Charles Aldarondo and the Online Distributed Proofreading team.
By Upton Sinclair
To Jack London
"I am," said Reggie Mann, "quite beside myself to meet this Lucy
"Who told you about her?" asked Allan Montague.
"Ollie's been telling everybody about her," said Reggie. "It sounds
really wonderful. But I fear he must have exaggerated."
"People seem to develop a tendency to exaggeration," said Montague,
"when they talk about Lucy."
"I am in quite a state about her," said Reggie.
Allan Montague looked at him and smiled. There were no visible signs
of agitation about Reggie. He had come to take Alice to church, and
he was exquisitely groomed and perfumed, and wore a wonderful
scarlet orchid in his buttonhole. Montague, lounging back in a big
leather chair and watching him, smiled to himself at the thought
that Reggie regarded Lucy as a new kind of flower, with which he
might parade down the Avenue and attract attention.
"Is she large or small?" asked Reggie.
"She is about your size," said Montague,--which was very small
Alice entered at this moment in a new spring costume. Reggie sprang
to his feet, and greeted her with his inevitable effusiveness.
When he asked, "Do you know her, too?"
"Who? Lucy?" asked Alice. "I went to school with her."
"Judge Dupree's plantation was next to ours," said Montague. "We all
grew up together."
"There was hardly a day that I did not see her until she was
married," said Alice. "She was married at seventeen, you know--to a
man much older than herself."
"We have never seen her since that," added the other. "She has lived
in New Orleans."
"And only twenty-two now," exclaimed Reggie. "All the wisdom of a
widow and the graces of an ingenue!" And he raised his hands with a
gesture of admiration.
"Has she got money?" he asked.
"She had enough for New Orleans," was the reply. "I don't know about
"Ah well," he said meditatively, "there's plenty of money lying
He took Alice away to her devotions, leaving Montague to the
memories which the mention of Lucy Dupree awakened.
Allan Montague had been in love with Lucy a half a dozen times in
his life; it had begun when she was a babe in arms, and continued
intermittently until her marriage. Lucy was a beauty of the creole
type, with raven-black hair and gorgeous colouring; and Allan
carried with him everywhere the face of joy, with the quick, mobile
features across which tears and laughter chased like April showers
across the sky.
Lucy was a tiny creature, as he had said, but she was a well-spring
of abounding energy. She had been the life of a lonely household
from the first hour, and all who came near her yielded to her spell.
Allan remembered one occasion when he had entered the house and seen
the grave and venerable chief justice of the State down upon his
hands and knees, with Lucy on his back.
She was a born actress, everybody said. When she was no more than
four, she would lie in bed when she should have been asleep, and
tell herself tragic stories to make her weep. Before long she had
discovered several chests full of the clothes which her mother had
worn in the days when she was a belle of the old plantation society;
and then Lucy would have tableaus and theatricals, and would
astonish all beholders in the role of an Oriental princess or a
Queen of the Night.
Her mother had died when she was very young, and she had grown up
with only her father for a companion. Judge Dupree was one of the
rich men of the neighbourhood, and he lavished everything upon his
daughter; but people had said that Lucy would suffer for the lack of
a woman's care, and the prophecy had been tragically fulfilled.
There had come a man, much older than herself, but with a glamour of
romance about him; and the wonder of love had suddenly revealed
itself to Lucy, and swept her away as no emotion had ever done
One day she disappeared, and Montague had never seen her again. He
knew that she had gone to New Orleans to live, and he heard rumours
that she was very unhappy, that her husband was a spendthrift and a
rake. Scarcely a year after her marriage Montague heard the story of
his death by an accident while driving.
He had heard no more until a short time after his coming to New
York, when the home papers had reported the death of Judge Dupree.
And then a week or so ago had come a letter from Lucy, to his
brother, Oliver Montague, saying that she was coming to New York,
perhaps to live permanently, and asking him to meet her and to
engage accommodations for her in some hotel.
Montague wondered what she would be like when he saw her again. He
wondered what five years of suffering and experience would have done
for her; whether it would have weakened her enthusiasm and dried up
her springs of joy. Lucy grown serious was something that was
difficult for him to imagine.
And then again would come a mood of doubt, when he distrusted the
thrill which the memory of her brought. Would she be able to
maintain her spell in competition with what life had brought him
His revery was broken by Oliver, who came in to ask him if he wished
to go to meet her. "Those Southern trains are always several hours
late," he said. "I told my man to go over and 'phone me."
"You are to have her in charge," said Montague; "you had better see
her first. Tell her I will come in the evening." And so he went to
the great apartment hotel--the same to which Oliver had originally
introduced him. And there was Lucy.
She was just the same. He could see it in an instant; there was the
same joyfulness, the same eagerness; there was the same beauty,
which had made men's hearts leap up. There was not a line of care
upon her features--she was like a perfect flower come to its
She came to him with both her hands outstretched. "Allan!" she
cried, "Allan! I am so glad to see you!" And she caught his hands in
hers and stood and gazed at him. "My, how big you have grown, and
how serious! Isn't he splendid, Ollie?"
Oliver stood by, watching. He smiled drily. "He is a trifle too epic
for me," he said.
"Oh, my, how wonderful it seems to see you!" she exclaimed. "It
makes me think of fifty things at once. We must sit down and have a
long talk. It will take me all night to ask you all the questions I
Lucy was in mourning for her father, but she had contrived to make
her costume serve as a frame for her beauty. She seemed like a
flaming ruby against a background of black velvet. "Tell me how you
have been," she rushed on. "And what has happened to you up here?
How is your mother?"
"Just the same," said Montague; "she wants you to come around
"I will," said Lucy,--"the first thing, before I go anywhere. And
Mammy Lucy! How is Mammy Lucy?"
"She is well," he replied. "She's beside herself to see you."
"Tell her I am coming!" said she. "I would rather see Mammy Lucy
than the Brooklyn Bridge!"
She led him to a seat, placed herself opposite him, devouring him