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The Dark Tower


Author of "Broken Music," "The Captive," etc.

Illustrations by J. H. Gardner Soper

SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS I-XVIII-Winn Staines, the thirty-five-year-old son of a hard-riding English county family, had a wicked temper, an unshakable nerve, and a nature both obstinate and insolent. After years of frontier work with the British army, he returned to England and married Estelle Fanshawe. Estelle was thoroughly selfish, and when Winn was sent to Davos with consumption she did not accompany him, but stayed in England with their baby, Peter. Winn went to Davos and there met Claire Rivers, an English girl of nineteen who was staying there with her brother Maurice and his tutor, Mr. Roper. Winn felt what he took to be an elder-brotherly interest in Claire and Maurice, but it was really love for Claire. And he put off the day of telling her he was married until he dared not do it. In the meantime Winn formed the quixotic plan of sending for Lionel Drummond, a brother-officer, and the one man he loved and could trust with Claire. To Lionel he explained the situation, and asked him to win Claire's love. After a short hesitation, Lionel, having fallen under the spell of Claire's charm, agreed to make the attempt, and Winn abruptly left Davos for St. Moritz. Later Claire came to him there, having refused Lionel. Winn now disclosed the fact of his marriage, but it was too late; Claire already loved him. She declared her intention of remaining in St. Moritz for two weeks. She wished to be happy at least for that time, she said, and Winn promised her that she should be happy.

Part III. Chapter XIX

IT seemed incredible that they should be

happy, but from the first of their fortnight to the last they were increasingly, insanely happy. Everything ministered to their joy: the unstinted blue and gold of the skies, the incommunicable glee of mountain heights, their blind and eager love.

There was no future. They were on an island cut off from all to-morrows; but they were together, and their island held. the fruits of the Hesperides.

They lived surrounded by light passions, by unfaithfulnesses that had not the sharp excuses of desire, bonds that held only because they would require an effort to break, and bonds that were forged only because it was easier to pass into a new relation than to continue in an old one. Their solid and sober passion passed through these light fleets of pleasure-boats as a great ship takes its unyielding way toward deep waters.

Winn was spared the agony of fore

sight; he could not see beyond her sparkling eyes and Claire was happy, exultantly, supremely happy, with the reckless, incurious happiness of youth.

It was terrible to see them coming in and out with their joy. Their faces were transfigured, their eyes had the look of sleep-walkers, they moved as through another world. They had only one observer, and to Miss Marley the sight of them was like the sight of those unknowingly condemned to die. St. Moritz in general was not observant. It had gossips, but it did not know the difference between true and false, temporary and permanent. It had one mold for all its fancies; given a man and a woman, it formed at once its general and monotonous conjecture.

Maurice might have noticed Claire's preoccupation, for Maurice was sensitive to that which touched himself, but for the moment a group more expensive and less second rate than he had discovered at Davos took up his entire attention. He

had none to spare for his sister unless she bothered him, and now she did not bother him.

It was left to Miss Marley to watch from hour to hour the significant and rising chart of passion. The evening after the Davos match Winn had knocked at the door of her private sitting-room. It was his intention only to ask her if she would dine with some friends of his from Davos; he would mention indifferently that they were very young, a mere boy and girl, and he would suggest with equal subtlety that he would be obliged if Miss Marley would continue to take meals at his table during their visit. St. Moritz, he saw himself saying, was such a place for talk. There was no occasion to go into anything, and Miss Marley would, of course, have no idea how matters really stood. She was a good sort, but he was n't going to talk about Claire.

Miss Marley said "Come in" in that wonderful, low, soft voice of hers that came so strangely from her blistered lips. She was sitting in a low chair, smoking, in front of an open wood fire.

Her room was furnished by herself. It was a comfortable, featureless room, with no ornaments and no flowers; there were plenty of books in cases or lying about at ease on a big table, a stout desk by the window, and several leather-covered, deep arm-chairs. The walls were bare except for photographs of the Cresta. These had been taken from every possible angle of the run-its banks, its corners, its flashing pieces of straight, and its incredible final hill. It was noticeable that though there was generally a figure on a toboggan in the photograph, it never happened to be one of Miss Marley herself. She was a creditable rider, but she did not, to her own mind, show off the Cresta.

Her eyes met Winn's with a shrewdness that she promptly veiled. He was n't looking as if he wanted her to be shrewd. It struck her that she was seeing Winn as he must have looked when he was about twenty. She wondered if this was only because he had won the match.

His eyes were very open and they were off their

guard. It could not be said that Winn had ever in his life looked appealing, but for a Staines to look so exposed to friendliness was very nearly an appeal.

"Mavorovitch has just left me," said Miss Marley. "You ought to have heard. what he said about you. It was worth hearing. You played this afternoon like a successful demon dealing with lost souls. I don't think I 've ever seen bandy played quite in that vein before."

Winn sank into one of the leather armchairs and lighted a cigarette.

"As a matter of fact," he said, "I played like a fluke. I am not up to Mavorovitch's form at all. I just happened to be on my game; he would have had me down and out otherwise."

Miss Marley nodded; she was wondering what had put Winn on his game. She turned her eyes away from him and looked into the fire. Winn was resting for the first time that day; the sense of physical ease and her even, tranquil comradeship were singularly soothing to him. Suddenly it occurred to him that he very much liked Miss Marley, and in a way in which he had never before liked any woman, with esteem and without excitement. He gave her a man's first proof of confidence.

"Look here," he said, "I want you to help me."

Miss Marley turned her eyes back to him; she was a plain woman, but she was able to speak with her eyes, and though what she said was sometimes hard and always honest, on the present occasion they expressed only an intense reassurance of good-will.

"When I came in," Winn said rather nervously, "I meant to ask you a little thing, but I find I am going to ask you a big one."

"Oh, well," said Miss Marley, "ask away. Big or little, friends should stand by each other."

"Yes," said Winn, relieved, "that 's what I thought you 'd say. I don't know that I ever mentioned to you I'm married?"

"No," she answered quietly, "I can't

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