A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Produced by Janet Kegg and the Project Online Distributed
Proofreading Team







[Illustration: frontispiece]


ROMANCE ISLAND


By

ZONA GALE


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
HERMANN C. WALL



INDIANAPOLIS
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
1906





"Who that remembers the first kind glance of her
whom he loves can fail to believe in magic?"
--NOVALIS




CONTENTS


CHAPTER
I DINNER TIME
II A SCRAP OF PAPER
III ST. GEORGE AND THE LADY
IV THE PRINCE OF FAR-AWAY
V OLIVIA PROPOSES
VI TWO LITTLE MEN
VII DUSK, AND SO ON
VIII THE PORCH OF THE MORNING
IX THE LADY OF KINGDOMS
X TYRIAN PURPLE
XI THE END OF THE EVENING
XII BETWEEN-WORLDS
XIII THE LINES LEAD UP
XIV THE ISLE OF HEARTS
XV A VIGIL
XVI GLAMOURIE
XVII BENEATH THE SURFACE
XVIII A MORNING VISIT
XIX IN THE HALL OF KINGS
XX OUT OF THE HALL OF KINGS
XXI OPEN SECRETS




ROMANCE ISLAND




CHAPTER I

DINNER TIME


As _The Aloha_ rode gently to her buoy among the crafts in the
harbour, St. George longed to proclaim in the megaphone's monstrous
parody upon capital letters:

"Cat-boats and house-boats and yawls, look here. You're bound to
observe that this is my steam yacht. I own her--do you see? She
belongs to me, St. George, who never before owned so much as a piece
of rope."

Instead--mindful, perhaps, that "a man should not communicate his
own glorie"--he stepped sedately down to the trim green skiff and
was rowed ashore by a boy who, for aught that either knew, might
three months before have jostled him at some ill-favoured lunch
counter. For in America, dreams of gold--not, alas, golden
dreams--do prevalently come true; and of all the butterfly
happenings in this pleasant land of larvŠ, few are so spectacular as
the process by which, without warning, a man is converted from a
toiler and bearer of loads to a taker of his _bien_. However, to
none, one must believe, is the changeling such gazing-stock as to
himself.

Although countless times, waking and sleeping, St. George had
humoured himself in the outworn pastime of dreaming what he would do
if he were to inherit a million dollars, his imagination had never
marveled its way to the situation's less poignant advantages. Chief
among his satisfactions had been that with which he had lately seen
his mother--an exquisite woman, looking like the old lace and Roman
mosaic pins which she had saved from the wreck of her fortune--set
off for Europe in the exceptional company of her brother, Bishop
Arthur Touchett, gentlest of dignitaries. The bishop, only to look
upon whose portrait was a benediction, had at sacrifice of certain
of his charities seen St. George through college; and it made the
million worth while to his nephew merely to send him to TŘbingen to
set his soul at rest concerning the date of one of the canonical
gospels. Next to the rich delight of planning that voyage, St.
George placed the buying of his yacht.

In the dusty, inky office of the _New York Evening Sentinel_ he had
been wont three months before to sit at a long green table fitting
words about the yachts of others to the dreary music of his
typewriter, the while vaguely conscious of a blur of eight telephone
bells, and the sound of voices used merely to communicate thought
and not to please the ear. In the last three months he had sometimes
remembered that black day when from his high window he had looked
toward the harbour and glimpsed a trim craft of white and brass
slipping to the river's mouth; whereupon he had been seized by such
a passion to work hard and earn a white-and-brass craft of his own
that the story which he was hurrying for the first edition was quite
ruined.

"Good heavens, St. George," Chillingworth, the city editor, had
gnarled, "we don't carry wooden type. And nothing else would set up
this wooden stuff of yours. Where's some snap? Your first paragraph
reads like a recipe. Now put your soul into it, and you've got less
than fifteen minutes to do it in."

St. George recalled that his friend Amory, as "one hackneyed in the
ways of life," had gravely lifted an eyebrow at him, and the new men
had turned different colours at the thought of being addressed like
that before the staff; and St. George had recast the story and had
received for his diligence a New Jersey assignment which had kept
him until midnight. Haunting the homes of the club-women and the
common council of that little Jersey town, the trim white-and-brass
craft slipping down to the river's mouth had not ceased to lure him.
He had found himself estimating the value--in money--of the
bric-Ó-brac of every house, and the self-importance of every
alderman, and reflecting that these people, if they liked, might own
yachts of white and brass; yet they preferred to crouch among the
bric-Ó-brac and to discourse to him of one another's violations and
interferences. By the time that he had reached home that dripping
night and had put captions upon the backs of the unexpectant-looking
photographs which were his trophies, he was in that state of
comparative anarchy to be effected only by imaginative youth and a
disagreeable task.

Next day, suddenly as its sun, had come the news which had
transformed him from a discontented grappler with social problems to
the owner of stocks and bonds and shares in a busy mine and other
things soothing to enumerate. The first thing which he had added
unto these, after the departure of his mother and the bishop, had
been _The Aloha_, which only that day had slipped to the river's
mouth in the view from his old window at the _Sentinel_ office. St.
George had the grace to be ashamed to remember how smoothly the
social ills had adjusted themselves.

Now they were past, those days of feverish work and unexpected
triumph and unaccountable failure; and in the dreariest of them St.
George, dreaming wildly, had not dreamed all the unobvious joys
which his fortune had brought to him. For although he had accurately
painted, for example, the delight of a cruise in a sea-going yacht
of his own, yet to step into his dory in the sunset, to watch _The
Aloha's_ sides shine in the late light as he was rowed ashore past
the lesser crafts in the harbour; to see the man touch his cap and
put back to make the yacht trim for the night, and then to turn his
own face to his apartment where virtually the entire day-staff of
the _Evening Sentinel_ was that night to dine--these were among the
pastimes of the lesser angels which his fancy had never compassed.

A glow of firelight greeted St. George as he entered his apartment,
and the rooms wore a pleasant air of festivity. A table, with covers
for twelve, was spread in the living-room, a fire of cones was
tossing on the hearth, the curtains were drawn, and the sideboard
was a thing of intimation. Rollo, his man--St. George had easily
fallen in all the habits which he had longed to assume--was just
closing the little ice-box sunk behind a panel of the wall, and he
came forward with dignified deference.

"Everything is ready, Rollo?" St. George asked. "No one has
telephoned to beg off?"

"Yes, sir," answered Rollo, "and no, sir."

St. George had sometimes told himself that the man looked like an
oval grey stone with a face cut upon it.

"Is the claret warmed?" St. George demanded, handing his hat. "Did
the big glasses come for the liqueur--and the little ones will set
inside without tipping? Then take the cigars to the den--you'll have
to get some cigarettes for Mr. Provin. Keep up the fire. Light the
candles in ten minutes. I say, how jolly the table looks."

"Yes, sir," returned Rollo, "an' the candles 'll make a great
difference, sir. Candles do give out an air, sir."

One month of service had accustomed St. George to his valet's gift
of the Articulate Simplicity. Rollo's thoughts were doubtless
contrived in the cuticle and knew no deeper operance; but he always
uttered his impressions with, under his mask, an air of keen and
seasoned personal observation. In his first interview with St.
George, Rollo had said: "I always enjoy being kep' busy, sir. _To
me_, the busy man is a grand sight," and St. George had at once
appreciated his possibilities. Rollo was like the fine print in an
almanac.

When the candles were burning and the lights had been turned on in
the little ochre den where the billiard-table stood, St. George
emerged--a well-made figure, his buoyant, clear-cut face accurately
bespeaking both health and cleverness. Of a family represented by
the gentle old bishop and his own exquisite mother, himself
university-bred and fresh from two years' hard, hand-to-hand
fighting to earn an honourable livelihood, St. George, of sound body
and fine intelligence, had that temper of stability within vast
range which goes pleasantly into the mind that meets it. A symbol of
this was his prodigious popularity with those who had been his
fellow-workers--a test beside which old-world traditions of the
urban touchstones are of secondary advantage. It was deeply
significant that in spite of the gulf which Chance had digged the
day-staff of the _Sentinel_, all save two or three of which were not
of his estate, had with flattering alacrity obeyed his summons to
dine. But, as he heard in the hall the voice of Chillingworth, the
difficulty of his task for the first time swept over him. It was
Chillingworth who had advocated to him the need of wooden type to
suit his literary style and who had long ordered and bullied him
about; and how was he to play the host to Chillingworth, not to
speak of the others, with the news between them of that million?

When the bell rang, St. George somewhat gruffly superseded Rollo.

"I'll go," he said briefly, "and keep out of sight for a few
minutes. Get in the bath-room or somewhere, will you?" he added
nervously, and opened the door.

At one stroke Chillingworth settled his own position by dominating
the situation as he dominated the city room. He chose the best chair
and told a good story and found fault with the way the fire burned,
all with immediate ease and abandon.



Pages: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.