His studio was a confusion of silks, cut velvets, tapestries, embroideries, carpets of the East, lay figures glittering with replicas of priceless armour. Delicate fabrics trailed over chair and floor almost under foot; inlaid and gem-hilted weapons, illuminated missals, glass-cased papyri, gilded zones, filets, girdles, robes of fur, hoods, wallets, helmets, hats, lay piled up, everywhere in methodical disorder. And into and out of the studio passed male models of all statures, all ages, venerable, bearded men, men in their prime, men with the hard-hammered features and thick, sinewy necks of gladiators, men slender and pallid as dreaming scholars, youths that might have worn the gold-red elf-locks and the shoulder cloak of Venice, youth chiselled in a beauty as dark and fierce as David wore when the mailed giant went crashing earthward under the smooth round pebble from his sling.
Valerie's turn in this splendid panoply was soon over. Even had she been so inclined there was, of course, no place for her to visit now, no place to sit and watch him among all these men. After hours, once or twice, she came in to tea—to gossip a little with the old-time ease, and barter with him epigram for jest, nonsense for inconsequence. Yet, subtly—after she had gone home—she felt the effort. Either he or she had imperceptibly changed; she knew not which was guilty; but she knew.
THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS (Excerpt)
In the city of New York the summer of 1899 was
signalized by the dismantling of the Elevated Railroads. The summer
of 1900 will live in the memories of New York people for many a
cycle; the Dodge Statue was removed in that year. In the following
winter began that agitation for the repeal of the laws prohibiting
suicide which bore its final fruit in the month of April, 1920, when
the first Government Lethal Chamber was opened on Washington Square.
I had walked down that day from Dr. Archer's house
on Madison Avenue, where I had been as a mere formality. Ever since
that fall from my horse, four years before, I had been troubled at
times with pains in the back of my head and neck, but now for months
they had been absent, and the doctor sent me away that day saying
there was nothing more to be cured in me. It was hardly worth his fee
to be told that; I knew it myself. Still I did not grudge him the
money. What I minded was the mistake which he made at first. When
they picked me up from the pavement where I lay unconscious, and
somebody had mercifully sent a bullet through my horse's head, I was
carried to Dr. Archer, and he, pronouncing my brain affected, placed
me in his private asylum where I was obliged to endure treatment for
insanity. At last he decided that I was well, and I, knowing that my
mind had always been as sound as his, if not sounder, "paid my
tuition" as he jokingly called it, and left. I told him,
smiling, that I would get even with him for his mistake, and he
laughed heartily, and asked me to call once in a while. I did so,
hoping for a chance to even up accounts, but he gave me none, and I
told him I would wait.
The fall from my horse had fortunately left no
evil results; on the contrary it had changed my whole character for
the better. From a lazy young man about town, I had become active,
energetic, temperate, and above all—oh, above all else—ambitious.
There was only one thing which troubled me, I laughed at my own
uneasiness, and yet it troubled me.
During my convalescence I had bought and read for
the first time, The King in Yellow. I remember after finishing
the first act that it occurred to me that I had better stop. I
started up and flung the book into the fireplace; the volume struck
the barred grate and fell open on the hearth in the firelight. If I
had not caught a glimpse of the opening words in the second act I
should never have finished it, but as I stooped to pick it up, my
eyes became riveted to the open page, and with a cry of terror, or
perhaps it was of joy so poignant that I suffered in every nerve, I
snatched the thing out of the coals and crept shaking to my bedroom,
where I read it and reread it, and wept and laughed and trembled with
a horror which at times assails me yet...
Robert William Chambers (May 26, 1865 – December 16, 1933) was an
American artist and fiction writer, best known for his book of short
stories entitled The King in Yellow, a collection of Art Nouveau short stories published in 1895. This included several famous weird short stories which are connected by the theme of a fictitious drama of the same title, which drives those who read it insane. E. F. Bleiler described The King in Yellow as one of the most important works of American supernatural fiction. It was also strongly admired by H. P. Lovecraft and his circle.
Chambers returned to the weird genre in his later short story collections The Maker of Moons, The Mystery of Choice and The Tree of Heaven, but none earned him as much success as The King in Yellow. Some of Chambers's work contains elements of science fiction, such as In Search of the Unknown and Police!!!, about a zoologist who encounters monsters.
Chambers later turned to writing romantic fiction
to earn a living. According to some estimates, Chambers had one of the
most successful literary careers of his period, his later novels selling
well and a handful achieving best-seller status. Many of his works were
also serialized in magazines.