Yes, she might be this or that, she might
be false or true, she might be one who had sold herself
for mammon, and had not paid tribute to the one great
natural principle of being, to give life to the world, man
and woman perpetuating man and woman; but she was
stimulating and delightful without effort.
"And what are you doing these days?" he asked. "One
never hears of you now."
This was cruel, but she knew that he was "inciting her
to riot," and she replied: "That's because you are so
secluded in your kindergarten for misfit statesmen.
Abandon knowledge, all ye who enter there!"
It was the old flint and steel, but the sparks were not
bright enough to light the tinder of emotion. She knew
it, for he was cool and buoyant and really unconcerned,
and she was feverish and determined.
"You still make life worth living," he answered, gaily.
"It is not an occupation I would choose," she replied.
"It is sure to make one a host of enemies."
"So many of us make our careers by accident," he
"Certainly I made mine not by design," she replied
instantly; and there was an undercurrent of meaning in
it which he was not slow to notice ; but he disregarded her
first attempt to justify, however vaguely, her murderous
treatment of him.
"But your career is not yet begun," he remarked.
Her eyes flashed was it anger, or pique, or hurt, or
merely the fire of intellectual combat?
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
"I am married," she said, defiantly, in direct retort.
"That is not a career it is casual exploration in a
dark continent," he rejoined.
" Come and say that to my husband," she replied, bold-
ly. Suddenly a thought lighted her eyes. "Are you by
any chance free to-morrow night to dine with us quite,
quite en famille? Rudyard will be glad to see you and
hear you," she added, teasingly.
He was amused. He felt how much he had really
piqued her and provoked her by showing her so plainly
that she had lost every vestige of the ancient power over
him; and he saw no reason why he should not spend an
evening where she sparkled.
"I am free, and will come with pleasure," he replied.
"That is delightful," she rejoined, "and please bring
a box of bans mots with you. But you will come, then ?"
She was going to add, "Ian," but she paused.
"Yes, I'll come Jasmine," he answered, coolly, having
read her hesitation aright.