xt7jh98z9d5r https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7jh98z9d5r/data/mets.xml Comfort, Will Levington, 1878-1932. 1911  books b92-190-30610564 English Lippincott, : Philadelphia ; London : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. She buildeth her house  / by Will Levington Comfort ; with a frontispiece by Martin Justice. text She buildeth her house  / by Will Levington Comfort ; with a frontispiece by Martin Justice. 1911 2002 true xt7jh98z9d5r section xt7jh98z9d5r 
She Buildeth Her House
 



















   -A GREAT NOFEL"


ROUTLEDGE RIDES
          ALONE
By WILL LEVINGTON COMFORT
  "Three such magnificent figures
(Routledge, Noreen, and Rawder) have
seldom before appeared together in fiction.
For knowledge, energy. artistic conception,
and literary skill, it is easily the book of the
day-A GREAT NOVEL, full of a sub-
lime conception, one of the few novels that
are as ladders from heaven to earth."
            -San Francisco Argonaut.
      With Colored Frontispiece
      By MARTIN jfUSTICE
    Cloth, with Colored Inset, s.50

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
PUB=SHERS          PHILADELPHIA

 This page in the original text is blank.


 









































































HE REFACHED THE CURBING OF' THE OLD WELL WITH HIS BURDEN
                                                   Page S17

 

IN



She Buildeth Her



House

    By



Will Levington Coml
   Author of " Routledge Rides Alone," etc



fort



With a Frontispiece By
Martin Justice



Philadelphia e London



J. B3. Lippincott Company



1911



-VW-         N           U - m



w


I



12



- -          ==1010
                 ---

 



















COPYRIGHT. 1911, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY



       Published May, x91 x
































PRINTED BY J. S. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
AT THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PRESS
       PHILADELPHIA, U.S.A.

 


























A BOUGH BROUGHT WITH SINGING
       TO THE FEET OF

            HER
WHO CROSSED THE SANDS ALONE

   IN ADORING PILGRIMAGE

        FOR HER SON

 This page in the original text is blank.


 


                 Contents


FIRST CHAPTER
   PAULA ENCOUNTERS THE REMARKABLE EYES OF HER
   FIRST GIANT, AND HEARKENS TO THE SECOND, THvN-
   DERING AFAR-OFF .................................  9

SECOND CHAPTER.
   PAULA CONTEMPLATES THE WALL OF A HUNDRED
   WINDOWS, AND THE MYSTERIOUS MADAMB NESTOR
   CALLS AT THE ZOROASTER ..................... ,  24

THIRD CHAPTER.
   CERTAIN DEVELOPING INCIDENTS ARE CAUGHT INTO
   THE CURRENT OF NARRATrVE-ALSO A SUPPER WITH
   REIPPERSCHEID...........                   41

FOURTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA ENCOUNTERS HER ADVERSARY WHO TUR.NS
   PROPHET AND TELLS OF A STARRY CHILD SOON TO BE
   BORN........................................ 57

FIFTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA IS INVOLVED IN THE FURIOUS HISTORY OP
   SELMA CROSS AND WRITES A LETTER TO QUENTIN
   CHARTER ......................................... 69

SIXTH CHAPTER-
   PAULA IS CALLED TO PARLOR "F" OF THE MAIDSTONE
   WHERE THE BEYOND-DEVIL AWAITS WITH OUT-
   STRETCHED ARMS ............................     8i

SEVENTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA BEGINS TO SEE MORE CLEARLY THROUGH
   MADAME NESTOR'S REVELATIONS, AND WITNESSES
   A BROADWAY ACCIDENT ........................... 92

EIGHTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA MAKES SEVERAL DISCOVERIES IN THE CHAR-
   TER HEART-COUNTRY, AND IS DELIGHTED BY His
   LETTERS TO THE SKYLARK..99...................   99
                                           S

 


6



Contents



NINTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA IS DRAWN INTO THE SELMA CROSS PAST AND
   IS BRAVELY WOOED THROUGH FURTHER MESSAGES
   FROM THE WEST .................................. 110

TENTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA SEES SELMA CROSS IN TRAGEDY, AND IN HER
   OWN APARTMENT NEXT MORNING IS GIVEN A REALITY
   TO  PLAY .9..................................... .  Jig

ELEVENTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA IS SWEPT DEEP INTO A DESOLATE COUNTRY BY
   THE HIGH TIDE, BUT NOTES A QUICK CHANGE IN
   SELMA CROSS .................. 138

TWELFTH CHAPTER.
   CERTAIN ELEMENTS FOR THE CHARTER CRUCIBLE,
   AND HIS MOTHER'S PILGRIMAGE ACROSS THE SANDS
   ALONE TO MECCA .1.............................. I52

THIRTEENTH CHAPTER.
   "No MAN CAN ENTER INTO A STRONG MAN'S HOUSE,
   AND SPOIL HIS GOODS, EXCEPT HE WILL FIRST BIND
   THE STRONG MAN..       ............... x6o

FOURTEENTH CHAPTER.
   THE SINGING OF THE SKYLARK CEASES ABRUPTLY;
   CHARTER HASTENS EAST TO FIND A QUEER MESSAGE
   AT THE GRANVILLE ................................. 179

FIFTEENTH CHAPTER.
   QUENTIN CHARTER AND SELMA CROSS JOIN ISSUE ON
   A NEW BATTLE-GROUND, EACH LEAVING THE FIELD
   WITH OPEN WOUNDS.....      ............    194

SIXTEENTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA, FINDING THAT BOTH GIANTS HAVE ENTERED
   HER CASTLE, RUSHES IN TUMULT INTO THE NIGHT.. 213

SEVENTEENTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA SAILS INTO THE SOUTH, SEEKING THE HOLY
   MAN OP SAINT PIERRE, WHERE LA MONTAGNE PELEB
   GIVES  WARNING ........... .......................  223

EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA IS INVOLVED IN THE RENDING FORTUNES OF
   SAINT PIERRE AND THE PANTHER CALLS WITH NEW
   YORK MAIL ...................................... 233

 


Contents



7



NINETEENTH CHAPTER.
   QUENTIN CHARTER IS ATTRACTED BY THE TRAVAIL O0
   PELEE, AND ENCOUNTERS A QUEER FELLOW-VOYAGBR 253

TWENTIETH CHAPTER.
   CHARTER'S MIND BECOMES THE ARENA OF CONFLICT
   BETWEEN THE WYNDAM WOMAN AND SKYLARK MEM-
   ORIES ................... .... ,._ O .......27S

TWENTY-FIRST CHAPTER.
   CHARTER COMMUNES WITH THE WYNDAM WOMAN, AND
   CONFESSES THE GREAT TROUBLE OF HIS HEART TO
   FATHER FONTANEL.-..........    .... ,     279

TWENTY-SECOND CHAPTER.
   CHARTER MAKES A PILGRIMAGB TO THE CRATERS OP
   PELAE-ONE LAST DAY DEVOTED TO THE SPIRIT OF
   OLD LETTERS................ . ..      .. 288

TWENTY-THIRD CHAPTER.
   CHARTER AND STOCK ARE CALLED TO THE PRIEST'S
   HOUSE IN THE NIGHT, AND THE WYNDAM WOMAN
   STAYS AT THE PALMS................       298

TWENTY-FOURTH CHAPTER.
   HAVING TO DO ESPECIALLY WITH THE MORNING OP
   THE ASCENSION, WHEN THE MONSTER, PELkE, GIVES
   BIRTH TO DEATH .    ....................  _ 31I

TWENTY-FIFTH CHAPTER.
   THE SARAGOSSA ENCOUNTERS THE RAGING FIRE-MISTS
   FROM PELtE EIGHT MILES AT SEA, BUT LIVES TO SEND
   A BOAT ASHORES..O            RE..............318

TWENTY-SIXTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA AND CHARTER IN SEVERAL SETTINGS FEEL THB
   ENERGY OF THE GREAT GOOD THAT DRIVES THE
   WORLD................- -              -  331

TWENTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER.
   PAULA AND CHARTER JOURNEY INTO THE WEST; ONE
   HEARS VOICES, BUT NOT THE WORDS OFTEN, FROM
   RAPTURE'S ROADWAY .....................  .... 345

 This page in the original text is blank.


 

      She Buildeth Her House



              FIRST CHAPTER

PAULA ENCOUNTERS THE REMARKABLE EYES OF
    HER FIRST GIANT, AND HEARKENS TO THE
         SECOND, THUNDERING AFAR-OFF

   PAULA LINSTER was twenty-seven when two invad-
ing giants entered the country of her heart. On the
same day, these hosts, each unconscious of the other,
crossed opposite borders and verged toward the pre-
pared citadel between them.
   Reifferscheid, though not one of the giants, found
Paula a distraction in brown, when she entered his
office before nine in the morning, during the fall of
i9oi. He edited the rather distinguished weekly book-
page of The States, and had come to rely upon her for
a paper or two in each issue. There had been rain
in the night. The mellow October sunlight was strange
with that same charm of maturity which adds a glow
of attraction to motherhood. The wonderful autumn
haze, which broods over our zone as the spirit of ripen-
ing grains and tinting fruits, just perceptibly shaded
the vivid sky. A sentence Paula had heard somewhere
in a play, " My God, how the sun does shine! " appealed
to her as particularly fitting for New York on such a
morning. Then in the streets, so lately flooded, the
brilliant new-washed air was sweet to breathe.
                        9

 

10



She Buildeth Her House



   Paula had felt the advisability the year before of
adding somewhat to her income. Inventory brought
out the truth that not one of her talents had been
specialized to the point of selling its product. She had
the rare sense to distinguish, however, between a certain
joyous inclination to write and a marked ability for pro-
ducing literature; and to recognize her own sound and
sharp appreciation of what was good in the stirring
tide of books. Presenting herself to Reifferscheid,
principally on account of an especial liking for the book-
page of The States, she ne-rer forgot how the big man
looked at her that first time over his spectacles, as if
turning her pages with a sort of psychometric faculty.
He found her possible and several months won her not
a little distinction in the work.
   Reifferscheid was a fat, pondrous, heavy-spectacled
devourer of work. He compelled her real admiration-
"the American St. Beuve," she called him, because he
was so tireless, and because he sniffed genius from afar.
There was something unreservedly charming to her, in
his sense of personal victory, upon discovering great-
ness in an unexpected source. Then he was so big, so
common to look at; kind as only a bear of a man can
be; so wise, so deep, and with such a big smoky factory
of a brain, full of fascinating crypts. Subcutaneous
laughter that rested her internally for weeks lingered
about certain of the large man's sayings. Even in the
auditing of her account, she felt his kindness.
   " Now here are some essays by Quentin Charter-
a big man, a young man and a slow worker," he said.
" Charter's first volume was a thunderer. We greeted it
with a whoop two years ago. Did you see it"

 

The Remarkable Eyes



11



   " No," Paula replied. " I was too strong for literary
trifles then."
   " Anyway, look out for Charter. He didn't start
to appear until he was an adult. He's been everywhere,
read everything and has a punch like a projectile. An
effective chap, this Charter. He dropped in to see me
a few weeks after my review. He confessed the critics
had made him very glad. . . . ' I am doing a second
book,' he confided to me. ' Down on my knees to it.
Work-shop stripped of encomiums; no more dinner-
parties or any of that fatness. Say, it's a queer thing
about making a book. You never can tell whether
it's to be a boy or a girl ...."
   Paula smiled reservedly.
   "I asked him what his second book was to be
about," Reifferscheid went on. "' Women,' said he.
'How novel!' said I. He grinned genially. 'Reiffer-
scheid,' he declared, in his snappy way, 'women are
interesting.  They're doing the thinking nowadays.
They're getting there. One of these mornings, man will
wake up to the fact that he's got to be born again to
get in a class with his wife. Man is mixed up with
altogether too much of this down-town madness.
Women don't want votes, public office, or first-hand
dollars. They want men!' . . . I always remembered
that little bit of stuff from Charter. He says the time
will come when classy girls will get their heads to-
gether and evolve this ultimatum, which will be handed
intact to adorers: 'No, boys, we can't marry you. We
haven't any illusions about celibacy. It isn't nice nor
attractive, but it's better than being yoked with hucksters
and peddlers who come up-town at night-mental crip-

 

She Buildeth Her House



ples in empty wagons. Go away and learn what life
means, what it means to be men-what it means to us
for you to be men! Learn how to live-and oh, boys,
hurry back!'"
   " Splendid! " Paula exclaimed.
   " Oh, yes, Charter is a full deck and a joker. He's
lived. He makes you feel him. His years are veritable
campaigns. He has dangled in the vortices of human
action and human passion-and seemed to come out
whole! " . . . Reifferscheid chuckled at a memory.
" 'Women are interesting,' Charter finished in his dry
fashion. 'I just got to them lately. I wish I could
know them all.'"
   " I love the book already," Paula said. Reifferscheid
laughed inwardly at the feminine way she held the
volume in both hands, pressing it close.
   " It's the only book on my table this morning that I'd
like to read," he added. " Therefore I give it to you.
There's no fun in giving something you don't want.
... Are you going to hear Bellingham to-night "
   She was conscious of an unaccountable dislike at the
name, a sense of inward chill. It was almost as reckon-
able as the pleasure she felt in the work and per-
sonality of Quentin Charter.
   " Who's Bellingham " Paula swallowed dryly after
the first utterance of the name.
   " Mental magician. I only mentioned him, because
you so seldom miss the unusual, and are so quick to hail
a new cult or odd mental specimen."
   " Magician-surely " she asked.
   " He comes rather stoutly recommended as such,"
Reifferscheid replied, " though personally mine is more



12

 

The Remarkable Eyes



13



than a healthy skepticism. There's a notice this morn-
ing of his lectures. He recently hypnotized a man to
whom the medical profession was afraid to administer
an anaesthetic-held him painless during a long and
serious operation. Then Bellingham is the last word
in alchemy, feminine emotions, causes of hysteria,
longevity, the proportions of male and female in each
person; also he renews the vital principle, advises unions,
makes you beautiful, and has esoteric women's classes.
A Godey's Ladies' man. Some provincial husband will
shoot him presently."
   Paula took the surface car home, because the day
was so rare and the crowd was still downward bent.
The morning paper contained an announcement of Quen-
tin Charter's new book, and a sketch of the author.
A strange, talented figure, new in letters, the article
said. The paragraphs had that fresh glow of a pub-
lisher's perennial high hope. Here was the book of a
man who had lived; who drew not only upon art,
history, and philosophy for his prisms of thought, but
who had roamed and worked and ridden with men,
keeping a sensitive finger ever at the pulse of nature;
a man who had never in the most insignificant degree
lowered the import or artificially raised the tension of
his work to adjust it to the fancied needs of the public.
In spite of the enthusiastic phrasing, everything about
Charter fascinated her; even the make-up of the unread
book in her hand, and the sentences that gleamed from
the quickly turned pages.
   She had ridden many squares, when the name of
Dr. Bellingham stood out before her eyes in the news-
paper. The chill in her arteries was perceptible as before,

 

14



She Buildeth Her House



when Reifferscheid spoke the name. It was as the latter
had said-the famous healer and telepathist was to start
a series of classes for women.
   Paula lived alone in a small apartment at the
Zoroaster, " Top-side o' Park." Few friends, many
books, within a car ride of the world's best fruition in
plays, lectures, music, and painting-yet the reality of
it all was the expansion of her mind in the days and
nights alone. The subtle relations of things encroached
upon her intelligence with a steady and certain trend.
She never had to pass, like so many of cruder nature,
through the horrid trials of materialism; nor to be pain-
fully bruised in mind from buffeting between man-
handled creeds and the pure ethics of the Lord Christ.
Hers was not an aggressive masculine originality, but
the complement of it-that inspiring, completing femi-
nine intelligence, elastic to a man's hard-won concepts
and ready with a crown for them.
   Something of this type of woman, the big-brained
brothers of men have written and chiselled, painted,
sung and dreamed of, since human thought first lifted
above the appetites. There must be a bright answer for
each man's particular station of evolution in the world's
dumfounding snarl of the sexes-one woman to lighten
his travail and accelerate his passage to the Uplands.
For we are but half-men, man and woman alike. The
whole is two, whose union forms One. . .    This is
the key to Nature's arcanum; this, the one articulate
sentence frowm all the restless murmuring out of the
past; this, the stupendous Purpose weaving the million
thrilling and truant activities of the present hour-the

 

The Remarkable Eyes



15



clean desire for completion-the union of two which
forms One.
   The search for this completing woman is the secret
of man's roving in the gardens of sense. His frequent
falls into abysmal depravity are but results incidental
to the occultations of his Guide Star. From reptiles
in the foul smoke of chaos, to the lifted spines of man-
hood on a rising road, Man has come; and by the
interminable torture of the paths which sink behind,
he has the other half of eternity to reach the Top.
   From a child whose fairies were only enchanted into
books for day-time convenience, darkness to Paula
meant visions, indeed. Often now at night, though she
never spoke of it, the little apartment was peopled by
the spirits of her reading and her ideals-mystics, priests,
prophets, teachers, ascetics.  To the congenial dark
they came-faces unlike any she had ever seen, but
quite unmistakable in her dreamings. Once when she
pampered a natural aversion to meat for several months,
soft footfalls and low voices (which had nothing what-
ever to do with her neighbors across the hall, or the
elevator-man in any passage) began to rouse her in
the night. New York is no place for such refinements
of sense, and she checked these manifestations through
physical exercise and increased diet. She was seldom
afraid, but there was a tension in all her imaginings,
and she grew marvellously in this twenty-eighth year
-furnishing her mind more sumptuously than she knew.
Reifferscheid saw this in her eyes and in her work.
   Throughout the swiftly passing day, Paula realized
that she would go to Prismatic Hall in West Sixty-
seventh Street, where Dr. Bellingham was to organize

 

16



She Buildeth Her House



his lecture-course that night. Against this foreknowl-
edge was a well-defined distaste for the man and his
work. Between the two, the thought of the evening
crowded frequently into mind until she became im-
patient with herself at the importance it assumed. It
was with a certain feminine manipulation of conscience,
so deft as almost to be unconscious, that she excused
her own curiosity on the ground that her disfavor for
the doctor and his message would be strengthened by
the first meeting, beyond the need of further experience.
   One concession she made to her natural aversion-
that of going late. She was in a mood poignantly
critical. The real Paula Linster, she fancied, was at
home, "Top-side o' Park"; here was just a sophis-
ticated professional surface, such as reporters carry
about. The Hall was packed with women; the young
and the jaded; faces of pup-innocence; faces bitten
from terrible expeditions to the poles of sense; faces
tired and thick from the tread of an orient of emotions;
slow-roving eyes which said, " I crave-I crave! I have
lost the sense of reality, but seven sick and pampered
organs crave within me! "
   The thought came to Paula-to be questioned after-
ward-that man's evil, after all, is rudimentary com-
pared to a worldly woman's; man's soul not so com-
plicated, nor so irrevocably identified with his sensual
organism. She could not avoid pondering miserably
upon woman's innate love for far ventures into sen-
sation, permitting these ventures to be called (if the
world would) searches for the holy grail. The inevitable
attraction for women which specialists of the body
possess, actually startled her. Bellingham was one of

 

The Remarkable Eyes



17



these. On the surface of all his sayings, and all com-
ment about him, was the bland, deadly insinuation that
the soul expands in the pursuit of bodily health. About
his name was the mystery of his age, whispers of his
physical perfection, intimations of romantic affairs, the
suggestion of his miraculous performances upon the
emotions-the whole gamut of activities designed to
make him the instant aversion of any normal member
of his own sex. Yet the flock of females had settled
about him, as they have settled about every black human
plague-and glorious messiah-since the birth of days.
   The thril'ed, expectant look on several faces brought
to Paula's mind the type of her sisters who relish being
shocked; whose exaltations are patently those of emo-
tional contact; who call physical excitement the glorify-
ing of their spirit, and cannot be persuaded to confess
otherwise. Woman as a negation for man to play
upon never distressed her before with such direct and
certain pressure. Here were women intent upon en-
countering a new sensation; women who devoutly
breathed the name of Motherhood next to Godhood,
and yet endured their pregnancy with organic rebellion
and mental loathing; women who could not conceive of
love apart from the embrace of man, and who imagine
a " message " in deformed and salacious novels, making
such books popular; women of gold-leaf culture whose
modesty fastens with a bow-narrow temples of in-
finite receptivity. . ..
   Why had they come In the perfect feminine system
of information, the whisper had run: " Bellingham is
wonderful. Bellingham tells you how to live forever.
Bellingham teaches the renewal of self and has esoteric
     2

 

18



She Buildeth Her House



classes-for the few!" They had the sanction of one
another. There was no scandal in being there openly,
nor any instinct, apparently, to warn them that secret
classes to discover how to live forever, had upon the
surface no very tonic flavor. The digest of the whole
matter was that revelations sooner or later would be
made to a certain few, and that these revelations, which
would be as fine oil upon the mental surfaces of many
women near her, would act as acid upon the male mind
generally.
   In the sickening distaste for herself and for those
who had to make no concession to themselves for com-
ing, inasmuch as society permitted; and who would be
heartfully disappointed in a lecture on hygiene that did
not discuss the more intimate matters of the senses,
Paula did not appraise the opposite sex at any higher
value. She merely reviewed matters which had come
to her vividly as some of the crowning frailties of
her own kind. The centre of the whole affair, Dr.
Bellingham, was now introduced.
   He looked like a Dane at first glance. His was the
size, the dusty look and the big bone of a Dane; the
deep, downy paleness of cheek, the tumbled, though not
mussy hair. He was heavy without being adipose,
lean, but big-boned; his face was lined with years,
though miraculously young in the texture of skin. The
lips of a rather small and feminine mouth were fresh
and red as a girl's. In the softness of complexion and
the faintest possible undertone of color, it was impossible
not to think of perfected circulation and human health
brought to truest rhythm. The costliest lotions cannot
make such a skin. It is organic harmony. Exterior

 

The Remarkable Eyes



19



decoration does not delude the seeing eye any more
than a powder-magazine becomes an innocent cottage
because its walls are vine-clad.... Directly behind her,
Paula now heard a slow whisper:
   " I knew him twenty-five years ago, and he is not a
moment older to look at."
   She seemed to have heard the voice before, and
though the sentence surged with a dark significance
through her mind, she did not turn. Bellingham's words
were now caressing the intelligence of his audience. To
Paula, his soft mouth was indescribably odious with
cultured passion, red with replenishment, fresh with
that sinister satisfaction which inevitably brings to mind
a second figure, fallen, drained. His presence set to
quivering within her, fears engendered from the great
occult past. Strange deviltries would always be shad-
owed about the Bellingham image in her mind....
Here was a man who made a shrine of his body, in-
vested it with a heavy hungering God, and taught others
-women-to bow and to serve.
   To her the body was but a nunnery which enclosed
for a time an eternal element. This was basic, in-
controvertible to her understanding. All that placated
the body and helped to make fleshly desires last long,
was hostile to the eternal element. Not that the body
should be abused or neglected, but kept as nearly as
possible a clean vessel for the spirit, brought to a fine
automatic functioning. It was as clear to Paula Linster
as the faces of the women about her, that the splendid
sacrifice of Jesus was not that He had died upon the
Cross, but that He put on flesh in the beginning for the
good of infant-souled men. . . . To eat sparingly of

 

20



She Buildeth Her House



that which is good; to sleep when weary; to require
cleanliness and pure air-these were the physical laws
which worked out easily for decent minds. Beyond
such simple affairs, she did not allow the body often
to rule her brain. When, indeed, the potentialities of
her sex stirred within, Paula felt that it was the down-
pull of the old brood-mother, Earth, and not the lifting
of wings.
   Bellingham's voice correlated itself, not with the
eyes and brow, but with the Lilith mouth-that strangely
unpunished mouth. It was soft, suave. There was
in it the warmth of breath. The high white forehead
and the tousled brown hair, leonine in its masculinity
-seemed foreign as another man's. She hearkened to
the voice of a doctor used to women; one who knows
women without illusion, whom you could imagine say-
ing, " Why bless you, women never say 'no.'"
   The eyes were blue-gray, but toned very darkly. The
iris looked small in contrast to the expanse of clear
white. They were fixed like a bird's in expression, in-
capable of warming or softening, yet one did not miss
the impression that they could brighten and harden,
even to shining in the dark. Heavy blonde brows added
a look of severity.
   Paula's spirit, as if recognizing an old and mortal
enemy, gathered about itself every human protecting
emotion. Frankly hateful, she surveyed the man, listen-
ing. He talked marvellously; even in her hostility, she
had to grant that.  The great sunning cat was in his
tones, but the words were joined into clean-thought
expression, rapid, vivid, unanswerable. He did not
speak long; the first meeting was largely formative.

 

The Remarkable Eyes



Paula knew he was studying his company, and watched
him peer into the faces of the women. His mouth
occasionally softened in the most winsome and en-
gaging way, while his words ran on with the re-
fined wisdom of ages. And always to her, his eyes
stood out cold, hard, deadly.
   Finally, she was conscious that they were roving
near her; moving left to right, from face to face,
as a collection-plate might have been passed.  Her
first thought was to leave; but fear never failed to
arouse an impulse to face out the cause. The second
thought was to keep her eyes lowered. This she tried.
His words came clearly now, as she stared down into
the shadow-the perfectly carved thoughts, bright and
swift like a company of soldiers moving in accord.
As seconds passed, this down-staring became insufferable
as though some one were holding her head. She could
not breathe under repression. Always it had been so;
the irresistible maddened the very centres of her reason
-a locked room, a hand or a will stronger than her
own.
   Raising her head with a gasp, as one coming to the
surface from a great depth of water, she met Belling-
ham's glance unerringly as a shaft of light. He had
waited for this instant. The eyes now boring into her
own, seemed lifted apart from all material things, veri-
table essences of light, as if they caught and held the
full rays of every arc-lamp in the Hall. Warmth and
smiling were not in them; instead, the spirit of conquest
aroused; incarnate preying-power, dead to pity and
humor. Here was Desire toothed, taloned, quick with
every subtle art of nature. Something at war with God,



21

 

She Buildeth Her House



his eyes expressed to her. Failing to master God, fail-
ing to foul the centres of creative purity, this Some-
thing devoured the souls of women. Continually his
voice sought to drug her brain. The fine edge was gone
from her perceptions; dulled, she was, to all but his say-
ings. There was a chill behind and above her eyes; it
swept backward and seemed to converge in the coarser
ganglia at the base of her brain. Once she had seen
a bird hop and flutter lower and lower among the
branches of a lilacbush. On the ground below was a
cat with head twisted upward-its vivid and implacable
eyes distending. Paula could understand now the crip-
pling magnetism the bird felt.... Finally she could hear
only the words of Bellingham, and feel only his power.
What he was saying now to her was truth, the un-
qualified truth of more-than-man.
   When his eyes turned away, she felt ill, futile, im-
mersed in an indescribable inner darkness. Her fingers
pained cruelly, and she realized she had been clutching
with all her strength the book in her hand-Quentin
Charter's book-which she had begun since morning.
She could not remember a single one of his sentences
which had impressed her, for her brain was tired and
ineffectual, as after a prolonged fever, but she held fast
to the bracing effect of an optimistic philosophy. Then
finally out of the helplessness of one pitifully stricken,
a tithe of her old vitality returned. She used it at
once, rose from her seat to leave the Hall. Into the base
of her brain again, as she neared the door, penetrated
the protest of his eyes. Had she been unable to go on,
she would have screamed. She felt the eyes of the



22

 

             The Remarkable Eyes                  23

women, too; the whole, a ghastly experience. Once
outside, she wanted to run.
   Not the least astonishing was the quick obliteration
of it all. This was because her sensations were the result
of an influence foreign to her own nature. In a few
moments she felt quite well and normal again, and was
conscious of a tendency to make light of the whole pro-
ceeding. She reached home shortly after ten, angered
at herself-inexplicable perversity-because she had taken
Bellingham and the women so seriously. . .. That
night she finished one of the big books of her life-
Quentin Charter's "A Damsel Came to Peter." When
the dawn stole into the little flat, her eyes were stinging,
and her temples felt stretched apart from the recent hours.


 

SECOND CHAPTER



PAULA CONTEMPLATES THE WALL OF A HUNDRED
    WINDOWS, AND THE MYSTERIOUS MADAME
       NESTOR CALLS AT THE ZOROASTER

   PAULA had never felt such a consciousness of vitality
as the next forenoon, after three or four hours' sleep.
She was just unrested enough to be alive with tension.
Her physical and mental capacities seemed expanded
beyond all common bounds, and her thoughts tumbled
about playfully in full arenic light, as athletes awaiting
the beginning of performance. She plunged into a tub
of cool water with such delight as thoroughly to souse
her hair, so it became necessary to spend a half-hour
in the sunlight by the open window, combing and fan-
ning, her mind turning over wonderful things.
   If you ever looked across a valley of oaks and
maples and elms in the full morning glow of mid-
October, you can divine the glory of red and brown
and gold which was this fallen hair. One must medi-
tate long to suggest with words the eyes of Paula
Linster; perhaps the best her chronicler can do is to
offer a glimpse from time to time. Just now you are
asked for the sake of her eyes to visualize that lustrous
valley once more-only in a dusk that enriches rather
than dims. A memorably beautiful young woman,
sitting there by the open window-one of the elect
would have said.
   The difficulty in having to do with Linster attrac-
                        24

 

Madame Nestor Calls



25



tions is to avoid rising into rhapsody. One thinks of
stars and lakes, angels and autumn lands, because his
heart is full as a country-boy's, and high clean-clipped
thinking is choked. Certainly, once having known such
a woman, you will never fall under the spell of Wein-
inger, or any other scale-eyed genius. There is an
inspiring reach to that hard-handled word, Culture,
when it is used about a woman like this. It means so
pure a fineness as neither to require nor to be capable
of ostentation; and yet, a fineness that wears and gives
and associates with heroisms. You think of a lineage
that for centuries has not been fouled by brutality or
banality, and has preserved a glowing human warmth,
too, to retain the spirit of woman. When men rise
to the real an