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´╗┐Title: People Like That
Author: Bosher, Kate Langley, 1865-1932
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "People Like That" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



PEOPLE LIKE THAT

A NOVEL

by

KATE LANGLEY BOSHER

Author of "Mary Cary" etc.

Illustrated

1916



BOOKS BY

KATE LANGLEY BOSHER

 PEOPLE LIKE THAT. Illustrated. Post 8vo
 HOW IT HAPPENED. Frontispiece. Post 8vo
 THE HOUSE OF HAPPINESS. Frontispiece. Post 8vo
 MARY CARY. Frontispiece. Post 8vo
 MISS GIBBIE GAULT. Frontispiece. Post 8vo
 THE MAN IN LONELY LAND. Frontispiece. Post 8vo



TO

LUCY BOSHER JANNEY



CHAPTER I

One of the advantages of being an unrequired person of twenty-six,
with an income sufficient for necessities, is the right of choice as
to a home locality.  I am that sort of person, and, having exercised
said right, I am now living in Scarborough Square.

To my friends and relatives it is amazing, inexplicable, and beyond
understanding that I should wish to live here.  I do not try to make
them understand; and therein lies grievance against me.  Because of
my failure to explain what they are pleased to call a peculiar
decision on my part, I am at present the subject of heated criticism.
It will soon stop.  What a person does or doesn't do is of little
importance to more than three or four people.  By Christmas my
foolishness will have ceased to cause comment, ceased to interest
those to whom it doesn't matter really where or how I live.

I like living in Scarborough Square very much.  After many years
spent in the homes of others I am now the head of half a house, the
whole of which is mine; and even though it is situated on the last
square of respectability in a part of the town long forgotten by the
descendants of its former residents, I am filled with a sense of
proprietorship that is warm and comforting, and already I have
learned to love it--this nice, old-fashioned house in which I live.

Until very recently Scarborough Square was only a name.  There had
been no reason to visit it, and had I ventured to it I would have
seen little save a tiny park bounded on four sides by houses of
shabby gentility, for the most part detached, and of a style of
architecture long since surrendered to more undesirable designs.  The
park is but an open space whose straggly trees and stunted shrubs and
dusty grass add dejection to the atmosphere of shrinking
respectability which the neighborhood still makes effort to maintain;
but that, too, I have learned to love, for I see in it that which I
never noticed in the large and handsome parks up-town.

As a place of residence this section of the city I am just beginning
to know has become very interesting to me.  No one of importance
lives near it, and the occupants of its houses, realizing their
social submergence and pecuniary impotence, have too long existed in
the protection of obscurity to venture into the publicity which civic
attention necessitates, and on first acquaintance it is not
attractive.  I agree with my friends in that.  I did not come here
because I thought it was an attractive place in which to live.

They cannot say, however, even my most protesting friends, that I am
not living in a perfectly proper neighborhood.  The front of my house
faces, beyond the discouraged little park, a strata of streets which
unfold from lessening degrees of dreariness and dinginess to
ever-increasing expensiveness and unashamed architectural
extravaganzas, to the summit of residential striving, called, for
impressiveness, the Avenue, but behind it is a section of the city of
which I am as ignorant as if it were in the depths of the sea or the
wilds of primeval forest.  I have traveled much, but I do not know
the city wherein I live.  I know but a part of it, the pretty part.


There was something Mrs. Mundy wanted to say to me to-night, and did
not say.  I love the dear soul.  I could not live here without her,
could not learn what I am learning without her help and sympathy and
loyalty, but at times I wish she were a bit less fond of chatting.
She is greatly puzzled.  She, too, cannot understand why I have come
to Scarborough Square to live, and I am quite certain she thinks it
strange I do not tell her.  How can I tell that of which I am not
sure myself--that is, clearly and definitely sure?

I am not trying to be sure.  It is enough that I am here, free to
come and go as I choose, to plan my day as I wish, to have time for
the things I once had no time for, and why must there always be
explanations and reasons and justifications for one's acts?  The
daily realization each morning, on awaking, that the day is mine,
that there are no customs with which to comply, no regulations to
follow, no conventions to be conformed to, at the end of two weeks
still stirs and thrills and awes me a little, and I am constantly
afraid it is not true that I am here to stay.  And then again with
something of fear and shrinking and uncertainty I realize my bridges
are burned and I must stay.

"It's pleased you are with your rooms, I hope, Miss Dandridge?"
Hands on her hips, Mrs. Mundy had looked somewhat anxiously at me
before going out.  "If it's a home-looking place you're after, you've
got it, but when you first come down to Scarborough Square it made me
feel queer inside to think of your living here, really living.  If
you think you can be satisfied--"

"I am sure I can be satisfied.  Why not?"  I smiled and, going over
to the window, straightened the curtain which had caught and twisted
a fern-leaf growing in its box.  "I am a perfectly unincumbered human
being who--"

"But an unincumbered woman ain't much of a human being."  Mrs. Mundy
dropped the afternoon paper she had brought up and stooped to get it.
"I mean a woman is made for incumbrances, and if she don't have
any--"  She hesitated, and looked around the room with its simple
furnishings, its firelight and lamplight, its many books and few
pictures, its rugs and desk and tables, the gifts of other days, and
presently she spoke again.  "Being you like so to look out the
windows, it's well this house has two front rooms opening into each
other.  If it's comfortable and convenient that you want to be,
you're certainly that, but comforts and conveniences don't keep you
company exactly."

"I don't want company yet.  You and Bettina are all I need.  I
haven't said I was to live here a thousand years, or that I wouldn't
get tired of myself in less time, but until I do--"

There was a ring at the front-door bell and Mrs. Mundy went to answer
it.  The puzzled look I often saw in her eyes when talking to me
still filled them, but she said nothing more except good night, and
when I heard her footsteps in the hall below I went to the door and
locked it.  This new privacy, this sense of freedom from unescapable
interruption, was still so precious, that though an unnecessary
precaution, I turned the key that I might feel perfectly sure of
quiet hours ahead, and at my sigh of satisfaction I laughed.

Going into my bedroom, which adjoined my sitting-room, I hung in the
closet the coat I had left on a chair, put away my hat and gloves,
and again looked around, as if they were still strange--the white bed
and bureau, the wash-rugs, the muslin curtains, the many contrasts to
former furnishings--and again I sighed contentedly.  They were mine.

The house I am now living in is indeed an old-fashioned one, but well
built and of admirable design.  The rooms are few--only eight in
all--and four of them I have taken for myself--the upper four.  The
lower floor is occupied by Mrs. Mundy and Bettina, her little
granddaughter.  When I first saw the house its condition was
discouraging.  Not for some time had it been occupied, and repairs of
all kinds were needed.  To get it in order gave me strange joy, and
the weeks in which it was being painted and papered and beautified
with modern necessities were of an interest only a person, a woman
person, can feel who has never had a home of her own before.  When
everything was finished, the furnishings in place, and I established,
I knew, what I no longer made effort to deny to myself--that I was
doing a daring thing.  I was taking chances in a venture I was still
afraid to face.



CHAPTER II

Kitty came to see me yesterday.  Her mortification at my living in
Scarborough Square is poignant.  Not since she learned of my doing so
has her amazement, her incredulity, her indignation and resentment,
lessened in the least, but her curiosity is great and her affection
sincere, and yesterday she yielded to both.

She was on her wedding journey when I left the house in which for
many years we had lived together, and, knowing it would spoil her
trip did I tell of what I had done, I did not tell.  Two days ago she
got back, and over the telephone I gave her my new address.

"But I can't understand--"  During most of her visit Kitty was
crying.  She cries easily and well.  "I can't take it in, can't even
glimpse why you want to live in such a horrid old place.  It's awful!"

"Oh no, it isn't.  It's a very nice place.  Look how the sun comes
through those little panes of glass in those deep windows and chirps
all over the floor.  I never knew before how much company sunshine
could be; how many different things it could do, until I came to
Scarborough Square.  This is a very interesting place, Kitty."

"It's fearful!"  Kitty shuddered.  "The sun shines much better on the
Avenue, and you might as well be dead as live in this part of the
town.  When people ask me where you are I'm--"

"Ashamed to tell them?"  I laughed.  "Don't tell them, if the telling
mortifies you.  Those who object to visiting me in my new home will
soon forget I'm living.  Those to whom it does not matter where I
live will find where I am without asking you.  I wouldn't bother."

"But what must I say when people ask me why you've come down here?
why you've made this awful change from living among the best people
to living among these--I don't know what they are.  Nobody knows."

"They are perfectly good people."  I took a pin out of Kitty's hat
and tried the latter at a different angle.  "The man on the corner is
named Crimm.  He's a policeman.  The girl next door makes cigarettes,
and her friend around the corner works at the Nottingham Overall
factory.  The cigarette-girl has a beau who walks home with her every
evening.  He's delicate and can't take a job indoors.  Just at
present he's an assistant to the keeper of Cherry Hill Park."

Kitty stared at me as if not sure she heard aright.  The tears in her
big blue eyes disappeared and into them came incredulity.  "Do you
know them--the cigarette-girl, and the overall-girl, and the
policeman?"  Her voice was thin with dismay and unbelief.  "Do you
really know people like that?"

"I do."  I laughed in the puzzled and protesting face, kissed it.
"To every sort of people other people not of their sort are 'people
like that.'  Our customs and characteristics and habits of thought
and manner of life separate us into our particular groups, but in
many ways all people are dreadfully alike, Kitty.  To the little
cigarette-girl you're a 'person like that.'  Did you ever wonder what
she thought of you?"

"Why should I wonder?  It doesn't matter what she thinks.  I don't
know her, never will know her.  I can't understand why you want to
know her, to know people who--"

"I want to know all sorts of people."  Again I tilted Kitty's hat,
held her off so as to get a better effect.  "You see, I've wondered
sometimes what they thought of us--these people who haven't had our
chance.  Points of view always interest me."

"What difference does it make what they think?  You're the queerest
person I've ever known!  You aren't very religious.  You never did go
to church as much as I did.  Are you going in for slums?"

"I am not.  I wouldn't be a success at slumming.  I'm not going in
for anything except--"

"Except what?"

"My dear Kitty," I picked up the handkerchief she had dropped and put
it on the table, "I wouldn't try to understand, if I were you, why
people do things.  Usually it's because they have to, or because they
want to, and occasionally there are other reasons.  I used to wonder,
for instance, why certain people married each other.  Often now, as I
watch husbands and wives together, I still wonder if, unmarried, they
would select each other again.  I suppose you went to the Bertrands'
dinner-dance last night?"

"I went, but I wish I hadn't.  Billy didn't want to go, and we came
away as soon as we could.  Everybody asked about you.  I haven't seen
any one yet who doesn't think it very strange that you won't live
with me.  That beautiful little Marie Antoinette suite on the third
floor is all fixed for you, and you could use the automobiles as much
as you choose.  It's wicked and cruel in you to do like this and not
live with me.  It looks so--"

"Peculiar."  I nodded in the eyes as blue as a baby's.  "But a person
who isn't peculiar isn't much of a person.  You see, I don't care for
things which are already fixed for me.  I like to do my own fixing.
And I don't want to live in anybody else's home, not even yours,
though you are dear to want me.  I am grateful, but I prefer to live
here.  My present income would make an undignified affair of life
among the friends of other days.  I'd feel continually as if I were
overboard and holding on to a slippery plank.  Down here I'm
independent.  I have enough for my needs and something to give--.
That's a good-looking hat you have on.  Did you get it in Paris?"

Kitty shook her head.  "New York."  Otherwise she ignored my
question.  Hats usually interested her.  She talked well concerning
them, but to-day she would not be diverted from more insistent
subjects.

"It must have cost a good deal to fix up this old house.  Anywhere
else it would look very well."  Her eyes were missing no detail.
"You'd make a pig-sty pretty, but it takes money--"

"Everything takes money.  I sold two or three pieces of Aunt
Matilda's jewelry for enough to put the house in order.  She expected
me to sell what I did not wish to keep.  In her will was a note to
that effect."

"She had more jewelry than any human being I ever saw."  Into Kitty's
face came dawning understanding.  "It was the only way she could
leave you any of--"

"Your father's money," I nodded.  "Not until after her death did I
understand why she used to take all of your father's gifts in
jewelry.  I know now."

"It was a good investment.  I wish she'd bought twice as much.  She
had so little else to leave you," Kitty was looking at me
speculatively.  "How on earth are you going to live on a thousand
dollars a year?  Our servants cost us twice that.  Billy says it's
awful, but--"

"It is if you can't afford it.  You can.  I believe all people ought
to spend every dollar they can afford, and not a cent they can't.
That's what I do.  Aunt Matilda thought I was impractical, but I'm
fearfully prudent.  I live within my income and I've deposited with a
trust company, so I can't spend it, a sum of money quite large enough
to care for me through a spell of illness in the greediest of
hospitals, if I should be ill.  And if I should die I'm prepared for
all expenses.  It's a mistake to think I don't look ahead.  I thought
once of having a stone put up in the cemetery so as to be sure I had
not forgotten anything, but I guess that can wait."

Kitty, still staring at me, got up.  "I never expect to understand
you.  Neither does father.  He's mortified to death about your coming
down here to live.  He knows people are talking; so do I; and we
don't know what to say."

"Oh, people always talk!  And don't say anything.  No one escapes
criticism.  It's human pastime to indulge in it.  To prefer
Scarborough Square to the Avenue may be queer, but at present I do
prefer it.  That's why I'm here.  You can say that if you choose."

"You've got no business preferring it."  Kitty snapped the buttons of
her glove with tearful emphasis.  "Mrs. Jamieson said last night that
a person with eyes and eyelashes like yours had no right to live as
you are living, with just an old woman to do things for you.  She
came down to see why you were here, but you wouldn't tell her.  She
can't understand any more than I can."

I kissed Kitty good-by, but I did not try to make her understand.  I
no longer try to make people understand things.  Many of them can't.
Kitty is a dear child, adorably blue-eyed and pink-cheeked, and
possessed of an amount of worldly wisdom that is always amazing and
at times distressing, but much that interests me has, so far, never
interested her.  Refusing to study, she has little education, but she
has traveled a good deal, speaks excellent French, dances perfectly,
dresses admirably, and has charming manners when she wishes.  I love
her very much, but I no longer feel it is my duty to live with her.

I am not living in Scarborough Square because I feel it is my duty to
live here.  Thank Heaven, I don't have to tell any one why I am here!



CHAPTER III

Kitty's mother had been dead only a year when Aunt Matilda, who had
adopted me several years earlier on the death of my parents, married
her father.  I was twelve and Kitty eight when the marriage took
place, and with canny care I tried to shield her from the severity of
Aunt Matilda's system in rearing a child.  I had been reared by it.

I owe much to Aunt Matilda.  She sent me to good schools, to a good
college; took me with her on most of her trips abroad, and at twenty
presented me to society, but she never knew me, never in the least
understood the hunger in my heart for what it was not in her power to
give.  I never told her there was hunger in my heart.  I rarely told
her of anything she could not see for herself.

In childhood I had learned the fixedness of her ideas, the rigidity
of her type of mind, the relentlessness of her will; and that
independence on my part survived was due to sturdy stubbornness, to a
refusal to be dominated, and an incapacity for subjection.  But this,
too, she failed to understand.

That I would not marry as she wished was a grievous blow to her.  I
had no desire to marry, and it was when refusing to do so that
certain realizations came to me sharply, and all the more acutely,
because I had so long been seemingly indifferent to them.  On the
morning following the night in which I had faced frankly undeniable
facts I went to Aunt Matilda's room and told her I could no longer be
dependent, told her of my purpose to earn my own living.  I was
strong, healthy, well educated.  There was no reason why I should not
do what other women were doing.

As I talked her amazement and indignation deepened into anger, and
had I been a child I "would undoubtedly have been punished for my
impertinence and audacity in daring to desire to go out into the
world to earn what there was no necessity for my earning.  Socially,
a woman could be autocratic, I was told, but in all things else she
should be dependent on the stronger sex.

"But there is no stronger-sex person for me to be dependent upon,
even were I willing to depend," I said, and made effort to keep back
what I must not say to her, but surely would have said to others.
For years I had been the recipient of her bounty, the object of her
care, and she still thought of me as something to be protected.  That
I should prefer to work, prefer to take my place in the world of
women-workers, was beyond her grasp.

"Mr. Chesmond understood when I married him--it is part of our
marriage contract--that you were to have the same advantages as his
daughter.  He has very willingly given you these.  If you no longer
care to accept his protection, you can marry.  Opportunities such as
come to few girls have come to you.  A home of your own is yours for
the taking.  In my day--"

"But this is not your day!"  I bit my lip.  When Aunt Matilda's face
got a certain shade of red and her breath became short and quick, I
was uneasy.  The doctor had warned us of the seriousness of her
condition.  She was pitifully afraid of death--it was the only thing
she was afraid of--and death might come at any time.  To prevent
excitement there must be with her no discussion, and, as far as
possible, no opposition to her will.

"Your day and mine are very far apart."  I made effort to speak
quietly.  "Women no longer have to be adjuncts to men because they
don't know how to be anything else.  They can stand up now by
themselves.  Conditions have forced them to face life much more--"

"Face fiddlesticks!"  Aunt Matilda's hands made an impatient gesture.
"Women have no business doing what many of them are doing today.
They are forgetting the place to which they were appointed by their
Creator.  But even if you were at liberty to carry out your silly
ideas, what could you do?  How could you earn your living?  You play
well, paint a little, read books that do you no good, and hardly
enough of the new novels to discuss them.  All this sociological
stuff, those scientific things I see in your room, are absurd for a
woman to bother with.  Men dislike women who think too much and know
too much.  You are well educated and clever enough, but what could
you do if you were suddenly left without means of support?"

"I don't know what I could do.  It's what I want to find out.  Half
of my life has been spent in school and college, and during these
years I was taught little that would be of practical service in case
of need.  I'd like to use part of my time trying to make educators
understand they don't educate.  For cultural purposes, for acquiring
knowledge of facts, their system may be admirable, but for the
pursuit of a happy livelihood--"

I stopped.  Aunt Matilda was looking at me as if I were suffering
from an attack of some kind.  Marriage to her was the divinely
arranged destiny for a woman, and she had neither patience nor
sympathy with my refusal to accept the opportunity that was mine to
fulfil the destiny of my sex and at the same time become the wife of
the man she had long wished me to marry.  The power of money was dear
to her.  She understood it well, and my failure to appreciate it
properly was peculiarly exasperating to her.  Discussion was useless.
It never got farther than where it started.  If I said that which I
wanted much to say, it would merely mean hearing again what I did not
want to hear.  Concerning the pursuit of a happy livelihood we were
not apt to agree.

For a half-minute longer I hesitated.  Should I make the issue now or
wait until there had been time for her to realize I meant what I
said?  Before I could speak she did that which I had never seen her
do before.  She burst into tears.

"You must never mention such a thing as this again."  Her words came
stumblingly and her usually firm and strong hands trembled badly.
"With my health in its present condition I couldn't get on without
you.  You are all I have to really love, and I need you.  Don't you
see what you have done?  You have made me ill.  Ill!"

She was strangely upset and in her eyes was a confused and frightened
look that was new to them, and quickly I went toward her, but she
motioned me away.

"Give me my medicine, and don't ever speak of such a thing
again--such a thing as you have just spoken of!  You have always been
beyond my comprehension."

She swallowed the medicine I brought her in nervous gulps, the tears
running down her face as they might have done down a child's, but she
would not let me do anything for her, insisting only that she wanted
to be quiet.  Seeing it was best to leave her, I went to my room and
locked the door, and for hours I fought the hardest fight of my life.

The one weapon she knew she could use effectively, she had used.  If
she needed me I could not leave her, but her complete self-reliance
made it difficult to feel that any one was necessary to her.  I was
indignant at the way she had treated me.  I was not a child to be
disposed of, and yet of my future she was disposing as though it were
a thing that could be tied to a string, and untied at will.  Were she
well and strong, I would take matters in my own hands and make the
break.  Surely I could do something!  I had no earning capacity, but
other women had made their way, and I could make mine.  If she were
perfectly well--

But she was not well.  Through those first hours, and through most of
the hours of the night that followed, the knowledge of the insidious
disease that was hers was the high, hard wall against which I struck
at every turn of thought, at every possibility at which I grasped,
and in the dawn of a new day I knew I must not go away.

It was not easy to surrender.  Always my two selves are fighting and
I wanted much to know more of life than I could know in the costly
shelter, controlled by custom and convention, wherein I lived.  I had
long been looking through stained glass.  I was restless to get out
and see clearly, to know all sorts of people, all conditions of life,
and the chance had seemed within my grasp--and now it must be given
up.

There are times when I am heedless of results, when I am daring and
audacious and count no cost, but that is only where I alone am
concerned.  When it comes to making decisions which affect others I
am a coward.  I lack the courage to have my own way at the expense of
some one else; and though through the night I protested stormily, if
inwardly, that I was not meant for gilded cages, but for contact, for
encounter, I knew I should yield in the end.

The next day I told her I would not go away.  She said nothing save
she hardly thought I had entirely lost my senses, but the thing I am
gladdest to remember since her death is the look that came into her
eyes when I told her.  For two years longer I lived with her, years
for her of practical invalidism, and for me of opportunity to do for
her what she had never permitted me to do before.  Two weeks after
Kitty's marriage she died suddenly, and at times I still shiver with
the cold clamminess that came over me as I stood by her in her last
sleep and realized my aloneness in the world.  My parents had died in
my early childhood.  I had no brothers or sisters, no near relatives,
save an uncle who lived abroad and some cousins here in town.  Mr.
Chesmond was very kind, but I could not continue to accept what he
had willingly given his wife's adopted child, and Kitty no longer
needed me.  It is a fearful feeling, this sense of belonging to no
one, of having no one belonging to you.  Lest it overwhelm me, I went
at once to work upon the house in Scarborough Square left me by Aunt
Matilda, together with an annuity of a thousand dollars.  Already it
means much to me.  For a while, at least, it is a haven, a shelter, a
home.  What it may prove--

I have been thinking much to-day of Aunt Matilda.  Perhaps it is
because Selwyn was here last night.  She was afraid I would marry him.



CHAPTER IV

I did not tell Selwyn I was coming to Scarborough Square to live.  I
told no one.  The day after I reached here I sent him a note, giving
him my new address.

His answer was short and stiff.  He was leaving town on a business
trip and would see me on his return, he wrote, and as I read what was
not written between what was I was glad he was going away.  It would
give him time to cool off.  I am beyond Selwyn's comprehension.  We
should not be friends, we are so apart in many matters.  But
compatible people must find life dull.  Selwyn and I are never dull.

When he first called I was out, and last night he called again.  As
Mrs. Mundy, with his coat and hat, closed the door behind her, he
held out his hand.

"Well?"  He looked at me, but in his eyes was no smiling.

"Well?"  I shook hands and smiled.

For a half-moment we said nothing, and frowningly he turned away.
Always he radiated the security that comes of fixed position, a past
without challenge, a future provided for; but tonight I was conscious
only of the quiet excellence of his clothes, his physical well-being,
the unescapableness of his eyes, and the cut of his chin.  He is a
most determined person.  So am I--which perhaps accounts for our
rather stormy friendship.

"Don't you think I have a very nice home?" I took my seat in a corner
of the big chintz-covered sofa in front of the fire and close to the
long table with its lighted lamp and books and magazines, and
motioned him to sit down.  "I'm entirely fixed.  I hope you like this
room.  I love it.  I've never had one of my very own before."

"It's very pretty."

Selwyn took his seat without looking around.  He did not know whether
it was pretty or not.  He was not at all interested in the room.

For a moment he looked at me with eyes narrowed and his forehead
ridged in tiny, perpendicular folds.  Presently he leaned forward,
his hands between his knees and fingers interlocked.

"How long do you propose to stay down here?" he asked.

"I really do not know.  I thought you were going to congratulate me
upon living the life I want to live."

"I do.  Until you get this thing out of your system--"

"What thing?"  I, too, leaned forward.  The tone of his voice made
something in me flare.  "What thing?" I repeated.

Selwyn's shoulders shrugged slightly.  He sat up, then leaned back,
his hands in his pockets.  "Why discuss it?  You've long wanted to do
something of this sort.  Until it was done you would never be
content.  What you want to do, I doubt if you know yourself.  Are you
slumming?  Uplifting?"

"I am not.  I'm neither a slummer nor an uplifter.  A slummer helps.
I'm just looking on."  I threw the cushion behind me to the other end
of the sofa.  "I thought it might be interesting to see for myself
some of the causes which produce conditions.  I've read a good deal,
but one doesn't exactly sense things by reading.  I want to see."

"And after you see?"  Selwyn made an impatient movement with his
hand.  "A thousand years from now humanity may get results from
scientific management in social organization, but most of your
present-day methods are about as practical as trying to empty the
ocean with a teaspoon or to pick a posy out of swamp grass."

"What do you know of present-day methods?"

"Very little.  Beating the air doesn't interest me.  Most people seem
to forget the processes of nature; seem to imagine that certain
things can be brought to pass quickly which can only be accomplished
slowly.  From the first struggle of the human race to stand upright,
to articulate, to find food, to strike fire, to paddle in water, to
wear covering, to forage, explore--  What is the matter?"

"Nothing."  I leaned back in the corner of the sofa, my hands, palms
upward, in my lap, my eyes on them that he might not see their
smiling.  "I was just wondering what that had to do with certain
present-day conditions, certain injustices and inequalities,
certain--"

"It explains them to some extent.  From the earliest days of dawning
thought, from the first efforts at self-expression, humanity has
grouped itself not only into families, tribes, communities, nations,
or what you will, but in each of these divisions there have ever been
subdivisions.  Ignorance and knowledge, strength and weakness, power
and incapacity, find their level, rise or fall according to their
proper place.  If you have any little dreams of making all human
beings after one pattern--"

"I haven't.  It would be as uninteresting as impossible.  But it is
queer--"

"What is queer?"  Selwyn stooped forward and broke a lump of coal
from which sprang blazing reds and curling blues of flame.  "Why did
you stop?"

"I was thinking it was queer you should know so much of the history
of the human race and so little of its life to-day.  As a shrugger
you stand off."

"For the love of Heaven don't let's get on that!"

With swift movement he took a cigar from one pocket, a match-case
from another.  "May I smoke?" he asked, irritably, and as I nodded he
struck a match and held it to the cigar in his mouth, then threw it
in the fire.  Presently he looked at me.

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming here--for a while?"

"It would have meant more argument.  You would not have approved."

"I most assuredly would not.  But that would have made no difference.
My disapproval would not have prevented."

"No.  I should have come, of course.  But I was tired, and useless
discussion does no good.  We would have said again the same old
things we've said so often, and I didn't want to say them or hear
them.  One of the reasons why I came down here was to talk with
people who weren't born with made-up minds, and who don't have high
walls around their homes."

"There are times when I would like to put them around you!  If you
were mine I'd do it."

"No, you wouldn't.  You know perfectly well what I would do with
walls.  That is the kind you think should be around a woman.  But we
won't get on that, either.  Were you ever in Scarborough Square
before?"

Selwyn nodded and looked, not at me, but at the spirals of smoke from
his cigar.  "My grandfather used to live on the opposite side of the
Square, and as a kid I was brought occasionally to see him.  I barely
remember him.  He died thirty years ago."

"It's difficult to imagine this was once the fashionable part of the
city, and that gorgeous parties and balls--" I sat upright and
laughed.  "I went to a party last night.  It was a wonderful party."

"You did what?"

Selwyn's cigar was held suspended on its way to his lips.  "Whose
party?  Where was it?"

"Two doors from here.  The girl who gave it, or rather, to whom it
was given, is named Bryce--Evelyn Bryce.  She is a friend of Mrs.
Mundy's and is a printer.  I never knew a girl printer until I came
down here."

Selwyn's look of amazed disapprobation had its usual effect.  I
hadn't intended to mention the party, and instantly I went into its
details.

"All kinds of people were at it and every woman had on a dress which
entirely covered her.  When I was a child I adored a person named
Wyman, who used to give performances in which all sorts of unexpected
things happened.  Last night was a sort of Wyman night."

"I did not know you were going to parties."  Selwyn's tone was curt.

"I am not--to your sort."  My face flushed.  "I said this girl was a
printer.  I should have said she used to be.  Two years ago she was
caught in some machinery at the place where she worked and has never
been able to stand up since.  On her birthday her friends give her a
party that she may have a bit of brightness.  I went over to play
that they might dance.  She is fond of music and an old piano has
recently been given her by--by some one interested in her."

For a moment there was silence, then throwing his cigar in the fire,
Selwyn got up and stood looking down at me.  In his eyes was strange
worry and unrest.

"I beg your pardon."  He bit his lips.  "I've been pretty ragged of
late and I'm always thoughtless.  For two weeks I've seen no
one--that is, no friend of yours or mine who hasn't asked me why you
have done so inexplicable a thing as to leave everybody you know and
go into a part of the town where you know nobody and where--"

"It's because I want to know all sorts of people."  Something in
Selwyn's face stopped me, and, getting up from the sofa, I went over
to the window and raised it slightly.  My heart was pounding.  I
could laugh away the questions of others and ignore their comments,
but with Selwyn this would be impossible.  An overwhelming sense of
distance and separation came over me demoralizingly as I pretended to
rearrange the curtain, and for a moment words would not come.

I knew, of course, that Selwyn had neither patience nor sympathy with
my desire to know more of life than I could learn in the particular
world into which I had been born, but the keener realization to-night
made between us a wide and separating gulf, and I felt suddenly alone
and uncertain, and dispirited and afraid.

In our love of books, of digging deep into certain subjects, of
historic questing and speculative discussions we are closely
sympathetic, but in many viewpoints we are as apart as the poles.
Perhaps we will always be.

Selwyn by heritage and training and natural inclination is
conventional and conservative.  I am not.  To walk in beaten tracks
is not easy for me.  I want to explore for myself.  He thinks a woman
has no business in by-paths.  Our opposing beliefs do not make for
placid friendship.

It is Selwyn's indifference to life, to its problems and struggles
and many-sidedness, that makes me at times impatient with him beyond
restraint.  In his profession he is successful.  His ambition makes
him work, but a weariness of things, of the unworthwhileness of human
effort, the futility of striving, the emptiness of achievement,
possesses him frequently, and in his dark days he pays the penalty of
his points of view.  If only he could see, could understand--.

I turned from the window and again sat down in my corner of the sofa
and motioned him to take his seat.

"Don't let's argue to-night.  I'm pretty tired and argument would do
no good.  We'd just say things we shouldn't.  You said just now you
doubted if you knew why I was here.  I may not be sure of all my
reasons, but one of them is, I wanted to get away from--there."  My
hand made motion in a vague direction intended for my former
neighborhood.

"Do you find this section of the city a satisfactory change?"
Selwyn's tone was ironic.  He looked for a moment into the eyes I
raised to his, then turned away and, hands in his pockets, began to
walk up and down the room.  When he spoke again his voice had changed.

"Don't mind anything I say to-night.  I shouldn't have come.  I'm a
bit raw yet that you should have done this without telling me.  You
have a right to do as you choose, of course, only--.  Besides getting
away from your old life--were there other reasons?"

"Not very definite ones."  Into my face came surge of color, and,
turning, I cut off the light in the lamp behind me.  "When one is in
a parade one can't see what it looks like, very often doesn't
understand where it is going.  I want to see the one I was in, see
from the sidewalk the kind of human beings who are in it, and what
they are doing with their time and energies and opportunities and
knowledge and preparedness and--oh, with all the things that make
their position in life a more responsible one than--than the people's
down here."

"Was it necessary to come to Scarborough Square to watch--your
parade?  One can stand off anywhere."

"But I don't want just to stand off.  I want to see with the eyes of
the people who look at us, the people who don't approve of us, though
they envy us.  We're so certain they're a hard lot to deal with, to
do for, to make anything of--these people we don't know save from
charity contact, perhaps,--that I've sometimes wondered if they ever
despair of us, think we, too, are pretty hopeless and hard to--to
wake up."

"And you imagine the opinions and conclusions of uneducated,
untrained, unthinking people will give you light concerning the
valuation of your class?  It matters little what they think.  They
don't think!"

"Do you know many of these people of whose mental machinery you are
so sure?"  I smiled in the eyes which would not smile into mine.
"Know them personally, I mean?"

"I do not."  Selwyn's tone was irritable.  "My business dealings with
them have not inspired desire for a closer acquaintance.  To get as
much money as possible from the men who employ them and give in
return as little work as they can, is the creed of most of them.  You
can do nothing with people like that.  I know them better than you
will ever know them."

"As a corporation attorney, yes.  As a division of the human race, as
working people, you know them.  As beings much more like yourself
than you imagine, you don't."

Selwyn again stopped.  "You'd hardly expect me to find them
congenial--the beings you refer to."

"I would not."  I laughed.  "They are generations removed from you in
education and culture, in many of the things essential to you, but
some of them see more clearly than you.  Both need to understand you
owe each other something.  And how are you going to find out what it
is, see from each other's point of view, unless you know each other
better?  Unless--"

"For the love of Heaven, get rid of such nonsense!  That particular
kind of sentiment has gone to seed.  Every sane man recognizes
certain obligations to his fellow-man, every normal one tries to pay
them, but all this rot about bringing better relations to pass
between masters and men through familiarity, through putting people
in places they are not fitted to fill, is idle dreaming based on
ignorance of human nature.  To give a man what he doesn't earn is to
do him an injury.  Most men win the rewards they are entitled to.
You're a visionist.  You always have been--"

"And am always going to be!  Life would hardly be endurable were it
not for dreaming, hoping, believing.  I could stand any loss better
than that of my faith in humankind."  I sat upright, my hands locked
in my lap.  "I'm not here to do things for the people you have so
little patience with.  I told you I wanted to see what sort of people
we are.  You're perfectly certain those who live in Scarborough
Squares don't make a success of life.  Do you think we do?"

Again Selwyn stopped, stared at me, but before he could answer a
queer, curdling, smothered sound reached us faintly from the street
below.  A cry low, yet clear and anguished, followed.  Then a fall
and hurrying footsteps, and then silence.  Selwyn sprang to the
window and opened it.

"My God!" he said.  His face was white.  "What was that?"



CHAPTER V

I was out of the door before Selwyn had left the window.  Quickly he
followed me, however, and on the front porch, where Mrs. Mundy was
already standing, we stood for a half-moment, looking up and down the
street.

The small arc of light made by the corner gaslamp lessened but little
the darkness of the seemingly deserted street, and for a while we
could distinguish nothing save the shadows cast by the gaunt trees of
the Square.  Then I saw Selwyn start.

"Go inside."  He was his steady self again.  "It is too cold out
here.  I think some one has been hurt.  Go in."

I ran in Mrs. Mundy's room and to her wardrobe.  Getting a coat and
an old cape, I threw the latter over my shoulders, and, coming back
to the porch, went down its steps and across the street to where Mrs.
Mundy and Selwyn were bending over a young woman who stirred as they
came up.

"Put this on."  I threw the coat to Mrs. Mundy.  "Who is it?"

"I don't know."  Mrs. Mundy knelt on the ground.  "Are you hurt?" she
asked.  "There--that's better."  With skilful movement she helped the
girl, who seemed dazed, to steady herself.  As the latter sat up she
put her hand to her face and brushed back her hair.

"Where am I?  Has he gone?"  Her face was dropped in her hands.  "If
he just would kill me and end it--end it!"

"Who hurt you?"  Selwyn's voice was the quiet one that was ever his
when something was to be done, and, leaning over her, he took the
girl by the arm and lifted her to her feet.  "Can you tell what has
happened?"  He looked at Mrs. Mundy.  "It's too cold out here for her
to stand--she's pretty faint still."

"Bring her over to me."  Mrs. Mundy put her coat around the shivering
girl, and, slipping her hand through one arm, motioned Selwyn to take
hold of the other.  "Run ahead," she nodded to me, "and fix up a dose
of that aromatic spirits of ammonia what's on the second shelf of the
closet in my bedroom.  And pull the couch up to the fire."

Dazedly, and dragging her feet as if they were powerless to move, the
girl entered the warm and cheerful room, but at her entrance
understanding seemed to give her strength.  With a shuddering,
shivering, indrawing breath she drew back and leaned against the
door-frame.

"I must go.  I--I can't come in there.  I'm better now.  I must go."

"You can't go." Selwyn's voice was decisive.  "You'll be all right
presently, but you'll have to--to rest, first."  Firmly she was led
to the couch and pushed upon it.  Taking the medicine from my hands,
he held it to her lips.  "Take this."

Hesitating, partly defiant, partly afraid, the girl raised her eyes
to his.  Then, with hand that shook badly, she took the glass and
drank part of its contents, the rest was spilled in her lap.

"If it were prussic acid I'd be glad to drink it."  The voice was
bitter, and again the eyes, pale yet burning, were raised to his, and
in them was what seemed frightened but guarded recognition.  Quickly
she dropped them and glanced around the room, as though looking for
escape, and again her hands made convulsive pressure, again she
started to get up.

"I must go.  I tell you, I must.  I--I can't stay here."

"Very well."  Mrs. Mundy looked toward Selwyn and away from me.
"When you're steady you can go.  Mr. Thorne will telephone for a cab
and I will take you--home."

"Oh no!"  The girl's face became the pallor that frightens, and on
either side of her a hand was dug in the couch on which she was
sitting.  "I'm all right now.  I don't want a cab.  I just want to
go, and by myself.  Please let me go!"

The last words were lost in a sob, and coming close to her I sat
beside her, and, putting my hand on her face, turned it slightly that
I might better see the big, black bruise on her forehead, partly
hidden by the loose, dark curls which fell across it.  Her hair was
short and thick and parted on the side, giving her a youthful, boyish
look that was in odd contrast to the sudden terror in her eyes, and
for the first time I saw how slight and frail she was, saw that about
her which baffled and puzzled me, and which I could not analyze.  She
wore no hat, and the red scarf around her neck was the only touch of
color in her otherwise dark dress.  The lips of her large, sweet,
sensuous mouth were as colorless as her face.

"You have been hurt."  I put my hand on her trembling ones.  "Did
some one strike you or did you fall?"

She shook her head and drew her hands away.  "I wasn't hurt.  I--I
slipped and fell and struck my head on the pavement.  Don't let
anybody telephone.  I can go alone.  Please--please let me go!  I
must go!  I can't stay here."

"But you mustn't go alone."  I turned to Selwyn.  "Mr. Thorne will go
with you.  Do you live far from here?"

"Not very.  It's close enough for me to go by myself.  He mustn't go
with me."  The words came stumblingly, and again I saw the quick,
frightened look she gave Selwyn, a look in which was indecision and
appeal, as well as fear, and I saw, too, that his face flushed as he
turned away.

With quick movement the girl got up.  From her throat came a sound
hysterical and choking, and, putting her hand to it, she looked first
at me and then at Mrs. Mundy, but at Selwyn she did not look again.
"I'm going.  Thank you for letting me come in."  Blindly she
staggered to the door, her hands outstretched as if to feel what she
could not see.  At it she turned and in her face was that which keeps
me awake at night, which haunts and hurts and seems to be crying to
me to do something which I know not how to do.

"You poor child!"  I started toward her.  "You must not go alone."
But before I could reach her she fell in a heap at the door, and as
one dead she lay limp and white and piteously pretty on the floor.



CHAPTER VI

I don't understand Mrs. Mundy.  She acts so queerly about the girl we
found on the street last night.  She put her to bed, after she had
recovered from her fainting spell, on a cot in the room next to her
own, but this morning she told me the girl had gone, and would tell
me nothing else.

When Selwyn, who had picked her up and laid her on the couch, asked
if he should not get a doctor, Mrs. Mundy had said no, and said it so
positively that he offered to do nothing else.  And then she thanked
him and told him good night in such a way he understood it was best
he Should go.

At the front door he called me.  With his back to it he held out his
hands, took mine in his, crushed them in clasp so close they hurt.

"Danny," he said, "why do you torment me so?  You don't know what
you're doing, living where such things are possible as have taken
place tonight; where any time you may be--"

His voice broke, and in amazement I looked at him.  Horror and fear
were in his face.

"Do you think it is so awful a thing to see a poor little creature
who has been hurt and needs help?"  I drew my hands away.  "You talk
as if I were a child, Selwyn."

"You are a child in your knowledge of--of certain phases of life.  If
I could only marry you tomorrow and take you away from here you
should never know them!"

"Well, you can't marry me to-morrow!"  I made effort to laugh, but
Selwyn's face, his manner, frightened me.  "I want to stay down here
and--and stop being as ignorant as a child of things women should
know.  Behind the shelter of ignorance most women have already
shirked too long."  I held out my hand, "If you stay a bit longer,
Selwyn, I'll say things I shouldn't.  Goodnight."

With a shrug of his shoulders he went down the steps, and as I
watched him, for a moment I felt tempted to call him back.  It was
not unusual for us to part indignant with each other.  We invariably
clashed, disagreed, and argued hotly if we got on certain subjects,
but to-night I did not want him to leave angrily.  Something had made
me afraid and uncertain and uneasy.  I could not define, could only
feel it, and if Selwyn should fail me--  Shivering, I stood in the
doorway, and as I started to go in I noticed a young fellow across
the street under a tree, who seemed to be watching the house.  He was
evidently nervous and moved restlessly in the small circle of the
shadow cast by the bare branches.  Selwyn apparently did not see him,
and, crossing the street, was close upon him before he knew he was
there.  To my astonishment I saw him start and stop, saw him take the
man by the arm.

"What in the name of Heaven--"  In the still, cold air I could hear
distinctly.  "Why are you down here this time of night?  Where are
you going?"

If there was answer I could not hear it, but I could see the movement
of the young man's shoulders, could see him draw away and turn his
back to Selwyn.  Putting his hands in his pockets, he started toward
the corner lighted by the flickering gas-jet, then turned and walked
to the one on which there was no light.  Had I known him, I could not
have recognized him in the darkness, but he was evidently well known
to Selwyn, for together they went down the street and out of sight.
I wonder who he was.

For the first time since I came to Scarborough Square, Mrs. Mundy has
not been to-day her chatty self.  She does not seem to want to
talk--that is of the girl I want to talk about.  When, in my
sitting-room this morning, I asked her the girl's name she said she
did not know it, did not know where she lived, or what had happened
to her, and at my look of incomprehension at her seeming disregard,
she had turned away and busied herself in dusting the books on the
well-filled table.

"She was pretty nervous."  Mrs. Mundy's usually cheerful voice was
troubled.  "To talk to her, ask her questions, would just have made
her more so.  They won't tell you anything if they can help it--girls
like that--and I didn't try to make her tell.  I gave her something
to quiet her and stayed with her until she was asleep, but when I
went in the room this morning she was gone.  Bettina said she heard
some one unbolt the door very softly, but she thought 'twas me."

"Do you suppose she lives in this neighborhood?  Her people must have
been very anxious."

Mrs. Mundy turned and looked at me queerly.  She has tremendous
admiration for what she calls my book-learning, and sees no
incongruity in my ignorance of many things with which she is
familiar.  My ignorance, indeed, she thinks it her duty to conserve,
and already we have had some differences of opinion as to what I
should know and not know of the life about us.  There are a good many
things I have got to make Mrs. Mundy take in more definitely.  She
thinks of me still as a girl.  I am not.  I am a woman twenty-six
years old.

"Half the girls you've seen coming home from work, half who live
around the Square, haven't any people here.  What they have is a room
in somebody's house.  Many are from the country or from small towns.
Over sixteen thousand work in the factories alone.  You don't suppose
they all have homes, do you?--have some one who waits up for them at
night, some one who cares when they come in?"

Before I could answer she stopped her dusting and, head on the side
and hands on her hips, listened.  "There's the iceman at the kitchen
door," she said, relievedly.  "I'll have to go and let him in."

It is this I cannot understand, this unusual evasiveness on Mrs.
Mundy's part.  She is the least mysterious of persons, is, indeed, as
open as the day, and it is unlike her to act as she has done.  From
childhood I have known her.  Up to the time of Aunt Matilda's
marriage to Mr. Chesmond she made my clothes, and for years, in all
times of domestic complications has been our dependence.  When I
decided to live for a while in the house once owned by my
grandfather, I turned to her in confidence that she would care not
only for my material needs, but that from her I could get what no one
else could give me--an insight into scenes and situations commonly
concealed from surface sight.

Her knowledge of life is wide and varied.  With unfailing faith and
cheerful courage and a habit of seeing the humorous side of tragic
catastrophes, she has done her work among the sick and forsaken, with
no appeal to others save a certain few; and only those who have been
steadied by her strong hands, and heartened by her buoyant spirit,
and fed from her scant store, have knowledge or understanding of what
she means to the section of the city where the poor and lowly live.
Bit by bit I am learning, but even yet it is difficult to make her
tell me all she does, or how and when she does it.

It was partly because of certain talks with her that I decided to
come to Scarborough Square.  If I could make but a few understand
what she understands--so understand that the sending of a check would
not sufficiently relieve them from obligation, from responsibility.
But how can I make clear to others what is not clear to me?

It will not be Bettina's fault if I do not become acquainted with my
new neighbors in Scarborough Square.  By the calendar's accounting
Bettina's years are only thirteen, but in shrewdness of penetration,
in swiftness of conclusion, and in acceptance of the fact that most
people are queer she is amazingly mature.  Her readiness to go with
me anywhere I wish to go is unfailing, but save on Saturdays and
Sundays we can only pay our visits in the afternoon.  It is late when
she gets from school, and dark soon after we start, but with Bettina
I am safe.

Outside and inside of the house our roles are reversed.  Concerning
my books and my pictures, concerning the people who ride in their own
automobiles, who go to the theatre whenever they wish, to the fine
churches with beautiful music and paid pews; the people who give
parties and wear gorgeous clothes and eat mushrooms and
terrapin--which she considered inexplicable taste--she will ask me
countless questions; but outside of the house she becomes the teacher
and I the taught.  Just what I am learning she hardly understands.
Much that is new to me is commonplace to her; and she does not dream
that I often cannot sleep at night for remembering what the day has
shown me.  To-morrow we are going to see a Mrs. Gibbons, whose little
boy, eleven years of age, is the head of his mother's house--the
support of her family.



CHAPTER VII

Hands in her pockets, Bettina looked at me disappointedly.  "It's
very cold," she said.  "Why don't you wear your fur coat?"

"I like this one better.  It's warm and not so heavy."

"Your fur coat is the only one in Scarborough Square.  A sure-enough
fur one, I mean.  There're plenty of imitations.  Mrs. Crimm's got an
imitation.  You look awful grand in that fur coat--look like a
princess person.  Grannie says you don't want to seem different from
the people down here.  How are you going to help it?"

"I don't know.  I mean--"  It was silly that my face should flush
before Bettina's unblinking scrutiny, but flush it did.  "I don't
want to seem different.  People are much more alike than they
imagine.  If we didn't think so much of our differences--"

"Bound to think of them when they're right in your face.  You don't
suppose you're anything like Evie May Poore, do you? or Roberta
Wicks, or Mrs. Clay Burt?  Every time I see Evie May Poore I wish I
was an Indian so I could tomahawk her hair.  Most of her money goes
in hair and chewing-gum.  Mr. Crimm says he thinks girls who dress
like Roberta Wicks ought to be run in, but there ain't any law which
lets him do it.  Mr. Crimm's going to a big wedding to-night.  Did
you know it?"

I shook my head.  In my mouth were the pins with which my veil was to
be fastened.  Hands on my hat, I straightened the latter before
putting on the veil.

"Well, he is.  Funny, ain't it, that all these swells have to have a
plain-clothes man at weddings so the people what come to 'em won't
take any of the presents?  That's Mr. Crimm's chief business
nowadays, looking out for high-class crooks.  He says you ain't as
strong-colored as some the ladies he sees up-town, but he never did
see a face with more sense and soul in it than what yours has got.
At the last wedding he went to he told grannie some the ladies didn't
have on clothes enough to wad a gun.  Are you ready?  It gets dark by
five o'clock."

"I'm ready."  Taking up my muff, I followed Bettina down the steps
and into the street to the corner, on which was the little shop
wherein were sold goldfish and canary-birds, and fox-terriers and
white rabbits; and from there we turned in the direction which led to
Mrs. Gibbons's.  The day was cold and clear, but the ground was
slippery with sleet, and, holding on to my arm, Bettina made valiant
effort to pilot me aright.

As we walked she talked, and the names of the occupants of various
houses passed were told to me, together with the particular kind of
work in which they were engaged, and the amount of wages which were
earned by different members of the household.  The information given
me had been gained from her schoolmates, and what at first had seemed
appalling frankness and freedom, I soon learned was a community
custom, and a comparison of earnings a favorite subject of discussion
among children of all ages.  Recess, it appears, is the usual time
for an exchange of facts concerning family affairs.

"Myra Blunt, who sits in front of me, says she's going in the
pickle-factory as soon as she's fourteen."  Bettina slipped, but
caught herself, and held my arm more firmly.

"She's our ashman's daughter, and she's got a mole right on the end
of her nose.  It's a little on one side, but it looks awful funny,
and Jimmie Rice says she'll stay in that pickle-factory all her life
if she don't have that mole taken off.  A boy won't have a girl for a
sweetheart if her nose has got a mole on it, will he?  Myra is afraid
it will hurt to have it come off.  She's an awful coward.  This is
the place.  This is Ninety-two."

Mrs. Gibbons's residence was one of several small and shabby houses
which huddled together as if for protection, and as we went up the
steps of the shaky porch a head from the second-story window was
thrust out--a head wrapped in a red crocheted shawl.

"You-all want to see Mrs. Gibbons?  Well, she ain't to home.  That
is, I don't think she is.  She told me this morning she was going
down to the 'firmary to get some medicine for that misery in her back
what struck her yesterday.  If she ain't to home, you-all kin come up
here and rest yourself if you want to.  It's awful cold, ain't it?"

Before we could express our appreciation of the hospitality offered,
the door at which we had knocked was opened cautiously, and at its
aperture a head was seen.  There was a moment's hesitancy and then
the door opened more widely.

"Is this Mrs. Gibbons?"

Bettina asked the question, and at its answer called to the woman
still leaning out of the upstairs window, "She's home."  Then she
introduced me.

"This is Miss Heath.  Miss Dandridge Heath, Mrs. Gibbons; and I'm
Bettina Woll.  We've come to see you.  Can we come in?"

Mrs. Gibbons, who had nodded imperceptibly in my direction as Bettina
called my name, motioned limply toward a room on my right, and as I
entered it I looked at her and saw at once that she, too, belonged to
the unqualified and unfit.  She must once have been a pretty woman,
but her hair and eyes were now a dusty black, her skin the color of
putty, and her mouth a drooping curve that gave to her face the
expression of one who was about to cry.  Life had apparently for some
time been more than she was equal to, and, incapable of battling
further with it, she radiated a helplessness that was pitiable and
yet irritating.  Thin and flat-chested, her uncorseted figure in its
rusty black dress straightened for half a minute, then again it
relaxed.

"Take a seat, won't you?"  Her voice was as listless as her eyes.
"It's warmer in the kitchen.  Maybe you'd better come back there.  My
little girl's in there.  She's sick."

As we turned to leave the room I glanced around it.  The windows were
down, the shutters closed, but by the light which came through the
broken slats and cheap lace curtains, whose ends were spread
expansively on the bare floor, I saw its furnishings.  A bed, covered
with a white spread and with pillow-shams embroidered in red cotton,
was against the side of the wall facing the windows, and close to it
was a table on which lay a switch of coarse black hair.  A
crepe-paper lambrequin decorated the mantel-shelf, whose ornaments
were a cup and saucer, a shaving-set, and a pair of conch-shells;
while between the windows was a wash-stand obviously kept for
ornamental purposes, as there was no water in the pitcher and the
basin was cracked.  Pinned on the soft plastering of the walls were
florid advertisements of various necessities and luxuries of life,
together with highly colored Scripture texts, and over the mantel
hung a crayon of the once head of the house.  The room was cold and
damp.  The air in it had not been changed for some time, and as Mrs.
Gibbons stopped and picked up the baby, who at the sound of voices
had crawled into the room, I did not wonder at its croupy cough.

Down the dark and narrow passageway Bettina and I followed our
hostess, and at its end I would have stumbled over a step had I not
been warned in time.  The noise made by a box overturned by Bettina
gave the latter opportunity to give me one more injunction.

"Don't promise to do too much right off."  The whisper was
uncomfortably clear.  "She's the kind who's like a sifter.  You have
to be right hard with people like that--  Take care!  There's another
step!"



CHAPTER VIII

As we entered the kitchen, a tiny room with one window in it, I
glanced around it as I had done at the front room, the two seeming to
complete the suite occupied by Mrs. Gibbons.  My survey was quick and
cautious, but not too much so for mental noting of the conservation
of time and space and labor represented by an arrangement of
household effects I had never seen before.  Health and comfort were
the principal omissions.

In one corner of the room was a bed covered with a calico quilt of
many colors, and under it a pallet, tucked away for convenience in
the daytime, but obviously out at night.  Close to the bed was a
large stove in which a good fire was burning, and from the
blue-and-white saucepan on the top came forth odor of a soup with
which I was not familiar.  The door of the oven was partly open, and
in the latter could be seen a pan of heavy-looking biscuits which
apparently awaited their devouring at any time that suited the desire
of the devourer.  Bettina looked at them and then at me, but she said
nothing--that is, nothing out loud.

"Set down."  Mrs. Gibbons, the baby still in her arms, made effort to
dust one of the two chairs in the room with the gingham apron she was
wearing, and, after failing, motioned me to take it.  The other one
she pushed toward Bettina with her foot.  On the bed was a little
girl of six or seven, and as we took our seats a boy, who barely
looked ten, came from behind a couple of wash-tubs in an opposite
corner of the room and wiped his hands on a towel hanging from a hook
in the wall.  To ask something concerning this boy was the purpose of
our visit.

"Speak to the lady, Jimmy.  Anybody would think you didn't have no
manners!  No, you can't have your supper yet."

Mrs. Gibbons waved her hand weakly at her son, who, smiling at us,
had gone to a corner cupboard with perforated tins of diamond pattern
in its doors, and taken therefrom a soup-plate and cup and saucer.
Paying no attention to his mother's reference to a delayed meal, he
ladled out of the big saucepan, with a cracked cup, a plate of the
steaming soup, and carried it carefully to an oilcloth-covered table,
on which was a lamp and glass pitcher, some unwashed dishes left from
the last meal, a broken doll, and a child's shoe.  Putting down the
plate of soup, he came back to the stove and poured out a cup of
feeble-looking coffee.

"Goin' to be extras out to-night and I mightn't get back till after
ten."  Again his gay little smile lighted his thin face.  "Ifen I
don't eat now I mightn't eat at all.  Have one?"

He poked a plate of the health-destroying biscuits at Bettina with a
merry little movement, and bravely she took one, bravely made effort
to eat it.  "What's your name?" I heard him ask her, and then I
turned to Mrs. Gibbons.

"It is about your little boy I've come to see you."  I moved my chair
as far as possible from the red-hot stove and opened my coat.  "He is
too young to be at work.  He isn't twelve, is he?"

The indignation I had felt on hearing of Jimmy's bondage to a bench
from seven in the morning to six in the evening, with an interval of
an hour for lunch, was unaccountably disappearing.  With helplessness
and incapacity I was not ordinarily patient, and Mrs. Gibbons was an
excellent example of both.  Still--"He isn't twelve yet, is he?" I
repeated.

Mrs. Gibbons pushed the little girl, who was trying to get out of the
bed, back in it, and shifted the whimpering baby from one arm to the
other.  For a moment she hesitated, looked at me uncertainly.

"No 'm, he ain't but eleven, but I had to tell the mayor that signed
the papers permitting of him to work, that he was twelve.  The law
don't let children work lessen they're twelve, and only then if their
mother is a widow and 'ain't got nothing and nobody to do for her.  I
don't like to tell a story if I can help it, and them what don't know
nothing 'bout how things is can't understand, and say we oughtn't to
do it.  They'd do it, too, ifen they had to.  After his father died I
had to take Jimmy out of school and put him to work.  There wasn't
nothing else to do."

"Has his father been dead long?"  I moved still further from the
stove.  My question was unthinking.  He couldn't have been dead long.

"In days and months it 'ain't been so long, but it's been awful long
to me.  'Taint been more'n a year since they brought him home to me
dead, and I been plum' no 'count ever since.  This baby," she put the
child in her arms on her lap and shook her knees in mechanical effort
to still its cries, "this baby was born while its father was being
buried, and when I took in my man was gone and wouldn't never come
home no more, never give me his wages on Saturday nights, and
wouldn't be here to do nothing for me and the children, seems like
something inside me just give out.  I reckon you 'ain't never had
nothing to happen to you like that, have you?"

"No, I've never had anything like that to happen to me."  The last
remnant of indignation was vanishing.  That is, against the helpless,
incapable, worn-out woman who was Jimmy's mother.  Against something
else, something I could not place or define or call by name, it was
rising stormily.  "I know you need Jimmy's help," I said, after a
moment, "but he is too young to work, too small."

"Came near not getting a job 'count of not being no bigger."

His mouth filled with half a biscuit, the boy nodded at me gleefully,
then putting down his spoon, he dusted his hands and wiped them on
the side of his trousers.  "The first place mother and me went to,
they wouldn't take me 'cause the table where I'd had to work struck
me right here." His hands swiped his throat just under his chin.
"But the next place was all right.  They had a boys' table and the
bench was made high on purpose."

"What is it you do?" I asked, and again my voice sounded strange.
"Is it a box-factory you're in?"

"Soap and pills."  Head thrown back, Jimmy drained the last drop of
coffee from his cup, then scraped the latter with a tin spoon for its
last bit of sugar.  "We are pasters, our gang is.  We paste the paper
on the boxes.  There's a boy sits next to me what's the fastest
paster in town, but I'm going to beat him some day.  I can paste
almost as fast as he can now."

"He could beat him now if he didn't play so much."  In his mother's
voice was neither scolding nor complaint.  "Jimmy always would play
some from the time he was born.  His boss says he's the best worker
he's got 'cepting the boy who sits next to him, and if he'd just stay
still all day--"

"Oh, can he play?"  I made no apology for the interruption.  The
child was undersized and illy-nourished, and to let him work ten
hours a day seemed a crime for which I, and all others who cared for
children, were somehow responsible.  But if he had a chance to play--

"When old Miss High-Spy goes out the room we play."  Jimmy gave his
trousers a jerk and made effort to force connection between a button
and a buttonhole belonging respectively to his upper and his lower
garments.  "She's a regular old tale-teller, but soon as she's out
the room we get down from our bench and rush around and tag each
other.  Our benches 'ain't got no backs to 'em, and if we didn't get
off sometimes we couldn't sit up all day.  The other fellows, the big
ones, don't tell on us.  They make us put the windows down from the
top when she's out."

"Do you mean you don't have any air in the room?"  My voice was
unbelieving, and at something in my face Jimmy laughed.

"Not when we're working.  The wind might blow the little pieces of
paper off the table and we'd lose time getting 'em, she says.  Some
the boys get so sick from the heat and the glue smell they heave up
their breakfast and can't eat nothing all day.  I 'ain't fainted but
twice since I been there, but Alex Hobbs keels over once a week,
anyhow.  Used to frighten me at first when I saw him getting green-y,
but I don't mind it now."

With a quick turn of his head Jimmy looked at a small clock on the
shelf above the wash-tubs, and got up with even quicker movement.  "I
forgot about the wood, and the papers will be ready 'fore I can get
there if I don't hurry.  Good-by to you all," and, slamming the door
behind him, he ran down the kitchen steps into the yard, where in a
moment we heard him whistling as he chopped the wood that must be
brought up for the morning.

It was not often Mrs. Gibbons had a listener who had never before
heard of her hardships, and after explaining to me why Jimmy was at
home at that time of the day, his presence being due not to trifling
on his part, but to the half-time the factory was running, she gave
herself up to the luxury of telling me in detail of her many
misfortunes and of her inability to get through the winter unless
additional help were given her.

"Can't you work?" I asked.  "If the children are put in a day nursery
they would be well looked after, and you would probably be more
comfortable in a good factory than here."

"A good factory!"  The inflection in her voice was one of listless
tolerance for my ignorance.  "I don't reckon you ever worked in one.
There ain't none of 'em good.  Some's better than others, but when
you get up at five o'clock on winter mornings and make the fire and
melt the water, if it's frozen, to wash your face with, and--"

"Does it freeze in here?"  Bettina, who had by effort restrained
herself from taking part in the conversation, leaned forward and dug
her hands deep in her lap.  "Does it really freeze in this hot room?"

"It ain't hot in here at night.  Last winter it froze 'most every
night for a month.  Mis' Cotter was boarding with me last winter, her
and her little girl both.  She's the lady what rents the room between
the kitchen and the front room from me.  She sews on carpets and the
place she works at is right far from here.  She warn't well last
winter--some kind of misery is always on her--and she asked me to
board her so she wouldn't have to do no cooking before she goes away
in the morning and when she comes back at night."

"With a swift movement of her hand Mrs. Gibbons caught the little
girl, who, behind her back, was making ready to slip off the bed and
on the floor, but as she swung her again in place she kept up her
talking, and by neither rise nor fall was the monotone of her voice
broken.

"I had to get up at five so as to have breakfast in time, for I can't
get the room warm and the things cooked in less'n an hour, and she
has to leave here a little after six so as to take her little girl to
the nursery before she goes to her place, and they ain't noways close
together.  The stars are shining when she goes out and they're
shining when she comes in; that is, if the weather's good.  She's
been so wore out lately she's been taking her meals again with me,
but I don't see much of her.  She goes to bed the minute she's
through supper."

Bettina twisted in her chair.  "Do you eat and sleep in here, too?"
she asked.  Her eyes were on Mrs. Gibbons.  Carefully she kept them
from mine.  "Do you always eat in here?"

"We eat in here all the time and sleep in here in winter, because
there ain't but one fire.  That goes out early, which is why the
water freezes.  Jimmy has to bring it up from the yard in buckets,
and as the nurse-lady who comes down here says we must have fresh air
in the room, being 'tis all four of us sleep in it, I keep the window
open at night.  I don't take no stock in all this fresh-air talk.
'Taint only the water what gets froze--"

"Why don't you cover a bucketful of it with one of those tubs?"
Again Bettina's forefinger pointed.  "That would keep the wind off
and the water wouldn't freeze if it was covered up."

"I never thought of that.  Get back, Rosie!" Mrs. Gibbons made effort
to catch her little daughter, but this time the child wriggled down
from the foot of the bed and came toward me, hands behind her back,
and stared up into my face.

"Whatcha name?"

I told her and asked hers, and without further preliminaries she came
close to me and hunched her shoulders to be taken in my lap.

"We've got to go--we're bound to go, Miss Dandridge!"  With a leap
Bettina was out of her chair, and, catching the little girl by the
hand, she drew her from me and dangled in front of her a
once-silvered mesh-bag, took from it a penny, and gave it to her;
then she turned to Mrs. Gibbons.

"We're awful glad we've seen you."  Bettina nodded gravely to the
woman on the bed.  "And of course we won't tell anybody about Jimmy
not being twelve yet; but Miss Heath wants him to go back to school,
and she's coming to see you soon about it.  We've got to go now."

In a manner I could not understand, Bettina, who had gotten up and
was now standing behind Mrs. Gibbons, beckoned to me mysteriously,
and, fearing the latter might become aware of her violent movements,
I, too, got up and shook hands with my hostess.

"I will see you in a few days," I said.  "There's no chance for Jimmy
if he doesn't have some education.  He ought to go back to school."

"Yes 'm, I know he ought, but he can't go." Jimmy's mother shook
hands, limply.  "The pickle-factory where I used to work is turning
off hands every week, and I can't get nothing to do there.  I don't
know how to do nothing but pickles.  Sometimes I gets a little sewing
at home, but I ain't a sewer.  The Charities sends me a basket of
keep-life-in-you groceries every now and then, and the city gives me
some coal and wood when there's enough to go round more than once,
but I need Jimmy's money for the rent."

"If the rent were paid would you let him go back to school?"

"Yes 'm."  The dull voice quickened not at all.  "I'd be glad to let
him go.  I don't want him to work, but them that don't know how it is
can't understand.  You-all must come again.  Good-by.  Come back
here, Rosie.  You'll catch your death out there.  Good-by."

In the open air, which felt good after the steaming heat of the
bedroom-kitchen, Bettina and I walked for a few moments in silence,
and then, slipping her arm in mine, she looked up at me with wise
little eyes.

"Please excuse me for telling you, Miss Dandridge, but you're new yet
in the places you've been going to since you came to Scarborough
Square, and you'll have to be careful about taking the children on
your lap and in your arms, if they're babies.  You love children, and
you just naturally hold out your hands to them, but if you don't know
them very well, you'd better not.  All of them ain't healthy, and
hardly any--"

Bettina stopped and, standing still, looked straight ahead of her at
a man and a young woman crossing the street some little distance from
us.  Then she looked up at me.  The man was Selwyn.  The girl with
him was the odd and elfish little creature who had been hurt in
Scarborough Square and whom he had helped bring in to Mrs. Mundy.



CHAPTER IX

Bettina, who had opened the door for Selwyn on his last visit, and
who had informed me the next day that she had "shivered with
trembles" because of his great difference to the men in Scarborough
Square, for the second time looked up at me.

"What is he doing down here?"  Her finger pointed in the direction of
the man and woman just ahead of us.  "What's he talking to that girl
for?"

I did not answer her at once.  Amazement and unbelief were making my
heart hot, and a flood of color burned my face.  Of all men on earth,
Selwyn was the last to find in this part of the town at this time of
the evening, and as he bent his head to speak to the girl I noticed
he was talking earnestly and using his hands in expressive gestures
as he talked.  Starting forward, I took a few steps and then stopped,
sharply.

"I don't know what he is doing down here.  Certainly he is at liberty
to come here just as we come."

Bettina's eyes strained in the darkness.  "I can't see her face.  If
we cross over we can catch up with them by the time they reach the
corner where we could see her in the light."  The grip of my hand on
her arm made her stop.  "I mean--"

"You don't know what you mean."

It was silly, childish, unreasonable, that I should speak sharply to
Bettina, and equally unreasonable that fear and horror and sickening
suspicion should possess me, but possessed I was by sensations
hitherto unexperienced, and for a moment the gaslight from the lamp
on the opposite street corner wavered and circled in a confusing,
bewildering way.  Sudden revelations, sudden realizations, were
unsteadying me.  Was Selwyn really some one I did not know?  Was his
life less single than I believed it?  Hateful, ugly, disloyal
questions surged tumultuously for a half-minute; then reason
returned, and shame that I should insult him with doubt, cooled the
flame in my face.

"It's too late to go to the Binkers.  We'd better go home.  We'll go
there some other afternoon."

I turned from Bettina's amazed eyes.  My tone of voice a moment
before was still perplexing her, and unblinkingly she was searching
my face.  Hitherto her directness, her frankness of speech and use of
words, had amused me, and I had permitted, perhaps, too great an
exercise of her gift of comment; but applied personally it was a
different matter.

"We'll go to the corner and turn there," I said.  "That will be the
nearest way home."

"But don't you want to see who she is?"  Scarborough Square customs
were those most familiar to Bettina, and they exacted understanding
of doubtful situations.  "Don't you want to see what--what she looks
like?"

"Why should I?  Mr. Thorne knows many people I do not know."  I moved
toward the corner.  "Come on.  It's getting late."

"Gentlemen like him don't know girls like her.  She lives down here
somewhere, and he lives where you used to live.  He couldn't be sweet
on her, because--because he couldn't."  She caught up with me.  "He's
yours, ain't he, Miss Danny?  You'd better tell him--"

I hated myself for looking across the street, but as I hurried on my
eyes were following Selwyn and the girl, and when I saw the latter
stop and bury her face in her hands, saw Selwyn say something to her,
saw him turn in one direction and she in another, I, too, stopped;
for a moment was unable to move.

We had reached the corner as Selwyn left the opposite one and came
toward us.  Head down, as if deeply thinking, he did not look up
until close to us.  Under the gaslight I waited, not knowing why, and
Bettina being behind me, he thought I was alone when presently he saw
me.

"Dandridge!"  He stared as if stupefied with amazement.  Lifting his
hat mechanically, he came closer.  "What in the name of Heaven are
you doing here alone this time of night?  Are you losing your mind?"

His entire absence of embarrassment, his usual disapproval of my
behavior, his impatient anger, had an unlooked-for effect, and sudden
relief and hot joy so surged over me that I laughed, a queer,
nervous, choking little laugh.

"I am not alone.  It is not yet six, and I have been to see a boy who
is what you are not--the head of a house.  I mean a house with a
family in it.  Have you, too, been visiting?"

His face flushed, and frowningly he turned away.  "I had business
down here.  I had to come to it as it could not be brought to me.
Where are you going?"

"Home."

Bettina, who in some unaccountable way had managed to stay behind me,
came forward and bowed as if to an audience.  "I've been taking her
to where she goes, Mr. Thorne, and grannie knows all the places.
There ain't one that's got a disease in it, and Mr. Crimm would tell
us if it wasn't right to go to them.  She don't ever go anywhere by
herself.  She's too new yet."

Selwyn smiled grudgingly.  Bettina's fat and short little body made
effort to stretch to protective requirements, and her keen eyes
raised to his held them for a moment.  Then she turned to me.

"Maybe he'd like to go to some of the homes we go to and see--"

"No.  He doesn't want to see."  I caught her hand and slipped it
through my arm.  "It's much more comfortable not to see.  One can
sleep so much better.  Are you going our way?"  I turned to Selwyn.
"If you are, we'd better start."

For a full block we said nothing.  Selwyn, biting the ends of his
close-cut mustache, walked beside me, hands in his pockets and eyes
straight ahead, and not until Bettina had twice asked him if he knew
where Rowland Street was did he answer her.

"Rowland Street?"  He turned abruptly, as if brought back to
something far removed in thought.  "What on earth do you know of
Rowland Street?"

"Nothing--I never knew there was a street by that name until last
week when I heard a girl talking to grannie, who said she lived on
it.  She did her hands, when she talked, just like the girl with you
did."  Bettina twisted hers in imitative movements.  "She didn't keep
her hands still a minute."

"Few girls do when they talk.  They apparently prefer to use their
hands to their brains."  Selwyn's shoulders shrugged impatiently,
then his teeth came together on his lip.  Again he stared ahead and,
save for Bettina's chatter, we walked in silence to Scarborough
Square.

There had been few times in my life in which speech was impossible,
but during the quarter of an hour it took us to reach home words
would not come, and numbness possessed my body.  A world of
possibilities, a world I did not know, seemed suddenly revealing
itself, and at its dark depths and sinister shadows I was frightened,
and more than frightened.  Conflicting and confusing emotions, a
sense of outrage and revolt, were making me first hot and then cold,
and distrust and suspicion and baffling helplessness were enveloping
me beyond resistance.  The happy ignorance and unconcern and
indifference of my girlhood, my young womanhood, were vanishing
before cruel and compelling verities, and that which, because of its
ugliness, its offensiveness, its repulsiveness, I had wanted to know
nothing about, I knew I would now be forced to face.

It was true what Mrs. Mundy and Aunt Matilda and Selwyn and even
Kitty, four years younger than myself, had often told me, that in
knowledge of certain phases of life I was unwarrantably lacking.
Subjects that had seemingly interested other girls and other women
had never interested me, and I took no part in their discussion.  And
now the protection of the past that had prevented understanding of
sordid situations and polluting possibilities was being roughly torn
away, and I was seeing that which not only stung and shocked and
sickened, but I was seeing myself as one who after selfish sleep had
been rudely waked.

Head and heart hot, I pushed back upleaping questions, forced down
surging suspicion and tormenting fears, but all the while I was
conscious that in the friendship that was mine and Selwyn's, the
something that was more than friendship, a great gap had opened that
was separating us.  If he gave no explanation of his acquaintance
with the girl he had just left, it must be because he could not.  He
knew my hatred of mystery, my insistence upon frankness between
friends.  Would he come in and talk as freely as he had ever done of
whatever concerned him?  Would he tell me--

As I opened the door with my latch-key Bettina bounded inside, and
the light falling on Selwyn's face showed it white and worn.
Something was greatly troubling him.

"Good night."  He turned toward the steps without offering his hand.
"It is useless to ask you not to go in such neighborhoods as you were
in this evening, but if you knew what you were doing you would stay
away."

"I know very well what I am doing.  I am hardly so stubborn or wilful
as you think.  But if it is unwise for me to be in the neighborhood
referred to, is it any less wise--for you?"

"Me?"  The inflection in his voice was the eternal difference in a
man's and woman's privileges.  "It was not a question of wisdom--my
being where you saw me.  It was one of necessity.  Moreover, a man
can go where he pleases.  A woman can't.  No purity of purpose can
overcome the tyranny of convention."

"Convention!"  My hands made impatient gesture.  "It's the drag-net
of human effort, the shelter within which cowards run to cover.  In
its place it has purpose, but its place, for convenience sake, has
been immensely magnified.  And why is convention limited to women?"

It was childish--my outburst--and, ashamed of it, I started to go in,
then turned and again looked at Selwyn.  Into his face had come
something I could not understand, something that involved our future
friendship, and, frightened, I leaned against the iron railing of the
little porch and gripped it with hands behind my back.

"Selwyn!"  The words came unsteadily.  "Have you nothing to say to
me, Selwyn?  Don't you know that I know the girl with you to-night
was the girl who--who we brought in here last night?  If you knew
her, why--"

Staring at me as if not understanding, Selwyn came closer.  In his
eyes was puzzled questioning, but as they held mine they filled with
something of horror, and over his face, which had been white and
worn, spread deep and crimson flush.  "You don't mean--  God in
heaven!  Do you think the girl is anything to me?"

I did not answer, and, turning, he went down the steps and I into the
house.



CHAPTER X

For the past ten days I have been a very restless person.  Mrs. Mundy
looks at me out of the corners of her kind and keen and cheery little
eyes when she does not think I am noticing, but she asks me nothing.
Mrs. Mundy is the wisest woman I know.

If only I could sleep!  During the days I am busy, but I dread the
long nights when questions crowd that, fight as I may, I cannot keep
from asking.  Selwyn is my friend.  I never doubt a friend.  But why
does he not come to me?  Why does he not make clear that which he
must know is inexplicable to me?

I may never marry Selwyn, but certainly I shall marry no one else.
How could we hope for happiness when we feel so differently toward
much that is vital, when our attitude to life is as apart as the
poles?  When each thinks the other wrong in points of view and manner
of living?  Selwyn was born in a house with high walls around it.  He
likes its walls.  He does not care for many to come in, and cares
still less to go outside to others.  Few people interest him.  All
sorts interest me.  We are both selfish and stubborn, but both hate
that which is not clean and clear, and save from his own lips I would
not believe that in his life is aught of which he could not tell me.

I have never told him I loved him, never promised to marry him.  To
live in his high-walled house with its conventional customs, its
age-dimmed portraits, its stiff furnishings, and shut-out sunshine,
would stifle every cell in brain and lungs, and to marry him would be
to marry his house.  I hate his house, hate the aloofness, the lack
of sympathy it represents.  Its proud past I can appreciate, but not
its useless present.  Save his brother Harrie, it is the one thing of
his old life left Selwyn.  At the death of his father he bought
Harrie's interest and it is all his now.  I would not ask him to live
elsewhere, but I would choke and smother did I live in his house.
And yet--

Ten days have passed and I have neither seen nor heard from Selwyn.


I have often wondered, on waking winter mornings in my very warm bed,
how it would feel to go out in the gray dawn of a new day and hurry
off to work.  Now I know.

For more than a week I have been up at five forty-five, and at
six-thirty have been hurrying with Lucy Hobbs, who lives around the
corner, to the overalls-factory, where she is a forewoman.  It is
dark and cold and raw at half-past six on a winter morning, and the
sunrise is very different from what it is in summer.

Each morning as I started out with Lucy, and hurried down street
after street, I watched the opening doors of the shabby, dull-looking
houses we passed with keen interest.  Ash-cans and garbage-pails were
in front of many of them, and through unshuttered windows a child
could occasionally be seen with its face pressed against the pane,
waiting to wave good-by to some one who was leaving.  Out of the
doors of these houses came men and women and boys and girls, who
hurried as we hurried, and with a word to some, a wave of her
uplifted hand to others, a blank stare at others again, Lucy seemed
leading a long procession.  Around each corner and from every car
that passed came more "Hands," and each morning when the factory was
reached a crowd that jammed its entrance and extended half a block up
and down the street was waiting for the opening of the door, out of
which it would not come until darkness fell again.

For the first day or two I was noticed with indifference on the part
of some, resentment on the part of others, but on the third day, as I
took my place in the pushing, laughing, growling crowd that made its
way up several flights of stairs to the big room where shabby clothes
are changed for yet shabbier working ones, my good-mornings were
greeted with less grudging acknowledgments, and now we are quite
friendly, these "Hands" and I, and through their eyes I am seeing
myself and others like me--seeing much and many things from an angle
never used before.

They nodded to me less hesitatingly as the days went by, and at the
noon hour, when I have my lunch with first one group and then
another, I find them, on the whole, frank and outspoken, find they
have as decided opinions concerning what they term people like
that--which term is usually accompanied by a gesture in the direction
where I once lived--as said people have concerning them, to whom, as
a rule, they also refer in much the same manner and with the same
words.  With each group on either side of its separating gulf the
conviction is firm that little is to be hoped for or expected from
the other, and common qualities are forgotten in the realization of
distinctive differences.

"What's the most you ever made a week?" The girl who asked the
question moved up for me to sit on the bench beside her, and,
unwrapping a newspaper parcel, took from it a large cucumber pickle,
a piece of cheese, a couple of biscuits, and half of a cocoanut pie,
and laid them on a table in front of her.  "Help yourself."  She
pushed the paper serving as tray and cloth toward me.  "I ain't had
much appetite lately.  Hello, Mamie!  Come over here and sit on our
bench.  What you got good for lunch?  My stomach's turned back on
pie.  I'd give ten cents for a cup of coffee."

"Everywhere else but this old hothouse sells it for two cents a cup
without, and three cents with." The girl called Mamie nodded to me
and took her seat on the bench.  "I don't like milk nohow, and I'd
give the money glad for something hot in the middle of the day.
Don't nothing do your insides as much good as something piping hot.
Say--I saw Barker last night."  Her voice lowered but little.  "He
and I are going to see 'Some Girl' at the Bijou next week.  It's all
make-up--his being sweet on Ceeley Bayne!  That knock-kneed,
slew-footed, pop-eyed Gracie Jones got that off.  I'm going to get
one them lace-and-chiffon waists at Plum's for $2.98 if don't nobody
get sick and need medicine between now and Wednesday.  Seems like
somebody's always sick at our house."

The question asked me had been forgotten, and, glad to escape the
acknowledgment that I had never earned a dollar in my life, I got up
on the plea that I must see a girl at the other end of the room, and
walked across it.  As I went I scanned each face I saw.  Consciously
or subconsciously I had been hoping for days that I would see a face
which ever haunts me, a face I wanted to forget and could not forget.
Everywhere I go, in factories or mills or shops or homes; in the
streets, and at my windows, I am always wondering if I shall see her.
She was very unhappy.  Who is she?  Why was Selwyn with her?  It is
my last thought at night, my first in the morning.

Yesterday I was at the box-factory where Jimmy Gibbons works.  It is
his last week there.  On the fifteenth he starts again to school.
Knowing the president of the company well, I asked that Jimmy should
be my guide through the various departments, and permission was
given.  I wish Jimmy were mine.

"Miss High-Spy 'ain't got any love for on-lookers, and we'd better
not stay in here long."  Jimmy's voice was cautious, but his eyes
merry, and, glancing in the direction of the sour and snappy person
watching each movement of each worker, I agreed with him that it was
not well to linger.  The room was big and bare, its benches filled
with white-faced workers, and the autocrat who presided over it
seemed unconscious of its stifling, steamy heat and sickening smells
of glue and paste.  Going out into the hall, Jimmy and I went to a
window, opened it, and gave our lungs a bath.

"What does she do it for?  Is she crazy?"

"Not asylum-crazy--mean-crazy."  Jimmy's head nodded first
negatively, then with affirmation.  "She's come up from the beginning
place, and used to be a fire-eater before she got to be boss of our
bunch, and the men say people like that, people who ain't used to
driving, drive harder than any other kind when they get the chance.
She's a bully to the under ones, but the uppers--" Jimmy's eyes were
lifted to mine and his lips made a whistling sound.  "If Mr.
Pritchard kicked her in the face, she'd lick the soles of his shoes
when he was doing it, if she could.  She wants to be boss of the room
up-stairs and Mr. Pritchard can put her where he pleases.  If he
don't do it, he'd better, the women say, 'count of her knowing more
about him than he knows she knows.  I don't know what 'tis, but I
hate her.  All of us hate her."

"Why doesn't some one speak to Mr. Johns?  Certainly he can't know--"

"Yes 'm, he does.  Joe Dickson and Bob Beazley told him once, and the
next week they got a hand-out.  High-Spy made Mr. Pritchard do it.
Mr. Johns leaves those kinds of things to him.  Swell folks like him
'ain't got time to look after folks like us.  He's awful rich, ain't
he?"

"He isn't poor.  When are you going to have your lunch?"  I looked at
my watch.  "Can't you go out and have it with me?  I'll ask Mr.
Johns.  Come on, quick.  I'll see the other rooms when I come back."

Jimmy shook his head.  "I can't go.  I ain't being docked 'count of
being with you, because Mr. Pritchard sent me, but he wouldn't let me
come back if I went out.  I been sent down to him once to-day, and
please 'm don't ask him, please 'm don't!"

In Jimmy's voice was something of terror, and his hands slipped in
and out of his trousers' pockets with nervous, frightened movements.
His usually merry little mouth with its pale lips quivered oddly, and
in his eyes, as he turned away, were tears I could not understand.

I put my hand on his shoulder, lifted his face to mine.  "What is it,
Jimmy?  What has happened that you don't want me to ask Mr. Johns to
tell Mr. Pritchard you can go with me?  Why are you afraid?"

"I ain't afraid.  Yes 'm, I am.  I--I've been docked once to-day.
Please 'm don't ask Mr. Pritchard nothing!  High-Spy makes him punish
me whenever--"

"Punish you!"  I straightened indignantly.  "Why does he punish you?
What right--"

"I don't mean licking.  But he keeps me out of the room when I'm sent
out, and docks me at the end of the week.  Mother needs every cent.
She's back in the rent.  I was sent out to-day."

"But why?  What were you doing?"

"Nothing--leastways I didn't mean to.  There wasn't none of us sick
this morning, and Billy Coons was acting down behind High-Spy's back,
and I tried not to laugh.  She don't let us laugh.  But she said I
did.  I didn't laugh--"  Jimmy's voice was protesting.  "I just
smiled and it--it busted."

"Is that why she made you go out of the room?" I turned away and
looked out of the window lest the accident to Jimmy's smile be mine.
"Is that why she sent you out?"

He nodded.  "Mr. Pritchard kept me out an hour.  Sometimes he lets me
make it up at lunch.  I was going to ask him to let me to-day, but--"

"I'm preventing.  I'm glad of it!  When are you going to eat your
lunch?"

"I've done et it--"  Jimmy's tongue moistened his lips.  "I et it on
my way here this morning.  I got paid off last night and I took out
five cents and gave the rest to mother, and this morning I bought a
pie with it and et up every bite.  It might have been hooked when I
was out the room, so I'm glad I didn't save none.  I got it at
Heck's.  He keeps the best pies in town for five cents.  They're real
fat."

I was paying little attention to Jimmy.  At the open window I could
see a young girl across the street with a baby in her arms.  She had
brought it from a small frame house with high steps leading to a
sagging porch, in the door of which a large and kindly-faced woman
was standing, arms folded and eyes watching the movements of the
girl.  As the latter lifted her head, on which was no hat, I leaned
forward, my heart in my throat.  The odd, eager young face, the
boyish arrangement of the hair above it, the quick, bird-like
movements of the slender body, had burned for days and nights in my
brain, and I recognized her at once.

"Jimmy," I said, "come here."  I drew him to the window with nervous
haste, my fingers twitching, my breath unsteady.  "Who is that girl
with the baby?  There she is, turning the corner.  Look quick!  Do
you know her?"

Jimmy shook his head.  "Never saw her.  Can't see her now."  He
leaned far out the window, but the girl had disappeared, and the
woman in the doorway had gone in and closed the door.

I must have said something, made some sort of sound, for Jimmy,
turning from the window, looked at me uneasily, in his eyes distress
and understanding.

"What's the matter, Miss Heath?  You'd better sit down.  Did the heat
make you sick?  You're--you're whiter than that wall."



CHAPTER XI

A sickness which Jimmy could not understand was indeed upon me, and
unsteadily I leaned against the window-frame, looking at, but not
seeing, him, and not until he spoke again did I remember I was not
alone.

"Is it very bad?  You look as if it hurts so.  Wait a minute--I'll
get you some water."

I caught him as he started to run down the hall, and drew him back.
"I don't want any water.  I am not sick."  My head went up.  "The
smell of paste would make me ill if I stayed, however, and I'm not
going to stay to-day.  I'll come some other time.  Run on and join
the other boys.  Tell your mother"--I seemed groping for words--"tell
your mother I will see her before you start to school.  Run on,
Jimmy, and thank Mr. Pritchard for lending you to me.  And laugh as
much as you want to, Jimmy.  Laugh all you can before--you can't!"

Over the banister the child was leaning anxiously, watching me as I
stumbled down the steps.  At their foot I turned and waved my hand
and laughed, an odd, faint, far-away laugh that seemed to come from
some one else; and then I went into the street and found myself
crossing it, impelled by surging impulse to know--

To know what?  At the foot of the rickety stairs leading to the high
porch from which I had seen the girl come I stopped.  All I had been
repressing, fighting, resisting for days past, had in a moment
yielded to horror, and hurt that seemed past healing, and I was
surrendering to what I should know was impossible.  I must be mad!

With a shudder that was half a sob I turned away and walked down the
street and into the one which would lead to Scarborough Square.  As I
walked my shoulders straightened.  What was the matter with me?  Was
I becoming that which I loathed--a suspicious, spying person?  I was
insulting Selwyn.  He knew I hated mystery, however, knew the right
of explanation was mine, knew that I expected of any man who was my
friend that his life should be as open as my life.  If I had hurt
him, angered him by my question when I last saw him, he had hurt, had
angered me far more.  For now I was angry.  Did he imagine I was the
sort of woman who accepted reticence with resignation?  I was not.

At the corner Mr. Fogg was standing in the door of his little shop,
holding a blue bottle up to the light and examining it with critical
care.  He had on his usual clothes of many colors, shabby from much
wearing, but in his round, clean-shaven face, pink with health and
inward cheer, was smiling serenity, and in his eyes a twinkle that
yielded not to time or circumstance.  His second-hand bookshelf, his
canary-birds and white rabbits, his fox-terriers and goldfish are
friends that never fail, and in them he has found content.  His
eagerness to chat occasionally with some one who cares, as he cares,
for his beloved books, is not at times to be resisted, but I was in
no mood to talk to-day.  I wondered if I could hurry by.

"Good morning!"  The blue bottle, half filled with water, in which a
tiny bulb was floating, was waved toward me, and a shaggy white head
nodded at me.  "It's a fine day, ain't it?--a fine day for snow.
Good and gray.  I think we'll have some flakes before night.  Kinder
feel like a boy again when it's snowing.  I don't know yet which
season I like best.  Every one has got its glory.  What you been up
to to-day?  Seeing some more things?"

I nodded.  "I wish I could come in, but I can't." I shivered, though
I was not cold.  "I am going up-town."  A minute before I had no
intention of going up-town, but to go indoors was suddenly
impossible.  Whatever was possessing me must be fought off alone.  "I
will bring you my copy of Men and Nations to-morrow.  Keep it as long
as you wish."

"Thank you, ma'am.  Thank you hearty.  I'll take good care of it.  I
suppose you haven't heard of the widow Robb?  Her name's Patty, you
know, and she's got a beau.  He's named Cake.  Luck plays tricks with
love, don't it?  Don't get caught in a snow-storm.  You ain't"--his
voice was anxious--"you ain't thinking of leaving us, are you?  The
girls down here are needing of you, needing sore.  All of us are
needing of you."

I shook my head.  "Of course I'm not thinking of leaving you."  I
waved my hand in response to his wave of the bottle, and, not seeing
where I went, I turned the corner and, head bent to keep out of my
face the tiny particles of sleet and snow beginning to fall, walked
for some distance before noticing where I was.

Much of my city, unknown to me a short while ago, was now familiar,
but to much I was still a stranger, and presently I was wondering
concerning the occupants of the houses I was passing.  The shabby
gentility and dull respectability of the latter was depressing, and
to escape the radiation of their dreariness I turned into first one
street and then another, and as I walked the girl with the boyish
face walked with me, the face with its hunted fear.  She had held the
baby as if frightened, and when she turned the corner she was
running.  She was so young.  Could the baby be hers?  It must be
hers.  Nothing but a mother-face could have in it what hers had.  Why
was she afraid, and of what?

The streets were becoming rough and unpaved before I noticed I was
nearing the city limits, and, cutting across afield, I got into the
Avenue, toward the end of which was Selwyn's house.  As I neared it
my steps slowed.  For years the Thorne property had been on the
outskirts of the city, but progress had taken it in, and already
houses, flagrantly modern and architecturally shameless, offered
strong contrast to its perfect lines, its conscious dignity, its calm
aloofness, and its stone walls which shielded it from gaping gaze and
gave it privacy.  The iron gates were closed, the shutters drawn, and
from the place stillness that was oppressive radiated, a stillness
that was ominous.

Pride was undoubtedly Selwyn's dominating characteristic.  Pride in
his name, in its unstained honor, in the heritage of his fathers; and
in the presence of his house it seemed an ugly dream--the picture
ever in my mind, the picture of Selwyn walking slowly with a young
girl in the dark of a winter afternoon in a section of the city as
removed from his as sunlight is removed from shadow.  In his nature
was nothing that could make such association imaginable.  If no
higher deterrent prevented, pride would protect him from doubtful
situations.  He was sensitive to higher deterrents, however, as
sensitive as I.

Passing the gates, on the stone columns of which the quaint,
old-fashioned lamps of former days were still nightly lighted, I
glanced through them at the snow-covered lawn and the square-built,
lonely house, occupied now only by Selwyn and his younger brother
Harrie, then again hurried on.  The Avenue with its great width and
unbroken length, its crystal-coated trees and handsome houses, was
now deserted save for hurrying limousines and an occasional
pedestrian; and safe in the fierceness of the snow, from encounter
with old friends, I decided to walk home through the section of the
city which was the only part I once knew well, and just as I decided
I knocked into some one turning a corner as I approached it.

"Oh, Miss Heath!"  The woman drew back.  "The snow was so thick I
didn't see you.  Did I hurt you?"

"Not a bit."  I wiped my face, damp with melted flakes which had
brushed it.  "What are you doing up here?  You look as frozen as I
feel.  Have you got on overshoes?"

The woman shook her head.  "I haven't got any.  I wouldn't have come
out, but I had to bring some work back to Mrs. Le Moyne.  If she'd
paid me I'd have bought a pair of rubbers.  But she didn't pay me.
She said she'd let me have the money next week."

"Next week!  You need it this minute.  How much does she owe you?"

"Four seventy-five for these last things, and four twenty-five for
those I made last week.  I don't know what I'm going to do."  The
woman's hands, cold and stiff, twisted nervously.  "I don't reckon
she's ever had to think about rent, or food, or fuel, or overshoes.
People like that don't have to.  I wish they did, sometimes."

"So do I.  Come on; it's too cold to stop.  We'll go down to Benson's
and get something hot to warm us up.  I forgot about lunch.  Turn
your coat-collar up--the snow is getting down your neck--and take my
muff.  I've got pockets and you haven't."

As we started off a large limousine with violets in the glass vases
of its interior, upholstered in fawn-colored cloth, stopped just
ahead of us, and a woman I did not know got out of it, followed by
one I knew well.  Fur coats entirely covered their dresses, and
quickly the chauffeur opened an umbrella to protect their hats.  As
we passed I started to speak to Alice Herbert, but, turning her head,
she gave me not even a blink of recognition.  At first I did not
understand; then I laughed.

"Who is that?"  Mrs. Beck's voice was awed.  "Ain't they grand?  Do
you know them?"

"No."  I put my hands in the pockets of my long coat.  "I used to
know one of them, the feeble-minded one.  We'd better go over to High
Street and take a car to Benson's.  The storm's getting worse.  We'll
have to hurry."


The street lamps were being lighted as we reached Scarborough Square,
and at sight of the house, in the doorway of which Mrs. Mundy was
standing, I hurried, impelled by impulse beyond defining.  Mrs. Beck
had left me at the corner, and as Mrs. Mundy closed the door behind
me she followed me up the steps.

"I've been that worried about you I couldn't set still long at a
time, and Bettina's been up three times to see that your fire was
burning all right.  I knew you didn't have your umbrella or
overshoes.  It's a wonder you ain't froze stiff.  I'll bring your tea
right up."

"I've had tea, thank you."  I held out first one foot and then the
other to the blazing coals, and from the soles of my shoes came
curling steam.  "It's a wonderful storm.  I'd like to walk ten miles
in it.  I don't know why you were worried.  I'm all right."

"I know you are, but"--she poked the fire--"but I wish you wouldn't
go so hard.  For near two weeks you haven't stopped a minute.  You
can't stand going like that.  I wish I'd known where to find you.
Mr. Thorne was here this afternoon.  He was very anxious to see you."

"Mr. who?"  I turned sharply, then put my hands behind me to hide
their sudden twisting.  I was cold and tired, and the only human
being in all the world I wanted to see was Selwyn.  It was
intolerable, this tormenting something that was separating us.  "When
was he here?"  I asked, and leaned against the mantel.

"He came about three, but he waited half an hour.  He didn't say
much, but he was powerful put out about your not being home.  He
couldn't wait any longer, as he had to catch a train--the
four-thirty, I think."

"Where was he going?"  I sat down in the big wing-chair and the
fingers of my hands interlaced.  "Did he say where he was going?"

"He didn't mention the place, just said he had to go away and might
be gone some time.  He'll write, I reckon.  He was awful disappointed
at not seeing you.  He asked me--"  Mrs. Mundy, on her knees,
unbuttoned my shoes and drew them off.  "Your feet are near 'bout
frozen, and no wonder.  Your stockings are wet clean through, and I'm
letting you sit here in them when I promised him I'd see you didn't
kill yourself doing these very things.  You just put your feet on the
fender while I get some dry clothes.  He says to me, says he: 'Mrs.
Mundy, the one human being she gives no thought to is herself, and
will you please take care of her?  She don't understand'"--

"Oh, I do understand!"  My voice was wearily protesting.  "The one
thing men don't want women to do is to understand.  They want us to
be sweet and pretty--and not understand.  Selwyn talks as if I were a
child.  I am perfectly able to take care of myself."

"Maybe you are, but you don't do it--least-ways, not always.  I
promised him I wouldn't let you wear yourself out, and I promised
him--"

"What?"

"That I wouldn't let you go too far.  He says you've lost your
patience with people, specially women, who think it's not their
business to bother with things that--that aren't nice, and you're apt
to go to the other extreme and forget how people talk."

"About some things they don't talk enough.  Did--did he leave any
message for me?"

Again Mrs. Mundy shook her head.  "I think he wanted to talk to you
about something he couldn't send messages about."



CHAPTER XII

Selwyn has been gone two weeks.  I have heard nothing from him.  I do
not even know where he is.


Yesterday, over the telephone, Kitty reproached me indignantly for not
coming oftener to see her.  Each week I try to take lunch or dinner
with her, but there have been weeks when I could not see her, when I
could not get away.  Scarborough Square and the Avenue are not mixable,
and just now Scarborough Square is taking all my time.

Daily new demands are being made upon me, new opportunities opening,
new friendships being formed, and though my new friends are very
interesting to me, I hardly think they would be to Kitty.  I rarely
speak of them to her.

Miss Hardy, the woman labor inspector for the state, a girl who had
worked in various factories since she was twelve and who had gotten her
education at a night school, where often she fell asleep at her desk, I
find both entertaining and instructing, but Kitty would not care for
her.  She wears spectacles, and Kitty has an unyielding antipathy for
women who wear spectacles.  Neither would she care for Miss Bayne,
another state employee, a clever, capable woman who is an expert in her
line.  It is her business to discover feeble-mindedness, to test school
children, and inmates of institutions to which they have been sent, or
of places to which they have gone because of incapacity or delinquency
or sin of any sort; and nothing I have read in books has been so
revealing concerning conditions that exist as her frank statements
simply told.

In my sitting-room at Scarborough Square she comes in frequently for
tea with me, and meets there Fannie Harris, the teacher of an open-air
school for the tuberculosis children of our neighborhood; and Martha
White, the district nurse for our particular section; meets Miss Hay, a
probation officer of the Juvenile Court, and Loulie Hill, a girl from
the country who had once gone wrong, and who is now trying to keep
straight on five dollars a week made in the sewing-room of one of the
city's hospitals.  Bettie Flynn, who lives at the City Home because of
epileptic fits, also comes in occasionally.  Bettie is a friend of Mrs.
Mundy.  Owing to kinlessness and inability to care for herself, owing,
also, to there being nowhere else to which she could go, she has been
forced to enter the Home.  Her caustic comments on its management are
of a clear-cut variety.  Bettie was born for a satirist and became an
epileptic.  The result at times is speech that is not guarded, a
calling of things by names that are their own.

These and various others who are facing at short range realities of
which I have long been personally ignorant, are taking me into new
worlds, pumping streams of new understandings, new outreaches, into my
brain and heart, and life has become big and many-sided, and a thing
not to be wasted.  Myself of the old life I am seeing as I never saw
before, seeing in a perspective that does not fill with pride.

Last night I went to my first dinner-party since Aunt Matilda's death.
In Kitty's car I watched with interest, on the way to her house, the
long stretches of dingy streets, then cleaner ones, with their old and
comfortable houses; the park, with its bare trees and shrubs, and
finally the Avenue, with its smooth paving and pretentious homes, its
hurrying cars of luxurious make, its air of conscious smartness.  As
contrast to my present home it interested greatly.

Kitty's house is very beautiful.  She is that rare person who knows she
does not know, and the house, bought for her by her father as a
wedding-gift, she had put in the hands of proper authorities for its
furnishings.  It is not the sort of home I would care to have, but it
is undeniably handsome, and undoubtedly Kitty understands the art of
entertaining.

Her dinner-party was rather a large one, its honor guest an English
writer whose books are unendurably dull; but any sort of lion is
helpful in reducing social obligations, and for that purpose Kitty had
captured him.  She insisted on my coming, but begged me not to mention
horrid things, like poor people and politics and babies who died from
lack of intelligent care, but to talk books.

"So few of the others talk books, except novels, and he thinks most
modern novels rotten," she had told me over the telephone.  "So please
come and splash out something about these foreign writers whose names I
can't remember.  Bergyson is one, I believe, and Brerr another, and
France-Ana--Ana something France.  He's a man.  And there's another
one.  Mater. . .  Yes, that's it.  Maeterlinck.  And listen: Wear that
white crepe you wore at my wedding; it's frightfully plain, but all
your other things are black.  I don't see why you still wear black.
Aunt Matilda hated it."

As I went up-stairs to take off my wraps I smiled at Kitty's
instructions.  In her room she hastily kissed me.

"Do hurry and come down.  I'm so afraid he'll come before the others,
and I might have to talk to him.  Literary people are the limit, and
this one, they say, is the worst kind.  Billy refuses to leave his room
until you go down; says he'd rather be sent to jail than left alone
with him ten minutes.  He met him at the club."

Holding me off, she surveyed me critically.  "You look very well.
That's a good-looking dress.  It suits you.  I believe you wear pearls
and these untrimmed things just to bring out your hair and eyes.
Nobody but you could do it."

Stopping her short, quick sentences, she leaned forward.  "There he is,
coming up the steps with Mr. Alexander.  Come on; they're inside.  We
can go down now.   By the way"--she pinned the orchids at her waist
with unnecessary attention--"Selwyn got back yesterday.  He will be
here to-night.  Dick Moran is sick, and Selwyn is taking his place.  At
first he declined to come.  For weeks he's been going nowhere, but he
finally promised.  Are you ready?"

Without looking around she went out of the room, and without answering
her I followed.  I was conscious chiefly of a desire to get away, to do
anything but meet Selwyn where each would have to play a part; but as I
entered Kitty's drawing-room and later met her guests I crowded back
all else but what was due her, spoke in turn to each, and then to
Selwyn, as if between us there was no terrifying, unbridged gulf.

Kitty's dinners are perfect.  I am ever amazed at the care and
consideration she gives to their ordering.  In art and letters she is
not learned, but she is an expert in the management of household
affairs, and her dinner invitations are rarely declined.

At the table, with its lilacs and valley-lilies, its soft lights and
perfect appointments, were old friends of mine and new acquaintances of
hers, and with the guest of honor I shared their curiosity.  Very
skilfully Kitty led the chatter into channels where the draught was
light, and obediently I did my best to follow.  There was much talk,
but no conversation.

"Oh, Miss Heath!"  A young girl opposite me leaned forward.  "I've been
so crazy to meet you.  Some one told me that you'd gone in for slums.
It must be so entrancing!"

I looked up.  For a second Selwyn's eyes held mine and we both smiled,
but before I could speak Kitty's lion turned toward me.

"Yes--I heard that, too."  Fixing his black-rimmed glasses more firmly
on his big and bulging nose, Mr. Garrott looked at me closely.  "In my
country slumming has become a fad with a--a certain type of restless
women who have to make their living, I suppose.  But I wouldn't fancy
you were--"

"She isn't."

Jack Peebles, now happily married, blinked in my direction, signaled me
to say nothing, then turned to the Englishman.  "Miss Heath can do as
she chooses, being Miss Heath, but the Turks are right.  Women ought to
be kept behind latticed windows, given a lute, and supplied with veils,
and if they ask for anything else, they should be taken from the
window."

"I don't agree with you."  Mr. Garrott filled his fork with mushrooms
and raised it to his mouth.  "The Turks carry their restraint too far.
Women should have more liberty than is given them in Turkey.  They add
color to life, add to its--"

"Uncertainties."  Selwyn made effort to control the smile the others
found uncontrollable.  "In your country, now, the woman-question is
interesting, exciting.  There they do things, smash things, make a
noise, keep you guessing.  Over here their behavior is much less
entertaining.  Their attitude is one of investigation as well as
demand.  They have developed an unreasonable desire to know things;
know why they are as they are; why they should continue to be what they
have been.  They are preparing themselves by first-hand knowledge and
information to tell what most of us do not want to hear."

Selwyn's eyes again for a moment held mine, and in my face I felt hot
color creeping.  Never before had he defended, even with satire, what
he had told me a hundred times was folly on my part.  He turned to Mr.
Garrott.

"Why on earth perfectly comfortable, supposedly Christian human beings
should want personally to know anything about uncomfortable, unfit,
under-paid ones--"

"Oh, but I think they ought to!"  Again the pretty little creature in
green chiffon nodded toward me.  "But you won't let Miss Heath have a
chance to say anything!  Some one told me such queer people came to see
her.  Factory-girls and working-women and--oh--all sorts of people like
that.  Is it really so, Miss Heath?"

"Very interesting people come to see me.  They are undoubtedly of
different sorts, but one of the illuminating discoveries of life is
that human beings are amazingly alike.  Veneering is a great help, of
course.  If you knew my friends you would find--"

"I'd love to know them.  I always have liked queer people.  I've been
crazy to come and see you, but mother won't let--  I mean--"

"Mrs. Henderson says she met a young man when she went to see you who
was the cleverest person she ever talked, to."  Gentle Annie Gaines was
venturing to come to my help.  "He seemed to know something of
everything.  She couldn't remember his name."

"It's difficult to remember.  He's a Russian Jew.  Schrioski, is his
name."  At the head of the table I felt Kitty squirm, knew she was
twisting her feet in fear and indignation.  I turned to her English
guest.

"I have another friend who will be so glad to know I have met you, Mr.
Garrott.  He is one of your most intelligent and intense admirers.  He
has read, I think, everything you've written."

Absorbed in his salad, evidently new and to his liking, Mr. Garrott was
not impressed by, or appreciative of, my attempt to follow Kitty's
instructions.  With any reservations of my bad taste in talking shop I
would have agreed, still, something was due Kitty.  "He tells me"--I
refused to be ignored--"that he keeps an advance order for everything
you write; buys your books as soon as they are published."

"Buys them!"  With the only quick movement he had made, Mr. Garrott
turned to me.  "I'd like to meet him.  I'm glad to know there's
somebody in America who buys and reads my books.  Usually those who buy
don't read, and those who read don't buy.  But tell me--"  Again the
corners of his mouth drooped, and again his spectacles were adjusted.
"Why did you go in for--for living in a run-down place and meeting such
odds and ends as they say you meet?  You're not old enough for things
of that kind.  An ugly woman, uninteresting, unprovided for--she might
take them up."  He stared at me as if for physical explanation of
unreasonable peculiarities.  "You believe, I fancy--"

"That a woman is capable of deciding for herself what she wants to do."

Again Jack Peebles's near-sighted eyes blinked at me, but in his voice
there was no longer chaffing.  "She believes even more remarkable
things than that.  Believes if people, all sorts, knew one another
better, understood one another better, there would be less injustice,
less indifference, and greater friendship and regard.  Rather an
uncomfortable creed for those who don't want to know, who prefer--"

"But you don't expect all grades of people to be friends?  Surely you
don't expect--"

I smiled.  "No, I don't expect.  So far I'm only hoping all people may,
some day--be friendly."

Kitty was signaling frantically with her eyes, and in obedience I again
performed as requested, for the third time turned to Mr. Garrott.

"I heard a most interesting discussion the other day concerning certain
present-day French writers.  I wonder if you agree with Bernard Shaw
that Brieux is the greatest dramatist since Moliere, or if--"

"I never agree with Bernard Shaw."

Mr. Garrott frowned, and, taking up his wine-glass, drained it.
Putting it down, he again stared at me.  "I don't understand you.  You
don't look at all as I imagined you would."

At the foot of the table Billy was insisting upon the superiority of
the links of the Hawthorne to those of the Essex club, and Kitty, at
her end, was giving a lively account of a wedding-party she had come
across at the station the evening before when seeing a friend off for
her annual trip South, and at first one and then the other Mr. Garrott
looked, as if not comprehending why, when he wished to speak, there
should be chatter.  Later, when again we were in the drawing-room, he
continued to eye me speculatively, but he was permitted no opportunity
to add to his inquiries; and when at last he was gone Kitty sat down,
limp and worn at the strain she had been forced to endure.

"What business is it of his how you live and what you do?" she said,
indignantly.  "He's an old teapot, but you see now what I mean.  I'm
always having to explain you, to tell--"

"Don't do it.  I'll forgive much, but not explaining.  Your lion
doesn't roar well, still, a lion is worth seeing--once."  I turned to
Selwyn.  "I beg your pardon.  Did you speak to me?"

"I asked if I could take you to Scarborough Square.  I have a taxi
here."

"Thank you, but I am spending the night with Kitty.  I am not going
back."

In astonishment Kitty looked at me, then turned away.  I had told her I
could not stay.  I had not intended to stay, but I could not talk to
Selwyn to-night.  There would not be time and there was too much I
wanted to say.

Selwyn's shoulders made shrug that was barely perceptible, and without
offering his hand he said good night.  In the hall I heard him speak to
Kitty, then the closing of the door and the starting of the taxi, then
silence.

Dawn was breaking when at last I slept.



CHAPTER XIII

I have not seen Selwyn since the night of Kitty's dinner-party.  He
has been back three days.  If he wished to see me before he went
away, why does he not come to see me now?  Daily I determine I will
let no thought of him come into my mind.  The purposes for which I
came to Scarborough Square will be defeated if I continue to think of
this unimaginable happening that is with me day and night, this
peculiar behavior of which he makes no explanation.  I determine not
to think, and thought is ever with me.

I was silly, foolish, quixotic to hope that here, in this little
world of workaday people, he might be brought to see that personal
acquisition and advance is not enough to give life meaning, to
justify what it exacts.  I was foolish.  We are more apart than when
I came.

Mrs. Mundy, in her blue cotton dress, a band of embroidery in the
neck of its close-fitting basque, and around her waist a long, white
apron which reached beyond her ample hips to the middle of her back,
lingered this morning, dust-cloth in hand, at the door of my
sitting-room.  There was something else she wanted to say.

"I'm mighty 'fraid little Gertie Archer is going to have what we used
to call a galloping case." She went over to the window, where she
felt the earth in its flower-box to see if it were moist.  "She's a
pretty child, and she was terrible anxious to go to one of them
open-air schools on the roof, but there wasn't any room.  It's too
late now."

The upper ends of the dust-cloth were fitted together carefully, and,
leaving the window, Mrs. Mundy went over to the door.  "Do you reckon
the women know, the women where you come from?  And the other women,
the rich, and the comfortable, and the plain ones who could help,
too, if they were shown how--do you reckon they know?"

I looked up from the table where I had been straightening some
magazines.  "Know what?"

"About there not being schools enough for the children, and about
boys and girls going wrong because of not being shown how to go
right, and about--"

Mrs. Mundy sat down in a chair near the door.  "Another thing I want
to ask you is this: How did it come about that some men and women
have found out they've got to know, and they've got to care, and
they've _got_ to help with things they didn't use to help with; and
some 'ain't heard a sound, 'ain't seen a thing of what's going on
around them?

"Some people like being deaf and blind.  But most people are willing
to do their part if they only understand it.  The trouble is in
knowing how to go about things in the right way--the wise way.  Women
have had to stumble so long--

"They're natural stumblers--women are.  That is, some of 'em.
They're afraid to look where they're going.  I don't like to lose
heart in anything human, but I get low down in spirit when I see how
don't-care so many women are.  They're blind as bats when they don't
want to see, and they've got a mighty satisfying way of soothing of
themselves by saying some things ain't their business.  That's
devil's dope.  Generally women who talk that way are the ones who
call the most attention to the faults and failings of men.
Considering men are men, I think they do wonderful.  Mr. Guard says
if women keep silent much longer the very stones will cry out."

"Mr. Guard?  Is he the one you call the people's preacher?"

Mrs. Mundy nodded.  "He preaches to them what won't go in a church.
I reckon you've seen something about him in the papers.  He used to
have a church in a big city, but he gave it up.  I don't think he
thinks like the churches think, exactly, but he don't have any call
to mention creeds and doctrines down here, and he just asks people
plain out what kind of life they're living, not what they believe.
I've been wanting for a long time for you-all to know each other."

"I'd like very much to know him.  Ask him to come to see me."

"He don't go to see people unless they need him.  I've been wanting
him for weeks to come to supper with Bettina and me, but he's that
busy he hasn't had a night free to do it.  When he does have one,
would you mind coming down and taking supper with us instead of my
sending yours up as usual?  I'd be awful proud to have you."

"Of course I'll come.  I'd love to.  Can't you get him for Friday
evening?  I have no engagement for Friday--"

"It's this minute I'll try."  Mrs. Mundy got up with activity.  "You
two were meant to know each other.  Both of you have your own way of
doing things, and you'll have a lot to talk about.  You'll like him
and he'll like you.  I'll let you know if he can come as soon as I
find out."  Closing the door behind her, she left me alone.

Taking the morning paper to the window, I drew my chair close to it,
pushing back the curtains that I might have all possible light as I
read.  It was again snowing, and the grayness of the sky and
atmosphere was reflected in the room, notwithstanding the leaping
flames of the open fire, and after a while I put the paper aside and
looked out of the window.

Each twig and branch of the trees and shrubs of the snow-covered
Square was bent and twisted in fantastic shape by its coating of
sleet, and the usual shabbiness of the little park was glorified with
shining wonder; and under its spell, for the moment, I forgot all
else.  Here and there a squirrel hopped cautiously from tree to tree,
now standing on its branches and nibbling a nut dug from its
hiding-place, now scurrying off to hide it again, and as I watched
the cautious cocking of their heads I laughed aloud, and the sound
recalled me to the waste I was making of time.

"This isn't writing my letters, and they must go off on the afternoon
mail."  Getting up, I was about to turn from the window when a man
and a young woman coming across the Square caught my attention and,
hardly knowing why, I looked at them intently.  Something about the
man was familiar.  He was barely medium height, and singularly
slender, and though his head was bent that he might better hear the
girl who was talking, I was sure I had seen him before.  The girl I
had never seen.  She was dragging slowly, as if each step was forced,
and, putting her handkerchief close to her mouth, she began to cough.

For a moment they stood still and I saw the girl had on low shoes and
a shabby coat which had once been showy.  On one side of her hat was
a red bird, battered and bruised, and at this comic effort at
dressiness, which poor people cling to with such pathetic
persistence, I smiled, and then in alarm leaned closer to the window.

They had begun their walk again, and were now at the end of the path
opening on to the pavement.  I could see them clearly, and
instinctively my hands went out as if to catch her, for the girl had
fallen forward, and on the snow a tiny stream of red was dripping
from her mouth.  Quickly the man caught her and put his handkerchief
to her lips, and with equal swiftness he looked around.  He could not
lay her on the snow, but she could no longer stand.  The fear in his
face, the whiteness of hers, were plainly visible.  I raised the
window.

"Bring her over here," I called.  "I'll come down and help you."

In a flash I was out of the room and down the steps.  Mrs. Mundy, who
had heard my hurried running, followed me to the door.  "What is it?"
she asked.  "What's the matter, Miss Dandridge?"

Opening the front door, I started down the steps, but already the
man, with the girl in his arms, was coming up them.  "Go back," he
said, quietly, though his breath was quick and uneven.  "Go back.
You'll get your feet wet."

With a swift movement Mrs. Mundy pushed me aside.  "Mr. Guard?"  Her
voice was questioning, uncertain; then she held out her arms.  "The
poor child!  Give her to me.  Who is it?  Why, it's--it's Lillie
Pierce!"

"Yes."  The man's voice was low, and with a movement of his head his
hat fell on the floor.  "It's Lillie Pierce.  She has fainted.  Where
shall I take her?"

"In here."  Opening a door at the end of the hall, Mrs. Mundy
motioned Mr. Guard to enter.  From the girl's mouth the blood was
still dripping, and on the collar of her coat was a big round splotch
of red.

"No," I said.  "Bring her up-stairs.  There's a room all fixed, and
you have so much to do." I put my hand on Mrs. Mundy's arm.  "I can
take care of her.  Can't we take her up-stairs?"

A swift look passed between Mrs. Mundy and Mr. Guard.  "No."  The
latter shook his head.  "It is better for her to be down here."
Going inside of the little room, he laid the girl on a cot at the
foot of the bed, then turned to me.  "Get a doctor.  Call Chester
4273 and tell Carson, if he's there, to come at once.  If you can
find her, get Miss White also."

I turned to leave the room, but not before I saw Mrs. Mundy and Mr.
Guard at work on the girl, and already her hat and coat were off, and
warm covering was being tucked around her.  Mrs. Mundy knew what to
do, and with feet that hardly touched the steps I was at the
telephone and calling the number that had been given me.  I was
frightened and impatient at the slowness of Central.  "For Heaven's
sake, hurry!" I said.  "Some one is ill.  Ring loud!"

Dr. Carson was in.  He would come at once.  Miss White was out.

"Where is she?" I asked.  "Where can I get her?"

I was told where she might be found, and, changing my slippers for
shoes, and putting on my coat and hat, I came down ready to go out.
At the door of the room where they had taken the girl I stopped.  She
was now quite conscious, and with no pillow under her head she was
staring up at the ceiling.  Blood was no longer on her lips, but a
curious smile was on them.  It must have been this gasping, faintly
scornful smile that startled me.  It seemed mocking what had been
done too late.

"I am going for Miss White."  I looked at Mr. Guard.  "She is at the
Bostrows'.  The doctor--"

As I spoke he came in, a big man, careless in dress and caustic in
speech, but a man to be trusted.  I slipped out and in a few minutes
had found Martha White, and quickly we walked back to Scarborough
Square.

"It's well you came when you did."  She bent her head to keep the
swirling snowflakes from her face.  Martha is fat and short and rapid
walking is difficult.  "I was just about to leave for the other end
of town to see a typhoid case of Miss Wyatt's.  She's young and gets
frightened easily, and I promised I'd come some time to-day, though
it's out of my district.  Who is this girl I'm going to see?"

"I don't know.  I heard Mr. Guard and Mrs. Mundy call her Lillie
Pierce.  They seemed to know her.  I never saw her before."

"Never heard of her."  Miss White, who had been district nursing for
fourteen years, made effort to recall the name.  "She had a
hemorrhage, you say?"

She did not wait for an answer, but went up the steps ahead of me,
and envy filled me as I followed her into the room where she was to
find her patient.  Professionally Miss White was one person, socially
another.  Off duty she was slow and shy and consciously awkward.  In
the sick-room she was transformed.  Quiet, cool, steady, alert, she
knew what to do and how to do it.  With a word to the others, her
coat and hat were off and she was standing by the bed, and again I
was humiliated that I knew how to do so little, was of so little
worth.

Between the doctor and herself was some talk.  Directions were given
and statements made, and then the doctor came to the door where I was
standing.  For a half-moment he looked me over, his near-sighted eyes
almost closing in their squint.

"I knew your father.  A very unusual man." He held out his hand.
"You're like him, got his expression, and, I'm told, the same
disregard of what people think.  That"--he jerked his thumb over his
shoulder--"is a side of life you've never seen before.  It's a side
men make and women permit.  Good morning."  Before I could answer he
was gone.

Close to the cot Mrs. Mundy and Miss White were still standing.  The
latter slipped her hand under the covering and drew out the hot-water
bag.  "This has cooled," she said.  "Where can I get hot water?"

Mrs. Mundy pointed to the bath-room, then turned, and together they
left the room.  The girl on the cot was seemingly asleep.

As they went out the man, who was standing by the mantel, came toward
me.  "I am David Guard," he said.  "I have not thanked you for
letting me bring her in.  Had there been anywhere else to take her, I
would not have brought her here.  I met her at the other end of the
Square.  We had been standing for some while, talking.  There was no
place to which we could go to talk, and, fearing she would get too
cold, we had moved on.  Last month she tried to take her life.  This
morning she was telling me she could hold out no longer.  There was
no way out of it but death."

"Who is she?"

Before he could answer I understood.  Shivering, I turned away, then
I came back.

"Will you come to my sitting-room, Mr. Guard?  Can we not talk as
human beings who are trying to find the right way to--to help wrong
things?"



CHAPTER XIV

A moment later we were up-stairs.  "I don't know why I am so cold."
My hands, not yet steady, were held out to the leaping flames.
"Usually I love a snow-storm, but to-day--"

"They tell me you rarely have such weather as we have had of late.
Personally I like it, but to many it means anything but pleasure.
Is this the chair you prefer?"

At my nod he pushed a low rocker closer to the fire and placed a
foot-stool properly.  Drawing up the wing-chair he sat down and
looked around the room.  As the light fell on him I noticed the
olive, almost swarthy, coloring of his skin, his deep-sunk eyes
with their changing expressions of gravity and humor, of tolerance
and intolerance, and I knew he was the sort of man one could talk
to on any subject and not be misunderstood.  His hair was slightly
gray, and frequently his well-shaped hand would brush back a long
lock that fell across his temple.  His clothes were not of a
clerical cut, and evidently had seen good service; and that he gave
little attention to personal details was evidenced by his cravat,
which was midway of his collar, and his collar of a loose,
ill-fitting kind.

About him was something intensely earnest, intensely eager and
alert, and, watching him, I realized he belonged to that little
group which through the ages has dared to differ with accepted
order; and for his daring he had suffered, as all must suffer who
feel as well as think.

"You don't mind," the smile on his face was whimsical, "if I take a
good draught of this, do you?  It's been long since I've seen just
this sort of thing."  His eyes were on a picture between two
windows.  "Out of Denmark one rarely sees anything of Skovgaard's.
That Filipinno Lippi is excellent, also.  At the Hermitage in St.
Petersburg I tried to get a copy like that"--he nodded at
Rembrandt's picture of himself--"but there was none to be had.  Did
you get yours there?"

"Four years ago.  I also got that photograph of Houdon's Voltaire
there."

He looked in the direction to which I pointed, and, getting up,
went over to first one picture and then another, and studied them
closely.  A bit of bronze, a statuette or two, an altar-piece, a
chalice, a flagon, a paten, a censer, and an ikon held his
attention, one after the other, and again he turned to me.

"These are very interesting.  Is it as one of the faithful you
collect?" A smile which strangely lighted his face swept over it.

"Oh no!"  I shook my head.  "The faithful would find me a most
disturbing person.  I ask too many questions."  My hand made
movement in the direction of the bookshelves around the four sides
of the room, on the tops of which were oddly assorted little
remembrances of days of travel.  "A study of such things is a study
of religious expression at different periods and among different
peoples.  They've always interested me."

"They interest me, also."  Mr. Guard stood before the ikon, looked
long upon it before coming back to the fire and again sitting down.
For a moment he gazed into it as if forgetting where he was, then
he leaned back in his chair and turned to me.

"A collection of examples of ecclesiastical art, of religious
ideas embodied in objects used for purposes of worship, is
interesting--yes--but a collection of re-actions against what they
fail to represent would be more so, could they be collected."

"They have been--haven't they?  In the lives of those who dare to
differ, to break from heritage and tradition, much has been
collected and transmitted.  The effect of re-actions is what
counts, I suppose."

"Their inevitability is what people do not seem to understand."
Leaning forward, he again looked into the fire, his hands between
his knees.  "The teachings of Christ having been twisted into a
system of theology, and the Church into an organization based on
dogma and doctrine, re-action is unescapable.  However, we won't
get on that." Again he straightened.  "Was it re-action that
brought you to Scarborough Square?  I beg your pardon!  I have no
right to ask.  There was something you wished to ask me, I believe."

For a moment there was silence, broken only by the flames of the
fire, which spluttered and flared and made soft, whispering sounds,
while on the window-panes the snow, now turning into sleet, tapped
as if with tiny fingers, and my heart began to beat queerly.

I did not know how to ask him what I wanted to ask.  There was much
he could tell me, much I wished to hear from a man's standpoint,
but how to make him understand was difficult.  He had faced life
frankly, knew what was subterfuge, what sincere, and the
restrictions of custom and convention no longer handicapped him.
Between sympathy and sentimentality he had found the right
distinction, and his judgment and emotions had learned to work
together.  My judgment and emotions were yet untrained.

"The girl down-stairs," I began.  "You and Mrs. Mundy seem to know
her.  If she belongs, as I imagine, to the world down there," my
hand made motion behind me, "Mrs. Mundy will think I can do
nothing.  But cannot somebody do something?  Must things always go
on the same way?"

"No.  They will not always go on the same way.  They will continue
so to go, however, until women--good women--understand they must
chiefly bring about the change.  For centuries women have been
cowards, been ignorant of what they should know, been silent when
they should speak.  They prefer to be--"

"White roses!  But white roses do not necessarily live in
hot-houses." I pushed my chair farther from the fire.  "That is one
of the reasons I am here.  I want to know where women fail."

He looked up.  "One does not often find a woman willing to know.
Behind the confusion of such terms as ignorance and innocence most
women continue their irresponsibility in certain directions.  They
have accepted man's decree that certain evils, having always
existed, must always exist, and they have made little effort to
test the truth of the assertion.  Lillie Pierce and the women of
her world are largely the product of the attitude of good women
toward them.  To the sin of men good women shut their eyes, pretend
they do not know.  They do not want to know."

"They not only do not want to know, themselves--that is, many of
them--but they would keep others from knowing.  Perhaps it is
natural.  So many things have happened to life in the past few
years that even clever, able women are still bewildered, still
uncertain what is right to do.  Life can never be again what it
once was, and still, most of us are trying to live a new thing in
an old way.  We have so long been purposely kept ignorant, so long
not permitted to have opinions that count, so long been told our
work is elsewhere, that cowardice and indifference, the fear of
inability to deal with new conditions, new obligations, new
responsibilities, still holds us back.  I get impatient, indignant,
and then I realize--"

David Guard laughed.  "That many are still in the child class?"
His head tossed back the long lock of hair that fell over his
forehead.  "It is true, but certainly you do not think because I
see the backwardness, the blindness of some women, I do not see the
forwardness, the vision of others?  Men have hardly guessed as yet
that it is chiefly due to women that the world is now asking
questions it has never asked before, beginning to look life in the
face where once it blinked at it.  Because of what women have
suggested, urged, insisted on, and worked for, the social
conscience all over the earth has been aroused, social legislation
enacted, and social dreams stand chance of coming true.  Certain
fields they have barely entered yet, however.  It is easy to
understand why.  When they realize what is required of them, they
will not hold back.  But as yet, among the women you know, how many
give a thought to Lillie Pierce's world, to the causes and
conditions which make her and her kind?"

I shook my head.  "I do not know.  I've never heard her world
discussed."

"I suppose not.  In this entire city there are few women who think
of girls like Lillie Pierce, or care to learn the truth concerning
them; care enough to see that though they went unto dogs, unto dogs
they need not return if they wish to get away.  Most people, both
men and women, imagine such girls like their hideous life; that
they entered it from deliberate choice.  Out of a hundred there may
be a dozen who so chose, but each of the others has her story, in
many instances a story that would shame all men because of man." He
glanced at the clock and got up quickly.

"I'm sorry, but I've got to go.  I'd entirely forgotten an
engagement I'm compelled to fill.  May I come again?"  He held out
his hand.  "I've heard about you, of course.  I've wanted to know
you.  There's much I'd like to talk to you about.  When you leave
Scarborough Square and go back into your world, you can tell it
many things it should know.  Some day it will understand." Abruptly
he turned and left the room.



CHAPTER XV

The girl down-stairs, the girl named Lillie Pierce, was taken on the
back porch this morning, and for the first time Mrs. Mundy left me
alone with her.

"When the snow's gone and the sun shines, the cot can be rolled out, I
told the doctor," Mrs. Mundy tucked the covering closely around the
shrinking figure, "but chill and dampness ain't friends to feeble
folks, and there's plenty of fresh air without going outdoors.  It's
hard to make even smart folks like doctors get more 'n one idea at a
time in their heads, and in remembering benefits, they forget dangers.
Are you ready, child, for a whiff of sunshine?  It's come at last, the
sun has."

The girl nodded indifferently, but as the cot was pushed into the porch
I saw her lips quiver, saw her teeth bitten into them to hide their
quivering, and I nodded to Mrs. Mundy to go inside, and I, too, left
her for a moment and went down the steps to the little garden being
made ready for the coming of spring.  Around the high fence vines had
been planted, a trellis or two put against the porch for roses and
clematis, and close to the gate an apple-tree, twisted and gnarled,
gave promise of blossoms, if not of fruit.  Already I loved the garden
which was to be.

"Violets are to be here and tulips there," I said, under my breath, and
wondered if Lillie were herself again, if I could not go back.  "A row
of snowdrops and bleeding-hearts would look lovely there--" Something
green and growing in a sheltered corner near the house caught my eye,
and stooping, I pulled the little blossom, and went up the steps to
Lillie's cot and gave it to her.

Eagerly she held out her hands and the silence of days was broken.  The
bitterness that had filled her eyes, the scorn that had drawn her thin
lips into forbidding curves, the mask of control which had exhausted
her strength, yielded at the sight of a little brown-and-yellow flower,
and with a cry she kissed it, pressed it to her face.

"It used to grow, a long bed of it, close to the kitchen wall where it
was warm, and where it bloomed before anything else."  The words came
stumblingly.  "Mother loved it best of all her flowers; she had all
sorts in her garden."

With a quick turn of her head she looked at me, in her face horror, in
her eyes tumultuous pain, then threw the flower from her with a wild
movement, as if her touch had blighted it.  "Why don't you let me die!"
she cried.  "Oh, why don't you let me die!"

I drew a chair close to the cot and sat down by it.  For a while I said
nothing.  Things long locked within her, long held back, were
struggling for utterance.  In the days she had been with us her silence
had been unbroken, but gradually something bitter and rebellious had
died out of her face, and into it had come a haunted, hunted look, and
yet she would not talk.  Until she was ready to speak we knew it was
best to say nothing to her of days that were past, or of those that
were to come.

Mrs. Mundy had known her before she came to Scarborough Square.  In a
ward of one of the city's hospitals, where her baby was born, she had
found her alone, deserted, and waiting her time.  Two days after its
birth the baby died.

When she left the hospital there was nowhere for her to go.  She had
lived in a city but a short time and knew little of its life, and yet
she must work.  Mrs. Mundy got a room for her, then a place in a store,
and she did well, kept to herself, but somebody who knew her story saw
her, told the proprietor, and he turned her off.  He couldn't keep
girls like that, he said.  It would injure his business.  Later, she
got in an office.  She had learned at night to do typewriting, and
there one of the men was kind to her, began to give her a little
pleasure every now and then.  She was young.  It was dreary where she
lived, and she craved a bit of brightness.  One night he took her to
what she found was--oh, worse than where she has since lived, for it
pretended to be respectable.

"She was terribly afraid of men.  It wasn't put on; it was real.  I
know pretense when I see it."  Mrs. Mundy, who was telling me of the
girl, changed her position and fixed the screen so that the flames from
the fire should not burn her face.  "Ever since the father of the child
had deserted her, she had believed all men were wicked, but this man
had been so friendly, so kindly, she thought he was different from the
others.  When she found where she was, she was crazy with fear and
anger, and made a scene before she left.  The next morning when she
went to work she was told her services were no longer needed, and told
in a way that made her understand she was not fit to work in the room
with other girls.  The man who had charge of the room was the man she
had thought a friend.  He's got his job still."

The ticking of the clock on the mantel alone broke the stillness of the
room as Mrs. Mundy stopped.  I tried to say something, but words would
not come.

"For years I've heard the stories of these poor creatures."  Mrs.
Mundy's even tones steadied somewhat the protesting tumult in my heart.
"For years I've known the awful side of the lives they lead.  I didn't
have money or learning or influence, or the chance to make good people
understand, even if they'd been willing to hear, what I could tell, but
I could help one of them every now and then.  There 're few of them who
start out deliberate to live wrong.  When they take it up regular it's
'most always because they're like dogs at bay.  There's nothing else to
do."

"What became of Lillie when she lost her place?"  I got up from the
sofa and came closer to the fire.  My teeth were chattering.

"She lost her soul.  She went in a factory, but the air made her sick,
and after three faints they turned her off.  It interrupted the work
and made the girls lose time running to her, and so she had to go.
After a while--I was away at the time--the woman she lived with turned
her out.  She owed room rent, a good deal of it, and she needed food
and clothes, and there was no money with which to buy them.  It got her
crazy, the thought that because she had done wrong she was but a rag to
be kicked from place to place with only the gutter to land in at last,
and--well, she landed.  But she isn't all bad.  I used to feel about
girls like her just as most good people still feel, but I've come to
see there's many of them who are more sinned against than sinning.  The
men who make and keep them what they are go free and are let alone."

"Couldn't she have gone home?  You said she was from the country.
Wouldn't they let her come back home?"

Mrs. Mundy shook her head.  "Her own mother was dead and her stepmother
wouldn't let her come.  She had young children of her own.  Last month
she tried to end it all.  She won't be here much longer.  The doctor
says she'll hardly live six months.  If we can get her in the City
Home--"

"The City Home!"  The memory of what I had seen there came over me
protestingly.  The girl had lived in hell.  She need not die in it.
"Perhaps she can be sent somewhere in the country," I said, after a
while.  "Mr. Guard might know of some one who will take her.  Certainly
she can stay here until--until he knows what is best to do."

Mrs. Mundy got up.  For a moment she looked at me, started to say
something, then went out of the room.  She was crying.  I wonder if I
said anything I shouldn't.

"Tell me of your mother's garden."  I picked up the tiny flower and put
it on Lillie's cot, where its fragrance waked faint stirrings of other
days.  "I've always wanted a garden like my grandmother Heath used to
have.  I remember it very well, though I was only nine when she died.
There were cherry-trees and fig-trees in it, and a big arbor covered
with scuppernong grape-vines, and wonderful strawberries in one corner.
All of her flowers were the old-fashioned kind.  There was a beautiful
yellow rose that grew all over the fence which separated the flowers
from the vegetables, and close to the wood-house was a big moss-rose
bush.  There were Micrafella roses, too.  I loved them best, and
Jacqueminots, and tea-roses, and--"

"Did she have princess-feather in hers, and candytuft, and
sweet-williams?"  Lillie turned over on her side, her hand under her
cheek, and in her eyes a quick, eager glow.  "In mother's garden were
all sorts of old-fashioned flowers also.  We lived two miles from town
and father sold vegetables and chickens to the market-men, who sold
them to their customers.  But he never had as good luck with his
vegetables as mother had with her flowers.  She loved them so.  There
was a big mock-orange bush right by the well.  Did you ever shut your
eyes and see things again just as they were a long time ago?  If I were
blind-folded and my hands tied behind me I could find just where every
flower used to grow in mother's garden, if I could go in it again."

Like a flood overleaping the barrier that held it back, the words came
eagerly.  To keep her from talking would do more harm than to let her
talk.  The fever in her soul was greater, more consuming, than that in
her body.  I did not try to stop her.

"I don't remember where each thing was in grandmother's garden."  I
moved my chair a little closer to her cot.  "But I remember the
gooseberry-bushes were just behind a long bed of lilies-of-the-valley.
It seemed so queer they should be together."

"Lilies of the valley grow anywhere.  Mother's bed got bigger every
year.  There was a large circle of them around a mound in the middle of
our garden, and they were fringed with violets.  One February our
minister's wife died.  They didn't have any flowers, and it seemed so
dreadful not to have any that I went into the garden to see if I
couldn't find something.  The ground was covered with snow, but the
week before had been warm, and, going to one of the beds, I brushed the
snow away and found a lot of white violets.  They were blooming under
the snow.  I pulled them and took them to the minister, and he put them
in her hands.  They used to put flowers in people's hands when they
were dead.  I don't know whether they do it now or not."

"Sometimes it is done."  I took up the sewing an my lap and made a few
stitches.  "Tell me some more of your mother's garden.  Did she have
winter pinks and bachelor's buttons and snap-dragons and hollyhocks in
it?  I used to hate grandmother's hollyhocks.  They were so haughty."

"We did not have any, but we had bridal-wreath and spirea and a big
pomegranate-bush.  There were two large oleanders in tubs at the foot
of the front steps.  One was mine, the other was my sister's.  My
sister is married now and lives out West.  She has two children."

A bird on the bough of the apple-tree began to twitter.  For a moment
Lillie listened, then again she looked at me, in her eyes that which I
had noticed several times before, a look of torturing fear and pain and
shame.

"Do"--her voice was low--"do you know about me?"

"Yes, I know about you."

"You know--and--and still you talk to me?  I don't understand.  Why did
you come down here?  You don't belong in Scarborough Square."

"Why not?  I have no one who needs me."  I held my bit of sewing off,
looked at it carefully.  "Other women have their homes, their husbands
and children, or their families, or duties or obligations of some sort,
which they cannot leave, even if they wanted to know, to understand
better how they might--"  I leaned forward.  "I think you can help me,
Lillie, help me very much."

"Help you--"  Half lifting herself up, Lillie stared at me as if not
understanding, then the flush in her face deepened.  "I help anybody!
Oh, my God! if I only could!  If I only could!"

"I'm sure you can."  I picked up the flower, which again had fallen.
"The doctor says you can go in the country soon, but before you go--"

"I hope I won't live long enough to go anywhere, but before I go away
for good if I could tell you what you could tell to others, and make
them understand how different it is from what they think, make them
know the awfulness--awfulness--"

She turned her head away, buried it in her arms, her body shaking in
convulsive sobs.  The bird on the apple-tree had stopped its singing,
and the sun was no longer shining.  In the hall I heard Mrs. Mundy go
to the door, heard it open; then heavier footsteps came toward us, I
looked around.  Selwyn was standing in the doorway.



CHAPTER XVI

Selwyn closed the door, put his hat and overcoat on a chair beside
it, and came over to the fire.  Standing in front of it, hands in his
pockets, he looked at me.  I, also, was standing.

"Why don't you sit down?  Are you in a hurry?  Am I interrupting you?"

I shook my head.  "I am not in a hurry, and you are not interrupting.
I thought perhaps--"

"Thought what?"

"That you were in a hurry."  I sat down on a footstool near the
mantel, and leaned against the latter, my hands on my knees.  "I so
seldom have a visit from a man in the morning that I don't know how
to behave."  My head nodded toward the chair he usually preferred.

"I would not take your time now--but I must." He took a seat opposite
me, and looking at me, his face changed.  "What is the matter?  Are
you sick?  Your eyes look like holes in a blanket.  Something has
been keeping you awake.  What is it?"

"I am not at all sick, and I slept very well last night."  I drew a
little further from the flame of the fire.  "I'm sorry if my eyes--"

"Belie your bluff?  They always do.  Resist as you will, they give
you away.  You've been working yourself to death doing absurd things
for unthankful people.  Who is that sick person downstairs?  Where'd
you pick her up?"

"I didn't pick her up.  She had a hemorrhage and fainted in front of
the house.  I happened to see her and--and--"

"Had her brought in.  I understand.  In a neighborhood of this sort
you don't know who you're bringing in, but I suppose that doesn't
matter."

"No, it doesn't--when the bringing in is a matter of life and death,
perhaps!  As long as I am here and Mrs. Mundy is here, any one can
come in who for the moment has nowhere else to go.  Scarborough
Square has no walls around its houses.  Whoever needs us is a
neighbor.  The girl was ill."

My voice was indignant.  There are times when Selwyn makes me
absolutely furious.  He apparently takes pleasure in pretending to
have no heart.  Then, too, he was talking and acting in such contrast
to the way I had expected him to talk and act at our first meeting
alone after the past weeks, that in amazement I stared at him.  Of
self-consciousness or embarrassment there was no sign.  It had
obviously not occurred to him that his acquaintanceship with a girl
he had given no evidence of knowing when I was present, and three
days later had been seen walking with on the street, absorbed in deep
and earnest conversation, was a matter I would like to have
explained.  The density of men for a moment kept me dumb.

Selwyn has been reared in a school honest in its belief that a woman
is too fine and fair a thing to face life frankly; that personal
knowledge and understanding on her part of certain verities, certain
actualities, did the world no good and woman harm.  But the woman of
whom he thought was the sheltered, cultured, cared-for woman of his
world.  Protection of her was a man's privilege and obligation.  Of
the woman who has to do her own protecting, fight her way through,
meet the demands of those dependent on her, he personally knew
little.  It was what he needed much to know.

But because his handsome, haughty mother had lived in high-bred,
self-congratulatory ignorance of what she believed did not concern
her, and because he has for a sister, who's a step-sister, a silly,
snobby person, he is not justified in withholding from me what he
naturally withheld from them.  One can be a human being as well as a
lady.  It's this that is difficult to make him understand.

For a half-moment longer I looked at him, then away.  Apparently he
had not heard what I said.

"I should not trouble you.  I have no right, but I don't know what to
do.  I've so long come to you--"  He turned to me uncertainly.

"What is it?"  I got up from the footstool and took my seat in the
corner of the sofa.  "Why shouldn't you come to me?"

"You have enough on you now."  He bit his lip.  "It's about
Harrie--the boy must be crazy.  For the past few weeks he has kept me
close to hell.  I never imagined the time would come when I would
thank God my father was dead.  It's come now."

"What is it, Selwyn?  There is nothing you cannot tell me."  I leaned
forward, my hands twisting in my lap.  I knew more of Harrie than
Selwyn knew I knew, but because he was the one person I did know with
whom I had no measure of patience, I rarely mentioned his name.
Harrie is Selwyn's weakness, and to his faults and failings the
latter is, outwardly, at least, most inexplicably blind.  He is as
handsome as he is unprincipled and irresponsible, and his power to
fascinate is seemingly limited only by his desire to exercise it.
"What is it?" I repeated.  "What has he been doing?"

"Everything he shouldn't."  Selwyn leaned forward and looked in the
fire.  "I was wrong, I suppose, but something had to be done.  For
some time he's been drinking and gambling, and I told him it had to
stop.  I stood it as long as I could, but when I found he would
frequently come home too drunk to get in bed, and would have to be
put there by Wingfield, who would be listening for him, I had a talk
with him which it isn't pleasant to remember.  I'd had a good many
before.  God knows I've tried--"

Selwyn got up, went over to the window and stood for a moment at it
with his back to me.  Presently he left it and began to walk up and
down the room, hands in his pockets.

"I've doubtless made a mess of looking after him, but I did the best
I knew how.  Because of the eleven years' difference in our ages I've
shut my eyes to much I should have seen, and refused to hear what I
should have listened to, perhaps, but I was afraid of being too
severe, too lacking in sympathy with his youth, with the differences
in our natures, and, chiefly, because I knew he was largely the
product of his rearing.  He was only fourteen when father died, and
to the day of her death mother allowed no one to correct him.  She
indulged him beyond sense or reason; let him grow up with the idea
that whatever he wanted he could have.  Restraint and discipline were
never taught him.  As for direction, guidance, training--"  Selwyn's
shoulders shrugged.  "If I said anything to mother, cautioned her of
the mistake she was making, she thought me hard and cruel, and ended
by weeping.  After her death it was too late."

"Doesn't he work?  Does he do nothing at all?"

"Work!"  Selwyn stopped.  "He's never done a day's work in his life
that earned what he got for it.  When he refused to go back to
college mother bought him a place in Hoge and Howell's office.  They
kept him until he'd used up the capital put in the business, then got
rid of him.  I offered to put more in, but they wouldn't agree.
Later, I got John Moore to take him in, but John now refuses to renew
their contract.  He's absolutely no good.  That's a pretty hard thing
to say about one's brother, but it's true.  He's the only thing on
earth belonging to me that I've got to love, and now--"

Selwyn's voice was husky, and again he went to the window, looked
long upon the Square, and for a moment I said nothing.  I could think
of nothing to say.  From various friends of other days who came
occasionally to see me in my new home, I had heard of Harrie's wild
behavior of late, of Selwyn's patient shielding of him, of the
latter's love and loyalty and care of the boy to whom he had been far
more than a brother, and I wanted much to help him, to say something
that would hearten him, and there was nothing I could say.  Harrie
was selfish to the core; he was unprincipled and unscrupulous, and
for long I had feared that some day he would give Selwyn sore and
serious trouble.  That day had seemingly come.

"He is so young.  At twenty-three life isn't taken very seriously by
boys of Harrie's nature.  He'll come to himself after a while."  I
was fumbling for words.  "When his money is entirely gone he'll tire
of his--his way of living and behave himself."

"The lack of money doesn't disturb him.  I bought his interest in the
house for fear he'd sell it to some one else.  He's pretty nearly
gotten through with that, as with other things he inherited.  How in
the name of Heaven my father's son--"  Selwyn came over to the sofa
and sat down.  "I didn't mean to speak of this, however; of his past
behavior.  It's concerning his latest adventure that I want your
help, want you to tell me what to do."

"Why don't you smoke?  Haven't you a cigar?"  I reached for a box of
matches behind me.  "Begin at the beginning and tell me everything."

Selwyn lighted his cigar and for a while smoked in silence.  In his
face were deep lines that aged it strangely and for the first time I
noticed graying hair about his temples.   Suddenly something clutched
my heart queerly, something that cleared unnaming darkness, and
understanding was upon me.  Unsteadily my hand went out toward him.

"There is nothing you cannot ask me to do, Selwyn.  There is nothing
I would not do to help you."

He lifted my hand to his lips.  "There is no one but you I would talk
to of this.  You will not misunderstand.  If I could not come to
you--"

I drew my hand away.  "That's what a woman is for, to--to stand by
when a man needs her." My words came stammeringly.  "I heard Harrie
was away.  Where is he and why did he go?"

"He's in Texas.  He went, I think, because of a mix-up with a girl
here he had no business knowing.  There was a row, I believe."
Selwyn frowned, flicked the ashes from his cigar with impatient
movement.  "There's no use going into that.  I'm not excusing him;
there's no excuse, but so far as that's concerned there's nothing to
be done, so far as I can see.  He got involved with this girl, a
little cashier at some restaurant downtown who thought he was going
to marry her.  I knew nothing about this until a few weeks ago.  When
I heard it, I went to see the girl."

The tension of past weeks, not yet entirely unrelaxed, snapped with
such swiftness that I seemed suffocating, and, lest he hear the sob
in my throat, I got up and went over to the window and opened it a
little.  "Was she--"  I made effort to speak steadily.  "Was she the
girl who was brought in here?  The girl you were with some three
weeks ago?"

Selwyn, who had gotten up as I came back to the sofa, again sat down.
"Yes.  She was the girl."  His voice was indifferently even.  He had
obviously no suspicion of my unworthy wondering, had forgotten,
indeed, his indignation at the question I had asked him after seeing
him with her.  Other things more compelling had evidently crowded it
from memory.

"I had never seen her until the night I saw her here.  She, I learned
later, knew me, however, as Harrie's brother.  I had been told that
Harrie was infatuated with her, and, knowing there could only be
disaster unless the thing was stopped, I went to see the girl.  The
evening you saw me was the second time I had seen her.  I was trying
to make her promise to go away.  This isn't her home.  She came here
to get work."

Selwyn leaned back against the sofa, and his eyes looked into mine
with helpless questioning.  "I've been brought in contact
professionally with many types of human beings, but that girl is the
most baffling thing I've come across yet.  I can't make her out.  The
night after I saw her here I went to see her at what, I supposed, was
her home, just opposite the Hadley box-factory.  Later she told me
she didn't live there, and would not say where she lived.  All the
time I talked to her her eyes were on her hands in her lap and,
though occasionally her lips would twist, she would say nothing.  It
isn't a pleasant thing for a man to tell a girl his brother isn't a
safe person for her to go with, isn't one to be trusted, but I did
tell her.  She's an odd little thing, all fire and flame, and to talk
frankly was to be brutal, but some day she should thank me.  She
won't do it.  She will hate me always for warning her.  She knew as
well as I that marriage was out of the question, and yet she would
not promise to give Harrie up.  When you saw me I was on my way for a
second talk with her.  Meeting her on the street, I did not go to the
house, which she said she had just left, and as she would not tell me
where she was going, I had to do my talking as we walked."

"Did she promise to go away?"  I looked into the fire, and the odd,
elfish, frightened face of the girl with the baby in her arms looked
at me out of the bed of coals.  "Did she promise to go?" I repeated.

Selwyn shook his head.  "She would promise nothing.  I could get
nothing out of her, could not make her talk.  Harrie has been a
durned fool--perhaps worse, I don't know.  I tried to help her, and I
failed."

My fingers interlocked in nervous movements.  Why hadn't the girl
told Selwyn?  Why was she shielding Harrie?  Would she tell me or
Mrs. Mundy what she would not tell Selwyn?  I could send Mrs. Mundy
to her now--could break the silence which was mystifying to her.

Selwyn's hands moved as though to rid them of all further
responsibility.  "You can't do anything with people like that.  She'd
rather stay on here and take the chance of seeing Harrie than go away
from temptation.  I'm sorry for her, but I'm through."

"No, you're not through.  Perhaps we've just begun.  Maybe
there--there were reasons of which she couldn't tell you that kept
her here."  I looked at him, then away.  "The night we heard her
fall, heard her cry out; the night we brought her in here, you met
some one across the street when you went away.  Was it--Harrie?"

In Selwyn's face came flush that crimsoned it.  "Yes, it was Harrie.
I don't know what happened.  He had been drinking, but I can't
believe he struck her.  If he did--my God!"

With shuddering movement Selwyn's elbows were on his knees, his face
in his hands, and only the dropping of a coal upon the hearth broke
the stillness of the room.  Presently he got up and again went over
to the window.  When he next spoke his voice was quiet, but in it a
bitterness and weariness he made no effort to conceal.  "It was
Harrie, but he would tell me nothing about the girl.  From some one
else I learned where I could find her.  A few days after I saw her,
Harrie went away."

"Did you make him go?"

"No.  I had a talk with him during which he told me to mind my own
damned business and he would mind his."  Selwyn turned from the
window and came back to the sofa, on his lips a faint smile.  "When
he went off he didn't tell me he was going, left no address, and for
some time I didn't know where he was.  Less than three weeks ago I
had a telegram from him saying he was ill and to send money.  I wired
the money and left for El Paso on the first train I could make.  I
tried to see you before I went, but you were out."

"Why didn't you write?"

"I couldn't.  Once or twice I tried, but gave it up.  I found that
Harrie had undoubtedly been ill, but when I reached him he was up and
about.  Two hours before I took the train to return home he informed
me of his engagement to--"

"His what?"  For a moment I sat rigidly upright, in my eyes indignant
unbelief.  Then I sat back limp and relaxed, my hands, palms upward,
in my lap.

Selwyn's shoulders shrugged.  "Your amazement is feeble to what mine
was.  On the train going down he had renewed his acquaintance with a
girl and her mother he had met somewhere; here, I believe, and a week
after reaching her home the girl was engaged to him.  Her name is
Swink."

"Is she crazy?"

"No.  Her mother is crazy.  I don't blame the girl.  She's young,
pretty, silly, and doubtless in love.  Harrie has fatal facility in
making love.  This mamma person has a good deal of money; no sense,
and large social ambitions.  She's determined to get there.  If only
fools died as soon as they were born there would be hope for
humanity.  A fat fool is beyond the reach of endeavor."  With eyes
narrowed and his forehead ridged in tiny folds, Selwyn stared at me.
"Have women no sense, Danny?  Have they no understanding, no--"

"Some have.  But sense and understanding interfere with comfortable
ignorances that aren't pleasant to be interfered with.  Does this
female parent know anything about Harrie?  Did she let her daughter
become engaged before making inquiries about him?"

"She knows very well who he is.  She's visited here several times.
If told of Harrie's past dissipations, she'd soothe herself with the
usual dope of boys being boys, and men being men, and bygones being
bygones."  Selwyn's hands made gesture of disgust.  "It's a plain
case of damned fool.  She deserves what she'll get if she lets her
daughter marry Harrie.  But the daughter doesn't.  Somebody ought to
tell the child she mustn't marry him.  If there was a father or
brother the responsibility would be on them.  There's neither."

"But didn't you tell Harrie--that--that--"

"I did.  And the language I used was not learned in a kindergarten.
Among other things I told him was that if he--  Oh, it's no use going
into that.  It's easy to say what you'll do, but it isn't easy to
show your brother up as--as everything one's brother shouldn't be."

For a moment or two Selwyn continued his restless walking up and down
the room, in his face no masking of the pain and weariness of spirit
that were possessing him.  To no one else would he speak so frankly
of a family affair, and I wanted much to help him, but how?  What was
it he wanted me to do?  I could not see where I came in to do
anything.

"Is Harrie very much in love?"  Such questioning was consciously
silly, but something had to be said.  "Do you think he really loves
the girl?"

"No, I don't.  He says he does, of course, but he doesn't love
anything but himself.  Making love is a habit with him.  Our girls
know how to take the sort of stuff he talks; rather expect it, but
this little creature is obviously a literalist.  I imagine Harrie
hardly remembers how it happened.  He probably was surprised to find
himself engaged.  However, he's determined to go through with it.  A
million-dollar mother-in-law has a good deal in her favor.  But
something is the matter with the boy.  He's not himself."

"Didn't he go away about a year ago, and stay some time?  If he could
begin all over--"

"There's nowhere under heaven I wouldn't send him if he'd go with the
purpose of beginning all over, but he won't stay away.  About six
months ago he went to South America and stayed four months.  Since he
got home he's been worse than ever--reckless, defiant, and drinking
heavily.  His health has gone and most of his money; practically all
of it.  I don't know what to do.  I want to do what is right.  Tell
me what it is, Danny."

My breath was drawn in shiveringly and the frightened face of the
girl with the baby in her arms again seemed close to me.  Why was I
so halting, so afraid to speak?  Usually I reached decisions quickly,
but I couldn't get rid of the girl's eyes.  They seemed appealing for
protection.  Until I knew more about her I must say nothing.  Mrs.
Mundy must go to see her and then--

"I know I shouldn't bother you with all this."  Selwyn's voice
recalled me and the face in the fire vanished.  "But there is no one
else I can talk to.  I should as soon go to a patient in a nerve
sanitarium as to Mildred.  As a sister Mildred is not a success.
She'd first have hysterics and tell me I was brutal to poor Harrie,
and then declare that to marry a million dollars was the chance of a
lifetime for him.  One of the ten thousand things I can't understand
about women is their defense of men, their acceptance of
his--shortcomings, and their disregard of the woman who must pay the
price of the latter.  Mildred would probably not give Miss Swink a
thought."

"Harrie's sister and his mamma-in-law-to-be will doubtless find each
other congenial.  They believe in sweet ignorance and blind
acceptance for their sex.  But what do you want me to do, Selwyn?
What is it I can do?"

"I don't know."  Hand on the back of the sofa, he looked down at me.
"When things go wrong I always come to you.  When they go right you
are not nice to me.  To-day I had a letter from Harrie.  He's coming
back next week.  His fiancee and her mother are coming with him.  The
engagement is not to be announced just yet, however, and he asks me
to keep it on the quiet."

"And you've told me."

"Told you!"  Selwyn's voice was querulous.  "Don't I tell you
everything?  Mrs. Swink has friends here, strivers like herself--the
only kind of people you won't have anything to do with.  But I'm
going to ask you to call.  Perhaps you'll be able--"

"She won't want to know me.  I'll be no use to her.  I can't help her
in any way, and people like that are too keen to waste time on people
like me.  I don't give parties."

"But Kitty does.  I don't know how you'll go about it, but you'll
find a way to--to make the girl understand she mustn't marry Harrie,
or certainly not for some time.  I feel sorry for the child, but--"

"And the other girl--the little cashier-girl?  What about her?"

For a moment Selwyn did not seem to understand.  "Oh, that girl!  I
don't think there'll be any trouble from her.  She doesn't seem that
sort.  Forget her.  You can't do anything.  I've tried and failed."

"I may fail, but I haven't tried.  You dispose of her as if she
didn't count."

"What can I do?  I shouldn't have mentioned her."  Selwyn's forehead
ridged frowningly, and, taking out his watch, he looked at it, took
up his hat and coat, and held out his hand.

"Thank you for letting me talk to you.  And don't worry about the
other girl.  You can't do anything."

"Perhaps I can't, but you said just now one of the many things you
couldn't understand in women was their disregard of other women.
That Mildred would probably give the girl no thought.  The rich girl,
you meant."

"Well--"  Selwyn waited.  "I did say it, but I don't see what you're
getting at."

"That sometimes women do remember the woman who has to pay--the
price; do give a thought to the girl who is left to pay it alone.
Come to-morrow--no, not to-morrow.  Come next week.  It will take
Mrs. Mundy until then to--"

"Mrs. Mundy has nothing to do with Miss Swink.  The other girl, I
told you, can take care of herself.  You mustn't look into that side
of it.  I'll attend to that, do what is necessary.  It's only about
her you seem to be thinking."

"I'm thinking about both girls, the poor one and the rich one.  But
the rich girl has a million-dollar mother to look after her.
Good-by, and come Tuesday.  I forgot--What is the girl's name, the
little cashier-girl's?"

"Etta--Etta something."  Selwyn made effort to think, then took a
note-book out of his pocket and looked at it.  "Etta Blake is her
name.  I wish you'd forget her.  There are some things one can't talk
about, but certainly you know I will do what is right if Harrie--"
His face darkened.

"I know you will, but sometimes a girl needs a woman to do--what is
right.  She's such a little thing, and so young.  Come Tuesday
evening at eight o'clock."



CHAPTER XVII

Late that evening I had a talk with Mrs. Mundy.  I told her where Etta
Blake lived, that is, where she could find the house from which I had
seen her come with the baby in her arms, the house whose address had
been given me by Selwyn, and the next morning she was to go and see
her; but the next morning Mrs. Mundy was ill.  Acute indigestion was
what the doctor called it, but to Bettina and me it seemed a much more
dreadful thing, and for the time all thought of other matters was put
aside and held in abeyance.

With Bettina's help I tried to do Mrs. Mundy's work, but my first
breakfast was not an artistic product.  I shall never know how to cook.
I don't want to know how.  I don't like to cook.  There were many other
things I could do, however, and though Mrs. Mundy wept, being weak from
nausea, at my refusal to leave undone the usual cleaning, I did it with
pride and delight in the realization that, notwithstanding little
practice, I could do it very well.  I am a perfect dish-washer, and I
can make up beds as well as a trained nurse.


Mrs. Mundy is much better to-day and to-morrow she will be up.  Three
days in bed is for her an unusual and depressing experience, and her
sunny spirit drooped under the combined effects of over-indulgence in
certain delectable dishes, and inability to do her usual work.

"It don't make any difference how much character a person's got, it's
gone when sick-stomach is a-wrenching of 'em."  Mrs. Mundy groaned
feebly.  "I 'ain't had a spell like this since Bettina was a baby.  Pig
feet did it.  When they're fried in batter I'm worse than the thing I'm
eating.  I et three, and I never can eat more than two.  And to think
you had to do everything for Lillie Pierce, to get her off in time!
The doctor says she can't live many months.  Outside the doctor, and
Nurse White and Mr. Guard, don't anybody know she's been here.  I
reckon it ain't necessary to mention it.  People are so--"

"People-ish!  They love to stick pins in other people!  It's
tyranny--the fear of what people will think about us, say about us, do
about us!  I'm going to give myself a present when I get like Mr. Guard
and can tell some people to go--go anywhere they please, if it's where
I won't meet them.  Are you all right now and ready for your nap?"

Mrs. Mundy nodded, looked at me with something of anxiety in her eyes
as I straightened the counterpane of her spotless bed; but she said
nothing more, and, lowering the shades at the windows lest the sunlight
bother her, I went out of the room and left her to go asleep.

I am glad of the much work of these past few days.  It has kept me from
thinking too greatly of what Selwyn told me of Harrie, of the girl to
whom he is engaged, and of the little cashier-girl whose terror-filled
face is ever with me.  It has kept me, also, from dwelling too
constantly on the message Lillie Pierce sent by me to the women of
clean and happy worlds.  For herself there was no plea for pity or for
pardon, no effort at palliation or excuse.  But with strength born of
bitter knowledge she begged, demanded, that I do something to make good
women understand that worlds like hers will never pass away if men
alone are left to rid earth of them.  Ceaselessly I keep busy lest I
realize too clearly what such a message means.  I shrink from it,
appalled at what it may imply.  I am a coward.  As great a coward as
the women whose unconcern I have of late been so condemning.

Yesterday Lillie went away.  Mr. Guard took her to the mountains where
a woman he used to know in the days of his mission work will take care
of her.  He is coming back to-morrow.  The sense of comfort that his
coming means is beyond analysis or definition.  Only once or twice in a
lifetime does one meet a man of David Guard's sort, and whatever my
mistakes, whatever my impulses and lack of judgment may lead me to do,
he will never be impatient with me.  We have had several long and frank
and friendly talks since the day he brought Lillie in to Mrs. Mundy,
and if Scarborough Square did no more for me than to give me his
friendship I should be forever in its debt.

Early this morning I had a dream I have been trying all day to forget.
Through the first part of the night sleep had been impossible.  The
haunting memory of Lillie's eyes could not be shut out, and the sound
of her voice made the stillness of the room unendurable.  I tried to
read, to write, to do anything but think.  I fought, resisted; refused
to face what I did not want to see, to listen to what I did not want to
hear; and not until the dawn of a new day did I fall asleep.

In my dream Lillie was in front of me, the bit of wall-flower in her
hands, and gaspingly she cried out that something should be done.

"It can never be made clean, the world we women live in.  But there
should never be such worlds.  Good women pretend they do not know.
They do not want to know!"

"But, Lillie"--I tried to hold her twisting, writhing hands.  "There is
much that has been done.  Some women do know, and homes and
institutions and societies--"

"Homes and institutions and societies!"  She drew her hands away in
scornful gesture.  "They are poultice and plaster things.  They are for
surface sores, and the trouble is in the blood.  To cure, to cleanse,
undo the evil of our world is not in human power.  It's the root of the
tree that must be killed.  You can cut off its top for a thousand years
and it will come back again.  Women have got to go deeper than that and
make men know that they'll be damned the same as we if they sin the
same as we do."

She was slipping from me and I tried to hold her back.  "Tell me what
women must do!  Tell me where they fail!"  In terror I caught her
hands.  "Do not go until you tell me--"

In misty grayness she was vanishing.  "When women make their sons know
there is no less of sin and shame in sinful, shameful lives for them
than for their sisters our worlds will pass away.  You've got to stop
the evil at the source.  Men don't do what women won't stand for.  Tell
women that--"

She was gone and, waking, I found I was sitting up in bed, my hands
outstretched.


I had a note from Selwyn to-day telling me the Swinks had come and are
at the Melbourne.  Harrie is not well.


Kitty telephoned me late yesterday afternoon that Billie had an
engagement for a club dinner of some sort, and she had appendicitis, or
something that felt like it, and wouldn't I please come up and have
supper with her in her sitting-room.  There was something she wanted to
talk to me about.

Kitty has a remarkable voice.  It is capable of every variation of
appeal.  I went.  Mrs. Crimm came in to stay with Mrs. Mundy.

The appendicitis possibility was not disturbing, and in a very lovely
pink velvet negligee, with cap and slippers and stockings to match,
Kitty was waiting for me.  She is peculiarly skilful in the settings
she arranges for her pretty self, and as I looked at her they seemed
far-away things, the world of Scarborough Square, with its daily
struggle for daily bread, and the world of Lillie Pierce, with its evil
and polluting life, and the world of the little cashier-girl with its
temptations and denials.  I tried to put them from me.  The evening was
to be Kitty's.  She took her luxuries as the birds of the air take
light and sunshine.  Unearned, they seemed a right.

She did not like the dress I had on.  It's a perfectly good dress.

"I'll certainly be glad when you stop wearing black.  It's too severe
for you; that is, black crepe de chine is.  You're too tall and slender
for it, though it gives you a certain distinction.  Did Selwyn send you
those violets?"

"He did.  Where's your pain?  What did the doctor say was the matter?"

"I telephoned him not to come.  I haven't got any pain.  It's gone.  I
just wanted you by myself."  Kitty settled herself more comfortably in
her cushion-filled chair and stretched her feet on the stool in front
of her.  "Why didn't you come to Grace Peterson's luncheon yesterday?"

"I had something else more important to do.  Grace knew I wasn't coming
when she asked me.  Society and Scarborough Square can't be served at
the same time."  I smiled.  "During the days of apprenticeship only a
half-hour is allowed for lunch.  Did you have a good time?"

"Of course I didn't.  Who does with an anxious hostess?  One of the
guests was an out-of-town person who used to know you well.  She wanted
to hear all about you and everybody told her something different.  All
that's necessary is to mention your name and--"

"The play's begun.  To be an inexhaustible subject of chatter is to
serve a purpose in life.  I'd prefer a nobler one, still--  Who was my
inquiring friend?"

"I've forgotten her name.  She was the most miserable-looking woman I
ever saw.  On any one else her clothes would have been stunning.  Don't
think she and her husband hit it off very well.  There's another lady
he finds more entertaining than she is, and she hasn't the nerve to
tell him to quit it or go to Ballyhack.  Women make me tired!"

"They tire men, also.  A woman who accepts insult is hardly apt to be
interesting.  Tell me about the luncheon.  Who was at it?"

"Same old bunch.  Grace left out nothing that could be brought in.
Most of the entertaining nowadays is a game of show-down, regular
exhibitions of lace and silver and food and flowers and china and
glass, and gorgeous gowns and stupid people.  I'm getting sick of them."

"Why don't you start a new kind?  You might have your butler hand a
note to each of your guests on arriving, stating that all the things
other people had for their tables you had for yours, but only what was
necessary would be used.  Then you might have a good time.  It's
difficult to talk down to an excess of anything."

"Wish I had the nerve to do it!"  Kitty again changed her position;
fixed more comfortably the pink-lined, embroidered pillows at her back,
and looked at me uncertainly.  I waited.  Presently she leaned toward
me.

"People are talking about you, Danny.  You won't mind if I tell you?"
Her blue eyes, greatly troubled, looked into mine, then away, and her
hand slipped into my hand and held it tightly.  "Sometimes I hate
people!  They are so mean, so nasty!"

"What are they saying?"  I straightened the slender fingers curled
about mine and stroked them.  "Only dead people aren't talked about.
What is being said about me?"

"Horrid things--not to me, of course.  They'd better not be!  But--Mrs.
Herbert came to see me yesterday afternoon.  She wasn't at the luncheon
and Grace got the first rap, but most of her hatefulness she took out
on you.  She's worse than a germ disease.  I always feel I ought to be
disinfected after I see her.  If she were a leper she wouldn't be
allowed at large, and she's much more deadly.  People like that ought
to be locked up."

"What did she tell you about me?"  I smiled in Kitty's flushed face,
smiled also at the remembrance of Alice Herbert's would-be cut some
time ago, but I did not mention it.  "You oughtn't to be so hard on
her.  She's crazy."

"But crazy people are dangerous.  A mosquito can kill a king, and a
king has to be careful about mosquitoes.  I'm more afraid of people
than I am of insects.  If you could only label them--"

"People label themselves.  What did Alice Herbert say about me?"

"First, of course, how strange it was that you should care to live in
Scarborough Square, especially as you were a person who held yourself
so aloof from--"

"People like her.  I do.  What else did she say?"

"That you met all sorts of people, had all sorts to come and see you.
A trained nurse who is with a sick friend of her aunt's told her she'd
heard you let a--let a bad woman come in your house."  Kitty's voice
trailed huskily.  "She said it would ruin you if things like that got
out.  I told her it was a lie--it wasn't so."

"It was so."  I held Kitty's eyes, horror-filled and unbelieving.  "She
stayed with Mrs. Mundy a week.  Yesterday she went away to the
mountains--to die."

For a moment longer Kitty stared at me, and in her face crept deep and
crimson color.  "You mean--that you let a--a woman like that come in
your house and stay a week?  Mean--"


For a long time we sat by the fire in Kitty's sitting-room with its
rose-colored hangings, its mellow furnishings, its soft burning logs on
their brass andirons, its elusive fragrance of fresh flowers, and
unsparingly I told her what all women should know.  In the twilight
that of which I talked made pictures come and go that gave her
understanding never glimpsed before, and, slipping on her knees, she
buried her face, shudderingly, in my lap.

"Is it I, Danny?  Is it women like me who could do something and
don't?" she said, after a long, long while.  "Oh, Danny, is it I?"

[Illustration:  "Is it I, Danny?  Is it women like me who could do
something and don't?"]

"It is all of us."  My fingers smoothed the beautiful brown hair.
"Every woman of to-day who thinks there's a halo on her head ought to
take it off and look at it.  She wouldn't see much.  We like halos.  We
imagine we deserve them.  And we like the pretty speeches which have
spoiled us.  What we need is plain truth, Kitty.  We need to see
without confusion.  Sometimes I wonder if we are not the colossal
failure of life--we women who have hardly begun to use the power God
put in our hands when He made us the mothers of sons and daughters--"

"But we've only been educated such a little while--most of us aren't
educated yet.  I'm not." Her arms on my knees, Kitty looked up in my
face, in hers the dawning light of vision long delayed.  "Men haven't
wanted us to think.  They want to think for us."

"But ours is the first chance at starting men to thinking right.
Through babyhood and boyhood they are ours.  If all women could
understand--"

"All women haven't got anything to understand with even if they wanted
to understand.  Some who have sense don't want responsibility."  Kitty
bit her lip.  "I haven't wanted it.  It's so much easier not--not to
have it.  And now--now you've put it on me."

"When women know, they will not shirk.  So many of us are children yet.
We've got to grow up."  Stooping, I kissed her.  "In Scarborough Square
I've learned to see it's a pretty wasteful world I've lived in.  And
life is short, Kitty.  There's not a moment of it to be wasted."



CHAPTER XVIII

Mrs. Mundy cannot find Etta Blake.  She went this morning to the
house just opposite the box-factory, but no one is living there.  A
"For Rent" sign is on it.  After trying, without success, to find
from the families who live in the neighborhood where the people who
once occupied the house have gone, she went to the agent, but from
him also she could learn nothing.

"They were named Banch.  A man and his wife and three children lived
in the house, but where they've moved nobody could tell me, or give
me a thing to go on.  They went away between sun-up and sun-down and
no one knows where."  Mrs. Mundy, who had come to my sitting-room to
make report, before taking off her coat and hat, sat down in a chair
near the desk at which I had been writing, and smoothed the fingers
of her gloves with careful precision.  She was disappointed and
distressed that she had so little to tell me.

"I couldn't find a soul who'd ever heard of a girl named Etta Blake.
Poor people are generally sociable and know everybody in the
neighborhood, but didn't anybody know her.  Mr. Parke, the agent,
said the man paid his rent regular and he was sorry to lose him as a
tenant, but he didn't know where he'd gone.  If his wife took
boarders he didn't know anything about it.  The girl might have
rented a room--"  Mrs. Mundy hesitated, looked at me uncertainly.
"Shall I ask Mr. Crimm to--to help me find her?  If she's in town
he'd soon know where."

Something in her voice sent the blood to my face.  "You mean--oh no,
you cannot, do not mean--"

"I don't know.  It's usually the end.  The only one they have to come
to when a man like Mr. Thorne's brother makes a girl lose her head
about him.  After he tires of her, or when he's afraid there may be
trouble, there's apt to be a row and he quits.  When he's gone the
girl generally ends--down there."  Mrs. Mundy's hand made movement
over her shoulder.  "Respectable people don't want to have anything
to do with girls like that, and it's hard for them to get work.
After a while they give up and go to what's the only place some of
them have to go to.  Would you mind if I ask Mr. Crimm?"

I shook my head.  "No, I would not mind."

Going over to a window, I opened it, and as the sunshine fell upon my
face it seemed impossible that such things as Mrs. Mundy feared were
true.  But I knew now they were true, and shiveringly I twisted my
hands within my arms as if to warm my heart, which was cold with a
nameless something it was difficult to define.  On one side of me the
little, elfish creature with her frightened eyes and short, curly
hair seemed standing; on the other, the girl to whom Harrie was
engaged.  I could not help them.  Could not help Selwyn.  Could help
no one!  If David Guard--at thought of him the clutch at my throat
lessened.  David Guard could help them.  He had promised to come
whenever I sent for him, and to him I could talk as to no one else on
earth.

"I will see Mr. Crimm to-night.  It won't be new to him--the finding
of a girl who's disappeared.  He's found too many.  I'll be careful
what I tell him, and Mr. Thorne needn't worry."  Mrs. Mundy got up.
"Didn't you say he was coming this afternoon?"

"He is coming to-night.  I am going out this afternoon."

Mrs. Mundy walked slowly to the door.  She would have enjoyed talking
longer, but I could not talk.  A sense of involvement with things
that frightened and repelled, with things of which I had hitherto
been irresponsibly ignorant, was bewildering me and I wanted to be
alone.  I knew I was a coward, but there was no special need of her
knowing it.

I had been honest in thinking I wanted to know all sorts of people,
to see myself, and women like me, from the viewpoint of those denied
my opportunities, but it had not occurred to me as a possibility of
Scarborough Square that I should come in contact with any of the
women of Lillie Pierce's world.   People like that had hardly seemed
the human beings other people were.  And now--

"Tell Mr. Crimm whatever you think best."  My back was to Mrs. Mundy.
"The girl is in trouble.  You must see her.  Bring her here if you
cannot go to her, and try and learn her side of the story.  It's an
old one, perhaps, but it isn't fair that--"

"She should be shoved into hell and the lid shut down to keep her in,
and the man let alone to go where he pleases.  It isn't fair, but
it's the world's way, and always will be lessen women learn some
things they ought to know.  They wouldn't stand for some of the
things that go on if they understood them, but they don't understand.
They've been tongue-tied and hand-tied so long, they haven't taken in
yet they've got to do their own untying."

"It's a pretty lonely job--and a pretty hard one."  I turned from the
window.  Kitty's automobile had stopped in front of the house.  I was
to go in it to call on Mrs. and Miss Swink.  Kitty had insisted that
I use it.

I dressed quickly, putting on my best garments, but as I got into the
car something of the old protest at having to do what I did not want
to do, to go where I did not want to go, came over me, and I was
conscious of childish irritability.  I did not care to know the
Swinks.  Eternity wouldn't be long enough, and certainly time wasn't
to waste on people like that, and yet because Selwyn had asked me to
call I was doing it.  All men are alike.  When they don't know how to
do a thing that's got to be done, they tell a woman to do it.  It was
not my business to tell this Swink person and her daughter that they
should be careful concerning matrimonial alliances.  I would agree
with them that such intimation on my part was presumptuous and I had
no intention of making it.  What I was going to do I did not know,
but it was necessary to see them, talk with them before any
suggestions could be made to Selwyn as to a tactful handling of an
embarrassing situation; and in obedience to this primary requisite I
was calling.

In their private parlor at the Melbourne, pompously furnished, and
bare of all things that make a room reflective of personality, Mrs.
Swink and her daughter were awaiting me on my arrival, and the moment
I met the former all the perversity of which I am possessed rose up
within me, and for the latter I was conscious of sympathy, based on
nothing save intuitive antipathy to her mother.  Inwardly I warned
myself to behave, but I wasn't sure I was going to do it.

"Oh, how do you do!"  Mrs. Swink, a fat, florid, frizzy person,
waddled toward me with out-stretched and bejeweled hands, and took
mine in hers.  "Mr. Thorne told us you would certainly call, and
we've been waiting for you ever since he told us.  Charmed to meet
you!  This is my daughter Madeleine.  Where's Madeleine?"  She turned
her short, red neck, bound with velvet, and looked behind her.  "Oh,
here she is!  Madeleine, this is Miss Wreath.  You know all about
Miss Wreath, who's gone to such a queer place to live.  Harrie told
us."  Two sharp little eyes sunk in nests of embracing flesh winked
confidentially at first me and then her daughter.  "Yes, indeed, we
know all about you.  Sit down.  Madeleine, push a chair up for Miss
Wreath."

"Heath, mother!"  The girl called Madeleine turned her pretty,
dissatisfied face toward her mother and then looked at me.  "She
never gets names right.  She just hits at them and says the first
thing that comes to her mind."  Pulling a large chair close to a
table, on which was a vase of American Beauty roses, she waited for
me to take it, then went over to the window and sat beside it.

"Well, everybody's got a mental weakness."  Upright in a
blue-brocaded chair, elbows on its gilt arms, mother Swink surveyed
me with scrutinizing calculation, and as she appraised I appraised
also.  Full-bosomed of body and short of leg, she looked close kin to
a frog in her tight-fitting purple gown with its iridescent
trimmings, and low-cut neck; and from her silver-buckled slippers to
the crimped and russet-colored transformation on her head, which had
slipped somewhat to one side, my eyes went up and then went down, and
I knew if Harrie ever married her daughter his punishment would begin
on earth.

"Yes, indeed, everybody's got a mental weakness, and I'm thankful
mine's no worse than forgetting names.   I ought to remember yours,
though.  It makes you think of funerals and weddings and things like
that.  I love names which--"

"Her name is Heath, mother!  _Not_ Wreath."

"Oh yes--of course!  This certainly is a beautiful day.  If El Paso
hadn't been so far away we'd have brought one of our cars with us,
but I don't see any sense spending all that money when you can hire
cars so cheap by the hour.  Madeleine don't like to ride in hired
cars.  I like any kind of car."

So far I had had no opportunity of doing more than bend my head, a
chance to speak not having been permitted me, but, at her mother's
pause for breath, the girl at the window looked down upon the street
and then turned her face toward me.  "That's a pretty car you came
in.  Can you drive it yourself?"

"I have no car.  That's Kitty's--I mean Mrs. McBryde's.  That reminds
me.  I have a message from her.  She could not call this afternoon,
but she asks me to say she hopes you can both come in Thursday
afternoon and have tea with her.  She is always at home on Thursdays
and--"

"Yes, indeed; we'll be glad to come."  Mrs. Swink took up Kitty's
card, which had been sent up with mine, and looked at it through her
lorgnette, suspended around her neck by a chain studded with
amethysts, large and small.  "We'll come with pleasure.  Won't we,
Madeleine?  Shall we write and tell her?"

"Of course not, mother.  Didn't you just hear Miss Heath say it was
her regular 'at home' day?  You don't write notes for things like
that."  Miss Swink's eyes again turned in my direction.  "I'm much
obliged, but I don't think I can come.  I've an engagement for
Thursday."

"If it's with Harrie, he won't mind waiting awhile."  With
unconcealed eagerness Mrs. Swink twisted herself in her tight and
too-embracing chair, for the moment forgetting, seemingly, that I was
a hearing person.  "You can't afford to miss a chance like that.
You'll meet the best people.  Harrie can stay to dinner.  I'll get
tickets for the theatre."

"He won't come to dinner.  I asked him.  Says he's sick."  The girl's
lips curled slightly.  "He's always sick when--"

"Madeleine!"  The sudden change in Mrs. Swink's voice was beyond
belief, and with a shrug of her shoulders the girl again looked out
of the window.  I was making discoveries with unexpected rapidity,
discoveries that were filling me with speculation and promising
conclusions that were at variance with Selwyn's, and for a moment the
uncomfortable silence, following the sharp ejaculation, was unbroken
by me in the realization of my unwilling participation in a bit of
family revelation, and also by inability to think of anything to say.

"I hope you can come."  My tone was but feebly urging.  "Everybody
has such a good time at Kitty's.  I hope, too, you are going to like
our city."  I looked from mother to daughter as I uttered the usual
formulas for strangers.  "This is not your first visit?"

"Oh no--we've been here several times before.  We like it very much.
It's so distinguay and all that."  Mrs. Swink's hands went to her
head and she patted her transformation, but failed to straighten it.
"I was born in Alabama, and Mr. Swink in Missouri, and Madeleine in
Texas, so we feel kin to all Southerners and at home anywhere in the
South; but I like this city best of any in it.  Some day, I reckon,
we'll live here."  Her voice was significant and again she looked at
her daughter, but her daughter did not look at her.

"We think it a very nice city, but I suppose I'd love any place in
which I had to live.  That is, I'd try to.  You have old friends
here, I believe, and of course you'll make new ones."  My voice was
even less affirmative than interrogatory.  I hardly knew what I was
saying.  I was thinking of something else.

"Yes, indeed.  That's what we expect to do.  We don't know a great
many people here.  Mrs. Hadden Cressy and I are old friends, but we
don't see much of each other.  I suppose you know the Cressys?"

"I know of them very well.  They are among our most valuable people.
I have often wanted to know Mr. and Mrs. Cressy.  Their son, Tom, I
used to see often as a boy, but of late I rarely come across him.
What's become of him?  He was one of the nicest boys I ever knew."

Mrs. Swink's hands made expressive gesture, but the girl at the
window gave no sign of hearing me.  In her face, however, I saw color
creep, saw also that she bit her lips.

"Nobody knows what he does with himself."  Mrs. Swink sighed.  "After
all the money his father spent on his education, and after everybody
took him up, he dropped out of society and stuck at his business as
if he didn't have a cent in the world.  He hasn't any ambition.  He
could go with the most fashionable people in town, if his parents
can't, but he won't do it.  He must be a great disappointment to his
parents."

With a slow movement of her shoulders, Miss Swink turned and looked
at her mother, in her eyes that which made me sit up.  What the look
implied I was unable altogether to understand, but I could venture a
guess at it, and on the venture I spoke:

"He's the pride of their life, I've been told.  Any parents would be
proud of such a son--that is, if they were the kind of parents a son
could be proud of.  I'd like to see Tom.  I used to be very fond of
him when he was a boy.  He lived just back of us and he and Kitty
were great friends as children.  I'm afraid he's forgotten me,
however."

"No, he hasn't--"  Miss Swink stopped as abruptly as she began, but
the color that had crept into her face at mention of Tom Cressy's
name now crimsoned it, and again she turned her head away.  In her
eyes, however, I had caught the gratitude flashed to me, and quickly
I decided I must see her alone, talk to her alone; and so absorbed
was I in wondering how I could do it that only vaguely did I hear
Mrs. Swink, who was telling me of various engagements already made,
of the difficulty of getting in what had to be gotten in between
being manicured and marcelled and massaged and chiropodized and
tailored and dress-makered, and had she not been so interested in the
telling she would have discovered I was not at all interested in the
hearing.  She did not discover.

When for the third time I saw Miss Swink glance at the watch upon her
wrist, and then out of the window, I knew she was waiting for some
one to pass.  It wasn't Harrie.  There was no necessity for furtive
watching for Harrie to pass, The latter's plaint of sickness was
evidently not convincing to the girl.  I looked at the clock on the
mantel.  I had been in the room twenty-seven minutes, but I didn't
agree with Selwyn that Miss Swink was in love with his brother.  Her
engagement to him was due, I imagined, not so much to her literalness
as to her mother's management.  An unholy desire to demonstrate that
the latter was not of a scientific kind possessed me, and quickly my
mind worked.



CHAPTER XIX

With eyes apparently on Mrs. Swink, I missed no movement of her
daughter, and when presently I saw her put her elbow on the
window-sill and wipe her lips with her handkerchief, and then make
movement as if to brush something away, I got up, made effort to say
good-by unhurriedly to her mother, and went over to the girl.  As I
held out my hand I glanced out of the window.  Exactly opposite, and
looking up at it, was Tom Cressy, his handkerchief to his lips.

I took the hand she held toward me in both of mine and something in
her eyes, something both mutinous and pleading, filled me with
sympathy I should not have felt, perhaps.  She was only nineteen, and
her mother was obviously trying to make her marry Harrie when she
probably loved Tom.  It was all so weak and so wicked, so sordid and
stupid, that I felt like Kitty when with Alice Herbert.  I needed
disinfecting.  I would have to get away before I said things I
shouldn't.

"Your mother says the masseuse comes this afternoon.  Can't you take
a drive with me while she is here?"  I turned to Mrs. Swink.  "You
will not mind if she leaves you for a little while?  It is too lovely
to stay indoors."

"No, indeed, I won't mind.  I'll be glad to have her go if she'll do
it.  Lately she won't do anything but sit at that window."  Mrs.
Swink, who had gotten out of her chair with difficulty, turned to her
daughter, blinking her little, near-sighted eyes at her as if she
were beyond all human understanding; and the fretfulness of her tone
she made no effort to control.  "She's that restless and hard to
please and hard to interest in anything that she nearly wears me out.
Girls didn't do like that when I was young.  If I'd had a hundredth
part of what she's got--"

"What's the use of having things you don't want?"  Miss Swink's
shoulders made resentful movement; then she turned to me, for a
moment hesitated.

"Thank you very much for asking me, but I can't go this afternoon.  I
need exercise.  If I don't walk a great deal I--"

"I'd much rather walk.  I love to walk."  I must know why she was
meeting Tom without her mother's knowledge.  "I'll send the car home
and we'll walk together.  It isn't often I have an afternoon without
something that must be done in it.  I'll wait here while you get your
hat and coat."

Into the girl's face came flush that spread slowly to the temples,
and uncertainly she looked at me.  Steadily my eyes held hers and
after half a moment she turned and went out of the room.  Coming
back, she followed me into the hall and to the elevator, but, eyes on
the gloves she was fastening, she said nothing until we reached the
street.  On the corner opposite us Tom Cressy was standing in the
doorway of a cigar-shop, and as he saw the car dismissed, saw us
cross the street and come toward him, into his honest, if not
handsome, face came puzzled incredulity.  Not until in front of him
did I give evidence of seeing him; then I stopped.

"Why, Tom Cressy!"  I held out my hand and, as he took it, I noticed
the one holding his hat was not entirely steady.  "It's ages since
I've seen you, Tom.  You know Miss Swink, I believe." I pretended not
to see their formal and somewhat frightened bow.  "We're going to
walk.  Can't you go with us?  Come on.  We're going to the park."

Slipping my arm through Madeleine's, I caught step, and on the other
side of her Tom did likewise, hands in his pockets, and into both
faces came glow that illuminated them and enlightened me.  At the end
of our walk I would know pretty well what I wanted to know.

For an hour and a half we walked briskly and talked along lines
usually self-revealing; and by the time the hotel was again reached I
was quite satisfied concerning a complicated situation that needed
skilful steering to avoid a dangerous and disastrous smash-up.

"Can't I go home with you, Miss Dandridge?"  Tom twisted his hat
nervously.  "It's too late for you to go so far by yourself.  Please
let me go with you."

"Of course you're going with me.  After dark I'm only a baby person
and I like a nice, big man with me!  Good-by, dear."  I turned to
Madeleine.  "Some afternoon, if your mother does not mind, come down
and have tea with me in Scarborough Square.  Tom can come, too, and
bring you home.  I'll telephone you one day next week."

With a nod I walked away, but not before I saw a flash of joy pass
between two faces which were raised to each other, and, guiltily, I
wondered if I had again done something I shouldn't.  I was always
doing it.  Hurrying on with Tom, I talked of many things, but at my
door I turned to him and held out my hand.

"I haven't any right to ask you, but I'm going to ask you.  You care
for each other and something is the matter.  What is it, Tom?"

"Matter!"  Indignation, wrathful and righteous, flared in face and
voice, and Tom's clutch of my hand was more fervid than considerate.
"Her mother's the matter.  She's batty on the subject of society and
position, and first families, and fashion, and rot of that sort--all
right in its way, but not her way.  I'm not aristocratic enough for
her.  She doesn't want her daughter to marry me because we haven't
any family brush and coats of arms, and don't belong to the inside
set, and marrying me wouldn't give Madeleine what she wants her to
have.  Madeleine don't want it.  She wants--"

"You.  I understand.  Does Mrs. Swink want her to marry some one
else?"  I hated my pretended ignorance, but I must know just what he
knew.  Know if Madeleine had told him of her engagement.  "Who is it
she wants her to marry?"

"Harrie Thorne.  If she knew what others knew of Harrie--"  Tom bit
his lip.  "I don't want to go into that, however.  Not my business.
But if she was told she wouldn't believe.  She don't want to believe.
She wants her daughter to marry what Harrie can give her.  An honored
name which he has dishonored."

Tom took out his handkerchief and wiped his forehead, in his eyes
boyish incomprehension of incomprehensible things.  "Men are wicked,
Miss Dandridge, but they wouldn't do what some women do.  They've got
it in their hands to do a lot they don't do--women have--and if it
wasn't for some of them, for those we believe in, the world would go
smash in certain ways as far as men are concerned.  What's the use of
keeping straight and living clean when plenty of women don't seem to
care, or certainly don't ask too much about a man if he's got money,
or anything else they want for their daughters?  Mrs. Swink is
determined that Madeleine shall marry Harrie."

"But has Madeleine no will of her own?  If she permits her mother to
dispose of her--"

"She's been disposed of since she was a baby, and resistance wears
thin after a while, I suppose."  The tips of Tom's right shoe made a
small circle on the brick pavement, but presently he looked up at me.
"It's pretty queer for me to be telling things like this, but you
always did understand a fellow.  I've often wished I could come and
see you.  Madeleine and I were engaged once."

"Why aren't you engaged now?  Tell me anything you want.  What
happened?"

"Mother Swink happened!"  Tom's words came jerkily.  "She wouldn't
even let me talk to her; made a devil of a row, dragged Madeleine all
around Europe, wouldn't let her have a letter from me--sent them back
herself--and told Madeleine if she married me she would never speak
to me."

"That ought to have given you courage.  Why didn't you marry
Madeleine?"

"I couldn't get hold of her.  And, besides, she got so worked up that
she went all to pieces, and I--I wasn't patient enough, I guess.
When they came back I managed to see her once, but we both got mad
and said things we shouldn't, and she gave me up.  I heard Harrie had
been giving her a rush in El Paso, and if Mrs. Swink can manage it
she'll have Madeleine engaged to him before he knows how it happened."

"Are you able to marry, Tom?  Is there any reason why you shouldn't?"

"No, there isn't." His head went up.  "I can't give her what her
mother can, but I can take care of her all right.  On the first of
next May father makes me general manager of the business.  He hasn't
spared me because I was his son, and he wouldn't give me the place
until I'd earned it, but I'll get it pretty soon now.  I wish you
knew my father, Miss Dandridge.  There isn't any sort of search-light
he can't stand, and it isn't his and mother's fault if I can't stand
them, also."

"I don't think they'd be uneasy if any were to be turned on.  I
wouldn't.  Good night, Tom.  Be careful how you meet Madeleine.  How
many times have you seen her since she got here?"

"Just once before this afternoon."  His face flushed.  "Something is
the matter.  She's not like herself.  Her mother's up to something."

"When you want to see her, come down here and see me.  Don't meet on
corners or in the park, and--and the next time you're engaged don't
let a girl think you're going to wait indefinitely.  If she isn't
willing to marry you and go to Pungo if necessary, she isn't the girl
for you to marry.  Good night."

At the door I turned.  Tom was still standing at the foot of the
steps, staring at me, in his face slow-dawning understanding.



CHAPTER XX

As Selwyn and David Guard shook hands, eagerness of desire must have
been in my face, for Selwyn, turning, seemed puzzled by what he saw.
Going into the room adjoining my sitting-room, I left them alone for
a few moments, and when I came back I was careful to keep out of my
eyes that which as yet it was not wise that they should tell.  I have
long since learned a man must not be hurried.  Certainly not a man of
Selwyn's type.

Sitting down in a corner of the sofa, I nodded to the men to sit down
also, but that which they had been discussing while I was out of the
room still held, and, returning to it, they stood awhile longer, one
on either side of the mantelpiece, and, hands in my lap, I watched
them with hope in my heart of which they did not dream.

They are strangely contrasting--Selwyn and David Guard.  That is, so
far as outward and physical appearance is concerned.  But of certain
inward sympathies, certain personal standards of life, certain
intellectual acceptances and rejections, they have far more in common
than they imagine, and to find this basis upon which friendship might
take root is a desire that sprang into life upon seeing them
together.  Should they ever be friends, they would be forever
friends.  Of that I am very sure.

By Selwyn's side David Guard seemed smaller, frailer, less robust
than ever, yet about him was no hint of feebleness, and his radiation
of quiet force was not lessened by Selwyn's strength.  His clothes
were shabbier than ever, his cravat even less secure than usual, and
the long lock of hair that fell at times across his forehead was
grayer than formerly, I thought, but no externals could dim the
consciousness that he was a man to be reckoned with.

Opposite him Selwyn seemed the embodiment of all he lacked.  The
well-being of his body, the quiet excellence of his clothes, the
unconscious confidence, born of ability and abundance, the security
of established position, marked him a man to whom the gods have been
good.  But the gods mock all men.  In Selwyn's eyes was search for
something not yet found.  In David Guard's the peace that comes of
finding.  I had hardly thought of their knowing each other.
To-night, quite by accident, they had met.  Selwyn had come according
to agreement.  David Guard, to tell me of a case in which he was
interested.  He had come before Selwyn, and at the latter's entrance
had started to go.  I would not let him go.  If they could be made
friends--God!--what a power they could be!

They were discussing the war.  The afternoon's reports had been
somewhat more ghastly than usual.

"The twentieth century obviously doesn't propose to be outdone by any
other period of history, recorded or unrecorded."  One hand in his
pocket, an elbow on the mantel-shelf, Selwyn looked at David Guard.
"In the quarter of a million years in which man, or what we term man,
has presumably lived on this particular planet, nothing so far has
been discovered, I believe, which tells of such abominations as are
taking place to-day.  It's an interesting epoch from the standpoint
of man's advance in scientific barbarism."

"It deepens, certainly, our respect for our primeval ancestors."
David Guard smiled grimly.  "I understand there are still
tree-dwellers in certain parts of Australia who knock one another in
the head when it so pleases them to do.  For the settlement of
difficulties their methods require much less effort and trouble than
ours.  On the whole, I prefer their manner of fighting.  Each side
can see what the other's about."

"So do I."  Curled up in the corner of the sofa, I had not intended
to speak.  A woman's opinions on war don't interest men.  "The
fundamental instinct in man to fight may require a few thousand more
years to yield to the advisability of settling differences around a
table in a council-chamber, but one can't tell.  Much less time may
be necessary.  The tree-dwellers and the cave-dwellers and the
tent-dwellers spent most of their time scrapping.  We do have
intervals of peace in which to get ready to fight again."

"So did they, though their intervals were shorter, perhaps, owing to
their simpler methods of attack."  Selwyn laughed.  "In their day,
warfare being largely a personal or tribal affair, little time was
necessary for preparation.  With us the whole machinery of government
is needed to murder and maim and devastate and ruin.  Civilization
and science and education have complicated pretty hopelessly the
adjustments of disputes, the taking of territory, and the acceptance
of opposing ideals.  The biggest artillery and the best brains for
butchery at present are having their day.  Humanity in the making has
its discouraging side."

"It has!"  David Guard's voice was emphatic, though he, too, laughed.
"If humanity made claim to being a finished product, there'd be
justification for more than discouragement.  It makes no such claim.
Fists and clubs, and slingshots and battle-axes, are handier weapons
than guns and cannon, and armored air-ships and under-sea craft, but
in the days of the former using, but one kind of army was sent out to
fight.  To-day we send out two."

"Two?"  Selwyn looked puzzled.  "What two?"

"One to undo, as far as possible, the work of the other.  The second
army, not the first, is the test of humanity's advance; the army that
tries to keep life in the man the other army has tried to kill, to
give back what has been taken away, to help what has been hurt, to
feed what has been starved, to clothe what is made naked, to build up
what has been broken down.  Each country that to-day gives fight,
equips and trains and sends out two contrasting armies.  They work
together, but with opposing purposes.  The second army--"

"Has a good many women in it.  But it's so stupid, so wicked and
wasteful, to fight over things that are rarely finally settled by
fighting.  It's bad business!"  My hands twisted shiveringly in my
lap.  "Do you suppose the time will ever come when man will see it's
the animal's way of getting what he wants, of keeping others from
getting what he's got, of settling difficulties and defending points
of view?  Do you think he'll ever find a better way?"

"In a few thousand years--yes," Selwyn again smiled and, changing his
position, stood with his back to the fire.  "When we have the same
code for nations as for individuals, the same insistence that what's
wrong in and punishable for a man is wrong in and punishable for his
country, or when we cease to think of ourselves as group people and
remember we are but parts of a whole, we may cease to be fighting
animals.  Not until then, perhaps.  Personally, I think war is a good
thing every now and then.  That is, in the present state of our
undevelopment."

"So do I."  David Guard's shoulders made energetic movement.  "War
brings out every evil passion of which man is possessed, but it has
its redemptive side.  It clears away befogging sophistries, delivers
from deadening indulgences and indifferences; enables us to see
ourselves, our manner of life, our methods of government, our
obligations and our injustices, in perspective that reveals what
could, perhaps, be grasped in no other way.  It brings about
readjustments and reaccountings, and puts into operation new forces
of life, new conceptions of duty.  It's a frightful way of making man
get a firmer grip on certain essential realizations, of taking in
more definitely the high purpose of his destiny, but at times there
seems no other way.  I pray God we may keep out of this, but if it
means a stand for human rights--"

"We'll all enlist!"  The faces of the men before me were sober, and
quick fear made my voice unsteady.  "War may have its redemptive
side; it may at times be necessary for the preservation of honor and
the maintenance of principle, but that's because, I imagine, of our
unpreparedness as human beings to--to be the right sort of human
beings.  When we are there'll be no time to kill one another.  We'll
need it all to help each other.  I hate war as few hate it, perhaps,
but should it come to us I'm as ready to join my army as you to join
yours."  I got up and took the hand David Guard was holding out to
me.  "I wish you didn't have to go.  Must you?"

"Must.  Got an engagement at nine-fifteen.  I'll see you before the
week is out about Clara Rudd.  Good night."  He turned to Selwyn,
shook hands, and was gone.

In the corner of the sofa I again sat down, and Selwyn, turning off
the light in the lamp behind me, took a chair and drew it close to
me.  Anxiety he made no effort to control was in his eyes.

"Well--have you anything to tell me?"

"Not as much as I hoped.  Mrs. Mundy hasn't been able to find Etta
Blake yet.  Until--"

"Etta Blake?"  Selwyn's tone was groping.  "Oh, the little
cashier-girl.  I didn't expect you to tell anything of her.  I wish
you'd put her out of your mind."  His face darkened.

"I can't.  She seems to be in no one else's.  But we won't talk of
her to-night.  I saw the Swinks this afternoon."

"I know you did.  Mrs. Swink telephoned Harrie to-night.  Did my
appraisement approach correctness?"

"Of Mrs. Swink, yes.  She's impossible.  Most fat fools are.  They're
like feather beds.  You could stamp on them, but you couldn't get rid
of the fool-ness.  It would just be in another place.  She told me
she was manicured on Mondays, massaged on Tuesdays, marcelled
Wednesdays, and chiropodized on Thursdays, and one couldn't expect
much of a daughter with that sort of a mother; still, the girl
interested me.  I feel sorry for her.  She mustn't marry Harrie."

"But who's going to tell her?"  Selwyn's voice was querulously eager.
"I thought perhaps you might find--find--"

"I did."  I nodded in his flushed face.  "I don't think it will be
necessary to tell her anything.  She's very much in love, but not
with Harrie."

Selwyn sat upright.  A certain rigidity of which he is capable
stiffened him.  He looked much, but said nothing.

"I've had an interesting time this afternoon.  I never wanted to be a
detective person, but I can understand the fascination of the
profession.  Luck was with me, and in less than thirty minutes after
meeting her I was pretty sure Madeleine Swink was not in love with
Harrie and was in love with some one else.  A few minutes later I
found out who she was in love with, found he was equally in love with
her; that they were once engaged and still want to get married.  Our
job's to help them do it."

Selwyn's seriousness is a heritage.  Frowningly he looked at me.
"This is hardly a thing to jest about.  I may be very dense, but I
fail to understand--"


For an hour we talked of Madeleine Swink and Mrs. Swink, of Harrie
and Tom Cressy, and in terms which even a man could understand I told
how my discoveries had been made, of how I had managed to see Tom and
Madeleine together, and of my frank questioning of the former.  But
what I did not tell him was that my thought was not of them alone.
By my side the little girl with the baby in her arms had seemed
clinging to my skirt.

"What sort of a girl is she?"  In Selwyn's voice was relief and
anxiety.  "Has she courage enough to take things in her own hands?
I've no conscience so far as her mother is concerned.  She deserves
no consideration, but, being an interested party, I--"

"You needn't have anything to do with it.  I'm not sure what sort she
is, or how much courage she's got, but worms have been known to turn.
If a hundred years before they were born somebody had begun to train
her parents to be proper parents she might have been a better
product, still there seems to be something to her.  For Tom's sake I
hope so."

"He's a nice chap."  Selwyn's voice was unqualifiedly emphatic.  "And
his father is as honest a man as ever lived.  His mother, I believe,
comes of pretty plain people."

"I don't know where she comes from, but she's made a success of her
son, which is what a good many well-born women fail to do.  People
aren't responsible for their ancestors, but they are for their
descendants to a great extent, and Mrs. Cressy seems to understand
this more clearly than certain ancestrally dependent persons I have
met.  I'd like to know her."

"You're looking at me as if I didn't agree with you.  Some day I hope
there may be deeper understanding of, and better training for, the
supreme profession of life; but to get out of generalizations into a
concrete case, what can I do in the way of service to Miss Swink and
Mr. Thomas Cressy?  Being, as I said before, an interested party, I
hardly--"

A knock on the door behind him made Selwyn start as if struck; gave
evidence of strain and nervousness of which he was unconscious, and,
jumping up, he went toward the door and opened it.  In the hall
Bettina and Jimmy Gibbons were standing.  The latter was twisting his
cap round and round in his hand, his big, brown eyes looking first at
Bettina and then at me and then at Selwyn, but to my "Come in," he
paid no attention.

Getting up, I went toward him, put my hand on his shoulder.  "What is
it, Jimmy?  Why don't you come in?"

"My shoes ain't fitten.  I wiped them, but the mud wouldn't come
off."  His eyes looked down on his feet.  "I could tell you out here
if you wouldn't mind listening."

"I told him I'd take the message or call you down-stairs, but he
wouldn't let me do either one."  Bettina, hands behind her, nodded in
my face.  "His mother says her boarder is dying and she wants to tell
you something before she dies, and she told Jimmy he must see you
himself.  Grannie's gone to prayer-meeting with Mrs. Crimm, and
afterward to see about a sick person.  I'm awful sorry to interrupt
you, and if the lady hadn't been dying--"

"You're not interrupting."  I drew the boy inside.  Bettina came
also.  From the fire to which I led him, Jimmy drew back, however,
and blew upon his stiff little fingers until it was safe to put them
closer to the blazing coals.  Looking down at his feet, I saw a large
and ragged hole on the side of his right shoe from which a tiny bit
of blood was slowly oozing upon the rug.

"What's the matter with your foot, Jimmy?  Have you cut it, stuck
something in it?  You must take your shoe off and see what's the
matter."  I pointed to the floor.

"I didn't know I'd done it."  Craning his neck to its fullest
extending.  Jimmy peered down at the bleeding foot, then looked up at
me.  "I'm awful sorry it got on the rug.  I'll wipe it up in a
minute."  Imperishable merriment struggled with abashed regret, and,
holding out the offending foot, he laughed wistfully.  "It ain't got
no feeling in it, though it's coming.  I guess it's kinder froze.
They're regular flip-flops, them shoes are."

Under his breath I heard a smothered exclamation from Selwyn.  He was
standing in front of the boy, hands in his pockets, and staring at
him.  He knew, of course, there were countless ill-fed, ill-clothed,
unprotected children in every city of every land, but personally he
had come in contact with but few of them, and the bit of flesh and
blood before him stabbed with sharp realization.  Helplessly he
turned to me.  "The boy's half frozen.  Where did he come from?  What
does he want you to do?"

Jimmy looked up at me.  "Mother told me to hurry.  The doctor's done
gone and Mrs. Cotter says she's bound to see you before she dies.
She's got something to tell you.  She says please, 'm, come quick."

Hesitating, I looked at the boy, who had come closer to the fire.
"Did the doctor say she was dying?  I saw her yesterday and she
seemed better.  Miss White was to see her to-day."

"Miss White is there now."  Jimmy lifted his right foot and held it
from the ground.  The warmth of the room was bringing pain to the
benumbed member into which something had been stuck.  "She told me to
tell you please, 'm, to come if you could.  Mrs. Cotter says she
can't die until she sees you, and she's so tired trying to hold out.
She won't have breath left to talk, mother says, if you don't hurry."

Perplexed, uncertain, I waited a half-minute longer.  Mrs. Cotter,
the renter of Mrs. Gibbons's middle room, and sometime boarder, I had
seen frequently of late.  Nothing human could have stood what she had
been forcing herself to do for some weeks past, and that resistance
should have yielded to relentless exaction was not to be wondered at.
Ten hours a day she sewed in the carpet department of one of the
city's big stores, and for some time past she had been one of the
office-cleaning force of the Metropolitan Building, which at night
made ready for the day's occupants the rooms which were swept and
dusted and scrubbed while others slept or played, or rested or made
plans for coming times.  The extra work had been undertaken in order
to get nourishment and medicine needed for her little girl, who had
developed tuberculosis.  There was nowhere for the child to go.  The
insufficient sanatorium provided by the city for its diseased and
germ-disseminating poor was over-crowded.  To save her child she had
fought valiantly, but her life was the forfeit of her fight.  I
wondered what she wanted to tell me.

I looked at Selwyn, in my eyes questioning.  Mrs. Mundy was out.  I
could not leave Bettina alone in the house.  What must I do?

"Do you think she is really dying?  People like that are often
hysterical, often nervously imaginative."  Selwyn's voice was
worried.   "You ought not to be sent for like this.  It isn't right."

"She wouldn't have sent as late as this, but the doctor says she
won't last till daybreak."  Jimmy twisted his cap into a round, rough
ball.  "I'll get Mrs. Mundy for Bettina if you'll tell me where she
is."

"You can't get her.  She's out the prayer-meeting by now and gone to
see somebody who sent for her.  I don't know who it is, and I ain't
by myself.  Miss Sallie Jenks is sitting with me while grannie's
out."  Bettina's tones were energetic.  She turned to me.  "You
needn't stay back on my account, Miss Danny.  Aren't you going?"

"Yes--I'm going."  I walked toward my bedroom.  At its door I
stopped.  "I'm sorry, Selwyn, but I'll have to go.  The woman is
dying."

Selwyn's teeth came together sharply and in his eyes were disapproval
and protest.  For a half-minute he did not speak, then he faced me.

"If you insist, there's nothing to be said except that I am going
with you.  Where's your telephone?  I'll get a cab."

"Oh no!  You must not go."  Back to the door, I leaned against it.
"You've never seen things of this kind.  They're--they're--"

"No pleasanter for you than for me."  His voice was decisive; but his
eyes were no longer on mine.  They were on Jimmy Gibbons's shoes with
the big and ragged hole in one of them through which the bare skin of
his foot showed red and raw.  He drew in his breath; turned to me.
"Put on warm things.  It's pretty cold to-night."



CHAPTER XXI

Jimmy followed me into the taxi, and as Selwyn snapped the door he
huddled in an opposite corner as if effacement were an obligation
required by the situation in which he found himself.  But he had
never been in an automobile before, and his sense of awe soon yielded
to eager anxiety to miss no thrill of the unexpected experience.  His
face was pressed against the glass pane of the door before we had
gone two blocks, in the hope that he might see some one who would see
him in the glory of an adventure long hoped for and long delayed and
Selwyn and I were forgotten in the joy of a dream come true.

There was time to tell Selwyn but little of the woman I was going to
see.  Mrs. Gibbons's home was only a short distance from Scarborough
Square, and before I could do more than give the briefest explanation
of Mrs. Cotter's condition, of her long hours of work and lack of
home life, the cab had stopped, and Jimmy, springing out, hopped, on
his unhurt foot, to the sagging gate of his little yard and opened it
for us to pass through.  Going up the broken steps, I pushed open the
partly closed door and went in.

A faint light from a kerosene-lamp, set on a bracket in the wall at
the far end of the hall, caused weird shadows to flicker on the floor
and up the narrow staircase, and for a half-minute Selwyn and I
waited until we could see where we should go.  From the middle room
we could hear hoarse and labored breathing and the stir of footsteps
on the bare floor.  Putting my hand on the door-knob, I was about to
turn it when Mrs. Gibbons came out, holding Mrs. Cotter's little girl
by the hand.

"I'm glad you've come.  She keeps calling for you."  Her voice was
the monotone of old, and, as unmoved as ever, she nodded to me and
then looked at Selwyn.  "Is he a doctor?  Did he come to see her?"

I explained Selwyn's presence and suggested that he wait for me while
I went to Mrs. Cotter.  Beckoning him to follow, she went toward her
kitchen bedroom, but stopped to give warning of the two steps that
led down to it, and as she stopped I heard the low whimper of the
frightened child by her side and saw her footsteps drag.

"I want my mother!  I want to go back to my mother!  I don't want to
go 'way from my mother!"

Was it well to let her go back?  Only a few minutes were left for
them to be together.  Was it kind or cruel to keep them apart?
Uncertain, I looked at the group before me and saw Selwyn stoop and
take the child, a little girl of five, up in his arms.

"Your mother is going to sleep."  His voice was low.  "And we are
going to be quiet and not wake her.  Jimmy will play with you, and
I--"

"Will you tell me a story?"  Sleepily the child leaned against his
shoulder, one arm thrown over it.  "Will you tell me a pretty story
about--"

As they disappeared through the door opening into Mrs. Gibbons's
quarters I went into Mrs. Cotter's room, but for a moment drew back.
I had learned not to shrink at much that once I would have run from,
but the gaunt body and ghastly face of the woman propped against
pillows on the bed frightened me, and my feet refused to move.  All
the hardships and denials, the injustices and inequalities, of
working womanhood, unfit to fight and unprepared for struggle, were
staring at me, and on the open lips was something of the mocking
smile that had been on Lillie Pierce's face when she was first
brought in to Mrs. Mundy.

Heavily, and with great labor, breath came gaspingly, and the blank
stare in the eyes made me think at first I was too late.  Slowly I
went toward the bed, and at its side I took a twitching hand in mine,
and as I did so the staring eyes turned to me.  Too nearly gone for
aught save faint returning, light struggled back in a supreme and
final effort, and with life's last spark of energy she clutched my
fingers with her work-worn, weary hands.  Miss White, the district
nurse, who was standing at the foot of the bed, nodded to me, and
from a far corner the sobbing of a man and woman in shabby clothes,
and crouched close together, reached across the room.  All other
worlds were, for the moment, far away, and only the world before me
seemed real and true and unescapable.

Drawing a low chair close to the bed, I sat down and leaned toward
the woman.  There was little time to lose.  "What is it, Mrs. Cotter?
Look at me.  This is Dandridge Heath.  You have something you want to
say to me.  Tell me what it is."

Her head made backward, twisting movement as if for breath, then her
eyes held mine, and in them was the cry eternal of all motherhood.
"My little girl!  My little girl!  If only--I could take--her with
me!  Who's going to--tell her how--not to go--wrong?  She won't be
safe--on earth.  Promise me--promise me!"

"Promise you what?"  I leaned still farther over the bed.  The fire
of a tortured soul was burning in the eyes before me, and out of them
had gone dull glaze and ghastly stare; into them had come appeal,
both piteous and passionate, and fear that defied death.  "What must
I promise?"  My eyes held hers lest words should wander.

"Tell me what I must do?"

"Don't let them put her in--an orphan home.  The ones who--manage
it--don't know themselves--how life--treats girls.  They mean
kind--but they don't teach them--what might happen.  Little
Etta--little Etta Blake lived in an orphan home.  And now--now--"

The hands in mine were dropped, amazement for the moment making me
forget all else.  I leaned yet closer.  "Where is she?  Where is Etta
Blake?  Where can I find her?"

As if groping, the eyes looking into mine made effort to understand,
then turned away.  "You can't find her--now.  It's--too late.  She
was let go--to work--and she--didn't know.  She come--from a little
town--to a big one.  And nobody--told her--what might happen.  My
little Nora--who's going to tell her?"

With violent effort, the figure on the bed attempted to sit up, and
the twitching hands were flung one on either side, then again they
clutched mine.  "Why don't God--let me--take her--with me?  Promise
me--you won't forget--my little Nora!  Won't let them--put her--in an
orphan home.  Promise me--you'll watch--"

Gaspingly she lay back on the pillows, but her eyes held mine.
"Promise--"

"I promise I will not--forget."  Before God and a dying woman I was
pledging protection for a homeless child.  My voice broke and then
steadied.  "I promise--and I will watch."

As if that which held had snapped, the tossing head lay quiet, and
out of the face fear faded, and into it, as softly as widens dawn at
break of day, came peace.  The sobbing in the corner of the room had
ceased, and through the thin walls I could hear Selwyn's low tones as
he told stumblingly to the child a story that was keeping her quiet,
and I knew he, too, was on new thresholds; he, too, was entering
unknown worlds.

"Tell her--"  Flame-spent, the eyes again opened and this time looked
at Miss White.  "Tell her--why I--don't want--  They mean--to be
good--but--people like that--don't know how--people like us--"

Martha White thrust her handkerchief up her sleeve, cleared her
throat, and straightened her wide and rustling apron.  "She's been
trying to tell me all day that she didn't want Nora to be put in an
orphan asylum, and yet there's nobody to take her.  All her people
are too poor to add another child to their families."  She came
closer and lowered her voice that it might reach no one but me, and
with her shoulders made movement toward the bed, with her hands to
the man and woman still close together in tearless silence in the
corner.  "You know how people like that are.  They judge everything
by the few cases that come within their knowledge, and--"

"Most of us do.  What does she know about asylums that prejudices her
so?"

"Little, except she's come across some girls who came out of them who
have gone wrong, and she thinks it's because they were kept too shut
off from outside life, and told too little of temptations and real
truths and--and things like that.  What she means is that she thinks
those who manage asylums and homes try to keep the girls innocent
through ignorance, and when they're turned out to go to work they
don't understand the dangers that are ahead.  Some grown-ups forget
that young people crave young ways and pretty things and good times,
and that they've got to be taught about what they don't understand."

"Little Etta--Etta Blake was an orphan.  She was like a bird--in a
cage.  When she--got out--  If only--they had--told her--" The voice
from the bed was strangely stronger, and the fingers, still twisted
into mine, made feeble pressure.

I leaned closer.  "Where is she?  Where is Etta Blake?  Where can I
find her?"

"You can't find her.  It's--too late.  We worked--at the same
place--once.  And I tried--to make--  But she said--it was--too late."

The gasping voice trailed wearily and the face, turning from me, lay
still upon the pillow.  Presently I saw Miss White start and come
closer.  The short, quick breath had stopped.

At Mrs. Mundy's front door Selwyn, holding the sleeping child in his
arms, looked at me.  "What are you going to do with her?"  His voice
was uncertain, but in it there was not the disapproval I had expected
from the telling of my promise to Mrs. Cotter.  "You can't keep her,
can you?"

I shook my head.  "She mustn't stay in town.  The doctor says her
case is too advanced to be arrested, and the only thing that can be
done is to make her as comfortable and happy as possible until
she--can go--to her mother.  I don't know what is best to be done.  I
must be near enough to see her every now and then.  Mr. Guard will
tell me what to do.  Whenever I don't know I ask him.  He always
helps me."

"Are you never to ask me to--help you?" Selwyn's voice was low, but
from his eyes was no escape, and as the light from the door which I
had opened with my latch-key fell upon his face I saw it flush--saw
in it what I had never seen before.

"You!"  I was very tired, and something long held back struggled for
utterance.  "You!"  The word was half a sob.  "If only you--"

Mrs. Mundy was coming down the hall, and at the door her hands went
out to take the child from Selwyn.  "Bettina told me, and I thought
perhaps you'd bring the little creature here.  I've got a place all
fixed.  You are tired out."  She turned to me, and then to Selwyn.
"Thank you, sir, for taking care of her--for going with her and
bringing her back.  I'm sorry I wasn't here to do it myself.  She's
needing of some one to look after her."  Turning, she went down the
hall with the child in her arms, and Selwyn, also turning, walked
down the steps and got into the cab.



CHAPTER XXII

The one day in the year I heartily hate is the first day of January.
Yesterday was January first.  Its usual effect is to make me feel as
the grate in my sitting-room looks when the fire is dead.  Knowing
the day would get ahead of me if I did not get ahead of it, I decided
to give a party.  Last night I gave it.

All through the busy rush of Christmas with its compelling demands I
have been trying not to think; trying to put from me memories that
come and go of Mrs. Cotter, of my disappointment in not hearing from
her where Etta Blake could be found, and my anxiety about little
Nora, now in the care of a woman I know well who lives just out of
town.  The child will not be here next Christmas.  Kitty is paying
for all her needs.  She asked that I would let her the day before I
received Selwyn's note concerning Nora.  I promised her first.

Mr. Crimm cannot find Etta Blake.  She must have gone away.

In the past few weeks I have seen little of Selwyn.  I have been a
bit more than busy with Christmas preparations, and his mortification
over Harrie's behavior since the latter's return from El Paso has
kept him away even from me.  Madeleine Swink I have seen several
times, also Tom Cressy, but Mrs. Swink I have been spared, owing to
absence from home when she returned my call.

I have told Madeleine that she must not meet Tom here again until she
breaks her engagement with Harrie and tells her mother she will not
marry him.  I cannot help her marry Tom unless she is open and square
with her mother.  She thinks I am hard, but I will agree to nothing
else.

It isn't easy to be patient with halting, hesitating, helpless
people, and Madeleine, having long been dominated, is a rather
spiritless person.  Still, she is the sort one always feels sorry
for.  I wish I wasn't mixed up in her affairs, however.  They aren't
my business and fingers put in other people's pies are likely to get
pinched.  Then, too, my fingers have many other things to do.

Last night's party was a great success.  During most of the day I was
telephoning messages, sending notes of invitations, and helping Mrs.
Mundy with the preparation of certain substantial refreshments which
must be abundant; and when at last I stood ready to receive my guests
a thrill I had long thought dead became alive again.  At other
parties I knew what to expect.  At this one I didn't.

Lucy Hobbs, resplendent in a green silk, lace-trimmed dress, was
dashingly handsome with her carefully curled hair and naturally
colored cheeks; and her big, black eyes missed no detail of my
holly-bedecked and brightly lighted rooms.  It was difficult to
associate her with the girl in shabby clothes who hurried through the
streets in the dark of early mornings, and whose days were spent in a
factory, year in and year out; and yet the factory had left its
imprint in a shyness that was new to one whose usual role was that of
boss, and at first she was ill at ease.

"You must help me, Lucy."  I spoke hurriedly and in an undertone.
"Some of these people think they're at a funeral.  Mix them up and
introduce them again if they don't talk to each other.  Take Mr.
Banister over to Gracie Hurd.  He's afraid to cross the room to get
to her and she hasn't budged since she came in.  And get Mr.
Schrioski from Mrs. Gibbons.  She's telling him about the baby's
whooping-cough and enjoying the telling; but he isn't.  Go to him
first."

As I spoke to Lucy, David Guard came in the room.  He wore his usual
clothes, but his cravat was fixed with apparent firmness and no
longer crawled half-way up his collar, and his hair had been
carefully brushed.  As we shook hands I laughed.

"I'm frightened.  Did you ever do a thing in a hurry and then wonder
what you did it for?  Most of these people have such a stupid time at
home, so seldom go out at night, that I thought I'd have a party for
them, but they seem to think they're at a show waiting for the
curtain to go up.  What am I going to do?"

"Give them time.  They can't unlimber all at once.  Mrs. Crimm over
there thinks it would be improper for her to smile, as she's just
lost her brother, but Mr. Crimm is a performance in himself.  What's
he in uniform for?"

"He goes on duty at twelve, and he doesn't want to lose time going
home to change.  Look at Archer Barbee.  I believe he's in love with
Loulie Hill."

"He is.  I hope they are going to be married soon.  Why don't you let
these people dance?"

I had not thought of dancing.  My guests were oddly assorted, of
varying ages and conditions, and I had gathered them in for an
evening away from their usual routine rather than with the view of
getting a congenial group together, and the realization of social
blundering was upon me.  Dancing might do what I could not.

To dance in my sitting-room would be difficult.  The few things in
the room adjoining it could be easily pushed against the wall,
however, and quickly Fannie Harris and Mr. Guard began to make it
ready.  And while they made ready, Mr. Crimm was invited to sing.

Mr. Crimm is my good friend.  I had never known a policeman before I
came to Scarborough Square, but I shall always be glad I know him.
He is a remarkable man.  He has been Mrs. Crimm's husband for thirty
years and has his first drink to take.

As I played the opening notes of "Molly, My Darling, There's No One
Like You," Mr. Crimm took his place by the piano.  Straight and
important, shoulders back, and a fat right hand laid over a fat left
one, both of which rested just above the belt around his
well-developed waist, he surveyed the silent company with blinking,
twinkling eyes.  Mrs. Crimm, struggling between righteous pride in
the possession of so handsome a piece of property as her
blue-uniformed and brass-buttoned husband, and the necessity of
subduing all emotions save that of respect, due to the recent death
of her brother, sat upright in her chair, hands clasped in her lap,
and eyes fastened on the floor.  Not until the song was over did she
lift them.

"Molly, My Darling, There's No One Like You" is a piece of music
permitting the making of strange sounds, and when Mr. Crimm sings it
the sounds are stranger.  At the third verse he asked all present to
join in the chorus, and the effect was transforming.  Bettina,
standing in front of him, eyes uplifted as if entranced, and hands
clasped tightly behind her back, was ready at the first word to join
in, and shrilly her young voice piped an accompaniment to the deep
notes of her official friend.  With a nod of his head and a
time-beating movement of both hands, Mr. Crimm began his work of
leadership, and in five minutes every one in the room was around him,
save his wife, who kept her seat, her lips tight and her eyes on the
floor.

As a garment thrown off, the stiffness disappeared, and feet tapped
and heads moved to the rhythmic swing of first one song and then
another, but finally Mr. Crimm wiped his perspiring face and called
for silence.

"It's Archie's time now.  Step up, Archie, and tell the ladies and
gentlemen how 'Mary Rode the Goat, She Did.'  Shying is out of
fashion.  Step lively, Archie.  This, ladies and gentlemen--" Mr.
Crimm waved one hand and with the other grasped firmly the collar of
his young friend's coat and drew him forward, "is Mr. Archer Barbee,
who will now entertain you.  Begin, Archie.  Make your bow and begin."

For a moment Archie stood in solemn silence, hands crossed on his
breast and thumbs revolving rapidly.  His lips made odd movements,
although from them came no sound, and vacantly he stared ahead of
him, in his eyes no expression, in his manner no hint of what was
coming.  Short and fat, with face round and red, hair red and curly,
and ears of a prodigious size, he made a queer picture; and, ignorant
of his power of mimicry and impersonation, I kept my seat on the
piano-stool.  That is for a while I kept it.  When safety lay no
longer on it I took refuge on the sofa.  First, smiles had followed
his beginning words, then shouts of laughter, then shrieks of it; and
little gasping screams and bending of bodies and convulsive doubling
up; and when finally he stopped we were spent and breathless, and for
a while I could not see.  When again my eyes were clear, Fannie
Harris was standing by me.

"If you think you can stand up, the room is ready for dancing."  She
pointed ahead of her.  "Please look at Mrs. Mundy.  She'll split her
best black silk if she doesn't stop."

Mrs. Mundy's cackles were getting shorter and shorter and, wiping her
eyes, she joined us and nodded at Mr. Guard.

"I haven't laughed as much since the first time I went to the circus,
and if there's anything better for the insides than laughing, I've
never took it.  Seems to me it clears out low-downness and sour
spirits better than any tonic you can buy, and for plum wore-outness
a good laugh's more resting than sleep.  When you're ready to have
the hot things brought up, let me know, Miss Dandridge.  Martha's
down-stairs and everything's ready and just waiting for the word."

It was hardly time for refreshments, and at Mr. Guard's announcement
that all who cared to dance could go into the next room, a movement
was made toward the latter, and then all stopped and waited for
Archie Barbee, who, with a low bow, was asking Mrs. Crimm for the
favor of a fox-trot.

Rigidly Mrs. Crimm stiffened.  Indignantly she waved Archie away.
"I'm a church member.  I never danced in my life, and it's unfeeling
of you to be asking of me when my poor brother's only been in his
grave eight days."  She took out a, black-bordered handkerchief from
a bag hanging at her side, and opened it carefully.  "It's unfeeling
of you, with him only dead one day over a week."

Hands in his coat pockets, Archie bowed low.  "I ask your pardon,
ma'am.  I hadn't heard about, your brother--leaving you, and I didn't
guess it, seeing you sitting here as handsome as a hollyhock, though
now you speak of it, I see your dress is elegant black and extra
becoming.  I beg you'll be excusing of me.  Mrs. Mundy, ma'am, I hope
you'll honor me."

The room had grown quiet, each waiting for the other to move, and,
hearing a step in the hall, I looked toward the door, which was
partly open, then went forward, thinking a belated guest might be
coming in.  The door opened wider and Selwyn stood on its threshold.

For a half-minute I stared at him and he at me.  In his face was
amazement.  As I held out my hand he recovered himself and came
inside.

"I beg your pardon.  I'm afraid I'm intruding.  I did not know you
were having a--"

"Party.  I am."  I was angry with myself for the flush in my face.
"You are in time to share in some of it.  Mr. Guard"--I turned to the
latter, who happened to be near the door--"will you introduce Mr.
Thorne to some of my friends while I see Martha?  I will be back in a
moment."  I had changed my mind and decided to have supper before we
danced.

Selwyn bit his lip and his eyes narrowed, then over his face swept
change, and, shaking hands with David Guard, he went forward and
spoke to Mrs. Mundy and Bettina; shook hands with Mr. Crimm, and met
in turn each of my guests.  Why had he come to-night of all nights? I
asked myself.  He evidently intended to stay and perhaps my party
might be ruined.

But it was not ruined.  With an ability I did not know he possessed
Selwyn gave himself to the furtherance of the evening's pleasure,
talking to first one and then the other, and later, with the ease of
long usage, he waited on Mrs. Gibbons and Mrs. Crimm, serving them
punctiliously with all that was included in the evening's
refreshments.  When there was nothing more that he could do I saw him
sitting between Gracie Hurd the little shirtwaist girl, and Marion
Spade, a waitress at one of the up-town restaurants, eating his
supper as they ate theirs, and they were finding him apparently
somewhat more than entertaining.

From my corner where I poured tea I watched the pictures made by the
different groupings and tried not to think of Selwyn.  He was
behaving well, but he didn't approve of what I was doing.  He rarely
approves of what I do.

"Do let Mrs. Mundy bring you some hot oysters."  I leaned over and
spoke to Bettie Flynn, upon whom Mrs. Mundy and I were keeping watch
lest she show signs of her old trouble.  "And can't I give you a cup
of coffee?"  I held out my hand for her empty cup.

Bettie shook her head regarding the coffee, but handed her plate to
Mrs. Mundy.  "You certainly can give me some more oysters.  I've been
an Inmate for nine years and Inmates don't often have a chance at
oysters.  At the City Home your chief nourishment is thankfulness.
You're expected to get fat on thankfulness.  I ain't thankful, which
is what keeps me thin, maybe."  She turned to me.  "My dress looks
real nice, don't it?  Seeing we're such different shapes, it's
strange how good your clothes fit me.  I hope the rats won't eat this
dress.  I'm going to keep it to be buried in.  Good gracious!  I
didn't know you was going to have ice-cream and cake.  I wouldn't
have et all them oysters if I'd known."

When supper was over Dick Banister, who is Gracie Hurd's beau, asked
me, with awkward bowing, for the first dance, and, beginning with
him, I danced with every man in the room who made pretense of knowing
how, except Selwyn.  He did not ask me.  Bravely, however, he did his
part.  He overlooked no one, and David Guard, watching, blinked his
eyes a bit and smiled.  Selwyn would make a magnificent martyr.  A
situation forced upon him is always met head up.

Mr. Crimm, who, like his wife, did not dance, though for different
reasons, at a quarter to twelve took out his watch and, looking at
it, got up with a start.  "Come on, old lady, we've got to go."
Taking his wife by the arm, he held out his hand to me.  "It's been
great, Miss Heath.  I never had such a good time in my life.  Good
night, friends."  He bowed beamingly, then made a special bow in
Selwyn's direction.

"I'm glad to know you, sir.  I used to know your father.  I've heard
many a case tried in his court.  A juster man never lived.  Good
night, sir.  Good night, Miss Heath."

When all good-bys were over and all were gone Selwyn, standing with
his back to the fire, looked at me, but for a moment said nothing.
As completely as if he had stepped from one body into another he
seemed a different person from the man who had been most charming to
my guests a few minutes before when he had told them good night as if
he were, indeed, their host.  Looking at him, I saw his face was
haggard and worn and that he was nervously anxious and uneasy.

"It is late.  I know I shouldn't stay."  His voice was as troubled as
his eyes.  "I'm sorry to keep Mrs. Mundy up, but I must talk to you
tonight.  Again I must ask you what to do."



CHAPTER XXIII

"It's pretty beastly in me to put this on you."  Selwyn, who had
taken his seat in a chair opposite mine, first leaned back, then
forward, and, hands clasped between his knees, looked down upon the
floor.  "I've kept away from you lest I trouble you with what I have
no right--"

"If you did not talk to me frankly I would be much more troubled."  I
drew the scarf about my shoulders a little closer.  I knew what was
coming.  The thought of it chilled.  "Is it about Harrie you are
again worried?"

Selwyn nodded.  "You knew he had left home?  Knew he had taken a
bachelor apartment downtown?"

"I heard it day before yesterday.  Kitty told me.  Billie is pretty
upset about him.  Being five years older and married, Billie is
seeing life rather differently from the way Harrie takes it, and the
latter's recklessness--"

Selwyn looked at me, then away.  "The boy is beyond comprehension.  I
haven't seen him but once in nearly two weeks.  Five days before
Christmas he had his trunk and certain things sent down-town, and
wrote me a note telling of the apartment he'd taken.  I've been to
see him several times, but he's never in and, I'm told, hasn't been
in now for over a week.  I've written him, made every inquiry likely
to lead to information without exciting undue suspicion, and now,
unless I go to the police--"  Biting the ends of his close-cut
mustache, Selwyn stopped abruptly.

"Does Mrs. Swink know he has left home?"

"If she doesn't, she'll know it to-morrow when she gets my answer to
this."  Taking a letter from his pocket, Selwyn threw it on the table
behind me.  "Later you can read that, if you've time to waste.  I got
it to-day.  Harrie hasn't been to see Madeleine for over a week.
Mrs. Swink wants to know why.  Wants to know where he is.  So do I."

"Didn't he dine with Mildred on Christmas day?  I thought both of you
were always there at Christmas."

"We are.  When Mildred's Christmas dinner is over I thank God there
will be three hundred and sixty-five days before she can have another
one.  Harrie was all right when he came in, but he took too much
egg-nog, too much of other things Mildred had no business having, I
tried to make him go home with me, but he wouldn't do it.  Then I
tried to go with him and he wouldn't let me do that either.  Said he
had an engagement with Miss Swink.  He was not in a condition to fill
it, but, thinking if she saw him Mrs. Swink might take in what she so
far has failed to understand, I was rather glad he was going to keep
his engagement.  He didn't keep it."

"What did he do?  Where did he go?"

Selwyn's face darkened.  "I don't know.  Nobody knows.  He hasn't
been in his apartment since Christmas day.  His trunk and clothes are
in his rooms, also his suit-cases and bags, and there is no evidence
of his having gone off on a trip.  I haven't told Mildred.  She'd go
into hysterics and tell the town Harrie had disappeared.  Mrs. Swink,
however, had to be told something.  Madeleine, I imagine, has given
notice and her mother is sitting up."  Selwyn's hands made gesture of
disgust.  "Her letter is inquisitorial and hysterical.  My answer
will give a bump, I imagine."

"You've clouded visions and waked her from sweet dreaming.  She's
been seeing herself in the Thorne house as the mother of its
mistress.  I don't mean to laugh, indeed I don't, but--"  I did
laugh.  Mrs. Swink and Selwyn dwelling under the same roof was a
picture beyond the resistance of laughter.  Incompatibility and
incongruity would be feeble terms with which to designate such a
situation, and at its suggestion seriousness was impossible.  That
is, to me.  In Selwyn's face was no smiling.

"If there have been any little dreams I'm glad she wrote me.  In
reply I had a chance to say what there has been no chance to say
before.  Were there imaginings that Harrie was to bring his wife to
his old home they will cease when she gets my note.  No house is big
enough for a bride and groom and members of either family, and
certainly mine isn't.  I limited comment on Harrie to his financial
condition; expressed regret at my inability to explain his failure to
keep his engagement, and gave her no hint of my uneasiness.  Only to
you have I given it.  Something is wrong.  I'm afraid the boy is ill
somewhere.  The thing has gotten on my nerves.  I've got to do
something.  I can't go on this way."

With eyes in which nervous uneasiness was unrestrained, Selwyn looked
at me, asking unconsciously for help I could not give, and for a
moment I said nothing.  Possibilities of which I could not speak were
clutching at my heart and making me cold with fear and horror, for
suddenly something I had overheard a girl telling Mrs. Mundy a few
days before, as I passed through the hall, came to me with cruel and
compelling clearness.  "He's a gentleman, all right.  Drunk or sober,
you can tell that.  She ain't left him day or night since he was
taken sick, and except the doctor she won't let any one come in the
room."

The words of the girl talking to Mrs. Mundy repeated themselves with
such distinctness that it seemed Selwyn would hear the thick beating
of my heart and understand its wonder as to who the man was who was
ill, who the girl who was nursing him.  Did Mrs. Mundy know?  Lest he
notice that I, too, was nervous I got up and went over to a table in
an opposite corner of the room and drank a glass of water.  Coming
back, I took my seat, but Selwyn remained standing, and, taking out
his watch again, looked at it.

"I must go.  Had I known you were to have a party"--he smiled
faintly--"I should not have come.  You are too tired to stay up
longer.  Forget what I've told you and go to sleep.  If tomorrow you
can suggest anything--  I'm pretty ragged and don't seem able to
think clearly.  You are keener than I in grasping situations, and
quicker in making decisions.  Whatever you think might be done--"
Again his teeth came down upon his lips, and, looking up, I saw his
face was white.

"Give me a day or two in which to see what can be done.  And you
won't mind if I ask Mr. Crimm's advice?"  I seemed pushing the girl
I'd heard talking to Mrs. Mundy behind me.  "He hasn't been able to
find Etta Blake yet.  Do you suppose her disappearance could have any
connection with Harrie's?  It may be he really loves her."

Selwyn turned away.  "Love is hardly a term to be used in connection
with an acquaintanceship such as theirs.   A girl with a past,
possibly--"

"How about his past?"

"I think you understand pretty well my opinion of his past.  But as
long as theories yield to accepted custom a man's past will be
forgotten, a woman's remembered.  Harrie, if married, would be
received anywhere, provided he married a woman of his world.  This
little girl would have to pay her price and his, were she his wife,
for no one would receive her.  That's hardly the question before us,
however.  To find where Harrie is, find if anything is wrong, if he's
ill--"

The sharp, sudden ringing of the telephone on the table behind me
made me start, and, jumping up like a frightened child, I stood close
to Selwyn.  "Who on earth--  It's half past twelve.  Who can want me
at this time of night?"  I started to take the receiver from its
hook, but, laughing at me, Selwyn got it first.

"One would think a spook was going to spring at you.  Central's given
the wrong number, I guess.  Hello!  Who is that?"

Watching with as strained eagerness as if I were hearing, I saw
Selwyn lean forward, after admitting that the number wanted was the
right one, and heard him ask again: "Who is it?  Who did you say?"

For the next five minutes there was snatchy, excited, and incoherent
conversation over the telephone, during which Selwyn and I alternated
in the talking in an effort to learn what Tom Cressy was saying at
the other end of the line, and what it was he wanted me to do.  Tom's
voice was not distinct and caution was making it difficult to
understand what we finally got from him, which was that he wanted to
bring Madeleine down to spend the night with me; that they had
started to go away to be married and missed the train by one minute,
owing to an accident to the automobile they were in.  The next train
did not leave until 4 A.M.  Could Madeleine stay with me until train
time?

"No, she can't!"  Hand over the telephone transmission, Selwyn turned
to me.  "They've got no business mixing you up in this.  You'll be
blamed for the whole thing.  I'm going to tell him to take her back
to the Melbourne.  They can make another try some other time.  Tom
must be crazy!"

"Most people in love are.  You've never been desperate."  I laughed
and took the receiver from him.  "Madeleine's courage will be gone
after tonight and Tom's afraid to risk waiting.  Get up and let me
talk."

Over the telephone I could hear Madeleine crying and I told Tom to
bring her down.  Her two-penny worth of nerve and dash had given out
and she was frightened.  Incoherently I was told by Tom that
Madeleine was being persecuted, and he wouldn't stand for it any
longer, and the only thing for them to do was to get married.  Hadn't
it been for a durned tire--"

"Come on down."  I heard a little cry.  "And hurry.  It's pretty
late."

Mrs. Mundy, who had been told of their coming, opened the door for
them in dressing-gown and slippers, and piloted them up-stairs and
into my sitting-room, where Madeleine, at sight of Selwyn, burst into
tears and buried her face on my shoulder.  But the ten minutes were
not entirely lost which passed before we understood why the venture
had been decided upon at this particular time, and how hard luck had
prevented its fulfilment.  Tears are effective.  Selwyn weakened as
rapidly as I could have wished.

"I haven't seen Harrie for two weeks.  Ever since I've been here he's
been writing me he was sick."  Madeleine's words came stumblingly,
and the corners of her handkerchief were pulled with nervous
movements in between the wiping of her pretty brown eyes.  "The day
after Christmas I wrote him, breaking our engagement.  I've never
heard from him since.  I don't even know that he got my letter."
Questioningly she looked at Selwyn, and her face, already colored,
crimsoned yet more deeply.

"Neither do I."  Selwyn's voice was gentle.  Indignation at his and
my involvement in what was not an affair of ours seemed to have
vanished.  "I redirected a number of letters to his new address,
but--"

"His new address?"  Madeleine looked puzzled.  "I didn't know he had
a new address."

"He is not living at home just now."  The flush in Selwyn's face
deepened also.  "I have not seen him since Christmas day.  But go on.
I did not mean to interrupt you."

"Three days ago Madeleine told her mother she'd broken with Harrie
and was going to marry me."  Tom was no longer to be repressed.
"She's had the devil of a time ever since, and yesterday I told her
she shouldn't stand it any longer, and neither would I.  Harrie has
hypnotized her mother.  She thinks--"

"I'm unkind and unsympathetic and hard and cruel to give him up
because he is not well.  It isn't that.  You know it isn't that--"
Madeleine's fingers twisted in appeal and again her eyes were on
Selwyn.  "You think it's dreadful in me not to marry your brother--"

"No, I don't.  I think it would be much more dreadful in you if you
did marry him."  Selwyn's hands made gesture.  "However, we'll leave
that out.  You say you told your mother you intended to marry Tom?"

Handkerchief to her lips, she nodded.  "I told her, and Tom wrote
her, asking her consent.  She wouldn't give it, and said I was
ungrateful and had no ambition, and that if she had a stroke I'd be
the cause.  She's never had a stroke and is very healthy, but--"

Bursting into fresh tears, Madeleine this time hid her face in her
hands, and Tom, wanting much to comfort, miserably ignorant of how to
do it, and consciously awkward and restrained in the presence of
witnesses, stood by her side, his hand on her shoulder, and at sight
of him I reached swift decision.

"I'm glad you told her.  You've been open and square and asked her
consent.  One can't wait indefinitely for consent to do things."  I
got up and took Madeleine by the hand.  "Come in my room and take off
your hat and coat.  When we come back we'll talk about what is best
to do."

Five minutes later we were back and, eyes bathed and face powdered,
Madeleine gave evidence of fresh injections of courage, and quickly
we began to plan.  The 4 A.M. train was the best to take, but for
half an hour we talked of whether Shelby or Claxon was the better
town to go to for the marriage ceremony, which at either place could
be performed without the consent of parent or guardian, and
irrespective of the age of the applicants for the same.  Though
preferring Shelby, Tom agreed to Claxon on my insisting on the latter
place, which was the Mecca for runaway couples from our section of
the state.  If I were going with them--

"Going with them?"  The inflection in Selwyn's voice was hardly
polite.  "You don't intend--"

"Yes, I do.  They've made a mess of the first try and they'll be
caught and brought back if somebody isn't there to keep them from
being held up.  I'm going with them."

"How do you expect to hold off--the holding up?"  Selwyn was staring
at me and anxiety concerning Harrie was for the time in abeyance.  He
needed something to distract him.  "What are you going to do?" he
asked.

"I don't know--don't have to know until to-morrow--I mean later
to-day."  I motioned toward the hall and, following me into it, he
partly closed the door behind us.  "We'll let those children have a
chance to say good night, and then please go home.  And don't look at
me like that!  I don't approve of runaway marriages any more than you
do.  I'd never be a party to one, because I wouldn't marry an
angel-man before I was twenty-one.  Afterward running away wouldn't
be necessary.  Tom and Madeleine are not entirely to blame."

"The blame for this will be put on you.  Mrs. Swink will credit you
with the instigation and carrying out of the whole affair.  You
mustn't go with them, Danny.  It isn't necessary."

"Maybe it isn't, but I'm going.  I can't let a girl of Madeleine's
age leave the house alone at half past three in the morning, and
certainly I cannot let Tom come here for her.  We will get to Claxon
at ten o'clock and by that time Mrs. Swink will have finished her
swooning and be working the wires.  They'll certainly be held up at
Claxon."

"Then why go there?  Why not go on to Shelby?"

I shook my head.  "Claxon is the better place.  I don't know how it's
going to be managed, but if one couldn't outmanoeuver mother Swink--.
It doesn't matter about my being blamed for helping them.  Long usage
has accustomed me to large shares of blame."  I held out my hand.
"I'll be back to-morrow night.  Come Thursday.  I think by then--"

"There are few things you will let me share with you, but the blame
that will come from this I am going to share whether you let me or
not.  I've gotten you into it and we'll see it through together.  If
you are going with them, I am going also.  Good night."  He dropped
the hand he was holding and turned away.  "Tell Tom I'm waiting, will
you?"



CHAPTER XXIV

Telling Madeleine not to unpack her bags, I gave her one of my
kimonos and ordered her to lie down while I slipped down-stairs for a
few words with Mrs. Mundy.  There was time for only a hurried talk,
but during it I told her what I wanted her to do, what she must get
Mr. Crimm to do, and also, if inquiry was made for me during the
coming day she was to say I was out and she did not know just when I
would be in.  As Mrs. Swink was unaware that her daughter had made
frequent visits to Scarborough Square at the same time Mr. Thomas
Cressy happened to be there, she was hardly apt to associate me with
their departure from the city; still, with less justice I have been
held responsible for things with which I had nothing to do, and, that
Mrs. Mundy be prepared for possible questions, I gave her a few
instructions concerning them.

She recalled clearly the conversation of which I had heard a few
words, but the girl talking to her had not mentioned the name of the
girl of whom she talked, or of that of the man who was being nursed
by her.

"She spoke of her as a friend who was a fool to care for a man as she
cared."  Mrs. Mundy put her hand to her mouth to cover a yawn.  "She
said--"

I got up.  It was too late for details.  "Find the girl who came to
see you, and if the friend of whom she is speaking is Etta Blake, get
her address and go to see her, if you can.  If not, send Mr. Crimm.
Tell the latter he must find Harrie.  He may be somewhere under an
assumed name.  So may Etta Blake.  Do you suppose it is possible
they--can be together somewhere?"

"Anything is possible."  Mrs. Mundy blinked her eyes bravely to
prevent my seeing the overpowering sleep in them, and quickly I went
to the door.

"It's a shame you have to go to the train with us.  You can come
right back, however, and sleep as late as you want.  The cab will be
here at three-thirty.  Take a nap until then, and don't look so
worried.  I'm not committing a crime.  I'm helping to keep some one
else from committing one.  Good night."  I kissed the dear soul and,
leaving her, hurried up-stairs.

Madeleine was lying down when I came back in the room, and, wanting
much to talk, she began to do so, but unfeelingly I made her stop.
Getting out the oldest and shabbiest dress I possessed, with a hat to
correspond, I took off my party dress and slipped into a warm and
worn wrapper.  After putting a few things in a bag, without further
undressing, I stretched out on the couch near the foot of the bed and
in the dark called to Madeleine.

"You won't be a beautiful bride if you don't get some sleep.  Shut
your eyes."  Mine were shut.  I wasn't going to be married.  I was
only a very tired maiden-lady about to do something she had no
business doing, and shamelessly I went to sleep and left Madeleine
awake.

Seemingly I had slept but a few minutes when, opening my eyes, I saw
Madeleine standing, fully dressed, by the side of my couch, and
looking down at me.  "It's ten minutes past three," she said.  "I
hate to wake you, but--"

Springing up, I threw off my wrapper and reached down for my shoes.
"If you'd waked me before you put on your dress you wouldn't have to
take it off.  You're going to wear that dress."  I pointed to the one
on the chair behind her.  "I'm sorry your wedding garments can't be
more festive, and that I'll have to wear your good clothes, but we
mustn't run risks merely for pride.  Take your dress off quickly and
give it to me.  Don't look at me, but hurry."

Madeleine's mind does not work as quickly as some people's, and a
little time was lost in explaining that any description to which she
would answer would have to apply to me, not her.  In consequence the
cab was at the door before she was fully garmented in my plainest
clothes and I arrayed in her beautiful ones, and regretfully she
looked at me.  I am taller and slenderer than Madeleine, but fashion
was in my favor, and the absence of fit and shortness of skirt gave
emphasis of adherence to its requirements.  I looked the part.  She
didn't.

At the station Tom and Selwyn were waiting and their puzzled
incomprehension was even greater than Madeleine's had been.
Explanations included a few suggestions as to the wisdom of our
separating and, the men agreeing, Selwyn and I went in the Pullman,
and poor little rich Madeleine and Tom to a day-coach, where crying
babies and peanut-hulls and close air and torn papers would have made
them wretchedly unhappy had they not been happily unconscious of
them.  I was sorry for them, but marriage involves much.  As the
train pulled out I waved from the window to Mrs. Mundy, who, on the
platform, waved back with one hand and with the other wiped her eyes.
Mrs. Mundy loves me, but she, too, does not always approve of me.

Travel evidently was light.  The sleeper in which we found ourselves
had barely two-thirds of the berths made up, and, the rest of the
seats being empty, we took ours in a corner where in an undertone we
could talk and not disturb others.  Taking off Madeleine's handsome
fur coat and newest hat I put the latter in its paper bag and gave
the former to Selwyn to hang on a hook.  Gloves and other things
being disposed of, I again sat down and suggested that he, also, make
himself comfortable, and at the same time change his expression.

"Later you can smoke, but at present you will have to be in here
where I'm compelled to look at you.  The photographic injunction to
look pleasant oughtn't to apply only to the taking of pictures.  For
the love of Heaven, sit down, Selwyn, and behave yourself!"

Selwyn hung up his hat and coat and took the seat opposite mine.
From him came radiation of endurance, and, objecting to being
endured, I spoke impatiently.  I did not care to be traveling at four
o'clock in the morning any more than he did, but much in life has to
be done that isn't preferable.  He had invited himself to take the
trip.  His desire to share any criticism coming to me for my part in
it was sincere, but rather than shielding it might subject me to an
increased amount.  For the first time such a possibility came to me,
and, looking up, I saw his eyes were gravely watching me.

"I thought I was behaving.  I'm willing to play the part properly if
I know the part, but I don't know it.  Your intimations have been
indefinite."

"There's been no time for any other sort.  When Mrs. Swink learns
that Madeleine and Tom have run away she will begin to ask where, and
somebody will certainly suggest Claxon."

"Then why go to Claxon?"

"They're not going to Claxon.  We are going there.  Just this side is
a little station at which they can take a local for Shelby.  They
will change at this station and go to Shelby while we keep on to
Claxon and get off there."

"But last night you insisted on their going to Claxon."  Selwyn's
voice implied that a woman's methods of management were beyond a
man's understanding.

"Inquiries will be made as to who bought tickets for Claxon.  Mrs.
Swink will have the whole police department running around for clues
and things.  I told you not to buy tickets.  Did you?"

"I did not.  I'm taking orders and doing what I'm told, but, being
new at it, I don't work as smoothly as I might.  Is there any special
reason why I shouldn't have bought tickets?"

"There is."  I opened my pocket-book, and, taking out a note, handed
it to him.  "I'll take breakfast with you but I'll have to pay my
railroad fare.  I didn't want you to get tickets, because if two
couples bought them it would cause confusion and telegrams might be
sent to Shelby also.  I didn't have time to think it all out last
night.  I only knew Tom and Madeleine must seemingly go to Claxon and
yet not go.  I wasn't sure what could be done, but after you decided
to come I thought we could play the part and give them time to be
married at Shelby."

"You mean you and I are to pretend we are somebody else, mean--"

Selwyn's voice was protestingly puzzled.  Impersonation did not
appeal.

"There'll be no necessity to pretend.  If a sheriff, with orders to
do so, takes charge of us he will hardly believe our assertion that
we are not the parties wanted.  He's used to that.  All we will have
to do is to wait until Tom and Madeleine come back.  When they show
as proper a marriage certificate as a dairy-maid and farmer-laddie
ever framed he will let us go.  You don't look as if playing groom to
my bride pleases you.  I'm sorry, but--"

Into Selwyn's eyes came that which made me turn mine away and look
out of the window.  Unthinkingly I had invited what he was going to
say.  "Playing groom does not interest me.  Why play?  And stop
looking out of the window."  He changed his seat and took the one
beside me.  "Look at me, Danny.  Why can't we be married at Claxon?
We'll wait for those children to come back and then--"

"Is that exactly fair?"  I drew away the hands he was hurting in his
tense grip.  "I hardly thought you'd take--"  I shut my eyes to keep
back quick tears for which there was no accounting.  Something
curious was suddenly possessing me, something that for weeks I had
seemed fighting and resisting.  An overmastering desire to give in;
to surrender, to yield to his love for me, to mine for him, was
disarming me, and swift, inexplicable impulse to marry him and give
up the thing I was trying to do urged and swept over me.  And then I
remembered his house with its high walls.  And I remembered
Scarborough Square.  Until there was between them sympathy and
understanding there could be no abiding basis on which love could
build and find enrichment and fulfilment.  Straightening, I sat up,
but I was conscious of being very tired.

"Please don't, Selwyn."  The hand I had drawn away I held out to him.
"We must not think or talk of ourselves to-day.  This is not our day."

"But I want my day."  His strong fingers twisted into mine with
bruising force.  "I have waited long for it.  For all others you have
consideration, but my happiness alone you ignore.  You seem to think
my endurance is beyond limit.  How long are you going to keep this
thing up?  Some day you are going to marry me.  Why not to-day?"

I shook my head.  "I cannot marry you today.  Take care--"  The
conductor was coming down the aisle toward us.



CHAPTER XXV

By the time we learn a few of the lessons life teaches we stop
living.  I should have known it is the unexpected that happens, but I
forgot it.  What I expected at Claxon did not come to pass.

At a little station a few miles east of the tiny town to which we
were going, Tom and Madeleine left our train and waited for a
crawling accommodation to Shelby, where, later, they would be
married.  From the car window I waved to them and tried to transmit a
portion of my courage, for which there was no credit, and of my
enjoyment, of which I should have been ashamed and was not ashamed.
A taste for adventure will ever be a part of me, and I was getting
much more pleasure out of an unexpected experience than Madeleine
was.  The playing of shadow to her substance was not so serious for
me as for her, and then, too, I had the joyful irresponsibility of
not going to be married.  I do not want to be a married person yet.

As we left the car at Claxon I glanced in the mirror at the end of
our coach and was pleased.  About me was a bridal atmosphere that was
unmistakable.  Madeleine's clothes were new and lovely and I looked
well.  So did Selwyn.  As we reached the platform I was undecided
whether to cling timidly to Selwyn's arm or to walk bravely apart,
and the indecision, together with the certainty that some one would
put a hand on Selwyn's shoulder and say words I had never before
heard, made my heart beat with a rapidity that was as genuine as if I
were soon to become a bride in very truth.  The sensation was
exhilarating.  I liked it.

On the platform of the little station a few negroes in overalls, two
boys, and five men, having apparently nothing to do, were hanging
around, hands in their pockets; and, looking about me, I waited.
Nothing happened.  Ahead of us and across a muddy road half a dozen
stores, hunched together in a row of detached and shabby frame
houses, with upper stories seemingly used for residential purposes,
comprised the business portion of the little town, and on our right
the post-office, telegraph and express offices, and telephone
exchange were in the one large building of the place.  Out of each
window facing us some one was looking, and in the open door a man was
standing, hat off and sweater-coated, who, at regular intervals, and
with unfailing accuracy of aim, ejected tobacco juice into a puddle
of water some distance away.  No one but ourselves got off the train,
and, its stay at the station being short, the attention of the
loungers near by and those resting themselves on boxes and barrels in
front of the stores across the road was turned determinatedly to us.
I looked at Selwyn.  In his face was relief.  In mine was anxiety
and, I'm afraid, disappointment.  The situation was flat.

I had read various accounts of runaway marriages which had taken
place at Claxon, several of which had only succeeded after eluding
the sheriff, waiting under orders from irate parents to arrest them;
and feeling confident Mrs. Swink would wire the proper person to
prevent the marriage of her daughter, I looked around for the one
most likely to do the work.  No one appeared.  What if my plan had
failed and Madeleine, in my un-wedding garments, was to be taken into
custody in Shelby?  I turned to Selwyn.

"Do you suppose--"  My voice was low.  A man close to me, with hands
in his pockets, hat on the back of his head, and his left cheek
lumpy, was looking at us appraisingly.  "Do you suppose anything will
happen at Shelby?  Nothing is happening here."

Selwyn's sigh of relief was long.  "If nothing happens here I'll
thank God.  To keep it out of the papers would have been impossible.
Stay here while I see if there is a decent hotel."  He looked around
speculatively.  In the distance a man could be seen on horseback
coming down the road which wound from the top of a mountain to the
valley below, while at our left a covered ox-cart, a farm wagon, and
a Ford car were waiting for their owners.  Nothing in which we could
ride, however, was seemingly in sight.  A sudden desire to go
somewhere, do something, possessed me.  The day was mild, and the air
clean and clear and calling, and the sunshine brilliant.  It was a
beautiful day.  We must go somewhere.

For weeks I had been face to face with cruel conditions of life, had
seen hardships and denials and injustices, and dreary monotony of
days, and I wanted for a while to get away from it all, to breathe
deep of that which would renew and reinforce and revitalize; wanted
to be a child again, and, with Selwyn as my playmate, wander along
the winding road with faces to the sun, and hearts of hope, and faith
that God would not forget, and the world would yet be well.  If
nobody was going to do anything to us, if we were not needed to play
a part, the hours ahead could be ours.  The train on which we were to
return did not leave until three-thirty.  I looked at my watch.  It
was ten-thirty.

"Get something from somebody."  My hand made movement toward the men
about us and then in the direction of the shacks and sheds and cabins
of the negroes, scattered at wide intervals apart from the village,
which consisted of a long, rambling street with a white frame church
at one end, a gray one at the other, a court-house in the middle, and
a school-house at its back.  "Get a buggy and something you can drive
and let's have a holiday--just by ourselves.  What is that house over
there?"

I pointed to a square, old-fashioned red-brick building set well back
from the road and surrounded by great oak-trees, and smaller ones of
birch and maple and spruce and pine, and shrubs of various kinds.  It
was Claxon's one redemption.  Shading my eyes, I read the tin sign
swinging in the wind from a rod nailed at right angles to a sagging
post at its gateless yard.  "Swan Tavern."  The name thrilled.  I was
no longer a twentieth-century person, but a lady of other days, and
if a coach and four with outriders had appeared I would have stepped
in it with delight.  It did not appear, nor was Selwyn suddenly in
knee-breeches and buckles and satin coat and brocaded vest.  Not even
my imagination could so clothe him.  His practicality recalled me.

"I'll go over and find out what sort of place it is, and see if we
can get anything to ride in.  Perhaps this man can tell me.  Wait
here."  He put out his hand as if to prevent my speaking first to the
man.  I didn't intend to speak to him.

The man could tell him nothing.  He lived seven miles back and had
come to the station to meet a friend who had failed to appear.  There
were teams in the neighborhood that might be gotten.  Swan Tavern
didn't have any.  Used to, but most people nowaday, specially
drummers, wanted automobiles, and old Colonel Tavis, who owned the
place, wouldn't let an automobile come in his yard.  Perhaps Major
Bresee might let him have his horse and buggy.  The person who gave
the information changed his quid of tobacco from his left to his
right cheek and, spitting on the ground below the plank-loose
platform on which we were standing, pointed to a one-room
office-building down the street, then again surveyed us.  Two or
three men across the road came over, and two or three others hanging
around the station drew nearer and nodded to us, while both of the
boys, hands in their pants pockets, stared up at Selwyn as if
something new had indeed come to town.

From each of the group, now uncomfortably close to us, the impression
radiated that the right of explanation was theirs as to why we should
appear in Claxon with no apparent purpose for so appearing.
Seemingly we were not the sort who usually applied for aid to the
minister of the little town, known far and near for his matrimonial
activities, and just what we wanted was a matter concerning which
they were entitled to enlightenment.  They said nothing, but looked
much.  Frowningly, Selwyn bit his lip.  Presently he spoke.

"Can you tell me where I can get a horse and buggy for a few hours?"
He looked first at one man and then another.  "We have to wait here
for friends who will return with us on the three-thirty train, and
we'd like to see something of the country round about here while
we're waiting.  Can we get lunch over there?  And what time do they
have it?"  His hand pointed to Swan Tavern.

"Don't have lunch.  Dinner's at twelve o'clock."  The man farthest
away took his hands from the pockets of his pants and put them in
those of his coat.  "I reckon you can get Major Bresee's horse and
buggy if he ain't using 'em.  The horse ain't much, but it moves
along.  Want me to see if I can get him for you?"

"I would be very much obliged."  Selwyn turned to me.  "Shall we have
the buggy sent over to us while we see about lunch?" he asked, but
not waiting for an answer spoke again to the man whose kindly offices
he had accepted.  "If you can get anything we can ride in
comfortably, bring it over, will you?  And bring it as soon as you
can."

Lifting his hat, he turned from the staring strangers and helped me
down the three rickety steps that led to the road across which we had
to go before turning in to the tree-lined lane that led to the quaint
old tavern; and as we walked we were conscious of being watched with
speculation that would become opinion as soon as we were out of
hearing.

Picking our way through the mud, we soon reached the house, and at
its door an untidy old gentleman, with the grace and courtesy of the
days that are no more, greeted us as a gracious host greets warmly
welcomed guests, and we were led to a roaring fire and told to make
ourselves at home.

As he left the room to call his wife I touched Selwyn's arm and
pointed to an open book on an old desk near the window at which
travelers were supposed to register.  "Ask him if he can't have a
lunch fixed for us to take with us.  Then you won't have to register
or explain.  Tell him anything will do, and please to hurry!"

He did not hurry.   Nobody hurries in Claxon.  It was twelve o'clock
before the buggy was at the door, a basket of lunch in it, and
good-bys said; and giving a last look around the big, dusty, sunshiny
room with cobwebs on its walls and furniture in it that would have
made a collector sick with desire, I walked out on the porch, and
with me went the three dogs which had been stretched in front of the
big log fire.  Together we went down the steps.

Tucking a robe around me, the old gentleman nodded to Selwyn.  "Don't
let your wife get cold, suh, and don't stay out too long.  The sun's
deceiving and it ain't as warm as it looks."  Being deaf, he spoke
loudly.  "The battlefields are to your left about half a mile from
the creek with a water-oak hanging over it, and nigh about two miles
from here.  You can't miss 'em.  Over yonder"--he pointed to the top
of a modest mountain--"is where we had a signal station during the
war.  The view from there can't be beat this side of heaven.  I ain't
sure the battlements of heaven itself--"

But our horse had started and Selwyn, looking at me, laughed.
"Battlefields have their interest, but not to-day.  It's nice, isn't
it, to be--just by ourselves and all the world away?  Are you all
right?  I have orders to keep my wife warm."

"She's very warm.  Where are we going?"  I turned from Selwyn's eyes.

"I don't know.  Don't care.  It is enough that we are to be together."

"Wouldn't you feel better if you said 'I told you so'?  Any one would
want to say it.  It was a pretty long trip to take unnecessarily, and
as we haven't been of service we needn't have come.  I'm sorry--"

"I'm not."  Selwyn, paying no attention to the horse, who had turned
into the road leading to the top of the mountain, kept his eyes still
on me.  "I don't deserve what has come of our venture, but I shall
enjoy it the more, perhaps, because of undeserving.  It is just 'we
two' to-day.  I get so mortally tired of people--"

"I don't.  I like people.  Perhaps if I only knew one sort I would
get tired of them.  I used to think my people were those I was born
among, but I'm beginning to glimpse a little that my family is much
larger than I thought, and that all people are my people.  Still--"
I laughed and drew in a deep breath of pine-scented air.

"Still--?"  Selwyn waited.

"It _is_ nice to get away from everybody now and then, and be with
just you.  I mean--"  Certainly I had not meant to say what I had
said, and, provoked at my thoughtless revealing, at the chance it
would give Selwyn to say what I did not want him to say, I stopped
abruptly, then quickly spoke again.  "Why don't you make the horse go
faster?  We'll never get to Signal Hill at this rate.  He's crawling."

"What difference does it make whether we get anywhere or not?  I
don't want to get anywhere.  To be going with you is enough.  You are
a cruel person, Danny, or you would not make me go so long a way
alone."

"I am not making you go alone.  It is you who are making me.  I am
much more alone than you."  Again I stopped and stared ahead.  What
was the matter with me that I should be saying things I must not say?
In the silence of earth and air I wondered if Selwyn could hear the
quick, thick beating of my heart.

On the winding road no one was in sight, and from our elevation a
view of the tiny town below could be glimpsed through the bare
branches of the trees of the little mountain we were ascending; and
about us was no sound save the crunch of the buggy-wheels on the
gravel road, and the tread of the slow-moving horse.  It was a new
world we were in--a kindly, simple, strifeless world of peace and
plenty, and calm and content, and the crowded quarters close to
Scarborough Square, with their poignant problems of sin and
suffering, of scant beauty and weary joy, seemed a life apart and
very far away.  And the world of the Avenue, the world of handsome
homes and deadening luxuries, of social exactions and selfish
indulgence, of much waste and unused power, seemed also far away, and
just Selwyn and I were together in a little world of our own.

"We might as well have this out, Danny."  An arm on the back of the
buggy, Selwyn looked at me, and in his eyes was that which made me
understand he was right.  We might as well have it out.  "For three
years you have refused to marry me, and now you say you are more
alone than I.  We've been beating the air, been evading something;
refusing to face the thing that is keeping us apart.  What is it?
You know my love for you.  But yours for me--  You have never told me
that you loved me.  Look at me, Danny."  He turned my face toward
him.  "Tell me.  Is it because you do not love me that you will not
marry me?"

"No."  A bird on a bough ahead of us piped to another across the
road, and as mate to mate was answered.  "It is not because I do not
love you--Selwyn.  I do--love you."  The crushing of my hands hurt,
but he said nothing.  "I shall never marry unless I marry you--but I
am not sure--we should be happy."

"Why not?  Is there anything that man could do I would not do to make
you happy?  All that I am or may be, all that I have to give--and of
love I have much--is for you.  What is it, then, you fear?  Your
freedom?  I should never interfere with that."

I shook my head.  "It is not my freedom.  What I fear is our lack of
sympathy with, our lack of understanding of, certain points of view.
We look at life so differently."

"But certainly a woman doesn't expect a man to think just as she
thinks, to feel as she feels, to see as she sees, nor does he expect
her to see and feel and think his way in all things.  As individuals
they--"

"Of course I wouldn't expect, wouldn't want my husband to feel toward
all things as I feel.  I would not want a stupid husband with no mind
of his own!  You know very well it is nothing of that sort.  If,
however, we cared not at all for the same sort of books; if we saw
little alike in art and literature, in music or morals, in science or
religion; if the same interests did not appeal; if to the same
impulse there was no response--we could hardly hope for genuine
comradeship.  In most of those things we are together, but life is so
much bigger than things, and in our ideas of life and what to do with
it we are pretty far apart."

"Are we?  Are you very sure?  Are you perfectly sure, Danny, that we
are so very far apart?"

Something warm and sweet, so tempestuously sweet that it terrified,
for a moment surged, and, half-blinded, I looked up at him.  "Do you
mean--?"  My fingers interlocked with his.

"That I would like to live in Scarborough Square?"  He smiled
unsteadily and shook his head.  "No, I wouldn't know how to live
there.  I wouldn't fit in.  I am just myself.  You are a dozen selves
in one.  But I am beginning to see dimly what you see clearly.
Concerning my selfishness there is certainly nothing hazy.  The walls
around my house have been pretty high, and perhaps they should come
down.  You have much to teach me.  I have a habit of questioning--"

"So have I.  All thinking people question.  But in spite of my
questioning, perhaps because of it, I know now that my life--must
count.  It isn't mine to use just for myself, or in the easiest way.
If there's anything to it, I've got to share it.  Down in Scarborough
Square I've been seeing myself in the old life, and when I go back to
it I cannot--keep silent concerning what I have learned.  I think
perhaps we've failed--the men and women of our world even more
discouragingly than the men and women of the worlds I've learned to
know.  As your wife you might not care to have me say--"

I stopped, silenced by the view which lay revealed before us, then I
gave a little cry.  Peak after peak of tree-filled mountains raised
their heads to a sky of brilliant blue whose foam-clouds curled and
tumbled in fantastic shapes, and in the valley below was the silence
and peace of a place unpeopled.  I turned to Selwyn, and long
resistance yielding to that for which there was no words, I let him
see the fulness of surrender.  For a long moment we did not speak,
then I drew away from his arms.  "We must get out.  It is a heavenly
vision.  I want--"

Getting down from the high, old-fashioned buggy, Selwyn held his arms
out to me, lifted me in them to the ground.  "I, too, want here--my
heavenly vision."  It was difficult to hear him.  Drawing my face to
his, he kissed me again.  "You have told me that you loved me.  _You
are mine and I am going to marry you_."

He turned his head and listened, in his face something of the old
impatience.  The soft whir of an automobile broke the silence of the
sun-filled, breeze-blown air, and I made effort to draw away from
Selwyn's arms.  "Some one is coming," I said, under my breath.
"Shall we go on or stay here?"

"Stay here.  Why not?"  Frowningly, Selwyn for a moment waited, then,
with his hand holding mine, we walked nearer the edge of the
mountain's plateau and looked at the ribbon-like road that wound up
to its top.  The noise of the engine was more distinct than the car,
but gradually the latter could be seen clearly, and presently three
figures were distinguished in it.

"They'll have to pass us.  There's no other way."  Words not
utterable were smothered under Selwyn's breath.  "A few more minutes
and they'll be going down the mountain, however, and will soon be out
of sight.  Are you cold?  Do you mind staying up here for a little
while--with all the world away?"

"No.  I want to stay."  I leaned forward.  In the machine, now near
enough to see that two people were in its back seat and the driver
alone in front, there was also leaning forward; then hurried
movement, then the man behind got up and waved his hat, and the girl
beside him got up also.

Slowly Selwyn turned to me, in his eyes rebellious protest.  "It is
Mr. and Mrs. Cressy, and there's no way of getting rid of them.
They've motored over instead of waiting for the train.  Have they no
sense, no understanding?"

"And they think they've been so considerate in hurrying to us!"  The
tone of my voice was that of Selwyn's.  "Is there nothing we can do?"

"Nothing--unless we tell them to wait here while we go over to
Shelby.  The reward of virtue was never to my taste!  Our one day
together--"

He turned away, but quickly I followed him; in his hand slipped mine.
"I'm sorry, Selwyn--but there will be another day--be many days."



CHAPTER XXVI

Many undeserved blessings have come to me in life and have made me
temporarily meek and humble, but when punishments come which are
unwarranted, meekness and humility (of which I have never possessed a
sufficient amount, inasmuch as I am a person without money)
disappear, and I am not a lowly-minded lady.  I was punished for my
part in helping Tom and Madeleine get married by action of Mrs. Swink
that was as astounding as it was unexpected.  Mrs. Swink is a wily
woman.  She has little education and large understanding of human
nature.  She knows when she is beaten.  In a woman such knowledge is
unusual.

The day after our return from Claxon she appeared in my sitting-room
in Scarborough Square and, throwing her arms around me, kissed me
three times.  She attempted a fourth kiss, which I prevented, and
followed the kisses with an outburst of tears that was proportionate
to her person in volume and abundance.  Feeling as one does who is
overtaken by a shower when the sun is shining, I made effort to draw
away, but my head was again pressed on her broad bosom, and with
fresh tears I was thanked for my kindness in chaperoning her daughter
on her matrimonial adventure; an adventure which would have subjected
her to much criticism had I not been along.  Also Mr. Thorne.  The
unexpectedness of these thanks was disconcerting and, with an
expression that was hardly appreciative of the pose she was assuming,
I finally rescued myself from her arms and, drawing off, looked at
her for explanation.  Mrs. Swink is not a person I care to have kiss
me.

"Oh, my dear, you do not know the anguish of a mother's heart!  You
couldn't know it unless you were a mother, and when you are one I
hope your heart won't be wrung as mine has been wrung!  But poor,
dear Mr. Swink always said bygones ought to be bygones, and now
they're married I suppose it's a bygone and I ought not to let my
heart be wrung; but it is, and I've been thinking about poor, dear
Mr. Swink all day."  She took her seat and, wiping her eyes and nose,
began to cry again.  "Oh, my dear, you don't know the anguish of a
mother's heart!"

"Would you like a fresh handkerchief?" I asked.  The one in Mrs.
Swink's hand was too wet for further use.  I started toward my
bedroom door, but she shook her head.

"I've got two or three, I think.  I'm so easily affected when my
heart is wrung that I have to keep a good many on hand.  But I had to
come and thank you.  It would have been so dreadful for them to have
gone off alone.  It makes it very different to have had you and Mr.
Thorne along.  Yes, indeed--a mother's heart--"

What was she up to?  Fearing that my face would indicate too clearly
that I was not deceived by her change of tactics, I shielded it from
the fire by the screen, close to the chair in which I sat, and made
effort to wait politely, if not with inward patience, for what I
would discover if I only gave her time.  Something had happened I did
not understand.  I had forgotten the letter Selwyn had sent her.

"They went away an hour ago on their wedding-trip."  A fresh
handkerchief was drawn from the heaving bosom for the fresh tears
which again flowed.  "My poor head is all in a whirl.  So many things
had to be done, though Madeleine wouldn't take but one trunk and no
maid, though I told her she could have Freda, and there are so many
things that have got to be attended to before they get back that I
don't know where to begin, and I had to come down here right away and
thank you the first thing.  And of course she will have to have a
trousseau, for her poor, dear father wouldn't like it if she didn't
have one, and the best that could be bought.  He was very particular,
her father was, and I know he would thank you, too, if he could.  And
there will have to be a reception, and it's about that, and a few
other things, I felt I must talk to you this morning, being you are
responsible, in a way, for the marriage--"

"I am nothing of the sort.  You are responsible for its being the
sort of marriage it was.  I went with them because--"

"Yes, indeed, I understand!  Tom says it was splendid in you and I
had to come and thank you.  Everybody will take it so differently
when they know you and Mr. Thorne were along.  I think it was noble
in Mr. Thorne when his poor brother wanted so much to marry
Madeleine.  I feel it was such a narrow escape--her not marrying him.
I've been hearing all sorts of sad things about him lately.  Real
sad.  I was deceived in him."

"Who deceived you?"

I might as well not have asked the question.  No attention was paid
to it.

"He was such a dear boy, Harrie was.  So handsome and his family so
well known, and he was so in love with Madeleine that I was deceived
in him.  Yes indeed, I was deceived.  A woman is so helpless where
men are concerned."

"She isn't a bit helpless unless she prefers to be.  A great many
women do.  Had you made any inquiries concerning Harrie's character?"

"In my day it wasn't expected of a woman to make inquiries."  Mrs.
Swink's voice was that of righteous reserve.  "It's very hard on a
mother to ask questions about character and things like that.  I knew
of the Thorne family very well, and of the Thorne house, which I
thought Harrie would live in until he and Madeleine could build a
moderner one, and--  Oh no, my child, you don't know the anguish of a
mother's heart!  You don't know!"  Tears not of anguish, but of
blighted ambition, caused the flow of words to cease temporarily, and
light came to me.  Selwyn's letter had done the work.

Harrie being eliminated, the fat old hypocrite was trimming her sails
with hands hardened from long experience.  Her embraces and gratitude
were a veer in a new direction.  In a measure I was to be held to
account for the present situation; in a sense to be social sponsor
for Mrs. Thomas Cressy.  A homeless Harrie, disapproved of by family
and friends, would not have made a desirable son-in-law, and I had
been seized upon as the most available opportunity within reach to
bring her daughter's marriage desirably before the public.  Mrs.
Swink had seemingly little understanding of the little use society
has for people who do not entertain.  I do not entertain.

Nothing was due her, but hoping if I promised help she might go away,
I suggested the possibility of Kitty's entertaining Tom and Madeleine
on their return from their wedding-trip, and at the suggestion the
beady little eyes brightened, and immediately I was deluged with
details of the reception she had determined to give the bride and
groom, implored for help in making out the list of guests to be
invited, and begged to be one of the receiving party.  The last I
declined.

When at last she was safely gone I locked the door and sprayed myself
with a preparation that is purifying.  I was dispirited.  There are
times when the world seems a weary place and certain of its people
beyond hope or pardon.


Last night I had a talk with Mrs. Mundy.  She had seen the girl I
overheard speaking of an ill man who was being nursed by some one she
knew, and this girl had admitted that the "some one" was Etta Blake.
By another name she had been living in Lillie Pierce's world.  For
the past two weeks, however, she had been away from it.  When Mrs.
Mundy told me, something within gave way, and my head went down in my
arms, which fell upon the table, and I held them back no longer--the
aching tears which came at last without restraint.  "The pity--oh,
the pity of it!" was all that I could say, and wisely Mrs. Mundy let
me cry it out--the pain and horror which were obsessing me.  Hand on
my head, she smoothed my hair as does one's mother when her child is
greatly troubled, and for a while neither of us spoke.

I had feared for some time what I knew now was true, and it was not
for Etta alone that pity possessed me.  Somehow, for all young
girlhood, for the weak and wayward, the bold and brazen, the
unprotected and helpless, I seemed somehow responsible, I and other
women like me, who were shielded from their temptations and ignorant
of the dangers to which they were exposed; and Etta was but one of
many who had gone wrong, perhaps, because I had not done right.
Something was so wrong with life when such things could happen, as
through all ages had happened; things which men said were impossible
to prevent.  Perhaps they are, but women are different from men in
that they attempt the impossible.  When they understand, this, too,
must be attempted--

After a while Mrs. Mundy began to tell me what she had learned.  It
was an old story.  The girl who told her of Etta was a friend of the
latter's and had been a waitress in the same restaurant in which Etta
was cashier.  It was at this restaurant that Harrie met her.

"She was crazy to think he meant to marry her," the girl had told
Mrs. Mundy, "but at first she did think it.  For some time he was
just nice to her, taking her to ride in his automobile, and out to
places where he was not apt to meet any one he knew, and then--then--"

"She doesn't blame Harrie, though.  That is, at first she didn't.
She was that dead in love with him she would have gone with him
anywhere, but after a while, when she found out the sort he was,
she--cursed him.  It was about the child they had a split."

"Was it born here?"  I was cold and moved closer to the fire.

Mrs. Mundy shook her head.  "He sent her to a hospital out of town,
but when she came back with the child he told her she would have to
send it away somewhere, put it in some place, or he'd quit her.  He
seemed to hate the sight of it.  It was on account of the child they
had a fuss.  Etta wouldn't give it up.  She can be a little fury when
she's mad, the girl said, and they had an awful row and he went off
somewhere and stayed four months.  She tried to get work, but each
time some one told about her and she was turned off because--of the
child.  At one place one of the bosses tried to take some liberty
with her and she threw an ink-bottle at him and he drove her away.
She knew there wasn't any straight way left to her after that unless
she starved or went in a rescue place.  She tried to get in one and
take the baby with her, but it was full, and then, too, she kept
hoping she could get work.  Then the baby got sick and needed what
she couldn't give it, and after a while she gave up.  She got a woman
to look after the child, promised to pay her well, and went down into
Lillie Pierce's world.  Since the day she went she has never been out
except to see the baby, until two weeks ago, when she moved into a
decent place and took two rooms.  Harrie had come back to her."

"How old is the child?"

"Ten months.  She never intended it to know anything of its mother.
She hoped she would die before it was old enough to understand.  It's
a little girl.  Etta is eighteen."

The room grew still and, getting up, Mrs. Mundy put more coal on the
fire, made blaze spring from it, warm and red.  I waited for her to
go on.

"It seems like Mr. Harrie can't stay away from her, the girl says.
He never sees the child, though.  The other woman, who's married and
has children of her own, still keeps it for her.  She's named Banch."
Mrs. Mundy looked up.  "I've found where the Banches live.  It's only
two squares from where Etta is now living."

"But Harrie?"  I turned off the light behind me.

"He is with Etta.  He was taken ill on Christmas night.  Except the
doctor, no one knows he is with her.  He would have been dead by now
had it not been for Etta, the doctor says.  He had pneumonia.  Mr.
Guard and Mr. Crimm have gone to see him to-night, to see when he can
be moved away."

"And Etta--what will become of her?"

Mrs. Mundy looked into the fire.  "What can become of any girl like
that but to go back to the old life?  She's an outcast forever."

"And he--"  I got up.  All the repression of past ages was breaking
into revolt.  "He will go home and feed on the leaven of Pharisees
and hypocrites, and later he will marry a girl of his world, and the
world that will give him welcome will keep Etta in her hell.  I
wonder sometimes that God doesn't give us up--we who call ourselves
clean and good!  We are a lot of cowards, most of us women, of
'fraid-cats and cowards!"

My hands made gesture, and, going to the window, I looked out,
ashamed of my outburst.  Beating one's head against the walls of
custom and convention accomplished nothing.  All sane people agreed
concerning the injustice of one person paying the price of the sin of
two people; all normal ones admitted that what was wicked in a woman
was wicked in a man, but agreement and admission were terms of
speech.  Translation into action would have meant a bigger price than
even sane and normal and righteous people were willing to pay.  Men
could hardly be blamed, but women should be, for the continuance of
old points of view.  Women are no longer ignorant or dependent, and
the time for silence and acceptance is past.  Perhaps the women of
Lillie Pierce's world are not so much to be despaired of as some of
mine and other sheltered worlds; the soulless, spineless, selfish
ones who cannot always justly draw their skirts aside, and yet do
draw them with eyebrows raised, and curling lips, and gesture that
means much.  I, too, have been a coward.   I, too, have been long
asleep.  But there were other women who had been making splendid
fight while I was wasting time, and at thought of them came courage,
and under my breath I prayed God to make it grow.

"You must bring Etta here."  I turned from the window.  "I want to
talk to her, to see if something can't be done.  Surely something can
be done!  She might get some rooms not far from here and take the
child to live with her.  Mr. Thorne will doubtless make his brother
go away.  Can you see her to-morrow and bring her here?"

Mrs. Mundy got up.  "You are dead tired and ought to go to bed.
Night before last you didn't sleep two hours, and I heard you up late
last night.  You mustn't take things too hard, Miss Dandridge."  She
put her warm hands on my cold ones.  "You're young, but for over
thirty years I have been looking life in the face, and I've learned a
lot that nothing but time can teach.  One of the things is that we
all ain't made in the same mold, and our minds and hearts ain't any
more alike than our bodies.  Every day we live we have to get in a
new supply of patience and politeness to keep from hitting out, at
times, at folks who don't see our way.  Some people ain't ever going
to look at things they don't want to see, or to listen to what they
don't want to hear, but there ain't as many people like that as you
think.  There's many a woman in this world to-day that God is proud
of; in the Homes and places what they're the head of, and on their
boards and things they are learning that all women are their kin, and
after a while they'll make other women understand.  I'll see Etta
to-morrow, and if she will come I will bring her to see you.  But
until Mr. Harrie is gone she won't come--won't leave him.  Sometimes
it seems a pity he didn't die.  Go to bed, Miss Dandridge! you are
all tired out."



CHAPTER XXVII

For two weeks Etta Blake refused to come to Mrs. Mundy's, refused to
see the latter when she went to see her, to see me when I went; but
yesterday she came to both of us.  Ten days ago Harrie was taken to
Selwyn's home and is now practically well.  Mr. Guard tells me he is
going away; going West.

I have seen Selwyn but twice since he learned where Harrie was found,
and then not alone.  Both times some one was here and he stayed but a
short while.  He has bitten dust of late and even with me he is incased
in a reserve that is impenetrable.  There has been no chance to mention
Harrie's name had he wished to do so.  I do not know that he will ever
mention it again.  Selwyn is the sort of person who rarely speaks of
painful or disgraceful things.

I was in my sitting-room when Mrs. Mundy came up with Etta.  As the
latter stood in the doorway prayer sprang in my heart that I would not
shrink, but the heritage of the ages was upon me, and for a half-minute
I could only think of her as one is taught to think--as a depraved,
polluted creature, hardly human, and then I saw she was a suffering,
sinful child, and I took her hands in mine and led her to the fire.

To see clearly, see without confusion, and with no blinding of
sentimental sympathy, but as woman should see woman, I had been trying
to face life frankly for some months past; yet when I saw Etta I
realized I had gone but a little way on the long and lonely road
awaiting if I were to do my part.  And then I remembered Harrie.  He
had gone back to the proudest, haughtiest home in town; and Etta--where
could Etta go?

Hatless, and in a shabby dress, with her short, dark, curly hair parted
on the side, she looked even younger than when I had first seen her,
but about her twisting mouth were lines that hardened it, and in her
opalescent eyes, which now shot flame and fire and now paled with
weariness, I saw that which made me know in bitter knowledge she was
old and could never again be young.  Youth and its rights for her were
gone beyond returning.

She would not sit down; grew rigid when I tried to make her.  "You want
to see me?"  She looked from me to Mrs. Mundy and back again to me.
"What do you want to see me about?  Why did you want me to come here?"

"We want to talk to you, to see what is best for you to do."  I spoke
haltingly.  It was difficult to speak at all with her eyes upon me.
They were strange eyes for a girl of eighteen.

"Best for me to do?"  She laughed witheringly and turned from the fire,
her hands twisting in nervous movements.  "There are only two things
ahead of me.  Death--or worse.  Which would you advise me--to do?"

Without waiting for answer the slight shoulders straightened and went
back.  Scorn, hate, bitterness were in her unconscious pose, and from
her eyes came fire.  "If you sent for me to preach you can quit before
you start.  There ain't anything you can do for me.  I'm done for.
What do people like you care what becomes of girls like us?  Maybe we
send ourselves to hell, but you see to it that we stay there.  You're
good at your job all right.  I hate you--you good women!  Hate you!"

I heard Mrs. Mundy's indrawn breath, saw her quick glance of shock and
distress, then I went over to Etta.  She was trembling with hot emotion
long repressed, and, as one at bay, she drew back, reckless, defiant,
and breathing unsteadily.

"I do not wonder that you hate us.  I am sorry--so sorry for you, Etta."

For a full minute she stared at me as if she had not heard aright and
the dull color in her face deepened into crimson, then with a spring
she was at the door, her face buried in her arms.  Leaning heavily
against it, she made convulsive effort to keep back sound.

"Sorry--oh, my God!"  In a heap she crumpled on the floor, her face
still hidden in her hands.  "I did not know--in all the world--anybody
was sorry.  You can't be sorry--I'm a--"

I motioned Mrs. Mundy to go out.  "Leave her with me," I said.  "Come
back presently, but leave her awhile with me."

Going over to the window, I stood beside it until the choking sobs grew
fainter and fainter, and then, turning away, I drew two chairs close to
the fire and told Etta to come and sit by me.  For a while neither of
us spoke, and when at last she tried to speak it was difficult to hear
her.

"I didn't mean to let go like that.  I wouldn't have done it if you
hadn't said--you were sorry.  You've no cause to be sorry for me.  I'm
not worth it.  I was crazy--to care as I cared.  I ought to have known
gentlemen like him don't marry girls like me, but I didn't have the
strength to--to make him leave me, or to go away myself.  And then one
day he told me it had to be a choice between him and the baby.  He
seemed to hate the sight of the baby.  He said I must send it away."
Swaying slightly, she caught herself against the side of the table
close to her, and again I waited.  "She's a delicate little thing, and
I couldn't put her in a place where I didn't know how they'd treat her.
He told me it had to be one or the other--and I'd rather he'd killed me
than made me say which one.  But I couldn't give the baby up.  She
needed me."

"And then--"  My voice, too, was low.

"He got mad and went away.  I thought I hated him, but I can't hate
him.  I've tried and I can't.  When he came back and found where I was
living--"  A long, low shiver came from the twisting lips.  "About five
weeks ago I moved to where he was taken sick.  And now--now he has gone
home again and I--"  She got up as if the torment of her soul made it
impossible for her to sit still, and again she faced me.  "It doesn't
matter what becomes of me.  What do rich people and good people and
people who could change things care about us?  And neither do they care
what we think of them, and specially of good women.  Do you suppose we
think you really believe in the Christ who did not stone us?  We don't.
We laugh at most Christians, spit at them.  We know you don't believe
in Him or you'd remember what He said."

She turned sharply.  Mrs. Mundy with Kitty behind her was at the door.
The latter hesitated, and, seeing it, Etta nodded to her.  "Come in.  I
won't hurt you.  You need not be afraid."

Speaking first to Etta, Kitty kissed me, and I saw she had come
up-stairs because she, too, was wondering if there was something she
could do.  Kitty is no longer the child she once was.  She is going,
some day, to be a brave and big and splendid woman.  At the window she
sat down, and as though she were not in the room Etta turned toward me.

"You said just now you wanted to help.  Wanting won't do that!"  She
snapped her fingers.  "You've got to stop wanting and will to do
something.  Men laugh at the laws men make, but we don't blame men like
we blame women who let their men be bad and then smile on them, marry
them, and pretend they do not know.  They do not want to know.  If you
made men pay the price you make us pay, the world would be a safer
place to live in.  Men don't do what women won't stand for."

Kitty leaned forward, and Etta, with twisting hands, looked at her and
then at Mrs. Mundy and then at me, and in her eyes was piteous appeal.
"There's no chance for me, but I've got a little baby girl.  What's
going to become of her?  In God's name, can't you do something to make
good women understand?  Make them know the awfulness--awfulness--"

Again the room grew still and presently, with dragging steps, Etta
turned toward the door.  Quickly I followed her.  She must not go.  I
had said nothing, gotten nowhere, and there was much that must be said
that something might be done.  To have her leave without some plan to
work toward would be loss of time.  She was but one of thousands of
bits of human wreckage, in danger herself and of danger to others, and
somebody must do something for her.  I put my hand on her shoulder to
draw her back and as I did so the door, half ajar, opened more widely.
Motionless, and as one transfixed, she stared at it wide-eyed, and into
her face crept the pallor of death.

Selwyn and Harrie were standing in the doorway.



CHAPTER XXVIII

Stumbling back as if struck, Harrie leaned against the door-frame,
and the hat in his hand dropped to the floor.  Selwyn, too, for a
half-minute drew back, then he came inside and spoke to Etta, and to
me, and to Mrs. Mundy, and to Kitty.  Pushing a chair close to the
fire, he took Harrie by the arm and led him to it.

"Sit down," he said, quietly.  "You'll be better in a minute."

Harrie had given Etta no sign of recognition, but the horror in his
once-handsome face, now white and drawn, told of his shock at finding
her with me, and fear and recoil weakened him to the point of
faintness.  In his effort to recover himself, to resist what might be
coming, he struggled as one for breath, but from him came no word, no
sound.

Infinite pity for Selwyn made it impossible for me to speak for a
moment, and before words would come Mrs. Mundy and Kitty had gone out
of the room and Selwyn had turned to Etta.

With shoulders again drawn back, and eyes dark with fear and
defiance, she looked at him.  "Why have you come here?" she asked.
"What are you going to do?  You've taken him home and left me to go
back to where he drove me.  Isn't that enough?  Why have you brought
him here?"

"To ask Miss Heath to say what he must do.  That is why I have come."
Pushing the trembling girl in a chair behind Harrie's, Selwyn looked
up at me.  "You must decide what is to be done, Dandridge.  This is a
matter beyond a man's judgment.  I do not seem able to think clearly.
You must tell me what to do."

"I?  Oh no!  It is not for me.  Surely you cannot mean that I must
tell you--"  The blood in my body surged thickly, and I drew back,
appalled that such decision should be laid upon me, such
responsibility be mine.  "What is it you want--of me?"

"To tell me--what Harrie must do."  In Selwyn's face was the
whiteness of death, but his voice was quiet.  "I did not know, until
David Guard told me, that there was a child, and that Harrie was its
father, and that because of the child Etta would not go away as I had
tried to make her.  I did not know she had no father or brother to
see that, as far as possible, her wrong is righted.  I want you to
forget that Harrie is my brother and remember the girl, and tell
me--what he must do."

From the chair in which Harrie sat came a lurching movement, and I
saw his body bend forward, saw his elbows on his knees, his face
buried in his hands, and then I heard a sudden sob, a soft, little
cry that stabbed, and Etta was on the floor beside him, crouching at
his feet, holding his hands to her heart, and uttering broken,
foolish words and begging him to speak to her, to tell her that he
would marry her--that he would marry her and take her away.

"Harrie--oh, Harrie!"  Faintly we could hear the words that came
stumblingly.  "Could we be married, Harrie, and go away, oh, far
away, where nobody knows?  I will work for you--live for you--die for
you, if need be, Harrie!  We could be happy.  I would try--oh, I
would try so hard to make you happy, and the baby would have a name.
You would not hate her if we were married.  She was never to know she
had a mother, she was to think her real mother was dead and that I
was just some one who loved her.  But if we were married I would not
have to die to her.  Tell me--oh, tell me, Harrie, that we can be
married--and go away--where nobody knows!"

But he would tell her nothing.  With twitching shoulders and head
turned from her he tried to draw his hands from those which held his
in piteous appeal, and presently she seemed to understand, and into
her face came a ghastly, shuddering smile, and slowly she got up and
drew a deep breath.

As she stood aside Harrie, with a sudden movement, was on his feet
and at the door.  His hand was on the knob and he tried to open the
door, but instantly Selwyn was by him, and with hold none too gentle
he was thrust back into the room.

"You damned coward!"  Selwyn's voice was low.  "She is the mother of
your child, and you want to quit her; to run, rather than pay your
price!  By God!  I'll see you dead before you do!"

Again the room grew still.  The ticking of the clock and the beat of
raindrops on the windowpanes mingled with the soft purring of the
fire's flames, and each waited, we knew not for what; and then Etta
spoke.

"But you, too, would have to pay--if he were made to pay--the price."
She looked at Selwyn.  "It is not fair that you should pay.  I will
go away--somewhere.  It does not matter about the baby or me.  Thank
you, but--  Good-by.  I'm going--away."

Before I could reach her, hold her back, she was out of the room and
running down the steps and the front door had closed.  Mrs. Mundy
looked up as I leaned over the banister.  "It is better to leave her
alone to-day," she said, and I saw that she was crying.  "We can see
her to-morrow.  She had better be by herself for a while."

Back in the room Selwyn and I looked at each other with white and
troubled faces.  We had bungled badly and nothing had been done.

"Come to-morrow night.  I must see David Guard, must see Etta again,
before I--  Come to-morrow and I will tell you.  I must be sure."  I
turned toward Harrie, but he had gone into the hall.  Quickly my
hands went out to Selwyn, and for a long moment he held them in his,
then, without speaking, he turned and left me.



CHAPTER XXIX

I know I should not think too constantly about it.  I try not to, but
I cannot shake off the shock, the horror of Etta's death.  Selwyn
inclosed the note she wrote him in the letter he sent me just before
leaving with Harrie for the West, but he did not come to see me
before he left.

When I try to sleep the words of Etta's note pass before me like
frightened children, crying--crying, and then again these children
sing a dreary chant, and still again the chant becomes a chorus which
repeats itself until I am unnerved; and they seem to be calling me,
these little children, and begging me to help make clean and safe the
paths that they must tread.  I am just one woman.  What can I do?

I knew Etta was dead before Selwyn received her note.  Mrs. Banch,
the woman who kept the child for her, came running to Mrs. Mundy the
day after Etta had been to see me, and incoherently, sobbingly, with
hands twisting under her apron, she told us of finding Etta, with the
baby in her arms, lying on her bed, as she thought, asleep.  But she
was not asleep.  She was dead.

"She had done it as deliberate as getting ready to go on a long
journey," the woman had sobbed.  "Everything was fixed and in its
place, and after bathing and dressing the baby in a clean gown, she
wrote on a piece of paper that all of its clothes were for my little
girl, and that she wouldn't do what she was doing if there was any
other way."

With a fresh outburst of tears, the woman handed me a half-sheet of
note-paper.  "Bury us as we are," it read.  "I am taking the baby
with me.--Etta."

"We will come with you."  Mrs. Mundy, who had gotten out her hat and
coat to go to see Etta before Mrs. Banch came in, hurriedly put them
on, while I went for mine, and together we followed the woman to the
small and shabby house in the upper part of which Etta had been
living for some weeks past; the lower part being occupied by an old
shoemaker and his wife who had been kind to her; and as we entered
the room where the little mother and her baby lay I did not try to
keep them back--the tears that were too late.

"Last night I was standing in the door when she came by with a letter
in her hand."  As Mrs. Banch talked, she was still quivering from the
shock of her discovery, and her words came brokenly.  "On her way
back from mailing it I asked her to come in and set with me, but she
wouldn't do it; she said she was going to take the baby with her to
spend the night, as she didn't want to be by herself; and, going
up-stairs, she wrapped her up good and took her away with her.  I
don't know why, but I felt worried all last night, and this morning I
couldn't get down to nothing 'til I ran around to see how she was and
how the baby was, and when I went up in her room--" The woman's
work-worn hands were pressed to her breast.  "God--this world is a
hard place for girls who sin!  It don't seem to matter about men, but
women--"  Presently she raised her head and looked at us.  "I never
seen a human being what had her spirit for enduring.  She paid her
price without whining, but something must have happened what she
couldn't stand.  She had a heart if she was--if she was--"

Two days later, as quietly as her life had ended, Etta's body, with
her baby on its breast, was put into the ground, and mingled with
David Guard's voice as he read the service for the dead was the
far-off murmur of city noises, the soft rise and fall of city sounds.
With Mrs. Mundy and Mrs. Banch, the old shoemaker and his wife, I
stood at the open grave and watched the earth piled into a mound that
marked a resting-place at last for a broken body and a soul no one
had tried to reach that it might save, but I did not hear the beating
of the clods of clay, nor the twittering of the birds in the trees,
nor the wind in their tops.  I heard instead Etta's cry to Kitty and
to me: "In God's name, can't somebody do something to make good women
understand!"

It is these words that beat into my brain at night; these and the
words I did not speak in time and which, on the next day, were too
late.  The note she sent Selwyn also keeps me awake.


"I am going," she wrote, "so the thought of me will not make you
afraid.  You tried to help me, but there isn't any help for girls
like me.  I am taking the baby with me.  I want to be sure she will
be safe.  It would be too hard for her, the fight she'd have to make.
I can't leave her here alone.                                ETTA."


Last night David Guard came in for a few minutes.  Leaning back in a
big chair, he half closed his eyes and in silence watched the flames
of the fire, and, seeing he was far away in thought, I went on with
the writing of the letter I had put aside when he came in.  I always
know when he is tired and worn, and I have learned to say nothing, to
be as silent as he when I see that the day's work has so wearied him
he does not wish to talk.  At other times we talk much--talk of life
and its possibilities, of old cults and new philosophies, of books
and places; of the endless struggles of men like himself to be
intellectually honest and spiritually free.  But oftenest we speak of
the people around us, the people on whom the injustices of a selfish
social system fall most heavily; and among them, sharing their
hardships, understanding their burdens, recognizing their limitations
and weaknesses, leading and directing them, he has found life in
losing it, and it now has meaning for him that is bigger and finer
than the best that earth can give.

Presently he stirred, drew a long breath as one awaking, but when he
spoke he did not turn toward me.

"I saw Mr. Thorne the night before he left with Harrie for his
friend's ranch in Arizona.  He is going to give him another chance,
and it's pretty big of him to do it, but I doubt if anything will
come of it.  Harrie belongs to a type of humanity beyond awakening to
a realization of moral degeneracy; a type that believes so
confidently in the divine right of class privilege that it believes
little else.  Harrie's failure to appreciate the hideousness of
certain recent experiences has made them all the more keenly felt by
his brother.  I have rarely seen a man suffer as the latter has
suffered in the past few days, but unless I am mistaken--"

The pen in my hand dropped upon the desk, and for a while I did not
speak.  Then I got up and went toward David Guard, who had also
risen.  "You mean--"  The words died in my throat.

"That he is beginning to understand why you came to Scarborough
Square; to grasp the necessity of human contact for human
interpretation.  He, too, is seeing himself, his life, his world,
from the viewpoint of Scarborough Square, and what he sees gives
neither peace nor pride nor satisfaction.  He will never see so
clearly as you, perhaps, but certain cynicisms, certain intolerances,
certain indifferences and endurances will yield to keener perception
of the necessity for new purposes in life."  He held out his hand.
"He needs you very much.  I've got to go.  Good-by."

For a long time I sat by the fire and watched it die.  Was David
Guard right, or had it been in vain, the venture that had brought me
to Scarborough Square?  I had told Selwyn I had come that I might see
from its vantage-ground the sort of person I was and what I was doing
with life; but it was also in the secret hope that he, too, might see
the kindred of all men to men, the need of each for each, that I had
come.  If together we could stand between those of high and low
degree, between the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, with
hands outstretched to both, and so standing bring about, perhaps, a
better understanding of each other, then my coming would have been
worth while.  But would we ever so stand? All that I had hoped for
seemed as dead as the ashes on the hearth.  I had brought him pain
and humiliation, drawn back, without intention, curtains that hid
ugly, cruel things, and for him Scarborough Square would mean forever
bitter memories of bitter revealing.  I had failed.  I had tried, and
I had failed, and I could hold out no longer.

Getting up, I pressed my hands to my heart to still triumphant
throbbing.  It had won, I did not hate his house.  I hated its walls.
But I could no longer live without him.  I would marry him when he
came back.



CHAPTER XXX

My hands in his, Selwyn looked long at me, then again drew me to him,
again raised my face to his.  "A thousand times I've asked.  A
thousand times could give myself no answer.  Why did you wire me to
come back, Danny?"

"You were staying too long."

He smiled.  "No; it was not that.  There was something else.  What
was it?"

"I wanted to see you."

He shook his head.  "What was it?  Why did you send for me?"

"To--tell you I would marry you whenever you wish me to--"

His face whitened and the grip of his hands hurt.  Presently he spoke
again.  "But there was something else.  You had other reasons.
Surely between us there is to be complete and perfect understanding.
What is it, Danny?"

I drew away and motioned him to sit beside me on the sofa.  In the
firelit room faint fragrance of the flowers with which he kept it
filled crept to us, and around it we both glanced as if its spirit
were not intangible; and at unspoken thought his hands again held
mine.

"You sent for me--"  He leaned toward me.

"Because I heard--an unbelievable thing.  David Guard tells me--you
have sold--your house.  I can think of nothing else.  Tell me it is
not true, Selwyn!  Surely it is not true!"

"It is true."

With a little cry my fingers interlaced with his and words died on my
lips.  As quietly as if no fight had been fought, no sleepless nights
endured, no surrender made at cost of pride beyond computing, he
answered me, but in his face was that which made me turn my face
away, and in silence I clung to him.  The room grew still, so still
we could hear each other's breathing, quick and unsteady, then again
I looked up at him.

"But why, Selwyn?  Why did you sell your house?"

"You would not be happy in it.  You do not care for it.  I am ready
now to live--wherever you wish."

"But I am ready, too, to live--where you wish.  Don't you see it does
not matter where one lives?  What matters is one must be very
sure--one cannot live apart, and that one's spirit must have chance.
Why did you not tell me, Selwyn?  Why did you do this without letting
me know?"

"You would have told me not to do it; would not have consented.
There was no other way to be sure that I was willing--to do my part.
I know now there is something to be done, know I must no longer live
behind high walls."

"But the house will be needed when the walls come down!  It is not
where one lives, but how, that counts.  You must not sell your house."

"But I have sold it--"  Something of the old impatience was in his
voice, then the frown faded.  "There was no other way--to be sure.
Were the walls down--  I did not think, perhaps, that walls could be
anywhere.  It is too late now.  The house was sold while I was away.
The papers will be signed next week."

Again the room grew still and I made effort to think quickly,
definitely.  I was not willing that Selwyn should make such sacrifice
for me.  I would let the sunshine into his house and love it when its
cold aloofness became friendly warmth, and together we could learn in
it what life would teach.  The house must not be sold, but how
prevent?  I bent my head down to the violets on my breast, drew in
deep breath.  Suddenly a thought came to me.  I looked up.

"When a man sells a piece of property doesn't his wife have to sign
the papers as well as himself?"

"She does."  Selwyn smiled.

"And the sale couldn't be consummated unless she signed them?"

"It could not.  You know the law."  Again he smiled.  "Not having a
wife--"

"But you will have--before those papers are ready to be signed.  I am
not going to sign them.  I mean--  Don't you see what I mean?"

"I'm not quite sure I do." Selwyn's voice was grave, uncertain.  "Is
it that--"

"We will have to be married next week and then you can tell the party
who wants your house that your wife does not wish it to be sold.  Put
the blame on me.  It would be disappointing to many people if there
was not something, even about my marriage, for which they could
criticize me.  You mustn't sell the house, Selwyn.  That is why I
wired you to come.  I was afraid it might be too late--if I waited."

Still doubting, Selwyn looked at me as if it could not be true, that
which I was saying, and again the room grew still.  Then--

Presently, and after a long and understanding while, he broke its
stillness, though when he spoke it was difficult to hear him.  "We
will always keep them, these rooms in Scarborough Square.  We will
need them as well as the house without its walls.  And I--  You must
have patience with me, Danny.  Are you sure you have enough?" "I have
not quite as much as you will need for me.  And yet--when there is
love enough there is enough of all things else.  We have waited long
to be sure.  Surely--oh, surely now--"

"We know?"  He bent lower.  "Yes, I think now--we know."





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