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MAJESTY


by
 

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
 

Saturday Evening Post (13 July 1929)



The extraordinary thing is not that people in a lifetime turn out
worse or better than we had prophesied; particularly in America
that is to be expected.  The extraordinary thing is how people keep
their levels, fulfill their promises, seem actually buoyed up by an
inevitable destiny.

One of my conceits is that no one has ever disappointed me since I
turned eighteen and could tell a real quality from a gift for
sleight of hand, and even many of the merely showy people in my
past seem to go on being blatantly and successfully showy to the
end.

Emily Castleton was born in Harrisburg in a medium-sized house,
moved to New York at sixteen to a big house, went to the Briarly
School, moved to an enormous house, moved to a mansion at Tuxedo
Park, moved abroad, where she did various fashionable things and
was in all the papers.  Back in her debutante year one of those
French artists who are so dogmatic about American beauties,
included her with eleven other public and semipublic celebrities as
one of America's perfect types.  At the time numerous men agreed
with him.

She was just faintly tall, with fine, rather large features, eyes
with such an expanse of blue in them that you were really aware of
it whenever you looked at her, and a good deal of thick blond hair--
arresting and bright.  Her mother and father did not know very
much about the new world they had commandeered so Emily had to
learn everything for herself, and she became involved in various
situations and some of the first bloom wore off.  However, there
was bloom to spare.  There were engagements and semi-engagements,
short passionate attractions, and then a big affair at twenty-two
that embittered her and sent her wandering the continents looking
for happiness.  She became "artistic" as most wealthy unmarried
girls do at that age, because artistic people seem to have some
secret, some inner refuge, some escape.  But most of her friends
were married now, and her life was a great disappointment to her
father; so, at twenty-four, with marriage in her head if not in her
heart, Emily came home.

This was a low point in her career and Emily was aware of it.  She
had not done well.  She was one of the most popular, most beautiful
girls of her generation with charm, money and a sort of fame, but
her generation was moving into new fields.  At the first note of
condescension from a former schoolmate, now a young "matron," she
went to Newport and was won by William Brevoort Blair.  Immediately
she was again the incomparable Emily Castleton.  The ghost of the
French artist walked once more in the newspapers; the most-talked-
of leisure-class event of October was her wedding day.


Splendor to mark society nuptials. . . .  Harold Castleton sets out
a series of five-thousand-dollar pavilions arranged like the
interconnecting tents of a circus, in which the reception, the
wedding supper and the ball will be held. . . .  Nearly a thousand
guests, many of them leaders in business, will mingle with those
who dominate the social world. . . .  The wedding gifts are
estimated to be worth a quarter of a million dollars. . . .


An hour before the ceremony, which was to be solemnized at St.
Bartholomew's, Emily sat before a dressing-table and gazed at her
face in the glass.  She was a little tired of her face at that
moment and the depressing thought suddenly assailed her that it
would require more and more looking after in the next fifty years.

"I ought to be happy," she said aloud, "but every thought that
comes into my head is sad."

Her cousin, Olive Mercy, sitting on the side of the bed, nodded.
"All brides are sad."

"It's such a waste," Emily said.

Olive frowned impatiently.

"Waste of what?  Women are incomplete unless they're married and
have children."

For a moment Emily didn't answer.  Then she said slowly, "Yes, but
whose children?"

For the first time in her life, Olive, who worshipped Emily, almost
hated her.  Not a girl in the wedding party but would have been
glad of Brevoort Blair--Olive among the others.

"You're lucky," she said.  "You're so lucky you don't even know it.
You ought to be paddled for talking like that."

"I shall learn to love him," announced Emily facetiously.  "Love
will come with marriage.  Now, isn't that a hell of a prospect?"

"Why so deliberately unromantic?"

"On the contrary, I'm the most romantic person I've ever met in my
life.  Do you know what I think when he puts his arms around me?  I
think that if I look up I'll see Garland Kane's eyes."

"But why, then--"

"Getting into his plane the other day I could only remember Captain
Marchbanks and the little two-seater we flew over the Channel in,
just breaking our hearts for each other and never saying a word
about it because of his wife.  I don't regret those men; I just
regret the part of me that went into caring.  There's only the
sweepings to hand to Brevoort in a pink waste-basket.  There should
have been something more; I thought even when I was most carried
away that I was saving something for the one.  But apparently I
wasn't."  She broke off and then added:  "And yet I wonder."

The situation was no less provoking to Olive for being
comprehensible, and save for her position as a poor relation, she
would have spoken her mind.  Emily was well spoiled--eight years of
men had assured her they were not good enough for her and she had
accepted the fact as probably true.

"You're nervous."  Olive tried to keep the annoyance out of her
voice.  "Why not lie down for an hour?"

"Yes," answered Emily absently.

Olive went out and downstairs.  In the lower hall she ran into
Brevoort Blair, attired in a nuptial cutaway even to the white
carnation, and in a state of considerable agitation.

"Oh, excuse me," he blurted out.  "I wanted to see Emily.  It's
about the rings--which ring, you know.  I've got four rings and she
never decided and I can't just hold them out in the church and have
her take her pick."

"I happen to know she wants the plain platinum band.  If you want
to see her anyhow--"

"Oh, thanks very much.  I don't want to disturb her."

They were standing close together, and even at this moment when he
was gone, definitely preëmpted, Olive couldn't help thinking how
alike she and Brevoort were.  Hair, coloring, features--they might
have been brother and sister--and they shared the same shy serious
temperaments, the same simple straightforwardness.  All this
flashed through her mind in an instant, with the added thought that
the blond, tempestuous Emily, with her vitality and amplitude of
scale, was, after all, better for him in every way; and then,
beyond this, a perfect wave of tenderness, of pure physical pity
and yearning swept over her and it seemed that she must step
forward only half a foot to find his arms wide to receive her.

She stepped backward instead, relinquishing him as though she still
touched him with the tip of her fingers and then drew the tips
away.  Perhaps some vibration of her emotion fought its way into
his consciousness, for he said suddenly:

"We're going to be good friends, aren't we?  Please don't think I'm
taking Emily away.  I know I can't own her--nobody could--and I
don't want to."

Silently, as he talked, she said good-by to him, the only man she
had ever wanted in her life.

She loved the absorbed hesitancy with which he found his coat and
hat and felt hopefully for the knob on the wrong side of the door.

When he had gone she went into the drawing-room, gorgeous and
portentous; with its painted bacchanals and massive chandeliers and
the eighteenth-century portraits that might have been Emily's
ancestors, but weren't, and by that very fact belonged the more to
her.  There she rested, as always, in Emily's shadow.

Through the door that led out to the small, priceless patch of
grass on Sixtieth Street now inclosed by the pavilions, came her
uncle, Mr. Harold Castleton.  He had been sampling his own
champagne.

"Olive so sweet and fair."  He cried emotionally, "Olive, baby,
she's done it.  She was all right inside, like I knew all the time.
The good ones come through, don't they--the real thoroughbreds?  I
began to think that the Lord and me, between us, had given her too
much, that she'd never be satisfied, but now she's come down to
earth just like a"--he searched unsuccessfully for a metaphor--
"like a thoroughbred, and she'll find it not such a bad place after
all."  He came closer.  "You've been crying, little Olive."

"Not much."

"It doesn't matter," he said magnanimously.  "If I wasn't so happy
I'd cry too."

Later, as she embarked with two other bridesmaids for the church,
the solemn throbbing of a big wedding seemed to begin with the
vibration of the car.  At the door the organ took it up, and later
it would palpitate in the cellos and base viols of the dance, to
fade off finally with the sound of the car that bore bride and
groom away.

The crowd was thick around the church, and ten feet out of it the
air was heavy with perfume and faint clean humanity and the fabric
smell of new clean clothes.  Beyond the massed hats in the van of
the church the two families sat in front rows on either side.  The
Blairs--they were assured a family resemblance by their expression
of faint condescension, shared by their in-laws as well as by true
Blairs--were represented by the Gardiner Blairs, senior and junior;
Lady Mary Bowes Howard, née Blair; Mrs. Potter Blair; Mrs. Princess
Potowki Parr Blair, née Inchbit; Miss Gloria Blair, Master Gardiner
Blair III, and the kindred branches, rich and poor, of Smythe,
Bickle, Diffendorfer and Hamn.  Across the aisle the Castletons
made a less impressive showing--Mr. Harold Castleton, Mr. and Mrs.
Theodore Castleton and children, Harold Castleton Junior, and, from
Harrisburg, Mr. Carl Mercy, and two little old aunts named O'Keefe
hidden off in a corner.  Somewhat to their surprise the two aunts
had been bundled off in a limousine and dressed from head to foot
by a fashionable couturière that morning.

In the vestry, where the bridesmaids fluttered about like birds in
their big floppy hats, there was a last lip rouging and adjustment
of pins before Emily should arrive.  They represented several
stages of Emily's life--a schoolmate at Briarly, a last unmarried
friend of débutante year, a travelling companion of Europe, and the
girl she had visited in Newport when she met Brevoort Blair.

"They've got Wakeman," this last one said, standing by the door
listening to the music.  "He played for my sister, but I shall
never have Wakeman."

"Why not?"

"Why, he's playing the same thing over and over--'At Dawning.'
He's played it half a dozen times."

At this moment another door opened and the solicitous head of a
young man appeared around it.  "Almost ready?" he demanded of the
nearest bridesmaid.  "Brevoort's having a quiet little fit.  He
just stands there wilting collar after collar--"

"Be calm," answered the young lady.  "The bride is always a few
minutes late."

"A few minutes!" protested the best man.  "I don't call it a few
minutes.  They're beginning to rustle and wriggle like a circus
crowd out there, and the organist has been playing the same tune
for half an hour.  I'm going to get him to fill in with a little
jazz."

"What time is it?" Olive demanded.

"Quarter of five--ten minutes of five."

"Maybe there's been a traffic tie-up."  Olive paused as Mr. Harold
Castleton, followed by an anxious curate, shouldered his way in,
demanding a phone.

And now there began a curious dribbling back from the front of the
church, one by one, then two by two, until the vestry was crowded
with relatives and confusion.

"What's happened?"

"What on earth's the matter?"

A chauffeur came in and reported excitedly.  Harold Castleton swore
and, his face blazing, fought his way roughly toward the door.
There was an attempt to clear the vestry, and then, as if to
balance the dribbling, a ripple of conversation commenced at the
rear of the church and began to drift up toward the altar, growing
louder and faster and more excited, mounting always, bringing
people to their feet, rising to a sort of subdued roar.  The
announcement from the altar that the marriage had been postponed
was scarcely heard, for by that time everyone knew that they were
participating in a front-page scandal, that Brevoort Blair had been
left waiting at the altar and Emily Castleton had run away.


II


There were a dozen reporters outside the Castleton house on
Sixtieth Street when Olive arrived, but in her absorption she
failed even to hear their questions; she wanted desperately to go
and comfort a certain man whom she must not approach, and as a sort
of substitute she sought her Uncle Harold.  She entered through the
interconnecting five-thousand-dollar pavilions, where caterers and
servants still stood about in a respectful funereal half-light,
waiting for something to happen, amid trays of caviar and turkey's
breast and pyramided wedding cake.  Upstairs, Olive found her uncle
sitting on a stool before Emily's dressing-table.  The articles of
make-up spread before him, the repertoire of feminine preparation
in evidence about, made his singularly inappropriate presence a
symbol of the mad catastrophe.

"Oh, it's you."  His voice was listless; he had aged in two hours.
Olive put her arm about his bowed shoulder.

"I'm so terribly sorry, Uncle Harold."

Suddenly a stream of profanity broke from him, died away, and a
single large tear welled slowly from one eye.

"I want to get my massage man," he said.  "Tell McGregor to get
him."  He drew a long broken sigh, like a child's breath after
crying, and Olive saw that his sleeves were covered with a dust of
powder from the dressing-table, as if he had been leaning forward
on it, weeping, in the reaction from his proud champagne.

"There was a telegram," he muttered.

"It's somewhere."

And he added slowly,

"From now on YOU'RE my daughter."

"Oh, no, you mustn't say that!"

Unrolling the telegram, she read:


I can't make the grade I would feel like a fool either way but this
will be over sooner so damn sorry for you

                                                          EMILY


When Olive had summoned the masseur and posted a servant outside
her uncle's door, she went to the library, where a confused
secretary was trying to say nothing over an inquisitive and
persistent telephone.

"I'm so upset, Miss Mercy," he cried in a despairing treble.  "I do
declare I'm so upset I have a frightful headache.  I've thought for
half an hour I heard dance music from down below."

Then it occurred to Olive that she, too, was becoming hysterical;
in the breaks of the street traffic a melody was drifting up,
distinct and clear:


          "--Is she fair
          Is she sweet
          I don't care--cause
          I can't compete--
          Who's the--"


She ran quickly downstairs and through the drawing-room, the tune
growing louder in her ears.  At the entrance of the first pavilion
she stopped in stupefaction.

To the music of a small but undoubtedly professional orchestra a
dozen young couples were moving about the canvas floor.  At the bar
in the corner stood additional young men, and half a dozen of the
caterer's assistants were busily shaking cocktails and opening
champagne.

"Harold!" she called imperatively to one of the dancers.  "Harold!"

A tall young man of eighteen handed his partner to another and came
toward her.

"Hello, Olive.  How did father take it?"

"Harold, what in the name of--"

"Emily's crazy," he said consolingly.  "I always told you Emily was
crazy.  Crazy as a loon.  Always was."

"What's the idea of this?"

"This?"  He looked around innocently.  "Oh, these are just some
fellows that came down from Cambridge with me."

"But--DANCING!"

"Well, nobody's dead, are they?  I thought we might as well use up
some of this--"

"Tell them to go home," said Olive.

"Why?  What on earth's the harm?  These fellows came all the way
down from Cambridge--"

"It simply isn't dignified."

"But they don't care, Olive.  One fellow's sister did the same
thing--only she did it the day after instead of the day before.
Lots of people do it nowadays."

"Send the music home, Harold," said Olive firmly, "or I'll go to
your father."

Obviously he felt that no family could be disgraced by an episode
on such a magnificent scale, but he reluctantly yielded.  The
abysmally depressed butler saw to the removal of the champagne, and
the young people, somewhat insulted, moved nonchalantly out into
the more tolerant night.  Alone with the shadow--Emily's shadow--
that hung over the house, Olive sat down in the drawing-room to
think.  Simultaneously the butler appeared in the doorway.

"It's Mr. Blair, Miss Olive."

She jumped tensely to her feet.

"Who does he want to see?"

"He didn't say.  He just walked in."

"Tell him I'm in here."

He entered with an air of abstraction rather than depression,
nodded to Olive and sat down on a piano stool.  She wanted to say,
"Come here.  Lay your head here, poor man.  Never mind."  But she
wanted to cry, too, and so she said nothing.

"In three hours," he remarked quietly, "we'll be able to get the
morning papers.  There's a shop on Fifty-ninth Street."

"That's foolish--" she began.

"I am not a superficial man"--he interrupted her--"nevertheless, my
chief feeling now is for the morning papers.  Later there will be a
politely silent gauntlet of relatives, friends and business
acquaintances.  About the actual affair I surprise myself by not
caring at all."

"I shouldn't care about any of it."

"I'm rather grateful that she did it in time."

"Why don't you go away?"  Olive leaned forward earnestly.  "Go to
Europe until it all blows over."

"Blows over."  He laughed.  "Things like this don't ever blow over.
A little snicker is going to follow me around the rest of my life."
He groaned.  "Uncle Hamilton started right for Park Row to make the
rounds of the newspaper offices.  He's a Virginian and he was
unwise enough to use the old-fashioned word 'horsewhip' to one
editor.  I can hardly wait to see THAT paper."  He broke off.  "How
is Mr. Castleton?"

"He'll appreciate your coming to inquire."

"I didn't come about that."  He hesitated.  "I came to ask you a
question.  I want to know if you'll marry me in Greenwich tomorrow
morning."

For a minute Olive fell precipitately through space; she made a
strange little sound; her mouth dropped ajar.

"I know you like me," he went on quickly.  "In fact, I once
imagined you loved me a little bit, if you'll excuse the
presumption.  Anyhow, you're very like a girl that once did love
me, so maybe you would--"  His face was pink with embarrassment,
but he struggled grimly on; "anyhow, I like you enormously and
whatever feeling I may have had for Emily has, I might say, flown."

The clangor and alarm inside her was so loud that it seemed he must
hear it.

"The favor you'll be doing me will be very great," he continued.
"My heavens, I know it sounds a little crazy, but what could be
crazier than the whole afternoon?  You see, if you married me the
papers would carry quite a different story; they'd think that Emily
went off to get out of our way, and the joke would be on her after
all."

Tears of indignation came to Olive's eyes.

"I suppose I ought to allow for your wounded egotism, but do you
realize you're making me an insulting proposition?"

His face fell.

"I'm sorry," he said after a moment.  "I guess I was an awful fool
even to think of it, but a man hates to lose the whole dignity of
his life for a girl's whim.  I see it would be impossible.  I'm
sorry."

He got up and picked up his cane.

Now he was moving toward the door, and Olive's heart came into her
throat and a great, irresistible wave of self-preservation swept
over her--swept over all her scruples and her pride.  His steps
sounded in the hall.

"Brevoort!" she called.  She jumped to her feet and ran to the
door.  He turned.  "Brevoort, what was the name of that paper--the
one your uncle went to?"

"Why?"

"Because it's not too late for them to change their story if I
telephone now!  I'll say we were married tonight!"


III


There is a society in Paris which is merely a heterogeneous
prolongation of American society.  People moving in are connected
by a hundred threads to the motherland, and their entertainments,
eccentricities and ups and downs are an open book to friends and
relatives at Southampton, Lake Forest or Back Bay.  So during her
previous European sojourn Emily's whereabouts, as she followed the
shifting Continental seasons, were publicly advertised; but from
the day, one month after the unsolemnized wedding, when she sailed
from New York, she dropped completely from sight.  There was an
occasional letter for her father, an occasional rumor that she was
in Cairo, Constantinople or the less frequented Riviera--that was
all.

Once, after a year, Mr. Castleton saw her in Paris, but, as he told
Olive, the meeting only served to make him uncomfortable.

"There was something about her," he said vaguely, "as if--well, as
if she had a lot of things in the back of her mind I couldn't
reach.  She was nice enough, but it was all automatic and formal.--
She asked about you."

Despite her solid background of a three-month-old baby and a
beautiful apartment on Park Avenue, Olive felt her heart falter
uncertainly.

"What did she say?"

"She was delighted about you and Brevoort."  And he added to
himself, with a disappointment he could not conceal:  "Even
though you picked up the best match in New York when she threw
it away." . . .

. . . It was more than a year after this that his secretary's voice
on the telephone asked Olive if Mr. Castleton could see them that
night.  They found the old man walking his library in a state of
agitation.

"Well, it's come," he declared vehemently.  "People won't stand
still; nobody stands still.  You go up or down in this world.
Emily chose to go down.  She seems to be somewhere near the bottom.
Did you ever hear of a man described to me as a"--he referred to a
letter in his hand--"dissipated ne'er-do-well named Petrocobesco?
He calls himself Prince Gabriel Petrocobesco, apparently from--from
nowhere.  This letter is from Hallam, my European man, and it
incloses a clipping from the Paris Matin.  It seems that this
gentleman was invited by the police to leave Paris, and among the
small entourage who left with him was an American girl, Miss
Castleton, 'rumored to be the daughter of a millionaire.'  The
party was escorted to the station by gendarmes."  He handed
clipping and letter to Brevoort Blair with trembling fingers.
"What do you make of it?  Emily come to that!"

"It's not so good," said Brevoort, frowning.

"It's the end.  I thought her drafts were big recently, but I never
suspected that she was supporting--"

"It may be a mistake," Olive suggested.  "Perhaps it's another Miss
Castleton."

"It's Emily all right.  Hallam looked up the matter.  It's Emily,
who was afraid ever to dive into the nice clean stream of life and
ends up now by swimming around in the sewers."

Shocked, Olive had a sudden sharp taste of fate in its ultimate
diversity.  She with a mansion building in Westbury Hills, and
Emily was mixed up with a deported adventurer in disgraceful
scandal.

"I've got no right to ask you this," continued Mr. Castleton.
"Certainly no right to ask Brevoort anything in connection with
Emily.  But I'm seventy-two and Fraser says if I put off the cure
another fortnight he won't be responsible, and then Emily will be
alone for good.  I want you to set your trip abroad forward by two
months and go over and bring her back."

"But do you think we'd have the necessary influence?" Brevoort
asked.  "I've no reason for thinking that she'd listen to me."

"There's no one else.  If you can't go I'll have to."

"Oh, no," said Brevoort quickly.  "We'll do what we can, won't we,
Olive?"

"Of course."

"Bring her back--it doesn't matter how--but bring her back.  Go
before a court if necessary and swear she's crazy."

"Very well.  We'll do what we can."



Just ten days after this interview the Brevoort Blairs called on
Mr. Castleton's agent in Paris to glean what details were
available.  They were plentiful but unsatisfactory.  Hallam had
seen Petrocobesco in various restaurants--a fat little fellow with
an attractive leer and a quenchless thirst.  He was of some obscure
nationality and had been moved around Europe for several years,
living heaven knew how--probably on Americans, though Hallam
understood that of late even the most outlying circles of
international society were closed to him.  About Emily, Hallam knew
very little.  They had been reported last week in Berlin and
yesterday in Budapest.  It was probably that such an undesirable as
Petrocobesco was required to register with the police everywhere,
and this was the line he recommended the Blairs to follow.

Forty-eight hours later, accompanied by the American vice consul,
they called upon the prefect of police in Budapest.  The officer
talked in rapid Hungarian to the vice consul, who presently
announced the gist of his remarks--the Blairs were too late.

"Where have they gone?"

"He doesn't know.  He received orders to move them on and they left
last night."

Suddenly the prefect wrote something on a piece of paper and handed
it, with a terse remark, to the vice consul.

"He says try there."

Brevoort looked at the paper.

"Sturmdorp--where's that?"

Another rapid conversation in Hungarian.

"Five hours from here on a local train that leaves Tuesdays and
Fridays.  This is Saturday."

"We'll get a car at the hotel," said Brevoort.

They set out after dinner.  It was a rough journey through the
night across the still Hungarian plain.  Olive awoke once from a
worried doze to find Brevoort and the chauffeur changing a tire;
then again as they stopped at a muddy little river, beyond which
glowed the scattered lights of a town.  Two soldiers in an
unfamiliar uniform glanced into the car; they crossed a bridge and
followed a narrow, warped main street to Sturmdorp's single inn;
the roosters were already crowing as they tumbled down on the mean
beds.

Olive awoke with a sudden sure feeling that they had caught up with
Emily; and with it came that old sense of helplessness in the face
of Emily's moods; for a moment the long past and Emily dominant in
it, swept back over her, and it seemed almost a presumption to be
here.  But Brevoort's singleness of purpose reassured her and
confidence had returned when they went downstairs, to find a
landlord who spoke fluent American, acquired in Chicago before the
war.

"You are not in Hungary now," he explained.  "You have crossed the
border into Czjeck-Hansa.  But it is only a little country with two
towns, this one and the capital.  We don't ask the visa from
Americans."

"That's probably why they came here," Olive thought.

"Perhaps you could give us some information about strangers?" asked
Brevoort.  "We're looking for an American lady--"  He described
Emily, without mentioning her probable companion; as he proceeded a
curious change came over the innkeeper's face.

"Let me see your passports," he said; then:  "And why you want to
see her?"

"This lady is her cousin."

The innkeeper hesitated momentarily.

"I think perhaps I be able to find her for you," he said.

He called the porter; there were rapid instructions in an
unintelligible patois.  Then:

"Follow this boy--he take you there."

They were conducted through filthy streets to a tumble-down house
on the edge of town.  A man with a hunting rifle, lounging outside,
straightened up and spoke sharply to the porter, but after an
exchange of phrases they passed, mounted the stairs and knocked at
a door.  When it opened a head peered around the corner; the porter
spoke again and they went in.

They were in a large dirty room which might have belonged to a poor
boarding house in any quarter of the Western world--faded walls,
split upholstery, a shapeless bed and an air, despite its bareness,
of being overcrowded by the ghostly furniture, indicated by dust
rings and worn spots, of the last decade.  In the middle of the
room stood a small stout man with hammock eyes and a peering nose
over a sweet, spoiled little mouth, who stared intently at them as
they opened the door, and then with a single disgusted "Chut!"
turned impatiently away.  There were several other people in the
room, but Brevoort and Olive saw only Emily, who reclined in a
chaise longue with half-closed eyes.

At the sight of them the eyes opened in mild astonishment; she made
a move as though to jump up, but instead held out her hand, smiled
and spoke their names in a clear polite voice, less as a greeting
than as a sort of explanation to the others of their presence here.
At their names a grudging amenity replaced the sullenness on the
little man's face.

The girls kissed.

"Tutu!" said Emily, as if calling him to attention--"Prince
Petrocobesco, let me present my cousin Mrs. Blair, and Mr. Blair."

"Plaisir," said Petrocobesco.  He and Emily exchanged a quick
glance, whereupon he said, "Won't you sit down?" and immediately
seated himself in the only available chair, as if they were playing
Going to Jerusalem.

"Plaisir," he repeated.  Olive sat down on the foot of Emily's
chaise longue and Brevoort took a stool from against the wall,
meanwhile noting the other occupants of the room.  There was a very
fierce young man in a cape who stood, with arms folded and teeth
gleaming, by the door, and two ragged, bearded men, one holding a
revolver, the other with his head sunk dejectedly on his chest, who
sat side by side in the corner.

"You come here long?" the prince asked.

"Just arrived this morning."

For a moment Olive could not resist comparing the two, the tall
fair-featured American and the unprepossessing South European,
scarcely a likely candidate for Ellis Island.  Then she looked at
Emily--the same thick bright hair with sunshine in it, the eyes
with the hint of vivid seas.  Her face was faintly drawn, there
were slight new lines around her mouth, but she was the Emily of
old--dominant, shining, large of scale.  It seemed shameful for all
that beauty and personality to have arrived in a cheap boarding
house at the world's end.

The man in the cape answered a knock at the door and handed a note
to Petrocobesco, who read it, cried "Chut!" and passed it to Emily.

"You see, there are no carriages," he said tragically in French.
"The carriages were destroyed--all except one, which is in a
museum.  Anyhow, I prefer a horse."

"No," said Emily.

"Yes, yes, yes!" he cried.  "Whose business is it how I go?"

"Don't let's have a scene, Tutu."

"Scene!"  He fumed.  "Scene!"

Emily turned to Olive:  "You came by automobile?"

"Yes."

"A big de luxe car?  With a back that opens?"

"Yes."

"There," said Emily to the prince.  "We can have the arms painted
on the side of that."

"Hold on," said Brevoort.  "This car belongs to a hotel in
Budapest."

Apparently Emily didn't hear.

"Janierka could do it," she continued thoughtfully.

At this point there was another interruption.  The dejected man in
the corner suddenly sprang to his feet and made as though to run to
the door, whereupon the other man raised his revolver and brought
the butt down on his head.  The man faltered and would have
collapsed had not his assailant hauled him back to the chair, where
he sat comatose, a slow stream of blood trickling over his
forehead.

"Dirty townsman!  Filthy, dirty spy!" shouted Petrocobesco between
clenched teeth.

"Now that's just the kind of remark you're not to make!" said Emily
sharply.

"Then why we don't hear?" he cried.  "Are we going to sit here in
this pigsty forever?"

Disregarding him, Emily turned to Olive and began to question her
conventionally about New York.  Was prohibition any more
successful?  What were the new plays?  Olive tried to answer and
simultaneously to catch Brevoort's eye.  The sooner their purpose
was broached, the sooner they could get Emily away.

"Can we see you alone, Emily?" demanded Brevoort abruptly.

"Why, for the moment we haven't got another room."

Petrocobesco had engaged the man with the cape in agitated
conversation, and taking advantage of this, Brevoort spoke
hurriedly to Emily in a lowered voice:

"Emily, your father's getting old; he needs you at home.  He wants
you to give up this crazy life and come back to America.  He sent
us because he couldn't come himself and no one else knew you well
enough--"

She laughed.  "You mean, knew the enormities I was capable of."

"No," put in Olive quickly.  "Cared for you as we do.  I can't tell
you how awful it is to see you wandering over the face of the
earth."

"But we're not wandering now," explained Emily.  "This is Tutu's
native country."

"Where's your pride, Emily?" said Olive impatiently.  "Do you know
that affair in Paris was in the papers?  What do you suppose people
think back home?"

"That affair in Paris was an outrage."  Emily's blue eyes flashed
around her.  "Someone will pay for that affair in Paris."

"It'll be the same everywhere.  Just sinking lower and lower,
dragged in the mire, and one day deserted--"

"Stop, please!"  Emily's voice was cold as ice.  "I don't think you
quite understand--"

Emily broke off as Petrocobesco came back, threw himself into his
chair and buried his face in his hands.

"I can't stand it," he whispered.  "Would you mind taking my pulse?
I think it's bad.  Have you got the thermometer in your purse?"

She held his wrist in silence for a moment.

"It's all right, Tutu."  Her voice was soft now, almost crooning.
"Sit up.  Be a man."

"All right."

He crossed his legs as if nothing had happened and turned abruptly
to Breevort:

"How are financial conditions in New York?" he demanded.

But Brevoort was in no humor to prolong the absurd scene.  The
memory of a certain terrible hour three years before swept over
him.  He was no man to be made a fool of twice, and his jaw set as
he rose to his feet.

"Emily, get your things together," he said tersely.  "We're going
home."

Emily did not move; an expression of astonishment, melting to
amusement, spread over her face.  Olive put her arm around her
shoulder.

"Come, dear.  Let's get out of this nightmare."  Then:

"We're waiting," Brevoort said.

Petrocobesco spoke suddenly to the man in the cape, who approached
and seized Brevoort's arm.  Brevoort shook him off angrily,
whereupon the man stepped back, his hand searching his belt.

"No!" cried Emily imperatively.

Once again there was an interruption.  The door opened without a
knock and two stout men in frock coats and silk hats rushed in and
up to Petrocobesco.  They grinned and patted him on the back
chattering in a strange language, and presently he grinned and
patted them on the back and they kissed all around; then, turning
to Emily, Petrocobesco spoke to her in French.

"It's all right," he said excitedly.  "They did not even argue the
matter.  I am to have the title of king."

With a long sigh Emily sank back in her chair and her lips parted
in a relaxed, tranquil smile.

"Very well, Tutu.  We'll get married."

"Oh, heavens, how happy!"  He clasped his hands and gazed up
ecstatically at the faded ceiling.  "How extremely happy!"  He fell
on his knees beside her and kissed her inside arm.

"What's all this about kings?" Brevoort demanded.  "Is this--is he
a king?"

"He's a king.  Aren't you, Tutu?"  Emily's hand gently stroked his
oiled hair and Olive saw that her eyes were unusually bright.

"I am your husband," cried Tutu weepily.  "The most happy man
alive."

"His uncle was Prince of Czjeck-Hansa before the war," explained
Emily, her voice singing her content.  "Since then there's been a
republic, but the peasant party wanted a change and Tutu was next
in line.  Only I wouldn't marry him unless he insisted on being
king instead of prince."

Brevoort passed his hand over his wet forehead.

"Do you mean that this is actually a fact?"

Emily nodded.  "The assembly voted it this morning.  And if you'll
lend us this de luxe limousine of yours we'll make our official
entrance into the capital this afternoon."


IV


Over two years later Mr. and Mrs. Brevoort Blair and their two
children stood upon a balcony of the Carlton Hotel in London, a
situation recommended by the management for watching royal
processions pass.  This one began with a fanfare of trumpets down
by the Strand, and presently a scarlet line of horse guards came
into sight.

"But, mummy," the little boy demanded, "is Aunt Emily Queen of
England?"

"No, dear; she's queen of a little tiny country, but when she
visits here she rides in the queen's carriage."

"Oh."

"Thanks to the magnesium deposits," said Brevoort dryly.

"Was she a princess before she got to be queen?" the little girl
asked.

"No, dear; she was an American girl and then she got to be a
queen."

"Why?"

"Because nothing else was good enough for her," said her father.
"Just think, one time she could have married me.  Which would you
rather do, baby--marry me or be a queen?"

The little girl hesitated.

"Marry you," she said politely, but without conviction.

"That'll do, Brevoort," said her mother.  "Here they come."

"I see them!" the little boy cried.

The cavalcade swept down the crowded street.  There were more horse
guards, a company of dragoons, outriders, then Olive found herself
holding her breath and squeezing the balcony rail as, between a
double line of beefeaters, a pair of great gilt-and-crimson coaches
rolled past.  In the first were the royal sovereigns, their
uniforms gleaming with ribbons, crosses and stars, and in the
second their two royal consorts, one old, the other young.  There
was about the scene the glamour shed always by the old empire of
half the world, by her ships and ceremonies, her pomps and symbols;
and the crowd felt it, and a slow murmur rolled along before the
carriage, rising to a strong steady cheer.  The two ladies bowed to
left and right, and though few knew who the second queen was, she
was cheered too.  In a moment the gorgeous panoply had rolled below
the balcony and on out of sight.

When Olive turned away from the window there were tears in her
eyes.

"I wonder if she likes it, Brevoort.  I wonder if she's really
happy with that terrible little man."

"Well, she got what she wanted, didn't she?  And that's something."

Olive drew a long breath.

"Oh, she's so wonderful," she cried--"so wonderful!  She could
always move me like that, even when I was angriest at her."

"It's all so silly," Brevoort said.

"I suppose so," answered Olive's lips.  But her heart, winged with
helpless adoration, was following her cousin through the palace
gates half a mile away.


THE END



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