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blue shadow broken by flickering spots Nearer, on the seashore, rose the crag of sunlight as round and glossy as coins of Monaco, with the old city on its of gold. The footman never went be- back. Then came the plateau of Monte yond that point. The duchess preferred Carlo, bristling with palaces and garto be alone, sole sovereign of a domain dens. At her feet lay Cap Martin, that was hers by right of discovery. where her own house was —
The lady made her way through the erected among the pine groves by the church and stepped out through another late Duke of Pontecorvo. Near by was door into a garden lined with palm trees. the summer house of her friend and As she progressed, her cane tapped nois- former patroness, the Empress Eugénie, ily on the red flagstones that rose and with the residences of other princes and fell unevenly from years and years of dethroned monarchs. There, also, was exposure to sun and rain. The de- the huge palace of John Baldwin, an light the duchess knew in this cler- American iron king, who was regarded ical retreat came from the charm of in those parts as one of the richest men contrast. Everything here was differ- in the world. ent from the sleek, ornate, majestic ele- The old lady pushed her way through gance of her villa down below, on the the shrubbery along the brink of the edge of the great blue Mediterranean precipitous slope, in search of one parplain. On this mountain terrace, flow- ticular spot from which the whole ers were growing in wild freedom and panorama of the Blue Coast spread out profusion. Rose bushes, untrimmed, un- before her delighted eyes. There she cared-for, wove their branches and could sit for an hour or more, watching thorns and blossoms into one entranc- the slow, placid death of the afternoon. ing thicket of color and perfume. The No one surely would disturb her in that trees, unpruned, crowded close upon one tranquil garden. There she could rest another, even intertwining their trunks for a time, far away from all common to make strange, fantastic, almost cares of the world, take one delicious human forms. Wild flowers, borne plunge, as it were, into the glory of the hither on the winds, were disputing the sunset, at an hour when the tenderest soil with garden plants. All around was memories of the past return, - thoughts one confused hum of insect life — ants, of all that has been and will never be wasps, multi-colored beetles, crawling again,
again, — like a sweet and melancholy over the ground, climbing up and down music coming to the ear from far away, the tree-trunks, or flitting musically or a lingering perfume of dead flowers through the air.
that will bloom no more! What the duchess was really looking There was something selfish in this for, and enjoying in advance, was the daily recreation of the duchess. She wonderful view that opened just be was like some despot of music, who has yond the growth of trees, where, from a
an opera sung to an empty theatre sort of natural balcony, she could look while he sits alone there, lying back at out from a great height upon the sea, his ease in the depths of an upholstered and then down along the curving shore chair. The wondrous beauty of that where the promontories of the Alps jut dying sun, the purple mourning colors out, making gulfs and bays and penin- that draped the sky and the sea of that sulas in the azure mirror. In the dis- Mediterranean paradise were things tance towered the mountains of Nice, she wanted all for herself. And in that peaks that stood out like blocks of garden she could have them. ebony against the crimson afterglow. On this occasion, when the duchess reached her favorite retreat, she noticed, though just as rarely, if they came for with some traces of annoyance, that any defensible purpose, did they go she was not, as usual, entirely alone. A away without some donation. The few smell of tobacco smoke mingled per- who had met him personally would ceptibly with the fragrance of the point him out as a real curiosity when flowers. She heard a cough behind the he appeared on the boulevard in Nice, intertwining branches of the trees. A or in one of the gambling-rooms at man had invaded her dominions and Monte Carlo. ‘Do you know? That is was enjoying the view which she had Baldwin over there - Baldwin, the chosen to call her own.
American millionaire!' Such informaThe old lady was tempted to protest, tion would usually be received with an as if a trespasser had ventured on exclamation of surprise. “What! Baldproperty of hers. And yet, when the win? That, Baldwin? Why, he looks intruder appeared and stepped toward as poor as a rat!' her, the expression of displeasure on her Baldwin, in fact, always dressed very face changed to one of cordial greeting. plainly; and his habits were as simple
"Oh, it's you, Mr. Baldwin. I am so as his clothes. Though his garages on glad to see you here.'
Cap Martin held numerous automobiles of the most fashionable makes, he went
almost everywhere on foot. He chose II
his secretaries for their refinement and Whenever, from time to time, John good taste in dress. He seemed to enBaldwin, the American multimillionaire, joy being taken for the servant of the came to spend a few weeks in the palace elegant secretaries who sometimes went on Cap Martin, which he had bought with him on his walks. through a newspaper advertisement, People described him ordinarily as he attracted the attention of the whole ‘the richest man on earth.' Those who Blue Coast. Though any number of pretended greater intimacy with his forgotten celebrities — ex-premiers, de affairs asserted that he had a million throned monarchs, retired magnates dollars on his checking account at the could be found in the small strip of ter- bank. When asked why he allowed ritory that stretches between Cannes such an enormous capital to lie idle, he and Mentone, there was not a single would answer with a sigh of weariness. 'winterer' on the Riviera comparable Money bored him so! What could he to him. The authorities were always do with money? It was impossible to soliciting his aid for public charities. invest it in anything better than his own Philanthropic organizations were for- business; and since his various enterever sending the most important men prises in mining and manufacturing had of the native population to knock at his already reached their maximum develdoor in the interest of this or that good opment and were in need of no further work. Every theatrical or musical func- capital, why should he worry? tion showed his name among its patrons. The Duchess of Pontecorvo had The omnipotent millionaire was some- known Baldwin ever since he became thing like a god, who never reveals him- her neighbor on Cap Martin the self to profane eyes, but makes his friendship of an old lady, famous in her presence felt everywhere through his time, but now forgotten, with a rich miracles.
man whose name was a catchword Visitors to his beautiful palace were throughout the world. The duchess rarely received by him in person, had found times much changed since the days of her youth. Countries where youth, which the deep lines of his aged she had been intimate with royalty had face had not been able to obscure. become republics. In the present dem- And his eyes, also! His eyes were as ocratic age, millionaires like Baldwin bright as they had ever been. It was were the real lords of the earth. She
easy to guess how they must have herself had spent the larger part of her flashed in his angry moments as a former fortune on the careers of her youth. They looked out upon you with children, and for years had been living the piercing, disconcerting glare that a life of gilded poverty, which allowed belongs to men who are masters of men. only infrequent excursions from her In them one could see the secret of his villa on Cap Martin.
great worldly success. And yet their That is why the aged aristocrat felt outlines were somewhat softened now the greatest respect for this potentate by a trace of gentleness and kindliness. of a younger age; and that is why she They suggested willingness on a fighter's smiled so cordially when she discovered part to forget the struggles of the past. that the intruder on her solitude was At sight of the duchess, Baldwin the American millionaire. Hitherto she threw away the smashed and muchhad seen him at social gatherings, of chewed cigar-butt he had been smoking. an afternoon, in sombre palace halls, ‘How do you happen to be here?' the where the lighting was controlled by duchess asked, offering her hand in corolder hostesses, careful to avoid the dial greeting. glaring, indiscreet rays of unobstructed ‘Oh, one of my friends told me about sunlight. Now, here he was before her the view from here. He heard you dein the open air, and in that garden where scribe it so enthusiastically the other trees and stones seemed to have halos day! I thought I would come and have
green around them, so intense was a look at it myself. You are right, the golden radiance dripping from the madame! It is wonderful!' sky.
They sat down on a rustic bench of She was eighty, and he was quite as tree-trunks, looking out over the sea at old, if not, as the duchess suspected, a their feet, the villages along the shore, few years older. But he was still a and the distant foothills of the Alps. strong man, one of those hard, wiry, Automobiles, like so many insects, were elastic persons on whom the storms of running along the thread-like roadways the years beat as on a marble temple, visible far down at the foot of the hills. roughening the surface, perhaps, but A train was in sight on the Francopowerless to break them down. Old Italian railroad, though at that distance age seemed to have toughened John the locomotive seemed to be puffing in Baldwin, throwing a wrapper of parch- silence and there was no rumbling of the ment, as it were, around him, an armor wheels. In fact, the stillness of the garproof against disease and impenetrable den was broken only by the tinkling of to the shafts of death. His dark-blue little bells that came from a herd of suit had been cut to fit him; yet he goats grazing along the slopes below the seemed to move about in it as if it had garden - a soft, mellow tinkling, like been made for another person. The the ring from a Venetian glass. The slenderness of his neck emphasized the sea had turned to a more subdued massive structure of his head — a prom- azure, less harsh on the eyes than preinent, bulging forehead, a strong, pro- viously in the blinding deluge of light truding lower jaw, evidences of intelli- rained upon it from the sun. gence and will, remnants of a vigorous "Yes, it is beautiful!' said the duchess
after a long pause. 'It is wonderful!' life of gayety I led when I was young.
As they sat there in silence, the full But it has its consolations. You see, I solemnity of the dying day came over have suffered a great deal in my time, them. 'What a pity it is,' Baldwin Mr. Baldwin. People's lives are someobserved, 'that we have to wait till we thing like houses, are n't they? You are old before we can enjoy the deepest have to live in them before you know and sweetest pleasures of life! When what they really are.' we are young, we are always worried The American millionaire had heard about things. We are looking forward many stories about the career of the all the time. Our hopes and ambitions duchess in the old days. She had been a blind our eyes to the things actually very interesting person; and he began present before us. I imagine that many to listen to her story attentively. of the men I used to know, if they The Duchess of Pontecorvo was a could rise from their graves on the other Spanish woman, by birth distantly reside of the ocean and come here now, lated to the Empress Eugénie. She had would be surprised to see old man Bald- come to Paris to join the galaxy of win stopping to look at a landscape and
beauties that revolved around the magactually enjoying it, without a thought nificent sovereign in the Tuileries. Her for the ups and downs of exchange!' family, of the ancient Spanish nobility,
The duchess nodded without clearly had long since been ruined; so the foreseeing what her companion was Empress tried to arrange a suitable about to say.
marriage for her protégée with some 'I imagine that you, too,' he con- important personage in France. The tinued, have had to wait for the years man in whom the young lady showed to go by before you could take a really greatest interest was a general in Napotrue delight in the beauties of Nature; leon's army, who had just received a though women, as a rule, are born more title of duke — Duke of Pontecorvo poetic, more sentimental, than men, for a victory his division had won in the and when they are young, furthermore, wars in Italy. have more time to devote to what are The duchess made no mystery of the called “higher" things. I am sure you incompatibility of taste and temperaare enjoying what you see before you ment between herself and the rough quite as much as you used to enjoy a soldier she finally married. But life at soirée at the Tuileries.'
court was so gay that domestic troubles Again the duchess nodded, quite flat- were not terribly oppressive. She had tered that the powerful personage at found life quite tolerable. When the her side should take an interest in her Empire fell, and all the brilliant life humble self. Something of her vanished that centred around the Court in Paris coquetry came to life again. Baldwin, came to an end, the marshal died of a the richest man in the world, had come broken heart. He could not survive the to visit that remote garden just because overthrow of the Emperor and the she had praised it to one of his friends! shock of the great disaster of 1870. Two These new bourgeois upstarts of the children, boys, had been born to the day were not so hard, so lacking in all duchess. They in turn had set up new feeling, as she had been told. She began families and carried off the greater part to talk of her past as if the aged Amer- of their father's fortune. ican were an old friend of hers.
To escape unpleasant contrasts beYou are right,' she said. "The life I tween her former splendor and the am leading now is not so brilliant as the modest way in which she now had to
live, the widowed duchess went to Cap a fortress under siege: she never has a Martin, intending to spend the rest of moment's rest! her life in the palace that had been her For the first time in my life I am vacation home in the days of her splen- free to enjoy friendship, comradeship, dor. There she could live in company with men. That is something I never with old friends from earlier times, knew when I was young. It was a great without obtruding the decline in her surprise to me to find that a man need resources.
not necessarily be a torment! But at The Empress was a not infrequent our age, you see, people are not men visitor to the Riviera. When Eugénie and women. They are friends, comcame to Cap Martin, she would pay a panions, comrades. When passion is visit to the duchess; and the two old once out of the way, all the other beauladies, dressed in their widow's weeds, ties of the human soul come more into would talk of the happy days gone by. evidence and seem more attractive in But now the Empress was dead; and the
our eyes. passing of that lifelong friend brought ‘Of course, sometimes, when I see a home to the duchess the short time that pretty, charming, popular young girl, must be left before she too passed on. I remember my own days of triumph,
Only one memento was still left from and feel a flash of envy; but I soon get her really brilliant youth - her neck- over that. Why envy them? Some day lace, the 'Necklace of the Duchess,' a they will be old, too. They will reach jewel so closely identified with her the point that I have reached. The fact fame that to dispose of it would be a is, I suppose, one can be really selfish public declaration of poverty.
when one is old. One can just live, and 'You are right, Mr. Baldwin,' she feel all the delights of just living continued. "Old age does have its something that a young person never pleasures. I am now well acquainted dreams of. Believe me, Mr. Baldwin, I with something that I never knew be- am not at all sorry that I am eighty fore — peace, quiet, tranquillity. I have years old; and I am glad to see that you, no ambitions left, of course. I have so after your long and active life, feel as I restricted my daily needs that there is do about it.' hardly a thing in the world I really 'Well, yes,' the old man replied, muswant. Life does not call to me with the ing sadly; 'yes - if only we could vibrant voice that it used to have before. always be old! But there's death, At the same time it is without the old is n't there?' sorrows and the old worries. At our The animation with which the duchage, for instance, there is no such thing ess had been speaking vanished from as love; but yet, there is friendship! her face, and there was a tremor of sadAnd how much more wonderful and ness in her voice as she replied: lasting than love that sometimes is! Yes, that is true. There's death! You can't imagine what a beautiful We old people have not very long to woman, a woman whom many, many
live! men desire, has to go through in life.
III You live in a state of perpetual alarm. You are afraid to venture on the slight- There was a long silence. Then the est intimacy with a man. The moment old man expressed aloud all that he had one appears, you come to regard him as been thinking while the duchess was a possible enemy. The life of a great telling the story of her life. He, too, beauty is like that of the commander of found a strong contrast between the