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guity would be well attended; and indeed | terest in it than in any other portion of the when Brian, who arrived rather late on opera. For the overture, at any rate, was the evening announced as "destined to all his own; there was no flavor of Phipps mark the dawn of a new epoch in the an- about it, save such as was inseparable nals of dramatic representation,” reached from the character of the whole composi. the pretty little playhouse, he found it tion. He listened to it now phlegmatically thronged from floor to roof. Boxes, stalls, enough, noticing only with a dull kind of pit, and gallery were alike as full as they satisfaction that the orchestra was doing could hold; in various parts of the house him full justice; but when came to an he noticed friendly and familiar faces; end and there burst out from all quarters almost immediately opposite to him sat of the house a sudden and spontaneous Beatrice, who favored him with a smiling tumult of applause, his heart gave a great signal of recognition. Miss Joy was be bound. He was not such a stoic as he side her; behind them were Gilbert and had imagined himself, after all. To hear Stapleford; and in the background could another man cheered and clapped by an be discerned the gloomy countenance of audience some hundreds strong is the Sir Joseph Huntley.
commonest thing in the world; there is It was from the back of a stage box, nothing exciting about it, unless it reaches occupied by Phipps and sundry other positively rapturous heights, and even
iends, that the young composer took this then one's excitement is apt to be temsurvey of his judges. Phipps, who had pered by doubts as to whether he has hurried off to the theatre immediately done anything to deserve it. But very after a dinner for which he had had little different are the sensations of him to appetite, and who was looking pale and whom this uproar is addressed. It may nervous, hailed him, as usual, with a mix. be worth much or it may be worth next to ture of admiration and remonstrance. nothing; it may be merited or unmerited;
“Never saw such a fellow in all my but few indeed are the mortals whose born days! Drops in casually at the last blood does not course wildly through their moment, as if he had happened to remem- veins when for the first time the plaudits ber that there was a new play on, and of an assemblage of their fellow-men fall thought perhaps it might amuse him to upon their ears. Readers of Brian Se. have a look at it. Not particularly keen grave's history will not surely, be so about being there for the overture, you cruel as to laugh if it must be recorded of know; has heard it already, in fact. Well, him that his inward ejaculation, as the I'm not bloodthirsty, and as a general curtain rose upon the first scene of “The thing I shouldn't care to attend an execu- King's Veto,” was, "I haven't lived altotion; but I should like to see you hung, gether in vain, then.” Segrave, I should really! It would be a The first act was designed sort of apotheosis of the self-satisfied man, haps all first acts should be — to put the total indifference to the words or ways of audience in good humor and stimulate its the rest of creation raised to its highest curiosity. It opened with the coronation expression."
of Conrad, king of Democratia, a cereBrian did not think it worth while to mony which admitted of much magnifiexplain how very little self-satisfaction cence of costume and scenery and gave had to do with his calmness, or how far occasion for the introduction of a stirring he was from being indifferent to the words chorus. Some smart dialogue between and ways of some of his fellow-creatures. the youthful monarch and his ministers He seated himself close to the door, de- upon the subject of their bill for a sweepclining the front place offered to him ; at ing extension of the franchise had been the same moment the conductor of the turned to account by the author, who orchestra raised his bâton, and conversa- knew well that nothing delights the Brittion was hushed. In truth, he himself ish playgoer more than a hit at contempo was a little surprised that he should feel rary statesmanship. His colleague and so cool. His senses were curiously numb; the prima donna scored decisively by it seemed to him that this evening was the a plaintive song in which the latter, as conclusion of a chapter in his life; he Phyllis, lamented the inferiority of birth wanted to get it over and see what was which separated her from her royal lover, beyond. The chapter had been a fiasco, and the curtain fell upon the king's reand its finale, whatever that might be like, solve to exercise his right of veto and the could not possibly mend it. Yet he had consternation of his responsible advisers. taken particular pains about this overture, The fate of a piece – or at all events its feeling somewhat more of a personal in- I success - is seldom a matter of certainty
before two-thirds of it have been per. | which his imagination had placed her any. formed; nevertheless, the very warm re- thing to do with the too flattering estimate ception accorded to this first act was which she had been pleased to form of his perhaps sufficient to justify Phipps in abilities. Her presence was sweet to him, declaring that nothing but a miracle could and so was her praise, exaggerated though
a prove fatal to “ The King's Veto now. it might be. He was greatly elated, and generous “I am glad you like the music,” he withal in his elation, saying, "I don't said simply. know whether you could have done as “Of course I like it; nothing could be well as this without me, Segrave; but I'm more charming. Only I don't think you quite sure that I could never have done as must do this sort of thing again; it was well without you.”
all very well as a stepping-stone. I don't And Brian, though no longer carried out set up to be a competent critic, but from of himself as he had been by that first the first I have known that you have gentribute of applause, was yet able to re- ius; even an ignoramus can discern genspond in the manner expected of him with ius." She paused for a moment, and then something like heartiness, and felt a good | asked, “Do you remember that evening, deal more fit than he had done an hour ever so long ago, when I slipped into St. before to face the necessary ordeal of Michael's, and you were playing the orvisiting Miss Huntley's box. He found gan and never knew I was there?” only Miss Joy and Sir Joseph with her, the Yes,” he answered sadly; “ I rememother two men having gone out to smoke, ber it very well, and all that you said. and when her companions had delivered Miss Joy was outside in the churchyard, themselves of soine complimentary re- transferring a flaming sunset into water. marks, for which it is to be feared that colors. Afterwards we met my poor old they obtained but little gratitude, she father." made him take the chair directly behind “Yes, and you made him angry by talkher, turning round so as to face him. ing Radicalism. Wasn't it then that I
"I am so very, very glad !” she ex. ventured to compare you and your brother claimed. “ I knew you would be victori- to Jacob and Esau ? And was 1 so very ous; but I was a little bit frightened, all far wrong, after all?” the same. Swine, you know, don't appre- “Is he not rightly named Jacob? for ciate pearls, and when I saw all this crowd he hath supplanted me these two times, I couldn't help being afraid that the swine murmured Brian. He spoke involuntamust be in an alarming majority. I was rily; but when he looked up and saw ber quite wrong, though. Far be it from me eyes turned questioningly upon him, he to call them names, after their splendid colored a little. Perhaps, though, she behavior! I should like to shake hands did not understand his allusion, for she with them all round !”
went on :“Oh, but it is too early to talk about “ You see! you see! And now you victory yet," objected Brian. “ Besides, have embraced Jacob, just as poor Esau the glory, such as it is, belongs to Phipps. did, and you are content to be an outcast, It is really his piece, not mine."
and all is for the best in the best of pos. “What absurd nonsense! Mr. Phipps, sible worlds." indeed! A funny little man who writes Then the curtain rose upon act the seco funny little plays, which, I grant you, are ond, and she turned quickly to Brian, say. amusing enough in their funny little way, ing, “Stay where you are ; Jacob has but which nobody out of a lunatic asylum found some friends on the other side of would ever dream of calling works of the house ; he won't come back while you genius. Don't you see that your music keep possession of his place." has triumphed in spite of him, not be- This was pleasant hearing for Brian. cause of him? He was within an ace of Assuredly she could not be in love with a making you ridiculous several times, and man of whom she spoke in that tone, and if he had done that I would never have there began to shine upon him the glimspoken to him again ! ”
mer of a faint hope that he had misjudged There was a delicate pink fush upon her. The threadbare simile of the moth her cheeks; her clear eyes had an unusual and the candle came into his mind and light in them; she seemed to be sincere; gave him comfort. There are women who and, after all, why should she not be ? attract men for the simple reason that Brian had never doubted that she liked they cannot help it; it is neither fair nor him and wished him well, nor had her de- reasonable to treat attractiveness as thronement from that high pedestal upon crime. “ Haven't I singed my own
wings?” thought Brian ; "and is she to the question with Miss Joy close at hand. blame for that?" For to-night, at all Moreover, Sir Joseph and Stapleford had events, he would try to forget what Sir now resumed their places, and were plying Joseph had told him. If he had been him with kind and congratulatory whisworshipping a false goddess during so pers. many months, it was a small matter that During the second entr'acte Gilbert he should continue to worship her for a reappeared, and then Brian rose. few hours. So he surrendered himself to think Phipps will want me to go behind the delight of sitting close to her, watch with him and say what is civil to all these ing the pleasure which she derived from eminent artistes who have been doing so his composition, and of listening to the well for us,” he remarked. Besides, I comments which she threw back to him do feel grateful to them.” from time to time over her shoulder.
“ But you will come back again, won't Now the music of the second act was you?" asked Beatrice. in no way inferior to that of the first, nor Yes, if you will allow me,” he anwas Beatrice sparing of her panegyrics swered, and left the box, carrying away upon it; yet, as the action of the piece ad- with him a much lighter heart than he had vanced, it became evident that, in spite brought. of her disparaging criticism upon Mr. Phipps was in high good-humor. Brian Phipps, she was a good deal interested in found him surrounded by a bevy of adhis plot. The scene in which Phyllis was miring friends, whose views as to the remade to renounce the king, notwithstand- spective merits of author and composer ing his protestations and reproaches, may not have been identical with those seemed to please her greatly.
of Miss Huntley; but he disengaged himWhy, the man is as stupid and unjust self at once to clap his colleague on the as if he were a fact instead of a fiction !” back. she exclaimed. And when the same as- “Well, old fellow,” said he, “ you were tute maiden was represented as joining the right to be confident. I suppose you Socialist plot for the assassination of her knew your own value better than I did lover, intending all the time to save him but I must own that I never anticipated by sacrificing her own life and that of his taking the public by storm in this way. chief enemy, Miss Huntley abruptly We're all right now; and I don't think I'm shifted her chair, bringing herself almost too sanguine in saying that we may look face to face with Brian. “ So that is your forward to a six or eight months' run.” notion of a heroine !” said she trium- An equally hopeful and jubilant spirit phantly: “You admit that she is justified reigned behind the scenes, whither Brian in deceiving everybody, and even in com- presently repaired. Everybody was smilpassing the death of a scoundrel. You ing, for everybody foresaw that “ The admit that all is fair in love and in war.” King's Veto
would provide those en"Oh no, I don't,” answered Brian, gaged in it with bread and butter for some laughing. “I decline to be responsible time to come, and there was no one who for Phipps's morality; and, indeed, I sus- had not a pleasant word for the young man pect that Miss Phyllis is only setting the to whose talents this cheerful prospect decalogue at defiance because the play was chiefly, if not entirely, due. The couldn't be made to work upon any other manager drank his health in a glass of
champagne, and said, with a certain soYet he could not help being glad to hear lemnity, “Mr. Segrave, your fortune is her making what sounded so very like an made, sir." excuse for herself. If she had been guilty Success of all kinds, from winning the of deception, it was something that she battle of Waterloo down to shooting a should be persuaded of the integrity of woodcock, is enjoyable, and there must be her own motives. Not precisely in that something very wrong with the mental or way had he reasoned, the night before ; bodily health of a man who fails to enjoy but circumstances alter cases. He did it. Brian, though not unduly elated (for not at the moment think it possible that he was well aware that the writing of such she could be pleading love for Gilbert in operas as this, whether it led to fortune or extenuation of any treachery that she not, could never lead to true fame), enmight have employed towards Kitty Green-joyed it all the more, perhaps, because his wood. Perhaps if he had been alone with mental health had only just been re-estabher he would have ventured to ask her lished. He remained chatting with the point-blank what her designs were, but manager until long after Phipps had re such a straightforward course was out of turned to the front, and the last act was
well advanced; and when, conformably to curtain nor the warm felicitations of the his promise, he re-entered Miss Huntley's friends who sat around him could arouse box, the drama which was being enacted an echo of gratitude in Brian's sick heart. on the stage bad reached a climax which There was a call for the authors; Phipps, those who had followed it with interest on the opposite side of the house, could so far should have found highly exciting. be seen bobbing and grinning like a ma
But, alas ! it was only too obvious that rionette; then Stapleford seized Brian by Beatrice did not find it so - that her atten- the shoulders and pushed him forcibly to tion was concentrated on the working out the front of the box; and so the whole of another drama, in which she herself was business came to an end. Our poor hero engaged, and that she was so absorbed had passed through a variety of emotions by her part as to be unconscious even of in the course of the evening, but at the Brian's proximity. She had turned her finish be found himself very much where head away from the stage ; her eyes were he had been at starting, with such added not attracted by the really brilliant and bitterness of spirit as naturally arose from well-contrived representation of a masked the consciousness of having been fooled. ball which was being displayed there, nor Beatrice, as she was leaving the box, her ears by the swinging melodious waltz paused for a moment beside him. “You music which subsequently achieved so don't look very triumphant," she remarked. signal a 'success that barrel-organs are “Do I not ?" returned he. Perhaps grinding it in all parts of the United King- I don't feel so." dom at this present day. Gilbert, leaning She frowned and bit her lip. She forward with his elbows on his knees, was seemed to be going to say something, but talking eagerly to her, and she seemed to apparently changed her mind and passed be pleased with what he was saying, for on. On the threshold, however, she halther parted lips were curved into a smile, ed, stepped quickly back to him for he and every now and again from beneath had not moved - and said: “I am going her lowered eyelids she shot a glance at away on Thursday; will you come and him, which was doubtless aimed to reach see me to-morrow? his heart. Miss Joy was watching her “ I will call, since you wish it,” replied with a comical expression of distress Brian coldly. and discomfiture; Stapleford, apparently “Since I wish it? I should like to say more amused than indignant, was staring good-bye to you before I leave, certainly'; straight before him; in the back of the but my happiness is not so bound up in box Sir Joseph was sleeping as peacefully seeing you again that I should care to as if he had been in the House of Com- drag you to Park Lane against your will.
What is the matter with you? Possibly Brian saw nothing more than “I will tell you to-morrow, if you like," he ought to have been prepared to see; answered Brian desperately. possibly there was nothing in Beatrice's She looked him straight in the face, present attitude and demeanor inconsis. pressing her lips together., “Very well, tent with that theory of involuntary fas- then,” she said ; “ 'you will find me at cination which he had formulated on her home at five o'clock. I am not afraid of behalf at an earlier period of the evening; anything that you may have to say to me; but a theory which can be made to fit one but I hope you will think before you set of circumstances decently well often speak and remember that there are limits fails altogether to adapt itself to another. to the privileges of a friend." Besides, Brian was in love, which is a state With that warning ringing in his ears, of mind very unfavorable to the calm he left her and submitted to be borne away application of theories. “Who is being by Phipps to a supper-party, of which the cheated here?” was his ioward comment joyousness can bardly be said to have upon the scene ; and there was little con- been augmented by his presence. solation in replying, “ Everybody.”. Gil. bert might or might not be a dupe, but in any care he was a deceiver, and so, in any
THE PRIVILEGES OF FRIENDSHIP. case, must Beatrice be.
She caught sight of him by-and-by and WHEN a man or a woman says, “ I am said something to him, which he did not not afraid,” it is courteous to believe the hear, after which she began once more to assertion, but safe to conclude that it is pay attention to the play, which was now made rather with the intention of frightenalmost over. But neither the prolonged ing somebody else than of testifying to applause which followed the fall of the the speaker's intrepidity; for courage ho
no more need to proclaim itself than vir- we agreed to fight it out afterwards. tue. Beatrice Huntley did not succeed Well, suppose, on second thoughts, we in frightening Brian, even though he un- don't fight it out? Suppose we conclude derstood her warning to mean that if he peace, instead? I never can screw my, presumed too far she would cease to be his self up to the point of quarrelling in cold friend. On the other hand, she dreaded blood." his visit a good deal more than she would But this system of tactics was of little have done, had she been in possession of avail with a man who was very much in that priceless blessing, a clear conscience. earnest, who had thought over what he Her nerves, ordinarily as steady as a rock, had to say and who meant to say it. gave her no little trouble that day, and, as “Why do you try to put me off?” Brian a natural consequence, were a source of asked. “Is it because you don't want to trouble to others. Sir Joseph was driven quarrel with me, and because, as you told discomfited from her presence at an early me last night, a friend must not strain his hour and trotted off to his club, convinced privileges farther than they will go? But that he had better leave the girl to be it seems to me that I should be a poor dealt with by a capable member of her sort of friend if I held my tongue now, own sex; Phipps, who dropped in com- rather than run the risk of displeasing placently after luncheon, ready to accept you. I think, when you asked what was the compliments which he conceived to the matter with me, you could have anbe his due, departed, after a very short swered the question for yourself; I think stay, with mortification writ large upon you must know that, however dull I may his features and the recollection of some be, I am not quite blind. And even if I amazingly unjust and ironical criticisms were, there are plenty of people able and in his mind; even Miss Joy did not es- willing to open my eyes cape scot free, but came in for one or two “Stop a moment,” she interrupted. “I snubs so sharp that she withdrew to her will allow, if you like, that a friend is bedroom, where, being a foolish and soft- sometimes entitled to ask for explanahearted person, she melted into tears. tions; but then he must have shown him
Having thus created a solitude for her- self worthy of them. For my own part, I self and given orders that no one was to should never think it worth while to exbe admitted, unless Mr. Segrave should plain myself to any one who could not call — "Mr. Segrave, remember, not Mr. trust me. One knows how that sort of Gilbert Segrave - Beatrice spent the thing always ends. You may satisfy him afternoon in wandering restlessly about to-day, but he will be dissatisfied again the room, staring out of the window at the to-morrow; and so it goes on until, some dismal, fog-enveloped park, and trying to fine morning, you find that your stock of fix her attention upon books and news- patience is exhausted. I prefer to anticipapers, all of which struck her as being pate a foregone conclusion.” equally devoid of the faintest human in- " I don't think I am the kind of friend terest.
that you describe,” said Brian; “I am Nervousness and irritability are not not given to being distrustful; but I won't likely to be lessened by lack of occupa deny that I distrust you now. After that, tion; yet when Brian, punctual to the you can answer me or not, as you think appointed hour, was shown into Miss best; but it isn't a great deal that I ask Huntley's luxurious sanctum, he was ac- of you. If you will simply tell me that costed by a lady who turned towards him all this is untrue, that shall be enough a countenance wreathed in smiles and, though, of course, I had rather that you without rising from the low chair in which told me a little more.” she was reclining by the fireside, held out “Your moderation does you credit; her hand to him, saying lazily : “ Hasn't only you are not quite as lúcid as you it been a horrid day? I haven't stirred might be. What is it that I am to admit from the house and I was just dropping or deny?" off to sleep. How nice of you to come in “I thought, perhaps, you would not and wake me up!”
force me to put such a hateful question "You asked me to come,” returned into words. Is it true or untrue that you
are trying to induce Gilbert to break off “Did I? Oh, yes, I remember; and his engagement?” didn't we have something very like the “ And if it were true ?" beginning of a quarrel last night? You Brian hesitated. “I won't believe it !" were rude, or I thought you were, and as he exclaimed. “I won't believe until you we couldn't very well wrangle in public, I admit it.”