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Painting by Harrey Dunn

Illustration for "Command" “ YOU DO NOT WISH, THEN, TO TAKE A CHANCE?"

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SHE

HE was one of those girls who have sembles the mask of experience. But

become much more common of late perhaps the most remarkable aspect of years among the upper middle classes, their love-affairs is the blindness of the the comfortably fixed classes, than they girl's friends to her frequent superiority have ever been since the aristocracy left over the being whom she adores. She off marrying Italian prime donne. You isn't good enough for him, they say. Just know the type of English beauty, so like that. The fact is, at the time of this often insisted on, say, twenty years ago story, fine women were cheap in Eng-placid, fair, gentle, blue eyed, fining land, and gentlemen of indifferent caliber into distinction in Lady Clara Vere de were picking up bargains every day. Vere. Always she was the heroine; and Mr. Reginald Spokesly, a case in her protagonist, the adventuress, was point, was accustomed to use this very dark and wicked. For some occult reason phrase when in a mood in which his the Lady Rowena type was the fashion. egotism was lying dormant. “I've picked

Ada Rivers was one of those girls who up a bargain," he would say to himself have come up since. Outwardly re as he leaned over the rail and watched sembling the wealthy society girl, they the millions of tiny facets of the sea are essentially quite different. They go reflecting the sunset. “A bargain," he everywhere by themselves, and to men would whisper in an awed voice, nodding whom they dislike they are sheathed in gravely at the opposite bulkhead, as he shining armor. They can dance, swim, sat in his room with his feet in a bucket motor, golf, entertain, earn their own of hot water, for this was his way with living, talk music, art, books, and china, corns. And Mr. Reginald Spokesly was wash a dog and doctor him. And they intensely preoccupied with women. He can do all this, mark, without having any aspired, indeed, to be what he called “a real experience of what we call life. They connossure," but that was denied him. are good girls, nice girls, virtuous girls, He had often sighed, on the bridge, as he and very marriageable girls, too, but reflected what he might do "if he only they have a superficial hardness of tex 'ad the means.' Perhaps, when he got ture on their character which closely re a command ... He would halt short

Copyright, 1922, by Harper & Brothers. All rights reserved

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at this, suddenly remembering the bar “You? I'd like to see you! You'd pile gain he had picked up.

her up on the beach before you'd had But it must not be for one moment her five minutes—that's what you'd do.” imagined, when I speak of Mr. Spokesly It was a vile, gratuitous insult, the as being at that time a gentleman of in third officer had thought, hotly, and he different caliber, that he was so regarded had watched Mr. Spokesly do the only by himself or by his world afloat or thing possible-walk grandly away. ashore. Indeed, he was a rather magnifi- That was the worst of those beastly encent person. He played his cards very gineers; if you gave them an inch they'd well. He “kep’ his ears open and his take a mile. mouth shut,” as he himself put it. He But this was, I am glad to say, an had once confided to Mr. Chippenham, exceptional incident. Circumstances, as the third officer, that “there was jobs a rule, favored the development of Mr. goin' just now, sawf things, too, if y' Spokesly's amour propre, and he brooded only wait.” The third officer was not with intense absorption upon his own directly interested, for he knew well greatness. Now this greatness was a enough that he himself stood no chance

very

intricate affair. It was inextricably in that gamble. But he was impressed tangled up with the individual soul by Mr. Spokesly's—the second officer's known as Reginald Spokesly, Esq., of -exquisite fitness for any such jobs. Thames Road, Twickenham, England, Even the Old Man, taciturn, distant, and the unit of the merchant service and dignified as he was, was not up to known as R. Spokesly, second officer, Mr. Spokesly. Who had so slow and so S. S. Tanganyika, a member of what is deliberate a walk? Who could treat the called "the Cloth." Perhaps it would common people of the ship—the sailors, be better to include another manifestathe firemen, the engineers, and wireless tion of greatness, which was Mr. Spokesboys-with such lofty condescension? ly's tremendous power over women. His It was a lesson in deportment to see him own explanation of this last phenomenon stroll into the chief engineer's room and was that he "kep' 'em in their place.” extend himself on that gentleman's To him they were mere playthings of an settee. It was unfortunately true that idle hour. Perhaps his desire was most some of those common people treated aroused by stories of Oriental domesMr. Spokesly, not as a commander in ticity, and he almost regretted not being posse, not as one of those select beings born a pasha, where his abilities as a born to rule, but as one of themselves. woman tamer could have had more Mr. Chippenham remembered with pain scope. However, he did not read a one incident which showed this only too great deal. In fact, he could hardly be clearly. They were watching a destroyer said to read at all. He patronized a coming into port, her decks lined with book now and then by falling asleep bluejackets, her three funnels belching oil smoke, her semaphore working. As In the early days of war Mr. she swung round astern of them, Mr. Spokesly's light had been hidden for Spokesly, who had been pacing to and some years in the Far East. Indeed, fro, paring his nails, joined the little when I think of the sort of life he was group at the rail, nodding in majestic gradually subsiding into out there, I approval.

sometimes wonder if he would ever have “Ah," he remarked in his loose-lipped attained to such a capacity for moral husky drawl, “I sh'd like to 'andle one effort as he afterward displayed unless o' them little things meself.”

the war had evoked the illusion that he And to this the third engineer, his ought to go home and enlist, and so had greasy arms asprawl on the rail, had opened to him the wealth of bargains to looked over his shoulder and remarked: be picked up in England. That, at any

over it.

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rate, had been his ostensible reason for full of consolable fiancées, young ladies quitting the peculiar mixture of tropical of wealth, beauty, and position, sobbing languor and brisk modernity which had gently for departed heroes, but willing been his life for nearly four years. Per to be comforted. ... haps it was not so much love of country It did not turn out that

way,

of

course. as personal destiny, for Mr. Spokesly Indeed, his first experience on arrival had a very real belief in his destiny. was of an England of brisk, determined Here again his greatness, which was, of young women, making munitions, clipcourse, the warp and woof of his destiny, ping tickets, and conducting street cars, showed a pattern of perplexing intricacy. and he was angered at the unwomanliHe regarded himself with approval. He ness of it all. Woman's place, he had was putting on weight. A vigorous man always believed, was in the harem. He of thirty-odd, coming thousands of miles had held, when lying in his hammock across the ocean to fight for his country! out East and lazily reading the home He read the roll of honor each week in news of suffrage riots, that the governthe papers

that met them on the home ment “ought to have tied some of 'em ward voyage, and the page blurred as he up and 'orsewhipped 'em.” But he left gazed through it into the future. You the metropolis behind as soon as posmight almost, he reflected, count out sible, and went down to stay with his those who were wounded and missing as family at Twickenham. And it was here, well! Whether he had ever had any on a perfect day in late autumn, that genuine intention of becoming a soldier Ada Rivers, living with her married sisI do not know. He had a remarkably ter at Richmond, brought balm to his strong instinct of self-preservation, but wounded spirit. then, many soldiers have that.

From the very first day, spent in a As the liner neared home, however, punt at Kingston, she had struck the Mr. Spokesly's thoughts centered more right note of adoration. He had been and more truly about himself and his telling her how his last ship had been immediate future. The seraglios he had sunk by the Emden, and was going on to quitted in Singapore and Kobé and say he had providentially left her just Rangoon were, in his own words, "a before, when she broke in ecstatically, thing o' the past.” The time, “the psy "And you went through it, all?" He chological moment,” as he phrased it hesitated for a moment, and she followed without in the least knowing what the this up with: "How glorious! You have word meant, was come when he would been doing your bit!" have to marry, or, at any rate, become She leaned back on the cushions and engaged. He was not, he told himself, gazed at him with shining gray eyes as "pertickler.” He reckoned he could fall he poled her gently along, his large in love with almost anybody who wasn't hairy arms, one of them clasped by a too old or too ugly, and providing always wrist watch, outstretched above her, his that she had “a dot.” He was a stern loose mouth and double chin pendulous believer in a dot, even though he did with the delicious flattery. For she was not know how to pronounce it. Looming a fine girl-he realized that immediately behind the steep hill leading to a com his sister had introduced him. She made mand were the happy mountain valleys him feel his masculinity. He liked to of a comfortable independence. To think afterward of how deliberately he marry money! Now he came to think of had made his choice. it, it had been the pervading ambition He floated for a time in a dream of of his life. And here was his chance. He sensuous delight, for she was one of pulled down his vest and settled his tie those girls who will obey orders, who like as he thought of the golden future before orders, in fact, and whose proud subhim. He had a vision of an England servience sends a thrill of supreme pleas

ure through the minds of their com The London School of Mnemonics, manders. They were soon engaged. however, did the trick. It was just what

There was not so much difference he wanted. This school had a wonderful between this courtship and that of system of memory training which was an average iceman as one might sup indorsed by kings and emperors, merpose. Mr. Spokesly's emotional out chant princes and famous mezzoput so far had been, if I may say so, sopranos. By means of this system, limited. But this was all grist to Ada's learned in twelve lessons, you trebled mill. It was put down to the strong, your intellectual power, quadrupled your deep, English sailor nature, just as his earning power, and quintupled your genprimitive methods of wooing were cred- eral value to yourself and to the world. ited to the bluff English sailor nature. The system was comprised in twelve She was under an illusion all the time. books of aphorisms, slim volumes in All that her married sister could say was gray-green paper covers, daintily printed useless. The married sister was married and apparently addressed straight to to a man who was a woman tamer him Mr. Spokesly's heart. First, he was self in a way. He was now at the front, told he was capable of anything. He where he had won a medal for extraor knew that, and with an almost physdinary bravery, and his wife was dreading ical feeling of pleasure he read on. the day of his return. She used the inter- Second came a little story about a celval of peace and quiet to warn her sister. ebrated philosopher. Mr. Spokesly was But who can fight against an illusion? charmed. The married sister had to shrug her It must not be supposed, however, shoulders and point out that Mr. that this was all buncombe to Mr. Spokesly was throwing himself away on Spokesly. It was, on the contrary, a silly chit. She admired Mr. Spokesly deadly earnest. Like many Englishmen herself, to tell the truth, and liked to of his day, he knew there was something have him in the house, where he was wrong with him. He was aware of peooften to be found during his six weeks' ple in the world who used their brains vacation. It was she who told him his and held clear notions about things and was "a man's work” in a low contralto ideas, very much as a man groping along voice with a thrill in it. This was really a foggy street is aware of a conversazione unfair to the husband in Flanders, who in one of the mansions. To him the had displayed extraordinary bravery in London School of Mnemonics was a holding an isolated post for goodness sound commercial proposition. In knows how many hours. It would not twelve lessons, by correspondence, they do to assert that Mr. Spokesly ever offered to develop his memory, stimulate played with the idea of consoling a possi- his will power, and increase his salary. ble widow who already admired him. He had picked up the first half dozen He had not sufficient imagination for pamphlets in his fiancée's home. The this. And Ada herself was quite able to husband of the married sister had taken hold up her end. She made Mr. Spokesly the course as far as Number Six, which feel not only great, but good. It was she was, “How to Dominate Your Friends," who led him to see where his weakness with a chatty essay on hypnotism and lay, a success possible only to a clever matrimony, before leaving for Flanders girl. Unconscious of her promptings, he and glory. Mr. Spokesly read them with came to the conclusion that, to do him an avidity unknown to him since he had self justice, he must make an effort and spent a month in London many years “improve his eddication.” When he before, studying for his master's license. heard the sisters rattling away in a for- He felt on the highroad to success. He eign tongue he made a mental note that joined the London School of Mnemonics. "he must rub up his French."

He bought an engagement ring for Ada

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