Chapter XXXVIII. A Farewell Appearance
 

"One thing, at least, these recent adventures should teach whoever may be responsible for the government of this country," Bellamy remarked to his wife, as he laid down the morning paper. "For the first time in many years we have taken the aggressive against Powers of equal standing. We were always rather good at bullying smaller countries, but the bare idea of an ultimatum to Germany would have made our late Premier go lightheaded."

"And yet it succeeded," Louise reminded him.

"Absolutely," he affirmed. "To-day's news makes peace a certainty. If your country knew everything, Louise, they'd give us a royal welcome next month."

"You really mean that we are to go there, then?" she asked.

"It isn't exactly one of my privileges," he declared, "to fix upon the spot where we shall take our belated honeymoon, but I haven't been in Belgrade for years, and I know you'd like to see your people."

"It will be more happiness than I ever dreamed of," she murmured. "Do you think we shall be safe in passing through Vienna?"

Bellamy laughed.

"Remember," he said, "that I am no longer David Bellamy, with a silver greyhound attached to my watch-chain and an obnoxious reputation in foreign countries. I am Lord Denchester of Denchester, a harmless English peer traveling on his honeymoon. By the way, I hope you like the title."

"I shall love it when I get used to it," she declared. "To be an English Countess is dazzling, but I do think that I ought not to go on singing at Covent Garden."

"To-morrow will be your last night," he reminded her. "I have asked Laverick and the dear little girl he is going to marry to come with me. Afterwards we must all have supper together."

"How nice of you!" she exclaimed.

"I don't know about that," Bellamy said, smiling. "I really like Laverick. He is a decent fellow and a good sort. Incidentally, he was thundering useful to us, and pretty plucky about it. He interests me, too, in another way. He is a man who, face to face with a moral problem, acted exactly as I should have done myself!"

"You mean about the twenty thousand pounds?" she asked.

Bellamy assented.

"He was practically dishonest," he pointed out. "He had no right to use that money and he ought to have taken the pocket-book to the police-station. If he had done so - that is to say, if he had waited there for the police, if he had been seen to hold out that pocket-book, to have discussed it with any one, it is ten to one that there would have been another tragedy that night. At any rate, the document would never have come to us."

She smiled.

"My moral judgment is warped," she asserted, "from the fact that Laverick's decision brought us the document."

He nodded.

"Perhaps so," he agreed, "and yet, there was the man face to face with ruin. The use of that money for a few hours did no one any harm, and saved him. I say that such a deed is always a matter of calculation, and in this case that he was justified."

"I wonder what he really thinks about it himself," she remarked.

"Perhaps I'll ask him."

But when the time came, and he sat in the box with Laverick and Zoe, he forgot everything else in the joy of watching the woman whom he had loved so long. She moved about the stage that night as though her feet indeed fell upon the air. She appeared to be singing always with restraint, yet with some new power in her voice, a quality which even in her simpler notes left the great audience thrilled. Already there was a rumor that it was her last appearance. Her marriage to Bellamy had been that day announced in the Morning Post. When, in the last act, she sang alone on the stage the famous love song, it seemed to them all that although her voice trembled more than once, it was a new thing to which they listened. Zoe found herself clasping Laverick's hand in tremulous excitement. Bellamy sat like a statue, a little back in the box, his clean-cut face thrown into powerful relief by the shadows beyond. Yet, as he listened, his eyes, too, were marvelously soft. The song grew and grew till, with the last notes, the whole story of an exquisite and expectant passion seemed trembling in her voice. The last note came from her lips almost as though unwillingly, and was prolonged for an extraordinary period. When it died away, its passing seemed something almost unrealizable. It quivered away into a silence which lasted for many seconds before the gathering roar of applause swept the house. And in those last few seconds she had turned and faced Bellamy. Their eyes met, and the light which flashed from his seemed answered by the quivering of her throat. It was her good-bye. She was singing a new love-song, singing her way into the life of the man whom she loved, singing her way into love itself. Once more the great house, packed to the ceiling, was worked up to a state of frenzied excitement. Bellamy was recognized, and the significance of her song sent a wave of sentiment through the house whose only possible form of expression took to itself shape in the frantic greetings which called her to the front again and again. But the three in the box were silent. Bellamy stood back in the shadows. Laverick and Zoe seemed suddenly to become immersed in themselves. Bellamy threw open the door of the box and pointed outside.

"At Luigi's in half-an-hour," said he softly. "You will excuse me for a few minutes? I am going to Louise."