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The Cup of Fury - A Novel of Cities and Shipyards
by Rupert Hughes
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"In the name of Heaven, why?"

"In the name of hades, because we've got to get a herd of railroad locomotives to France, and sending them over in pieces won't do. They want 'em ready to run. So the powers that be have ordered me to provide two hatchways big enough to lower whole locomotives through, and pigeonholes in the hold big enough to carry them. As far as the Mamise is concerned, that means we've just about got to rub it out and do it over again. It's a case of back to the mold-loft for Mamise."

"And about how much more delay will this mean?"

"Oh, about ninety days or thereabouts. If we're lucky we'll launch her by spring."

This was almost worse than the death of the Clara. That tragedy had been noble; it dealt a noble blow and woke the heart to a noble grief and courage. But deferment made the heart sick, and the brain and almost the stomach.

Davidge liked the disappointment no better than Mamise did, but he was used to it.

"And now aren't you glad you're not a ship-builder? How would you feel if you had got your wish to work in the yard and had turned your little velvet hands into a pair of nutmeg-graters by driving about ten thousand rivets into those plates, only to have to cut 'em all out again and drive 'em into an entirely new set of plates, knowing that maybe they'd have to come out another time and go back? How'd you like that?"

Mamise lifted her shoulders and let them fall.

Davidge went on:

"That's a business man's life, my dear—eternally making things that won't sell, putting his soul and his capital and his preparation into a pile of stock that nobody will take off his hands. But he has to go right on, borrowing money and pledging the past for the future and never knowing whether his dreams will turn out to be dollars or—junk!"

Mamise realized for the first time the pathos, the higher drama of the manufacturer's world, that world which poets and some other literary artists do not describe because they are too ignorant, too petty, too bookish. They sneer at the noble word commercial as if it were a reproach!

Mamise, however, looked on Davidge in his swivel-chair as a kind of despondent demigod, a Titan weary of the eternal strife. She tried to rise beyond a poetical height to the clouds of the practical.

"What will you do with all the workmen who are on that job?"

Davidge grinned. "They're announcing their monthly strike for higher wages—threatening to lay off the force. It'd serve 'em right to take 'em at their word for a while. But you simply can't fight a labor union according to Queensbery rules, so I'll give 'em the raise and put 'em on another ship."

"And the Mamise will be idle and neglected for three months."

"Just about."

"The Germans couldn't have done much worse by her, could they?"

"Not much."

"I think I'll call it a day and go home," said Mamise.

"Better call it a quarter and go to New York or Palm Beach or somewhere where there's a little gaiety."

"Are you sick of seeing me round?"

"Since you won't marry me—yes."

Mamise sniffed at this and set her little desk in order, aligned the pencils in the tray, put the carbons back in the box and the rubber cover on the typewriter. Then she sank it into its well and put on her hat.

Davidge held her heavy coat for her and could not resist the opportunity to fold her into his arms. Just as his arms closed about her and he opened his lips to beg her not to desert him he saw over her shoulder the door opening.

He had barely time to release her and pretend to be still holding her coat when Miss Gabus entered. His elaborate guiltlessness confirmed her bitterest suspicions, and she crossed the room to deposit a sheaf of letters in Davidge's "in" basket and gather up the letters in his "out" basket. She passed across the stage with an effect of absolute refrigeration, like one of Richard III's ghosts.

Davidge was furious at Miss Gabus and himself. Mamise was furious at them both—partly for the awkwardness of the incident, partly for the failure of Davidge's enterprise against her lips.

When Miss Gabus was gone the ecstatic momentum was lost. Davidge grumbled:

"Shall I see you to-morrow?"

"I don't know," said Mamise.

She gave him her hand. He pressed it in his two palms and shook his head. She shook her head. They were both rebuking the bad behavior of the fates.

Mamise trudged homeward—or at least houseward. She was in another of her irresolute states, and irresolution is the most disappointing of all the moods to the irresolute ones and all the neighbors. It was irresolution that made "Hamlet" a five-act play, and only a Shakespeare could have kept him endurable.

Mamise was becoming unendurable to herself. When she got to her cottage she found it as dismal as an empty ice-box. When she had started the fire going she had nothing else to do. In sheer desperation she decided to answer a few letters. There was an old one from Polly Widdicombe. She read it again. It contained the usual invitation to come back to reason and Washington.

Just for something positive to do she resolved to go. There was a tonic in the mere act of decision. She wrote a letter. She felt that she could not wait so long as its answer would require. She resolved to send a telegram.

This meant hustling out into the cold again, but it was something to do, somewhere to go, some excuse for a hope.

Polly telegraphed:

Come without fail dying to see you bring along a scuttle of coal if you can.

Mamise showed Davidge the telegram. He was very plucky about letting her go. For her sake he was so glad that he concealed his own loneliness. That made her underestimate it. He confirmed her belief that he was glad to be rid of her by making a lark of her departure. He filled an old suit-case with coal and insisted on her taking it. The porter who lugged it along the platform at Washington gave Mamise a curious look. He supposed that this was one of those suit-cases full of bottled goods that were coming into Washington in such multitudes since the town had been decreed absolutely dry. He shook it and was surprised when he failed to hear the glug-glug of liquor.

But Polly welcomed the suit-case as if it had been full of that other form of carbon which women wear in rings and necklaces. The whole country was underheated. To the wheatless, meatless, sweetless days there were added the heatless months. Major Widdicombe took his breakfasts standing up in his overcoat. Polly and Mamise had theirs in bed, and the maids that brought it wore their heaviest clothes.

There were long lines of petitioners all day at the offices of the Fuel Administration. But it did little good. All the shops and theaters were kept shut on Mondays. Country clubs were closed. Every device to save a lump of coal was put into legal effect so that the necessary war factories might run and the ships go over the sea. Soon there would be gasoleneless Sundays by request, and all the people would obey. Bills of fare at home and at hotel would be regulated by law. Restaurants would be fined for serving more than one meat to one person. Grocers would be fined for selling too much sugar to a family. Placards, great billboards, and all the newspapers were filled with counsels to save, save, save, and buy, buy, buy Bonds, Bonds, Bonds. People grew depressed at all this effort, all this sacrifice with so little show of accomplishment.

American troops, except a pitiful few, were still in America and apparently doomed to stay. This could easily be proved by mathematics, for there were not ships enough to carry them and their supplies. The Germans were building up reserves in France, and they had every advantage of inner lines. They could hurl an avalanche of men at any one of a hundred points of the thin Allied line almost without warning, and wherever they struck the line would split before the reserves could be rushed up to the crevasse. And once through, what could stop them? Indeed, the whisper went about that the Allies had no reserves worth the name. France and England were literally "all in."

Success and the hope of success did not make the Germans meek. They credited God with a share in their achievement and pinned an Iron Cross on Him, but they kept mortgaging His resources for the future. Those who had protested that the war had been forced on a peaceful Germany and that her majestic fight was all in self-defense came out now to confess—or rather to boast—that they had planned this triumph all along; for thirty years they had built and drilled and stored up reserves. And now they were about to sweep the world and make it a German planet.

The peaceful Kaiser admitted that he had toiled for this approaching day of glory. His war-weary, hunger-pinched subjects were whipped up to further endurance by a brandy of fiery promises, the prospects of incalculable loot, vast colonies, mountains of food, and indemnities sky-high. They were told to be glad that America had come into the war openly at last, so that her untouched treasure-chest could pay the bills.

In the whole history of chicken-computation there were probably never so many fowls counted before they were hatched—and in the final outcome never such a crackling and such a stench of rotten eggs.

But no one in those drear days was mad enough to see the outcome. The strategical experts protested against the wasteful "side-shows" in Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Saloniki, and the taking of Jerusalem was counted merely a pretty bit of Christmas shopping that could not weigh against the fall of Kerensky, the end of Russian resistance in the Bolshevik upheaval, and the Italian stampede down their own mountainsides.

Of all the optimists crazy enough to prophesy a speedy German collapse, no one put his finger on Bulgaria as the first to break.

So sublime, indeed, was the German confidence that many in America who had been driven to cover because of their Teutonic activities before America entered the war began to dream that they, too, would reap a great reward for their martyrdom on behalf of the Fatherland.

The premonition of the dawning of Der Tag stirred the heart of Nicky Easton, of course. He had led for months the life of a fox in a hunt-club county. Every time he put his head out he heard the bay of the hounds. He had stolen very few chickens, and he expected every moment to be pounced on. But now that he felt assured of a German triumph in a little while, he began to think of the future. His heart turned again to Mamise.

His life of hiding and stealing about from place to place had compelled him to a more ascetic existence than he had been used to. His German accent did not help him, and he had found that even those heavy persons known as light women, though they had no other virtue, had patriotism enough to greet his advances with fierce hostility. His dialect insulted those who had relinquished the privilege of being insulted, and they would not soil their open palms with German-stained money.

In his alliance with Jake Nuddle for the blowing up of the Clara, and their later communications looking toward the destruction of other ships, he kept informed of Mamise. He always asked Jake about her. He was bitterly depressed by the news that she was "sweet on" Davidge. He was exultant when he learned from Jake that she had given up her work in the office and had gone to Washington. Jake learned her address from Abbie, and passed it on to Nicky.

Nicky was tempted to steal into Washington and surprise her. But enemy aliens were forbidden to visit the capital, and he was afraid to go by train. He had wild visions of motoring thither and luring her to a ride with him. He wanted to kidnap her. He might force her to marry him by threatening to kill her and himself. At least he might make her his after the classic manner of his fellow-countrymen in Belgium. But he had not force enough to carry out anything so masterful. He was a sentimental German, not a warrior.

In his more emotional moods he began to feel a prophetic sorrow for Marie Louise after the Germans had conquered the world. She would be regarded as a traitress. She had been adopted by Sir Joseph Webling and had helped him, only to abandon the cause and go over to the enemy.

If Nicky could convert her again to loyalty, persuade her to do some brave deed for the Fatherland in redemption of her blacksliding, then when Der Tag came he could reveal what she had done. When in that resurrection day the graves opened and all the good German spies and propagandists came forth to be crowned by Gott and the Kaiser, Nicky could lead Marie Louise to the dual throne, and, describing her reconciliation to the cause, claim her as his bride. And the Kaiser would say, "Ende gut, alles gut!"

Never a missionary felt more sanctity in offering salvation to a lost soul by way of repentance than Nicky felt when he went to the house of an American friend and had Mamise called on the long-distance telephone.

Mamise answered, "Yes, this is Miss Webling," to the faint-voiced long-distance operator, and was told to hold the wire. She heard: "All ready with Washington. Go ahead." Then she heard a timid query:

"Hallow, hallow! Iss this Miss Vapelink?"

She was shocked at the familiar dialect. She answered:

"This is Miss Webling, yes. Who is it?"

"You don'd know my woice?"

"Yes—yes. I know you—"

"Pleass to say no names."

"Where are you?"

"In Philadelphia."

"All right. What do you want?"

"To see you."

"You evidently know my address."

"You know I cannot come by Vashington."

"Then how can I see you?"

"You could meet me some place, yes?"

"Certainly not."

"It is important, most important."

"To whom?"

"To you—only to you. It is for your sake."

She laughed at this; yet it set her curiosity on fire, as he hoped it would. He could almost hear her pondering. But what she asked was:

"How did you find my address?"

"From Chake—Chake Nuttle."

He could not see the wild look that threw her eyes and lips wide. She had never dreamed of such an acquaintance. The mere possibility of it set her brain whirling. It seemed to explain many things, explain them with a horrible clarity. She dared not reveal her suspicions to Nicky. She said nothing till she heard him speak again:

"Vell, you come, yes?"

"Where?"

"You could come here best?"

"No, it's too far."

"By Baltimore we could meet once?"

"All right. Where? When?"

"To-morrow. I do not know Baltimore good. Ve could take ride by automobile and talk so. Yes?"

"All right." This a little anxiously.

"To-morrow evening. I remember it is a train gets there from Vashington about eight. I meet you. Make sure nobody sees you take that train, yes?"

"Yes."

"You know people follow people sometimes."

"Yes."

"I trust you alvays, Marie Louise."

"All right. Good-by."

"Goot-py, Marie Louise."



CHAPTER II

While Mamise was talking her telephone ear had suffered several sharp and painful rasps, as if angry rattlesnakes had wakened in the receiver.

The moment she put it up the bell rang. Supposing that Nicky had some postscript to add, she lifted the receiver again. Her ear was as bewildered as your tongue when it expects to taste one thing and tastes another, for it was Davidge's voice that spoke, asking for her. She called him by name, and he growled:

"Good Lord! is that you? Who was the fascinating stranger who kept me waiting so long?"

"Don't you wish you knew?" she laughed. "Where are you now? At the shipyard?"

"No, I'm in Washington—ran up on business. Can I see you to-night?"

"I hope so—unless we're going out—as I believe we are. Hold the wire, won't you, while I ask." She came back in due season to say, "Polly says you are to come to dinner and go to a dance with us afterward."

"A dance? I'm not invited."

"It's a kind of club affair at a hotel. Polly has the right to take you—no end of big bugs will be there."

"I'm rusty on dancing, but with you—"

"Thanks. We'll expect you, then. Dinner is at eight. Wrap up well. It's cold, isn't it?"

He thought it divine of her to think of his comfort. The thought of her in his arms dancing set his heart to rioting. He was singing as he dressed, and as he rode put to Grinden Hall, singing a specimen of the new musical insanity known as "jazz"—so pestilential a music that even the fiddlers capered and writhed.

The Potomac was full of tumultuous ice, and the old Rosslyn bridge squealed with cold under the motor. It was good to see the lights of the Hall at last, and to thaw himself out at the huge fireplace.

"Lucky to get a little wood," said Major Widdicombe. "Don't know what we'll do when it's gone. Coal is next to impossible."

Then the women came down, Polly and Mamise and two or three other house guests, and some wives of important people. They laid off their wraps and then decided to keep them on.

Davidge had been so used to seeing Mamise as a plainly clad, discouraged office-hack that when she descended the stairs and paused on the landing a few steps from the floor, to lift her eyebrows and her lip-corners at him, he was glad of the pause.

"Break it to me gently," he called across the balustrade.

She descended the rest of the way and advanced, revealed in her complete height and all her radiant vesture. He was dazed by her unimagined splendor.

As she gave him her hand and collected with her eyes the tribute in his, she said:

"Break what to you gently?"

"You!" he groaned. "Good Lord! Talk about 'the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome'!"

With amiable reciprocity she returned him a compliment on his evening finery.

"The same to you and many of them. You are quite stunning in decollete. For a pair of common laborers, we are certainly gaudy."

Polly came up and greeted Davidge with, "So you're the fascinating brute that keeps Marie Louise down in the penitentiary of that awful ship-factory."

Davidge indicated her brilliance and answered: "Never again. She's fired! We can't afford her."

"Bully for you," said Polly. "I suppose I'm an old-fashioned, grandmotherly sort of person, but I'll be damned if I can see why a woman that can look as gorgeous as Marie Louise here should be pounding typewriter keys in an office. Of course, if she had to— But even then, I should say that it would be her solemn religious duty to sell her soul for a lot of glad-rags.

"A lot of people are predicting that women will never go back to the foolish frills and furbelows of before the war; but—well, I'm no prophetess, but all I can say is that if this war puts an end to the dressmaker's art, it will certainly put civilization on the blink. Now, honestly, what could a woman accomplish in the world if she worked in overalls twenty-four hours a day for twenty-four years—what could she make that would be more worth while than getting herself all dressed up and looking her best?"

Davidge said: "You're talking like a French aristocrat before the Revolution; but I wish you could convince her of it."

Mamise was trying to take her triumph casually, but she was thrilled, thrilled with the supreme pride of a woman in her best clothes—in and out of her best clothes, and liberally illuminated with jewelry. She was now something like a great singer singing the highest note of her master-aria in her best role—herself at once the perfect instrument and the perfect artist.

Marie Louise went in on Davidge's arm. The dining-room was in gala attire, the best silver and all of it out—flowers and candles. But the big vault was cold; the men shivered and marveled at the women, who left their wraps on the backs of their chairs and sat up in no apparent discomfort with shoulders, backs, chests, and arms naked to the chill.

Polly was moved to explain to the great folk present just who Mamise was. She celebrated Mamise in her own way.

"To look at Miss Webling, would you take her for a perfect nut? She is, though—the worst ever. Do you know what she has done? Taken up stenography and gone into the office of a ship-building gang!"

The other squaws exclaimed upon her with various out-cries of amazement.

"What's more," said Mamise, "I live on my salary."

This was considered incredible in the Washington of then. Mamise admitted that it took management.

Mamise said: "Polly, can you see me living in a shanty cooking my own breakfast and dinner and waiting on myself and washing my own dishes? And for lunch going to a big mess-hall, waiting on myself, too, and eating on the swollen arm of a big chair?"

Polly shook her head in despair of her. "Let those do it that have to. Nobody's going to get me to live like a Belgian refugee without giving me the same excuse."

Mamise suddenly felt that her heroism was hardly more than a silly affectation, a patriotic pose. In these surroundings the memory of her daily life was disgusting, plain stupidity. Here she was in her element, at her superlative. She breathed deeply of the atmosphere of luxury, the incense of rich food served ceremoniously to resplendent people.

"I'm beginning to agree with you, Polly. I don't think I'll ever go back to honest work again."

She thought she saw in Davidge's eyes a gleam of approval. It occurred to her that he was renewing his invitation to her to become his wife and live as a lady. She was not insulted by the surmise.

When the women departed for the drawing-room, the men sat for a while, talking of the coal famine, the appalling debts the country was heaping into mountains—the blood-sweating taxes, the business end of the war, the prospect for the spring campaign on the Western Front, the avalanche of Russia, the rise of the Bolsheviki, the story that they were in German pay, the terrible toll of American lives it would take to replace the Russian armies, and the humiliating delay in getting men into uniform, equipped, and ferried across the sea. The astounding order had just been promulgated, shutting down all industry and business for four days and for the ten succeeding Mondays in order to eke out coal; this was regarded as worse than the loss of a great battle. Every aspect of the war was so depressing that the coroner's inquest broke up at once when Major Widdicombe said:

"I get enough of this in the shop, and I'm frozen through. Let's go in and jaw the women."

Concealing their loneliness, the men entered the drawing-room with the majestic languor of lions well fed.

Davidge paused to study Mamise from behind a smokescreen that concealed his stare. She was listening politely to the wife of Holman, of the War Trade Board. Mrs. Holman's stories were always long, and people were always interrupting them because they had to or stay mute all night. Davidge was glad of her clatter, because it gave him a chance to revel in Mamise. She was presented to his eyes in a kind of mitigated silhouette against a bright-hued lamp-shade. She was seated sidewise on a black Chinese chair. On the back of it her upraised arm rested. Davidge's eyes followed the strange and marvelous outline described by the lines of that arm, running into the sharp rise of a shoulder, like an apple against the throat, the bizarre shape of the head in its whimsical coiffure, the slope of the other shoulder carrying the caressing glance down that arm to the hand clasping a sheaf of outspread plumes against her knee, and on along to where one quaint impossible slipper with a fantastic high heel emerged from a stream of fabric that flowed on out to the train.

Then with the vision of honorable desire he imagined the body of her where it disappeared below the shoulders into the possession of the gown; he imagined with a certain awe what she must be like beneath all those long lines, those rounded surfaces, those eloquent wrinkles with their curious little pockets full of shadow, among the pools of light that satin shimmers with.

In other times and climes men had worn figured silks and satins and brocades, had worn long gowns and lace-trimmed sleeves, jeweled bonnets and curls, but now the male had surrendered to the female his prehistoric right to the fanciful plumage. These war days were grown so austere that it began to seem wrong even for women to dress with much more than a masculine sobriety. But the occasion of this ball had removed the ban on extravagance.

The occasion justified the maximum display of jewelry, too, and Mamise wore all she had. She had taken her gems from their prison in the safe-deposit box in the Trust Company cellar. They seemed to be glad to be at home in the light again. They reveled in it, winking, laughing, playing a kind of game in which light chased light through the deeps of color.

The oddity of the feminine passion for precious stones struck Davidge sharply. The man who built iron ships to carry freight wondered at the curious industry of those who sought out pebbles of price, and polished them, shaped them, faceted them, and fastened them in metals of studied design, petrified jellies that seemed to quiver yet defied steel.

He contrasted the cranes that would lift a locomotive and lower it into the hold of one of his ships with the tiny pincers with which a lapidary picked up a diamond fleck and sealed it in platinum. He contrasted the pneumatic riveter with the tiny hammers of the goldsmith. There seemed to be no less vanity about one than the other. The work of the jeweler would outlast the iron hull. A diamond as large as a rivet-head would cost far more than a ship. Jewels, like sonnets and symphonies and flower-gardens, were good for nothing, yet somehow worth more than anything useful.

He wondered what the future would do to these arts and their patronesses. The one business of the world now was the manufacture, transportation, and efficient delivery of explosives.

He could understand how offensive bejeweled and banqueted people were to the humble, who went grimy and weary in dirty overalls over their plain clothes to their ugly factories and back to their uglier homes.

It was a consummation devoutly to be wished that nobody should spend his life or hers soiled and tired and fagged with a monotonous task. It seemed hard that the toiling woman and the wife and daughter of the toiler might not alleviate their bleak persons with pearl necklaces about their throats, with rubies pendant from their ears, and their fingers studded with sapphire and topaz.

Yet it did not look possible, somehow. And it seemed better that a few should have them rather than none at all, better that beauty should be allowed to reign somewhere than nowhere during its brief perfection.

And after all, what proof was there that the spoliation of the rich and the ending of riches would mean the enrichment of the poor? When panics came and the rich fasted the poor starved. Would the reduction of the opulent and the elevation of the paupers all to the same plain average make anybody happier? Would the poor be glad to learn that they could never be rich? With nobody to envy, would contentment set in? With ambition rated as a crime, the bequeathing of comfort to one's children rendered impossible, the establishment of one's destiny left to the decision of boards and by-laws, would there be satisfaction? The Bolsheviki had voted "universal happiness." It would be interesting to see how well Russia fared during the next year and how universally happiness might be distributed.

He frowned and shook his head as if to free himself from these nettlesome riddles and left them to the Bolshevist Samaritans to solve in the vast laboratory where the manual laborers at last could work out their hearts' desires, with the upper class destroyed and the even more hateful middle class at their mercy.

It was bitter cold on the way to the ballroom in the Willard Hotel, and Davidge in his big coat studied Mamise smothered in a voluminous sealskin overcoat. This, too, had meant hardship for the poor. Many men had sailed on a bitter voyage to arctic regions and endured every privation of cold and hunger and peril that this young woman might ride cozy in any chill soever. The fur coat had cost much money, but little of it had fallen into the frosted hands of the men who clubbed the seal to death on the ice-floes. The sleek furrier in the warm city shop, when he sold the finished garment, took in far more than the men who went out into the wilderness and brought back the pelts. That did not seem right; yet he had a heavy rent to pay, and if he did not create the market for the furs, the sealers would not get paid at all for their voyage.

A division of the spoils that would rob no one, nor kill the industry, was beyond Davidge's imagining. He comforted himself with the thought that those loud mouths that advertised solutions of these labor problems were fools or liars or both; and their mouths were the tools they worked with most.

The important immediate thing to contemplate was the fascinating head of Mamise, quaintly set on the shapeless bulk of a sea-lion.



CHAPTER III

Davidge had been a good dancer once, and he had not entirely neglected the new school of foot improvisation, so different from the old set steps.

Mamise was amazed to find that the strenuous business man had so much of the faun in his soul. He had evidently listened to the pipes of Pan and could "shake a sugar-heel" with a practised skill. There was a startling authority in the firmness with which he gathered her in and swept her through the kaleidoscopic throng, now dipping, now skipping, now limping, now running.

He gripped the savory body of Mamise close to him and found her to his whim, foreseeing it with a mysterious prescience. Holding her thus intimately in the brief wedlock of the dance, he began to love her in a way that he could think of only one word for—terrible.

She seemed to grow afraid, too, of the spell that was befogging them, and sought rescue in a flippancy. There was also a flattering spice of jealousy in what she murmured:

"You haven't spent all your afternoons and evenings building ships, young man!"

"No?"

"What cabarets have you graduated from?"

He quoted her own words, "Don't you wish you knew?"

"No."

"One thing is certain. I've never found in any of 'em as light a feather as you."

"Are you referring to my head or my feet?"

"Your blessed feet!"

His arm about her tightened to a suffocation, and he whirled her in a delirium of motion.

"That's unfair!" she protested, affrighted yet delighted by the fire of his ecstasy in their union. The music stopped, and she clung to him dizzily while he applauded with the other dancers till the band renewed the tune. She had regained her mental with her bodily equilibrium, and she danced more staidly; yet she had seen into the crater of his heart and was not sorry that it existed.

The reprise of the dance was brief, and he had to surrender her from his embrace. He was unwontedly rhapsodic. "I wish we could sail on and on and on forever."

"Forever is a long time," she smiled.

"May I have the next dance?"

"Certainly not! Take Polly round and pay for your supper. But don't—"

"Don't what?"

"I don't know."

Polly was taken for the next dance, and he was glad of it, but he suffered at seeing how perfectly Mamise footed it with a young officer who also knew how to compel her to his whim. Davidge wondered if Mamise could be responding to this fellow as keenly as she responded to himself. The thought was intolerable. She could not be so wanton. It would amount to a hideous infidelity. Moorish jealousy smoldered in his heart, and he cursed public dancing as an infamous, an unbelievable promiscuity. Yet when he had Polly Widdicombe for the next dance, her husband had no cause for jealousy. Polly was a temperate dancer, all gaiety, estheticism plus athleticism.

Davidge kept twisting his head about to see how Mamise comported herself. He was being swiftly wrung to that desperate condition in which men are made ready to commit monogamy. He felt that he could not endure to have Mamise free any longer.

He presented himself to her for the next dance.

She laughed. "I'm booked."

He blanched at the treacherous heartlessness and sat the dance out—stood it out, rather, among the superfluous men on the side-lines. A morose and ridiculous gloom possessed him at seeing still a fourth stranger with his arms about Mamise, her breast to his and her procedure obedient to his. Worse yet, when a fifth insolent stranger cut in on the twin stars, Mamise abandoned her fourth temporary husband for another with a levity that amounted to outrageous polyandry.

Davidge felt no impulse to cut in. He disliked dancing so intensely that he wanted to put an end to the abomination, reform it altogether. He did not want to dance between those white arms so easily forsworn. He wanted to rescue Mamise from this place of horror and hale her away to a cave with no outlook on mankind.

It was she who sought him where he glowered. Perhaps she understood him. If she did, she was wise enough to enjoy the proof of her sway over him and still sane enough to take a joy in her triumph.

She introduced her partner—Davidge would almost have called the brute a paramour. He did not get the man's name and was glad of it—especially as the hunter deserted her and went after his next Sabine.

"You've lost your faithful stenographer," was the first phrase of Mamise's that Davidge understood.

"Why so?" he grumbled.

"Because this is the life for me. I've been a heroine and a war-worker about as long as I can. I'm for the fleshpots and the cold-cream jars and the light fantastic. Aren't you going to dance with me any more?"

"Just as you please," Davidge said, with a singularly boyish sulkiness, and wondered why Mamise laughed so mercilessly:

"Of course I please."

The music struck up an abandoned jig, but he danced with great dignity till his feet ran away with him. Then he made off with her again in one of his frenzies, and a laughter filled his whole being.

She heard him growl something.

"What did you say?" she said.

"I said, 'Damn you!'"

She laughed so heartily at this that she had to stop dancing for a moment. She astonished him by a brazen question:

"Do you really love me as much as that?"

"More," he groaned, and they bobbed and ducked and skipped as he muttered a wild anachronism:

"If you don't marry me I'll murder you."

"You're murdering me now. May I breathe, please?"

He was furious at her evasion of so solemn a proposal. Yet she was so beautifully alive and aglow that he could not exactly hate her. But he said:

"I won't ask you again. Next time you can ask me."

"All right; that's a bet. I'll give you fair warning."

And then that dance was over, and Mamise triumphant in all things. She was tumultuously hale and happy, and her lover loved her.

To her that hath—for now, whom should Mamise see but Lady Clifton-Wyatt? Her heart ached with a reminiscent fear for a moment; then a malicious hope set it going again. Major Widdicombe claimed Mamise for the next dance, and extracted her from Davidge's possession. As they danced out, leaving Davidge stranded, Mamise noted that Lady C.-W. was regarding Davidge with a startled interest.

The whirl of the dance carried her close to Lady Clifton-Wyatt, and she knew that Lady C.-W. had seen her. Broken glimpses revealed to her that Lady C.-W. was escorting her escort across the ballroom floor toward Davidge.

She saw the brazen creature tap Davidge's elbow and smile, putting out her hand with coquetry. She saw her debarrass herself of her companion, a French officer whose exquisite horizon-blue uniform was amazingly crossed with the wound and service chevrons of three years' warfaring. Nevertheless, Lady Clifton-Wyatt dropped him for the civilian Davidge. Mamise, flitting here and there, saw that Davidge was being led to the punch-altar, thence to a lonely strip of chairs, where Lady C.-W. sat herself down and motioned him to drop anchor alongside.

Mamise longed to be near enough to hear what she could guess: her enemy's artless prelude followed by gradual modulations to her main theme—Mamise's wicked record.

Mamise wished that she had studied lip-reading to get the details. But this was a slight vexation in the exultance of her mood. She was serene in the consciousness that Davidge already knew the facts about her, and that Lady Clifton-Wyatt's gossip would fall with the dreary thud of a story heard before. So Mamise's feet flew, and her heart made a music of its own to the tune of:

"Thank God, I told him!"

She realized, as never before, the tremendous comfort and convenience of the truth. She had been by instinct as veracious as a politely bred person may be, but now she understood that the truth is mighty good business. She resolved to deal in no other wares.

This resolution lasted just long enough for her to make a hasty exception: she would begin her exclusive use of the truth as soon as she had told Polly a neat lie in explanation of her inexplicable journey to Baltimore.

Lady C.-W. was doing Mamise the best turn in her power. Davidge was still angry at Mamise's flippancy in the face of his ardor. But Lady C.-W.'s attack gave the flirt the dignity of martyrdom. When Lady C.-W. finished her subtly casual account of all that Mamise had done or been accused of doing, Davidge crushed her with the quiet remark:

"So she told me."

"She told you that!"

"Yes, and explained it all!"

"She would!" was the best that Lady Clifton-Wyatt could do, but she saw that the case was lost. She saw that Davidge's gaze was following Mamise here and there amid the dancers, and she was sportswoman enough to concede:

"She is a beauty, anyway—there's no questioning that, at least."

It was the canniest thing she could have done to re-establish herself in Davidge's eyes. He felt so well reconciled with the world that he said:

"You wouldn't care to finish this dance, I suppose?"

"Why not?"

Lady Clifton-Wyatt was democratic—in the provinces and the States—and this was as good a way of changing the subject as any. She rose promptly and entered the bosom of Davidge. The good American who did not believe in aristocracies had just time to be overawed at finding himself hugging a real Lady with a capital L when the music stopped.

It is an old saw that what is too foolish to be said can be sung. Music hallows or denatures whatever it touches. It was quite proper, because quite customary, for Davidge and Lady Clifton-Wyatt to stand enfolded in each other's embrace so long as a dance tune was in the air. The moment the musicians quit work the attitude became indecent.

Amazing and eternal mystery, that custom can make the same thing mean everything, or nothing, or all the between-things. The ancient Babylonians carried the idea of the permissible embrace to the ultimate intimacy in their annual festivals, and the good women doubtless thought no more of it than a woman of to-day thinks of waltzing with a presentable stranger. They went home to their husbands and their housework as if they had been to church. Certain Bolsheviki, even in the year 1918, put up placards renewing the ancient Mesopotamian custom, under the guise of a community privilege and a civic duty.

And yet some people pretend to differentiate between fashions and morals!

But nobody at this dance was foolish enough to philosophize. Everybody was out for a good time, and a Scotsman from the British embassy came up to claim Lady Clifton-Wyatt's hand and body for the next dance. Davidge had been mystically attuned anew to Mamise, and he found her in a mood for reconciliation. She liked him so well that when the Italian aviator to whom she had pledged the "Tickle Toe" came to demand it, she perjured herself calmly and eloped with Davidge. And Davidge, instead of being alarmed by her easy morals, was completely reassured.

But he found her unready with another perjury when he abruptly asked her:

"What are you doing to-morrow?"

"Let me see," she temporized in a flutter, thinking of Baltimore and Nicky.

"If you've nothing special on, how about a tea-dance? I'm getting addicted to this."

"I'm afraid I'm booked up for to-morrow," she faltered. "Polly keeps the calendar. Yes, I know we have some stupid date—I can't think just what. How about the day after?"

The deferment made his amorous heart sick, and to-morrow's to-morrow seemed as remote as Judgment Day. Besides, as he explained:

"I've got to go back to the shipyard to-morrow evening. Couldn't you give me a lunch—an early one at twelve-thirty?"

"Yes, I could do that. In fact, I'd love it!"

"And me too?"

"That would be telling."

At this delicious moment an insolent cub in boots and spurs cut in and would not be denied. Davidge was tempted to use his fists, but Mamise, though she longed to tarry with Davidge, knew the value of tantalism, and consented to the abduction. For revenge Davidge took up with Polly and danced after Mamise, to be near her. He followed so close that the disastrous cub, in a sudden pirouette, contrived to swipe Polly across the shin and ankle-bones with his spur.

She almost swooned of agony, and clung to Davidge for support, mixing astonishing profanity with her smothered groans. The cub showered apologies on her, and reviled "Regulations" which compelled him to wear spurs with his boots, though he had only a desk job.

Polly smiled at him murderously, and said it was nothing. But Mamise saw her distress, rid herself of the hapless criminal and gave Polly her arm, as she limped through the barrage of hurtling couples. Polly asked Davidge to retrieve her husband from the sloe-eyed ambassadress who was hypnotizing him. She wailed to Mamise:

"I know I'm marked for life. I ought to have a wound-chevron for this. I've got to go home and put my ankle in splints. I'll probably have to wear it in a sling for a month. I'd like to kill the rotten hound that put me out of business. And I had the next dance with that beautiful Rumanian devil! You stay and dance with your ship-builder!"

Mamise could not even think of it, and insisted on bidding good night to the crestfallen Davidge. He offered to ride out home with her, but Polly refused. She wanted to have a good cry in the car.

Davidge bade Mamise good night, reminded her that she was plighted to luncheon at twelve-thirty, and went to the house of the friend he was stopping with, the hotels being booked solid for weeks ahead. He was nursing a stern determination to endure bachelordom no longer.

Mamise was thinking of Davidge tenderly with one of her brains, while another segment condoled with Polly. But most of her wits were engaged in hunting a good excuse for her Baltimore escapade the next afternoon, and in discarding such implausible excuses as occurred to her.

Bitter chill it was, and these owls, for all their feathers, were a-cold. Major Widdicombe was chattering.

"I danced myself into a sweat, and now my undershirt is all icicles. I know I'll die of pneumonia."

He shifted his foot, and one of his spurs grazed the ankle of Polly, who was snuggling to him for warmth.

She yowled: "My Gawd! My yankle! You'll not last long enough for pneumonia if you touch me again."

He was filled with remorse, but when he tried to reach round to embrace her, she would none of him.

When they got to the bridge, they were amazed at the lazy old Potomac. It was a white torment of broken ice, roaring and slashing and battering the piers of the ancient bridge ominously, huge sheets clambering up and falling back split and broken, with the uproar of an attack on a walled town.

The chauffeur went to full speed, and the frosty boards shrilled under the flight.

The house was cold when they reached it, and Mamise's room was like a storage-vault. She tore off her light dancing-dress and shivered as she stripped and took refuge in a cobwebby nightgown. She threw on a heavy bathrobe and kept it on when she crept into the icy interstice between the all-too-snowy sheets.

She had forgotten to explain to Polly about her Baltimore venture, and she shivered so vigorously that sleep was impossible to her palsied bones. She grew no warmer from besetting visions of the battle-front. She tried to shame herself out of her chill by contrasting her opulent bed with the dreadful dugouts in France, the observation posts, the shell-riddled ruins, where millions somehow existed. Again, as at Valley Forge, American soldiers were marching there in the snow barefooted, or in rags or in wooden sabots, for lack of ships to get new shoes across.

Yet, in these frozen hells there were not men enough. The German offensive must not find the lines so sparsely defended. Men must be combed out of every cranny of the nations and herded to the slaughter. America was denying herself warmth in order to build shells and to shuttle the ships back and forth. There was need of more women, too—thousands more to nurse the men, to run the canteens, to mend the clothes, to warm men's hearts via their stomachs, and to take their minds off the madness of war a little while. The Salvation Army would furnish them hot doughnuts in the trenches and heat up their courage. Actors and actresses were playing at all the big cantonments now. Later they would be going across to play in France—one-night stands, two a day in Picardy.

Suddenly Mamise felt the need to go abroad. In a kind of burlesque of the calling of the infant Samuel, she sat up in her bed, startled as by a voice calling her to a mission. She had been an actress, a wanderer, a performer in cheap theaters, a catcher of late trains, a dweller in rickety hotels. She knew cold, and she had played half clad in draughty halls.

She had escaped from the life and had tried to escape the memory of it. But now that she was so cold she felt that nothing was so pitiful as to be cold. She understood, with a congealing vividness, how those poor droves of lads in bitterer cold were suffering, scattered along the frontiers of war like infinite flocks of sheep caught in a blizzard. She felt ashamed to be here shivering in this palatial misery when she might be sharing the all-but-unbearable squalor of the soldiers.

The more she recoiled from the hardships the more she felt the impulse. It would be her atonement.

She would buy a trombone and retire into the wilderness to practise it. She would lay her dignity, her aristocracy, her pride, on the altar of sacrifice, and go among the despondent soldiers as a Sister of Gaiety. Perhaps Bill the Blackfaceman would be going over—if he had not stayed in Germany too long and been interned there. To return to the team with him, being the final degradation, would be the final atonement. She felt that she was called, called back. There could be nothing else she would hate more to do; therefore she would love to do that most of all.

She would lunch with Davidge to-morrow, tell him her plan, bid him farewell, go to Baltimore, learn Nicky's secret, thwart it one way or another—and then set about her destiny.

She abhorred the relapse so utterly that she wept. The warm tears refreshed her eyes before they froze on her cheeks, and she fell asleep in the blissful assurance of a martyrdom.



CHAPTER IV

The next morning Mamise woke in her self-warmed bed, at the nudge of a colored maid bundled up like an Eskimo, who carried a breakfast-tray in mittened hands.

Mamise said: "Oh, good morning, Martha. I'll bathe before breakfast if you'll turn on the hot water, please."

"Hot water? Humph! Pipes done froze last night, an' bus' loose this mo'nin', and fill the kitchen range with water an' bus' loose again. No plumber here yit. Made this breakfuss on the gas-stove. That's half-froze, tew. I tell you, ma'am, you're lucky to git your coffee nohow. Better take it before it freezes, tew."

Mamise sighed and glanced at the clock. The reproachful hands stood at eleven-thirty.

"Did the clock freeze, too? That can't be the right time!"

"Yessum, that's the raht tahm."

"Great heavens!"

"Yes, ma'am."

Mamise sat up, drew the comforters about her back, and breakfasted with speed. She dressed with all the agility she could muster.

She regretted the bath. She missed it, and so must we all. In modern history, as in modern fiction, it is not nice in the least for the heroine—even such a dubious heroine as Mamise—to have a bathless day. As for heroes, in the polite chronicles they get at least two baths a day: one heroic cold shower in the morning and one hot tub in the late afternoon before getting into the faultless evening attire. This does not apply to heroes of Russian masterpieces, of course, for they never bathe. ("Why should they," my wife puts in, "since they're going to commit suicide, anyway?")

But the horrors of the Great War included this atrocity, that the very politest people came to know the old-fashioned luxury of an extra-dry life. There was a time when cleanliness was accounted as ungodliness and the Christian saints anathematized the bath as an Oriental pollution. During our war of wars there was a vast amount of helpless holy living.

Exquisite gentlemen kept to their clothes for weeks at a time and grew rancid and lousy among the rats that were foul enough to share their stinking dens with them. If these gentlemen were wounded, perchance, they added stale blood, putrefaction, and offal to their abominable fetor.

And women who had been pretty and soapy and without smell, and who had once blanched with shame at the least maculation, lived with these slovenly men and vermin and dead horses and old dead soldiers and shared their glorious loathsomeness.

The world acquired a strong stomach, and Mamise's one skip-bath day must be endured. If the indecency ever occurred again it will be left unmentioned. Heaven knows that even this morning she looked pure enough when she was dressed.

Mamise found that Polly was still in bed, giving her damaged ankle as an excuse. She stuck it out for Mamise's inspection, and Mamise pretended to be appalled at the bruise she could almost see.

Mamise remembered her plan to go abroad and entertain the soldiers. Polly tried to dissuade her from an even crazier scheme than ship-building, but ended by promising to telephone her husband to look into the matter of a passport for her.

Despite her best efforts, it was already twelve-thirty and Mamise had not left the house. She was afraid that Davidge would be miffed. Polly suggested telephoning the hotel.

Those were bad days for telephoners. The wires were as crowded as everything else.

"It will take an hour to get the hotel," said Mamise, "another hour to page the man. I'll make a dash for it. He'll give me a little grace, I know."

The car was not ready when she got to the door. The engine was balky and bucky with the cold, and the chauffeur in a like mood. The roads were sleety and skiddy, and required careful driving.

Best of all, when she reached the bridge at last, she found it closed to traffic. The Potomac had been infected by the war spirit. In sheer Hunnishness it had ravaged its banks, shearing away boat-houses and piers, and carrying all manner of wreckage down to pound the old aqueduct bridge with. The bridge was not expected to live.

It did, but it was not intrusted with traffic till long after the distraught Mamise had been told that the only way to get to Washington was by the Highway Bridge from Alexandria, and this meant a detour of miles. It gave Mamise her first and only grand rounds through Fort Myer and the Arlington National Cemetery. She felt sorry for the soldiers about the cold barracks, but she was in no mood to respond to the marble pages of the Arlington epic.

The night before she had beheld in a clear vision the living hosts in Flanders and France, but here under the snow lay sixteen thousand dead, two thousand a hundred and eleven heroes under one monument of eternal anonymity—dead from all our wars, and many of them with their wives and daughters privileged to lie beside them.

But the mood is everything, and Mamise was too fretful to rise to this occasion; and when her car had crept the uneasy miles and reached the Alexandria bridge and crossed it, and wound through Potomac Park, past the Washington Monument standing like a stupendous icicle, and reached the hotel, she was just one hour late.

Davidge had given her up in disgust and despair, after vain efforts to reach her at various other possible luncheon-places. He searched them all on the chance that she might have misunderstood the rendezvous. And Mamise spent a frantic hour trying to find him at some hotel. He had registered nowhere, since a friend had put him up. The sole result of this interesting game of two needles hunting each other through a haystack was that Davidge went without lunch and Mamise ate alone.

In the late afternoon Davidge made another try. He finally got Polly Widdicombe on the telephone and asked for Mamise. Polly expressed her amazement.

"Why, she just telephoned that she was staying in town to dine with you and go to the theater."

"Oh!" said the befuddled Davidge. "Oh, of course! Silly of me! Good-by!"

Now he was indeed in a mental mess. Besides, he had another engagement to dinner. He spent a long, exasperating hour in a telephone-chase after his host, told a poor lie to explain the necessity for breaking the engagement, and spent the rest of the evening hunting Mamise in vain.

When he took the train for his shipyard at last he was in a hopeless confusion between rage at Mamise and fear that some mishap had befallen her. It would have been hard to tell whether he loved her or hated her the more.

But she, after giving up the pursuit of him, had taken up an inquiry into the trains to Baltimore. The time was now too short for her to risk a journey out to Grinden Hall and back for a suit-case, in view of the Alexandria detour. She must, therefore, travel without baggage. Therefore she must return the same night. She found, to her immense relief, that this could be done. The seven-o'clock train to Baltimore reached there at eight, and there was a ten-ten train back.

She had not yet devised a lie to appease Polly with, but now an inspiration came to her. She had told Davidge that she was dining out with Polly somewhere; consequently it would be safe to tell Polly that she was dining out with Davidge somewhere. The two would never meet to compare notes. Besides, it is pleasanter to lie by telephone. One cannot be seen to blush.

She called up Grinden Hall and was luckily answered by what Widdicombe called "the ebony maid with the ivory head." Mamise told her not to summon her lame mistress to the telephone, but merely to say that Miss Webling was dining with Mr. Davidge and going to the theater with him. She made the maid repeat this till she had it by heart, then rang off.

This was the message that Polly received and later transmitted to Davidge for his bewilderment.

To fill the hours that must elapse before her train could leave, Mamise went to one of those moving-picture shows that keep going without interruption. Public benefactors maintain them for the salvation of women who have no homes or do not want to go to them yet.

The moving-picture service included the usual news weekly, as usual leading one to marvel why the stupid subjects shown were selected from all the fascinating events of the time. Then followed a doleful imitation of Mr. Charles Chaplin, which proved by its very fiasco the artistry of the original.

The cinema de resistance was a long and idiotic vampire picture in which a stodgy creature lured impossible males to impossible ruin by wiles and attitudes that would have driven any actual male to flight, laughter, or a call for the police. But the audience seemed to enjoy it, as a substitute, no doubt, for the old-fashioned gruesome fairy-stories that one accepts because they are so unlike the tiresome realities. Mamise wondered if vampirism really succeeded in life. She was tempted to try a little of it some time, just as an experiment, if ever opportunity offered.

In any case, the picture served its main purpose. It whiled away the dull afternoon till the dinner hour. She took her dinner on the train, remembering vividly how her heart history with Davidge had begun on a train. She missed him now, and his self-effacing gallantry.

The man opposite her wanted to be cordial, but his motive was ill concealed, and Mamise treated him as if he didn't quite exist. Suddenly she remembered with a gasp that she had never paid Davidge for that chair he gave up to her. She vowed again that she would not forget. She felt a deep remorse, too, for a day of lies and tricks. She regretted especially the necessity of deceiving Davidge. It was her privilege to hoodwink Polly and other people, but she had no right to deceive Davidge. She was beginning to feel that she belonged to him.

She resolved to atone for these new transgressions, too, as well as her old, by getting over to France as soon as possible and subjecting herself to a self-immolation among hardships. After the war—assuming that the war would soon end and that she would come out of it alive—afterward she could settle down and perhaps marry Davidge.

Reveling in these pleasantly miserable schemes, she was startled to find Baltimore already gathering round the train. And she had not even begun to organize her stratagems against Nicky Easton. She made a hasty exit from the car and sought the cab-ranks outside.

From the shadows a shadowy man semi-detached himself, lifted his hat, and motioned her to an open door. She bent her head down and her knees up and entered a little room on wheels.

Nicky had evidently given the chauffeur instructions, for as soon as Nicky had come in, doubled up, and seated himself the limousine moved off—into what adventures? Mamise was wondering.



BOOK VI

IN BALTIMORE



CHAPTER I

Mamise remembered her earlier visits to Baltimore as a tawdry young vaudevillette. She had probably walked from the station, lugging her own valise, to some ghastly theatrical boarding-house. Perhaps some lover of hers had carried her baggage for her. If so, she had forgotten just which one of her experiences he was.

Now she hoped to be even more obscure and unconsidered than she had been then, when a little attention was meat and drink, and her name in the paper was a sensation. She knew that publicity, like love, flees whoso pursueth and pursues who flees it, but she prayed that the rule would be proved by an exception to-night, and that she might sneak out as anonymously as she had sneaked in.

Nicky Easton was a more immediate problem. He was groping for her hands. When he found them she was glad that she had her gloves on. They were chaperoned, too, as it were, by their heavy wraps. She was fairly lost in her furs and he in a burly overcoat, so that when in a kind of frenzy he thrust one cumbrous arm about her the insulation was complete. He might as well have been embracing the cab she was in.

But the insolence of the intention enraged her, and she struggled against him as a she-bear might rebuff a too familiar bruin—buffeted his arms away and muttered:

"You imbecile! Do you want me to knock on the glass and tell the driver to let me out?"

"Nein doch!"

"Then let me alone or I will."

Nicky sighed abysmally and sank back. He said nothing at all to her, and she said the same to him while long strips of Baltimorean marble stoops went by. They turned into Charles Street and climbed past its statue-haunted gardens and on out to the north.

They were almost at Druid Hill Park before Mamise realized that she was wasting her time and her trip for nothing. She spoke angrily:

"You said you wanted to see me. I'm here."

Nicky fidgeted and sulked:

"I do not neet to told you now. You have such a hatink from me, it is no use."

"If you had told me you simply wanted to spoon with me I could have stayed at home. You said you wanted to ask me something."

"I have my enswer. It is not any neet to esk."

Mamise was puzzled; her wrath was yielding to curiosity. But she could not imagine how to coax him out of silence.

His disappointment coaxed him. He groaned:

"Ach Gott, I am so lunly. My own people doand trust me. These Yenkees also not. I get no chence to proof how I loaf my Vaterland. But the time comes soon, and I must make patience. Eile mit Weile!"

"You'd better tell me what's on your mind," Mamise suggested, but he shook his head. The car rolled into the gloom of the park, a gloom rather punctuated than diminished by the street-lamps. Mamise realized that she could not extort Nicky's secret from him by asserting her own dignity.

She wondered how to persuade him, and found no ideas except such silly schemes as were suggested by her memory of the vampire picture. She hated the very passage of such thoughts through her mind, but they kept returning, with an insistent idea that a patriotic vampire might accomplish something for her country as Delilah and Judith had "vamped" for theirs. She had never seen a vampire exercise her fascinations in a fur coat in a dark automobile, but perhaps the dark was all the better for her purpose.

At any rate, she took the dare her wits presented her, and after a struggle with her own mutinous muscles she put out her hand and sought Nicky's, as she cooed:

"Come along, Nicky, don't be so cantankerous."

His hand registered the surprise he felt in the fervor of its clutch:

"But you are so colt!"

She insinuated, "You couldn't expect me to make love to you the very first thing, could you?"

"You mean you do like me?"

Her hands wringing his told the lie her tongue refused. And he, encouraged and determined to prove his rating with her, flung his arm about her again and drew her, resisting only in her soul, close to him.



CHAPTER II

But when his lips hunted hers she hid them in her fur collar; and he, imputing it to coquetry, humored her, finding her delicate timidity enhancing and inspiring. He chuckled:

"You shall kiss me yet."

"Not till you have told me what you sent for me for."

"No, feerst you must give me one to proof your good fate—your good face—" He was trying to say "good faith."

She was stubborn, but he was more obstinate still, and he had the advantage of the secret.

And so at last she sighed "All right," and put up her cheek to pay the price. His arms tightened about her, and his lips were not content with her cheek. He fought to win her lips, but she began to tear off her gloves to scratch his eyes out if need be for release.

She was revolted, and she would have marred his beauty if he had not let her go. Once freed, she regained her self-control, for the sake of her mission, and said, with a mock seriousness:

"Now, be careful, or I won't listen to you at all."

Sighing with disappointment, but more determined than ever to make her his, he said:

"Feerst I must esk you, how is your feelink about Chermany?"

"Just as before."

"Chust as vich 'before'? Do you loaf Chermany or hate?"

She was permitted to say only one thing. It came hard:

"I love her, of course."

"Ach, behuet' dich, Gott!" he cried, and would have clasped her again, but she insisted on discipline. He began his explanation.

"I did told you how, to safe my life in England, I confessed somethings. Many of our people here will not forgive. My only vay to get back vere I have been is to make—as Americans say—to make myself skvare by to do some big vork. I have done a little, not much, but more can be if you help."

"What could I do?"

"Much things, but the greatest—listen once: our Chermany has no fear of America so long America is on this side of the Atlentic Ozean. Americans build ships; Chermany must destroy fester as they build. Already I have made one ship less for America. I cannot pooblish advertisink, but my people shall one day know, and that day comes soon; Der Tag is almost here—you shall see! Our army grows alvays, in France; and England and France can get no more men. Ven all is ready, Chermany moves like a—a avalenche down a mountain and covers France to the sea.

"On that day our fleet—our glorious ships—comes out from Kiel Canal, vere man holds them beck like big dogs in leash. Oh those beautiful day, Chermany conquers on lent and on sea. France dies, and England's navy goes down into the deep and comes never back.

"Ach Gott, such a day it shall be—when old England's empire goes into history, into ancient history vit Roossia and Rome and Greece and Bebylonia.

"England gone, France gone, Italy gone—who shall safe America and her armies and her unborn ships, and her cannon and shell and air-ships not yet so much as begun?

"Der Tag shall be like the lest day ven Gott makes the graves open and the dead come beck to life. The Americans shall fall on knees before our Kaiser, and he shall render chudgment. Such a payink!

"Now the Yenkees despise us Chermans. Ve cannot go to this city, to that dock. Everywhere is dead-lines and permissions and internment camps and persecutions, and all who are not in prison are afraid. They change their names from Cherman to English now, but soon they shall lift their heads and it shall be the Americans who shall know the dead-lines, the licenses, the internment camps.

"So, Marie Louise, my sveetheart, if you can show and I can show that in the dark night ve did not forget the Vaterland, ve shall be proud and safe.

"It is to make you safe ven comes Der Tag I speak to you now. I vish you should share my vork now, so you can share my life efterwards. Now do I loaf you, Marie Louise? Now do I give you proof?"

Mamise was all ashudder with the intensity of his conviction. She imagined an all-conquering Germany in America. She needed but to multiply the story of Belgium, of Serbia, of prostrate Russia. The Kaiser had put in the shop-window of the world samples enough of the future as it would be made by Germany.

And in the mood of that day, with defeatism rife in Europe, and pessimism miasmatic in America, there was reason enough for Nicky to believe in his prophecy and to inspire belief in its possibility. The only impossible thing about it was that the world should ever endure the dominance of Germany. Death would seem better to almost everybody than life in such a civilization as she promised.

Mamise feared the Teutonic might, but she could not for a moment consent to accept it. There was only one thing for her to do, and that was to learn what plans she could, and thwart them. Here within her grasp was the long-sought opportunity to pay off the debt she had incurred. She could be a soldier now, at last. There was no price that Nicky might have demanded too great, too costly, too shameful for her to pay. To denounce him or defy him would be a criminal waste of opportunity.

She said: "I understand. You are right, of course. Let me help in any way I can. I only wish there were something big for me to do."

Nicky was overjoyed. He had triumphed both as patriot and as lover.

"There is a big think for you to do," he said. "You can all you vill."

"Tell me," she pleaded.

"You are in shipyard. This man Davidge goes on building ships. I gave him fair warning. I sinked one ship for him, but he makes more."

"You sank his ship?" Mamise gasped.

"Sure! The Clara, he called her. I find where she goes to take cargo. I go myself. I row up behind the ship in little boat, and I fasten by the rudder-post under the water, where no one sees, a bomb. It is all innocent till ship moves. Then every time the rudder turns a little screw turns in the machine.

"It turns for two, three days; then—boom! It makes explosion, tears ship to pieces, and down she goes. And so goes all the next ships if you help again."

"Again? What do you mean by again?"

"It is you, Marie Louise, who sinks the Clara."

Her laugh of incredulity was hardly more than a shiver of dread.

"Ja wohl! You did told Chake Nuttle vat Davidge tells you. Chake Nuttle tells me. I go and make sink the ship!"

"Jake Nuddle! It was Jake that told you!" Mamise faltered, seeing her first vague suspicions damnably confirmed.

"Sure! Chake Nuttle is my Leutnant. He has had much money. He gets more. He shall be rich man after comes Der Tag. It might be we make him von Nuttle! and you shall be Graefin von Oesten."

Mamise was in an abject terror. The thick trees of the park were spooky as the dim light of the car elicited from the black wall of dark faint details of tree-trunks and naked boughs stark with winter. She was in a hurry to learn the rest and be gone. She spoke with a poor imitation of pride:

"So I have already done something more for Germany. That's splendid. Now tell me what else I can do, for I want to—to get busy right away."

Nicky was too intoxicated with his success to see through her thin disguise.

"You are close by Davidge. Chake Nuttle tells me he is sveet on you. You have his confidence. You can learn what secrets he has. Next time we do not vait for ship to be launched and to go for cargo. It might go some place ve could not find.

"So now ve going blow up those ships before they touch vater—ve blow up his whole yard. You shall go beck and take up again your vork, and ven all is right I come down and get a job. I dress like vorkman and get into the yard. And I bring in enough bombs to blow up all the ships and the cranes and the machines.

"Chake Nuttle tells me Davidge just gets a plate-bending machine. Forty-five t'ousand dollars it costs him, and long time to get. In one minute—poof! Ve bend that plate-bender!"

He laughed a great Teutonic laugh and supposed that she was laughing, too. When he had subsided a little, he said:

"So now you know vat you are to make! You like to do so much for Chermany, yes?"

"Oh yes! Yes!" said Mamise.

"You promise to do vat I send you vord?"

"Yes." She would have promised to blow up the Capitol.

"Ach, how beautiful you are even in the dark! Kiss me!"

Remembering Judith, she paid that odious price, wishing that she might have the beast's infamous head with a sword. It was a kiss of betrayal, but she felt that it was no Judas-kiss, since Nicky was no Christ.

He told her more of his plans in detail, and was so childishly proud of his superb achievements, past and future, that she could hardly persuade him to take her back to the station. He assured her that there was abundant time, but she would not trust his watch. She explained how necessary it was for her to return to Washington and to Polly Widdicombe's house before midnight. And at last he yielded to her entreaties, opened the door, and leaned out to tell the driver to turn back.

Mamise was uneasy till they were out of the park and into the lighted streets again. But there was no safety here, for as they glided down Charles Street a taxicab going with the reckless velocity of taxicabs tried to cut across their path.

There was a swift fencing for the right of way, and then the two cars came together with a clash and much crumpling of fenders.

The drivers descended to wrangle over the blame, and Mamise had visions of a trip to the police station, with a consequent exposure. But Nicky was alive to the danger of notoriety. He got out and assumed the blame, taking the other driver's part and offering to pay the damages.

The taxicab-driver assessed them liberally at fifty dollars, and Nicky filled his palm with bills, ordering his own driver to proceed. The car limped along with a twisted steering-gear, and Nicky growled thanksgivings over the narrow escape the German Empire had had from losing two of its most valuable agents.

Mamise was sick with terror of what might have been. She saw the collision with a fatal result, herself and Nicky killed and flung to the street, dead together. It was not the fear of dying that froze her soul; it was the posthumous blow she would have given to Davidge's trust in her and all women, the pain she would have inflicted on his love. For to his dying day he would have believed her false to him, a cheap and nasty trickster, sneaking off to another town to a rendezvous with another man. And that man a German!

The picture of his bitter disillusionment and of her own unmerited and eternal disgrace was intolerably real in spite of the fact that she knew it to be untrue, for our imaginations are far more ancient and more irresistible than our late and faltering reliance on the truth; the heavens and hells we fancy have more weight with our credulities than any facts we encounter. We can dodge the facts or close our eyes to them, but we cannot escape our dreams, whether our eyes are wide or sealed.

Mamise could not free herself of this nightmare till she had bidden Nicky good-by the last time and left him in the cab outside the station.

Further nightmares awaited her, for in the waiting-room she could not fight off the conviction that the train would never arrive. When it came clanging in on grinding wheels and she clambered aboard, she knew that it would be wrecked, and the finding of her body in the debris, or its disappearance in the flames, would break poor Davidge's heart and leave her to the same ignominy in his memory.

While the train swung on toward Washington, she added another torment to her collection: how could she save Davidge from Nicky without betraying her sister's husband into the hands of justice? What right had she to tell Davidge anything when her sacred duty to her family and her poor sister must first be heartlessly violated?



BOOK VII

AT THE SHIPYARD



CHAPTER I

Mamise was astounded by the altered aspect of her own soul, for people can on occasion accomplish what the familiar Irish drillmaster invited his raw recruits to do—"Step out and take a look at yourselves."

Also, like the old lady of the nursery rhymes whose skirts were cut off while she slept, Mamise regarded herself with incredulity and exclaimed:

"Can this be I?"

If she had had a little dog at home, it would have barked at her in unrecognition and convinced her that she was not herself.

What astounded her was the realization that the problem of disregarding either her love or her duty was no longer a difficult problem. In London, when she had dimly suspected her benefactors, the Weblings, of betraying the trust that England put in them, she had abhorred the thought of mentioning her surmise to any one who might harm them. Later, at the shipyard, when she had suspected her sister's husband of disloyalty, she had put away the thought of action because it would involve her sister's ruin. But now, as she left Baltimore, convinced that her sister's husband was in a plot against her lover and her country, she felt hardly so much as a brake on her eagerness for the sacrifice of her family or herself. The horror had come to be a solemn duty so important as to be almost pleasant. She was glad to have something at last to give up for her nation.

The thorough change in her desires was due to a complete change in her soul. She had gradually come to love the man whose prosperity was threatened by her sister's husband, and her vague patriotism had been stirred from dreams to delirium. Almost the whole world was undergoing such a war change. The altar of freedom so shining white had recently become an altar of sacrifice splashed with the blood of its votaries. Men were offering themselves, casting from them all the old privileges of freedom, the hopes of success in love and business, and submitting to discipline, to tyranny, to vile hardships. Wives and mothers were hurrying their men to the slaughter; those who had no men to give or men too weak for the trenches or unwilling to go were ashamed of themselves because they were missing from the beadroll of contributors.

Mamise had become fanatic with the rest. She had wished to build ships, and had been refused more than a stenographer's share in the process. Next she had planned to go to the firing-line herself and offer what gift she had—the poor little gift of entertaining the soldiers with the vaudeville stunts she had lived down. And while she waited for a passport to join the army of women in France, she found at hand an opportunity to do a big deed, to thwart the enemy, to save ships and all the lives that ships alone could save. The price would be the liberty and what little good name her sister's husband had; it would mean protests and tears from her poor sister, whom life had dealt with harshly enough already.

But Mamise counted the cost as nothing compared to what it would buy. She dared not laugh aloud in the crowded chair-car, but her inner being was shaken with joy. She had learned to love Davidge and to adore that strange, shapeless idea that she called her country. Instead of sacrificing her lover to her people, she could serve both by the same deed. She was wildly impatient for the moment when she could lay before Davidge the splendid information she had secured at the expense of a few negligible lies. If they should cost her a decade in purgatorial torments, she would feel that they were worth it.

She reached Washington at a little after eleven and Grinden Hall before midnight. Now as she stood on the portico and looked across the river at the night-lit city, she felt such a pride as she had never known.

She waved a salutation to the wraith of a town, her mind, if not her lips, voicing the words:

"You owe me something, old capital. You'll never put up any statues to me or carve my name on any tablets, but I'm doing something for you that will mean more than anybody will ever realize."

She turned and found the black maid gaping at her sleepily and wondering what invisible lover she was waving at. Mamise made no explanation, but went in, feeling a trifle foolish, but divinely so.

Polly got out of bed and came all bundled up to Mamise's room to demand an accounting.

"I was just on the point of telephoning the police to see if you had been found in the river."

Mamise did not bother either to explain her past lies or tell any new ones. She majestically answered:

"Polly darling, I have been engaged in affairs of state, which I am not at liberty to divulge to the common public."

"Rot!" said Polly. "I believe the 'affairs,' but not the 'state.'"

Mamise was above insult. "Some day you will know. You've heard of Helen of Troy, the lady with the face that launched a thousand ships? Well, this face of mine will launch at least half a dozen freight-boats."

Polly yawned. "I'll call my doctor in the morning and have you taken away quietly. Your mind's wandering, as well as the rest of you."

Mamise chuckled like a child with a great secret, and Polly waddled back to her bed.

Next morning Mamise woke into a world warm with her own importance, though the thermometer was farther down than Washington's oldest records. She called Davidge on the long-distance telephone, and there was a zero in his voice that she had never heard before.

"This is Mamise," she sang.

"Yes?" Simply that and nothing more.

She laughed aloud, glad that he cared enough for her to be so angry at her. She forgot the decencies of telephone etiquette enough to sing out:

"Do you really love me so madly?"

He loathed sentimentalities over the telephone, and she knew it, and was always indulging in them. But the fat was on the wire now, and he came back at her with a still icier tone:

"There's only one good excuse for what you've done. Are you telephoning from a hospital?"

"No, from Polly's."

"Then I can't imagine any excuse."

"But you're a business man, not an imaginator," she railed. "You evidently don't know me. I'm 'Belle Boyd, the Rebel Spy,' and also 'Joan of Arkansas,' and a few other patriots. I've got news for you that will melt the icicles off your eyebrows."

"News?" he answered, with no curiosity modifying his anger.

"War news. May I come down and tell you about it?"

"This is a free country."

"Fine! You're simply adorable when you try to sulk. What time would be most convenient?"

"I make no more appointments with you, young woman."

"All right. Then I'll wait at my shanty till you come."

"I was going to rent it."

"You just dare! I am coming back to work. The strike is over."

"You'd better come to the office as soon as you get here."

"All right. Give my love to Miss Gabus."

She left the telephone and set about packing her things in a fury. Polly reminded her that she had appointments for fittings at dressmakers'.

"I never keep appointments," said Mamise. "You can cancel them for me till this cruel war is over. Have the bills sent to me at the shipyard, will you, dear? Sorry to bother you, but I've barely time to catch my train."

Polly called her a once unmentionable name that was coming into fashionable use after a long exile. Women had draped themselves in a certain animal's pelt with such freedom and grace for so many years that its name had lost enough of its impropriety to be spoken, and not too much to express disapproval.

"You skunk!" said Polly. And Mamise laughed. Everything made her laugh now; she was so happy that she began to cry.

"Why the crocodiles?" said Polly. "Because you're leaving me?"

"No, I'm crying because I didn't realize how unhappy I had always been before I am as happy as I am now. I'm going to be useful at last, Polly. I'm going to do something for my country."

She was sharing in that vast national ecstasy which is called patriotism and which turns the flames of martyrdom into roses.

When Mamise reached the end of her journey she found Davidge waiting for her at the railroad station with a limousine.

His manner was studiously insulting, but he was helplessly glad to see her, and the humiliation he had suffered from her failure to keep her engagements with him in Washington was canceled by the tribute of her return to him. The knot of his frown was solved by the mischief of her smile. He had to say:

"Why didn't you meet me at luncheon?"

"How could I prevent the Potomac from putting the old bridge out of commission?" she demanded. "I got there in time, but they wouldn't let me across, and by the time I reached the hotel you had gone, and I didn't know where to find you. Heaven knows I tried."

The simplicity of this explanation deprived him of every excuse for further wrath, and he was not inspired to ask any further questions. He was capable of nothing better than a large and stupid:

"Oh!"

"Wait till you hear what I've got to tell you."

But first he disclosed a little plot of his own with a comfortable guiltiness:

"How would you like," he stammered, "since you say you have news—how would you like—instead of going to your shanty—I've had a fire built in it—but—how would you like to take a ride in the car—out into the country, you know? Then you could tell me, and nobody would hear or interrupt."

She was startled by the similarity of his arrangement to that of Nicky Easton, but she approached it with different dread.

She regretted the broad daylight and the disconcerting landscape. In the ride with Nicky she had been enveloped in the dark. Now the sky was lined with unbleached wool. The air was thick with snow withheld, and the snow on the ground took the color of the sky. But the light was searching, cynical, and the wayside scenes were revealed with the despondent starkness of a Russian novel. In this romanceless, colorless dreariness it was not easy for Mamise to gloss over the details of her meeting with Nicky Easton.

There was no escaping this part of the explanation, however, and she could see how little comfort Davidge took from the news that she had gone so far to be alone with a former devotee. A man does not want his sweetheart to take risks for him beyond a certain point, and he would rather not be saved at all than be saved by her at too high a price. The modern man has a hard time living down the heritage from the ten-thousand-year habitude of treating his women like children who cannot be trusted to take care of themselves.

Mamise had such poor success with the part of her chronicle she wished to publish that she boggled miserably the part she wanted to handle with most discretion. As is usual in such cases, the most conspicuous thing about her message was her inability to conceal the fact that she was concealing something. Davidge's imagination was consequently so busy that he paid hardly any attention to the tremendous facts she so awkwardly delivered.

She might as well have told him flat that Nicky would not divulge his plot except with his arms about her and his lips at her cheeks. That would not have been easy telling, but it was all too easy imagining for Davidge. He was thrown into an utter wretchedness by the vision he had of her surrender to the opportunity and to the undoubted importunity of her companion. He had a morbid desire to make her confess, and confessors have a notorious appetite for details.

"You weren't riding with Easton alone in the dark all that time—without—"

She waited for the question as for a bludgeon. Davidge had some trouble in wielding it. He hated the thought so much that the words were unspeakable, and he hunted for some paraphrase. In the sparse thesaurus of his vocabulary he found nothing subtle. He groaned:

"Without his—his making love to you?"

"I wish you wouldn't ask me," said Mamise.

"I don't need to. You've answered," Davidge snarled. "And so will he."

Mamise's heart was suddenly a live coal, throbbing with fire and keenly painful—yet very warm. She had a man who loved her well enough to hate for her and to avenge her. That was something gained.

Davidge brooded. It was inconceivably hideous that he should have given his heart to this pretty thing at his side only to have her ensconce herself in the arms of another man and give him the liberty of her cheeks—Heaven knew, hell knew, what other liberties. He vowed that he would never put his lips where another man's had been.

Mamise seemed to feel soiled and fit only for the waste-basket of life. She had delivered her "message to Garcia," and Garcia rewarded her with disgust. She waited shame-fast for a moment before she could even falter:

"Did you happen to hear the news I brought you? Or doesn't it interest you?"

Davidge answered with repugnance:

"Agh!"

In her meekness she needed some insult to revive her, and this sufficed. She flared instantly:

"I'm sorry I told you. I hope that Nicky blows up your whole damned shipyard and you with it; and I'd like to help him!"

Nothing less insane could have served the brilliant effect of that outburst. It cleared the sultry air like a crackling thunderbolt. A gentle rain followed down her cheeks, while the overcharged heart of Davidge roared with Jovian laughter.

There is no cure for these desperate situations like such an explosion. It burns up at once the litter of circumstance and leaves hardly an ash. It fuses elements that otherwise resist welding, and it annihilates all minor fears in one great terror that ends in a joyous relief.

Mamise was having a noble cry now, and Davidge was sobbing with laughter—the two forms of recreation most congenial to their respective sexes.

Davidge caught her hands and cooed with such noise that the driver outside must have heard the reverberations through the glass:

"You blessed child! I'm a low-lived brute, and you're an angel."

A man loves to call himself a brute, and a woman loves to be called an angel, especially when it is untrue in both cases.

The sky of their being thus cleansed with rain and thunder, and all blue peace again, they were calm enough by and by to consider the main business of the session—what was to be done to save the shipyard from destruction?

Mamise had to repeat most of what she had told, point by point:

Nicky was not going to wait till the ships were launched or even finished. He was impatient to strike a resounding blow at the American program. Nicky was going to let Mamise know just when the blow was to be struck, so that she might share in the glory of it when triumphant Germany rewarded her faithful servants in America. Jake Nuddle was to take part in the ship-slaughter for the double privilege of protesting against this capitalistic war and of crippling those cruel capitalists to whom he owed all his poverty—to hear him tell it.

When Mamise had finished this inventory of the situation Davidge pondered aloud:

"Of course, we ought to turn the case over to the Department of Justice and the Military and Naval Intelligence to handle, but—"

"But I'd like to shelter my poor sister if I could," said Mamise. "Of course, I wouldn't let any tenderness for Jake Nuddle stand in the way of my patriotic duty, for Heaven knows he's as much of a traitor to my poor sister as he is to everything else that's decent, but I'd like to keep him out of it somehow. Something might happen to make it possible, don't you suppose?"

"I might cripple him and send him to a hospital to save his life," said Davidge.

"Anything to keep him out of it," said Mamise. "If I should tell the authorities, though, they'd put him in jail right away, wouldn't they?"

"Probably. And they'd run your friend Nicky down and intern him. Then I'd lose my chance to lay hands on him as—"

"As he did on you," was what he started to say, but he stopped in time.

This being Davidge's fierce desire, he found plenty of justification for it in other arguments. In the first place, there was no telling where Nicky might be. He had given Mamise no hint of his headquarters. She had neglected to ask where she could reach him, and had been instructed simply to wait till he gave her the signal. No doubt he could be picked up somewhere in the enormous, ubiquitous net with which America had been gradually covered by the secret services and by the far-flung line of the American Protective League made up of private citizens. But there would be a certain unsatisfactoriness about nipping his plot so far from even the bud. Prevention is wisdom, but it lacks fascination.

And supposing that they found Nicky, what evidence had they against him, except Mamise's uncorroborated statement that he had discussed certain plots with her? Enemy aliens could be interned without trial, but that meant a halcyon existence for Nicky and every comfort except liberty. This was not to be considered. Davidge had a personal grudge, too, to satisfy. He owed Nicky punishment for sinking the ship named after Davidge's mother and for planning to sink the ship he was naming after the woman he hoped to make his wife.

Davidge was eager to seize Nicky in the very act of planting his torpedo and hoist him with his own petard. So he counseled a plan of waiting further developments. Mamise was the more willing, since it deferred the hateful moment when Jake Nuddle would be exposed. She had a hope that things might so happen as to leave him out of the denouement entirely.

And now Davidge and Mamise were in perfect agreement, conspirators against a conspiracy. And there was the final note of the terrible in their compact: their failure meant the demolition of all those growing ships, the nullification of Davidge's entire contribution to the war; their success would mean perhaps the death of Easton and the blackening of the name of Mamise's sister and her sister's children.

The solemnity of the outlook made impossible any talk of love. Davidge left Mamise at her cottage and rode back to his office, feeling like the commander of a stockade in the time of an Indian uprising. Mamise found that his foresight had had the house warmed for her; and there were flowers in a jar. She smiled at his tenderness even in his wrath. But the sight of the smoke rolling from the chimney had caught the eye of her sister, and she found Abbie waiting to welcome her.

The two rushed to each other with the affection of blood-kin, but Mamise felt like a Judas when she kissed the sister she was planning to betray. Abbie began at once to recite a catalogue of troubles. They were sordid and petty, but Mamise shivered to think how real a tragedy impended. She wondered how right she was to devastate her sister's life for the sake of a cause which, after all, was only the imagined welfare of millions of total strangers. She could not see the nation for the people, but her sister was her sister, and pitifully human. That was the worst wrench of war, the incessant compulsions to tear the heart away from its natural moorings.



CHAPTER II

Davidge thought it only fair to take the Department of Justice operative, Larrey, into his confidence. Larrey was perfectly willing to defer reporting to his office chief until the more dramatic conclusion; for he had an easily understandable ambition to share in the glory of it. It was agreed that a closer watch than ever should be kept on the shipyard and its approaches. Easton had promised to notify Mamise of his arrival, but he might grow suspicious of her and strike without warning.

The period of waiting was as maddening as the suspense of the poor insomniac who implored the man next door to "drop the other shoe." Mamise suffered doubly from her dual interest in Abbie and in Davidge. She dared not tell Abbie what was in the wind, though she tried to undermine gradually the curious devotion Abbie bore to her worthless husband. But Mamise's criticisms of Jake only spurred Abbie to new defenses of him and a more loyal affection.

Day followed day, and Mamise found the routine of the office intolerably monotonous. Time gnawed at her resolution, and she began to hope to be away when Easton made his attempt. It occurred to her that it would be pleasant to have an ocean between her and the crisis. She said to Davidge:

"I wish Nicky would come soon, for I have applied for a passport to France. Major Widdicombe got me the forms to fill out, and he promised to expedite them. I ought to go the minute they come."

This information threw Davidge into a complex dismay. Here was another of Mamise's long-kept secrets. The success of her plan meant the loss of her, or her indefinite postponement. It meant more yet. He groaned.

"Good Lord! everybody in the United States is going to France except me. Even the women are all emigrating. I think I'll just turn the shipyard over to the other officers of the corporation and go with you. Let Easton blow it up then, if he wants to, so long as I get into the uniform and into the fighting."

This new commotion was ended by a shocking and unforeseen occurrence. The State Department refused to grant Mamise a passport, and dazed Widdicombe by letting him know confidentially that Mamise was on the red list of suspects because of her Germanized past. This was news to Widdicombe, and he went to Polly in a state of bewilderment.

Polly had never told him what Mamise had told her, but she had to let out a few of the skeletons in Mamise's closet now. Widdicombe felt compromised in his own loyalty, but Polly browbeat him into submission. She wrote to Mamise and broke the news to her as gently as she could, but the rebuff was cruel. Mamise took her sorrow to Davidge.

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