Obrázky na stránke
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

by a poor sort of street, but the princess He was very serious, far too serious. thought that she didn't care now ; indeed, she know it. And that is why.” would rather go home by a poor sort of He lifted his hat again, and again he street than not. She couldn't see much smiled, impersonally. “ I wish you a merry ahead, Michael and James sat up so high. Christmas and all good things—and Martha But she didn't care about seeing ahead. too." His manner was quite different when And as she sat looking out at the side,

and he spoke to Martha. It was almost affecnot thinking of anything in particular, sud- tionate. “Good-by.” denly she saw him. He was very near. In He was turning away. The princess was a moment more they would have been past frightened.

frightened. If he was going to be stupid him, and that would have been too bad, for enough to take her at her word ! then they would have had to turn around, and “Oh, wait !” she cried ; it was almost an that would have been a little—marked ; but entreaty. “It isn't a merry Christmas at the princess would have done it.

all. It is very rude of you to go away so, She sat up suddenly, very straight. "Oh!" when I—when I have—stopped you.” You. she cried. Oh!” There was a fine rosy might have thought, from her voice, that there color in her cheeks ; more, you would have were tears in her eyes, but there weren't. thought, than could be accounted for by the Her eyes only looked frightened, though day and the storm and the going fast and the I don't know what there was to frighten her. bells. “Oh, Michael !"

“What were you going to say—if I were And Michael looked around, and he under- a common person ?” stood ; but he didn't smile, not the least little “ Like me,” he corrected. bit. That was to his credit. And he pulled "Like you," said the princess, nodding up his horses and drew up to the curb. slowly. She had hard work not to say “I”

"Good-morning," said the little princess, before “like;" but it wouldn't have done, and, smiling brightly—but a little timidly. She besides, it wouldn't have been strictly truehad never done so much as this before. and there were Michael and James. “Well ?”

"Good-morning," said Somebody, bowing • Why, I was about to say,” he continued, low, his hat in his hand. For Somebody “that, if you would only be a common perhad stopped and come to the curb to meet son like me, and if we were to play together the sleigh. It would have been very, very again, you wouldn't mind walking—you and rude not to. “I hope your Royal Highness Martha." is very well this morning." And he bowed to The princess looked at Martha, a light in Martha, too.

Martha smiled at her. The princess laughed aloud at that. "Such “Walking in this storm—this gentle

• nonsense !" she said. “I am not a royal high- storm—is very nice," he said, enticingly. ness; only a poor, lonely girl—the little girl “Well, why not, Martha ?” asked the prinyou used to play with.

Is it five years or — cess." Will you go? Would you just as lief?" but where are you going? Can't we take “Bless you, dearie,” answered Martha,

" I'd liefer.” “ Heaven forbid !” said he.

6. Who am I

For Martha, you know, wasn't of the royal that I should ride in the royal sleigh with family, and she got very tired of riding in the princess ?” But he smiled as he spoke carriages and motor cars and sleighs. so that his words didn't hurt the princess- And they got out into the snow-James not so very much.

had to be spry about getting down to them-“Well,” said the princess, "well--and if and the little princess spoke to Michael.

" you won't let us take you, how—" Her - You may as well go home, Michael,” she courage gave out there. She could not ask said. Ile will walk.' him that.

So Michael drove off; and if he and " But,” said he again, " if your high mighti- james had something to talk about it is not ness would condescend to be a common per- to be wondered at. And if you had been son, like me,”

there, behind Michael, you might have heard * Ah," said the little princess, sighing wist- a great deal about blessing her little heari, fully, “ I should like that—to be like you. and hoping that she might be happy in her But,” she added, smiling again, “ you know own way, though you might be excused for I am not a cominon person.”

thinking that a princess with a million dollars Ile was not smiling noiv. “I know it. a year would have nothing left to wish for.

[ocr errors]

her eyes.



you ?”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


at all—

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Indeed, why she should not have been happy “ What was it,” she asked—she spoke —very happy—and in her own way, I cannot low, too—" that you forgot? You know you imagine. A person, to be truly happy, must

said that youdo it in his own way—or hers—and not in He smiled. He knew exactly. “I said another's. But it is to be supposed that that I forgot. I forgot the five years. For Michael and James didn't know what they a moment you were the little girl I used to were talking about, anyway.

play with, and you were not a little princess When Michael had driven off, the little princess drew a long breath and breathed it “Oh,” cried the princess, interrupting, out in a long, shivering sigh of happiness, " I'm not, now. I'm not a princess at all. and laughed a little laugh of happiness and Andturned to Somebody-or no, I am mistaken. “ And you weren't so rich, either-not She could not have turned to him then, for nearly so rich,” he interrupted in his turn. she was turned toward him already.

"Ah, your Royal Highness," he said, and “Well,” she said ; "and now where are his voice was cold and warm and serious and you—are we going?

mocking all at once, “why couldn't you have He was standing still in the snow, looking stayed so, and not have grown so hopelessly at her; he just looked at her and didn't say affluent ?" a word. And the little princess got redder .

“ If you want to make me cry,” said the and redder, for, at first, she thought she saw princess in a stifled little voice, "you will a light in his eyes—but that was only at first. keep on.” Afterward she didn't see it, for she looked “God forbid !” cried he; and he looked away.

down at her. · What am I that I should “Don't you know,” she said, softly, coming make your Royal Highness cry?

?a little bit nearer to him- just a tiny bit And as he looked at her he saw two tears nearer—" that it is very rude to stare so? roll down upon the snow, and then two more. And you

haven't answered my question. She looked up at him. Her eyes were Where are we going now?

swimming “I beg your pardon,” he said, coming “Oh, don't," she cried. "I can't help to himself. “ I forgot. I was going out being rich, can I ? I hate it all-positively this road a bit to see an old servant of hate it. Oh, I wish I didn't have a centours; but now, I—don't know—I can go not one cent!” later."


didn't have a cent," he said, "I He spoke slowly, s till looking at her, feast- could—it would be easier, wouldn't it ? Foring his eyes, as if he saw her for the first give me.


?" time in years and was glad to see her again. He took her hand and drew it within his And so he did and so he was, gladder even arm ; but Martha was farther behind than than he had thought he should be. He ever, and she seemed to be interested in hadn't expected to see her—so close—ever watching the falling snow. The princess was again ; he hadn't meant to.

happy again. “No, go now," said the little princess, • I will,” she said ; " and you must promise " and I—we will go

with you. It must be me something too. Always forget the five somebody I know. Do I ?

years and that I am rich—richer than I was. “ Yes,” he answered, “you know him— Will you always forget it? You haven't come and her."

to any of my parties in all that time, and I “Oh !” cried the princess.

“ Is it—well, have asked you to every single one-every come on, then.”

single one. Why haven't you come ? And So they started off, walking briskly, with why do I never see you at other places ? Martha at a discreet distance behind them. When you are there, you don't come near me. And just what is a discreet distance I don't

Why?" know. It depends; but Martha walked just He said nothing for some time ; for so out of hearing-if they spoke low. The

The long a time that the princess glanced up at little princess thought she never had known him rather fearfully. He was looking down such a beautiful day for walking. Everything at her, and his look was very tender and was just as lovely as it could be. They had pitying—for both.

But then he was very not spoken for some time; but the princess much older than the princess—four whole had a question that bothered her.

years older—and he saw things differently.

[ocr errors]

- If


[ocr errors]

It was to be expected that a mature man of twenty-two, who was no prince, would see some things in life that a princess, who was intent upon nothing more than her own happiness, would not see. Poor princesses ! For there is nothing else for them to think of ; and how seldom—how very seldom they attain it !

She just gave one glance and then looked down, and he spoke, very soberly and solemnly.

Princess,” he said, “you must know why. It was not because I didn't want to. You may be sure of that. But what chance would I have—honestly and honorably—what would be thought of me?

What—" The little princess was clinging fast to his arm. She did not look at him. “ You would have as good a chance as the others,” she said, in a voice so low that he had to stoop to hear it. “ You would have a better chance —much better.” She was very red, that little princess, when she had done, and her voice was very faint indeed.

He was rather white and there were lines about his mouth that suddenly made him look old-even older than twenty-two. But what he was doing was hard for him-as hard as it would be for you or me to do something less foolish, perhaps. Who is to judge what is wise and what is foolish ? And he thought that he was about to do something rather noble.

" Princess," he said, gently, bending down to her, “ listen. You have a right to hear it. I love you. It has been growing for three years. But you are very rich, and I-am not. I would not do. I am not fit—not fit. Your father would think so—and he would be right enough. I can give you up if I must—if I stay away ; and I must.'

“ But I don't want to be given up,” cried the princess. “I won't be given up! And my father wouldn'tif I wanted—” She broke off there. She almost broke down. She had gone white, too, with fear. But she would have the moon yet. To the little princess the moon seemed greatly to be desired.

She stopped and faced him, forgetting Martha, there behind; forgetting all but the one thing that was more important to her than everything else in the world.

She was not concerned about doing something noble. It was only her happiness that was slipping away.

But she would not let her happiness

go—she had gone so far—she did not mcan to let it slip away from her without a struggle. She looked at him with earnest eyes.

Do you really love me? Is it true?"

And he saw her white soul-it was shrinking a little, that poor, gentle little soul, shining out of her eyes as he looked in.

“ Don't,” he said. “ Don't look at me like that. And see, princess,” he went on, softly.

6. Even you can ask me if it's true.

Don't you see what your father would think—what everybody else must think, if I-"

Tears came into the lovely eyes and drowned the soul within. Oh, what do you care ?" she said. " What do we care what people think or what they say ? If you really love me, think of me, wanting only-only you !” The tears overflowed at that, and dropped upon his coat. “ And you would give me up!”

It was a reproach—a reproach that he deserved. He was silent for a moment, and in that moment he saw himself the selfish fool he was. It did not raise his opinion of himself. He was ashamed, very much ashamed, and very thankful. He was a good enough fellow after all, this Somebody. He took the princess's hand that was fluttering about his coat, waiting to be taken—he took it in both of his and kissed it.

* Dear little princess !” he whispered. “Dear little princess ! I came very near being a fool—very near. Can you forgive me ? I am-am very much ashamed.”

And the little princess snuggled up to him. "Oh, yes,” she said.

“Oh, yes.”

She meant to hold her happiness fast, now that she had it, and so did he.

He laughed joyously. “Give you up!” he said. “ And I thought it rather fine !"

They were alone on that road-excepting for Martha, and she was far behind, and more than ever interested in the storm—and there were only scattered houses. And what would you have done? The little princess gave a contented little sigh.

“ Think !” she said, smiling up at him. “ Think! If you had insisted on giving me up-after what I had done! I should be so ashamed!She was interrupted for a moment. I haven't any other Christmas present for you. Do you—do you think that—that I will do ?”

Le Roy est mort. Vive le Roy! And the poor king who was dead-he didn't knowhe is to be forgiven.

[ocr errors]









THIS way to the elevators. The door, setting forth that the department store

promenade on eighth floor, from presented

two to four,” said the polite floorwalker, and added, to Mrs. Spectator: "You'd Letter see it, madam. You'll find it well worth while, for all the new Paris fashions are shown on living models.” After that

and the Spectator gasped as he contemthere was nothing for the Spectator to do but to follow meekly while Mrs. Spectator possible, in an every-day New York depart

plated the ladies on the cover. Was it made for the eighth floor.

ment store, that such Gallicized houris from « The Garden of Allah” could really appear in

the flesh? Having learned to take theatrical It was still five minutes to two, but the

programmes with a grain of salt, he naturally spacious room on the eighth floor already

doubted, and so was not prepared for what needed the S. R. O. sign—Standing Room

followed. Only—although there were no reserved seats. At the end of the room a Moorish scene,

The orchestra struck a discord in true with arcaded and arched Saracenic doorways,

Turkish style. The curtains parted. Inside all in gay Oriental color, was set up.

A dais

the doorway, an alcove hung in scarlet satin against the walls held the musicians, who

was flooded with dazzling light, concentrated were playing queer Eastern music, jangling

upon a figure that at the first blush seemed and barbaric. From the last arched door,

to be out of the “ Arabian Nights.” Turning screened by tightly drawn curtains, a short

in terror to his programme, he found, to his flight of shallow steps led down to a high and

great relief, that this was one of “the first narrow platform which wound like an S amid

showing in America of costumes worn in the audience, whose seats were placed in

· Le Minaret'' at the Théâtre Renaissance in rising tiers on each side, and already crowded

Paris." Comforted by the assurance that it to the limit, “ like a queer little intimate

was not meant for promenading on Fifth Avetheater," as Mrs. Spectator expressed it, as

nue, the Spectator gave his critical attention she took up her standing-room behind the

to Paul Poiret's latest vagary, amid a buzz of last row of orchestra chairs, close by the

interest rising from the packed audience. mysterious door.

Holding the pose rigidly, in the Byzantine “Lots of people come here instead of going style, with perfectly immobile and painted to the matinée,” said the woman in front, talk- face fixed in the smile of a French doll, the ing to a companion. They were from one model stood in the glare of light a while ; of the suburbs, and had come in to shop and then, with slow and sidewise. motion, unduto see.

“ Last year the exhibition wasn't as lated down the steps and moved along good as this, but even then the place was the platform between rows of eager eyes. fairly well filled. You could come up at the last A tight black velvet turban-like cap, with minute, though, and see it pretty well. Now butterfly antennæ, somewhat resembling the you have to come early to get a seat at all. headdress of Mephistopheles in “Faust," I want to see the Poiret things, with those was pulled down over her blonde hair and wired tunics. Isn't it astonishing how many covered even her ears. An equally tight men there are here—buyers, I suppose !” The black velvet bodice, richly embroidered, a Spectator had been rather astonished by wide silk sash, three accordion-plaited scarthat, too—and reassured, for no man likes to let gauze flounces, one above the other, venture lonely among feminine mysteries, edged with black and wired out, and white since the days of Clodius and the Bona Dea. gauze Turkish trousers below them, com

pleted the costume (in whose description

Mrs. Spectator has helped out the mere A bright orange-colored programme, masculine mind). As with slow, proud moprinted in gorgeous purple tones, had been tion, apparently oblivious of the audience, handed to each comer by the ushers at the the model moved away from the steps—it



[ocr errors]

was excellently done, and somehow removed humanity, the models moved back and forth her from the same category as a chorus girl on the winding platform, and the crowd or a saleswoman or an artist's model, and massed and augmented behind the seats. made her an abstract fashion-plate-the music sounded again, the curtains parted " I saw the models in Paris this summer," afresh, and another vision from “ Minaret said a dressmaker behind the Spectator. circles stood revealed.

“They had a small stage and music at Lucile's,

but nothing like this. At Callot's, though, “ See !” said a youthful voice behind the they gave us afternoon tea, because we had Spectator. " Good show, and don't cost any- been going the rounds all day, and had had thing, either !” It was a sharp.faced lad, no time for lunch. There's a Russian painter who, with a companion, was enjoying him- now who is making weirder designs than self hugely. “ Look at that dame! Ain't Poiret, all Cubist-patterned things, but very she the limit ?" This time the effect was of artistic. The tunic, of course, is the thing a leopard crossed with a lamp-shade. The to insi: on." bodice and the swaying, tilting tunic, wired out stiffly at the knee, were of filmy leopard- Mrs. Spectator stiffened. “ I'm not going patterned stuff. From beneath the lamp- to wear a wired tunic !” she whispered to the shade came white accordion-plaited chiffon Spectator. But the next moment he noticed Turkish trousers, and the effect of the whole her absorbed in a green velvet embroidered was weird in the extreme. 6. She'd better go

in gold in soup-plate effect with what looked in !” said the suburban lady, severely. But, like the arms of Austria on an evident, though instead of that, she slithered down the steps modified, tunic, and he knew that where the with a balancing, careful motion—the Spec- dressmaker insists the customer becomes a tator noticed that all the models found diffi- lamb. “We are betrayed by what is weak culty in getting down those steps with dig- within !” nity—and paraded swaying along the narrow platform.

Afternoon gowns, tailor costumes, children's

frocks (displayed on slim young models whose A third chord, a third parting of the cur- hair hung down their backs, and who looked tains, a third bizarre figure, this time in rows not a day older than twelve), wraps of orange, of blonde curls, rows of white chiffon ruffles and scarlet hats of all sizes, shapes, and to the knees wired out, and tight white satin flamboyant colors, went on posing and promskirt, with the inevitable slit—and the three enading, and the crowd pressed ever harder. Minaret novelties were over. After that, one Let's go!” said Mrs. Spectator, satiated at evening gown after another, from Callot, last by a flame-colored velvet embroidered Doucet, Premet, Paquin, Drecoll, and a long in gold; and, after a breathless five minutes list of others, posed in the fierce light and of extrication from the throng, the elevators descended the steps, each with some kinship were reached.

In the corner, this side of to the freakish mode. Each had its name on them, a couple were standing-a young salesthe programme—" La Pagode,” in tiers of man, his book and pencil in his pocket, and mauve and copper ; “ La Vapoureuse,” white a little gray-haired woman, in a nondescript tulle trimmed with skunk fur: Le Soleil wrap and a shabby bonnet, bidding him goodLevant," chiffon to represent an Oriental by with the mother-look in her eyes. "I sunset, trimmed with gold lace and Turkish can't come up again for a good while to see beads; Papillon," black and white tulle you,” she was saying ; “your father's that trimmed with rhinestones ; and so on. The sick I can't leave him. You're a good boy, Spectator clung to his programme and studied Jim. You're my best comfort.” He gave it deeply, as this report shows; but he could her a hug, shabby, fashionless embodiment of not understand (nor could Mrs. Spectator woman at her dearest that she was, as the enlighten him) as to why a “ white crêpe elevator came clanging up and the moment combined with Turkish green satin and of parting came.

What did the flaring patrimmed with black lace” should be called rade of grotesque gowns in the garish room “ Theodore,” or why a black satin with beyond matter? The woman-soul that leadeth green and gold adjuncts should be named upward and on is always with the world, and “ Tartuffe." Like a group of proud and *

Every woman knows that that's all that painted peacocks curiously removed from really counts !” said Mrs. Spectator, softly.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



« PredošláPokračovať »