Please contact "service at changelingpress. Keep it on the Razor's Edge! Is it perfect sense to run back to he who tortures you My master awakened dark desires, and I am the perfect seasoning for this hunger that consumes us. Forbidden loves and forbidden lands, three men search to bind to the ones who rule their hearts. When love rains down, childhood friends meet to see what's possible when the past is washed away. The Russian goalie needs to be punished for his misdeeds before he can get back on track.
Andromeda's been missing something in her life. He asked me where I was staying and in a day or two I received another invitation to lunch, this time at his apartment; when I arrived I was surprised to see that it was a party of considerable distinction. I giggled to myself. I knew that with his perfect sense of social relations he had realized that in English society as an author I was not of much account, but that in France, where an author just because he is an author has prestige, I was. During the years that followed our acquaintance became fairly intimate without ever developing into friendship.
I doubt whether it was possible for Elliott Templeton to be a friend. He took no interest in people apart from their social position. When I chanced to be in Paris or he in London, he continued to ask me to parties when he wanted an extra man or was obliged to entertain travelling Americans. Some of these were, I suspected, old clients and some were strangers sent to him with letters of introduction. They were the cross of his life. He felt he had to do something for them and yet was unwilling to have them meet his grand friends. The best way of disposing of them of course was to give them dinner and take them to a play, but that was often difficult when he was engaged every evening for three weeks ahead, and also he had an inkling that they would scarcely be satisfied with that.
Since I was an author and so of little consequence he didn't mind telling me his troubles on this matter. It's not that I'm not delighted to see the people who are sent to me, but I really don't see why I should inflict them on my friends. He sought to make amends by sending them great baskets of roses and huge boxes of chocolate, but sometimes he had to do more. So and So is a very cultivated woman and she's read every word you've written. So and So would then tell me she'd so much enjoyed my book Mr.
Perrin and Mr. Traill and congratulate me on my play The Mollusc. If I have given the reader an impression that Elliott Templeton was a despicable character I have done him an injustice. He was for one thing what the French call serviable , a word for which, so far as I know, there is no exact equivalent in English. The dictionary tells one that serviceable in the sense of helpful, obliging and kind is archaic. That is just what Elliott was.
He was generous, and though early in his career he had doubtless showered flowers, candy and presents on his acquaintances from an ulterior motive, he continued to do so when it was no longer necessary. It caused him pleasure to give. He was hospitable. His chef was as good as any in Paris and you could be sure at his table of having set before you the earliest delicacies of the season. His wine proved the excellence of his judgment. It is true that his guests were chosen for their social importance rather than because they were good company, but he took care to invite at least one or two for their powers of entertainment, so that his parties were almost always amusing.
People laughed at him behind his back and called him a filthy snob, but nevertheless accepted his invitations with alacrity.
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His French was fluent and correct and his accent perfect. He had taken great pains to adopt the manner of speech as it is spoken in England and you had to have a very sensitive ear to catch now and then an American intonation. He was a good talker if only you could keep him off the subject of dukes and duchesses, but even about them, now that his position was unassailable, he allowed himself, especially when you were alone with him, to be amusing.
He had a pleasantly malicious tongue and there was no scandal about these exalted personages that did not reach his ears. From him I learnt who was the father of the Princess X's last child and who was the mistress of the Marquis de Y. I don't believe even Marcel Proust knew more of the inner life of the aristocracy than Elliott Templeton. When I was in Paris we used often to lunch together, sometimes at his apartment and sometimes at a restaurant. I like to wander about the antiquity shops, occasionally to buy but more often to look, and Elliott was always enchanted to go with me.
He had knowledge and a real love of beautiful objects. I think he knew every shop of the kind in Paris and was on familiar terms with the proprietor. He adored haggling and when we started out would say to me:. Just give me a hint and let me do the rest. He would be delighted when he had got for me something I fancied for half the asking price.
It was a treat to watch him bargain. He would argue, cajole, lose his temper, appeal to the seller's better nature, ridicule him, point out the defects of the object in question, threaten never to cross his threshold again, sigh, shrug his shoulders, admonish, start for the door in frowning anger and when finally he had won his point shake his head sadly as though he accepted defeat with resignation. Then he would whisper to me in English:. Elliott was a zealous Catholic. He was a great diner out and a noted wit.
He confined his ministrations to the rich and the aristocratic. She told me that she thought you highly intelligent. Elliott flushed with pleasure. He had been presented to Her Royal Highness, but it had never occurred to him that she would give him a second thought.
He made the Church seem to Elliott very like a select club that a well-bred man owed it to himself to belong to. Six months later he was received into it. His conversion, combined with the generosity he showed in his contributions to Catholic charities, opened several doors that had been closed to him before. It may be that his motives in abandoning the faith of his fathers were mixed, but there could be no doubt of his devoutness when he had done so.
He attended Mass every Sunday at the church frequented by the best people, went to confession regularly and made periodical visits to Rome. In course of time he was rewarded for his piety by being made a papal chamberlain, and the assiduity with which he performed the duties of his office was rewarded by the order of, I think, the Holy Sepulchre. His career as a Catholic was in fact no less successful than his career as an homme du monde.
I often asked myself what was the cause of the snobbishness that obsessed this man who was so intelligent, so kindly and so cultivated. He was no upstart. His father had been president of one of the southern universities and his grandfather a divine of some eminence. Elliott was too clever not to see that many of the persons who accepted his invitations did so only to get a free meal and that of these some were stupid and some worthless. The glamour of their resounding titles blinded him to their faults.
FREEDOM TO DESIGN AND BUILD
I can only guess that to be on terms of intimate familiarity with these gentlemen of ancient lineage, to be the faithful retainer of their ladies gave him a sensation of triumph that never palled; and I think that at the back of it all was a passionate romanticism that led him to see in the weedy little French duke the crusader who had gone to the Holy Land with Saint Louis and in the blustering, fox-hunting English earl the ancestor who had attended Henry the Eighth to the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
In the company of such as these he felt that he lived in a spacious and gallant past. I think when he turned the pages of the Almanach de Gotha his heart beat warmly as one name after another brought back to him recollections of old wars, historic sieges and celebrated duels, diplomatic intrigues and the love affairs of kings. Such anyhow was Elliott Templeton. I was having a wash and a brush up before starting out to go to the luncheon Elliott had invited me to when they rang up from the desk to say that he was below. I was a little surprised, but as soon as I was ready went down. He had the feeling I have noticed in some Americans who have lived many years abroad that America is a difficult and even dangerous place in which the European cannot safely be left to find his way about by himself.
There was a slight nip in the air, but not a cloud in the sky, and it was pleasant to stretch one's legs.
It's not a big party, you know. Only my sister and her daughter Isabel and Gregory Brabazon. My sister's house is awful, and Isabel and I want her to have it done over. I happened to hear that Gregory was in Chicago and so I got her to ask him to lunch today. He's not quite a gentleman, of course, but he has taste. Clement Talbot for the St. The duchess was delighted with him. You'll see Louisa's house for yourself. How she can have lived in it all these years I shall never understand.
For the matter of that how she can live in Chicago I shall never understand either. It appeared that Mrs. Bradley was a widow with three children, two sons and a daughter; but the sons were much older and married. One was in a government post in the Philippines and the other, in the diplomatic service as his father had been, was at Buenos Aires. Bradley's husband had occupied posts in various parts of the world, and after being first secretary in Rome for some years was made minister to one of the republics on the west coast of South America and had there died.
It had been in the Bradley family for quite a long while. The Bradleys are one of the oldest families in Illinois. They came from Virginia in and took up land about sixty miles from what is now Chicago. They still own it. I'm not sure whether you know, but about the middle of last century, when the Middle West began to be opened up, quite a number of Virginians, younger sons of good family, you know, were tempted by the lure of the unknown to leave the fleshpots of their native state.
My brother-in-law's father, Chester Bradley, saw that Chicago had a future and entered a law office here. At all events he made enough money to leave his son very adequately provided for. Elliott's manner, rather than his words, suggested that perhaps it was not quite the thing for the late Chester Bradley to have left the stately mansion and the broad acres he had inherited to enter an office, but the fact that he had amassed a fortune at least partly compensated for it.
Elliott was none too pleased when on a later occasion Mrs. Bradley showed me some snapshots of what he called their "place" in the country, and I saw a modest frame house with a pretty little garden, but with a barn and a cowhouse and hog pens within a stone's throw, surrounded by a desolate waste of flat fields. I couldn't help thinking that Mr. Chester Bradley knew what he was about when he abandoned this to make his way in the city.
Presently we hailed a taxi. It put us down before a brownstone house, narrow and rather high, and you ascended to the front door by a flight of steep steps. It was in a row of houses, in a street that led off Lake Shore Drive, and its appearance, even on that bright autumn day, was so drab that you wondered how anyone could feel any sentiment about it. The door was opened by a tall and stout Negro butler with white hair, and we were ushered into the drawing-room. Bradley got up from her chair as we came in and Elliott presented me to her. She must have been a handsome woman when young, for her features, though on the large side, were good and she had fine eyes.
But her sallowish face, almost aggressively destitute of make-up, had sagged and it was plain that she had lost the battle with the corpulence of middle age. I surmised that she was unwilling to accept defeat, for when she sat down she sat very erect in a straight-backed chair which the cruel armour of her corsets doubtless made more comfortable than an upholstered one.
She wore a blue gown, heavily braided, and her high collar was stiff with whalebone. She had a fine head of white hair tightly marcelled and intricately dressed. Her other guest had not arrived and while waiting for him we talked of one thing and another. Such a very nice woman. She was so kind to us when we were in Rome. Bradley was first secretary. Why didn't you go and see her? You're not like Elliott, so black that you can't go to the Quirinal?
Bradley expostulated, as though it were very hoity-toity of me not to know that royal personage. Gregory Brabazon, notwithstanding his name, was not a romantic creature. He was a short, very fat man, as bald as an egg except for a ring of black curly hair round his ears and at the back of his neck, with a red, naked face that looked as though it were on the point of breaking out into a violent sweat, quick gray eyes, sensual lips and a heavy jowl. He was an Englishman and I had sometimes met him at bohemian parties in London. He was very jovial, very hearty and laughed a great deal, but you didn't have to be a great judge of character to know that his noisy friendliness was merely cover for a very astute man of business.
He had been for some years the most successful decorator in London. He had a great booming voice and little fat hands that were wonderfully expressive. With telling gestures, with a spate of excited words he could thrill the imagination of a doubting client so that it was almost impossible to withhold the order he seemed to make it a favour to accept. Evil communications corrupt good manners. She said it good-naturedly enough, but with a decision that suggested to me that she was a woman of character and I suspected from the look she gave him, amused but shrewd, that she had no illusions about him.
I wondered what she would make of Gregory Brabazon. I had caught the professional look he gave the room as he came in and the involuntary lifting of his bushy eyebrows. It was indeed an amazing room. The paper on the walls, the cretonne of the curtains and on the upholstered furniture were of the same pattern; on the walls were oil paintings in massive gold frames that the Bradleys had evidently bought when they were in Rome. Virgins of the school of Raphael, Virgins of the school of Guido Reni, landscapes of the school of Zuccarelli, ruins of the school of Pannini.
There was a Chippendale writing-table and a marquetry vitrine. The lampshades were of white silk on which some ill-advised artist had painted shepherds and shepherdesses in Watteau costumes. It was hideous and yet, I don't know why, agreeable. It had a homely, lived-in air and you felt that that incredible jumble had a significance. All those incongruous objects belonged together because they were part of Mrs.
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Bradley's life. We had just finished our cocktails when the door was flung open and a girl came in, followed by a boy. I've been crazy to meet you. I love what you've done for Clementine Dormer. Isn't this room terrible? I've been trying to get Mamma to do something about it for years and now you're in Chicago it's our chance.
Tell me honestly what you think of it. I knew that was the last thing Brabazon would do. He gave Mrs. Bradley a quick glance, but her impassive face told him nothing. He decided that Isabel was the person who counted and broke into a boisterous laugh. Isabel was a tall girl with the oval face, straight nose, fine eyes and full mouth that appeared to be characteristic of the family. She was comely though on the fat side, which I ascribed to her age, and I guessed that she would fine down as she grew older. She had strong, good hands, though they also were a trifle fat, and her legs, displayed by her short skirt, were fat too.
She had a good skin and a high colour, which exercise and the drive back in an open car had doubtless heightened. She was sparkling and vivacious. Her radiant health, her playful gaiety, her enjoyment of life, the happiness you felt in her were exhilarating. She was so natural that she made Elliott, for all his elegance, look rather tawdry.
Her freshness made Mrs. Bradley, with her pasty, lined face, look tired and old. We went down to lunch. Gregory Brabazon blinked when he saw the dining-room. The walls were papered with a dark red paper that imitated stuff and hung with portraits of grim, sour-faced men and women, very badly painted, who were the immediate forbears of the late Mr. He was there, too, with a heavy moustache, very stiff in a frock coat and a white starched collar.
Bradley, painted by a French artist of the nineties, hung over the chimney piece in full evening dress of pale blue satin with pearls round her neck and a diamond star in her hair. With one bejewelled hand she fingered a lace scarf so carefully painted that you could count every stitch and with the other negligently held an ostrich-feather fan. The furniture, of black oak, was overwhelming. Bradley's father.
It's been all over the world with us. Lisbon, Peking, Quito, Rome. Dear Queen Margherita admired it very much. The three of them began to discuss how they would treat the room. Elliott was all for Louis Quinze, while Isabel wanted a refectory table and Italian chairs. Brabazon thought Chippendale would be more in keeping with Mrs. Bradley's personality.
So the conversation went on. Bradley listened, but you could not tell what she was thinking. I said little and Isabel's young man, Larry, I'd forgotten his surname, said nothing at all. He was sitting on the other side of the table between Brabazon and Elliott and every now and then I glanced at him. He looked very young. He was about the same height as Elliott, just under six feet, thin and loose-limbed. He was a pleasant-looking boy, neither handsome nor plain, rather shy and in no way remarkable. I was interested in the fact that though, so far as I could remember, he hadn't said half a dozen words since entering the house, he seemed perfectly at ease and in a curious way appeared to take part in the conversation without opening his mouth.
I noticed his hands. They were long, but not large for his size, beautifully shaped and at the same time strong. I thought that a painter would be pleased to paint them. He was slightly built but not delicate in appearance; on the contrary I should have said he was wiry and resistant. His face, grave in repose, was tanned, but otherwise there was little colour in it, and his features, though regular enough, were undistinguished.
He had rather high cheekbones and his temples were hollow. He had dark brown hair with a slight wave in it. His eyes looked larger than they really were because they were deep-set in the orbits and his lashes were thick and long. His eyes were peculiar, not of the rich hazel that Isabel shared with her mother and her uncle, but so dark that the iris made one colour with the pupil and this gave them a peculiar intensity.
He had a natural grace that was attractive and I could see why Isabel had been taken by him. Now and again her glance rested on him for a moment and I seemed to see in her expression not only love but fondness. Their eyes met and there was in his a tenderness that was beautiful to see. There is nothing more touching than the sight of young love, and I, a middle-aged man then, envied them, but at the same time, I couldn't imagine why, I felt sorry for them. It was silly because, so far as I knew, there was no impediment to their happiness; their circumstances seemed easy and there was no reason why they should not marry and live happily ever afterwards.
Isabel, Elliott and Gregory Brabazon went on talking of the redecoration of the house, trying to get out of Mrs. Bradley at least an admission that something should be done, but she only smiled amiably. I want to have time to think it over. His question was so much to the point and so sensible that it made me laugh. He looked at me then and smiled. But he only grinned the more, and I noticed then that he had small and white and regular teeth. There was something in the look he gave Isabel that made her flush and catch her breath.
Unless I was mistaken she was madly in love with him, but I don't know what it was that gave me the feeling that in her love for him there was also something maternal. It was a little unexpected in so young a girl. With a soft smile on her lips she directed her attention once more to Gregory Brabazon. He's very stupid and entirely uneducated. He doesn't know anything about anything except flying. Much too young. He behaved very badly. He ran away from school and went to Canada.
By lying his head off he got them to believe he was eighteen and got into the air corps. He was fighting in France at the time of the armistice. The competition was awful. Luncheon was finished and soon after Elliott and I left. I had told him before that I was going to the museum to look at the pictures and he said he would take me. I don't particularly like going to a gallery with anyone else, but I could not say I would sooner go alone and so accepted his company.
On our way we spoke of Isabel and Larry. She's nineteen and he's only just twenty. He hasn't got a job. He has a tiny income, three thousand a year Louisa tells me, and Louisa's not a rich woman by any manner of means. She needs all she has. He's quite well-born and all that sort of thing. His father came from Baltimore. He was assistant professor of Romance languages at Yale or something like that. His mother was a Philadelphian of old Quaker stock. He was brought up by an old college friend of his father's who's a doctor at Marvin. That's how Louisa and Isabel knew him.
Louisa spends the summer there. She was sorry for the child. Nelson's a bachelor and didn't know the first thing about bringing up a boy.
It was Louisa who insisted that he should be sent to St. Paul's and she always had him out here for his Christmas vacation. We had now arrived at the museum and our attention was directed to the pictures. Once more I was impressed by Elliott's knowledge and taste. He shepherded me around the rooms as though I were a group of tourists, and no professor of art could have discoursed more instructively than he did. Making up my mind to come again by myself when I could wander at will and have a good time, I submitted; after a while he looked at his watch.
That is as long as one's power of appreciation persists. We will finish another day. I thanked him warmly when we separated. I went my way perhaps a wiser but certainly a peevish man. When I was saying good-bye to Mrs. Bradley she told me that next day Isabel was having a few of her young friends in to dinner and they were going on to dance afterwards and if I would come Elliott and I could have a talk when they had gone. He doesn't seem able to find anyone he has anything in common with. It's the only place in the world for a civilized man to live. My dear fellow, d'you know how they look upon me here?
They look upon me as a freak. The following evening, having refused Elliott's telephoned offer to fetch me, I arrived quite safely at Mrs. Bradley's house. I had been delayed by someone who had come to see me and was a trifle late. So much noise came from the sitting-room as I walked upstairs that I thought it must be a large party and I was surprised to find that there were, including myself, only twelve people.
Bradley was very grand in green satin with a dog collar of seed pearls round her neck, and Elliott in his well-cut dinner jacket looked elegant as he alone could look. When he shook hands with me my nostrils were assailed by all the perfumes of Arabia. I was introduced to a stoutish, tall man with a red face who looked somewhat ill at ease in evening clothes. He was a Dr. Nelson, but at the moment that meant nothing to me.
The rest of the party consisted of Isabel's friends, but their names escaped me as soon as I heard them. The girls were young and pretty and the men young and upstanding. None of them made any impression on me except one boy and that only because he was so tall and so massive. He must have been six foot three or four and he had great broad shoulders. Isabel was looking very pretty; she was dressed in white silk, with a long, hobbled skirt that concealed her fat legs; the cut of her frock showed that she had well-developed breasts; her bare arms were a trifle fat, but her neck was lovely.
She was excited and her fine eyes sparkled. There was no doubt about it, she was a very pretty and desirable young woman, but it was obvious that unless she took care she would develop an unbecoming corpulence. At dinner I found myself placed between Mrs. Bradley and a shy drab girl who seemed even younger than the others. As we sat down, to make the way easier Mrs. Bradley explained that her grandparents lived at Marvin and that she and Isabel had been at school together. Her name, the only one I heard mentioned, was Sophie. A lot of chaff was bandied across the table, everyone talked at the top of his voice and there was a great deal of laughter.
They seemed to know one another very well. When I was not occupied with my hostess I attempted to make conversation with my neighbor, but I had no great success. She was quieter than the rest. She was not pretty, but she had an amusing face, with a little tilted nose, a wide mouth and greenish blue eyes; her hair, simply done, was of a sandy brown. She was very thin and her chest was almost as flat as a boy's. She laughed at the badinage that went on, but in a manner that was a little forced so that you felt she wasn't as much amused as she pretended to be.
I guessed that she was making an effort to be a good sport.
I could not make out if she was a trifle stupid or only painfully timid and, having tried various topics of conversation only to have them dropped, for want of anything better to say I asked her to tell me who all the people at table were. Nelson," she said, indicating the middle-aged man who was opposite me on Mrs. Bradley's other side. He's our doctor at Marvin. He's very clever, he invents gadgets for planes that no one will have anything to do with and when he isn't doing that he drinks. There was a gleam in her pale eyes as she said this that made me suspect that there was more in her than I had at first supposed.
She went on to give me the names of one young thing after another, who their parents were, and in the case of the men what college they had been to and what work they did. It wasn't very illuminating. Oh, that's Gray Maturin. His father's got an enormous house on the river at Marvin. He's our millionaire. We're very proud of him. He gives us class. Maturin, Hobbes, Rayner and Smith. He's one of the richest men in Chicago and Gray's his only son.
She put such a pleasant irony into that list of names that I gave her an inquisitive glance. She caught it and flushed. He's rich. He's highly respected. He built us a new church at Marvin and he's given a million dollars to the University of Chicago. You'd never think his grandfather was shanty Irish and his grandmother a Swedish waitress in an eating house. Gray Maturin was striking rather than handsome.
He had a rugged, unfinished look; a short blunt nose, a sensual mouth and the florid Irish complexion; a great quantity of raven black hair, very sleek, and under heavy eyebrows clear, very blue eyes. Though built on so large a scale he was finely proportioned, and stripped he must have been a fine figure of a man. He was obviously very powerful. His virility was impressive. He made Larry who was sitting next to him, though only three or four inches shorter, look puny.
But they haven't a chance. I was not sure whether she said this in all seriousness or whether there was in her tone a hint of mockery. There was nothing saucy in her manner, forward or pert, and yet I got the impression that she was lacking neither in humour nor in shrewdness. I wondered what she was really thinking while she made conversation with me, but that I knew I should never find out. She was obviously unsure of herself and I conceived the notion that she was an only child who had lived a secluded life with people a great deal older than herself. There was a modesty, an unobtrusiveness about her that I found engaging, but if I was right in thinking that she had lived much alone I guessed that she had quietly observed the older persons she lived with and had formed decided opinions upon them.
We who are of mature age seldom suspect how unmercifully and yet with what insight the very young judge us. I looked again into her greenish blue eyes. But before she could answer, Mrs. Bradley, attentive to her duties as a hostess, drew me to her with some remark and before I could disengage myself dinner was at an end. The young people went off at once to wherever they were going and the four of us who were left went up to the sitting-room. I was surprised that I had been asked to this party, for after a little desultory conversation they began to talk of a matter that I should have thought they would have preferred to discuss in private.
I could not make up my mind whether it would be more discreet in me to get up and go or whether, as a disinterested audience of one, I was useful to them. The question at issue was Larry's odd disinclination to go to work, and it had been brought to a point by an offer from Mr. Maturin, the father of the boy who had been at dinner, to take him into his office. It was a fine opportunity. With ability and industry Larry could look forward to making in due course a great deal of money.
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Young Gray Maturin was eager for him to take it. I cannot remember all that was said, but the gist of it is clear in my memory. On Larry's return from France Dr. Nelson, his guardian, had suggested that he should go to college, but he had refused. It was natural that he should want to do nothing for a while; he had had a hard time and had been twice, though not severely, wounded. Nelson thought that he was still suffering from shock and it seemed a good idea that he should rest till he had completely recovered. But the weeks passed into months and now it was over a year since he'd been out of uniform.
It appeared that he had done well in the air corps and on his return he cut something of a figure in Chicago, the result of which was that several businessmen offered him positions. He thanked them, but refused. He gave no reason except that he hadn't made up his mind what he wanted to do. He became engaged to Isabel. This was no surprise to Mrs. Bradley since they had been inseparable for years and she knew that Isabel was in love with him. She was fond of him and thought he would make Isabel happy.
Though they were both so young Mrs. Bradley was quite willing that they should marry at once, but she wasn't prepared that they should do so until Larry had gone to work. He had a little money of his own, but even if he had had ten times more than he had she would have insisted on this. So far as I could gather, what she and Elliott wished to find out from Dr. Nelson was what Larry intended to do. These spaceships, temporary havens, are the new Eden for humans venturing out to seek a new home. Create a home for your chosen crew, manage their wounds, needs and challenges as you aim to create a haven among stars.
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