could be no longer any doubt in her mind as she went into her bedroom,
closed the door, and, unhooking the telephone receiver, called up
the great specialist in rare diseases, Dr. Austin Atwood, M.S.,
Atwood," she said with scarcely concealed emotion, "this
is Dr. Rosalind Hollis."
squeaked the aged specialist amiably.
I am well enough, thank you, doctor—except in spirits. Dr.
Atwood, you were right! He has got it, and I am perfectly wretched!"
has got what?" retorted the voice of Atwood.
unfortunate young gentleman we saw to-day in the Park."
Central Park, doctor."
Park! I haven't been in Central Park for ten years, my child."
Dr. Atwood!—A—is this Dr. Austin Atwood with whom I
the least doubt! And you are that pretty Dr. Hollis—Rosalind
Hollis, who consulted me in those charity cases, are you not?"
am. And I wanted to say to you that I have the unfortunate patient
now under closest observation here in my own apartment. I have given
him the room next to the office. And, doctor, you were perfectly
right. He shows every symptom of the disease—he is even inclined
to sentimentalism; he begins to blush and fidget and look at me—a—in
that unmistakable manner—not that he isn't well-bred and charming—indeed
he is most attractive, and it grieves me dreadfully to see that
he already is beginning to believe himself in love with the first
person of the opposite sex he encounters—I mean that he—that
I cannot mistake his attitude toward me—which is perfectly
correct, only one cannot avoid seeing the curious infatuation—"
the dickens is all this?" roared the great specialist, and
Dr. Hollis jumped.
only confirming your diagnosis, doctor," she explained meekly.
doctor. I have confirmed it, I fear. And the certainty has made
me perfectly miserable, because his is such a valuable life to the
world, and he himself is such a splendid, wholesome, noble specimen
of youth and courage, that I cannot bear to believe him incurably
Heavens!" shouted the doctor, "what has he got and who
is Victor Carden, the celebrated artist, and he has Lamour's Disease!"
a dead silence; then: "Keep him there until I come! Chloroform
him if he attempts to escape!"
And the great
specialist rang off excitedly.
Hollis went back to the lamp-lit office where, in a luxurious armchair,
Carden was sitting, contentedly poring over the ninth volume of
Lamour's great treatise and smoking his second cigar.
Atwood is coming here," she said in a discouraged voice, as
he rose with alacrity to place her chair.
see you, Mr. Carden."
Me? Great Scott! I don't want to be slapped and pinched and polled
by a man! I didn't expect that, you know. I'm willing enough to
have you observe me in the interest of humanity—"
Mr. Carden, he is only called in for consultation. I—I have
a dreadful sort of desperate hope that perhaps I may have made a
mistake; that possibly I am in error."
doubt you are," he said cheerfully. "Let me read a few
more pages, Dr. Hollis, and then I think I shall be all ready to
dispute my symptoms, one by one, and convince you what really is
the trouble with me. And, by the way, did Dr. Atwood seem a trifle
astonished when you told him about me?"
she said uncertainly. "He is a very, very old man; he forgets.
But he is coming."
And didn't he appear to recollect seeing me in the Park?"
clearly. He is very old, you know. But he is coming here."
a friend of mine puts it," smiled Carden. "May I be permitted
to use your telephone a moment?"
all means, Mr. Carden. You will find it there in my bedroom."
So he entered
her pretty bedroom and, closing the door tightly, called up the
Tracer of Lost Persons.
that you, Mr. Keen? This is Mr. Carden. I'm head over heels in love.
I simply must win her, and I'm going to try. If I don't—if
she will not listen to me—I'll certainly go to smash. And
what I want you to do is to prevent Atwood from butting in. Do you
understand? . . . Yes, Dr. Austin Atwood. Keep him away somehow.
. . . Yes, I'm here, at Dr. Hollis's apartments, under anxious observation.
. . . She is the only woman in the world! I'm mad about her—and
getting madder every moment! She is the most perfectly splendid
specimen of womanhood—what? Oh, yes; I rang you up to ask
you whether it was you in the Park to-day?—that old gentleman—What!
Yes, in Central Park. Yes, this afternoon! No, he didn't resemble
you; and Dr. Hollis took him for Dr. Atwood. . . . What are you
laughing about? . . . I can hear you laughing. . . . Was it you?
. . . What do I think? Why, I don't know exactly what to think,
but I suppose it must have been you. Was it? . . . Oh, I see. You
don't wish me to know. Certainly, you are quite right. Your clients
have no business behind the scenes. I only asked out of curiosity.
. . . All right. Good-by."
He came back
to the lamp-lit office, which was more of a big, handsome, comfortable
living room than a physician's quarters, and for a moment or two
he stood on the threshold, looking around.
In the pleasant,
subdued light of the lamp Rosalind Hollis looked up and around,
smiling involuntarily to see him standing there; then, serious,
silent, she dropped her eyes to the pages of the volume he had discarded—volume
nine of Lamour's great works.
the evidence before her, corroborated in these inexorably scientific
pages which she sat so sadly turning, she found it almost impossible
to believe that this big, broad-shouldered, attractive young man
could be fatally stricken.
violet eyes stole toward him; twice the thick lashes veiled them,
and the printed pages on her knee sprang into view, and the cold
precision of the type confirmed her fears remorselessly:
trained scrutiny of the observer will detect in the victim of this
disease a peculiar and indefinable charm—a strange symmetry
which, on closer examination, reveals traces of physical beauty
eyes were lifted to Carden; again she dropped her white lids. Her
worst fears were confirmed.
he stood on the threshold looking at her, his pulses racing, his
very soul staring through his eyes; and, within him, every sense
clamoring out revolt at the deception, demanding confession and
stand this!" he blurted out; and she looked up quickly, her
face blanched with foreboding.
you in pain?" she asked.
that sort of pain! I—won't you please believe that I am not
ill? I'm imposing on you. I'm an impostor! There's nothing whatever
the trouble with me except—something that I want to tell you—if
you'll let me—"
should you hesitate to confide in a physician, Mr. Carden?"
He came forward
slowly. She laid her small hand on the empty chair which faced hers
and he sank into it, clasping his restless hands under his chin.
are feeling depressed," she said gently. Depression was a significant
symptom. Three chapters were devoted to it.
depressed, of course. I'm horribly depressed and ashamed of myself,
because there is nothing on earth the matter with me, and I've let
you think there is."
mournfully; this was another symptom of a morbid state. She turned,
unconsciously, to page 379 to verify her observation.
here, Miss Hollis," he broke out, "haven't I any chance
to convince you that I am not ill? I want to be honest without involving
a—a friend of mine. I can't endure this deception. Won't you
let me prove to you that these symptoms are—are only significant
of something else?"
straight at him, considering him in silence.
us begin with those dark circles under my eyes," he said desperately.
"I found some cold-cream in my room and—look! They are
practically gone! At any rate, if there is a sort of shadow left
it's because I use my eyes in my profession."
Lamour says that the dark circles disappear, anyway," said
the girl, unconvinced. "Cold-cream had nothing to do with it."
it did! Really it did. And as for the other symptoms, I—well,
I can't help my pulses when y-you t-t-touch me."
mean to be impertinent. I am trying my hardest to tell the truth.
And my pulses do gallop when you test them; they're galloping now!
This very moment!"
me try them," she said coolly, laying her hand on his wrist.
I say so!" he insisted grimly. "And I'm turning red, too.
But those symptoms mean something else; they mean you!"
help saying so—"
it," she said soothingly; "these sentimental outbursts
are part of the disease—"
Heavens! Won't you try to believe me! There's nothing in the world
the matter with me except that I am—am—p-p-perfectly
must struggle against it, Mr. Carden. That is only part of the—"
isn't! It isn't! It's you! It's your mere presence, your personality,
your charm, your beauty, your loveliness, your—"
Carden, I beg of you! I—it is part of my duty to observe symptoms,
but—but you are making it very hard for me—very difficult—"
only proving to you that it isn't Lamour's Disease which does stunts
with my pulses, my temperature, my color. I'm not morbid except
when I realize my deception. I'm not depressed except when I think
how far you are from me—how far above me—how far out
of reach of such a man as I am—how desperately I—I—"
you think I had better administer a s-s-sedative, Mr. Carden?"
she said, distressed.
care. I'll take anything you give me—as long as you give it
to me. I'll swallow pint after pint of pills! I'll fletcherize 'em!
I'll luxuriate in poison—anything—"
She was hastily
running through the pages of the ninth volume to see whether the
symptoms of sentimental excitement ever turned into frenzy.
can you learn from that book?" he insisted, leaning forward
to see what she was reading. "Anyway, Dr. Lamour married his
patient so early in the game that all the symptoms disappeared.
And I believe the trouble with his patient was my trouble. She had
every symptom of it until he married her! She was in love with him,
that is absolutely all!"
Hollis raised her beautiful, incredulous eyes.
do you mean, Mr. Carden?"
that, in my opinion, there's no such disease as Lamour's Disease.
That young girl was in love with him. Then he married her at last,
and—presto!—all the symptoms vanished—the pulse,
the temperature, the fidgets, the blushes, the moods, the whole
about the strangely curious manifestations of physical beauty—superhuman
symmetry, Mr. Carden?"
you notice them in me?" he gasped.
a m-modified measure—"
she said firmly; but the slow glow suffusing her cheeks was disconcerting
her. Then his own face began to reflect the splendid color in hers;
their eyes met, dismayed.
are sixteen volumes about this disease," she said. "There
must be such a disease!"
is," he said. "I have it badly. But I never had it before
I first saw you in the Park!"
Carden—this is the wildest absurdity—"
it. Wildness is a symptom. I'm mad as a hatter. I've got every separate
symptom, and I wish it was infectious and contagious and catching
an effort to turn the pages to the chapter entitled "Manias
and Illusions," but he laid his hand across the book and his
clear eyes defied her.
hand trembled under his, then, suddenly nerveless, relaxed. With
an effort she lifted her head; their eyes met, spellbound.
have every symptom," he said unsteadily—"every one!
What have you to say?"
eyes held his.
have you to say?" he repeated under his breath—"you,
with every symptom, and your heavenly radiant beauty to confirm
them—that splendid youthful loveliness which blinds and stuns
me as I look—as I speak—as I tell you that I love you.
That is my malady; that is the beginning and the end of it; love!"
She sat speechless,
immovable, as one under enchantment.
my life," he said, "I have spent in painting shadows.
But the shadows were those dim celestial shapes cast by your presence
in the world. You tell me that the world is better for my work;
that I have offered my people beauty and a sort of truth, which
they had never dreamed of until I revealed it? Yet what inspired
me was the shadow only, for I had never seen the substance; I had
never believed I should ever see the living source of the shadows
which inspired me. And now I see; now I have seen with my own eyes.
Now the confession of faith is no longer a blind creed, born of
instinct. You live! You are you! What I believed from necessity
I find proved in fact. The occult no longer can sway one who has
seen. And you, who, without your knowledge or mine, have always
been the one and only source of any good in me or in my work—why
is it strange that I loved you at first sight?—that I worshiped
you at first breath?—I, who, like him who raises his altar
to 'the unknown god,' raised my altar to truth and beauty? And a
miracle has answered me."
the beautiful dazed eyes meeting his, both hands clasping the ninth
volume of Lamour's great monograph to her breast as though to protect
it from him—from him who was threatening her, enthralling
her, thrilling her with his magic voice, his enchanted youth, the
masterful mystery of his eyes. What was he saying to her? What was
this mounting intoxication sweeping her senses—this delicious
menace threatening her very will? What did he want with her? What
was he asking? What was he doing now—with both her hands in
his, and her gaze deeply lost in his—and the ninth volume
of Lamour on the floor between them, sprawling there, abandoned,
waving its helpless, discredited leaves in air—discredited,
abandoned, obsolete as her own specialty—her life's work!
He had taken that, too—taken her life's work from her. And
in return she was holding nothing!—nothing except a young
man's hands—strong, muscular hands which, after all, were
holding her own imprisoned. So she had nothing in exchange for the
ninth volume of Lamour; and her life's work had been annihilated
by a smile; and she was very much alone in the world—very
isolated and very youthful.
After a while
she emerged from the chaos of attempted reflection and listened
to what he was saying. He spoke very quietly, very distinctly, not
sparing himself, laying bare every deception without involving anybody
He told her
the entire history of his case, excluding Mr. Keen in person; he
told her about his aunt, about his birthday, about his determination
to let the legacy go. Then in a very manly way he told her that
he had never before loved a woman; and fell silent, her hands a
dead weight in his.
She was surprised
that she could experience no resentment. A curious inertia crept
over her. She was tired of expectancy, tired of effort, weary of
the burden of decision. Life and its problems overweighted her.
Her eyes wandered to his broad young shoulders, then were raised
to his face.
shall we do?" she asked innocently.
she suffered him to explain. His explanation was not elaborate;
he only touched his lips to her hands and straightened up, a trifle
After a moment
they walked together to the door and he took his hat and gloves
from the rack.
you come to-morrow morning?" she asked.
early. I am quite certain of how matters are with me. Everything
has gone out of my life—everything I once cared for—all
the familiar things. So come early, for I am quite alone without
I without you, Rosalind."
is only right," she said simply. "I shall cast no more
shadows for you. . . . Are you going? . . . Oh, I know it is best
that you should go, but—"
She laid both hands in his.
both have it," she faltered—"every symptom. And—you
will come early, won't you?"