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ALBATROSS



A

BLACKADONIS




ALBERT ROSS



i






g&RTRANl
BOOK



THE

ALBATROSS NOVELS

By ALBERT ROSS
23 Volumes

May be had wherever books are sold at the price you
paid for this volume

Black Adonis, A
Garston Bigamy, The
Her Husband's Friend
His Foster Sister
His Private Character
In Stella's Shadow
Love at Seventy
Love Gone Astray
Moulding a Maiden
Naked Truth, The
New Sensation, A
Original Sinner, An
Out of Wedlock
Speaking of Ellen
Stranger Than Fiction
Sugar Princess, A
That Gay Deceiver
Their Marriage Bond
Thou Shalt Not
Thy Neighbor's Wife
Why I'm Single
Young Fawcett's Mabel
Young Miss Giddy

G. W. DILLINGHAM CO.
Publishers :: :: New York



A BLACK ADONIS.

BY ALBERT Ross.



AUTHOR OF

OUT o? WEDLOCK," "SPEAKING OF ELLIM,'

"THOU SHALT NOT," "WHY I'M SINGLE,"

" IjOVE AT SEVENTY," ETC., ETC.

" You set /" he answered, bitterly. "Be-
cause I am black I cannot touch the hand of
a woman that is white. And yet you say
the Almighty made of one blood all nations
tfthe earth '"Page 212.



NEW YORK:

owrnraHT, mi, tr a. w. BIU.MMMUL

G. W. Dillingham Co., Publishes.

\All rights rserotd.\



CONTENTS,



Chapter Pag

I. A Rejected Manuscript . . . i
II. " Was my story too bold ?" . .23

III. " Her feet were pink " . . . 35

IV. With Titian Tresses . ... 49
V. Studying Miss Millicent . . -65

VI. " How the women stare !" . . 79
VII. A Dinner at Midlands . -93

VIII. Holding Her Hand . ... 99

IX. "Daisy, my darling!" . . .no

X. " Oh, so many, many maids I" . . 121

XI. Archie Pays Attention . . . 136
XII. Dining at Isaac's .... 143

XIII. A Question of Color . . . .155

XIV. " Let us have a betrayal " . . .166

XV. The Green-Eyed Monster . . .177

XVI. " I've had such luck !" ... 190
XVII. A Burglar in the House . . .198

XVIII. Black and White . . . .204

XIX. " Play out your farce " . . .215
XX. Like a Stuck Pig .... 226
XXI. " We want Millie to understand " . 238



2061962



Chapter

XXII. Where Was Daisy ? . . . .246

XXIII. An Awful Night 354

XXIV. " This ends it, then ?" . . . 263
XXV. An Undiscove'.able Secret . . . 275

XXVI. " I played, and I lost " . . . .28*

XXVII. Absolutely Blameless . . . .29*

XXVIII. Trapping a W?! . . . .301

XXIX. " The Greatest Novel " . . 39



TO MY READERS.



I do not know how better to use the space that
the printer always leaves me in this part of the book
than to redeem the promise I made at the end of my
last novel, and tell you in a few words what became
of Blanche Brixton Fantelli and her husband.

But, do you really need to be told ?

Could they have done anything else than live in
connubial felicity, after the man had proved himself
so noble and the woman had learned to appreciate
him at his true worth ?

Well, whether they could or not, they didn't.
Blanche is the happiest of wedded wives. She still
holds to her theory that marriage is based on wrong
principles, and that the contract as ordinarily made
is frightfully immoral ; but she says if all men were
like " her Jules " there would be no trouble.

In this she proves herself essentially feminine. She
is learning, albeit a little late, that man was not
made to live alone, and that the love a mother feels
for her child is not the only one that brings joy to a
woman's breast.

Fantelli does not claim that Blanche is his prop-
erty. He is her lover still, even though he has



Vil TO MT READEB8.

gained the law's permission to be her master. He
recognizes that she has rights in herself that are in-
violable. This is why they live together so content-
edly. She would not be his mate on any other
terms.

If it is not the ideal existence, it is very near it.
As near as a man and woman who care for the
world's opinion can live it in these days.

And now, with heartfelt thanks for the continued
favor of the reading public, which I am conscious is.
far beyond my desert, I bid a temporary farewell to
American shores. By the time this book is on the
shelves of the dealers I shall be on European soil,
there to remain, I trust, for the better part of a year.
Wherever I am, my thoughts will always turn to you
who have made these journeys possible, and there as
here my pen will continue devoted to your service.

ALBERT ROSS.
Cambridge, Mass.,
June i, 1895,



A BLACK ADONIS.



CHAPTER I.

A REJECTED MANUSCRIPT.

**A letter for Mr. Roseleaf," he heard his landlady
say to the chambermaid. And he was quite pre-
pared to hear the girl reply, in a tone of surprise :

" For Mr. Roseleaf ! This is the first letter he
has had since he came."

The young man referred to stood just within his
chamber door, waiting with some anxiety for the
letter to be brought to him. He was about twenty
years of age, of medium height, with rather dark
complexion, curling hair and expressive eyes, and
with a natural delicacy of manner that made him
seem almost feminine at first view.

He had the greatest possible interest in the letter
that the postman had just brought, but he was far
too polite to disturb the landlady or her servant,
who were not yet through with it.

"You can see that it is from a publishing house."

[9 1



10 A BLtOK ADOITIf .

commented Mrs. Ranning, inspecting the envelope
with care. " It is from Cutt & Slashem, who bring
out more novels than any other firm in the city. I
told you he was some kind of a writer. Perhaps
they are going to publish a book for him ! If they
do he will leave us for finer quarters. Novelists
make a mint of money, I have heard. We must do
our best to keep him as long as we can. Be very
polite to him, Nellie. He appears to be an excellent
young man."

Shirley Roseleaf s anxiety to get possession of his
letter was not lessened by this conversation. It
seemed as if his entire future hung on the contents
of that envelope tarrying so long in Nellie's hands.
The great publishers, Cutt & Slashem, had had a
manuscript of his in their hands for nearly a fort-
night. When they had definitely accepted it, his
path would be perfectly clear. If they rejected it
but he had not got so far as that.

The manuscript was a romance a romance of
love ! Its author had spent a great deal of time
upon it. He had rewritten it with care, and finally
made a neat copy, of which he was very proud.
Then he had thought a long time over the question
of a publishing firm. Cutt & Slashem stood at the
top of their profession, and they finally received the
preference. With the MSS. Roseleaf sent a pretty
note, in which lie included a delicate compliment on
their success. The MSS. and the note were arranged
tastefully in a neat white package and tied with pink
twine.

After all of these precautions it is no wonder that



A WEOTBD 1CAOT80RXFT. 11

the novelist felt surprise when days passed and no
reply was sent to him. But never at any time was
he discouraged. Had they intended to reject the
novel, he reasoned, they could as easily have done
so in three days as ten.

He pictured the members of the firm hugging
themselves over their good fortune, passing the
manuscript from one to the other, all eager for a
taste of such a marvelous work. He did not think
it egotism to believe they did not get stories like
that every day.

His thoughts flew rapidly as Nellie slowly climbed
the stairs. Now he would be famous, he would be
courted, he would be envied ! He would also be
very, very rich, though that was not of so much
account.

As Nellie handed him the letter he responded to
her pleasant smile with one of his own, and even
pressed a twenty-five cent piece into her hand. Then
he closed his door behind him, bolting it in his
eagerness to be alone. The morning was foggy, and
he sank into a chair by the window, the only part of
the room where he could see to read distinctly.

There was an attraction about the envelope. It
was light buff in color, bearing the address of Cutt
& Slashem in large letter on one side of the front
face, besides the names of several of the most famous
authors whose publishers the firm had the happiness
to be.

" Shirley Roseleaf !" It would not look so badly
in print.

So lost was he in the pleasant pictures which



13 A BLACK ADONIS.

these thoughts conjured up that it was some
minutes before he tore open the envelope. Then his
astounded eyes rested upon these lines :

" Messrs. Cutt & Slashem regret to be obliged to decline
with thanks the MSS.of M. Shirley Roseleaf, and request to
be informed what disposition he desires made of the same.**

Roseleaf read this dizzily. For some moments he
could not understand what that sentence meant.
"Obliged to decline" was plain enough; but his
confused mind found some grains of comfort in the
request of the firm to know what he wished done
with his manuscript. They must, he reasoned, con-
sider it of value, or they would not respond in that
courteous manner. Still, he could not comprehend
how they had had the asininity to "decline" it
at all.

Were they unwilling to add another star to their
galaxy ?

Could they actually have read the tale ?

A firm of their reputation, too !

When Roseleaf emerged from his temporary stupor
it was into a state of great indignation. Why, the
men were fools ! He wished heartily he had never
gone to them. They would yet see the day when,
with tears in their eyes, they would regret their lack
of judgment. His first act should be to go to their
office and express his opinion of their stupidity, and
then he would take his MSS. to some rival house.
And never, never in the world after he had become
famous, and when every publisher on both sides of



A. BBJEOTED MANUSCRIPT. 13

th Atlantic were besieging him never, he said,
should these ignorant fellows get a scrap of his writ-
ing, not even if they offered its weight in gold !

He was too excited for delay, and donning his hat,
he took his way with all speed to Cutt & Slashem's
office. At that instant he had more faith in his
novel than ever. As he walked rapidly along he
compared it with some of the stories issued by the
firm that had rejected it, to the great disadvantage
of the latter.

" I wish to see Mr. Cutt or Mr. Slashem," he said,
imperiously, as he entered the counting room.

" Both are in," said the office boy, imperturbably,
** Which will you have ?'*

" I will see them together.**

Had they been tigers, fresh from an Indian jungle,
it would have made no difference to him.

The boy asked for his card, vanished with it,
returned and bade him follow. Up a flight of stairs
they went, then to the left, then to the right, then
across a little hall. A door with the name of the
house and the additional word *' Private " loomed
before them.

" Come in !'* was heard in response to the knock
of the office boy.

Roseleaf entered, something slower than a cannon
ball, and yet considerably faster than a snail. The
two principal members of the firm were sitting
together, with lighted cigars in their mouths, exam-
ining a lot of paper samples that lay upon a table.
They did no more at first than glance up and nod,



14 A BLACK ADONIS.

not having finished the business upon which they
were engaged.

" Is it any better than the last ?" asked Mr. Slashem,
referring to the sample his partner was examining.

" It's just as good, at least," was the answer. " And
an eighth of a cent a pound less. I think we had bet-
ter order five hundred reams."

" Five hundred reams," repeated the other, slowly,
making a memorandum in a little book that he car-
ried. " And the other lot we'll wait about, eh ?
Paper is not very steady. It's gone off a sixteenth
since Thursday."

This conversation only served to infuriate still more
the visitor who stood waiting to pour out his wrath.
Were these men wasting time over fractions of a cent
in the price of stock, just after they had rejected one
of the greatest romances of modern times !

With the precision of a duplex machine both part-
ners finally looked up from the table at the young
man.

' Mr. Shirley Roseleaf ?" said Mr. Slashem, inter-
rogatively, glancing at the card that the office boy
had brought.

" Yes, sir !" was the sharp and disdainful reply.

" We need nothing in your line," interrupted Mr.
Cutt. " I suppose Mr. Trimm has our other order
well under way ?"

The look of indignant protest that appeared in
Roseleaf's face caused Mr. Slashem to speak.

"This is not Mr. Roseberg," he explained. " My
partner took you for an agent of our bookbinder," he
added.



A REJECTED xAvrrtoBirr. 15

The novelist thought his skin would burst.

"I am quite complimented," he said, in an icy
tone. "Let me introduce myself. I am the author
of ' Evelyn's Faith/ "

The partners consulted each other.

" The similarity of names confused me," said Mr.
Cutt. "Is your book one that we have published ?'

Saints and angels !

"It is one that was sent to you for publication,"
replied Roseleaf, with much heat, "and has been
returned this morning rejected!^

"Ah!" said Mr. Cutt.

** We have nothing to do with that department,*
said Mr. Slashem, coming to the rescue. "You
should see Mr. Gouger, on the second floor above ;
though if he has rejected your story a visit would bo
quite useless. He never decides a matter without
sufficient reason."

" Oh, dear, no !" added Mr. Cutt, feeling again of
the paper samples.

Shirley Roseleaf listened with wild incredulity.

" Do you mean to tell me," he said, " that you, the
members of the firm of Cutt & Slashem, have rejected
my story without even reading it ?"

The partners glanced at each other again.

" We never read books," said Mr. Cutt.

Never," said Mr. Slashem, kindly. " We have
things much more important to attend to. We pay
Mr. Gouger a large salary. Why, my young friend,
there are probably a dozen manuscripts received at
our office every week. If we were to try to rtad



16 J. BLACK AD02H8.

them, who do yon think would attend to the usential
points of our business ?'*

Roseleafs contempt for the concern was increasing
at lightning speed. He did not care to mince his
words, for it could make no difference now.

" I should imagine that the selection of the books
you are to print would be at least as important as
the paper you are to use," he retorted.

Mr. Cutt looked at him in great astonishment.

" You are much mistaken," said he.

" Entirely mistaken," confirmed Mr. Slashem.

The author had no desire to remain longer, as it
was evident he was losing his temper to no purpose.
If it was Mr. Gouger who had rejected his work, it
was Mr. Gouger that he must see.

Bowing with ironical grace to the examiners of
printing paper, he took leave of them, and mounted
to the sanctum of the man who he had been told was
the arbiter of his fate. A girl with soiled hands
pointed out the room, for there was nothing to indi-
cate it upon the dingy panel of the door ; and
presently Roseleaf stood in the presence of the indi-
vidual he believed at that moment his worst enemy.

There were two men in the room. One of them
indicated with a motion of his hand that the other
was the one wanted, and with a second motion that
the caller might be seated. Mr. Gouger was partly
hidden behind a desk, engaged in turning over a
heap of manuscript, and it appeared from the man-
ner of his companion that he did not wish to be
disturbed.

Somewhat cooled down by this state of affairs,



A REJECTED 1CAVU8GRXPT. 17

the young novelist took the chair indicated and
waited several minutes.

" What d d nonsense they are sending me these
days !" exclaimed Mr. Gouger at last, thrusting the
sheets he had been scanning back into the wrapper
in which they had come, without, however, raising
his eyes from his desk. " Out of a hundred stories
I read, not three are fit to build a fire with ! This
thing is written by a girl who ought to take a term
in a grammar school. She has no more idea of
syntax than a lapdog. Her father writes that he is
willing to pay a reasonable sum to have it brought
out. Why, Cutt & Slashem couldn't afford to put
their imprint on that rot for fifty thousand doL
lars !"

He had finished saying this before he learned that
a third person was in the room. Upon making this
discovery he lowered his voice, as if regretting hav-
ing exhibited too great warmth before a stranger.
The novelist rose and handed him a card, and as
Mr. Gouger glanced at the name a gleam of recogni-
tion lit up his face.

" I am glad to see you, Mr. Roseleaf," he said.
" I had half a notion to ask you to call, when I felt
obliged to send you that note yesterday. There are
several things I would like to say to you. Archie,
perhaps you would let us have the room for a fevf
minutes."

Tfie last remark was addressed familiarly to the
man who occupied the third chair, and who looked
so disheartened at the prospect of having to rise



18 A BLACK

therefrom that Roseleaf hastened to express a hope
that he would not do so on his account.

"Very well," said Mr. Gouger, abruptly. "You
heard what I said about this copy I have just read,
though it was not my intention that you should. I
supposed I was talkingonly to Mr. Weil, who is not
in the profession and does not expect to be. Now,
let me say at once, Mr. Roseleaf, that your contribu-
tion is not open to any of the objections I have
cited. You have evidently been well educated. Your
English is pure and forcible. It is a real delight
to read your pages. Every line shows the greatest
care in construction. I did with your story what
I have not done with another for a long time I read
it through. Why then did I reject it ?"

The question was too great for the one most inter-
ested to answer, but in the glow of pleasure that the
compliment brought he forgot for the moment his
bitter feelings.

" Possibly," he suggested, " Cutt & Slashem have
more novels on hand than they feel like producing at
present."

" No," responded Mr. Gouger, disposing of that
theory in one breath. " A house like ours would
never reject a really desirable manuscript. If you
will reflect that only one or two of this description
are produced each year you will the more readily
understand me. Your story has a cardinal fault for
which no excellence of style or finish can compen*
sate. Shall I tell you what it is, and before this gen-
tleman ?"



A KUEOTED MANUSCRIPT. 19

He indicated Mr. Wefl as he spoke. Roseleaf's
heart sank. For the first time he felt a deadly fear.

" Tell me, by all means," he responded, faintly.

Mr. Gouger's face bore its gentlest expression at
that moment. He was taking valuable time, time
that belonged to his employers, to say something
that must temporarily disappoint, though in the end
it might benefit his hearer.

" Let me repeat," he said, " that your work is well
written, and that I have read it with the greatest
interest. Its fault an insuperable one is that it
lacks fidelity to nature. Mr. Roseleaf, I think I could
gauge your past life with tolerable accuracy merely
from what that manuscript reveals."

The novelist shook his head. There was not a line
of autobiography in those pages, and he told his
critic so.

" Oh, I understand," replied Mr. Gouger. " But
this I have learned : Your life has been marvelously
colorless. Yet, in spite of that, you have undertaken
to write of things of which you know nothing, and
about which, I may add, you have made very poor
guesses."

Mr. Weil, leaning back in his chair, began to show
a decided interest. Mr. Roseleaf, sitting upright, in
an attitude of strained attention, inquired what Mr.
Gouger meant.

" Well, for instance, this,'* responded the critic :
"You attempt to depict the sensations of love,
though you have never had a passion. Can you
expect to know how it feels to hold a beautiful girl in
your arms, when you never had one there ? You put



20 A BLACK ADONIS.

words of temptation into the mouth of your villain
which no real scamp would think of using, for their
only effect would be to alarm your heroine. You
talk of a planned seduction as if it were part of an
oratorio. And you make your hero so superlatively
pure and sweet that no woman formed of flesh and
blood could endure him for an hour."

The color mounted to Roseleaf's face. He felt
that this criticism was not without foundation. But
presently he rallied, and asked if it were necessary
for a man to experience every sensation before he
dared write about them.

" Do you suppose," he asked, desperately, ** that
Jules Verne ever traveled sixty thousand leagues
under the sea or made a journey to the moon ?"

Mr. Weil could not help uttering a little laugh.
Mr. Gouger struck his hands together and clinched
them.

" No," said he. " But he could have written
neither of those wonderful tales without a knowl-
edge of the sciences of which they treat."

" He has read, and I have read," responded Rose-
leaf. " What is the difference ?"

" He has studied, and you have not," retorted the
critic. " That makes all the difference in the world.
He has a correct idea of the structure of the moon
and what should be found in the unexplored caverns
of the ocean ; while you, in total ignorance, have
attempted to deal in a science to which these are the
merest bagatelles ! You know as little of the tides
that control the heart of a girl as you do of the per-
sonal history of the inhabitants of Jupiter ! Your



A REJECTED MAiNUSCKU>T. 21

powers of description are good ; those of invention
feeble. Either throw yourself into a love affair, till
you have learned it root and branch, or never again
try to depict one."

Mr. Archie Weil smiled and nodded, as if he en-
tirely agreed with the speaker.

" What a novel / could make, my dear fellow !"
he exclaimed, " if I only had the talent. I have had
experiences enough, but I could no more write them
out than I could fly."

"It is quite as well," was the response, "your
women would all be Messalinas and fiction has too
many now."

" Not all of them, Lawrence," was the quick and
meaning reply.

" In that case," said Gouger, " I wish heartily you
could write. The world is famishing for a real
love story, based on modern lines, brought up to
date. I tell you, there has been nothing satisfactory
in that line since Goethe's day."

Mr. Weil suggested Balzac and Sand.

" Why don't you include George William Rey-
nolds ?" inquired Gouger, with a sneer. " Neither
of them wrote until they were depraved by contract
with humanity. If we could get a young man of
true literary talent to see life and write of it as he
went along, what might we not secure ? But I have
no more time to spare, Mr. Roseleaf. I was sorry
to be obliged to reject your story. Some day, when
you have seen just a little of the world, begin again
on the lines I have outlined, and come here with the
result."



S3 A BLACK APOKIt.

Quite dispirited, now that the last plank had
slipped from under him, the novelist walked slowly
down the stairs. He did not even ask for his manu-
script. After what he had heard, it did not seem
worth carrying to his lodgings. His plans were
shipwrecked. Instead of the fame and fortune he
had hoped for, he felt the most bitter disappoint-
ment. All his bright dreams had vanished.

A step behind him quicker than his own, made
him aware that some one was following him, and
presently a voice called his name. It was Mr.
Archie Weil, who had put himself to unusual exer-
tion, and required some seconds to recover his
breath before he could speak further.

" I want you to come over to my hotel and have a
little talk with me," he said. " Gouger has inter-
ested me in you immensely. I believe, as he says,
that you have the making of a distinguished author,
and I want to arrange a plan by which you can carry
out his scheme."

Mr. Roseleaf stared doubtfully at his companion.

" What scheme ?" he said, briefly.

" Why, of imparting to you that knowledge of the
world which will enable you to draw truthful por-
traits. You have the art, he says, the talent, the
capacity whatever you choose to call it. All you
lack is experience. Given that, you would make
a reputation second to none. What can be plainer
than that you should acquire the thing you need
without delay ?"

" The ' thing I need* ?" repeated Roseleaf, dole-
fully.



"WAS MY BTOBT TOO BOLD?" 23

Mr. Weil laughed, delightfully.

" Yes !" he explained. " What you need is a friend
able to interest you, to begin with. Pardon me if i
say I may be described by that phrase. Come to
my hotel a little while and let us talk it over."

It was not an opportunity to be refused, in Rose-
leaf's depressed condition, and the two men walked


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