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Title: Modern Chronicle, a — Volume 01
Author: Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947
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 "Modern Chronicle, a — Volume 01" ***

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A MODERN CHRONICLE

By Winston Churchill



CONTENTS OF THE ENTIRE SET:

BOOK I.

Volume 1.
I.     WHAT'S IN HEREDITY?
II.    PERDITA RECALLED
III.   CONCERNING PROVIDENCE
IV.    OF TEMPERAMENT
V.     IN WHICH PROVIDENCE BEEPS FAITH
VI.    HONORA HAS A GLIMPSE OF THE WORLD

Volume 2.
VII.   THE OLYMPIAN ORDER
VIII.  A CHAPTER OF CONQUESTS
IX.    IN WHICH THE VICOMTE CONTINUES HIS STUDIES
X.     IN WHICH HONORA WIDENS HER HORIZON
XI.    WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
XII.   WHICH CONTAINS A SURPRISE FOR MRS. HOLT


BOOK II

Volume 3.
I.     SO LONG AS YE BOTH SHALL LIVE
II.    "STAFFORD PARK"
III.   THE GREAT UNATTACHED
IV.    THE NEW DOCTRINE
V.     QUICKSANDS
VI.    GAD AND MENI

Volume 4.
VII.   OF CERTAIN DELICATE MATTERS
VIII.  OF MENTAL PROCESSES-FEMININE AND INSOLUBLE
IX.    INTRODUCING A REVOLUTIONIZING VEHICLE
X.     ON THE ART OF LION TAMING
XI.    CONTAINING SOME REVELATIONS


BOOK III

Volume 5.
I.    ASCENDI
II.   THE PATH OF PHILANTHROPY
III.  VINELAND
IV.   THE VIKING
V.    THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Volume 6.
VI.    CLIO, OR THALIA?
VII    "LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS"
VIII.  IN WHICH THE LAW BETRAYS A HEART
IX.    WYLIE STREET
X.     THE PRICE OF FREEDOM

Volume 7.
XI.    IN WHICH IT IS ALL DONE OVER AGAIN
XII.   THE ENTRANCE INTO EDEN
XIII.  OF THE WORLD BEYOND THE GATES.
XIV.   CONTAINING PHILOSOPHY FROM MR. GRAINGER
XV.    THE PILLARS OF SOCIETY

Volume 8.
XVI.   IN WHICH A MIRROR IS HELD UP
XVII.  THE RENEWAL OF AN ANCIENT HOSPITALITY
XVIII. IN WHICH MR. ERWIN SEES PARIS



A MODERN CHRONICLE



CHAPTER I

WHAT'S IN HEREDITY

Honora Leffingwell is the original name of our heroine. She was born in
the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century, at Nice, in France, and she
spent the early years of her life in St. Louis, a somewhat conservative
old city on the banks of the Mississippi River. Her father was Randolph
Leffingwell, and he died in the early flower of his manhood, while
filling with a grace that many remember the post of United States Consul
at Nice. As a linguist he was a phenomenon, and his photograph in the
tortoise-shell frame proves indubitably, to anyone acquainted with the
fashions of 1870, that he was a master of that subtlest of all arts,
dress. He had gentle blood in his veins, which came from Virginia through
Kentucky in a coach and six, and he was the equal in appearance and
manners of any duke who lingered beside classic seas.

Honora has often pictured to herself a gay villa set high above the
curving shore, the amethyst depths shading into emerald, laced with
milk-white foam, the vivid colours of the town, the gay costumes; the
excursions, the dinner-parties presided over by the immaculate young
consul in three languages, and the guests chosen from the haute noblesse
of Europe. Such was the vision in her youthful mind, added to by degrees
as she grew into young-ladyhood and surreptitiously became familiar with
the writings of Ouida and the Duchess, and other literature of an
educating cosmopolitan nature.

Honora's biography should undoubtedly contain a sketch of Mrs. Randolph
Leffingwell. Beauty and dash and a knowledge of how to seat a table seem
to have been the lady's chief characteristics; the only daughter of a
carefully dressed and carefully, preserved widower, likewise a
linguist,--whose super-refined tastes and the limited straits to which
he, the remaining scion of an old Southern family, had been reduced by a
gentlemanly contempt for money, led him 'to choose Paris rather than New
York as a place of residence. One of the occasional and carefully planned
trips to the Riviera proved fatal to the beautiful but reckless Myrtle
Allison. She, who might have chosen counts or dukes from the Tagus to the
Danube, or even crossed the Channel; took the dashing but impecunious
American consul, with a faith in his future that was sublime. Without
going over too carefully the upward path which led to the post of their
country's representative at the court of St. James, neither had the
slightest doubt that Randolph Leffingwell would tread it.

It is needless to dwell upon the chagrin of Honora's maternal
grandfather, Howard Allison Esquire, over this turn of affairs, this
unexpected bouleversement, as he spoke of it in private to his friends in
his Parisian club. For many years he had watched the personal attractions
of his daughter grow, and a brougham and certain other delights not to be
mentioned had gradually become, in his mind, synonymous with old age. The
brougham would have on its panels the Allison crest, and his
distinguished (and titled) son-in-law would drop in occasionally at the
little apartment on the Boulevard Haussmann. Alas, for visions, for
legitimate hopes shattered forever! On the day that Randolph Leffingwell
led Miss Allison down the aisle of the English church the vision of the
brougham and the other delights faded. Howard Allison went back to his
club.

Three years later, while on an excursion with Sir Nicholas Baker and a
merry party on the Italian aide, the horses behind which Mr. and Mrs.
Leffingwell were driving with their host ran away, and in the flight
managed to precipitate the vehicle, and themselves, down the side of one
of the numerous deep valleys of the streams seeking the Mediterranean.
Thus, by a singular caprice of destiny Honors was deprived of both her
parents at a period which--some chose to believe--was the height of their
combined glories. Randolph Leffingwell lived long enough to be taken back
to Nice, and to consign his infant daughter and sundry other unsolved
problems to his brother Tom.

Brother Tom--or Uncle Tom, as we must call him with Honora--cheerfully
accepted the charge. For his legacies in life had been chiefly blessings
in disguise. He was paying teller of the Prairie Bank, and the
thermometer registered something above 90 deg. Fahrenheit on the July
morning when he stood behind his wicket reading a letter from Howard
Allison, Esquire, relative to his niece. Mr. Leffingwell was at this
period of his life forty-eight, but the habit he had acquired of assuming
responsibilities and burdens seemed to have had the effect of making his
age indefinite. He was six feet tall, broad-shouldered, his mustache and
hair already turning; his eyebrows were a trifle bushy, and his eyes
reminded men of one eternal and highly prized quality--honesty. They were
blue grey. Ordinarily they shed a light which sent people away from his
window the happier without knowing why; but they had been known, on rare
occasions, to flash on dishonesty and fraud like the lightnings of the
Lord. Mr. Isham, the president of the bank, coined a phrase about him. He
said that Thomas Leffingwell was constitutionally honest.

Although he had not risen above the position of paying teller, Thomas
Leffingwell had a unique place in the city of his birth; and the esteem
in which he was held by capitalists and clerks proves that character
counts for something. On his father's failure and death he had entered
the Prairie Bank, at eighteen, and never left it. If he had owned it, he
could not have been treated by the customers with more respect. The city,
save for a few notable exceptions, like Mr. Isham, called him Mr.
Leffingwell, but behind his back often spoke of him as Tom.

On the particular hot morning in question, as he stood in his seersucker
coat reading the unquestionably pompous letter of Mr. Allison announcing
that his niece was on the high seas, he returned the greetings of his
friends with his usual kindness and cheer. In an adjoining compartment a
long-legged boy of fourteen was busily stamping letters.

"Peter," said Mr. Leffingwell, "go ask Mr. Isham if I may see him."

It is advisable to remember the boy's name. It was Peter Erwin, and he
was a favourite in the bank, where he had been introduced by Mr.
Leffingwell himself. He was an orphan and lived with his grandmother, an
impoverished old lady with good blood in her veins who boarded in
Graham's Row, on Olive Street. Suffice it to add, at this time, that he
worshipped Mr. Leffingwell, and that he was back in a twinkling with the
information that Mr. Isham was awaiting him.

The president was seated at his desk. In spite of the thermometer he gave
no appearance of discomfort in his frock-coat. He had scant, sandy-grey
whiskers, a tightly closed and smooth-shaven upper lip, a nose with-a
decided ridge, and rather small but penetrating eyes in which the blue
pigment had been used sparingly. His habitual mode of speech was both
brief and sharp, but people remarked that he modified it a little for Tom
Leffingwell.

"Come in, Tom," he said. "Anything the matter?"

"Mr. Isham, I want a week off, to go to New York."

The request, from Tom Leffingwell, took Mr. Isham's breath. One of the
bank president's characteristics was an extreme interest in the private
affairs of those who came within his zone of influence and especially
when these affairs evinced any irregularity.

"Randolph again?" he asked quickly.

Tom walked to the window, and stood looking out into the street. His
voice shook as he answered:

"Ten days ago I learned that my brother was dead, Mr. Isham."

The president glanced at the broad back of his teller. Mr. Isham's voice
was firm, his face certainly betrayed no feeling, but a flitting gleam of
satisfaction might have been seen in his eye.

"Of course, Tom, you may go," he answered.

Thus came to pass an event in the lives of Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary, that
journey to New York (their first) of two nights and two days to fetch
Honora. We need not dwell upon all that befell them. The first view of
the Hudson, the first whiff of the salt air on this unwonted holiday, the
sights of this crowded city of wealth,--all were tempered by the thought
of the child coming into their lives. They were standing on the pier when
the windows were crimson in the early light, and at nine o'clock on that
summer's morning the Albania was docked, and the passengers came crowding
down the gang-plank. Prosperous tourists, most of them, with servants and
stewards carrying bags of English design and checked steamer rugs; and at
last a ruddy-faced bonne with streamers and a bundle of ribbons and
laces--Honora--Honora, aged eighteen months, gazing at a subjugated
world.

"What a beautiful child! exclaimed a woman on the pier."

Was it instinct or premonition that led them to accost the bonne?

"Oui, Leffingwell!" she cried, gazing at them in some perplexity. Three
children of various sizes clung to her skirts, and a younger nurse
carried a golden-haired little girl of Honora's age. A lady and gentleman
followed. The lady was beginning to look matronly, and no second glance
was required to perceive that she was a person of opinion and character.
Mr. Holt was smaller than his wife, neat in dress and unobtrusive in
appearance. In the rich Mrs. Holt, the friend of the Randolph
Leffingwells, Aunt Mary was prepared to find a more vapidly fashionable
personage, and had schooled herself forthwith.

"You are Mrs. Thomas Leffingwell?" she asked. "Well, I am relieved." The
lady's eyes, travelling rapidly over Aunt Mary's sober bonnet and brooch
and gown, made it appear that these features in Honora's future guardian
gave her the relief in question. "Honora, this is your aunt."

Honora smiled from amidst the laces, and Aunt Mary, only too ready to
capitulate, surrendered. She held out her arms. Tears welled up in the
Frenchwoman's eyes as she abandoned her charge.

"Pauvre mignonne!" she cried.

But Mrs. Holt rebuked the nurse sharply, in French,--a language with
which neither Aunt Mary nor Uncle Tom was familiar. Fortunately, perhaps.
Mrs. Holt's remark was to the effect that Honora was going to a sensible
home.

"Hortense loves her better than my own children," said that lady.

Honora seemed quite content in the arms of Aunt Mary, who was gazing so
earnestly into the child's face that she did not at first hear Mrs.
Holt's invitation to take breakfast with them on Madison Avenue, and then
she declined politely. While grossing on the steamer, Mrs. Holt had
decided quite clearly in her mind just what she was going to say to the
child's future guardian, but there was something in Aunt Mary's voice and
manner which made these remarks seem unnecessary--although Mrs. Holt was
secretly disappointed not to deliver them.

"It was fortunate that we happened to, be in Nice at the time," she said
with the evident feeling that some explanation was due. "I did not know
poor Mrs. Randolph Leffingwell very--very intimately, or Mr. Leffingwell.
It was such a sudden--such a terrible affair. But Mr. Holt and I were
only too glad to do what we could."

"We feel very grateful to you," said Aunt Mary, quietly.

Mrs. Holt looked at her with a still more distinct approval, being
tolerably sure that Mrs. Thomas Leffingwell understood. She had cleared
her skirts of any possible implication of intimacy with the late Mrs.
Randolph, and done so with a master touch.

In the meantime Honora had passed to Uncle Tom. After securing the little
trunk, and settling certain matters with Mr. Holt, they said good-by to
her late kind protectors, and started off for the nearest street-cars,
Honora pulling Uncle Tom's mustache. More than one pedestrian paused to
look back at the tall man carrying the beautiful child, bedecked like a
young princess, and more than one passenger in the street cars smiled at
them both.



CHAPTER II

PERDITA RECALLED

Saint Louis, or that part of it which is called by dealers in real estate
the choice residence section, grew westward. And Uncle Tom might be said
to have been in the vanguard of the movement. In the days before Honora
was born he had built his little house on what had been a farm on the
Olive Street Road, at the crest of the second ridge from the river. Up
this ridge, with clanking traces, toiled the horse-cars that carried
Uncle Tom downtown to the bank and Aunt Mary to market.

Fleeing westward, likewise, from the smoke, friends of Uncle Tom's and
Aunt Mary's gradually surrounded them--building, as a rule, the high
Victorian mansions in favour at that period, which were placed in the
centre of commodious yards. For the friends of Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary
were for the most part rich, and belonged, as did they, to the older
families of the city. Mr. Dwyer's house, with its picture gallery, was
across the street.

In the midst of such imposing company the little dwelling which became
the home of our heroine sat well back in a plot that might almost be
called a garden. In summer its white wooden front was nearly hidden by
the quivering leaves of two tall pear trees. On the other side of the
brick walk, and near the iron fence, was an elm and a flower bed that was
Uncle Tom's pride and the admiration of the neighbourhood. Honora has but
to shut her eyes to see it aflame with tulips at Eastertide. The eastern
wall of the house was a mass of Virginia creeper, and beneath that
another flower bed, and still another in the back-yard behind the lattice
fence covered with cucumber vine. There were, besides, two maples and two
apricot trees, relics of the farm, and of blessed memory. Such apricots!
Visions of hot summer evenings come back, with Uncle Tom, in his
seersucker coat, with his green watering-pot, bending over the beds, and
Aunt Mary seated upright in her chair, looking up from her knitting with
a loving eye.

Behind the lattice, on these summer evenings, stands the militant figure
of that old retainer, Bridget the cook, her stout arms akimbo, ready to
engage in vigorous banter should Honora deign to approach.

"Whisht, 'Nora darlint, it's a young lady yell be soon, and the beaux
a-comin' 'round!" she would cry, and throw back her head and laugh until
the tears were in her eyes.

And the princess, a slim figure in an immaculate linen frock with red
ribbons which Aunt Mary had copied from Longstreth's London catalogue,
would reply with dignity:

"Bridget, I wish you would try to remember that my name is Honora."

Another spasm of laughter from Bridget.

"Listen to that now!" she would cry to another ancient retainer, Mary
Ann, the housemaid, whose kitchen chair was tilted up against the side of
the woodshed. "It'll be Miss Honora next, and George Hanbury here to-day
with his eye through a knothole in the fence, out of his head for a sight
of ye."

George Hanbury was Honora's cousin, and she did not deem his admiration a
subject fit for discussion with Bridget.

"Sure," declared Mary Ann, "it's the air of a princess the child has."

That she should be thought a princess did not appear at all remarkable to
Honora at twelve years of age. Perdita may have had such dreams. She had
been born, she knew, in some wondrous land by the shores of the summer
seas, not at all like St. Louis, and friends and relatives had not
hesitated to remark in her hearing that she resembled--her father,--that
handsome father who surely must have been a prince, whose before-mentioned
photograph in the tortoise-shell frame was on the bureau in her little
room. So far as Randolph Leffingwell was concerned, photography had not
been invented for nothing. Other records of him remained which Honora had
likewise seen: one end of a rose-covered villa--which Honora thought was
a wing of his palace; a coach and four he was driving, and which had
chanced to belong to an Englishman, although the photograph gave no
evidence of this ownership. Neither Aunt Mary nor Uncle Tom had ever
sought--for reasons perhaps obvious--to correct the child's impression of
an extraordinary paternity.

Aunt Mary was a Puritan of Southern ancestry, and her father had been a
Presbyterian minister, Uncle Tom was a member of the vestry of a church
still under Puritan influences. As a consequence for Honora, there were
Sunday afternoons--periods when the imaginative faculty, in which she was
by no means lacking, was given full play. She would sit by the hour in
the swing Uncle Tom had hung for her under the maple near the lattice,
while castles rose on distant heights against blue skies. There was her
real home, in a balconied chamber that overlooked mile upon mile of
rustling forest in the valley; and when the wind blew, the sound of it
was like the sea. Honora did not remember the sea, but its music was
often in her ears.

She would be aroused from these dreams of greatness by the appearance of
old Catherine, her nurse, on the side porch, reminding her that it was
time to wash for supper. No princess could have had a more humble
tiring-woman than Catherine.

Honora cannot be unduly blamed. When she reached the "little house under
the hill" (as Catherine called the chamber beneath the eaves), she beheld
reflected in the mirror an image like a tall, white flower that might
indeed have belonged to a princess. Her hair, the colour of burnt sienna,
fell evenly to her shoulders; her features even then had regularity and
hauteur; her legs, in their black silk stockings, were straight; and the
simple white lawn frock made the best of a slender figure. Those frocks
of Honora's were a continual source of wonder and sometimes of envy--to
Aunt Mary's friends; who returned from the seaside in the autumn, after a
week among the fashions in Boston or New York, to find Honora in the
latest models, and better dressed than their own children. Aunt Mary made
no secret of the methods by which these seeming miracles were performed,
and showed Cousin Eleanor Hanbury the fashion plates in the English
periodicals. Cousin Eleanor sighed.

"Mary, you are wonderful," she would say. "Honora's clothes are
better-looking than those I buy in the East, at such fabulous prices,
from Cavendish."

Indeed, no woman was ever farther removed from personal vanity than Aunt
Mary. She looked like a little Quakeress. Her silvered hair was parted in
the middle and had, in spite of palpable efforts towards tightness and
repression, a perceptible ripple in it. Grey was her only concession to
colour, and her gowns and bonnets were of a primness which belonged to
the past. Repression, or perhaps compression, was her note, for the
energy confined within her little body was a thing to have astounded
scientists: And Honora grew to womanhood and reflection before she had.
guessed or considered that her aunt was possessed of intense emotions
which had no outlet. Her features were regular, her shy eye had the
clearness of a forest pool. She believed in predestination, which is to
say that she was a fatalist; and while she steadfastly continued to
regard this world as a place of sorrow and trials, she concerned herself
very little about her participation in a future life. Old Dr. Ewing, the
rector of St. Anne's, while conceding that no better or more charitable
woman existed, found it so exceedingly difficult to talk to her, on the
subject of religion that he had never tried it but once.

Such was Aunt Mary. The true student of human nature should not find it
surprising that she spoiled Honora and strove--at what secret expense,
care, and self-denial to Uncle Tom and herself, none will ever know--to
adorn the child that she might appear creditably among companions whose
parents were more fortunate in this world's goods; that she denied
herself to educate Honora as these other children were educated. Nor is
it astonishing that she should not have understood the highly complex
organism of the young lady we have chosen for our heroine, who was
shaken, at the age of thirteen, by unfulfilled longings.

Very early in life Honora learned to dread the summer, when one by one
the families of her friends departed until the city itself seemed a
remote and distant place from what it had been in the spring and winter.
The great houses were closed and blinded, and in the evening the servants
who had been left behind chattered on the front steps. Honora could not
bear the sound of the trains that drifted across the night, and the sight
of the trunks piled in the Hanburys' hall, in Wayland Square, always
filled her with a sickening longing. Would the day ever come when she,
too, would depart for the bright places of the earth? Sometimes, when she
looked in the mirror, she was filled with a fierce belief in a destiny to
sit in the high seats, to receive homage and dispense bounties, to
discourse with great intellects, to know London and Paris and the marts
and centres of the world as her father had. To escape--only to escape
from the prison walls of a humdrum existence, and to soar!

Let us, if we can, reconstruct an August day when all (or nearly all) of
Honora's small friends were gone eastward to the mountains or the
seaside. In "the little house under the hill," the surface of which was a
hot slate roof, Honora would awake about seven o'clock to find old
Catherine bending over her in a dun-coloured calico dress, with the light
fiercely beating against the closed shutters that braved it so
unflinchingly throughout the day.

"The birds are before ye, Miss Honora, honey, and your uncle waterin' his
roses this half-hour."

Uncle Tom was indeed an early riser. As Honora dressed (Catherine
assisting as at a ceremony), she could see him, in his seersucker coat,
bending tenderly over his beds; he lived enveloped in a peace which has
since struck wonder to Honora's soul. She lingered in her dressing, even
in those days, falling into reveries from which Catherine gently and
deferentially aroused her; and Uncle Tom would be carving the beefsteak
and Aunt Mary pouring the coffee when she finally arrived in the dining
room to nibble at one of Bridget's unforgettable rolls or hot biscuits.
Uncle Tom had his joke, and at quarter-past eight precisely he would kiss
Aunt Mary and walk to the corner to wait for the ambling horse-car that
was to take him to the bank. Sometimes Honora went to the corner with
him, and he waved her good-by from the platform as he felt in his pocket
for the nickel that was to pay his fare.

When Honora returned, Aunt Mary had donned her apron, and was
industriously aiding Mary Ann to wash the dishes and maintain the
customary high polish on her husband's share of the Leffingwell silver
which, standing on the side table, shot hither and thither rays of green
light that filtered through the shutters into the darkened room. The
child partook of Aunt Mary's pride in that silver, made for a Kentucky
great-grandfather Leffingwell by a famous Philadelphia silversmith
three-quarters of a century before. Honora sighed.

"What's the matter, Honora?" asked Aunt Mary, without pausing in her
vigorous rubbing.

"The Leffingwells used to be great once upon a time, didn't they, Aunt
Mary?"

"Your Uncle Tom," answered Aunt Mary, quietly, "is the greatest man I
know, child."

"And my father must have been a great man, too," cried Honora, "to have
been a consul and drive coaches."

Aunt Mary was silent. She was not a person who spoke easily on difficult
subjects.

"Why don't you ever talk to me about my father, Aunt Mary? Uncle Tom
does."

"I didn't know your father, Honora."

"But you have seen him?"

"Yes," said Aunt Mary, dipping her cloth into the whiting; "I saw him at
my wedding. But he was very, young."

"What was he like?" Honora demanded. "He was very handsome, wasn't he?"

'Yes, child."

"And he had ambition, didn't he, Aunt Mary?"

Aunt Mary paused. Her eyes were troubled as she looked at Honora, whose
head was thrown back.

"What kind of ambition do you mean, Honora?"

"Oh," cried Honora, "to be great and rich and powerful, and to be
somebody."

"Who has been putting such things in your head, my dear?"

"No one, Aunt Mary. Only, if I were a man, I shouldn't rest until I
became great."

Alas, that Aunt Mary, with all her will, should have such limited powers
of expression! She resumed her scrubbing of the silver before she spoke.

"To do one's duty, to accept cheerfully and like a Christian the
responsibilities and burdens of life, is the highest form of greatness,
my child. Your Uncle Tom has had many things to trouble him; he has
always worked for others, and not for himself. And he is respected and
loved by all who know him."

"Yes, I know, Aunt Mary. But--"

"But what, Honora?"

"Then why isn't he rich, as my father was?"

"Your father wasn't rich, my dear," said Aunt Mary, sadly.

"Why, Aunt Mary!" Honora exclaimed, "he lived in a beautiful house, and
owned horses. Isn't that being rich?"

Poor Aunt Mary!

"Honora," she answered, "there are some things you are too young to
understand. But try to remember, my dear, that happiness doesn't consist
in being rich."

"But I have often heard you say that you wished you were rich, Aunt Mary,
and had nice things, and a picture gallery like Mr. Dwyer."

"I should like to have beautiful pictures, Honora."

"I don't like Mr. Dwyer," declared Honora, abruptly.

"You mustn't say that, Honora," was Aunt Mary's reproof. "Mr. Dwyer is an
upright, public-spirited man, and he thinks a great deal of your Uncle
Tom."

"I can't help it, Aunt Mary," said Honora. "I think he enjoys being
--well, being able to do things for a man like Uncle Tom."

Neither Aunt Mary nor Honora guessed what a subtle criticism this was of
Mr. Dwyer. Aunt Mary was troubled and puzzled; and she began to speculate
(not for the first time) why the Lord had given a person with so little
imagination a child like Honora to bring up in the straight and narrow
path.

"When I go on Sunday afternoons with Uncle Tom to see Mr. Dwyer's
pictures," Honora persisted, "I always feel that he is so glad to have
what other people haven't or he wouldn't have any one to show them to."

Aunt Mary shook her head. Once she had given her loyal friendship, such
faults as this became as nothing.

"And when" said Honora, "when Mrs. Dwyer has dinner-parties for
celebrated people who come here, why does she invite you in to see the
table?"

"Out of kindness, Honora. Mrs. Dwyer knows that I enjoy looking at
beautiful things."

"Why doesn't she invite you to the dinners?" asked Honora, hotly. "Our
family is just as good as Mrs. Dwyer's."

The extent of Aunt Mary's distress was not apparent.

"You are talking nonsense, my child," she said. "All my friends know that
I am not a person who can entertain distinguished people, and that I do
not go out, and that I haven't the money to buy evening dresses. And even
if I had," she added, "I haven't a pretty neck, so it's just as well."

A philosophy distinctly Aunt Mary's.

Uncle Tom, after he had listened without comment that evening to her
account of this conversation, was of the opinion that to take Honora to
task for her fancies would be waste of breath; that they would right
themselves as she grew up.

"I'm afraid it's inheritance, Tom," said Aunt Mary, at last. "And if so,
it ought to be counteracted. We've seen other signs of it. You know
Honora has little or no idea of the value of money--or of its ownership."

"She sees little enough of it," Uncle Tom remarked with a smile.

"Tom."

"Well."

"Sometimes I think I've done wrong not to dress her more simply. I'm
afraid it's given the child a taste for--for self-adornment."

"I once had a fond belief that all women possessed such a taste," said
Uncle Tom, with a quizzical look at his own exception. "To tell you the
truth, I never classed it as a fault."

"Then I don't see why you married me," said Aunt Mary--a periodical
remark of hers. "But, Tom, I do wish her to appear as well as the other
children, and (Aunt Mary actually blushed) the child has good looks."

"Why don't you go as far as old Catherine, and call her a princess?" he
asked.

"Do you want me to ruin her utterly?" exclaimed Aunt Mary.

Uncle Tom put his hands on his wife's shoulders and looked down into her
face, and smiled again. Although she held herself very straight, the top
of her head was very little above the level of his chin.

"It strikes me that you are entitled to some little indulgence in life,
Mary," he said.

One of the curious contradictions of Aunt Mary's character was a never
dying interest, which held no taint of envy, in the doings of people more
fortunate than herself. In the long summer days, after her silver was
cleaned and her housekeeping and marketing finished, she read in the
book-club periodicals of royal marriages, embassy balls, of great town
and country houses and their owners at home and abroad. And she knew, by
means of a correspondence with Cousin Eleanor Hanbury and other
intimates, the kind of cottages in which her friends sojourned at the
seashore or in the mountains; how many rooms they had, and how many
servants, and very often who the servants were; she was likewise informed
on the climate, and the ease with which it was possible to obtain fresh
vegetables. And to all of this information Uncle Tom would listen,
smiling but genuinely interested, while he carved at dinner.

One evening, when Uncle Tom had gone to play piquet with Mr. Isham, who
was ill, Honora further surprised her aunt by exclaiming: "How can you
talk of things other people have and not want them, Aunt Mary?"

"Why should I desire what I cannot have, my dear? I take such pleasure
out of my friends' possessions as I can."

"But you want to go to the seashore, I know you do. I've heard you say
so," Honora protested.

"I should like to see the open ocean before I die," admitted Aunt Mary,
unexpectedly. "I saw New York harbour once, when we went to meet you. And
I know how the salt water smells--which is as much, perhaps, as I have
the right to hope for. But I have often thought it would be nice to sit
for a whole summer by the sea and listen to the waves dashing upon the
beach, like those in the Chase picture in Mr. Dwyer's gallery."

Aunt Mary little guessed the unspeakable rebellion aroused in Honora by
this acknowledgment of being fatally circumscribed. Wouldn't Uncle Tom
ever be rich?

Aunt Mary shook her head--she saw no prospect of it.

But other men, who were not half so good as Uncle Tom, got rich.

Uncle Tom was not the kind of man who cared for riches. He was content to
do his duty in that sphere where God had placed him.

Poor Aunt Mary. Honora never asked her uncle such questions: to do so
never occurred to her. At peace with all men, he gave of his best to
children, and Honora remained a child. Next to his flowers, walking was
Uncle Tom's chief recreation, and from the time she could be guided by
the hand she went with him. His very presence had the gift of dispelling
longings, even in the young; the gift of compelling delight in simple
things. Of a Sunday afternoon, if the heat were not too great, he would
take Honora to the wild park that stretches westward of the city, and
something of the depth and intensity of his pleasure in the birds, the
forest, and the wild flowers would communicate itself to her. She learned
all unconsciously (by suggestion, as it were) to take delight in them; a
delight that was to last her lifetime, a never failing resource to which
she was to turn again and again. In winter, they went to the botanical
gardens or the Zoo. Uncle Tom had a passion for animals, and Mr. Isham,
who was a director, gave him a pass through the gates. The keepers knew
him, and spoke to him with kindly respect. Nay, it seemed to Honora that
the very animals knew him, and offered themselves ingratiatingly to be
stroked by one whom they recognized as friend. Jaded horses in the street
lifted their noses; stray, homeless cats rubbed against his legs, and
vagrant dogs looked up at him trustfully with wagging tails.

Yet his goodness, as Emerson would have said, had some edge to it. Honora
had seen the light of anger in his blue eye--a divine ray. Once he had
chastised her for telling Aunt Mary a lie (she could not have lied to
him) and Honora had never forgotten it. The anger of such a man had
indeed some element in it of the divine; terrible, not in volume, but in
righteous intensity. And when it had passed there was no occasion for
future warning. The memory of it lingered.



CHAPTER III

CONCERNING PROVIDENCE

What quality was it in Honora that compelled Bridget to stop her ironing
on Tuesdays in order to make hot waffles for a young woman who was late
to breakfast? Bridget, who would have filled the kitchen with righteous
wrath if Aunt Mary had transgressed the rules of the house, which were
like the laws of the Medes and Persians! And in Honora's early youth Mary
Ann, the housemaid, spent more than one painful evening writing home for
cockle shells and other articles to propitiate our princess, who rewarded
her with a winning smile and a kiss, which invariably melted the honest
girl into tears. The Queen of Scots never had a more devoted chamber
woman than old Catherine,--who would have gone to the stake with a smile
to save her little lady a single childish ill, and who spent her savings,
until severely taken to task by Aunt Mary, upon objects for which a
casual wish had been expressed. The saints themselves must at times have
been aweary from hearing Honora's name.

Not to speak of Christmas! Christmas in the little house was one wild
delirium of joy. The night before the festival was, to all outward
appearances, an ordinary evening, when Uncle Tom sat by the fire in his
slippers, as usual, scouting the idea that there would be any Christmas
at all. Aunt Mary sewed, and talked with maddening calmness of the news
of the day; but for Honora the air was charged with coming events of the
first magnitude. The very furniture of the little sitting-room had a
different air, the room itself wore a mysterious aspect, and the
cannel-coal fire seemed to give forth a special quality of unearthly
light.

"Is to-morrow Christmas?" Uncle Tom would exclaim. Bless me! Honora, I am
so glad you reminded me."

"Now, Uncle Tom, you knew it was Christmas all the time!"

"Kiss your uncle good night, Honora, and go right to sleep, dear,"--from
Aunt Mary.

The unconscious irony in that command of Aunt Mary's!--to go right to
sleep! Many times was a head lifted from a small pillow, straining after
the meaning of the squeaky noises that came up from below! Not Santa
Claus. Honora's belief in him had merged into a blind faith in a larger
and even more benevolent, if material providence: the kind of providence
which Mr. Meredith depicts, and which was to say to Beauchamp: "Here's
your marquise;" a particular providence which, at the proper time, gave
Uncle Tom money, and commanded, with a smile, "Buy this for Honora--she
wants it." All-sufficient reason! Soul-satisfying philosophy, to which
Honora was to cling for many years of life. It is amazing how much can be
wrung from a reluctant world by the mere belief in this kind of
providence.

Sleep came at last, in the darkest of the hours. And still in the dark
hours a stirring, a delicious sensation preceding reason, and the
consciousness of a figure stealing about the room. Honora sat up in bed,
shivering with cold and delight.

"Is it awake ye are, darlint, and it but four o'clock the morn!"

"What are you doing, Cathy?"

"Musha, it's to Mass I'm going, to ask the Mother of God to give ye many
happy Christmases the like of this, Miss Honora." And Catherine's arms
were about her.

"Oh, it's Christmas, Cathy, isn't it? How could I have forgotten it!"

"Now go to sleep, honey. Your aunt and uncle wouldn't like it at all at
all if ye was to make noise in the middle of the night--and it's little
better it is."

Sleep! A despised waste of time in childhood. Catherine went to Mass, and
after an eternity, the grey December light began to sift through the
shutters, and human endurance had reached its limit. Honora, still
shivering, seized a fleecy wrapper (the handiwork of Aunt Mary) and
crept, a diminutive ghost, down the creaking stairway to the
sitting-room. A sitting-room which now was not a sitting-room, but for
to-day a place of magic. As though by a prearranged salute of the
gods,--at Honora's entrance the fire burst through the thick blanket of
fine coal which Uncle Tom had laid before going to bed, and with a little
gasp of joy that was almost pain, she paused on the threshold. That one
flash, like Pizarro's first sunrise over Peru, gilded the edge of
infinite possibilities.

Needless to enumerate them. The whole world, as we know, was in a
conspiracy to spoil Honora. The Dwyers, the Cartwrights, the Haydens, the
Brices, the Ishams, and I know not how many others had sent their
tributes, and Honora's second cousins, the Hanburys, from the family
mansion behind the stately elms of Wayland Square--of which something
anon. A miniature mahogany desk, a prayer-book and hymnal which the
Dwyers had brought home from New York, endless volumes of a more secular
and (to Honora) entrancing nature; roller skates; skates for real ice,
when it should appear in the form of sleet on the sidewalks; a sled;
humbler gifts from Bridget, Mary Ann, and Catherine, and a wonderful
coat, with hat to match, of a certain dark green velvet. When Aunt Mary
appeared, an hour or so later, Honora was surveying her magnificence in
the glass.

"Oh, Aunt Mary!" she cried, with her arms tightly locked around her
aunt's neck, "how lovely! Did you send all the way to New York for it?"

"No, Honora," said her aunt, "it didn't come from New York." Aunt Mary
did not explain that this coat had been her one engrossing occupation for
six weeks, at such times when Honora was out or tucked away safely in
bed.

Perhaps Honora's face fell a little. Aunt Mary scanned it rather
anxiously.

"Does that cause you to like it any less, Honora?" she asked.

"Aunt Mary!" exclaimed Honora, in a tone of reproval. And added after a
little, "I suppose Mademoiselle made it."

"Does it make any difference who made it, Honora?"

"Oh, no indeed, Aunt Mary. May I wear it to Cousin Eleanor's to-day?"

"I gave it to you to wear, Honora."

Not in Honora's memory was there a Christmas breakfast during which Peter
Erwin did not appear, bringing gifts. Peter Erwin, of whom we caught a
glimpse doing an errand for Uncle Tom in the bank. With the complacency
of the sun Honora was wont to regard this most constant of her
satellites. Her awakening powers of observation had discovered him in
bondage, and in bondage he had been ever since: for their acquaintance
had begun on the first Sunday afternoon after Honora's arrival in St.
Louis at the age of eighteen months. It will be remembered that Honora
was even then a coquette, and as she sat in her new baby-carriage under
the pear tree, flirted outrageously with Peter, who stood on one foot
from embarrassment.

"Why, Peter," Uncle Tom had said slyly, "why don't you kiss her?"

That kiss had been Peter's seal of service. And he became, on Sunday
afternoons, a sort of understudy for Catherine. He took an amazing
delight in wheeling Honora up and down the yard, and up and down the
sidewalk. Brunhilde or Queen Elizabeth never wielded a power more
absolute, nor had an adorer more satisfactory; and of all his remarkable
talents, none were more conspicuous than his abilities to tell a story
and to choose a present. Emancipated from the perambulator, Honora would
watch for him at the window, and toddle to the gate to meet him, a
gentleman-in-waiting whose zeal, however arduous, never flagged.

On this particular Christmas morning, when she heard the gate slam,
Honora sprang up from the table to don her green velvet coat. Poor Peter!
As though his subjugation could be more complete!

"It's the postman," suggested Uncle Tom, wickedly.

"It's Peter!" cried Honora, triumphantly, from the hall as she flunk open
the door, letting in a breath of cold Christmas air out of the sunlight.

It was Peter, but a Peter who has changed some since perambulator days,
--just as Honora has changed some. A Peter who, instead of fourteen, is
six and twenty; a full-fledged lawyer, in the office of that most
celebrated of St. Louis practitioners, Judge Stephen Brice. For the Peter
Erwins of this world are queer creatures, and move rapidly without
appearing to the Honoras to move at all. A great many things have
happened to Peter since he had been a messenger boy in the bank.

Needless to say, Uncle Tom had taken an interest in him. And, according
to Peter, this fact accounted for all the good fortune which had
followed. Shortly before the news came of his brother's death, Uncle Tom
had discovered that the boy who did his errands so willingly was going to
night school, and was the grandson of a gentleman who had fought with
credit in the Mexican War, and died in misfortune: the grandmother was
Peter's only living relative. Through Uncle Tom, Mr. Isham became
interested, and Judge Brice. There was a certain scholarship in the
Washington University which Peter obtained, and he worked his way through
the law school afterwards.

A simple story, of which many a duplicate could be found in this country
of ours. In the course of the dozen years or so of its unravelling the
grandmother had died, and Peter had become, to all intents and purposes,
a member of Uncle Tom's family. A place was set for him at Sunday dinner;
and, if he did not appear, at Sunday tea. Sometimes at both. And here he
was, as usual, on Christmas morning, his arms so full that he had had to
push open the gate with his foot.

"Well, well, well, well!" he said, stopping short on the doorstep and
surveying our velvet-clad princess, "I've come to the wrong house."

The princess stuck her finger into her cheek.

"Don't be silly, Peter!" she said; and Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas!" he replied, edging sidewise in at the door and
depositing his parcels on the mahogany horsehair sofa. He chose one, and
seized the princess--velvet coat and all!--in his arms and kissed her.
When he released her, there remained in her hand a morocco-bound diary,
marked with her monogram, and destined to contain high matters.

"How could you know what I wanted, Peter?" she exclaimed, after she had
divested it of the tissue paper, holly, and red ribbon in which he had so
carefully wrapped it. For it is a royal trait to thank with the same
graciousness and warmth the donors of the humblest and the greatest
offerings.

There was a paper-knife for Uncle Tom, and a workbasket for Aunt Mary,
and a dress apiece for Catherine, Bridget, and Mary Ann, none of whom
Peter ever forgot. Although the smoke was even at that period beginning
to creep westward, the sun poured through the lace curtains into the
little dining-room and danced on the silver coffeepot as Aunt Mary poured
out Peter's cup, and the blue china breakfast plates were bluer than ever
because it was Christmas. The humblest of familiar articles took on the
air of a present. And after breakfast, while Aunt Mary occupied herself
with that immemorial institution,--which was to lure hitherwards so many
prominent citizens of St. Louis during the day,--eggnogg, Peter surveyed
the offerings which transformed the sitting-room. The table had been
pushed back against the bookcases, the chairs knew not their
time-honoured places, and white paper and red ribbon littered the floor.
Uncle Tom, relegated to a corner, pretended to read his newspaper, while
Honora flitted from Peter's knees to his, or sat cross-legged on the
hearth-rug investigating a bottomless stocking.

"What in the world are we going to do with all these things?" said Peter.

"We?" cried Honora.

"When we get married, I mean," said Peter, smiling at Uncle Tom. "Let's
see!" and he began counting on his fingers, which were long but very
strong--so strong that Honora could never loosen even one of them when
they gripped her. "One--two--three--eight Christmases before you are
twenty-one. We'll have enough things to set us up in housekeeping. Or
perhaps you'd rather get married when you are eighteen?"

"I've always told you I wasn't going to marry you, Peter," said Honora,
with decision.

"Why by not?" He always asked that question.

Honora sighed.

"I'll make a good husband," said Peter; "I'll promise. Ugly men are
always good husbands."

"I didn't say you were ugly," declared the ever considerate Honora.

"Only my nose is too big," he quoted; "and I am too long one way and not
wide enough."

"You have a certain air of distinction in spite of it," said Honora.

Uncle Tom's newspaper began to shake, and he read more industriously than
ever.

"You've been reading--novels!" said Peter, in a terrible judicial voice.

Honora flushed guiltily, and resumed her inspection of the stocking. Miss
Rossiter, a maiden lady of somewhat romantic tendencies, was librarian of
the Book Club that year. And as a result a book called "Harold's Quest,"
by an author who shall be nameless, had come to the house. And it was
Harold who had had "a certain air of distinction."

"It isn't very kind of you to make fun of me when I pay you a
compliment," replied Honora, with dignity.

"I was naturally put out," he declared gravely, "because you said you
wouldn't marry me. But I don't intend to give up. No man who is worth his
salt ever gives up."

"You are old enough to get married now," said Honora, still considerate.

"But I am not rich enough," said Peter; "and besides, I want you."

One of the first entries in the morocco diary--which had a lock and key
to it--was a description of Honora's future husband. We cannot violate
the lock, nor steal the key from under her pillow. But this much, alas,
may be said with discretion, that he bore no resemblance to Peter Erwin.
It may be guessed, however, that he contained something of Harold, and
more of Randolph Leffingwell; and that he did not live in St. Louis.

An event of Christmas, after church, was the dinner of which Uncle Tom
and Aunt Mary and Honora partook with Cousin Eleanor Hanbury, who had
been a Leffingwell, and was a first cousin of Honora's father. Honora
loved the atmosphere of the massive, yellow stone house in Wayland
Square, with its tall polished mahogany doors and thick carpets, with its
deferential darky servants, some of whom had been the slaves of her great
uncle. To Honora, gifted with imagination, the house had an odour all its
own; a rich, clean odour significant, in later life, of wealth and luxury
and spotless housekeeping. And she knew it from top to bottom. The
spacious upper floor, which in ordinary dwellings would have been an
attic, was the realm of young George and his sisters, Edith and Mary
(Aunt Mary's namesake). Rainy Saturdays, all too brief, Honora had passed
there, when the big dolls' house in the playroom became the scene of
domestic dramas which Edith rehearsed after she went to bed, although
Mary took them more calmly. In his tenderer years, Honora even fired
George, and riots occurred which took the combined efforts of Cousin
Eleanor and Mammy Lucy to quell. It may be remarked, in passing, that
Cousin Eleanor looked with suspicion upon this imaginative gift of
Honora's, and had several serious conversations with Aunt Mary on the
subject.

It was true, in a measure, that Honora quickened to life everything she
touched, and her arrival in Wayland Square was invariably greeted with
shouts of joy. There was no doll on which she had not bestowed a history,
and by dint of her insistence their pasts clung to them with all the
reality of a fate not by any means to be lived down. If George rode the
huge rocking-horse, he was Paul Revere, or some equally historic figure,
and sometimes, to Edith's terror, he was compelled to assume the role of
Bluebeard, when Honora submitted to decapitation with a fortitude
amounting to stoicism. Hide and seek was altogether too tame for her, a
stake of life and death, or imprisonment or treasure, being a necessity.
And many times was Edith extracted from the recesses of the cellar in a
condition bordering on hysterics, the day ending tamely with a Bible
story or a selection from "Little Women" read by Cousin Eleanor.

In autumn, and again in spring and early summer before the annual
departure of the Hanbury family for the sea, the pleasant yard with its
wide shade trees and its shrubbery was a land of enchantment threatened
by a genie. Black Bias, the family coachman, polishing the fat carriage
horses in the stable yard, was the genie; and George the intrepid knight
who, spurred by Honora, would dash in and pinch Bias in a part of his
anatomy which the honest darky had never seen. An ideal genie, for he
could assume an astonishing fierceness at will.

"I'll git you yit, Marse George!"

Had it not been for Honora, her cousins would have found the paradise in
which they lived a commonplace spot, and indeed they never could realize
its tremendous possibilities in her absence. What would the Mediterranean
Sea and its adjoining countries be to us unless the wanderings of Ulysses
and AEneas had made them real? And what would Cousin Eleanor's yard have
been without Honora? Whatever there was of romance and folklore in Uncle
Tom's library Honora had extracted at an early age, and with astonishing
ease had avoided that which was dry and uninteresting. The result was a
nomenclature for Aunt Eleanor's yard, in which there was even a terra
incognita wherefrom venturesome travellers never returned, but were
transformed into wild beasts or monkeys.

Although they acknowledged her leadership, Edith and Mary were sorry for
Honora, for they knew that if her father had lived she would have had a
house and garden like theirs, only larger, and beside a blue sea where it
was warm always. Honora had told them so, and colour was lent to her
assertions by the fact that their mother, when they repeated this to her,
only smiled sadly, and brushed her eyes with her handkerchief. She was
even more beautiful when she did so, Edith told her,--a remark which
caused Mrs. Hanbury to scan her younger daughter closely; it smacked of
Honora.

"Was Cousin Randolph handsome?" Edith demanded. Mrs. Hanbury started, so
vividly there arose before her eyes a brave and dashing figure, clad in
grey English cloth, walking by her side on a sunny autumn morning in the
Rue de la Paix. Well she remembered that trip abroad with her mother,
Randolph's aunt, and how attentive he was, and showed them the best
restaurants in which to dine. He had only been in France a short time,
but his knowledge of restaurants and the world in general had been
amazing, and his acquaintances legion. He had a way, which there was no
resisting, of taking people by storm.

"Yes, dear," answered Mrs. Hanbury, absently, when the child repeated the
question, "he was very handsome."

"Honora says he would have been President," put in George. "Of course I
don't believe it. She said they lived in a palace by the sea in the south
of France, with gardens and fountains and a lot of things like that, and
princesses and princes and eunuchs--"

"And what!" exclaimed Mrs. Hanbury, aghast.

"I know," said George, contemptuously, "she got that out of the Arabian
Nights." But this suspicion did not prevent him, the next time Honora
regaled them with more adventures of the palace by the summer seas, from
listening with a rapt attention. No two tales were ever alike. His
admiration for Honora did not wane, but increased. It differed from that
of his sisters, however, in being a tribute to her creative faculties,
while Edith's breathless faith pictured her cousin as having passed
through as many adventures as Queen Esther. George paid her a
characteristic compliment, but chivalrously drew her aside to bestow it.
He was not one to mince matters.

"You're a wonder, Honora," he said. "If I could lie like that, I wouldn't
want a pony."

He was forced to draw back a little from the heat of the conflagration he
had kindled.

"George Hanbury," she cried, "don't you ever speak to me again! Never! Do
you understand?"

It was thus that George, at some cost, had made a considerable discovery
which, for the moment, shook even his scepticism. Honora believed it all
herself.

Cousin Eleanor Hanbury was a person, or personage, who took a deep and
abiding interest in her fellow-beings, and the old clothes of the Hanbury
family went unerringly to the needy whose figures most resembled those of
the original owners. For Mrs. Hanbury had a wide but comparatively
unknown charity list. She was, secretly, one of the many providence which
Honora accepted collectively, although it is by no means certain whether
Honora, at this period, would have thanked her cousin for tuition at Miss
Farmer's school, and for her daily tasks at French and music concerning
which Aunt Mary was so particular. On the memorable Christmas morning
when, arrayed in green velvet, she arrived with her aunt and uncle for
dinner in Wayland Square, Cousin Eleanor drew Aunt Mary into her bedroom
and shut the door, and handed her a sealed envelope. Without opening it,
but guessing with much accuracy its contents, Aunt Mary handed it back.

"You are doing too much, Eleanor," she said.

Mrs. Hanbury was likewise a direct person.

"I will, take it back on one condition, Mary. If you will tell me that
Tom has finished paying Randolph's debts."

Mrs. Leffingwell was silent.

"I thought not," said Mrs. Hanbury. "Now Randolph was my own cousin, and
I insist."

Aunt Mary turned over the envelope, and there followed a few moments'
silence, broken only by the distant clamour of tin horns and other
musical instruments of the season.

"I sometimes think, Mary, that Honora is a little like Randolph, and-Mrs.
Randolph. Of course, I did not know her."

"Neither did I," said Aunt Mary.

"Mary," said Mrs. Hanbury, again, "I realize how you worked to make the
child that velvet coat. Do you think you ought to dress her that way?"

"I don't see why she shouldn't be as well dressed as the children of my
friends, Eleanor."

Mrs. Hanbury laid her hand impulsively on Aunt Mary's.

"No child I know of dresses half as well," said Mrs. Hanbury. "The
trouble you take--"

"Is rewarded," said Aunt Mary.

"Yes," Mrs. Hanbury agreed. "If my own daughters were half as good
looking, I should be content. And Honora has an air of race. Oh, Mary,
can't you see? I am only thinking of the child's future."

"Do you expect me to take down all my mirrors, Eleanor? If she has good
looks," said Aunt Mary, "she has not learned it from my lips."

It was true: Even Aunt Mary's enemies, and she had some, could not accuse
her of the weakness of flattery. So Mrs. Hanbury smiled, and dropped the
subject.



CHAPTER IV

OF TEMPERAMENT

We have the word of Mr. Cyrus Meeker that Honora did not have to learn to
dance. The art came to her naturally. Of Mr. Cyrus Meeker, whose
mustaches, at the age of five and sixty, are waxed as tight as ever, and
whose little legs to-day are as nimble as of yore. He has a memory like
Mr. Gladstone's, and can give you a social history of the city that is
well worth your time and attention. He will tell you how, for instance,
he was kicked by the august feet of Mr. George Hanbury on the occasion of
his first lesson to that distinguished young gentleman; and how, although
Mr. Meeker's shins were sore, he pleaded nobly for Mr. George, who was
sent home in the carriage by himself,--a punishment, by the way, which
Mr. George desired above all things.

This celebrated incident occurred in the new ballroom at the top of the
new house of young Mrs. Hayden, where the meetings of the dancing class
were held weekly. Today the soot, like the ashes of Vesuvius, spouting
from ten thousand soft-coal craters, has buried that house and the whole
district fathoms deep in social obscurity. And beautiful Mrs. Hayden what
has become of her? And Lucy Hayden, that doll-like darling of the gods?

All this belongs, however, to another history, which may some day be
written. This one is Honora's, and must be got on with, for it is to be a
chronicle of lightning changes. Happy we if we can follow Honora, and we
must be prepared to make many friends and drop them in the process.

Shortly after Mrs. Hayden had built that palatial house (which had a high
fence around its grounds and a driveway leading to a porte-cochere) and
had given her initial ball, the dancing class began. It was on a blue
afternoon in late November that Aunt Mary and Honora, with Cousin Eleanor
and the two girls, and George sulking in a corner of the carriage, were
driven through the gates behind Bias and the fat horses of the Hanburys.

Honora has a vivid remembrance of the impression the house made on her,
with its polished floors and spacious rooms filled with a new and
mysterious and altogether inspiring fashion of things. Mrs. Hayden
represented the outposts in the days of Richardson and Davenport--had
Honora but known it. This great house was all so different from anything
she (and many others in the city) had ever seen. And she stood gazing
into the drawing room, with its curtains and decorously drawn shades, in
a rapture which her aunt and cousins were far from guessing.

"Come, Honora," said her aunt. "What's the matter, dear?"

How could she explain to Aunt Mary that the sight of beautiful things
gave her a sort of pain--when she did not yet know it herself? There was
the massive stairway, for instance, which they ascended, softly lighted
by a great leaded window of stained glass on the first landing; and the
spacious bedrooms with their shining brass beds and lace spreads (another
innovation which Honora resolved to adopt when she married); and at last,
far above all, its deep-set windows looking out above the trees towards
the park a mile to the westward, the ballroom,--the ballroom, with its
mirrors and high chandeliers, and chairs of gilt and blue set against the
walls, all of which made no impression whatever upon George and Mary and
Edith, but gave Honora a thrill. No wonder that she learned to dance
quickly under such an inspiration!

And how pretty Mrs. Hayden looked as she came forward to greet them and
kissed Honora! She had been Virginia Grey, and scarce had had a gown to
her back when she had married the elderly Duncan Hayden, who had built
her this house and presented her with a checkbook,--a check-book which
Virginia believed to be like the widow's cruse of oil-unfailing. Alas,
those days of picnics and balls; of dinners at that recent innovation,
the club; of theatre-parties and excursions to baseball games between the
young men in Mrs. Hayden's train (and all young men were) who played at
Harvard or Yale or Princeton; those days were too care-free to have
endured.

"Aunt Mary," asked Honora, when they were home again in the lamplight of
the little sitting-room, "why was it that Mr. Meeker was so polite to
Cousin Eleanor, and asked her about my dancing instead of you?"

Aunt Mary smiled.

"Because, Honora," she said, "because I am a person of no importance in
Mr. Meeker's eyes."

"If I were a man," cried Honora, fiercely, "I should never rest until I
had made enough money to make Mr. Meeker wriggle."

"Honora, come here," said her aunt, gazing in troubled surprise at the
tense little figure by the mantel. "I don't know what could have put such
things into your head, my child. Money isn't everything. In times of real
trouble it cannot save one."

"But it can save one from humiliation!" exclaimed Honora, unexpectedly.
Another sign of a peculiar precociousness, at fourteen, with which Aunt
Mary was finding herself unable to cope. "I would rather be killed than
humiliated by Mr. Meeker."

Whereupon she flew out of the room and upstairs, where old Catherine, in
dismay, found her sobbing a little later.

Poor Aunt Mary! Few people guessed the spirit which was bound up in her,
aching to extend its sympathy and not knowing how, save by an unswerving
and undemonstrative devotion. Her words of comfort were as few as her
silent deeds were many.

But Honora continued to go to the dancing class, where she treated Mr.
Meeker with a hauteur that astonished him, amused Virginia Hayden, and
perplexed Cousin Eleanor. Mr. Meeker's cringing soul responded, and in a
month Honora was the leading spirit of the class, led the marches, and
was pointed out by the little dancing master as all that a lady should be
in deportment and bearing.

This treatment, which succeeded so well in Mr. Meeker's case, Honora had
previously applied to others of his sex. Like most people with a future,
she began young. Of late, for instance, Mr. George Hanbury had shown a
tendency to regard her as his personal property; for George had a
high-handed way with him,--boys being an enigma to his mother. Even in
those days he had a bullet head and a red face and square shoulders, and
was rather undersized for his age--which was Honora's.

Needless to say, George did not approve of the dancing class; and let it
be known, both by words and deeds, that he was there under protest. Nor
did he regard with favour Honora's triumphal progress, but sat in a
corner with several congenial spirits whose feelings ranged from scorn to
despair, commenting in loud whispers upon those of his sex to whom the
terpsichorean art came more naturally. Upon one Algernon Cartwright, for
example, whose striking likeness to the Van Dyck portrait of a young king
had been more than once commented upon by his elders, and whose velveteen
suits enhanced the resemblance. Algernon, by the way, was the favourite
male pupil of Mr. Meeker; and, on occasions, Algernon and Honora were
called upon to give exhibitions for the others, the sight of which filled
George with contemptuous rage. Algernon danced altogether too much with
Honora,--so George informed his cousin.

The simple result of George's protests was to make Honora dance with
Algernon the more, evincing, even at this period of her career, a
commendable determination to resent dictation. George should have lived
in the Middle Ages, when the spirit of modern American womanhood was as
yet unborn. Once he contrived, by main force, to drag her out into the
hall.

"George," she said, "perhaps, if you'd let me alone perhaps I'd like you
better."

"Perhaps," he retorted fiercely, "if you wouldn't make a fool of yourself
with those mother's darlings, I'd like you better."

"George," said Honora, "learn to dance."

"Never!" he cried, but she was gone. While hovering around the door he
heard Mrs. Hayden's voice.

"Unless I am tremendously mistaken, my dear," that lady was remarking to
Mrs. Dwyer, whose daughter Emily's future millions were powerless to
compel youths of fourteen to dance with her, although she is now happily
married, "unless I am mistaken, Honora will have a career. The child will
be a raving beauty. And she has to perfection the art of managing men."

"As her father had the art of managing women," said Mrs. Dwyer. "Dear me,
how well I remember Randolph! I would have followed him to--to Cheyenne."

Mrs. Hayden laughed. "He never would have gone to Cheyenne, I imagine,"
she said.

"He never looked at me, and I have reason to be profoundly thankful for
it," said Mrs. Dwyer.

Virginia Hayden bit her lip. She remembered a saying of Mrs. Brice,
"Blessed are the ugly, for they shall not be tempted."

"They say that poor Tom Leffingwell has not yet finished paying his
debts," continued Mrs. Dwyer, "although his uncle, Eleanor Hanbury's
father, cancelled what Randolph had had from him in his will. It was
twenty-five thousand dollars. James Hanbury, you remember, had him
appointed consul at Nice. Randolph Leffingwell gave the impression of
conferring a favour when he borrowed money. I cannot understand why he
married that penniless and empty-headed beauty."

"Perhaps," said Mrs. Hayden, "it was because of his ability to borrow
money that he felt he could afford to."

The eyes of the two ladies unconsciously followed Honora about the room.

"I never knew a better or a more honest woman than Mary Leffingwell, but
I tremble for her. She is utterly incapable of managing that child. If
Honora is a complicated mechanism now, what will she be at twenty? She
has elements in her which poor Mary never dreamed of. I overheard her
with Emily, and she talks like a grown-up person."

Mrs. Hayden's dimples deepened.

"Better than some grown-up women," she said. "She sat in my room while I
dressed the other afternoon. Mrs. Leffingwell had sent her with a note
about that French governess. And, by the way, she speaks French as though
she had lived in Paris."

Little Mrs. Dwyer raised her hands in protest.

"It doesn't seem natural, somehow. It doesn't seem exactly--moral, my
dear."

"Nonsense," said Mrs. Hayden. "Mrs. Leffingwell is only giving the child
the advantages which her companions have--Emily has French, hasn't she?"

"But Emily can't speak it--that way," said Mrs. Dwyer. "I don't blame
Mary Leffingwell. She thinks she is doing her duty, but it has always
seemed to me that Honora was one of those children who would better have
been brought up on bread and butter and jam."

"Honora would only have eaten the jam," said Mrs. Hayden. "But I love
her."

"I, too, am fond of the child, but I tremble for her. I am afraid she has
that terrible thing which is called temperament."

George Hanbury made a second heroic rush, and dragged Honora out once
more.

"What is this disease you've got?" he demanded.

"Disease?" she cried; "I haven't any disease."

"Mrs Dwyer says you have temperament, and that it is a terrible thing."

Honora stopped him in a corner.

"Because people like Mrs. Dwyer haven't got it," she declared, with a
warmth which George found inexplicable.

"What is it?" he demanded.

"You'll never know, either, George," she answered; "it's soul."

"Soul!" he repeated; "I have one, and its immortal," he added promptly.

In the summer, that season of desolation for Honora, when George Hanbury
and Algernon Cartwright and other young gentlemen were at the seashore
learning to sail boats and to play tennis, Peter Erwin came to his own.
Nearly every evening after dinner, while the light was still lingering
under the shade trees of the street, and Aunt Mary still placidly sewing
in the wicker chair on the lawn, and Uncle Tom making the tour of flowers
with his watering pot, the gate would slam, and Peter's tall form appear.

It never occurred to Honora that had it not been for Peter those evenings
would have been even less bearable than they were. To sit indoors with a
light and read in a St. Louis midsummer was not to be thought of. Peter
played backgammon with her on the front steps, and later on--chess.
Sometimes they went for a walk as far as Grand Avenue. And sometimes when
Honora grew older--she was permitted to go with him to Uhrig's Cave.
Those were memorable occasions indeed!

What Saint Louisan of the last generation does not remember Uhrig's Cave?
nor look without regret upon the thing which has replaced it, called a
Coliseum? The very name, Uhrig's Cave, sent a shiver of delight down
one's spine, and many were the conjectures one made as to what might be
enclosed in that half a block of impassible brick wall, over which the
great trees stretched their branches. Honora, from comparative infancy,
had her own theory, which so possessed the mind of Edith Hanbury that she
would not look at the wall when they passed in the carriage. It was a
still and sombre place by day; and sometimes, if you listened, you could
hear the whisperings of the forty thieves on the other side of the wall.
But no one had ever dared to cry "Open, Sesame!" at the great wooden
gates.

At night, in the warm season, when well brought up children were at home
or at the seashore, strange things were said to happen at Uhrig's Cave.

Honora was a tall slip of a girl of sixteen before it was given her to
know these mysteries, and the Ali Baba theory a thing of the past. Other
theories had replaced it. Nevertheless she clung tightly to Peter's arm
as they walked down Locust Street and came in sight of the wall. Above
it, and under the big trees, shone a thousand glittering lights: there
was a crowd at the gate, and instead of saying, "Open, Sesame," Peter
slipped two bright fifty-cent pieces to the red-faced German ticketman,
and in they went.

First and most astounding of disillusions of passing childhood, it was
not a cave at all! And yet the word "disillusion" does not apply. It was,
after all, the most enchanting and exciting of spots, to make one's eye
shine and one's heart beat. Under the trees were hundreds of tables
surrounded by hovering ministering angels in white, and if you were
German, they brought you beer; if American, ice-cream. Beyond the tables
was a stage, with footlights already set and orchestra tuning up, and a
curtain on which was represented a gentleman making decorous love to a
lady beside a fountain. As in a dream, Honora followed Peter to a table,
and he handed her a programme.

"Oh, Peter," she cried, "it's going to be 'Pinafore'!"

Honora's eyes shone like stars, and elderly people at the neighbouring
tables turned more than once to smile at her that evening. And Peter
turned more than once and smiled too. But Honora did not consider Peter.
He was merely Providence in one of many disguises, and Providence is
accepted by his beneficiaries as a matter of fact.

The rapture of a young lady of temperament is a difficult thing to
picture. The bird may feel it as he soars, on a bright August morning,
high above amber cliffs jutting out into indigo seas; the novelist may
feel it when the four walls of his room magically disappear and the
profound secrets of the universe are on the point of revealing
themselves. Honora gazed, and listened, and lost herself. She was no
longer in Uhrig's Cave, but in the great world, her soul a-quiver with
harmonies.

"Pinafore," although a comic opera, held something tragic for Honora, and
opened the flood-gates to dizzy sensations which she did not understand.
How little Peter, who drummed on the table to the tune of:

       "Give three cheers and one cheer more
        For the hearty captain of the Pinafore,"

imagined what was going on beside him! There were two factors in his
pleasure; he liked the music, and he enjoyed the delight of Honora.

What is Peter? Let us cease looking at him through Honora's eyes and
taking him like daily bread, to be eaten and not thought about. From one
point of view, he is twenty-nine and elderly, with a sense of humour
unsuspected by young persons of temperament. Strive as we will, we have
only been able to see him in his role of Providence, or of the piper. Has
he no existence, no purpose in life outside of that perpetual gentleman
in waiting? If so, Honora has never considered it.

After the finale had been sung and the curtain dropped for the last time,
Honora sighed and walked out of the garden as one in a trance. Once in a
while, as he found a way for them through the crowd, Peter glanced down
at her, and something like a smile tugged at the corners of a decidedly
masculine mouth, and lit up his eyes. Suddenly, at Locust Street, under
the lamp, she stopped and surveyed him. She saw a very real, very human
individual, clad in a dark nondescript suit of clothes which had been
bought ready-made, and plainly without the bestowal of much thought, on
Fifth Street. The fact that they were a comparative fit was in itself a
tribute to the enterprise of the Excelsior Clothing Company, for Honora's
observation that he was too long one way had been just. He was too tall,
his shoulders were too high, his nose too prominent, his eyes too
deep-set; and he wore a straw hat with the brim turned up.

To Honora his appearance was as familiar as the picture of the Pope which
had always stood on Catherine's bureau. But to-night, by grace of some
added power of vision, she saw him with new and critical eyes. She was
surprised to discover that he was possessed of a quality with which she
had never associated him--youth. Not to put it too strongly--comparative
youth.

"Peter," she demanded, "why do you dress like that?"

"Like what?" he said.

Honora seized the lapel of his coat.

"Like that," she repeated. "Do you know, if you wore different clothes,
you might almost be distinguished looking. Don't laugh. I think it's
horrid of you always to laugh when I tell you things for your own good."

"It was the idea of being almost distinguished looking that--that gave me
a shock," he assured her repentantly.

"You should dress on a different principle," she insisted.

Peter appeared dazed.

"I couldn't do that," he said.

"Why not?"

"Because--because I don't dress on any principle now."

"Yes, you do," said Honora, firmly. "You dress on the principle of the
wild beasts and fishes. It's all in our natural history at Miss Farmer's.
The crab is the colour of the seaweed, and the deer of the thicket. It's
a device of nature for the protection of weak things."

Peter drew himself up proudly.

"I have always understood, Miss Leffingwell, that the king of beasts was
somewhere near the shade of the jungle."

Honora laughed in spite of this apparent refutation of her theory of his
apparel, and shook her head.

"Do be serious, Peter. You'd make much more of an impression on people if
you wore clothes that had--well, a little more distinction."

"What's the use of making an impression if you can't follow it up?" he
said.

"You can," she declared. "I never thought of it until to-night, but you
must have a great deal in you to have risen all the way from an errand
boy in the bank to a lawyer."

"Look out!" he cautioned her; "I shall become insupportably conceited."

"A little more conceit wouldn't hurt you," said Honora, critically.
"You'll forgive me, Peter, if I tell you from time to time what I think.
It's for your own good."

"I try to realize that," replied Peter, humbly. "How do you wish me to
dress--like Mr. Rossiter?"

The picture evoked of Peter arrayed like Mr. Harland Rossiter, who had
sent flowers to two generations and was preparing to send more to a
third, was irresistible. Every city, hamlet, and village has its Harland
Rossiter. He need not be explained. But Honora soon became grave again.

"No, but you ought to dress as though you were somebody, and different
from the ordinary man on the street."

"But I'm not," objected Peter.

"Oh," cried Honora, "don't you want to be? I can't understand any man not
wanting to be. If I were a man, I wouldn't stay here a day longer than I
had to."

Peter was silent as they went in at the gate and opened the door, for on
this festive occasion they were provided with a latchkey. He turned up
the light in the hall to behold a transformation quite as wonderful as
any contained in the "Arabian Nights" or Keightley's "Fairy Mythology."
This was not the Honora with whom he had left the house scarce three
hours before! The cambric dress, to be sure, was still no longer than the
tops of her ankles and the hair still hung in a heavy braid down her
back. These were positively all that remained of the original Honora, and
the change had occurred in the incredibly brief space required for the
production of the opera "Pinafore." This Honora was a woman in a strange
and disturbing state of exaltation, whose eyes beheld a vision. And
Peter, although he had been the subject of her conversation, well knew
that he was not included in the vision. He smiled a little as he looked
at her. It is becoming apparent that he is one of those unfortunate
unimaginative beings incapable of great illusions.

"You're not going!" she exclaimed.

He glanced significantly at the hall clock.

"Why, it's long after bedtime, Honora."

"I don't want to go to bed. I feel like talking," she declared. "Come,
let's sit on the steps awhile. If you go home, I shan't go to sleep for
hours, Peter."

"And what would Aunt Mary say to me?" he inquired.

"Oh, she wouldn't care. She wouldn't even know it."

He shook his head, still smiling.

"I'd never be allowed to take you to Uhrig's Cave, or anywhere else,
again," he replied. "I'll come to-morrow evening, and you can talk to me
then."

"I shan't feel like it then," she said in a tone that implied his
opportunity was now or never. But seeing him still obdurate, with
startling suddenness she flung her arms mound his neck--a method which at
times had succeeded marvellously--and pleaded coaxingly: "Only a quarter
of an hour, Peter. I've got so many things to say, and I know I shall
forget them by to-morrow."

It was a night of wonders. To her astonishment the hitherto pliant Peter,
who only existed in order to do her will, became transformed into a
brusque masculine creature which she did not recognize. With a movement
that was almost rough he released himself and fled, calling back a "good
night" to her out of the darkness. He did not even wait to assist her in
the process of locking up. Honora, profoundly puzzled, stood for a while
in the doorway gazing out into the night. When at length she turned, she
had forgotten him entirely.

It was true that she did not sleep for hours, and on awaking the next
morning another phenomenon awaited her. The "little house under the hill"
was immeasurably shrunken. Poor Aunt Mary, who did not understand that a
performance of "Pinafore" could give birth to the unfulfilled longings
which result in the creation of high things, spoke to Uncle Tom a week
later concerning an astonishing and apparently abnormal access of
industry.

"She's been reading all day long, Tom, or else shut up in her room, where
Catherine tells me she is writing. I'm afraid Eleanor Hanbury is right
when she says I don't understand the child. And yet she is the same to me
as though she were my own."

It was true that Honora was writing, and that the door was shut, and that
she did not feel the heat. In one of the bookcases she had chanced upon
that immortal biography of Dr. Johnson, and upon the letters of another
prodigy of her own sex, Madame d'Arblay, whose romantic debut as an
authoress was inspiration in itself. Honora actually quivered when she
read of Dr. Johnson's first conversation with Miss Burney. To write a
book of the existence of which even one's own family did not know, to
publish it under a nom de plume, and to awake one day to fetes and fame
would be indeed to live!

Unfortunately Honora's novel no longer exists, or the world might have
discovered a second Evelina. A regard for truth compels the statement
that it was never finished. But what rapture while the fever lasted!
Merely to take up the pen was to pass magically through marble portals
into the great world itself.

The Sir Charles Grandison of this novel was, needless to say, not Peter
Erwin. He was none other than Mr. Randolph Leffingwell, under a very thin
disguise.



CHAPTER V

IN WHICH PROVIDENCE BEEPS FAITH

Two more years have gone by, limping in the summer and flying in the
winter, two more years of conquests. For our heroine appears to be one of
the daughters of Helen, born to make trouble for warriors and others
--and even for innocent bystanders like Peter Erwin. Peter was debarred
from entering those brilliant lists in which apparel played so great a
part. George Hanbury, Guy Rossiter, Algernon Cartwright, Eliphalet Hopper
Dwyer--familiarly known as "Hoppy"--and other young gentlemen whose names
are now but memories, each had his brief day of triumph. Arrayed like
Solomon in wonderful clothes from the mysterious and luxurious East, they
returned at Christmas-tide and Easter from college to break lances over
Honora. Let us say it boldly--she was like that: she had the world-old
knack of sowing discord and despair in the souls of young men. She
was--as those who had known that fascinating gentleman were not slow to
remark--Randolph Leffingwell over again.

During the festival seasons, Uncle Tom averred, they wore out the latch
on the front gate. If their families possessed horses to spare, they took
Honora driving in Forest Park; they escorted her to those anomalous
dances peculiar to their innocent age, which are neither children's
parties nor full-fledged balls; their presents, while of no intrinsic
value--as one young gentleman said in a presentation speech--had an
enormous, if shy, significance.

"What a beautiful ring you are wearing, Honora," Uncle Tom remarked slyly
one April morning at breakfast; "let me see it."

Honora blushed, and hid her hand under the table-cloth.

And the ring-suffice it to say that her little finger was exactly
insertable in a ten-cent piece from which everything had been removed but
the milling: removed with infinite loving patience by Mr. Rossiter, and
at the expense of much history and philosophy and other less important
things, in his college bedroom at New Haven. Honora wore it for a whole
week; a triumph indeed for Mr. Rossiter; when it was placed in a box in
Honora's bedroom, which contained other gifts--not all from him--and many
letters, in the writing of which learning had likewise suffered. The
immediate cause of the putting away of this ring was said to be the
renowned Clinton Howe, who was on the Harvard football eleven, and who
visited Mr. George Hanbury that Easter. Fortunate indeed the tailor who
was called upon to practise his art on an Adonis like Mr. Howe, and it
was remarked that he scarcely left Honora's side at the garden party and
dance which Mrs. Dwyer gave in honour of the returning heroes, on the
Monday of Easter week.

This festival, on which we should like to linger, but cannot, took place
at the new Dwyer residence. For six months the Victorian mansion opposite
Uncle Tom's house had been sightless, with blue blinds drawn down inside
the plate glass windows. And the yellow stone itself was not so yellow as
it once had been, but had now the appearance of soiled manilla wrapping
paper, with black streaks here and there where the soot had run. The new
Dwyer house was of grey stone, Georgian and palatial, with a
picture-gallery twice the size of the old one; a magnificent and fitting
pioneer in a new city of palaces.

Westward the star of Empire--away from the smoke. The Dwyer mansion, with
its lawns and gardens and heavily balustraded terrace, faced the park
that stretched away like a private estate to the south and west. That
same park with its huge trees and black forests that was Ultima Thule in
Honora's childhood; in the open places there had been real farms and
hayricks which she used to slide down with Peter while Uncle Tom looked
for wild flowers in the fields. It had been separated from the city in
those days by an endless country road, like a Via Claudia stretching
towards mysterious Germanian forests, and it was deemed a feat for Peter
to ride thither on his big-wheeled bicycle. Forest Park was the country,
and all that the country represented in Honora's childhood. For Uncle Tom
on a summer's day to hire a surrey at Braintree's Livery Stable and drive
thither was like--to what shall that bliss be compared in these days when
we go to Europe with indifference?

And now Lindell Road--the Via Claudia of long, ago--had become Lindell
Boulevard, with granitoid sidewalks. And the dreary fields through which
it had formerly run were bristling with new houses in no sense Victorian,
and which were the first stirrings of a national sense of the artistic.
The old horse-cars with the clanging chains had disappeared, and you
could take an electric to within a block of the imposing grille that
surrounded the Dwyer grounds. Westward the star!

Fading fast was the glory of that bright new district on top of the
second hill from the river where Uncle Tom was a pioneer. Soot had killed
the pear trees, the apricots behind the lattice fence had withered away;
asphalt and soot were slowly sapping the vitality of the maples on the
sidewalk; and sometimes Uncle Tom's roses looked as though they might
advantageously be given a coat of paint, like those in Alice in
Wonderland. Honora should have lived in the Dwyers' mansion-people who
are capable of judging said so. People who saw her at the garden party
said she had the air of belonging in such surroundings much more than
Emily, whom even budding womanhood had not made beautiful. And Eliphalet
Hopper Dwyer, if his actions meant anything, would have welcomed her to
that house, or built her another twice as fine, had she deigned to give
him the least encouragement.

Cinderella! This was what she facetiously called herself one July morning
of that summer she was eighteen.

Cinderella in more senses than one, for never had the city seemed more
dirty or more deserted, or indeed, more stifling. Winter and its
festivities were a dream laid away in moth balls. Surely Cinderella's
life had held no greater contrasts! To this day the odour of matting
brings back to Honora the sense of closed shutters; of a stifling south
wind stirring their slats at noonday; the vision of Aunt Mary, cool and
placid in a cambric sacque, sewing by the window in the upper hall, and
the sound of fruit venders crying in the street, or of ragmen in the
alley--"Rags, bottles, old iron!" What memories of endless, burning,
lonely days come rushing back with those words!

When the sun had sufficiently heated the bricks of the surrounding houses
in order that he might not be forgotten during the night, he slowly
departed. If Honora took her book under the maple tree in the yard, she
was confronted with that hideous wooden sign "To Let" on the Dwyer's iron
fence opposite, and the grass behind it was unkempt and overgrown with
weeds. Aunt Mary took an unceasing and (to Honora's mind) morbid interest
in the future of that house.

"I suppose it will be a boarding-house," she would say, "it's much too
large for poor people to rent, and only poor people are coming into this
district now."

"Oh, Aunt Mary!"

"Well, my dear, why should we complain? We are poor, and it is
appropriate that we should live among the poor. Sometimes I think it is a
pity that you should have been thrown all your life with rich people, my
child. I am afraid it has made you discontented. It is no disgrace to be
poor. We ought to be thankful that we have everything we need."

Honora put down her sewing. For she had learned to sew--Aunt Mary had
insisted upon that, as well as French. She laid her hand upon her aunt's.

"I am thankful," she said, and her aunt little guessed the intensity of
the emotion she was seeking to control, or imagined the hidden fires.
"But sometimes--sometimes I try to forget that we are poor. Perhaps
--some day we shall not be."

It seemed to Honora that Aunt Mary derived a real pleasure from the
contradiction of this hope. She shook her head vigorously.

"We shall always be, my child. Your Uncle Tom is getting old, and he has
always been too honest to make a great deal of money. And besides," she
added, "he has not that kind of ability."

Uncle Tom might be getting old, but he seemed to Honora to be of the same
age as in her childhood. Some people never grow old, and Uncle Tom was
one of these. Fifteen years before he had been promoted to be the cashier
of the Prairie Bank, and he was the cashier to-day. He had the same quiet
smile, the same quiet humour, the same calm acceptance of life. He seemed
to bear no grudge even against that ever advancing enemy, the soot, which
made it increasingly difficult for him to raise his flowers. Those which
would still grow he washed tenderly night and morning with his
watering-pot. The greatest wonders are not at the ends of the earth, but
near us. It was to take many years for our heroine to realize this.

Strong faith alone could have withstood the continued contact with such a
determined fatalism as Aunt Mary's, and yet it is interesting to note
that Honora's belief in her providence never wavered. A prince was to
come who was to bear her away from the ragmen and the boarding-houses and
the soot: and incidentally and in spite of herself, Aunt Mary was to come
too, and Uncle Tom. And sometimes when she sat reading of an evening
under the maple, her book would fall to her lap and the advent of this
personage become so real a thing that she bounded when the gate slammed
--to find that it was only Peter.

It was preposterous, of course, that Peter should be a prince in
disguise. Peter who, despite her efforts to teach him distinction in
dress, insisted upon wearing the same kind of clothes. A mild kind of
providence, Peter, whose modest functions were not unlike those of the
third horse which used to be hitched on to the street car at the foot of
the Seventeenth-Street hill: it was Peter's task to help pull Honora
through the interminable summers. Uhrig's Cave was an old story now:
mysteries were no longer to be expected in St. Louis. There was a great
panorama--or something to that effect--in the wilderness at the end of
one of the new electric lines, where they sometimes went to behold the
White Squadron of the new United States Navy engaged in battle with mimic
forts on a mimic sea, on the very site where the country place of Madame
Clement had been. The mimic sea, surrounded by wooden stands filled with
common people eating peanuts and popcorn, was none other than Madame
Clement's pond, which Honora remembered as a spot of enchantment. And
they went out in the open cars with these same people, who stared at
Honora as though she had got in by mistake, but always politely gave her
a seat. And Peter thanked them. Sometimes he fell into conversations with
them, and it was noticeable that they nearly always shook hands with him
at parting. Honora did not approve of this familiarity.

"But they may be clients some day," he argued--a frivolous answer to
which she never deigned to reply.

Just as one used to take for granted that third horse which pulled the
car uphill, so Peter was taken for granted. He might have been on the
highroad to a renown like that of Chief Justice Marshall, and Honora had
been none the wiser.

"Well, Peter," said Uncle Tom at dinner one evening of that memorable
summer, when Aunt Mary was helping the blackberries, and incidentally
deploring that she did not live in the country, because of the cream one
got there, "I saw Judge Brice in the bank to-day, and he tells me you
covered yourself with glory in that iron foundry suit."

"The Judge must have his little joke, Mr. Leffingwell," replied Peter,
but he reddened nevertheless.

Honora thought winning an iron foundry suit a strange way to cover one's
self with glory. It was not, at any rate, her idea of glory. What were
lawyers for, if not to win suits? And Peter was a lawyer.

"In five years," said Uncle Tom, "the firm will be 'Brice and Erwin'. You
mark my words. And by that time," he added, with a twinkle in his eye,
"you'll be ready to marry Honora."

"Tom," reproved Aunt Mary, gently, "you oughtn't to say such things."

This time there was no doubt about Peter's blush. He fairly burned.
Honora looked at him and laughed.

"Peter is meant for an old bachelor," she said.

"If he remains a bachelor," said Uncle Tom, "he'll be the greatest waste
of good material I know of. And if you succeed in getting him, Honora,
you'll be the luckiest young woman of my acquaintance."

"Tom," said Aunt Mary, "it was all very well to talk that way when Honora
was a child. But now--she may not wish to marry Peter. And Peter may not
wish to marry her."

Even Peter joined in the laughter at this literal and characteristic
statement of the case.

"It's more than likely," said Honora, wickedly. "He hasn't kissed me for
two years."

"Why, Peter," said Uncle Tom, "you act as though it were warm to-night.
It was only seventy when we came in to dinner."

"Take me out to the park," commanded Honora.

"Tom," said Aunt Mary, as she stood on the step and watched them cross
the street, "I wish the child would marry him. Not now, of course," she
added hastily,--a little frightened by her own admission, "but later.
Sometimes I worry over her future. She needs a strong and sensible man. I
don't understand Honora. I never did. I always told you so. Sometimes I
think she may be capable of doing something foolish like--like
Randolph."

Uncle Tom patted his wife on the shoulder.

"Don't borrow trouble, Mary," he said, smiling a little. "The child is
only full of spirits. But she has a good heart. It is only human that she
should want things that we cannot give her."

"I wish," said Aunt Mary, "that she were not quite so good-looking."

Uncle Tom laughed. "You needn't tell me you're not proud of it," he
declared.

"And I have given her," she continued, "a taste for dress."

"I think, my dear," said her husband, "that there were others who
contributed to that."

"It was my own vanity. I should have combated the tendency in her," said
Aunt Mary.

"If you had dressed Honora in calico, you could not have changed her,"
replied Uncle Tom, with conviction.

In the meantime Honora and Peter had mounted the electric car, and were
speeding westward. They had a seat to themselves, the very first one on
the "grip"--that survival of the days of cable cars. Honora's eyes
brightened as she held on to her hat, and the stray wisps of hair about
her neck stirred in the breeze.

"Oh, I wish we would never stop, until we came to the Pacific Ocean!" she
exclaimed.

"Would you be content to stop then?" he asked. He had a trick of looking
downward with a quizzical expression in his dark grey eyes.

"No," said Honora. "I should want to go on and see everything in the
world worth seeing. Sometimes I feel positively as though I should die if
I had to stay here in St. Louis."

"You probably would die--eventually," said Peter.

Honora was justifiably irritated.

"I could shake you, Peter!"

He laughed.

"I'm afraid it wouldn't do any good," he answered.

"If I were a man," she proclaimed, "I shouldn't stay here. I'd go to New
York--I'd be somebody--I'd make a national reputation for myself."

"I believe you would," said Peter sadly, but with a glance of admiration.

"That's the worst of being a woman--we have to sit still until something
happens to us."

"What would you like to happen?" he asked, curiously. And there was a
note in his voice which she, intent upon her thoughts, did not remark.

"Oh, I don't know," she said; "anything--anything to get out of this rut
and be something in the world. It's dreadful to feel that one has power
and not be able to use it."

The car stopped at the terminal. Thanks to the early hour of Aunt Mary's
dinner, the western sky was still aglow with the sunset over the forests
as they walked past the closed grille of the Dwyer mansion into the park.
Children rolled on the grass, while mothers and fathers, tired out from
the heat and labour of a city day, sat on the benches. Peter stooped down
and lifted a small boy, painfully thin, who had fallen, weeping, on the
gravel walk. He took his handkerchief and wiped the scratch on the
child's forehead.

"There, there!" he said, smiling, "it's all right now. We must expect a
few tumbles."

The child looked at him, and suddenly smiled through his tears.

The father appeared, a red-headed Irishman.

"Thank you, Mr. Erwin; I'm sure it's very kind of you, sir, to bother
with him," he said gratefully. "It's that thin he is with the heat, I
take him out for a bit of country air."

"Why, Tim, it's you, is it?" said Peter. "He's the janitor of our
building down town," he explained to Honora, who had remained a silent
witness to this simple scene. She had been, in spite of herself,
impressed by it, and by the mingled respect and affection in the
janitor's manner towards Peter. It was so with every one to whom he
spoke. They walked on in silence for a few moments, into a path leading
to a lake, which had stolen the flaming green-gold of the sky.

"I suppose," said Honora, slowly, "it would be better for me to wish to
be contented where I am, as you are. But it's no use trying, I can't."

Peter was not a preacher.

"Oh," he said, "there are lots of things I want."

"What?" demanded Honora, interested. For she had never conceived of him
as having any desires whatever.

"I want a house like Mr. Dwyer's," he declared, pointing at the distant
imposing roof line against the fading eastern sky.

Honora laughed. The idea of Peter wishing such a house was indeed
ridiculous. Then she became grave again.

"There are times when you seem to forget that I have at last grown up,
Peter. You never will talk over serious things with me."

"What are serious things?" asked Peter.

"Well," said Honora vaguely, "ambitions, and what one is going to make of
themselves in life. And then you make fun of me by saying you want Mr.
Dwyer's house." She laughed again. "I can't imagine you in that house!"

"Why not?" he asked, stopping beside the pond and thrusting his hands in
his pockets. He looked very solemn, but she knew he was smiling inwardly.

"Why--because I can't," she said, and hesitated. The question had forced
her to think about Peter. "I can't imagine you living all alone in all
that luxury. It isn't like you."

"Why I all alone?" asked Peter.

"Don't--Don't be ridiculous," she said; "you wouldn't build a house like
that, even if you were twice as rich as Mr. Dwyer. You know you wouldn't.
And you're not the marrying kind," she added, with the superior knowledge
of eighteen.

"I'm waiting for you, Honora," he announced.

"You know I love you, Peter,"--so she tempered her reply, for Honora's
feelings were tender. What man, even Peter, would not have married her if
he could? Of course he was in earnest, despite his bantering tone, "but I
never could--marry you."

"Not even if I were to offer you a house like Mr. Dwyer's?" he said. A
remark which betrayed--although not to her--his knowledge of certain
earthly strains in his goddess.

The colours faded from the water, and it blackened.

As they walked on side by side in the twilight, a consciousness of
repressed masculine force, of reserve power, which she had never before
felt about Peter Erwin, invaded her; and she was seized with a strange
uneasiness. Ridiculous was the thought (which she lost no time in
rejecting) that pointed out the true road to happiness in marrying such a
man as he. In the gathering darkness she slipped her hand through his
arm.

"I wish I could marry you, Peter," she said.

He was fain to take what comfort he could from this expression of
good-will. If he was not the Prince Charming of her dreams, she would
have liked him to be. A little reflection on his part ought to have shown
him the absurdity of the Prince Charming having been there all the time,
and in ready-made clothes. And he, too, may have had dreams. We are not
concerned with them.

          ............................

If we listen to the still, small voice of realism, intense longing is
always followed by disappointment. Nothing should have happened that
summer, and Providence should not have come disguised as the postman. It
was a sultry day in early September-which is to say that it was
comparatively cool--a blue day, with occasional great drops of rain
spattering on the brick walk. And Honora was reclining on the hall sofa,
reading about Mr. Ibbetson and his duchess, when she perceived the
postman's grey uniform and smiling face on the far side of the screen
door. He greeted her cordially, and gave her a single letter for Aunt
Mary, and she carried it unsuspectingly upstairs.

"It's from Cousin Eleanor," Honora volunteered.

Aunt Mary laid down her sewing, smoothed the ruffles of her sacque,
adjusted her spectacles, opened the envelope, and began to read.
Presently the letter fell to her lap, and she wiped her glasses and
glanced at Honora, who was deep in her book once more. And in Honora's
brain, as she read, was ringing the refrain of the prisoner:

            "Orleans, Beaugency!
             Notre Dame de Clery!
               Vendome! Vendome!
             Quel chagrin, quel ennui
             De compter toute la nuit
               Les heures, les heures!".

The verse appealed to Honora strangely; just as it had appealed to
Ibbetson. Was she not, too, a prisoner. And how often, during the summer
days and nights, had she listened to the chimes of the Pilgrim Church
near by?

            "One, two, three, four!
             One, two, three, four!"

After Uncle Tom had watered his flowers that evening, Aunt Mary followed
him upstairs and locked the door of their room behind her. Silently she
put the letter in his hand. Here is one paragraph of it:

   "I have never asked to take the child from you in the summer,
   because she has always been in perfect health, and I know how lonely
   you would have been without her, my dear Mary. But it seems to me
   that a winter at Sutcliffe, with my, girls, would do her a world of
   good just now. I need not point out to you that Honora is, to say
   the least, remarkably good looking, and that she has developed very
   rapidly. And she has, in spite of the strict training you have
   given her, certain ideas and ambitions which seem to me, I am sorry
   to say, more or less prevalent among young American women these
   days. You know it is only because I love her that I am so frank.
   Miss Turner's influence will, in my opinion, do much to counteract
   these tendencies."

Uncle Tom folded the letter, and handed it back to his wife.

"I feel that we ought not to refuse, Tom. And I am afraid Eleanor is
right."

"Well, Mary, we've had her for seventeen years. We ought to be willing to
spare her for--how many months?"

"Nine," said Aunt Mary, promptly. She had counted them. "And Eleanor says
she will be home for two weeks at Christmas. Seventeen years! It seems
only yesterday when we brought her home, Tom. It was just about this time
of day, and she was asleep in your arms, and Bridget opened the door for
us." Aunt Mary looked out of the window. "And do you remember how she
used to play under the maple there, with her dolls?"

Uncle Tom produced a very large handkerchief, and blew his nose.

"There, there, Mary," he said, "nine months, and two weeks out at
Christmas. Nine months in eighteen years."

"I suppose we ought to be very thankful," said Aunt Mary. "But, Tom, the
time is coming soon--"

"Tut tut," exclaimed Uncle Tom. He turned, and his eyes beheld a work of
art. Nothing less than a porcelain plate, hung in brackets on the wall,
decorated by Honora at the age of ten with wild roses, and presented with
much ceremony on an anniversary morning. He pretended not to notice it,
but Aunt Mary's eyes were too quick. She seized a photograph on her
bureau, a photograph of Honora in a little white frock with a red sash.

"It was the year that was taken, Tom."

He nodded. The scene at the breakfast table came back to him, and the
sight of Catherine standing respectfully in the hall, and of Honora, in
the red sash, making the courtesy the old woman had taught her.

Honora recalled afterwards that Uncle Tom joked even more than usual that
evening at dinner. But it was Aunt Mary who asked her, at length, how she
would like to go to boarding-school. Such was the matter-of-fact manner
in which the portentous news was announced.

"To boarding-school, Aunt Mary?"

Her aunt poured out her uncle's after-dinner coffee.

"I've spilled some, my dear. Get another saucer for your uncle."

Honora went mechanically to the china closet, her heart thumping. She did
not stop to reflect that it was the rarest of occurrences for Aunt Mary
to spill the coffee.

"Your Cousin Eleanor has invited you to go this winter with Edith and
Mary to Sutcliffe."

Sutcliffe! No need to tell Honora what Sutcliffe was--her cousins had
talked of little else during the past winter; and shown, if the truth be
told, just a little commiseration for Honora. Sutcliffe was not only a
famous girls' school, Sutcliffe was the world--that world which, since
her earliest remembrances, she had been longing to see and know. In a
desperate attempt to realize what had happened to her, she found herself
staring hard at the open china closet, at Aunt Mary's best gold dinner
set resting on the pink lace paper that had been changed only last week.
That dinner set, somehow, was always an augury of festival--when, on the
rare occasions Aunt Mary entertained, the little dining room was
transformed by it and the Leffingwell silver into a glorified and
altogether unrecognizable state, in which any miracle seemed possible.

Honora pushed back her chair.

Her lips were parted.

"Oh, Aunt Mary, is it really true that I am going?" she said.

"Why," said Uncle Tom, "what zeal for learning!"

"My dear," said Aunt Mary, who, you may be sure, knew all about that
school before Cousin Eleanor's letter came, "Miss Turner insists upon
hard work, and the discipline is very strict."

"No young men," added Uncle Tom.

"That," declared Aunt Mary, "is certainly an advantage."

"And no chocolate cake, and bed at ten o'clock," said Uncle Tom.

Honora, dazed, only half heard them. She laughed at Uncle Tom because she
always had, but tears were shining in her eyes. Young men and chocolate
cake! What were these privations compared to that magic word Change?
Suddenly she rose, and flung her arms about Uncle Tom's neck and kissed
his rough cheek, and then embraced Aunt Mary. They would be lonely.

"Aunt Mary, I can't bear to leave you--but I do so want to go! And it
won't be for long--will it? Only until next spring."

"Until next summer, I believe," replied Aunt Mary, gently; "June is a
summer month-isn't it, Tom?"

"It will be a summer month without question next year," answered Uncle
Tom, enigmatically.

It has been remarked that that day was sultry, and a fine rain was now
washing Uncle Tom's flowers for him. It was he who had applied that term
"washing" since the era of ultra-soot. Incredible as it may seem, life
proceeded as on any other of a thousand rainy nights. The lamps were
lighted in the sitting-room, Uncle Tom unfolded his gardening periodical,
and Aunt Mary her embroidery. The gate slammed, with its more subdued,
rainy-weather sound.

"It's Peter," said Honora, flying downstairs. And she caught him,
astonished, as he was folding his umbrella on the step. "Oh, Peter, if
you tried until to-morrow morning, you never could guess what has
happened."

He stood for a moment, motionless, staring at her, a tall figure,
careless of the rain.

"You are going away," he said.

"How did you guess it?" she exclaimed in surprise. "Yes--to
boarding-school. To Sutcliffe, on the Hudson, with Edith and Mary. Aren't
you glad? You look as though you had seen a ghost."

"Do I?" said Peter.

"Don't stand there in the rain," commanded Honora; "come into the
parlour, and I'll tell you all about it."

He came in. She took the umbrella from him, and put it in the rack.

"Why don't you congratulate me?" she demanded.

"You'll never come back," said Peter.

"What a horrid thing to say! Of course I shall come back. I shall come
back next June, and you'll be at the station to meet me."

And--what will Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary do--without you?"

"Oh," said Honora, "I shall miss them dreadfully. And I shall miss you,
Peter."

"Very much?" he asked, looking down at her with such a queer expression.
And his voice, too, sounded queer. He was trying to smile.

Suddenly Honora realized that he was suffering, and she felt the pangs of
contrition. She could not remember the time when she had been away from
Peter, and it was natural that he should be stricken at the news. Peter,
who was the complement of all who loved and served her, of Aunt Mary and
Uncle Tom and Catherine, and who somehow embodied them all. Peter, the
eternally dependable.

She found it natural that the light should be temporarily removed from
his firmament while she should be at boarding-school, and yet in the
tenderness of her heart she pitied him. She put her hands impulsively
upon his shoulders as he stood looking at her with that queer expression
which he believed to be a smile.

"Peter, you dear old thing, indeed I shall miss you! I don't know what I
shall do without you, and I'll write to you every single week."

Gently he disengaged her arms. They were standing under that which, for
courtesy's sake, had always been called the chandelier. It was in the
centre of the parlour, and Uncle Tom always covered it with holly and
mistletoe at Christmas.

"Why do you say I'll never come back?" asked Honora. "Of course I shall
come back, and live here all the rest of my life."

Peter shook his head slowly. He had recovered something of his customary
quizzical manner.

"The East is a strange country," he said. "The first thing we know you'll
be marrying one of those people we read about, with more millions than
there are cars on the Olive Street line."

Honora was a little indignant.

"I wish you wouldn't talk so, Peter," she said. "In the first place, I
shan't see any but girls at Sutcliffe. I could only see you for a few
minutes once a week if you were there. And in the second place, it isn't
exactly--Well--dignified to compare the East and the West the way you do,
and speak about people who are very rich and live there as though they
were different from the people we know here. Comparisons, as Shakespeare
said, are odorous."

"Honora," he declared, still shaking his head, "you're a fraud, but I
can't help loving you."

For a long time that night Honora lay in bed staring into the darkness,
and trying to realize what had happened. She heard the whistling and the
puffing of the trains in the cinder-covered valley to the southward, but
the quality of these sounds had changed. They were music now.



CHAPTER VI

HONORA HAS A GLIMPSE OF THE WORLD

It is simply impossible to give any adequate notion of the industry of
the days that followed. No sooner was Uncle Tom out of the house in the
morning than Anne Rory marched into the sitting-room and took command,
and turned it, into a dressmaking establishment. Anne Rory, who deserves
more than a passing mention, one of the institutions of Honora's youth,
who sewed for the first families, and knew much more about them than Mr.
Meeker, the dancing-master. If you enjoyed her confidence,--as Aunt Mary
did,--she would tell you of her own accord who gave their servants enough
to eat, and who didn't. Anne Rory was a sort of inquisition all by
herself, and would have made a valuable chief of police. The reputations
of certain elderly gentlemen of wealth might have remained to this day
intact had it not been for her; she had a heaven-sent knack of
discovering peccadilloes. Anne Rory knew the gentlemen by sight, and the
gentlemen did not know Anne Rory. Uncle Tom she held to be somewhere in
the calendar of the saints.

There is not time, alas, to linger over Anne Rory or the new histories
which she whispered to Aunt Mary when Honora was out of the room. At last
the eventful day of departure arrived. Honora's new trunk--her
first--was packed by Aunt Mary's own hands, the dainty clothes and the
dresses folded in tissue paper, while old Catherine stood sniffing by.
After dinner--sign of a great occasion--a carriage came from Braintree's
Livery Stable, and Uncle Tom held the horses while the driver carried out
the trunk and strapped it on. Catherine, Mary Ann, and Bridget, all
weeping, were kissed good-by, and off they went through the dusk to the
station. Not the old Union Depot, with its wooden sheds, where Honora had
gone so often to see the Hanburys off, that grimy gateway to the fairer
regions of the earth. This new station, of brick and stone and glass and
tiles, would hold an army corps with ease. And when they alighted at the
carriage entrance, a tall figure came forward out of the shadow. It was
Peter, and he had a package under his arm. Peter checked Honora's trunk,
and Peter had got the permission--through Judge Brice--which enabled them
all to pass through the grille and down the long walk beside which the
train was standing.

They entered that hitherto mysterious conveyance, a sleeping-car, and
spoke to old Mrs. Stanley, who was going East to see her married
daughter, and who had gladly agreed to take charge of Honora. Afterwards
they stood on the platform, but in spite of the valiant efforts of Uncle
Tom and Peter, conversation was a mockery.

"Honora," said Aunt Mary, "don't forget that your trunk key is in the
little pocket on the left side of your bag."

"No, Aunt Mary."

"And your little New Testament at the bottom. And your lunch is arranged
in three packages. And don't forget to ask Cousin Eleanor about the
walking shoes, and to give her my note."

Cries reverberated under the great glass dome, and trains pulled out with
deafening roars. Honora had a strange feeling, as of pressure from
within, that caused her to take deep breaths of the smoky air. She but
half heard what was being said to her: she wished that the train would
go, and at the same time she had a sudden, surprising, and fierce longing
to stay. She had been able to eat scarcely a mouthful of that festal
dinner which Bridget had spent the afternoon in preparing, comprised
wholly of forbidden dishes of her childhood, for which Bridget and Aunt
Mary were justly famed. Such is the irony of life. Visions of one of Aunt
Mary's rare lunch-parties and of a small girl peeping covetously through
a crack in the dining-room door, and of the gold china set, rose before
her. But she could not eat.

"Bread and jam and tea at Miss Turner's," Uncle Tom had said, and she had
tried to smile at him.

And now they were standing on the platform, and the train might start at
any moment.

"I trust you won't get like the New Yorkers, Honora," said Aunt Mary. "Do
you remember how stiff they were, Tom?" She was still in the habit of
referring to that memorable trip when they had brought Honora home. "And
they say now that they hold their heads higher than ever."

"That," said Uncle Tom, gravely, "is a local disease, and comes from
staring at the tall buildings."

"Uncle Tom!"

Peter presented the parcel under his arm. It was a box of candy, and very
heavy, on which much thought had been spent.

"They are some of the things you like," he said, when he had returned
from putting it in the berth.

"How good of you, Peter! I shall never be able to eat all that."

"I hope there is a doctor on the train," said Uncle Tom.

"Yassah," answered the black porter, who had been listening with evident
relish, "right good doctah--Doctah Lov'ring."

Even Aunt Mary laughed.

"Peter," asked Honora, "can't you get Judge Brice to send you on to New
York this winter on law business? Then you could come up to Sutcliffe to
see me."

"I'm afraid of Miss Turner," declared Peter.

"Oh, she wouldn't mind you," exclaimed Honora. "I could say you were an
uncle. It would be almost true. And perhaps she would let you take me
down to New York for a matinee."

"And how about my ready-made clothes?" he said, looking down at her. He
had never forgotten that.

Honora laughed.

"You don't seem a bit sorry that I'm going," she replied, a little
breathlessly. "You know I'd be glad to see you, if you were in rags."

"All aboard!" cried the porter, grinning sympathetically.

Honora threw her arms around Aunt Mary and clung to her. How small and
frail she was! Somehow Honora had never realized it in all her life
before.

"Good-by, darling, and remember to put on your thick clothes on the cool
days, and write when you get to New York."

Then it was Uncle Tom's turn. He gave her his usual vigorous hug and
kiss.

"It won't be long until Christmas," he whispered, and was gone, helping
Aunt Mary off the train, which had begun to move.

Peter remained a moment.

"Good-by, Honora. I'll write to you often and let you know how they are.
And perhaps--you'll send me a letter once in a while."

"Oh, Peter, I will," she cried. "I can't bear to leave you--I didn't
think it would be so hard--"

He held out his hand, but she ignored it. Before he realized what had
happened to him she had drawn his face to hers, kissed it, and was
pushing him off the train. Then she watched from the, platform the three
receding figures in the yellow smoky light until the car slipped out from
under the roof into the blackness of the night. Some faint, premonitory
divination of what they represented of immutable love in a changing,
heedless, selfish world came to her; rocks to which one might cling,
successful or failing, happy or unhappy. For unconsciously she thought of
them, all three, as one, a human trinity in which her faith had never
been betrayed. She felt a warm moisture on her cheeks, and realized that
she was crying with the first real sorrow of her life.

She was leaving them--for what? Honora did not know. There had been
nothing imperative in Cousin Eleanor's letter. She need not have gone if
she had not wished. Something within herself, she felt, was impelling
her. And it is curious to relate that, in her mind, going to school had
little or nothing to do with her journey. She had the feeling of faring
forth into the world, and she had known all along that it was destined
she should. What was the cause of this longing to break the fetters and
fly away? fetters of love, they seemed to her now--and were. And the
world which she had seen afar, filled with sunlit palaces, seemed very
dark and dreary to her to-night.

"The lady's asking for you, Miss," said the porter.

She made a heroic attempt to talk to Mrs. Stanley. But at the sight of
Peter's candy, when she opened it, she was blinded once more. Dear Peter!
That box was eloquent with the care with which he had studied her
slightest desires and caprices. Marrons glaces, and Langtrys, and certain
chocolates which had received the stamp of her approval--and she could
not so much as eat one! The porter made the berths. And there had been a
time when she had asked nothing more of fate than to travel in a
sleeping-car! Far into the night she lay wide awake, dry-eyed, watching
the lamp-lit streets of the little towns they passed, or staring at the
cornfields and pastures in the darkness; thinking of the home she had
left, perhaps forever, and wondering whether they were sleeping there;
picturing them to-morrow at breakfast without her, and Uncle Tom leaving
for the bank, Aunt Mary going through the silent rooms alone, and dear
old Catherine haunting the little chamber where she had slept for
seventeen years--almost her lifetime. A hundred vivid scenes of her
childhood came back, and familiar objects oddly intruded themselves; the
red and green lambrequin on the parlour mantel--a present many years ago
from Cousin Eleanor; the what-not, with its funny curly legs, and the
bare spot near the lock on the door of the cake closet in the dining
room!

Youth, however, has its recuperative powers. The next day the excitement
of the journey held her, the sight of new cities and a new countryside.
But when she tried to eat the lunch Aunt Mary had so carefully put up,
new memories assailed her, and she went with Mrs. Stanley into the dining
car. The September dusk was made lurid by belching steel-furnaces that
reddened the heavens; and later, when she went to bed, sharp air and
towering contours told her of the mountains. Mountains which her
great-grandfather had crossed on horse back, with that very family silver
in his saddle-bags which shone on Aunt Mary's table. And then--she awoke
with the light shining in her face, and barely had time to dress before
the conductor was calling out "Jersey City."

Once more the morning, and with it new and wonderful sensations that
dispelled her sorrows; the ferry, the olive-green river rolling in the
morning sun, alive with dodging, hurrying craft, each bent upon its
destination with an energy, relentlessness, and selfishness of purpose
that fascinated Honora. Each, with its shrill, protesting whistle, seemed
to say: "My business is the most important. Make way for me." And yet,
through them all, towering, stately, imperturbable, a great ocean steamer
glided slowly towards the bay, by very might and majesty holding her way
serene and undisturbed, on a nobler errand. Honora thrilled as she gazed,
as though at last her dream were coming true, and she felt within her the
pulse of the world's artery. That irksome sense of spectatorship seemed
to fly, and she was part and parcel now of the great, moving things, with
sure pinions with which to soar. Standing rapt upon the forward deck of
the ferry, she saw herself, not an atom, but one whose going and coming
was a thing of consequence. It seemed but a simple step to the deck of
that steamer when she, too, would be travelling to the other side of the
world, and the journey one of the small incidents of life.

The ferry bumped into its slip, the windlasses sang loudly as they took
up the chains, the gates folded back, and Honora was forced with the
crowd along the bridge-like passage to the right. Suddenly she saw Cousin
Eleanor and the girls awaiting her.

"Honora," said Edith, when the greetings were over and they were all four
in the carriage, which was making its way slowly across the dirty and
irregularly paved open space to a narrow street that opened between two
saloons, "Honora, you don't mean to say that Anne Rory made that street
dress? Mother, I believe it's better-looking than the one I got at
Bremer's."

"It's very simple,", said Honora.

"And she looks fairly radiant," cried Edith, seizing her cousin's hand.
"It's quite wonderful, Honora; nobody would ever guess that you were from
the West, and that you had spent the whole summer in St. Louis."

Cousin Eleanor smiled a little as she contemplated Honora, who sat,
fascinated, gazing out of the window at novel scenes. There was a colour
in her cheeks and a sparkle in her eyes. They had reached Madison Square.
Madison Square, on a bright morning in late September, seen for the first
time by an ambitious young lady who had never been out of St. Louis! The
trimly appointed vehicles, the high-stepping horses, the glittering
shops, the well-dressed women and well-groomed men--all had an esprit de
corps which she found inspiring. On such a morning, and amidst such a
scene, she felt that there was no limit to the possibilities of life.

Until this year, Cousin Eleanor had been a conservative in the matter of
hotels, when she had yielded to Edith's entreaties to go to one of the
"new ones." Hotels, indeed, that revolutionized transient existence. This
one, on the Avenue, had a giant in a long blue livery coat who opened
their carriage door, and a hall in yellow and black onyx, and maids and
valets. After breakfast, when Honora sat down to write to Aunt Mary, she
described the suite of rooms in which they lived,--the brass beds, the
electric night lamps, the mahogany French furniture, the heavy carpets,
and even the white-tiled bathroom. There was a marvellous arrangement in
the walls with which Edith was never tired of playing, a circular plate
covered with legends of every conceivable want, from a newspaper to a
needle and thread and a Scotch whiskey highball.

At breakfast, more stimulants--of a mental nature, of course. Solomon in
all his glory had never broken eggs in such a dining room. It had onyx
pillars, too, and gilt furniture, and table after table of the whitest
napery stretched from one end of it to the other. The glass and silver
was all of a special pattern, and an obsequious waiter handed Honora a
menu in a silver frame, with a handle. One side of the menu was in
English, and the other in French. All around them were well-dressed,
well-fed, prosperous-looking people, talking and laughing in subdued
tones as they ate. And Honora had a strange feeling of being one of them,
of being as rich and prosperous as they, of coming into a long-deferred
inheritance.

The mad excitement of that day in New York is a faint memory now, so much
has Honora lived since then. We descendants of rigid Puritans, of pioneer
tobacco-planters and frontiersmen, take naturally to a luxury such as the
world has never seen--as our right. We have abolished kings, in order
that as many of us as possible may abide in palaces. In one day Honora
forgot the seventeen years spent in the "little house under the hill," as
though these had never been. Cousin Eleanor, with a delightful sense of
wrong-doing, yielded to the temptation to adorn her; and the saleswomen,
who knew Mrs. Hanbury, made indiscreet-remarks. Such a figure and such a
face, and just enough of height! Two new gowns were ordered, to be tried
on at Sutcliffe, and as many hats, and an ulster, and heaven knows what
else. Memory fails.

In the evening they went to a new comic opera, and it is the music of
that which brings back the day most vividly to Honora's mind.

In the morning they took an early train to Sutcliffe Manors, on the
Hudson. It is an historic place. First of all, after leaving the station,
you climb through the little town clinging to the hillside; and Honora
was struck by the quaint houses and shops which had been places of barter
before the Revolution. The age of things appealed to her. It was a
brilliant day at the very end of September, the air sharp, and here and
there a creeper had been struck crimson. Beyond the town, on the slopes,
were other new sights to stimulate the imagination: country houses--not
merely houses in the country, but mansions--enticingly hidden among great
trees in a way to whet Honora's curiosity as she pictured to herself the
blissful quality of the life which their owners must lead. Long, curving
driveways led up to the houses from occasional lodges; and once, as
though to complete the impression, a young man and two women, superbly
mounted, came trotting out of one of these driveways, talking and
laughing gayly. Honora took a good look at the man. He was not handsome,
but had, in fact, a distinguished and haunting ugliness. The girls were
straight-featured and conventional to the last degree.

Presently they came to the avenue of elms that led up to the long, low
buildings of the school.

Little more will be necessary, in the brief account of Honora's life at
boarding-school, than to add an humble word of praise on the excellence
of Miss Turner's establishment. That lady, needless to say, did not
advertise in the magazines, or issue a prospectus. Parents were more or
less in the situation of the candidates who desired the honour and
privilege of whitewashing Tom Sawyer's fence. If you were a parent, and
were allowed to confide your daughter to Miss Turner, instead of
demanding a prospectus, you gave thanks to heaven, and spoke about it to
your friends.

The life of the young ladies, of course, was regulated on the strictest
principles. Early rising, prayers, breakfast, studies; the daily walk,
rain or shine, under the watchful convoy of Miss Hood, the girls in
columns of twos; tennis on the school court, or skating on the school
pond. Cotton Mather himself could not have disapproved of the Sundays,
nor of the discourse of the elderly Doctor Moale (which you heard if you
were not a Presbyterian), although the reverend gentleman was distinctly
Anglican in appearance and manners. Sometimes Honora felt devout, and
would follow the service with the utmost attention. Her religion came in
waves. On the Sundays when the heathen prevailed she studied the
congregation, grew to distinguish the local country families; and, if the
truth must be told, watched for several Sundays for that ugly yet
handsome young man whom she had seen on horseback. But he never appeared,
and presently she forgot him.

Had there been a prospectus (which is ridiculous!), the great secret of
Miss Turner's school could not very well have been mentioned in it. The
English language, it is to be feared, is not quite flexible enough to
mention this secret with delicacy. Did Honora know it? Who can say?
Self-respecting young ladies do not talk about such things, and Honora
was nothing if not self-respecting.

               "SUTCLIFFE MANORS, October 15th.

   "DEAREST AUNT MARY: As I wrote you, I continue to miss you and Uncle
   Tom dreadfully,--and dear old Peter, too; and Cathy and Bridget and
   Mary Ann. And I hate to get up at seven o'clock. And Miss Hood,
   who takes us out walking and teaches us composition, is such a
   ridiculously strict old maid--you would laugh at her. And the
   Sundays are terrible. Miss Turner makes us read the Bible for a
   whole hour in the afternoon, and reads to us in the evening. And
   Uncle Tom was right when he said we should have nothing but jam and
   bread and butter for supper: oh, yes, and cold meat. I am always
   ravenously hungry. I count the days until Christmas, when I shall
   have some really good things to eat again. And of course I cannot
   wait to see you all.

   "I do not mean to give you the impression that I am not happy here,
   and I never can be thankful enough to dear Cousin Eleanor for
   sending me. Some of the girls are most attractive. Among others,
   I have become great friends with Ethel Wing, who is tall and blond
   and good-looking; and her clothes, though simple, are beautiful.
   To hear her imitate Miss Turner or Miss Hood or Dr. Moale is almost
   as much fun as going to the theatre. You must have heard of her
   father--he is the Mr. Wing who owns all the railroads and other
   things, and they have a house in Newport and another in New York,
   and a country place and a yacht.

   "I like Sarah Wycliffe very much. She was brought up abroad, and we
   lead the French class together. Her father has a house in Paris,
   which they only use for a month or so in the year: an hotel, as the
   French call it. And then there is Maude Capron, from Philadelphia,
   whose father is Secretary of War. I have now to go to my class in
   English composition, but I will write to you again on Saturday.

                    "Your loving niece,

                            "HONORA."

The Christmas holidays came, and went by like mileposts from the window
of an express train. There was a Glee Club: there were dances, and
private theatricals in Mrs. Dwyer's new house, in which it was imperative
that Honora should take part. There was no such thing as getting up for
breakfast, and once she did not see Uncle Tom for two whole days. He
asked her where she was staying. It was the first Christmas she
remembered spending without Peter. His present appeared, but perhaps it
was fortunate, on the whole, that he was in Texas, trying a case. It
seemed almost no time at all before she was at the station again,
clinging to Aunt Mary: but now the separation was not so hard, and she
had Edith and Mary for company, and George, a dignified and responsible
sophomore at Harvard.

Owing to the sudden withdrawal from school of little Louise Simpson, the
Cincinnati girl who had shared her room during the first term, Honora had
a new room-mate after the holidays, Susan Holt. Susan was not beautiful,
but she was good. Her nose turned up, her hair Honora described as a
negative colour, and she wore it in defiance of all prevailing modes. If
you looked very hard at Susan (which few people ever did), you saw that
she had remarkable blue eyes: they were the eyes of a saint. She was
neither tall nor short, and her complexion was not all that it might have
been. In brief, Susan was one of those girls who go through a whole term
at boarding--school without any particular notice from the more brilliant
Honoras and Ethel Wings.

In some respects, Susan was an ideal room-mate. She read the Bible every
night and morning, and she wrote many letters home. Her ruling passion,
next to religion, was order, and she took it upon herself to arrange
Honora's bureau drawers. It is needless to say that Honora accepted these
ministrations and that she found Susan's admiration an entirely natural
sentiment. Susan was self-effacing, and she enjoyed listening to Honora's
views on all topics.

Susan, like Peter, was taken for granted. She came from somewhere, and
after school was over, she would go somewhere. She lived in New York,
Honora knew, and beyond that was not curious. We never know when we are
entertaining an angel unawares. One evening, early in May, when she went
up to prepare for supper she found Susan sitting in the window reading a
letter, and on the floor beside her was a photograph. Honora picked it
up. It was the picture of a large country house with many chimneys, taken
across a wide green lawn.

"Susan, what's this?"

Susan looked up.

"Oh, it's Silverdale. My brother Joshua took it."

"Silverdale?" repeated Honora.

"It's our place in the country," Susan replied. "The family moved up last
week. You see, the trees are just beginning to bud."

Honora was silent a moment, gazing at the picture.

"It's very beautiful, isn't it? You never told me about it."

"Didn't I?" said Susan. "I think of it very often. It has always seemed
much more like home to me than our house in New York, and I love it
better than any spot I know."

Honora gazed at Susan, who had resumed her reading.

"And you are going there when school is over."

"Oh, yes," said Susan; "I can hardly wait." Suddenly she put down her
letter, and looked at Honora.

"And you," she asked, "where are you going?"

"I don't know. Perhaps--perhaps I shall go to the sea for a while with my
cousins."

It was foolish, it was wrong. But for the life of her Honora could not
say she was going to spend the long hot summer in St. Louis. The thought
of it had haunted her for weeks: and sometimes, when the other girls were
discussing their plans, she had left them abruptly. And now she was aware
that Susan's blue eyes were fixed upon her, and that they had a strange
and penetrating quality she had never noticed before: a certain
tenderness, an understanding that made Honora redden and turn.

"I wish," said Susan, slowly, "that you would come and stay awhile with
me. Your home is so far away, and I don't know when I shall see you
again."

"Oh, Susan," she murmured, "it's awfully good of you, but I'm afraid--I
couldn't."

She walked to the window, and stood looking out for a moment at the
budding trees. Her heart was beating faster, and she was strangely
uncomfortable.

"I really don't expect to go to the sea, Susan," she said. "You see, my
aunt and uncle are all alone in St. Louis, and I ought to go back to
them. If--if my father had lived, it might have been different. He died,
and my mother, when I was little more than a year old."

Susan was all sympathy. She slipped her hand into Honora's.

"Where did he live?" she asked.

"Abroad," answered Honora. "He was consul at Nice, and had a villa there
when he died. And people said he had an unusually brilliant career before
him. My aunt and uncle brought me up, and my cousin, Mrs. Hanbury,
Edith's mother, and Mary's, sent me here to school."

Honora breathed easier after this confession, but it was long before
sleep came to her that night. She wondered what it would be like to visit
at a great country house such as Silverdale, what it would be like to
live in one. It seemed a strange and cruel piece of irony on the part of
the fates that Susan, instead of Honora, should have been chosen for such
a life: Susan, who would have been quite as happy spending her summers in
St. Louis, and taking excursions in the electric cars: Susan, who had
never experienced that dreadful, vacuum-like feeling, who had no
ambitious craving to be satisfied. Mingled with her flushes of affection
for Susan was a certain queer feeling of contempt, of which Honora was
ashamed.

Nevertheless, in the days that followed, a certain metamorphosis seemed
to have taken place in Susan. She was still the same modest,
self-effacing, helpful roommate, but in Honora's eyes she had changed
--Honora could no longer separate her image from the vision of
Silverdale. And, if the naked truth must be told, it was due to
Silverdale that Susan owes the honour of her first mention in those
descriptive letters from Sutcliffe, which Aunt Mary has kept to this day.

Four days later Susan had a letter from her mother containing an
astonishing discovery. There could be no mistake,--Mrs. Holt had brought
Honora to this country as a baby.

"Why, Susan," cried Honora, "you must have been the other baby."

"But you were the beautiful one," replied Susan, generously. "I have
often heard mother tell about it, and how every one on the ship noticed
you, and how Hortense cried when your aunt and uncle took you away. And
to think we have been rooming together all these months and did not know
that we were really--old friends.

"And Honora, mother says you must come to Silverdale to pay us a visit
when school closes. She wants to see you. I think," added Susan, smiling,
"I think she feels responsible, for you. She says that you must give me
your aunts address, and that she will write to her."

"Oh, I'd so like to go, Susan. And I don't think Aunt Mary would object
---for a little while."

Honora lost no time in writing the letter asking for permission, and it
was not until after she had posted it that she felt a sudden, sharp
regret as she thought of them in their loneliness. But the postponement
of her homecoming would only be for a fortnight at best. And she had seen
so little!

In due time Aunt Mary's letter arrived. There was no mention of
loneliness in it, only of joy that Honora was to have the opportunity to
visit such a place as Silverdale. Aunt Mary, it seems, had seen pictures
of it long ago in a magazine of the book club, in an article concerning
one of Mrs. Holt's charities--a model home for indiscreet young women. At
the end of the year, Aunt Mary added, she had bought the number of the
magazine, because of her natural interest in Mrs. Holt on Honora's
account. Honora cried a little over that letter, but her determination to
go to Silverdale was unshaken.

June came at last, and the end of school. The subject of Miss Turner's
annual talk was worldliness. Miss Turner saw signs, she regretted to say,
of a lowering in the ideals of American women: of a restlessness, of a
desire for what was a false consideration and recognition; for power.
Some of her own pupils, alas! were not free from this fault. Ethel Wing,
who was next to Honora, nudged her and laughed, and passed her some of
Maillard's chocolates, which she had in her pocket. Woman's place,
continued Miss Turner, was the home, and she hoped they would all make
good wives. She had done her best to prepare them to be such.
Independence, they would find, was only relative: no one had it
completely. And she hoped that none of her scholars would ever descend to
that base competition to outdo one's neighbours, so characteristic of the
country to-day.

The friends, and even the enemies, were kissed good-by, with pledges of
eternal friendship. Cousin Eleanor Hanbury came for Edith and Mary, and
hoped Honora would enjoy herself at Silverdale. Dear Cousin Eleanor! Her
heart was large, and her charity unpretentious. She slipped into Honora's
fingers, as she embraced her, a silver-purse with some gold coins in it,
and bade her not to forget to write home very often.

"You know what pleasure it will give them, my dear," she said, as she
stepped on the train for New York.

"And I am going home soon, Cousin Eleanor," replied Honora, with a little
touch of homesickness in her voice.

"I know, dear," said Mrs. Hanbury. But there was a peculiar, almost
wistful expression on her face as she kissed Honora again, as of one who
assents to a fiction in order to humour a child.

As the train pulled out, Ethel Wing waved to her from the midst of a
group of girls on the wide rear platform of the last car. It was Mr.
Wing's private car, and was going to Newport.

"Be good, Honora!" she cried.





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