Arms and the Woman (Chapter 6, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 6

During the first year of my residence in London there happened few
events worth chronicling. Shortly after my arrival Hillars
disappeared. His two months' vacation stretched into twelve, and I was
directed to remain in London. As I knew that Hillars did not wish to
be found I made no inquiries. He was somewhere on the Continent, but
where no one knew. At one time a letter dated at St. Petersburg
reached me, and at another time I was informed of his presence at Monte
Carlo. In neither letter was there any mention of her Serene Highness,
the Princess Hildegarde of Hohenphalia. Since the night he recounted
the adventure the wayward Princess had never become the topic of
conversation. I grew hopeful enough to believe that he had forgotten
her. Occasionally I received a long letter from Phyllis. I always
promptly answered it. To any one but me her letters would have proved
interesting reading. It was not for what she wrote that I cared, it
was the mere fact that she wrote. A man cannot find much pleasure in
letters which begin with "Dear friend," and end with "Yours sincerely,"
when they come from the woman he loves.

In the preceding autumn I completed my first novel. I carried it
around to publishers till I grew to hate it as one hates a Nemesis, and
when finally I did place it, it was with a publisher who had just
started in business and was necessarily obscure. I bowed politely to
my dreams of literary fame and became wholly absorbed in my
journalistic work. When the book came out I could not but admire the
excellence of the bookmaking, but as I looked through the reviews and
found no mention save in "books received," I threw the book aside and
vowed that it should be my last. The publisher wrote me that he was
surprised that the book had not caught on, as he considered the story
unusually clever. "Merit is one thing," he said, "but luck is
another." I have found this to be true, not only in literature, but in
all walks of life where fame and money are the goals. Phyllis wrote me
that she thought the book "just splendid"; but I took her praise with a
grain of salt, it being likely that she was partial to the author, and
that the real worth of the book was little in comparison with the fact
that it was I who wrote it.

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