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Title: Suzanna Stirs the Fire
Author: Blake, Emily Calvin, 1882-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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SUZANNA STIRS THE FIRE

  [Illustration: "I've come to you, Mrs. Reynolds, to stay. I've
    adopted myself out to you"
                                                     [_Page 83_]]


Suzanna Stirs the Fire

BY

Emily Calvin Blake

_Author of "Marcia of the Little Home," etc._



Illustrations by F. V. Poole


[Illustration]


CHICAGO

A. C. McCLURG & CO.

1915

Copyright

A. C. McClurg & Co. 1915

Published September, 1915

Copyrighted in Great Britain



W. F. HALL PRINTING COMPANY, CHICAGO



CONTENTS

          BOOK I

          CHAPTER                                 PAGE

              I The Tucked-In Day                   3

             II The Only Child                     27

            III With Father in the Attic           40

             IV The New Dress                      55

              V Suzanna Comes to a Decision        69

             VI Suzanna Makes her Entry            82

            VII Regrets                            88

           VIII Suzanna Meets a Character          99

             IX A Leaf Missing from the Bible     119

              X A Picnic in the Woods             132


          BOOK II

             XI The Indian Drill                  161

            XII Drusilla's Reminiscences          172

           XIII Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett        185

            XIV The Stray Dog                     197

             XV A Lent Mother                     215

            XVI Suzanna Aids Cupid                221

           XVII A Simple Wedding                  236

          XVIII The Eagle Man Visits the Attic    253

            XIX Suzanna Puts a Request            265

             XX Drusilla Sets Out on a Journey    278

            XXI Mr. Bartlett Sees the Machine     292


          BOOK III

           XXII Happy Days                        307

          XXIII To the Seashore                   320

           XXIV The Seashore                      329

            XXV Last Days                         341

           XXVI Suzanna and her Father            345



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                    PAGE

          "I've come to you, Mrs. Reynolds, to stay. I've adopted
            myself out to you"                              _Frontispiece_

          The prettiest old lady she had ever seen                    14

          Very carefully he looked at the mended place               116

          "We thought you might like a dog," began Suzanna           206



BOOK I



SUZANNA STIRS THE FIRE



CHAPTER I

THE TUCKED-IN DAY


Maizie wanted to sleep a little longer, but though the clock had but
just chimed six Suzanna was up and had drawn the window curtain letting
in a flood of sunshine. Maizie lay watching her sister, her gray eyes
still blurred with sleep; not wide and interested as a little later they
would be. Her soft little features expressing her naïve personality
seemed unsubtle, yet of contours so lovely in this period just after
babyhood that one longed to cuddle her.

Suzanna stood a long time at the window, so long indeed that Maizie
feared she was lost to all materialities. Suzanna, wonderful one, who
could strike from dull stuff magic dreams; who could vivify and
gloriously color the little things of life; who could into the simplest
happenings read thrilling interpretations! What bliss to accompany her
upon her wanderings, and what sadness to be forgotten!

Indeed Suzanna seemed oblivious. Certainly in spirit she was absent and
at last Maizie could bear the silence no longer.

"Suzanna!" she cried.

Then Suzanna turned. She did not speak, however, but placed a warning
finger upon her lips. Then she went swiftly to the closet and took down
her best white dress. She laid it tenderly on the back of a chair till
she had found in the lowest bureau drawer her white stockings and
slippers, then she brushed and combed her hair, confined it lightly with
a length of ribbon, washed her hands and face in the little bowl which
stood in one corner near the window and leisurely donned the white
dress.

Maizie sat straight up in bed watching in amazement. At last Suzanna
glanced over at her little wistful sister, then in stately fashion
advanced toward the bed, till close to Maizie she paused. Tall and
slender she stood, with eyes amber-colored, eyes which turned to black
in moments of deep emotion. Her brown hair touched with copper sprang
back from her brow in waving grace; her delicate features called for
small attention, excepting her mouth which was softly curved, eager of
speech, grave, mutinous, the most expressive part of an expressive
face.

Suzanna danced through life, sang her way to the hearts of others, left
her touch wherever she went; yet, beneath the lightness, philosophies of
life formed themselves intuitively, one after another, truer perhaps in
their findings than those which filtered through the pure intellect of
the grown-up.

At length she spoke to Maizie. "You mustn't say anything to me, Maizie,
unless I ask you a question," she commanded, "because I'm a princess who
lives in a crystal palace in a wonderful country with oceans and
mountains."

Maizie did not reply; what could she say? Simply she stared as Suzanna
moved gracefully about the room with the slow movements she considered
fitting a princess.

At last she returned to the bed. She began: "Maizie, I wish you to rise,
dress thyself, then go into thy parents' room and if the baby is awake,
dress him as Suzanna, thy sister, did when she was here and not a
princess."

Maizie rose and obediently dressed herself, ever watchful of Suzanna and
thrilled by the new personality which seemed to have entered with the
princess. When she was quite dressed, even to her little enshrouding
gingham apron, she asked:

"Are you going to school today, Suzanna?"

Suzanna fixed her eyes in the distance.

"I'm here, Princess," corrected Maizie, "right in front of you. You can
touch me with your hand. And besides, I had to ask that question. It was
burning on my tongue."

Suzanna did not stir. At last: "I'm not going to school today," she half
chanted. "A princess does not go to school. She wanders through the
fields and over the mountains and when she returns to her palace she
eats roses smothered in cream."

"Oh," cried Maizie. "Rose petals are bitter and beside we only have
cream on Sundays."

Suzanna turned away. Sometimes she found it a trifle difficult to play
with Maizie. She went slowly, majestically down the stairs and into the
little parlor. She regretted she had no train, since she might switch it
about as she walked. But she could _think_ she had a train, and ever and
anon glance behind to see that it had not curled up.

In the parlor she stood and looked about her. Her physical eyes saw the
worn spots in the carpet, the picture of her father's mother, faded and
dim, her own "crayon," the old horsehair sofa and chair, and the piano
with its yellow keys and its scratched case. But with her inner eyes
she beheld a lovely rose-colored room, heaped with soft rugs and
satin-lined chairs; fine, soft-grained woods, and a harp studded with
rare jewels.

At first she stood alone. Then by a slight wave of her hand she
commanded the appearance of many ladies and gentlemen who came and bowed
low before her. While she was still living in her vision, her father
descended the stairs and entered the parlor. He started at sight of
Suzanna all dressed in her best.

"I'm a princess, father," said Suzanna.

"A princess?" he repeated.

Her father wore his store clothes, shiny and grown tight for him. Above
his winged collar his sensitive face showed pale and thin in the early
morning light. His eyes, brown, soft, were like Suzanna's--they had
vision. He smiled now, half whimsically and wholly lovingly at her.

"An eight-year-old princess," he said. Then the smile faded, and he half
turned to the door. "Well, that's all right, your Majesty," he said.
"Continue with your play. I'm going up into the attic just for ten
minutes."

"You'll be late for the store, won't you, daddy?" she asked, anxiously,
forgetting for the moment her rôle.

He turned upon her quickly. "Late for the store!" he cried, "late to
weigh nails, sell wash boards, and mops. What does that matter, my dear,
when by my invention the world will some day be better." Suddenly the
passion died from his voice. He stood again the tall shabby figure,
somewhat stooped, with long fine hands that moved restlessly. "Ah, well,
Suzanna," he went on, "weighing nails brings us our livelihood."

Suzanna went and stood close to him. She put her small hand out and
touched his arm. "Daddy," she said, earnestly, "this is my tucked-in
day. I'm going to have two of them. Perhaps you can have a tucked-in day
sometime when you can work for hours at your invention."

Again he smiled at her. "Where did you get your tucked-in day, Suzanna,"
he asked.

"Why, it's a great beautiful white space that comes between last week
and this. It's all empty, that big space, and so I have filled it in
with a day of my own. If mother will let me, I'm going to have two
tucked-in days. On the first I'm a princess, and on the second, I shall
be an Only Child."

"Very well, little girl," said Suzanna's father. "And now I hear others
moving about upstairs. Will you stay to breakfast with us, Princess?"

"Oh, yes," said Suzanna, who began to feel the healthy pangs of hunger.
"I suppose perhaps I had better set the table."

A half-hour later the house was in a bustle. The baby was crying, Peter,
the five-year-old, was sliding in his usual exuberant manner down the
banisters, and at the stove in the kitchen, Mrs. Procter, the mother,
was filling pans and opening and closing the oven door with quick,
somewhat noisy movements.

When in time all were gathered about the dining table, they were an
interesting looking family. Mrs. Procter, young, despite her four
children, wore a little worried frown strangely at conflict with her
palpable desire to make the best of things. She darted here and there,
soothing the baby with a practiced hand, pouring her husband's coffee,
helping voracious Peter, her busy mind anticipating all the day's tasks.
Suzanna loved and admired her mother. She loved the way the luxuriant
dark hair was wound round and round the small head. She loved the rare
smile, the soft blue eyes fringed in black lashes. She liked to meet
those eyes when they were filled with understanding, when they seemed to
speak as plainly as the tender lips made just for lullabies--and
encouragements when the inventor-father stumbled, lost his belief in
himself and in his Machine.

Maizie, younger than Suzanna by only a year, looked like her
mother--sweet, very practical, always in a wide-eyed condition of
surprise at Suzanna's wonderful imagination; a dependable little body
who rarely fell from grace by reason of naughtiness.

Peter, a strange composite of his dreamy father and practical mother,
sat near the baby. Peter had had a twin, a little girl, who died when
she was three years old. Sometimes, even now, Peter cried himself to
sleep for Helen.

The baby, now crowing in his armchair beside his mother, was a bright
little chap of not quite a year. Too plump to even try his sturdy legs,
he was oftentimes very much of a burden to his devoted sisters.

Mrs. Procter's eyes had taken in at once Suzanna's finery, but Mrs.
Procter knew Suzanna; besides she did not always ask a direct question.
Suzanna's mind worked clearly, but it worked by its own laws. So now the
mother waited and toward the end of the meal she was rewarded for her
patience. Suzanna put down her fork and began:

"Mother, this is my first tucked-in day to do as I please in. I know
Monday's supposed to be wash day, but you said it wasn't a big wash and
I did all the sorting Saturday night. I am all fixed up for a princess,
and something inside me tells me I must wander about my palace and
perhaps find paths leading to far-off snow countries."

It was Maizie who looked now questioningly at her mother. Could it be
that Suzanna would be given her own way? In truth the entire table
awaited breathlessly Mrs. Procter's answer. It came at last:

"Very well, Princess, you may have your tucked-in day."

There followed a short silence. At last:

"Mother, I must be honest with you," said Suzanna, "there are to be
_two_ tucked-in days. In my next space I want to be an Only Child."

Again her mother agreed. Rarely could she deny Suzanna her jaunts into
the land of dreams.

So after breakfast, quite free, Suzanna left the house. The little town
lay quiet, except for the rhythmic noises coming from the big Massey
Steel Mills. Suzanna looked in their direction and stood a moment
watching the sparks coming from the big round chimneys. Over across
fields were the tumble-down cottages occupied by the employees of the
Massey Steel Mills. Suzanna did not often go in their direction. The
squalor made her unhappy and set in train so many questions she was
quite unable to answer.

The day was early July with a spicy breeze that promised its delight for
many hours. Suzanna walked out into the road, and turned to gaze at the
little home in which she had been born. She loved it with its many
memories. She fancied it held its head high because it sheltered her
father's great Machine. At length she turned south toward the country.
She breathed deeply as she went, feeling how wonderful it was to be a
princess and to wander about as she pleased.

Throbbing with life and the beauty of it, the marvel of it, she began to
dance. Strange thoughts flowed through her, strange understandings,
that, little child as she was, she could find no words for. Only it
seemed color lay within her, rich color for a thought of love; a wistful
rose shade for a passing desire, a brilliant orange for the uplifting
knowledge that just to be alive was great. She stopped to gather a
passion flower because with its deep purple, its hidden heart that she
could very gently discover and gaze into, it fitted into her mood.

Oh, to be big, grown up! All these brightly winged thoughts uplifting
her, some of which puzzled her, some that frightened her, she would
quite understand then! In those far-off years of absolute knowledge
there would be no limitations; no commonplaces, only miracles. You could
make what you wished then of all your days.

She came at last upon a little house lying far back from the road. It
was like a toy house, and had stood open for years. The Procter children
had often played in the rooms of the small house, and once when Peter
was a baby he had fallen down the stairs, and his twin Helen, anguished
because he was hurt, had cried piteously until they were home again.

Now Suzanna opened the gate, mended, she noticed, and hanging straight,
and started down the garden path. Lovely old-fashioned flowers--pansies
and phlox and pinks and balsam were all in their happiest bloom. Suzanna
wondered who watered and tended them. As she lingered beside a pansy
bed, the door of the little house opened and a rather frail little old
lady came out, followed by a maid who carried a chair that was filled
with pillows. She set the chair under a tree midway in the garden
between the house and the road. The old lady sank into it and the maid
deftly covered her with a large woolen shawl; then saying some word, and
placing a small silver bell on the grass within easy reach of the lady
in the chair the maid left.

Suzanna stood, unable to run. Someone then had moved into the tiny
house. And who? Suzanna knew everyone in the village of Anchorville, and
the old lady was a stranger. Suzanna gave up the question and started
back toward the gate when the old lady suddenly turned and saw the
child.

[Illustration: The prettiest old lady she had ever seen]

"Come here," she called, and Suzanna perforce obeyed. When she stood
near the small figure in the chair she waited, while she decided that
this was quite the prettiest old lady she had ever seen. The wavy silver
hair lying under a white lace cap, with two little curls falling on
either side made the blue eyes seems like a very little baby's at the
stage when they're deciding just what color they shall be. Like Suzanna,
the lady was dressed in white, flowing as to skirt, and trimmed with
quantities of fine old lace. On her hand was one ring, a lovely
moonstone. Suzanna at once loved that ring, not because it was a piece
of jewelry, but because it did look like a stray moonbeam that the rain
had fallen on.

"And who may you be?" asked the old lady at once.

Now something about her hostess called out all of Suzanna's colorful
imagination. She felt an instant response to this personality.

"I am a princess, the Princess Cecilia," she answered promptly.

"Ah," the old lady straightened up and a sudden, vivid change became at
once manifest in her manner. "Draw closer to me."

Suzanna obeyed, moving till she touched the old lady's hand that rested
on the wings of the old-fashioned chair.

"You should be a princess," said the old lady, "for I am a queen!"

Suzanna gazed without at first speaking. "A real one?" she whispered at
last.

"A real queen," returned the old lady. "It's not generally known by
those who serve me, nor even suspected by my own son who lives yonder in
the big house on the hill. But I'm the real queen of Spain, deposed from
the hearts of her people, from the hearts of her own nearest."

Suzanna nodded. She looked over toward the hill. "That's Bartlett
Villa," she said; "the people only live there part of the year. I know
Mrs. Bartlett, she's the richest lady in Anchorville, but I didn't know
her mother was a queen."

The old lady didn't appear to be particularly interested. She went on:
"It's not generally known, I believe, that I am a queen." After another
pause: "Over yonder is a camp chair. Bring it hither."

Suzanna found the chair at one end of the garden. Quickly she brought it
and sank herself upon it gracefully as became a princess of the blood,
but she was surprised a moment later to meet reproval in the eyes of the
queen.

"It's not permissible to seat yourself in the presence of royalty," said
the queen, rather sternly.

"But, I, too, am royalty and you told me to get the chair," said
Suzanna. "Of course, I thought it was to sit on."

"You are merely a princess," returned the old lady. "I am your queen,
and you must await my permission to recline."

Suzanna rose.

"Ask permission," said the queen, "and perhaps I shall allow you to seat
yourself."

"May I sit down?" asked Suzanna.

The queen inclined her head graciously. "You may," she returned. So once
more the little visitor resumed her seat. Then for a long time the old
lady sat with folded hands and looking off into the distance. She was
very, very still. Only the lace on her bosom moved gently to show that
she breathed. Suzanna thought perhaps she had better go. But she feared
to rise lest she again meet with reproof.

At last the queen remembered her guest.

"I wish to traverse my garden and in the absence of my lady-in-waiting I
request your arm, Princess Cecilia," she said.

Suzanna rose quickly and bending her small arm, she offered its support
to the old lady, who though now standing very straight and slender,
still was scarce two heads taller than her visitor. She slipped her
blue-veined hand within Suzanna's arm and they began a friendly walk up
and down the path.

"Once," began the queen, "when I lived beyond the snow-capped mountains
within my own palace, I was not so lonely as I now am. There was one who
afterwards became my king, with whom I walked by the sea. We saw
together the sapphire sparkle of the water, the golden yellow of the
sands; but in reality we beheld only one another's face."

By this time they had reached the gate and both stopped and stood
looking down the quiet road. But the little old lady still clung to
Suzanna's arm and her eyes had a far-away look.

"And after a time," went on the queen, "we were wedded and lived
together in my palace and we were happy as the birds; happy and less
care free. And always we found our greatest happiness in walking by the
sea or in climbing the mountains; I sometimes clinging to his ready hand
or skipping before him. And once we ran away from all the pomp and
ceremony that was merely surface and we found a little house right at
the edge of town, and there together for some months we lived. There,
too, our little prince came to us, and from there he went away.

"And one day my king, too, left, and my little prince forgot me, and I
am alone. Queen as I am, I am alone!"

Suzanna was silent. Indeed, she was at a loss just how to offer comfort.
When Helen, Peter's twin, went away her heart had ached, and when a
little baby, soft and cuddly had gone away forever, Suzanna had wept for
days and far into the nights. This queen, she found was very sad, and
very longing, and very lonely, three things she thought queenhood exempt
from, sadness, and longing and loneliness.

Once more they turned, and walked down the garden path till they reached
the chairs under the tree. The queen sank again among her pillows and
Suzanna was about to use her camp chair when the queen spoke in her old
commanding manner:

"I am hungry, serf," she cried. "Go, prepare my food! All the dainties
that you can find. I wish cream beaten to a froth and peaches, halved
and stoned. I wish strawberries still wet with dew and reposing in their
green leaves."

"But," began Suzanna, "I can't get strawberries for you."

The old lady rose to her full height. "Wilt begone, serf?" in stern
accents she cried. "Wilt begone and prepare what I demand?"

Now Suzanna had a very firm idea of her own standing as a princess. Had
she not earlier in the day impressed Maizie? And now, was this stranger,
even though she were a queen, to demand menial service of one of royal
blood? Suzanna thought not. So she said firmly, though gently:

"I am not a serf, if that means a slave! I am a visiting princess, the
Princess Cecilia. I will not go into your kitchen and prepare food." And
then forgetting her rôle, she assumed her ordinary voice. "Why, this
morning I didn't even warm the baby's bottle, because mother said I
needn't seeing that I was a princess and living in my own tucked-in
day."

"'Tucked-in day!'" responded the queen. "What do you mean by that?"

"Why, it's my very own day, a day tucked in between last week and this
week," said Suzanna.

The old lady's eyes wandered away again looking into distant countries,
Suzanna had no doubt, and she hoped the strawberries were forgotten. But
alas, she was wrong, for in a few moments the queen, bringing her eyes
back to Suzanna's face recalled her desire:

"I will have my strawberries," she began peremptorily. And then with a
complete change of voice; one with some satire in its tone she
concluded: "Dost think because thou art a princess thou art exempt from
all service in the world?"

"A princess does not work," said Suzanna wisely.

"I would have you know," said the queen, "that all those of the world
must give service in one way or another. Dost think that when in my
palace I reigned a queen I gave no service? There were those who loved
me and needed me. As their queen did I not owe them something in return
for their love? And could I leave their needs unrelieved?"

"But," faltered Suzanna, "you were a queen!"

The old lady's eyes lit with a sudden fire. "And 'twas because I
reigned a queen," she answered, "that I must do more than those of less
exalted station. In my kingdom there were little children, there were
the old, and there were the feeble, and there were the poor. Could I go
about unconcerned as to their welfare?" Her voice suddenly softened. She
put out her hand, now trembling with her emotion, and drew Suzanna close
to her. "My sweet little princess," she said, "no one in all the world
stands alone. A little silver chain binds each one of us to his fellow.
You may break that chain and you may feel yourself free, but you will be
a greater slave than ever."

"I think I understand," said Suzanna, and indeed she had a fair meaning
of the other's words. "The chain runs from wrist to wrist and is rubber
plated."

With a sudden change of manner the old lady spoke again, going back to
her former imperious manner: "Am I thus to starve because no slave
springs forth to do my bidding?"

At this important moment the maid reappeared. She came swiftly down the
garden to the old lady. She paused when she saw Suzanna. She had a very
gentle face, Suzanna decided, and when she spoke to the old lady it was
tenderly as one would speak to a child. Suzanna decided that she liked
her.

Said Suzanna: "The queen wants her strawberries wet with dew and buried
in their own green leaves."

"The queen," returned the maid, "shall have her luncheon."

"And the Princess Cecilia," said the queen, "shall eat with me, Letty."

Suzanna was very glad to hear this since for a long time past she had
been hungry, and had been thinking rather longingly of the midday dinner
at home.

The maid left, but in a very short time she came into the garden again
and announced that lunch was ready in the dining-room.

"Walk behind me," said the old lady, and Suzanna took her place behind
the queen. In that sequence they went down the path, up the four steps
leading to the little house, through the open door, and paused in a
short, narrow hall, through which Suzanna and her sister and brother had
often walked.

"Place your coat here," said the old lady, indicating a black walnut
hall-tree.

Suzanna did as she was bid and then followed her hostess into the
dining-room, to the left of the small hall, where a table
flower-decked, stood set for two.

Suzanna sat down at the place the queen indicated and waited
interestedly. In time the maid brought on a silver tray with little cups
of cream soup, and then cold chicken buried in pink jelly, a most
delicious concoction. Finally there was cocoa with whipped cream and
marshmallows and melting angel food cake.

The old lady ate daintily, and long before Suzanna's appetite was
satisfied she announced that she was finished and demanded that the
princess rise from the table with her. She did not mention the
strawberries. With a little sigh Suzanna obeyed. And now, instead of
returning to the garden, the old lady led the way into the parlor, which
lay to the right of the hall. She went straight to the picture that hung
above a marble mantel. Below the picture in the center of the mantel
rested a crystal vase containing sprays of lilies of the valley.

"This was my king," murmured the old lady, and Suzanna looked up into
the pictured face. "I like him," she said immediately; "has he gone far
away?"

At these words the old lady suddenly sank down into a chair and covered
her face with her hands. She began to cry softly, but in a way that
hurt Suzanna inexpressibly. She stood for a moment hesitant. The sobs
still continued and then Suzanna, deciding on her course, went to the
little shaking figure and put her hands softly on the drooping
shoulders.

"Can I help you," she asked. "Just tell me what to do for you."

"Nothing," came the muffled tones, "there is no one to do for me; no one
to do for me in love. I am alone, forgotten."

"Haven't you a brother or a sister?" in a moment she asked softly.

"No one," said the little lady.

"Oh, then," said Suzanna pityingly, as a dire thought came to her,
"there's no one to call you by your first name!"

And then the old lady lowered her hands and looked into Suzanna's face.
"No one," she said sadly, "and it's such a pretty name, Drusilla. It's
many long years since I was called that."

"I'd hate to come to a time when no one would call me Suzanna," Suzanna
said, and she leaned forward and touched the blue-veined hands. "May I
call you Drusilla?" she asked.

"That would be sweet of you," said the little old lady. She seemed less
of the queen now than before, just a fluttering, little creature to be
tenderly protected and cared for.

The maid came in at this moment. She went straight to the old lady.

"I think," she said gently, "that you must take your nap now. This is
the day for Mrs. Bartlett's call."

The queen rose quite obediently. Suzanna said at once: "Well, I must be
going. But I'll come again. Good-bye, Drusilla."

"Good-bye, dear," returned "Drusilla" sweetly. "I'd like to have you
kiss me."

Suzanna lifted her young face and kissed Drusilla's withered cheek.

       *       *       *       *       *

Once out in the road and going swiftly toward home, Suzanna pondered
many things. She thought of what the old lady had said about the little
silver chain binding one to another; that no one really stood alone--no
one with a family, at least, Suzanna decided. It was a big thought; you
could go on and on in your heart and find many places for it to fit--and
then she reached her own gate and felt as always a sense of happiness.
No matter how happily she had spent the day, there was always a little
throb which stirred her heart when she went up the steps leading to the
rather battered front door of the place she called home.

Maizie opened the door. She was as happy in beholding Suzanna returned
as though weeks had parted them, for she knew Suzanna's aptitude for
great adventures. Always they came to her, while another might walk
forever and meet no Heralds of Romance.

"Did something happen, Suzanna?" she began eagerly.

"Yes, I found a queen and we had lunch together," Suzanna responded.
"I'll tell you all about it when we're in bed."

"Are you going to play at something tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow I shall be an Only Child," said Suzanna. "Don't you remember?"

"And not my sister?" asked Maizie.

Suzanna caught the yearning in Maizie's voice.

"Well," she said, "I'll be your closest friend, Maizie."



CHAPTER II

THE ONLY CHILD


Breakfast the next morning was nearly concluded when Suzanna made her
appearance, but she met with no reproof. She had anticipated none, for
surely an Only Child was entitled to many privileges; no rules should be
made to bind her.

Her father was gone. It was a day of stock-taking at the hardware store,
and his early presence had been requested by his employer, Job Doane.
Suzanna's mother and the children still lingered at the table.

"Good morning, Suzanna," said Mrs. Procter, while the other children
gazed with interest at their tardy sister.

"Good morning," Suzanna returned as she took her place; then, "Will you
remind Maizie that I am an Only Child today?"

"You hear, Maizie," said Mrs. Procter smiling.

"Mustn't any of us speak to her?" asked Peter.

"No one but her mother," said Suzanna addressing the ceiling.

She went on with her breakfast, eating daintily with the small finger on
her right hand cocked outward. Maizie stared, fascinated. Countless
words rushed to her lips, but she had been bidden to silence, and she
feared, should she speak to Suzanna, dire results would follow. Suzanna
might even go away by herself in pursuit of some wonderful dream, and
leave Maizie out of her scheme of things entirely.

So Maizie waited patiently.

"Since you sent Bridget away on an errand of mercy, Mother," Suzanna
began later, "I'll help you with the dishes."

In Suzanna's estimation the family boasting an Only Child boasted also
servants.

"I'll be glad of your help," said Mrs. Procter, "and since Bridget is
away, perhaps you will be kind enough to make your own bed and dust your
own room."

Suzanna's face fell. Maizie put out a small hand and touched her sister.
"I'll help you," she said, "if you want me to."

"Very well," said Suzanna, and together the children went upstairs.

In the little room shared by the sisters, Suzanna went to work.
Ardently she shook pillows and carefully she smoothed sheets, while
Maizie, with a reflective eye ever upon Suzanna, dusted the dresser and
hung up the clothes.

"Is your mother well this morning?" asked Suzanna politely.

"Why, you saw her," Maizie cried off guard. "She didn't have a headache
this morning, did she?"

"I'm speaking of _your_ mother," said Suzanna. "You belong to an
entirely different family from me."

"Well," said Maizie after a time, "she's not suffering, thank you."

"Have you any brothers and sisters?" pursued Suzanna in an interested
though rather aloof tone.

"Oh, yes," said Maizie, trying hard to fill her rôle satisfactorily. "We
have a very large family, and once we had twins."

Suzanna looked her pity. "I'm so glad," she said, "that I'm an Only
Child. This morning I was very joyous when I had whipped cream and
oatmeal."

"You just had syrup, Suzanna Procter!" cried Maizie.

Suzanna cast a scathing look at her sister: "I had whipped cream!" she
cried, "because I am an Only Child!" Then falling into her natural tone:
"If you forget again, Maizie, I can't even be a friend of yours." She
continued after a pause, reassuming her Only-Child voice, "That's why I
wear this beautiful satin dress and diamond bracelets and shining
buckles on my shoes."

Now Maizie saw only Suzanna's lawn dress, rather worn Sunday shoes with
patent leather tips; she saw Suzanna's bare arms.

"Maybe you'd like, really, to wear a white satin dress and bracelets and
buckles, but you know you haven't got them, don't you, Suzanna?" she
asked.

Suzanna did not answer, plainly ignoring Maizie's conciliatory tone, and
so finding the silence continuing unbroken, Maizie changed the subject.

"Will you play school with me this afternoon, Suzanna?"

Suzanna thought a moment: "I don't just know. I may go and play with
some of the other girls today, and, remember, if I do that a friend
can't get mad like a sister can."

Maizie began to whimper.

"All right, if you're going to act that way, I am going off to see
Drusilla," with which statement Suzanna turned and went downstairs.

Maizie came running down after her. "Mother, mother," she called loudly,
"I don't like Suzanna when she's the Only Child."

Mrs. Procter, busy with the baby, looked up. She was a little cross now.
"I wish, Suzanna," she said, "that you would learn to be sensible and
not always be acting in plays you make up."

Suzanna, who a moment before had bounded joyfully into her mother's
presence, now paused, the light dying from her eyes. She looked at her
mother and her mother, uncomfortable beneath the steady gaze, spoke
again with an irritation partially assumed.

"I mean just that, Suzanna," she said. "Maizie can't easily follow all
your imaginings; and I have enough to do without always trying to keep
the peace between you."

Suzanna stood perfectly still. The color rose to her temples, while the
dark eyes flashed. Waves of emotion swept through her. Emotions she
could not express. At last in a tense voice she spoke: "I wish I wasn't
your child, Mother."

"Go at once to your room," said Mrs. Procter, "and stay there till I
tell you you may come down again."

With no word Suzanna turned, went slowly up the stairs again, drew a
chair to the window and sat down. She was flaming under a bitter sense
of injustice. With all the intensity of her nature for the moment she
hated the entire world.

Time passed. She heard sounds downstairs, Maizie going out to play in
the yard with Peter; her mother singing the baby to sleep, and still
Suzanna sat near the window, and still her small heart beat resentfully.

Later, she heard her father's voice. Perhaps he cared for her. But even
of this she was not sure. Then she sat up very straight. Someone was
coming up the stairs.

It was Maizie. The little girl slowly opened the bedroom door, peeped
cautiously in, and then on tiptoes approached Suzanna. "Mother says,"
she began, "that you're to come down to lunch."

"I don't want any lunch," said Suzanna. The bright color still stained
her cheek. "You can just go downstairs and eat up everything in the
house, and be sure and tell mother I said so."

Maizie looked her awe at this defiant sister. Downstairs she returned to
deliver verbatim Suzanna's message.

Suzanna sat on. From bitter disillusion felt against everything in her
world her mind chilled to analysis. Her mother loved her, she believed,
and yet--she did not complete her swift thought; indeed, she looked
quickly about in fear of her disloyalty. She had once thought that
mothers were perfect, rare beings removed worlds from other mere
mortals. Hadn't she, when a very small girl of four, been quite unable
to comprehend that mother was a mere human being? "Mother is just
mother," she had said in her baby way, and that sentence spelled all the
devotion and admiration of a pure little heart for one enshrined within
it.

And now mother had fallen short. Mother had disappointed that
desperately loving, intense soul. The tears started to her eyes. It was
as though on this second tucked-in day an epoch had come marking the day
for all time, placing it by itself as containing an experience never to
be forgotten.

After a time she realized she was hungry. So she went quietly to the top
of the stairs, but no sound came up from below.

Some clock struck one, and then Suzanna heard running footsteps mounting
the stairs. She sat straight and gazed out of the window. She knew the
moment her mother entered the room, but she did not turn her head.

Mrs. Procter approached until she stood close to Suzanna. She looked
down into the mutinous little face. She had come intending to scold,
but something electric about the child kept hasty words back.

At length: "Aren't you going to speak to me, Suzanna?" she said.

Suzanna did not answer immediately. That strange, awful thought that her
very own mother had been unjustly irritable held her tongue-tied. At
length words, short, curt, came:

"You weren't _all right_ to me this morning, Mother," she said, raising
her stormy eyes. "Yesterday you were nice to me when I was a princess.
Today you were cross because Maizie couldn't understand, and she never
understands. You never were cross about that before." She gazed straight
back into her mother's face--"I'm mad at the whole world."

What perfection the child expects of the mother! No human deviations!
Mrs. Procter sighed. How could she live out her child's exalted ideal of
her! She looked helplessly at Suzanna. The eyes lifted to hers lacked
the wonted expression of perfect belief, of passionate admiration. That
this first little daughter, so close to her heart fibers, should in any
degree turn from her, pierced the mother. She put her arms about the
unyielding small figure.

"Suzanna, little daughter," she whispered. "Mother is sometimes tired,
but always, always she loves you."

The response was immediate. With a little cry Suzanna pressed her lips
to her mother's. All her reticence was gone. This mother who enfolded
her stood once more the unwavering star that guided Suzanna's life.

"You see, little girl," Mrs. Procter said after a few moments, "mother
sometimes has a great deal to think about--and baby was cross."

"Oh, mother, dear, I'll help you," cried Suzanna. "I'll always be good
to you and when I'm grown up I'll buy you silk dresses and pretty hats
and take you to hear beautiful music."

Later they went downstairs together. In the kitchen Maizie was amusing
the baby as he sat in his high chair. She looked around as Suzanna
entered: "Are you going to see Drusilla now," asked Maizie.

"Who's Drusilla?" asked Mrs. Procter with interest.

Now Suzanna had not told her mother of her new friend. She had wished to
keep in character, and a princess, she felt, was rather secretive and
aloof. But now the renewed closeness she felt to her mother opened her
heart.

"Yesterday when I was a princess, living my very own first tucked-in
day, I walked and walked, and at last came to a little house with a
garden," she said, "and there was an old lady with no one to call her by
her first name--and so I'm going to call her Drusilla."

"Is she a little old lady with white hair, and curls on each side of her
face?" asked Mrs. Procter.

"Yes," said Suzanna.

"Why, she's Mr. Graham Woods Bartlett's mother, and she's a little--"
Mrs. Procter hesitated believing it wiser to leave her sentence
unfinished.

"A little what, mother?" asked Suzanna anxiously.

"Oh, she has fancies," evaded Mrs. Procter. "For instance, there are
times when she thinks herself a queen."

"What was the word you were going to use, mother?" persisted Suzanna.

"Well, then, Suzanna, such a person is called a little strange."

"Then I'm a little strange, too," said Suzanna.

"But you're a child, Suzanna," said Mrs. Procter, "and Mrs. Bartlett is
a very old lady."

"Does that make the difference?" asked Suzanna. "If it does, I can't
understand why. I think that an old lady, especially if she's lonely and
if she grieves for her king who went far away from her, has just as much
right to have fancies as a little girl has."

"Well, I don't know," said Mrs. Procter, turning a soft look upon
Suzanna.

Maizie, who had been standing near listening intently, now spoke: "A
girl I know had a grandfather who thought he was a cat and every once in
awhile he meowed, and he liked to sit in the sun. He thought he was a
nice, gentle, Maltese cat, and when he wasn't busy meowing he was awful
sweet to the children, and played with them and took care of the little
ones; but the big people thought they'd better send him far away,
because it wasn't right that he should think himself a cat."

Suzanna's eyes flamed in anger. "I think they were cruel," she cried,
"not to let him stay at home. I know the girl whose grandfather he was.
Her name's Mary Holmes, and she cried because they sent her grandfather
away. But she didn't tell me why."

"I'm her special friend on Wednesday recess day," said Maizie bashfully,
"that's why she told me."

"I like old people," Suzanna continued. "I like Drusilla, and I like
Mrs. Reynold's mother that once came to see her, and I like old Joe, the
vegetable man, who made whistles for us last summer. They all seem to
understand you when you talk to them, and they can see things just like
you can."

"Well, I've heard it said," said Mrs. Procter musingly, "that old people
are very much like the young in their fancies. Maybe that's why you
enjoy them, Suzanna."

"Well, mother," Suzanna was very much in earnest now, "can't you always
tell everybody who has an old lady or an old gentleman living with them
that if they're not loving to old ladies and gentlemen, their silver
chain will break?"

"Silver chain?" cried Maizie, puzzled. "I don't know what you mean,
Suzanna."

"Why, every one of us," Suzanna explained carefully, "carries a little
silver chain which binds him to everyone else, but especially, I
suppose, to our very own father and mother and brothers and sisters."

"Where is the chain?" asked Maizie.

"It runs from your wrist to mine. It stretches as you move, and it's
given to everybody as soon as he's born. Sometimes it's broken."

"Well, Suzanna," said Maizie solemnly, "then you've broken the silver
chain that ties you to me and to Peter and the baby and to daddy and
mother. You don't belong to us any more--you're an Only Child."

       *       *       *       *       *

Maizie's literalness drew a new vivid picture for Suzanna. She had cut
herself from those she loved. She looked through a mist into Maizie's
face, the little face with the gray eyes and straight fine hair that
_would_ lie flat to the little head, and a big love flooded her. She
went swiftly to the little sister and lifted her hand. She made a feint
of clasping something at her wrist. "Maizie," she said, "I put the chain
on again. You are once more my little sister."

"Not just your closest friend, but your little sister, with a silver
chain holding us together?" Maizie asked.

"Always," said Suzanna. "I don't think after all that it's any fun to be
an Only Child."



CHAPTER III

WITH FATHER IN THE ATTIC


A special Saturday in the Procter home, since father expected to spend
the afternoon in the attic working at his invention! Once a month he had
this half-day vacation from the hardware store. True, to make up he
returned to work in the evening after supper, and remained sometimes
till midnight, but that was the bargain he had made with Job Doane, the
owner of the shop, and he stuck bravely by it.

The house was in beautiful order when father arrived at noon. He went at
once to the dining-room. Suzanna and Maizie, putting the last touches to
the table, greeted him cordially.

"We have carrots and turnips chopped up for lunch," announced Maizie
immediately.

"And baked apples, with the tiniest drop of cream for each one,"
completed Suzanna.

"And the baby has a clean dress on, too," Maizie added, like an
anticlimax.

Mr. Procter exclaimed in appropriate manner. He seemed younger today,
charged with a high spirit. His step was light, he held his head high;
his eyes, too, were full of fire. The children knew some vital flame
energized him, some great hope vivified him.

"Sold a scythe to old Farmer Hawkes this morning," he began, when they
were all seated around the table, the smoking dishes before them. He
smiled at his wife and the subtle understanding went around the board
that it was ridiculous for father, the great man, to waste his time
selling a scythe to close old Farmer Hawkes; also the perfect belief
that Farmer Hawkes was highly favored in being able to make a purchase
through such a rare agency.

Luncheon concluded, father rose. The children pushed back their chairs
and stood in a little group, all regarding him with longing eyes.

"Well, children," he said at last, "if things go well with me upstairs
and I can spare an hour, I'll call you. But don't let me keep you from
your work, or your play. Ball for you, I suppose, Peter, since it is
Saturday afternoon," he finished facetiously. Well he knew the
fascination of the attic and its wonder Machine.

And Peter didn't answer. Let father have his joke; they both understood.

Father went singing joyfully up the stairs. The children listened till
they heard the attic door close, then all was silent.

Suzanna found a book, and at Maizie's earnest request read a chapter
from it aloud, while Peter descended into the cellar on business of his
own.

"I'd rather you'd tell me a story of your own, Suzanna," said Maizie,
when the chapter was concluded.

"Well, I can't make up stories today," said Suzanna. "Today is father's
day, and I'm thinking every minute of The Machine."

"It's going to be a great thing, isn't it, Suzanna?" said Maizie, in an
awed voice.

"Yes, and nobody in the world could have made it but our father," said
Suzanna solemnly. "Father was made to do that work, and the whole world
will be better because of his invention."

"The whole outside world?" asked Maizie, "or just Anchorville?"

"Oh, the whole world," said Suzanna, and then as Peter once more made
his appearance: "Peter, take your tie out of your mouth. Father may call
us upstairs at any moment, and you must look as nice as nice can be."

Peter obediently removed his tie from between his teeth, and just then
the awaited summons came.

"Children! You may come up and bring mother."

Suzanna ran out into the kitchen. Mother had her hands in a pan of dough
and was kneading vigorously. She looked up at Suzanna's message and
replied: "You children run up to father; I'll come when I can. Go
quietly by the bedroom door, the baby's asleep."

Upstairs then the children flew. At the top they paused and looked in.
Father was standing close to The Machine; he turned as they appeared,
and with a princely gesture (Suzanna's private term), invited them in.

The attic was dimly lit. Shadows seemed to lurk in its corners. It was
an attic in name only, since it held no stored treasures of former days.
It stood consecrated to a great endeavor. The children knew that, and
instinctively paused at the threshold. They got the sense that big
thoughts filled this room, big ambitions for Man.

They approached and paused before The Machine. It stood high,
cabinet-shaped, of brilliantly polished wood whose surface seemed to
catch and hold soft, rosy lights from out the shadows. Above The Machine
rose a nickel-plated flexible arm, at the end of which hung a sort of
helmet. Some distance back of the arm, and extending about a foot above
the cabinet, were two tubes connected by a glass plate; and beneath the
plate, a telescope arrangement into which was set a gleaming lens.

Mr. Procter opened a door at the side of the cabinet. The children,
peering in, beheld interesting looking springs, coils, and batteries. He
shut the door, walked around to the front of the cabinet and opened
another and smaller door. Here the children, following, saw a number of
small black discs. The inventor reached in, touched a lever, and
immediately a rhythmic, clicking sound ensued.

Next he drew down dark shades over the low windows. The filmed glass
plate above the cabinet alone showed clear in the eclipse, as though
waiting.

"Now, Suzanna, come!"

Suzanna, at some new electric quality in her father's voice, sprang
forward. He procured a chair, placed it directly before the cabinet,
drew the flexible arm till the helmet rested perhaps four inches above
the child's head but did not touch it, pulled forward the telescope and
focused its lens upon her expectant face.

"Watch the plate glass," he said in a tense whisper, and Suzanna kept
her eyes as directed.

A moment passed. No sound came but the rhythmic ticking. The inventor's
face was white. His eyes, dark, held a gleam and a prayer. Another
space, and then very slowly a shadowy line of color played upon the
glass set between the two tubes; color so faint, so delicate, that
Suzanna wondered if she saw clearly.

But the color strengthened, and at last all saw plainly a line of rich
deep purple touched with gold. It remained there triumphant upon the
glass, a royal bar.

Silent moments breathed themselves away, for the test had come and it
had not failed. Suzanna, at last moving her gaze from the color
registered, turned to her father. She saw, with a leap of the heart,
that his eyes were wet. He seemed to have turned to an immovable image,
and yet never did life seem to flow out so richly from him.

Peter broke the quiet. "What does it mean, daddy, that color?" he asked.

Suddenly galvanized, Mr. Procter ran to the stairs outside. His voice
rang out like a bell.

"Jane, come, come!"

Mrs. Procter, in the kitchen, caught the exultant note in his voice. She
was stirring batter for a cake, but she flung down the spoon and ran up
the stairs.

"Oh, Richard, what is it," she cried, as she reached him. His eyes,
half frightened, half elated, looked into hers.

"I will show you," he cried. He took her hand and led her to The Machine
before which Suzanna still sat.

The wave of color still persisted on the glass. "See," he said,
"registered color, for which I have worked and worked, died a thousand
deaths of despair, and been resurrected to hope. This afternoon the
color seemed promised, and so in fear and trembling I placed Suzanna
before the machine."

"Oh, my dear, my dear, after all these years!" She lifted her face and
kissed him solemnly.

And then Peter repeated his question, to which before there had been no
answer.

"What does the color mean, daddy?" he asked.

"Two colors recording in that manner means great versatility; purple
means the artist, probably a writer."

Peter looked his bewilderment. His mother, smiling a little, reduced the
explanation to simpler form. Even then Peter was befogged.

The inventor went to a remote corner and brought forth a large book
containing many pages. This he placed upon a small table, and the
children and their mother crowded about him, eager to see and to hear.

Mr. Procter lit a side lamp so the light fell upon the book, then he
turned the pages slowly. Blocks of color lay upon each, some in squares
alone, some merging into others like a disjointed rainbow. Above each
block, or merged block, were writings, interpretations of color meaning,
word above word; many erasures, as though fresh thought thrust out the
integrity of early ones.

Mr. Procter spoke to his wife. "Till the machine showed the
possibilities of ultimate success, I have said nothing even to you of
its inception. Now, however, I may speak.

"It may sound strange, but from the time I was a very young boy, I've
seen others in color. That is, a vivid personality never failed to
translate itself in purple to me; a pale one in blue. It was out of that
spiritual sight that I built my theory of color. It took me years, but
time after time have I proved to my own complete satisfaction that each
individual has a keynote of color; a color explaining his purpose."

A thousand questions of details, of practicalities that his theory did
not seem in the rough to touch, rushed to Mrs. Procter's lips; but she
could not voice one, she could not quench his uplifted expression and,
indeed, so great was her belief in him that she had faith that he would
overcome all obstacles.

He went on: "After I had my system of color worked out, I began to plan
my machine, then to build it, and now--" He covered his face with his
hands. Suddenly he took them down, turned to his children and with eyes
alight, cried:

"For the progress of humanity have I worked, my children. To read men's
meanings, the purposes for which they live, have I created this
machine."

The children, deeply stirred with him, gazed back into his kindled face.
His magnetism lifted them. For humanity he had worked, should always
work, and with him they understood that this was the greatest service.
With him they rose on the wings of creative imagination. Desire ran deep
in each small heart to do something for the benefit of man. Not money,
not position, but love for one's fellows, work for one's fellows! Never
in all their lives were they to forget this moving hour in the attic.
Its influence would be with them for always.

After a moment Maizie spoke: "How does The Machine know your color,
daddy?"

The inventor smiled. "It has an eye, see?" He pointed to the lens in
the telescope. Then he opened the small door. "In this place it has
sensitized plates; this helmet, too, is highly sensitized." He paused
and then laughed at himself as he saw the mystified expressions of his
children. "Well, let us try Maizie. I know her color, but let's see what
the machine says." He turned out the lamp. "Come, Maizie," he said.

So Maizie seated herself before the machine and watched to see what the
glass plate should say of her. The plate remained for a moment clear,
then slowly there grew a feather of color. Smoke color, a sort of dove
gray, it was and so remained, despite its neutrality, quite plainly
visible.

Mr. Procter lifted the helmet, hushed the machine. He went to his book,
took it to the window, raised the shade a trifle and peered down. "As I
knew," he said. Then closing the book and turning to his small daughter,
he went on: "My little Maizie will some day nurse back to health those
who are weary and worn; she will be patient, full of understanding, and
she will be greatly beloved."

Maizie's face grew luminous. "And so I'll do good too, just like you,"
she said, with a beautiful faith.

"You will do good, too, my daughter," he answered, with exquisite
egotism in his inclusion.

Peter, eager-eyed, looked up at his father.

"Do you think I have a color, too, daddy?" he asked.

"Yes, Peter. Take your place."

Peter did so.

For him there grew a tongue of sturdy bronze. In the dim light it waved
across the surface of the glass plate.

And Mr. Procter said: "In time our little boy Peter will build great
bridges."

"That four horses can walk across, daddy?" Peter cried in ecstasy.

"That a hundred horses can walk across, and a big engine pull safely its
train of cars."

Then again into the inventor's eyes leaped a radiance. He placed his
hand lovingly upon the machine as though it were alive, and indeed so it
seemed to be, for into it he had put his finest ideals, his deepest
hopes for the development of man.

"A few months more of work," he cried. "And then it will be ready to
give to the world."

Someone came lightly up the stairs. A head appeared, then a body, then a
hearty voice: "May I come in?" it asked.

Mrs. Procter swung the door wide to Mr. Reynolds, neighbor across the
way. He entered with a little hesitation. He was a large man with a
heavy brick-colored face, yet with eyes that had preserved some spirit
of youth. Mr. Reynolds was as great an idealist as his friend, the
inventor, though his idealism gave out in totally different directions.
He read all sorts of books, but reacted to them with originality. His
imagination only grasped their meanings, not his intellect. He worked in
another town, several miles from Anchorville, in a large chair factory,
and several times a week in the evening he stood upon a soap box on a
street corner, and amused a mixed audience by his picturesque setting
forth of what he thought was wrong with the world; also what methods he
believed would, if employed, straighten out the tangles.

Since he spoke "straight from the shoulder," as he put it, touching
dramatically upon the hand of wealth as causing the tangles, he had
called down upon himself the wrath of the town's richest man, old John
Massey, owner of the Massey Steel Mills. Twice Mr. Massey had threatened
the eloquent and fearless orator with arrest, and twice for some unknown
reason he had refrained from carrying out his threat, and the
authorities of the town complacently allowed Mr. Reynolds to continue
his pastime.

"I knew you were at home today," said Mr. Reynolds, "and I must see the
machine." He looked at the joyous face of the inventor.

"Why, have you been trying it out?" he cried.

"Yes, and with a fair degree of success. Of course, I realize it may not
always work as it did today. Indeed, the colors are not so strong as I
expect eventually to get them."

"A great piece of work," said Mr. Reynolds, advancing to the middle of
the room and falling into the orator's attitude. "I've thought of it
every day since you told me of it. When I see men in the factory working
at jobs they fair hate, because they and theirs need bread--and breaking
under the bondage--Oh, I say, Procter, I wish you could bring the
machine to perfection soon and get others to believe in it."

Mr. Procter's eyes lost their light. "That's it, to make others
believe!"

Mrs. Procter went to her husband. She put her hand on his arm and looked
up into his face with a gaze of perfect faith. "A big purposeful idea
like yours, that's going to make humanity happier, can't fail but some
day to be brought to the world's attention. Never lose faith, my man."

The shadow of discouragement fell swiftly from him.

"And, now," she continued before he could speak, "all wait here a little
while. The baby's still asleep," she flung over her shoulder as she left
the room.

Shortly she returned bearing a large tray which she set down on the
table. Then she lit the side lamp; it cast a soft glow over the room.
"Now all draw close," Mrs. Procter invited.

So they drew chairs near the table. There was milk for the children,
little seed cakes, thin bread and butter, and cups of strong tea for the
inventor and the visitor.

The children, sipping their milk and eating the little sweet cakes,
listening to the talk of their father and Mr. Reynolds, their expressed
hopes for the success of the machine and its effect upon humanity, gazed
at the invention. The sense of a community of interest filled them. They
felt that they, each and all, had put something of everlasting worth
into The Machine, just as it had put some enduring understanding into
them.

"I feel," whispered Suzanna to Maizie, "as though we were in church."

Mr. Reynolds caught the whisper. "And well you may, little lassie," he
returned. "Your father is a fine, good man with no thought at all of
himself, and some day," finished Mr. Reynolds, grandly, "his name will
go rolling down the ages as a benefactor to all mankind."

A tribute and a prophecy! The children were glad that Mr. Reynolds had
such clear vision.



CHAPTER IV

THE NEW DRESS


An influence vaguely felt by all the Procter family lingered for days
after father's Saturday afternoon at home. And then ordinary hours
intruded and filled the small lives with their duties and their
pleasures. Still shadowy, deeply hidden, the influence of the visionary
father lay. Even small Maizie awoke to tiny dreams, her literalness for
moments drowned out.

At school, Maizie and Suzanna were perhaps the least extravagantly
dressed little girls. Exquisitely clean, often quaintly adorned with
ribbons placed according to Suzanna's fancies, it still could be seen
that they came from an humble home.

Still, in their attitude there was toward their companions an
unconscious patronage, felt but hardly resented by the others, since
Suzanna and Maizie gave love and warmth besides.

And this unconscious feeling of superiority sprang from "belonging" to a
father who worked in his free hours that others out in the big world
might some day be glad he had lived! This idealism lent luster even to
his calling of weighing nails and selling washboards to the town of
Anchorville.

Jenny Bryson, in Suzanna's class, bragged of her father's financial
condition, and indeed she was a resplendent advertisement of his
success.

Suzanna listened interestedly. She gazed with admiration at the velvet
dress, the gold ring, and the pearl neck beads. She loved them all--the
smoothness of the velvet, the sparkle of the gold, the soft luster of
the pearls. But she felt no envy. She loved the adornments with her
imagination, not with desire. And though she could not say so to Jenny,
she rather pitied her for not having a father to whom a future
generation would bow in great gratitude.

Then too, as mother said, if you merely bought clothes, you lost the joy
of creating. Witness the ingenious way, following Suzanna's suggestion,
that mother had draped a lace curtain over a worn blue dress, and
behold, a result wonderful.

It was fun then to "make the best of your material," as mother again
said. Mother, who, when not too tired from many tasks, could paint rare
word pictures, build for eager little listeners castles of hope; build,
especially for Suzanna, colorful palaces with flaming jewels, crystal
lamps, scented draperies.

Joys sometimes come close together. Father's day, then Sunday with an
hour spent in the Massey pew with gentle Miss Massey, old John Massey's
only child, setting forth the lesson from the Bible, and then the
thrilling announcement by the Superintendent that a festival was to be
given by the primary teachers some time in August, the exact date to be
told later.

Miss Massey, taking up the subject when the Superintendent had finished,
thought it might add to the brilliance of the affair if Suzanna were to
recite. So she gave Suzanna a sheet of paper printed in blue ink, with a
title in red. "The Little Martyr of Smyrna," Suzanna spelled out.

"You are to learn the poem by heart, of course, Suzanna," said Miss
Massey, "and if you need any help as to emphasis or gesture, you may
come to me on any afternoon."

Suzanna flushed exalted. "I don't believe I'll need any help, thank you,
Miss Massey," she said. She could scarcely wait then till she reached
home to tell her mother the great news.

"You'll have to study hard," said Mrs. Procter after she had read over
the verses, "but Suzanna, you have nothing suitable to wear."

"The lace curtain dress, mother?" asked Suzanna, hopefully.

"Beyond repair," returned Mrs. Procter.

Father, sitting near, looked around at his small daughter. "I have two
dollars that I couldn't possibly use. Take them for a dress, Suzanna."

"But, dear--" began mother, and went on haltingly about a pair of new
shoes she believed father had been saving for.

But father did not hear, and so behold Suzanna and her mother the next
day at four o'clock in the afternoon in Bryson's drygoods store deciding
upon a pink lawn and a soft valenciennes lace. And later, green cambric
for a petticoat. And then on Wednesday the cutting out of the dress with
suggestions and help from Mrs. Reynolds, the very kind neighbor across
the way. On Thursday, baking day, mother put in every waking moment
between the oven in the kitchen and the sewing machine in the
dining-room.

"Mother dear, don't work so hard," Suzanna begged once. She held the
fretful baby in her arms and tried to soothe him. He was always fretful,
it seemed, when mother was very busy.

"The dress must be finished this week," said Mrs. Procter, basting away
furiously.

"But there's two weeks yet to the festival, mother," said Suzanna, as
she hushed the baby against her shoulder.

"Next week, Suzanna, the bedrooms must be thoroughly cleaned, the
carpets taken up. O, please take the baby out into the yard and keep him
amused."

Two red spots burned on Mrs. Procter's cheeks. Suzanna saw them.
Ardently she wished mother would stop and rest. Such driving haste, such
tenacity, meant later a nervous headache with mother put aside in a
darkened room. Suzanna sighed as she took the baby out into the yard.

She put him into his carriage and wheeled him about till he fell asleep.
Then she called Maizie to watch him, while she tiptoed back into the
dining-room. Her mother still sat, dress in hand. Now she was drawing
out the bastings. The red spots still burned.

"The baby's asleep, mother," whispered Suzanna. She longed ardently for
the return of the loved one who could laugh and say something funny
about sleep claiming the baby when he had made up his small mind to
remain exasperatingly wide awake.

But instead--"Take out the stockings, Suzanna, and darn them. I'll call
you when I need your help for supper. Keep your eye on Peter."

That was all. Suzanna lingered, but no further word came.

Suzanna dragged a low rocking chair into the yard, emptied the bag of
freshly washed stockings on the ground beside her, selected a pair of
Peter's, slipped the egg down, threaded her needle and began the task of
filling in the huge holes. Then she called Maizie from beside the still
sleeping baby.

"Maizie," she began, "listen to me say two verses of 'The Little Martyr
of Smyrna.'"

Maizie sank down at her sister's feet. She listened in awe as Suzanna
dramatically repeated the first part of the poem. Her gestures were
remarkable, her voice charged with feeling.

"It's beautiful, Suzanna," said Maizie. "Everybody will listen and look
at you in your new dress."

"O, it isn't a dress, Maizie," cried Suzanna, the while her small
fingers dexterously wove the needle in and out. "It's a rose blossom.
And when I recite in it on the last day of school my heart will be a
butterfly sipping honey from the flower."

"I thought it was only a pale pink lawn at ten cents a yard," said
Maizie. She spoke somewhat timidly now, fearful of Suzanna's scorn.

"You think everything is just what it is," answered Suzanna
reproachfully. "Go see if the baby is still asleep, and look down the
road for Peter."

Maizie went off obediently, but she returned in a moment with the news
that the baby still slept and Peter was playing near Mr. Reynolds' gate.
She seated herself as before. She wanted to hear more of Suzanna's
fancies, but Suzanna remained silent, having been chilled a little by
Maizie's practicality. So Maizie put out her hand and touched her
sister. "Will the petticoat be a petticoat?" she asked, and wondered
excitedly into what beauty Suzanna's imagination would transmute this
ordinary piece of cambric.

Suzanna's spirits rose again. "It'll be a green satin cup for the rose,"
she answered, gazing dreamily before her. She let Peter's stocking fall
to the ground while she clasped her hands ecstatically. "O, Maizie, it's
almost too much joy! To wear a flower dress and to recite something that
makes you so happy and yet you want to cry too."

Maizie nestled a little closer. "Do you think, Suzanna, when the green
petticoat's nearly worn, that it'll come down to me?"

Suzanna pondered this for a moment. "Yes, it'll go down to you, Maizie,
but not for years and years," she answered, finally. "Things do last so
in this family."

Maizie, by a sad little shake of the head, agreed with this statement,
and the sisters were silent. In different manner, however, for Maizie
simply accepted an unpleasant fact, while Suzanna worked mentally to a
solution of any situation. She found the solution at last.

"I'll tell you what I'll do, Maizie," she said. "Once a month, when we
love each other madly, I'll let you wear my petticoat."

"I hope it'll come on Sunday when we love each other that way," said
Maizie, wistfully; "I'm sure mother wouldn't let you lend the petticoat
to me for an every-day."

"We can fix that, too," said ready Suzanna. "Some Friday you can begin
to fuss about washing Peter. I'll have to wash him myself if you're
_too_ mean. And Saturday morning you can peel the potatoes so thick that
mother'll say: 'Maizie, do you think we're made of money! Here, let
Suzanna show you how to peel those potatoes thin.' And then I'll be so
mad I'll give you a push, and I won't speak to you for the rest of the
day."

"Yes, go on," said Maizie, her eyes shining.

"And then on Sunday morning, just before breakfast, you'll come to me
and put your arms around my neck and say: 'Dear, sweet, _lovely_
Suzanna, I'm so sorry I've been so hateful. I'll go down on my knees for
your forgiveness. _And I'll sew on all the buttons this week!_'"

Maizie drew away a little then. Suzanna went on, however. "And I'll say:
'Yes, dear sinner, I forgive you freely. You may wear my green petticoat
today.'"

There fell an hour of a never-to-be-forgotten day when the pink dress
lay on the dining-room table, full length, finished, marvelous to little
eyes with its yards and yards of valenciennes lace that graduated in
width from very narrow to one broad band around the bottom of the skirt.
Suzanna, Maizie, Peter, and even the baby bowed before the miracle of
beauty.

"How many yards of lace are on it, mother?" asked Suzanna, for the sixth
time, and for the sixth time Mrs. Procter looked up from her sewing
machine at which she was busy with the green petticoat and answered: "A
whole bolt, Suzanna."

The children at this information stared rounder-eyed and then turned to
gaze with uncovered awe at Suzanna, the owner.

"Do you think, mother," asked Maizie, "that when I'm older I can have a
pink dress with no trimming of yours on it?"

"We'll see," said Mrs. Procter, who knew how strictly to the letter she
was held to her promises.

Now Suzanna reluctantly left the dress and went to her mother. "Mother,"
she cried, softly, "when I recite 'The Little Martyr of Smyrna' up on
the big platform, I'm afraid I won't be humble in spirit. It's too much
to be humble, isn't it, when you've got a whole bolt of lace on your
dress?"

Mrs. Procter, quite used to Suzanna's intensities, answered, running the
machine deftly as she spoke: "Oh, you'll be all right, Suzanna. The
minister means something else when he preaches of being humble. What
bothers me now is how to manage a pair of shoes for you. Yours are so
shabby."

"Can't I wear my patent leather slippers?"

"You've outgrown them, Suzanna. They're too short even for Maizie, you
remember."

"I could stand them for that one time, mother."

"No," said Mrs. Procter decidedly; "I should be distressed seeing you in
shoes too small for you."

"Mother, you could open the end of my patent leather slipper so my toes
can push through and then put a puff of black, ribbon over the hole!"
The idea was an inspiration, and Suzanna's eyes shone.

Mrs. Procter saw immediately possibilities in the idea. Years of working
and scheming and praying to raise her ever increasing family on the
inadequate and varying income of her inventor husband had ultimated in
keen sensibilities for opportunities. "Why, I think I can do that," she
said. "I'll make a sort of shirred bag into which your toes will fit and
so lengthen the slipper and cover the stitching with a bow. I hope I can
find a needle strong enough to go through the leather." Her face was
bright, her voice clear. She was all at once quite different from the
weary, dragged mother of the past few days, determined against all odds
to finish the dress so the cleaning might be started the following week.

Suzanna gazed delightedly. With the fine intuition of an imaginative
child she understood the reason for the metamorphosis. It was the
quickening of the senses that rallied themselves to meet and solve a
problem that brought a high glow; stimulated, and uplifted. She herself
was no stranger to that glow.

She put her arms about her mother's shoulder.

"Isn't it nice, mother, to have to think out things?"

A little puzzled, Mrs. Procter looked at Suzanna. Then her face cleared.

"O, I understand. It is--can you understand the word,
Suzanna--'exhilarating' sometimes."

"I feel what the word means, mother--like catching in your breath when
you touch cold water."

"Exactly. Now please get the slippers."

Suzanna ran upstairs. Returning, slippers in hand, she found the other
children had left.

"Has Maizie got the baby?" Suzanna asked anxiously.

Her mother smiled. "Yes, I carried him out to the yard. He's kicking
about, happy on his blanket."

Suzanna, relieved, handed the slippers to her mother.

"And I brought my old black hair ribbon. That will do for the shirring,
won't it, mother?"

"Nicely."

Together they evolved, worked, tried on, completed.

"It's more fun doing this than going to Bryson's and buying a new pair,
isn't it, mother?"

"Well, I believe it is, daughter."

"I feel so warm here--" Suzanna touched her heart--"because we're doing
something harder than just going out to the store and buying what we'd
like."

Mrs. Procter gazed at her handiwork reflectively. "Well, it does make
you feel that you've accomplished a great deal when you've created
something out of nothing."

Mrs. Procter rose then, touched the new dress lovingly, and said: "So,
we can put it away now, Suzanna; it's quite finished. The petticoat
needs just a button and buttonhole."

Suzanna stood quite still. At last she looked up into her mother's face
and put her question: "When will you begin to cut the goods out from
under the lace, mother?"

Mrs. Procter, her thoughts now supperward, spoke abstractedly: "Oh,
we'll not do that."

There was a silence, while the room suddenly whirled for Suzanna.
Recovering from the dizziness, with eyes large and black and her face
very pale, Suzanna gazed unbelievingly at her mother. For a moment she
was quite unable to speak. Then in a tiny voice which she endeavored to
keep steady, she asked: "Not even from under the wide row round the
bottom, mother?"

"No, Suzanna," Mrs. Procter answered, quite unconscious of the storm in
the child's breast. She moved towards the door.

"But, mother, listen, please." Suzanna's hands were locked till they
showed white at the knuckles. "If you don't cut the goods away the green
petticoat won't gleam through the lace! You see, it's a rose dress and a
rose has shining green leaves, just showing."

The plea was ardent, but Mrs. Procter was firm. Indeed she did not
glance at Suzanna. The reaction from her days of hard and continuous
work was setting in. She merely said: "Suzanna, we must make that dress
last a long time. I made it so that it can be lengthened five inches. We
can't weaken it by cutting the goods away from under the lace. Now,
dear, go and see that the children aren't in mischief. I must start
supper."



CHAPTER V

SUZANNA COMES TO A DECISION


The children were playing contentedly in the road, Suzanna assured
herself. And finding them so, she wandered disconsolately back to the
front porch, where seated in a little rocking chair she stared straight
before her. She felt as one thrown suddenly from a great height. One
moment she had been thrillingly happy, the next, the bitter fruit of
disappointment touched her lips. So events occur lightningly quick in
this world. The day itself was as beautiful as it had been an hour
before, yet its sun had ceased to shine for little Suzanna, since the
crowning touch of The Dress, the poetic completeness of it, was denied
her.

Years ago it seemed she had wakened in the morning after dreaming of a
rose gown with its glimpses of cool green flickering through rows of
open lace; but no more could she dream, since that lace was now
condemned to blindness, unable even to hint at concealed beauties, and
this because Economy, the stern god of the Procter home, so ordained.

Two tears at last found their slow way down her cheek. Not the least of
her woe was caused by the realization that now the dress was
ingloriously what Maizie had termed it, a pale pink lawn at ten cents a
yard, bearing no appeal to her imagination, fulfilling no place in
Suzanna's great Scheme of Things.

Suzanna's distress, as the days passed, did not abate. She never spoke
of the dress, nor did she go to look at it as it hung shrouded in cheese
cloth in the hall closet upstairs. No longer did she look forward with
delight to the day when feelingly she should recite the troubles and the
heroism of "The Little Martyr of Smyrna."

Instead she went quietly about performing her customary duties, finding
for the time no real zest in life.

Mrs. Procter, innocent of the cause of Suzanna's listlessness, spoke no
word. She wondered why the child had lost interest in the festival,
indeed in all things pertaining to the occasion. It was difficult, she
finally decided, to know how to cope with a child so complex, so
changeable. She determined to treat the new mood with indifference, as
being the most potent method. So she asked of Suzanna the performance of
daily duties just as usual. When she discovered Suzanna gazing at her,
Maizie close beside her with the same degree of reflection in her gray
eyes, Mrs. Procter grew uncomfortable, then a trifle irritable. Both
children seemed to regard her as an alien, one, for the time, quite
outside their pale.

Suzanna, then, had taken Maizie into her confidence.

"One needs be clairvoyant," Mrs. Procter told her husband one evening,
"to know what passes through small minds."

"Clairvoyant and full of patience," he answered, looking up from his
color book. "I can remember even now my own sensations when at times my
mother failed to go with me into my land of dreams."

Mrs. Procter cast her memory back over the events of several days.

"I can't think what has so changed Suzanna," she said at last; "I've
disappointed her, I fear, about something or other. Dear me, what
insight versatile children do demand in a mother. And Suzanna takes
everything so very seriously. And Maizie stares at me too, with a little
bewildered expression. It's strange that Maizie, with all her
literalness, can understand at times Suzanna's disappointments when her
fancies are not given due value. For, of course, it is some fancy of
Suzanna's that I've either not noticed, or perhaps laughed at." She
paused to smile at her husband.

"Such children come of giving them an inventor father, an 'impractical
genius,' as I've heard myself in satire called."

She flushed up angrily at this.

"You've done wonderfully well," she said, and believed the assertion;
just as though at forty to weigh nails correctly and to sell so many
yards of garden hose a week was a fine measure of success. "And your
name will go ringing down the ages." She would never let him lose
confidence in his own powers. Circumstances alone had thrown him into a
mediocre position in a small town, but they should never hold him down.

He grew beneath her look; beneath her belief in him. And so the
conversation ended on the personal note; ended with hands clasped and
fond eyes seeing each the other's charm after many years.

Suzanna, arranging the pantry the next morning, sought her mother
upstairs with a domestic announcement.

"The vinegar bottle is empty," she said.

"And the gherkins all ready," cried Mrs. Procter. "Will you run over to
Mrs. Reynolds and ask her for some vinegar, Suzanna?"

Listlessly, Suzanna returned downstairs, and from the pantry procured a
cup. Slowly she left the house, walked down the front path and across
the road to Mrs. Reynolds' home. Arrived there, she went round to the
back door and knocked with slack knuckles.

Mrs. Reynolds, a white cloth tied about her forehead, opened the door.
She gave out redolently the pungent odor of the commodity Suzanna sought
to borrow.

Mrs. Reynolds was stout and comfortable looking ordinarily. A quaint and
interesting personality, sprung from Welsh parentage, she fitted into
the life of Anchorville only because of a certain natural adaptability.
She seemed to belong to a wilder, more passionate people than those
plain lives which surrounded her.

Suzanna knew her tenderness, her tragic depressions. She loved her deep
voice, her resonant tones, all her quick changes of mood, and her
occasional strange ways of expression, revealing her understanding of
men and women's vagaries.

Mrs. Reynolds adored Suzanna. She had said often there was one thing she
coveted from her neighbor, and that was her neighbor's child.

Mrs. Reynolds had no children and in that deplorable fact lay her
keenest unhappiness.

She greeted Suzanna cordially.

"Come in, Suzanna, come in," she said. "I've been using vinegar and red
pepper all morning," she continued, as she went her way to the pantry
with Suzanna's cup. "I've one of my old headaches."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Suzanna, with immediate sympathy. "Have you
been worrying?"

"Not more than usual, Suzanna," said Mrs. Reynolds with a sigh. "Here's
your vinegar. Hold it steady. Vinegar's a bad thing to spill."

"Thank you," said Suzanna, politely, as she received the cup. And then:
"I don't see why you should worry. You have no children. It's mother's
many children that sometimes give her worry."

"Your mother'd have worries even without you all," returned Mrs.
Reynolds. "Won't you sit down a spell, Suzanna?"

"No, I can't, mother's waiting." Suzanna walked toward the door, pausing
on her way to glance about her. "My, but you're very clean here," she
said, appreciatively. "Your cleanness is different from ours. Ours
doesn't show so."

"There's no little hands to clutter things up," said Mrs. Reynolds, but
her voice wasn't glad.

Suzanna, intuitively sensing the real trouble, said: "Reynolds slammed
the door this morning, Mrs. Reynolds. We heard the slam in our
dining-room and my mother jumped." Suzanna quite innocently borrowed
Mrs. Reynolds' way of referring to her husband.

Mrs. Reynolds' face darkened. "Yes, I know he did. That man is getting
more like a bear every day."

"He liked our twin that went away, Mrs. Reynolds. He wasn't like a bear
when he played with her."

At this statement Mrs. Reynolds suddenly threw her apron over her head
and sobbed: "That's just it, Suzanna, that's just it; there aren't any
little cluttering fingers about."

Suzanna set the vinegar cup carefully down on the table, the while her
keenly sensitive mind worked rapidly. Those gifts which by dint of their
frequency in her own home seemed rather overdone were actually missed
here! A strong, deep sympathy for Mrs. Reynolds' disappointment grew
within her, but did not entirely crowd out the thought that through this
very disappointment her own burning desire might be brought to pass. She
now went swiftly and touched the weeping woman.

"Mrs. Reynolds," she began, "will you tell me how you feel about
cutting pink goods away from under lace. Can you afford to do that?"

Mrs. Reynolds' apron came down with a jerk, and for a second she stared
her perplexity at the upturned, earnest little face. Then with quick
understanding which revealed her real mother-spirit, she answered: "Why
land, Honey-Girl, Reynolds makes pretty good money at times. I guess we
can do about as we please in most simple ways."

"Well, then, keep your apron down," advised Suzanna; "and just think
this thought over and over: 'Reynolds is not going to be cross any
more!' Thank you again for the vinegar, I must be going now."

It was not without misgiving that Suzanna started immediately to put her
secret plan into execution. And her judicious side urged the completion
of all details before she said anything to those most nearly concerned
in her new move. Only to Maizie, whose constant attendance she
skillfully managed to elude while she made her simple preparations, did
she at last give any confidence, and it was in this manner she spoke:

"There's going to be a great change, Maizie; and tonight you must manage
to stay awake to do something for me."

Maizie, at once interested, grew wildly expectant. Though she could send
up no airships of her own, she loved to contemplate Suzanna's daring
flights.

"I'll do anything, Suzanna," she promised.

So Suzanna gave Maizie her news. Hearing it, Maizie's lips quivered, but
she kept back the tears by the exercise of great control. They were
upstairs in their own room. It was late afternoon. Peter was out
playing. Mrs. Procter, the baby with her, was downtown ordering
groceries.

"Now, you mustn't cry, Maizie," said Suzanna; "it all had to be, and
what is to be is for the best." Suzanna quoted from Mrs. Reynolds. "Go
downstairs and get father's dictionary."

Maizie obeyed, returning quickly with the desired book.

"And now stand at the window so as to tell me when you see mother
coming."

So Maizie took her stand while Suzanna labored hard with the pen. An
hour passed. Once Suzanna flew downstairs to the kitchen, then returned
to her work. At last, Maizie in excited tones announced that her mother
and the baby had turned the corner. Suzanna laid down her pen.

"Well, it's all finished," she said.

Maizie looked at her sister. Now the tears came, blurring the big gray
eyes.

"You mustn't cry, Maizie," said Suzanna, trying to subdue her own
emotions.

"Couldn't you just wear the dress as it is?" asked Maizie in a small
voice, touching the crux of the whole matter, the cause of the great
change.

"I just couldn't," Suzanna returned. "It wouldn't be a rose blossom, you
see, Maizie, _when it could just as well be one_."

Maizie nodded. Perhaps she understood Suzanna's sense of waste.
Undoubtedly her grief at Suzanna's contemplated step had sharpened her
sensibilities. Vague stirrings told her that the artist in Suzanna had
been desperately hurt; and for the once her imagination thrilled as did
her sister's to the dress as a Rose Blossom. She knew with passion that
it could not remain simply pink lawn cut and slashed into a mere
garment.

So she went softly to Suzanna and touched her gently.

"I'll help you all I can, sister," she said.

So it was that just as the clock was striking nine, little Maizie stole
from her room--shared as long as she remembered with Suzanna--crept down
the stairs and into the parlor where her father sat studying, as always,
a formidable book, the while her mother sat sewing, her chair drawn
close to his. Maizie went straight to the quiet figure.

"Mother," she said, "Suzanna told me to stay awake till the clock struck
nine and then to give you this."

"This" was a note folded into the shape of a cocked hat, which Suzanna
thought very elegant. Mrs. Procter, accustomed to Suzanna's ways,
unfolded the note, smiled at the large printed letters, sighed a little
at the thought of the great effort put into their forming, read once,
twice, then sat up very straight. The note thus told its own story:

          My Loving Mother:

          I have given myself to the Reynolds for there own.
          Mrs. Reynolds is not happy with Reynolds' slams of
          doors and crossness be cause they have no child.
          They will be pretty sprised to see me to night and
          glad with my big shiny bag witch I have borrowed
          from my once very loved father. I have my pink
          dress witch will soon be a rose in it and my other
          things. I wore my hat and coat even if it is warm.
          You will not miss me much because the last baby
          went away and a baby always makes more work. And
          anyway one little girl out of a big family wont
          make any difrunce. But if you want any fine
          errands ran, you can borrow Mrs. Reynolds new
          child. Tell father I am loving my naybor as
          myself. It hurt me till something stopped inside
          to see Mrs. Reynolds put her apron over her head
          at Reynolds slams. Perhaps the mother angel that
          stops at our house all the time will pause at Mrs.
          Reynolds' next time and leave a bundle, thinking
          when I'm there a family don't have to be started
          which is always hard, I suppose. Mother, please
          don't forget about borrowing. It is not polite to
          come 2 often even to borrow me for some thing big.
          It took me an hour and twenty minutes to write
          this while you were at the butshers and grosers
          and Maizie at the window. I had to stop too, to
          watch the beans on the stove. I have labored over
          some of the big spelling with fathers dicsionary
          on my knee, remembering to make all my i's big
          I's.

                                Farewell forever,
                                         Suzanna _Reynolds_.

          P. S. Mrs. Reynolds can afford to cut away the
          goods from under all lace, which makes my heart
          jump! Perhaps tho even tho I'm sorry for her, if
          she hadn't promised to cut away the goods from
          under the lace in my pink dress, I wouldn't have
          adopted myself out to her. So I shall see you when
          I recite "The Little Martyr of Smyrna" with the
          green showing through the windows of my many yards
          of lace. O, Mother, I couldn't bare to ware that
          dress which is just a _dress_ when it could be a
          _rose_.

"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Procter, attracted by the strange, almost
solemn silence. "What's the trouble, Jane?"

She handed the note to him, waited while he read it through not once,
but many times, as she had.

He passed it back to her. "Shall we go for her?" he asked.

But she shook her head. "Sometimes I don't know just how to act where
Suzanna's concerned," she said. She folded the note. "No, sometimes I
feel just helpless."



CHAPTER VI

SUZANNA MAKES HER ENTRY


Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds were in the kitchen, she belatedly washing the
supper dishes, he smoking his pipe near the window. She lent, through
her vivid personality, color to him. Big, hearty, he was not
picturesque. He seemed to take note of realities more than she did.
Perhaps springing from emotional folk, she stood with a quality of rich
background denied to him by a line of unimaginative ancestors.

He read his big books, she found truths in her own heart. She found a
quick, tender language springing from her understanding. He used his
words like bludgeons.

Still they loved one another, and her deepest hurt was that he wanted
that which she could not give him. So she placed his longing before hers
and grieved most for his lack.

The front door-bell rang. They looked at one another wonderingly, then
Mr. Reynolds slowly withdrew his feet from the window sill and went as
slowly down the hall. He opened the door to Suzanna, who stood waiting,
conventionally attired in hat and cloak, pale, and with eyes wide and
dark.

"Good evening, Reynolds," said Suzanna.

"O! good evening, come in, come in," urged Mr. Reynolds hospitably, but
totally at a loss as he looked at the little figure. "Come right out to
the kitchen."

Suzanna followed him. When once in the kitchen, she stood for a moment
blinking in the light streaming from the hanging lamp under which Mrs.
Reynolds stood; then she said:

"I've come to you, Mrs. Reynolds, to stay. I've adopted myself out to
you."

"Well, I never, dear love!" was all Mrs. Reynolds could say as she wiped
her hands on a convenient roller towel.

Mr. Reynolds laughed. "Oh, you think you'd like a change of homes,
Suzanna?"

Suzanna turned to him then. She spoke quietly, but decisively so he
might perfectly understand. "No, that's not it, Reynolds. I love my
little home; but first I don't want Mrs. Reynolds to throw her apron
over her head at your slams. And second it's for myself I come, because
you can afford to do something for me my own mother thinks she can't on
account of little money."

But Mr. Reynolds caught only the first reason. "What do you mean, young
lady, about slammin'; that's what I want to know." His tone was
belligerent. Mrs. Reynolds threw him a withering look. "Here, Suzanna,"
she said; "give me the bag, and you sit down. Take your hat off, my
brave little lass. 'Twas but you and you alone could think of this sweet
thought."

"I'd rather have things settled before I take my hat off," said Suzanna.
She relinquished the bag, however, and seated herself in the chair Mrs.
Reynolds pulled forward. Then she went on: "You know, Reynolds, you do
slam doors and make Mrs. Reynolds cry. And you know, anyway, you
oughtn't to blame Mrs. Reynolds because you get no visits. It may be
just as much your fault because the mother angel don't like your ways."

She paused a moment before continuing. "And, anyway, my father never
blames mother for anything, only when she's tired and cries he remembers
to love her even if he's on the way upstairs to the attic to his
wonderful Machine, and he puts his arm about her waist, though mother
says it's much larger now than it was years ago. That's what my father
that used to be, does."

"Why bless my soul!" blustered Mr. Reynolds, his face a fine glowing
color; "bless my soul!" he repeated, removing his shoes and slamming
them down, as he always did under stress. "Women, my dear, will make up
all sorts of stories. If I did give the door a bit of a slam, it was
because the bacon didn't set right, perhaps. And a woman's always
fancying things."

"But you don't put your arm about her, you know that, Reynolds. I was
born in this town and I've never seen you put your arm about her."

Mrs. Reynolds' apron was over her head again, but she made no sound. Her
husband knocked the ashes from his pipe, and ran his fingers through his
thick hair. Then he stared helplessly at Suzanna. She rose valiantly to
the occasion.

"If you say, 'There, there, don't cry, you should have married a better
man,' she'll say: 'There couldn't be a better' and take her apron down."
Thus innocently Suzanna exposed a tender home method of salving hurts,
and her listener, as near as his nature could, appropriated the method.
He rose from his chair and went softly to his wife. At her side he
hesitated in sheer embarrassment, but as she began to sob, he hurriedly
repeated Suzanna's formula: "There, there, dear, don't cry. I'm a bad
'un, I am--"

Mrs. Reynolds lowered her shield. "You know better than that,
Reynolds," she denied, almost indignantly. "You're a good provider, with
a bit of a temper."

"Well, out with it then. What _is_ the trouble? I'm willing to do what I
can, even occasionally to doing what the little lass suggests." And with
the words, his big arm went clumsily about his wife, the while he looked
at Suzanna for approval. She nodded vigorously, her eyes shining.

"It's just this, then, Reynolds," the words were now a whisper, and the
big red-faced man had to stoop to hear. "It's that I'm achin' all the
time to hold one in my arms; and always to you I've let on that I didn't
care. An'--an'--I know the hunger in your own fine heart, my lad."

Mr. Reynolds' face grew wonderfully soft; indeed, tender in a new
understanding. "I didn't know, Margie, that you grieved. Come, look up.
You and me are together anyway."

"And you have me, now, too," broke in Suzanna, eager to help. "I'm going
to stay with you forever'n forever, only except when my mother that used
to be wants to borrow me back. Now, I'll go to bed, if you please."

And then one swift, cuddling memory of little Maizie alone in bed across
the street brought the hot tears to Suzanna's eyes, but she winked them
resolutely back as she lifted the black, shiny bag.

"Tomorrow," she said to Mrs. Reynolds, "you can cut the goods away from
under the lace on my pink dress, can't you?" She went on, not waiting
for an answer. "Shall I go right along upstairs?"

Mrs. Reynolds spoke gently: "Yes, Suzanna. Did you tell your mother you
were coming to me to be my own lass?"

"I wrote her a letter."

Suzanna on her way upstairs waited a moment while Mrs. Reynolds
whispered directions to her husband: "You run across to the little home
while I put her to bed." Then looking wistfully up into his face: "Do
you think she'll let me undress her?"

"That young'un will do anything to make you happy, Margie."

From the top of the stairs the words floated down: "Are you
coming--_mother_--"

Suzanna's voice choked on the word, but Mrs. Reynolds heard only the
exquisite title. She lifted her face, glowing like a heaven of stars.

"I'm coming, Suzanna," she called. And she went swiftly up the stairs to
the little girl. "This night you sleep under the silk coverlet--and more
I couldn't do for royalty!"



CHAPTER VII

REGRETS


Suzanna woke the next morning to a realization that she was in a strange
place. She occupied a large bed, too large, it seemed to her, for one
small girl. And even the silken coverlet failed to assuage the sudden
wave of homesickness which threatened to engulf her.

She lay thinking. A clock on the dresser showed her the hour to be
seven. Maizie would be up and downstairs. She would have buttoned Peter
and would be carrying the blue dishes from the pantry to the
dining-room. Father would be in the attic for a glance at his beloved
Machine before obeying mother's cheerful call to breakfast.

Suzanna choked back a lump insistent upon rising to her throat. Across
the way was home and she had adopted herself out of it! Here all was
quiet, and comfortable, very comfortable. The mattress was thick, her
small body quite sank into its depths; the bed she shared with Maizie,
she had realized on occasions, had lumps, and no silken coverlet
spreading itself brilliantly. Still there were rare and beautiful
compensations for the lack of thick mattresses and silken coverlets--and
greatest grief to her of all was that she stood no longer a daughter to
a great man!

The tears came perilously near. Suzanna choked them back as she heard
"Reynolds" close the front gate with what to him was a gentle click. She
felt that in a moment Mrs. Reynolds would summon her downstairs to a
breakfast hot and delicious.

_Why had she left home if she loved it so!_

The sentence formed itself in her mind.

Well, she hadn't realized that home and those in it were so dear till
she left. And her reason was a good one. It had seemed she could
scarcely live possessed of a dress whose sweet possibilities were denied
by a mother's spirit of economy. Never had she so intensely wished for
anything as for the goods to be cut away from under the rows of lace.

Still now, lying there alone in her strange surroundings, that desire
was losing its poignancy. It didn't seem quite to fill her entire
universe.

Mrs. Reynolds put her head inside the door. She wore a crisp blue and
white dress, her black hair was drawn smoothly back from her brow. Her
eyes dwelt lovingly on the little girl.

"Quite awake, Suzanna?" she asked.

Suzanna nodded. She couldn't trust herself to speak.

"Well, then," said Mrs. Reynolds, "I'm going to give thee a treat." She
went away quite unconscious that she had fallen into her original quaint
method of speech.

Presently she returned, carrying a tray covered with a white and red
napkin.

Suzanna sat up, received the tray in her lap and waited unexcitedly
while Mrs. Reynolds removed the enshrouding napkin.

There lay an orange cut up and sugared; a poached egg on a slice of
perfectly browned toast, and a glass of rich milk.

"For my little girl," said Mrs. Reynolds in her contralto voice. "Now
eat thee, my dearie, and take your time. I'll leave now."

Alone once more, Suzanna surveyed the tray. She lifted a spoon with the
tiniest piece of orange on its tip, and found strangely that when she
attempted to swallow the fruit her throat quite closed up.

Suddenly there came a memory of Drusilla. Drusilla had told of the
little silver chain, binding all to one another. Surely the chain
binding Suzanna to her mother was doubly thick, yet she had broken it!
She put the tray to one side and sprang from the bed. Her desire,
recently so keen, so all absorbing, seemed little indeed beside the
yearning now to be back across the way once again her Mother's Child.

Mrs. Reynolds, returning, found her little guest at the window, bare
feet on the cold floor; the white gown held tightly at the neck by a
small, trembling hand. A glance at the tray on the bed revealed a
breakfast practically untasted.

"Why, my lamb," began Mrs. Reynolds, "not a bite gone down!"

Suzanna turned, a desperate little face she showed, eyes wide and
appealing.

"I just couldn't eat, Mrs. Reynolds." No thought now of bestowing the
beloved title.

"And the food brought fine to bed to you."

"Not even then."

"Well, come then, dear heart; you must be dressed. I put your clothes
away neat and tidy."

Mrs. Reynolds opened a closet door and brought forth an armful of
garments. Suzanna surveyed them as though they had no relation to her.

Mrs. Reynolds went suddenly and picked up the little figure, carried her
to a rocking chair and with no word held her close.

"What is it, my little girl?" asked Mrs. Reynolds after a time, softly.

Her little girl! Suzanna winced. But she _was_ Mrs. Reynolds' little
girl now. Hadn't she broken all ties with the loved ones across the way?

She tried to find comfort in Mrs. Reynolds' joy. "I am your little girl,
aren't I?" she asked softly, calling valiantly on her sense of justice.

Mrs. Reynolds looked searchingly into Suzanna's face. With no child of
her own, she was still a mother-at-heart. She was full of understanding.

"As much, my own lassie," she answered, "as any other woman's child can
be. You see," she went on after a pause, "there's a bond 'tween mother
and child that can't ever be broke."

"But I adopted myself out to you," said Suzanna, though her heart was
beating with hope.

"Yes, you did," admitted Mrs. Reynolds; "but you didn't at that break
the tie that binds you to your own mother. You could never do that,
Suzanna, lassie."

As Suzanna looked up into the kind face, new thoughts came surging to
her. She couldn't separate them, couldn't arrange them. They all jumbled
together, like vivid picture impressions, full of color and feeling. One
thought at length cleared itself, stood out.

Love and the chain binding you to those you loved was the biggest thing
in the world.

So she told Mrs. Reynolds about Drusilla's chain. And Mrs. Reynolds,
greatly impressed, said: "Yes, it's a blessed thread that holds us
together. Reynolds calls it the 'sense of brotherhood.'" Her voice
lowered itself: "He's a Socialist, Reynolds is, Suzanna." There was
pride and fear mixed with a little condemnation in her voice.

"A Socialist--it's a nice word, isn't it?" said Suzanna, settling more
comfortably into the hollow of Mrs. Reynolds' arm.

"And I'm going to see Drusilla, as you call her," said Mrs. Reynolds,
"and take her some of my crab jelly. I've seen her many's the time
sitting out in the yard with naught but a trained maid by her. Poor,
poor old soul, with a rich daughter-in-law."

"And a King that's gone to the Far Country," said Suzanna; "and she
longs for him. Oh, she's a lonely old lady."

"She must be that and all," said Mrs. Reynolds, wholly sympathetic.

They sat rocking then in silence. Suzanna was the first to speak.

"Mrs. Reynolds," she began in a low voice. "I think I'll dress now, and
after I've helped with the breakfast dishes I'll go and see my mother."

The heartbreak in the small voice touched Mrs. Reynolds deeply. "Why,
small lass," she cried: "You mustn't think I'll hold you to your giving
yourself away to me. No, not even for a bit of time. Sweet, you gave me
joy last night. I pretended that you were my own. I undressed you and
put you to bed, and heard your prayers. You did something for me, and I
be vastly grateful to you."

Suzanna's eyes brightened. "Oh, thank you for saying all that, Mrs.
Reynolds."

"Yes, you came to me in the night with your shiny bag, and you told in
your little way some truths to Reynolds. You made him see clear and
farther than he has for many a day, the fine man though he is, and I'll
always hold you in my heart as my dream child."

"Your dream child--and I'll dream for you--that you should have your
heart's desire like the fairies say," finished Suzanna.

"Ah, lack-a-me," cried Mrs. Reynolds. "Who e'er gets his deepest heart
desire in this drear world?"

Suzanna sprang to her feet.

"Oh, but heart's desires change."

"Change!"

"Yes. You can have new ones every day. Why, for many days my deepest
heart's desire has been to have the goods cut away from under the lace.
Now, I don't care so much for that--not so much--Now I want most in the
world to see--my--mother--"

Fearful that she had hurt Mrs. Reynolds by her confession, she put out
her hand and stroked the capable hand lying near.

But Mrs. Reynolds wasn't hurt. She was smiling. "Well, it's a hard thing
at times to learn to put one wish in place of another. But I guess life
teaches you that; it hurries you forward so you have to put wish on
wish." She stood up. "And now, the morning's well started, Suzanna.
Dress quickly and come down to a warm breakfast."

She raised the tray and Suzanna knew that now she was hungry.

"Come down when you're ready, my wee bit girl," said Mrs. Reynolds, as
she left, carrying the tray with her.

So Suzanna in a short time descended. How restful the house was; no
insistent voices of children, no clattering of dishes.

"It's so quiet and nice here, Mrs. Reynolds," said Suzanna, as she
entered the kitchen. "At home there's lots of talking and sometimes the
baby cries."

"Do you like quiet, Suzanna?"

"Ye-es," Suzanna stammered. A recurrent attack of homesickness was upon
her; that dreadful pulling of the heartstrings; that sinking feeling
that she had cut herself loose from all to whom she belonged rightfully.

She stood still watching Mrs. Reynolds who was busy at the stove. She
admired the deftness with which an egg was broken and dropped into
boiling water, and in a few seconds brought to the top intact, to be
placed upon the awaiting toast.

"You're awful quick, Mrs. Reynolds," she started to say when a knock
sounded upon the door.

The door slowly opened and, alone, Suzanna's mother entered.

She stood just looking in. She was pale, her eyes wide, languid, shadows
beneath them as though she had not slept. But those same tired eyes
lightened as they fell upon Suzanna.

"Mother-eyes," the phrase grew in Suzanna's heart. She should never in
all her life forget that look of longing, of love.

And somehow another impression, new, almost unbelievable, came to
Suzanna. Her mother was _young_, for wasn't that yearning note in her
voice; that tentative little gesture; her whole questioning attitude,
all her seekings, but expressions of her youngness? She wasn't after all
far removed from her little daughter, not for this minute, anyway. A
delicious sense of comradeship with this mother flooded the child.

And the mother stood and looked at her child, almost as for the first
time, at least with a sense of newness, as though Suzanna had been born
anew to her.

In the night a far reaching understanding had come to her. It came out
of her conclusion to strike a blow at the child's oversensitiveness by a
full dose of ridicule; by accusing her of affectation, a clever playing
to the gallery; this when the night was early, and the mother still
aching with weariness from the day's many tasks. And then as the hours
wore on, and the quiet soothed her weary nerves, the knowledge came,
flashing out of the ether, as often it does for serious mothers, that
the gift of keen sensibility, of intense desire was too valuable to be
quenched.

What if Suzanna began to question her own motives; what if she should
lose belief in her own spiritual integrity; learn in time to look in on
herself with a spirit of morbid analysis instead of living out her
natural qualities beautifully and spontaneously!

All these truths stirred her again as she looked at her child.

While Suzanna didn't move from her place, she wanted to stay at some
distance that she might look her soul's full at her mother--_her
mother_!

At length she spoke: "Mother--I want to be your little girl again. Will
you take me back?"

Would she take her back? Mrs. Procter's arms opened wide. Into them
Suzanna flew.

Mrs. Reynolds regarded the cold poached egg, the second one spoiled that
morning. Furtively she wiped the tears from her eyes. At last she
cleared her voice and spoke:

"I'll go upstairs and pack your bag, Suzanna," she said.



CHAPTER VIII

SUZANNA MEETS A CHARACTER


That summer was a happy one, filled to the brim, as Suzanna often said,
with joyful times. In her pink lawn dress with the petticoat after all
showing through the lace, she recited "The Little Martyr of Smyrna" and
brought much applause to herself.

And then following close upon that happy occasion, Miss Massey invited
her pupils to a "lawn party." Once again the pink dress was to see the
day.

"I'll be very careful with the dress, mother," Suzanna promised on the
day of the lawn party. "Perhaps it'll wear just as long if I take extra
care of it as though the goods weren't cut away."

"Enjoy your dress," said Mrs. Procter. She had learned another truth
which had sprung from the episode of the pink lawn. Economy might,
indeed must dwell in a little home like hers, but sometimes, recklessly,
the stern goddess must be usurped from her place. For the child love of
beauty, the child's capacity for fine imaginings, could not be killed at
the nod of economy.

The children were both ready and waiting anxiously at the front window
long before the hour. Maizie was the first to make her announcement.

"Miss Massey's coming down the path," she cried.

They all crowded to the window. Miss Massey, looking up, waved her hand
gaily, and the children delightedly waved back.

"Oh, Miss Massey, we're all ready for you," Maizie exclaimed at once as
Miss Massey entered.

"Lovely," Miss Massey returned. Glancing casually at her, she appeared
young, yet looking closely it might be seen that her first youth was
over. She was perhaps in her middle thirties. Her hair beneath the
simple blue chip hat, had gray strands. There was a hesitating quality
about her, as though she had never done so daring a thing as reach a
decision; a wavering, indefinite figure, with a wistfulness, a soft
appeal, quite charming. That she had never come in contact with
realities showed in the wide innocence of the childlike eyes; the
sometime trembling of the lips as when a thought as now engendered by
the Procter home and its humbleness, its lack of many real comforts,
forced its way into the untouched depths of her mind.

She was the only child of old John Massey. He was a large figure in the
small town, and one not cordially admired. He was masterful, choleric,
some claimed, unjust. Owner of the steel mill which stood just outside
of the town limits, the employer of hundreds of men, he had failed to
gain the esteem of one human being. Fear, for many depended upon him for
their livelihood, was the emotion he most inspired.

Fairfax Massey, his daughter, inspired a deep sympathy, perhaps because
her leading characteristic was a pitiable holding to her ideals. She
painted her father as a good and loving man hiding his real tenderness
beneath gruff mannerisms. When he denied her friendship with the man she
secretly loved, she put upon that denial a high value. He could not bear
to run the chance of losing her, his one close possession. To that
chivalrous thought of her father, she sacrificed her friend and went her
way, undramatically, uncomplainingly.

She spoke in a low sweet voice. "The children will have a happy time,
I'm sure, Mrs. Procter," she said, as she left, Suzanna and Maizie
clinging to her.

Other little girls were waiting in the phaeton. They greeted Suzanna and
Maizie and moved to make room for them. Miss Massey took her place near
the driver, from which vantage spot she could watch her little guests,
and with a great flourish off they started.

"Are you quite comfortable, Suzanna?" Miss Massey asked once.

Suzanna looked up quickly, a puzzled line between her eyes. After brief
hesitation she answered, merely in good manners, "Yes, thank you."

The phaeton stopped several times till eight little girls filled the
vehicle to overflowing. Then with no more pauses, they were off to the
big house on the hill.

The day was wonderful. A soft little breeze caressed the children and
the sky overhead was like an angel's breast, thought Suzanna. But she
did not say this, even to excited Maizie; she was gathering impressions
and burnishing them with her vivid imagination. Once her gaze fell on
Miss Massey's long, slender, tired-looking hands. Her mother's hands,
Suzanna recalled, were tired-looking, too, but in a different way. Her
mother's, she decided after a time, were just plain tired-looking, while
Miss Massey's were a sorry tired, as though they missed something. They
were never quiet, always doing futile little things. And yet, Miss
Massey lived in a wonderful house and wore pretty dresses and hats with
gorgeous, real-looking flowers. Suzanna pondered unanswerable questions.

The driver, with the air of a brave knight, swept round the last corner.
He commanded his horses to stand still, when even the smallest girl knew
he would have to urge and coax for a full minute before the fat,
complacent animals would start again. But Suzanna liked his play. It was
in keeping with this wondrous event. She even forgave the driver his
wrinkled red neck, from which as she sat behind him, she had earlier
deliberately turned away her eyes.

The children sprang to the ground and stood looking up at the big pile
of stone, this great show house of the town. Miss Massey swung back an
iron gate and led the way first through an arbor, sun-shaded and
fragrant; then out again into a garden glowing with crimson flowers.
"The garden I love best," she said. This from simple, dear Miss Massey
into whose whole life no great color had fallen, or if there was once a
promise that life should blossom for her into a full, joyous thing, the
promise had fallen very short of fulfillment.

And just then the disaster befell Suzanna. There in the wonderful red
garden, a dire sound fell upon her ears and her eyes following the
direction of the sound were just in time to see one white toe burst
through the confines of the black ribbon lengthening her slipper.

She stood a moment, gazing down. Then in an agony lest the others should
discover her plight, she tried to draw the toe back within the slipper,
but with no success. As Miss Massey and the little girls walked on,
Suzanna stopped and pulled the ribbon over the protruding toe, tucking
in the ravelled edges. Mercifully, the ribbon stayed in place since
Suzanna cramped her toe back that it might not force its way through
again. Hastily hopping along, she entered the massive front doors held
wide by a solemn man with brass buttons. He pointed down the wide hall.
"To the right," he said.

Would the ribbon hold! was Suzanna's only thought as she later found
herself in a room called the library, with books and soft-toned
pictures; with a great fireplace banked now with greens, from above
which looked down the lovely face of a lady, Miss Massey's mother whom
the daughter scarce remembered.

If only she had worn black stockings instead of her one beloved pair of
white, went on in thought, unhappy, humiliated Suzanna. If only--but in
conjecture Suzanna was lost. The cramped toe exerting its right, thrust
itself through again. One fleeting, horrified glance told the child that
two toes now peeped out on a world that would be scandalized should it
peep back.

No time now for any furtive maneuver an active little mind might suggest
to remedy the situation, for Miss Massey at the end of the room turned
her head and looked toward Suzanna's place. In a second her eyes might
fall on the white toes! Quickly Suzanna sank into a large velvet
armchair and drew her foot beneath her. Just in time, for Miss Massey
said: "Shall we play the game of 'Answers?' You know the game, Suzanna,
don't you?"

Suzanna moistened her lips: "I know it, Miss Massey, but I don't care to
play games, thank you." How could she move, since doing so would
necessitate putting confidence in Miss Massey? Telling her that once
discarded slippers too small even for Maizie had been made to do duty by
cutting the toes and lengthening with black ribbon, ribbon which in a
miserable moment failed in its work? But how eventually to extricate
herself from the miserable predicament? She could not sit forever on her
foot!

Other games were suggested and played by the children, but Suzanna
still sat in the big armchair, one long thin leg dangling, the other
bent under her. She grew fertile in excuses when asked to join the
others. She like to "watch," then she felt a little tired, until Miss
Massey at last sensing that something was wrong did no more urging.

Once little Maizie sought her sister. Why wouldn't Suzanna play? Was she
mad at something?

Suzanna gulped hard, then with manifest effort she whispered: "You know
where mother put the ribbon bag so my slippers would be long enough?
Well, my toe's stuck through the ribbon, and I mustn't move."

"Oh!" Maizie was sorry. "Can't you tell Miss Massey and let her fix it?"

Suzanna shrank back. "No, no," she cried. "You mustn't say anything, do
you hear, Maizie? Promise me."

Maizie solemnly promised. "Will the other one hold?" she asked then.

Thus the little Job's Comforter gave Suzanna food for unpleasant
questionings. Would, indeed, the other slipper hold?

Then said Miss Massey: "We are going into the garden, Suzanna. Would you
rather stay here till we return?" Her question was very gentle, her
understanding would have been very sure had Suzanna told her trouble.
But Suzanna only answered eagerly:

"Yes, I'd like to stay here." She was almost happy in the moment's
relief.

"If you wish to come later you can find us. Just ring this bell and Mrs.
Russell, the housekeeper, will take you to the South Garden," said Miss
Massey. She leaned down and touched Suzanna's face with her soft lips.
And then Suzanna was left alone.

Now what to do! Suzanna set her fertile little mind to work on the
problem. She settled into the chair and lowered the foot on which she
was sitting. She was intently regarding the torn slipper, when she heard
distinctly an unpleasant sound. A sound which gathered volume, till
Suzanna realized that something or someone was approaching the library.
She resumed her former position, and waited!

The brocade curtains were drawn aside; a little man in a sort of uniform
stood with head bowed, while a large man limped into the room.

"Fix my chair, you simpering idiot," he shouted at the little man, "and
then take yourself off!"

The small man glided to a great easy chair near the fireplace. He heaped
pillows in it, stood aside while the loud-voiced one lowered himself,
groaningly, into the downy nest. Then the valet disappeared. Suzanna
involuntarily glanced at his feet. Did he move on velvet casters?

A moment, then the big man gave a twist of pain. A rheumatic dart had
seized him, had Suzanna known, but she could not know, and a little
exclamation was drawn from her. At the sound, the other occupant of the
room started and glanced around till finally his eyes came to rest upon
the small girl in a large chair thrust well away in a shadowy corner of
the room.

"Well!" at length he ejaculated. And then: "Are you one of the Sunday
School class?"

"Yes, I'm Suzanna Procter. The other little girls have gone out into the
garden."

He grunted and continued to glare fiercely at her. But Suzanna knew no
fear. She felt strangely a sudden high sense of exhilaration, just as
once when she had been caught in a brilliant electric storm. Some
element in her rose and responded to the big flashes; just as she had
responded to Drusilla's play of imagination. Now a force was roused in
her that claimed kinship with the big, thunderous man opposite. She sat
up very straight, and stared right back at him. Then she said very
calmly:

"You look like an eagle!"

"Then you're afraid of me!" He flung the words at her with a certain
triumph.

"I'm not! I don't like the way you shout, but _I'm_ not afraid of you."

He sank back among his pillows, but did not take his eyes from her face.
At last he asked: "What are you sitting bent up that way for? Are you
hiding anything?"

Suzanna flushed. "You're not supposed to ask a visitor if she's hiding
anything; especially when her leg's asleep and she's suffering."

A spasm crossed his face. Perhaps he was trying to smile. He said only:
"Well, put your leg down, then. Seems to me you're old enough and ought
to have sense enough not to sit on it when it's asleep. Put it down, I
say!"

She did not move. "Will you please turn your head away a whole minute?"
she finally asked.

He did so, somewhat to his own surprise. He was unaccustomed to obeying
others. When he turned again, she uttered a cry: "Why didn't you keep
your head turned the other way till I told you to look," she exclaimed,
indignantly. "You don't play fair."

"See here, little girl," he commenced, when his eyes fell to her foot,
which for the moment she had forgotten, a small black-shod foot with two
protruding toes. "Eh, what's that!"

"My toes!" she answered. Her face flamed, then with sudden anger against
him, against circumstances, against everything that had conspired to
spoil this beautiful and long-dreamed-of day: "They're sticking through
my slipper. That's why I had to sit on my foot. That's why my leg went
to sleep. That's why I couldn't go out in the garden with the others."

He began to laugh, silently, mirthlessly, but it was laughter
nevertheless. Suzanna regarded him, her quick temper getting beyond her
control. At last she burst forth: "You're a rude man! And it isn't funny
to miss beautiful things, the flowers and the baby squirrels, and
perhaps lemonade."

He didn't answer for a moment. Then he said:

"Agreed! But it's certainly funny to see your toes sticking through your
shoe. No wonder you sat on your foot." Still, despite his discourteous
words, his tone changed; it was almost apologetic.

Suzanna's face lost its clouds. "Of course, I had to sit on my foot,"
she agreed. "I couldn't let Miss Massey see how mother put a black
ribbon bag on my slippers to make them longer, could I? She wouldn't
understand like you do, would she?"

"Do I understand? I wonder. Well, why did your mother put on the black
ribbon?"

"The shoes were too short!"

"She should have bought you a new pair."

Suzanna sprang from her chair and went to the big man.

"Do you know what rent week means?" she asked, lifting her earnest face
to his and standing so close that her hand touched his knee.

"I think I do," he answered.

"Well, this is rent week and Peter's coat was out at the elbows and two
of us needed shoes and the insurance was due on all of us and mother
can't let that go. It came in very handy when Helen, Peter's twin, went
away."

"What do you mean by 'went away?' Don't lean on that knee, that's where
the rheumatism is--do you mean died?"

Suzanna flinched. "We say 'went away,'" she answered gently; "you think
then that someone you loved has just gone away for a little while, and
is waiting somewhere for you."

The man's gaze wandered up to the lovely, smiling face above the mantel
and stayed there a space before his eyes came back to Suzanna.

"And so," she finished, "because everything came together, rent and
insurance and shoes, and a coat, I had to wear these slippers." Suzanna
was quite cheerful again, only very eager that he should understand the
situation.

At this moment the timid little valet appeared in the doorway. "Anything
you wish, sir?" he began. "Are you quite comfortable?"

"You infernal idiot!" bawled the man in the chair. "Can anyone be
comfortable with rheumatism in his knee?"

The little man precipitately retired. "You're awful cross," Suzanna
commented. "What does the man mean asking if you're 'comfortable?'
That's what Miss Massey asked me in the park carriage. I was sitting
down, and nothing hurt me."

"In other words," he answered, strangely catching her meaning at once,
"one chair is like another to you."

"Well, is there any difference?" she queried. She was very much
interested in this question, for the subtleties of refined comfort held
no place in her life. Knowledge of luxuries was quite outside the ken of
the younger members of the Procter family.

The big man said: "Yes, there is a difference; a decided difference." He
was thinking of his household with its retinue of trained servants, each
helping to make the days revolve smoothly.

"Why aren't you at work?" asked Suzanna then. "My father works every day
in the hardware store and sometimes way into the night on his invention
in the attic. _He_ doesn't have a chair filled with pillows to lean
against. Does God like you better than He does us?"

"Eh, what's that? What do you mean?"

"Because you don't have to work! And you think one chair is better than
another to sit in, and you can shout at the little man and make him
afraid."

"Well, we'll not talk of that," said the big man testily. "And now I'll
ask you a few questions. What does your mother do when rent week comes
round? Cry, and throw up to your father the fact that she can't make
ends meet? That's what women generally do, I've heard and read."

"Oh, no, my mother doesn't do that," said Suzanna, shaking her head.
"She just looks sad at first and sits and thinks and thinks and then
after awhile she says: 'Well, if everybody was thoughtful we'd all have
enough. But when some people waste, then others must pay the
piper'--'pay the piper'--I like the singing way that sounds, don't
you?"

"And who does she mean by other people?"

Suzanna smiled confidently: "Oh, she just says that; so no one really is
blamed, I guess. There really isn't anyone of that kind living; 'cause
nobody in the world could waste if they knew some children needed shoes
and some little boys' elbows stuck through their coats; would anyone?"

The man looked at her suspiciously. "Have you been listening to Reynolds
haranging on his soap box?" But seeing her innocence, he went on: "Well,
we don't know about those things. There's some reason why." He went on
more vigorously: "Of course, some people are privileged because they're
stronger; they've better judgment."

But Suzanna didn't understand that. She put the matter aside to think
over later, and, if she could remember the words, to repeat them to her
father for his explanation at a time when he wasn't hazy and far away
from realities.

"What does your father do?" Suzanna's companion resumed after a moment.

"He weighs nails in Job Doane's hardware store," said Suzanna, "and he
sells washboards to ladies. My father's a great man. He's an inventor!
He has a wonderful machine in the attic and sometimes when he's thinking
of his invention, he doesn't see us at all, and mother tells us not to
talk then to disturb him."

"What's your father's name?"

"Richard Procter," said Suzanna. And then:

"You are like an eagle; that's why I like you. You'd fight, wouldn't
you, if you had to! But I shouldn't mind your shouting. And I'd rather
you'd see my toes sticking through my shoe than any person in the world
outside my family. Now, get me a needle and thread before they all come
back," she finished.

The man stared into her upraised flower-face. His own turned red for the
visible second of hesitation. Then he raised his voice and called. The
timid one appeared. His master said: "Get me some black thread and a
needle; also a thimble. Don't stand there gaping! I'm waiting."

With some difficulty, the amazed valet gained volition over his power of
locomotion. He returned shortly bearing the desired articles reposing on
a silver tray, and retired once more, his eyes still dazed.

"Now hurry up," said the big man to Suzanna, "if you want to get into
the garden at all."

Suzanna threaded the needle, then removed her slipper. "I'll overcast
the ribbon, like mother does seams," she said. "Will you hold the
slipper? There, that's easier. You see I need both hands."

Silence, till the work was finished. "Now," said Suzanna, stopping to
bite the thread, no scissors being at hand, "I guess no toe in the world
could push through that, I've stitched so tight. You think it will hold,
don't you?"

[Illustration: Very carefully he looked at the mended place]

Very carefully he looked at the mended place. "I should say, if my
judgment's worth anything, that it's a very decent job. But see here,
you've taken up such a large seam; the shoe will be too small again."

Suzanna smiled at him. "Oh, that doesn't matter, just so the toes can't
burst through again," she answered. "You don't mind hobbling a little
bit when you have to."

He cleared his throat. "Well, I'll call the housekeeper and she'll take
you to the other children."

"Good-bye," said Suzanna friendlily. And then very politely, "Thank you
for helping me."

"Well, I suppose I might say you're welcome."

But he watched the small figure, that did after all "hobble" a little
all the way down the room as the summoned housekeeper led the way.
And, left alone, he sat quite still for a few moments. Once or twice he
smiled grimly, but several times he frowned.

       *       *       *       *       *

Suzanna was full of her experience with the Eagle Man, and in spite of
her mishap she had greatly enjoyed her day. Hadn't the fierce one, the
one of the loud voice and cross face, been kind to her and helped her to
mend her slipper? And hadn't he told the housekeeper to give her a great
bunch of the purple grapes especially procured from the city for him,
she was told?

She thought of all this when she and Maizie left the low phaeton in
which they had been driven home. For some indefinable reason she was
elated, and excited--an emotion far above the usual happy fatigue felt
after a day of pleasure. She meant to tell her father and mother all
about her talk with the Eagle Man when the supper dishes were washed and
put away. She would show her father just how her toes had thrust
themselves through her slipper and how she had sat upon her foot till it
went to sleep. Not, however, till the setting was right would she tell
her story. Suzanna's unconscious dramatic sense rarely failed her.

At the supper table that night the baby fell asleep in his high chair.
Peter, after a hard day of play, was nodding in his place. Maizie,
replete after her third dish of rice pudding, was quiet; a little sleepy
too, if truth must be told.

It was then Suzanna told of her visit with the Eagle Man. She left out
no detail, from the time her stocking burst its confines to her
interesting intimacy with the Eagle Man.

"You told old John Massey, you say, Suzanna," said her father at length,
his eyes bright, "about my machine?"

Suzanna nodded. Then a little fear stole upon her. She slipped from her
place and went to her father.

"Did I talk too much, daddy?" she asked, mindful of former such
indictments.

His arm went about her waist. Then he drew her close and kissed her.

"No, Suzanna, little girl," he said; "I guess talk from the heart rarely
hurts." He paused. "Perhaps it was meant you should talk to him."



CHAPTER IX

A LEAF MISSING FROM THE BIBLE


Suzanna thought a great deal about the Eagle Man. She was extremely
puzzled as to the exact place he filled in the world. While she admired
him, indeed was strongly drawn to him, still she considered him in some
ways quite inferior to her father. And so she wondered why he could live
in a big house, could have servants who sprang at a word to do his
bidding, and could eat all the fruit he wanted as evidenced by the great
bunch of purple grapes, one of many bunches, while her father lived in a
very small house, had no servants, and had little fruit to eat. She knew
instinctively that the Eagle Man had no need to worry about rent day,
and the many other similar things she felt harassed her father, and over
and over again she pondered on this seemingly unjust state of affairs.
It would have been so much better, she thought, if the Eagle Man
occupied with his one daughter just a little cottage while the large
Procter family had the bigger house. Though she dearly loved the little
home, there had been times when it seemed very small for the growing
Procter family.

But she concluded at last that for the present there were many
perplexities which must remain perplexities till that wonderful time
when she would be a woman, and everything made clear to her.
Experiences, too, had shown her that a troublesome question of Monday
often had resolved itself by Wednesday. So she went contentedly on her
way.

On a morning following Suzanna's talk with the Eagle Man, Mrs. Procter
and all the children except the baby who was taking his early morning
nap upstairs, were in the kitchen busy at their tasks, Suzanna polishing
the stove, and Maizie peeling the potatoes for supper, a task Mrs.
Procter insisted upon being performed early in the day. Peter, exempted,
because of his sex, from household duties--and very unfair this
exemption Suzanna thought privately--was trying his awkward best to mend
a baseball. Maizie broke a rather long silence.

"Mother!" she cried, and then waited.

Mrs. Procter looked up from her kneading.

"What is it, Maizie?" she asked.

"Didn't Jesus ever laugh?" asked Maizie.

No one spoke. Maizie, engaged in peeling a large potato, went on quite
unconscious of the variant expressions pictured in the faces of her
audience: "He's always so sad in our Sunday School lessons, mother. Even
when He said, 'Suffer little children to come unto me,' He didn't
smile--or they never say so when they read the chapter," she finished.

Mrs. Procter looked helplessly at Suzanna. And Suzanna rose to the
occasion. "Maizie," she said, "you know Jesus was born in a manger so
His mother didn't have much money and it was hard to make both ends
meet. And, besides, there wasn't anything to smile about in those days
when the world was so fresh."

"I guess that's right," Mrs. Procter agreed. "What with going round and
trying to persuade people to be good and understand what He was trying
to tell them, there couldn't have been much excuse for smiling."

Maizie, however, was tenacious. "Mother, you know at times even when
things have all gone wrong you've laughed at something the baby did,"
she said looking up from her work.

"Yes, I know," put in Suzanna, as though Maizie had spoken to her. "But
mother doesn't have to go round turning water into wine and doing lots
of other wonderful things."

"Well, I wish He had smiled," Maizie persisted.

Suzanna looked searchingly at her sister. "Why do you wish that,
Maizie?" she asked.

"Oh, I'd think then He was more like a big brother," said Maizie. "Now,
sometimes I kind of feel afraid of Him."

"If you didn't feel afraid of Him, Maizie," Suzanna asked, turning back
to the cold stove and vigorously polishing away, "do you think you'd be
a better girl?"

Maizie flushed resentfully. "I'm good enough now," she answered.

"But you get mad for nothing, Maizie," said Suzanna; "you always get mad
when you don't see things."

"Anybody would get mad," Maizie exclaimed. "Why just yesterday when we
were playing in the yard you said, 'Behold, the lion marcheth down the
yard. Maizie, quick, quick, out of the way,' and when I said, 'I don't
see any lion, Suzanna,' you said, 'Well, he's there, right beside you.
Don't you hear him roaring?' and there wasn't any lion there at all."

"Well, Maizie, you can't see anything unless it's there," deplored
Suzanna.

"You mean, Suzanna," put in Mrs. Procter as she covered the dough with
a snowy cloth, "that you have more imagination than Maizie."

"Well, anyway, Maizie," said Suzanna after a time, "I'm going to try and
make you a better girl."

"Make her stop saying that, mother," said Maizie, "I'm good enough as it
is."

Suzanna said nothing more then. She finished her stove, and then, when
Maizie had peeled all the potatoes, Suzanna went into the parlor and
dusted all the furniture very carefully. Maizie followed and stood
watching her sister.

"How could you make me better, Suzanna?" she asked, after a time,
curiosity elbowing pride aside.

"I meant to tell you a story," said Suzanna; "about something you've
never heard before." She went on dusting.

"Would the story make me a better girl?"

"Yes, and happier, too."

"Is it a nice story, Suzanna?"

"Awfully sweet."

"When could you tell me, Suzanna?"

"We'll go out into the yard after I've finished dusting and then I'll
tell you the story, Maizie."

"All right."

So when the dusting was accomplished, the children sought the back
yard. Suzanna procured a soap box, placed it beneath the one tree, while
Maizie drew another very close to her sister that she might lose no
word, and settled with keen anticipation to listen to Suzanna's story.

The day was hot, with scarcely a breeze stirring. Still, with the quiet
there was a freshness in the air that made the children draw in deep
breaths.

Suzanna began very softly: "Maizie, do you see that big rose nodding
near the fence over there at Mrs. Reynolds'?"

Yes, Maizie saw the rose.

"Well, yesterday when you were wheeling the baby and I was sitting on
this very box putting buttons on Peter's waist, that rose all at once
walked across the road to me! It stood by my side for a long time, and
then it said softly, 'Suzanna,' and it looked at me and it was all pink
and very sweet, and it said to me, 'Suzanna, how old are you?' and I
said, 'I'm nearly eight, Lady Rose, and Maizie is nearly seven. Mother
had hardly got over my coming to her when Maizie came along.'

"And the rose said, 'Maizie? Is that the little girl that is going to
ask tomorrow whether Jesus ever smiled?' And I said, 'Yes, Maizie will
be peeling a big potato, and I'll be polishing the stove, and mother
will be kneading bread when Maizie will ask that question.'

"'Well,' said the rose, 'you must tell her that once upon a time Jesus
_did_ smile, but they didn't put it in the Bible because it didn't seem
'portant to grown folks, and they didn't think that all the little
children in the world would sometimes wish He had smiled.' And then the
rose went on to tell me the story of the dear smile."

Maizie gazed wide-eyed at her sister. "Did you really see the rose with
your eyes, Suzanna?"

"Yes," Suzanna answered; "truly with my eyes." She suddenly sat up very
straight and pointed a small finger, "and there it's coming again. It's
nodding its head at me. Look, Maizie!"

Maizie jumped.

"There, see, Maizie, it's walking right through Mrs. Reynolds' gate.
Isn't it graceful?"

"How can it walk on one stem?" asked Maizie, the literalist.

"Well, it does, doesn't it? You can see it. Now, it's coming into our
yard." Suzanna waited, then: "Good morning, Lady Rose," she greeted in a
high treble voice. "Come and stand near Maizie." Maizie moved quickly to
make room. "You see it now, don't you, Maizie?" Maizie hesitated. She
stared hard at the spot near her, then up with wistful eyes into
Suzanna's face.

"I can't see it, Suzanna," she said at length. "Do you think mother'd
better take me to the doctor and have my eyes examined like Mrs.
Reynolds had hers?"

Suzanna felt flowing over her a sudden wave of pity. "No, Maizie, dear,"
she said, putting her arms about Maizie and drawing her close. "Maybe I
see the rose with something inside of me. But never mind, lamb
girl--isn't that pretty, Mrs. Reynolds calls me that--the rose has gone
home again. Listen close and I'll tell you the story that was left out
of the Bible, just as the rose told it to me."

Maizie settled herself again, expectantly.

"This will be told, Maizie, in the way the Bible is written. Funny words
that we don't know the meaning of, but can guess; terrible threats."

"Oh, don't," cried Maizie, "don't, I don't want 'terrible threats.' It
sounds awful."

"Well, then," conceded Suzanna, "I'll leave out the terrible threats,
Maizie. Now I'm beginning:

"There came to the city of Jerusalem one day a Little Boy with a halo
on His head. It was on a Monday that he came. The mothers were all
washing and those that were not washing, behold, they were hanging
clothes out in the yard, and as He walked He carried a message, and His
message was this: 'Beware of green tea, handsome to the eye, but
destructive to the human system.'"

Maizie's memory was pricked wide awake. "Why, that's written on mother's
tea canister, and you read it aloud a thousand times one day," she
cried.

"That saying has come down the ages," responded Suzanna quickly. "And
any more breaking-in and I'll not tell the story."

Maizie subsided, and Suzanna continued.

"Now when all the mothers heard this wonderful saying, there came sorrow
and fear into their hearts. 'Yea,' said one, 'have I not used green
tea?' And the Little Boy with the halo said, 'Thou art never to do so
again,' and all the mothers bowed their heads.

"And the Little Boy grew and grew till He came to be a man. A man that
looked very much like our father. He played the harp, the one he
afterwards took to Heaven with Him. And He wore a long, white, flowing
gown, that His mother washed out every morning and ironed carefully
after it was dry. 'Behold,' she said, 'Yea, nay, no other hands but
mine must touch this gown.' There were no laundries in those days.

"The Man with the halo walked by the sea at day, and walked under the
stars at night. Then He came on back to His mother. She said to Him: 'Is
it that Thou art tired that Thou dost not smile?' And He said, drawing
Himself up to a big height, 'There is nothing to smile at.' And His
mother said, 'Behold I have made for Thee something nice to eat, with an
orange in front of Thy plate!' But even then He did not smile. And next
day, He went off into the fields and took care of His lambs. And the day
after that, yea, He went into His father's shop and He said to His
father, 'I must away,' and then the earth trembled and rocked beneath
their feet.

"Then the Man with the halo left, and for a long time His mother didn't
see Him any more. And out in the world, in Galilee, I think it was, He
didn't even there find a chance to smile. Everything was too sad and
people too bad, and then one day, behold, the Man with the halo was busy
making ten fish out of one little tiny minney for Peter who was hungry,
and had a 'normous appetite like our Peter's, when a woman came running
down the road. Everybody looked at her, but she went on. And when she
came near the Man with the halo, she fell on her knees and He stopped
his work. He had just half a fish in His hand when this woman spoke. She
said: 'Pardon me, Master, but I have heard of lots of wonderful things
Thou hast done, and now I must ask a favor of Thee.'

"The Man with the halo put down the fish that wasn't finished and turned
His big eyes upon her, and He said, 'Speak, woman.' And she said: 'Wilt
Thou come with me?' He waited a little, but felt pity in His heart for
her and so He went with her, His halo shining like the sun and making a
wide light path for everyone to walk in, and lots of people walked
behind Him, but no one in front.

"And they came to a little house, like ours set back from the road,
where lots of children lived. And there in the middle of the room, lying
in a white box, fast asleep was the littlest baby that had ever gone to
Heaven. And though the woman had lots of other babies, and maybe lots
more would come to her like they come to us all the time, she wanted
that one tiny little baby to open its eyes and look at her.

"And so she fell on her knees, and she said to the Man with the halo:
'Will you wake that lovely baby of mine for me? Oh, please, Master,
waken it--even though it should cry all night. Perhaps it's happy in
Heaven, but I am lonely. Dost Thou think I can have it back?'

"And just then Peter came into the room. He had followed the Man with
the halo. 'But it's only a little thing,' Peter said. 'And it made so
much noise when it was awake. Its big sister had to warm milk for it,
and take it out in the buggy and to wash its clothes, sometimes when its
mother was busy or had been up the night before. Is it not better for
all that it is in Heaven?'

"And then she said, 'I'm not speaking to you, Peter,' and she looked
again at the Man with the halo. And at last He spoke and His voice was
like music, thrilly and gentle. And He said, 'All mothers want their
babies and we've got plenty in Heaven, and I'll give this one back to
you.'

"And He went to the white box and He looked at the baby, and pretty soon
the baby got pink like my coral beads, and then its eyes opened and it
looked up into His face and it raised its arms up to Him.

"_Then He smiled!_--and He lifted the baby up and held it close, so He
warmed it all through. And then He put it into its mother's arms and
said, 'Well, I must be going.'

"And this is what I'm going to tell you, Maizie, _that you were that
little baby_, and Jesus smiled at _you_ to wake you up."

Maizie did not speak. Her eyes were shining, her lips trembling. Her
small soul was touched to its depths. After a long time in a whisper she
spoke: "Oh, was I really the baby that made Jesus smile? I'm happy,
Suzanna, but--it hurts me, too--"

Suzanna put her arms about her sister. The emotions she had aroused in
that little sister warmed her, thrilled her through and through. They
sat on in silence. Soon a question began to puzzle Maizie. She gave it
voice. "I didn't know I'd been a baby more than once, Suzanna."

"You're a baby every hundred years," said Suzanna promptly.

"Oh, I see." Then: "I do love Him now, Suzanna. I'll always love Him
'cause once He woke me up. Suzanna, do you think the rose will come to
you and tell you another story?"

Suzanna believed the rose might.



CHAPTER X

A PICNIC IN THE WOODS


For days Maizie lived in the sanctity of the thought that the Master of
all had smiled at her. But even so marvelous an occurrence, so sweet a
marking out of her above all the children in the world, failed
completely on one occasion to help her overcome a mood of sullenness.

She awoke late one morning, and found that Suzanna had arisen and gone
down stairs. She heard sounds indicating breakfast, but there was a
little dull feeling at her heart. Her customary joyous anticipation of
living a whole day, ripe with possibilities, was quite absent. She
decided to remain in bed, but at her mother's voice calling her name she
was prompted to put out one small foot, then the other, and soon, as
another call came up peremptorily, she went lazily ahead dressing
herself.

Ready then for the day, she went to the window and looked out. The sky
was hazy, with little dull clouds floating on its breast. From far away
came grumbles of thunder. Over to the east the sky seemed to open in a
long thin path of vivid light and then close again, leaving the heavens
gray, bleak. Maizie wanted to cry; it was with an effort she controlled
her tears.

At last, languidly she moved from the window, went down the stairs,
through the tiny hall and into the dining-room, her little face downcast
still, with no smile lightening it to greet the other children. Suzanna
and Peter sat at the table awaiting the laggard.

"Father had to leave early this morning, Maizie," said Suzanna at once.
"He ate his breakfast all alone."

Maizie did not answer; silently she sank into her chair as her mother
appeared with the baby and took her usual place, after placing him in
his high chair. Maizie gazed for a moment at the oatmeal in her own blue
plate, then with a little petulant gesture, she pushed the plate away.

"I don't like oatmeal with a pool of syrup in the middle," she said
slowly, not addressing anyone directly, but keeping her eyes on her
plate.

"You've always liked it before this morning," her mother answered. "I
think you're just cross, Maizie."

"I don't like syrup in the middle of my oatmeal," repeated Maizie; "I
want milk on it like father has."

"Oh, Maizie," said Suzanna, "father _must_ have milk on his oatmeal."

"Why?" asked Maizie.

"Because he is our father and he must have the nice things."

"Well, we're his children," pursued Maizie, apparently unconvinced. "And
I don't see why we shouldn't have some nice things to eat, too."

"But there's so many of us," said Suzanna.

"Why did father leave orders for so many of us then?" said Maizie
looking up. Belligerence was now in her tone, in her very attitude.

"Now," said Mrs. Procter, firmly. "We must not talk this way. Father
doesn't like syrup. It doesn't agree with him. You're a very naughty
little girl this morning, Maizie."

Maizie was again on the point of tears. Lest they overflow she rose
quickly from the table and left the room.

"Maizie's in a bad humor today," said Mrs. Procter to Suzanna.

"Maybe she feels bad today, mother, because it's Wednesday."

"Well, what in the world has the day to do with it!" Mrs. Procter
exclaimed.

"Well, Wednesday you know is the shape of a big black bear. It's not
like Thursday, that's the shape of a great snowy white ship on a
sparkling sea. I don't like Wednesday myself, mother."

"Well, I'm sorry," returned Mrs. Procter. "But it's not in my power to
shape days to please you children," she spoke crisply.

"Are you tired, mother?" asked Suzanna, after a pause.

"I think I'm always tired these days," Mrs. Procter admitted, "but I'm
particularly tired this morning. The baby was very restless last night."

"If you were like Mrs. Martin on the other side of the town," said
Suzanna as she rose from the table and began to gather up the dishes,
while Peter escaped into the yard, "who has only one little girl, you
wouldn't be kept awake." Suzanna's eyes were widely questioning. Did her
mother regret owning so many children?

Mrs. Procter stood up. She lifted the baby out of his high chair.
"You're every one dear and wonderful to me," she said. "But we're all
human, dear, and apt to grow tired."

Suzanna walked into the kitchen and put the dishes down on the table. On
her way back to the dining-room she glanced out of the window. The
early September day had changed. Miraculously every dull gray cloud had
scurried away, leaving a sky soft, yet brilliant. Birds flew about,
carolling madly, as though some elixir in the air sent their spirits
bounding. Suzanna's every fiber responded. The desire whipped her to
plunge into the beauty of outdoors, to run madly about, to shout, to
sing. But alas, she knew there was no chance to obey her ardent impulse,
since Wednesday was cleaning day, a day rigid, inflexible, when all the
Procter family were pressed into service; that is, all but Peter,
belonging to a sex blessedly free from work during its young, upgrowing
years.

Mrs. Procter spoke: "Bring the high chair into the kitchen, Suzanna,
near the window for the baby; then we'll start cleaning."

Suzanna obeyed reluctantly. She turned from the window. "Mother," she
said, "when I'm grown up I'll have no steady days for anything."

"What do you mean?" asked Mrs. Procter.

"Well, I won't wash on Monday, and iron on Tuesday, and clean on
Wednesday, and bake on Thursday. I'll let every day be a surprise."

"Yes," said Mrs. Procter, "and a nice mix-up there'd be. You must have
set times for every task if you expect to accomplish anything."

"But isn't it 'complishing anything if you're happy?" asked Suzanna,
really puzzled.

Mrs. Procter hesitated. "But you can be happy working, too."

"But I know, mother, that I'd be happier today out in the sun."

"But the truth remains, Suzanna, that if we don't wash on Monday we'd
have to wash on Tuesday, and that ties up everything at the end of the
week," said her mother.

Suzanna sighed. She couldn't by mere words combat her mother's
arguments. They seemed indeed unassailable if you applied plain reason
to them. But something deeper, finer than reason, made Suzanna believe
that to be out in the sun, to be under the trees, to be dreaming in the
perfume of flowers, was more important than cleaning and dusting; anyway
in a glorious, straight-from-Heaven day like this Wednesday. So she
returned unconvinced to the dishes, while her mother after tying the
baby in his high chair cast an appraising eye around, wondering just
where she should begin her upheaval.

Suddenly a loud, heart-rending outcry was heard, and Peter, who a moment
before had been playing peacefully in the yard, came rushing into the
house. Out of the medley of his piteous cries, Suzanna at last made
sense. Not so her mother who asked anxiously:

"What in the world is he crying so for, Suzanna? Is he hurt? Will he let
you look him over?"

"No, he's not hurt," returned Suzanna. "He is crying because _never in
all his life will he be able to see his ears_."

Mrs. Procter stared dumbfounded. But she soon recovered. She was
accustomed to originalities of this sort in her family.

"So! Well, what am I to do about it?" she asked the small boy.

Peter looked at her stolidly. "I want to see my ears," he repeated. "And
I can't only in the mirror."

"Have you lived for five years," asked Mrs. Procter, "without
discovering that your ears are attached to your head, and that I can't
take them off in order that you may see them?"

"And you can't see the back of your neck either, Peter," cried Suzanna
at this juncture. At which disastrous piece of information Peter cried
louder.

"Now, Suzanna," exclaimed Mrs. Procter in some exasperation. "What did
you tell him that for? Isn't it enough for him to learn in one day that
he'll never see his ears without telling him about the back of his neck?
Stop your crying, Peter. It's bad enough to have you cry for things that
can be mended."

Maizie, attracted by the noise, unable to control her curiosity,
appeared at the door. Her face was still sullen, but it also bore a rare
expression of stubbornness. Satisfying her curiosity as to the reason
for the commotion, she then made her announcement.

"Mother," she began, "I'm not going to wash the window sills upstairs
this cleaning morning."

"Now, Maizie," said Suzanna, conciliatingly, "don't you remember Who
smiled at you once?"

"M-hm, I remember," said Maizie, without change of expression, "but I'm
not going to wash the window sills."

A little silence ensued. Then Suzanna offered a suggestion.

"Mother," she said, "none of us feels right, do we? Can't we have a
picnic?"

"A picnic?" exclaimed Mrs. Procter. "A picnic!" She was about vigorously
to refuse the request when she paused. She looked at the three earnest
little faces before her. Suzanna resenting steady days for doing steady
tasks; Maizie hating her porridge, and Peter grieved because he
couldn't see his ears; the baby too, not his usual sunny self. But set
against the strange and varied emotions of her young family, loomed the
house with its stern demands upon her. Should she postpone her tasks
then vengeance in the double form of cleaning and baking day would
descend upon her tomorrow!

Then suddenly the truth pressed in on her--the children had rights upon
her time, her thoughts, her understandings, her sweetnesses! What if for
this week the window sills upstairs did remain unwashed, the rugs
downstairs stay unshaken? She stole a glance out of the window at the
one tree in the yard, green and gently swaying in the soft breeze, and
she spoke with the impulse of youth. "Well," she said, "where could we
go?"

"We could have it in the yard if you say so, mother," cried Suzanna,
mentally forecasting consent in her mother's question. "But I know some
lovely woods not very far away. We could push the baby in his cart."

The baby from his high chair gurgled joyously.

"And take lunch," said Maizie, brightening.

"And my baseball," completed Peter.

"Well," said Mrs. Procter, the brief spark that had lifted her dying,
"if I'm going to have grumbling all the time, something the matter with
each one of you, I might as well let the work go for once, I suppose."

But though the consent fell leaden in its delivery, it _was_ consent and
in a miraculously short time they were all ready to start away; even the
lunch basket was packed and the baby put into his carriage and wheeled
out to the front gate to wait till the entire family was assembled.

Mrs. Procter locked the doors, ran across the street to ask Mrs.
Reynolds to buy certain vegetables from a daily huckster and then away
they all went down the wide white road to the woods.

Soon the joy and beauty of the day stole into Mrs. Procter's heart. She
breathed in the invigorating air deeply. Cares seemed to fall from her.
Materialities were banished into the background. She looked at her
children as they went singing down the road. She had meant to bind them
to sordid tasks within four walls when a jewel of a day beckoned to all!
She visualized her house clean and in perfect order, but the children
cross, she herself irritable and tired out, and wondering a little bit
about the meaning of things. Was it worth while to let inflexible rules
remain victors at such a cost. She knew a sudden thrill of gratitude for
Suzanna, who had suggested the outing, and putting out her hand she
drew the little girl to her.

Suzanna looked up. She caught the deep and tender look in her mother's
face, so she voiced a plea which had been in her heart, but kept from
utterance in fear that she might ask too much.

"Mother, if we're going on a real picnic we ought to take the lame and
the halt with us. And I know a little girl who has cross eyes, and she's
a weeny bit pigeon-toed. She's the lame and the halt, isn't she? Because
when she looks at me I never think she is looking at me. I tried to
teach her one day how to look straight but it wouldn't do. Could I
invite her, do you think?"

"Where does she live?"

"Oh, just the other side of the fork road," Suzanna replied, pointing
out the direction. "If you'll go on I'll run and get Mabel and then
catch up with you. She's that new little girl. Her folks haven't lived
here long."

"Very well."

In a short-time Suzanna returned, holding tight to little Mabel's hand.
"I told her mother we had enough to eat with us and that we'd take good
care of her. So here she is," said Suzanna.

Little Mabel looked up obliquely at Mrs. Procter.

"Her hair doesn't grow thick around her face," said Suzanna a little
apologetically; "and I told her mother to rub Gray's ointment into it,
like you did for the dog that came off in spots. The one Peter found,
you remember."

"It didn't do any good--" began Maizie.

Mrs. Procter plunged in to prevent further discussion about the
unfortunate dog. "Do you think you can walk quite a distance, Mabel?"
she asked.

Mabel put her finger in her mouth.

"Don't talk to her right away, mother," begged Suzanna. "She's a little
bit shy."

So they went on, little Mabel contributing no word to the talk. They
passed fields full of yellow daisies and they walked by one group of
gentle, cud-chewing cows. "But I hope there'll be no cows in your woods,
Suzanna," said Mrs. Procter.

And her wish was granted. Indeed all, sky, flowers, breeze, absence of
dust and curious animals, helped to make this a day of days. When they
reached Suzanna's little patch of woods with many spreading oak trees
that invited rest beneath their sheltering branches Mrs. Procter
exclaimed in delight.

"Isn't it lovely, mother?" cried Suzanna. "See, there's a tiny brook,
too. I've been here often when I wanted to think of poetry."

"And I've never had time," her mother murmured.

"Now you just sit right down here with your back against this tree,"
Suzanna went on with a delicious air of protection, "and I'll take care
of the baby. Close your eyes, dear mother-love, and forget that God sent
you a big family and that you've got to do your best by us all like you
told Mrs. Reynolds last week."

Mrs. Procter's eyes were suddenly overflowing. Children! How rare and
fine a gift they were. How many truths they could teach! She sank down
upon the grass and Suzanna put the baby down beside her, first spreading
out a thick shawl.

Mrs. Procter caught the small loving hand within her own: "I don't know,
Suzanna; sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to do all I'd like to do for
you all," she said in a low voice.

"Why, mother, _you love us_!" Suzanna exclaimed. "Don't you remember
last Sunday when I put on my leghorn hat with the bunch of daisies over
my left eye--"

"I remember," said Mrs. Procter, somewhat at a loss as to the connection
between thought and thought.

"Well, when I said, 'good-bye, mother, I'm going to Sunday School,' you
looked at me and _smiled_ from your soul! And I forgot that there was
Maizie and Peter and the baby, and I didn't even remember father, and I
said to myself: '_That's my very own mother!_' Just as though we just
belonged to one another with nobody else in the whole world."

"Kiss me, Suzanna darling," said Mrs. Procter, after a long moment.

Suzanna stooped and kissed her mother very tenderly.

"Now run away and play," said Mrs. Procter, leaning against the
supporting tree and closing her eyes, blissfully conscious that she
could rest undisturbed for at least twenty minutes.

An hour later she opened her eyes and sat up straight. She had fallen
asleep, though her position was not a particularly comfortable one, and
slept sweetly, soundly. The baby still lay peacefully quiet, his little
blanket covering him. And small bees had been working about her. Spread
before her, reposing on a red table cloth lay a tempting meal. In the
middle of the table cloth, to give an air of festivity, was a bunch of
daisies. But most appealing of all to the mother was the sight of the
four children, her own three and little Mabel, seated quietly near the
table; they had evidently been there some time, waiting patiently till
she should open her eyes.

"Oh," cried Maizie, great relief filling her at sight of her mother
stirring, "Suzanna made us stay so quiet till you woke up, mother, and
we're all awful hungry."

"Yes, I want that fat sandwich," said Peter.

And then they fell to eating with much laughter and gaiety.

"Out in the woods you don't have to pretend you hate to eat, do you,
mother?" said Suzanna.

"Nor anywhere else that I know of," said Mrs. Procter, smiling.

"But I don't like to see anyone eat as though he liked to eat," said
Suzanna. "May I have two or three grapes, mother?"

She received her grapes. And quiet fell, while each did his best to
clear the table. At length when the meal was concluded, and the basket
repacked, and the pewter knives and forks carefully wrapped in a napkin,
the children begged Suzanna for stories.

So she began, and seemed never to fall short of material. Her mother
listened, dreamily contented, till another hour passed and the baby
awoke. He was a smiling, happy baby and crowed with delight when his
mother allowed him a cracker and a cup of milk.

"Shall we play games?" asked Suzanna next, when just at the moment the
sound of wheels was heard and shortly there came into sight a low
carriage drawn by the two prosperous, fat brown horses, and seated in
the carriage was Suzanna's Eagle Man.

Suzanna darted out into the road. As the carriage did not stop she
called out: "Mr. Eagle Man! Oh, Mr. Eagle Man!"

The coachman involuntarily pulled in his horses. He didn't know what
peremptory signal would be given him to move on, or what inquiry as to
his sanity would scorchingly be made, but Suzanna's eager voice impelled
him to stop. Mr. Massey leaned over the side of the carriage.

"I never dreamed you'd ride by our picnic," said Suzanna, all excited.
"We've got my mother here and our baby."

"Well, well," said the Eagle Man. "And how are you, little girl?"

"I'm awfully well," returned Suzanna. "But today was cleaning day at
home and we all started out wrong; the baby kept mother awake last night
and Maizie hated her oatmeal with the syrup in the middle and Peter
cried hard because he couldn't see his ears, and never in all his life
can see his ears."

She paused tragically. "Never in all his life--and neither can you, or
anybody."

"What a terrible loss, for sure," said the Eagle Man, after a look
darted at his coachman's imperturbable back. "And what did _you_ cry
about?"

She stared at him in horror. "I never cry," she said. "I mean I never
let the tears fall down my face. I cry in my heart sometimes, but never
out loud, on top. But I felt funny this morning because I wished we
didn't have to wash on Monday, and iron on Tuesday, and clean on
Wednesday, and bake on Thursday, and mend on Friday, and clean again on
Saturday."

"Well, ask your mother to wash on _Saturday_," the Eagle Man suggested
easily.

"Oh, I don't think mother would," Suzanna cried, in a little horror
herself at that idea. "She's awful set about washing on Monday. Still
I'll ask her if you say so, Eagle Man, because Saturday is kind of a wet
day anyhow. You see Saturday is just the shape of a big, immense, round
ocean. Shall I bring my mother over here to look at you?" suddenly
recalling the conventions.

"I don't think I'm fit to look at this morning," the Eagle Man
muttered.

"Oh, I think you are," said Suzanna, earnestly. "I like your shiny shoes
and your very high collar. I know mother would like you, too."

The Eagle Man looked down at his shiny shoes, hesitated and was lost. He
opened the carriage door, seized his cane and struggled to the ground.
"Now, let's see your wonderful family," he said to Suzanna, as he
hobbled forward toward the little group under the trees.

Suzanna looked up at him. "Oh, you're the lame and the halt, too! We
took Mabel along on our picnic because her eyes don't match, you know.
They don't seem to work together. We _are_ obeying the Bible today,
aren't we?"

Old John Massey did not answer, since he was intent upon covering the
ground with as little wear and tear on his nerves as possible, and so in
silence they walked till they reached Mrs. Procter, still leaning
against the tree, but now holding the baby in her arms.

Maizie, Mabel, and Peter all looked with vivid interest at the newcomer.

"Mother," began Suzanna, "this is the gentleman I told you about. He's
John Massey; you've seen him on Main Street. _He loves to be
comfortable._ And he doesn't work during the day, either, but he sits in
a chair and shouts at a little man, and the little man hops mighty
quick, I can tell you."

Mrs. Procter's face went crimson. "How do you do?" she said. She did not
meet his keen eyes.

"How do you do, madam," the Eagle Man responded. "Out for an airing with
your family?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Procter. "The children were all in a bad humor this
morning and so we thought we'd have a picnic."

"Oh, no, mother," said Maizie earnestly, "we weren't in a bad humor. We
just didn't like things at home."

"Well, we'll put it that way," smiled her mother, "and so Suzanna
suggested a picnic." Mrs. Procter attempted to rise.

"Stay where you are, madam," said the Eagle Man. Mrs. Procter sank back
against the tree.

"You sit down, too, Eagle Man," said Suzanna cordially. "We've got
another shawl. Here it is." She spread it down on the ground and the
Eagle Man quite gladly accepted the invitation, though his face whitened
in the downward process of reaching the shawl.

"Well, madam," he began again, "most people can't afford big families
these days."

Mrs. Procter smiled, but did not answer. Suzanna, sensing a criticism,
spoke quickly.

"Mother can't afford them either, but she's not asked anything about it.
The doctor who has charge of giving out babies stops at our gate often
and looks into mother's eyes. Then he knows she'd be awful sweet to a
little baby and so next time he gets around he brings one to us. Maybe
one that no one else will have."

"I see," said the Eagle Man. He turned to Mrs. Procter. "Your daughter
is very apt with explanations."

Mrs. Procter smiled.

"Her explanations," he continued, "are a trifle more honest than the
ones I often hear."

Another little silence. The Eagle Man appeared to be thinking deeply.
First he cast a glance out into the road to where his capacious vehicle
stood, then he looked over at Mrs. Procter.

"I wonder, madam," he said, "if you and your family would do me the
honor to drive with me."

Suzanna's eyes grew like stars, Maizie wrung her hands in a very
eloquence of prayer as she awaited her mother's answer; Peter just
stared, speech stricken from him; Mabel turned in her toes in her agony.
The baby only was unconcerned. Finally Mrs. Procter answered:

"We'll be very glad to, I'm sure, Mr. Massey." And in less time than it
takes to tell, Mrs. Procter, the baby on her knees, sat beside Mr.
Massey in the carriage, while the three little girls sat on a seat
facing Mrs. Procter, a seat that could at will be let down or pushed
back. Peter, to his everlasting delight, sat beside the coachman.

"Out into the country, Robert," said Mr. Massey to his coachman, and so
away they started at a leisurely pace, since the complacent horses
refused any other. Sometimes vagrant chickens wandered into the road,
exhibiting a daring that enthralled Peter. His opinion of chickens rose
when, the fat horses almost upon their tail feathers, they disdainfully
moved off.

"We couldn't run one down, I suppose," he asked Robert, hopefully. "Just
take a feather off, you know, to learn 'em a lesson."

"I scared a pair of 'em good and proper, once," returned Robert, who had
been, known to coddle an ailing worm, but at the moment he was just a
little boy with Peter, in very proper high spirits. And while braggingly
he went on talking to his delighted listener, the rest of the party were
silently, but with keen enjoyment, watching the passing country side. It
was a ride to be long remembered; the smooth roads wound alluringly
away, Suzanna wondered, to what beautiful hidden country. The breezes
fanned their cheeks with delicate, fragrant breath; the birds sang
overhead, or flew gaily about, adding harmony and color to the
atmosphere. And yet, to Suzanna's horror the baby, apparently quite
insensible to all the beauty and totally oblivious of the gratitude due
the Eagle Man, soon fell fast asleep, engagingly sucking his fat thumb.

"He's not very old," whispered Suzanna to her host; "and he doesn't know
he must be truly thankful to you."

"Well, let him rest comfortably," said the Eagle Man, and he moved in
such a way that the baby's head rested against his knee.

"There, that's better," he said to Mrs. Procter. "I didn't suppose you
wanted its neck to be broken," he ended gruffly.

"You can't talk that way to mother," said Suzanna, very gently. "She's
not used to it, you see, and she might think you meant it, though I know
you better. Father, when he isn't thinking of his invention, speaks very
kindly and sometimes he says, 'Are you tired, Little Woman?'"

Mrs. Procter attempted to speak, but again the Eagle Man stopped
her--very gently, for him.

"It's all right," he said. "It's rather interesting to find someone, if
only a child, who's not afraid to be absolutely sincere."

They came to a small hill where Robert stopped his horses. The breezes
had gone whispering away and stillness was upon all. Soon the birds
ceased their calls; over in the west the clouds were soft delicate folds
of bronze; and even as one looked they broke into bars of distinct
color, orange, purple, coral. An opal sunset.

"Oh, how beautiful!" cried Mrs. Procter.

"A daily incident," returned the Eagle Man, but he, too, gazed at the
glowing sky.

"And now, I suppose we must return," he said at length, and so Robert
turned his horses upon the homeward journey.

It was nearly dusk when, after leaving Mabel with her mother, the little
cottage came into sight, and then Mrs. Procter said to the Eagle Man:
"This has been one of the happiest days of my life. I thank you for
helping to make it so."

"That's very kind of you to say so," the Eagle Man answered in his usual
gruff voice.

They reached the gate and leaning upon it was Mr. Procter. He stared his
amazement at sight of his family returning in such state.

"Father, we had a picnic," called Maizie, springing from the carriage.

"And once I drove," cried Peter, almost falling from his seat, "and
scared a chicken."

"We've had the grandest day, father," finished Suzanna, running to him.
"We went on a picnic and we took the lame and halt along, Mabel and the
Eagle Man, and they had a good time, too."

"And twice today, father," said Maizie, taking her father's hand, "I
remembered Who smiled at me."

"Who smiled at you?" asked the Eagle Man, who heard everything, it
seemed.

"The Man with the halo, Jesus, you know," Maizie answered reverently.
"When first I was a baby on this earth He came to smile at me and to
wake me up. Suzanna told me so."

Silence. Then the Eagle Man turned to Mr. Procter. "Glad to have met
your family, sir."

"Glad you've had the opportunity," said Mr. Procter.

"You sold a quantity of nails to me a few weeks ago, good nails, too;
not underweight either, I noticed," said the Eagle Man at last. "Your
little girl tells me you are an inventor."

"Yes, I'm working on a machine," Mr. Procter flushed. "It is nearly
finished. That is, sometimes I think so; other times completion seems
far away."

The Eagle Man paused. "I'd be interested in seeing your invention," he
said, and stopped. Yet there was promise, too, in his voice, in his
eyes.

Again the color rushed to Mr. Procter's face. He stared unbelievingly at
the other, and then said: "I'll be glad any time to show my machine; to
tell you all about it--" He hesitated. "There'd be a great chance for
you, should you become interested in it."

"Well, if that's the case, expect me any time. Good-bye."

Suzanna spoke cordially: "You must come and see us very often," she said
warmly, "only not on Tuesday nights, if you're coming to supper, because
we have stew then made from the last of Sunday's roast."

"I'll remember," said the Eagle Man gravely, as he gave the signal to
Robert to drive away.

The little family went down through the yard and on to the house.

"I must hurry with your supper," said Mrs. Procter. "I'm sorry you were
kept waiting." She felt rested enough not to dread preparing the meal.

"Don't hurry, I found some crackers," said Mr. Procter, and added, "Why,
I've not seen you look so happy in many a long day."

"Well, I really must thank Suzanna," said Mrs. Procter. "She insisted
upon a picnic because the day started wrong. The house is all upset
though," she finished, as they went into the kitchen.

"The house?" he returned, gazing vaguely about. "It looks all right to
me. Suppose, Jane, he should really be won over to believe in the
machine. Oh, I never hoped I could interest him!"

"It may be the beginning of a great day," she answered. He put his arm
about her.

"What should I do without you to encourage, to help," he said.

"That's my privilege," she said softly.

Bending, he kissed her.



BOOK II



CHAPTER XI

THE INDIAN DRILL


Mid September and school days.

"I like my new teacher, that's why I'm happy," Suzanna told her mother
at the end of the first school day.

"I saw her," said Maizie, who was a pupil at public school for the
second year. "She holds her arm funny."

Suzanna flushed darkly. "She's beautiful," she averred; "she's my
teacher."

"But didn't you see her arm?"

"No," said Suzanna, "I did not."

Maizie cried out triumphantly: "Well, that's the first time you didn't
see something I saw."

Suzanna did not answer. She could not voice her emotions.

"Well, I don't want you or anyone in the whole world even to notice Miss
Smithson's arm," she flung out, and so Maizie was silenced.

Suzanna glanced through the window.

"Why there's father," cried Suzanna; "I wonder why he's coming home so
early?"

Mr. Procter came hurriedly down the path, pushed open the front door,
and with no word sprang up the stairs. To the attic, the children knew.

"He must have thought of something to do to The Machine," said Maizie.

"Yes," Suzanna answered; "whenever he has that still look on his face he
has a new idea."

"Someone must be taking his place at the store," said Mrs. Procter. "I'm
glad the baby's asleep. Be very quiet, children. Father may have a
splendid thought--why there, he's coming downstairs again."

He entered the kitchen at once, his face aglow.

"Just the turn of a screw!" he exclaimed. He spoke directly to his wife.
"Oh, my dear, it's coming on. Nearly ready to show to John Massey."

"Oh, I am happy for you," she cried.

He spoke to Suzanna and Maizie: "Would you chicks like to take a walk
down town with me?" He fumbled in his pocket. "Here's a ticket good for
ten dishes of ice cream." He held up a small card.

"Oh, daddy, where did you get it?" cried Maizie.

"From Raymond Cunningham, leading druggist," he announced slowly. "His
soda fountain was out of order and I fixed it for him. I didn't want
money for a small act of kindness, so he issued this ticket to me."

The children were delighted. Mrs. Procter smiled too. In generosity of
spirit, she forbore to point out to her husband the fact that Raymond
Cunningham was known from one end of the town to the other as one who
would "skin a gnat for its teeth."

Without doubt the man now beaming upon his little daughters had saved
the druggist a bill of ten dollars for which he had issued a ticket
worth sixty cents!

But she simply smiled, and going to her husband she brushed an imaginary
dust speck from his coat. He caught her hand.

"Wait, Dear One, till the invention is ready," he said; "all shall give
homage to my wife."

She did not answer him in words, but he seemed satisfied with the
silence. Such moments of love, of high hope, were beautiful to both.

The little group started away for their trip to town.

Just as they reached the drug store, Suzanna pulled her father's sleeve.
She was all excitement.

"See, daddy," she cried, "that tall lady dressed in black standing near
the lamp post is Miss Smithson, my new teacher."

"Well, let's go and say a word to her," suggested Mr. Procter, easily.

"Oh, father, I don't think she talks outside of school," said Suzanna,
her voice falling. She fell into prim step as they neared Miss Smithson.

Miss Smithson, seeing Suzanna, smiled.

"This is my father," said Suzanna proudly.

"I should know that at once by the close resemblance," returned Miss
Smithson.

"Yes, Suzanna and I do look alike," said Mr. Procter, "and I think I've
sold tacks to you." He rarely failed to speak of his work. He was so
exalted a being, Suzanna thought glowingly, that he lifted his daily
labor to the dignity of a fine art. People must think so too, because
they always looked closer at him when he spoke of weighing nails, or
wrapping wringers and washboards.

"We were going on to the drug store for some ice cream. Will you join
us?" asked Mr. Procter of Miss Smithson.

Suzanna's face went white as she waited Miss Smithson's answer.
Teachers, being purely ethereal she felt, never descended to the
discussion of materialities. She wondered at her father's overlooking
this truth.

But, "Thank you," said the teacher, very calmly.

So together they all entered the corner drug store, Suzanna still very
quiet. Mr. Procter found a table large enough to accommodate them all.
Suzanna sat next to Maizie.

"I'm going to have a chocolate ice cream soda," whispered Maizie.

"No, you can't, Maizie," Suzanna returned in an agony; "take lemon ice
cream soda."

"But I don't like it."

"Well, that doesn't matter, Maizie. Chocolate is too dark; and besides
you smear it all over your lips and it looks dreadful; pale lemon ice
cream soda is sweet looking. We must do something to honor Miss
Smithson, who's here just because she wouldn't hurt father's feelings."

But Maizie looked belligerent.

Suzanna's temper threatened to flame forth. With a mighty effort she
controlled it. She turned to her father. "Father, don't you think Maizie
had better have lemon ice cream soda?" she asked.

"Anything she wants; anything she wants," Mr. Procter answered and not
lowering his voice, even in Miss Smithson's presence: "What do you think
you'll have, Suzanna?"

"I'll have a lemon ice cream soda," said Suzanna primly. And she had
difficulty in restraining her tears when Maizie deliberately gave her
command for chocolate ice cream soda. When the orders came Suzanna
scarcely touched her glass. Covertly she watched Miss Smithson; she saw,
how daintily that lady ate her plain vanilla ice cream; perhaps, after
all, even teachers found it necessary to find some subsistence and Miss
Smithson had hit upon ice cream as the most aesthetic. At least Suzanna
was forced to believe this in her endeavor to keep intact her ideal of
Miss Smithson.

Then Miss Smithson said in a pleasant, every-day voice:

"I'm glad to have this opportunity, Mr. Procter, of asking you if
Suzanna may take part in an Indian Drill I expect to give at school next
month."

"Why, I can see no reason against her taking part," said Mr. Procter.
"You would enjoy such an occasion, would you not, Suzanna?"

"She will need an outfit," Miss Smithson went on, treading delicately,
since in part she guessed the state of the Procter finances and she
wished to be very sure before implicating Suzanna in any embarrassing
situation, "including dancing slippers, though I may be able to rent the
Indian costumes from a masquerader in the city, and then the cost will
be lessened."

"That will be all right," said Mr. Procter immediately. "Just tell us
the clothes she will need and her mother will get them."

"That's very nice," said Miss Smithson, though she felt still a little
uneasy.

"When will the affair take place?" Mr. Procter asked.

"On the fifteenth of October. We have ample time for rehearsals."

A little later Miss Smithson shook hands with Suzanna's father,
murmuring something conventional about his being fortunate in the
possession of such an interesting family. Then she was gone.

The children, bidding father good-bye, hastened on home. They burst into
the house, anxious to tell mother all about the meeting with Miss
Smithson.

Mrs. Procter listened interestedly. "And father said I might take part
in the Indian Drill," said Suzanna. "I shall have to have an outfit
perhaps and dancing shoes."

"What did father say about that?" asked Mrs. Procter, an anxious little
frown growing between her eyes.

"He said you would get them for me," Suzanna returned. She, too, looked
a little anxiously at her mother. "But Miss Smithson said perhaps she
could hire the Indian costumes."

Mrs. Procter's expression lightened.

"Well, perhaps she can," she said.

"And if she can't, mother?" Suzanna breathlessly awaited the answer.

"Well, we'll manage some way."

And Suzanna was satisfied.

A week later Mr. Procter returned home, carrying a mysterious looking
parcel.

"For you, Suzanna," he said, his eyes sparkling. "But let's not open it
until after supper."

Suzanna reluctantly put the package to one side. That supper would never
end that evening she had a firm conviction.

And yet the end was reached, and she was opening the package, attended
by the entire family. At last her eager eyes swept the contents, and her
little beating heart for the moment palpitated strangely in her throat,
for there lay a pair of shoes.

"Shoes," said Mr. Procter, "for you to wear in the Indian Drill. I saw
them thrown out in a little booth when I went into Lane's shoe shop for
a piece of leather to be made into washers. They really were marked at
so ridiculously low a figure that I thought at once we could surely
afford them for Suzanna. They are, I should judge, the very thing for
the Indian Drill."

To all of which Suzanna listened gravely. Her heart had gone back to its
normal rhythm, but her eyes could not leave the atrocities lying before
her. Truly, they were of fine leather, but with their high French heels,
and flat gilt buttons, they might have been in style when Suzanna's
mother was a very little girl, and, to be really candid, they would have
lain under the anathema of being out of date even then. But over and
beyond the painful vintage of the shoes was the fact that Miss Smithson
had announced that all the girls taking part in the Indian Drill should
wear the same kind of shoes. She had gone farther and told the children
that the right kind of shoes could be obtained at Bryson's for a dollar
and forty-eight cents a pair, a really reduced price because fourteen
pairs were to be purchased. She had finished by giving the children the
number to be called for, "A-14116." Suzanna knew the number well; she
had repeated it mentally over and over again.

Finally Suzanna found her voice. "They're very nice, daddy," she said.

"Yes, they are very nice," he said. "See, you can turn them up. They're
as soft as a kid glove."

"Well, since you've bought the shoes," said Mrs. Procter, "and probably
at a very reasonable figure--" she paused, and Mr. Procter finished:

"Yes, they were only forty-eight cents, a remarkable bargain, I think."

"Remarkable," said Mrs. Procter, picking them up. "Why, I believe
they're a handmade shoe! Well," she went on, "since the shoes are
accounted for, I think if I have to I can quite easily manage the rest
of the outfit."

Suzanna's heart sank lower. She only wondered miserably if her mother,
seeing a piece of inexpensive goods of almost any shade, and finding a
pattern easy to manage, would make up what she thought would do quite
well for the Indian Drill costume. Then her thoughts returned to the
shoes. Perhaps after all they wouldn't fit! She was enabled by that
emancipating thought to turn a happier face to her father and again to
thank him.

But alas, the shoes fitted perfectly.

"I think," said Suzanna desperately, "that perhaps they're a little bit
too small--narrow, I mean."

"Do they hurt you?" asked her mother.

Suzanna had to confess that they didn't hurt.

"They certainly make your foot look very nice and slender," said her
father.

Well, Suzanna thought miserably, she should have to wear them, and in
that belief all interest in the Indian Drill left her. She simply
couldn't, she felt, take her lead on the eventful day wearing those
shoes. Every eye in the audience, she knew, would be fixed upon them, so
different from those of the other girls, so terribly old-fashioned, as
instinctively she sensed them to be.

Mrs. Procter carefully wrapped the bargains in the original tissue
paper. She was happy in the thought that her little daughter was
provided with a pretty and appropriate pair of dancing shoes.

But it was very perfunctorily that Suzanna went through the ensuing
rehearsals at school. Her spirits were not lifted even when Miss
Smithson announced that the costumes were to be obtained through a
masquerader at the small cost of twenty-five cents for each pupil. But
at length, the child's natural persevering force had its way, and she
set her mind to studying the question of how to avoid wearing the
unsuitable shoes and still preserve her father's confidence in his own
good judgment. Usually she asked no help, working alone on the problems
which assailed her, but suddenly the thought of her friend Drusilla came
to her. She would ask Drusilla what she thought about the matter.



CHAPTER XII

DRUSILLA'S REMINISCENCES


One afternoon immediately after school, Suzanna, taking Maizie with her,
went to call on Drusilla. Twice since her first visit in July she had
gone to the little home, but on both occasions Drusilla had been ill,
unable to see anyone. But today the pleasant faced maid admitted the
children.

"Go right up to the attic," she said. "Mrs. Bartlett is there looking
over some old trunks."

In the attic, a tiny place with slanting roof and unfinished walls, the
children found Mrs. Bartlett, sitting on the floor beside a huge,
overflowing trunk. Old-fashioned dresses, high-heeled satin slippers,
dancing programs, painted fans, were all heaped together.

"We've come to see you, Drusilla," said Suzanna at once. "I've been
twice before, but you didn't know it. This is my sister, Maizie. I've
got a very important question to ask you."

Drusilla rose from the floor. "I'm glad to see you both. I've often
thought of you, Suzanna. Close the lid of that trunk and sit on it and
your little sister Maizie can sit in that old easy chair in the corner.
That is, if you want to stay up here in the attic."

Suzanna looked about her. The attic was rather sad-looking, she thought,
not full of its own importance as the one at home, but still, very
interesting. Old portraits hung on the slanting walls. In corners were
piles of old furniture looking strangely lifelike in the shadows.

"We'd rather stay up here, Drusilla," she said. "And we'll stay a long
time with you, if you like."

"Very good," said Drusilla. She drew forth a low rocker and seated
herself.

Suzanna suddenly remembered her manners. "Perhaps we shouldn't have come
today anyway," she said. "You were busy with your trunk when we came
up."

"I was just looking over some old dresses and relics I've kept for many
years," said Drusilla. "There's a dress in there," she said, "that I
wore when as a young girl I lived with my parents way back across the
ocean."

"A big city?" asked Maizie. "Not like Anchorville?"

"A big city," returned Drusilla. "You see that glass case in the corner?
Go and look at it."

Suzanna and Maizie sprang up and went to the dusky corner. On a table
stood the glass case, and under it was an apple, a pear, a bunch of
grapes, and a banana, all made of wax.

"That came from the city across the water," said Drusilla. "It was given
to my grandmother by our old herb woman."

The children left the wax fruit and went and stood quite close to
Drusilla. "What's an old herb woman?" asked Maizie, interestedly.

"Why, she was our doctor in those days. She had an old shop buried away
in a part of the town that we reached by crossing a canal. Many is the
time my grandmother took me to that old shop with its rows of dried
herbs hanging from the ceiling; with its old worn corners, and its
barrel of white cocoanut oil standing near the door. Oh, I loved that
place. I loved the smell of the herbs and I loved the little old woman
who could brew teas from her herbs that would cure any ailment in the
world, I thought. And then right next to the old herb shop was a pawn
shop with three tarnished golden balls above the door."

"A pawn shop?" The children wanted to know the meaning of that kind of
shop.

"A shop," said Drusilla, warming to her keen audience, "to which you
could bring anything, from a worn out dress to a piece of jewelry, and
get money for it and a ticket. And if you wanted the dress or the
jewelry back again, then you brought the ticket and the money and a
little interest.

"The old pawn shop was a landmark. It had stood next to the herb shop,
my grandmother told me, for a hundred years; during all these years
owned by the same family. When I was a little girl a woman kept the
shop. She was very tall, very thin, with quantities of black hair
braided and wound round and round her head. She wore always a Paisley
shawl of faded colors, and her hair coiled as it was made me think
always of a crown.

"The shop was long and narrow and full of wonderful rare, old
curios--old violins, cameos, and uncut stones. I was allowed to go all
over the shop; to open quaint cases, to go upstairs and out upon an old
gallery and to lift from their drawers silken crapes, and to find,
buried away, whispering sea-shells and crystal bottles, and irregular
pieces of blue-veined marble and alabaster. Oh, the happy, thrilling
hours I spent in that place! My grandmother told me that scholars came
from every part of the country to see this tucked-away, historic old
pawn shop."

Drusilla paused, but in a moment to the children's relief she went on:
"Then on a quite busy street, back this side of the canal, the side we
lived on, was a large place called an ovenry. And there we sent our
bread to be baked."

The children's eyes widened.

"Yes," went on Drusilla, "we put our dough to rise at home, made it into
little loaves, pricked our initial--or some other distinguishing
mark--on top when it lay in its pans, and then a big red-faced man with
a wagon drawn by a donkey called for our bread. Once my grandmother let
me ride with him, and I stayed all afternoon in his ovenry, though the
fire from the big ovens made it uncomfortably hot. I watched him and his
helpers put the pans of bread on big shovels and heave them into yawning
caves of flames. When they were finished, another red-faced man
delivered them baked brown, and smoking, to the customers. We paid a
penny a loaf for having our bread baked."

"Oh, and that saved you buying so much coal, didn't it?" asked Maizie.
"I wish we had an ovenry in Anchorville."

"Yes," said Drusilla, "I think, myself, some of these old-fashioned
ideas were economical."

"There isn't a pawn shop anywhere near, is there?" asked Suzanna. She
was thinking about the shoes and what a blessing it would be to dispose
of them.

"I don't believe so," Drusilla answered. "Anyway, there couldn't be
another like that wonderful shop of my youth."

There ensued a silence. Suddenly leaning forward, Suzanna began very
earnestly:

"Drusilla, I have a very important question to ask you. Which would you
rather do, be honest or suffer?"

"Be honest or suffer?" repeated Drusilla. "I don't quite understand."

"Well, you see, it's this way," said Suzanna. "Now, Maizie, I see you're
listening with your eyes wide open, and I want to tell you now that you
mustn't say anything to father of what I'm going to tell Drusilla."
Having delivered this ultimatum, she went on and told of the Indian
Drill and of the costumes, and then of her father's recent purchase of
the shoes. "I can't tell daddy that the shoes would be different from
everybody's else," she said, "because it will hurt his feelings. But,
oh, Drusilla! My heart jumps into my throat when I think of wearing
those shoes so different from everyone else's."

"The shoes cost forty-eight cents," elaborated Maizie, "and so you can
see Suzanna has to wear them whether she likes them or not."

"Yes," said Suzanna, "forty-eight cents is very near to half a dollar
and we can't afford to lose that. I thought, Drusilla, that you could
give me some advice. That's all I want, just that you tell me which is
best, to be honest or to suffer. You told me once about the little
silver chain and that has helped me a lot."

Drusilla looked puzzled. "The silver chain?" she asked.

"Yes, don't you remember that day you were queen and told me about the
chain?" asked Suzanna.

In a second a remarkable change came over the old lady. She rose to her
feet. Then she turned to Suzanna, her shoulders straight and her head
held high.

"My crown," she demanded. "Is that to be lifted from me in these the
full years of my queenhood?"

"I've never seen you with a crown on," said Suzanna.

"Enough, serf!" cried the queen haughtily. "Procure me my crown."
Suzanna looked about her. An old dried-up Christmas wreath hanging on a
rafter attracted her attention. Quickly she procured it and held it out
to Drusilla. "Here is your crown, Queen," she said. And then, her voice
changing, she said: "You'd better let me put it on, Drusilla, it's
liable to crumble if you're not careful. Lower your head, please."

The old lady did so and Suzanna placed the crown upon the silver hair.

"Now," said the old lady, "if you have sought me to gain advice, repeat
your question, that I may answer in a manner worthy my exalted station."

"Well," said Suzanna for the third time, "I want to know whether it's
best to be honest or to suffer?"

"What shall be your course if you are honest?" asked the queen.

Suzanna pondered. "I think I'll tell daddy, perhaps tonight," she said
at last, "that to wear the shoes will hurt my feelings dreadfully; that
I tremble when I think of being the only girl in the drill without low
shoes with two straps. Something like moccasins. If I tell daddy this,
then I'll be honest."

"And if you decide to suffer?"

"Then I'll wear the shoes at the drill and from the time I put them on
till the drill is over, I'll be full of pain. I'll know that everybody
will be just looking at my feet, and I'll not enjoy the dance one bit."

The queen knit her brows. Then her answer came: "Be not honest in the
way you describe, neither suffer."

"But, Drusilla," Suzanna objected, "I don't understand."

"_And can you not be brave?_" asked the queen with a note of scorn in
her voice. "Is it left to one who feels the time approaching when she
will be deposed from her throne and all she holds dear, alone to have
courage?" She looked straight into Suzanna's dark eyes. "Your father
knows joy in thinking he has given you your heart's desire. Why, then,
hurt him by telling him that the shoes are not your desire? Why not,
with head held high, lead the dance you speak of, and forget shoes, and
remember only the movement of the dance, the lilt of the music?"

"Is that bravery?" asked Suzanna.

"The greatest bravery," returned the queen, "will be to say to yourself,
'Am I so poor a maid that I cannot by the very beauty of my dancing keep
the eyes of the watchers lifted clear above my shoes? For shoes, what
are shoes? Leather and wood. Inanimate, unthinking _stuff_! They are not
worth one heart pang, one moment of misery to me or mine. But _I, I am
alive_. I can see and think and understand. I can go so joyously through
the mazes of the dance that the watchers may forget their sordid
cares.'"

Suzanna, listening, was carried away. She cried with eager response:
"Why the night of the Indian Drill I can believe I am a fairy, dancing
over snow-topped mountains, and singing, flying clear up into the
clouds!"

"You might fall, Suzanna," said Maizie, "you know you haven't wings."

But on this occasion Suzanna was not to be recalled to earth, and
besides in her queen's interested, understanding face, she felt a quick
fellowship to the spirit that dwelt within her.

And then breaking harshly into the wonder of this moment came the
tinkle, tinkle of the electric bell.

"Oh," cried Maizie, "someone is coming."

"I shall brook no intruders," cried the queen.

"No matter who it is?" asked Suzanna.

"No matter who it is. I desire to be alone with my court. However, you
can peep over the banisters and see who dares come thus upon us."

Suzanna went to the top of the stairs. The maid was ushering in a lady
and a boy.

"Go right upstairs," Suzanna heard the maid say. "Mrs. Bartlett's in
the attic with two of the Procter children."

The visitors appeared at the top of the stairs and paused to glance in.

The lady was beautifully dressed, quite exquisitely, from the dainty
little toque upon her haughty head to her small gray cloth shoes. Her
eyes, flashing from pansy shades to lightest blue, were cold. Her white
skin seemed to hold no possibility of color. Yet, even as she stood, the
milk of it turned to rose when Drusilla gazed at her with no warmth of
recognition in her glance.

The boy, about twelve, Suzanna surmised correctly, stood forward. There
was some of his mother's haughtiness in his bearing, a great deal of her
beauty. But added to both, a rare, high look as though always he were
seeking what lay beyond his grasp, and perhaps his comprehension. He
seemed altogether like a child whose emotional values did not stand
clear. He gazed half prayerfully at his grandmother, as though asking
and bestowing at the same time.

Breaking into the embarrassing silence, Suzanna spoke:

"Drusilla has her crown on," she said. "You see, she's a queen now, and
she's been answering some questions of mine."

The lady in the doorway looked at Suzanna meditatively. Then she spoke
directly to Drusilla.

"May I come in, mother?" she asked. "You see I've brought Graham."

Drusilla began: "Court was in session. However, I shall be glad to have
you remain." The boy, who had remained quiet, now spoke.

"Oh, bully, mother; grandmother's playing again. I want to stay."

But his mother put out a detaining hand as he attempted to enter the
attic.

"No--we can't stay now--" She spoke directly again to Drusilla. "We'll
come again--when you are more--yourself."

In a moment she was gone down the stairs, leaving after her a soft
fragrance. The boy obediently followed her. In the hall below she
encountered the maid. She whispered a few hurried words before taking
her departure.

The maid went up immediately into the attic.

Drusilla was again talking eloquently while Suzanna and Maizie stood
listening spellbound.

"I think," said the maid, breaking in quietly but firmly, "that you
little girls had better go home now. Mrs. Bartlett is tired and I want
her to lie down."

She approached the queen. "Come, Mrs. Bartlett," she said, "you must
rest now." She raised her hand as though to remove the crown of faded
leaves.

"What means this sacrilege?" cried the queen, stepping backward.

"She likes to wear her crown when she's a queen," said Suzanna, much
distressed.

"But she can't lie down in her crown, you know, little girl, it will
hurt her."

"Well, that's true, Drusilla," Suzanna conceded. "Will you put your head
down and I'll take the crown off very carefully and we'll put it away
for another day."

The queen obediently lowered her silver head to Suzanna. Suzanna very
carefully removed the wreath and hung it on its old nail.

"I _am_ tired," said the old lady, now in a voice that trembled a
little. "But you'll come again soon, won't you?" she asked, appealing to
Suzanna.

"Yes, just as soon as I can," said Suzanna. "Come, Maizie. Good-bye,
Drusilla, and thank you very much for helping me."

Drusilla brightened. "That's nice, to know that I can still help
someone," she said.



CHAPTER XIII

MRS. GRAHAM WOODS BARTLETT


The great house stood on a hilltop quite two miles from the station, and
cut into the immense iron door standing guard to the grounds was the
name "Bartlett Villa."

Here for a small part of the year the Graham Woods Bartletts lived. The
family consisted of mother, father, and son, named for his father. In
the city another house as large and more palatial received the family
when they tired of the country home.

Mr. Graham Woods Bartlett held large interests in the Massey Steel
Mills. That he might be on the ground part of the time he had built
Bartlett Villa. In his heart he loved the small town. It was like a
retreat to him to come back to its quiet after feverish hours spent in
the crowded city. Here he seemed to recall in part a few of his vanished
dreams--those dreams so bright, so well-nigh impossible of fulfillment,
which as a young man fresh from college he had cherished. While young,
he met and loved the girl he married. That she had visions he perfectly
believed. That her visions were unworthy no power then could have made
him believe. She came from an impecunious family whose lineage was older
and greater than his. How she could have thought the high-browed,
sensitive-faced young man the one who could fulfill her grasping desires
is not to be fathomed. She had believed so, and he did bring to pass all
her aspirations. That in doing so he killed his finest ideals mattered
not.

Young Graham, too, was always glad when the time came for a stay at
Bartlett Villa in Anchorville. He loved the big upstanding elms; loved
the many gardens, and the flaunting flowers. He loved the two people who
belonged properly in the environs of Bartlett Villa--old Nancy, who had
been his mother's nurse and his own, and David, the gardener, with his
little daughter Daphne.

Nancy, old, with hard rosy cheeks, was still so real. She worked and
sang, loved and sometimes resented on behalf of those whom she served.
Often, when quite a little boy, Graham would seek her in the old nursery
of the city home and climb into her lap, rest his curly head against her
loving breast, and sometimes contentedly fall asleep.

He never so cuddled with his mother, no matter how fervent the longings
that filled his heart. She was always finely dressed; and her eyes were
never for him alone. They were fixed on some distant and glittering
goal, quite beyond the boy's understanding.

Then there was David, big of stature, big of mind. David, given over to
many long, silent periods, because David had lost a loved and cherished
one.

There were times when David would take Graham with him on long rambles,
and then he would talk. He knew everything about the birds, their
habits, their peculiarities, their fears, and their courage. He put into
Graham a great love for the little creatures. Often together near a nest
they would stand, and, scarce breathing, watch the first lesson given by
a mother bird to a frightened young one.

"She's greater, that mother, than some humans," David said once, when
they were on their way home.

"Why?" asked Graham, interestedly.

"Well," said David, slowly, "we most of us hold on too long when it's
time for those we love to try their wings."

"You wouldn't hold on, would you, David?" asked Graham, his boyish eyes
upturned in perfect faith to his friend.

"I might, Graham; human nature is weak and wants always its own."

Upon reaching home Graham would ask: "Will you have time to go riding
this afternoon, David?"

And David would answer: "Perhaps, my lad, if there's not too much work
in the gardens."

Once Graham asked: "Why do you do such work, David? You could be in the
city making lots of money." Thus Graham, who through heritage had been
innoculated with that thought, that money meant everything.

And David had turned with a swift gesture: "Why should I mistreat my
spirit, kill my brightest self trying for money, young Graham? Here
among my flowers, working in the soil, I find time to think."

Graham looked strangely at David. Time to think! On what? Well he knew
that David would tell him some day, and then he would weigh in his own
mind the question of whether it were wise to work hard at something that
took all your time in order to make lots of money; or to work at
something that while you worked gave you time to think and grow.

David had an uncanny way of knowing another's thoughts. "It's not
altogether what you work at, lad," he said, "it's what your ideals of
life are." And turning, he left Graham to ponder.

On the day that he and his mother had paid the visit to his grandmother
in the attic, the boy's mind was deeply concerned with the scene he had
witnessed in his grandmother's attic. He envied the Procter children,
since there grew in his imagination the treasure a grandmother could be.
She probably knew "bully" stories of long-ago days. Certainly as she
stood, crowned, she seemed the best sort of a playfellow, since she
could pretend as well as any child.

His mother drove him home and then went to pay a call in a near town. He
had gone directly to his own room. A telegrapher's outfit, in which he
was then greatly interested, needed his attention. He was anxious to
resume work on it; still his undermind, even as he drew forth the
machine and began to work, was busy.

Suddenly he remembered the time last year when his mother had made
elaborate preparations for an extended sojourn in the South. They were
then in their city home. He had ardently wished that she would decide to
take him with her, but the thought evidently did not occur to her. He
had said good-bye to her with a strange, empty feeling at his heart.

And then quite unexpectedly she had returned, her contemplated stay cut
enchantingly short. She had talked with him, taken long walks with him,
even accompanied him to several ball games.

For a month she had been a friend, a good friend interested in boyish
sports, in active games, and once in an open moment she had asked him if
he had ever been lonely.

He answered, not wishing to hurt her: "Sometimes, when you stayed for
months in Italy. But I was only a very small boy then. Father had to be
away most of the time too, and the tutor you got for me wouldn't allow
me to talk with other children until he knew all about where their
fathers and mothers came from and how much money they had."

She was touched. She meant then to see that her boy should have more of
the normal boy life of fun and roughness.

But gradually her old desire for social leadership pressed in on her.
And it took all her time and energy to dress, to entertain, to outdo her
social rivals. And Graham went his own way again, only wishing that it
was not necessary for both father and mother to be so occupied with
outside interests that they had little time for their one child.

After a time he left his machine to look out of the window, and as he
stood, he saw his mother. She had left her small runabout, and David was
leading the horse to the stables.

He saw her enter the house. In a moment he heard her talking in her
sweet voice to one of the servants before she mounted the stairs to her
own room. She would then, Graham knew, be in the hands of her maid for a
long time, since she was giving a formal dinner party that evening.

When the shadows were lengthening Graham left his room and wandered
aimlessly around the house. Finally he reached the kitchen, where he sat
for a time, watching the imported French chef's noble efforts for the
coming dinner, efforts that must result in the wide proclamation of Mrs.
Graham Woods Bartlett as an original hostess. But in the kitchen it was
made manifest that Graham's presence was not welcome. At last, feeling
this truth, he left.

The maid, coming from his mother's room and meeting him in the hall,
told him that his dinner was to be served at six in his own room. "Your
mother thought you'd like that," she finished.

Graham nodded without speaking and went on once more to his own room. He
felt lonely, dispirited. Old Nancy, to whom he might have turned, had
gone to her old home to visit some grandchildren. David, he knew, would
be very busy.

At six the boy's dinner was brought, and with the hearty appetite of
boyhood he ate. Afterwards he read a little, and then, feeling tired, he
concluded to retire. But he did not go to sleep at once. Occasionally he
heard interesting sounds from below, music from a string orchestra,
laughter of women, and the bass voices of men.

At nine o'clock he was still lying awake when he heard a little running
step outside his door. Out of an impulse he called softly, "Mother."

Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett, on her way to her private safe for a piece
of jade she wished to show one of her guests, paused at the call. Then
she pushed open Graham's door, which was slightly ajar, and went in.
Graham sat up. By the glow of a small electric light near his bed he
could plainly see his mother. She was a beautiful vision in her soft
white gown, quite untouched by any color, her hair piled high upon her
small, finely shaped head.

"Did you call me, Graham?" she asked.

"Yes," he said, "I wanted to see you all dressed."

She went quickly and sat on the edge of the bed. "Did they serve you a
nice dinner, Graham?" she asked.

He nodded. "Very nice," he answered.

"I thought you'd be asleep long ago," she said. "Otherwise I should have
looked in on you."

"I couldn't sleep," he answered. Then impulsively: "Mother, I know you
have to go downstairs again soon, but I've been thinking so much of
grandmother. Wouldn't it be possible to have her come to live here with
us? We've got such a big house, and she must be very lonely."

She drew herself a little away from him. "Perhaps I haven't explained to
you, Graham," she said, "that your grandmother is given to periods of
hallucinations. That is, she has peculiar fancies, one of them being
that she thinks herself a queen."

"Well, does it hurt if she does think she's a queen?" asked the boy.

"In this way it does. It's not pleasant to have in close proximity one
who isn't what is called just normal. I think she is much better cared
for as she is and in her own home. You'll admit it would be very
unpleasant if she lived here, and appeared before guests in one of her
unnatural moods."

"But she is lonely," persisted the boy, sticking to the one line of
thought that had remained with him all afternoon, and had aroused his
mind to dwell insistently upon his grandmother. "You don't mind, mother,
do you, then since she can't come here, if I go to see her often?" He
hesitated before continuing: "Father told me he wished I would, as he
hasn't the time to do so."

"Of course, you may go to see her, Graham, if you like. I didn't know
you cared so much."

She rose from the bed and walked away to the window, looking through its
leaded panes to where she knew lay the broad road leading out into the
country with farm houses and plowed fields. After a moment she turned to
gaze at the little lad who still sat up in his bed; who still regarded
her with wide eyes very much like her own, but holding a depth and a
promise that hers did not seem to hold.

"Perhaps it's not the proper time to tell you now, Graham," she said,
"but I think I might as well do so. I'm making arrangements to leave for
Italy some time soon."

"To be gone long, mother?" asked the boy.

"Well, for three months anyway. I met some interesting people there on
my last trip and they have invited me to pay them a prolonged visit,"
she said.

Graham did not answer at first. Then: "I suppose you'd better go
downstairs now, mother," he said.

His mother left the window. Passing the bed she once more paused and
looked down at him.

"Well, little son," she said at last, "good night. I've been up here an
outrageous time." She put her arms around his small shoulders and drew
him to her.

But for the first time in his short life she felt no response in her
child. Indeed, she recognized his withdrawal from her, more poignant in
its effect upon her because it was unconscious on his part. In that one
moment the instinct of motherhood leapt full within her, a sudden
bewildering emotion, totally new to her in its aliveness, its vividness.
And then cold truth swept in on her that by some act she had wiped from
his young heart in one moment his ideal of her.

She sank on her knees beside his bed, realizing dimly how great a crown
his love had been. After an appreciable length of time, his hand crept
out and rested a second lightly on her arm, and at the touch she raised
her head. "I've disappointed you, Graham," she said. He did not answer.
She waited, and then as he was still silent she rose. She shook her
unwonted mood from her and her face hardened into its habitual
brilliance.

"Good night, Graham," she said and went away.



CHAPTER XIV

THE STRAY DOG


Miss Smithson had had years of experience with children. She knew their
sensitiveness, their capacity for suffering through those incidents
which adults term trifles.

She had questioned Suzanna with much adroit delicacy concerning the
shoes, and had elicited the story of the father's purchase. Though she
read correctly the child's real shrinking from the thought of being the
cynosure of many amused eyes, she felt herself helpless.

That one odd pair of shoes in the company of participating children! In
imagination Miss Smithson visualized the unsuccessful efforts of their
owner to hide them, to find her place in the background. The
kind-hearted teacher really suffered in her anticipation of Suzanna's
pain.

So when the great night arrived and the music sounded the approach of
the Indian maidens, Miss Smithson, sitting in the front row beside
Suzanna's parents, kept her eyes steadfastly lowered. At length, not
hearing the expected titters from children in the audience, she found
her courage and looked up. Her eyes were immediately drawn to Suzanna's
face and rested there.

For pictured there in place of depression, self-pity, troubling
self-consciousness, she found sparkle and joy. Miss Smithson gasped in
astonishment and relief. With perfect abandon Suzanna moved through the
dance; she seemed as one quite set apart from her companions; and so she
was.

All that Drusilla had told her lived with her, inspiring her, lifting
her beyond mere mortals. She might have been frolicing upon a cloud in
her little bare feet, so far away from her consciousness was the thought
of the shoes.

The dance ended, and with flushed cheeks and heart beating happily,
Suzanna took her seat. The applause lasted a long time.

Then came a recitation and a piano solo given by a greatly embarrassed
boy, though certainly a greatly talented one. Suzanna recognizing his
anguish felt very sorry for him. She wished he had had a Drusilla to
advise him, to make him see that he was for the time greater than his
audience. That he had music in his soul. She understood now that the
greatest gift was to forget yourself and love your art so much that it
reigned supreme.

Then looking out at the people seated before her, she recognized that
they were _kind_. That they had come not to criticize, but to enjoy and
to acclaim. She felt growing within her heart a great love for all
humanity.

Her eyes sought out her father's. Just in front he sat, looking up at
her, his eyes filled with pride. She had made him happy. Her heart was
very full.

Her eyes after a time went again over the audience. And behind her
father sat a boy, the one she had seen at Drusilla's. His eyes seemed to
be searching her face. She smiled at him and he smiled in return.

The evening was over. Suzanna was down in the audience. "Did you like
the dance, daddy?" she asked.

"It was beautiful," he answered with gratifying response. "I was very
proud of my little girl--and the shoes--I was so glad you could have
them--they were the prettiest in the drill."

"I think they were, too," Suzanna answered, with real truth.

Out in the street she saw the boy. He was standing near the gate of the
school yard, by his side a tall, dark young man.

"How do you do?" said Suzanna.

He snatched his hat from his head. "Oh, I liked your dance," he said.
"This is my tutor," he finished.

"How do you do," said Suzanna politely to the young man. She wondered
what a tutor was. Then to the boy: "Drusilla's your grandmother, isn't
she?"

"Yes; do you live in this town?"

"Yes, right down that road. Your big house was closed for three years,
wasn't it--since I was a little girl of five. That's why we haven't seen
one another, I suppose." Then: "How did you think of coming to the
Indian Drill?"

"Why, one of the school trustees had to see my father on business and he
spoke about the entertainment. I thought I'd like to see it."

"Well, I'm glad you came. Good-bye."

A carriage drew up. The boy and his companion stepped into it and were
driven off.

"That's young Graham Woods Bartlett," said Mrs. Procter as they started
home. "They live in the big house on the top of the hill. This is the
first time it's been open for some years."

"And Drusilla's his grandmother," said Suzanna. "He's an awful nice
boy."

"His father and old John Massey are business associates," put in Mr.
Procter.

"Such a fine big house to be occupied only a few months of the year, and
then not every year," put in Mrs. Procter. "And they rarely stay so late
in the season as they're staying this year--way into October."

"I'll take Maizie and Peter and go and see him tomorrow," said Suzanna.

"Oh, Suzanna, I don't believe--" began Mrs. Procter. Then sensing
immediately that her small daughter would be totally unable to
understand social distinctions, she did not finish her sentence.

So it was that the next afternoon right after school, Suzanna, who never
lost time in carrying out a resolve, prepared for her visit.

"I wonder where Peter is?" Mrs. Procter asked.

As if in answer to his mother's question, Peter opened the kitchen door.
He wore primarily a guilty expression. His hat was on one side of his
head, the suit which two seasons before he had outgrown, was short in
the legs, tight as to chest, and there was a very symphony of entreaty
in his eyes. By a frayed string he held a stray dog, the fourth one
since spring.

Mrs. Procter looked at him sternly. As mothers do, she took in with one
glance Peter's prayerful attitude and the appealing one of the
shrinking animal.

"You take that dog right away and lose it!" she commanded.

"Oh, mother," began the small boy entering the kitchen, the dog perforce
entering also. "He followed me all the way home and we're awful good
friends already. Can't he stay?"

"Not one minute," returned Mrs. Procter. She regarded the animal
scornfully. "He's not anybody's dog," she said. "He's simply a stray,
and I'm tired of feeding every stray dog that comes into the
neighborhood."

Peter turned reluctantly away. "He'll be awful lonely out there," he
said, "and he's hungry, too. No lady ever thinks a dog eats. Can't I
give him a bone or something before I turn him loose?"

"Take him out on the back porch and give him that soup bone left from
supper last night. And then I don't want to see him again. Now, Peter,
this time I mean it."

Peter made one last effort. "He's a fine breed, his roof is black," he
said. "He'd make an awful good watch dog."

"Well, we really don't need a watch dog," his mother answered, and half
smiled.

Maizie, advancing from the dining-room, stared at the intruder on his
way out.

"Oh, but this dog has hair, mother," she cried. "You remember one of the
others hadn't."

"Hair, or no hair," Mrs. Procter returned determinedly, "that dog is not
going to stay in this house. I've had enough of stray animals to last me
for quite awhile."

Peter stood holding the rope and still looking at his mother. But his
hopeful expression, brought on by Maizie's words, was fast ebbing.

"Hurry up," said Mrs. Procter. "Take him away."

"Can't he stay for one night, mother?"

Suzanna, silent during the colloquy, now spoke.

"Maybe we can find another home for him, Peter. We were just going over
to Graham Bartlett's, and perhaps he'd keep the dog. We'll ask his
mother," she said.

Peter brightened a trifle at that. He really wanted more than anything
in the world to keep that friendly dog. But if he was not to be allowed
to do so, finding a good home for it was the next best thing.

So away the children started. It was a long walk, but the October day
was cool and exhilarating. The children kicked the fallen leaves before
them, and once Peter gave chase to his dog. Maizie sang little tunes,
and Suzanna felt new wonderments rising within her at the beauty of the
world.

They came at last to the Bartlett home, but no one was about, only
several carriages stood in the road. Suzanna swung the big gate wide and
with the children following her, and the dog held in Peter's firm grasp,
she came to the house, mounted the steps and seeing the carved front
door wide open, they all walked in. In the empty hall with the high
ceilings they stood a moment embarrassed.

From a side room came sounds of laughter and soft voices. Suzanna
turned. Heavy Persian rugs hung at the entrance to this room and Suzanna
hesitated one moment. She wished someone were about to direct her. But
alas, at this critical moment the hallman had escaped kitchenward. It
was Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett's at-home day, and the function in full
blast, and as his services might not be required for perhaps half an
hour he had flown, believing discovery could not fall upon him.

So Suzanna, Maizie, Peter and the dog stepped within the gorgeous room.

Soft music came enchantingly from a hidden orchestra, ladies
beautifully gowned and bejeweled stood about in graceful postures. Mrs.
Graham Woods Bartlett attired in a flame-colored velvet gown with a
wonderful satin-lined train hanging straight from her shoulders, stood
near a table at which two very pretty girls were serving little cups of
tea and dainty cakes.

Suzanna, Maizie, and Peter holding tight the frayed rope with the
hungry-looking dog on one end, gazed awe stricken at the fairylike
scene. At length Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett turned and beheld her late
guests.

The children stood irresolute; some expression in Mrs. Bartlett's face
halted their advance. That look made Suzanna strangely self-conscious.
Maizie was undeniably shy, and Peter with dread at his heart for fear
Jerry (a quickly bestowed name that the dog had learned immediately to
answer to) might not act in a gentlemanly fashion when he should pass
the tea table. With all these different emotions in their hearts, the
children finally started across the beautiful room. The ladies fell back
from the dog lest in his passage he might touch their gowns, and all
gazed in wonder at the small cavalcade. When at last the children stood
before Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett, Suzanna spoke, broke into the dead
silence of the room, for even the orchestra had stopped its music.

[Illustration: "We thought you might like a dog," began Suzanna]

"We thought you might like a dog," began Suzanna. "He's a very nice dog
and very loving, although if I'm to be honest, I can't say he's a
good-looking dog." She felt her courage ebbing at the icy stillness
which greeted her statement.

For a long time Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett remained speechless, and as
the dog once had looked at Mrs. Procter, so he looked imploringly at her
who might eventually be his new mistress. Little Maizie, moved to a show
of bravery for Peter's sake, spoke up:

"We've only got a little house, and you've got a big one, so we thought
you wouldn't mind."

"And," concluded Peter, "he really is a fine dog. You can buy a nice
collar for him and maybe cut his tail--" Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett made
a little wry face--"and you'd be surprised to see how elegant he'll
look."

A laugh rang out from one end of the room. It came from a fine-looking
old lady who stood near the window surrounded, it would seem by admiring
satellites, and at the little musical sound Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett's
face cleared magically, for the stately old lady was a very important
personage to all present, envied usually too, and if this little
incident seemed to amuse her then the matter was beautifully altered. So
Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett found her voice. "Go out into the grounds and
see the gardener. If he can find a place for the animal, let him keep
it."

The children felt themselves dismissed. On the way out Suzanna kept her
gaze quite away from the table with its alluring load of dainties. But
Maizie paused an infinitesimal fraction of a second and let her eyes
stray over the fascinating cakes, the glasses of pink ices, and the
Maraschino cherries and nuts and white candies. But it was Peter who
neither looked aside nor paused, but as he went by the table he
addressed the ceiling.

"My dog's very fond of cakes," he said. "But mother says dogs can do
without cakes, especially stray dogs."

One of the pretty girls laughed merrily, and sweeping from a silver
plate a handful of cakes she thrust them into Peter's hands. "Thank
you," he said simply. And then the children left with the dog gamboling
in expectancy behind his small master. He knew well the cakes were for
him.

Out in the grounds they met Graham. He had been to the stables to look
at his pony, a new gift from his father. He paused astonished at sight
of the children.

"Oh, Graham," Suzanna cried at sight of him, "your mother said we should
see the gardener about this dog. She thought he'd like to have him."

Graham, though startled, asked no questions.

"I guess it's David mother means," he said. "Wait here and I'll see if
he's in the back garden."

After Graham had gone Peter began to conjecture. "If David won't take
Jerry," he said, "what'll we do?"

"You'll have to take him out and lose him then," said Maizie calmly.

Peter turned a considering eye upon her. He couldn't understand her.
Quite as a matter of course she suggested his taking the dog out on some
prairie and turning it loose, to know hunger, and perhaps abuse. And
yet, he had seen this same tender-hearted little Maizie crying because a
spider had been swept down from the porch. No, in his boyish soul he
decided that should he live a thousand years, he never would understand
women with their inconsistencies and their peculiar viewpoints. Their
tendernesses in one direction and their complacent cruelties in others.

"Let's go and sit on the steps of that cottage," said Suzanna, pointing
to a small house at the foot of the side garden. Maizie consented, but
Peter preferred not to move. He wished to stay with his dog as long as
possible. In the cottage might be a lady who would look with the same
horror-stricken eyes upon his friend as had Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett.

So Suzanna and Maizie left him with his dog. They had just ensconced
themselves comfortably on the steps of the cottage when a distressing
accent struck upon their ears, and simultaneously they turned in the
direction of the sound. There on a tiny verandah, almost hidden behind a
large fern growth, a little girl sat on a low chair crying softly and
pathetically as though her small heart were broken. The children stood
for a moment not knowing just what to do. Then Maizie, the same one,
thought Peter satirically (he could see all that went on from his place
beyond) who had suggested his losing his dog on a prairie, went to the
pathetic figure and sitting beside it said in a tremulous low voice,
full of sympathy and pity:

"What's the matter, little girl?"

The one thus addressed took her hands down from her face and looked
around at her questioner. Her eyes were dark, with black lashes, and she
had wonderful, curly hair. When she had finished looking at Maizie,
which was a long moment, she put her hand behind her and produced a
doll, sadly deficient as to features. Indeed, noseless, entirely, and
with one eye gone. But in a very fever of love, she held it to her.

"Are you crying because your doll is broken?" asked Suzanna, now coming
a little closer and standing straight and slim before the child.

"No, she's not broken," said the little girl, "but she's got the
whooping cough and she keeps my father awake nights coughing."

Suzanna instantly responded. "Oh, that's too bad," she said. "Can't your
mother fix her some flaxseed tea?"

Now down once more went the little girl's head upon her knee, and once
more she was shaking with sobs. And at this moment young Graham returned
and in his wake, David.

"David says," began Graham cheerfully to Suzanna and Maizie, "that he
can find room for an extra dog, so you may leave yours. Where's your
brother?"

"He is right over there," pointed Maizie.

Then the gardener's glance fell upon the little girl, with her head bent
as she still wept.

"She's crying awfully hard," said Suzanna to the gardener. "Do you know
whose little girl she is?"

"She's mine," said the man with a big world of tenderness in his voice.
"She's my little Daphne."

"We thought she was crying because her doll was broken," said Suzanna.
"Then she said it had the whooping cough and kept you awake all night
and I asked her why her mother didn't make some flaxseed tea for it."

A swift shadow darkened David's fine face and he shaded his eyes with
his hand. Then he went to the little girl and raised her as though she
were one of his carefully cherished flowers. Her sobs ceased as she
found herself in her father's arms.

"You see," said her father, "she has no mother!"

Now the children knew by his tone and by the extreme sadness in his eyes
that the little Daphne's mother had gone away never to return. And they
knew it must be the saddest thing in the world to be without a mother;
one who was always ready to understand even if you had to wait till the
baby was hushed, or the bread looked at in the oven. The understanding
did come, sure and tender; a mother who sometimes smiled at you in that
complete, deep way, as Suzanna's mother had smiled at her the day she
wore her leghorn hat with the daisies.

"Can Daphne play with us?" asked Suzanna after awhile. "And can we take
her home to see our mother?"

The man's face brightened at this. "Why, that will be fine," he said.
"Perhaps you'd like to play here in the grounds for awhile. Then Daphne
can go home with you. You're the Procter children, aren't you? I've
talked often with your father when I've bought things in the hardware
shop. I'm coming sometime to see his machine."

"Yes," said Suzanna, "but how did you know we were the Procter children?
We didn't tell you our name. Did Graham?"

"No," said the man, "but you're the living image of your father. You
look at a person just like he does, out of your big dark eyes."

Suzanna flushed. There was nothing in all the world she so loved to hear
as that she looked like her father.

Little Daphne had ceased crying and her father carried her up the narrow
winding stairs to their own quarters. Shortly he returned again. The
little girl now wore a pretty lace-trimmed bonnet mother-made, one knew
at once, and a little white cape. She was a very charming and quaint
figure.

"I think, daddy," she said, "I'd like to go home right away and see the
little girl's mother."

He turned his head away again for a moment, but he managed at last to
meet his little daughter's eyes with a smile.

"Run along, sweet," he said.

"Can she stay to supper with us?" asked Suzanna.

"If your mother would like to have her," said the man. "And I'll come up
later for her."

"All right," replied Suzanna.

Now came the hard moment for Peter, in the parting from his dog. He came
reluctantly forward.

Graham, seeing Peter's distress when the animal had been delivered into
David's care, said: "You can come up here often, Peter, and see the dog.
I know it's awful hard giving him up."

Peter's heart was touched. Here at last was one who understood! Here at
last was one who would not condemn a dog merely because he had an
unnaturally big appetite; because he got around under people's feet and
had no manners.

"You're a very nice boy," said Suzanna when they were parting, "and we
wish you would come to see us."

Graham's face lit. "Oh, I will come. Do you live in that little cottage
with the crooked chimney?"

"Yes," said Suzanna. "Come soon, won't you?"

Graham promised he would do so.

As the Procter children went down the road, Graham watched them, but his
gaze presently concentrated itself on Suzanna, who was leading the small
Daphne.

"I like Suzanna," thought Graham. "I like to see her flush up like a
rose when she speaks." Which was a poetical observation for a boy of
twelve.



CHAPTER XV

A LENT MOTHER


Mrs. Procter was in the dining-room arranging the shelves of her small
sideboard when she heard sounds betokening the children's return.

They entered the dining-room, Suzanna leading a small stranger by the
hand, Maizie and Peter behind.

"Mother," began Suzanna at once, "David, the gardener, took the dog and
we brought this little girl home to see you."

Mrs. Procter looked questioningly at Daphne, who stood close to
Suzanna's protecting arm.

"Stay with Maizie a moment, Daphne," said Suzanna, "while I tell my
mother something." Daphne smiled and did as she was told, and Suzanna
went close to Mrs. Procter. In a low tone she said: "Daphne's mother
went far away awhile ago, and I'm telling this to you in a low voice
because Daphne cried when we asked her where her mother was. I brought
her home so she could remember how beautiful a mother is."

In an instant the tears sprang to Mrs. Procter's eyes. She went quickly
to Daphne, and lifted the little girl.

"Sit down in a rocking chair with her," said Suzanna, "and hold her
close up to you. And then when she's cuddled down, look at her like you
do at our babies."

Mrs. Procter obeyed. Daphne nestled close. "Her father knows my father,
Mrs. Procter," said Suzanna.

Mrs. Procter looked up quickly at this new mode of address. Suzanna
explained.

"Daphne," she said, going close and looking down at the contented little
face, "I'm giving you a share in my mother while you're here today. I
give over the part I own in her to you, and I shall call her Mrs.
Procter whenever you visit us."

"But you can't give away even your part in your very own mother,"
protested Maizie.

"But I have done so, haven't I?"

"Does just saying so make a thing true?" Maizie asked.

"If you say so and live up to it," Suzanna returned.

"Well, anyway," said Maizie, "mother's not cuddling Daphne because she
wants to; only because she's sorry for her."

"What do you mean?" asked Mrs. Procter. "I like little Daphne, too, and
I'm glad she's come to visit us."

"But you know, mother," said Maizie, "you only find time to cuddle your
own babies. And you stop just as soon as they can walk around."

"Mrs. Procter cuddles all children in her heart," said Suzanna loyally.
"She'd wear her arms out if she cuddled all of us all the time."

Maizie didn't answer that. But when little Daphne finally left Mrs.
Procter's sheltering clasp and went away to play with the children,
Maizie still hovered about her mother.

"Mother," she said at last, "did you like to hold Daphne close up to
you?"

Now mothers are very wonderful beings, and with no further word from
Maizie, Mrs. Procter understood the child's unspoken wish. In a moment
Maizie was held close to her mother's breast, and was looking up into
her mother's tender eyes. And the mother was thinking. Was mother love
selfish then in its inclusion? Weren't there little ones outside
hungering for cuddling? How children went to the heart of things! She
thought suddenly and perhaps irrelevantly of her husband's invention
upon which he poured his heart's best treasures. And yet not once had he
ever mentioned the money which might be his did success attend it. Only
the good to others. His seemed a wide vision. She sighed. It was hard to
find strength enough, time enough to go outside one's home doing good.
"Well, at least," she thought with a sudden uplift, "I'll adopt little
Daphne into our home circle."

When Mr. Procter arrived home for supper he found, playing happily
about, the little addition to his family. Suzanna took her father off to
one corner to explain all about Daphne.

"And so I've given my share in mother to Daphne whenever she visits us,"
concluded Suzanna.

Mr. Procter smiled and touched Suzanna's dark hair. Later he arranged a
chair so Daphne might be comfortable at the supper table. A book and a
cushion brought that state of comfort about, and the child was very
happy. She was, for the time being, a member of an interesting family,
everyone trying his best to entertain her. Even Peter forgot the loss of
his dog and said some funny things which made Daphne laugh.

After supper David called for his little daughter. Daphne cried out
joyfully as he entered.

"Oh, I've had such a good time, Daddy David," she exclaimed.

He lifted her to his shoulder, then gazed about the little family
circle. His eyes lingered on Mrs. Procter.

"You've been good to Daphne, I know," he said simply. "And so good
night."

"While you're here, David," said Mr. Procter, "I'll show you my
invention."

"Fine!" David said; he swung the little girl from his shoulder. "I'd
like to see that machine."

So they all went upstairs to the attic. The machine stood brooding in
its peace.

Mr. Procter lit a lamp. Its glow fell softly upon the little group.

"Old John Massey came into the shop today," said Mr. Procter. "He
promised to come in and see the machine tomorrow."

"Does he know its object?" asked David.

"No, there's been no chance to tell him."

"Why is he interested, then?" asked David. "Has his commercial instinct
been aroused?"

"Oh, I think not," said the inventor, "I've not spoken to him about that
part of it, only told him a great chance was his if he became interested
in the machine."

"Someone's ringing the bell. Run down, Peter," said Mrs. Procter.

Peter went down and returned at once with a note.

"A man with brass buttons brought it," he said. "It's for father."

Mr. Procter tore open the letter.

"Well, that's decent of John Massey to let me know," he said. "He's ill
and will be unable to come here tomorrow."

"Yes, very decent for old John Massey," said David. "Well, I must be
off. And we'll come again soon, if we may."



CHAPTER XVI

SUZANNA AIDS CUPID


"Mother dear," asked Suzanna one day, "if the Eagle Man's sick, don't
you think I ought to go and see him?"

Mrs. Procter hesitated. She looked into the earnest dark eyes raised to
hers. "Well, dear, perhaps it would be kind," she said.

"I ought to take him some flowers," Suzanna pursued.

The time was early morning, and Mr. Procter had not yet departed for the
hardware store.

"I can't think where you'll get flowers, Suzanna," he said.

"Oh, there's a little shaded spot in a field I know and there's some
daisies there. I'll gather them on the way to the Eagle Man."

So that afternoon after school Suzanna admonished Maizie to be quick
with her buttons because she and the baby were to pay a call on the
Eagle Man.

"I have to gather the daisies for him, too," said Suzanna.

"I don't like the Eagle Man very well," said Maizie; "I'm afraid of him;
and I don't see why you should take flowers to him. He has plenty in the
big glass house in his yard."

Suzanna stopped short. "You don't like him after he gave you that lovely
ride in the summer, Maizie Procter, and after he's interested in our
father's Machine? I'm 'shamed of you. You ought to like everybody Miss
Massey says, and flowers in his glass house aren't like flowers that are
a present from somebody else."

Maizie did not answer this, but the look on her face indicated some
defiance of Suzanna's attempted direction of her thoughts. When they
were ready, they called good-bye to their mother and started away.
Suzanna pushed the cart containing the baby, while Maizie walked
sedately beside her.

From the field Suzanna knew, she secured a small bunch of late daisies
and then the journey was continued. At length the children reached the
Massey grounds. Suzanna pushed open the big iron gate and trundled the
cart into the gravel path. The ground immediately began to be slightly
hilly.

"You'd better help me, Maizie," said Suzanna.

"How?" asked Maizie helplessly.

"Put your hands on my back and push," said Suzanna.

So the little procession formed itself. And in this wise it reached the
top of the hill. The house itself lay a few yards in front of them. The
children paused to rest, and then Suzanna, looking around, beheld a
small vine-covered arbor, and within, just visible through the
enshrouding ivy, a man and a woman, Miss Massey and a stranger.

"How do you do, Suzanna?" Miss Massey said when she found herself
discovered. "Did you want to see me?"

"I'm very glad to see you," responded Suzanna politely, "but I didn't
come expressly on purpose to look at you. I came to see the Eagle Man."

"The Eagle Man?" asked Miss Massey, puzzled.

"He walks with a cane," put in Maizie, "and he coughs kind of hoarse
each time he speaks."

"He's your father," said Suzanna. "He sits down on a velvet chair, and
he shouts, and he gets red in the face, and he bangs his fist on the
chair when a little man doesn't hurry up, though I thought he went very
fast. He did all that the day the Sunday School pupils came to your
party."

"Oh, yes," said Miss Massey, a smile lighting her face at the vivid
description, "I did not know that you had met my father, but I'm afraid
you can't see him today, dear. He's not well."

"Yes, I know; that's why I came to see him and to bring him these
flowers."

Miss Massey was a little puzzled. How did Suzanna know John Massey was
ill?

"Suppose you bring the baby in here," suggested the man who was sitting
next to Miss Massey, and who up to this time had been silent. "And after
awhile Miss Massey can find out if her father is able to see you."

"All right," said Suzanna with alacrity. She started to lift the baby
from his carriage when the man sprang up and took the child from her.
The baby smiled and won his way at once to the stranger's heart.

"He's sweet, isn't he?" began Suzanna, as she entered the arbor, Maizie
with her. Miss Massey drew Maizie within the circle of her own arm.

"He is that," said the man earnestly, "although I don't know very much
about babies. Does he cry much?"

"Well, he's very sinful when he's hungry. He's getting better now
because he's growing older, but he used to shriek till his face got red.
Once in awhile now he wants what he wants right away. I was trying once
to learn a piece of poetry, and he suddenly shrieked and I had to stop
everything and warm his milk. I'm only hoping he'll live to grow up,
because if he should die now I'm afraid God wouldn't want him in
Heaven."

"Are there ladies in Heaven that take care of babies?" asked Maizie
interestedly, a new train of thoughts started.

"You know there are, Maizie," said Suzanna, allowing no one else a
chance to answer. "There are lots of little babies that go away, and do
you s'pose they'd be called if they were going to be left hungry and
cold? God has it all arranged. First, he calls a baby and then pretty
soon he calls a mother and she takes care of the baby."

"Any mother?" Maizie asked.

"Yes, any mother; they're all good."

"But why doesn't he leave them on earth with their own mothers?"

"Because sometimes he takes a liking to somebody down here," Suzanna
said gravely. "But anyway, you needn't ask me such questions, because
here's Miss Massey who knows everything," Suzanna finished
magnanimously.

"She does that," said the man gravely who was holding the baby.

"Are you related to Miss Massey?" asked Suzanna. Now Miss Massey's
rather faded cheeks grew pink.

"Is it a long time before the baby needs his bottle again, Suzanna?" she
asked.

"Oh, not for hours," said Suzanna. "You see, now he eats crackers and
bread and butter and an egg sometimes, and we gave him some before we
started." She returned relentlessly to the question again, appealing to
the man. "Are you related to Miss Massey?"

"No," the stranger said after a time, "we're just friends."

Miss Massey put in hastily: "Shall we go into the house, children, and
I'll show you some interesting things?"

The man rose quickly, the baby still in his arms. In this manner they
all entered the big house and went into the beautiful room that Suzanna
remembered so well.

"Do you live here?" asked Suzanna of the man. He shook his head.

"You mean in this little town?" he asked. "I once did years ago, but I
moved away to the city. I'm paying a short visit to my sister now."

"Oh," said Suzanna. "My father has a sister called Aunt Martha. She
comes sometimes when we have a new baby."

"Why," said Maizie suddenly, as they were all seated, the baby
contentedly sitting on the man's knee, her voice shrill with new
discovery. "He _is_ related to Miss Massey; he looks at her that way."

The man, after a long pause in which he gathered understanding, answered
very solemnly. "Well," he said, "if loving a person makes you a
relative, then I am very closely related to Miss Massey. But if lack of
money keeps one from being related, then I'm only a stranger to her."

Neither Suzanna nor Maizie could understand that statement. But Miss
Massey blushed till her face was like a lovely flower.

Yet when Suzanna appeared to be about to take up a new line of
questioning, Miss Massey spoke quickly:

"I think you'd like some lemonade, wouldn't you, Suzanna, you and your
sister? I'll go and order some for you."

She went out of the room. The man waited for a moment, then handing the
baby to Suzanna, followed Miss Massey.

"Would you like to live here, Suzanna?" asked Maizie.

"No, I don't like people around with brass buttons on their coats," said
Suzanna. "And then there'd be so much cleaning we'd never get through."

At the moment came an unmistakable sound.

"The Eagle Man!" cried Suzanna with absolute conviction. "I thought he
was sick."

And indeed it was just exactly the Eagle Man. Straight he came to the
library. He paused in the doorway at sight of the children. All the high
color had faded from his face; he looked alarmingly ill.

"Oh," cried Suzanna, immediately upon sight of him. "We came to see you
and to bring you these daisies."

He accepted them with a little grimace. "Thank you, little girl," he
said. "Put that heavy baby down. He can crawl around."

Suzanna carefully lowered the baby to the floor. He sat with blinking
eyes, so many treasures for his small hands lay within touch.

The Eagle Man spoke. "Who have you been talking with?" he asked as he
looked about suspiciously.

"Oh," cried Suzanna, "there's nobody hidden away. Miss Massey and her
relation went out to see about some lemonade."

"Her relation!" stormed the Eagle Man.

"Yes, the one who loves Miss Massey."

The Eagle Man recovered all his lost color. Watching his terrible
expression, both children thought it a blessing that at this critical
moment Miss Massey and her relation returned. But, oh, it was not the
same Miss Massey, but one who had found the world. Her face was glowing
like a girl's and her eyes sparkled and shone; and when she faced her
father there was manifest in her aspect a certain courage that in his
eyes at least sat strangely upon her.

"Father," she cried, "you should be in bed."

"What's the meaning of all this?" he shouted, ignoring her soft concern.

The new relation came forward. "My dear sir," he began, "I shall have to
ask you to refrain from attempting to intimidate the lady who is to be
my wife."

"Your wife?" exclaimed the Eagle Man turning upon the speaker. "She's my
daughter."

"Granted," said the man calmly, "and she's also my promised wife."

"I shall never give my consent," said the Eagle Man, but his voice had
fallen.

"Then, father," said delicate, timid little Miss Massey, "I shall marry
Robert without your consent."

There was a long heavy silence. The baby having found a gold-plated
lizard on the hearth was contemplating it with wondering eyes.

"Very well," said the Eagle Man at last, trying to speak calmly. "You'll
go your own way. Not a cent of mine do you ever get."

"I'm glad to hear that," said the man, "for not a cent of yours shall my
wife need."

Into the breach Suzanna strode.

"Oh, but you will need money," she cried as she stood anchoring the baby
by means of an extended arm. "When you're married and you have a big
family you'll have to pay the rent, and you'll have to dress all the
little children, and there'll be insurance week, and something you
haven't thought of all the time, and just when you get on your feet,
there'll be the doctor at your door and his bill pretty soon."

"Exactly," said the Eagle Man, as though by Suzanna's words many of his
contentions had been proved.

"But we shall be together," said little Miss Massey, as though that
beloved truth answered everything. The man had thrown his arms about her
and had drawn her quite close, and she looked up into his face with eyes
that still shone. Oh, how long she had loved him! And how long had it
been since she settled to the realization that though he loved her, he
was proud and would not speak. This spoken love she had craved with all
her heart; and it had been withheld because he had no money and her
father had too much.

"Will you tell me your real objection to me?" asked the man with frank
directness appealing to the Eagle Man. "For that you have had objections
to me I've sensed always."

The Eagle Man turned and looked the younger man over, carefully,
critically, before answering. Indeed, he was so long about speaking that
the children, at least, thought he never meant to speak again.

But at last: "My daughter," he began, "is now thirty-six. She has had
thirty-six years of luxury, of merely raising her finger and receiving
highly trained service. She is not a young girl who might, being more
adaptable and buoyed up by romance, settle down to a new order of life;
she is too used to the luxuries I have been able to give her, servants,
carriages, horses, travel, fine clothes--" he enumerated them all with
distinctness, giving each item a lengthy second before going on to his
conclusion. "It will work real hardship on her to be compelled to give
up all these things to do her own work and to make over her own
dresses."

"You're mistaken, father," Miss Massey denied, "all that giving up, if
giving up you can call it, will be my joy if I can be with Robert." Her
voice, deep with emotion, died into a silence which reigned for moments.
No one seemed to wish to break it, not even the baby. And yet, though
the meaning of all the spoken words had not been clear to Suzanna, her
eager, sensitive little mind seized on pictures which seemed somehow to
fit in; yet pictures in their simplicity so far removed from her
surroundings of luxury that they would seem but vagrant fancies.

Had she attempted to translate them, she would have failed, yet as they
grew momentarily more vivid and meaningful, interpretive words, as vivid
as the pictures themselves, rushed to her lips. She turned to the Eagle
Man.

"Oh, on Saturday night when supper is over and the shades are pulled
down and the lamp is lit in the parlor, and Robert is reading a big book
with pictures in it, and the children, except the two eldest, are all
asleep upstairs and it's raining outside, and you can hear the pitapat,
pitapat of the drops on the window pane, then Miss Massey will be happy.
Before supper Miss Massey'll have felt awful tired and she'll hurry up
things and she'll make her eldest little girl hurry too, but after the
dishes are cleared away, and she's sitting close to Robert, she'll be so
glad she's in out of the rain with her children all in safe too, that
she'll not care a bit about raising her finger for a little man to come
and ask her what she wants. She'll not want to go about in a carriage,
or travel in a big train!"

No one spoke. Only the scene painted so simply grew in the hearts of at
least two there, so that Robert drew his promised wife a little closer
to him and she glanced up in his face with eyes full of color.

Suzanna went on. She had forgotten her audience. She was just telling
out the pictures that had been built into her life; supper tables with
many young faces about; little babies who had stayed just awhile; hasty
words and loving making up; the star-dust of the real every-day life.

"You know," she continued, "that Maizie and I crept downstairs one
Saturday night because I wanted to tell daddy something, and mother was
sitting right close to him, and we heard her say: 'When the children are
safe in bed, and just you and I are here--then I see things clearer--'
And he just looked at her and said, 'Sweetheart!' and his voice was
nicer than even when he says good-night to Maizie and me."

Miss Massey turned her gaze upon Suzanna. "Little girl, little girl,"
she said, "come here--"

So Suzanna went and stood close to Miss Massey, whilst Maizie went after
the marauding baby.

The Eagle Man cleared his throat. "That child of yours is going to
sleep," he said speaking to Suzanna.

"Oh, no," said Suzanna, not meaning to contradict, but just to set him
straight, "he's wide-awake. But I guess it must be time for us to go. I
know you think so too, Mr. Eagle Man."

She left Miss Massey's tender clasp, went to the baby, raised him, held
him under her arm skilfully, the while his legs stuck out straight
behind her. She spoke to Miss Massey:

"If the Eagle Man's mad at you and he stays mad all night," she said,
"you can come to our house and sleep in my bed with Maizie. Mother can
fix the dining-room table for me."

Miss Massey released herself from Robert's clasp and went to Suzanna.
She stooped and kissed her tenderly. "Thank you, dear little girl," she
said. "I'll remember that invitation."

The Eagle Man pulled a cord hanging from the ceiling. Immediately it
seemed, one of the men with brass buttons appeared.

"Carry that child to its perambulator," shouted the Eagle Man. Not a
flicker disturbed the serenity of the man addressed, no matter what were
his inner feelings. He put out two arms straight and stiff like rods,
and Suzanna placed the baby upon them. Saying quickly their adieus,
Suzanna and Maizie walked behind the uniformed man, for whom Suzanna at
least felt a stirring of pity.



CHAPTER XVII

A SIMPLE WEDDING


"And so," concluded Suzanna early one afternoon as she stood on a soap
box in her own yard, "the noble knight set forth on his prancing steed,
having finished his deeds of blood. And all about him lay those he had
slain."

The children having listened entranced to the story, now stirred; Maizie
was the first to speak. "I think the knight was horrid," she said.

"I like him," said soft little Daphne who was now a constant, happy
visitor at the Procter home.

"I think a brave knight is bully," said Graham Bartlett, as constant a
visitor as Daphne.

"I would slay mine by the hundred," cried Peter boastfully.

Graham looked off into the distance. "I shall fare forth some day," he
said, "and lead my armies to victory proudly, yet disdainfully. I shall
have no love in my heart, only sternness."

"Drusilla can tell some wonderful tales of knights," said Suzanna. "Does
she tell you stories when you go to visit her, Graham?"

Graham colored hotly. "I haven't been to see her lately," he answered;
then, "I'll tell you, let's go today."

Suzanna bounded away to ask permission of her mother. She returned in a
moment. "Mother says we may go after Peter changes his blouse. Hurry up,
Peter. Don't keep us waiting."

Peter moved reluctantly houseward, and Suzanna ended: "Isn't it fine
that today was teachers' meeting so we could have a holiday?"

Graham looked wistfully at her. He had a tutor, and lessons alone he
felt could not be so interesting as when learned with a number of other
boys and girls.

"Let's go," said Suzanna, "we can walk slowly so Peter can catch up with
us. You mustn't get tired, will you, Daphne?" Daphne was very sure she
would not, and Peter reappearing at the moment, they all started away.
They went out into a sunny day left over from the Indian summer. Still
there was crispness in the air which exhilarated them, moving Peter to
sundry manifestations which Maizie coldly designated as "showing off."
He stood on his head, turned somersaults, cast his voice up to the
heavens, immediately spoiled the crispness of his clean blouse. He was
the fine, free savage, and his sisters finally gave up trying to tame
him.

"It's Thanksgiving weather, isn't it?" said Suzanna. "Come on, let's all
skip."

So they all fell into Peter's spirit, and thus it was that skipping and
singing they reached Drusilla's little home. It was very quiet in that
spot, the garden desolate, the flowers gone. The children instinctively
hushed their songs and went slowly up the front steps.

Graham rang the bell.

The kindly-faced maid answered the ring. "Oh, come in, children," she
cried. "Mrs. Bartlett certainly needs cheering today."

The children, thus cordially invited, trooped in. "Is Drusilla sad
today?" asked Suzanna.

"Well, she's thinking of the past," said the maid. "All day she's been
talking of her early home across the ocean, talking of the familiar
places of her childhood. She insisted even upon my preparing brouse for
her luncheon."

"_Brouse?_" The children were interested. They wanted to know what
brouse was. The maid smiled.

"Why brouse is just bread broken up into a bowl with hot water poured
over it and lots of butter and salt and pepper added. One day when Mrs.
Bartlett was a little girl, her mother took her to the home of an old
nurse, and there she had brouse to eat, and afterwards for one joyful
hour she was allowed to wear the clogs belonging to the nurse's little
granddaughter."

"I know what clogs are," said Graham. "They're wooden shoes that make a
lot of noise and have brass nails in them." He had looked into the
sitting room and was interested in an object there. "What's that?" he
asked. "Can't my grandmother walk?"

The maid's eyes followed his finger. "That's a wheel chair," she said.
"Your grandmother is not so strong as she was in the summer, so I take
her out in the chair when the day is bright. Well, children, go upstairs
quietly. Suzanna knows the way to Mrs. Bartlett's room."

So the children on tiptoes mounted the thickly carpeted stairs. At the
top Suzanna waited for the others, then went down the hall, paused and
knocked softly on the panel to the right, and at the soft invitation to
enter, pushed open wide the door.

Drusilla sat within, her chair drawn close to the window. Her hands were
lying listlessly in her lap. She looked wilted, a flower fading to its
end. She turned to the children and smiled, a very small wistful smile,
but it lit her pale delicate face and made Daphne advance confidentially
to the middle of the room.

"We came to see you," she said in her winsome way.

"I'm very glad," said Drusilla. "Won't you all come close to me?"

The children obeyed. Drusilla looked inquiringly at Graham, and then
said, "Well, my boy, you've grown somewhat."

"Yes, two inches in six months." He wanted to say something to lift the
sadness from her face, and at last he blurted out: "I think you're a
bully grandmother, and I'm coming often to see you."

"Ah, then I'll tell you fine tales of your father when he was a lad of
your age," she answered, well pleased. She put out her white hand and
laid it on his head.

And at the touch there grew in Graham's young soul a wish to defend this
dear old lady, this grandmother. He wanted to fight for her, to do
something great for her. He had visions of himself, a man, wearing her
colors. All his deepest chivalry was aroused. He looked longingly into
her face, and with loving sagacity she read his desire.

"My dear," she said, "I wish you would do something for me."

"Oh, grandmother, what would you like me to do?" he cried.

"The day is so beautiful," she answered. "I've had my windows open and I
know. Would you be my knight and wheel me out?"

"Grandmother, will you let me do that?" His voice rose. "I'll wheel you
down the wide road out into the country." He straightened his shoulders,
pride filled his heart. His grandmother trusted her frail body to his
care!

"Well and good, my boy," she answered. And then to Suzanna: "Will you
tell Letty to get my cape and bonnet. My grandson would take me riding."

Letty, answering Suzanna's call, came at once. She found a very cheerful
mistress and an excited little group of children. She hesitated a moment
when Graham told her he meant to take his grandmother out for a ride.
But noting the earnestness of the boy's manner she made no spoken
objections, but she went to the clothes press and took down Drusilla's
"dolman" and small close fitting bonnet.

"Be very careful of your grandmother," said the maid, as she dressed
Mrs. Bartlett and then offered her arm to steady the slight figure down
the stairs.

"I shall be very careful," promised Graham. Never once in his young life
had any real service been asked of him. He was experiencing for the
first time a sense of responsibility and he grew beneath it.

Downstairs Letty guided the rubber-tired wheel chair out into the hall,
down the front steps. She returned for Drusilla and seating her in the
chair, tucked a soft velvet rug about her.

Graham took his place at the long handled bar. Gently he pushed the
chair and the small cavalcade was on its way.

At first each child was quiet. Graham, ever mindful of the charge which
was his, was very serious and his thoughts turned to his mother.

He wished she had taken this grandmother right into her own home to be
watched over, loved and cared for tenderly. He wondered if his father,
his ever busy father, would have liked that. Oh, why was it considered
better for a grandmother, one who had fancies, to live alone in a small
house, with every comfort it is true, but with no one of her very own
close beside her!

He looked over at Suzanna. She was walking close to Drusilla, and
talking earnestly as was her way. Suzanna never went out into the world
but some object started a train of thought of keen interest. He could
hear snatches of her talk. It was about the trees, stripped bare now,
and their mood sad probably because of their denudement. Suzanna gazed
with concern at their stark limbs stretching out, no longer able to
shelter people or to sing softly when the wind blew through their
leaves.

Drusilla contributed her share, too. She thought the trees knew that
people did not need shelter from the hot sun when the snow was about to
fly. And the snow could lie in such beautiful, straight lines on long,
unleaved limbs.

And so they passed on from subject to subject, while Graham listened.
And then little Daphne grew tired and began to lag. Graham seeing the
child and about to make some suggestion for her comfort, was distracted
by Peter's call. The boy had found a rabbit hole and wished he had Jerry
with him to reach the rabbit, for which cruel wish both Suzanna and
Maizie scolded him roundly. And he gazed at them with the same old
perplexed gaze. Were these not the same sisters who looked complacently
on while a homeless, helpless dog was turned out casually into an
inhuman world?

Well, again he gave up the puzzle of their contrary attitudes. Perhaps
understanding would come in the big-grown-up years.

But when they returned from examining the rabbit hole, they found little
Daphne had curled herself up at Drusilla's feet. Drusilla had moved a
little and the child hopping up on the foot-rest had put her small arms
on Drusilla's knee, dropped her head and gone to sleep. Suzanna
carefully covered her with part of the velvet rug.

So they started away again and came at last to a little lonely church
set back from the road. It was a quaint little edifice, made of
irregular purplish stone. The moss had crept up on one side softly,
protectingly. You thought at once it had been built by loving hands and
that loving souls had worshiped in it. And you knew that under its
assumed and momentary air of expectancy it was sad in having outlived
its usefulness. Its door was swung open hospitably and the children
stopped to look in. Graham wheeled his grandmother close to the door so
she too could gaze within.

There were pews, empty, with worn cushions. A large stained glass window
with one Figure, noble despite the artist's limitations, had caught
lights and sent them down in long sapphire and amethyst fingers. A man
moved about the altar, changing from place to place a vase of white
roses.

"Is that the minister?" whispered Maizie.

Suzanna nodded. "Yes. He's going to offer up prayer, I think."

The minister turned and smiled at the children. He seemed some way to
fit into the soft atmosphere of the place, seeming to belong there.
Suzanna could not fancy him moving in any merely practical environment.

And while the children lingered, and Drusilla looked in through the open
church door, a man and a woman came down the road. The woman walked
slowly and the man had his arm about her in a guarding kind of way.

When they neared the church they stopped. Suzanna, turning, recognized
them and with a joyful cry she ran to meet them.

"Oh, Miss Massey," she cried, "and Robert. Are you out for a walk, too?"

The man looked down at her. "Yes, little girl. We are going into that
old church. Did you see the minister?"

"Yes, he's inside," said Suzanna. She looked at Miss Massey. "You've
been crying," she said.

Miss Massey tried to speak calmly, but there was a little quiver in her
voice. "Because it's all so different from what I dreamed."

"Come, dear," said Robert then, "come with me."

She seemed to take courage from his manliness and the truth of his love
shining forth from his eyes, and so she put her hand into his and walked
up the path with him.

At the door of the church they paused again. Suzanna who had followed
quickly, said, "This is Drusilla, my very best friend."

Miss Massey looked into the sweet old face. Perhaps she thought of her
own mother, for the tears came quickly again. "I'm glad to know you,"
she said simply. And then asked, "Won't you come in and see me married?"

And Drusilla answered: "Indeed, I should like to very much, my dear."

So Robert helped her gently from the wheel chair. He lifted small Daphne
upon the vacated seat and tucked her in carefully. And then they all
entered the church.

The minister came down from the altar. He had lit two candles and they
sent their wavering light out upon the small audience. The Man above the
altar looked down with infinite tenderness upon the pale little bride.

The minister spoke: "Robert, take your bride upon your arm!"

Thus adjured, Robert proffered his arm and Miss Massey put her small
hand upon it. Then slowly they walked behind the minister to the altar.
Suzanna, Maizie, and Peter followed.

Graham offered his support to his grandmother. He had pledged his fealty
to her and he felt grateful that she leaned upon him as slowly she
mounted the four steps which led to the altar.

There they grouped themselves about the bridal pair. Graham stood close
to his grandmother, Suzanna near to Miss Massey, Peter and Maizie at
Robert's right hand.

The minister began: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together--"
and on through the beautiful old ceremony.

He came at length to this question: "Who giveth this woman to this man?"
and paused simply in custom. And old John Massey was far distant,
nursing his anger and yet sad, too, because he would not in his temper
attend the marriage of his daughter, though most lovingly and pleadingly
had that daughter begged his presence. And the girl's mother was lying
out on a hillside--where she had lain for many a long year.

And the waiting bride had tears in her heart, till, suddenly, Drusilla,
with a beautiful light in her eyes, stepped forward. She put her
white-veined old hand softly on the bride's arm, and she said in a low
clear voice:

"I do--I give this woman to this man."

And the mother spirit in her spoke so richly that the bride all at once
felt happy and a little awed, too, as though her own mother had for the
moment raised herself and spoken.

And the minister went on with the ceremony till came the end: "And I
pronounce that they are Man and Wife."

And Robert folded his wife in his arms and kissed her while each face,
young and old, pictured the deep solemnity of the moment.

Robert's wife at last turned to Drusilla. She put her arms about the
bravely upstanding figure in its old-fashioned dolman. "Oh, thank you,
thank you," she murmured. "I shall never forget what you've done for me
today."

The color flowed like a wave up over Drusilla's face. With a quick
little breath, she leaned forward and kissed the new wife. She
experienced a sudden glow. It was as though Life for the moment,
forgetful that she was old and laid aside, had called her forward to
fill a need no other was near to fill.

They all left the church after Robert had signed his name in a big book,
and his wife had written hers with a proud little flourish. Robert
helped Drusilla into the wheel chair, after lifting Daphne from her
place on the upholstered cushion. This time the little girl awoke. She
was about to cry when Robert raised her in his arms and carried her down
the road, hushing her against him, while Graham again ordered himself
his grandmother's squire.

And so they went down the road together, all somewhat quiet, even
Peter's exuberant spirits moderated, till they reached Drusilla's home.
The maid, Letty, awaiting her mistress' return, ran down the steps, an
anxious frown between her eyes.

"Come," said Drusilla. "You must all be my guests." She whispered some
words in Letty's ear. The girl smiled and half shyly glanced at Robert
and his bride.

Robert still carrying little Daphne, who had refused to be put down,
said at once: "We should like that very much. I was so hoping you would
ask us."

So they entered the little house. They went into the parlor with its
portrait above the mantel and the lilies of the valley beneath it.
Graham remembered with a little warm feeling that his father had once
left the order at a city florist's for a daily spray of those lovely
bells.

Letty, carrying the dolman and small bonnet, disappeared but in a
miraculously short time returned to announce that tea was ready in the
dining-room.

Drusilla flushed and happy led the way. Robert and his wife followed,
and the children came last. The hostess, from her place at the head of
the table, designated each one's chair, and when all were seated she
bowed her head and offered up a little prayer.

And then Letty brought in hot muffins and marmalade, sweet butter and
fragrant tea. And amidst much laughter and merry words the feast began:

And at the end Drusilla rose, and asking silence, said:

"Robert, today in the name of the bride's mother, I gave her into your
keeping. I can see a promise in your eyes that she will never, never
regret going to you. Love her always."

And Robert, standing, in a deep voice answered: "Drusilla," borrowing
quite unconsciously Suzanna's way of name, "Drusilla, I have taken upon
myself this day the great responsibility of a woman's happiness--" he
paused and bent a look of ineffable tenderness upon his wife--"and
please God I shall keep that responsibility while life lasts."

And they all pushed back their chairs, the children with a little
scraping noise. And Robert looking at his watch thought it was time to
leave, since the train would not wait for laggards.

Then all in a moment it seemed he was going down the path again, his
wife upon his arm. And Graham, who had disappeared kitchenward, returned
and flung a handful of rice after them. At which the bride turned and
laughed and waved her hand.

"It was a real wedding, wasn't it, Drusilla?" said Suzanna, "even to the
rice."

"A real wedding, my little girl," said Drusilla.

Graham spoke: "Grandmother, aren't you glad I wheeled you out today?"

She answered at once. "So very glad, Graham. And I feel happier tonight
than for many a long day."

"And may I do so again soon?" he asked. "And next summer I'll take you
out every day."

A little smile touched her lips. "Next summer--next summer--? Ah,
laddie, come often this winter, if you can."

And then the children started away. And at the last moment Drusilla drew
Suzanna to her. "Little girl," she said lovingly, "I'm so glad you came
once to visit me--that summer day."

"Oh, so am I, Drusilla," Suzanna cried. She looked wistfully into her
friend's face. "Some day I want to do something wonderful for you."

Drusilla, bending low, kissed the upturned face with its big seeking
eyes. But she did not speak. For why make definite by clumsy words the
miracles a little child brings to pass. No, thought Drusilla in her
wisdom, Suzanna should go her way beautifully unconscious of her good
works.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE EAGLE MAN VISITS THE ATTIC


A few Saturdays after the marriage in the little wayside church, Richard
Procter reached home in a state of great excitement.

The family was in the dining-room. Mrs. Procter was polishing the
drinking glasses. Though it was long past noon, Suzanna had just
commenced to clear away the luncheon dishes. Maizie was shaking napkins,
while Peter was in a corner pretending to play ball with the baby, very
much to the baby's amusement.

Mr. Procter told his news triumphantly.

"At last," he cried. "Jane, John Massey is absolutely coming to see the
machine this afternoon."

The color flashed up into Mrs. Procter's face.

"Oh, Richard," she cried; "perhaps--" but she did not finish her
conjecture.

"He won't take The Machine away, will he, father?" Suzanna asked
anxiously.

"No, not that particular one, little girl. There'll have to be others
built. That is just the model."

At two o'clock Mr. Procter was in the attic working at the machine. At
three, so interested had he grown, that he had really forgotten the
expected visit of old John Massey. So it was a real surprise when Mrs.
Procter ushered him in.

"Well, I'm here at last," said Mr. Massey. He looked over to where the
cabinet stood. "Your machine is rather mysterious looking."

"Does it seem so? Here, lay your hat and coat on this table, Mr. Massey.
Now I'll explain the purpose of the machine."

"Yes, that's what I'm most interested in, what it's for; what you expect
to do with it."

Richard Procter turned an eager face to the capitalist.

"I'll start at the beginning," he said. "Have you ever stopped to think
what would mean the greatest happiness to humanity?"

Mr. Massey coughed and moved uneasily. "Can't say I have. Food and drink
sufficient for all, so I've heard your orator across the street
announce."

Mr. Procter smiled. "That, yes, might bring content, but I'm speaking of
spiritual happiness. Well, this is my idea of what would bring about a
revolution in the sum total of world content. _Each man at the work he
was born to do._

"And having once reached that conclusion, I set about formulating plans
for the building of my machine. An instrument so delicate that it could
register a man's leading talent."

Mr. Massey moved away a little. He stared doubtfully at the inventor
before the clearing thought came. Before him stood a madman, a wild
visionary.

He looked over at his hat and coat. To stay was a mere waste of time, he
realized that now. Still, there was Suzanna who had made a place for
herself in his gruff old heart. The machine, he knew, could have no
commercial value. Yet he remembered a few of Suzanna's values which were
not based on the possession of money.

Well, for Suzanna's sake he would listen, go away and forget. So he
seated himself, and waited condescendingly for the inventor to continue.
He himself said nothing, for silence, he had learned, was golden.

Mr. Procter went on. "My first step in the work was to evolve what might
be termed a system of color interpretation."

"I don't understand at all," said old John Massey sharply.

The inventor hesitated. Visionary, he might truly be called, but, too,
he was sensitive and he had felt the capitalist's withdrawal as soon as
the purpose of the machine was explained to him. But the end was a big
one. He must not hesitate, so he went on.

"May I put it broadly without arousing your derision, that color sight
was bestowed upon me. Just as my little girl Suzanna visualizes each day
as a shape, so I've always seen people in color; that out of that sight
I built my own science of color."

"_Romance_ of color, you mean," returned John Massey harshly, "for so
far as I can gain, there is no science about it. I deal in facts, Mr.
Procter, not in air castles. Does the machine do anything, but stand
there a silent monument to your dreams?"

Mr. Procter hesitated but a moment, then, "Come, Mr. Massey," he said,
"take your place. Let us see what the machine says of you. Remember,
please, it will register only your truest meaning, the purpose for which
you were born; the part of you which never dies, which is never really
submerged, regardless of a turning to false gods."

A little uneasy despite himself, Mr. Massey seated himself before the
machine.

The inventor touched levers, opened and shut doors, lowered the helmet,
adjusted the lens.

As the clicking sound commenced Mr. Massey stirred. "Keep very quiet,"
said the inventor, "and watch the glass plate."

Mr. Massey obeyed. Now a satiric smile touched his lips. He was almost
enjoying this child's play.

But soon the smile faded, for in a moment there grew upon the glass
plate standing between the two tubes a pillar of color, vivid yellow,
tipped with primrose.

"What--what does that mean?" asked old John Massey.

The inventor lifted the helmet, and shut off his power before speaking.
"According to my belief, my understanding of color significance, the
reason for your being in this world, with, of course, interesting
variations brought about by environment and education, is identical with
that of Reynolds."

Mr. Massey started forward angrily, but he thought better of whatever he
had in his heart to say. "Go on," he commanded gruffly.

"As a young man you had dreams of being a practical humanitarian," said
Mr. Procter softly, "and undoubtedly with your opportunity you might
have been a valuable figure in the world. You were endowed with vision.
You saw the wrongs man labors under; as a youth you smarted because of
those wrongs. And you saw the super-being man might become given equal
chances."

"Like Reynolds--" repeated Mr. Massey after a time, on impulse--one
immediately regretted.

"Like Reynolds, our great rough, fine-hearted Reynolds," said Mr.
Procter, "the one whom you've had threatened with arrest because he
harangued too freely on the street corner." He paused to finish
impressively: "I see now that the man who throws away his spiritual
birthright for a mess of pottage hates the one who keeps his in the face
of all--poverty--misunderstanding--ridicule."

A silence dark as a cavern ensued. Mr. Massey at last got to his feet.
He stood a long moment looking at the machine, then he glanced at the
inventor, but when someone knocked softly at the door he started,
revealing how far away from his immediate surroundings his thoughts had
flown.

Suzanna entered. "Here's David, daddy," she said. "He wants to talk with
you."

David entered. "I had some time," he said, "and I wanted to see the
machine again."

"Glad to see you," said the inventor heartily. "Mr. Massey, this is my
friend, David Ridgewood, Graham Woods Bartlett's gardener."

"How do you do, Mr. Massey," said David. "I've seen you before, of
course. Heard of you often."

John Massey did not answer at once, since he was somewhat at a loss. He
had not been in the habit of meeting socially his friends' gardeners. At
last he blurted forth.

"How d' do. I've had a look at Procter's invention."

"Ah, yes, I supposed so," said David. Then: "Isn't the thought back of
that machine wonderful?" Which ridiculous question quickened again all
the Eagle Man's combativeness. He spoke with a fine candor.

"The thought may be wonderful, young man. I'll not pass on that. But
plainly I can't see where the commercial value of the machine comes in."

David and Suzanna fell back from the cloud which gathered on the
inventor's face.

"The commercial value!" he cried. "Have I spent my life working merely
that the capitalist may make more money? I tell you, sir, that I have
worked only for the betterment of the race. And to you, John Massey, I
am giving the great opportunity."

"Well, out with it. Where's the great opportunity?" asked Mr. Massey
testily. "To my mind you haven't an article with a wide enough appeal."

"Wide enough appeal!" cried the inventor. "My dear sir, it has an appeal
world-wide, and you are to make it of such appeal." He paused to
continue impressively: "John Massey, I offer you the opportunity of
endowing an institution which shall be built to use my machine. To that
institution young men of impecunious parents may come to discover their
leading talent."

"If there is a leading talent, will it take your machine to discover
it?" asked John Massey.

"In most cases, yes. How many young men fail to discover until too late
what life work they are best fitted for, unless they possess a talent so
strong that it amounts to genius. How many of necessity are sent out
into the world at an unformed age to slavery in order that they and
their dependents may live. What chance or time have they, grinding away
at any work which brings a dollar, to know for what work they are most
suited. They know only when it is too late that they are bound by
chains, crucifying themselves daily at tasks they hate, and for which
they have no natural adaptation."

He paused, only to continue with fire: "Or, if they have ambitions, know
what they would best like to do, how helpless they are. No money, no
opportunity."

"I'll warrant, Mr. Massey," put in David, "that there are many men
employed in your steel mills who by natural inclination are totally
unfitted for their jobs. Now, wouldn't scientific investigation in their
early manhood have helped to find for them the right place and so added
to their happiness?"

"Well, I'm not interested in that part of the question; their happiness
has nothing to do with me," returned John Massey. "I pay 'em their wages
and that's enough. And I don't believe that every man is born with a
special talent. They all look alike to me mostly."

"Every man is born with the capacity to do something in a way impossible
to another," said the inventor with conviction. "There are no two
persons alike in the world."

John Massey smiled. He really now felt that he was being entertained.
Such another rare specimen as this inventor with his ridiculous
contentions would be hard to find. So he said pleasantly: "And after the
machine has recorded its findings, what then?"

"Then you, and other men like you who have accumulated fortunes--"

"Stop!" cried the capitalist. "Let me finish for you. After the machine
has done its work, I'm to have the privilege of paying for the
professional education or trade of these same impecunious young men."

"Exactly, sir. The institution you endow might be called the Temple of
Natural Ability Appraisement. There the poor in money, but the rich in
ambition may come; there the fumblers, the indecisive, may come to be
put to a test. Ah, yours can be a great work."

"A great opportunity for you, Mr. Massey," emphasized David, the
gardener. "I envy you."

"You'd help out, wouldn't you, Eagle Man?" Suzanna now cried with
perfect faith in his good will. "You see, you'd have to when you
remembered that there's a little silver chain stretching from your wrist
to everybody else's in the world. It must be rubber-plated, I guess."

"What do you mean?" asked the Eagle Man, involuntarily casting his
glance down to his wrist, his flow of satire dammed.

"That's what Drusilla told me; we all belong. And you can't do something
mean without breaking the chain that binds you to somebody else."

"Ah, my dear," said the Eagle Man, letting his hand fall upon her bright
hair, "you belong to a family of impossible visionaries." He looked
over at Suzanna's father, and his face suddenly grew crimson. "Were you
in earnest, Procter," he cried, "when you told me in Doane's hardware
store that your machine meant a big opportunity to me--were you
jesting?"

"Jesting! Why, I've pointed out your opportunity, plainly."

"Shown me how I can throw a fortune away!"

After a moment Mr. Procter replied: "We speak in different languages. By
opportunity you can see only a chance to make more money."

"Any other sane person makes the same guess," Mr. Massey replied.

The inventor's face grew sad. He had dreamed of John Massey's response,
a dream built on sand, as perhaps he should have known. But hope eternal
sprang in his heart, and the belief that every man wished the best for
his brother.

The silence continued. To break it Mr. Massey turned to David.

"Your friend seems to think he has but to put before me the need for
charity and I shall thank him effusively."

David spoke slowly: "My friend should have known better. He forgot, I
suppose, your slums where you house your mill hands."

"What do you mean by that?" Mr. Massey began, when an exclamation from
Suzanna, who was standing at the window, turned his attention there.

"See, there's a big fire over behind the big field," she cried
excitedly. "Oh, look at the flames! The poor, poor people!"

David sprang to the window. "It's over in the huddled district," he
cried. A fierce light sprang to his eyes. "Where most of your men live
with their families, John Massey. I wonder how many will escape."



CHAPTER XIX

SUZANNA PUTS A REQUEST


In that devastating fire which swept out of existence the entire
tenement district of Anchorville two were lost, never to be heard of
again, parents of a twain of children, a boy of four and a girl of
three.

Mrs. Procter, finding the mites wandering away from the smoking ruins,
had at once taken them home with her, fed them, found clothes for them,
and rocked the tired little girl to sleep.

"Are we going to keep them forever, mother?" Maizie asked one afternoon
about two weeks after the fire. No one had put in a claim for the
children; they were homeless, friendless. What was to be done with them?
Mrs. Procter had turned with loathing from the thought of the orphanage.

She stood at Maizie's question in deep perplexity. She could not turn
the children away or put them in an institution--and yet, how could she
care for them? There was the very definite problem of extra clothes and
food to be found out of an income already stretched to its utmost.

"They haven't a home any more, have they, mother?" Suzanna asked, the
while her earnest eyes searched her mother's face. "So we should do unto
others as we'd be done by, shouldn't we?"

A vague memory returned to Mrs. Procter. What was it Suzanna had once
said? "Mrs. Procter cuddles all children in her heart." And Suzanna and
Maizie stood watching her, asking a literal translation of a principle
laid down for man's guidance.

"We'll see what can be done," Mrs. Procter answered finally. And then
she continued very carefully: "You see, it isn't only a question of
giving these little ones a home, but they must be clothed and fed and
educated, and we haven't a great deal of money."

"So many of those poor people haven't any homes any more, have they?"
asked Suzanna. Her eyes suddenly filled with tears of pity. She looked
out of the window. The sun was shining brightly. And to be in keeping
with the suffering about them, Suzanna wished it would hide behind a
cloud. It seemed the day itself, to be in sympathy, should be dark,
depressed, altogether gloomy.

Her mother answered: "It's providential in a manner that those unsightly
cottages were swept away; but they meant homes for many poor souls; and
all that they possessed was contained in those homes."

Suzanna's ingenious mind settled itself to work on the problem of the
bereft ones. She was no longer thinking of the two little orphans, but
of the many troubled people. If only her home were large enough to
accommodate them all! Her thoughts in natural sequence ran to the Eagle
Man and his beautiful place, but she immediately rejected the idea. She
feared he might not listen kindly to the plan of lending his home even
as a temporary abode for the stricken. Had he not been a little unkind
about her father's wonderful Machine?

Suddenly she remembered Bartlett Villa, and with the memory came a
thousand thoughts. Impulsively she donned hat and coat, spoke a word to
her mother and was off.

In a very short time, for she ran nearly all the way, she reached
Bartlett Villa. She pushed open the big iron gate leading into the
grounds, and stopped short, for there to the left, near a closed
fountain, stood Graham. He was talking to a tall man whose back was
toward Suzanna. About the two, in seeming happiness, played Jerry.

Graham cried out when he saw Suzanna. She went quickly to him. Then the
man looked down at her and smiled. Suzanna decided that she liked him,
but she wished his smile was more of a real one, one that should light
his face. She did not know the word, but he looked, despite his smile,
cynical, rather weary. Yes, she knew she should like him, for in some
indefinite way he reminded her of her father. Was it the brown, rather
nearsighted eyes? Surely they were keen, yet behind their keenness dwelt
a softness; perhaps he, too, once had cherished a vision.

Graham greeted her demonstratively. "And this is my father, Suzanna," he
said. "I've told him a lot about you."

"Yes, I know a great deal about you, Suzanna," said Mr. Bartlett; "and
David has told me of your father's invention and what he expects to do
some day with it."

Suzanna's face kindled. "Yes, my father's a great man," she said,
simply.

Then she turned to Graham: "I came to talk to you about something very
important. I was going to ask you afterwards to speak to your father
about my plan."

"I may hear, then?" said Mr. Bartlett. "Shall we go on into the house?
There's a little chill in the air."

So they walked toward the great house, leaving Jerry rather
disconsolate. Suzanna, looking up at Mr. Bartlett, said: "I've been here
twice and I've never seen you."

"My business takes me often to different cities," he replied.

They entered the house and went into a small room at the left of the
wide hall. It was lovely, Suzanna decided, done all in soft gray, except
the curtains at the window, which were of amber silk, hanging in heavy
folds. Yes, very charming, Suzanna emphasized to herself. She liked
particularly the one picture on the wall, showing a group of horses,
heads high in the air, full of fire. Suzanna could see them move, she
believed.

"Sit down there, Suzanna, in that high-backed chair and tell us what you
have to say that's so important," suggested Mr. Bartlett.

"I'm crazy to hear all about it, Suzanna," supplemented Graham. He
settled himself in anticipation, for Suzanna was always intensely
interesting.

Suzanna seated herself. A quaint little figure she was, her fine head
thrown in relief against the gray satin of the chair. "You know," she
began, "there's been a fire."

"A bully big one," said Graham.

Suzanna turned her dark eyes upon the boy. "It was a big one, and maybe
fun to watch," she said, "but it burned all the people's homes. We've
got two little children, at our house. We could never find their father
and mother."

Mr. Bartlett, occupying the corner of a lounge, shifted uneasily.
Evidently to put forth truths so baldly was inartistic.

"My mother says it was--I can't think of the word--but she meant it was
lucky those cottages were burned down; they were so dirty." Suzanna went
on: "And babies played in the yards in ashes and old papers. I always
hurried past when I went that way because something stopped inside of
me, I felt so sorry for those babies." Suzanna paused. "I just thought
as we walked up your front path how different everything is here; your
front yard is so clean, and there's so much room!"

She stopped again. She wished Mr. Bartlett would speak. He must guess
now all that she meant to convey to him; all she would ask of him.

But still he didn't answer. "The Eagle Man owned those houses," she said
at last.

"The Eagle Man?" Mr. Bartlett roused himself at last. "Who is the Eagle
Man?"

"Mr. Massey other people call him. The Eagle Man's my own private name
for him."

Graham knew his father was heavily interested in the Massey Steel Mills.
But he did not speak.

"You know, it's an awful fine feeling you get when you're doing
something for strangers," Suzanna pressed on. "Some way you don't feel
so excited when you're doing something for your very own family."

But she was doomed to disappointment. A continued silence still greeted
her words. "When people work for you isn't it as though you were their
father or their big brother and had to help them when they needed it?"
she asked, at length.

"Well, it's a new thought that you owe anything to the men who work for
you except their wages," said Mr. Bartlett at last.

"Why, Drusilla told me that everyone in the world has a little silver
chain running from his wrist to his next friend's wrist; it stretches
when you run--a fellowship link my father named it when I told him. And
the chain runs from my wrist to your wrist and from yours to every other
wrist in the world." She leaned closer, finishing earnestly. "And
Drusilla says if you break your chain you're really a slave."

"Very interesting," commented Mr. Bartlett.

"Yes, isn't it?" agreed Suzanna. She returned tenaciously to her
subject. "There are many homeless families who weren't welcome where
they had to go after the fire. Mary Holmes says her mother took in four
people and she says as long as they stay there'll have to be stews, for
in that way a pound of meat goes further, and Mary just hates stews."

"Well, what is your suggestion of a remedy, Suzanna?" asked Mr.
Bartlett. At which question, though put in words beyond her, Suzanna's
eyes brightened. She caught the sense unerringly and answered promptly.

"Why, I thought _you_ could do something. You have so much room." And
then the solution came, out of the sky as often answers came when you
didn't expect them. "Why, you could put tents up in your big yards for
the homeless people, till their own homes are built again."

Mr. Bartlett was greatly amused. "You ask such a little thing, Suzanna."

"Yes, isn't it, seeing it'll help out so much?" Suzanna returned
innocently.

Graham rose and went close to his father. "Father," he said, "who's
going to build the new homes for the poor people?"

His father answered: "I don't know, I'm sure; but I should think it old
John Massey's duty to do so."

"Father," asked Graham, after a pause given over to thought and drawing
on his memory for what vague facts he knew of his father's business, "if
you take less money for your interests in the mill and if you speak to
him, do you suppose Mr. Massey would begin at once to build those
homes?" His young face was quite white with earnestness and other new
emotions struggling up to the surface.

Mr. Bartlett looked from one small face to the other. He smiled grimly.
They could see nothing but the humanness of a situation, the need
existing. Going against all precedent meant nothing to them; they simply
followed ridiculous altruistic impulses. Only in their minds was the
knowledge that other people were suffering; and the immediate necessity
for relief.

He let his hand fall upon his son's shoulder. "How about the trip
abroad, Graham?" There was an under meaning in his question which Graham
got at once. His face lit.

"I'd rather help out here, father, and give up the trip. I really
would."

Mr. Bartlett remained quiet for a long time again. In some mysterious
manner he was now for almost the first time looking upon his son as an
individual, one with opinions and the power of criticism. And there
grew in his heart the very fervent desire to stand well in that son's
estimation. He looked at Suzanna and envied her father. How proudly, how
simply she had said, "He is a great man!"

But when he spoke, he reverted to a name used a moment before by
Suzanna, a name he knew well.

"Who's your very philosophic friend, Suzanna--Drusilla, you called her."

Suzanna's eyes shone. "Drusilla? She's my special friend. She lives in a
little house on the forked road. She's pretty and sweet and she has
fancies, like children. She plays sometimes she's a queen. But she's
lonely. She gave Miss Massey to Robert in the little church. And she has
no one in all the world left to call her by her first name. So I call
her Drusilla and she loves it."

Graham did not stir. Neither did he look at his father till Suzanna,
suddenly remembering, cried out:

"Why, Drusilla's Graham's grandmother!"

Mr. Bartlett's face suddenly went very white. He didn't speak for a long
time. Then he rose and went to the window, drew back the silken curtain
and stared out.

Suzanna wondered if he would ever move again! At the moment he was far
away. He was a boy again at his mother's knee, listening to that
fanciful conception of the little silver chain that stretched so far.
There rushed in on him, too, other memories, blinding ones that hurt.
True, every day at the little house a spray of lilies of the valley were
delivered; but with that impersonal gift which cost him nothing but the
drawing of a check he had dismissed his mother from his busy mind,
letting her stay in loneliness, live in old dreams.

A soft little swish was heard at the door and Mrs. Bartlett entered the
room. She stopped in some consternation at sight of the silent trio
within.

"Why, what is the matter?" she asked, impulsively.

Mr. Bartlett turned from the window. He looked at his wife, steadily
regarded her beautiful face and bronze-colored hair piled high upon her
small and regal head. His gaze sought the soft, white hands, the tapered
fingers with pink and shining nails.

At last he spoke, very quietly, but each word seemed weighed: "'And in
the morning there shall tents suddenly arise.' A quotation from
somewhere, my dear, but it shall come true here."

She turned a cold gaze upon him. "Will you explain what you mean?" she
asked.

"There are a few homeless people in Anchorville; their homes laid waste
by a fire," he said, pleasantly. "This small messenger has suggested
that we make use of our ample grounds for a time by putting up tents,
for a time, I say, till more substantial abiding places may be built."

She clenched her hands. "You can't do that, Graham," she began, a note
of entreaty in her voice; "you can't possibly be so absurdly quixotic."

"And why not?"

"I can't understand!" she repeated. "Such philanthropic ideas have not
occurred to you before."

He went to her, standing so he could look into her eyes. "It's late in
the day, but I'll try to do some little thing my mother would like me to
do."

Mrs. Bartlett was about to speak again in burning protest when her
glance fell upon the children, Suzanna and her own boy. And the eloquent
expressions upon those small faces kept her silent. At last she turned
as though to leave the room. Over her shoulder she spoke.

"At least you will not insist upon my presence here while you fulfill
your preposterous plans?"

He replied gently: "As always, I ask nothing that you cannot give in
perfect freedom."

She hesitated, was about to say something, stopped and took another
subject: "As for your mother--"

He interrupted her, but to repeat "As for my mother--" but he left his
thought unfinished.

Then he, too, went toward the door, and as he passed Suzanna he let his
fine, nervous hand touch her bright hair. Once he turned. "Suzanna, as I
told you," he said, "David, my fine gardener, has interested me somewhat
in your father's machine; perhaps I'll make a journey to your home some
day to see it."



CHAPTER XX

DRUSILLA SETS OUT ON A JOURNEY


When Suzanna, returning home on wings, opened the front door, she heard
voices in the kitchen. And there, as she entered, she saw Mrs. Reynolds
engaged in reading aloud the directions on a paper pattern. Suzanna,
full of her story, waited almost impatiently until Mrs. Reynolds had
finished.

Then she burst forth: "Oh, mother, Graham Bartlett's father's going to
make tent homes in his yard for the poor people."

Mrs. Procter, leaning over the kitchen table, selected a pin from an
ornate pin cushion and inserted it carefully in the pattern under her
hand before turning an incredulous eye upon her daughter.

"It's for his mother's sake," continued Suzanna, who had grasped the
spiritual meaning of Mr. Bartlett's offer.

Mrs. Reynolds was the first to voice her surprise. "Why, that man, to my
knowledge, has never taken any real interest in anything. Reynolds says
he just draws big dividends out of the mill, runs about from one
interest to another, and cares really naught for anyone."

"Oh, but he's very kind, Mrs. Reynolds," Suzanna objected. "As soon as
he knew his yards were too big to waste and that his mother would love
to have him do good, he told his wife he meant to put up tents till new
homes were built."

Mrs. Procter cast a knowing look above Suzanna's head. Mrs. Reynolds
caught it and sent back a tender smile. "Out of the mouths of babes,"
she began, when Maizie entered. In her tow were the two shy little
orphans.

Maizie spoke at once to Mrs. Reynolds. "I knew you were still here, Mrs.
Reynolds," she said; "I can always tell your funny laugh."

Mrs. Reynolds laughed again. "Well, little girl," she said, "did you
want something from me?"

Maizie nodded vigorously. Her face was very stern. "Yes, please," she
answered. "I want you to take these bad orphans home with you. They're
cross and hateful and I don't want them to stay here any more."

The two orphans stood downcast, the small boy holding tight to his
sister's hand, listening in silence to their arraignment. Mrs. Procter,
shocked, interposed: "Why, Maizie, Maizie girl!"

But Maizie went on. "You can't be kind to them; they won't let you. And
I had to slap the girl orphan."

The one alluded to thrust her small fist in her eye. Her slight body
shook with sobs. Suzanna's heart was moved. She addressed her sister
vigorously. "That isn't the way to treat people who are _weary_ and
_homeless_, Maizie Procter," she began. "_You_ ought to be kindest in
the whole world to sorry ones!"

Maizie paused. She understood perfectly her sister's reference. "When
the Man with the halo picked you out of everybody and smiled on you, you
ought to be good to all little children that He loves," pursued Suzanna.

"Not to little children who won't play and who won't be kind," said
Maizie. But her voice was low. She turned half reluctantly to the
orphans and looked steadily at them, as though trying to produce in
herself a warmer glow for them.

They did not stir under the look. "But naughty children have to be made
good even if you have to slap them, Suzanna," said Maizie pleadingly.

"But not by you, Maizie," said Suzanna; "you never can slap or be cross.
I have a bad temper and sometimes get mad. But because of what you are
_You_ always have to be loving and kind."

Awe crept into Maizie's eyes. It was a great moment for her, little
child that she was. She was to remember all her days that she was as one
set apart to be loving and kind. She gazed solemnly back at Suzanna, as
she dwelt upon the miraculous truth of her heritage.

At last Maizie turned. "Mrs. Reynolds," she said, "our Suzanna once
adopted herself out to you, didn't she?"

Mrs. Reynolds bestowed a soft look upon Suzanna. "She did that, the
lamb, and often enough I've thought of that day."

"You liked her for your little girl because you haven't any of your
own?" pursued Maizie.

Mrs. Reynolds nodded, and Maizie sighed her relief.

"Well, then, we'll adopt these orphans out to you, Mrs. Reynolds. I'm
sorry for them now, and I know I ought to be kind to them, but it will
be easier for me if you have them. I think you'd be awfully happy with
two real children of your very own."

No one spoke. The little boy, laggard usually in movement, looked up
quickly at Mrs. Reynolds. He knew that Maizie found it difficult to be
patient with him, and that therefore she was offering him and his
sister to the kind-looking lady.

"We like them pretty well, but we'd rather you'd have them," Maizie went
on generously but with unswerving purpose. "And till you get used to
children I'll come over every day and wash and dress them."

Mrs. Reynolds' face was growing pinker and pinker. She continued gazing
at the boy and the girl, and from them back to Suzanna, her favorite.
But whatever emotions surged through her she found for the moment no
words to express them. At last she spoke in a whimsical way.

"It's not much you're asking, little girl, to take and raise and educate
two growing children on Reynolds' wages." And then she blushed furiously
and glanced half apologetically at Mrs. Procter. For what, indeed, was
Mrs. Procter's work? With superb defiance toward mathematical rules, she
was daily engaged in proving that though those rules contended that two
and two make four, if you have backbone and ingenuity two and two make
five, and could by stretching be compelled to make six.

"I must be going," said Mrs. Reynolds. She gathered up carefully the
paper pattern, folded its long length into several pieces, opened her
hand bag and thrust the small package within. "Thank you for your help,
Mrs. Procter. I think I can manage nicely now," she said, as she snapped
the bag together.

Mrs. Procter repeated the conversation to her husband that evening, as,
the children in bed, they sat together in the little parlor. "And it
might be the most wonderful happening in the world, both for the poor
children and for Mrs. Reynolds," said Mrs. Procter.

Mr. Procter did not answer. His wife, watching him keenly, realized that
he was troubled. She put down her sewing. "Tell me, Richard, what's gone
wrong," she said.

He hesitated, caught her hand, held it tight. "I might as well tell you,
dear. John Massey has bought out Job Doane's hardware shop."

"Bought him out?"

"Yes. No one seems to know why. He paid a good price and he'll probably
sell again. I don't know, I'm sure."

He pressed his hand wearily to his head. "What's to be done, dear?
What's to be done? There's no other opening for me in Anchorville."

She rallied to help him as always. "At least we'll not meet trouble till
it's full upon us. There's always some way found."

And, as always, he brightened beneath her touch, let hope spring again
within his heart. "Shall you work upstairs tonight?" she asked, knowing
that companionship with his beloved machine closed his mind to other
matters.

"If you will come upstairs with me," he said. "Can you leave your
mending? I want you close by."

She felt strongly and joyously his need of her. "I will come," she said.

They were on the way upstairs, treading carefully that the lightest
sleeper, Suzanna, might not be awakened, when the hurried peal came at
the front door. They stopped. "Go on to the attic," said Mrs. Procter;
"it's perhaps Mrs. Reynolds come to borrow something," so Mr. Procter
went on. Mrs. Procter ran lightly down.

She opened the front door to David. Near him stood Graham and behind,
his tail wagging furiously, Peter's dog, Jerry. David began at once.

"Mr. Bartlett's mother was taken ill suddenly. Mr. Bartlett is with her.
She is begging to see the little Suzanna."

"Come in," said Mrs. Procter, flinging the door wide. And as they
entered and stood all three in the hall, the dog feeling himself now in
his new character as welcome as his human companions, she finished:
"Suzanna's asleep."

"My father wished greatly you would allow Suzanna to go to my
grandmother, though it is late," put in Graham.

"Could she be awakened?" asked David. And by the expression in his eyes
Mrs. Procter understood that this wish of Drusilla's should not be
denied.

The dog, feeling entreaty in the air, sat down and raised his voice. It
was a penetrative voice, too, filling the house with its echoes, echoes
that scarcely died away before a soft call came:

"Mother--mother--"

Mrs. Procter smiled at David. "There, Suzanna is awake. Jerry
accomplished what he wished. I'll go upstairs and dress her quickly."

So it was that the little girl flushed, starry-eyed, appeared with her
mother a little later. Her dramatic senses were alert. "Isn't it lovely
and important," she began at once to David, "that Drusilla wants to see
me when it's away into the night?"

"Very important," said David, but he did not smile. "Are you quite ready
now?"

"Yes," said Suzanna and slipped her hand within Graham's. "Are you going
too, Graham?"

"Yes. David's driving the light cart."

The night was cool, but there were big rugs in the cart. David bundled
Suzanna up till only her vivid face looked out. As they went swiftly she
gazed up at the stars and the soft dark sky. She loved the night
fragrances, and the rustle of the dead leaves as lazy little winds
stirred them.

They came very soon to Drusilla's home. David alighted, unwound Suzanna,
lifted her down to the ground very carefully, Graham following slowly.
David tied his horse, gave the animal a comradely pat, bade the dog
remain in the cart, and then the three went on to the house. The door
opened immediately for them, a light streaming out from within. The
sweet-faced maid, Letty, who had been crying, ushered them in.

"I'll wait downstairs," said David.

Letty nodded, and with the children went upstairs.

They stopped when they reached the open doorway of Drusilla's bedroom.
And seated in a big velvet chair, as usual drawn near the window, though
the shade was pulled straight down, pillows heaped all about her, sat
Drusilla. Her face seemed small, oh, pitiably small, with bright eyes
quite too large for their place. But someway Suzanna, looking in, knew
that Drusilla was happy.

Perhaps because, kneeling beside her, his head buried in her lap, was
her son.

Her thin fingers strayed through his hair, and her tremulous voice
murmured to him just as it had when as a very small, very penitent boy
he had knelt in the same way, sure of her understanding, very, very sure
of her love.

The picture remained for the moment, then the man kneeling, stirred and
rose to his feet. He stood looking down at his mother, till impelled by
a sound in the doorway he turned and saw the children.

They came forward then into the softly lighted room.

"Drusilla!" Suzanna cried, going straight to the frail figure seated in
the velvet chair. "You wanted to see me, didn't you?"

"I did that, little girl," Drusilla answered. "I wanted to tell you that
the land of sunshine and love is close at hand where I shall meet my
king and be parted no more."

"And where you'll reign queen?" cried Suzanna, delighted.

The old head flung itself up; the faded eyes blazed; the frail figure
straightened itself. "Ay, queen!" She turned to Graham, who had
approached and stood regarding her, his boyish face agleam with love and
a little longing, and a little sadness, for he knew better than Suzanna
the great change at hand. "Who stands there?" she asked.

He answered at once: "A courtier, my Queen."

She smiled. "Approach closer then," she said with a wave of her hand.
But her eyes were on Suzanna. "My favorite princess," she said softly,
letting her hand fall upon the small head. "She came first one day when
the flowers were all in color. She listened to me, and believed my
stories of the land where I once dwelt--with my king and my young
prince, who afterwards forgot me."

A sob came from the throat of the man standing near. He buried his face
in his hands. A white-clad nurse came tiptoeing in, looked at her
patient, nodded reassuringly and went out again.

"I knew you were a queen, Drusilla," said Suzanna, "because you were so
beautiful, and so haughty." She leaned forward till her young face was
very close to the old fading one. "And you told me something that day
about the chain that binds everybody in the world to everyone else.
I've never forgotten that. I've told lots of people about it."

"Yes, yes, I remember."

"And I told that story to the Eagle Man, and to Graham's father, and
he's going to have tents put up in his yard for some poor people who
have no homes, for your sake, Drusilla."

The frail figure suddenly fell back. "_Drusilla!_ Who calls me that?"
The pale lips trembled. "Many, many years have gone since I heard that
name."

The man cried out: "Mother dear--_Mother dear_!"

She turned her eyes upon him. The light of recognition slowly returned
to them. "My boy," she said gently. "Come, sit beside me. All three. The
little girl who loves me, and you and your child, my grandson."

So they settled themselves, all at her knee. "Mother, dear, did you hear
what Suzanna said? Your story of the chain awakened me."

"Awakened you, my boy? But that story and others I told you many years
ago, and you forgot."

The tears, hard-wrung, started to his eyes. "But, mother," he said in a
low voice, "is it too late? Those truths I learned many years ago from
you--is it too late to use them now?" He let his head fall suddenly upon
her knee: "Oh, mother, mother, how blind are men; what false gods they
worship!"

She did not answer. Graham, a great pity sprung in his heart for his
father, spoke: "Father's good, grandmother! He does lots of kind things
for people. And he's going to take care of many families whose homes
were burned."

"In your name, mother, as Suzanna says," said the man, lifting his head.
"And many, many other righteous things in your name, my mother."

Her face grew luminous, with a light lent from some far place. "My
boy--my little son--" she whispered.

The white-clad nurse came in again, looked sharply at her patient. "I
think," she said softly, "you must all leave now."

So they rose. But Suzanna, after saying farewell, turned again. The
nurse was arranging the bed. Drusilla sat, her eyes looking off into the
distance. Suzanna went swiftly back.

"Is the land you're going to very beautiful, Drusilla?" she whispered.

"Fairer than you may dream, little girl," Drusilla returned. And then:
"Kiss me, Suzanna, and call me Drusilla once more."

Suzanna kissed the soft, wrinkled cheek. "Good-bye, Drusilla," she
breathed. "I love you with all my heart, and I'm coming to see you again
very soon."



CHAPTER XXI

MR. BARTLETT SEES THE MACHINE


But Suzanna did not go to see her friend Drusilla again. For within a
few days after the hurried night visit, Drusilla set off on her journey.
There was but one with her when she left, all aquiver to be gone, her
eyes set in the distance on visions hid from earthly eyes.

Her boy was close beside her, his arms about her, his heart filled with
woe for all the years he had forgotten. And when he kissed her and
begged her forgiveness, she was all love and understanding for him, even
as when a small boy he had sought her forgiveness and her understanding.

The tents were up now in the big Bartlett grounds. Tents with floors and
movable stoves. Children played about the grounds on the rare sunny day
that Drusilla went away.

Mr. Bartlett, returning from his mother's bedside, went hurriedly
through his grounds, and on upstairs to his own room. There, waiting for
him, was Graham. The boy knew at once the truth.

"Father," he cried, and put his arms about the tall figure.

They stood so, the man finding comfort in the contact of his boy. And so
Mrs. Bartlett, returned temporarily from a journey, found them.

She started back at sight of them thus together. They seemed in their
new intimacy to have shut her out, quite out of their lives. "I've been
looking for you, Graham," she began, and then caught her breath sharply
at the look the boy gave her; not a premeditated cold look, only one
that he might bestow upon a stranger.

"Father has just come home," he said; "grandmother--"

But he did not finish. He saw that his mother understood that Drusilla
had gone away. Mr. Bartlett spoke to his wife. "I heard this morning
that you had returned to stay for a day. I'm afraid the tents and the
children will still disfigure our grounds for some time."

His bitterness made her wince. But she answered calmly. "Yes, I returned
while you were absent."

"For a day, as I was told?"

"My plans must change now of necessity--my trip to Italy--"

"Why?" he asked. "Nothing that has happened need interfere with any of
your plans, your mode of living. My mother would not wish that."

She broke forth then, the color surging up into her face. "Why are you
so unjust to me? Did I suggest that you neglect your mother? You could
not expect me to take your place."

"No--" he spoke sadly. "No, I could not expect that. Believe me, please,
when I say that I put blame on no one but myself. Money--that has been
the main thing in life. Money, and more money. There was always need for
all I could make." His eyes swept her lovely gown; the costly cape
across her arm. Thought, much money, much time had gone into building
her perfect completeness. "No. A man cannot expect another, even a wife,
to fulfill his sacred obligations."

Perhaps the thought came to her that a wife need not ask so much, ask so
demandingly that a man must yield his finest dreams, his every hour to
fulfill her wishes. The color deepened and deepened in her cheek.
Perhaps she remembered their first months together when in the grayest
days he saw color, because they belonged one to the other.

They had both forgotten Graham. She looked at the boy now. He stood
regarding her with that strange aloofness in his eyes, that sharp
question. She felt all at once very lonely.

For Graham, she knew, was estranged from her! And now she knew that she
desired most of all his love in all its purity. Her social strivings,
her desire for leadership balanced against Graham's former worshipful,
chivalrous love for her, dwindled to a pitiful insignificance.

And with the value of her child's love, she suddenly realized the older
mother's longings--the one who had just gone on. An old mother--in her
full years mourning for the child she had borne, nursed, and succored.
Grieving, that in his manhood he had gone from her; that he had
seemingly forgotten in his feverish striving after wealth the lessons
she had sought to teach him.

Was the wife to blame for this? But some stern sense of justice derided
her efforts to exculpate herself. She remembered how she had held the
power to influence him in the early days of their marriage; he had
believed so wonderfully in the whiteness of her ideals. He was malleable
material in her fingers.

But above and beyond his love she had put wealth and fine position. He
had given her both, but now before her stood her husband and son
estranged from her.

She moved away at last. With new awakening power of perception, she felt
she was stripped of everything of worth. When she was half-way down the
wide hall she heard a step behind her. She paused, waited, and in a
moment Graham was beside her.

He put his hand in hers. "Mother," he said, quietly.

Her eyes filled with the near tears. She clung to his hand as though he
would protect her against her own bitter thoughts.

"Does your head ache?" he asked. There was solicitude in his voice, but
still that strange, dreadful aloofness, more dreadful because he was not
conscious of it.

"No," she answered. She looked down at him and out of an impulse she
cried: "Do you still love me, Graham?"

"I love you, mother," he answered gravely. But she knew then that there
would be work on her part before once again she stood to him his ideal.

She had dwelt in the core of his heart; perhaps in time she could once
more move near to that sanctified place. The intimate human relation,
husband and wife, parent and child--she knew with pain and yearning that
all else--position, great wealth, worldly power--were vain beside the
joy of those relations in their purest.

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps a week later Suzanna was washing the supper dishes, and Maizie
wiping them. Their mother was upstairs with Peter and the baby, Mr.
Procter in the attic. As Maizie finished the last dish, the door bell
rang.

Suzanna ran to the foot of the stairs.

"Oh, mother, shall I answer?" she cried.

"I wish you would," Mrs. Procter called down. "Peter has a stone bruise
and I'm using liniment."

So Suzanna went to the front door. She opened it to Mr. Bartlett.

"Good evening, Suzanna," he said in a friendly voice. "Is your father at
home?"

"He's upstairs in the attic. Shall I take you to him?" asked Suzanna
very politely.

"Perhaps you'd better consult him first as to that, Suzanna. He may not
wish to be disturbed."

"Well, I will. Won't you sit down in the parlor?"

Mr. Bartlett, half smiling, followed the small figure into the room
designated. He looked about interestedly after Suzanna had gone. A
kerosene lamp set upon a center table sent an apologetic light over the
shabby furniture. Above the mantel with its velvet cover and statuette
of a crying baby, was a picture of Suzanna, a "crayon," Mr. Bartlett
amusingly surmised. The small face looked out with a distorted
artificial smile quite unknown to the face it sought to represent. Yet
Suzanna's aura was visible, Mr. Bartlett thought. That little girl who
so simply and lovingly had called his mother Drusilla because no one in
the world was left to do so! A fragrance straight from his heart made
the ugly crayon suddenly a thing of beauty, showing forth a child's
soul.

Suzanna returned, panting a little. She had run upstairs and down again.
"Father wants you to go right up," she said. "And maybe when I've
finished the dishes I'll come back, too."

So he followed her up the narrow stairs. Suzanna gravely told him that
every other step creaked, except if you put your foot carefully in the
middle. At the attic door she left him.

Mr. Procter looked up as his visitor entered. "I'm glad to see you, Mr.
Bartlett," he said cordially. "It's not very light in here, but we can
see to talk. Sit down."

Mr. Bartlett took the proffered chair. He looked about the dim room and
could see in outline the machine.

"David has told you something of my invention, I remember and its
object," said Mr. Procter.

"Yes, David has told me," Mr. Bartlett replied. "You're attempting a
tremendously big thing, Mr. Procter. David told me about the colors and
your theory of their meaning."

"Yes. Did David tell you, too, that my daughter Suzanna produced on the
plate of the machine purple and gold? In my book I had written down . . .
'Purple: high talent for writing.'"

Mr. Bartlett hesitated a moment before replying.

"But it hasn't been proven that Suzanna can write. You will have to wait
a few years for evidence."

"True, still she is talented. I may dare say that even though I happen
to be her father. She possesses an insatiable curiosity concerning life,
the divine birthright of the artist, the creator."

"Still I'm not convinced that such a machine as David drew for me is
possible," said Mr. Bartlett. "I can understand that if you place a
person in contact with an instrument and proceed to change his
circulation by arousing his emotions that chemical change might be
registered upon a sensitive plate. But how can a mere machine be so
miraculous as to show forth by color or any other method one's
'meaning'? It's too big for my imagination, that's all. There are so
many parts that go to make up a human being, so many points in his favor
for a certain line of work, so many against it."

Still the inventor did not speak. And so Mr. Bartlett continued:
"There's a man's state of health, his sympathies, his hereditary
tendencies; all to be considered."

"Well, you see," Mr. Procter answered at last, "the elements you
enumerate are but results of evolution, of environment, of education,
and do not alter the purpose for which the man was born. And that
purpose, even though given no chance to work itself out, is so vital a
part of the man that it remains an undying flame going on into
eternity."

Mr. Bartlett did not answer.

"Will you let me make a color test of you, Mr. Bartlett?" the inventor
asked at length.

"Yes, though I am very skeptical."

He seated himself before the machine. Mr. Procter let the helmet down
till it was just above the subject's head. "You see no part of the
instrument touches you," he said. "There's no opportunity to say that
chemical changes in the circulation are the cause of the color
produced. Now please watch the glass plate." Mr. Bartlett did as
directed. For some moments the plate remained clear, then rays of color
played upon it.

"Green, a rare, soft green," said Mr. Procter. He went on slowly but
without hesitation. "The color of poetry. That color belongs in one who
lies on the grass and gazes at the sky--and dreams; dreams to waken
men's souls with the beauty of his music--a poet, a maker of songs, to
uplift, to keep man's eyes from the ground."

The light faded, the little clicking sound ceased, and yet Mr. Bartlett
did not speak. If in his mind there dwelt the memory of an overstuffed
drawer with reams of paper covered with verses, he said nothing. His
face gave no evidence to the inventor of his thoughts.

At last he roused himself, shrugged his shoulders. "My dear man," he
said, "did you ever hear of a poet at heart making a fortune as I have
done?"

"It could be done," returned Mr. Procter sadly, "even by a poet."

Mr. Bartlett rose. "I did not aver," continued Mr. Procter, "that you
could only be a poet. I said that your real meaning was to give to the
world the rare visions which grew in your heart."

Mr. Bartlett gazed with some astonishment at the machine.

"The day when Suzanna was born, as I stood looking down at her, the
thought came winging to me that she had come charged with a purpose
which she alone could fulfill. And so was planted the first seed in my
mind for the making of my machine."

Mr. Bartlett spoke again after a silence given to some pondering.

"Still, Procter, have you thought how impractical the machine must prove
to be? The world is after all as it is. Suppose a man, a poor young man,
has a rare gift. He must eat to live; he may have to support others. How
is he going to develop that gift?"

The inventor's face was suddenly filled with a fine light. He laid his
hand on Mr. Bartlett's arm. "There, sir, as I told John Massey, is where
the capitalist seeking to invest his money in the highest way finds his
great chance. He helps that young man to live in comfort while he is
developing his talent."

"Well," said Mr. Bartlett, "it's all very interesting, and if you will
let me, I'll do all I can to help you. We can talk of that at some other
time." He paused, and then said: "I hear John Massey has bought out the
hardware store here. I can't understand his object, but you may lose
your position. Have you thought of what you could do in that event?"

"No, I haven't."

"I came primarily to see your machine," Mr. Bartlett continued, "but I
had another object too. You know I have had tents put up in my yard for
those who were made homeless by the fire. And now I find it necessary to
go away in order to attend to some large interests. Can I make you my
steward over these people--at a salary, while I am away?

"There will be enough for you to do," continued Mr. Bartlett. "My wife
is away; my boy Graham will soon be in the city with his tutor. I shall
be back here before the severe weather sets in and see that these people
in some way are comfortably housed and provided for; but in the meantime
I want you."

"I'll be glad to do all I can," said Mr. Procter at last; then
fervently, "and thank you."

Someone knocked softly, and Suzanna entered. "This special letter came
for you, daddy," she said. "Mother said I might bring it up to you."

Mr. Procter took the letter, looked curiously at it before tearing it
open. He glanced through its contents, held it a second while he looked
away then he went through it again. It ran:

          Dear Procter:

          You've known for some time that Job Doane is
          running the hardware shop in my interest. I bought
          the place for a future purpose, never mind that
          purpose, it isn't of interest to you or anyone in
          Anchorville. I am confined to my room with an
          attack of rheumatism, so I can't see you to talk
          over a scheme which I have in mind. I will say
          that I have concluded all arrangements to rebuild
          homes for the men and their families who were
          burned out some time ago, and I want you to act as
          my agent. No sentiment in building these
          up-to-date houses, let me assure you. Only perhaps
          I've given some thought to Suzanna's little wrist
          chain. Come to me within a day or two and we'll
          talk over salary, and other things of interest to
          you.

                                        Yours,
                                          John Massey.

Suzanna plunged into the ensuing quiet. "Is there any answer, daddy?"
she asked.

Mr. Procter looked at his small daughter through a mist, then at Mr.
Bartlett still standing regarding him somewhat curiously. "No, no
answer," he said at last, "but I want to see your mother--right away."



BOOK III



CHAPTER XXII

HAPPY DAYS


Summer once again, with the flowers abloom and all the richness of the
season scattered lavishly about. The Procter house seemed more colorful
too, perhaps because it had acquired within some late months a new coat
of paint.

Once inside if you were familiar enough to go upstairs, you could not
find the steps which had been wont to creak. And peeping into the parlor
you could see that some pretty new furniture had taken the place of the
shaky old lounge and chairs; one good marine picture hung between the
windows and a new rug lay upon the hardwood floor.

Two years had gone since the fire, two years bringing some changes.
Suzanna had shot up. She was a tall, slim girl now, though with the same
dark, questioning eyes. She stood one Saturday morning in the kitchen
making a cake, yes, actually stirring the mixture all by herself in the
brown earthen vessel.

Her mother, hovering near, was offering comment and a few directions.
Between times she attended to the "baby," a baby no longer since he was
nearly four years old. Maizie, coming in from the yard with Peter behind
her, stopped short at sight of Suzanna's work.

"When can I make a cake, mother?" she asked. Her small face was as
plump, as childlike as ever. The same sweetness of expression was hers,
the same admiration in her eyes for her "big" sister.

"When you're as old as Suzanna, I guess, Maizie," Mrs. Procter answered.
"What did Mrs. Reynolds say?"

Peter answered before Maizie could speak, thereby gaining a reproving
look from her. "She's coming over to see you, mother. She says she wants
to ask you something, anyway." Peter went to the door, gave a sharp
whistle, a sharper direction and returned. "Jerry's out there. Graham
Bartlett's opened up his house, and David's brought my dog back."

Still Peter's dog, you see. "Oh, I want to see Jerry, may he come in,
mother?" Suzanna asked.

Mrs. Procter nodded. She was now engaged in giving the four-year-old his
ten o'clock luncheon of bread and milk. "But don't let him get into
anything, Peter," she admonished.

Peter promised, with a sigh in his heart for the tenacious prejudices
of woman. Jerry at a word entered the kitchen door. He came in slowly,
paused and regarded Mrs. Procter searchingly. He was a handsome animal
now. His coat was well brushed, his hair long and glossy.

"Well," said Mrs. Procter, "you've been taught good manners, Jerry."

He wagged his tail vigorously; then further to show himself off, he sat
down and held out a beguiling paw to Mrs. Procter. Maizie cried out in
delight.

"Oh, can't we keep him now, mother? Isn't he cunning?"

Peter turned quickly upon his sister. "Would that be fair?" he sternly
asked. His voice deepened suddenly. "You wouldn't, any one of you, even
look at him when he was poor and dirty and _afraid_. And now after David
has loved him and washed him and taught him how to behave, you want to
keep him. Come along, Jerry."

Having thus delivered himself, Peter, with dignity, stalked from out the
kitchen. He left an eloquent silence behind him. "Should we have kept
the dog when he was dirty and lonely, mother?" asked Maizie,
interestedly.

"Why, I don't think so, Maizie," Mrs. Procter answered slowly. "Really,
you remember I'd had so much trouble that summer with stray dogs of
Peter's that my patience was at an end."

Maizie was forming another question when she was interrupted by a hearty
knock at the door.

"Come in," Suzanna cried. She was testing the oven as her mother had
taught her and she turned a very important, if badly flushed, face to
the visitor.

"I'm baking a chocolate cake, Mrs. Reynolds," she announced.

"Fine, Suzanna," cried Mrs. Reynolds heartily. She advanced to the
middle of the kitchen. Two beautiful children both with large dark eyes
and dark curls, exquisitely clean, followed her.

Mrs. Reynolds was a little plumper, and with a softness in her eyes
which seemed of recent growth. She lifted the smaller child, the girl,
upon a kitchen chair, watched the boy in his pilgrimage after the
darting cat, and began:

"I'm glad to help with the christening robe for the Massey grandson,
Mrs. Procter," she said; "and I think 'tis a fine idea--sort of
community dress made by those who liked Miss Massey."

"I thought you'd like the idea, Mrs. Reynolds," said Mrs. Procter.
"Here, take this chair."

Mrs. Reynolds sat down. "The fine boy you have there," she said,
indicating the "baby," "he's a bit like Suzanna."

"We all think he's very much like his eldest sister," said Mrs. Procter.
She raised the small boy and held him close for a moment. When she put
him down, he wandered off toward the popular cat.

"I wanted to ask you, Mrs. Procter," said Mrs. Reynolds, "what material
you think will make up best for a Sunday dress for Margaret here." She
paused, smiled, and flashing a mischievous glance at Suzanna, finished,
"It'll have to have lace, says Margaret, and I suppose she'll want the
goods cut away from underneath."

Suzanna, perched near the oven door watching the precious cake, turned
to look at Mrs. Reynolds. A flame lit within her eyes; she had never
forgotten the anguish engendered by her mother's refusal to cut away the
goods from under the pink dress; then the expression softened. Was it
not on that occasion, too, she had learned the dearness of that same
mother?

"There, now," said Mrs. Reynolds, "I shouldn't have teased you,
Suzanna." Her eyes grew tender. "I'd never have thought seriously of
adopting my little children here, dear lamb, if you hadn't first adopted
yourself out to me."

Suzanna's face grew luminous. "Oh, do you mean that, Mrs. Reynolds?" she
cried.

"I do just that, every word, Dear Heart. Why, the night I put you to bed
and you called me 'mother' I shall never forget, never. And then the
truths you spoke to Reynolds!"

"He's happy now, isn't he?" asked Mrs. Procter.

Mrs. Reynolds paused impressively before answering: "Do you know," she
said at length, "he forgets often to remember that the children are not
his very own. The little Margaret there creeps into his lap nights,
calls him daddy, and melts the heart of him. And the boy with his
quaintness, follows him about the house on Saturdays, and Reynolds says
often enough: 'He'll be a great man, this chap, Peggy. He says some of
the things I thought when I was his age.' He's taken to calling me Peggy
since the children came to make a distinction, the little girl bearing
my name, you see."

Mrs. Procter nodded. Margaret stirred uneasily on her chair. "Mother,"
she asked, "I want to hold the Pussy, too. I'll keep my apron clean."

"And that you shall, my Sweet," said Mrs. Reynolds, her face flushing at
the title as though it would never grow old to her; "come then, go to
the cat, my pretty lass."

Suzanna removed her cake from the oven. It was a beautiful object, and
Suzanna regarded it with pride. She took off her apron, looked around
the kitchen and then turning to her mother, put her request.

"Mother," she said, "I'd like to go to the big house and see the Eagle
Man and Miss Massey."

"Saturday morning?" asked Mrs. Procter, dubiously. "Well, I suppose that
it won't really matter."

"I'm going to see Daphne," Maizie announced.

"Remember to be at home by noon," said Mrs. Procter. "Father may be here
for luncheon."

"I'll remember, mother," said Suzanna. She kissed her mother, said
good-bye to Mrs. Reynolds and started happily away. She reached the
house at the top of the hill in a short time. The same uniformed man as
of old gave her immediate admittance.

"Mr. Massey is in the library," he said, evincing no surprise at
Suzanna's unconventional appearance.

In the doorway of the library Suzanna hesitated a moment, for the sound
of voices came to her. Then she went forward, and there, standing near
the white marble mantelpiece was the Eagle Man, near him Suzanna's
father.

"Daddy," Suzanna cried, and ran to him.

Mr. Procter turned. His face, slightly older than when he was an
employee of Job Doane of the hardware shop, was still that of the
idealist, the lover of men. Yet there was a something added. Perhaps his
well-fitting clothes gave him the new air of efficiency, of directness.

"I didn't know you'd be here with the Eagle Man, daddy," Suzanna cried.

Her father smiled at her. The Eagle Man spoke. "Your father is my
right-hand man, remember, little girl," he answered. He brought out the
sentence clearly with no strain of embarrassment.

"Right-hand man," Suzanna repeated thoughtfully. "I don't quite know
what that means."

"Well, it means that your father looks after my interests in a very
capable way," old John Massey returned. "Don't you remember how the new
homes went up under his direction for my employees?"

"Yes, I remember," said Suzanna, "those beautiful new, brick houses, and
the clean yards for the babies to play in."

"And now your father is in my mill as my superintendent, looking after
the men." He paused. "How would you describe your way with them, Mr.
Procter?"

"Looking after them humanly, perhaps," put in Mr. Procter simply.

"All right, we'll let it go just that way. In any event if you're making
them happier by shifting them about a bit, trying to fit them by natural
adaptability to their jobs and so increasing efficiency, I am satisfied
with any way you put it."

Mr. Procter stood a little ill at ease. It was so very rare for old John
Massey to so graciously express himself, almost unheard of.

"You see," said the Eagle Man, softly, "I'm using Suzanna as a mask; I'm
telling her what I couldn't say to your face, Richard Procter." He
stretched out his hand and Richard Procter let his own fall into it. The
two men stood thus bound in a spirit of perfect friendship.

Suzanna went on upstairs. She found "Miss Massey" in a large room with
pink curtains at the windows, pink rugs on the floor and even pink
chairs and sofas. Like a sea shell, Suzanna thought. The baby lay in a
beautiful rose-tinted crib drawn near the window, and above the crib the
new mother bent.

She turned when Suzanna knocked softly.

"Oh, Suzanna," she cried at once, a glad note in her voice. She ran
across the room and enfolded the little visitor close within her arms.

"And you've come back with a baby," Suzanna cried, after a time.

"Yes, come and see him. He's named after my father."

Suzanna went to the cradle and looked down. "He's a nice fat baby," she
admitted. She really didn't think that he was pretty, but that she did
not say.

"And don't you love Saturday nights when it rains and you're safe
indoors with Robert and the baby?" asked Suzanna, interestedly.

"Oh, dear girl, I do, I do. What a picture you painted, and how I've
tried to make it true."

"And have you a cross man with buttons to jump at your bidding?" Suzanna
pursued.

"No, dear; we have a little home with a garden, where in the summer all
the old-fashioned flowers bloom. I do most of my own work, and care
altogether for my baby. And I'm happier than ever before in my life. And
my father is no longer angry with me. He wrote asking me to pay him a
visit after he knew he had a grandson named for him."

She bent above her baby for a moment, then turned her shining face to
Suzanna. "And now, tell me about yourself, Suzanna, and your loved
ones."

Suzanna paused to think. "Well, you know father doesn't weigh out nails
any more; he's the Eagle Man's right-hand man." She remembered the
phrase and brought it out roundly. "And father helped build all those
nice new homes for the people who work in the Massey Steel Mills.

"My father's a great man," finished Suzanna, simply as always when
stating this incontrovertible fact. "And his Machine's nearly ready now
for the world to know about it."

"Oh, oh, Suzanna! And then?"

"And then many, many people are going to be happy ever after because my
father thought of that machine and worked on it for years and years."

After a moment Suzanna continued: "And my dear, dear Drusilla set off on
a far journey and didn't come back. And Graham cried, and went away for
a long time, and Bartlett Villa was closed. But they've come back now
and it's open again. And David and Daphne are quite well, thank you. And
Mrs. Reynolds has two little children of her own."

"I'm so glad," said Robert's wife. "You're a very happy little girl,
then, aren't you, dear?"

"Oh, very happy," said Suzanna. "I love so many people, you see. And I
have a sister, Maizie, who was once smiled upon by a very great Man."
Her listener was puzzled, but she asked no questions. It didn't seem to
her the right moment to ask an explanation. Some day she would. But
Suzanna told the story of Maizie's rare selection, dwelling upon it with
a degree of wondrous awe, for she believed the story now. It stood so
clear to her, so real, that it had a fine influence upon her inner life.
Often when swift anger surged through her, anger directed against the
little sister, she brought to bear a strong control, as she remembered
Maizie's great awakening.

She returned to her surroundings in a moment. "I must be going, Miss
Massey. I wish you'd come to see us. We've got a lovely new rug in the
front room and mother has two new dresses for herself. She is awfully
pretty in them."

"I certainly shall come to visit you," Miss Massey promised, kissing the
little girl.

Suzanna ran downstairs. She did not stop at the library, fearing she
would reach home late for luncheon.

But she was just in time to set the table. Her father had not yet
arrived. Mother, of course, was there and with an eager face full of
news, delightful news, Suzanna guessed.

"Suzanna, dear, what do you think? Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett was here
during your absence."

"To visit us, mother? Oh, tell me all about it," Suzanna cried.

"She wants to take you and Maizie and Peter to the seashore for a whole
month. There, Suzanna! What do you think of that?"

Suzanna stood absolutely still. Then exclaimed: "To the seashore,
mother! Why--I don't think I can stand the joy of it. Oh, mother, I'm
too happy!"



CHAPTER XXIII

TO THE SEASHORE


Mrs. Graham Woods Bartlett sat in her own perfectly appointed room one
morning in late June. She sat quietly, hands folded. She could hear
Graham, her son, downstairs beneath her window talking to David and
Daphne. She caught disconnected words. They floated to her broken like
meaningless flakes of snow.

She had just returned from her call on Mrs. Procter, that impulsive call
made on the wings of an impulsive, quixotic thought. There still
remained sharp in her memory the picture of the little home; the busy
mother, washing out small woolen garments. She had gone unconsciously
prepared to patronize and had returned completely shorn of her feeling
of superiority. In truth, a little envy for that sweet-faced mother was
in her heart.

From the time when her husband's mother died, she had not been happy.
Pursuits that hitherto had satisfied her altogether lost their power.
New values were slowly born in her. Still possessing a degree of
sensibility not killed by her false life, she had been by the attitude
of her husband and her son, able to see herself clearly. Both had been
dependent upon her in a measure for their happiness, and she had failed
them. Their reaction had hurt her bitterly.

She had tried in the past two years to make amends, but some hurts heal
slowly. Perhaps it was hard for her husband and son to realize that she
was trying to make amends. In any event, each went his separate way, a
household divided. Early in the morning had come the thought of the
seashore and she had wasted no time in seeking the little home. And now
its atmosphere filled her mind.

She heard Daphne's young voice, and a sudden rare pity filled her for
the motherless child, her gardener's daughter. She would ask Daphne,
too.

She went to seek David, and as she came upon him spading a flower bed,
the two children with him, a station carriage stopped before the big
iron gates and her husband alighted. He had been away on one of his long
trips and was now returning home, unheralded, unexpected.

He came quickly down the path and stopped short at sight of his wife. "I
did not think to find you here," he said.

She did not answer at once. He looked closer at her. "You look a bit
fagged," he said, uncertainly. Perhaps he felt a softer appeal about her
which took him back to their young days together.

"I am a little tired," she said.

"I thought you intended to spend the summer in the East," he went on.

"Strangely, Bartlett Villa held more fascination for me than any other
place. I returned here a week ago," she hesitated before continuing. "I
obeyed a whim this morning and invited the Procter children to accompany
Graham and me to the seashore to spend a month."

He looked at her incredulously. "I--I don't understand," he said.

She returned his gaze, then suddenly she turned from him and hastened
back to the house. Many emotions bit at her, among them anger with her
husband for his difficulty in believing she had done something which
would mean, some trouble to her; which in the days just behind she would
have designated as impossible, or "boring."

After a moment he followed her and overtook her as she reached the small
side room where Suzanna had once sat telling of the poor people who had
been burned out of their homes. She knew he was near her, but she gave
no heed. Instead she flung herself down in a near chair and buried her
face in her hands.

He stood, looking down at her in silence. At last he let his hand fall
gently on her shoulder.

"Ina," he said, softly.

She looked up at him.

"Dear," he went on, "have you and I just been playing at life?"

"Oh, it seems so," she cried. "I know I am unhappy, groping." She stood
up and put out her hands to him. He took them, drew her close to him.
"Ina," he said, "let me go with you and the children to the seashore.
Let's try to know one another better."

A radiance came upon her, filling her eyes. She did not speak, only she
held very fast to his hand, as though in the clasp she found an anchor.

There came the glorious summer day marked for the journey to the
seashore. Suzanna, Maizie, and Peter waited for the Bartlett carriage
which was to convey them to the depot. At last they heard it coming. At
last it stood before the gate, and Daphne put her small head out of the
carriage window. Then Graham opened the door and sprang to the ground.
He said a word to David who was driving, and ran up the path.

Maizie began to dance, Peter to whistle. But Suzanna stood quite still,
the glow of anticipation falling from her face.

"Are you quite ready, Suzanna?" asked Mrs. Procter.

At the words Suzanna's control broke. With a little cry she ran into her
mother's arms. "Oh, mother, mother," she sobbed, "I can't go away, so
far away and leave you--a whole month!"

Mrs. Procter held the small figure close. Her own eyes were wet, but she
spoke calmly:

"Why, little girl, mother will be here waiting for your return, and
longing to hear all about your good time. Come, dry your eyes and think
how happy you're going to be."

"But I know you'll be lonesome, mother, and so shall I be for you."

"But when you grow lonesome," Mrs. Procter whispered, "just think how
lovely it will be to return home; and remember that father's machine
will be given its great test before you come back. Mr. Bartlett and Mr.
Massey have made all arrangements."

Suzanna's face brightened; the clouds dispelled themselves, so she was
able to greet Graham with much of her old smile.

"All ready?" he cried as he ran up the steps. "Father and mother and a
maid are following in another carriage. Nancy is with us."

He was quite plainly excited by some thought deeper than the mere fact
of going to the seashore. Suzanna's companionship was promised for long
days to come; he knew her eye for beauty hidden from others; her quaint
speech. And then, too, a new relationship had come to pass between
himself and his mother. Between them an understanding that made him
glow.

It seemed but a moment before they were all together in the train.
Suzanna settled herself to look out of the window at the passing
landscape, so exhilaratingly new to her. Maizie sat beside her, Peter
across the aisle with Graham. Little Daphne was cuddled close to Mrs.
Bartlett. Mr. Bartlett was in the dining-car.

Maizie whispered to her sister: "We've come to the future now, haven't
we, Suzanna?"

"Why, you can't ever come to the future," returned Suzanna.

Maizie puzzled a moment. "But don't you remember, mother said we might
travel on a train some time in the future? So now we're doing it, why
haven't we come to the future?"

"Because you never can come to the future," Suzanna repeated. She leaned
forward and spoke to Mrs. Bartlett. "When you're living a day it's the
present, isn't it, Mrs. Bartlett?"

Mrs. Bartlett looked long at the two children. "Maizie thinks the future
an occasion, I think," she said, and then, because lucid explanation was
beyond her, she continued: "You know we have a big cottage at the
seashore, and the cottage is close to the water."

Maizie it was who at last broke the thrilling silence: "Where there's an
ocean? And where you can go wading and swimming?" she cried.

"And will there be sand?" asked Suzanna, hanging upon the answer
breathlessly.

"Yes, there's a wide yellow beach running into the ocean where you can
dig and build castles all day," said Mrs. Bartlett.

"Oh, my cup is full and runneth over," said Suzanna solemnly.

The train swept on through small towns and the children's delight and
amazement increased. And when at noon the climax came, and they all went
forward into the dining-car, they were one and all silent. No words
great enough were in their vocabulary to express this moment.

Said Mr. Bartlett when they were all seated: "Now, children, you may
order just exactly what you'd like. You first, Suzanna."

"Well," she said, without hesitation, "I should like some golden brown
toast that isn't burned, with lots of butter on it, and a cup of cocoa
with a marshmallow floating on top, and at the very last, a dish of
striped ice cream with a cherry right in the middle."

Mr. Bartlett wrote the order rapidly on a card. Each of the children
spoke out his deepest, perhaps his long-cherished desire. Some of the
dishes were secretly and mercifully modified by Mrs. Bartlett, who sat
in enjoyment of the scene.

"It's like a dream, Mrs. Bartlett," said Suzanna when, dinner finished,
they were all back once more in the parlor car. "You don't think we'll
wake up, do you?"

"No, I think not; you'll simply get wider and wider awake."

But, as the hours crept on and as she watched the flying landscape, the
reaction to all her excitement came and a haze fell over everything, and
she slept, to awaken some time later, full of contrition.

She spoke anxiously to Mrs. Bartlett: "Oh, I appreciated it all, Mrs.
Bartlett, but my eyes just closed down of themselves," she said.

Mrs. Bartlett smiled. "It's a long journey," she said, "but we'll soon
see the end of it."

At nine o'clock the train stopped for the first time since dark had
fallen. "Here we are," cried Mr. Bartlett. And in a few moments they
were all standing on the platform of a little railroad station waiting
while carriages were being secured to take them for the night to a hotel
nestling on the top of a tall hill.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE SEASHORE


Morning came--a rather misty morning that promised better as the day
advanced. Suzanna, sleeping with Maizie in a small room on the second
floor of the hotel, woke, gazed about her unfamiliar surroundings,
sprang out of bed, and in her bare feet ran to the window. There before
her was a magnificent group of mountains, wooded with majestic trees
whose tops seemed to touch the sky. Beneath the mountains, just at their
feet, a river ran, the sun dancing on its breast. Suzanna held her
breath in sheer awe; she could not move even to call Maizie. She felt as
though something great out there in the mountains called to her spirit
and though she wished to answer she could not do so.

The tapestry spread below the mountains of water and green slopes and
velvet meadows sun-kissed too, called to her; the artist in her was
keenly, deeply responsive to the call, still she could not answer, only
stand and gaze and gaze, and drink in the beauty that stretched before
her.

Then old Nancy came with hurrying words, waking Maizie. "We can stay in
this town but two hours before our train is due," she said. "So you must
dress at once, Suzanna."

So Suzanna dressed in silence, answering none of Maizie's chatter, as
though she had been in a far, unexplored country and had returned
steeped in the mysteries of that distant land.

Her silence still lay upon her when after breakfast they all set out for
a walk around the historic old town. There were babies, happy, dirty
babies, playing about doorsteps of one-storied plaster houses, or
toddling about the cobble-stoned roads.

The streets were narrow and steep, the roads wide with moss edged in
between the wide cracks. Suzanna kept her eyes down; she would not look
up at the mountains, and finally Mr. Bartlett, noticing her silence,
asked: "Do you like it here, Suzanna?"

"Yes," she said. "But I can't look at the mountains. They take my breath
away and make me stand still inside. Maybe some day I'll be able to look
straight at them, but not now, and some day when I'm a woman I'm going
to come back here and make a poem and set it to a wonderful painting."

He smiled at the way she put it.

"And I," said Maizie, "am going to come back and take care of some of
those poor little babies that play alone out on the cobble-stones."

"We'll see," said Mr. Bartlett. "Time alone can tell what you two little
girls will do."

Returning to the hotel they found vehicles awaiting them. And shortly
they were again on a train, speeding away.

Three hours, and they were at their destination. A short ride in an
electric car, a shorter walk down a tree-lined street, and they were at
the "cottage."

"A cottage," cried Suzanna, "why it's a big house!"

"Everything is called a cottage down here," said Mrs. Bartlett.

Mr. Bartlett used the brass knocker and its echo reverberated down the
street. An elderly Scotch woman, Bessie, who had been long with Mrs.
Bartlett's family, met them in the hall, her pleasant face alight with
smiles. She said now:

"Everything is ready, and the trunks, I suppose, will be here within a
short time."

"What's that sound?" Suzanna asked.

"That's the ocean booming," said Mrs. Bartlett. "Now let's go upstairs
and prepare ourselves for luncheon. Nancy will show you children your
different rooms."

So upstairs they went, Nancy in the lead. She threw open the door of the
bedrooms. Suzanna and Maizie were given one from whose windows the ocean
could be seen. Peter had a room all to himself, a small one with a cot
which was much to his liking. "It's like camping out," he made himself
believe. Graham occupied one next door. Little Daphne was with Mrs.
Bartlett.

"There's two closets," cried Maizie, as she went on a tour of
investigation. "One for your clothes and one for mine. Sometimes,
Suzanna," she said, "I can hardly believe it all yet."

"That's the way I feel," said Suzanna. Nancy appeared at the door
bearing snowy towels which she gave to the children. "Here, children,"
she said, "the bath room is at the end of the hall, and you must hurry."

So Suzanna and Maizie hurried and they were the first downstairs. The
house was much more simply furnished, of course, than the big one in
Anchorville, but as the children went about they found many interesting
things. In one long, narrow room, the length of the first floor, was a
fireplace taking up one entire end, and built of irregular stones,
giving a charming effect. There were big easy chairs and sofas; tables
heaped with magazines and books. On the walls were color pictures
suspended by long, dim-worn chains--ocean scenes, a ship at sea, and
over the piano, fifty years old as they discovered later, hung several
faded miniatures of ladies of a long past age. Most interesting of all
to Suzanna was an album she found in an old cabinet, an album that as
you looked through it at ladies with voluminous skirts, at men with wing
collars, and little girls with white pantalettes, a hidden music box
tinkled forth dainty airs from a long-forgotten operetta.

In another room on the opposite side, which was entered by mounting
three steps, was a large table covered with green felt and with nets
stretched across it, and little balls and paddles in corner pockets, and
Mr. Bartlett, entering at the moment, the children learned that many
happy games were played on this big table.

Later, out of this room, the children stepped upon a wide porch, and
here there burst upon them a view of the ocean.

"You see," said Mr. Bartlett, "that those of us who go into the water
may dress in bathing suits here, then put on long cloaks and run down to
the beach. Then when we return, we step under a shower arrangement over
there near that little house. . . ."

"Please, Mr. Bartlett," begged Suzanna, "don't tell us any more now. I
don't think I can stand any more joy for today."

"Well, then," Mr. Bartlett smiled, "let's start away for our luncheon.
We simply live in this house and take our meals at the hotel."

And at this moment the rest of the family appearing, they all started
away. A short walk brought them to the hotel where all was life and
light and excitement. Children played on the wide piazzas, young girls
walked about chatting merrily, and mothers and fathers sat in easy
chairs reading or pleasantly regarding the children.

In the dining-room a large table had been previously ordered reserved
for the Bartlett family.

"We'll have," said Mr. Bartlett, when they were all seated, speaking to
the interested waiter, "just exactly what you think we'd like, John."

John, who knew Mr. Bartlett well, smiled in fatherly fashion and
disappeared. He returned shortly bearing a tray filled with just those
things that children most love. There was cream soup, and salted
crackers, big pitchers of milk, little hot biscuits, fresh honey, and
broiled ham--pink and very delicious as was soon discovered. Then there
was sweet fruit pudding with whipped cream and, of course, ice cream.

"Will John always know what we like?" asked Suzanna as the meal
progressed.

"Well, we'll change about," said Mrs. Bartlett, who looked as though she
were enjoying every moment. "Sometimes when we know particularly what
we'd like, we'll give our order, other times when we want to be
surprised we'll let John serve us what he thinks we'd enjoy. Don't you
think that way will be nice?"

"Oh, that will be very interesting," said Suzanna; then added, "Does the
water make that sound all the time?"

"Yes, it's always restless."

"Well, it seems as though it were asking for something," said Suzanna,
"a kind of sad asking."

"Now," said Mr. Bartlett, leaning across and speaking softly to her,
"suppose, Suzanna, you think for a moment that it's a happy sound and
see how almost at once it becomes a happy sound."

Suzanna listened intently. Then her face brightened. "Why, it is a happy
murmuring," she cried. "Just as though it had to sing and sing all day
long."

"Exactly," said Mr. Bartlett.

"Well, then," said Suzanna, quickly drawing the deduction, "it's really
just in me to make it say happy things or sad things."

"Exactly," said Mr. Bartlett again, and then they all rose and went back
to the cottage.

Since the trunks which contained the beach outfits did not arrive till
late that afternoon, the children did not go down to the sands till the
next morning. Then with joyous hearts and eager feet, they set off,
Suzanna, Maizie, Peter, Graham, and Daphne; Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett
following more slowly.

A bath house reserved for their use stood, door wide open. They entered,
discarded their coats and immediately appeared again clad in their
pretty bathing suits for the water.

But when they reached the sands, already alive with gay children who
were building houses or running gaily about, and with happy shrieks
wading into the water, the Procter children stood awed, unable to speak,
so many emotions beat within them.

Maizie was the first to recover her power of speech. "There's a girl
down there with a shovel and pail like mine," she said.

And that broke the spell. Peter and Graham walked bravely out into the
water, finally reaching their necks as they went farther and farther
into the ocean. But the little girls contented themselves by simply
wetting their feet and with every wave dashing up to them, leaping back
with glad little cries. As the morning advanced, they returned to the
older group and sat on the sand.

On the sixth day of their stay all the children were trying bravely to
swim, clinging it must be confessed rather desperately to Mr. Bartlett
and the beach man, secured to help them; but when he procured for them
large water wings, they soon struck out for themselves. Peter really
learned to swim before either of his sisters, and one morning he went
out as far as the end of a quarter-mile pier.

They all grew rosy and strong, out in the fine air nearly every moment
as they were. Some afternoons they went fishing, and, with a strange
reversal of type, Suzanna was the patient one, Maizie the impatient.
Suzanna would sit in the boat next to Mr. Bartlett, holding her line,
and breathlessly wait for hours if need be, statue-like, till she felt
the thrilling nibble. Maizie would grow tired immediately, and to
Peter's disgust, she would wriggle her feet or move restlessly about,
quite spoiling for him the day's outing. Maizie at last begged to be let
off from the fishing expeditions.

"I'd rather just lie in the sand and paddle in the water, or watch the
big white ships," she said.

"You're to do exactly as you please," said Mr. Bartlett, and so they
did, each and every one.

Many hours they all spent on one of the large piers running out a great
distance into the ocean, where always there were gaiety and music, and
here one afternoon Suzanna, Peter, Graham, and Mr. Bartlett, all seated
at the end of the pier saw a huge shark darting about the water. The few
daring swimmers in his vicinity quickly moved away.

"A real shark," cried Suzanna. "When I go to bed tonight I'll just think
I dreamed it."

Said Mr. Bartlett: "Suppose, Suzanna, I buy you a book filled with blank
pages, and having a little padlock with a small key, for your very own,
so that every night you may write the happenings of the day and the
impressions made upon you."

"Oh, I'd like to do that," cried Suzanna, her eyes shining, "and then
surely I won't forget any single little thing to tell daddy and mother."

"I'll write for the book," Mr. Bartlett promised, "when we return to the
cottage."

After a time they left the pier and walked down the street, running
along with the sands. The street was lined with little stores of all
kinds; one where fresh fish were sold, another where French fried
potatoes and vinegar were offered to a hungry multitude; a place in
which handmade laces were made and sold. A florist booth kept by a
dark-faced Greek was neighbor to a shop built with turrets like a
castle. Here a happy-faced Italian women exhibited trays of uncut
stones, semi-precious ones, explained Mr. Bartlett, and strings of
beads, coral, pearl, flat turquoise, topaz, and amethysts. There were
bits of old porcelain, crystal cups, and oriental embroideries, and
little carved gods on ebony pedestals. The place reminded Suzanna of
Drusilla's historic old pawn shop and she stood entranced.

Soon they were at the place of Graham and Peter's delight, a shooting
gallery, where if one were very skillful he might, with a massive
looking gun, hit a small moving black ball and hear a bell ring. Mr.
Bartlett hit the ball today three times out of four, Graham once out of
five, but Peter, manfully lifting the large gun and scanning its barrel,
left a scar on the target four inches to the left of the little swinging
ball. This occurred after eight trials.

"Well, there's another day, Peter," said Mr. Bartlett, as they moved
away.

"And Mr. Bartlett practiced a long time, you must remember, Peter,"
said Suzanna, seeing the little fellow's downcast expression.

"Do you think before we go back to the city," asked the small boy, "that
I'll be able to make the bell ring so I can tell daddy?"

"Oh, yes," said Mr. Bartlett, encouragingly. "We'll come over here and
practice every day."

They found the others in the cottage in the big room, resting awhile
before preparing for dinner.

"Oh, Suzanna," began Maizie at once, "we're going to have a beach party
on the sands tonight. And Mrs. Bartlett says we'll have a fire built so
we can toast marshmallows."

Suzanna did not say anything. Then quickly she crossed the room and
stood before Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett. "I wish," she said solemnly, "that
all the children in the world had such dear friends as we have."



CHAPTER XXV

LAST DAYS


They held many a beach party during that wonderful month. And always
they ended the evening by drawing close together and singing happy
little songs. Till, when a little coolness crept into the air, they
would leave the ocean and go happily homeward, to sleep deep and
dreamlessly till another morning awakened them to the thought of fresh
delights.

On one morning after a beach party, the children, coming downstairs to
join their elders for breakfast at the hotel, found standing on the road
in front of the cottage, a little brown donkey attached to a basket
cart.

"Could it be, could it possibly be for them?" each child's heart asked.

And Mr. Bartlett answered the unspoken question by: "It's for you all.
Peter is to drive first because he assured me the other day he knew all
about horses; then Graham. And in a few days Suzanna, and Maizie, and
even little Daphne, can take their turns."

He went to the small donkey and stroked its nose, and the little fellow
whinnied with pleasure. The children crowded about the cart. Couldn't
they have a drive now? their eager eyes asked. But Mr. Bartlett thought
breakfast the logical beginning of the day, so reluctantly they left
their new possession.

When breakfast was finished, Mr. Bartlett said: "I'll go for the first
ride or two with you just to see how this little fellow acts, though
I've been assured that he's as gentle as any lamb ever born."

And whoever it was that had given Mr. Bartlett this assurance had not
exaggerated the amiable qualities of the donkey. "Little Brownie," as
the children had unanimously and immediately named him, was of equable
and even nature. True, as the days went by it was discovered that he was
somewhat lazy, also self-willed. If he wanted to stop he would not move
again until he wished to, in face of all pleading, urging, or
inducements. He refused even to be led, and stood very pleasantly
viewing the surrounding landscape till with a sudden jerk he would
resume his usual trot. The children finally accepted Brownie's one
vagary, and when they were driving home among other vehicles, and
Brownie suddenly stopped and raised his right ear, a sign which meant,
"I shall not move till I wish to," they only laughed, and others about
them knowing the ways of little donkeys, laughed good-naturedly too, and
drove around the little cart.

It is an unvarying law that the days roll on and bring to an end even
periods of thrilling delight; and so there came the last evening to be
spent in the cottage at the seashore. The night was early in August, but
it had elected to borrow from its cooler sister September a rather chill
wind which, to the children's delight, necessitated the building of a
fire in the grate in the long room.

"And we'll pop corn," said Mr. Bartlett when they were all gathered
together watching the roaring flames, the only light in the room.

And Nancy, who could on a moment's notice, produce anything asked of
her, brought the popper and a big bag of dried corn.

After a time, when several bowls of corn were popped and buttered,
salted and eaten, Nancy put on the hearth a dish of fine, rosy apples.
These the children peeled and then cast the skins into the grate. A
hardy fragrance came from them, but hardly pungent enough to overpower
the salt-water odor that swept in from the ocean.

The flames lit all the faces, young and old. They fell on Mrs. Bartlett,
touching her lovely hair to molten gold, touching her thoughtful face
till it seemed a smile beyond itself rested upon it. She was
thinking--"Tomorrow we start back, and in my hands lie the happiness of
many. In my hands lies the keeping of the ideals of two--" She closed
her eyes and asked for clear vision, for strength to keep true to life's
highest values.

Graham, at her knee, looked up at her. Feeling that his eyes were upon
her, she opened hers and gazed at him. She did not speak, nor did he,
but she felt his heart's nearness.

And then his gaze wandered to Suzanna, Suzanna gazing into the flames,
her dark eyes like glowing jewels, her soft lips parted. And into Mrs.
Bartlett's heart crept a little fear and a little yearning and a little
great knowledge--that composite emotion all mothers are born to know.



CHAPTER XXVI

SUZANNA AND HER FATHER


At home again after the glorious month spent at the seashore! Habits,
dear customs, taken up once more. The splendor of the trip had not faded
for the Procter children. But home was home after all, with father and
mother and sisters and brothers all sharing the common life; with short
wanderings away and joyous returns; with small resentments, quick
flashes, and happy reconciliations.

"It was lovely at the seashore," said Suzanna to her mother one Saturday
afternoon, "but I'm awfully glad to be at home again. Were you lonely
without us?"

"Very," said Mrs. Procter, "but then I knew you were all having such
interesting experiences."

"Is father coming home early, mother?" Maizie asked, looking up from her
work. She was sewing buttons on Peter's blouse with the strongest linen
thread obtainable in Anchorville.

Mrs. Procter's face shadowed. She looked at Suzanna and Maizie as though
pondering the wisdom of giving them some piece of news. Evidently she
decided against doing so, for she answered:

"I can't tell, Maizie, he may be kept at the mills. Mr. Massey is
growing more dependent on father every day," she ended, with a little
burst of pride.

Father did not come home in the afternoon. The children lost hope after
a time, and followed their separate whims.

But at six he arrived. Suzanna had noticed at once upon her return, that
he was quieter, less exuberant than he had been since entering old John
Massey's employ. Some light seemed to have gone from his face. Suzanna
wanted always to comfort him, and he, though saying nothing, was quite
conscious of his little daughter's yearning over him.

During supper his absorption continued, and immediately afterward he
went into the parlor, selected a big book from a shelf, and drawing a
chair near the lamp began to read. Mother put the "baby" and Peter to
bed. Suzanna and Maizie, after the dishes were finished, followed
father, and drawing their chairs close, looked over some pictures
together.

"Saturday night"--how Suzanna loved it! It seemed the hush time of the
week, the hush before waking to the next beautiful day, Sunday, when all
the family were together--father in his nice dark suit, mother in her
soft wisteria gown, all the children in pretty clothes; church, with its
resonant organ, and the minister's deep voice reading from the old book.
Then, weather propitious, the walk with father and mother in the
afternoon down the country road, and at night the lamps again lit--all
the homely significances of the place where love and peace and courage
dwelt.

Mrs. Procter returned from putting the children to bed. "I think I'll go
upstairs for a little while," said Mr. Procter looking up at her.

"Oh, do, Richard," she urged.

Suzanna went close to him, her hand sought his. "Could--could you invite
us for a little while, daddy," she asked, beseechingly.

"Why, yes, if you wish," he answered. "You and mother and Maizie."

It was rather a heavy consent, but they all accompanied him up to the
attic. He lit the shaded lamp standing on the corner table, regulated it
till it gave out a subdued glow, and then walked and stood before his
machine.

He stood a long time looking at it. Once he put out his hand and
touched it softly, as a mother might a sleeping child.

Suzanna and Maizie, awed and troubled, they knew not why, watched their
father. Only their mother, with a little tender smile that held in it a
great deal of wistfulness, went close to him.

"Richard," she said softly.

He turned from the machine. His face was strangely colorless, strangely
drained of all light. She did not speak, but the loyalty and faith
deepened in her eyes. Perhaps he gained some comfort from their steady
gaze, his tenseness seemed to relax, his arms fell to his sides.

Suzanna unable to stand the strain longer, flew to him and put her small
arms tight about him. "Oh, are you sick, daddy?" she cried, tears in her
voice.

He hesitated, looked down at her, and said simply, very quietly:

"Suzanna, you might as well know the truth now as later. My machine is a
failure--I am a failure!"

Her heart leaped sickeningly, her arms fell from about him. In all her
life she had never lived through so intense an emotion. Her father, the
Great Man, proclaimed himself a failure in tones which struck through
her.

The mother's voice rang out clear. "Richard, you cannot say that." She
looked about the attic made sacred by its high use, "Here while you
worked we all, your children and I, have learned great lessons. You're
looking at your machine, an insensate thing, and losing sight of what
during its building, you put into the lives of those near to you, living
stuff, Richard."

And then Maizie cried out, "Oh, daddy, it's just like being on a
mountain top when we're in the attic with you. We'll never, never have
to stop coming, will we?"

And Suzanna, still deeply troubled, cried: "Daddy, how could the machine
be a failure when it was born because you loved all men, and wanted to
make them happy? And the very thought of it up here made me happy. Why,
in school on Monday I'd look down all the shapes of the week, and think
of Saturday afternoon and wish it would come quick." Her voice broke and
the sobs came uncontrollable, shaking the slender body. In a moment she
was clasped tight in her father's arms.

After she had regained some composure she looked up at him. "It hurts
me, daddy, so that I can't breathe when you forget that you're a Great
Man."

A silence fell, and into it plunged a voice. "Good evening," it said.

There in the doorway stood the Eagle Man. He laughed at their bewildered
expressions. "I rang and rang," he explained, "and when no one answered,
I looked up at the attic window and thought you must all be upstairs."

"And was the door unlocked," cried Mrs. Procter. "I thought I attended
to the doors and windows right after supper."

"The door was unlocked," said the Eagle Man, "and so I took the liberty
of coming right in."

"I'm glad you did," said Mr. Procter.

"Well, I need your help, Richard," said old John Massey in an
affectionate tone.

"It's ready for you, Mr. Massey," the inventor answered warmly.

Suzanna gazing at her old friend, suddenly cried out: "Oh, your eyes
have changed, Eagle Man, they're all nice and shiny."

He smiled with great fondness at her. "My dear," he said, "how can a man
fail to indulge in nice shining eyes after contact with a family of rare
visionaries?"

Suzanna did not understand that. She knew only that the Eagle Man had
greatly changed, that he seemed kinder, more understanding, and all at
once she knew why. He had had of late the ineffable privilege of being
close to her father. Of course, by such proximity he must grow kind and
understanding.

"Richard," said the capitalist, "there's trouble threatened in the
foreign section of the mills."

"Trouble?" Richard Procter's head went up.

"Yes, the men are dissatisfied, surly. It's the one department where
your touch hasn't been felt. I want you to go there on Monday and begin
your work."

"I'll be ready," said Richard Procter. Strength and purpose seemed to
flow back to him.

The Eagle Man turned as though to go, but he paused at the door to look
again at Suzanna.

"And so your father's been telling you that he has failed, that his
machine refused to work in the final test we gave it at the mills."

"My father hasn't failed," Suzanna said proudly.

"No, he hasn't failed," the Eagle Man agreed. "He hasn't failed. He's
the most brilliant success I know. He built into a piece of machinery
his ideals, and when the machine was finished he saw in his experiments
with it on those in his home ultimate triumph. But when it was taken to
my mills the machine failed to register color in personalities whose
chief talent by years of wrong work had been nearly strangled."

Mr. Procter spoke: "It shouldn't have failed even there. It did
register, if you remember your color and Mr. Bartlett's, and both of you
had pulled far away from your purpose."

"Yes, for some reason, it did register us," agreed the Eagle Man. He
paused, and then his voice rang out. "Let me tell you all something that
the inventor of that machine did, some miracle he brought to pass I
should have thought impossible. He awakened old ideals in a hard old
breast, he made hard old eyes see in men, not automatons born only to
add to his wealth, but human beings to be rendered happy in their work."

"Was yours the hard old breast, Eagle Man?" Suzanna asked.

"Yes, Suzanna. A result like that is worth while, eh, Richard?"

Mr. Procter did not answer, could not, because he feared at the moment
that he could not speak intelligently.

The Eagle Man turned to the wife, adoringly silent as she listened.

"Three men Richard Procter brought to me on his first day in my mills.
He said: 'These men have ambitions, they are greatly talented. You must
give them their chance.'"

"And what did you say?" asked Mrs. Procter softly.

"Oh, I snarled as usual, but that was really the work I wanted him to
do. I wanted him to do in the circumscribed field of my mills that which
he had built his machine to do. And so I snapped out: 'All right, put
the burden on me! I'll give them their chance just because you say so.'
And where men were dissatisfied he got at them and discovered the
trouble, and down there they all trust him, and his influence will be
like a river flowing on, ever widening. So there's the late history of
the man who stands and calls himself a failure."

So he finished, said not another word, looked once at the inventor, and
then went away.

       *       *       *       *       *

Suzanna, trying in vain that night to sleep, tossed about restlessly.
Maizie, a sound sleeper, did not stir despite her sister's wakefulness.
Suzanna was thinking of her father, of the Eagle Man, of The Machine.

Suddenly she lay quite still. She was remembering the day when The
Machine had registered her color, a soft purple, gold tipped. How
stirred her father had been when the wavering color spread itself upon
the glass plate. It had repeated its marvel for Maizie and Peter. Why
then when The Machine was removed and conveyed to the big steel mills,
did it stand brooding, sulky, refusing to make any record of any
personality. She sat up straight in bed, her eyes yearning forward into
the dark. And all at once the answer came to her. Only in the attic,
where, piece by piece, in prayer, hope, and jubilation it had been
assembled; where love and belief had formed the atmosphere could The
Machine be its own highly sensitive self, reacting and responding.

With that big thought flowing through her, she slipped from the bed. The
night was warm, soft little breezes coming through the open window. She
went to the closet, found her slippers, put them on, and with a backward
glance at the unconscious Maizie, left the room.

The hall lay quiet, the tiny night lamp flickering in its place on the
small table set near her mother's room--that mother, ready at the first
sound to spring to any need of her children.

Downstairs Suzanna went swiftly, and there in the dining-room, as she
had thought, she found her father. He was sitting at the long table,
above which hung the new lamp with its pink shade and long brass chain.
His head was bent over a big book, and Suzanna knew that he was
studying. She paused half-way to him. In her white night gown, her hair
flowing over her shoulders, she looked like a small visitor from another
higher plane. At last her father, impelled, turned and saw her. At once
he opened wide his arms, and she went into them.

She lay, her cheek pressed against his, for a long time. All the
thoughts that had raced through her upstairs in the sleepless hours
returned to her, but she had to struggle to find language in which to
tell them.

"Daddy," she began, "maybe The Machine can't work except where it was
born."

"Tell me all that's in your heart, little girl," he said.

"Well, we've all thought of The Machine, and loved it and believed in it
ever since I was the tiniest girl, and you've talked to us of what it
was to mean."

"All true, my child, all true."

"And The Machine stood there and listened, daddy." She released herself
from his clasp and stood very straight. Her dark eyes seeing pictures,
were brilliantly wide. Her breath came quickly from between her parted
lips: "And so it grew and grew, and soon out of its soul it sent colors.
And it loved the man who made it, and it loved his little children, and
made them all want to be good and do something for others.

"And then one day, they took it away from its home and into a big mill,
and men crowded around it and looked at it, but they didn't love it, and
they didn't believe in it. And it felt shy and hurt and the color stayed
in its soul and wouldn't come forth.

"And the man who had made it felt sad and he cried, and he took his
machine home. And then one day, years and years after when the man's
little girl, Suzanna, was a woman and she was out in the world trying to
do good, as her father had taught her, trying to make other people
happy, the colors crept out from The Machine again, all gold and purple
and rose and green, this time for everybody."

She finished, and with a great cry her father folded her to him. The
tears came streaming to his eyes, and quite frankly now he wept. She
felt the hot tears upon her face, they burned her, but she knew she had
helped him and she was satisfied.

They sat on in a wonderful silence. A distant clock struck one. They
heard the sound of quickly descending feet, and turning, Suzanna saw her
mother standing in the doorway.

"I heard voices," said Mrs. Procter.

"Come here," her husband said. She saw his face transfigured, and she
went to him and fell on her knees beside him.

"Courage--belief?" she questioned.

"Yes, they have returned," he said.

Suzanna spoke again: "Daddy," she said, in her eager voice, "I forgot to
tell you of a nice happening. You know when we were at the seashore with
Mr. Bartlett, John, the waiter at the hotel, said something one day
about a son of his who wanted to write beautiful music, and Mr. Bartlett
said right before me: 'John, let me help that boy of yours. This little
girl's father has shown me the beauty of doing good for others.'"

The inventor did not speak. He sat, his arms about his wife and child,
and in his eyes the radiance of new inspiration, new purpose.

At last his wife spoke. "Richard, could success as you planned it, have
meant more, and wouldn't it have brushed some of the butterfly dust
away?"

He took the thought, pondered it, and his wife went on. "There's the
joy of striving, of waking fresh every day to hope. Can attainment,
after all, give any greater joy?"

"Perhaps not," he murmured.

"So, dear," she went on, "think of what has been done, not of what you
wished for. Think what you've done for our children. You took them with
you into your land of dreams, letting them share with you as far as you
might, that thrill which comes to the creator."

"And, daddy," finished Suzanna, "if The Machine had gone away to stay,
we couldn't have any more beautiful Saturday afternoons in the attic
with you."

They remained then all very still. Peter cried out a little in his
sleep. His mother, alert at once, listened, then relaxed when the cry
did not come again, and then Suzanna asked, "Are you still very, very
sad, daddy?"

And he answered, "The sadness has gone, Suzanna. Come another Saturday,
I shall take up the work again--and some day--"

"Some day all the world will say my father is a great man," ended
Suzanna, an unfaltering faith written upon her face.

And so her love, like an essence, flowed out and healed his spirit.



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Page 11, 'rythmic' changed to "rhythmic" (rhythmic noises)

Page 120, "base ball" changed to "baseball". (to mend a baseball)

Page 125, "Reyonlds'" changed to "Reynolds'". (Reynolds' gate.)

Page 249, hyphen added to "every-day" to match rest of text.(the real
every-day life)

Page 290, "white clad" changed to "white-clad" to match usage. (The
white-clad nurse)

Page 347, "cobble stones" changed to "cobble-stones" to fit rest of
text. (out on the cobble-stones)

Page 363, "wistaria" changed to "wisteria" (wistera gown)





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