The Place of Honeymoons (Chapter 4, page 2 of 11)


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Chapter 4

A grand duchess! The straw-colored mustache now described two aggressive
points. What an impossible old world it was! The ambition of the English
nobility was on a far lower scale than that of their continental cousins.
On the little isle they were satisfied to marry soubrettes and chorus
girls. Here, the lady must be no less a personage than a grand-opera
singer or a première danseuse. The continental noble at least showed
some discernment; he did not choose haphazard; he desired the finished
product and was not to be satisfied with the material in the raw.

Oh, stubborn Dutchman that he had been! Blind fool! To have run away
instead of fighting to the last ditch for his happiness! The Desimone
woman was right: it had taken him a long time to come to the conclusion
that she had done him an ill turn. And during all these weary months he
had drawn a melancholy picture of himself as a wounded lion, creeping into
the jungle to hide its hurts, when, truth be known, he had taken the ways
of the jackass for a model. He saw plainly enough now. More than this,
where there had been mere obstacles to overcome there were now steep
mountains, perhaps inaccessible for all he knew. His jaw set, and the
pressure of his lips broke the sweep of his mustache, converting it into
bristling tufts, warlike and resolute.

As he was leaving, a square of light attracted his attention. He looked up
to see the outline of the bearded Russ in the window. Poor devil! He was
going to have a merry time of it. Well, that was his affair. Besides,
Russians, half the year chilled by their bitter snows, were susceptible to
volcanoes; they courted them as a counterbalance. Perhaps he had spoken
roughly, but his temper had not been under control. One thing he recalled
with grim satisfaction. He had sent a barbed arrow up the tube to disturb
the felicity of the dove-cote. The duke would be rather curious to know
what was meant in referring to the night she had come to his,
Courtlandt's, room. He laughed. It would be a fitting climax indeed if the
duke called him out.

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