At five minutes before five o’clock Jack Manners entered the Palm Room
of the Hotel Lorne. This room adjoined the restaurant, and was crowded
with small tables lit by pink-shaded electric candles. The Lorne was a
good hotel, but too stodgily respectable to be amusing. As there was
no band at meal times or tea time, its clients were mostly unmodern
creatures with a strange preference for peace and quiet.
It was well that Jack had arrived before the hour fixed, for at five
precisely Juliet appeared. He had already engaged a table in a
secluded corner half screened by drooping, feather-like branches; but
his eyes were on the door, and he sprang up as the tall, girlish figure
drifted in between two palms.
At sight of his boyhood’s love, his heart gave a bound. How lovely she
was in her sheathlike grey dress, with dangling silvery things, like
clouds of dawn filming a pale sunrise sky! Her hat was simple yet
quaint, pushing forward her bright hair, and making her face look young
as a child’s–pathetically young. Yes, “pathetic” was the word, Jack
thought as he went to meet her, and she came hastening to him as to a
haven. And “pathetic” was a new word in connection with Juliet Phayre!
She had been proud, fantastic, absurd, charming, obstinate,
unaccountable, and a hundred other things, but never pathetic. Manners
wondered if it could be the dip of her odd hat-brim which gave her that
look of transparent pallor, and the blue shadows under her big eyes.
There were not many people in the room, as tea at the Lorne was far
from a fashionable function. Those who were there seemed absorbed, in
a tired, provincial-shoppers’ way, in the muffin and tea business.
Still, Juliet was too tall and beautiful not to be conspicuous even if
unrecognized, and a few weeks ago no Sunday Supplement had been
complete without her photograph. The two could do no more than gaze
deep, eyes in eyes, for an instant, as they met near the door, and
squeeze instead of shaking hands; but all prudence was Jack’s. He saw
by Juliet’s face that the tea-drinkers were of no more importance to
her than the chairs they sat in, and he could have kissed the face
turned up affectionately to his–if he would. But he would not, and he
did not even speak until he had her seated at their palm-screened table.
“Oh, Jack, it’s great to see you!” Juliet said, when a too-attentive
waiter had finished taking their order. Tears suddenly welled to her
eyes. She dived into a gorgeous gold mesh bag for a handkerchief,
which was not there. “Must be lost!” she sniffed. Hastily Jack passed
his across the table, and had a heart-piercing impression that he had
lived through this scene before, in happier days. But yes, of course!
Often, when he was a big boy and she was a little girl, she had come to
him for consolation. And she had always lost her “hanky!” It was
then, when he was about sixteen, and she eleven, that he had first
begun to love her, with a protecting love that had changed but never
waned as the years passed. Now she belonged to another man. Yet she
still called to him, across the gulf marriage had made, for help and
comfort! Jack Manners wondered what had happened to his red blood,
that the pain he suffered was not more acute.
“I’m too sorry for the child to think of myself just now,” he diagnosed
his feelings, with the picture of Pavoya in his mind. “The reaction
will come by and by.”
Juliet began at once to pour out her woes, forgetting to ask what had
happened during Jack’s visit to the house–what her husband had said,
or whether the pearls had come.
“Pat doesn’t love me,” she broke out. “That’s why I’m miserable. I
don’t know how to live. And I wouldn’t have believed it if any one had
told me–except himself.”
“You don’t mean that Claremanagh says—-” Jack began to blunder; but
Juliet cut him short. “Not in _words_, of course. But I found a
letter from that devil, Pavoya. It began, ‘My Best and Dearest
Friend’. Isn’t that the same thing as telling me? The woman wouldn’t
write to him like that if he didn’t encourage her.”
Jack longed to comfort the girl; but after what he had seen, he was at
a loss for consoling words. “How did you happen to find the letter?”
“Why, it had to do with the fuss about Pat’s seal ring,” the girl
confessed. “But first, I’d better explain that when I was being
married, I made firm resolutions never to mention the name of Pavoya to
Pat. Emmy West almost _dared_ me to! And that alone was enough to
show me it would be a silly mistake. But one night after we’d come to
New York and were settling down happily, we had an exciting, intimate
sort of talk about our pasts. It was a _beautiful_ talk! And I felt
so sure of Pat, I just couldn’t resist asking if he’d ever loved
Pavoya. He swore he hadn’t; he’d only admired her a lot, and flirted a
little. It was nothing at all beside what he felt for _me_. He was so
dear that I burst out about how nasty Emmy West and other people had
been–how unhappy they’d made me, more than once. Pat said ‘_Damn_
Emmy West and all the cats!’ I _loved_ that! And while the mood was
on, I asked if he were willing to promise he’d not see Pavoya in New
“The minute those words were spoken, I saw a change in Pat. He said he
couldn’t make such a promise. There might be circumstances which would
force him to see her. He wouldn’t call on her, though. I had to be
satisfied with that, and I was–_almost_, till one day when I’d teased
him to lend me his seal ring. It’s supposed to bring luck, you know.
So I thought I’d try it, for bridge. I had to wear it on my thumb;
it’s too big for my fingers. I was playing that afternoon at Nancy Van
Esten’s. I had a Frenchwoman for a partner. I’d never met her before.
Perhaps you knew her in Paris? A Comtesse de Saintville: her husband
is on some mission here. She’s a very impulsive woman–neurotic, I
should think. I didn’t feel drawn to her, because I’d heard she was a
great pal of Lyda Pavoya’s: that they went about together a lot.
Suddenly she noticed the ring. She squeaked, ‘Why, I _know_ that eye!
I saw it on a letter the other day.’ Then she shut up and turned red.
I could see her colour through _inches_ of powder! Of course, I
guessed where she’d seen the letter. And there was only one person who
could have sent it. Maybe I turned red, too. But I pretended to take
no interest, and Nancy Van Esten said ‘_Do_ let’s play bridge!’
“I went home perfectly wretched. Pat thought I was ill. I didn’t
contradict him. I hadn’t made up my mind what to do. But one thing I
did–I kept the ring. Day before yesterday he asked me for it. I knew
what that meant! He wanted to write to _her_ again–perhaps had a
letter to answer. I showed quite plainly that I hated giving up the
ring. But he didn’t care. He would have it. The only sort of
‘concession’ he made was to say he’d give it back next day–after he’d
finished a batch of correspondence. Well, the next day came, and he
didn’t give the ring back, though I saw he wasn’t wearing it. You know
how forgetful and careless he often is! I was sure he’d left the ring
where he sealed his letters. He’d promised I should have it again. I
suppose I had a right to _take_ it, hadn’t I?”
Juliet paused, her eyes dry now, challenging Jack. But he did not
speak, and she hurried on to defend herself. “I _felt_ I had the
right,” she persisted, without conviction. “So yesterday I went into
the room that used to be Dad’s den. It’s Pat’s den now. He wasn’t
“Did you think he would be?”
“No-o. As a matter of fact, he’d gone to the bank. You know he works
there. He’s quite keen. He’d been late about getting off, so he’d
started in a hurry. His desk wasn’t locked. I don’t know whether he
ever locks it, because I never tried the drawers before. Anyhow, in
the top drawer a lot of letters were tumbled in–letters he’d received,
and letters he’d written–not in envelopes yet. All sorts of things
were there in disorder–fountain pens, sealing wax, and–_the ring_!
It was on an open letter that lay face up, a letter with a purple
monogram of L.P. A perfume came up from the paper–a queer perfume,
and the writing–in purple ink–was queer, too. I saw the beginning I
told you about: ‘My Best and Dearest Friend’–in French. Oh, Jack, I
thought I should have died. I almost wish I had!”
“Nonsense!” Jack scouted her grief. “If the letter had had anything in
it Pat was ashamed to have you see, you may be sure even he wouldn’t
have been so careless.”
“It wasn’t exactly carelessness made him leave it,” Juliet said, sadly.
“It was trust in me. He didn’t dream that I–would do such a thing as
read a letter of his. And I didn’t read it. I didn’t read another
word, Jack. One side of me wanted to, horribly. The other side was
disgusted at the idea–the stronger side, it turned out.”
“Good girl!” cried Jack.
“Yes, I do think I was a saint. But virtue never has any reward except
its own. I left the ring and the letter. But I felt half dead. I
decided things couldn’t go on as they were. I meant to speak to Pat
when he came home.”
“And did you?”
“No, because he was ill–had a bad headache–the beginning of a cold.
Or else he was pretending. I can’t trust him now! But he looked pale
and odd, so I nobly left him alone till this morning. Then I went to
the study, and asked him to keep his promise about the ring. He pulled
open the drawer. There it was on the letter, as I saw it yesterday.
That gave me my chance. I said, ‘Pavoya has been writing to you. I
see her monogram.’ And I pretended to read, ‘My Best and Dearest
Friend’, for the first time.”
“By George!” exclaimed Jack, as Juliet stopped for breath.
“By George, indeed!” she echoed. “Pat accused me of being suspicious.
I accused him of being untrue. We had a _scene_! I never thought I
could say such things to Pat as I said. The way he took them made me
worse. He just looked at me in silence, with his mouth shut like a
steel trap. I suppose he hates me now. If he hadn’t deserved every
word I said, _I_ should deserve to be hated for saying them. If he’d
_loved_ me, he would have boxed my ears! I half expected he would.
But seeing him stand like a graven image, I turned to leave the room.
He opened the door for me to go out, and _handed me the ring_.”
“You took it!”
“I had to, or fling it in his face. I went straight off and wrote that
letter to you, which I sealed with the ring. Then I sent it back to
him by Old Nick. I haven’t seen Pat, of course, since he shut the door
on me. And I don’t know how we are going to behave to each other when
we meet next.”
“You will behave as if nothing had happened, of course,” Jack said with
“That’s your advice?”
“Certainly. And nothing _has_ really happened, so far as you know.
You have no proof that Claremanagh has broken his word about calling on
Pavoya. And you’ve seen no letter from him to her—-”
“Someone else saw his seal!”
“The most innocent words may have been under it. And you can’t blame a
man if a woman chooses to address him as her ‘dearest friend’. At
least you’ve no right to do so.”
“Don’t you think I have? That’s because you’re a man, always ready to
defend another man. And you don’t understand women.”
“Good heavens, I don’t claim to! And I do not defend Claremanagh. I
merely say, give him the benefit of the doubt. Only men and women in
melodrama refuse to hear any defense from the suspected one. You asked
for my advice. There it is, my child, whether it pleases you or not.”
“Well, if you want me to be as cool and reasonable as you are, you’ve
got to stand by me, and see me through.”
“I’m neither cool nor reasonable where you’re concerned, Juliet. But
you know I’ll stand by you.”
“You mean, you’ll not go to Long Island? You’ll stay in New York, and
be our guest?”
“I’ll not go to Long Island–at present. I’ll stay in New York. But I
_won’t_ be your guest.”
“You’re cruel, Jack! You’re selfish!” Juliet cried, as she had often
unjustly cried before.
“You know better,” he said. “It is the outsider who sees the game. I
ought to see it–if I’m to help. And I _wouldn’t_ be an outsider if I
were your guest. I’ve taken rooms at the Hotel Tarascon, only one
street away from your house and Pat’s.”
Juliet was silent for a moment. She had a hideous fear that, in her
anger, she had flung _Her_ house, _Her_ money, _Her_ everything, at
Claremanagh’s stone pale face.
At six forty-two the Duchess of Claremanagh descended from a plebeian
taxicab in front of her pretentious home. She had sent away her own
car, before going to the Lorne, and though there was no wrong in her
secret, she was weighed down by a sense of guilt as she went to her
room. This annoyed her, because the one guilty person in the house was
She had heard, toward the end of her conversation with Jack, that the
pearls had come while he was with the Duke; but the girl was too
wretched to care. How did she know that the story about Monsieur Mayen
was not a “fake”? It was quite possible that Pavoya had had the pearls
for months, and had only now given them up, under cover of Mayen’s
name, and his messenger on the _Britannia_. Juliet felt as Emmy West
had expected her to feel: She hated the pearls! Whatever the truth
was, she could take no pleasure in wearing them. All the same, she
_would_ wear them, to show curiosity-mongers that they were not in Lyda
Pavoya’s hands. She would wear them this very night.
She and Claremanagh were engaged to dine at the Van Estens’, and he had
insisted in the morning that he would be well enough to go. Now, for
all she could tell, he might have changed his mind, and ‘phoned that
his cold would keep him at home. That excuse should not affect _her_,
however. If he did not bring or send the pearls to her room, Simone
should take him a note. In this, Juliet would say, not that Jack had
told her, but that she “_supposed_ the messenger had arrived,” and she
would ask for the pearls to wear at Nancy’s dinner party–ask for them
not as a favour, but because of the right she had, as Duchess of
“Madame is very late!” were Simone’s first words as Juliet flung open
her bedroom door. “I began to be anxious.”
Juliet glanced at her wrist-watch and a French clock on the mantel. It
was true, she _was_ late! She had a new gown which there had been no
time to try, and dinner was at eight. The girl’s nerves, tensely
strained all day, began to get out of control. She was “jumpy” and
cross as Simone unfastened the many little hidden hooks and tiny lace
buttonholes of the “dawn-cloud” dress. Simone’s hands were cold as
ice, she complained. She hoped Simone wasn’t “sickening for
something!” Then, it seemed that the quaint grey hat had spoiled her
hair, which usually remained in perfect order throughout the day. It
had to be let down; and being immensely long and thick, would take
twenty minutes to rearrange. Never, never had Simone been so awkward!
Her fingers were all thumbs!
For a few moments, in her need of haste and her nervous agitation,
Juliet forgot the crying question of the pearls. But a knock at the
door which separated Pat’s room from hers set every pulse a-throb. _He
had come, of his own accord_!
The blood rushed to her cheeks, and as she turned to the opening door,
she looked gloriously beautiful. Her eyes met Claremanagh’s with the
desperate appeal of a loving, tortured soul, and he was disarmed.
“Could you let Simone go for a few minutes?” he asked. “I should like
to speak to you alone.”
A few seconds ago Juliet had been fuming because every instant counted.
But suddenly time ceased to be of importance. She didn’t care how late
she might be for Nancy’s dinner. She didn’t care if she were too late
to go at all!
Simone, who knew that things were not as they should be, expected her
mistress coldly to refuse the Duke. She was intensely surprised to be
sent away and told not to return for fifteen minutes. Sensitively
jealous, the maid resented being sent out of the room for _ce traitre_,
as she mentally called Claremanagh. What a different scene there would
be between husband and wife if she had betrayed to the Duchess the
secret of the afternoon! To do so would satisfy her love of drama, and
her pique against the Duke; but Simone knew too well “which side her
bread was buttered.” For one thing, the Duchess would not hear such a
tale from a servant, even her trusted maid. The Duke might be sent
“packing” by the heiress, but so would Simone! And for another thing,
there must be no possible suspicion when the “Whisperer” of the _Inner
Circle_ whispered next, as to where the whisper had started. It would
not do for Simone to know that Lyda Pavoya had called on the Duke of
Claremanagh in his American wife’s absence.
The instant the Frenchwoman was out of the room, Pat came close to
Juliet. He was dressed for dinner, all but coat and waistcoat, and
Juliet adored him thus, in his glittering white expanse of evening
shirt. She had often told him so.
“You were not very kind to me this morning,” he said, looking down at
her, his face graver than she had ever seen it before this day. “I may
as well tell you I was a good deal hurt, and angry, too–though I
haven’t deserved too well of you, perhaps. But to see you as you are
now makes me forget everything, except that we’ve been dear lovers, and
that you’re the most beautiful girl on earth–_my_ girl! You look just
as you looked that evening at Harridge’s, a million miles away, in old
London–the night before our wedding when I came in suddenly, and you’d
been washing your hair. Do you still hate your poor Romeo, _Giullietta
mia_, or do you feel like forgetting, too, and beginning all over
“I never hated you–not for a minute!” cried Juliet. “I thought you
“Then you were jolly well mistaken,” said Pat.
They gazed at each other like two fencers, for a moment; then Juliet
sprang up, and held out her arms. He clasped her, and kissed her hair,
her face, her bare white neck. Something he held in his hand, out of
her sight behind his back, fell to the floor. She started at the
sound, and he let her go, laughing like his old self.
“‘History repeats’!” he exclaimed. “Do you remember the little box I
brought you, with its blobby seals? Well, I have another sealed box
for you to-night. You’re to open it as you opened that one, and you
will find the same thing inside. Only, it will be the same thing with
He picked up the packet from the floor, and handed it to Juliet with a
flourish. “_Voilà, Madame! Les plus belles chases, pour la plus belle
“The pearls!” Juliet breathed.
“The pearls!” echoed Pat.
The girl was thrilled. How could she have hated the things so angrily
an hour ago? Her whole mood concerning them and concerning life had
changed under Pat’s kisses. She was going to _love_ his pearls for his
sake, and the sake of their own romance!
“Why, the seals haven’t been broken!” she exclaimed, as she took the
“No, I was determined you and you alone should do the breaking.”
“But–didn’t the messenger insist?”
“He did. Two can play at that game, though!”
“What about the receipt? I should have thought he’d object—-”
“‘Object’ is a mild word. I convinced him in the end, however–if not
that I was right, anyhow that I meant to have my own way. Darling,
this is a happy moment for me–though I didn’t expect to be happy
to-night. Break the seals. Open the box. And I shall know by your
eyes what you think of its contents.”
With trembling fingers Juliet obeyed. Each seal was so perfect, it
seemed a shame to shatter the delicate eye in crimson wax. Laughing,
she remarked that it was clear no thief had touched the box. Pat
agreed, and took from her the waterproof wrapping as she peeled it off.
Within was a wooden box, with a sliding lid, such as French jewellers
use. Claremanagh had bought it himself, at Mayen’s request, he
explained to Juliet; and the seal (made also by his ring) which held
the cover in place had been pressed by his hand in the presence of his
friend, the “super money-lender.”
“By Jove, I’m proud of it!” he exclaimed. “It’s a work of art. I’d
forgotten how good it was. The best seal I’ve ever done, and I’ve
called myself an expert–a Genie of the ring!”
It needed a pair of scissors to loosen the wax from the wood. Then
Juliet slipped off the lid, and took from the box something wrapped in
a handkerchief of fine Irish linen. “You’ll find my monogram on that
rag,” said Pat, apparently enjoying himself. “Mayen would make me wrap
the case with the pearls in something that belonged to me–something
that couldn’t be copied easily by a thief. My hair wasn’t quite long
enough to do up a parcel in, and this was the only other thing we could
While he gaily explained, Juliet slowly–tantalizing herself–unwound
the linen folds. So doing, she smelt a faint fragrance of
tobacco–Pat’s special tobacco which left its odour on all his clothes.
It had seemed exquisitely exciting to the girl when she was engaged to
Claremanagh, and it was more so than ever to-night, when they were
having this heavenly reconciliation–a reconciliation partly due to
Jack’s advice and his defence of the Duke. But it was odd that the
scent should have lasted all these months!
Juliet exclaimed over this to Pat, but he accounted for it by reminding
her how closely the handkerchief had been shut up in the box.
At last she was looking at the jewel-case which had once belonged to
the love-sick Tsarina! It was of white velvet, creamy now with age,
and stamped with crowns in gold, pathetically and appropriately dimmed.
The catch was curious and beautiful: a big _cabochon_ ruby shaped like
a heart. Juliet pushed it, and lifted the satin lid. There, on the
cushion, lay the long rope of pearls curled up like a snake, with the
curious diamond clasp for its head.
The girl had expected to cry out in amazed admiration at sight of the
wonderful thing–“Claremanagh’s ewe lamb.” She had expected to be
literally dazzled. But instead, she suffered a shock of disappointment.
With all the will in the world to be pleased and grateful, she was
dumb. She could think of nothing to say; and she tingled with
embarrassment under her husband’s eyes.
“Well, darling,” he said, after a few seconds of waiting. “Don’t the
poor pearls come up to your hopes?”
“Oh, yes!” she forced herself to answer. “Aren’t they _big_? Aren’t
they _blue_? I never saw any so-called ‘blue pearls’ so really blue as
“All the same, you are disappointed,” Pat judged, his eyes on her face.
“Don’t you think by this time I know your tones and your expressions?
Out with it, Jule! Bless you, _I_ shan’t be hurt. I didn’t make the
pearls, you know. And you’re a spoiled pet of fortune, brought up from
your babyhood to play with better toys than these. You could have had
pearls as big as plums, in a rope to your feet, if you’d wanted ’em.
Only your taste was too good. What’s the matter with these baubles?”
“Why,” the girl hesitated, “if I must say what I think you know I _am_
supposed to be a bit of an expert, in my little amateur way, it seems
to me these pearls aren’t as lustrous as they ought to be. Perhaps
they’re ‘sick’. They may need sea-water, or something. Yet they
haven’t the symptoms of ‘dying’ pearls. They haven’t lost their
colour. They’ve got almost too much–to look _real_.”
“They’re real enough!”
“Of course they _must_ be. And the clasp is charming, isn’t it? An
eye made of a blue sapphire, set in white diamonds, rimmed with tiny
black ones; an eye like the design of your seal, except that this one
looks to the right, and—-”
“To the _right_!” Pat caught the words from her mouth. “Impossible!”
Juliet stared. “But it does. You may see for yourself.”
“Good God!” There was horror in his voice.
Juliet could not understand. This scene began to feel like a queer
dream. “What is the matter?” she asked.
“Give me the thing!”
She handed him the rope.
He glared at the clasp as if the diamond and sapphire eye were a
miniature head of Medusa. Then he turned to her with a dazed
expression, still in silence.
“You frighten me,” she faltered.
“You–you say you’re an expert in pearls,” he said. “How can you tell
real ones from false?”
“One very simple way is to touch them to the tip of the tongue,” Juliet
explained, bewildered. “Real pearls are always cold. False ones can
be warmish. Besides, the surface feels different. And even if the
weight is right—-”
“Test these,” Pat said.
The girl took back the gleaming blue rope, and lifted the largest
pearls to her lips.
“They are–false,” she gasped, after an instant’s pause.
“You are sure?”
“Yes. I am sure.”
The two stared at each other in silence, and both were pale.
Juliet’s mind was confused. “The pearls false!” She tried to hammer
the words into her brain, and understand fully what the thing would
mean for her and Pat. She thought of Louis Mayen, the “super
money-lender,” who had kept the pearls for months, and supposed that
Claremanagh also must be thinking of him.
“What a treacherous, horrible man!” she broke out, at last. The Duke
stared, almost stupidly–if he could be stupid.
“_Who_ is treacherous–horrible?” he stammered.
“Why, your friend Mayen, of course!” she explained. “My poor Pat!”
Comprehension dawned in Claremanagh’s eyes. “Oh, Mayen had nothing to
do with this!” he assured her.
“Who else, then?” Juliet persisted. “The purser on the ship, who had
the box in his safe, coming over? But he didn’t have the seal. Mayen
had it. He–or his messenger could—-”
“Put that idea out of your head, my darling,” urged Claremanagh.
“Mayen had the seal, and of course it’s on the cards that Defasquelle,
his messenger, might have stolen it or had an imitation one made. But
neither of them had the—-”
Abruptly the Duke stopped. He had been talking fast and eagerly, and
he pulled himself up so short that it was as if he stumbled. Juliet
had been examining the quaint clasp of the false pearls, which she
still had in her hand, but that shocked pause brought her eyes to her
husband’s face. It had been pale and strained, but now there was a
look upon it of physical suffering.
“You’ve thought of the one who did it!” she cried. “Someone you care
By an intense effort Claremanagh seemed to withdraw all expression from
his face. It became dull, like a handsome mask. “I wish I _had_
thought of any one,” he said. “No such luck.”
Juliet had pitied him unselfishly at first, for after all the pearls
were his, not hers, and the loss–sentimental and material–would be
very great if the Tsarina’s pearls were gone. But his look, his
changed tone, and the cloud that seemed to rise between them like a
mist roused her vague resentment. She felt as if she had tried to
comfort him and he had pushed her away.
“Pat!” she exclaimed, sharply. “It’s no use your trying to put me off.
You have thought who changed the pearls–or anyhow, of a person who
_might_ have done it. You’ve simply got to tell me. I have a right to
“My dear child,” he protested. “You do spring to the wildest
Juliet’s anger rose. “The whole thing is wild. Only wild conclusions
are of any use. If you don’t want me to try and help you, I won’t.
But I can’t prevent myself from seeing one thing that perhaps you don’t
see yet. If the real thief isn’t soon found, and this story gets out,
there will be some horrid gossip about _you_.”
Claremanagh flushed scarlet. “I do see,” he said. “At least, I see
what you’re hinting at. If I purloin my own pearls, and secretly sell
them, while getting credit at the same time for giving them to my wife,
I bring off a very neat coup. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
The thing sounded so crudely villainous when put into words that Juliet
was ashamed. But there was a fierce light in the eyes which until
to-day had never looked at her except in love–or seeming love. Juliet
would not let her husband fancy for an instant that he had made her
flinch. “Yes, that’s what I mean,” she answered. “One’s dear friends
are capable of any insinuation.”
“And even those dearer and nearer than friends!” Pat flung at her.
“Oh, I realize that I’m the classic target. A poor Irish peer–the
poorest of the lot!–who dares to marry America’s richest girl. No
beastly trick too vile to believe of him! Of course a blighter like
that couldn’t have married the girl for love.”
To hear the words spoken, even in bitterest sarcasm, was like the prick
of a knife. Juliet had pushed them out of her own mind so often that
it was sharpest anguish to have them thrust into it by Pat’s adored
lips. If he loved her, she could not see how it was possible for him
to speak like that! In thinking this, she pitied herself desperately,
and forgot her own words which had lashed him to retaliation. She
forgot, too, how that very morning her lips had flung this very taunt.
She had shown him sharply how much her own she considered her fortune,
her house, and everything he shared as her husband.
It seemed to her that now he was inadvertently confessing, rather than
sneering at possible accusers. Juliet defended her own attractions
pitifully, yet there was nothing pitiful in her look. She loomed tall
and aggressive, and cruelly beautiful, with blazing eyes and cheeks.
“A great many men have told me they loved me, and that no one could
_help_ loving me for myself, but I never believed any of them till I
met you; and then I was a conceited fool to think you could care for me
after Lyda Pavoya.”
Pat started as if she had boxed his ears: and Juliet, too, was
surprised. She had not meant to say that. The thing had said itself.
For an instant his eyes flamed. Then their fire died out, and left
them cold. He looked disgusted. “I told you once that I had never
loved Mademoiselle Pavoya,” he said. “One isn’t used to having one’s
word doubted. It’s rather humiliating to have it happen with one’s own
wife. But putting that aside, why not keep to the point? Why bring up
the lady’s name when we are discussing quite a different affair–the
affair of these pearls?”
Out of Claremanagh’s coldness a demon was born, and flew straight to
Juliet’s heart. For an instant she lost all sense of her own love for
her husband. She hated him and wished to hurt him as much as she
could, because it seemed that he had gone out of his way to hurt her.
She tingled all over with indignant humiliation. It was as if Pat had
said, “I happen to be your husband, but you are only a commoner with no
traditions of fine breeding behind you, while I am a man whose
ancestors might have had yours for servants. No wonder you have no
intuitive idea of decent decorum.”
“_Is_ it a different affair?” she cried. “Or is it one single
affair–the affair of Lyda Pavoya and your pearls?”
Again the words had spoken themselves, but a flare of enlightenment
came with them. Surely something had _made_ her speak. Something
which _knew_ what she hadn’t thought of till this moment: that Lyda
Pavoya had taken the pearls.
How she could possibly have got them, if they had ever been in Louis
Mayen’s keeping, Juliet could not see. But she had them–she had them!
That was clear: and the fact would account for Pat’s sudden breaking
off of a sentence. He had begun to defend Mayen and Defasquelle. “But
neither one of them had the—-” he had said, and stopped short, with
an awful look on his face–the look of seeing something which no one
else must be allowed to see. What thing was there that Mayen and his
messenger had not, which another person might have had? A thing which
would make theft possible? A person who must be protected at any price?
Juliet could not guess yet what the thing might be, but the second
guess was all too easy.
This time the Duke showed no sign of surprise, therefore he was _not_
surprised. He merely looked more disgusted than before, which made his
lack of love for his wife and his wish to defend the Polish dancer more
evident to Juliet’s racked mind.
“When I gave you my word about not loving Mademoiselle Pavoya I gave it
also about the pearls,” Claremanagh said. “I told you then that she
had never had them. I can only repeat the statement, since you seem to
“I have forgotten nothing!” cried Juliet. “It’s a man’s code of
honour, I suppose, to defend a woman, no matter how. But if that’s not
so–if you don’t care enough for Lyda Pavoya to lie for her to your
wife, I’d like to know how you’ll answer this question: Do you swear
that you don’t suspect her of somehow stealing the real pearls, and
putting imitation ones in their place?”
Claremanagh’s face changed. He had been frankly though coldly furious.
Now he looked stricken. “I would lie for no one on earth, except for
you, and then only to save your life,” he said. “It’s an insult from
you to me to ask that I should swear such a thing.
“Very well, then, your simple word is enough,” said Juliet. “Give it
that you don’t think Pavoya has the pearls.”
Claremanagh was silent, his eyes upon her. And in that silence, short
as it was, Juliet heard a tiny voice speak. It whispered: “The thing
Pavoya had, which the other didn’t have, was a _copy_. _She had a copy
of the pearls_.”
“I could not believe such a thing,” the Duke answered. “I have known
Mademoiselle Pavoya for years. She is a good woman.”
Juliet laughed, and laughing flung the false pearls on the floor. “‘A
good woman!’ You _have_ original ideas! I’ve heard a lot of things
about her from a lot of people, but never that before.”
“Because only malicious speeches are amusing, they are the ones ‘a lot
of people’–the lot we know–mostly make.”
“Pooh!” sneered Juliet. “I see the whole thing now–except how she got
the real pearls. But this imitation rope she _had_. You can’t face
me, and say she hadn’t.”
“I’ll say nothing more on the subject while you’re in this mood,”
“All right, if you think prevarication more honourable than lying
straight out,” panted Juliet, holding down sobs. “But you won’t do her
any good with me–or yourself either. You were scared _blue_ when I
said the eye of the clasp looked to the right instead of to the left,
like the eye on your seal ring. You’d hardly believe it till you _had_
to. Then the whole thing grew clear to you, as it’s growing for me
now. This copy existed. The clasp was made the wrong way, by mistake
or on purpose. As soon as I spoke, you _knew_ what had happened. Your
first thought–as soon as you could think–was to save that woman. But
you shan’t save her! I—-”
“Do you intend to make a scandal of this beastly business?” the Duke
cut her short with violence. “If you do, you will repent it all your
Juliet quivered. “I don’t care about my life now,” she said. “You’ve
spoilt it. You couldn’t punish me any more than you’ve punished me
already–for loving and trusting you. So it doesn’t matter what I—-”
“It matters immensely,” he broke in again. “You are cruel to
yourself–to me–to a woman who has _never_ injured you. When I say
that you’ll repent making a scandal, I don’t mean because I’d try to
‘punish’ you. My God, no! You’ll repent because you will be doing a
great injustice which can’t possibly be repaired. And at heart, when
you’re true to yourself, you are just.”
“It’s no use your trying to appeal to my sense of justice,” Juliet
warned him. “That’s the last thing for _you_ to bring up!”
He looked at her very sadly, very strangely, it seemed to his wife, as
if anger were dying out, and a great sorrow had taken its place. But
that was only his cleverness–his deadly, Irish cleverness, of course!
“What, then, do you intend to do?” he asked.
Once more confusion fogged the girl’s brain, a desolate confusion like
chaos after ordered beauty; the end of all joy, all loveliness.
“I don’t know yet,” she said, dully. “I shall have to think.”
As Juliet spoke, fingers tapped lightly on the door: Simone’s fingers,
no doubt. Her fifteen minutes of banishment had passed.
“Come in!” Juliet spoke mechanically; and if she wished to withdraw
the words, it was too late. The Frenchwoman opened the door.
“_Madame la Duchesse_ is ready for me to finish dressing her?” she
Vaguely it struck Juliet that Simone’s voice was not quite natural.
She had probably been listening at the keyhole, and had heard
everything. But, on second thoughts, what _did_ it matter? Juliet
told herself miserably that nothing could be the same as it had been.
She could not go on after this, living with Pat as his wife. All the
world would soon know that there was trouble between them, and Simone’s
knowing first was of little importance. She was only a servant, and
luckily a loyal and discreet servant.
As Juliet paused a second before speaking, Claremanagh answered for
her: “The Duchess is feeling very tired, and as you know, I’m not well.
We’ve about decided to telephone that we can’t go out,” he said.
“But not _quite_ decided,” his wife amended. “I think that if you
prefer to stay at home, I shall go and make your excuses in person.”
Pat showed surprise. He had taken it completely for granted that she
would not dream of dining at the Van Estens’. “No,” he decided, after
an instant’s thought. “If you are equal to it, so am I.”
“He’s afraid to trust me alone,” Juliet told herself, “for fear I shall
say something.” “Very well,” she said aloud. “You better hurry up and
get ready, then. We’re late as it is.”
Pat did not answer. Without another word or look he went to his room
and shut the door between. Evidently Nickson had not been with his
master to-night. Juliet wondered where the man was, and with a bitter
sense of amusement pictured “Old Nick’s” emotions if she began a suit
for divorce against the Duke. She had always liked the queer fellow,
who had been as fine a soldier, Pat said, as he was an indifferent
valet: had liked him partly because of his thrilled admiration of her.
Deeply as he adored her at present, however, that love was nothing
beside what he felt for the Duke. It made Juliet a shade more
miserable than before to know that the worshipping Nick would soon
cease to worship. So far, she had kept back her tears, but they were
becoming irrepressible when Simone exclaimed: “Oh, the wonderful
pearls! _Madame la Duchesse_ has let them fall on the floor.”
The current of Juliet’s thoughts changed instantly, and the brimming
tears dried at their source.
“The wonderful pearls!” she repeated, with infinite bitterness, sure as
she was that Simone had been at the keyhole. But the look of pained
astonishment on the woman’s face made her wonder if, after all, Simone
_had_ heard “everything.” Perhaps she had caught parts only of the
conversation, and had been trying to find out “for sure” whether she
had heard aright.
Juliet had perfect trust in Simone, so far as discretion was concerned,
but it was within her estimate of the maid’s character that she should
eavesdrop. People of her class did that sort of thing and thought it
no harm. It made the drama of their lives! Simone would keep her
knowledge or her suspicion to herself, of course, until whatever was
fated to happen had happened. Then, no doubt, she would tell her
friends that she’d “known all along.” Still, Juliet suddenly disliked
the thought of being pitied even by her maid. Simone was aware that
her mistress had looked forward to getting the pearls. It was
humiliating that she should have instead a mere string of wax or
fish-scale beads! If Simone had heard, it couldn’t be helped. If she
hadn’t, however, she should remain in ignorance.
“They’re not quite as glorious as I expected them to be,” Juliet
remarked. “I suppose it’s like that with everything in life.”
“But they are very beautiful,” ventured Simone with the privileged air
of the old and trusted servant which she put on like a sort of chain
armour at times. “Will _Madame la Duchesse_ wear them to-night?”
Juliet was taken aback. She had, of course, intended to wear the
Tsarina pearls. She had told herself that she would do so, if only
that everyone should see that she, not Pavoya, had them. But since
discovering the truth about them–why, it had not occurred to her that
she could wear the things! Rather would she have thrown them into the
fire. Suddenly, however, she saw the matter from another point of
view. Suppose she did appear wearing the rope? To do so would give
her time to think. And it would be interesting to see Pat’s face when
he caught sight of them.
“Oh, yes, I’ll wear the pearls,” she said. “You know perfectly well I
had this shot blue and silver tissue made on purpose to go with them.
Why shouldn’t I wear them, Simone?”
Simone did not answer, because she understood that no answer was
expected. She _had_ overheard something, and it was not her fault that
she had not overheard all. Unfortunately for her the room was large,
and the Duke and Duchess had stood talking at a good distance from the
door. The manner of her mistress, however, filled up several aching
gaps in Simone’s curiosity; and putting together what she knew and what
she surmised, the maid changed her mind as to her own wisest course of
She had intended to sacrifice inclination to prudence, and say nothing
to the Duchess about the Polish dancer’s visit that afternoon. Now,
she decided that it would be best to mention it. How to work up to the
subject was the only doubt on that score left in her mind.
“_Madame la Duchesse_ is _merveilleuse–etíncilante!_” she cried, as
she held the rope of big blue beads over Juliet’s head, and let it fall
gently upon the swans-down whiteness of the bare neck. “Madame was
perfect as a girl. Now she goes beyond perfection. Other women are
charming–the beautiful Pole, Mademoiselle Pavoya for instance, but—-”
Juliet darted upon her a piercing, angry glance. “What makes you think
or speak of Pavoya just now?” she sharply questioned.
“Oh–I hardly know. Except that she _is_ of a great beauty, and–in
her way–of a strange attraction. And then, also, as no doubt Togo
told _Madame la Duchesse_, la Pavoya called to-day.”
“Called to-day!” echoed Juliet. “You don’t mean _here_?”
“But yes, Madame. Did not Madame know? I was about to go out with the
bulldog. Being permitted to pass down by the front stairs, I saw the
lady arrive. To be sure, she had on a thick embroidered veil through
which, perhaps, many people would not recognize the most famous
features. But my eyes are sharp. And then, her figure! There are not
two such. Though, to my taste, that of _Madame la Duchesse_ is more
alluring, more human. The dancer is a mere _sprite_! I said to
myself, ‘It must be about the charity performance for the Armenians
that she is here to consult with my mistress’!”
As she thus interpreted her own impressions, Simone busied herself in
getting Juliet’s ermine cloak, which previously she had laid ready on
the bed. Sometimes, when the Claremanaghs were going out together in
the evening, the Duke came in and took his wife’s coat from Simone,
slipping it in a leisurely and loving way over the white arms, as if he
never tired of touching the adorable creature who belonged to him. But
Simone did not think he would come to perform that office to-night; and
besides, she wanted an excuse to escape from her mistress’s great,
wide-open blue eyes. The maid had taken a tactful way of explaining
the dancer’s (possible) motive for calling; because if she dared to
accuse the Duke by a hint, the Duchess would be bound to stop her.
Juliet was struck dumb for a moment. She would not have thought, after
what had passed between her and Pat, that she could be surprised by
anything concerning him and Pavoya, but now she knew that she could be
Pavoya had called! Togo had let her in, the traitor! bribed by
Claremanagh, who had sunk low enough even for _that_! Still, had Togo
let the woman in? It was easy to make sure.
“A pity I was out,” Juliet said. “I suppose she went away when she
“No, Madame, she came in,” replied Simone with the innocence of a
child. “I do not know how long she stayed. _Monsieur le Duc_ will
tell Madame that. It was to his study that Togo took her.”
“Oh, very well. I can ask him what message she left,” Juliet promptly
cut short this confidence. She had no wish to learn more, and her
suppression of Simone was no triumph of honour over curiosity. She
felt a sick, languid repulsion against the whole subject, for she knew
the worst now, and any further information would be a kind of horrid
“Oh, Pat, Pat!” her heart mourned. “How has my idol fallen! And he
talked so nobly about never lying!”
That night, when the Duke and Duchess of Claremanagh came into their
box in time for the second act of “Rigoletto,” everyone “in the know”
said “Look! She’s got the Tsarina pearls at _last_!”
And Claremanagh wondered at her. He wondered terribly, abysmally, why,
after their scene together, and her threats, she had worn the
abominable things. He had wondered about that ever since, the ermine
cloak removed, he had seen the blue beads on her neck at the Van
He ought, perhaps, to have rejoiced at the sight, for she could not
wear a rope of imitation pearls, and accuse Lyda Pavoya of stealing the
real ones. That would be to punish him less severely than herself.
Yet Pat was uneasy as well as unhappy. The only thing he understood
clearly in all the hideous affair was that–he understood Juliet not at
all. He asked himself over and over again a question he could not,
would not ask her–what, in God’s name, she intended to do next?
All the way home, when at length they were again alone together in
their brilliantly lit limousine, she did not utter one word, nor once
look at him. She sat quite still, pretending to be asleep, but
Claremanagh knew that he was no wider awake than she. A dozen times he
longed to speak; but there are some things a man cannot do. She seemed
to have barricaded herself behind a transparent wall, through which he
could see, yet not touch, her–as if she had been a lovely statuette
under a glass case.
At the house she sprang past him quickly, without accepting his help to
alight, and ran up the two or three marble steps. Claremanagh had his
key, but before he could use it Juliet pressed the electric bell, and
Togo appeared. The girl did not look back at her husband, to see
whether he meant to follow. And suddenly he did not mean to do so. He
hadn’t been sure, at first, what he would do: but he could not bear to
have her shut the door of her room upon him, as she surely would.
With a gesture he signed to Togo that he was not coming in. The car
waited, but he said to the chauffeur in the pleasant, courteous tone
which won the affection of servants, “I shan’t want you–thanks.”
In that mood, he could not make use of Juliet’s car. He preferred the
poor independence of his own feet, even while he laughed at himself,
bitterly, for so petty a revolt. He walked to the “Grumblers,” that
one of his several clubs at which he was likely to meet a man with whom
he had business–business important enough to remember even now.
“I won’t keep the beastly money on me any longer,” he thought. “The
fellow shall have it to-night.”