The Lady and the Lord

Talbot Mundy

by Talbot Mundy
From The All Story Magazine, June 1911
Poverty and plenty lock hands and do an entirely American cakewalk on very English soil.

An actress who is not exactly in the first flight is bound to be more or less of a nomad; so there was nothing particularly astonishing in not hearing from Mrs. Crothers for several months.
True, she might have written; but if she were ever to become famous, her autograph would be valuable for its very rarity, for she seldom wrote to any one. When she went away from New York with some touring company or other, she simply dropped out of her friends' existence for a while; and when she came back again, she resumed her acquaintanceship just as she had left it off, without explanation or comment.
So it was even less astonishing that she should arrive at my flat one afternoon, panting from the exertion of climbing so many stairs, and demand tea. That was to be expected of her.
What really was remarkable was her gorgeous raiment. It was so magnificent and up-to-date that even Ugly, my mongrel hound, scarcely knew her.
She rang my bell as though it were a fire-alarm, and, when I opened the door for her, pushed past me into the sitting-room with an air of indescribable importance. Then she threw her new fur jacket over the typewriter, as a signal that work was over for the day, and subsided into my arm-chair.
I produced tea and cigarettes, and sent the boy out for cakes, and while he was gone for them, I stood and gazed at her in the silent wonder and admiration that I knew was expected of me.
As soon as the cakes came, Ugly laid his gigantic muzzle in her lap; and it was not until she had given him about half a dollar's worth that she paid any attention to me.
"You'll make him awfully sick!" I ventured presently.
"Nonsense! A change of diet's good for him. Besides, I like to feed him."
That, of course, settled it. I relapsed into my former condition of awe and bewilderment.
"You notice it, then?" she asked me, with the least suspicion of a smile, when Ugly had swallowed the last of the cakes.
"I'm not blind! Climb off that high horse, Kitty, and tell me all about it."
"That's what I came round for."
"I knew you did. I'm waiting."
"You're in too much of a hurry. I don't think you've admired me enough yet! "
"It's like Ugly and the cakes. You'd like some more awfully, but wouldn't be good for you. You'll have to tell me the story first, if you want any more admiration. Besides, I'm too dazzled to be able to think of any words that would do you justice."
"It isn't a story at all. It's something that really happened. I've just come back from England."
This was really amazing. That Kitty Crothers should cross the Atlantic was almost unbelievable. She hated to leave Broadway, and it was only stern necessity that induced her to travel even in her own country.
"Did you get all that finery in London?"
"No, Paris! But I'll come to that presently. I must tell you first what I went for."
"I can guess that. Your late husband owned some property over there, or was heir to it, or said he was. You went over there to collect. Isn't that right?"
"More or less. But how did you know?"
Shortly after her husband's death I had recommended a lawyer to her on that very business. He had failed to trace any connection between the late Amos Crothers and the Carruthers estates in Essex; but he sent in a bill of costs which I had to settle. So the question seemed just a leetle bit superfluous. But as she seemed to have forgotten the incident, it seemed best to equivocate.
"You told me yourself," I said. "Go on."
"I'm going on, if you'll only give me time. The first trouble I had was raising enough money for the trip. Of course the passage itself didn't cost so much, but you've got to have some money at the other end, haven't you?"
She seemed to expect an answer, so I said that in my experience money was quite useful in England.
"Well, I never met with such difficulty in my life. I tried at first to syndicate myself, but you'd never believe how incredulous people are--at least, all the people who've got money!"
"That's how they get it, Kitty."
"Do they? It isn't how I got it."
Her face broke up into dimples as she smiled reminiscently. It was evidently a good story that was coming, but she kept me waiting several minutes for it while she enjoyed the memory of it herself.
I had to break into her reverie.
"How did you get the money for the trip?" I asked.
"I didn't get it. That's the
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