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He dived over the bed to where his was not demobilized. I had to join a uniform lay, and extracted from the ship in dock-yard hands. Moreover, I breast-pocket a folded sheet of gray had no five hundred to put up. paper. Inside was a large roughly pen- He did not press the point. It seemed ciled tracing of the Eastern Mediter- to me that he had simply been the ranean. There was practically no no- temporary vehicle of an obscure wave menclature. An empty Italy kicked at of sentiment. We had been shipmates an equally vacuous Sicily. Red blots in the old days. He had never been a marked ports. The seas were spattered friend of mine, it must be understood. with figures, as in a chart, marking We had wrangled and snarled at each soundings. And laid out in straggling other over hot and dirty work, and had lines, like radiating constellations, were gone our separate ways ashore, and he green and yellow and violet crosses. had rushed from the shipping-office From Genoa to Marseilles, from Mar- that day in Shields and never even said seilles to Oran, from Port Said and good-bye ere he caught the train to Alexandria to Cape Bon, from Salonika Newcastle and matrimony. Yet here to Taranto, those polychromatic clus- now, after nine years, he abruptly ters looped and clotted in the sea-lanes, offered me a fortune! The slow inexoruntil the eye, roving at last toward the able passage of time had worn away intricate configuration of the Cyclades, the ephemeral scoria of our relations caught sight of the Sea of Marmora, and laid bare an unexpected vein of where the green symbols formed a close- durable esteem. Even now, as I say, ly woven texture.
he did not press the point. He was ‘Where did you get this?' I asked, loath to admit any emotion beyond a amazed; and Heatly smoothed the gruff solicitude for my financial agcrackling paper as it lay between us on grandizement. the bed. His shoulders worked and his While we were bickering amiably chin drew back, as if he were about to on these lines, the high, narrow door spring upon me.
opened, and the buxom woman ap“That's telling, he grunted. “The peared with a tea-tray. She smiled and point is, do you want to come in on went over to the embrasured window, this? These green ones, y' understand, where there stood a table. As she stood are soft things, in less ’n ten fathom. there, in her neat black dress and white The yellows are deeper. The others apron, her dark hair drawn in smooth are too big or too deep for us.'
convolutions about her placid brows, "Who's us?' I asked, beginning to her eyes declined upon the apparatus feel an interest beyond his own person- on the tray, she had the air of demure ality.
sophistication and sainted worldliness He began to fold up the chart, which to be found in lady prioresses and had no doubt come by unfrequented mother superiors when dealing with ways from official dossiers.
secular aliens. She was an intriguing “There's the skipper and the mate anomaly in this stronghold of ancient and meself,' he informed me; 'but we and militant celibates. The glamour can do with another engineer. Come of her individual illusion survived even in with us!' he ejaculated; 'it's the the introduction that followed. chance of a lifetime. You put up five “This is Emma,' said Heatly, as if hundred, and it's share and share alike.' indicating a natural but amusing fea
I had to explain, of course, that what ture of the landscape; 'Emma, an old he suggested was quite impossible. I shipmate o' mine. Let him have that
room next to this. Anybody been?' Duty and pleasure melt into one suf
“Yes,' said Emma in a soft, gentle fusing emotion and earth holds for her voice, ‘Captain Gosnell rang up. He no holier achievement. And so, as the wants to see you at the usual place.' reader is ready enough to believe, there
‘Then I'll be going,' said Heatly, were no games. Apart from her comdrinking tea standing, a trick abhorred mon urbane humanity, Emma's lot in by those who regard tea as something life, as the deserted wife of a Highland of a ritual. 'Lay for four at our table sergeant deficient in emotional stability, to-night, and send to the Regina for had endowed her with the smooth effimy friend's gear. And mind, no games!' ciency of a character in a novel. She
He placed his arm about her waist. credited me with a complete inventory Then, seizing a rakish-looking deer- of normal virtues and experiences, and stalker, he made for the door, and proceeded to increase my knowledge halted abruptly, looking back upon us
of life. with apparent malevolence. Emma
II smiled without resigning her pose of sorrowful experience, and the late en- The point of her story, as I gathered, gineer lieutenant slipped through the was this. My friend Heatly, in the door and was gone.
course of the years, had completed the So there were to be no games. I cycle of existence without in any degree looked at Emma, and stepped over to losing the interest of women. I knew help myself to tea. There were to be he was married. Emma informed me no games. Comely as she was, there that they had seven children. The was no more likelihood of selecting the youngest , had been born six months cloistral Emma for trivial gallantry before. Where? Why, in the house in than of pulling the admiral's nose. I Gateshead, of course. Did I know had other designs on Emma. I had Gateshead? I did. As I sat in that noted the relations of those two with embrasured window and looked down attention, and it was patent to me the thin, deep slit of the Strada Lucia, that Emma could tell me a good deal past green and saffron balconies and more about Heatly than Heatly knew jutting shrines, to where the Harbor about himself. Heatly was that sort of Marsamuscetto showed a patch of of man. He would be a problem of solid dark blue below the distant perenigmatic opacity to men, and a crystal- fection of Sheina, I thought of Gatesclear solution to the cool, disillusioned head, with the piercing East Coast matron.
wind ravening along its gray, dirty And Emma told. Women are not streets, with its frowsy fringe of coalonly implacable realists, they are un- staithes standing black and stark above conscious artists. They dwell always the icy river, and I heard the grind and in the Palace of Unpalatable Truth, yammer of the grimy street-cars strivand never by any chance is there ą ing to drown the harsh boom and crash magic talisman to save them from their from the great yards of Elswick on the destiny. Speech is their ultimate need. far bank. I saw myself again hurrying
. We exist for them only in so far as we along in the rain, a tired
young man in can be described. As the incarnate overalls, making hurried purchases of travesties of a mystical ideal, we in- gear
and tobacco and rough gray blankspire ecstasies of romantic supposition. ets, for the ship was to sail on the turn There is a rapt expression on the fea- of the tide. And I found it easy to tures of a woman telling about a man. see the small two-story house half-way
down one of those incredibly ignoble Emma. 'He is n't that sort of man.
"What is she like?' I asked, not so bered around her.
sure of this. 'Seven,' I murmured, and the bells 'Oh, I'm not defending him,' said of a herd of goats made a musical com- Emma with her eyes fixed on the sugarmotion in the street below.
bowl. 'Goodness knows I've no reason ‘Seven,' said Emma, refilling my cup.
to think well of men, and you're all ‘And he's not going home yet, even alike. Only, he's throwing himself though he has got out of the navy,'I away on a Well, never mind. You 'll observed with tactful abstraction. see her. Here's your room. You can
“That's just it,' said Emma, ‘not have this connecting door open if you going home. He's gone into this sal- like' vage business, you see. I believe it's 'Fine,' I said, looking round, and a very good thing.'
then walking into a sort of vast and ‘of course his wife gets her half-pay, comfortable crypt. The walls, five feet I mused.
thick, were pierced on opposite sides ‘She gets all his pay,' accented as for cannon, and one looked instincEmma. «He sends it all. He has other tively for the inscriptions by prisoners ways you understand. Resources. and ribald witticisms by sentries. There But he won't go home. You know, was the Strada Lucia again, beyond a there's somebody here.'
delicious green railing; and behind was So here we were coming to it. It another recess, from whose shuttered had been dawning on me, as I stared aperture one beheld the hotel courtdown at the blue of the Marsamuscet yard, with a giant tree swelling up and to, that possibly Heatly's interest for almost touching the yellow walls. I Emma had been heightened by the fact looked at the groined roof, the distant that he was a widower. Nothing so white-curtained bed, the cupboards of crude as that, however. Something black wood, the tiled floor with its old, much more interesting to the high gods. worn mats. I looked out of the window Between maturity and second child- into the street, and was startled by an hood, if events are propitious, men unexpectedly near view of a saint in a come to a period of augmented curios- blue niche by the window, a saint with ity fortified by a vague sense of duties a long sneering nose and a supercilious accomplished. They acquire a convic- expression as she looked down with her tion that, beyond the comfortable and stony eyes on the Strada Lucia. I humdrum vales of domestic felicity, looked across the Strada Lucia, and where they have lived so long, there saw dark eyes and disdainful features lie peaks of ecstasy and mountain- at magic casements. And I told Emma ranges of perilous dalliance. I roused that I would take the apartment. suddenly
'You'll find Mr. Heatly in the Café ‘But now he's out of the navy,' I de la Reine,' she remarked gently; remarked.
'he's there with Captain Gosnell.' You must n't think that,' said But I wanted to see neither Heatly
nor Captain Gosnell just yet. I said From the swaying platforms of the I would be back to dinner, and took Fourth Dimension we caught glimpses my cap and cane.
of starry destinies. We stood on the shoulders of the lesser gods, to see our
enemies confounded. And out of the III
mist and fume of the evening emerges After wandering about the town, a shadowy legend of the sea. gazing upon the cosmopolitan crowd By a legerdemain which seemed timely that thronged the streets, and musing and agreeably inexplicable, the marble upon many things, – upon deserted table under the arcade of the Libreria wives and deserting husbands, and became a linen-covered table in an imtheir respective fates, - I approached mense and lofty chamber. We were at the Libreria, and saw Heatly seated at dinner. The ceiling was a gilded framea table with two other men, in the work of paneled paintings. Looking shadow of one of the great columns. down upon us from afar were well-fed Just behind him a young
Maltese anchorites and buxom saints. Their kneeled by a great long-haired goat, faces gleamed from out a dark and which he was milking swiftly into a polished obscurity, and their ivory glass for a near-by customer. Heatly, arms emerged from the convolutions however, was not drinking milk. He of ruby and turquoise-velvet draperies. was talking. There were three of them Tall candelabra supported colored and their heads were together over the globes, which shed a mellow radiance drinks on the little marble table, so upon the glitter of silver and crystal. absorbed that they took no notice at There was a sound of music, which all of the lively scene about them. rose and fell as some distant door
There was about these men an aura swung to and fro; the air still trembled of supreme happiness. In the light of with the pulsing reverberations of a a match-flare, as they lit fresh ciga- great gong, and a thin whine, which rettes, their features showed up harsh was the food-elevator ascending in dry and masculine, the faces of men who grooves from the kitchen, seemed to dealt neither in ideas nor in emotions, spur the fleet-footed waiters to a frenzy but in prejudices and instincts and of service. High cabinets of dark wood desires. Then Heatly turned and saw stood between tall narrow windows me, and further contemplation was out housing collections of sumptuous plates of the question.
and gilded wares. On side tables heaps of bread and fruit made great masses
of solid color, of gamboge, saffron, and IV
tawny orange. Long-necked bottles Of that evening and the tale they told appeared reclining luxuriously in wickme, there is no record by the alert er cradles, like philosophic pagans about psychologist. There is a roseate glam- to bleed to death. our over a confusion of memories. At a table by the distant door sits There are recollections of exalted emo- the little boy with the freckled nose tions and unparalleled eloquence. We and beautiful gray eyes. He writes in tra versed vast distances and returned a large book as the waiters pause on safely, arm in arm. We were the gen- tip-toe, dishes held as if in votive offererals of famous campaigns, the heroes ing to a red Chinese dragon on the of colossal achievements, and the con- mantel above the boy's head. He querors of proud and beautiful women. writes, and looking out down the enthis way.
trance, suddenly laughs in glce. From he is, still on the job. Did he say twice? the corridor come whoops and a stac- Three times, counting - well, it was cato cackle of laughter, followed by a portentous roll of thunder from the First of all, an aunt left him a little great gong. The boy puts his hand money and he quit a second mate's over his mouth in his ecstasy, the job to start a small provision store. waiters grin as they hasten, the head Failed. Had to go to sea again. Then waiter moves over from the windows, he married. Wife had a little money, thinking seriously, and one has a vision so they started again. Prospered. Two of Emma, mildly distraught, at the stores, both doing well. Two counters, door. Captain Gosnell
, holding up the I am to understand. Canned goods, corner of his serviette, remarks that wines and spirits on one side; meats they are coming, and studies the wine and so forth on the other. High-class list.
clientèle. Wonderful head for business, They rush in, and a monocled major Mrs. Gosnell's. He himself, understand, at a near-by table pauses, fork in air not so dusty. Had a way with custoover his fried sea-trout, and glares. mers. Could sell pork in a synagogue, In the forefront of the bizarre pro- as the saying is. cession comes Heatly, with a Russian And then Mrs. Gosnell died. Great guardsman on his back. The other two shock to him, of course, and took all guardsmen follow, dancing a stately the heart out of him. Buried her and measure, revolving with rhythmic went back to sea. She was insured, and gravity. Behind, waltzing alone, is later, with what little money he had, Mr. Marks, the mate. Instantly, how- he started an agency for carpet-sweepever, the play is over. They break ing machinery. Found it difficult to away, the guardsman slips to the floor, get on with his captain, you see, being and they all assume a demeanor of a senior man in a junior billet. As I impenetrable reserve as they walk dec- very likely am aware, standing rigging orously toward us. They sit, and be- makes poor running gear. Was doing come merged in the collective mood of a very decent little business too, when the chamber. Yet one has a distinct the war. So he went into the Naval impression of a sudden glimpse into Reserve. That's how it all came about. another world — as if the thin yet Now, his idea is to go back, with the durable membrane of existence had experience he has gained, and start a split open a little, and one saw, store again-merchandising in his opinsingle moment, men as they really are. ion, is the thing of the future. With And while I am preoccupied with this little
money, the thing can be done. fancy, which is mysteriously collated Well! in the mind with a salmi of quails, But it was necessary to have a little Captain Gosnell becomes articulate. capital. Say five thousand. So here He is explaining something to me.
It is time Captain Gosnell should be A bad attack of pneumonia with described. He sits on my left, a portly, gastritis finished him at Dover. Doc'powerful man, with a large red nose tor said if he got away to a warmer and great baggy pouches under his climate, it would make a new man of stern eyes. It is he who tells the story. him. So a chat with a surgeon-comI watch him as he dissects his quail. mander in London resulted in his being Of his own volition he tells me he has appointed to a mine-layer bound for twice swallowed the anchor. And here the Eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps I