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A Lost Day
by [?]

“My Family,” John Dalrymple would say, “have the strange failing (that is, nearly all of them except myself, on the paternal side) of—-“

And then somebody would always try to interrupt him. At the Gramercy, the small but charming club of which he had been for years an honored member, they made a point of interrupting him when he began on his family failing. Not a few of them held to the belief that it was a myth of Dalrymple’s imagination. Still, others argued, all of the clan except John himself had been a queer lot; there was no real certainty that they had not done extraordinary acts. Meanwhile, apart from his desire to delve among ancestral records and repeat tales which had been told many times before, he was a genuine favorite with his friends. But that series of family anecdotes remained a standing joke.

They all pitied him when it became known that his engagement to the pretty winsome widow, Mrs. Carrington, was definitely broken. He was past forty now, and had not been known to pay serious court to any woman before in at least ten years. Of course Mrs. Carrington was rich. But then her money could not have attracted Dalrymple, for he was rich himself, in spite of his plain way of living there in that small Twenty-second Street basement house.

But the widow’s money had doubtless lured to her side the gentleman who had cut poor Dalrymple out. A number of years ago, when this little occurrence which we are chronicling took place, it was not so easy as it is now to make sure of a foreigner’s credentials and antecedents. The Count de Pommereul, a reputed French nobleman of high position, had managed to get into the Gramercy as a six-months’ member, and had managed also to cross the thresholds of numerous select New York drawing-rooms. At the very period of his introduction to Mrs. Carrington her engagement with Dalrymple had already become publicly announced. Then, in a few weeks, society received a shock. Dalrymple was thrown over, and it transpired that the brilliant young widow was betrothed to the Count.

Dalrymple, calm and self-contained, had nothing to say on the subject of why he had received such shabby treatment, and nobody ventured to interrogate him. Some people believed in the Count, others thought that there was a ring of falsity about him, for all his frame was so elegantly slender and supple, for all his mustache was so glossily dark, and his eyes so richly lustrous. Dalrymple meanwhile hid his wound, met the Count constantly at the Club, though no longer even exchanging bows with him, and–worked at his revenge in secret as a beaver works at the building of his winter ranch. He succeeded, too, in getting superb materials for that revenge. They surprised even himself when a few relatives and friends in Paris mailed him appalling documentary evidence as to what sort of a character this Count really was. There is no doubt that he now held in his hand a thunderbolt, and had only to hurl it when he pleased.

He did not tell a single soul what he had learned. The thought of just how he should act haunted him for several days. One evening he went home from the club a little earlier than usual, and tossed restlessly for a good while after going to bed. When sleep came it found him still irresolute as to what course he should take.

It seemed to him that he had now a succession of dreams, but he could recall none of them on awaking. And he awoke in a peculiar way. There was yet no hint of dawn in the room, and only the light from his gas, turned down to a very dim star. He was sitting bolt upright in bed, and feverish, fatigued sensations oppressed him. “What have I been dreaming?” he asked himself again and again. But as only a confused jumble of memories answered him, he sank back upon the pillows, and was soon buried in slumber.