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- Castle Craneycrow - 6/48 -


responded to the big American's unconventional greeting. On the way home she found herself wondering if Dorothy had ever spoken to the prince of Philip Quentin and those tender, foolish days of girlhood.

"Has she lost any of the charm?" she asked.

"I am not quite sure. I'm to find out on Friday."

"Are you going back on Friday?" in surprise.

"To drink tea, you know."

"Did she ask you to come?"

"Can't remember, but I think I suggested it."

"Be careful, Phil; I don't want you to turn Dorothy Garrison's head."

"You compliment me by even suspecting that I could. Her head is set; it can't be turned. It is set for that beautiful, bejewelled thing they call a coronet. Besides, I don't want to turn it."

"I think the prince could become very jealous," she went on, earnestly.

"Which would mean stilettos for two, I presume." After a moment's contemplative silence he said: "By Jove! she is beautiful, though."

Quentin was always the man to rush headlong into the very thickest of whatever won his interest, whether it was the tender encounter of the drawing-room or the dangerous conflict of the field.

When he left Lady Marnham's house late on Friday afternoon he was more delighted than ever with the girl he had once loved. He was with her for nearly an hour before the prince arrived, and he had boldly dashed into the (he called them ridiculous) days when she had been his little sweetheart, the days when both had sworn with young fervor to be true till death. She did not take kindly at first to these references to that early, mistaken affection, but his persistence won. Before the prince arrived, the American had learned how she met him, how he had wooed and won, and how she had inspired jealousy in his hot Italian heart by speaking of the "big, handsome boy" over in New York.

He secured her permission to join her in the Row on Tuesday. There was resistance on her part at first, but he laughed it off.

"You should ask me to your wedding," he said, as the prince came in.

"But you will not be here."

"I've changed my mind," he said, calmly, and then smiled into her puzzled eyes. "Brussels, isn't it?"

"Yes; the middle of September," she said, dreamily.

"You'll ask me to come?"

"I should have asked you, anyway."

The two men shook hands. "Sorry I can't stay for tea, Dorothy, but I promised Lord Saxondale I'd meet him at four o'clock." He did a genuinely American thing as he walked up the street. He whistled a lively air.

VII

THE WOMAN FROM PARIS

For two weeks Phil Quentin did not allow Dorothy to forget the old association, and then came the day of her departure for Paris. Mrs. Garrison was by no means reluctant to leave London,--not that she disliked the place or the people, but that one Philip Quentin had unceremoniously, even gracefully, stepped into the circle of her contentment, rudely obliterating its symmetrical, well-drawn lines.

Mr. Quentin had much to overcome if he contemplated an assault upon the icy reserve with which Dorothy Garrison's mother regarded his genial advances. She recalled the days when her daughter and he were "silly, lovesick children," and there was not much comfort to be derived from the knowledge that he had grown older and more attractive, and that he lost no opportunity to see the girl who once held his heart in leash. The mother was too diplomatic to express open displeasure or to offer the faintest objection to this renewal of friendship. If it were known that she opposed the visits of the handsome American, all London would wonder, speculate, and finally understand. Her disapproval could only be construed as an acknowledgment that she feared the consequences of association; it would not be long before the story would be afloat that all was not smooth in the love affairs of a certain prince, and that the fires of an old affection were burning brightly and merrily in the face of a wrathful parent's opposition.

In secret, Dorothy herself was troubled more than she cared to admit by the reappearance of one who could not but awaken memories of other days, fondly foolish though they were. He was still the same old Phil, grown older and handsomer, and he brought with him embarrassing recollections. He was nothing more to her now than an old-time friend, and she was nothing to him. She loved Ugo Ravorelli, and, until he appeared suddenly before her in London, Philip Quentin was dead to her thoughts. And yet she felt as if she were playing with a fire that would leave its scar--not on her heart or Quentin's, perhaps, but on that of the man she was to marry.

It required no great strength of vision to see that Ravorelli was jealous, and it was just as plain that Quentin saw and enjoyed the uneasiness he was causing. She could not know, of course, that the American had deliberately planned to play havoc with the peace and comfort of her lover, for she recognized no motive. How could she know that Giovanni Pavesi, the tenor, and Prince Ravorelli were one and the same to Philip Quentin? How could she know that the beautiful Malban was slain in Rio Janeiro, and that Philip Quentin had seen a handsome, dark-eyed youth led to and from the murderer's dock in that far-away Brazilian city? How, then, could she understand the conflict that waged with herself as the battlefield?

As for Quentin, he was bound by no law or duty to respect the position of Prince Ravorelli. He was convinced that the sometime Romeo had the stain of blood on his delicate hands and that in his heart he concealed the secret of Carmenita Malban's death. In his mind, there was no mistake. Quentin's composure was shaken but once in the fortnight of pleasure preceding Dorothy's departure for Paris. That was when she indignantly, almost tearfully, called his attention to the squib in a London society journal which rather daringly prophesied a "break in the Ravorelli-Garrison match," and referred plainly to the renewal of an "across-the-Atlantic affection." When he wrathfully promised to thrash the editor of the paper, she shocked him by saying that he had created "enough of a sensation," and he went home with the dazed feeling of one who has suffered an unexpected blow.

On the evening before the Garrisons crossed the channel, Lord and Lady Saxondale and Philip Quentin found themselves long after midnight in talk about the coming marriage. Quentin was rather silent. His thoughts seemed far from the room in which he sat, and there was the shadow of a new line about the corners of his mouth.

"I am going to Brussels next week," he said, deliberately. The others stared at him in amazement.

"To Brussels? You mean New York," said Lady Frances, faintly.

"New York won't see me for some time. I'm going to make a tour of the continent.

"This is going too far, old man," cried Lord Bob. "You can't gain anything by following her, and you'll only raise the devil of a row all round. Dash it! stay in London."

"Thanks for the invitation, Bob, but I've always had a desire to learn something about the miniature Paris. I shall spend some time in Paris, and then go up there to compare the places. Besides, there won't be any row."

"But there will be, Phil," cried Lady Saxondale. "You must keep out of this affair. Why, all Europe knows of the wedding, and even now the continent is quietly nursing the gossip of the past two weeks." She dropped into a chair, perplexed and anxious.

"Let me tell you something, both of you. The events of the past two weeks are tame in comparison with those of the next two months," said Quentin, a new light in his eye. His tall figure straightened and his nostrils expanded.

"Wha--what do you mean?" floundered Lord Bob.

"Just this: I love Dorothy Garrison, and I'm going to marry her."

"Good heavens!" was the simultaneous gasp of Lord and Lady Saxondale. And they could not dissuade him. Not only did he convince them that he was in earnest, but before he left for Paris he had made them allies. Ugo's experience in Rio Janeiro shocked Lady Frances so seriously that she became a champion of the American's cause and agreed with Lord Bob that Dorothy should not be sacrificed if it were in their power to prevent. Of course Dickey Savage approved of Quentin's campaign and effectually disposed of Lady Jane's faint objections by saying:

"America for the Americans, Brussels for the Americans, England for the Americans, everything and everybody for the Americans, but nothing at all for these confounded foreigners. Let the Italian marry anybody he pleases, just so long as he doesn't interfere with an American. Let the American marry anybody he pleases, and to perdition with all interference. I'm for America against the world in love or in war."

"Don't forget, Mr. Savage, that you are a foreigner when on British soil," remonstrated the Lady Jane, vigorously.

"My dear Lady Jane, an American is at home anywhere in this world.


Castle Craneycrow - 6/48

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