“Do you not think ‘Our Lady of the Poppies’ remarkable?” said Gianapolis, pleasantly.
“I think,” replied Denise Ryland,—to whom, also, the Greek had been presented by Olaf van Noord, “that it indicates... a disordered... imagination on the part of... its creator.”
“It is a technical masterpiece,” replied the Greek, smiling, “but hardly a work of imagination; for you have seen the original of the principal figure, and”—he turned to Helen Cumberly—“one need not go very far East for such an interior as that depicted.”
“What!” Helen knitted her brows, prettily—“you do not suggest that such an apartment actually exists either East or West?”
Gianapolis beamed radiantly.
“You would, perhaps, like to see such an apartment?” he suggested.
“I should, certainly,” replied Helen Cumberly. “Not even in a stage setting have I seen anything like it.”
“You have never been to the East?”
“Never, unfortunately. I have desired to go for years, and hope to go some day.”
“In Smyrna you may see such rooms; possibly in Port Said—certainly in Cairo. In Constantinople—yes! But perhaps in Paris; and—who knows?—Sir Richard Burton explored Mecca, but who has explored London?”
Helen Cumberly watched him curiously.
“You excite my curiosity,” she said. “Don’t you think”—turning to Denise Ryland—“he is most tantalizing?”
Denise Ryland distended her nostrils scornfully.
“He is telling... fairy tales,” she declared. “He thinks... we are... silly!”
“On the contrary,” declared Gianapolis; “I flatter myself that I am too good a judge of character to make that mistake.”
Helen Cumberly absorbed his entire attention; in everything he sought to claim her interest; and when, ere taking their departure, the girl and her friend walked around the studio to view the other pictures, Gianapolis was the attendant cavalier, and so well as one might judge, in his case, his glance rarely strayed from the piquant beauty of Helen.
When they departed, it was Gianapolis, and not Olaf van Noord, who escorted them to the door and downstairs to the street. The red lips of the Eurasian smiled upon her circle of adulators, but her eyes—her unfathomable eyes—followed every movement of the Greek.
GROVE OF A MILLION APES
Four men sauntered up the grand staircase and entered the huge smoking-room of the Radical Club as Big Ben was chiming the hour of eleven o’clock. Any curious observer who had cared to consult the visitor’s book in the hall, wherein the two lines last written were not yet dry, would have found the following entries:
Dr. Bruce Cumberly London John Exel
M. Gaston Paris Brian Malpas