WORKS OF ROBERT W. CHAMBERS
Maids of Paradise
Ashes of Empire
The Red Republic
The King in Yellow
The Maker of Moons
A King and a Few Dukes
The Cambric Mask
The Haunts of Men
A Young Man in a Hurry
In Search of the Unknown
In the Quarter
The Mystery of Choice
' The little things," he continued, delicately perforating the
atmosphere as though selecting a diatom.
D. APPLETOK & CO.
COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY
ROBERT W. C
Published May, 1905
GEORGE HORACE LORIMER
anybody remember the opera
i|*npi of The Inca, and that heart-
- breaking episode where the Court
Undertaker, in a morbid desire to
increase his professional skill, deliberately ac-
complishes the destruction of his middle-aged
relatives in order to inter them for the sake
of practise ?
If I recollect, his dismal confession runs
something like this :
" It was in a bleak November
When I slew them, I remember,
As I caught them unawares
Drinking tea in rocking-chairs."
And so he talked them to death, the subject
being "What Really is Art?" Afterward he
" The squeak of a door,
The creak of the floor,
My horrors and fears enhance;
And I wake with a scream
As I hear in my dream
The shrieks of my maiden aunts ! "
Now it is a very dreadful thing to suggest
that those highly respectable pseudo-spinsters,
the Sister Arts, supposedly cozily immune in
their polygamous chastity (for every suitor
for favor is popularly expected to be wedded
to his particular art) I repeat, it is very
dreadful to suggest that these impeccable old
ladies are in danger of being talked to death.
But the talkers are talking and Art Nouveau
rockers are rocking, and the trousers of the
prophet are patched with stained glass, and it
is a day of dinkiness and of thumbs.
Let us find comfort in the ancient proverb:
"Art talked to death shall rise again." Let
us also recollect that " Dinky is as dinky
does " ; that "All is not Shaw that Bernards " ;
that " Better Yeates than Clever " ; that words
are so inexpensive that there is no moral crime
in robbing Henry to pay James.
Firmly believing all this, abjuring all atom-
pickers, slab furniture, and woodchuck litera-
ture save only the immortal verse:
"And there the wooden-chuck doth tread ;
While from the oak trees' tops
The red, red squirrel on thy head
The frequent acorn drops."
Abjuring, as I say, dinkiness in all its forms,
we may still hope that those cleanly and
respectable spinsters, the Sister Arts, will
continue throughout the ages, rocking and
drinking tea unterrified by the million-tongued
clamor in the back yard and below stairs,
where thumb and forefinger continue the
question demanded by intellectual exhaustion :
"L'arr! Kesker say 1'arr?"
"The little things," he continued, deli-
cately perforating the atmosphere
as though selecting a diatom.
From a drawing by J. C. Leyendecker.
" Simplicity," breathed Guilford " a
single blossom against a back-
ground of nothing at all "
From a drawing by J. C. Leyendecker.
He paused ; his six tall and blooming
daughters, two and two behind him
From a drawing by Karl Anderson.
Aphrodite's slender fingers, barely rest-
ing on the harp-strings, suddenly
contracted in a nervous tremor .
From a drawing by Karl Anderson.
Decorative drawings by Arthur C. Becker.
I O LE
AIN'T never knowed no one like
him," continued the station-agent
reflectively. " He made us all
look like monkeys, but he was
good to us. Ever see a ginuine poet, sir ? "
" Years ago one was pointed out to me,"
" Was yours smooth shaved, with large, fat,
white fingers ? " inquired the station-agent.
" If I remember correctly, he was thin,"
said Briggs, sitting down on his suit-case and
gazing apprehensively around at the landscape.
There was nothing to see but low, forbidding
mountains, and forests, and a railroad track
curving into a tunnel.
The station-agent shoved his hairy hands
into the pockets of his overalls, jingled an
unseen bunch of keys, and chewed a dry grass
stem, ruminating the while in an undertone :
" This poet come here five years ago with
all them kids, an' the fust thing he done was
to dress up his girls in boys' pants. Then
he went an' built a humpy sort o' house out
of stones and boulders. Then he went to work
an' wrote pieces for the papers about jay-
birds an' woodchucks an' goddesses. He
claimed the woods was full of goddesses.
That was his way, sir."
The agent contemplated the railroad track,
running his eye along the perspective of pol-
ished rails :
" Yes, sir ; his name was and is Clarence
Guilford, an' I fust seen it signed to a piece
in the Uticy Star. An' next I knowed, folks
began to stop off here inquirin' for Mr. Guil-
ford. ' Is this here where Guilford, the poet,
lives ? ' sez they ; an' they come thicker an'
thicker in warm weather. There wasn't no
wagon to take 'em up to Guilford's, but they
didn't care, an' they called it a litVy shrine,
an' they hit the pike, women, children, men
'speshil the women, an' I heard 'em tellin'
how Guilford dressed his kids in pants an'
how Guilford was a famous new lit'r'y poet,
an' they said he was fixin' to lecture in
The agent gnawed off the chewed portion
of the grass stem, readjusted it, and fixed his
eyes on vacancy.
" Three year this went on. Mr. Guilford
was makin' his pile, I guess. He set up a
shop an' hired art bookbinders from York.
Then he set up another shop an' hired some
of us 'round here to go an' make them big,
slabby art-chairs. All his shops was called
" At the sign of " somethin' 'r other. Bales
of vellum arrived for to bind little dinky
books ; art rocking-chairs was shipped out o'
here by the carload. Meanwhile Guilford he
done poetry on the side an' run a magazine;
an' hearin' the boys was makin' big money
up in that crank community, an' that the town
was boomin', I was plum fool enough to drop
my job here an' be a art-worker up to Rose-
Cross that's where the shops was ; 'bout three
mile back of his house into the woods."
The agent removed his hands from his over-
alls and folded his arms grimly.
" Well ? " inquired Briggs, looking up from
his perch on the suit-case.
" Well, sir/' continued the agent, " the hull
thing bust. I guess the public kinder sick-
ened o' them art-rockers an' dinky books with-
out much printin' into them. Guilford he
stuck to it noble, but the shops closed one by
one. My wages wasn't paid for three months ;
the boys that remained got together that au-
tumn an' fixed it up to quit in a bunch.
" The poet was sad ; he come out to the
shops an' he says, ' Boys,' sez he, ' art is long
an' life is dam brief. I ain't got the cash,
but,' sez he, ' you can levy onto them art-
rockers an' the dinky vellum books in stock,
an',' sez he, ' you can take the hand-presses
an' the tools an' bales o' vellum, which is very
precious, an' all the wagons an' hosses, an' go
sell 'em in that proud world that refuses to
receive my message. The woodland fellow-
ship is rent,' sez he, wavin' his plump fingers
at us with the rings sparklin' on 'em.
" Then the boys looked glum, an' they
nudged me an' kinder shoved me front. So,
bein' elected, I sez, ' Friend,' sez I, ' art is on
the bum. It ain't your fault; the boys is sad
an' sorrerful, but they ain't never knocked you
to nobody, Mr. Guilford. You was good to
us ; you done your damdest. You made up
pieces for the magazines an' papers an' you
advertised how we was all cranks together
here at Rose-Cross, a-lovin' Nature an' dicky-
birds, an' wanderin' about half nood for art's
"'Mr. Guilford,' sez I, ' that gilt brick
went. But it has went as far as it can travel
an' is now reposin' into the soup. Git wise
or eat hay, sir. Art is on the blink.' "
The agent jingled his keys with a melan-
choly wink at Briggs.
" So I come back here, an' thankful to hold
down this job. An' five mile up the pike is
that there noble poet an' his kids a-makin' up
pieces for to sell to the papers, an' a sorrerin'
over the cold world what refuses to buy his
poems an' a mortgage onto his house an' a
threat to foreclose."
" Indeed," said Briggs dreamily, for it was
his business to attend to the foreclosure of the
mortgage on the poet's house.
" Was you fixin' to go up an' see the place ? "
inquired the agent.
" Shall I be obliged to walk? "
" I guess you will if you can't flutter," re-
plied the agent. " I ain't got no wagon an' no
"How far is it?"
" Five mile, sir."
With a groan Mr. Briggs arose, lifted his
suit-case, and, walking to the platform's edge,
cast an agitated glance up the dusty road.
Then he turned around and examined the
single building in sight station, water-tower,
post-office and telegraph-office all in one, and
incidentally the abode of the station-agent,
whose duties included that of postmaster and
" I'll write a letter first," said Briggs. And
this is what he wrote :
ROSE-CROSS P. O.,
June 25 ', 1904.
DEAR WAYNE : Do you remember that tract
of land, adjoining your preserve, which you
attempted to buy four years ago ? It was held
by a crank community, and they refused to
sell, and made trouble for your patrols by
dumping dye-stuffs and sawdust into the Ash-
Well, the community has broken up, the
shops are in ruins, and there is nobody there
now except that bankrupt poet, Guilford. I
bought the mortgage for you, foreseeing a
slump in that sort of art, and I expect to
begin foreclosure proceedings and buy in the
tract, which, as you will recollect, includes
some fine game cover and the Ashton stream,
where you wanted to establish a hatchery.
This is a God-forsaken spot. I'm on my way
to the poet's now. Shall I begin foreclosure
proceedings and fire him? Wire me what to
Wayne received this letter two days later.
Preoccupied as he was in fitting out his
yacht for commission, he wired briefly, " Fire
poet," and dismissed the matter from his
The next day, grappling with the problem of
Japanese stewards and the decadence of all
sailormen, he received a telegram from
" Can't you manage to come up here ? "
Irritated, he telegraphed back :
" Impossible. Why don't you arrange to
fire poet ? " And Briggs replied : " Can't fire
poet. There are extenuating circumstances."
" Did you say exterminating or extenuat-
ing?" wired Wayne. "I said extenuating,"
Then the following telegrams were ex-
changed in order :
What are the extenuating circumstances?
Eight innocent children. Come up at once.
Boat in commission. Can't go. Why don't
you fix things? WAYNE.
How ? BRIGGS.
(Dated NEW LONDON.)
What on earth is the matter with you ? Are
you going to fix things and join me at Bar
Harbor or are you not? WAYNE.
As I don't know how you want me to fix
things, I can not join you. BRIGGS.
(Dated PORTLAND, MAINE.)
Stuyvesant Briggs, what the devil is the
matter with you? It's absolutely necessary
that I have the Ashton stream for a hatchery,
and you know it. What sort of a business
man are you, anyhow ? Of course I don't pro-
pose to treat that poet inhumanly. Arrange
to bid in the tract, run up the price against
your own bidding, and let the poet have a few
thousand if he is hard put. Don't worry me
any more ; I'm busy with a fool crew, and you
are spoiling my cruise by not joining me.
He won't do it. BRIGGS.
Who won't do -what? WAYNE.
Poet refuses to discuss the matter.
Fire that poet. You've spoiled my cruise
with your telegrams. WAYNE.
Look here, George Wayne, don't drive me
to desperation. You ought to come up and
face the situation yourself. I can't fire a poet
with eight helpless children, can I ? And
while I'm about it, let me inform you that
every time you telegraph me it costs me five
dollars for a carrier to bring the despatch over
from the station ; and every time I telegraph
you I am obliged to walk five miles to send
it and five miles back again. I'm mad all
through, and my shoes are worn out, and I'm
tired. Besides, I'm too busy to telegraph.
Do you expect me to stop my cruise and
travel up to that hole on account of eight
extenuating kids? WAYNE.
I do. BRIGGS.
lole 1 1
Are you mad? WAYNE.
Thoroughly. And extremely busy.
For the last time, Stuyve Briggs, are you
going to bounce one defaulting poet and prog-
eny, arrange to have survey and warnings
posted, order timber and troughs for hatchery,
engage extra patrol or are you not?
(Received a day later by Mr. Wayne.}
Are you coming? BRIGGS.
I'm coming to punch your head.
HEN George Wayne arrived at
Rose-Cross station, seaburnt,
angry, and in excellent athletic
condition, Briggs locked him-
self in the waiting-room and attempted to
calm the newcomer from the window.
" If you're going to pitch into me, George,"
he said, " I'm hanged if I come out, and you
can go to Guilford's alone."
" Come out of there," said Wayne danger-
" It isn't because I'm afraid of you," ex-
plained Briggs, "but it's merely that I don't
choose to present either you or myself to a lot
lole 1 3
of pretty girls with the marks of conflict all
over our eyes and noses."
At the words " pretty girls " Wayne's
battle-set features relaxed. He motioned to
the Pullman porter to deposit his luggage on
the empty platform; the melancholy bell-notes
of the locomotive sounded, the train moved
" Pretty girls ? " he repeated in a softer
voice. " Where are they staying? Of course,
under the circumstances a personal encounter
is superfluous. Where are they staying?"
" At Guilford's. I told you so in my tele-
grams, didn't I ? "
" No, you didn't. You spoke only of a poet
and his eight helpless children."
" Well, those girls are the eight children,"
retorted Briggs sullenly, emerging from the
"Do you mean to tell me "
" Yes, I do. They're his children, aren't
they even if they are girls, and pretty." He
offered a mollifying hand ; Wayne took it,
shook it uncertainly, and fell into step beside
his friend. " Eight pretty girls," he repeated
under his breath. " What did you do,
" What was I to do ? " inquired Briggs,
nervously worrying his short blond mustache.
" When I arrived here I had made up my
mind to fire the poet and arrange for the
hatchery and patrol. The farther I walked
through the dust of this accursed road, lug-
ging my suit-case as you are doing now, the
surer I was that I'd get rid of the poet without
mercy. But "
" Well ? " inquired Wayne, astonished.
" But when I'd trudged some five miles up
the stifling road I suddenly emerged into a
wonderful mountain meadow. I tell you,
George, it looked fresh and sweet as Heaven
after that dusty, parching tramp a moun-
tain meadow deep with mint and juicy green
grasses, and all cut up by little rushing
streams as cold as ice. There were a lot of
girls in pink sunbonnets picking wild straw-
berries in the middle distance," he added
thoughtfully. " It was picturesque, wasn't it ?
Come, now, George, wouldn't that give you
pause? eight girls in pink pajamas "
" And sunbonnets a sort of dress reform
of the poet's."
"Well?" inquired Wayne coldly.
" And there was the ' house beautiful/ mer-
cifully screened by woods," continued Briggs.
" He calls it the house beautiful, you know."
"Why not the beautiful house?" asked
Wayne, still more coldly.
" Oh, he gets everything upside down.
Guilford is harmless, you'll see." He began
to whistle Fatinitza softly. There was a si-
lence; then Wayne said:
" You interrupted your narrative."
"Where was I?"
" In the foreground with eight pink pajamas
in the middle distance."
" Oh, yes. So there I was, travel-worn,
thirsty, weary, uncertain "
" Cut it," observed Wayne.
" And a stranger," continued Briggs with
dignity, " in a strange country "
" Peculiarity of strangers."
Briggs took no notice. " I drank from the
cool springs; I lingered to pluck a delicious
berry or two, I bathed my hot face, I "
" Where," demanded Wayne, " were the
eight pink 'uns ? "
" Still in the middle distance. Don't inter-
rupt me, George; I'm slowly drawing closer
1 6 lole
" Well, get a move on," retorted Wayne
" I'm quite close to them now," explained
Briggs; " close enough to remove my hat and
smile and inquire the way to Guilford's. One
superb young creature, with creamy skin and
very red lips "
Wayne halted and set down his suit-case.
" I'm not romancing; you'll see," said
Briggs earnestly. " As I was saying, this
young goddess looked at me in the sweetest
way and said that Guilford was her father.
And, Wayne, do you know what she did?
She er came straight up to me and took
hold of my hand, and led me up the path
toward the high-art house, which is built of
cobblestones ! Think ! Built of cobble "
" Took you by the hand ? " repeated Wayne
" Oh, it was all right, George ! I found out
all about that sort of innocent thing later."
" Certainly. These girls have been brought
up like so many guileless speckled fawns out
here in the backwoods. You know all about
Guilford, the poet who's dead stuck on Nature
and simplicity. Well, that's the man and
lole 1 7
that's his pose. He hasn't any money, and
he won't work. His daughters raise vege-
tables, and he makes 'em wear bloomers, and
he writes about chippy-birds and the house
beautiful, and tells people to be natural, and
wishes that everybody could go around with-
out clothes and pick daisies "
" Do they?" demanded Wayne in an awful
voice. " You said they wore bloomers. Did
you say that to break the news more gently?
Did you ! "
" Of course they are clothed," explained his
friend querulously ; " though sometimes they
wade about without shoes and stockings and
do the nymph business. And, George, it's as-
tonishing how modest that sort of dress is.
And it's amazing how much they know.
Why, they can talk Greek talk it, mind you.
Every one of them can speak half a dozen lan-
guages Guilford is a corker on culture, you
know and they can play harps and pianos
and things, and give me thirty at tennis, even
Chlorippe, the twelve-year-old- "
" Is that her name ? " asked Wayne.
" Chlorippe ? Yes. That bat-headed poet
named all his children after butterflies. Let's
see," he continued, telling off the names on
1 8 lole
his fingers ; " there's Chlorippe, twelve ; Phil-
odice, thirteen ; Dione, fourteen ; Aphrodite,
fifteen ; Cybele, sixteen ; Lissa, seventeen ; lole,
eighteen, and Vanessa, nineteen. And,
Wayne, never have the Elysian fields con-
tained such a bunch of wholesome beauty
as that mountain meadow contains all day
Wayne, trudging along, suit-case firmly
gripped, turned a pair of suspicious eyes upon
" Of course," observed Briggs candidly, " I
simply couldn't foreclose on the father of such
children, could I ? Besides, he won't let me
discuss the subject."
" I'll investigate the matter personally," said
" Nowhere to lay their heads ! Think of it,
George. And all because a turtle-fed, claret-
flushed, idle and rich young man wants their
earthly Paradise for a fish-hatchery. Think
of it ! A pampered, turtle-fed "
" You've said that before," snapped Wayne.
" If you were half decent you'd help me with
this suit-case. Whew ! It's hot as Yonkers
on this cattle-trail you call a road. How near
are we to Guilford's ? "
An hour later Briggs said : " By the way,
George, what are you going to do about the
matter ? "
Wayne, flushed, dusty, perspiring, scowled
" The foreclosure/'
" I don't know ; how can I know until I
see Guilford ? "
" But you need the hatchery "
" I know it."
" But he won't let vou discuss it-
" If," said Wayne angrily, " you had spent
half the time talking business with the poet
that you spent picking strawberries with his
helpless children I should not now be lugging
this suit-case up this mountain. Decency re-
quires few observations from you just now."
" Pooh ! " said Briggs. " Wait till you see
" Why lole ? Why not Vanessa ? "
" Don't that's all," retorted Briggs, red-
Wayne plumped his valise down in the dust,
mopped his brow, folded his arms, and re-
garded Briggs between the eyes.
" You have the infernal cheek, after getting
me up here, to intimate that you have taken
the pick ? "
" I do," replied Briggs firmly. The two
young fellows faced each other.
" By the way/' observed Briggs casually,
" the stock they come from is as good if not
better than ours. This is a straight game."
" Do you mean to say that you you are
" Something like it. There ! Now you
" For Heaven's sake, Stuyve "
" Yes, for Heaven's sake and in Heaven's
name don't get any wrong ideas into your
" I tell you," said Briggs, " that I was never
closer to falling in love than I am to-day. And
I've been here just two weeks."
" Oh, Lord
" Amen," muttered Briggs. " Here, give
me your carpet-bag, you brute. We're on the
edge of Paradise."
EFORE we discuss my financial
difficulties," said the poet, lifting
his plump white hand and wav-
ing it in unctuous waves about
the veranda, " let me show you our home,
Mr. Wayne. May I ? "
" Certainly," said Wayne politely, following
Guilford into the house.
They entered a hall; there was absolutely
nothing in the hall except a small table on
which reposed a single daisy in a glass of
" Simplicity," breathed Guilford " a sin-
gle blossom against a background of nothing
at all. You follow me, Mr. Wayne? "
" Not exactly-
The poet smiled a large, tender smile, and,
with inverted thumb, executed a gesture as
though making several spots in the air.
" The concentration of composition," he
explained ; " the elimination of complexity ;
the isolation of the concrete in the center
of the abstract ; something in the midst of
nothing. It is a very precious thought, Mr.
" Certainly," muttered Wayne ; and they
" This," said the poet, " is what I call my
Wayne, not knowing what to say, sidled
around the walls. It was almost bare of fur-
niture ; what there was appeared to be of the
" I call my house the house beautiful," mur-
mured Guilford with his large, sweet smile.
" Beauty is simplicity ; beauty is unconscious-
ness ; beauty is the child of elimination. A
single fly in an empty room is beautiful to
me, Mr. Wayne."
" They carry germs," muttered Wayne, but
the poet did not hear him and led the way
to another enormous room, bare of everything
save for eight thick and very beautiful Kazak
rugs on the polished floor.
" My children's bedroom," he whispered
" You don't mean to say they sleep on those
Oriental rugs ! " stammered Wayne.
" They do/' murmured the poet. The ten-
der sweetness of his ample smile was over-
powering like too much bay rum after shav-
ing. " Sparta, Mr. Wayne, Sparta ! And the
result? My babes are perfect, physically,
spiritually. Elimination wrought the miracle ;
yonder they sleep, innocent as the Graces, with
all the windows open, clothed in moonlight or
starlight, as the astronomical conditions may
be. At the break of dawn they are afield,
simply clothed, free limbed, unhampered by
the tawdry harness of degenerate civilization.
And as they wander through the verdure,"
he added with rapt enthusiasm, " plucking
shy blossoms, gathering simples and herbs and
vegetables for our bountiful and natural re-
past, they sing as they go, and every tremu-
lous thrill of melody falls like balm on a fa-
ther's heart." The overpowering sweetness of
his smile drugged Wayne. Presently he edged
toward the door, and the poet followed, a