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Title: Wayside Courtships
Author: Garland, Hamlin, 1860-1940
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wayside Courtships" ***

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



WAYSIDE COURTSHIPS

BY HAMLIN GARLAND

AUTHOR OF A SPOIL OF OFFICE, A LITTLE NORSK, ETC.

NEW YORK
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
M DCCC XCVII

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Copyright, 1897, by
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

Copyright, 1895, 1896, 1897, by Hamlin Garland

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WAYSIDE COURTSHIPS

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Hamlin Garland's Books.

Uniform edition. Each, 12mo, cloth, $1.25.

Wayside Courtships.
Jason Edwards.
A Spoil of Office.
A Member of the Third House.
A Little Norsk. 16mo. 50 cents.

D. APPLETON & COMPANY, NEW YORK.

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The meeting of true lovers' eyes
Seems wrought of chance; and yet
Perhaps the same grim law abides
Therein as when the dead one lies
Low in the grave, and memory chides,
And with hot tears love's lids are wet.

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CONTENTS.

                                       PAGE

AT THE BEGINNING                          1

A PREACHER'S LOVE STORY                   5

A MEETING IN THE FOOTHILLS               55

A STOP-OVER AT TYRE                      99

AN ALIEN IN THE PINES                   171

THE OWNER OF THE MILL FARM              201

OF THOSE WHO SEEK:

  I.--THE PRISONED SOUL                 223

  II.--A SHELTERED ONE                  226

  III.--A FAIR EXILE                    230

  IV.--THE PASSING STRANGER             247

BEFORE THE LOW GREEN DOOR               253

UPON IMPULSE                            263

THE END OF LOVE IS LOVE OF LOVE         279

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AT THE BEGINNING.

She was in the box; he was far above in the gallery.

He looked down and across and saw her sitting there fair as a flower and
robed like a royal courtesan in flame and snow.

Like a red torch flamed the ruby in her hair. Her shoulders were framed
in her cloak, white as marble warmed with firelight. Her gloved hands
held an opera glass which also glowed with flashing light.

His face grew dark and stern. He looked down at his poor coat and around
at the motley gallery which reeked with the smell of tobacco and liquor.

Students were there--poor like himself, but with great music-loving,
hungry, ambitious souls. Men and women of refinement and indomitable
will sat side by side with drunken loafers who had chanced to stumble up
the stairway.

His eyes went back to her. So sweet and dainty was every thread on her
fair body. No smell of toil, nor touch of care, nor mark of weariness.
Her flesh was ivory, her eyes were jewels, her heart was as clean and
sweet as her eyes. She was perfectly clothed, protected, at ease.

No, not at ease. She seemed restless. Again and again she swept her
glass around the lower balcony.

The man in the gallery knew she was looking for him, and he took a
bitter delight in the distance between them. He waited, calm as a lion
in his power.

The man at her elbow talks on. She does not hear. She is still
looking--a little swifter, a little more anxiously--her red lips ready
to droop in disappointment.

The noise of feet, of falling seats, continues. Boys call shrilly.
Ushers dart hastily to and fro. The soft laughter and hum of talk come
up from below.

She has reached the second balcony. She sweeps it hurriedly. Her
companion raises his eyes to the same balcony and laughs as he speaks.
She colors a little, but smiles as she lifts her eyes to the third
balcony.

Suddenly the glass stops. The color surges up her neck, splashing her
cheeks with red. Her breath stops also for a moment, then returns quick
and strong.

Her smile settles into a curious contraction that is almost painful to
see. His unsmiling eyes are looking somberly, sternly, accusingly into
hers. They are charged with all the bitterness and hate and disappointed
ambition which social injustice and inequality had wrought into his
soul.

She shivered and dropped her glass. Shivered and drew her fleecy, pink
and pale-blue cloak closer about her bare neck.

Her face grew timid, almost appealing, as she turned it upward toward
him like a flower, to be kissed across the height that divided him from
her.

His heart swelled with exultation. His face softened. From the height of
his intellectual pride he bent his head and sent a winged caress
fluttering down upon that flowerlike face.

And then the stealing harmony of the violins began, gliding like mist
above the shuddering, tumultuous, obscure thunder of the drums, and the
man's soul swept across that sea of song with the heart of a lion and
the wings of an eagle.

A tender, musing smile was on the woman's lips.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------



WAYSIDE COURTSHIPS

A PREACHER'S LOVE STORY.

I.


The train drew out of the great Van Buren Street depot at 4.30 of a dark
day in late October. A tall young man, with a timid look in his eyes,
was almost the last one to get on, and his pale face wore a worried look
as he dropped into an empty seat and peered out at the squalid buildings
reeling past in the mist.

The buildings grew smaller, and vacant lots appeared stretching away in
flat spaces, broken here and there by ridges of ugly squat little
tenement blocks. Over this landscape vast banners of smoke streamed,
magnified by the misty rain which was driven in from the lake.

At last there came a swell of land clothed on with trees. It was still
light enough to see they were burr oaks, and the young student's heart
thrilled at sight of them. His forehead smoothed out, and his eyes grew
tender with boyish memories.

He was seated thus, with head leaning against the pane, when another
young man came down the aisle from the smoking car and took a seat
beside him with a pleasant word.

He was a handsome young fellow of twenty-three or four. His face was
large and beardless, and he had beautiful teeth. He had a bold and keen
look, in spite of the bang of yellow hair which hung over his forehead.

Some commonplaces passed between them, and then silence fell on each.
The conductor coming through the car, the smooth-faced young fellow put
up a card to be punched, and the student handed up a ticket, simply
saying, "Kesota."

After a decent pause the younger man said "Going to Kesota, are you?"

"Yes."

"So am I. I live there, in fact."

"Do you? Then perhaps you can tell me the name of your County
Superintendent. I'm looking for a school." He smiled frankly. "I'm just
out of Jackson University, and----"

"That so? I'm an Ann Arbor man myself." They took a moment for mutual
warming up. "Yes, I know the Superintendent. Why not come right up to my
boarding place, and to-morrow I'll introduce you? Looking for a school,
eh? What kind of a school?"

"Oh, a village school, or even a country school. It's too late to get a
good place; but I've been sick, and----"

"Yes, the good positions are all snapped up; still, you might by
accident hit on something. I know Mott; he'll do all he can for you. By
the way, my name's Allen."

The young student understood this hint and spoke. "Mine is Stacey."

The younger man mused a few minutes, as if he had forgotten his new
acquaintance. Suddenly he roused up.

"Say, would you take a country school several miles out?"

"I think I would, if nothing better offered."

"Well, out in my neighborhood they're without a teacher. It's six miles
out, and it isn't a lovely neighborhood. However, they will pay fifty
dollars a month; that's ten dollars extra for the scrimmages. They
wanted me to teach this winter--my sister teaches it in summer--but,
great Peter! I can't waste my time teaching school, when I can run up to
Chicago and take a shy at the pit and make a whole term's wages in
thirty minutes."

"I don't understand," said Stacey.

"Wheat Exchange. I've got a lot of friends in the pit, and I can come in
any time on a little deal. I'm no Jim Keene, but I hope to get cash
enough to handle five thousand. I wanted the old gent to start me up in
it, but he said, 'Nix come arouse.' Fact is, I dropped the money he gave
me to go through college with." He smiled at Stacey's disapproving look.
"Yes, indeedy; there's where the jar came into our tender relations. Oh,
I call on the governor--always when I've got a wad. I have fun with
him." He smiled brightly. "Ask him if he don't need a little cash to pay
for hog-killin', or something like that." He laughed again. "No, I
didn't graduate at Ann Arbor. Funny how things go, ain't it? I was on my
way back the third year, when I stopped in to see the pit--it's one o'
the sights of Chicago, you know--and Billy Krans saw me looking over the
rail. I went in, won, and then took a flyer on December. Come a big
slump, and I failed to materialize at school."

"What did you do then?" asked Stacey, to whom this did not seem
humorous.

"I wrote a contrite letter to the governor, stating case, requesting
forgiveness--and money. No go! Couldn't raise neither. I then wrote
casting him off. 'You are no longer father of mine.'" He smiled again
radiantly. "You should have seen me the next time I went home! Plug hat!
Imported suit! Gold watch! Diamond shirt-stud! Cost me $200 to paralyze
the general, but I did it. My glory absolutely turned him white as a
sheet. I knew what he thought, so I said: 'Perfectly legitimate, dad.
The walls of Joliet are not gaping for me.' That about half fetched
him--calling him _dad_, I mean--but he can't get reconciled to my
business. 'Too many ups and downs,' he says. Fact is, he thinks it's
gambling, and I don't argue the case with him. I'm on my way home now to
stay over Sunday."

The train whistled, and Allen looked out into the darkness. "We're
coming to the crossing. Now, I can't go up to the boarding place when
you do, but I'll give you directions, and you tell the landlady I sent
you, and it'll be all right. Allen, you remember--Herman Allen."

Following directions, Stacey came at length to a two-story frame house
situated on the edge of the bank, with its back to the river. It stood
alone, with vacant lots all about. A pleasant-faced woman answered the
ring.

He explained briefly. "How do you do? I'm a teacher, and I'd like to get
board here a few days while passing my examinations. Mr. Herman Allen
sent me."

The woman's quick eye and ear were satisfied. "All right. Walk in, sir.
I'm pretty full, but I expect I can accommodate you--if you don't mind
Mr. Allen for a roommate."

"Oh, not at all," he said, while taking off his coat.

"Come right in this way. Supper will be ready soon."

He went into a comfortable sitting room, where a huge open fire of soft
coal was blazing magnificently. The walls were papered in florid
patterns, and several enlarged portraits were on the walls. The fire was
the really great adornment; all else was cheap, and some of it was
tawdry.

Stacey spread his thin hands to the blaze, while the landlady sat down a
moment, out of politeness, to chat, scanning him keenly. She was a
handsome woman, strong, well rounded, about forty years of age, with
quick gray eyes and a clean, firm-lipped mouth.

"Did you just get in?"

"Yes. I've been on the road all day," he said, on an impulse of
communication. "Indeed, I'm just out of college."

"Is that so?" exclaimed Mrs. Mills, stopping her rocking in an access of
interest. "What college?"

"Jackson University. I've been sick, and only came West----"

There came a look into her face that transformed and transfigured her.
"_My_ boy was in Ann Arbor. He was killed on the train on his way home
one day." She stopped, for fear of breaking into a quaver, and smiled
brightly. "That's why I always like college boys. They all stop here
with me." She rose hastily. "Well, you'll excuse me, won't you, and I'll
go an' 'tend to supper."

There was a great deal that was feminine in Stacey, and he felt at once
the pathos of the woman's life. He looked a refined, studious, rather
delicate young man, as he sat low in his chair and observed the light
and heat of the fire. His large head looked to be full of learning, and
his dark eyes were deep with religious fervor.

Several young women entered, and the room was filled with clatter of
tongues. Herman came in a few moments later, his face in a girlish glow
of color. Everybody rushed at him with loud outcry. He was evidently a
great favorite. He threw his arms about Mrs. Mills, giving her a hearty
hug. The girls pretended to be shocked when he reached out for them, but
they were not afraid of him. They hung on his arms and besieged him with
questions till he cried out, in jolly perplexity:

"Girls, girls! This will never do."

Mrs. Mills brushed out his damp yellow curls with her hands. "You're all
wet."

"Girls, if you'll let me sit down, I'll take one on each knee," he said,
pleadingly, and they released him.

Stacey grew red with sympathetic embarrassment, and shrank away into a
corner.

"Go get supper ready," commanded Herman. And it was only after they left
that he said to Stacey: "Oh, you found your way all right. I didn't see
you--those confounded girls bother me so." He took a seat by the fire
and surveyed his wet shoes. "I took a run up to Mott's house--only a
half block out o' the way. He said they'd be tickled to have you at
Cyene. By the way, you're a theolog, aren't you?" Wallace nodded, and
Herman went on: "So I told Mott. He said you might work up a society out
there at Cyene."

"Is there a church there?"

"Used to be, but--say, I tell you what you do: you go out with me
to-morrow, and I'll give you the whole history."

The ringing of the bell took them out into the cheerful dining room in
a good-natured scramble. Mrs. Mills put Stacey at one end of the table,
near a young woman who looked like a teacher, and he had full sweep of
the table, which was surrounded by bright and sunny faces. The station
hand was there, and a couple of grocery clerks, and a brakeman sat at
Stacey's right hand. The table was very merry. They called each other by
their Christian names, and there was very obvious courtship on the part
of several young couples.

Stacey escaped from the table as soon as possible, and returned to his
seat beside the fire. He was young enough to enjoy the chatter of the
girls, but his timidity made him glad they paid so little attention to
him. The rain had changed to sleet outside, and hammered at the window
viciously, but the blazing fire and the romping young people set it at
defiance. The landlady came to the door of the dining room, dish and
cloth in hand, to share in each outburst of laughter, and not
infrequently the hired girl peered over her shoulder with a broad smile
on her face. A little later, having finished their work, they both came
in and took active part in the light-hearted fun.

Herman and one of the girls were having a great struggle over some
trifle he had snatched from her hand, and the rest stood about laughing
to see her desperate attempts to recover it. This was a familiar form of
courtship in Kesota, and an evening filled with such romping was
considered a "cracking good time." After the girl, red and disheveled,
had given up, Herman sat down at the organ, and they all sang Moody and
Sankey hymns, negro melodies, and college songs till nine o'clock. Then
Mrs. Mills called, "Come, now, boys and girls," and they all said good
night, like obedient children.

Herman and Wallace went up to their bedroom together.

"Say, Stacey, have you got a policy?" Wallace shook his head. "And don't
want any, I suppose. Well, I just asked you as a matter of form. You
see," he went on, winking at Wallace comically, "nominally I'm an
insurance agent, but practically I'm a 'lamb'--but I get a mouthful o'
fur myself occasionally. What I'm working for is to get on that Wheat
Exchange. That's where you get life! I'd rather be an established broker
in that howling mob than go to Congress."

Suddenly a thought struck him. He rose on his elbow in bed and looked at
Wallace just as he rose from a silent prayer. Catching his eye, Herman
said:

"Say! why didn't you shout? I forgot all about it--I mean your
profession."

Wallace crept into bed beside his communicative bedfellow in silence. He
didn't know how to deal with such spirits.

"Say!" called Herman suddenly, as they were about to go to sleep, "you
ain't got no picnic, old man."

"Why, what do you mean?"

"Wait till you see Cyene Church. Oh, it's a daisy snarl."

"I wish you'd tell me about it."

"Oh, it's quiet now. The calmness of death," said Herman. "Well, you
see, it came this way. The church is made up of Baptists and Methodists,
and the Methodists wanted an organ, because, you understand, father was
the head center, and Mattie is the only girl among the Methodists who
can play. The old man has got a head like a mule. He can't be switched
off, once he makes up his mind. Deacon Marsden he don't believe in
anything above tuning forks, and he's tighter'n the bark on a bulldog.
He stood out like a sore thumb, and dad wouldn't give an inch.

"You see, they held meetings every other Sunday. So dad worked up the
organ business and got one, and then locked it up when the Baptists held
their services. Well, it went from bad to worse. They didn't speak as
they passed by--that is, the old folks; we young folks didn't care a
continental whether school kept or not. Well, upshot is, the church died
out. The wind blew the horse sheds down, and there they lie--and the
church is standing there empty as an--old boot--and----" He grew too
sleepy to finish.

Suddenly a comical idea roused him again. "Say, Stacey--by Jinks!--are
you a Baptist?"

"Yes."

"Oh, Peter! ain't that lovely?" He chuckled shamelessly, and went off to
sleep without another word.


II.

Herman was still sleeping when Stacey rose and dressed and went down to
breakfast. Mrs. Mills defended Herman against the charge of laziness:
"He's probably been out late all the week."

Stacey found Mott in the county courthouse, and a perfunctory
examination soon put him in possession of a certificate. There was no
question of his attainments.

Herman met him at dinner-time.

"Well, elder, I'm going down to get a rig to go out home in. It's
colder'n a blue whetstone, so put on all the clothes you've got. Gimme
your check, and I'll get your traps. Have you seen Mott?"

"Yes."

"Well, then, everything's all fixed."

He turned up about three o'clock, seated on the spring seat of a lumber
wagon beside a woman, who drove the powerful team. Whether she was young
or old could not be told through her wraps. She wore a cap and a thick,
faded cloak.

Mrs. Mills hurried to the door. "Why, Mattie Allen! What you doin' out
such a day as this? Come in here instanter!"

"Can't stop," called a clear, boyish voice. "Too late."

"Well, land o' stars!--you'll freeze."

When Wallace reached the wagon side, Herman said, "My sister, Stacey."

The girl slipped her strong brown hand out of her huge glove and gave
him a friendly grip. "Get right in," she said. "Herman, you're going to
stand up behind."

Herman appealed to Mrs. Mills for sympathy. "This is what comes of
having plebeian connections."

"Oh, dry up," laughed the girl, "or I'll make you drive."

Stacey scrambled in awkwardly beside her. She was not at all
embarrassed, apparently.

"Tuck yourself in tight. It's mighty cold on the prairie."

"Why didn't you come down with the baroosh?" grumbled Herman.

"Well, the corn was contracted for, and father wasn't able to come--he
had another attack of neuralgia last night after he got the corn
loaded--so I had to come."

"Sha'n't I drive for you?" asked Wallace.

"No, thank you. You'll have all you can do to keep from freezing." She
looked at his thin coat and worn gloves with keen eyes. He could see
only her pink cheeks, strong nose, and dark, smiling eyes.

It was one of those terrible Illinois days when the temperature drops
suddenly to zero, and the churned mud of the highways hardens into a
sort of scoriac rock, which cripples the horses and sends the heavy
wagons booming and thundering along like mad things. The wind was keen
and terrible as a saw-bladed sword, and smote incessantly. The desolate
sky was one thick, impenetrable mass of swiftly flying clouds. When they
swung out upon the long pike leading due north, Wallace drew his breath
with a gasp, and bent his head to the wind.

"Pretty strong, isn't it?" shouted Mattie.

"Oh, the farmer's life is the life for me, tra-la!" sang Herman, from
his shelter behind the seat.

Mattie turned. "What do you think of _Penelope_ this month?"

"She's a-gitten there," said Herman, pounding his shoe heels.

"She's too smart for young Corey. She ought to marry a man like
Bromfield. My! wouldn't they talk?"

"Did y' get the second bundle of magazines last Saturday?"

"Yes; and dad found something in the _Popular Science_ that made him
mad, and he burned it."

"Did 'e? Tum-la-la! Oh, the farmer's life for me!"

"Are you cold?" she asked Wallace.

He turned a purple face upon her. "No--not much."

"I guess you better slip right down under the blankets," she advised.

The wind blew gray out of the north--a wild blast which stopped the
young student's blood in his veins. He hated to give up, but he could no
longer hold the blankets up over his knees, so he slipped down into the
corner of the box, with his back to the wind, with the blankets drawn
over his head.

The powerful girl slapped the reins down on the backs of the snorting
horses, and encouraged them with shouts like a man: "Get out o' this,
Dan! Hup there, Nellie!"

The wagon boomed and rattled. The floor of the box seemed beaten with a
maul. The glimpses Wallace had of the land appalled him, it was so flat
and gray and bare. The houses seemed poor, and drain-pipe scattered
about told how wet it all was.

Herman sang at the top of his voice, and danced, and pounded his feet
against the wagon box. "This ends it! If I can't come home without
freezing to death, I don't come. I should have hired a rig, irrespective
of you----"

The girl laughed. "Oh, you're getting thin-blooded, Herman. Life in the
city has taken the starch all out of you."

"Better grow limp in a great city than freeze stiff in the country," he
replied.

An hour's ride brought them into a yard before a large gray-white frame
house.

Herman sprang out to meet a tall old man with head muffled up. "Hello,
dad! Take the team. We're just naturally froze solid--at least I am.
This is Mr. Stacey, the new teacher."

"How de do? Run in; I'll take the horses."

Herman and Wallace stumbled toward the house, stiff and bent.

Herman flung his arms about a tall woman in the kitchen door. "Hello,
muz!" he said. "This is Mr. Stacey, the new teacher."

"Draw up to the fire, sir. Herman, take his hat and coat."

Mattie came in soon with a boyish rush. She was gleeful as a happy babe.
She unwound the scarf from her head and neck, and hung up her cap and
cloak like a man, but she gave her hair a little touch of feminine care,
and came forward with both palms pressed to her burning cheeks.

"Did you suffer, child?" asked Mrs. Allen.

"No; I enjoyed it."

Herman looked at Stacey. "I believe on my life she did."

"Oh, it's fun. I don't get a chance to do anything so exciting very
often."

Herman clicked his tongue. "Exciting? Well, well!"

"You must remember things are slower here," Mattie explained.

She came to light much younger than Stacey thought her. She was not
eighteen, but her supple and splendid figure was fully matured. Her
hair hung down her back in a braid, which gave a subtle touch of
childishness to her.

"Sis, you're still a-growin'," Herman said, as he put his arm around her
waist and looked up at her.

She seemed to realize for the first time that Stacey was a young man,
and her eyes fell.

"Well, now, set up the chairs, child," said Mrs. Allen.

When the young teacher returned from his cold spare room off the parlor
the family sat waiting for him. They all drew up noisily, and Allen
said:

"Ask the blessing, sir?"

Wallace said grace.

As Allen passed the potatoes he continued:

"My son tells me you are a minister of the gospel."

"I have studied for it."

"What denomination?"

"Tut, tut!" warned Herman. "Don't start any theological rabbits
to-night, dad. With jaw swelled up you won't be able to hold your own."

"I'm a Baptist," Stacey answered.

The old man's face grew grim. It had been ludicrous before with its
swollen jaw. "Baptist?" The old man turned to his son, whose smile
angered him. "Didn't you know no more'n to bring a Baptist preacher into
this house?"

"There, there, father!" began the wife.

"Be quiet. I'm boss of this shanty."

Herman struck in: "Don't make a show of yourself, old man. Don't mind
the old gent, Stacey; he's mumpy to-day, anyhow."

Stacey rose. "I guess I--I'd better not stay--I----"

"Oh, no, no! Sit down, Stacey. It's all right. The old man's a little
acid at me. He doesn't mean it."

Stacey got his coat and hat. His heart was swollen with indignation. He
felt as if something fine were lost to him, and the cold outside was so
desolate now.

Mrs. Allen was in tears; but the old man, having taken his stand, was
going to keep it.

Herman lost his temper a little. "Well, dad, you're a little the
cussedest Christian I ever knew. Stacey, sit down. Don't you be a fool
just because he is----"

Stacey was buttoning his coat with trembling hands, when Martha went up
to him.

"Don't go," she said. "Father's sick and cross. He'll be sorry for this
to-morrow."

Wallace looked into her frank, kindly eyes and hesitated.

Herman said: "Dad, you are a lovely follower of Christ. You'll apologize
for this, or I'll never set foot on your threshold again."

Stacey still hesitated. He was hurt and angry, but being naturally a
sweet and gentle nature, he grew sad, and, yielding to the pressure of
the girl's hand on his arm, he began to unbutton his overcoat.

She helped him off with it, and hung it back on the nail. She did not
show tears, but her face was unwontedly grave.

They sat at the table again, and Herman and Mattie tried to restore
something of the brightness which had been lost. Allen sat grimly
eating, his chin pushed down like a hog's snout.

After supper, as his father was about retiring to his bedroom, Herman
fixed his bright eyes on him, and something very hard and masterful came
into his boyish face.

"Old man--you and I haven't had a settlement on this thing yet. I'll see
you later."

Allen shrank before his son's look, but shuffled sullenly off without
uttering a word.

Herman turned to Wallace. "Stacey, I want to beg your pardon for getting
you into this scrape. I didn't suppose the old gentleman would act like
that. The older he gets, the more his New Hampshire granite shows. I
hope you won't lay it up against me."

Wallace was too conscientious to say he didn't mind it, but he took
Herman's hand in a quick clasp.

"Let's have a song," proposed Herman. "Music hath charms to soothe the
savage breast, to charm a rock, and split a cabbage."

They went into the best room, where a fire was blazing, and Mattie and
Herman sang hymns and old-fashioned love songs and college glees
wonderfully intermingled. They ended by singing "Lorena," a wailing,
supersentimental love song current in war times, and when they looked
around there was a lofty look on the face of the young preacher--a look
of exaltation, of consecration and resolve.


III.

The next morning, at breakfast, Herman said, as he seized a hot biscuit,
"We'll dispense with grace this morning, and till after the war is
over." But Wallace blessed his bread in a silent prayer, and Mattie
thought it very brave of him to do so.

Herman was full of mockery. "The sun rises just the same, whether it's
'sprinkling' or 'immersion.' It's lucky Nature don't take a hand in
these theological contests--she doesn't even referee the scrap. She
never seems to care whether you are sparring for points or fighting to a
finish. What you theologic middle-weights are really fighting for I
can't see--and I don't care, till you fall over the ropes on to my
corns."

Stacey listened in a daze to Herman's tirade. He knew it was addressed
to Allen, and that it deprecated war, and that it was mocking. The fresh
face and smiling lips of the young girl seemed to put Herman's voice
very far away. It was such a beautiful thing to sit at table with a
lovely girl.

After breakfast he put on his cap and coat and went out into the clear,
cold November air. All about him the prairie extended, marked with
farmhouses and lined with leafless hedges. Artificial groves surrounded
each homestead, relieving the desolateness of the fields.

Down the road he saw the spire of a small white church, and he walked
briskly toward it, Herman's description in his mind.

As he came near he saw the ruined sheds, the rotting porch, and the
windows boarded up, and his face grew sad. He tried one of the doors,
and found it open. Some tramp had broken the lock. The inside was even
more desolate than the outside. It was littered with rotting straw and
plum stones and melon seeds. Obscene words were scrawled on the walls,
and even on the pulpit itself.

Taken altogether it was an appalling picture to the young servant of the
Man of Galilee, a blunt reminder of the ferocity and depravity of man.

As he pondered the fire burned, and there rose again the flame of his
resolution. He lifted his face and prayed that he might be the one to
bring these people into the living union of the Church of Christ.

His blood set toward his heart with tremulous action. His eyes glowed
with zeal like that of the Middle Ages. He saw the people united once
more in this desecrated hall. He heard the bells ringing, the sound of
song, the smile of peaceful old faces, and voices of love and fellowship
filling the anterooms where hate now scrawled hideous blasphemy against
woman and against God.

As he sat there Herman came in, his keen eyes seeking out every stain
and evidence of vandalism.

"Cheerful prospect--isn't it?"

Wallace looked up with the blaze of his resolution still in his eyes.
His pale face was sweet and solemn.

"Oh, how these people need Christ!"

Herman turned away. "They need killing--about two dozen of 'em. I'd like
to have the job of indicating which ones; I wouldn't miss the old man,
you bet!" he said, with blasphemous audacity.

Wallace was helpless in the face of such reckless thought, and so sat
looking at the handsome young fellow as he walked about.

"Well, now, Stacey, I guess you'll need to move. I had another session
with the old man, but he won't give in, so I'm off for Chicago. Mother's
brother, George Chapman, who lives about as near the schoolhouse on the
other side, will take you in. I guess we'd better go right down now and
see about it. I've said good-by to the old man--for good this time; we
didn't shake hands either," he said, as they walked down the road
together. He was very stern and hard. Something of the father was hidden
under his laughing exterior.

Stacey regretted deeply the necessity which drove him out of Allen's
house. Mrs. Allen and Mattie had appealed to him very strongly. For
years he had lived far from young women, and there was a magical power
in the intimate home actions of this young girl. Her bare head, with
simple arrangement of hair, someway seemed the most beautiful thing he
had ever seen.

He thought of her as he sat at the table with George and his aged
mother. They lived alone, and their lives were curiously silent. Once in
a while a low-voiced question, and that was all.

George read the _Popular Science_, _Harper's Monthly Magazine_, and the
_Open Court_, and brooded over them with slow intellectual movement. It
was wonderful the amount of information he secreted from these
periodicals. He was better informed than many college graduates.

He had little curiosity about the young stranger. He understood he was
to teach the school, and he did not go further in inquiry.

He tried Wallace once or twice on the latest discoveries of John Fiske
and Edison, and then gave him up and retired to his seat beside the
sitting-room stove.

On the following Monday morning school began, and as Wallace took his
way down the lane the wrecked church came again to his eyes. He walked
past it with slow feet. His was a deeply religious nature, one that
sorrowed easily over sin. Suffering of the poor did not trouble him;
hunger seemed a little thing beside losing one's everlasting soul.
Therefore to come from his studies upon such a monument of human
depravity as this rotting church was to receive a shock and to hear a
call to action.

Approaching the schoolhouse, his thought took a turn toward the scholars
and toward Mattie. He had forgotten to ask her if she intended to be one
of his pupils.

There were several children already gathered at the schoolhouse door as
he came up. It was all very American--the boxlike house of white, the
slender teacher approaching, the roughly clad urchins waiting.

He said, "Good morning, scholars."

They chorused a queer croak in reply--hesitating, inarticulate, shy. He
unlocked the door and entered the cold, bare room--familiar, unlovely,
with a certain power of primitive associations. In such a room he had
studied his primer and his Ray's Arithmetic. In such a room he had made
gradual recession from the smallest front seat to the back wall seat;
and from one side of such a room to the other he had furtively worshiped
a graceful girlish head.

He allowed himself but a moment of such dreaming, and then he assumed
command, and with his ready helpers a fire was soon started. Other
children came in, timorous as rabbits, slipping by with one eye fixed on
him like scared chickens. They pre-empted their seats by putting down
books and slates, and there arose sly wars for possession, which he felt
in curious amusement--it was so like his own life at that age.

He assumed command as nearly in the manner of the old-time teachers as
he could recall, and the work of his teaching was begun. The day passed
quickly, and as he walked homeward again there stood that rotting
church, and in his mind there rose a surging emotion larger than he
could himself comprehend--a desire to rebuild it by uniting the warring
factions, of whose lack of Christianity it was fatal witness.


IV.

Now this mystical thing happened. As this son of a line of preachers
brooded on this unlovely strife among men, he lost the equipoise of the
scholar and student of modern history. He grew narrower and more
intense. The burden of his responsibility as a preacher of Christ grew
daily more insupportable.

Toward the end of the week he announced preaching in the schoolhouse on
Sunday afternoon, and at the hour set he found the room crowded with
people of all ages and sorts.

His heart grew heavy as he looked out over the room on women nursing
querulous children, on the grizzled faces of grim-looking men, who
studied him with keen, unsympathetic eyes. He had hard, unfriendly
material to work with. There were but few of the opposite camp present,
while the Baptist leaders were all there, with more curiosity than
sympathy in their faces.

They exulted to think the next preacher to come among them as an
evangelist should be a Baptist.

After the singing, which would have dribbled away into failure but for
Mattie, Wallace rose, looking very white and weak, and began his prayer.
Some of the boys laughed when his voice stuck in his throat, but he went
on to the end of an earnest supplication, feeling he had not touched
them at all.

While they sang again, he sat looking down at them with dry throat and
staring eyes. They seemed so hard, so unchristianlike. What could he say
to them? He saw Mattie looking at him, and on the front seat sat three
beautiful little girls huddled together with hands clasped; they were
inexpressibly dainty by contrast. As he looked at them the thought came
to him, What is the goodness of a girl--of a child? It is not
partisan--it is not of creeds, of articles--it is goodness of thought,
of deeds. His face lighted up with the inward feeling of this idea, and
he rose resolutely.

"Friends, with the help of Christ I am come among you to do you good. I
shall hold meetings each night here in the schoolhouse until we can
unite and rebuild the church again. Let me say now, friends, that I was
educated a Baptist. My father was a faithful worker in the Baptist
Church, and so was his father before him. I was educated in a Baptist
college, and I came here hoping to build up a Baptist Church." He
paused.

"But I see my mistake. I am here to build up a Church of Christ, of good
deeds and charity and peace, and so I here say I am no longer a Baptist
or Methodist. I am only a preacher, and I will not rest until I rebuild
the church which stands rotting away there." His voice rang with
intellectual determination as he uttered those words.

The people listened. There was no movement now. Even the babies seemed
to feel the need of being silent. When he began again it was to describe
that hideous wreck. He delineated the falling plaster, the litter around
the pulpit, the profanation of the walls. "It is a symbol of your sinful
hearts," he cried.

Much more he said, carried out of himself by his passion. It was as if
the repentant spirit of his denominational fathers were speaking through
him; and yet he was not so impassioned that he did not see, or at least
feel, the eyes of the strong young girl fixed upon him; his resolution
he spoke looking at her, and a swift response seemed to leap from her
eyes.

When it was over, some of the Methodists and one of the Baptists came up
to shake hands with him, awkwardly wordless, and the pressure of their
hands helped him. Many of the Baptist brethren slipped outside to
discuss the matter. Some were indignant, others much more moved.

Allen went by him with an audible grunt of derision, and there was a
dark scowl on his face, but Mattie smiled at him, with tears still in
her eyes. She had been touched by his vibrant voice; she had no sins to
repent of.

The skeptics of the neighborhood were quite generally sympathetic.
"You've struck the right trail now, parson," said Chapman, as they
walked homeward together. "The days of the old-time denominationalism
are about played out."

But the young preacher was not so sure of it--now that his inspiration
was gone. He remembered his debt to his college, to his father, to the
denomination, and it was not easy to set aside the grip of such
memories.

He sat late revolving the whole situation in his mind. When he went to
bed it was still with him, and involved itself with his dreams; but
always the young girl smiled upon him with sympathetic eyes and told him
to go on--or so it seemed to him.

He was silent at breakfast. He went to school with a feeling that a
return to teaching little tow-heads to count and spell was now
impossible. He sat in his scarred and dingy desk, while they took their
places, and his eyes had a passionate intensity of prayer in them which
awed the pupils. He had assumed new grandeur and terror in their eyes.
When they were seated he bowed his head and uttered a short plea for
grace, and then he looked at them again.

On the low front seat, with dangling legs and red round faces, sat the
little ones. Someway he could not call them to his knees and teach them
to spell; he felt as if he ought to call them to him, as Christ did, to
teach them love and reverence. It was impossible that they should not be
touched by this hideous neighborhood of hate and strife.

Behind them sat the older children, some of them with rough, hard, sly
faces. Some grinned rudely and nudged each other. The older girls sat
with bated breath; they perceived something strange in the air. Most of
them had heard his sermon the night before.

At last he broke silence. "Children, there is something I must say to
you this morning. I'm going to have meeting here to-night, and it may be
I shall not be your teacher any more--I mean in school. I wish you'd go
home to-day and tell your people to come to church here to-night. I wish
you'd all come yourselves. I want you to be good. I want you to love God
and be good. I want you to go home and tell your people the teacher
can't teach you here till he has taught the older people to be kind and
generous. You may put your books away, and school will be dismissed."

The wondering children obeyed--some with glad promptness, others with
sadness, for they had already come to like their teacher very much.

As he sat by the door and watched them file out, it was as if he were a
king abdicating a throne, and these his faithful subjects. It was the
most momentous hour of his life. He had set his face toward dark waters.

Mrs. Allen came over with Mattie to see him that day. She was a good
woman, gentle and prayerful, and she said, with much emotion:

"O Mr. Stacey, I do hope you can patch things up here. If you could only
touch his heart! He don't mean to do wrong, but he's so set in his
ways--if he says a thing he sticks to it."

Stacey turned to Mattie for a word of encouragement, but she only looked
away. It was impossible for her to put into words her feeling in the
matter, which was more of admiration for his courage than for any part
of his religious zeal. He was so different from other men. It seemed he
had a touch of divinity in him now.

It did him good to have them come, and he repeated his vow:

"By the grace of our Lord, I am going to rebuild the Cyene Church," and
his face paled and his eyes grew luminous.

The girl shivered with a sort of awe. He seemed to recede from her as he
spoke, and to grow larger, too. Such nobility of purpose was new and
splendid to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

The revival was wondrously dramatic. The little schoolhouse was crowded
to the doors night by night. The reek of stable-stained coats and
boots, the smell of strong tobacco, the effluvia of many breaths, the
heat, the closeness, were forgotten in the fervor of the young
evangelist's utterances. His voice took on wild emotional cadences
without his conscious effort, and these cadences sounded deep places in
the heart. To these people, long unused to religious oratory, it was
like the return of John and Isaiah. It was poetry and the drama, and
processions and apocalyptic visions. He had the histrionic spell, too,
and his slender body lifted and dilated, and his head took on majesty
and power, and the fling of his white hand was a challenge and an
appeal.

A series of stirring events took place on the third night.

On Wednesday Jacob Turner rose and asked the prayers of his neighbors,
and was followed by two Baptist spearmen of the front rank. On Thursday
the women all were weeping on each other's bosoms; only one or two of
the men held out--old Deacon Allen and his antagonist, Stewart Marsden.
Grim-visaged old figures they were, placed among repentant men and
weeping women. They sat like rocks in the rush of the two factions
moving toward each other for peaceful union. Granitic, narrow, keen of
thrust, they seemed unmoved, while all around them one by one skeptics
acknowledged the pathos and dignity of the preacher's views of life and
death.

Meanwhile the young evangelist lived at high pressure. He grew thinner
and whiter each night. He toiled in the daytime to formulate his
thoughts for the evening. He could not sleep till far toward morning.
The food he ate did him little good, while his heart went out constantly
to his people in strenuous supplication. It was testimony of his human
quality that he never for one moment lost that shining girl face out of
his thought. He looked for it there night after night. It was his
inspiration in speaking, as at the first.

On the nights when Mattie was not there his speech was labored (as the
elders noticed), but on the blessed nights when she came and sang, her
voice, amid all the rest, came to him, and uttered poetry and peace like
a rill of cool sweet water. And afterward, when he walked home under the
stars, his mind went with her, she was so strong and lithe and good to
see. He did not realize the worshiping attitude the girl took before
divine duties.

At last the great day came--the great night.

In some way, perhaps by the growing mass of rushing emotion set in
action by some deep-going phrase, or perhaps by some interior slow
weakening of stubborn will, Deacon Allen gave way; and when the preacher
called for penitents, the old man struggled to his feet, his seamed,
weather-beaten face full of grotesque movement. He broke out:

"Brethren, pray for me; I'm a miserable sinner. I want to confess my
sins--here--before ye all." He broke into sobbing terrible to hear. "My
heart is made--flesh again--by the blessed power of Christ ..."

He struggled to get his voice. One or two cried, "Praise God!" but most
of them sat silent, awed into immobility.

The old man walked up the aisle. "I've been rebellious--and now I want
to shake hands with you all--and I ask your prayers." He bent down and
thrust his hand to Marsden, his enemy, while the tears streamed down his
face.

Marsden turned white with a sort of fear, but he rose awkwardly and
grasped the outstretched hand, and at the touch of palms every soul rose
as if by electric shock. "Amens!" burst forth. The preacher began a
fervent prayer, and came down toward the grizzled, weeping old men, and
they all embraced, while some old lady with sweet quavering voice raised
a triumphal hymn, in which all joined, and found grateful relief from
their emotional tension.

Allen turned to Mattie and his wife. "My boy--send for him--Herman."

It seemed as if the people could not go away. The dingy little
schoolhouse was like unto the shining temple of God's grace, and the
regenerated seemed to fear that to go home might become a return to hate
and strife. So they clung around the young preacher and would not let
him go.

At last he came out with Allen holding to his arm. "You must come home
with us to-night," he pleaded, and the young minister with glad heart
consented, for he hoped he might walk beside Mattie; but this was not
possible. There were several others in the group, and they moved off two
and two up the deep hollows which formed the road in the snow.

The young minister walked with head uplifted to the stars, hearing
nothing of the low murmur of talk, conscious only of his great plans,
his happy heart, and the strong young girl who walked before him.

In the warm kitchen into which they came he lost something of his
spiritual tension, and became more humanly aware of the significance of
sitting again with these people. He gave the girl his coat and hat, and
then watched her slip off her knitted hood and her cloak. Her eyes shone
with returning laughter, and her cheeks were flushed with blood.

Looking upon her, the young evangelist lost his look of exaltation, his
eyes grew soft and his limbs relaxed. His silence was no longer rapt--it
was the silence of delicious, drowsy reverie.


V.

The next morning he did not rise at all. The collapse had come. The bad
air, the nervous strain, the lack of sleep, had worn down his slender
store of strength, and when the great victory came he fell like a tree
whose trunk has been slowly gnawed across by teeth of silent saw. His
drowse deepened into torpor.

In the bright winter morning, seated in a gay cutter behind a bay colt
strung with slashing bells, Mattie drove to Kesota for the doctor. She
felt the discord between the joyous jangle of the bells, the stream of
sunlight, and the sparkle of snow crystals, but it only added to the
poignancy of her anxiety.

She had not yet reached self-consciousness in her regard for the young
preacher--she thought of him as a noble human being liable to death, and
she chirped again and again to the flying colt, whose broad hoofs flung
the snow in stinging showers against her face.

A call at the doctor's house set him jogging out along the lanes, while
she sent a telegram to Herman. As she whirled bay Tom into the road to
go home, her heart rose in relief that was almost exaltation. She loved
horses. She always sang under her breath, chiming to the beat of their
bells, when alone, and now she loosened the rein and hummed an old love
song, while the powerful young horse squared away in a trot which was
twelve miles an hour--_click_, click-_click_, click-_clangle_,
lang-_lingle_, ling.

In such air, in such sun, who could die? Her good animal strength rose
dominant over fear of death.

She came upon the doctor swinging along in his old blue cutter, dozing
in country-doctor style, making up for lost sleep.

"Out o' the way, doctor!" she gleefully called.

The doctor roused up and looked around with a smile. He was not beyond
admiring such a girl as that. He snapped his whip-lash lightly on old
Sofia's back, who looked up surprised, and, seeming to comprehend
matters, began to reach out broad, flat, thin legs in a pace which the
proud colt respected. She came of illustrious line, did Sofia,
scant-haired and ungracious as she now was.

"Don't run over me," called the doctor, ironically, and with Sofia still
leading they swung into the yard.

Mattie went in with the doctor, while Allen looked after both horses.
They found Chapman attending Wallace--who lay in a dazed
quiet--conscious, but not definitely aware of material things.

The doctor looked his patient over carefully. Then he asked, "Who is the
yoong mon?"

"He's been teaching here, or rather preaching."

"When did this coom on?"

"Last night. Wound up a big revival last night, I believe. Kind o' caved
in, I reckon."

"That's all. Needs rest. He'll be wearin' a wood jacket if he doosna
leave off preachin'."

"Regular jamboree. I couldn't stop him. One of these periodical
neighborhood 'awakenings,' they call it."

"They have need of it here, na doot."

"Well, they need something--love for God--or man."

"M--well! It's lettle I can do. The wumman can do more, if the mon'll be
eatin' what they cuke for 'im," said the candid old Scotchman. "Mak' 'im
eat. Mak' 'im eat."

Once more Tom pounded along the shining road to Kesota to meet the
six-o'clock train from Chicago.

Herman, magnificently clothed in fur-lined ulster and cap, alighted with
unusually grave face and hurried toward Mattie.

"Well, what is it, sis? Mother sick?"

"No; it's the teacher. He is unconscious. I've been for the doctor. Oh,
we were scared!"

He looked relieved, but a little chagrined. "Oh, well, I don't see why I
should be yanked out of my boots by a telegram because the teacher is
sick! He isn't kin--yet."

For the first time a feeling of shame and confusion swept over Mattie,
and her face flushed.

Herman's keen eyes half closed as he looked into her face.

"Mat--what--what! Now look here--how's this? Where's Ben Holly's claim?"

"He never had any." She shifted ground quickly. "O Herman, we had a
wonderful time last night! Father and Uncle Marsden shook hands----"

"What?" shouted Herman, as he fell in a limp mass against the cutter.
"Bring a physician--I'm stricken."

"Don't act so! Everybody's looking."

"They'd better look. I'm drowning while they wait."

She untied the horse and came back.

"Climb in there and stop your fooling, and I'll tell you all about it."

He crawled in with tearing groans of mock agony, and then leaned his
head against her shoulder. "Well, go on, sis; I can bear it now."

She nudged him to make him sit up.

"Well, you know we've had a revival."

"So you wrote. Must have been a screamer to fetch dad and old Marsden. A
regular Pentecost of Shinar."

"It was--I mean it was beautiful. I saw father was getting stirred up.
He prayed almost all day yesterday, and at night--Well, I can't tell
you, but Wallace talked, oh, so beautiful and tender."

"She calls him Wallace?" mused Herman, like a comedian.

"Hush! And then came the hand-shaking, and then the minister came home
with us, because father asked him to."

"Well, well! I supposed _you_ must have asked him."

The girl was hurt, and she showed it. "If you make fun, I won't tell you
another word," she said.

"Away Chicago! enter Cyene! Well, come, I won't fool any more."

"Then after Wallace--I mean----"

"Let it stand. Come to the murder."

"Then father came and asked me to send for you, and mother cried, and so
did he. And, oh, Hermie, he's so sweet and kind! Don't make fun of him,
will you? It's splendid to have him give in, and everybody feels glad
that the district will be all friendly again."

Herman did not gibe again. His voice was gentle. The pathos in the scene
appealed to him. "So the old man sent for me himself, did he?"

"Yes; he could hardly wait till morning. But this morning, when we came
to call the teacher, he didn't answer, and father went in and found him
unconscious. Then I went for the doctor."

Bay Tom whirled along in the splendid dusk, his nostrils flaring ghostly
banners of steam on the cold crisp air. The stars overhead were points
of green and blue and crimson light, low-hung, changing each moment.

Their influence entered the soul of the mocking young fellow. He felt
very solemn, almost melancholy, for a moment.

"Well, sis, I've got something to tell you all. I'm going to tell it to
you by degrees. I'm going to be married."

"Oh!" she gasped, with quick, indrawn breath. "Who?"

"Don't be ungrammatical, whatever you do. She's a cashier in a
restaurant, and she's a fine girl," he added steadily, as if combating a
prejudice. He forgot for the moment that such prejudices did not exist
in Cyene.

Sis was instantly tender, and very, very serious.

"Of course she is, or you wouldn't care for her. Oh, I'd like to see
her!"

"I'll take you up some day and show her to you."

"Oh, will you? Oh, when can I go?" She was smit into gravity again. "Not
till the teacher is well."

Herman pretended to be angry. "Dog take the teacher, the old
spindle-legs! If I'd known he was going to raise such a ruction in our
quiet and peaceful neighborhood, I never would have brought him here."

Mattie did not laugh; she pondered. She never quite understood her
brother when he went off on those queer tirades, which might be a joke
or an insult. He had grown away from her in his city life.

They rode on in silence the rest of the way, except now and then an
additional question from Mattie concerning his sweetheart.

As they neared the farmhouse she lost interest in all else but the
condition of the young minister. They could see the light burning dimly
in his room, and in the parlor and kitchen as well, and this unusual
lighting stirred the careless young man deeply. It was associated in
his mind with death and birth, and also with great joy.

The house was lighted so the night his elder brother died, and it looked
so to him when he whirled into the yard with the doctor when Mattie was
born.

"Oh, I hope he isn't worse!" said the girl, with deep feeling.

Herman put his arm about her, and she knew he knew.

"So do I, sis."

Allen came to the door as they drove in, and the careless boy realized
suddenly the emotional tension his father was in. As the old man came to
the sleigh-side he could not speak. His fingers trembled as he took the
outstretched hand of his boy.

Herman's voice shook a little:

"Well, dad, Mattie says the war is over."

The old man tried to speak, but only coughed and then he blew his nose.
At last he said, brokenly:

"Go right in; your mother's waitin'."

It was singularly dramatic to the youth. To come from the careless,
superficial life of his city companions into contact with such primeval
passions as these, made him feel like a spectator at some new and
powerful and tragic play.

His mother fell upon his neck and cried, while Mattie stood by pale and
anxious. Inside the parlor could be heard the mumble of men's voices.

In such wise do death and the fear of death fall upon country homes. All
day the house had swarmed with people. All day this mother had looked
forward to the reconciliation of her husband with her son. All day had
the pale and silent minister of God kept his corpselike calm, while all
about the white snow gleamed, and radiant shadows filled every hollow,
and the cattle bawled and frisked in the barnyard, and the fowls
cackled joyously, while the mild soft wind breathed warmly over the
land.

Mattie cried out to her mother in quick, low voice, "O mother, how is
he?"

"He ain't no worse. The doctor says there ain't no immediate danger."

The girl brought her hands together girlishly, and said: "Oh, I'm so
glad. Is he awake?"

"No; he's asleep."

"Is the doctor still here?"

"Yes."

"I guess I'll step in," said Herman.

The doctor and George Chapman sat beside the hard-coal heater, talking
in low voices. The old doctor was permitting himself the luxury of a
story of pioneer life. He rose with automatic courtesy, and shook hands
with Herman.

"How's the sick man getting on?"

"Vera well--vera well--consederin' the mon is a complete
worn-out--that's all--naethin' more. Thes floom-a-didale bezniss of
rantin' away on the fear o' the Laird for sax weeks wull have worn out
the frame of a bool-dawg."

Herman and Chapman smiled. "I hope you'll tell him that."

"Na fear, yoong mon," said the grim old warrior. "Weel, now ai'll juist
be takin' anither look at him."

Herman went in with the doctor, and stood looking on while the old man
peered and felt about. He came out soon, and leaving a few directions
with Herman and Chapman, took his departure. Everything seemed
favorable, he said.

There was no longer poignancy of anxiety in Mattie's mind, she was too
much of a child to imagine the horror of loss, but she was grave and gay
by turns. Her healthy and wholesome nature continually reasserted itself
over the power of her newly attained woman's interest in the young
preacher. She went to bed and slept dreamlessly, while Herman yawned and
inwardly raged at the fix in which circumstances had placed him.

Like many another lover, days away from his sweetheart were lost days.
He wondered how she would take all the life down here. It would be good
fun to bring her down, anyway, and hear her talk. He planned such a
trip, and grew so interested in the thought he forgot his patient.

In the early dawn Wallace rallied and woke. Herman heard the rustle of
the pillow, and turned to find the sick man's eyes looking at him
fixedly, calm but puzzled. Herman's lips slowly changed into a beautiful
boyish smile, and Wallace replied by a faint parting of the lips, when
Herman said:

"Hello, old man! How do you find yourself?" His hearty humorous greeting
seemed to do the sick man good. Herman approached the bed. "Know where
you are?" Wallace slowly put out a hand, and Herman took it. "You're
coming on all right. Want some breakfast? Make it bucks?" he said, in
Chicago restaurant slang. "White wings--sunny--one up coff."

All this was good tonic for Wallace, and an hour later he sipped broth,
while Mrs. Allen and the Deacon and Herman stood watching the process
with apparently consuming interest. Mattie was still soundly sleeping.

There began delicious days of convalescence, during which he looked
peacefully out at the coming and going of the two women, each possessing
powerful appeal to him--one the motherly presence which had been denied
him for many years, the other something he had never permitted
himself--a sweetheart's daily companionship.

He lay there planning his church, and also his home. Into the thought of
a new church came shyly but persistently the thought of a fireside of
his own, with this young girl sitting in the glow of it waiting for him.
His life had held little romance in its whole length. He had earned his
own way through school and to college. His slender physical energies had
been taxed to their utmost at every stage of his climb, but now it
seemed as though some blessed rest and peace were at hand.

Meanwhile, the bitter partisans met each other coming and going out of
the gate of the Allen estate, and the goodness of God shone in their
softened faces. Herman was skeptical of its lasting quality, but was
forced to acknowledge that it was a lovely light. He it was who made the
electrical suggestion to rebuild the church as an evidence of good
faith. "You say you're regenerated--go ahead and regenerate the church,"
he said.

The enthusiasm of the neighborhood took flame. It should be done. A
meeting was called. Everybody subscribed money or work. It was a
generous outpouring of love and faith.

It was Herman also who counseled secrecy. "It would be a nice thing to
surprise him," he said. "We'll agree to keep the scheme from him at
home, if you don't give it away."

They set to work like bees. The women came down one day and took
possession with brooms and mops and soap, and while the carpenters
repaired the windows they fell savagely upon the grime of the seats and
floors. The walls of the church echoed with woman's gossip and girlish
laughter. Everything was scoured, from the door-hinges to the altar
rails. New doors were hung and a new stove secured, and then came the
painters to put a new coat of paint on the inside. The cold weather
forbade repainting the outside.

The sheds were rebuilt by men whose hearts glowed with old-time fire. It
was like pioneer days, when "barn-raising" and "bees" made life worth
while in a wild, stern land. It was a beautiful time. The old men were
moved to tears, and the younger rough men shouted cheery, boisterous
cries to hide their own deep emotion. Hand met hand in heartiness never
shown before. Neighbors frequented each other's homes, and the old times
of visiting and brotherly love came back upon them. Nothing marred the
perfect beauty of their revival--save the fear of its evanescence. It
seemed too good to last.

Meanwhile love of another and merrier sort went on. The young men and
maidens turned prayer meeting into trysts, and scrubbing bees into
festivals. They rode from house to house under glittering stars, over
sparkling snows, singing:

    "Hallelujah! 'tis done:
    I believe on the Son;
    I am saved by the blood
    Of the Crucified One."

And their rejoicing chorus was timed to the clash of bells on swift
young horses. Who shall say they did not right? Did the Galilean forbid
love and joy?

No matter. God's stars, the mysterious night, the bells, the watchful
bay of dogs, the sting of snow, the croon of loving voices, the clasp
of tender arms, the touch of parting lips--these things, these things
outweigh death and hell, and all that makes the criminal tremble. Being
saved, they must of surety rejoice.

And through it all Wallace crawled slowly back to life and strength. He
ate of Mother Allen's chicken-broth and of toast from Mattie's
care-taking hand, and gradually assumed color and heart. His solemn eyes
looked at the powerful young girl with an intensity which seemed to take
her strength from her. She would gladly have given her blood for him, if
it had occurred to her, or if it had been suggested as a good thing;
instead she gave him potatoes baked to a nicety, and buttered toast that
would melt on the tongue, and, on the whole, they served the purpose
better.

One day a smartly dressed man called to see Wallace. Mattie recognized
him as the Baptist clergyman from Kesota. He came in, and introducing
himself, said he had heard of the excellent work of Mr. Stacey, and that
he would like to speak with him.

Wallace was sitting in a rocking chair in the parlor. Herman was in
Chicago, and there was no one but Mrs. Allen and Mattie in the house.

The Kesota minister introduced himself to Wallace, and then entered upon
a long eulogium upon his work in Cyene. He asked after his credentials,
his plans, his connections, and then he said:

"You've done a _fine_ work in softening the hearts of these people. We
had almost _despaired_ of doing anything with them. Yes, you have done a
_won-der-ful work_, and now we must reorganize a regular society here. I
will be out again when you get stronger, and we'll see about it."

Wallace was too weak to take any stand in the talk, and so allowed him
to get up and go away without protest or explanation of his own plans.

When Herman came down on Saturday, he told him of the Baptist minister's
visit and the proposition. Herman stretched his legs out toward the fire
and put his hands in his pockets. Then he rose and took a strange
attitude, such as Wallace had seen in comic pictures--it was, in fact,
the attitude of a Bowery tough.

"Say--look here! If you want 'o set dis community by de ears agin, you
do dat ting--see? You play dat confidence game and dey'll rat ye--see?
You invite us to come into a non-partisan deal--see?--and den you
springs your own platform on us in de joint corkus--and we won't stand
it! Dis goes troo de way it began, or we don't play--see?"

Out of all this Wallace deduced his own feeling--that continued peace
and good-will lay in keeping clear of all doctrinal debates and
disputes--the love of Christ, the desire to do good and to be clean.
These emotions had been roused far more deeply than he realized, and he
lifted his face to God in the hope that no lesser thing should come in
to mar the beauty of his Church.

There came a day when he walked out in the sunshine, and heard the hens
caw-cawing about the yard, and saw the young colts playing about the
barn. And the splendor of the winter day dazzled him as if he were
looking upon the broad-flung robe of the Most High. Everywhere the snow
lay ridged with purple and brown hedges. Smoke rose peacefully from
chimneys, and the sound of boys skating on a near-by pond added the
human element.

The trouble of concealing the work of the community upon the church
increased daily, and Mattie feared that some hint of it had come to him.
She had her plan. She wanted to drive him down herself, and let him see
the reburnished temple alone. But this was impossible. On the day when
he seemed able to go, her father drove them all down. Marsden was there
also, and several of his women-folks, putting down a new carpet on the
platform. As they drew near the church, Wallace said:

"Why, they've fixed up the sheds!"

Mattie nodded. She was trembling with the delicious excitement of
it--she wanted him hurried into the church at once. He had hardly time
to think before he was whirled up to the new porch, and Marsden came
out, followed by several women. He was bewildered by it all. Marsden
helped him out with hearty voice sounding:

"Careful now. Don't hurry!"

Mattie took one arm, and so he entered the church. Everything repainted!
Everything warm and bright and cozy!

The significance of it came to him like a wave of light, and he took his
seat in the pulpit chair and stared at them all with a look on his pale
face which moved them more than words. He was like a man transfigured by
an inward glow. His eyes for an instant flamed with this marvelous fire,
then darkened, softened with tears, and his voice came back in a sob of
joy, and he could only say:

"Friends--brethren!"

Marsden, after much coughing, said:

"We all united on this. We wanted to have you come to the church
and--Well, we couldn't bear to have you see it again the way it was."

He understood it now. It was the sign of a united community. It set the
seal of Christ's victory over evil passions, and the young preacher's
head bowed in prayer, and they all knelt, while his weak voice returned
thanks to the Lord for his gifts.

Then they all rose and shook off the oppressive solemnity, and he had
time to look around at all the changes. At last he turned to Mattie and
reached out his hand--he had the boldness of a man in the shadow of some
mighty event which makes false modesty and conventions shadowy things
of little importance. His sharpened interior sense read her clear soul,
and he knew she was his, therefore he reached her his hand, and she came
to him with a flush on her face, which died out as she stood proudly by
his side, while he said:

"And Martha shall help me."

Therefore this good thing happened--that in the midst of his fervor and
his consecration to God's work, the love of woman found a place.



A MEETING IN THE FOOTHILLS.

I.


The train which brought young Ramsey into Red Rock gave him no view of
the mountains, because it arrived about eight o'clock of a dark day. He
went to bed at once in order to be up early and prostrate himself before
the peaks, for he was of the level middle-West.

He was awakened by the sound of loud, hearty voices, and looking out of
the window saw a four-horse team standing before the little hotel. On
the wagon's side was a sign which made the heart of the youth leap.

    CRINKLE CREEK STAGE.
    DAVE WILLIS, Pro.

He was in the land of gold! It was like a chapter from a story by Bret
Harte. He dressed himself hurriedly, and went down and out into the
cool, keen dawn, eager to catch a glimpse of the great peak whose name
had been in his ear since a child, as the symbol of the Rocky
Mountains.

There it soared, dull purple, splotched with dark green, and rising to
white at its shoulders, and radiant with light on its crown. In such
impassible grandeur, it must have loomed upon the eyes of the first
little caravan trailing its way across the plains to the mysterious
West.

He spent the day doing little else but gaze at the mountains and study
the town.

It was also much more stupendous than he had imagined, and doubts of his
ability to fit with all this splendor came to him with great force. He
remembered the smooth, green swells and fertile fields he had left
behind, and the memory brought a touch of homesickness.

After supper that evening he confided to the landlord his plans for
finding a foreman's position on a stock farm.

"Well, I dunno. There are such places, but they're always snapped up
'fore you can say Jack Robinson."

"Well, I'm going to give it a good try," the young fellow said bravely.

"That's right. If I was you, I'd go out and see some of these
real-estate fellers; they most always know what's going on."

"That's a good idea; much obliged. I'll tackle 'em to-morrow," said
Arthur, and he went off to bed, feeling victory almost a tame bird in
his hands.

The next forenoon he made his first attempt. He had determined on his
speech, and he went into the first office with his song on his lips.

"I'm looking for a place on a dairy farm; I've had five years' practical
experience, and am a graduate of the ---- Agricultural College. I'm
after the position of bookkeeper and foreman."

The man looked at him gravely.

"You're aiming pretty high, young feller, for this country. There are
plenty of chances to work, punching cattle, but I don't think chances
are good for a foreman's place." He was a kindly man, and repented when
he saw how the young man's face fell. "However, I'll give you some names
of people to see."

On the whole, this was not so depressing, Arthur thought.

The next man made a mistake and took him for an investor. He rose with
great cordiality.

"Ah, good morning, sir--good morning! Have a chair. Just in? Do you feel
the draft there? Oh, all right!" Then he settled himself in his swivel
chair and beamed his warmest. "Well, what do you think of our charming
town?"

Arthur had not the heart to undeceive him, and so, saturated in agony
sweat, crawled out at last, and went timidly on to the third man, who
was kindly and interested in a way, and gave him the names of some
ranchers likely to hire a hand. Some days passed in this sort of search
and resulted in nothing materially valuable, but a strong quality came
out in his nature. Defeat seemed to put a grim sort of resolution into
his soul.

Following faint clews, Ramsey made long walks into the country, toiling
from ranch to ranch over the dun-colored, lonely hills, dogged,
persistent, with lips set grimly.

He was returning late one afternoon from one of these fruitless
journeys. It was one of those strange days that come in all seasons at
that altitude. The air was full of suspended mist--it did not rain, the
road was almost dry under foot, and yet this all-pervasive moisture
seemed soaking everything. It was, in fact, a cloud, for this whole land
was a mountain top.

The road wound among shapeless buttes of red soil, the plain was clothed
on its levels with a short, dry grass, and on the side of the buttes
were scattering, scraggy cedars, looking at a distance like droves of
cattle.

He sat down upon a little hummock to rest, for his feet ached with the
long stretches of hilly road. The larks cried to him out of the mist,
with their piercing sweet notes, cheerful and undaunted ever. There was
a sudden lighting up of the day, as if the lark's song had shot the mist
with silver light.

As he rose and started on with painful slowness, he heard the sound of
horses' hoofs behind him, and a man in a yellow cart came swiftly out of
the gray obscurity.

Arthur stepped aside to let him pass, but he could not help limping a
little more markedly as the man looked at him. The man seemed to
understand.

"Will you ride?" he asked.

Arthur glanced up at him and nodded without speaking. The stranger was a
fine-looking man, with a military cut of beard, getting gray. His face
was ruddy and smiling.

"Thank you. I am rather tired," Arthur said, as he settled into the
seat. "I guess I'll have to own up, I'm about played out."

"I thought you looked foot-sore. I'm enough of a Western man to feel
mean when I pass a man on the road. A footman can get very tired on
these stretches of ours."

"I've tramped about forty miles to-day, I guess. I'm trying to find some
work to do," he added, in desperate confidence.

"Is that so? What kind of work?"

"Well, I wanted to get a place as foreman on a ranch."

"I'm afraid that's too much to expect."

Arthur sighed.

"Yes, I suppose it is. If I'd known as much two weeks ago as I do now, I
wouldn't be here."

"Oh, don't get discouraged; there's plenty of work to do. I can give you
something to do on my place."

"Well, I've come to the conclusion that there is nothing here for me but
the place of a common hand, so if you can give me anything----"

"Oh, yes, I can give you something to do in my garden. Perhaps something
better will open up later. Where are you staying?" he asked, as they
neared town.

Arthur told him, and the man drove him down to his hotel.

"I'd like to have you call at my office to-morrow morning; my partner
does most of the hiring. I've been living in Denver. Here's my card."

After he had driven away, the listening landlord broke forth:

"You're in luck, Cap. If you get a place with Major Thayer you're
fixed."

"Who is he, anyhow?"

"Who is he? Why, he owns all the land up the creek, and banks all over
Colorado."

"Is that so?"

Arthur was delighted. Of course, it was only a common hand's place, but
here was the vista he had looked for--here was the chance.

He stretched his legs under the table in huge content as he ate his
supper. His youthful imagination had seized upon this slender wire of
promise and was swiftly making it a hoop of diamonds.


II.

When he entered the office next day, however, the Major merely nodded to
him over the railing and said:

"Good morning. Take a seat, please."

He seemed deeply engaged with a tall young man of about thirty-five
years of age, with a rugged, smooth-shaven face. The young man spoke
with a marked English accent, and there was a quality in his manner of
speech which appealed very strongly to Arthur.

"Confeound the fellow," the young Englishman was saying, "I've
discharged him. I cawn't re-engage him, ye kneow! We cawn't have a man
abeout who gets drunk, y' kneow--it's too bloody proveoking, Majah."

"But the poor fellow's family, Saulisbury."

"Oh, hang the fellow's family," laughed Saulisbury. "We are not a
poorhouse, y' kneow--or a house for inebriates. I confess I deon't mind
these things as you do, old man. I'm a Britisher, y' kneow, and I
haven't got intristed in your bloody radicalism, y' kneow. I'm in for
Sam Saulisbury 'from the word go,' as you fellows say."

"And you don't get along any better--I mean in a money way."

"I kneow, and that's too deuced queeah. Your blawsted sentimentality
seems note to do you any harm. Still I put it in this way, y' kneow--if
he weren't so deadly sentimental, what couldn't the fellow do, y'
kneow?"

The Major laughed.

"Well, I can't turn Jackson off, even for you."

"Well, deon't do it then--only if he gets drunk agine and drops a match
into the milk can, fancy! and blows us all up, deon't come back on me,
that's all."

They both laughed at this, and the Major said:

"This is the young man I told you about, Mr.--a----"

"Ramsey is my name," said Arthur, rising.

"Mr. Ramsey, this is my partner, Mr. Saulisbury."

"Haow de do," said Saulisbury, with a nod and a glance, which made
Arthur hot with wrath, coming as it did after the talk he had heard.
Saulisbury did not take the trouble to rise. He merely swung round on
his swivel chair and eyed the young stranger.

Arthur was not thick-skinned, and he had been struck for the first time
by the lash of caste, and it raised a welt.

He choked with his rage and stood silent, while Saulisbury looked him
over, and passed upon his good points, as if he were a horse. There was
something in the lazy lift of his eyebrows which maddened Arthur.

"He looks a decent young fellow enough; I suppeose he'll do to try,"
Saulisbury said at last, with cool indifference. "I'll use him, Majah."

"By Heaven, you won't!" Arthur burst out. "I wouldn't work for you at
any price."

He turned on his heel and rushed out.

He heard the Major calling to him as he went down the stairs, but
refused to turn back. The tears of impotent rage filled his eyes, his
fists strained together, and the curses pushed slowly from his lips. He
wished he had leaped upon his insulter where he sat--the smooth, smiling
hound!

He was dizzy with rage. For the first time in his life he had been
trampled upon, and could not, at least he had not, struck his assailant.

As he stood on the street-corner thinking of these things and waiting
for the mist of rage to pass from his eyes, he felt a hand on his arm,
and turned to Major Thayer, standing by his side.

"Look here, Ramsey, you mustn't mind Sam. He's an infernal Englishman,
and can't understand our way of meeting men. He didn't mean to hurt your
feelings."

Arthur looked down at him silently, and there was a look in his eyes
which went straight to the Major's heart.

"Come, Ramsey, I want to give you a place. Never mind this. You will
really be working for me, anyhow."

Saulisbury himself came down the stairs and approached them, putting on
his gloves, and Arthur perceived for the first time that his eyes were
blue and very good-natured. Saulisbury cared nothing for the youth, but
felt something was due his partner.

"I hope I haven't done anything unpardonable," he began, with his
absurd, rising inflection.

Arthur flared up again.

"I wouldn't work for a man like you if I starved. I'm not a dog. You'll
find an American citizen won't knuckle down to you the way your English
peasants do. If you think you can come out here in the West and treat
men like dogs, you'll find yourself mighty mistaken, that's all!"

The men exchanged glances. This volcanic outburst amazed Saulisbury, but
the Major enjoyed it. It was excellent schooling for his English friend.

"Well, work for me, Mr. Ramsey. Sam knuckles down to me on most
questions. I hope I know how to treat my men. I'm trying to live up to
traditions, anyway."

"You'll admit it is a tradition," said Saulisbury, glad of a chance to
sidle away.

The Major dismissed Saulisbury with a move of the hand.

"Now get into my cart, Mr. Ramsey, and we'll go out to the farm and look
things over," he said; and Arthur clambered in.

"I can't blame you very much," the Major continued, after they were well
settled. "I've been trying lately to get into harmonious relations with
my employees, and I think I'm succeeding. I have a father and
grandfather in shirt sleeves to start from and to refer back to, but
Saulisbury hasn't. He means well, but he can't always hold himself in.
He means to be democratic, but his blood betrays him."

Arthur soon lost the keen edge of his grievance under the kindly chat of
the Major.

The farm lay on either side of a small stream which ran among the buttes
and green mesas of the foothills. Out to the left, the kingly peak
looked benignantly across the lesser heights that thrust their ambitious
heads in the light. Cattle were feeding among the smooth, straw-colored
or sage-green hills. A cluster of farm buildings stood against an
abrupt, cedar-splotched bluff, out of which a stream flowed and shortly
fell into a large basin.

The irrigation ditch pleased and interested Arthur, for it was the
finest piece of work he had yet seen. It ran around the edge of the
valley, discharging at its gates streams of water like veins, which
meshed the land, whereon men were working among young plants.

"I'll put you in charge of a team, I think," the Major said, after
talking with the foreman, a big, red-haired man, who looked at Arthur
with his head thrown back and one eye shut.

"Well, now you're safe," said the Major, as he got into his buggy, "so
I'll leave you. Richards will see you have a bed."

Arthur knew and liked the foreman's family at once. They were familiar
types. At supper he told them of his plans, and how he came to be out
there; and they came to feel a certain proprietorship in him at once.

"Well, I'm glad you've come," said Mrs. Richards, after their
acquaintanceship had mellowed a day or two. "You're like our own folks
back in Illinois, and I can't make these foreigners seem neighbors
nohow. Not but what they're good enough, but, land sakes! they don't
jibe in someway."

Arthur winced a little at being classed in with her folks, and changed
the subject.

One Sunday, a couple of weeks later, just as he was putting on his old
clothes to go out to do his evening's chores, the Major and a merry
party of visitors came driving into the yard. Arthur came out to the
carriage, a little annoyed that these city people should not have come
when he had on his Sunday clothes. The Major greeted him pleasantly.

"Good evening, Ramsey. Just hitch the horses, will you? I want to show
the ladies about a little."

Arthur tied the horses to a post and came back toward the Major,
expecting him to introduce the ladies; but the Major did not, and Mrs.
Thayer did not wait for an introduction, but said, with a peculiar,
well-worn inflection:

"Ramsey, I wish you'd stand between me and the horses. I'm as afraid as
death of horses and cows."

The rest laughed in musical uproar, but Arthur flushed hotly. It was the
manner in which English people, in plays and stories, addressed their
butler or coachman.

He helped her down, however, in sullen silence, for his rebellious
heart seemed to fill his throat.

The party moved ahead in a cloud of laughter. The ladies were dainty as
spring flowers in their light, outdoor dresses, and they seemed to light
up the whole barnyard.

One of them made the most powerful impression upon Arthur. She was so
dainty and so birdlike. Her dress was quaint, with puffed sleeves, and
bands and edges of light green, like an April flower. Her narrow face
was as swift as light in its volatile changes, and her little chin
dipped occasionally into the fluff of her ruffled bodice like a swallow
into the water. Every movement she made was strange and sweet to see.

She cried out in admiration of everything, and clapped her slender hands
like a wondering child. Her elders laughed every time they looked at
her, she was so entirely carried away by the wonders of the farm.

She admired the cows and the colts very much, but shivered prettily when
the bull thrust his yellow and black muzzle through the little window of
his cell.

"The horrid thing! Isn't he savage?"

"Not at all. He wants some meal, that's all," said the Major, as they
moved on.

The young girl skipped and danced and shook her perfumed dress as a
swallow her wings, without appearing vain--it was natural in her to do
graceful things.

Arthur looked at her with deep admiration and delight, even while Mrs.
Saulisbury was talking to him.

He liked Mrs. Saulisbury at once, though naturally prejudiced against
her. She had evidently been a very handsome woman, but some concealed
pain had made her face thin and drawn, and one corner of her mouth was
set in a slight fold as if by a touch of paralysis. Her profile was
still very beautiful, and her voice was that of a highly cultivated
American.

She seemed to be interested in Arthur, and asked him a great many
questions, and all her questions were intelligent.

Saulisbury amused himself by joking the dainty girl, whom he called
Edith.

"This is the cow that gives the cream, ye know; and this one is the
buttermilk cow," he said, as they stood looking in at the barn door.

Edith tipped her eager little face up at him:

"Really?"

The rest laughed again.

"Which is the ice-cream cow?" the young girl asked, to let them know
that she was not to be fooled with.

Saulisbury appealed to the Major.

"Majah, what have you done with our ice-cream cow?"

"She went dry during the winter," said the Major; "no demand on her.
'Supply regulated by the demand,' you know."

They drifted on into the horse barn.

"We're in Ramsey's domain now," said the Major, looking at Arthur, who
stood with his hand on the hip of one of the big gray horses.

Edith turned and perceived Arthur for the first time. A slight shock
went through her sensitive nature, as if some faint prophecy of great
storms came to her in the widening gaze of his dark eyes.

"Oh, do you drive the horses?" she asked quickly.

"Yes, for the present; I am the plowman," he said, in the wish to let
her know he was not a common hand. "I hope to be promoted."

Her eyes rested a moment longer on his sturdy figure and his beautifully
bronzed skin, then she turned to her companions.

After they had driven away, Arthur finished his work in silence; he
could hardly bring himself to speak to the people at the supper table,
his mind was in such tumult.

He went up into his little room, drew a chair to the window facing the
glorious mountains, and sat there until the ingulfing gloom of rising
night climbed to the glittering crown of white soaring a mile above the
lights of the city; but he did not really see the mountains; his eyes
only turned toward them as a cat faces the light of a hearth. It helped
him to think, somehow.

He was naturally keen, sensitive, and impressionable; his mind worked
quickly, for he had read a great deal and held his reading at command.

His thought concerned itself first of all with the attitude these people
assumed toward him. It was perfectly evident that they regarded him as a
creature of inferior sort. He was their servant.

It made him turn hot to think how terribly this contrasted with the
flamboyant phraseology of his graduating oration. If the boys knew that
he was a common hand on a ranch, and treated like a butler!

He came back for relief to the face of the girl, the girl who looked at
him differently somehow.

The impression she made on him was one of daintiness and light; her
eager face and her sweet voice, almost childish in its thin quality,
appealed to him with singular force.

She was strange to him, in accent and life; she was good and sweet, he
felt sure of that, but she seemed so far away in her manner of thought.
He wished he had been dressed a little better; his old hat troubled him
especially.

The girls he had known, even the daintiest of them, could drive horses
and were not afraid of cows. Their way of talking was generally direct
and candid, or had those familiar inflections which were comprehensible
to him. She was alien.

Was she a girl? Sometimes she seemed a woman--when her face sobered a
moment--then again she seemed a child. It was this change of expression
that bewildered and fascinated him.

Then her lips were so scarlet and her level brown eyebrows wavered about
so beautifully! Sometimes one had arched while the other remained quiet;
this gave a winsome look of brightness and roguishness to her face.

He came at last to the strangest thing of all: she had looked at him,
every time he spoke, as if she were surprised at finding herself able to
understand his way of speech.

He worked it all out at last. They all looked upon him as belonging to
the American peasantry; he belonged to a lower world--a world of
service. He was brick, they were china.

Saulisbury and Mrs. Thayer were perfectly frank about it; they spoke
from the English standpoint. The Major and Mrs. Saulisbury had been
touched by the Western spirit and were trying to be just to him, with
more or less unconscious patronization.

As his thoughts ran on, his fury came back, and he hammered and groaned
and cursed as he tossed to and fro on his bed, determined to go back
where the American ideas still held--back to the democracy of Lodi and
Cresco.


III.

These spring days were days of growth to the young man. He grew older
and more thoughtful, and seldom joked with the other men.

There came to the surface moods which he had not known before. There
came times when his teeth set together like the clutch of a wolf, as
some elemental passion rose from the depths of his inherited self.

His father had been a rather morose man, jealous of his rights, quick to
anger, but just in his impulses. Arthur had inherited these stronger
traits, but they had been covered and concealed thus far by the smiling
exterior of youth.

Edith came up nearly every day with the Major in order to enjoy the air
and beauty of the sunshine, and when she did not come near enough to nod
to Arthur, life was a weary treadmill for the rest of the day, and the
mountains became mere gloomy stacks of _débris_.

Sometimes she sat on the porch with the children, while Mrs. Richards,
the foreman's wife, a hearty, talkative woman, plied her with milk and
cookies.

"It must be heaven to live here and feed the chickens and cows," the
young girl said one day when Arthur was passing by--quite accidentally.

Mrs. Richards took a seat, wiping her face on her apron.

"Wal, I don't know about that, when it comes to waiting and tendin' on a
mess of 'em; it don't edgicate a feller much. Does it, Art?"

"We don't do it for play, exactly," he replied, taking a seat on the
porch steps and smiling up at Edith. "I can't stand cows; I like horses,
though. Of course, if I were foreman of the dairy, that would be another
thing."

The flowerlike girl looked down at him with a strange glance. Something
rose in her heart which sobered her. She studied the clear brown of his
face and the white of his forehead, where his hat shielded it from the
sun and the wind. The spread of his strong neck, where it rose from his
shoulders, and the clutch of his brown hands attracted her.

"How strong you look!" she said musingly.

He laughed up at her in frank delight.

"Well, I'm not out here for my health exactly, although when I came here
I was pretty tender. I was just out of college, in fact," he said, glad
of the chance to let her know that he was not an ignorant workingman.

She looked surprised and pleased.

"Oh, you're a college man! I have two brothers at Yale. One of them
plays half-back or short-stop, or something. Of course you played?"

"Baseball? Yes, I was pitcher for '88." He heaved a sigh. He could not
think of those blessed days without sorrow.

"Oh, I didn't mean baseball. I meant football."

"We don't play that much in the West. We go in more for baseball. More
science."

"Oh, I like football best, it's so lively. I like to see them when they
get all bunched up, they look so funny, and then when some fellow gets
the ball under his arms and goes shooting around, with the rest all
jumping at him. Oh, oh, it's exciting!"

She smiled, and her teeth shone from her scarlet lips with a more
familiar expression than he had seen on her face before. Some wall of
reserve had melted away, and they chatted on with growing freedom.

"Well, Edith, are you ready?" asked the Major, coming up.

Arthur sprang up as if he suddenly remembered that he was a workingman.

Edith rose also.

"Yes, all ready, uncle."

"Well, we'll be going in a minute.--Mr. Ramsey, do you think that millet
has got water enough?"

"For the present, yes. The ground is not so dry as it looks."

As they talked on about the farm, Mrs. Richards brought out a glass of
milk for the Major.

Arthur, with nice calculation, unhitched the horse and brought it around
while the Major was detained.

"May I help you in, Miss Newell?"

She gave him her hand with a frank gesture, and the Major reached the
cart just as she was taking the lines from Arthur.

"Are you coming?" she gayly cried. "If not, I'll drive home by myself."

"You mean you'll hold the lines."

"No, sir. I can drive if I have a chance."

"That's what the American girl is saying these days. She wants to hold
the lines."

"Well, I'm going to begin right now and drive all the way home."

As they drove off she flashed a roguish glance back at Arthur--a smile
which shadowed swiftly into a look which had a certain appeal in it. He
was very handsome in his working dress.

All the rest of the day that look was with him. He could not understand
it, though her mood while seated upon the porch was perfectly
comprehensible to him.

The following Sunday morning he saddled up one of the horses and went
down to church. He reasoned Edith would attend the Episcopal service,
and he had the pleasure of seeing her pass up the aisle most exquisitely
dressed.

This feeling of pleasure was turned to sadness by sober second thought.
Added to the prostration before his ideal was the feeling that she
belonged to another world--a world of pleasure and wealth, a world
without work or worry. This feeling was strengthened by the atmosphere
of the beautiful little church, fragrant with flowers, delicately
shadowed, tremulous with music.

He rode home in deep meditation. It was curious how subjective he was
becoming. She had not seen him there, and his trip lacked so much of
being a success. Life seemed hardly worth living as he took off his best
suit and went out to feed the horses.

The men soon observed the regularity of these Sunday excursions, and the
word was passed around that Arthur went down to see his girl, and they
set themselves to find out who she was. They did not suspect that he
sought the Major's niece.

It was a keen delight to see her, even at that distance. To get one look
from her, or to see her eyelashes fall over her brown eyes, paid him for
all his trouble, and yet it left him hungrier at heart than before.

Sometimes he got seated in such wise that he could see the fine line of
her cheek and chin. He noticed also her growing color. The free life she
lived in the face of the mountain winds was doing her good.

Sometimes he went at night to the song service, and his rides home alone
on the plain, with the shadowy mountains over there massed in the
starlit sky, were most wonderful experiences.

As he rose and fell on his broncho's steady gallop, he took off his hat
to let the wind stir his hair. Riding thus, exalted thus, one night he
shaped a desperate resolution. He determined to call on her just as he
used to visit the girls at Viroqua with whom he was on the same intimacy
of footing.

He was as good as any class. He was not as good as she was, for he
lacked her sweetness and purity of heart, but merely the fact that she
lived in a great house and wore beautiful garments, did not exclude him
from calling upon her.


IV.

But week after week went by without his daring to make his resolution
good. He determined many times to ask permission to call, but somehow he
never did.

He seemed to see her rather less than at first; and, on her part, there
was a change. She seemed to have lost her first eager and frank
curiosity about him, and did not always smile now when she met him.

Then, again, he could not in working dress ask to call; it would seem so
incongruous to stand before her to make such a request covered with
perspiration and dust. It was hard to be dignified under such
circumstances; he must be washed and dressed properly.

In the meantime, the men had discovered how matters stood, and some of
them made very free with the whole situation. Two of them especially
hated him.

These two men had drifted to the farm from the mines somewhere, and were
rough, hard characters. They would have come to blows with him, only
they knew something of the power lying coiled in his long arms.

One day he overheard one of the men speaking of Edith, and his tone
stopped the blood in Arthur's heart. When he walked among the group of
men his face was white and set.

"You take that back!" he said in a low voice. "You take that back, or
I'll kill you right where you stand!"

"Do him up, Tim!" shouted the other ruffian; but Tim hesitated. "I'll do
him, then," said the other man. "I owe him one myself."

He caught up a strip of board which was lying on the ground near, but
one of the Norwegian workmen put his foot on it, and before he could
command his weapon, Arthur brought a pail which he held in his right
hand down upon his opponent's head.

The man fell as if dead, and the pail shattered into its original
staves. Arthur turned then to face Tim, his hands doubled into mauls;
but the other men interfered, and the encounter was over.

Arthur waited to see if the fallen man could rise, and then turned away
reeling and breathless. For an hour afterward his hands shook so badly
that he could not go on with his work.

At first he determined to go to Richards, the foreman, and demand the
discharge of the two tramps, but as he thought of the explanation
necessary, he gave it up as impossible.

He almost wept with shame and despair at the thought of her name having
been mixed in the tumult. He had meant to kill when he struck, and the
nervous prostration which followed showed him how far he had gone. He
had not had a fight since he was thirteen years of age, and now
everything seemed lost in the light of his murderous rage. It would all
come out sooner or later, and she would despise him.

He went to see the man just before going to supper, and found him in his
barracks, sitting near a pail of cold water from which he was splashing
his head at intervals.

He looked up as Arthur entered, but went on with his ministrations;
after a pause he said:

"That was a terrible lick you give me, young feller--brought the blood
out of my ears."

"I meant to kill you," was Arthur's grim reply.

"I know you did. If that darned Norse hadn't put his foot on that board
_you'd_ be doing this." He lifted a handful of water to his swollen and
aching head.

"What did you go to that board for? Why didn't you stand up like a man?"

"Because you were swinging that bucket."

"Oh, bosh! You were a coward as well as a blackguard."

The man looked up with a gleam in his eye.

"See here, young feller--if this head----"

Arthur's face darkened, and the man stopped short.

"Now listen, Dan Williams, I want to tell you something. I'm not going
to report this. I'm going to let you stay here till you're well, and
then I want this thing settled with Richards looking on; when I get
through with you, then, you'll want a cot in some hospital."

The man's eyes sullenly fell, and Arthur turned toward the door. At the
doorway he turned and a terrible look came into his face.

"And, more than that, if you say another word about--her, I'll brain
you, sick or well!"

As he talked, the old, wild fury returned, and he came back and faced
the wounded man.

"Now, what do you propose to do?" he demanded, his hands clinching.

The other man looked at him, with a curious frown upon his face.

"Think I'm a damned fool!" he curtly answered, and sopped his
handkerchief in the water again.

The rage went out of Arthur's eyes, and he almost smiled, so much did
that familiar phrase convey, with its subtle inflections. It was cunning
and candid and chivalrous all at once. It acknowledged defeat and guilt
and embodied a certain pride in the victor.

"Well, that settles that," said Arthur. "One thing more--I don't want
you to say what made the row between us."

"All right, pard; only, you'd better see Tim."

In spite of his care, the matter came to the ears of Richards, who
laughed over it and told his wife, who stared blankly.

"Good land! When did it happen?"

"A couple of days ago."

"Wal, there! I thought there was a nigger in the fence. Dan had a head
on him like a bushel basket. What was it about?"

"Something Tim said about Edith."

"I want to know! Wal, wal! An' here they've been going around as
peaceful as two kittens ever since."

"Of course. They pitched in and settled it man fashion; they ain't a
couple of women who go around sniffin' and spittin' at each other," said
Richards, with brutal sarcasm. "As near as I can learn, Tim and Dan come
at him to once."

"They're a nice pair of tramps!" said Mrs. Richards indignantly. "I told
you when they come they'd make trouble."

"I told you the cow'd eat up the grindstone," Richards replied with a
grin, walking away.

The more Mrs. Richards thought of it, the finer it all appeared to her.
She was deeply engaged now on Arthur's side, and was very eager to do
something to help on in his "sparking," as she called it. She seized the
first opportunity to tell Edith.

"Don't s'pose you heard of the little fracas we had t'other day," she
began, in phrase which she intended to be delicately indirect.

Edith was sitting in the cart, and Mrs. Richards stood at the wheel,
with her apron shading her head.

"Why, no. What was it?"

"Mr. Ramsey come mighty near gettin' killed." The old woman enjoyed
deeply the dramatic pallor and distortion of the girl's face.

"Why--why--what do you mean?"

"Wal, if he hadn't a lammed one feller with a bucket he'd a been laid
out sure. So Richards says; as it is, it's the other feller that has the
head." She laughed to see the girl's face grow rosy again.

"Then--Mr. Ramsey isn't hurt?"

"Not a scratch! The funny part of it is, they've been going around here
for a week, quiet as you please. I wouldn't have known anything about it
only for Richards."

"Oh, isn't it dreadful?" said the girl.

"Yes, 'tis!" the elder woman readily agreed; "but why don't you ask what
it was all about?"

"Oh, I don't want to know anything more about it; it's too terrible."

Mrs. Richards was approaching the climax.

"It was all about you."

The girl could not realize what part she should have with a disgraceful
row in the barnyard of her uncle's farm.

"Yes, these men--they're regular tramps; I told Richards so the first
time I set eyes on 'em--they made a little free with your name, and Art
he overheard them and he went for 'em, and they both come at him, two
to one, and he lammed both out in a minute--so Richards says. Now I call
that splendid; don't you? A young feller that'll stand up for his girl
ag'in two big tramps----"

The Major had been motioning for Edith to drive on down toward the gate,
and she seized the chance for escape. Her lips quivered with shame and
anger. It seemed already as if she had been splashed with mire.

"Oh, the vulgar creatures!" she said, in her throat, her teeth shut
tight.

"There, isn't that a fine field?" asked the Major, as he pointed to the
cabbages. "There is a chance for an American imitator of Monet--those
purple-brown deeps and those gray-blue-pink pearl tints--What's the
matter, my dear?" he broke off to ask. "Are you ill?"

"No, no, only let's go home," she said, the tears coming into her eyes.

He got in hastily.

"My dear, you are really ill. What's the matter? Has your old enemy the
headache--" He put his arm about her tenderly.

"No, no! I'm sick of this place--I wish I'd never seen it! How could
those dreadful men fight about me? It's horrible!"

The Major whistled.

"Oh, ho! that's got around to you, has it? I didn't know it myself until
yesterday; I was hoping it wouldn't reach you at all. I wouldn't mind
it, my dear. It's the shadow every lovely woman throws, no matter where
she walks; it's only your shadow that has passed over the cesspool."

"But I can't even bear that; it seems like a part of me. What do you
suppose they said of me?" she asked, in morbid curiosity.

"Now, now, dearest, to know that would be stepping into the muck after
your shadow; the talk of such men is unimaginable to you."

"You don't mean Mr. Ramsey?"

"No; Mr. Ramsey is a different sort of man, and I don't suppose anything
else would have brought him to blows with those rough men."

They sat looking straight forward.

"Oh, it's horrible, horrible!"

Her uncle tightened his arm about her.

"I suppose the knowledge of such lower deeps must come to you some day,
but don't seek it now; I've told you all you ought to know. Ramsey meant
well," he went on, after a silence, "but such things do little good, not
enough to pay for the outlay of self-respect. He can't control their
talk when he's out of hearing."

"But I supposed that if a woman was--good--I mean--I didn't know that
men talked in that way about girls--like me. How could they?"

The abyss still fascinated her.

"My dear, such men are only half civilized. They have all the passions
of animals, and all the vices of men. Ramsey was too hot-headed; their
words do not count; they weren't worth whipping."

There was a little silence. They were nearing the mountains again, and
both raised their eyes to the peaks deeply shadowed in Tyrian purple.

"I know how you feel, I think," the Major went on, "but the best thing
to do is to forget it. I'm sorry Ramsey fought. To walk into a gang of
rough men like that is foolish and dangerous too, for the ruffian is
generally the best man physically, I'm sorry to say."

"It was brave, though, don't you think so?" she asked.

He looked at her quickly.

"Oh, yes; it was brave and very youthful."

She smiled a little for the first time.

"I guess I like youth."

"In that case I'll have to promote him for it," he said with a smile
that made her look away toward the mountains again.


V.

Saulisbury took a sudden turn to friendliness, and defended the action
when the Major related the story that night at the dinner table, as they
were seated over their coffee and cigars. He was dining with the
Saulisburys.

"It's uncommon plucky, that's what I think, d'ye kneow. By Jeove, I
didn't think the young dog had it in him, really. He did one fellow up
with a bucket, they say, and met the other fellow with his left. Where
did the young beggah get his science?"

"At college, I suppose."

"But I suppeosed these little Western colleges were a milk-and-wahta
sawt of thing, ye kneow--Baptist and Christian Endeavor, and all that,
ye kneow."

"Oh, no," laughed the Major. "They are not so benighted as that. They
give a little attention to the elementary studies, though I believe
athletics do come second on the curriculum."

"Well, the young dog seems to have made some use of his chawnce," said
Saulisbury, who had dramatized the matter in his own way, and saw Ramsey
doing the two men up in accordance with Queensberry rules. "I wouldn't
hawf liked the jobe meself, do ye kneow. They're forty years apiece, and
as hard as nails."

Mrs. Saulisbury looked up from her walnuts.

"Sam is ready to carry the olive club to Mr. Ramsey. 'The poor beggar,'
as he has called him all along, will be a gentleman from this time
forward."

After the Major had gone, Saulisbury said:

"There's one thing the Majah was careful note to mention, my deah. Why
should this young fellow be going abeout defending the good name of his
niece? Do ye kneow, my deah, I fancy the young idiot is in love with
her."

"Well, suppose he is?"

"But, my deah! In England, you kneow, it wouldn't mattah; it would be a
case of hopeless devotion. But as I understand things heah, it may
become awkward. Don't ye think so, love?"

"It depends upon the young man. Edith could do worse than marry a good,
clean, wholesome fellow like that."

"Good gracious! You deon't allow your mind to go that fah?"

"Why, certainly! I'd much rather she'd marry a strong young workingman
than some burnt-out third-generation wreck of her own set in the city."

"But the fellow has no means."

"He has muscle and brains, and besides, she has something of her own."

Saulisbury filled his pipe slowly.

"Luckily, it's all theory on our part; the contingency isn't heah--isn't
likely to arrive, in fact."

"Don't be too sure. If I can read a girl's heart in the lines of her
face, she's got where principalities and powers are of small account."

"Really?"

"Sure as shooting," she smilingly said.

Saulisbury mused and puffed.

"In that case, we will have to turn in and give the fellow what you
Americans call a boost."

"That's _right_," his wife replied slangily.

Edith went to her room that night with a mind whirling in dizzying
circles, whose motion she could not check. It was terrible to have it
all come in this way.

She knew Arthur cared for her--she had known it from the first--but with
the happy indifference of youth, she had not looked forward to the end
of the summer. The sure outcome of passion had kept itself somewhere in
a golden glimmer on the lower sweep of the river.

She wished for some one to go to for advice. Mrs. Thayer, she knew,
would exclaim in horror over the matter. The Major had hinted the course
she would have to take, which was to show Arthur he had no connection
with her life--if she could. But deep in her heart she knew she could
not do that.

Suddenly a thought came to her which made her flush till the dew of
shame stood upon her forehead. He had never been to see her; she had
always been to see him!

She knew that this was true. She did not attempt to conceal it from
herself now. The charm of those rides with her uncle was the chance of
seeing Arthur. The sweet, never-wearying charm that made this summer one
of perfect happiness, that had made her almost forget her city ways and
friends, that had made her brown and strong with the soil and wind, was
daily contact with a robust and wholesome young man, a sturdy figure
with brown throat and bare, strong arms.

She went off at this point into a retrospective journey along the
pathways of her summer outing. At this place he stood at the watering
trough, leaning upon his great gray horse. Here he was walking behind
his plow; he was lifting his hat--the clear sunshine fell over his face.
She saw again the splendid flex of his side and powerful thigh. Here he
was in the hayfield, and she saw the fork-handle bend like a willow twig
under his smiling effort, the muscles on his brown arms rolling like
some perfect machinery. She idealized all he did, and the entire summer
and the wide landscape seemed filled with prismatic colors.

Then her self-accusations came back. She had gone down into the field to
see him; perhaps the very man who was with him then was one of those who
had jested of her and whom he had punished. Her little hands clutched.

"I'll never go out there again! I'll never see him again--never!" she
said, with her teeth shut tight.

Mrs. Thayer did not take any very great interest in the matter until
Mrs. Saulisbury held a session with her. Then she sputtered in deep
indignation.

"Why, how dare he make love to my niece? Why, the presumptuous thing!
Why, the idea! He's a workingman!"

Mrs. Saulisbury remained calm and smiling. She was the only person who
could manage Mrs. Thayer.

"Yes, that's true. But he's a college-bred man, and----"

"College-bred! These nasty little Western colleges--what do they amount
to? Why, he curries our horses."

Mrs. Saulisbury was amused.

"I know that is an enormity, but I heard the Major tell of currying
horses once."

"That was in the army--anyhow, it doesn't matter. Edith can simply
ignore the whole thing."

"I hope she can, but I doubt it very much."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that Edith is interested in him."

"I don't believe it! Why, it is impossible! You're crazy, Jeannette!"

"He's very handsome in a way."

"He's red and big-jointed, and he's a common plowboy." Mrs. Thayer
gasped, returning to her original charge.

Mrs. Saulisbury laughed, being malevolent enough to enjoy the whole
situation.

"He appears to me to be a very uncommon plowboy. Well, I wouldn't try to
do anything about it, Charlotte," she added. "You remember the fate of
the Brookses, who tried to force Maud to give up her clerk. If this is a
case of true love, you might as well surrender gracefully."

"But I can't do that. I'm responsible for her to her father. I'll go
right straight and ask her."

"Charlotte," Mrs. Saulisbury's voice rang with a stern note, "don't you
_presume_ to do such a thing! You will precipitate everything. The girl
don't know her own mind, and if you go up there and attack this young
man, you'll tip the whole dish over. Don't you know you can't safely
abuse that young fellow in her hearing? Sit down now and be reasonable.
Leave her alone for a while. Let her think it over alone."

This good counsel prevailed, and the other woman settled into a calmer
state.

"Well, it's a dreadful thing, anyhow."

"Perfectly dreadful! But you mustn't take a conventional view of it. You
must remember, a good, handsome, healthy man should come first as a
husband, and this young man is very attractive, and I must admit he
seems a gentleman, so far as I can see. Besides, you can't do anything
by storming up to that poor girl. Let her alone for a few days."

Following this suggestion, no one alluded to the fight, or appeared to
notice Edith's changed moods, but Mrs. Saulisbury could not forbear
giving her an occasional squeeze of wordless sympathy, as she passed
her.

It was pitiful to see the tumult and fear and responsibility of the
world coming upon this dainty, simple-hearted girl. Life had been so
straightforward before. No toil, no problems, no choosing of things for
one's self. Now suddenly here was the greatest problem of all coming at
the end of a summer-time outing.

Meanwhile Arthur was longing to see Edith once more, and wondering why
she had stopped coming.

The Major came up on Friday and Saturday, but came alone, and that left
only the hope of seeing Edith at church, and the young fellow worked on
with that to nerve his arm.

The family respected his departure on Sunday. They plainly felt his
depression, and sympathized with it.

"Walk home with her. I would," said Mrs. Richards, as he went through
the kitchen.

"So would I. Dang me if I'd stand off," Richards started to say, but
Arthur did not stop to listen.

As he rode down to the city, he recovered, naturally, a little of his
buoyancy. Sleep had rested his body and cleared his mind for action.

He sat in his usual place at the back of the church, and his heart
throbbed painfully as he saw her moving up the aisle, a miracle of lace
and coolness, with fragrant linen enveloping her lovely young form, so
erect and graceful and slender.

Then his heart bowed down before her, not because she was above him in a
social class--he did not admit that--but because he was a lover, and
she was his ideal. He was cast down as suddenly as he had been exalted
by her timid look around, as was her custom, in order to bow to him.

He stood at the door as they came out, though he felt foolish and boyish
in doing so. She approached him with eyes turned away; but as she passed
him she flashed an appealing, mystical look at him, and, flushing a
radiant pink, slipped out of the side door, leaving him stunned and
smarting for a moment.

As he mounted his horse and rode away toward the ranch, his thoughts
were busy with that strange look of hers. He came to understand and to
believe at last that she appealed to him and trusted in him and waited
for him.

Then something strong and masterful rose in him. He lifted his big brown
fist in the air in a resolution which was like that of Napoleon when he
entered Russia. He turned and rode furiously back toward the town.

As he walked up the gravel path to the Thayer house it seemed like a
castle to him. The great granite portico, the curving flight of steps,
the splendor of the glass above the door, all impressed him with the
terrible gulf between his fortune and hers.

He was met at the door by the girl from the table. He greeted her as his
equal, and said:

"Is Miss Newell at home?"

The girl smiled with perfect knowledge and sympathy. She was on his
side; and she knew, besides, how much it meant to have the hired man
come in at the front door.

"Yes, she's at dinner. Won't you come in, Mr. Ramsey?"

He entered without further words, and followed her into the reception
room, which was the most splendid room he had ever seen. He stood with
his feet upon a rug which was worth more than his year's pay, and he
knew it.

"Just take a seat here, and I'll announce you," said the girl, who was
almost trembling with eagerness to explode her torpedo of news.

"Don't disturb them. I'll wait."

But she had whisked out of the room, having plans of her own; perhaps
revenges of her own.

Arthur listened. He could not help it. He heard the girl's clear,
distinct voice; the open doorways conveyed every word to him.

"It's Mr. Ramsey, ma'am, to see Miss Newell."

The young man's strained ears heard the sudden pause in the click of
knives and plates. He divined the gasps of astonishment with which Mrs.
Thayer's utterance began.

"Well, I declare! Now, Major, you see what I told you?"

"The plucky young dog!" said Saulisbury, in sincere admiration.

Mrs. Thayer went on:

"Now, Mr. Thayer, this is the result of treating your servants as
equals."

The Major laughed.

"My dear, you're a little precipitate. It may be a mistake. The young
man may be here to tell me one of the colts is sick."

"You don't believe any such thing! You heard what the girl said--Oh,
look at Edith!"

There was a sudden pushing and scraping of chairs. Arthur rose, tense,
terrified. A little flurry of voices followed.

"Here, give her some wine! The poor thing! No wonder----"

Then a slight pause.

"She's all right," said the Major in a relieved tone. "Just a little
surprised, that's all."

There came a little inarticulate murmur from the girl, and then another
pause.

"By Jove! this is getting dramatic!" said Saulisbury.

"Be quiet, Sam," said his wife. "I won't have any of your scoffing. I'm
glad there is some sincerity of emotion left in our city girls."

Mrs. Thayer broke in:

"Major, you go right out there and send that impudent creature away.
It's disgraceful!"

Arthur turned cold and hard as granite. His heart rose with a murderous,
slow swell. He held his breath, while the calm, amused voice of the
Major replied:

"But, see here, my dear, it's none of my business. Mr. Ramsey is an
American citizen--I like him--he has a perfect right to call----"

"H'yah, h'yah!" called Saulisbury in a chuckle.

"He's a man of parts, and besides, I rather imagine Edith has given him
the right to call."

The anger died out of Arthur's heart, and the warm blood rushed once
more through his tingling body. Tears came to his eyes, and he could
have embraced his defender.

"Nothing like consistency, Majah," said Saulisbury.

"Sam, will you be quiet?"

The Major went on:

"I imagine the whole matter is for Edith to decide. It's really very
simple. Let her send word to him that she does not care to see him, and
he'll go away--no doubt of it."

"Why, of course," said Mrs. Thayer. "Edith, just tell Mary to say to Mr.
What's-his-name----"

Again that creeping thrill came into the young man's hair. His world
seemed balanced on a needle's point.

Then a chair was pushed back slowly. There was another little flurry.
Again the blood poured over him like a splash of warm water, leaving him
cold and wet.

"Edith!" called the astonished, startled voice of Mrs. Thayer. "What are
you going to do?"

"I'm going to see him," said the girl's firm voice.

There was a soft clapping of two pairs of hands.

As she came through the portière, Edith walked like a princess. There
was amazing resolution in her back-flung head, and on her face was the
look of one who sets sail into unknown seas.

Someway--somehow, through a mist of light and a blur of sound, he met
her--and the cling of her arms about his neck moved him to tears.

No word was uttered till the Major called from the doorway:

"Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Thayer wants to know if you won't come and have some
dinner."



A STOP-OVER AT TYRE.

I.


Albert Lohr was studying the motion of the ropes and lamps, and
listening to the rumble of the wheels and the roar of the ferocious wind
against the pane of glass that his head touched. It was the midnight
train from Marion rushing toward Warsaw like some savage thing
unchained, creaking, shrieking, and clattering through the wild storm
which possessed the whole Mississippi Valley.

Albert lost sight of the lamps at last, and began to wonder what his
future would be. "First I must go through the university at Madison;
then I'll study law, go into politics, and perhaps some time I may go to
Washington."

In imagination he saw that wonderful city. As a Western boy, Boston to
him was historic, New York was the great metropolis, but Washington was
the great American city, and political greatness the only fame.

The car was nearly empty: save here and there the wide-awake Western
drummer, and a woman with four fretful children, the train was as
deserted as it was frightfully cold. The engine shrieked warningly at
intervals, the train rumbled hollowly over short bridges and across
pikes, swung round the hills, and plunged with wild warnings past little
towns hid in the snow, with only here and there a light shining dimly.

One of the drummers now and then rose up from his cramped bed on the
seats, and swore dreadfully at the railway company for not heating the
cars. The woman with the children inquired for the tenth time, "Is the
next station Lodi?"

"Yes, ma'am, it is," snarled the drummer, as he jerked viciously at the
strap on his valise; "and darned glad I am, too, I can tell yeh! I'll be
stiff as a car-pin if I stay in this infernal ice chest another hour. I
wonder what the company think----"

At Lodi several people got on, among them a fat man and his pretty
daughter abnormally wide awake considering the time of night. She saw
Albert for the same reason that he saw her--they were both young and
good-looking.

He began his musings again, modified by this girl's face. He had left
out the feminine element; obviously he must recapitulate. He'd study
law, yes; but that would not prevent going to sociables and church
fairs. And at these fairs the chances were good for a meeting with a
girl. Her father must be influential--country judge or district
attorney; this would open new avenues.

He was roused by the sound of his own name.

"Is Albert Lohr in this car?" shouted the brakeman, coming in, enveloped
in a cloud of fine snow.

"Yes, here!" shouted Albert.

"Here's a telegram for you."

Albert snatched the envelope with a sudden fear of disaster at home; but
it was dated "Tyre":

    "Get off at Tyre. I'll be there.
                            "Hartley."

"Well, now, that's fun!" said Albert, looking at the brakeman. "When do
we reach there?"

"About 2.20."

"Well, by thunder! A pretty time o' night!"

The brakeman grinned sympathetically. "Any answer?" he asked at length.

"No; that is, none that 'u'd do the matter justice," Albert said,
studying the telegram.

"Hartley friend o' yours?"

"Yes; know him?"

"Yes; he boarded where I did in Warsaw."

When he came back again, the brakeman said to Albert, in a hesitating
way:

"Ain't going t' stop off long, I s'pose?"

"May an' may not; depends on Hartley. Why?"

"Well, I've got an aunt there that keeps boarders, and I kind o' like t'
send her one when I can. If you should happen to stay a few days, go an'
see her. She sets up first-class grub, an' it wouldn't kill anybody,
anyhow, if you went up an' called."

"Course not. If I stay long enough to make it pay I'll look her up sure.
I ain't no Vanderbilt to stop at two-dollar-a-day hotels."

The brakeman sat down opposite Albert, encouraged by his smile.

"Y' see, my division ends at Warsaw, and I run back and forth here every
other day, but I don't get much chance to see them, and I ain't worth a
cuss f'r letter-writin'. Y'see, she's only aunt by marriage, but I like
her; an' I guess she's got about all she can stand up under, an' so I
like t' help her a little when I can. The old man died owning nothing
but the house, an' that left the old lady t' rustle f'r her livin'.
Dummed if she ain't sandy as old Sand. They're gitt'n' along purty----"

The whistle blew for brakes, and, seizing his lantern, the brakeman
slammed out on the platform.

"Tough night for twisting brakes," suggested Albert, when he came in
again.

"Yes--on the freight."

"Good heavens! I should say so. They don't run freight such nights as
this?"

"Don't they? Well, I guess they don't stop for a storm like this if
they's any money to be made by sending her through. Many's the night
I've broke all night on top of the old wooden cars, when the wind cut
like a razor. Shear the hair off a cast-iron mule--_woo-o-o_! There's
where you need grit, old man," he ended, dropping into familiar speech.

"Yes; or need a job awful bad."

The brakeman was struck with this idea. "There's where you're right. A
fellow don't take that kind of a job for the fun of it. Not much! He
takes it because he's got to. That's as sure's you're a foot high. I
tell you, a feller's got t' rustle these days if he gits any kind of a
job----"

"_Toot, too-o-o-o-t, toot!_"

The station passed, the brakeman did not return, perhaps because he
found some other listener, perhaps because he was afraid of boring this
pleasant young fellow. Albert shuddered with a sympathetic pain as he
thought of the men on the tops of the icy cars, with hands straining at
the brake, and the wind cutting their faces like a sand-blast. His mind
went out to the thousands of freight trains shuttling to and fro across
the vast web of gleaming iron spread out on the mighty breast of the
Western plains. Oh, those tireless hands at the wheel and throttle!

He looked at his watch; it was two o'clock; the next station was Tyre.
As he began to get his things together, the brakeman came in.

"Oh, I forgot to say that the old lady's name is Welsh--Mrs. Robert
Welsh. Say I sent yeh, and it'll be all right."

"Sure! I'll try her in the morning--that is, if I find out I'm going to
stay."

"Tyre! _Tyre!_" yelled the brakeman, as with clanging bell and whizz of
steam the train slowed down and the wheels began to cry out in the snow.

Albert got his things together, and pulled his cap firmly down on his
head.

"Here goes!" he muttered.

"Hold y'r breath!" shouted the brakeman. Albert swung himself to the
platform before the station--a platform of planks along which the snow
was streaming like water.

"Good night!" called the brakeman.

"_Good_ night!"

"All-l abo-o-o-ard!" called the conductor somewhere in the storm; the
brakeman swung his lantern, and the train drew off into the blinding
whirl, and the lights were soon lost in the clouds of snow.

No more desolate place could well be imagined. A level plain, apparently
bare of houses, swept by a ferocious wind; a dingy little den called a
station--no other shelter in sight; no sign of life save the dull glare
of two windows to the left, alternately lost and found in the storm.

Albert's heart contracted with a sudden fear; the outlook was appalling.

"Where's the town?" he yelled savagely at a dimly seen figure with a
lantern--a man evidently locking the station door, his only refuge.

"Over there," was the surly reply.

"How far?"

"'Bout a mile."

"A mile!"

"That's what I said--a mile."

"Well, I'll be blanked!"

"Well, y'better be doing something besides standing here, 'r y' 'll
freeze t' death. I'd go over to the Arteeshun House an' go t' bed if I
was in your fix."

"Oh, y' would!"

"I would."

"Well, where _is_ the Artesian House?"

"See them lights?"

"I see them lights."

"Well, they're it."

"Oh, wouldn't your grammar make Old Grammati-cuss curl up, though!"

"What say?" queried the man, bending his head toward Albert, his form
being almost lost in the snow that streamed against them both.

"I said I guessed I'd try it," grinned the youth invisibly.

"Well, I would if I was in your fix. Keep right close after me; they's
some ditches here, and the foot-bridges are none too wide."

"The Artesian is owned by the railway, eh?"

"Yup."

"And you're the clerk?"

"Yup; nice little scheme, ain't it?"

"Well, it'll do," replied Albert.

The man laughed without looking around.

"Keep your longest cuss words till morning; you'll need 'em, take my
word for it."

In the little barroom, lighted by a vilely smelling kerosene lamp, the
clerk, hitherto a shadow and a voice, came to light as a middle-aged man
with a sullen face slightly belied by a sly twinkle in his eyes.

"This beats all the winters I ever _did_ see. It don't do nawthin' but
blow, _blow_. Want to go to bed, I s'pose. Well, come along."

He took up one of the absurd little lamps and tried to get more light
out of it.

"Dummed if a white bean wouldn't be better."

"Spit on it!" suggested Albert.

"I'd throw the whole business out o' the window for a cent," growled the
man.

"Here's y'r cent," said the boy.

"You're mighty frisky f'r a feller gitt'n' off'n a midnight train,"
replied the man, tramping along a narrow hallway, and talking in a voice
loud enough to awaken every sleeper in the house.

"Have t' be, or there'd be a pair of us."

"You'll laugh out o' the other side o' y'r mouth when you saw away on
one o' the bell-collar steaks this house puts up," ended the clerk as
he put the lamp down.

"'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,'" called Albert after
him, and then plunged into the icy bed.

He was awakened the next morning by the cooks pounding steak down in the
kitchen and wrangling over some division of duty. It was a vile place at
any time, but on a morning like this it was appalling. The water was
frozen, the floor like ice, the seven-by-nine glass frosted so that he
couldn't see to comb his hair.

"All that got me out of bed," said Albert to the clerk, "was the thought
of leaving."

"Got y'r teeth filed?" said the day clerk, with a wink. "Old Collins's
beef will try 'em."

The breakfast was incredibly bad--so much worse than he expected that
Albert was forced to admit he had never seen its like. He fled from the
place without a glance behind, and took passage in an omnibus for the
town, a mile away. It was terribly cold, the thermometer twenty below
zero; but the sun was very brilliant, and the air still.

The driver pulled up before a very ambitious wooden hotel entitled "The
Eldorado," and Albert dashed in at the door and up to the stove, with
both hands covering his ears.

As he stood there, frantic with pain, kicking his toes and rubbing his
ears, he heard a chuckle--a slow, sly, insulting chuckle--turned, and
saw Hartley standing in the doorway, visibly exulting over his misery.

"Hello, Bert! that you?"

"What's left of me. Say, you're a good one, you are? Why didn't you
telegraph me at Marion? A deuce of a night I've had of it!"

"Do ye good," laughed Hartley, a tall, alert, handsome fellow nearly
thirty years of age.

After a short and vigorous "blowing up," Albert said: "Well, now, what's
the meaning of all this, anyhow? Why this change from Racine?"

"Well, you see, I got wind of another fellow going to work this county
for a 'Life of Logan,' and thinks I, 'By jinks! I'd better drop in ahead
of him with Blaine's "Twenty Years."' I telegraphed f'r territory, got
it, and telegraphed to stop you."

"You did it. When did you come down?"

"Last night, six o'clock."

Albert was getting warmer and better-natured.

"Well, I'm here; what ye going t'do with me?"

"I'll use you some way; can't tell. First thing is to find a boarding
place where we can work in a couple o' books on the bill."

"Well, I don't know about that, but I'm going to look up a place a
brakeman gave me a pointer on."

"All right; here goes!"

Scarcely any one was stirring on the streets. The wind was pitilessly
cold, though not strong. The snow under the feet cried out with a note
like glass and steel. The windows of the stores were thick with frost,
and Albert gave a shudder of fear, almost as if he were homeless. He had
never experienced anything like it before.

Entering one of the stores, they found a group of men sitting about the
stove, smoking, chatting, and spitting aimlessly into a huge spittoon
made of boards and filled with sawdust. Each man suspended smoking and
talking as the strangers entered.

"Can any of you gentlemen tell us where Mrs. Welsh lives?"

There was a silence; then the clerk behind the counter said:

"I guess so. Two blocks north and three west, next to last house on
left-hand side."

"Clear as a bell!" laughed Hartley, and they pushed out into the cold
again, drawing their mufflers up to their eyes.

"I don't want much of this," muttered Bert through his scarf.

The house was a large frame house standing on the edge of a bank, and as
the young men waited they could look down on the meadow land, where the
river lay blue and still and as hard as iron.

A pale little girl ten, or twelve years of age, let them in.

"Is this where Mrs. Welsh lives?"

"Yes, sir."

"Will you ask her to come here a moment?"

"Yes, sir," piped the little one. "Won't you sit down by the fire?" she
added, with a quaint air of hospitality.

The room was the usual village sitting room: a cylinder heater full of
wood at one side of it; a rag carpet, much faded, on the floor; a
cabinet organ; a doleful pair of crayon portraits on the wall, one
supposedly a baby--a figure dressed like a child of six months, but with
a face old and cynical enough to be forty-five. The paper on the wall
was of the hideous striped sort, and the chairs were nondescript; but
everything was clean--so clean it looked worn more with brushing than
with use.

A slim woman of fifty, with hollow eyes and a patient smile, came in,
wiping her hands on her apron.

"How d'ye do? Did you want to see me?"

"Yes," said Hartley, smiling. "The fact is, we're book agents, and
looking for a place to board."

"Well--a--I--yes, I keep boarders."

"I was sent here by a brakeman on the midnight express," put in Bert.

"Oh, Tom," said the woman, her face clearing. "Tom's always sending us
people. Why, yes; I've got room for you, I guess--this room here." She
pushed open a folding door leading into what had been her parlor.

"You can have this."

"And the price?"

"Four dollars."

"Eight dollars f'r the two of us. All right; we'll be with you a week or
two if we have luck."

The woman smiled and shut the door. Bert thought how much she looked
like his mother in the back--the same tired droop in the shoulders, the
same colorless dress, once blue or brown, now a peculiar drab,
characterless with much washing.

"Excuse me, won't you? I've got to be at my baking; make y'rselves at
home."

"Now, Jim," said Bert, "I'm going t' stay right here while you go and
order our trunks around--just t' pay you off f'r last night."

"All right," said Hartley, cheerily going out. After getting warm, Bert
sat down at the organ and played a gospel hymn or two from the Moody and
Sankey hymnal. He was in the midst of the chorus of "Let your lower
lights," etc., when a young woman entered the room. She had a
whisk-broom in her hand, and stood a picture of gentle surprise. Bert
wheeled about on his stool.

"I thought it was Stella," she began.

"I'm a book agent," said Bert, rising with his best grace; "I might as
well out with it. I'm here to board."

"Oh!" said the girl, with some relief. She was very fair and very
slight, almost frail. Her eyes were of the sunniest blue, her face pale
and somewhat thin, but her lips showed scarlet, and her teeth were
fine. Bert liked her and smiled.

"A book agent is the next thing to a burglar, I know; but still----"

"Oh, I didn't mean that, but I _was_ surprised. When did you come?"

"Just a few moments ago. Am I in your way?" he inquired, with elaborate
solicitude.

"Oh, no! Please go on; you play very well, I think. It is so seldom
young men play."

"I had to at college; the other fellows all wanted to sing. You play, of
course."

"When I have time." She sighed. There was a weary droop in her voice;
she seemed aware of it, and said more brightly:

"You mean Marion, I suppose?"

"Yes; I'm in my second year."

"I went there two years. Then I had to quit and come home to help
mother."

"Did you? That's why I'm out here on this infernal book business--to get
money."

She looked at him with interest now, noticing his fine eyes and waving
brown hair.

"It's dreadful, isn't it? But you've got a hope to go back. I haven't.
At first I didn't think I could live; but I did." She ended with a sigh,
a far-off expression in her eyes.

There was a pause again. Bert felt that she was no ordinary girl, and
she was quite as strongly drawn to him.

"It almost killed me to give it up. I don't s'pose I'd know any of the
scholars you know. Even the teachers are not the same. Oh, yes--Sarah
Shaw; I think she's back for the normal course."

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Bert, "I know Sarah. We boarded on the same street;
used t' go home together after class. An awful nice girl, too."

"She's a worker. She teaches school. I can't do that, for mother needs
me at home." There was another pause, broken by the little girl, who
called:

"Maud, mamma wants you."

Maud rose and went out, with a tired smile on her face that emphasized
her resemblance to her mother. Bert couldn't forget that smile, and he
was still thinking about the girl, and what her life must be, when
Hartley came in.

"By jinks! It's _snifty_, as dad used to say. You can't draw a long
breath through your nostrils; freeze y'r nose solid as a bottle," he
announced, throwing off his coat with an air which seemed to make him an
old resident of the room.

"By the way, I've just found out why you was so anxious to get into this
house, hey?" he said, slapping Bert's knee. "Another case o' girl."

Bert blushed; he couldn't help it, notwithstanding his innocence in this
case. Hartley went on.

"Oh, I know you! A girl in the house; might 'a' known it," Hartley
continued, in a hoarse whisper.

"I didn't know it myself till about ten minutes ago," protested Bert.

Hartley winked prodigiously.

"Don't tell me! Is she pretty?"

"No--that is, _you_ wouldn't call her so."

"Oh, the deuce I wouldn't! Don't you _wish_ I wouldn't? I'd like to see
the girl I wouldn't call pretty, right to her face, too."

The girl returned at this moment with an armful of wood.

"Let _me_ put it in," cried Hartley, springing up. "Excuse me. My name
is Hartley, book agent: Blaine's 'Twenty Years,' plain cloth, sprinkled
edges, three dollars; half calf, three fifty. This is my friend Mr.
Lohr, of Marion; German extraction, soph at the university."

The girl bowed and smiled, and pushed by him toward the door of the
parlor. Hartley followed her in, and Bert could hear them rattling away
at the stove.

"Won't you sit down and play for us?" asked Hartley, after they returned
to the sitting room, with the persuasive music of the book agent in his
fine voice.

"Oh, no! It's nearly dinner time, and I must help about the table."

"Now make yourselves at home," said Mrs. Welsh, appearing at the door
leading to the kitchen; "if you want anything, just let me know."

"All right. We will; don't worry. We'll be trouble enough.--Nice
people," said Hartley, as he shut the door of their room and sat down.
"But the girl _ain't_ what I call pretty."

By the time the dinner bell rang they were feeling at home in their new
quarters. At the table they met the other boarders: the Brann brothers,
newsdealers; old man Troutt, who kept the livery stable (and smelled of
it); and a small, dark, and wizened woman who kept the millinery store.
The others, who came in late, were clerks.

Maud served the dinner, while Stella and her mother waited upon the
table. Albert was accustomed to this, and made little account of the
service. He did notice the hands of the girl, however, so white and
graceful; no amount of work could quite remove their essential
shapeliness.

Hartley struck up a conversation with the newsdealers and left Bert free
to observe Maud. She was not more than twenty, he decided, but she
looked older, so careworn and sad was her face.

"They's one thing ag'in' yeh," Troutt, the liveryman, was bawling to
Hartley: "they's jest been worked one o' the goldingedest schemes you
_ever_ see! 'Bout six munce ago s'm' fellers come all through here
claimin' t' be after information about the county and the leadin'
citizens; wanted t' write a history, an' wanted all the pitchers of the
leading men, old settlers, an' so on. You paid ten dollars, an' you had
a book an' your pitcher in it."

"I know the scheme," grinned Hartley.

"Wal, sir, I s'pose them fellers roped in every man in this town. I
don't s'pose they got out with a cent less'n one thousand dollars. An'
when the book come--wal!" Here he stopped to roar. "I don't s'pose you
ever see a madder lot o' men in your life. In the first place, they got
the names and the pitchers mixed so that I was Judge Ricker, an' Judge
Ricker was ol' man Daggett. Didn't the judge swear--oh, it was awful!"

"I should say so."

"An' the pitchers that wa'n't mixed was so goldinged _black_ you
couldn't tell 'em from niggers. You know how kind o' lily-livered Lawyer
Ransom is? Wal, he looked like ol' black Joe; he was the maddest man of
the hull b'ilin'. He throwed the book in the fire, and tromped around
like a blind bull."

"It wasn't a success, I take it, then. Why, I should 'a' thought they'd
'a' nabbed the fellows."

"Not much! They was too keen for that. They didn't deliver the books
theirselves; they hired Dick Bascom to do it f'r them. Course Dick
wa'n't t' blame."

"No; I never tried it before," Albert was saying to Maud, at their end
of the table. "Hartley offered me a good thing to come, and as I needed
money, I came. I don't know what he's going to do with me, now I'm
here."

Albert did not go out after dinner with Hartley; it was too cold.
Hartley let nothing stand in the way of business, however. He had been
at school with Albert during his first year, but had gone back to work
in preference to study.

Albert had brought his books with him, planning to keep up with his
class, if possible, and was deep in a study of Cæsar when he heard a
timid knock on the door.

"Come!" he called, student fashion.

Maud entered, her face aglow.

"How natural that sounds!" she said.

Albert sprang up to help her put down the wood in her arms. "I wish
you'd let me bring the wood," he said pleadingly, as she refused his
aid.

"I wasn't sure you were in. Were you reading?"

"Cæsar," he replied, holding up the book. "I am conditioned on Latin.
I'm going over the 'Commentaries' again."

"I thought I knew the book," she laughed.

"You read Latin?"

"Yes, a little--Vergil."

"Maybe you can help me out on these _oratia obliqua_. They bother me
yet. I hate these 'Cæsar saids.' I like Vergil better."

She stood at his shoulder while he pointed out the knotty passage. She
read it easily, and he thanked her. It was amazing how well acquainted
they felt after this; they were as fellow-students.

The wind roared outside in the bare maples, and the fire boomed in its
pent place within. The young people forgot the time and place. The girl
sank into a chair almost unconsciously as they talked of Madison--a
great city to them--of the Capitol building, of the splendid campus, of
the lakes and the gay sailing there in summer and ice-boating in winter,
of the struggles of "rooming."

"Oh, it makes me homesick!" cried the girl, with a deep sigh. "It was
the happiest, sunniest time of all my life. Oh, those walks and talks!
Those recitations in the dear, chalky old rooms! Oh, _how_ I would like
to go back over that hollow doorstone again!"

She broke off, with tears in her eyes. He was obliged to cough two or
three times before he could break the silence.

"I know just how you feel. I know, the first spring when I went back on
the farm, it seemed as if I couldn't stand it. I thought I'd go crazy.
The days seemed forty-eight hours long. It was so lonesome, and so
dreary on rainy days! But of course I expected to go back; that's what
kept me up. I don't think I could have stood it if I hadn't had hope."

"I've given it up now," she said plaintively; "it's no use hoping."

"Why don't you teach?" asked Albert, deeply affected by her voice and
manner.

"I did teach here for a year, but I couldn't endure the noise; I'm not
very strong, and the boys were so rude. If I could teach in a
seminary--teach Latin and English--I should be happy, I think. But I
can't leave mother now."

She began to appear a different girl in the boy's eyes; the cheap dress,
the check apron, could not hide her pure intellectual spirit. Her large
blue eyes were deep with thought, and the pale face, lighted by the glow
of the fire, was as lovely as a rose. Almost before he knew it, he was
telling her of his life.

"I don't see how I endured it as long as I did," he went on. "It was
nothing but work, work, and mud the whole year round; it's just so on
all farms."

"Yes, I guess it is," said she. "Father was a carpenter, and I've always
lived here; but we have people who are farmers, and I know how it is
with them."

"Why, when I think of it now it makes me crawl! To think of getting up
in the morning before daylight, and going out to the barn to do chores,
to get ready to go into the field to work! Working, wasting y'r life on
dirt. Goin' round and round in a circle, and never getting out."

"It's just the same for us women," she corroborated. "Think of us going
around the house day after day, and doing just the same things over an'
over, year after year! That's the whole of most women's lives.
Dish-washing almost drives me crazy."

"I know it," said Albert; "but a fellow has t' do it. If his folks are
workin' hard, why, of course he can't lay around and study. They're not
to blame. I don't know that anybody's to blame."

"No, I don't; but it makes me sad to see mother going around as she
does, day after day. She won't let me do as much as I would." The girl
looked at her slender hands. "You see, I'm not very strong. It makes my
heart ache to see her going around in that quiet, patient way; she's so
good."

"I know, I know! I've felt just like that about my mother and father,
too."

There was a long pause, full of deep feeling, and then the girl
continued in a low, hesitating voice:

"Mother's had an awful hard time since father died. We had to go to
keeping boarders, which was hard--very hard for mother." The boy felt a
sympathetic lump in his throat as the girl went on again: "But she
doesn't complain, and she didn't want me to come home from school; but
of course I couldn't do anything else."

It didn't occur to either of them that any other course was open, nor
that there was any heroism or self-sacrifice in the act; it was simply
_right_.

"Well, I'm not going to drudge all my life," said the boy at last. "I
know it's kind o' selfish, but I can't live on a farm; it 'u'd kill me
in a year. I've made up my mind to study law and enter the bar. Lawyers
manage to get hold of enough to live on decently, and that's more than
you can say of the farmers. And they live in town, where something is
going on once in a while, anyway."

In the pause which followed, footsteps were heard on the walk outside,
and the girl sprang up with a beautiful blush.

"My stars! I didn't think--I forgot--I must go."

Hartley burst into the room shortly after she left it, in his usual
breeze.

"Hul-_lo_! Still at the Latin, hey?"

"Yes," said Bert, with ease. "How goes it?"

"Oh, I'm whooping 'er up! I'm getting started in great shape. Been up to
the courthouse and roped in three of the county officials. In these
small towns the big man is the politician or the clergyman. I've nailed
the politicians through the ear; now you must go for the ministers to
head the list--that's your lay-out."

"How'm I t' do it?" said Bert, in an anxious tone. "I can't sell books
if they don't want 'em."

"Yes, yeh can. That's the trade. Offer a big discount. Say full calf,
two fifty; morocco, two ninety. Regular discount to the clergy, ye
know. Oh, they're on to that little racket--no trouble. If you can get a
few of these leaders of the flock, the rest will follow like lambs to
the slaughter. Tra-la-la--who-o-o-_ish_, whish!"

Albert laughed at Hartley as he plunged his face into the ice-cold
water, puffing and wheezing.

"Jeemimy Crickets! but ain't that water cold! I worked Rock River this
way last month, and made a boomin' success. If you take hold here in
the----"

"Oh, I'm all ready to do anything that is needed, short of being kicked
out."

"No danger of that if you're a real book agent. It's the snide that gets
kicked. You've got t' have some savvy in this, just like any other
business." He stopped in his dressing to say, "We've struck a great
boarding place, hey?"

"Looks like it."

"I begin t' cotton to the old lady a'ready. Good 'eal like mother used
t' be 'fore she broke down. Didn't the old lady have a time of it
raisin' me? Phewee! Patient! Job wasn't a patchin'. But the test is
goin' t' come on the biscuit; if her biscuit comes up t' mother's I'm
hern till death."

He broke off to comb his hair, a very nice bit of work in his case.


II.

There was no discernible reason why the little town should have been
called Tyre, and yet its name was as characteristically American as its
architecture. It had the usual main street lined with low brick or
wooden stores--a street which developed into a road running back up a
wide, sandy valley away from the river. Being a county town, it had a
courthouse in a yard near the center of the town, and a big summer
hotel. The valley was peculiarly picturesque. Curiously shaped and oddly
distributed hills rose out of the valley sand abruptly, forming a sort
of amphitheater in which the village lay. These square-topped hills rose
to a common level, showing that they were not the result of an upheaval,
but were the remains of the original stratification left standing after
the vast scooping action of the post-glacial floods.

The abrupt cliffs and lone huge pillars and peaks rising out of tamarack
swamps here and there showed the original layers of rock unmoved. They
looked like ruined walls of castles ancient as hills, on whose massive
tops time had sown sturdy oaks and cedars. They lent a distinct air of
romance to the valley at all times; but when in summer vines clambered
over their rugged sides and underbrush softened their broken lines, it
was not at all difficult to imagine them the remains of an unrecorded,
very warlike people.

Even now, in winter, with yellow-brown and green cedars standing starkly
upon their summits, the hickories and small ashes blue-black with their
masses of fine bare limbs meshed against the snow, these towers had a
distinct charm. The weather was glorious winter, and in the early
morning when the trees glistened with frost, or at evening when the
white light of the sun was softened and violet shadows lay along the
snow, the whole valley was a delight to the eye, full of distinct and
lasting charm, part of the beautiful and strange Mississippi River
scenery.

In the campaign which Hartley began Albert did his best, and his best
was done unconsciously, for the charm of his manner (all unknown to
himself) was the most potent factor in securing consideration.

"I'm not a book agent," he said to one of the clergymen to whom he first
appealed; "I'm a student trying to sell a good book and make a little
money to help me to complete my course at the university."

He did not go to the back door, but walked up to the front, asked to see
the minister, and placed his case at once before him with a smiling
candor and a leisurely utterance quite the opposites of the brazen
timidity and rapid, parrot-like tone of the professional. He secured
three clergymen of the place to head his list, much to the delight and
admiration of Hartley.

"Good! Now corral the alumni of the place. Work the fraternal racket to
the bitter end. Oh, say! there's a sociable to-morrow night; I guess
we'd better go, hadn't we?"

"Go alone?"

"Alone? No! Take some girls. I'm going to take neighbor Picket's
daughter; she's homely as a hedge fence, but I'll take her--great
scheme!"

"Hartley, you're an infernal fraud!"

"Nothing of the kind--I'm business," ended Hartley, with a laugh.

After supper the following day, as Albert was still lingering at the
table with the girls and Mrs. Welsh, he thought of the sociable, and
said on the impulse:

"Are you going to the sociable?"

"No; I guess not."

"Would you go if I asked you?"

"Try me and see!" answered the girl, with a laugh, her color rising.

"All right. Miss Welsh, will you attend the festivity of the evening
under my guidance and protection?"

"Yes, thank you."

"I'll be ready before you are."

"No doubt; I've got to wash the dishes."

"I'll wash the dishes; you go get ready," said the self-regardless
mother.

Albert felt that he had one of the loveliest girls in the room as he led
Maud down the floor of the vestry of the church, filled with laughing
young people moving about or seated at the long tables. Maud's cheeks
were full of delicate color and her eyes shone with maidenly delight as
they took seats at the table to sip a little coffee and nibble a bit of
cake.

"I suppose they _must_ have my fifteen cents some way," said Albert, in
a low voice, "and I guess we'd better sit down."

Maud introduced him to a number of young people who had been students at
the university. They received him cordially, and in a very short time he
was enjoying himself very well indeed. He was reminded rather
disagreeably of his office, however, by seeing Hartley surrounded by a
laughing crowd of the more frolicsome young people. He winked at Albert,
as much as to say, "Good stroke of business."

The evening passed away with songs, games, and recitations, and it was
nearly eleven o'clock when the young people began to wander off toward
home in pairs. Albert and Maud were among the first of the young folks
to bid the rest good night.

The night was clear and cold, but perfectly still, and the young people,
arm in arm, walked slowly homeward under the bare maples, in delicious
companionship. Albert held her arm close to his side.

"Are you cold?" he asked in a low voice.

"No, thank you; the night is lovely," she replied; then added with a
sigh, "I don't like sociables so well as I used to--they tire me out."

"We stayed too long."

"It wasn't that; I'm getting so they seem kind o' silly."

"Well, I feel a little that way myself," he confessed.

"But there is so little to see here in Tyre at any time--no music, no
theaters. I like theaters, don't you?"

"I can't go half enough."

"But nothing worth seeing ever comes into these little towns--and then
we're all so poor, anyway."

The lamp, turned low, was emitting a terrible odor as they entered the
sitting room.

"My goodness! it's almost twelve o'clock. Good night." She held out her
hand.

"Good night," he said, taking it, and giving it a cordial pressure which
she remembered long.

"Good night," she repeated softly, going up the stairs.

Hartley came in a few moments later, and found Bert sitting thoughtfully
by the fire, with his coat and shoes off, evidently in deep abstraction.

"Well, I got away at last--much as ever. Great scheme, that sociable,
eh? I saw your little girl introducing you right and left."

"Say, Hartley, I wish you'd leave her out of this thing; I don't like
the way you speak of her when----"

"Phew! You don't? Oh, all right! I'm mum as an oyster--only keep it up!
Get in all the church sociables, and all that; there's nothing like it."

Hartley soon had canvassers out along the country roads, and was working
every house in town. The campaign promised to lengthen into a month,
perhaps longer. Albert especially became a great favorite. Every one
declared there had never been such book agents in the town: such
gentlemanly fellows, they didn't press anybody to buy; they didn't rush
about and "poke their noses where they were not wanted." They were more
like merchants with books to sell. The only person who failed to see the
attraction in them was Ed Brann, who was popularly supposed to be
engaged to Maud. He grew daily more sullen and repellent, toward Albert
noticeably so.

One evening about six, after coming in from a long walk about town,
Albert entered his room without lighting his lamp, lay down on the bed,
and fell asleep. He had been out late the night before with Maud at a
party, and slumber came almost instantly.

Maud came in shortly, hearing no response to her knock, and after
hanging some towels on the rack went out without seeing the sleeper. In
the sitting room she met Ed Brann. He was a stalwart young man with
curling black hair, and a heavy face at its best, but set and sullen
now. His first words held a menace:

"Say, Maud, I want t' talk to you."

"Very well; what is it, Ed?" replied the girl quietly.

"I want to know how often you're going to be out till twelve o'clock
with this book agent?"

Perhaps it was the derisive inflection on "book agent" that woke Albert.
Brann's tone was brutal--more brutal even than his words, and the girl
turned pale and her breath quickened.

"Why, Ed, what's the matter?"

"Matter is just this: you ain't got any business goin' around with that
feller with my ring on your finger, that's all." He ended with an
unmistakable threat in his voice.

"Very well," said the girl, after a pause, curiously quiet; "then I
won't; here's your ring."

The man's bluster disappeared instantly. Bert could tell by the change
in his voice, which was incredibly great, as he pleaded:

"Oh, don't do that, Maud; I didn't mean to say that; I was mad--I'm
sorry."

"I'm _glad_ you did it _now_, so I can know you. Take your ring, Ed; I
never'll wear it again."

Albert had heard all this, but he did not know how the girl looked as
she faced the man. In the silence which followed she looked him in the
face, and scornfully passed him and went out into the kitchen. He did
not return at supper.

Young people of this sort are not self-analysts, and Maud did not
examine closely into causes. She was astonished to find herself more
indignant than grieved. She broke into an angry wail as she went to her
mother's bosom:

"Mother! mother!"

"Why, what's the matter, Maudie? Tell me. There, there! don't cry, pet!
Who's been hurtin' my poor little bird?"

"Ed has; he said--he said----"

"There, there! poor child! Have you been quarreling? Never mind; it'll
come out all right."

"No, it won't--not the way you mean," the girl cried, lifting her head;
"I've given him back his ring, and I'll never wear it again."

The mother could not understand with what wounding brutality the man's
tone had fallen upon the girl's spirit, and Maud felt in some way as if
she could not explain sufficiently to justify herself. Mrs. Welsh
consoled herself with the idea that it was only a lovers' quarrel--one
of the little jars sure to come when two natures are settling
together--and that all would be mended in a day or two.

But there was a peculiar set look on the girl's face that promised
little for Brann. Albert, being no more of a self-analyst than Maud,
simply said, "Served him right," and dwelt no more upon it for the time.

At supper, however, he was extravagantly gay, and to himself
unaccountably so. He joked Troutt till Maud begged him to stop, and
after the rest had gone he remained seated at the table, enjoying the
indignant color in her face and the flash of her infrequent smile, which
it was such a pleasure to provoke. He volunteered to help wash the
dishes.

"Thank you, but I'm afraid you'd be more bother than help," she replied.

"Thank _you_, but you don't know me. I ain't so green as I look, by no
manner o' means. I've been doing my own housekeeping for four terms."

"I know all about that," laughed the girl. "You young men rooming do
precious little cooking and no dish-washing at all."

"That's a base calumny! I made it a point to wash every dish in the
house, except the spider, once a week; had a regular cleaning-up day."

"And about the spider?"

"I wiped that out nicely with a newspaper every time I wanted to use
it."

"Oh, horrors!--Mother, listen to that!"

"Why, what more could you ask? You wouldn't have me wipe it _six_ times
a day, would you?"

"I wonder it didn't poison you," commented Mrs. Welsh.

"Takes more'n that to poison a student," laughed Albert, as he went out.

The next afternoon he came bursting into the kitchen, where Maud stood
with her sleeves rolled up, deep in the dish pan, while Stella stood
wiping the dishes handed to her.

"Don't you want a sleigh ride?" he asked, boyishly eager.

She looked up with shining eyes.

"Oh, wouldn't I!--Can you get along, mother?"

"Certainly, child; the air'll do you good."

"W'y, Maud!" said the little girl, "you said you didn't want to when
Ed----"

Mrs. Welsh silenced her, and said:

"Run right along, dear; it's just the nicest time o' day. Are there many
teams out?"

"They're just beginning t' come out," said Albert. "I'll have a cutter
around here in about two jiffies; be on hand, sure."

Troutt was standing in the sunny doorway of his stable when the young
fellow dashed up to him.

"Hullo, Uncle Troutt! Harness the fastest nag into your swellest outfit
instanter."

"Aha! Goin' t' take y'r girl out, hey?"

"Yes; and I want 'o do it in style."

"I guess ol' Dan's the idee, if you can drive him; he's a ring-tailed
snorter."

"Fast?"

"Nope; but safe. Gentle as a kitten and as knowin' as a fox. Drive him
with one hand--left hand," the old man chuckled.

"Troutt, you're an insinuating old insinuator, and I'll----"

Troutt laughed till his long faded beard flapped up and down and
quivered with the stress of his enjoyment of his joke. He ended by
hitching a vicious-looking sorrel to a gay, duck-bellied cutter, saying
as he gave up the reins:

"Now, be keerful; Dan's foxy; he's all right when he sees you've got the
reins, but don't drop 'em."

"Don't you worry about me; I grew up with horses," said the
over-confident youth, leaping into the sleigh and gathering up the
lines. "Stand aside, my lord, and let the cortège pass. Hoop-la!"

The brute gave a tearing lunge, and was out of the doorway like a shot
before the old man could utter a word. Albert thrilled with pleasure as
he felt the reins stiffen in his hands, while the traces swung slack
beside the thills.

"If he keeps this up he'll do," he thought.

As he turned up at the gate Maud came gayly down the path, muffled to
the eyes.

"Oh, what a nice cutter! But the horse--is he gentle?" she asked, as she
climbed in.

"As a cow," Albert replied.--"Git out o' this, Bones!"

The main street was already full of teams, wood sleighs, bob-sleighs
filled with children, and here and there a man in a light cutter alone,
out for a race. Laughter was on the air, and the jingle-jangle of bells.
The sun was dazzling in its brightness, and the gay wraps and scarfs
lighted up the street with flecks of color. Loafers on the sidewalks
fired a fusillade of words at the teams as they passed:

"Go it, Bones!"

"'Let 'er _go_, Gallagher!'"

"Ain't she a daisy!"

But what cared the drivers? If the shouts were insolent they laid them
to envy, and if they were pleasant they smiled in reply.

Albert and Maud had made two easy turns up and down the street, when a
man driving a span of large black-hawk horses dashed up a side street
and whirled in just before them. The man was a superb driver, and sat
with the reins held carelessly but securely in his left hand, guiding
the team more by his voice than by the bit. He sat leaning forward with
his head held down in a peculiar and sinister fashion.

"_Hel_-lo!" cried Bert; "that looks like Brann."

"It is," said Maud.

"Cracky! that's a fine team--Black Hawks, both of them. I wonder if ol'
sorrel can pass 'em?"

"Oh, please don't try," pleaded the girl.

"Why not?"

"Because--because I'm afraid."

"Afraid of what?"

"Afraid something'll happen."

"Something _is_ goin' t' happen; I'm goin' t' pass him if old Bones has
got any _git_ to him."

"It'll make him mad."

"Who mad? Brann?"

"Yes."

"Well, s'pose it does, who cares?"

The teams moved along at an easy pace. Some one called to Brann:

"They're on y'r trail, Ed."

There was something peculiar in the tone, and Brann looked behind for
the first time, and saw them. He swore through his teeth, and turned
about. He looked dogged and sullen, with his bent shoulders and his chin
thrust down.

There were a dozen similar rigs moving up or down the street, and
greetings passed from sleigh to sleigh. Everybody except Brann welcomed
Albert with sincere pleasure, and exchanged rustic jokes with him. As
they slowed up at the upper end of the street and began to turn, a man
on the sidewalk said confidentially:

"Say, cap', if you handle that old rack-o'-bones just right, he'll
distance anything on this road. When you want him to do his best let him
have the rein; don't pull a pound. I used to own 'im--I know 'im."

The old sorrel came round "gauming," his ugly head thrown up, his great
red mouth open, his ears back. Brann and the young doctor of the place
were turning together a little farther up the street. The blacks,
superbly obedient to their driver, came down with flying hoofs, their
great glossy breasts flecked with foam from their champing jaws.

"Come on, fellers!" yelled Brann, insultingly, as he came down past the
doctor, and seemed about to pass Albert and Maud. There was hate in the
glare of his eyes.

But he did not pass. The old sorrel seemed to lengthen; to the
spectators his nose appeared to be glued to the glossy side of Brann's
off black.

"See them blacks trot!" shouted Albert, in ungrammatical enthusiasm.

"See that old sorrel shake himself!" yelled the loafers.

The doctor came tearing down with a spirited bay, a magnificent stepper.
As he drew along so that Bert could catch a glimpse of the mare's neck,
he thrilled with delight. There was the thoroughbred's lacing of veins;
the proud fling of her knees and the swell of her neck showed that she
was far from doing her best. There was a wild light in her eyes.

These were the fast teams of the town. All interest was centered in
them.

"Clear the track!" yelled the loafers.

"The doc's good f'r 'em."

"If she don't break."

Albert was pulling at the sorrel heavily, absorbed in seeing, as well as
he could for the flung snowballs, the doctor's mare draw slowly, foot
by foot, past the blacks. Suddenly Brann gave a shrill yell and stood up
in his sleigh. The gallant little bay broke and fell behind; Brann gave
a loud laugh; the blacks trotted on, their splendid pace unchanged.

"Let the sorrel out!" yelled somebody.

"Let him loose!" yelled Troutt on the corner, quivering with excitement.
"Let him go!"

Albert remembered what the fellow had said; he let the reins loose. The
old sorrel's teeth came together with a snap; his head lowered and his
tail rose; he shot abreast of the blacks. Brann yelled:

"Sam--Saul, _git_!"

"See them trot!" shouted Bert, lost in admiration; but Maud, frightened
into silence, had covered her head with the robe to escape the blinding
cloud of flying snow. The sorrel drew steadily ahead; he was passing
when Brann turned.

"Durn y'r old horse!" he yelled through his shut teeth, and laid the
whip across the sorrel's hips. The blacks broke wildly, but, strange to
say, the old sorrel increased his speed. Again Brann struck at him, but
missed him, and the stroke fell on Bert's outstretched wrists. He turned
to see what Brann meant by it; he did not see that the blacks were
crowding him to the gutter; his hands felt numb.

"Look _out_, there!"

Before he could turn to look, the cutter seemed to be blown up by a
bomb, and he rose in the air like a vaulter; he saw the traces part, he
felt the reins slip through his hands, and that was all; he seemed to
fall an immeasurable depth into a black abyss.... The next that he knew
was a curious soft murmur of voices, out of which a sweet, agonized
girl-voice broke, familiar but unrecognized:

"Oh, where's the doctor! He's dead--oh, he's dead! _Can't_ you hurry?"

Next came a quick, authoritative voice, still far away, and a hush
followed it; then an imperative order:

"Stand out o' the way! What do you think you can do by crowding on top
of him?"

"Stand back! stand back!" other voices called.

Then he felt something cold on his head: they were taking his cap off
and putting snow on his head; then the doctor (he knew him now) said:

"Let me take him!"

"Oh, can't I do something?" said the sweet voice.

"No--nothing."

Then there came a strange fullness in his head. Shadows lighted by dull
red flashes passed before his eyes; he wondered, in a slow, dull way, if
he were dying. Then this changed: a dull, throbbing ache came into his
head, and as this grew the noise of voices grew more distinct and he
could hear sobbing. Then the dull, rhythmic red flashes passed slowly
away from his eyes, and he opened his lids, but the glare of the
sunlight struck them shut again; he saw only Maud's face, agonized,
white, and wet with tears, looking down into his. He felt the doctor's
hands winding bandages about his head, and he felt a crawling stream of
blood behind his ear, getting as cold as ice as it sank under his
collar.

They raised him a little more, and he opened his eyes on the circle of
hushed and excited men thronging about him. He saw Brann, with wild,
scared face, standing in his cutter and peering over the heads of the
crowd.

"How do you feel now?" asked the doctor.

"Can you hear us? Albert, do you know me?" called the girl.

His lips moved stiffly, but he smiled a little, and at length whispered
slowly, "Yes; I guess--I'm all--right."

"Put him into my cutter; Maud, get in here, too," the doctor commanded,
with all the authority of a physician in a small village. The crowd
opened, and silenced its muttered comments as the doctor and Troutt
helped the wounded man into the sleigh. The pain in his head grew worse,
but Albert's perception of things grew in proportion; he closed his eyes
to the sun, but in the shadow of Maud's breast opened them again and
looked up at her. He felt a vague, childlike pleasure in knowing she was
holding him in her arms; he felt the sleigh moving; he thought of his
mother, and how it would frighten her if she knew.

The doctor was driving the horse and walking beside the sleigh, and the
people were accosting him. Albert could catch their words now and then,
and the reply:

"No; he isn't killed, nor anything near it; he's stunned, that's all; he
isn't bleeding now. No; he'll be all right in a day or two."

"Hello!" said a breathless, hearty voice, "what the deuce y' been doing
with my pardner? Bert, old fellow, are you there?" Hartley asked,
clinging to the edge of the moving cutter, and peering into his friend's
face. Albert smiled.

"I'm here--what there is left of me," he replied faintly.

"Glory! how'd it happen?" he asked of the girl.

"I don't know--I couldn't see--we ran into a culvert," replied Maud.

"Weren't you hurt?"

"Not a bit. I stayed in the cutter."

Albert felt a steady return of waves of pain, but did not know that they
were waves of returning life. He groaned, and tried to rise. The girl
gently but firmly restrained him. Hartley was walking beside the doctor,
talking loudly. "It was a devilish thing to do; the scoundrel ought 'o
be jugged!"

Albert groaned, and tried to rise again. "I'm bleeding yet; I'm soaking
you!"

The girl shuddered, but remained firm.

"No; we're 'most home."

She felt no shame, but a certain exaltation, as she looked into the
curious faces she saw in groups on the sidewalk. The boys who ran
alongside wore in their faces a look of awe, for they imagined
themselves in the presence of death.

Maud gazed unrecognizingly upon her nearest girl friends. They seemed
something alien in that moment; and they, gazing upon her white face and
unrecognizing eyes, spoke in awed whispers.

At the gate the crowd gathered and waited with deepest interest, with a
sort of shuddering pleasure. It was all a strange, unusual, inthralling
romance to them. The dazzling sunshine added to the wonder of it all.

"Ed Brann done it."

"How?" asked several.

"With the butt end of his whip."

"That's a lie! His team ran into Lohr's rig."

"Not much; Ed crowded him into the ditch."

"What fer?"

"'Cause Bert cut him out with Maud."

"Come, get out of the way! Don't stand there gabbing," yelled Hartley,
as he took Albert in his arms and, together with the doctor, lifted him
out of the sleigh.

"Goodness sakes alive! Ain't it terrible! How is he?" asked an old
lady, peering at him as he passed.

On the porch stood Mrs. Welsh, supported by Ed Brann.

"She's all right, I tell you. He ain't hurt much, either; just stunned a
little, that's all."

"Maud! child!" cried the mother, as Maud appeared out of the crowd,
followed by a bevy of girls.

"Mother, _I'm_ all right!" she said as gayly as she could, running into
the trembling arms outstretched toward her; "but, oh, poor Albert!"

After they disappeared into the house the crowd dispersed. Brann went
off by way of the alley; he was not prepared to meet their questions;
but he met his brother and several others in his store.

"Now, what in ---- you been up to?" was the fraternal greeting.

"Nothing."

"Welting a man on the head with a whip-stock ain't anything, hey?"

"I didn't touch him. We was racing, and he run into the culvert."

"Hank says he saw you strike----"

"He lies! I was strikin' the horse to make him break."

"Oh, yeh was!" sneered the older man. "Well, I hope you understand that
this'll ruin us in this town. If you didn't strike him, they'll say you
run him into the culvert, 'n' every man, woman, 'n' child'll be down on
you, and _me_ f'r bein' related to you. They all know how you feel
towards him for cuttin' you out with Maud Welsh."

"Oh, don't bear down on him too hard, Joe. He didn't mean t' do any
harm," said Troutt, who had followed Ed down to the store. "I guess the
young feller'll come out all right. Just go kind o' easy till we see how
he comes out. If he dies, why, it'll haf t' be looked into."

Ed turned pale and swallowed hastily. "If he should die!" He would be a
murderer; he knew that hate was in his heart. He shivered again as he
remembered the man's white face with the bright red stream flowing down
behind his ear and over his cheek. It almost seemed to him that he _had_
struck him, so close had the accident followed upon the fall of his
whip.


III.

Albert sank into a feverish sleep that night, with a vague perception of
four figures in the room--Maud, her mother, Hartley, and the young
doctor. When he awoke fully in the morning his head felt prodigiously
hot and heavy.

It was early dawn, and the lamp was burning brightly. Outside, a man's
feet could be heard on the squealing snow--a sound which told how still
and cold it was. A team passed with a jingle of bells.

Albert raised his head and looked about. Hartley was lying on the sofa,
rolled up in his overcoat and some extra quilts. He had lain down at
last, worn with watching. Albert felt a little weak, and fell back on
his pillow, thinking about the strange night he had passed--a night more
filled with strange happenings than the afternoon.

His sleep had been broken by the most vivid and exciting dreams, and
through these visions had moved the figures of Hartley, the doctor, and
Maud and her mother. He had a confused idea of the night, but a very
clear idea of the afternoon. He could see the sidewalks lined with
faces, the sun shining on the snow, the old sorrel's side-flung head and
open mouth; the sleigh rose under him again, and he felt the reins burn
through his hands.

As the light grew in the room his mind cleared, and he began to feel
quite like himself again. He lifted his muscular arm and opened and shut
his hand, saying aloud in his old boyish manner:

"I guess I'm all here."

"What's that?" called Hartley, rolling out of bed. "Did you ask for
anything?"

"No--yes; gimme some water, Jim; my mouth is dry as a powder mill."

"How yeh feelin', anyway, pardner?" said Hartley, as he brought the
water.

"First rate, Jim; I guess I'll be all right."

"Well, I guess you'd better keep quiet."

Albert rose partly, assisted by his friend, and drank from the glass a
moment; then fell back on his pillow.

"I don't feel s' well when I sit up."

"Well, don't, then; stay right there where you are. Oh-um!" gaped
Hartley, stretching himself; "it's about time f'r breakfast, I guess.
Want y'r hands washed and y'r hair combed?"

"I guess I ain't reduced to _that_ yet."

"Well, I guess y' _be_, old man. Now keep _quiet_, or have I got t' make
yeh?" he asked in a threatening tone which made Albert smile. He
wondered if Hartley hadn't been sitting up most of the night; but if he
had, he showed little effect of it, for he began to sing a comic song as
he pulled on his boots.

He threw on his coat next, and went out into the kitchen, returning soon
with some hot water, with which he began to bathe the wounded boy's face
and hands as tenderly as a woman.

"There; now I guess you're in shape f'r grub--feel any like grub?--Come
in," he called in answer to a knock on the door.

Mrs. Welsh entered.

"How is he?" she whispered anxiously.

"Oh, I'm all right," cried Albert. "Bring me a plate of pancakes,
quick!"

Mrs. Welsh turned to Hartley with a startled expression, but Hartley's
grin assured her.

"I'm glad to find you so much better," she said, going to his bedside.
"I've hardly slep', I was so much worried about you."

It was very sweet to feel her fingers in his hair, as his mother would
have caressed him.

"I guess I hadn't better take off the bandages till the doctor comes, if
you're comfortable.--Your breakfast is ready, Mr. Hartley, and I'll
bring something for Albert."

Another knock a few minutes later, and Maud entered with a platter,
followed closely by her mother, who carried some tea and milk.

Maud came forward timidly, but when he turned his eyes on her and said
in a cheery voice, "Good morning, Miss Welsh!" she flamed out in rosy
color and recoiled. She had expected to see him pale, dull-eyed, and
with a weak voice, but there was little to indicate invalidism in his
firm greeting. She gave place to Mrs. Welsh, who prepared his breakfast.
She was smitten dumb by this turn of affairs; she hardly dared look at
him as he sat propped up in bed. The crimson trimming on his shirt-front
seemed like streams of blood; his head, swathed in bandages, made her
shudder. But aside from these few suggestions of wounding, there was
little of the horror of the previous day left. He did not look so pale
and worn as the girl herself.

However, though he was feeling absurdly well, there was a good deal of
bravado in his tone and manner, for he ate but little, and soon sank
back on the bed.

"I feel better when my head is low," he explained in a faint voice.

"Can't I do something?" asked the girl, her courage reviving as she saw
how ill and faint he really was. His eyes were closed and he looked the
invalid now.

"I guess you better write to his folks."

"No; don't do that," he said, opening his eyes; "it will only do them
harm an' me no good. I'll be all right in a few days. You needn't waste
your time on me; Hartley'll wait on me."

"Mr. Lohr, how can you say such cruel----"

"Don't mind him now," said Mrs. Welsh. "I'm his mother now, and he's
goin' to do just as I tell him to--ain't you, Albert?"

He dropped his eyelids in assent, and went off in a doze. It was all
very pleasant to be thus treated. Hartley was devotion itself, and the
doctor removed his bandages with the care and deliberation of a man with
a moderate practice; besides, he considered Albert a personal friend.

Hartley, after the doctor had gone, said with some hesitation:

"Well, now, pard, I _ought_ to go out and see a couple o' fellows I
promised t' meet this morning."

"All right, Jim; all right. You go right ahead on business; I'm goin'
t' sleep, anyway, and I'll be all right in a day or two."

"Well, I will; but I'll run in every hour 'r two and see if you don't
want something. You're in good hands, anyway, when I'm gone."

"Won't you read to me?" pleaded Albert in the afternoon, when Maud came
in with her mother to brush up the room. "It's getting rather slow
business layin' here like this. Course I can't ask Jim to stay and read
all the time, and he's a bad reader, anyway; won't you?"

"Shall I, mother?"

"Why, of course, Maud!"

So Maud got a book, and sat down over by the stove, quite distant from
the bed, and read to him from "The Lady of the Lake," while the mother,
like a piece of tireless machinery, moved about the house at the
never-ending succession of petty drudgeries which wear the heart and
soul out of so many wives and mothers, making life to them a pilgrimage
from stove to pantry, from pantry to cellar, and from cellar to
garret--a life that deadens and destroys, coarsens and narrows, till the
flesh and bones are warped to the expression of the wronged and cheated
soul.

Albert's selfishness was in a way excusable. He enjoyed beyond measure
the sound of the girl's soft voice and the sight of her graceful head
bent over the page. He lay, looking and listening dreamily, till the
voice and the sunlit head were lost in his deep, sweet sleep.

The girl sat with closed book, looking at his face as he slept. It was a
curious study to her, a young man--_this_ young man, asleep. His brown
lashes lay on his cheek; his facial lines were as placid as a child's.
As she looked she gained courage to go over softly and peer down on him.
How boyish he seemed! How little to be feared! How innocent, after all!

As she studied him she thought of him the day before, with closed eyes,
a ghastly stream of blood flowing down and soaking her dress. She
shuddered. His hands, clean and strong and white, lay out on the
coverlet, loose and open, the fingers fallen into graceful lines.
Abruptly, a boy outside gave a shout, and she leaped away with a sudden
spring that left her pale and breathless. As she paused in the door and
looked back at the undisturbed sleeper, she smiled, and the pink came
back into her thin face.

Albert's superb young blood began to assert itself, and on the afternoon
of the second day he was able to sit in his rocking chair before the
fire and read a little, though he professed that his eyes were not
strong, in order that Maud should read for him. This she did as often as
she could leave her other work, which was "not half often enough," the
invalid grumbled.

"More than you deserve," she found courage to say.

Hartley let nothing interfere with the book business, and the popular
sympathy for Albert he coined into dollars remorselessly.

"You take it easy," he kept saying to his partner; "don't you
worry--your pay goes on just the same. You're doing well right where you
are. By jinks! biggest piece o' luck," he went on, half in earnest.
"Why, I can't turn around without taking an order--fact! Turned in a
book on the livery bill--that's all right. We'll make a clear hundred
dollars out o' that little bump o' yours."

"Little bump! Say, now, that's----"

"Keep it up--put it on! Don't get up in a hurry. I don't need you to
canvass, and I guess you enjoy this 'bout as well." He ended with a sly
wink and cough.

Yes; the convalescence was delicious; afterward it grew to be one of the
sweetest weeks of his life. Maud reading to him, bringing his food, and
singing for him---- yes; all that marred it was the stream of people who
came to inquire how he was getting along. The sympathy was largely
genuine, as Hartley could attest, but it bored the invalid. He had
rather be left in quiet with Walter Scott and Maud, the drone of the
long descriptive passages being a sure soporific.

He did not say, as an older person might, that she was not to be held
accountable for what she did under the stress and tumult of that day;
but he unconsciously did so regard her actions, led to do so by the
changed conditions. In the light of common day it was hurrying to be a
dream.

At the end of a week he was quite himself again, though he still had
difficulty in wearing his hat. It was not till the second Sunday after
the accident that he appeared in the dining room for the first time,
with a large traveling cap concealing the suggestive bandages. He looked
pale and thin, but his eyes danced with joy.

Maud's eyes dilated with instant solicitude. The rest sprang up in
surprise, with shouts of delight, as hearty as brethren.

"Ginger! I'm glad t' see yeh!" said Troutt, so sincerely that he looked
almost winning to the boy. The rest crowded around, shaking hands.

"Oh, I'm on deck again."

Ed Brann came in a moment later with his brother, and there was a
significant little pause--a pause which grew painful till Albert turned
and saw Brann, and called out:

"Hello, Ed! How are you? Didn't know you were here."

As he held out his hand, Brann, his face purple with shame and
embarrassment, lumbered heavily across the room and took it, muttering
some poor apology.

"Hope y' don't blame me."

"Of course not--fortunes o' war. Nobody to blame; just my
carelessness.--Yes; I'll take turkey," he said to Maud, as he sank into
the seat of honor at the head of the table.

Then the rest laughed and took seats, but Brann remained standing near
Albert's chair. He had not finished yet.

"I'm mighty glad yeh don't lay it up against me, Lohr; an' I want 'o say
the doctor's bill is all right; you un'erstand, it's _all right_."

Albert looked at him a moment in surprise. He knew this, coming from a
man like Brann, meant more than a thousand prayers from a ready
apologist; it was a terrible victory, and he made it as easy for his
rival as possible.

"Oh, all right, Ed; only I'd calculated to cheat him out o' part of
it--that is, turn in a couple o' Blaine's 'Twenty Years' on the bill."

Hartley roared, and the rest joined in, but not even Albert perceived
all that it meant. It meant that the young savage had surrendered his
claim in favor of the man he had all but killed. The struggle had been
prodigious, but he had snatched victory out of defeat; his better nature
had conquered.

No one ever gave him credit for it; and when he went West in the spring,
people said his love for Maud had been superficial. In truth, he had
loved the girl as sincerely as he had hated his rival. That he could
rise out of the barbaric in his love and hate was heroic.

When Albert went to ride again, it was on melting snow, with the
slowest horse Troutt had. Maud was happier than she had been since she
left school, and fuller of color and singing. She dared not let a golden
moment pass now without hearing it ring full, and she did not dare to
think how short this day of happiness might be.


IV.

At the end of the fifth week there was a suspicion of spring in the wind
as it swept the southern exposure of the valley. February was drawing to
a close, and there was more than a suggestion of spring in the rapidly
melting snow which still lay on the hills and under the cedars and
tamaracks in the swamps. Patches of green grass, appearing on the sunny
side of the road where the snow had melted, led to predictions of spring
from the loafers beginning to sun themselves on the salt-barrels and
shoe-boxes outside the stores.

A group sitting about the blacksmith shop were talking it.

"It's an early seedin'--now mark my words," said Troutt, as he threw his
knife into the soft ground at his feet. "The sun is crossing the line
earlier this spring than it did last."

"Yes; an' I heard a crow to-day makin' that kind of a--a spring noise
that kind o'--I d' know what--kind o' goes all through a feller."

"And there's Uncle Sweeney, an' that settles it; spring's comin' sure!"
said Troutt, pointing at an old man much bent, hobbling down the street
like a symbolic figure of the old year.

"When _he_ gits out the frogs ain't fur behind."

"We'll be gittin' on to the ground by next Monday," said Sam Dingley to
a crowd who were seated on the newly painted harrows and seeders which
"Svend & Johnson" had got out ready for the spring trade. "Svend &
Johnson's Agricultural Implement Depot" was on the north side of the
street, and on a spring day the yard was one of the pleasantest loafing
places that could be imagined, especially if one wished company.

Albert wished to be alone. Something in the touch and tone of this
spring afternoon made him restless and full of strange thoughts. He took
his way out along the road which followed the river bank, and in the
outskirts of the village threw himself down on a bank of grass which the
snows had protected, and which had already a tinge of green because of
its wealth of sun.

The willows had thrown out their tiny light green flags, though their
roots were under the ice, and some of the hard-wood twigs were tinged
with red. There was a faint, peculiar but powerful odor of uncovered
earth in the air, and the touch of the wind was like a caress from a
moist magnetic hand.

The boy absorbed the light and heat of the sun as some wild thing
might, his hat over his face, his hands folded on his breast; he lay as
still as a statue. He did not listen at first, he only felt; but at
length he rose on his elbow and listened. The ice cracked and fell along
the bank with a long, hollow, booming crash; a crow cawed, and a jay
answered it from the willows below. A flight of sparrows passed,
twittering innumerably. The boy shuddered with a strange, wistful
longing and a realization of the flight of time.

He could have wept, he could have sung; he only shuddered and lay silent
under the stress of that strange, sweet passion that quickened his
heart, deepened his eyes, and made his breath come and go with a
quivering sound. Across the dazzling blue arch of the sky the crow
flapped, sending down his prophetic, jubilant note; the wind, as soft
and sweet as April, stirred in his hair; the hills, deep in their dusky
blue, seemed miles away; and the voices of the care-free skaters on the
melting ice of the river below came to the ear subdued to a unity with
the scene.

Suddenly a fear seized upon the boy--a horror! Life, life was passing!
Life that can be lived only once, and lost, is lost forever! Life, that
fatal gift of the Invisible Powers to man--a path, with youth and joy
and hope at its eastern gate, and despair, regret, and death at its low
western portal!

The boy caught a glimpse of his real significance--a gnat, a speck in
the sun: a boy facing the millions of great and wise and wealthy. He
leaped up, clasping his hands.

"Oh, I _must_ work! I mustn't stay here; I must get back to my studies.
Life is slipping by me, and I am doing nothing, being nothing!"

His face, as pale as death, absolutely shone with his passionate
resolution, and his hands were clinched in a silent, inarticulate
desire.

But on his way back he met the jocund party of skaters going home from
the river, and with the easy shift and change of youth joined in their
ringing laughter. The weird power of the wind's voice was gone, and he
was the unthinking boy again; but the problem was only put off, not
solved.

He had a suspicion of it one night when Hartley said: "Well, pardner,
we're getting 'most ready to pull out. Some way I always get restless
when these warm days begin. Want 'o be moving some way."

This was as sentimental as Hartley ever got; or, if he ever felt more
sentiment, he concealed it carefully.

"I s'pose it must 'a' been in spring that those old chaps, on their
steeds and in their steel shirts, started out for the Holy Land or to
rescue some damsel, hey?" he ended, with a grin. "Now, that's the way I
feel--just like striking out for, say, Oshkosh. This has been a big
strike here, sure's you live; that little piece of lofty tumbling was a
big boom, and no mistake. Why, your share o' this campaign will be a
hundred and twenty dollars sure."

"More'n I've earned," replied Bert.

"No, it ain't. You've done your duty like a man. Done as much in your
way as I have. Now, if you want to try another county with me, say so.
I'll make a thousand dollars this year out o' this thing."

"I guess I'll go back to school."

"All right; don't blame you at all."

"I guess, with what I can earn for father, I can pull through the year,
I _must_ get back. I'm awfully obliged to you, Jim."

"That'll do on that," said Hartley shortly; "you don't owe me anything.
We'll finish delivery to-morrow, and be ready to pull out on Friday or
Sat."

There was an acute pain in Albert's breast somewhere; he had not
analyzed his case at all, and did not now, but the idea of going
affected him strongly. It had been so pleasant, that daily return to a
lovely girlish presence.

"Yes, sir," Hartley was going on; "I'm going to just quietly leave a
book on her center table. I don't know as it'll interest her much, but
it'll show we appreciate the grub, and so on. By jinks! You don't seem
to realize what a worker that woman is. Up five o'clock in the
morning--By the way, you've been going around with the girl a good
deal, and she's introduced you to some first-rate sales; now, if you
want 'o leave her a little something, make it a morocco copy, and charge
it to the firm."

Albert knew that he meant well, but he couldn't, somehow, help saying
ironically:

"Thanks; but I guess _one_ copy of Blaine's 'Twenty Years' will be
enough in the house, especially----"

"Well, give her anything you please, and charge it up to the firm. I
don't insist on Blaine; only suggested that because----"

"I guess I can stand the expense of my own."

"I didn't say you couldn't, man! But _I_ want a hand in this thing.
Don't be so turrible keen t' snap a feller up," said Hartley, turning on
him. "What the thunder is the matter of you anyway? I like the girl, and
she's been good to us all round; she tended you like an angel----"

"There, there! That's enough o' that," put in Albert hastily. "F'r God's
sake don't whang away on that string forever, as if I didn't know it!"

Hartley stared at him as he turned away.

"Well, by jinks! What _is_ the matter o' you?"

He was too busy to dwell upon it much, but concluded his partner was
homesick.

Albert was beginning to have a vague under-consciousness of his real
feeling toward the girl, but he fought off the acknowledgment of it as
long as possible. His mind moved in a circle, coming back to the one
point ceaselessly--a dreary prospect, in which the slender girl-figure
had no place--and each time the prospect grew more intolerably blank,
and the pain in his heart more acute and throbbing.

When he faced her that night, after they had returned from a final
skating party down on the river, he was as far from a solution as ever.
He had avoided all reference to their separation, and now he stood as a
man might at the parting of two paths, saying: "I will not choose; I can
not choose. I will wait for some sign, some chance thing, to direct me."

They stood opposite each other, each feeling that there was more to be
said; the girl tender, her eyes cast down, holding her hands to the
fire; he shivering, but not with cold. He had a vague knowledge of the
vast importance of the moment, and he hesitated to speak.

"It's almost spring again, isn't it? And you've been here--" she paused
and looked up with a daring smile--"seems as if you'd been here always."

It was about half past eight. Mrs. Welsh was setting her bread in the
kitchen; they could hear her moving about. Hartley was downtown
finishing up his business.

Albert's throat grew dry and his limbs trembled. His pause was ominous;
the girl's smile died away as he took a seat without looking at her.

"Well, Maud, I suppose--you know--we're going away to-morrow."

"Oh, must you? But you'll come back?"

"I don't expect to--I don't see how."

"Oh, don't say that!" cried the girl, her face as white as silver, her
clasped hands straining.

"I must--I must!" he muttered, not looking at her, not daring to see her
face.

"Oh, what can I do--_we_ do, without you! I can't bear it!"

She stopped and sank back into a chair, her breath coming heavily from
her twitching lips, the unnoticed tears falling from her staring,
pitiful, wild, appealing eyes, her hands nervously twisting her gloves.

There was a long silence. Each was undergoing a self-revelation; each
was trying to face a future without the other.

"I must go!" he repeated aimlessly, mechanically.

The girl's heavy breathing deepened into a wild little moaning sound,
inexpressibly pitiful, her hungry eyes fixed on his face. She gave way
first, and flung herself down upon her knees at his side, her hands
seeking his neck.

"Albert, I can't _live_ without you now! Take me with you! Don't leave
me!"

He stooped suddenly and took her in his arms, raised her, and kissed her
hair.

"I didn't mean it, Maud; I'll never leave you--never! Don't cry!"

She drew his face down to hers and kissed it, then turned her face to
his breast and laughed and cried. There was a silence; then joy and
confidence came back again.

"I know now what you meant," the girl cried gayly, raising herself and
looking into his face; "you were trying to scare me, and make me show
how much I--cared for you--first!" There was a soft smile on her lips
and a tender light in her eyes. "But I don't mind it."

"I guess I didn't know myself what I meant," he said, with a grave
smile.

When Mrs. Welsh came in, they were sitting on the sofa, talking in low
voices of their future. He was grave and subdued, while she was radiant
with love and hope. The future had no terrors for her. All plans were
good and successful now. But the boy unconsciously felt the gravity of
life somehow deepened by his love.

"Why, Maud!" Mrs. Welsh exclaimed, "what is----"

"O mother, I'm so happy--just as happy as a bird!" she cried, rushing
into her mother's arms.

"Why, why!--what is it? You're crying, dear!"

"No, I'm not; I'm laughing--see!"

Mrs. Welsh turned her dim eyes on the girl, who shook the tears from
her lashes with the action of a bird shaking water from its wings. She
seemed to shake off her trouble at the same moment. Mrs. Welsh
understood perfectly.

"I'm very glad, too, dearie," she said simply, looking at the young man
with motherly love irradiating her worn face. Albert went to her, and
she kissed him, while the happy girl put her arms about them both in an
ecstatic hug.

"_Now_ you've got a son, mother."

"But I've lost a daughter--my first-born."

"Oh, wait till you hear our plans!"

"He's going to settle down here--aren't you, Albert?"

Then they sat down, all three, and had a sweet, intimate talk of an
hour, full of plans and hopes and confidences.

At last he kissed the radiant girl good night and, going into his own
room, sat down by the stove and, watching the flicker of the flames
through the chinks, pondered on the change that had come into his life.

Already he sighed with the stress of care, the press of thought, which
came upon him. The longing uneasiness of the boy had given place to
another unrest--the unrest of the man who must face the world in earnest
now, planning for food and shelter; and all plans included Maud.

To go back to school was out of the question. To expect help from his
father, overworked and burdened with debt, was impossible. He must go
to work, and go to work to aid _her_. A living must be wrung from this
town. All the home and all the property Mrs. Welsh had were here, and
wherever Maud went the mother must follow; she could not live without
her.

He was in the midst of the turmoil when Hartley came in, humming the
"Mulligan Guards."

"In the dark, hey?"

"Completely in the dark."

"Well, light up, light up!"

"I'm trying to."

"What the deuce do you mean by that tone? What's been going on here
since my absence?"

Albert did not reply, and Hartley shuffled about after a match, lighted
the lamp, threw his coat and hat in the corner, and then said:

"Well, I've got everything straightened up. Been freezing out old
Daggett; the old skeesix has been promisin' f'r a week, and I just said,
'Old man, I'll camp right down with you here till you fork over,' and he
did. By the way, everybody I talked with to-day about leaving said,
'What's Lohr going to do with that girl?' I told 'em I didn't know; do
you? It seems you've been thicker'n I supposed."

"I'm going to marry her," said Albert calmly, but his voice sounded
strangely alien.

"What's that?" yelled Hartley.

"Sh! don't raise the neighbors. I'm going to marry her." He spoke
quietly, but there was a peculiar numbness creeping over him.

"Well, by jinks! When? Say, looky here! Well, I swanny!" exclaimed
Hartley helplessly. "When?"

"Right away; some time this summer--June, maybe."

Hartley thrust his hands into his trousers pockets, stretched out his
legs, and stared at his friend in vast amaze.

"You're givin' me guff!"

"I'm in dead earnest."

"I thought you was going through college all so fast?"

"Well, I've made up my mind it ain't much use to try," replied Albert
listlessly.

"What y' goin' t' do here, or are y' goin' t' take the girl away with
yeh?"

"She can't leave her mother. We'll run this boarding house for the
present. I'll try for the principalship of the school here. Raff is
going to resign, he says; if I can't get that, I'll get into a law
office here. Don't worry about me."

"But why go into this so quick? Why not put it off fifteen or twenty
years?" asked Hartley, trying to get back to cheerful voice.

"What would be the use? At the end of a year I'd be just about as poor
as I am now."

"Can't y'r father step in and help you?"

"No. There are three boys and two girls, all younger than I, to be
looked out for, and he has all he can carry. Besides, _she_ needs me
right here and right now. Two delicate women struggling along; suppose
one of 'em should fall sick? I tell you they need me, and if I can do
anything to make life easy, or easier, I'm going t' do it. Besides," he
ended in a peculiar tone, "we don't feel as if we could live apart much
longer."

"But, great Scott! man, you can't----"

"Now, hold on, Jim! I've thought this thing all over, and I've made up
my mind. It ain't any use to go on talking about it. What good would it
do me to go to school another year, come out without a dollar, and no
more fitted for earning a living for her than I am now? And, besides all
that, I couldn't draw a free breath thinking of her here workin' away to
keep things moving, liable at any minute to break down."

Hartley gazed at him in despair, and with something like awe. It was a
tremendous transformation in the young, ambitious student. He felt in a
way responsible for the calamity, and that he ought to use every effort
to bring the boy to his senses.

Like most men in America, and especially Western men, he still clung to
the idea that a man was entirely responsible for his success or failure
in life. He had not admitted that conditions of society might be so
adverse that only men of most exceptional endowments, and willing and
able to master many of the best and deepest and most sacred of their
inspirations and impulses, could succeed.

Of the score of specially promising young fellows who had been with him
at school, seventeen had dropped out and down. Most of them had married
and gone back to farming, or to earn a precarious living in the small,
dull towns where farmers trade and traders farm. Conditions were too
adverse; they simply weakened and slipped slowly back into dullness and
an oxlike or else a fretful patience. Thinking of these men, and
thinking their failure due to themselves alone, Hartley could not endure
the idea of his friend adding one more to the list of failures. He
sprang up at last.

"Say, Bert, you might just as well hang y'rself, and done with it! Why,
it's suicide! I can't allow it. I started in at college bravely, and
failed because I'd let it go too long. I couldn't study--couldn't get
down to it; but you--why, old man, I'd _bet_ on you!" He had a tremor in
his voice. "I hate like thunder to see you give up your plans. Say, you
can't afford to do this; it's too much to pay."

"No, it ain't."

"I say it is. What do you get, in----"

"I think so much o' her that----"

"Oh, nonsense! You'd get over this in a week."

"Jim!" called Albert warningly, sharply.

"All right," said Jim, in the tone of a man who felt that it was all
wrong--"all right; but the time'll come when you'll wish I'd--You ain't
doin' the girl enough good to make up for the harm you're doin'
yourself." He broke off again, and said in a tone of peculiar meaning:
"I'm done. I'm all through, and I c'n see you're through with Jim
Hartley. Why, Bert, look here--No? All right!"

"Darn curious," he muttered to himself, "that boy should get caught just
at this time, and not with some one o' those girls in Marion. Well, it's
none o' my funeral," he ended, with a sigh; for it had stirred him to
the bottom of his sunny nature, after all. A dozen times, as he lay
there beside his equally sleepless companion, he started to say
something more in deprecation of the step, but each time stifled the
opening word into a groan.

It would not be true to say that love had come to Albert Lohr as a
relaxing influence, but it had changed the direction of his energies so
radically as to make his whole life seem weaker and lower. As long as
his love-dreams went out toward a vague and ideal woman, supposedly
higher and grander than himself, he was spurred on to face the terrible
sheer escarpment of social eminence; but when he met, by accident, the
actual woman who was to inspire his future efforts, the difficulties he
faced took on solid reality.

His aspirations fell to the earth, their wings clipped, and became,
perforce, submissive beasts at the plow. The force that moved so much
of his thought was transformed into other energy. Whether it were a wise
step or not he did not know; he certainly knew it was right.

The table was very gay at dinner next day. Maud was standing at the
highest point of her girlhood dreams. Her flushed face and shining eyes
made her seem almost a child, and Hartley wondered at her, and relented
a little in the face of such happiness. Her face was turned to Albert in
an unconscious, beautiful way; she had nothing to conceal now.

Mrs. Welsh was happy, too, but a little tearful in an unobtrusive way.
Troutt had his jokes, of course, not very delicate, but of good
intention. In fact, they were as flags and trumpets to the young people.
Mrs. Welsh had confided in him, telling him to be secret; but the
finesse of his joking could not fail to reveal everything he knew.

But Maud cared little. She was filled with a sort of tender boldness;
and Albert, in the delight of the hour, gave himself up wholly to a
trust in the future and to the fragrance and music of love.

"They're gay as larks now," thought Hartley to himself, as he joined in
the laughter; "but that won't help 'em any, ten years from now."

He could hardly speak next day as he shook hands at the station with his
friend.

"Good-by, ol' man; I hope it'll come out all right, but I'm afraid--But
there! I promised not to say anything about it. Good-by till we meet in
Congress," he ended in a lamentable attempt at being funny.

"Can't you come to the wedding, Jim? We've decided on June. You see,
they need a man around the house, so we--You'll come, won't you, old
fellow? And don't mind my being a little crusty last night."

"Oh, yes; I'll come," Jim said, in a tone which concealed a desire to
utter one more protest.

"It's no use; that ends him, sure's I'm a thief. He's jumped into a hole
and pulled the hole in after him. A man can't marry a family like that
at his age, and pull out of it. He _may_, but I doubt it. Well, as I
remarked before, it's none o' my funeral so long as _he's_ satisfied."

But he said it with a painful lump in his throat, and he could not bring
himself to feel that Albert's course was right, and felt himself to be
somehow culpable in the case.



AN ALIEN IN THE PINES.

I.


A man and a woman were pacing up and down the wintry station platform,
waiting for a train. On every side the snow lay a stained and crumpled
blanket, with here and there a light or a chimney to show the village
sleeping beneath.

The sky was a purple-black hemisphere, out of which the stars glittered
almost white. The wind came out of the west, cold but amiable; the
cracked bell of a switch engine gurgled querulously at intervals,
followed by the bumping of coupling freight cars; roosters were crowing,
and sleepy train men were assembling in sullen silence.

The couple walked with arms locked like lovers, but the tones of their
voices had the quality which comes after marriage. They were man and
wife.

The woman's clear voice arose. "O Ed, isn't this delicious? What one
misses by not getting up early!"

"Sleep, for instance," laughed her husband.

"Don't drag me down. You know what I mean. Let's get up early every
morning while we're up here in the woods."

"Shouldn't wonder if we had to. There'll be a lot to do, and I want to
get back to Chicago by the 1st of February."

"This is an experience! Isn't it still? When is our train due?"

"Due now; I think that is our headlight up the track."

As he spoke, an engine added its voice to the growing noise of the
station, and drew solemnly down the frosty steel.

An eruption of shapeless forms of men from the depot filled the one
general coach of the train. They nearly all were dressed in some sort of
fur coat, and all had the look of men accustomed to outdoor
life--powerful, loud-voiced, unrefined. They were, in fact, traveling
men, business men, the owners of mills or timber. The stolid or patient
oxlike faces of some Norwegian workmen, dressed in gay Mackinac jackets,
were sprinkled about.

The young wife was a fine type of woman anywhere, but these surroundings
made her seem very dainty and startlingly beautiful. Her husband had the
fair skin of a city man, but his powerful shoulders and firm step
denoted health and wholesome living. They were good to see as man and
wife.

They soon felt the reaction to sleepiness which comes to those not
accustomed to early rising, and the wife, soothed by the clank of the
train, leaned her head on her husband's shoulder and dozed. He looked
out upon the landscape, glad that his wife was not observing it. He did
not know such desolation existed in Wisconsin.

On every side were the evidences of a ruined forest land. A landscape of
flat wastes, of thinned and burned and uprooted trees. A desolate and
apparently useless land.

Here and there a sawmill stood gray and sagging, surrounded by little
cabins of unpainted wood, to testify to the time when great pines stood
all about, and the ring of the swamper's axe was heard in the intervals
of silence between the howls of a saw.

To the north the swells grew larger. Birch and tamarack swamps
alternated with dry ridges on which an inferior pine still grew. The
swamps were dense tangles of broken and uprooted trees. Slender pikelike
stumps of fire-devastated firs rose here and there, black and grim
skeletons of trees.

It was a land that had been sheared by the axe, torn by the winds, and
blasted by fire.

Off to the west low blue ridges rose, marking the boundaries of the
valley which had been washed out ages ago by water. After the floods it
had sprung up to pine forests, and these in their turn had been sheared
away by man. It lay now awaiting the plow and seeder of the intrepid
pioneer.

Suddenly the wife roused up. "Why, we haven't had any breakfast!"

He smiled at her childish look of bewilderment. "I've been painfully
aware of it for some time back. I've been suffering for food while you
slept."

"Why didn't you get into the basket?"

"How could I, with you on my manly bosom?"

She colored up a little. They had not been married long, evidently.

They were soon eating a breakfast with the spirit of picnickers.
Occasionally she looked out of the window.

"What a wild country!" she said. He did not emphasize its qualities to
her; rather, he distracted her attention from the desolation.

The train roared round its curves, conforming with the general course of
the river. On every hand were thickening signs of active lumber
industry. They flashed by freight trains loaded with logs or lumber or
ties. Mills in operation grew thicker.

The car echoed with the talk of lumber. A brisk man with a red mustache
was exhibiting a model of a machine to cut certain parts of machinery
out of "two by fours." Another was describing a new shingle mill he had
just built.

A couple of elderly men, one a German, were discussing the tariff on
lumber. The workmen mainly sat silent.

"It's all so strange!" the young wife said again and again.

"Yes, it isn't exactly the Lake Shore drive."

"I like it. I wish I could smell the pines."

"You'll have all the pines you can stand before we get back to Chicago."

"No, sir; I'm going to enjoy every moment of it; and you're going to let
me help, you know--look over papers and all that. I'm the heiress, you
must remember," she said wickedly.

"Well, we won't quarrel about that until we see how it all turns out. It
may not be worth my time up here. I shall charge you roundly as your
lawyer; depend on that."

The outlook grew more attractive as the train sped on. Old Mosinee rose,
a fine rounded blue shape, on the left.

"Why, there's a mountain! I didn't know Wisconsin had such a mountain as
that."

"Neither did I. This valley is fine. Now, if your uncle's estates only
included that hill!"

The valley made off to the northwest with a bold, large, and dignified
movement. The coloring, blue and silver, purple-brown and bronze-green,
was suitable to the grouping of lines. It was all fresh and vital,
wholesome and very impressive.

From this point the land grew wilder--that is, more primeval: There was
more of Nature and less of man. The scar of the axe was here and there,
but the forest predominated. The ridges of pine foliages broke against
the sky miles and miles in splendid sweep.

"This must be lovely in summer," the wife said, again and again, as they
flashed by some lake set among the hills.

"It's fine now," he replied, feeling the thrill of the sportsman. "I'd
like to shoulder a rifle and plunge into those snowy vistas. How it
brings the wild spirit out in a man! Women never feel that delight."

"Oh, yes, we do," she replied, glad that something remained yet
unexplained between them. "We feel just like men, only we haven't the
strength of mind to demand a share of it with you."

"Yes, you feel it at this distance. You'd come back mighty quick the
second night out."

She did not relish his laughter, and so looked away out of the window.
"Just think of it--Uncle Edwin lived here thirty years!"

He forbore to notice her inconsistency. "Yes, the wilderness is all
right for a vacation, but I prefer Chicago for the year round."

When they came upon Ridgeley, both cried out with delight.

"Oh, what a dear, picturesque little town!" she said.

"Well, well! I wonder how they came to build a town without a row of
battlemented stores?"

It lay among and upon the sharp, low, stumpy pine ridges in haphazard
fashion, like a Swiss village. A small brook ran through it, smothered
here and there in snow. A sawmill was the largest figure of the town,
and the railway station was the center. There was not an inch of painted
board in the village. Everywhere the clear yellow of the pine flamed
unstained by time. Lumber piles filled all the lower levels near the
creek. Evidently the town had been built along logging roads, and there
was something grateful and admirable in its irregular arrangement. The
houses, moreover, were all modifications of the logging camps; even the
drug store stood with its side to the street. All about were stumps and
fringes of pines, which the lumbermen, for some good reason, had passed
by. Charred boles stood purple-black out of the snow.

It was all green and gray and blue and yellow-white and wild. The sky
was not more illimitable than the rugged forest which extended on every
hand.

"Oh, this is glorious--glorious!" said the wife. "Do I own some of this
town?" she asked, as they rose to go out.

"I reckon you do."

"Oh, I'm so glad!"

As they stepped out on the platform, a large man in corduroy and
wolf-skin faced them like a bandit.

"Hello, Ed!"

"Hello, Jack! Well, we've found you. My wife, Mr. Ridgeley. We've come
up to find out how much you've embezzled," he said, as Ridgeley pulled
off an immense glove to shake hands all round.

"Well, come right over to the hotel. It ain't the Auditorium, but then,
again, it ain't like sleeping outdoors."

As they moved along they heard the train go off, and then the sound of
the saw resumed its domination of the village noises.

"Was the town named after you, or you after the town?" asked Field.

"Named after me. Old man didn't want it named after him; would kill it,"
he said.

Mr. and Mrs. Field found the hotel quite comfortable and the dinner
wholesome. They beamed upon each other.

"It's going to be delightful," they said.

Ridgeley was a bachelor, and found his home at the hotel also. That
night he said: "Now we'll go over the papers and records of your uncle's
property, and then we'll go out and see if the property is all there. I
imagine this is to be a searching investigation."

"You may well think it. My wife is inexorable."

As night fell, the wife did not feel so safe and well pleased. The loud
talking in the office below and the occasional whooping of a crowd of
mill hands going by made her draw her chair nearer and lay her fingers
in her husband's palm.

He smiled indulgently. "Don't be frightened, my dear. These men are not
half so bad as they sound."


II.

Mrs. Field sat in the inner room of Ridgeley's office, waiting for the
return of her husband with the team. They were going out for a drive.

Ridgeley was working at his books, and he had forgotten her presence.

She could not but feel a deep admiration for his powerful frame and his
quick, absorbed action as he moved about from his safe to his desk. He
was a man of great force and ready decision.

Suddenly the door opened and a man entered. He had a sullen and bitter
look on his thin, dark face. Ridgeley's quick eyes measured him, and his
hand softly turned the key in his money drawer, and as he faced about he
swung shut the door of the safe.

The stranger saw all this with eyes as keen as Ridgeley's. A cheerless
and strange smile came upon his face.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "I'm low, but I ain't as low as that."

"Well, sir, what can I do for you?" asked Ridgeley. Mrs. Field half
rose, and her heart beat terribly. She felt something tense and strange
in the attitude of the two men.

But the man only said, "You can give me a job if you want to."

Ridgeley remained alert. He ran his eyes over the man's tall frame. He
looked strong and intelligent, although his eyes were fevered and dull.

"What kind of a job?"

"Any kind that will take me out into the woods and keep me there," the
man replied.

There was a self-accusing tone in his voice that Ridgeley felt.

"What's your object? You look like a man who could do something else.
What brings you here?"

The man turned with a sudden resolution to punish himself. His voice
expressed a terrible loathing.

"Whisky, that's what. It's a hell of a thing to say, but I can't let
liquor alone when I can smell it. I'm no common hand, or I wouldn't be
if I--But let that go. I can swing an axe, and I'm ready to work. That's
enough. Now the question is, can you find a place for me?"

Ridgeley mused a little. The young fellow stood there, statuesque,
rebellious.

Then Ridgeley said, "I guess I can help you out that much." He picked up
a card and a pencil. "What shall I call you?"

"Oh, call me Williams; that ain't my name, but it'll do."

"What you been doing?"

"Everything part of the time, drinking the rest. Was in a livery stable
down at Wausau last week. It came over me, when I woke yesterday, that I
was gone to hell if I stayed in town. So I struck out; and I don't care
for myself, but I've got a woman to look out for--" He stopped abruptly.
His recklessness of mood had its limits, after all.

Ridgeley penciled on a card. "Give this to the foreman of No. 6. The men
over at the mill will show you the teams."

The man started toward the door with the card in his hand. He turned
suddenly.

"One thing more. I want you to send ten dollars of my pay every two
weeks to this address." He took an envelope out of his pocket. "It don't
matter what I say or do after this, I want that money sent. The rest
will keep me in tobacco and clothing. You understand?"

Ridgeley nodded. "Perfectly. I've seen such cases before."

The man went out and down the walk with a hurried, determined air, as if
afraid of his own resolution.

As Ridgeley turned toward his desk he met Mrs. Field, who faced him with
tears of fervent sympathy in her eyes.

"Isn't it awful?" she said, in a half whisper. "Poor fellow, what will
become of him?"

"Oh, I don't know. He'll get along some way. Such fellows do. I've had
'em before. They try it a while here; then they move. I can't worry
about them."

Mrs. Field was not listening to his shifty words. "And then, think of
his wife--how she must worry."

Ridgeley smiled. "Perhaps it's his mother or a sister."

"Anyway it's awful. Can't something be done for him?"

"I guess we've done about all that can be done."

"Oh, I wish I could help him! I'll tell Ed about him."

"Don't worry about him, Mrs. Field; he ain't worth it."

"Oh yes, he is. I feel he's been a good boy once, and then he's so
self-accusing."

Her own happiness was so complete, she could not bear to think of
others' misery. She told her husband about Williams, and ended by
asking, "Can't we do anything to help the poor fellow?"

Field was not deeply concerned. "No; he's probably past help. Such men
are so set in their habits, nothing but a miracle or hypnotism can save
them. He'll end up as a 'lumber Jack,' as the townsmen call the hands in
the camps."

"But he isn't that, Edward. He's finer some way. You feel he is. Ask Mr.
Ridgeley."

Ridgeley merely said: "Yes, he seemed to me to be more than a common
hand. But, all the same, it won't be two weeks before he'll be in here
as drunk as a wild cat, wanting to shoot me for holding back his money."

In this way Williams came to be to Mrs. Field a very important figure in
the landscape of that region. She often spoke of him, and on the
following Saturday night, when Field came home, she anxiously asked, "Is
Williams in town?"

"No, he hasn't shown up yet."

She clapped her hands in delight. "Good! good! He's going to win his
fight."

Field laughed. "Don't bet on Williams too soon. We'll hear from him
before the week is out."

"When are we going to visit the camp?" she asked, changing the subject.

"As soon as it warms up a little. It is too cold for you."

She had a laugh at him. "You were the one who wanted to 'plunge into the
snowy vistas.'"

He evaded her joke on him by assuming a careless tone. "I'm not plunging
as much as I was; the snow is too deep."

"When you go I want to go with you--I want to see Williams."

"Ha!" he snorted melodramatically. "She scorns me faithful heart. She
turns----"

Mrs. Field smiled faintly. "Don't joke about it Ed. I can't get that
wife out of my mind."


III.

A few very cold gray days followed, and then the north wind cleared the
sky; and, though it was still cold, it was pleasant. The sky had only a
small white cloud here and there to make its blueness the more profound.

Ridgeley dashed up to the door with a hardy little pair of bronchos
hitched to a light pair of bobs, and Mrs. Field was tucked in like a
babe in a cradle.

Almost the first thing she asked was, "How is Williams?"

"Oh, he's getting on nicely. He refused to sleep with his bunk mate, and
finally had to lick him, I understand, to shut him up. Challenged the
whole camp then to let him alone or take a licking. They let him alone,
Lawson says.--G'lang there, you rats!"

Mrs. Field said no more, for the air was whizzing by her ears, and she
hardly dared look out, so keen was the wind, but as soon as they entered
the deeps of the forest it was profoundly still.

The ride that afternoon was a glory she never forgot. Everywhere
yellow-greens and purple shadows. The sun in a burnished blue sky
flooded the forests with light, striking down through even the thickest
pines to lay in fleckings of radiant white and gold upon the snow.

The trail (it was not a road) ran like a graceful furrow over the
hills, around little lakes covered deep with snow, through tamarack
swamps where the tracks of wild things thickened, over ridges of tall
pine clear of brush, and curving everywhere amid stumps, where
dismantled old shanties marked the site of the older logging camps.
Sometimes they met teams going to the store. Sometimes they crossed
logging roads--wide, smooth tracks artificially iced, down which
mountainous loads of logs were slipping, creaking and groaning.
Sometimes they heard the dry click-clock of the woodsmen's axes, or the
crash of falling trees deep in the wood. When they reached the first
camp, Ridgeley pulled up the steaming horses at the door and shouted,
"Hello, the camp!"

A tall old man with a long red beard came out. He held one bare red arm
above his eyes. He wore an apron.

"Hello, Sandy!"

"Hello, Mr. Ridgeley!"

"Ready for company?"

"Am always ready for company," he said, with a Scotch accent.

"Well, we're coming in to get warm."

"Vera wal."

As they went in, under the roofed shed between the cook's shanty and the
other and larger shanty, Mrs. Field sniffed. Sandy led them past a large
pyramid composed of the scraps of beef bones, eggshells, cans, and tea
grounds left over during the winter. In the shed itself hung great
slabs of beef.

It was as untidy and suggestive of slaughter as the nest of a brood of
eagles.

Sandy was beginning dinner on a huge stove spotted with rust and pancake
batter. All about was the litter of his preparation. Beef--beef on all
sides, and tin dishes and bare benches and huge iron cooking pans.

Mrs. Field was glad to get out into the sunlight again.

"What a horrible place! Are they all like that?"

"No, my camps are not like that--or, I should say, _our_ camps,"
Ridgeley added, with a smile.

"Not a gay place at all," said Field, in exaggerated reserve.

But Mrs. Field found her own camps not much better. True, the refuse was
not raised in pyramidal shape before the front door, and the beef was a
little more orderly, but the low log huts, the dim cold light, the dingy
walls and floors, the lack of any womanly or home touch, the tin dishes,
the wholesale cooking, all struck upon her with terrible force.

"Do human beings live here?" she asked Ridgeley, when he opened the door
of the main shanty of No. 6.

"Forty creatures of the men kind sleep and house here," he replied.

"To which the socks and things give evidence," said Field promptly,
pointing toward the huge stove which sat like a rusty-red cheese in the
center of the room. Above it hung scores of ragged gray and red socks
and Mackinac boots and jackets which had been washed by the men
themselves.

Around were the grimy bunks where the forty men slept like tramps in a
steamer's hold. The quilts were grimy, and the posts greasy and shining
with the touch of hands. There were no chairs--only a kind of rude stool
made of boards. There were benches near the stove nailed to the rough
floor. In each bunk, hanging to a peg, was the poor little
imitation-leather hand-bag which contained the whole wardrobe of each
man, exclusive of the tattered socks and shirts hanging over the stove.

The room was chill and cold and gray. It had only two small windows. Its
doors were low. Even Mrs. Field was forced to stoop in entering. This
made it seem more like a den. There were roller towels in the corner,
and washbasins, and a grindstone, which made it seem like a barn. It
was, in fact, more cheerless than the barn, and less wholesome.

"Doesn't that hay in the bunks get a--a--sometimes?" asked Field.

"Well, yes, I shouldn't wonder, though the men are pretty strict about
that. They keep pretty free from that, I think. However, I shouldn't
want to run no river chances on the thing myself." Ridgeley smiled at
Mrs. Field's shudder of horror.

"Is this the place?" The men laughed. She had asked that question so
many times before.

"Yes, _this_ is where Mr. Williams hangs out.--Say, Field, you'll need
to make some new move to hold your end up against Williams."

Mrs. Field felt hurt and angry at his rough joke. In the dim corner a
cough was heard, and a yellow head raised itself over the bunk board
ghastily. His big blue eyes fixed themselves on the lovely woman and he
wore a look of childish wonder.

"Hello, Gus--didn't see you. What's the matter--sick?"

"Yah, ai baen hwick two days. Ai tank ai lack to hav doketer."

"All right, I'll send him up. What seems the matter?"

As they talked, Mrs. Field again chilled with the cold gray
comfortlessness of it all; to be sick in such a place! The strange
appearance of the man out of his grim corner was startling. She was glad
when they drove out into the woods again, where the clear sunshine fell,
and the pines stood against the blazing winter sky motionless as iron
trees. Her pleasure in the ride was growing less. To her delicate sense
this life was sordid, not picturesque. She wondered how Williams endured
it. They arrived at No. 8 just as the men were trailing down the road
to work after eating their dinner. Their gay-colored jackets of Mackinac
wool stood out like trumpet notes in the prevailing white and blue and
bronze green.

The boss and the scaler came out and met them, and after introductions
they went into the shanty to dinner. The cook was a deft young
Norwegian--a clean, quick, gentlemanly young fellow with a fine brown
mustache. He cleared a place for them at one end of the long table, and
they sat down.

It was a large camp, but much like the others. On the table were the
same cheap iron forks, the tin plates, and the small tin basins (for
tea) which made up the dinner set. Basins of brown sugar stood about.

"Good gracious! Do people still eat brown sugar? Why, I haven't seen any
of that for ages," cried Mrs. Field.

The stew was good and savory, and the bread fair. The tea was not all
clover, but it tasted of the tin. Mrs. Field said:

"Beef, beef, everywhere beef. One might suppose a menagerie of desert
animals ate here. Edward, we must make things more comfortable for our
men. They must have cups to drink out of; these basins are horrible."

It was humorous to the men, this housewifely suggestion.

"Oh, make it napkins, Allie!"

"You can laugh, but I sh'an't rest after seeing this. If you thought I
was going to say, 'Oh, how picturesque!' you're mistaken. I think it's
barbarous."

She was getting impatient of their patronizing laughter, as if she were
a child. They changed their manner to one of acquiescence, but thought
of her as a child just the same.

After dinner they all went out to see the crew working. It was the
biggest crew anywhere in the neighborhood, and they sat a long while and
watched the men at work. Ridgeley got out and hitched the team to a
tree, and took Field up to the skidway. Mrs. Field remained in the
sleigh, however.

Near her "the swamping team," a span of big deep-red oxen, came and went
among the green tops of the fallen pines. They crawled along their
trails in the snow like some strange machinery, and the boy in a blue
jacket moved almost as listlessly. Somewhere in the tangle of refuse
boughs the swampers' axes click-clocked, saws uttered their grating,
rhythmic snarl, and great trees at intervals shivered, groaned, and fell
with soft, rushing, cracking sweeps into the deep snow, and the swampers
swarmed upon them like Lilliputians attacking a giant enemy.

There was something splendid (though tragic) in the work, but the
thought of the homelessness of the men, their terrible beds, and their
long hours of toil oppressed the delicate and refined woman. She began
to take on culpability. She was partly in authority now, and this system
must be changed. She was deep in plans for change, in shanties and in
sleeping places, when the men returned.

Ridgeley was saying: "No, we control about thirty thousand acres of pine
as good as that. It ain't what it was twenty years ago, but it's worth
money, after all."

It was getting near to dark as they reached No. 6 again, and Ridgeley
drew up and helped them out and into the cook's shanty.

Mrs. Field was introduced to the cook, a short, rather sullen, but
intelligent man. He stood over the red-hot stove, laying great slices of
beef in a huge dripping-pan. He had a taffler or assistant in the person
of a half-grown boy, at whom he jerked rough orders like hunks of stove
wood. Some hit the boy and produced noticeable effects, others did not.

Meanwhile a triumphant sunset was making the west one splendor of purple
and orange and crimson, which came over the cool green rim of the pines
like the Valhalla March in Wagner.

Mrs. Field sat there in the dim room by the window, seeing that splendor
flush and fade, and thinking how dangerous it was to ask where one's
wealth comes from in the world. Outside, the voices of the men
thickened; they were dropping in by twos and fours, with teams and on
foot.

The assistant arranged the basins in rows, and put one of the iron forks
and knives on each side of each plate, and filled the sugar-basins and
dumped in the cold beans, and split the bread into slabs, and put small
pots of tea here and there ready for the hands of the men.

At last, when the big pans of toast, the big plates of beef, were placed
steaming on the table, the cook called Field and Ridgeley and said:

"Set right here at the end." He raised his arm to a ring which dangled
on a wire. "Now look out; you'll see 'em come sidewise." He jerked the
ring and disappeared into the kitchen.

There came shouts, trampling, laughter, and the door burst open and they
streamed in--Norwegians, French, half-breeds, dark-skinned fellows all
of them save the Norwegians. They came like a flood, but they fell
silent at sight of a woman, so beautiful and strange to them.

All words ceased. They sank into place beside the table with the thump
of falling sandbags. They were all in their shirt sleeves, but they were
cleanly washed, and the most of them had combed their hair; but they
seemed very wild and hairy to Mrs. Field. She looked at her husband and
Ridgeley with a grateful pleasure; it was so restful to have them on
each side of her.

The men ate like hungry dogs. They gorged in silence. Nothing was heard
but the clank of knives on tin plates, the drop of heavy plates of food,
and the occasional muttered words of some one asking for the bread and
the gravy.

As they ate they furtively looked with great curiosity and admiration
up at the dainty woman. Their eyes were bright and large, and gleamed
out of the obscure brown of their dimly lighted faces with savage
intensity--so it seemed to Mrs. Field, and she dropped her eyes upon her
plate.

Her husband and Ridgeley entered into conversation with those sitting
near. Ridgeley seemed on good terms with them all, and ventured a joke
or word, at which they laughed with terrific energy, and fell as
suddenly silent again.

As Mrs. Field looked up the second time she saw the dark, strange face
of Williams a few places down, and opposite her. His eyes were fixed on
her husband's hands with a singular intensity. Her eyes followed his,
and the beauty of her husband's hands came to her again with new force.
They were perfectly shaped, supple, warm-colored, and strong. Their
color and deftness stood out in vivid contrast to the heavy, brown,
cracked, and calloused pawlike hands of the men.

Why should Williams study her husband's hands? If he had looked at her
she would not have been surprised. The other men she could read. They
expressed either frank, simple admiration or furtive desire. But this
man looked at her husband, and his eyes fell often upon his own hands,
which trembled with fatigue. He handled his knife clumsily, and yet she
could see he, too, had a fine hand--a slender, powerful hand like that
people call an artist hand--a craftsmanlike hand.

He saw her looking at him, and he flashed one enigmatical glance into
her eyes, and rose to go out.

"How you getting on, Williams?" Ridgeley asked.

Williams resented his question. "Oh, I'm all right," he said sullenly.

The meal was all over in an incredibly short time. One by one, two by
two, they rose heavily and lumbered out with one last wistful look at
Mrs. Field. She will never know how seraphic she seemed sitting there
amid those rough surroundings--the dim red light of the kerosene lamp
falling across her clear pallor, out of which her dark eyes shone with
liquid softness, made deeper and darker by her half-sorrowful tenderness
for these homeless fellows.

An hour later, as they were standing at the door, just ready to take to
their sleigh, they heard the scraping of a fiddle.

"Oh, some one is going to play!" Mrs. Field cried, with visions of the
rollicking good times she had heard so much about and of which she had
seen nothing so far. "Can't I look in?"

Ridgeley was dubious. "I'll go and see," he said, and entered the door.
"Boys, Mrs. Field wants to look in a minute. Go on with your fiddling,
Sam--only I wanted to see that you weren't sitting around in
dishabill."

This seemed a good joke, and they all howled and haw-hawed gleefully.

"So go right ahead with your evening prayers. All but--you understand!"

"All right, captain," said Sam, the man with the fiddle.

When Mrs. Field looked in, two men were furiously grinding axes; several
were sewing on ragged garments; all were smoking; some were dressing
chapped or bruised fingers. The atmosphere was horrible. The socks and
shirts were steaming above the huge stove; the smoke and stench for a
moment were sickening, but Ridgeley pushed them just inside the door.

"It's better out of the draught."

Sam jigged away on the violin. The men kept time with the cranks of the
grindstone, and all hands looked up with their best smile at Mrs. Field.
Most of them shrank a little from her look like shy animals.

Ridgeley threw open the window. "In the old days," he explained to Mrs.
Field, "we used a fireplace, and that kept the air better."

As her sense of smell became deadened the air seemed a little more
tolerable to Mrs. Field.

"Oh, we must change all this," she said. "It is horrible."

"Play us a tune," said Sam, extending the violin to Field. He did not
think Field could play. It was merely a shot in the dark on his part.

Field took it and looked at it and sounded it. On every side the men
turned face in eager expectancy.

"He can play, that feller."

"I'll bet he can. He handles her as if he knew her."

"You bet your life.--Tune up, Cap."

Williams came from the obscurity somewhere, and looked over the
shoulders of the men.

"Down in front," somebody called, and the men took seats on the benches,
leaving Field standing with the violin in hand. He smiled around upon
them in a frank, pleased way, quite ready to show his skill. He played
"Annie Laurie," and a storm of applause broke out.

"_Hoo_-ray! Bully for you!"

"Sam, you're out of it."

"Sam, your name is Mud."

"Give us another, Cap."

"It ain't the same fiddle."

He played again some simple tune, and he played it with the touch which
showed the skilled amateur. As he played, Mrs. Field noticed a grave
restlessness on Williams's part. He moved about uneasily. He gnawed at
his finger nails. His eyes glowed with a singular fire. His hands
drummed and fingered. At last he approached and said roughly:

"Let me take that fiddle a minute."

"Oh, cheese it, Williams!" the men cried. "Let the other man play."

"What do _you_ want to do with the fiddle--think it's a music box?"
asked Sam, its owner.

"Go to hell!" said Williams. As Field gave the violin over to him his
hands seemed to tremble with eagerness.

He raised his bow and struck into an imposing brilliant strain, and the
men fell back in astonishment.

"Well, I'll be damned!" gasped the owner of the violin.

"Keep quiet, Sam."

Mrs. Field looked at her husband. "Why, Ed, he is playing Sarasate!"

"That's what he is," he returned slangily, too much astonished to do
more than gaze. Williams played on.

There was a faint defect in the high notes, as if his fingers did not
touch the strings properly, but his bow action showed cultivation and
breadth of feeling. As he struck into one of those difficult
octave-leaping movements his face became savage. On the E string a
squeal broke forth; he flung the violin into Sam's lap with a ferocious
curse, and then extending his hands, hard, crooked to fit the axe-helve,
calloused and chapped, he said to Field:

"Look at my cursed hands. Lovely things to play with, ain't they?"

His voice trembled with passion. He turned and went outside. As he
passed Mrs. Field his head was bowed and he was uttering a groaning cry
like one suffering acute physical agony.

She went out quickly, and Field and Ridgeley followed. They were all
moved--but the men made little of it, seeing how deeply touched she
was.

"That's what drink does for a man," Ridgeley said, as they watched
Williams disappear down the swampers' trail.

"That man has been a violinist," said Field. "What's he doing up here?"

"Came up to get away from himself," Ridgeley replied.

"I'm afraid he's failed," said Field, as he put his arm about his wife
and led her to the sleigh.

The ride home was made mainly in silence. "Oh, the splendid silence!"
the woman kept saying in her heart. "Oh, the splendid moonlight, the
marvelous radiance!" Everywhere a heavenly serenity--not a footstep, not
a bell, not a cry, not a cracking tree--nothing but vivid light, white
snow dappled and lined with shadows, and trees etched against a starlit
sky. Splendor of light and sheen and shadow. Wide wastes of snow so
white the stumps stood like columns of charcoal. A night of Nature's
making when she is tired of noise and blare of color.

And in the midst of it stood the camps and the reek of obscenity, foul
odors, and tobacco smoke, to which a tortured soul must return.


IV.

The following Saturday afternoon, as Ridgeley and Field entered the
office, Williams rose to meet them. He looked different; finer some way,
Field imagined. At any rate, he was perfectly sober. He was freshly
shaven, and though his clothes were rough, he looked like a man of
education. His manner was cold and distant.

"I'd like to be paid off, Mr. Ridgeley," he said. "I guess what's left
of my pay will take me out of this."

"Where do you propose to go?" Ridgeley said kindly.

Williams must have perceived his kindliness, for he answered: "I'm going
home to my wife. I am going to try it once more."

After Williams went out Field said, "I wonder if he'll do it?"

"Oh, I shouldn't wonder. I've seen men brace up just as mysteriously as
that and stay right by their resolutions. I thought he didn't look like
a common lumber Jack when he came in."

"Oh, how happy his wife will be!" Mrs. Field cried when she heard of
Williams's resolution. "She'll save him yet."

"Well, I don't know; depends on what kind of a woman she is."



THE OWNER OF THE MILL FARM.


Beyond his necessity, a tired man is not apt to be polite. This Mrs.
Miner had generalized from long experience with her husband. She knew at
a distance, by the way he wore his hat when he came in out of the field,
whether he was in a peculiarly savage mood, or only in his usual state
of sullen indifference.

As he came in out of the barn on this spring day, he turned to look up
at the roof with a curse. Something had angered him. He did not stop to
comb his hair after washing at the pump, but came into the neat kitchen
and surlily took a seat at the table.

Mrs. Miner, a slender little woman, quite ladylike in appearance, had
the dinner all placed in steaming abundance upon the table, and the
children, sitting side by side, watched their father in silence. There
was an air of foreboding, of apprehension, over them all, as if they
feared some brutal outbreak on his part.

He placed his elbows on the table. His sleeves were rolled up,
displaying his red and much sunburned arms. He wore no coat, and his
face was sullen, and held, besides, a certain vicious quality, like that
of a bad-tempered dog.

He had not spoken to his wife directly for many weeks. For years it had
been his almost constant habit to address her through the children, by
calling her "she" or "your mother." He had done this so long that even
the little ones were startled when he said, looking straight at her:

"Say, what are you going to do about that roof?"

Mrs. Miner turned her large gray eyes upon him in sudden confusion.
"Excuse me, Tom, I didn't----"

"I said 'What you goin' t' do with that roof?'" he repeated brutally.

"What roof?" she asked timidly.

"What roof?" he repeated after her. "Why, the barn, of course! It's
leakin' and rottin' my oats. It's none o' my business," he went on, his
voice containing an undercurrent of vicious insult. "Only I thought
you'd like to know it's worse than ever. You can do as you like about
it," he said again, and there was a peculiar tone in his voice, as if,
by using that tone, he touched her upon naked nerves somewhere. "I guess
I can cover the oats up."

A stranger would not have known what it all meant, and yet there was
something in what he said that made his wife turn white. But she
answered quietly:

"I'll send word to the carpenter this forenoon. I'm sorry," she went
on, the tears coming to her eyes. She turned away and looked out of the
window, while he ate on indifferently. At last she turned with a sudden
impulse: "O Tom, why can't we be friends again? For the children's sake,
you ought to----"

"Oh, shut up!" he snarled. "Good God! Can't you let a thing rest? Suits
me well enough. I ain't complainin'. So, just shut up."

He rose with a slam and went out. The two children sat with hushed
breath. They knew him too well to cry out.

Mrs. Miner sat for a long time at the table without moving. At last she
rose and went sighfully at work. "Morty, I want you to run down to Mr.
Wilber's and ask him to come up and see me about some work." She stood
at the window and watched the boy as he stepped lightly down the road.
"How much he looks like his father, in spite of his sunny temper!" she
thought, and it was not altogether a pleasant thing to think of, though
she did not allow such a thought to take definite shape.

The young carpenter whom Wilber sent to fill Mrs. Miner's order walked
with the gay feet of youth as he passed out of the little town toward
the river. When he came to the bridge, he paused and studied the scene
with slow, delighted eyes. The water came down over its dam with a leap
of buoyant joy, as if leaping to freedom. Over the dam it lay in a quiet
pool, mirroring every bud and twig. Below, it curved away between low
banks, with bushes growing to the water's edge, where the pickerel lay.

But the young man seemed to be saddened by the view of the mill, which
had burned some years before. It seemed like the charred body of a
living thing, this heap of blackened and twisted shafts and pulleys,
lying half buried in tangles of weeds.

It appealed so strongly to young Morris that he uttered an unconscious
sigh as he walked on across the bridge and clambered the shelving road,
which was cut out of the yellow sandstone of the hillside.

The road wound up the sandy hillside and came at length to a beautiful
broad terrace of farm land that stretched back to the higher bluffs. The
house toward which the young fellow turned was painted white, and had
the dark-green blinds which transplanted New-Englanders carry with them
wherever they go.

Soldierly Lombardy poplar trees stood in the yard, and beds of flowers
lined the walk. Mrs. Miner was at work in the beds when he came up.

"Good day," he said cordially. "Glorious spring weather, isn't it?" He
smiled pleasantly. "Is this Mrs. Miner?"

"Yes, sir." She looked at him wonderingly.

"I'm one of Wilber's men," he explained. "He couldn't get away, so he
sent me up to see what needed doing."

"Oh," she said, with a relieved tone. "Very well; will you go look at
it?"

They walked, side by side, out toward the barn, which had the look of
great age in its unpainted decay. It was gray as granite and worn fuzzy
with sleet and snow. The young fellow looked around at the grass, the
dandelions, the vague and beautiful shadows flung down upon the turf by
the scant foliage of the willows and apple trees, and took off his hat,
as if in the presence of something holy. "What a lovely place!" he
said--"all but the mill down there; it seems too bad it burnt up. I hate
to see a ruin, most of all, one of a mill." She looked at him in
surprise, perceiving that he was not at all an ordinary carpenter. He
had a thoughtful face, and the workman's dress he wore could not
entirely conceal a certain delicacy of limb. His voice had a touch of
cultivation in it.

"The work I want done is on the barn," she said at length. "Do you think
it needs reshingling?"

He looked up at it critically, his head still bare. She was studying him
carefully now, and admired his handsome profile. There was something
fine and powerful in the poise of his head.

"You haven't been working for Mr. Wilber long," she said.

He turned toward her with a smile of gratification, as if he knew she
had detected something out of the ordinary in him.

"No, I'm just out of Beloit," he said, with ready confidence. "You see
that I'm one of these fellows who have to work my passage. I put in my
vacations at my trade." He looked up at the roof again, as if checking
himself. "Yes, I should think from here that it would have to be
reshingled."

She sighed resignedly, and he knew she was poor. "Well, I suppose you
had better do it."

She thought of him pleasantly, as he walked off down the road after the
lumber and tools that were necessary. And, in his turn, he wondered
whether she were a widow or not. It promised to be a pleasant job. She
was quite handsome, in a serious way, he decided--very womanly and
dignified. Perhaps this was his romance, he thought, with the ready
imagination upon this point of a youth of twenty-one.

He returned soon with a German teamster, who helped him unload his
lumber and erect his stagings. When noon came he was working away on the
roof, tearing the old shingles off with a spade.

He was a little uncertain about his dinner. It was the custom to board
carpenters when they were working on a farm, but this farm was so near
town, possibly Mrs. Miner would not think it necessary. He decided,
however, to wait till one o'clock, to be sure. At half past twelve, a
man came in out of the field with a team--a short man, with curly hair,
curly chin beard, and mustache. He walked with a little swagger, and his
legs were slightly bowed. Morris called him "a little feller," and
catalogued him by the slant on his hat.

"Say," called Morris suddenly, "won't you come up here and help me raise
my staging?"

The man looked up with a muttered curse of surprise. "Who the hell y'
take me for? Hired man?" he asked, and then, after a moment, continued,
in a tone which was an insult: "You don't want to rip off the whole
broad side of that roof. Ain't y' got any sense? Come a rain, it'll
raise hell with my hay."

"It ain't going to rain," Morris replied. He wanted to give him a sharp
reply, but concluded not to do so. This was evidently the husband. His
romance was very short.

"Tom, won't you call the man in?" asked Mrs. Miner, as her husband came
up to the kitchen door.

"No, call 'im yourself. You've got a gullet."

Mrs. Miner's face clouded a little, but she composed herself. "Morty,
run out and tell the carpenter to come to dinner."

"Boss is in a temper," Morris thought, as he listened to Miner's reply.
He came up to the well, where Morty brought him a clean towel, and
waited to show him into the kitchen.

Miner was just sitting down to the table when Morris entered. His
sleeves were rolled up. He had his old white hat on his head. He lounged
upon one elbow on the table. His whole bearing was swinish.

"What do I care?" he growled, as if in reply to some low-voiced warning
his wife had uttered. "If he don't like it, he can lump it, and if you
don't like my ways," he said, turning upon her, "all you've got to do is
to say so, and I git out."

Morris was amazed at all this. He could not persuade himself that he had
rightly understood what had been said. There was something beneath the
man's words which puzzled him and forbade his inquiry. He sat down near
the oldest child and opposite Mrs. Miner. Miner began to eat, and Morris
was speaking pleasantly to the child nearest him, when he heard an oath
and a slap. He looked up to see Miner's hat falling from Mrs. Miner's
cheek.

She had begun a silent grace, and her husband had thrown his hat in her
face. She kept her eyes upon her plate, and her lips moved as if in
prayer, though a flush of red streamed up her neck and covered her
cheek.

Morris leaped up, his eyes burning into Miner's face. "H'yere!" he
shouted, "what's all this? Did you strike her?"

"Set down!" roared Miner. "You're too fresh."

"I'll let you know how fresh I am," said the young fellow, shaking his
brawny fist in Miner's face.

Mrs. Miner rose, with a ghastly smile on her face, which was now as pale
as it had been flushed. "Please don't mind him; he's only fooling."
Morris looked at her and understood a little of her feeling as a wife
and mother. He sat down. "Well, I'll let him know the weight of my fist,
if he does anything more of that business when I'm around," he said,
looking at her, and then at her husband. "I didn't grow up in a family
where things like that go on. If you'll just say the word, I--I'll----"

"Please don't do anything," she said, and he saw that he had better not,
if he wished to shield her from further suffering. The meal proceeded in
silence. Miner apparently gloried in what he had done.

The children were trembling with fear and could scarcely go on with
their dinners. They dared not cry. Their eyes were fixed upon their
father's face, like the eyes of kittens accustomed to violence. The wife
tried to conceal her shame and indignation. She thought she succeeded
very well, but the big tears rolling down from her wide unseeing eyes,
were pitiful to witness.

Morris ate his dinner in silence, not seeing anything further to do or
say. His food choked him, and he found it necessary to drink great
draughts of water.

At last she contrived to say, "How did you find the roof?" It was a
pitiful attempt to cover the dreadful silence.

"It was almost as good as no roof at all," he replied, with the desire
to aid her. "Those shingles, I suppose, have been on there for thirty
years. I suppose those shingles must have been rived out by just such a
machine as Old Man Means used, in the 'Hoosier Schoolmaster.'" From
this, he went on to tell about some of the comical parts of the story,
and so managed to end the meal in a fairly presentable way.

"She's found another sympathizer," sneered the husband, returning to his
habit of addressing his wife in the third person.

After eating his dinner, Miner lit his pipe and swaggered out, as if he
had done an admirable thing. Morris remained at the table, talking with
the children. After Miner had passed out of earshot, he looked up at
Mrs. Miner, as if expecting her to say something in explanation of what
had occurred. But she had again forgotten him, and sat biting her lips
and looking out of the window. Her bosom heaved like that of one about
to weep. Her wide-open eyes had unutterable sorrow in their beautiful
depths.

Morris got up and went out, in order to prevent himself from weeping
too. He hammered away on the roof like mad for an hour, and wished that
every blow fell on that little villain's curly pate.

He did not see Mrs. Miner to speak to her again till the next forenoon,
when she came out to see how the work was getting on. He came down from
the roof to meet her, and they stood side by side, talking the job over
and planning other work. She spoke, at last, in a low, hesitating voice,
and without looking at him:

"You mustn't mind what Mr. Miner does. He's very peculiar, and you're
likely--that is, I mean----"

She could not finish her lie. The young man looked down on her
resolutely. "I'd like to lick him, and I'd do it for a leather cent."

She put out her hand with a gesture of dismay. "Oh, don't make trouble;
please don't!"

"I won't if you don't want me to, but that man needs a licking the worst
of any one I ever saw. Mrs. Miner," he said, after a little pause, "I
wish you'd tell me why he acts that way. Now, there must be some reason
for it. No sane man is going to do a thing like that."

She looked away, a hot flush rising upon her face. She felt a distinct
longing for sympathy. There was something very engaging in this young
man's candid manner.

"I do not know who is to blame," she said at last, as if in answer to a
question. "I've tried to be a good wife to him for the children's sake.
I've tried to be patient. I suppose if I'd made the property all over to
him, as most wives do, at first, it would have avoided all trouble." She
paused to think a moment.

"But, you see" she went on suddenly, "father never liked him at all, and
he made me promise never to let the mill or the farm go out of my hands,
and then I didn't think it necessary. It belonged to us both, just as
much as if I'd signed it over. I considered he was my partner as well as
my husband. I knew how father felt, especially about the mill, and I
couldn't go against his wish."

She had the impulse to tell it all now, and she sat down on a bunch of
shingles, as if to be able to state it better. Her eyes were turned
away, her hands pressed upon each other like timid, living things
seeking aid, and, looking at her trembling lips, the young man felt a
lump rise in his throat.

"It began all at once, you see. I mean the worst of it did. Of course,
we'd had sharp words, as all people who live together are apt to have, I
suppose, but they didn't last long. You see, everything was mine, and he
had nothing at all when he came home with me. He'd had bad luck, and
he--he never was a good business man."

The tears were on her face again. She was retrospectively approaching
that miserable time when her suffering began. The droop of her head
appealed to the young man with immense power. He had an impulse to take
her in his arms and comfort her, as if she were his sister.

She mastered herself at last, and went on in low, hesitating voice, more
touching than downright sobbing: "One day, the same summer the mill
burned, one of the horses kicked at little Morty, and I said I'd sell
it, and he said it was all nonsense; the horse wasn't to blame. And I
told him I wouldn't have a horse around that would kick. And when he
said I shouldn't sell it, I said a dreadful thing. I knew it would cut
him, but I said it. I said: 'The horse is mine; the farm is mine; I can
do what I please with my own, for all of you.'"

She fell silent here, and Morris was forced to ask, "What did he do
then?"

"He looked at me, a queer, long look that made me shiver, and then he
walked off, and he never spoke to me again directly for six months. And
from that day he almost never speaks to me except through the children.
He calls me names through them. He cuts me every time he can. He does
everything he can to hurt me. He never dresses up, and he wears his hat
in the house at all times, and rolls up his sleeves at the table, just
because he knows it makes me suffer. Sometimes I think he is crazy, and
yet----"

"Oh, no, he ain't crazy. He's devilish," Morris blurted out. "Great
guns! I'd like to lay my hands on him."

She seemed to feel that a complete statement was demanded. "I can't
invite anybody to the house, for there's no knowing what he'll do. He
may stay in the fields all day and never come in at all, or he may come
in and curse and swear at me or do something--I never can tell what he
is goin' to do."

"Haven't you any relatives here?" Morris asked.

"Yes, but I'm ashamed to let them know about it, because they all said
I'd repent; and then he's my husband, and he's the father of my
children."

"A mighty poor excuse of one I call him," said the young man with
decision.

"I tried to give him the farm, when I found it was going to make
trouble, but he wouldn't take it _then_. He won't listen to me at all.
He keeps throwing it up to me that he's earning his living, and if I
don't think he is he will go any minute. He works in the field, but
that's all. He won't advise with me at all. He says it's none of his
business. He won't do a thing around the house or garden. I tried to get
him to oversee the mill for me, but, after our trouble, he refused to do
anything about it. I hired a man to run it, but it didn't pay that way,
and then it was idle for a while, and at last it got afire some way and
burned up--tramps, I suppose.

"Oh, dear!" she sighed, rising, "I don't see how it's going to end; it
must end some time. Sometimes it seems as if I couldn't stand it another
day, and then I think of my duty as a mother and wife, and I think
perhaps God intended this to be my cross."

The young fellow was silent. It was a great problem. The question of
divorce had never before been borne in upon him in this personal way. It
seemed to him a clear case. The man ought to be driven off and the woman
left in peace. He thought of the pleasure it would give her to hear the
sound of the mill again.

They stood there side by side, nearly the same age, and yet the woman's
face was already lined with suffering, and her eyes were full of shadow.
There seemed no future for her, and yet she was young.

"Please don't let him know I've said anything to you, will you?"

"I'll try not to," he said, but he did not consider himself bound to any
definite concealment.

They ate dinner together without Miner, who had a fit of work on hand
which made him stubbornly unmindful of any call to eat. Moreover, he was
sure it would worry his wife.

The meal was a pleasant one on the whole, and they found many things in
common to talk about. Morris wanted to ask her a few more questions
about her life, but she begged him not to do so, and started him off on
the story of his college life. He was an enthusiastic talker and told
her his plans with boyish frankness. He forgot his fatigue, and she lost
for a time her premature cares and despairs. They were laughing together
over some of his college pranks when Miner came in at the door.

"Oh, I see!" he said, with an insulting, insinuating inflection. "Now I
understand the early dinner."

Morris sprang up and, walking over to the sneering husband, glared down
at him with a look of ferocity that sat singularly upon his round, fresh
face. "Now you _shut up_! If you open your mouth to me again I'll lick
you till your hide won't hold pumpkins!"

Miner shrank back, turned on his heel, and went off to the barn. He did
not return for his dinner.

Morris insisted on helping Mrs. Miner clear up the yard and uncover the
grapevine. He liked her very much. She appealed to the protector in him,
and she interested him besides, because of the melancholy which was
lined on her delicate face, and voiced in her low, soft utterances.

He appealed to her, because of his delicacy as well as strength. He had
something of the modern man's love for flowers, and did not attempt to
conceal his delight in thus tinkering about at woman's work. He ate
supper with her and worked on until it was quite dark, tired as he was,
and then shook hands and said "Good night."

Morris came back to his work the next day with a great deal of pleasure.
He had spent considerable thought upon the matter. He had almost
determined on a course of action. He had thought of going directly to
Miner and saying:

"Now look here, Miner, if you was _half_ a man, you'd pull out and leave
this woman in peace. How you can stand around here and occupy the
position you do, I don't see."

But when he remembered Mrs. Miner's words about the children, another
consideration came in. Suppose he should take the children with
him--that was the point; that was the uncertain part of the problem. It
did not require any thought to remember that the law took very little
consideration of the woman's feelings. He said to himself that if he
ever became judge, he would certainly give decisions that would send
such a man as Miner simply whirling out into space.

Miner was in the barn when Morris clambered up the ladder with a bunch
of shingles on his shoulder, about seven o'clock. He came out and said:

"Say, you want to fix that window up there."

"Get away from there!" shouted Morris, in uncontrollable rage, "or I'll
smash this bunch of shingles on your cursed head. Don't you open that
ugly p'tater trap at me, you bow-legged little skunk! I'm goin' to lick
you like a sock before I'm done with you."

He would have done so then had he been on the ground, but he disdained
taking the trouble to climb down. He planned to catch him when he came
up to dinner. The more he thought of it the more his indignation waxed.
As he grew to hate the man more, he began to entertain the suspicions,
which Wilber confessed to in confidence, concerning the burning of the
mill.

They had a cheerful meal together again, for Miner did not come in until
one o'clock. During the nooning Morris finished spading the flower
beds, in spite of Mrs. Miner's entreaties that he should rest. It gave
him great pleasure to work there with her and the children.

"You see, I'm lonesome here," he explained. "Just out of school, and I
miss the boys and girls. I don't know anybody except a few of the
carpenters here, and so--well, I kind of like it. I always helped around
the house at home. It's all fun for me, so don't you say a word. I've
got lots o' muscle to spare, and you're welcome to it."

He spaded away without many words. The warm sun shone down upon them
all, and they made a pretty group. Mrs. Miner, rake in hand, was
pulverizing the beds as fast as he spaded, her face flushed and almost
happy. The children were wrist-deep in the fresh earth, planting twigs
and pebbles, their babble of talk some way akin to the cry of the
woodpecker, the laugh of the robin, the twitter of the sparrow, the
smell of spring, and the merry downpour of sunshine.

Mrs. Miner was silent. She was thinking how different her life would
have been if her husband had only taken an interest in her affairs. She
did not think of any one else as her husband, but only Miner in a
different mood.

Morris went back to work. As the work neared the end, his determination
to punish the scoundrel husband grew. His inclination to charge him with
burning the mill grew stronger. He wondered if it wouldn't serve as a
club. "Now, sir," he said, meeting Miner as he came out of the barn that
night, "I'm done on the barn, but I'm not done on you. I'm goin' to
whale you till you won't know yourself. I ought 'o 'a done it that first
day at dinner." He advanced upon Miner, who backed away, scared at
something he saw in the young man's eyes and something he heard in his
inflexible tone of voice.

He thrust out his palm in a wild gesture. "Keep away from me! I'll split
your heart if you touch me!"

Morris advanced another step, his eyes looking straight into Miner's
with the level look of a tiger's. "No, y' won't! You're too much of an
infernal, sneaky little _whelp_!"

At the word whelp, he cuffed him with his hammerlike fist, and Miner
went down in a heap. He was so abject that the young man could only
strike him with his open hand.

He took him by the shirt collar with his left hand and began to cuff him
leisurely and terribly with his right. His blows punctuated his
sentences. "You're a little [whack] villain. I'll thrash you till you
won't see out of your blasted eyes for a month! I can't stand a man
[here he jounced him up and down with his left hand, apparently with
infinite satisfaction] who bullies his wife and children as you do [here
he cuffed him again], and I'll make it my business to even things
up----"

The prostrate man began to scream for help. He was livid with fear. He
fancied murder in the blaze of his assailant's eye.

"Help! help! Minnie!"

"Call her by her first name now, will yeh? will yeh? Call her out to
help yeh! Do you think she will? I want to tell you, besides, I know
something about that mill burning. It's just like your contemptible
mustard-seed of a soul to burn that mill!"

Mrs. Miner came flying out. She could not recognize her husband in the
bleeding, dirty, abject thing squirming under the young man's knee.

"Why, Mr. Morris, who--why--why, it's Tom!" she gasped, her eyes
distended with surprise and horror.

Morris looked up at her coolly. "Yes, it's Tom." He then gave his
attention to the writhing figure under him. "Crawl, you infernal whelp!
Lick the dust, confound you! Quick!" he commanded, growing each moment
more savage.

Mrs. Miner clung to his arm. "Please don't," she pleaded. "You're
killing him."

Morris did not look up. "Oh, no, I ain't. I'm giving him a little taste
of his own medicine." He flopped Miner over on his face and dragged him
around in the dust like an old sack. "Beg her pardon, or I'll thrash the
ground with yeh!"

"Please don't," pleaded the wife, using her whole strength to stop him
in his circuit with the almost insensible Miner.

"Beg!" he said again, "beg, or I'll cave your backbone in." There was a
terrible upward inflection in his voice now, a half-jocular tone that
was more terrible than the muffled snarl in which he had previously been
speaking.

"I beg! I beg!" cried Miner.

Morris released him, and he crawled to a sitting posture. Mrs. Miner
fell on her knees by his side, and began wiping the blood from his face.
She was breathless with sobbing and the children were screaming. The
tears streamed down her face, which was white and drawn into ghastly
wrinkles.

"You've killed him!" she gasped.

Morris put his hands in his pockets and looked down on them both, with a
curious feeling of having done something which he might repent of. He
felt in a way cut off from the satisfactory ending of the thing he had
planned.

"Oh, you've killed him!"

"Oh, no, I haven't. He's all right." He looked at them a moment longer
to see if there were any rage remaining in the face of the husband, and
then at the wife to discover her feeling concerning his action. Then he
looked back at the husband again, and apparently justified himself for
what he had done by the memory of the ineffable shame to which the wife
had been subjected.

"Now, if I hear another word of your abuse," he said, as he shook the
dust from his own clothes and prepared to go, "I'll give you another
that will make you think that this is all fooling. More than that," he
said, turning again, "I know something that will put you where the crows
won't eat you!--If I can be of any service to you, Mrs. Miner, at any
time while I'm here, I hope you'll let me know. Good-by."

Mrs. Miner did not reply, and when Morris reached the gate and looked
back she was still kneeling by the side of her husband, the sunlight
shining down upon her graceful head. Some way the problem had increased
in complexity. He felt a disgust of her weakness, mingled with a feeling
that he was losing something very fine and tender which had but just
come into his life.

He went back to his work on the other side of the river, where his crew
was working. He was called home a few weeks later, and he never saw
husband or wife again. He learned from Wilber, however, in a short
letter that things were going much the same as ever.

"Dear Sir: I don't know much about Miner. Hees purty quiet I guess.
Dock Moss thinks hees a little off his nut. I don't. I think its pur
cussidness."



OF THOSE WHO SEEK.

I. THE PRISONED SOUL.


The Capitol swarmed with people.

Groups of legislators tramped noisily along the corridors, laughing
loudly, gesticulating with pointed fingers or closed fists.

Squads of ragged, wondering, and wistful-eyed negroes, splashed with
orange-colored mud from the fields, moved timidly on from magnificence
to magnificence, keeping close to each other, solemn and silent. When
they spoke they whispered. Others from the city streets laughed loudly
and swaggered along to show their contempt for the place and their
knowledge of its public character; but their insolence was half assumed.

Lean and lank Southerners, with the imperial cut on their pale, brown
whiskers, alternated with stalwart, slouch-hatted Westerners.
Clean-shaven, pale clerks hurried to and fro; groups of sightseers
infested every nook, and wore the look of those determined to see it
all. They were accompanied often by one whose certainty of accent gave
evidence of his fitness to be their guide. The sound of his voice
proclaimed his judgments as he pushed his dazed wordless victims about.

In a group in the center of the checkered marble floor of the rotunda, a
powerful Indian, dressed in semi-civilized fashion, was standing,
looking wonderingly down into the upturned face of a little girl. The
circle of bystanders silently studied both man and maid.

She was about eleven years of age and was tastefully dressed, and seemed
a healthy child. Her face was solemn, sweet, and inquisitive. She held
one half-opened hand in the air; with the other she touched the Indian's
dark, strongly molded cheek, and pressed his long hair which streamed
from beneath his broad white hat.

No one smiled. She was deaf and dumb and blind.

In her raised rosy little palm, with lightning-swift motion, fluttered
the hand of her teacher. By the teacher's side stood an Indian
interpreter, dressed in hunting shirt and broad hat.

"I am Umatilla," said the chief, in answer to a question from the
teacher. His deep voice was like the mutter of a lion; he stood with
gentle dignity still looking wonderingly down into the girl's sweet,
solemn, and eager face.

A bystander said, "Poor child!" in a low, tremulous tone, followed by a
sigh.

The little one's hand, light, swift, and seeking, touched the Indian's
ringed ears and pressed again his long hair, while her teacher's swift
fingers said, "This strange man comes from a far-off land, from vast
mountains and forests away toward the western sea. The wind and sun have
made his face dark, and the long hair is a protection from the cold. He
is a chief."

Under her broad hat the child's exquisite mouth, with its dimpled
corners, remained calm but touchingly wistful. Her eyes were in shadow.
Her chin was a perfect oval, delicately beautiful, like the curving
lines of a peach, with the clear transparency of color of a flower's
chalice.

But the bystander said again, "Poor child!" as if a shudder of awe, of
wordless compassion and bitterness, shook him.

She was so beautiful, so gifted in spirit, to be thus shut in! Her
inclosing flesh was so fine and sweet, it seemed impossible it could be
an impassable, almost impenetrable wall.

He thought: She will soon be a woman, with all the vague, unutterable
longings and passions of the woman. Her lithe body will be as beautiful
as her soul, and the warm oval of her face will flash and flame with her
expanding, struggling life. Her caged soul will struggle for light and
companionship, blindly, vainly.

Life to her must remain a cruel fragment. Light and color she may not
miss; but wifehood, maternity, the touch of baby lips to her
breast--these her soul will grope for in dumb maternal desire. She must
inhabit her dark and soundless cavern alone.

Again she touched the chieftain's hair and earrings, and let her hand
drop down along his sleeve to his hard, brown hand. Then her hand fell
to her side with a resigned action.

As she walked away, a sweet smile of pleasure and gratitude flashed for
an instant across the exquisite curving line of her lips, and then the
sad and wistful repose of her face came back again as if her loneliness
had only been lightened, not warmed.

The young man drew a long breath of pain keen as a physical hurt. The
elderly gentleman said again, "Poor child!"

The Indian looked up again into the mighty dome soaring hundreds of feet
above him, and wondered how those forms came to be set flying in
mid-air, and his heart grew sad and wistful too, as if a realization of
the power and majesty of the white man fell like a poisonous, fateful
shadow over his people and himself.


II. A SHELTERED ONE.

The young man came in out of the cold dash of rain. The negro man
received his outside garments and ushered him into the drawing-room,
where a bright fire welcomed him like a smiling hostess.

He sat down with a sudden relaxation of his muscles. As he waited at his
ease, his senses absorbed the light and warmth and beauty of the house.
It was familiar and yet it had a new meaning to him. A bird was singing
somewhere in the upper chambers, caroling with a joyous note that seemed
to harmonize with the warmth and color of the room in which the caller
sat.

The young man stared at the fire, his head leaning on his hand. There
were lines of gloomy thought in his face. There were marks of bitter
struggle on his hands. His dress was strong and good, but not in the
mode. He looked like a young lawyer, with his lean, dark face, smoothly
shaven save for a little tuft on either cheek. His long hands were
heavy-jointed with toil.

He listened to the bird singing and to the answering, chirping call of a
girl's voice. His head drooped forward in deep reverie.

How beautiful her life is! his thought was. How absolutely without care
or struggle! She knows no uncertainty such as I feel daily, hourly. She
has never a doubt of daily food; the question of clothes has been a
diversion for her, a worry of choice merely. Dirt, grime, she knows
nothing of. Here she lives, sheltered in a glow of comfort and color,
while I hang by my finger-ends over a bottomless pit. She sleeps and
dreams while I fight. She is never weary, while I sink into my bed each
night as if it were my grave. Every hand held out to her is a willing
hand--if it is paid for, it is willing, for she has no enemies even
among her servants. O God! If I could only reach such a place to rest
for just a year--for just a month! But such security, such rest is out
of my reach. I must toil and toil, and when at last I reach a place to
pause and rest, I shall be old and brutalized and deadened, and my rest
will be merely--sleep.

He looked once more about the lovely room. The ocean wind tore at the
windows with wolfish claws, savage to enter.

"The world howling out there is as impotent to do her harm as is that
wind at the window," the young man added.

The bird's song again joined itself to the gay voice of the girl, and
then he heard quick footsteps on the stairs, and as he rose to greet her
the room seemed to glow like the heart of a ruby.

They clasped hands and looked into each other's eyes a moment. He saw
love and admiration in her face. She saw only friendliness and some
dark, unsmiling mood in his.

They sat down and talked upon the fringe of personalities which he
avoided. She fancied that she saw a personal sorrow in his face and she
longed to comfort him. She longed to touch his vexed forehead with her
fingers.

They talked on, of late books and coming music. He noticed how clear and
sweet and intelligent were her eyes. Refinement was in the folds of her
dress and in the faint perfume which exhaled from her drapery. The firm
flesh of her arms appealed to him like the limbs of a child so beautiful
and tender!

He saw in her face something wistful, restless. He tried to ignore it,
to seem unconscious of the adoration he saw there, for it pained him. It
affected him as a part of the general misdirection of affection and
effort in the world.

She asked him about his plans. He told her of them. He grew stern and
savage as he outlined the work which he had set himself to do. His hands
spread and clutched, and his teeth set together involuntarily. "It is to
be a fight," he said; "but I shall win. Bribery, blackmail, the press,
and all other forces are against me, but I shall win."

He rose at length to a finer mood as he sketched the plan which he hoped
to set in action.

She looked at him with expanding eyes and quickened breath. A globed
light each soft eye seemed to him.

He spoke more freely of the struggle outside in order to make her feel
her own sweet security--here where the grime of trade and the reek of
politics never came.

At last he rose to go, smiling a little as if in apology for his dark
mood. He looked down at her slender body robed so daintily in gray and
white; she made him feel coarse and rough.

Her eyes appealed to him, her glance was like a detaining hand. He felt
it, and yet he said abruptly:

"Good night."

"You'll come to see me again!"

"Yes," he answered very simply and gravely.

And she, looking after him as he went down the street with head bent in
thought, grew weak with a terrible weakness, a sort of hunger, and deep
in her heart she cried out:

"Oh, the brave, splendid life _he_ leads out there in the world! Oh, the
big, brave world!"

She clinched her pink hand.

"Oh, this terrible, humdrum woman's life! It kills me, it smothers me. I
must do something. I must be something. I can't live here in this
way--useless. I must get into the world."

And looking around the cushioned, glowing, beautiful room, she thought
bitterly:

"This is being a woman. O God, I want to be free of four walls! I want
to struggle like that."

And then she sat down before the fire and whispered very softly, "I want
to fight in the world--with him."


III. A FAIR EXILE.

The train was ambling across the hot, russet plain. The wind, strong and
warm and dry, sweeping up from the south, carried with it the subtle
odor of September grass and gathered harvests. Out of the unfenced roads
the dust arose in long lines like smoke from some hidden burning which
the riven earth revealed. The fields were tenanted with thrashing crews,
the men diminished by distance to pygmies, the long belt of the engine
flapping and shining like a ribbon in the flaming sunlight.

The freight cars on the accommodation train jostled and rocked about and
heaved up laterally, till they resembled a long line of awkward,
frightened, galloping buffaloes. The one coach was scantily filled with
passengers, mainly poorly clothed farmers and their families.

A young man seated well back in the coach was looking dreamily out of
the window, and the conductor, a keen-eyed young fellow, after passing
him several times, said in a friendly way:

"Going up to Boomtown, I imagine."

"Yes--if we ever get there."

"Oh, we'll get there. We won't have much more switching. We've only got
an empty car or two to throw in at the junction."

"Well, I'm glad of that. I'm a little impatient because I've got a case
coming up in court, and I'm not exactly fixed for it."

"Your name is Allen, I believe."

"Yes, J. H. Allen, of Sioux City."

"I thought so. I've heard you speak."

The young lawyer was a tall, slender, dark-eyed man, rather somber in
appearance. He did not respond to the invitation in the conductor's
voice.

"When do you reach the junction?"

"Next stop. We're only a few minutes late. Expect to meet friends
there?"

"No; thought I'd get a lunch, that's all."

At the junction the car became pretty well filled with people. Two or
three Norwegian families came clattering in, the mothers clothed in
heavy shawls and cheap straw hats, the flaxen-haired children in faded
cottonade and blue denims. They filled nearly half the seats. Several
drummers came in, laughing loudly, bearing heavy valises. Then Allen
heard above the noise the shrill but sweet voice of a girl, and caught
the odor of violets as two persons passed him and took a seat just
before him.

The man he knew by sight and reputation as a very brilliant young
lawyer, Edward Benson, of Heron Lake. The girl he knew instantly to be
utterly alien to this land and people. She was like a tropic bird seen
amid the scant foliage of northern hills. There was evidence of great
care and taste in every fold of her modish dress. Her hat was simple but
in the latest city fashion, and her gloves were spotless. She gave off
an odor of cleanliness and beauty.

She was very young and slender. Her face was piquant but not
intellectual, and scarcely beautiful. It pleased rather by its life and
motion and oddity than by its beauty. She looked at her companion in a
peculiar way--trustfully almost reverently--and yet with a touch of
coquetry which seemed perfectly native to every turn of her body or
glance of her eyes.

The young lawyer was a fine Western type of self-made man. He was tall
and broad-shouldered, but walked a little stooping, like a man of fifty.
He wore a long Prince Albert frock coat hanging loosely from his rather
square shoulders. His white vest was a little soiled by his watch chain
and his tie was disarranged.

His face was very fine and good. His eyes were gray-blue, deep and quiet
but slightly smiling, as were his lips, which his golden-brown mustache
shaded but did not hide. He was kept smiling in this quizzical way by
the nervous chatter of the girl beside him. His profile, which was the
view Allen had of him, was handsome. The strong, straight nose and
abrupt forehead formed a marked contrast to the rather characterless
nose and retreating forehead of the girl.

The first words that Allen distinguished out of the merry war in which
they seemed engaged were spoken in the tone of pretty petulance such
women use, a coquette's defense.

"You did, you did, you _did_. _Now!_ You know you did. You told me that.
You told me you despised girls like me."

"I said I despised women who had no object in life but dress," he
replied, rather soberly.

"But you were hopping on me; you meant me, now! You can't deny it. You
despise me, I know you do!" She challenged his flattery in her pouting
self-depreciation.

The young man tried to stop her in her course, to change her mood, which
was descending to real feeling. His low words could not be heard.

"Yes, yes, try to smooth it over, but you can't fool me any more. But I
don't want you to flatter me and lie to me the way Judge Stearns did,"
she said, with a sudden change of manner. "I like you because you're
square."

The phrase with which she ended seemed to take on a new meaning uttered
by those red lips in childish pout.

"Now, why are you down on the judge? I don't see," said the man, as if
she had gone back to an old attack.

"Well, if you'd seen what I have you'd understand." She turned away and
looked out of the window. "Oh, this terrible country! I'd die out here
in six weeks. I know I should."

The young lawyer was not to be turned aside.

"Of course I'm pleased to have you throw the judge over, and employ me,
but, all the same, I think you do him an injustice. He's a good, square
man."

"Square man!" she said, turning to him with a sudden fury in her eyes.
"Do you call it square for a man--married, and gray-haired, too--to take
up with a woman like Mrs. Shellberg? Say, do you, now?"

"Well, I don't quite believe----"

"Oh, I _lie_, do I?" she said, with another swift change to reproach.
"You can't take my word for Mrs. Shellberg's visit to his office."

"But he was her lawyer."

"But you know what kind of a woman she is! She didn't need to go there
every day or two, did she? What did he always receive her in his private
office for? Come, now, tell me that."

"I don't know that he did," persisted the lawyer.

A sort of convulsion passed over her face, her little hands clinched,
and the tears started into her eyes. Her voice was very quiet.

"You think I lie, then?"

"I think you are mistaken, just as other jealous women have----"

"You think I'm jealous, do you?"

"You act like a jeal----"

"Jealous of that gray-haired old wretch? No, sir! I--I--" She struggled
to express herself. "I liked him, and I hated to lose all my faith in
men. I thought he was good and honest when he prayed--Oh, I've seen him
pray in church, the old hypocrite!" her fury returned at the
recollection.

Her companion's face grew grave. The smile went out of his eyes, leaving
them dark and sorrowful.

"I understand you now," he said, at last. She turned to look at him. "My
practice in the divorce business out here has almost destroyed my faith
in women. If it weren't for my wife and sister----"

She broke in eagerly: "Now I _know_ you know what I mean. Sometimes I
think men are--devils." She thrust this word forth, and her little face
grew dark and strained. "But the judge kept me from thinking--I never
loved my father; he didn't care for me; all he wanted to do was to make
ten thousand barrels of beer a year and sell it; and the judge seemed
like a father to me till _she_ came and destroyed my faith in him."

"But--well, let Mrs. S. go. There are lots of good men and pure women in
the world. It's dangerous to think there aren't--especially for a
handsome young woman like you. You can't afford to keep in that kind of
a mood long."

She looked at him curiously. "That's what I like about you," she said
soberly. "You talk to me as if I had some sense--as if I was a human
being. If you were to flatter me, now, and make love to me, I never
would believe in any man again."

He smiled again in his frank, good way, and drew a picture from his
pocket. It was a picture of a woman bending down over a laughing, naked
child, sprawling frogwise in her lap. The woman's face was broad and
intellectual and handsome. The look of splendid maternity was in her
eyes. They both looked at the picture in silence. The girl sighed.

"I wish I was as good as that woman looks."

"You can be if you try."

"Not with a big Chicago brewer for a father and a husband that beats you
whenever the mood takes him."

"I admit that's hard. I think the atmosphere of that Heron Lake hotel
isn't any great help to you."

"Oh, they're a gay lot there! We fight like cats and dogs." A look of
slyness and boldness came over her face. "Mrs. Shellberg hates me as
hard as I do her. She used to go around telling, 'It's very peculiar,
you know'"--she imitated her rival's voice--"'but no matter which end of
the dining room I sit, all the men look that way!'"

The young lawyer laughed at her in spite of himself.

"But they don't, now. That's the reason she hates me," she said, in
conclusion. "The men don't notice her when I'm around."

To hear her fresh young lips utter those words with their vile
inflections was like taking a sudden glimpse into the underworld where
harlots dwell and the spirits of unrestrained lusts dance in the shadowy
recesses of the human heart.

Allen, hearing this fragmentary conversation, fascinated yet uneasy,
looked at the pair with wonder. They seemed unconscious of their public
situation.

The young lawyer looked straight before him while the girl, swept on by
her ignoble rage, displayed still more of the moral ulceration which had
been injected into her young life.

"I don't see what men find about her to like--unless it is her eyes.
She's got beautiful eyes. But she's vulgar--ugh! The stories she
tells--right before men, too! She'd kill any one that got ahead of her,
that woman would! And yet she'll come into my room and cry and cry and
say: 'Don't take him away from me! Leave him to me.' Ugh! It makes me
sick." She stamped her foot, then added, irrelevantly: "She wears a wig,
too. I suppose that old fool of a judge thinks it's her own hair."

The lawyer sat in stony silence. His grave face was accusing in its set
expression, and she felt it and was spurred on to do still deeper
injustice to herself--an insane perversity.

"Not that I care a cent--I'm not jealous of her. I ain't so bad off for
company as she is. She can't take anybody away from me, but she must go
and break down my faith in the judge."

She bit her lips to keep from crying out. She looked out of the window
again, seeking control.

The "divorce colony" never appeared more sickening in its inner
corruptions than when delineated by this dainty young girl. Allen could
see the swarming men about the hotels; he could see their hot, leering
eyes and smell their liquor-laden breaths as they named the latest
addition to the colony or boasted of their associations with those
already well known.

The girl turned suddenly to her companion.

"How do those people live out here on their farms?"

She pointed at a small shanty where the whole family stood to watch the
train go by.

"By eating boiled potatoes and salt pork."

"Salt pork!" she echoed, as if salt pork were old boot-heels or bark or
hay. "Why, it takes four hours for salt pork to digest!"

He laughed again at her childish irrelevancy. "So much the better for
the poor. Where'd you learn all that, anyway?"

"At school. Oh, you needn't look so incredulous! I went to boarding
school. I learned a good deal more than you think."

"Well, so I see. Now, I should have said pork digested in three hours,
speaking from experience."

"Well, it don't. What do the women do out here?"

"They work like the men, only more so."

"Do they have any new things?"

"Not very often, I'm afraid."

She sighed. After a pause she said:

"You were raised on a farm?"

"Yes. In Minnesota."

"Did you do work like that?" She pointed at a thrashing machine in the
field.

"Yes, I plowed and sowed and reaped and mowed. I wasn't on the farm for
my health."

"You're very strong, aren't you?" she asked admiringly.

"In a slab-sided kind of a way--yes."

Her eyes grew abstracted.

"I like strong men. Ollie was a little man, not any taller than I am,
but when he was drunk he was what men call a--a--holy terror. He struck
me with the water pitcher once--that was just before baby was born. I
wish he'd killed me." She ended in a sudden reaction to hopeless
bitterness. "It would have saved me all these months of life in this
terrible country."

"It might have saved you from more than you think," he said quietly,
tenderly.

"What do you mean?"

"You've been brought up against women and men who have defiled you.
They've made your future uncertain."

"Do you think it's so bad as that? Tell me!" she insisted, seeing his
hesitation.

"You're on the road to hell!" he said, in a voice that was very low, but
it reached her. It was full of pain and grave reprimand and gentleness.
"You've been poisoned. You're in need of a good man's help. You need the
companionship of good, earnest women instead of painted harlots."

Her voice shook painfully as she replied:

"You don't think I'm _all_ bad?"

"You're not bad at all--you're simply reckless. _You_ are not to blame.
It depends upon yourself now, though, whether you keep a true woman or
go to hell with Mrs. Shellberg."

The conductor eyed them as he passed, with an unpleasant light in his
eyes, and the drummers a few seats ahead turned to look at them. The tip
had passed along from lip to lip. They were like wild beasts roused by
the presence of prey. Their eyes gleamed with relentless lust. They eyed
the little creature with ravening eyes. Her helplessness was their
opportunity.

Allen, sitting there, saw the terror and tragedy of the girl's life. Her
reckless, prodigal girlhood; the coarse, rich father; the marriage, when
a thoughtless girl, with a drunken, dissolute boy; the quarrels, brutal
beatings; the haste to secure a divorce; the contamination of the
crowded hotels in Heron Lake--and this slender young girl, naturally
pure, alert, quick of impulse--she was like a lamb among lustful wolves.
His heart ached for her.

The deep, slow voice of the lawyer sounded on. His eyes turned toward
her had no equivocal look. He was a brother speaking to a younger
sister. The tears fell down her cheeks, upon her folded hands. Her
widely opened eyes seemed to look out into a night of storms.

"Oh, what shall I do?" she moaned. "I wish I was dead--and baby too!"

"Live for the baby--let him help you out."

"Oh, he can't! I don't care enough for him. I wish I was like other
mothers; but I'm not. I can't shut myself up with a baby. I'm too
young."

He saw that. She was seeking the love of a man, not the care of a child.
She had the wifely passion, but not the mother's love. He was silent;
the case baffled him.

"Oh, I wish you could help me. I wish I had you all the time. I do! I
don't care what you think, _I do, I do!_"

"Our home is open to you and baby, too," he said slowly. "My wife knows
about you, and----"

"Who told her--did you?" she flashed out again, angrily, jealously.

"Yes. My wife is my other self," he replied quietly.

She stared at him, breathing heavily, then looked out of the window
again. At last she turned to him. She seemed to refer to his invitation.

"Oh, this terrible land! Oh, I couldn't stay here. I'd go insane.
Perhaps I'm going insane anyway. Don't you think so?"

"No, I think you're a little nervous, that's all."

"Oh! Do you think I'll get my divorce?"

"Certainly, without question."

"Can I wait and go back with you?"

"I shall not return for several days. Perhaps you couldn't bear the wait
in this little town; it's not much like the city."

"Oh, dear! But I can't go about alone. I hate these men, they stare at
me so! I wish I was a man. It's awful to be a woman, don't you think so?
Please don't laugh."

The young lawyer was far from laughing, but this was her only way of
defending herself. These pert, birdlike ways formed her shield against
ridicule and misprision.

He said slowly, "Yes, it's an awful thing to be a woman, but it's an
awful responsibility to be a man."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that we are responsible as the dominant sex for every tragic,
incomplete woman's life."

"Don't you blame Mrs. Shellberg?" she said, forcing him to a concrete
example with savage swiftness.

"No. She had a poor father and a poor husband, and she must earn her own
living some way."

"She could cook, or nurse, or something like that."

"It isn't easy to find opportunity to cook or nurse. If it were as easy
to earn a living in a pure way as it is in a vicious way all men would
be rich and virtuous. But what had you planned to do after your
divorce?"

"Oh, I'm going to travel for two years. Then I'll try to settle down."

"What you need is a good husband and a little cottage where you'd have
to cook your own food--and tend the baby."

"I wouldn't cook for any man living," she broke in, to express her
bitterness that he could so coldly dispose of her future. "Oh, this
terrible train! Can't it go faster? If I'd realized what a trip this
was, I wouldn't have started."

"This is the route you all go," he replied with grim humor, and his
words pictured a ceaseless stream of divorcées.

She resented his classing her with the rest, but she simply said: "You
despise me, don't you? But what can we do? You can't expect us to live
with men we hate, can you? That would be worse than Mrs. Shellberg."

"No, I don't expect that of you. I'd issue a divorce coupon with every
marriage certificate, and done with it," he said, in desperate disgust.
"Then this whole cursed business would be done away with. It isn't a
question of our laxity of divorce laws," he said, after a pause, "it's a
question of the senseless severity of the laws in other States. That's
what throws this demoralizing business into our hands here."

"It pays, don't it? I know I've paid for everything I've had."

"Yes, that's the demoralizing thing. It draws a gang of conscienceless
attorneys here, and it draws us who belong here off into dirty work, and
it brings us into contact with men and women--I'm sick of the whole
business."

She had hardly followed him in his generalizations. She brought him back
to the personal.

"You're sick of me, I know you are!" She leaned her head on the window
pane. Her eyes closed. "Oh, I wish my heart would stop beating!" she
said, in a low tone.

Allen, sitting so close behind them, was forced to hear her, so
piercingly sweet was her voice. He trembled for fear some one else might
hear her. It seemed like profanation that any one but the woman's God
should hear this outcry of a quivering, writhing soul.

She faced her companion again. "You're the only man I know, now, that I
respect, and you despise me."

"No, I don't; I pity you."

"That's worse. I want you to help me. Oh, if you could go with me, or if
I could be with you!" Her gloved hands strained together in the agony of
her desire.

His calm lips did not waver. He did not smile even about the eyes. He
knew her cry sprang from her need of a brother, not from the passion of
a woman.

"Our home is yours, just as long as you can bear the monotony of our
simple lives," he said, in his quiet way, but it was deep-throated and
unmistakable in its sincerity.

She laid her hand on his arm and clasped it hard, then turned away her
head, and they rode in silence.

After they left the car, Allen sat with savage eyes and grimly set
mouth, going over the problem again and again. He saw that young and
helpless creature walking the gantlet between endless ranks of lustful,
remorseless men, snatching at her in selfish, bestial desire.

It made him bitter and despairing to think that women should be
helpless--that they should need some man to protect them against some
other man. He cursed the laws and traditions that had kept women
subordinate and trivial and deceptive and vacillating. He wished they
could be raised to the level of the brutes till, like the tigress or
she-wolf, they could not only defend themselves, but their young.

He tried to breathe a sigh of relief that she had gone out of his life
but--he could not. It was not so easy to shake off the shadow of his
responsibility. He followed her on her downward path till he saw her
stretching out her hands in pitiful need to casual acquaintances--alone
and without hope; still petite, still dainty in spite of all, still with
flashes of wit, and then----

He shuddered. "O my God! Upon whom does the burden of guilt lie?"

       *       *       *       *       *

On the night of his return he sat among his romping babes debating
whether he should tell the story to his wife or not. As the little ones
grew weary, the noise of the autumn wind--the lonely, woeful, moaning
prairie wind--came to his ears and he shuddered. His wife observed it.

"What is it, Joe? Did you get a chill?"

"Oh, no. The wind sounds a little lonesome to-night, that's all." But he
took his little girl into his arms and held her close.


IV. THE PASSING STRANGER.

This was the story the mystic told:

It was about eleven o'clock of an October night. The street was one of
the worst of the city, but it was Monday--one of its quiet nights.

The saloons flared floods of feverish light upon the walk, and breathed
their terrible odors, like caverns leading downward into hell. Restless,
loitering crowds moved to and fro, with rasping, uncertain footsteps,
out of which the click of health had gone.

Policemen occasionally showed themselves menacingly, and the crowd
responded to their impact by action quickened, like a python touched
with a red-hot rod.

It was nearly time to close, and the barkeepers were beginning to betray
signs of impatience with their most drunken customers.

A dark, tall man in cloak and fez moved slowly down the street. His face
was serene but somber. In passing the window of a brilliantly lighted
drinking place he stopped and looked in.

In the small stall, near the window and behind the counter, sat three
women and two men. All had mugs of beer in their hands. The women were
all young, and one of them was handsome. They were dressed nattily,
jauntily, in modish, girlish hats, and their dainty jackets fitted
closely to their slight figures.

Their liquor had just been served, and their voices were ringing with
wild laughter. Their white teeth shone from their rouged faces with a
mirth which met no answering smile from the strange young man without.
He stood like a shadow against the pane.

The smile on the face of the youngest girl stiffened into a strange
contortion. Her eyes looked straight ahead into the eyes of the
stranger.

Her smile smoothed out. Her face paled; her eyes expanded with wonder
till they lost their insane glitter, and grew sad and soft and dark.

"What is it, Nell?" the others asked.

She did not hear them. She seemed to listen. Her eyes seemed to see
mountains--or clouds. A land like her childhood's home with the sunset
light over it. Her mug fell with a crash to the table. She rose. Her
hand silenced them, with beautiful finger raised:

"Listen! Don't you hear him? His eyes are calling me. It is Christ."

The others looked, but they saw only a tall figure moving away. He wore
a long black cloak like a priest.

"Some foreign duffer lookin' in. Let 'im look," said one of the other
girls.

"One o' them Egyptian jugglers," said another.

"What's the matter of ye, Nell? You look as if you'd seen a ghost of y'r
grandmother. Set down an' drink y'r beer."

The girl brushed her hand over her eyes. "I'm going home," she said in a
low voice from which all individuality had passed. Her face seemed
anxious, her manner hurried.

"What's the matter, Nell? My God! Look at her eyes!--I'm going with
her."

The girl put him aside with a gesture. Her look awed him.

One of the others began to laugh.

"Stop! You fool," one of the girls cried. They sat in silence as the
younger girl went out, putting aside every hand stretched out to touch
her. She walked like one in stupor--her face ghastly. The arch of her
beautiful eyebrows was like that of Ophelia in her bitterest moment.

The others watched her go in silence.

One of them drew a sigh and said: "I'm going home, too; I don't feel
well."

"I'll go with ye," one of the men said.

"Stay where you are!" said the girl sharply.

       *       *       *       *       *

Once on the street, the younger girl hurried on the way the stranger had
gone. His face seemed before her.

She could see it; she should always see it. It was the face of a young
man. A firm chin, a strong mouth with a feminine curve in it, a face
with a clear pallor that seemed foreign somehow. But the eyes--oh, the
eyes!

They were deep and brown, and filled with an infinite sadness--for her.
She felt it, and the knot of pain in the forehead, that was also for
her. Something sweet and terrible went out from his presence. A
knowledge of infinite space and infinite time and infinite compassion.

No man had ever looked at her like that. There was something divine in
the penetrating power of his eyes.

Some way she knew he was not a priest, though his cloak and turban cap
looked like it. He seemed like a scholar from some strange land--a man
above passion, a man who knew God.

His eyes accused her and pitied her, while they called her.

No smile, no shrinking of lips into a sneer--nothing but pity and
wonder, and something else----

And a voice seemed to say: "You are too good to be there. Follow me."

As she thought of him he seemed to stand on an immeasurable height
looking down at her.

She had laughed at him--O God!--she flushed hot with shame from head to
foot--but his eyes had not changed. His lips had kept their pitying
droop, and his somber eyes had burned deep into the sacred places of
her thought, where something sweet and girlish lay, unwasted and
untrampled.

"He called me. He called me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Under the trees where the moonlight threw tracing of shadows she came
upon him standing, waiting for her. She held out her hand to him like a
babe. He was taller than she thought.

He took her hands silently and she grew calm at once. All shame left
her. She forgot her city life; she remembered only the sweet, merry life
of the village where she was born. The sound of sleigh bells and song,
and the lisp of wind in the grass, and songs of birds in the maples came
to her.

His voice began softly:

"You are too good and sweet to be so devoured of beasts. In your little
Northern home they are waiting for you. To-morrow you will go back to
them."

He placed his hand, which was soft and warm and broad, over her eyes.
His voice was like velvet, soft yet elastic.

"When you wake you will hate what you have been. No power can keep you
here. You will go back to the simple life from which you should never
have departed. You will love simple things and the pleasures of your
native place."

Her face was turned upward, but her eyelids had fallen.

"When you wake you will not remember your life here. You will be a girl
again, unstained and ready to begin life without remorse and without
accusing memory. When I leave you at your door to-night, you will belong
to the kingdom of good and not to the kingdom of evil."

He dropped her hands and pointed across the park.

"Now go to that gray house. Ring the bell, and you will be housed for
the night. _Remember you are mine._ When the bell rings you will
'wake.'"

She moved away without looking back--moved mechanically like one still
in sleep.

The man watched her until the door opened and admitted her; then he
passed on into the shadow of the narrow street.

And this the listener gravely asked:

"One was chosen, the other left. Were the others less in need of
grace?"



BEFORE THE LOW GREEN DOOR.


Matilda Bent was dying; there was no doubt of that now, if there had
been before. The gruff old physician--one of the many overworked and
underpaid country doctors--shook his head and pushed by Joe Bent, her
husband, as he passed through the room which served as dining room,
sitting room, and parlor. The poor fellow slouched back to his chair by
the stove as if dazed, and before he could speak again the doctor was
gone.

Mrs. Ridings was just coming up the walk as the doctor stepped out of
the door.

"O doctor, how is she?"

"She is a dying woman, madam."

"Oh! don't say that, doctor. What's the matter?"

"Cancer."

"Then the news was true----"

"I don't know anything of the news, Mrs. Ridings, but Mrs. Bent is dying
from the effects of a cancer primarily, which she has had for
years--since her last child, which died in infancy, you remember."

"But, doctor, she never told me----"

"Neither did she tell me. But no matter now. I have done all I can for
her. If you can make death any easier for her, go and do it. You will
find some opiate powders there with directions. Keep the pain down at
all hazards. Don't let her suffer; that is useless. She is likely to
last a day or two--but if any change comes to-night, send for me."

When the good matron entered the dowdy, suffocating little room where
Matilda Bent lay gasping for breath, she was sick for a moment with
sympathetic pain. There the dying woman lay, her world narrowed to four
close walls, propped up on the pillows near the one little window. Her
eyes seemed very large and bright, and the brow, made prominent by the
sinking away of the cheeks, gave evidence that it was an uncommon woman
who lay there quietly waiting the death angel.

She smiled, and lifted her eyebrows in a ghastly way.

"O Marthy!" she breathed.

"Matildy, I didn't know you was so bad, or I'd 'a' come before. Why
didn't you let me know?" said Mrs. Ridings, kneeling by the bed and
taking the ghostly hands of the sufferer in her own warm and soft palms.
She shuddered as she kissed the thin lips.

"I think you'll soon be around agin," she added, in the customary
mockery of an attempt at cheer. The other woman started slightly,
turned her head, and gazed on her old friend long and intently. The
hollowness of her neighbor's words stung her.

"I hope not, Marthy--I'm ready to go. I want to go. I don't care to
live."

The two women communed by looking for a long time in each other's eyes,
as if to get at the very secretest desires and hopes of the heart. Tears
fell from Martha's eyes upon the cold and nerveless hands of her
friend--poor, faithful hands, hacked and knotted and worn by thirty
years of ceaseless daily toil. They lay there motionless upon the
coverlet, pathetic protest for all the world to see.

"O Matildy, I wish I could do something for you! I want to help you so.
I feel so bad that I didn't come before. Ain't they somethin'?"

"Yes, Marthy--jest set there--till I die--it won't be long," whispered
the pale lips. The sufferer, as usual, was calmer than her visitor, and
her eyes were thoughtful.

"I will! I will! But oh! must you go? Can't somethin' be done. Don't yo'
want the minister to be sent for?"

"No, I'm all ready. I ain't afraid to die. I ain't worth savin' now. O
Marthy! I never thought I'd come to this--did you? I never thought I'd
die--so early in life--and die--unsatisfied."

She lifted her head a little as she gasped out these words with an
intensity of utterance that thrilled her hearer--a powerful,
penetrating earnestness that burned like fire.

"Are you satisfied?" pursued the steady lips. "My life's a failure,
Marthy--I've known it all along--all but my children. O Marthy, what'll
become o' them? This is a hard world."

The amazed Martha could only chafe the hands, and note sorrowfully the
frightful changes in the face of her friend. The weirdly calm, slow
voice began to shake a little.

"I'm dyin', Marthy, without ever gittin' to the sunny place we
girls--used to think--we'd git to, by an' by. I've been a-gittin' deeper
'n' deeper--in the shade--till it's most dark. They ain't been no
rest--n'r hope f'r me, Marthy--none. I ain't----"

"There, there! Tillie, don't talk so--don't, dear. Try to think how
bright it'll be over there----"

"I don't know nawthin' about over there; I'm talkin' about here. I ain't
had no chance here, Marthy."

"He will heal all your care----"

"He can't wipe out my sufferin's here."

"Yes, He can, and He will. He can wipe away every tear and heal every
wound."

"No--he--can't. God himself can't wipe out what has been. O Mattie, if I
was only there!--in the past--if I was only young and purty agin! You
know how tall I was! how we used to run--O Mattie, if I was only there!
The world was all bright then--wasn't it? We didn't expect--to work all
our days. Life looked like a meadow, full of daisies and pinks, and the
nicest ones and the sweetest birds was just a little ways on--where the
sun was--it didn't look--wasn't we happy?"

"Yes, yes, dear. But you mustn't talk so much." The good woman thought
Matilda's mind was wandering. "Don't you want some med'cine? Ain't your
fever risin'?"

"But the daisies and pinks all turned to weeds," she went on, waiting a
little, "when we picked 'em. An' the sunny place--has been always behind
me, and the dark before me. Oh! if I was only there--in the sun--where
the pinks and daisies are!"

"You mustn't talk so, Mattie! Think about your children. You ain't sorry
y' had them. They've been a comfort to y'. You ain't sorry you had 'em."

"I ain't glad," was the unhesitating reply of the failing woman; and
then she went on, in growing excitement: "They'll haf to grow old jest
as I have--git bent and gray, an' die. They ain't ben much comfort to
me; the boys are like their father, and Julyie's weak. They ain't no
happiness--for such as me and them."

She paused for breath, and Mrs. Ridings, not knowing what to say, did
better than speak. She fell to stroking the poor face, and the hands
getting more restless each moment. It was as if Matilda Fletcher had
been silent so long, had borne so much without complaint, that now it
burst from her in a torrent not to be stayed. All her most secret doubts
and her sweetest hopes seemed trembling on her lips or surging in her
brain, racking her poor, emaciated frame for utterance. Now that death
was sure, she was determined to rid her bosom of its perilous stuff.
Martha was appalled.

"I used to think--that when I got married I'd be perfectly happy--but I
never have been happy sence. It was the beginning of trouble to me. I
never found things better than they looked; they was always worse. I've
gone further an' further from the sunshiny meadow, an' the birds an'
flowers---- and I'll never git back to 'em again, never!" She ended with a
sob and a low wail.

Her face was horrifying with its intensity of pathetic regret. Her
straining, wide-open eyes seemed to be seeing those sunny spots in the
meadow.

"Mattie, sometimes when I'm asleep I think I am back there ag'in--and
you girls are there--an' we're pullin' off the leaves of the wild
sunflower--'rich man, poor man, beggar man'--and I hear you all laugh
when I pull off the last leaf; an' when I come to myself--and I'm an
old, dried-up woman, dyin' unsatisfied!"

"I've felt that way a little myself, Matildy," confessed the watcher in
a scared whisper.

"I knew it, Mattie; I knew you'd know how I felt. Things have been
better for you. You ain't had to live in an old log house all your
life, an' work yourself to skin an' bone for a man you don't respect nor
like."

"Matildy Bent, take that back! Take it back, for mercy sake! Don't you
dare die thinkin' that--don't you dare!"

Bent, hearing her voice rising, came to the door, and the wife, knowing
his step, cried:

"Don't let him in! Don't! I can't bear him--keep him out; I don't want
to see him ag'in."

"Who do you mean? Not Joe?"

"Yes. Him."

Had the dying woman confessed to murder, good Martha could not have been
more shocked. She could not understand this terrible revulsion in
feeling, for she herself had been absolutely loyal to her husband
through all the trials which had come upon them.

But she met Bent at the threshold, and, closing the door, went out with
him into the summer kitchen, where the rest of the family were sitting.
A gloomy silence fell on them all after the greetings were over. The men
were smoking; all were seated in chairs tipped back against the wall.
Joe Bent, a smallish man, with a weak, good-natured face, asked in a
hoarse whisper:

"How is she, Mis' Ridings?"

"She seems quite strong, Mr. Bent. I think you had all better go to bed;
if I want you I can call you. Doctor give me directions."

"All right," responded the relieved man. "I'll sleep on the lounge in
the other room. If you want me, just rap on the door."

When, after making other arrangements, Martha went back to the bedroom,
she was startled to hear the sick woman muttering to herself, or perhaps
because she had forgotten Martha's absence.

"But the shadows on the meadow didn't stay; they passed on, and then the
sun was all the brighter on the flowers. We used to string
sweet-williams on spears of grass--don't you remember?"

Martha gave her a drink of the opiate in the glass, adjusted her on the
pillow, and threw open the window, even to the point of removing the
screen, and the gibbous moon flooded the room with light. She did not
light a lamp, for its flame would heat the room. Besides, the moonlight
was sufficient. It fell on the face of the sick woman, till she looked
like a thing of marble--all but her dark eyes.

"Does the moon hurt you, Tilly? Shall I put down the curtain?"

The woman heard with difficulty, and when the question was repeated said
slowly:

"No, I like it." After a little--"Don't you remember, Mattie 'how
beautiful the moonlight seemed? It seemed to promise happiness--and
love--but it never come for us. It makes me dream of the past now--just
as it did o' future then; an' the whip-poor-wills too----"

The night was perfectly beautiful, such a night as makes dying an
infinite sorrow. The summer was at its liberalest. Innumerable insects
of the nocturnal sort were singing in unison with the frogs in the
pools. A whip-poor-will called, and its neighbor answered it like an
echo. The leaves of the trees, glossy from the late rain, moved
musically to the light west wind, and the exquisite perfume of many
flowers came in on the breeze.

When the failing woman sank into silence, Martha leaned her elbow on the
window sill, and, gazing far into the great deeps of space, gave herself
up to unwonted musings upon the problems of human life. She sighed
deeply at times. She found herself at moments in the almost terrifying
position of a human soul in space. Not a wife, not a mother, but just a
soul facing the questions which harass philosophers. As she realized her
condition of mind she apprehended something of the thinking of the woman
on the bed. Matilda had gone beyond or far back of the wife and mother.

The hours wore on; the dying woman stirred uneasily now and then,
whispering a word or phrase which related to her girlhood--never to her
later life. Once she said:

"Mother, hold me. I'm so tired."

Martha took the thin form in her arms, and, laying her head close beside
the sunken cheek, sang, in half breath, a lullaby till the sufferer grew
quiet again.

The eastern moon passed over the house, leaving the room dark, and
still the patient watcher sat beside the bed, listening to the slow
breathing of the dying one. The cool air grew almost chill; the east
began to lighten, and with the coming light the tide of life sank in the
dying body. The head, hitherto restlessly turning, ceased to move. The
eyes grew quiet and began to soften like a sleeper's.

"How are you now, dear?" asked the watcher several times, bending over
the bed, and bathing back the straying hair.

"I'm tired--tired, mother--turn me," she murmured drowsily, with heavy
lids drooping.

Martha adjusted the pillows again, and turned the face to the wall. The
poor, tortured, restless brain slowly stopped its grinding whirl, and
the thin limbs, heavy with years of hopeless toil, straightened out in
an endless sleep.

Matilda Fletcher had found rest.



UPON IMPULSE


The seminary buildings stood not far from the low, lodgelike railway
station, and a path led through a gap in the fence across the meadow.
People were soberly converging toward its central building, as if
proceeding to church.

Among the people who alighted from the two o'clock train were Professor
Blakesly and his wife and a tall, dark man whom they called Ware.

Mrs. Blakesly was plump and pretty, plainly the mother of two or three
children and the sovereign of a modest suburban cottage. Blakesly was as
evidently a teacher; even the casual glances of the other visitors might
discover the character of these people.

Ware was not so easy to be read. His face was lean and brown, and his
squarely clipped mustache gave him a stern look. His body was well
rounded with muscle, and he walked alertly; his manner was direct and
vigorous, manifestly of the open air.

As they entered the meadow he paused and said with humorous
irresolution, "I don't know what I am out here for."

"To see the pretty girls, of course," said Mrs. Blakesly.

"They may be plain, after all," he said.

"They're always pretty at graduation time and at marriage," Blakesly
interpreted.

"Then there's the ice cream and cake," Mrs. Blakesly added.

"Where do all these people come from?" Ware asked, looking about. "It's
all farm land here."

"They are the fathers, mothers, and brothers of the seminary girls. They
come from everywhere. See the dear creatures about the door! Let's hurry
along."

"They do not interest me. I take off my hat to the beauty of the day,
however."

Ware had evidently come under protest, for he lingered in the daisied
grass which was dappled with shadows and tinkling with bobolinks and
catbirds.

A broad path led up to the central building, whose double doors were
swung wide with most hospitable intent. Ware ascended the steps behind
his friends, a bored look on his dark face.

Two rows of flushed, excited girls with two teachers at their head stood
flanking the doorway to receive the visitors, who streamed steadily into
the wide, cool hall.

Mrs. Blakesly took Ware in hand. "Mr. Ware, this is Miss Powell. Miss
Powell, this is Mr. Jenkin Ware, lawyer and friend to the Blakeslys."

"I'm very glad to see you," said a cool voice, in which gladness was
entirely absent.

Ware turned to shake hands mechanically, but something in the steady
eyes and clasp of the hand held out turned his listless manner into
surprise and confusion. He stared at her without speaking, only for a
second, and yet so long she colored and withdrew her hand sharply.

"I beg your pardon, I didn't get the name."

"Miss Powell," answered Mrs. Blakesly, who had certainly missed this
little comedy, which would have been so delicious to her.

Ware moved on, shaking hands with the other teachers and bowing to the
girls. He seized an early moment to turn and look back at Miss Powell.
His listless indifference was gone. She was a fine figure of a woman--a
strong, lithe figure, dressed in a well-ordered, light-colored gown. Her
head was girlish, with a fluff of brown hair knotted low at the back.
Her profile was magnificent. The head had the intellectual poise, but
the proud bosom and strong body added another quality. "She is a modern
type," Ware said, remembering a painting of such a head he had seen in a
recent exhibition.

As he studied her she turned and caught him looking, and he felt again a
curious fluttering rush at his heart. He fancied she flushed a little
deeper as she turned away.

As for him, it had been a very long while since he had felt that
singular weakness in the presence of a young woman. He walked on, trying
to account for it. It made him feel very boyish. He had a furtive desire
to remain in the hall where he could watch her, and when he passed up
the stairs, it was with a distinct feeling of melancholy, as if he were
leaving something very dear and leaving it forever.

He wondered where this feeling came from, and he looked into the
upturned faces of the girls as if they were pansies. He wandered about
the rooms with the Blakeslys, being bored by introductions, until at
last Miss Powell came up the stairway with the last of the guests.

While the girls sang and went through some pretty drills Ware again
studied Miss Powell. Her appeal to his imagination was startling. He
searched for the cause of it. It could not be in her beauty. Certainly
she was fine and womanly and of splendid physique, but all about her
were lovely girls of daintier flesh and warmer color. He reasoned that
her power was in her eyes, steady, frank as sunlight, clear as water in
a mountain brook. She seemed unconscious of his scrutiny.

At last they began moving down the stairs and on to the other buildings.
Ware and Blakesly waited for the ladies to come down. And when they came
they were in the midst of a flood of girls, and Ware had no chance to
speak to them. As they moved across the grass he fell in behind Mrs.
Blakesly, who seemed to be telling secrets to Miss Powell, who flushed
and shook her head.

Mrs. Blakesly turned and saw Ware close behind her, and said, "O Mr.
Ware, where is my dear, dear husband?"

"Back in the swirl," Ware replied.

Mrs. Blakesly artfully dropped Miss Powell's arm and fell back. "I must
not desert the poor dear." As she passed Ware she said, "Take my place."

"With pleasure," he replied, and walked on after Miss Powell, who seemed
not to care to wait.

How simply she was dressed! She moved like an athlete, without effort
and without constraint. As he walked quickly to overtake her a finer
light fell over the hills and a fresher green came into the grass. The
daisies nodding in the wind blurred together in a dance of light and
loveliness which moved him like a song.

"How beautiful everything is to-day!" he said, as he stepped to her
side. He felt as if he had said, "How beautiful you are!"

She flashed a quick, inquiring glance at him.

"Yes; June can be beautiful with us. Still, there is a beauty more
mature, when the sickle is about to be thrust into the grain."

He did not hear what she said. He was thinking of the power that lay in
the oval of her face, in the fluffy tangle of her hair. _Ah! now he
knew._ With that upward glance she brought back his boy love, his
teacher whom he had worshiped as boys sometimes will, with a love as
pure as winter starlight. Yes, now it was clear. There was the same flex
of the splendid waist, the same slow lift of the head, and steady,
beautiful eyes.

As she talked, he was a youth of seventeen, he was lying at his
teacher's feet by the river while she read wonderful love stories. There
were others there, but they did not count. Then the tears blurred his
eyes; he remembered walking behind her dead body as it was borne to the
hillside burying ground, and all the world was desolate for him.

He became aware that Miss Powell was looking at him with startled eyes.
He hastened to apologize and explain. "Pardon me; you look so much like
a schoolboy idol--I--I seem to see her again. I didn't hear what you
said, you brought the past back so poignantly."

There was something in his voice which touched her, but before he could
go on they were joined by Mr. and Mrs. Blakesly and one of the other
teachers. There was a dancing light in Mrs. Blakesly's eyes as she
looked at Ware. She had just been saying to her husband: "What a
splendid figure Miss Powell is! How well they look together! Wouldn't it
be splendid if----"

"Oh, my dear, you're too bad. Please don't match-make any more to-day.
Let Nature attend to these things," Mr. Blakesly replied with manifest
impatience; "Nature attended to our case."

"I have no faith in Nature any more. I want to have at least a finger in
the pie myself. Nature don't work in all cases. I'm afraid Nature can't
in his case."

"Careful! He'll hear you, my dear."

"Where do we go now, Miss Powell?" asked Blakesly as they came to a halt
on the opposite side of the campus.

"I think they are all going to the gymnasium building. Won't you come?
That is my dominion."

They answered by moving off, Mrs. Blakesly taking Miss Powell's arm. As
they streamed away in files she said: "Isn't he good-looking? We've
known him for years. He's all right," she said significantly, and
squeezed Miss Powell's arm.

"Well, Lou Blakesly, you're the same old irrepressible!"

"Blushing already, you _dear_! I tell you he's splendid. I wish he'd
take to you," and she gave Miss Powell another squeeze. "It would be
_such_ a match! Brains and beauty, too."

"Oh, hush!"

They entered the cool, wide hall of the gymnasium, with its red brick
walls, its polished floor, and the yellow-red wooden beams lining the
ceiling.

There were only a few people remaining in the hall, most of them having
passed on into the museum. As they came to the various appliances, Miss
Powell explained them.

"What are these things for?" inquired Mrs. Blakesly, pointing at the row
of iron rings depending from long ropes.

"They are for swinging on," and she leaped lightly upward and caught and
swung by one hand.

"Mercy! Do you do that?"

"She seems to be doing it now," Blakesly said.

"I am one of the teachers," Miss Powell replied, dropping to the floor.

It was glorious to see how easily she seized a heavy dumb-bell and swung
it above her head. The front line of her body was majestic as she stood
thus.

"Gracious! I couldn't do that," exclaimed Mrs. Blakesly.

"No, not with your style of dress," replied her husband.--"I have to pin
her hat on this year," he said to Ware.

"I love it," said Miss Powell, as she drew a heavy weight from the floor
and stood with the cord across her shoulder. "It adds so much to life!
It gives what Browning calls the wild joy of living. Do you know, few
women know what that means? It's been denied us. Only the men have
known

    "'The wild joys of living! the leaping from rock
      up to rock,
    The strong rending of boughs from the fir tree,
      the cool silver shock
    Of a plunge in the pool's living water.'

I try to teach my girls 'How good is man's life, the mere living!'"

The men cheered as she paused for a moment flushed and breathless.

She went on: "We women have been shut out from the sports too long--I
mean sports in the sun. The men have had the best of it. All the
swimming, all the boating, wheeling, all the grand, wild life; now we're
going to have a part."

The young ladies clustered about with flushed, excited faces while their
teacher planted her flag and claimed new territory for women.

Miss Powell herself grew conscious, and flushed and paused abruptly.

Mrs. Blakesly effervesced in admiring astonishment. "Well, well! I
didn't know you could make a speech."

"I didn't mean to do so," she replied.

"Go on! Go on!" everybody called out, but she turned away to show some
other apparatus.

"Wasn't she fine?" exclaimed Mrs. Blakesly to Ware.

"Beyond praise," he replied. She went at once to communicate her morsel
of news to her husband, and at length to Miss Powell.

The company passed out into other rooms until no one was left but Mrs.
Blakesly, the professor, and Ware. Miss Powell was talking again, and to
Ware mainly. Ware was thoughtful, Miss Powell radiant.

"I didn't know what life was till I could do that." She took up a large
dumb-bell and, extending it at arm's length, whirled it back and forth.
Her forearm, white and smooth, swelled into strong action, and her
supple hands had the unwavering power and pressure of an athlete, and
withal Ware thought: "She is feminine. Her physical power has not
coarsened her; it has enlarged her life, but left her entirely womanly."

In some adroit way Mrs. Blakesly got her husband out of the room and
left Ware and Miss Powell together. She was showing him the view from
the windows, and they seemed to be perfectly absorbed. She looked around
once and saw that Mrs. Blakesly was showing her husband something in the
farther end of the room. After that she did not think of them.

The sun went lower in the sky and flamed along the sward. He spoke of
the mystical power of the waving daisies and the glowing greens which no
painter ever seems to paint. While they looked from the windows their
arms touched, and they both tried to ignore it. She shivered a little as
if a cold wind had blown upon her. At last she led the way out and down
the stairs to the campus. They heard the gay laughter of the company at
their cakes and ices, up at the central building.

He stopped outside the hallway, and as she looked up inquiringly at him,
he said quietly: "Suppose we go down the road. It seems pleasanter
there."

She acquiesced like one in a pleasure which made duty seem absurd.

Strong and fine as she was, she had never found a lover to whom she
yielded her companionship with unalloyed delight. She was thirty years
of age, and her girlhood was past. She looked at this man, and a
suffocating band seemed to encircle her throat. She knew he was strong
and good. He was a little saddened with life--that she read in his
deep-set eyes and unsmiling lips.

The road led toward the river, and as they left the campus they entered
a lane shaded by natural oaks. He talked on slowly. He asked her what
her plans were.

"To teach and to live," she said. Her enthusiasm for the work seemed
entirely gone.

Once he said, "This is the finest hour of my life."

On the bank of the river they paused and seated themselves on the sward
under a tree whose roots fingered the stream with knuckled hands.

"Yes, every time you look up at me you bring back my boyish idol," he
went on. "She was older than I. It is as if I had grown older and she
had not, and that she were you, or you were she. I can't tell you how it
has affected me. Every movement you make goes deep down into my
sweetest, tenderest recollections. It's always June there, always sweet
and sunny. Her death and burial were mystical in their beauty. I looked
in her coffin. She was the grandest statue that ever lay in marble; the
Greek types are insipid beside that vision. You'll say I idealized her;
possibly I did, but there she is. O God! it was terrible to see one die
so young and so lovely."

There was a silence. Tears came to her eyes. He could only exclaim;
weeping was denied him. His voice trembled, but grew firmer as he went
on:

"And now you come. I don't know exactly in what way you resemble her. I
only know you shake me as no other human being has done since that
coffin-lid shut out her face." He lifted his head and looked around.
"But Nature is beautiful and full of light and buoyancy. I am not going
to make you sad. I want to make you happy. I was only a boy to her. She
cared for me only as a mature woman likes an apt pupil, but she made all
Nature radiant for me, as you do now."

He smiled upon her suddenly. His somber mood passed like one of the
shadows of the clouds floating over the campus. It was only a
recollected mood. As he looked at her the old hunger came into his
heart, but the buoyancy and emotional exaltation of youth came back
also.

"Miss Powell, are you free to marry me?" he said suddenly.

She grew very still, but she flushed and then she turned her face away
from him. She had no immediate reply.

"That is an extraordinary thing to ask you, I know," he went on; "but it
seems as if I had known you a long time, and then sitting here in the
midst of Nature with the insects singing all about us--well, conventions
are not so vital as in drawing rooms. Remember your Browning."

She who had declaimed Browning so blithely now sat silent, but the color
went out of her face, and she listened to the multitudinous stir and
chirp of living things, and her eyes dreamed as he went on steadily, his
eyes studying her face.

"Browning believed in these impulses. I'll admit I never have. I've
always reasoned upon things, at least since I became a man. It has
brought me little, and I'm much disposed to try the virtue of an
impulse. I feel as certain that we can be happy together as I am of
life, so I come back to my question, Are you free to marry me?"

She flushed again. "I have no other ties, if that is what you mean."

"That is what I mean precisely. I felt that you were free, like myself.
I might ask Blakesly to vouch for me, but I prefer not. I ask for no
one's opinion of you. Can't you trust to that insight of which women are
supposed to be happily possessed?"

She smiled a little. "I never boasted of any divining power."

He came nearer. "Come, you and I have gone by rule and reason long
enough. Here we have a magnificent impulse; let us follow. Don't ask me
to wait, that would spoil it all; considerations would come in."

"Ought they not to come in?"

"No," he replied, and his low voice had the intensity of a trumpet. "If
this magnificent moment passes by, this chance for a pure impulsive
choice, it is lost forever. You know Browning makes much of such lost
opportunities. Seeing you there with bent head and blowing hair, I would
throw the world away to become the blade of grass you break. There, will
that do?" He smiled.

"That speech should bring back youth to us both," she said.

"Right action _now_ will," he quickly answered.

"But I must consider."

"Do not. Take the impulse."

"It may be wayward."

"We've both got beyond the wayward impulse. This impulse rises from the
profound deeps. Come, the sun sinks, the insect voices thicken, a star
passes behind the moon, and life hastens. Come into my life. Can't you
trust me?"

She grew very white, but a look of exaltation came into her face. She
lifted her clear, steady eyes to his. She reached her hand to his. "I
will," she said, and they rose and stood together thus.

He uncovered his head. A sort of awe fell upon him. A splendid human
life was put into his keeping.

"A pure choice," he said exultingly--"a choice untouched by
considerations. It brings back the youth of the world."

The sun lay along the sward in level lines, the sky was full of clouds
sailing in file, like mighty purple cranes in saffron seas of flame, the
wind wavered among the leaves, and the insects sang in sudden ecstasy of
life.

The two looked into each other's faces. They seemed to be transfigured,
each to the other.

"You must not go back," he said. "They would not understand you nor me.
We will never be so near a great happiness, a great holiday. It is
holiday time. Let us go to the mountains."

She drew a sigh as if all her cares and duties dropped from her, then
she smiled and a comprehending light sparkled in her eyes.

"Very well, to the clouds if you will."



THE END OF LOVE IS LOVE OF LOVE.


They lay on the cliff where the warm sun fell. Beneath them were rocks,
lichen-spotted above, and orange and russet and pink beneath.

Around the headland the ocean ravened with roaring breath, flinging
itself ceaselessly on the land, only to fall back with clutching snarl
over the pebbles.

The smell of hot cedars was in the air. The distant ships drove by with
huge sails bellying. Occasional crickets chirped faintly. Sandpipers
skimmed the beach.

The man and woman were both gray. He lay staring at the sky. She sat
with somber eyes fixed on the distant sea, whose crawling lines
glittered in ever-changing designs on its purple sweep.

They were man and wife; both were older than their years. They were far
past the land of youth and love.

"O wife!" he cried, "let us forget we are old; let us forget we are
disillusioned of life; let us try to be boy and girl again."

The woman shivered with a powerful, vague emotion, but she did not look
at him.

"O Esther, I'm tired of life!" the man went on. "I'm tired of my
children. I'm tired of you. Do you know what I mean?"

The woman looked into his eyes a moment, and said in a low voice:

"No, Charles." But the man knew she meant yes. The touch of her hand
grew cold.

"I'm tired of it all. I want to feel again the wonder and mystery of
life. It's all gone. The love we have now is good and sweet and true;
that of the old time was sweeter. It was so marvelous. I trembled when I
kissed you, dear. I don't now. It had more of truth, of pure,
unconscious passion, and less of habit. Oh, teach me to forget!"

He crept nearer to her, and laid his head in her lap. His face was
knotted with his passion and pain.

The wife and mother sighed, and looked down at his hair, which was
getting white.

"Well, Charles!" she said, and caressingly buried her fingers in his
hair. "I'll try to forget for your sake."

He could not understand her. He did not try. He lay with closed eyes,
tired, purposeless. The sweet sea wind touched his cheek, white with the
indoor pallor of the desk worker. The sound of the sea exalted him. The
beautiful clouds above him carried him back to boyhood. There were tears
on his face as he looked up at her.

"I'm forgetting!" he said, with a smile of exultation.

But the woman looked away at the violet-shadowed sails, afar on the
changeful purple of the sea, and her throat choked with pain.

THE END

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  fragments of the author's early dreams, too bright, too gorgeous, too
  full of the blood of rubies and the life of diamonds to be caught and
  held palpitating in expression's grasp."--Boston Courier.

  "Hardly a sketch among them all that will not afford pleasure to the
  reader for its genial humor, artistic local coloring, and admirable
  portrayal of character."--Boston Home Journal.

  "One dips into the book anywhere and reads on and on, fascinated by the
  writer's charm of manner."--Minneapolis Tribune.

THE LILAC SUNBONNET. Eighth edition.

  "A love story pure and simple, one of the old-fashioned, wholesome,
  sunshiny kind, with a pure-minded, sound-hearted hero, and a heroine who
  is merely a good and beautiful woman; and if any other love story half
  so sweet has been written this year, it has escaped our notice."--New
  York Times.

  "The general conception of the story, the motive of which is the growth
  of love between the young chief and heroine, is delineated with a
  sweetness and a freshness, a naturalness and a certainty, which places
  'The Lilac Sunbonnet' among the best stories of the time."--New York
  Mail and Express.

  "In its own line this little love story can hardly be excelled. It is a
  pastoral, an idyl--the story of love and courtship and marriage of a
  fine young man and a lovely girl--no more. But it is told in so
  thoroughly delightful a manner, with such playful humor, such delicate
  fancy, such true and sympathetic feeling, that nothing more could be
  desired."--Boston Traveller.

NEW YORK: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

THE STATEMENT OF STELLA MABERLY.

By F. Anstey, author of "Vice Versa," "The Giant's Robe," etc. 16mo.
Cloth, special binding, $1.25.

  "Most admirably done.... We read fascinated, and fully believing
  every word we read.... The book has deeply interested us, and even
  thrilled us more than once."--London Daily Chronicle.

  "A wildly fantastic story, thrilling and impressive.... Has an air
  of vivid reality, ... of bold conception and vigorous treatment....
  A very noteworthy novelette."--London Times.

MARCH HARES. By Harold Frederic, author of "The Damnation of Theron
Ware," "In the Valley," etc. 16mo. Cloth, special binding, $1.25.

  "One of the most cheerful novels we have chanced upon for many a
  day. It has much of the rapidity and vigor of a smartly written
  farce, with a pervading freshness a smartly written farce rarely
  possesses.... A book decidedly worth reading."--London Saturday
  Review.

  "A striking and original story, ... effective, pleasing, and very
  capable."--London Literary World.

GREEN GATES. An Analysis of Foolishness. By Mrs. K. M. C. Meredith
(Johanna Staats), author of "Drumsticks," etc. 16mo. Cloth, $1.25.

  "Crisp and delightful.... Fascinating, not so much for what it
  suggests as for its manner, and the cleverly outlined people who
  walk through its pages."--Chicago Times-Herald.

  "An original strain, bright and vivacious, and strong enough in its
  foolishness and its unexpected tragedy to prove its sterling
  worth."--Boston Herald.

AN IMAGINATIVE MAN. By Robert S. Hichens, author of "The Folly of
Eustace," "The Green Carnation," etc. 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

  "A study in character.... Just as entertaining as though it were
  the conventional story of love and marriage. The clever hand of the
  author of 'The Green Carnation' is easily detected in the caustic
  wit and pointed epigram."--Jeannette L. Gilder, in the New York
  World.

CORRUPTION. By Percy White, author of "Mr. Bailey-Martin," etc. 12mo.
Cloth, $1.25.

  "A drama of biting intensity. A tragedy of inflexible purpose and
  relentless result."--Pall Mall Gazette.

  A HARD WOMAN. A Story in Scenes. By Violet Hunt. 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

  "A good story, bright, keen, and dramatic.... It is out of the
  ordinary, and will give you a new sensation."--New York Herald.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

THE REDS OF THE MIDI. An Episode of the French Revolution. By Félix
Gras. Translated from the Provençal by Mrs. Catharine A. Janvier. With
an Introduction by Thomas A. Janvier. With Frontispiece. 12mo. Cloth,
$1.50.

  "It is doubtful whether in the English language we have had a more
  powerful, impressive, artistic picture of the French Revolution,
  from the revolutionist's point of view, than that presented in
  Félix Gras's 'The Reds of the Midi.' ... Adventures follow one
  another rapidly; splendid, brilliant pictures are frequent, and the
  thread of a tender, beautiful love story winds in and out of its
  pages."--New York Mail and Express.

  "'The Reds of the Midi' is a red rose from Provence, a breath of
  pure air in the stifling atmosphere of present-day romance--a
  stirring narrative of one of the most picturesque events of the
  Revolution. It is told with all the strength of simplicity and
  directness; it is warm and pulsating, and fairly trembles with
  excitement."--Chicago Record.

  "To the names of Dickens, Hugo, and Erckmann-Chatrian must be added
  that of Félix Gras, as a romancer who has written a tale of the
  French Revolution not only possessing historical interest, but
  charming as a story. A delightful piece of literature, of a rare
  and exquisite flavor."--Buffalo Express.

  "No more forcible presentation of the wrongs which the poorer
  classes suffered in France at the end of the eighteenth century has
  ever been put between the covers of a book."--Boston Budget.

  "Every page is alive with incidents or scenes of the time, and any
  one who reads it will get a vivid picture that can never be
  forgotten of the Reign of Terror in Paris."--San Francisco
  Chronicle.

  "The author has a rare power of presenting vivid and lifelike
  pictures. He is a true artist.... His warm, glowing, Provençal
  imagination sees that tremendous battalion of death even as the no
  less warm and glowing imagination of Carlyle saw it."--London
  Daily Chronicle.

  "Of 'The Reds of the Midi' itself it is safe to predict that the
  story will become one of the most widely popular stories of the
  next few months. It certainly deserves such appreciative
  recognition, for it throbs with vital interest in every line....
  The characters are living, stirring, palpitating human beings, who
  will glow in the reader's memory long after he has turned over the
  last pages of this remarkably fascinating book."--London Daily
  Mail.

  "A delightful romance.... The story is not only historically
  accurate; it is one of continuous and vivid
  interest."--Philadelphia Press.

  "Simply enthralling.... The narrative abounds in vivid descriptions
  of stirring incidents and wonderfully attractive depictions of
  character. Indeed, one might almost say of 'The Reds of the Midi'
  that it has all the fire and forcefulness of the elder Dumas, with
  something more than Dumas's faculty for dramatic
  compression."--Boston Beacon.

  "A charmingly told story, and all the more delightful because of
  the unstudied simplicity of the spokesman, Pascalet. Félix Gras is
  a true artist, and he has pleaded the cause of a hated people with
  the tact and skill that only an artist could employ."--Chicago
  Evening Post.

  "Much excellent revolutionary fiction in many languages has been
  written since the announcement of the expiration of 1889, or rather
  since the contemporary publication of old war records newly
  discovered, but there is none more vivid than this story of men of
  the south, written by one of their own blood."--Boston Herald.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

Miss F. F. MONTRÉSOR'S BOOKS.

FALSE COIN OR TRUE? 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

  "One of the few true novels of the day.... It is powerful, and
  touched with a delicate insight and strong impressions of life and
  character.... The author's theme is original, her treatment
  artistic, and the book is remarkable for its unflagging
  interest."--Philadelphia Record.

  "The tale never flags in interest, and once taken up will not be
  laid down until the last page is finished."--Boston Budget.

  "A well-written novel, with well-depicted characters and
  well-chosen scenes."--Chicago News.

  "A sweet, tender, pure, and lovely story."--Buffalo Commercial.

THE ONE WHO LOOKED ON. 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

  "A tale quite unusual, entirely unlike any other, full of a strange
  power and realism, and touched with a fine humor."--London World.

  "One of the most remarkable and powerful of the year's
  contributions, worthy to stand with Ian Maclaren's."--British
  Weekly.

  "One of the rare books which can be read with great pleasure and
  recommended without reservation. It is fresh, pure, sweet, and
  pathetic, with a pathos which is perfectly wholesome."--St. Paul
  Globe.

  "The story is an intensely human one, and it is delightfully
  told.... The author shows a marvelous keenness in character
  analysis, and a marked ingenuity in the development of her
  story."--Boston Advertiser.

INTO THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES.

12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth, $1.00.

  "A touch of idealism, of nobility of thought and purpose, mingled
  with an air of reality and well-chosen expression, are the most
  notable features of a book that has not the ordinary defects of
  such qualities. With all its elevation of utterance and
  spirituality of outlook and insight it is wonderfully free from
  overstrained or exaggerated matter, and it has glimpses of humor.
  Most of the characters are vivid, yet there are restraint and
  sobriety in their treatment, and almost all are carefully and
  consistently evolved."--London Athenæum.

  "'Into the Highways and Hedges' is a book not of promise only, but
  of high achievement. It is original, powerful, artistic, humorous.
  It places the author at a bound in the rank of those artists to
  whom we look for the skillful presentation of strong personal
  impressions of life and character."--London Daily News.

  "The pure idealism of 'Into the Highways and Hedges' does much to
  redeem modern fiction from the reproach it has brought upon
  itself.... The story is original, and told with great
  refinement."--Philadelphia Public Ledger.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

GILBERT PARKER'S BEST BOOKS.

THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY. Being the Memoirs of Captain robert moray,
sometime an Officer in the Virginia Regiment, and afterwards of
Amherst's Regiment. 12mo. Cloth, illustrated, $1.50.

  "Another historical romance of the vividness and intensity of 'The
  Seats of the Mighty' has never come from the pen of an American.
  Mr. Parker's latest work may, without hesitation, be set down as
  the best he has done. From the first chapter to the last word
  interest in the book never wanes; one finds it difficult to
  interrupt the narrative with breathing space. It whirls with
  excitement and strange adventure.... All of the scenes do homage to
  the genius of Mr. Parker, and make 'The Seats of the Mighty' one of
  the books of the year."--Chicago Record.

  "Mr. Gilbert Parker is to be congratulated on the excellence of his
  latest story, 'The Seats of the Mighty,' and his readers are to be
  congratulated on the direction which his talents have taken
  therein.... It is so good that we do not stop to think of its
  literature, and the personality of Doltaire is a masterpiece of
  creative art."--New York Mail and Express.

THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD. A Novel. 12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth, $1.00.

  "Mr. Parker here adds to a reputation already wide, and anew
  demonstrates his power of pictorial portrayal and of strong
  dramatic situation and climax."--Philadelphia Bulletin.

  "The tale holds the reader's interest from first to last, for it is
  full of fire and spirit, abounding in incident, and marked by good
  character drawing."--Pittsburg Times.

THE TRESPASSER. 12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth, $1.00.

  "Interest, pith, force, and charm--Mr. Parker's new story possesses
  all these qualities.... Almost bare of synthetical decoration, his
  paragraphs are stirring because they are real. We read at times--as
  we have read the great masters of romance--breathlessly."--The
  Critic.

  "Gilbert Parker writes a strong novel, but thus far this is his
  masterpiece.... It is one of the great novels of the
  year."--Boston Advertiser.

THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE. 16mo. Flexible cloth, 75 cents.

  "A book which no one will be satisfied to put down until the end
  has been matter of certainty and assurance."--The Nation.

  "A story of remarkable interest, originality, and ingenuity of
  construction."--Boston Home Journal.

  "The perusal of this romance will repay those who care for new and
  original types of character, and who are susceptible to the
  fascination of a fresh and vigorous style."--London Daily News.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

STEPHEN CRANE'S BOOKS.

THE THIRD VIOLET. 12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

  Mr. Crane's new novel is a fresh and delightful study of artist
  life in the city and the country. The theme is worked out with the
  author's characteristic originality and force, and with much
  natural humor. In subject the book is altogether different from any
  of its predecessors, and the author's marked success proves his
  breadth and the versatility of his great talent.

THE LITTLE REGIMENT, and Other Episodes of the American Civil War.
12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

  "In 'The Little Regiment' we have again studies of the volunteers
  waiting impatiently to fight and fighting, and the impression of
  the contest as a private soldier hears, sees, and feels it, is
  really wonderful. The reader has no privileges. He must, it seems,
  take his place in the ranks, and stand in the mud, wade in the
  river, fight, yell, swear, and sweat with the men. He has some sort
  of feeling, when it is all over, that he has been doing just these
  things. This sort of writing needs no praise. It will make its way
  to the hearts of men without praise."--New York Times.

  "Told with a _verve_ that brings a whiff of burning powder to one's
  nostrils.... In some way he blazons the scene before our eyes, and
  makes us feel the very impetus of bloody war."--Chicago Evening
  Post.

MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS. 12mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

  "By writing 'Maggie' Mr. Crane has made for himself a permanent
  place in literature.... Zola himself scarcely has surpassed its
  tremendous portrayal of throbbing, breathing, moving life."--New
  York Mail and Express.

  "Mr. Crane's story should be read for the fidelity with which it
  portrays a life that is potent on this island, along with the best
  of us. It is a powerful portrayal, and, if somber and repellent,
  none the less true, none the less freighted with appeal to those
  who are able to assist in righting wrongs."--New York Times.

THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. An Episode of the American Civil War. 12mo.
Cloth, $1.00.

  "Never before have we had the seamy side of glorious war so well
  depicted.... The action of the story throughout is splendid, and all
  aglow with color, movement, and vim. The style is as keen and bright as
  a sword-blade, and a Kipling has done nothing better in this
  line."--Chicago Evening Post.

  "There is nothing in American fiction to compare with it.... Mr. Crane
  has added to American literature something that has never been done
  before, and that is, in its own peculiar way, inimitable."--Boston
  Beacon.

  "A truer and completer picture of war than either Tolstoy or
  Zola."--London New Review.

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

SIR MARK. A Tale of the First Capital. By Anna Robeson Brown. 16mo.
Cloth, 75 cents.

  "One could hardly imagine a more charming short historical tale....
  It is almost classic in its simplicity and dignity."--Baltimore News.

THE FOLLY OF EUSTACE. By R. S. Hichens, author of "An Imaginative
Man," "The Green Carnation," etc. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

  "In each of these stories the author of 'The Green Carnation' shows
  his hand without intending to. There is the same cynicism, the same
  epigrammatic wit. Among the new English story writers there are
  none more brilliant than Mr. Hichens."--Chicago Tribune.

SLEEPING FIRES. By George Gissing, author of "In the Year of Jubilee,"
"Eve's Ransom," etc. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

  "Intense, extremely well told, and full of discriminating study of
  life and character."--Buffalo Commercial.

STONEPASTURES. By Eleanor Stuart. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

  "This is a strong bit of good literary workmanship."--Philadelphia
  Public Ledger.

COURTSHIP BY COMMAND. By M. M. Blake. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

  "A bright, moving study of an unusually interesting period in the
  life of Napoleon, ... deliciously told; the characters are clearly,
  strongly, and very delicately modeled, and the touches of color
  most artistically done."--N. Y. Commercial Advertiser.

THE WATTER'S MOU'. By Bram Stoker. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

  "Here is a tale to stir the most sluggish nature.... It is like
  standing on the deck of a wave tossed ship; you feel the soul of
  the storm go into your blood."--New York Home Journal.

  MASTER AND MAN. By Count Leo Tolstoy. With an Introduction by W. D.
  Howells. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cts.

  "Reveals a wonderful knowledge of the workings of the human mind,
  and it tells a tale that not only stirs the emotions, but gives us
  a better insight into our own hearts."--San Francisco Argonaut.

  THE ZEIT-GEIST. By L. Dougall, author of "The Mermaid," "Beggars All,"
  etc. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

  "Powerful in conception, treatment, and influence."--Boston Globe.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

"A better book than 'The Prisoner of Zenda.'"--London Queen.

THE CHRONICLES OF COUNT ANTONIO By anthony hope, author of "The God in
the Car," "The Prisoner of Zenda," etc. With photogravure Frontispiece
by S. W. Van Schaick. Third edition. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

"No adventures were ever better worth recounting than are those of
Antonio of Monte Velluto, a very Bayard among outlaws.... To all those
whose pulses still stir at the recital of deeds of high courage, we may
recommend this book.... The chronicle conveys the emotion of heroic
adventure, and is picturesquely written."--London Daily News.

"It has literary merits all its own, of a deliberate and rather deep
order.... In point of execution 'The Chronicles of Count Antonio' is the
best work that Mr. Hope has yet done. The design is clearer, the
workmanship more elaborate, the style more colored.... The incidents are
most ingenious, they are told quietly, but with great cunning, and the
Quixotic sentiment which pervades it all is exceedingly
pleasant."--Westminster Gazette.

"A romance worthy of all the expectations raised by the brilliancy of
his former books, and likely to be read with a keen enjoyment and a
healthy exaltation of the spirits by every one who takes it up."--The
Scotsman.

"A gallant tale, written with unfailing freshness and spirit."--London
Daily Telegraph.

"One of the most fascinating romances written in English within many
days. The quaint simplicity of its style is delightful, and the
adventures recorded in these 'Chronicles of Count Antonio' are as
stirring and ingenious as any conceived even by Weyman at his
best."--New York World.

"Romance of the real flavor, wholly and entirely romance, and narrated
in true romantic style. The characters, drawn with such masterly
handling, are not merely pictures and portraits, but statues that are
alive and step boldly forward from the canvas."--Boston Courier.

"Told in a wonderfully simple and direct style, and with the magic
touch of a man who has the genius of narrative, making the varied
incidents flow naturally and rapidly in a stream of sparkling
discourse."--Detroit Tribune.

"Easily ranks with, if not above, 'A Prisoner of Zenda.' ... Wonderfully
strong, graphic, and compels the interest of the most _blasé_ novel
reader."--Boston Advertiser.

"No adventures were ever better worth telling than those of Count
Antonio.... The author knows full well how to make every pulse thrill,
and how to hold his readers under the spell of his magic."--Boston
Herald.

"A book to make women weep proud tears, and the blood of men to tingle
with knightly fervor.... In 'Count Antonio' we think Mr. Hope surpasses
himself, as he has already surpassed all the other story-tellers of the
period."--New York Spirit of the Times.

NEW YORK: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

NOVELS BY HALL CAINE.

THE MANXMAN. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

  "A story of marvelous dramatic intensity, and in its ethical
  meaning has a force comparable only to Hawthorne's 'Scarlet
  Letter.'"--Boston Beacon.

  "A work of power which is another stone added to the foundation of
  enduring fame to which Mr. Caine is yearly adding."--Public
  Opinion.

  "A wonderfully strong study of character; a powerful analysis of
  those elements which go to make up the strength and weakness of a
  man, which are at fierce warfare within the same breast; contending
  against each other, as it were, the one to raise him to fame and
  power, the other to drag him down to degradation and shame. Never
  in the whole range of literature have we seen the struggle between
  these forces for supremacy over the man more powerfully, more
  realistically delineated than Mr. Caine pictures it."--Boston Home
  Journal.

THE DEEMSTER. A Romance of the Isle of Man. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

  "Hall Caine has already given us some very strong and fine work,
  and 'The Deemster' is a story of unusual power.... Certain passages
  and chapters have an intensely dramatic grasp, and hold the
  fascinated reader with a force rarely excited nowadays in
  literature."--The Critic.

  "One of the strongest novels which has appeared in many a
  day."--San Francisco Chronicle.

  "Fascinates the mind like the gathering and bursting of a
  storm."--Illustrated London News.

  "Deserves to be ranked among the remarkable novels of the
  day."--Chicago Times.

THE BONDMAN. New edition, 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

  "The welcome given to this story has cheered and touched me, but I
  am conscious that, to win a reception so warm, such a book must
  have had readers who brought to it as much as they took away.... I
  have called my story a saga, merely because it follows the epic
  method, and I must not claim for it at any point the weighty
  responsibility of history, or serious obligations to the world of
  fact. But it matters not to me what Icelanders may call 'The
  Bondman,' if they will honor me by reading it in the open-hearted
  spirit and with the free mind with which they are content to read
  of Grettir and of his fights with the Troll."--From the Author's
  Preface.

CAPT'N DAVY'S HONEYMOON. A Manx Yarn. 12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth,
$1.00.

  "A new departure by this author. Unlike his previous works, this
  little tale is almost wholly humorous, with, however, a current of
  pathos underneath. It is not always that an author can succeed
  equally well in tragedy and in comedy, but it looks as though Mr.
  Hall Caine would be one of the exceptions."--London Literary
  World.

  "It is pleasant to meet the author of 'The Deemster' in a brightly
  humorous little story like this.... It shows the same observation
  of Manx character, and much of the same artistic
  skill."--Philadelphia Times.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

THE STORY OF THE WEST SERIES.

Edited by Ripley Hitchcock.

"There is a vast extent of territory lying between the Missouri
River and the Pacific coast which has barely been skimmed over so
far. That the conditions of life therein are undergoing changes
little short of marvelous will be understood when one recalls the
fact that the first white male child born in Kansas is still living
there; and Kansas is by no means one of the newer States.
Revolutionary indeed has been the upturning of the old condition of
affairs, and little remains thereof, and less will remain as each
year goes by, until presently there will be only tradition of the
Sioux and Comanches, the cowboy life, the wild horse, and the
antelope. Histories, many of them, have been written about the
Western country alluded to, but most if not practically all by
outsiders who knew not personally that life of kaleidoscopic
allurement. But ere it shall have vanished forever we are likely to
have truthful, complete, and charming portrayals of it produced by
men who actually knew the life and have the power to describe
it."--Henry Edward Rood, in the Mail and Express.

NOW READY:

  THE STORY OF THE INDIAN. By George Bird Grinnell, author of "Pawnee
  Hero Stories," "Blackfoot Lodge Tales," etc. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

  "In every way worthy of an author who, as an authority upon the
  Western Indians, is second to none. A book full of color, abounding
  in observation, and remarkable in sustained interest, it is at the
  same time characterized by a grace of style which is rarely to be
  looked for in such a work, and which adds not a little to the charm
  of it."--London Daily Chronicle.

  "Only an author qualified by personal experience could offer us a
  profitable study of a race so alien from our own as is the Indian
  in thought, feeling, and culture. Only long association with
  Indians can enable a white man measurably to comprehend their
  thoughts and enter into their feelings. Such association has been
  Mr. Grinnell's."--New York Sun.

  THE STORY OF THE MINE. By Charles Howard Shinn. Illustrated. 12mo.
  Cloth, $1.50.

  "The author has written a book, not alone full of information, but
  replete with the true romance of the American mine."--New York
  Times.

  "Few chapters of recent history are more fascinating than that
  which Mr. Shinn has told in 'The Story of the Mine.'"--The
  Outlook.

  "Both a history and a romance.... Highly interesting, new, and
  thrilling."--Philadelphia Inquirer.

IN PREPARATION.

  The Story of the Trapper. By Gilbert Parker.
  The Story of the Cowboy. By E. Hough.
  The Story of the Soldier. By Capt. J. McB. Stembel, U.S.A.
  The Story of the Explorer.
  The Story of the Railroad.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

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NOVELS BY MAARTEN MAARTENS.

THE GREATER GLORY. A Story of High Life.

By Maarten Maartens, author of "God's Fool," "Joost Avelingh," etc.
12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

  "Until the Appletons discovered the merits of Maarten Maartens, the
  foremost of Dutch novelists, it is doubtful if many American
  readers knew that there were Dutch novelists. His 'God's Fool' and
  'Joost Avelingh' made for him an American reputation. To our mind
  this just published work of his is his best.... He is a master of
  epigram, an artist in description, a prophet in insight."--Boston
  Advertiser.

  "It would take several columns to give any adequate idea of the
  superb way in which the Dutch novelist has developed his theme and
  wrought out one of the most impressive stories of the period.... It
  belongs to the small class of novels which one can not afford to
  neglect."--San Francisco Chronicle.

  "Maarten Maartens stands head and shoulders above the average
  novelist of the day in intellectual subtlety and imaginative
  power."--Boston Beacon.

GOD'S FOOL. By Maarten Maartens. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

  "Throughout there is an epigrammatic force which would make
  palatable a less interesting story of human lives or one less
  deftly told."--London Saturday Review.

  "Perfectly easy, graceful, humorous.... The author's skill in
  character-drawing is undeniable."--London Chronicle.

  "A remarkable work."--New York Times.

  "Maarten Maartens has secured a firm footing in the eddies of
  current literature.... Pathos deepens into tragedy in the thrilling
  story of 'God's Fool.'"--Philadelphia Ledger.

  "Its preface alone stamps the author as one of the leading English
  novelists of to-day."--Boston Daily Advertiser.

  "The story is wonderfully brilliant.... The interest never lags;
  the style is realistic and intense; and there is a constantly
  underlying current of subtle humor.... It is, in short, a book
  which no student of modern literature should fail to
  read."--Boston Times.

  "A story of remarkable interest and point."--New York Observer.

JOOST AVELINGH. By Maarten Maartens. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

  "So unmistakably good as to induce the hope that an acquaintance
  with the Dutch literature of fiction may soon become more general
  among us."--London Morning Post.

  "In scarcely any of the sensational novels of the day will the
  reader find more nature or more human nature."--London Standard.

  "A novel of a very high type. At once strongly realistic and
  powerfully idealistic."--London Literary World.

  "Full of local color and rich in quaint phraseology and
  suggestion."--London Telegraph.

  "Maarten Maartens is a capital story-teller."--Pall Mall Gazette.

  "Our English writers of fiction will have to look to their
  laurels."--Birmingham Daily Post.

RUDYARD KIPLING'S NEW BOOK.

  THE SEVEN SEAS. A new volume of poems by Rudyard Kipling, author of
  "Many Inventions," "Barrack-Room Ballads," etc. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50; half
  calf, $3.00; morocco, $5.00.

  "The spirit and method of Kipling's fresh and virile song have
  taken the English reading world.... When we turn to the larger
  portion of 'The Seven Seas,' how imaginative it is, how
  impassioned, how superbly rhythmic and sonorous!... The ring and
  diction of this verse add new elements to our song.... The true
  laureate of Greater Britain."--E. C. Stedman, in the Book Buyer.

  "The most original poet who has appeared in his generation.... His
  is the lustiest voice now lifted in the world, the clearest, the
  bravest, with the fewest false notes in it.... I do not see why, in
  reading his book, we should not put ourselves in the presence of a
  great poet again, and consent to put off our mourning for the high
  ones lately dead."--W. D. Howells.

  "The new poems of Mr. Rudyard Kipling have all the spirit and swing
  of their predecessors. Throughout they are instinct with the
  qualities which are essentially his, and which have made, and seem
  likely to keep, for him his position and wide popularity."--London
  Times.

  "He has the very heart of movement, for the lack of which no
  metrical science could atone. He goes far because he can."--London
  Academy.

  "'The Seven Seas' is the most remarkable book of verse that Mr.
  Kipling has given us. Here the human sympathy is broader and
  deeper, the patriotism heartier and fuller, the intellectual and
  spiritual insight keener, the command of the literary vehicle more
  complete and sure, than in any previous verse work by the author.
  The volume pulses with power--power often rough and reckless in
  expression, but invariably conveying the effect intended. There is
  scarcely a line which does not testify to the strong individuality
  of the writer."--London Globe.

  "If a man holding this volume in his hands, with all its
  extravagance and its savage realism, is not aware that it is
  animated through and through with indubitable genius--then he must
  be too much the slave of the conventional and the ordinary to
  understand that Poetry metamorphoses herself in many diverse forms,
  and that its one sovereign and indefeasible justification
  is--truth."--London Daily Telegraph.

  "'The Seven Seas' is packed with inspiration, with humor, with
  pathos, and with the old unequaled insight into the mind of the
  rank and file."--London Daily Chronicle.

  "Mr. Kipling's 'The Seven Seas' is a distinct advance upon his
  characteristic lines. The surpassing strength, the almost violent
  originality, the glorious swish and swing of his lines--all are
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  and genius--a brand-new landmark in the history of English
  letters."--Chicago Tribune.

  "In 'The Seven Seas' are displayed all of Kipling's prodigious
  gifts.... Whoever reads 'The Seven Seas' will be vexed by the
  desire to read it again. The average charm of the gifts alone is
  irresistible."--Boston Journal.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

YEKL. A Tale of the New York Ghetto. By A. Cahan.

Uniform with "The Red Badge of Courage." 12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

  "A new and striking tale; the charm, the verity, the literary
  quality of the book depend upon its study of character, its 'local
  color,' its revelation to Americans of a social state at their very
  doors of which they have known nothing."--New York Times.

  "The story is a revelation to us. It is written in a spirited,
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  unexpected. The dialect is striking in its truth to
  Nature."--Boston Courier.

  "Is in all probability the only true picture we have yet had of
  that most densely populated spot on the face of the earth--the
  ghetto of the metropolis, rather the metropolis of the ghettos of
  the world."--New York Journal.

  "A series of vivid pictures of a strange people.... The people and
  their social life the author depicts with marvelous
  success."--Boston Transcript.

  "The reader will become deeply interested in Mr. Cahan's graphic
  presentation of ghetto life in New York."--Minneapolis Journal.

  "A strong, quaint story."--Detroit Tribune.

  "Every feature of the book bears the stamp of truth.... Undoubtedly
  'Yekl' has never been excelled as a picture of the distinctive life
  of the New York ghetto."--Boston Herald.

THE SENTIMENTAL SEX. By Gertrude Warden. 12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

  "The cleverest book by a woman that has been published for
  months.... Such books as 'The Sentimental Sex' are exemplars of a
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  "There is a well-wrought mystery in the story and some surprises
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  said, a story of considerable charm."--Boston Courier.

  "An uncommonly knowing little book, which keeps a good grip on the
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  plot is adroit and original."--Rochester Herald.

  "Miss Warden has worked out her contrasts very strikingly, and
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  on the qui vive for the cynical but bright sayings she has
  interspersed."--Detroit Free Press.

  "The story forms an admirable study. The style is graphic, the plot
  original and cleverly wrought out."--Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.





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