Cupid’s Understudy
By Edward Salisbury Field

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Public Domain Books

Chapter Eleven

When I awoke, late next morning, it was to find myself, if not famous, at least conspicuous; in the Los Angeles newspaper Valentine brought me with my coffee, much space was devoted to the ducal dinner.


Miss Middleton Toasted in Truly Royal Fashion by Distinguished Nephew of Russia’s Reigning Czar.

Brilliant Dinner Reaches Climax in Shower of Costly Crystal While Hostess Smiles Approval.

Disgusting as it was, I couldn’t help laughing at the pen-and-ink sketch which accompanied it—a sketch of the duke, with crowned head, and breast covered with decorations, smiling fatuously from within a rakish bordef, of broken champagne glasses.

But there was worse to come. On another page under the heading:


a distorted Cupid supported pictures of Blakely and me, while beneath our pictures, a most fulsome chronicle of untruths was presented. “Mr. Porter first met his fiancee on shipboard . . . Being of that fine old New York stock which never takes ’no’ for an answer, he followed her to Santa Barbara . . . If rumor is to be credited, the Grand Duke Alexander, as well as Cupid, was concerned in this singularly up-to-date love affair . . . Mr. Porter’s sister, the Countess de Bienville, is a well-known leader in exclusive Parisian circles . . . Miss Middleton an only daughter of Thomas Middleton, the mining magnate . . . Although slightly indisposed, His Imperial Highness granted an interview to our representative late last evening. If the time-worn adage, in vino veritas, is to be believed; it is certain that the wedding will not only take place soon, but that the favorite nephew of the Czar of all the Russias will himself appear in this charming romance of throbbing hearts, playing the role of best man.”

It was really too dreadful; my cheeks burned with mortification and anger.

People had assured me the horrid little American newspaper published in Paris was not typical of America—that it was no more than a paid panderer to seekers after notoriety. Yet here in California, my own dear California, a newspaper had dared print my picture without my consent, had thrown its ugly light on the sweet story of my love serving it up in yellow paragraphs for the benefit of the bootblack, the butcher, the waiter in cheap restaurants. What a hideous world!

Pleading a sick headache, I stayed in my room till tea time.

We had tea at five, Blakely and I, on the roof of the hotel. I looked across the channel to the distant islands, followed the sweet contour of the shore, watched the aimless flight of sea-gulls; turning, I scanned the friendly hills, the mountains painted in the tender colors of late afternoon—I looked into Blakely’s eyes. It was a beautiful world, after all. “Let’s try and forget that awful newspaper,” I said.

“I forgot it long ago, dear.”

“You also seem to have forgotten that some one may appear any minute.”

“Let’s try and forget that some one may appear any minute.”

“I can’t.”

“You shouldn’t say ’I can’t,’ Elizabeth; you should say ’I’ll try’.”

It is really surprising what one can do when one tries.


Chapter One  •  Chapter Two  •  Chapter Three  •  Chapter Four  •  Chapter Five  •  Chapter Six  •  Chapter Seven  •  Chapter Eight  •  Chapter Nine  •  Chapter Ten  •  Chapter Eleven  •  Chapter Twelve

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Cupids understudy,
By Edward Salisbury Field
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