A famous beauty, yes, he was thinking, but a beauty past her noontime. Yes, I was at the crossroads, and one word—one little word—decided my course for ever after." "How was that? "Twenty-seven years ago, to be exact," Wayne went on. " "He was my elder brother, the one my father had driven from home before I left." "Not really? If I'd mentioned sooner that I was Redfield—" "Redfield? A cool breeze swept in from the sea, and the hau tree dropped a yellow blossom in her lap.
"I was admiring the sunset." He stuck the monocle in his eye and was suddenly an actor. Here you are, like two love birds, and so and so and so, ending—" "Just a moment." The tall man had risen quickly to his feet. According to my part"—he took a rumpled roll of manuscript from his pocket—"I have a scene here—a rather good scene—" The woman sighed wearily. A sort of intoxication seemed to sweep over him; he talked faster and faster, stories of the islands, tales of his forebears' early adventures. We were alone among the natives, save for a Chinese cook." Wayne sat down. Maynard held open the screen door and Sibyl Clay went out.
"I've heard so much of your Hawaiian moonlight " she began. "One learns constantly." Wayne thought of the lines missing from his part in Isabelle. "I'll leave you now to your lurid literature." He went on down the deck. At eight that night Wayne came upon Nellie Fortesque, seated beside Tom Mixell and the girl in the shadow of a lifeboat on the after deck. "It's night, and the moon is shining, and we're all in love. We're going to save our money and go back with full pockets and take London by storm. Women tourists turned to stare at him, and no wonder. How do you know that in this instance—" Wayne shook his head. For example, he was under no compulsion to tell you he was Redfield." "Precisely," cried Thatcher.
I should like to have played in Honolulu, but we spent nearly a week in Los Angeles, and now we must hurry on to Australia at once. "He will give you the part as Bentley played it in London." Her eyes went back to Dan Maynard's face, their expression altered magically. "Must be a great privilege to work with her," suggested Maynard. My grandfather came there as a missionary." "You're not—you're not married, I take it? "I live in bachelor comfort in a big house on the beach. Speaking for myself, I'll be delighted." "Then that's fixed," said Maynard. We're all going to be married in Sydney—at least, these children are. "I'll call for it later this evening," he explained. "It will be very safe." He went over and, lighting a cigarette, dropped into a wicker chair. "What I'm trying to get at is, if one Chinese would do that, another would. "On the contrary, I see several things that point to his innocence—and so would you, in a calmer mood. " "He was a few years ago—living in Sydney." "Sydney—your next stop. When you get to Sydney, investigate; learn how that story has stood the test of time." "A splendid idea," cried Thatcher. Miss Bluebottle's carriage has busted—rear axle just crumpled up. Ordered me to call up Peter Mc Quade—he's got the only horse and carriage for rent in town. Only Miss Bluebottle could have sat with dignity under the circumstances. Probably got into my barn last night and tampered with it!
I'm walking two miles before dinner." She went on down the deck, and Wayne smiled after her. Now your first line, Zell dear." They had never seen her more considerate. He paused for a moment; he was a gentleman, but he lingered. Not with you aboard." Wayne lingered for Maynard's answer. Beyond the water-front, unromantic and commercial, they saw the white tops of buildings, like islands in a sea of brilliant green, and still beyond, blue peaks against a cloudless sky. "You'll have to look after your own hand luggage," he admonished. What's that beside the things he's accused me of here to-night? At the end of the church social, by sort of obliterating a pale young man with eye-glasses, Billy managed to walk home with her. I'm not used to it." "They regard you as a stranger," she told him. Then if she has any sporting blood—and I'll say she has—she's sold." "But how are you going to get her into a car? " "I ain't never heard no different." "Well, I'll take you out and teach you—free gratis. He had on his ancient silk hat, his blue coat with the brass buttons. Billy Anderson leaped from the seat at Carleton's side and ran up the walk. "Tell Miss Bluebottle her carriage is waiting," said Billy. I regard it as a rattly, death-dealing abomination." "Rattly! Purrs like a kitten." "I hate cats." "But I thought—" "You thought all old maids liked them. " "Yes, Miss Minerva." Carleton tried the other foot. Out in the broad free West he had been a riot, but here in this conservative town he was a frost. For these people are as unlike those I've been dealing with as—as Chinese.
We'll say this is the stage, the exit to the garden over here. One he recognized—a magic voice that had held thousands enraptured in the London stalls. I only know that if you were to come to me to-night and tell me that this boat would never reach port, that my career was ended, that I'd just go sailing on through eternity over a sea like glass, I—I wouldn't mind, Dan. When, a few moments later, he entered the smoking-room, the three of them were already at a table. But to-morrow we shall stand in the Honolulu sunshine." "At the crossroads of the Pacific," added Maynard. The little group of players gathered at the rail, and with that keen interest characteristic of British tourists the world over, stared at the unfamiliar scene. What she needed was to be roused, carried away from this narrow town, given a new setting wherein she would wake and glow and live. The next day I meet them on the street, and when I speak to them they jump and look at me in terror—the frightened-fawn stuff. "I was thinking," she explained, "of Aunt Minerva playing Rachel to your Jacob. I'm sorry," she went on more seriously, "but you'll never win her in seven years. All I have to do is get her into a Requa car—just once. Yes, sir, as I drove round behind Romulus and Remus there's been times I felt I'd like more power—more power," he added with emphasis. On a certain sunny May afternoon Carleton drove up before the Bluebottle door. He was sitting behind the wheel of a bright and shining Requa. " Thoroughly frightened, Carleton extracted his person from behind the wheel. Am I to understand that you have learned to operate that vile contraption? IN his room that night Billy Anderson admitted his defeat. If I had gone I'd have had to learn an entirely new system—and that's what I should have done when I came here.
Maynard was waiting in his living-room, a great apartment furnished in expensive native woods, with greenery everywhere. Go to the boat and wait for us." Thatcher stood up.
Passengers were appearing on deck with that air of bright expectancy those on shipboard wear as the dinner hour approaches. Through a gateway and along a drive that skirted a garden all crimson and gold, and so up to Dan Maynard's big front door. "A shot in the back—that's your specialty." "You lie!
We'll take this piece from the beginning." Wayne bowed. I've always hankered to take a look about, down yonder. For instance—" He nodded toward a little old lady who approached at a rapid gait. Never dreamed I'd meet her some day." "A great favorite in London," Wayne said; "for—for quite some years," he added, with meaning. It was a bit after six when he descended to the lobby. "You seem rather tired, that's all," he answered gently. Sibyl Clay was a great general, but she knew when her campaign was lost. "Now," she said bitterly, "I suppose we are to have your life-story too." Maynard regarded her coolly. He became obsessed with some fancied grievance and we let him go. As for Miss Minerva Bluebottle, he let her severely alone. " Carleton had picked up that phrase along with the ability to run a car. In twenty minutes he drew up beside Miss Minerva's tipsy carriage. "I'm not surprised to see you," snapped the old lady.
Maynard." The tanned young man dropped quickly into the chair at her side. "Our rehearsal will be resumed to-morrow morning in the lounge. But one doesn't rise to the heights without a bit of trampling, old chap." "I suppose not." "Rather surprising—her mention of her marriage. She killed his spirit, squandered his money, tossed him aside like a flattened orange. You'll have very little opportunity I was surprised when you took the engagement, a bully good actor like you." "Oh, one wants a change. A year in repertoire in Australia—it's a life-saver for some of us. "At that point," said the girl, "the struggle would begin." "Living's cheap in Australia, they tell me," remarked Harry Buckstone. A charming woman, Miss Clay." "Yes—charming." "I recall seeing her act five years ago in London. Wayne dressed with care, then repacked his bags and rang for a bell-boy. Your whole life wrecked, and what will you have accomplished? This absurd story of his is the Oriental idea of revenge." "Precisely," said Maynard. That's quite likely—" "Chinese don't lie," objected Wayne. Why, my dear fellow, I could give you examples—" "For instance," said Thatcher eagerly. "A good many years ago," he began, "we had a house-boy— " Sibyl Clay interrupted. "This boy of ours was very young—twenty, I think—a Cantonese and a splendid servant. Shoot a man in the back, and then besmirch his name! During the next few days he concentrated on the other old families of the town. It seemed to him that some of them were interested, but he got no further. Just step into my car and I'll whisk you home in no time." "I have no desire to be whisked, thank you." A loud peal of thunder grumbled suddenly among the hills.
" "Sit down—do," urged Sibyl Clay, "and tell me about your moonlight, Mr. You've been in Australia before, you said." "Started there," nodded Thatcher. But engagements are none too plentiful at home, you know." "We've all learned that," admitted Wayne. Ah, yes, whether our sweet star fancies the role or not, she's a great philanthropist. "I may even try to take Tommy away from you," warned Nellie humorously. After luncheon Norman Wayne sat in a chair outside his stateroom, a pile of books by his side. "By the way, I was very much interested in your rehearsal. He was no longer a boy, but his manner was boyish and charming, and Wayne found himself liking the man more and more the longer he knew him. They saw and they admired, and when the Honolulu man set them down at their hotel at five, he told them that his chauffeur would call for them in about an hour. Naturally, in the moment of meeting this chap—of recognizing him, I mean—you lost your head. I like you; you're a good fellow, and if you take the law into your own hands like this, you know the end. "I remember now—I had a row with that Chinaman about his wages after Harkness died. But there are about half a billion of them, and there are black sheep in that race as in all others. I haven't lived all my life in Hawaii without knowing the Chinese. He would have to confess himself beaten and hand Firkins his resignation.
I don't suppose I could say— " The ship's clock spoke sharply, four times. I must dress, even for one of these beastly dinners." Her face lighted suddenly with a charming smile. A good-looking, tanned man of thirty-five or so was drawing near. Did she realize that she had passed the hilltop, that she was coasting down, that her days of fame were numbered? They rolled along between rows of tall coconut palms, over the lowlands, past rice fields and taro patches, and came presently to Waikiki, with its huge hotels and its vast rambling houses.
"On the contrary," he answered, "I have to-day endured the ultimate in torture. About her pale chiffon dinner gown she had wrapped a Spanish shawl, as flamboyantly colored as the Honolulu scene. Beautiful, yes, Wayne thought, but unkind of the setting sun to be so hideously bright in the limousine. At a candle-lighted dinner table, however, they would not show, and under the Hawaiian moon Anything could happen under the Hawaiian moon.