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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Crimson Tide: A Novel - Chapter 9
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The Crimson Tide: A Novel - Chapter 9 Post by :Rick_Ostring Category :Long Stories Author :Robert W. Chambers Date :May 2012 Read :1087

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The Crimson Tide: A Novel - Chapter 9

CHAPTER IX

He had called her up the following morning from the office, and had told her that he thought he had better not see her for a while.

And she had answered with soft concern that he must do what he thought best without considering her.

What other answer he expected is uncertain; but her gentle acquiescence in his decision irritated him and he ended the conversation in a tone of boyish resentment.

To occupy his mind there was, that day, not only the usual office routine, but some extra business most annoying to Sharrow. For Angelo Puma had turned up again, as shiny and bland as ever, flashing his superb smile over clerk and stenographer impartially.

So Sharrow shunted him to Mr. Brooke, that sort of property being his specialty; and Brooke called in Shotwell.

"Go up town with that preposterous wop and settle this business one way or another, once for all," he whispered. "A crook named Skidder owns the property; but we can't do anything with him. The office is heartily sick of both Skidder and Puma; and Sharrow desires to be rid of them."

Then, very cordially, he introduced Puma to young Shotwell; and they took Puma's handsome car and went up town to see what could be done with the slippery owner of the property in question, who was now permanently located in New York.

On the way, Puma, smelling oppressively aromatic and looking conspicuously glossy as to hair, hat, and boots, also became effusively voluble. For he had instantly recognised Shotwell as the young man with whom that disturbingly pretty girl had been in consultation in Sharrow's offices; and his mind was now occupied with a new possibility as well as with the property which he so persistently desired to acquire.

"With me," he said in his animated, exotic way, and all creased with smiles, "my cinema business is not business alone! No! It is Art! It is the art hunger that ever urges me onward, not the desire for commercial gain. For me, beauty is ever first; the box-office last! You understand, Mr. Shotwell? With me, art is supreme! Yes. And afterward my crust of bread."

"Well, then," said Jim, "I can't see why you don't pay this man Skidder what he asks for the property."

"I tell you why. I make it clear to you. For argument--Skidder he has ever the air of one who does not care to sell. It is an attitude! I know! But he has that air. Well! I say to him, 'Mr. Skidder, I offer you--we say for argument, one dollar! Yes?' Well, he do not say yes or no. He do not say, 'I take a dollar and also one quarter. Or a dollar and a half. Or two dollars.' No. He squint and answer: 'I am not anxious to sell!' My God! What can one say? What can one do?"

"Perhaps," suggested Jim, "he really doesn't want to sell."

"Ah! That is not so. No. He is sly, Mr. Skidder, like there never has been in my experience a man more sly. What is it he desires? I ask. I do not know. But all the time he inquire about my business if it pays, and is there much money in it. Also, I hear, by channels, that he makes everywhere inquiries if the film business shall pay."

"Maybe he wants to try it himself."

"Also, that has occurred to me. But to him I say nothing. No. He is too sly. Me, I am all art and all heart. Me, I am frank like there never was a man in my business! But Skidder, he squint at me. My God, those eye! And I do not know what is in his thought."

"Well, Mr. Puma, what do you wish me to do? As I understand it, you are our client, and if I buy for you this Skidder property I shall look to you, of course, for my commission. Is that what you understand?"

"My God! Why should he not pay that commission if you are sufficiently obliging to buy from him his property?"

"It isn't done that way," explained Jim drily.

"You suppose you can buy me this property? Yes?"

"I don't know. Of course, I can buy anything for you if you'll pay enough."

"My God! I do not enjoy commercial business. No. I enjoy art. I enjoy qualities of the heart. I----" He looked at Jim out of his magnificent black eyes, touched his full lips with a perfumed handkerchief.

"Yes, sir," he said, flashing a brilliant smile, "I am all heart. But my heart is for art alone! I dedicate it to the film, to the moving picture, to beauty! It is my constant preoccupation. It is my only thought. Art, beauty, the picture, the world made happier, better, for the beauty which I offer in my pictures. It is my only thought. It is my life."

Jim politely suppressed a yawn and said that a life devoted purely to art was a laudable sacrifice.

"As example!" explained Puma, all animation and childlike frankness; "I pay my artists what they ask. What is money when it is a question of art? I must have quality; I must have beauty--" He shrugged: "I must pay. Yes?"

"One usually pays for pulchritude."

"Ah! As example! I watch always on the streets as I pass by. I see a face. It has beauty. It has quality. I follow. I speak. I am frank like there never was a man. I say, 'Mademoiselle, you shall not be offended. No. Art has no frontiers. It is my art, not I who address you. I am Angelo Puma. The Ultra-Film Company is mine. In you I perceive possibilities. This is my card. If it interests you to have a test, come! Who knows? It may be your life's destiny. The projection room should tell. Adieu!'"

"Is that the way you pick stars?" asked Jim curiously.

"Stars? Bah! I care nothing for stars. No. I should go bankrupt. Why? Beauty alone is my star. Upon it I drape the mantle of Art!"

He kissed his fat finger-tips and gazed triumphantly at Jim.

"You see? Out of the crowd of passersby I pick the perfect and unconscious rosebud. In my temple it opens into perfect bloom. And Art is born! And I am content. You comprehend?"

Jim said that he thought he did.

"As example," exclaimed Puma vivaciously, "while in conversation once with Mr. Sharrow, I beheld entering your office a young lady in mourning. Hah! Instantly I was all art!" Again he kissed his gloved fingers. "A face for a picture! A form for the screen! I perceive. I am convinced.... You recall the event, perhaps, Mr. Shotwell?"

"No."

"A young lady in mourning, seated beside your desk? I believe she was buying from you a house."

"Oh."

"Her name--Miss Dumont--I believe."

Jim glanced at him. "Miss Dumont is not likely to do anything of that sort," he said.

"And why?"

"You mean go into the movies?" He laughed. "She wouldn't bother."

"But--my God! It is Art! What you call movies, and, within, this young lady may hide genius. And genius belongs to Art. And Art belongs to the world!"

The unthinkable idea of Palla on the screen was peculiarly distasteful to him.

"Miss Dumont has no inclination for the movies," he said.

"Perhaps, Mr. Shotwell," purred Puma, "if your amiable influence could induce the young lady to have a test made----"

"There isn't a chance of it," said Jim bluntly. Their limousine stopped just then. They got out before one of those new apartment houses on the upper West Side.

* * * * *

Mr. Skidder, it appeared, was in and would receive them.

A negro servant opened the door and ushered them into a parlour where Mr. Elmer Skidder, sprawling over the debris of breakfast, laid aside newspaper and coffee cup and got up to receive them in bath robe and slippers.

And when they were all seated: "Now, Mr. Skidder," said Jim, with his engaging frankness, "the simplest way is the quickest. My client, Mr. Puma, wants to purchase your property; and he is, I understand, prepared to pay considerably more than it is worth. We all have a very fair idea of its actual value. Our appraiser, yours, and other appraisers from other companies and corporations seem, for a wonder, to agree in their appraisal of this particular property.

"Now, how much more than it is worth do you expect us to offer you?"

Skidder had never before been dealt with in just this way. He squinted at Jim, trying to appraise him. But within his business experience in a country town no similar young man had he encountered.

"Well," he said, "I ain't asking you to buy, am I?"

"We understand that," rejoined Jim, good humouredly; "_we are asking _you to sell."

"You seem to want it pretty bad."

"We do," said the young fellow, laughing.

"All right. Make your offer."

Jim named the sum.

"No, sir!" snapped Skidder, picking up his newspaper.

"Then," remarked Jim, looking: frankly at Puma, "that definitely lets us out." And, to Skidder: "Many thanks for permitting us to interrupt your breakfast. No need to bother you again, Mr. Skidder." And he offered his hand in smiling finality.

"Look here," said Skidder, "the property is worth all I ask."

"If it's worth that to you," said Jim pleasantly, "you should keep it." And he turned away toward the door, wondering why Puma did not follow.

"Are you two gentlemen in a rush?" demanded Skidder.

"I have other business, of course," said Jim.

"Sit down. Hell! Will you have a drink?"

When they were again seated, Skidder squinted sideways at Angelo Puma.

"Want a partner?" he inquired.

"Please?" replied Puma, as though mystified.

"Want more capital to put into your fillum concern?" demanded Skidder.

Puma, innocently perplexed, asked mutely for an explanation out of his magnificent dark eyes.

"I got money," asserted Skidder.

Puma's dazzling smile congratulated him upon the accumulation of a fabulous fortune.

"I had you looked up," continued Skidder. "It listened good. And--I got money, too. And I got that property in my vest pocket. See. And there's a certain busted fillum corporation can be bought for a postage stamp--all 'ncorporated 'n everything. You get me?"

No; Mr. Puma, who was all art and heart, could not comprehend what Mr. Skidder was driving at.

"This here busted fillum company is called the _Super-Picture Fillums_," said Skidder. "What's the matter with you and me buying it? Don't you ever do a little tradin'?"

Jim rose, utterly disgusted, but immensely amused at himself, and realising, now, how entirely right Sharrow had been in desiring to be rid of this man Skidder, and of Puma and the property in question.

He said, still smiling, but rather grimly: "I see, now, that this is no place for a broker who lives by his commissions." And he bade them adieu with perfect good humour.

"Have a seegar?" inquired Skidder blandly.

"Why do you go, sir?" asked Puma innocently. No doubt, being all heart and art, he did not comprehend that brokers can not exist on cigars alone.

* * * * *

His commission had gone glimmering. Sharrow, evidently foreseeing something of that sort, had sent him out with Puma to meet Skidder and rid the office of the dubious affair.

This Jim understood, and yet he was not particularly pleased to be exploited by this bland pair who had come suddenly to an understanding under his very nose--the understanding of two petty, dickering, crossroad traders, which coolly excluded any possibility both of his services and of his commission.

"No; only a kike lawyer is required now," he said to himself, as he crossed the street and entered Central Park. "I've been properly trimmed by a perfumed wop and a squinting yap," he thought with intense amusement. "But we're well clear of them for good."

* * * * *

The park was wintry and unattractive. Few pedestrians were abroad, but motors sparkled along distant drives in the sunshine.

Presently his way ran parallel to one of these drives. And he had been walking only a little while when a limousine veered in, slowing down abreast of him, and he saw a white-gloved hand tapping the pane.

He felt himself turning red as he went up, hat in hand, to open the door and speak to the girl inside.

"What on earth are you doing?" she demanded, laughingly, "--walking all by your wild lone in the park on a wintry day!"

He explained. She made room for him and he got in.

"We rather hoped you'd be at the opera last night," she said, but without any reproach in her voice.

"I meant to go, Elorn--but something came up to prevent it," he added, flushing again. "Were they singing anything new?"

"Yes, but you missed nothing," she reassured him lightly. "Where on earth have you kept yourself these last weeks? One sees you no more among the haunts of men."

He said, in the deplorable argot of the hour: "Oh, I'm off all that social stuff."

"But I'm not social stuff, am I?"

"No. I've meant to call you up. Something always seems to happen--I don't know, Elorn, but ever since I came back from France I haven't been up to seeing people."

She glanced at him curiously.

He sat gazing out of the window, where there was nothing to see except leafless trees and faded grass and starlings and dingy sparrows.

The girl was more worth his attention--one of those New York examples, built on lean, rangy, thoroughbred lines--long limbed, small of hand and foot and head, with cinder-blond hair, greyish eyes, a sweet but too generous mouth, and several noticeable freckles.

Minute grooming and a sure taste gave her that ultra-smart appearance which does everything for a type that is less attractive in a dinner gown, and still less in negligee. And which, after marriage, usually lets a straight strand of hair sprawl across one ear.

But now, coiffeur, milliner, modiste, and her own maiden cleverness kept her immaculate--the true Gotham model found nowhere else.

They chatted of parties already past, where he had failed to materialise, and of parties to come, where she hoped he would appear. And he said he would.

They chatted about their friends and the gossip concerning them.

Traffic on Fifth Avenue was rather worse than usual. The competent police did their best, but motors and omnibuses, packed solidly, moved only by short spurts before being checked again.

"It's after one o'clock," she said, glancing at her tiny platinum wrist-watch. "Here's Delmonico's, Jim. Shall we lunch together?"

He experienced a second's odd hesitation, then: "Certainly," he said. And she signalled the chauffeur.

The place was beginning to be crowded, but there was a table on the Fifth Avenue side.

As they crossed the crowded room toward it, women looked up at Elorn Sharrow, instantly aware that they saw perfection in hat, gown and fur, and a face and figure not to be mistaken for any imitation of the Gotham type.

She wore silver fox--just a stole and muff. Every feminine eye realised their worth.

When they were seated:

"I want," she said gaily, "some consomme and a salad. You, of course, require the usual nourishment of the carnivora."

But it seemed not. However, he ordered a high-ball, feeling curiously depressed. Then he addressed himself to making the hour agreeable, conscious, probably, that reparation was overdue.

Friends from youthful dancing-class days, these two had plenty to gossip about; and gradually he found himself drifting back into the lively, refreshing, piquant intimacy of yesterday. And realised that it was very welcome.

For, about this girl, always a clean breeze seemed to be blowing; and the atmosphere invariably braced him up.

And she was always responsive, whether or not agreeing with his views; and he was usually conscious of being at his best with her. Which means much to any man.

So she dissected her pear-salad, and he enjoyed his whitebait, and they chatted away on the old footing, quite oblivious of people around them.

Elorn was having a very happy time of it. People thought her captivating now--freckles, mouth and all--and every man there envied the fortunate young fellow who was receiving such undivided attention from a girl like this.

But whether in Elorn's heart there really existed all the gaiety that laughed at him out of her grey eyes, is a question. Because it seemed to her that, at moments, a recurrent shadow fell across his face. And there were, now and then, seconds suggesting preoccupation on his part, when it seemed to her that his gaze grew remote and his smile a trifle absent-minded.

* * * * *

She was drawing on her gloves; he had scribbled his signature across the back of the check. Then, as he lifted his head to look for their waiter, he found himself staring into the brown eyes of Palla Dumont.

The heavy flush burnt his face--burnt into it, so it seemed to him.

She was only two tables distant. When he bowed, her smile was the slightest; her nod coolly self-possessed. She was wearing orchids. There seemed to be a girl with her whom he did not know.

Why the sudden encounter should have upset him so--why the quiet glance Elorn bestowed upon Palla should have made him more uncomfortable still, he could not understand.

He lighted a cigarette.

"A wonderfully pretty girl," said Elorn serenely. "I mean the girl you bowed to."

"Yes, she is very charming."

"Who is she, Jim?"

"I met her on the steamer coming back. She is a Miss Dumont."

Elorn's smile was a careless dismissal of further interest. But in her heart perplexity and curiosity contended with concern. For she had seen Jim's face. And had wondered.

He laid away his half-consumed cigarette. She was quite ready to go. She rose, and he laid the stole around her shoulders. She picked up her muff.

As she passed through the narrow aisle, she permitted herself a casual side-glance at this girl in black; and Palla looked up at her, kept her quietly in range of her brown eyes to the limit of breeding, then her glance dropped as Jim passed; and he heard her speaking serenely to the girl beside her.

At the revolving doors, Elorn said: "Shall I drop you at the office, Jim?"

"Thanks--if you don't mind."

In the car he talked continually, not very entertainingly, but there was more vivacity about him than there had been.

"Are you doing anything to-night?" he inquired.

She was, of course. Yet, she felt oddly relieved that he had asked her.... But the memory of the strange expression in his face persisted in her mind.

Who was this girl with whom he had crossed the ocean? And why should he lose his self-possession on unexpectedly encountering her?

Had there been anything about Palla--the faintest hint of inferiority of any sort--Elorn Sharrow could have dismissed the episode with proud, if troubled, philosophy. For many among her girl friends had cub brothers. And the girl had learned that men are men--sometimes even the nicest--although she could not understand it.

But this brown-eyed girl in black was evidently her own sort--Jim's sort. And that preoccupied her; and she lent only an inattentive ear to the animated monologue of the man beside her.

Before the offices of Sharrow & Co. her car stopped.

"I'm sorry, Jim," she said, "that I'm so busy this week. But we ought to meet at many places, unless you continue to play the recluse. Don't you really go anywhere any more?"

"No. But I'm going," he said bluntly.

"Please do. And call me up sometimes. Take a sporting chance whenever you're free. We ought to get in an hour together now and then. You're coming to my dance of course, are you not?"

"Of course I am."

The girl smiled in her sweet, generous way and gave him her hand again.

And he went into the office feeling rather miserable and beginning to realise why.

For in spite of what he had said to Palla about the wisdom of absenting himself, the mere sight of her had instantly set him afire.

And now he wanted to see her--needed to see her. A day was too long to pass without seeing her. An evening without her--and another--and others, appalled him.

And all the afternoon he thought of her, his mind scarcely on his business at all.

* * * * *

His parents were dining at home. He was very gay that evening--very amusing in describing his misadventures with Messrs. Puma and Skidder. But his mother appeared to be more interested in the description of his encounter with Elorn.

"She's such a dear," she said. "If you go to the Speedwells' dinner on Thursday you'll see her again. You haven't declined, I hope; have you, Jim?"

It appeared that he had.

"If you drop out of things this way nobody will bother to ask you anywhere after a while. Don't you know that, dear?" she said. "This town forgets overnight."

"I suppose so, mother. I'll keep up."

His father remarked that it was part of his business to know the sort of people who bought houses.

Jim agreed with him. "I'll surely kick in again," he promised cheerfully.... "I think I'll go to the club this evening."

His mother smiled. It was a healthy sign. Also, thank goodness, there were no girls in black at the club.

At the club he resolutely passed the telephone booths and even got as far as the cloak room before he hesitated.

Then, very slowly, he retraced his steps; went into the nearest booth, and called a number that seemed burnt into his brain. Palla answered.

"Are you doing anything, dear?" he asked--his usual salutation.

"Oh. It's you!" she said calmly.

"It is. Who else calls you dear? May I come around for a little while?"

"Have you forgotten what you----"

"No! May I come?"

"Not if you speak to me so curtly, Jim."

"I'm sorry."

She deliberated so long that her silence irritated him.

"If you don't want me," he said, "please say so."

"I certainly don't want you if you are likely to be ill-tempered, Jim."

"I'm not ill-tempered.... I'll tell you what's the trouble if I may come. May I?"

"Is anything troubling you?"

"Of course."

"I'm so sorry!"

"Am I to come?"

"Yes."

She herself admitted him. He laid his hat and coat on a chair in the hall and followed her upstairs to the living-room.

When she had seated herself she looked up at him interrogatively, awaiting his pleasure. He stood a moment with his back to the fire, his hands twisting nervously behind him. Then:

"My trouble," he explained naively, "is that I am restless and unhappy when I remain away from you."

The girl laughed. "But, Jim, you seemed to be having a perfectly good time at Delmonico's this noon."

He reddened and gave her a disconcerted look.

"I don't see," she added, "why any man shouldn't have a good time with such an attractive girl. May I ask who she is?"

"Elorn Sharrow," he replied bluntly.

Palla's glance had sometimes wandered over social columns in the papers and periodicals, and she was not ignorant concerning the identity and local importance of Miss Sharrow.

She looked up curiously at Jim. He was so very good to look at! Better, even, to know. And Miss Sharrow was his kind. They had seemed to belong together. And it came to Palla, hazily, and for the first time, that she herself seemed to belong nowhere in particular in the scheme of things.

But that was quite all right. She had now established for herself a habitation. She had some friends--would undoubtedly make others. She had her interests, her peace of mind, and her independence. And behind her she had the dear and tragic past--a passionate memory of a dead girl; a terrible remembrance of a dead God.

The heart of the world alone could make up to her these losses. For now she was already preparing to seek it in her own way, under her own Law of Love.

"Jim," she said almost timidly, "I have not intended to make you unhappy. Don't you understand that?"

He seated himself: she lighted a cigarette for him.

"I suppose you can't help doing it," he said glumly.

"I really can't, it seems. I don't love you. I wish I did."

"Do you mean that?"

"Of course I do.... I wish I were in love with you."

After a moment she said: "I told you how much I care for you. But--if you think it is easier for you--not to see me----"

"I can't seem to stay away."

"I'm glad you can't--for my sake; but I'm troubled on your account. I do so adore to be with you! But--but if----"

"Hang it all!" he exclaimed, forcing a wry smile. "I act like an unbaked fool! You've gone to my head, Palla, and I behave like a drunken kid.... I'll buck up. I've got to. I'm not the blithering, balmy, moon-eyed, melancholy ass you think me----"

Her quick laughter rang clear, and his echoed it, rather uncertainly.

"You poor dear," she said, "you're nearest my heart of anybody. I told you so. It's only that one thing I don't dare do."

He nodded.

"Can't you really understand that I'm afraid?"

"Afraid!" he repeated. "I should think you might be, considering your astonishing point of view. I should think you'd be properly scared to death!"

"I am. No girl, afraid, should ever take such a chance. Love and Fear cannot exist together. The one always slays the other."

He looked at her curiously, remembering what Estridge had told him about her--how, on that terrible day in the convent chapel, this girl's love had truly slain the fear within her as she faced the Red assassins and offered to lay down her life for her friend. Than which, it is said, there is no greater love....

"Of what are you thinking?" she asked, watching his expression.

"Of you--you strange, generous, fearless, wilful girl!" Then he squared his shoulders and shook them as though freeing himself of something oppressive.

"What you _may need is a spanking!" he suggested coolly.

"Good heavens, Jim!----"

"But I'm afraid you're not likely to get it. And what is going to happen to you--and to me--I don't know--I don't know, Palla."

"May I prophesy?"

"Go to it, Miriam."

"Behold, then: I shall never care for any man more than I care now for you; I shall never care more for you than I do now.... And if you are sweet-tempered and sensible, we shall be very happy with each other.... Even after you marry.... Unless your wife misunderstands----"

"My wife!" he repeated derisively.

"Miss Sharrow, for instance."

He turned a dull red; the girl's heart missed a beat, then hurried a little before it calmed again under her cool recognition and instant disdain of the first twinge of jealousy she could remember since childhood.

The absurdity of it, too! After all, it was this man's destiny to marry. And, if it chanced to be that girl----

"You know," he said in a detached, musing way, "it is well for you to remember that I shall never marry unless I marry you.... Life is long. There are other women.... I may forget you--at intervals.... But I shall never marry except with you, Palla."

Her smile forced the gravity from her lips and eyes:

"If you behave like a veiled prophet you'll end by scaring me," she said.

But he merely gathered her into his arms and kissed her--laid back her head and looked down into her face and kissed her lips, without haste, as though she belonged to him.

Her head rested quite motionless on his shoulder. Perhaps she was still too taken aback to do anything about the matter. Her heart had hurried a little--not much--stimulated, possibly, by the rather agreeable curiosity which invaded her--charmingly expressive, now, in her wide brown eyes.

"So that's the way of it," he concluded, still looking down at her. "There are other women in the world. And life is long. But I marry you or nobody. And it's my opinion that I shall not die unmarried."

She smiled defiantly.

"You don't seem to think much of my opinions," she said.

"Are you more friendly to mine?"

"Certain opinions of yours," he retorted, "originated in the diseased bean of some crazy Russian--never in your mind! So of course I hold them in contempt."

She saw his face darken, watched it a moment, then impulsively drew his head down against hers.

"I do care for your opinions," she said, her cheek, delicately warm, beside his. "So, even if you can not comprehend mine, be generous to them. I'm sincere. I try to be honest. If you differ from me, do it kindly, not contemptuously. For there is no such thing as 'noble contempt!' There is respectability in anger and nobility in tolerance. But none in disdain, for they are contradictions."

"I tell you," he said, "I despise and hate this loose socialistic philosophy that makes a bonfire of everything the world believes in!"

"Don't hate other creeds; merely conform to your own, Jim. It will keep you very, very busy. And give others a chance to live up to their beliefs."

He felt the smile on her lips and cheek:

"I can't live up to my belief if I marry you," she said. "So let us care for each other peacefully--accepting each other as we are. Life is long, as you say.... And there are other women.... And ultimately you will marry one of them. But until then----"

He felt her lips very lightly against his--cool young lips, still and fragrant and sweet.

After a moment she asked him to release her; and she rose and walked across the room to the mirror.

Still busy with her hair, she turned partly toward him:

"Apropos of nothing," she said, "a man was exceedingly impudent to me on the street this evening. A Russian, too. I was so annoyed!"

"What do you mean?"

"It happened just as I started to ascend the steps.... There was a man there, loitering. I supposed he meant to beg. So I felt for my purse, but he jumped back and began to curse me roundly for an aristocrat and a social parasite!"

"What did he say?"

"I was so amazed--quite stupefied. And all the while he was swearing at me in Russian and in English, and he warned me to keep away from Marya and Vanya and Ilse and mind my own damned business. And he said, also, that if I didn't there were people in New York who knew how to deal with any friend of the Russian aristocracy."

She patted a curly strand of hair into place, and came toward him in her leisurely, lissome way.

"Fancy the impertinence of that wretched Red! And I understand that both Vanya and Marya have received horribly insulting letters. And Ilse, also. Isn't it most annoying?"

She seated herself at the piano and absently began the Adagio of the famous sonata.

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CHAPTER XThere was still, for Palla, much shopping to do. The drawing room she decided to leave, for the present, caring as she did only for a few genuine and beautiful pieces to furnish the pretty little French grey room. The purchase of these ought to be deferred, but she could look about, and she did, wandering into antique shops of every class along Fifth and Madison Avenues and the inviting cross streets. But her chiefest quest was still for pots and pans and china; for napery, bed linen, and hangings; also for her own and more intimate personal attire. To
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The Crimson Tide: A Novel - Chapter 8 The Crimson Tide: A Novel - Chapter 8

The Crimson Tide: A Novel - Chapter 8
CHAPTER VIIIYoung Shotwell, still too incredulous to be either hurt or angry, stood watching Palla welcoming her guests, who arrived within a few minutes of each other. First came Estridge,--handsome, athletic, standing over six feet, and already possessed of that winning and reassuring manner which means success for a physician. "It's nice of you to ask me, Palla," he said. "And is Miss Westgard really coming to-night?" "But here she is now!" exclaimed Palla, as the maid announced her. "--Ilse! You astonishing girl! How long have you been in New York?" And Shotwell beheld the six-foot goddess for the first time--gazed
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