BLTC Press Titles

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The Characters of Theophrastus


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

A son of the immortals

by Louis Tracy


Of course he had ascertained Joan's address easily. He made no secret of the fact that he had seen her on her way to the Louvre nearly every day of the twenty that had elapsed since their first meeting. His knowledge of the route she followed advanced quickly until he found out where she lived. He would not have dared to call on her now, if it had not been for the tremendous thing that had happened in his life; for he was sure he would become King of Kosnovia. The art that conceals art is good; but the art that is unconscious of artifice is better, and never had soothsayer arranged more effective preliminaries for astounding prediction than sibyl Joan herself.

Paris, too, might well witness the rising of his star. What other city stages such memorials to inspire ambition? Behind him, as his cab sped down the Champs Elysees, rose the splendid pile of the Arch of Triumph; in front, beyond the Place de la Concorde, the setting sun gilded a smoke blackened fragment that marked the site of the Tuileries; while near at hand the statue of France, grief stricken yet defiant, gazed ever and longingly in the direction of her lost Provinces. Here, within a short mile, stood the silent records of three Empires, founded, as time counts, within a few years. Two were already crumbled to the dust. The survivor, consolidated on the ruins of France, flourished beyond the Rhine.

Perhaps, if read aright, these portents were not wholly favorable to one about to try his luck in that imperial game. But Alec, though a good deal of a democrat at heart, was cheered by the knowledge that so long as the world recognizes the divine right of Kings, no monarch by descent could lay better claim to a throne than he. And he was young, and in love, and ready to believe that youth and love can level mountains, make firm the morass, bridge the ocean.

He wondered how Joan would take his great news. He thought he could guess her attitude. At first she would urge him to forget that such a person as Joan Vernon existed. Then he would plead that she was asking that which was not only impossible but utterly unheroic. And the minutes were flying. He would remind her that time does not wait even for Kings, nor would the Orient Express delay its departure by a single second to oblige such a fledgling potentate as he.

"We must part now, my sweet," he would say. "I am going to demand my birthright. When I am admittedly a King, I shall send for you. If you do not answer, I shall become my own envoy. You will make a beautiful Queen, Joan. You and I together will raise Kosnovia from the mire of centuries."

Somewhat stilted lovemaking this; but what was a poor fellow to do who had been taken from the Rue Boissiere and plunged into empire making, all in the course of a summer's evening?

He crossed the Pont Neuf without ever a look at Henri Quatre. That was a pity. The sarcastic Bearnais grin might have revealed some of the pitfalls that lay ahead. At any rate, the King of Navarre could have given him many instances of a woman's fickleness—and fickleness was the ugly word that leaped into Alec's puzzled brain when an ancient dame at Joan's lodgings told him that Mademoiselle and her maid had gone away that afternoon.

"Gone! Gone where?" he asked blankly.

"It is necessary to write," said Madame, and shut the door in his face, since it is forbidden in the Quartier for good looking and unknown young men to make such urgent inquiries concerning the whereabouts of discreet young women like Mademoiselle Joan.

Leontine, still scrubbing, came to the rescue. Never had she seen any one so distinguished as this Monsieur. Mon Dieu! but it was a pity that the belle Americaine should have packed her boxes that very day! And diminutive Leontine was romantic to the tips of her stubby fingers.

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