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Title: The Portion of Labor
Author: Freeman, Mary Eleanor Wilkins, 1852-1930
Language: English
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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 "The Portion of Labor" ***

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The Portion of Labor

By
Mary E. Wilkins


Author of
"Jerome" "A New England Nun" Etc.

Illustrated


Harper & Brothers
Publishers New York
And London MDCCCCI


To Henry Mills Alden



[Illustration: What did such a good little girl as you be run away from
father and mother for?]



Chapter I


On the west side of Ellen's father's house was a file of Norway
spruce-trees, standing with a sharp pointing of dark boughs towards
the north, which gave them an air of expectancy of progress.

Every morning Ellen, whose bedroom faced that way, looked out with a
firm belief that she would see them on the other side of the stone
wall, advanced several paces towards their native land. She had no
doubt of their ability to do so; their roots, projecting in fibrous
sprawls from their trunks, were their feet, and she pictured them
advancing with wide trailings, and rustlings as of green draperies,
and a loudening of that dreamy cry of theirs which was to her
imagination a cry of homesickness reminiscent of their old life in
the White north. When Ellen had first heard the name Norway spruce,
'way back in her childhood--so far back, though she was only seven
and a half now, that it seemed to her like a memory from another
life--she had asked her mother to show her Norway on the map, and
her strange convictions concerning the trees had seized her. When
her mother said that they had come from that northernmost land of
Europe, Ellen, to whose childhood all truth was naked and literal,
immediately conceived to herself those veritable trees advancing
over the frozen seas around the pole, and down through the vast
regions which were painted blue on her map, straight to her father's
west yard. There they stood and sang the songs of their own country,
with a melancholy sweetness of absence and longing, and were forever
thinking to return. Ellen felt always a thrill of happy surprise
when she saw them still there of a morning, for she felt that she
would miss them sorely when they were gone. She said nothing of all
this to her mother; it was one of the secrets of the soul which
created her individuality and made her a spiritual birth. She was
also silent about her belief concerning the cherry-trees in the east
yard. There were three of them, giants of their kind, which filled
the east yard every spring as with mountains of white bloom,
breathing wide gusts of honey sweetness, and humming with bees.
Ellen believed that these trees had once stood in the Garden of
Eden, but she never expected to find them missing from the east yard
of a morning, for she remembered the angel with the flaming sword,
and she knew how one branch of the easternmost tree happened to be
blasted as if by fire. And she thought that these trees were happy,
and never sighed to the wind as the dark evergreens did, because
they had still the same blossoms and the same fruit that they had in
Eden, and so did not fairly know that they were not there still.
Sometimes Ellen, sitting underneath them on a low rib of rock on a
May morning, used to fancy with success that she and the trees were
together in that first garden which she had read about in the Bible.

Sometimes, after one of these successful imaginings, when Ellen's
mother called her into the house she would stare at her little
daughter uneasily, and give her a spoonful of a bitter spring
medicine which she had brewed herself. When Ellen's father, Andrew
Brewster, came home from the shop, she would speak to him aside as
he was washing his hands at the kitchen sink, and tell him that it
seemed to her that Ellen looked kind of "pindlin'."  Then Andrew,
before he sat down at the dinner-table, would take Ellen's face in
his two moist hands, look at her with anxiety thinly veiled by
facetiousness, rub his rough, dark cheek against her soft, white one
until he had reddened it, then laugh, and tell her she looked like a
bo'sn. Ellen never quite knew what her father meant by bo'sn, but
she understood that it signified something very rosy and hearty
indeed.

Ellen's father always picked out for her the choicest and tenderest
bits of the humble dishes, and his keen eyes were more watchful of
her plate than of his own. Always after Ellen's mother had said to
her father that she thought Ellen looked pindling he was late about
coming home from the shop, and would turn in at the gate laden
with paper parcels. Then Ellen would find an orange or some other
delicacy beside her plate at supper. Ellen's aunt Eva, her mother's
younger sister, who lived with them, would look askance at the
tidbit with open sarcasm. "You jest spoil that young one, Fanny,"
she would say to her sister.

"You can do jest as you are a mind to with your own young ones when
you get them, but you can let mine alone. It's none of your business
what her father and me give her to eat; you don't buy it," Ellen's
mother would retort. There was the utmost frankness of speech
between the two sisters. Neither could have been in the slightest
doubt as to what the other thought of her, for it was openly
proclaimed to her a dozen times a day, and the conclusion was never
complimentary. Ellen learned very early to form her own opinions of
character from her own intuition, otherwise she would have held her
aunt and mother in somewhat slighting estimation, and she loved
them both dearly. They were headstrong, violent-tempered women, but
she had an instinct for the staple qualities below that surface
turbulence, which was lashed higher by every gust of opposition.
These two loud, contending voices, which filled the house before
and after shop-hours--for Eva worked in the shop with her
brother-in-law--with a duet of discords instead of harmonies, meant
no more to Ellen than the wrangle of the robins in the cherry-trees.
She supposed that two sisters always conversed in that way. She
never knew why her father, after a fiery but ineffectual attempt to
quell the feminine tumult, would send her across the east yard to
her grandmother Brewster's, and seat himself on the east door-step
in summer, or go down to the store in the winter. She would sit at
the window in her grandmother's sitting-room, eating peacefully the
slice of pound-cake or cooky with which she was always regaled, and
listen to the scolding voices across the yard as she might have
listened to any outside disturbance. She was never sucked into the
whirlpool of wrath which seemed to gyrate perpetually in her home,
and wondered at her grandmother Brewster's impatient exclamations
concerning the poor child, and her poor boy, and that it was a shame
and a disgrace, when now and then a louder explosion of wrath struck
her ears.

Ellen's grandmother--Mrs. Zelotes Brewster, as she was called,
though her husband Zelotes had been dead for many years--was an
aristocrat by virtue of inborn prejudices and convictions, in
despite of circumstances. The neighbors said that Mrs. Zelotes
Brewster had always been high-feeling, and had held up her head with
the best. It would have been nearer the truth to say that she held
up her head above the best. No one seeing the erect old woman, in
her draperies of the finest black goods to be bought in the city,
could estimate in what heights of thin upper air of spiritual
consequence her head was elevated. She had always a clear sight of
the head-tops of any throng in which she found herself, and queens
or duchesses would have been no exception. She would never have
failed to find some stool of superior possessions or traits upon
which to raise herself, and look down upon crown and coronet. When
she read in the papers about the marriage of a New York belle to an
English duke, she reflected that the duke could be by no means as
fine a figure of a man as Zelotes had been, and as her son Andrew
was, although both her husband and son had got all their education
in the town schools, and had worked in shoe-shops all their lives.
She could have looked at a palace or a castle, and have remained
true to the splendors of her little one-story-and-a-half house with
a best parlor and sitting-room, and a shed kitchen for use in hot
weather.

She would not for one instant have been swerved from utmost
admiration and faith in her set of white-and-gold wedding china by
the contemplation of Copeland and Royal Sèvres. She would have
pitted her hair-cloth furniture of the ugliest period of household
art against all the Chippendales and First Empire pieces in
existence.

As Mrs. Zelotes had never seen any household possessions to equal
her own, let alone to surpass them, she was of the same mind with
regard to her husband and his family, herself and her family, her
son and little granddaughter. She never saw any gowns and shawls
which compared with hers in fineness and richness; she never tasted
a morsel of cookery which was not as sawdust when she reflected upon
her own; and all that humiliated her in the least, or caused her to
feel in the least dissatisfied, was her son's wife and her family
and antecedents.

Mrs. Zelotes Brewster had considered that her son Andrew was
marrying immeasurably beneath him when he married Fanny Loud, of
Loudville. Loudville was a humble, an almost disreputably humble,
suburb of the little provincial city. The Louds from whom the
locality took its name were never held in much repute, being
considered of a stratum decidedly below the ordinary social one of
the city. When Andrew told his mother that he was to marry a Loud,
she declared that she would not go to his wedding, nor receive the
girl at her house, and she kept her word. When one day Andrew
brought his sweetheart to his home to call, trusting to her pretty
face and graceful though rather sharp manner to win his mother's
heart, he found her intrenched in the kitchen, and absolutely
indifferent to the charms of his Fanny in her stylish, albeit
somewhat tawdry, finery, though she had peeped to good purpose from
her parlor window, which commanded the road, before she fled
kitchenward.

Mrs. Zelotes was beating eggs with as firm an impetus as if she were
heaving up earth-works to strengthen her own pride when her son
thrust his timid face into the kitchen. "Mother, Fanny's in the
parlor," he said, beseechingly.

"Let her set there, then, if she wants to," said his mother, and
that was all she would say.

Very soon Fanny went home on her lover's arm, freeing her mind with
no uncertain voice on the way, though she was on the public road,
and within hearing of sharp ears in open windows. Fanny had a pride
as fierce as Mrs. Zelotes Brewster's, though it was not so well
sustained, and she would then and there have refused to marry Andrew
had she not loved him with all her passionate and ill-regulated
heart. But she never forgave her mother-in-law for the slight she
had put upon her that day, and the slights which she put upon her
later. She would have refused to live next door to Mrs. Zelotes had
not Andrew owned the land and been in a measure forced to build
there. Every time she had flaunted out of her new house-door in her
wedding finery she had an uncomfortable feeling of defiance under a
fire of hostile eyes in the next house. She kept her own windows
upon that side as clear and bright as diamonds, and her curtains in
the stiffest, snowy slants, lest her terrible mother-in-law should
have occasion to impeach her housekeeping, she being a notable
housewife. The habits of the Louds of Loudville were considered
shiftless in the extreme, and poor Fanny had heard an insinuation of
Mrs. Zelotes to that effect.

The elder Mrs. Brewster's knowledge of her son's house and his wife
was limited to the view from her west windows, but there was
half-truce when little Ellen was born. Mrs. Brewster, who considered
that no woman could be obtained with such a fine knowledge of
nursing as she possessed, and who had, moreover, a regard for her
poor boy's pocket-book, appeared for the first time in his doorway,
and opened her heart to her son's child, if not to his wife, whom
she began to tolerate.

However, the two women had almost a hand-to-hand encounter over
little Ellen's cradle, the elder Mrs. Brewster judging that it was
for her good to be rocked to sleep, the younger not. Little Ellen
herself, however, turned the balance that time in favor of her
grandmother, since she cried every time the gentle, swaying motion
was hushed, and absolutely refused to go to sleep, and her mother
from the first held every course which seemed to contribute to her
pleasure and comfort as a sacred duty. At last it came to pass that
the two women met only upon that small neutral ground of love, and
upon all other territory were sworn foes. Especially was Mrs.
Zelotes wroth when Eva Loud, after the death of her father, one of
the most worthless and shiftless of the Louds of Loudville, came to
live with her married sister. She spoke openly to Fanny concerning
her opinion of another woman's coming to live on poor Andrew, and
paid no heed to the assertions that Eva would work and pay her way.

Mrs. Zelotes, although she acknowledged it no social degradation for
a man to work in a shoe-factory, regarded a woman who worked therein
as having hopelessly forfeited her caste. Eva Loud had worked in a
shop ever since she was fourteen, and had tagged the grimy and
leathery procession of Louds, who worked in shoe-factories when they
worked at all, in a short skirt with her hair in a strong black
pigtail. There was a kind of bold grace and showy beauty about this
Eva Loud which added to Mrs. Zelotes's scorn and dislike.

"She walks off to work in the shop as proud as if she was going to a
party," she said, and she fairly trembled with anger when she saw
the girl set out with her son in the morning. She would have
considered it much more according to the eternal fitness of things
had her son Andrew been attending a queen whom he would have dropped
at her palace on the way. She writhed inwardly whenever little Ellen
spoke of her aunt Eva, and would have forbidden her to do so had she
dared.

"To think of that child associating with a shop-girl!" she said to
Mrs. Pointdexter. Mrs. Pointdexter was her particular friend, whom
she regarded with loving tolerance of superiority, though she had
been the daughter of a former clergyman of the town, and had wedded
another, and might presumably have been accounted herself of a
somewhat higher estate. The gentle and dependent clergyman's widow,
when she came back to her native city after the death of her
husband, found herself all at once in a pleasant little valley of
humiliation at the feet of her old friend, and was contented to
abide there. "Perhaps your son's sister-in-law will marry and go
away," she said, consolingly, to Mrs. Zelotes, who indeed lived in
that hope. But Eva remained at her sister's, and, though she had
admirers in plenty, did not marry, and the dissension grew.

It was an odd thing that, however the sisters quarrelled, the minute
Andrew tried to take sides with his wife and assail Eva in his turn,
Fanny turned and defended her. "I am not going to desert all the
sister I have got in the world," she said. "If you want me to leave,
say so, and I will go, but I shall never turn Eva out of doors. I
would rather go with her and work in the shop."  Then the next
moment the wrangle would recommence, and the harsh trebles of wrath
would swell high. Andrew could not appreciate this savageness of
race loyalty in the face of anger and dissension, and his brain
reeled with the apparent inconsistency of the thing.

"Sometimes I think they are both crazy," he used to tell his mother,
who sympathized with him after a covertly triumphant fashion. She
never said, "I told you so," but the thought was evident on her
face, and her son saw it there.

However, he said not a word against his wife, except by implication.
Though she and her sister were making his home unbearable, he still
loved her, and, even if he did not, he had something of his mother's
pride.

However, at last, when Ellen was almost eight years old, matters
came suddenly to a climax one evening in November. The two sisters
were having a fiercer dispute than usual. Eva was taking her sister
to task for cutting over a dress of hers for Ellen, Fanny claiming
that she had given her permission to do so, and Eva denying it. The
child sat listening in her little chair with a look of dawning
intelligence of wrath and wicked temper in her face, because she was
herself in a manner the cause of the dissension. Suddenly Andrew
Brewster, with a fiery outburst of inconsequent masculine wrath with
the whole situation, essayed to cut the Gordian knot. He grabbed the
little dress of bright woollen stuff, which lay partly made upon the
table, and crammed it into the stove, and a reek of burning wool
filled the room. Then both women turned upon him with a combination
of anger to which his wrath was wildfire.

Andrew caught up little Ellen, who was beginning to look scared,
wrapped the first thing he could seize around her, and fairly fled
across the yard to his mother's. Then he sat down and wept like a
boy, and his pride left him at last. "Oh, mother," he sobbed, "if it
were not for the child, I would go away, for my home is a hell!"

Mrs. Zelotes stood clasping little Ellen, who clung to her,
trembling. "Well, come over here with me," she said, "you and
Ellen."

"Live here in the next house!" said Andrew. "Do you suppose Fanny
would have the child living under her very eyes in the next house?
No, there is no way out of the misery--no way; but if it was not for
the child, I would go!"

Andrew burst out in such wild sobs that his mother released Ellen
and ran to him; and the child, trembling and crying with a curious
softness, as of fear at being heard, ran out of the house and back
to her home. "Oh, mother," she cried, breaking in upon the dialogue
of anger which was still going on there with her little tremulous
flute--"oh, mother, father is crying!"

"I don't care," answered her mother, fiercely, her temper causing
her to lose sight of the child's agitation. "I don't care. If it
wasn't for you, I would leave him. I wouldn't live as I am doing. I
would leave everybody. I am tired of this awful life. Oh, if it
wasn't for you, Ellen, I would leave everybody and start fresh!"

"You can leave _me_ whenever you want to," said Eva, her handsome
face burning red with wrath, and she went out of the room, which was
suffocating with the fumes of the burning wool, tossing her black
head, all banged and coiled in the latest fashion.

Of late years Fanny had sunk her personal vanity further and further
in that for her child. She brushed her own hair back hard from her
temples, and candidly revealed all her unyouthful lines, and dwelt
fondly upon the arrangement of little Ellen's locks, which were of a
fine, pale yellow, as clear as the color of amber.

She never recut her skirts or her sleeves, but she studied anxiously
all the slightest changes in children's fashions. After her sister
had left the room with a loud bang of the door, she sat for a moment
gazing straight ahead, her face working, then she burst into such a
passion of hysterical wailing as the child had never heard. Ellen,
watching her mother with eyes so frightened and full of horror that
there was no room for childish love and pity in them, grew very
pale. She had left the door by which she had entered open; she gazed
one moment at her mother, then she turned and slipped out of the
room, and, opening the outer door softly, though her mother would
not have heard nor noticed, went out of the house.

Then she ran as fast as she could down the frozen road, a little,
dark figure, passing as rapidly as the shadow of a cloud between the
earth and the full moon.



Chapter II


The greatest complexity in the world attends the motive-power of any
action. Infinite perspectives of mental mirrors reflect the whys of
all doing. An adult with long practice in analytic introspection
soon becomes bewildered when he strives to evolve the primary and
fundamental reasons for his deeds; a child so striving would be lost
in unexpected depths; but a child never strives. A child obeys
unquestioningly and absolutely its own spiritual impellings without
a backward glance at them.

Little Ellen Brewster ran down the road that November night, and did
not know then, and never knew afterwards, why she ran. Loving
renunciation was surging high in her childish heart, giving an
indication of tidal possibilities for the future, and there was also
a bitter, angry hurt of slighted dependency and affection. Had she
not heard them say, her own mother and father say, that they would
be better off and happier with her out of the way, and she their
dearest loved and most carefully cherished possession in the whole
world? It is a cruel fall for an apple of the eye to the ground, for
its law of gravitation is of the soul, and its fall shocks the
infinite. Little Ellen felt herself sorely hurt by her fall from
such fair heights; she was pierced by the sharp thorns of selfish
interests which flourish below all the heavenward windows of life.

Afterwards, when her mother and father tried to make her tell them
why she ran away, she could not say; the answer was beyond her own
power.

There was no snow on the ground, but the earth was frozen in great
ribs after a late thaw. Ellen ran painfully between the ridges which
a long line of ice-wagons had made with their heavy wheels earlier
in the day. When the spaces between the ridges were too narrow for
her little feet, she ran along the crests, and that was precarious.
She fell once and bruised one of her delicate knees, then she fell
again, and struck the knee on the same place. It hurt her, and she
caught her breath with a gasp of pain. She pulled up her little
frock and touched her hand to her knee, and felt it wet, then she
whimpered on the lonely road, and, curiously enough, there was pity
for her mother as well as for herself in her solitary grieving.
"Mother would feel pretty bad if she knew how I was hurt, enough to
make it bleed," she murmured, between her soft sobs. Ellen did not
dare cry loudly, from a certain unvoiced fear which she had of
shocking the stillness of the night, and also from a delicate sense
of personal dignity, and a dislike of violent manifestations of
feeling which had strengthened with her growth in the midst of the
turbulent atmosphere of her home. Ellen had the softest childish
voice, and she never screamed or shouted when excited. Instead of
catching the motion of the wind, she still lay before it, like some
slender-stemmed flower. If Ellen had made much outcry with the hurt
in her heart and the smart of her knee, she might have been heard,
for the locality was thickly settled, though not in the business
portion of the little city. The houses, set prosperously in the
midst of shaven lawns--for this was a thrifty and emulative place,
and democracy held up its head confidently--were built closely along
the road, though that was lonely and deserted at that hour. It was
the hour between half-past six and half-past seven, when people were
lingering at their supper-tables, and had not yet started upon their
evening pursuits. The lights shone for the most part from the rear
windows of the houses, and there was a vague compound odor of tea
and bread and beefsteak in the air. Poor Ellen had not had her
supper; the wrangle at home had dismissed it from everybody's mind.
She felt more pitiful towards her mother and herself when she smelt
the food and reflected upon that. To think of her going away without
any supper, all alone in the dark night! There was no moon, and the
solemn brilliancy of the stars made her think with a shiver of awe
of the Old Testament and the possibility of the Day of Judgment.
Suppose it should come, and she all alone out in the night, in the
midst of all those worlds and the great White Throne, without her
mother? Ellen's grandmother, who was of a stanch orthodox breed, and
was, moreover, anxious to counteract any possible detriment as to
religious training from contact with the degenerate Louds of
Loudville, had established a strict course of Bible study for her
granddaughter at a very early age. All celestial phenomena were in
consequence transposed into a Biblical key for the child, and she
regarded the heavens swarming with golden stars as a Hebrew child of
a thousand years ago might have done.

She was glad when she came within the radius of a street light from
time to time; they were stationed at wide intervals in that
neighborhood. Soon, however, she reached the factories, when all
mystery and awe, and vague terrors of what beside herself might be
near unrevealed beneath the mighty brooding of the night, were over.
She was, as it were, in the mid-current of the conditions of her own
life and times, and the material force of it swept away all
symbolisms and unstable drift, and left only the bare rocks and
shores of existence. Always when the child had been taken by one of
her elders past the factories, humming like gigantic hives, with
their windows alert with eager eyes of toil, glancing out at her
over bench and machine, Ellen had seen her secretly cherished
imaginings recede into a night of distance like stars, and she had
felt her little footing upon the earth with a shock, and had clung
more closely to the leading hand of love. "That's where your poor
father works," her grandmother would say. "Maybe you'll have to work
there some day," her aunt Eva had said once; and her mother, who had
been with her also, had cried out sharply as if she had been stung,
"I guess that little delicate thing ain't never goin' to work in a
shoe-shop, Eva Loud."  And her aunt Eva had laughed, and declared
with emphasis that she guessed there was no need to worry yet
awhile.

"She never shall, while I live," her mother had cried; and then Eva,
coming to her sister's aid against her own suggestion, had declared,
with a vehemence which frightened Ellen, that she would burn the
shop down herself first.

As for Ellen's father, he never at that time dwelt upon the child's
future as much as his wife did, having a masculine sense of the
instability of houses of air which prevented him from entering them
without a shivering of walls and roof into naught but star-mediums
by his downrightness of vision. "Oh, let the child be, can't you,
Fanny?" he said, when his wife speculated whether Ellen would be or
do this or that when she should be a woman. He resented the
conception of the woman which would swallow up, like some
metaphysical sorceress, his fair little child. So when he now and
then led Ellen past the factories it was never with the slightest
surmise as to any connection which she might have with them beyond
the present one. "There's the shop where father works," he would
tell Ellen, with a tender sense of his own importance in his child's
eyes, and he was as proud as Punch when Ellen was able to point with
her tiny pink finger at the window where father worked. "That's
where father works and earns money to buy nice things for little
Ellen," Andrew would repeat, beaming at her with divine foolishness,
and Ellen looked at the roaring, vibrating building as she might
have looked at the wheels of progress. She realized that her father
was very great and smart to work in a place like that, and earn
money--so much of it. Ellen often heard her mother remark with pride
how much money Andrew earned.

To-night, when Ellen passed in her strange flight, the factories
were still, though they were yet blazing with light. The gigantic
buildings, after a style of architecture as simple as a child's
block house, and adapted to as primitive an end, loomed up beside
the road like windowed shells enclosing massive concretenesses of
golden light. They looked entirely vacant except for light, for the
workmen had all gone home, and there were only the keepers in the
buildings. There were three of them, representing three different
firms, rival firms, grouped curiously close together, but Lloyd's
was much the largest. Andrew and Eva worked in Lloyd's.

She was near the last factory when she met a man hastening along
with bent shoulders, of intent, middle-aged progress. After he had
passed her with a careless glance at the small, swift figure, she
smelt coffee. He was carrying home a pound for his breakfast supply.
That suddenly made her cry, though she did not know why. That
familiar odor of home and the wontedness of life made her isolation
on her little atom of the unusual more pitiful. The man turned round
sharply when she sobbed. "Hullo! what's the matter, sis?" he called
back, in a pleasant, hoarse voice. Ellen did not answer; she fled as
if she had wings on her feet. The man had many children of his own,
and was accustomed to their turbulence over trifles. He kept on,
thinking that there was a sulky child who had been sent on an errand
against her will, that it was not late, and she was safe enough on
that road. He resumed his calculation as to whether his income would
admit of a new coal-stove that winter. He was a workman in a
factory, with one accumulative interest in life--coal-stoves. He
bought and traded and swapped coal-stoves every winter with keenest
enthusiasm. Now he had one in his mind which he had just viewed in a
window with the rapture of an artist. It had a little nickel
statuette on the top, and that quite crowded Ellen out of his mind,
which had but narrow accommodations.

So Ellen kept on unmolested, though her heart was beating loud with
fright. When she came into the brilliantly lighted stretch of Main
Street, which was the business centre of the city, her childish mind
was partly diverted from herself. Ellen had not been down town many
times of an evening, and always in hand of her hurrying father or
mother. Now she had run away and cut loose from all restrictions of
time; there was an eternity for observation before her, with no call
in-doors in prospect. She stopped at the first bright shop window,
and suddenly the exultation of freedom was over the child. She
tasted the sweets of rebellion and disobedience. She had stood
before that window once before of an evening, and her aunt Eva had
been with her, and one of her young men friends had come up behind,
and they had gone on, the child dragging backward at her aunt's
hand. Now she could stand as long as she wished, and stare and
stare, and drink in everything which her childish imagination
craved, and that was much. The imagination of a child is often like
a voracious maw, seizing upon all that comes within reach, and
producing spiritual indigestions and assimilations almost endless in
their effects upon the growth. This window before which Ellen stood
was that of a market: a great expanse of plate-glass framing a crude
study in the clearest color tones. It takes a child or an artist to
see a picture without the intrusion of its second dimension of
sordid use and the gross reflection of humanity.

Ellen looked at the great shelf laid upon with flesh and vegetables
and fruits with the careless precision of a kaleidoscope, and did
not for one instant connect anything thereon with the ends of
physical appetite, though she had not had her supper. What had a
meal of beefsteak and potatoes and squash served on the little
white-laid table at home to do with those great golden globes which
made one end of the window like the remove from a mine, those
satin-smooth spheres, those cuts as of red and white marble? She had
eaten apples, but these were as the apples of the gods, lying in a
heap of opulence, with a precious light-spot like a ruby on every
outward side. The turnips affected her imagination like ivory
carvings: she did not recognize them for turnips at all. She never
afterwards believed them to be turnips; and as for cabbages, they
were green inflorescences of majestic bloom. There is one position
from which all common things can be seen with reflections of
preciousness, and Ellen had insensibly taken it. The window and the
shop behind were illuminated with the yellow glare of gas, but the
glass was filmed here and there with frost, which tempered it as
with a veil. In the background rosy-faced men in white frocks were
moving to and fro, customers were passing in and out, but they were
all glorified to the child. She did not see them as butchers, and as
men and women selling and buying dinners.

However, all at once everything was spoiled, for her fairy castle of
illusion or a higher reality was demolished, and that not by any
blow of practicality, but by pity and sentiment. Ellen was a
woman-child, and suddenly she struck the rock upon which women so
often wreck or effect harbor, whichever it may be. All at once she
looked up from the dazzling mosaic of the window and saw the dead
partridges and grouse hanging in their rumpled brown mottle of
plumage, and the dead rabbits, long and stark, with their fur
pointed with frost, hanging in a piteous headlong company, and all
her delight and wonder vanished, and she came down to the hard
actualities of things. "Oh, the poor birds!" she cried out in her
heart. "Oh, the poor birds, and the poor bunnies!"

Just at that moment, when the sudden rush of compassion and
indignation had swollen her heart to the size of a woman's, and
given it the aches of one, when her eyes were so dilated with the
sight of helpless injury and death that they reflected the mystery
of it and lost the outlook of childhood, when her pretty baby mouth
was curved like an inverted bow of love with the impulse of tears,
Cynthia Lennox came up the street and stopped short when she reached
her.

Suddenly Ellen felt some one pressing close to her, and, looking up,
saw a woman, only middle-aged, but whom she thought very old,
because her hair was white, standing looking at her very keenly with
clear, light-blue eyes under a high, pale forehead, from which the
gray hair was combed uncompromisingly back. The woman had been a
beauty once, of a delicate, nervous type, and had a certain beauty
now, a something which had endured like the fineness of texture of a
web when its glow of color has faded. Her black garments draped her
with sober richness, and there was a gleam of dark fur when the wind
caught her cloak. A small tuft of ostrich plumes nodded from her
bonnet. Ellen smelt flowers vaguely, and looked at the lady's hand,
but she did not carry any.

"Whose little girl are you?" Cynthia Lennox asked, softly, and Ellen
did not answer. "Can't you tell me whose little girl you are?"
Cynthia Lennox asked again. Ellen did not speak, but there was the
swift flicker of a thought over her face which told her name as
plainly as language if the woman had possessed the skill to
interpret it.

"Ellen Brewster--Ellen Brewster is my name," Ellen said to herself
very hard, and that was how she endured the reproach of her own
silence.

The woman looked at her with surprise and admiration that were
fairly passionate. Ellen was a beautiful child, with a face like a
white flower. People had always turned to look after her, she was so
charming, and had caused her mothers heart to swell with pride. "The
way everybody we met has stared after that child to-day!" she would
whisper her husband when she brought Ellen home from some little
expedition; then the two would look at the little one's face with
the one holy vanity of the world. Ellen wore to-night the little
white shawl which her father had caught up when he carried her over
to her grandmother's. She held it tightly together under her chin
with one tiny hand, and her face looked out from between the soft
folds with the absolute purity of curve and color of a pearl.

"Oh, you darling!" said the woman, suddenly; "you darling!" and
Ellen shrank away from her. "Don't be afraid, dear," said Cynthia
Lennox. "Don't be afraid, only tell me who you are. What is your
name, dear?"  But Ellen remained silent; only, as she shrank aloof,
her eyes grew wild and bright with startled tears, and her sweet
baby mouth quivered piteously. She wanted to run, but the habit of
obedience was so strong upon her little mind that she feared to do
so. This strange woman seemed to have gotten her in some invisible
leash.

"Tell me what your name is, darling," said the woman, but she might
as well have importuned a flower. Ellen was proof against all
commands in that direction. She suddenly felt the furry sweep of the
lady's cloak against her cheek, and a nervous, tender arm drawing
her close, though she strove feebly to resist. "You are cold, you
have nothing on but this little white shawl, and perhaps you are
hungry. What were you looking in this window for? Tell me, dear,
where is your mother? She did not send you on an errand, such a
little girl as you are, so late on such a cold night, with no more
on than this?"

A tone of indignation crept into the lady's voice.

"No, mother didn't send me," Ellen said, speaking for the first
time.

"Then did you run away, dear?"  Ellen was silent. "Oh, if you did,
darling, you must tell me where you live, what your father's name
is, and I will take you home. Tell me, dear. If it is far, I will
get a carriage, and you shall ride home. Tell me, dear."

There was an utmost sweetness of maternal persuasion in Cynthia
Lennox's voice; Ellen was swayed by it as a child might have been
swayed by the magic pipe of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. She half
yielded to her leading motion, then she remembered. "No," she cried
out, with a sob of utter desolation. "No, no."

"Why not, dear?"

"They don't want; they don't want. No, no!"

"They don't want you? Your own father and mother don't want you?
Darling, what is the matter?"  But Ellen was dumb again. She stood
sobbing, with a painful restraint, and pulling futilely from the
lady's persuasive hand. But it ended in the mastery of the child.
Suddenly Cynthia Lennox gathered her up in her arms under her great
fur-lined cloak, and carried her a little farther down the street,
then across it to a dwelling-house, one of the very few which had
withstood the march of business blocks on this crowded main street
of the provincial city. A few people looked curiously at the lady
carrying such a heavy, weeping child, but she met no one whom she
knew, and the others looked indifferently away after a second
backward stare. Cynthia Lennox was one to bear herself with such
dignity over all jolts of circumstances that she might almost
convince others of her own exemption from them. Her mental bearing
disproved the evidence of the senses, and she could have committed a
crime with such consummate self-poise and grace as to have held a
crowd in abeyance with utter distrust of their own eyes before such
unquestioning confidence in the sovereignty of the situation.
Cynthia Lennox had always had her own way except in one respect, and
that experience had come to her lately.

Though she was such a slender woman, she seemed to have great
strength in her arms, and she bore Ellen easily and as if she had
been used to such a burden. She wrapped her cloak closely around the
child.

"Don't be afraid, darling," she kept whispering. Ellen panted in
bewilderment, and a terror which was half assuaged by something like
fascination.

She was conscious of a soft smother of camphor, in which the
fur-lined cloak had lain through the summer, and of that flower
odor, which was violets, though she did not know it. Only the wild
American scentless ones had come in little Ellen's way so far.

She felt herself carried up steps, then a door was thrown open, and
a warm breath of air came in her face, and the cloak was tossed
back, and she was set softly on the floor. The hall in which she
stood seemed very bright; she blinked and rubbed her eyes.

The lady stood over her, laughing gently, and when the child looked
up at her, seemed much younger than she had at first, very young in
spite of her white hair. There was a soft red on her cheek; her lips
looked full and triumphant with smiles; her eyes were like stars. An
emotion of her youth which had never become dulled by satisfaction
had suddenly blossomed out on her face, and transformed it. An
unassuaged longing may serve to preserve youth as well as an
undestroyed illusion; indeed, the two are one. Cynthia Lennox looked
at the child as if she had been a young mother, and she her
first-born; triumph over the future, and daring for all odds, and
perfect faith in the kingdom of joy were in her look. Had she nursed
one child like Ellen to womanhood, and tasted the bitter in the cup,
she would not have been capable of that look, and would have been as
old as her years. She threw off her cloak and took off her bonnet,
and the light struck her hair and made it look like silver. A brooch
in the laces at her throat shone with a thousand hues, and as Ellen
gazed at it she felt curiously dull and dizzy. She did not resist at
all when the lady removed her little white shawl, but stared at her
with the look of some small and helpless thing in too large a grasp
of destiny to admit of a struggle. "Oh, you darling!" Cynthia Lennox
said, and stooped and kissed her, and half carried her into a great,
warm, dazzling room, with light reflected in long lines of gold from
picture-frames on the wall, and now and then startling patches of
lurid color blazing forth unmeaningly from the dark incline of their
canvases, with gleams of crystal and shadows of bronze in settings
of fretted ebony, with long swayings of rich draperies at doors and
windows, a red light of fire in a grate, and two white lights, one
of piano keys, the other of a flying marble figure in a corner,
outlined clearly against dusky red. The light in this room was very
dim. It was all beyond Ellen's imagination. The White North where
the Norway spruces lived would not have seemed as strange to her as
this. Neither would Bluebeard's Castle, nor the House that Jack
Built, nor the Palace of King Solomon, nor the tent in which lived
little Joseph in his coat of many colors, nor even the Garden of
Eden, nor Noah's Ark. Her imagination had not prepared her for a
room like this. She had formed her ideas of rooms upon her
grandmother's and her mother's and the neighbors' best parlors, with
their glories of crushed plush and gilt and onyx and cheap lace and
picture-throws and lambrequins. This room was such a heterodoxy
against her creed of civilization that it did not look beautiful to
her as much as strange and bewildering, and when she was bidden to
sit down in a little inlaid precious chair she put down her tiny
hand and reflected, with a sense of strengthening of her household
faith, that her grandmother had beautiful, smooth, shiny hair-cloth.

Cynthia Lennox pulled the chair close to the fire, and bade her hold
out her little feet to the blaze to warm them well. "I am afraid you
are chilled, darling," she said, and looked at her sitting there in
her dainty little red cashmere frock, with her spread of baby-yellow
hair over her shoulders. Then Ellen thought that the lady was
younger than her mother; but her mother had borne her and nursed
her, and suffered and eaten of the tree of knowledge, and tasted the
bitter after the sweet; and this other woman was but as a child in
the garden, though she was fairly old. But along with Ellen's
conviction of the lady's youth had come a conviction of her power,
and she yielded to her unquestioningly. Whenever she came near her
she gazed with dilating eyes upon the blazing circle of diamonds at
her throat.

When she was bidden, she followed the lady into the dining-room,
where the glitter of glass and silver and the soft gleam of precious
china made her think for a little while that she must be in a store.
She had never seen anything like this except in a store, when she
had been with her mother to buy a lamp-chimney. So she decided this
to be a store, but she said nothing. She did not speak at all, but
she ate her biscuits, and slice of breast of chicken, and
sponge-cake, and drank her milk.

She had her milk in a little silver cup which seemed as if it might
have belonged to another child; she also sat in a small high-chair,
which made it seem as if another child had lived or visited in the
house. Ellen became singularly possessed with this sense of the
presence of a child, and when the door opened she would look around
for her to enter, but it was always an old black woman with a face
of imperturbable bronze, which caused her to huddle closer into her
chair when she drew near.

There were not many colored people in the city, and Ellen had never
seen any except at Long Beach, where she had sometimes gone to have
a shore dinner with her mother and Aunt Eva. Then she always used to
shrink when the black waiter drew near, and her mother and aunt
would be convulsed with furtive mirth. "See the little gump," her
mother would say in the tenderest tone, and look about to see if
others at the other tables saw how cunning she was--what a charming
little goose to be afraid of a colored waiter.

Ellen saw nobody except the lady and the black woman, but she was
still sure that there was a child in the house, and after supper,
when she was taken up-stairs to bed, she peeped through every open
door with the expectation of seeing her.

But she was so weary and sleepy that her curiosity and capacity for
any other emotion was blunted. She had become simply a little,
tired, sleepy animal. She let herself be undressed; she was not even
moved to much self-pity when the lady discovered the cruel bruise on
her delicate knee, and kissed it, and dressed it with a healing
salve. She was put into a little night-gown which she knew dreamily
belonged to that other child, and was laid in a little bedstead
which she noted to be made of gold, with floating lace over the
head.

She sleepily noted, too, that there were flowers on the walls, and
more floating lace over the bureau. This room did not look so
strange to her as the others; she had somehow from the treasures of
her fancy provided the family of big bears and little bears with a
similar one. Then, too, one of the neighbors, Mrs. George Crocker,
had read many articles in women's papers relative to the beautifying
of homes, and had furnished a wonderful chamber with old soap-boxes
and rolls of Japanese paper which was a sort of a cousin many times
removed of this. When she was in bed the lady kissed her, and called
her darling, and bade her sleep well, and not be afraid, she was in
the next room, and could hear if she spoke. Then she stood looking
at her, and Ellen thought that she must be younger than Minnie
Swensen, who lived on her street, and wore a yellow pigtail, and
went to the high-school. Then she closed her heavy eyes, and forgot
to cry about her poor father and mother; still, there was, after
all, a hurt about them down in her childish heart, though a great
wave of new circumstances had rolled on her shore and submerged for
the time her memory and her love, even, she was so feeble and young.

She slept very soundly, and awoke only once, about two o'clock in
the morning. Then a passing lantern flashed into the chamber into
her eyes, and woke her up, but she only sighed and stretched
drowsily, then turned her little body over with a luxurious roll and
went to sleep again.

It was poor Andrew Brewster's lantern which flashed in her eyes, for
he was out with a posse of police and sympathizing neighbors and
friends searching for his lost little girl. He was frantic, and when
he came under the gas-lights from time to time the men that saw him
shuddered; they would not have known him, for almost the farthest
agony of which he was capable had changed his face.



Chapter III


By the next morning all the city was in a commotion over little
Ellen's disappearance. Woods on the outskirts were being searched,
ponds were being dragged, posters with a stare of dreadful meaning
in large characters of black and white were being pasted all over
the fences and available barns, and already three of the local
editors had been to the Brewster house to obtain particulars and
photographs of the missing child for reproduction in the city
papers.

The first train from Boston brought two reporters representing great
dailies.

Fanny Brewster, white-cheeked, with the rasped redness of tears
around her eyes and mouth, clad in her blue calico wrapper, received
them in her best parlor. Eva had made a fire in the best parlor
stove early that morning. "Folks will be comin' in all day, I
expect," said she, speaking with nervous catches of her breath. Ever
since the child had been missed, Eva's anxiety had driven her from
point to point of unrest as with a stinging lash. She had pelted
bareheaded down the road and up the road; she had invaded all the
neighbors' houses, insisting upon looking through their farthest and
most unlikely closets; she had even penetrated to the woods, and
joined wild-eyed the groups of peering workers on the shore of the
nearest pond. That she could not endure long, so she had rushed home
to her sister, who was either pacing her sitting-room with
inarticulate murmurs and wails of distress in the sympathizing ears
of several of the neighboring women, or else was staring with
haggard eyes of fearful hope from a window. When she looked from the
eastern window she could see her mother-in-law, Mrs. Zelotes
Brewster, at an opposite one, sitting immovable, with her Bible in
her lap, prayer in her heart, and an eye of grim holding to faith
upon the road for the fulfilment of promise. She felt all her
muscles stiffen with anger when she saw the wild eyes of the child's
mother at the other window. "It is all her fault," she said to
herself--"all her fault--hers and that bold trollop of a sister of
hers."  When she saw Eva run down the road, with her black hair
rising like a mane to the morning wind, she was an embodiment of an
imprecatory psalm. When, later on, she saw the three editors
coming--Mr. Walsey, of _The Spy_, and Mr. Jones, of _The Observer_,
and young Joe Bemis, of _The Star_, on his bicycle--she watched
jealously to see if they were admitted. When Fanny's head
disappeared from the eastern window she knew that Eva had let them
in and Fanny was receiving them in the parlor. "She will tell them
all about the words they had last night, that made the dear child
run away," she thought. "All the town will know what doings there
are in our family."  Mrs. Zelotes made up her mind to a course of
action. Each editor was granted a long audience with Fanny and Eva,
who entertained them with hysterical solemnity and displayed Ellen's
photographs in the red plush album, from the last, taken in her best
white frock, to one when she was three weeks old, and seeming weakly
and not likely to live. This had been taken by a photographer
summoned to the house at great expense. "Her father has never spared
expense for Ellen," said Fanny, with an outburst of grief. "That's
so," said Eva. "I'll testify to that. Andrew Brewster never thought
anything was too good for that young one."  Then she burst out with
a sob louder than her sister's. Eva had usually a coarsely
well-kempt appearance, her heavy black hair being securely twisted,
and her neck ribbons tied with smart jerks of neatness; but to-day
her hair was still in the fringy braids of yesterday, and her cotton
blouse humped untidily in the back. Her face was red and her lips
swollen; she looked like a very bacchante of sorrow, and as if she
had been on some mad orgy of grief.

Mr. Walsey, of _The Spy_, who had formerly conducted a paper in a
college town and was not accustomed to the feminine possibilities of
manufacturing localities, felt almost afraid of her. He had never
seen a woman of that sort, and thought vaguely of the French
Revolution and fish-wives when she gave vent to her distress over
the loss of the child. He fairly jumped when she cut short a
question of his with a volley of self-recriminatory truths,
accompanied with fierce gesturing. He stood back involuntarily out
of reach of those powerful, waving arms. "Do I know of any reason
for the child to run away?" shrieked Eva, in a voice shrilly hideous
with emotion, now and then breaking into hoarseness with the strain
of tears. "I guess I know why, I guess I do, and I wish I had been
six foot under ground before I did what I did. It was all my fault,
every bit of it. When I got home, and found that Fan had been making
that precious young one a dress out of my old blue one, I pitched
into her for it, and she gave it back to me, and then we jawed, and
kept it up, till Andrew, he grabbed the dress and flung it into the
fire, and did just right, too, and took Ellen and run over to old
lady Brewster's with her; then Ellen, she see him cryin', and it
scared her 'most to death, poor little thing, and she heard him say
that if it wasn't for her he'd quit, and then she come runnin' home
to her mother and me, and her mother said the same thing, and then
that poor young one, she thought she wa'n't wanted nowheres, and she
run. She always was as easy to hurt as a baby robin; it didn't take
nothing to set her all of a flutter and a twitter; and now she's
just flown out of the nest. Oh my God, I wish my tongue had been
torn out by the roots before I'd said a word about her blessed
little dress; I wish Fan had cut up every old rag I've got; I'd go
dressed in fig-leaves before I'd had it happen. Oh! oh! oh!"

Young Joe Bemis, of _The Star_, was the first to leave, whirling
madly and precariously down the street on his wheel, which was
dizzily tall in those days. Mrs. Zelotes, hailing him from her open
window, might as well have hailed the wind. Her family dissensions
were well aired in _The Star_ next morning, and she always kept the
cutting at the bottom of a little rosewood work-box where she stored
away divers small treasures, and never looked at the box without a
swift dart of pain as from a hidden sting and the consciousness as
of the presence of some noxious insect caged therein.

Mrs. Zelotes was more successful in arresting the progress of the
other editors, and (standing at the window, her Bible on the little
table at her side) flatly contradicted all that had been told them
by her daughter-in-law and her sister. "The Louds always give way,
no matter what comes up. You can always tell what kind of a family
anybody comes from by the way they take things when anything comes
across them. You can't depend on anything she says this morning. My
son did not marry just as I wished; everybody knows that; the Louds
weren't equal to our family, and everybody knows it, and I have
never made any secret as to how I felt, but we have always got along
well enough. The Brewsters are not quarrelsome; they never have
been. There were no words whatever last night to make my
granddaughter run away. Eva and Fanny are all wrong about it. Ellen
has been stolen; I know it as well as if I had seen it. A
strange-looking woman came to the door yesterday afternoon; she was
the tallest woman I ever saw, and she took the widest steps; she
measured her dress skirt every step she took, and she spoke gruff. I
said then I knew she was a man dressed up. Ellen was playing out in
the yard, and she saw the child as she went out, and I see her stoop
and look at her real sharp, and my blood run kind of cold then, and
I called Ellen away as quick as I could; and the woman, she turned
round and gave me a look that I won't ever forget as long as I live.
My belief is that that woman was laying in wait when Ellen was going
across the yard home from here last night, and she has got her safe
somewhere till a reward is offered. Or maybe she wants to keep her,
Ellen is such a beautiful child. You needn't put in your papers that
my grandchild run away because of quarrelling in our family, because
she didn't. Eva and Fanny don't know what they are talking about,
they are so wrought up; and, coming from the family they do, they
don't know how to control themselves and show any sense. I feel it
as much as they do, but I have been sitting here all the morning; I
know I can't do anything to help, and I am working a good deal
harder, waiting, than they are, rushing from pillar to post and
taking on, and I'm doing more good. I shall be the only one fit to
do anything when they find the poor child. I've got blankets warming
by the fire, and my tea-kettle on, and I'm going to be the one to
depend on when she's brought home."  Mrs. Zelotes gave a glance of
defiant faith from the window down the road as she spoke. Then she
settled back in her chair and resumed her Bible, and dismissed the
tall and forbidding woman whom she had summoned to save the honor of
her family resolutely from her conscience. The editors of _The Spy_
and _The Observer_ had a row of ingratiating photographs of little
Ellen from three weeks to seven years of age; and their opinions as
to the cause of her disappearance, while fully agreeing in all
points of sensationalism with those of young Bemis, of _The Star_,
differed in detail.

Young Bemis read about the mysterious kidnapper, and wondered, and
the demand for _The Star_ was chiefly among the immediate neighbors
of the Brewsters. Both _The Observer_ and _The Spy_ doubled their
circulation in one day, and every face on the night cars was hidden
behind poor little Ellen's baby countenances and the fairy-story of
the witch-woman who had lured her away. Mothers kept their children
carefully in-doors that evening, and pulled down curtains, fearful
lest She look in the windows and be tempted. Mrs. Zelotes also
waylaid both of the Boston reporters, but with results upon which
she had not counted. One presented her story and Fanny's and Eva's
with impartial justice; the other kept wholly to the latter version,
with the addition of a shrewd theory of his own, deduced from the
circumstances which had a parallel in actual history, and boldly
stated that the child had probably committed suicide on account of
family troubles. Poor Fanny and Eva both saw that, when night was
falling and Ellen had not been found. Eva rushed out and secured the
paper from the newsboy, and the two sisters gasped over the
startling column together.

"It's a lie! oh, Fanny, it's a lie!" cried Eva. "She never would;
oh, she never would! That little thing, just because she heard you
and me scoldin', and you said that to her, that if it wasn't for her
you'd go away. She never would."

"Go away?" sobbed Fanny--"go away? I wouldn't go away from hell if
she was there. I would burn; I would hear the clankin' of chains,
and groans, and screeches, and devils whisperin' in my ears what I
had done wrong, for all eternity, before I'd go where they were
playin' harps in heaven, if she was there. I'd like it better, I
would. And I'd stay here if I had twenty sisters I didn't get along
with, and be happier than I would be anywhere else on earth, if she
was here. But she couldn't have done it. She didn't know how. It's
awful to put such things into papers."

Eva jumped up with a fierce gesture, ran to the stove, and crammed
the paper in. "There!" said she; "I wish I could serve all the
papers in the country the same way. I do, and I'd like to put all
the editors in after 'em. I'd like to put 'em in the stove with
their own papers for kindlin's."  Suddenly Eva turned with a swish
of skirts, and was out of the room and pounding up-stairs, shaking
the little house with every step. When she returned she bore over
her arm her best dress--a cherished blue silk, ornate with ribbons
and cheap lace. "Where's that pattern?" she asked her sister.

"She wouldn't ever do such a thing," moaned Fanny.

"Where's that pattern?"

"What pattern?" Fanny said, faintly.

"That little dress pattern. Her little dress pattern, the one you
cut over my dress for her by."

"In the bureau drawer in my room. Oh, she wouldn't."

Eva went into the bedroom, returned with the pattern, got the
scissors from Fanny's work-basket, and threw her best silk dress in
a rustling heap upon the table.

Fanny stopped moaning and looked at her with wretched wonder. "What
be you goin' to do?"

"Do?" cried Eva, fiercely--"do? I'm goin' to cut this dress over for
her."

"You ain't."

"Yes, I be. If I drove her away from home, scoldin' because you cut
over that other old thing of mine for her, I'm goin' to make up for
it now. I'm goin' to give her my best blue silk, that I paid a
dollar and a half a yard for, and 'ain't worn three times. Yes, I
be. She's goin' to have a dress cut out of it, an' she's comin' back
to wear it, too. You'll see she is comin' home to wear it."

Eva cut wildly into the silk with mad slashes of her gleaming
shears, while two neighboring women, who had just come into the
room, stared aghast, and even Fanny was partly diverted from her
sorrow.

"She's crazy," whispered one of the women, backing away as she
spoke.

"Oh, Eva, don't; don't do so," pleaded Fanny, tremulously.

"I be," said Eva, and she cut recklessly up the front breadth.

"You ain't cutting it right," said the other neighbor, who was
skilful in such matters, and never fully moved from her own
household grooves by any excitement. "If you are a-goin' to cut it
at all, you had better cut it right."

"I don't care how I cut it," returned Eva, thrusting the woman away.
"Oh, I don't care how I cut it; I want to waste it. I will waste
it."

The other neighbor backed entirely out of the room, then turned and
fled across the yard, her calico wrapper blowing wildly and lashing
about her slender legs, to her own house, the doors of which she
locked. Presently the other woman followed her, stepping with the
ponderous leisure which results from vastness of body and philosophy
of mind. The autumn wind, swirling in impetuous gusts, had little
effect upon her broadside of woollen shawl. She had not come out on
that raw evening with nothing upon her head. She shook the kitchen
door of her friend, and smiled with calm reassurance when it was
cautiously set ajar to disclose a wide-eyed and open-mouthed face of
terror. "Who is it?"

"It's me. What have you got your door locked for?"

"I think that Eva Loud is raving crazy. I'm afraid of her."

"Lord! you 'ain't no reason to be 'fraid of her. She ain't crazy.
She's only lettin' the birds that fly over your an' my heads settle
down to roost. You and me, both of us, if we was situated jest as
she is, might think of doin' jest what she's a-doin', but we won't
neither of us do it. We'd let our best dresses hang in the closet,
safe and sound, while we cut them up in our souls; but Eva, she's
different."

"Well, I don't care. I believe she's crazy, and I'm going to keep my
doors locked. How do you know she hasn't killed Ellen and put her in
the well?"

"Stuff! Now you're lettin' your birds roost, Hattie Monroe."

"I read something that wasn't any worse than that in the paper the
other day. I should think they would look in the well. Have Mrs.
Jones and Miss Cross gone home?"

"No; they are over there. There's poor Andrew coming now; I wonder
if he has heard anything?"

Both women eyed hesitatingly poor Andrew Brewster's dejected figure
creeping up the road in the dark.

"You holler and ask him," said the woman in the door.

"I hate to, for I know by his looks he 'ain't heard anything of her.
I know he's jest comin' home to rest a minute, so he can start
again. I know he 'ain't eat a thing since last night. Well, Maria
has got some coffee all made, and a nice little piece of steak ready
to cook."

"You holler and ask him."

"What is the use? Just see the way he walks; I know without askin'."

However, as Andrew neared his house he involuntarily quickened his
pace, and his head and shoulders became suddenly alert. It had
occurred to him that possibly Fanny and Eva might have had some news
of Ellen during his absence. Possibly she might have come home even.

Then he was hailed by the stout woman standing at the door of the
next house. "Heard anything yet, Andrew?"

Andrew shook his head, and looked with despairing eyes at the
windows where he used to see Ellen's little face. She had not come,
then, for these women would have known it. He entered the house, and
Fanny greeted him with a tremulous cry. "Have you heard anything;
oh, have you heard anything, Andrew?"

Eva sprang forward and clutched him by the arm.

"Have you?"

[Illustration: Eva sprang forward and clutched him by the arm]

Andrew shook his head, and moved her hand from his arm, and pushed
past her roughly.

Fanny stood in his way, and threw her arms around him with a wild,
sobbing cry, but he pushed her away also with sternness, and went to
the kitchen sink to wash his hands. The four women--his wife, her
sister, and the two neighbors--stood staring at him; his face was
terrible as he dipped the water from the pail on the sink corner,
and the terribleness of it was accentuated by the homely and
every-day nature of his action.

They all stared, then Fanny burst out with a loud and desperate
wail. "He won't speak to me, he pushes me away, when it is our child
that's lost--his as well as mine. He hasn't any feelings for me that
bore her. He only thinks of himself. Oh, oh, my own husband pushes
me away."

Andrew went on washing his hands and his ghastly face, and made no
reply. He had actually at that moment not the slightest sympathy
with his wife. All his other outlets of affection were choked by his
concern for his lost child; and as for pity, he kept reflecting,
with a cold cruelty, that it served her right--it served both her
and her sister right. Had not they driven the child away between
them?

He would not eat the supper which the neighbors had prepared for
him; finally he went across the yard to his mother's. It seemed to
him at that time that his mother could enter into his state of mind
better than any one else.

When he went out, Fanny called after him, frantically, "Oh, Andrew,
you ain't going to leave me?"

When he made no response, she gazed for a second at his retreating
back, then her temper came to her aid. She caught her sister's arm,
and pulled her away out of the kitchen. "Come with me," she said,
hoarsely. "I've got nobody but you. My own husband leaves me when he
is in such awful trouble, and goes to that old woman, that has
always hated me, for comfort."

The sisters went into Fanny's bedroom, and sat down on the edge of
the bed, with their arms round each other. "Oh, Fanny!" sobbed Eva;
"poor, poor Fanny! if Andrew turns against you, I will stand by you
as long as I live. I will work my fingers to the bone to support you
and Ellen. I will never get married. I will stay and work for you
and her. And I will never get mad with you again as long as I live,
Fanny. Oh, it was all my fault, every bit my fault, but, but--"
Eva's voice broke; suddenly she clasped her sister tighter, and then
she went down on her knees beside the bed, and hid her tangled head
in her lap. "Oh, Fanny," she sobbed out miserably, "there ain't much
excuse for me, but there's a little. When Jim Tenny stopped goin'
with me last summer, my heart 'most broke. I don't care if you do
know it. That's what made me so much worse than I used to be. Oh, my
heart 'most broke, Fanny! He's treated me awful, but I can't get
over it; and now little Ellen's gone, and I drove her away!"

Fanny bent over her sister, and pressed her head close to her bosom.
"Don't you feel so bad, Eva," said she. "You wasn't any more to
blame than I was, and we'll stand by each other as long as we live."

"I'll work my fingers to the bone for you and Ellen, and I'll never
get married," said Eva again.



Chapter IV


Ellen Brewster was two nights and a day at Cynthia Lennox's, and no
one discovered it. All day the searching-parties passed the house.
Once Ellen was at the window, and one of the men looked up and saw
her, and since his solicitude for the lost child filled his heart
with responsiveness towards all childhood, he waved his hand and
nodded, and bade another man look at that handsome little kid in the
window.

"Guess she's about Ellen's size," said the other.

"Shouldn't wonder if she looked something like her," said the first.

"Answers the description well enough," said the other, "same light
hair."

Both of the men waved their hands to Ellen as they passed on, but
she shrank back afraid. That was about ten o'clock of the morning of
the day after Miss Lennox had taken her into her house. She had
waked at dawn with a full realization of the situation. She
remembered perfectly all that had happened. She was a child for whom
there were very few half-lights of life, and no spiritual twilights
connected her sleeping and waking hours. She opened her eyes and
looked around the room, and remembered how she had run away and how
her mother was not there, and she remembered the strange lady with
that same odd combination of terror and attraction and docility with
which she had regarded her the night before. It was a very cold
morning, and there was a delicate film of frost on the windows
between the sweeps of the muslin curtains, and the morning sun gave
it a rosy glow and a crusting sparkle as of diamonds. The sight of
the frost had broken poor Andrew Brewster's heart when he saw it,
and reflected how it might have meant death to his little tender
child out under the blighting fall of it, like a little
house-flower.

Ellen lay winking at it when Cynthia Lennox came into the room and
leaned over her. The child cast a timid glance up at the tall,
slender figure clad in a dressing-gown of quilted crimson silk which
dazzled her eyes, accustomed as she was to morning wrappers of
dark-blue cotton at ninety-eight cents apiece; and she was filled
with undefined apprehensions of splendor and opulence which might
overwhelm her simple grasp of life and cause her to lose all her old
standards of value.

She had always thought her mother's wrappers very beautiful, but now
look at this! Cynthia's face, too, in the dim, rosy light, looked
very fair to the child, who had no discernment for those ravages of
time of which adults either acquit themselves or by which they
measure their own. She did not see the faded color of the woman's
face at all; she did not see the spreading marks around mouth and
eyes, or the faint parallels of care on the temples; she saw only
that which her unbiased childish vision had ever sought in a human
face, love and kindness, and tender admiration of herself; and her
conviction of its beauty was complete. But at the same time a bitter
and piteous jealousy for her mother and home, and all that she had
ever loved and believed in, came over her. What right had this
strange woman, dressed in a silk dress like that, to be leaning over
her in the morning, and looking at her like that--to be leaning over
her in the morning instead of her own mother, and looking at her in
that way, when she was not her mother? She shrank away towards the
other side of the bed with that nestling motion which is the natural
one of all young and gentle children even towards vacancy, but
suddenly Cynthia was leaning close over her, and she was conscious
again of that soft smother of violets, and Cynthia's arms were
embracing all her delicate little body with tenderest violence,
folding her against the soft red silk over her bosom, and kissing
her little, blushing cheeks with the lightest and carefulest kisses,
as though she were a butterfly which she feared to harm with her
adoring touch.

"Oh, you darling, you precious darling!" whispered Cynthia. "Don't
be afraid, darling; don't be afraid, precious; you are very safe;
don't be afraid. You shall have such a little, white, new-laid egg
for your breakfast, and some slices of toast, such a beautiful
brown, and some honey. Do you love honey, sweet? And some chocolate,
all in a little pink-and-gold cup which you shall have for your very
own."

"I want my mother!" Ellen cried out suddenly, with an exceedingly
bitter and terrified and indignant cry.

"There, there, darling!" Cynthia whispered; "there is a beautiful
red-and-green parrot down-stairs in a great cage that shines like
gold, and you shall have him for your own, and he can talk. You
shall have him for your very own, sweetheart. Oh, you darling! you
darling!"

Ellen felt herself overborne and conquered by this tide of love,
which compelled like her mother's, though this woman was not her
mother, and her revolt of loyalty was subdued for the time. After
all, whether we like it or not, love is somewhat of an impersonal
quality to all children, and perhaps to their elders, and it may be
in such wise that the goddess is evident.

She did not shrink from Cynthia any more then, but suffered her to
lift her out of bed as if she were a baby and set her on a white fur
rug, into which her feet sank, to her astonishment. Her mother had
only drawn-in rugs, which Ellen had watched her make. She was a
little afraid of the fur rug.

Ellen was very small, and seemed much younger than she was by reason
of her baby silence and her little clinging ways. Then, too, she had
always been so petted at home, and through never going to school had
not been in contact with other children. Often the bloom of
childhood is soonest rubbed off by friction with its own kind.
Diamond cut diamond holds good in many cases.

Cynthia did not think she was more than six years old, and never
dreamed of allowing her to dress herself, and indeed the child had
always been largely assisted in so doing. Cynthia washed her and
dressed her, and curled her hair, and led her down-stairs into the
dining-room of the night before, which Ellen still regarded with
wise eyes as the store. Then she sat in the tall chair which must
have been vacated by that mysterious other child, and had her
breakfast, eating her new-laid egg, which the black woman broke for
her, while she leaned delicately away as far as she could with a
timid shrug of her little shoulder, and sipping her chocolate out of
the beautiful pink-and-gold cup. That, however, Ellen decided within
herself was not nearly as pretty as one with "A Gift of Friendship"
on it in gilt letters which her grandmother kept on the whatnot in
her best parlor. This had been given to her aunt Ellen, who died
when she was a young girl, and was to be hers when she grew up. She
did not care as much for the egg and toast either as for the
griddle-cakes and maple syrup at home. All through breakfast Cynthia
talked to her, and in such manner as the child had never heard. That
fine voice, full of sweetest modulations and cadences, which used
the language with the precision of a musician, was as different from
the voices at home with their guttural slurs and maimed terminals as
the song of a spring robin from the scream of the parrot which Ellen
could hear in some distant room. And what Cynthia said was as
different from ordinary conversation to the child as a fairy tale,
being interspersed with terms of endearment which her mother and
grandmother would have considered high-flown, and have been
shamefaced in employing, and full of a whimsical playfulness which
had an undertone of pathos in it. Cynthia was not still for a
minute, and seemed to feel that much of her power lay in her speech
and voice, like some enchantress who cast her spell by means of her
silver tongue. Nobody knew how she dreaded that outcry of Ellen's,
"I want my mother!"  It gave her the sensations of a murderess, even
while she persisted in her crime. So she talked, diverting the
child's mind from its natural channel by sheer force of eloquence.
She told a story about the parrot, which caused Ellen's eyes to
widen with thoughtful wonder; she promised her treasures and
pleasures which made her mouth twitch into smiles in spite of
herself; but with all her efforts, when after breakfast they went
into another room, Ellen broke out again, "I want my mother!"

Cynthia turned white and struggled with herself for a moment, then
she spoke. That which she was doing of the nature of a crime was in
reality more foreign to her nature than virtue, and her instinct was
to return to her narrow and straight way in spite of its cramping of
love and natural longings. "Who is your mother, darling?" she asked.
"And what is your name?"

But Ellen was silent, except for that one cry, "I want my mother!"
The persistency of the child, in spite of her youth and her
distress, was almost invulnerable. She came of a stiff-necked family
on one side at least, and sometimes stiff-neckedness is more
pronounced in a child than in an adult, in whom it may be tempered
by experience and policy. "I want my mother! I want my mother!"
Ellen repeated in her gentle wail as plaintively inconsequent as the
note of a bird, and would say no more.

Then Cynthia displayed the parrot, but a parrot was too fine and
fierce a bird for Ellen. She would have preferred him as a subject
for her imagination, which could not be harmed by his beak and
claws, and she liked Cynthia's story about him better than the
gorgeous actuality of the bird himself. She shrank back from that
shrieking splendor, clinging with strong talons to his cage wires,
against which he pressed cruelly his red breast and beat his
gold-green wings, and through which he thrust his hooked beak, and
glared with his yellow eyes.

Ellen fairly sobbed at last when the parrot thrust out a wicked and
deceiving claw towards her, and said something in his unearthly
shriek which seemed to have a distinct reference to her, and fired
at her a volley of harsh "How do's" and "Good-mornings," and
"Good-nights," and "Polly want a cracker's," then finished with a
wild shriek of laughter, her note of human grief making a curious
chord with the bird's of inhuman mirth. "I want my mother!" she
panted out, and wept, and would not be comforted. Then Cynthia took
her away from the parrot and produced the doll. Then truly did the
sentiment of emulative motherhood in her childish breast console her
for the time for her need of her own mother. Such a doll as that she
had never seen, not even in the store-windows at Christmas-time.
Still, she had very fine dolls for a little girl whose relatives
were not wealthy, but this doll was like a princess, and nearly as
large as Ellen.

Ellen held out her arms for this ravishing creature in a French
gown, looked into its countenance of unflinching infantile grace and
amiability and innocence, and her fickle heart betrayed her, and she
laughed with delight, and the tension of anxiety relaxed in her
face.

"Where is her mother?" she asked of Cynthia, having a very firm
belief in the little girl-motherhood of dolls. She could not imagine
a doll without her little mother, and even in the cases of the
store-dolls, she wondered how their mothers could let them be sold,
and mothered by other little girls, however poor they might be. But
she never doubted that her own dolls were her very own children even
if they had been bought in a store. So now she asked Cynthia with an
indescribably pitying innocence, "Where is her mother?"

Cynthia laughed and looked adoringly at the child with the doll in
her arms. "She has no mother but you," said she. "She is yours, but
once she belonged to a dear little boy, who used to live with me."

Ellen stared thoughtfully: she had never seen a little boy with a
doll. The lady seemed to read her thought, for she laughed again.

"This little boy had curls, and he wore dresses like a little girl,
and he was just as pretty as a little girl, and he loved to play
with dolls like a little girl," said she.

"Where is he?" asked Ellen, in a small, gentle voice. "Don't he want
her now?"

"No, darling," said Cynthia; "he is not here; he has been gone away
two years, and he had left off his baby curls and his dresses, and
stopped playing with her for a year before that."  Cynthia sighed
and drew down her mouth, and Ellen looked at her lovingly and
wonderingly.

"Be you his mother?" she asked, piteously; then, before Cynthia
could answer, her own lip quivered and she sobbed out again, even
while she hugged her doll-child to her bosom, "I want my mother! I
want my mother!"

All that day the struggle went on. Cynthia Lennox, leading her
little guest, who always bore the doll, traversed the fine old house
in search of distraction, for the heart of the child was sore for
its mother, and success was always intermittent. The music-box
played, the pictures were explained, and even old trunks of
laid-away treasures ransacked. Cynthia took her through the
hot-houses and gave her all the flowers she liked to pick, to still
that longing cry of hers. Cynthia Lennox had fine hot-houses kept by
an old colored man, the husband of her black cook. Her establishment
was very small; her one other maid she had sent away early that
morning to make a visit with a sick sister in another town. The old
colored couple had lived in her family since she was born, and would
have been silent had she stolen a whole family of children. Ellen
caught a glimpse of a bent, dark figure at one end of the pink-house
as they entered; he glanced up at her with no appearance of
surprise, only a broad, welcoming expansion of his whole face, which
caused her to shrink; then he shuffled out in response to an order
of his mistress.

Ellen stared at the pinks, swarming as airily as butterflies in
motley tints of palest rose to deepest carmine over the blue-green
jungle of their stems; she sniffed the warm, moist, perfumed
atmosphere; she followed Cynthia down the long perspective of bloom,
then she said again that she wanted her mother; and Cynthia led her
into the rose-house, then into one where the grapes hung low
overhead and the air was as sweet and strong as wine, but even there
Ellen wanted her mother.

But it was not until the next morning when she was eating her
breakfast that the climax came. Then the door-bell rang, and
presently Cynthia was summoned into another room. She kissed Ellen,
and bade her go on with her breakfast and she would return shortly;
but before she had quite left the room a man stood unexpectedly in
the door-way, a man who looked younger than Cynthia. He had a fair
mustache, a high forehead scowling over near-sighted blue eyes, and
stood with a careless slouch of shoulders in a gray coat.

"Good-morning," he began. Then he stopped short when he saw Ellen in
her tall chair staring shyly around at him through her soft golden
mist of hair. "What child is that?" he demanded; but Cynthia with a
sharp cry sprang to him, and fairly pulled him out of the room, and
closed the door.

Then Ellen heard voices rising higher and higher, and Cynthia say,
in a voice of shrill passion: "I cannot, Lyman. I cannot give her
up. You don't know what I have suffered since George married and
took little Robert away. I can't let this child go."

Then came the man's voice, hoarse with excitement: "But, Cynthia,
you must; you are mad. Think what this means. Why, if people know
what you have done, kept this child, while all this search has been
going on, and made no effort to find out who she was--"

"I did ask her, and she would not tell me," Cynthia said, miserably.

"Good Lord! what of that? That is nothing but a subterfuge. You must
have seen in the papers--"

"I have not looked at a paper since she came."

"Of course you have not. You were afraid to. Why, good God! Cynthia
Lennox, I don't know but you will stand in danger of lynching if
people ever find this out, that you have taken in this child and
kept her in this way--I don't know what people will do."

Ellen waited for no more; she rose softly, she gathered up her great
doll which sat in a little chair near by, she gathered up her
pink-and-gold cup which had been given her, and the pinks which had
been brought from the hot-house the day before, which Cynthia had
arranged in a vase beside her plate, then she stole very softly out
of the side door, and out of the house, and ran down the street as
fast as her little feet could carry her.



Chapter V


That morning, after the street in front of Lloyd's factory had been
cleared of the flocking employés with their little dinner-boxes, and
the great broadside of the front windows had been set with faces of
the workers, a distracted figure came past. A young fellow at a
window of the cutting-room noticed her first. "Look at that, Jim
Tenny," said he, with a shove of an elbow towards his next neighbor.

"Get out, will ye?" growled Jim Tenny, but he looked.

Then three girls from the stitching-room came crowding up behind
with furtively tender pressings of round arms against the shoulders
of the young men. "We come in here to see if that was Eva Loud,"
said one, a sharp-faced, alert girl, not pretty, but a favorite
among the male employés, to the constant wonder of the other girls.

"Yes, it's her fast enough," rejoined another, a sweet-faced blonde
with an exaggeratedly fashionable coiffure and a noticeable
smartness in the tie of her neck-ribbon and the set of her cotton
waist. "Just look at the poor thing's hair. Only see how frowsly it
is, and she has come out without her hat."

"Well, I don't wonder," said the third girl, who was elderly and
whose complexion was tanned and weather-beaten almost to the color
of the leather upon which she worked. Yet through this seamed and
discolored face, with thin grayish hair drawn back tightly from the
temples, one could discern, as through a transparent mask, a past
prettiness and an exceeding gentleness and faithfulness. "If my
sister's little Helen was to be lost I shouldn't know whether my hat
was on or not," said she. "I believe I should go raving mad."

"You wouldn't have to slave as you have done supportin' it ever
since your sister's husband died," said the pretty girl. "Only look
how Eva's waist bags in the back and she 'ain't got any belt on. I
wouldn't come out lookin' so."

"I should die if I didn't have something to work for. That's the
difference between being a worker and a slave," said the other girl,
simply. "Poor Eva!"

"Well, it was a pretty young one," said the first girl.

"Looks to me as if Eva Loud's skirt was comin' off," said the pretty
girl. She pressed close to Jim Tenny with a familiar air of
proprietorship as she spoke, but the young man did not seem to heed
her. He was looking over his bench at the figure on the street
below, and his heavy black eyebrows were scowling, and his mouth
set.

Jim Tenny was handsome after a swarthy and grimy fashion, for the
tint of the leather seemed to have become absorbed into his skin.
His black mustache bristled roughly, but his face was freer than
usual from his black beard-stubble, because the day before had been
Sunday and he had shaved. His black right hand with its squat
discolored nails grasped his cutting-knife with a hard clutch, his
left held the piece of leather firmly in place, while he stared out
with that angry and anxious scowl at Eva, who had paused on the
street below, and was staring up at the windows, as if she meditated
a wild search in the factory for the lost child. There was a curious
likeness between the two faces; people had been accustomed to say
that Eva Loud and her gentleman looked more like brother and sister
than a courting couple, and there was, moreover, a curious spirit of
comradeship between the two. It asserted itself now with the young
man, in opposition to the more purely sexual attraction of the
pretty girl who was leaning against him, and for whom he had
deserted Eva.

After all, friendship and good comradeship are a steadier force than
love, if not as overwhelming, and it may be that tortoise of the
emotions which outruns the hare.

"Well, for my part, I think a good deal more of Eva Loud than if she
had come out all frizzed and ruffled--shows her heart is in the
right place," said the man who had spoken first. He spoke with a
guttural drawl, and kept on with his work, but there was a meaning
in his words for the pretty girl, who had coquetted with him before
taking up with Jim Tenny.

"That is so," said another man at Jim Tenny's right. "She is right
to come out as she has done when she is so anxious for the child."
This man was a fair-haired Swede, and he spoke English with a
curious and careful precision, very different from the hurried,
slurring intonations of the other men. He had been taught the
language by a philanthropic young lady, a college graduate, in whose
father's family he had lived when he first came to America, and in
consequence he spoke like a gentleman and had some considerable
difficulty in understanding his companions.

"Eva Loud has had a damned hard time, take it all together," spoke
out another man, looking over is bench at the girl on the street. He
was small and thin and wiry, a mass of brown-coated muscles under
his loose-hanging gingham shirt. He plied feverishly his
cutting-knife with his lean, hairy hands as he spoke. He was
accounted one of the best and swiftest cutters in Lloyd's, and he
worked unceasingly, for he had an invalid wife and four children to
support. Now and then he had to stop to cough, then he worked
faster.

"That's so," said the first man.

"Yes, that is so," said the Swede, with a nod of his fair head.

"And now to lose this young one that she set her life by," said the
first girl, with an evident point of malice in her tone, and a
covert look at the pretty girl at Jim Tenny's side. Jim Tenny paled
under his grime; the hand which held the knife clinched.

"What do you s'pose has become of the young one?" said the first
girl. "There's a good many out from the shop huntin' this mornin',
ain't there?"

"Fifty," said the first man, laconically.

"You three were out all day yesterday, wa'n't you?"

"Yes, Jim and Carl and me were out till after midnight."

"Well, I wonder whether the poor little young one is alive? Don't
seem as if she could be--but--"

"Look there! look there!" screamed the elderly girl suddenly. "Look
at _there!_"  She began to dance, she laughed, she sobbed, she waved
her lean hands frantically out of the window, leaning far over the
bench. "Look at there!" she kept crying. Then she turned and ran out
of the room, with the other girls and half the cutting-room after
her.

"Damn it, she's got the child!" said the thin man. He kept on
working, his dark, sinewy hands flying over the sheets of leather,
but the tears ran down his cheeks. Lloyd's emptied itself into the
street, and surrounded Eva Loud and Ellen, who, running aimlessly,
had come straight to her aunt. Jim Tenny was first.

Eva stood clasping the child, who was too frightened to cry, and was
breathing in hushed gasps, her face hidden on her aunt's broad
bosom. Eva had caught her up at the first sight of her, and now she
stood clasping her fiercely, and looking at them all as if she
thought they wanted to rob her of the child. Even when a great cheer
went up from the crowd, and was echoed by another from the factory,
with an accompaniment of waving bare, leather-stained arms and
hands, that expression of desperate defiance instead of the joy of
recovery did not leave her face, not until she saw Jim Tenny's face
working with repressed emotion and met his eyes full of the memory
of old comradeship. Then her bold heart and her pride all melted and
she burst out in a great wail before them all.

"Oh, Jim!" she cried out. "Oh, Jim, I lost you, and then I thought
I'd lost her! Oh, Jim!"

Then there was a chorus of feminine sobs, for Eva's wild weeping had
precipitated the ready sympathy of half the girls present. The men
started a cheer to cover a certain chivalrous shamefacedness which
was upon them at the sight of the girl's grief, and another cheer
from the factory echoed it. Then came another sound, the great
steam-whistle of Lloyd's; then the whistles of the other neighboring
factories responded, and people began to swarm out of them, and the
windows to fill with eager faces. Jim Tenny grasped Eva's arm with a
grasp like a vise. "Come this way," said he, sharply. "Come this
way, Eva."

"Oh, Jim! oh, Jim!" Eva sobbed again; but she followed him, little
Ellen's golden fleece tossing over her shoulder.

"She's got her; she's got her!" shouted the people.

[Illustration: 'She's got her!' Shouted the people]

Then the leather-stained hands gyrated, the cheers went up, and
again the whistles blew.

Jim Tenny, with his hand on Eva's arm, pushed his way through the
crowd.

"Where you goin', Jim?" asked the pretty girl at his elbow, but he
pushed past her roughly, and did not seem to hear. Eva's face was
all inflamed and convulsed with sobs, but she did not dream of
covering it--she was full of the holy shamelessness of grief and
joy. "Let me see her! let me see her! Oh, the dear little thing,
only look at her! Where have you been, precious? Are you hungry? Oh,
Nellie, she is hungry, I know! She looks thin. Run over to the
bakery and buy her some cookies, quick! Are you cold? Give her this
sacque. Only look at her! Kate, only look at her! Are you hurt,
darling? Has anybody hurt you? If anybody has, he shall be hung! Oh,
you darling! Only see her, 'Liza."

But Jim Tenny, his mouth set, his black brows scowling, his hard
grasp on Eva's arm, pushed straight through the gathering crowd
until they came to Clarkson's stables at the rear of Lloyd's, where
he kept his horse and buggy--for he lived at a distance from his
work, and drove over every morning. He pointed to a chair which a
hostler had occupied, tilted against the wall, for a morning smoke,
after the horses were fed and watered, and which he had vacated to
join the jubilant crowd. "Sit down there," he said to Eva. Then he
hailed a staring man coming out of the office. "Here, help me in
with my horse, quick!" said he.

The man stared still, with slowly rising indignation. He was portly
and middle-aged, the senior partner of the firm, who seldom touched
his own horses of late years, and had a son at Harvard. "What's to
pay? What do you mean? Anybody sick?" he asked.

"Help me into the buggy with my horse!" shouted Jim Tenny. "I tell
you the child is found, and I've got to take it home to its folks."

"Don't they know yet? Is that it?"

"Yes, I tell you."  Jim was backing out his horse as he spoke.

Mr. Clarkson seized a harness and threw the collar over the horse's
head, while Jim ran out the buggy. When Mr. Clarkson lifted Eva and
Ellen into the buggy he gave the child's head a pat. "God bless it!"
he said, and his voice broke.

The horse was restive. Jim took a leap into the buggy at Eva's side,
and they were out with a dash and a swift rattle. The crowd parted
before them, and cheer after cheer went up. The whistles sounded
again. Then all the city bells rang out. They were signalling the
other searchers that the child was found. Jim and Eva and Ellen made
a progress of triumph down the street. The crowd pursued them with
cheers of rejoicing; doors and windows flew open; the house-yards
were full of people. Jim drove as fast as he could, scowling hard to
hide his tenderness and pity. Eva sat by his side, weeping in her
terrible candor of grief and joy, and Ellen's golden locks tossed on
her shoulder.



Chapter VI


As Jim Tenny, with Eva Loud and the child, drove down the road
towards the Brewster house, his horse and buggy became the nucleus
of a gathering procession, shouting and exclaiming, with voices all
tuned to one key of passionate sympathy. There were even many women
of the poorer class who had no sense of indecency in following the
utmost lead of their tender emotions. Some of them bore children of
their own in their arms, and were telling them with passionate
croonings to look at the other little girl in the carriage who had
been lost, and gone away a whole day and two nights from her mother.
They often called out fondly to Ellen and Eva, and ordered Jim to
wait a moment that they might look at the poor darling. But Jim
drove on as fast as he was able, though he had sometimes to rein his
horse sharply to avoid riding down some lean racing boys, who would
now and then shoot ahead of him with loud whoops of triumph. Once as
he drove he laid one hand caressingly over Eva's. "Poor girl!" he
said, hoarsely and shamefacedly, and Eva sobbed loudly. When Jim
reached Mrs. Zelotes Brewster's house there was a swift displacement
of lights and shadows in a window, a door flew open, and the gaunt
old woman was at the wheel.

"Stop!" she cried. "Stop! Bring her in here to me! Let me have her!
Give her to me; I have got everything ready! Come, Ellen--come to
grandmother!"

Then there was a mad rush from the opposite direction, and the
child's mother was there, reaching into the buggy with fierce arms
of love and longing. "Give her to me!" she shrieked out. "Give me my
baby, Eva Loud! Oh, Ellen, where have you been?"

Fanny Brewster dragged her child from her sister's arms so forcibly
that she seemed fairly to fly over the wheel. Then she strained her
to her hungry bosom, covering her with kisses, wetting her soft face
and yellow hair with tears.

"My baby, mother's darling, mother's baby!" she gasped out with
great pants of satisfied love; but another pair of lean, wiry old
arms stole around the child's slender body.

"Give her to me!" demanded Mrs. Zelotes Brewster. "She is my son's
child, and I have a right to her! You will kill her, goin' on so
over her. Give her to me! I have everything all ready in my house to
take care of her. Give her to me, Fanny Loud!"

"Keep your hands off her!" cried Fanny. "She's my own baby, and
nobody's goin' to take her away from me, I guess."

"Give her to me this minute!" said Mrs. Zelotes Brewster. "You'll
kill her, goin' on so. You're frightenin' her to death. Give her to
me this minute!"

Ellen, meanwhile, that little tender blossom tossed helplessly by
contending waves of love, was weeping and trembling with joy at the
feel of her mother's arms and with awe and terror at this tempest of
passion which she had evoked.

"Give her to me!" demanded Mrs. Zelotes Brewster.

The crowd who had followed stood gaping with working faces. The
mothers wept over their own children. Eva stood at her sister's
elbow, with a hand on one of the child's, which was laid over
Fanny's shoulder. Jim Tenny had his face hidden on his horse's neck.

"Give her to me!" said Mrs. Zelotes again. "Give her to me, I say! I
am her own grandmother!"

"And I am her own mother!" called out Fanny, with a great
master-note of love and triumph and defiance. "I'm her own mother,
and I've got her, and nobody but God shall take her from me again."
The tears streamed down her cheeks; she kissed the child with pale,
parted lips. She was at once pathetic and terrible. She was human
love and selfishness incarnate.

Mrs. Zelotes Brewster stared at her, and her face changed suddenly
and softened. She turned and went back into her own house. Her gray
head appeared a second beside her window, then sank out of sight.
She was kneeling there with her Bible at her side, a sudden sweet
humility of thankfulness rising from her whole spirit like a
perfume, when Fanny, with Eva following, still clinging to the
child's little hand over her sister's shoulder, went across the yard
to her own house to tell her husband. The others followed, and stood
about outside, listening with curiosity sanctified by intensest
sympathy. One nervous-faced boy leaped on the slant of the bulkhead
to peer in a window of the sitting-room, and when his mother pulled
him back forcibly, rubbed his grimy little knuckles across his eyes,
and a dark smooch appeared on his nose and cheeks. He was a young
boy, very small and thin for his age. He whispered to his mother and
she nodded, and he darted off in the direction of his own home.

Andrew Brewster had just come home after an all-night's search, and
he was in his bedroom in the bitter sleep of utter exhaustion and
despair. Suddenly his heart had failed him and his brain had reeled.
He had begun to feel dazed, to forget for a minute what he was
looking for. He had made incoherent replies to the men with him, and
finally one, after a whispered consultation with the others, had
said: "Look at here, Andrew, old fellow; you'd better go home and
rest a bit. We'll look all the harder while you're gone, and maybe
she'll be found when you wake up."

"Who will be found?" Andrew asked, with a dazed look. He reeled as
if he were drunk.

"Ain't had anything, has he?" one of the men whispered.

"Not a drop to my knowledge."

Andrew's lips trembled perceptibly; his forehead was knitted with
vacuous perplexity; his eyes reflected blanks of unreason; his whole
body had an effect of weak settling and subsidence. The man who
worked next to him in the cutting-room at Lloyd's, and had searched
at his side indefatigably from the first, stole a tender hand under
his shoulder. "Come along with me, old man," he said, and Andrew
obeyed.

When Fanny and Eva came in with the child, he lay prostrate on the
bed, and scarcely seemed to breathe. A great qualm of fear shot over
Fanny for a second. His father had died of heart-disease.

"Is he--dead?" she gasped to Eva.

"No, of course he ain't," said Eva. "He's asleep; he's wore out.
Andrew, Andrew, Andrew, wake up! She's found, Andrew; Ellen's
found."  But Andrew did not stir.

"He is!" gasped Fanny, again.

"No, he ain't. Andrew, Andrew Brewster, wake up, wake up! Ellen's
here! She's found!"

Fanny put Ellen down, and bent over Andrew and listened. "No, I can
hear him breathe," she cried. Then she kissed him, and leaned her
mouth close to his ear. "Andrew!" she said, in a voice which Eva and
Ellen had never heard before. "Andrew, poor old man, wake up; she's
found! Our child is found!"

When Andrew still did not wake, but only stirred, and moaned
faintly, Fanny lifted Ellen onto the bed. "Kiss poor father, and
wake him," she told her.

Ellen, whose blue eyes were big with fright and wonder, whose lips
were quivering, and whose little body was vibrating with the strain
of her nerves, laid her soft cheek against her father's rough, pale
one, and stole a little arm under his neck. "Father, wake up!" she
called out in her little, trembling, sweet voice, and that reached
Andrew Brewster in the depths of his own physical inertness. He
opened his eyes and looked at the child, and the light came into
them, and then the sound of his sobbing filled the house and reached
the people out in the yard, and an echo arose from them. Gradually
the crowd dispersed. Jim Tenny, before he drove away, went to the
door and spoke to Eva.

"Anything I can do?" he asked, with a curious, tender roughness. He
did not look at her as he spoke.

"No; thank you, Jim," replied Eva.

Suddenly the young man reached out a hand and stroked her rough
hair. "Well, take care of yourself, old girl," he said.

Eva went to her sister as Jim went out of the yard. Ellen was in the
sitting-room with her father, and Fanny had gone to the kitchen to
heat some milk for the child, whom she firmly believed to have had
nothing to eat during her absence.

"Fanny," said Eva.

"Well?" said Fanny. "I can't stop; I must get some milk for her; she
must be 'most starved."

Fanny turned and looked at Eva, who cast down her eyes before her in
a very shamefacedness of happiness and contrition.

"Why, what is it?" repeated Fanny, staring at her.

"I've got Jim back, I guess, as well as Ellen," said Eva, "and I'm
going to be a good woman."

After all the crowd of people outside had gone, the little nervous
boy raced into the Brewster yard with a tin cup of chestnuts in his
hand. He knocked at the side door, and when Fanny opened it he
thrust them upon her. "They're for her!" he blurted out, and was
gone, racing like a deer.

"Don't you want the cup back?" Fanny shouted after him.

"No, ma'am," he called back, and that, although his mother had
charged him to bring back the cup or he would get a scolding.



Chapter VII


Ellen had clung fast all the time to her doll, her bunch of pinks,
and her cup and saucer; or, rather, she had guarded them jealously.
"Where did you get all these things?" her aunt Eva had asked her,
amazedly, when she first caught sight of her, and then had not
waited for an answer in her wild excitement of joy at the recovery
of the child. The great, smiling wax doll had ridden between Jim and
Eva in the buggy, Eva had held the pink cup and saucer with a kind
of mechanical carefulness, and Ellen herself clutched the pinks in
one little hand, though she crushed them against her aunt's bosom as
she sat in her lap. Ellen's grandmother and aunt had glanced at
these treasures with momentary astonishment, and so had her mother,
but curiosity was in abeyance for both of them for the time; rapture
at the sight of the beloved child at whose loss they had suffered
such agonies was the one emotion of their souls. But later
investigation was to follow.

When Ellen did not seem to care for her hot milk liberally sweetened
in her own mug, and griddle-cakes with plenty of syrup, her mother
looked at her, and her eyes of love sharpened with inquiry. "Ain't
you hungry?" she said. Ellen shook her head. She was sitting at the
table in the dining-room, and her father, mother, and aunt were all
hovering about her, watching her. Some of the neighbor women were
also in the room, staring with a sort of deprecating tenderness of
curiosity.

"Do you feel sick?" Ellen's father inquired, anxiously.

"You don't feel sick, do you?" repeated her mother.

Ellen shook her head.

Just then Mrs. Zelotes Brewster came in with her
black-and-white-checked shawl pinned around her gaunt old face,
which had in it a strange softness and sweetness, which made Fanny
look at her again, after the first glance, and not know why.

"We've got our blessing back again, mother," said her son Andrew, in
a broken voice.

"But she won't eat her breakfast, now mother has gone and cooked it
for her, so nice, too," said Fanny, in a tone of confidence which
she had never before used towards Mrs. Zelotes.

"You don't feel sick, do you, Ellen?" asked her grandmother.

Ellen shook her head. "No, ma'am," said she.

"She says she don't feel sick, and she ain't hungry," Andrew said,
anxiously.

"I wonder if she would eat one of my new doughnuts. I've got some
real nice ones," said a neighbor--the stout woman from the next
house, whose breadth of body seemed to symbolize a corresponding
spiritual breadth of motherliness, as she stood there looking at the
child who had been lost and was found.

"Don't you want one of Aunty Wetherhed's nice doughnuts?" asked
Fanny.

"No; I thank you," replied Ellen. Eva started suddenly with an air
of mysterious purpose, opened a door, ran down cellar, and returned
with a tumbler of jelly, but Ellen shook her head even at that.

"Have you had your breakfast?" said Fanny.

Then Ellen was utterly quiet. She did not speak; she made no sign or
motion. She sat still, looking straight before her.

"Don't you hear, Ellen?" said Andrew. "Have you had your breakfast
this morning?"

"Tell Auntie Eva if you have had your breakfast," Eva said.

Mrs. Zelotes Brewster spoke with more authority, and she went
further.

"Tell grandmother if you have had your breakfast, and where you had
it," said she.

But Ellen was dumb and motionless. They all looked at one another.
"Tell Aunty Wetherhed: that's a good girl," said the stout woman.

"Where are those things she had when I first saw her?" asked Mrs.
Zelotes, suddenly. Eva went into the sitting-room, and fetched them
out--the bunch of pinks, the cup and saucer, and the doll. Ellen's
eyes gave a quick look of love and delight at the doll.

"She had these, luggin' along in her little arms, when I first
caught sight of her comin'," said Eva.

"Where did you get them, Ellen?" asked Fanny. "Who gave them to
you?"

Ellen was silent, with all their inquiring eyes fixed upon her face
like a compelling battery. "Where have you been, Ellen, all the time
you have been gone?" asked Mrs. Zelotes. "Now you have got back
safe, you must tell us where you have been."

Andrew stooped his head down to the child's, and rubbed his rough
cheek against her soft one, with his old facetious caress. "Tell
father where you've been," he whispered. Ellen gave him a little
piteous glance, and her lip quivered, but she did not speak.

"Where do you s'pose she got them?" whispered one neighbor to
another.

"I can't imagine; that's a beautiful doll."

"Ain't it? It must have cost a lot. I know, because my Hattie had
one her aunt gave her last Christmas; that one cost a dollar and
ninety-eight cents, and it didn't begin to compare with this. That's
a handsome cup and saucer, too."

"Yes, but you can get real handsome cups and saucers to Crosby's for
twenty-five cents. I don't think so much of that."

"Them pinks must have come from a greenhouse."

"Yes, they must."

"Well, there's lots of greenhouses in the city besides the florists.
That don't help much."  Then the first woman inclined her lips
closely to the other woman's ear and whispered, causing the other to
start back. "No, I can't believe she would," said she.

"She came from those Louds on her mother's side," whispered the
first woman, guardedly, with dark emphasis.

"Ellen," said Fanny, suddenly, and almost sharply, "you didn't take
those things in any way you hadn't ought to, did you? Tell mother."

"Fanny!" cried Andrew.

"If she did, it's the first time a Brewster ever stole," said Mrs.
Zelotes. Her face was no longer strange with unwonted sweetness as
she looked at Fanny.

Andrew put his face down to Ellen's again. "Father knows she didn't
steal the things; never mind," he whispered.

Suddenly the stout woman made a soft, ponderous rush out of the room
and the house. She passed the window with oscillating swiftness.

"Where's Miss Wetherhed gone?" said one woman to another.

"She's thought of somethin'."

"Maybe she left her bread in the oven."

"No, she's thought of somethin'."

A very old lady, who had been sitting in a rocking-chair on the
other side of the room, rose trembling and came to Ellen and leaned
over her, looking at her with small, black, bright eyes through
gold-rimmed spectacles. The old woman was deaf, and her voice was
shrill and high-pitched to reach her own consciousness. "What did
such a good little girl as you be run away from father and mother
for?" she piped, going back to first principles and the root of the
whole matter, since she had heard nothing of the discussion which
had been going on about her, and had supposed it to deal with them.

Ellen gasped. Suddenly all her first woe returned upon her
recollection. She turned innocent, accusing eyes upon her father's
loving face, then her mother's and aunt's. "You said--you
said--you--" she stammered out, but then her father and mother were
both down upon their knees before her in her chair embracing her,
and Eva, too, seized her little hands. "You mustn't ever think of
what you heard father and mother say, Ellen," Andrew said, solemnly.
"You must forget all about it. Father and mother were both very
wrong and wicked--"

"And Aunt Eva, too," sobbed Eva.

"And they didn't mean what they said," continued Andrew. "You are
the greatest blessing in this whole world to father and mother;
you're all they have got. You don't know what father and mother have
been through, thinking you were lost and they might never see their
little girl again. Now you mustn't ever think of what they said
again."

"And you won't ever hear them say it again, Ellen," Fanny Brewster
said, with a noble humbling of herself before her child.

"No, you won't," said Eva.

"Mother is goin' to try to do better, and have more patience, and
not let you hear such talk any more," said Fanny, kissing Ellen
passionately, and rising with Andrew's arm around her.

"I'm going to try, too, Ellen," said Eva.

The stout woman came padding softly and heavily into the room, and
there was a bright-blue silken gleam in her hand. She waved a whole
yard of silk of the most brilliant blue before Ellen's dazzled eyes.
"There!" said she, triumphantly, "if you will tell Aunty Wetherhed
where you've been, and all about it, she'll give you all this
beautiful silk to make a new dress for your new dolly."

Ellen looked in the woman's face, she looked at the blue silk, and
she looked at the doll, but she was silent.

"Only think what a beautiful dress it will make!" said a woman.

"And see how pretty it goes with the dolly's light hair," said
Fanny.

"Ellen," whispered Andrew, "you tell father, and he'll buy you a
whole pound of candy down to the store."

"I shouldn't wonder if I could find something to make your dolly a
cloak," said a woman.

"And I'll make her a beautiful little bonnet, if you'll tell," said
another.

"Only think, a whole pound of candy!" said Andrew.

"I'll buy you a gold ring," Eva cried out--"a gold ring with a
little blue stone in it."

"And you shall go to ride with mother on the cars to-morrow," said
Fanny.

"Father will get you some oranges, too," said Andrew.

But Ellen sat silent and unmoved by all that sweet bribery, a little
martyr to something within herself; a sense of honor, love for the
lady who had concealed her, and upon whom her confession might bring
some dire penalty; or perhaps she was strengthened in her silence by
something less worthy--possibly that stiff-neckedness which had
descended to her from a long line of Puritans upon her father's
side. At all events she was silent, and opposed successfully her one
little new will to the onslaught of all those older and more
experienced ones before her, though nobody knew at what cost of
agony to herself. She had always been a singularly docile and
obedient child; this was the first persistent disobedience of her
whole life, and it reacted upon herself with a cruel spiritual hurt.
She sat clasping the great doll, the pinks, and the pink cup and
saucer before her on the table--a lone little weak child, opposing
her single individuality against so many, and to her own hurt and
horror and self-condemnation, and she did not weaken; but all at
once her head drooped on one side, and her father caught her.

"There! you can all stop tormentin' this blessed child!" he cried.
"Ellen, Ellen, look at Father! Oh, mother, look here; she's fainted
dead away!"

"Fanny!"

When Ellen came to herself she was on the bed in her mother's room,
and her aunt Eva was putting some of her beautiful cologne on her
head, and her mother was trying to make her drink water, and her
grandmother had a glass of her currant wine, and they were calling
to her with voices of far-off love, as if from another world.

And after that she was questioned no more about her mysterious
journey.

"Wherever she has been, she has got no harm," said Mrs. Zelotes
Brewster, "and there's no use in trying to drive a child, when it
comes of our family. She's got some notion in her head, and you've
got to leave her alone to get over it. She's got back safe and
sound, and that's the main thing."

"I wish I knew where she got those things," Fanny said. Looseness of
principle as to property rights was not as strange to her
imagination as to that of her mother-in-law.

For a long time afterwards she passed consciously and uneasily by
cups and saucers in stores, and would not look their way lest she
should see the counterpart of Ellen's, which was Sèvres, and worth
more than the whole counterful, had she only known it, and she
hurried past the florists who displayed pinks in their windows. The
doll was evidently not new, and she had not the same anxiety with
regard to that.

No one was allowed to ask Ellen further questions that day, not even
the reporters, who went away quite baffled by this infantile
pertinacity in silence, and were forced to draw upon their
imaginations, with results varying from realistic horrors to Alice
in Wonderland. Ellen was kissed and cuddled by some women and young
girls, but not many were allowed to see her. The doctor had been
called in after her fainting-fit, and pronounced it as his opinion
that she was a very nervous child, and had been under a severe
strain, and he would not answer for the result if she were to be
further excited.

"Let her have her own way: if she wants to talk, let her, and if she
wants to be silent, let her alone. She is as delicate as that cup,"
said the doctor, looking at the shell-like thing which Ellen had
brought home, with some curiosity.



Chapter VIII


That evening Lyman Risley came to see Cynthia. He looked at her
anxiously and scrutinizingly when he entered the room, and did not
respond to her salutation.

"Well, I have seen the child," he said, in a hushed voice, with a
look towards the door as he seated himself before the fire and
spread out his hands towards the blaze. He looked nervous and
chilly.

"How did she look?" asked Cynthia.

"Why in the name of common-sense, Cynthia," he said, abruptly,
without noticing her query, "if you had to give that child china for
a souvenir, didn't you give her something besides Royal Sèvres?"
Lyman Risley undoubtedly looked younger than Cynthia, but his manner
even more than his looks gave him the appearance of comparative
youth. There was in it a vehemence and impetuosity almost like that
of a boy. Cynthia, with her strained nervous intensity, seemed very
much older.

"Why not?" said she.

"Why not? Well, it is fortunate for you that those people have a
knowledge for the most part of the fundamental properties of the
drama of life, such as bread-and-butter, and a table from which to
eat it, and a knife with which to cut it, and a bed in which to
sleep, and a stove and coal, and so on, and so on, and that the
artistic accessories, such as Royal Sèvres, which is no better than
common crockery for the honest purpose of holding the tea for the
solace of the thirsty mouth of labor, is beneath their attention."

"How does the child look, Lyman?" asked Cynthia Lennox. She was
leaning back in a great crimson-covered chair before the fire, a
long, slender, graceful shape, in a clinging white silk gown which
was a favorite of hers for house wear. The light in the room was
subdued, coming mostly through crimson shades, and the faint, worn
lines on Cynthia's face did not show; it looked, with her soft crown
of gray hair, like a cameo against the crimson background of the
chair. The man beside her looked at her with that impatience of his
masculine estate and his superior youth, and yet with the adoration
which nothing could conquer. He had passed two-thirds of his life,
metaphorically, at this woman's feet, and had formed a habit of
admiration and lovership which no facts nor developments could ever
alter. He was frowning, he replied with a certain sharpness, and yet
he leaned towards her as he spoke, and his eyes followed her long,
graceful lines and noted the clear delicacy of her features against
the crimson background. "How the child looked--how the child looked;
Cynthia, you do not realize what you did. You have not the faintest
realization of what it means for a woman to keep a lost child hidden
away as you did, when its parents and half the city were hunting for
it. I tell you I did not know what the consequences might be to you
if it were found out. There is wild blood in a city like this, and
even the staid old New England stream is capable of erratic
currents. I tell you I have had a day of dreadful anxiety, and it
was worse because I had to be guarded. I dared scarcely speak to any
one about the matter. I have listened on street corners; I have made
errands to newspaper offices. I meant to get you away if-- Well,
never mind--I tell you, you do not realize what you did, Cynthia."

Cynthia glanced at him without moving her head, then she looked
away, her face quivering slightly, more as if from a reflection of
his agitation than from her own. "You say you saw her," she said.

"This afternoon," the man went on, "I got fairly desperate. I
resolved to go to the fountain-head for information, and take my
chances. So down I went to Maple Street, where the Brewsters live,
and I rang the front-door bell, and the child's aunt, a handsome,
breathless kind of creature, came and ushered me into the best
parlor, and went into the next room--the sitting-room--to call the
others. I caught sight of enough women for a woman's club in the
sitting-room. Then Andrew Brewster came in, and I offered my legal
services out of friendly interest in the case, and in that way I
found out what I wanted to. Cynthia, that child has not told."

Cynthia raised herself and sat straight, and her face flashed like a
white flame. "Were they harsh to her?" she demanded. "Were they
cruel? Did they question her, and were they harsh and cruel because
she would not tell? Why did you not tell them yourself? Why did you
not, Lyman Risley? Why did you not tell the whole story rather than
have that child blamed? Well, I will go myself. I will go this
minute. They shall not blame that darling. What do you think I care
for myself? Let them lynch me if they want to. I will go this
minute!"  Cynthia sprang to her feet, but Risley, with a hoarse
shout under his breath, caught hold of her and forced her back.

"For God's sake, sit down, Cynthia!" he said. "Didn't you hear the
door-bell? Somebody is coming."

The door-bell had in fact rung, and Cynthia had not noticed it. She
lay back in her chair as the door opened, and Mrs. Norman Lloyd
entered. "Good-evening, Cynthia," she said, beamingly. "I thought I
would stop a few minutes on my way to meeting. I'm rather early. No,
don't get up," as Cynthia rose. "Don't get up; I can only stay a
minute. Never mind about giving me a chair, Mr. Risley--thank you.
Yes, this is a real comfortable chair."  Mrs. Lloyd, seated where
the firelight played over her wide sweep of rich skirts, and her
velvet fur-trimmed cloak and plumed bonnet, beamed upon them with an
expansive benevolence and kindliness. She was a large, handsome,
florid woman. Her grayish-brown hair was carefully crimped, and
looped back from her fat, pink cheeks, a fine shell-and-gold comb
surmounted her smooth French twist, and held her bonnet in place.
She unfastened her cloak, and a diamond brooch at her throat caught
the light and blazed red like a ruby. She was the wife of Norman
Lloyd, the largest shoe-manufacturer in the place. There was between
her and Cynthia a sort of relationship by marriage. Norman Lloyd's
brother George had married Cynthia's sister, who had died ten years
before, and of whose little son, Robert, Cynthia had had the charge.
Now George, who was a lawyer in St. Louis, had married again. Mrs.
Norman had sympathized openly with Cynthia when the child was taken
from Cynthia at his father's second marriage. "I call it a shame,"
she had said, "giving that child to a perfect stranger to bring up,
and I don't see any need of George's marrying again, anyway. I don't
know what I should do if I thought Norman would marry again if I
died. I think one husband and one wife is enough for any man or
woman if they believe in the resurrection. It has always seemed to
me that the answer to that awful question in the New Testament, as
to whose wife that woman who had so many husbands would be in the
other world, meant that people who had done so much marrying on
earth would have to be old maids and old bachelors in heaven. George
ought to be ashamed of himself, and Cynthia ought to keep that
child."

Ever since she had been very solicitously friendly towards Cynthia,
who had always imperceptibly held herself aloof from her, owing to a
difference in degree. Cynthia had no prejudices of mind, but many of
nerves, and this woman was distinctly not of her sort, though she
had a certain liking for her. Every time she was brought in contact
with her she had a painful sense of a grating adjustment as of
points of meeting which did not dovetail as they should. Norman
Lloyd represented one of the old families of the city, distinguished
by large possessions and college training, and he was the first of
his race to engage in trade. His wife came from a vastly different
stock, being the daughter of a shoe-manufacturer herself, and the
granddaughter of a cobbler who had tapped his neighbor's shoes in
his little shop in the L of his humble cottage house. Mrs. Norman
Lloyd was innocently unconscious of any reason for concealing the
fact, and was fond, when driving out to take the air in her fine
carriage, of pointing out to any stranger who happened to be with
her the house where her grandfather cobbled shoes and laid the
foundation of the family fortune. "That all came from that little
shop of my grandfather," she would say, pointing proudly at Lloyd's
great factory, which was not far from the old cottage. "Mr. Lloyd
didn't have much of anything when I married him, but I had
considerable, and Mr. Lloyd went into the factory, and he has been
blessed, and the property has increased until it has come to this."
Mrs. Lloyd's chief pride was in the very facts which others
deprecated. When she considered the many-windowed pile of Lloyd's,
and that her husband was the recognized head and authority over all
those throngs of grimy men, walking with the stoop of daily labor,
carrying their little dinner-boxes with mechanical clutches of
leather-tanned fingers, she used to send up a prayer for humility,
lest evil and downfall of pride come to her. She was a pious woman,
a member of the First Baptist Church, and active in charitable work.
Mrs. Norman Lloyd adored her husband, and her estimate of him was
almost ludicrously different from that of the grimy men who flocked
to his factory, she seeing a most kindly spirited and amiable man,
devoting himself to the best interests of his employés, and striving
ever for their benefit rather than his own, and the others seeing an
aristocrat by birth and training, who was in trade because of shrewd
business instincts and a longing for wealth and power, but who
despised, and felt himself wholly superior to, the means by which it
was acquired.

"We ain't anything but the rounds of the ladder for Norman Lloyd to
climb by, and he only sees and feels us with the soles of his
patent-leathers," one of the turbulent spirits in his factory said.
Mrs. Norman Lloyd would not have believed her ears had she heard
him.

Mrs. Lloyd had not sat long before Cynthia's fire that evening
before she opened on the subject of the lost child. "Oh, Cynthia,
have you heard--" she began, but Risley cut her short.

"About that little girl who ran away?" he said. "Yes, we have; we
were just talking about her."

"Did you ever hear anything like it?" said Mrs. Lloyd. "They say
they can't find out where she's been. She won't tell. Don't you
believe somebody has threatened her if she does?"

Cynthia raised herself and began to speak, but a slight, almost
imperceptible gesture from the man beside her stopped her.

"What did you say, Cynthia?"

"There is no accounting for children's freaks," said Risley, shortly
and harshly. Mrs. Lloyd was not thin-skinned; such a current of
exuberant cordiality emanated from her own nature that she was not
very susceptible to any counter-force. Now, however, she felt
vaguely and wonderingly, as a child might have done, that for some
reason Lyman Risley was rude to her, and she had a sense of
bewildered injury. Mrs. Lloyd was always, moreover, somewhat anxious
as to the relations between Cynthia and Lyman Risley. She heard a
deal of talk about it first and last; and while she had no word of
unkind comment herself, yet she felt at times uneasy. "Folks do talk
about Cynthia and Lyman Risley keeping company so long," she told
her husband; "it's as much as twenty years. It does seem as if they
ought to get married, don't you think so, Norman? Do you suppose it
is because the property was left that way--for you know Lyman hasn't
got anything besides what he earns--or do you suppose it is because
Cynthia doesn't want to marry him? I guess it is that. Cynthia never
seemed to me as if she would ever care enough about any man to marry
him. I guess that's it; but I do think she ought to stop his coming
there quite so much, especially when people know that about her
property."

Cynthia's property was hers on condition that her husband took her
name if she married, otherwise it was forfeited to her sister's
child. "Catch a Risley ever taking his wife's name!" said Mrs.
Lloyd. "Of course Cynthia would be willing to give up the money if
she loved him, but I don't believe she does. It seems as if Lyman
Risley ought to see it would be better for him not to go there so
much if they weren't going to be married."

So it happened when Risley caught up her question to Cynthia in that
peremptory fashion, Mrs. Lloyd felt in addition to the present cause
some which had gone before for her grievance. She addressed herself
thereafter entirely and pointedly to Cynthia. "Did you ever see that
little girl, Cynthia?" said she.

"Yes," replied Cynthia, in a voice so strange that the other woman
stared wonderingly at her.

"Ain't you feeling well, Cynthia?" she asked.

"Very well, thank you," said Cynthia.

"When did you see her?" asked Mrs. Lloyd. Cynthia opened her mouth
as if to speak, then she glanced at Risley, whose eyes held her, and
laughed instead--a strange, nervous laugh. Happily, Mrs. Lloyd did
not wait for her answer. She had her own important information to
impart. She had in reality stopped for that purpose. "Well, I have
seen her," she said. "I met her in front of Crosby's one day last
summer. And she was so sweet-looking I stopped and spoke to her--I
couldn't help it. She had beautiful eyes, and the softest light
curls, and she was dressed so pretty, and the flowers on her hat
were nice. The embroidery on her dress was very fine, too. Usually,
you know, those people don't care about the fineness, as long as it
is wide, and showy, and bright-colored. I asked her what her name
was, and she answered just as pretty, and her mother told me how old
she was. Her mother was a handsome woman, though she had an
up-and-coming kind of way with her. But she seemed real pleased to
have me notice the child. Where do you suppose she was all that
time, Cynthia?"

"She was in some safe place, undoubtedly," said Risley, and again
Mrs. Lloyd felt that she was snubbed, though not seeing how nor why,
and again she rebelled with that soft and gentle persistency in her
own course which was the only rebellion of which she was capable.

"Where do you suppose she was, Cynthia?" said she.

"I think some woman must have seen her, and coaxed her in and kept
her, she was such a pretty child," said Cynthia, defiantly and
desperately. But the other woman looked at her in wonder.

"Oh, Cynthia, I can't believe that," said she. "It don't seem as if
any woman could be so bad as that when the child's mother was in
such agony over her."  And then she added, "I can't believe it,
because it seems to me that if any woman was bad enough to do that,
she couldn't have given her up at all, she was such a beautiful
child."  Mrs. Norman Lloyd had no children of her own, and was given
to gazing with eyes of gentle envy at pretty, rosy little girls,
frilled with white embroidery like white pinks, dancing along in
leading hands of maternal love. "It don't seem to me I could ever
have given her up, if I had once been bad enough to steal her," she
said. "What put such an idea into your head, Cynthia?"

When the church-bell clanged out just then Lyman Risley had never
been so thankful in his life. Mrs. Lloyd rose promptly, for she had
to lead the meeting, that being the custom among the sisters in her
church. "Well," said she, "I am thankful she is found, anyway; I
couldn't have slept a wink that night if I had known she was lost,
the dear little thing. Good-night, Cynthia; don't come to the door.
Good-night, Mr. Risley. Come and see me, Cynthia--do, dear."

When Mrs. Norman Lloyd was gone, Risley looked at Cynthia with a
long breath of relief, but she turned to him with seemingly no
appreciation of it, and repeated her declaration which Mrs. Lloyd's
coming had interrupted: "Lyman, I am going there to-night--this
minute. Will you go with me? No, you must not go with me. I am
going!"  She sprang to her feet.

"Sit down, Cynthia," said Risley. "I tell you they were not harsh to
her. You don't seem to consider that they love the child--possibly
better than you can--and would not in the nature of things be harsh
to her under such circumstances. Sit down and hear the rest of it."

"But they will be harsh by-and-by, after the first joy of finding
her is over," said Cynthia. "I will go and tell them the first thing
in the morning, Lyman."

"You will do nothing so foolish. They are not only not insisting
upon her telling her secret, but announced to me their determination
not to do so in the future. I wish you could have seen that man's
face when he told me what a delicate, nervous little thing his child
was, and the doctor said she must not be fretted if she had taken a
notion not to tell; and I wish you could have seen the mother and
the aunt, and the grandmother, Mrs. Zelotes Brewster. They would all
give each other and themselves up to be torn of wild beasts first.
It is easy to see where the child got her extraordinary strength of
will. They took me out in the sitting-room, and there was a wild
flurry of feminine skirts before me. I had previously overheard
myself announced as Lawyer Risley by the aunt, and the response from
various voices that they were 'goin' if he was comin' out in the
sittin'-room.'  It always made them nervous to see lawyers. Well, I
followed the parents and the grandmother and the aunt out. I dared
not refuse when they suggested it, and I hoped desperately that the
child would not remember me from that one scared glance she gave at
me this morning. But there she sat in her little chair, holding the
doll you gave her, and she looked up at me when I entered, and I
have never in the whole course of my existence seen such an
expression upon the face of a child. Remember me? Indeed she did,
and she promised me with the faithfulest, stanchest eyes of a woman
set in a child's head that she would not tell; that I need not fear
for one minute; that the lady who had given her the doll was quite
safe. She knew, and she must have heard what I said to you this
morning. She is the most wonderful child I have ever seen."

Cynthia had sank back in her chair. Lyman Risley put his cigar back
between his lips; Cynthia was quite still, her delicate profile
towards him.

"I assure you there is not the slightest danger of their troubling
the child because of her silence, and you would do an exceedingly
foolish thing, and its consequences would react not upon yourself
only, but--upon others, were you to confess the truth to them," he
said after a little. "You must think of others--of your friends, and
of your sister's boy, whose loss led you into this. This
would--well, it would get into the papers, Cynthia."

"Do you think that the doll continued to please her?" asked Cynthia.

"Cynthia, I want you to promise," said her friend, persistently.

"Very well, I will promise, if you will promise to let me know the
minute you hear that they are treating her harshly because of her
silence."

Suddenly Cynthia turned her face upon him. "Lyman," said she, "do
you think that I could do anything for her--"

"Do anything for her?" he repeated, vaguely.

"Yes; they cannot have money. They must be poor: the father works in
the factory. Would they allow me--"

The lawyer laughed. "Cynthia," he said, "you do not realize that
pride finds its native element in all strata of society, and riches
are comparative. Let me inform you that these Brewsters, of whom
this child sprung, claim as high places in the synagogue as any of
your Lennoxes and Risleys, and, what is more, they believe
themselves there. They have seen the tops of their neighbors' heads
as often as you or I. The mere fact of familiarity with shoe-knives
and leather, and hand-skill instead of brain-skill, makes no
difference with such inherent confidence of importance as theirs.
The Louds, on the other side--the handsome aunt is a Loud--are
rather below caste, but they make up for it with defiance. And as
for riches, I would have you know that the Brewsters are as rich in
their own estimation as you in yours; that they have possessions
which entirely meet their needs and their æsthetic longings; that
not only does Andrew Brewster earn exceedingly good wages in the
shop, and is able to provide plenty of nourishing food and good
clothes, but even by-and-by, if he prospers and is prudent,
something rather extra in the way of education--perhaps a piano. I
would have you know that there is a Rogers group on a little
marble-topped table in the front window, and a table in the side
window with a worked spread, on which reposes a red plush photograph
album; that there is also a set of fine parlor furniture, with
various devices in the way of silken and lace scarfs over the
corners and backs of the chairs and sofa, and that there is a
tapestry carpet; that in the sitting-room is a fine crushed-plush
couch, and a multiplicity of rocking-chairs; that there is a
complete dining-set in the next room, the door of which stood open,
and even a side-board with red napkins, and a fine display of glass,
every whit as elegant in their estimation as your cut glass in
yours. The child's father owns his house and land free of
encumbrance. He told me so in the course of his artless boasting as
to what he might some day be able to do for the precious little
creature of his own flesh and blood; and the grandmother owns her
comfortable place next door, and she herself was dressed in black
silk, and I will swear the lace on her cap was real, and she wore a
great brooch containing hair of the departed, and it was set in
pearl. What are you going to do in the face of opulence like this,
Cynthia?"

Cynthia did not speak; her face looked as still as if it were carved
in ivory.

"Cynthia," said the man, in a harsh voice, "I did not dream you were
so broken up over losing that little boy of your sister's, poor
girl."

Cynthia still said nothing, but a tear rolled down her cheek. Lyman
Risley saw it, then he looked straight ahead, scowling over his
cigar. He seemed suddenly to realize in this woman whom he loved
something anomalous, yet lovely--a beauty, as it were, of deformity,
an over-development in one direction, though a direction of utter
grace and sweetness, like the lip of an orchid.

Why should she break her heart over a child whom she had never seen
before, and have no love and pity for the man who had laid his best
at her feet so long?

He saw at a flash the sweet yet monstrous imperfection of her, and
he loved her better for it.



Chapter IX


After Ellen's experience in running away, she dreamed her dreams
with a difference. The breath of human passion had stained the pure
crystal of her childish imagination; she peopled all her
air-castles, and sounds of wailing farewells floated from the White
North of her fancy after the procession of the evergreen trees in
the west yard, and the cherry-trees on the east had found out that
they were not in the Garden of Eden. In those days Ellen grew taller
and thinner, and the cherubic roundness of her face lengthened into
a sweet wistfulness of wonder and pleading, as of one who would look
farther, since she heard sounds and saw signs in her sky which
indicated more beyond. Andrew and Fanny watched her more anxiously
than ever, and decided not to send her to school before spring,
though all the neighbors exclaimed at their tardiness in so doing.
"She'll be two years back of my Hattie gettin' into the
high-school," said one woman, bluntly, to Fanny, who retorted,
angrily,

"I don't care if she's ten years behind, if she don't lose her
health."

"You wait and see if she's two years behind!" exclaimed Eva, who had
just returned from the shop, and had entered the room bringing a
fresh breath of December air, her cheeks glowing, her black eyes
shining.

Eva was so handsome in those days that she fairly forced admiration,
even from those of her own sex whose delicacy of taste she offended.
She had a parcel in her hand, which she had bought at a store on her
way home, for she was getting ready to be married to Jim Tenny. "I
tell you there don't nobody know what that young one can do,"
continued Eva, with a radiant nod of triumph. "There ain't many
grown-up folks round here that can read like her, and she's studied
geography, and she knows her multiplication-table, and she can spell
better than some that's been through the high-school. You jest wait
till Ellen gets started on her schoolin'--she won't stay in the
grammar-school long, I can tell you that. She'll go ahead of some
that's got a start now and think they're 'most there."  Eva pulled
off her hat, and the coarse black curls on her forehead sprang up
like released wire. She nodded emphatically with a good-humored
combativeness at the visiting woman and at her sister.

"I hope your cheeks are red enough," said Fanny, looking at her with
grateful admiration.

The visiting woman sniffed covertly, and a retort which seemed to
her exceedingly witty was loud in her own consciousness. "Them that
likes beets and pinies is welcome to them," she thought, but she did
not speak. "Well," said she, "folks must do as they think best about
their own children. I have always thought a good deal of an
education myself. I was brought up that way."  She looked with eyes
that were fairly cruel at Eva Loud and Fanny, who had been a Loud,
who had both stopped going to school at a very early age.

Then the rich red flamed over Eva's forehead and neck as well as her
cheeks. There was nothing covert about her, she would drag an
ambushed enemy forth into the open field even at the risk of
damaging disclosures regarding herself.

"Why don't you say jest what you mean, right out, Jennie Stebbins?"
she demanded. "You are hintin' that Fanny and me never had no
education, and twittin' us with it."

"It wa'n't our fault," said Fanny, no less angrily.

"No, it wa'n't our fault," assented Eva. "We had to quit school.
Folks can live with empty heads, but they can't with empty stomachs.
It had to be one or the other. If you want to twit us with bein'
poor, you can, Jennie Stebbins."

"I haven't said anything," said Mrs. Stebbins, with a scared and
injured air. "I'd like to know what you're making all this fuss
about? I don't know. What did I say?"

"If I'd said anything mean, I wouldn't turn tail an' run, I'd stick
to it about one minute and a half, if it killed me," said Eva,
scornfully.

"You know what you was hintin' at, jest as well as we do," said
Fanny; "but it ain't so true as you and some other folks may think,
I can tell you that. If Eva and me didn't go to school as long as
some, we have always read every chance we could get."

"That's so," said Eva, emphatically. "I guess we've read enough
sight more than some folks that has had a good deal more chance to
read. Fanny and me have taken books out of the library full as much
as any of the neighbors, I rather guess."

"We've read every single thing that Mrs. Southworth has ever
written," said Fanny, "and that's sayin' considerable."

"And all Pansy's and Rider Haggard's," declared Eva, with triumph.

"And every one of The Duchess and Marie Corelli, and Sir Walter
Scott, and George Macdonald, and Laura Jean Libbey, and Charles
Reade, and more, besides, than I can think of."

"Fanny has read 'most all Tennyson," said Eva, with loyal
admiration; "she likes poetry, but I don't very well. She has read
most all Tennyson and Longfellow, and we've both read _Queechee_,
and _St. Elmo_, and _Jane Eyre_."

"And we've read the Bible through," said Fanny, "because we read in
a paper once that that was a complete education. We made up our
minds we'd read it through, and we did, though it took us quite a
while."

"And we take _Zion's Herald_, and _The Rowe Gazette_, and _The
Youth's Companion_," said Eva.

"And we've both of us learned Ellen geography and spellin' and
'rithmetic, till we know most as much as she does," said Fanny.

"That's so," said Fanny. "I snum, I believe I could get into the
high-school myself, if I wasn't goin' to git married," said Eva,
with a gay laugh. She was so happy in those days that her power of
continued resentment was small. The tide of her own bliss returned
upon her full consciousness and overflowed, and crested, as with
glory, all petty annoyances.

The visiting woman took up her work, and rose to go with a slightly
abashed air, though her small brown eyes were still blanks of
impregnable defence. "Well, I dunno what I've said to stir you both
so," she remarked again. "If I've said anythin' that riled you, I'm
sorry, I'm sure. As I said before, folks must do as they are a mind
to with their own children. If they see fit to keep 'em home from
school until they're women grown, and if they think it's best not to
punish 'em when they run away, why they must. I 'ain't got no right
to say anythin', and I 'ain't."

"You--" began Fanny, and then she stopped short, and Eva began
arranging her hair before the glass. "The wind blew so comin' home,"
she said, "that my hair is all out."  The visiting woman stared with
a motion of adjustive bewilderment, as one might before a sudden
change of wind, then she looked, as a shadowy motion disturbed the
even light of the room and little Ellen passed the window. She knew
at once, for she had heard the gossip, that the ready tongues of
recrimination were hushed because of the child, and then Ellen
entered.

The winter afternoon was waning and the light was low; the child's
face, with its clear fairness, seemed to gleam out in the room like
a lamp with a pale luminosity of its own.

The three women, the mother, and aunt, and the visiting neighbor,
all looked at her, and Ellen smiled up at them as innocently sweet
as a flower. There was that in Ellen's smile and regard at that time
which no woman could resist. Suddenly the visiting neighbor laid a
finger softly under her chin and tilted up her little face towards
the light. Then she said with that unconscious poetry of bereavement
which sees a likeness in all fair things of earth to the face of the
lost treasure, "I do believe she looks like my first little girl
that died."

After the visiting woman had gone, Fanny and Eva calling after her
to come again, they looked at each other, then at Ellen. "That
little girl that died favored the Stebbinses, and was dark as an
Injun," said Fanny, "no more like Ellen--"

"That's so," acquiesced Eva; "I remember that young one. Lookin'
like Ellen--I'd like to see the child that did look like her; there
ain't none round these parts. I wish you could have seen folks stare
at her when I took her down street yesterday. One woman said, 'Ain't
she pretty as a picture,' so loud I heard it, but Ellen didn't seem
to."

"Sometimes I wonder if we'll make her proud," Fanny said, in a
hushed voice, with a look of admiration that savored of worship
at Ellen.

"She don't ever seem to notice," said Eva, with a hushed response.
Indeed, Ellen had seemed to pay no attention whatever to
their remarks, whether from an innate humility and lack of
self-consciousness, or because she was so accustomed to adulation
that it had become as the breath of her nostrils, to be taken no
more account of. She had seated herself in her favorite place in a
rocking-chair at a west window, with her chin resting on the sill,
and her eyes staring into the great out-of-doors, full of winds and
skies and trees and her own imaginings.

She would sit so, motionless, for hours at a time, and sometimes her
mother would rouse her almost roughly. "What be you thinkin' about,
settin' there so still?" she would ask, with eyes of vague anxiety
fixed upon her, but Ellen could never answer.

Though it was getting late, it did not seem dark as early as usual,
since there was a full moon and there was snow on the ground which
gave forth a pale light in a wide surface of reflection. However,
the moon was behind clouds, for it was beginning to snow again quite
heavily, and the white flakes drove in whirlwinds past the
street-lamp on the corner of the street. Now and then a tramping and
muffled figure came into the radius of light, then passed into the
white gloom beyond.

Fanny was preparing supper, and the light from the dining-room shone
in where Ellen sat, but the sitting-room was not lighted. Ellen
began to smell the fragrance of tea and toast, and there was a
reflection of the dining-room table and lamp outside pictured
vividly against the white sheet of storm.

Ellen knew better, but it amused her to think that her home was
out-of-doors as well as under her father's and mother's roof. Eva
passed her with her hands full of kindlings. She was going to make a
fire in the parlor-stove, for Jim Tenny was coming that evening. She
laid a tender hand on Ellen's head as she passed, and smoothed her
hair. Ellen had a sort of acquiescent wonder over her aunt Eva in
those days. She heard people say Eva was getting ready to be
married, and speculated. "What is getting ready to be married?" she
asked Eva.

"Why, getting your clothes made, you little ninny," Eva answered.

The next day Ellen had watched her mother at work upon a new little
frock for herself for some time before she spoke.

"Mother," she said.

"Yes, child."

"Mother, you are making that new dress for me, ain't you?"

"Of course I am; why?"

"And you made me a new coat last week?"

"Why, you know I did, Ellen; what do you mean?"

"And you are going to make me a petticoat and put that pretty lace
on it?"

"You know I am, Ellen Brewster, what be you drivin' at?"

"Be I a-gettin' ready to be married, mother?" asked Ellen, with the
strangest look of wonder and awe and anticipation.

Fanny had told this saying of the child's to everybody, and that
evening when Jim Tenny came he caught up Ellen and gave her a toss
to the ceiling, a trick of his which filled Ellen with a sort of
fearful delight, the delight of helplessness in the hands of
strength, and the titillation of evanescent risk.

"So you are gettin' ready to be married, are you?" Jim Tenny said,
with a great laugh, looking at her soberly, with big black eyes. Jim
Tenny was a handsome fellow, and much larger and stronger than her
father. Ellen liked him; he often brought candies in his pocket for
her, and they were great friends, but she could never understand why
he stayed in the parlor all alone with her aunt Eva, instead of in
the sitting-room with the others.

Ellen had looked back at him as soberly. "Mother says I 'ain't," she
replied, "but--"

"But what?"

"I am getting most as many new clothes as Aunt Eva, and she is."

"And you think maybe you are gettin' ready to be married, after all,
hey?"

"I think maybe mother wants to surprise me," Ellen said.

Jim Tenny had all of a sudden shaken convulsively as if with mirth,
but his face remained perfectly sober.

That evening after the parlor door was closed upon Jim and Eva,
Ellen wondered what they were laughing at.

To-night when she saw Eva enter the room, a lighted lamp
illuminating her face fairly reckless with happiness, to light the
fire in the courting-stove as her sister facetiously called it, she
thought to herself that Jim Tenny was coming, that they would be
shut up in there all alone as usual, and then she looked out at the
storm and the night again, and the little home picture thrown
against it. Then she saw her father coming into the yard with his
arms full of parcels, and she was out of her chair and at the
kitchen door to meet him.

Andrew had brought as usual some dainties for his darling. He
watched Ellen unwrap the various parcels, not smiling as usual, but
with a curious knitting of his forehead and pitiful compression of
mouth. When she had finished and ran into the other room to show a
great orange to her aunt, he drew a heavy sigh that was almost a
groan. His wife coming in from the kitchen with a dish heard him,
and looked at him with quick anxiety, though she spoke in a merry,
rallying way.

"For the land sake, Andrew Brewster, what be you groanin' that way
for?" she cried out.

Andrew's tense face did not relax; he strove to push past her
without a word, but Fanny stood before him. "Now, look at here,
Andrew," said she, "you 'ain't goin' to walk off with a face like
that, unless I know what the matter is. Are you sick?"

"No, I ain't sick, Fanny," Andrew said; then in a low voice, "Let me
go, I will tell you by-and-by."

"No, Andrew, you have got to tell me now. I'm goin' to know whatever
has happened."

"Wait till after supper, Fanny."

"No, I can't wait. Look here, Andrew, you are my husband, and there
ain't no trouble that can come to you in this world that I can't
bear, except not knowin'. You've got to tell me what the matter is."

"Well, keep quiet till after supper, then," said Andrew. Then
suddenly he leaned his face close to her and whispered with a hiss
of tragedy, "Lloyd's shut down."

Fanny recoiled and looked at him.

"When?"

"The foreman gave notice to-night."

"For how long? Did he say?"

"Oh, till business got better--same old story. Unless I'm mistaken,
Lloyd's will be shut down all winter."

"Well, it ain't so bad for us as for some," said Fanny. Both pride
and a wish to cheer her husband induced her to say that. She did not
like to think that, after the fine marriage she had made, she needed
to be as distressed at a temporary loss of employment as others.
Then, too, that look of overhanging melancholy in Andrew's face
alarmed her; she felt that she must drive it away at any cost.

"Seems to me it's bad enough for anybody," said Andrew, morosely.

"Now, Andrew, you know it ain't. Here we own the house clear, and
we've got that money in the savings-bank, and all that's your
mother's is yours in the end. Of course we ain't always thinkin' of
that, and I'm sure I hope she'll outlive me, but it's so. You know
we sha'n't starve if you don't have work."

"We shall starve in the end, and you know I've been--"  Andrew
stopped suddenly as he heard Ellen and his sister-in-law coming. He
shook his head at his wife with a warning motion that she should
keep silence.

"Don't Eva know?" she whispered.

"No, she came out early. Do for Heaven's sake keep quiet till after
supper."

Eva was sharp-eyed, and all through supper she watched Andrew, and
the lines of melancholy on his face, which did not disappear even
when he forced conversation.

"What in creation ails you, Andrew?" she burst out, finally. "You
look like a walking funeral."

Andrew made no reply, and Fanny volunteered an answer. "He's all
tired out," she said; "he's got a little cold. Eat some more of the
stew, Andrew; it'll do you good, it's nice and hot."

"You can't cheat me," said Eva. "There's something to pay."  She
took a mouthful, then she stared at Andrew, with a sudden pallor.
"It ain't anythin' about Jim, is it?" she gasped out. "Because if it
is, there's no use in your waitin' to tell me, you might as well
have it over at once. You won't make it any easier for me, I can
tell you that."

"No, it ain't anything about Jim, in the way you mean, Eva," her
sister said, soothingly. "Eat your supper and don't worry."

"What do you mean by that? Jim ain't sick?"

"No, I tell you; don't be a goose, Eva."

"He ain't been anywhere with--"

"Do keep still, Eva!" Fanny cried, impatiently. "If I didn't have
any more faith than that in a man, I'd give him up. I don't think
you're fair to Jim. Of course he ain't been with that girl, when
he's goin' to marry you next month."

"I'm just as fair to Jim as he deserves," Eva said, simply. "I think
just as much of him, but what a man's done once he may do again, and
I can't help it if I think of it, and he shouldn't be surprised.
He's brought it on himself. I've got as much faith in him as anybody
can have, seein' as he's a man. Well, if it ain't that, Andrew
Brewster, what is it?"

"Now, you let him alone till after supper, Eva," Fanny said. "Do let
him have a little peace."

"Well, I'll get it out of him afterwards," Eva said.

As soon as she got up from the table she pushed him into the
sitting-room. "Now, out with it," said she. Ellen, who had followed
them, stood looking at them both, her lips parted, her eyes full of
half-alarmed curiosity.

"Lloyd's has shut down, if you want to know," Andrew said, shortly.

"Oh my God!" cried Eva. Andrew shrank from her impatiently. She made
that ejaculation because she was a Loud, and had an off-streak in
her blood. Not one of Andrew's pure New England stock would have so
expressed herself. He sat down beside the lamp and took up the
evening paper. Eva stood looking at him a minute. She was quite
pale, she was weighing consequences. Then she went out to her
sister. "Well, you know what's happened, Fan, I s'pose," she said.

"Yes, I'm awful sorry, but I tell Andrew it ain't so bad for us as
for some; we sha'n't starve."

"I don't know as I care much whether I starve or not," said Eva.
"It's goin' to make me put off my weddin'; and if I do put it off,
Jim and me will never get married at all; I feel it in my bones."

"Why, what should you have to put it off for?" asked Fanny.

"Why? I should think you'd know why without askin'. Ain't I spent
every dollar I have saved up on my weddin' fixin's, and Jim, he's
got his mother on his hands, and she's been sick, and he ain't saved
up anything. If you s'pose I'm goin' to marry him and make him any
worse off than he is now you're mistaken."

"Well, mebbe Jim can work somewhere else, and mebbe Lloyd's won't be
shut up long," Fanny said, consolingly. "I wouldn't give up so, if I
was you."

"I might jest as well," Eva returned. "It's no use, Jim and me will
never get married."  Eva's face was curiously set; she was not in
the least loud nor violent as was usually the case when she was in
trouble, her voice was quite low, and she spoke slowly.

Fanny looked anxiously at her. "It ain't as though you hadn't a roof
to cover you," she said, "for you've got mine and Andrew's as long
as we have one ourselves."

"Do you think I'd live on Andrew long?" demanded Eva.

"You won't have to. Jim will get work in a week or two, and you'll
get married. Don't act so. I declare, I'm ashamed of you, Eva Loud.
I thought you had more sense, to give up discouraged at no more than
this. I don't see why you jump way ahead into trouble before you get
to it."

"I've got to it, and I can feel the steam of it in my face," Eva
said, with unconscious imagery. Then she lit a lamp, and went
up-stairs to change her dress before Jim Tenny arrived.

It was snowing hard. Ellen sat in her place by the window and
watched the flakes drive past the radiance of the street-lamp on the
corner, and past the reflection of the warm, bright room. Now she
could see, since the light was in the room where she sat, her father
beside the table reading his paper, and shadowy images of all the
familiar things projecting themselves like a mirage of home into the
night and storm. Ellen could see, even without turning round, that
her father looked very sober, and did not seem to be much interested
in his paper, and a vague sense of calamity oppressed her. She did
not know just what might be involved in Lloyd's shutting down, but
she saw that her father and aunt were disturbed, and her imaginings
were half eclipsed by a shadow of material things. Ellen dearly
loved this early evening hour when she could stare out into the
mystery of the night, herself sheltered under the wing of home, and
the fancies which her childish brain wove were as a garment of
spirit for the future; but to-night she did not dream so much as she
wondered and reflected. Pretty soon Ellen saw a man's figure
plodding through the fast-gathering snow, and heard her aunt Eva
make a soft, heavy rush down the front stairs, and she knew the man
was Jim Tenny, and her aunt had been watching for him. Ellen
wondered why she had watched up in her cold room, why she had not
sat down-stairs where it was warm, and let Jim ring the door-bell.
Ellen liked Jim Tenny, but there was often that in her aunt's eyes
regarding him which made Ellen look past him and above him to see if
there was another man there. Ellen heard the fire crackling in the
parlor-stove, and saw the light shining under the parlor threshold,
and heard the soft hum of voices. Her mother, having finished
washing up the supper dishes, came in presently and seated herself
beside the lamp with her needle-work.

"You don't feel any wind comin' in the window?" she said, anxiously,
to Ellen.

"No, ma'am," replied Ellen.

Andrew looked up quickly. "You're sure you don't?" he said.

"No, sir."

Ellen watched her mother sewing out in the snowy yard, then a dark
shadow came between the reflection and the window, then another. Two
men treading in the snow in even file, one in the other's
foot-tracks, came into the yard.

"Somebody's comin'," said Ellen, as a knock, came on the side door.

"Did you see who 'twas?" Fanny asked, starting up.

"Two men."

"It's somebody to see you, Andrew," Fanny said, and Andrew tossed
his paper on the table and went to the door.

When the door was opened Ellen heard a man cough.

"I should think anybody was crazy to come out such a night as this,
coughin' that way," murmured Fanny. "I do believe it's Joe Atkins;
sounds like his cough."  Then Andrew entered with the two men
stamping and shaking themselves.

"Here's Joseph Atkins and Nahum Beals," Andrew said, in his
melancholy voice, all unstirred by the usual warmth of greeting. The
two men bowed stiffly.

"Good-evenin'," Fanny said, and rose and pushed forward the
rocking-chair in which she had been seated to Joseph Atkins, who was
a consumptive man with an invalid wife, and worked next Andrew in
Lloyd's.

"Keep your settin', keep your settin'," he returned in his quick,
nervous way, as if his very words were money for dire need, and sat
himself down in a straight chair far from the fire. The other man,
Nahum Beals, was very young. He seated himself next to Joseph, and
the two side by side looked with gloomy significance at Andrew and
Fanny. Then Joseph Atkins burst out suddenly in a rattling volley of
coughs.

"You hadn't ought to come out such a night as this, I'm afraid, Mr.
Atkins," said Fanny.

"He's been out jest as bad weather as this all winter," said the
young man, Nahum Beals, in an unexpectedly deep voice. "The workers
of this world can't afford to take no account of weather. It's for
the rich folks to look out betwixt their lace curtains and see if it
looks lowery, so they sha'n't git their gold harnesses and their
shiny carriages, an' their silks an' velvets an' ostrich feathers
wet. The poor folks that it's life and death to have to go out
whether or no, no matter if they've got an extra suit of clothes or
not. They've got to go out through the drenchin' rain and the
snow-drifts, to earn money so that the rich folks can have them
gold-plated harnesses and them silks and velvets. Joe's been out all
winter in weather as bad as this, after he's been standin' all day
in a shop as hot as hell, drenched with sweat. One more time won't
make much difference."

"It would be 'nough sight better for me if it did," said Joseph
Atkins, chokingly, and still with that same seeming of hurry.

Fanny had gone out to the dining-room, and now she returned stirring
some whiskey and molasses in a cup.

"Here," said she, "you take this, Mr. Atkins; it's real good for a
cough. Andrew cured a cold with it last month."

"Mine ain't a cold, and it can't be cured in this world, but it's
better for me, I guess," said Joe Atkins, chokingly, but he took the
cup.

"Now, you hadn't ought to talk so," Fanny said. "You had ought to
think of your wife and children."

"My life is insured," said Joseph Atkins.

"We ain't got no money and no jewelry, and no silver to leave them
we love--all we've got to leave 'em is the price of our own lives,"
said Nahum Beals.

"I wish I had got my life insured," Andrew said.

"Don't talk so, Andrew," Fanny cried, with a shudder.

"My life is insured for two thousand dollars," Joe Atkins said, with
an odd sort of pride. "I had it done three years ago. My lungs was
sound as anybody's then, but that very next summer I worked up under
that tin roof, and came out as wet as if I'd been dipped in the
river, into an east wind, and got a chill. It was the only time I
ever struck luck--to get insured before that happened. Nobody'd look
at me now, and I dunno what they'd do. I 'ain't laid up a cent, I've
had so much sickness in my family."

"If you hadn't worked that summer in the annex under that tin roof,
you'd be as well as you ever was now," said Nahum Beals.

"I worked there 'longside of you that summer," said Andrew to Joe,
with bitter reminiscence. "We used to strip like a gang of convicts,
and we stood in pools of sweat. It was that awful hot summer, and
the room had only that one row of windows facing the east, and the
wind never that way."

"Not till I came out of the shop that night I took the chill," said
Joe.

Suddenly the young man, Nahum Beals, hit his knees a sounding slap,
which made Ellen, furtively and timidly attentive at her window,
jump. "It seems sometimes as if the Almighty himself was in league
with 'em," he shouted out, "but I tell you it won't last, it won't
last."

"I don't see much sign of any change for the better," Andrew said,
gloomily.

"I tell you, sir, it won't last," repeated Nahum Beals. "I tell you,
the Lord only raises 'em up higher and higher that He may dash 'em
lower when the time comes. The same earth is beneath the high places
of this life, and the lowly ones, and the law that governs 'em is
the same, and--the higher the place the longer the fall, and the
longer the fall the sorer the hurt."  Nahum Beals sprang to his feet
with a strange abandon of self-consciousness and a fiery impetus for
one of his New England blood. He had a delicate, nervous face, like
a woman's, his blue eyes gleamed like blue flames under his overhang
of white forehead, he shook his head as if it were maned like a
lion, and, though he wore his thin, fair hair short, one could seem
to see it flung back in glistening lines. He spread his hands as if
he were addressing an audience, and as he did so the parlor door
opened and Jim Tenny and Eva stood there, listening.

"I tell you, sir," shouted Nahum Beals, "the time will come when you
will all thank God that you belong to the poor and down-trodden of
this earth, and not to the rich and great--the time will come.
There's knives to sharpen to-day, and wood for scaffolds as plenty
as in the days of the French Revolution, and the hand that marks the
time of day on the clock of men's patience with wrong and oppression
has near gone round to the same hour and minute."

Andrew Brewster looked at him, with a curious expression half of
disgust, half of sympathy. His sense of dignity in the face of
adversity inherited from his New England race was shocked; he was
not one to be blindly swayed by another's fervor even when his own
wrongs were in question. He would not have made a good follower in a
revolution, nor a leader. He would simply have found his own place
of fixed principle and abided there. Then, too, he had a judicial
mind which could combine the elements of counsels for and against
his own cause.

"Now, look at here," he said, slowly, "I ain't goin' to say I don't
think we ain't in a hard place, and that there's somethin' wrong
that's to blame for it, but I dunno but you go most too far, Nahum;
or, rather, I dunno as you go far enough. I dunno but we've got to
dig down past the poor and the rich, farther into the everlastin'
foundations of things to get at what's the trouble."

Jim Tenny, standing in the parlor doorway, with an arm around Eva's
waist, broke in suddenly with a defiant laugh. "I don't care nothin'
about the everlastin' foundations of things, and I don't care a darn
about the rich and the poor," he proclaimed. "I'm willin' to leave
that to lecturers and dynamiters, and let 'em settle it if they can.
I don't grudge the rich nothin', and I ain't goin' to call the
Almighty to account for givin' somebody else the biggest piece of
pie; mebbe it would give me the stomach-ache. All I'm concerned
about is Lloyd's shut-down."

"That's so," said Eva.

"I tell you, sir, it ain't the facts of the case, but the reason for
the facts, which we must think of," maintained Nahum Beals.

"I don't care a darn for the facts nor the reasons," said Jim Tenny;
"all I care about is I'm out of work maybe till spring, with my
mother dependent on me, and not a cent laid up, I've been so darned
careless, and here's Eva says she won't marry me till I get work."

"I won't," said Eva, who was very pale, except for burning spots on
her cheeks.

"She's afraid she won't get frostin' on her cake, and silk dresses,
I expect," Jim Tenny said, and laughed, but his laugh was very
bitter.

"Jim Tenny, you know better than that," Eva cried, sharply. "I won't
stand that."

Jim Tenny, with a quick motion, unwound his arm from Eva's waist and
stripped up his sleeve. "There, look at that, will you," he cried
out, shaking his lean, muscular arm at them; "look at that muscle,
and me tellin' her that I could earn a livin' for her, and she
afraid. I can dig if I can't make shoes. I guess there's work in
this world for them that's willin', and don't pick and choose."

"There ain't," declared Nahum, shortly.

"You can't dig when the ground's froze hard," Eva said, with literal
meaning.

"Then I'll take a pickaxe," cried Jim.

"You can dig, but who's goin' to pay you for the diggin'?" demanded
Nahum Beals.

"The idea of a girl's bein' afraid I wa'n't enough of a man to
support a wife with an arm like that," said Jim Tenny, "as if I
couldn't dig for her, or fight for her."

"The fightin' has got to come first in order to get the diggin', and
the pay for it," said Nahum.

"Now, look at here," Andrew Brewster broke in, "you know I'm in as
bad a box as you, and I come home to-night feelin' as if I didn't
care whether I lived or died; but if it's true what McGrath said
to-night, we've got to use common-sense in lookin' at things even if
it goes against us. If what McGrath said was true, that Lloyd's
losing money keeping on, I dunno how we can expect him or any other
man to do that."

"Why not he lose money as well as we?" demanded Nahum, fiercely.

"'Cause we 'ain't got none to lose," cried Jim Tenny, with a hard
laugh, and Eva and Fanny echoed him hysterically.

Nahum took no notice of the interruption. Tragedy, to his
comprehension, never verged on comedy. One could imagine his face of
intense melancholy and denunciation relaxed with laughter no more
than that of the stern prophet of righteous retribution whose name
he bore.

"Why shouldn't Norman Lloyd lose money?" he demanded again. "Why
shouldn't he lose his fine house as well as I my poor little home?
Why shouldn't he lose his purple and fine linen as well as Jim his
chances of happiness? Why shouldn't he lose his diamond shirt-studs,
and his carriage and horses, as well as Joe his life?"

"Well, he earned his money, I suppose," Andrew said, slowly, "and I
suppose it's for him to say what he'll do with it."

"Earned his money? He didn't earn his money," cried Nahum Beals. "We
earned it, every dollar of it, by the sweat of our brows, and it's
for us, not him, to say what shall be done with it. Well, the time
will come, I tell ye, the time will come."

"We sha'n't see it," said Joe Atkins.

"It may come sooner than you think," said Nahum. Then Nahum Beals,
with a sudden access of bitterness, broke in. "Look at Norman
Lloyd," he cried, "havin' that great house, and horses and
carriages, and dressin' like a dude, and his wife rustlin' in silks
so you can hear her comin' a mile off, and shinin' like a jeweller's
window--look at 'em all--all the factory bosses--livin' like princes
on the money we've earned for 'em; and look at their relations, and
look at the rich folks that ain't never earned a cent, that's had
money left 'em. Go right up and down the Main Street, here in this
city. See the Lloyds and the Maguires and the Marshalls and the
Risleys and the Lennoxes--"

"There ain't none of the Lennoxes left except that one woman," said
Andrew.

"Well, look at her. There she is without chick or child, rollin' in
riches, and Norman Lloyd's her own brother-in-law. Why don't she
give him a little money to run the factory this winter, so you and
me won't have to lose everythin'?"

"I suppose she's got a right to do as she pleases with her own,"
said Andrew.

"I tell you she ain't," shouted Nahum. "She ain't the one to say,
'It's the Lord, and He's said it.'  Cynthia Lennox and all the women
like her are the oppressors of the poor. They are accursed in the
sight of the Lord, as were those women we read about in the Old
Testament, with their mantles and crisping-pins. Their low voices
and their silk sweeps and their shrinkin' from touchin' shoulders
with their fellow-beings in a crowd don't alter matters a mite."

"Now, Nahum," cried Jim Tenny, with one of his sudden turns of base
when his sense of humor was touched, "you don't mean to say that you
want Cynthia Lennox to give you her money?"

"I'd die, and see her dead, before I'd touch a dollar of her money!"
cried Nahum--"before I'd touch a dollar of her money or anything
that was bought with her money, her money or any other rich
person's. I want what I earn. I don't want a gift with a curse on
it. Let her keep her fine things. She and her kind are responsible
for all the misery of the poor on the face of the earth."

"Seems to me you're reasonin' in a circle, Nahum," Andrew said,
good-humoredly.

"Look here, Andrew, if you're on the side of the rich, why don't you
say so?" cried Eva.

"He ain't," returned Fanny--"you know better, Eva Loud."

"No, I ain't," declared Andrew. "You all of you know I'm with the
class I belong to; I ain't a toady to no rich folks; I don't think
no more of 'em than you do, and I don't want any favors of 'em--all
I want is pay for my honest work, and that's an even swap, and I
ain't beholden, but I want to look at things fair and square. I
don't want to be carried away because I'm out of work, though, God
knows, it's hard enough."

"I don't know what's goin' to become of us," said Joseph
Atkins--then he coughed.

"I don't," Jim Tenny said, bitterly.

"And God knows I don't," cried Eva, and she sat down in the nearest
chair, flung up her hands before her face, and wept.

Then Fanny spoke to Ellen, who had been sitting very still and
attentive, her eyes growing larger, her cheeks redder with
excitement. Fanny had often glanced uneasily at her, and wished to
send her to bed, but she was in the habit of warming Ellen's little
chamber at the head of the stairs by leaving open the sitting-room
door for a while before she went to it, and she was afraid of
cooling the room too much for Joseph Atkins, and had not ventured to
interrupt the conversation. Now, seeing the child's fevered face,
she made up her mind. "Come, Ellen, it's your bed-time," she said,
and Ellen rose reluctantly, and, kissing her father, she went to her
aunt Eva, who caught at her convulsively and kissed her, and sobbed
against her cheek. "Oh, oh!" she wailed, "you precious little thing,
you precious little thing, I don't know what's goin' to become of us
all."

"Don't, Eva," said Fanny, sharply; "can't you see she's all wrought
up? She hadn't ought to have heard all this talk."

Andrew looked anxiously at his wife, rose, and caught up Ellen in
his arms with a hug of fervent and protective love. "Don't you
worry, father's darlin'," he whispered. "Don't you worry about
anythin' you have heard. Father will always have enough to take care
of you with."

Jim Tenny, when Andrew set the child down, caught her up again with
a sounding kiss. "Don't you let your big ears ache, you little
pitcher," said he, with a gay laugh. "Little doll-babies like you
haven't anythin' to worry about if Lloyd's shut down every day in
the year."

"They're the very ones whom it concerns," said Nahum Beals, when
Ellen and her mother had gone up-stairs.

"Well, I wouldn't have had that little nervous thing hear all this,
if I'd thought," Andrew said, anxiously.

Joseph Atkins, whom Fanny had stationed in a sheltered corner near
the stove when she opened the door, peered around at Andrew.

"Seems as if she was too young to get much sense of it," he
remarked. "My Maria, that's her age, wouldn't."

"Ellen hears everything and makes her own sense of it," said Andrew,
"and the Lord only knows what she's made of this. I hope she won't
fret over it."

"I wish my tongue had been cut off before I said anything before
her," cried Eva. "I know just what that child is. She'll find out
what a hard world she's in soon enough, anyway, and I don't want to
be the one to open her eyes ahead of time."

Ellen went to bed quietly, and her mother did not think she had paid
much attention to what had been going on, and said so when she went
down-stairs after Ellen had been kissed and tucked in bed and the
lamp put out. "I guess she didn't mind much about it, after all,"
she said to Andrew. "I guess the room was pretty warm, and that was
what made her cheeks so red."

But Ellen, after her mother left her, turned her little head towards
the wall and wept softly, lest some one hear her, but none the less
bitterly that she had no right conception of the cause of her grief.
There was over her childish soul the awful shadow of the labor and
poverty of the world. She knew naught of the substance behind the
shadow, but the darkness terrified her all the more, and she cried
and cried as if her heart would break. Then she, with a sudden
resolution, born she could not have told of what strange
understanding and misunderstanding of what she had heard that
evening, slipped out of bed, groped about until she found her
cherished doll, sitting in her little chair in the corner. She was
accustomed to take the doll to bed with her, and had undressed her
for that purpose early in the evening, but she had climbed into bed
and left her sitting in the corner.

"Don't you want your dolly?" her mother had asked.

"No, ma'am; I guess I don't want her to-night," Ellen had replied,
with a little break in her voice. Now, when she reached the doll,
she gathered her up in her little arms, and groped her way with her
into the closet. She hugged the doll, and kissed her wildly, then
she shook her. "You have been naughty," she whispered--"yes, you
have, dreadful naughty. No, don't you talk to me; you have been
naughty. What right had you to be livin' with rich folks, and
wearin' such fine things, when other children don't have anything.
What right had that little boy that was your mother before I was,
and that rich lady that gave you to me? They had ought to be put in
the closet, too. God had ought to put them all in the closet, the
way I'm goin' to put you. Don't you say a word; you needn't cry;
you've been dreadful naughty."

Ellen set the doll, face to the wall, in the corner of the closet,
and left her there. Then she crept back into bed, and lay there
crying over her precious baby shivering in her thin night-gown all
alone in the dark closet. But she was firm in keeping her there,
since, with that strange, involuntary grasp of symbolism which has
always been maintained by the baby-fingers of humanity for the
satisfying of needs beyond resources and the solving of problems
outside knowledge, she had a conviction that she was, in such
fashion, righting wrong and punishing evil. But she wept over the
poor doll until she fell asleep.



Chapter X


When Ellen woke the next morning she had a curious feeling, as if
she were blinded by the glare of many hitherto unsuspected windows
opening into the greatness outside the little world, just large
enough to contain them, in which she had dwelt all her life with her
parents, her aunt, her grandmother, and her doll. She tried to
adjust herself to her old point of view with her simple childish
recognition of the most primitive facts as a basis for dreams, but
she remembered what Mr. Atkins, who coughed so dreadfully, had said
the night before; she remembered what the young man with the bulging
forehead, who frightened her terribly, had said; she remembered the
gloomy look in her father's face, the misery in her aunt Eva's; and
she remembered her doll in the closet--and either everything was
different or had a different light upon it. In reality Ellen's
evening in the sound and sight of that current of rebellion against
the odds of life which has taken the poor off their foot hold of
understanding since the beginning of the world had aged her. She had
lost something out of her childhood. She dreaded to go down-stairs;
she had a feeling of shamefacedness struggling within her; she was
afraid that her father and mother would look at her sharply, then
look again, and ask her what the matter was, and she would not know
what to say. When she went down, and backed about for her mother to
fasten her little frock as was her wont, she was careful to keep her
face turned away; but Fanny caught her up and kissed her in her
usual way, and then her aunt Eva sung out to know if she wanted to
go on a sleigh-ride, and had she seen the snow; and then her father
came in and that look of last night had gone from his face, and
Ellen was her old self again until she was alone by herself and
remembered.

Fanny and Andrew and Eva had agreed to say nothing before the child
about the shutting-up of Lloyd's, and their troubles in consequence.
"She heard too much last night," Andrew said; "there's no use in her
botherin' her little head with it. I guess that baby won't suffer."

"She's jest the child to fret herself most to pieces thinkin' we
were awful poor, and she would starve or somethin'," Fanny said.

"Well, she sha'n't be worried if I can help it, no matter what
happens to me," Eva said.

After breakfast that morning Eva went to work on a little dress of
Ellen's. When Fanny told her not to spend her time over that, when
she had so much sewing of her own to do, Eva replied with a gay,
hard laugh, that she guessed she'd wait and finish her weddin'-fix
when she was goin' to be married.

"Eva Loud, you ain't goin' to be so silly as to put off your
weddin'," Fanny cried out.

"I dunno as I've put it off; I dunno as I want to get married,
anyhow," Eva said, still laughing. "I dunno, but I'd rather be old
maid aunt to Ellen."

"Eva Loud," cried her sister; "do you know what you are doin'?"

"Pretty well, I reckon," said Eva.

"Do you know that if you put off Jim Tenny, and he not likin' it,
ten chances to one Aggie Bemis will get hold of him again?"

"Well," said Eva, "let her. I won't have been the one to drag him
into misery, anyhow."

"Well, if you can feel that way," Fanny returned, looking at her
sister with a sort of mixed admiration and pity.

"I can. I tell you what 'tis, Fanny. When I look at Jim, handsome
and head up in the air, and think how he'd look all bowed down, hair
turnin' gray, and not carin' whether he's shaved and has on a clean
shirt or not, 'cause he's got loaded down with debt, and the
grocery-man and the butcher after him, and no work, and me and the
children draggin' him down, I can bear anything. If another girl
wants to do it, she must, though I'd like to kill her when I think
of it. I can't do it, because--I think too much of him."

"He might lose his work after he was married, you know."

"Well, I suppose we'd have to run the risk of that; but I'm goin' to
start fair or not at all."

"Well, maybe he'll get work," Fanny said.

"He won't," said Eva. She began to sing "Nancy Lee" over Ellen's
dress.

After breakfast Ellen begged a piece of old brown calico of her
mother. "Why, of course you can have it, child," said her mother;
"but what on earth do you want it for? I was goin' to put it in the
rag-bag."

"I want to make my dolly a dress."

"Why, that ain't fit for your dolly's dress. Only think how queer
that beautiful doll would look in a dress made of that. Why, you
'ain't thought anything but silk and satin was good enough for her."

"I'll give you a piece of my new blue silk to make your doll a
dress," said Eva.

But Ellen persisted. When the doll came out of her closet of
vicarious penance she was arrayed like a very scullion among dolls,
in the remnant of the dress in which Fanny Brewster had done her
house-work all summer.

"There," Ellen told the doll, when her mother did not hear "you look
more like the way you ought to, and you ought to be happy, and not
ever think you wish you had your silk dress on. Think of all the
poor children who never have any silk dresses, or any dresses at
all--nothing except their cloth bodies in the coldest weather. You
ought to be thankful to have this."  For all which good advice and
philosophy the little mother of the doll would often look at the
discarded beauty of the wardrobe, with tears in her eyes and fondest
pity in her heart; but she never flinched. When the young man Nahum
Beals came in, as he often did of an evening, and raised his voice
in fierce denunciation against the luxury and extravagance of the
rich, Ellen would listen and consider that he would undoubtedly
approve of what she had done, did he know, and would allow that she
had made her small effort towards righting things.

"Only think what Mr. Beals would say if he saw you in your silk
dress; why, I don't know but he would throw you out of the window,"
she told her doll once.

Ellen did not feel any difference in her way of living after her
father was out of work. "She ain't goin' to be stented in one single
thing; remember that," Andrew told Fanny, with angry emphasis. "That
little, delicate thing is goin' to have everything she needs, if I
spend every cent I've saved and mortgage the place."

"Oh, you'll get work before it comes to that," Fanny said,
consolingly.

"Whether I do or not, it sha'n't make any difference," declared
Andrew. "I'm goin' to hire a horse and sleigh and take her
sleigh-ridin' this afternoon. It'll be good, and she's been talkin'
about a sleigh-ride ever since snow flew."

"She could do without that," Fanny said, doubtfully.

"Well, she ain't goin' to."

So it happened that the very day after Lloyd's had shut down, when
every man out of employment felt poorer than he did later when he
had grown accustomed to the sensation of no money coming in, Andrew
Brewster hired a horse and double sleigh, and took Ellen, her
mother, grandmother, and aunt out sleigh-riding. Ellen sat on the
back seat of the sleigh, full of that radiant happiness felt by a
child whose pleasures have not been repeated often enough for
satiety. The sleigh slid over the blue levels of snow followed by
long creaks like wakes of sound, when the livery-stable horse shook
his head proudly and set his bells in a flurry. Ellen drew a long
breath of rapture. These unaccustomed sounds held harmonies of
happiness which would echo through her future, for no one can
estimate the immortality of some little delight of a child. In all
her life, Ellen never forgot that sleigh-ride. It was a very cold
day, and the virgin snow did not melt at all; the wind blew a soft,
steady pressure from the west, and its wings were evident from the
glistening crystals which were lifted and borne along. The trees
held their shining boughs against the blue of the sky, and burned
and blazed here and there as with lamps of diamonds. The child
looked at them, and they lit her soul. Her little face, between the
swan's-down puffs of her hood, deepened in color like a rose; her
blue eyes shone; she laughed and dimpled silently; she was in too
much bliss to speak. The others kept looking at her, then at one
another. Fanny nudged her mother-in-law, behind the child's back,
and the two women exchanged glances of confidential pride. Andrew
and Eva kept glancing around at her, and asking if she were having a
good time. Eva was smartly dressed in her best hat, gay with bows
and red wings bristling as sharply as the head-dress of an Indian
chief in the old pictures. She had a red coat, and a long fur boa
wound around her throat; the clear crimson of her cheeks, her great
black eyes, and her heavy black braids were so striking that people
whom they met looked long at her. Eva talked fast to Andrew, and
laughed often and loudly.

Whenever that strident laugh of hers rang out, Mrs. Zelotes
Brewster, on the seat behind, moved her be-shawled shoulders with a
shivering hunch of disgust. "Can't you tell that girl not to laugh
so loud when we're out ridin'," she said to her son that evening; "I
saw folks lookin'."

"Oh, never mind, mother," Andrew said; "the poor girl's got a good
deal on her mind."

"I suppose you mean that Tinny feller," said Mrs. Zelotes, alluding
to something which had happened that afternoon in the course of the
sleigh-ride.

The sleighing that day was excellent, for there had been an ice
coating on the road before, and the last not very heavy snowfall had
been just enough. The Brewsters passed and met many others: young
men out with their sweethearts, whole families drawn by the sober
old horse as old as the grown-up children; rakish young men driving
stable teams, leaning forward with long circles of whip over the
horses' backs, leaving the scent of cigars behind them; and often,
too, two young ladies in dainty turnouts; and sometimes two girls or
four girls from Lloyd's, who had clubbed together and hired a
sleigh, taking reckless advantage of their enforced vacation.

"There's Daisy and Hat Sears, and--and there's Nell White and Eaat
Ryoce in the team behind," Eva said.

"I should think they better be savin' their money if Lloyd's has
shut up," said Mrs. Zelotes, severely.

"We ain't savin' ours, or Andrew ain't," Eva retorted, with a laugh.

"It's different with us," said Mrs. Zelotes, proudly, "though I
shouldn't think it was right for Andrew to hire a team every day."

"Sometimes I think folks might just as well have a little as they're
goin' along, for half the time they never seem to get there," Eva
said, with another hard laugh at her own wit; and just then she saw
something which made her turn deathly white, and catch her breath
with a gasp in spite of herself, though that was all. She held up
her head like a queen and turned her handsome white face full
towards Jim Tenny and the girl for whom he had jilted her before, as
they drove past, and bowed and smiled in a fashion which made the
red flame up over the young man's swarthy cheek, and the pretty girl
at his side shrink a little and avert her tousled fair head with a
nervous giggle.

Mrs. Zelotes Brewster twisted herself about and looked after them.
"There's John Tibbets and his wife in that sleigh; he's thrown out
of work as well as you, Andrew," said Fanny, hastily. "See that
feather in her bonnet blow; it's standin' up straight."  But Fanny's
manoeuvre to turn the attention of her mother-in-law was of no
avail, for nothing short of sudden death could interpose an
effectual barrier between Mrs. Zelotes Brewster's tongue and mind
set with the purpose of speech. "Was that the Tinny fellow?" she
demanded.

"Yes; I guess so. I didn't notice in particular," Fanny replied, in
a low voice. Then she added, pointing to an advancing sleigh. "Good
land, there's that Smith girl. They said she wasn't able to ride
out. Seems to me she's taken a queer day for it."

"Was that that Tinny fellow?" Mrs. Zelotes asked again. She leaned
forward and gave Eva a hard nudge on her red-coated elbow.

"Yes, it was," Eva answered, calmly.

"Who was that girl with him?"

"It was Aggie Bemis."

Mrs. Zelotes gave a sniff, then she settled back, studying Eva's
back with a sort of reflective curiosity. Presently she fumbled
under the sleigh cushion for an extra shawl which she had brought,
and handed it up to Eva. "Don't you want this extra shawl?" she
asked, while Fanny stared at her wonderingly. Mrs. Zelotes's
civilities towards her sister had been few and far between.

"No, thank you," Eva replied, with a start.

"Hadn't you better? It must be pretty cold sitting up there. You
must take all the wind. You can wrap this shawl all around your face
and ears, and I don't want it."

"No, thank you; I'm plenty warm," Eva replied. She swallowed hard,
and set her mouth hard. There was something about this kindness of
her old disapprover which touched her deeply, and moved her to
weakness more than had the sight of her recreant love with another
girl. Fanny saw the little quiver pass over her sister's face, and
leaned over and whispered.

"I shouldn't be a mite surprised if that girl asked Jim to take her.
It would be just like her."

"It don't make any odds whether she did or not," returned Eva, with
no affectation of secrecy. "I don't care which way 'twas."  She sat
up straighter than ever, and some men in a passing sleigh turned to
look after her.

"I s'pose she don't think my shawl looks genteel enough to wear,"
Mrs. Zelotes said to Fanny; "but she's dreadful silly."

They drove through the main street of the city and passed Cynthia
Lennox's house. Ellen looked at it with the guilt of secrecy. She
thought she saw the lady's head at a front window, and the front
door opened and Cynthia came down the walk with a rich sweep of
black draperies, and the soft sable toss of plumes. "There's Cynthia
Lennox," said Fanny. "She's a handsome-lookin' woman, ain't she?"

"She's most as old as Andrew, but you'd never suspect it," said Mrs.
Zelotes. She had used to have a fancy that Andrew and Cynthia might
make a match. She had seen no reason to the contrary, and she always
looked at Cynthia with a curious sense of injury and resentment when
she thought of what might have been.

As Cynthia Lennox swept down the walk to-day, the old lady said,
sharply:

"I don't see why she should walk any prouder than anybody else. I
don't know why she should, if she's right-minded. The Lennoxes
wasn't any grander than the Brewsters way back, if they have got a
little more money of late years. Cynthia's grandfather, old Squire
Lennox, used to keep the store, and live in one side of it, and her
mother's father, Calvin Goodenough, kept the tavern. I dunno as she
has so much to be proud of, though she's handsome enough, and shows
her bringin' up, as folks can't that ain't had it."  Fanny winced a
little; her bringing up was a sore subject with her.

"Well, folks can't help their bringin' up," she retorted, sharply.

"There's Lloyd's team," Andrew said, quickly, partly to avert the
impending tongue-clash between his wife and mother.

He reined his horse to one side at a respectful distance, and Norman
H. Lloyd, with his wife at his side, swept by in his fine sleigh,
streaming on the wind with black fur tails, his pair of bays
stepping high to the music of their arches of bells. The Brewsters
eyed Norman Lloyd's Russian coat with the wide sable collar turned
up around his proud, clear-cut face, the fur-gauntleted hands which
held the lines and the whip, for Mr. Lloyd preferred to drive his
own blooded pair, both from a love of horseflesh and a greater
confidence in his own guidance than in that of other people. Mr.
Lloyd was no coward, but he would have confided to no man his
sensations had he sat behind those furnaces of fiery motion with
other hands than his own upon the lines.

"I should think Mis' Lloyd would be afraid to ride with such
horses," said Mrs. Zelotes, as they leaped aside in passing; then
she bowed and smiled with eager pleasure, and yet with perfect
self-respect. She felt herself every whit as good as Mrs. Norman
Lloyd, and her handsome Paisley shawl and velvet bonnet as genteel
as the other woman's sealskins and floating plumes. Mrs. Lloyd
loomed up like a vast figure of richness enveloped in her bulky
winter wraps; her face was superb with health and enjoyment and
good-humor. Her cheeks were a deep crimson in the cold wind; she
smiled radiantly all the time as if at life itself. She had no
thought of fear behind those prancing bays which seemed so frightful
to Mrs. Zelotes, used to the steadiest stable team a few times
during the year, and driven with a wary eye to railroad crossings
and a sense of one's mortality in the midst of life strong upon her.
Mrs. Norman Lloyd had never any doubt when her husband held the
lines. She would have smiled behind ostriches and zebras. To her
mind Norman Lloyd was, as it were, impregnable to all combinations
of alien strength or circumstances. When she bowed on passing the
Brewsters, she did not move her fixed smile until she caught sight
of Ellen. Then emotion broke through the even radiance of her face.
She moved her head with a flurry of nods; she waved her hand; she
even kissed it to her.

"Bow to Mis' Lloyd, Ellen," said her grandmother; and Ellen ducked
her head solemnly. She remembered what she had heard the night
before, and the sleigh swept by, Mrs. Lloyd's rosy face smiling back
over the black fringe of dancing tails. Eva had shot a swift glance
of utmost rancor at the Lloyds, then sat stiff and upright until
they passed.

"I wouldn't ask Ellen to bow to that woman," said she, fiercely,
between her teeth. "I hate the whole tribe."

No one heard her except Andrew, and he shook the lines over the
steady stable horse, and said, "G'lang!" hoarsely.

Mrs. Norman Lloyd, in the other sleigh, had turned to her husband
with somewhat timid and deprecating enthusiasm. "Ain't she a sweet
little girl?" said she.

"What little girl?" Lloyd asked, abstractedly. He had not looked at
the Brewsters at all.

"That little Ellen Brewster who ran away and was gone most three
days a little while ago. She was in that sleigh we just passed. She
is just the sweetest child I ever laid eyes on," and Norman Lloyd
smiled vaguely and coldly, and cast a glance over his sable-clad
shoulders to see how far behind the team whose approaching bells he
heard might be.

"I suppose her father and aunt are out of work on account of the
closing of the factory," remarked Mrs. Lloyd, and a shadow of
reflection came over her radiant face.

"Yes, I believe they worked there," Lloyd replied, shaking loose the
reins and speeding the horses, that he might not be overtaken. In a
few minutes they reached the factory neighborhood. There were three
factories: two of them on opposite sides of the road, humming with
labor, and puffing with jets of steam at different points; Lloyd's,
beyond, was as large as both those standing hushed with windows
blank in the afternoon sunshine.

"I suppose the poor men feel pretty badly at being thrown out of
work," Mrs. Lloyd said, looking up at the windows as she slipped
past in her nest of furs.

"They feel so badly that I have seen a round dozen since we started
out taking advantage of their liberty to have a sleigh-ride with
livery teams at a good round price," Lloyd replied, with languid
emphasis. He never spoke with any force of argument to his wife, nor
indeed to any one else, in justification of his actions. His reasons
for action were in most cases self-evolved and entirely
self-regulated. He had said not a word to any one, not even to his
foreman, of his purpose to close the factory until it was quite
fixed; he had asked no advice, explained to no one the course of
reasoning which led to his doing so. Rowe was a city of strikes, but
there had never been a strike at Lloyd's because he had abandoned
the situation in every case before the clouds of rebellion were near
enough for the storm to break. When Briggs and McGuire, the rival
manufacturers at his right and left, had resorted to cut prices when
business was dull, as a refuge from closing up, Lloyd closed with no
attempt at compromise.

"I suppose they need a little recreation," Mrs. Lloyd observed,
thinking of the little girl's face peeping out between her mother
and grandmother in the sleigh they had just passed.

"Their little recreation is on about the same scale for them as my
hiring a special railroad train every day in the week to go to
Boston would be for me," returned Lloyd, setting his handsome face
ahead at the track.

"It does seem dreadful foolish," said his wife, "when they are out
of work, and maybe won't earn any more money to support their
families all winter--"  Mrs. Lloyd hesitated a minute. "I wonder,"
said she, "if they feel sort of desperate, and think they won't have
enough for their families, anyway--that is, enough to feed them, and
they might as well get a little good time out of it to remember
by-and-by when there ain't enough bread-and-butter. I dunno but we
might do something like that, if we were in their places--don't you,
Norman?"

"No, I do not," replied Lloyd; "and that is the reason why you and I
are not in their places."

Mrs. Lloyd put her sealskin muff before her face as they turned a
windy corner, and reflected that her husband was much wiser than
she, and that the world couldn't be regulated by women's hearts,
pleasant as it would be for the world and the women, since the final
outcome would doubtless be destruction.

Mrs. Norman Lloyd was an eminent survival of the purest and
oldest-fashioned femininity, a very woman of St. Paul, except that
she did not keep silence in the sanctuary.

Just after they had turned the corner they passed an outlying
grocery store much frequented as a lounging-place by idle men. There
was a row of them on the wooden platform (backed against the wall),
cold as it was, watching the sleighs pass, and two or three knots
gathered together for the purposes of confabulation. Nearly all of
them were employés of Lloyd's, and they had met at that unseasonable
hour on that bitter day, drifting together unconsciously as towards
a common nucleus of trouble, to talk over the situation.

When these men, huddled up in their shabby great-coats, with caps
pulled over shaggy brows and sullenly flashing eyes, saw the Lloyds
approaching, the rumble of conversation suddenly ceased. They all
stood staring when their employer passed. Only one man, Nahum Beals,
looked fairly at Lloyd's face with a denouncing flash of eyes.

To this man Lloyd, recognizing him and some of the others as his
employés, bowed. Nahum Beals stood glaring at him in accusing
silence, and his head was as immovable as if carved in stone. The
other men, with their averted eyes, made a curious, motionless
tableau of futile and dumb resistance to power which might have been
carved with truth on the face of the rock from the beginning of the
earth.



Chapter XI


The closing of Lloyd's marked, in some inscrutable way, the close of
the first period of Ellen Brewster's childhood. Looking back in
later years, she always felt her retrospective thought strike a
barrier there, beyond which her images of the past were confused.
Yet it was difficult to tell why it was so, for after the first the
child could, it seemed, have realized no difference in her life. Now
and then she heard some of that conversation characterized at once
by the confidence of wrong and injustice, and the logical doubt of
it, by solid reasoning which, if followed far enough, refuted
itself, by keen and unanswerable argument, and the wildest and most
futile enthusiasm. But she had gained nothing except the conviction
of the great wrongs of the poor of this earth and the awful tyranny
of the rich, of the everlasting moaning of Lazarus at the gates and
the cry for water later on from the depths of the rich man's hell.
Somehow that last never comforted Ellen; she had no conception of
the joy of the injured party over righteous retribution. She pitied
the rich man and Lazarus impartially, yet all the time a spirit of
fierce partisanship with these poor men was strengthening with her
growth, their eloquence over their wrongs stirred her soul, and set
her feet outside her childhood. Still, as before said, there was no
tangible difference in her daily life. The little petted treasure of
the Brewsters had all her small luxuries, sweets, and cushions of
life, as well after as before the closing of Lloyd's. And the
preparations for her aunt's wedding went on also. The sight of her
lover sleigh-riding with her rival that afternoon had been too much
for the resolution of Eva Loud's undisciplined nature. She had
herself gone to Jim Tenny's house that evening, and called him to
account, to learn that he had seriously taken her resolution not to
marry at present to proceed from a fear that he would not provide
properly for her, and that he had in this state of indignation been
easily led by the sight of Aggie Bemis's pretty face in her front
door, as he drove by, to stop. She had told Jim that she would marry
him as she had agreed if he looked at matters in that way, and had
passed Aggie Bemis's window leaning on Jim's arm with a side stare
of triumph.

"Be you goin' to get married next month after what you said this
mornin'?" her sister asked, half joyfully, half anxiously.

"Yes, I be," was all Eva replied, and Fanny stared at her; she was
so purely normal in her inconsistency as to seem almost the other
thing.

The preparations for the wedding went on, but Eva never seemed as
happy as she had done before the closing of Lloyd's. Jim Tenny could
get no more work, and neither could Andrew.

Fanny lamented that the shop had closed at that time of year, for
she had planned a Christmas tree of unprecedented splendor for
Ellen, but Mrs. Zelotes was to be depended upon as usual, and Andrew
told his wife to make no difference. "That little thing ain't goin'
to be cheated nohow," he said one night after Ellen had gone to bed
and his visiting companions of the cutting-room had happened in.

"I know my children won't get much," Joseph Atkins said, coughing as
he spoke; "they wouldn't if Lloyd's hadn't shut down. I never see
the time when I could afford to make any account of Christmas, much
as ever I could manage a turkey Thanksgiving day."

"The poor that the Lord died for can't afford to keep his birthday;
it is the rich that he's going to cast into outer darkness, that
keep it for their own ends, and it's a blasphemy and a mockery,"
proclaimed Nahum Beals. He was very excited that night, and would
often spring to his feet and stride across the room. There was
another man there that night, a cousin of Joseph Atkins, John
Sargent by name. He had recently moved to Rowe, since he had
obtained work at McGuire's, "had accepted a position in the
finishing-room of Mr. H. S. McGuire's factory in the city of Rowe,"
as the item in the local paper put it. He was a young man, younger
than his cousin, but he looked older. He had a handsome face, under
the most complete control as to its muscles. When he laughed he gave
the impression of the fixedness of merriment of a mask. He looked
keenly at Nahum Beals with that immovable laugh on his face, and
spoke with perfectly good-natured sarcasm. "All very well for the
string-pieces of the bridge from oppression to freedom," he said,
"but you need some common-sense for the ties, or you'll slump."

"What do you mean?"

"We ain't in the Old Testament, but the nineteenth century, and
those old prophets, if they were alive to-day, would have to step
down out of their flaming chariots and hang their mantles on the
bushes, and instead of standing on mountain-tops and tellin' their
enemies what rats they were, and how they would get what they
deserved later on, they would have to tell their enemies what they
wanted them to do to better matters, and make them do it."

"Instead of standing by your own strike in Greenboro, you quit and
come here to work in McGuire's the minute you got a chance," said
Nahum Beals, sullenly, and Sargent responded, with his unrelaxing
laugh, "I left enough strikers for the situation in Greenboro; don't
you worry about me."

"I think he done quite right to quit the strike if he got a chance
to work," Joseph Atkins interposed. "Folks have got to look out for
themselves, labor reform or no labor reform."

"That's the corner-stone of labor reform, seems to me," said Andrew.

"Seems to me sometimes you talk like a damned scab," cried Nahum
Beals, fiercely, red spots flickering in his thin cheeks. Andrew
looked at him, and spoke with slow wrath. "Look here, Nahum Beals,"
he said, "you're in my house, but I ain't goin' to stand no such
talk as that, I can tell you."

John Sargent laid a pacifically detaining hand on Nahum Beals's arm
as he strode past him. "Oh, Lord, stop rampagin' up and down like a
wildcat," he said. "What good do you think you're doin' tearin' and
shoutin' and insultin' people? He ain't talkin' like a scab, he's
only talkin' a tie to your string-piece."

"That's so," said Joseph Atkins. Sargent boarded with him, and the
board money was a godsend to him, now he was out of work. John
Sargent had fixed his own price, and it was an unheard-of one for
such simple fare as he had. His weekly dollars kept the whole poor
family in food. But John Sargent was a bachelor, and earning
remarkably good wages, and Joseph Atkins's ailing wife, whom illness
and privation had made unnaturally grasping and ungrateful, told her
cronies that it wasn't as if he couldn't afford it.

Up-stairs little Ellen lay in her bed, her doll in her arms,
listening to the low rumble of masculine voices in the room below.
Her mother had gone out, and there were only the men there. They
were smoking, and the odor of their pipes floated up into Ellen's
chamber through the door-cracks. She thought how her grandmother
Brewster would sniff when she came in next day. She could hear her
saying, "Well, for my part, if those men couldn't smoke their old
pipes somewhere else besides in my sittin'-room, I wouldn't have 'em
in the house."  But that reflection did not trouble Ellen very long,
and she had never been disturbed herself by the odor of the pipes.
She thought of them insensibly as the usual atmosphere when men were
gathered together in any place except the church. She knew that they
were talking about that old trouble, and Nahum Beals's voice of high
wrath made her shrink; but, after all, she was removed from it all
that night into a little prospective paradise of her own, which, as
is the case in childhood, seemed to overgild her own future and all
the troubles of the world. Christmas was only a week distant, she
was to have a tree, and the very next evening her mother had
promised to take her down-town and show her the beautiful, lighted
Christmas shops. She wondered, listening to that rumble of
discontent below, why grown-up men and women ever fretted when they
were at liberty to go down-town every evening when they chose and
look at the lighted shops, for she could still picture pure delight
for others without envy or bitterness.

The next day the child was radiant; she danced rather than walked;
she could not speak without a smile; she could eat nothing, for her
happiness was so purely spiritual that desires of the flesh were in
abeyance. Her heart beat fast; the constantly recurring memory of
what was about to happen fairly overwhelmed her as with waves of
delight.

"If you don't eat your supper you can't go, and that's all there is
about it," her mother told her when they were seated at the table,
and Ellen sat dreaming before her toast and peach preserve.

"You must eat your supper, Ellen," Andrew said, anxiously. Andrew
had on his other coat, and he had shaved, and was going too, as was
Mrs. Zelotes Brewster.

"She 'ain't eat a thing all day, she's so excited about goin',"
Fanny said. "Now, Ellen, you must eat your supper, or you can't
go--you'll be sick."

And Ellen ate her supper, though exceeding joy as well as exceeding
woe can make food lose its savor, and toast and preserves were as
ashes on her tongue when the very fragrance of coming happiness was
in her soul.

When, finally, in hand of her mother, while Andrew walked behind
with her grandmother, she went towards the lights of the town, she
had a feeling as of wings on her feet. However, she walked soberly
enough with wide eyes of amazement and delight at everything--the
long, silver track of the snowy road under the light of the full
moon, the slants of the house roofs sparkling with crusts of
crystals, the lighted windows set with house plants, for the
dwellers in the outskirts of Rowe loved house plants, and their
front windows bloomed with the emulative splendor of geraniums from
fall to spring. She saw behind them glimpses of lives and some
doings as real as her own, but mysterious under the locks of other
personalities, and therefore as full of possibilities of
preciousness as the sheet of morning dew over a neighbor's yard; she
had often believed she saw diamonds sparkle in that, though never in
her own. She had proved it otherwise too often. So Ellen, seeing
through a window a little girl of her own age in a red frock,
straightway believed it to be satin of the richest quality, and,
seeing through another window a tea-table spread, had no doubt that
the tin teapot was silver. A girl with a crown of yellow braids
pulled down a curtain, and she thought her as beautiful as an angel;
but of all this she said nothing at all, only walked soberly on,
holding fast to her mother's hand.

When they were half-way to the shops, a door of a white house close
to the road flew open and shut again with a bang, there was a scurry
and grating slide on the front walk, then the gate was thrown back,
and a boy dashed through with a wild whoop, just escaping contact
with Mrs. Zelotes Brewster. "You'd better be careful," said she,
sharply. "It ain't the thing for boys to come tearin' out of yards
in the evenin' without seein' where they are goin'."

The boy cast an abashed glance at her. The street-lamp shone full on
his face, which was round and reddened by the frosty winds, with an
aimlessly grinning mouth of uncertain youth, and black eyes with a
bold and cheerful outlook on the unknown. He was only ten, but he
was large for his age. Ellen, when he looked from her grandmother
back at her, thought him almost a man, and then she saw that he was
the boy who had brought the chestnuts to her the night when she had
returned from her runaway excursion. The boy recognized her at the
same moment, and his mouth seemed to gape wider, and a moist red
overspread his face down to his swathing woollen scarf. Then he gave
another whoop significant of the extreme of nervous abashedness and
the incipient defiance of his masculine estate, there was a flourish
of heels, followed by a swift glimmering slide of steel, and he was
off trailing his sled.

"That's that Joy boy that brought Ellen the chestnuts that time,"
Fanny said. "Do you remember him, Ellen?"

"Yes, ma'am," replied Ellen. The look of the boy in her face had
bewildered and confused her, without her knowing the why of it. It
was as if she had spelled a word in her reading-book whose meaning
she could not grasp.

"I don't care who he is," said Mrs. Zelotes, "he 'ain't no business
racin' out of gates that way, and his folks hadn't ought to let a
boy no older than that out alone of nights."

They kept on, and the boy apparently left them far behind in his
career of youthful exuberance, until they came to the factories.
Andrew looked up at the windows of Lloyd's, dark except for a faint
glimmer in a basement window from the lamp of the solitary watchman,
and drew a heavy sigh.

"It ain't as bad for you as it is for some," his mother said,
sharply, and then she jumped aside, catching her son's arm as the
boy sprang out of a covering shadow under the wall of Lloyd's and
dashed before them with another wild whoop and another glance of
defiant bashfulness at Ellen.

"My land! it's that boy again," cried Mrs. Zelotes. "Here, you
boy!--boy! What's your name?"

"His name is Granville Joy," Ellen replied, unexpectedly.

"Why, how did you know, child?" her grandmother asked. "Seems to me
he's got a highfalutin' name enough. Here you, Granville--if that's
your name--don't you know any better than to--"  But the boy was
gone, his sled creaking on the hard snow at his heels, and a faint
whoop sounded from the distance.

"I guess if I had the bringin' up of that boy there wouldn't be such
doin's," said Mrs. Zelotes, severely. "His mother's a pretty woman,
but I don't believe she's got much force. She wouldn't have given
him such a name if she had."

"She named him after the town she came from," said Fanny. "She told
me once. She's a real smart woman, and she makes that boy stand
around."

"She must; it looks as if he was standin' round pretty lively jest
now," said Mrs. Zelotes. "Namin' of a boy after a town! They'd
better wait and name a town after the boy if he amounts to
anything."

"His mother told me he was goin' into the first grammar-school next
year," said Fanny.

"I pity the teacher," said Mrs. Zelotes, and then she recoiled, for
the boy made another dart from behind a lamp-post, crossed their
path, and was off again.

"My land!" gasped Mrs. Zelotes, "you speak to him, Andrew."  But
Andrew laughed. "Might as well speak to a whirlwind," said he. "He
ain't doin' any harm, mother; it's only his boyish antics. For
Heaven's sake, let him enjoy himself while he can, it won't be long
before the grind-mill in there will get hold of him, and then he'll
be sober enough to suit anybody," and Andrew pointed at Lloyd's as
he spoke.

"Boys can be boys," said Mrs. Zelotes, severely, "and they can have
a good time, but they can behave themselves."

None of them looking after that flying and whooping figure ahead had
the slightest idea of the true situation. They did not know that the
boy was confused by the fires, none the less ardent that they were
so innocent, of a first love for Ellen; that, ever since he had seen
her little, fair face on her aunt's shoulder the day when she was
found, it had been even closer to his heart than his sled and his
jackstones and his ball, and his hope of pudding for dinner. They
did not know that he had toiled at the wood-pile of a Saturday, and
run errands after school, to earn money to buy Christmas presents
for his mother and Ellen; that he had at that very minute in his
purse in the bottom of his pocket the sum of eighty-nine cents,
mostly in coppers, since his wage was generally payable in that
coin, and his pocket sagged arduously therefrom. They did not know
that he was even then bound upon an errand to the grocery store for
a bag of flour to be brought home on his sled, and would thereby
swell his exchequer by another cent. They did not know what dawning
chords of love, and knowledge of love, that wild whoop expressed;
and the boy dodged and darted and hid, and appeared before them all
the way to the busy main street of Rowe; and, after they had entered
the great store where the finest Christmas display was held, he
stood before the window staring at Ellen vanishing in a brilliant
vista, and whooped now and then, regardless of public opinion.

Ellen, when once she was inside the store, forgot everything else.
She clung more tightly to her mother's hand, as one will cling to
any wonted stay of love in the midst of strangeness, even of joy,
and she saw everything with eyes which photographed it upon her very
soul. At first she had an impression of a dazzling incoherence of
splendor, of a blare as of thousands of musical instruments all
sounding different notes of delight, of a weaving pattern of colors,
too intricate to master, of a mingled odor of paint and varnish, and
pine and hemlock boughs, and then she spelled out the letters of the
details. She looked at those counters set with the miniature
paraphernalia of household life which give the first sweet taste of
domesticity and housekeeping joys to a little girl.

There were the sets of dolls' furniture, and the dolls, dishes, and
there was a counter with dolls' cooking-stoves and ranges bristling
with the most delightful realism of pots and pans, at which she
gazed so fixedly and breathlessly that she looked almost stupid. Her
elders watched half in delight, half with pain, that they could not
purchase everything at which she looked. Mrs. Zelotes bought some
things surreptitiously, hiding the parcels under her shawl. Andrew,
whispering to a salesman, asked the price of a great cooking-stove
at which Ellen looked long. When he heard the amount he sighed.
Fanny touched his arm comfortingly. "There would be no sense in your
buying that, if you had all the money in creation," she said, in a
hushed voice. "There's a twenty-five-cent one that's good enough.
I'm going to buy that for her to-morrow. She'll never know the
difference."  But Andrew Brewster, nevertheless, went through the
great, dazzling shop with his heart full of bitterness. It seemed to
him monstrous and incredible that he had a child as beautiful and
altogether wonderful as that, and could not buy the whole stock for
her if she wanted it. He had never in his whole life wanted anything
for himself that he could not have, enough to give him pain, but he
wanted for his child with a longing that was a passion. Her little
desires seemed to him the most important and sacred needs in the
whole world. He watched her with pity and admiration, and shame at
his own impotence of love to give her all.

But Ellen knew nothing of it. She was radiant. She never thought of
wanting all those treasures further than she already had them. She
gazed at the wonders in that department where the toy animals were
kept, and which resembled a miniature menagerie, the silence broken
by the mooing of cows, the braying of donkeys, the whistle of
canaries, and the roars of mock-lions when their powers were invoked
by the attendants, and her ears drank in that discordant bable of
tiny mimicry like music. There was no spirit of criticism in her.
She was utterly pleased with everything.

When her grandmother held up a toy-horse and said the fore-legs were
too long, Ellen wondered what she meant. To her mind it was more
like a horse than any real one she had ever seen.

As she gazed at the decorations, the wreaths, the gauze, the tinsel,
and paper angels, suspended by invisible wires over the counters,
and all glittering and shining and twinkling with light, a strong
whiff of evergreen fragrance came to her, and the aroma of
fir-balsam, and it was to her the very breath of all the mysterious
joy and hitherto untasted festivity of this earth into which she had
come. She felt deep in her childish soul the sense of a promise of
happiness in the future, of which this was a foretaste. When she
went into the department where the dolls dwelt, she fairly turned
pale. They swung, and sat, and lay, and stood, as in angelic ranks,
all smiling between shining fluffs of hair. It was a chorus of
smiles, and made the child's heart fairly leap. She felt as if all
the dolls were smiling at her. She clung fast to her mother's hand,
and hid her face against her skirt.

"Why, what is the matter, Ellen?" Fanny asked. Ellen looked up, and
smiled timidly and confusedly, then at the dazzle of waxen faces and
golden locks above skirts of delicate pink and blue and white, like
flower petals.

"You never saw so many dolls together before, did you, Ellen?" said
Andrew; then he added, wistfully, "There ain't one of 'em any bigger
and prettier than your own doll, be they, Ellen?"  And that,
although he had never recovered from his uneasiness about that
mysterious doll.

Ellen had not seen Cynthia Lennox since that morning several weeks
ago when she had run away from her, except one glimpse when she was
sleigh-riding. Now all at once, when they had stopped to look at
some wonderful doll-houses, she saw her face to face. Ellen had been
gazing with rapture at a great doll-house completely furnished, and
Andrew had made one of his miserable side inquiries as to its price,
and Fanny had said, quite loud, "Lord, Andrew, you might just as
well ask the price of the store! You know such a thing as that is
out of the question for any child unless her father is rich as
Norman Lloyd," and Ellen, who had not noticed what they were saying,
looked up, when a faint breath of violets smote her sense with a
quick memory, and there was the strange lady who had taken her into
her house and kept her and given her the doll, the strange lady whom
the gentleman said might be punished for keeping her if people were
to know.

Cynthia Lennox went pale when, without knowing what was going to
happen, she looked down and saw suddenly the child's innocent face
looking into hers. She stood wavering in her trailing, fur-lined,
and softly whispering draperies, so marked and set aside by her
grace and elegance and countenance of superiority and proud calm
that people turned to look after her more than after many a young
beauty, and did not, for a second, know what to say or do. She had
no mind to shrink from a recognition of the child; she had no fear
of the result, but there was a distinct shrinking at a scene with
that flashing-eyed and heavy-browed mother of the child in such a
place as that. She would undoubtedly speak very loud. She expected
the volley of recrimination in a high treble which would follow the
announcement in that sweet little flute which she remembered so
well.

"Mamma, that is the lady who kept me, and would not let me go home."

But Ellen, after a second's innocent and startled regard, turned
away with no more recognition than if she had been a stranger. She
turned her little back to her, and looked at the doll-house. A great
flush flamed over Cynthia Lennox's face, and a qualm of mortal
shame. She took an impetuous glide forward, and was just about to
speak and tell the truth, whatever the consequences, and not be
outdone in magnanimity by that child, when a young girl with a
sickly but impudent and pretty face jostled her rudely. The utter
pertness of her ignorant youth knew no respect for even the rich
Miss Cynthia Lennox. "Here's your parcel, lady," she said, in her
rough young voice, its shrillness modified by hoarseness from too
much shouting for cash boys during this busy season, and she thrust,
with her absent eyes upon a gentleman coming towards her, a parcel
into Cynthia's hands. Somehow the touch of that parcel seemed to
bring Cynthia to her senses. It was a kodak which she had been
purchasing for the little boy who had lived with her, and whom it
had almost broken her heart to lose. She remembered what her friend
Lyman Risley had said, that it might make trouble for others besides
herself. She took her parcel with that involuntary meekness which
the proudest learn before the matchless audacity of youthful
ignorance when it fairly asserts itself, and passed out of the store
to her waiting carriage. Ellen saw her.

"That was Cynthia Lennox, wasn't it?" Fanny said, with something
like awe. "Wasn't that an elegant cloak she had on? I guess it was
Russian sable."

"I don't care if it was, it ain't a mite handsomer than my cape
lined with squirrel," said Mrs. Zelotes.

Ellen looked intently at a game on the counter. It was ten o'clock
when Ellen went home. She had been into all the principal stores
which were decorated for Christmas. Her brain resembled a
kaleidoscope as she hurried along at her mother's hand. Every
thought seemed to whirl the disk, and new and more dazzling
combinations appeared, but the principle which underlay the whole
was that of the mystery of festivity and joy upon the face of the
earth, of which this Christmas wealth was the key.

The Brewsters had scarcely reached the factory neighborhood when
there was a swift bound ahead of them and the familiar whoop.

"There's that boy again," said Mrs. Zelotes.

She made various remonstrances, and even Andrew, when the boy had
passed his own home in his persistent dogging of them, called out to
him, as did Fanny, but he was too far ahead to hear. The boy
followed them quite to their gate, proceeding with wild spurts and
dashes from shadow to shadow, and at last reappeared from behind one
of the evergreen trees in the west yard, springing out of its long
shadow with strange effect. He darted close to Ellen as she passed
in the gate, crammed something into her hand, and was gone. Andrew
could not catch him, though he ran after him. "He ran like a
rabbit," he said, coming breathlessly into the house, where they
were looking at the treasure the boy had thrust upon Ellen. It was a
marvel of a patent top, which the boy had long desired to own. He
had spent all his money on it, and his mother was cheated of her
Christmas present, but he had given, and Ellen had received, her
first token of love.



Chapter XII


The next spring Ellen went to school. When a child who has reigned
in undisputed sovereignty at home is thrust among other children at
school, one of two things happens: either she is scorned and
rebelled against, and her little crown of superiority rolled in the
dust of the common playground, or she extends the territories of her
empire. Ellen extended hers, though involuntarily, for there was no
conscious thirst for power in her.

On her first morning at school, she seated herself at her desk and
looked forth from the golden cloud of her curls, her eyes full of
innocent contemplation, her mouth corners gravely drooping. She knew
one little girl who sat not far from her. The little girl's name was
Floretta Vining. Floretta was built on the scale of a fairy, with
tiny, fine, waxen features, a little tossing mane of flaxen hair,
eyes a most lovely and perfect blue, with no more depth in them than
in the blue of china, and an expression of the sweetest and most
innocent inanity and irresponsibility. Nobody ever expected anything
of this little Floretta Vining. She was always a negative success.
She smiled around from the foot of her curving class, and never had
her lessons, but she never disobeyed the rules, except that of
punctuality.

Floretta was late at school. She came daintily up the aisle, two
cheap bangles on one wrist slipping over a slim hand, and tinkling.
Floretta's mother had a taste for the cheaply decorative. There was
an abundance of coarse lace on Floretta's frock, and she wore a
superfluous sash which was not too fresh. Floretta toed out
excessively, her slender little feet pointing out sharply, almost at
right angles with each other, and Ellen admired her for that. She
watched her coming, planting each foot as carefully and precisely as
a bird, her lace frills flouncing up and down, her bangles jingling,
and thought how very pretty she was.

Ellen felt herself very loving towards the teacher and Floretta
Vining. Floretta leaned forward as soon as she was seated and gazed
at her with astonishment, and that deepening of amiability and
general sweetness which one can imagine in the face of a doll after
persistent scrutiny. Ellen smiled decorously, for she was not sure
how much smiling was permissible in school. When she smiled
guardedly at Floretta, she was conscious of another face regarding
her, twisted slightly over a shabby little shoulder covered with an
ignominious blue stuff, spotted and faded. This little girl's wisp
of brown braid was tied with a shoe-string, and she looked poorer
than any other child in the school, but she had an honest light in
her eyes, and Ellen considered her to be rather more beautiful than
Floretta.

She was Maria Atkins, Joseph Atkins's second child. Ellen sat with
her book before her, and the strange, new atmosphere of the
school-room stole over her senses. It was not altogether pleasant,
although it was considered that the ventilation was after the most
approved modern system. She perceived a strong odor of peppermints,
and Floretta Vining was waving ostentatiously a coarse little
pocket-handkerchief scented with New-mown Hay. There was also a
strong effusion of stale dinners and storm-beaten woollen garments,
but there was, after all, that savor of festivity which Ellen was
apt to discover in the new. She looked over her book with utter
content. In a line with her, on the boys' side, there appeared a
covertly peeping face under a thatch of light hair, and Ellen,
influenced insensibly by the boy's shyly worshipful eyes, looked and
saw Granville Joy. She remembered the Christmas top, and blushed
very pink without knowing why, and flirted all her curls towards the
boys' side.

Ellen, from having so little acquaintance with boys, had had no very
well-defined sentiments towards them, but now, on being set apart
with her feminine element, and separated so definitely by the middle
aisle of the school-room, she began to experience sensations both of
shyness and exclusiveness. She did not think the boys, in their
coarse clothes, with their cropped heads, half as pretty as the
girls.

The teacher coming down the aisle laid a caressing hand on Ellen's
curls, and the child looked up at her with that confidence which is
exquisite flattery.

After she had passed, Ellen heard a subtle whisper somewhere at her
back; it was half audible, but its meaning was entirely plain. It
signified utmost scorn and satirical contempt. It was fine-pointed
and far-reaching. A number looked around. It was as expressive as a
whole sentence, and, being as concentrated, was fairly explosive
with meaning.

"H'm, ain't you pretty? Ain't you dreadful pretty, little
dolly-pinky-rosy. H'm, teacher's partial. Ain't you pretty? Ain't
you stuck up? H'm."

Ellen, not being used to the school vernacular, did not fairly
apprehend all this, and least of all that it was directed towards
herself. She cast a startled look around, then turned to her book.
She leaned back in her seat and held her book before her face with
both hands, and began to read, spelling out the words noiselessly.
All at once, she felt a fine prick on her head, and threw back one
hand and turned quickly. The little girl behind was engrossed in
study, and all Ellen could see was the parting in her thick black
hair, for her head was supported by her two hands, her elbows were
resting on her desk, and she was whispering the boundaries of the
State of Massachusetts.

Ellen turned back to her reading-book, and recommenced studying with
the painful faithfulness of the new student; then came again that
small, fine, exasperating prick, and she thrust her face around
quickly to see that same faithfully intent little girl.

Ellen rubbed her head doubtfully, and tried to fix her attention
again upon her book, but presently it came again; a prick so small
and fine that it strained consciousness; an infinitesimal point of
torture, and this time Ellen, turning with a swift flirt of her
head, caught the culprit. It was that faithful little girl, who held
a black-headed belt-pin in her hand; she had been carefully
separating one hair at a time from Ellen's golden curls, and
tweaking it out.

Ellen looked at her with a singular expression compounded of
bewilderment, of injury, of resentment, of alarm, and of a readiness
to accept it all as a somewhat peculiar advance towards
good-fellowship and a merry understanding. But the expression on
that dark, somewhat grimy little face, looking out at her from a
jungle of coarse, black locks, was fairly impish, almost malicious.
There was not merriment in it so much as jibing; instead of that
soft regard and worshipful admiration which Ellen was accustomed to
find in new eyes, there was resentful envy.

Then Ellen shrank, and bristled with defiance at the same time, for
she had the spirit of both the Brewsters and the Louds in her, in
spite of her delicacy of organization. She was a fine instrument,
capable of chords of tragedy as well as angelic strains. She saw
that the little girl who was treating her so was dressed very
poorly, that her dress was not only shabby, but actually dirty; that
she, as well as the other girl whom she noticed, had her braid tied
with an old shoe-string, and that a curious smell of leather
pervaded her. Ellen continued to regard the little girl, then
suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder, and the teacher, Miss
Rebecca Mitchell, was looking down at her. "What is the trouble?"
asked Miss Mitchell. That look of half-wondering admiration to which
Ellen was accustomed was in the teacher's eyes, and Ellen again
thought her beautiful.

One of the first, though a scarcely acknowledged principle of
beauty, is that of reflection of the fairness of the observer. Ellen
being as innocently self-seeking for love and admiration as any
young thing for its natural sustenance, was quick to recognize it,
though she did not understand that what she saw was herself in the
teacher's eyes, and not the teacher. She gazed up in that roseate
face with the wide mouth set in an inverted bow of smile, curtained,
as it were, with smoothly crinkled auburn hair clearly outlined
against the cheeks, at the palpitating curve of shiny black-silk
bosom, adorned with a festoon of heavy gold watch-chain, and thought
that here was love, and beauty, and richness, and elegance, and
great wisdom, calling for reverence but no fear. She answered not
one word to the teacher's question, but continued to gaze at her
with that look of wide-eyed and contemplative regard.

"What is the trouble, Ellen?" repeated Miss Mitchell. "Why were you
looking around so?"  Ellen said nothing. The little girl behind had
her head bent over her book so low that the sulky curves of her
mouth did not show. The teacher turned to her--"Abby Atkins," said
she, "what were you doing?"

Abby Atkins did not raise her studious head. She did not seem to
hear.

"Abby Atkins," said the teacher, sharply, "answer me. What were you
doing?"  Then the little girl answered, with a sulky note, half
growl, half whimper, like some helpless but indomitable little
trapped animal, "Nothin'."

"Ellen," said the teacher, and her voice changed indescribably.
"What was she doing?"  Ellen did not answer. She looked up in the
teacher's face, then cast down her eyes and sat there, her little
hands folded in tightly clinched fists in her lap, her mouth a pink
line of resistance. "Ellen," repeated the teacher, and she tried to
make her voice sharp, but in spite of herself it was caressing. Her
heart had gone out to the child the moment she had seen her enter
the school-room. She was as helpless before her as before a lover.
She was wild to catch her up and caress her instead of pestering her
with questions. "Ellen, you must answer me," she said, but Ellen sat
still.

Half the scholars were on their feet, reaching and craning their
necks. The teacher turned on them, and there was no lack of
sharpness in her tone. "Sit down this moment, every one of you," she
called. "Abby Atkins, if there is any more disturbance, I shall know
what is at the root of the matter. If I see you turning around
again, Ellen, I shall insist upon knowing why."  Then the teacher
placed a caressing hand upon Ellen's yellow head, and passed down
the aisle to her desk.

Ellen had no more trouble during the session. Abby Atkins was
commendably quiet and studious, and when called out to recitation
made the best one in her class. She was really brilliant in a
defiant, reluctant fashion. However, though she did not again
disturb Ellen's curls, she glowered at her with furtive but
unrelaxed hostility over her book. Especially a blue ribbon which
confined Ellen's curls in a beautiful bow fired her eyes of
animosity. She looked hard at it, then she pulled her black braid
over her shoulder and felt of the hard shoe-string knot, and frowned
with an ugly frown of envy and bitterest injury, and asked herself
the world-wide and world-old question as to the why of inequality,
and, though it was based on such trivialities as blue ribbons and
shoe-strings, it was none the less vital to her mind. She would have
loved, have gloried, to pull off that blue ribbon, put it on her own
black braid, and tie up those yellow curls with her own shoe-string
with a vicious yank of security. But all the time it was not so much
because she wanted the ribbon as because she did not wish to be
slighted in the distribution of things. Abby Atkins cared no more
for personal ornament than a wild cat, but she wanted her just
allotment of the booty of the world. So at recess she watched her
chance. Ellen was surrounded by an admiring circle of big girls,
gushing with affection. "Oh, you dear little thing," they said.
"Only look at her beautiful curls. Give me a kiss, won't you,
darling?"  Little reverent fingers twined Ellen's golden curls, red
apples were thrust forward for her to take bites, sticky morsels of
candy were forced secretly into her hands. Abby Atkins stood aloof.
"You mean little thing," one of the big girls said suddenly,
catching hold of her thin shoulder and shaking her--"you mean little
thing, I saw you."

"So did I," said another big girl, "and I was a good mind to tell on
you."

"Yes, you had better look out, and not plague that dear little
thing," said the other.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," chimed in still another big
girl. "Only look how pretty she is, the little darling--the idea of
your tormenting her. You deserve a good, hard whipping, Abby
Atkins."

This big girl was herself a beauty and wore a fine and precise
blue-ribbon bow, and Abby Atkins looked at her with a scowl of
hatred.

"She's an ugly little thing," said the big girls among themselves as
they went edging gently and imperceptibly away towards a knot of big
boys, and then Abby Atkins's chance had come. She advanced with a
spring upon Ellen Brewster, and she pulled that blue ribbon off her
head so cruelly and fiercely that she pulled out some of the golden
hairs with it and threw it on the ground, and stamped on it. Then
she seized Ellen by the shoulders and proceeded to shake her for
wearing a blue ribbon when she herself wore a shoe-string, but she
reckoned without Ellen. One would as soon have expected to meet
fight in a little child angel as in this Ellen Brewster, but she did
not come of her ancestors for nothing.

Although she was so daintily built that she looked smaller, she was
in reality larger than the other girl, and as she straightened
herself in her wrath she seemed a head taller and proportionately
broad. She tossed her yellow head, and her face took on an
expression of noble courage and indignation, but she never said a
word. She simply took Abby Atkins by the arms and lifted her off her
feet and seated her on the ground. Then she picked up her blue
ribbon, and walked off, and Abby scrambled to her feet and looked
after her with a vanquished but untamed air. Nobody had seen what
happened except Abby's younger sister Maria and Granville Joy.
Granville pressed stealthily close to Ellen as she marched away and
whispered, his face blazing, his voice full of confidence and
congratulation, "Say, if she'd been a boy, I'd licked her for you,
and you wouldn't hev had to tech her yourself;" and Maria walked up
and eyes her prostrate but defiantly glaring sister--"I ain't sorry
one mite, Abby Atkins," she declared--"so there."

"You go 'long," returned Abby, struggling to her feet, and shaking
her small skirts energetically.

"Your dress is jest as wet as if you'd set down in a puddle, and
you'll catch it when you get home," Maria said, pitilessly.

"I ain't afraid."

"What made you touch her, anyhow; she hadn't done nothin'?"

"If you want to wear shoe-strings when other folks wear ribbons, you
can," said Abby Atkins. She walked away, switching, with unabated
dignity in the midst of defeat, the draggled tail of her poor little
dress. She had gone down like a cat; she was not in the least hurt
except in her sense of justice; that was jarred to a still greater
lack of equilibrium. She felt as if she had been floored by
Providence in conjunction with a blue bow, and her very soul rose in
futile rebellion. But, curiously enough, her personal ire against
Ellen vanished.

At the afternoon recess she gave Ellen the sound half of an old red
Baldwin apple which she had brought for luncheon, and watched her
bite into it, which Ellen did readily, for she was not a child to
cherish enmity, with an odd triumph. "The other half ain't fit to
eat, it's all wormy," said Abby Atkins, flinging it away as she
spoke.

"Then you ought to have kept this," Ellen cried out, holding towards
her the half, minus one little bite. But Abby Atkins shook her head
forcibly. "That was why I gave it to you," said she. "Say, didn't
you never have to tie up your hair with a shoe-string?"  Ellen shook
her head, looking at her wonderingly. Then with a sudden impulse she
tore off the blue ribbon from her curls. "Say, you take it," she
said, "my mother won't care. I'd just as lief wear the shoe-string,
honest."

"I don't want your blue ribbon," Abby returned, stoutly; "a
shoe-string is a good deal better to tie the hair with. I don't want
your blue ribbon; I don't want no blue ribbon unless it's mine."

"It would be yours if I give it to you," Ellen declared, with blue
eyes of astonishment and consternation upon this very strange little
girl.

"No, it wouldn't," maintained Abby Atkins.

But it ended in the two girls, with that wonderful and inexplicable
adjustment of childhood into one groove after harsh grating on
different levels, walking off together with arms around each other's
waist, and after school began Ellen often felt a soft, cat-like pat
on her head, and turned round with a loving glance at Abby Atkins.

Ellen talked more about Abby Atkins than any other of the children
when she got home, and while her mother looked at it all easily, her
grandmother was doubtful. "There's others that I should rather have
Ellen thick with," said she. "I 'ain't nothin' against the Atkinses,
but they can't have been as well brought up as some, they have had
so little to do with, and their mother's been ailin' so long."

"Ellen may as well begin as she can hold out, and be intimate with
them that will be intimate with her," Eva said, rather bitterly. Eva
was married by this time, and living with Jim and his mother. She
wore in those days an expression of bitterly defiant triumph and
happiness, as of one who has wrested his sweet from fate under the
ban of the law, and is determined to get the flavor of it though the
skies fall. "I suppose I did wrong marrying Jim," she often told her
sister, "but I can't help it."

"Maybe Jim will get work before long," her sister would say,
consolingly.

"I have about given up," Eva would reply. "I guess Jim will have to
roost on a flour-barrel at Munsey's store the rest of his days; but
as long as he belongs to me, it don't make so much difference."

Eva had taken up an agency for a cosmetic which was manufactured by
a woman in Rowe. She had one window of the north parlor in the Tenny
cottage, which had been given up to her when she married Jim, filled
with the little pink boxes containing the "Fairy Cream," and a great
sign, but the trade languished. Both Eva and Jim had tried in vain
to obtain employment in factories in other towns.

Lloyd's had not reopened, although it was April, and Andrew was
drawing on his savings. Fanny had surreptitiously answered an
advertisement purporting to give instructions to women as to the
earning of large sums of money at home, and was engaged with a stock
of glass and paints which she hurriedly swept out of sight when any
one's shadow passed the window, and later she found herself to be
the victim of a small swindling conspiracy, and lost the dollar
which she had invested. But Ellen knew nothing of all this. She
lacked none of her accustomed necessaries nor luxuries, and with her
school a new life full of keen, new savors or relish began for her.
There were also new affections in it.

Ellen was as yet too young, and too confident in love, to have new
affections plunge her into anything but a delightful sort of
anti-blossom tumult. There was no suspense, no doubt, no jealousy,
only utter acquiescence of single-heartedness, admiration, and
trust. She thought Abby Atkins and Floretta Vining lovely and
dependable; she parted from them at night without a pang, and looked
forward blissfully to the meeting next morning. She also had
sentiments equally peaceful and pronounced, though instinctively
more secret, towards Granville Joy. She used to glance over towards
the boys' side and meet his side-long eyes without so much a
quickening of her pulses as a quickening of her imagination.

"I know who your beau is," Floretta Vining, who was in advance of
her years, said to her once, and Ellen looked at her with
half-stupid wonder.

"His first name begins with a G and his last with a J," Floretta
tittered, and Ellen continued to look at her with the faintest
suspicion of a blush, because she had a feminine instinct that a
blush was in order, not because she knew of any reason for it.

"He is," said Floretta, with another exceedingly foolish giggle.
"My, you are as red as a beet."

"I ain't old enough to have a beau," Ellen said, her soft cheeks
becoming redder, and her baby face all in a tremor.

"Yes, you be," Floretta said, with authority, "because you are so
pretty, and have got such pretty curls. Ben Simonds said the other
day you were the prettiest girl in school."

"Then do you think he is my beau, too?" asked Ellen, innocently. But
Floretta frowned, and tittered, and hesitated.

"He said except one," she faltered out, finally.

"Well, who was that?" asked Ellen.

"How do I know?" pouted Floretta. "Mebbe it was me, though I don't
think I'm so very pretty."

"Then Ben Simonds is your beau," said Ellen, reflectively.

"Yes, I guess he is," admitted Floretta.

That night, amid much wonder and tender ridicule, Ellen told her
mother and Aunt Eva, and her father, that Ben Simonds was Floretta's
beau, and Granville Joy was hers. But Andrew laughed doubtfully.

"I don't want that little thing to get such ideas into her head yet
a while," he told Fanny afterwards, but she only laughed at him,
seeing nothing but the childish play of the thing; but he, being a
man, saw deeper.

However, Ellen's fondest new love was not for any of her little
mates, but for her school-teacher. To her the child's heart went out
in worship. All through the spring she offered her violets--violets
gathered laboriously after school in the meadow back of her
grandmother's house. She used to skip from hillock to hillock of
marsh grass with wary steps, lest she might slip and wet her feet in
the meadow ooze and incur her mother's displeasure, for Fanny, in
spite of her worship of the child, could speak with no uncertain
voice. She pulled up handfuls of the flowers, gleaming blue in the
dark-green hollows. Later she carried roses from the choice bush in
the yard, and, later, pears from her grandmother's tree. She used to
watch for Miss Mitchell at her gate and run to meet her, and seize
her hand and walk at her side, blushing with delight. Miss Mitchell
lived not far from Ellen, in a tidy white house with a handsome
smoke-tree on one side of the front walk and a willow with
upside-down branches on the other. Miss Mitchell had been born and
brought up in this house, but she had been teaching school in a
distant town ever since Ellen's day, so they had never been
acquainted before she went to school. Miss Mitchell lived alone with
her mother, who was an old friend of Mrs. Zelotes. Ellen privately
thought her rather better-looking than her own grandmother, though
her admiration was based upon wholly sentimental reasons. Old Mrs.
Mitchell might have earned more money in a museum of freaks than her
daughter in a district school. She was a mountain of rotundity, a
conjunction of palpitating spheres, but the soul that dwelt in this
painfully ponderous body was as mellow with affection and kindliness
as a ripe pear, and the voice that proceeded from her ever-smiling
lips was a hoarse and dove-like coo of love. Ellen at first started
a little aghast at this gigantic fleshliness, this general slough
and slump of outline, this insistency of repellent curves, and then
the old woman spoke and thrust out a great, soft hand, and the heart
of the child overleaped her artistic sense and her reason, and she
thought old Mrs. Mitchell beautiful. Mrs. Mitchell never failed to
regale her with a superior sort of cooky, and often with a covert
peppermint, and that although the Mitchells were not well off. The
old place was mortgaged, and Miss Mitchell had hard work to pay the
interest. Ellen had the vaguest ideas about the mortgage, and was
half inclined to think it might be a disfiguring patch in the
plastering of the sitting-room, which hung down in an unsightly
fashion with a disclosure of hairy edges, and threatened danger to
the heads underneath.

Often of a Saturday afternoon Ellen went to visit Miss Mitchell and
her mother, and really preferred them to friends of her own age.
Miss Mitchell had a store of superannuated paper dolls which dated
from her own childhood. Their quaint costumes, and old-fashioned
coiffures, and simpers were of overwhelming interest to Ellen. Even
at that early age she had a perception of the advantages of an
atmosphere to art, and even to the affections. Without understanding
it, she loved those obsolete paper-dolls and those women of former
generations better because they gave her breathing-scope for her
imagination. She could love Abby Atkins and Floretta Vining at one
bite, as it were, and that was the end of it, but she could sit and
ponder and dream over Miss Mitchell and her mother, and see whole
vistas of them in receding mirrors of affection.

As for the teacher and her mother, they simply adored the child--as
indeed everybody did. She continued at her first school for a year,
which was one of the hardest financially ever experienced in Rowe.
Norman Lloyd during all that time did not reopen his factory, and in
the autumn two others shut down. The streets were full of the
discontented ranks of impotent labor, and all the public buildings
were props for the weary shoulders of the unemployed. On pleasant
days the sunny sides of the vacant factories, especially, furnished
settings for lines of scowling faces of misery.

This atmosphere affected Ellen more than any one realized, since the
personal bearing of it was kept from her. She did not know that her
father was drawing upon his precious savings for daily needs, she
did not know how her aunt Eva and her uncle Jim were getting into
greater difficulties every day, but she was too sensitive not to be
aware of disturbances which were not in direct contact with herself.
She never forgot what she had overheard that night Lloyd's had shut
down; it was always like a blot upon the face of her happy
consciousness of life. She often overheard, as then, those loud,
dissenting voices of her father and his friends in the sitting-room,
after she had gone to bed; and then, too, Abby Atkins, who was not
spared any knowledge of hardship, told her a good deal. "It's awful
the way them rich folks treat us," said Abby Atkins. "They own the
shops and everything, and take all the money, and let our folks do
all the work. It's awful. But then," continued Abby Atkins,
comfortingly, "your father has got money saved in the bank, and he
owns his house, so you can get along if he don't have work. My
father 'ain't got any, and he's got the old-fashioned consumption,
and he coughs, and it takes money for his medicine. Then mother's
sick a good deal too, and has to have medicine. We have to have more
medicine than most anything else, and we hardly ever have any pie or
cake, and it's all the fault of them rich folks."  Abby Atkins wound
up with a tragic climax and a fierce roll of her black eyes.

That evening Ellen went in to see her grandmother, and was presented
with some cookies, which she did not eat.

"Why don't you eat them?" Mrs. Zelotes asked.

"Can I have them to do just what I want to with?" asked Ellen.

"What on earth do you want to do with a cooky except eat it?" Ellen
blushed; she had a shamed-faced feeling before a contemplated
generosity.

"What do you want to do with them except eat them?" her grandmother
asked, severely.

"Abby Atkins don't have any cookies 'cause her father's out of
work," said Ellen, abashedly.

"Did that Atkins girl ask you to bring her cookies?"

"No, ma'am."

"You can do jest what you are a mind to with 'em," Mrs. Zelotes
said, abruptly.

Ellen never knew why her grandmother insisted upon her drinking a
little glass of very nice and very spicy cordial before she went
home, but the truth was, that Mrs. Zelotes thought the child so
angelic in this disposition to give up the cookies which she loved
to her little friend that she was straightway alarmed and thought
her too good to live.

The next day she told Fanny, and said to her, with her old face
stern with anxiety, that the child was lookin' real pindlin', and
Ellen had to take bitters for a month afterwards because she gave
the cookies to Abby Atkins.



Chapter XIII


In all growth there is emulation and striving for precedence between
the spiritual and the physical, and this very emulation may
determine the rate of progression of the whole. Sometimes the one,
sometimes the other, may be in advance, but all the time the
tendency is towards the distant goal. Sometimes the two keep
abreast, and then there is the greatest harmony in speed. In Ellen
Brewster at twelve and fifteen the spiritual outstripped the
physical, as is often the case. Her eyes grew intense and hollow
with reflection under knitting brows, her thin shoulders stooped
like those of a sage bent with study and contemplation. She was
slender to emaciation; her clothes hung loosely over her form, which
seemed as sexless as a lily-stem; indeed, her body seemed only made
for the head, which was flower-like and charming, but almost painful
in its delicacy, and with such weight of innocent pondering upon the
unknown conditions of things in which she found herself. At times,
of course, there were ebullitions of youthful spirit, and the child
was as inconsequent as a kitten. At those times she was neither
child nor woman; she was an anomalous thing made up not so much of
actualities as of instincts. She romped with her mates as unseen and
uncomprehended of herself as any young animal, but the flame of her
striving spirit made everything full of unread meaning.

Ellen was accounted a most remarkable scholar. She had left Miss
Mitchell's school, and was in one of a higher grade. At fifteen she
entered the high-school and had a master.

Andrew was growing old fast in those days, though not so old as to
years. Though he was far from old, his hair was gray, his back bent.
He moved with a weary shuffle. The men in the shop began to eye him
furtively. "Andrew Brewster will get fired next," they said. "The
boss 'ain't no use for men with the first snap gone."  Indeed,
Andrew was constantly given jobs of lower grades, which did not pay
so well. Whenever the force was reduced on account of dulness in
trade, Andrew was one of the first to be laid aside on waiting
orders in the regular army of toil. On one of these occasions, in
the spring after Ellen was fifteen, his first fit of recklessness
seized him. One night, after loafing a week, he came home with fever
spots in his cheeks and a curiously bright, strained look in his
eyes. Fanny gazed sharply at him across the supper-table. Finally
she laid down her knife and fork, rested her elbows on the table,
and fixed her eyes commandingly upon him. "Andrew Brewster, what is
the matter?" said she. Ellen turned her flower-like face towards her
father, who took a swallow of tea without saying a word, though he
shuffled his feet uneasily. "Andrew, you answer me," repeated Fanny.

"There ain't anything the matter," answered Andrew, with a strange
sullenness for him.

"There is, too. Now, Andrew Brewster, I ain't goin' to be put off. I
know you're on the shelf on account of hard times, so it ain't that.
It's something new. Now I want to know what it is."

"It ain't anything."

"Yes, it is. Andrew, you ought to tell me. You know I ain't afraid
to bear anything that you have to bear, and Ellen is getting old
enough now, so she can understand, and she can't always be spared.
She'd better get a little knowledge of hardships while she has us to
help her bear 'em."

"This ain't a hardship, and there ain't anything to spare, Ellen,"
said Andrew; and he laughed with a hilarity totally unlike him.

That was all Fanny could get out of him, but she was half reassured.
She told Eva that she didn't believe but he had been buying some
Christmas present that he knew was extravagant for Ellen, and was
afraid to tell her because he knew she would scold. But Andrew had
not been buying Christmas presents, but speculating in mining
stocks. He had resisted the temptation long. Year in and year out he
had heard the talk right and left in the shop, on the street, and at
the store of an evening. "I'll give you a point," he had heard one
say to another during a discussion as to prices and dividends. He
had heard it all described as a short cross-cut over the fields of
hard labor to wealth and comfort, and he had kept his face straight
ahead in his narrow track of caution and hereditary instincts until
then. "The savings bank is good enough for me," he used to say;
"that's where my father kept his money. I don't know anything about
your stocks. I'd rather have a little and have it safe."  The men
could not reason him out of his position, not even when Billy Monroe
made fifteen hundred dollars on a Colorado mine which had cost him
fifteen cents per share, and left the shop, and drove a fast horse
in a Goddard buggy.

It was even reported that fifteen hundred was fifteen thousand, but
Andrew was proof against this brilliant loadstar of success, though
many of his mates followed it afar, just before the shares dropped
below par.

Jim Tenny went with the rest. "Tell you what 'tis, Andrew, old man,"
he said, clapping Andrew on the shoulder as they were going out of
the shop one night, "you'd better go in too."

"The savings-bank is good enough for me," said Andrew, with his
gentle doggedness.

"You can buy a trotter," urged Jim.

"I never was much on trotters," replied Andrew.

"I ain't going to walk home many times more, you bet," Jim said to
Eva when he got home, and then he bent back her tensely set face and
kissed it. Eva was crocheting hoods for fifteen cents apiece for a
neighboring woman who was a padrone on a small scale, having taken a
large order from a dealer for which she realized twenty cents
apiece, and employed all the women in the neighborhood to do the
work.

"Why not?" said she.

"Oh," said Jim, gayly, "I've bought some of that 'Golden Hope'
mining stock. Billy Monroe has just made fifteen thousand on it, and
I'll make as much in a week or two."

"Oh, Jim, you 'ain't taken all the money out of the bank?"

"Don't you worry, old girl," replied Jim. "I guess you'll find I can
take care of you yet."

But the stock went down, and Jim's little venture with it.

"Guess you were about right, old man," he said to Andrew.

Andrew was rather looked up to for his superior caution and
sagacity. He was continually congratulated upon it. "Savings-banks
are good enough for me," he kept repeating. But that was four years
ago, and now his turn had come; the contagion of speculation had
struck him at last. That was the way with Lloyd's failing employés.

Andrew kept his stock certificate in a little, tin, trunk-shaped box
which had belonged to his father. It had a key and a tiny padlock,
and he had always stored in it the deed of his house, his
savings-bank book, and his insurance policy. He carried the key in
his pocket. Fanny never opened the box, or had any curiosity about
it, believing that she was acquainted with its contents; but now
when, on coming unexpectedly into the bedroom--the box was always
kept at the head of the bed--she heard a rattle of papers, and
caught Andrew locking the box with a confused air, she began to
suspect something. She began to look hard at the box, to take it up
and shake it when her husband was away. Fanny was crocheting hoods
as well as Eva. Ellen wished to learn, but her mother would not
allow that. "You've got enough to do to study your lessons," she
said. Andrew watched his wife crochet with ill-concealed impatience.

"I ain't goin' to have you do that long," he said--"workin' at that
rate for no more money. That Mrs. William Pendergrass that lets out
these hoods is as bad as any factory boss in the country."

"Well, she got the chance," said Fanny, "and they won't let out the
work except that way; they can get it done so much cheaper."

"Well, you sha'n't have it, anyhow," said Andrew, smiling
mysteriously.

"Why, you ain't goin' to work again, be you, Andrew?"

"You wait."

"Well, don't you talk the way poor Jim did. Eva wasn't going to
crochet any more hoods, and now Jim's out of work again. Eva told me
yesterday that she didn't know where the money was comin' from.
Jim's mother owns the place, and it ain't worth much, anyhow, and
they can't take it from her in her lifetime, even if she was willing
to let it go. Eva said she was goin' to try again for work herself
in the shop. She thought maybe there might be some kind of a job she
could get. Don't you talk like Jim did about his good-for-nothin'
mining stock. I've been glad enough that you had sense enough to
keep what little we had where 'twas safe."

"Ain't it most time for Ellen to be comin' home?" asked Andrew, to
turn the conversation, as he felt somewhat guilty and uncomfortable,
though his eyes were jubilant. He had very little doubt about the
success of his venture. As it is with a man who yields to love for
the first time in his life, it was with Andrew in his tardy
subjection to the hazards of fortune. He was a much more devoted
slave than those who had long wooed her. He had always taken nothing
but the principal newspaper published in Rowe, but now he subscribed
to a Boston paper, the one which had the fullest financial column,
though Fanny exclaimed at his extravagance.

Along in midsummer, in the midst of Ellen's vacation, the mining
stock dropped fast a point or more a day. Andrew's heart began to
sink, though he was far from losing hope. He used to talk it over
with the men who advised him to buy, and come home fortified.

All he had to do was to be patient; the fall meant nothing wrong
with the mine, only the wrangle of speculators. "It's like a
football, first on one side, and then on the other," said the man,
"but the football's there all the same, and if it's that you want,
you're all right."

One night when Nahum Beals and Atkins and John Sargent were in,
Andrew repeated this wisdom, concealing the fact of its personal
application. He was anxious to have some confirmation.

"I suppose it's about so," he said.

Then John Sargent spoke up. "No, it is not so," he said--"that is,
not in many cases. There isn't any football--that's the trouble.
There's nothing but the money; a lot of fools have paid for it when
it never existed out of their imagination."

"About so," said Nahum Beals. Andrew and Atkins exchanged glances.
Atkins was at once sympathizing and triumphant.

"Lots of those things appear to be doing well, and to be all right,"
said Andrew, uneasily. "The directors keep saying that they are in a
prosperous condition, even if the stock drops."  He almost betrayed
himself.

John Sargent laughed that curious, inflexible laugh of his. "Lord, I
know all about that," said he. "I had some once. First one thing and
then another came up to hinder the working of the mine and the
payments of dividends. First there wasn't any water, an
unprecedented dry season in those parts, oldest inhabitants for
evidence. Then there was too much water, no way to mine except they
employed professional divers, everything under water. Then the
transportation was to pay; then, when that was remedied, the ore
didn't come out in shape to transport in the rough and had to be
worked up on the premises, and new mills had to be built and new
machinery put in, and a few little Irish dividends were collected
for that. Then when they got the mills up and the machinery in, they
struck another kind of ore that ought to be transported; then there
came a landslide and carried half the road into a cañon. So it went
on, one thing and another. If ever that darned mine had got into
working order, right kind of ore, water enough and not too much,
roads and machinery all right, and everything swimming, the Day of
Judgment would have come."

"Did you ever get anything out of it?" inquired Andrew.

"Anything out of it?" repeated the other. "Yes, I got enough worldly
wisdom never to buy any more mining stock, after I had paid
assessments on it for two years and the whole thing went to pieces."

"It may come up yet," said Andrew.

"There's nothing to come up," said John Sargent. He had been away
from Rowe a year, but had just returned, and was again boarding with
Atkins, and all the family lived on his board money. Andrew and
Nahum Beals were smoking pipes. Andrew gently, like a philosopher,
who smokes that he may dream; Nahum with furious jets and frequent
removals of his pipe for scowling speeches. John Sargent did not
smoke at all. He had left off cigars first, then even his pipe. He
gave the money which he saved thereby to Mrs. Atkins as a bonus on
his board money.

The lamp burned dimly in the blue fog of tobacco smoke, and the
windows where the curtains were not drawn were blanks of silvery
moonlight. Ellen sat on the doorstep outside and heard the talk. She
did not understand it, nor take much interest in it. Their minds
were fixed upon the way of living, and hers upon life itself. She
could bring her simplicity to bear upon the world-old question of
riches and poverty and labor, but this temporal adjunct of stocks
and markets was as yet beyond her. Her mother had gone to her aunt
Eva's and she sat alone out in the wide mystery of the summer night,
watching the lovely shift of radiance and shadows, as she might have
watched the play of a kaleidoscope, seeing the beauty of the new
combinations, and seeing without comprehending the unit which
governed them all. The night was full of cries of insistent life and
growth, of birds and insects, of calls of children, and now and then
the far-away roar of railroad trains. It was nearly midsummer. The
year was almost at its height, but had not passed it. Growth and
bloom was still in the ascendant, and had not yet attained that
maturity of perfection beyond which is the slope of death.

Everywhere about her were the revolutions of those unseen wheels of
nature whose immortal trend is towards the completion of time, and
whose momentum can overlap the grave; and the child was within them
and swept onward with the perfecting flowers, and the ripening
fruit, and the insects which were feeling their wings; and all
unconsciously, in a moment as it were, she unfolded a little farther
towards her own heyday of bloom. Suddenly from those heights of the
primitive and the eternal upon which a child starts and where she
still lingered she saw her future before her, shining with new
lights, and a wonderful conviction of bliss to come was over her. It
was that conviction which comes at times to all unconquered souls,
and which has the very essence of truth in it, since it overleaps
the darkness of life that lies between them and that bliss. Suddenly
Ellen felt that she was born to great happiness, and all that was to
come was towards that end. Her heart beat loud in her ears. There
was a whippoorwill calling in some trees to the left; the moon was
dim under a golden dapple of clouds. She could not feel her hands or
her feet; she seemed to feel nothing except her soul.

Then she heard, loud and sweet and clear, a boy's whistle, one of
the popular tunes of the day. It came nearer and nearer, and it was
in the same key with the child's thoughts and dreams. Then she saw a
slender figure dark against the moonlight stop at a fence, and she
jumped up and ran towards it with no hesitation through the dewy
grass; and it was the boy, Granville Joy. He stood looking at her.
He had a handsome, eager face, and Ellen looked at him, her lips
parted, her face like a lily in the white light.

"Hulloo," said the boy.

"Hulloo," Ellen responded, faintly.

Granville extended one rough, brown, boyish hand over the fence, and
Ellen laid her little, soft hand in it. He pulled her gently close,
then Ellen lifted her face, and the boy bent his, and the two kissed
each other over the fence. Then the boy went on down the street, but
he did not whistle, and Ellen went back to the doorstep, and,
looking about to be sure that none of the men in the sitting-room
saw, pulled off one little shoe and drew forth a sprig of
southernwood, or boy's-love, which was crushed under her foot.

That day Floretta Vining had told her that if she would put a sprig
of boy's-love in her shoe, the very first boy she met would be the
one she was going to marry; and Ellen, who was passing from one
grade of school to another, had tried it.



Chapter XIV


The high-school master was a distant relative of the Lloyd's,
through whom he had obtained the position. One evening when he was
taking tea with them at Cynthia Lennox's, he spoke of Ellen. "I have
one really remarkable scholar," he said, with a curious air of
self-gratulation, as if he were principally responsible for it; "her
name is Brewster--Ellen Brewster."

"Good land! That must be the child that ran away five or six years
ago, and all the town up in arms over it," said Mrs. Norman Lloyd.
"Don't you remember, Cynthia?"

"Yes," replied Cynthia, and continued pouring tea. Cynthia was very
little changed. In some faces time seems to engrave lines
delicately, once for all, and then lay by. She was rather more
charming now than when one had looked at her with any expectancy of
youth, since there was now no sense of disappointment.

"I remember that," said Norman Lloyd. "The child would never tell
where she had been. A curious case."

"Well," said the school-master, "leaving that childish episode out
of the question, she has a really remarkable mind. If she were a
boy, I should advise a thorough education and a profession. I should
as it is, if her family were able to bear the expense. She has that
intuitive order of mind which is wonderful enough, though not, after
all, so rare in a girl; but in addition she has the logical, which,
according to my experience, is almost unknown in a woman. She ought
to have an education."

"But," said Risley, "what is the use of educating that unfortunate
child?"

"What do you mean?"

"What I say. What is the use? There she is in her sphere of life,
the daughter of a factory operative, in all probability in
after-years to be the wife of one and the mother of others. Nothing
but a rich marriage can save her, and that she is not likely to
make. Milk-maids are more likely to make rich marriages than factory
girls; there is a certain savor of romance about milk, and the dewy
meadows, and the breath of kine, but a shoe factory is brutally
realistic and illusionary. Now, why do you want to increase the poor
child's horizon farther than her little feet can carry her? Fit her
to be a good female soldier in the ranks of labor, to be a good wife
and mother to the makers of shoes, to wash and iron their uniforms
of toil, to cook well the food which affords them the requisite
nourishment to make shoes, to appreciate book-lore, which is a
pleasure and a profit to the makers of shoes; possibly in the
non-event of marriage she will make shoes herself. The system of
education in our schools is all wrong. It is both senseless and
futile. Look at the children filing past to school, and look at
their fathers, and their mothers too, filing past to the factory.
Look at their present, and look at their future. And look at the
trash taught them in their text-books--trash from its utter
dissociation with their lives. You might as well teach a Zulu
lace-work, instead of the use of the assagai."

"Now look here, Mr. Risley," said the school-master, his face
flushing, "is not--I beg your pardon, of course--this view of yours
a little narrow and ultra-conservative? You do not want to establish
a permanent factory-operative class in this country, do you? That is
what your theory would ultimately tend towards. Ought not these
children be given their chance to rise in the ranks; ought they to
be condemned to tread in the same path as their fathers?"

"I would have those little paths which intersect every unoccupied
field in this locality worn by the feet of these men and their
children after them unto the third and fourth generation," said
Risley. "If not, where is our skilled labor?"

"Oh, Mr. Risley," said Mrs. Lloyd, anxiously, "you wouldn't want all
those dear little children to work as hard as their fathers, and not
do any better, would you?"

"If they don't, who is going to make our shoes, dear Mrs. Lloyd?"
asked Risley.

Mrs. Lloyd and the school-master stared at him, and Lloyd laughed
his low, almost mirthless laugh.

"Don't you know, Edward," he said, "that Mr. Risley is not in
earnest, and speaks with the deadly intent of an anarchist with a
bomb in his bag? He is the most out-and-out radical in the country.
If there were a strike, and I did not yield to the demands of the
oppressed, and imported foreign labor, I don't know that my life
would be safe from him."

"Then you do approve of a higher education?" asked the
school-master, while Mrs. Lloyd stared from one to the other in
bewilderment.

"Yes, if we and our posterity have to go barefoot," said Risley,
laughing out with a sudden undertone of seriousness.

"I suppose everybody could get accustomed to going barefoot after a
while," said Mrs. Lloyd. "Do you suppose that dear little thing was
barefooted when she ran away, Cynthia?"

Risley answered as if he had been addressed. "I can vouch for the
fact that she was not, Mrs. Lloyd," he said. "They would sooner have
walked on red-hot ploughshares themselves than let her."

"Her father is getting quite an old man," Norman Lloyd said, with no
apparent relevancy, as if he were talking to himself.

All the time Cynthia Lennox had been quietly sitting at the head of
the table. When the rest of the company had gone, and she and Risley
were alone, seated in the drawing-room before the parlor fire, for
it was a chilly day, she turned her fair, worn face towards him on
the crimson velvet of her chair. "Do you know why I did not speak
and tell them where the child was that time?" she asked.

"Because of your own good sense?"

"No; because of you."

He looked at her adoringly. She was older than he, her beauty rather
recorded than still evident on her face; she had been to him from
the first like a fair, forbidden flower behind a wall of
prohibition, but nothing could alter his habit of loving her.

"Yes," said she. "It was more on your account than on my own;
confession would be good for the soul. The secret has always rankled
in my pride. I would much rather defy opinion than fly before it.
But I know that you would mind. However, there was another reason."

"What?"

She hesitated a little and colored, even laughed a little,
embarrassed laugh which was foreign to her. "Well, Lyman," said she,
finally, "one reason why I did not speak was that I see my way clear
to making up to that child and her parents for any wrong which I may
have done them by causing them a few hours' anxiety. When she has
finished the high-school I mean to send her to college."



Chapter XV


When Ellen was about sixteen, in her second year at the high-school,
her own family never looked at her without a slight shock of
wonder, as before the unexpected. Her mates, being themselves
in the transition state, received her unquestioningly as a
fellow-traveller, and colored like themselves with the new lights of
the journey. But Ellen's father and mother and grandmother never
ceased regarding her with astonishment and admiration and something
like alarm. While they regarded Ellen with the utmost pride, they
still privately regretted this perfection of bloom which was the
forerunner of independence of the parent stalk--at least, Andrew
did. Andrew had grown older and more careworn; his mine had not yet
paid any dividends, but he had scattering jobs of work, and with his
wife's assistance had managed to rub along, and his secret was still
safe.

One day in February there was a half-holiday. Lloyd's was shut for
the rest of the day, for his brother in St. Louis was dead, and had
been brought to Rowe to be buried, and his funeral was at two
o'clock.

"Goin' to the funeral, old man?" one of Andrew's fellow-workmen had
asked, jostling him as he went out of the shop at noon. Before
Andrew could answer, another voice broke in fiercely. It belonged to
Joseph Atkins, who was ghastly that day.

"I ain't goin' to no funerals," he said; "guess they won't shut up
shop for mine."  Then he coughed. His daughter Abby, who had been
working in the factory for some time then, pressed close behind her
father, and the expression in her face was an echo of his.

"When I strike, that's what I'm going to strike for--to have the
shop shut up the day of my funeral," said she; and the remark had a
ghastly flippancy, contradicted by her intense manner. A laugh went
around, and a young fellow with a handsome, unshaven face caught her
by the arm.

"You'd better strike to have the shop shut up the day you're
married," said he; but Abby flung away from him.

"I'll thank you to let me alone, Tom Hardy," she said, with a snap;
and the men laughed harder.

Abby was attractive to men in spite of her smallness and leanness
and incisiveness of manner. She was called mighty smart and dry,
which was the shop synonym for witty, and her favors, possibly
because she never granted them, were accounted valuable. Abby Atkins
had more admirers than many a girl who was prettier and presumably
more winning in every way, and could have married twice to their
once. But Abby had no wish for a lover. "I've got all I can do to
earn my own living and the living of them that belong to me," said
she.

That afternoon Andrew Brewster stayed at home. After dinner Eva
Tenny and her little girl came in, and Ellen went down street on an
errand.

Mrs. Zelotes Brewster was crossing her yard to her son's house when
she saw Ellen passing, and paused to gaze at her with that superb
pride which pertains to self and is yet superior to it. It was the
idealized pride of her own youth. When she proceeded again against
the February gusts, it was with an unconscious aping of her
granddaughter's freedom of gait. Mrs. Zelotes wore an old red
cashmere scarf crossed over her bosom; she held up her black skirts
in front, and they trailed pointedly in the rear; she also stood
well back on her heels, and when she paused in the wind-swept yard
presented a curious likeness to an old robin pausing for
reconnoitre. Fanny and Eva Tenny in the next house saw her coming.

"Look at her holding up her dress in front and letting it drag in
the back," said Eva. "It always seemed to me there was somethin'
wrong about any woman that held up her dress in front and let it
drag behind."

Eva retained all the coarse beauty of her youth, but lines of
unalterable hardness were fixed on her forehead and at her mouth
corners, and the fierce flush in her cheeks was as set as paint. Her
beauty had endured the siege; no guns of mishaps could affect it,
but that charm of evanescence which awakens tenderness was gone. Jim
Tenny's affection seemed to be waning, and Eva looked at herself in
the glass even when bedecked with tawdry finery, and owned that she
did not wonder. She strained up her hair into the latest perkiness
of twist, and crimped it, and curled her feathers, and tied her
ribbons not as much in hope as in a stern determination to do her
part towards the furbishing of her faded star of attraction. "Jim
don't act as if he thought so much of me, an' I dun'no' as I
wonder," she told her sister.

Fanny looked at her critically. "You mean you ain't so good-lookin'
as you used to be?" said she.

Eva nodded.

"Well, if that is all men care for us," said Fanny.

"It ain't," said Eva, "only it's the key to it. It's like losin' the
key and not bein' able to get in the door in consequence."

"It wa'n't my husband's key," said Fanny, with a glance at her own
face, faded as to feature and bloom, but intensified as to love and
daily duty, like that of a dog sharpened to one faithfulness of
existence.

"Andrew ain't Jim," said Eva, shortly.

"I know he ain't," Fanny assented, with emphasis.

"But I wouldn't swap off my husband for a dozen of yours," said Eva.

"Well, I wouldn't swap off mine for a thousand of yours," returned
Fanny, sharply; and there might have been one of the old-time
tussles between the sisters had not Eva's violent, half-bitter sense
of humor averted it. She broke into a hard laugh.

"Good Lord," she said, "I dun'no' as I should want a thousand like
Jim. Seems to me it would be considerable care."

Fanny began to speak, but checked herself. She had heard rumors
regarding Jim Tenny of late and had flown fiercely with denial at
the woman who told her, and had not repeated them to her sister.

She was thinking how she had heard that Jim had been seen driving in
Wenham with Aggie Morse several times lately. Aggie Morse had been
Aggie Bemis, Jim's old sweetheart. She had married a well-to-do
merchant in Wenham, who died six months before and left her with
considerable property. It was her own smart little turn-out in which
she had been seen with Jim.

Eva was working in the shop, and Jim had been out of employment for
nearly a year, and living on his wife. There was a demand for girls
and not for men just then, so Jim loafed. His old mother cared for
the house as well as she was able, and Eva did the rest nights and
mornings. At first Jim had tried to help about the house-work, but
Eva had interfered.

"It ain't a man's work," said she. "Your mother can leave the hard
part of it till I get home."  Eva used to put the money she earned
surreptitiously into her husband's pockets that he might not feel
his manly pride injured, but she defeated her own ends by her very
solicitude. Jim Tenny began to reason that his wife saw his shame
and ignominious helplessness, else she would not have been so
anxious to cover it. The stoop of discouragement which Eva used to
fear for his shoulders did not come, but, instead, something
worse--the defiant set-back of recklessness. He took his wife's
earnings and despised himself. Whenever he paid a bill, he was sure
the men in the store said, the minute his back was turned, "It's his
wife's money that paid for that."  He took to loafing on sunny
corners, and eying the passers-by with the blank impudence of regard
of those outside the current of life. When his wife passed by on her
way from the shop he nodded to her as if she were a stranger, and
presently followed her home at a distance. He would not be seen on
the street with her if he could avoid it. If by any chance when he
was standing on his corner of idleness his little girl came past, he
melted away imperceptibly. He could not bear it that the child
should see him standing there in that company of futility and openly
avowed inadequacy. The child was a keen-eyed, slender little girl,
resembling neither father nor mother, but looking rather like her
paternal grandmother, who was a fair, attenuated woman, with an
intelligence which had sharpened on herself for want of anything
more legitimate, and worn her out by the unnatural friction. The
little Amabel, for Eva had been romantic in the naming of her child,
was an old-fashioned-looking child in spite of Eva's careful
decoration of the little figure in the best childish finery which
she could muster.

Little Amabel was reading a child's book at another window. When
Mrs. Zelotes entered she eyed her with the sharpness and inscrutable
conclusions therefrom of a kitten, then turned a leaf in her book.

When Mrs. Zelotes had greeted her daughter-in-law and Eva, she
looked with disapproval at Amabel.

"When I was a little girl I should have been punished if I hadn't
got up and curtsied and said good-afternoon when company came in,"
she remarked, severely.

Amabel was not a favorite outside of her own family. People used to
stare aghast at her unexpected questions and demands delivered in a
shrill clarion as from some summit of childish wisdom, and they said
she was a queer child. She yielded always to command from utter
helplessness, but the why of obedience was strongly alert within
her. The child might have been in some subtle and uncanny fashion
the offspring of her age and generation instead of her natural
parents, she was so unlike either of them, and so much a product of
the times, with her meekness and slavishness of weakness and
futility, and her unquenchable and unconquerable vitality of
dissent.

Ellen adored the little Amabel. Presently, when she returned from
her errand down-town, she cried out with delight when she saw her;
and the child ran to meet her, and clung to her, with her flaxen
head snuggled close to her cheek. Ellen caught the child up, seated
herself, and sat cuddling her as she used to cuddle her doll.

"You dear little thing!" she murmured, "you dear little thing! You
did come to see Ellen, didn't you?"  And the child gazed up in the
young girl's face with a rapt expression. Nothing can express the
admiration, which is almost as unquestionable as worship, of a very
little girl for a big one. Amabel loved her mother with a rather
unusual intensity for a child, but Ellen was what she herself would
be when she was grown up. Through Ellen her love of self and her
ambition budded into blossom. Ellen could do nothing wrong because
she did what she herself would do when she was grown. She never
questioned Ellen for her reasons.

Mrs. Zelotes kept looking at the two, with pride in Ellen and
disapproval of her caresses of the child. "Seems to me you might
speak to your own folks as well as to have no eyes for anybody but
that child," she said, finally.

"Why, grandma, I spoke to you just a little while ago," returned
Ellen. "You know I saw you just a few minutes before I went
down-town."  Ellen straightened the child on her knees, and began to
try to twist her soft, straight flaxen locks into curls. Andrew
lounged in from the kitchen and sat down and regarded Ellen fondly.
The girl's cheeks were a splendid color from her walk in the cold
wind, her hair around her temples caught the light from the window,
and seemed to wreathe her head with a yellow flame. She tossed the
child about with lithe young arms, whose every motion suggested
reserves of tender strength. Ellen was more beautiful than she had
ever been before, and yet something was gone from her face, though
only temporarily, since the lines for the vanished meaning was still
there. All the introspection and dreaminess and poetry of her face
were gone, for the girl was, for the time, overbalanced on the
physical side of her life. The joy of existence for itself alone was
intoxicating her. The innocent frivolities of her sex had seized her
too, and the instincts which had not yet reached her brain nor gone
farther than her bounding pulses of youth. "Ellen is getting real
fond of dress," Fanny often said to Andrew. He only laughed at that.
"Well, pretty birds like pretty feathers, and no wonder," said he.
But he did not laugh when Fanny added that Ellen seemed to think
more about the boys than she used to. There was scarcely a boy in
the high-school who was not Ellen's admirer. It was a curious
happening in those days when Ellen was herself in much less degree
the stuff of which dreams are made than she had been and would be
thereafter, that she was the object of so many. Every morning when
she entered the school-room she was reflected in a glorious multiple
of ideals in no one could tell how many boyish hearts. Floretta
Vining began to imitate her, and kept close to Ellen with supremest
diplomacy, that she might thereby catch some of the crumbs of
attention which fell from Ellen's full table. Often when some happy
boy had secured a short monopoly of Ellen, his rival took up with
Floretta, and she was content, being one of those purely feminine
things who have no pride when the sweets of life are concerned.
Floretta dressed her hair like Ellen's, and tied her neck-ribbons
the same way; she held her head like her, she talked like her,
except when the two girls were absolutely alone; then she sometimes
relapsed suddenly, to Ellen's bewilderment, into her own ways, and
her blue eyes took on an expression as near animosity as her
ingratiating politic nature could admit.

Ellen did not affiliate as much with Floretta as with Maria Atkins.
Abby had gone to work in the shop, and so Ellen did not see so much
of her. Maria was not as much a favorite with the boys as she had
been since they had passed and not yet returned to that stage when
feminine comradeship satisfies; so Ellen used to confide in her with
a surety of sympathy and no contention. Once, when the girls were
sleeping together, Ellen made a stupendous revelation to Maria,
having first bound her to inviolable secrecy. "I love a boy," said
she, holding Maria's little arm tightly.

"I know who," said Maria, with a hushed voice.

"He kissed me once, and then I knew it," said Ellen.

"Well, I guess he loves you," said Maria. Ellen shivered and drew a
fluttering sigh of assent. Then the two girls lay in each other's
arms, looking at the moonlight which streamed in through the window.
God knew in what realms of pure romance, and of passion so
sublimated by innocence that no tinge of earthliness remained, the
two wandered in their dreams.

At last, that afternoon in February, Ellen put down little Amabel
and got out her needle-work. She was making a lace neck-tie for her
own adornment. She showed it to her grandmother at her mother's
command. "It's real pretty," said Mrs. Zelotes. "Ellen takes after
the Brewsters; they were always handy with their needles."

"Can uncle sew?" asked little Amabel, suddenly, from her corner, in
a tone big with wonder.

Eva and the others chuckled, but Mrs. Zelotes eyed the child
severely. "Little girls shouldn't ask silly questions," said she.

Andrew passed his hand with a rough caress over the small flaxen
head. "Uncle Andrew can't sew anything but shoes," said he.

Little Amabel's question had aroused in Mrs. Zelotes a carping
spirit even against Ellen. Presently she turned to her. "I heard
something about you," said she. "I want to know if it is true. I
heard that you were walking home from school with that Joy boy one
day last week."  Ellen looked at her grandmother without flinching,
though the pink was over her face and neck.

"Yes'm, I did," said she.

"Well, I think it's about time it was put a stop to," said Mrs.
Zelotes. "That Joy boy!"

Then Fanny lost her temper. "I can manage my own daughter, Grandma
Brewster," said she, "and I'll thank you to attend to your own
affairs."

"You don't seem to know enough to manage her," retorted Mrs.
Zelotes, "if you let her go traipsin' round with that Joy boy."

The warfare waged high for a time. Andrew withdrew to the kitchen.
Ellen took little Amabel up in her own chamber and showed her her
beautiful doll, which looked not a day older, so carefully had she
been cherished, than when she first had her. Ellen felt both
resentment and shame, and also a fierce dawning of partisanship
towards Granville Joy. "Why should my grandmother speak of him so
scornfully?" she asked herself. "He is a real good boy."

That night was very cold, a night full of fierce white glitter of
frost and moonlight, and raging with a turbulence of winds. Ellen
lay awake listening to them. Presently between the whistle of the
wind she heard another, a familiar pipe from a boyish throat. She
sprang out of bed and peeped from her window, and there was a dark,
slight figure out in the yard, and he was looking up at her window,
whistling. Shame, and mirth, and also exultation, which overpowered
them both, stirred within the child's breast. She had read of things
like this. Here was her boy lover coming out this bitter night just
for the sake of looking up at her window. She adored him for it.
Then she heard a window raised with a violent rasp across the yard,
and saw her grandmother's night-capped head thrust forth. She heard
her shrill, imperious voice call out quite distinctly, "Boy, who be
you?"

The lovelorn whistler ceased his pipe, and evidently, had he
consulted his own discretion, would have shown a pair of flying
heels, but he walked bravely up to the window and the night-capped
head and replied. Ellen could not hear what he said, but she
distinguished plainly enough her grandmother's concluding remarks.

"Go home," cried Mrs. Zelotes; "go home just as fast as you can and
go to bed. Go home!"  Mrs. Zelotes made a violent shooting motion
with her hands and her white head as if he were a cat, and Granville
Joy obeyed. However, Ellen heard his brave, retreating whistle far
down the road. She went back to bed, and lay awake with a fervor of
young love roused into a flame by opposition swelling high in her
heart. But the next afternoon, after school, Ellen, to Granville
Joy's great bliss and astonishment, insinuated herself, through the
crowd of out-going scholars, close to him, and presently, had he not
been so incredulous, for he was a modest boy, he would have said it
was by no volition of his own that he found himself walking down the
street with her. And when they reached his house, which was only
half-way to her own, she looked at him with such a wistful surprise
as he motioned to leave her that he could not mistake it, and he
walked on at her side quite to her own house. Granville Joy was a
gentle boy, young for his age, which was a year more than Ellen's.
He had a face as gentle as a girl's, and really beautiful. Women all
loved him, and the school-girls raised an admiring treble chorus in
his praise whenever his name was spoken. He was saved from
effeminacy by nervous impulses which passed for sustained manly
daring. "He once licked a boy a third bigger than he was, and you
needn't call him sissy," one girl said once to a decrying friend.
To-day, as the boy and girl neared Mrs. Zelotes's house, Granville
was conscious of an inward shrinking before the remembrance of the
terrible old lady. He expected every minute to hear the grating
upward slide of the window and that old voice, which had in it a
terrible intimidation of feminine will. Granville had a mother as
gentle as himself, and a woman with the strength of her own
conviction upon her filled him with awe as of something anomalous.
He wondered uneasily what he should do if the old lady were to hail
him and call him to an account again, whether it would be a more
manly course to face her, or obey, since she was Ellen's
grandmother. He kept an uneasy eye upon the house, and presently,
when he saw the stern old face at the window, he quailed a little.
But Ellen for the first time in her life took his arm, and the two
marched past under the fire of Mrs. Zelotes's gaze. Ellen had
retaliated, not nobly, but as naturally under the conditions of her
life at that time as the branch of a tree blows east before the west
wind.

[Illustration: He found himself walking home from school with her]



Chapter XVI


Ellen, when she graduated, was openly pronounced the flower of her
class. Not a girl equalled her, not a boy surpassed her. When Ellen
came home one night about two months before her graduation, and
announced that she was to have the valedictory, such a light of pure
joy flashed over her mother's face that she looked ten years
younger.

"Well, I guess your father will be pleased enough," she said. She
was hard at work, finishing women's wrappers of cheap cotton. The
hood industry had failed some time before, since the hoods had gone
out of fashion. The same woman had taken a contract to supply a
large firm with wrappers, and employed many in the neighborhood,
paying them the smallest possible prices. This woman was a usurer on
a scale so pitiful and petty that it almost condoned usury.
Sometimes a man on discovering the miserable pittance for which his
wife toiled during every minute which she could snatch from her
household duties and the care of her children, would inveigh against
it. "That woman is cheating you," he would say, to be met with the
argument that she herself was only making ten cents on a wrapper.
Looked at in that light, the wretched profit of the workers did not
seem so out of proportion. It was usury in a nutshell, so
infinitesimal as almost to escape detection. Fanny worked every
minute which she could secure on these wrappers--the ungainly,
slatternly home-gear of other poor women. There was an air of
dejected femininity and slipshod drudgery about every fold of one of
them when it was hung up finished. Fanny used to keep them on a row
of hooks in her bedroom until a dozen were completed, when she
carried them to her employer, and Ellen used to look at them with a
sense of depression. She imagined worn, patient faces of the sisters
of poverty above the limp collars, and poor, veinous hands dangling
from the clumsy sleeves.

Fanny would never allow Ellen to assist her in this work, though she
begged hard to do so. "Wait till you get out of school," said she.
"You've got enough to do while you are in school."

When Ellen told her about the valedictory, Fanny was so overjoyed
that she lost sight of her work, and sewed in the sleeves wrong.
"There, only see what you have made me do!" she cried, laughing with
delight at her own folly. "Only see, you have made me sew in both
these sleeves wrong. You are a great child. Another time you had
better keep away with your valedictories till I get my wrapper
finished."  Ellen looked up from the book which she had taken.

"Let me rip them out for you, mother," she said.

"No, you keep on with your study--it won't take me but a minute. I
don't know what your father will say. It is a great honor to be
chosen to write the valedictory out of that big class. I guess your
father will be pleased."

"I hope I can write a good one," said Ellen.

"Well, if you can't, I'd give up my beat," said the mother, looking
at her with enthusiasm, and speaking with scornful chiding. "Why
don't you go over and tell your grandmother Brewster? She'll be
tickled 'most to death."

Ellen had not been gone long when Andrew came home, coming into the
yard, bent as if beneath some invisible burden of toil. Just then he
had work, but not in Lloyd's. He had grown too old for Lloyd's, and
had been discharged long ago.

He had so far been able to conceal from Fanny the fact that he had
withdrawn all his little savings to invest in that mining stock. The
stock had not yet come up, as he had expected. He very seldom had a
circular reporting progress nowadays. When he did have one in the
post-office his heart used to stand still until he had torn open the
envelope and read it. It was uniformly not so hopeful as formerly,
while speciously apologetic. Andrew still had faith, although his
heart was sick with its long deferring. He could not actually
believe that all his savings were gone, sunken out of sight forever
in this awful shaft of miscalculation and misfortune. What he
dreaded most was that Fanny should find out, as she would have to
were he long out of employment.

Andrew, when he entered the house on his return from work, had come
to open a door into the room where his wife was, with a deprecating
and apologetic air. He gained confidence when, after a few minutes,
the sore subject had not been broached.

To-night, as usual, when he came into the sitting-room where Fanny
was sewing it was with a sidelong glance of uneasy deprecation
towards her, and an attempt to speak easily, as if he had nothing on
his mind.

"Pretty warm day," he began, but his wife cut him short. She faced
around towards him beaming, her work--a pink wrapper--slid from her
lap to the floor.

"What do you think, Andrew?" she said. "What do you s'pose has
happened? Guess."  Andrew laughed gratefully, and with the greatest
alacrity. Surely this was nothing about mining-stocks, unless,
indeed, she had heard, and the stocks had gone up, but that seemed
to much like the millennium. He dismissed that from his mind before
it entered. He stood before her in his worn clothes. He always wore
a collar and a black tie, and his haggard face was carefully shaven.
Andrew was punctiliously neat, on Ellen's account. He was always
thinking, suppose he should meet Ellen coming home from school, with
some young ladies whose fathers were rich and did not have to work
in the shop, how mortified she might feel if he looked shabby and
unkempt.

"Guess, Andrew," she said.

"What is it?" said Andrew.

"Oh, you guess."

"I don't see what it can be, Fanny."

"Well, Ellen has got the valedictory. What's the matter with you? Be
you deaf? Ellen has got the valedictory out of all them girls and
boys."

"She has, has she?" said Andrew. He dropped into a chair and looked
at his wife. There was something about the intense interchange of
confidence of delight between these two faces of father and mother
which had almost the unrestraint of lunacy. Andrew's jaw fairly
dropped with his smile, which was a silent laugh rather than a
smile; his eyes were wild with delight. "She has, has she?" he kept
repeating.

"Yes, she has," said Fanny. She tossed her head with an incomparable
pride; she coughed a little, affected cough. "I s'pose you know what
a compliment it is?" said she. "It means that she's smarter than all
them boys and girls--the smartest one in her whole class."

"Yes, I s'pose it does," said Andrew. "So she has got it! Well!"

"There she comes now," said Fanny, "and Grandma Brewster."

Andrew borrowed money to buy a gold watch and chain for a graduating
gift for his daughter. He would scarcely have essayed anything quite
so magnificent, but Fanny innocently tempted him. The two had been
sitting in the door in the cool of the evening, one day in June,
about two weeks before the graduation, and had just watched Ellen's
light muslin skirts flutter out of sight. She had gone down-town to
purchase some ribbon for her graduating dress--she and Floretta
Vining, who had come over to accompany her. "I feel kind of anxious
to have her have something pretty when she graduates," Fanny said,
speaking as if she were feeling her way into a mind of opposition.
Neither she nor Andrew had ever owned a watch, and the scheme seemed
to her breathless with magnificence.

"Yes, she ought to have something pretty," agreed Andrew.

"I don't want her to feel ashamed when she sees the other girls'
presents," said Fanny.

"That's so," assented Andrew.

"Well," said Fanny, "I've been thinkin'--"

"What?"

"Well, I've been thinkin' that--of course your mother is goin' to
give her the dress, and that's all, of course, and it's a real
handsome present. I ain't sayin' a word against that; but there
ain't anybody else to give her much except us. Poor Eva 'd like to,
but she can't; it takes all she earns, since Jim's out of work, and
I don't know what she's goin' to do. So that leaves nobody but us,
and I've been thinkin'--I dun'no' what you'll say, Andrew, but I've
been thinkin'--s'pose you took a little money out of the bank,
and--got Ellen--a watch."  Fanny spoke the last word in a faint
whisper. She actually turned pale in the darkness.

"A watch?" repeated Andrew.

"Yes, a watch. I've always wanted Ellen to have a gold watch and
chain. I've always thought she could, and so she could if you hadn't
been out of work so much."

"Yes, she could," said Andrew--"a watch and mebbe a piano. I thought
I'd be back in Lloyd's before now. Well, mebbe I shall before long.
They say there's better times comin' by fall."

"Well, Ellen will be graduated by that time," said Fanny, "and she
ought to have the watch now if she's ever goin' to. She'll never
think so much of it. Floretta Vining is goin' to have a watch, too.
Mrs. Cross says her mother told her so; said Mr. Vining had it all
bought--a real handsome one. I don't believe Sam Vining can afford
to buy a gold watch. I don't believe it is all gold, for my part.
They 'ain't got as much as we have, if Sam has had work steadier. I
don't believe it's gold. I don't want Ellen to have a watch at all
unless it's a real good one. It seems to me you'd better take a
little money out and buy her one, Andrew."

"Well, I'll see," said Andrew. He had a terrible sense of guilt
before Fanny. Suppose she knew that there was no money at all in the
bank to take out?

"Well, I'll buy her one if you say so," said he, in a curious, slow,
stern voice. In his heart was a fierce rising of rebellion, that he,
hard-working and frugal and self-denying all his life, should be
denied the privilege of buying a present for his darling without
resorting to deception, and even almost robbery. He did not at that
minute blame himself in the least for his misadventure with his
mining stock. Had not the same relentless Providence driven him to
that also? His weary spirit took for the first time a poise of utter
self-righteousness in opposition to this Providence, and he
blasphemed in his inner closet of self, before the face of the Lord,
as he comprehended it.

"Well, I have a sort of set my heart on it," said Fanny.

"She shall have the watch," repeated Andrew, and his voice was
fairly defiant.

After Fanny had gone into the house and lighted her lamp, and
resumed work on her wrapper, Andrew still sat on the step in the
cool evening. There was a full moon, and great masses of shadows
seemed to float and hover and alight on the earth with a gigantic
brooding as of birds. The trees seemed redoubled in size from the
soft indetermination of the moonlight which confused shadow and
light, and deceived the eye as with soft loomings out of false
distances. There was a tall pine, grown from a sapling since Ellen's
childhood, and that looked more like a column of mist than a tree,
but the Norway spruces clove the air sharply like silhouettes in
ink, and outlined their dark profiles clearly against the silver
radiance.

To Andrew, looking at it all, came the feeling of a traveller who
passes all scenes whether of joy or woe, being himself in his
passing the one thing which remains, and somehow he got from it an
enormous comfort.

"We're all travellin' along," he said aloud, in a strained, solemn
voice.

"What did you say, Andrew?" Fanny called from the open window.

"Nothin'," replied Andrew.



Chapter XVII


Ellen had always had objective points, as it were, in her life, and
she always would have, no matter how long she lived. She came to
places where she stopped mentally, for retrospection and
forethought, wherefrom she could seem to obtain a view of that which
lay behind, and of the path which was set for her feet in advance.
She saw the tracked and the trackless. Once, going with Abby Atkins
and Floretta in search of early spring flowers, Ellen had lingered
and let them go out of sight, and had sat down on a springing mat of
wintergreen leaves under the windy outstretch of a great pine, and
had remained there quite deaf to shrill halloos. She had sat there
with eyes of inward scrutiny like an Eastern sage's, motionless as
on a rock of thought, while her daily life eddied around her. Ellen,
sitting there, had said to herself: "This I will always remember. No
matter how long I live, where I am, and what happens to me, I will
always remember how I was a child, and sat here this morning in
spring under the pine-tree, looking backward and forward. I will
never forget."

When, finally, Abby and Floretta had run back, and spied her there,
they had stared half frightened. "You ain't sick, are you, Ellen?"
asked Abby, anxiously.

"What are you sitting there for?" asked Floretta.

Ellen had replied that she was not sick, and had risen and run on,
looking for flowers, but the flowers for her bloomed always against
a background of the past, and nodded with forward flings of
fragrance into the future; for the other children, who were wholly
of their own day and generation, they bloomed in the simple light of
their own desire of possession. They picked only flowers, but Ellen
picked thoughts, and they kept casting bewildered side-glances at
her, for the look which had come into her eyes as she sat beneath
the pine-tree lingered.

It was as if a rose had a second of self-consciousness between the
bud and the blossom; a bird between its mother's brooding and the
song. She had caught sight of the innermost processes of things, of
her wheels of life.

Ellen waked up on that June morning, and the old sensation of a
pause before advance was upon her, and the strange solemnity which
was almost a terror, from the feeble clutching of her mind at the
comprehension of infinity. She looked at the morning sunlight coming
between the white slants of her curtains, an airy flutter of her new
dress from the closet, her valedictory, tied with a white satin
ribbon, on the stand, and she saw quite plainly all which had led up
to this, and to her, Ellen Brewster; and she saw also the
inevitableness of its passing, the precious valedictory being laid
away and buried beneath a pile of future ones; she saw the crowd of
future valedictorians advancing like a flock of white doves in their
white gowns, when hers was worn out, and its beauty gone, pressing
forward, dimming her to her own vision. She saw how she would come
to look calmly and coldly upon all that filled her with such joy and
excitement to-day; how the savor of the moment would pass from her
tongue, and she said to herself that she would always remember this
moment.

Then suddenly--since she had in herself an impetus of motion which
nothing, not even reflection, could long check--she saw quite
plainly a light beyond, after all this should have passed, and the
leaping power of her spirit to gain it. And then, since she was
healthy, and given only at wide intervals to these Eastern lapses of
consciousness from the present, she was back in her day, and alive
to all its importance as a part of time.

She felt the bounding elation of tossing on the crest of her wave of
success, and the full rainbow glory of it dazzled her eyes. She was
first in her class, she was valedictorian, she had a beautiful
dress, she was young, she was first. It is a poor spirit, and one
incapable of courage in defeat, who feels not triumph in victory.
Ellen was triumphant and confident. She had faith in herself and the
love and approbation of everybody.

When she was seated with her class on the stage in the city hall,
where the graduating exercises were held, she saw herself just as
she looked, and it was with a satisfaction which had nothing weakly
in its vein, and smiled radiantly and innocently at herself as seen
in this mirror of love and appreciation of all who knew her.

[Illustration: The valedictory]

When the band stopped playing, and Ellen, who as valedictorian came
last as the crown and capsheaf of it all, stepped forward from the
semicircle of white-clad girls and seriously abashed boys, there was
a subdued murmur and then a hush all over the hall. Andrew and Fanny
and the grandmother, seated directly in front of the stage--for they
had come early to secure good seats--heard whispers of admiration on
every side. It was admiration with no dissent--such jealous ears as
theirs could not be deceived. Fanny's face was blazing with the
sweet shame of pride in her child; Andrew was pale; the grandmother
sat as if petrified, with a proud toss of her head. They looked
straight ahead; they dared not encounter each other's eyes, for they
were more self-conscious than Ellen. They felt the attention of the
whole assembly upon them. Andrew was conscious of feeling ill and
faint. His own joy seemed to overwhelm him. He forgot his stocks, he
forgot his borrowed money, he forgot Lloyd's; he was perfectly happy
at the sight of that beautiful young creature of his own heart, who
was preferred before all others in the sight of the whole city. In
truth, there was about Ellen a majesty and nobility of youth and
innocence and beauty which overawed. The other girls of the class
were as young and as pretty, but none of them had that indescribable
quality which seemed to raise her above them all. Ellen still kept
her blond fairness, but there was nothing of the doll-like which
often characterizes the blond type. Although she was small, Ellen's
color had the firmness and unwavering of tinted marble; she carried
her crown of yellow braids as if it had been gold; she moved and
looked and spoke with decision. The violent and intense temperament
which she had inherited from two sides of her family had
crystallized in her to something more forcible, but also more
impressive. However, she was, after all, only a young girl, scarcely
more than a child, whatever her principle of underlying character
might be, and when she stood there before them all--all her
townspeople who represented her world, the human shore upon which
her own little individuality beat--when she saw those attentive
faces, row upon row, all fixed upon her, she felt her heart pound
against her side; she had no sensation of the roll of paper in her
hand; an awful terror as of suddenly discovered depths came over
her, as the wild clapping of hands to which her appearance had given
rise died away. Ellen stood still, holding the valedictory as if it
had been a stick. A little wondering murmur began to be heard.
Andrew felt as if he were dying. Fanny gripped his arm hard. Mrs.
Zelotes had the look of one about to spring. Ellen had the terrible
sensation which has in it a nightmare of inability to move, allied
with the intensest consciousness. She knew that she was to read her
valedictory, she knew that she must raise that white-ribboned roll
and read, or else be disgraced forever, and yet she was powerless.
But suddenly some compelling glance seemed to arouse her from this
lock of nerve and muscle; she raised her eyes, and Cynthia Lennox,
on the farther side of the hall, was gazing full at her with an
indescribable gaze of passion and help and command. Her own mother's
look could not have influenced her. Ellen raised her valedictory,
bowed, and began to read. Andrew looked so pale that people nudged
one another to look at him. Mrs. Zelotes settled back, relaxing
stiffly from her fierce attitude. Fanny wiped her forehead with a
cheap lace-bordered handkerchief. There was a stifled sob farther
back, that came from Eva Tenny, who sat back on account of a break
across the shoulders in the back of her silk dress. Amabel, anæmic
and eager in a little, tawdry, cheap muslin frock, sat beside her,
with worshipful eyes on Ellen. "What ailed her?" she whispered,
hitting her mother with a sharp little elbow. "Hush up!" whispered
Eva, angrily, surreptitiously wiping her eyes. In front, directly in
her line of vision, sat the woman of whom she was jealous--the young
widow, who had been Aggie Bemis, arrayed in a handsome India silk
and a flower-laden hat. Eva's hat was trimmed with a draggled
feather and a bunch of roses which she had tried to color with
aniline dye. When she got home that night she tore the feather out
of the hat and flung it across the room. She wished to do it that
afternoon every time she looked at the other woman's roses against
the smooth knot of her brown hair, and that repressed impulse, with
her alarm at Ellen's silence, had made her almost hysterical. When
Ellen's clear young voice rose and filled the hall she calmed
herself. Ellen had not folded back her first page with a flutter of
the white satin ribbons before people began to sit straight and
stare at each other incredulously. The subject of the valedictory,
as well as those of the other essays, had been allotted, and Ellen's
had been "Equality," and she had written a most revolutionary
valedictory. Ellen had written with a sort of poetic fire, and,
crude as it all was, she might have had the inspiration of a Shelley
or a Chatterton as she stood there, raising her fearless young front
over the marshalling of her sentiments on the smooth sheets of
foolscap. Her voice, once started, rang out clear and full. She had
hesitated at nothing, she flung all castes into a common heap of
equality with her strong young arms, and she set them all on one
level of the synagogue. She forced the employer and his employé to
one bench of service in the grand system of things; she gave the
laborer, and the laborer only, the reward of labor. As Ellen went on
reading calmly, with the steadfastness of one promulgating
principles, not the excitement of one carried away by enthusiasm,
she began to be interrupted by applause, but she read on, never
wavering, her clear voice overcoming everything. She was quite
innocently throwing her wordy bomb to the agitation of public
sentiment. She had no thought of such an effect. She was stating
what she believed to be facts with her youthful dogmatism. She had
no fear lest the facts strike too hard. The school-master's face
grew long with dismay; he sat pulling his mustache in a fashion he
had when disturbed. He glanced uneasily now and then at Mr. Lloyd,
and at another leading manufacturer who was present. The other
manufacturer sat quite stolid and unsmiling beside a fidgeting wife,
who presently arose and swept out with a loud rustle of silks. She
looked back once and beckoned angrily to her husband, but he did not
stir. He was on the school-board. The school-master trembled when he
saw that imperturbable face of storing recollection before him. Mr.
Lloyd leaned towards Lyman Risley, who sat beside him and whispered
and laughed. It was quite evident that he did not consider the
flight of this little fledgling in the face of things seriously. But
even he, as Ellen's clearly delivered sentiments grew more and more
defined--almost anarchistic--became a little grave in spite of the
absurd incongruity between them and the girlish lips. Once he looked
in some wonder at the school-teacher as much as to say, "Why did you
permit this?" and the young man pulled his mustache harder.

When Ellen finished and made her bow, such a storm of applause arose
as had never before been heard at a high-school exhibition. The
audience was for the most part composed of factory employés and
their families, as most of the graduates were of that class of the
community. Many of them were of foreign blood, people who had come
to the country expecting the state of things advocated in Ellen's
valedictory, and had remained more or less sullen and dissenting at
the non-fulfilment of their expectation. One tall Swede, with a
lurid flashing of blue eyes under a thick, blond thatch, led the
renewed charges of applause. Red spots came on his cheeks, gaunt
with high cheekbones; his cold Northern blood was up. He stood
upreared against a background of the crowd under the balcony; he
stamped when the applause died low; then it swelled again and again
like great waves. The Swede brandished his long arms, he shouted,
others echoed him. Even the women hallooed in a frenzy of applause,
they clapped their hands, they stood up in their seats. Only a few
sat silent and contemptuous through all the enthusiasm. Thomas
Briggs, the manufacturer, was one of them. He sat like a rock, his
great, red, imperturbable face of dissent fixed straight ahead. Mrs.
Lloyd clapped wildly, on account of the girl who had read the
valedictory. She had slept through the greater part of it, for it
was very warm, and the heat always made her drowsy. She kept leaning
towards Cynthia as she clapped, and asking in a loud whisper if she
wasn't sweet. Cynthia did not applaud, but her delicate face was
pale with emotion. Lyman Risley, beside her, was clapping
energetically. "She may have a bomb somewhere concealed among those
ribbons and frills," he said to Lloyd when the applause was waxing
loudest, and Lloyd laughed.

As for Ellen, when the storm of applause burst at her feet, she
stood still for a moment bewildered. Then she bowed again and turned
to go, then the compelling uproar brought her back. She stood there
quite piteous in her confusion. This was too much triumph, and,
moreover, she had not the least idea of the true significance of it
all. She was like a chemist who had brought together, quite
ignorantly and unwittingly, the two elements of an explosive. She
thought that her valedictory must have been well done, that they
liked it, and that was all. She had no sooner finished reading than
the ushers began in the midst of the storm of applause to approach
the stage with her graduating presents. They were laden with great
bouquets and baskets of flowers, with cards conspicuously attached
to most of them. Cynthia Lennox had sent a basket of roses. Ellen
took it on her arm, and wondered when she saw the name attached to
the pink satin bow on the handle. She did not look again towards
Cynthia since the old impulse of concealment on her account came
over her. Ellen had great boxes of candy from her boy admirers,
that being a favorite token of young affection upon such occasions.
She had a gift-book from her former school-teacher, and a
ninety-eight-cent gilded vase from Eva and Amabel, who had been
saving money to buy it. She heard a murmur of admiration when she
had finally reached her seat, after the storm of applause had at
last subsided, and she unrolled the packages with trembling fingers.

"My, ain't that handsome!" said Floretta, pressing her muslin-clad
shoulder against Ellen's. "My, didn't they clap you, Ellen! What's
that in that package?"

The package contained Ellen's new watch and chain. Floretta had
already received hers, and it lay in its case on her lap. Ellen
looked at the package, not hearing in the least the Baptist minister
who had taken his place on the stage, and was delivering an address.
She had felt her aunt Eva's and Amabel's eager eyes on her when she
unrolled the gaudy vase; now she felt her father's and mother's. The
small, daintily tied package was inscribed "Ellen Brewster, from
Father and Mother."

"Why don't you open it?" came in her ear from Floretta. Maria was
leaning forward also, over her lapful of carnations which John
Sargent had presented to her.

"Why don't she open it?" she whispered to Floretta. They were all
quite oblivious of the speaker, who moved nervously back and forth
in front of them, so screening them somewhat from the observation of
the audience. Still Ellen hesitated, looking at the little package
and feeling her father's and mother's eyes on her face.

Finally she untied the cord and took out the jeweller's case from
the wrapping-paper. "My, you've got one too, I bet!" whispered
Floretta. Ellen opened the box, and gazed at her watch and chain;
then she glanced at her father and mother down in the audience, and
the three loving souls seemed to meet in an ineffable solitude in
the midst of the crowd. All three faces were pale--Ellen's began to
quiver. She felt Floretta's shoulder warm through her thin sleeve
against hers.

"My! you've got one--I said so," she whispered. "It isn't chased as
much as mine, but it's real handsome. My, Ellen Brewster, you ain't
going to cry before all these people!"

Ellen smiled against a sob, and she gave her head a defiant toss.
Down in the audience Fanny had her handkerchief to her eyes, and
Andrew sat looking sternly at the speaker. Ellen said to herself
that she would not cry--she would not, but she sat gazing down at
her flower-laden lap and the presents. The golden disk under her
fixed eyes waxed larger and larger, until it seemed to fill her
whole comprehension as with a golden light of a suffering,
self-denying love which was her best reward of life and labor on the
earth.



Chapter XVIII


After the exhibition there was a dance. The Brewsters, even Mrs.
Zelotes, remained to see the last of Ellen's triumph. Mrs. Zelotes
was firmly convinced that Ellen's appearance excelled any one's in
the hall. Not a girl swung past them in the dance but she eyed her
white dress scornfully, then her rosy face, and sniffed with high
nostrils like an old war-horse. "Jest look at that Vining girl's
dress, coarse enough to strain through," she said to Fanny, leaning
across Andrew, who was sitting rapt, his very soul dancing with his
daughter, his eyes never leaving her one second, following her fair
head and white flutter of muslin ruffles and ribbons around the
hall.

"Yes, that's so," assented Fanny, but not with her usual sharpness.
A wistful softness and sweetness was on her coarsely handsome face.
Once she reached her hand over Andrew's and pressed it, and blushed
crimson as she did so. Andrew turned and smiled at her. All that
annoyed Andrew was that Ellen danced with Granville Joy often, and
also with other boys. It disturbed him a little, even while it
delighted him, that she should dance at all, that she should have
learned to dance. Andrew had been brought up to look upon dancing as
an amusement for Louds rather than for Brewsters. It had not been in
vogue among the aristocracy of this little New England city when he
was young.

Mrs. Zelotes watched Ellen dance with inward delight and outward
disapproval. "I don't approve of dancing, never did," she said to
Andrew, but she was furious once when Ellen sat through a dance.
Towards the end of the evening she saw with sudden alertness Ellen
dancing with a new partner, a handsome young man, who carried
himself with more assurance than the school-boys. Mrs. Zelotes hit
Andrew with her sharp elbow.

"Who's that dancing with her now?" she said.

"That's young Lloyd," answered Andrew. He flushed a little, and
looked pleased.

"Norman Lloyd's nephew?" asked his mother, sharply.

"Yes, he's on here from St. Louis. He's goin' into business with his
uncle," replied Andrew. "Sargent was telling me about it yesterday.
Young Lloyd came into the post-office while we were there."  Fanny
had been listening. Immediately she married Ellen to young Lloyd,
and the next moment she went to live in a grand new house built in a
twinkling in a vacant lot next to Norman Lloyd's residence, which
was the wonder of the city. She reared this castle in Spain with
inconceivable swiftness, even while she was turning her head towards
Eva on the other side, and prodding her with an admonishing elbow as
Mrs. Zelotes had prodded Andrew. "That's Norman Lloyd's nephew
dancing with her now," she said. Eva looked at her, smiling.
Directly the idea of Ellen's marriage with the young man with whom
she was dancing established full connections and ran through the
line of Ellen's relatives as though an electric wire.

As for Ellen, dancing with this stranger, who had been introduced to
her by the school-master, she certainly had no thought of a possible
marriage with him, but she had looked into his face with a curious,
ready leap of sympathy and understanding of this other soul which
she met for the first time. It seemed to her that she must have
known him before, but she knew that she had not. She began to
reflect as they were whirling about the hall, she gazed at that
secret memory of hers, which she had treasured since her childhood,
and discovered that what had seemed familiar to her about the young
man was the face of a familiar thought. Ever since Miss Cynthia
Lennox had told her about her nephew, the little boy who had owned
and loved the doll, Ellen had unconsciously held the thought of him
in her mind. "You are Miss Cynthia Lennox's nephew," she said to
young Lloyd.

"Yes," he replied. He nodded towards Cynthia, who was sitting on the
opposite side from the Brewsters, with the Norman Lloyds and Lyman
Risley. "She used to be like a mother to me," he said. "You know I
lost my mother when I was a baby."

Ellen nodded at him with a look of pity of that marvellous scope
which only a woman in whom the maternal slumbers ready to awake can
compass. Ellen, looking at the handsome face of the young man, saw
quite distinctly in it the face of the little motherless child, and
all the tender pity which she would have felt for that child was in
her eyes.

"What a beautiful girl she is," thought the young man. He smiled at
her admiringly, loving her look at him, while not in the least
understanding it. He had asked to be presented to Ellen from
curiosity. He had not been at the exhibition, and had heard the
school-master and Risley talking about the valedictory. "I didn't
know that you taught anarchy in school, Mr. Harris," Risley had
said. He laughed as he said it, but Harris had colored with an
uneasy look at Norman Lloyd, whose face wore an expression of
amusement. "Perhaps I should have," he began, but Lloyd interrupted
him. "My dear fellow," he said, "you don't imagine that any man in
his senses could take seriously enough to be annoyed by it that
child's effusion on her nice little roll of foolscap tied with her
pretty white satin ribbon?"

"She is just as sweet as she can be," said Mrs. Norman, "and I
thought her composition was real pretty. Didn't you, Cynthia?"

"Very," replied Cynthia.

"What your are worrying about it for, Edward, I don't see," said
Mrs. Norman to the school-master.

"Well, I am glad if it struck you that way," said he, "but when I
heard the applause from all those factory people"--he lowered his
voice, since a number were sitting near--"I didn't know, but--"  He
hesitated.

"That the spark that would fire the mine might be in that pretty
little beribboned roll of foolscap," said Risley, laughing. "Well,
it was a very creditable production, and it was written with the
energy of conviction. The Czar and that little school-girl would not
live long in one country, if she goes on as she has begun."

It was then that young Lloyd, who had just come in, and was standing
beside the school-master, turned eagerly to him, and asked who the
girl was, and begged him to present him.

"Perhaps he'll fall in love with her," said Mrs. Norman, directly,
when the two men had gone across the hall in quest of Ellen. Her
husband laughed.

"You have not seen your aunt for a long time," Ellen said to young
Lloyd, when they were sitting out a dance after their waltz
together.

"Not since--I--I came on--with my father when he died," he replied.
Again Ellen looked at him with that wonderful pity in her face, and
again the young man thought he had never seen such a girl.

"I think your aunt is beautiful," Ellen said, presently, gazing
across at Cynthia.

"Yes, she must have been a beauty when she was young."

"I think she is now," said Ellen, quite fervently, for she was able
to disabuse her mind of associations and rely upon pure observation,
and it was quite true that leaving out of the question Cynthia's age
and the memory of her face in stronger lights at closer view, she
was as beautiful from where they sat as some graceful statue. Only
clear outlines showed at that distance, and her soft hair, which was
quite white, lay in heavy masses around the intense repose of her
face.

"Yes--s," admitted Robert, somewhat hesitatingly. "She used to think
everything of me when I was a little shaver," he said.

"Doesn't she now?"

"Oh yes, I suppose she does, but it is different now. I am grown up.
A man doesn't need so much done for him when he is grown up."

Then again he looked at Ellen with eyes of pleading which would have
made of the older woman what he remembered her to have been in his
childhood, and hers answered again.

Robert did not say anything to her about the valedictory until just
before the close of the evening, when their last dance together was
over.

"I am sorry I did not have a chance to hear your valedictory," he
said. "I could not come early."

Ellen blushed and smiled, and made the conventional school-girl
response. "Oh, you didn't miss anything," said she.

"I am sure I did," said the young man, earnestly. Then he looked at
her and hesitated a little. "I wonder if you would be willing to
lend it to me?" he said, then. "I would be very careful of it, and
would return it immediately as soon as I had read it. I should be so
interested in reading it."

"Certainly, if you wish," said Ellen, "but I am afraid you won't
think it is good."

"Of course I shall. I have been hearing about it, how good it was,
and how you broke up the whole house."

Ellen blushed. "Oh, that was only because it was the valedictory.
They always clap a good deal for the valedictory."

"It was because it was you, you dear beauty," thought the young man,
gazing at her, and the impulse to take her in his arms and kiss that
blush seized upon him. "I know they applauded your valedictory
because it was worthy of it," said he, and Ellen's eyes fell before
his, and the blush crept down over her throat, and up to the soft
toss of hair on her temples. The two were standing, and the man
gazed at Ellen's pink arms and neck through the lace of her dress,
those incomparable curves of youthful bloom shared by a young girl
and a rose; he gazed at that noble, fair head bent not so much
before him as before the mystery of life, of which a perception had
come to her through his eyes, and he said to himself that there
never was such a girl, and he also wondered if he saw aright, he
being one who seldom entirely lost the grasp of his own leash.
Having the fancy and the heart of a young man, he was given like
others of his kind to looking at every new girl who attracted him in
the light of a problem, the unknown quantity being her possible
interest for him, but he always worked it out calmly. He kept
himself out of his own shadow, when it came to the question of
emotions, in something the same fashion that his uncle Norman did.
Now, looking at Ellen Brewster with the whole of his heart setting
towards her in obedience to that law which had brought him into
being, he yet was saying quite coolly and loudly in his own inner
consciousness, "Wait, wait, wait! Wait until to-morrow, see how you
feel then. You have felt in much this way before. Wait! Perhaps you
don't see it as it is. Wait!"

He realized his own wisdom all the more clearly when Ellen led him
to the settee where her relatives sat guarding her graduation
presents and her precious valedictory. She presented him gracefully
enough. Ellen knew nothing of society etiquette, she had never
introduced such a young gentleman as this to any one in her life,
but her inborn dignity of character kept her self-poise perfect.
Still, when young Lloyd saw the mother coarsely perspiring and
fairly aggressive in her delight over her daughter, when poor Andrew
hoped he saw him well, and Mrs. Zelotes eyed him with sharp
approbation, and Eva, conscious of her shabbiness, bowed with a
stiff toss of her head and sat back sullenly, and little Amabel
surveyed him with uncanny wisdom divided between himself and Ellen,
he became conscious of a slight disappearance of his glamour. He
thanked Ellen most heartily for the privilege which she granted him,
when she took the valedictory from the heap of flowers, and took his
leave with a bow which made Fanny nudge Andrew, almost before the
young man's back was turned.

Then she looked at Ellen, but she said nothing. A sudden impulse of
delicacy prevented her. There was something about this beloved
daughter of hers which all at once seemed strange to her. She began
to associate her with the sacred mystery of life as she had never
done. Then, too, there was the more superficial association with one
of another class which she held in outward despite but inward awe.

Ellen gathered up her presents into her lap, and sat there a few
minutes through the last dance, which she had refused to Granville
Joy, who went away with nervous alertness for another girl, and
nobody spoke to her.

When young Lloyd and Cynthia Lennox and the others left, as they did
directly, Fanny murmured, "They've gone," and they all knew what she
meant. She was thinking--and so were they all, except Ellen--that
that was the reason, because he had to go, that he had not asked
Ellen for the last dance.

As for Ellen, she sat looking at her gold watch and chain, which she
had taken out of the case. Her face grew intensely sober, and she
did not notice when young Lloyd left. All at once she had reflected
how her father had never owned a watch in his whole life, though he
was a man, but he had given one to her. She reflected how he had so
little work, how shabby his clothes were, how he must have gone
without himself to buy this for her, and the girl had such a heart
of gold that it rose triumphantly loyal to its first loves and
tendernesses, and her father's old, worn face came between her and
that of the young man who might become her lover.



Chapter XIX


The day after Ellen's graduation there might have been seen a
touching little spectacle passing along the main street of Rowe
about ten o'clock in the fore-noon. It was touching because it gave
evidence of that human vanity common to all, which strives to
perpetuate the few small, good things that come into the hard lives
of poor souls, and strives with such utter futility. Ellen held up
her fluffy skirts daintily, the wind caught her white ribbons and
the loose locks of her yellow hair under her white hat. She carried
Cynthia Lennox's basket of roses on her arm, and each of the others
was laden with bouquets. Little Amabel clasped both slender arms
around a great sheaf of roses; the thorns pricked through her thin
sleeves, but she did not mind that, so upborne with the elation of
the occasion was she. Her small, pale face gazed over the mass of
bloom with challenging of admiration from every one whom she met.
She was jealous lest any one should not look with full appreciation
of Ellen.

Ellen was the one in the little procession who had not unmixed
delight in it. She had a certain shamefacedness about going through
the streets in such a fashion. She avoided looking at the people
whom she met, and kept her head slightly bent and averted, instead
of carrying it with the proud directness which was her habit. She
felt vaguely that this was the element of purely personal vanity
which degrades a triumph, and the weakness of delight and gloating
in the faces of her relatives irritated her. It was a sort of
unveiling of love, and the girl was sensitive enough to understand
it. "Oh, mother, I don't want to have us all go through the street
with all these flowers, and me in my white dress," she had said. She
had looked at her mother with a shrinking in her eyes which was
incomprehensible to the other coarser-natured woman.

"Nonsense," she had said. "Sometimes you have real silly notions,
Ellen."  Fanny said it adoringly, for even silliness in this girl
was in a way worshipful to her. Ellen, with her heart still softened
almost to grief by the love shown her on the day before, had
yielded, but she was glad when they arrived at the photograph
studio. She had particularly dreaded passing Lloyd's, for the
thought came to her that possibly young Mr. Lloyd might see her. She
supposed that he was likely to be in the office. When they passed
the office-windows she looked the other way, but before she was well
past, her aunt Eva hit her violently and laughed loudly. Ellen
shrank, coloring a deep crimson. Then her mother also laughed, and
even Amabel, shrilly, with precocious recognition of the situation.
Only Mrs. Zelotes stalked along in silent dignity.

"Don't laugh so loud, he'll hear you," said she, severely.

"It was that young man who was at the hall last night, and he was
looking at you awful sharp," said little Amabel to Ellen, squeezing
her warm arm, and sending out that shrill peal of laughter again.

"Don't, dear," said Ellen. She felt humiliated, and the more so
because she was ashamed of being humiliated by her own mother and
aunt. "Why should I be so sensitive to things in which they see no
harm?" she asked herself, reprovingly.

As for young Lloyd, he had, ever since he parted with the girl the
night before, that sensation of actual contact which survives
separation, and had felt the light pressure of her hand in his all
night, and along with it that ineffable pain of longing which would
draw the substance of a dream to actuality and cannot. He saw her
with her coarsely exultant relatives, the inevitable blur of her
environments, and felt himself not so much disillusioned as
confirmed. He had been constantly saying to himself, when the girl's
face haunted his eyes, and her hand in his own, that he was a fool,
that he had felt so before, that he must have, that there was no
sense in it, that he was Robert Lloyd, and she a good girl, a
beautiful girl, but a common sort of girl, born of common people to
a common lot. "Now," he said to himself, with a kind of bitter
exultation, "there, I told you so."  The inconceivable folly of that
glance of the mother at him, then at Ellen, and the meaning
laughter, repelled him to the point of disgust. He turned his back
to the window and resumed his work, but, in spite of himself, the
pathos of the picture which he had seen began to force itself upon
him, and he thought almost tenderly and forgivingly that she, the
girl, had not once looked his way. He even wondered, pityingly, if
she had been mortified and annoyed by her mother's behavior. A great
anger on Ellen's behalf with her mother seized upon him. How pretty
she did look moving along in that little flower-laden procession, he
thought, how very pretty. All at once a desire for the photograph
which would be taken seized him, for he divined the photograph.
However, he said to himself that he would send back the valedictory
which he had not yet read by post, with a polite note, and that
would be the end.

But it was only the next evening that Robert Lloyd with the
valedictory in hand got off the trolley-car in front of the Brewster
house. He had proved to himself that it was an act of actual
rudeness to return anything so precious and of so much importance to
the owner by the post, that he ought to call and deliver it in
person. When he regained his equilibrium from the quick sidewise
leap from the car, and stood hesitating a little, as one will do
before a strange house, for he was not quite sure as to his
bearings, he saw a white blur as of feminine apparel in the front
doorway. He advanced tentatively up the little path between two rows
of flowering bushes, and Ellen rose.

"Good-evening, Mr. Lloyd," she said, in a slightly tremulous voice.

"Oh, good-evening, Miss Brewster," he cried, quickly. "So I am
right! I was not sure as to the house."

"People generally tell by the cherry-trees in the yard," replied
Ellen, taking refuge from her timidity in the security of
commonplace observation, as she had done the night before, giving
thereby both a sense of disappointment and elusiveness.

"Won't you walk in?" she added, with the prim politeness of a child
who accosts a guest according to rule and precept. Ellen had never,
in fact, had a young man make a formal call upon her before. She
reflected now, both with relief and trepidation, that her mother was
away, having gone to her aunt Eva's. She had an instinct which she
resented, that her mother and this young man were on two parallels
which could never meet. Her father was at home, seated in the south
door with John Sargent and Nahum Beals and Joe Atkins, but she never
thought of such a thing as her father's receiving a young man
caller, though she would not have doubted so much his assimilating
with Robert Lloyd. She understood that the young man might look at
her mother with dissent, while she resented it, but with her father
it was different.

The group of men at the south door were talking in loud, fervent
voices which seemed to rise and fall like waves. Nahum Beals's
strained, nervous tones were paramount. "Mr. Beals is talking about
the labor question, and he gets quite excited," Ellen remarked,
somewhat apologetically, as she ushered young Lloyd into the parlor.

Lloyd laughed. "It sounds as if he were leading an army," he said.

"He is very much in earnest," said the girl.

She placed painstakingly for her guest the best chair, which was a
spring rocker upholstered with crush-plush. The little parlor was
close and stuffy, and the kerosene-lamp, with the light dimmed by a
globe decorated with roses, heated the room still further. This lamp
was Fanny's pride. It had, in her eyes, the double glory of high art
and cheapness. She was fond of pointing at it, and inquiring, "How
much do you think that cost?" and explaining with the air of one who
expects her truth to be questioned that it only cost forty-nine
cents. This lamp was hideous, the shape was aggressive, a discordant
blare of brass, and the roses on the globe were blasphemous. Somehow
this lamp was the first thing which struck Lloyd on entering the
room. He could not take his eyes from it. As for Ellen, long
acquaintance had dulled her eyes. She sat in the full glare of this
hideous lamp, and Lloyd considered that she was not so pretty as he
had thought last night. Still, she was undeniably very pretty. There
was something in the curves of her shoulders, in her pink-and-white
cotton waist, that made one's fingers tingle, and heart yearn, and
there was an appealing look in her face which made him smile
indulgently at her as he might have done at a child. After all, it
was probably not her fault about the lamp, and lamps were a minor
consideration, and he was finical, but suppose she liked it? Lloyd,
sitting there, began to speculate if it were possible for one's
spiritual nature to be definitely damaged by hideous lamps. Then he
caught sight of a plate decorated with postage-stamps, with a
perforated edge through which ribbons were run, and he wondered if
she possibly made that.

"They are undoubtedly perfectly moral people," he told his aunt
Cynthia afterwards, "but I wonder that they keep such an immoral
plate."  However, that was before he fell in love with Ellen, while
he was struggling with himself in his desire to do so, and making
all manner of sport of himself by way of hindrance.

Ellen at that age could have had no possible conception of the
sentiment with which the young man viewed her environment. She was
sensitive to spiritual discords which might arise from meeting with
another widely different nature, but when it came to material
things, she was at a loss. Then, too, she was pugnaciously loyal to
the glories of the best parlor. She was innocently glad that she had
such a nice room into which to usher him. She felt that the
marble-top table, the plush lambrequin on the mantle-shelf, the
gilded vases, the brass clock, the Nottingham lace curtains, the
olive-and-crimson furniture, the pictures in cheap gilt frames, the
heavily gilded wall-paper, and the throws of thin silk over the
picture corners must prove to him the standing of her family. She
felt an ignoble satisfaction in it, for a certain measure of
commonness clung to the girl like a cobweb. She was as yet too young
to bloom free of her environment, her head was not yet over the
barrier of her daily lot; her heart never would be, and that was her
glory. Young Lloyd handed her the roll of valedictory as soon as he
entered.

"I am very much obliged to you for allowing me to read it," he said.

Ellen took it, blushing. Her heart sank a little. She thought to
herself that he probably did not like it. She looked at him proudly
and timidly, like a child half holding, half withdrawing its hand
for a sweet. It suddenly came to her that she would rather this
young man would praise her valedictory than any one else, that if he
had been present when she read it in the hall, and she had seen him
standing applauding, she could not have contained her triumph and
pride. She was not yet in love with him, but she began to feel that
in his approbation lay the best coin of her realm.

"It is very well written, Miss Brewster," said Robert, and she
flushed with delight.

"Thank you," she said.

But the young man was looking at her as if he had something besides
praise in mind, and she gazed at him, shrinking a little as before a
blow whose motion she felt in the air. However, he laughed
pleasantly when he spoke.

"Do you really believe that?" he asked.

"What?" she inquired, vaguely.

"Oh, all that you say in your essay. Do you really believe that all
the property in the world ought to be divided, that kings and
peasants ought to share and share alike?"

She looked at him with round eyes. "Why, of course I do!" she said.
"Don't you?"

Robert laughed. He had no mind to enter into an argument with this
beautiful girl, nor even to express himself forcibly on the opposite
side.

"Well, there are a number of things to be considered," he said. "And
do you really believe that employer and employés should share
alike?"

"Why not?" said she.

Her blue eyes flashed, she tossed her head. Robert smiled at her.

"Why not?" she repeated. "Don't the men earn the money?"

"Well, no, not exactly," said Robert. "There is the capital."

"The profit comes from the labor, not from the capital," said Ellen,
quickly. "Doesn't it?" she continued, with fervor, and yet there was
a charming timidity, as before some authority.

"Possibly," replied Robert, guardedly; "but the question is how far
we should go back before we stop in searching for causes."

"How far back ought we to go?" asked Ellen, earnestly.

"I confess I don't know," said Robert, laughingly. "I have thought
very little about it all."

"But you will have to, if you are to be the head of Lloyd's," Ellen
said, with a severe accent, with grave, blue eyes full on his face.

"Oh, I am not the head of Lloyd's yet," he answered, easily. "My
uncle is far from his dotage. Then, too, you know that I was never
intended for a business man, but a lawyer, like my father, if there
had not been so little for my father's second wife and the
children--"  He stopped himself abruptly on the verge of a
confidence. "I think I saw you on your way to the photographer
to-day," he said, and Ellen blushed, remembering her aunt Eva's
violent nudge, and wondering if he had noticed. She gave him a
piteous glance.

"Yes," she said. "All the girls have their pictures taken in their
graduating dresses with their flowers."

"You looked to me as if the picture would be a great success," said
Robert. He longed to ask for one and yet did not, for a reason
unexplained to himself. He knew that this innocent, unsophisticated
creature would see no reason on earth why he should not ask, and no
reason why she should not grant, and on that account he felt
prohibited. That night, after he had gone, Ellen wondered why he had
not asked for one of her pictures, and felt anxious lest he should
have seen the nudge.

"Well," she said to herself, "if he finds any fault with anything
that my mother has done, I don't want him to have one."

Robert stayed a long time. He kept thinking that he ought to go, and
also that he was bored, and yet he felt a singular unwillingness to
leave, possibly because of his sense that the visit was in a measure
forbidden by prudence. The longer he remained, the prettier Ellen
looked to him. New beauties of line and color seemed to grow
apparent in the soft glow from the hideous lamp. There was a
wonderful starry radiance in her eyes now and then, and when she
turned her head her eyeballs gleamed crimson and her hair seemed to
toss into flame. When she spoke, he was conscious of unknown depths
of sweetness in her voice, and it was so with her smile and her
every motion. There was about the girl a mystery, not of darkness
but of light, which seemed to draw him on and on and on without
volition. And yet she said nothing especially remarkable, for Ellen
was only a young girl, reared in a little provincial city in common
environments. She would have been a great genius had she more than
begun to glimpse the breadth and freedom of the outer world through
her paling of life. She was too young and too unquestioning of what
she had learned from her early loves.

"Have you always lived here in Rowe?" asked Lloyd.

"Yes," said she. "I was born here, and I have lived here ever
since."

"And you have never been away?"

"Only once. Once I went to Dragon Beach and stayed a fortnight with
mother."  She said this with a visible sense of its importance.
Dragon Beach was some ten miles from Rowe, a cheap seashore place,
built up with flimsy summer cottages of factory hands. Andrew had
hired one for a fortnight once when Ellen was ailing, and it had
been the event of a lifetime to the family. They hereafter dated
from the year "we went to Dragon Beach."

Lloyd looked with a quick impulse of compassionate tenderness at
this child who had been away from Rowe once to Dragon Beach. He had
his own impressions of Dragon Beach and also of Rowe.

"I suppose you enjoyed that?" said he.

"Very much. The sea is beautiful."

So, after all, it was the sea which she had cared for at Dragon
Beach, and not the clam-bakes and merry-go-rounds and women in
wrappers in the surf. Robert felt rebuked for thinking of anything
but the sea in his memory of Dragon Beach; there was a wonderful
water-view there.

All the time they sat there in the parlor, the murmur of
conversation at the south door continued, and now and again over it
swelled the fervid exhortations of Nahum Beals. Not a word could be
distinguished, but the meaning was beyond doubt. That voice was full
of denunciation, of frenzied appeal, of warning.

"Who is it?" asked Lloyd, after an unusually loud burst.

"Mr. Beals," replied Ellen, uneasily. She wished that he would not
talk so loud.

"He sounds as if he were preaching fire and brimstone," said Robert.

"No, he is talking about the labor question," replied Ellen.

Then she looked confused, for she remembered that this young man's
uncle was the head of Lloyd's, that he himself would be the head of
Lloyd's some day. All at once, along with another feeling which
seemed about to conquer her, came a resentment against this young
man with his fine clothes and his gentle manners. Two men passed the
windows and one of them looked in, and when the electric-light
flashed on his face she saw Granville Joy, and the man with him was
in his shirt-sleeves. She saw those white shirt-sleeves swing into
the darkness, and felt at once antagonized against herself and
against Robert, and yet she knew that she had never seen a man like
him.

"I suppose he has settled it," said Robert.

"I don't know," replied Ellen.

"He sounds dangerous."

"Oh, no. He is a good man. He wouldn't hurt anybody. He has always
talked that way. He used to come here and talk when I was a child.
It used to frighten me at first, but it doesn't now. It is only the
way that poor people are treated that frightens me."

Again Robert had a sensation of moving unobtrusively aside from a
direct encounter. He looked across the room and started at something
which he espied for the first time.

"Pardon me," he said, rising, "but I am interested in dolls. I see
you still keep your doll, Miss Brewster."

Ellen sat stupefied. All at once it dawned upon her what might
happen. In the corner of the parlor sat her beloved doll, still
beloved, though the mother and not the doll had outgrown her first
condition of love. The doll, in the identical dress in which she had
come from Cynthia's so many years ago, sat staring forth with the
fixed radiance of her kind, seated stiffly in a tiny rocking-chair,
also one of the treasures of Ellen's childhood. It was a curious
feature for the best parlor, but Ellen had insisted upon it. "She
isn't going to be put away up garret because I have outgrown her,"
said she. "She's going to sit in the parlor as long as she lives.
Suppose I outgrew you, and put you up in the garret; you wouldn't
like it, would you, mother?"

"You are a queer child," Fanny had said, laughing, but she had
yielded.

When young Lloyd went close to examine the doll, Ellen's heart stood
still. Suppose he should recognize it? She tried to tell herself
that it was impossible. Could any young man recognize a doll after
all those years? How much did a boy ever care for a doll, anyway?
Not enough to think of it twice after he had given it up. It was
different with a girl. Her doll meant--God only knew what her doll
meant to her; perhaps it had a meaning of all humanity. But the boy,
what had he cared for the doll? He had gone away out West and left
it.

But Lloyd remembered. He stared down at the doll a moment. Then he
took her up gingerly in her fluffy pink robes of an obsolete
fashion. He held her at arm's length, and stared and stared.
Suddenly he parted the flaxen wig and examined a place on the head.
Then he looked at Ellen.

"Why, it is my old doll," he cried, with a great laugh of wonder and
incredulity. "Yes, it is my old doll! How in the world did you come
by my doll, Miss Brewster? Account for yourself. Are you a child
kidnapper?"

Ellen, who had risen and come forward, stood before him, absolutely
still, and very pale.

"Yes, it is my doll," said Lloyd, with another laugh. "I will tell
you how I know. Of course I can tell her face. Dolls look a good
deal alike, I suppose, but I tell you I loved this doll, and I
remember her face, and that little cast in her left eye, and that
beautiful, serene smile; but there's something besides. Once I
burned her head with the red-hot end of the poker to see if she
would wake up. I always had a notion when I was a child that it was
only a question of violence to make her wake up and demonstrate some
existence besides that eternal grin. So I burned her, but it made no
difference; but here is the mark now--see."

Ellen saw. She had often kissed it, but she made no reply. She was
occupied with considerations of the consequences.

"How did you come by her, if you don't mind telling?" said the young
man again. "It is the most curious thing for me to find my old doll
sitting here. Of course Aunt Cynthia gave her to you, but I didn't
know that she was acquainted with you. I suppose she saw a pretty
little girl getting around without a doll after I had gone, and sent
her, but--"

Suddenly between the young man's face and the girl's flashed a look
of intelligence. Suddenly Robert remembered all that he had heard of
Ellen's childish escapade. He _knew_. He looked from her to the
doll, and back again. "Good Lord!" he said. Then he set the doll
down in her little chair all of a heap, and caught Ellen's hand, and
shook it.

"You are a trump, that is what you are," he said; "a trump. So
she--"  He shook his head, and looked at Ellen, dazedly. She did not
say a word, but looked at him with her lips closed tightly.

"It is better for you not to tell me anything," he said; "I don't
want to know. I don't understand, and I never want to, how it all
happened, but I do understand that you are a trump. How old were
you?"  Robert's voice took on a tone of tenderness.

"Eight," replied Ellen, faintly.

"Only a baby," said the young man, "and you never told! I would like
to know where there is another baby who would do such a thing."  He
caught her hand and shook it again. "She was like a mother to me,"
he said, in a husky voice. "I think a good deal of her. I thank
you."

Suddenly to the young man looking at the girl a conviction as of
some subtle spiritual perfume came; he had seen her beauty before,
he had realized her charm, but this was something different. A
boundless approbation and approval which was infinitely more
precious than admiration seized him. Her character began to reveal
itself, to come in contact with his own; he felt the warmth of it
through the veil of flesh. He felt a sense of reliance as upon an
inexhaustibility of goodness in another soul. He felt something
which was more than love, being purely unselfish, with as yet no
desire of possession. "Here is a good, true woman," he said to
himself. "Here is a good, true woman, who has blossomed from a good,
true child."  He saw a wonderful faithfulness shining in her blue
eyes, he saw truth itself on her lips, and could have gone down at
the feet of the little girl in the pink cotton frock. Going home he
tried to laugh at himself, but could not succeed. It is easy to
shake off the clasp of a hand of flesh, but not the clasp of another
soul.

Ellen on her part was at once overwhelmed with delight and
confusion. She felt the fervor of admiration in the young man's
attitude towards her, but she was painfully conscious of her
undeservingness. She had always felt guilty about her silence and
disobedience towards her parents, and as for any self-approbation
for it, that had been the farthest from her thoughts. She murmured
something deprecatingly, but Lloyd cut her short.

"It's no use crying off," said he; "you are one girl in a thousand,
and I thank you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It might
have made awful trouble. My aunt Lizzie told me what a commotion
there was over it."

"I ran away," said Ellen, anxiously. Suddenly it occurred to her he
might think Cynthia worse than she had been.

"Never mind," said Lloyd--"never mind. I know what you did. You held
your blessed little tongue to save somebody else, and let yourself
be blamed."

The door which led into the sitting-room opened, and Andrew looked
in.

He made a shy motion when he saw Lloyd; still, he came forward. His
own callers had gone, and he had heard voices in the parlor, and had
feared Granville Joy was calling upon Ellen.

As he came forward, Ellen introduced him shyly. "This is Mr. Lloyd,
father," she said. "Mr. Lloyd, this is my father."  Then she added,
"He came to bring back my valedictory."  She was very awkward, but
it was the charming awkwardness of a beautiful child. She looked
exceedingly childish standing beside her father, looking into his
worn, embarrassed face.

Lloyd shook hands with Andrew, and said something about the
valedictory, which he had enjoyed reading.

"She wrote it all herself without a bit of help from the teacher,"
said Andrew, with wistful pride.

"It is remarkably well written," said Robert.

"You didn't hear it read at the hall?" said Andrew.

"No, I had not that good fortune."

"You ought to have heard them clap," said Andrew.

"Oh, father," murmured Ellen, but she looked innocently at her
father as if she delighted in his pride and pleasure without a
personal consideration.

The front door opened. "That's your mother," said Andrew.

Fanny looked into the lighted parlor, and dodged back with a little
giggle.

Ellen colored painfully. "It is Mr. Lloyd, mother," she said.

Then Fanny came forward and shook hands with Robert. Her face was
flaming--she cast involuntary glances at Andrew for confirmation of
her opinion. She was openly and shamelessly triumphant, and yet all
at once Robert ceased to be repelled by it. Through his insight into
the girl's character, he had seemed to gain suddenly a clearer
vision for the depths of human love and pity which are beneath the
coarse and the common. When Fanny stood beside her daughter and
looked at her, then at Robert, with the reflection of the beautiful
young face in her eyes of love, she became at once pathetic and
sacred.

"It is all natural," he said to himself as he was going home.



Chapter XX


Robert Lloyd when he came to Rowe was confronted with one of the
hardest tasks in the world, that of adjustment to circumstances
which had hitherto been out of his imagination. He had not dreamed
of a business life in connection with himself. Though he had always
had a certain admiration for his successful uncle, Norman Lloyd, yet
he had always had along with the admiration a recollection of the
old tale of the birthright and the mess of pottage. He had expected
to follow the law, like his father, but when he had finished
college, about two years after his father's death, he had to face
the unexpected. The stocks in which the greater part of the elder
Lloyd's money had been invested had depreciated; some of them were
for the time being quite worthless as far as income was concerned.
There were two little children--girls--by his father's second
marriage, and there was not enough to support them and their mother
and allow Robert to continue his reading for the law. So he pursued,
without the slightest hesitation, but with bitter regret, the only
course which he saw open before him. He wrote to his uncle Norman,
and was welcomed to a position in his factory with more warmth than
he had ever seen displayed by him. In fact, Norman Lloyd, who had no
son of his own, saw with a quickening of his pulses the handsome
young fellow of his own race who had in a measure thrown himself
upon his protection. He had never shared his wife's longing for
children as children, and had never cared for Robert when a child;
but now, when he was a man grown and bore his name, he appealed to
him.

Norman Lloyd was supposed to be heaping up riches, and wild stories
of his wealth were told in Rowe. He gave large sums to public
benefactions, and never stinted his wife in her giving within
certain limits. It would have puzzled any one when faced with facts
to understand why he had the name of a hard man, but he had it,
whether justly or not. "He's as hard as nails," people said. His
employés hated him--that is, the more turbulent and undisciplined
spirits hated him, and the others regarded him as slaves might a
stern master. When Robert started his work in his uncle's office he
started handicapped by this sentiment towards his uncle. He looked
like his uncle, he talked like him, he had his same gentle
stiffness, he was never unduly familiar. He was at once placed in
the same category by the workmen.

Robert Lloyd did not concern himself in the least as to what the
employés in his uncle's factory thought of him. Nothing was more
completely out of his mind. He was conscious of standing on a firm
base of philanthropic principle, and if ever these men came directly
under his control, he was resolved to do his duty by them so far as
in him lay.


Ellen, since her graduation, had been like an animal which circles
about in its endeavors to find its best and natural place of
settlement.

"What shall I do next?" she had said to her mother. "Shall I go to
work, or shall I try to find a school somewhere in the fall, or
shall I stay here, and help you with some work I can do at home? I
know father cannot afford to support me always at home."

"I guess he can afford to support his only daughter at home a little
while after she has just got out of school," Fanny had returned
indignantly, with a keen pain at her heart.

Fanny mentioned this conversation to Andrew that night after Ellen
had gone to bed.

"What do you think--Ellen was asking me this afternoon what she had
better do!" said she.

"What she had better do?" repeated Andrew, vaguely. He looked
shrinkingly at Fanny, who seemed to him to have an accusing air, as
if in some way he were to blame for something. And, indeed, there
were times when Fanny in those days did blame Andrew, but there was
some excuse for her. She blamed him when her own back was filling
her very soul with the weariness of its ache as she bent over the
seams of those grinding wrappers, and when her heart was sore over
doubt of Ellen's future. At those times she acknowledged to herself
that it seemed to her that Andrew somehow might have gotten on
better. She did not know how, but somehow. He had not had an
expensive family. "Why had he not succeeded?" she asked herself. So
there was in her tone an unconscious recrimination when she answered
his question about Ellen.

"Yes--what she had better go to work at," said Fanny, dryly, her
black eyes cold on her husband's face.

Andrew turned so white that he frightened her. "Go to work!" said
he. Then all at once he gave an exceedingly loud and bitter groan.
It betrayed all his pride in and ambition for his daughter and his
disgust and disappointment over himself. "Oh! my God, has it come to
this," he groaned, "that I cannot support my one child!"

Fanny laid down her work and looked at him. "Now, Andrew," said she,
"there's no use in your taking it after such a fashion as this. I
told Ellen that it was all nonsense--that she could stay at home and
rest this summer."

"I guess, if she can't--" said Andrew. He dropped his gray head into
his hands, and began to sob dryly. Fanny, after staring at him a
moment, tossed her work onto the floor, went over to him, and drew
his head to her shoulder.

"There, old man," said she, "ain't you ashamed of yourself? I told
her there was no need for her to worry at present. Don't do so,
Andrew; you've done the best you could, and I know it, if I stop to
think, though I do seem sort of impatient sometimes. You've always
worked hard and done your best. It ain't your fault."

"I don't know whether it is or not," said Andrew, in a high,
querulous voice like a woman's. "It seems as if it must be
somebody's fault. If it ain't my fault, whose is it? You can't blame
the Almighty."

"Maybe it ain't anybody's fault."

"It must be. All that goes wrong is somebody's fault. It can't be
that it just happens--that would be worse than the other. It is
better to have a God that is cruel than one that don't care, and it
is better to be to blame yourself, and have it your fault, than His.
Somehow, I have been to blame, Fanny. I must have. It would have
been enough sight better for you, Fanny, if you'd married another
man."

"I didn't want another man," replied Fanny, half angrily, half
tenderly. "You make me all out of patience, Andrew Brewster. What's
the need of Ellen going to work right away? Maybe by-and-by she can
get an easy school. Then, we've got that money in the bank."

Andrew looked away from her with his face set. Fanny did not know
yet about his withdrawal of the money for the purpose of investing
in mining-stocks. He never looked at her but the guilty secret
seemed to force itself between them like a wedge of ice.

"Then Grandma Brewster has got a little something," said Fanny.

"Only just enough for herself," said Andrew. Then he added,
fiercely, "Mother can't be stinted of her little comforts even for
Ellen."

"I 'ain't never wanted to stint your mother of her comforts," Fanny
retorted, angrily.

"She 'ain't got but a precious little, unless she spends her
principal," said Andrew. "She 'ain't got more'n a hundred and fifty
or so a year clear after her taxes and insurance are paid."

"I ain't saying anything," said Fanny. "But I do say you're dreadful
foolish to take on so when you've got so much to fall back on, and
that money in the bank. Here you haven't had to touch the interest
for quite a while and it has been accumulating."

It was agreed between the two that Ellen must say nothing to her
grandmother Brewster about going to work.

"I believe the old lady would have a fit if she thought Ellen was
going to work," said Fanny. "She 'ain't never thought she ought to
lift her finger."

So Ellen was charged on no account to say anything to her
grandmother about the possible necessity of her going to work.

"Your grandmother's awful proud," said Fanny, "and she's always
thought you were too good to work."

"I don't think anybody is too good to work," replied Ellen, but she
uttered the platitude with a sort of mental reservation. In spite of
herself, the attitude of worship in which she had always seen all
who belonged to her had spoiled her a little. She did look at
herself with a sort of compunction when she realized the fact that
she might have to go to work in the shop some time. School-teaching
was different, but could she earn enough school-teaching? There was
a sturdy vein in the girl. All the time she pitied herself she
blamed herself.

"You come of working-people, Ellen Brewster. Why are you any better
than they? Why are your hands any better than their hands, your
brain than theirs? Why are you any better than the other girls who
have gone to work in the shops? Do you think you are any better than
Abby Atkins?"

And still Ellen used to look at herself with a pitying conviction
that she would be out of place at a bench in the shoe-factory, that
she would suffer a certain indignity by such a course. The
realization of a better birthright was strong upon her, although she
chided herself for it. And everybody abetted her in it. When she
said once to Abby Atkins, whom she encountered one day going home
from the shop, that she wondered if she could get a job in her room
in the fall, Abby turned upon her fiercely.

"Good Lord, Ellen Brewster, you ain't going to work in a shoe-shop?"
she said.

"I don't see why not as well as you," returned Ellen.

"Why not?" repeated the other girl. "Look at yourself, and look at
us!"

As she spoke, Ellen saw projected upon her mental vision herself
passing down the street with the throng of factory operatives which
her bodily eyes actually witnessed. She had come opposite Lloyd's as
the six o'clock whistle was blowing. She saw herself in her clean,
light summer frock, slight and dainty, with little hands like white
flowers in the blue folds of her skirt, with her fine, sensitive
outlook of fair face, and her dainty carriage; and she saw
others--those girls and women in dingy skirts and bagging blouses,
with coarse hair strained into hard knots of exigency from patient,
or sullen faces, according to their methods of bearing their lots;
all of them rank with the smell of leather, their coarse hands
stained with it, swinging their poor little worn bags which had held
their dinners. There were not many foreigners among them, except the
Irish, most of whom had been born in this country, and a sprinkling
of fair-haired, ruddy Swedes and keen Polanders, who bore themselves
better than the Americans, being not so apparently at odds with the
situation.

The factory employés in Rowe were a superior lot, men and women.
Many of the men had put on their worn coats when they emerged from
the factory, and their little bags were supposed to disguise the
fact of their being dinner satchels. And yet there was a difference
between Ellen Brewster and the people among whom she walked, and she
felt it with a sort of pride and indignation with herself that it
was so.

"I don't see why I should be any better than the rest," said she,
defiantly, to Abby Atkins. "My father works in a shop, and you are
my best friend, and you do. Why shouldn't I work in a shop?"

"Look at yourself," repeated the other girl, mercilessly. "You are
different. You ain't to blame for it any more than a flower is to
blame for being a rose and not a common burdock. If you've got to do
anything, you had better teach school."

"I would rather teach school," said Ellen, "but I couldn't earn so
much unless I got more education and got a higher position than a
district school, and that is out of the question."

"I thought maybe your grandmother could send you," said Abby.

"Oh no, grandma can't afford to. Sometimes I think I could work my
own way through college, if it wasn't for being a burden in the mean
time, but I don't know."

Suddenly Abby Atkins planted herself on the sidewalk in front of
Ellen, and looked at her sharply, while an angry flush overspread
her face.

"I want to know one thing," said she.

"What?"

"It ain't true what I heard the other day, is it?"

"I don't know what you heard."

"Well, I heard you were going to be married."

Ellen turned quite pale, and looked at the other girl with a steady
regard of grave, indignant blue eyes.

"No, I am not," said she.

"Well, don't be mad, Ellen. I heard real straight that you were
going to marry Granville Joy in the fall."

"Well, I am not," repeated Ellen.

"I didn't suppose you were, but I knew he had always wanted you."

"Always wanted me!" said Ellen. "Why, he's only just out of school!"

"Oh, I know that, and he's only just gone to work, and he can't be
earning much, but I heard it."

The stream of factory operatives had thinned; many had taken the
trolley-cars, and others had gone to the opposite side of the
street, which was shady. The two girls were alone, standing before a
vacant lot grown to weeds, rank bristles of burdock, and slender
spikes of evanescent succory. Abby burst out in a passionate appeal,
clutching Ellen's arm hard.

"Ellen, promise me you never will," she cried.

"Promise you what, Abby?"

"Oh, promise me you never will marry anybody like him. I know it's
none of my business--I know that is something that is none of
anybody's business, no matter how much they think of anybody; but I
think more of you than any man ever will, I don't care who he is. I
know I do, Ellen Brewster. And don't you ever marry a man like
Granville Joy, just an ordinary man who works in the shop, and will
never do anything but work in the shop. I know he's good, real good
and steady, and it ain't against him that he ain't rich and has to
work for his living, but I tell you, Ellen Brewster, you ain't the
right sort to marry a man like that, and have a lot of children to
work in shops. No man, if he thinks anything of you, ought to ask
you to; but all a man thinks of is himself. Granville Joy, or any
other man who wanted you, would take you and spoil you, and think
he'd done a smart thing."  Abby spoke with such intensity that it
redeemed her from coarseness. Ellen continued to look at her, and
two red spots had come on her cheeks.

"I don't believe I'll ever get married at all," she said.

"If you've got to get married, you ought to marry somebody like
young Mr. Lloyd," said Abby.

Then Ellen blushed, and pushed past her indignantly.

"Young Mr. Lloyd!" said she. "I don't want him, and he doesn't want
me. I wish you wouldn't talk so, Abby."

"He would want you if your were a rich girl, and your father was
boss instead of a workman," said Abby.

Then she caught hold of Ellen's arm and pressed her own thin one in
its dark-blue cotton sleeve lovingly against it.

"You ain't mad with me, are you, Ellen?" she said, with that
indescribable gentleness tempering her fierceness of nature which
gave her caresses the fascination of some little, untamed animal.
Ellen pressed her round young arm tenderly against the other.

"I think more of you than any man I know," said she, fervently. "I
think more of you than anybody except father and mother, Abby."

The two girls walked on with locked arms, and each was possessed
with that wholly artless and ignorant passion often seen between two
young girls. Abby felt Ellen's warm round arm against hers with a
throbbing of rapture, and glanced at her fair face with adoration.
She held her in a sort of worship, she loved her so that she was
fairly afraid of her. As for Ellen, Abby's little, leather-stained,
leather-scented figure, strung with passion like a bundle of
electric wire, pressing against her, seemed to inform her farthest
thoughts.

"If I live longer than my father and mother, we'll live together,
Abby," said she.

"And I'll work for you, Ellen," said Abby, rapturously.

"I guess you won't do all the work," said Ellen. She gazed tenderly
into Abby's little, dark, thin face. "You're all worn out with work
now," said she, "and there you bought that beautiful pin for me with
your hard earnings."

"I wish it had been a great deal better," said Abby, fervently.

She had given Ellen a gold brooch for a graduating-gift, and had
paid a week's wages for it, and gone without her new dress, and
stayed away from the graduation, but that last Ellen never knew;
Abby had told her that she was sick.


That evening Robert Lloyd and his aunt Cynthia Lennox called on the
Brewsters. Ellen was under the trees in the west yard when she heard
a carriage stop in front of the house and saw the sitting-room lamp
travel through the front entry to the front door. She wondered
indifferently who it was. Carriages were not given to stopping at
their house of an evening; then she reflected that it might be some
one to get her mother to do some sewing, and remained still.

It was a bright moonlight night; the whole yard was a lovely dapple
of lights and shadows. Ellen had a vivid perception of the beauty of
it all, and also that unrest and yearning which comes often to a
young girl in moonlight. This beauty and strangeness of familiar
scenes under the silver glamour of the moon gave her, as it were, an
assurance of other delights and beauties of life besides those which
she already knew, and along with the assurance came that wild
yearning. Ellen seemed to scent her honey of life, and at the same
time the hunger for it leaped to her consciousness. She had begun by
thinking of what Abby had said to her that afternoon, and then the
train of thought led her on and on. She quite ignored all about the
sordid ways and means of existence, about toil and privation and
children born to it. All at once the conviction was strong upon her
that love, and love alone, was the chief end and purpose of life, at
once its source and its result, the completion of its golden ring of
glory. Her thought, started in whatever direction, seemed to slide
always into that one all-comprehending circle--she could not get her
imagination away from it. She began to realize that the mind of
mortal man could not get away from the law which produced it. She
began to understand dimly, as one begins to understand any great
truth, that everything around her obeyed that unwritten fundamental
law of love, expressed it, sounded it, down to the leaves of the
trees casting their flickering shadows on the silver field of
moonlight, and the long-drawn chorus of the insects of the summer
night. She thought of Abby and how much she loved her; then that
love seemed the step which gave her an impetus to another love. She
began to remember Granville Joy, how he had kissed her that night
over the fence and twice since, how he had walked home with her from
entertainments, how he had looked at her. She saw the boy's face and
his look as plain as if he stood before her, and her heart leaped
with a shock of pain which was joy.

Then she thought of Robert Lloyd, and his face came before her.
Ellen had not thought as much of Robert as he of her. For some two
weeks after his call she had watched for him to come again; she had
put on a pretty dress and been particular about her hair, and had
stayed at home expecting him; then when he had not come, she had put
him out of mind resolutely. When her mother and aunt had joked her
about him she had been sensitive and half angry. "You know it is
nothing, mother," she said; "he only came to bring back my
valedictory. You know he wouldn't think of me. He'll marry somebody
like Maud Hemingway."  Maud Hemingway was the daughter of the
leading physician in Rowe, and regarded with a mixture of spite and
admiration by daughters of the factory operatives. Maud Hemingway
was attending college, and rode a saddle-horse when home on her
vacations. She had been to Europe.

But that evening in the moonlight Ellen began thinking again of
Robert Lloyd. His face came before her as plainly as Granville
Joy's. She had arrived at that stage when life began to be as a
picture-gallery of love. Through this and that face the goddess
might look, and the look was what she sought; as yet, the man was a
minor quantity.

All at once it seemed to Ellen, looking at her mental picture of
young Lloyd, that she could see love in his face yet more plainly,
more according to her conception of it, than in the other. She began
to build an air-castle which had no reference whatever to Robert's
position, and to his being the nephew of the richest factory-owner
in Rowe, and so far as that went he had not a whit the advantage of
Granville Joy in her eyes. But Robert's face wore to her more of the
guise of that for which the night and the moonlight, and her youth,
had made her long. So she began innocently to imagine a meeting with
him at a picnic which would be held some time at Liberty Park. She
imagined their walking side by side, through a lovely dapple of
moonlight like this, and saying things to each other. Then all at
once the man of her dreams touched her hand in a dream, and a
faintness swept over her. Then suddenly, gathering shape out of the
indetermination of the shadows and the moonlight, came a man into
the yard, and Ellen thought with awe and delight that it was he; but
instead Granville Joy stood before her, lifting his hat above his
soft shock of hair.

"Hullo!" he said.

"Good-evening," responded Ellen, and Granville Joy felt abashed. He
lay awake half the night reflecting that he should have greeted her
with a "Good-evening" instead of "Hullo," as he had been used to do
in their school-days; that she was now a young lady, and that Mr.
Lloyd had accosted her differently. Ellen rose with a feeling of
disappointment that Granville was himself, which is the hardest
greeting possible for a guest, involving the most subtle reproach in
the world--the reproach for a man's own individuality.

"Oh, don't get up, Ellen," the young man said, awkwardly.
"Here--I'll sit down here on the rock."  Then he flung himself down
on the ledge of rock which cropped out like a bare rib of the earth
between the trees, and Ellen seated herself again in her chair.

"Beautiful night, ain't it?" said Granville.

Ellen noticed that Granville said "ain't" instead of "isn't,"
according to the fashion of his own family, although he was recently
graduated from the high-school. Ellen had separated herself,
although with no disparaging reflections, from the language of her
family. She also noticed that Granville presently said "wa'n't"
instead of "wasn't."  "Hot yesterday, wa'n't it?" said he.

"Yes, it was very warm," replied Ellen. That "wa'n't" seemed to
insert a tiny wedge between them. She would have flown at any one
who had found fault with her father and mother for saying "wa'n't,"
but with this young man in her own rank and day it was different. It
argued something in him, or a lack of something. An indignation all
out of proportion to the offence seized her. It seemed to her that
he had in this simple fashion outraged that which was infinitely
higher than he himself. He had not lived up to her thought of him,
and fallen short by a little slip in English which argued a slip in
character. She wanted to reproach him sharply--to ask him if he had
ever been to school.

He noticed her manner was cool, and was as far as the antipodes from
suspecting the cause. He never knew that he said "ain't" and
"wa'n't," and would die not knowing. All that he looked at was the
substance of thought behind the speech. And just then he was farther
than ever from thinking of it, for he was single-hearted with Ellen.

The boy crept nearer her on the rock with a shy, nestling motion;
the moonlight shone full on his handsome young face, giving it a
stern quality. "Ellen, look at here," he said.

Then he stopped. Ellen waited, not dreaming what was to follow. She
had never had a proposal; then, too, he had just been chased out of
her mental perspective by the other man.

"Look at here, Ellen," said Granville. He stopped again; then when
he spoke his voice had an indescribably solemn, beseeching quality.
"Oh, Ellen," he said, reaching up and catching her hand. He dragged
himself nearer, leaned his cheek against her hand, which it seemed
to burn; then he began kissing it with soft, pouting lips.

Ellen tried to pull her hand away. "Let my hand go this minute,
Granville Joy," she said, angrily.

The boy let her hand go immediately, and stood up, leaning over her.

"Don't be angry; I didn't mean any harm, Ellen," he whispered.

"I shall be angry if you do such a thing again," said Ellen. "We
aren't children; you have no right to do such a thing, and you know
it."

"But I thought maybe you wouldn't mind, Ellen," said Granville. Then
he added, with his voice all husky with emotion and a kind of fear:
"Ellen, you know how I feel about you. You know how I have always
felt."

Ellen made no reply. It seemed inconceivable that she for the minute
should not know his meaning, but she was bewildered.

"You know I've always counted on havin' you for my wife some day
when we were both old enough," said the boy, "and I've gone to work
now, and I hope to get bigger pay before long, and--"

Ellen rose with sudden realization. "Granville Joy," cried she, with
something like panic in her voice, "you must not! Oh, if I had
known! I would not have let you finish. I would not, Granville."
She caught his arm, and clung to it, and looked up at him pitifully.
"You know I wouldn't have let you finish," she said. "Don't be hurt,
Granville."

The boy looked at her as if she had struck him.

"Oh, Ellen," he groaned. "Oh, Ellen, I always thought you would!"

"I am not going to marry anybody," said Ellen. Her voice wavered in
spite of herself; the young man's look and voice were shaking her
through weakness of her own nature which she did not understand, but
which might be mightier than her strength. Something crept into her
tone which emboldened the young man to seize her hand again. "You
do, in spite of all you say--" he began; but just then a long shadow
fell athwart the moonlight, and Ellen snatched her hand away
imperceptibly, and young Lloyd stood before them.



Chapter XXI


Granville Joy was employed in Lloyd's, and Robert had seen him that
very day and spoken to him, but he did not recognize him, not until
Ellen spoke. "This is Mr. Joy, Mr. Lloyd," she said; "perhaps you
know him. He works in your uncle's shop."  She said it quite simply,
as if it was a matter of course that Robert was on speaking terms
with all the employés in his uncle's factory.

Granville colored. "I saw Mr. Lloyd this afternoon in the
cutting-room," he said, "and we had some talk together; but maybe he
don't remember, there are so many of us."  Granville said "so many
of us" with an indescribably bitter emphasis. Suddenly his
gentleness seemed changed to gall. It was the terrible protest of
one of the herd who goes along with the rest, yet realizes it, and
looks ever out from his common mass with fierce eyes of individual
dissent at the immutable conditions of things. Immediately, when
Granville saw the other young man, this gentleman in his light
summer clothes, who bore about him no stain nor odor of toil, he
felt that here was Ellen's mate; that he was left behind. He looked
at him, not missing a detail of his superiority, and he saw himself
young and not ill-looking, but hopelessly common, clad in awkward
clothes; he smelled the smell of leather that steamed up in his face
from his raiment and his body; and he looked at Ellen, fair and
white in her dainty muslin, and saw himself thrust aside, as it
were, by his own judgment as to the fitness of things, but with no
less bitterness. When he said "there are so many of us," he felt the
impulse of revolution in his heart; that he would have liked to lead
the "many of us" against this young aristocrat. But Robert smiled,
though somewhat stiffly, and bowed. "I beg your pardon, Mr. Joy," he
said; "I do remember, but for a minute I did not."

"I don't wonder," said Granville, and again he repeated, "There are
so many of us," in that sullen, bitter tone.

"What is the matter with the fellow?" thought Robert; but he said,
civilly enough; "Oh, not at all, Mr. Joy. I will admit there are a
good many of you, as you say, but that would not prevent my
remembering a man to whom I was speaking only a few hours ago. It
was only the half-light, and I did not expect to see you here."

"Mr. Joy is a very old friend of mine," Ellen said, quickly, with a
painful impulse of loyalty. The moment she saw her old school-boy
lover intimidated, and manifestly at a disadvantage before this
elegant young gentleman, she felt a fierce instinct of partisanship.
She stood a little nearer to him. Granville's face lightened, he
looked at her gratefully, and Robert stared from one to the other
doubtfully. He began to wonder if he had interrupted a love-scene,
and was at once pained with a curious, new pain, and indignant.
Then, too, he scarcely knew what to do. He had been sent to ask
Ellen to come into the parlor.

"My aunt is in the house," he said.

"Your aunt?"

"Yes, my aunt, Miss Lennox."

Ellen gave a great start, and stared at him. "Does she want to see
me?" she asked, abruptly.

Robert glanced at Granville. He was afraid of being rude towards
this possible lover, but the young man was quick to perceive the
situation.

"I guess I must be going," he said to Ellen.

"Must you hurry?" she returned, in the common, polite rejoinder of
her class in Rowe.

"Yes, I guess I must," said Granville. He held out his hand towards
Ellen, then drew it away, but she extended hers resolutely, and so
forced his back again. "Good-night," she said, kindly, almost
tenderly, and again Robert thought with that sinking at his heart
that here was quite possibly the girl's lover, and all his dreams
were thrown away.

As for Granville, he glowed with a sudden triumph over the other.
Again he became almost sure that Ellen loved him after all, that it
was only her maiden shyness which had led her to refuse him. He
pressed her hand hard, and held it as long as he dared; then he
turned to Robert. "I'll bid you good-evening, sir," he said, with
awkward dignity, and was gone.

"I will go in and see your aunt," Ellen said to Robert, regarding
him as she spoke with a startled expression. It had flashed through
her mind that Miss Lennox had possibly come to confess the secret of
so many years ago, and she shrank with terror as before the lowering
of some storm of spirit. She knew how little was required to lash
her mother's violent nature into fury. "She was not--?" she began to
say to Robert, then she stopped; but he understood. "Don't be
afraid, Miss Brewster," he said, kindly. "It is not a matter of
by-gones, but the future. My aunt has a plan for you which I think
you will like."

Ellen looked at him wonderingly, but she went with him across the
moonlit yard into the house.

She found Miss Cynthia Lennox, fair and elegant in a filmy black
gown, and a broad black hat draped with lace and violets shading her
delicate, clear-cut face, and her father and mother. Fanny's eyes
were red. She looked as if she had been running--in fact, one could
easily hear her breathe across the room. "Ellen, here is Miss
Lennox," she said. Ellen approached the lady, who rose, and the two
shook hands. "Good-evening, Miss Brewster," said Cynthia, in the
same tone which she might have used towards a society acquaintance.
Ellen would never have known that she had heard the voice before. As
she remembered it, it was full of intensest vibrations of maternal
love and tenderness and protection beyond anything which she had
ever heard in her own mother's voice. Now it was all gone, and also
the old look from her eyes. Cynthia Lennox was, in fact, quite
another woman to the young girl from what she had been to the child.
In truth, she cared not one whit for Ellen, but she was possessed
with a stern desire of atonement, and far stronger than her love was
the appreciation of what that mother opposite must have suffered
during that day and night when she had forcibly kept her treasure.
The agony of that she could present to her consciousness very
vividly, but she could not awaken the old love which had been the
baby's for this young girl. Cynthia felt much more affection for
Fanny than for Ellen. When she had unfolded her plan for sending
Ellen to college, and Fanny had almost gone hysterical with delight,
she found it almost impossible to keep her tears back. She knew so
acutely how this other woman felt that she almost seemed to lose her
own individuality. She began to be filled with a vicarious adoration
of Ellen, which was, however, dissipated the moment she actually saw
her. She realized that this grown-up girl, who could no longer be
cuddled and cradled, was nothing to her, but her sympathy with the
mother remained.

Ellen remained standing after she had greeted Cynthia. Robert went
over to the mantle-piece and stood leaning against it. He was
completely puzzled and disturbed by the whole affair. Ellen looked
at Cynthia, then at her parents. "Ellen, come here, child," said her
father, suddenly, and Ellen went over to him, sitting on the plush
sofa beside her mother.

Andrew reached up and took hold of Ellen's hands, and drew her down
on his knee as if she had been a child. "Ellen, look here," he said,
in an intense, almost solemn voice, "father has got something to
tell you."

Fanny began to weep almost aloud. Cynthia looked straight ahead,
keeping her features still with an effort. Robert studied the carpet
pattern.

"Look here, Ellen," said Andrew; "you know that father has always
wanted to do everything for you, but he ain't able to do all he
would like to. God hasn't prospered him, and it seems likely that he
won't be able to do any more than he has done, if so much, in the
years to come. You know father has always wanted to send you to
college, and give you an extra education so you could teach in a
school where you would make a good living, and now here Miss Lennox
says she heard your composition, and she has heard a good deal about
you from Mr. Harris, how well you stood in the high-school, and she
says she is willing to send you to Vassar College."

Ellen turned pale. She looked long at her father, whose pathetic,
worn, half-triumphant, half-pitiful face was so near her own; then
she looked at Cynthia, then back again. "To Vassar College?" she
said.

"Yes, Ellen, to Vassar College, and she offers to clothe you while
you are there, but we thank her, and tell her that ain't necessary.
We can furnish your clothes."

"Yes, we can," said Fanny, in a sobbing voice, but with a flash of
pride.

"Well, what do you say to it, Ellen?" asked Andrew, and he asked it
with the expression of a martyr. At that moment indescribable pain
was the uppermost sensation in his heart, over all his triumph and
gladness for Ellen. First came the anticipated agony of parting with
her for the greater part of four years, then the pain of letting
another do for his daughter what he wished to do himself. No man
would ever look in Ellen's eyes with greater love and greater
shrinking from the pain which might come of love than Andrew at that
moment.

"But--" said Ellen; then she stopped.

"What, Ellen?"

"Can you spare me for so long? Ought I not to be earning money
before that, if you don't have much work?"

"I guess we can spare you as far as all that goes," cried Andrew. "I
guess we can. I guess we don't want you to support us."

"I rather guess we don't," cried Fanny.

Ellen looked at her father a moment longer with an adorable look,
which Robert saw with a sidewise glance of his downcast eyes, then
at her mother. Then she slid from her father's knee and crossed the
room and stood before Cynthia. "I don't know how to thank you
enough," she said, "but I thank you very much, and not only for
myself but for them"; she made a slight, graceful, backward motion
of her shoulder towards her parents. "I will study hard and try to
do you credit," said she. There was something about Ellen's direct,
childlike way of looking at her, and her clear speech, which brought
back to Cynthia the little girl of so many years ago. A warm flush
came over her delicate cheeks; her eyes grew bright with tenderness.

[Illustration: I'll study hard and try to do you credit]

"I have no doubt as to your doing your best, my dear," she said,
"and it gives me great pleasure to do this for you."

With that, said with a graceful softness which was charming, she
made as if to rise, but Ellen still stood before her. She had
something more to say. "If ever I am able," she said--"and I shall
be able some day if I have my health--I will repay you."  Ellen
spoke with the greatest sweetness, yet with an inflexibility of
pride evident in her face. Cynthia smiled. "Very well," she said,
"if you feel better to leave it in that way. If ever you are able
you shall repay me; in the mean time I consider that I am amply paid
in the pleasure it gives me to do it."  Cynthia held out her slender
hand to Ellen, who took it gratefully, yet a little constrainedly.

In the opposite corner the doll sat staring at them with eyes of
blank blue and her vacuous smile. A vague sense of injury was over
Ellen, in spite of her delight and her gratitude--a sense of injury
which she could not fathom, and for which she chided herself.
However, Andrew felt it also.

After this surprising benefactress and Robert had gone, after
repeated courtesies and assurances of obligation on both sides,
Andrew turned to Fanny. "What does she do it for?" he asked.

"Hush; she'll hear you."

"I can't help it. What does she do it for? Ellen isn't anything to
her."

Fanny looked at him with a meaning smile and nod which made her
tear-stained face fairly grotesque.

"What do you mean lookin' that way?" demanded Andrew.

"Oh, you wait and see," said Fanny, with meaning, and would say no
more. She was firm in her conclusion that Cynthia was educating
their girl to marry her favorite nephew, but that never occurred to
Andrew. He continued to feel, while supremely grateful and
overwhelmed with delight at this good fortune for Ellen, the
distrust and resentment of a proud soul under obligation for which
he sees no adequate reason, and especially when it is directed
towards a beloved one to whom he would fain give of his own strength
and treasure.

As for Ellen, she was in a tumult of wonder and delight, but when
she looked at the doll in her corner there came again that vague
sense of injury, and she felt again as if in some way she were being
robbed instead of being made the object of benefit.

After Ellen had gone to bed that night she wondered if she ought to
go to college, and maybe gain thereby a career which was beyond
anything her own loved ones had known, and if it were not better for
her to go to work in the shop after all.



Chapter XXII


When Mrs. Zelotes was made acquainted with the plan for sending
Ellen to Vassar she astonished Fanny. Fanny ran over the next
morning, after Andrew had gone to work, to tell her mother-in-law.
She sat a few minutes in the sitting-room, where the old lady was
knitting, before she unfolded the burden of her errand.

"Cynthia Lennox came to our house last night with Robert Lloyd," she
said, finally.

"Did they?" remarked Mrs. Zelotes, who had known perfectly well that
they had come, having recognized the Lennox carriage in the
moonlight, and having been ever since devoured with curiosity, which
she would have died rather than betray.

"Yes, they did," said Fanny. Then she added, after a pause which
gave wonderful impressiveness to the news, "Cynthia Lennox wants to
send Ellen to college--to Vassar College."

Then she jumped, for the old woman seemed to spring at her like
released wire.

"Send her to college!" said she. "What does she want to send her to
college for? What right has Cynthia Lennox got to send Ellen
Brewster anywhere?"

Fanny stared at her dazedly.

"What right has she got interfering?" demanded Mrs. Zelotes again.

"Why," replied Fanny, stammering, "she thought Ellen was so smart.
She heard her valedictory, and the school-teacher had talked about
her, what a good scholar she was, and she thought it would be nice
for her to go to college, and she should be very much obliged
herself, and feel that we were granting her a great pleasure and
privilege if we allowed her to send Ellen to Vassar."

All unconsciously Fanny imitated to the life Cynthia's soft elegance
of speech and language.

"Pshaw!" said Mrs. Zelotes; but still she said it not so much
angrily as doubtfully. "It's the first time I ever heard of Cynthia
Lennox doing such a thing as that," said she. "I never knew she was
given to sending girls to college. I never heard of her giving
anything to anybody."

Fanny looked mysteriously at her mother-in-law with sudden
confidence. "Look here," she said.

"What?"

The two women looked at each other, and neither said a word, but the
meaning of one flashed to the other like telegraphy.

"Do you s'pose that's it?" said Mrs. Zelotes, her old face relaxing
into half-shamed, half-pleased smiles.

"Yes, I do," said Fanny, emphatically.

"You do?"

"Yes, I 'ain't a doubt of it."

"He did act as if he couldn't take his eyes off her at the
exhibition," agreed Mrs. Zelotes, reflectively; "mebbe you're
right."

"I know I'm right just as well as if I'd seen it."

"Well, mebbe you are. What does Andrew say?"

"Oh, he wishes he was the one to do it."

"Of course he does--he's a Brewster," said his mother.

"But he's got sense enough to be pleased that Ellen has got the
chance."

"He ain't any more pleased than I be at anything that's a good
chance for Ellen," said the grandmother; but all the same, after
Fanny had gone, her joy had a sharp sting for her. She was not one
who could take a gift to heart without feeling its sharp edge.

Had Ellen's sentiment been analyzed, she felt in something the same
way that her grandmother did. However, she had begun to dream
definitely about Robert, and the reflection had come, too, that this
might make her more his equal, as nearly his equal as Maud
Hemingway.

Maud Hemingway went to college, and so would she. Of the minor
accessories of wealth she thought not so much. She looked at her
hands, which were very small and as delicately white as flowers, and
reflected with a sense of comfort, of which she was ashamed, that
she would not need ever to stain them with leather now. She looked
at the homeward stream of dingy girls from the shops, and thought
with a sense of escape that she would never have to join them; but
she was conscious of loving Abby better, and Maria, who had also
entered Lloyd's. Abby, when she heard the news about Vassar, had
looked at her with a sort of fierce exultation.

"Thank the Lord, you're out of it, anyhow!" she cried, fervently, as
a soul might in the midst of flames.

Maria had smiled at her with the greatest sweetness and a certain
wistfulness. Maria was growing delicate, and seemed to inherit her
father's consumptive tendencies.

"I am so glad, Ellen," she said. Then she added, "I suppose we
sha'n't see so much of you."

"Of course we sha'n't, Maria Atkins," interposed Abby, "and it won't
be fitting we should. It won't be best for Ellen to associate with
shop-girls when she's going to Vassar College."

But Ellen had cast an impetuous arm around a neck of each.

"If ever I do such a thing as that!" said she. "If ever I turn a
cold shoulder to either of you for such a reason as that! What's
Vassar College to hearts? That's at the bottom of everything in this
world, anyhow. I guess you'll see it won't make any difference
unless you keep on thinking such things. If you do--if you think I
can do anything like that--I won't love you so much."

Ellen faced them both with gathering indignation. Suddenly this
ignoble conception of herself in the minds of her friends stung her
to resentment. But Abby seized her in two wiry little arms.

"I never did, I never did!" she cried. "Don't I know what you are
made of, Ellen Brewster? Don't you think I know? But after all, it
might be better for you if you were worse. That was all I meant."

Ellen, one afternoon, set out in her pretty challis, a white ground
with long sprays of blue flowers running over it, and a blue ribbon
at her neck and waist, and her leghorn hat with white ribbons, and a
knot of forget-me-nots under the brim. She wore her one pair of nice
gloves, too, but those she did not put on until she reached the
corner of the street where Cynthia lived. Then she rubbed them on
carefully, holding up her challis skirts under one arm.

Cynthia was at home, seated on the back veranda, in a rattan chair,
with a book which she was not reading. Ellen stood before her, in
her cheap attire, which she wore with an air which seemed to make it
precious, such faith she had in it. Ellen regarded her coarse
blue-flowered challis with an innocent admiration which seemed
almost able to glorify it into silk. Cynthia took in at a glance the
exceeding commonness of it all; she saw the hat, the like of which
could be seen in the milliners' windows at fabulously low prices;
the foam of spurious lace and the spray of wretched blue flowers
made her shudder. "The poor child, she must have something better
than that," she thought, and insensibly she also thought that the
girl must lose her evident faith in the splendor of such attire;
must change her standard of taste. She rose and greeted Ellen
sweetly, though somewhat reservedly. When the two were seated
opposite each other, Cynthia tried to talk pleasantly, but all the
time with a sub-consciousness as one will have of some deformity
which must be ignored. The girl looked so common to her in this
array that she began to have a hopeless feeling of disgust about it
all. Was it not manifestly unwise to try to elevate a girl who took
such evident satisfaction in a gown like that, in a hat like that?
Ellen wore her watch and chain ostentatiously. The watch was too
large for a chatelaine, but she had looped the heavy chain across
her bosom, and pinned it with the brooch which Abby Atkins had given
her, so it hung suspended. Cynthia riveted her eyes helplessly upon
that as she talked.

"I hope you are having a pleasant vacation," said she, as she looked
at the watch, and all at once Ellen knew.

Ellen replied that she was having a very pleasant vacation, then she
plunged at once into the subject of her call, though with inward
trembling.

"Miss Lennox," said she--and she followed the lines of a little
speech which she had been rehearsing to herself all the way
there--"I am very grateful to you for what you propose doing for me.
It will make a difference to me during my whole life. I cannot begin
to tell you how grateful I am."

"I am very grateful to be allowed to do it," replied Cynthia, with
her unfailing refrain of gentle politeness, but a kindly glance was
in her eyes. Something in the girl's tone touched her. It was
exceedingly earnest, with the simple earnestness of childhood.
Moreover, Ellen was regarding her with great, steadfast, serious
eyes, like a baby's who shrinks and yet will have her will of
information.

"I wanted to say," Ellen continued--and her voice became insensibly
hushed, and she cast a glance around at the house and the leafy
grounds, as if to be sure that no one was within hearing--"that I
should never under any circumstances have said anything regarding
what happened so long ago. That I never have and never should have,
that I never thought of doing such a thing."

Then the elder woman's face flushed a burning red, and she knew at
once what the girl had suspected. "You might proclaim it on the
house-tops if it would please you," she cried out, vehemently. "If
you think--if you think--"

"Oh, I do not!" cried Ellen, in an agony of pleading. "Indeed, I do
not. It was only that--I--feared lest you might think I would be
mean enough to tell."

"I would have told, myself, long ago if there had been only myself
to consider," said Cynthia, still red with anger, and her voice
strained. All at once she seemed to Ellen more like the woman of her
childhood. "Yes, I would," said she, hotly--"I will now."

"Oh, I beg you not!" cried Ellen.

"I will go with you this minute and tell your mother," Cynthia said,
rising.

Ellen sprang up and moved towards her as if to push her back in her
chair. "Oh, please don't!" she cried. "Please don't. You don't know
mother; and it would do no good. It was only because I wondered if
you could have thought I would tell, if I would be so mean."

"And you thought, perhaps, I was bribing you not to tell, with
Vassar College," Cynthia said, suddenly. "Well, you have suspected
me of something which was undeserved."

"I am very sorry," Ellen said. "I did not suspect, really, but I do
not know why you do this for me."  She said the last with her steady
eyes of interrogation on Cynthia's face.

"You know the reasons I have given."

"I do not think they were the only ones," Ellen replied, stoutly. "I
do not think my valedictory was so good as to warrant so much, and I
do not think I am so smart as to warrant so much, either."

Cynthia laughed. She sat down again. "Well," she said, "you are not
one to swallow praise greedily."  Then her tone changed. "I owe it
to you to tell you why I wish to do this," she said, "and I will.
You are an honest girl, with yourself as well as with other
people--too honest, perhaps, and you deserve that I should be honest
with you. I am not doing this for you in the least, my dear."

Ellen stared at her.

"No, I am not," repeated Cynthia. "You are a very clever, smart
girl, I am sure, and it will be a nice thing for you to have a
better education, and be able to take a higher place in the world,
but I am not doing it for you. When you were a little child I would
have done everything, given my life almost, for you, but I never
care so much for children when they grow up. I am not doing this for
you, but for your mother."

"My mother?" said Ellen.

"Yes, your mother. I know what agony your mother must have been in,
that time when I kept you, and I want to atone in some way. I think
this is a good way. I don't think you need to hesitate about letting
me do it. You also owe a little atonement to your mother. It was not
right for you to run away, in the first place."

"Yes, I was very naughty to run away," Ellen said, starting. She
rose, and held out her hand. "I hope you will forgive me," she said.
"I am very grateful, and it will make my father and mother happier
than anything else could, but indeed I don't think--it is so long
ago--that there was any need--"

"I do, for the sake of my own distress over it," Cynthia said,
shortly. "Suppose, now, we drop the subject, my dear. There is a
taint in the New England blood, and you have it, and you must fight
it. It is a suspicion of the motives of a good deed which will often
poison all the good effect from it. I don't know where the taint
came from. Perhaps the Pilgrim Fathers', being necessarily always on
the watch for the savage behind his gifts, have affected their
descendants. Anyway, it is there. I suppose I have it."

"I am very sorry," said Ellen.

"I also am sorry," said Cynthia. "I did you a wrong, and your mother
a wrong, years ago. I wonder at myself now, but you don't know the
temptation. You will never know how you looked to me that night."

Cynthia's voice took on a tone of ineffable tenderness and yearning.
Ellen saw again the old expression in her face; suddenly she looked
as before, young and beautiful, and full of a boundless attraction.
The girl's heart fairly leaped towards her with an impulse of
affection. She could in that minute have fallen at her feet, have
followed her to the end of the world. A great love and admiration
which had gotten its full growth in a second under the magic of
a look and a tone shook her from head to foot. She went close to
Cynthia, and leaned over her, putting her round, young face down to
the elder woman's. "Oh, I love you, I love you," whispered Ellen,
with a fervor which was strange to her.

But Cynthia only kissed her lightly on her cheek, and pushed her
away softly. "Thank you, my dear," she said. "I am glad you came
and spoke to me frankly, and I am glad we have come to an
understanding."

Ellen, after she had taken her leave, was more in love than she had
ever been in her life, and with another woman. She thought of
Cynthia with adoration; she dreamed about her; the feeling of
receiving a benefit from her hand became immeasurably sweet.



Chapter XXIII


Ellen, under the influence of that old fascination which Cynthia had
exerted over her temporarily in her childhood, and which had now
assumed a new lease of life, would have loved to see her every day,
but along with the fascination came a great timidity and fear of
presuming. She felt instinctively that the fascination was an
involuntary thing on Cynthia's part. She kept repeating to herself
what she had said, that she was not sending her to Vassar because
she loved her. Strangely enough, this did not make Ellen unhappy in
the least, she was quite content to do all the loving and adoring
herself. She made a sort of divinity of the older woman, and who
expects a divinity to step down from her marble heights, and love
and caress? Ellen began to remember all Cynthia's ways and looks, as
a scholar remembers with a view to imitation. She became her
disciple. She began to move like Cynthia, and to speak like her,
though she did not know it. Her imitation was totally unconscious;
indeed, it was hardly to be called imitation; it was rather the
following out of the leading of that image of Cynthia which was
always present before her mind. Ellen saw Cynthia very seldom. Once
or twice she arrayed herself in her best and made a formal call of
gratitude, and once Fanny went with her. Ellen saw the incongruity
of her mother in Cynthia's drawing-room with a torture which she
never forgot. Going home she clung hard to her mother's arm all the
way. She was fairly fierce with love and loyalty. She was so
indignant with herself that she had seen the incongruity. "I think
our parlor is enough sight prettier than hers," she said, defiantly,
when they reached home and the hideous lamp was lighted. Ellen
looked around the ornate room, and then at her mother, as with a
challenge in behalf of loyalty, and of that which underlies
externals.

"I rather guess it is," agreed Fanny, happily, "and I don't s'pose
it cost half so much. I dare say that mat on her hearth cost as much
as all our plush furniture and the carpet, and it is a dreadful
dull, homely thing."

"Yes, it is," said Ellen.

"I wish I'd been able to keep my hands as white as Miss Lennox's,
an' I wish I'd had time to speak so soft and slow," said Fanny,
wistfully. Then Ellen had her by both shoulders, and was actually
shaking her with a passion to which she very seldom gave rein.

"Mother," she cried--"mother, you know better, you know there is
nobody in the whole world to me like my own mother, and never will
be. It isn't being beautiful, nor speaking in a soft voice, nor
dressing well, it's the being you--_you_. You know I love you best,
mother, you know, and I love my own home best, and everything that
is my own best, and I always will."  Ellen was almost weeping.

"You silly child," said Fanny, tenderly. "Mother knows you love her
best, but she wishes for your sake, and especially since you are
going to have advantages that she never had, that she was a little
different."

"I don't, I don't," said Ellen, fiercely. "I want you just as you
are, just exactly as you are, mother."

Fanny laughed tearfully, and rubbed her coarse black head against
Ellen's lovingly with a curious, cat-like motion, then bade her run
away or she would not get her dress done. A dressmaker was coming
for a whole week to the Brewster house to make Ellen's outfit. Mrs.
Zelotes had furnished most of the materials, and Andrew was to pay
the dressmaker. "You can take a little more of that money out of the
bank," Fanny said. "I want Ellen to go looking so she won't be
ashamed before the other girls, and I don't want Cynthia Lennox
thinking she ain't well enough dressed, and we ought to have let her
do it. As for being beholden to her for Ellen's clothes, I won't."

"I rather guess not," said Andrew, but he was sick at heart. Only
that afternoon the man from whom he had borrowed the money to buy
Ellen's watch and chain had asked him for it. He had not a cent in
advance for his weekly pay; he could not see where the money for
Ellen's clothes was coming from. It was long since the "Golden Hope"
had been quoted in the stock-list, but the next morning Andrew
purchased a morning paper. He had stopped taking one regularly. He
put on his spectacles, and spread out the paper in his shaking
hands, and scrutinized the stock-list eagerly, but he could not find
what he wanted. The "Golden Hope" had long since dropped to a still
level below all record of fluctuations. A young man passing to his
place at the bench looked over his shoulder. "Counting up your
dividends, Brewster?" he asked, with a grin.

Andrew folded up the paper gloomily and made no reply.

"Irish dividends, maybe," said the man, with a chuckle at his own
wit, and a backward roll of a facetious eye.

"Oh, shut up, you're too smart to live," said the man who stood next
at the bench. He was a young fellow who had been a school-mate of
Ellen in the grammar-school. He had left to go to work when she had
entered the high-school. His name was Dixon. He was wiry and alert,
with a restless sparkle of bright eyes in a grimy face, and he cut
the leather with lightning-like rapidity. Dixon had always thought
Ellen the most beautiful girl in Rowe. He looked after Andrew with a
sharp pain of sympathy when he went away with the roll of newspaper
sticking out of his pocket.

"Poor old chap," he said to the facetious man, thrusting his face
angrily towards him. "He has had a devil of a time since he begun to
grow old. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Wait till you begin
to drop behind. It's what's bound to come to the whole boiling of
us."

"Mind your jaw," said the first man, with a scowl.

"You'd better mind yours," said Dixon, slashing furiously at the
leather.

That noon Dixon offered Andrew, shamefacedly, taking him aside lest
the other men see, a piece of pie of a superior sort which his
mother had put into his dinner bag, but Andrew thanked him kindly
and refused it. He could eat nothing whatever that noon. He kept
thinking about the dressmaker, and how Fanny would ask him again to
take some of that money out of the bank to pay her, and how the
money was already taken out.

That evening, when he sat down to the tea-table furnished with the
best china and frosted cake in honor of the dressmaker, and heard
the radiant talk about Ellen's new frills and tucks, he had a cold
feeling at his heart. He was ashamed to look at the dressmaker.

"You won't know your daughter when we get her fixed up for Vassar,"
she told Andrew, with a smirk which covered her face with a network
of wrinkles under her blond fluff of hair.

"Do have some more cake, Miss Higgins," said Fanny. She was radiant.
The image of her daughter in her new gowns had gone far to
recompense her for all her disappointments in life, and they had not
been few. "What, after all, did it matter?" she asked herself, "if a
woman was growing old, if she had to work hard, if she did not know
where the next dollar was coming from, if all the direct personal
savor was fast passing out of existence, when one had a daughter who
looked like that?"  Ellen, in a new blue dress, was ravishing. The
mother looked at her when she was trying it on, with the possession
of love, and the dressmaker as if she herself had created her.

After supper Ellen had to try on the dress again for her father, and
turn about slowly that he might see all its fine points.

"There, what do you think of that, Andrew?" asked Fanny,
triumphantly.

"Ain't she a lady?" asked the dressmaker.

"It is very pretty," said Andrew, smiling with gloomy eyes. Then he
heaved a great sigh, and went out of the south door to the steps.
"Your father is tired to-night," Fanny said to Ellen with a meaning
of excuse for the dressmaker.

The dressmaker reflected shrewdly on Andrew's sigh when she was on
her way home. "Men don't sigh that way unless there's money to pay,"
she thought. "I don't believe but he has been speculating."  Then
she wondered if there was any doubt about her getting her pay, and
concluded that she would ask for it from day to day to make sure.

So the next night after tea she asked, with one of her smirks of
amiability, if it would be convenient for Mrs. Brewster to pay her
that night. "I wouldn't ask for it until the end of the week," said
she, "but I have a bill to pay."  She said "bill" with a murmur
which carried conviction of its deception. Fanny flushed angrily.
"Of course," said she, "Mr. Brewster can pay you just as well every
night if you need it."  Fanny emphasized the "need" maliciously.
Then she turned to Andrew. "Andrew," said she, "Miss Higgins needs
the money, if you can pay her for yesterday and to-day."

Andrew turned pale. "Yes, of course," he stammered. "How much?"

"Six dollars," said Fanny, and in her tone was unmistakable meaning
of the dearness of the price. The dressmaker was flushed, but her
thin mouth was set hard. It was as much as to say, "Well, I don't
care so long as I get my money."  She was unmarried, and her lonely
condition had worked up her spirit into a strong attitude of
defiance against all masculine odds. She had once considered men
from a matrimonial point of view. She had wondered if this one and
that one wanted to marry her. Now she was past that, and considered
with equal sharpness if this one or that one wanted to cheat her.
She had missed men's love through some failing either of theirs or
hers. She did not know which, but she was determined that she would
not lose money. So she bore Fanny's insulting emphasis with
rigidity, and waited for her pay.

Andrew pulled out his old pocket-book, and counted the bills. Miss
Higgins saw that he took every bill in it, unless there were some in
another compartment, and of that she could not be quite sure. But
Andrew knew. He would not have another penny until the next week
when he received his pay. In the meantime there was a bill due at
the grocery store, and one at the market, and there was the debt for
Ellen's watch. However, he felt as if he would rather owe every man
in Rowe than this one small, sharp woman. He felt the scorn lurking
within her like a sting. She seemed to him like some venomous
insect. He went out to the doorstep again, and wondered if she would
want her pay the next night when she went home.



Chapter XXIV


Ellen had a flower-garden behind the house, and a row of sweet-peas
which was her pride. It had occurred to her that she might venture,
although Cynthia Lennox had her great garden and conservatories, to
carry her a bunch of these sweet-peas. She had asked her mother what
she thought about it. "Why, of course, carry her some if you want
to," said Fanny. "I don't see why you shouldn't. I dare say she's
got sweet-peas, but yours are uncommon handsome, and, anyway, it
ought to please her to have some given her. It ain't altogether
what's given, it's the giving."

So Ellen had cut a great bouquet of the delicate flowers, selecting
the shades carefully, and set forth. She was as guiltily conscious
as a lover that she was making an excuse to see Miss Lennox. She
hurried along in delight and trepidation, her great bouquet shedding
a penetrating fragrance around her, her face gleaming white out of
the dusk. She had to pass Granville Joy's house on her way, and saw
with some dismay, as she drew near, a figure leaning over the gate.

He pushed open the gate when she drew near, and stood waiting.

"Good-evening, Ellen," he said. He was mindful not to say "Hullo"
again. He bowed with a piteous imitation of Robert Lloyd, but Ellen
did not notice it.

"Good-evening," she returned, rather stiffly, then she added, in a
very gentle voice, to make amends, that it was a beautiful night.

The young man cast an appreciative glance at the crescent moon in
the jewel-like blue overhead, and at the soft shadows of the trees.

"Yes, beautiful," he replied, with a sort of gratitude, as if the
girl had praised him instead of the night.

"May I walk along with you?" he asked, falling into step with her.

"I am going to take these sweet-peas to Miss Lennox," said Ellen,
without replying directly.

She was in terror lest Granville should renew his appeal of a few
weeks before, and she was in terror of her own pity for him, and
also of that mysterious impulse and longing which sometimes seized
her to her own wonder and discomfiture. Sometimes, in thinking of
Granville Joy, and his avowal of love, and the touch of his hand on
hers, and his lips on hers, she felt, although she knew she did not
love him, a softening of her heart and a quickening of her pulse
which made her wonder as to her next movement, if it might be
something which she had not planned. And always, after thinking of
Granville, she thought of Robert Lloyd; some mysterious sequence
seemed to be established between the two in the girl's mind, though
she was not in love with either.

Ellen was just at that period almost helpless before the demands of
her own nature. No great stress in her life had occurred to awaken
her to a stanchness either of resistance or yielding. She was in the
full current of her own emotions, which, added to a goodly flood
inherited from the repressed passion of New England ancestors, had a
strong pull upon her feet. Sooner or later she would be given that
hard shake of life which precipitates and organizes in all strong
natures, but just now she was in a ferment. She walked along under
the crescent moon, with the young man at her side whose every
thought and imagination was dwelling upon her with love. She was
conscious of a tendency of her own imagination in his direction, or
rather in the direction of the love and passion which he
represented, and all the time her heart was filled with the ideal
image of another woman. She was prostrated with that hero-worship
which belongs to young and virgin souls, and yet she felt the
drawing of that other admiration which is more earthly and more
fascinating, as it shows the jewel tints in one's own soul as well
as in the other.

As for Granville Joy, who had scrubbed his hands and face well with
scented soap to take away the odor of the leather, and put on a
clean shirt and collar, being always prepared for the possibility of
meeting this dainty young girl whom he loved, he walked along by her
side, casting, from time to time, glances which were pure admiration
at the face over the great bunch of sweet-peas.

"Don't you want me to carry them for you?" he asked.

"No, thank you," replied Ellen. "They are nothing to carry."

"They're real pretty flowers," said Granville, timidly.

"Yes, I think they are."

"Mother planted some, but hers didn't come up. Mother has got some
beautiful nasturtiums. Perhaps you would like some," he said,
eagerly.

"No, thank you, I have some myself," Ellen said, rather coldly. "I'm
just as much obliged to you."

Granville quivered a little and shrank as a dog might under a blow.
He saw this dainty girl-shape floating along at his side in a
flutter of wonderful draperies, one hand holding up her skirts with
maddening revelations of whiteness. If a lily could hold up her
petals out of the dust she might do it in the same fashion as Ellen
held her skirts, with no coarse clutching nor crumpling, not
immodestly, but rather with disclosures of modesty itself. Ellen's
wonderful daintiness was one of her chief charms. There was an
immaculateness about her attire and her every motion which seemed to
extend to her very soul, and hedged her about with the lure of
unapproachableness. It was more that than her beauty which roused
the imagination and quickened the pulses of a young man regarding
her.

Granville Joy did not feel the earth beneath his feet as he walked
with Ellen. The scent of the sweet-peas came in his face, he heard
the soft rustle of Ellen's skirts and his own heart-beats. She was
very silent, since she did not wish him to go with her, though she
was all the time reproaching herself for it. Granville kept casting
about for something to say which should ingratiate him with her. He
was resolved to say nothing of love to her.

"It is a beautiful night," he said.

"Yes, it is," agreed Ellen, and she looked at the moon. She felt the
boy's burning, timid, worshipful eyes on her face. She trembled, and
yet she was angry and annoyed. She felt in an undefined fashion that
she herself was the summer night and the flowers and the crescent
moon, and all that was fair and beautiful in the whole world to this
other soul, and shame seized her instead of pride. He seemed to
force her to a sight of her own pettiness, as is always the case
when love is not fully returned. She made an impatient motion with
the shoulder next Granville, and walked faster.

"You said you were going to Miss Lennox's," he remarked, anxiously,
feeling that in some way he had displeased her.

"Yes, to carry her some sweet-peas."

"She must have been real good-looking when she was young," Granville
said, injudiciously.

"When she was young," retorted Ellen, angrily. "She is beautiful
now. There is not another woman in Rowe as beautiful as she is."

"Well, she is good-looking enough," agreed Granville, with
unreasoning jealousy. He had not heard of Ellen's good fortune. His
mother had not told him. She was a tenderly sentimental woman, and
had always had her fancies with regard to her son and Ellen
Brewster. When she heard the news she reflected that it would
perhaps remove the girl from her boy immeasurably, that he would be
pained, so she said nothing. Every night when he came home she had
watched his face to see if he had heard.

Now Ellen told him. "You know what Miss Cynthia Lennox is going to
do for me," she said, abruptly, almost boastfully, she was so eager
in her partisanship of Cynthia.

Granville looked at her blankly. They were coming into the crowded,
brilliantly lighted main street of the city, and their two faces
were quite plain to each other's eyes.

"No, I don't," said he. "What is it, Ellen?"

"She is going to send me to Vassar College."

Granville's face whitened perceptibly. There was a queer sound in
his throat.

"To Vassar College!" he repeated.

"Yes, to Vassar College. Then I shall be able to get a good school,
and teach, and help father and mother."

Granville continued to look at her, and suddenly an intense pity
sprang into life in the girl's heart. She felt as if she were
looking at some poor little child, instead of a stalwart young man.

"Don't look so, Granville," she said, softly.

"Of course I am glad at any good fortune which can come to you,
Ellen," Granville said then, huskily. His lips quivered a little,
but his eyes on her face were brave and faithful. Suddenly Ellen
seemed to see in this young man a counterpart of her own father.
Granville had a fine, high forehead and contemplative outlook. He
had been a good scholar. Many said that it was a pity he had to
leave school and go to work. It had been the same with her father.
Andrew had always looked immeasurably above his labor. She seemed to
see Granville Joy in the future just such a man, a finer animal
harnessed to the task of a lower, and harnessed in part by his own
loving faithfulness towards others. Ellen had often reflected that,
if it hadn't been for her and her mother, her father would not have
been obliged to work so hard. Now in Granville she saw another man
whom love would hold to the ploughshare. A great impulse of loyalty
as towards her own came over her.

"It won't make any difference between me and my old friends if I do
go to Vassar College," she said, without reflecting on the dangerous
encouragement of it.

"You can't get into another track of life without its making a
difference," returned Granville, soberly. "But I am glad. God knows
I'm glad, Ellen. I dare say it is better for you than if--"  He
stopped then and seemed all at once to see projected on his mirror
of the future this dainty, exquisite girl, with her fine intellect,
dragging about a poor house, with wailing children in arm and at
heel, and suddenly a great courage of renunciation came over him.

"It _is_ better, Ellen," he said, in a loud voice, like a hero's, as
if he were cheering his own better impulses on to victory over his
own passions. "It is better for a girl like you, than to--"

Ellen knew that he meant to say, "to marry a fellow like me."  Ellen
looked at him, the sturdy backward fling of his head and shoulders,
and the honest regard of his pained yet unflinching eyes, and a
great weakness of natural longing for that which she was even now
deprecating nearly overswept her. She was nearer loving him that
moment than ever before. She realized something in him which could
command love--the renunciation of love for love's sake.

"I shall never forget my old friends, whatever happens," she said,
in a trembling voice, and it might have all been different had they
not then arrived at Cynthia Lennox's.

"Shall I wait and go home with you, Ellen?" Granville asked,
timidly.

"No, thank you. I don't know how long I shall stay," Ellen replied.
"You are real kind, but I am not a bit afraid."

"It is sort of lonesome going past the shops."

"I can take a car," Ellen said. She extended her hand to Granville,
and he grasped it firmly.

"Good-night, Ellen; I am always glad of any good fortune that may
come to you," he said.

But Granville Joy, going alone down the brilliant street, past the
blaze of the shop-windows and the knots of loungers on the corners,
reflected that he had seen the fiery tip of a cigar on the Lennox
veranda, that it might be possible that young Lloyd was there, since
Miss Lennox was his aunt, and that possibly the aunt's sending Ellen
to Vassar might bring about something in that quarter which would
not otherwise have happened, and he writhed at the fancy of that
sort of good fortune for Ellen, but held his mind to it resolutely
as to some terrible but necessary grindstone for the refinement of
spirit. "It would be a heap better for her," he said to himself,
quite loud, and two men whom he was passing looked at him curiously.
"Drunk," said one to the other.

When he was on his homeward way he overtook a slender girl
struggling along with a kerosene-can in one hand and a package of
sugar in the other, and, seeing that it was Abby Atkins, he
possessed himself of both. She only laughed and did not start. Abby
Atkins was not of the jumping or screaming kind, her nerves were so
finely balanced that they recovered their equilibrium, after
surprises, before she had time for manifestations. There was a
curious healthfulness about the slender, wiry little creature who
was overworked and under-fed, a healthfulness which seemed to result
from the action of the mind upon a meagre body.

"Hullo, Granville Joy!" she said, in her good-comrade fashion, and
the two went on together. Presently Abby looked up in his face.

"Know about Ellen?" said she. Granville nodded.

"Well, I'm glad of it, aren't you?" Abby said, in a challenging
tone.

"Yes, I am," replied Granville, meeting her look firmly.

Suddenly he felt Abby's little, meagre, bony hand close over the
back of his, holding the kerosene-can. "You're a good fellow,
Granville Joy," said she.

Granville marched on and made no response. He felt his throat fill
with sobs, and swallowed convulsively. Along with this womanly
compassion came a compassion for himself, so hurt on his little
field of battle. He saw his own wounds as one might see a
stranger's.

"Think of Ellen dogging around to a shoe-shop like me and the other
girls," said Abby, "and think of her draggin' around with half a
dozen children and no money. Thank the Lord she's lifted out of it.
It ain't you nor me that ought to grudge her fortune to her, nor
wish her where she might have been otherwise."

"That's so," said the young man.

Abby's hand tightened over the one on the kerosene-can. "You are a
good fellow, Granville Joy," she said again.



Chapter XXV


Robert Lloyd was sitting on the veranda behind the green trail of
vines when Ellen came up the walk. He never forgot the girl's face
looking over her bunch of sweet-peas. There was in it something
indescribably youthful and innocent, almost angelic. The light from
the window made her hair toss into gold; her blue eyes sought
Cynthia with the singleness of blue stars. It was evident whom she
had come to see. She held out her flowers towards her with a gesture
at once humble and worshipful, like that of some devotee at a
shrine.

She said "Good-evening" with a shy comprehensiveness, then, to
Cynthia, like a child, "I thought maybe you would like some of my
sweet-peas."

Both gentlemen rose, and Risley looked curiously from the young girl
to Cynthia, then placed his chair for her, smiling kindly.

"The sweet-peas are lovely," Cynthia said. "Thank you, my dear. They
are much prettier than any I have had in my garden this year. Please
sit down," for Ellen was doubtful about availing herself of the
proffered chair. She had so hoped that she might find Cynthia alone.
She had dreamed, as a lover might have done, of a tête-à-tête with
her, what she would say, what Cynthia would say. She had thought,
and trembled at the thought, that possibly Cynthia might kiss her
when she came or went. She had felt, with a thrill of spirit, the
touch of Cynthia's soft lips on hers, she had smelt the violets
about her clothes. Now it was all spoiled. She remembered things
which she had heard about Mr. Risley's friendship with Cynthia, how
he had danced attendance upon her for half a lifetime, and thought
that she did not like him. She looked at his smiling, grizzled,
blond face with distrust. She felt intuitively that he saw straight
through her little subterfuge of the flowers, that he divined her
girlish worship at the shrine of Cynthia, and was making fun of her.

"Do you object to a cigar, Miss Brewster?" asked Robert, and Risley
looked inquiringly at her.

"Oh, no," replied Ellen, with the eager readiness of a child to fit
into new conditions. She thought of the sitting-room at home, blue
with the rank pipe-smoke of Nahum Beals and his kind. She pictured
them to herself sitting about on these warm evenings in their
shirt-sleeves, and she saw the two gentlemen in their light summer
clothes with their fragrant cigars at their lips, and all of a
sudden she realized that between these men and the others there was
a great gulf, and that she was trying to cross it. She did not
realize, as later, that the gulf was one of externals, and of width
rather than depth, but it seemed to her then that from one shore she
could only see dimly the opposite. A great fear and jealousy came
over her as to her own future accessibility to those of the other
kind among whom she had been brought up, like her father and
Granville.

Ellen felt all this as she sat beside Cynthia, who was casting about
in her mind, in rather an annoyed fashion, for something to say to
this young beneficiary of hers which should not have anything to do
with the benefit.

Finally she inquired if she were having a pleasant vacation, and
Ellen replied that she was. Risley looked at her beautiful face with
the double radiance of the electric-light and the lamp-light from
the window on it, giving it a curious effect. It suddenly occurred
to him to wonder why everybody seemed to have such an opinion as to
the talents of this girl. Why did Cynthia consider that her native
ability warranted this forcible elevation of her from her own sphere
and setting her on a height of education above her kind? She looked
and spoke like an ordinary young girl. She had a beautiful face, it
is true, and her shyness seemed due to the questioning attitude of a
child rather than to self-consciousness, but, after all, why did she
give people that impression? Her valedictory had been clever, no
doubt, and there was in it a certain fire of conviction, which,
though crude, was moving; but, after all, almost any bright girl
might have written it. She had been a fine scholar, no doubt, but
any girl with a ready intelligence might have done as well. Whence
came this inclination of all to rear the child upon a pedestal?
Risley wondered, looking at her, narrowing his keen, light eyes
under reflective brows, puffing at his cigar; then he admitted to
himself that he was one with the crowd of Ellen's admirers. There
was somehow about the girl that which gave the impression of an
enormous reserve out of all proportion to any external evidence.
"The child says nothing remarkable," he told Cynthia, after she had
gone that evening, "but somehow she gives me an impression of power
to say something extraordinary, and do something extraordinary.
There is electricity and steel behind that soft, rosy flesh of hers.
But all she does which is evident to the eye of man is to worship
you, Cynthia."

"Worship me?" repeated Cynthia, vaguely.

"Yes, she has one of those aberrations common to her youth and her
sex. She is repeating a madness of old Greece, and following you as
a nymph might a goddess."

"It is only because she is grateful," returned Cynthia, looking
rather annoyed.

"Gratitude may be a factor in it, but it is very far from being the
whole of the matter. It is one of the spring madnesses of life; but
don't be alarmed, it will be temporary in the case of a girl like
that. She will easily be led into her natural track of love. Do you
know, Cynthia, that she is one of the most normal, typical young
girls I ever saw, and that makes me wonder more at this impression
of unusual ability which she undoubtedly gives. She has all the
weaknesses of her age and sex, she is much younger than some girls
of her age, and yet there is the impression which I cannot shake
off."

"I have it, too," said Cynthia, rather impatiently.

"Cynthia Lennox, I don't believe you care in the least for this
young devotee of yours, for all you are heaping benefits upon her,"
Risley said, looking at her quizzically.

"I am not sure that I do," replied Cynthia, calmly.

"Then why on earth--?"

Suddenly Cynthia began speaking rapidly and passionately,
straightening herself in her chair. "Oh, Lyman, do you think I could
do a thing like that, and not repent it and suffer remorse for it
all these years?" she cried.

"A thing like that?"

"Like stealing that child," Cynthia replied, in a whisper.

"Stealing the child? You did not steal the child."

"Yes, I did."

"Why, it was only a few hours that you kept her."

"What difference does it make whether you steal anything for a few
hours or a lifetime? I kept her, and she was crying for her mother,
and her mother was suffering tortures all that time. Then I kept it
secret all these years. You didn't know what I have suffered,
Lyman."

Cynthia regarded him with a wan look.

Risley half laughed, then checked himself. "My poor girl, you have
the New England conscience in its worst form," he said.

"You yourself told me it was a serious thing I was doing," Cynthia
said, half resentfully. "One does not wish one's sin treated lightly
when one has hugged its pricks to one's bosom for so long--it
detracts from the dignity of suffering."

"So I did, but all those years ago!"

"If you don't leave me my remorse, how can I atone for the deed?"

"Cynthia, you are horribly morbid."

"Maybe you are right, maybe it is worse than morbid. Sometimes I
think I am unnatural, out of drawing, but I did not make myself, and
how can I help it?"  Cynthia spoke with a pathetic little laugh.

She leaned her head back in her chair, and looked at a star through
a gap in the vines. The shadows of the leaves played over her long,
white figure. Again to Risley, gazing at her, came the conviction as
of subtle spiritual deformity in the woman; she was unnatural in
something the same fashion that an orchid is unnatural, and it was
worse, because presumably the orchid does not know it is an orchid
and regret not being another, more evenly developed, flower, and
Cynthia had a full realization and a mental mirror clear enough to
see the twist in her own character.

Risley had never kissed her in his life, but that night, when they
parted, he laid a hand on her soft, gray hair, and smoothed it back
with a masculine motion of tenderness, leaving her white forehead,
which had a candid, childish fulness about the temples, bare. Then
he put his lips to it.

"You are a silly girl, Cynthia," he said.

"I wish I were different, Lyman," she responded, and, he felt, with
a double meaning.

"I don't," he said, and stroked her hair with a great tenderness,
which seemed for the time to quite fill and satisfy his heart. He
was a man of measureless patience, born to a firm conviction of the
journey's end.

"There are worse things than loving a good woman your whole life and
never having her," he said to himself as he went home, but he said
it without its full meaning. Risley's "nerves" were always lighted
by the lamp of his own hope, which threw a gleam over unknown seas.



Chapter XXVI


Robert Lloyd accompanied Ellen home, though she had said timidly
that she was not in the least afraid, that she would not trouble any
one, that she could take a car. Cynthia herself had insisted that
Robert should escort her.

"It's too late for you to be out alone," she said, and the girl
seemed to perceive dimly a hedge of conventionality which she had
not hitherto known. She had often taken a car when she was alone of
an evening, without a thought of anything questionable. Some of the
conductors lived near Ellen, and she felt as if she were under
personal friendly escort. "I know the conductor on that car, and it
would take me right home, and I am not in the least afraid," she
said to Robert, as the car came rocking down the street when they
emerged from Cynthia's grounds.

"It's a lovely night," Robert said, speaking quickly as they paused
on the sidewalk. "I am not going to let you go alone, anyway. We
will take the car if you say so, but what do you say to walking?
It's a lovely night."

It actually flashed through Ellen's mind--to such small issues of
finance had she been accustomed--that the young man might insist
upon paying her car-fare if he went with her on the car.

"I would like to walk, but I am sorry to put you to so much
trouble," she said, a little awkwardly.

"Oh, I like to walk," returned Robert. "I don't walk half enough,"
and they went together down the lighted street. Suddenly to Ellen
there came a vivid remembrance, so vivid that it seemed almost like
actual repetition of the time when she, a little child, maddened by
the sudden awakening of the depths of her nature, had come down this
same street. She saw that same brilliant market-window where she had
stopped and stared, to the momentary forgetfulness of her troubles
in the spectacular display of that which was entirely outside them.
Curiously enough, Robert drew her to a full stop that night before
the same window. It was one of those strange cases of apparent
telepathy which one sometimes notices. When Ellen looked at the
market-window, with a flash of reminiscence, Robert immediately drew
her to a stop before it. "That is quite a study in color," he said.
"I fancy there are a good many unrecognized artists among
market-men."

"Yes, it is really beautiful," agreed Ellen, looking at it with eyes
which had changed very little from their childish outlook. Again she
saw more than she saw. The window differed materially from that
before which she had stood fascinated so many years ago, for that
was in a different season. Instead of frozen game and winter
vegetables, were the products of summer gardens, and fruits, and
berries. The color scheme was dazzling with great heaps of tomatoes,
and long, emerald ears of corn, and baskets of apples, and gold
crooks of summer squashes, and speckled pods of beans.

"Suppose," said Robert, as they walked on, "that all the market-men
who had artistic tastes had art educations and set up studios and
painted pictures, who would keep the markets?"

He spoke gayly. His manner that night was younger and merrier than
Ellen had ever seen it. She was naturally rather grave herself. What
she had seen of life had rather disposed her to a hush of respect
than to hilarity, but somehow his mood began to infect her.

"I don't know," she answered, laughing, "I suppose somebody would
keep the markets."

"Yes, but they would not be as good markets. That is, they would not
do as artistic markets, and they would not serve the higher purpose
of catering to the artistic taste of man, as well as to his bodily
needs."

"Perhaps a picture like that is just as well and better than it
would be painted and hung on a wall," Ellen admitted, reflectively.

"Just so--why is it not?" Robert said, in a pleased voice.

"Yes, I think it is," said Ellen. "I do think it is better, because
everybody can see it there. Ever so many people will see it there
who would not go to picture-galleries to see it, and then--"

"And then it may go far to dignify their daily needs," said Robert.
"For instance, a poor man about to buy his to-morrow's dinner may
feel his soul take a little fly above the prices of turnips and
cabbages."

"Maybe," said Ellen, but doubtfully.

"Don't you think so?"

"The prices of turnips and cabbages may crowd other things out,"
Ellen replied, and her tone was sad, almost tragic. "You see I am
right in it, Mr. Lloyd," she said, earnestly.

"You mean right in the midst of the kind of people whom necessity
forces to neglect the æsthetic for the purely useful?"

"Yes," said Ellen. Then she added, in an indescribably pathetic
voice, "People have to live first before they can see, and they
can't think until they are fed, and one needs always to have had
enough turnips and cabbages to eat without troubling about the
getting them, in order to see in them anything except food."

Lloyd looked at her curiously. "Decidedly this child can think," he
reflected. He shrugged his arm, on which Ellen's hand lay, a little
closer to his side.

Just then they were passing the great factories--Lloyd's, and
Briggs's, and Maguire's. Many of the windows in Briggs's and
Maguire's reflected light from the moon and the electric-lamps on
the street. Lloyd's was all dark except for one brilliant spark of
light, which seemed to be threading the building like a
will-o'-the-wisp. "That is the night-watchman," said Robert. "He
must have a dull time of it."

"I should think he might be afraid," said Ellen.

"Afraid of what?"

"Of ghosts."

"Ghosts in a shoe-shop?" asked Robert, laughing.

"I don't believe there has been another building in the whole city
which has held so many heart-aches, and I always wondered if they
didn't make ghosts instead of dead people," Ellen said.

"Do you think they have such a hard time?"

"I know they do," said Ellen. "I think I ate the knowledge along
with my first daily bread."

Robert Lloyd looked down at the light, girlish figure on his arm,
and again the resolution that he would not talk on such topics with
a young girl like this came over him. He felt a reluctance to do so
which was quite apart from his masculine scorn of a girl's opinion
on such matters. Somehow he did not wish to place Ellen Brewster on
the same level of argument on which another man might have stood. He
felt a jealousy of doing so. She seemed more within his reach, and
infinitely more for his pleasure, where she was. He looked
admiringly down at her fair face fixed on his with a serious, intent
expression. He was quite ready to admit that he might fall in love
with her. He was quite ready to ask now why he should not. She was a
beautiful girl, an uncommon girl. She was going to be thoroughly
educated. It would probably be quite possible to divorce her
entirely from her surroundings. He shuddered when he thought of her
mother and aunt, but, after all, a man, if he were firm, need not
marry the mother or aunt. And all this was in spite of a resolution
which he had formed on due consideration after his last call upon
Ellen. He had said to himself that it would not in any case be wise,
that he had better not see more of her than he could help. Instead
of going to see her, he had gone riding with Maud Hemingway, who
lived near his uncle's, in an old Colonial house which had belonged
to her great-grandfather. The girl was a good comrade, so good a
comrade that she shunted, as it were, love with flings of ready
speech and friendly greeting, and tennis-rackets and riding-whips
and foils. Robert had been teaching Maud to fence, and she had
fenced too well. Still, Robert had said to himself that he might
some day fall in love with her and marry her. He charged his memory
with the fact that this was a much more rational course than
visiting a girl like Ellen Brewster, so he stayed away in spite of
involuntary turnings of his thoughts in that direction. However, now
when the opportunity had seemed to be fairly forced upon him, what
was he to do? He felt that he was stirred as he had never been
before. The girl's very soul seemed to meet his when she looked up
at him with those serious blue eyes of hers. He knew that there had
never been any like her for him, but he felt as if in another
minute, if they did not drop topics which he might as well have
discussed with another man, this butterfly of femininity which so
delighted him would be beyond his hand. He wanted to keep her to her
rose.

"But the knowledge must not imbitter your life," he said. "It is not
for a little, delicate girl to worry herself over the problems which
are too much for men."

In spite of himself a tenderness had come into his voice. Ellen
looked down and away from him. She trembled.

"It seems to me that the problems of life, like those in the algebra
we studied at school, are for everybody who can read them, whether
men or women," said she, but her voice was unsteady.

"Some of them are for men to read and struggle with for the sake of
the women," said Robert. His voice had a tender inflection. They
were passing a garden full of old-fashioned flowers, bordered with
box. The scent of the box seemed fairly to clamor over the garden
fence, drowning out the smaller fragrances of the flowers, like the
clamor of a mob. Even the sweetness of the mignonette was faintly
perceived.

"How strong the box is," said Ellen, imperceptibly shrinking a
little from Robert.

When they reached the Brewster house Robert said, as kindly as
Granville Joy might have done, "Cannot we get better acquainted,
Miss Brewster? May I call upon you sometimes?"

"I shall be happy to see you," Ellen said, repeating the formula of
welcome like a child, but she knew when she repeated it that it was
very true. After she had parted from young Lloyd, she went into the
sitting-room where were her mother and father, her mother sewing on
a wrapper, her father reading the paper. Both of them looked up as
the girl entered, and both stared at her in a bewildered way without
rightly knowing why. Ellen's cheeks were a wonderful color, her eyes
fairly blazed with blue light, her mouth was smiling in that
ineffable smile of a simple overflow of happiness.

"Did you ride home on the car?" asked Fanny. "I didn't hear it
stop."

"No, mother."

"Did you come home alone?" asked Andrew, abruptly.

"No," said Ellen, blinking before the glare of the lamp. Fanny
looked at Andrew. "Who did come home with you?" she asked, in a
foolish, fond voice.

"Mr. Robert Lloyd. He was sitting on the piazza when I got there. I
told Miss Lennox I had just as soon come on the cars alone, but she
wouldn't let me, and then he said it would be pleasant to walk,
and--"

"Oh, you needn't make so many excuses," said Fanny, laughing.

Ellen colored until her face was a blaze of roses, she blinked
harder, and turned her head away impatiently.

"I am not making excuses," said she, as if her modesty were
offended. "I wish you wouldn't talk so, mother. I couldn't help it."

"Of course you couldn't," her mother called out jocularly, as Ellen
went into the other room to get her lamp to go to bed.

Fanny was radiant with delight. After Ellen had gone up-stairs, she
kept looking at Andrew, and longing to confide in him her
anticipation with regard to Ellen and young Lloyd, but she
refrained, being doubtful as to how he would take it. Andrew looked
very sober. The girl's beautiful, metamorphosed face was ever before
his eyes, and it was with him as if he were looking after the flight
of a beloved bird into a farther blue which was sacred, even from
the following of his love.



Chapter XXVII


Ellen's first impulse, when she really began to love Robert Lloyd,
was not yielding, but flight; her first sensation, not happiness,
but shame. When he left her that night she realized, to her
unspeakable dismay and anger, that he had not left her, that he
would never in her whole life, or at least it seemed so, leave her
again. Everywhere she looked she saw his face projected by her
memory before her with all the reality of life. His face came
between her and her mother's and father's, it came between her and
her thoughts of other faces. When she was alone in her chamber,
there was the face. She blew out the lamp in a panic of resentment
and undressed in the dark, but that made no difference. When she lay
in bed, although she closed her eyes resolutely, she could still see
it.

"I won't have it; I won't have it," she said, quite aloud in her
shame and rebellion. "I won't have it. What does this mean?"

In spite of herself the sound of his voice was in her ears, and she
resented that; she fought against the feeling of utter rapture which
came stealing over her because of it. She felt as if she wanted to
spring out of bed and run, run far away into the freedom of the
night, if only by so doing she could outspeed herself. Ellen began
to realize the tyranny of her own nature, and her whole soul arose
in revolt.

But the girl could no more escape than a nymph of old the pursuit of
the god, and there was no friendly deity to transform her into a
flower to elude him. When she slept at last she was overtaken in the
innocent passion of dreams, and when she awoke it was, to her angry
sensitiveness, not alone.

When she went down-stairs all her rosy radiance of the night before
was eclipsed. She looked pale and nervous. She recoiled whenever her
mother began to speak. It seemed to her that if she said anything,
and especially anything congratulatory about Robert Lloyd, she would
fly at her like a wild thing. Fanny kept looking at her with loving
facetiousness, and Ellen winced indescribably; still, she did not
say anything until after breakfast, when Andrew had gone to work.
Andrew was unusually sober and preoccupied that morning. When he
went out he passed close to Ellen, as she sat at the table, and
tilted up her face and kissed her. "Father's blessin'," he
whispered, hoarsely, in her ear. Ellen nestled against him. This
natural affection, before which she need not fly nor be ashamed,
which she had always known, seemed to come before her like a shield
against all untried passion. She felt sheltered and comforted. But
Andrew passed Eva Tenny coming to the house on his way out of the
yard, and when she entered Fanny began at once:

"Who do you s'pose came home with Ellen last night?" said she. She
looked at Eva, then at Ellen, with a glance which seemed to uncover
a raw surface of delicacy. Ellen flushed angrily.

"Mother, I do wish--" she began; but Fanny cut her short.

"She's pretendin' she don't like it," she said, almost hilariously,
her face glowing with triumph, "but she does. You ought to have seen
her when she came in last night."

"I guess I know who it was," said Eva, but she echoed her sister's
manner half-heartedly. She was looking very badly that morning, her
face was stained, and her eye hard with a look as if tears had
frozen in them. She had come in a soiled waist, too, without any
collar.

"For Heaven's sake, Eva Tenny, what ails you?" Fanny cried.

Eva flung herself for answer on the floor, and fairly writhed. Words
were not enough expression for her violent temperament. She had to
resort to physical manifestations or lose her reason. As she
writhed, she groaned as one might do who was dying in extremity of
pain.

Ellen, when she heard her aunt's groans, stopped, and stood in the
entry viewing it all. She thought at first that her aunt was ill,
and was just about to call out to know if she should go for the
doctor, all her grievances being forgotten in this evidently worse
stress, when her mother fairly screamed again, stooping over her
sister, and trying to raise her.

"Eva Tenny, you tell me this minute what the matter is."

Then Eva raised herself on one elbow, and disclosed a face distorted
with wrath and woe, like a mask of tragedy.

"He's gone! he's gone!" she shrieked out, in an awful, shrill voice,
which was like the note of an angry bird. "He's gone!"

"For God's sake, not--Jim?"

"Yes, he's gone! he's gone! Oh, my God! my God! he's gone!"

All at once the little Amabel appeared, slipping past Ellen
silently. She stood watching her mother. She was vibrating from head
to foot as if strung on wires. She was not crying, but she kept
catching her breath audibly; her little hands were twitching in the
folds of her frock; she winked rapidly, her lids obscuring and
revealing her eyes until they seemed a series of blue sparks. She
was no paler than usual--that was scarcely possible--but her skin
looked transparent, pulses were evident all over her face and her
little neck.

"You don't mean he's gone with--?" gasped Fanny.

Suddenly Eva raised herself with a convulsive jerk from the floor to
her feet. She stood quite still. "Yes, he has gone," she said, and
all the passion was gone from her voice, which was much more
terrible in its calm.

"You don't mean with--?"

"Yes; he has gone with Aggie."  Eva spoke in a voice like a
deaf-mute's, quite free from inflections. There was something
dreadful about her rigid attitude. Little Amabel looked at her
mother's eyes, then cowered down and began to cry aloud. Ellen came
in and took her in her arms, whispering to her to soothe her. She
tried to coax her away, but the child resisted violently, though she
was usually so docile with Ellen.

Eva did not seem to notice Amabel's crying. She stood in that
horrible inflexibility, with eyes like black stones fixed on
something unseeable.

Fanny clutched her violently by the arm and shook her.

"Eva Tenny," said she, "you behave yourself. What if he has run
away? You ain't the first woman whose husband has run away. I'd have
more pride. I wouldn't please him nor her enough. If he's as bad as
that, you're better off rid of him."

Eva turned on her sister, and her calm broke up like ice under her
fire of passion.

"Don't you say one word against him, not one word!" she shrieked,
throwing off Fanny's hand. "I won't hear one word against my
husband."

Then little Amabel joined in. "Don't you say one word against my
papa!" she cried, in her shrill, childish treble. Then she sobbed
convulsively, and pushed Ellen away. "Go away!" she said, viciously,
to her. She was half mad with terror and bewilderment.

"Don't you say one word against Jim," said Eva again. "If ever I
hear anybody say one word against him I'll--"

"You don't mean you're goin' to stan' up for him, Eva Tenny?"

"As long as I draw the breath of life, and after, if I know
anything," declared Eva. Then she straightened herself to her full
height, threw back her shoulders, and burst into a furious
denunciation like some prophetess of wrath. The veins on her
forehead grew turgid, her lips seemed to swell, her hair seemed to
move as she talked. The others shrank back and looked at her; even
little Amabel hushed her sobs and stared, fascinated. "Curses on the
grinding tyranny that's brought it all about, and not on the poor,
weak man that fell under it!" she cried. "Jim ain't to blame. He's
had bigger burdens put on his shoulders than the Lord gave him
strength to bear. He had to drop 'em. Jim has tried faithful ever
since we were married. He worked hard, and it wa'n't never his fault
that he lost his place, but he kept losin' it. They kept shuttin'
down, or dischargin' him for no reason at all, without a minute's
warnin'. An' it wa'n't because he drank. Jim never drank when he had
a job. He was just taken up and put down by them over him as if he
was a piece on a checker-board. He lost his good opinion of himself
when he saw others didn't set any more by him than to shove him off
or on the board as it suited their play. He began to think maybe he
wa'n't a man, and then he began to act as if he wasn't a man. And he
was ashamed of his life because he couldn't support me and Amabel,
ashamed of his life because he had to live on my little earnin's. He
was ashamed to look me in the face, and ashamed to look his own
child in the face. It was only night before last he was talkin' to
me, and I didn't know what he meant then, but I know now. I thought
then he meant something else, but now I know what he meant. He sat a
long time leanin' his head on his hands, whilst I was sewin' on
wrappers, after Amabel had gone to bed, and finally he looks up and
says, 'Eva, you was right and I was wrong.'

"'What do you mean, Jim?' says I.

"'I mean you was right when you thought we'd better not get married,
and I was wrong,' says he; and he spoke terrible bitter and sad. I
never heard him speak like it. He sounded like another man. I jest
flung down my sewin' and went over to him, and leaned his poor head
against my shoulder. 'Jim,' says I, 'I 'ain't never regretted it.'
And God knows I spoke the truth, and I speak the truth when I say it
now. I 'ain't never regretted it, and I don't regret it now."  Eva
said the last with a look as if she were hurling defiance, then she
went on in the same high, monotonous key above the ordinary key of
life. "When I says that, he jest gives a great sigh and sort of
pushes me away and gets up. 'Well, I have,' says he; 'I have, and
sometimes I think the best thing I can do is to take myself out of
the way, instead of sittin' here day after day and seein' you
wearin' your fingers to the bone to support me, and seein' my child,
an' bein' ashamed to look her in the face. Sometimes I think you an'
Amabel would be a damned sight better off without me than with me,
and I'm done for anyway, and it don't make much difference what I do
next.'

"'Jim Tenny, you jest quit talkin' in such a way as this,' says I,
for I thought he meant to make away with himself, but that wa'n't
what he meant. Aggie Bemis had been windin' her net round him, and
he wa'n't nothin' but a man, and all discouraged, and he gave in.
Any man would in his place. He ain't to blame. It's the tyrants
that's over us all that's to blame."  Eva's voice shrilled higher.
"Curse them!" she shrieked. "Curse them all!--every rich man in this
gold-ridden country!"

"Eva Tenny, you're beside yourself," said Fanny, who was herself
white to her lips, yet she viewed her sister indignantly, as one
violent nature will view another when it is overborne and carried
away by a kindred passion.

"Wonder if you'd be real calm in my place?" said Eva; and as she
spoke the dreadful impassibility of desperation returned upon her.
It was as if she suffered some chemical change before their eyes.
She became silent and seemed as if she would never speak again.

"You hadn't ought to talk so," said Fanny, weakly, she was so
terrified. "You ought to think of poor little Amabel," she added.

With that, Eva's dreadful, expressionless eyes turned towards
Amabel, and she held out her hand to her, but the child fairly
screamed with terror and clung to Ellen. "Oh, Aunt Eva, don't look
at her so, you frighten her," Ellen said, trembling, and leaning her
cheek against Amabel's little, cold, pale one. "Don't cry, darling,"
she whispered. "It is just because poor mother feels so badly."

"I am afraid of my mamma, and I want papa!" screamed Amabel,
quivering, and stiffening her slender back.

Eva continued to keep her eyes fixed upon her, and to hold out that
commanding hand.

Fanny went close to her, seized her by both shoulders, and shook her
violently. "Eva Tenny, you behave yourself!" said she. "There ain't
no need of your acting this way if your man has run away with
another woman, and as for that child goin' with you, she sha'n't go
one step with any woman that looks and acts as you do. Actin' this
way over a good-for-nothin' fellow like Jim Tenny!"

Again that scourge of the spirit aroused Eva to her normal state.
She became a living, breathing, wrathful, loving woman once more.
"Don't you dare say a word against Jim!" she cried out; "not one
word, Fanny Brewster; I won't hear it. Don't you dare say a word!"

"Don't you say a word against my papa!" shrilled Amabel. Then she
left Ellen and ran to her mother, and clung to her. And Eva caught
her up, and hugged the little, fragile thing against her breast, and
pounced upon her with kisses, with a fury as of rage instead of
love.

"She always looked like Jim," she sobbed out; "she always did. Aggie
Bemis shall never get her. I've got her in spite of all the awful
wrong of life; it's the good that had to come out of it whether or
no, and God couldn't help Himself. I've got this much. She always
looked like Jim."

Eva set Amabel down and began leading her out of the room.

"You ain't goin'?" said Fanny, who had herself begun to weep. "Eva,
you ain't goin'? Oh, you poor girl!"

"Don't!--you said that like Jim," Eva cried, with a great groan of
pain.

"Eva, you ain't goin'? Wait a little while, and let me do somethin'
for you."

"You can't do anything. Come, Amabel."

Eva and Amabel went away, the child rolling eyes of terror and
interrogation at them, Eva impervious to all her sister's pleading.

When Andrew heard what had happened, and Fanny repeated what Eva had
said, his blame for Jim Tenny was unqualified. "I've had a hard time
enough, knocked about from pillar to post, and I know what she means
when she talks about a checker-board. God knows I feel myself
sometimes as if I wasn't anything but a checker-piece instead of a
man," he said, "but it's all nonsense blamin' the shoe-manufacturers
for his runnin' away with that woman. A man has got to use what
little freedom he's got right. It ain't any excuse for Jim
Tenny that he's been out of work and got discouraged. He's a
good-for-nothing cur, an' I'd like to tell him so."

"It won't do for you to talk to Eva that way," said Fanny. They were
all at the supper-table. Ellen was listening silently.

"She does right to stand up for her husband, I suppose," said
Andrew, "but anybody's got to use a little sense. It don't make it
any better for Jim, tryin' to shove blame off his shoulders that
belongs there. The manufacturers didn't make him run off with
another woman and leave his child. That was a move he made himself."

"But he wouldn't have made that move if the manufacturers hadn't
made theirs," Ellen said, unexpectedly.

"That's so," said Fanny.

Andrew looked uneasily at Ellen, in whose cheeks two red spots were
burning, and whose eyes upon his face seemed narrowed to two points
of brightness. "There's nothing for you to worry about, child," he
said.

All this was before the dressmaker, who listened with no particular
interest. Affairs which did not directly concern her did not awaken
her to much sharpness of regard. She had been forced by
circumstances into a very narrow groove of life, a little foot-path
as it were, fenced in from destruction by three dollars a day. She
could not, view it as keenly as she might, see that Jim Tenny's
elopement had anything whatever to do with her three dollars per
day. She, therefore, ate her supper. At first Andrew had looked
warningly at Fanny when she began to discuss the subject before the
dressmaker, but Fanny had replied, "Oh, land, Andrew, she knows all
about it now. It's all over town."

"Yes, I heard it this morning before I came," said the dressmaker.
"I think a puff on the sleeves of the silk waist will be very
pretty, don't you, Mrs. Brewster?"

Ellen looked at the dressmaker with wonder; it seemed to her that
the woman was going on a little especial side track of her own
outside the interests of her kind. She looked at her pretty new
things and tried them on, and felt guilty that she had them. What
business had she having new clothes and going to Vassar College in
the face of that misery? What was an education? What was anything
compared with the sympathy which love demanded of love in the midst
of sorrow? Should she not turn her back upon any purely personal
advantage as she would upon a moral plague?

When Ellen's father said that to her at the supper-table she looked
at him with unchildlike eyes. "I think it is something for me to
worry about, father," she said. "How can I help worrying if I love
Aunt Eva and Amabel?"

"It's a dreadful thing for Eva," said Fanny. "I don't see what she
is going to do. Andrew, pass the biscuits to Miss Higgins."

"It seems to me that the one that is the farthest behind anything
that happens on this earth is the one to blame," said Ellen,
reverting to her line of argument.

"I don't know but you've got to go back to God, then," said Andrew,
soberly, passing the biscuits. Miss Higgins took one.

"No, you haven't," said Ellen--"you haven't, because men are free.
You've got to stop before you get to God. When a man goes wrong, you
have got to look and see if he is to blame, if he started himself,
or other men have been pushing him into it. It seems to me that
other men have been pushing Uncle Jim into it. I don't think
factory-owners have any right to discharge a man without a good
reason, any more than he has a right to run the shop."

"I don't think so, either," said Fanny. "I think Ellen is right."

"I don't know. It is all a puzzle," said Andrew. "Something's wrong
somewhere. I don't know whether it's because we are pushed or
because we pull. There's no use in your worrying about it, Ellen.
You've got to study your books."  Andrew said this with a look of
pride at Ellen and sidelong triumph at the dressmaker to see if she
rightly understood the magnitude of it all, of the whole situation
of making dresses for this wonderful young creature who was going to
Vassar College.

"I don't know but this is more important than books," said Ellen.

"Oh, maybe you'll find out something in your books that will settle
the whole matter," said Andrew. Ellen was not eating much supper,
and that troubled him. Andrew always knew just how much Ellen ate.

"I don't know what Aunt Eva and poor little Amabel will do," said
she. Ellen's lip quivered.

"Pass the cake to Miss Higgins," said Fanny, sharply, to Andrew. She
gave him a significant wink as she did so, not to talk more about
it.

"Try some of that chocolate cake, Miss Higgins."

"Thank you," said Miss Higgins, unexcitedly.

Andrew had his own cause of worry, and finally reverted to it,
eating his food with no more conception of the savor than if it were
in another man's mouth. He was sorry enough for his wife's sister,
and recognized it as an added weight to his own burden, but just at
present all he could think of was the question if Miss Higgins would
ask for her pay again that night. He had not a dollar in his pocket.
He had been dunned that afternoon by the man who had lent the money
to buy Ellen's watch, there were two new dunning letters in his
pocket, and now if that keen little dressmaker, who fairly looked to
him like a venomous insect, as she sat eating rather voraciously of
the chocolate cake, should ask him again for the three dollars due
her that night! He would not have cared so much, if it were not for
the fact that she would ask him before his wife and Ellen, and the
question about the money in the savings-bank, which was a species of
nightmare to him, would be sure to come to the front.

Suddenly it struck Andrew that he might run away, that he might slip
out after supper, and either go into his mother's house or down the
street. He finally decided on the former, since he reasoned, with a
pitiful cunning, that if he went down the street he would have to
take off his slippers and put on his shoes, and that would at once
betray him and lead to the possible arrest of his flight.

So after supper, while Miss Higgins was trying a waist on Ellen, and
Fanny was clearing the table, Andrew, bareheaded and in his
slippers, prepared to carry his plan into execution. He got out
without being seen, and hurried around the rear of the house, out of
view from the sitting-room windows, resolving on the way that in
order to avert the danger of a possible following him to the
sanctuary of his mother's house, he had perhaps better slip down
into the orchard behind it and see if the porter apples were ripe.
But when, stooping as if beneath some invisible shield, and moving
with a low glide of secrecy, he had gained the yard between the two
houses, the yard where the three cherry-trees stood, he heard
Fanny's high, insistent voice calling him, and knew that it was all
over. Fanny had her head thrust out of her bedroom window. "Andrew!
Andrew!" she called.

Andrew stopped. "What is it?" he asked, in a gruff voice. He felt at
that moment savage with her and with fate. He felt like some
badgered animal beneath the claws and teeth of petty enemies which
were yet sufficient to do him to death. He felt that retreat and
defence were alike impossible and inglorious. He was aware of a
monstrous impatience with it all, which was fairly blasphemy. "What
is it?" he said, and Fanny realized that something was wrong.

"Come here, Andrew Brewster," she said, from the bedroom window, and
Andrew pressed close to the window through a growth of sweetbrier
which rasped his hands and sent up a sweet fragrance in his face.
Andrew tore away the clinging vines angrily.

"Well, what is it?" he said again.

"Don't spoil that bush, Ellen sets a lot by it," said Fanny. "What
makes you act so, Andrew Brewster?"  Then she lowered her voice.
"She wants to know if she can have her pay to-night," she whispered.

"I 'ain't got a cent," replied Andrew, in a dogged, breathless
voice.

"You 'ain't been to the bank to-day, then?"

"No, I 'ain't."

Fanny still suspected nothing. She was, in fact, angry with the
dressmaker for insisting upon her pay in such a fashion. "I never
heard of such a thing as her wantin' to be paid every night," she
whispered, angrily, "and I'd tell her so, if I wasn't afraid she'd
think we couldn't pay her. I'd never have had her; I'd had Miss
Patch, if I'd know she'd do such a mean thing, but, as it is, I
don't know what to do. I 'ain't got but a dollar and seventy-three
cents by me. You 'ain't got enough to make it up?"

"No, I 'ain't."

"Well, all is, I've got to tell her that it ain't convenient for me
to pay her to-night, and she shall have it all together to-morrow
night, and to-morrow you'll have to go to the bank and take out the
money, Andrew. Don't forget it."

"Well," said Andrew.

Fanny retreated, and he heard her high voice explaining to Miss
Higgins. He tore his way through the clinging sweetbrier bushes and
ran with an unsteady, desperate gait down to the orchard behind his
mother's home, and flung himself at full length in the dewy grass
under the trees with all the abandon, under stress of fate, of a
child.



Chapter XXVIII


Andrew Brewster, lying in the dewy grass under the apple-trees,
giving way for almost the first time since his childhood to impulses
which had hitherto, from his New England heredity, stiffened instead
of relaxed his muscles of expression, felt as if he were being stung
to death by ants. He was naturally a man of broad views, who felt
the indignity of coping with such petty odds. "For God's sake, if I
had to be done to death, why couldn't it have been for something?"
he groaned, speaking with his lips close to the earth as if it were
a listening ear. "Why need it all have been over so little? It's
just the little fight for enough to eat and wear that's getting the
better of me that was a man, and able to do a man's work in the
world. Now it has come to this! Here I am runnin' away from a woman
because she wants me to pay her three dollars, and I am afraid of
another woman because--I've been and fooled away a few hundred
dollars I had in the savings-bank. I'm afraid--yes, it has come to
this. I am afraid, afraid, and I'd run away out of life if I knew
where it would fetch me to. I'm afraid of things that ain't worth
being afraid of, and it's all over things that's beneath me."  There
came over Andrew, with his mouth to the moist earth, feeling the
breath and the fragrance of it in his nostrils, a realization of the
great motherhood of nature, and a contempt for himself which was
scorching and scathing before it. He felt that he came from that
mighty breast which should produce only sons of might, and was
spending his whole life in an ignominy of fruitless climbing up
mole-hills. "Why couldn't I have been more?" he asked himself. "Oh,
my God, is it my fault?"  He said to himself that if he had not
yielded to the universal law and longing of his kind for a home and
a family, it might have been better. He asked himself that question
which will never be answered with a surety of correctness, whether
the advancement of the individual to his furthest compass is more to
the glory of life than the blind following out of the laws of
existence and the bringing others into the everlasting problem of
advance. Then he thought of Ellen, and a great warmth of conviction
came over the loving heart of the man; all his self-contempt
vanished. He had her, this child who was above pearls and rubies, he
had her, and in her the furthest reach of himself and progression of
himself to greater distances than he could ever have accomplished in
any other way, and it was a double progress, since it was not only
for him, but also for the woman he had married. A great wave of love
for Fanny came over him. He seemed to see that, after all, it was a
shining road by which he had come, and he saw himself upon it like a
figure of light. He saw that he lived and could never die. Then, as
with a remorseless hurl of a high spirit upon needle-pricks of petty
cares, he thought again of the dressmaker, of the money for Ellen's
watch, of the butcher's bill, and the grocer's bills, and the money
which he had taken from the bank, and again he cowered beneath and
loathed his ignoble burden. He dug his hot head into the grass. "Oh,
my God! oh, my God!" he groaned. He fairly sobbed. Then he felt a
soft wind of feminine skirts caused by the sudden stoop of some one
beside him, and Ellen's voice, shrill with alarm, rang in his ears.
"Father, what is the matter? Father!"

Such was the man's love for the girl that his first thought was for
her alarm, and he pushed all his own troubles into the background
with a lightning-like motion. He raised himself hastily, and smiled
at her with his pitiful, stiff face. "It's nothing at all, Ellen,
don't you worry," he said.

But that was not enough to satisfy her. She caught hold of his arm
and clung to it. "Father," she said, in a tone which had in it, to
his wonder, a firm womanliness--his own daughter seemed to speak to
him as if she were his mother--"you are not telling me the truth.
Something is the matter, or you wouldn't do like this."

"No, there's nothin', nothin' at all, dear child," said Andrew. He
tried to loosen her little, clinging hand from his arm. "Come, let's
go back to the house," he said. "Don't you mind anything about it.
Sometimes father gets discouraged over nothin'."

"It isn't over nothing," said Ellen. "What is it about, father?"

Andrew tried to laugh. "Well, if it isn't over nothin', it's over
nothin' in particular," said he; "it's over jest what's happened
right along. Sometimes father feels as if he hadn't made as much as
he'd ought to out of his life, and he's gettin' older, and he's
feelin' kind of discouraged, that's all."

"Over money matters?" said Ellen, looking at him steadily.

"Over nothin'," said her father. "See here, child, father's ashamed
that he gave way so, and you found him. Now don't you worry one mite
about it--it's nothing at all. Come, let's go back to the house," he
said.

Ellen said no more, but she walked up from the field holding tightly
to her father's poor, worn hand, and her heart was in a tumult. To
behold any convulsion of nature is no light experience, and when it
is a storm of the spirit in one beloved the beholder is swept along
with it in greater or less measure. Ellen trembled as she walked.
Her father kept looking at her anxiously and remorsefully. Once he
reached around his other hand and chucked her playfully under the
chin. "Scared most to death, was she?" he asked, with a shamefaced
blush.

"I know something is the matter, and I think it would be better for
you to tell me, father," replied Ellen, soberly.

"There's nothing to tell, child," said Andrew. "Don't you worry your
little head about it."  Between his anxiety lest the girl should be
troubled, and his intense humiliation that she should have
discovered him in such an abandon of grief which was almost like a
disclosure of the nakedness of his spirit, he was completely
unnerved. Ellen felt him tremble, and heard his voice quiver when he
spoke. She felt towards her father something she had never felt
before--an impulse of protection. She felt the older and stronger of
the two. Her grasp on his hand tightened, she seemed in a measure to
be leading him along.

When they reached the yard between the houses Andrew cast an
apprehensive glance at the windows. "Has she gone?" he asked.

"Who, the dressmaker?"

"Yes."

"She hadn't when I came out. I saw you come past the house, and I
thought you walked as if you didn't feel well, so I thought I would
run out and see."

"I was all right," replied Andrew. "Have you got to try on anything
more to-night?"

"No."

"Well, then, let's run into grandma's a minute."

"All right," said Ellen.

Mrs. Zelotes was sitting at her front window in the dusk, looking
out on the street, as was her favorite custom. The old woman seldom
lit a lamp in the summer evening, but sat there staring out at the
lighted street and the people passing and repassing, with her mind
as absolutely passive as regarded herself as if she were travelling
and observing only that which passed without. At those times she
became in a fashion sensible of the motion of the world, and lost
her sense of individuality in the midst of it. When her son and
granddaughter entered she looked away from the window with the
expression of one returning from afar, and seemed dazed for a
moment.

"Hullo, mother!" said Andrew.

The room was dusky, and they moved across between the chairs and
tables like two shadows.

"Oh, is it you, Andrew?" said his mother. "Who is that with
you--Ellen?"

"Yes," said Ellen. "How do you do, grandma?"

Mrs. Zelotes became suddenly fully awake to the situation; she
collected her scattered faculties; her keen old eyes gleamed in a
shaft of electric-light from the street without, which fell full
upon her face.

"Set down," said she. "Has the dressmaker gone?"

"No, she hadn't when I came out," replied Ellen, "but she's most
through for to-night."

"How do your things look?"

"Real pretty, I guess."

"Sometimes I think you'd better have had Miss Patch. I hope she
'ain't got your sleeves too tight at the elbows."

"They seem to fit very nicely, grandma."

"Sleeves are very particular things; a sleeve wrong can spoil a
whole dress."

Suddenly the old woman turned on Ellen with a look of extremest
facetiousness and intelligence, and the girl winced, for she knew
what was coming. "I see you goin' past with a young man last night,
didn't I?" said she.

Ellen flushed. "Yes," she said, almost indignantly, for she had a
feeling as if the veil of some inner sacredness of her nature were
continually being torn aside. "I went over to Miss Lennox, to carry
some sweet-peas, and Mr. Robert Lloyd was there, and he came home
with me."

"Oh!" replied her grandmother.

Ellen's patience left her at the sound of that "Oh," which seemed to
rasp her very soul. "You have none of you any right to talk and act
as you do," said she. "You make me ashamed of you, you and mother;
father has more sense. Just because a young man makes me a call to
return something, and then walks home with me, because he happened
to be at the house where I call in the evening! I think it's a
shame. You make me feel as if I couldn't look him in the face."

"Never mind, grandma didn't mean any harm," Andrew said, soothingly.

"You needn't try to excuse me, Andrew Brewster," cried his mother,
angrily. "I guess it's a pretty to-do, if I can't say a word in joke
to my own granddaughter. If it had been a poor, good-for-nothing
young feller workin' in a shoe-factory, I s'pose she'd been tickled
to death to be joked about him, but now when it begins to look as if
somebody that was worth while had come along--"

"Grandma, if you say another word about it, I will never speak to
Robert Lloyd again as long as I live," declared Ellen.

"Never mind, child," whispered Andrew.

"I do mind, and I mean what I say," Ellen cried. "I won't have it.
Robert Lloyd is nothing to me, and I am nothing to him. He is no
better than Granville Joy. There is nothing between us, and you make
me too ashamed to think of him."

Then the old woman cried out, in a tone of triumph, "Well, there he
is, turnin' in at your gate now."



Chapter XXIX


Ellen rose without a word, and fled out of the room and out of the
house. It seemed to her, after what had happened, after what her
mother and grandmother had said and insinuated, after what she
herself had thought and felt, that she must. She longed to see
Robert Lloyd, to hear him speak, as she had never longed for
anything in the world, and yet she ran away as if she were driven to
obey some law which was coeval with the first woman and beyond all
volition of her individual self.

When she reached the head of the little cross street on which the
Atkinses lived, she turned into it with relief. The Atkins house was
a tiny cottage, with a little kitchen ell, and a sagging piazza
across the front. On this piazza were shadowy figures, and the dull,
red gleam of pipes, and one fiery tip of a cigar. Joe Atkins, and
Sargent, and two other men were sitting out there in the cool of the
evening. Ellen hurried around the curve of the foot-path to the
kitchen door. Abby was in there, working with the swift precision of
a machine. She washed and wiped dishes as if in a sort of fury, her
thin elbows jerking, her mouth compressed.

When Ellen entered, Abby stared, then her whole face lighted up, as
if from some internal lamp. "Why, Ellen, is that you?" she said, in
a surprisingly sweet voice. Sometimes Abby's sharp American voice
rang with the sweetness of a soft bell.

"I thought I'd run over a minute," said Ellen.

The other girl looked sharply at her. "Why, what's the matter?" she
said.

"Nothing is the matter. Why?"

"Why, I thought you looked sort of queer. Maybe it's the light. Sit
down; I'll have the dishes done in a minute, then we'll go into the
sitting-room."

"I'd rather stay out here with you," said Ellen.

Abby looked at her again. "There is something the matter, Ellen
Brewster," said she; "you can't cheat me. You would never have run
over here this way in the world. What has happened?"

"Let's go up to your room after the dishes are done, and then I'll
tell you," whispered Ellen. The men's voices on the piazza could be
heard quite distinctly, and it seemed possible that their own
conversation might be overheard in return.

"All right," said Abby. "Of course I have heard about your aunt,"
she added, in a low voice.

"Yes," said Ellen, and she felt shamed and remorseful that her own
affairs had been uppermost in her mind, and that Abby had supposed
that she might be disturbed over this great trouble of her poor
aunt's.

"I think it is dreadful," said Abby. "I wish I could get hold of
that woman."  By "that woman" she meant the woman with whom poor Jim
Tenny had eloped.

"I do," said Ellen, bitterly.

"But it's something besides that made you run over here," said Abby.

"I'll tell you when we go up to your room," replied Ellen.

When the dishes were finished, and the two girls in Abby's little
chamber, seated side by side on the bed, Ellen still hesitated.

"Now, Ellen Brewster, what is the matter? You said you would tell,
and you've got to," said Abby.

Ellen looked away from her, blushing. The electric-light from the
street shone full in the room, which was wavering with grotesque
shadows.

"Well," said she, "I ran away."

"You ran away! What for?"

"Oh, because."

"Because what?"

"Because I saw somebody coming."

"Saw who coming?"

Ellen was silent.

"Not Granville Joy?"

Ellen shook her head.

"Not--?"

Ellen looked straight ahead.

"Not young Mr. Lloyd?"

Ellen was silent with the silence of assent.

"Did he go into your house?"

Ellen nodded.

"Where were you?"

"In grandma's."

"And you ran away, over here?"

Ellen nodded.

"Why, Ellen Brewster, didn't you want to see him?"

Ellen turned from Abby with an impatient gesture, buried her face in
the bed, and began to weep.

Abby leaned over her caressingly. "Ellen dear," she whispered, "what
is the matter; what are you crying for? What made you run away?"

Ellen sobbed harder.

Abby looked at Ellen's prostrate figure sadly. "Ellen," she began;
then she stopped, for her own voice quivered. Then she went on,
quite steadily. "Ellen," she said, "you like him."

"No, I don't," declared Ellen. "I won't. I never will. Nothing shall
make me."

But Abby continued to look at her sadly and jealously. "There's a
power over us which is too strong for girls," said she, "and you've
come under it, Ellen, and you can't help it."  Then she added, with
a great, noble burst of utter unselfishness: "And I'm glad, I'm
glad, Ellen. That man can lift you out of the grind."

But Ellen sat up straight and faced her, with burning cheeks, and
eyes shining through tears. "I will never be lifted out of the grind
as long as those I love are in it," said she.

"Do you suppose it would make it any better for your folks to see
you in it all your life along with them?" said Abby. "Suppose you
married a fellow like Granville Joy?"



Chapter XXX


Ellen looked at the other girl in a kind of rage of maidenly shame.
"Why have I got to get married, anyway?" she demanded. "Isn't there
anything in this world besides getting married? Why do you all talk
so about me? You don't seem so bent on getting married yourself. If
you think so much of marriage, why don't you get married yourself,
and let me alone?"

"Nobody wants to marry me that I know of," replied Abby, quite
simply. Then she, too, blazed out. "Get married!" she cried. "Do you
really think I would get married to the kind of man who would marry
me? Do you think I could if I loved him?"  A great wave of red
surged over the girl's thin face, her voice trembled with
tenderness. Ellen knew at once, with a throb of sympathy and shame,
that Abby did love some one.

"Do you think I would marry him if I loved him?" demanded Abby,
stiffening herself into a soldier-like straightness. "Do you think?
I tell you what it is," she said, "I was lookin' only to-day at
David Mendon at the cutting-bench, cutting away with his poor little
knife. I'd like to know how many handles he's worn out since he
began. There he was, putting the pattern on the leather, and cuttin'
around it, standin' at his window, that's a hot place in summer and
a cold one in winter, and there's where he's stood for I don't know
how many years since before I was born. He's one of the few that
Lloyd's has hung on to when he's got older, and I thought to myself,
good Lord, how that poor man must have loved his wife, and how he
must love his children, to be willin' to turn himself into a machine
like that for them. He never takes a holiday unless he's forced into
it; there he stands and cuts and cuts. If I were his wife, I would
die of shame and pity that I ever led him into it. Do you think I
would ever let a man turn himself into a machine for me, if I loved
him? I guess I wouldn't! And that's why, when I see a man of another
sort that you won't have to break your own heart over, whether you
marry him or not, payin' attention to you, I am glad. It's a
different thing, marriage with a man like Robert Lloyd, and a man
like that would never think of me. I'm right in the ranks, and you
ain't."

"I am," said Ellen, stoutly.

"No, you ain't; you don't belong there, and when I see a chance for
you to get out where you belong--"

"I don't intend to make marriage a stepping-stone," said Ellen.
"Sometimes--"  She hesitated.

"What?" asked the other girl.

"Sometimes I think I would rather not go to college, after all."

"Ellen Brewster, are you crazy? Of course, you will go to college
unless you marry Robert Lloyd. Perhaps he won't want to wait."  Then
Abby, dauntless as she was, shrank a little before Ellen's wrathful
retort.

"Abby Atkins, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!" she cried.
"There he's been to see me just twice, the first time on an errand,
and the next with his aunt, and he's walked home with me once
because he couldn't help it; his aunt told him to!"

"But here he is again to-night," said Abby, apologetically.

"What of that? I suppose he has come on another errand."

"Then what made you run away?"

"Because you have all made me ashamed of my life to look at him,"
said Ellen, hotly.

Then down went her head on the bed again, and Abby was leaning over
her, caressing her, whispering fond things to her like a lover.

"There, there, Ellen," she whispered. "Don't be mad, don't feel bad.
I didn't mean any harm. You are such a beauty--there's nobody like
you in the world--that everybody thinks that any man who sees you
must want you."

"Robert Lloyd doesn't, and if he did I wouldn't have him," sobbed
Ellen.

"You sha'n't if you don't want him," said Abby, consolingly.

After a while the two girls bathed their eyes with cold water, and
went down-stairs into the sitting-room. Maria was making herself a
blue muslin dress, and her mother was hemming the ruffles. There was
a cheap blue shade on the lamp, and Maria herself was clad in a blue
gingham. All the blue color and the shade on the lamp gave a curious
pallor and unreality to the homely room and the two women. Mrs.
Atkins's hair was strained back from her hollow temples, which had
noble outlines.

"I'm going to walk a little way with Ellen, she's going home," said
Abby.

"Very well," said her mother. Maria looked wistfully at them as they
went out. She went on sewing on her blue muslin, rather sadly. She
coughed a little.

"Why don't you put up your sewing for to-night and go to bed,
child?" said her mother.

"I might as well sit here and sew as go to bed and lie there. I
shouldn't sleep," replied Maria, with the gentlest sadness
conceivable. There was in it no shadow of complaining. Of late years
all the fire of resistance had seemed to die out in the girl. She
was unfailingly sweet, but nerveless. Often when she raised a hand
it seemed as if she could not even let it fall, as if it must remain
poised by some curious inertia. Still, she went to the shop every
day and did her work faithfully. She pasted linings in shoes, and
her slender little fingers used to fly as if they were driven by
some more subtle machine than any in the factory. Often Maria felt
vaguely as if she were in the grasp of some mighty machine worked by
a mighty operator; she felt, as she pasted the linings, as if she
herself were also a part of some monstrous scheme of work under
greater hands than hers, and there was never any getting back of it.
And always with it all there was that ceaseless, helpless,
bewildered longing for something, she was afraid to think what,
which often saps the strength and life of a young girl. Maria had
never had a lover in her life; she had not even good comrades among
young men, as her sister had. No man at that time would have ever
looked twice at her, unless he had fallen in love with her, and had
been disposed to pick her up and carry her along on the hard road
upon which they fared together. Maria was half fed in every sense;
she had not enough nourishing food for her body, nor love for her
heart, nor exercise for her brain. She had no time to read, as she
was forced to sew when out of the shop if she would have anything to
wear. When at last she went up-stairs to bed, before Abby returned,
she sat down by her window, and leaned her little, peaked chin on
the sill and looked out. The stars were unusually bright for a
summer night; the whole sky seemed filled with a constantly
augmenting host of them. The scent of tobacco came to her from
below. To the lonely girl the stars and the scent of the tobacco
served as stimulants; she formed a forcible wish. "I wish," she
muttered to herself, "that I was either an angel or a man."  Then
the next minute she chided herself for her wickedness. A great wave
of love for God, and remorse for impatience and melancholy in her
earthly lot, swept over her. She knelt down beside her bed and
prayed. An exultation half-physical, half-spiritual, filled her.
When she rose, her little, thin face was radiant. She seemed to
measure the shortness of the work and woe of the world as between
her thumb and finger. The joy of the divine filled all her longing.
When Abby came home, who shared her chamber, she felt no jealousy.
She only inquired whether she had gone quite home with Ellen. "Yes,
I did," replied Abby. "I don't think it is safe for her to go past
that lonely place below the Smiths'."

"I'm glad you did," said Maria, with an angelic inflection in her
voice.

"Robert Lloyd came to see Ellen, and she ran away over here, and
wouldn't see him, because they had all been plaguing her about him,"
said Abby. "I wish she wouldn't do so. It would be a splendid thing
for her to marry him, and I know he likes her, and his aunt is going
to send her to college."

"That won't make any difference to Ellen, and everything will be all
right anyway, if only she loved God," said Maria, still with that
rapt, angelic voice.

"Shucks!" said Abby. Then she leaned over her sister, caught her by
her little, thin shoulders and shook her tenderly. "There, I didn't
mean to speak so," said she. "You're awful good, Maria. I'm glad
you've got religion if it's so much comfort to you. I don't mean to
make light of it, but I'm afraid you ain't well. I'm goin' to get
you some more of that tonic to-morrow."



Chapter XXXI


When Ellen reached home that night she found no one there except her
father, who was sitting on the door-step in the north yard. Her
mother had gone to see her aunt Eva as soon as the dressmaker had
left. "Who was that with you?" Andrew asked, as she drew near.

"Abby," replied Ellen.

"So you went over there?"

Ellen sat down on a lower step in front of her father. "Yes," said
she. She half laughed up in his face, like a child who knows she has
been naughty, yet knows she will not be blamed since she can count
so surely on the indulgent love of the would-be blamer.

"Ellen, your mother didn't like it."

"They had said so many things to me about him that I didn't feel as
if I could see him, father," she said.

Andrew put a hand on her head. "I know what you mean," he replied,
"but they didn't mean any harm; they're only looking out for your
best good, Ellen. You can't always have us; it ain't in the course
of nature, you know, Ellen."

There was a tone of inexorable sadness, the sadness of fate itself
in Andrew's voice. He had, as he spoke, the full realization of that
stage of progress which is simply for the next, which passes to make
room for it. He felt his own nothingness. It was the throe of the
present before the future; it was the pang of anticipatory
annihilation.

"Don't talk that way, father," said Ellen. "Neither you nor mother
are old people."

"Oh, well, it's all right, don't you worry," said Andrew.

"How long did he stay?" asked Ellen. She did not look at her father
as she spoke.

"Oh, he didn't stay at all, after they found out you had gone."

Ellen sighed. After a second Andrew sighed also. "It's gettin'
late," said he, heavily; "mebbe we'd better go in before your mother
comes, Ellen. Mebbe you'll get cold out here."

"Oh no, I shall not," said Ellen, "and I want to hear about poor
Aunt Eva. I don't see what she is going to do."

"It's a dreadful thing makin' a mistake in marriage," said Andrew.

"Uncle Jim was a good man if he hadn't had such a hard time."

Andrew looked at her, then he spoke impressively. "Look here,
Ellen," he said, "you are a good scholar, and you are smarter in a
good many ways than father has ever been, but there's one thing you
want to remember; you want to be sure before you blame the Lord or
other men for a man's goin' wrong, if it ain't his own fault at the
bottom of things."

"There's mother," cried Ellen; "there's mother and Amabel. Where's
Aunt Eva? Oh, father, what do you suppose has happened? Why do you
suppose mother is bringing Amabel home?"

"I don't know," replied Andrew, in a troubled voice.

He and Ellen rose and hastened forward to meet Fanny and Amabel. The
child hung at her aunt's hand in a curious, limp, disjointed
fashion; her little face, even in the half light, showed ghastly.
When she saw Ellen she let go of Fanny's hand and ran to her and
threw both her little arms around her in a fierce clutch as of
terror, then she began to sob wildly, "Mamma, mamma, mamma!"

Fanny leaned her drawn face forward, and whispered to Andrew and
Ellen over Amabel's head, under cover of her sobs, "Hush, don't say
anything. She's gone mad, and, and--she tried to--kill Amabel."



Chapter XXXII


Amabel was a very nervous child, and she was in such terror from her
really terrific experience that she threatened to go into
convulsions. Andrew went over for his mother, whom he had always
regarded as an incontestable authority about children. She, after
one sharp splutter of wrath at the whole situation, went to work
with the resolution of an old soldier.

"Heat some water, quick," said she to Andrew, "and get me a
wash-tub."

Then she told Fanny to brew a mess of sage tea, and began stripping
off Amabel's clothes.

"Let me alone! Mamma, mamma, mamma!" shrieked the child. She fought
and clawed like a little, wild animal, but the old woman, in whose
arms great strength could still arise for emergencies, and in whose
spirit great strength had never died, got the better of her.

When Amabel's clothing was stripped off, and her little, spare body,
which was brown rather than rosy, although she was a blonde, was
revealed, she was as pitiful to see as a wound. Every nerve and
pulse in that tiny frame, about which there was not an ounce of
superfluous flesh, seemed visible. The terrible sensitiveness of the
child appeared on the surface. She shrank, and wailed in a low,
monotonous tone like a spent animal overtaken by pursuers. But Mrs.
Zelotes put her in the tub of warm water, and held her down, though
Amabel's face, emerging from it, had the expression of a wild thing.

"There, you keep still!" said she, and her voice was tender enough,
though the decision of it could have moved an army.

When Amabel had had her hot bath, and had drunk her sage tea by
compulsory gulps, and been tucked into Ellen's bed, her childhood
reasserted itself. Gradually her body and her bodily needs gained
the ascendancy over the unnatural strain of her mind. She fell
asleep, and lay like one dead. Then Ellen crept down-stairs, though
it was almost midnight, where her father and mother and grandmother
were still talking over the matter. Fanny seemed almost as bad as
her sister. It was evident that there was in the undisciplined Loud
family a dangerous strain if too far pressed. She was lying down on
the lounge, with Andrew holding her hand.

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Poor Eva!" she kept repeating.

Then she threw off Andrew's hand, sprang to her feet, and began to
walk the room.

"She'll be as bad as her sister if she keeps on," said Mrs. Zelotes,
quite audibly, but Fanny paid no attention to that.

"What is goin' to be done? Oh, my God, what is goin' to be done?"
she wailed. "There she is locked up with two men watchin' her lest
she do herself a harm, and it's got to cost eighteen dollars a week,
unless she's put in with the State poor, and then nobody knows how
she'll be treated. Oh, poor Eva, poor Eva! Albert Riggs told me
there were awful things done with the State poor in the asylums.
He's been an attendant in one. He says we've got to pay eighteen
dollars a week if we want to have her cared for decently, and
where's the money comin' from?" Fanny raised her voice higher still.

"Where's the money comin' from?" she demanded, with an impious
inflection. It was as if she questioned that which is outside of,
and the source of, life. Everything with this woman, whose whole
existence had been bound and tainted by the need of money, resolved
itself into that fundamental question. All her woes hinged upon it;
even her misery was deteriorated by mammon.

"Where's the money comin' from?" she demanded again. "There's Jim
gone, and all his mother's got is that little, mortgaged place, and
she feeble, and there ain't a cent anywhere, unless--"  She turned
fiercely to Andrew, clutching him hard by the arm.

"You must take every cent of that money out of the savings-bank,"
she cried, "every cent of it. I'm your wife, and I've been a good
wife to you, you can't say I haven't."

"Yes, of course you have, poor girl! Don't, don't!" said Andrew,
soothingly. He was very pale, and shook from head to foot as he
tried to calm Fanny.

"Yes, I've been a good, faithful wife," Fanny went on, in her high,
hysterical voice. "Even your mother can't say that I haven't; and
Eva is my own sister, and you ought to help her. Every cent of that
money will have to come out of the savings-bank, and the house here
will have to be mortgaged; it's only my due. I would do as much for
you if it was your sister. Eva ain't goin' to suffer."

"I guess if you mortgage this house that you had from your father,
to keep a woman whose husband has gone off and left her," said Mrs.
Zelotes, "I guess if you don't go and get him back, and get the law
to tackle him!"

Then Fanny turned on her. "Don't you say a word," said she. "My
sister ain't goin' to suffer, I don't care where the money comes
from. It's mine as much as Andrew's. I've half supported the family
myself sewin' on wrappers, and I've got a right to have my say. My
sister ain't goin' to suffer! Oh, my God, what's goin' to become of
her? Poor Eva, poor Eva! Eighteen dollars a week; that's as much as
Andrew ever earned. Oh, it was awful, it was awful! There, when I
got in there, she had a--knife, the--carving knife, and she had
Amabel's hair all gathered up in one hand, and her head tipped back,
and poor old mother Tenny was holding her arms, and screamin', and
it was all I could do to get the knife away," and Fanny stripped up
her sleeves, and showed a glancing cut on her arm.

"She did that before I got it away from her," she said. "Think of
it, my own sister! My own sister, who always thought so much of me,
and would have had her own fingers cut to the bone before she would
have let any one touch me or Ellen! Oh, poor Eva, poor Eva! What is
goin' to become of her, what is goin' to become of her?"

Mrs. Zelotes went out of the house with a jerk of angry decision,
and presently returned with a bottle half full of whiskey.

"Here," said she to Ellen, "you pour out a quarter of a tumbler of
this, and fill it up with hot water. I ain't goin' to have the whole
family in an asylum because Jim Tenny has run off with another
woman, if I can help it!"

The old woman's steady force of will asserted itself over the
hysterical nature of her daughter-in-law. Fanny drank the whiskey
and water and went to bed, half stupefied, and Mrs. Zelotes went
home.

"You ring the bell in the night if she's taken worse, and I'll come
over," said she to her son.

When Ellen and her father were left alone they looked at each other,
each with pity for the other. Andrew laid a tender, trembling hand
on the girl's shoulder. "Somehow it will all come out right," he
whispered. "You go to bed and go to sleep, and if Amabel wakes up
and makes any trouble you speak to father."

"Don't worry about me, father," returned Ellen. "It's you who have
the most to worry over."  Then she added--for the canker of need of
money was eating her soul, too--"Father, what is going to be done?
You can't pay all that for poor Aunt Eva. How much money have you
got in the bank?"

"Not much, not much, Ellen," replied Andrew, with a groan.

"It wouldn't last very long at eighteen dollars a week?"

"No, no."

"It doesn't seem as if you ought to mortgage the house when you and
mother are getting older. Father--"

"What, Ellen?"

"Nothing," said Ellen, after a little pause. It had been on her lips
to tell him that she must go to work, then she refrained. There was
something in her father's face which forbade her doing so.

"Go to bed, Ellen, and get rested," said Andrew. Then he rubbed his
head against hers with his curious, dog-like method of caress, and
kissed her forehead.

"You go to sleep and get rested yourself, father," said Ellen.

"I guess I won't undress to-night, but I'll lay on the lounge," said
Andrew.

"Well, you speak to me if mother wakes up and takes on again. Maybe
I can do something."

"All right, dear child," said Andrew, lovingly and wearily. He had a
look as if some mighty wind had passed over him and he were beaten
down under it, except for that one single uprearing of love which no
tempest could fairly down.

Ellen went up-stairs, and lay down beside poor little Amabel without
undressing herself. The child stirred, but not to awake, when she
settled down beside her, and reached over her poor little claw of a
hand to the girl, who clasped it fervently, and slipped a protecting
arm under the tiny shoulders. Then the little thing nestled close to
Ellen, with a movement of desperate seeking for protection. "There,
there, darling, Ellen will take care of you," whispered Ellen. But
Amabel did not hear.



Chapter XXXIII


The next afternoon poor Eva Tenny was carried away, and Andrew
accompanied the doctor who had her in charge, as being the only
available male relative. As he dressed himself in his Sunday suit,
he was aware--to such pitiful passes had financial straits brought
him--of a certain self-congratulation, that he would not be at home
when the dressmaker asked for money that night, and that no one
would expect him to go to the bank under such circumstances. But
Andrew, in his petty consideration as to personal benefit from such
dire calamity, reckoned without another narrow traveller. Miss
Higgins stopped him as he was going out of the door, looking as if
bound to a funeral in his shabby Sunday black, with his solemn, sad
face under his well-brushed hat.

"I hate to say anything when you're in such trouble, Mr. Brewster,"
said she, "but I do need the money to pay a bill, and I was
wondering if you could leave what was due me yesterday, and what
will be due me to-day."

But Fanny came with a rush to Andrew's relief. She was in that state
of nervous tension that she was fairly dangerous if irritated. "Look
here, Miss Higgins," said she. "We hesitated a good deal about
havin' you come here to-day, anyway. Ellen wanted to send you word
not to. We are in such awful trouble, that she said it didn't seem
right for her to be thinkin' about new clothes, but I told her she'd
got to have the things if she was going to college, and so we
decided to have you come, but we 'ain't had any time nor any heart
to think of money. We've got plenty to pay you in the bank, but my
husband 'ain't had any time to go there this mornin', what with
seein' the doctor, and gettin' the certificate for my poor sister,
and all I've got to say is: if you're so dreadful afraid as all this
comes to, that you have to lose all sense of decency, and dun folks
so hard, in such trouble as we be, you can put on your things and go
jest as quick as you have a mind to, and I'll get Miss Patch to
finish the work. I've been more than half a mind to have her,
anyway. I was very strongly advised to. Lots of folks have talked to
me against your fittin', but I've always had you, and I thought I'd
give you the chance. Now if you don't want it, you jest pack up and
go, and the quicker the better. You shall have your pay as soon as
Mr. Brewster can get round after he has carried my poor sister to
the asylum. You needn't worry."  Fanny said the last with a sarcasm
which seemed to reach out with a lash of bitterness like a whip. The
other woman winced, her eyes were hard, but her voice was appeasing.

"Now, I didn't think you'd take it so, Mrs. Brewster, or I wouldn't
have said anything," she almost wheedled. "You know I ain't afraid
of not gettin' my pay, I--"

"You'd better not be," said Fanny.

"Of course I ain't. I know Mr. Brewster has steady work, and I know
your folks have got money."

"We've got money enough not to be beholden to anybody," said Fanny.
"Andrew, you'd better be goin' along or you'll be late."

Andrew went out of the yard with his head bent miserably. He had
felt ashamed of his fear, he felt still more ashamed of his relief.
He wondered, going down the street, if it might not be a happier lot
to lose one's wits like poor Eva, rather than have them to the full
responsibility of steering one's self through such straits of
misery.

"I hope you won't think I meant any harm," the dressmaker said to
Fanny, quite humbly.

There was that about the sister of another woman who was being
carried off to an insane asylum which was fairly intimidating.

Miss Higgins sewed meekly during the remainder of the day, having
all the time a wary eye upon Fanny. She went home before supper,
urging a headache as an excuse. She was in reality afraid of Fanny.

Andrew was inexpressibly relieved when he reached home to find that
the dressmaker was gone, and Fanny, having sent Amabel to bed, was
chiefly anxious to know how her sister had reached the asylum. It
was not until the latter part of the evening that she brought up the
subject of the bank. "Do look out to-morrow, Andrew Brewster, and be
sure to take that money out of the bank to pay Miss Higgins," she
said. "As for being dunned again by that woman, I won't! It's the
last time I'll ever have her, anyway. As far as that is concerned,
all the money will have to come out of the bank if poor Eva is to be
kept where she is. How much money was there that she had?"

"Just fifty-two dollars and seventy cents," replied Andrew. "Jim had
left a little that he'd scraped together somehow, with the letter he
wrote to her, and he told her if he had work he'd send her more."

"I'd die before I'd touch it," said Fanny, fiercely. Then she looked
at Andrew with sudden pity. "Poor old man," she said; "it's mighty
hard on you when you're gettin' older, and you never say a word to
complain. But I don't see any other way than to take that money, do
you?"

"No," said Andrew.

"And you don't think I'm hard to ask it, Andrew?"

"No."

"God knows if it was your sister and my money, I would take every
dollar. You know I would, Andrew."

"Yes, I know," replied Andrew, hoarsely.

"Mebbe she'll get better before it's quite gone," said Fanny. "You
say the doctor gave some hope?"

"Yes, he did, if she was taken proper care of."

"Well, she shall be. I'll go out and steal before she sha'n't have
proper care. Poor Eva!"  Fanny burst into the hysterical wailing
which had shaken her from head to foot at intervals during the last
twenty-four hours. Andrew shuddered, thinking that he detected in
her cries a resemblance to her sister's ravings. "Don't, don't,
Fanny," he pleaded. "Don't, poor girl."  He put his arm around her,
and she wept on his shoulder, but with less abandon. "After all,
we've got each other, and we've got Ellen, haven't we, Andrew?" she
sobbed.

"Yes, thank God," said Andrew. "Don't, Fanny."

"That--that's more than money, more than all the wages for all the
labor in the world, and that we've got, haven't we, Andrew? We've
got what comes to us direct from God, haven't we? Don't think I'm
silly, Andrew--haven't we?"

"Yes, yes, we have--you are right, Fanny," replied Andrew.

"I guess I am, too," she assented, looking up in Andrew's poor, worn
face with eyes of sudden bravery. "We'll get along somehow--don't
you worry, old man. I guess we'll come out all right, somehow. We'll
use that money in the bank as far as it goes, and then I guess some
way will be opened."

Then there came over Andrew's exaltation, to which Fanny's words had
spurred his flagging spirit, a damper of utter mortification and
guilt. He felt that he could bear this no longer. He opened his
mouth to tell her what he had done with the money in the bank, when
there came a knock on the door, and Fanny fled into the bedroom. She
had unfastened her dress, and her face was stained with tears. She
shut the bedroom door tightly as Andrew opened the outer one.

The man who had loaned him the money to buy Ellen's watch stood
there. His name was William Evarts, and he worked in the
stitching-room of McGuire's factory, in which Andrew was employed.
He was reported well-to-do, and to have amassed considerable money
from judicious expenditures of his savings, and to be strictly
honest, but hard in his dealings. He was regarded with a covert
disfavor by his fellow-workmen, as if he were one of themselves who
had somehow elevated himself to a superior height by virtue of their
backs. If William Evarts had acquired prosperity through gambling in
mines, they would have had none of that feeling; they would have
recognized the legitimacy of luck in the conduct of affairs. He was
in a way a reproach to them. "Why can't you get along and save as
well as William Evarts?" many a man's monitor asked of him. "He
doesn't earn any more than you do, and has had as many expenses in
his family."  The man not being able to answer the question to his
own credit, disliked William Evarts who had instigated it.

Andrew, who had in his character a vein of sterling justice, yet
felt that he almost hated William Evarts as he stood there before
him, small and spare, snapping as it were with energy like electric
wires, the strong lines in his clean-shaven face evident in the
glare of the street-lamp.

"Good-evening," Andrew said, and he spoke like a criminal before a
judge, and at that moment he felt like one.

"Good-evening," responded the other man. Then he added, in a hushed
voice at first, for he had fineness to appreciate a sort of
indecency in dunning, in asking a man for even his rightful due, and
he had a regard for possible listening ears of femininity, "I was
passing by, and I thought I'd call and see if it was convenient for
you to pay me that money."

"I'm sorry," Andrew responded, with utter subjection. He looked and
felt ignoble. "I haven't got it, Evarts."

"When are you going to have it?" asked the other, in a slightly
raised, ominous voice.

"Just as soon as I can possibly get it," replied Andrew, softly and
piteously. Ellen's chamber was directly overhead. He thought of the
possibility of her overhearing.

"Look at here, Andrew Brewster," said the other man, and this time
with brutal, pitiless force. When it came to the prospect of losing
money he became as merciless as a machine. Something diabolical in
remorselessness seemed to come to the surface, and reveal wheels of
grinding for his fellow-men. "Look at here," he said, "I want to
know right out, and no dodging. Have you got the money to pay
me--yes or no?"

"No," said Andrew then, with a manliness born of desperation.
He had the feeling of one who will die fighting. He wished that
Evarts would speak lower on account of Ellen, but he was prepared
to face even that. The man's speech came with the gliddering
rush of an electric car; it was a concentration of words into
one intensity of meaning; he elided everything possible, he
ran all his words together. He spoke something in this wise:
"GoddamnyouAndrewBrewster, for comin'to borrow money to buy
your girl a watch when you had nothin' to pay for't with,
whatbusinesshadyourgirlwithawatchanyhow,I'dliket'know? My
girl'ain'tgotno watch. I'veputmymoneyinthebank. It'srobbery.
I'llhavethelawonye. I'llsueyou. I'll--"

At that moment something happened. The man, William Evarts, who was
talking with a vociferousness which seemed cutting and lacerating to
the ear, who was brandishing an arm for emphasis in a circle of
frenzy, fairly jumped to one side. The girl, Ellen Brewster, in a
light wrapper, which she had thrown over her night-gown, came with
such a speed down the stairs which led to the entry directly before
the door, that she seemed to be flying. White ruffles eddied around
her little feet, her golden hair was floating out like a flag. She
came close to William Evarts. "Will you please not speak so loud,"
said she, in a voice which her father had never heard from her lips
before. It was a voice of pure command, and of command which carried
with it the consciousness of power to enforce. She stood before
William Evarts, and her fine smallness seemed intensified by her
spirit to magnificence. The man shrank back a little, he had the
impression as of some one overtowering him, and yet the girl came
scarcely to his shoulder. "Please do not speak so loud, you will
wake Amabel," she said, and Evarts muttered, like a dog under a
whip, that he didn't want to wake her up.

"You must not," said Ellen. "Now here is the watch and chain. I
suppose that will do as well as your money if you cannot afford to
wait for my father to pay you. My father will pay you in time. He
has never borrowed anything of any man which he has not meant to pay
back, and will not pay back. If you cannot afford to wait, take the
watch and chain."

The man looked at her stupefied.

"Here," said Ellen; "take it."

"I don't want your watch an' chain," muttered Evarts.

"You have either got to take them or wait for your money," said
Ellen.

"I'll wait," said Evarts. He was looking at the girl's face with
mingled sentiments of pity, admiration, and terror.

"Very well, then," said Ellen. "I will promise you, and my father
will, that you shall have your money in time, but how long do you
want to wait?"

"I'll wait any time. I ain't in any straits for the money, if I get
it in the end," said Evarts.

"You will get it in the end," said Ellen. Evarts turned to Andrew.

"Look here, give me your note for six months," said he, "and we'll
call it all right."

"All right," said Andrew, again.

"If you are not satisfied with that," said Ellen, with a tone as if
she were conferring inestimable benefits, so proud it was, "you can
take the watch and chain. It is not hurt in the least. Here."  She
was fairly insolent. Evarts regarded her with a mixture of
admiration and terror. He told somebody the next day that Andrew
Brewster had a stepper of a daughter, but he did not give his
reasons for the statement. He had a sense of honor, and he had been
in love with a girl as young before he married his wife, who had
been a widow older than he, worth ten thousand dollars from her
first husband. He could no more have taken the girl's watch and
chain than he would have killed her.

"I'm quite satisfied," he replied to her, making a repellant
motion towards the watch and dangling chain glittering in the
electric-light.

"Very well, then," said Ellen, and she threw the chain over her
neck.

"You just bring that I O U to the shop to-mor-mor," said Evarts to
Andrew; then, with a "Good-evening," he was off. They heard him hail
an electric-car passing, and that, although he never took a car, but
walked to save the fare. He had been often heard to say that he for
one did not support the street railroad.

After he had gone, Ellen turned to her father, and flung a silent
white arm slipping from her sleeve loose around his neck, and pulled
his head to her shoulder. "Now look here, father," she said, "you've
been through lots to-day, and you'd better go to bed and go to
sleep. I don't think mother was waked up--if she had been, she would
have been out here."

"Look here, Ellen, I want to tell you," Andrew began, pitifully. He
was catching his breath like a child with sobs.

"I don't want to hear anything," replied Ellen, firmly. "Whatever
you did was right, father."

"I ought to tell you, Ellen!"

"You ought to tell me nothing," said Ellen. "You are all tired out,
father. You can't do anything that isn't right for me. Now go to bed
and go to sleep."

Ellen stroked her father's thin gray hair with exactly the same
tender touch with which he had so often stroked her golden locks. It
was an inheritance of love reverting to its original source. She
kissed him on his lined forehead with her flower-like lips, then she
pushed him gently away. "Go softly, and don't wake mother,"
whispered she; "and, father, there's no need to trouble her with
this. Good-night."



Chapter XXXIV


Ellen's deepest emotion was pity for her father, so intense that it
was actual physical pain.

"Poor father! Poor father! He had to borrow the money to buy me my
watch and chain," she kept repeating to herself. "Poor father!"

To her New England mind, borrowing seemed almost like robbing. She
actually felt as if her father had committed a crime for love of
her, but all she looked at was the love, not the guilt. Suddenly a
conviction which fairly benumbed her came over her--the money in the
savings-bank; that little hoard, which had been to the imagination
of herself and her mother a sheet-anchor against poverty, must be
gone. "Father must have used if for something unbeknown to mother,"
she said to herself--"he must, else he would not have told Mr.
Evarts that he could not pay him."  It was a hot night, but the girl
shivered as she realized for the first time the meaning of the wolf
at the door. "All we've got left is this house--this house
and--and--our hands," thought Ellen. She saw before her her father's
poor, worn hands, her mother's thin, tired hands, jerking the thread
in and out of those shameful wrappers; then she looked at her own,
as yet untouched by toil, as white and small and fair as flowers.
She thought of the four years before her at college, four years
before she could earn anything--and in the mean time? She looked at
the pile of her school-books on the table. She had been studying
hard all summer. The thirst for knowledge was as intense in her as
the thirst for stimulants in a drunkard.

"I ought to give up going to college, and go to work in the shop,"
Ellen said to herself, and she said it as one might drive a
probing-knife into a sore. "I ought to," she repeated. And yet she
was far from resolving to give up college. She began to argue with
herself the expediancy, supposing that the money in the bank was
gone, of putting a mortgage on the house. If her father continued to
have work, they might get along and pay for her aunt, who might, as
the doctor had said, not be obliged to remain long in the asylum if
properly cared for. Would it not, after all, be better, since by a
course at college she would be fitted to command a larger salary
than she could in any other way. "I can support them all," reflected
Ellen. At that time the thought of Robert Lloyd, and that awakening
of heart which he had brought to pass, were in abeyance. Old powers
had asserted themselves. This love for her own blood and their need
came between her and this new love, half of the senses, half of the
spirit.

Amabel waked up in the early sultry dawn of the summer day with the
bewilderment of one in a new world. She stared at the walls of the
room, at the shaft of sunlight streaming in the window, then at
Ellen.

"Where am I?" she inquired, in a loud, querulous plaint. Then she
remembered, but she did not cry; instead, her little face took on a
painfully old look.

"You are here with cousin Ellen, darling, don't you know?" Ellen
replied, leaning over her, and kissing her.

Amabel wriggled impatiently away, and faced to the wall. "Yes, I
know," said she.

That morning Amabel would not eat any breakfast, and Fanny suggested
that Ellen take her for a ride on the street-cars. "We can get along
without you for an hour," she whispered, "and I am afraid that child
will be sick."

So Ellen and Amabel set out, leaving Fanny and the dressmaker at
work, and when they were returning past the factories the noon
whistles were blowing and the operatives were streaming forth.

Ellen was surprised to see her father among them as the car swept
past. He walked down the street towards home, his dinner-bag
dangling at his side, his back more bent than ever.

She wondered uneasily if her father was ill, for he never went home
to dinner. She looked back at him as the car swept past, but he did
not seem to see her. He walked with an air of seeing nothing,
covering the ground like an old dog with some patient, dumb end in
view, heeding nothing by the way. It puzzled her also that her
father had come out of Lloyd's instead of McGuire's, where he had
been employed all summer. Ellen, after she reached home, watched
anxiously for her father to come into the yard, but she did not see
him. She assisted about the dinner, which was a little extra on
account of the dressmaker, and all the time she glanced with covert
anxiety at the window, but her father did not pass it. Finally, when
she went out to the pump for a pitcher of water, she set the pitcher
down, and sped to the orchard like a wild thing. A suspicion had
seized her that her father was there.

Sure enough, there he was, but instead of lying face down on the
grass, as he had done before, he was sitting back against a tree. He
had the air of having settled into such a long lease of despair that
he had sought the most comfortable position for it. His face was
ghastly. He looked at Ellen as she drew near, and opened his mouth
as if to speak, but instead he only caught his breath. He stared
hard at her, then he closed his eyes as if not to see her, and
motioned her away with one hand with an inarticulate noise in his
throat.

But Ellen sat down beside him. She caught his two hands and looked
at him. "Father, look at me," said she, and Andrew opened his eyes.
The expression in them was dreadful, compounded of shame and despair
and dread, but the girl's met them with a sort of glad triumph and
strength of love. "Now look here, father," she said, "you tell me
all about it. I didn't want to know last night. Now I want to know.
What is the matter?"

Andrew continued to look at her, then all at once he spoke with a
kind of hoarse shout. "I'm discharged! I'm discharged," he said,
"from McGuire's; they've got a boy who can move faster in my
place--a boy for less pay, who can move faster. I hurried over to
Lloyd's to see if they would take me on again; I've always thought I
should get back into Lloyd's, and I saw the foreman, and he told me
to my face that I was too old, that they wanted younger men. And I
went into the office to see Lloyd, pushed past the foreman, with him
damning me, and I saw Lloyd."

"Was young Mr. Lloyd there?" asked Ellen, with white lips.

"No; I guess he had gone to dinner. And Lloyd looked at me, and I
believe he counted every gray hair in my head, and he saw my back,
and he saw my hands, and he said--he said I was too old."

Andrew snatched his hands from Ellen's grasp, pressed them to his
face, and broke into weeping. "Oh, my God, I'm too old, I'm too
old!" he sobbed; "I'm out of it! I'm too old!"

Ellen regarded him, and her face had developed lines of strength
hitherto unrevealed. There was no pity in it, hardly love; she
looked angry and powerful. "Father, stop doing so, and look at me,"
she said. She dragged her father's hands from his face, and he
stared at her with his inflamed eyes, half terrified, half
sustained. At that moment he realized a strength of support as from
his own lost youth, a strength as of eternal progress which was more
to be relied upon than other human strength. For the first time he
leaned on his child, and realized with wonder the surety of the
stay.

"Now, father, you stop doing so," said Ellen. "You can get work
somewhere; you are not old. Call yourself old! It is nonsense. Are
you going to give in and be old because two men tell you that you
are? What if your hair is gray! Ever so many young men have gray
hair. You are not old, and you can get work somewhere. McGuire's and
Lloyd's are not the only factories in the country."

"That ain't all," said Andrew, with eyes like a beseeching dog's on
her face.

"I know that isn't all," said Ellen. "You needn't be afraid to tell
me, father. You have taken the money out of the savings-bank for
something."

Again Andrew would have snatched his hands from the girl's and
hidden his face, but she held them fast. "Yes, I have," he admitted,
in a croaking voice.

"Well, what if you have?" asked Ellen. "You had a right to take it
out, didn't you? You put it in. I don't know of anybody who had a
better right to take it out than you, if you wanted to."

Andrew stared at her, as if he did not hear rightly. "You don't know
what I did with it, Ellen," he stammered.

"It is nobody's business," replied Ellen. She had an unexplained
sensation as if she were holding fast to her father's slipping
self-respect which was dragging hard at her restraining love.

"I put it in a worthless gold-mine out in Colorado--the same one
your uncle Jim lost his money in," groaned Andrew.

"Well, it was your money, and you had a perfect right to," said
Ellen. "Of course you thought the mine was all right or you wouldn't
have put the money into it."

"God knows I did."

"Well, the best business men in the world make mistakes. It is
nobody's business whether you took the money out or not, or what you
used it for, father."

"I don't see how the bills are going to be paid, and there's your
poor aunt," said Andrew. He was leaning more and more heavily upon
this new tower of strength, this tender little girl whom he had
hitherto shielded and supported. The beautiful law of reverse of
nature had come into force.

Ellen set her mouth firmly. "Don't you worry, father," said she. "We
will think of some way out of it. There's a little money to pay for
Aunt Eva, and maybe she won't be sick long. Does mother know,
father?"

"She don't know about anything, Ellen," replied Andrew, wretchedly.

"I know she doesn't know about your getting thrown out of work--but
about the bank?"

"No, Ellen."

Ellen rose. "You stay here, where it is cool, till I ring the
dinner-bell, father," she said.

"I don't want any dinner, child."

"Yes, you do, father. If you don't eat your dinner you will be sick.
You come when the bell rings."

Andrew knew that he should obey, as he saw the girl's light dress
disappear among the trees.

Ellen went back to the pump, and carried her pitcher of water into
the house. Her mother met her at the door. "Where have you been all
this time, Ellen Brewster?" she asked, in a high voice. "Everything
is getting as cold as a stone."

Ellen caught her mother's arm and drew her into the kitchen, and
closed the door. Fanny turned pale as death and looked at her.
"Well, what has happened now?" she said. "Is your father killed?"

"No," said Ellen, "but he is out of work, and he can't get a job at
Lloyd's, and he took all that money out of the savings-bank a long
time ago, and put it into that gold-mine that Uncle Jim lost in."

Fanny clutched the girl's arm in a grasp so hard that it left a blue
mark on the tender flesh. She looked at her, but did not speak one
word.

"Now, mother," said Ellen, "you must not say one word to father to
scold him. He's got enough to bear as it is."

Fanny pushed her away with sudden fierceness. "I guess I don't need
to have my own daughter teach me my duty to my husband," said she.
"Where is he?"

"Down in the orchard."

"Well, ring the bell for dinner loud, so he can hear it."

When Andrew came shuffling wearily up from the orchard, Fanny met
him at the corner of the house, out of sight from the windows. She
was flushed and perspiring, clad in a coarse cotton wrapper,
revealing all her unkempt curves. She went close to him, and thrust
one large arm through his. "Look here, Andrew," said she, in the
tenderest voice he had ever heard from her, a voice so tender that
it was furious, "you needn't say one word. What's done's done. We
shall get along somehow. I ain't afraid. Come in and eat your
dinner!"

The dressmaking work went on as usual after dinner. Andrew had
disappeared, going down the road towards the shop. He tried for a
job at Briggs's, with no success, then drifted to the corner
grocery.

Ellen sat until nearly three o'clock sewing. Then she went up-stairs
and got her hat, and went secretly out of the back door, through the
west yard, that her mother should not see her. However, her
grandmother called after her, and wanted to know where she was
going.

"Down street, on an errand," answered Ellen.

"Well, keep on the shady side," called her grandmother, thinking the
girl was bound to the stores for some dressmaking supplies.

That night Miss Higgins did not ask for her pay; she had made up her
mind to wait until her week was finished. She went away after
supper, and Ellen followed her to the door. "We won't want you
to-morrow, Miss Higgins," said she, "and here is your pay."  With
that she handed a roll of bills to the woman, who stared at her in
amazement and growing resentment.

"If my work ain't satisfactory," said she--

"Your work is satisfactory," said Ellen, "but I don't want any more
work done. I am not going to college."

There was something conclusive and intimidating about Ellen's look
and tone. The dressmaker, who had been accustomed to regard her as a
child, stared at her with awe, as before a sudden revelation of
force. Then she took her money, and went down the walk.

When Ellen re-entered the sitting-room her father and mother, who
had overheard every word, confronted her.

"Ellen Brewster, what does this mean?"

Andrew looked as if he would presently fall to the floor.

"It means," said Ellen--and she looked at her parents with the brave
enthusiasm of a soldier on her beautiful face--she even laughed--"it
means that I am going to work--I have got a job in Lloyd's."

When Ellen made that announcement, her mother did a strange thing.
She ran swiftly to a corner of the room, and stood there, staring at
the girl, with back hugged close to the intersection of the walls,
as if she would withdraw as far as possible from some threatening
ill. At that moment she looked alarmingly like her sister; there was
something about Fanny in her corner, calculated, when all
circumstances were taken into consideration, to make one's blood
chill, but Andrew did not look at her. He was intent upon Ellen, and
the facing of the worst agony of his life, and Ellen was intent upon
him. She loved her mother, but the fear as to her father's suffering
moved her more than her mother's. She was more like her father, and
could better estimate his pain under stress. Andrew rose to his feet
and stood looking at Ellen, and she at him. She tried to meet the
drawn misery and incredulousness of his face with a laugh of
reassurance.

"Yes, I've got a job in Lloyd's," said she. "What's the matter,
father?"

Then Andrew made an almost inarticulate response; it sounded like a
croak in an unknown tongue.

Ellen continued to look at him, and to laugh.

"Now look here, father," said she. "There is no need for you and
mother to feel bad over this. I have thought it all over, and I have
made up my mind. I have got a good high-school education now, and
the four years I should have to spend at Vassar I could do nothing
at all. There is awful need of money here, and not only for us, but
for Aunt Eva and Amabel."

"You sha'n't do it!" Andrew burst out then, in a great shout of
rage. "I'll mortgage the house--that'll last awhile. You sha'n't, I
say! You are my child, and you've got to listen. You sha'n't, I
say!"

"Now, father," responded Ellen's voice, which seemed to have in it a
wonderful tone of firmness against which his agonized vociferousness
broke as against a rock, "this is nonsense. You must not mortgage
the house. The house is all you have got for your and mother's old
age. Do you think I could go to college, and let you give up the
house in order to keep me there? And as for grandma Brewster, you
know what's hers is hers as long as she lives--we don't want to
think of that. I have got this job now, which is only three dollars
a week, but in a year the foreman said I might earn fifteen or
eighteen, if I was quick and smart, and I will be quick and smart.
It is the best thing for us all, father."

"You sha'n't!" shouted Andrew. "I say you sha'n't!"

Suddenly Andrew sank into a chair, his head lopped, he kept moving a
hand before his eyes, as if he were brushing away cobwebs. Then
Fanny came out of her corner.

"Get the camphor, quick!" she said to Ellen. "I dun'no' but you've
killed your father."

Fanny held her husband's head against her shoulder, and rubbed his
hands frantically. The awful strained look had gone from her face.
Ellen came with the camphor, and then went for water. Fanny rubbed
Andrew's forehead with the camphor, and held the bottle to his nose.
"Smell it, Andrew," she said, in a voice of ineffable tenderness and
pity. Ellen returned with a glass of water, and Andrew swallowed a
little obediently. Finally he made out to stagger into the bedroom
with Fanny's and Ellen's assistance. He sat down weakly on the bed,
and Fanny lifted his legs up. Then he sank and closed his eyes as if
he were spent. In fact, he was. At that moment of Ellen's
announcement some vital energy in him suddenly relaxed like
overstrained rubber. His face, sunken in the pillow, was both
ghastly and meek. It was the face of a man who could fight no more.
Ellen knelt down beside him, sobbing.

"Oh, father!" she sobbed, "I think it is for the best. Dear father,
you won't feel bad."

"No," said Andrew, faintly. There was a slight twitching in his
hand, as if he wished to put it on her head, then it lay thin and
inert on the coverlid. He tried to smile, but his face settled into
that look of utter acquiescence of fate.

"I s'pose it's the best you can do," he muttered.

"Have you told Miss Lennox?" gasped Fanny.

"Yes."

"What did she say?"

"She was sorry, but she made no objection," replied Ellen,
evasively.

Fanny came forward abruptly, caught up the camphor-bottle, and began
bathing Andrew's forehead again.

"We won't say any more about it," said she, in a harsh voice. "You'd
better go over to your grandma Brewster's and see if she has got any
whiskey. I think your father needs to take something."

"I don't want anything," said Andrew, feebly.

"Yes, you do, too, you are as white as a sheet. Go over and ask her,
Ellen."

Ellen ran across the yard to her grandmother's, and the old woman
met her at the door. She seemed to have an instinctive knowledge of
trouble.

"What's the matter?" she asked.

"Father's a little faint, and mother wants me to borrow the
whiskey," said Ellen. She had not at that time the courage to tell
her grandmother what she had done.

Mrs. Zelotes ran into the house, and came out with the bottle.

"I'm comin' over," she announced. "I'm kind of worried about your
father; he 'ain't looked well for some time. I wonder what made him
faint. Maybe he ate something which hurt him."

Ellen said nothing. She fled up-stairs to her chamber, as her
grandmother entered the bedroom. She felt cowardly, but she thought
that she would let her mother tell the news.

She sat down and waited. She knew that presently she would hear the
old woman's voice at the foot of the stairs. She was resolved upon
her course, and knew that she could not be shaken in it, yet she
dreaded unspeakably the outburst of grief and anger which she knew
would come from her grandmother. She felt as if she had faced two
fires, and now before the third she quailed a little.

It was not long before the expected summons came.

"Ellen--Ellen Brewster, come down here!"

Ellen went down. Her grandmother met her at the foot of the stairs.
She was trembling from head to foot; her mouth twisted and wavered
as if she had the palsy.

"Look here, Ellen Brewster, this ain't true?" she stammered.

"Yes, grandma," answered Ellen. "I have thought it all over, and it
is the only thing for me to do."

Her grandmother clutched her arm, and the girl felt as if she were
in the grasp of another will, which was more conclusive than steel.

"You sha'n't!" she said, whispering, lest Andrew should hear, but
with intense force.

"I've got to, grandma. We've got to have the money."

"The money," said the old woman, with an inflection of voice and a
twist of her features indicative of the most superb scorn--"the
money! I guess you ain't goin' to lose such a chance as that for
money. I guess I've got two hundred and ten dollars a year income,
and I'll give up a half of that, and Andrew can put a mortgage on
the house, if that Tenny woman has got to be supported because her
husband has run off and left her and her young one. You sha'n't go
to work in a shop."

"I've got to, grandma," said Ellen.

The old woman looked at her. It was like a duel between two strong
wills of an old race. "You sha'n't," she said.

"Yes, I shall, grandma."

Then the old woman turned upon her in a fury of rage.

"You're a Loud all over, Ellen Brewster," said she. "You 'ain't got
a mite of Brewster about you. You 'ain't got any pride! You'd just
as soon settle down and work in a shop as do anything else."

Fanny pushed before her. "Look here, Mother Brewster," said she,
"you can just stop! Ellen is my daughter, and you 'ain't any right
to talk to her this way. I won't have it. If anybody is goin' to
blame her, it's me."

"Who be you?" said Mrs. Zelotes, sniffing.

Then she looked at them both, at Ellen and at her mother.

"If you go an' do what you've planned," said she to Ellen, "an' if
you uphold her in it," to Fanny, "I've done with you."

"Good riddance," said Fanny, coarsely.

"I ain't goin' to forget that you said that," cried Mrs. Zelotes.
She held up her dress high in front and went out of the door. "I
ain't comin' over here again, an' I'll thank you to stay at home,"
said she. Then she went away.

Soon after Fanny heard Ellen in the dining-room setting the table
for supper, and went out.

"Where did you get that money you paid the dressmaker with?" she
asked, abruptly.

"I borrowed it of Abby," replied Ellen.

"Then she knows?"

"Yes."

Fanny continued to look at Ellen with the look of one who is
settling down with resignation under some knife of agony.

"Well," said she, "there's no need to talk any more about it before
your father. Now I guess you had better toast him some bread for his
supper."

"Yes, I will," replied Ellen. She looked at her mother pitifully,
and yet with that firmness which had seemed to suddenly develop in
her. "You know it is the best thing for me to do, mother?" she said,
and although she put it in the form of a question, the statement was
commanding in its assertiveness.

"When are you--goin' to work?" asked Fanny.

"Next Monday," replied Ellen.



Chapter XXXV


When Ellen had gone to the factory to apply for work neither of the
Lloyds were in the office, only a girl at the desk, whom she knew
slightly. Ellen had hesitated a little as she approached the girl,
who looked around with a friendly smile.

"I want to see--" Ellen began, then she stopped, for she did not
exactly know for whom she should ask. The girl, who was blond and
trim, clad coquettishly in a blue shirt-waist and a duck skirt, with
a large, cheap rhinestone pin confining the loop of her yellow
braids, looked at her in some bewilderment. She had heard of Ellen's
good-fortune, and knew she was to be sent to Vassar by Cynthia
Lennox. She did not dream that she had come to ask for employment.

"You want to see Mr. Lloyd?" she asked.

"Oh no!" replied Ellen.

"Mr. Robert Lloyd?"  The girl, whose name was Nellie Stone, laughed
a little meaningly as she said that.

Ellen blushed. "No," she said. "I think I want to see the foreman."

"Which foreman?"

"I don't know," replied Ellen. "I want to get work if I can. I don't
know which foreman I ought to see."

"To get work?" repeated the girl, with a subtle change in her
manner.

"Yes," said Ellen. She could hear her heart beat, but she looked at
the other girl's pretty, common face with the most perfect calmness.

"Mr. Flynn is the one you want to see, then," said the girl. "You
know Ed Flynn, don't you?"

"A little," replied Ellen. He had been a big boy when she entered
the high-school, and had left the next spring.

"Well, he's the one you want," said Nellie Stone. Then she raised
her voice to a shrill peal as a boy passed the office door.

"Here, you, Jack," said she, "ask Mr. Flynn to come here a minute,
will you?"

"He don't want to see you," replied the boy, who was small and
spare, laden heavily with a great roll of wrapping paper borne
bayonet fashion over his shoulder. His round, impish face grinned
back at the girl at the desk.

"Quit your impudence," she returned, half laughing herself. "I don't
want to see him; it is this young lady here; hurry up."

The boy gave a comprehensive glance at Ellen. "Guess he'll come," he
called back.

Flynn appeared soon. He was handsome, well shaven and shorn, and he
held himself smartly. He also dressed well in a business suit which
would not have disgraced the Lloyds. His face lit up with
astonishment and pleasure when he saw Ellen. He bowed and greeted
her in a rich voice. He was of Irish descent but American born. Both
his motions and his speech were adorned with flourishes of grace
which betrayed his race. He placed a chair for Ellen with a sweep
which would have been a credit to the stage. All his actions had a
slight exaggeration as of fresco painting, which seemed to fit them
for a stage rather than a room, and for an audience rather than
chance spectators.

"No, thank you," replied Ellen. Then she went straight to the matter
in hand. "I have called to see if I could get a job here?" she said.
She had been formulating her speech all the way thither. Her first
impulse was to ask for employment, but she was sure as to the manner
in which a girl would ordinarily couch such a request. So she asked
for a job.

Flynn stared at her. "A job?" he repeated.

"Yes, I want very much to get one," replied Ellen. "I thought there
might be a vacancy."

"Why, I thought--" said the young man. He was very much astonished,
but his natural polish could rise above astonishment. Instead of
blurting out what was in his mind as to her change of prospects, he
reasoned with incredible swiftness that the change must be a hard
thing to this girl, and that she was to be handled the more tenderly
and delicately because she was such a pretty girl. He became twice
as polite as before. He moved the chair nearer to her.

"Please sit down," he said. He handed to her the wooden arm-chair as
if it had been a throne. Nellie Stone bent frowning over her
day-book.

"Now let me see," said the young man, seriously, with perfect
deference of manner, only belied by the rollicking admiration in his
eyes. "You have never held a position in a factory before, I think?"

"No," replied Ellen.

"There is at present only one vacancy that I can think of," said
Flynn, "and that does not pay very much, but there is always a
chance to rise for a smart hand. I am sure you will be that," he
added, smiling at her.

Ellen did not return the smile. "I shall be contented to begin for a
little, if there is a chance to rise," she said.

"There's a chance to rise to eighteen dollars a week," said Flynn.
He smiled again, but it was like smiling at seriousness itself.
Ellen's downright, searching eyes upon his face seemed almost to
forbid the fact of her own girlish identity.

"What is the job you have for me?" said she.

"Tying strings in shoes," answered Flynn. "Easy enough, only child's
play, but you won't earn more than three dollars a week to begin
with."

"I shall be quite satisfied with that," said Ellen. "When shall I
come?"

"Why, to-morrow morning; no, to-morrow is Friday. Better come next
Monday and begin the week. That will give you one day more off, and
the hot wave a chance to get past."  Flynn spoke facetiously. It was
a very hot day, and the air in the office like a furnace. He wiped
his forehead, to which the dark rings of hair clung. The girl at the
desk glanced around adoringly at him.

"I would rather not stop for that if you want me to begin at once,"
said Ellen.

Flynn looked abashed. "Oh, we'd rather have you begin on the even
week--it makes less bother over the account," he said. "Monday
morning at seven sharp, then."

"Yes," said Ellen.

Flynn walked off with an abrupt duck of his head. He somehow felt
that he had been rebuffed, and Ellen rose.

"I told you you'd get one," said the girl at the desk. "Catch Ed
Flynn not giving a pretty girl a job."  She said it with an accent
of pain as well as malice. Ellen looked at her with large, indignant
eyes. She had not the least idea what she meant, at least she
realized only the surface meaning, and that angered her.

"I suppose he gave me the job because there was a vacancy," she
returned, with dignity.

The other girl laughed. "Mebbe," said she.

Ellen continued to look at her, and there was something in her look
not only indignant, but appealing. Nellie Stone's expression changed
again. She laughed uneasily. "Land, I didn't mean anything," said
she. "I'm glad for you that you got the job. Of course you wouldn't
have got it if there hadn't been a chance. One of the girls got
married last week, Maud Millet. I guess it's her place you've got.
I'm real glad you've got it."

"Thank you," said Ellen.

"Good-bye," said the girl.

"Good-bye," replied Ellen.

On Monday morning the heat had broken, and an east wind with the
breath of the sea in it was blowing. Ellen started for her work at
half-past six. She held her father's little, worn leather-bag, in
which he had carried his dinner for so many years. The walk was so
long that it would scarcely give her time to come home at noon, and
as for taking a car, that was not to be thought of for a moment on
account of the fare.

Ellen walked along briskly, the east wind blew in her face, she
smelled the salt sea, and somehow it at once soothed and stimulated
her. Without seeing the mighty waste of waters, she seemed to
realize its presence; she gazed at the sky hanging low with a scud
of gray clouds, which did not look unlike the ocean, and the sense
of irresponsibility in the midst of infinity comforted her.

"I am not Ellen Brewster after all," she thought. "I am not anything
separate enough to be worried about what comes to me. I am only a
part of greatness which cannot fail of reaching its end."  She
thought this all vaguely. She had no language for it, for she was
very young; it was formless as music, but as true to her.

When she reached the cross-street where the Atkinses lived Abby and
Maria came running out.

"My land, Ellen Brewster," said Abby, half angrily, "if you don't
look real happy! I believe you are glad to go to work in a
shoe-shop!"

Ellen laughed. Maria said nothing, but she pressed close to her as
she walked along. She was coughing a little in the east wind. There
had been a drop of twenty degrees in the night, and these drops of
temperature in New England mean steps to the tomb.

"You make me mad," said Abby. Her voice broke a little. She dashed
her hand across her eyes angrily. "Here's Granville Joy," said she;
"you'll be in the same room with him, Ellen."  She said it
maliciously. Distress over her friend made her fairly malicious.

Ellen colored. "You are hard to talk to," said she, in a low voice,
for Granville was coming nearer, gaining on them from behind.

"She don't mean it," whispered Maria.

When Granville caught up with them, Ellen pressed so close to Maria
that he was forced to walk with Abby or pass on. She returned his
"Good-morning," then did not look at him again. Presently Willy
Jones appeared, coming so imperceptibly that he seemed almost
impossible.

"Where did he come from?" whispered Ellen to Maria.

"Hush," replied Maria; "it's this way 'most every morning. All at
once he comes, and he generally walks with me, because he's afraid
Abby won't want him, but it's Abby."

This morning, Willy Jones, aroused, perhaps, to self-assertion by
the presence of another man, walked three abreast with Abby and
Granville, but on the other side of Granville. Now and then he
peered around the other man at the girl, with soft, wistful blue
eyes, but Abby never seemed to see him. She talked fast, in a harsh,
rather loud voice. She uttered bitter witticisms which made her
companions laugh.

"Abby is so bright," whispered Maria to Ellen, "but I wish she
wouldn't talk so. Abby doesn't feel the way I wish she did. She
rebels. She would be happier if she gave up rebelling and believed."
 Maria coughed as she spoke.

"You had better keep your mouth shut in this east wind, Maria," her
sister called out sharply to her.

"I'm not talking much, Abby," replied Maria.

Presently Maria looked at Ellen lovingly. "Do you feel very badly
about going to work?" she asked, in a low voice.

"No, not now. I have made up my mind," replied Ellen. The east wind
was bringing a splendid color to her cheeks. She held up her head as
she marched along, like one leading a charge of battle. Her eyes
gleamed as with blue fire, her yellow hair sprung and curled around
her temples.

They were now in the midst of a great, hurrying procession bound for
the factories. Some of the men walked silently, with a dogged stoop
of shoulders and shambling hitch of hips; some of the women moved
droopingly, with an indescribable effect of hanging back from the
leading of some imperious hand of fate. Many of them, both men and
women, walked alertly and chattered like a flock of sparrows. Ellen
moved with this rank and file of the army of labor, and all at once
a sense of comradeship seized her. She began to feel humanity as she
had never felt it before. The sense of her own littleness aroused
her to a power of comprehension of the grandeur of the mass of which
she was a part. She began to lose herself and sense humanity.

When the people reached the factories, two on one side of the road,
one, Lloyd's, on the other, they began streaming up the outside
stairs and disappearing like swarms of bees in hives. Two flights of
stairs, one on each side, led to a platform in front of the entrance
of Lloyd's.

When Ellen set her foot on one of these stairs the seven-o'clock
steam-whistle blew, and a mighty thrill shot through the vast
building. Ellen caught her breath. Abby came close to her.

"Don't get scared," said she, with ungracious tenderness; "there's
nothing to be scared at."

Ellen laughed. "I'm not scared," said she. Then they entered the
factory, humming with machinery, and a sensation which she had not
anticipated was over her. Scared she was not; she was fairly
exultant. All at once she entered a vast room in which eager men
were already at the machines with frantic zeal, as if they were
driving labor herself. When she felt the vibration of the floor
under her feet, when she saw people spring to their stations of
toil, as if springing to guns in a battle, she realized the might
and grandeur of it all. Suddenly it seemed to her that the greatest
thing in the whole world was work and that this was one of the
greatest forms of work--to cover the feet of progress of the
travellers of the earth from the cradle to the grave. She saw that
these great factories, and the strength of this army of the sons and
daughters of toil, made possible the advance of civilization itself,
which cannot go barefoot. She realized all at once and forever the
dignity of labor, this girl of the people, with a brain which
enabled her to overlook the heads of the rank and file of which she
herself formed a part. She never again, whatever her regret might
have been for another life for which she was better fitted, which
her taste preferred, had any sense of ignominy in this. She never
again felt that she was too good for her labor, for labor had
revealed itself to her like a goddess behind a sordid veil. Abby and
Maria looked at her wonderingly. No other girl had ever entered
Lloyd's with such a look on her face.

"Are you sick?" whispered Abby, catching her arm.

"No," said Ellen. "No, don't worry me, Abby. I think I shall like
it."

"I declare you make me mad," said Abby, but she looked at her
adoringly. "Here's Ed Flynn," she added. "He'll look out for you.
Good-bye, I'll see you at noon."  Abby went away to her machine. She
was stitching vamps by the piece, and earning a considerable amount.
The Atkinses were not so distressed as they had been, and Abby was
paying off a mortgage.

When the foreman came towards Ellen she experienced a shock. His
gay, admiring eyes on her face seemed to dispel all her exaltation.
She felt as if her feet touched earth, and yet the young man
was entirely respectful, and even thoughtful. He bade her
"Good-morning," and conducted her to the scene of her labor. One
other girl was already there at work. She gave a sidewise glance at
Ellen, and went on, making her fingers fly. Mr. Flynn showed Ellen
what to do. She had to tie the shoes together with bits of twine,
laced through eyelet holes. Ellen took a piece of twine and tied it
in as Flynn watched her. He laughed pleasantly.

"You'll do," he said, approvingly. "I've been in here five years,
and you are the first girl I ever saw who tied a square knot at the
first trial. Here's Mamie Brady here, she worked a solid month
before she got the hang of the square knot."

"You go along," admonished the girl spoken of as "Mamie Brady."  Her
words were flippant, even impudent, but her tone was both dejected
and childish. She continued to work without a glance at either of
them. Her fingers flew, tying the knots with swift jerks.

"Well, you help Miss Brewster, if she needs any help," said Flynn,
as he went away.

"We don't have any misses in this shop," said the girl to Ellen,
with sarcastic emphasis.

"I don't care anything about being called miss," replied Ellen,
picking up another piece of string.

"What's your first name?"

"Ellen."

"Oh, land! I know who you be. You read that essay at the high-school
graduation. I was there. Well, I shouldn't think you would want to
be called miss if you feel the way you said you did in that."

"I don't want to," said Ellen.

The girl gave a swift, comprehensive glance at her as her fingers
manipulated the knots.

"You won't earn twenty cents a week at the rate you're workin'," she
said; "look at me."

"I don't believe you worked any faster than I do when you hadn't
been here any longer," retorted Ellen.

"I did, too; you can't depend on a thing Ed Flynn says. You're awful
slow. He praises you because you are good-lookin'."

Ellen turned and faced her. "Look here," said she.

The other girl looked at her with unspeakable impudence, and yet
under it was that shadow of dejection and that irresponsible
childishness.

"Well, I am lookin'," said she, "what is it?"

"You need not speak to me again in that way," said Ellen, "and I
want you to understand it. I will not have it."

"My, ain't you awful smart," said the other girl, sneeringly, but
she went on with her work without another word. Presently she said
to Ellen, kindly enough: "If you lay the shoes the way I do, so, you
can get them faster. You'll find it pays. Every little saving of
time counts when you are workin' by the piece."

"Thank you," said Ellen, and did as she was instructed. She began to
work with exceeding swiftness for a beginner. Her fingers were
supple, her nervous energy great. Flynn came and stood beside her,
watching her.

"If you work at that rate, you'll make it pretty profitable," he
said.

"Thank you," said Ellen.

"And a square knot every time," he added, with almost a caressing
inflection. Mamie Brady tied in the twine with compressed lips.
Granville Joy passed them, pushing a rack full of shoes to another
department, and he glanced at them jealously. Still he was not
seriously alarmed as to Flynn, who, although he was good-looking,
was a Catholic. Mrs. Zelotes seemed an effectual barrier to that.

"Ed Flynn talks that way to everybody," Mamie Brady said to Ellen,
after the foreman had passed on. She said it this time quite
inoffensively. Ellen laughed.

"If I _do_ tie the knots square, that is the main thing," she said.

"Then you don't like him?"

"I never spoke two words to him before the day I applied for work,"
Ellen replied, haughtily. She was beginning to feel that perhaps the
worst feature of her going to work in a factory would be this girl.

"I've known girls who would be willing to go down on their knees and
tie his shoes when they hadn't seen more of him than that," said the
girl. "Ed Flynn is an awful masher."

Ellen went on with her work. The girl, after a side glance at her,
went on with hers.

Gradually Ellen's work began to seem mechanical. At first she had
felt as if she were tying all her problems of life in square knots.
She had to use all her brain upon it; after a while her brain had so
informed her fingers that they had learned their lesson well enough
to leave her free to think, if only the girl at her side would let
her alone. The girl had a certain harsh beauty, coarsely curling red
hair, a great mass of it, gathered in an untidy knot, and a
brilliant complexion. Her hands were large and red. Ellen's
contrasted with them looked like a baby's.

"You 'ain't got hands for workin' in a shoe-shop," said Mamie Brady,
presently, and it was impossible to tell from her tone whether she
envied or admired Ellen's hands, or was proud of the superior
strength of her own.

"Well, they've got to work in a shoe-shop," said Ellen, with a short
laugh.

"You won't find it so easy to work with such little mites of hands
when it comes to some things," said the girl.

It began to be clear that she exulted in her large, coarse hands as
being fitted for her work.

"Maybe mine will grow larger," said Ellen.

"No, they won't. They'll grow all bony and knotty, but they won't
grow any bigger."

"Well, I shall have to get along with them the best way I can,"
replied Ellen, rather impatiently. This girl was irritating to a
degree, and yet there was all the time that vague dejection about
her, and withal a certain childishness, which seemed to insist upon
patience. The girl was really older than Ellen, but she was
curiously unformed. Some of the other girls said openly that she was
"lacking."

"You act stuck up. Are you stuck up?" asked Mamie Brady, suddenly,
after another pause.

Ellen laughed in spite of herself. "No," said she, "I am not. I know
of no reason that I have for being stuck up."

"Well, I don't know of any either," said the other girl, "but I
didn't know. You sort of acted as if you felt stuck up."

"Well, I don't."

"You talk stuck up. Why don't you talk the way the rest of us do?
Why do you say 'am not,' and 'ar'n't'; why don't you say 'ain't'?"

The girl mimicked Ellen's voice impishly.

Ellen colored. "I am going to talk the way I think best, the way I
have been taught is right, and if that makes you think I am stuck
up, I can't help it."

"My, don't get mad. I didn't mean anything," said the other girl.

All the time while Ellen was working, and even while the exultation
and enthusiasm of her first charge in the battle of labor was upon
her, she had had, since her feminine instincts were, after all,
strong with her, a sense that Robert Lloyd was under the same great
factory roof, in the same human hive, that he might at any moment
pass through the room. That, however, she did not think very likely.
She fancied the Lloyds seldom went through the departments, which
were in charge of foremen. Mr. Norman Lloyd was at the mountains
with his wife, she knew. They left Robert in charge, and he would
have enough to do in the office. She looked at the grimy men working
around her, and she thought of the elegant young fellow, and the
utter incongruity of her being among them seemed so great as to
preclude the possibility of it. She had said to herself when she
thought of obtaining work in Lloyd's that she need not hesitate
about it on account of Robert. She had heard her father say that the
elder Lloyd almost never came in contact with the men, that
everything was done through the foremen. She reasoned that it would
be the same with the younger Lloyd. But all at once the girl at her
side gave her a violent nudge, which did not interrupt for a second
her own flying fingers.

"Say," she said, "ain't he handsome?"

Ellen glanced over her shoulder and saw Robert Lloyd coming down
between the lines of workmen. Then she turned to her work, and her
fingers slipped and bungled, her ears rang. He passed without
speaking.

Mamie Brady openly stared after him. "He's awful handsome, and an
awful swell, but he's awful stuck up, just like the old boss," said
she. "He never notices any of us, and acts as if he was afraid we'd
poison him. My, what's the matter with you?"

"Nothing," said Ellen.

"You look white as a sheet; ain't you well?"

Ellen turned upon her with sudden fury. She had something of the
blood of the violent Louds and of her hot-tempered grandmother. She
had stood everything from this petty, insistent tormentor.

"Yes, I am well," she replied, "and I will thank you to let me
alone, and let me do my work, and do your own."

The other girl stared at her a minute with curiously expressive,
uplifted eyebrows.

"Whew!" she said, in a half whistle then, and went on with her work,
and did not speak again.

Ellen was thankful that Robert Lloyd had not spoken to her in the
factory, and yet she was cut to the quick by it. It fulfilled her
anticipations to the letter. "I was right," she said to herself; "he
can never think of me again. He is showing it."  Somehow, after he
had passed, her enthusiasm, born of a strong imagination, and her
breadth of nature failed her somewhat. The individual began to press
too closely upon the aggregate. Suddenly Ellen Brewster and her own
heartache and longing came to the front. She had put herself out of
his life as completely as if she had gone to another planet. Still,
feeling this, she realized no degradation of herself as a cause of
it. She realized that from his point of view she had gone into a
valley, but from hers she was rather on an opposite height. She on
the height of labor, of skilled handiwork, which is the
manifestation in action of brain-work, he on the height of pure
brain-work unpressed by physical action.

At noon, when she was eating her dinner with Abby and Maria, Abby
turned to her and inquired if young Mr. Lloyd had spoken to her when
he came through the room.

"No, he didn't," replied Ellen.

Abby said nothing, but she compressed her lips and gave her head a
hard jerk. A girl who ran a machine next to Abby's came up, munching
a large piece of pie, taking clean semicircular bites with her
large, white teeth.

"Say," she said, "did you see the young boss's new suit? Got up
fine, wasn't he?"

"I'd like to see him working where I be for an hour," said a young
fellow, strolling up, dipping into his dinner-bag. He was black and
greasy as to face and hands and clothing. "Guess his light pants and
vest would look rather different," said he, and everybody laughed
except the Atkins girls and Ellen.

"I guess he washed his hands, anyway, before he ate his dinner,"
said Abby, sharply, looking at the young man's hands with meaning.

The young fellow colored, though he laughed. "There ain't a knife in
this shop so sharp as some women's tongues," said he. "I pity the
man that gets you."

"There won't be any man get me," retorted Abby. "I've seen all I
want to see of men, working with 'em every day."

"Mebbe they have of you," called back the young fellow, going away.

"The saucy thing!" said the girl who stitched next to Abby.

"There isn't any excuse for a man's eating his dinner with hands
like that," said Abby. "It's worse to poison yourself with your own
dirt than with other folks'. It hurts your own self more."

"He ain't worth minding," said the girl.

"Do you suppose I do mind him?" returned Abby. Maria looked at her
meaningly. The young man, whose name was Edison Bartlett, had once
tried to court Abby, but neither she nor Maria had ever told of it.

"His clothes were a pearl gray," said the girl at the
stitching-machine, reverting to the original subject.

"Good gracious, who cares what color they were?" cried Abby,
impatiently.

"He looked awful handsome in 'em," said the girl. "He's awful
handsome."

"You'd better look at handsome fellows in your own set, Sadie Peel,"
said Abby, roughly.

The girl, who was extremely pretty, carried herself well, and
dressed with cheap fastidiousness, colored.

"I don't see what we have to think about sets for," said she. "I
guess way back the Peels were as good as the Lloyds. We're in a free
country, where one is as good as another, ain't we?"

"No one is as good as another, except in the sight of the Lord, in
any country on the face of this earth," said Abby.

"If you are as good in your own sight, I don't see that it makes
much difference about the sight of other human beings," said Ellen.
"I guess that's what makes a republic, anyway."

Sadie Peel gave a long, bewildered look at her, then she turned to
Abby.

"Do you know where I can get somebody to do accordion-plaiting for
me?" she asked.

"No," said Abby. "I never expect to get to the height of
accordion-plaiting."

"I know where you can," said another girl, coming up. She had light
hair, falling in a harsh, uncurled bristle over her forehead; her
black gown was smeared with paste, and even her face and hands were
sticky with it.

"There's a great splash of paste on your nose, Hattie Wright," said
Abby.

The girl took out a crumpled handkerchief and began rubbing her nose
absently while she went on talking about the accordion-plaiting.

"There's a woman on Joy Street does it," said she. "She lives just
opposite the school-house, and she does it awful cheap, only three
cents a yard."  She thrust the handkerchief into her pocket.

"You haven't got it half off," said Abby.

"Let it stay there, then," said the girl, indifferently. "If you
work pasting linings in a shoe-shop you've got to get pasted
yourself."

Ellen looked at the girl with a curious reflection that she spoke
the truth, that she really was pasted herself, that the soil and the
grind of her labor were wearing on her soul. She had seen this girl
out of the shop--in fact, only the day before--and no one would have
known her for the same person. When her light hair was curled, and
she was prettily dressed, she was quite a beauty. In the shop she
was a slattern, and seemed to go down under the wheels of her toil.

"On Joy Street, you said?" said Sadie Peel.

"Yes. Right opposite the school-house. Her name is Brackett."

Then the one-o'clock whistle blew, and everybody, Ellen with the
rest, went back to their stations. Robert Lloyd did not come into
the room again that afternoon. Ellen worked on steadily, and gained
swiftness. Every now and then the foreman came and spoke
encouragingly to her.

"Look out, Mamie," he said to the girl at her side, "or she'll get
ahead of you."

"I don't want to get ahead of her," said Ellen, unexpectedly.

Flynn laughed. "If you don't, you ain't much like the other girls in
this shop," said he, passing on with his urbane, slightly important
swing of shoulders.

"Did you mean that?" asked Mamie Brady.

"Yes, I did. It seems to me you work fast enough for any girl. A
girl isn't a machine."

"You're a queer thing," said Mamie Brady. "If I were you, I would
just as soon get ahead as not, especially if Ed Flynn was goin' to
come and praise me for it."

Ellen shrugged her shoulders and tied another knot.

"You're a queer thing," said Mamie Brady, while her fingers flew
like live wires.



Chapter XXXVI


That night, when Ellen went down the street towards home with the
stream of factory operatives, she computed that she must have earned
about fifty cents, perhaps not quite that. She was horribly tired.
Although the work in itself was not laborious, she had been all day
under a severe nervous tension.

"You look tired to death, Ellen Brewster," Abby said, in a
half-resentful, half-compassionate tone. "You can never stand this
in the world."

"I am no more tired than any one would be the first day," Ellen
returned, stoutly, "and I'm going to stand it."

"You act to me as if you liked it," said Abby, with an angry switch
like a cat.

"I do," Ellen returned, almost as angrily. Then she turned to Abby.
"Look here, Abby Atkins, why can't you treat me half-way decent?"
said she. "You know I've got to do it, and I'm making the best of
it. If anybody else treated me the way you are doing, I don't know
what you would do."

"I would kill them," said Abby, fiercely; "but it's different with
me. I'm mad to have you go to work in the shop, and act as if you
liked it, because I think so much of you."  Abby and Ellen were
walking side by side, and Maria followed with Sadie Peel.

"Well, I can't help it if you are mad at me," said Ellen. "I've had
everything to contend against, my father and mother, and my
grandmother won't even speak to me, and now if you--"  Ellen's voice
broke.

Abby caught her arm in a hard grip.

"I ain't," said she; "you can depend on me. You know you can, in
spite of everything. You know why I talk so. If you've set your
heart on doing it, I won't say another word. I'll do all I can to
help you, and I'd like to hear anybody say a word against you for
going to work in the shop, that's all."

Ellen and Abby almost never kissed each other; Abby was not given to
endearments of that kind. Maria was more profuse with her caresses.
That night when they reached the corner of the cross street where
the Atkinses lived, Maria went close to Ellen and put up her face.

"Good-night," said she. Then she withdrew her lips suddenly, before
Ellen could touch them.

"I forgot," said she. "You mustn't kiss me. I forgot my cough. They
say it's catching."

Ellen caught hold of her little, thin shoulders, held her firmly,
and kissed her full on her lips.

"Good-night," said she.

"Good-night, Ellen," called Abby, and her sharp voice rang as sweet
as a bird's.

When Ellen came in sight of her grandmother's house, she saw a
window-shade go down with a jerk, and knew that Mrs. Zelotes had
been watching for her, and was determined not to let her know it.
Mrs. Pointdexter came out of her grand house as Ellen passed, and
took up her station on the corner to wait for a car. She bowed to
Ellen with an evasive, little, sidewise bow. Her natural amiability
prompted her to shake hands with her, call her "my dear," and
inquire how she had got on during her first day in the factory, but
she was afraid of her friend, whose eye she felt upon her around the
edge of the drawn curtain.

It was unusually dark that night for early fall, and the rain came
down in a steady drizzle, as it had come all day, and the wind blew
from the ocean on the east. The lamp was lighted in the kitchen when
Ellen turned into her own door-yard, and home had never looked so
pleasant and desirable to her. For the first time in her life she
knew what it was to come home for rest and shelter after a day of
toil, and she seemed to sense the full meaning of home as a refuge
for weary labor.

When she opened the door, she smelled at once a particular kind of
stew of which she was very fond, and knew that her mother had been
making it for her supper. There was a rush of warm air from the
kitchen which felt grateful after the damp chill outside.

Ellen went into the kitchen, and her mother stood there over the
stove, stirring the stew. She looked up at the girl with an
expression of intense motherliness which was beyond a smile.

"Well, so you've got home?" she said.

"Yes."

"How did you get along?"

"All right. It isn't hard work. Not a bit hard, mother."

"Ain't you tired?"

"Oh, a little. But no more than anybody would be at first. I don't
look very tired, do I?" Ellen laughed.

"No, you don't," said Fanny, looking at her cheeks, reddened with
the damp wind. The mother's look was admiring and piteous and brave.
No one knew how the woman had suffered that day, but she had kept
her head and heart above it. The stew for Ellen's supper was a proof
of that.

"Where's father?" asked Ellen, taking off her hat and cape, and
going to the sink to wash her face and hands. Fanny saw her do that
with a qualm. Ellen had always used a dainty little set in her own
room. Now she was doing exactly as her father had always done on his
return from the shop--washing off the stains of leather at the
kitchen sink. She felt instinctively that Ellen did it purposely,
that she was striving to bring herself into accord with her new life
in all the details.

Little Amabel came running out of the dining-room, and threw her
arms around Ellen's knees as she was bending over the sink. "I've
set the table!" she cried.

"Look out or you'll get all splashed," laughed Ellen.

"And I dusted," said Amabel.

"She's been as good as a kitten all day, and a sight of help," said
Fanny.

"She's a good girl," said Ellen. "Cousin Ellen will kiss her as soon
as she gets her face washed."

She caught hold of a fold of the roller towel, and turned her
beautiful, dripping face to her mother as she did so.

"That stew does smell so good," said she. "Where did you say father
was?"

"I thought we'd just have some bread and milk for dinner, and
somethin' hearty to-night, when you came home," said Fanny. "I
thought maybe a stew would taste good."

"I guess it will," said Ellen, stooping down to kiss Amabel. "Where
did you say father was?"

"Uncle Andrew has been lyin' down all day most," whispered Amabel.

"Isn't he well?" Ellen asked her mother, in quick alarm.

"Oh yes, he's well enough."  Fanny moved close to the girl with a
motion of secrecy. "If I were you I wouldn't say one word about the
shop, nor what you did, before father to-night; let him kind of get
used to it. Amabel mustn't talk about it, either."

"I won't," said Amabel, with a wise air.

"You know father had set his heart on somethin' pretty different for
you," said Fanny.

Fanny hushed her voice as Andrew came out of the dining-room,
staggering a little as if the light blinded him. His nervous
strength of the morning had passed and left him exhausted. He moved
and stood with a downward lope of every muscle, expressing
unutterable patience, which had passed beyond rebellion and
questioning.

He stood before Ellen like some old, spent horse. He was expecting
to hear something about the shop--expecting, as it were, a touch on
a sore, and he waited for it meekly.

Ellen turned her lovely, glowing face towards him.

"Father," she said, as if nothing out of the common had happened,
"are you going down-town to-night?"

Andrew brightened a little. "I can if you want anything, Ellen," he
said.

"Well, I don't want you to go on purpose, but I do want a book from
the library."

"I'd just as soon go as not, Ellen," said Andrew.

"It'll do him good," whispered Fanny, as she passed Ellen, carrying
the dish of stew to the dining-room.

"Well, then, I'll give you my card after supper," said Ellen.
"Supper is ready now, isn't it, mother? I'm as hungry as a bear."

Andrew, when he was seated at the table and was ladling out the
stew, had still that air of hopeless and defenceless apology towards
life, but he held his head higher, and his frown of patient gloom
had relaxed.

Then Ellen said something else. "Maybe I can write a book some
time," said she.

A sudden flash illumined Andrew's face. It was like the visible
awakening of hope and ambition.

"I don't see why you can't," he said, eagerly.

"Maybe she can," said Fanny. "Give her some more of the potatoes,
Andrew."

"I'll have plenty of time after--evenings," said Ellen.

"I guess lots of folks write books that sell, and sell well, that
don't have any more talent than you," said Andrew. "Only think how
they praised your valedictory."

"Well, it can't do any harm to try," said Ellen, "and you could copy
it for me, couldn't you, father? Your writing is so fine, it would
be as good as a typewriter."

"Of course I can," said Andrew.

When Andrew went down to the library, passing along the drenched
streets, seeing the lamps through shifting veils of heavy mist, he
was as full of enthusiasm over Ellen's book as he had been over the
gold-mine. The heart of a man is always ready to admit a ray of
sunshine, and it takes only a small one to dispel the shadows when
love dwells therein.



Chapter XXXVII


Ellen actually went to work, with sheets of foolscap and a new
bottle of ink, on a novel, which was not worth the writing; but no
one could estimate the comfort and encouragement it was to Andrew.
Ellen worked an hour or two every evening on the novel, and next day
Andrew copied it in a hand like copperplate--large, with ornate
flourishes. Andrew's handwriting had always been greatly admired,
and, strangely enough, it was not in the least indicative of his
character, being wholly acquired. He had probably some ability for
drawing, but this had been his only outlet.

At the head of every chapter of Ellen's novel were birds and flowers
done in colored inks, and every chapter had a tail-piece of elegant
quirls and flourishes. Fanny admired it intensely. She was not quite
so sure of Ellen's work as she was of her husband's. She felt
herself a judge of one, but not of the other.

"If Ellen could only write as well as you copy, it will do," she
often said to Andrew.

"What she is writing is beautiful," said Andrew, fervently. He was
quite sure in his own mind that such a book had never been written,
and his pride in his decorations was a minor one.

Ellen, although she was not versed in the ways of books, yet had
enough of a sense of the fitness of things, and of the ridiculous,
to know that the manuscript, with its impossible pen-and-ink birds
and flowers heading and finishing every chapter, was grotesque in
the extreme. She felt divided between a desire to laugh and a desire
to cry whenever she looked at it. About her own work she felt more
than doubtful; still, she was somewhat hopeful, since her taste and
judgment, as well as her style, were alike crude. She told Abby and
Maria what she was doing, under promise of strict secrecy, and after
a while read them a few chapters.

"It's beautiful," said Maria--"perfectly beautiful. I had a
Sunday-school book this week which I know wasn't half as good."

Ellen looked at Abby, who was silent. The three girls were up in
Ellen's room. It was midwinter, some months after she had gone to
work in the shop, and she had a fire in her little, air-tight stove.

"Well, what do you think of it, Abby?" asked Ellen. Ellen's cheeks
were flushed as if with fever. She looked eagerly at the other girl.

"Do you want me to tell you the truth?" asked Abby, bluntly.

"Yes, of course I do."

"Well, then, I don't know a thing about books, and I'd knock anybody
else down that said it, but it seems to me it's trash."

"Oh, Abby," murmured Maria.

"Never mind," said Ellen, though she quivered a little, "I want to
know just how it looks to her."

"It looks to me just like that," said Abby--"like trash. It sounds
as if, when you began to write it, you had mounted upon stilts, and
didn't see things and people the way they really were. It ain't
natural."

"Do you think I had better give it up, then?" asked Ellen.

"No, I don't, on account of your father."

"I believe it would about break father's heart," said Ellen.

"I don't know but it's worth as much to write a book for your
father, to please him, and keep his spirits up, as it is to write
one for the whole world," said Abby.

"Only, of course, she can't get any money for it," said Maria. "But
I don't believe Abby is right, and don't you get discouraged, Ellen.
It sounds beautiful to me."

"Well, I suppose it is worth keeping on with for father's sake,"
said Ellen; but she had a discouraged air. She never again wrote
with any hope or heart; she had faith in Abby's opinion, for she
knew that she was always predisposed to admiration in her case.

Ellen at that time was earning more, for she had advanced, and had
long ago left her station beside Mamie Brady; and now in a month or
two she would have a machine. The girls, many of them, said openly
that her rapid promotion was due to favoritism, and that Ed Flynn
wouldn't do as much for anybody but Ellen Brewster. Flynn hung about
her in the shop a good deal, but he had made no efforts to pay her
decided attention. His religion was the prime factor for his
hesitation. He could not see his way clear towards open addresses
with a view to marriage. Still, he had a sharp eye for other
admirers, and Ellen had not been in the factory two months before
Granville Joy was sent into another room. Robert Lloyd, to whom the
foreman appealed for confirmation of the plan, coincided with
readiness.

"That fellow ain't strong enough to run that machine he's doing
now," said Flynn.

"Then put him on another," Robert said, coloring. It was not quite
like setting his rival in the front of the battle; still, he felt
ashamed of himself. Quicker than lightning it had flashed through
his mind that young Joy could thus be sent into a separate room from
Ellen Brewster.

"I think he had better take one of the heel-shaving machines below,"
said Flynn, "and let that big Swede, that's as strong as an ox, and
never jumped at anything in his life, take his place here."

"All right," said Lloyd, assuming a nonchalant air. "Make the change
if you think it advisable, Flynn."

While such benevolence towards a possible rival had its suspicious
points, yet there was, after all, some reason for it. Granville Joy,
who was delicately organized as to his nerves, was running a machine
for cutting linings, and this came down with sharp thuds which shook
the factory, and it was fairly torture to him. Every time the knife
fell he cringed as if at a cannon report. He had never grown
accustomed to it. His face had acquired a fixed expression of being
screwed to meet a shock of sound. He was manifestly unfit for his
job, but he received the order to leave with dismay.

"Hasn't my work been satisfactory?" he asked Flynn.

"Satisfactory enough," replied the foreman, genially, "but it's too
hard for you, man."

"I 'ain't complained," said Joy, with a flash of his eyes. He
thought he knew why this solicitude was shown him.

"I know you 'ain't," said Flynn, "but you 'ain't got the muscle and
nerve for it. That's plain enough to see."

"I 'ain't complained, and I'd rather stay where I be," said Joy,
angrily.

"You'll go where you are sent in this factory, or be damned," cried
Flynn, walking off.

Joy looked after him with an expression which transformed his face.
But the next morning the stolid Swede, who would not have started at
a bomb, was at his place, and he was below, where he could not see
Ellen.

Robert never spoke to Ellen in the factory, and had never called
upon her since she entered. Now and then he met her on the street
and raised his hat, that was all. Still, he began to wonder more and
more if his aunt had not been mistaken in her view of the girl's
motive for giving up college and going to work. Then, later on, he
learned from Lyman Risley that a small mortgage had been put on the
Brewster house some time before. In fact, Andrew, not knowing to
whom to go, and remembering his kindness when Ellen was a child, had
applied to him for advice concerning it. "He had to do it to keep
his wife's sister in the asylum," he told Robert; "and that poor
girl went to work because she was forced into it, not because she
preferred it, you may be sure of that."

The two men were walking down the street one wind-swept day in
December, when the pavement showed ridges of dust as from a mighty
broom, and travellers walked bending before it with backward-flying
garments.

"You may be right," said Robert; "still, as Aunt Cynthia says, so
many girls have that idea of earning money instead of going to
school."

"I know the pitiful need of money has tainted many poor girls with a
monstrous and morbid overvalue of it," said Risley, "and for that I
cannot see they are to blame; but in this case I am sure it was not
so. That poor child gave up Vassar College and went to work because
she was fairly forced into it by circumstances. The aunt's husband
ran away with another woman, and left her destitute, so that the
support of her and her child came upon the Brewsters; and Brewster
has been out of work a long time now, I know. He told me so. That
mortgage had to be raised, and the girl had to go to work; there was
no other way out of it."

"Why didn't she tell Aunt Cynthia so?" asked Robert.

"Because she is Ellen Brewster, the outgrowth of the child who would
not--"  Risley checked himself abruptly.

"I know," said Robert, shortly.

The other man started. "How long have you known--she did not tell?"

Robert laughed a little. "Oh no," he replied. "Nobody told. I went
there to call, and saw my own old doll sitting in a little chair in
a corner of the parlor. She did not tell, but she knew that I knew.
That child was a trump."

"Well, what can you expect of a girl who was a child like that?"
said Risley. "Mind you, in a way I don't like it. This power for
secretiveness and this rigidity of pride in a girl of that age
strike me rather unpleasantly. Of course she was too proud to tell
Cynthia the true reason, and very likely thought they would blame
her father, or Cynthia might feel that she was in a measure hinting
to her to do more."

"It would have looked like that," said Robert, reflecting.

"Without any doubt that was what she thought; still, I don't like
this strength in so young a girl. She will make a more harmonious
woman than girl, for she has not yet grown up to her own character.
But depend upon it, that girl never went to work of her own free
choice."

"You say the father is out of work?" Robert said.

"Yes, he has not had work for six months. He said, with the most
dejected dignity and appeal that I ever saw in my life, that they
begin to think him too old, that the younger men are preferred."

"I wonder," Robert began, then he stopped confusedly. It had been on
his tongue to say that he wondered if he could not get some
employment for him at Lloyd's; then he remembered his uncle, and
stopped. Robert had begun to understand the older man's methods, and
also to understand that they were not to be cavilled at or disputed,
even by a nephew for whom he had undoubtedly considerable affection.

"It is nonsense, of course," said Risley. "The man is not by any
means old or past his usefulness, although I must admit he has that
look. He cannot be any older than your uncle. Speaking of your
uncle, how is Mrs. Lloyd?"

"I fear Aunt Lizzie is very far from well," replied Robert, "but she
tries to keep it from Uncle Norman."

"I don't see how she can. She looked ghastly when I met her the
other day."

"That was when Uncle Norman was in New York," said Robert. "It is
different when he is at home."  As he spoke, an expression of
intensest pity came over the young man's face. "I wonder what a
woman who loves her husband will not do to shield him from any
annoyance or suffering," he said.

"I believe some women are born fixed to a sort of spiritual rack for
the sake of love, and remain there through life," said Risley. "But
I have always liked Mrs. Lloyd. She ought to have good advice. What
is it, has she told you?"

"Yes," said Robert.

"It will be quite safe with me."

Robert whispered one word in his ear.

"My God!" said Risley, "that? And do you mean to say that she has
had no advice except Dr. Story?"

"Yes, I took her to New York to a specialist some time ago. Uncle
Norman never knew it."

"And nothing can be done?"

"She could have an operation, but the success would be very
doubtful."

"And that she will not consent to?"

"She has not yet."

"How long?"

"Oh, she may live for years, but she suffers horribly, and she will
suffer more."

"And you say he does not know?"

"No."

"Why, look here, Robert, dare you assume the responsibility? What
will he say when he finds out that you have kept it from him?"

"I don't care," said Robert. "I will not break an oath exacted by a
woman in such straits as that, and I don't see what good it could do
to tell him."

"He might persuade her to have the operation."

"His mere existence is persuasion enough, if she is to be persuaded.
And I hope she may consent before long. She has seemed a little more
comfortable lately, too."

"I suppose sometimes those hideous things go away as mysteriously as
they come," said Risley.

"Yes," replied Robert. "Going back to our first subject--"

Risley laughed. "Here she is coming," he said.

In fact, at that moment they came abreast the street that led to the
factories, and the six-o'clock whistle was just dying away in a long
reverberation, and the workmen pouring out of the doors and down the
stairs. Ellen had moved quickly, for she had an errand at the
grocery-store before she went home. She was going to get some
oysters for a hot stew for supper, of which her father was very
fond. She had a little oyster-can in her hand when she met the two
gentlemen. She had grown undeniably thinner since summer, but she
was charming. Her short black skirt and her coarse gray jacket
fitted her as well as if they had been tailor-made. There was
nothing tawdry or slatternly about her. She looked every inch a
lady, even with the drawback of an oyster-can, and mittens instead
of gloves.

Both Risley and Robert raised their hats, and Ellen bowed. She did
not smile, but her face contracted curiously, and her color
obviously paled. Risley looked at Robert after they had passed.

"I have called on her twice," said Robert, as if answering a
question. His relations with the older man had become very close,
almost like those of father and son, though Risley was hardly old
enough for that relation.

"And you haven't been since she went to work?"

"No."

"But you would have, had she gone to college instead of going to
work in a shoe-factory?"  Risley's voice had a tone of the gentlest
conceivable sarcasm.

Robert colored. "Yes, I suppose so," he said. Then he turned to
Risley with a burst of utter frankness. "Hang it! old fellow," he
said, "you know how I have been brought up; you know how she--you
know all about it. What is a fellow to do?"

"Do what he pleases. If it would please me to call on that splendid
young thing, I should call if I were the Czar of all the Russias."

"Well, I will call," said Robert.



Chapter XXXVIII


The very next evening Robert Lloyd went to call on Ellen. As he
started out he was conscious of a strange sensation of shock, as if
his feet had suddenly touched firm ground. All these months since
Ellen had been working in the factory he had been vacillating. He
was undoubtedly in love with her; he did not for a moment cheat
himself as to that. When he caught a glimpse of her fair head among
the other girls, he realized how unspeakably dear she was to him.
Ellen never entered nor left the factory that he did not know it.
Without actually seeing her, he was conscious of her presence
always. He acknowledged to himself that there was no one like her
for him, and never would be. He tried to interest himself in other
young women, but always there was Ellen, like the constant refrain
of a song. All other women meant to him not themselves, but Ellen.
Womanhood itself was Ellen for his manhood. He knew it, and yet that
strain of utterly impassionate judgment and worldly wisdom which was
born in him kept him from making any advances to her. Now, however,
the radicalism of Risley had acted like a spur to his own
inclination. His judgment was in abeyance. He said to himself that
he would give it up; he would go to see the girl--that he would win
her if he could. He said to himself that she had been wronged, that
Risley was right about her, that she was good and noble.

As the car drew near the Brewsters, his tenderness seemed to
outspeed the electricity. The girl's fair face was plain before his
eyes, as if she were actually there, and it was idealized and haloed
as with the light of gold and precious stones. All at once, since he
had given himself loose rein, he overtook, as it were, the true
meaning of her. "The dear child," he thought, with a rush of
tenderness like pain--"the dear child. There she gave up everything
and went to work, and let us blame her, rather than have her father
blamed. The dear, proud child. She did that rather than seem to beg
for more help."

When Robert got off the car he was ready to fall at her feet, to
push between her and the roughness of life, between her and the
whole world.

He went up the little walk between the dry shrubs and rang the bell.
There was no light in the front windows nor in the hall. Presently
he heard footsteps, and saw a glimmer of light advancing towards him
through the length of the hall. There were muslin-curtained
side-lights to the door. Then the door opened, and little Amabel
Tenny stood there holding a small kerosene lamp carefully in both
hands. She held it in such a manner that the light streamed up in
Robert's face and nearly blinded him. He was dimly conscious of a
little face full of a certain chary innocence and pathos regarding
him.

"Is Miss Ellen Brewster at home?" asked Robert, smiling down at the
little thing.

"Yes, sir," replied Amabel.

Then she remained perfectly still, holding the lamp, as if she had
been some little sculptured light-bearer. She did not return his
smile, and she did not ask him in. She simply regarded him with her
sharp, innocent, illuminated face. Robert felt ridiculously
nonplussed.

"Did you say she was in, my dear?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," replied Amabel, then relapsed into silence.

"Can I see her?" asked Robert, desperately.

"I don't know," replied Amabel. Then she stood still, as before,
holding the lamp.

Robert began to wonder what he was to do, when he heard a woman's
voice calling from the sitting-room at the end of the hall, the door
of which had been left ajar:

"Amabel Tenny, what are you doin'? You are coldin' the house all
off! Who is it?"

"It's a man, Aunt Fanny," called Amabel.

"Who is the man?" asked the voice. Then, much to Robert's relief,
Fanny herself appeared.

She colored a flaming red when she saw him. She looked at Amabel as
if she had an impulse to shake her.

"Why, Mr. Lloyd, is it you?" she cried.

"Good-evening, Mrs. Brewster; is--is your daughter at home?" asked
Robert. He felt inclined to roar with laughter, and yet a curious
dismay was beginning to take possession of him.

"Yes, Ellen is at home," replied Fanny, with alacrity. "Walk in, Mr.
Lloyd."  She was blushing and smiling as if she had been her own
daughter. It was foolish, yet pathetic. Although Fanny asked the
young man to walk in, and snatched the lamp peremptorily from
Amabel's hand, she still hesitated. Robert began to wonder if he
should ever be admitted. He did not dream of the true reason for the
hesitation. There was no fire in the parlor, and in the sitting-room
were Andrew, John Sargent, and Mrs. Wetherhed. It seemed to her
highly important that Ellen should see her caller by herself, but
how to take him into that cold parlor?

Finally, however, she made up her mind to do so. She opened the
parlor door.

"Please walk in this way, Mr. Lloyd," said she, and Robert followed
her in.

It was a bitter night outside, and the temperature in the unused
room was freezing. The windows behind the cheap curtains were
thickly furred with frost.

"Please be seated," said Fanny.

She indicated the large easy-chair, and Robert seated himself
without removing his outer coat, yet the icy cold of the cushions
struck through him.

Fanny ignited a match to light the best lamp with its painted globe.
Her fingers trembled. She had to use three matches before she was
successful.

"Can't I assist you?" asked Robert.

"No, thank you," replied Fanny; "I guess the matches are damp. I've
got it now."  Her voice shook. She turned to Robert when the lamp
was lighted, still holding the small one, which she had set for the
moment on the table. The strong double light revealed her face of
abashed delight, although the young man did not understand it. It
was the solicitude of the mother for the child which dignified all
coarseness and folly.

"I guess you had better keep on your overcoat a little while till I
get the fire built," said she. "This room ain't very warm."

Robert tried to say something polite about not feeling cold, but the
lie was too obvious. Instead, he remarked that his coat was very
warm, as it was, indeed, being lined with fur.

"I'll have the fire kindled in a minute," Fanny said.

"Now don't trouble yourself, Mrs. Brewster," said Robert. "I am
quite warm in this coat, unless," he added, lamely, "I could go out
where you were sitting."

"There's company out there," said Fanny, with embarrassed
significance. She blushed as she spoke, and Robert blushed also,
without knowing why.

"It's no trouble at all to start a fire," said Fanny; "this chimney
draws fine. I'll speak to Ellen."

Robert, left alone in the freezing room, felt his dismay deepen.
Barriers of tragedy are nothing to those of comedy. He began to
wonder if he were not, after all, doing a foolish thing. The hall
door had been left ajar, and he presently became aware of Amabel's
little face and luminous eyes set therein.

Robert smiled, and to his intense astonishment the child made a
little run to him and snuggled close to his side. He lifted her up
on his knee, and wrapped his fur coat around her. Amabel thrust out
one tiny hand and began to stroke the sable collar.

"It's fur," said she, with a bright, wise look into Robert's face.

"Yes, it's fur," said he. "Do you know what kind?"

She shook her head, with bright eyes still on his.

"It is sable," said Robert, "and it is the coat of a little animal
that lives very far north, where it is as cold and colder than this
all the time, and the ice and snow never melts."

Suddenly Amabel slipped off his knee, pushing aside his caressing
arm with a violent motion. Then she stood aloof, eying him with
unmistakable reproof and hostility. Robert laughed.

"What is the matter?" he said.

"What does he do without his coat if it is as cold as that where he
lives?" asked Amabel, severely. There was almost an accent of horror
in her childish voice.

"Why, my dear child," said Robert, "the little animal is dead. He
isn't running around without his coat. He was shot for his fur."

"To make you a coat?" Amabel's voice was full of judicial severity.

"Well, in one way," replied Robert, laughing. "It was shot to get
the fur to make somebody a coat, and I bought it. Come back here and
have it wrapped round you; you'll freeze if you don't."

Amabel came back and sat on his knee, and let him wrap the fur-lined
garment around her. A strange sensation of tenderness and protection
came over the young man as he felt the little, slender body of the
child nestle against his own. He had begun to surmise who she was.
However, Amabel herself told him in a moment.

"My mamma's sick, and they took her to an asylum. And my papa has
gone away," she said.

"You poor little soul," said Robert, tenderly. Amabel continued to
look at him with eyes of keenest intelligence, while one little
cheek was flattened against his breast.

"I live with Uncle Andrew and Aunt Fanny now," said she, "and I
sleep with Ellen."

"But you like living here, don't you, you dear?" asked Robert.

"Yes," said Amabel, "and I like to stay with Ellen, but--but--I want
to see my mamma and papa," she wailed, suddenly, in the lowest and
most pitiful wail imaginable.

"Poor little darling," said Robert, stroking her flaxen hair. Amabel
looked up at him with her little face all distorted with grief.

"If you had been my papa, would you have gone away and left Amabel?"
she asked, quiveringly. Robert gathered her to him in a strong clasp
of protection.

"No, you little darling, I never should," he cried, fervently.

At that moment he wished devoutly that he had the handling of the
man who had deserted this child.

"I like you most as well as my own papa," said Amabel. "You ain't so
big as my papa."  She said that in a tone of evident disparagement.

Then the sitting-room door opened, and Fanny and Ellen and Andrew
appeared, the last with a great basket of wood and kindlings.

Robert set down Amabel, and sprang to his feet to greet Andrew and
Ellen. Andrew, after depositing his basket beside the stove, shook
hands with a sort of sad awkwardness. Robert saw that the man had
aged immeasurably since he had last seen him.

"It is a cold night, Mr. Brewster," he said, and knew the moment he
said it that it was not a happy remark.

"It is pretty cold," agreed Andrew, "and it's cold here in this
room."

"Oh, it'll be warm in a minute; this stove heats up quick," cried
Fanny, with agitated briskness. She began pulling the kindlings out
of the basket.

"Here, you let me do that," said Andrew, and was down on his knees
beside her. The two were cramming the fuel into the little,
air-tight stove, while Robert was greeting Ellen. The awkwardness of
the situation was evidently overcoming her. She was quite pale, and
her voice trembled as she returned his good-evening. Amabel left the
young man, and clung tightly to Ellen's hand, drawing her skirt
around her until only her little face was visible above the folds.

[Illustration: The awkwardness of the situation was evidently overcoming
her]

The fumes from a match filled the room, and the fire began to roar.

"It'll be warm in a minute," said Fanny, rising. "You leave the
register open till it's real good and hot, Ellen, and there's plenty
more wood in the basket. Here, Amabel, you come out in the other
room with Aunt Fanny."

But Amabel, instead of obeying, made a dart towards Robert, who
caught her up, laughing, and smuggled her into the depths of his
fur-lined coat.

"Come right along, Amabel," said Fanny.

But Amabel clung fast to Robert, with a mischievous roll of an eye
at her aunt.

"Amabel," said Fanny, authoritatively.

"Come, Amabel," said Andrew.

"Oh, let her stay," Robert said, laughing. "I'll keep her in my coat
until it is warm."

"I'm afraid she'll bother you," said Fanny.

"Not a bit," replied Robert.

"You are a naughty girl, Amabel," said Fanny; but she went out of
the room, with Andrew at her heels. She did not know what else to
do, since the young man had expressed a desire to keep the child.
She had thought he would have preferred a _tête-à-tête_ with Ellen.
Ellen sat down on the sofa covered with olive-green plush, beyond
the table, and the light of the hideous lamp fell full upon her
face. She was thin, and much of her lovely bloom was missing between
her agitation and the cold; but Robert, looking at her, realized how
dear she was to him. There was something about that small figure,
and that fair head held with such firmness of pride, and that soul
outlooking from steady blue eyes, which filled all his need of life.
His love for the pearl quite ignored its setting of the common and
the ridiculous. He looked at her and smiled. Ellen smiled back
tremulously, then she cast down her eyes. The fire was roaring, but
the room was freezing. The sitting-room door was opened a crack, and
remained so for a second, then it was widened, and Andrew peeped in.
Then he entered, tiptoeing gingerly, as if he were afraid of
disturbing a meeting. He brought a blue knitted shawl, which he put
over Ellen's shoulders.

"Mother thinks you had better keep this on till the room gets warm,"
he whispered. Then he withdrew, shutting the door softly.

Robert, left alone with Ellen in this solemnly important fashion,
felt utterly at a loss. He had never considered himself especially
shy, but an embarrassment which was almost ridiculous was over him.
Ellen sat with her eyes cast down. He felt that the child on his
knee was regarding them both curiously.

"If you have come to see Ellen, why don't you speak to her?"
demanded Amabel, suddenly. Then both Robert and Ellen laughed.

"This is your aunt's little girl, isn't she?" asked Robert.

Amabel answered before Ellen was able. "My mamma is sick, and they
carried her away to the asylum," she told Robert. "She--she tried to
hurt Amabel; she tried to"--Amabel made that hideous gesture with
her tiny forefinger across her throat. "Mamma was sick or she
wouldn't," she added, challengingly, to Robert.

"Of course she wouldn't, you poor little soul," said Robert.

Suddenly Amabel burst into tears, and began to wriggle herself free
from his arms. "Let me go," she demanded; "let me go. I want Ellen."

When Robert loosened his grasp she fled to Ellen, and was in her lap
with a bound.

"I want my mamma--I want my mamma," she moaned.

Ellen leaned her cheek against the poor little flaxen head. "There,
there, darling," she whispered, "don't. Mamma will come home as soon
as she gets better."

"How long will that be, Ellen?"

"Pretty soon, I hope, darling. Don't."

Poor Eva Tenny had been in the asylum some four months, and the
reports as to her condition were no more favorable. Ellen's voice,
in spite of herself, had a hopeless tone, which the child was quick
to detect.

"I want my mamma," she repeated. "I want her, Ellen. It has been
to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow after that, and the
to-morrows are yesterdays, and she hasn't come."

"She will come some time, darling."

Robert sat eying the two with intensest pity. "Do you like
chocolates, Amabel?" he asked.

The child repeated that she wanted her mother still, as with a sort
of mechanical regularity of grief, but she fastened her eyes on him.

"Because I am going to send you a big box of them to-morrow," said
Robert.

Amabel turned to Ellen. "Does he mean it?" she asked.

"I guess so," replied Ellen, laughing.

Amabel, looking from one to the other, also began to laugh
unwillingly.

Then the sitting-room door opened, and Fanny called sharply and
imperatively, "Amabel, Amabel; come!"

Amabel clung more tightly to Ellen, who began to gently loosen her
arms.

"Amabel Tenny, come this minute. It is your bed-time," said Fanny.

"I guess you had better go, darling," whispered Ellen.

"I don't want to go to bed till you do, Ellen," whispered the child.

Ellen gently but firmly unclasped the clinging arms. "Run along,
dear," she whispered.

"I will send those chocolates to-morrow," suggested Robert.

Amabel seemed to do everything by sudden and violent impulses. All
at once she ceased resisting. She slid down from Ellen's lap as
quickly as she had gotten into it. She clutched her neck with two
little wiry arms, kissed her hard on the mouth, darted across the
room to Robert, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him, then
flew out of the room.

"She is an interesting child," said Robert, who felt, like most
people, the delicate flattery of a child's unsolicited caresses.

"I am very fond of her," replied Ellen.

Then the two were silent. Robert suddenly realized that there was
little to say unless he ventured on debatable ground. It would be
too absurd of him to commence making love at once, and as for asking
Ellen about her work, that seemed a subject better let alone.

Ellen herself opened the conversation by inquiring for his aunt.

"Aunt Cynthia is very well," replied Robert. "I was in there last
evening. You have not been to see her lately, Miss Brewster."

Robert realized as soon as he had said that that he had made a
mistake.

"No," replied Ellen. She obviously paled a little, and looked at him
wistfully. The young man could not stand it any longer, so straight
into the heart of the matter he lunged.

"Look here, Miss Brewster," he said, "why on earth didn't you tell
Aunt Cynthia?"

"Tell her?" repeated Ellen, vaguely.

"Yes; make a clean breast of it to her. Tell her just why you went
to work, and gave up college?"

Ellen colored, and looked at him half defiantly, half piteously. "I
told her all I ought to," she said.

"But you did not; pardon me," said Robert, "you did not tell her
half enough. You let her think that you actually of your own free
choice went to work in the factory rather than go to college."

"So I did," replied Ellen, looking at him proudly.

"Of course you did, in one sense, but in another you did not. You
deliberately chose to make a sacrifice; but it was a sacrifice. You
cannot deny that it was a sacrifice."

Ellen was silent.

"But you gave Aunt Cynthia the impression that it was not a
sacrifice," said Robert, almost severely.

Ellen's face quivered a little. "I saw no other way to do," she
said, faintly. The authoritative tone which this young man was
taking with her stirred her as nothing had ever stirred her in her
life before. She felt like a child before him.

"You have no right to give such a false impression of your own
character," said Robert.

"It was either that or a false impression of another," returned
Ellen, tremulously.

"You mean that she might have blamed your parents, and thought that
they were forcing you into this?"

Ellen nodded.

"And I suppose you thought, too, that maybe Aunt Cynthia would
suspect, if you told her all the difficulties, that you were hinting
for more assistance."

Ellen nodded, and her lip was quivering. Suddenly all her force of
character seemed to have deserted her, and she looked more like a
child than Amabel. She actually put both her little fists to her
eyes. After all, the girl was very young, a child forced by the
stress of circumstances to premature development, but she could
relapse before the insistence of another nature.

Robert looked at her, his own face working, then he could bear it no
longer. He was over on the sofa beside Ellen and had her in his
arms. "You poor little thing," he whispered. "Don't. I have loved
you ever since the first time I saw you. I ought to have told you so
before. Don't you love me a little, Ellen?"

But Ellen released herself with a motion of firm elusiveness and
looked at him. The tears still stood in her eyes, but her face was
steady. "I have been putting you out of my mind," said she.

"But could you?" whispered Robert, leaning over her.

Ellen did not reply, but looked down and trembled.

"Could you?" repeated Robert, and there was in his voice that
masculine insistence which is a true note of nature, and means the
subjugation of the feminine into harmony.

Ellen did not speak, but every line in her body betrayed helpless
yielding.

"You know you could not," said Robert with triumph, and took her in
his arms again.

But he reckoned without the girl, who was, after all, stronger than
her natural instincts, and able to rise above and subjugate them.
She freed herself from him resolutely, rose, and stood before him,
looking at him quite unfalteringly and accusingly.

"Why do you come now?" she asked. "You say you have loved me from
the first. You came to see me, you walked home with me, and said
things to me that made me think--"  She stopped.

"Made you think what, dear?" asked Robert. He was pale and
indescribably anxious and appealing. It was suddenly revealed to him
that this plum was so firmly attached to its bough of individuality
that possibly love itself could not loosen it.

"You made me think that perhaps you did care a little," said Ellen,
in a low but unfaltering voice.

"You thought quite right, only not a little, but a great deal," said
Robert, firmly.

"Then," said Ellen, "the moment I gave up going to college and went
to work you never came to see me again; you never even spoke to me
in the shop; you went right past me without a look."

"Good God! child," Robert interposed, "don't you know why I did
that?"

Ellen looked at him bewildered, then a burning red overspread her
face. "Yes," she replied. "I didn't. But I do now. They would have
talked."

"I thought you would understand that," said Robert. "I had only the
best motives for that. I cannot speak to you in the factory any more
than I have done. I cannot expose you to remark; but as for my not
calling, I believed what you said to my aunt and to me. I thought
that you had deliberately preferred a lower life to a higher
one--that you preferred earning money to something better. I
thought--"

Robert fairly started as Ellen began talking with a fire which
seemed to make her scintillate before his eyes.

"You talk about a lower and a higher life," said she. "Is it true?
Is Vassar College any higher than a shoe-factory? Is any labor which
is honest, and done with the best strength of man, for the best
motives, to support the lives of those he loves, or to supply the
needs of his race, any higher than another? Where would even books
be without this very labor which you despise--the books which I
should have learned at college? Instead of being benefited by the
results of labor, I have become part of labor. Why is that lower?"

Robert stared at her.

"I have come to feel all this since I went to work," said Ellen,
speaking in a high, rapid voice. "When I went to work, it was, as
you thought, for my folks, to help them, for my father was out of
work, and there was no other way. But since I have been at work I
have realized what work really is. There is a glory over it, as
there is over anything which is done faithfully on this earth for
good motives, and I have seen the glory, and I am not ashamed of it;
and while it was a sacrifice at first, now, while I should like the
other better, I do not think it is. I am proud of my work."

The girl spoke with a sort of rapt enthusiasm. The young man stared,
bewildered.

Robert caught Ellen's little hands, which hung, tightly clinched, in
the folds of her dress, and drew her down to his side again. "See
here, dear," he said, "maybe you are right. I never looked at it in
this way before, but you do not understand. I love you; I want to
marry you. I want to make you my wife, and lift you out of this
forever."

Then again Ellen freed herself, and straightened her head and faced
him. "There is nothing for me to be lifted out of," said she. "You
speak as if I were in a pit. I am on a height."

"My God! child, how many others feel as you, do you think, out of
the whole lot?" cried Robert.

"I don't know," replied Ellen, "but it is true. What I feel is
true."

Robert caught up her little hand and kissed it. Then he looked at
its delicate outlines. "Well, it may be true," he said, "but look at
yourself. Can't you see that you are not fashioned for manual labor?
Look at this little hand."

"That little hand can do the work," Ellen replied, proudly.

"But, dear," said Robert, "admitting all this, admitting that you
are not in a position to be lifted--admitting everything--let us
come back to our original starting-point. Dear, I love you, and I
want you for my wife. Will you marry me?"

"No, I never can," replied Ellen, with a long, sobbing breath of
renunciation.

"Why not? Don't you love me?"

"Yes. I think it must be true that I do. I said I wouldn't; I have
tried not to, but I think it must be true that I do."

"Then why not marry me?"

"Because it will be impossible for my father and mother to get along
and support Amabel and Aunt Eva without my help," said Ellen,
directly.

"But I--" began Robert.

"Do you think I will burden you with the support of a whole family?"
said Ellen.

"Ellen, you don't know what I would be willing to do if I could have
you," cried the young man, fervently. And he was quite in earnest.
At that moment it seemed to him that he could even come and live
there in that house, with the hideous lamp, and the crushed-plush
furniture, and the eager mother; that he could go without anything
and everything to support them if only he could have this girl who
was fairly storming his heart.

"I wouldn't be willing to have you," said Ellen, firmly. "As things
are now I cannot marry you, Mr. Lloyd. Then, too," she added, "you
asked me just now how many people looked at all this labor as I do,
and I dare say not very many. I know not many of your kind of
people. I know how your uncle looks at it. It would hurt you
socially to marry a girl from a shoe-shop. Whether it is just or
not, it would hurt you. It cannot be, as matters are now, Mr.
Lloyd."

"But you love me?"

Ellen suddenly, as if pushed by some mighty force outside herself,
leaned towards him, and he caught her in his arms. He tipped back
her face and kissed her, and looked down at her masterfully.

"We will wait a little," he said. "I will never give you up as long
as I live if you love me, Ellen."



Chapter XXXIX


When Ellen went out into the sitting-room that evening, after Robert
Lloyd had taken leave, her father and mother were still there,
although the callers had gone. Both of them looked furtively at her
as she went through the room to the kitchen to get a lamp, then they
looked at each other. Fanny was glowing with half shamefaced
triumph; Andrew was pale. Ellen did not re-enter the room, but
simply paused at the door, before going up-stairs, and they had a
vision of a face in a tumult of emotions, with eyes and hair
illuminated to excess of brilliancy by the lamp which she held.

"Good-night," she called, and her voice did not sound like her own.

"Something has happened," Fanny whispered to Andrew, when Ellen's
chamber door had closed.

"Do you suppose she's goin' to?" whispered Andrew, in a sort of
breathless fashion. His eyes on his wife's face were sad and
wistful.

"Hush! How do I know?" asked Fanny. "I always told you he liked
her."

However, Fanny looked disturbed. Presently she went out in the
kitchen to mix up some bread, and she wept a little, standing in a
corner, with her face hidden in the folds of an old shawl which hung
there on a peg. Dictatorial towards circumstances as she was when
her beloved daughter came in question, and proud as she was at the
prospect of an advantageous marriage for her, she remembered her
sister in the asylum, she remembered how Andrew was out of work, and
she could not understand how it was to be managed. And all this was
aside from the grief which she would have felt in any case at losing
Ellen.

As for Andrew, the next morning he put on his best clothes and went
by trolley-cars to the next manufacturing town, not a city like
Rowe, but a busy little place with two large factories, and tried in
vain to get a job there. As he came home on the crowded car, his
face was so despairing that the people looked curiously at him.
Andrew had always been mild and peaceable, but at that moment
anarchistic principles began to ferment in him. When a portly man,
swelling ostentatiously with broadcloth and fine linen, wearing a
silk hat, and carrying a gold-headed cane like a wand of office, got
into the car, Andrew looked at him with a sidelong glance which was
almost murderous. The spiritual bomb, which is in all our souls for
our fellow-men, began to swell towards explosion. This man was the
proprietor of one of the great factories in Leavitt, the town where
Andrew had vainly sought a job. He had been in the office when
Andrew entered, and the latter had heard his low voice of
instruction to the foreman that the man was too old. The
manufacturer, who weighed heavily, and described a vast curve of
opulence from silk hat to his patent-leathers, sat opposite, his
gold-headed cane planted in the aisle, his countenance a blank of
complacent power. Andrew felt that he hated him.

The man's face was not intellectual, not as intellectual as
Andrew's. He gave the impression of the force of matter oncoming and
irresistible, some inertia which had started Heaven knew how. This
man had inherited great wealth, as Andrew knew. He had capital with
which to begin, and he had strength to roll the accumulating ball.
Andrew felt more and more how he hated this man. He had told his
foreman that Andrew was too old, and Andrew knew that he was no
older, if as old, as the man himself.

"If I had been born under the Czar, and done with it, I should have
felt differently," he told himself. "But who is this man? What right
has he to say that his fellow-men shall or shall not? Does even his
own property give him the right of dictation over others? What is
property? Is it anything but a temporary lease while he draws the
breath of life? What of it in the tomb, to which he shall surely
come? Shall a temporary possession give a man the right to wield
eternal power? For the power of giving or withholding the means of
life may produce eternal results."

When the man rose and moved down the car, oscillating heavily,
steadying himself with his gold-headed cane, and got out in front of
a portentous mansion, Andrew would scarcely have recognized the look
in his own eyes had he seen himself in a mirror.

"That chap is pretty well fixed," said a man next him, to one on the
other side.

"A cool half-million," replied the other.

"More than that," said the first speaker. "His father left him half
a million to start with, besides the business, and he's been piling
up ever since."

"Do you work there?"

"Did, but I had what was mighty nigh a sunstroke last summer; had to
quit. It was damned hot up there under the roof. It's the same old
factory his father had."

"Goin' to work again?"

"Next week, if I'm able, but I dun'no' whether I can stay there
longer than till spring. It's damned hot up there under the roof."

The man who spoke had a leaden hue of face, something ghastly, as if
the deadly heat had begun a work of decomposition. Andrew looked at
him, and his hatred against the rich man who had built himself a
stately mansion, and kept his fellow-creatures at work for him in an
unhealthy factory in tropical heat, and had condemned him for being
too old, was redoubled.

"Andrew Brewster, where have you been?" Fanny asked, when he got
home.

"I've been to Leavitt," answered Andrew, shortly.

"To see if you could get a job there?"

"Yes."

Fanny did not ask if he had been successful. She sighed, and took
another stitch in the wrapper which she was making. That sigh almost
drove Andrew mad.

"I don't see what has got you into such a habit of sighing," he
said, brutally.

Fanny looked at him with reproachful anger. "Andrew Brewster, you
ain't like yourself," said she.

"I can't help it."

"There's no need for you to pitch into me because you can't get
work; I ain't to blame. I'm doing all I can. I won't stand it, and
you might as well know it first as last."

Fanny glared angrily at her husband, then the tears sprang to her
eyes.

Andrew hesitated a moment, then he leaned over her and put his thin
cheek against her rough black hair. "The Lord knows I don't mean to
be harsh to you, you poor girl," said he, "but I wish I was dead."

Fanny seemed to spring into resistance like a wire. "Then you are a
coward, Andrew Brewster," said she, hotly. "Talk about wishin' you
was dead. I 'ain't got time to die. You'd 'nough sight better go out
into the yard and split up some of that wood."

"I didn't mean to speak so, Fanny," said Andrew, "but sometimes I
get desperate, and I've been thinking of Ellen."

"Don't you suppose I have?" asked Fanny, angrily.

"Well, there's one thing about it; we won't stand in her way," said
Andrew.

"No, we won't," replied Fanny. "I'll go out washing first."

"She hasn't said anything?"

"No."

As time went on Ellen still said nothing. She had made a curious
compact for a young girl with her lover. She had stipulated that no
engagement was to exist, that she should be perfectly free--when she
said that she thought of Maud Hemingway, but she said it without a
tremor--and if years hence both were free and of the same mind they
might talk of it again.

Robert had rebelled strenuously. "You know this will shut me off
from seeing much of you," he said. "You know I told you how it will
be about my even talking much to you in the factory."

"Yes, I understand that now," replied Ellen, blushing; "and I
understand, too, that you cannot come to see me very often under
such circumstances without making talk."

"How often?" Robert asked, impetuously.

Ellen hesitated, her lip quivered a little, but her voice was firm.
"Not oftener than two or three times a year, I am afraid," said she.

"Great Scott!" cried Robert. Then he caught her in his arms again.
"Do you suppose I can stand that?" he whispered. "Ellen, I cannot
consent to this!"

"It is the only way," said she. She freed herself from him enough to
look into his eyes with a brave, fearless gaze of comradeship, which
somehow seemed to make her dearer than anything else.

"But to see you to speak to only two or three times a year!" groaned
Robert. "You are cruel, Ellen. You don't know how I love you."

"There isn't any other way," said Ellen. Then she looked up into his
face with a brave innocence of confession like a child. "It hurts
me, too," said she.

Robert had her in his arms, and was covering her face with kisses.
"You darling," he whispered. "It shall not be long. Something will
happen. We cannot live so. We will let it go so a little while, but
something will turn up. I shall have a more responsible place and a
larger salary, then--"

"Do you think I will let you?" asked Ellen, with a great blush.

"I will, whether you will let me or not," cried Robert; and at that
moment he felt inclined to marry the entire Brewster family rather
than give up this girl.

However, as he went home, walking that he might think the better, he
had to confess to himself that the girl was right; that, as matters
were, anything definite was out of the question. He had to admit
that it might be a matter of years.



Chapter XL


When Ellen had been at work in the factory a year, she was running a
machine and working by the piece, and earning on an average eighteen
dollars a week. Of course that was an unusual advance for a girl,
but Ellen was herself unusual. She came to work in those days with
such swiftness and unswerving accuracy that she seemed fairly a part
of the great system of labor itself. While she was at her machine,
her very individuality seemed lost; she became an integral part of a
system.

"She's one of the best hands we ever had," Flynn told Norman Lloyd
one day.

"I am glad to hear that," Lloyd responded, smiling with that
peculiar smile of his which was like a cold flash of steel.

"Curse him, he thinks no more of anybody in this shop than he does
of the machine they work," Flynn thought as he watched the
proprietor walking with his stately descent down the stairs. The
noon whistle was blowing, and the younger Lloyd went leaping down
the stairs and joined his uncle, then the two walked down the
street, away from the factory. The factory at that time of year
began to present, in spite of its crude architecture, quite a
charming appearance, from the luxuriant vines which covered it and
were beginning to get autumnal tints of red and russet. All the
front of Lloyd's was covered with vines, which had grown with
amazing swiftness. Mrs. Lloyd often used to look at them and reflect
upon them with complacency.

"I should think it would make it pleasanter for the men to work in
the factory, when it looks so pretty and green," she told her
husband one of the hottest days of the preceding summer. As she
spoke she compressed her lips in a way which was becoming habitual
to her. It meant the endurance of a sharp stab of vital pain. There
was a terrible pathos in the poor woman's appearance at that time.
She still kept about. Her malady did not seem to be on the increase,
but it endured. Her form had changed indescribably. She had not lost
flesh, but she had a curious, distorted look, and one on seeing her
had a bewildered feeling, and looked again to be sure that he had
seen aright. Her ghastly pallor she concealed in a manner which she
thought distinctly sinful. She painted and powdered. She did not
dare purchase openly the concoctions which were used for improving
her complexion, but she went to a manicure and invested in a colored
salve for her finger-nails. This, with rather surprising skill for
such a conscience-pricked tyro, she applied to the pale curves of
her cheeks and her blue lips. She took more pains than ever before
with her dress, and it was all to deceive her husband, that he
should not be annoyed. She felt a desperate shame because of her
illness; she felt it to be a direct personal injury to this
masculine power which had been set over her gentle femininity. It
was not so much because she was afraid of losing his affection that
she concealed her affliction from him, as because she felt that the
affliction itself was somehow an act of disloyalty. Her terrible
malady had in a way affected her reasoning powers, so that they had
become distorted by a monstrous growth of suffering, like her body.
She would not give up going about as usual, and was never absent
from church. She drove about with her husband in his smart trap.
Twice she had gone with Robert to consult the New York specialist,
taking times when Norman was away on business. She still would not
consent to an operation, and lately the specialist had been lukewarm
in advising it. He had indeed been doubtful from the first.

Mrs. Lloyd treated Robert with a soft affection which was almost
like that of a mother. One night, when he returned late from a call
on Ellen, she sat up waiting for him. He had not called on Ellen
before for several months, and it was nearly midnight when he
returned.

"Why, Aunt Lizzie, are you up?" he cried, as he entered the library
door and saw his aunt's figure, clad in shining black satin,
gleaming with jet, in the depths of an easy-chair.

Mrs. Lloyd looked up at him with an expression of patient suffering.
"I couldn't go to sleep if I went to bed, Robert," she replied, in a
hushed voice. She found it a comfort sometimes to confess her pain
to him. Robert went over to her, and drew her large, crinkled, blond
head to his shoulder as if she had been a child.

"Poor thing," he whispered, stroking her face pitifully. "Is it very
terrible?" he asked, with his lips close to her ear.

"Terrible," she whispered back. "Oh, Robert, you do not know; pray
God you may never know."

"I wish to God I could bear it for you, Aunt Lizzie," Robert said,
fervently.

"Oh, hush! If you or Norman had to bear anything like this, I should
curse God and die," she answered, and she shut her mouth hard, and
her whole face was indicative of a repressed shriek.

"Aunt Lizzie, don't you think you ought to go to New York, that you
ought--" Robert began, but she stopped him with an almost fierce
peremptoriness. "Robert Lloyd, I have trusted you," she said. "For
God's sake, don't forsake me. Don't say a word to me about that;
when I can I will. It means my death, anyhow. Dr. Evarts thought so;
you can't deny it."

"I think he thought there was a chance, Aunt Lizzie," Robert
returned, but he said it faintly.

"You can't cheat me," replied Mrs. Lloyd. "I know."  She had a lapse
from pain, and her features began to assume their natural
expression. She looked at him almost smiling, and as if she turned
her back upon her own misery. "Where have you been, Robert?" she
asked.

Robert colored a little, but he answered directly enough. "I have
been to make a call on Miss Brewster," he said.

"You don't go there very often," said Mrs. Lloyd.

"No, not very often."

"She's a beautiful girl, as beautiful a girl as I ever laid eyes on,
if she does work in the shop," said Mrs. Lloyd, "and she's a good
girl, too; I know she is. She was the sweetest little thing when she
was a child, and she 'ain't altered a mite!"  Then Mrs. Lloyd looked
with a sort of wistful curiosity at Robert.

"I think it is all true, what you say, Aunt Lizzie," replied Robert.

Mrs. Lloyd continued to look at him with that wistful scrutiny.

"Robert," she began, then she hesitated.

"What, Aunt Lizzie?"

"If--ever you wanted to marry that girl, I don't see any reason why
you shouldn't, for my part."

Robert pulled a chair close to his aunt, and sat down beside her,
still holding her hand.

"I've a good mind to tell you the whole story, Aunt Lizzie," he
said.

"I wish you would, Robert. You know I think as much of you as if you
were my own son, and I won't tell anybody, not even your uncle, if
you don't want me to."

"Well, then, it is all in a nutshell," said Robert. "I like her, you
know, and I think I have ever since I saw her in her little white
gown at the high-school exhibition."

"Wasn't she sweet?" said his aunt.

"And she likes me, too, I think."

"Of course she does."

"But you know what my salary is, and her whole family is in a
measure dependent upon her."

"Hasn't her father got work?"

"No."

"I'll speak to Norman," cried Mrs. Lloyd, quickly. "I know he would
do it for me."

"But even then, Aunt Lizzie, there is the aunt in the asylum, and
the child, and--"

"Your uncle will pay you more."

"It isn't altogether that; in fact, it isn't that at all which is at
the bottom of the difficulty. The difficulty is with Ellen herself.
She will never consent to my marrying her, and having to support her
family, while matters are as now. You don't know how proud she is,
Aunt Lizzie."

"She is a splendid girl."

"As far as I am concerned I would marry the whole lot on a little
more than I have now, but she would not let me do it. There's
nothing to do but to wait."

"Perhaps the aunt will get well and her husband will come back; and
I will see, anyway, if Norman won't give her father work," said Mrs.
Lloyd.

"I think you had better not, Aunt Lizzie."

"Why not, Robert?"

"There are reasons why I think you had better not."  Robert would
not tell her that Ellen had begged him not to use any influence of
his to get her father work.

"After the way father has been turned off, I can't stand it," she
had said, with a sort of angry dignity which was unusual to her. In
fact, her father himself had begged her not to make use of Robert in
any way for his own advancement.

"If they don't want me for my work, I don't want to crawl in because
the nephew of the boss likes my daughter," he had said. This speech
was fairly rough for him, but Ellen had understood.

"I know what you mean, father," she said.

"I'd rather work in the road," said Andrew. That autumn he was
getting jobs of clearing up yards of fallen leaves, and gathering
feed-corn and pumpkins, and earning a pittance. Fanny continued to
work on her wrappers. "It's a mercy wrappers don't go out of
fashion," she often said.

"I suppose things that folks can get for nothing ain't so apt to go
out of fashion," Andrew retorted, bitterly. He hated the wrappers
with a deadly hatred. He hated the sight of the limp row of them on
his bedroom wall. Nobody knew how the family pinched and screwed in
those days.

They were using the small fund which they secured from the house
mortgage, Ellen's earnings, and Fanny's and Andrew's, and every cent
had to be counted, but there was something splendid in their loyalty
to poor Eva in the asylum. The thought of deserting her in her
extremity never occurred to them.

Mrs. Lloyd spoke of her that night, when she and Robert were talking
together in the library.

"They are good folks, to keep on doing for that poor woman in the
asylum," she said.

"They would never desert a dog that belonged to them," Robert
answered, fervently. "I tell you that trait is worth a good many
others, Aunt Lizzie."

"I guess it is," said his aunt. Then another paroxysm of pain seized
her. She looked at Robert with a convulsed, speechless face. He held
her hands more tightly, his own face contracting in sympathy, and
watched his aunt with a sort of angry helplessness. But he felt as
if he wanted to fight something for the sake of this poor,
oppressed, innocent creature; indeed, he felt fairly blasphemous.
But this time the pain passed quickly, and Mrs. Lloyd looked at her
nephew with an expression of relief and gentleness which was almost
angelic. When the pain was over she thought again of the Brewsters,
and how they would not have forsaken her in her misery, had she
belonged to them, any more than they had forsaken the insane aunt.

"They are good folks," said she, "and that is the main thing. That
is the main thing to consider when you are marrying into a family,
Robert. It is more than riches and position. The power they've got
of loving and standing by each other is worth more than anything
else."

"You are right, Aunt Lizzie, I guess there's no doubt of that," said
Robert.

"And that girl's beautiful," said Mrs. Lloyd. She gazed at the young
man with a delicate understanding and sympathy which was almost
beyond that of a sweetheart. Robert felt as if a soft hand of
tenderness and blessing were laid on his inmost heart. He looked at
her like a grateful child.

"There isn't anybody like her, is there, Aunt Lizzie?" he asked.

"No, I don't think there is, dear boy," said Mrs. Lloyd. "I do think
she is the sweetest little thing I ever saw in my life."

Robert brought his aunt's hand to his lips and kissed it. It seemed
to him for a minute as if the love and sympathy of this martyr were
almost more precious than the love of Ellen herself.

He realized when he was in his own room, and the house was quiet,
how much he loved his aunt, and how hard her pain and probably
inevitable doom were for him to bear. Then something came to him
which he had never felt before--a great, burning anxiety and
tenderness and terror over Ellen, because she was of the weaker half
of creation, which is born to the larger share of pain in the world.
He felt that he would almost have given her up, yielded up forever
all his delight in her, to spare her; for the pain of knighthood,
which is in every true lover, awoke in his heart.



Chapter XLI


Nahum Beals was a laster in Lloyd's. Late in the autumn, when Ellen
had been in the factory a little over a year, there began to be a
subtle condition of discontent and insubordination. Men gathered in
muttering groups, of which Nahum Beals seemed always to be the
nucleus. His high, rampant voice, restrained by no fear of
consequences, always served as the key-note to the chorus of
rebellion. Ellen paid little attention to it. She was earning good
wages, and personally she had nothing of which to complain. She had
come to regard Beals as something of a chronic fanatic, but as she
knew that the lasters were fairly paid, she had not supposed it
meant anything. However, one night, going home from the factory, her
eyes were opened. Abby and Maria Atkins and Mamie Brady were with
her, and shortly after they had left the shop Abby stopped Granville
Joy, Frank Dixon, and Willy Jones, who with another young man were
swinging past without noticing the girls, strange to say. Abby
caught Joy by the arm.

"Hold on a minute, Granville Joy," said she. "I want to know what's
up with the lasters."

Granville laughed, with an uneasy, sidelong, deprecating glance at
Ellen. "Oh, nothing much," said he.

Willy Jones stood still, coloring, gazing at Abby with a
half-terrified expression. Dixon walked on, and the other young man,
Amos Lee, who was dark and slight and sinewy, stared from one to the
other with quick flashes of black eyes. He looked almost as if he
had gypsy blood in him, and he came of a family which was further on
the outskirts of society than the Louds had been.

When Granville replied "nothing much" to Abby's question, Amos Lee
frowned with a swift contraction of dissent, but did not speak until
Abby had retorted. "You needn't talk that way to me, Granville Joy,"
said she. "You can't cheat me. I know something's up."

"It ain't nothin', Abby," said Granville, but it was quite evident
that he was lying.

Then Lee spoke up, in a sudden fury of enthusiasm. "There is
somethin' up," said he, "and I don't care if you do know it.
There's--" he stopped as Granville clutched his arm violently and
whispered something.

"Well, maybe you're right," said Lee to Joy. "Look here," he
continued to Abby, "you and Ellen come along here a little ways, and
I'll tell you."

After Maria and Mamie had passed on, Joy and Jones and Lee, standing
close to the two girls, began to talk, Lee leading.

"Well, look here," he said, in a hushed voice. "We've found out--no
matter how, but we've found out--that the boss is goin' to dock the
lasters' pay."

"How much?" asked Abby.

"Fifteen per cent."

"Good Lord!" said Abby.

"We ain't going to stand it," said Lee.

"I don't see how we can stand it," said Willy Jones, with a slightly
interrogative tone directed towards Abby. Granville looked at Ellen.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Perfectly sure," replied Granville. "What do you think about it,
Ellen?"

"What are you going to do?" asked Ellen, thoughtfully.

"Strike for fifteen per cent. more before he has a chance to dock
us," cried Lee, with a hushed vehemence, looking about warily to
make sure that no one overheard.

"The worst of it is, I know it all comes from Nahum Beals, and he's
half cracked," said Abby, bluntly.

"He's got the right of it, anyhow," said Lee.

The two girls walked on, while the men lingered behind to talk.

"Do you suppose it is true, Abby?" asked Ellen.

"I don't know. I should, if it wasn't for that Lee fellow. I can't
bear him. And that Nahum Beals, I believe he's half mad."

"I feel the same way about him," said Ellen; "but think what it
would mean, fifteen per cent. less on their wages."

"It doesn't mean so much for those young fellows, except Willy
Jones; he's got enough on his shoulders."

"No, but ever so many of the lasters have large families."

"I hope they don't drag Willy Jones into it," said Abby. She looked
back as she spoke. Willy, in the little knot of men, was looking
after her, and their eyes met. Abby colored.

"It's a shame to dock his wages," she said.

"Whose--Willy Jones's?"

"Yes. I hope he won't get into any trouble. I can't bear that Lee."

"Still, to dock their wages fifteen per cent.," said Ellen,
thoughtfully.

"What right has Mr. Lloyd?"

"I suppose he'd say he has the right because he has the capital."

"I don't see why that gives him the right."

"You'd better go and talk to him," said Abby. "As for me, I made up
my mind when I went to work in the shop that I'd got to be a
bond-slave, all but my soul. That can kick free, thank the Lord."

"I didn't make up my mind to it," said Ellen. "I am not going to be
a slave in any way, and I am not going to approve of others being
slaves."

"You think they ought to strike?"

"Yes, if it is true that Mr. Lloyd is going to dock their wages, but
I don't feel sure that it is true. Mr. Beals is a queer man.
Sometimes I have thought he was dangerous."



Chapter XLII


Tuesday evening was one of those marvellously clear atmospheres of
autumn which seem to be clearer from the contrast to the mists of
the recent summer. The stars swarmed out in unnumbered hosts.

"Seems to me I never saw so many stars," one would say to another.
The air had the sharp cleave of the frost in it. Everything was
glittering with a white rime--the house roofs, and the levels of
fields on the outskirts of the little city.

Ellen had an errand down-town that evening, and she wrapped herself
up warmly, putting on a fur collar which she had not worn since the
winter before. She felt strangely nervous and disturbed as she set
out.

"Don't you want your father to go with you?" asked Fanny, for in
some occult fashion the girl's perturbation seemed to be
communicated to her. She followed her to the door.

"Seems kind of lonesome for you to go alone," she said, anxiously.

"As if I minded! Why, it is as bright as day with the
electric-lights, and there are houses almost all the way," laughed
Ellen.

"Your father could go with you, or he could go for you."

"No, he couldn't go for me. I want to get one of the new catalogues
at the library and pick out a book, and there is no sense in
dragging father out. He has a cold, too. Why, there is nothing in
the world to be afraid of, mother."

"Well, don't be any longer than you can help," said Fanny.

Ellen, as she passed her grandmother's house, saw a curtain drawn
with a quick motion. That happened nearly every time she passed. She
knew that the old woman was always on the lookout for her, and
always bent on concealing it. Mrs. Zelotes never went into her son's
house, and never spoke to Ellen in those days. She had aged rapidly
during the past year, and even her erect carriage had failed her.
She stooped rigidly when she walked. She was fairly racked with love
and hatred of Ellen. She adored her, she could have kissed the
ground she walked on, and yet she was so full of wrath against her
for thwarting her hopes for her own advancement that she was
conscious of cruel impulses in her direction.

Ellen walked along rapidly under the vast canopy of stars, about
which she presently began to have a singular impression. She felt as
if they were being augmented, swelled as if by constantly oncoming
legions of light from the space beyond space, and as if her little
space of individuality, her tiny foothold of creation, was being
constantly narrowed by them.

"I never saw so many stars," she said to herself. She looked with
wonder at the Milky Way, which was like a zone of diamond dust.
Suddenly a mighty conviction of God, which was like the blazing
forth of a new star, was in her soul. Ellen was not in a sense
religious, and had never united with the Congregational Church,
which she had always attended with her parents; she had never been
responsive to efforts made towards her so-called conversion, but all
at once, under the stars that night, she told herself with an
absolute certainty of the truth of it. "There is something beyond
everything, beyond the stars, and beyond all poor men, and beyond
me, which is enough for all needs. We shall have our portion in the
end."

She had been feeling discouraged lately, although she would not own
it even to herself. She saw Robert but seldom, and her aunt was no
better. She often wondered if there could be anything before her but
that one track of drudgery for daily bread upon which she had set
out. She wondered if she ought not to say positively to Robert that
there must be no thought of anything between them in the future. She
wondered if she were not wronging him. Once or twice she had seen
him riding with Miss Hemingway, and thought that, after all, that
was a girl better suited to him, and perhaps if he had no hope
whatever of her he might turn to the other to his own advantage. But
to-night, with the clear stimulus of the frost in her lungs, and her
eyes and soul dazzled with the multiplicity of stars, she began to
have a great impetus of courage, like a soldier on the morning of
battle. She felt as if she could fight for her joy and the joy of
others, and victory would in the end be certain; that the chances of
victory ran to infinity, and could not be measured.

However, all the while, in spite of her stimulation of spirits,
there was that vague sense of excitement, as over some impending
crisis. That she could not throw off. Suddenly she found herself
searching the road ahead of her, and often turning at the fancied
sound of a footstep. She began to wish that her father had come with
her; then she told herself how foolish she was, for he had a cold,
and this keen air would have been sure to give him more. The
electric-car passed her, and she had a grateful sense of
companionship. She looked after its diminishing light in the
distance, and almost wished that she had stopped it, but car-fares
had to be counted carefully.

She began to dread unspeakably passing the factories. She told
herself that there was no sense in it, that it was not late, that
the electric-light made it like high noon, that there was a watchman
in each building, that there was nothing whatever to fear; but it
was in vain. It was only by a great effort of her will that she did
not turn and go back home when she reached Lloyd's.

Lloyd's came first; then, a few rods farther, on the other side of
the street, McGuire's, and then Briggs's.

Ellen had a library book under her arm, and she clutched her
dress-skirt firmly. A terror as to the supernatural was stealing
over her. She felt as she had when waking in the night from some
dreadful dream, though all the time she was dinning in her ears how
foolish she was. She saw the lantern of the night-watchman in
Lloyd's moving down a stair which crossed a window.

She came opposite Lloyd's, and, just as she did so, saw a dark
figure descending the right-hand flight of stairs from the entrance
platform. She thought, from something in the carriage, that it was
Mr. Lloyd, and hung back a little, reflecting that she would keep
behind him all the way to town.

The man reached the ground at the foot of the stairs, then there was
a flash of fire from the shadow underneath, and a shot rang out.
Ellen did what she could never have counted upon herself for doing.
She ran straight towards the man, who had fallen prostrate like a
log, and was down on the ground beside him, with his head on her
lap, shouting for the night-watchman, whose name was McLaughlin.

"McLaughlin!" she shouted. But there was no need of it, for he had
heard the shot. The cry had not left Ellen's lips before she was
surrounded by men, one of whom was Granville Joy, one was Dixon, and
one was John Sargent.

Joy and Sargent had met down-town, and were walking home together,
when the shot rang out, and they had rushed forward. Then there was
McLaughlin, the watchman of Lloyd's, and the two watchmen from
Briggs's and McGuire's came pelting down their stairs, swinging
their lanterns.

They all stood around the wounded man and Ellen, and stared for a
second. They were half stupefied.

"My God! this is a bad job," said Dixon.

"Go for a doctor," cried Ellen, hoarsely.

"We're a pack of fools," ejaculated Sargent, suddenly. Then he gave
Granville Joy a push on the back. "Run for your life for the first
doctor," he cried, and was down on his knees beside the wounded man.
Lloyd seemed to be quite insensible. There was a dark spot which was
constantly widening in a hideous circle of death on his shirt-front
when Sargent opened his coat and vest tenderly.

"Is he--" whispered Ellen. She held one of Lloyd's hands in a firm
clutch as if she would in such wise hold him to life.

"No, not yet," whispered Sargent. Dixon knelt down on the other
side, and took Lloyd's other hand and felt his pulse. McLaughlin was
rushing aimlessly up and down, talking as he went.

"I never heard a thing till that shot came," he kept repeating.
"He'd jest been in to get his pocketbook he'd left in the office. I
never heard a thing till I heard that shot."

Sargent was opening Lloyd's shirt. "McLaughlin, for God's sake stop
talking and run for another doctor, in case Joy does not get one at
once," he cried; "then go to his house, and tell young Lloyd, but
don't say anything to his wife."

"Poor Mrs. Lloyd," whispered Ellen.

The sick man sighed audibly. It seemed as if he had heard. The other
watchmen stood looking on helplessly.

"Why in thunder don't you two scatter, and see if you can't catch
him," cried Dixon to them. "He can't be far off."

But the words had no sooner left his mouth than up came a great
Swede who was one of the workmen in Lloyd's, and he had Nahum Beals
in a grasp as imperturbable as fate. The assassin, even with the
strength of his fury of fanaticism, was as a reed in the grasp of
this Northern giant. The Swede held him easily, walking him before
him in a forced march. He had a hand of Nahum's in each of his, and
he compelled Nahum's right hand to retain the hold of the discharged
pistol. There was something terrible about the Swede as he drew
near, a captor as unyielding and pitiless as justice itself. He was
even smiling with a smile which showed his gums from ear to ear, but
there was no joy in his smile, and no triumph. His blue eyes
surveyed them all with the placid content of achievement.

"I have him," he said. "I heard him shoot, and I heard him run, and
I stood still until he ran into my arms. I have him."

Nahum, in the grasp of this fate, was quivering from head to foot,
but not from fear.

"Is he dead?" he shouted, eagerly.

"Hush up, you murderer," cried Dixon. "We didn't want any such work
as this, damn you. Keep fast hold of him, Olfsen."

"I will keep him fast," replied the Swede, smiling.

Then there was a swift clatter of wheels, and two doctors drove up,
and men came running. The space in front of Lloyd's was black with
men. Robert Lloyd was among them. Granville Joy had met him on the
street.

"You'd better go down to the factory, quick," he had said, hoarsely.
"There's trouble there; your uncle--"

Robert pushed through the crowd, which made way respectfully for
him. He knelt down beside the wounded man. "Is he--" he whispered to
Sargent.

"Not yet," whispered Sargent, "but I'm afraid it's pretty bad."

"You here?" Robert said to Ellen.

"Yes," she answered, "I was passing when I heard the shot."

"See here," said Robert, "I don't know but I am asking a good deal,
but will you get into Dr. James's buggy, and let his man drive you
to my aunt's, and you break it to her? She likes you. I must stay
with him. I don't want her to know it first when he is brought
home."

"Yes, that will be the best way," said the other physician, who was
the one regularly employed by the Lloyds. "Some one must tell her
first, and if she knows this young lady--"

"I will go," said Ellen.

Dr. Story whispered something to Ellen as she was getting into the
buggy. Then Dr. James's man drove her away down the street.

There was a little black mare harnessed to the buggy, and she went
with nervous leaps of speed. When Ellen reached the Lloyd house she
saw that it was blazing with light. Norman Lloyd was fond of
brilliant light, and would have every room in his house illuminated
from garret to cellar.

As Ellen went up the stone steps she saw a woman's figure in the
room at the right, which moved to an attitude of attention when she
rang the bell.

Before Ellen could inquire for Mrs. Lloyd of the maid who answered
her ring there was a shrill cry from the room on the right.

"Who is it? Who is it?" demanded the voice.

Then, before Ellen could speak, Mrs. Lloyd came running out.

"What is it?" she said. "Tell me quick. I know something has
happened. Tell me quick. You came in Dr. James's buggy, and the man
was driving fast. Tell me."

"Oh, Mrs. Lloyd," said Ellen. Then she could say no more, but the
other woman knew.

"Is he dead?" she asked, hoarsely.

"Oh, no, no, not dead."

"Hurt?"

Ellen nodded, trembling.

"How?"

"He was shot."

"Who shot him?"

"One of the workmen. They have him. Carl Olfsen found him."

"One of the workmen, when he has always been so good!"

Suddenly Mrs. Lloyd seemed to gather herself together into the
strength of action.

"Are they bringing him home?" she asked Ellen, in a sharp, decisive
voice.

"I think they must be by this time."

"Then I've got to get ready for him. Come, quick."

There was by that time a man and two women servants standing near
them, aghast. Mrs. Lloyd turned to the man.

"Go down to the drug-store and get some brandy, there isn't any in
the house," said she; "then come back as quick as you can. Maggie,
you see that there is plenty of hot water. Martha, you and Ellen
come up-stairs with me, quick."

Ellen followed Mrs. Lloyd and the maid up-stairs, and, before she
knew what she was doing, was assisting to put the room in perfect
readiness for the wounded man. The maid was weeping all the time she
worked, although she had never liked Mr. Lloyd. There was something
about her mistress which was fairly abnormal. She kept looking at
her. This gentle, soft-natured woman had risen above her own pain
and grief to a sublime strength of misery.

"Get the camphor, quick, Martha," she said to the maid, who flew
out, with the tears streaming. Ellen stood on one side of the bed,
and Mrs. Lloyd on the other. Mrs. Lloyd had stripped off the
blankets, and was pinning the sheet tightly over the mattress. She
seemed to know instinctively what to do.

"I wish you would bring that basin over here, and put it on the
stand," said Mrs. Lloyd. "Martha, you fetch more towels, and,
Maggie, you run up garret and bring down some of those old sheets
from the trunk under the window, quick."

This maid, who was as large and as ample as her mistress, fled out
of the room with heavy, noiseless pads of flat feet.

All the time Mrs. Lloyd worked she was evidently listening. She paid
no attention to Ellen except to direct her. All at once she gave a
great leap and stood still.

"They're coming," said she, though Ellen had heard nothing. Ellen
went close to her, and took her two fat, cold hands. She could say
nothing. Then she heard the roll of carriage-wheels in the street
below.

Mrs. Lloyd pulled her hands away from Ellen's and went to the head
of the stairs.

"Bring him right up here," she ordered, in a loud voice.

Ellen stood back, and the struggling procession with the prostrate
man in the midst labored up the broad stairs.

"Bring him in here," said Mrs. Lloyd, "and lay him on the bed."

When Lloyd was stretched on the bed, the crowd drew back a little,
and she bent over him.

Then she turned with a sort of fierceness to the doctors.

"Why don't you do something?" she demanded. She raised a hand with a
repellant gesture towards the other men.

"You had better go now," said she. "I thank you very much. If there
is anything you can do, I will let you know."

When Mrs. Lloyd was left with the two doctors and a young assistant,
Robert, and Ellen, she said, cutting her words short as if she
released every one from a mental grip:

"I have got everything ready. Shall I go out now?"

"I think you had better, Mrs. Lloyd," said the family physician,
pityingly. He went close to Ellen.

"Can't you stay with her a little while?" he whispered.

Ellen nodded.

Then the physician spoke quite loudly and cheerfully to Mrs. Lloyd.

"We are going to probe for the ball," he said. "We must all hope for
the best, Mrs. Lloyd."

Mrs. Lloyd made no reply. She bent again over her husband with a
rigid face, and kissed him on his white lips, then she went out,
with Ellen following.

Norman Lloyd lived only two hours after he was shot. The efforts to
remove the ball had to be abandoned. He was conscious only a few
minutes. He suddenly began to look about him with comprehension.

"Robert," he said, in a far-away voice.

Robert stooped closely over his uncle. The dying man looked up at
him with an expression which he had never worn in life.

"That man was insane," whispered he, faintly. Then he added, "Look
out for her, if she has to go through the operation. Take care of
her. Make it as easy for her as you can."

"Then you know, Uncle Norman," gasped Robert.

"All the time, but it--pleased her to think I--did not. Don't let
her know I knew. Take care--"

Then Norman Lloyd relapsed into unconsciousness, and the whole room
and the whole house became clamorous with his stertorous breathing.
Mrs. Lloyd and Ellen came and stood in the doorway. The doctor
whispered to them. Then the breathing ceased, although at first it
was inconceivable that the silence did not continue to ring with it,
and Mrs. Lloyd came into the room.



Chapter XLIII


When Mrs. Lloyd entered the room, the attention of every one was
taken from the dead man on the bed and concentrated upon the woman.
Dr. Story, a nervous, intense, elderly man with a settled frown of
perplexity over keen eyes, which he had gotten from a struggle of
forty years with unanswerable problems of life and death, stepped
towards her hastily. Robert pressed close to her side. Ellen came
behind her, holding in a curious, instinctive fashion to a fold of
the older woman's gown, as if she had been a mother holding back a
child from a sudden topple to its hurt. Everybody expected her to
make some heart-breaking manifestation. She did nothing. At that
moment the sublime unselfishness of the woman, which was her one
strength of character, seemed actually to spread itself, as with
wings, before them all. She moved steadily, close to her husband on
the bed. She gazed at that profile of rigid calmness and enforced
peace, which, although the head lay low, seemed to have an effect of
upward motion, as if it were cleaving the mystery of space. Mrs.
Lloyd laid her hand upon her husband's forehead; she felt a slight
incredulousness of death, because it was still warm. She took his
hands, drew them softly together, and folded them upon his breast.
Then she turned and faced them all with an angelic expression.

"He did not realize it to suffer much?" she said.

"No, Mrs. Lloyd," replied Dr. Story, quickly. "No, I assure you that
he suffered very little."

"He seemed very happy when he died, Aunt Lizzie," said Robert,
huskily.

Mrs. Lloyd looked away from them all around the room. It was a
magnificent apartment. Norman Lloyd had had an artistic taste as
well as wealth. The furnishings had always been rather beyond Mrs.
Lloyd's appreciation, but she admired them kindly. She took in every
detail; the foam of rich curtains at the great windows, the
cut-glass and silver on the dressing-table, the pale softness of a
polar-bear skin beside the bed, the lifelike insistence of the
costly pictures on the walls.

"He's gone where it is a great deal more beautiful," she said to
them, like a child. "He's gone where there's better treasures than
these which he had here."

They all looked at her in amazement. It actually seemed as if, for
the moment, the woman's sole grief was over the loss to her husband
of those things which he had on earth--the treasures of his mortal
state.

Robert took hold of his aunt's arm and led her, quite unresisting,
from the room, and as she went she felt for Ellen's hand. "It is
time she was home," she said to Robert. "Her folks will be worried
about her. She's been a real comfort to me."

It was the first time that Ellen had ever seen death, that she had
ever seen the living confronted with it. She felt as if a wave were
breaking over her own head as she clung fast to Mrs. Lloyd's hand.

"Sha'n't I stay?" she whispered, pitifully, to her. "If I can send
word to my mother--"

"No, you dear child," replied Mrs. Lloyd, "you've done enough, and
you will have to be up early in the morning."  Then she checked
herself. "I forgot," said she to Robert; "the factory will be closed
till after the funeral, won't it?"

"Of course it will, Aunt Lizzie."

"And the workmen will be paid just the same, of course," said Mrs.
Lloyd. "Now, can't you take her home, Robert?"

"Oh, don't mind about me," cried Ellen.

"You can have a horse put into the buggy," said Mrs. Lloyd.

"Oh, you mustn't leave her now," Ellen whispered to Robert. "Let
somebody else take me--Dr. James--"

"I would rather you took her," said Mrs. Lloyd. "And you needn't
worry about his leaving me, dear child; the doctor will stay until
he comes back."

As Robert was finally going out his aunt caught his arm and looked
at him with a radiant expression. "He will never know about _me_
now," said she, "and it won't be long before I-- Oh, I feel as if I
had gotten rid of my own death."

She was filled with inexpressible thankfulness that she had herself
to bear what she had dreaded for her husband. "Only think how hard
it would have been for Norman," she said to Cynthia, the next day.

Cynthia looked at her wonderingly. She could have understood this
feeling over a dearly beloved child. "You are a good woman, Lizzie,"
she said, in a tone of pitiful respect.

"Not half as good a woman as he was a man," returned Mrs. Lloyd,
jealously. "Norman wasn't a professor, I know, but he was a
believer. You don't think it is necessary to be a professor in order
to be saved, do you, Cynthia?"

"I certainly do not," Cynthia replied. "I wish you would go and lie
down, Lizzie."

"Oh, I can't. I wouldn't let anybody do these things but me, for the
whole world."  Mrs. Lloyd was arranging flowers, tuberoses and white
carnations, in vases, and the whole house was scented with them. She
looked ghastly, yet still unconquerably happy. She had now no reason
to conceal the ravages of disease, and her color was something
frightful. Still, she did not suffer as much, for her mind had
overborne her body to such an extent that she had the mastery for
the time, to a certain extent, of those excruciating stabs of pain.
People looked at her incredulously. They could not believe that she
felt as she talked, that she was as happy and resigned as she
looked, but it was all true. It was either an abnormal state into
which her husband's death had thrown her, or one too normal to be
credited. She looked at it all with a supreme childishness and
simplicity. She simply believed that her husband was in heaven,
where she should join him; that he was beyond all suffering which
might have come to him through her, and all that troubled her was
the one consideration of his having been forced to leave his
treasures of earth. She looked at various things which had been
prized by the dead man, and found her chief comfort in saying to the
minister or Cynthia or Robert that Norman had loved these, but he
would have that which was infinitely more precious. She even gazed
out of the window, that Tuesday night, and saw her nephew driving
away with Ellen, and reflected, with pain, that her husband had been
fond and proud of that bay. She was a little at a loss to conceive
what could make up to her husband for that in another world, but she
succeeded, and evolved from her own loving fancy, and her
recollection of the Old Testament, a conception of some wonderful
creature, shod with thunder and maned with a whirlwind. Her disease,
and a drug she had been taking of late, stimulated her imagination
to results of grotesque pathos, but she was comforted.

That night when they were alone, Robert turned to the girl at his
side with a sudden motion. It was no time for love-making, for that
was in the mind of neither of them, but the bereavement of this
other woman, and the tragedy of her state, filled him with a sort of
protective pain towards the girl who might some time have to suffer
through him the same loss.

"Are you all tired out, dear?" he said, and passed his free arm
around her waist.

"No," replied Ellen. Then, since she was only a girl, and
overwrought, having been through a severe strain, she broke down,
and began to cry.

Robert drew her closer, and she hid her face on his shoulder. "Poor
little girl, it has been very hard for you," he whispered.

"Oh, don't think of me," sobbed Ellen. "But I can't bear it, the way
she acts and looks. It is sadder than grief."

"She is not going to live long herself, dear," said Robert, in a
stifled voice.

"And he--did not know?"

"Hush! yes; but you must never tell any one. She tried to keep it
from him. That is her comfort."

"Oh," said Ellen. She looked up at the white face of the young man
bending over her, and suddenly the realization of a love that was
mightier than all the creatures who came of it and all who followed
it was over her.



Chapter XLIV


When Ellen did not return, there was some alarm in the Brewster
household. Mrs. Zelotes came over, finally, in a quiver of anxiety.

"Maybe I had better start out and see if I can find her," said
Andrew.

"I think you had better," returned his mother. "She went before
eight o'clock, and it's most midnight, and I've set at my window
watchin' ever since. I don't see what you've been thinkin' about,
waitin' all this time. I guess if I was a man I shouldn't have
waited."

"I think she may have gone in to see Abby Atkins--it's on the
way--and not realized how late it was," said Fanny, obstinately, but
with a very white face. She drew her thread through with a jerk. It
knotted, and she broke it off viciously.

"Fiddlesticks!" said her mother-in-law.

"There's no use imaginin' things," said Fanny, angrily; "but I think
myself you'd better go now, Andrew, and see if you can see anything
of her."

"I'm goin' with him," announced Mrs. Zelotes.

"Now, mother, you'd better stay where you be," said Andrew, putting
on his hat. Then the door flew open, and Amos Lee, who had seen the
light in the windows, and was burning to impart the news of the
tragedy, rushed in.

"Heard what's happened?" he cried out.

They all thought of Ellen. "What?" demanded Andrew, in a terrible
voice. Fanny dropped her work and stared at him, with her chin
falling as if she were dying. Mrs. Zelotes made a queer gurgling
noise in her throat. Lee stared at them a second, bewildered by the
effect of his own words, although they had for him such a tragic
import. Andrew caught hold of him in a grasp like the clamp of a
machine. "What?" he demanded again.

"The boss has been shot," cried Lee, getting his breath.

Andrew dropped his arm, and they all stared at him. Lee went on
fluently, as if he were a fakir at a fair.

"Nahum Beals did it. The boss went back to the office to get his
pocketbook; McLaughlin saw him; then he went down the stairs; Nahum,
he--he fired; he had been hidin' underneath the stairs. Carl Olfsen
caught him, and he's in jail. Your daughter she was there when the
shot came, and run up and held his head. The young boss he sent her
in Dr. James's buggy to Mrs. Lloyd to break the news. She 'ain't got
home?"

"No," gasped Andrew.

"The boss has been shot; he's dead by this time," repeated Lee.
"Beals did it; they've got him."  There was the most singular
evenness and impartiality in his tone, although he was evidently
strained to a high pitch of excitement. It was impossible to tell
whether he exulted in or was aghast at the tragedy.

"Oh, that poor woman!" cried Fanny.

"I'd like to know what they'll do next," cried Mrs. Zelotes. "I
should call it pretty work."

"Nahum Beals has acted to me as if he was half crazy for some time,"
said Fanny.

"No doubt about it," said Lee; "but I shouldn't wonder if he had to
swing."

"It's dreadful," said Fanny. "I wonder when she's comin' home."

"Seems as if they might have got somebody besides that girl to have
gone there," said Mrs. Zelotes.

"She happened to be right on the spot," said Lee, importantly.

Andrew seemed speechless; he leaned against the mantel-shelf, gazing
from one to the other, breathing hard. He had had bitter feelings
against the murdered man, and a curious sense of guilt was over him.
He felt almost as if he were the murderer.

"Andrew, I dun'no' but you'd better go up there and see if she's
comin' home," said Fanny; and he answered heavily that maybe he had
better, when they heard wheels, which stopped before the house.

"They're bringin' her home," said Lee.

Andrew ran and threw open the front door. He had a glimpse of
Robert's pale face, nodding to him from the buggy as he drove away,
and Ellen came hastening up the walk.

"Well, Ellen, this is pretty dreadful news," said her father,
tremulously.

"So you have heard?"

"Amos Lee has just come in. It's a terrible thing, Ellen."

"Yes, it's terrible," returned Ellen, in a quick, strained voice.
She entered the sitting-room, and when she met her mother's anxious,
tender eyes, she stood back against the wall, with her hands to her
face, sobbing. Fanny ran to her, but her grandmother was quicker.
She had her arms around the girl before the mother had a chance.

"If they couldn't get somebody besides you," she said, in a voice of
intensest love and anger, "I should call it pretty work. Now you go
straight to bed, Ellen Brewster, and I'm goin' to make a bowl of
sage tea, and bring it up, and see if it won't quiet your nerves. I
call it pretty work."

"Yes, you'd better go to bed, Ellen," said Andrew, gulping as if he
were swallowing a sob.

Mrs. Zelotes fairly forced Ellen towards the door, Fanny following.

"Don't talk and wake Amabel," whispered Ellen, forcing back her
sobs.

"Was he dead when you got there, Ellen?" called out Lee.

Mrs. Zelotes turned back and looked at him. "It's after midnight,
and time for you to be goin' home," she said. Then the three
disappeared. Lee grinned sheepishly at Andrew.

"Your mother is a stepper of an old woman," said he.

"It's awful news," said Andrew, soberly. "Whatever anybody may have
felt, nobody expected--"

"Of course they didn't," retorted Lee, quickly. "Nahum went a step
too far."  He started for the door as he spoke.

"Well, he was crazy, without any doubt!" said Andrew.

"He'll have to swing for it all the same," said Lee, going out.

"It don't seem right, if he wasn't himself when he did it."

"Lord, we're all crazy when it comes to things like that," returned
Lee. Before closing the door he flashed his black eyes and white
teeth at Andrew, who felt repelled.

He sat down beside the table and leaned his head upon it. To his
fancy all creation seemed to circle about that one dead man. Mr.
Lloyd had been for years the arbiter of his destiny, almost of his
life. Andrew had regarded him with almost feudal loyalty and
admiration, and lately with bitter revolt and hatred, and now he was
dead. He felt no sorrow, but rather a terrible remorse because he
felt no sorrow. All the bitter thoughts which he had ever had
against Lloyd seemed to marshal themselves before him like an
accusing legion of ghosts. And with it all there was a sense of
desolation, as if some force which had been necessary to his full
living had gone out of creation.

"It's over thirty years since I went to work under him," Andrew
thought, and he gave a dry sob. At that moment a wonderful pity and
sorrow for the dead man seemed to spring up in his soul like a
light. He felt as if he loved him.


Norman Lloyd's funeral was held in the First Baptist Church of Rowe.
It was crowded. Mr. Lloyd had been the most prominent manufacturer
and the wealthiest man in the city. His employés filled up a great
space in the body of the church.

Andrew went with his mother and wife. They arrived quite early. When
Andrew saw the employés of Lloyd's marching in, he drew a great
sigh. He looked at the solemn black thing raised on trestles before
the pulpit with an emotion which he could not himself understand.
"That man 'ain't treated me well enough for me to care anything
about him," he kept urging upon himself. "He never paid any more
attention to me than a gravel-stone under his feet; there ain't any
reason why I should have cared about him, and I don't; it can't be
that I do."  Yet arguing with himself in this way, he continued to
eye the casket which held his dead employer with an unyielding
grief.

Mrs. Zelotes sat like a black, draped statue at the head of the pew,
but her eyes behind her black veil were sharply observant. She
missed not one detail. She saw everything; she counted the wreaths
and bouquets on the casket, and stored in her mind, as vividly as
she might have done some old mourning-piece, the picture of the near
relatives advancing up the aisle.

Mrs. Lloyd came leaning on her nephew's arm, and there were Cynthia
Lennox and a distant cousin, an elderly widow who had been summoned
to the house of death.

Ellen sat in the body of the church, with the employés of Lloyd's,
between Abby Atkins and Maria. She glanced up when the little
company of mourners entered, then cast her eyes down again and
compressed her lips. Maria began to weep softly, pressing her
handkerchief to her eyes. Ellen's mother had begged her not to sit
with the employés, but with her and her father and grandmother in
their own pew, but the girl had refused.

"I must sit where I belong," said she.

"Maybe she thinks it would look as if she was putting on airs on
account of--" Fanny said to Andrew when Ellen had gone out.

"I guess she's right," returned Andrew.

The employés had contributed money for a great floral piece composed
of laurel and white roses, in the shape of a pillow. Mamie Brady,
who sat behind Ellen, leaned over, and in a whisper whistled into
her ear.

"Ain't it handsome?" said she. "Can you see them flowers from the
hands?"

Ellen nodded impatiently. The great green and white decoration was
in plain view from her seat, and as she looked at it she wondered if
it were a sarcasm or poetic truth beyond the scope of the givers,
the pillow of laurel and roses, emblematic of eternal peace,
presented by the hard hands of labor to dead capital.

Of course the tragic circumstances of Norman Lloyd's death increased
the curiosity of the public. Gradually the church became crowded by
a slow and solemn pressure. The aisles were filled. The air was
heavy with the funeral flowers. The minister spoke at length,
descanting upon the character of the deceased, his uprightness and
strict integrity in business, avoiding pitfalls of admissions of
weaknesses with the expertness of a juggler. He was always regarded
as very apt at funerals, never saying too much and never too little.
The church was very still, the whole audience wrapped in a solemn
hush, until the minister began to pray; then there was a general
bending of heads and devout screening of faces with hands. Then all
at once a sob from a woman sounded from the rear of the church. It
was hysterical, and had burst from the restraint of the weeper.
People turned about furtively.

"Who was that?" whispered Mamie Brady, after a prolonged stare over
her shoulders from under her red frizzle of hair. "It ain't any of
the mourners."

Ellen shook her head.

"Do keep still, Mamie Brady," whispered Abby Atkins.

The sob came again, and this time it was echoed from the pew where
sat the members of the dead man's family. Mrs. Lloyd began weeping
convulsively. Her state of mind had raised her above natural
emotion, and yet her nerves weakly yielded to it when given such an
impetus. She wept like a child, and now and then a low murmur of
heart-broken complaint came from her lips, and was heard distinctly
over the church. Other women began to weep. The minister prayed, and
his words of comfort seemed like the air in a discordant medley of
sorrow.

Andrew Brewster's face twitched; he held his hands clutched tightly.
Fanny was weeping, but the old woman at the head of the pew sat
immovable.

When the services were over, and the great concourse of people had
passed around the casket and viewed the face of the dead, with keen,
sidewise observation of the funeral flowers, Mrs. Zelotes pressed
out as fast as she was able without seeming to crowd, and caught up
with Mrs. Pointdexter, who had sat in the rear of the church.

She came alongside as they left the church, and the two old women
moved slowly down the sidewalk, with lingering glances at the
funeral procession drawn up in front of the church.

"Who was that cryin' so in back; did you see?" asked Mrs. Zelotes of
Mrs. Pointdexter, whose eyes were red, and whose face bore an
expression of meek endurance of a renewal of her own experience of
sorrow.

"It was Joe Martin's wife," said she. "I sat just behind her."

"What made her?"

Then both started, for the woman who had sobbed came up behind them,
her brother, an elderly man, trying to hold her back.

"You stop, John," she cried. "I heard what she said, and I'm goin'
to tell her. I'm goin' to tell everybody. Nobody shall stop me.
There the minister spoke and spoke and spoke, and he never said a
word as to any good he'd done. I'm goin' to tell. I wanted to stan'
right up in the church an' tell everybody. He told me not to say a
word about it, an' I never did whilst he was livin', but now I'm
goin' to stan' up for the dead."  The woman pulled herself loose
from her brother, who stood behind her, frightened, and continually
thrusting out a black-gloved hand of remonstrance. People began to
gather. The woman, who was quite old, had a face graven with hard
lines of habitual restraint, which was now, from its utter abandon,
at once pathetic and terrible. She made a motion as if she were
thrusting her own self into the background.

"I'm goin' to speak," she said, in a high voice. "I held my tongue
for the livin', but I'm goin' to speak for the dead. My poor husband
died twenty years ago, got his hand cut in a machine in Lloyd's, and
had lockjaw, and I was left with my daughter that had spinal
disease, and my little boy that died, and my own health none too
good, and--and he--he--came to my house, one night after the
funeral, and--and told me he was goin' to look out for me, and he
has, he has. That blessed man gave me five dollars every week of my
life, and he buried poor Annie when she died, and my little boy, and
he made me promise never to say a word about it. Five dollars every
week of my life--five dollars."

The woman's voice ended in a long-drawn, hysterical wail. The other
women who had been listening began to weep. Mrs. Pointdexter, when
she and Mrs. Zelotes moved on, was sobbing softly, but Mrs.
Zelotes's face, though moved, wore an expression of stern
conjecture.

"I'd like to know how many things like that Norman Lloyd did," said
she. "I never supposed he was that kind of a man."

She had a bewildered feeling, as if she had to reconstruct her own
idea of the dead man as a monument to his memory, and reconstruction
was never an easy task for the old woman.



Chapter XLV


A Short time after Norman Lloyd's death, Ellen, when she had reached
the factory one morning, met a stream of returning workmen. They
swung along, and on their faces were expressions of mingled
solemnity and exultation, as of children let out to play because of
sorrow in the house, which will not brook the jarring inconsequence
of youth.

Mamie Brady, walking beside a young man as red-haired as herself,
called out, with ill-repressed glee, "Turn round, Ellen Brewster;
there ain't no shop to-day."

The young man at her side, nervously meagre, looked at Ellen with a
humorous contortion of this thin face, then he caught Mamie Brady by
the arm, and swung her into a hopity-skip down the sidewalk. Just
behind them came Granville Joy, with another man. Ellen stopped.
"What is it?" she said to him. "Why is the shop closed?"

Granville stopped, and let the stream of workmen pass him and Ellen.
They stood in the midst of it, separating it, as rock will separate
a current. "Mrs. Lloyd is dead," Granville replied, soberly.

"I heard she was very low last night," Ellen returned, in a hushed
voice.

Then she passed Granville, who stood a second gazing wistfully after
her, before he resumed his homeward way. He told himself quite
accurately that she had purposely refrained from turning, in order
to avoid walking with himself. A certain resentment seized him. It
seemed to him that something besides his love had been slighted.
"She needn't have thought I was going to make love to her going home
in broad daylight with all these folks," he reflected, and he threw
up his head impatiently.

The man with whom he had been walking when Ellen appeared lingered
for him to rejoin him. "Wonder how many shops they'd shut up for you
and me," said the man, with a sort of humorous bitterness. He had a
broad face, seemingly fixed in an eternal mask of laughter, and yet
there were hard lines in it, and a forehead of relentless judgment
overhung his wide bow of mouth and his squat and wrinkled nose.

"Guess not many," replied Granville, echoing the man in a way
unusual to him.

"And yet if it wa'n't for us they couldn't keep the shop running at
all," said the man, whose name was Tom Peel.

"That's so," said Granville, with a slight glance over his shoulder.

Ellen had met the Atkins girls, and had turned, and was coming back
with them. It was as he had thought.

"If the new boss cuts down fifteen per cent., as the talk is, what
be you goin' to do?" asked Tom Peel.

"I ain't goin' to stand it," replied Granville, fiercely.

"Ain't goin' to be swept clean by the new broom, hey?" said the man,
with a widened grin.

"No!" thundered Granville--"not by him, nor any one like him. Damn
him!"

Tom Peel's grin widened still further into an intense but silent
laugh.

Meantime Ellen was walking with Abby and Maria.

"I wonder how we're going to get along with young Lloyd," said Abby.

Ellen looked at her keenly. "Why?" she said.

"Oh, I heard the men talking the other night after I'd gone to bed.
Maybe it isn't true that he's thinking of cutting down the wages."

"It can't be," said Ellen.

"I say so, too," said Maria.

"Well, I hope not," said Abby. "You can't tell. Some chimneys always
have the wind whistling in them, and I suppose it's about so with a
boot and shoe shop. It don't follow that there's going to be a
hurricane."

They had come to the entrance of the street where the Atkins sisters
lived, and Ellen parted from them.

She kept on her way quite alone. They had walked slowly, and the
other operatives had either boarded cars or had gone out of sight.

Ellen, when she turned, faced the northwest, out of which a stiff
wind was blowing. She thrust a hand up each jacket-sleeve, folding
her arms, but she let the fierce wind smite her full in the face
without blenching. She had a sort of delight in facing a wind like
that, and her quick young blood kept her from being chilled. The
sidewalk was frozen. There was no snow, and the day before there had
been a thaw. One could see on this walk, hardened into temporary
stability, the footprints of hundreds of the sons and daughters of
labor. Read rightly, that sidewalk in the little manufacturing city
was a hieroglyphic of toil, and perhaps of toil as tending to the
advance of the whole world. Ellen did not think of that, for she was
occupied with more personal considerations, thinking of the dead
woman in the great Lloyd house. She pictured her lying dead on that
same bed whereon she had seen her husband lie dead. All the ghastly
concomitants of death came to her mind. "They will turn off all that
summer heat, and leave her alone in this freezing cold," she
thought. She remembered the sound of that other woman's kind voice
in her ears, and she saw her face when she told her the dreadful
news of her husband's death. She felt a sob rising in her throat,
but forced it back. What Abby had told concerning Mrs. Lloyd's
happiness in the face of death seemed to her heart-breaking, though
she knew not why. That enormous, almost transcendent trust in that
which was absolutely unknown seemed to engulf her.

When she reached home, her mother looked at her in astonishment. She
was sewing on the interminable wrappers. Andrew was paring apples
for pies. "What be you home for--be you sick?" asked Fanny. Andrew
gazed at her in alarm.

"No, I am not sick," replied Ellen, shortly. "Mrs. Lloyd is dead,
and the factory's closed."

"I heard she was very low--Mrs. Jones told me so yesterday," said
Fanny, in a hushed voice. Andrew began paring another apple. He was
quite pale.

"When is the funeral to be, did you hear?" asked Fanny. Ellen was
hanging up her hat and coat in the entry.

"Day after to-morrow."

"Have you heard anything about the hands sending flowers?"

"No."

"I suppose they will," said Fanny, "as long as they sent one to him.
Well, she was a good woman, and it's a mark of respect, and I 'ain't
anything to say against it, but I can't help feeling as if it was a
tax."



Chapter XLVI


It was some time after Mrs. Lloyd's death. Ellen had not seen Robert
except as she had caught from time to time a passing glimpse of him
in the factory. One night she overheard her father and mother
talking about him after she had gone to bed, the sitting-room door
having been left ajar.

"I thought he'd come and call after his aunt died," she heard Fanny
say. "I've always thought he liked Ellen, an' here he is now, with
all that big factory, an' plenty of money."

"Mebbe he will," replied Andrew, with a voice in which were
conflicting emotions, pride and sadness, and a struggle for
self-renunciation.

"It would be a splendid thing for her," said Fanny.

"It would be a splendid thing for _him_," returned Andrew, with a
flash.

"Land, of course it would! You needn't be so smart, Andrew Brewster.
I guess I know what Ellen is, as well as you. Any man might be proud
to get her--I don't care who--whether he's Robert Lloyd, or who, but
that don't alter what I say. It would be a splendid chance for
Ellen. Only think of that great Lloyd house, and it must be full of
beautiful things--table linen, and silver, and what-not. I say it
would be a splendid thing for her, and she'd be above want all her
life--that's something to be considered when we 'ain't got any more
than we have to leave her, and she workin' the way she is."

"Yes, that's so," assented Andrew, with a heavy sigh, as of one who
looks upon life from under the mortification of an incubus of fate.

"We'd ought to think of her best good," said Fanny, judiciously.
"I've been thinkin' every evening lately that he'd be comin'. I've
had the fire in the parlor stove all ready to touch off, an' I've
kept dusted in there. I know he liked her, but mebbe he's like all
the rest of the big-bugs."

"What do you mean?" asked Andrew, with an inward qualm of repulsion.
He always hated unspeakably to hear his wife say "big-bugs" in that
tone. Although he was far from being without humility, he was
republican to the core in his estimate of his own status in his own
free country. In his heart, as long as he kept the law of God and
man, he recognized no "big-bugs."  It was one of the taints of his
wife's ancestry which grated upon him from time to time.

"Oh, well, mebbe he don't want to be seen callin' on a shop-girl."

"Then he'd better keep away, that's all!" cried Andrew, furiously.

"Oh, well, mebbe it ain't so," said Fanny. "He's always seemed to me
like a sensible feller, and I know he's liked Ellen, an' lots of
girls that work in shops marry rich. Look at Annie Graves, married
that factory boss over to Pemberton, an' has everythin'. She'd
worked in his factory years. Mebbe it ain't that."

"Ellen don't act as if she minded anything about his not comin',"
said Andrew, anxiously.

"Land, no; she ain't that kind. She's too much like her grandmother,
but there 'ain't been a night lately that she 'ain't done her hair
over when she got home from the shop and changed her dress."

"She always changes her dress, don't she?" said Andrew.

"Oh yes, she always has done that. I guess she likes to get rid of
the leather smell for a while; but she has put on that pretty, new,
red silk waist, and I've seen her watchin', though she's never said
anything."

"You don't suppose she--" began Andrew, in a voice of intensest
anxiety and indignant tenderness.

"Land, no; Ellen Brewster ain't a girl to fret herself much over any
man unless she's sure he wants her; trust her. Don't you worry about
that. All I mean is, I know she's had a kind of an idea that he
might come."

Ellen, up-stairs, lay listening against her will, and felt herself
burning with mortified pride and shame. She said to herself that she
would never put on that red silk waist again of an evening; she
would not even do her hair over. It was quite true that she had
thought that Robert might come, that he might renew his offer, now
that he was so differently situated, and the obstacles, on his side,
at least, removed. She told herself all the time that the obstacles
on her own were still far from removed. She asked herself how could
she, even if this man loved her and wished to marry her, allow him
to support all her family, although he might be able to do so. She
often told herself that she ought perhaps to have pride enough to
refuse, and yet she watched for him to come. She had reflected at
first that it was, of course, impossible for him to seem to take
advantage of the deaths which had left him with this independence,
that he must stay away for a while from motives of delicacy; but now
the months were going, and she began to wonder if he never would
come. Every night, when she took off the pretty, red silk waist,
donned in vain, and let down her fair lengths of hair, it was with
a sinking of her heart, and a sense of incredulous unhappiness.
Ellen had always had a sort of sanguinity of happiness and of the
petting of Providence as well as of her friends. However, the girl
had, in spite of her childlike trust in the beauty of her life,
plenty of strength to meet its refutal, and a pride equal to her
grandmother's. In case Robert Lloyd should never approach her again,
she would try to keep one face of her soul always veiled to her
inmost consciousness.

The next evening she was careful not to put on her red silk waist,
but changed her shop dress for her old blue woollen, and only
smoothed her hair. She even went to bed early in order to prove to
her mother that she expected nobody.

"You ain't goin' to bed as early as this, Ellen?" her mother said,
as she lighted her lamp.

"Yes, I'm going to bed and read."

"Seems as if somebody might be in," said Fanny, awkwardly.

"I don't know who," Ellen returned, with a gentle haughtiness.

Andrew colored. He was at his usual task of paring apples. Andrew,
in lieu of regular work outside, assisted in these household tasks,
that his wife might have more time to sew. He looked unusually worn
and old that night.

"If anybody does come, Ellen will have to get up, that's all," said
Fanny, when the girl had gone up-stairs. Then she pricked up her
ears, for the electric-car had stopped before the house. Then it
went on, with a sharp clang of the bell and a gathering rush of
motion.

"That car stopped," Fanny said, breathlessly, her work falling from
her fingers. Andrew and she both listened intently, then footsteps
were heard plainly coming around the path at the side of the house.

Fanny's face fell. "It's only some of the men," said she, in a low
voice. Then there came a knock on the side door, and Andrew ushered
in John Sargent, Joe Atkins, and Amos Lee. Nahum Beals did not come
in those days, for he was in prison awaiting trial for the murder of
Norman Lloyd. However, Amos Lee's note was as impressive as his. He
called often with Sargent and Atkins. They could not shake him off.
He lay in wait for them at street corners, and joined them. He never
saw Ellen alone, and did not openly proclaim his calls as meant for
her. She prevented him from doing that in a manner which he could
not withstand, full of hot and reckless daring as he was. When he
entered that night he looked around with keen furtiveness, and was
evidently listening and watching for her, though presently his voice
rose high in discussion with the others. After a while the man who
lived next door dropped in, and his wife with him. She and Fanny
withdrew to the dining-room with their sewing--for the woman also
worked on wrappers--and left the sitting-room to the men.

"It beats all how they like to talk," said the woman, with a
large-minded leniency, "and they never get anywhere," she added.
"They work themselves all up, and never get anywhere; but men are
all like that."

"Yes, they be," assented Fanny.

"Jest hear that Lee feller," said the woman.

Amos Lee's voice was audible over the little house, and could have
been heard in the yard, for it had an enormous carrying quality. It
was the voice of a public ranter. Ellen, up in her chamber, lying in
her bed, with a lamp at her side, reading, closely covered from the
cold--for the room was unheated--heard him with a shiver of disgust
and repulsion, and yet with a fierce sympathy and loyalty. She could
not distinguish every word he said, but she knew well what he was
talking about.

Mrs. Lloyd's death had made a certain hush in the ferment of revolt
at Lloyd's, but now it was again on the move. There was a strong
feeling of dislike to young Lloyd among the workmen. His uncle had
heaped up ill-feeling as well as wealth as a heritage for him. The
older Lloyd had never been popular, and Robert had succeeded to all
his unpopularity, and was fast gathering his own. He was undoubtedly
disposed to follow largely his uncle's business methods. He had
admired them, they had proved successful, and he had honestly seen
nothing culpable in them as business methods go; so it was not
strange that he tried to copy them when he came into charge of
Lloyd's. He was inclined to meet opposition with the same cool
inflexibility of persistency in his own views, and was disposed to
consult his own interests and carry out his own plans with no more
brooking of interference than the skipper of a man-o'-war.
Therefore, when it happened, shortly after his aunt's death, that he
conceived a dissatisfaction with some prominent spirits among union
men, he discharged them without the slightest reference to the fact
that they were old and skilful workmen, and employed non-union men
from another town in their places. He had, indeed, the object of
making in time his factory entirely non-union. He said to himself
that he would be dictated to by no labor organization under the sun,
and that went a step beyond his uncle, inasmuch as the elder Lloyd
had always made his own opinion subservient to good business policy;
but Robert was younger and his blood hotter. It happened, also, a
month later, when he began to see that business had fallen off
considerably (indeed, it was the beginning of a period of extreme
business depression), and that he could no longer continue on the
same scale with the same profits, that instead of assembling the men
in different departments, communicating the situation to them, and
submitting them a reduced price-list for consideration, as was the
custom with the more pacific of the manufacturers in the vicinity,
he posted it up in the different rooms with no ado whatever. That
had been his uncle's method, but never in the face of such brewing
discontent as was prevalent in Lloyd's at that time. It was an
occasion when the older man would have shut down, but Robert had,
along with his arbitrary impetuosity, a real dislike to shut down on
account of the men, for which they would have been the last to give
him credit. "Poor devils," he told himself, standing in the office
window one night, and seeing them pour out and disappear into the
early darkness beyond the radius of the electric-lights, "I can't
turn them adrift without a dollar in midwinter. I'll try to run the
factory a while longer on a reduced scale, if I only meet expenses."

He saw Ellen going out, descending the steps with the Atkins girls,
and as she passed the light, her fair head shone out for a second
like an aureole. A great wave of tenderness came over him. He
reflected that it would make no difference to her, that it was only
a question of time before he lifted her forever out of the ranks of
toil. The impulse was strong upon him to go to see her that night,
but he had set himself to wait three months after his aunt's death,
and the time was not yet up. He had a feeling that he might seem to
be, and possibly would be, taking advantage of his bereavement if he
went sooner, and that Ellen herself might think so.

It was that very night that Ellen had gone to bed early, to prove
not only to her mother but to herself that she did not expect him,
and the men came to see Andrew. Once she heard Amos Lee's voice
raised to a higher pitch than ever, and distinguished every word.

"I tell you he's goin' to cut the wages to-morrow," said he.

There was a low rumble of response, which Ellen could not
understand, but Lee's answer made it evident.

"How do I know?" he thundered. "It is in the air. He don't tell any
more than his uncle did; but you wait and see, that's all."

"I don't believe it," the girl up-stairs said to herself,
indignantly and loyally. "He can't cut the wages of all those poor
men, he with all his uncle's money."

But the next morning the reduced price-list was posted on the walls
of the different rooms in Lloyd's.



Chapter XLVII


There was a driving snow-storm the next day. When Ellen started for
the factory the white twilight of early morning still lingered.
Everywhere were the sons and daughters of toil plodding laboriously
and noiselessly through the snow, each keeping in the track of the
one who went before. There was no wind blowing, and the snow was in
a blue-white level; the trees bent stiffly and quietly beneath a
heavy shag of white, and now and then came a clamor of birds, which
served to accentuate the silence and peace. Ellen could always be
forced by an extreme phase of nature to forgetfulness of her own
stresses. For the time being she forgot everything; her vain
watching for Robert, the talk of trouble in the factory, the
disappointment in her home--all were forgotten in the contemplation,
or rather in the absorbing, of this new-old wonder of snow.

There was a survival of the old Greek spirit in the girl, and had
she come to earth without her background of orthodox traditions, she
might have easily found her own deities in nature. The peace of the
snow enveloped her soul as well as the earth, and she became a
beneficiary of the white storm; the graceful droop of the pine
boughs extended to her thoughts, and the clamor of the birds aroused
in her a winged freedom, so that she felt at once peace and a sort
of ecstasy. She walked in the track of a stolidly plodding man
before her, as different a person as if she were an inhabitant of
another planet. He was digesting the soggy, sweet griddle-cakes
which he had eaten for breakfast, and revolving in his mind two
errands for his wife--one, a pail of lard; the other, three yards of
black dress braid; he was considering the surface scum of existence,
that which pertained solely to his own petty share of it; the girl,
the clear residue of life which was, and had been, and would be.
Each was on the way to humble labor for daily bread, but with a
difference of eternity between them.

But when Ellen reached the end of the cross street where the Atkins
girls lived, she heard a sound which dispelled her rapt state. Her
far vision became a near one; she saw, as it were, the clouded
window-glass between her mortal eyes and the beyond, and the sound
of a cough brought it about. Abby and Maria were coming towards her
through the snow. Maria was coughing violently, and Abby was
scolding her.

"I don't care anything about it, Maria Atkins," Abby was saying,
"you ought to be ashamed of yourself coming out such a morning as
this. There isn't any sense in it. You know you'll catch cold, and
then there'll be two of you to take care of. You don't help a mite
doing so, you needn't think you do."

When Abby caught sight of Ellen she hastened forward, while Maria,
still coughing, trailed behind, lifting her little, heavy,
snow-bound feet wearily.

"Ellen, I wish you'd tell Maria to turn around and go home," she
said. "Just hear her cough, and out in all this snow, and getting
her skirts draggled. She hasn't got common-sense, you tell her so."

Ellen stopped, nodding assentingly. "I think she's right, Maria,"
she said. "You ought not to be out such a morning as this. You had
better go home."

Maria came up smiling, though her lips were quite white, and she
controlled her cough to convulsive motions of her chest.

"I am no worse than usual," said she. "I feel better than I
generally do in the morning. I haven't coughed any more, if I have
as much, and I am holding my dress up high, and you know how warm
the factory is. It will be enough sight warmer than it is at home.
It is cold at home."

"Lloyd don't have to save coal," said Abby, bitterly, "but that
don't alter the fact of your getting your skirts draggled."

Maria pulled up her skirts so high that she exposed her slender
ankles, then seeing that she had done so, she let them fall with a
quick glance at two men behind them.

"The snow will shake right off; it's light, Abby," she said.

"It ain't light. I should think you might listen to Ellen, if you
won't to me."

Ellen pressed close to Maria, and pulled her thin arm through her
own. "Look here," she said, "don't you think--"

Then Maria burst out with a pitiful emphasis. "I've got to go," she
said. "Father had a bad spell last night; he can't get out. He'll
lose his place this time, we are afraid, and there's a note coming
due that father says he's paid, but the man didn't give it up, and
he's got to pay it over again; the lawyer says there is no other
way, and we can't let John Sargent do everything. He's got a sister
out West he's about supporting since her husband died last fall.
I've got to go to work; we've got to have the money, Ellen, and as
for my cough, I have always coughed. It hasn't killed me yet, and I
guess it won't yet for a while."  Maria said the last with a
reckless gayety which was unusual to her.

Abby trudged on ahead with indignant emphasis. "I'd like to know
what good it is going to do to work and earn and pay up money if
everybody is going to be killed by it?" she said, without turning
her head.

Ellen pulled up Maria's coat-collar around her neck and put an extra
fold of her dress-skirt into her hand.

"There, you can hold it up as high as that, it looks all right,"
said she.

"I wish Robert Lloyd had to get up at six o'clock and trudge a mile
in this snow to his work," said Abby, with sudden viciousness.
"He'll be driven down in his Russian sleigh by a man looking like a
drum-major, and cut our poor little wages, and that's all he cares.
Who's earning the money, he or us, I'd like to know? I hate the
rich!"

"If it's true, what you say," said Maria, "it seems to me it's like
hating those you have given things to, and that's worse than hating
your enemies."

"Don't say given, say been forced to hand over," retorted Abby,
fiercely; "and don't preach, Maria Atkins, I hate preaching; and do
have sense enough not to talk when you are out in this awful storm.
You can keep your mouth shut, if you can't do anything else!"

Ellen had turned quite white at Abby's words.

"You don't think that he means to cut the wages?" she said, eagerly.

"I know he does. I had it straight. Wait till you get to the shop."

"I don't believe it."

"You wait. Norman Lloyd was as hard as nails, and the young one is
just like him."  Abby looked relentlessly at Ellen.

"Maybe it isn't so," whispered Maria to Ellen.

"I don't believe it is," responded Ellen, but Abby heard them, and
turned with a vicious jerk.

"Well, you wait!" said she.

The moment Ellen reached the factory she realized that something
unwonted had happened. There were groups of men, talking, oblivious
even of the blinding storm, which was coming in the last few minutes
with renewed fury, falling in heavy sheets like dank shrouds.

Ellen saw one man in a muttering group throw out an arm, whitened
like a branch of a tree, and shake a rasped, red fist at the
splendid Russian sleigh of the Lloyd's, which was just gliding out
of sight with a flurry of bells and a swing of fur tails, the whole
surmounted by the great fur hat of the coachman. Abby turned and
looked fiercely at Ellen.

"What did I tell you?" she cried.

Even then Ellen would not believe. She caught a glimpse of Robert's
fair head at the office window, and a great impulse of love and
loyalty came over her.

"I don't believe it," she said aloud to Maria. Maria held her arm
tightly.

"Maybe it isn't so," she said.

But when they entered the room where they worked, there was a sullen
group before a placard tacked on the wall. Ellen pressed closely,
and saw what it was--a reduced wage-list. Then she went to her
machine.



Chapter XLVIII


Ellen had a judicial turn of mind, as her school-master had once
said of her. She was able to look at matters from more than one
stand-point, but she reasoned with a New Testament clearness of
impartiality. She was capable of uncompromising severity, since she
brought such a clear light of youth and childhood to bear upon even
those things which needed shadows for their true revelation.
Everything was for her either black or white. She had not lived long
enough, perhaps she never would, for a comprehension of half-tones.
The situation to her mind was perfectly simple, and she viewed it
with a candor which was at once terrible and cruel, for it involved
cruelty not only to Robert but to herself. She said to herself, here
was this rich man, this man with accumulation of wealth, not one
dollar of which he had earned himself, either by his hands or his
brains, but which had been heaped up for his uncle by the heart and
back breaking toil of all these poor men and women; and now he was
going to abuse his power of capital, his power to take the bread out
of their mouths entirely, by taking it out in part. He was going to
reduce their wages, he was deliberately going to cause privation,
and even suffering where there were large families. She felt the
most unqualified dissent and indignation, and all the love which she
had for the man only intensified it. Love, with a girl like this,
tended to clearness of vision instead of blindness. She judged him
as she would have judged herself. As she stood working at her
machine, stitching linings to vamps, she kept a sharply listening
ear for what went on about her, but there was very little to hear
after work had fairly commenced and the great place was in full hum.
The demand of labor was so imperative that the laborers themselves
were merged in it; they ceased to be for the time, and, instead of
living, they became parts of the struggle for life. A man hustling
as if the world were at stake to get his part of a shoe finished as
soon as another man, so as not to clog and balk the whole system,
had no time for rebellion. He was in the whirlpool which was
mightier than himself and his revolt. After all, a man is a small
and helpless factor before his own needs. For a time those whirring
machines, which had been evolved in the first place from the brains
of men, and partook in a manner of both the spirit and the grosser
elements of existence, its higher qualities and its sordid
mechanism, like man himself, had the best of it. The swart arms of
the workmen flew at their appointed tasks, they fed those
unsatisfied maws, the factory vibrated with the heavy thud of the
cutting-machines like a pulse, the racks with shoes in different
stages of completion trundled from one department to another,
propelled by men with tense arms and doggedly bent heads.

Ellen worked with the rest, but she was one of the few whose brain
could travel faster than her hands. She thought as she worked, for
her muscles did not retard her mind. She was composed of two
motions, one within the other, and the central motion was so swift
that it seemed still.

Ed Flynn came down the room and bent over her.

"Good-morning," he said. He was too gayly confident to be entirely
respectful, but he had always a timidity of bearing which sat oddly
upon him before Ellen. He looked half boldly, half wistfully at her
fair face, and challenged her with gay eyes, which had in their
depths a covert seriousness.

Ellen stood between Abby Atkins and Sadie Peel at her work. Sadie
Peel turned on the foreman coquettishly and said, "You'd better go
an' talk to Mamie Brady, she's got on a new blue bow on her red
hair. Why don't you give her some better work than tying those old
shoes? Here she's been workin' in this shop two years. You needn't
come shinin' round Ellen an' me! We don't want you."

Flynn colored angrily and shot a vicious glance at the girl.

"It's a pretty hard storm," he said to Ellen, as if the other girl
had not spoken.

"You needn't pretend you don't hear me, Ed Flynn," called out the
girl. Her cheap finery was in full force that morning, not a lock of
her brown hair was unstudied in its arrangement, and she was as
conscious of her pose before her machine as if she had been on the
stage. She knew just how her slender waist and the graceful slope of
her shoulders appeared to the foreman, and her voice, in spite of
its gay rallying and audacity, was wheedling.

Flynn caught hold of her shoulders, round and graceful under her
flannel blouse, and shook her, half in anger, half in weakness.

"You shut up, you witch," said he. Then he turned to Ellen again,
and his whole manner and expression changed.

"I'm sorry about that new list," he said, very low, in her ear.
Ellen never looked at him, and did not make a motion as if she
heard.

"It's a hard storm," the foreman said again, almost appealingly.

"Yes, it is very hard," replied Ellen, slipping another shoe under
the needles.

"What on earth ails you this morning, Ellen Brewster?" Sadie Peel
said to her, when the foreman had gone. "You look queer and act
queer."

"Ellen ain't in the habit of joking with Ed Flynn," said Abby
Atkins, on the other side, with sarcastic emphasis.

"My, don't you feel big!" sneered Sadie Peel. There was always a
jarring inconsequence about this girl, she was so delicately pretty
and refined in appearance, her ribbons were so profuse and cheap,
and her manners were so recklessly coarse.

Ellen said nothing, but worked steadily.

"Mame Brady's just gone on Ed Flynn, and he goes with her just
enough to keep her hangin', and I don't believe he means to marry
her, and I think it's mean," said Sadie Peel.

"She ought to have more sense than to take any stock in him," said
Abby.

"She ain't the only one," said Sadie. "Nellie Stone in the office
has been daft over him since she's been there, and he don't look at
her. I don't see what there is about Ed Flynn, for my part."

"I don't," said Abby, dryly.

"Well, I don't know. He's pretty good-looking," said Sadie Peel,
"and he's got a sort of a way with him."  All the time the girl was
talking her heart was aching. The foreman had paid her some little
attention, which she had taken seriously, but nobody except her
father had known it, or known when he had fallen off. Sometimes
Flynn, meeting the father's gaze as he passed him at his work at the
cutting-bench, used to waver involuntarily, though he asked himself
with perfect good faith what was it all about, for he had done the
girl no harm. He felt more guilty concerning Mamie Brady.

Ellen worked on, with her fingers flying and her forehead tense with
thought. The chatter of the girls ceased. They were too busy to keep
it up. The hum of work continued. Once Ellen knew, although she did
not see him, by some subtle disturbance of the atmosphere, a little
commotion which was perfectly silent, that Robert Lloyd had entered
the room. She knew when he passed her, and she worked more swiftly
than ever. After he had gone out there was a curiously inarticulate
sound like a low growl of purely animal dissent over the room; a
word of blasphemy sounded above the din of the machines. Then all
went on as before until the noon whistle blew.

Even then there was not so much discussion as might have been
expected. Robert, since the storm was so heavy, remained in the
office, and sent a boy out for a light luncheon, and the foremen
were much in evidence. There was always an uncertainty about their
sentiments, occupying as they did a position half-way between
employer and employés; and then, too, they were not affected by the
cut in wages. The sentiments of the unaffected are always a matter
of suspicion to those who suffer themselves. There were grumblings
carried on in a low key behind Flynn's back, but the atmosphere for
the most part was one of depression. Ellen ate her luncheon with
Maria and Abby. Willy Jones came up timidly when they were nearly
finished, feeling his way with a remark about the storm, which was
increasing.

"All the cars are tied up," he said, "and the noon train isn't in."

He leaned, with a curious effort at concealment from them all and
himself, upon the corner of the bench near Abby. Then a young man
passed them, with such an air of tragedy and such a dead-white face
that they all stared after him.

"What in the world ails you, Ben Simmons?" called out Sadie Peel.
But he did not act as if he heard. He crossed vehemently to the
other side of the room, and stood at a window, looking out at the
fierce white slant of the storm.

"What in creation ails him?" cried Sadie Peel.

"I guess I know," Willy Jones volunteered, timidly.

"What?"

"He was going to get married, and this cut in his wages is going to
put a stop to it. I heard him say so this morning."

"Married! Who to?" asked Sadie Peel.

"Floretta Vining."

"My land!" cried Sadie Peel. "So she did take up with him after the
school-teacher went away. I always said she would. I always knew
Edward Harris wouldn't marry her, and I always said Ben Simmons
would get her if he hung on long enough. Floretta was bound to marry
somebody; she wasn't going to wind up an old maid; and if she
couldn't get one, she'd take another. I suppose Ben has got that
sick sister of his to do for since her father died, and thinks he
can't get married with any less pay. Floretta won't make a very
cheap wife. She's bound to have things whether or no, and Ben 'ain't
never earned so much as some. He's awful steady, but he's slow as
cold molasses, and he won't let his sister suffer for no Floretta."

"That's so; I don't believe he would," said Abby. "What any man in
his senses wants a doll like that for enough to look as if he was
dead when he's got to put off marrying her!"

"That's because you ain't a man, Abby Atkins," said Sadie Peel. "All
the men think of is looks, and little fine airs and graces."

"It seems as if they might get along," ventured Willy Jones, "as if
they might do with less for a while."

Then Ellen turned to him unexpectedly. "There's no use in talking
about doing with less when every single cent has to count," said
she, sternly. "Ben Simmons has his taxes and insurance, and a steady
doctor's bill for his sister, and medicines to buy. He can't have
laid up a cent, for he's slow, though he's a good workman. You can't
do with less when you haven't any more than enough."

"That's so," said Abby. Then she turned a tender, conciliating,
indulgent gaze on the young man at her side. "If I were Floretta
Vining," said she, "and if Ellen were, we would go without things,
and never know it. We'd go to work; but Floretta, she's different.
We went to school with Floretta Vining."

"Floretta Vining is dreadful fond of men, but she wouldn't go
without a yard of ribbon for one if he was dying," said Sadie Peel,
conclusively. "It's awful hard on Ben Simmons, and no mistake."

"What?" said Amos Lee, coming up.

"Oh, what's hard on all of us? What's the use of asking?" said the
girl, with a bitter coquetry. "I shouldn't think any man with
horse-sense would ask what's hard on us when he's seen the ornaments
tacked up all over the shop this morning."

"That's so," said Lee, with a glance over his shoulder. Flynn was at
the other end of the room. Granville Joy, Dixon, and one or two
other men were sauntering up. For a second the little group looked
at one another.

"What are you going to do?" asked Ellen, in a low voice, which had
an intonation that caused the others to start.

"I know what I'll do, if I can get enough to back me," cried Lee, in
a loud voice.

"Hush up!" said Sadie Peel. Then her father came along smiling his
imperturbable smile on his wide face, which had a Slavonic cast,
although he was New England born and bred. He looked from one to the
other without saying a word.

"We're deciding whether to strike or not, father," said Sadie, in a
flippant manner. She raised a hand and adjusted a stray lock of hair
as she spoke, then she straightened her ribbon stock. Her father
said nothing, but his face assumed a stolidity of expression.

"I know what I'll do," proclaimed Amos Lee again.

"Hush up!" cried Sadie Peel again, with a giggle. "Here's Ed Flynn."
 And the foreman came sauntering up as the one-o'clock whistle blew,
and the workers sprang to their posts of work.



Chapter XLIX


The snow increased all day. When the six-o'clock whistle blew, and
the workmen streamed out of the factories, it was a wild waste of
winter and storm. The wind had come up, and the light snow arose in
the distance like white dancers of death, spinning furiously over
the level, then settling into long, gravelike ridges. Ellen glanced
into the office as she passed the door, and saw Robert Lloyd talking
busily with Flynn and another foreman by the name of Dennison. As
she passed, Robert turned with a look as if he had been watching for
her, and came forward hastily.

"Miss Brewster!" he called.

Mamie Brady, following close behind, gave Ellen an admonishing
nudge. "Boss wants to see you," she whispered, loudly. Ellen
stopped, and Robert came up.

"Please step in here a moment, Miss Brewster," he said, and colored
a little.

Granville Joy, who was following Ellen, looked keenly at him, some
one sniggered aloud, and a girl said quite audibly, "My land!"

Ellen followed Robert into the office, and he bent over her,
speaking rapidly, in a low voice.

"You must not walk home in this snow," he said, "and the cars are
not running. You must let me take you. My sleigh is at the door."

Ellen turned white. Somehow this protecting care for herself, in the
face of all which she had been considering that day, gave her a
tremendous shock. She felt at once touched and more indignant than
she had ever been in her whole life. She had been half believing
that Robert was neglecting her, that he had forgotten her; all day
she had been judging his action of cutting the wages of the workmen
from her unswerving, childlike, unshadowed point of view, and now
this little evidence of humanity towards her, in the face of what
she considered wholesale inhumanity towards others, made her at once
severe to him and to herself, and she forced back sternly the leap
of pleasure and happiness which this thought of her awakened. "No,
thank you," she said, shortly; "I am much obliged, but I would
rather walk."

"But you cannot, in this storm," pleaded Robert, in a low voice.

"Yes, I can; it is no worse for me than for others. There is Maria
Atkins, she has been coughing all day."

"I will take her too. Ellen, you cannot walk. You must let me take
you."

"I am much obliged, but I would rather not," replied Ellen, in an
icy tone. She looked quite hard in his face.

Robert looked at her perplexed. "But it is drifting," he said.

"It is no worse for me than for the others."  Ellen turned to go.
Her attitude of rebuff was unmistakable.

Robert colored. "Very well; I will not urge you," he said, coldly.
Then he returned to his desk, and Ellen went out. She caught up with
Maria Atkins, who was struggling painfully through the drifts,
leaning on Abby's arm, and slipped a hand under her thin shoulder.

"I expect nothing but she'll get her death out in this storm,"
grumbled Abby. "What did he want, Ellen?"

"Nothing in particular," replied Ellen. Uppermost in her mind at
that moment was the charge of cruelty against Robert for not taking
her hint as to Maria. "He can ask me to ride because he has amused
himself with me, but as for taking this poor girl, whom he does not
love, when it may mean life or death to her, he did not think
seriously of doing that for a moment," she thought.

Maria was coughing, although she strove hard to smother the coughs.
Granville Joy, who was plodding ahead, turned and waited until they
came up.

"You had better let me carry you, Maria," he said, jocularly, but
his honest eyes were full of concern.

"He is enough sight kinder than Robert Lloyd," thought Ellen; "he
has a better heart."  And then the splendid Lloyd sleigh came up
behind them and stopped, tilting to a drift. Robert, in his
fur-lined coat, sprang out and went up to Maria.

"Please let me take you home," he said, kindly. "You have a cold,
and this storm is too severe for you to be out. Please let me take
you home."

Maria looked at him, fairly gasping with astonishment. She tried to
speak, but a cough choked her.

"You had better go if Mr. Lloyd will take you," Abby said,
decisively. "Thank you, Mr. Lloyd; she isn't fit to be out."  She
urged her sister towards the sleigh, and Robert assisted her into
the fur-lined nest.

"I can sit with the driver," said Robert to Abby, "if you will come
with your sister."

"No, thank you," replied Abby. "I am able to walk, but I will be
much obliged if you will take Maria home."

Robert sprang in beside Maria, and the sleigh slid out of sight.

"I never!" said Abby. Ellen said nothing, but plodded on, her eyes
fixed on the snowy track.

"I am glad she had a chance to ride," said Granville Joy, in a
tentative voice. He looked uneasily at Ellen.

"It beats the Dutch," said Abby. She also regarded Ellen with
sympathy and perplexity. When they reached the street where she
lived, up which the sleigh had disappeared, she let Granville go on
ahead, and she spoke to Ellen in a low tone. "Why didn't he ask
you?" she said.

"He did," replied Ellen.

"In the office?"

"Yes."

"And you wouldn't?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I don't care to accept favors from a man who oppresses all my
friends!"

"He was good to take in Maria," said Abby, in a perplexed voice.
"His uncle would never have thought of it."

Ellen made no reply. She stood still in the drifting snow, with her
mouth shut hard.

"You feel as if this cutting wages was a pretty hard thing?" said
Abby.

"Yes, I do."

"Well, so do I. I wonder what they will do about it. I don't know
how the men feel. Somehow, folks can't seem to think or plan much in
a storm like this. There's the sleigh coming back."

"Good-night," Ellen said, hurriedly, and trudged on as fast as she
was able in order not to have the Lloyd sleigh pass her; it had to
turn after reaching the end of the street. Ellen caught up with
Granville Joy. Robert, glancing over the waving fringe of fur tails,
saw disappearing in the pale gleam of the electric-light the two dim
figures veiled by the drifting snow. He thought to himself, with a
sharp pain, that perhaps, after all, Granville Joy was the reason
for her rebuff. It never occurred to him that his action in cutting
the wages could have anything to do with it.

Ellen went along with Granville, who was anxious to offer her his
arm, but did not quite dare. He kept thrusting out an elbow in her
direction, and an inarticulate invitation died in his throat.
Finally, when they reached an unusually high drift of snow, he
plucked up sufficient courage.

"Take my arm, won't you?" he said, with a pitiful attempt at ease,
then stared as if he had been shot, at Ellen's reply.

"No, thank you," she said. "I think it is easier to walk alone in
snow like this."

"Maybe it is," assented Granville, dejectedly. He walked on,
scuffling as hard as he could to make a path for Ellen with the
patient faithfulness of a dog.

"What are you going to do about the cut in wages?" Ellen asked,
presently.

Granville started. The sudden transition from personalities to
generalities confused him.

"What?" he said.

Ellen repeated her question.

"I don't know," said Granville. "I don't think the boys have made up
their minds. I don't know what they will do. They have been weeding
out union men. I suppose the union would have something to say about
it otherwise. I don't know what we will do."

"I shouldn't think there would be very much doubt as to what to do,"
said Ellen.

Granville stared at her over his shoulder in a perplexed, admiring
fashion. "You mean--?" he asked.

"I shouldn't think there would be any doubt."

"Well, I don't know. It is a pretty serious thing to get out of work
in midwinter for a good many of us, and as long as the union isn't
in control, other men can come in. I don't know."

"I know," said Ellen.

"You mean--?"

"I mean that I do not think it right, that it is unjust, and I
believe in resisting injustice."

"Men have resisted injustice ever since the Creation," said
Granville, in a bitter voice.

"Well, resistance can continue as long as life lasts," returned
Ellen. Just then came a fiercer blast than ever, laden with a
stinging volley of snow, and seemed to sweep the words from the
girl's mouth. She bent before it involuntarily, and the conviction
forced itself upon her that, after all, resistance to injustice
might be as futile as resistance to storm, that injustice might be
one of the primal forces of the world, and one of the conditions of
its endurance, and yet with the conviction came the renewed
resolution to resist.

"What can poor men do against capital unless they are backed up by
some labor organization?" asked Granville. "And I don't believe
there are a dozen in the factory who belong to the union. There has
been an understanding, without his ever saying so that I know of,
that the old boss didn't approve of it. So lots of us kept out of
it, we wanted work so bad. What can we do against such odds?"

"When right is on your side, you have all the odds," said Ellen,
looking back over her snow-powdered shoulder.

"Then you would strike?"

"I wouldn't submit."

"Well, I don't know how the boys feel," said Granville. "I suppose
we'll have to talk it over."

"I shouldn't need to talk it over," said Ellen. "You've gone past
your house, Granville."

"I ain't going to let you go home alone in such a storm as this,"
said Granville, in a tender voice, which he tried to make facetious.
"I wouldn't let any girl go home alone in such a storm."

Ellen stopped short. "I don't want you to go home with me, thank
you, Granville," she said. "Your mother will have supper ready, and
I can go just as well alone."

"Ellen, I won't let you go alone," said the young man, as a wilder
gust came. "Suppose you should fall down?"

"Fall down!" repeated Ellen, with a laugh, but her regard of the
young man, in spite of her rebuff, was tender. He touched her with
his unfailing devotion; the heavy trudging by her side of this poor
man meant, she told herself, much more than the invitation of the
rich one to ride behind his bays in his luxurious sleigh. This meant
the very bone and sinew of love. She held out her little, mittened
hand to him.

"Good-night, Granville," she said.

Granville caught it eagerly. "Oh, Ellen," he murmured.

But she withdrew her hand quickly. "We have always been good
friends, and we always will be," said she, and her tone was
unmistakable. The young man shrank back.

"Yes, we always will, Ellen," he said, in a faithful voice, with a
note of pain in it.

"Good-night," said Ellen again.

"Good-night," responded Granville, and turned his plodding back on
the girl and retraced his laborious steps towards his own home,
which he had just passed. There come times for all souls when the
broad light of the path of humanity seems to pale to insignificance
before the intensity of the one little search-light of personality.
Granville Joy felt as if the eternal problem of the rich and poor,
of labor and capital, of justice and equality, was as nothing before
the desire of his heart for that one girl who was disappearing from
his sight behind the veil of virgin snow.



Chapter L


When Ellen came in sight of her house that night she saw her
father's bent figure moving down the path with sidewise motions of a
broom. He had been out at short intervals all the afternoon, that
she should not have to wade through drifts to the door. The
electric-light shone full on this narrow, cleared track and the
toiling figure.

"Hullo, father!" Ellen called out. Andrew turned, and his face lit
with love and welcome and solicitude.

"Be you dreadful snowy?" he asked.

"Oh no, father, not very."

"It's an awful storm."

"Pretty bad, but I got along all right. The snow-plough has been
out."

"Wait a minute till I get this swept," said Andrew, sweeping
violently before her.

"You needn't have bothered, father," said Ellen.

"I 'ain't anything else to do," replied Andrew, in a sad voice.

"There's mother watching," said Ellen.

"Yes, she's been diggin' at them wrappers all day."

"I suppose she has," Ellen returned, in a bitter tone. Her father
stared at her. Ellen never spoke like that. For the first time she
echoed him and her mother. Something like terror came over him at
the sound of that familiar note of his own life from this younger
one. He seemed to realize dimly that a taint of his nature had
descended upon his child.

When Ellen entered the house, the warm air was full of savory odors
of toast and tea and cooking meat and vegetables.

"You'd better go right up-stairs and put on a dry dress, Ellen,"
said Fanny. "I put your blue one out on your bed, and your shoes are
warming by the sitting-room stove. I've been worrying as to how you
were going to get home all day."  Then she stopped short as she
caught sight of Ellen's face. "What on earth is the matter, Ellen
Brewster?" she said.

"Nothing," said Ellen. "Why?"

"You look queer. Has anything happened?"

"Yes, something has happened."

"What?"

Andrew turned pale. He stood in the entry with his snowy broom in
hand, staring from one to the other.

"Nothing that you need worry about," said Ellen. "I'll tell you when
I get my dress changed."

Ellen pulled off her rubbers, and went up-stairs to her chamber.
Fanny and Andrew stood looking at each other.

"You don't suppose--" whispered Andrew.

"Suppose what?" responded Fanny, sharply.

They continued to look at each other. Fanny answered Andrew as if he
had spoken, with that jealous pride for her girl's self-respect
which possessed her even before the girl's father.

"Land, it ain't that," said she. "You wouldn't catch Ellen lookin'
as if anything had come across her for such a thing as that."

"No, I suppose she wouldn't," said Andrew; and he actually blushed
before his wife's eyes.

That afternoon Mrs. Wetherhed had been in, and told Fanny that she
had heard that Robert Lloyd was to be married to Maud Hemingway; and
both Andrew and Fanny had thought of that as the cause of Ellen's
changed face.

"You'd better take that broom out into the shed, and get the snow
off yourself, and come in and shut the door," Fanny said, shortly.
"You're colding the house all off, and Amabel has got a cold, and
she's sitting right in the draught."

"All right," replied Andrew, meekly, though Fanny had herself been
holding the sitting-room door open. In those days Andrew felt below
his moral stature as head of the house. Actually, looking at Fanny,
who was earning her small share towards the daily bread, she seemed
to him much taller than he, though she was a head shorter. He
thought so little of himself, he seemed to see himself as through
the wrong end of a telescope. Fanny went into the sitting-room and
shut the door with a bang. Amabel did not look up from her book. She
was reading a library book much beyond her years, and sniffing
pathetically with her cold. Amabel had begun to discover an
omnivorous taste for books, which stuck at nothing. She understood
not more than half of what she read, but seemed to relish it like
indigestible food.

When Ellen came down-stairs, and sat beside the coal stove to change
her shoes, she looked at the book which Amabel was reading. "You
ought not to read that book, dear," she said. "Let Ellen get you a
better one for a little girl to-morrow."

But Amabel, without paying the slightest heed to Ellen's words,
looked up at her with amazement, as Andrew and Fanny had done.
"What's the matter, Ellen?" she asked, in her little, hoarse voice.

Fanny and Andrew, who had just entered, stood waiting. Ellen bent
over her shoe, drawing in the strings firmly and evenly.

"Mr. Lloyd has reduced the wage-list," she said.

"How much?" asked Andrew, in a hoarse voice.

"Ten per cent."

There was a dead silence. Andrew and Fanny looked at Ellen like
people who are uncertain of their next move; Amabel stared from one
to the other with her weak, watery eyes. Ellen continued to lace her
shoes.

"What do you think about it, Ellen?" asked Andrew, almost timidly.

"I know of only one thing to think," replied Ellen, in a dogged
voice.

As she spoke she pulled the tag off a shoe-string because it would
not go through the eyelet.

"What is that?" asked Fanny, in a hard voice.

"I think it is cruelty and tyranny," said Ellen, pulling the rough
end of the string through the eyelet.

"I suppose the times are pretty hard," ventured Andrew; but Ellen
cut him short.

"Robert Lloyd has half a million, which has been accumulated by the
labor of poor men in prosperous times," said she, with her childlike
severity and pitilessness. "There is no question about the matter."

Then Fanny flung all self-interest to the wind and was at her
daughter's side like a whirlwind. The fact that the two were of one
blood was never so strongly evident. Red spots glowed in the elder
woman's cheeks and her black eyes blazed.

"Ellen's right," said she; "she's right. For a man worth half a
million to cut down the wages of poor, hard-working folks in
midwinter is cruelty. I don't care who does it."

"Yes, it is," said Ellen.

Fanny opened her mouth to tell Ellen of the rumor concerning
Robert's engagement to Maud Hemingway, then she refrained, for some
reason which she could not analyze. In her heart she did not believe
the report to be true, and considered the telling of it a slight to
Ellen, but it influenced her in her indignation against Robert for
the wage-cutting.

"What are they going to do?" asked Andrew.

"I don't know," replied Ellen.

"Did he--young Lloyd--talk to the men?"

"No; notices were tacked up all over the shop."

"That was the way his uncle would have done," said Andrew, in a
curious voice of bitterness and respect.

"So you don't know what they are going to do?" said Fanny.

"No."

"Well, I know what I would do," said Fanny. "I never would give in,
if I starved--never!"



Chapter LI


When Ellen started for the factory the next morning the storm had
not ceased; the roads were very heavy, although the snow-plough had
been out at intervals all night, and there was a struggling line of
shovelling men along the car-track, but the cars were still unable
to penetrate the drifts. When Ellen passed her grandmother's house
the old woman tapped sharply on the window and motioned her back
frantically with one bony hand. The window was frozen to the sill
with the snow, and she could not raise it. Ellen shook her head,
smiling. Her grandmother continued to wave her back, the lines of
forbidding anxiety in her old face as strongly marked as an etching
in the window frame. This love, which had at once coerced and
fondled the girl since her birth, was very precious to her. This
protection, which she was forced to repel, smote her like a pain.

"Poor old grandmother!" she thought; "there she will worry about me
all day because I have gone out in the storm."  She turned back and
waved her hand and nodded laughingly; but the old woman continued
that anxiously imperative backward motion until Ellen was out of
sight.

Ellen walked in the car-track, as did everybody else, that being
better cleared than the rest of the road. She was astonished that
she heard nothing of the cut in wages from the men. There seemed to
be no excitement at all. They merely trudged heavily along, their
whitening bodies bent before the storm. There was an unusual
doggedness about this march to the factory this morning, but that
was all. Ellen returned the muttered greeting of several, and walked
along in silence with the rest. Even when Abby Atkins joined her
there was little said. Ellen asked for Maria, and Abby replied that
she had taken more cold yesterday, and could not speak aloud; then
relapsed into silence, making her way through the snow with a sort
of taciturn endurance. Ellen looked at the struggling procession of
which she was a part, all slanting with the slant of the storm, and
a fancy seized her that rebellion and resistance were hopeless, that
those parallel lines of yielding to the onslaughts of fate were as
inevitable as life itself, one of its conditions. Men could not help
walking that way when the bitter storm-wind was blowing; they could
not help living that way when fate was in array against their
progress. Then, thinking so, a mightier spirit of revolt than she
had ever known awoke within her. She, as she walked, straightened
herself. She leaned not one whit before the drive of the storm. She
advanced with no yielding in her, her brave face looking ahead
through the white blur of snow with a confidence which was almost
exultation.

"What do you think the men will do?" she said to Abby when they came
in sight of Lloyd's, shaggy with fringes and wreaths and overhanging
shelvings of snow, roaring with machinery, with the steady stream of
labor pouring in the door.

"Do?" repeated Abby, almost listlessly. "Do about what?"

"About the cut in wages?"

Abby turned on her with sudden fire. "Oh, my God, what can they do,
Ellen Brewster?" she demanded. "Haven't they got to live? Hasn't
Lloyd got it all his own way? How are men to live in weather like
this without work? Bread without butter is better than none at all,
and life at any cost is better than death for them you love. What
can they do?"

"It seems to me there is only one thing to do," replied Ellen.

Abby stared at her wonderingly. "You don't mean--" she said, as they
climbed up the stairs.

"I mean I would do anything, at whatever cost to myself, to defeat
injustice," said Ellen, in a loud, clear voice.

Several men turned and looked back at her and laughed bitterly.

"It's easy talking," said one to another.

"That's so," returned the other.

The people all settled to their work as usual. One of the foremen
(Dennison), who was anxious to curry favor with his employer,
reported to him in an undertone in the office that everything was
quiet. Robert nodded easily. He had not anticipated anything else.
In the course of the morning he looked into the room where Ellen was
employed, and saw with relief and concern her fair head before her
machine. It seemed to him that he could not bear it one instant
longer to have her working in this fashion, that he must lift her
out of it. He still tingled with his rebuff of the night before, but
he had never loved her so well, for the idea that the cut in wages
affected her relation to him never occurred to him. As he walked
through the room none of the workers seemed to notice him, but
worked with renewed energy. He might have been invisible for all the
attention he seemed to excite. He looked with covert tenderness at
the back of Ellen's head, and passed on. He reflected that he had
adopted the measure of wage-cutting with no difficulty whatever.

"All it needs is a little firmness," he thought, with a boyish
complacency in his own methods. "Now I can keep on with the factory,
and no turning the poor people adrift in midwinter."

At noon Robert put on his fur-lined coat and left the factory,
springing into the sleigh, which had drawn up before the door with a
flurry of bells. He had an errand in the next town that afternoon,
and was not going to return. When the sleigh had slid swiftly out of
sight through the storm, which was lightening a little, the people
in the office turned to one another with a curious expression of
liberty, but even then little was said. Nellie Stone was at the desk
eating her luncheon; Ed Flynn and Dennison and one of the lasters,
who had looked in and then stepped in when he saw Lloyd was gone,
were there. The laster, who was young and coarsely handsome, had an
admiration for the pretty girl at the desk. Presently she addressed
him, with her mouth full of apple-pie.

"Say, George, what are you fellows going to do?" she asked.

Dennison glanced keenly from one to the other; Flynn shrugged his
shoulders and looked out of the window.

"Looks as if it was clearing up," he remarked.

"What are you going to do?" asked Nellie Stone again, with a
coquettish flirt of her blond fluff of hair.

"Grin and bear it, I s'pose," replied the young laster, with an
adoring look at her.

"My land! grin and bear a cut of ten per cent.? Well, I don't think
you've got much spunk, I must say. Why don't you strike?"

"Who's going to feed us?" replied the laster, in a tender voice.

"Feed you? Oh, you don't want much to eat. Join the union. It's
ridiculous so few of the men in Lloyd's belong to it, anyway; and
then the union will feed you, won't it?"

"The union did not do what it promised in the Scarboro strike,"
interposed Dennison, curtly.

"Oh, we all know where you are, Frank Dennison," said the girl, with
a soft roll of her blue eyes. "Besides, it's easy to talk when you
aren't hit. Your wages aren't cut. But here is George May here, he's
in a different box."

"He's got nobody dependent on him, anyway," said Flynn.

"If I wasn't going to get married I'd strike," cried the young man,
with a fervent glance at the girl. She colored, half pleased, half
angry, and the other men chuckled. She took another bite of pie to
conceal her confusion. She preferred Flynn to the laster, and while
she was not averse to proving to the former the triumph of her
charms over another man, did not like too much concessions.

"You'd better go and eat your dinner, George May," she said, in her
sweet, shrill voice. "First thing you know the whistle will blow.
Here's yours, Ed."  With that she pulled out a leather bag from
under the desk, where she had volunteered to place it for warmth and
safety against the coil of steam-pipes.

"I don't believe your coffee is very cold, Ed," said she.

The laster glared from one to the other jealously. Dennison went
towards a shelf where he had stored away his luncheon, when he
stopped suddenly and listened, as did the others. There came a great
uproar of applause from the next room beyond. Then it subsided, and
a girl's clear, loud voice was heard.

"What is going on?" cried Nellie Stone. She jumped up and ran to the
door, still eating her pie, and the men followed her.

At the end of one of the work-rooms, backed against a snowy window,
clung about with shreds of the driving storm, stood Ellen Brewster,
with some other girls around her, and a few men on the outskirts,
and a steady, curious movement of all the other workmen towards her,
as of iron filings towards a magnet, and she was talking.

Her voice was quite audible all over the great room. It was
low-pitched, but had a wonderful carrying quality, and there was
something marvellous in its absolute confidence.

"If you men will do nothing, and say nothing, it is time for a girl
to say and act," she proclaimed. "I did not dream for a minute that
you would yield to this cut in wages. Why should you have your wages
cut?"

"The times are pretty hard," said a doubtful voice among her
auditors.

"What if the times are hard? What is that to you? Have you made them
hard? It is the great capitalists who have made them hard by
shifting the wealth too much to one side. They are the ones who
should suffer, not you. What have you done, except come here morning
after morning in cold or heat, rain or shine, and work with all your
strength? They who have precipitated the hard times are the ones who
should bear the brunt of them. Your work is the same now as it was
then, the strain on your flesh and blood and muscles is the same,
your pay should be the same."

"That's so," said Abby Atkins, in a reluctant, surly fashion.

"That's so," said another girl, and another. Then there was a
fusilade of hand-claps started by the girls, and somewhat feebly
echoed by the men.

One or two men looked rather uneasily back towards Dennison and
Flynn and two more foremen who had come forward.

"It ain't as though we had something to fall back on," said a man's
grumbling voice. "It's easy to talk when you 'ain't got a wife and
five children dependent on you."

"That's so," said another man, doggedly.

"That has nothing to do with it," said Ellen, firmly. "We can all
club together, and keep the wolf from the door for those who are
hardest pressed for a while; and as for me, if I were a man--"

She paused a minute. When she spoke again her voice was full of
childlike enthusiasm; it seemed to ring like a song.

"If I were a man," said she, "I would go out in the street and
dig--I would beg, I would steal--before I would yield--I, a free man
in a free country--to tyranny like this!"

There was a great round of applause at that. Dennison scowled and
said something in a low voice to another foreman at his side. Flynn
laughed, with a perplexed, admiring look at Ellen.

"The question is," said Tom Peel, slouching on the outskirts of the
throng, and speaking in an imperturbable, compelling, drawling
voice, "whether the free men in the free country are going to kick
themselves free, or into tighter places, by kicking."

"If you have got to stop to count the cost of bravery and standing
up for your rights, there would be no bravery in the world,"
returned Ellen, with disdain.

"Oh, I am ready to kick," said Peel, with his mask-like smile.

"So am I," said Granville Joy, in a loud voice. Amos Lee came
rushing through the crowd to Ellen's side. He had been eating his
dinner in another room, and had just heard what was going on. He
opened his mouth with a motion as of letting loose a flood of
ranting, but somebody interposed. John Sargent, bulky and
irresistible in his steady resolution, put him aside and stood
before him.

"Look here," he said to them all. "There may be truth in what Miss
Brewster says, but we must not act hastily; there is too much at
stake. Let us appoint a committee and go to see Mr. Lloyd this
evening, and remonstrate on the cutting of the wages."  He turned to
Ellen in a kindly, half-paternal fashion. "Don't you see it would be
better?" he said.

She looked at him doubtfully, her cheeks glowing, her eyes like
stars. She was freedom and youth incarnate, and rebellious against
all which she conceived as wrong and tyrannical. She could hardly
admit, in her fire of enthusiasm, of pure indignation, of any
compromise or arbitration. All the griefs of her short life, she had
told herself, were directly traceable to the wrongs of the system of
labor and capital, and were awakening within her as freshly as if
they had just happened.

She remembered her father, exiled in his prime from his place in the
working world by this system of arbitrary employment; she remembered
her aunt in the asylum; poor little Amabel; her own mother toiling
beyond her strength on underpaid work; Maria coughing her life away.
She remembered her own life twisted into another track from the one
which she should have followed, and there was for the time very
little reason or justice in her. That injustice which will arise to
meet its kind in equal combat had arisen in her heart. Still, she
yielded. "Perhaps you are right," she said to Sargent. She had
always liked John Sargent, and she respected him.

"I am sure it is the best course," he said to her, still in that
low, confidential voice.

It ended in a committee of four--John Sargent, Amos Lee, Tom Peel,
and one of the older lasters, a very respectable man, a deacon in
the Baptist Church--being appointed to wait on Robert Lloyd that
evening.

When the one-o'clock whistle blew, Ellen went back to her machine.
She was very pale, but she was conscious of a curious steadiness of
all her nerves. Abby leaned towards her, and spoke low in the roar
of wheels.

"I'll back you up, if I die for it," she said.

But Sadie Peel, on the other side, spoke quite openly, with a laugh
and shrug of her shoulders. "Land," she said, "father'll be with
you. He's bound to strike. He struck when he was in McGuire's. Catch
father givin' up anything. But as for me, I wish you'd all slow up
an' stick to work, if you do get a little less. If we quit work I
can't have a nearseal cape, and I've set my heart on a nearseal cape
this winter."



Chapter LII


Ellen resolved that she would say as little as possible about the
trouble at home that night. She did not wish her parents to worry
over it until it was settled in one way or another.

When her mother asked what they had done about the wage-cutting, she
replied that a committee had been appointed to wait on Mr. Lloyd
that evening, and talk it over with him; then she said nothing more.

"He won't give in if he's like his uncle," said Fanny.

Ellen went on eating her supper in silence. Her father glanced at
her with sharp solicitude.

"Maybe he will," said he.

"No, he won't," returned Fanny.

Ellen was very pale and her eyes were bright. After supper she went
to the window and pressed her face against the glass, shielding her
eyes from the in-door light, and saw that the storm had quite
ceased. The stars were shining and the white boughs of the trees
lashing about in the northwest wind. She went into the entry, where
she had hung her hat and coat, and began putting them on.

"Where are you going, Ellen?" asked her mother.

"Just down to Abby's a minute."

"You don't mean to say your are goin' out again in this snow, Ellen
Brewster? I should think you were crazy."  When Fanny said crazy,
she suddenly started and shuddered as if she had struck herself. She
thought of Eva. Always the possibility of a like doom was in her own
mind.

"It has stopped snowing, mother," Ellen said.

"Stopped snowing! What if it has? The roads ain't cleared. You can't
get down to Abby Atkins's without gettin' wet up to your knees. I
should think if you got into the house after such a storm you'd have
sense enough to stay in. I've worried just about enough."

Ellen took off her coat and hat and hung them up again. "Well, I
won't go if you feel so, mother," she said, patiently.

"It seems as if you might get along without seein' Abby Atkins till
to-morrow mornin', when you'd seen her only an hour ago," Fanny went
on, in the high, nagging tone which she often adopted with those
whom she loved the dearest.

"Yes, I can," said Ellen. It seemed to her that she must see
somebody with whom she could talk about the trouble in the factory,
but she yielded. There was always with the girl a perfect surface
docility, as that she seemed to have no resistance, but a little way
down was a rock-bed of firmness. She lighted her lamp, and took her
library book and went up-stairs to bed to read. But she could not
read, and she could not sleep when she had put aside her book and
extinguished her lamp. She could think of nothing except Robert, and
what he would say to the committee. She lay awake all night thinking
of it. Ellen was a girl who was capable of the most devoted love,
and the most intense dissent and indignation towards the same
person. She could love in spite of faults, and she could see faults
in spite of love. She thought of Robert Lloyd as of the one human
soul whom she loved best out of the whole world, whom she put before
everybody else, even her own self, and she also thought of him with
a wrath which was pitiless and uncompromising, and which seemed to
tear her own heart to pieces, for one cannot be wroth with love
without a set-back of torture. "If he does not give in and raise the
wages, I shall hate him," thought Ellen; and her heart stung her as
if at the touch of a hot iron, and then she could have struck
herself for the supposition that he would not give in. "He must,"
she told herself, with a great fervor of love. "He must."

But when she went down to breakfast the next morning her mother
stared at her sharply.

"Ellen Brewster, what is the matter with you?" she cried.

"Nothing. Why?"

"Nothing! You look like a ghost."

"I feel perfectly well," said Ellen. She made an effort to eat as
much breakfast as usual in order that her mother should not suspect
that she was troubled. When at last she set out for the factory, in
the early morning dusk, she was chilled and trembling with
excitement.

The storm had quite ceased, and there was a pale rose-and-violet
dawn-light in the east, and presently came effects like
golden-feathered shafts shooting over the sky. The road was alive
with shovelling men, construction-cars of the railroad company were
laboring back and forth to clear the tracks, householders were
making their way from their doors to their gates, clearing their
paths, lifting up the snow in great, glittering, blue-white blocks
on their clumsy shovels. Everywhere were the factory employés
hastening to their labor; the snow was dropping from the overladen
tree branches in great blobs; there was an incessant, shrill chatter
of people, and occasional shouts. It was the rally of mankind after
a defeat by a primitive force of nature. It was the eternal
reassertion of human life and a higher organization over the
elemental. Men who had walked doggedly the morning before now moved
with a spring of alacrity, although the road was very heavy. There
was a new light in their eyes; their cheeks glowed. Ellen had no
doubt whatever that if Robert Lloyd had not yielded the attitude of
the employés of Lloyd's would be one of resistance. She herself
seemed to breathe in resistance to tyranny, and strength for the
right in every breath of the clear, crisp morning air. She felt as
if she could trample on herself and her own weakness, for the sake
of justice and the inalienable good of her kind, with as little
hesitation as she trampled on the creaking snow. Yet she trembled
with that deadly chill before a sense of impending fate. When she
returned the salutations of her friends on the road she felt that
her lips were stiff.

"You look dreadful queer, Ellen," Abby Atkins said, anxiously, when
she joined her. Maria also was out that morning.

"Have you heard what they are going to do?" Ellen asked, in a sort
of breathless fashion.

"You mean about the wage-cutting? Don't look so, Ellen."

Maria pressed close to Ellen, and slid her thin arm through hers.

"Yes," said Ellen. "What did John Sargent say when he got home last
night?"

Abby hesitated a second, looking doubtfully at Ellen. "I don't see
that there is any need for you to take all this so much to heart,"
she said.

"What did he say?"

"Well," Abby replied, reluctantly, "I believe Mr. Lloyd wouldn't
give in. Ellen Brewster, for Heaven's sake, don't look so!"

Ellen walked on, her head high, her face as white as death. Maria
clung closely to her, her own lips quivering.

"What are the men going to do, do you think?" asked Ellen,
presently, in a low voice.

"I don't know," replied Abby. "John Sargent seems to think they'll
give in. He says he doesn't know what else they can do. The times
are hard. I believe Amos Lee and Tom Peel are for striking, but he
says he doesn't believe the men will support them. The amount of it
all is, a man with money has got it all his own way. It's like
fighting with bare hands to oppose him, and getting yourself cut,
and not hurting him at all. He's got all the weapons. We simply
can't go without work all winter. It is better to do with less than
with nothing at all. What can a man like Willy Jones do if he hasn't
any work? He and his mother would actually suffer. What could we
do?"

"I don't think we ought to think so much about that," said Ellen.

"What do you think we ought to think about, for goodness' sake?"

"Whether we are doing right or not, whether we are furthering the
cause of justice and humanity, or hindering it. Whether it is for
good in the long run or not. There have always been martyrs; I don't
see why it is any harder for us to be martyrs than for those we read
about."

Sadie Peel came pressing up behind eagerly, her cheeks glowing,
holding up her dress, and displaying a cheap red petticoat. "Ellen
Brewster," she exclaimed, "if you dare say anything more to-day I'm
goin' to talk. Father is tearing, though he goes around looking as
if he wouldn't jump at a cannon-ball. Do, for Heaven's sake, keep
still; and if you can't get what you want, take what you can get. I
ain't goin' to be cheated out of my nearseal cape, nohow."

"Sadie Peel, you make me tired," cried Abby Atkins. "I don't say
that I'm striking, but I'd strike for all a nearseal cape. I'm
ashamed of you."

"I don't care if you be," said the girl, tossing her head. "A
nearseal cape means as much to me as some other things to you. I
want Ellen Brewster to hold her tongue."

"Ellen Brewster will hold her tongue or not, just as she has a mind
to," responded Abby, with a snap. She did not like Sadie Peel.

"Oh, stick up for her if you want to, and get us all into trouble."

"I shall stick up for her, you can be mighty sure of that," declared
Abby.

Ellen walked on as if she heard nothing of it at all, with little
Maria clinging closely to her. Robert Lloyd got out of his sleigh
and went up-stairs just before they reached the factory, and she
heard a very low, subdued mutter of execration.

"They don't mean to strike," she told herself. "They mean to
submit."

All went to their tasks as usual. In a minute after the whistle blew
the great pile was in the full hum of labor. Ellen stood for a few
moments at her machine, then she left it deliberately, and made her
way down the long room to where John Sargent stood at his bench
cutting shoes, with a swift faithfulness born of long practice. She
pressed close to him, while the men around stared.

"What is going to be done?" she asked, in a low voice.

Sargent turned and looked at her in a troubled fashion, and spoke in
a pacific, soothing tone, as her father might have done. He was much
older than Ellen.

"Now look here, child," he said, "I don't dare take the
responsibility of urging all these men into starvation this kind of
weather. The times are hard. Lloyd has some reason--"

Ellen walked away from him swiftly and went to the row of
lasting-machines where Amos Lee and Tom Peel stood. She walked up to
them and spoke in a loud, clear voice.

"You are not going to give in?" said she. "You don't mean to give
in?"

Lee turned and gave her one stare, and left his machine.

"Not another stitch of work will I do under this new wage-list, so
help me, God!" he proclaimed.

Tom Peel stood for a second like an automaton, staring at them both.
Then he turned back to his post.

"I'm with ye," he said.

The lasters, for some occult reason, were always the most turbulent
element in Lloyd's. In less than three minutes the enthusiasm of
revolt had spread, and every laster had left his machine. In a
half-hour more there was an exodus of workmen from Lloyd's. There
were very few left in the factory. Among them were John Sargent, the
laster who was a deacon and had formed one of the consulting
committee, Sadie Peel, who wanted her nearseal cape, and Mamie
Brady, who would do nothing which she thought would displease the
foreman, Flynn.

"If father's mind to be such a fool, it's no reason why I should,"
said Sadie Peel, stitching determinedly away. Mamie Brady looked at
Flynn, when he came up to her, with a gentle, wheedling smile. There
was no one near, and she fancied that he might steal a kiss. But
instead he looked at her, frowning.

"No use you tying away any longer, Mamie," he said. "The strike's
on."



Chapter LIII


That was one of the strangest days which Ellen had ever passed. The
enforced idleness gave her an indefinite sense of guilt. She tried
to assist her mother about the household tasks, then she tried to
sew on the wrappers, but she was awkward about it, from long disuse.

"Do take your book and sit down and read and rest a little, now
you've got a chance," said Fanny, with sharp solicitude.

She said never one word concerning it to Ellen, but all the time she
thought how Ellen had probably lost her lover. It was really
doubtful which suffered the more that day, the mother or the
daughter. Fanny, entirely faithful to her own husband, had yet that
strange vicarious affection for her daughter's lover, and a
realization of her state of mind, of which a mother alone is
capable. It is like a cord of birth which is never severed. Not one
shadow of sad reflection passed over the bright enthusiastic face of
the girl but was passed on, as if driven by some wind of spirit,
over the face of the older woman. She reflected Ellen entirely.

As for Andrew, his anxiety was as tender, and less subtle. He did
not understand so clearly, but he suffered more. He was clumsy with
this mystery of womanhood, but he was unremitting in his efforts to
do something for the girl. Once he tiptoed up to Fanny and
whispered, when Ellen was in the next room, that he hoped she hadn't
made any mistake, that it seemed to him she looked pretty pale.

"Mistake?" cried Fanny, tossing her head, and staring at him
proudly. "Haven't you got any spirit, and you a man, Andrew
Brewster?"

"I ain't thinking about myself," said Andrew.

And he was quite right. Andrew, left to himself and his purely
selfish interests, could have struck with the foremost. He would
never have considered himself when it came to a question of a
conscientious struggle against injustice, though he was so prone to
look upon both sides of an argument that his decision would have
been necessarily slow; but here was Ellen to consider, and she was
more than himself. While he had been, in the depths of his heart,
fiercely jealous of Robert Lloyd, yet the suspicion that his girl
might suffer because of her renunciation of him hurt him to the
quick. Ellen had told him all she had done in the interests of the
strike, and he had no doubt that her action would effectually put an
end to all possible relations between the two. He tried to imagine
how a girl would feel, and being a man, and measuring all passion by
the strength of his own, he exaggerated her suffering. He could eat
nothing, and looked haggard. He remained out-of-doors the greater
part of the day. After he had cleared his own paths, he secured a
job clearing some for a more prosperous neighbor. Andrew in those
days grasped eagerly at any little job which could bring him in a
few pennies. He worked until dark, and when he went home he saw with
a great throb of excitement the Lloyd sleigh waiting before his
door.

Robert had heard from Dennison of Ellen's attitude about the strike.
He had been incredulous at first, as indeed he had been incredulous
about the strike. He had looked out of the office window with the
gaze of one who does not believe what he sees when he had heard that
retreating tramp of the workmen on the stairs.

"What does all this mean?" he said to Dennison, who entered, pale to
his lips.

"It means a strike," replied Dennison. Nellie Stone rolled her
pretty eyes around at the two men from under her fluff of blond
hair. Flynn came in and stood in a curious, non-committal attitude.

"A strike!" repeated Robert, vaguely. "What for?"

It seemed incredible that he should ask, but he did. The calm
masterfulness of his uncle, which could not even imagine opposition,
had apparently descended upon him.

Both foremen stared at him. Nellie Stone smiled a little covertly.

"Why, you know you had a committee wait upon you last night, Mr.
Lloyd," replied Dennison.

Flynn looked out of the window at the retreating throngs of workmen,
and gave a whistle under his breath.

"Have they struck because of the wage-cutting?" asked Robert, in a
curious, boyish, incredulous, aggrieved tone. Then all at once he
colored violently. "Let them strike, then!" he cried. He threw
himself into a chair and took up the morning paper, with its glaring
headlines about the unprecedented storm, as if nothing had happened.
Nellie Stone, after a sly wink at Flynn, which he did not return,
began writing again. Flynn went out, and Dennison remained
standing in a rather helpless attitude. A strike in Lloyd's was
unprecedented, but this manner of receiving the news was more
unprecedented still. The proprietor was apparently reading the
morning paper with much interest, when two more foremen, heads of
other departments, came hurrying in.

"I have heard already," said Robert, in response to their gasped
information. Then he turned another page of the paper.

"What's to be done, sir?" said one of the new-comers, after a
prolonged stare at his companion and Dennison. He was a spare man,
with a fierce glimmer of blue eyes under bent brows.

"Let them strike if they want to," replied Robert.

It was in his mind to explain at length to these men his reasons for
cutting the wages--for his own attitude as he knew it himself was
entirely reasonable--but the pride of a proud family was up in him.

"The strike would never have been on, for the men went to work
quietly enough, if it hadn't been for that Brewster girl," Dennison
said, presently, but rather doubtfully. He was not quite sure how
the information would be received.

Robert dropped his paper, and stared at him with angry incredulity.

"What are you talking about?" he said. "What had Miss Brewster to do
with it?"

He said "Miss Brewster" with a meaning emphasis of respect, and
Dennison was quick to adopt the hint.

"Oh, nothing," he replied, uneasily, "only she talked with them."

"You mean that Miss Brewster talked to the men?"

"Yes; she said a good deal yesterday, and to-day the men would not
have struck if it had not been for her. It only needs a spark to set
them off sometimes."

Robert was very pale. "Well," he said, coolly, "there is no need for
you to remain longer, since the factory is shut down. You may as
well go."

"The engineer is seeing to the fires, Mr. Lloyd," said Dennison.

"Very well."  Robert turned to the girl at the desk. "The factory is
closed, Miss Stone," he said; "there is no need for you to remain
longer to-day. Come to-morrow at ten o'clock, and I will have
something for you to do with regard to settling up accounts. There
is nothing in shape now."

That afternoon Robert went to see Ellen. He could not wait until
evening.

Fanny greeted him at the door, and there was the inevitable flurry
about lighting the parlor stove, and presently Ellen entered.

She had changed the gown which she had worn at her factory-work for
her last winter's best one. Her young face was pale, almost severe,
and she met him in a way which made her seem a stranger.

Robert realized suddenly that she had, as it were, closed the door
upon all their old relations. She seemed years older, and at the
same time indefinably younger, since she was letting the childish
impulses, which are at the heart of all of us untouched by time and
experience, rise rampant and unchecked. She was following the lead
of her own convictions with the terrible unswerving of a child, even
in the face of her own hurt. She was, metaphorically, bumping her
own head against the floor in her vain struggles for mastery over
the mighty conditions of her life.

She bowed to Robert, and did not seem to see his proffered hand.

"Won't you shake hands with me?" he asked, almost humbly, although
his own wrath was beginning to rise.

"No, I would rather not," she replied, with a straight look at him.
Her blue eyes did not falter in the least.

"May I sit down?" he said. "I have something I would like to say to
you."

"Certainly, if you wish," she replied. Then she seated herself on
the sofa, with Robert opposite in the crushed-plush easy-chair.

The room was still very cold, and the breath could be seen at the
lips of each in white clouds. Robert had on his coat, but Ellen had
nothing over her blue gown. It was on Robert's tongue to ask if she
were not cold, then he refrained. The issues at stake seemed to make
the question frivolous to offensiveness. He felt that any approach
to tenderness when Ellen was in her present mood would invoke an
indignation for which he could scarcely blame her, that he must try
to meet her on equal fighting-ground.

Ellen sat before him, her little, cold hands tightly folded in her
lap, her mouth set hard, her steady fire of blue eyes on his face,
waiting for him to speak.

Robert felt a decided awkwardness about beginning to talk. Suddenly
it occurred to him to wonder what there was to say. It amounted to
this: they were in their two different positions, their two points
of view--would either leave for any argument of the other? Then he
wondered if he could, in the face of a girl who wore an expression
like that, stoop to make an argument, for the utter blindness and
deafness of her very soul to any explanation of his position was too
evident in her face.

"I called to tell you, if you will permit me, how much I regret the
unfortunate state of affairs at the factory," Robert said, and the
girl's eyes met his as with a flash of flame.

"Why did you not prevent it, then?" asked she. Ellen had all the
fire of her family, but a steadiness of manner which never deserted
her. She was never violent.

"I could not prevent it," replied Robert, in a low voice.

Ellen said nothing.

"You mistake my position," said Robert. It was in his mind then to
lay the matter fully before her, as he had disdained to do before
the committee, but her next words deterred him.

"I understand your position very fully," said she.

Robert bowed.

"There is only one way of looking at it," said Ellen, in her
inexpressibly sweet, almost fanatical voice. She tossed her head,
and the fluff of fair hair over her temples caught a beam of
afternoon sunlight.

"She is only a child," thought Robert, looking at her. He rose and
crossed over to the sofa, and sat down beside her with a masterful
impatience. "Look here, Ellen," he said, leaving all general issues
for their own personal ones, "you are not going to let this come
between us?"

Ellen sat stiff and straight, and made no reply.

"All this can make very little difference to you," Robert urged.
"You know how I feel. That is, it can make very little difference to
you if you still feel as you did. You must know that I have only
been waiting--that I am eager and impatient to lift you out of it
all."

Ellen faced him. "Do you think I would be lifted out of it now?" she
said.

"Why, but, Ellen, you cannot--"

"Yes, I can. You do not know me."

"Ellen, you are under a total misapprehension of my position."

"No, I am not. I apprehend it perfectly."

"Ellen, you cannot let this separate us."

Ellen looked straight ahead in silence.

"You at least owe it to me to tell me if, irrespective of this, your
feelings have changed," Robert said, in a low voice.

Ellen said nothing.

"You may have come to prefer some one else," said Robert.

"I prefer no one before my own, before all these poor people who are
a part of my life," Ellen cried out, suddenly, her face flaming.

"Then why do you refuse to let me act for their final good? You must
know what it means to have them thrown out of work in midwinter. You
know the factory will remain closed for the present on account of
the strike."

"I did not doubt it," said Ellen, in a hard voice. All the bitter
thoughts to which she would not give utterance were in her voice.

"I cannot continue to run the factory at the present rate and meet
expenses," said Robert; "in fact, I have been steadily losing for
the last month."  He had, after all, descended to explanation. "It
amounts to my either reducing the wage-list or closing the factory
altogether," he continued. "For my own good I ought to close the
factory altogether, but I thought I would give the men a chance."

Robert thought by saying that he must have finally settled matters.
It did not enter his head that she would really think it advisable
for him to continue losing money. The pure childishness of her
attitude was something really beyond the comprehension of a man of
business who had come into hard business theories along with his
uncle's dollars.

"What if you do lose money?" said Ellen.

Robert stared at her. "I beg your pardon?" said he.

"What if you do lose money?"

"A man cannot conduct business on such principles," replied Robert.
"There would soon be no business to conduct. You don't understand."

"Yes, I do understand fully," replied Ellen.

Robert looked at her, at the clear, rosy curve of her young cheek,
the toss of yellow hair above a forehead as candid as a baby's, at
her little, delicate figure, and all at once such a rage of
masculine insistence over all this obstinacy of reasoning was upon
him that it was all he could do to keep himself from seizing her in
his arms and forcing her to a view of his own horizon. He felt
himself drawn up in opposition to an opponent at once too delicate,
too unreasoning, and too beloved to encounter. It seemed as if the
absurdity of it would drive him mad, and yet he was held to it. He
tried to give a desperate wrench aside from the main point of the
situation. He leaned over Ellen, so closely that his lips touched
her hair.

"Ellen, let us leave all this," he pleaded; "let me talk to you. I
had to wait a little while. I knew you would understand that, but
let me talk to you now."

Ellen sat as rigid as marble. "I wish to talk of nothing besides the
matter at hand, Mr. Lloyd," said she. "That is too close to my heart
for any personal consideration to come between."



Chapter LIV


When Robert went home in the winter twilight he was more miserable
than he had ever been in his life. He felt as if he had been
assaulting a beautiful alabaster wall of unreason. He felt as if
that which he could shatter at a blow had yet held him in defiance.
The idea of this girl, of whom he had thought as his future wife,
deliberately setting herself against him, galled him inexpressibly,
and in spite of himself he could not quite free his mind of
jealousy. On his way home he stopped at Lyman Risley's office, and
found, to his great satisfaction, that he was alone, writing at his
desk. Even his stenographer had gone home. He turned around when
Robert entered, and looked at him with his quizzical, yet kindly,
smile.

"Well, how are you, boy?" he said.

Robert dropped into the first chair, and sat therein, haunched up as
in a lapse of despair and weariness.

"What is the matter?" asked Risley.

"You have heard about the trouble in the factory?"

For answer Risley held up a night's paper with glaring head-lines.

"Yes, of course it is in the papers," assented Robert, wearily.

Risley stared at him in a lazily puzzled fashion. "Well," he said,
"what is it all about? Why are you so broken up about it?"  Risley
laid considerable emphasis on the _you_.

"Yes," cried Robert, in a sudden stress of indignation. "You look at
it like all the rest. Why are all the laborers to be petted and
coddled, and the capitalists held up to execration? Good Lord, isn't
there any pity for the rich man without his drop of water, in the
Bible or out? Are all creation born with blinders on, and can they
only see before their noses?"

"What are you talking about, Robert?" said Risley, laughing a
little.

"I say why should all the sympathy go to the workmen who are acting
like the pig-headed idiots they are, and none for the head of the
factory, who has the sharp-edged, red-hot brunt of it all to bear?"

"You wouldn't look at it that way if you were one of the poor men
just out on strike such weather as this," said Risley, dryly. He
glanced as he spoke at the window, which was beginning to be thickly
furred with frost in spite of the heat of the office. Robert
followed his gaze, and noted the spreading fairy jungle of
crystalline trees and flowers on the broad field of glass.

"Do you think that is the worst thing in the world to bear?" he
demanded, angrily.

"What? Cold and hunger not only for yourself, but for those you
love?"

"Yes."

"Well, I think it is pretty bad," replied Risley.

"Well, suppose you had to bear that, at least for those you loved,
and--and--" said the young man, lamely.

Risley remained silent, waiting.

"If I had been my uncle instead of myself I should simply have shut
down with no ado," said Robert, presently, in an angry,
argumentative voice.

"I suppose you would; and as it was?"

"As it was, I thought I would give them a chance. Good God, Risley,
I have been running the factory at a loss for a month as it is. With
this new wage-list I should no more than make expenses, if I did
that. What was it to me? I did it to keep them in some sort of work.
As for myself, I would much rather have shut down and done with it,
but I tried to keep it running on their account, poor devils, and
now I am execrated for it, and they have deliberately refused what
little I could offer."

"Did you explain all this to the committee?" asked Risley.

"Explain? No! I told them my course was founded upon strict business
principles, and was as much for their good as for mine. They
understood. They know how hard the times are. Why, it was only last
week that Weeks & McLaughlin failed, and that meant a heavy loss. I
didn't explain."  Then Robert hesitated and colored. "I have just
explained to her," he said, with a curious hang of his head, like a
boy, "and if my explanation was met in the same fashion by the
others in the factory I might as well have addressed the north wind.
They are all alike; they are a different race. We cannot help them,
and they cannot help themselves, because they are themselves."

"You mean by her, Ellen Brewster?" Risley said.

Robert nodded gloomily.

"That is all in the paper," said Risley--"what she said to the men."

Robert made an impatient move.

"If ever there was a purely normal outgrowth, a perfect flower of
her birth and environments and training, that girl is one," said
Risley, with an accent of admiration.

"She is infected with the ranting idiocy of those with whom she has
been brought in daily contact," said Robert; but even as he spoke he
seemed to see the girl's dear young face, and his voice faltered.

"Even as you may be infected with the conservatism of those with
whom you are brought in contact," said Risley, dryly.

"What a democrat you are, Risley!" said Robert, impatiently. "I
believe you would make a good walking delegate."

Risley laughed. "I think I would myself," he said. "Wouldn't she
listen to you, Robert?"

"She listened with such utter dissent that she might as well have
been dumb. It is all over between us, Risley."

"How precipitate you are, you young folks!" said the other,
good-humoredly.

"How precipitate? Do you mean to say--?"

"I mean that you are forever thinking you are on the brink of
nothingness, when the true horizon-line is too far for you ever to
reach in your mortal life."

"Not in this case," said Robert.

"You know nothing about it. But if you will excuse me, it seems to
me that the matter of all these people being reduced to starvation
in a howling winter is of more importance than the coming together
of two people in the bonds of wedlock. It is the aggregate against
the individual."

"I don't deny that," said Robert, doggedly, "but I am not
responsible for the starvation, and the aggregate have brought it on
themselves."

"You have shut down finally?"

"Yes, I have. I would rather shut down than not, as far as I am
concerned. It is distinctly for my interest. The only one objection
is losing experienced workmen, but in a community like this, and in
times like this, that objection is reduced to a minimum. I can hire
all I want in the spring if I wish to open again. I should run a
risk of losing on every order I should have to fill in the next
three months, even with the reduced list. I would rather shut down
than not; I only reduced the wages for them."

Robert rose as he spoke. He felt in his heart that he had gotten
scant sympathy and comfort. The older man looked with pity at the
young fellow's handsome, gloomy face.

"There's one thing to remember," he said.

"What?"

"All the troubles of this world are born with wings."  Risley
laughed, as he spoke, in his half-cynical fashion.

As Robert walked home--for there was no car due--he felt completely
desolate. It seemed to him that everybody was in league against him.
When he reached his uncle's splendid house and entered, he felt such
an isolation from his kind in the midst of his wealth that something
like an actual terror of solitude came over him.

The impecunious cousin of his aunt's who had come to her during her
last illness acted as his housekeeper. There was something
inexpressibly irritating about this woman, who had suffered so much,
and was now nestling, with a sense of triumph over the passing of
her griefs, in a luxurious home.

She asked Robert if it were true that the factory was closed, and he
felt that she noted his gloomy face, and realized a greater extent
of comfort from her own exemption from such questions.

"Business must be a great care," said she, and a look of utter
peaceful reflection upon her own lot overspread her face.

After supper Robert went down to his aunt Cynthia's. He had not been
there for a long time. The minute he entered she started up with an
eagerness which had been completely foreign to her of late years.

"What is the matter, Robert?" she asked, softly. She took both his
hands as she spoke, and her look in his face was full of delicate
caressing.

Robert succumbed at once to this feminine solicitude, of which he
had had lately so little. He felt as if he had relapsed into
childhood. A sense of injury which was exquisite, as it brought
along with it a sense of his demand upon love and sympathy, seized
him.

"I am worried beyond endurance, Aunt Cynthia," said he.

"About the strike? I have read the night papers."

"Yes; I tried to do what was right, even at a sacrifice to myself,
and--"

Cynthia had read about Ellen, but she was a woman, and she said
nothing as to that.

"I tried to do what was right," Robert said, fairly broken down
again.

Cynthia had seated herself, and Robert had taken a low foot-stool at
her side. It came over him as he did so that it had been a favorite
seat of his when a child. As for Cynthia, influenced by the
appealing to the vulnerable place of her nature, she put her slim
hands on her nephew's head, and actually seemed to feel his baby
curls.

"Poor boy," she whispered.

Robert put both his arms around her and hid his face on her
shoulder, for love is a comforter, in whatever guise.



Chapter LV


On the day after the strike Ellen went to McGuire's and to Briggs's,
the two other factories in Rowe, to see if she could obtain a
position; but she was not successful. McGuire had discharged some of
his employés, reducing his force to its smallest possible limits,
since he had fewer orders, and was trying in that way to avert the
necessity of a cut in wages, and a strike or shut-down. McGuire's
was essentially a union factory, as was Briggs's. Ellen would have
found in either case difficulty about obtaining employment, because
she did not belong to the union, if for no other reason. At Briggs's
she encountered the proprietor himself in the office, and he
dismissed her with a bluff, almost brutal, peremptoriness which hurt
her cruelly, although she held up her head high as she left. Briggs
turned to a foreman who was standing by before she was well out of
hearing.

"I like that!" he said. "Mrs. Briggs read about that girl in the
paper last night, and the strike wouldn't have been on at Lloyd's if
it hadn't been for her. I would as soon take a lighted match into a
powder-magazine."

The foreman grinned. "She's a pretty, mild-looking thing," he said;
"doesn't look as if she could say boo to a goose."

"That's all you can tell," returned Briggs. "Deliver me from a
light-complexioned woman. They're all the very devil. Mrs. Briggs
says it's the same girl that read that composition that made such a
stir at the high-school exhibition. She'd make more trouble in a
factory than a dozen ordinary girls, and just now, when everything
is darned ticklish-looking."

"That's so," assented the foreman, "and all the more because she's
good-looking."

"I don't know what you call good-looking," returned Briggs.

He had two daughters, built upon the same heavy lines as himself and
wife, and he adored them. Insensibly he regarded all more delicate
feminine beauty as a disparagement of theirs. As Briggs spoke, the
foreman seemed to see in the air before his eyes the faces of the
two Briggs girls, large and massive, and dull of hue, the feminine
counterpart of their father's.

"Well, maybe you're right," said he, evasively. "I suppose some
might call her good-looking."

As he spoke he glanced out of the window at Ellen's retreating
figure, moving away over the snow-path with an almost dancing motion
of youth and courage, though she was sorely hurt. The girl had
scarcely ever had a hard word said to her in her whole life, for she
had been in her humble place a petted darling. She had plenty of
courage to bear the hard words now, but they cut deeply into her
unseasoned heart.

Ellen went on past the factories to the main street of Rowe. She had
no idea of giving up her efforts to obtain employment. She said to
herself that she must have work. She thought of the stores, that
possibly she might obtain a chance to serve as a sales-girl in one
of them. She actually began at the end of the long street, and
worked her way through it, with her useless inquiries, facing
proprietors and superintendents, but with no success. There was not
a vacancy in more than one or two, and there they wished only
experienced hands. She found out that her factory record told
against her. The moment she admitted that she had worked in a
factory the cold shoulder was turned. The position of a shop-girl
was so far below that of a sales-lady that the effect upon the
superintendent was almost as if he had met an unworthy aspirant to a
throne. He would smile insultingly and incredulously, even as he
regarded her.

"You would find that our goods are too fine to handle after leather.
Have you tried all the shops?"

At last Ellen gave that up, and started homeward. She paused once as
she came opposite an intelligence office. There was one course yet
open to her, but from that she shrank, not on her own account, but
she dared not--knowing what would be the sufferings of her relatives
should she do so--apply for a position as a servant.

As for herself, strained as she was to her height of youthful
enthusiasm for a great cause, as she judged it to be, clamping her
feet to the topmost round of her ladder of difficulty, she would
have essayed any honest labor with no hesitation whatever. But she
thought of her father and mother and grandmother, and went on past
the intelligence office.

When she came to her old school-teacher's--Miss Mitchell's--house,
she paused and hesitated a moment, then she went up the little path
between the snow-banks to the front door, and rang the bell. The
door was opened before the echoes had died away. Miss Mitchell had
seen her coming, and hastened to open it. Miss Mitchell had not been
teaching school for some years, having retired on a small competency
of her savings. Her mortgage was paid, and there was enough for
herself and her mother to live upon, with infinite care as to
details of expenditure. Every postage-stamp and car-fare had its
important part in the school-teacher's system of economy; but she
was quite happy, and her large face wore an expression of perfect
peace and placidity.

She was a woman who was not tortured by any strong, ungratified
desires. Her allotment of the gifts of the gods quite satisfied her.

When Ellen entered the rather stuffy sitting-room--for Miss Mitchell
and her mother were jealous of any breath of cold air after the
scanty fire was kindled--it was like entering into a stratum of
peace. It seemed quite removed from the turmoil of her own life. The
school-teacher's old mother sat in her rocker close to the stove,
stouter than ever, filling up her chair with those wandering curves
and vague outlines which only the over-fleshy human form can assume.
She looked as indefinite as a quivering jelly until one reached her
face. That wore a fixedness of amiability which accentuated the
whole like a high light. She had not seen Ellen for a long time, and
she greeted her with delight.

"Bless your heart!" said she, in her sweet, throaty, husky voice.
"Go and get her some of them cookies, Fanny, do."  The old woman's
faculties were not in the least impaired, although she was very old,
neither had her hands lost their cunning, for she still retained her
skill in cookery, and prepared the simple meals for herself and
daughter, seated in a high chair at the kitchen table to roll out
pastry or the famous little cookies which Ellen remembered along
with her childhood.

There was something about these cookies which Miss Mitchell
presently brought to her in a pretty china plate, with a little,
fine-fringed napkin, which was like a morsel of solace to the girl.
With the first sweet crumble of the cake on her plate, she wished to
cry. Sometimes the rush of old, kindly, tender associations will
overcome one who is quite equal to the strain of present emergency.
But she did not cry; she ate her cookies, and confided to Miss
Mitchell and her mother her desire to obtain a position elsewhere,
since her factory-work had failed her. It had occurred to her that
possibly Miss Mitchell, who was on the school-board, might know of a
vacancy in a primary school for the coming spring term, and that she
might obtain it.

"I think I know enough to teach a primary school," Ellen said.

"Of course you do, bless your heart," said old Mrs. Mitchell. "She
knows enough to teach any kind of a school, don't she, Fanny? You
get her a school, dear, right away."

But Miss Mitchell knew of no probable vacancy, since one young woman
who had expected to be married had postponed her marriage on account
of the strike in Lloyd's, and the consequent throwing out of
employment of her sweetheart. Then, also, Miss Mitchell owned with
hesitation, in response to Ellen's insistent question, that she
supposed that the fact that she had worked in a shop might in any
case interfere with her obtaining a position in a school.

"There is no sense in it, dear child, I know," she said, "but it
might be so."

"Yes, I supposed so," replied Ellen, bitterly. "They would all say
that a shop-girl had no right to try to teach school. Well, I'm much
obliged to you, Miss Mitchell."

"What are you going to do?" Miss Mitchell asked, anxiously,
following her to the door.

"I'm going to Mrs. Doty, to get some of the wrappers that mother
works on, until something else turns up," replied Ellen.

"It seems a pity."

Ellen smiled bravely. "Beggars mustn't be choosers," she said. "If
we can only keep along, somehow, I don't care."

There came a vehement pound of a stick on the floor, for that was
the way the old woman in the sitting-room commanded attention. Miss
Mitchell opened the door on a crack, that she might not let in the
cold air.

"What is it, mother?" she said.

"You get Ellen a school right away, Fanny."

"All right, mother; I'll do my best."

"Get her the grammar-school you used to have."

"All right, mother."

There was something about the imperative solicitude of the old woman
which comforted Ellen in spite of its futility as she went on her
way. The good-will of another human soul, even when it cannot be
resolved into active benefits, has undoubtedly a mighty force of its
own. Ellen, with the sweet of the cookies still lingering on her
tongue, and the sweet of the old woman's kindness in her soul, felt
refreshed as if by some subtle spiritual cake and wine. She even
went to the door of Mrs. Doty's house. Mrs. Doty was the woman who
let out wrappers to her impecunious neighbors with an undaunted
heart. She had no difficulty there. The demand for cheap wrappers
was not on the wane, even in the hard times. When Ellen reached her
grandmother's house, with a great parcel under her arm, Mrs. Zelotes
opened her side door.

"What have you got there, Ellen Brewster?" she called out sharply.

"Some wrappers," replied Ellen, cheerfully.

"Are you going to work on wrappers?"

"Yes, grandma."

The door was shut with a loud report.

When Ellen entered the house and the sitting-room, her mother looked
up from a pink wrapper which she was finishing.

"What have you got there?" she demanded.

"Some wrappers."

"Why, I haven't finished the last lot."

"These are for me to make, mother."

Andrew got up and went out of the room. Fanny shut her mouth hard,
and drew her thread through with a jerk.

"Well," she said, in a second, "take off your things, and let me
show you how to start on them. There's a little knack about it."



Chapter LVI


That was a hard winter for Rowe. Aside from the financial stress,
the elements seemed to conspire against the people who were so
ill-prepared to meet their fury. It was the coldest winter which had
been known for years; coal was higher, and the poor people had less
coal to burn. Storm succeeded storm; then, when there came a warm
spell, there was an epidemic of the grippe, and doctors' bills to
pay and quinine to buy--and quinine was very dear.

The Brewsters managed to keep up the interest on the house mortgage,
but their living expenses were reduced to the smallest possible
amount. In those days there was no wood laid ready for kindling in
the parlor stove, since there was neither any wood to spare nor
expectation of Robert's calling. Ellen and her mother sat in the
dining-room, for even the sitting-room fire had been abolished, and
they heated the dining-room whenever the weather admitted it from
the kitchen stove, and worked on the wrappers for their miserable
pittance.

The repeated storms were in a way a boon to Andrew, since he got
many jobs clearing paths, and thus secured a trifle towards the
daily expenses.

In those days Mrs. Zelotes watched the butcher-cart anxiously when
it stopped before her son's house, and she knew just what a tiny bit
of meat was purchased, and how seldom. On the days when the cart
moved on without any consultation at the tail thereof, the old woman
would buy an extra portion, cook it, and carry some over to her
son's.

Times grew harder and harder. Few of the operatives who had struck
in Lloyd's succeeded in obtaining employment elsewhere, and most of
them joined the union to enable them to do so. There was actual
privation. One evening, when the strike was some six weeks old, Abby
Atkins came over in a pouring rain to see Ellen. There were a number
of men in the dining-room that night. Amos Lee and Frank Dixon were
among them. It was a singular thing that Andrew, taking, as he had
done, no active part in any rebellion against authority, should have
come to see his house the headquarters for the rallies of
dissension. Men seemed to come to Andrew Brewster's for the sake of
bolstering themselves up in their hard position of defiance against
tremendous odds, though he sat by and seldom said a word. As for
Ellen, she and her mother on these occasions sat out in the kitchen,
sewing on the endless seams of the endless wrappers. Sometimes it
seemed to the girl as if wrappers enough were being made to clothe
not only the present, but future generations of poor women. She
seemed to see whole armies of hopeless, overburdened women, all
arrayed in these slouching garments, crowding the foreground of the
world.

That evening little Amabel, who had developed a painful desire to
make herself useful, having divined the altered state of the family
finances, was pulling out basting-threads, with a puckered little
face bent over her work. She was a very thin child, but there was an
incisive vitality in her, and somehow Fanny and Ellen contrived to
keep her prettily and comfortably clothed.

"I've got to do my duty by poor Eva's child, if I starve," Fanny
often said.

When the side door opened, Ellen and her mother thought it was
another man come to swell the company in the dining-room.

"It beats all how men like to come and sit round and talk over
matters; for my part, I 'ain't got any time to talk; I've got to
work," remarked Fanny.

"That's so," rejoined Ellen. She looked curiously like her mother
that night, and spoke like her. In her heart she echoed the sarcasm
to the full. She despised those men for sitting hour after hour in a
store, or in the house of some congenial spirit, or standing on a
street corner, and talking--talking, she was sure, to no purpose. As
for herself, she had done what she thought right; she had, as it
were, cut short the thread of her happiness of life for the sake of
something undefined and rather vague, and yet as mighty in its
demands for her allegiance as God. And it was done, and there was no
use in talking about it. She had her wrappers to make. However, she
told herself, extenuatingly, "Men can't sew, so they can't work
evenings. They are better off talking here than they would be in the
billiard-saloon."  Ellen, at that time of her life, had a slight,
unacknowledged feeling of superiority over men of her own class. She
regarded them very much as she regarded children, with a sort of
tolerant good-will and contempt. Now, suddenly, she raised her head
and listened. "That isn't another man, it's a woman--it's Abby," she
said to her mother.

"She wouldn't come out in all this rain," replied Fanny. As she
spoke, a great, wind-driven wash of it came over the windows.

"Yes, it is," said Ellen, and she jumped up and opened the
dining-room door.

Abby had entered, as was her custom, without knocking. She had left
her dripping umbrella in the entry, and her old hat was flattened on
to her head with wet, and several damp locks of her hair straggled
from under it and clung to her thin cheeks. She still held up her
wet skirts around her, as she had held them out-of-doors, but she
was gesticulating violently with her other hand. She was repeating
what she had said before. Ellen had heard her indistinctly through
the door.

"Yes, I mean just what I say," she cried. "Get up and go to work, if
you are men! Stop hanging around stores and corners, and talking
about the tyranny of the rich, and go to work, and make them pay you
something for it, anyhow. This has been kept up long enough. Get up
and go to work, if you don't want those belonging to you to starve."

Abby caught sight of Ellen, pale and breathless, in the door, with
her mother looking over her shoulder, and she addressed her with
renewed violence. "Come here, Ellen," she said, "and put yourself on
my side. We've got to give in."

"You go away," cried little Amabel, in a shrill voice, looking
around Ellen's arm; but nobody paid any attention to her.

"I never will," returned Ellen, with a great flash, but her voice
trembled.

"You've got to," said Abby. "I tell you there's no other way."

"I'll die before I give up," cried Lee, in a loud, threatening
voice.

"I'm with ye," said Tom Peel.

Dixon and the young laster who sat beside him looked at each other,
but said nothing. Dixon wrinkled his forehead over his pipe.

"Then you'd better go to work quick, before some that I know of, who
are enough sight better worth saving than you are, starve," replied
Abby, unshrinkingly. "If I could I would go to Lloyd's and open it
on my own account to-morrow. I believe in bravery, but nothing
except fools and swine jump over precipices."

Abby passed through the room, sprinkling rain-drops from her
drenched skirts, and went into the kitchen with Ellen. Fanny cast an
angry glance at her, then a solicitous one at her dripping garments.

"Abby Atkins, you haven't got any rubbers on," said she.

"Rubbers!" repeated Abby.

"You just slip off those wet skirts, and Amabel will fetch you down
Ellen's old black petticoat and brown dress. Amabel--"

But Abby seated herself peremptorily before the kitchen stove and
extended one soaked little foot in its shabby boot. "I'm past
thinking or caring about wet skirts," said she. "Good Lord, what do
wet skirts matter? We can't make wrappers any longer. We had to sell
the sewing-machine yesterday to pay the rent or be turned out, and
we haven't got a thing to eat in the house except potatoes and a
little flour. We haven't had any meat for a week. Nice fare for a
man like poor father and a girl like Maria! We have come down to the
kitchen fire like you, but we can't keep it burning as late as this.
The rest went to bed an hour ago to keep warm. Maria has got more
cold. She did seem better one spell, but now she's worse again. Our
chamber is freezing cold, and we haven't had a fire in it since the
strike. John Sargent has ransacked every town within twenty miles
for work, but he can't get any, and his sick sister keeps sending to
him for money. He looks as if he was just about done, too. He went
off somewhere after supper. A great supper! He don't smoke a pipe
nowadays. Father don't get the medicine he ought to have, and that
cold spell he just about perished for a little whiskey. The bedroom
was like ice with no fire in the sitting-room, and he didn't sleep
warm. It's one awful thing after another happening. Did you know
Mamie Brady took laudanum last night?"

"Good land!" said Fanny.

"Yes, she did. Ed Flynn has been playing fast and loose with her for
a long time, and she's none too well balanced, and when it came to
her not having enough to eat, and to keep her warm, and her mother
nagging at her all the time--you know what an awful hard woman her
mother is--she got desperate. She gulped it down when the last car
went past and Ed Flynn hadn't come; she had been watchin' out for
him; then she told her mother, and her mother shook her, then run
for Dr. Fox, and he called in Dr. Lord, and they worked with a
stomach-pump till morning, and she isn't out of danger yet. Then
that isn't all. Willy Jones's mother is failing. He was over to our
house last evening, telling us about it, and he fairly cried, poor
boy. He said he actually could not get her what she needed to make
her comfortable this awful winter. It was all he could do with odd
jobs to keep the roof over their heads, that she hadn't actually
enough to eat and keep her warm. It seemed as if he would die when
he told about it. And that isn't all. Those little Blake children
next door are fairly starving. They are going around to the
neighbors' swill-buckets--it's a fact--just like little hungry dogs,
and it's precious little they find in them. Mrs. Wetherhed has let
her sewing-machine go, and Edward Morse is going to be sold out for
taxes. And that isn't all."  Abby lowered her voice a little. She
cast an apprehensive glance at the door of the other room, and at
Amabel. "Mamie Bemis has gone to the bad. I had it straight. She's
in Boston. She didn't have enough to pay for her board, and got
desperate. I know her sister did wrong, but that was no reason why
she should have, and I don't believe she would if it hadn't been for
the strike. It's all on account of the strike. There's no use
talking: before the sparrow flies in the eyes of the tiger, he'd
better count the cost."

Fanny, quite white, stood staring from Abby to Ellen, and back
again.

Amabel was holding fast to a fold of Ellen's skirt. Ellen looked
rigid.

"I knew it all before," she said, in a low voice.

Suddenly Abby jumped up and caught the other girl in a fierce
embrace. "Ellen," she sobbed--"Ellen, isn't there any way out of it?
I can't see--"

Ellen freed herself from Abby with a curious imperative yet gentle
motion, then she opened the door into the other room again. The loud
clash of voices hushed, and every man faced towards her standing on
the threshold, with her mother and Abby and little Amabel in the
background. "I want to say to you all," said Ellen, in a clear
voice, "that I think I did wrong. I have been wondering if I had not
for some time, and growing more and more certain. I did not count
the cost. All I thought of was the principle, but the cost is a part
of the principle in this world, and it has to be counted in with it.
I see now. I don't think the strike ought ever to have been. It has
brought about too much suffering upon those who were not responsible
for it, who did not choose it of their own free will. There are
children starving, and people dying and breaking their hearts. We
have brought too much upon ourselves and others. I am sorry I said
what I did in the shop that day, if I influenced any one. Now I am
not going to strike any longer. Let us all accept Mr. Lloyd's terms,
and go back to work."

But Ellen's voice was drowned out in a great shout of wrath and
dissent from Lee. He directly leaped to the conclusion that the girl
took this attitude on account of Lloyd, and his jealousy, which was
always smouldering, flamed.

"Well, I guess not!" he shouted. "I rather guess not! I've struck,
and I'm going to stay struck! I ain't goin' to back out because a
girl likes the boss, damn him!"

Andrew and the young laster rose and moved quietly before Ellen. Tom
Peel said nothing, but he grinned imperturbably.

"I 'ain't had a bit of tobacco, and the less said about what I've
had to eat the better," Lee went on, in a loud, threatening voice,
"but I ain't going to give up. No, miss; you've het up the fightin'
blood in me, and it ain't so easy coolin' of it down."

The door opened, and Granville Joy entered. He had knocked several
times, but nobody had heard him. He looked inquiringly from one to
another, then moved beside Andrew and the laster.

Dixon got up. "It looks to me as if it was too soon to be giving up
now," he said.

"It's easy for a man who's got nobody dependent upon him to talk,"
cried Abby.

"I won't give up!" cried Dixon, looking straight at Ellen, and
ignoring Abby.

"That's so," said Lee. "We don't give up our rights for bosses, or
bosses' misses."

As he said that there was a concerted movement of Andrew, the
laster, and Granville. Granville was much slighter than Lee, but
suddenly his right arm shot out, and the other man went down like a
log. Andrew followed him up with a kick.

"Get out of my house," he shouted, "and never set foot in it again!
Out with ye!"

Lee was easily cowed. He did not attempt to make any resistance, but
gathered himself up, muttering, and moved before the three into the
entry, where he had left his coat and hat. Dixon and Peel followed
him. When the door was shut, Ellen turned to the others, with a
quieting hand on Amabel's head, who was clinging to her, trembling.

"I think it will be best to talk to John Sargent," said she. "I
think a committee had better be appointed to wait upon Mr. Lloyd
again, and ask him to open the factory. I'm not going to strike any
longer."

"I'm sure I'm not," said Abby.

"Abby and I are not going to strike any longer," said Ellen, in an
indescribably childlike way, which yet carried enormous weight with
it.



Chapter LVII


Ellen had not arrived at her decision with regard to the strike as
suddenly as it may have seemed. All winter, ever since the strike,
Ellen had been wondering, not whether the principle of the matter
was correct or not, that she never doubted; she never swerved in her
belief concerning the cruel tyranny of the rich and the helpless
suffering of the poor, and their good reason for making a stand, but
she doubted more and more the wisdom of it. She used to sit for
hours up in her chamber after her father and mother had gone to bed,
wrapped up in an old shawl against the cold, resting her elbows on
the window-sill and her chin on her two hands, staring out into the
night, and reflecting. Her youthful enthusiasm carried her like a
leaping-pole to conclusions beyond her years. "I wonder," she said
to herself, "if, after all, this inequality of possessions is not a
part of the system of creation, if the righting of them is not
beyond the flaming sword of the Garden of Eden? I wonder if the one
who tries to right them forcibly is not meddling, and usurping the
part of the Creator, and bringing down wrath and confusion not only
upon his own head, but upon the heads of others? I wonder if it is
wise, in order to establish a principle, to make those who have no
voice in the matter suffer for it--the helpless women and children?"
 She even thought with a sort of scornful sympathy of Sadie Peel,
who could not have her nearseal cape, and had not wished to strike.
She reflected, as she had done so many times before, that the world
was very old--thousands of years old--and inequality was as old as
the world. Might it not even be a condition of its existence, the
shifting of weights which kept it to its path in the scheme of the
universe? And yet always she went back to her firm belief that the
strikers were right, and always, although she loved Robert Lloyd,
she denounced him. Even when it came to her abandoning her position
with regard to the strike, she had not the slightest thought of
effecting thereby a reconciliation with Robert.

For the first time, that night when she had gone to bed, after
announcing her determination to go back to work, she questioned her
affection for Robert. Before she had always admitted it to herself
with a sort of shamed and angry dignity. "Other women feel so about
men, and why should I not?" she had said; "and I shall never fail to
keep the feeling behind more important things."  She had accepted
the fact of it with childlike straightforwardness as she accepted
all other facts of life, and now she wondered if she really did care
for him so much. She thought over and over everything Abby had said,
and saw plainly before her mental vision those poor women parting
with their cherished possessions, the little starving children
snatching at the refuse-buckets at the neighbors' back doors. She
saw with incredulous shame, and something between pity and scorn,
Mamie Bemis, who had gone wrong, and Mamie Brady, who had taken her
foolish, ill-balanced life in her own hands. She remembered every
word which she had said to the men on the morning of the strike, and
how they had started up and left their machines. "I did it all," she
told herself. "I am responsible for it all--all this suffering, for
those hungry little children, for that possible death, for the ruin
of another girl."  Then she told herself, with a stern sense of
justice, that back of her responsibility came Robert Lloyd's. If he
had not cut the wages it would never have been. It seemed to her
that she almost hated him, and that she could not wait to strive to
undo the harm which she had done. She could not wait for morning to
come.

She lay awake all night in a fever of impatience. When she went
down-stairs her eyes were brilliant, there were red spots on her
cheeks, her lips were tense, her whole face looked as if she were
strained for some leap of action. She took hold of everything she
touched with a hard grip. Her father and mother kept watching her
anxiously. Directly after breakfast Ellen put on her hat and coat.

"What are you going to do?" asked Fanny.

"I am going over to see John Sargent, and ask him to get some other
men and go to see Mr. Lloyd, and tell him we are willing to go to
work again," replied Ellen.

Ellen discovered, when she reached the Atkins house, that John
Sargent had already resolved upon his course of action.

"The first thing he said when he came in last night was that he
couldn't stand it any longer, and he was going to see the others,
and go to Lloyd, and ask him to open the shop on his own terms,"
said Abby. "I told him how we felt about it."

"Yes, I am ready to go back whenever the factory is opened," said
Ellen. "I am glad he has gone."

Ellen did not remain long. She was anxious to return and finish some
wrappers she had on hand. Abby promised to go over and let her know
the result of the interview with Lloyd.

It was not until evening that Abby came over, and John Sargent with
her. Lloyd had not been at home in the morning, and they had been
forced to wait until late afternoon. The two entered the
dining-room, where Ellen and her mother sat at work.

Abby spoke at once, and to the point. "Well," said she, "the shop's
going to be opened to-morrow."

"On what terms?" asked Ellen.

"On the boss's, of course," replied Abby, in a hard voice.

"It's the only thing to do," said Sargent, with a sort of stolid
assertion. "If we are willing to be crushed under the Juggernaut of
principle, we haven't any right to force others under, and that's
what we are doing."

"Bread without butter is better than no bread at all," said Abby.
"We've got to live in the sphere in which Providence has placed us."
 The girl said "Providence" with a sarcastic emphasis.

Andrew was looking at Sargent. "Do you think there will be any
trouble?" he asked.

Sargent hesitated, with a glance at Fanny. "I don't know; I hope
not," said he. "Lee and Dixon are opposed to giving in, and they are
talking hard to-night in the store. Then some of the men have joined
the union since the strike, and of course they swear by it, because
it has been helping them, and they won't approve of giving up. But I
doubt if there will be much trouble. I guess the majority want to go
to work, even the union men. The amount of it is, it has been such a
tough winter it has taken the spirit out of the poor souls."
Sargent, evidently, in yielding was resisting himself.

"You don't think there will be any danger?" Fanny said, anxiously,
looking at Ellen.

"Oh no, there's no danger for the girls, anyhow. I guess there's
enough men to look out for them. There's no need for you to worry,
Mrs. Brewster."

"Mr. Lloyd did not offer to do anything better about the wages?"
asked Ellen.

Sargent shook his head.

"Catch him!" said Abby, bitterly.

Ellen had a feeling as if she were smiting in the face that image of
Robert which always dwelt in her heart.

"Well," said Abby, with a mirthless laugh, "there's one thing:
according to the Scriptures, it is as hard for the rich man to get
into heaven as it is for the poor men to get into their factories."

"You don't suppose there will be any danger?" Fanny said again,
anxiously.

"Danger--no; who's afraid of Amos Lee and a few like him?" cried
Abby, contemptuously; "and Nahum Beals is safe. He's going to be
tried next month, they say, but they'll make it imprisonment for
life, because they think he wasn't in his right mind. If he was here
we might be afraid, but there's nobody now that will do anything but
talk. I ain't afraid. I'm going to march up to the shop to-morrow
morning and go to work, and I'd like to see anybody stop me."

However, before they left, John Sargent spoke aside with Andrew, and
told him of a plan for the returning workmen to meet at the corner
of a certain street, and go in a body to the factory, and suggested
that there might be pickets posted by the union men, and Andrew
resolved to go with Ellen.

The next morning the rain had quite ceased, and there was a faint
something, rather a reminiscence than a suggestion, of early spring
in the air. People caught themselves looking hard at the elm
branches to see if they were acquiring the virile fringe of spring
or if their eyes deceived them, and wondered, with respect to the
tips of maple and horse-chestnut branches, whether or not they were
swollen red and glossy. Sometimes they sniffed incredulously when a
soft gust of south wind seemed laden with fresh blossom fragrance.

"I declare, if I didn't know better, I should think I smelled apple
blossoms," said Maria.

"Stuff!" returned Abby. She was marching along with an alert,
springy motion of her lean little body. She was keenly alive to the
situation, and scented something besides apple blossoms. She had
tried to induce Maria to remain at home. "I don't know but there'll
be trouble, and if there is, you'll be just in the way," she told
her before they left the house, but not in their parents' hearing.

"Oh, I don't believe there'll be any. Folks will be too glad to get
back to work," replied Maria. She had a vein of obstinacy, gentle as
she was; then, too, she had a reason which no one suspected for
wishing to be present. She would not yield when John Sargent begged
her privately not to go. It was just because she was afraid there
might be trouble, and he was going to be in it, that she could not
bear to stay at home herself.

Andrew had insisted upon accompanying Ellen in spite of her
remonstrances. "I've got an errand down to the store," he said,
evasively; but Ellen understood.

"I don't think there is any danger, and there wouldn't be any danger
for me--not for the girls, sure," she said; but he persisted.

"Don't you say a word to your mother to scare her," he whispered.
But they had not been gone long before Fanny followed them, Mrs.
Zelotes watching her furtively from a window as she went by.

All the returning employés met, as agreed upon, at the corner of a
certain street, and marched in a solid body towards Lloyd's. The men
insisted upon placing the girls in the centre of this body, although
some of them rebelled, notably Sadie Peel. She was on hand, laughing
and defiant.

"I guess I ain't afraid," she proclaimed. "Father's keepin' on
strikin', but I guess he won't see his own daughter hurt; and now
I'm goin' to have my nearseal cape, if it is late in the season.
They're cheaper now, that's one good thing. On some accounts the
strike has been a lucky thing for me."  She marched along, swinging
her arms jauntily. Ellen and Maria and Abby were close together.
Andrew was on the right of Ellen, Granville Joy behind; the young
laster, who had called so frequently evenings, was with him. John
Sargent and Willy Jones were on the left. They all walked in the
middle of the street like an army. It was covertly understood that
there might be trouble. Some of the younger men from time to time
put hands on their pockets, and a number carried stout sticks.

The first intimation of disturbance came when they met an
electric-car, and all moved to one side to let it pass. The car was
quite full of people going to another town, some thirty miles
distant, to work in a large factory there. Nearly every man and
woman on the car belonged to the union.

As this car slid past a great yell went up from the occupants; men
on the platforms swung their arms in execration and derision.
"Sc-ab, sc-ab!" they called. A young fellow leaped from the rear
platform, caught up a stone and flung it at the returning Lloyd men,
but it went wide of its mark. Then he was back on the platform with
a running jump, and one of the Lloyd men threw a stone, which missed
him. The yell of "Scab, scab!" went up with renewed vigor, until it
died out of hearing along with the rumble of the car.

"Sometimes I wish I had joined the union and stuck it out," said one
of the Lloyd men, gloomily.

"For the Lord's sake, don't show the white feather now!" cried a
young fellow beside him, who was striding on with an eager, even
joyous outlook. He had fighting blood, and it was up, and he took a
keen delight in the situation.

"It's easy to talk," grumbled the other man. "I don't know but all
our help lies in the union, and we've been a pack of fools not to go
in with them, because we hoped Lloyd would weaken and take us back.
He hasn't weakened; we've had to. Good God, them that's rich have it
their own way!"

"I'd have joined the union in a minute, and got a job, and got my
nearseal cape, if it hadn't been for father," said Sadie Peel, with
a loud laugh. "But, my land! if father'd caught me joinin' the union
I dun'no' as there would have been anything left of me to wear the
cape."

They all marched along with no disturbance until they reached the
corner of the street into which they had to turn in order to
approach Lloyd's. There they were confronted by a line of pickets,
stationed there by the union, and the real trouble began. Yells of
"Scab, scab!" filled the air.

"Good land, I ain't no more of a scab than you be!" shrieked Sadie
Peel, in a loud, angry voice. "Scab yourself! Touch me if you
dasse!"

Many young men among the returning force had stout sticks in their
hands. Granville Joy was one of them. Andrew, who was quite unarmed,
pressed in before Ellen. Granville caught him by the arm and tried
to draw him back.

"Look here, Mr. Brewster," he said, "you keep in the background a
little. I am young and strong, and here are Sargent and Mendon.
You'd better keep back."

But Ellen, with a spring which was effectual because so utterly
uncalculated, was before Granville and her father, and them all. She
reasoned it out in a second that she was responsible for the strike,
and that she would be in the front of whatever danger there was in
consequence. Her slight little figure passed them all before they
knew what she was doing. She was in the very front of the little
returning army. She saw the threatening faces of the pickets; she
half turned, and waved an arm of encouragement, like a general in a
battle. "Strike if you want to," she cried out, in her sweet young
voice. "If you want to kill a girl for going back to work to save
herself and her friends from starvation, do it. I am not afraid! But
kill me, if you must kill anybody, because I am the one that started
the strike. Strike if you want to."

[Illustration: If you want to kill a girl for going back to work to save
herself from starvation, do it!]

The opposing force moved aside with an almost imperceptible motion.
Ellen looked like a beautiful child, her light hair tossed around
her rosy face, her eyes full of the daring of perfect confidence.
She in reality did not feel one throb of fear. She passed the
picket-line, and turned instinctively and marched backward with her
blue eyes upon them all. Abby Atkins sprang forward to Ellen's side,
with Sargent and Joy and Willy Jones and Andrew. Andrew kept calling
to Ellen to come back, but she did not heed him.

The little army was several rods from the pickets before a shot rang
out, but that was fired into the air. However, it was followed by a
fierce clamor of "Scab" and a shower of stones, which did little
harm. The Lloyds marched on without a word, except from Sadie Peel.
She turned round with a derisive shout.

"Scab yourselves!" she shrieked. "You dassen't fire at me. You're
scabs yourselves, you be!"

"Scabs, scabs!" shouted the men, moving forward.

"Scab yourself!" shouted Sadie Peel.

Abby Atkins caught hold of her arm and shook her violently. "Shut
up, can't you, Sadie Peel," she said.

"I'll shut up when I get ready, Abby Atkins! I ain't afraid of them
if you be. They dassen't hit me. Scab, scab!" the girl yelled back,
with a hysteric laugh.

"Don't that girl know anything?" growled a man behind her.

"Shut up, Sadie Peel," said Abby Atkins.

"I ain't afraid if you be, and I won't shut up till I get ready, for
you or anybody else. I'm goin' to have my nearseal cape! Hi!"

"I ain't afraid," said Abby, contemptuously, "but I've got sense."

Maria pressed close to Sadie Peel. "Please do keep still, Sadie,"
she pleaded. "Let us get into the factory as quietly as we can.
Think, if anybody was hurt."

"I ain't afraid," shrieked the girl, with a toss of her red fringe,
and she laughed like a parrot. Abby Atkins gripped her arm so
fiercely that she made her cry out with pain. "If you don't keep
still!" she said, threateningly.

Willy Jones was walking as near as he could, and he carried his
right arm half extended, as if to guard her. Now and then Abby
turned and gave him a push backward.

"They won't trouble us girls, and you might as well let us and the
men that have sticks go first," she said in a whisper.

"If you think--" began the young fellow, coloring.

"Oh, I know you ain't afraid," said Abby, "but you've got your
mother to think of, and there's no use in running into danger."

The pickets were gradually left behind; they were, in truth,
half-hearted. Many of them had worked in Lloyd's, and had small mind
to injure their old comrades. They were not averse to a great show
of indignation and bluster, but when it came to more they hesitated.

Presently the company came into the open space before Lloyd's.
Robert and Lyman Risley and several foremen were standing at the
foot of the stairs. The windows of the factory were filled with
faces, and derisive cries came from them. Lloyd's tall shaft of
chimney was plumed with smoke. The employés advanced towards the
stairs, when suddenly Amos Lee, Dixon, and a dozen others appeared,
coming with a rush from around a corner of the building, and again
the air was filled with the cry of "Scab!"  Ellen and Abby linked
arms and sprang forward before the men with an impetuous rush, with
Joy and Willy Jones and Andrew following. Ellen, as she rushed on
towards the factory stairs, was conscious of no fear at all, but
rather of a sort of exaltation of courage. It did not really occur
to her that she could be hurt, that it could be in the heart of Lee
or Dixon, or any of them, actually to harm her. She was throbbing
and intense with indignation and resolution. Into that factory to
her work she was bound to go. All that intimidated her in the least
was the fear for her father. She rushed as fast as she could that
her father might not get before her and be hurt in some way.

"Scab! scab!" shouted Lee and the others.

"Scab yourself!" shrieked Sadie Peel. Her father was one of the
opposing party, and that gave her perfect audacity. "Look out you
don't hit me, dad," she cried to him. "I'm goin' to get my nearseal
cape. Don't you hit your daughter, Tom Peel!"  She raced on with a
sort of hoppity-skip. She caught a young man near her by the arm and
forced him into the same dancing motion.

They were at the foot of the stairs, when Robert, watching, saw Lee
with a pistol in his hand aim straight at Ellen. He sprang before
her, but Risley was nearer, and the shot struck him. When Risley
fell, a great cry, it would have been difficult to tell whether of
triumph or horror, went up from the open windows of the other
factories, and men came swarming out. Lee and his companions
vanished.

A great crowd gathered around Risley until the doctors came and
ordered them away, and carried him in the ambulance to the hospital.
He was not dead, but evidently very seriously injured.

When the ambulance had rolled out of sight, the Lloyd employés
entered the factory, and the hum of machinery began.

Fanny and Andrew stood together before the factory after Ellen had
entered. Andrew had started when he had seen his wife.

"You here?" he said.

"I rather guess I'm here," returned Fanny. "Do you s'pose I was
goin' to stay at home, and not know whether you and her were shot
dead or not?"

"I guess it's all safe now," said Andrew. He was very pale. He
looked at the blood-stained place where Lyman Risley had lain. "It's
awful work," he said.

"Who did it?" asked Fanny, sharply. "I heard the shot just before I
got here."

"I don't know for sure, and guess it's better I don't," replied
Andrew, sternly.

Then all at once as they stood there a woman came up with a swift,
gliding motion and a long trail of black skirts straight to Fanny,
who was the only woman there. There were still a great many men and
boys standing about. The woman, Cynthia Lennox, caught Fanny's arm
with a nervous grip. Her finely cut face was very white under the
nodding plumes of her black bonnet.

"Is he in there?" she asked, in a strained voice, pointing to the
shop.

Fanny stared at her. She was half dazed. She did not know whether
she was referring to the wounded man or Robert.

Andrew was quicker in his perceptions.

"They carried him off to the hospital in the ambulance," he told
her. Then he added, as gently as if he had been addressing Ellen: "I
guess he wasn't hurt so very bad. He came to before they took him
away."

"You don't know anything about it," Fanny said, sharply. "I heard
them say something about his eyes."

"His eyes!" gasped Cynthia. She held tightly to Fanny, who looked at
her with a sudden passion of sympathy breaking through her
curiosity.

"Oh, I guess he wasn't hurt so very bad; he _did_ come to. I heard
him speak," she said, soothingly. She laid her hard hand over
Cynthia's slim one.

"They took him to the hospital?"

"Yes, in the ambulance."

"Is--my nephew in there?"

"No; he went with him."

Cynthia looked at the other woman with an expression of utter
anguish and pleading.

"Look here," said Fanny; "the hospital ain't very far from here.
Suppose we go up there and ask how he is? We could call out your
nephew."

"Will you go with me?" asked Cynthia, with a heart-breaking gasp.

If Ellen could have seen her at that moment, she would have
recognized her as the woman whom she had known in her childhood. She
was an utter surprise to Fanny, but her sympathy leaped to meet her
need like the steel to the magnet.

"Of course I will," she said, heartily.

"I would," said Andrew--"I would go with her, Fanny."

"Of course I will," said Fanny; "and you had better go home, I
guess, Andrew, and see how I left the kitchen fire. I don't know but
the dampers are all wide open."

Fanny and Cynthia hastened in one direction towards the hospital,
and Andrew towards home; but he paused for a minute, and looked
thoughtfully up at the humming pile of Lloyd's. The battle was over
and the strike was ended. He drew a great sigh, and went home to see
to the kitchen fire.



Chapter LVIII


Lyman Risley was very seriously injured. There was, as the men had
reported, danger for his eyes. When Robert was called into the
reception-room of the hospital to see his aunt, he scarcely
recognized her. Her soft, white hair was tossed about her temples,
her cheeks were burning. She ran up to him like an eager child and
clutched his arm.

"How is he?" she demanded. "Tell me quick!"

"They are doing everything they can for him. Why, don't, poor Aunt
Cynthia!"

"His eyes, they said--"

"I hope he will come out all right. Don't, dear Aunt Cynthia."  The
young man put his arm around his aunt and spoke soothingly, blushing
like a girl before this sudden revelation of an under-stratum of
delicacy in a woman's heart.

Cynthia lost control of herself completely; or, rather, the true
self of her rose uppermost, shattering the surface ice of her
reserve. "Oh," she said--"oh, if he--if he is--blind, if he
is--I--I--will lead him everywhere all the rest of his life; I will,
Robert."

"Of course you will, dear Aunt Cynthia," replied Robert, soothingly.

Suddenly Cynthia's face took on a new expression. She looked at
Robert, deadly pale, and her jaw dropped. "He will not--die," she
said, with stiff lips. "It is not as bad as that?"

"Oh no, no; I am sure he will not," Robert cried, wonderingly and
pityingly. "Don't, Aunt Cynthia."

"If he dies," she said--"if he dies--and he has loved me all this
time, and I have never done anything for him--I cannot bear it; I
will not bear it; I will not, Robert!"

"Oh, he isn't going to die, Aunt Cynthia."

"I want to go to him," she said. "I _will_ go to him."

Robert looked helplessly from her to Fanny. "I am afraid you can't
just now, Aunt Cynthia," he replied.

Fanny came resolutely to his assistance. "Of course you can't, Miss
Lennox," she said. "The doctors won't let you see him now. You would
do him more harm than good. You don't want to do him harm!"

"No, I don't want to do him harm," returned Cynthia, in a wailing,
hysterical voice. She threw herself down upon a sofa and began
sobbing like a child, with her face hidden.

A young doctor entered and stood looking at her.

Robert turned to him. "It is my aunt, and she is agitated over Mr.
Risley's accident," he said, coloring a little.

Instantly the young physician's face lost its expression of
astonishment and assumed the soothing gloss of his profession. "Oh,
my dear Miss Lennox," he said, "there is no cause for agitation, I
assure you. Everything is being done for Mr. Risley."

"Will he be blind?" gasped Cynthia, with a great vehemence of woe,
which seemed to gainsay the fact of her years. It seemed as if such
an outburst of emotion could come only from a child all unacquainted
with grief and unable to control it.

The young doctor laughed blandly. "Blind? No, indeed," he replied.
"He might have been blind had this happened twenty-five years ago,
but with the resources of the present day it is a different matter.
Pray don't alarm yourself, dear Miss Lennox."

"Can you call a carriage for my aunt?" asked Robert. He went close
to Cynthia and laid a hand on her slender shoulder. "I am going to
have a carriage come for you, and perhaps Mrs. Brewster will be
willing to go home with you in it."

"Of course I will," replied Fanny.

"You hear what Dr. Payson says, that there is nothing to be alarmed
about," Robert said, in a low voice, with his lips close to his
aunt's ear.

Cynthia made no resistance, but when the carriage arrived, and she
was being driven off, with Fanny by her side, she called out of the
window with a fierce shamelessness of anxiety, "Robert, you must
come and tell me how he is this afternoon, or I shall come back here
and see him myself."

"Yes, I will, Aunt Cynthia," he replied, soothingly. He met the
doctor's curious eyes when he turned. The young man had a gossiping
mind, but he forbore to say what he thought, which was to the effect
that--why under the heavens, if that woman cared as much as that for
that man, she had not married him, instead of letting him dangle
after her so many years? But he merely said:

"There is no use in saying anything to excite a woman further
when she is in such a state of mind, but--"  Then he paused
significantly.

"You think the chances of his keeping his eyesight are poor?" said
Robert.

"Mighty poor," replied the doctor.

Robert stood still, with his pale, shocked face bent upon the
carpet. He could not seem to comprehend at once the enormity of it
all; his mind was grasping at and trying to assimilate the horrible
fact with an infinite pain.

"Have they got the man that did it?" asked the doctor.

"I don't know. I had to see to poor Risley," replied Robert. "I hope
to God they have."  Then all at once he thought, with keen anxiety,
of Ellen. Who knew what new tragedy had happened? "I must go back to
the factory," he said, hurriedly. "I will be back here in an hour or
so, and see how he is getting on. For Heaven's sake, do all you
can!"

Robert was desperately impatient to be back at the factory. He was
full of vague anxiety about Ellen. He could not forget that the shot
which had hit poor Risley had been meant for her, and he remembered
the look on the man's face as he aimed. He found a carriage at the
street corner, and jumped in, and bade the man drive fast.

When Robert entered the great building, and felt the old vibration
of machinery, he had a curious sensation, one which he had never
before had and which he had not expected. For the first time in his
life he knew what it was to have a complete triumph of his own will
over his fellow-men. He had gotten his own way. All this army of
workmen, all this machinery of labor, was set in motion at his
desire, in opposition to their own. He realized himself a leader and
a conqueror. He went into the office, and Flynn and Dennison came
forward, smiling, to greet him.

"Well," said Dennison, "we're off again."  He spoke as if the
factory were a ship which had been launched from a shoal.

"Yes," replied Robert, gravely.

Nellie Stone, at the desk, was glancing around, with a half-shy,
half-coquettish look.

"How is Mr. Risley?" asked Flynn.

"He is badly hurt," replied Robert. "Have they found the man? Do you
know what has been done about it?"

"They've got all the police force of the city out," replied Flynn,
"but it's no use. They'll never catch Amos Lee. His mother was a
gypsy, I've always heard. He knows about a thousand ways out of
traps, and there's plenty to help him. They've got Dixon under
arrest, and Tom Peel; but they didn't have any fire-arms on 'em, and
they can't prove anything. Peel says he's ready to go back to work."
 Flynn had a somewhat seedy and downcast appearance, although he
fought hard for his old jaunty manner. His impulsive good-nature had
gotten the better of his judgment and his own wishes, and he had
gone to Mamie Brady and offered to marry her out of hand if she
recovered from her attempted suicide. The night before he had
watched, turn and turn about, with her mother. He gave a curious
effect of shamefaced and melancholy virtue. He followed Robert to
one side when he was hanging up his hat and coat. "I'm going to tell
you, Mr. Lloyd," he said, rather awkwardly; "maybe you won't be
interested in the midst of all this, but it all came from the
strike. She's better this morning, and I'm going to marry her, poor
girl."

Robert looked at him in a dazed fashion. For a moment he had not the
slightest idea what he was talking about.

"I'm going to marry Mamie Brady," explained Flynn. "She took
laudanum. It all happened on account of the strike. I'll own I'd
been flirting some with her, but she'd never done it if she hadn't
been out of work, too. She said so. Her mother made her life a hell.
I'm going to marry her, and take her out of it."

"It's mighty good of you," Robert said, rather stupidly.

"There ain't no other way for me to do," replied Flynn. "She thinks
the world of me, and I suppose I'm to blame."

"I hope she'll make you a good wife and you'll be happy," said
Robert.

"She thinks all creation of me," replied Flynn, with the simplest
vanity and acquiescence in the responsibility laid upon him in the
world. "That shot wasn't meant for Mr. Risley," said Flynn, as
Robert approached the office door. His eyes flashed. He himself
would gladly have been shot for the sake of Ellen Brewster. He was
going to marry, and try to fulfill his simple code of honor, but all
his life he would be married to one woman, with another ideal in his
heart; that was inevitable.

"I know it wasn't," Robert replied, grimly.

"Everything is quiet now," said Dennison, with his smooth smile.
Robert made no reply, but entered the great work-room. "He's mighty
stand-offish, now he's got his own way," Dennison remarked in a
whisper to Nellie Stone. He leaned closely over her. Flynn had
followed Robert. The girl glanced up at the foreman, who was
unmarried, although years older than she, and her face quivered a
little, but it seemed due to a surface sensitiveness.

"I want to know if you've heard that Ed is going to marry Mamie
Brady, after all," she whispered.

Dennison nodded.

She knitted her forehead over a column of figures. Dennison leaned
his face so close that his blond-bearded cheek touched hers. She
made a little impatient motion.

"Oh, go long, Jim Dennison," she said, but her tone was
half-hearted.

Dennison persisted, bending her head gently backward until he kissed
her. She pushed him away, but she smiled weakly.

"You didn't want Ed Flynn. Why, he's a Roman Catholic, and you're
Baptist, Nell," he said.

"Who said I did?" she retorted, angrily. "Why, I wouldn't marry Ed
Flynn if he was the last man in the world."

"You'd 'nough sight better marry me," said Dennison.

"Go along; you're fooling."

"No, I ain't. I mean it, honest."

"I don't want to marry anybody yet awhile," said Nellie Stone; but
when Dennison kissed her again she did not repulse him, and even
nestled her head with a little caressing motion into the hollow of
his shoulder.

Then they both started violently apart as Flynn entered.

"Say!" he proclaimed, "what do you think? The boss has just told the
hands that he'll split the difference and reduce the wages five
instead of ten per cent."



Chapter LIX


When Robert Lloyd entered the factory that morning he experienced
one of those revulsions which come to man in common with all
creation. As the wind can swerve from south to east, and its
swerving be a part of the universal scheme of things, so the
inconsistency of a human soul can be an integral part of its
consistency. Robert, entering Lloyd's, flushed with triumph over his
workmen, filled also with rage whenever he thought of poor Risley,
became suddenly, to all appearances, another man. However, he was
the same man, only he had come under some hidden law of growth. All
at once, as he stood there amidst those whirring and clamping
machines, and surveyed those bowed and patient backs and swaying
arms of labor, standing aside to allow a man bending before a heavy
rack of boots to push it to another department, he realized that his
triumph was gone.

Not a man or woman in the factory looked at him. All continued
working with a sort of patient fierceness, as if storming a
citadel--as, indeed, they were in one sense--and waging incessant
and in the end hopeless warfare against the destructive forces of
life. Robert stood in the midst of them, these fellow-beings who had
bowed to his will, and saw, as if by some divine revelation, in his
foes his brothers and sisters. He saw Ellen's fair head before her
machine, and she seemed the key-note of a heart-breaking yet
ineffable harmony of creation which he heard for the first time. He
was a man whom triumph did not exalt as much as it humiliated. Who
was he to make these men and women do his bidding? They were working
as hard as they had worked for full pay. Without doubt he would not
gain as much comparatively, but he was going to lose nothing
actually, and he would not work as these men worked. He saw himself
as he never could have seen himself had the strike continued; and
yet, after all, he was not a woman, to be carried away by a sudden
wave of generous sentiment and enthusiasm, for his business
instincts were too strong, inherited and developed by the force of
example. He could not forget that this had been his uncle's factory.

He shut his mouth hard, and stood looking at the scene of toil, then
he resolved what to do.

He spoke to Flynn, who could not believe his ears, and asked him
over.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said.

"Go and speak to the engineer, and tell him to shut down," said
Robert.

"You ain't going to turn them out, after all?" gasped Flynn. He was
deadly white.

"No, I am not. I only want to speak to them," replied Robert,
shortly.

When the roar of machinery had ceased, Robert stood before the
employés, whose faces had taken on an expression of murder and
menace. They anticipated the worst by this order.

"I want to say to you all," said Robert, in a loud, clear voice,
"that I realize it will be hard for you to make both ends meet with
the cut of ten per cent. I will make it five instead of ten per
cent., although I shall actually lose by so doing unless business
improves. I will, however, try it as long as possible. If the hard
times continue, and it becomes a sheer impossibility for me to
employ you on these terms without abandoning the plant altogether, I
will approach you again, and trust that you will support me in any
measures I am forced to take. And, on the contrary, should business
improve, I promise that your wages shall be raise to the former
standard at once."

The speech was so straightforward that it sounded almost boyish.
Robert, indeed, looked very young as he stood there, for a generous
and pitying impulse does tend to make a child of a man. The workmen
stared at him a minute, then there was a queer little broken chorus
of "Thank ye's," with two or three shrill crows of cheers.

Robert went from room to room, repeating his short speech, then work
recommenced.

"He's the right sort, after all," said Granville Joy to John
Sargent, and his tone had a quality of heroism in it. He was very
thin and pale. He had suffered privations, and now came additional
worry of mind. He could not help thinking that this might bring
about an understanding between Robert and Ellen, and yet he paid his
spiritual dues at any cost.

"It's no more than he ought to do," growled a man at Granville's
right. "S'pose he does lose a little money?"

"It ain't many out of the New Testament that are going to lose a
little for the sake of their fellow-men, I can tell you that," said
John Sargent. He was cutting away deftly and swiftly, and thinking
with satisfaction of the money which he would be able to send his
sister, and also how the Atkins family would be no longer so
pinched. He was a man who would never come under the grindstone of
the pessimism of life for his own necessities, but lately the
necessities of others had almost forced him there. Now and then he
glanced across the room at Maria, whose narrow shoulders he could
see bent painfully over her work. He was in love with Maria, but no
one suspected it, least of all Maria herself.

"Lord! don't talk about the New Testament. Them days is past,"
growled the man on the other side of Joy.

"They ain't past for me," said John Sargent, stoutly. A dark flush
rose to his cheek as if he were making a confession of love.

"Lord! don't preach," said the other man, with a sneer.

Ellen had stopped work with the rest when Robert addressed them.
Then she recommenced her stitching without a word. Her thoughts were
in confusion. She had so long held one attitude towards him that she
could not readily adjust herself to another. She was cramped with
the extreme narrowness of the enthusiasm of youth. At noontime she
heard all the talk which went on about him. She heard some praise
him, and some speak of him as simply doing his manifest duty, and
some say openly that he should have put the wages back upon the
former footing, and she did not know which was right. He did not
come near her, and she was very glad of that. She felt that she
could not bear it to have him speak to her before them all.

When she went home at night the news had preceded her. Fanny and
Andrew looked up eagerly when she entered. "I hear he has
compromised," said Andrew, with doubtful eyes on the girl's face.

"Yes; he has cut the wages five instead of ten per cent.," replied
Ellen, and it was impossible to judge of her feelings by her voice.
She took off her hat and smoothed her hair.

"Well, I am glad he has done that much," said Fanny, "but I won't
say a word as long as you ain't hurt."

With that she went into the kitchen, and Ellen and Andrew heard the
dishes rattle. "Your mother's been dreadful nervous," whispered
Andrew. He looked at Ellen meaningly. Both of them thought of poor
Eva Tenny. Lately the reports with regard to her had been more
encouraging, but she was still in the asylum.

Suddenly, as they stood there, a swift shadow passed the window, and
they heard a shrill scream from up-stairs. It sounded like "Mamma,
mamma!"  "It's Amabel!" cried Ellen. She clutched her father by the
arm. "Oh, what is it--who is it?" she whispered, fearfully.

Andrew was suddenly white and horror-stricken. He took hold of
Ellen, and pushed her forcibly before him into the parlor. "You stay
in there till I call you," he said, in a commanding voice, the like
of which the girl had never heard from him before; then he shut the
door, and she heard the key turn in the lock.

"Father, I can't stay in here," cried Ellen. She ran towards the
other door into the front hall, but before she could reach it she
heard the key turn in that also. Andrew was convinced that Eva had
escaped from the asylum, and thus made sure of Ellen's safety in
case she was violent. Then he rushed out into the kitchen, and there
was Amabel clinging to her mother like a little wild thing, and
Fanny weeping aloud.

When Andrew entered Fanny flew to him. "O Andrew--O Andrew!" she
cried. "Eva's come out! She's well! she's cured! She's as well as
anybody! She is! She says so, and I know she is! Only look at her!"

"Mamma, mamma!" gasped Amabel, in a strange, little, pent voice,
which did not sound like a child's. There was something fairly
inhuman about it. "Mamma," as she said it, did not sound like a word
in any known language. It was like a cry of universal childhood for
its parent. Amabel clung to her mother, not only with her slender
little arms, but with her legs and breast and neck; all her slim
body became as a vine with tendrils of love and growth around her
mother.

As for Eva, she could not have enough of her. She was intoxicated
with the possession of this little creature of her own flesh and
blood.

"She's grown; she's grown so tall," she said, in a high, panting
voice. It was all she could seem to realize--the fact that the child
had grown so tall--and it filled her at once with ineffable pain and
delight. She held the little thing so close to her that the two
seemed fairly one. "Mamma, mamma!" said Amabel again.

"She has--grown so tall," panted Eva.

Fanny went up to her and tried gently to loosen her grasp of the
little girl. In her heart she was not yet quite sure of her. This
fierceness of delight began to alarm her. "Of course she has grown
tall, Eva Tenny," she said. "It's quite a while since you
were--taken sick."

"I ain't sick now," said Eva, in a steady voice. "I'm cured now. The
doctors say so. You needn't be afraid, Fanny Brewster."

"Mamma, mamma!" said Amabel. Eva bent down and kissed the little,
delicate face; then she looked at her sister and at Andrew, and her
own countenance seemed fairly illuminated. "I 'ain't _told_ you
all," said she. Then she stopped and hesitated.

"What is it, Eva?" asked Fanny, looking at her with increasing
courage. The tears were streaming openly down her cheeks. "Oh, you
poor girl, what have you been through?" she said. "What is it?"

"I 'ain't got to go through anything more," said Eva, still with
that rapt look over Amabel's little, fair head. "He's--come back."

"Eva Tenny!"

"Yes, he has," Eva went on, with such an air of inexpressible
triumph that it had almost a religious quality in it. "He has. He
left her a long time ago. He--he wanted to come back to me and
Amabel, but he was ashamed, but finally he came to the asylum, and
then it all rolled off, all the trouble. The doctors said I had been
getting better, but they didn't know. It was--Jim's comin' back.
He's took me home, and I've come for Amabel, and--he's got a job in
Lloyd's, and he's bought me this new hat and cape."  Eva flirted her
free arm, and a sweep of jetted silk gleamed, then she tossed her
head consciously to display a hat with a knot of pink roses. Then
she kissed Amabel again. "Mamma's come back," she whispered.

"Mamma, mamma!" cried Amabel.

Andrew and Fanny looked at each other.

"Where is he?" asked Andrew, in a slow, halting voice.

Eva glanced from one to the other defiantly. "He's outside, waitin'
in the road," said she; "but he ain't comin' in unless you treat him
just the same as ever. I've set my veto on that."  Eva's voice and
manner as she said that were so unmistakably her own that all
Fanny's doubt of her sanity vanished. She sobbed aloud.

"O God, I'm so thankful! She's come home, and she's all right! O
God, I'm so thankful!"

"What about Jim?" asked Eva, with her old, proud, defiant look.

"Of course he's comin' in," sobbed Fanny. "Andrew, you go--"

But Andrew had already gone, unlocking the parlor door on his way.
"It's your aunt Eva, Ellen," he said as he passed. "She's come home
cured, and your uncle Jim is out in the yard, and I'm goin' to call
him in. I guess you'd better go out and see her."



Chapter LX


Lloyd's had been running for two months, and spring had fairly
begun. It was a very forward season. The elms were leafed out, the
cherry and peach blossoms had fallen, and the apple-trees were in
full flower. There were many orchards around Rowe. The little city
was surrounded with bowing garlands of tenderest white and rose, the
well-kept lawns in the city limits were like velvet, and
golden-spiked bushes and pink trails of flowering almond were beside
the gates. Lilacs also, flushed with rose, purpled the walls of old
houses. One morning Ellen, on her way to the factory, had for the
first time that year a realization of the full presence of the
spring. All at once she knew the goddess to be there in her whole
glory.

"Spring has really come," she said to Abby. As she spoke she jostled
a great bush of white flowers, growing in a yard close to the
sidewalk, and an overpowering fragrance, like a very retaliation of
sweetness, came in her face.

"Yes," said Abby; "it seems more like spring than it did last night,
somehow!"  Abby had gained flesh, and there was a soft color on her
cheeks, so that she was almost pretty, as she glanced abroad with a
sort of bright gladness and a face ready with smiles. Maria also
looked in better health than she had done in the winter. She walked
with her arm through Ellen's.

Suddenly a carriage, driven rapidly, passed them, and Cynthia
Lennox's graceful profile showed like a drooping white flower in a
window.

Sadie Peel came up to them with a swift run. "Say!" she said, "know
who that was?"

"We've got eyes," replied Abby Atkins, shortly.

"Who said you hadn't? You needn't be so up an' comin', Abby Atkins;
I didn't know as you knew they were married, that's all. I just
heard it from Lottie Snell, whose sister works at the dressmaker's
that made the wedding fix. Weddin' fix! My land! Think of a weddin'
without a white dress and a veil! All she had was a gray silk and a
black velvet, and a black lace, and a travellin'-dress!"

Abby Atkins eyed the other girl sharply, her curiosity getting the
better of her dislike. "Who did she marry?" said she, shortly. "I
suppose she didn't marry the black velvet, or the lace, or the
travelling-dress. That's all you seem to think about."

"I _thought_ you didn't know," replied Sadie Peel, in a tone of
triumph. "They've kept it mighty still, and he's been goin' there so
long, ever since anybody can remember, that they didn't think it was
anything more now than it had been right along. Lyman Risley and
Cynthia Lennox have just got married, and they've gone down to Old
Point Comfort. My land, it's nice to have money, if you be half
blind!"

Ellen looked after the retreating carriage, and made no comment.

She was pale and thin, and moved with a certain languor, although
she held up her head proudly, and when people asked if she were not
well, answered quickly that she had never been better. Robert had
not been to see her yet. She had furtively watched for him a long
time, then she had given it up. She would not acknowledge to herself
or any one else that she was not well or was troubled in spirit. Her
courage was quite equal to the demand upon it, yet always she was
aware of a peculiar sensitiveness to all happenings, whether
directly concerned with herself or not, which made life an agony to
her, and she knew that her physical strength was not what it had
been. Only that morning she had looked at her face in the glass, and
had seen how it was altered. The lovely color was gone from her
cheeks, there were little, faint, downward lines about her mouth,
and, more than that, out of her blue eyes looked the eternal,
unanswerable question of humanity, "Where is my happiness?"

It seemed to her when she first set out that she could not walk to
the factory. That sense of the full presence of the spring seemed to
overpower her. All the revelation of beauty and sweetness seemed a
refinement of torture worse to bear than the sight of death and
misery would have been. Every blooming apple-bough seemed to strike
her full on the heart.

"Only look at that bush of red flowers in that yard," Maria said
once, and Ellen looked and was stung by the sight as by the contact
of a red flaming torch of spring. "What ails you, dear; don't you
like those flowers?" Maria said, anxiously.

"Yes, of course I do; I think they are lovely," replied Ellen,
looking.

She looked after the carriage which contained the bridal party; she
thought how the bridegroom had almost lost his eyesight to save her,
and her old adoration of Cynthia seemed to rise to a flood-tide.
Then came the thought of Robert, how he must have ceased to love
her--how some day he would be starting off on a bridal trip of his
own. Maud Hemingway, with whom she had often coupled him in her
thoughts, seemed to start up before her, all dressed in bridal
white. It seemed to her that she could not bear it all. She
continued walking, but she did not feel the ground beneath her feet,
nor even Maria's little, clinging fingers of tenderness on her arm.
She became to her own understanding like an instrument which is
played upon with such results of harmonies and discords that all
sense of the mechanism is lost.

"Well, Ellen Brewster," said Sadie Peel, in her loud, strident
voice, "I guess you wouldn't have been walkin' along here quite so
fine this mornin' if it hadn't been for Mr. Risley. You'd ought to
send him a weddin'-present--a spoon, or something."

"Shut up," said Abby Atkins; "Ellen has worried herself sick over
him as it is."  She eyed Ellen anxiously as she spoke. Maria clung
more closely to her.

"Shut up yourself, Abby Atkins," returned Sadie Peel. "He's got a
wife to lead him around, and I don't see much to worry about. A
great weddin'! My goodness, if I don't get married when I'm young
enough to wear a white dress and veil, catch me gettin' married at
all!"

Sadie Peel sped on with her news to a group of girls ahead, and the
wheels of the carriage flashed out of sight in the spring sunlight.
It was quite true that Risley and Cynthia had been married that
morning. He had not entirely lost his vision, although it would
always be poor, and he would live happily, although in a measure
disappointedly, feeling that his partial helplessness was his chief
claim upon his wife's affection. He had gotten what he had longed
for for so many years, but by means which tended to his humiliation
instead of his pride. But Cynthia was radiant. In caring for her
half-blind husband she attained the spiritual mountain height of her
life. She possessed love in the one guise in which he appealed to
her, and she held him fast to the illumination of her very soul.

After the carriage had passed out of sight Abby came close on the
other side of Ellen and slid her arm through hers. "Say!" she began.

"What is it?" asked Ellen.

Abby blushed. "Oh, nothing much," she replied, in a tone unusual for
her. She took her arm away from Ellen's, and laughed a little
foolishly.

Ellen stared at her with grave wonder. She had not the least idea
what she meant.

Abby changed the subject. "Going to the park opening to-night,
Ellen?" she asked.

"No, I guess not."

"You'd better. Do go, Ellen."

"Yes, do go, Ellen; it will do you good," said Maria. She looked
into Ellen's face with the inexpressibly pure love of one innocent
girl for another.

The park was a large grove of oaks and birch-trees which had
recently been purchased by the street railway company of Rowe, and
it was to be used for the free entertainment of the people, with an
undercurrent of consideration for the financial profit of the
company.

"I'm afraid I can't go," said Ellen.

"Yes, you can; it will do you good; you look like a ghost this
morning," said Abby.

"Do go, Ellen," pleaded Maria.

However, Ellen would not have gone had it not been for a whisper of
Abby's as they came out of the factory that night.

"Look here, Ellen, you'd better go," said she, "just to show folks.
That Sadie Peel asked me this noon if it was true that you had
something on your mind, and was worrying about--well, you know
what--that made you look so."

Ellen flushed an angry red. "I'll stop for you and Maria to-night,"
she answered, quickly.

"All right," Abby replied, heartily; "we'll go on the eight-o'clock
car."

Ellen hurried home, and changed her dress after supper, putting on
her new green silk waist and her spring hat, which was trimmed with
roses. When she went down-stairs, and told her mother where she was
going, she started up.

"I declare, I'd go too if your father had come home," she said. "I
don't know when I've been anywhere; and Eva was in this afternoon
and said that she and Jim were going."

"I wonder where father is?" said Ellen, uneasily. "I don't know as I
ought to go till he comes home."

"Oh, stuff!" replied Fanny. "He's stopped to talk at the store. Oh,
here he is now. Andrew Brewster, where in the world have you been?"
she began as he entered; but his mother was following him, and
something in their faces stopped her. Fanny Brewster had lived for
years with this man, but never before had she seen his face with
just that expression of utter, unreserved joy; although joy was
scarcely the word for it, for it was more than that. It was the look
of a man who has advanced to his true measure of growth, and
regained self-respect which he had lost. All the abject bend of his
aging back, all the apologetic patience of his outlook, was gone.
She stared at him, hardly believing her eyes. She was as frightened
as if he had looked despairing instead of joyful. "Andrew Brewster,
what is it?" she asked. She tried to smile, to echo the foolish
width of grimace on his face, but her lips were too stiff.

Ellen looked at him, trembling, and very white under her knot of
roses. Andrew held out a paper and tried to speak, but he could not.

"For God's sake, what is it?" gasped Fanny.

Then Mrs. Zelotes spoke. "That old mining-stock has come up," said
she, in a harsh voice. "He'd never ought to have bought it. I should
have told him better if he had asked me, but it's come up, and it's
worth considerable more than he paid for it. I've just been down to
Mrs. Pointdexter's, and Lawyer Samson was in there seeing her about
a bond she's got that's run out, and he says the mine's going to pay
dividends, and for Andrew to hold on to part of it, anyhow. I bought
this paper, and it's in it. He never ought to have bought it, but
it's come up. I hope it will learn him a lesson. He's had enough
trouble over it."

Nothing could exceed the mixture of recrimination and exultation
with which the old woman spoke. She eyed Fanny accusingly; she
looked at Andrew with grudging triumph. "Lawyer Samson says it will
make him rich, he guesses; at any rate, he'll come out whole," said
she. "I hope it will learn you a lesson."

Andrew dropped into a chair. His face was distended with a foolish
smile like a baby's. He seemed to smile at all creation. He looked
at his wife and Ellen; then his face again took on its expression of
joyful vacuity.

Fanny went close to him and laid a firm hand on his shoulder. "You
'ain't had a mite of supper, Andrew Brewster," said she; "come right
out and have something to eat."

Andrew shook his head, still smiling. His wife and daughter looked
at him alarmedly, then at each other. Then his mother went behind
him, laid a hard, old hand on each shoulder, and shook him.

"If you _have_ got a streak of luck, there's no need of your actin'
like a fool about it, Andrew Brewster," said she. "Go out and eat
your supper, and behave yourself, and let it be a lesson to you.
There you had worked and saved that little money you had in the
bank, and you bought an old mine with it, and it might have turned
out there wasn't a thing in it, no mine at all, and there was. Just
let it be a lesson to you, that's all; and go out and eat your
supper, and don't be too set up over it."

Andrew looked at his wife and mother and daughter, still with that
expression of joy, so unreserved that it was almost idiotic. They
had all stood by him loyally; he had their fullest sympathy; but had
one of them fully understood? Not one of them could certainly
understand what was then passing in his mind, which had been
straitened by grief and self-reproach, and was now expanding to hold
its full measure of joy. That poor little sum in the bank, that
accumulation of his hard earnings, which he had lost through his own
bad judgment, had meant much more than itself to him, both in its
loss and its recovery. It was more than money; it was the value of
money in the current coin of his own self-respect.

His mother shook him again, but rather gently. "Get up this minute,
and go out and eat your supper," said she; "and then I don't see why
you can't go with Fanny and me to the park opening. They say lots of
folks are goin', and there's goin' to be fireworks. It'll distract
your mind. It ain't safe for anybody to dwell too much on good luck
any more than on misfortune. Go right out and eat your supper; it's
most time for the car."

Andrew obeyed.



Chapter LXI


The new park, which had been named, in honor of the president of the
street railway company, Clemens Park, was composed of a light growth
of oak and birch trees. With the light of the full moon, like a
broadside of silvery arrows, and the frequent electric-lights
filtering through the young, delicate foliage, it was much more
effective than a grove of pine or hemlock would have been.

When the people streamed into it from the crowded electric-cars,
there were exclamations of rapture. Women and girls fairly shrieked
with delight. The ground, which had been entirely cleared of
undergrowth, was like an etching in clearest black and white, of the
tender dancing foliage of the oaks and birches. The birches stood
together in leaning, white-limbed groups like maidens, and the
rustling spread of the oaks shed broad flashes of silver from the
moon. In the midst of the grove the Hungarian orchestra played in a
pavilion, and dancing was going on there. Many of the people outside
moved with dancing steps. Children in swings flew through the airs
with squeals of delight. There was a stand for the sale of ice-cream
and soda, and pretty girls blossomed like flowers behind the
counters. There were various rustic adornments, such as seats and
grottos, and at one end of the grove was a small collection of wild
animals in cages, and a little artificial pond with swans. Now and
then, above the chatter of the people and the music of the
orchestra, sounded the growl of a bear or the shrill screech of a
paroquet, and the people all stopped and listened and laughed. This
little titillation of the unusual in the midst of their sober walk
of life affected them like champagne. Most of them were of the
poorer and middle classes, the employés of the factories of Rowe.
They moved back and forth with dancing steps of exultation.

"My, ain't it beautiful!" Fanny said, squeezing Andrew's arm. He had
his wife on one arm, his mother on the other. For him the whole
scene appeared more than it really was, since it reflected the joy
of his own soul. There was for him a light greater than that of the
moon or electricity upon it--that extreme light of the world--the
happiness of a human being who blesses in a moment of prosperity the
hour he was born. He knew for the first time in his life that
happiness is as true as misery, and no mere creation of a fairy
tale. No trees of the Garden of Eden could have outshone for him
those oaks and birches. No gold or precious stones of any mines on
earth can equal the light of the little star of happiness in one
human soul.

Fanny, as they walked along, kept looking at her husband, and her
own face was transfigured. Mrs. Zelotes, also, seemed to radiate
with a sort of harsh and prickly delight. She descanted upon the
hard-earned savings which Andrew had risked, but she held her old
head very high with reluctant joy, and her bonnet had a rakish cant.

Ellen, with Abby and Maria, walked behind them.

Presently Andrew met another man who had also purchased stock in the
mine, and stopped to exchange congratulations. The man's face was
flushed, as if he had been drinking, but he had not. On his arm hung
his wife, a young woman with a showy red waist and some pink ribbon
bows on her hat. She was teetering a little in time to the music,
while a little girl clung to her skirts and teetered also.

"Well, old man," said the new-comer, with a hoarse sound in his
throat, "they needn't talk to us any more, need they?"

"That's so," replied Andrew, but his joy in prosperity was not like
the other man's. It placed him heights above him, although from the
same cause. Prosperity means one thing to one man, and another to
his brother.

Presently they met Jim Tenny and Eva and Amabel. They were walking
three abreast, Amabel in the middle. Jim Tenny looked hesitatingly
at them, although his face was widened with irrepressible smiles.
Eva gazed at them with defiant radiance. "Well," said she, "so luck
has turned?"

Amabel laughed out, and her laugh trilled high with a note of
silver, above the chatter of the crowd and the blare and rhythmic
trill of the orchestra. "I've had an ice-cream, and I'm going to
have a new doll and a doll-carriage," said she. "Oh, Ellen!"  She
left her father and mother for a second and clung to Ellen, kissing
her; then she was back.

"Well, Andrew?" said Jim. He had a shamed face, yet there was
something brave in it struggling for expression.

"Well, Jim?" said Andrew.

The two shook hands solemnly. Then they walked on together, and the
sisters behind, with Amabel clinging to her mother's hand. "Jim's
goin' to work if he _has_ had a little windfall," said Eva, proudly.
"Oh, Fanny, only think what it means!"

"I hope it will be a lesson to both of them," said Mrs. Zelotes,
stalking along after, but she smiled harshly.

"Oh, land, don't croak, if you've got a chance to laugh! There's few
enough chances in this world," cried Eva, with boisterous good
humor. "As for me, I've come out of deep waters, and I'm goin' to
take what comfort I can in the feel of the solid ground under my
feet."  She began to force Amabel into a dance in time with the
music, and the child shrieked with laughter.

"S'pose she's all right?" whispered Mrs. Zelotes to Fanny.

"Land, yes," replied Fanny; "it's just like her, just the way she
used to do. It makes me surer than anything else that she's cured."

The girls behind were loitering. Abby turned to Ellen and pointed to
a rustic seat under a clump of birches.

"Let's sit down there a minute, Ellen," said she.

"All right," replied Ellen. When she and Abby seated themselves,
Maria withdrew, standing aloof under an oak, looking up at the
illumined spread of branches with the rapt, innocent expression of a
saint.

"Why don't you come and sit down with us, Maria?" Ellen called.

"In a minute," replied Maria, in her weak, sweet voice. Then John
Sargent came up and joined her.

"She'll come in a minute," Abby said to Ellen. "She--she--knows I
want to tell you something."

Abby hesitated. Ellen regarded her with wonder.

"Look here, Ellen," said Abby; "I don't know what you're going to
think of me after all I've said, but--I'm going to get married to
Willy Jones. His mother has had a little money left her, and she
owns the house clear now, and I'm going to keep right on working;
and--I never thought I would, Ellen, you know; but I've come to
think lately that all you can get out of labor in this world is the
happiness it brings you, and--the love. That's more than the money,
and--he wants me pretty bad. I suppose you think I'm awful, Ellen
Brewster."  Abby spoke with triumph, yet with shame. She dug her
little toe into the shadow-mottled ground.

"Oh, Abby, I hope you'll be real happy," said Ellen. Then she choked
a little.

"I've made up my mind not to work for nothing," said Abby; "I've
made up my mind to get whatever work is worth in this world if I
can, and--to get it for him too."

"I hope you will be very happy," said Ellen again.

"There he is now," whispered Abby. She rose as Willy Jones
approached, laughing confusedly. "I've been telling Ellen Brewster,"
said Abby, with her perfunctory air.

Ellen held out her hand, and Willy Jones grasped it, then let it
drop and muttered something. He looked with helpless adoration at
Abby, who put her hand through his arm reassuringly.

"Let's go and see the animals," said she; "I haven't seen the
animals."

"I guess I'll go and see if I can find my father and mother,"
returned Ellen. "I want to see my mother about something."

"Oh, come with us."  Abby grasped Ellen firmly around the waist and
kissed her. "I don't love him a mite better than I do you," she
whispered; "so there! You needn't think you're left out, Ellen
Brewster."

"I don't," replied Ellen. She tried to laugh, but she felt her lips
stiff. And unconquerable feeling of desolation was coming over her,
and in spite of herself her tone was somewhat like that of a child
who sees another with all the cake.

"I suppose you know Floretta got married last night," said Abby,
moving off with Willy Jones. John Sargent and Maria had long since
disappeared from under the oak.

Ellen, left alone, looked for a minute after Abby and Willy, and
noted the tender lean of the girl's head towards the young man's
shoulder; then she started off to find her father and mother. She
could not rid herself of the sense of desolation. She felt blindly
that if she could not get under the shelter of her own loves of life
she could not bear it any longer. She had borne up bravely under
Robert's neglect, but now all at once, with the sight of the
happiness of these others before her eyes, it seemed to crush her.
All the spirit in her seemed to flag and faint. She was only a young
girl, who would fall to the ground and be slain by the awful law of
gravitation of the spirit without love. "Anyway, I've got father and
mother," she said to herself.

She rushed on alone through the merry crowd. The orchestra was
playing a medley. The violins seemed to fairly pierce thought. A
Roman-candle burst forth on the right with a great spluttering, and
the people, shrieking with delight, rushed in that direction. Then a
rocket shot high in the air with a splendid curve, and there was a
sea of faces watching with speechless admiration the dropping stars
of violet and gold and rose.

Ellen kept on, moving as nearly as she could in the direction in
which her party had gone. Then suddenly she came face to face with
Robert Lloyd.

She would have passed him without a word, but he stood before her.

"Won't you speak to me?" he asked.

"Good-evening, Mr. Lloyd," returned Ellen.

Then she tried to move on again, but Robert still stood before her.

"I want to say something to you," he said, in a low voice. "I was
coming to your house to-night, but I saw you on the car. Please come
to that seat over there. There is nobody in that direction. They
will all go towards the fireworks now."

Ellen looked at him hesitatingly. At that moment she seemed to throw
out protecting antennæ of maidenliness; and, besides, there was
always the memory of the cut in wages, for which she still judged
him; and then there was the long neglect.

"Please come," said Robert. He looked at her at once like a
conqueror and a pleading child. Ellen placed her hand on his arm,
and they went to the seat under the clump of birches. They were
quite alone, for the whole great company was streaming towards the
fireworks. A fiery wheel was revolving in the distance, and rockets
shot up, dropping showers of stars. Ellen gazed at them without
seeing them at all.

Robert, seated beside her, looked at her earnestly. "I am going to
put back the wages on the old basis to-morrow," he said.

Ellen made no reply.

"Business has so improved that I feel justified in doing so," said
Robert. His tone was almost apologetic. Never as long as he lived
would he be able to look at such matters from quite the same
standpoint as that of the girl beside him. She knew that, and yet
she loved him. She never would get his point of view, and yet he
loved her. "I have waited until I was able to do that before
speaking to you again," said Robert. "I knew how you felt about the
wage-cutting. I thought when matters were back on the old basis that
you might feel differently towards me. God knows I have been sorry
enough for it all, and I am glad enough to be able to pay them full
wages again. And now, dear?"

"It has been a long time," said Ellen, looking at her little hands,
clasped in her lap.

"I have loved you all the time, and I have only waited for that,"
said Robert.


Later on Robert and Ellen joined Fanny and the others. It was
scarcely the place to make an announcement. After a few words of
greeting the young couple walked off together, and left the
Brewsters and Tennys and Mrs. Zelotes standing on the outskirts of
the crowd watching the fireworks. Granville Joy stood near them. He
had looked at Robert and Ellen with a white face, then he turned
again towards the fireworks with a gentle, heroic expression. He
caught up Amabel that she might see the set piece which was just
being put up. "Now you can see, Sissy," he said.

Eva looked away from the fireworks after the retreating pair, then
meaningly at Fanny and Andrew. "That's settled," said she.

Andrew's face quivered a little, and took on something of the same
look which Granville Joy's wore. All love is at the expense of love,
and calls for heroes.

"It'll be a great thing for her," said Fanny, in his ear; "it'll be
a splendid thing for her, you know that, Andrew."

Andrew gazed after the nodding roses on Ellen's hat vanishing
towards the right. Another rocket shot up, and the people cried out,
and watched the shower of stars with breathless enjoyment. Andrew
saw their upturned faces, in which for the while toil and trial were
blotted out by that delight in beauty and innocent pleasure of the
passing moment which is, for human souls, akin to the refreshing
showers for flowers of spring; and to him, since his own vision was
made clear by his happiness, came a mighty realization of it all,
which was beyond it all. Another rocket described a wonderful golden
curve of grace, then a red light lit all the watching people. Andrew
looked for Ellen and Robert, and saw the girl's beautiful face
turning backward over her lover's shoulder. All his life Andrew had
been a reader of the Bible, as had his father and mother before him.
To-day, ever since he had heard of his good fortune, his mind had
dwelt upon certain verses of Ecclesiastes. Now he quoted from them.
"Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the
life of thy vanity, which He hath given thee under the sun, all the
days of thy vanity, for that is thy portion in this life and in thy
labor which thou takest under the sun."

Ellen saw her father, and smiled and nodded, then she and her lover
passed out of sight. Another rocket trailed its golden parabola
along the sky, and dropped with stars; there was an ineffably sweet
strain from the orchestra; the illuminated oaks tossed silver and
golden boughs in a gust of fragrant wind. Andrew quoted again from
the old King of Wisdom--"I withheld not my heart from any joy, for
my heart rejoiced in all my labor, and that was my portion of
labor."  Then Andrew thought of the hard winter which had passed, as
all hard things must pass, of the toilsome lives of those beside
him, of all the work which they had done with their poor, knotted
hands, of the tracks which they had worn on the earth towards their
graves, with their weary feet, and suddenly he seemed to grasp a new
and further meaning for that verse of Ecclesiastes.

He seemed to see that labor is not alone for itself, not for what it
accomplishes of the tasks of the world, not for its equivalent in
silver and gold, not even for the end of human happiness and love,
but for the growth in character of the laborer.

"That is the portion of labor," he said. He spoke in a strained,
solemn voice, as he had done before. Nobody heard him except his
wife and mother. His mother gave a sidewise glance at him, then she
folded her cape tightly around her and stared at the fireworks, but
Fanny put her hand through his arm and leaned her cheek against his
shoulder.


THE END





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