Read CHAPTER VII. of The Pace That Kills A Chronicle , free online book, by Edgar Saltus, on

When Roland and Justine re-entered the drawing-room that afternoon they found Mr. Dunellen there.  With him was Guy Thorold.

During the infant days of photography family groups were so much in vogue that anyone with an old album in reach can find them there in plenty.  They are faded, no doubt; the cut of the garments is absurd; even the faces seem to have that antique look which is peculiar to the miniatures of people dead and departed:  yet the impression they convey is admirably exalting.  That gentleman in the wonderful coat must have been magnificent in every sphere of life:  his mere pose, his attitude, is convincing as a memoir.  And that lady in the camel’s-hair shawl ­how bewitchingly lovable she surely was!  There is her daughter, who might be her niece, so prettily does she seem inclined to behave; and there is the son, a trifle effaced perhaps, yet with the makings of a man manifest even in that effacement.  Oh, good people! let us hope you were really as amiable as you look:  the picture is all we have of you; even your names are forgot; and truly it were discomforting to have the impression you convey disturbed in its slightest suggestion.  We love you best as you are; we prefer you so.  I, for one, will have none of that cynicism which hints that had a snap camera caught you unprepared the charm would disappear.

Yet now, in the present instance, as Mr. Dunellen and his nephew stood facing Roland and Justine, a photographer who had happened there could have taken a family group which would in no manner have resembled those which our albums hold.

“I told you last night,” Mr. Dunellen was shrieking, “that I forbade you to see that man.”

And Justine, raising her veil, answered, “He was not my husband then.”

“Husband!” The old man stared at his daughter, his face distorted and livid with rage.  “If you ­”

But whatever threat he may have intended to make, Thorold interrupted.

“He is married already,” he cried; “he is no more your husband than I.”

At this announcement Mr. Dunellen let an arm he had outstretched fall to his side; he turned to Thorold, and Justine looked wonderingly in Roland’s face.

“What does he mean?” she asked.

Roland shrugged his shoulders, “God knows,” he answered.  “He must be screwed.”

“You are married,” Thorold called out.  “You needn’t attempt to deny it here.”

“I don’t in the least:  this lady has just done me the honor to become my wife.”

“But you have another ­you told me so yourself.”

Roland, who had been really perplexed, could not now conceal a smile.  He remembered that he had indeed told Thorold he was married, but he had done so merely as an easy way of diverting the suspicions which that gentleman displayed.

Justine, still looking at him, caught the smile.

“Why don’t you speak?” she asked.

“What is there to say?” he answered.  “It is false as an obituary.”

“Then tell him so.”

But for that there was no time.  Mr. Dunellen, trained in procedure, had already questioned Thorold, and found that save Mistrial’s word he had nothing to grapple on.

“Leave the house, sir,” he shouted, and pointed to the door.

“When he goes, father, I go too.”

“Then go.”  And raising his arms above his head as though to invoke the testimony of heaven, he bawled at her, “I disown you.”

“There’s Christian forbearance,” muttered Mistrial; and he might have asserted as much, but Justine had lowered her veil.

“Come,” she said.

And as she and her husband passed from the room the old man roared impotently “I disinherit you ­you are no longer my child.”

“Didn’t you tell me he had been used to having his own way?” Roland asked, as he put Justine in the cab; and without waiting for an answer he told the driver to go to the Brunswick, and took a seat at her side.

In certain crises the beauty of an old adage asserts itself even to the stupidest.  Roland had taken the bull by the horns and got tossed for his pains; yet even while he was in the air he kept assuring himself that he would land on his feet.  The next morning the memory of the old man’s anger affected him not at all.  Passion, he knew, burns itself out, and its threats subside into ashes.  The relentless parent was a spectacle with which the stage had made him so familiar that he needed no prompter’s book to tell him that when the curtain fell it would be on a tableau of awaited forgiveness.  And even though Mr. Dunellen and the traditional father might differ, yet on the subject of wills and bequests he understood that the legislature had in its wisdom prevented a testator from devising more than one-half his property to the detriment of kith and of kin.  If things came to the worst Justine would get five million instead of ten; and five million, though not elastic enough, as Jones had said, to entertain with, still represented an income that sufficed for the necessaries of life.  On that score his mind was at rest.  Moreover, it was manifestly impossible for Justine’s father to live forever:  there was an odor of fresh earth about him which to his own keen nostrils long since had betokened the grave; and if meanwhile he chose to keep the purse-strings drawn, Justine had enough from her mother’s estate to last till the strings were loosed.

Rents are high in New York, and to those bred in certain of its manors there is a choice between urban palaces and suburban flats.  But Paris is less fastidious.  In that lovely city a thousand-franc note need not be spent in a day; and in Italy the possibilities of the lira are great.

In view of these things, Roland and his wife one week later took ship and sailed for France.