JOHN BARRINGTON, whose sombre and exceptional history I am going to tell, suggested, when I first knew him, nothing either sombre or exceptional. He was an undergraduate at Harvard in the earliest eighties, and will be recalled by all his contemporaries there as big Jack Barrington. The mention of this name, so far from suggesting to those who knew him anything tragic, may, if their memories are acute, evoke a vision not only commonplace, but touched with reminiscent humor. For before their mind’s eye will rise a youth, tall, florid, and handsome, to be sure, but dressed in the height of the absurd style of those days, — an incredibly shallow derby hat, a cutaway coat of rough material, a high-cut waistcoat of gorgeous colors, with a brilliant watchchain extending from one upper pocket to the other, and patent leather shoes preposterously long and pointed. Still, after all, the clothes — as much extravagant apparel has done before and will do again — expressed the joy and glory of youth.
He was a Western man, rich, lavish, very popular. His success with the fellows he owed to his smile, and to the democratic, indiscriminate way in which he lavished it. His cordial eye, his regular white teeth, his whole round, freshcolored, good-humored face, made this smile very charming. Health and good humor radiated from him ; he seemed to like every one, and certainly every one liked him. I can see him now — the centre and the leader of a group of exclusive youths — sauntering through the yard, and smiling his irresistible smile upon the unfashionable, the poor, the shy, the “ grinds,” — upon every one whom so magnificent a creature might be expected not to want to know, and I fully understand his amazing popularity.
A butterfly he doubtless was, but one who did not seem doomed after that one sunshiny hour. There seemed no reason why he should not live through all of a long life in the same care-free, happy way. Some brilliant urban society seemed his natural playground in winter; Newport or Europe his natural place of recreation in summer. I think that many a poor classmate envied him his roseate future.
A man, as I discovered afterwards, of much sensibility, he had the gift of graceful expression — whether with tongue or pen. This — with the smile — carried him on to the staff of one of the college papers. As I also was chosen an editor, I met him, and underwent the charm of his splendor and affability. For some reason — perhaps because all men like a faithful, unquestioning worshiper — he liked me, and I, happy in his friendship, followed him about, as much a slave of his as the bulldog which usually trotted at his heels. I was not ashamed of my subjection : I had much company, and the post was one of honor.
When Barrington was graduated, he went to New York and bought a seat in the Stock Exchange. I, on the other hand, became principal of a high school in a small and rather remote village in New Hampshire. As it happened, none of my classmates lived very near me, and all I could learn of my college friends was what I gleaned from the periodic reports of our class secretary. Barrington’s accounts of himself were meagre in the extreme : in fact, I can remember but one item. Five years after his graduation, he reported his marriage to a girl whose name I recognized as one I often saw in the “ society columns ” of the New York newspapers. That was quite as it should be, and I smiled at this confirmation of the prevision I had had in college days of his worldly success. Obviously, the butterfly was still as gorgeous as ever.
More than fifteen years went by before I strayed from my country solitudes; then I went to New York for a brief holiday, and at once sought out Barrington. When I saw him I was shocked. Although but thirty-seven, his hair was not only thin, but quite gray. That he should be stout and florid was perhaps no more than I should have expected, but his flesh and his color suggested drink rather than health, and his face had a strained, nervous look, quite at variance with the air of careless good humor which it had worn in college days. The familiar splendor of garb was there, but it accented, rather than concealed, his misery and ill health. I wondered if he were engaged in any dangerous speculation.
His smile, as I marked with much relief when he greeted me, had, at any rate, lost none of its old charm. He explained that his wife had gone South for the winter for the benefit of her health, and that he was leading what, with an obvious attempt at gayety, he was pleased to call a merry bachelor existence. We dined at one of his clubs, — he knew, no man better, how to order a dinner, — went to the theatre, and then wandered again to the club for a late supper and a chance to talk over old times. As the evening passed I could not help studying him. On the street, his eyes, traveling constantly from right to left, studied the crowds as if there were some one whom he expected, yet dreaded, to meet, and he showed a certain distinct if very slight nervous shrinking as we turned corners or approached his places of habitual resort. I gave up the idea of risky speculation. His worry was of a different kind : he acted like a man afraid.
As was natural, it was over our late supper that we grew confidential. Seeing that the old intimacy still had its rights, I ventured to speak of his altered appearance, and to ask him what was the trouble.
He looked up in unaffected surprise. “ What,” he said, “ is it possible you do not know ? In New York I’m a marked man. Every one knows my history. How does it happen that” —
“ But you forget my backwoods existence,” I interrupted him. “You are the first of the fellows whom I have seen since we graduated.”
Then he told me his history. But before I repeat it I want to mention a fact which, as it gradually grew plain to me, increased a thousandfold the pitifulness of his tale. The man actually enjoyed telling the tragedy of his life. I have mentioned his literary gift: he used it to deepen the contrasts, to heighten the effects. I saw that, by a quality in human nature easy enough to understand, he had grown to prize his calamity for the distinction it gave his life. I divined that it was not only a glory, but that it was also — as, for example, in the matter of his drinking — a never-failing excuse. My classmates, at any rate, will understand that, if I make this comment on my friend, it is because he and his wife are dead, and no one remains who might be pained by it. Were this not so, indeed, I should not tell any of his story.
“ I was only a year or so out of college,” he began, “ when I met Eleanor. She was not exactly in my social set. She was an orphan, alone in New York, without friends. She had money, — plenty of money ; but she lived a life which I fancy is not uncommon in New York. There must be many solitary women of means, the last surviving members of good families, who come to the city to escape the dullness of country life. Too proud to make the acquaintances that offer, and unable to know the people whom they would naturally choose to meet, they lead lives of practical solitude. An aunt lived with Eleanor and played respectability. I think that among ordinary people this aunt would have seemed a woman of some force of character, yet Eleanor ruled her absolutely. Eleanor was quiet in manner, but she always had her way. The two women, domiciled in an apartment in a good quarter of the town, found their amusement in the streets and in the shops. They shopped a great deal, they went to concerts and to the theatre, but they had no social life.
“ A classmate of ours who had known Eleanor in other days wrote and asked me to call upon her. We all get such letters: we call once, we find some provincial and uninteresting little girl, and — well, the most of us never call again. Such a girl I expected to find when I made my first call, and I went without enthusiasm, — from a sense of duty. What I found was a girl of twenty, of somewhat shy and sullen manner, to be sure, but surprisingly beautiful, and far from dull. Her manner I put down at once to social inexperience; I found myself pitying her lonely life, and, in short, I fell in love with her. Not tentatively, self-indulgently, as a man often does with lonely and pretty girls who are not quite — well, you understand what I mean; but deeply, absorbingly, without reserve. I burned all my bridges ; we became engaged.
“ Then I began to find out what sort of a woman I had promised to marry. You are an old friend ; I may tell you things I might not tell to every one. She was jealous and exacting beyond belief. I do not mean that she was jealous of other women only, — although her recluse life had made her suspicious of what she called ray fashionable women friends, — but of anything and everything which kept me away from her, even for a moment. She was jealous of the men I knew, of my clubs, of my business, of my books, of my very thoughts. Whenever I saw her, I was met with questions — questions — questions — adroit, persistent, suspicious — which searched out everything, which turned my soul inside out for her terrible inspection. To this jealousy I had to sacrifice my friends, — women first, then men. My man had to go ; she did not trust him. To please her, I destroyed photographs that I cared for, until none but her own was to be found in my rooms. Finally, she made me sell my dog; think of it, my dog! I lavished upon it too much affection. Can you imagine it ? — she was jealous, actually jealous of the poor beast. Then my letters, — she read every one of them, and each was the subject of irritating cross-examination. And woe to me if I contradicted myself. She had a memory for what interested her that was like a burr: facts clung to it forever. If what I said to-day varied by a hair’s breadth from what I had said a week, or a month, or even a year before, the discrepancy was at once detected, and had to be explained on the spot, — minutely, comprehensively explained and justified.
“ And she had the mania of control. Where she loved, she wished to rule. She insisted upon dictating what I should do, where I should go, what I should eat, what I should wear, what I should spend. The complaint seems petty, but I assure you nothing can be more exasperating, more humiliating, than this tyranny of a loving woman.
“Why did I not rebel? Man, this woman had a will like steel, and a pride in ruling that would not be thwarted. You might murder her — if you dared ; but while she lived, you obeyed. And I have shown you but one side of the shield. She was not merely beautiful, — she was fascinating. There are women whom if you have once kissed, you will go through any humiliation, any loss of self-respect, if only you may come to kiss them again. Eleanor was such a woman. Besides, I did rebel — in a fashion. Dreading the ordeal through which I always had to pass at the beginning of our interviews, I dared now and then to give myself a holiday. But when I returned to her, I paid heavily for my stolen day of liberty. Never losing control of herself, she drove me to fury by the most humiliating questions, by making me satisfy the most cruelly injurious suspicions. These scenes left me stricken with shame both for myself and for her, left me stripped bare of self-respect.
“ These are things which a man does not usually tell ; but I want you to understand why I left her, — jilted her, broke my vows. Flesh and blood could not stand her exactions, and the prospect of a lifetime with her became a thing to drive one insane. There came a time when it seemed to me that if I saw her any more, I should kill her — or myself. Yet, for a time, I continued to endure all her injuries, her cool insults. It seems incredible, and I hardly know how to explain, — to find the words. She was proud, imperious, passionate,feline, — all suspicion and jealousy one instant, all caresses and affection the next. She had infinite surprises, she was infinitely interesting. In going to her, I knew only that I should be intensely happy, or intensely miserable, or both. Do you wonder that she owned me morally, physically ; that I was her slave, her plaything! Some of the old Italian women must have been like her.
“Was she of foreign blood? Not at all ! She was a Yankee, the daughter of a man of rare force of character, I believe, whose mills created the prosperous town from which she came. You have read Miss Wilkins’s new novel Pembroke, perhaps. It’s a horrible story of the force of perverted wills, but it has helped me to understand Eleanor.
“ But at last I summoned every bit of moral strength I had and broke from her. I cannot make you understand what the struggle cost me, so strong was the desire which now and again came over me to return to my bondage. But I did not go to her. I refused to see her. I refused to answer her letters, though they revealed to me a depth of passion I had not guessed before. Finally, I refused — partly through fear of the emotion they caused me — even to read them. I returned them all — unopened. Then she sent me telegrams. As I could not, of course, guess from whom these might be, I had to open them. They were — unbelievable !
“ Finally, they stopped. For a while I breathed more easily. Little by little I gained — so I thought — an assured self-control. Only one thing spoiled my pleasure in my recovered freedom, — I knew that she still loved me even more deeply, perhaps, than I had loved her. I knew she never would, never could love again. I knew how much against her were the circumstances of her lonely life. I knew how — without friends, without social distractions — she would have every opportunity to brood morbidly over my desertion. I knew how deep and cruel would continue to be her despair, how bitter and fierce would be her resentment of the insult I had given to her pride. I knew — and the burden was heavy — that I had ruined a life.
“ Well, the weeks went by: these painful impressions lost something of their sharpness. I began again the interrupted round of my usual social routine. Calls, dinners, dances, the play, and the opera became again a part of my life. I thought only occasionally of the desolate woman going about her apartments, too proud, as I imagined, to seek the one source of possible sympathy, — the old aunt. One night I had been with a theatre party to the play. It was a winter evening, bitterly cold, with a wind that cut like a knife. When we left the theatre we were all talking and laughing, and I had stepped forward to help one of the women — a pretty girl, radiant at the moment with pleasure — into one of the waiting carriages, when a familiar perfume made another woman rush back into my memory, and filled me with the most disturbing, the most poignant emotion. I turned instinctively. Dressed in black, thin, pale, her resolutely compressed lips blue with cold, her eyelids with their dark lashes cast down, there at my elbow stood Eleanor. She did not look at me, she did not speak, she did not move. She simply stood there in the cutting wind, a living reproach. And there she remained until all of us had entered the carriages and been driven away. My wonder as to what accident brought her there at that hour, and in that garb, did not prevent the spectacle of her desolate and pathetic figure from striking deep home to my conscience. It made me realize the depth of her misery, and for that misery I, and I alone, was responsible. Only by recalling with all possible vividness the somewhat blunted memory of her jealous exactions could I keep myself from going to her at once. For that evening all power even to appear cheerful went from me.
“ More surprises followed. The next evening when I went to the club for dinner, she stood on the curbstone, in the same black gown, with the same pallor, the same controlled quiet, the same downcast eyes. Oppressed by the thoughts and emotions which these unexpected meetings evoked, I went that night again to the theatre, on the chance of finding there some slight self-forgetfulness. She stood by the door as I passed in, she was standing on the curb when I came out. The next morning when I went down town to my office, she was there, — a black, accusing figure against one of the white pillars that upheld the portico of the great building. And so it was for a week, a month. Everywhere I went, there she was patiently waiting on the sidewalk near where I must pass, — in rain, in shine, in cold, in snow, — always in black, always silent and motionless, like a statue with downcast eyes. I soon saw that these meetings were not accidental: they were planned. I thought I divined. I had left her no way to win back her happiness except by this dumb, pathetic appeal.”
Barrington paused and wet his dry lips from the glass of whiskey and water which stood by his hand on the table. He had been drinking steadily all the evening, but the liquor seemed to have no other effect than to flush his cheeks, and to brighten the lustre of his restless, fear-struck eyes.
“You can imagine,” he continued, “ how this would affect a man. Her appearance so moved me, so filled me with pity, that all I recalled was the charm, the affection of her good moments. And bear in mind her beauty, her seductiveness, her strong will, which I felt upon me even through her always downcast lids. It was like magnetism. Remember, I had been under her powerful spell for months, — and to the last degree of possible humiliation. Remember that I had the habit of yielding to her. Habit, desire, pity, remorse for the wrong I had done her were the powerful enemies I had to fight. For a time, wherever I saw her, my face turned white, my knees were like broken reeds ; I seemed to suffocate ; I had an almost irresistible impulse to surrender. Then came a period when I was visited with an even more overwhelming emotion. It took the form of a strange anger and terror, a mastering desire to escape or to resist ! Is it strange that in those few moments when I saw the situation sanely, — how utterly impossible it was that I should ever return to her, — I was afraid of her, doubly afraid of myself?
“ Then came a new trouble, — petty, but real. My friends began to notice. No one asked questions, but veiled allusions were made, adroitly managed opportunities were offered me to explain. Women whom I was with grew silent when we passed a certain black figure, and cast discreet sidelong glances full of inquiry. Men sauntered, as if accidentally, to the club windows and gazed. Sudden hushes fell among people as I approached. Some — and among them were the best women I knew — grew cool in their demeanor. I received fewer invitations.
“ The mere spectacle of her had hitherto so moved me, so preoccupied my thoughts, that I had never questioned the accuracy of my first guess as to her motive in so showing herself to me. But in the third month little by little came doubt. In all that troubled period, I had given myself courage by saying to myself that she would see that this last appeal was, like all the others, quite vain and would pursue me no longer. But she had never let me see her eyes, which might have revealed to me something of her thoughts. Now, I had certainly proved my firmness, yet she showed not the slightest sign of discouragement. Perhaps, I said to myself, passion has so wrought in her that she must see me, and that sight of me is her sole object. Then, once or twice, it came into my unwilling mind that her motive might be revenge, that she sought to cause me misery rather than to allay her own. That thought I dismissed. It was unworthy.
44 As another slow month went by, other questions began to form themselves in my mind. How long did she intend to continue this strange appeal, — if it were one ; this senseless persecution, — if it were that ? And whence did she obtain so close a knowledge of my movements ? As to that, I began to test her powers, — or, rather, it was with a blind wish to avoid her that I began to change my hour of arriving at my office, to dine at unusual hours at clubs I did not ordinarily frequent, or at obscure restaurants. But this I soon found out: change my ways as I would, I could not long avoid her. Before the day was over, somewhere, early or late, I saw her. The nervous dread of seeing that pale face was every moment with me. I found myself asking, ‘ Will it be on the steps of my office ? On the curbstone by this restaurant ? Will I meet her as I turn this corner ? ’ Dread of her became an acute mental torture impossible to describe.
44 I became wretchedly nervous, unfit for work, unfit for pleasure. Once I stayed for two days in my rooms without stirring from them ; but on the second, chancing to look from my window, I saw her there in the street before my door. There was no escape for me even in cowardly retreat. I hope you can understand why, as the months passed, I found this strange, silent battle wearing me out, slowly killing me. I hope you will understand how the idea of retreat, escape, hiding, — no matter how cowardly,— grew more and more attractive. Pride struggled hard, self-respect said no ; all my manhood revolted ; nevertheless, one day — it was now early June — I threw some things into a bag and left for Bar Harbor. There, for one blessed day and night, I was a free man, walking the earth without dread. On leaving my hotel on the second day, there by the door, doubly conspicuous in that little town, was the silent, black-robed figure I had so learned to dread.
44 I took the next train back to New York. I said to myself, I will stay in the city the entire summer; she cannot endure the heat. But she did. Then — for I was utterly unnerved and not myself — I did an unmanly thing: I went to the police. I asked to be protected from the persecution of a woman.
44 4 What does she do ? ’ asked the high official to whom I had applied,
“ 4 Nothing,’ I was forced to answer, feeling how like an imbecile it was to say so. I tried to explain, and I saw by his look that he thought me demented. That a woman stood on the sidewalk, without so much as looking at me as I went by, did not seem to him serious persecution. The man had no imagination ! He did not see, and I could not make him understand, the exquisite cruelty.
“Finally he said, 1 I am sorry, Mr. Barrington, but I can do nothing. She has the same right to the use of the streets that you have. If she should accost you, or make herself disagreeable in any way, of course — But until she commits some overt act I cannot interfere. Or, hold on ; I could instruct policemen to tell her to move on if she stays too long in one place ; but you say she’s a respectable woman ? — and has means ? There might be a difficulty. I think we ’d better not move in the matter. Come, sir, you ’re worked up over nothing. Go along quietly, pay no attention to her; she ’ll soon tire of that amusement. What can she get by it, after all ? ’
“ 4 Accost you,’ — 4 commits some overt act,’ — you can guess how these stale bits of the police vocabulary jarred on me. You can see how significant they were of a vulgar police interpretation of the facts. And then the question, 4 What can she get by it ? ’ It measured the comprehension of human nature which is given to the police. The man had no conception of anything more subtle than blackmail. I went away utterly disheartened.
44 I went to my rooms and thought. I tried to divine her plan, her object. I could make nothing of the mystery. Broken as I was, I thought again of flight, of Europe. But I had yielded to cowardice once — and again ; I would yield no more. I had unquestionably done the woman an irreparable wrong, and I would stay and face the punishment like a man. And, besides, flight to Europe, or anywhere, was vain. She had followed me to Bar Harbor ; she could follow me anywhere. She had money enough, and I well knew she did not lack determination.
44 Until winter returned, I kept my resolve to suffer in silence. Then again I felt the temptation to escape — by any means. With I hardly know what hope, I employed a private detective to find out what he could. Little enough he told me, — only that certain associates of his in the trade were hired by her to shadow me, and were well paid, and that they knew nothing of her motives. Thus I found out how she knew so well where to place herself where I must pass. Thus I was enabled to see with terrible clearness the lengths to which she was willing to go !
“ Next, I consulted a lawyer. But all that he could suggest was an inquiry into her sanity. He thought that such an inquiry might result in her confinement in an asylum. But, much as I desired to escape, I had at least strength enough not to resort to that cruel expedient. If she was insane,—and I for one did not believe she was, — clearly it was I who had made her so. My hands were tied.
44 Probably her detectives reported to her these proceedings. At any rate, when I next saw her, I detected for the first time a difference in her expression, — so slight, indeed, that I am not sure to this day that it did not exist solely in my imagination, morbidly active after a year of mental suffering. I had been making a call, — for, in spite of everything, I forced myself to lead my usual life, — and came down the steps of my friend’s house late in the afternoon of a winter day. She stood under a gaslight, and as I passed her, I thought I detected in her face — I know I detected in her face — the subtlest look, a mere shadow of irony. You may guess I knew this face well. How could the minutest change escape me ?
“ The new expression dwelt in my memory, and seemed to suggest an explanation. Of course I inferred at once that she knew I had had recourse to detectives and to lawyers, but there seemed to be more in her look than that. I racked my mind with that intense effort which is common to us all when we are trying to recall anything which we greatly wish to remember, and which is, as we say, on the tip of our tongue. I seemed as near to the meaning of her expression as that. But I could not catch the whole of its deep significance.
“ That night I awoke in a cold sweat, starting up in bed as if with nightmare, my heart beating as if with uncontrollable terror. The scales had dropped from my eyes — I knew !
“ She was not like the police ; she did have imagination! And what an imagination it was that could conceive the plan which I had at last divined ! She knew the danger of the ‘ overt act,’ and indeed she would despise anything so clumsy. She had the courage and the will power to do anything, even murder, — of the long-planned, deliberate kind, which shows will. No sudden assault, nothing which might cause my death, such as might content a weak-willed woman, could be adequate to her ideal of revenge as it was now suddenly revealed to me. She wanted no scene, no physical attack which the police could stop, and which could terminate only in the vulgarity of the police court. She wished to subject me to a torture that was insidious and slow, against which I could make no protest, that would increase rather than diminish as time went on, that would be unending. Such torture as that must transcend the physical, it must be mental. Seeking such an end, she had imagination enough to conceive this plan of becoming my shadow, she had the strength of will — and a prodigious strength was required — to carry it out. But the horror lay in this, — her plan, to be perfect, must include the intention of being my shadow as long as I lived !
“ If I well knew her unconquerable will, I knew, also, her devouring pride. Do what I would, she would rule my life in spite of me. Her love I might reject; but her pride, at least, I should be made to gratify. And to this passion, and to that of revenge, and to her distorted love, she would subordinate her whole life, — all her strength, all her fortune, all her prospects of happiness. No difficulty would daunt her, no discouragement reach her, no ill health weaken her. I quailed before the vision.
“For a moment, — but believe me only for a moment, — as I gazed ahead into the years and saw this life, — one the most stolid could not endure unmoved, — I thought of suicide. Then I said no : I will stay and fight. She shall never know — so far as I can help it — that I suffer from her persecution, nor will I again attempt to interfere. Her only punishment shall be to think her revenge a failure. I will try to make her think, hereafter, that I mind her no more than I do any casual passer-by, than a lamppost, or a hydrant.
“ This resolution calmed me, and I slept again. I awoke in the morning not so much fatigued. For in a way the full revelation of her purpose had freed me of one source of weakness. Pity for the woman vanished ; intense aversion took its place. For a while thereafter I think I actually enjoyed the sight of her miserable face.
“ Another year went by. My moods during this time alternated between abject dread and a certain savage joy as I met her. For I believed that to her I showed no sign of suffering. Of course my history gradually became known to my friends, and as it did so I observed a certain shifting of sympathy from her to me. I had had none while the affair remained a mystery. Now, people began to think I was being excessively punished. She became known as ‘ Barrington’s ghost,’ and the slur in the name was for her, not for me. All this gave me courage. I thought with joy that I should really, in time, become wholly indifferent. I might, perhaps, even enjoy a certain happiness.
“ Now, if a man is in misery, there is always some woman who will love him, and her love will be measured not by his deserts, but by his suffering. I met such a woman, — a girl whose pure beauty, whose exquisite goodness, whose great courage seemed to make a brightness round about her. I loved her, and I dared to tell her so. She knew, I said, what shadow haunted me : could she, in spite of that, dare to marry rne ? 4 When this unhappy woman,’ she answered, 4 sees you married, happy, indifferent, surely she will know she is defeated and will cease to trouble you.’ Although I knew I should see my shadow when I left the house that night, I allowed myself to believe her. Why not ? I knew my recent indifference had been manifest; I knew she knew her revenge was failing. Would not such a new proof as my marriage show her that I was secure against her ? As a matter of fact, I had put a new weapon into her hands.
44 But, full of these hopes, I married. The Shadow was present when we left the church; the Shadow, in her black gown and with her white face, stood a little apart from the crowd in the railway station when we returned from our wedding trip. I afterwards learned that illness alone had prevented her following where we went. She never left us after our return. At first my wife never seemed to notice, she never complained, she never even mentioned the Shadow ; she lived her life with a gay courage; but when the Shadow stood with us by the grave of our baby, born only to die — Well, I think I said my wife has gone South for the winter ? The reason ? She is a complete nervous wreck, — health, beauty, youth, all gone !
44 Did I never make any appeal to that woman ? Once. When, after the death of our child, I saw that my wife grew afraid, when I saw that her health began to fail, I did try. I went to her house, but I could not gain admission. I wrote, but without result. Then, much as I dreaded a scene in the streets, I determined to speak to her. That evening I went to a political dinner. At its close I saw her, and, for the first time in six years, I spoke to her. I begged her to let me say a few words. She turned, and by a gesture permitted me to walk up the street at her side. For a block, while men who knew the story stared in wonder, I poured forth remonstrance, denunciation, entreaty. Through it all, her even pace never changed, her cold face never altered, she spoke no word, made no gesture of assent or of dissent. At the end of the block was her carriage. Into this she stepped, and left me — without a word. She must enjoy the memory of that hour !
“Come,” added Barrington, breaking off abruptly. “I’ve finished my story. It’s late. We must go. For fourteen years I ’ve endured this misery. Don’t say anything — I know,” and then, half under his breath, he added, 44 Poor Eleanor! her beauty is quite gone, too.”
Out of doors, a drizzling rain was falling. The reflected light of the street lamps shimmered on the damp pavements. It was two o’clock in the morning ; the strange odor of streets on a warm wet night filled the air; it was very still. Then, suddenly, the roar of an elevated train on Sixth Avenue, a block away, broke the silence. We turned down the street, and there, standing on the edge of the sidewalk, was an apparition at which I stared with instinctive, certain recognition. The woman was in black; she was very pale ; her eyes were feverish and had deep shadows under them; her cheeks were hollow. As Barrington had said, her beauty had gone in these fourteen years, but her unconquerable will had not gone. A glance satisfied me of that. She was his fate, and could not leave him. She did not speak or move, but, as we passed, the expression of her eyes as she regarded Barrington — for she raised her eyes the second he had passed — was one I shall never forget. Then, turning, I saw her beckon to a waiting carriage. This she entered, and was driven rapidly away, the wet top of the vehicle flashing as it passed under successive electric lights.
Charles Miner Thompson.