The Hippodrome

Rachel Hayward
The Hippodrome, by Rachel

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Title: The Hippodrome
Author: Rachel Hayward

Release Date: November 28, 2006 [eBook #19943]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Al Haines



George H. Doran Company New York Copyright, 1913, By George H.
Doran Company


"Car vois-tu chaque jour je t'aime davantage, Aujourd'hui plus qu'hier,
et bien moins que demain." (Rosemonde Rostand)

"Aujourd'hui le primtetemps, Ninon, demain l'hiver. Quoi! tu nas pas
l'étoile, est tu vas sur la mer!" DE MUSSET.
Count Emile Poleski was obliged to be at the Barcelona Station at five
o'clock in the afternoon one hot Friday in May. His business, having to
do with that which was known to himself and his associates as "the
Cause," necessitated careful attention, and required the performance of
certain manoeuvres in such a way that they should be unobserved by
the various detectives to whom he was an object of interest.
He looked round, scowling, till he found the man he wanted, and who
was to all outward appearances the driver of one of the row of fiacres
that waited outside the station. Cigarettes were exchanged, and a tiny

slip of paper passed imperceptibly from hand to hand, then he turned
ostensibly to watch the incoming train from Port-Bou. As he was on the
platform it would be better to look as if he had come to meet someone,
and as he had nothing particular to do just then it would make a
distraction to watch the various types of humanity arriving at this
continental Buenos Ayres, the city of romance, anarchy, commerce and
varied vices.
Emile Poleski called it l'entresol de l'enfer, and certainly he was not
there by his own choice. It was the centre of intrigue, and to intrigue his
life, intellect, and the little money he had left from his Polish estates,
were devoted. To him life meant "The Cause," and that exigeant
mistress left little room for other and more natural affections.
In his career women did not count, at least they did not count as women.
If they had money to spend, or brains and energies that could be
utilised, that was a different matter. He had a trick of studying people
as one studies natural history through a microscope.
It was all very interesting, but when one had done with the specimens
one threw them away and looked about for fresh material.
The train came in, slackened speed and stopped, and its contents
resolved themselves into little groups of people all hunting with more
or less excitement for their luggage, and porters to convey the same to
The figure of a girl who had just alighted and was standing alone,
caught and held his roving eyes. The pose of her abnormally slim body
had all the grace of a figure on a Grecian vase in its clean curves and
easy balance.
Her head was beautifully set upon a long throat, and her feet were
conspicuously slender and delicate in their high French boots of
champagne-coloured kid. Her face, which as far as he could see was of
a startling pallor, was obscured by a white lace veil tied loosely round
her Panama hat, and left to fall down her back in floating ends; and she
wore a rather crumpled, cream-coloured dress.

She stood, looking round, as if uncertain how to act, evidently in
expectation of someone to meet her. No one appeared and she moved
off in search of a porter. Emile followed at a reasonable distance.
Books he found desperately dull, but humanity in any shape or form
was attractive to him, and the girl's appearance appealed to a deeply
embedded love of the exotic and mysterious.
He watched with cynical amusement as she tried to explain her wishes
in French to a porter, who spoke only the dialect of Catalonia. Her
voice finally decided Emile on his line of conduct. Low-pitched it was,
with subtle inflections, and with a hoarseness in the lower notes such as
one hears in the voices of Jewish women.
A woman, whose vocal notes were of that enchanting timbre, was
likely to prove interesting.
He advanced a few steps nearer, saying in French, "I speak the
language. Can I be of any use?"
The girl turned, giving him a comprehensive glance, and bowed
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