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Title: A Modern Hercules - The Tale of a Sculptress
Author: Winstock, Melvin G.
Language: English
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“A MODERN HERCULES,”

THE TALE OF A SCULPTRESS,

BY

MELVIN G. WINSTOCK,

OF THE

LEADVILLE BAR.

AUTHOR OF

“A Western Politician,” “The Fatal Horoscope,” “A Virginian Romance,”
Etc.


Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1899, by Melvin G.
Winstock, in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.
C.


Herald Democrat Print. Leadville, Colo.

1899.



PREFACE.


HOTEL VENDOME,                     }
LEADVILLE, COLO., OCTOBER 31, 1899.}

TO THE PUBLIC:

This City, surrounded by snow-clad peaks pointing to and almost losing
themselves in the bosom of the Supreme Intelligence, has inspired
my effort. The volume is dedicated to “Ouida,” radiant also with
inspiration. She lives. The novel is written from my play of the same
title.

The clergy at first may condemn the _morale_ of my story, but upon
reflection I think they will realize the injustice of such a course.
There is no religion that does not preach that though men sin, true
redemption may be accomplished by honest repentance and noble effort.
My hero and heroine go through the valley of the Shadow of Death to
cleanse themselves of impurity, and the story of their lives is a
living, breathing sermon in itself.

I have published my story here for the reason that the generosity of
Leadville citizens has made it possible for me to place my work before
the public. I trust it will meet with such success as it merits and no
more.

MELVIN G. WINSTOCK.



“A MODERN HERCULES.”



CHAPTER I.

“THE NUDE IN ART.”


Two things caused the great heart of New York society to throb with
unusual excitement. One was a marvelous work of sculptural art, where
boldness in design and utter fearlessness in execution had almost
affronted, and yet had won the plaudits of the cultivated of the
Metropolis. Ouida Angelo, a woman in “A Grecian Temptress,” had dared
to wring from men an absolute tribute to and acknowledgement of her
genius and power. The second event was the announcement that Horatio
Nugent, the great pulpit orator, would preach a sermon on “The Nude in
Art.”

The wealth and fashion of the city sat spell-bound beneath the
eloquent tongue of the great divine. The sad face of the Madonna, in
the painted window of Geneva, grew sadder still as she looked down
upon the favored multitude. There were present there, men who headed
every published list of charity, who paid thousands for pew rental,
in this great official residence of God, yet who had no compunction
about wrecking a railroad and thereby indirectly spreading ruin among
hundreds. In the front row sat a bank president, who knew that on
the morrow his financial institution would be in irretrievable ruin,
yet who for months had been a pillar of the church and had some of
the congregational funds in his rapacious clutch. A poor wash woman
or window cleaner, probably attracted by the magnetic tones of the
stupendous organ, had dared to wander in. In simple ignorance she
had probably imagined that Christ’s boasted friendship for the poor
meant something to modern dogmatists, and had taken a seat high up
among these mighty lordlings of this majestic world. The congregation
held its breath in amazement, and could not have been more shocked if
the yellow fever in disguise had paid its fatal visit. This magnetic
indignation communicated itself to an usher in full dress. He came
forward and whispered something to the woman. She slowly rose and went
up into the gallery. _God had sold out all the down-stair seats to
the rich!_ The Madonna sighed in pity and was angry. The congregation
breathed a sigh of relief. The church itself cost half a million. It
had no reading room, free bath, employment bureau or lunch counter
attached to it. It was open for about nine months each year on Sundays,
and when a millionaire wanted to get married, or his heirs wanted to
bury him, so they could get up a sensational will contest and make
newspapers sell. Not far away from the church was a series of alleys,
where poverty held supreme sway, and where the grim specter of want,
filth and misery, stalked, dealing death, crime and agony, winning each
moment recruits for the devil’s army in hell.

I’ll not allow that rich woman over there to plead not guilty, upon
the ground of ignorance of these conditions. She knows all about it,
and yet to get those latest diamonds that sparkle on her breast, she
made her husband sell the farm, whereon his honest old rustic parents
were buried. Over there sits a woman, who is unfaithful in heart to her
marriage vows, and who yet lacks the courage to follow the bent of her
intense longing, for fear of what her small world would say. In all of
this artificial brilliance, there are masks and faces as false as many
of the hearts which rich attire conceals.

Notwithstanding all this, there was every inducement for real
inspiration. The architectural beauty of the interior of the church was
artistic to the nature, and soft and alluring to the eye. The place
was decorated with beautiful pots, plants and flowers. Through the
stained windows a mellow light gilded rich carpets and soft cushions.
The trained choir sang divinely while the organist thundered forth not
only the wrath of the Deity, but promised mercy, like the whisper of an
angel, through the organ’s pipes. As the notes of the grand instrument
died away in the distance, softly, like a summer sigh, a man of noble
face and figure stood in the pulpit.

It was the preacher!

He was young. His eyes were boldly black and brilliant. They sparkled
like pure diamonds with feeling, comprehension and intelligence. His
head had the shape of a Roman God. His shoulders were square. He looked
the very physical and intellectual giant that he was. His voice was
flavored with magnetism that always distinguishes the eloquent orator
from the mere word absorber. He ran his long, shapely fingers through
his dark hair, shook his head like a lion, and plunged like a blooded
courser into the very meat and marrow of his subject.

“Christ was insulted on Sunday last. This church was empty at service
time, and all had forsaken Him to pay tribute to a woman’s vindictively
immoral work. You who have built this religious palace to the glory of
a mighty and eternal God, betrayed Him for the devil. For hark me,
I tell you, that he who so prostitutes true art, be it man or woman,
pandering to the depraved tastes of modern society, is but an agent of
the King of Hell!

“‘A Grecian Temptress’ was, or is, its theme. A woman of form almost
divine, enticing a youth of purity to voluptuous sin, while in the
veiled background stands a Satan, holding sway over the temptress,
while she is but serving her Master in alluring souls to the regions of
perpetual darkness.

“All true art leads to God. The tree, the earth, the sparrow, the
eagle, the wheat, the stars, the beasts, man, are parts of a great and
mighty network of machinery. All false art leads to God’s enemy, and
sin, selfishness, voluptuousness, temptation and passion, carry with
them and in them the seed of their own punishment. How dare these bold
and brazen creatures, under the name of art, lay before the multitude
chapters from their own devilish and inconsistent lives? _Yet the sin
is not theirs alone._ You who hear me are equally guilty, because you
encourage them by your countenance and patronage to continue in their
base course of debauching the public taste. We seek in vain for purity
and find it swiftly fleeing, while in its place there is rising up a
craving for sensationalism which is even reaching the pulpit itself!

“Why should we follow ancient Greece? As long as the Athenian was
stalwart, patriotic, full of rugged simplicity, the influence of Greece
was all powerful in shaping the thought of the world and in moulding
its history. But when its brave warriors, orators and poets sank
into luxurious excesses, succumbing to vice, vying with each other
in the mere promotion of enjoyment, its influence waned, its people
degenerated, until today it is a memory only serving to teach the
world, that its people as a nation were unfit to survive. And when
Grecian methods permeated Rome and Judea, these nations, too, became
practically blotted out. Shall we permit American valor, patriotism
and healthful vigor to have engrafted upon it these ideas so fatal to
Greece, Rome and Judea? Shall we permit, by such an education of public
morals, a gradual loss of respect of all those pure ideals taught by
Him, who preached the sermon on the mount?” He paused here, but no one
stirred.

“But this is not all. These Bohemian rebels, who create and produce and
publish these things do worse than this. They make their own universe,
enact their own laws, defy mankind, and yet society grovels at their
feet and elevates all such so-called gifted creatures to a pedestal
high above the church itself! They are worshiped, and Christ, who made
for man the most agonizingly sublime sacrifice of which the mind can
conceive, is insulted, neglected and made a common mockery!

“This woman Ouida Angelo, who gave to the world ‘A Grecian Temptress,’
who is she? A luring siren whose devotion to all that is voluptuous and
sensual, reveals in her work only that which characterizes her ignoble
life. She should be driven forth from achievements, that alike disgrace
herself, art and humanity. Instead of worshiping her with idolatrous
affection, we should freeze her with a monstrous condemnation.”

Again he ceased and staggered almost out of the pulpit as though filled
to the quick with some strange emotion.

A rustling gown with a queenly woman under it arose from a cushioned
pew and majestically stepped down the aisle to the door.

She was Ouida Angelo, the sculptress!

Just then a startling crash was heard, and the pane of glass, upon
which had been exquisitely done the face of the Madonna, fell and broke
into countless pieces.

The sermon on “The Nude in Art” had done its work, and Monday’s papers
were full of it.



CHAPTER II.

FROM POVERTY TO WEALTH.


Ivan Strogoff was a Russian nobleman at the University of St.
Petersburg. Together with many of his noble colleagues, he imbibed
radical theories concerning freedom and the abuses practiced by the
imperial government. Added to this, he married a pretty but poor
Polish girl, who died in giving birth to a son, Paul. Ivan one day was
arrested, secretly tried and condemned to Siberia. He, however, bought
his freedom from corrupt public officials, and fled to New York with
his son. Then he began a battle with the world in which starvation and
misery constantly held the upper hand. Nothing succeeded with him. He
could gain no foothold. His nature, naturally honest and bright, became
soured, until at times he actually hated even his son, Paul. The latter
was a noble specimen of physical humanity, and apparently seemed to
thrive on the hardships which both father and son seemed compelled by
cruel fate to endure. This continued until Paul was about 10 years
old. Then it was that Ivan brought home one night a long envelope,
and while Paul slept in their garret in the slums, Ivan, his father,
sat long into the night, until the candle burned out in the socket,
reading documents with long, gold seals on them. It was a promise from
an influential Russian official, toward a restoration of Strogoff’s
estates, if the exile should return and swear anew his allegiance to
the Czar. Now Strogoff’s vain struggles in the new world had sobered
him. Many of the wild dreams of youth had disappeared, and he was ready
and quite prepared to accept good fortune again, even if it meant a
sacrifice of those poetic dreams that had caused the misfortunes of his
earlier days.

He had but enough money left to barely get back to St. Petersburg
alone, and the great question was: What could be done with Paul? He
finally saw the keeper of the lodging, and received every assurance
that Paul would be cared for until his father could send for him.
So Ivan kissed the sleeping boy, and ere the sun had started on his
course, was on the broad Atlantic, his brain busy with teeming projects
for the newer and noble future that seemed to spread out before him.

Politics in Russia, however, are even worse and more complicated than
in New York under Tammany. By the time Ivan reached the seat of Russia
government, his friend had lost imperial favor. The plots against the
life of the Czar had rendered a restoration to wealth and power of
great difficulty, and almost an impossibility. Then began a struggle
which slowly but surely sapped the vital energy of the returned exile.
Each day brought forth fresh complications. Three times during a period
of ten years the poor devil was compelled to fly to save himself from
the enforcement of the old sentence, that like the sword of Damocles,
hung over him. But with a perseverance worthy of all admiration, he
persisted, and something he could not define, would not let him die.
To add to his misery, Paul had apparently been swallowed up, and never
again while life remained, did the doubly unfortunate man ever hear of
the boy he had abandoned to the cold charity of the New York lodging
house keeper.

At length the great day came! Ivan Strogoff was ushered into the
presence of the Czar, kissed the imperial hand, and once again trod his
ancestral halls. But the struggle was too hard. All vitality had been
sapped up in the battle, and the exile died before he had had time to
enjoy his return to prosperity.

Upon his bed of death he gathered to himself that trusty friend who
had been faithful, and conjured him to search out Paul and in some way
compensate him for the terrible injustice inflicted upon the abandoned
boy. “Seek him out in poverty or shame, and win from his lips my
forgiveness, or I shall not rest in Heaven or in Hell.” Consoled by the
sacred promise of his friend so died he, and nature was gracious to vex
his tired soul no more, for truly had the man endured an undue share
of the mortal grief. But so is the world, and no man can measure the
amount of agony he can live through. He who fears death is a criminal
and a coward. A man should so live his life that death is the most
welcome gift of nature.



CHAPTER III.

PAUL BECOMES A THIEF.


The next morning after Paul’s father had gone, the lad arose, dressed
himself and waited for breakfast, of course in vain.

“Come, boy,” said the lodging house keeper, “eat with me.”

“Where is my father?” said Paul.

“Gone.”

“Gone where?”

“Far away, boy; even over the ocean. He will send for you.”

Paul said nothing. He did not even shed a tear, as many a lad would
have done. There was the blood of the Cossack in his rugged nature.
Even at his small age he did not and would not wear his heart upon his
ragged coat sleeve. But he was full of bitter thought. He became a
miniature stoic. He munched his humble breakfast in silence.

At first he was treated with a fair degree of kindness by his rough,
rude and miserly guardian, but when days, weeks and months came and
with them no remittance from the struggling father in Russia, the
guardian of the lad became sour, morose, vindictive and cruel. One day
he beat the boy, and became greatly enraged because he could not make
Paul cry or show by word or sign that the beating gave him pain. Paul
stood the abuse like a dog, but he grew. One day, feeling within his
loins the strength of a lusty young giant, he arose and whipped his
persecutor like David did Goliath, and fled out into the fathomless
streets of New York.

That night he avoided the police and slept in a dry goods box in an
alley. He awoke cold and shivering. His stomach ached with hunger.
Health, youth and vigor conferred on him a monstrous desire to eat. As
he sat in his alley he heard the growl of a dog. Looking up, he saw a
plate full of meat scraps. The dog growled with satisfaction at his
contemplated feast. Now, it seemed a strange and unjust thing to Paul
that a dog should enjoy plenty, while he, a human being, had nothing.
So with the instinct of the barbarian, he proceeded to dispute the
dog’s right to the whole of the tempting banquet. So the boy and the
dog fought desperately for the food. The boy won. But even then Paul
was too honest to appropriate it all. He fairly and justly divided with
his late foe. So if Paul was a thief, he differed from the common kind.
The banker and stockbroker steal on a large scale, for the excitement
afforded in legalized robbery. The boy stole from necessity. He and
the dog in silent sympathy became friends, and went out in the world
together.

That night they slept in a boat, and in the morning were out at sea,
their craft having been attached to a schooner. They were discovered
and taken on board, where Paul was put to work. He, however, got back
to New York. He never parted with the dog. They had a great time in
starving together. Paul held horses, blacked boots, sold newspapers,
carried satchels, and, in spite of all hardships, privations and
miseries, grew up tall, muscular and of wondrous physical beauty. He
never was a thief but once, and had spent some years of devotion in
paying his victim for the theft.

One day Paul was passing a great brown stone palace. A man was carrying
in huge blocks of marble. He called on the boy to help him. Paul
readily assented.

In one of the rooms stood a majestic woman. When Paul’s eyes fell upon
the vision he dropped his burden, and as it crashed upon the floor he
stood like one transfixed. To his starving, neglected, hungry soul it
seemed as though some goddess had dropped to the earth from the stars,
and the woman looked at him with uncommon interest.

In a voice that thrilled him with unknown, undefinable, undreamed-of
longings, she said, “I want you.”

“Yes,” he said, as in a dream.

Thenceforth Paul Strogoff entered the household of Ouida Angelo, the
sculptress, as a model. For the first time in his life, he felt that he
was human.



CHAPTER IV.

THE GREAT SENSATION.


Monday’s papers were full of Dr. Nugent’s sermon, and its sensational
termination. Tongues wagged fierce concerning the artistic creation,
its creator, and the fearless, the eloquent divine.


[_New York Herald._]

“The sensation of the season has arisen out of ‘A Grecian Temptress,’
by Ouida Angelo. Only crude, narrow and dogmatic opinion condemns.
The liberal and artistic world welcomes the work and its producer,
and New York is to be congratulated upon the priceless possession of
a genius who has obliterated sex in the grandness of her conceptions,
in the boldness of her execution and in her wondrous grasp of poetic
imagination. Dr. Nugent has made a fearful mistake, and his attack
upon the work and the woman in his pulpit yesterday, was the pursuit
of a course altogether at variance with his usual conservatism. He
has, if possible, defeated his very object by the bitterness of his
denunciation. For it is a known fact that New York breaks its neck to
see anything which is even nastily described, and ‘A Grecian Temptress’
will now be viewed by thousands who, but for the preacher’s invective,
would never have known of its existence. The learned doctor of divinity
in future would do well to confine himself to biblical subjects, and
leave artistic discussion to those who can appreciate.”


[_New York Post._]

“New York has the greatest things of any city in the world, and we
have added to our proud possession in the shape of Dr. Nugent, whose
courage has won the admiration of all classes of the community. Some
years ago an adventurous and audacious creature established a studio in
this city, and has since palmed off upon certain hysterical newspaper
men and old maids sighing for excitement, some vulgar carvings, and by
pandering to depravity and licentiousness, has contrived to secure a
certain idolatrous following. Dr. Nugent, in the face of her admiring
adherents, many of whom are members of his own congregation, has had
the courage to read New York a much-needed lesson. In an age when so
many preachers speak to please their rich constituencies, it is indeed
refreshing to find one man who preaches his convictions, regardless of
consequences. ‘A Grecian Temptress,’ by Ouida Angelo, is a dangerous
work of art, because of its very seductive quality. To the youth of
our land it is suggestive of pernicious evil. The Society for the
Prevention of Vice would do well to spend less time in hindering the
Turkish dance, and more effort in the prevention of the prostitution of
pure marble to such ignoble ends. The _Post_ appreciates Dr. Nugent’s
honest efforts in the cause of public decency. We have recently been
cleansing the political atmosphere. Let us second every honest effort
to purify public morals.”


[_Puck._]

“A great clown has appeared in the pulpit arena, and he shows every
Sunday at a great and fashionable church. True, the audience does
not laugh aloud. They do it in their sleeves; nor do any swallow the
medicines prescribed by this theological quack. The listening folk wait
till they get out. They then sneak around the corner and devour the
forbidden fruit. Churches are fast adopting the methods of the circus,
and we may soon look for the deacons to hire space on bill boards, and
there, in all the colors of the rainbow, we will see pictures of hell,
heaven and many other strong features of the regulation religious bill
of fare. Suppose Ouida Angelo wants to carve a pretty woman’s leg.
Don’t we know that such things exist, even though sometimes the shape
is not real? Shame upon you, Dr. Nugent! Have you not a large enough
task to look after the morals of your own flock, that you must forsooth
hold up to public ridicule, the greatest genius which New York has
seen for a century?”


[_New York Journal._]

“Ouida Angelo should now die happy. She has been outrageously
criticised by the scribblers of a subsidized press until they have
absolutely won for her a niche in the temple of fame, and now, to
cap the climax, she has at length antagonized the church. A noted
preacher has set all tongues wagging, and blood-tingling murders,
shipwrecks, are forgotten in a universal discussion over a piece of
marble statuary. The learned doctor says the artist is sensational, and
yet he proceeds to undignify the church by bettering her instruction.
He says she is vulgar, yet he vulgarizes a noble theme by becoming
offensively personal. No one can quarrel with his right to say what he
pleases about a work which has become public property. But he has no
more right to discuss what he pleases to term her private life, than he
has to attack the character of the richest member of his congregation.
Who authorizes him to set himself up as a judge and executioner of
the character of his fellows? Among people of all classes there is a
growing disrespect for the mere ecclesiastic, and such sermons are
aiding to bring the church into public contempt. This is gravely to
be regretted, especially in this instance, as Dr. Nugent was rapidly
forging to the front as a liberal and intelligent public speaker, and
this ill-considered effort will undoubtedly tend to lessen his great
influence as a public speaker.”

The preacher sat alone in his study, a prey to many conflicting
emotions. He had read all the journalistic comments on his sermon,
and was filled with mighty discontent. For months he had known the
woman he condemned, and in his inner being there had been aroused for
her, a strange interest. To him, she had unfolded many of her artistic
dreams, but he did not comprehend, for he had been nurtured in a narrow
school, and had embraced in his smooth and successful career, but few
of fierce experiences. Nor was he completely assured of the sincerity
of his motive. A dim, shadowy belief was slowly forcing its way through
his consciousness that he had spoken for other purposes than the mere
desire to uplift and purify public taste. He had learned to realize,
inconsistent as it may seem, that the woman was really noble of heart
and character, but his education and environment made him believe that
she was debasing the noble gifts with which Nature had endowed her, and
he was preaching as much to the individual woman as he had apparently
been preaching to the public mind. The complex nature of his attitude
to the great question troubled him, and a furrowed brow and anxious
eye told a tale of mental agony. Now that he had spoken, he was filled
with a grave doubt as to the righteousness of his conduct, and he was
paying the penalty of all men who are sensitively moulded. Then the
thought came to him that he was using his pulpit, not for mankind but
for himself, and he questioned his right to such a course of action. He
could not, and would not, deny to himself that the artist possessed for
him an enormous attraction. A vague dream had often come to him that
he could breathe into her soul nobler and purer dreams, but he put it
away each time with a weaker struggle against the passion that slowly
made its inroads into his soul. She was a Bohemian. She broke all links
in the chain of custom and established precedent. She exhibited a
reckless freedom in the comradeship of men, that maddened and frenzied
him, yet he was speechless. He would crush this out of her, drive her
from this insane, voluptuous life, and uplift her to his higher sphere,
where her true nobility of character might be exercised, freed from
the Bacchanalian influences of her mad life. Gradually, as he thought,
he was ashamed to think how much of personal longing had crept into
a sermon which should have been delivered in the honest work of his
sacred profession.

He awoke from his fevered self-examination, and buttoning his great
coat around him, went out upon his daily visits to the poor, for,
though he was accounted a great and fashionable preacher, he stole
out daily to haunts where misery dwelt, and the greater part of a
magnificent salary went annually to places unknown to organized and
official charity, and he was almost afraid that people would find it
out!



CHAPTER V.

SATAN REBUKING SIN.


Among the many great houses in this metropolis, none were more
artistically and voluptuously arranged than the mansion of Ouida
Angelo, the sculptress. There were parlors and drawing-rooms, a study,
a library, dining room in exquisitely carved oak, while the boudoir of
the artist was a perfect dream. She had costly paintings and pieces of
marble statuary for which a monarch would almost give his crown, and
all arranged and placed with perfect artistic and poetic taste. Ouida’s
boudoir was palatial with its tiger skin rugs, couches, mirrors and
jeweled cases. Her sleeping couch was draped in richest silks, and was
as soft and as alluring as ever enticed to sleep the troubled head of a
queen.

On leaving the church, Ouida had entered her carriage, in which, by
an imperious wave of the hand, she had been driven quickly to her
residence. There, with the assistance of her sweet-faced maid, she
had disrobed and was quickly attired in a soft and clinging negligee
apparel, which women delight in, and which men cannot describe. This
done, pointing to the door, she almost fiercely said: “Go!”

The little maid stood a moment, amazed, for never before had her
mistress been so harsh, but slowly she turned and silently moved toward
the door. Ouida, quickly shamed into atonement, said: “Lucile!”

Quickly and gladly the joyous girl bounded back, and almost tearfully
said: “Is my mistress angry with me?”

“Child,” said Ouida, “I angry with you!” The great creature stooped and
kissed Lucile’s forehead. “I am troubled with the nasty world.”

Left alone, the artist paced the floor of her boudoir like a lioness
from whose breasts her cubs had been rudely torn.

“I hate them all. None can be trusted. This one seemed nobler than the
rest. I revealed more of the woman in me to him than to any creature
born. See how he repays me, my art. I could forgive him who preaches
against my life, for I have given the world the right to talk; but when
he attacks true art, the Goddess at whose shrine I worship, when he
ridicules my religion, I feel as though my heart would crack with rage.

“Bravery, thou art extinct, and there is a premium placed on public
cowardice. He attacks me from a safe place, behind the battlements
of the pulpit. I indulged in the vain hope of having won the respect
of one honest man, among the contemptible puppies by which I am
surrounded, and I find that he, too, has a narrow, putrid soul. He
wants to enhance his reputation at my expense. A vulgar woman would
horsewhip him. I cannot so commonize myself. A barbarous woman would
kill him, a bold woman would insult him. My vengeance upon him shall
not be commonplace.

“A fool, too, he is. There is no wisdom in him. Does he think he can
rob me of the affection of New York? What idiotic nonsense! Not a
thousand sermons could do that. My place in art is greater than his in
the church.

“Ah, I have it! I’ll make him supremely ridiculous. I’ll make the city
laugh at him. I’ll carve a work with him as central figure, and I’ll
christen it ‘Satan Rebuking Sin.’”

Like a woman, she laughed at the cleverness of her conceit, dressed and
took a fierce drive through Central Park.



CHAPTER VI.

A LAWYER’S STUBBORNNESS.


Edward Salmon was one of the brilliant and successful lawyers of New
York. His office contained family secrets that would tear wide open
the very vitals of society, if he but chose to speak. But he was oily
and discreet, and maid, matron, and millionaire as well, knew that
what went into that massive safe and into Salmon’s wily brain, never
came out again unless it was proper. That was the reason of his great
success. Mr. Salmon was a great success. He had a wondrous practice,
a splendid library, a rich and lovely home; but he had a daughter,
Marie, who had seen fit, as young girls will do sometimes, to fall in
love without parental consultation, and the result was that both father
and daughter were very unhappy. She would not yield to his wishes, and
he would not consent to the man of her choice. Now, Milton Royle, the
sweetheart of Marie, was a noble fellow, but twenty years prior to the
commencement of this story, Royle’s father and the lawyer had a great
difficulty over a law suit, and Salmon had never forgotten or forgiven
what he had always alleged, was the betrayal of Royle’s father, and
he had sworn that he would rather see Marie go wifeless to the grave,
rather than that she should marry a man in whose veins flowed the blood
of the elder Royle. In all other respects he was an indulgent parent,
and was particularly tender to Marie, as the girl had lost her mother,
and was almost alone in the world, not liking or indulging in the
usual frivolities of society and fashion. Her life was spent in art,
and among artists. She was a great friend and admirer of Ouida, and it
was at the studio of the latter, where she had met young Royle, who was
one of the students much favored by the great sculptress.

Salmon was in his office dictating a number of very important
communications to his stenographer. Happening to glance out of the
window overhanging the street, he saw something that evidently caused
him great annoyance. A moment later there was a quick, nervous rap at
the door, and a young girl exquisitely dressed, entered, and coming up,
threw her arms around the lawyer’s neck and kissed him. He received the
embrace with coldness.

“Why, father, what is the matter?” said Marie.

“Matter? It is ridiculous for you to ask such a question. I saw you
just a moment ago on the street, part company with Milton Royle. You
know you always displease me by your association with him.”

“I can’t help it,” said the girl, her voice tinged with unutterable
sadness. “I make no concealment of my love for Milton. I like to be
with him, and am with him whenever he can spare the time from his
studies.”

“And yet you know it angers me beyond expression.”

“And, I think, sir, without reason. You have not a word to say against
Milton’s character, and because you had trouble with his father before
we were born, you want to make us miserable.”

“Now, Marie, you know that is not all. I want you to marry a man worthy
of you.”

“Then let me have Milton,” she pleaded.

“I want no artist in my family,” he sternly said; “they are all a
shiftless and unreliable lot, and one was never known to make a woman
happy. Their attachments are as fleeting as their artistic conceptions.”

“Such argument will not move us. You know, father, I have some of your
blood in my veins, and our race has always been stubborn.”

The old man looked on his daughter with admiration, and going over to
where she sat, he kissed her tenderly.

“Now you are like the dear old dad you used to be.” She gently stroked
his gray hair, and fondling him softly, said: “And you won’t be angry
with my Milton any more?”

“You sly puss; just like your mother was,” and the hardened man of
the world breathed a touching sigh, in the memory of a past that was
fraught with delicious happiness, but which had gone forever.

“Not meaning to change the subject, my dear girl, but about a month ago
I received a large mass of legal documents from Russia, which conveyed
information of a very valuable character to a Russian lad, whose
father had abandoned him here in New York City. I have had a horde
of detectives employed, and they have been unable thus far to locate
him. The last news is contained in a report today, that a person of
that description was employed somewhere in an art studio. Now, you get
around among this class of cattle quite often. His name is Paul--”

“Paul Strogoff?”

“Yes. Do you know anything about him?”

“Yes. He is employed by Ouida Angelo as a model.”

“Good. The fee in the case shall be yours.”

“Cash?” cried out the mercenary little wretch.

“Yes, cash,” said the delighted father, and he forthwith went into the
safe and brought a roll of bank notes, which he gave to Marie.

“Do you desire a receipt for this,” she said, with a smile.

“No,” said Mr. Salmon, “but you might tell your old dad what you are
going to do with so much money.”

“No, I cannot do that,” she replied, with assumed fear.

“Going to waste it on your staff of paupers?”

“No.”

“New dress?”

“No.”

“Pray, what then?”

“Going to buy Milton a birthday present,” as in a mocking fit of
laughter she skipped through the door and vanished from the office.

“The little devil has tricked me,” he said, but there was no anger in
his tone.



CHAPTER VII.

OUIDA WILL NOT BE INTERVIEWED.


When Ouida returned from her drive through Central Park, she found in
waiting, Olivia Winters, special writer for the Daily Tattler. Now,
Miss Winters was one of the most brilliant women of the New York press.
She it was whom the World had sent to be knocked down by a moving car,
so that the new style fenders might be properly described. The girl
had also taken a balloon ascension, and written it up for her paper.
She at one time spent three months as an inmate of a mad house, and as
a result, had written such an exposure of the methods of the place,
that the State Legislature had passed a new law for the government of
such institutions. One of the girl’s crowning achievements, however,
had been to interview the President of the United States at a time and
upon a subject upon which other writers had tried, in vain, to get an
expression of opinion. The only thing she had ever failed in, was in
getting Ouida to talk, nor did she ever press the great artist, for
she really liked her. Ouida had told her many things, but had always
requested her to refrain from using them in the paper, and Olivia had
always respected the confidence reposed in her, by keeping her word. No
true writer will ever break faith under similar circumstances.

Ouida did not keep her visitor long in waiting. A rap at the door was
heard, and upon being bid, Olivia Winters entered the apartments of
Ouida.

“Ah,” said the sculptress, “I am indeed glad to see you.”

“That gives me hope,” said the writer.

“Of what?” exclaimed Ouida.

“That you will break the silence you have maintained for years.”

“Ah, dear girl, there you, no matter how delicately, have approached
forbidden ground.”

“Have I offended you?” said Miss Winters.

“No,” replied Ouida, “if any one could have probed the mystery of my
life, it would have been you.”

“I thank you at least for that slight evidence of your confidence and
esteem--”

“But,” said Ouida, interrupting, “I have taken Disraeli’s advice.”

“And pray, what was that?” inquired Olivia.

“A young man, ambitious to succeed in public life, approached the great
English statesman, and said: ‘Mr. Disraeli, to what one great thing do
you attribute your success in public life?’ The wonderful Englishman
grew thoughtful for a moment, and said: ‘Well, sir, when I started out
in public life, I resolved never to reply to what the newspapers might
say about me.’ ‘Good,’ said the young man, ‘I will follow your advice,’
and he started to depart. ‘Hold! young man,’ cried Mr. Disraeli, ‘let
me finish my story.’ Continuing, he said: ‘But on one occasion the
London Telegraph came out with an accusation against me of so monstrous
a character, that I felt constrained to deny it. And what do you
suppose the damned rascally newspaper editor did? Why, he proved it.’”

Both women laughed merrily over the tale, which the Winters woman
declared was in Ouida’s usually happy and clever vein.

“But, my dear Ouida, I came to see what you had to say about Nugent’s
sermon.”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“Absolutely nothing, my dear girl. If Mr. Nugent preaches against me,
my art, it is because texts are scarce and he wants to draw a crowd.”

“But, my dear Ouida, his personal, direct attack on you--you owe it to
yourself to speak.”

“No, I shan’t help him advertise himself.”

But even as she said it a cloud of vexation passed over her stately
brow.

“Then,” said Winters, appealingly, “nothing I can say will urge you to
speak?”

“No, Winters, don’t try to make me deviate from that silent course I
have from the very beginning mapped out for myself.”

“Well, then, I must go. But rest assured, our columns are yours at any
time you desire to speak.”

“Thanks! By the way, call at my box tonight at the opera. There will
be a lot of fools in attendance, and I will need the exhilaration of a
chat with one like you.”

“Au revoir.”

“Until tonight.”

And as Olivia Winters departed, her heart was filled with sympathy for
the big-souled, independent creature she had just left, and she felt
for her a deeper love and affection than for any other woman breathing
the breath of life.



CHAPTER VIII.

PAUL HEARS GOOD TIDINGS.


The very day upon which the Winters woman called on Ouida, in her
unsuccessful attempt to secure an interview, Paul Strogoff, the model,
paid a visit to the office of Edward Salmon, the shrewd and wily
lawyer.

The young Russian gazed with awe on the great array of books and files,
and wondered what could possibly have been the reason why any lawyer
should have requested his presence.

After a while he was ushered into the presence of Mr. Salmon, and stood
rather fearingly waiting for what was coming. He was rather like a dog
at bay. He had had such an amount of silent agony throughout his life,
that he was in that passive frame of subjected mind, that he was ready
for and could bear almost anything.

“Take a seat, sir,” said Mr. Salmon.

Paul dropped into the first chair, and still spoke not.

“I am a lawyer, sir,” said Mr. Salmon.

“So I saw by your letter head; but how does that concern me? I have no
lawsuits.”

“That may be true, but strange things come to us at times.”

“True,” said Paul, growing somewhat restless, “why have you sent for
me?”

“Before I can entirely tell you, I must ask a few questions, to which I
must have frank and truthful answers.”

“Having nothing at stake,” said Paul, “I have no inducement to lie.”

“You are a Russian by birth?”

“I am.”

“Your father abandoned you in this city years ago, returned to Russia,
and you have not heard from him since?”

Paul jumped up. “How do you know all this?”

“Sit down and calm yourself,” soothingly said the man of law. “I mean
you naught but good.”

“Well, go on,” said the impatient fellow.

“He returned to his native land in the hope of recovering his ancestral
estates, and was grievously disappointed, tricked and hounded for
years. At last he won the great battle, and died.

“I suppose I should weep,” said Paul, “but I am no hypocrite. I cannot
forget these years of cruel abandonment and misery.”

“But,” said the lawyer, by way of consolation, “your future is full of
promise and brilliance. There is absolutely not a single obstacle in
the way of your complete enjoyment of a noble name and wealth.”

“That may be true,” said Paul. “Fate has played him a scurvy trick to
my advantage, but I have become bitter, my heart is sour with evil
neglect. I have known starvation of body and soul; I have craved love,
sympathy, affection, and only a dog licked my hand. Nothing can move
me.”

“I don’t blame you, my boy, but your future is more than bright.”

“A new experience for me,” said Paul, who already felt as though a
burden had been dropped upon his young life.

“There are many complications likely to arise, in which you will need
legal advice. May I consider myself retained in your behalf?”

“I don’t know anything about these things,” said Paul, “but do for me
whatever is necessary.”

“By the way,” said Salmon, looking at Paul shrewdly, “perhaps you need
an advance of money. If so, I can supply you.”

Paul laughed. “Me, money? Why, man, I have learned the lesson of
starvation so thoroughly that I need nothing.”

“You are a happy philosopher,” said the lawyer, and with a wave of the
hand the interview ended.

Paul departed in a more than reflective mood.



CHAPTER IX.

DECIDED BY LOT.


It was evening, and three of the most prominent men of New York City
confronted each other at the residence of the sculptress. Milton
Wayland, a noted stock broker, Edmund Connors, a successful politician,
and Iago Doane, an editor, formed the trio.

“I trust,” said Wayland, “we may now and forever settle the question of
superiority at whist.”

“I did not come here to play whist tonight,” said Connors, frankly and
boldly.

“Pray, then,” said the editor, with ill-concealed sarcasm, “what
brought you here?”

“Are you my father confessor?” said the politician.

“No,” replied Doane, “I have enough agonies of my own; nor would I like
to hold in my soul the knowledge of all your evil deeds.”

“Do you think a politician is worse than an editor?” said Connors.

“Frankly speaking,” said Doane, “no. The difference in our deception of
the public lies in the method only.”

The men were evidently ill at ease, but all laughed at Doane’s
boldness.

“We poor monied men,” said Wayland, “seem to be altogether out of
consideration.”

“How so?” said Connors.

“Because in this day and generation,” said Wayland, “thanks to Doane,
the newspapers have killed our trade by exposing our tricks.”

Connors looked on in grim satisfaction at the contest between money and
printer’s ink, and quietly said: “I am not so sure that newspapers are
just what they should be.”

“What’s the complaint against us?” said Doane, in mock fear.

“There is as little honesty in journalism as there is in the world of
finance,” said Wayland.

“Nothing truer was ever said,” chipped in Connors. “The ordinary
newspaper of today but reflects the cowardice of wealth. There is
little of the sincerity of conviction which prevailed in the days of
Horace Greeley.”

“They always cram Greeley down our throats,” cried Doane.

“Well,” said Connors, “wasn’t he a pretty bold and fearless man?”

“I’ll admit all that,” retorted Doane, “but I never did worship at the
shrine of any journalistic God.”

“But,” said Wayland, apparently realizing that the argument was growing
somewhat intense, “we have wandered some distance from the original
query.”

“And that was?” said Connors.

“The real object of our presence here,” interposed the editor. “Come,
now, what brought you here, Connors?”

“I must yield,” said Connors, “since the moulder of public opinion
implores the mere politician to tell the truth.”

“Be careful,” said Wayland, “sensations may be at a premium.”

“Bah,” said Doane, in real anger, “I never mix shop with social
intercourse.”

“Now,” said the wily politician, “don’t let us lose our tempers.”

“I did not intend offense,” said Wayland.

“And now,” said Connors, “since my friend has made the _amende de
honorable_, I will state frankly that I came here to take Ouida Angelo
to the Italian opera.”

“And so did I,” said Wayland.

“That also was my purpose,” said Doane.

“Well,” sighed Wayland, “it would be no fun for all of us to go
together.”

“Nor,” said Connors, “can we very well divide the lady into three
separate existences.”

“I suggest,” said Wayland, “that we draw lots.”

“There,” said Doane, “again breaks out his natural spirit of
speculation and chance.”

“No intention to talk shop,” sarcastically retorted Wayland.

This proposition finally proving agreeable, a simple plan of
lot-drawing was indulged in by these favorites of fortune, the result
of which was a victory for Doane.

“Doane always wins,” complained Wayland.

“I wonder if he plays fair,” spoke up Connors.

“Gentlemen,” said Doane, evidently gratified by his success, “don’t
weep. Allow me to console you. She really cares for neither of us.
Now, you are young, vigorous men. I am a free lance. I sleep all day;
work all night. You may have the hope of some day wedding decent,
commonplace wives. Just the creatures to be the safe and proper mothers
of your children. What matters it, if I, who hate everybody, and whom
everybody hates, am swallowed up in the mad vortex of passion? Society
loses nothing, and gains a dainty bit of gossip to chew on for a month.”

Ouida majestically burst upon them at this juncture.

“So,” she cried, “you have been making me the subject of chance. Pray,
what excuse dare you offer for such a profane proceeding?”

“And, Ouida, you should have heard of the consolation he offered, as he
gloated over his victory.”

Without giving the sculptress a chance to ask, Doane quickly said: “I
told them, madame, that you would marry neither of them.”

“Did you insinuate that it was possible that I might marry you?”

“No, but here, publicly, I proclaim the fact, that my newspaper and I
are yours at a moment’s notice.”

“Yes, your perpetual offer at times grows somewhat wearisome,” said
Ouida, “but, seriously speaking, Doane, get a law passed which will
allow marriage for a limited period, renewable at the option of the
parties, and I will try you for a brief period. The thought of being
forever tied to one man appals me.”

“But,” remonstrated Connors, “you forget, dear lady, that sometimes
offspring follows marriage.”

“Bah,” said Ouida, passionately, “they ought to be throttled ere
conceived. There are too many carelessly reared brats in the world
today. It would be a good thing to stop pro-creation for a generation.”

“There is really some sense in that,” thoughtfully reflected Wayland
aloud.

Ouida continued: “The Romans were wise. They killed children not
physically perfect. Pharaoh sacrificed the first born of the Jews.
I see no cruelty whatever in the idea. But I will not continue this
discussion. I am too full of anger.”

“Because I won?” said the editor.

“Partially so,” replied Ouida. “I was not consulted, and I refuse to be
bound by such a silly arrangement. Think you that one sour, dyspeptic,
gossipy editor, would for an entire evening suffice me, especially at
the opera, where one who listens to the music, is entirely out of the
fashion?”

“But--” the editor started in on a protest.

“I shall not listen to you,” cried Ouida, as she imperiously stamped
her shapely foot, “I will settle this matter by inviting you all to
occupy seats in my box. I shall take no vote upon the matter, for well
I know your acceptance is unanimous.”

“But, madame,” protested Wayland, “this is most unkind; you should not
treat us as though we were children.”

“I would you were as innocent,” bantered the lady of the house.

“What do you know about us?” said Connors.

“Do you think I don’t get some compensation for allowing Doane among my
intimates?” said Ouida.

“So he gives you the news, does he, before the dear public gets it?”
said Connors.

“A truce to this nonsense,” said Wayland. “Gentlemen, what shall we
do--accept the polite invitation of her royal highness?”

“Accept,” said Ouida, in breathless indignation, “accept? Is there any
doubt of it? Oh, well, there need not be. I withdraw it--”

“Seriously?” said Doane.

“I’ll give a railroad,” said the stock broker, “to make my peace with
her.”

“Now understand me,” said Ouida, imperiously, “I am not offended at
anything any one has said. This, above all other places, is Liberty
hall. Law, ordinary social rules, have long been banished, but as we
were talking, I was seized with a monstrous, overwhelming inspiration.
I must be alone tonight. I felt as though I might carve the boldest
stroke of ‘A Modern Hercules.’ Go! nor stay upon the order of your
going.”

No protest prevailed, and the trio left; nor did they stop on the
street to offer consolation to each other.



CHAPTER X.

A LOVERS’ QUARREL.


While this most interesting affair was taking place between Ouida and
her three admirers in one part of the house, another scene was being
enacted in the studio, no less absorbing to the participants. Marie
Salmon and Milton Royle, the art student, so objectionable to her
father, were engaged in the most serious conversation of their young
lives.

“So,” said she, “you could not content yourself at Harvard?”

“No. The restraint imposed by the set rules of college was slowly
sapping up and killing my ambition. So I came here to realize my
artistic dreams.”

“Your leaving the university, Milton, has seriously displeased me.”

“In what way, dearest Marie?”

“Don’t attempt to mollify me by endearing terms. Now, you know that you
had been selected on the boat crew, and the girls have whispered all
around that you were afraid to stay.”

“And does my little sweetheart,” said he, with infinite patience,
“believe that silly story?”

“Well,” she confessed, “of course I don’t exactly believe it, but the
talk of the crowd hurts me. Then again, could you not study your art
from a man?”

“Oh,” said Milton, thinking to himself that if jealousy was at the
bottom of his sweetheart’s apparent anger, surely he could scent
trouble ahead.

“Why don’t you answer?” she said.

“I was thinking.”

“You have no right to think. That is--I--well, I am almost beginning to
hate Ouida Angelo.”

“Why, that is really absurd, little one.”

“Milton, I hate all things that seem to lead you from me.”

“Nothing, and no one, can do that,” said Milton.

“You are with her hours and hours; I almost forget how you look, I see
you so seldom these days,” complained the girl.

“Sweetheart, you are unfair. I am but working for that proud future
which you shall share with me.”

“I should like more of present joy and less of future hope.”

“Is not the future,” said Milton, “worth a sacrifice?”

“I am like a miser with his gold. I can spare nothing of that which is
mine.”

Milton seized her hand, raised it to his heart, and swore that his love
was completely and fully hers.

“Do you wish me,” he said, “to abandon my profession? Say but the word,
and I will.”

“Would you do that for me?” almost whispered Marie.

“As surely as I live,” he replied.

“And do you think I would accept such a sacrifice?”

“Then my dear must not agonize me with these constant suspicions. They
are unworthy of you.”

“Then you do not love Ouida?”

“I love the glorious art of which she is the mistress. I appreciate her
because I grasp much from her cunning and deft craftsmanship. But you
(clasping her to his breast) are the one woman whom Nature has sent for
mating. Enough of this now. You do, you must, trust me.”

She let her head sink gently on his breast. The struggle was over, and
the tear-dimmed eyes that looked into his had no doubt in them, for
they were lighted up by a faith eternal.

Arm in arm they went into Milton’s work-room, where for some time he
delighted her with an exhibition of his work, the progress he was
making, and he poured into her willing and sympathetic ear, the story
of his future dreams and aspirations, so that she saw more clearly
than ever, that the only mistress beside herself which Milton had, was
Art.



CHAPTER XI.

A PREACHER’S PASSION.


The departure of the editor, politician and broker left Ouida in a very
reflective mood. Strange to say, her mind wandered to Paul, the model,
as it had often done of late. “I’ll soon call my Herculean model forth.
Paul, the perfect brute! Yet, often when he thinks I am not observing,
there comes into his eyes a look that makes me tremble, though I know
not why. Can it be that I, who have a dozen mighty men, as this world
goes, crawling at my feet, am falling captive to a coarse-grained
beast, that sleeps and feeds from day to day throughout the year,
without a thought or hope beyond the common cattle of the field?”

At this moment a card was handed Ouida, the reading of which filled her
eyes with an almost devilish gleam of satisfaction.

“Show the gentleman up,” was her swift command.

It was but a moment when Horatio Nugent, the great preacher, appeared
before the sculptress!

“By admitting me to your presence, may I hope there is a truce between
us?” he almost humbly said.

“Neither peace nor courtesy moved me to see you,” was her
unsatisfactory answer.

“Then why your apparent graciousness?”

“I desire,” said Ouida, “to declare a never-ending war.”

“Will you not,” appealed the preacher, “even listen to what I have to
say?”

“No. Your course admits of no explanation. Let me tell you now, you can
never creep again within the circle of my friendship.”

“If you could but dig beneath the surface,” he audibly sighed, “and see
why I preached my sermon against the nude in art, ’twould be _you_, not
_I_, seeking pardon.”

“I seek your pardon after that which you have done? Listen,” said the
woman, “you played the part of a friend. You sought _me_ out. To you I
unfolded my dreams, my conceptions. You said they were divine, and yet
when I attended your church, you thundered forth invectives against
my art, and hold me up to public ridicule. You would attempt to win a
public applause as fleeting as the dew upon the morning rose. If I had
loved you, I would hate you for this act.”

“I will explain,” he said, with vehemence and commanding power before
which, even for a moment, this imperious creature quailed. “I am not
like the vain flatterers that follow in your train. I will speak, even
if the hate in you, like a dagger, shall stab me in a vital spot.”

“Speak then,” said she, with resignation. “Courtesy compels me to
listen to one who has honored my humble roof with his august presence.”

“Ah, hear me Ouida. The knowledge, sudden and fierce, has forced itself
upon me, that I love you with all the strength of my nature!”

“And you have selected this novel way of showing it!”

As Ouida said this, she laughed with such chilling scorn, that it made
the preacher shudder with agony.

“That we will not discuss,” said he, as the echo of her scorn died
away. “Your life, your Bohemian instincts, your defiance of social
laws, has maddened me. I would drive you from this unreal existence, so
that in your despair you would turn to me. Then I should uplift you to
my grand sphere.”

The idea of Horatio Nugent’s condescension struck Ouida with wondrous
merriment, and she laughed again, the laughter growing more intense
each moment, until it developed into an indignation almost boundless.

“Your own grand sphere!” she cried. “Drive back the Atlantic surf; lift
valleys over mountain tops; throttle Vesuvius, and then come to me with
a hope of tearing me and my art apart. I would not exchange an eternity
in hell and my work for Paradise with the crude, narrow, dogmatic
officialism of your hypocritically pious life.”

“I have less quarrel with your art than with your life,” continued he.
“These Bacchanalian revels, this freedom with men so maddening to me.
These are the things from which I would save you.”

“Sir,” said she, with supreme dignity, “my life is my own. Society did
nothing for me. I have with these hands carved out my fame. You and
your kind no more understand art, than you do the voice of Nature. I
have sat nude beneath a master’s brush, without an impure thought.
I have painted men as naked as the new-born babe, without a quicker
pulse beat, wrapped in a dream. My art shall live when churches shall
crumble, and preachers’ bones shall mingle with the dust. Divinity
touches the brow of genius, and art becomes the heritage of generations
yet unborn.”

A goddess could not have looked more divine than this woman did, as she
poured forth the inspiration of her swelling, throbbing soul. There
was silence again between them. But he at length recovered speech, and
renewed the attack.

“Ah, Ouida, you are noble and good; why not economize this worth for
grander and purer aspirations?”

“Purer aspirations?” she echoed. “Ah, sir, I am bursting with the
fullness of rage. Who are you, that gives you the almost divine right
to preach against a thing you know not of? You have not looked on life;
you have tasted no agony; you have not walked through the blazing
furnace of passion.”

“God alone knows what my battle has been since the knowledge came to me
that I loved you.”

“Your passion, sir preacher, moves me not.”

“Then, pitilessly, you will send me out into the gloomy world without a
ray of hope?”

“Did you not seek to make the earth for me a place without sun or
light?”

“But I have made my atonement, and come now to crave pardon for my sin.”

“You cannot think thus to move me,” said the woman, firmly.

“Can nothing soften your heart of stone?” he appealed.

“Nothing, sir. I hate you strongly. If these were the days of Lucretia
Borgia, without compunction I would have you killed. The world can do
without you.”

“And yet,” said he, softly, as though consoled by the thought, “I have
given up all for you.”

“I have seen nothing that you have done,” she said, sternly, “and more,
I ask nothing of you, save that you walk your way, and leave me in
peace to go mine.”

“You know, Ouida,” said the man of strength, “that I, too, am
ambitious; that men and women showered upon me their plaudits; that I
had won a strong place in this great city. I have given up my church!”

She started in breathless amazement! “Sacrificed your wondrous future,
and for me?”

And simply he said: “The price of my sin to you.”

Then a deeper silence than ever before fell upon these two, and again
there was no speech between them.

“Now,” at length, he said, “I am ready to be sent forth with your cruel
scorn, following me even to the end of time.”

“I cannot bid you go thus,” she said, moved to pity. “Does the world
know of this?”

“Of the resignation, yes; of the reason, no.”

“Then I abjure you, reveal nothing. Leave me!” she cried.

“And may I come again?” eagerly he pleaded.

“Yes,” she said, the power of resistance gone, “when I have had time to
think.”

He left with a sense of mighty triumph in his soul.



CHAPTER XII.

OUIDA PROPOSES MARRIAGE.


Even the preacher’s passion, the knowledge of his awful sacrifice,
did not rob the artist of her inspiration for work. Proceeding to the
studio, filled with treasures of brush and mallet, she found Paul, the
model, and Milton, the student.

“Any commands for me,” said Milton, with deference and respect.

“Yes,” said Ouida, “you may assist in arranging the pose.”

Milton, for a few moments, attempts to place the model in the attitude,
consistent with the conception of Ouida.

“Ah,” reflected Ouida, aloud, “if I can but tonight imprint on stone
the image that long has haunted me, I’ll wring from men the unwilling
confession that truly in my veins flows the blood of Michael Angelo.”

Her unconscious talk was interrupted by Paul, who almost sullenly said:
“I do not care to work tonight.”

“Hush!” said Ouida, “breathe not. I would not have had you fail me
tonight for a brace of kingdoms.”

She then crosses over to where Paul and Milton stood, saying to the
latter: “Nay, not thus. Let him stand and look as though with mighty
power he bears the weighty earth upon his massive shoulders. There,
that is better. Go. Leave me, Milton; I would be alone with him.”

Then, like a tigress, rapidly she set to work with mallet and chisel,
and while Paul stood motionless, scarcely daring to breathe, the idea
that filled her brain and soul began to take living shape from the
block of stone. At some length, however, she dropped her tools. They
fell upon the floor with a dull thud. She crosses over to the model;
then irresolutely retraced her steps, and threw herself upon a divan
or sofa, as in a dream. There she lies motionless, save for a heaving
breast.

Paul thinks she sleeps, and leaving his station, goes to the couch
whereon she lies, and gazes upon her with strange emotion. She still
seems unconscious of his presence.

“Had I Svengali’s power, I’d mould her to my will.” Paul clenches his
hand together, gazes passionately at the reclining figure, and slowly
moves back to his place. She arose.

“Paul, come near me,” she said, with a voice as seductive as that of a
luring siren, “and sit upon this low stool.”

This request was made by her following a flashing, unaccountable mental
freak, that filled Paul with pleased astonishment!

“I am your willing slave,” he said, as he did her bidding.

“Do you love any woman?” said Ouida.

“I dare not answer,” said the model.

“Dare not answer? Have I not asked you? What do you fear?” said the
sculptress.

“Myself,” said Paul.

“He who cannot master himself is like the beast of the field.”

“That’s what I am. What right have I to feeling, emotion?” said the
model.

“Have you no hope for the years that are to come?”

“If I have, I hide it so that none may see. I had one hope, but it was
like reaching out after a star. Do not question me concerning it. It
shall never be revealed.”

“Paul,” she said, “what think you of these men who crowd about me, like
moths about a candle, their tongues quick with the hollow mockery of
modern insipidity?”

“They are false as Judas. They drink your champagne, and then, when
drunk, tell lies about you. I’d like to cut their throats, if you but
speak.”

“I’ll let you, in a way,” she said, looking into his black eyes with a
boldness that made him breathe with a mixture of fear and delight.

“How?” said he, with almost breathless quickness.

“Paul,” she replied, “come nearer to me. You are a strong-limbed brute.
You are base born. You are poor.”

He shuddered, and was about to acquaint the woman with the story which
Lawyer Salmon had told him, but some power which controls fate and
destiny, restrained him, and he remained silent upon the point.

“If all you say is true,” he uttered, “What then?”

“Ah, Paul, you are so different to the mere puppets that cringe around
and flatter me.”

“If I were like these weaklings, I would not care to live.”

“The very contrast attracts me,” said Ouida, dreamily.

“My God!” said Paul, the truth at length dawning upon him, “can it
be possible that you condescend to give me more than a mere passing
reflection?”

“There is, Paul. Can you not see that I adore you?”

In a moment their bodies were in close embrace, he enfolding her within
his mighty and powerful grasp. After a moment, however, he put her
gently from him, and said: “You but mock me by showing me a view of
Paradise, only to snatch the entrancing picture from my eyes.”

“No,” she said, exalted through the intensity of her artistic emotion,
“I feel a strange, uncontrollable desire to own you, body and soul.”

“I fear, I dream, I dream,” said Paul, but Ouida hurried on:

“You are a giant. You could take any one of these pigmies that flutter
and buzz about me, in your arms, and could crush life completely out.
I hate them all. I would throttle, and at the same time strangle, the
indignation of society. I would bitterly enrage these dogs who fawn on
me.”

“And use me as the instrument? What, then, shall become of me?” said
Paul.

“You? Why, Paul, you shall be the central moving figure,” said Ouida.

“What care I? Use me as you will. ’Tis enough for me to know that you
but reach your hand.”

“Come to my arms then again,” she cried in the ecstacy of this novel
and entrancing emotion. “Let us revel in delight, you pauper! You dog!
You base born thing, to whom vile society would scarcely throw a crumb!”

“Oh, the delight,” said Paul, “of spurning these little creatures. A
month of such sweet vengeance, and you may have my life.”

“I’ll dress these mighty limbs of yours,” she cried. “I’ll flaunt your
very baseness in their eyes. I’ll make them crawl to you for the price
of a smile from me. They shall pay in deepest humiliation for the
privilege of adoring me from afar. We, Paul, you and I, will richly
repay society for its wrongs to us.”

She seemed now exhausted from the intensity of her feelings.

“Go now,” she said, tenderly; and without question Paul went away from
her, exalted, bewildered, astonished, uplifted, amazed, but happy, and
inwardly rejoicing at the wondrous change which had taken place in his
fortunes. Poor fool! From his dizzy height he saw not the chasm yawning
in greediness below.



CHAPTER XIII.

A RICH MAN’S BALL.


A great social leader of the Metropolis had given a ball, to which had
been invited not only the “Four Hundred,” but a large proportion of New
York’s Bohemian Colony as well.

Olivia Winters had been sent by the city editor of the Daily Tattler to
get an account of the affair for her journal. Her reflections as she
sat waiting to see the hostess, or some one in her behalf, were neither
pleasing nor flattering. “All the world’s a fake,” she thought, “and
the men and women merely fakirs. Within a stone’s throw of this place
there is a collection of miserable huts. From what I have seen so far
here, at least $15,000 has been spent on flowers, that will before
tomorrow night have lost their fragrance. How many mouths would that
feed, in this great, cold, heartless city, throbbing with the agonies
of thousands! Ah, well, why should I moralize? I wish to heaven I
could write this thing up as I feel, but to do so would be affronting
fashion, and anything original regarding modern New York society, would
mean my journalistic death.”

Her reflections were interrupted by the entrance of Marie Salmon, who
extended her hand graciously to Miss Winters, and said: “You are the
representative of the Tattler?”

“I am,” said Miss Winters.

“The hostess of the evening presents her compliments to you, and begs
that you will excuse her personal presence. She has delegated me to act
for her in giving you what you desire for your paper.”

“She could not have selected a substitute who would have better pleased
me,” said Olivia, with perfect grace and self-possession.

“You are very good to say so,” said Marie. “Here you will find a
list of the invited guests. In this package is a cut of the host and
hostess, as well as a picture of her diamonds. She informs me that she
has already sent photos of some of the more striking decorations. In
this envelope will be found a complete description of the costumes of
the ladies. The number of carriages you will be able to procure from
the ushers as you go out. She thinks it not advisable to say anything
specific about the enormous amount of money spent on the affair, owing
to newspaper talk about the terrible poverty prevalent in the city. Is
there any other information you desire? If so, I shall be glad to give
it to you.”

“Have you given this matter out to any other paper?”

“No. Our hostess said she would give it exclusively to you, as your
paper had been the fairest in mentioning the affair in advance,”
replied Marie.

“Thanks; that is very good. You know we newspapers always adore a
scoop,” said Olivia, and she smiled in satisfaction.

“Why, what in the name of goodness is a scoop?” queried Marie.

“When we print a good thing that other papers fail to get, we call it a
scoop.”

“Thanks for the information. May I not,” said Marie, “order some
refreshments?”

“No, thank you,” said Winters, with modest dignity, “I only accept
hospitality under certain conditions.”

“Be that as you wish,” said Marie, with equal dignity, “I had no desire
to offend.”

“I am sure of that, my dear young lady; yet even newspaper women have
their scruples.”

“Then I can serve you no further?”

“In no way save to assist me in getting out quickly and unobserved.”

“Then follow me,” said Marie.

Olivia Winters followed her guide, and was soon in the office of the
Tattler, pegging away, while Marie returned to assist the hostess in
entertaining the numerous guests.



CHAPTER XIV.

AN ANGRY FATHER.


There were many brilliant women at the great social function, but the
only feast for the eyes of Milton Royle was Marie Salmon. But she was
very much in demand. The hostess apparently had a mortgage upon the
young girl’s time and attention. At length, however, Milton could
endure it no longer. He marched down upon his victim, captured her,
and forcibly led her to a quiet and secluded spot in the conservatory,
determined to hold her captive until he should have accomplished his
purpose.

“I shall not see you again before my departure for Europe, so, my
darling, I shall have to bid you good-bye here.”

“I could be completely happy, dear Milton, if it were not for dad’s
frightful opposition to you.”

“He forbid me the house,” said Milton, sadly, “but such a course only
makes me more determined than ever.”

“You cannot imagine what a hard time I will have while you are gone. It
was only yesterday dad told me that it would greatly please him if I
would consider young Clafton as a suitor for my hand.”

“What! That brainless ape?” said Milton, indignantly.

“Now don’t get angry, dear; you know very well if he were the last man
on earth, I would not consider him for a moment,” she made haste to
say.

“I tell you what it is, Marie,” said Milton, “I think I will alter my
plans and remain in New York, until we get this thing settled.”

“And I tell you,” said the girl, firmly, “you shall do nothing of the
kind. Such a course on your part would make me think you had no faith
in me.”

“But it looks cowardly,” said he, “for me to go abroad and leave you to
fight this thing out alone.”

“I am not a bit afraid. Besides, I am more than anxious that you should
go to Rome and finish your studies. Nothing must be allowed to hinder
that great and glorious future which must, which shall, be yours.”

“Now you are my brave darling.” He embraced her fondly, just as Mr.
Salmon appeared upon the scene, an angry scowl disfiguring his usually
calm and placid brow.

“I had hoped, sir, that your sense of honor would have prevented you
from encouraging this young girl in a disobedience of her father.”

“Father, dear, I pray you refrain from speech of that kind to Milton. I
love you, sir, with deep affection; but I also love Milton, and I tell
you now, as I have told you before, that if I live, and he still wants
me, I shall marry him.”

“Marry, girl!” said the aroused father. “I tell you that you will never
have my consent to marry him.”

“Then,” said the girl, “I shall marry him without it.”

“I regret, sir,” said Milton, with utmost deference and respect, “that
trouble with my father, almost before I was born, should tinge and
shape your opinion of me. It is most unjust.”

“Frankly speaking,” said the lawyer, “I do not like you. I do not want
an artist in my family.”

“You are her father, sir,” said Milton, with suppressed anger, “and
that shields you from the answer that rises within me.”

Marie interposed at this point, and said: “You are both dear to me, and
I beg you, in the name of the love you have for me, do not quarrel.”

“I obey your wishes, my darling,” said Milton.

“This is no place for discussion of this kind, anyhow,” said Salmon.
“Come, Marie, Mr. Clafton was looking everywhere for you.”

“I do not wish to see him, father. Good-bye, Milton.”

“Good-bye, Marie. May angels guard you everywhere.”

And there the lovers parted. The lawyer was full of anger, but he had
no chance at that time to show it.



CHAPTER XV.

THE LOVERS CLASH.


Among the guests were Horatio Nugent and Paul Strogoff, each madly,
devotedly and passionately, at a distance, watching the Goddess, at
whose shrine they worshiped. The preacher, in a rage of despair; Paul,
in secret consciousness of his advantage over all others, despite
appearances. Each held his secret well before the world, but in the
breast of each was a raging volcano, liable to burst forth at any
minute. Had any one suspected the preacher of the possession of so
strange a secret passion, his story would have been discovered by the
hungry, famished look of his eye, which followed the sculptress and her
every movement. Strange to relate, Paul exhibited more control over
himself.

Fate threw these two strongly-contrasted characters together, the flint
and the steel. Horatio Nugent plunged at Paul boldly and fiercely,
saying: “I would study you.”

“Why?” asked Paul.

“Because you hold a secret power I would give my life to know.”

“And that is?”

“The power of winning her regard.”

“I would not yield it up for a thousand lives, mine included,” said
Paul.

“So you are a victim, too?” said the preacher.

“Nay, not a victim,” proudly said Paul.

“She loves you?” said the preacher, eagerly.

“I did not say so.”

“And yet I think my words are true.”

“Your opinions do not concern me,” said Paul.

“They may,” said Horatio Nugent, throwing discretion to the winds, “for
I love her, too, and if you stand in my way--well--it will do you no
good.”

“You are like the rest of your kind--boastful,” said Paul, conscious of
his own power, “but in me there is no fear.”

“Do not, I pray you, urge me beyond control,” said the preacher, “or
you will be made to feel there is something beyond mere brute force.”

“This masterly tone,” said Paul, “must cease. I have no liking for you,
sir; you hang about the lady’s skirts too much.”

“And what is that to you? Are you her protector?”

Ouida approached, having from a distance observed that a clash had
occurred between these two men.

“There comes the lady,” said Paul; “let her answer.”

“I am heartily ashamed of you both,” said Ouida. “You have selected a
most inappropriate place, as well as subject, for discussion.”

The preacher looked ashamed of himself, but Paul, now thoroughly
aroused, was almost bursting with defiance; but Ouida had him
absolutely under control, and when she commanded him with decisive
voice to bring her an ice, he went, submissive like a dog.

“And you, sir,” turning to the preacher, “what right have you to give
way to vulgar differences with Paul?”

“I have no excuse to offer, save my adoration of yourself,” said he,
humbly.

“Why vex your soul?” said she filling up with wondrous pity for the
man. “Your torment of yourself is useless. I am further from you today
than ever before.”

“How is this, madam? Is there absolutely no hope for me?”

“None, sir. The barrier between us can never be broken.”

“And what is that barrier?” he said, a mighty despair getting its grasp
upon him, for he noted the deadly earnestness of her speech.

“The obstacle is Paul,” she confessed.

“Your big-limbed model?” He would not believe it.

“Even so,” said the woman, as she bowed her head.

“And how is he in my way? Would you stoop to him?”

“Stoop, sir,” she said, her pride returning, “I have sworn to marry
him.”

He staggered with a nameless fear.

“But you do not love him,” he said. “You cannot blind me.”

“I have no desire to do so. I simply tell the truth.”

Nor could he fail to be deeply impressed with her simple dignity.

“Listen, woman, I care not whose heart I break, you love me! Deny it if
you can!”

“If I did, what would be the difference?” said Ouida. “I have sworn to
wed him. I led him on. He did not dream of me, until I made him drunk
with the promise of my life. He has done no wrong. I must bear the
grief.”

“Then all I have given up is naught to you? You will break my heart and
crush my life without a tear?” said he.

“Rather yours than his. Come, be a man; wound me no further,” she
pleaded, earnestly.

“I cannot break a single link in the awful chain of fate,” and he bowed
his head in silence.

“Do with me as you will.”

“Have you still the power to marry?” she asked.

“Yes, I have given up my church, not the ministry.”

“Then will you do me one last favor?” she appealed.

“Be your fate what it will,” said he, “I am still your slave.”

“Marry Paul and me,” she pleaded, as though upon the answer depended
her life or death.

“Dare you ask this of me?”

“I do, and pray you ask me not why.”

“I have not the courage nor the strength,” said he, suddenly, filled up
with a great weakness.

“Have I naught to suffer?” she said, in great grief. “Will you compel
me to go through it all alone?”

“I’ll do it,” said he. “I cannot enter deeper into the vale of
suffering than I am now. You have stolen from me the power of
resistance. Now, I pray you, let me go.”

As the preacher passed from her, Paul returned, looking dark and gloomy.

“There is your ice, Ouida,” said Paul, striving to control himself.
“Would that my heart were like it, so that you might devour it. I do
not like that man.”

“Why, Paul?”

“He comes too often to you. Nay, do not deny it. He loves you, but you
do not love him,” he fiercely said.

“I--I--” hesitated Ouida, for a moment losing her self-possession,
under the influence of Paul’s questioning.

“But you do not love him,” he repeated again, as he seized her arm,
almost roughly. “If I thought you did--well, you know the blood of the
Cossack is in me, and--”

“You will kill him?” she passionately uttered, and she clung to Paul as
though holding him from the accomplishment of such a purpose.

“Now, by my life,” he said, looking searchingly at her, “this sudden
interest almost makes me think you do care for him.”

Again her complete mastery over his simple nature exhibited itself.

“Paul,” she said, in that alluring tone which always brought him to his
knees, “you are beside yourself. You have naught to fear of me with
him. He has just promised me to marry us tomorrow night.”

“So you have fixed the time at last,” said Paul, exultingly. “This is
noble, oh, so good of you. This joyous news compensates me for a world
of agony and doubt. Would to God tomorrow night were here,” said he,
completely satisfied. “Come, let us to the ball room. I heard your
editorial friend, Doane, swearing a moment ago that you had promised
to waltz with him, but that you had secreted yourself to escape his
clutches.”

“True, I had almost overlooked that. I wish I could educate Doane once
in a while to say a kindly thing, but I fear the task is a hopeless
one.”

She was much relieved that the trying scene had ended, and with no
disastrous results.



CHAPTER XVI.

PAUL COMPLETES A STORY.


Despite the difference in their dispositions, something usually brought
Doane, Wayland and Connors together. So about midnight, at the grand
ball, this trio found themselves together in one of the apartments of
the great mansion.

Connors, the politician, started to talk. “If Sarah Bernhardt were
here,” he said, “she’d take a bath in the wine we have wasted tonight.”

“The frail Sarah has much faith in this method of preserving health,
as did old Ponce de Leon, in the long-sought-for fountain of immortal
youth.”

“By the way,” said Doane, “did you hear the story they tell on the
actress, while on her late Western tour?”

“No,” they exclaimed, “let us have it.”

“Well,” said Doane, in great relish, for he did love to tell a story,
“when she played at Seattle, she expressed a desire to have a vivid,
real live hunt. An old trapper near by had some tame bears, and the
newspaper boys put up a job on the fair French woman. She dressed
herself up in a male attire, went out into the woods, a perfect nimrod.
She was hauled over logs and creeks, and finally, in a moment of
ecstacy, she was permitted to kill a bear. She was the happiest woman,
for a day, upon whom the sun ever shone.”

They had a hearty laugh.

“I saw in your paper the other day, that some fool out West had
attempted to dramatize Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables.’”

“If you saw it in my paper,” said Doane, “be careful. I missed a train
a few days ago by depending on the accuracy of my own journal.”

“But what do you think of the idea?” queried Connors.

“In these days,” said Wayland, “when managers are crazy for a new idea,
it seems to me that a clever stage story of Jean Valjean would make a
certain hit.”

“You might as well try to dramatize the clouds, the great rugged
mountain peaks,” said Doane, scornfully, “as anything Victor Hugo
wrote. No man under forty can grasp the real philosophy of Hugo. How,
then, can the unintelligent masses hope to comprehend him? Connors,
you are a great politician, but you are not overburdened with dramatic
knowledge.”

“I wrote a play once,” said Connors.

“Was it produced?” asked Wayland.

“Yes, for three consecutive nights.”

“And what became of it then?” laughed Doane.

“The fourth night,” said Connors, sorrowfully, “the leading man did not
appear. He afterward explained that he could not stand the forcible
appreciation of the admiring gallery.”

The trio talked, smoked and sipped champagne for quite a while.
Suddenly it occurred to the editor that it was about time for him to
fill an engagement in the ball room.

“By the way, I promised, after considerable persuasion, to dance with
Ouida,” said Doane, “and even my gout shall not deprive her of that
pleasure.”

“The conceited wretch,” said Connors. “He talks as though he conferred
a favor.”

“I do,” said Doane, as he went off in search of his partner, “there are
but few women in this world I would really dance with.”

He returned in a moment, mad as a March hare. He had been too late, and
fifty had pleaded for his place upon her programme of dances.

“A most remarkable woman,” said Connors.

“Peculiar, isn’t it, how a person like her could so have mastered
the world?” observed Wayland. “I have heard that but a comparatively
few years ago she was the most common and obtainable creature on the
streets of New York.”

“I care not what may have been her past,” said Connors, with
comparative warmth, “today she is verily a mistress of her art.”

“She is now putting the finishing touches,” said Doane, “on ‘A Modern
Hercules,’ a work which, in my judgment, compares favorably with that
of the ancient Italian artists.”

“By the way,” said Wayland, “did you hear of her scrape with Cardinal
Beppo, at Rome?”

“Yes,” said Doane, “but tell it for the benefit of Connors.”

“You see,” said Wayland, “Ouida spent some time in study at Rome. For
a few months she worked hard, and behaved herself quite well, but
one sunny day she captivated the Cardinal, and so complete was his
adoration, that he lost all discretion, and Rome rung with the open
story of his mad infatuation. Finally the officers of the Vatican
made known to her, that the sacred city could exist without her. She
suddenly left her dear prelate, who, since that time, has been beyond
consolation.”

“A capital bit of romance,” said Connors, somewhat skeptical, “but who
vouches for its truth?”

“I had it almost direct,” said Doane, “from the Secretary of the
American Legation, who was home last year from Rome on a visit to his
people. But that story is tame, compared to what she did to Demas of
the Comedie Francaise.”

“Let’s hear it,” said Wayland, eagerly, “you never mar a poor tale in
the telling of it.”

Wayland was about to go, having heard all that he desired, but Doane
restrained him, and he reluctantly was almost forced to listen to a
style of gossip which, in his opinion, was good enough for the sewing
circle, but little fitted for intelligent men.

“Ouida,” said Doane, “was more than intimate with Demas, known to you
all by reputation. But she fooled him, as she has every man who has
thus far been lured into the magic circle of her regard. One night
Demas was playing Falstaff in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor.’ He was
of ordinary size, but made himself up as the ‘huge hell of flesh,’
by a rubber apparatus, which was nightly filled with air. This night
the cork came out which held the air in the rubber affair, and almost
in the twinkling of an eye, he dwindled to his normal size, while
his clothing hung about him like the folds of a collapsed balloon.
The audience broke into a roar. The curtain was rung down, and it
was fully fifteen minutes before order was sufficiently restored to
allow the performance to proceed. Next day Demas was found dead in
his apartments, a bullet wound in the temple. The press said it was
chagrin. The real truth was that Ouida had led him on and on, until he
thought she loved him. That night the fatal knowledge came to him that
she was a heartless jilt, and he simply took the pistol route, with
which to end his misery.”

“Gentlemen,” said Connors, “you astonish me. I have heard of
such creatures as you paint this woman, but never before had the
distinguished honor of a personal acquaintance. I do believe that a
grain or two of discount on such stuff would be wise and just to her.”

“And yet,” said Wayland, “what a following she has, despite all this.
Go into the ball room, and see New York at her feet.”

“New York is the greatest city in the world,” said Doane, “yet it is
the most easily duped.”

“People, in their wild desire to be entertained,” said Connors, “pick
and choose queer idols for worship.”

At this juncture, unobserved, Ouida, accompanied by Paul, enter at the
rear, but are partially concealed by large and rich portieres. Ouida
had been searching for Doane, in order to soothe his wounded feelings,
although not at fault herself. She heard herself as the subject of
Doane’s conversation, but hardly thought it would take the shape it
did. She intended, in the midst of it, to burst in and turn it into
something amusing at Doane’s expense.

“The most astonishing part of it all,” said Doane, “is her well-known
life here in New York. At twelve, Ouida, who was the natural daughter
of a woman of the town and Albert Angelo, was a child of the street.
How she lived, she hardly knew herself. Lovers she had by the score.
She became a model. She would just as willingly sit nude, as attired in
silks and satins. One day Warde discovered that she possessed talent,
nay, genius, of a high order. She was inspired to uplift herself out of
base conditions. She was sent abroad, where, between her scrapes and
love affairs, she studied. The power of art dowered her with wondrous
victories. One or two conceptions a year brought her a fortune. She
became rich enough to gratify every whim. She came here three years
ago, having lost none of her Bohemian characteristics. Society has
opened its arms; as you see, it worships her.”

Paul breaks away from Ouida, and confronts Doane, anger and contempt
leaping from his eyes.

“A wonderful story! Is it fully told?” said Paul. “Do these gentlemen
know all?”

“All!” said Doane, “all, man? Why, could more possibly be crowded into
the life of one woman?”

“Yes, slanderous cur,” thundered Paul, as he slapped Doane’s face with
his glove. “Give them the finish. She marries me tomorrow night.”



CHAPTER XVII.

AN UNCANNY WEDDING.


The night of this strange and almost unnatural marriage had arrived.
Ouida had very sensibly invited but few guests. Some of them were
assembled in her mansion. Thence, it had been arranged, they should be
driven to the quiet and unostentatious church, where Horatio Nugent
would pronounce the simple words that would mate forever Ouida Angelo
to Paul Strogoff.

“I don’t like this marriage,” said Mr. Salmon, the lawyer. “Paul is a
fool, to marry Ouida Angelo. She is a great artist, but no creature for
wife to any man.”

“They love each other,” said Marie, indignantly. “I don’t see why they
should not marry.”

“Of course,” replied the father, “a young girl always looks into the
romance of the case. My experience in marriage settlements, and in the
divorce courts, teaches me that a marriage of this kind never turns out
well. By the way, how are you and young Clafton getting along?”

“Splendidly,” said Marie.

“That’s good. Now you are my own sweet child.”

“I am helping him court my cousin, Georgie. He likes her better than
you ever thought he cared for me. You see, father, I have never ceased
to truly love Milton. Pray, forgive me, but I thought the best way to
rid myself of Mr. Clafton’s attentions, was to have him fall in love
with Cousin Georgie. He has entered into the trap beautifully, and I
am spared much annoyance. Dear old dad, you are not mad?”

“I ought to be,” said Mr. Salmon, “but I cannot help admiring your
professional method in outwitting the old gentleman. Your scheme
was clever, even if I am the victim. But think not that I will ever
withdraw my objection to Milton.”

“I don’t expect you to,” said Marie with a deep sigh.

“Then you will give him up?”

“No,” said she, “I won’t ask your consent. We’ll slip off quietly some
day when he returns, and your newspaper friend, Doane, will, in his
journal, record an elopement.”

“Never worry,” said Salmon, much annoyed, “your Milton will never come
back. He’ll get tangled up in Rome with some Italian beauty, and she
will keep him abroad. These stone cutters always act that way.”

“Father,” said the girl, almost in tears, “you are most unkind and most
unjust,” and she left the room, looking for consolation.

Paul entered about this time, for the purpose of having an interview
with Mr. Salmon, who was his lawyer.

“These are the papers which the lady requested me to present to you.
She settles her entire fortune upon you, giving you full power to make
such disposition of the same as you see fit. In fact, she is most
liberal,” said Mr. Salmon.

“Are these the papers?” said Paul, as he took them from the hand of the
lawyer.

“Yes, they are all pinned together.”

Paul sat down and glanced over them. When he had finished their
perusal, which did not take long, he tore them up and threw the pieces
in the fire, where they were quickly devoured by the flames.

“What have you done?” said the startled lawyer.

“Nothing,” simply said Paul. “I refuse any gift of property from her.
On the contrary, you know exactly how my affairs stand. Convey to her,
by proper deeds and instruments, the full one-half of my fortune. The
cash transfer to her credit at the Chemical Bank.”

“But, sir--” said Salmon.

But he was interrupted by Paul, who said: “No buts, sir. This is my
will. Either carry out, with as little delay as possible, my expressed
desire, or I will be under the painful necessity of securing the
services of another lawyer.”

“I shall do as you desire, and--”

“Remember,” said Paul, as he left the lawyer’s presence, “not a word to
her. I must leave you now, to prepare for the ceremony.”

A few more guests had arrived by this time. Mr. Connors came, and
at about the same time Olivia Winters, the journalist, put in an
appearance in the room, accompanied by Marie.

“A queer wedding,” said Olivia, “and yet it may turn out well.”

“I am glad to see you, Miss Winters. It appears that we alone, of all
New York, have been honored by an invitation to the wedding.”

“And you, my dear Connors, were invited because, when Doane was
exuding, about Ouida, that venom which he cannot cut out of his nature,
you alone spoke up for her and her noble art, and the fame she had
justly achieved.”

“It is entirely immaterial to me,” said Mr. Connors “what she may have
been. I know only this, that, in my judgment, she is today the grandest
artist of the modern world, and as such, is entitled to my homage. As
far as this marriage is concerned, she is her own mistress. She can
marry whomsoever she fancies. There are many men in New York today, who
would sell their souls for her.”

“Are you one of them?” said Olivia.

“I decline to answer so leading a question,” said Mr. Connors, but not
ungraciously.

“I received my summons so hastily,” said Olivia, “that I am entirely
ignorant of particulars. Where will the ceremony take place, and who
will tie the knot?”

“Dr. Nugent,” answered Marie, “and at the church around the corner.”

“I thought,” said Olivia, “that Dr. Nugent had quit the ministry?”

“No,” said Mr. Connors, “but almost the same. He has resigned from the
pulpit of the First Church.”

“I have understood,” said Salmon, “that he promised to wed them at the
request of Ouida.”

Connors, joining in again at this time, said that he had heard, that at
one time Dr. Nugent had fallen a victim to the fascinating charms of
the sculptress.

“Some of the blackmailing sheets so reported,” chipped in Olivia, “but
no reputable journal fathered such a libel. One thing is true, this
wedding will eclipse all sensations of the year.”

“I wonder how Doane will take it?” said Connors.

“Badly, I think,” said Olivia. “He was hit hard in that direction.
Ouida’s is the only picture I have ever seen grace his sanctum.”

“Nonsense,” said Salmon, the practical, “what would Doane do with a
wife? He has been wedded to journalism so long that he’d forget his
matrimonial bonds.”

“Men who are not journalists think such a course in fashion these
days,” said Olivia.

“Doane said to me the other day,” remarked Mr. Connors, “that New
York was getting very dull and commonplace; that men were beginning,
actually, to fall in love with their own wives.”

“Don’t men always love and respect their wives?” asked Marie.

“Your arcadian simplicity is really refreshing,” laughed Olivia.

“Pray, wise one,” said Mr. Salmon, “don’t endow her with your superior
wisdom. I prefer my daughter as she is.”

“That’s the one great mistake made in our land today, in the rearing of
children. They are allowed to grow up in utter ignorance of the things
which, if they knew, would save them untold misery.”

“Right you are, Miss Winters,” said Mr. Connors. “If I should ever be
fortunate enough to marry, and be blessed with a boy, I should show him
around and acquaint him with life myself.”

“Say and think what you will, ladies and gentlemen,” said Marie, with
firmness, “I shall never marry a man unless I love him and he loves me,
and it will be my fault if I do not retain his devotion.”

“Hold fast to that sentiment, my child,” said Connors, solemnly, “and
may faith in it never forsake you.”

“Our carriage is below,” said Salmon, “let us hasten to the church,”
and the company departed from the house.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE WEDDING IN THE CHURCH.


There are but few people who are not familiar with the little church
around the corner. It is not only quaint in appearance, but its history
is unique in the extreme. Those who paid but little attention to God
and religion in life, were always well treated here, in death, and
prince and pauper were alike welcome to its use.

The bridal party arrived, and there was little of that absurd delay
which usually characterizes the fashionable wedding. Soon after, the
organist played one of the stock wedding marches, and as the bridal
party appeared before the altar, the preacher, paler than any one had
ever before seen him, ascended the pulpit.

He looked down upon Ouida and Paul, and as he did, a mournful glance
of recognition and understanding flashed between the preacher and
the bride. Apparently, no one observed them. The organist ceased
his touching of the keys, and the sound of the music died away in
the distance. Dr. Nugent made an effort to begin the ceremony, but
something hindered him, and he had the sympathy of all, because they
thought him ill. They little knew his agony. At length, by a supreme
effort, he mastered himself.

“Will the bride and groom join hands?” he said, and the silence seemed
full of pain.

“Will you, Ouida Angelo, take as husband, Paul Strogoff, and, forsaking
all others, cleave unto him, and honor and obey him, as long as you
shall live, and until death shall part you?”

And the woman said, softly: “I will.”

“Will you, Paul Strogoff, take as your lawful wife, this woman, Ouida
Angelo, and love her, comfort, support and protect, and, forsaking all
others, cleave unto her as long as you shall live, and until death
shall part you?”

And the man said, boldly and proudly: “I will.”

“If any here present know aught why this marriage should not take
place, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace,” and just as he
spoke these words, the preacher himself, knowing of the empty heart the
woman was bringing to the man, was about to speak, but his objection
was registered only in his own soul. There was no spoken objection.

“Then I pronounce you man and wife.”

As the preacher uttered the words which united his rival to the woman
he loved, he tottered feebly from the pulpit. Mr. Salmon sprang to his
assistance, but was waived away, the minister saying: “I am not well
today.”



CHAPTER XIX.

THE BRIDAL CHAMBER.


When Dr. Nugent left the church, which he did quickly, his breast
was filled with emotions of a conflicting nature. Reason seemed to
have been displaced with a mad, ungovernable rage. Why should this
ignorant, low, base-born son of a Russian exile possess this goddess?
What moral right had this usurper to loll at ease in her chamber,
barring out his betters of all the world? He knew that he possessed all
her mighty love, and yet he saw the fruit of it slipping away forever.
He was seized with a strange, overmastering desire to prevent, at all
hazards and at any cost, the actual consummation of the marriage. He
struggled, wrestled, tried to fight it down, but his feet carried him
toward her house. He reached it before the bridal party had arrived,
and, being familiar there, he ascended into the bridal chamber, and
there secreted himself.

“Like a thief,” he said to himself, “I steal into this now sacred
apartment. Over my being creeps a determination so desperate, that I
shudder at the spectacle of my own deformity. I have suffered more
than mortal agony. There in the church, my much-abused spirit almost
departed from me. Where was the artist to tear aside the flesh and
paint the hearts as they really were? Paul, radiant and happy; Ouida,
serene in the consciousness of self-imposed beauty, while I was
burdened with the deepest sorrow of them all.”

He waited, and soon Ouida entered, and threw off her veil and wraps.

“The deed is done,” she murmured, “and yet I would it were undone. The
marriage vows have been exchanged, and yet Paul is as far from me as I
am from Paradise. Strange paradox am I. I know that Nugent’s love has
in it the sting of guilt, yet, through its scorching rays, I clearly
see myself. Oh, what a madcap freak, to rouse the slumbering passion
of my ‘Modern Hercules,’ and yet the fault is all my own. And I must
pay the penalty; must tread the path of sorrow to the end. This is a
rude awakening of my dream. I once had thought to greet my lord with
gleaming eyes, with passion, strong yet tender. Tonight he comes, and I
am full of fear and trembling.”

She heard a slight noise.

“Is that you, Paul?”

Instead of Paul, Horatio Nugent stepped out from the darkness. His eye
was full of strange, unnatural brilliance, but his face was drawn,
pinched and haggard. At his appearance, Ouida’s heart almost ceased
to beat; she was so full of horror and despair. She expected Paul at
almost any moment. She knew his nature when once aroused, and she was
ashamed within herself to confess that she feared a collision between
the two men, more for the sake of the preacher than for her now
lawfully wedded husband.

When Ouida asked if it was Paul, the preacher said: “No, it is I, whose
death you seal tonight.”

“My God! what brings you here?” said Ouida.

“You will not let me live,” said he, “so I have come to end existence
at your feet.”

“And I,” commanded the woman, with wondrous dignity, “pronounce against
such base-born cowardice. You build your grief up mountain high, and
then make oath you stand alone.”

“I will not argue this thing with you. I am determined on my course.”

“Unhappy man,” she said, with mighty pity, “do you think you bear all
the agony of this dream? I, too, am full of sorrow as deep and black as
night.”

“Then all the more reason,” said he, desperately, “that we should end
it all together.”

“Agreed,” said Ouida, and as she spoke, she handed him a jeweled
dagger. “Waste no time,” she urged. “Plunge this deep into my heart,
then draw it forth and join me in eternity.”

He quickly seized the proffered weapon, raised it high in the air, and
was about to sink it into her bared breast, when they heard Paul’s
footsteps approaching. The dagger dropped from his nerveless hand. He
covered his face with his hand, exclaiming: “Shame upon me, that I, in
unmanly weakness, should have entertained so hideous a resolve!”

“Quick,” said Ouida, “to the inner chamber, and there remain until I
can let you out unseen.”

He got out not a moment too soon, for upon the very instant of his
disappearance, Paul entered the chamber of the bride.

“Come, Ouida,” he said, “let me fold you to my breast, for tonight you
have enthroned me in the kingdom of love.”

“I have fulfilled my oath, that is all,” said Ouida, wearily, and not
responsive to his enthusiasm and passion.

He threw upon her a questioning glance.

“How changed you are,” said he. “It seems but an hour agone to me,
when you, with the very ecstasy of passion, awoke the slumbering fires
within me. Tonight, when you should greet me with a smile of joy, you
seem a block of ice, whose coldness chills me with the grip of death.”

“Do not upbraid me,” she pleaded. “I shall strive, with all my might,
to be faithful, grateful for your fidelity and love.”

“Oh, I see it all now,” cried Paul, delight and hope again springing up
in his simple soul. “You think I am low and base-born, a pauper, and
you despise yourself for having lifted me to the high plane you occupy.”

She was about to speak, but he gave her no chance to break the current
of words which flowed from his lips.

“Oh, do not speak; hear me out. The very day you made of me a God,
because you said you loved me, it was made known to me that I was
of gentle birth, rich beyond all imagination. I am not the dog, the
pauper, the base-born wretch, but am equal in birth, in wealth and
power, to any man who might aspire to honorable marriage with you.”

He paused, breathlessly, expecting Ouida to melt in delightful surprise
at their good fortune. But no such thing happened. In his intensity, he
did not observe her gathering anger. When he finished his story, she
said:

“So, sir, you knew all this the very day I spoke to you?”

“Yes, but would not then have told it to you to save a tottering
throne.”

“Then thus boldly and shamelessly,” she thundered forth, “you confess
deception?”

“What man alive would not have remained silent,” said Paul, “when
speaking meant so deep a loss? Will you not forgive me?”

Even then he thought she would relent, and he approached her. She
waived him off, contemptuously.

“Away! Approach me not. You madden me,” she said, with frightful
vehemence, “I thought that you were baser clay than the dull-witted
fools that gathered round. I sighed for the pleasure of attiring those
mighty limbs of yours, of decking you with jewels, rich and rare. I
deemed you poor, that I might lavish gifts upon you. I thought you
nameless, that I might envelop you with the mantle of my own fame and
genius. You knew the motive, and yet, by the false pretense of silence,
you tricked from my freakish lips that hasty declaration. Be gone! Let
me not look upon your face again!”

The pallor of death overspread his face, and he exclaimed, almost
piteously: “I do confess my sin; yet, does it merit the punishment of
exile? A life that’s worse than death?”

“Go,” she said, in tones that left no room for hope, “I’ll not unsay a
single word. Since you are other than I thought you, this marriage bed
shall know you not. This is no place for such a husband.”

She pointed to the door, and slowly Paul turned, and gradually his
feet bore him away from her presence. When the sound of the departing
tread of Paul had passed away, Ouida, with a glance at the inner room,
wherein waited her lover, she sank with a sigh upon the floor. Her
brain reeled, and consciousness for a period completely abandoned her
being.



CHAPTER XX.

THE METROPOLIS FROWNS.


After the nuptial night, Paul disappeared from the knowledge of men.
Ouida and Horatio Nugent took up their lives together. New York society
indulged in a spasm of virtuous indignation; became monstrously
shocked; entered a vigorous protest; and pronounced upon the guilty
pair the judgment of condemnation. This mattered not to the lovers.
They could see, feel, comprehend, appreciate nothing but themselves,
their love and devotion to each other. The outside world was naught to
them. They builded their own universe, peopled with the inhabitants of
their own imagination, and well satisfied and pleased, existed in it.
But New York’s frown, in time, practically meant much to them. It meant
the withdrawal of art commissions to Ouida, and the absolute banishment
of Mr. Nugent from the practice of his profession. As time relentlessly
rolled on, their affairs grew complicated. She was compelled to
sacrifice her art treasures, her valued property, her jewels, and
still they awoke not from their fevered dream. The day came at last
when poverty and want crept in and found them in rude, uncomfortable
lodgings in a back street. By a strange fatality, of all her glorious
possessions, Ouida had alone retained “A Modern Hercules,” that piece
of statuary done from the form of her discarded husband.



CHAPTER XXI.

DOANE’S EXQUISITE VENGEANCE.


One day shortly after Ouida and Nugent had taken up their residence in
the slums, Mr. Connors, who had now become a power in directing the
political destinies of the country, met Mr. Doane, the editor, in the
vicinity of Ouida’s home.

“This is a queer place,” said Doane. “It rather surprises me to see you
here.”

“Not more so than I am to see you in such a locality,” said Mr. Connors.

“Oh, we newspaper men go everywhere.”

“And we politicians, too; but honestly, what are you doing here?”

“Well,” said Doane, rubbing his hands in grim satisfaction, “I don’t
mind telling you; a little private vengeance.”

“Upon whom?” queried Connors.

“Ouida Angelo. You were present when I received that insulting blow on
her account?”

“Yes, and by heavens, you brought it on yourself.”

“Never mind that,” said the editor. “I feel the sting yet, and while I
cannot pay her back in kind, I can twist and probe her pride, and I’ll
do it, too. She lives in that miserable hovel over there,” pointing to
the place. “I am going to visit her.”

“You astound me,” said Connors. He himself was bent upon the same
mission, yet was not inspired by so ignoble a purpose.

Doane continued: “She has become an object almost of public pity. When
the haughty creature abandoned her husband, almost at the altar, and
began a life of shame with her lover, even rotten New York society
rebelled and frowned her down.”

“Yes, it is but too true. The world, when once aroused, is cold in its
judgment. But I did not know that she had been so frightfully reduced.”

“She has lost her fame, and everything,” said Doane.

“All,” asked Connors, “her jewels, carriages, works of art?”

“Yes, all except the ‘Modern Hercules.’ So far, nothing has induced
her to part with that. I have kept track of her affairs, awaiting my
opportunity.”

“Doane,” appealed Connors, seriously, “I think there is true nobility
yet in the character of that woman. Forego your vengeance.”

“Not I,” said the vindictive writer. “I am going to tempt her to sell
the thing to me.”

“This is the very refinement of cruelty,” said Connors, in disgust.
“You should have been a Spanish Inquisitor. You would have stood well
with Torquemado.”

“Wouldn’t you like to share the treat with me?” said Doane.

“No,” said Connors, and the men parted, Doane going over in the
direction of the place where Ouida lived.

The once proud and queenly sculptress sat alone, all pale and haggard,
in her humble, ill-furnished abode, a prey to emotions that scorched
her soul.

“Society never pardoned me,” she thought, “my genius and fame, and when
passion enslaved me and my back was turned, the cruel jade stabbed me
in a fatal spot. I thought I could offer defiance to custom’s rigid
rule. I dreamed I was a queen, to whom the world owed obedience. I
awoke, and found I was a woman, strong only in passionate devotion.
Yet, could I turn back the hand of time, I would not change. Eternal
poverty, exposure, shame, disgrace with him, is better than Paradise
without. I have had pointed at me the finger of scorn, and yet upon his
aching breast, I have found a consolation so deep and sweet, that it
gave oblivion to the taunts without.”

Her reverie was disturbed by a knock at the door.

“Come in,” she said.

Doane entered.

“Ah,” said he, placing his glass to his eye, “can it be? Do my eyes
deceive me? Ouida Angelo!”

“Yes,” she said, “and what can you want with me?”

“You surely believe me,” he said, in exquisite irony, “when I tell you
that I did not expect to find you here?”

“Then,” said she coldly, “you will have no objection to making your
stay as brief as possible. You see, I am not in a position to properly
entertain so distinguished a visitor.”

“Oh, don’t let that worry you,” said he, with cool impudence. “I’ll
take a seat; you don’t mind, do you?”

“I have no way of relieving myself of your presence,” said Ouida, “save
by invitation, as this is the only apartment at my disposal. I presume
I shall be compelled to hear what you have to say.”

“I was seeking curios,” said Doane, whose malicious smile revealed
the fact that he was lying, “and a neighbor of yours informed me that
a lady, once proud and rich, had a very fine piece of statuary for
sale. I called to see it, not knowing who the owner might be, and was
dumbfounded to find it was you!”

“Mistaken, sir, as you usually are,” said Ouida, “mistaken in all your
facts. There is no lady here; only a woman of sorrow, one acquainted
with much grief. I have nothing to sell, or give away.”

“I see a marble figure there,” said he, pointing to the one work of art
that lent radiance and dignity, even to that humble abode. “Is that
your work?”

“Yes,” was the curt reply.

“What is it?” he said.

“I will not tell you.”

“I know, so you might as well.”

“If you know,” she said, “then there is no necessity for me to give you
any information.”

“Let’s throw deception to the winds,” said he, unmasking himself. “It
is ‘The Modern Hercules.’ I came to buy it of you.”

“It is not for sale.”

“Not for sale!” he said, “when the price I’d pay for it would enable
you to hold up your head in the world again?”

“Sir,” said she, filled to the quick with indignation, “I want neither
your gold, sarcasm, advice nor presence.”

“A little of each would do you good.”

“You are a coward, sir,” the woman flashed out, “to say things to
me here that you would not have dared to utter when wealth, power,
position, all were mine.”

“No, dear lady, not a coward, but one who enjoys telling the truth,
even if it bites and wounds. Will you sell that piece of stone to me?”

“Not for the wealth of Vanderbilt,” she replied. “I’d rather give it to
a pauper whom I respected, than to sell it to you for enough to buy the
golden opinion of all men.”

“Such a resolve shows delicate sensibility, artistic temperament, but
a minimum of common sense. I saw your--” (here even he could go but
little further) “I mean Mr. Nugent, a few days ago, and if you still
possess your romantic attachment for him, his pinched cheeks and sunken
eyes, would induce you to make some little sacrifice for him.”

The interview was becoming beyond endurance to Ouida, when,
fortunately, the subject of the latter part of Doane’s talk--Horatio
Nugent--entered the room. He had heard the editor’s allusion to
sacrifice.

“Who are you,” he cried, “that dare talk to her of sacrifice for me?
The world should weep for her. She has, upon the altar of her affection
for me, sacrificed a glory, which before, no woman had ever achieved
upon the American continent.”

Doane laughed, and Nugent, growing desperate, crossed over toward him,
with threatening attitude.

Ouida clung to him, begging him, for their mutual sake to be calm.

“Oh, don’t restrain him,” said Doane, provokingly, “he’ll cool down bye
and bye.”

“Oh, I know you now,” said Nugent, “You are from the upper world, a
fair representative of the classes who set themselves up in judgment
over common men.”

“No,” said Doane, assuming an injured air, “only an editor, whose
kindly intent has been met here by rude insult.”

“Take your intent and presence away,” said Nugent, “and at once. We
want neither. You and your kind stand well in the eyes of the world,
but we refuse to bend beneath your judgment.”

“Yet,” said the editor, “you set up a tribunal of your own.”

“Yes,” said Ouida, “the tribunal of conscience, where we have had our
trial, pronounced sentence, and for years have been paying to justice
the penalty we owed.”

“You refuse my aid?” said Doane.

“It was not sought; we will not accept it,” said Nugent. “We prefer
starvation to your pity.”

“Then,” said Doane, “let it not be pity, but a pure matter of business.”

“We desire none with you,” said Ouida. “This lodging is poor, but it is
our own. Go, vent your spleen where it may be felt. We are beyond it.
We have passed through the vale of agony. No shaft of scorn or ridicule
can wound us more. Leave us, we would breathe the untainted air.”

And as Doane went away from the presence of his intended victims, it
crept through his narrow brain, that he had not accomplished much.

“I could not pierce the armor of their pride and devotion. I am an
ass,” said Doane to himself, and the next day’s editorials were
permeated with great bitterness.



CHAPTER XXII.

OUIDA’S WELCOME VISITORS.


Mr. Connors, while awaiting Doane’s departure from the house of Ouida,
happened, accidentally, to brush into Olivia Winters.

“My friend, the politician,” she said, shaking hands. “I am glad to see
you.”

“I echo the sentiment,” he said. “Where have you been? I missed you
lately from your usual haunts.”

“The Tattler knows me no more. I have a magazine of my own.”

“And doing well, I sincerely hope,” remarked Mr. Connors.

“Largely experimental yet,” said Olivia. “I fear I shall have to
educate the public up to the point of appreciating fearlessness. I am
the freest lance today in the whole of New York.”

“I am glad of it,” said the politician. “Society needs a mirror in
whose sharp reflection it may know itself.”

“People at first,” said Olivia, “were pleased, then amazed; now they
are mad. But they read every line, and from the remonstrances I note in
other quarters, I am satisfied that my object is being accomplished.”

“Where are you going?” said he. “May I accompany you, so that we may
finish this delightful chat? You attract me. Now don’t imagine I am
paying you some silly compliment. We both know too much for that. But
there is something exceedingly refreshing in your society, especially
for one who, like me, has run the gauntlet of ambition and emotion.”

“One good turn deserves another,” remarked his companion. “I frankly
admit that your society is agreeable to me. While you are a politician,
you never fail to admit the truth. But I cannot let you go with me. I
am on a mission of mercy.”

“That spoils all of good you previously said,” insisted Connors. “Do
you think that in the whirl of politics, I have lost all heart, and so
am unfitted to be your companion, upon a deed of goodness?”

“No, I do not think so ill of you, but I am going to see one whom we
both knew when the world was at her feet. To see us together might
bring deeper pain to her troubled soul.”

“Your mission,” he said, with deep interest, “is no secret to me. I am
here on the same errand. I just met Doane, who was bent on visiting
her, with the idea of vengeance.”

“Then you may go with me,” she assented, “and perhaps together we may
smooth over the roughness of Doane’s contemptible behavior. But you
must agree in advance to back up all I say. Come, we will go together.”

As they approached the house of Ouida, Connors began to think very
seriously that Olivia would make a charming life companion, and
resolved, then and there, to further cultivate so sweet and strong a
personality.

They entered the lodging together, and were more than cordially greeted
by Ouida and Horatio.

“Welcome to you both,” said Ouida, “and you especially, Olivia, for
you are one of the only two women in New York whose hand I clasp in
friendship.”

“This is indeed good of both of you,” said Horatio.

“And I offer you both my complete attachment,” said Mr. Connors.

“In affluence,” said Ouida, “we would not have prided ourselves in the
devotion of kings. Today, when stripped of all, save humiliation, your
proffer is a consolation preciously dear.”

“Would to heaven, my dear Ouida,” fervently said Olivia, “that I could
impregnate you with some of the bubbling pleasures of my life.”

“Too late,” said Nugent, “we ourselves have spun a web of fate, that
fast imprisons us. We cannot break the chain.”

“You must not say that,” said Connors. “There is no mistake beyond
retrieving.”

“Pardon me,” said Ouida, with a slight impatience, “I have no faith in
such a sentiment. You, who have won the fight, forget the weary rounds
of ambition’s ladder.”

“Yes,” said Nugent, in echo of Ouida’s thought, “we do not bare our
souls to the insane multitude, but to you, dear friends, we say, that
we feel that further effort to rise from out the pit, is vain.”

“May I change the subject?” said Olivia.

“You certainly have my permission,” said Ouida.

“I met young Wald, the sculptor, a few days ago, and he inquired as to
your whereabouts. I evaded him, but he strongly hinted that discovery
of you by him would be to your advantage.”

“The dishonest wretch!” exclaimed Ouida, angrily, “what do you think he
would have had me do?”

“I don’t know, but I have had a very poor opinion of him ever since I
knew that his father paid Doane $5,000 for a flattering critique of his
‘Goddess of Progress,’ a thing of no real merit. But what did he want
of you?”

“To create, model, carve, and in his name.”

“I had no idea,” said Connors, “that there was such corruption in art
circles. It is needless for us to ask your answer.”

“We have sunk,” said Nugent, “to what you behold, but Ouida and I will
cut our throats, ere she shall thus prostitute her divine genius.”

“May we not help you in some way?” said Olivia.

“Not with ostentation,” quickly spoke up Connors. “Not even for
yourselves, if you will have it so, but for the world, that should not
be deprived of Ouida’s masterly creations.”

At this, Ouida wept, nor was she ashamed of her tears.

“I have not heretofore, through all my misery, shed a single tear,”
said Ouida, “till this delicate offer of your sweet sympathy, and yet I
cannot allow you to interfere with fate.”

“I have withstood the bitter hate of men,” said Nugent, “nor trembled
once, but your kindness makes me weak, like a child. Do not be
offended, but I must leave you. You will excuse me?”

“Yes,” said Connors, “if you so desire.”

“Kind friends,” said Ouida, “take your leave now. Your visit has left a
ray of sunshine, which Horatio and I will bask in long after you wend
your way from this place, out into the busy world. Leave us alone, to
work out our own salvation.”

“Will you, dearest Ouida,” pleaded Olivia, “thus drive forth two
earnest, loving friends, who desire no higher privilege than to stand
by your side?”

“Yes, my dear Ouida,” said Connors, “I am not without some power. The
strongest effort of my life is yours, absolutely, to command.”

“No, friends, go your way. With ourselves alone we must conduct this
mighty strife. If we should fail, all I ask is that, when we have
shuffled off this mortal coil, paint us as we really were, not as
biting tongues, tinged with malice, have told the story of our sin.”

“Come, Mr. Connors,” said Olivia, “it would be sinful, upon the rough
rack of this world, to longer vex the proud spirit of our friends.”

“Good-bye, dear friends,” said Connors, almost with affection, “and as
we say au revoir, let me breathe the earnest prayer, that the Supreme
Intelligence will lift you out of the valley of the shadow of grief, so
that from the hill tops, you may behold the dawn of a new and nobler
life.”

They left Ouida together, admiring, yet regretting, that marble pride
which prevented Ouida from accepting their proffered sympathy and aid.
But a contemplation of the history of Ouida and Horatio, drew them
closer together, though no word of love was spoken between the two.
Their mutual interest in the fate of their friends provided a bond of
sympathy between the two, that bid fair to develop into a deeper and
holier connection.



CHAPTER XXIII.

LAWYER SALMON MEETS DEFEAT.


The day on which Doane and the two sweet friends visited Ouida was
a fateful one. On that same day Lawyer Salmon had a most eventful
conversation with his daughter Marie. They also met near Ouida’s place.

“My dear child,” said he, “it is foolish for you to pine your young
life away in grief over Milton.”

“Father,” said she, “it is easy for you to speak thus, but I cannot
root out of my soul the love and faith therein enshrined.”

“He has forgotten you.”

“I will not believe it,” said she stoutly.

“How long,” persisted the father, “has it been since you have heard
from him?”

“About six months, but he may be ill. There must be some cause,” said
Marie, fighting every inch of ground.

“Stuff and nonsense,” said he, “why don’t you admit to yourself the
truth. He has abandoned you. I always thought you had more pride than
to throw yourself into the arms of a man who seems so utterly to have
forgotten you.”

“Father,” said Marie, a tremor in her voice, “you wrong Milton. I fear
you do not love me, or you would not so wound me.”

“There, daughter, you are unjust to me. You may deem me hard, cold,
unromantic, but I know these Royles. His father was as treacherous as
an Indian, and I believe in heredity.”

“And I in love,” said Marie.

“And I shall be silent henceforth on the subject. Stern though I seem,
I love you, my darling child, and your happiness is my one aim in life.”

“Then withdraw your opposition to Milton, for I will only be completely
happy when you shall admit him to your heart as a son.”

“Ah, well,” said Salmon with a sigh, thinking of the girl’s dead
mother, “I will think upon it. I must now go in to see Ouida. I will
not be long detained. Remain without until I return.”

“I will yet win him over. God alone knows how I have worried over
Milton’s long and extraordinary silence.”

A moment and right upon the street, she felt warm arms around her, and
a heart breathing next her own.

“Marie,” was all that Milton said.

“Milton!” she exclaimed, “what a surprise to father. Your name has
just left my lips. My father and I have just been indulging in another
portion of our perpetual quarrel over you. Why have you been so long
silent?”

“Silent, dearest,” said he in surprise.

“I have not received a line from you in six months.”

“Then my mail must have been miscarried, for I wrote almost as
frequently as usual.”

“Almost? Why not just as often?” she said, rather piqued.

“For the last few months I have been more than absorbed in my work, for
the annual competition at Rome, and moments were golden.”

“Did you succeed?” she asked in breathless suspense.

“Yes, my darling,” said Milton proudly, “I won the first prize, and
hastened home to lay the laurels at your feet.”

“I am proud of you, and I rejoice in your success. Now father shall
come over to us,” said Marie.

“What’s the news?” asked Milton. “I just disembarked from the Germania,
jumped into a cab at the wharf, drove to your residence, learned that
you had started for this place, followed, and once again behold your
beloved face.”

“Strange things have happened since you went abroad. You have heard
about Ouida?”

“Yes,” said Milton, “and it almost broke my heart. I owe so much to
her.”

“I am no longer jealous of her, and, dear Milton, if you can in any way
help her I will love you more than ever, if possible.”

“I need no inspiration to that end,” said Milton, “my own gratitude
would urge and compel me to serve her.”

“You are always generous, Milton, and I appreciate you all the more for
it.”

“I care not what the world may say,” said Milton, “but humanity needs
her, and she shall no longer be buried beneath the weight of a sin for
which long ago she paid the awful penalty.”

“I share your opinion with all my heart,” said Marie.

Just about this time Mr. Salmon, having accomplished the mission which
had called him to Ouida’s house, returned, and his first glance lighted
upon the happy pair, who were totally oblivious to his presence. He
turned down another street, with a sigh, and left them undisturbed.
_He had met with defeat._ The girl’s faith had triumphed. He felt he
ought to succumb, yet he was proud and stubborn, and even yet there was
opposition in his soul.



CHAPTER XXIV.

SALE OF “THE MODERN HERCULES.”


Almost immediately after Olivia Winters and Mr. Connors had departed
Horatio Nugent returned to Ouida’s presence.

“I have just seen Marie Salmon and Milton Royle,” said he.

“Milton Royle,” she said, “so he has returned from abroad?”

“Yes, and radiant with victory. He has won the first prize at Rome, and
was most anxious to offer his gratitude to you, but I knew you were
weary with the trials of the day, and begged him to come some other
time.”

“I am glad you did so. The sight of his beaming face would have
recalled memories that would have made me doubly sad.”

“Yes, the period of your triumphs before I cast my dark and grim shadow
over the sunshine of your life. Woe is me!”

“And do you think,” said Ouida, with infinite tenderness, “that I
regret you?”

“That is the very thought that sears my soul. I know my wrong to you.
Yet through it all your brave smile remains. Oh! for the power to blot
out the past; to dower you with the past.”

“I would refuse the gift,” said Ouida, “if I could not share my life
with you. You seem fevered tonight, love. Any good results today?”

“No, dearest, only added torment,” said he, sadly. “You remember last
week I left my manuscript with Dixon & Company, the publishers? Their
reader told me to call today. I did, with large hope and expectations.
I was ushered into his office, furnished with artistic taste. ‘Your
work,’ said he, ‘is clever and original, but I have made some inquiries
about you. You are Nugent, the preacher, are you not, who was concerned
in an escapade with Ouida Angelo?’ I could not and would not deny my
connection with you. ‘I like your work,’ said he, ‘but our house cannot
afford to insult society, which it certainly would do, if we fathered
anything from your pen.’ With a careless nod he handed me my bundle of
papers and dismissed me. And as I left, my heart almost bursting with
indignation, I wished you again upon the very throne of art, that you
might tear out my soul, and use it as a model for a creation, ‘The
Agony of Despair.’”

“Come, Horatio, lay your head upon my knee and let me soothe your
aching brow.” He gladly complied with her sweet suggestion. There was a
brief silence, when, looking up into her face, he suddenly said:

“Do you not think, Ouida, that you and I have fairly tried the world?”

“Yes,” said she, firmly, “and surely we have reached the end.”

“Think you self-destruction is ever justified?”

“Have you abandoned hope so completely,” she said, “that you let such
dark visions come into your mind?”

“I am full of despair tonight,” said Nugent, gloomily. “I see naught
before me save the impregnable wall of fate. I can neither break
through its thickness, nor scale its height.”

“True,” said Ouida, dreamily, “our lives have utterly failed, and if we
quietly sought oblivion, the world would wag its tongue for one brief
hour, then would speedily forget that we ever lived.”

Horatio rose to his feet, and said with impressive solemnity:

“I have thought that when two, through their love, pure in itself,
had gained but grief and tears, when they had reached that point when
starvation, both of body and soul, confronted them like a hideous
spectre; when their pride had been stung by pity; when love views love
with more than mortal agony, affording no hope; Oh, Ouida, beloved, I
have thought ’twere best to end it all with one bold stroke, and solve
the mystery of the fate beyond the stars!”

“Your magnetic eloquence,” said the woman, “moves me beyond expression.
We cannot longer live together. Your agony each day kills me a million
times. Mine utterly unnerves you. Whatever course you deem best I’ll
share without a sob or tear.”

“Then, since you are content, let us die together!”

“I assent,” said Ouida, almost with joy.

“No vulgar death of violence,” said her lover. “I could not stab you
with a knife, for the sight of your red, spurting blood, would rob me
of the strength to do the deed upon myself. To blow your brains out
with a pistol would be brutish. But see, here is a poison. This, in a
small quantity of water, will provide enough to send our souls hence
into the other world. Shall I prepare the drink?”

“Yes, and without delay. The morning sun shall shed its earliest rays
upon our soulless dust.”

And Horatio Nugent, upon whose eloquence once hung breathless,
countless thousands, mixed the drink, with firm hand, that would
self-murder two human lives. When ready, said he:

“The fatal distillation is ready for the taking. Farewell, my queen!
Would to God I had never crossed your life and dragged you to the dust!”

He held ready the glass almost to his lips.

“And you, my king, farewell! Let me drink first. I would not look upon
your rigid limbs, environed in the grip of death.”

“Have your wish,” he said, “here is the cup.”

She raised the small vessel to her lips, and was about to quaff its
fatal contents, when Edward Salmon, the lawyer, broke into the room,
and quickly seizing the horror of the situation, struck the cup from
her hand, and it fell with a crash upon the floor.

“Thank God!” exclaimed the lawyer, “in time to save you both.”

“Sir,” said Horatio, “may we not be permitted to die in peace?”

“You know not,” said Ouida, “the grief you have prolonged.”

“You told me yesterday to sell ‘The Modern Hercules,’” said Salmon,
breathlessly. “I have found a purchaser.”

“Then sell it,” said Ouida, “and dig our graves in decency.”

“Sell it rather,” said Salmon, in deepest sympathy, “and with the
proceeds begin life anew.”

“Our lives have run their course. We can no longer hold up beneath the
world’s black frown,” said Horatio.

“That is the talk of the moral coward,” said Salmon, boldly. “Come, I
know your story. Draw out your strength, your manhood. Fate brought me
here in time. You both shall live to look upon this hour with shame.”

“He is right,” said Ouida, arousing herself with mighty effort. “Look
up, my love, we may yet wring from fortune’s grasp a noble fate. Where
is the purchaser?”

“He awaits without. Would see the work, pay the price and go.”

“Let him come,” said Ouida.

Salmon retired for a moment, and when he returned, brought with
him--Paul Strogoff, the sinned against!

He only said: “I come not in anger, nor in vengeance; only in sorrow,
to crave your pardon, that I live.”

“Would that I had died ere this,” said Ouida.

Horatio bowed his head in shame and humiliation.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE BEGINNING OF REDEMPTION.


Paul Strogoff’s sorrow had ennobled him, and, though the opportunity
came to him to humiliate those who had wronged him, no man, born of
woman, could have acted with rarer delicacy, than he did upon the
trying occasion of the purchase of “The Modern Hercules.”

His behavior at that time produced marvelous results. It seemed to
have had the effect of tearing aside the veil which had blinded the
sculptress and her lover, to a realization of the enormity of their
sin. They resolved to be no less noble in sacrifice than Paul had been.
They had resolved to give each other up, and the separation had taken
place.

Nugent at first applied to the organized churches for place, but
they would have none of him. So he began his work independent, and
alone. His field of operation lay among the poor, the forsaken, the
down-trodden of the slums. Many a time he had gone down into the gutter
to uplift the fallen and degraded creatures, who were abandoned by the
big churches to their fate. Gradually he won for himself a distinctive
place in the real affections of the common people. He became a familiar
figure in the humbler quarters, and often money came to aid worthy
causes from an unknown source. It came from Paul, but Horatio Nugent
never knew. He became such a character, that when he passed through
the crime infected portions of the city, every cut-throat, burglar
and petty larcenist took off the hat to him. They all felt that there
was some mighty secret locked up in his breast, and they respected
him and it. And what were the feelings within him? He had marked out
his course, and was rigidly pursuing it, and gradually there crept
over him, a peace, contentment, harmony of thought, that furnished a
complete compensation for the sacrifice which he had made. His moral
redemption was complete, but the struggle had been fierce and intent,
and the temptation to swerve in the earlier days of the battle had
often times been strong and almost beyond control. He had no friends,
save among the poor whom he served, and he led as simple a life as that
of a rustic shepherd.

And what of Ouida? Her life and pursuit were equally as noble. She had
become a woman whose only object in life was to prevent others from
falling into the sad sin which had darkened her life. The sensational
newspapers had laughed at her for a while, but she bravely persisted,
and ridicule was soon transformed into respect and admiration.
Several times in the course of their philanthropic work they met,
but no thought had come to them concerning a renewal of their former
relations, and each, from afar, by magnetic sympathy sustained the
other in this newer and nobler life.



CHAPTER XXVI.

DOANE TOASTS DISEASE.


Doane, Connors, Salmon and Wayland were all members of the Union League
Club, and spent much of their time amid its comfortable, enticing
environments. There is a common opinion prevalent, particularly in New
York, that a society man may as well be dead as not to hold membership
in at least one of the fashionable clubs. You can eat there, receive
the billet doux of your lady friends, and if you want to gamble you
can be accommodated at any limit of the game. If you are convivially
inclined you can there get on a decent drunk, and perfect care will be
taken that you do not fall into the hands of the police. In fact the
club is a great protection to married as well as single men. Many a
husband, who likes a quiet time apart from domestic influences, has had
his shortcomings covered by the club. This sort of thing is not for the
poor man. He takes his drink in the groggery, and woe betide him if he
should stagger on the public highway.

Doane, the editor, and Salmon, the lawyer, both sharp witted, were
seated in one of the private rooms of the Union League. It was shortly
after Salmon, apart from his usual custom in the profession, had been
victorious in a celebrated murder trial.

“I congratulate you on your acquittal of Wilcox,” said Doane.

“A hard case,” remarked Salmon. “He was convicted once, actually sat
in the electric death chair, but I got a new hearing, secured a second
trial, and now the accused is as free as you or I.”

“A clever victory for you, but bad for society. The way murderers are
freed now only encourages desperate deeds. There would be more respect
for law if there were fewer lawyers,” said the editor.

“Perhaps it would be better,” said Salmon, “if we permitted the
newspapers to administer justice.”

“How so?” said Doane, ignoring the covert sarcasm of his friend.

“I will illustrate,” said the lawyer: “About a year ago, in this city,
a man was hacked to pieces. With him lived a Polish immigrant. He knew
but little of the language or customs of the country. A sensational
newspaper put its blood-hound-detective-reporters on the trail. They
convicted Skinoski, only to find a few months later, beyond the shadow
of a doubt, that a slight mistake had been made, and after all they
had electrocuted the wrong man.”

“Yes, a little error of that kind will occur, you know,” said Doane,
unfeelingly, “but then it only removed another of these filthy, foreign
paupers. We have too many of these cattle on hand now. Not that I have
any very great respect for the native toiler.”

“What is your objection to him?” said Salmon.

“I like the laboring man well enough in his way,” said Doane, “but I
wish he would take a bath once in a while. There is too little sweat on
his brow and too much on his hands to suit me.”

“Yet your paper parades the fact,” said Salmon, “that it fights his
battles.”

“I admit that,” said Doane, with a wink, “we need readers and a
circulation to justify us in raising advertising rates. This is
business versus sentiment.”

Just then Mr. Wayland, the stock broker, entered, and, as he took
an easy chair, said, “I’ll wager that Doane has just said something
biting. There is on his face a smile of derision.”

“No, I have been making practical suggestions; that is all. Have been
talking about the Plebeian herd, and must have a quart of champagne
with which to cleanse my tongue.”

A button within easy reach is touched; a waiter appears; takes the
order, and soon returns with the wine.

“It shall be on me,” said Wayland. “I can afford it. I made a fortune
today.”

“How?” said Doane. “Did you bankrupt another railroad?”

“No; like Joseph I cornered wheat, and made a million. Will you help me
spend it?”

“Yes. Buy a newspaper, and employ Salmon there. He’s a most expensive
luxury,” said Doane.

“What reason have you for always jumping on me?” said Salmon. “Did I
not safely escort you through seven libel suits last year?”

“Yes, and how much of our stock do you now hold in the way of fee?”

“Let’s cease this merriment,” said Wayland, in either real or assumed
sadness. “I am in mourning. The City of Hamburg has just arrived, and
brings the news that ‘La Petite Goldie’ died at sea, and was buried
beneath the cruel waves of the unfeeling Atlantic.”

“Another $50,000 you will have to credit to profit and loss,” said
Doane.

“Was that another of Gould’s operative speculations?” asked Salmon.

“Yes, gentlemen, she was, and truly I am awfully cut up over the
matter. I liked the girl very much, and besides, she had great talent.”

“She died of what ailment?” queried the lawyer.

“That’s the puzzling thing,” said the broker. “Some dreadful,
mysterious ailment, the germs of which floated up from the steerage.
The confounded steamer should have been quarantined. The first thing we
know New York will be scourged.”

“A few thousand useless cattle will be killed off,” said Doane. “A good
thing.”

“It might lay its heavy hand on you,” said Salmon.

“No,” replied Doane, “I am too wicked to die. Satan would refuse me
entrance to hell for fear I’d rival him for his kingdom.”

“Anyhow,” said Wayland, “I intend to wear crape for a year.”

“Bah,” said Doane, “the next pretty face will cure you. You’ll get no
sympathy from us.”

“See here, Doane. I bought that bottle of wine as a bribe for sympathy,
and I shall engage Salmon here to prosecute you for obtaining it under
false pretense.”

“This possibility of some mysterious epidemic in New York annoys me,”
said Doane. “I shall take occasion in tomorrow’s paper, to rake the
health officers sharply over the coals,” and for some cause or other, a
sickening shudder passed over his frame.

“Does it trouble you, Doane?” said Wayland, “if so, let’s go abroad.”

“No, personally I do not fear,” said the editor. “I have looked pistols
in the eye; have been a war correspondent, with bullets flying about
like hail; and, have in addition, faced an angry husband or two. A
little disease--bah! There are a hundred doctors who would serve me for
the asking. Give me another drink,” and as he held the glass aloft, he
offered a toast: “Here’s to grim disease,” he said, “may it kill off
ten thousand”--he did not finish; the wine glass fell upon the floor
and was cracked in many particles, while Doane tottered, fainting in
the arms of Salmon.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE CURSE FALLS.


The vague fear which outlined itself in the mind of the club men, had
taken shape, and New York was in the grip of the most dreadful epidemic
that had ever scourged the Metropolis. The curse of Heaven seemed to
have laid its heavy hand upon the people. Hundreds dropped, day by day,
into the very jaws of death. War may have had its terrors, but it could
not be compared to the ravages of this frightful visitation. It came
in the night time, touched its victim, and ere dawn, he sinks into the
tomb. Preachers, nurses, doctors, have fled before its grim approach.
The preachers who fled, did not do so _out of cowardly fear_, but
because God needed them, and they did not feel like disappointing Him
by taking chances on death. The sick take care of the dying, and the
dead rot, become putrid and stink before the undertaker’s cart rolls
around. The city looked a good deal like Paris did during the Reign
of Terror. There were several persons whose lives were interwoven in
this story, who stayed bravely at their respective posts of duty. Ouida
Angelo, immediately upon the outbreak, had joined the Red Cross forces,
and had done work of almost divine mercy and gentleness. Horatio
Nugent, while full of pity for the human suffering which the epidemic
had brought in its train, reveled in delight at the opportunity it
gave him for noble and glorious work. Mr. Connors, stepping down from
his proud place as a statesman, had done herculean work by the side
of Olivia Winters, who had furnished the inspiration. Thus this great
public misfortune had afforded hundreds the opportunity for nobility of
conduct, whose lives before had been selfish and proud.

During the very maddest part of the ravages of the curse, Olivia
Winters met Mr. Connors on one of her tours.

“I am so comforted to meet you here,” she said, and the thought in her
mind was, that she rejoiced to see him still alive. “I have just seen
the last of Doane, the editor. His death was frightful. Dr. Simpson
attended him. Doane, under the influence of the fever, had an idea
that it was within the power of the doctor to save his life. Whining
like a cur, he said: ‘I must have my life, good doctor,’ and then he
shrieked, ‘I cannot die--I must not die--I’ll give you $50,000 cash, if
you will but save my life.’ Then, with a look of agony, he fell back
upon his pillow, exhausted, panting like a thirsty dog. Through the
day he incessantly kept up this cry; sometimes laughing in defiance,
again sobbing. Then, when the doctor left, he muttered to himself:
‘I’ll fool this cunning Æsculapius. Just let me live; I’ll not give
him a cent.’ Each mad, despairing outbreak tended only to exhaust his
small remaining strength. When Dr. Simpson returned, he felt death
near at hand. Doane evidently saw reflected in the doctor’s eye, his
own fatal condition, and with almost superhuman strength, he lifted
himself upright in bed. ‘Will I die, doctor?’ came rattling from his
parched throat. ‘There is no hope,’ said the physician. ‘Then bring me
pen and paper,’ he said. His wish was complied with. ‘I will write,’
he said. ‘It shall be the bitterest screed that ever wounded quaking
souls. I’ll sing a song of iron bitterness; a dying legacy to the sons
of men. O! I cannot hold a pen within my grasp. I cannot see; all grows
dark around me. So this is death.’ There was a sickening gurgle in his
throat as he fell back dead.”

“Horrible! horrible!” said Connors, his heart full of fear and pity for
this woman, so brave and strong.

“Heaven deliver me from such another experience,” said Olivia. “I shall
hear his wild laughter, the death rattle in his throat; shall behold
his gleaming, glaring, glazed eye balls to my dying day.”

“I may be considered uncharitable,” said Connors, “but it is better
that the world is rid of such a venomous spirit.”

“That may be true, but you know, my dear Mr. Connors, that while he lay
in that condition, one could not consider his character, only that he
was a sufferer,” said Olivia. “But did you ever see this great city in
such a plight before?”

“Never,” he replied. “I don’t know what will become of us.”

“One thing has happened, that almost makes me glad of our great
calamity.”

“In the name of Heaven,” he said, “what can that be?”

“For the opportunity it has given Horatio Nugent to regain his good
name.”

“Indeed, you are right, and he has redeemed himself,” he said. “How
glad I am that you and I did not desert him in his hour of need.”

“Just as a few years ago,” said Olivia, “the world rang with the
story of their shame, so now does it smile and bow over their heroic
conduct.”

“Public opinion,” said the statesman, “begins to disgust me more than
ever. It is as fickle as the wind, and it is not what you are that
governs, but that which you appear to be. I shall bow to it no longer.”

“Yet, remember what befel our friends for their defiance of this thing
you now despise,” said Olivia.

“You spoke of Horatio Nugent a moment ago,” he said. “Let me tell you
about Ouida.”

“Go on,” she said, “but quickly, for I have much work before me.”

“From time to time,” said he, “I heard of the deeds of a sweet and
saint-like creature, that quietly flitted to and fro among the
desperate wretches of your sex, who had fallen into the lap of sin.
I heard of shop girls who, tempted by the lust of man, and who were
about to fall, snatched from the very jaws of ruin. I heard of extreme
poverty being relieved in hundreds of cases. I heard of reading rooms
being established for poor working girls. I heard of some mysterious
angel going forth upon these varied missions of mercy and humanity.
When I investigated, to find out who this was, lo! and behold! Ouida
Angelo. And then my heart leaped for joy.”

“Her redemption and absolution is complete,” said Olivia. “She has gone
through the valley of the shadow of death, almost, in the course of
this fight with herself.”

“And now,” said Connors, tenderly, “is there any hope for me?”

Her heart leaped for joy, but she still brushed aside the hope that was
as dear to her as to him. There was no false modesty about her, and her
open countenance revealed the delight that quickened her soul.

“If,” said she, “we live through this ordeal, I’ll come myself,
willingly, and bring the answer, woman though I am.”

“Did you know that Paul Strogoff was stricken down today?” said Connors.

“Is it so?” she said, in utmost sadness. “Death loves a shining mark.”

“Good-bye,” said Connors. “God grant we soon may meet again, under
happier and safer conditions.”

They separated, each filled with mighty anxiety for the other, but each
too truly great and noble to allow personal longing to interfere with
the stern duty of the hour. But it was not many months before their
unselfishness was rewarded with a happiness of pure and gentle nature.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE LAWYER SURRENDERS.


Among those who felt the touch of the awful disease was Edward Salmon,
the lawyer. For days it had its strong clutch upon him, but he battled
bravely, and Marie and Milton were tireless in their tender care and
solicitude. Most of the time he lay in fevered unconsciousness, not
recognizing those by whom he was surrounded. Often death approached
so near at hand that Marie shuddered in dread, and Milton was full
of grief on her account. At length, however, the struggle ended in
victory, and Edward Salmon lived.

When consciousness had become fully restored, and the danger was over,
Marie had Milton go away. She had resolved upon her course of action.

One day when Mr. Salmon, in his smoking jacket, weak and pale, sat
thinking, Marie, cuddled up to him, and stroking his hair. He knew
something was coming, for, like her dear, dead mother before her, that
was the girl’s way.

“Father,” she said, “you have been ill, very ill, but thank God you
have been spared.”

“Yes,” said he, “and through your noble devotion.”

“We did the best we could,” she said, slyly.

“We,” he said, “what we? Did you have help?”

“Yes, in your fever, you did not know, but it was Milton who braved all
danger, and with me, sat up night after night, watching your slightest
movement.”

“And I hated him so,” said Salmon. “He has heaped coals of fire upon my
head, and has nobly shamed me.”

“Father, believe me, the eye of love cannot be deceived,” appealed the
girl. “You have misjudged Milton.”

“Perhaps,” said he, “my darling, I have. I surrender!”

In a moment, for joy, she was sobbing on her father’s breast, and he,
too, could not restrain a silent tear.

“Bring Milton to me,” said Salmon, “he shall not outdo me in
generosity; if he will but love and cherish you as I have done, I’ll
ask no more.”

But a brief period elapsed and a happy trio were in conclave at the
lawyer’s residence.



CHAPTER XXIX.

PAUL FOLLOWS CHRIST.--THE END.


Paul Strogoff had developed a peculiar philosophy since Ouida had sent
him into grief. Though singularly fortunate as far as this world goes,
though young, though of lusty strength, though possessing the ability
to gratify every desire, he loved not life, but death. He had come
to the conclusion that what a man gets in life is not by any means
sufficient compensation for the struggle through which he goes. If he
could have folded his arms quietly and passed out of human existence,
he would not have murmured, but with perfect resignation accepted his
fate. He was neither a physical nor a moral coward. His whole life
had been marked by bravery, therefore he could not commit suicide.
His fortune was being expended in private charities, and many boys,
struggling up from the gutter, wondered at his generosity. They would
not have done so, if they had seen Paul’s early battle with the dog.

When the scourge visited the city, Paul remained, not so much for the
reason that he might reach death as that he saw opportunities for good,
useful, and above all, absorbing work. Like many others he for a time
labored assiduously, and was spared, but at length his turn came, and
he, who had worked with such devotion for others, lay sick and dying,
almost bereft of attention and care.

At length, his servant, an old Russian retainer of the family, managed
to procure the attendance of Dr. Simpson. As soon as he saw Paul, the
doctor shook his head ominously.

“How is my master?” said the Russian.

“In the very extremity of the fever, sir.”

“Is there no hope?” asked the servant.

“None,” said the doctor, unhesitatingly, “he will be dead within the
hour.”

The patient stirred uneasily. Wild dreams were flitting over his sick
vision.

“Is she here?” the sick man muttered.

“Who?” said the doctor.

“The idol of my life,” said Paul in his delirium. “I deeply wronged
her, to put my shadow on her life. She, so far above! A star
unreachable! I may not die until my eyes shall rest upon her form
again. Oh, Ouida, come!”

“The height of pathos,” said the doctor, softened, though he had
witnessed before, misery untold. “Oh, for a nurse to soothe his dying
hours!”

And, as if in answer to the doctor’s prayer, there came a gentle knock
at the door, and Ouida Angelo entered.

“I heard there was a patient here,” said she. “I am a volunteer nurse.
Can I be of service?”

“Yes,” said the doctor, and Ouida approached the couch of the dying
man, and as she looked upon his wasted face, and saw death’s mark
there, her face turned white as marble. She forget the doctor’s
presence, forgot all the world, save that this was the completion of
her punishment, the wages of her sin.

“Paul!” she said.

“I hear her voice,” said the patient, looking up and instantly
recognizing her. Her voice had brought him out of his delirium. “I knew
I would not die until she came.”

“Do not speak of dying,” she said, and her voice was mellow and
soothing. “You shall live.”

“How good of you to speak of hope,” said the dying man, “but it cannot
be; it is useless. I cannot shake off the icy hand of death. Pray,
forgive me that I crossed your life. I loved you well. You did not
know, but now I kiss your hand and die.”

“Forgive you,” she said, “that is mockery. Upon my bended knees, I ask
your forgiveness,” and the woman, her pride all gone, sank upon her
knees by the bedside of the husband she had so deeply wronged.

“If this be your wish,” he gently said, “my dying soul confers the
gift. Is there not near some man of God, to offer up a prayer for me?”

“You need no mediator,” she said, lifting up her head, “your life has
been a constant prayer.”

“Procure a minister, if possible,” said the doctor, addressing the
servant, who disappeared, and, as good fortune would have it, shortly
returned, having accomplished his mission. Fate had directed the
servant to Horatio Nugent!

Ouida was startled beyond expression to see him, but her manner was
calm.

“This dying saint,” said Ouida, “requests a prayer in his behalf to
God.”

The preacher approached the couch of death, but when his eyes beheld
Paul, his soul was wrenched with agony.

“Paul!” he exclaimed, “I am not fit to pray for him.”

“Give me your hand,” said the dying man to Horatio, “and yours, Ouida.”

Across the death bed he joined their hands.

“This is my revenge,” said Paul. “I love you both. Be happy, for my
sake. I forgive you. Death, thou hast no sting for me; no terror hath
the yawning grave. I die in peace!”

And as he breathed his last, a seraphic smile lighted his whole
countenance. The preacher’s eyes were raised to God, his soul was
wrapped in prayer, while Ouida sank to the floor, her head bowed in
utmost reverence.



A MODERN HERCULES


_THE TALE OF A SCULPTRESS_


... BY ...
MELVIN G. WINSTOCK
OF THE
_LEADVILLE BAR_

[Illustration]

AUTHOR OF

“_A Western Politician_,” “_The Fatal Horoscope_,”
“_A Virginia Romance_,” _Etc._


Price : 50 Cents



The Colorado Midland Railway..


[Illustration]


Double Daily Train Service..

BETWEEN

DENVER

and

COLORADO’S MINING CAMPS,

Salt Lake City...

and the West.



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