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´╗┐Title: The Bread-winners - A Social Study
Author: Hay, John, 1835-1905
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 "The Bread-winners - A Social Study" ***

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THE BREADWINNERS

A Social Study

New York and London
Harper & Brothers Publishers

1901



I.


A MORNING CALL



A French clock on the mantel-piece, framed of brass and crystal, which
betrayed its inner structure as the transparent sides of some insects
betray their vital processes, struck ten with the mellow and lingering
clangor of a distant cathedral bell. A gentleman, who was seated in
front of the fire reading a newspaper, looked up at the clock to see
what hour it was, to save himself the trouble of counting the slow,
musical strokes. The eyes he raised were light gray, with a blue glint
of steel in them, shaded by lashes as black as jet. The hair was also
as black as hair can be, and was parted near the middle of his
forehead. It was inclined to curl, but had not the length required by
this inclination. The dark brown mustache was the only ornament the
razor had spared on the wholesome face, the outline of which was clear
and keen. The face suited the hands--it had the refinement and
gentleness of one delicately bred, and the vigorous lines and color of
one equally at home in field and court; and the hands had the firm,
hard symmetry which showed they had done no work, and the bronze tinge
which is the imprint wherewith sky and air mark their lovers. His
clothes were of the fashion seen in the front windows of the
Knickerbocker Club in the spring of the year 187-, and were worn as
easily as a self-respecting bird wears his feathers. He seemed, in
short, one of those fortunate natures, who, however born, are always
bred well, and come by prescription to most of the good things the
world can give.

He sat in a room marked, like himself, with a kind of serious
elegance--one of those apartments which seem to fit the person like a
more perfect dress. All around the walls ran dwarf book-cases of carved
oak, filled with volumes bound in every soft shade of brown and tawny
leather, with only enough of red and green to save the shelves from
monotony. Above these the wall space was covered with Cordovan leather,
stamped with gold _fleurs-de-lis_ to within a yard of the top, where a
frieze of palm-leaves led up to a ceiling of blue and brown and gold.
The whole expression of the room was of warmth and good manners. The
furniture was of oak and stamped leather. The low book-cases were
covered with bronzes, casts, and figurines, of a quality so uniformly
good that none seemed to feel the temptation either to snub or to
cringe to its neighbor. The Owari pots felt no false shame beside the
royal Satsuma; and Barbedienne's bronzes, the vases of Limoges and
Lambeth and bowls from Nankin and Corea dwelt together in the harmony
of a varied perfection.

It was an octagon room, with windows on each side of the fire-place, in
which a fire of Ohio coal was leaping and crackling with a cheerful and
unctuous noisiness. Out of one window yon could see a pretty garden of
five or six acres behind the house, and out of the other a carefully
kept lawn, extending some hundred yards from the front door to the
gates of hammered iron which opened upon a wide-paved avenue. This
street was the glory of Buff-land, a young and thriving city on Lake
Erie, which already counted a population of over two hundred thousand
souls. The people of Clairfield, a rival town, denied that there was
anything like so many inhabitants, and added that "the less we say
about 'souls' the better." But this was pure malice; Buffland was a big
city. Its air was filled with the smoke and odors of vast and
successful trade, and its sky was reddened by night with the glare of
its furnaces, rising like the hot breath of some prostrate Titan,
conquered and bowed down by the pitiless cunning of men. Its people
were, as a rule, rich and honest, especially in this avenue of which I
have spoken. If you have ever met a Bufflander, you have heard of
Algonquin Avenue. He will stand in the Champs Elysees, when all the
vice and fashion of Europe are pouring down from the Place of the Star
in the refluent tide that flows from Boulogne Wood to Paris, and calmly
tell you that "Algonquin Avenue in the sleighing season can discount
this out of sight." Something is to be pardoned to the spirit of
liberty; and the avenue is certainly a fine one. It is three miles long
and has hardly a shabby house in it, while for a mile or two the houses
upon one side, locally called "the Ridge," are unusually line, large,
and costly. They are all surrounded with well-kept gardens and
separated from the street by velvet lawns which need scarcely fear
comparison with the emerald wonders which centuries of care have
wrought from the turf of England. The house of which we have seen one
room was one of the best upon this green and park-like thoroughfare.
The gentleman who was sitting by the fire was Mr. Arthur Farnham. He
was the owner and sole occupant of the large stone house--a widower of
some years' standing, although he was yet young. His parents had died
in his childhood. He had been an officer in the army, had served
several years upon the frontier, had suffered great privations, had
married a wife much older than himself, had seen her die on the Plains
from sheer want, though he had more money than he could get
transportation for; and finally, on the death of his grandfather he had
resigned, with reluctance, a commission which had brought him nothing
but suffering and toil, and had returned to Buffland, where he was
born, to take charge of the great estate of which he was the only heir.
And even yet, in the midst of a luxury and a comfort which anticipated
every want and gratified every taste, he often looked longingly back
upon the life he had left, until his nose inhaled again the scent of
the sage-brush and his eyes smarted with alkali dust. He regretted the
desolate prairies, the wide reaches of barrenness accursed of the
Creator, the wild chaos of the mountain canons, the horror of the Bad
Lands, the tingling cold of winter in the Black Hills. But the Republic
holds so high the privilege of serving her that, for the officer who
once resigns--with a good character--there is no return forever, though
he seek it with half the lobby at his heels. So Captain Farnham sat,
this fine May morning, reading a newspaper which gave the stations of
his friends in the "Tenth" with something of the feeling which assails
the exile when he cons the court journal where his name shall appear no
more.

But while he is looking at the clock a servant enters.

"That same young person is here again."

"What young person?"

There was a slight flavor of reproach in the tone of the grave
Englishman as he answered:

"I told you last night, sir, she have been here three times already;
she doesn't give me her name nor yet her business; she is settin' in
the drawin'-room, and says she will wait till you are quite at leisure.
I was about to tell her," he added with still deeper solemnity, "that
you were hout, sir, but she hinterrupted of me and said, 'He isn't
gone, there's his 'at,' which I told her you 'ad several 'ats, and
would she wait in the drawin'-room and I'd see."

Captain Farnham smiled.

"Very well, Budsey, you've done your best--and perhaps she won't eat me
after all. Is there a fire in the drawing-room?"

"No, sir."

"Let her come in here, then."

A moment afterward the rustle of a feminine step made Farnham raise his
head suddenly from his paper. It was a quick, elastic step, accompanied
by that crisp rattle of drapery which the close clinging garments of
ladies produced at that season. The door opened, and as the visitor
entered Farnham rose in surprise. He had expected to see the usual
semi-mendicant, with sad-colored raiment and doleful whine, calling for
a subscription for a new "Centennial History," or the confessed genteel
beggar whose rent would be due to-morrow. But there was nothing in any
way usual in the young person who stood before him. She was a tall and
robust girl of eighteen or nineteen, of a singularly fresh and vigorous
beauty. The artists forbid us to look for physical perfection in real
people, but it would have been hard for the coolest-headed studio-rat
to find any fault in the slender but powerful form of this young woman.
Her color was deficient in delicacy, and her dark hair was too
luxuriant to be amenable to the imperfect discipline to which it had
been accustomed; but the eye of Andrea, sharpened by criticising
Raphael, could hardly have found a line to alter in her. The dress of
that year was scarcely more reticent in its revelations than the first
wet cloth with which a sculptor swathes his kneaded clay; and pretty
women walked in it with almost the same calm consciousness of power
which Phryne displayed before her judges. The girl who now entered
Farnham's library had thrown her shawl over one arm, because the shawl
was neither especially ornamental nor new, and she could not afford to
let it conceal her dress of which she was innocently proud; for it
represented not only her beautiful figure with few reserves, but also
her skill and taste and labor. She had cut the pattern out of an
illustrated newspaper, had fashioned and sewed it with her own hands;
she knew that it fitted her almost as well as her own skin; and
although the material was cheap and rather flimsy, the style was very
nearly the same as that worn the same day on the Boulevard of the
Italians. Her costume was completed by a pair of eyeglasses with steel
rims, which looked odd on her rosy young face.

"I didn't send in my name," she began with a hurried and nervous
utterance, which she was evidently trying to make easy and dashing.
"because you did not know me from Adam----I have been trying to see you
for some time," she continued.

"It has been my loss that you have not succeeded. Allow me to give you
a chair."

She flushed and seemed not at all comfortable. This grave young man
could not be laughing at her; of course not; she was good-looking and
had on a new dress; but she felt all her customary assurance leaving
her, and was annoyed. She tried to call up an easy and gay demeanor,
but the effort was not entirely successful. She said, "I called this
morning--it may surprise you to receive a visit from a young lady----"

"I am too much pleased to leave room for surprise."

She looked sharply at him to see if she were being derided, but through
her glasses she perceived no derision in his smile. He was saying to
himself, "This is a very beautiful girl who wants to beg or to borrow.
I wonder whether it is for herself or for some 'Committee'? The longer
she talks the more I shall have to give. But I do not believe she is
near-sighted."

She plucked up her courage and said:

"My name is Miss Maud Matchin."

Farnham bowed, and rejoined:

"My name is----"

She laughed outright, and said:

"I know well enough what your name is, or why should I have come here?
Everybody knows the elegant Mr. Farnham."

The smile faded from his face. "She is more ill-bred than I suspected,"
he thought; "we will condense this interview."

He made no reply to her compliment, but looked steadily at her, waiting
to hear what she wanted, and thinking it was a pity she was so vulgar,
for she looked like the huntress Diana.

Her eyes fell under his glance, which was not at all reassuring. She
said in almost a humble tone:

"I have come to ask a great favor of you. I am in a good deal of
trouble."

"Let us see what it is, and what we can do," said Farnham, and there
was no longer any banter in his voice.

She looked up with sudden pleasure, and her glasses fell from her eyes.
She did not replace them, but, clasping her hands tightly together,
exclaimed:

"Oh, sir, if you can do anything for me----But I don't want to make you
think----" She paused in evident confusion, and Farnham kindly
interposed.

"What I may think is not of any consequence just now. What is it you
want, and how can I be of service to you?"

"Oh, it is a long story, and I thought it was so easy to tell, and I
find it isn't easy a bit. I want to do something--to help my parents--I
mean they do not need any help--but they can't help me. I have tried
lots of things." She was now stammering and blushing in a way that made
her hate herself mortally, and the innocent man in front of her tenfold
more, but she pushed on manfully and concluded, "I thought may be you
could help me get something I would like."

"What would you like?"

"Most anything. I am a graduate of the high school. I write a good
hand, but I don't like figures well enough to clerk. I hear there are
plenty of good places in Washington."

"I could do nothing for you if there were. But you are wrong: there are
no good places in Washington, from the White House down."

"Well, you are president of the Library Board, ain't you?" asked the
high-school graduate. "I think I would like to be one of the
librarians."

"Why would you like that?"

"Oh, the work is light, I suppose, and you see people, and get plenty
of time for reading, and the pay is better than I could get at anything
else. The fact is," she began to gain confidence as she talked, "I
don't want to go on in the old humdrum way forever, doing housework and
sewing, and never getting a chance at anything better. I have enough to
eat and to wear at home, but the soul has some claims too, and I long
for the contact of higher natures than those by whom I am now
surrounded. I want opportunities for self-culture, for intercourse with
kindred spirits, for the attainment of a higher destiny."

She delivered these swelling words with great fluency, mentally
congratulating herself that she had at last got fairly started, and
wishing she could have struck into that vein at the beginning. Farnham
was listening to her with more of pain than amusement, saying to
himself: "The high school has evidently spoiled her for her family and
friends, and fitted her for nothing else."

"I do not know that there is a vacancy in the library."

"Oh, yes, there is," she rejoined, briskly; "I have been to see the
librarian himself, and I flatter myself I made a favorable impression.
In fact, the old gentleman seemed really smitten."

"That is quite possible," said Farnham. "But I hope you will not amuse
yourself by breaking his heart."

"I can't promise. He must look out for his own heart." She had regained
her saucy ease, and evidently enjoyed the turn the conversation was
taking. "I find my hands full taking care of myself."

"You are quite sure you can do that?"

"Certainly, sir!" This was said with pouting lips, half-shut eyes, the
head thrown back, the chin thrust forward, the whole face bright with
smiles of provoking defiance. "Do you doubt it, Monsieur?" She
pronounced this word Moshoor.

Farnham thought in his heart "You are about as fit to take care of
yourself as a plump pigeon at a shooting match." But he said to her,
"Perhaps you are right--only don't brag. It isn't lucky. I do not know
what are the chances about this place. You would do well to get some of
your friends to write a letter or two in your behalf, and I will see
what can be done at the next meeting of the Board."

But her returning fluency had warmed up Miss Maud's courage somewhat,
and instead of taking her leave she began again, blushingly, but still
boldly enough:

"There is something I would like much better than the library."

Farnham looked at her inquiringly. She did not hesitate in the least,
but pushed on energetically, "I have thought you must need a secretary.
I should be glad to serve you in that capacity."

The young man stared with amazement at this preposterous proposal. For
the first time, he asked himself if the girl's honest face could be the
ambush of a guileful heart; but he dismissed the doubt in an instant,
and said, simply:

"No, thank you. I am my own secretary, and have no reason for
displacing the present incumbent. The library will suit you better in
every respect."

In her embarrassment she began to feel for her glasses, which were
lying in her lap. Farnham picked up a small photograph from the table
near him, and said:

"Do you recognize this?"

"Yes," she said. "It is General Grant."

"It is a photograph of him, taken in Paris, which I received to-day.
May I ask a favor of you?"

"What is it?" she said, shyly.

"Stop wearing those glasses. They are of no use to you, and they will
injure your eyes."

Her face turned crimson. Without a word of reply she seized the glasses
and put them on, her eyes flashing fire. She then rose and threw her
shawl over her arm, and said, in a tone to which her repressed anger
lent a real dignity:

"When can I learn about that place in the library?"

"Any time after Wednesday," Farnham answered.

She bowed and walked out of the room. She could not indulge in tragic
strides, for her dress held her like a scabbard, giving her scarcely
more freedom of movement than the high-born maidens of Carthage
enjoyed, who wore gold fetters on their ankles until they were married.
But in spite of all impediments her tall figure moved, with that grace
which is the birthright of beauty in any circumstances, out of the
door, through the wide hall to the outer entrance, so rapidly that
Farnham could hardly keep pace with her. As he opened the door she
barely acknowledged his parting salutation, and swept like a huffy
goddess down the steps. Farnham gazed after her a moment, admiring the
undulating line from the small hat to the long and narrow train which
dragged on the smooth stones of the walk. He then returned to the
library. Budsey was mending the fire.

"If you please, sir," he said, "Mrs. Belding's man came over to ask,
would you dine there this evening, quite informal."

"Why didn't he come in?"

"I told him you were engaged."

"Ah, very well. Say to Mrs. Belding that I will come, with pleasure."



II.


A HIGH-SCHOOL GRADUATE.


Miss Matchin picked up her train as she reached the gate, picked up her
train as she reached the gate, and walked down the street in a state of
mind by no means tranquil. If she had put her thoughts in words they
would have run like this:

"That was the meanest trick a gentleman ever played. How did he dare
know I wasn't nearsighted? And what a fool I was to be caught by that
photograph--saw it as plain as day three yards off. I had most made up
my mind to leave them off anyway, though they are awful stylish; they
pinch my nose and make my head ache. But I'll wear them now," and here
the white teeth came viciously together, "if they kill me. Why should
he put me down that way? He made me shy for the first time in my life.
It's a man's business to be shy before me. If I could only get hold of
him somehow! I'd pay him well for making me feel so small. The fact is,
I started wrong. I did not really know what I wanted; and that graven
image of an English butler set me back so; and then I never saw such a
house as that. It is sinful for one man to live there all alone. Powers
alive! How well that house would suit my complexion! But I don't
believe I'd take it with _him_ thrown in."

It is doubtful whether young girls of Miss Matchin's kind are ever
quite candid in their soliloquies. It is certain she was not when she
assured herself that she did not know why she went to Farnham's house
that morning. She went primarily to make his acquaintance, with the
hope also that by this means she might be put in some easy and genteel
way of earning money. She was one of a very numerous class in large
American towns. Her father was a carpenter, of a rare sort. He was a
good workman, sober, industrious, and unambitious. He was contented
with his daily work and wage, and would have thanked Heaven if he could
have been assured that his children would fare as well as he. He was of
English blood, and had never seemed to imbibe into his veins the
restless haste and hunger to rise which is the source of much that is
good and most that is evil in American life. In the dreams of his early
married days he created a future for his children, in the image of his
own decent existence. The boys should succeed him in his shop, and the
daughters should go out to service in respectable families. This
thought sweetened his toil. When he got on well enough to build a shop
for himself, he burdened himself with debt, building it firmly and
well, so as to last out his boys' time as well as his own. When he was
employed on the joiner-work of some of those large houses in Algonquin
Avenue, he lost himself in reveries in which he saw his daughters
employed as house-maids in them. He studied the faces and the words of
the proprietors, when they visited the new buildings, to guess if they
would make kind and considerate employers. He put many an extra stroke
of fine work upon the servants' rooms he finished, thinking: "Who knows
but my Mattie may live here sometime?"

But Saul Matchin found, like many others of us, that fate was not so
easily managed. His boys never occupied the old shop on Dean Street,
which was built with so many sacrifices and so much of hopeful love.
One of them ran away from home on the first intimation that he was
expected to learn his father's trade, shipped as a cabin-boy on one of
the lake steamers, and was drowned in a storm which destroyed the
vessel. The other, less defiant or less energetic, entered the shop and
attained some proficiency in the work. But as he grew toward manhood,
he became, as the old man called it, "trifling"; a word which bore with
it in the local dialect no suggestion of levity or vivacity, for Luke
Matchin was as dark and lowering a lout as you would readily find. But
it meant that he became more and more unpunctual, did his work worse
month by month, came home later at night, and was continually seen,
when not in the shop, with a gang of low ruffians, whose head-quarters
were in a den called the "Bird of Paradise," on the lake shore. When
his father remonstrated with him, he met everything with sullen
silence. If Saul lost his temper at this mute insolence and spoke
sharply, the boy would retort with an evil grin that made the honest
man's heart ache.

"Father," he said one day, "you'd a big sight better let me alone, if
you don't want to drive me out of this ranch. I wasn't born to make a
nigger of myself in a free country, and you can just bet your life I
ain't a-going to do it."

These things grieved Saul Matchin so that his anger would die away. At
last, one morning, after a daring burglary had been committed in
Buffland, two policemen were seen by Luke Matchin approaching the shop.
He threw open a back window, jumped out and ran rapidly down to the
steep bluff overlooking the lake. When the officers entered, Saul was
alone in the place. They asked after his boy, and he said:

"He can't be far away. What do you want of him? He hain't been doing
nothing, I hope."

"Nothing, so far as we know, but we are after two fellows who go by the
names of Maumee Jake and Dutch George. Luke runs with them sometimes,
and he could make a pile of money by helping of us get them."

"I'll tell him when he comes in," said Saul, but he never saw or heard
of his son again.

With his daughters he was scarcely more successful. For, though they
had not brought sorrow or shame to his house, they seemed as little
amenable to the discipline he had hoped to exert in his family as the
boys were. The elder had married, at fifteen years of age, a journeyman
printer; and so, instead of filling the place of housemaid in some good
family, as her father had fondly dreamed, she was cook, housemaid, and
general servant to a man aware of his rights, and determined to
maintain them, and nurse and mother (giving the more important function
precedence) to six riotous children. Though his child had thus
disappointed his hopes, she had not lost his affection, and he even
enjoyed the Sunday afternoon romp with his six grandchildren, which
ordinarily took place in the shop among the shavings. Wixham, the
son-in-law, was not prosperous, and the children were not so well
dressed that the sawdust would damage their clothes.

The youngest of Matchin's four children was our acquaintance Miss Maud,
as she called herself, though she was christened Matilda. When Mrs.
Matchin was asked, after that ceremony, "Who she was named for?" she
said, "Nobody in partic'lar. I call her Matildy because it's a pretty
name, and goes well with Jurildy, my oldest gal." She had evolved that
dreadful appellation out of her own mind. It had done no special harm,
however, as Miss Jurildy had rechristened herself Poguy at a very
tender age, in a praiseworthy attempt to say "Rogue," and the delighted
parents had never called her anything else. Thousands of comely damsels
all over this broad land suffer under names as revolting, punished
through life, by the stupidity of parental love, for a slip of the
tongue in the cradle. Matilda got off easily in the matter of
nicknames, being called Mattie until she was pretty well grown, and
then having changed her name suddenly to Maud, for reasons to be given
hereafter.

She was a hearty, blowzy little girl. Her father delighted in her
coarse vigor and energy. She was not a pretty child, and had not a
particle of coquetry in her, apparently; she liked to play with the
boys when they would allow her, and never presumed upon her girlhood
for any favors in their rough sport; and good-natured as she was, she
was able to defend herself on occasion with tongue and fists. She was
so full of life and strength that, when she had no playing to do, she
took pleasure in helping her mother about her work. It warmed Saul
Matchin's heart to see the stout little figure sweeping or scrubbing.
She went to school but did not "learn enough to hurt her," as her
father said; and he used to think that here, at least, would be one
child who would be a comfort to his age. In fancy he saw her, in a neat
print dress and white cap, wielding a broom in one of those fine houses
he had helped to build, or coming home to keep house for him when her
mother should fail.

But one day her fate came to her in the shape of a new girl, who sat
near her on the school-bench. It was a slender, pasty young person, an
inch taller and a year or two older than Mattie, with yellow ringlets,
and more pale-blue ribbons on her white dress than poor Mattie had ever
seen before. She was a clean, cold, pale, and selfish little vixen,
whose dresses were never rumpled, and whose temper was never ruffled.
She had not blood enough in her veins to drive her to play or to anger.
But she seemed to poor Mattie the loveliest creature she had ever seen,
and our brown, hard-handed, blowzy tomboy became the pale fairy's
abject slave. Her first act of sovereignty was to change her vassal's
name.

"I don't like Mattie; it ain't a bit romantic. I had a friend in
Bucyrus whose name was Mattie, and she found out somehow--I believe the
teacher told her--that Queen Matilda and Queen Maud was the same thing
in England. So you're Maud!" and Maud she was henceforward, though her
tyrant made her spell it Maude. "It's more elegant with an _e_," she
said.

Maud was fourteen and her school-days were ending when she made this
new acquaintance. She formed for Azalea Windora one of those violent
idolatries peculiar to her sex and age, and in a fort-' night she
seemed a different person. Azalea was rather clever at her books, and
Maud dug at her lessons from morning till night to keep abreast of her.
Her idol was exquisitely neat in her dress, and Maud acquired, as if by
magic, a scrupulous care of her person. Azalea's blonde head was full
of pernicious sentimentality, though she was saved from actual
indiscretions by her cold and vaporous temperament. In dreams and
fancies, she was wooed and won a dozen times a day by splendid
cavaliers of every race and degree; and as she was thoroughly false and
vain, she detailed these airy adventures, part of which she had
imagined and part read in weekly story-papers, to her worshipper, who
listened with wide eyeballs, and a heart which was just beginning to
learn how to beat. She initiated Maud into that strange world of vulgar
and unhealthy sentiment found in the cheap weeklies which load every
news-stand in the country, and made her tenfold more the child of
dreams than herself.

Miss Windom remained but a few months at the common school, and then
left it for the high school. She told Maud one day of her intended
flitting, and was more astonished than pleased at the passion of grief
into which the announcement threw her friend. Maud clung to her with
sobs that would not be stilled, and with tears that reduced Miss
Azalea's dress to limp and moist wretchedness, but did not move the
vain heart beneath it. "I wonder if she knows," thought Azalea, "how
ugly she is when she bawls like that. Few brunettes can cry stylishly
anyhow." Still, she could not help feeling flattered by such devotion,
and she said, partly from a habit of careless kindness and partly to
rescue the rest of her raiment from the shower which had ruined her
neck-ribbon,--

"There, don't be heart-broken. You will be in the high school yourself
in no time."

Maud lifted up her eyes and her heart at these words.

"Yes, I will, darling!"

She had never thought of the high school before. She had always
expected to leave school that very season, and to go into service
somewhere. But from that moment she resolved that nothing should keep
her away from those walls that had suddenly become her Paradise.

Her mother was easily won over. She was a woman of weak will, more
afraid of her children than of her husband, a phenomenon of frequent
occurrence in that latitude. She therefore sided naturally with her
daughter in the contest which, when Maud announced her intention of
entering the high school, broke out in the house and raged fiercely
for some weeks. The poor woman had to bear the brunt of the battle
alone, for Matchin soon grew shy of disputing with his rebellious
child. She was growing rapidly and assuming that look of maturity which
comes so suddenly and so strangely to the notice of a parent. When he
attacked her one day with the brusque exclamation, "Well, Mattie,
what's all this blame foolishness your ma's being tellin' me ?" she
answered him with a cool decision and energy that startled and alarmed
him. She stood straight and terribly tall, he thought. She spoke with
that fluent clearness of girls who know what they want, and used words
he had never met with before out of a newspaper. He felt himself no
match for her, and ended the discussion by saying: "That's all
moonshine--you shan't go! D'ye hear me?" but he felt dismally sure that
she would go, in spite of him.

Even after he had given up the fight, he continued to revenge himself
upon his wife for his defeat. "We've got to have a set of gold spoons,
I guess. These will never do for highfliers like us." Or, "Drop in at
Swillem's and send home a few dozen champagne; I can't stummick such
common drink as coffee for breakfast." Or, "I must fix up and make some
calls on Algonkin Av'noo. Sence we've jined the Upper Ten, we mustn't
go back on Society." But this brute thunder had little effect on Mrs.
Matchin. She knew the storm was over when her good-natured lord tried
to be sarcastic.

It need hardly be said that Maud Matchin did not find the high school
all her heart desired. Her pale goddess had not enough substantial
character to hold her worshipper long. Besides, at fifteen, a young
girl's heart is as variable as her mind or her person; and a great
change was coming over the carpenter's daughter. She suddenly gained
her full growth; and after the first awkwardness of her tall stature
passed away, she began to delight in her own strength and beauty. Her
pride waked at the same time with her vanity, and she applied herself
closely to her books, so as to make a good appearance in her classes.
She became the friend instead of the vassal of Azalea, and by slow
degrees she found their positions reversed. Within a year, it seemed
perfectly natural to Maud that Azalea should do her errands and talk to
her about her eyes; and Miss Windom found her little airs of
superiority of no avail in face of the girl who had grown prettier,
cleverer, and taller than herself. It made no difference that Maud was
still a vulgar and ignorant girl--for Azalea was not the person to
perceive or appreciate these defects. She saw her, with mute wonder,
blooming out before her very eyes, from a stout, stocky, frowzy child,
with coarse red cheeks and knuckles like a bootblack, into a tall,
slender girl, whose oval face was as regular as a conic section, and
whose movements were as swift, strong, and graceful, when she forgot
herself, as those of a race-horse. There were still the ties of habit
and romance between them. Azalea, whose brother was a train-boy on the
Lake Shore road, had a constant supply of light literature, which the
girls devoured in the long intervals of their studies. But even the
romance of Miss Matchin had undergone a change. While Azalea still
dreamed of dark-eyed princes, lords of tropical islands, and fierce and
tender warriors who should shoot for her the mountain eagle for his
plumes, listen with her to the bulbul's song in valleys of roses, or
hew out a throne for her in some vague and ungeographical empire, the
reveries of Miss Maud grew more and more mundane and reasonable. She
was too strong and well to dream much; her only visions were of a rich
man who should love her for her fine eyes. She would meet him in some
simple and casual way; he would fall in love at sight, and speedily
prosper in his wooing; they would be married,--privately, for Maud
blushed and burned to think of her home at such times,--and then they
would go to New York to live. She never wasted conjecture on the age,
the looks, the manner of being of this possible hero. Her mind
intoxicated itself with the thought of his wealth. She went one day to
the Public Library to read the articles on Rothschild and Astor in the
encyclopedias. She even tried to read the editorial articles on gold
and silver in the Ohio papers.

She delighted in the New York society journals. She would pore for
hours over those wonderful columns which described the weddings and the
receptions of rich tobacconists and stock-brokers, with lists of names
which she read with infinite gusto. At first, all the names were the
same to her, all equally worshipful and happy in being printed, black
on white, in the reports of these upper-worldly banquets. But after a
while her sharp intelligence began to distinguish the grades of our
republican aristocracy, and she would skip the long rolls of obscure
guests who figured at the: "coming-out parties" of thrifty shop-keepers
of fashionable ambition, to revel among the genuine swells whose
fathers were shop-keepers. The reports of the battles of the Polo Club
filled her with a sweet intoxication. She knew the names of the
combatants by heart, and had her own opinion as to the comparative
eligibility of Billy Buglass and Tim Blanket, the young men most in
view at that time in the clubs of the metropolis.

Her mind was too much filled with interests of this kind to leave any
great room for her studies. She had pride enough to hold her place in
her classes, and that was all. She learned a little music, a little
drawing, a little Latin, and a little French--the French of
"Stratford-atte-Bowe," for French of Paris was not easy of attainment
at Buffland. This language had an especial charm for her, as it
seemed a connecting link with that elysium of fashion of which her
dreams were full. She once went to the library and asked for "a nice
French book." They gave her "La Petite Fadette." She had read of
George Sand in newspapers, which had called her a "corrupter of
youth." She hurried home with her book, eager to test its corrupting
qualities, and when, with locked doors and infinite labor, she had
managed to read it, she was greatly disappointed at finding in it
nothing to admire and nothing to shudder at. "How could such a smart
woman as that waste her time writing about a lot of peasants, poor as
crows, the whole lot!" was her final indignant comment.

By the time she left the school her life had become almost as solitary
as that of the bat in the fable, alien both to bird and beast. She made
no intimate acquaintances there; her sordid and selfish dreams occupied
her too completely. Girls who admired her beauty were repelled by her
heartlessness, which they felt, but could not clearly define. Even
Azalea fell away from her, having found a stout and bald-headed railway
conductor, whose adoration made amends for his lack of romance. Maud
knew she was not liked in the school, and being, of course, unable to
attribute it to any fault of her own, she ascribed it to the fact that
her father was a mechanic and poor. This thought did not tend to make
her home happier. She passed much of her time in her own bedroom,
looking out of her window on the lake, weaving visions of ignoble
wealth and fashion out of the mists of the morning sky and the purple
and gold that made the north-west glorious at sunset. When she sat with
her parents in the evening, she rarely spoke. If she was not gazing in
the fire, with hard bright eyes and lips, in which there was only the
softness of youth, but no tender tremor of girlhood's dreams, she was
reading her papers or her novels with rapt attention. Her mother was
proud of her beauty and her supposed learning, and loved, when she
looked up from her work, to let her eyes rest upon her tall and
handsome child, whose cheeks were flushed with eager interest as she
bent her graceful head over her book. But Saul Matchin nourished a
vague anger and jealousy against her. He felt that his love was nothing
to her; that she was too pretty and too clever to be at home in his
poor house; and yet he dared not either reproach her or appeal to her
affections. His heart would fill with grief and bitterness as he gazed
at her devouring the brilliant pages of some novel of what she imagined
high life, unconscious of his glance, which would travel from her
neatly shod feet up to her hair, frizzed and banged down to her
eyebrows, "making her look," he thought, "more like a Scotch poodle-dog
than an honest girl." He hated those books which, he fancied, stole
away her heart from her home. He had once picked up one of them where
she had left it; but the high-flown style seemed as senseless to him as
the words of an incantation, and he had flung it down more bewildered
than ever. He thought there must be some strange difference between
their minds when she could delight in what seemed so uncanny to him,
and he gazed at her, reading by the lamp-light, as over a great gulf.
Even her hands holding the book made him uneasy; for since she had
grown careful of them, they were like no hands he had ever seen on any
of his kith and kin. The fingers were long and white, and the nails
were shaped like an almond, and though the hands lacked delicacy at the
articulations, they almost made Matchin reverence his daughter as his
superior, as he looked at his own.

One evening, irritated by the silence and his own thoughts, he cried
out with a sudden suspicion:

"Where do you git all them books, and what do they cost?"

She turned her fine eyes slowly upon him and said:

"I get them from the public library, and they cost nothing."

He felt deeply humiliated that he should have made a blunder so
ridiculous and so unnecessary.

After she had left the school--where she was graduated as near as
possible to the foot of the class--she was almost alone in the world.
She rarely visited her sister, for the penury of the Wixham household
grated upon her nerves, and she was not polite enough to repress her
disgust at the affectionate demonstrations of the Wixham babies.
"There, there! get along, you'll leave me not fit to be seen!" she
would say, and Jurilda would answer in that vicious whine of
light-haired women, too early overworked and overprolific: "Yes,
honey, let your aunt alone. She's too tiffy for poor folks like us";
and Maud would go home, loathing her lineage.

The girls she had known in her own quarter were by this time earning
their own living: some in the manufactories, in the lighter forms of
the iron trade, some in shops, and a few in domestic service. These
last were very few, for the American blood revolts against this easiest
and best-paid of all occupations, and leaves it to more sensible
foreigners. The working bees were clearly no company for this poor
would-be butterfly. They barely spoke when they met, kept asunder by a
mutual embarrassment. One girl with whom she had played as a child had
early taken to evil courses. Her she met one day in the street, and the
bedraggled and painted creature called her by her name.

"How dare you?" said Maud, shocked and frightened.

"All right!" said the shameless woman. "You looked so gay, I didn't
know."

Maud, as she walked away, hardly knew whether to be pleased or not.
"She saw I looked like a lady, and thought I could not be one honestly.
I'll show them!"

She knew as few men as women. She sometimes went to the social
gatherings affected by her father's friends, Odd Fellows' and Druids'
balls and the festivities with which the firemen refreshed themselves
after their toils and dangers. But her undeniable beauty gained her no
success. She seemed to take pains to avoid pleasing the young
carpenters, coachmen, and journeyman printers she met on these
occasions. With her head full of fantastic dreams, she imagined
herself a mere visitor at these simple entertainments of the common
people, and criticised the participants to herself with kindly sarcasm.
If she ever consented to dance, it was with the air with which she
fancied a duchess might open a ball of her servants. Once, in a round
game at a "surprise" party, it came her turn to be kissed by a young
blacksmith, who did his duty in spite of her struggles with strong arms
and a willing heart. Mr. Browning makes a certain queen, mourning over
her lofty loneliness, wish that some common soldier would throw down
his halberd and clasp her to his heart. It is doubtful if she would
really have liked it better than Miss Maud did, and she was furious as
a young lioness. She made herself so disagreeable about it that she
ceased to be invited to those lively entertainments; and some of the
most eligible of the young "Cariboos"--a social order of a secret and
mysterious rite, which met once a week in convenient woodsheds and
stable-lofts--took an oath with hands solemnly clasped in the intricate
grip of the order, that "they would never ask Miss Matchin to go to
party, picnic, or sleigh-ride, as long as the stars gemmed the blue
vault of heaven," from which it may be seen that the finer sentiments
of humanity were not unknown to the Cariboos.

Maud came thus to be eighteen, and though she was so beautiful and so
shapely that no stranger ever saw her without an instant of glad
admiration, she had had no suitor but one, and from him she never
allowed a word of devotion. Samuel Sleeny, a carpenter who worked with
her father, and who took his meals with the family, had fallen in love
with her at first sight, and, after a year of dumb hopelessness, had
been so encouraged by her father's evident regard that he had opened
his heart to Saul and had asked his mediation. Matchin undertook the
task with pleasure. Pie could have closed his eyes in peace if he had
seen his daughter married to so decent a man and so good a joiner as
Sleeny. But the interview was short and painful to Matchin. He left his
daughter in possession of the field, and went to walk by the lake shore
to recover his self-possession, which had given way beneath her firm
will and smiling scorn. When he returned to the shop Sleeny was there,
sitting on a bench and chewing pine shavings.

"What did she say?" asked the young fellow. "But never mind--I see
plain enough it's no use. She's too good for me, and she knows it."

"Too good!" roared Saul. "She's the golderndest----"

"Hold on there," said Sleeny. "Don't say nothin' you'll have to take
back. Ef you say anything ag'in her, you'll have to swaller it, or whip
me."

Saul looked at him with amazement.

"Well! you beat me, the pair of you! You're crazy to want her, and
she's crazy not to want you. She liked to a' bit my head off for
perposin' you, and you want to lick me for calling her a fool."

"She ain't no fool," said Sleeny with sullen resignation; "she knows
what she's about," and lie picked up another shaving and ruminated upon
it.

The old man walked to and fro, fidgeting with his tools. At last he
came back to the young man and said, awkwardly dusting the bench with
his hand:

"Sam, you wasn't 'lowin' to leave along o' this here foolishness?"

"That's just what I was 'lowin' to do, sir."

"Don't you be a dern fool, Sam!" and Saul followed up this judicious
exhortation with such cogent reasons that poor Sleeny was glad to be
persuaded that his chance was not over yet, and that he would much
better stay where he was.

"How'll _she_ like it?"

"Oh! it won't make a mite o' difference to her," said the old man
airily, and poor Sam felt in his despondent heart that it would not.

He remained and became like the least of her servants. She valued his
attachment much as a planter valued the affection of his slaves,
knowing they would work the better for it. He did all her errands;
fetched and carried for her; took her to church on evenings when she
did not care to stay at home. One of the few amusements Saul Matchin
indulged in was that of attending spiritualist lectures and seances,
whenever a noted medium visited the place. Saul had been an unbeliever
in his youth, and this grotesque superstition had rushed in at the
first opportunity to fill the vacuum of faith in his mind. He had never
succeeded, however, in thoroughly indoctrinating his daughter. She
regarded her father's religion with the same contempt she bestowed upon
the other vulgar and narrow circumstances of her lot in life, and so
had preferred her mother's sober Presbyterianism to the new and raw
creed of her sire. But one evening, when she was goaded by more than
usual restlessness, Sleeny asked her if she would go with him to a
"sperritual lectur." To escape from her own society, she accepted, and
the wild, incoherent, and amazingly fluent address she heard excited
her interest and admiration. After that, she often asked him to take
her, and in the long walk to and from the Harmony Hall, where the
long-haired brotherhood held their sessions, a sort of confidential
relation grew up between them, which meant nothing to Maud, but bound
the heart of Sleeny in chains of iron. Yet he never dared say a word of
the feeling that was consuming him. He feared he should lose her
forever, if he opened his lips.

Of course, she was not at ease in this life of dreamy idleness. It did
not need the taunts of her father to convince her that she ought to be
doing something for herself. Her millionaire would never come down to
the little house on Dean Street to find her, and she had conscience
enough to feel that she ought to earn her own clothes. She tried to
make use of the accomplishments she had learned at school, but was
astonished to find how useless they were. She made several attempts to
be a teacher, but it was soon found that her high-school diploma
covered a world of ignorance, and no board, however indulgent, would
accept her services. She got a box of colors, and spoiled many fans and
disfigured many pots by decorations which made the eyes of the beholder
ache; nobody would buy them, and poor Maud had no acquaintances to whom
she might give them away. So they encumbered the mantels and tables of
her home, adding a new tedium to the unhappy household. She answered
the advertisements of several publishing companies, and obtained
agencies for the sale of subscription books. But her face was not hard
enough for this work. She was not fluent enough to persuade the
undecided, and she was too proud to sue _in forma pauperis_; she had
not the precious gift of tears, by which the travelling she-merchant
sells so many worthless wares. The few commissions she gained hardly
paid for the wear and tear of her high-heeled boots.

One day at the public library she was returning a novel she had read,
when a gentleman came out of an inner room and paused to speak to the
librarian's assistant, with whom Maud was at the moment occupied--a
girl whom she had known at school, and with whom she had renewed
acquaintance in this way. It was about a matter of the administration
of the library, and only a few words were exchanged. He then bowed to
both the ladies, and went out.

"Who was that?" Maud asked.

"Don't you know?" rejoined the other. "I thought everybody knew the
elegant Captain Farnham. He is president of our board, you know, and he
is just lovely. I always manage to stop him as he leaves a board
meeting and get a word or two out of him. It's worth the trouble if I
only get a bow."

"I should think so," assented Maud. "He is as sweet as a peach. Is
there any chance of getting one of those places? I should like to
divide those bows with you."

"That would be perfectly splendid," said her friend, who was a
good-natured girl. "Come, I will introduce you to the old Doctor
now."

And in a moment Maud was in the presence of the librarian.

She entered at a fortunate moment. Dr. Buchlieber was a near-sighted
old gentleman who read without glasses, but could see nothing six feet
away. He usually received and dismissed his visitors without bothering
himself to discover or imagine what manner of people they were. "I do
not care how they look," he would say. "They probably look as they
talk, without form and void." But at the moment when Maud entered his
little room, he had put on his lenses to look out of the window, and he
turned to see a perfect form in a closely fit ting dress, and a face
pretty enough to look on with a critical pleasure. He received her
kindly, and encouraged her to hope for an appointment, and it was in
accordance with his suggestion that she called upon Farnham, as we have
related.

She did not go immediately. She took several days to prepare what she
called "a harness" of sufficient splendor, and while she was at work
upon it she thought of many things. She was not even yet quite sure
that she wanted a place in the library. The Doctor had been very kind,
but he had given her clearly to understand that the work required of
her would be severe, and the pay very light. She had for a long time
thought of trying to obtain a clerkship at Washington,--perhaps Farnham
would help her to that,--and her mind wandered off among the
possibilities of chance acquaintance with bachelor senators and
diplomats. But the more she thought of the coming interview, the more
her mind dwelt upon the man himself whom she was going to see--his bow
and his smile, his teeth and his mustache, and the perfect fit of his
clothes. One point in regard to him was still vague in her mind, and as
to that her doubts were soon resolved. One evening she said to her
father:

"Did you ever see Captain Farnham?"

"Now, what a foolish question that is I'd like to know who built his
greenhouses, ef I didn't?"

"He is pretty well off, ain't he?"

Saul laughed with that satisfied arrogance of ignorant men when they
are asked a question they can answer easily.

"I rather guess he is; that is, ef you call three, four, five millions
well off. I don't know how it strikes you" (with a withering sarcasm),
"but _I_ call Arthur Farnham pretty well fixed."

These words ran in Maud's brain with a ravishing sound. She built upon
them a fantastic palace of mist and cloud. When at last her dress was
finished and she started, after three unsuccessful attempts, to walk to
Algonquin Avenue, she was in no condition to do herself simple justice.
She hardly knew whether she wanted a place in the library, a clerkship
at Washington, or the post of amanuensis to the young millionaire. She
was confused by his reception of her; his good-natured irony made her
feel ill at ease; she was nervous and flurried; and she felt, as she
walked away, that the battle had gone against her.



III.


THE WIDOW AND HER DAUGHTER.


Mrs. Belding's house was next to that of Mr. Farnham, and the
neighborly custom of Algonquin Avenue was to build no middle walls of
partition between adjoining lawns. A minute's walk, therefore, brought
the young man to the door of Mrs. Belding's cottage. She called it a
cottage, and so we have no excuse for calling it anything else, though
it was a big three-storied house, built of the soft creamy stone of the
Buffland quarries, and it owed its modest name to an impression in the
lady's mind that gothic gables and dormer windows were a necessary
adjunct of cottages. She was a happy woman, though she would have been
greatly surprised to hear herself so described. She had not been out of
mourning since she was a young girl. Her parents, as she sometimes
said, "had put her into black"; and several children had died in
infancy, one after the other, until at last her husband, Jairus
Belding, the famous bridge-builder, had perished of a malarial fever
caught in the swamps of the Wabash, and left her with one daughter and
a large tin box full of good securities. She never afterward altered
the style of her dress, and she took much comfort in feeling free from
all further allegiance to milliners. In fact, she had a nature which
was predisposed to comfort. She had been fond of her husband, but she
had been a little afraid of him, and, when she had wept her grief into
tranquillity, she felt a certain satisfaction in finding herself the
absolute mistress of her income and her bedroom. Her wealth made her
the object of matrimonial ambition once or twice, and she had
sufficient beauty to flatter herself that she was loved more for her
eyes than her money; but she refused her suitors with an indolent
good-nature that did not trouble itself with inquiries as to their
sincerity. "I have been married once, thank you, and that is enough";
this she said simply without sighing or tears. Perhaps the unlucky
aspirant might infer that her heart was buried in the grave of Jairus.
But the sober fact was that she liked her breakfast at her own hours.
Attached to the spacious sleeping-room occupied in joint tenancy by
herself and the bridge-builder were two capacious closets. After the
funeral of Mr. Belding, she took possession of both of them, hanging
her winter wardrobe in one and her summer raiment in the other, and
she had never met a man so fascinating as to tempt her to give up to
him one of these rooms.

She was by no means a fool. Like many easy-going women, she had an
enlightened selfishness which prompted her to take excellent care of
her affairs. As long as old Mr. Farnham lived, she took his advice
implicitly in regard to her investments, and after his death she
transferred the same unquestioning confidence to his grandson and heir,
although he was much younger than herself and comparatively
inexperienced in money matters. It seemed to her only natural that some
of the Farnham wisdom should have descended with the Farnham millions.
There was a grain of good sense in this reasoning, founded as it was
upon her knowledge of Arthur's good qualities; for upon a man who is
neither a sot nor a gambler the possession of great wealth almost
always exercises a sobering and educating influence. So, whenever Mrs.
Belding was in doubt in any matter of money, she asked Arthur to dine
with her, and settle the vexing questions somewhere between the soup
and the coffee. It was a neighborly service, freely asked and willingly
rendered.

As Farnham entered the widow's cosey library, he saw a lady sitting by
the fire whom he took to be Mrs. Belding; but as she rose and made a
step toward him, he discovered that she was not in mourning. The quick
twilight was thickening into night, and the rich glow of the naming
coal in the grate, deepening the shadows in the room, while it
prevented him from distinguishing the features of her face, showed him
a large full form with a grace of movement which had something even of
majesty in it.

"I see you have forgotten me," said a voice as rich and full as the
form from which it came. "I am Alice Belding."

"Of course you are, and you have grown as big and beautiful as you
threatened to," said Farnham, taking both the young girl's hands in
his, and turning until she faced the fire-light. It was certainly a
bonny face which the red light shone upon, and quite uncommon in its
beauty. The outline was very pure and noble; the eyes were dark-brown
and the hair was of tawny gold, but the complexion was of that clear
and healthy pallor so rarely met with among blonde women. The finest
thing about her face was its expression of perfect serenity. Even now,
as she stood looking at Farnham, with her hands in his, her cheek
flushed a little with the evident pleasure of the meeting, she received
his gaze of unchecked admiration with a smile as quiet and unabashed as
that of a mother greeting a child.

"Well, well!" said Farnham, as they seated themselves, "how long has it
taken you to grow to that stature? When did I see you last?"

"Two years ago," she answered, in that rich and gentle tone which was a
delight to the ear. "I was at home last summer, but you were away--in
Germany, I think."

"Yes, and we looked for you in vain at Christmases and Thanksgivings."

"Mamma came so often to New York that there seemed no real necessity of
my coming home until I came for good. I had so much to learn, you know.
I was quite old and very ignorant when I started away."

"And you have come back quite young and very learned, I dare say."

She laughed a little, and her clear and quiet laugh was as pleasant as
her speech.

Mrs. Belding came in with gliding footsteps and cap-strings gently
fluttering.

"Why, you are all in the dark! Arthur, will you please light that
burner nearest you?"

In the bright light Miss Alice looked prettier than ever; the jet of
gas above her tinged her crisp hair with a lustre of twisted gold wire
and threw tangled shadows upon her low smooth forehead.

"We have to thank Madame de Veaudrey for sending us back a fine young
woman," said Farnham.

"Yes, she _is_ improved," the widow assented calmly. "I must show you
the letter Madame de Veaudrey wrote me. Alice is first in languages,
first----"

"In peace, and first in the hearts of her countrywomen," interrupted
Miss Alice, not smartly, but with smiling firmness. "Let Mr. Farnham
take the rest of my qualities for granted, please."

"There will be time enough for you two to get acquainted. But this
evening I wanted to talk to you about something more important. The
'Tribune' money article says the Dan and Beersheba Railroad is not
really earning its dividends. What am I to do about that, I should like
to know?"

"Draw your dividends, with a mind conscious of rectitude, though the
directors rage and the 'Tribune' imagine a vain thing," Farnham
answered, and the talk was of stocks and bonds for an hour afterward.

When dinner was over, the three were seated again in the library. The
financial conversation had run its course, and had perished amid the
arid sands of reference to the hard times and the gloomy prospects of
real estate. Miss Alice, who took no part in the discussion, was
reading the evening paper, and Farnham was gratifying his eyes by
gazing at the perfect outline of her face, the rippled hair over the
straight brows, and the stout braids that hung close to the graceful
neck in the fashion affected by school-girls at that time.

A servant entered and handed a card to Alice. She looked at it and
passed it to her mother.

"It is Mr. Furrey," said the widow. "He has called upon _you_."

"I suppose he may come in here?" Alice said, without rising.

Her mother looked at her with a mute inquiry, but answered in an
instant, "Certainly."

When Mr. Furrey entered, he walked past Mrs. Belding to greet her
daughter, with profuse expressions of delight at her return, "of which
he had just heard this afternoon at the bank; and although he was going
to a party this evening, he could not help stopping in to welcome her
home." Miss Alice said "Thank you," and Mr. Furrey turned to shake
hands with her mother.

"You know my friend Mr. Farnham?"

"Yes, ma'am--that is, I see him often at the bank, but I am glad to owe
the pleasure of his acquaintance to you."

The men shook hands. Mr. Furrey bowed a little more deeply than was
absolutely required. He then seated himself near Miss Alice and began
talking volubly to her about New York. He was a young man of medium
size, dressed with that exaggeration of the prevailing mode which seems
necessary to provincial youth. His short fair hair was drenched with
pomatum and plastered close to his head. His white cravat was tied with
mathematical precision, and his shirt-collar was like a wall of white
enamel from his shoulders to his ears. He wore white kid gloves, which
he secured from spot or blemish as much as possible by keeping the tips
of the fingers pressed against each other. His speech was quicker than
is customary with Western people, but he had their flat monotone and
their uncompromising treatment of the letter R.

Mrs. Belding crossed over to where Farnham was seated and began a
conversation with him in an undertone.

"You think her really improved?"

"In every way. She has the beauty and stature of a Brunhild; she
carries herself like a duchess, I was going to say--but the only
duchess I ever knew was at Schwalbach, and she was carried in a wicker
hand-cart. But mademoiselle is lovely, and she speaks very pretty
English; and knows how to wear her hair, and will be a great comfort to
you, if you can keep the boys at bay for awhile."

"No danger there, I imagine; she will keep them at bay herself. Did you
notice just now? Mr. Furrey called especially to see her. He was quite
attentive to her last summer. Instead of going to the drawing-room to
see him, she wants him to come in here, where he is in our way and we
are in his. That is one of Madame de Veaudrey's notions."

"I should fancy it was," said Farnham, dryly; "I have heard her spoken
of as a lady of excellent principles and manners."

"Now you are going to side against me, are you? I do not believe in
importing these European ideas of surveillance into free America. I
have confidence in American girls."

"But see where your theories lead you. In Algonquin Avenue, the young
ladies are to occupy the drawing-room, while the parents make
themselves comfortable in the library. But the houses in Dean Street
are not so spacious. Most citizens in that quarter have only two rooms
below stairs. I understand the etiquette prevailing there is for
parents, when their daughters receive calls, to spend the evening in
the kitchen."

"Oh, dear! I see I'm to get no help from you. That's just the way Alice
talks. When she came home to-day, there were several invitations for
her, and some notes from young gentlemen offering their escort. She
told me in that quiet way of hers, that reminds me of Mr. Belding when
he was dangerous, that she would be happy to go with me when I cared to
go, and happy to stay at home if I stayed. So I imagine I am booked for
a gay season."

"Which I am sure you will greatly enjoy. But this Madame de Veaudrey
must be a sensible woman."

"Because I disagree with her? I am greatly obliged. But she is a saint,
although you admire her," pursued the good-tempered woman. "She was a
Hamilton, you know, and married Veaudrey, who was secretary of legation
in Washington. He was afterward minister in Sweden, and died there. She
was returning to this country with her three girls, and was shipwrecked
and they all three perished. She was picked up unconscious and
recovered only after a long illness. Since then she has gone very
little into the world, but has devoted herself to the education of
young ladies. She never has more than three or four at a time, and
these she selects herself. Alice had heard of her from Mrs. Bowman, and
we ventured to write to ask admission to her household, and our request
was civilly but peremptorily declined. This was while we were in New
York two years ago. But a few days afterward we were at church with
Mrs. Bowman, and Madame de Veaudrey saw us. She called the next day
upon Mrs. Bowman and inquired who we were, and then came to me and
begged to withdraw her letter, and to take Alice at once under her
charge. It seems that Alice resembled one of her daughters--at all
events, she was completely fascinated by her, and Alice soon came to
regard her in return as the loveliest of created beings. I must admit I
found her a little still--though she _was_ lovely. But still, I cannot
help being afraid that she has made Alice a little to particular; you
know the young gentlemen don't like a girl to be too stiff."

Farnham felt his heart grow hot with something like scorn for the
worthy woman, as she prattled on in this way. He could hardly trust
himself to reply and soon took his leave. Alice rose and gave him her
hand with frank and winning cordiality. As he felt the warm soft
pressure of her strong fingers, and the honest glance of her wide young
eyes, his irritation died away for a moment, but soon came back with
double force.

"Gracious heavens!" he exclaimed, as he closed the door behind him, and
stepped into the clear spring starlight, hardly broken as yet by the
budding branches of the elms and limes. "What a crazy woman that mother
is! Her daughter has come home to her a splendid white swan, and she is
waddling and quacking about with anxiety and fear lest the little male
ducklings that frequent the pond should find her too white and too
stately."

Instead of walking home he turned up the long avenue, and went rapidly
on, spurred by his angry thoughts.

"What will become of that beautiful girl? She cannot hold out forever
against the universal custom. She will be led by her friends and pushed
by her mother, until she drops to the level of the rest and becomes a
romping flirt; she will go to parties with young Furrey, and to church
with young Snevel. I shall see her tramping the streets with one, and
waltzing all night with another, and sitting on the stairs with a
third. She is too pretty to be let alone, and her mother is against
her. She is young and the force of nature is strong, and women are born
for sacrifice--she will marry one of these young shrimps, and do her
duty in the sphere whereto she has been called."

At this thought so sharp a pang of disgust shot through him, that he
started with surprise.

"Oh, no, this is not jealousy; it is a protest against what is probable
in the name of the eternal fitness of things."

Nevertheless, he went on thinking very disagreeably about Mr. Furrey.

"How can a nice girl endure a fellow who pomatums his hair in that
fashion, and sounds his R's in that way, and talks about Theedore
Thommus and Cinsunnatta? Still, they do it, and Providence must be on
the side of that sort of men. But what business is all this of mine? I
have half a mind to go to Europe again."

He stopped, lighted a cigar, and walked briskly homeward. As he passed
by the Belding cottage, he saw that the lower story was in darkness,
and in the windows above the light was glowing behind the shades.

"So Furrey is gone, and the tired young traveller is going early to
rest."

He went into his library and sat down by the dying embers of the grate.
His mind had been full of Alice and her prospects during his long walk
in the moonlight; and now as he sat there, the image of Maud Matchin
suddenly obtruded itself upon him, and he began to compare and contrast
the two girls, both so beautiful and so utterly unlike; and then his
thoughts shifted all at once back to his own early life. He thought of
his childhood, of his parents removed from him so early that their
memory was scarcely more than a dream; he wondered what life would have
been to him if they had been spared. Then his school-days came up
before him; his journey to France with his grandfather; his studies at
St. Cyr; his return to America during the great war, his enlistment as
a private in the regular cavalry, his promotion to a lieutenancy three
days afterward, his service through the terrible campaign of the
Peninsula, his wounds at Gettysburg, and at last the grand review of
the veterans in front of the White House when the war was over.

But this swift and brilliant panorama did not long delay his musing
fancy. A dull smart like that of a healing wound drew his mind to a
succession of scenes on the frontier. He dwelt with that strange
fascination which belongs to the memory of hardships--and which we are
all too apt to mistake for regret--upon his life of toil and danger in
the wide desolation of the West. There he met, one horrible winter, the
sister-in-law of a brother captain, a tall, languid, ill-nourished girl
of mature years, with tender blue eyes and a taste for Byron. She had
no home and no relatives in the world except her sister, Mrs. Keefe,
whom she had followed into the wilderness. She was a heavy burden on
the scanty resources of poor Keefe, but he made her cordially welcome
like the hearty soldier that he was. She was the only unmarried white
woman within a hundred miles, and the mercury ranged from zero to -20
degrees all winter. In the spring, she and Farnham were married; he
seemed to  have lost the sense of there being any other women in the
world, and he took her, as one instinctively takes to dinner the last
lady remaining in a drawing-room, without special orders. He had had
the consolation of reflecting that he made her perfectly proud and
happy every day of her life that was left. Before the autumn ended,
she died, on a forced march one day, when the air was glittering with
alkali, and the fierce sun seemed to wither the dismal plain like the
vengeance of heaven. Though Farnham was even then one of the richest
men in the army, so rigid are the rules imposed upon our service, by
the economy of an ignorant demagogy, that no transportation could be
had to supply this sick lady with the ordinary conveniences of life,
and she died in his arms, on the hot prairie, in the shade of an
overloaded baggage wagon. He mourned her with the passing grief one
gives to a comrade fallen on the field of honor. Often since he left
the army, he reproached himself for not have grieved for her more
deeply. "Poor Nellie," he would sometimes say, "how she would have
enjoyed this house, if she had lived to possess it." But he never had
that feeling of widowhood known to those whose lives have been torn
in two.



IV.


PROTECTOR AND PROTEGEE.


A few days later, Mr. Farnham attended a meeting of the library board,
and presented the name of Miss Matchin as a candidate for a subordinate
place in the library. There were several such positions, requiring no
special education or training, the duties of which could be as well
filled by Miss Maud as by any one else. She had sent several strong
letters of recommendation to the board, from prominent citizens who
knew and respected her father, for when Maud informed him of her new
ambition, Matchin entered heartily into the affair, and bestirred
himself to use what credit he had in the ward to assist her.

Maud had not exaggerated the effect of her blandishments upon Dr.
Buchlieber. The old gentleman spoke in her favor with great fluency;
"she was young, healthy, active, intelligent, a graduate of the high
school."

"And very pretty, is she not?" asked a member of the board,
maliciously.

The Doctor colored, but was not abashed. He gazed steadily at the
interrupter through his round glasses, and said:

"Yes, she is very fine looking--but I do not see that that should stand
in her way."

Not another word was said against her, and a ballot was taken to decide
the question. There were five members of the board, three besides
Farnham and Buchlieber. Maud had two votes, and a young woman whose
name had not been mentioned received the other three. Buchlieber
counted the ballots, and announced the vote. Farnham flushed with
anger. Not only had no attention been paid to his recommendation, but
he had not even been informed that there was another candidate. In a
few sarcastic words he referred to the furtive understanding existing
among the majority, and apologized for having made such a mistake as to
suppose they cared to hear the merits of appointees discussed.

The three colleagues sat silent. At last, one of them crossed his legs
anew and said:

"I'm sure nobody meant any offence. We agreed on this lady several days
ago. I know nothing about her, but her father used to be one of our
best workers in the seventh ward. He is in the penitentiary now, and
the family is about down to bedrock. The reason we didn't take part in
the discussion was we wanted to avoid hard feelings."

The other two crossed their legs the other way, and said they
"concurred."

Their immovable phlegm, their long, expressionless faces, the dull,
monotonous twang of their voices, the oscillation of the three large
feet hung over the bony knees had now, as often before, a singular
effect upon Farnham's irritation. He felt he could not irritate them in
return; they could not appreciate his motives, and thought too little
of his opinion to be angry at his contempt. He was thrown back upon
himself now as before. It was purely a matter of conscience whether he
should stay and do what good he could, or resign and shake the dust of
the city hall from his feet. Whatever he recommended in regard to the
administration of the library was always adopted without comment; but,
whenever a question of the sort which the three politicians called
"practical" arose, involving personal patronage in any form, they
always arranged it for themselves, without even pretending to ask his
or Buchlieber's opinion.

The very fact of his holding the position of chairman of the board was
wounding to his self-love, as soon as he began to appreciate the
purpose with which the place had been given him. He and some of his
friends had attempted a movement the year before, to rescue the city
from the control of what they considered a corrupt combination of
politicians. They had begun, as such men always do, too late, and
without any adequate organization, and the regular workers had beaten
them with ridiculous ease. In Farnham's own ward, where he possessed
two thirds of the real estate, the candidates favored by him and his
friends received not quite one tenth of the votes cast. The loader of
the opposing forces was a butcher, one Jacob Metzger, who had managed
the politics of the ward for years. He was not a bad man so far as his
lights extended. He sold meat on business principles, so as to get the
most out of a carcass; and he conducted his political operations in the
same way. He made his bargains with aspirants and office-holders, and
kept them religiously. He had been a little alarmed at the sudden
irruption of such men as Farnham and his associates into the field of
ward politics; he dreaded the combined effect of their money and their
influence. But he soon found he had nothing to fear--they would not use
their money, and they did not know how to use their influence. They
hired halls, opened committee-rooms, made speeches, and thundered
against municipal iniquities in the daily press; but Jacob Metzger,
when he discovered that this was all, possessed his soul in peace, and
even got a good deal of quiet fun out of the canvass. He did not take
the trouble to be angry at the men who were denouncing him, and
supplied Farnham with beefsteaks unusually tender and juicy, while the
young reformer was seeking his political life.

"Lord love you," he said to Budsey, as he handed him a delicious
rib-roast the day before election. "There's nothing I like so much as
to see young men o' property go into politics. We need 'em. Of course,
I wisht the Cap'n was on my side; but anyhow, I'm glad to see him
takin' an interest."

He knew well enough the way the votes would run; that every grog-shop
in the ward was his recruiting station; that all Farnham's tenants
would vote against their landlord; that even the respectable Budsey and
the prim Scotch gardener were sure for him against their employer.
Farnham's conscience which had roused him to this effort against
Metzger's corrupt rule, would not permit him to ask for the votes of
his own servants and tenants, and he would have regarded it as simply
infamous to spend money to secure the floating crowd of publicans and
sinners who formed the strength of Jacob.

His failure was so complete and unexpected that there seemed to him
something of degradation in it, and in a fit of uncontrollable disgust
he sailed for Europe the week afterward. Metzger took his victory
good-naturedly as a matter of course, and gave his explanation of it
to a reporter of the "Bale-Fire" who called to interview him.

"Mr. Farnham, who led the opposition to our organize-ation, is a young
gen'l'man of fine talents and high character. I ain't got a word to say
against him. The only trouble is, he lacks practical experience, and he
ain't got no pers'nal magn'tism. Now I'm one of the people, I know what
they want, and on that line I carried the ward against a combine-ation
of all the wealth and aristocracy of Algonkin Av'noo."

Jacob's magnanimity did not rest with merely a verbal acknowledgment of
Farnham's merits. While he was abroad some of the city departments were
reorganized, and Farnham on his return found himself, through Metzger's
intervention, chairman of the library board. With characteristic
sagacity the butcher kept himself in the background, and the committee
who waited upon Farnham to ask him to accept the appointment placed it
entirely upon considerations of the public good. His sensitive
conscience would not permit him to refuse a duty thus imposed, and so
with many inward qualms he assumed a chair in the vile municipal
government he had so signally failed to overthrow. He had not long
occupied it, when he saw to what his selection was attributable. He was
a figure-head and he knew it, but he saw no decent escape from the
position. As long as they allowed him and the librarian (who was also a
member of the board) to regulate the library to their liking, he could
not inquire into their motives or decline association with them. He was
perfectly free to furnish what mental food he chose to two hundred
thousand people, and he felt it would be cowardice to surrender that
important duty on any pitiful question of patronage or personal
susceptibility.

So once more he stifled the impulse to resign his post, and the meeting
adjourned without further incident. As he walked home, he was conscious
of a disagreeable foreboding of something in the future which he would
like to avoid. Bringing his mind to bear upon it, it resolved itself
into nothing more formidable than the coming interview with Miss
Matchin. It would certainly be unpleasant to tell her that her hopes
were frustrated, when she had seemed so confident. At this thought, he
felt the awakening of a sense of protectorship; she had trusted in him;
he ought to do something for her, if for nothing else, to show that he
was not dependent upon those ostrogoths. But what could be done for
such a girl, so pretty, so uncultivated, so vulgarly fantastic? Above
all, what could be done for her by a young and unmarried man?
Providence and society have made it very hard for single men to show
kindness to single women in any way but one.

At his door he found Sam Sleeny with a kit of tools; he had just rung
the bell. He turned, as Farnham mounted the steps, and said:

"I come from Matchin's--something about the greenhouse."

"Yes," answered Farnham. "The gardener is over yonder at the corner of
the lawn. He will tell you what is to be done."

Sam walked away in the direction indicated, and Farnham went into the
house. Some letters were lying on the table in the library. He had just
begun to read them when Budsey entered and announced:

"That young person."

Maud came in flushed with the fresh air and rapid walking. Farnham saw
that she wore no glasses, and she gained more by that fact in his
good-will than even by the brilliancy of her fine eyes which seemed to
exult in their liberation. She began with nervous haste:

"I knew you had a meeting to-day, and I could not wait. I might as well
own up that I followed you home."

Farnham handed her a chair and took her hand with a kindly earnestness,
saying,

"I am very glad to see you."

"Yes, yes," she continued; "but have you any good news for me?"

The anxious eagerness which spoke in her sparkling eyes and open lips
touched Farnham to the heart. "I am sorry I have not. The board
appointed another person."

The tears sprang to her eyes.

"I really expected it. I hoped you would interest yourself."

"I did all I possibly could," said Farnham. "I have never tried so hard
for anybody before, but a majority were already pledged to the other
applicant."

She seemed so dejected and hopeless that Farnham, forgetting for a
moment how hard it is for a young man to assist a young woman, said two
or three fatal words, "We must try something else."

The pronoun sounded ominous to him as soon as he had uttered it. But it
acted like magic upon Maud. She lifted a bright glance through her
tears and said, like a happy child to whom a new game has been
proposed, "What shall we try?"

Simple as the words were, both of them seemed to feel that a certain
relation--a certain responsibility--had been established between them.
The thought exhilarated Maud; it seemed the beginning of her
long-expected romance; while the glow of kind feeling about the heart
of Farnham could not keep him from suspecting that he was taking a
very imprudent step. But they sat a good while, discussing various
plans for Maud's advantage, and arriving at nothing definite; for her
own ideas were based upon a dime-novel theory of the world, and
Farnham at last concluded that he would be forced finally to choose
some way of life for his protegee, and then persuade her to accept it.

He grew silent and thoughtful with this reflection, and the
conversation languished. He was trying to think how he could help her
without these continued interviews at his house, when she disposed of
the difficulty by rising briskly and saying, "Well, I will call again
in a day or two, about this hour?"

"Yes, if it suits you best," he answered, with a troubled brow. He
followed her to the door. As she went out, she said, "May I pick a
flower as I go?"

He seized his hat, and said, "Come with me to the rose-house in the
garden, and you shall have something better."

They walked together down the gravel paths, through the neat and
well-kept garden, where the warm spring sunshine was calling life out
of the tender turf, and the air was full of delicate odors. She seemed
as gay and happy as a child on a holiday. Her disappointment of an hour
ago was all gone in the feeling that Arthur was interested in her, was
caring for her future. Without any definite hopes or dreams, she felt
as if the world was suddenly grown richer and wider. Something good was
coming to her certainly, something good had come; for was she not
walking in this lovely garden with its handsome proprietor, who was,
she even began to think, her friend? The turf was as soft, the air as
mild, the sun as bright as in any of her romances, and the figure of
Farnham's wealth which she had heard from her father rang musically in
her mind.

They went into the rose-house, and he gave her two or three splendid
satiny Marechal Niels, and then a Jacqueminot, so big, so rich and
lustrous in its dark beauty, that she could not help crying out with
delight. He was pleased with her joy, and gave her another, "for your
hair," he said. She colored with pleasure till her cheek was like the
royal flower. "Hallo!" thought Farnham to himself, "she does not take
these things as a matter of course." When they came into the garden
again, he made the suggestion which had been in his mind for the last
half hour.

"If you are going home, the nearest way will be by the garden gate into
Bishop's Lane. It is only a minute from there to Dean Street."

"Why, that would be perfectly lovely. But where is the gate?"

"I will show you." They walked together to the lower end of the lawn,
where a long line of glass houses built against the high wall which
separated the garden from the street called Bishop's Lane, sheltered
the grapes and the pine-apples. At the end of this conservatory, in the
wall, was a little door of thin but strong steel plates, concealed from
sight by a row of pear trees. Farnham opened it, and said, "If you
like, you can come in by this way. It is never locked in the daytime.
It will save you a long walk."

"Thanks," she replied. "That will be perfectly lovely."

Her resources of expression were not copious, but her eyes and her
mouth spoke volumes of joy and gratitude. Her hands were full of roses,
and as she raised her beautiful face to him with pleasure flashing from
her warm cheeks and lips and eyes, she seemed to exhale something of
the vigorous life and impulse of the spring sunshine. Farnham felt that
he had nothing to do but stoop and kiss the blooming flower-like face,
and in her exalted condition she would have thought little more of it
than a blush-rose thinks of the same treatment.

But he refrained, and said "Good morning," because she seemed in no
mood to say it first.

"Good-by, for a day or two," she said, gayly, as she bent her head to
pass under the low lintel of the gate.

Farnham walked back to the house not at all satisfied with himself. "I
wonder whether I have mended matters? She is certainly too pretty a
girl to be running in and out of my front door in the sight of all the
avenue. How much better will it be for her to use the private entrance,
and come and go by a sort of stealth! But then she does not regard it
that way. She is so ignorant of this wicked world that it seems to her
merely a saving of ten minutes' walk around the block. Well! all there
is of it, I must find a place for her before she domesticates herself
here."

The thought of what should be done with her remained persistently with
him and kept him irritated by the vision of her provoking and useless
beauty. "If she were a princess," he thought, "all the poets would be
twanging their lyres about her, all the artists would be dying to paint
her; she would have songs made to her, and sacred oratorios given under
her patronage. She would preside at church fairs and open the dance at
charity balls. If I could start her in life as a princess, the thing
would go on wheels. But to earn her own living--that is a trade of
another complexion. She has not breeding or education enough for a
governess: she is not clever enough to write or paint; she is not
steady enough, to keep accounts,--by the Great Jornada! I have a
grievous contract on my hands."

He heard the sound of hoofs outside his window, and, looking out, saw
his groom holding a young brown horse by the bridle, the well-groomed
coat of the animal shining in the warm sunlight. In a few moments
Farnham was in the saddle and away. For awhile he left his perplexities
behind, in the pleasure of rapid motion and fresh air. But he drew rein
half an hour afterward at Acland Falls, and the care that had sat on
the crupper came to the front again. "As a last resort," he said, "I
can persuade her she has a voice, and send her to Italy, and keep her
the rest of her life cultivating it in Milan."

All unconscious of the anxiety she was occasioning, Maud walked home
with her feet scarcely aware of the pavement. She felt happy through
and through. There was little thought, and we may say little
selfishness in the vague joy that filled her. The flowers she held in
her hands recalled the faint odors she had inhaled in Farnham's house;
they seemed to her a concrete idea of luxury. Her mind was crowded and
warmed with every detail of her visit: the dim, wide hall; the white
cravat of Budsey; the glimpse she caught of the dining-room through the
open door; the shimmer of cut glass and porcelain; the rich softness of
the carpets and rugs, the firelight dancing on the polished brass, the
tender glow of light and repose of shadow on the painted walls and
ceilings; the walk in the trim garden, amid the light and fragrance of
the spring; the hot air of the rose-house, which held her close, and
made her feel faint and flushed, like a warm embrace; and through all
the ever-present image of the young man, with his pleasant,
unembarrassed smile, the white teeth shining under the dark mustache;
the eyes that seemed to see through her, and yet told her nothing; and
more than all this to poor Maud, the perfect fit and fashion of his
clothes, filled her with a joyous trouble. She could not dwell upon her
plans for employment. She felt as if she had found her mission, her
true trade,--which was to walk in gardens and smell hot-house roses.
The perplexities which filled Farnham's head as to what he should do
with her found no counterpart in hers. She had stopped thinking and
planning; things were going very well with her as it was. She had lost
the place she had wished and expected, and yet this was the pleasantest
day of her life. Her responsibility seemed shifted to stronger hands.
It had become Farnham's business to find something nice for her: this
would be easy for him; he belonged to the class to whom everything is
easy. She did not even trouble herself to think what it would be as she
loitered home in the sunshine. She saw her father and informed him in a
few words of her failure; then went to her room and sat down by her
window, and looked for hours at the sparkling lake.

She was called to supper in the midst of her reverie. She was just
saying to herself, "If there was just one man and one woman in the
world, and I had the picking out of the man and the woman, this world
would suit me pretty well." She resented being called into other
society than that of her idle thoughts, and sat silent through supper,
trying to keep the thread of her fancies from breaking. But she was not
allowed to go back undisturbed to her fool's paradise.

Sleeny, who had scarcely removed his eyes from her during the meal,
rose with a start as she walked into the little sitting-room of the
family, and followed her. She went to the window with a novel to make
use of the last moments of daylight. He stood before her without
speaking, until she raised her eyes, and said sharply:

"Well, Sam, what's the matter?"

He was not quick either of thought or speech. He answered:

"Oh! nothin'. Only----"

"Only what?" she snapped.

"Won't you go and take a walk by the Bluff?"

She threw down her book at once. She liked exercise and fresh air, and
always walked with pleasure by the lake. Sam was to her such a nullity
that she enjoyed his company almost as much as being alone. She was
ready in a moment, and a short walk brought them to the little open
place reserved for public use, overlooking the great fresh-water sea.
There were a few lines of shade trees and a few seats, and nothing
more; yet the plantation was called Bluff Park, and it was much
frequented on holidays and Sundays by nurses and their charges. It was
in no sense a fashionable resort, or Maud would never have ventured
there in company with her humble adorer. But among the jovial puddlers
and brake-men that took the air there, it was well enough to have an
escort so devoted and so muscular. So pretty a woman could scarcely
have walked alone in Bluff Park without insulting approaches. Maud
would hardly have nodded to Sleeny on Algonquin Avenue, for fear some
millionaire might see it casually, and scorn them both. But on the
Bluff she was safe from such accidents, and she sometimes even took his
arm, and made him too happy to talk. They would walk together for an
hour, he dumb with audacious hopes that paralyzed his speech, and she
dreaming of things thousands of miles away.

This evening he was even more than usually silent. Maud, after she had
worn her reverie threadbare, noticed his speechlessness, and, fearing
he was about to renew the subject which was so tiresome, suddenly
stopped and said:

"What a splendid sunset! Did you ever see anything like it?"

"Yes," he said, with his gentle drawl. "Less set here, and look at it."

He took his seat on one of the iron benches painted green, and
decorated with castings of grapes and vine leaves. She sat down beside
him and gazed out over the placid water, on which the crimson clouds
cast a mellow glory. The sky seemed like another sea, stretching off
into infinite distance, and strewn with continents of fiery splendor.
Maud looked straight forward to the clear horizon line, marking the
flight of ships whose white sails were dark against the warm brightness
of the illumined water. But no woman ever looked so straight before her
as not to observe the man beside her, and she knew, without moving her
eyes from the spectacle of the sunset, that Sam was gazing fixedly at
her, with pain and trouble in his face. At last, he said, in a timid,
choking voice,

"Mattie!"

She did not turn her face, but answered:

"If it ain't too much trouble, I'd like to have you call me Miss when
we're alone. You'll be forgetting yourself, and calling me Mattie
before other people, before you know it."

"Hold on," he burst out. "Don't talk to me that way to-night--I can't
stand it."

She glanced at him in surprise. His face was pale and disordered; he
was twisting his fingers as if he would break them.

"Your temper seems to be on the move, Mr. Sleeny. We'd better go home,"
she said quietly, drawing her shawl about her.

"Don't go till I tell you something," he stammered hastily.

"I have no curiosity to hear what you have to say," she said, rising
from her seat.

"It ain't what you think--it ain't about me!"

Her curiosity awoke, and she sat down again. Sleeny sat twisting his
fingers, growing pale and red by turns. At last, in a tremulous voice,
he said:

"_I_ was there to-day."

She stared at him an instant and said:

"Where?"

"Oh, I was there, and I seen you. I was at work at the end of the
greenhouse there by the gate when you come out of the rose-house. I was
watchin' for you. I was on the lawn talkin' with the gardener when you
went in the house. About an hour afterward I seen you comin' down the
garden with him to the rose-house. If you had stayed there a minute
more, I would ha' went in there. But out you come with your hands full
o' roses, and him and you come to the gate. I stopped workin' and kep'
still behind them pear trees, and I heard everything."

He uttered each word slowly, like a judge delivering sentence. His face
had grown very red and hot, and as he finished his indictment he drew a
yellow handkerchief from his pocket and mopped the sweat from his
forehead, his chin, and the back of his neck.


"Oh!" answered Maud, negligently, "you heard everything, did you? Well,
you didn't hear much."

"I tell you," he continued, with a sullen rage, "I heard every word. Do
you hear me? I heard every word."

The savage roughness of his voice made her tremble, but her spirits
rose to meet his anger, and she laughed as she replied:

"Well, you heard 'Thank you, sir,' and 'Good-morning.' It wasn't much,
unless you took it as a lesson in manners, and goodness knows you need
it."

"Now, look'ye here. It's no use foolin' with me. You know what I heard.
If you don't, I'll tell you!"

"Very well, Mr. Paul Pry, what was it?" said the angry girl, who had
quite forgotten that any words were spoken at the gate.

"I heard him tell you you could come in any time the back way," Sam
hoarsely whispered, watching her face with eyes of fire. She turned
crimson as the sunset she was gazing at, and she felt as if she could
have torn her cheeks with her fingernails for blushing. She was aware
of having done nothing wrong, nothing to be ashamed of. She had been
all day cherishing the recollection of her visit to Farnham as
something too pleasant and delicate to talk about. No evil thought had
mingled with it in her own mind. She had hardly looked beyond the mere
pleasure of the day. She had not given a name or a form to the hopes
and fancies that were fluttering at her heart. And now to have this
sweet and secret pleasure handled and mauled by such a one as Sam
Sleeny filled her with a speechless shame. Even yet she hardly
comprehended the full extent of his insinuation. He did not leave her
long in doubt. Taking her silence and her confusion as an
acknowledgment, he went on, in the same low, savage tone:

"I had my hammer in my hand. I looked through the pear trees to see if
he kissed you. If he had 'a' done it, I would have killed him as sure
as death."

At this brutal speech she turned pale a moment, as if suddenly struck a
stunning blow. Then she cried out:

"Hold your vile tongue, you----"

But she felt her voice faltering and the tears of rage gushing from her
eyes. She buried her face in her hands and sat a little while in
silence, while Sam was dumb beside her, feeling like an awkward
murderer. She was not so overcome that she did not think very rapidly
during this moment's pause. If she could have slain the poor fellow on
the spot, she would not have scrupled to do so; but she required only
an instant to reflect that she had better appease him for the present,
and reserve her vengeance for a more convenient season.

She dried her eyes and turned them on him with an air of gentle, almost
forgiving reproach.

"Sam! I could not have believed you had such a bad, wicked heart. I
thought you knew me better. I won't make myself so cheap as to explain
all that to you. But I'll ask yon to do one thing for me. When we go
home this evening, if you see my father alone, you tell him what you
saw--and if you've got any shame in you you'll be ashamed of yourself."

He had been irritated by her anger, but he was completely abashed by
the coolness and gentleness which followed her burst of tears. He was
sorely confused and bewildered by her command, but did not dream of
anything but obeying it, and as they walked silently home, he was all
the time wondering what mysterious motive she could have in wishing him
to denounce her to her father. They found Saul Matchin sitting by the
door, smoking a cob-pipe. Maud went in and Sam seated himself beside
the old man.

"How'd you get along at Farnham's?" said Saul.

Sam started, as if "the boss" had read his uneasy conscience. But he
answered in his drawling monotone:

"All right, I guess. That doggoned Scotchman thinks he knows it all;
but it'll take nigh on to a week to do what I could ha' done in a day
or two, if I worked my way."

"Well," said Saul, "that ain't none o' your lookout. Do what Scotchee
tells you, and I'll keep the time on 'em. We kin stand it, ef they
kin," and the old carpenter laughed with the foolish pleasure of a
small mind aware of an advantage. "Ef Art. Farnham wants to keep a
high-steppin' Scotchman to run his flowers, may be he kin afford it. I
ain't his gardeen."

Now was Sleeny's chance to make his disclosure; but his voice trembled
in spite of him, as he said:

"I seen Mattie up there."

"Yes," said the old man, tranquilly. "She went up to see about a place
in the library. He said there wasn't none, but he'd try to think o'
somethin' else that 'ud suit her. He was mighty polite to Mat--give her
some roses, and telled her to run in and out when she liked, till he
got somethin' fixed. Fact is, Mat is a first-rate scholar, and takes
with them high-steppers, like fallin' off a log." Saul had begun to
feel a certain pride in his daughter's accomplishments which had so
long been an affliction to him. The moment he saw a possibility of a
money return, he even began to plume himself upon his liberality and
sagacity in having educated her. "I've spared nothin'--Sam--in giving
her a----" he searched an instant for a suitable adjective, "a
commodious education." The phrase pleased him so well that he smoked
for awhile contemplatively, so as not to mar the effect of his point.

Sam had listened with, a whirling brain to the old man's quiet story,
which anticipated his own in every point. He could not tell whether he
felt more relieved or disquieted by it. It all seemed clear and
innocent enough; but he felt, with a sinking heart, that his own hopes
were fading fast, in the flourishing prospects of his beloved. He hated
Farnham not less in his attitude of friendly protection than in that
which he had falsely attributed to him. His jealousy, deprived of its
specific occasion, nourished itself on vague and torturing
possibilities. He could not trust himself to talk further with Matchin,
but went away with a growing fire in his breast. He hated himself for
having prematurely spoken. He hated Maud for the beauty that she would
not give him, and which, he feared, she was ready to give to another.
He hated Saul, for his stolid ignorance of his daughter's danger. He
hated most of all Farnham, for his handsome face, his easy smile, his
shapely hands, his fine clothes, his unknown and occult gifts of
pleasing.

"'Tain't in natur," he growled. "She's the prettiest woman in the
world. If he's got eyes, he knows it. But I spoke first, and he shan't
have her, if I die for it."



V.


A PROFESSIONAL REFORMER.


Sleeny walked moodily down the street, engaged in that self-torture
which is the chief recreation of unhappy lovers. He steeped his heart
in gall by imagining Maud in love with another. His passion stimulated
his slow wits into unwonted action, until his mind began to form
exasperating pictures of intimacies which drove him half mad. His face
grew pale, and his fists were tightly clinched as he walked. He hardly
saw the familiar street before him; he had a far clearer vision of Maud
and Farnham by the garden gate: her beautiful face was turned up to the
young man's with the winning sweetness of a flower, and Sam's irritated
fancy supplied the kisses he had watched for in the shadow of the
pear-trees. "I 'most wish't he'd 'a' done it," he growled to himself.
"I had my hammer in my hand, and I could 'a' finished him then and had
no more bother."

He felt a hand on his shoulder, and, turning, saw a face grinning a
friendly recognition. It was a face whose whole expression was
oleaginous. It was surmounted by a low and shining forehead covered by
reeking black hair, worn rather long, the ends being turned under by
the brush. The mustache was long and drooping, dyed black and profusely
oiled, the dye and the grease forming an inharmonious compound. The
parted lips, which were coarse and thin, displayed an imperfect set of
teeth, much discolored with tobacco. The eyes were light green, with
the space which should have been white suffused with yellow and red. It
was one of those gifted countenances which could change in a moment
from a dog-like fawning to a snaky venomousness.

The man wore a black hat of soft felt; his clothes were black and
glistening with use and grease. He was of medium height, not especially
stout, but still strong and well knit; he moved too briskly for a
tramp, and his eyes were too sly and furtive to belong to an honest
man.

"Well, Samivel!" he began, with a jolly facetiousness, "what's your
noble game this evenin'? You look like you was down on your luck. Is
the fair one unkind?"

Sam turned upon him with an angry gesture.

"Hold your jaw, or I'll break it for you! Ever since I was fool enough
to mention that thing to you, you've been cacklin' about it. I've had
enough of it."

"Go slow, Quaker!" the man rejoined. "If you can't take a joke, I'll
stop jokin'--that settles it. Come along and get a glass of beer, and
you'll feel better."

They soon came to a garden near the lake, and sat down by a little
table at their beer. The consumers were few and silent. The garden was
dimly lighted, for the spring came slowly up that way, and the air was
not yet conducive to out-door idling. The greasy young man laid a dirty
hand on the arm of Sleeny, and said:

"Honor bright, now, old fellow, I didn't mean to rough, you when I said
that. I don't want to hurt your feelings or lose your confidence. I
want you to tell me how you are gettin' along. You ain't got no better
friend than me nowhere."

"Oh," said Sam, sulkily, "I got nothin' to say. She don't no more care
for me than that there mug."

The expression that came over his friend's face at these discouraged
words was not one of sympathetic sorrow. But he put some sympathy into
his voice as he said:

"Jest think of that! Such a fine young fellow as you are, too. Where
can her eyes be? And I seen you walking this evenin' by the lake just
like two robins. And yet you don't get ahead any!"

"Not a step," said Sam.

"Anybody in your light, you think? Hullo there, Dutchy, swei glass. Any
other fellow takin' your wind?" and his furtive eyes darted a keen
interrogation. Sam did not answer at once, and his friend went on:
"Why, she don't hardly know anybody but me and you, and, he-he! I
wouldn't stand no chance at all against you--hum?"

"Of course you wouldn't," said Sam, with slow contempt, which brought
the muddy blood into the sallow cheek in front of him. "She wouldn't
look at you. I'm not afraid of no man, Andy Offitt,--I'm afraid of
money."

He flattered his jealous heart by these words. It was too intolerable
to think that any mere man should take his sweetheart away from him;
and though he felt how hopeless was any comparison between himself and
Farnham, he tried to soothe himself by the lie that they were equal in
all but money.

His words startled his friend Offitt. He exclaimed, "Why, who does she
know that's got money?"

But Sleeny felt a momentary revolt against delivering to even his
closest confidant the name of the woman he loved coupled with the
degrading suspicions by which he had been tormented all day. He gruffly
answered: "That's none of your business; you can't help me in this
thing, and I ain't agoin' to chin about it any more."

They sat for awhile in silence, drank their beer, and ordered more.
Offitt at last spoke again:

"Well, I'll be hanged if you ain't the best grit of any fellow I know.
If you don't want to talk, a team of Morgan horses couldn't make you. I
like a man that can hold his tongue."

"Then I'm your huckleberry," said Sleeny, whose vanity was soothed by
the compliment.

"That's so," said Offitt, with an admiring smile. "If I wanted a secret
kept, I'd know where to come." Then changing his manner and tone to an
expression of profound solemnity, and glancing about to guard against
surprise, he said: "My dear boy, I've wanted to talk to you a long
time,--to talk serious. You're not one of the common kind of cattle
that think of nothin' but their fodder and stall--are you?"

Now, Sam was precisely of the breed described by his friend, but what
man ever lived who knew he was altogether ordinary? He grinned uneasily
and answered:

"I guess not."

"Exactly!" said Offitt. "There are some of us laboring men that don't
propose to go on all our lives working our fingers off to please a lot
of vampires; we propose to have a little fairer divide than heretofore;
and if there is any advantage to be gained, we propose to have it on
the side of the men who do the work. What do you think of that?"

"That's all solid," said Sleeny, who was indifferently interested in
these abstractions. "But what you goin' to do about it?"

"Do!" cried Offitt. "We are goin' to make war on capital. We are goin'
to scare the blood-suckers into terms. We are goin' to get our rights--
peaceably, if we can't get them any other way. We are goin' to prove
that a man is better than a moneybag." He rattled off these words as a
listless child says its alphabet without thinking of a letter. But he
was closely watching Sam to see if any of these stereotyped phrases
attracted his attention. Sleeny smoked his cigar with the air of polite
fatigue with which one listens to abstract statements of moral
obligations.

"What are we, anyhow?" continued the greasy apostle of labor. "We are
slaves; we are Roosian scurfs. We work as many hours as our owners
like; we take what pay they choose to give us; we ask their permission
to live and breathe."

"Oh, that's a lie!" Sleeny interrupted, with unbroken calmness. "Old
Saul Matchin and me come to an agreement about time and pay, and both
of us was suited. Ef he's got his heel onto me, I don't feel it"

Offitt darted a glance of scorn upon the ignoble soul who was content
with his bondage; but the mention of Matchin reminded him that he had a
final shot in reserve, and he let it off at once.

"Yes, Saul Matchin is a laborin' man himself; but look at his daughter.
She would die before she would marry a workman. Why?" and his green
eyes darted livid fire as they looked into the troubled ones of Sleeny.

"Well, why?" he asked, slowly.

"Because she loves money more than manhood. Because she puts up her
beauty for a higher bidder than any------"

"Now, shet up, will you?" cried Sam, thoroughly aroused. "I won't set
here and hear her abused by you or any other man. What business is it
of yours, anyway?"

Offitt felt that his shot had gone home, and pursued his advantage.

"It's my business, Sam, because I'm your friend; because I hate to see
a good fellow wronged; because I know that a man is better than a
moneybag. Why, that girl would marry you in a minute if you was rich.
But because you're not she will strike for one of them rose-water snobs
on Algonquin Avenue." Sam writhed, and his wheedling tormentor
continued, watching him like a ferret. "Perhaps she has struck for one
of them already--perhaps--oh, I can't say what may have happened. I
hate the world when I see such doin's. I hate the heartless shams that
give labor and shame to the toilers and beauty and luxury to the
drones. Who is the best man," he asked, with honest frankness, "you, or
some high-steppin' snob whose daddy has left him the means to be a
loafer all his days? And who would the prettiest girl in Buffland
prefer, you or the loafer? And you intend to let Mr. Loafer have it all
his own way?"

"No, I don't!" Sam roared, like a baited bull. "Ef any man crosses my
path, he can find out which is the best man."

"There, that's more like you. But what can you do alone? That's where
they get us foul. The erristocrats, the money power, all hang together.
The laborin' men fight singly, and alwuz get whipped. Now, we are goin'
to change that. We are goin' to organize. Look here, Sam, I am riskin'
my head in tellin' you this--but I trust you, and I like you, and I'll
tell you. We _have_ organized. We've got a society in this town pledged
to the cause of honest labor and against capital--for life or death. We
want you. We want men of sand and men of sense, and you've got both.
You must join."

Sam Sleeny was by this time pretty well filled with beer and wrath. He
felt himself in a certain sense bound by the weighty secret which
Offitt had imparted to him and flattered by his invitation. A few
touches more of adroit flattery, and the agitator's victory was
complete. Sleeny felt sore and tired to the very heart. He had behaved
like a brute to the girl he loved; he had been put clearly in the wrong
in his quarrel with her, and yet he was certain that all was not well
with either of them. The tormenting syllogism ran continually through
his head: "She is the prettiest woman in the world--rich fellows like
pretty women,--therefore--death and curses on him!" Or sometimes the
form of it would change to this: "He is rich and handsome--girls like
men who are rich and handsome,--therefore------," the same rage and
imprecations, and the same sense of powerless fury. He knew and cared
nothing about Offitt's Labor Reform. He could earn a good living by his
trade no matter who went to Congress, and he hated these "chinny
bummers," as he called them, who talked about "State help and
self-help" over their beer. But to-night he was tormented and badgered
to such a point that he was ready for anything which his tempter might
suggest. The words of Offitt, alternately wheedling and excoriating,
had turned his foolish head. His hatred of Farnham was easily extended
to the class to which he belonged, and even to the money which made him
formidable.

He walked away from the garden with Offitt, and turned down a filthy
alley to a squalid tenement house,--called by its proprietor Perry
Place, and by the neighbors Rook's Ranch,--to the lodge-room of the
Brotherhood of Bread-winners, which proved to be Offitt's lodging. They
found there a half dozen men lounging about the entrance, who scowled
and swore at Offitt for being late, and then followed him sulkily up
two flights of ill-smelling stairs to his room. He turned away their
wrath by soft answers, and hastily lighting a pair of coal-oil lamps,
which gave forth odor more liberally than illumination, said briskly:

"Gentlemen, I have brought you a recruit this evenin' that you will all
be glad to welcome to our brotherhood."

The brothers, who had taken seats where they could find them, on a
dirty bed, a wooden trunk, and two or three chairs of doubtful
integrity, grunted a questionable welcome to the new-comer. As he
looked about him, he was not particularly proud of the company in which
he found himself. The faces he recognized were those of the laziest and
most incapable workmen in the town--men whose weekly wages were
habitually docked for drunkenness, late hours, and botchy work. As the
room gradually filled, it seemed like a roll-call of shirks. Among them
came also a spiritual medium named Bott, as yet imperfectly developed,
whose efforts at making a living by dark seances too frequently
resulted in the laughter of skeptics and the confusion of his friends.
His forehead and cheek were even then purple with an aniline dye, which
some cold-blooded investigator had squirted in his face a few nights
before while he was gliding through a twilight room impersonating the
troubled shade of Pocahontas. This occurrence gave, for the moment, a
peculiarly sanguinary and sinister character to his features, and
filled his heart with a thirst for vengeance against an unbelieving
world.

After the meeting had been called to order, and Sam had taken an oath
of a hot and lurid nature, in which he renounced a good many things he
had never possessed, and promised to do a lot of things of which he had
no idea, Mr. Offitt asked "if any brother had anything to offer for the
good of the order." This called Mr. Bott to his feet, and he made a
speech, on which he had been brooding all day, against the pride of
so-called science, the arrogance of unrighteous wealth, and the
grovelling superstition of Christianity. The light of the kerosene lamp
shone full on the decorated side of his visage, and touched it to a
ferocious purpose. But the brotherhood soon wearied of his oratory, in
which the blasphemy of thought and phrase was strangely contrasted with
the ecclesiastical whine which he had caught from the exhorters who
were the terror of his youth. The brothers began to guy him without
mercy. They requested him to "cheese it"; they assisted him with
uncalled-for and inappropriate applause, and one of the party got
behind him and went through the motion of turning a hurdy-gurdy. But
he persevered. He had joined the club to practise public speaking, and
he got a good half hour out of the brothers before they coughed him
down.

When he had brought his speech to a close, and sat down to wipe his
streaming face, a brother rose and said, in a harsh, rasping voice, "I
want to ask a question."

"That's in order, Brother Bowersox," said Offitt.

The man was a powerful fellow, six feet high. His head was not large,
but it was as round as an apple, with heavy cheek-bones, little eyes,
close-cut hair, and a mustache like the bristles of a blacking-brush.
He had been a driver on a streetcar, but had recently been dismissed
for insolence to passengers and brutality to his horses.

"What I want to ask is this: I want to know if we have joined this
order to listen to chin-music the rest of our lives, or to do
somethin'. There is some kind of men that kin talk tell day of
jedgment, lettin' Gabrel toot and then beginnin' ag'in. I ain't that
kind; I j'ined to do somethin';--what's to be done?"

He sat down with his hand on his hip, squarely facing the luckless
Bott, whose face grew as purple as the illuminated side of it. But he
opened not his mouth. Offitt answered the question:

"I would state," he said glibly, "the objects we propose to accomplish:
the downfall of the money power, the rehabitation of labor, the----"

"Oh, yes!" Bowersox interrupted, "I know all about that,--but what are
we goin' to _do?_"

Offitt paled a little, but did not flinch at the savage tone of the
surly brute. He began again in his smoothest manner:

"I am of the opinion that the discussion of sound principles, such as
we have listened to to-night, is among the objects of our order. After
that, organization for mutual profit and protection against the minions
of the money power,--for makin' our influence felt in elections,--for
extendin' a helpin' hand to honest toil,--for rousin' our bretheren
from their lethargy, which, like a leaden pall----"

"I want to know," growled Bowersox, with sullen obstinacy, "what's to
be done."

"Put your views in the form of a motion, that they may be properly
considered by the meetin'," said the imperturbable president.

"Well, I motion that we stop talkin' and commence doin'----"

"Do you suggest that a committee be appointed for that purpose?"

"Yes, anything." And the chairman appointed Bowersox, Bott, and Folgum
such a committee.

All breathed more freely and felt as if something practical and
energetic had been accomplished. The committee would, of course, never
meet nor report, but the colloquy and the prompt action taken upon it
made every one feel that the evening had been interesting and
profitable. Before they broke up, Sleeny was asked for his initiation
fee of two dollars, and all the brethren were dunned for their monthly
dues.

"What becomes of this money?" the neophyte bluntly inquired of the
hierophant.

"It pays room rent and lights," said Offitt, with unabashed front, as
he returned his greasy wallet to his pocket. "The rest goes for
propagatin' our ideas, and especially for influencin' the press."

Sleeny was a dull man, but he made up his mind on the way home that the
question which had so long puzzled him--how Offitt made his living--was
partly solved.



VI.


TWO MEN SHAKE HANDS.


Sleeny, though a Bread-winner in full standing, was not yet
sufficiently impressed with the wrongs of labor to throw down his
hammer and saw. He continued his work upon Farnham's conservatory,
under the direction of Fergus Ferguson, the gardener, with the same
instinctive fidelity which had always characterized him. He had his
intervals of right feeling and common sense, when he reflected that
Farnham had done him no wrong, and probably intended no wrong to Maud,
and that he was not answerable for the ill luck that met him in his
wooing, for Maud had refused him before she ever saw Farnham. But, once
in a while, and especially when he was in company with Offitt, an
access of jealous fury would come upon him, which found vent in
imprecations which were none the less fervid for being slowly and
haltingly uttered. The dark-skinned, unwholesome-looking Bread-winner
found a singular delight in tormenting the powerful young fellow. He
felt a spontaneous hatred for him, for many reasons. His shapely build,
his curly blond hair and beard, his frank blue eye, first attracted his
envious notice; his steady, contented industry excited in him a desire
to pervert a workman whose daily life was a practical argument against
the doctrines of socialism, by which Offitt made a part of his
precarious living; and after he had met Maud Matchin and had felt, as
such natures will, the force of her beauty, his instinctive hate became
an active, though secret, hostility. She had come one evening with
Sleeny to a spiritualist conference frequented by Offitt, and he had at
once inferred that Sleeny and she were either engaged to be married or
on the straight road toward it. It would be a profanation of the word
to say that he loved her at first sight. But his scoundrel heart was
completely captivated so far as was possible to a man of his sort. He
was filled and fired with a keen cupidity of desire to possess and own
such beauty and grace. He railed against marriage, as he did against
religion and order, as an invention of priests and tyrants to enslave
and degrade mankind; but he would gladly have gone to any altar
whatever in company with Maud Matchin. He could hardly have said
whether he loved or hated her the more. He loved her much as the hunter
loves the fox he is chasing to its death. He wanted to destroy anything
which kept her away from him: her lover, if she had one; her pride, her
modesty, her honor, if she were fancy-free. Aware of Sleeny's good
looks, if not of his own ugliness, he hated them both for the
comeliness that seemed to make them natural mates for each other. But
it was not in his methods to proceed rashly with either. He treated
Maud with distant respect, and increased his intimacy with Sleeny until
he found, to his delight, that he was not the prosperous lover that he
feared. But he still had apprehensions that Sleeny's assiduity might at
last prevail, and lost no opportunity to tighten the relations between
them, to poison and pervert the man who was still a possible rival. By
remaining his most intimate friend, he could best be informed of all
that occurred in the Matchin family.

One evening, as Sam was about leaving his work, Fergus Ferguson said:

"You'll not come here the morn. You're wanted till the house--a bit o'
work in the library. They'll be tellin' you there."

This was faithfully reported by Sam to his confessor that same night.

"Well, you are in luck. I wish I had your chance," said Offitt.

Sam opened his blue eyes in mute wonder.

"Well, what's the chance, and what would you do with it, ef you had
it?"

Offitt hesitated a moment before replying.

"Oh, I was just a jokin'. I meant it was such an honor for common folks
like us to git inside of the palace of a high-toned cuss like Farnham;
and the fact is, Sammy," he continued, more seriously, "I _would_ like
to see the inside of some of these swell places. I am a student of
human nature, you know, in its various forms. I consider the lab'rin'
man as the normal healthy human--that is, if he don't work too hard. I
consider wealth as a kind of disease; wealth and erristocracy is a kind
of dropsy. Now, the true reformer is like a doctor,--he wants to know
all about diseases, by sight and handlin'! I would like to study the
symptoms of erristocracy in Farnham's house--right in the wards of the
hospital."

"Well, that beats me," said Sam. "I've been in a lot of fine houses on
Algonquin Avenue, and I never seen anything yet that favored a
hospital."

This dense stupidity was almost more than Offitt could bear. But a
ready lie came to his aid.

"Looky here!" he continued, "I'll tell you a secret. I'm writin' a
story for the 'Irish Harp,' and I want to describe the residence of
jess such a vampire as this here Farnham. Now, writin', as I do, in the
cause of humanity, I naturally want to git my facts pretty near right.
You kin help me in this. I'll call to-morrow to see you while you're
there, and I'll get some p'ints that'll make Rome howl when they come
out."

Sam was hardly educated up to the point his friend imagined. His zeal
for humanity and the "rehabitation" of labor was not so great as to
make him think it a fine thing to be a spy and a sneak in the houses of
his employers. He was embarrassed by the suggestion, and made no reply,
but sat smoking his pipe in silence. He had not the diplomatist's art
of putting a question by with a smile. Offitt had tact enough to
forbear insisting upon a reply.

He was, in fact, possessed of very considerable natural aptitude for
political life. He had a quick smile and a ready tongue; he liked to
talk and shake hands; he never had an opinion he was not willing to
sell; he was always prepared to sacrifice a friend, if required, and to
ask favors from his worst enemies. He called himself Andrew Jackson
Offitt--a name which, in the West, is an unconscious brand. It
generally shows that the person bearing it is the son of illiterate
parents, with no family pride or affections, but filled with a bitter
and savage partisanship which found its expression in a servile worship
of the most injurious personality in American history. But Offitt's
real name was worse than Andrew Jackson--it was Ananias, and it was
bestowed in this way: When he was about six years old, his father, a
small farmer in Indiana, who had been a sodden, swearing, fighting
drunkard, became converted by a combined attack of delirium tremens and
camp-meeting, and resolved to join the church, he and his household.
The morning they were going to the town of Salem for that purpose, he
discovered that his pocket had been picked, and the money it contained
was found on due perquisition in the blue jeans trousers of his son
Andrew Jackson. The boy, on being caught, was so nimble and fertile in
his lies that the father, in a gust of rage, declared that he was not
worthy the name of the great President, but that he should be called
Ananias; and he was accordingly christened Ananias that morning in the
meeting-house at Salem. As long as the old man lived, he called him by
that dreadful name; but when a final attack of the trembling madness
had borne him away from earth, the widow called the boy Andrew again,
whenever she felt careless about her spiritual condition, and the youth
behaved himself, but used the name of Sapphira's husband when the lad
vexed her, or the obligations of the christening came strongly back to
her superstitious mind. The two names became equally familiar to young
Offitt, and always afterward he was liable to lapses of memory when
called on suddenly to give his prenomen; and he frequently caused
hateful merriment among his associates by signing himself Ananias.

When Sam presented himself at Captain Farnham's house the next morning,
he was admitted by Budsey, who took him to the library and showed him
the work he was to do. The heat of the room had shrunk the wood of the
heavy doors of carved oak so that the locks were all out of position.
Farnham was seated by his desk, reading and writing letters. He did not
look up as Sam entered, and paid no attention to the instructions
Budsey was giving him. For the first time in his life, Sleeny found
that this neglect of his presence was vaguely offensive to him. A week
before, he would no more have thought of speaking to Farnham, or being
spoken to by him, than of entering into conversation with one of the
busts on the book-cases. Even now he had no desire to talk with the
proprietor of the house. He had come there to do certain work which he
was capable of doing well, and he preferred to do it and not be
bothered by irrelevant gossip. But, in spite of himself, he felt a
rising of revolt in his heart, as he laid out his tools, against the
quiet gentleman who sat with his back to him, engaged in his own work
and apparently unconscious of Sleeny's presence. A week before, they
had been nothing to each other, but now a woman had come between them,
and there is no such powerful conductor in nature. The quiet in which
Farnham sat seemed full of insolent triumph to the luckless lover, and
scraps of Offitt's sounding nonsense went through his mind: "A man is
more than a money-bag"; "the laborer is the true gentleman"; but they
did not give him much comfort. Not until he became interested in his
work did he recover the even beat of his pulse and the genuine
workmanlike play of his faculties. Then he forgot Farnham's presence in
his turn, and enjoyed himself in a rational way with his files and
chisels and screwdrivers.

He had been at work for an hour at one door, and had finished it to his
satisfaction, and sat down before another, when he heard the bell ring,
and Budsey immediately afterward ushered a lady through the hall and
into the drawing-room. His heart stood still at the rustle of the
dress,--it sounded so like Maud's; he looked over his shoulder through
the open door of the library and saw, to his great relief, that there
were two female figures taking their seats in the softly lighted room
beyond. One sat with her back to the light, and her features were not
distinctly visible; the other was where he could see three-quarters of
her face clearly relieved against the tapestry portiere. There is a
kind of beauty which makes glad every human heart that gazes on it, if
not utterly corrupt and vile, and it was such a face as this that Sam
Sleeny now looked at with a heart that grew happier as he gazed. It was
a morning face, full of the calm joy of the dawn, of the sweet dreams
of youth untroubled by love, the face of Aurora before she met
Tithonus. From the little curls of gold on the low brow to the smile
that hovered forever, half formed, on the softly curving lips and over
the rounded chin, there was a light of sweetness, and goodness, and
beauty, to be read of all men, and perhaps in God's good time to be
worshipped by one.

Budsey announced "Mrs. Belding and Miss Halice," and Farnham hastened
to greet them.

If Sam Sleeny had few happy hours to enjoy, he could at least boast
himself that one was beginning now. The lovely face bore to his heart
not only the blessing of its own beauty, but also a new and infinitely
consoling thought. He had imagined till this moment, in all
seriousness, that Maud Matchin was the prettiest woman in the world,
and that therefore all men who saw her were his rivals, the chief of
whom was Farnham. But now he reflected, with a joyful surprise, that in
this world of rich people there were others equally beautiful, and that
here, under Farnham's roof, on terms of familiar acquaintance with him,
was a girl as faultless as an angel,--one of his own kind. "Why, of
course," he said to himself, with a candid and happy self-contempt,
"that's _his_ girl--you dunderheaded fool--what are you botherin'
about?"

He took a delight which he could not express in listening to the
conversation of these friends and neighbors. The ladies had come over,
in pursuance of an invitation of Farnham's, to see the additions which
had recently arrived from Europe to his collection of bronzes and
pottery, and some little pictures he had bought at the English
water-color exhibition. As they walked about the rooms, expressing their
admiration of the profusion of pretty things which filled the cabinets
and encumbered the tables, in words equally pretty and profuse, Sleeny
listened to their voices as if it were music played to cheer him at his
work. He knew nothing of the things they were talking about, but their
tones were gentle and playful; the young lady's voice was especially
sweet and friendly. He had never heard such voices before; they are
exceptional everywhere in America, and particularly in our lake
country, where the late springs develop fine high sopranos, but leave
much to be desired in the talking tones of women. Alice Belding had
been taught to use her fine voice as it deserved and Cordelia's
intonations could not have been more "soft, gentle, and low,--an
excellent thing in woman."

After awhile, the voices came nearer, and he heard Farnham say:

"Come in here a moment, please, and see my new netsukes; I got them at
a funny little shop in Ostend. It was on a Sunday afternoon, and the
man of the house was keeping the shop, and I should have got a great
bargain out of him, but his wife came in before we were through, and
scolded him for an imbecile and sent him into the back room to tend the
baby, and made me pay twice what he had asked for my little monsters."

By this time they were all in the library, and the young lady was
laughing, not loudly, but musically, and Mrs. Belding was saying:

"Served you right for shopping on Sunday. But they are adorable little
images, for all that."

"Yes," said Farnham, "so the woman told me, and she added that they
were authentic of the twelfth century. I asked her if she could not
throw off a century or two in consideration of the hard, times, and she
laughed, and said I blagued, and honestly she didn't know how old they
were, but it was _drole, tout de meme, qu'on put adorer un petit bon
Dieu d'une laideur pareille._"

"Really, I don't see how they can do it," said Mrs. Belden, solemnly;
at which both the others laughed, and Miss Alice said, "Why, mamma, you
have just called them adorable yourself."

They went about the room, admiring, and touching, and wondering, with
the dainty grace of ladies accustomed to rare and beautiful things,
until the novelties were exhausted and they turned to go. But Budsey at
that moment announced luncheon, and they yielded to Farnham's eager
importunity, and remained to share his repast.

They went to the dining-room, leaving Sleeny more than content. He
still heard their voices, too distant to distinguish words; but he
pleased himself by believing that there was a tender understanding in
the tones of Farnham and Miss Belding when they addressed each other,
and that it was altogether a family party. He had no longer any feeling
of slight or neglect because none of them seemed aware of his presence
while they were in the room with him. There was, on the contrary, a
sort of comfort in the thought that he belonged to a different world
from them; that he and Maud were shut out--shut out together--from the
society and the interests which claimed the Beldings and the Farnhams.
"You was a dunderheaded fool," he said, cheerfully apostrophizing
himself again, "to think everybody was crazy after your girl."

He was brought down to a lower level by hearing the door open, and the
voice of Offitt asking if Mr. Sleeny was in.

"No one of that name here," said Budsey.

"I was told at Matchin's he was here."

"Oh! the yonng man from Matchin's. He is in the library," and Offitt
came in, looking more disreputable than usual, as he had greased his
hair inordinately for the occasion. Budsey evidently regarded him with
no favorable eye; he said to Sleeny, "This person says he comes from
Matchin's; do you know him?"

"Yes, it's all right," said Sam, who could say nothing less; but when
Budsey had left them, he turned to Offitt with anything but welcome in
his eye.

"Well, you've come, after all."

"Yes," Offitt answered, with an uneasy laugh. "Curiosity gets us all,
from Eve down. What a lay-out this is, anyhow," and his small eyes
darted rapidly around the room. "Say, Sam, you know Christy Fore, that
hauls for the Safe Company? He was telling me about the safe he put
into this room--said nobody'd ever guess it _was_ a safe. Where the
devil is it?"

"I don't know. It's none of my business, nor yours either."

"I guess you got up wrong foot foremost, Sam, you're so cranky. Where
can the ---- thing be? Three doors and two winders and a fire-place,
and all the rest book-cases. By Jinx! there it is, I'll swear." He
stepped over to one of the cases where a pair of oaken doors, rich with
arabesque carving, veiled a sort of cabinet. He was fingering at them
when Sam seized him by the shoulder, and said:

"Look here, Andy, what _is_ your game, anyhow? I'm here on business,
and I ain't no fence, and I'll just trouble you to leave."

Offitt's face turned livid. He growled:

"Of all Andylusian jacks, you're the beat. I ain't agoin' to hurt you
nor your friend Farnham. I've got all the p'ints I want for my story,
and devilish little thanks to you, neither. And say, tell me, ain't
there a back way out? I don't want to go by the dinin'-room door.
There's ladies there, and I ain't dressed to see company. Why, yes,
this fits me like my sins," and he opened the French window, and
stepped lightly to the gravel walk below, and was gone.

Sleeny resumed his work, ill content with himself and his friend. "Andy
is a smart fellow," he thought; "but he had no right to come snoopin'
around where I was at work, jist to get points to worry Mr. Farnham
with."

The little party in the drawing-room was breaking up. He heard their
pleasant last words, as the ladies resumed their wraps and Farnham
accompanied them to the door. Mrs. Belding asked him to dinner, "with
nobody but ourselves," and he accepted with a pleased eagerness. Sleeny
got one more glimpse of the beautiful face under the gray hat and
feather, and blessed it as it vanished out of the door. As Farnham came
back to the library, he stood for a moment by Sam, and examined what he
had done.

"That's a good job. I like your work on the green-house, too. I know
good work when I see it. I worked one winter as a boss carpenter
myself."

It seemed to Sleeny like the voice of a brother speaking to him. He
thought the presence of the young lady had made everything in the house
soft and gentle.

"Where was you ever in that business?" he asked.

"In the Black Hills. I sawed a million feet of lumber and built houses
for two hundred soldiers. I had no carpenters; so I had to make some. I
knew more about it when I got through than when I began."

Sleeny laughed--a cordial laugh that wagged his golden beard and made
his white teeth glisten.

"I'll bet you did!" he replied.

The two men talked a few minutes like old acquaintances; then Sleeny
gathered up his tools and slung them over his shoulder, and as he
turned to go both put out their hands at the same instant, with an
impulse that surprised each of them, and said "Good-morning."



VII.


GHOSTLY COUNSEL.


A man whose intelligence is so limited as that of Sam Sleeny is always
too rapid and rash in his inferences. Because he had seen Farnham give
Maud a handful of roses, he was ready to believe things about their
relations that had filled him with fury; and now, because he had seen
the same man talking with a beautiful girl and her mother, the
conviction was fixed in his mind that Farnham's affections were placed
in that direction, and that he was therefore no longer to be dreaded as
a rival. He went home happier, in this belief, than he had been for
many a day; and so prompt was his progress in the work of deceiving
himself, that he at once came to the conclusion that little or nothing
now stood between him and the crowning of his hopes. His happiness made
him unusually loquacious, and at the supper-table he excited the
admiration of Matchin and the surprise of Maud by his voluble history
of the events of the day. He passed over Offitt's visit in silence,
knowing that the Matchins detested him; but he spoke with energetic
emphasis of the beauty of the house, the handsome face and kindly
manners of Farnham, and the wonderful beauty and sweetness of Alice
Belding.

"Did that bold thing go to call on him alone?" cried Miss Maud,
thoroughly aroused by this supposed offence against the proprieties of
life.

"Why, no, Mattie," said Sam, a little disconcerted. "Her ma was along."

"Why didn't you say so, then?" asked the unappeased beauty.

"I forgot all about the old lady, though she was more chinny than the
young one. She just seemed like she was a-practisin' the mother-in-law,
so as to do it without stumblin' when the time come."

"Hullo! Do you think they are strikin' a match?" cried Saul, in high
glee. "That would be first-rate. Keep the money and the property all
together. There's too many of our rich girls marryin' out of the State
lately--keeps buildin' dull."

"I don't believe a word of it," Maud interposed. "He ain't a man to be
caught by a simperin' schoolgirl. And as to money, He's got a plenty
for two. He can please himself when he marries."

"Yes, but may be he won't please you, Mattie, and that would be a
pity," said the ironical Saul.

The old man laughed loudly at his own sarcasm, and pushed his chair
back from the table, and Maud betook herself to her own room, where she
sat down, as her custom was, by the window, looking over the glowing
lake, and striving to read her destiny as she gazed into the crimson
and golden skies. She did not feel at all so sure as she pretended that
there was no danger of the result that Sleeny had predicted; and now
that she was brought face to face with it, she was confounded at
discovering how much it meant to her. She was carrying a dream in her
heart which would make or ruin her, according as it should prove true
or false. She had not thought of herself as the future wife of Farnham
with any clearness of hope, but she found she could not endure the
thought of his marrying any one else and passing forever out of her
reach. She sat there, bitterly ruminating, until the evening glow had
died away from the lake and the night breeze spread its viewless wings
and flapped heavily in over the dark ridge and the silent shore. Her
thoughts had given her no light of consolation; her chin rested on her
hands, her elbows on her knees; her large eyes, growing more luminous
in the darkness, stared out at the gathering night, scarcely noting
that the sky she gazed at had changed from a pompous scene of red and
yellow splendor to an infinite field of tender and dark violet, fretted
with intense small stars.

"What shall I do?" she thought. "I am a woman. My father is poor. I
have got no chance. Jurildy is happier to-day than I am, and got more
sense."

She heard a timid rap at her door, and asked, sharply:

"Who's there?"

"It's me," said Sleeny's submissive voice.

"What do you want?" she asked again, without moving.

"Mr. Bott give me two tickets to his seance tonight,"--Sam called it
"seeuns,"--"and I thought mebbe you'd like to go."

There was silence for a moment. Maud was thinking: "At any rate it will
be better than to sit here alone and cry all the evening." So she said:
"I'll come down in a minute." She heard Sam's heavy step descending the
stairs, and thought what a different tread another person had; and she
wondered whether she would ever "do better" than take Sam Sleeny; but
she at once dismissed the thought. "I can't do that; I can't put my
hand in a hand that smells so strong of sawdust as Sam's. But he is a
good soul, and I am sorry for him, every time I look in the glass."

Looking in the glass, as usual, restored her good humor, and she
started off to the ghostly rendezvous with her faithful attendant. They
never talked very much when they were alone together, and this evening
both were thoughtful. Maud had never taken this commerce with ghosts
much to heart. She had a feeling, which she could hardly have defined,
that it was a common and plebeian thing to believe in it, and if she
ever heard it ridiculed she joined in the cry without mercy. But it was
an excitement and an interest in a life so barren of both that she
could not afford to throw it away. She had not intelligence enough to
be disgusted or shocked by it. If pressed to explain the amount of her
faith in the whole business, she would probably have said she thought
"there was something in it," and stopped at that. In minds like hers,
there is no clearly drawn line between the unusual and the
supernatural. An apparent miracle pleased her as it would please a
child, without setting her to find out how it was done. She would
consult a wizard, taking the chances of his having occult sources of
information, with the same irregular faith in the unlikely with which
some ladies call in homoeopathic practitioners.

All the way to the rooms of Bott, she was revolving this thought in her
mind: "Perhaps he could tell me something about Mr. Farnham. I don't
think much of Bott; he has too many knuckles on his hands. I never saw
a man with so many knuckles. I wouldn't mention Mr. Farnham to him to
save his life, but I might get something out of him without telling him
anything. He is certainly a very smart man, and whether it's spirits or
not, he knows lots of things."

It was in this mood that she entered the little apartment where Bott
held what he called his "Intermundane Seances." The room was small and
stuffy. A simulacrum of a chest of drawers in one corner was really
Bott's bed, where the seer reposed at night, and which, tilted up
against the wall during the day, contained the rank bedclothes, long
innocent of the wash-tub. There were a dozen or so of cane-bottom
chairs, a little table for a lamp, but no other furniture. At one side
of the room was a small closet without a door, but with a dark and
dirty curtain hung before its aperture. Around it was a wooden railing,
breast high.

A boy with a high forehead, and hair combed behind ears large and
flaring like those of a rabbit, sat by the door, and took the tickets
of invited guests and the half-dollars of the casuals. The seer
received everybody with a nerveless shake of a clammy hand, showed them
to seats, and exchanged a word or two about the weather, and the
"conditions," favorable or otherwise, to spiritual activity. When he
saw Maud and Sam his tallowy face flushed, in spots, with delight. He
took them to the best places the room afforded, and stammered his
pleasure that they had come.

"Oh! the pleasure is all ours," said Maud, who was always
self-possessed when she saw men stammering. "It's a great privilege to
get so near to the truth as you bring us, Mr. Bott."

The prophet had no answer ready; he merely flushed again in spots, and
some new arrivals called him away.

The room was now pretty well filled with the unmistakable crowd which
always attend such meetings. They were mostly artisans, of more
intellectual ambition than their fellows, whose love of the marvellous
was not held in control by any educated judgment. They had long,
serious faces, and every man of them wore long hair and a soft hat.
Their women were generally sad, broken-spirited drudges, to whom this
kind of show was like an opera or a ball. There were two or three
shame-faced believers of the better class, who scoffed a little but
trembled in secret, and a few avowed skeptics, young clerks on a mild
spree, ready for fun if any should present itself.

Bott stepped inside the railing by the closet, and placing his hands
upon it, addressed the assembly. He did not know what peculiar shape
the manifestations of the evening might take. They were in search of
truth; all truth was good. They hoped for visitors from the unseen
speers; he could promise nothing. In this very room the spirits of the
departed had walked and talked with their friends; perhaps they might
do it again; he knew not. How they mingled in the earth-life, he did
not pretend to say; perhaps they materialized through the mejum;
perhaps they dematerialized material from the audience which they
rematerialized in visible forms; as to that, the opinion of another--he
said with a spacious magnanimity--was as good as his. He would now
request two of the audience to step up and tie him. One of the
long-haired ruminant men stood up, and a young fellow, amid much
nudging and giggling among the scorners, was also forced from his
chair. They came forward, the believer with a business-like air, which
showed practice, and the young skeptic blushing and ill at ease. Bott
took a chair inside the curtain, and showed them how to tie him. They
bound him hand and foot, the believer testified that the binding was
solid, and the skeptic went to his seat, playfully stepping upon the
toes of his scoffing friends. The curtain was lowered, and the lamp was
turned down.

In a few moments, a scuffling sound was heard in the closet, and Bott's
coat came flying out into the room. The believer pulled back the
curtain, and Botts sat in his chair, his shirt sleeves gleaming white
in the dust. His coat was laid over his shoulders, and almost as soon
as the curtain was lowered he yelled for light, and was disclosed
sitting tied as before, clothed in his right coat.

Again the curtain went down amid a sigh of satisfaction from the
admiring audience, and a choking voice, which tried hard not to sound
like Bott's, cried out from the closet: "Turn down the light; we want
more power." The kerosene lamp was screwed down till hardly a spark
illumined the visible darkness, and suddenly a fiery hand appeared at
the aperture of the closet, slowly opening and shutting its long
fingers.

A half dozen voices murmured: "A spirit hand"; but Sam Sleeny whispered
to Maud: "Them are Bott's knuckles, for coin." The hand was withdrawn
and a horrible face took its place--a pallid corpse-like mask, with
lambent fire sporting on the narrow forehead and the high cheek-bones.
It stayed only an instant, but Sam said, "That's the way Bott will look
in----"

"Hush!" said Maud, who was growing too nervous to smile, for fear of
laughing or crying.

A sound of sobbing came from a seat to the right of them. A poor woman
had recognized the face as that of her husband, who had died in the
army, and she was drawing the most baleful inferences from its fiery
adjuncts.

A moment later, Bott came out of the closet, crouching so low that his
head was hardly two feet from the ground. He had a sheet around his
neck, covering his whole person, and a white cap over his head,
concealing most of his face. In this constrained attitude he hopped
about the clear space in front of the audience with a good deal of
dexterity, talking baby-talk in a shrill falsetto. "Howdy, pappa!
Howdy, mamma! Itty Tudie tum adin!"

A rough man and woman, between joy and grief, were half hysterical.
They talked to the toad-like mountebank in the most endearing tones,
evidently believing it was their dead baby toddling before them. Two or
three times the same horrible imposture was repeated. Bott never made
his appearance without somebody recognizing him as a dear departed
friend. The glimmering light, the unwholesome excitement, the servile
credulity fixed by long habit, seemed to produce a sort of passing
dementia upon the regular habitues.

With these performances the first part came to an end. The light was
turned on again, and the tying committee was requested to come forward
and examine the cords with which Bott still seemed tightly bound. The
skeptic remained scornfully in his seat, and so it was left for the
believer to announce that not a cord had been touched. He then untied
Bott, who came out from the closet, stretching his limbs as if glad to
be free, and announced that there would be a short intermission for an
interchange of views.


As he came toward Maud, Sam rose and said:

"Whew! he smells like a damp match. I'll go out and smoke a minute, and
come back."

Bott dropped into the seat which Sleeny had left.

To one who has never attended one of these queer _cenacula_, it would
be hard to comprehend the unhealthy and even nauseous character of the
feeling and the conversation there prevalent. The usual decent
restraints upon social intercourse seem removed. Subjects which the
common consent of civilized creatures has banished from mixed society
are freely opened and discussed. To people like the ordinary run of the
believers in spiritism, the opera, the ballet, and the annual Zola are
unknown, and they must take their excitements where they can find them.
The dim light, the unhealthy commerce of fictitious ghosts, the
unreality of act and sentiment, the unwonted abandon, form an
atmosphere in which these second-hand mystics float away into a sphere
where the morals and the manners are altogether different from those of
their working days.

Miss Matchin had not usually joined in these morbid discussions. She
was of too healthy an organization to be tempted by so rank a mental
feast as that, and she had a sort of fierce maidenhood about her which
revolted at such exposures of her own thought. But to-night she was
sorely perplexed. She had been tormented by many fancies as she looked
out of her window into the deepening shadows that covered the lake. The
wonders she had seen in that room, though she did not receive them with
entire faith, had somewhat shaken her nerves; and now the seer sat
beside her, his pale eyes shining with his own audacity, his lank hair
dripping with sweat, his hands uneasily rubbing together, his whole
attitude expressive of perfect subjection to her will.

"Why isn't this a good chance?" she thought. "He is certainly a smart
man. Horrid as he looks, he knows lots. May be he could tell me how to
find out."

She began in her airiest manner: "Oh, Mr. Bott, what a wonderful gift
you have got! How you must look down on us poor mortals!"

Bott grew spotted, and stammered:

"Far from it, Miss Matchin. I couldn't look down on you."

"Oh, you are flattering. That's not right, because I believe every word
you say--and that ain't true."

She rattled recklessly on in the same light tone.

"I'm going to ask you something very particular. I don't know who can
tell me, if you can't. How can a young lady find out whether a young
gentleman is in love with her or not? Now, tell me the truth this
time," she said with a nervous titter, "for it's very important."

This question from any one else would not have disconcerted Bott in the
least. Queries as absurd had frequently been put to him in perfect good
faith, and answered with ready and impudent ignorance. But, at those
giggling words of Maud Matchin, he turned livid and purple, and his
breath came heavily. There was room for but one thought in that narrow
heart and brain. He had long cherished a rather cowardly fondness for
Maud, and now that this question was put to him by the agitated girl,
his vanity would not suffer him to imagine that any one but himself was
the subject of her dreams. There was, to him, nothing especially out of
the way in this sort of indirect proposal on the part of a young woman.
It was entirely in keeping with the general tone of sentiment among the
people of his circle, which aimed at nothing less than the emancipation
of the world from its old-fashioned decencies.

But he would not answer hastily; he had a coward's caution. He looked a
moment at the girl's brilliant color, her quick, high breathing, her
eager eyes, with a gloating sense of his good luck. But he wanted her
thoroughly committed. So he said, with an air in which there was
already something offensively protecting:

"Well, Miss Matchin, that depends on the speer. If the affection be
unilateral, it is one thing; if it be recippercal, it is another. The
currents of soul works in different ways."

"But what I mean is, if a young lady likes a young gentleman pretty
well, how is she going to find out for sure whether he likes her?" She
went intrepidly through these words, though her cheeks were burning,
and her eyes would fall in spite of her, and her head was singing.

There was no longer any doubt in Bott's mind. He was filled with an
insolent triumph, and thought only of delaying as long as possible the
love chase of which he imagined himself the object. He said, slowly and
severely:

"The question is too imperious to be answered in haste. I will put
myself in the hands of the sperruts, and answer it as they choose after
the intermission."

He rose and bowed, and went to speak a word or two to his other
visitors. Sam came back and took his seat by Maud, and said:

"I think the fun is about over. Less go home."

"Go home yourself, if you want to," was the petulant reply. "I am going
to stay for the inspirational discourse."

"Oh, my!" said Sam. "That's a beautiful word. You don't know how pretty
your mouth looks when you say that." Sam had had his beer, and was
brave and good-natured.

Bott retired once more behind the railing, but took his seat in a chair
outside the curtain, in full view of the audience. He sat for some
minutes motionless, staring at vacancy. He then slowly closed his eyes,
and a convulsive shudder ran through his frame. This was repeated at
rapid intervals, with more or less violence. He next passed his hands
alternately over his forehead, as if he were wiping it, and throwing
some invisible, sticky substance, with a vicious snap, to right and
left. At last, after a final shudder, which stiffened him into the
image of death for a moment, he rose to his feet and, leaning on the
railing, began to intone, in a dismal whine, a speech of which we need
give only the opening words.

"Dear brothers and sisters of the earth-life! On pearly wings of
gossamer-down we float down from our shining speers to bring you
messages of the higher life. Let your earth-soul be lifted to meet our
sperrut-soul; let your earth-heart blend in sweet accordion with our
heaven-heart; that the beautiful and the true in this weary earth-life
may receive the bammy influence of the Eden flowrets, and rise, through
speers of disclosure, to the plane where all is beautiful and all is
true."

He continued in this strain for some time, to the evident edification
of his audience, who listened with the same conventional tolerance, the
same trust that it is doing your neighbor good, with which the ordinary
audience sits under an ordinary sermon. Maud, having a special reason
for being alert, listened with a real interest. But during his speech
proper he made no allusion to the subject on which she had asked for
light. It was after he had finished his harangue, and had gone through
an _entr'acte_ of sighs and shudders, that he announced himself once
more in the hands of the higher intelligences, and ready to answer
questions. "It does not need," he whined, "the word of the month or the
speech of the tongue to tell the sperruts what your souls desire. The
burden of your soul is open to the sperrut-eye. There sits in this room
a pure and lovely soul in quest of light. Its query is, How does heart
meet heart in mutual knowledge?"

Maud's cheek grew pale and then red, and her heart beat violently. But
no one noticed her, and the seer went on. "If a true heart longs for
another, there is no rest but in knowledge, there is no knowledge but
in trewth, there is no trewth but in trust. Oh, my brother, if you love
a female, tell your love. Oh, my sister, if you love--hum--if you
love--hum--an individual of the opposite sex--oh, tell your love!--Down
with the shams of a false-hearted society; down with the chains of
silence that crushes your soul to the dust! If the object of your
hearts' throbs is noble, he will respond. Love claims love. Love has a
right to love. If he is base, go to a worthier one. But from your brave
and fiery heart a light will kindle his, and dual flames will wrap two
chosen natures in high-menial melodies, when once the revelating word
is spoke."

With these words he subsided into a deep trance, which lasted till the
faithful grew tired of waiting, and shuffled slowly out of the door.
When the last guest had gone, he rose from his chair, with no pretence
of spiritual dignity, and counted his money and his tickets. He
stretched himself in two chairs, drew his fingers admiringly through
his lank locks, while a fatuous grin of perfect content spread over his
face, as he said aloud to himself, "She has got it bad. I wonder
whether she will have the nerve to ask me. I'll wait awhile, anyhow.
I'll lose nothing by waiting."

Meanwhile, Maud was walking rapidly home with Sam. She was excited and
perplexed, and did not care to answer Sam's rather heavy pleasantries
over the evening's performance. He ridiculed the spirit-lights, the
voices, and the jugglery, without provoking a reply, and at last he
said:

"Well, what do you think of his advising the girls to pop? This ain't
leap year!"

"What of that?" she answered, hastily. "I don't see why a girl hasn't
as good a right to speak her mind as a man."

"Why, Mattie," said Sam, with slow surprise, "no decent girl would do
that."

They had come to Matchin's gate. She slipped in, then turned and said:

"Well, don't be frightened, Mr. Sleeny; I'm not going to propose to
you," and she was gone from his sight.

She went directly to her room, and walked up and down a few moments
without taking off her hat, moving with the easy grace and the
suppressed passion of an imprisoned panther. Then she lighted her lamp
and placed it on her bureau at one side of her glass. She searched in
her closet and found a candle, which she lighted and placed on the
other side of the glass. She undressed with reckless haste, throwing
her clothes about on the floor, and sat down before her mirror with
bare arms and shoulders, and nervously loosened her hair, watching
every movement with blazing eyes. The thick masses of her blue-black
curls fell down her back and over her sloping shoulders, which glowed
with the creamy light of old ivory. The unequal rays of the lamp and
candle made singular effects of shadow on the handsome face, the
floating hair, and the strong and wholesome color of her neck and arms.
She gazed at herself with eager eyes and parted lips, in an anxiety too
great to be assuaged by her girlish pride in her own beauty. "This is
all very well," she said, "but he will not see me this way. Oh! if I
only dared to speak first. I wonder if it would be as the spirits said.
'If he is noble he will respond!' He _is_ noble, that's sure. 'Love
claims love,' they said. But I don't know as I love him. I _would_, if
that would fetch him, quick enough;" and the hot blood came surging up,
covering neck and brow with crimson.



VIII.


A BUD AND A BLOSSOM.


Farnham was sitting the next evening in his library, when Budsey
entered and said Mr. Ferguson desired to see him. The gaunt Scotchman
came in and said with feverish haste: "The cereus grandiflorus will be
goin' to bloom the night. The buds are tremblin' and laborin' now."
Farnham put on his hat and went to the conservatory, which was
separated from the house by the entire extent of the garden. Arriving
there, the gardener took him hurriedly to an inner room, dimly
lighted,--a small square piece between the ferns and the grapes,--where
the regal flower had a wall to itself. Two or three garden chairs were
disposed about the room. Ferguson mounted on one of them, and turned up
the gas so that its full light shone upon the plant. The bud was a very
large one, perfect and symmetrical; the strong sheath, of a rich and
even brown, as yet showed only a few fissures of its surface, but even
now a faint odor stole from the travailing sphere, as from a cracked
box of alabaster filled with perfume.

The face of the canny Fergus was lighted up with an eager joy. He had
watched the growth and progress of this plant from its infancy. He had
leaned above its cradle and taken pride in its size and beauty. He had
trained it over the wall--from which he had banished every rival--in
large and graceful curves, reaching from the door of the fernery to the
door of the grapery, till it looked, in the usual half light of the dim
chamber, like a well-regulated serpent maturing its designs upon the
neighboring paradise; and now the time was come when he was to see the
fruit of his patience and his care.

"Heaven be thankit," he murmured devoutly, "that I was to the fore when
it came."

"I thank you, Fergus, for calling me," said Farnham, smiling. "I know
it must have cost you an effort to divide such a sight with any one."

"It's your siller bought it," the Scotchman answered sturdily; "but
there's nobody knows it, or cares for it, as I do,--and that's the
truth."

His glance was fixed upon the bud, which seemed to throb and stir as he
spoke. The soft explosive force within was at work so strongly that the
eye could watch its operation. The fissures of the sheath widened
visibly and turned white as the two men looked at them.

"It is a shame to watch this beautiful thing happening for only us,"
Farnham said to the gardener. "Go and tell Mrs. Belding, with my
compliments, and ask her and Miss Belding to come down." But observing
his crestfallen expression, he took compassion on him and said: "No,
you had better remain, for fear something should happen in your
absence. I will go for the ladies."

"I hope ye'll not miss it," said Fergus, but his eyes and his heart
were fixed upon the bud, which was slowly gaping apart, showing a faint
tinge of gold in its heart.

Farnham walked rapidly up the garden, and found the Beldings at the
door, starting for evening service with their prayer-books in their
hands.

"Do you wish to see the prettiest thing you ever saw in your lives? of
course I except your mirrors when in action," he began, without
salutation. "If so, come this moment to my conservatory. My
night-blooming cereus has her coming-out party tonight."

They both exclaimed with delight, and were walking with him toward the
garden. Suddenly, Mrs. Belding stopped and said:

"Alice, run and get your sketch-book and pencil. It will be lovely to
draw the flower."

"Why, mamma! we shall not have time for a sketch."

"There, there! do as I tell you, and do not waste time in disputing."

The young girl hesitated a moment, and then, with instinctive
obedience, went off to fetch the drawing materials, while her mother
said to Farnham:

"Madame de Veaudrey says Alice is very clever with her pencil; but she
is so modest I shall have to be severe with her to make her do
anything. She takes after me. I was very clever in my lessons, but
never would admit it."

Alice came down the steps. Farnham, seeing her encumbered by her books,
took them from her, and they went down the walks to the conservatory.
They found Ferguson sitting, with the same rapt observation, before his
tropical darling. As the ladies entered, he rose to give them seats,
and then retired to the most distant corner of the room, where he spent
the rest of the evening entirely unaware of any one's presence, and
given up to the delight of his eyes. The bud was so far opened that the
creamy white of the petals could be seen within the riven sheath, whose
strong dark color exquisitely relieved the pallid beauty it had guarded
so long. The silky stamens were still curled about the central style,
but the splendor of color which was coming was already suggested, and a
breath of intoxicating fragrance stole from the heart of the immaculate
flower.

They spoke to each other in low tones, as if impressed with a sort of
awe at the beautiful and mysterious development of fragrant and lovely
life going forward under their sight. The dark eyes of Alice Belding
were full of that vivid happiness which strange and charming things
bring to intelligent girlhood. She was looking with all her soul, and
her breath was quick and high, and her soft red lips were parted and
tremulous. Farnham looked from her to the flower, and back again,
gazing on both with equal safety, for the one was as unconscious of his
admiring glances as the other.

Suddenly, the sound of bells floated in from the neighboring street,
and both of the ladies started. "No, don't you go," said Mrs. Belding
to her daughter. "I must, because I have to see my 'Rescue the
Perishing.' But you can just as well stay here and make your sketch.
Mr. Farnham can take care of you, and I will be back in an hour."

"But, mamma!" cried Miss Alice, too much scandalized to speak another
word.

"I won't have you lose this chance," her mother continued. "I am sure
Mr. Farnham will not object to taking care of you a little while; and
if he hasn't the time, Fergus will bring you home--hm, Fergus?"

"Ay, madam, with right guid will," the gardener said, his hard face
softening into a smile.

"There, sit down in that chair and begin your sketch. It is lovely just
as it is." She waited until Alice, whose confusion had turned her face
crimson, had taken her seat, opened her sketch-book, and taken her
pencils in her trembling hands, and then the brisk and hearty woman
drew her shawl about her and bustled to the door.

"I will walk to the church door with you," said Farnham, to the
infinite relief of Alice, who regained her composure at the instant,
and began with interest to sketch the flower. She thought, while her
busy fingers were at work, that she had perhaps been too prudish in
objecting to her mother's plan. "He evidently thinks nothing of it, and
why should I?"

By the time Farnham returned, the cereus had attained its full glory of
bloom. Its vast petals were thrown back to their fullest extent, and
shone with a luminous beauty in which its very perfume seemed visible;
the countless recurved stamens shot forth with the vigorous impulse and
vitality of sun rays; from the glowing centre to the dark fringe with
which the shattered sheath still accented its radiant outline it blazed
forth, fully revealed; and its sweet breath seemed the voice of a pride
and consciousness of beauty like that of the goddess on Mount Ida,
calmly triumphant in the certainty of perfect loveliness.

Alice had grown interested in her task, and looked up for only an
instant with her frank, clear eyes as Farnham entered. "Now, where
shall I sit?" he asked. "Here, behind your right elbow, where I can
look over your shoulder and observe the work as it goes on?"

"By no means. My hand would lose all its little cunning in that case."

"Then I will sit in front of you and study the artistic emotions in
your face."

"That would be still worse, for you would hide my subject. I am sure
you are very well as you are," she added, as he seated himself in a
chair beside her, a little way off.

"Yes, that is very well. I have the flower three-quarters and you in
profile. I will study the one for a panel and the other for a medal."

Miss Alice laughed gently. She laughed often from sheer good humor,
answering the intention of what was said to her better than by words.

"Can you sketch and talk too?" asked Farnham.

"I can sketch and listen," she said. "You will talk and keep me
amused."

"Amusement with malice aforethought! The order affects my spirits like
a Dead March. How do the young men amuse young ladies nowadays? Do they
begin by saying, 'Have you been very gay lately?'"

Again Miss Alice laughed. "She is an easy-laughing girl," thought
Farnham. "I like easy-laughing girls. When she laughs, she always
blushes a very little. It is worth while talking nonsense to see a girl
laugh so pleasantly and blush so prettily."

It is not worth while, however, to repeat all the nonsense Farnham
uttered in the next hour. He got very much interested in it himself,
and was so eager sometimes to be amusing that he grew earnest, and the
gentle laugh would cease and the pretty lips would come gravely
together. Whenever he saw this he would fall back upon his trifling
again. He had the soldier's fault of point-blank compliment, but with
it an open sincerity of manner which relieved his flattery of any
offensiveness. He had practised it in several capitals with some
success. A dozen times this evening, a neat compliment came to his lips
and stopped there. He could hardly understand his own reserve before
this laughing young lady. Why should he not say something pretty about
her hair and eyes, about her graceful attitude, about the nimble play
of her white fingers over the paper? He had uttered frank flatteries to
peeresses without rebuke. But he held his hand before this school-girl,
with the open dark-brown eyes and a club of yellow hair at the back of
her neck. He could not help feeling that, if he talked to her with any
forcing of the personal accent, she would stop laughing and the clear
eyes would be troubled. He desired anything rather than that, and so
the conversation went rattling on as free from personalities as the
talk of two light-hearted and clever schoolboys.

At one moment he was describing a bill of fare in a Colorado hotel.

"With nice bread, though, one can always get on," she said.

"True," Farnham answered; "but this bread was of a ghostly pallor and
flatness, as if it had been baked by moonlight on a grave-stone."

"The Indian women cook well, do they not?" she asked.

"Some are not so bad as others. One young chief boasted to me of his
wife's culinary accomplishments. He had been bragging all the morning
about his own exploits, of the men he had killed and the horses he had
stolen, and then to establish his standing clearly in my mind, he
added: 'My squaw same white squaw--savey pie.'"

"Even there, then, the trail of the pie-crust is over them all."

"No! only over the aristocracy."

"I should like so much to see that wonderful country."

"It is worth seeing," he said, with a curious sinking of the heart, "if
you are not under orders."

He could not help thinking what a pleasant thing a journey through that
Brobdingnaggian fairy-land would be with company like the young girl
before him. Nature would be twice as lovely reflected from those brown
eyes. The absurdities and annoyances of travel would be made delightful
by that frank, clear laugh. The thought of his poor Nellie flitted by
him an instant, too gentle and feeble for reproach. Another stronger
thought had occupied his mind.

"You ought to see it. Your mother will need rest before long from her
Rescue-the-Perishings, and you are overworking yourself dreadfully over
that sketch-book. There is a touch of malaria about the fountain in
Bluff Park. Colorado will do you both no end of good. I feel as if I
needed it myself. I haven't energy enough to read Mr. Martin's 'Life of
the Prince Consort.' I shall speak to Mrs. Belding as soon as she
returns."

"Do, by all means. I should like to go, but mamma would not spend three
nights in a sleeping-car to see the Delectable Mountains themselves."

He rose and walked about the room, looking at the flower and the young
artist from different points of view, and seeing new beauties in each
continually. There were long lapses of conversation, in which Alice
worked assiduously and Farnham lounged about the conservatory, always
returning with a quick word and a keen look at the face of the girl. At
last he said to himself: "Look here! She is not a baby. She is nearly
twenty years old. I have been wondering why her face was so steady and
wise." The thought that she was not a child tilled his heart with
pleasure and his face with light. But his volubility seemed to die
suddenly away. He sat for a good while in silence, and started a little
as she looked up and said:

"Now, if you will be very gentle, you can see my sketch and tell me
what to do next."

It was a pretty and unpretentious picture that she had made. The flower
was faithfully though stiffly given, and nothing especially remarkable
had been attempted or achieved. Farnham looked at the sketch with eyes
in which there was no criticism. He gave Alice a word or two of
heartier praise for her work than she knew she deserved. It was rather
more than she expected, and she was not altogether pleased to be so
highly commended, though she could hardly have said why. Perhaps it was
because it made her think less of his critical faculty. This was not
agreeable, for her admiration of him from her childhood had been one of
the greatest pleasures of her life. She had regarded him as children
regard a brilliant and handsome young uncle. She did not expect from
him either gallantry or equality of treatment.

"There! Do not say too much about it--you will make me ashamed of it.
What does it lack?"

"Nothing, except something on the right to balance the other side. You
might sketch in roughly a half-opened flower on the vine about there,"
indicating the place.

She took her pencils and began obediently to do what he had suggested.
He leaned over her shoulder, so near her she could feel his breath on
the light curls that played about her ear. She wished he would move.
She grew nervous, and at last said:

"I am tired. You put in that flower."

He took the book and pencils from her, as she rose from her chair and
gave him her place, and with a few strong and rapid strokes finished
the sketch.

"After all," she said to herself, with hearty appreciation, "men do
have the advantage of girls. He bothered me dreadfully, and I did not
bother him in the least. And yet I stood as near to him as he did to
me."

Mrs. Belding came in a moment later. She was in high spirits. They had
had a good meeting--had converted a Jew, she thought. She admired the
sketch very much; hoped Alice had been no trouble to Farnham. He walked
home with the ladies, and afterward smoked a cigar with great
deliberation under the limes.

Mrs. Belding asked Alice how they had got on.

"He did not eat you, you see. You must get out of your ideas of men,
especially men of Arthur Farnham's age. He never thinks of you. He is
old enough to be your father."

Alice kissed her mother and went to her own room, calculating on the
way the difference between her age and Captain Farnham's.



IX.


A DRAMA WITH TWO SPECTATORS.


The words of Bott lingered obstinately in Maud Matchin's mind. She gave
herself no rest from dwelling on them. Her imagination was full, day
after day, of glowing pictures of herself and Farnham in tete-a-tete;
she would seek in a thousand ways to tell her love--but she could never
quite arrange her avowal in a satisfactory manner. Long before she came
to the decisive words which were to kindle his heart to flame in the
imaginary dialogue, he would himself take fire by spontaneous
combustion, and, falling on his knees, would offer his hand, his heart,
and his fortune to her in words taken from "The Earl's Daughter" or the
"Heir of Ashby."

"Oh, pshaw! that's the way it ought to be," she would say to herself.
"But if he won't--I wonder whether I ever could have the brass to do
it? I don't know why I shouldn't. We are both human. Bott wouldn't have
said that if there was nothing in it, and he's a mighty smart man."

The night usually gave her courage. Gazing into her glass, she saw
enough to inspire her with an idea of her own invincibility; and after
she had grown warm in bed she would doze away, resolving with a stout
heart that she would try her fate in the morning. But when day came,
the enterprise no longer seemed so simple. Her scanty wardrobe struck
her with cowardice as she surveyed it. The broad daylight made
everything in the house seem poor and shabby. When she went
down-stairs, her heart sank within her as she entered the kitchen to
help her mother, and when she sat with the family at the breakfast-table,
she had no faith left in her dreams of the rosy midnight. This
alternation of feeling bred in her, in the course of a few days, a sort
of fever, which lent a singular beauty to her face, and a petulant tang
to her speech. She rose one morning, after a sleepless night, in a
state of anger and excitement in which she had little difficulty in
charging upon Farnham all responsibility for her trouble of mind.

"I won't stand it any longer," she said aloud in her chamber. "I shall
go to him this day and have it out. I shall ask him what he means by
treating me so."

She sat down by her bureau and began to crimp her hair with grim
resolution. Her mother came and knocked at her door. "I'm not coming to
breakfast, I've got a headache," she said, and added to herself, "I
sha'n't go down and get the smell of bacon on me this morning."

She continued her work of personal adornment for two hours, going
several times over her whole modest arsenal of finery before she was
ready for the fray. She then went down in her street costume, and made
a hasty meal of bread and butter, standing by the pantry. Her mother
came in and found her there.

"Why, Mattie, how's your head?"

"I'm going to take a walk and see what that will do."

As she walked rapidly out of Dean Street, the great clock of the
cathedral was striking the hour of nine.

"Goodness!" she exclaimed, "that's too early to call on a gentleman.
What shall I do?"

She concluded to spend the time of waiting in the library, and walked
rapidly in that direction, the fresh air flushing her cheeks, and
blowing the frizzed hair prettily about her temples. She went straight
to the reference rooms, and sat down to read a magazine. The girl who
had prompted her to apply for a place was there on duty. She gave a
little cry of delight when she saw Maud, and said:

"I was just crazy to see you. I have got a great secret for you. I'm
engaged!"

The girls kissed each other with giggles and little screams, and the
young woman told who _he_ was--in the lightning-rod business in
Kalamazoo, and doing very well; they were to be married almost
immediately.

"You never saw such a fellow, he just won't wait;" and consequently her
place in the library would be vacant. "Now, you must have it, Maud! I
haven't told a soul. Even the Doctor don't know it yet."

Maud left the library and walked up the avenue with an easier mind. She
had an excuse for her visit now, and need not broach, unless she liked,
the tremendous subject that made her turn hot and cold to think of. She
went rustling up the wide thoroughfare at a quick pace; but before
arriving at Farnham's, moved by a momentary whim, she turned down a
side street leading to Bishop's Lane. She said to herself, "I will go
in by that little gate once, if I never do again." As she drew near,
she thought, "I hope Sam isn't there."

Sam was there, just finishing his work upon the greenhouse. Farnham was
there also; he had come down to inspect the job, and he and Sleeny were
chatting near the gate as Maud opened it and came in. Farnham stepped
forward to meet her. The unexpected rencounter made her shy, and she
neither spoke to Sam nor looked toward him, which filled him with a
dull jealousy.

"Could I have a few moments' conversation with you, sir?" she asked,
with stiff formality.

"Certainly," said Farnham, smiling. "Shall we go into the house?"

"Thank you, sir," she rejoined, severely decorous. They walked up the
garden-path together, and Sam looked after them with an unquiet heart.

She was walking beside Farnham with a stately step, in spite of the
scabbard-like narrowness of the dress she wore. She was nearly as tall
as he, and as graceful as a young pine blown to and fro by soft winds.
The carpenter, with his heart heavy with love and longing, felt a
bitter sense that she was too fine for him. They passed into the house,
and he turned to his work with a sigh, often dropping his busy hands
and looking toward the house with a dumb questioning in his eyes. After
a half hour which seemed endless to him, they reappeared and walked
slowly down the lawn. There was trouble and agitation in the girl's
face, and Farnham was serious also. As they came by the rose-house,
Maud paused and looked up with a sorrowful smile and a question.
Farnham nodded, and they walked to the open door of the long, low
building. He led the way in, and Maud, looking hastily around, closed
the door behind them.

"He's goin' to give her some more of them roses," said Sam, explaining
the matter to himself. But he worked for some time with his blond beard
on his shoulder in his impatience to see them come out. At last, he
could resist no longer. He knew a point where he could look through the
glass and see whatever was taking place among the roses. He walked
swiftly across the turf to that point. He looked in and saw Maud,
whose back was turned toward him, talking as if she were pleading for
her life, while Farnham listened with a clouded brow. Sleeny stood
staring with stupid wonder while Maud laid her hand upon Farnham's
shoulder. At that moment he heard footsteps on the gravel walk at some
distance from him, and he looked up and saw Mrs. Belding approaching.
Confused at his attitude of espionage, he walked away from his post,
and, as he passed her, Mrs. Belding asked him if he knew where Mr.
Farnham was.

"Yes," he answered, "he's in there. Walk right in;" and in the midst of
his trouble of spirit he could hardly help chuckling at his own
cleverness as he walked, in his amazement, back to the conservatory.

While she was in the house, Maud had confined herself to the subject of
the vacancy in the library. She rushed at it, as a hunter at a hedge,
to get away from the other matter which had tormented her for a week.
When she found herself alone with Farnham she saw that it would be
"horrid" to say what she had so long been rehearsing. "Now I can get
that place, if you will help me. No earthly soul knows anything about
it, and Minnie said she would give me a good chance before she let it
out."

Farnham tried to show her the difficulties in the way. He was led by
her eagerness into a more detailed account of his differences with the
rest of the board than he had ever given to any one, a fuller narrative
than was perhaps consistent with entire prudence. Whenever he paused,
she would insist with a woman's disconcerting directness:

"But they don't know anything about it this time--they can't combine on
anybody. You can certainly get one of them."

Farnham still argued against her sanguine hopes, till he at last
affected her own spirits, and she grew silent and despondent. As she
rose to go, he also took his hat to return to the garden, where he had
left Sleeny, and they walked over the lawn together. As they approached
the rose-house, she thought of her former visit and asked to repeat it.
The warm breath of the flowers saluted her as she crossed the
threshold, bringing so vivid a reminiscence of the enchantment of that
other day, that there came with it a sudden and poignant desire to try
there, in that bewitched atmosphere, the desperate experiment which
would decide her fate. There was no longer any struggle in her mind.
She could not, for her life, have kept silent now. She walked slowly
beside him to the place where the pots of roses stood ranged on their
frames, filling the air with dense fragrance. Her hands were icy cold
and quick flushes passed through her, while her face reddened and paled
like a horizon smitten by heat-lightning in a sultry night of summer.
She looked at the moist brick pavement at her feet, her eyelids seemed
too heavy to lift, and the long lashes nearly touched her cheeks.

"What sort will you have?" said Farnham, reaching for the gardener's
shears.

"Never mind the roses," she said, in a dry voice which she hardly
recognized as her own. "I have something to say to you."

He turned and looked at her with surprise. She raised her eyes to his
with a great effort, and then, blushing fiery red, she said, in a
clear, low voice, "I love you."

Like many another daughter and son of Eve, she was startled at the
effect of these momentous words upon herself. Of all forms of speech
these three words are the most powerful, the most wonderworking upon
the being who utters them. It was the first time they had ever passed
her lips, and they exalted and inebriated her. She was suddenly set
free from the bashful constraint which had held her, and with a leaping
pulse and free tongue she poured out her heart to the astonished and
scandalized young man.

"Yes, I love you. You think it's horrid that I should say so, don't
you? But I don't care, I love you. I loved you the first time I saw
you, though you made me so angry about my glasses. But you were my
master, and I knew it, and I never put them on again. And I thought of
you day and night, and I longed for the day to come when I might see
you once more, and I was glad when I did not get that place, so that I
could come again and see you and talk with you. I can tell you over
again every word you ever said to me. You were not like other men. You
are the first real man I ever knew. I was silly and wild when I wanted
to be your secretary. Of course, that wouldn't do. If I am not to be
your wife, I must never see you again; you know that, don't you?" and,
carried away by her own reckless words, she laid her hand on his
shoulder. His frown of amazement and displeasure shook her composure
somewhat. She turned pale and trembled, her eyes fell, and it seemed
for an instant as if she would sink to the floor at his feet. He put
his arm around her, to keep her from falling and pressed her closely to
him. She threw her head back upon his shoulder and lifted her face to
him. He looked down on her, and the frown passed from his brow as he
surveyed her flushed cheeks, her red full lips parted in breathless
eagerness; her dark eyes were wide open, the iris flecked with golden
sparks and the white as clear and blue-tinged as in the eyes of a
vigorous infant; her head lay on his shoulder in perfect content, and
she put up her mouth to him as simply and as sure of a response as a
pretty child. He was entirely aware of the ridiculousness of his
position, but he stooped and kissed her.

Her work seemed all done; but her satisfaction lasted only a second.
Her face broke into happy smiles.

"You do love me, do you not?" she asked.

"I certainly do not," he answered; and at that instant the door opened
and Mrs. Belding saw this pretty group of apparent lovers on a rich
background of Jacqueminot roses.

Startled more at the words of Farnham than at the entry of Mrs.
Belding, Maud had started up, like Vivien, "stiff as a viper frozen."
Her first thought was whether she had crushed her hat on his shoulder,
and her hands flew instinctively to her head-gear. She then walked
tempestuously past the astonished lady out into the garden and brushed
roughly by Sleeny, who tried to detain her.

"Hold your tongue, Sam! I hate you and all men"; and with this general
denunciation, she passed out of the place, flaming with rage and shame.

Mrs. Belding stood for a moment speechless, and then resorted to the
use of that hard-worked and useful monosyllable,

"Well!" with a sharp, falling inflection.

"Well!" returned Farnham, with an easy, rising accent; and then both of
them relieved the strained situation with a laugh.

"Come, now," said the good-natured woman, "I am a sort of guardian of
yours. Give an account of yourself."

"That is easily given," said Farnham. "A young woman, whose name I
hardly know, came to me in the garden this morning to ask for help to
get some lady-like work to do. After discussing that subject
threadbare, she came in here for a rose, and, apropos of nothing, made
me a declaration and a proposal of honorable wedlock, _dans toutes les
formes_."

"The forms were evident as I entered," said Mrs. Belding, dryly.

"I could not let her drop on the damp floor," said Farnham, who was
astonished to find himself positively blushing under the amused
scrutiny of his mother-confessor. "Consider, if you please, my dear
madam, that this is the first offer I have ever received, and I was
naturally somewhat awkward about declining it. We shall learn better
manners as we go along."

"You did decline, then?" said Mrs. Belding, easily persuaded of the
substantial truth of the story, and naturally inclined, as is the way
of woman, to the man's side. Then, laughing at Arthur's discomfiture,
she added, "I was about to congratulate you."

"I deserve only your commiseration."

"I must look about and dispose of you in some way. You are evidently
too rich and too fascinating. But I came over to-day to ask you what I
ought to do about my Lake View farm. I have two offers for it; if I had
but one, I would take either--well, you know what I mean;" and the
conversation became practical. After that matter was disposed of, she
said, with a keen side-glance at Farnham, "That was a very pretty girl.
I hope you will not be exposed to such another attack; I might not be
so near the next time."

"That danger, thanks to you, is over; Mademoiselle will never return,"
he answered, with an air of conviction.

Mrs. Belding went home with no impression left of the scene she had
witnessed but one of amusement. She thought of it only as "a good joke
on Arthur Farnham." She kept chuckling to herself over it all day, and
if she had had any especial gossip in the town, she would have put on
her hat and hurried off to tell it. But she was a woman who lived very
much at home, and, in fact, cared little for tattling. She was several
times on the point of sharing the fun of it with her daughter, but was
prevented by an instinctive feeling that it was hardly the sort of
story to tell a young girl about a personal acquaintance. So she
restrained herself, though the solitary enjoyment of it irritated her.

They were sitting on the wide porch which ran around two sides of the
house just as twilight was falling. The air was full of drowsy calls
and twitters from the grass and the trees. The two ladies had been
sitting ever since dinner, enjoying the warm air of the early summer,
talking very little, and dropping often into long and contented
silences. Mrs. Belding had condescended to grenadine in consideration
of the weather, and so looked less funereal than usual. Alice was
dressed in a soft and vapory fabric of creamy bunting, in the midst of
which her long figure lay reclined in an easy chair of Japanese bamboo;
she might have posed for a statue of graceful and luxurious repose.
There was light enough from the rising moon and the risen stars to show
the clear beauty of her face and the yellow lustre of her hair; and her
mother cast upon her from time to time a glance of pride and fondness,
as if she were a recovered treasure to which the attraction of novelty
had just been added anew.

"They say she looks as I did at her age," thought the candid lady; "but
they must flatter me. My nose was never so straight as that: her nose
is Belding all over. I wonder whom she will care about here? Mr. Furrey
is a nice young man, but she is hardly polite to him. There he is now."

The young man came briskly up the walk, and ran up the steps so quickly
that he tripped on the last one and dropped his hat. He cleverly
recovered it, however, and made very elaborate bows to both the ladies,
hoping that he found them quite well. Mrs. Belding bustled about to
give him a chair, at which Alice knitted her pretty brows a little. She
had scarcely moved her eyelashes to greet her visitor; but when Mrs.
Belding placed a light chair near her daughter and invited Mr. Furrey
to take it, the young lady rose from her reclining attitude and sat
bolt upright with a look of freezing dignity. The youth was not at all
abashed, but took his seat, with his hat held lightly by the brim in
both hands. He was elegantly dressed, in as faithful and reverent an
imitation as home talent could produce of the costume of the gentlemen
who that year were driving coaches in New York. His collar was as stiff
as tin; he had a white scarf, with an elaborate pin constructed of
whips and spurs and horseshoes. He wore dog-skin gloves, very tight and
red. His hair was parted in the middle with rigorous impartiality and
shed rather rank fragrance on the night. He began conversation with an
easy air, in which there was something of pleasurable excitement mixed.

"I come to receive your congratulations, ladies!"

"What, you are engaged?" said Mrs. Belding, and even the placid face of
Miss Alice brightened with a look of pleased inquiry.

"Oh, dear, no; how could you think so?" he protested, with an arch look
at Alice which turned her to marble again. "I mean I have this day been
appointed assistant cashier of our bank!" Napoleon, informing Madame de
Beauharnais [* - Perhaps Josephine told Napoleon herself, but I think
she was clever enough to let him imagine he owed the appointment to his
merits.] that he was to command the army of Italy, probably made less
ado about it.

Mrs. Belding made haste to murmur her congratulations. "Very
gratifying, I am sure,--at your age;" to which Alice responded like a
chorus, but without any initiative warmth, "Very gratifying, I am
sure."

Furrey went on at some length to detail all the circumstances of the
event: how Mr. Lathers, the president of the bank, had sent for him,
and how he complimented him; how he had asked him where he learned to
write such a good hand; and how he had replied that it came sort of
natural to him to write well, that he could make the American eagle
with pen and ink before he was fifteen, all but the tail-feathers, and
how he discovered a year later that the tail-feathers had to be made by
holding the pen between the first and second fingers; with much more to
the like innocent purpose, to which Mrs. Belding listened with nods and
murmurs of approval. This was all the amiable young man needed to
encourage him to indefinite prattle. He told them all about the men in
the bank, their habits and their loves and their personal relations to
him, and how he seemed somehow to be a general favorite among them all.
Miss Alice sat very still and straight in her chair, with an occasional
smile when the laughter of Mr. Furrey seemed to require it, but with
her eyes turned to the moonlit night in vagrant reverie, and her mind
in those distant and sacred regions where we cannot follow the minds of
pure and happy girls.

"Now, you would hardly understand, if I did not tell you," said Mr.
Furrey, "how it is that I have gained the confidence----"

At this moment Alice, who had been glancing over Mr. Furrey's shoulder
for a moment with a look of interest in her eyes, which he thought was
the legitimate result of his entertaining story, cried:

"Why, there comes Mr. Farnham, mamma."

"So it is," said her mother. "I suppose he wants to see me. Don't move,
Mr. Furrey. Mr. Farnham and I will go into the house."

"By no means," said that gentleman, who by this time had mounted the
steps. "I was sitting all alone on my porch and saw by the moon that
yours was inhabited; and so I came over to improve my mind and manners
in your society."

"I will get a chair for you," said Mrs. Belding.

"No, thank you; this balustrade will bear my weight, and my ashes will
drop harmless on the flower-bed, if you will let me finish my cigar."
And he seated himself between the chair of Furrey and the willow fabric
in which Alice had resumed her place. This addition to the company was
not at all to the taste of the assistant cashier, who soon took his
leave, shaking hands with the ladies, with his best bow.

"After all, I do prefer a chair," said Farnham, getting down from his
balustrade, and throwing away his cigar.

He sat with his back to the moonlight. On his left was Alice, who, as
soon as Furrey took his departure, settled back in her willow chair in
her former attitude of graceful ease. On the right was Mrs. Belding, in
her thin, cool dress of gauzy black. Farnham looked from one to the
other as they talked, and that curious exercise, so common to young men
in such circumstances, went through his mind. He tried to fancy how
Mrs. Belding looked at nineteen, and how Miss Belding would look at
fifty, and the thought gave him singular pleasure. His eyes rested with
satisfaction on the kindly and handsome face of the widow, her fine
shoulders and arms, and comfortable form, and then, turning to the pure
and exquisite features of the tall girl, who was smiling so freshly and
honestly on him, his mind leaped forward through corning years, and he
said to himself: "What a wealth of the woman there is there--for
somebody." An aggressive feeling of disapproval of young Furrey took
possession of him, and he said, sharply:

"What a very agreeable young man Mr. Furrey is?"

Mrs. Belding assented, and Miss Alice laughed heartily, and his mind
was set at rest for the moment.

They passed a long time together. At first Mrs. Belding and Arthur
"made the expenses" of the conversation; but she soon dropped away, and
Alice, under the influence of the night and the moonlight and Farnham's
frank and gentle provocation, soon found herself talking with as much
freedom and energy as if it were a girls' breakfast. With far more,
indeed,--for nature takes care of such matters, and no girl can talk to
another as she can to a man, under favoring stars. The conversation
finally took a personal turn, and Alice, to her own amazement, began to
talk of her life at school, and with sweet and loving earnestness sang
the praises of Madame de Veaudrey.

"I wish you could know her," she said to Farnham, with a sudden impulse
of sympathy. He was listening to her intently, and enjoying her eager,
ingenuous speech as much as her superb beauty, as the moon shone full
on her young face, so vital and so pure at once, and played, as if glad
of the privilege, about the curved lips, the flashing teeth, the soft
eyes under their long lashes, and the hair over the white forehead,
gleaming as crisply brilliant as fine-spun wire of gold.

"By her fruits I know her, and I admire her very much," he said, and
was sorry for it the moment afterward, for it checked the course of the
young girl's enthusiasm and brought a slight blush to her cheek.

"I ought to have known better," he said to himself with real penitence,
"than to utter a stupid commonplace to such a girl when she was talking
so earnestly." And he tried to make amends, and succeeded in winning
back her attention and her slow unconscious smiles by talking to her of
things a thousand miles away. The moon was silvering the tops of the
linden-trees at the gates before they thought of the flight of time,
and they had quite forgotten the presence of Mrs. Belding when her
audible repose broke in upon their talk. They looked at each other, and
burst into a frank laugh, full of confidence and comradeship, which the
good lady heard in her dreams and waked, saying, "What are you laughing
at? I did not catch that last witticism."

The young people rose from their chairs. "I can't repeat my own mots,"
said Arthur: "Miss Belding will tell you."

"Indeed I shall not," replied Alice. "It was not one of his best,
mamma."

She gave him her hand as he said "Good-night," and it lay in his firm
grasp a moment without reserve or tremor.

"You are a queer girl, Alice," said Mrs. Belding, as they walked into
the drawing-room through the open window. "You put on your stiffest
company manners for Mr. Furrey, and you seem entirely at ease with Mr.
Farnham, who is much older and cleverer, and is noted for his sarcastic
criticisms."

"I do not know why it is, mamma, but I do feel very much at home with
Mr. Farnham, and I do not want Mr. Furrey to feel at home with me."

Upon this, Mrs. Belding laughed aloud. Alice turned in surprise, and
her mother said, "It is too good to keep. I must tell you. It is such a
joke on Arthur;" and, sitting in a low arm-chair, while Alice stood
before her leaning upon the back of another, she told the whole story
of the scene of the morning in the rose-house. She gave it in the
fullest detail, interrupting herself here and there for soft
cachinnations, unmindful of the stern, unsmiling silence with which her
daughter listened.

She finished, with a loud nourish of merriment, and then asked: "Did
you ever hear anything so funny in your life?"

The young lady was turning white and red in an ominous manner, and was
biting her nether lip. Her answer to her mother's question was swift
and brief:

"I never heard anything so horrid," and she moved majestically away
without another word.

Mrs. Belding sat for a moment abashed. "There!" she said to herself, "I
knew very well I ought not to tell her. But it was too good to keep,
and I had nobody else to tell." She went to bed, feeling rather
ill-used. As she passed her daughter's door, she said, "Good-night,
Alice!"  and a voice riot quite so sweet as usual replied, "Good-night,
mamma," but the door was not opened.

Alice turned down her light and sat upon a cushioned seat in the
embrasure of her open window. She looked up at the stars, which swam
and glittered in her angry eyes. With trembling lips and clinched hands
she communed with herself. "Why, why, why did mamma tell me that horrid
story? To think there should be such women in the world! To take such a
liberty with him, of all men! She could not have done it without some
encouragement--and he could not have encouraged her. He is not that
kind of a vulgar flirt at all. But what do I know about men? They may
all be--but I did not think--what business have I thinking about it? I
had better go to bed. I have spent all the evening talking to a man
who--Oh! I wish mamma had not told me that wretched story. I shall
never speak to him again. It is a pity, too, for we are such near
neighbors, and he is so nice, if he were not--But I don't care how nice
he is, she has spoiled him. I wonder who she was. Pretty, was she? I
don't believe a word of it--some bold-faced, brazen creature. Oh! I
shall hate myself if I cry;" but that was past praying for, and she
closed her lattice and went to bed for fear the stars should witness
her unwelcome tears.



X.


A WORD OUT OF SEASON.


Arthur Farnham awoke the next day with a flight of sweet hopes and
fancies singing in his heart and brain. He felt cheerfully and kindly
toward the whole human race. As he walked down into the city to
transact some business he had there with his lawyer, he went out of his
way to speak to little children. He gave all his acquaintances a
heartier "Good-morning" than usual. He even whistled at passing dogs.
The twitter of the sparrows in the trees, their fierce contentions on
the grass, amused him. He leaned over the railing of the fountain in
the square with the idlers, and took a deep interest in the turtles,
who were baking their frescoed backs in the warm sun, as they floated
about on pine boards, amid the bubbles of the clear water.

As he passed by the library building, Dr. Buchlieber was standing in
the door. "Good luck," he said; "I was just wishing to see you. One of
our young women resigned this morning, and I think there may be a
chance for our handsome friend. The meeting, you remember, is this
afternoon."

Farnham hardly recalled the name of the young lady in whose success he
had been so interested, although recent intimate occurrences might have
been expected to fix it somewhat permanently in his remembrance. But
all female images except one had become rather vague in his memory. He
assented, however, to what the doctor proposed, and going away
congratulated himself on the possibility of doing Maud a service and
ridding himself of the faintest tinge of remorse. He was not fatuous or
conceited. He did not for a moment imagine that the girl was in love
with him. He attributed her demonstration in the rose-house to her
"congenital bad breeding," and thought it only one degree worse than
other match-making manoeuvres of which he had been the object in the
different worlds he had frequented. He gave himself no serious thought
about it, and yet he was glad to find an apparent opportunity to be of
use to her. She was poor and pretty. He had taken an interest in her
welfare. It had not turned out very well. She had flung herself into
his arms and been heartily kissed. He could not help feeling there was
a balance against him.

As he turned the corner of the street which led to the attorney's
office where he was going, he saw a man standing by the wall with his
hat off, bowing to him. He returned the unusual salutation and passed
on; it was some moments before he remembered that it was one of his
colleagues on the Library Board. He regretted not having stopped and
made the effort to engage his vote for Maud; but, on second thought, he
reflected that it would be as well to rely upon the surprise of the
three to prevent a combination at the meeting. When he reached the
entrance of the building where his lawyer's offices were, he turned,
with a sense of being pursued by a shuffling footstep which had
hastened its speed the last few paces, and saw his colleague coming up
the steps after him with a perspiring but resolute face.

"Hold on, Cap," he said, coming into the shade of the passage. "I was
thinkin' o' comin' to see you, when I sighted you comin' round the
corner."

"I am glad to see you, Mr. Pennybaker," said Arthur, taking the clumsy
hand which was held out to him.

"Gettin' pretty hot, ain't it?" said Pennybaker, wiping his brow with
his forefinger and dexterously sprinkling the floor with the proceeds
of the action.

"No danger of frost, I think," Arthur assented, admiring the dexterity
of Pennybaker, but congratulating himself that the shake-hands was
disposed of.

"You bet your life. We're going to have it just sizzling from now on."

"Were you wishing to see me about anything in particular?" asked
Farnham, who saw no other way of putting an end to a meteorological
discussion which did not interest him.

"Well, yes," answered Pennybaker, getting around beside Farnham, and
gazing at the wall opposite. "I heerd this mornin' that Minnie Bell was
goin' to get married. My daughter is doing some sewing for her, and it
slipped out that way. She was trying to keep it secret. Some girls is
mighty funny that way. They will do anything to get engaged, and then
they will lie like Sam Hill to make believe they ain't. Well, that
makes a vacancy." He did not turn his head, but he cast a quick glance
sideways at Farnham, who made no answer, and Pennybaker resumed: "So I
thought I would come to you, honor bright, and see if we couldn't agree
what to do. That's me. I'm open and square like a bottle of bitters."

Farnham gave no indication of his surprise at this burst of candor, but
asked:

"What do you propose?"

"That's it," said Pennybaker, promptly. "I don't propose nothing--I
_ex_pose. You hear me--I _ex_pose." He said this with great mystery,
one eye being shut fast and the other only half open. He perceived that
he had puzzled Farnham, and enjoyed it for a moment by repeating his
mot with a chuckle that did not move a muscle of his face. "I'll tell
you the whole thing. There's no use, between gentlemen, of playing the
thing too fine." He took his knife from one pocket and from another a
twist of tobacco, and, cutting off a mouthful, began his story:

"You see, me and Bud Merritt and Joe Dorman have most generally agreed
on paternage, and that was all right. You are well fixed. You don't
want the bother of them little giblets of paternage. We've 'tended to
'em for what there was in 'em and for the good of the party. Now Bud he
wants to be auditor, and he's got Joe to go in with him, because, if he
gits there, Joe's brother-in-law, Tim Dolan, will be his debbity. Bud
is weak in the Third Ward, and he knows it, and he knows that Jake
Runckel can swing that ward like a dead cat; and so they have fixed it
all up to give the next vacancy to Jake for his sister. She's been
turned out of the school for some skylarking, and weighs pretty heavy
on Jake's hands. Very well. That's the game, and I'm a-kickin'! Do you
hear me? I'm a-kickin'!"

Pennybaker pushed up his hat and looked Farnham fairly in the face. The
assertion of his independence seemed to give him great gratification.
He said once more, slowly closing one eye and settling back in his
former attitude against the wall, while he aimed a deluge of
tobacco-juice at the base of the wall before him: "I'm a-kickin' like a
Texas steer."

He waited a moment to allow these impressive words to have their full
effect, while Farnham preserved a serious and attentive face.

"Well, this bein' the case," continued Pennybaker, "I comes to you, as
one gentleman to another, and I asks whether we can't agree against
this selfish and corrupt game of Merritt and Dorman. For, you see, I
don't get a smell out of what they're doin'. I'm out in the cold if
their slate goes through."

"I don't see that I can be of any service to you, Mr. Pennybaker. If I
have any influence in the matter, it shall be given to Miss Matchin,
whom I proposed once before."

"Exactly! Now you're talkin'. Miss Matchin shall have it, on one little
proviso that won't hurt you nor me nor nobody. Say the word, and it's a
whack."

And he lifted up his hand to strike the bargain.

"What is it?" asked Farnham, in a tone which was severe and
contemptuous, in spite of him.

"Namely, just this," answered Pennybaker, "You ain't on the make;
you're fixed. You don't care about these d---- little things except to
help a friend once 'n awhile," he said, in a large and generous way.
"But I ain't that kind yet. I've got to look out for myself--pretty
lively, too. Now, I'll tell you what's my racket. You let me perpose
Miss Matchin's name and then go and tell her father that I put it
through, and it'll be done slick as a whistle. That's all solid, ain't
it?"

Farnham's brow clouded. He did not answer at once. Pennybaker repeated
his question a little anxiously:

"That's all solid, ain't it?"

"You will excuse me, Mr. Pennybaker, if I do not quite understand your
racket, as you call it. I do not see how you make anything out of this.
Matchin is a poor man. You surely do not intend----"

"To strike Saul for a divvy? Nothing of the sort," said Pennybaker,
without the least offence. "The whole thing lies just here. Among
gentlemen there's no use being shy about it. My brother wants to be
assessor in Saul Matchin's ward. Saul's got a lot of influence among
the boys in the planing-mills, and I want his help. You see?"

Farnham thought he saw, and, after assenting to Pennybaker's eager
demand, "That's all solid?" he walked away, too much relieved by the
thought that Maud was provided for to question too closely the morality
of the proceeding which the sordid rascal had exposed to him.

In the afternoon, at the meeting of the board, the programme agreed
upon was strictly carried out.

Pennybaker proposed Miss Matchin's name as soon as the vacancy was
announced, to the amazement of his late confederates. They moved a
postponement, but to no purpose; Maud was elected; and the angry
politicians had no better revenge than to say spitefully to Pennybaker
on the stairs, as they went away, "How much did the Captain give you
for that sell-out?"--a jeer which he met by a smile of conscious
rectitude and a request to be informed the next time they organized a
freeze-out against him. It must be said, however, that he lost no time
in going to Matchin, informing him that he had succeeded in carrying
Maud in by unheard-of exertions, and demanding and receiving on the
spot five per cent of her year's salary, which he called "the usual
commission."

Saul announced the appointment that evening at supper. Maud flushed
crimson, and the tears started to her eyes. She was about to declare
she would not have it, when her father's next words put a different
face on the matter. "And it's no thanks to Cap'n Farnham, neither. He
tried it oncet, and couldn't make the riffle. But me and Joel
Pennybaker got together and done it. And now I hope, Mattie, you'll
behave yourself and save money. It's like a fortun' comin' to you, if
you're smart."

Maud found no reply ready. She could not wholly believe her father's
story. She still fancied the appointment came from Farnham, and there
was a certain bitterness in it; but, on the whole, she received it not
without a secret complacency. Mrs. Matchin's pleasure was checked by
her daughter's morose confusion. Sam made no pretence of being pleased,
but sat, unmoved by Matchin's speech, in scowling silence, and soon
went out without a word of comment. The scene he had witnessed in the
rose-house had poisoned his mind; yet, whenever he looked at Maud, or
tried to speak to her, he was met with an air of such fierce and
beautiful defiance, that his eyes fell and his voice stuck in his
throat. So the piece of good fortune, so anxiously awaited in the
household, brought little delight when it came. Maud reported for duty
next day, and soon learned the routine of her work; but she grew more
and more silent at home, and Saul's hope of a wedding in the family
died away.

Arthur Farnham walked away from the meeting with the feeling of a
school-boy who has finished a difficult task and who thinks he deserves
some compensating pleasure. The day had been fine and warm, but the
breeze of the late afternoon was already blowing in from the lake,
lending freshness and life to the air. The sky was filled with soft
gray clouds, which sailed along at a leisurely rate, evidently on very
good terms with the breeze. As Farnham walked up the avenue, he cast
about in his mind for the sort of dissipation with which he would
reward himself for the day's work and he decided for a ride.

But as he was drawing on his boots, it occurred to him, for the first
time in his life, that it was a churlish and unneighborly proceeding
for him to go riding alone day after day, and that he would be doing no
more than his duty to offer his escort to Miss Belding. He said Miss
Belding to his own thought--making it as formal and respectful as
possible. So, sending an order to his groom to keep his horse at the
stable for a moment, he walked over the lawn to the Belding cottage and
asked for the ladies.

"I believe they are upstairs, sir. Walk into the drawing-room, and I
will see," said the neat housemaid, smiling at Farnham, as indeed was
the general custom of women. He took his seat in the cool and darkened
room facing the door-way, which commanded a view of the stairs. He sat
in a large willow chair very much at his ease, looking about the pretty
salon, enjoying its pictures and ornaments and the fragrance of the
roses in the vases, as if he had a personal interest in them. The maid
came back and said the ladies would be down in a moment.

She had announced Farnham to Mrs. Belding, who had replied, "Tell him,
in a moment." She was in the summer afternoon condition which the
ladies call "dressing-sack," and after an inspection at the glass,
which seemed unsatisfactory, she walked across the hall to her
daughter's room. She found Alice standing by the window, looking out
upon the lake.

"There, I am glad you are all dressed. Arthur Farnham has called, and
you must go down and excuse me. I said I would come, but it will take
me so long to dress, he will get tired of waiting. You run down and see
him. I suppose there is nothing particular."

"Oh, mamma," said Alice, "I don't want to see him, and especially not
alone."

Mrs. Belding made large eyes in her surprise. "Why, Alice, what has got
into you?"

Alice blushed and cast down her eyes. "Mamma," she said, in a low
voice, "do not ask me to go down. You know what you told me last
night."

"There, that will do," said the mother, with a tone of authority.
"Perhaps I was foolish to tell you that silly little story, but I am
the judge of who shall visit this house. You are too young to decide
these questions for me, and I insist that what I told you shall make no
difference in your treatment of Mr. Farnham. You think too much of your
own part in the matter. He has come to see me, and not you, and I wish
you to go down and make my excuses for keeping him waiting. Will you
go?"

"Yes, I will go," said the young girl. The blush had left her cheek and
she had become a trifle pale. She had not raised her eyes from the
floor during her mother's little speech; and when it was over and her
mother had gone back to her room, Alice cast one glance at her mirror,
and with a firm face walked down the stairs to the drawing-room.
Farnham heard the rustle of her dress with a beating of the heart which
filled him with a delicious surprise. "I am not past it, then," was the
thought that came instantly to his mind, and in that one second was a
singular joy. When she came in sight on the stairs, it was like a
sudden enchantment to him. Her beautiful head, crowned with its masses
of hair drawn back into a simple Greek knot; her tall, strong figure,
draped in some light and clinging stuff which imposed no check on her
natural grace and dignity, formed a charming picture as she came down
the long stairs; and Farnham's eyes fastened eagerly upon her white
hand as it glided along the dark walnut baluster. His heart went out to
meet her. He confessed to himself, with a lover's instantaneous
conviction, that there was nothing in the world so utterly desirable as
that tall and fair-haired girl slowly descending the stairs. In the
midst of his tumultuous feeling a trivial thought occurred to him: "I
am shot through the heart by the blind archer," he said to himself; and
he no longer laughed at the old-fashioned symbol of the sudden and
fatal power of love.

But with all this tumult of joy in the senses waking up to their
allegiance, there came a certain reserve. The goddess-like creature who
had so suddenly become the mistress of his soul was a very serious
personage to confront in her new majesty. He did not follow the impulse
of his heart and rush forward as she entered the room. He merely rose
and bowed. She made the faintest possible salutation, and, without
taking a seat, conveyed her mother's excuses in a tone of such studied
coldness that it amused Farnham, who took it as a school-girl's
assumption of a grand and ceremonious manner suitable to a tete-a-tete
with man.

"Thank you," he said, "but I did not come especially to see your
mother. My object was rather to see you." She did not smile or reply,
and he went on, with a slight sensation of chill coming upon him from
this stony dignity, which, the more he observed it, seemed less and
less amusing and not at all artificial. "I came to ask if you would not
like to go to ride this afternoon. It is just gray enough for comfort."

"I thank you very much for being so kind as to think of me," she
replied, "but it will not be convenient for me to go."

"Perhaps the morning will suit better. I will come to-morrow at any
hour you say."

"I shall not be able to go to-morrow either, I think."

Even while exchanging these few words, Alice felt herself growing
slightly embarrassed, and it filled her with dismay. "I am a poor
creature," she thought, "if I cannot get this self-satisfied gentleman
out of the house without breaking down. I can't stand here forever
though," and so she took a seat, and as Arthur resumed his willow chair
with an air of content, she could not but feel that as yet the skirmish
was not in her favor. She called her angry spirit to her aid, and
nerved herself to say something which would promptly close the
interview.

His next words gave her the opportunity.

"But you surely do not intend to give up riding altogether?"

"Certainly not. I hope to ride a good deal. Andrews will go with me."

"Ah! Your objection to me as a groom is entirely personal, then."

"Now for it!" she thought to herself, and she said firmly, "Yes."

But the effort was too great, and after the word was launched her mouth
broke up into a nervous smile, for which she despised herself, but
which she could not control for her life.

Farnham was so pleased with the smile that he cared nothing for the
word, and so he continued in a tone of anxious and coaxing good-nature,
every word increasing her trouble:

"You are wrong as you can be. I am a much better groom than Andrews. He
has rather more style, I admit, on account of his Scotch accent and his
rheumatism. But I might acquire these. I will be very attentive and
respectful. I will ride at a proper distance behind you, if you will
occasionally throw a word and a smile over your shoulder at me."

As he spoke, a quick vision flashed upon him of the loveliness of the
head and shoulder, and the coil of fair hair which he should have
before him if he rode after her, and the illumination of the smile and
the word which would occasionally be thrown back to him from these
perfect lips and teeth and eyes. His voice trembled with love and
eagerness as he pleaded for the privilege of taking her servant's
place. Alice no longer dared to interrupt him, and hardly ventured to
lift her eyes from the floor. She had come down with the firm purpose
of saying something to him which would put an end to all intimacy, and
here, before she had been five minutes in his presence, he was talking
to her in a way that delighted her ears and her heart. He went rattling
on as if fearful that a pause might bring a change of mood. As she
rarely looked up, he could feast his eyes upon her face, where now the
color was coming and going, and on her shapely hands, which were
clasped in her lap. He talked of Colorado as if it were settled that
they were to go there together, and they must certainly have some
preliminary training in rough riding; and then, merely to make
conversation, he spoke of other places that should only be visited on
horseback, always claiming in all of them his post of groom. Alice felt
her trouble and confusion of spirit passing away as the light stream of
talk rippled on. She took little part in it at first, but from
monosyllables of assent she passed on to a word of reply from time to
time; and before she knew how it happened she was engaged in a frank
and hearty interchange of thoughts and fancies, which brought her best
faculties into play and made her content with herself, in spite of the
occasional intrusion of the idea that she had not been true to herself
in letting her just anger die so quickly away.

If Farnham could have seen into the proud and honest heart of the young
girl he was talking to, he would have rested on the field he had won,
and not tempted a further adventure. Her anger against him had been
dissipated by the very effort she had made to give it effect, and she
had fallen insensibly into the old relation of good neighborhood and
unreserved admiration with which she had always regarded him. She had
silenced her scruples by the thought that in talking pleasantly with
him she was obeying her mother, and that after all it was not her
business to judge him. If he could have known his own best interest, he
would have left her then, when her voice and her smile had become gay
and unembarrassed according to their wont, with her conscience at ease
about his faults, and her mind filled with a pleasant memory of his
visit.

But such wisdom was beyond his reach. He had felt suddenly, and once
for all, in the last hour, the power and visible presence of his love.
He had never in his life been so moved by any passion as he was by the
joy that stirred his heart when he heard the rustle of her dress in the
hall and saw her white hand resting lightly on the dark wood of the
stairs. As she walked into the parlor, from her face and her hair, from
every movement of her limbs, from every flutter of her soft and gauzy
garments, there came to him an assertion of her power over him that
filled him with a delicious awe. She represented to him, as he had
never felt it before, the embodied mystery and majesty of womanhood.
During all the long conversation that had followed, he had been
conscious of a sort of dual operation of his mind, like that familiar
to the eaters of hashish. With one part of him he had been carrying on
a light and shallow conversation, as an excuse to remain in her
presence and to keep his eyes upon her, and with all the more active
energies of his being he had been giving himself up to an act of
passionate adoration of her. The thoughts that uttered themselves to
him, as he chatted about all sorts of indifferent things, were
something like these: How can it have ever happened that such beauty,
such dignity, such physical perfection could come together in one
person, and the best and sweetest heart have met them there? If she
knew her value, her pride would ruin her. In her there is everything,
and everything else beside: Galatea, the statue, with a Christian soul.
She is the best that could fall to any man, but better for me than for
any one else. Anybody who sees her must love her, but I was made for
nothing else but to love her. This is what mythologies meant. She is
Venus: she loves laughter, and her teeth and lips are divine. She is
Diana: she makes the night beautiful; she has the eye and the arm of an
athlete goddess. But she is a woman: she is Mrs. Belding's daughter
Alice. Thank heaven, she lives here. I can call and see her. To-morrow,
I shall ride with her. She will love and marry some day like other
women. Who is the man who shall ever kiss her between those straight
brows? And fancies more audacious and extravagant fed the fever of his
heart as he talked deliberate small talk, still holding his hat and
whip in his hand.

He knew it was time he should go, but could not leave the joy of his
eyes and ears. At last his thoughts, like a vase too full, ran over
into speech. It was without premeditation, almost without conscious
intention. The under-tone simply became dominant and overwhelmed the
frivolous surface talk. She had been talking of her mother's plans of
summer travel, and he suddenly interrupted her by saying in the most
natural tone in the world: "I must see your mother before she decides.
I hope you will make no plans without me. I shall go where you go. I
shall never be away from you again, if I can help it. No, no, do not
frown about it. I must tell you. I love you; my whole life is yours."

She felt terribly shocked and alarmed, not so much at his words as at
her own agitation. She feared for a moment she could not rise from her
seat, but she did so with an effort. He rose and approached her,
evidently held in check by her inflexible face; for the crisis had
brought a momentary self-control with it, and she looked formidable
with her knit brows and closed lips.

"Do not go," he pleaded. "Do not think I have been wanting in respect
and consideration. I could not help saying what I did. I cannot live
without you any more than I can without light and sunshine. I ought to
have waited and not startled you. But I have only begun to live since I
loved you, and I feel I must not waste time."

She was deeply disturbed at these wild and whirling words, but still
bore herself bravely. She felt her heart touched by the vibration of
his ardent speech, but her maiden instinct of self defence enabled her
to stand on her guard. Though beaten by the storm of his devotion, she
said to herself that she could get away if she could keep from crying
or sobbing, and one thought which came to her with the swiftness of
lightning gave her strength to resist. It was this: "If I cry, he will
take me in his arms, and we shall repeat the tableau mamma saw in the
rose-house."

Strong in that stimulating thought, she said: "I am too sorry to hear
you say these things. You know how much we have always thought of you.
If you forget all this, and never repeat it, we may still be friends.
But if you renew this subject, I will never speak to you again alone,
as long as I live."

He began to protest; but she insisted, with the calm cruelty of a woman
who sees her advantage over the man she loves. "If you say another
word, it is the end of our acquaintance, and perhaps it is best that it
should end. We can hardly be again as we were."

Farnham was speechless, like one waked in the cold air out of a
tropical dream. He had been carried on for the last hour in a whirlwind
of emotion, and now he had met an obstacle against which it seemed that
nothing could be done. If he had planned his avowal, he might have been
prepared for rejection; but he had been hurried into it with no thought
of what the result would be, and he was equally unprovided for either
issue. In face of the unwavering voice and bearing of Alice, who seemed
ten times more beautiful than ever as she stood before him as steady
and unresponsive as a young Fate, his hot speech seemed suddenly
smitten powerless. He only said:

"It shall be as you wish. If I ever offend you again, I will take my
punishment upon myself and get out of your way."

She did not dare to say another word, for fear it would be too kind.
She gave him her hand; it was soft and warm as he pressed it; and if he
had only known how much softer and warmer her heart was, he would have
covered her hand with a thousand kisses. But he bowed and took his
leave, and she stood by the lattice and saw him go away, with eyes full
of tears and a breast filled with the tenderest ruth and pity--for him
and for herself.



XI.


THE SANTA RITA SHERRY.


Farnham walked down the path to the gate, then turned to go to his own
house, with no very definite idea of what direction he was taking. The
interview he had just had was still powerfully affecting his senses, he
was conscious of no depression from the prompt and decided refusal he
had received. He was like a soldier in his first battle who has got a
sharp wound which does not immediately cripple him, the perception of
which is lost in the enjoyment of a new, keen, and enthralling
experience. His thoughts were full of his own avowal, of the beauty of
his young mistress, rather than of her coldness. Seeing his riding-whip
in his hand, he stared at it an instant, and then at his boots, with a
sudden recollection that he had intended to ride. He walked rapidly to
the stable, where his horse was still waiting, and rode at a brisk trot
out of the avenue for a few blocks, and then struck off into a sandy
path that led to the woods by the river-side.

As he rode, his thoughts were at first more of himself than of Alice.
He exulted over the discovery that he was in love as if some great and
unimagined good fortune had happened to him. "I am not past it, then,"
he said to himself, repeating the phrase which had leaped from his
heart when he saw Alice descending the stairs. "I hardly thought that
such a thing could ever happen to me. She is the only one." His
thoughts ran back to a night in Heidelberg, when he sat in the shadow
of the castle wall with a German student of his acquaintance, and
looked far over the valley at the lights of the town and the rippling
waves of the Neckar, silvered by the soft radiance of the summer moon.

"Poor Hammerstein! How he raved that night about little Bertha von
Eichholz. He called her _Die Einzige_ something like a thousand times.
It seemed an absurd thing to say; I knew dozens just like her, with
blue eyes and Gretchen braids. But Hammerstein meant it, for he shot
himself the week after her wedding with the assessor. But mine _is_ the
Only One--though she is not mine. I would rather love her without hope
than be loved by any other woman in the world."

A few days before he had been made happy by perceiving that she was no
longer a child; now he took infinite pleasure in the thought of her
youth; he tilled his mind and his senses with the image of her
freshness, her clear, pure color, the outline of her face and form.
"She is young and fragrant as spring; she has every bloom and charm of
body and soul," he said to himself, as he galloped over the shady
woodland road. In his exalted mood, he had almost forgotten how he had
left her presence. He delighted in his own roused and wakened passion,
as a devotee in his devotions, without considering what was to come of
it all. The blood was surging through his veins. He was too strong, his
love was too new and wonderful to him, to leave any chance for despair.
It was not that he did not consider himself dismissed. He felt that he
had played a great stake foolishly, and lost. But the love was there,
and it warmed and cheered his heart, like a fire in a great hall,
making even the gloom noble.

He was threading a bridle-path which led up a gentle ascent to a hill
overlooking the river, when his horse suddenly started back with a
snort of terror as two men emerged from the thicket and grasped at his
rein. He raised his whip to strike one of them down; the man dodged,
and his companion said, "None o' that, or I'll shoot your horse." The
sun had set, but it was yet light, and he saw that the fellow had a
cocked revolver in his hand.

"Well, what do you want?" he asked.

"I want you to stop where you are and go back," said the man sullenly.

"Why should I go back? My road lies the other way. You step aside and
let me pass."

"You can't pass this way. Go back, or I'll make you," the man growled,
shifting his pistol to his left hand and seizing Farnham's rein with
his right. His intention evidently was to turn the horse around and
start him down the path by which he had come. Farnham saw his
opportunity and struck the hand that held the pistol a smart blow. The
weapon dropped, but went off with a sharp report as it fell. The horse
reared and plunged, but the man held firmly to the rein. His companion,
joined by two or three other rough-looking men who rushed from the
thicket, seized the horse and held him firmly, and pulled Farnham from
the saddle. They attempted no violence and no robbery. The man who had
held the pistol, a black-visaged fellow with a red face and dyed
mustache, after rubbing his knuckles a moment, said: "Let's take it out
o' the ---- whelp!" But another, to whom the rest seemed to look as a
leader, said: "Go slow, Mr. Bowersox; we want no trouble here."

Farnham at this addressed the last speaker and said, "Can you tell me
what all this means? You don't seem to be murderers. Are you
horse-thieves?"

"Nothing of the kind," said the man. "We are Reformers."

Farnham gazed at him with amazement. He was a dirty-looking man, young
and sinewy, with long and oily hair and threadbare clothes, shiny and
unctuous. His eyes were red and furtive, and he had a trick of passing
his hand over his mouth while he spoke. His mates stood around him,
listening rather studiedly to the conversation. They seemed of the lower
class of laboring men. Their appearance was so grotesque, in connection
with the lofty title their chief had given them, that Farnham could not
help smiling, in spite of his anger.

"What is your special line of reform?" he asked,--"spelling, or civil
service?"

"We are Labor Reformers," said the spokesman. "We represent the toiling
millions against the bloated capitalists and grinding monopolies; we
believe that man is better----"

"Yes, no doubt," interrupted Farnham; "but how are you going to help
the toiling millions by stopping my horse on the highway?"

"We was holding a meeting which was kep' secret for reasons
satisfactory to ourselves. These two gentlemen was posted here to keep
out intruders from the lodge. If you had 'a' spoke civil to them, there
would have been no harm done. None will be done now if you want to go."

Farnham at once mounted his horse. "I would take it as a great favor,"
he said, "if you would give me your name and that of the gentleman with
the pistol. Where is he, by the way?" he continued. The man they called
Bowersox had disappeared from the group around the spokesman. Farnham
turned and saw him a little distance away directly behind him. He had
repossessed himself of his pistol and held it cocked in his hand.

"What do you want of our names?" the spokesman asked.

Farnham did not again lose sight of Bowersox. It occurred to him that
the interview might as well be closed. He therefore said, carelessly,
without turning:

"A man has a natural curiosity to know the names of new acquaintances.
But no matter, I suppose the police know you," and rode away.

Bowersox turned to Offitt and said, "Why in ---- did you let him go? I
could have knocked his head off and nobody knowed it."

"Yes," said Offitt, coolly. "And got hung for it."

"It would have been self-defence," said Bowersox. "He hit me first."

"Well, gentlemen," said Offitt, "that closes up Greenwood Lodge. We
can't meet in this grass any more. I don't suppose he knows any of us
by sight, or he'd have us up to-morrow."

"It was a piece of ---- nonsense, comin' out here, anyhow," growled
Bowersox, unwilling to be placated. "You haven't done a ---- thing but
lay around on the grass and eat peanuts and hear Bott chin."

"Brother Bott has delivered a splendid address on 'The Religion of
Nature,' and he couldn't have had a better hall than the Canopy to give
it under," said Offitt. "And now, gentlemen, we'd better get back our
own way."

As Farnham rode home he was not much puzzled by his adventure in the
woods. He remembered having belonged, when he was a child of ten, to a
weird and mysterious confraternity called "Early Druids," which met in
the depths of groves, with ill-defined purposes, and devoted the hours
of meeting principally to the consumption of confectionery. He had
heard for the past few months of the existence of secret organizations
of working-men--wholly outside of the trades-unions and unconnected
with them--and guessed at once that he had disturbed a lodge of one of
these clubs. His resentment did not last very long at the treatment to
which he had been subjected; but still he thought it was not a matter
of jest to have the roads obstructed by ruffians with theories in their
heads and revolvers in their hands, neither of which they knew how to
use. He therefore promised himself to consult with the chief of police
the next morning in regard to the matter.

As he rode along, thinking of the occurrence, he was dimly conscious of
a pleasant suggestion in something he had seen among the hazel brush,
and searching tenaciously in his recollection of the affair, it all at
once occurred to him that, among the faces of the men who came out of
the thicket in the scuffle, was that of the blonde-bearded, blue-eyed
young carpenter who had been at work in his library the day Mrs.
Belding and Alice lunched with him. He was pleased to find that the
pleasant association led him to memories of his love, but for a moment
a cloud passed over him at the thought of so frank and hearty a fellow
and such a good workman being in such company. "I must see if I cannot
get him out of it," he said to himself, and then reverted again to
thoughts of Alice.

Twilight was falling, and its melancholy influence was beginning to
affect him. He thought less and less of the joy of his love and more of
its hopelessness. By the time he reached his house he had begun to
confront the possibility of a life of renunciation, and, after the
manner of Americans of fortune who have no special ties, his mind
turned naturally to Europe. "I cannot stay here to annoy her," he
thought, and so began to plot for the summer and winter, and, in fancy,
was at the second cataract of the Nile before his horse's hoofs,
ringing on the asphalt of the stable-yard, recalled him to himself.

The next day, he was compelled to go to New York to attend to some
matters of business. Before taking the train, he laid his complaint of
being stopped on the road before the chief of police, who promised to
make vigorous inquisition. Farnham remained several days in New York,
and on his return, one warm, bright evening, he found his table
prepared and the grave Budsey waiting behind his chair.

He ate his dinner hastily and in silence, with no great zest. "You have
not forgot, sir," said Budsey, who was his external conscience in
social matters, "that you are going this evening to Mrs. Temple's?"

"I think I shall not go."

"Mr. Temple was here this afternoon, sir, which he said it was most
particular. I asked him would he call again. He said no, he was sure of
seeing you to-night. But it was most particular, he said."

Budsey spoke in the tone of solemn and respectful tyranny which he
always assumed when reminding Farnham of his social duties, and which
conveyed a sort of impression to his master that, if he did not do what
was befitting, his butler was quite capable of picking him up and
deferentially carrying him to the scene of festivity, and depositing
him on the door-step.

"What could Temple want to see me about 'most particular'?" Farnham
asked himself. "After all, I may as well pass the evening there as
anywhere."

Mr. Temple was one of the leading citizens of Buffland. He was the
vice-president of the great rolling-mill company, whose smoke darkened
the air by day and lighted up the skies at night as with the flames of
the nether pit. He was very tall and very slender, with reddish-brown
hair, eyes and mustache. Though a man of middle age, his trim figure,
his fashionable dress, and his clean shaven cheek and chin gave him an
appearance of youth. He was president of the local jockey club, and the
joy of his life was to take his place in the judges' stand, and sway
the destinies of the lean, keen-faced trainers who drove the trotting
horses. He had the eye of a lynx for the detection of any crookedness
in driving, and his voice would ring out over the track like the trump
of doom, conveying fines and penalties to the luckless trickster who
was trying to get some unfair advantage in the start. His voice, a deep
basso, rarely was heard, in fact, anywhere else. Though excessively
social, he was also extremely silent. He gave delightful dinner-parties
and a great many of them, but rarely spoke, except to recommend an
especially desirable wine to a favored guest. When he did speak,
however, his profanity was phenomenal. Every second word was an oath.
To those who were not shocked by it there was nothing more droll and
incongruous than to hear this quiet, reserved, well-dressed,
gentleman-like person pouring out, on the rare occasions when he talked
freely, in a deep, measured, monotonous tone, a flood of imprecations
which would have made a pirate hang his head. He had been, as a boy,
clerk on a Mississippi River steamboat, and a vacancy occurring in the
office of mate, he had been promoted to that place. His youthful face
and quiet speech did not sufficiently impose upon the rough deck-hands
of that early day. They had been accustomed to harsher modes of address,
and he saw his authority defied and in danger. So he set himself
seriously to work to learn to swear; and though at first it made his
heart shiver a little with horror and his cheek burn with shame, he
persevered, as a matter of business, until his execrations amazed the
roustabouts. When he had made a fortune, owned a line of steamboats, and
finally retired from the river, the habit had been fastened upon him,
and oaths became to him the only form of emphatic speech. The hardest
work he ever did in his life was, while courting his wife, a Miss Flora
Ballston, of Cincinnati, to keep from mingling his ordinary forms of
emphasis in his asseverations of affection. But after he was married,
and thrown more and more into the company of women, that additional
sense, so remarkable in men of his mould, came to him, and he never
lapsed, in their presence, into his natural way of speech. Perhaps this
was the easier, as he rarely spoke at all when they were by--not that
he was in the least shy or timid, but because they, as a rule, knew
nothing about stocks, or pig-iron, or wine, or trotting horses,--the
only subjects, in his opinion, which could interest any reasonable
creature.

When Farnham arrived at his house, it was already pretty well filled
with guests. Mr. and Mrs. Temple were at the door, shaking hands with
their friends as they arrived, she with a pleasant smile and word from
her black eyes and laughing mouth, and he in grave and speechless
hospitality.

"Good-evening, Mr. Farnham!" said the good-natured lady. "So glad to
see you. I began to be alarmed. So did the young ladies. They were
afraid you had not returned. Show yourself in the drawing-room and
dispel their fears. Oh, Mr. Harrison, I am so glad you resolved to stay
over."

Farnham gave way to the next comer, and said to Mr. Temple, who had
pressed his hand in silence:

"Did you want to see me for anything special to-day?"

Mrs. Temple looked up at the word, and her husband said:

"No; I merely wanted you to take a drive with me."

Another arrival claimed Mrs. Temple's attention, and as Farnham moved
away, Temple half-whispered in his ear, "Don't go away till I get a
chance to speak to you. There is merry and particular bloom of h---- to
pay."

The phrase, while vivid, was not descriptive, and Farnham could not
guess what it meant. Perhaps something had gone wrong in the jockey
club; perhaps Goldsmith Maid was off her feed; perhaps pig-iron had
gone up or down a dollar a ton. These were all subjects of profound
interest to Temple and much less to Farnham; so he waited patiently the
hour of revelation, and looked about the drawing-room to see who was
there.

It was the usual drawing-room of provincial cities. The sofas and
chairs were mostly occupied by married women, who drew a scanty
entertainment from gossip with each other, from watching the
proceedings of the spinsters, and chiefly, perhaps, from a
consciousness of good clothes. The married men stood grouped in corners
and talked of their every-day affairs. The young people clustered
together in little knots, governed more or less by natural selection--
only the veterans of several seasons pairing off into the discreet
retirement of stairs and hall angles. At the further end of the long
drawing-room, Farnham's eyes at last lighted upon the object of his
quest. Alice sat in the midst of a group of young girls who had
intrenched themselves in a corner of the room, and defied all the
efforts of skirmishing youths, intent upon flirtation, to dislodge
them. They seemed to be amusing themselves very well together, and the
correct young men in white cravats and pointed shoes came, chatted, and
drifted away. They were the brightest and gayest young girls of the
place; and it would have been hard to detect any local color in them.
Young as they were, they had all had seasons in Paris and in
Washington; some of them knew the life of that most foreign of all
capitals, New York. They nearly all spoke French and German better than
they did English, for their accent in those languages was very sweet
and winning in its incorrectness, while their English was high-pitched
and nasal, and a little too loud in company. They were as pretty as
girls are anywhere, and they wore dresses designed by Mr. Worth, or his
New York rivals, Loque and Chiffon; but they occasionally looked across
the room with candid and intelligent envy at maidens of less
pretensions, who were better dressed by the local artists.

Farnham was stopped at some distance from the pretty group by a buxom
woman standing near the open window, cooling the vast spread of her
bare shoulders in a current of air, which she assisted in its office
with a red-and-gold Japanese fan.

"Captain Farnham," she said, "when are you going to give that
lawn-tennis party you promised so long ago? My character for veracity
depends on it. I have told everybody it would be soon, and I shall be
disgraced if it is delayed much longer."

"That is the common lot of prophets, Mrs. Adipson," replied Farnham.
"You know they say in Wall Street that early and exclusive information
will ruin any man. But tell me, how is your club getting on?" he
continued disingenuously, for he had not the slightest interest in the
club; but he knew that once fairly started on the subject, Mrs. Adipson
would talk indefinitely, and he might stand there and torture his heart
and delight his eyes with the beauty of Alice Belding.

He carried his abstraction a little too far, however, for the good lady
soon perceived, from his wandering looks and vague replies, that she
was not holding his attention. So she pettishly released him after
following the direction of his eyes, and said, "There, I see you are
crazy to go and talk to Miss Dallas. I won't detain you. She _is_
awfully clever, I suppose, though she never took the trouble to be
brilliant in my presence; and she is pretty when she wears her hair
that way--I never liked those frizzes."

Farnham accepted his release with perhaps a little more gratitude than
courtesy, and moved away to take a seat which had just been vacated
beside Miss Dallas. He was filled with a boyish delight in Mrs.
Adipson's error. "That she should think I was worshipping Miss Dallas
from afar! Where do women keep their eyes? To think that anybody should
look at Miss Dallas when Alice Belding was sitting beside her." It was
pleasant to think, however, that the secret of his unhappy love was
safe. Nobody was gossiping about it, and using the name of his beloved
in idle conjectures. That was as it should be. His love was sacred from
rude comment. He could go and sit by Miss Dallas, so near his beloved
that he could see every breath move the lace on her bosom. He could
watch the color come and go on her young cheek. He could hear every
word her sweet voice uttered, and nobody would know he was conscious of
her existence.

Full of this thought, he sat down by Miss Dallas, who greeted him
warmly and turned her back upon her friends. By looking over her
shining white shoulder, he could see the clear, pure profile of Alice
just beyond, so near that he could have laid his hand on the crinkled
gold of her hair. He then gave himself up to that duplex act to which
all unavowed lovers are prone--the simultaneous secret worship of one
woman and open devotion to another. It never occurred to him that there
was anything unfair in this, or that it would be as reprehensible to
throw the name of Miss Dallas into the arena of gossip as that of Miss
Belding. That was not his affair; there was only one person in the
universe to be considered by him. And for Miss Dallas's part, she was
the last person in the world to suspect any one of being capable of the
treason and bad taste of looking over her shoulder at another woman.
She was, by common consent, the belle of Buffland. Her father was a
widowed clergyman, of good estate, of literary tendencies, of enormous
personal vanity, who had abandoned the pulpit in a quarrel with his
session several years before, and now occupied himself in writing poems
and sketches of an amorous and pietistic nature, which in his opinion
embodied the best qualities of Swinburne and Chalmers combined, but
which the magazines had thus far steadily refused to print.

He felt himself infinitely superior to the society of Buffland,--with
one exception,--and only remained there because his property was not
easily negotiable and required his personal care. The one exception was
his daughter Euphrasia. He had educated her after his own image. In
fact, there was a remarkable physical likeness between them, and he had
impressed upon her every trick of speech and manner and thought which
characterized himself. This is the young lady who turns her bright,
keen, beautiful face upon Farnham, with eyes eager to criticise, a
tongue quick to flatter and to condemn, a head stuffed full of poetry
and artificial passion, and a heart saved from all danger by its
idolatry of her father and herself.

"So glad to see you--one sees so little of you--I can hardly believe my
good fortune--how have I this honor?" All this in hard, rapid
sentences, with a brilliant smile.

Farnham thought of the last words of Mrs. Adipson, and said,
intrepidly, "Well, you know the poets better than I do, Miss Euphrasia,
and there is somebody who says, 'Beauty draws us by the simple way she
does her hair'--or something like it. That classic fillet was the first
thing I saw as I entered the room, and _me voici!_"

We have already said that the fault of Farnham's conversation with
women was the soldier's fault of direct and indiscriminate compliment.
But this was too much in Euphrasia's manner for her to object to it.
She laughed and said, "You deserve a _pensum_ of fifty lines for such a
misquotation. But, _dites-donc, monsieur_"--for French was one of her
favorite affectations, and when she found a man to speak it with, she
rode the occasion to death. There had been a crisis in the French
ministry a few days before, and she now began a voluble conversation on
the subject, ostensibly desiring Farnham's opinion on the crisis, but
really seizing the opportunity of displaying her familiarity with the
names of the new cabinet. She talked with great spirit and animation,
sometimes using her fine eyes point-blank upon Farnham, sometimes
glancing about to observe the effect she was creating; which gave
Farnham his opportunity to sigh his soul away over her shoulder to
where Alice was sweetly and placidly talking with her friends.

She had seen him come in, and her heart had stood still for a moment;
but her feminine instinct sustained her, and she had not once glanced
in his direction. But she was conscious of every look and action of
his; and when he approached the corner where she was sitting, she felt
as if a warm and embarrassing ray of sunshine was coming near her, She
was at once relieved and disappointed when he sat down by Miss Dallas.
She thought to herself: "Perhaps he will never speak to me again. It is
all my fault. I threw him away. But it was not my fault. It was his--it
was hers. I do not know what to think. He might have let me alone. I
liked him so much. I have only been a month out of school. What shall I
do if he never speaks to me again?" Yet such is the power which, for
self-defence, is given to young maidens that, while these tumultuous
thoughts were passing through her mind, she talked and laughed with the
girls beside her, and exchanged an occasional word with the young men
in pointed shoes, as if she had never known a grief or a care.

Mr. Furrey came up to say good-evening, with his most careful bow.
Lowering his voice, he said:

"There's Miss Dallas and Captain Farnham flirting in Italian."

"Are you sure they are flirting?"

"Of course they are. Just look at them!"

"If you are sure they are flirting, I don't think it is right to look
at them. Still, if you disapprove of it very much, you might speak to
them about it," she suggested, in her sweet, low, serious voice.

"Oh, that would never do for a man of my age," replied Furrey, in good
faith. He was very vain of his youth.

"What I wanted to speak to you about was this," he continued. "There is
going to be a Ree-gatta on the river the day after to-morrow, and I
hope you will grant me the favor of your company. The Wissagewissametts
are to row with the Chippagowaxems, and it will be the finest race this
year. Billy Raum, you know, is stroke of the------"

Her face was still turned to him, but she had ceased to listen. She was
lost in contemplation of what seemed to her a strange and tragic
situation. Farnham was so near that she could touch him, and yet so far
away that he was lost to her forever. No human being knew, or ever
would know, that a few days ago he had offered her his life, and she
had refused the gift. Nobody in this room was surprised that he did not
speak to her, or that she did not look at him. Nobody dreamed that he
loved her, and she would die, she resolved deliberately, before she
would let anybody know that she loved him. "For I do love him with my
whole heart," she said to herself, with speechless energy, which sent
the blood up to her temples, and left her, in another instant, as pale
as a lily.

Furrey at that moment had concluded his enticing account of the
regatta, and she had quietly declined to accompany him. He moved away,
indignant at her refusal, and puzzled by the blush which accompanied
it.

"What did that mean?" he mused. "I guess it was because I said the
crews rowed in short sleeves."

Farnham also saw the blush, in the midst of a disquisition which Miss
Dallas was delivering upon a new poem of Francois Coppee. He saw the
clear, warm color rise and subside like the throbbing of an auroral
light in a starry night. He thought he had never seen anything so
lovely, but he wondered "what that oaf could have said to make her
blush like that. Can it be possible that he----" His brow knitted with
anger and contempt.

"_Mais, qu'est-ce que vous avez donc?_" asked Euphrasia.

Farnham was saved from the necessity of an explanation by Mr. Temple,
who came up at that moment, and, laying a hand on Arthur's shoulder,
said:

"Now we will go into my den and have a glass of that sherry. I know no
less temptation than Tio Pepe could take you away from Miss Dallas."

"Thank you awfully," said the young lady. "Why should you not give Miss
Dallas herself an opportunity to decline the Tio Pepe?"

"Miss Dallas shall have some champagne in a few minutes, which she will
like very much better. Age and wickedness are required to appreciate
sherry."

"Ah! I congratulate your sherry; it is about to be appreciated," said
the deserted beauty, tartly, as the men moved away.

They entered the little room which Temple called his den, which was a
litter of letter-books, stock-lists, and the advertising pamphlets of
wine-merchants. The walls were covered with the portraits of trotting
horses; a smell of perpetual tobacco was in the air. Temple unlocked a
cupboard, and took out a decanter and some glasses. He filled two, and
gave one to Arthur, and held the other under his nose.

"Farnham," he said, with profound solemnity, "if you don't call that
the"--(I decline to follow him in the pyrotechnical combination of
oaths with which he introduced the next words)--"best sherry you ever
saw, then I'm a converted pacer with the ringbone."

Arthur drank his wine, and did not hesitate to admit all that its owner
had claimed for it. He had often wondered how such a man as Temple had
acquired such an unerring taste.

"Temple," he said, "how did you ever pick up this wine; and, if you
will excuse the question, how did you know it when you got it?"

Temple smiled, evidently pleased with the question. "You've been in
Spain, haven't you?"

"Yes," said Farnham.

"You know this is the genuine stuff, then?"

"No doubt of it."

"_How_ do you know?"

"The usual way--by seeing and drinking it at the tables of men who know
what they are about."

"Well, I have never been out of the United States, and yet I have
learned about wine in just the same way. I commenced in New Orleans
among the old Spanish and French Creoles, and have kept it up since,
here and there. I can see in five minutes whether a man knows anything
about his wine. If he does, I remember every word he says--that is my
strong point--head and tongue. I can't remember sermons and speeches,
but I can remember every syllable that Sam Ward said one night at your
grandfather's ten years ago; and if I have once tasted a good wine, I
never forget its fashion of taking hold."

This is an expurgated edition of what he said; his profanity kept up a
running accompaniment, like soft and distant rolling thunder.

"I got this wine at the sale of the Marquis of Santa Rita. I heard you
speak of him, I don't know how long ago, and the minute I read in the
paper that he had turned up his toes, I cabled the consul at Cadiz--you
know him, a wild Irishman named Calpin--to go to the sale of his
effects and get this wine. He cabled back, 'What shall I pay?' I
answered, 'Head your dispatch again: Get means get!' Some men have got
no sense. I did not mind the price of the wine, but it riled me to have
to pay for the two cables."

He poured out another glass and drank it drop by drop, getting, as he
said, "the worth of his money every time."

"Have some more?" he said to Farnham.

"No, thank you."

"Then I'll put it away. No use of giving it to men who would prefer
sixty-cent whiskey."

Having done this, he turned again to Farnham, and said, "I told you the
Old Boy was to pay. This is how. The labor unions have ordered a
general strike; day not fixed; they are holding meetings all over town
to-night. I'll know more about it after midnight."

"What will it amount to?" asked Farnham.

"Keen savey?" replied Temple, in his Mississippi River Spanish. "The
first thing will be the closing of the mills, and putting anywhere from
three thousand to ten thousand men on the streets. Then, if the strike
gains the railroad men, we shall be embargoed, ---- boiling, and
safety-valve riveted down."

Farnham had no thought of his imperilled interests. He began instantly
to conjecture what possibility of danger there might be of a
disturbance of public tranquillity, and to wish that the Beldings were
out of town.

"How long have you known this?" he asked.

"Only certainly for a few hours. The thing has been talked about more
or less for a month, but we have had our own men in the unions and did
not believe it would come to an extremity. To-day, however, they
brought ugly reports; and I ought to tell you that some of them concern
you."

Farnham lifted his eyebrows inquiringly.

"We keep men to loaf with the tramps and sleep in the boozing kens. One
of them told me to-day that at the first serious disturbance a lot of
bad eggs among the strikers--not the unionists proper, but a lot of
loose fish--intend to go through some of the principal houses on
Algonquin Avenue, and they mentioned yours as one of them."

"Thank you. I will try to be ready for them," said Farnham. But, cool
and tried as was his courage, he could not help remembering, with
something like dread, that Mrs. Belding's house was next to his own,
and that in case of riot the two might suffer together.

"There is one thing more I wanted to say," Mr. Temple continued, with a
slight embarrassment. "If I can be of any service to you, in case of a
row, I want to be allowed to help."

"As to that," Farnham said with a laugh, "you have your own house and
stables to look after, which will probably be as much as you can
manage."

"No," said Temple, earnestly, "that ain't the case. I will have to
explain to you"--and a positive blush came to his ruddy face. "They
won't touch me or my property. They say a man who uses such good horses
and such bad language as I do--that's just what they say--is one of
them, and sha'n't be racketed. I ain't very proud of my popularity, but
I am willing to profit by it and I'll come around and see you if
anything more turns up. Now, we'll go and give Phrasy Dallas that glass
of champagne."



XII.


A HOLIDAY NOT IN THE CALENDAR.


The next morning while Farnham was at breakfast he received a note from
Mr. Temple in these words:

"Strikes will begin to-day, but will not be general. There will be no
disturbance, I think. They don't seem very gritty."

After breakfast he walked down to the City Hall. On every street corner
he saw little groups of men in rather listless conversation. He met an
acquaintance crossing the street.

"Have you heard the news?" The man's face was flushed with pleasure at
having something to tell--"The firemen and stokers have all struck, and
run their engines into the round-house at Riverley, five miles out.
There won't be a train leave or come in for the present."

"Is that all?"

"No, that ain't a start. The Model Oil men have struck, and are all
over the North End, shutting up the other shops. They say there won't
be a lick of work done in town the rest of the week."

"Except what Satan finds for idle hands," Farnham suggested, and
hastened his steps a little to the municipal buildings.

He found the chief of police in his office, suffering from nervousness
and a sense of importance. He began by reminding him of the occurrence
of the week before in the wood. The chief waited with an absent
expression for the story to end, and then said, "My dear sir, I cannot
pay any attention to such little matters with anarchy threatening our
city. I must protect life and property, sir--life and property."

"Very well," rejoined Farnham, "I am informed that life and property
are threatened in my own neighborhood. Can you detail a few policemen
to patrol Algonquin Avenue, in case of a serious disturbance?"

"I can't tell you, my dear sir; I will do the best I can by all
sections. Why, man," he cried, in a voice which suddenly grew a shrill
falsetto in his agitation, "I tell you I haven't a policeman for every
ten miles of street in this town. I can't spare but two for my own
house!"

Farnham saw the case was hopeless, and went to the office of the mayor.
That official had assumed an attitude expressive of dignified and
dauntless energy. He sat in a chair tilted back on its hind feet; the
boots of the municipal authority were on a desk covered with official
papers; a long cigar adorned his eloquent lips; a beaver hat shaded his
eyes.

He did not change his attitude as Farnham entered. He probably thought
it could not be changed for the better.

"Good-morning, Mr. Quinlin."

"Good-morning, sirr, to you." This salutation was uttered through teeth
shut as tightly as the integrity of the cigar would permit.

"There is a great deal of talk of possible disturbance to-night, in
case the strikes extend. My own neighborhood, I am told, has been
directly threatened. I called to ask whether, in case of trouble, I
could rely on any assistance from the city authorities, or whether we
must all look out for ourselves."

The mayor placed his thumbs in the arm-holes of his waistcoat, and
threw his head back so that he could stare at Farnham from below his
hat brim. He then said, in a measured voice, as if addressing an
assembly: "Sirr! I would have you to know that the working-men of
Buffland are not thieves and robbers. In this struggle with capital
they have my profound sympathy. I expect their conduct to be that of
perr-fect gentlemen. I, at least, will give no orders which may tend to
array one class of citizens against another. That is my answer, sirr; I
hope it does not disappoint you."

"Not in the least," said Farnham, putting on his hat. "It is precisely
what I should have expected of you."

"Thank you, sirr. Call again, sirr."

As Farnham disappeared, the chief magistrate of the city tilted his hat
to one side, shut an eye with profoundly humorous significance, and
said to the two or three loungers who had been enjoying the scene:

"That is the sort of T-rail I am. That young gentleman voted agin me,
on the ground I wasn't high-toned enough."

Farnham walked rapidly to the office of the evening newspaper. He found
a man in the counting-room, catching flies and trimming their wings
with a large pair of office shears. He said, "Can you put an
advertisement for me in your afternoon editions?"

The man laid down his shears, but held on to his fly, and looked at his
watch.

"Have you got it ready?"

"No, but I will not be a minute about it."

"Be lively! You haven't got but a minute."

He picked up his scissors and resumed his surgery, while Farnham wrote
his advertisement. The man took it, and threw it into a tin box, blew a
whistle, and the box disappeared through a hole in the ceiling. A few
minutes later the boys were crying the paper in the streets. The
advertisement was in these words:

"Veterans, Attention! All able-bodied veterans of the Army of the
Potomac, and especially of the Third Army Corps, are requested to meet
at seven this evening, at No. -- Public Square."

From the newspaper office Farnham went to a gunsmith's. The dealer was
a German and a good sportsman, whom Farnham knew very well, having
often shot with him in the marshes west of the city. His name was
Leopold Grosshammer. There were two or three men in the place when
Farnham entered. He waited until they were gone, and then said:

"Bolty, have you two dozen repeating rifles?"

"Ja wohl! Aber, Herr Gott, was machen Sie denn damit?"

"I don't know why I shouldn't tell you. They think there may be a riot
in town, and they tell me at the City Hall that everybody must look out
for himself. I am going to try to get up a little company of old
soldiers for patrol duty."

"All right, mine captain, and I will be the first freiwilliger. But I
don't dink you wants rifles. Revolvers and clubs--like the pleecemen--
dat's de dicket."

"Have you got them?"

"Oh, yes, and the belts thereto. I got der gondract to furnish 'em to
de city."

"Then you will send them, wrapped up in bundles, to my office in the
Square, and come yourself there at seven."

"Freilich," said Leopold, his white teeth glistening through his yellow
beard at the prospect of service.

Farnham spent an hour or two visiting the proprietors of the large
establishments affected by the strikes. He found, as a rule, great
annoyance and exasperation, but no panic. Mr. Temple said, "The
poor ------ fools! I felt sorry for them. They came up here to me this
morning,--their committee, they called it,--and told me they hated it,
but it was orders! 'Orders from where?' I asked. 'From the chiefs of
sections,' they said; and that was all I could get out of them. Some of
the best fellows in the works were on the committee. They put 'em there
on purpose. The sneaks and lawyers hung back."

"What will they do if the strike should last?" asked Farnham.

"They will be supported for awhile by the other mills. Our men are the
only ones that have struck so far. They were told off to make the move,
just as they march out a certain regiment to charge a battery. If we
give in, then another gang will strike."

"Do you expect to give in?"

"Between us, we want nothing better than ten days' rest. We want to
repair our furnaces, and we haven't a ---- thing to do. What I told you
this morning holds good. There won't be any riot. The whole thing is
solemn fooling, so far."

The next man Farnham saw was in a far less placid frame of mind. It was
Jimmy Nelson, the largest grocer in the city. He had a cargo of
perishable groceries at the station, and the freight hands would not
let them be delivered. "I talked to the rascals," he said. "I asked
them what they had against _me_; that they was injuring Trade!" a deity
of which Mr. Nelson always spoke with profound respect. "They laughed
in my face, sir. They said, 'That's just our racket. We want to squeeze
you respectable merchants till you get mad and hang a railroad
president or two!' Yes, sir; they said that to me, and five thousand
dollars of my stuff rotting in the depot."

"Why don't you go to the mayor?" asked Farnham, though he could not
suppress a smile as he said it.

"Yes, I like that!" screamed Jimmy. "You are laughing at me. I suppose
the whole town has heard of it. Well, it's a fact. I went and asked
that infernal scoundrel what he was going to do. He said his function
was to keep the peace, and there wasn't a word in the statutes about
North Carliny water-melons. If I live till he gets out of office, I'll
lick him."

"Oh, I think you won't do that, Jimmy."

"You think I won't!" said Nelson, absolutely incandescent with the
story of his wrongs. "I'll swear by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that
I will thrash the hide off him next spring--if I don't forget it."

Farnham went home, mounted his horse, and rode about the city to see
what progress the strike was making. There was little disorder visible
on the surface of things. The "sections" had evidently not ordered a
general cessation of labor; and yet there were curious signs of
demoralization, as if the spirit of work was partially disintegrating
and giving way to something not precisely lawless, but rather listless.
For instance, a crowd of workmen were engaged industriously and, to all
appearance, contentedly upon a large school-building in construction. A
group of men, not half their number, approached them and ordered them
to leave off work. The builders looked at each other and then at their
exhorters in a confused fashion for a moment, and ended by obeying the
summons in a sullen and indifferent manner. They took off their aprons,
went to the hydrant and washed their hands, then put on their coats and
went home in silence and shamefacedness, amid the angry remonstrances
of the master-builder. A little farther on Farnham saw what seemed like
a burlesque of the last performance. Several men were at work in a hole
in the street; the tops of their heads were just visible above the
surface. A half-grown, ruffianly boy, with a boot-black's box slung
over his shoulder, came up and shouted, "You ---- ---- rats, come out
of that, or we'll knock the scalps off'n you." The men, without even
looking to see the source of the summons, threw down their tools and
got out of the hole. The boy had run away; they looked about for a
moment, as if bewildered, and then one of them, a gray-headed Irishman,
said, "Well, we'd better be a lavin' off, if the rest is," and they all
went away.

In this fashion it came about that by nightfall all the squares and
public places were thronged with an idle and expectant crowd, not
actively mischievous or threatening, but affording a vast mass of
inflammable material in case the fire should start in any quarter. They
gathered everywhere in dense groups, exchanging rumors and surmises, in
which fact and fiction were fantastically mingled.

"The rolling-mills all close to-morrow," said a sallow and hollow-eyed
tailor. "That'll let loose twenty thousand men on the town,--big,
brawny fellows. I'm glad my wife is in Clairfield."

"All you know about it! Clairfield is twice as bad off as here. The
machine shops has all struck there, and the men went through the armory
this afternoon. They're camped all along Delaware street, every man
with a pair of revolvers and a musket."

"You don't say so!" said the schneider, turning a shade more sallow.
"I'd better telegraph my wife to come home."

"I wouldn't hurry," was the impassive response. "You don't know where
we'll be to-morrow. They have been drilling all day at Riverley, three
thousand of 'em. They'll come in to-morrow, mebbe, and hang all the
railroad presidents. That may make trouble."

Through these loitering and talking crowds Farnham made his way in the
evening to the office which he kept, on the public square of the town,
for the transaction of the affairs of his estate. He had given
directions to his clerk to be there, and when he arrived found that
some half-dozen men had already assembled in answer to his
advertisement. Some of them he knew; one, Nathan Kendall, a powerful
young man, originally from the north of Maine, now a machinist in
Buffland, had been at one time his orderly in the army. Bolty
Grosshammer was there, and in a very short time some twenty men were in
the room. Farnham briefly explained to them his intention. "I want
you," he said, "to enlist for a few days' service under my orders. I
cannot tell whether there will be any work to do or not; but it is
likely we shall have a few nights of patrol at least. You will get ten
dollars apiece anyhow, and ordinary day's wages besides. If any of you
get hurt, I will try to have you taken care of."

All but two agreed to the proposition. These two said "they had
families and could not risk their skins. When they saw the
advertisement they had thought it was something about pensions, or the
county treasurer's office. They thought soldiers ought to have the
first chance at good offices." They then grumblingly withdrew.

Farnham kept his men for an hour longer, arranging some details of
organization, and then dismissed them for twenty-four hours, feeling
assured that there would be no disturbance of public tranquillity that
night. "I will meet you here to morrow evening," he said, "and you can
get your pistols and sticks and your final orders."

The men went out one by one, Bolty and Kendall waiting for a while
after they had gone and going out on the sidewalk with Farnham. They
had instinctively appointed themselves a sort of bodyguard to their old
commander, and intended to keep him in sight until he got home. As they
reached the door, they saw a scuffle going on upon the sidewalk. A
well-dressed man was being beaten and kicked by a few rough fellows,
and the crowd was looking on with silent interest. Farnham sprang
forward and seized one of the assailants by the collar; Bolty pulled
away another. The man who had been cuffed turned to Kendall, who was
standing by to help where help was needed, and cried, "Take me away
somewhere; they will have my life;" an appeal which only excited the
jeers of the crowd.

"Kendall, take him into my office," said Farnham, which was done in an
instant, Farnham and Bolty following. A rush was made,--not very
vicious, however,--and the three men got safely inside with their
prize, and bolted the door. A few kicks and blows shook the door, but
there was no movement to break it down; and the rescued man, when he
found himself in safety, walked up to a mirror there was in the room
and looked earnestly at his face. It was a little bruised and bloody,
and dirty with mud, but not seriously injured.

He turned to his rescuers with an air more of condescension than
gratitude. "Gentlemen, I owe you my thanks, although I should have got
the better of those scoundrels in a moment. Can you assist me in
identifying them?"

"Oh! it is Mayor Quinlin, I believe," said Farnham, recognizing that
functionary more by his voice than by his rumpled visage. "No, I do not
know who they were. What was the occasion of this assault?"

"A most cowardly and infamous outrage, sir," said the Mayor. "I was
walking along the sidewalk to me home, and I came upon this gang of
ruffians at your door. Impatient at being delayed,--for my time is much
occupied,--I rebuked them for being in me way. One of them turned to me
and insolently inquired, 'Do you own this street, or have you just got
a lien on it?' which unendurable insult was greeted with a loud laugh
from the other ruffians. I called them by some properly severe name,
and raised me cane to force a passage,--and the rest you know. Now,
gentlemen, is there anything I can do?"

Farnham did not scruple to strike while the iron was hot. He said:
"Yes, there is one thing your Honor may do, not so much for us as for
the cause of order and good government, violated to-night in your own
person. Knowing the insufficiency of the means at your disposal, a few
of us propose to raise a subsidiary night-patrol for the protection of
life and property during the present excitement. We would like you to
give it your official sanction."

"Do I understand it will be without expense to my--to the city
government?" Mr. Quinlin was anxious to make a show of economy in his
annual message.

"Entirely," Farnham assured him.

"It is done, sir. Come to-morrow morning and get what papers you want.
The sperrit of disorder must be met and put down with a bold and
defiant hand. Now, gentlemen, if there is a back door to this
establishment, I will use it to make me way home."

Farnham showed him the rear entrance, and saw him walking homeward up
the quiet street; and, coming back, found Bolty and Kendall writhing
with merriment.

"Well, that beats all," said Kendall. "I guess I'll write home like the
fellow did from Iowa to his daddy, 'Come out here quick. Mighty mean
men gits office in this country.'"

"Yes," assented Bolty. "Dot burgermeister ish better as a circus mit a
drick mule."

"Don't speak disrespectfully of dignitaries," said Farnham. "It's a bad
habit in soldiers."

When they went out on the sidewalk the crowd had dispersed. Farnham
bade his recruits good night and went up the avenue. They waited until
he was a hundred yards away, and then, without a word to each other,
followed him at that distance till they saw him enter his own gate.



XIII.


A BUSY SUNDAY FOR THE MATCHINS.


Matters were not going on pleasantly in the Matchin cottage. Maud's
success in gaining an eligible position, as it was regarded among her
friends, made her at once an object of greater interest than ever; but
her temper had not improved with her circumstances, and she showed
herself no more accessible than before. Her father, who naturally felt
a certain satisfaction at having, as he thought, established her so
well, regarded himself as justified in talking to her firmly and
seriously respecting her future. He went about it in the only way he
knew. "Mattie," he said one evening, when they happened to be alone
together, "when are you and Sam going to make a match?"

She lifted her eyes to him, and shot out a look of anger and contempt
from under her long lashes that made her father feel very small and old
and shabby.

"Never!" she said, quietly.

"Come, come, now," said the old man; "just listen to reason. Sam is a
good boy, and with what he makes and what you make----"

"That has nothing to do with it. I won't discuss the matter any
further. We have had it all out before. If it is ever mentioned again,
Sam or I will leave this house."

"Hoity-toity, Missy! is that the way you take good advice----" but she
was gone before he could say another word. Saul walked up and down the
room a few moments, taking very short steps, and solacing his mind by
muttering to himself: "Well, that's what I get by having a scholar in
the family. Learning goes to the head and the heels--makes 'em proud
and skittish."

He punctually communicated his failure to Sam, who received the news
with a sullen quietness that perplexed still more the puzzled
carpenter.

On a Sunday afternoon, a few days later, he received a visit from Mr.
Bott, whom he welcomed, with great deference and some awe, as an
ambassador from a ghostly world of unknown dignity. They talked in a
stiff and embarrassed way for some time about the weather, the prospect
of a rise in wages, and other such matters, neither obviously taking
any interest in what was being said. Suddenly Bott drew nearer and
lowered his voice, though the two were alone in the shop.

"Mr. Matchin," he said, with an uneasy grin, "I have come to see you
about your daughter."

Matchin looked at him with a quick suspicion.

"Well, who's got anything to say against my daughter?"

"Oh, nobody that I know of," said Bott, growing suspicious in his turn.
"Has anything ever been said against her?"

"Not as I know," said Saul. "Well, what _have_ you got to say?"

"I wanted to ask how you would like me as a son-in-law?" said Bott,
wishing to bring matters to a decision.

Saul stood for a moment without words in his astonishment. He had
always regarded Bott as "a professional character," even as a "litrary
man"; he had never hoped for so lofty an alliance. And yet he could not
say that he wholly liked it. This was a strange creature--highly
gifted, doubtless, but hardly comfortable. He was too "thick" with
ghosts. One scarcely knew whether he spent most of his time "on earth
or in hell," as Saul crudely phrased it. The faint smell of phosphorus
that he carried about with him, which was only due to his imperfect
ablutions after his seances, impressed Saul's imagination as going to
show that Bott was a little too intimate with the under-ground powers.
He stood chewing a shaving and weighing the matter in his mind a moment
before he answered. He thought to himself, "After all, he is making a
living. I have seen as much as five dollars at one of his seeunses."
But the only reply he was able to make to Bott's point-blank question
was:

"Well, I dunno."

The words were hardly encouraging, but the tone was weakly compliant.
Bott felt that his cause was gained, and thought he might chaffer a
little.

"Of course," he said, "I would like to have a few things understood, to
start with. I am very particular in business matters."

"That's right," said Saul, who began to think that this was a very
systematic and methodical man.

"I am able to support a wife, or I would not ask for one," said Bott.

"Exactly," said Saul, with effusion; "that's just what I was saying to
myself."

"Oh, you was!" said Bott, scowling and hesitating. "You was, was you?"
Then, after a moment's pause, in which he eyed Saul attentively, he
continued, "Well--that's so. At the same time, I am a business man, and
I want to know what you can do for your girl."

"Not much of anything, Mr. Bott, if you must know. Mattie is makin' her
own living."

"Yes. That's all right. Does she pay you for her board?"

"Look here, Mr. Bott, that ain't none of your business yet, anyhow. She
don't pay no board while she stays here; but that ain't nobody's
business."

"Oh, no offence, sir, none in the world. Only I am a business man, and
don't want misunderstandings. So she don't. And I suppose you don't
want to part with your last child--now, do you? It's like breaking your
heart-strings, now, ain't it?" he said, in his most sentimental lecture
voice.

"Well, no, I can't say it is. Mattie's welcome in my house while I
live, but of course she'll leave me some day, and I'll wish her joy."

"Why should that be? My dear sir, why should that be?" Bott's voice
grew greasy with sweetness and persuasion. "Why not all live together?
I will be to you as a son. Maud will soothe your declining years. Let
it be as it is, Father Saul."

The old carpenter looked up with a keen twinkle of his eye.

"You and your wife would like to board with us when you are married?
Well, mebbe we can arrange that."

This was not quite what Bott expected, but he thought best to say no
more on that subject for the moment.

Saul then asked the question that had all along been hovering on his
lips.

"Have you spoke to Mattie yet?"

The seer blushed and simpered, "I thought it my duty to speak first to
you; but I do not doubt her heart."

"Oh! you don't," said Saul, with a world of meaning. "You better find
out. You'll find her in the house."

Bott went to the house, leaving Saul pondering. Girls were queer
cattle. Had Mattie given her word to this slab-sided, lanky fellow? Had
she given Sam Sleeny the mitten for him? Perhaps she wanted the glory
of being Mrs. Professor Bott. Well, she could do as she liked; but Saul
swore softly to himself, "If Bott comes to live offen me, he's got to
pay his board."

Meanwhile, the seer was walking, not without some inward perturbation,
to the house, where his fate awaited him. It would have been hard to
find a man more confident and more fatuous; but even such fools as he
have their moments of doubt and faltering when they approach the not
altogether known. He had not entertained the slightest question of
Maud's devotion to him, the night she asked from him the counsel of the
spirits. But he had seen her several times since that, and she had
never renewed the subject. He was in two minds about it. Sometimes he
imagined she might have changed her purpose; and then he would comfort
himself with the more natural supposition that maiden modesty had been
too much for her, and that she was anxiously awaiting his proffer. He
had at last girded up his loins like a man and determined to know his
doom. He had first ascertained the amount of Maud's salary at the
library, and then, as we see, had endeavored to provide for his
subsistence at Saul's expense; and now nothing was wanting but the
maiden's consent. He trembled a little, but it was more with hope than
fear. He could not make himself believe that there was any danger--but
he wished it were over and all were well. He paused as he drew near the
door. He was conscious that his hands were disagreeably cold and moist.
He took out his handkerchief and wiped them, rubbing them briskly
together, though the day was clear and warm, and the perspiration stood
beaded on his forehead. But there was no escape. He knocked at the
door, which was opened by Maud in person, who greeted him with a free
and open kindness that restored his confidence. They sat down together,
and Maud chatted gayly and pleasantly about the weather and the news. A
New York girl, the daughter of a wealthy furrier, was reported in the
newspaper as about to marry the third son of an English earl. Maud
discussed the advantages of the match on either side as if she had been
the friend from childhood of both parties.

Suddenly, while she was talking about the forthcoming wedding, the
thought occurred to Bott, "Mebbe this is a hint for me," and he plunged
into his avowal. Turning hot and cold at once, and wringing his moist
hands as he spoke, he said, taking everything for granted:

"Miss Maud, I have seen your father and he gives his consent, and you
have only to say the word to make us both happy."

"What?"

Anger, surprise, and contempt were all in the one word and in the
flashing eyes of the young woman, as she leaned back in her
rocking-chair and transfixed her unhappy suitor.

"Why, don't you understand me? I mean----"

"Oh, yes, I see what you mean. But I _don't_ mean; and if you had come
to me, I'd have saved you the trouble of going to my father."

"Now, look here," he pleaded, "you ain't a-going to take it that way,
are you? Of course, I'd have come to you first if I had 'a' thought
you'd preferred it. All I wanted was----"

"Oh," said Maud, with perfect coolness and malice,--for in the last
moment she had begun heartily to hate Bott for his presumption,--"I
understand what _you_ want. But the question is what _I_ want--and I
don't want you."

The words, and still more the cold monotonous tone in which they were
uttered, stung the dull blood of the conjurer to anger. His mud-colored
face became slowly mottled with red.

"Well, then," he said, "what did you mean by coming and consulting the
sperrits, saying you was in love with a gentleman------"

Maud flushed crimson at the memory awakened by these words. Springing
from her chair, she opened the door for Bott, and said, "Great
goodness! the impudence of some men! You thought I meant _you?_"

Bott went out of the door like a whipped hound, with pale face and
hanging head. As he passed by the door of the shop, Saul hailed him and
said with a smile, "What luck?"

Bott did not turn his head, he growled out a deep imprecation and
walked away. Matchin was hardly surprised. He mused to himself, "I
thought it was funny that Mattie should sack Sam Sleeny for that
fellow. I guess he didn't ask the sperrits how the land lay," chuckling
over the discomfiture of the seer. Spiritualism is the most convenient
religion in the world. You may disbelieve two-thirds of it and yet be
perfectly orthodox. Matchin, though a pillar of the faith, always
keenly enjoyed the defeat and rout of a medium by his tricksy and
rebellious ghosts.

He was still laughing to himself over the retreat of Bott, thinking
with some paternal fatuity of the attractiveness and spirit of his
daughter, when a shadow fell across him, and he saw Offitt standing
before him.

"Why, Offitt. is that you? I did not hear you. You always come up as
soft as a spook!"

"Yes, that's me. Where's Sam?"

"Sam's gone to Shady Creek on an excursion with his lodge. My wife went
with him."

"I wanted to see him. I think a heap of Sam."

"So do I. Sam is a good fellow."

"Excuse my making so free, Mr. Matchin, but I once thought Sam was
going to be a son-in-law of yours."

"Well, betwixt us, Mr. Offitt, I hoped so myself. But you know what
girls is. She jest wouldn't."

"So it's all done, is it? No chance for Sam?" Offitt asked eagerly.

"Not as much as you could hold sawdust in your eye," the carpenter
answered.

"Well, now, Mr. Matchin, I have got something to say." ("Oh, Lordy,"
groaned Saul to himself, "here's another one.") "I wouldn't take no
advantage of a friend; but if Sam's got no chance, as you say, why
shouldn't I try? With your permission, sir, I will."

"Now look ye here, Mr. Offitt. I don't know as I have got anything
against you, but I don't know nothing _fur_ you. If it's a fair
question, how do you make your livin'?"

"That's all right. First place, I have got a good trade. I'm a
locksmith."

"So I have heard you say. But you don't work at it."

"No," Offitt answered; and then, assuming a confidential air, he
continued, "As I am to be one of the family, I'll tell you. I don't
work at my trade, because I have got a better thing. I am a Reformer."

"You don't say!" exclaimed Saul. "I never heard o' your lecturin'."

"I don't lecture. I am secretary of a grand section of Labor Reformers,
and I git a good salary for it."

"Oh, I see," said Saul, not having the least idea of what it all meant.
But, like most fathers of his kind, he made no objection to the man's
proposal, and told him his daughter was in the house. As Offitt walked
away on the same quest where Bott had so recently come to wreck, Saul
sat smiling, and nursing his senile vanity with the thought that there
were not many mechanics' daughters in Buffland that could get two
offers in one Sunday from "professional men." He sat with the contented
inertness of old men on his well-worn bench, waiting to see what would
be the result of the interview.

"I don't believe she'll have him," he thought. "He ain't half the man
that Sam is, nor half the scholar that Bott is."

It was well he was not of an impatient temperament. He sat quietly
there for more than an hour, as still as a knot on a branch, wondering
why it took Offitt so much longer than Bott to get an answer to a plain
question; but it never once occurred to him that he had a right to go
into his own house and participate in what conversation was going on.
To American fathers of his class, the parlor is sacred when the
daughter has company.

There were several reasons why Offitt stayed longer than Bott.

The seer had left Maud Matchin in a state of high excitement and anger.
The admiration of a man so splay and ungainly was in itself insulting,
when it became so enterprising as to propose marriage. She felt as if
she had suffered the physical contact of something not clean or
wholesome. Besides, she had been greatly stirred by his reference to
her request for ghostly counsel, which had resulted in so frightful a
failure and mortification. After Bott had gone, she could not dismiss
the subject from her mind. She said to herself, "How can I live, hating
a man as I hate that Captain Farnham? How can I breathe the same air
with him, blushing like a peony whenever I think of him, and turning
pale with shame when I hear his name? That ever I should have been
refused by a living man! What _does_ a man want," she asked, with her
head thrown back and her nostrils dilated, "when he don't want me?"

As she was walking to and fro, she glanced out of the window and saw
Offitt approaching from the direction of the shop. She knew instantly
what his errand would be, though he had never before said a word to her
out of the common. "I wonder if father has sent him to me--and how many
more has he got in reserve there in the shop? Well, I will make short
work of this one."

But when he had come in and taken his seat, she found it was not so
easy to make short work of him.

Dealing with this one was very different from dealing with the other--
about the difference between handling a pig and a panther. Offitt was a
human beast of prey--furtive, sly, and elusive, with all his faculties
constantly in hand. The sight of Maud excited him like the sight of
prey. His small eyes fastened upon her; his sinewy hands tingled to lay
hold of her. But he talked, as any casual visitor might, of immaterial
things.

Maud, while she chatted with him, was preparing herself for the
inevitable question and answer. "What shall I say to him? I do not like
him. I never did. I never can. But what shall I do? A woman is of no
use in the world by herself. He is not such a dunce as poor Sam, and is
not such a gawk as Bott. I wonder whether he would make me mind? I am
afraid he would, and I don't know whether I would like it or not. I
suppose if I married him I would be as poor as a crow all my days. I
couldn't stand that. I won't have him. I wish he would make his little
speech and go."

But he seemed in no hurry to go. He was talking volubly about himself,
lying with the marvellous fluency which interest and practice give to
such men, and Maud presently found herself listening intently to his
stories. He had been in Mexico, it seemed. He owned a silver mine
there. He got a million dollars out of it, but took it into his head
one day to overturn the Government, and was captured and his money
taken; barely escaped the garrote by strangling his jailer; owned the
mine still, and should go back and get it some day, when he had
accomplished certain purposes in this country. There were plenty of
people who wished he was gone now. The President had sent for him to
come, to Washington; he went, and was asked to breakfast; nobody there
but them two; they ate off gold plates like he used to in Mexico; the
President then offered him a hundred thousand to leave, was afraid he
would make trouble; told the President to make it a million and then he
wouldn't. His grandfather was one of the richest men in Europe; his
father ran away with his mother out of a palace. "You must have heard
of my father, General Offitt, of Georgy? No? He was the biggest
slaveholder in the State. I have got a claim against the Government,
now, that's good for a million if it's worth a cent; going to
Washington next winter to prosecute it."

Maud was now saying to herself, "Why, if half this is true, he is a
remarkable man," like many other credulous people, not reflecting that,
when half a man says is false, the other half is apt to be also. She
began to think it would be worth her while, a red feather in her cap,
to refuse such a picturesque person; and then it occurred to her that
he had not proposed to marry her, and possibly had no such intention.
As his stream of talk, dwelling on his own acts of valor and craft, ran
on, she began to feel slightly piqued at its lack of reference to
herself. Was this to be a mere afternoon call after all, with no combat
and no victory? She felt drawn after awhile to bring her small
resources of coquetry into play. She interrupted him with saucy doubts
and questions; she cast at him smiles and glances, looking up that he
might admire her eyes, and down that her lashes might have their due
effect.

He interpreted all these signs in a favorable sense, but still
prudently refrained from committing himself, until directly challenged
by the blush and simper with which she said:

"I suppose you must have seen a great many pretty ladies in Mexico?"

He waited a moment, looking at her steadily until her eyelids trembled
and fell, and then he said, seriously and gravely:

"I used to think so; but I never saw there or anywhere else as pretty a
lady as I see at this minute."

This was the first time in her life that Maud had heard such words from
a man. Sam Sleeny, with all his dumb worship, had never found words to
tell her she was beautiful, and Bott was too grossly selfish and dull
to have thought of it. Poor Sleeny, who would have given his life for
her, had not wit enough to pay her a compliment. Offitt, whose love was
as little generous as the hunger of a tiger, who wished only to get her
into his power, who cared not in the least by what means he should
accomplish this, who was perfectly willing to have her find out all his
falsehoods the day after her wedding, relying upon his brute strength
to retain her then,--this conscienceless knave made more progress by
these words than Sam by months of the truest devotion. Yet the
impression he made was not altogether pleasant. Thirsting for
admiration as she did, there was in her mind an indistinct conscious
ness that the man was taking a liberty; and in the sudden rush of color
to her cheek and brow at Offitt's words, there was at first almost as
much anger as pleasure. But she had neither the dignity nor the
training required for the occasion, and all the reply she found was:

"Oh, Mr. Offitt, how can you say so?"

"I say so," he answered, with the same unsmiling gravity, "because it's
the fact. I have been all over the world. I have seen thousands of
beautiful ladies, even queens and markisses, and I never yet saw and I
never expect to see such beauty as yours, Miss Maud Matchin, of
Buffland."

She still found no means to silence him or defend herself. She said,
with an uneasy laugh, "I am sure I don't see where the wonderful beauty
is."

"That's because your modesty holds over your beauty. But I see where it
is. It's in your eyes, that's like two stars of the night; in your
forehead, that looks full of intellect and sense; in your rosy cheeks
and smiling lips; in your pretty little hands and feet----" Here she
suddenly rolled up her hands in her frilled white apron, and, sitting
up straight, drew her feet under her gown. At this performance, they
both laughed loud and long, and Maud's nerves were relieved.

"What geese we are," she said at last. "You know I don't believe a word
you say."

"Oh, yes, you do. You've got eyes and a looking-glass. Come now, be
honest. You know you never saw a girl as pretty as yourself, and you
never saw a man that didn't love you on sight."

"I don't know about that."

"Don't all the men you know love you?"

"There is one man I know hates me, and I hate him."

"Who is it? This is very interesting."

Maud was suddenly seized with a desire to tell an adventure, something
that might match Offitt's tales of wonder.

"You'll never tell?"

"Hope I may die."

"It's Arthur Farnham!" She had succeeded in her purpose, for Offitt
stared at her with looks of amazement. "He once wanted to be rather too
attentive to me, and I did not like it. So he hates me, and has tried
to injure me."

"And you don't like him very well?"

"I don't. I would owe a good deal to the man who would give him a
beating."

"All right. You give me--what?--a kiss, or a lock of your hair, and he
shall have his thrashing."

"You do it and bring me the proofs, and we will talk about it."

"Well, I must be off," he said, picking tip his hat. He saw on her face
a slight disappointment. He put out his hand to take leave. She folded
her arms.

"You needn't be in such a hurry," she said, poutingly. "Mother won't be
back for ever so long, and I was half asleep over my book when you came
in."

"Oh, very well," he said. "That suits me." He walked deliberately
across the room, picked up a chair, and seated himself very near to
Maud. She felt her heart beat with something like terror, and regretted
asking him to stay. He had been very agreeable, but she was sure he was
going to be disagreeable now. She was afraid that if he grew
disagreeable she could not manage him as she could the others. Her
worst fears were realized with his first words.

"Miss Matchin, if you ask me to stay longer, you must take the
consequences. I am going to say to you what I never said to mortal
woman before: I love you, and I want you for my wife."

She tried to laugh. "Oh, you do?" but her face grew pale, and her hands
trembled.

"Yes, I do; and I am going to have you, too."

He tried to speak lightly, but his voice broke in spite of him.

"Oh, indeed!" she replied, recovering herself with an effort. "Perhaps
_I'll_ have something to say about that, Mr. Confidence."

"Of course; excuse me for talking like a fool. Only have me, and you
shall have everything else. All that wealth can buy shall be yours.
We'll leave this dull place and go around the world seeking pleasure
where it can be found, and everybody will envy me my beauteous bride."

"That's very pretty talk, Mr. Offitt; but where is all this wealth to
come from?"

He did not resent the question, but heard it gladly, as imposing a
condition he might meet. "The money is all right. If I lay the money at
your feet, will you go with me? Only give me your promise."

"I promise nothing," said Maud; "but when you are ready to travel,
perhaps you may find me in a better humor."

The words seemed to fire him. "That's promise enough for me," he cried,
and put out his arms toward her. She struck down his hands, and
protested with sudden, cattish energy:

"Let me alone. Don't you come so near me. I don't like it. Now you can
go," she added. "I have got a lot to think about."

He thought he would not spoil his success by staying. "Good-by, then,"
he said, kissing his fingers to her. "Good-by for a little while, my
own precious."

He turned at the door. "This is between us, ain't it?"

"Yes, what there is of it," she said, with a smile that took all sting
from the words.

He walked to the shop, and wrung the old man's hand. His look of
exultation caused Saul to say, "All settled, eh?"

"No," said Offit; "but I have hopes. And now, Mr. Matchin, you know
young ladies and the ways of the world. I ask you, as a gentleman, not
to say nothing about this, for the present, to nobody."

Saul, proud of his secret, readily promised.



XIV.


CAPTAIN FARNHAM SEES ACTIVE SERVICE AGAIN.


Farnham lost no time in calling upon the Mayor to fulfil his
engagement. He found his Honor a little subdued by the news of the
morning. None of the strikers of the day before had gone back to work,
and considerable accessions were reported from other trades. The worst
symptoms seemed to be that many shops were striking without orders. The
cessation of work was already greater than seemed at first contemplated
by the leading agitators themselves. They seemed to be losing their own
control of the workingmen, and a few tonguey vagrants and convicts from
the city and from neighboring towns, who had come to the surface from
nobody knew where, were beginning to exercise a wholly unexpected
authority. They were going from place to place, haranguing the workmen,
preaching what they called socialism, but what was merely riot and
plunder. They were listened to without much response. In some places
the men stopped work; in others they drove out the agitators; in others
they would listen awhile, and then shout, "Give us a rest!" or "Hire a
hall!" or "Wipe off your chir!" But all the while the crowds gradually
increased in the streets and public places; the strike, if it promised
nothing worse, was taking the dimensions of a great, sad, anxious
holiday. There was not the slightest intention on the part of the
authorities to interfere with it, and to do them justice, it is hard to
see what they could have done, with the means at their disposal. The
Mayor, therefore, welcomed Farnham with great cordiality, made him a
captain of police, for special duty, on the spot, and enrolled his list
of recruits of the night before as members of the police force of the
city, expressly providing that their employment should cost the city
nothing, now or hereafter.

Farnham again made his rounds of the city, but found nothing especially
noteworthy or threatening. The wide town, in spite of the large crowds
in the streets, had a deserted look. A good many places of business
were closed. There was little traffic of vehicles. The whistle of the
locomotives and the rush of trains--sounds which had grown so familiar
in that great railroad centre that the ear ceased to be affected by
them--being suddenly shut off, the silence which came in their place
was startling to the sense. The voices of the striking employees, who
retained possession of the Union Passenger Depot, resounded strangely
through the vast building, which was usually a babel of shrill and
strident sounds.

On the whole, the feature which most struck him in this violent and
unnatural state of things was the singular good-nature of almost all
classes. The mass of the workingmen made no threats; the greater number
of employers made no recriminations. All hoped for an arrangement,
though no one could say how it was to come. The day passed away in
fruitless parleys, and at night the fever naturally rose, as is the way
of fevers.

When nightfall came, the crowd had become so great, in the public
square that Farnham thought it might be better not to march his
improvised policemen in a body up-town. He therefore dispatched orders
to Kendall to send them up with their arms, singly or by twos and
threes, to his house. By eight o'clock they were all there, and he
passed an hour or so in putting them through a rude form of drill and
giving them the instructions which he had prepared during the day. His
intention was to keep them together on his own place during the early
part of the night, and if, toward midnight, all seemed quiet, to
scatter them as a patrol about the neighborhood; in case of serious
disturbance anywhere else, to be ready to take part in restoring order.

About nine o'clock a man was seen coming rapidly from the house to the
rear garden, where Farnham and his company were. The men were dispersed
about the place; some on the garden seats, some lying on the grass in
the clear moonlight. Farnham was a little apart, talking with Kendall
and Grosshammer. He started up to meet the intruder; it was Mr. Temple.

"What's all this?" said Temple.

"The manly art of self-defence," said Farnham, smiling.

"I see, and I am glad to see it, too," answered Temple, warmly. "One of
my men told me an hour ago that in the Tramps' Lodging House, last
night, it was the common talk that there would be a rush on the houses
in this region to-night. I went to the Mayor and tried to see him, but
he was hiding, I think. I went to the Chief of Police, and he was in a
blue funk. So I thought I would come up myself and see you. I knew you
could raise a few men among your servants over here, and I would bring
half a dozen, and we could answer for a few tramps, anyhow. But you are
all right, and there is nothing to do but wait for them."

"Yes, thank you!" said Farnham, "though I am a thousand times obliged
to you for your good-will. I won't forget it in a hurry, old man. Are
you going home now? I will walk a block or two with you."

"No, I am not going home--not by"--[we draw the veil over Temple's
language at this point]. "I have come to spend the evening. Have you
any tools for me?"

"Nonsense, my dear fellow! there is not the least use of it. There is
not one chance in a million that there will be anything to do."

The two men were walking toward the house. Temple said: "Don't be too
sure of it. As I passed by the corner of the Square ten minutes ago,
there was a fellow in front of Mouchem's gin-mill, a longhaired,
sallow-looking pill, who was making as ugly a speech to a crowd of
ruffians as I ever heard. One phrase was something like this: 'Yes, my
fellow-toilers'--he looked like he had never worked a muscle in his
life except his jaw-tackle,--'the time has come. The hour is at hand.
The people rule. Tyranny is down. Enter in and take possession of the
spoilers' gains. Algonquin Avenue is heaped with riches wrung from the
sweat of the poor. Clean out the abodes of blood guiltiness.' And you
ought to have heard the ki-yi's that followed. That encouraged him, and
he went on: 'Algonquin Avenue is a robbers' cave, It's very handsome,
but it needs one thing more.' 'What's that?' some fellows yelled. 'An
aristocrat hung to every lamppost.' This was very popular too, you can
bet your boots. On that I toddled off, so as to get you a chance to say
your peccavy, anyhow."

Walking and talking together, they had passed the house and come to the
gate opening on the Avenue.

"You might shut these wide gates," said Temple.

"I do not think they have been shut in ten years," Farnham answered.
"Let's try it."

The effort was unsuccessful. The heavy gates would not budge. Suddenly
a straggling, irregular cheer was heard from the direction of the
Square. "There!" said Temple, "my friend the orator has got off another
good thing."

But Farnham, who had stepped outside at the sound and gazed on the
moon-lighted avenue, said, "There they come now!"

They both ran back to the house, Farnham blowing his watchman's
whistle. "See here," said Temple, "I must have some tools. You have a
club and revolver. Give me the club," which he took without more
ceremony. The men came up from the garden in an instant, and quickly
fell in at Farnham's word of command. Masked by the shadows of the
trees and the shrubbery, they were not discernible from the street.

"Remember," said Farnham. "Use your clubs as much as you see fit, if
you come to close quarters; but do not fire without orders, unless to
save your own lives. I don't think it is likely that these fellows are
armed."

The clattering of feet grew louder on the sidewalk, and in a moment the
leaders of the gang--it could hardly be called a mob--stopped by the
gates. "Here's the place. Come along boys!" one of them shouted, but no
one stirred until the whole party came up. They formed a dense crowd
about the gates and half-filled the wide avenue. There was evidently a
moment of hesitation, and then three or four rushed through the gate,
followed by a larger number, and at last by the bulk of the crowd. They
had come so near the porch that it could now be seen by the light of
the moon that few of them carried arms. Some had sticks; one or two men
carried heavy stones in their hands; one young man brandished an axe;
one had a hammer. There was evidently no attempt at organization
whatever.

Farnham waited until they were only a few feet away, and then shouted:

"Forward! Guide right! Double time! March!"

The men darted out from the shadow and began to lay about them with
their clubs. A yell of dismay burst from the crowd. Those in front
turned and met those behind, and the whole mass began striking out
wildly at each other. Yelling and cursing, they were forced back over
the lawn to the gate. Farnham, seeing that no shots had been fired, was
confirmed in his belief that the rioters were without organization and,
to a great extent, without arms. He therefore ordered his men to the
right about and brought them back to the house. This movement evidently
encouraged the mob. Loud voices were distinctly heard.

"Who's afraid of half a dozen cops?" said a burly ruffian, who carried
a slunfg-shot. "There's enough of us to eat 'em up."

"That's the talk, Bowersox," said another. "You go in and get the first
bite."

"That's my style," said Bowersox. "Come along, Offitt. Where's Bott? I
guess he don't feel very well. Come along, boys! We'll slug 'em this
time!" And the crowd, inspirited by this exhortation and the apparent
weakness of the police force, made a second rush for the house.

Temple was standing next to Farnham. "Arthur," he whispered, "let's
change weapons a moment," handing Farnham his club and taking the
revolver from his hand. Farnham hardly noticed the exchange, so
intently was he watching the advance of the crowd, which he saw, in a
moment, was far more serious than the first. They were coming up more
solidly, and the advantage of the surprise was now gone. He waited,
however, until they were almost as near as they had been before, and
then gave the order to charge, in the same words as before, but in a
much sharper and louder tone, which rang out like a sudden blast from a
trumpet.

The improvised policemen darted forward and attacked as vigorously as
ever, but the assailants stood their ground. There were blows given as
well as taken this time. There was even a moment's confusion on the
extreme right of the line, where the great bulk of Bowersox bore down
one of the veterans. Farnham sprang forward and struck the burly
ruffian with his club; but his foot slipped on the grass, and he
dropped on one knee. Bowersox raised his slung-shot; a single report of
a pistol rang out, and he tumbled forward over Farnham, who sprang to
his feet and shouted, "Now, men, drive 'em!" Taking the right himself
and profiting by the momentary shock of the shot, they got the crowd
started again, and by vigorous clubbing drove them once more into the
street.


Returning to the shadow by the house, Farnham's first question was, "Is
anybody hurt?"

"I've got a little bark knocked off," said one quiet fellow, who came
forward showing a ghastly face bathed in blood from a wound in his
forehead. Farnham looked at him a moment, and then, running to his
door, opened it and called Budsey, who had been hiding in the cellar,
praying to all his saints.

"Here, Budsey, take this man down to the coachman's house, and then go
round the corner and bring Dr. Cutts. If he isn't there, get somebody
else. It does not amount to much, but there will be less scar if it is
attended to at once."

The man was starting away with Budsey, when Temple said, "Look here!
You won't need that arsenal any more to-night. Pass it over," and took
the man's belt, with club and pistol, and buckled them around his own
slim waist. Handing Farnham his own pistol, he said: "Thanks, Arthur. I
owe you one cartridge."

"And I owe you, God knows how much!"

Farnham then briefly announced to his men that the shot which had just
been fired was not by a member of the company, and was, therefore, not
a disobedience of orders. Catching sight of Bowersox lying motionless
on the grass, he ordered,

"Two file-closers from the right, go and bring in that man!"

But at that moment Bowersox moved, sat up and looked about him, and,
suddenly remembering where he was, struggled to his feet and half-ran,
half staggered to his friends in the street. They gathered about him
for a moment, and then two of them were seen supporting him on his way
into the town.

Farnham was standing behind his men, and a little apart. He was
thinking whether it might not be best to take them at once into the
street and disperse the crowd, when he felt a touch at his elbow. He
turned, and saw his gardener, Ferguson.

"If I might speak a word, sir!"

"Certainly--what is it? But be quick about it."

"I think all is not right at the Widow Belding's. I was over there but
now, and a dozen men--I did not count them,--but--"

"Heavens! why did I not think of that? Kendall, you take command of
these men for a moment. Bolty, you and the three files on the left come
with me. Come, Temple,--the back way." And he started at a pace so
rapid that the others could hardly keep him in sight.

After the first repulse of the crowd, Offitt, Bott, and a few more of
the Bread-winners, together with some of the tramps and jail-birds who
had come for plunder, gathered together across the street and agreed
upon a diversion. It was evident, they said, that Farnham had a
considerable police force with him to protect his property; it was
useless to waste any more time there; let the rest stay there and
occupy the police; they could have more fun and more profit in some of
the good houses in the neighborhood. "Yes," one suggested, "Jairus
Belding's widder lives just a step off. Lots o' silver and things. Less
go there."

They slipped away in the confusion of the second rush, and made their
way through the garden to Mrs. Belding's. They tried the door, and,
finding it locked, they tore off the shutters and broke the windows,
and made their way into the drawing-room, where Mrs. Belding and Alice
were sitting.

They had been alarmed by the noise and tumult in front of Farnham's
house, and had locked and bolted their own doors in consequence.
Passing through the kitchen in their rounds, they found Ferguson there
in conversation with the cook. "Why, Fergus!" said the widow: "why are
you not at home? They are having lively times over there, are they
not?"

"Yes," said the gardener; "but they have a plenty of men with arms, and
I thought I'd e'en step over here and hearten up Bessie a bit."

"I'm sure she ought to be very much obliged," responded Mrs. Belding,
dryly, though, to speak the truth, she was not displeased to have a man
in the house, however little she might esteem his valor.

"I have no doubt he sneaked away from the fuss," she said to Alice;
"but I would rather have him in the kitchen than nothing."

Alice assented. "That is what they mean by moral support, I suppose."

She spoke with a smile, but her heart was ill at ease. The man she
loved was, for all she knew, in deadly danger, and she could not show
that she cared at all for him, for fear of showing that she cared too
much.

"I am really anxious about Arthur Farnham," continued Mrs. Belding. "I
hope he will not get himself into any scrape with those men."

The tumult on the street and on the lawn had as yet presented itself to
her in no worse light than as a labor demonstration, involving cheers
and rude language. "I am afraid he won't be polite enough to them. He
might make them a little speech, complimenting Ireland and the American
flag, and then they would go away. That's what your father did, in that
strike on the Wabash. It was in the papers at the time. But these
soldiers--I'm afraid Arthur mayn't be practical enough."

"Fortunately, we are not responsible for him," said Alice, whose heart
was beating violently.

"Why, Alice! what a heartless remark!"

At this instant the windows came crashing in, and a half-dozen ruffians
burst into the room. Alice sprang, pale and silent, to the side of her
mother, who sat, paralyzed with fright, in her rocking-chair.

A man came forward from the group of assailants. His soft hat was drawn
down over his eyes, and a red handkerchief concealed the lower part of
his face. His voice was that of Offitt, as he said, "Ladies, we don't
want to do no violence; but, in the name of the Revolutionary
Committee, we have called to collect an assessment on you." This
machinery was an invention of the moment, and was received with great
satisfaction by the Bread-winners.

"That's what's the matter," they said, in chorus. "Your assessment, and
be lively about it. All you've got handy."

"I have no money in the house," Mrs. Belding cried. "What shall I do?"

"You forget, mamma," said Alice. "There is some upstairs. If these
gentlemen will wait here a moment, I will go and get it."

Offitt looked at her sharply. "Well, run and get it. Bott, you go with
her."

Bott turned angrily upon his chief. "What's the use of calling names?
What if I said your name was----"

"There, there, don't keep the lady waiting."

Alice turned from the room, closely followed by Bott. Reaching the
stairs, she swept up the long flight with the swift grace of a swallow.
Bott hurried after her as fast as he could; but she gained her bedroom
door enough in advance to shut and lock it between them, leaving him
kicking and swearing in the hall. She ran to her open window, which
looked toward Farnham's, and sent the voice of her love and her trouble
together into the clear night in one loud cry, "Arthur!"

She blushed crimson as the word involuntarily broke from her lips, and
cried again as loudly as she could, "Help!"

"I hope he did not hear me at first," she said, covering her face with
her hands, and again she cried, "Help!"

"Shut up that noise," said Bott, who was kicking violently at the door,
but could not break it down. "Shut up, or I'll wring your neck."

She stopped, not on account of his threats, which suddenly ceased, but
because she heard the noise of footsteps on the porch, and of a short
but violent scuffle, which showed that aid of some sort had arrived. In
a few moments she heard Bott run away from her door. He started toward
the stairs, but finding his retreat cut off ran to the front window,
closely pursued. She heard a scramble. Then a voice which made her
heart beat tumultuously said. "Look out below there."

A moment after, the same voice said, "Have you got him?" and then, "All
right! keep him."

A light knock on her door followed, and Farnham said, "Miss Belding."

Alice stood by the door a moment before she could open it. Her heart
was still thumping, her voice failed her, she turned white and red in a
moment. The strongest emotion of which she was conscious was the hope
that Arthur had not heard her call him by his name.

She opened the door with a gravity which was almost ludicrous. Her
first words were wholly so.

"Good-evening, Captain Farnham," was all she could find to say. Then,
striving desperately to add something more gracious, she stammered,
"Mamma will be very----"

"Glad to see me in the drawing room?" Farnham laughed. "I have no doubt
of it. She is quite safe there; and your visitors have gone. Will you
join her now?"

She could not help perceiving the slight touch of sarcasm in his tone.
She saw he was hurt by her coldness and shyness, and that made her
still more cold and shy. Without another word she walked before him to
the drawing-room, where Mrs. Belding still sat in her rocking-chair,
moaning and wringing her hands. Mr. Temple was standing beside her
trying to soothe her, telling her it was all over. Bolty was tying the
arms of one of the ruffians behind him, who lay on the floor on his
face. There was no one else in the room.

Alice knelt on the floor by her mother and took her in her arms. "You
are not hurt, are you, mamma dear?" she said, in a soft, tender tone,
as if she were caressing a crying child.

"Oh, no! I suppose not," said the widow; "but I am not used to such
doings at this time of night, and I don't like them. Captain Farnham,
how shall I ever thank you? and you, Mr. Temple? Goodness knows what we
should have done without you. Alice, the moment you left the room, some
of them ran to the sideboard for the silver, another one proposed to
set the house afire, and that vile creature with the red handkerchief
asked me for my ear-rings and my brooch. I was trying to be as long as
I could about getting them off, when these gentlemen came in. I tell
you they looked like angels, and I'll tell your wife so when I see her,
Mr. Temple; and as for Arthur----"

At this moment Bolty, having finished the last knot to his
satisfaction, rose and touched his prisoner with his foot. "Captain,"
he said, saluting Farnham, "vot I shall do mit dis schnide?"

"They have got the one I dropped from the window?"

"Jawohl! on de gravel-walk draussen!"

"Very well. Take them both to the stable behind my house for the
present, and make them fast together. Then come back here and stand
guard awhile with the men on the porch, till I relieve you."

"All right. Git up mid yourself," he said, touching his prostrate foe
not so gently, "and vorwaerts."

As they went out, Farnham turned to Mrs. Belding, and said, "I think
you will have no more trouble. The men I leave as a guard will be quite
sufficient, I have no doubt. I must hurry back and dismiss the friends
who have been serenading me."

She gazed at him, not quite comprehending, and then said, "Well, if you
must go, good-night, and thank you a thousand times. When I have my
wits about me I will thank you better."

Arthur answered laughingly as he shook hands. "Oh, that is of no
consequence. It was merely neighborly. You would have done as much for
me, I am sure." And the gentlemen took their leave.

When the ladies were alone, Mrs. Belding resumed her story of the great
transaction. "Why, it will be something to tell about as long as I
live," she said. "You had hardly got upstairs when I heard a noise of
fighting outside on the walk and the porch. Then Arthur and Mr. Temple
came through that window as if they were shot out of a cannon. The
thief who stood by me, the red handkerchief one, did not stop, but
burst through the hall into the kitchen and escaped the back way. Then
Mr. Temple took another one and positively threw him through the
window, while Arthur, with that policeman's club, knocked the one down
whom you saw the German tying up. It was all done in an instant, and I
just sat and screamed for my share of the work. Then Arthur came and
caught me by the shoulder, and almost shook me, and said, 'Where is
Alice?' Upon my word, I had almost forgotten you. I said you were
upstairs, and one of those wretches was there too. He looked as black
as a fury, and went up in about three steps. I always thought he had
such a sweet temper, but to-night he seemed just to _love_ to fight.
Now I think of it, Alice, you hardly spoke to him. You must not let him
think we are ungrateful. You must write him a nice note to-morrow."

Alice laid her head upon her mother's shoulder, where her wet eyes
could not be seen. "Mamma," she asked, "did he say 'Where is Alice?'
Did he say nothing but 'Alice'?"

"Now, don't be silly," said Mrs. Belding. "Of course he said 'Alice.'
You wouldn't expect a man to be Miss Beldinging you at such a time. You
are quite too particular."

"He called me Miss Belding when he came upstairs," said Alice, still
hiding her face.

"And what did you say to him--for saving this house and all our lives?"

The girl's overwrought nerves gave way. She had only breath enough to
say, "I said 'Good evening, Captain Farnham!' Wasn't it too perfectly
ridiculous?" and then burst into a flood of mingled laughter and tears,
which nothing could check, until she had cried herself quiet upon her
mother's bosom.



XV.


THE WHIP OF THE SCYTHIANS.


Farnham and Temple walked hastily back to where they had left Kendall
with the rest of the company. They found him standing like a statute
just where he had been placed by Farnham. The men were ranged in the
shadow of the shrubbery and the ivy-clad angle of the house. The moon
shone full on the open stretch of lawn, and outside the gates a black
mass on the sidewalk and the street showed that the mob had not left
the place. But it seemed sluggish and silent.

"Have they done anything new?" asked Farnham.

"Nothin', but fire a shot or two--went agin the wall overhead; and once
they heaved a lot of rocks, but it was too fur--didn't git more'n half
way. That's all."

"We don't want to stand here looking at each other all night," said
Farnham.

"Let's go out and tell them it's bed-time," suggested Temple.

"Agreed!" said Farnham. He turned to his men, and in a voice at first
so low that it could not have been heard ten feet away, yet so clear
that every syllable was caught by his soldiers, he gave the words of
command.

"Company, attention! Eight, forward. Fours right. Double time. March!"

The last words rang out clear and loud, and startled the sullen crowd
in the street. There was a hurried, irresolute movement among them,
which increased as the compact little corps dashed out of the shadow
into the clear moonlight, and rushed with the rapid but measured pace
of veterans across the lawn. A few missiles were thrown, without
effect. One or two shots were heard, followed by a yell in the street--
which showed that some rioter in his excitement had wounded one of his
own comrades. Farnham and his little band took only a moment to reach
the gate, and the crowd recoiled as they burst through into the street.
At the first onslaught the rioters ran in both directions, leaving the
street clear immediately in front of the gates.

The instant his company reached the middle of the avenue, Arthur,
seeing that the greater number of the divided mob had gone to the left,
shouted:

"Fours left. March--guide right."

The little phalanx wheeled instantly and made rapid play with their
clubs, but only for a moment. The crowd began to feel the mysterious
power which discipline backed by law always exerts, and they ran at
full speed up the street to the corner and there dispersed. The
formation of the veterans was not even broken. They turned at Farnham's
order, faced to the rear, and advanced in double time upon the smaller
crowd which still lingered a little way beyond the gate.

In this last group there was but one man who stood his ground and
struck out for himself. It was a tall young fellow with fair hair and
beard, armed with a carpenter's hammer, with which he maintained so
formidable an attitude that, although two or three policemen were
opposed to him, they were wary about closing in upon him. Farnham,
seeing that this was all there was left of the fight, ordered the men
to fall back, and, approaching the recalcitrant, said sharply:

"Drop that hammer, and surrender! We are officers of the law, and if
you resist any longer you'll be hurt."

"I don't mind that. I was waiting for _you_," the man said, and made a
quick and savage rush and blow at Farnham. In all his campaigns, he had
never before had so much use for his careful broadsword training as
now. With his policeman's club against the workman's hammer, he
defended himself with such address, that in a few seconds, before his
men could interfere, his adversary was disarmed and stretched on the
sidewalk by a blow over the head. He struggled to rise, but was seized
by two men and held fast.

"Don't hit him," said Farnham. "I think I have seen this man
somewhere."

"Why," said Kendall, "that's Sam Sleeny, a carpenter in Dean Street. He
orter be in better business."

"Yes, I remember," said Farnham; "he is a Reformer. Put him with the
others."

As they were tying his hands, Sam turned to Farnham and said, in a
manner which was made dignified by its slow, energetic malice, "You've
beat me to-night, but I will get even with you yet--as sure as there's
a God."

"That's reasonably sure," said Farnham; "but in the meanwhile, we'll
put you where you can cool off a little."

The street was now cleared; the last fugitives were out of sight.
Farnham returned to his garden, and then divided his men into squads
for patrolling the neighborhood. They waited for half an hour, and,
finding all was still quiet, then made arrangements for passing the
night. Farnham made Temple go into the house with him, and asked Budsey
to bring some sherry. "It is not so good as your Santa Rita," he said;
"but the exercise in the night air will give it a relish."

When the wine came, the men filled and drank, in sober American
fashion, without words; but in the heart of each there was the thought
of eternal friendship, founded upon brave and loyal service.

"Budsey," said Farnham, "give all the men a glass of this wine."

"Not this, sir?" said Budsey, aghast.

"I said this," replied Farnham. "Perhaps they won't enjoy it, but I
shall enjoy giving it to them."

Farnham and Temple were eating some bread and cheese and talking over
the evening, when Budsey came back with something which approached a
smile upon his grave countenance.

"Did they like it?" asked Farnham.

"Half of 'em said they was temperance and wouldn't 'ave any. Some of
the rest said--you will excuse me, sir--as it was d---- poor cider,"
and Budsey went out of the room with a suspicious convulsion of the
back.

"I'll go on that," said Mr. Temple. "Goodnight. I think we will have
good news in the morning. There will be an attack made on those men at
Riverley to-morrow which will melt them like an iceberg in Tartarus."
Mr. Temple was not classical, and, of course, did not say Tartarus.

Farnham was left alone. The reaction from the excitement of the last
few hours was settling upon him. The glow of the fight and his success
in it were dying away. Midnight was near, and a deep silence was
falling upon the city. There was no sound of bells, of steam-whistles,
or of rushing trains. The breeze could be heard in the quiet, stirring
the young, soft leaves. Farnham felt sore, beaten, discomfited. He
smiled a little bitterly to himself when he considered that the cause
of his feeling of discouragement was that Alice Belding had spoken to
him with coldness and shyness when she opened her door. He could not
help saying to himself, "I deserved a kinder greeting than she gave me.
She evidently wished me to understand that I am not to be permitted any
further intimacy. I have forfeited that by presuming to love her. But
how lovely she is! When she took her mother in her arms, I thought of
all the Greek heroines I ever read about. Still, 'if she be not fair
for me'--if I am not to be either lover or friend--this is no place for
me."

The clock on the mantel struck midnight. "A strange night," he mused.
"There is one sweet and one bitter thing about it. I have done her a
service, and she did not care."

He went to the door to speak to Kendall. "I think our work is over for
to-night. Have our prisoners taken down to the Refrigerator and turned
over to the ordinary police. I will make charges to-morrow. Then divide
the men into watches and make yourself as comfortable as you can. If
anything happens, call me. If nothing happens, good-night."

He returned to his library, turned down the gas, threw himself on the
sofa, and was soon asleep; even before Alice, who sat, unhappy, as
youth is unhappy, by an open window, her eyes full of tears, her heart
full of remorse. "It is too wretched to think of," she bemoaned
herself. "He is the only man in the world I could ever care for, and I
have driven him away. It never can be made right again; I am punished
justly. If I thought he would take me, I believe I could go this minute
and throw myself at his feet. But he would smile, and raise me up, and
make some pretty speech, very gentle, and very dreadful, and bring me
back to mamma, and then I should die."

But at nineteen well-nourished maidens do not pass the night in
mourning, however heavy their hearts may be, and Alice slept at last,
and perhaps was happier in her innocent dreams.

The night passed without further incident, and the next day, though it
may have shown favorable signs to practised eyes, seemed very much, to
the public, like the day which had preceded it. There were fewer shops
closed in the back streets; there were not so many parties of wandering
apostles of plunder going about to warn laborers away from their work.
But in the principal avenues and in the public squares there were the
same dense crowds of idlers, some listless and some excited, ready to
believe the wildest rumors and to applaud the craziest oratory.
Speakers were not lacking; besides the agitators of the town, several
had come in from neighboring places, and they were preaching, with
fervor and perspiration, from street corners and from barrel-heads in
the beer-houses, the dignity of manhood and the overthrow of tyrants.

Bott, who had quite distinguished himself during the last few days, was
not to be seen. He had passed the night in the station-house, and, on
brief examination before a police-justice at an early hour of the
morning, on complaint of Farnham and Temple, had been, together with
the man captured in Mrs. Belding's drawing-room, bound over to stand
his trial for house-breaking at the next term of court. He displayed
the most abject terror before his trial, and would have made a full
confession of the whole affair had Offitt not had the address to convey
to him the assurance that, if he stood firm, the Brotherhood of
Bread-winners would attend to his case and be responsible for his safety.
Relying upon this, he plucked up his spirits and bore himself with
characteristic impudence in the presence of the police-justice,
insisting upon being called Professor Bott, giving his profession as
inspirational orator, his religion the divinity of humanity. When bound
over for trial, he rose and gained a round of applause from the idlers
in the court-room by shouting, "I appeal from this outrage to the power
of the people and the judgment of history."

This was his last recorded oration; for we may as well say at once
that, a month later, he stood his trial without help from any
Brotherhood, and passed away from public life, though not entirely from
public employment, as he is now usefully and unobtrusively engaged in
making shoes in the State penitentiary--and is said "to take serious
views of life."

The cases of Sleeny and the men who were taken in the street by
Farnham's policemen were also disposed of summarily through his
intervention. He could not help liking the fair-bearded carpenter,
although he had been caught in such bad company, and so charged him
merely with riotous conduct in the public streets, for which the
penalty was a light fine and a few days' detention. Sleeny seemed
conscious of his clemency, but gave him no look or expression of
gratitude. He was too bitter at heart to feel gratitude, and too
awkward to feign it.

About noon, a piece of news arrived which produced a distinct
impression of discouragement among the strikers. It was announced in
the public square that the railway blockade was broken in Clairfield, a
city to the east of Buffland about a hundred miles. The hands had
accepted the terms of the employers and had gone to work again. An
orator tried to break the force of this announcement by depreciating
the pluck of the Clairfield men. "Why, gentlemen!" he screamed, "a
ten-year-old boy in this town has got twice the sand of a Clairfield
man. They just leg the bosses to kick 'em. When they are fired out of
a shop door, they sneak down the chimbley and whine to be took on
again. We ain't made of that kind of stuff."

But this haughty style of eloquence did not avail to inspirit the
crowd, especially as the orator was just then interrupted to allow
another dispatch to be read, which said that the citizens of a town to
the south had risen in mass and taken the station there from the hands
of the strikers. This news produced a feeling of isolation and
discouragement which grew to positive panic, an hour later, on the
report that a brigade of regular troops was on its way to Buffland to
restore order. The report was of course unfounded, as a brigade of
regular troops could not be got together in this country in much less
time than it would take to build a city; but even the name of the
phantom army had its effect, and the crowds began to disperse from that
time. The final blow was struck, however, later in the day.

Farnham learned it from Mr. Temple, at whose counting-room he had
called, as usual, for news. Mr. Temple greeted him with a volley of
exulting oaths.

"It's all up. You know what I told you last night about the attack that
was preparing on Riverley. I went out there myself, this forenoon. I
knew some of the strikers, and I thought I would see if
the -- -- -- -- would let me send my horse Blue Ruin through to
Rochester to-morrow. He is entered for the races there, you know, and I
didn't want, by -- -- -- --, to miss my engagements, understand? Well,
as I drove out there, after I got about half way, it began to occur to
me that I never saw so many women since the Lord made me. The road was
full of them in carts, buggies, horseback, and afoot. I thought a
committee of 'em was going; but I suppose they couldn't trust a
committee, and so they all went. There were so many of 'em I couldn't
drive fast, and so I got there about the same time the head of the
column began to arrive. You never saw anything like it in your life.
The strikers had been living out there in a good deal of style--with
sentries and republican government and all that. By the great
hokey-pokey! they couldn't keep it up a minute when their wives came.
They knew 'em too well. They just bulged in without rhyme or rule.
Every woman went for her husband and told him to pack up and go home.
Some of 'em--the artful kind--begged and wheedled and cried; said they
were so tired--wanted their sweethearts again. But the bigger part
talked hard sense,--told 'em their lazy picnic had lasted long enough,
that there was no meat in the house, and that they had got to come home
and go to work. The siege didn't last half an hour. The men brazened it
out awhile; some were rough; told their wives to dry up, and one big
fellow slapped his wife for crying. By jingo! it wasn't half a flash
before another fellow slapped _him_, and there they had it, rolling
over and over on the grass, till the others pulled them apart by the
legs. It was a gone case from the start. They held a meeting off-hand;
the women stayed by to watch proceedings, and, not to make a long story
about it, when I started back a delegation of the strikers came with me
to see the president of the roads, and trains will run through to-night
as usual. I am devilish glad of it, for my part. There is nothing in
Rochester of any force but Rosin-the-Bow, and my horse can show him the
way around the track as if he was getting a dollar an hour as a guide."

"That _is_ good news certainly. Is it generally known in the city?"

"I think not. It was too late for the afternoon papers. I told Jimmy
Nelson, and he tore down to the depot to save what is left of his
fruit. He swore so about it that I was quite shocked."

"What about the mill hands?" asked Farnham.

"The whole thing will now collapse at once. We shall receive the
proposition of the men who left us to-morrow, and re-engage on our own
terms, next day, as many as we want. We shan't be hard on them. But one
or two gifted orators will have to take the road. They are fit for
nothing but Congress, and they can't all go from this district. If I
were you, Arthur, by the way, I wouldn't muster out that army of yours
till to-morrow. But I don't think there will be any more calls in your
neighborhood. You are too inhospitable to visitors."

The sun was almost setting as Farnham walked through the public square
on his way home. He could hardly believe so sudden a change could have
fallen upon the busy scene of a few hours before. The square was almost
deserted. Its holiday appearance was gone. A few men occupied the
benches. One or two groups stood beneath the trees and conversed in
under-tones. The orators had sought their hiding-places,
unnecessarily--too fearful of the vengeance which never, in this happy
country, attends the exercise of unbridled "slack jaw." As Arthur
walked over the asphalt pavement there was nothing to remind him of
the great crowds of the last few days but the shells of the pea-nuts
crunching under his feet. It seems as if the American workman can
never properly invoke the spirit of liberty without a pocketful of
this democratic nut.

As he drew near his house, Farnham caught a glimpse of light drapery
upon Mrs. Belding's piazza, and went over to relieve her from anxiety
by telling her the news of the day. When he had got half way across the
lawn, he saw Alice rise from beside her mother as if to go. Mrs.
Belding signed for her to resume her seat. Farnham felt a slight
sensation of anger. "It is unworthy of her," he thought, "to avoid me
in that manner. I must let her see she is in no danger from me."

He gave his hand cordially to Mrs. Belding and bowed to Alice without a
word. He then briefly recounted the news to the elder lady, and assured
her that there was no probability of any farther disturbance of the
peace.

"But we shall have our policemen here all the same to-night, so that
you may sleep with a double sense of security."

"I am sure you are very good," she said. "I don't know what we should
have done without you last night, _and_ Mr. Temple. When it comes to
ear-rings, there's no telling what they wouldn't have done."

"Two of your guests are in jail, with good prospects of their remaining
there. The others, I learn, were thieves from out of town; I doubt if
we shall capture them."

"For goodness' sake, let them run. I never want to see them again. That
ugly creature who went up with Alice for the money--you caught him? I
am so glad. The impudence of the creature! going upstairs with my
daughter, as if she was not to be trusted. Well," she added candidly,
"she wasn't that time, but it was none of _his_ business."

Here Alice and Farnham both laughed out, and the sound of the other's
voice was very pleasant to each of them, though they did not look
toward each other.

"I am beginning to think that the world is growing too wicked for
single women," Mrs. Belding continued, philosophically. "Men can take
care of themselves in so many ways. They can use a club as you do----"

"Daily and habitually," assented Arthur.

"Or they can make a speech about Ireland and the old flag, as Mr.
Belding used to; or they can swear like Mr. Temple. By the way, Alice,
you were not here when Mr. Temple swore so at those thieves. I was
scandalized, but I had to admit it was very appropriate."

"I was also away from the room," said Farnham; "but I can readily
believe the comminatory clauses must have been very cogent."

"Oh, yes! and such a nice woman _she_ is."

"Yes, Mrs. Temple is charming," said Farnham, rising.

"Arthur, do not go! Stay to dinner. It will be ready in one moment. It
will strengthen our nerves to have a man dine with us, especially a
liberating hero like you. Why, you seemed to me last night like Perseus
in the picture, coming to rescue What's-her-name from the rock."

Farnham glanced at Alice. Her eyes were fixed upon the ground; her
fingers were tightly clasped. She was wishing with all her energy that
he would stay, waiting to catch his first word of assent, but unable to
utter a syllable.

"Alice," said Mrs. Belding rather sharply, "I think Arthur does not
regard my invitation as quite sufficient. Will you give it your
approval?"

Alice raised her face at these words and looked up at Farnham. It was a
beautiful face at all times, and now it was rosy with confusion, and
the eyes were timid but kind. She said with lips that trembled a
little: "I should be very glad to have Captain Farnham stay to dinner."

She had waited too long, and the words were a little too formal, and
Arthur excused himself on the plea of having to look out for his
cohort, and went home to a lonely dinner.



XVI.


OFFITT DIGS A PIT.


A week had passed by; the great strike was already almost forgotten. A
few poor workmen had lost their places. A few agitators had been
dismissed for excellent reasons, having no relation with the strike.
The mayor had recovered from his panic, and was beginning to work for a
renomination, on the strength of his masterly dealing with the labor
difficulties, in which, as he handsomely said in a circular composed by
himself and signed by his friends, he "nobly accomplished the duty
allotted him of preserving the rights of property while respecting the
rights of the people, of keeping the peace according to his oath, and
keeping faith with the masses, to which he belonged, in their struggle
against monopoly."

The rich and prosperous people, as their manner is, congratulated
themselves on their escape, and gave no thought to the questions which
had come so near to an issue of fire and blood. In this city of two
hundred thousand people, two or three dozen politicians continued as
before to govern it, to assess and to spend its taxes, to use it as
their property and their chattel. The rich and intelligent kept on
making money, building fine houses, and bringing up children to hate
politics as they did, and in fine to fatten themselves as sheep which
should be mutton whenever the butcher was ready. There was hardly a
millionaire on Algonquin Avenue who knew where the ward meetings of his
party were held. There was not an Irish laborer in the city but knew
his way to his ward club as well as to mass.

Among those who had taken part in the late exciting events and had now
reverted to private life was Sam Sleeny. His short sentence had
expired; he had paid his fine and come back to Matchin's. But he was
not the quiet, contented workman he had been. He was sour, sullen, and
discontented. He nourished a dull grudge against the world. He had
tried to renew friendly relations with Maud, but she had repulsed him
with positive scorn. Her mind was full of her new prospects, and she
did not care to waste time with him. The scene in the rose-house
rankled in his heart; he could not but think that her mind had been
poisoned by Farnham, and his hate gained intensity every hour.

In this frame of mind he fell easily into the control of Offitt. That
worthy had not come under the notice of the law for the part he took in
the attack on the Belding house; he had not been recognized by
Farnham's men, nor denounced by his associates; and so, after a day or
two of prudential hiding, he came to the surface again. He met Sam at
the very door of the House of Correction, sympathized with him,
flattered him, gained his full confidence at last, and held him ready
for some purpose which was vague even in his own brain. He was
determined to gain possession of Maud, and he felt it must be through
some crime, the manner of which was not quite clear to him. If he could
use Sam to accomplish his purpose and save his own skin, that would be
best. His mind ran constantly upon theft, forgery, burglary, and
murder; but he could frame no scheme which did not involve risks that
turned him sick. If he could hit upon something where he might furnish
the brains, and Sam the physical force and the risk! He dwelt upon this
day and night. He urged Sam to talk of his own troubles; of the
Matchins; at last, of Maud and his love, and it was not long before the
tortured fellow had told him what he saw in the rose-house. Strangely
enough, the thought of his fiancee leaning on the shoulder of another
man did not in the least diminish the ardor of Offitt. His passion was
entirely free from respect or good-will. He used the story to whet the
edge of Sam's hatred against Farnham.

"Why, Sam, my boy," he would say, "your honor is at stake."

"I would as soon kill him as eat," Sam answered. "But what good would
that do me? She cares no more for me than she does for you."

Offitt was sitting alone in his room one afternoon; his eyes were
staring blankly at the opposite wall; his clinched hands were cold as
ice. He had been sitting in that way motionless for an hour, a prey to
a terrible excitement.

It had come about in this way. He had met in one of the shops he
frequented a machinist who rented one of Farnham's houses. Offitt had
asked him at noon-time to come out and drink a glass of beer with him.
The man complied, and was especially careful to bring his waistcoat
with him, saying with a laugh, "I lose my shelter if I lose that."

"What do you mean?" asked Offitt.

"I've got a quarter's rent in there for Cap. Farnham."

"Why are you carrying it around all day?"

"Well, you know, Farnham is a good sort of fellow, and to keep us from
losing time he lets us come to his house in the evening, after working
hours, on quarter-day, instead of going to his office in the day-time.
You see, I trot up there after supper and get rid of this wad."

Offitt's eyes twinkled like those of an adder.

"How many of you do this?"

"Oh, a good many,--most everybody in our ward and some in the
Nineteenth."

"A good bit of money?" said Offitt carelessly, though his mouth worked
nervously.

"You bet your boots! If I had all the cash he takes in to-night, I'd
buy an island and shoot the machine business. Well, I must be gettin'
back. So long."

Offitt had walked directly home after this conversation, looking
neither to the right nor the left, like a man asleep. He had gone to
his room, locked his door behind him, and sat down upon the edge of his
bed and given himself up to an eager dream of crime. His heart beat,
now fast, now slow; a cold sweat enveloped him; he felt from time to
time half suffocated.

Suddenly he heard a loud knocking at his door--not as if made by the
hand, but as if some one were hammering. He started and gasped with a
choking rattle in his throat. His eyes seemed straining from their
sockets. He opened his lips, but no sound came forth.

The sharp rapping was repeated, once and again. He made no answer. Then
a loud voice said:

"Hello, Andy, you asleep?"

He threw himself back on his pillow and said yawningly, "Yes. That you,
Sam? Why don't you come in?"

"'Cause the door's locked."

He rose and let Sleeny in; then threw himself back on the bed,
stretching and gaping.

"What did you make that infernal racket with?"

"My new hammer," said Sam. "I just bought it to day. Lost my old one
the night we give Farnham the shiveree."

"Lemme see it." Offitt took it in his hand and balanced and tested it.
"Pretty good hammer. Handle's a leetle thick, but--pretty good hammer."

"Ought to be," said Sam. "Paid enough for it."

"Where d'you get it?"

"Ware & Harden's."

"Sam," said Offitt,--he was still holding the hammer and giving himself
light taps on the head with it,--"Sam."

"Well, you said that before."

Offitt opened his mouth twice to speak and shut it again.

"What are you doin'?" asked Sleeny. "Trying to catch flies?"

"Sam," said Offitt at last, slowly and with effort, "if I was you, the
first thing I did with that hammer, I'd crack Art Farnham's cocoa-nut."

"Well, Andy, go and crack it yourself if you are so keen to have it
done. You're mixing yourself rather too much in my affairs, anyhow,"
said Sam, who was nettled by these too frequent suggestions of Offitt
that his honor required repair.

"Sam Sleeny," said Offitt, in an impressive voice, "I'm one of the kind
that stands by my friends. If you mean what you have been saying to me,
I'll go up with you this very night, and we will together take it out
of that aristocrat. Now, that's business."

Sleeny looked at his friend in surprise and with some distrust. The
offer was so generous and reckless, that he could not help asking
himself what was its motive. He looked so long and so stupidly at
Offitt, that the latter at last divined his feeling. He thought that,
without telling Sleeny the whole scheme, he would test him one step
farther.

"I don't doubt," he said carelessly, "but what we could pay ourselves
well for the job,--spoil the 'Gyptians, you know,--forage on the enemy.
Plenty of portables in them houses, eh!"

"I never said"--Sam spoke slowly and deliberately--"I wanted to
'sassinate him, or rob him, or burgle him. If I could catch him and
lick him, in a fair fight, I'd do it; and I wouldn't care how hard I
hit him, or what with."

"All right," said Offitt, curtly. "You met him once in a fair fight,
and he licked you. And you tried him another way,--courtin' the same
girl,--and he beat you there. But it's all right. I've got nothin'
against him, if you hain't. Lemme mark your name on this hammer," and,
turning the conversation so quickly that Sleeny had no opportunity to
resent the last taunt, he took his knife and began dexterously and
swiftly to cut Sam's initials in the handle of his hammer. Before,
however, he had half completed his self-imposed task, he exclaimed,
"This is dry work. Let's go out and get some beer. I'll finish your
hammer and bring it around after supper."

"There's one S on it," said Sam; "that's enough."

"One S enough! It might mean Smith, or Schneider, or Sullivan. No, sir.
I'll put two on in the highest style of art, and then everybody will
know and respect Sam Sleeny's tool."

They passed out of the room together, and drank their beer at a
neighboring garden. They were both rather silent and preoccupied. As
they parted, Offitt said, "I've got a scheme on hand for raising the
wind, I want to talk to you about. Be at my room to-night between nine
and ten, and wait till I come, if I am out. Don't fail." Sam stared a
little, but promised, asking no questions.

When Offitt came back, he locked the door again behind him. He bustled
about the room as if preparing to move. He had little to pack; a few
shabby clothes were thrown into a small trunk, a pile of letters and
papers were hastily torn up and pitched into the untidy grate. All this
while he muttered to himself as if to keep himself in company. He said:
"I had to take the other shoot--he hadn't the sand to help--I couldn't
tell him any more. . . . I wonder if she will go with me when I come
tonight--ready? I shall feel I deserve her anyhow. She don't treat me
as she did him, according to Sam's story. She makes me keep my
distance. She hasn't even shook hands with me since we was engaged.
I'll pay her for that after awhile." He walked up and down his room
breathing quick and hard. "I shall risk my neck, I know; but it won't
be the first time, and I never will have such a reason again. She beats
anything I ever saw. I've _got_ to have the money--to suit such a
woman. . . . I'm almost sorry for Sam--but the Lord made some men to be
other men's fools. . . ."

This was the staple of his musings; other things less edifying still
may be omitted.

While he was engaged in this manner he heard a timid knock at his door.
"Another visitor? I'm getting popular," he said, and went to open the
door.

A seedy, forlorn-looking man came in; he took off his shabby hat and
held it under his arm.

He said, "Good-evenin'," in a tone a little above a whisper.

"Well, what's the matter?" asked Offitt.

"Have you heered about Brother Bowersox?"

"Never mind the brothering--that's played out. What is there about
Bowersox?"

"He's dangerous; they don't think he'll live through the night."

"Well, what of it?"

This was not encouraging, but the poor Bread-winner ventured to say, "I
thought some of the Brothers----"

But Offitt closed the subject by a brutal laugh. "The Brothers are
looking out for themselves these times. The less said about the
Brotherhood the better. It's up the spout, do you hear?"

The poor fellow shrunk away into his ragged clothes, and went out with
a submissive "Good-evenin'."

"I'll never found another Brotherhood," Offitt said to himself. "It's
more trouble than it brings in."

It was now growing dark. He took his hat and went down the stairs and
out into the street. He entered a restaurant and ordered a beefsteak,
which he ate, paid for, and departed after a short chat with the
waiter, whom he knew. He went around the corner, entered another
eating-house, called for a cup of coffee and a roll. There also he was
careful to speak with the man who served him, slapping him on the
shoulder with familiarity. He went into a drug store a little later and
bought a glass of soda-water, dropping the glass on the marble floor,
and paying for it after some controversy. He then walked up to Dean
Street. He found the family all together in the sitting-room. He
chatted awhile with them, and asked for Sleeny.

"I don't really know where Sam is. He ain't so reg'lar in his hours as
he used to be," said Saul. "I hope he ain't gettin' wild."

"I hope not," said Offitt, in a tone of real distress--then, after a
pause, "You needn't mention my havin' asked for him. He may be
sensitive about it."

As he came away, Maud followed him to the door. He whispered, "Be
ready, my beauty, to start at a moment's notice. The money is on the
way. You shall live like a queen before many days are gone."

"We shall see," she answered, with a smile, but shutting the door
between them.

He clinched his fists and muttered, "I'll figure it all up and take my
pay, Missy. She's worth it. I will have to do some crooked things to
get her; but by ----, I'd kill a dozen men and hang another, just to
stand by and see her braid her hair."

Returning to his house, he ran nimbly up the stairs, half fearing to
find Sleeny there, but he had not yet arrived. He seized the hammer,
put it in his pocket, and came down again. Still intent upon accounting
for as much of the evening as possible, he thought of a variety-show in
the neighborhood, and went there. He spoke to some of the loafers at
the door. He then walked to the box-office and asked for a ticket,
addressing the man who sold it to him as "Jimmy," and asking how
business was. The man handed him his ticket without any reply, but
turned to a friend beside him, and said, "Who is that cheeky brother
that knows me so well?"

"Oh! that's a rounder by the name of Offitt. He is a sort of Reformer--
makes speeches to the puddlers on the rights of man."

"Seems rather fresh," said Jimmy.

"A little brine wouldn't hurt him."

Offitt strolled into the theatre, which was well filled. The curtain
was down at the moment, and he walked the full extent of the centre
aisle to the orchestra, looking about him as if in search of some one.
He saw one or two acquaintances and nodded to them. He then walked back
and took a seat near the door. The curtain rose, and the star of the
evening bounded upon the stage,--a strapping young woman in the dress
of an army officer. She was greeted with applause before she began her
song, and with her first notes Offitt quietly went out. He looked at
the clock on the City Hall, and saw that he had no more time to kill.
He walked, without hurrying or loitering, up the shady side of the
street till he came to the quarter where Farnham lived. He then crossed
into the wide avenue, and, looking swiftly about him, approached the
open gates of Farnham's place. Two or three men were coming out, one or
two were going in. He waited till the former had turned down the
street, and the latter were on the door-step. He then walked briskly up
the path to the house; but instead of mounting the steps, he turned to
the left and lay down under the library windows behind a clump of
lilacs.

"If they catch me here," he thought, "they can only take me for a tramp
and give me the grand bounce."

The windows opened upon a stone platform a few feet from the ground. He
could hear the sound of voices within. At last he heard the men rise,
push back their chairs, and say "Good-night." He heard their heavy
shoes on the front steps. "Now for it," he whispered. But at that
moment a belated tenant came in. He wanted to talk of some repairs to
his house. Offitt lay down again, resting his head on his arm. The soft
turf, the stillness, the warmth of the summer night lulled him into
drowsiness. In spite of the reason he had for keeping awake, his eyes
were closing and his senses were fading, when a shrill whistle startled
him into broad wakefulness. It was the melancholy note of a
whippoorwill in the branches of a lime-tree in the garden. Offitt
listened for the sound of voices in the library. He heard nothing. "Can
I have slept through----no, there is a light." A shadow fell across the
window. The heavy tread of Budsey approached. Farnham's voice was
heard: "Never mind the windows, Budsey. I will close them and the front
door. I will wait here awhile; somebody else may come. You can go to
bed."

"Good-night, sir."

"Good-night."

Offitt waited only a moment. He rose and looked cautiously in at the
window. Farnham was seated at his desk. He had sorted, in the
methodical way peculiar to men who have held command in the army, the
papers which he had been using with his tenants and the money he had
received from them.

They were arranged on the desk before him in neat bundles, ready to be
transferred to the safe, across the room. He had taken up his pen to
make some final indorsement.

Offitt drew off his shoes, leaped upon the platform, and entered the
library as swiftly and noiselessly as a panther walking over sand.



XVII.


IN AND OUT OF WINDOWS.


Alice Belding was seated before her glass braiding her long hair. Her
mother had come in from her own room, as her custom often was, to chat
with her daughter in the half hour before bed-time. It gratified at
once her maternal love and her pride to watch the exquisite beauty of
her child, as she sat, dressed in a white wrapper that made her seem
still taller than she was brushing and braiding the luxuriant tresses
that gave under the light every tint and reflection of which gold is
capable. The pink and pearl of the round arm as the loose sleeve would
slip to the elbow, the poise of the proud head, the full white column
of the neck, the soft curve of cheek and chin,--all this delighted her
as it would have delighted a lover. But with all her light-headedness,
there was enough of discretion, or perhaps of innate New England
reserve, to keep her from ever expressing to Alice her pleasure in her
beauty. So the wholesome-minded girl never imagined the admiration of
which she was the object, and thought that her mother only liked to
chat a little before sleeping. They talked of trivial matters, of the
tea at Mrs. Hyson's, of Formosa Hyson's purple dress which made her
sallower than ever, of rain and fair weather.

"I think," said Mrs. Bekling, "that Phrasy Dallas gets more and more
stylish every day. I don't wonder at Arthur Farnham's devotion. That
would make an excellent match--they are both so dreadfully clever. By
the way, he has not been here this week. And I declare! I don't believe
you have ever written him that note of thanks."

"No," said Alice, smiling--she had schooled herself by this time to
speak of him carelessly. "I was too much frightened to thank him on the
spot, and now it would be ancient history. We must save our thanks till
we see him."

"I want to see him about other things. You must write and ask him to
dinner to-morrow or next day."

"Don't you think he would like it better if you would write?"

"There you are again--as if it mattered. Write that 'Mamma bids me.'
There, your hair is braided. Write the note now, and I will send it
over in the morning before he gets away."

Alice rose and walked to her escritoire, her long robe trailing, her
thick braids hanging almost to the floor, her fair cheek touched with a
delicate spot of color at the thought of writing a formal note to the
man she worshipped. She took a pen and wrote "My dear Mr. Farnham," and
the conventional address made her heart flutter and her eyes grow dim.
While she was writing, she heard her mother say:

"What a joke!"

She looked up, and saw that Mrs. Belding, having pushed open the
shutters, had picked up her opera-glass and was looking through it at
something out of the window.

"Do you know, Alice," she said, laughing, "since that ailantus tree was
cut down, you can see straight into his library from here. There he is
now, sitting at his desk."

"Mamma!" pleaded Alice, rising and trying to take the glass away from
her. "Don't do that, I beg!"

"Nonsense," said her mother, keeping her away with one hand and holding
the glass with the other. "There comes Budsey to close the blinds. The
show is over. No; he goes away, leaving them open."

"Mamma, I will leave the room if----"

"My goodness! look at that!" cried the widow, putting the glass in her
daughter's hand and sinking into a chair with fright.

Alice, filled with a nameless dread, saw her mother was pale and
trembling, and took the glass. She dropped it in an instant, and
leaning from the window sent forth once more that cry of love and
alarm, which rang through the stillness of night with all the power of
her young throat:

"Arthur!"

She turned, and sped down the stairs, and across the lawn like an arrow
shot for life or death from a long-bow.

Farnham heard the sweet, strong voice ringing out of the stillness like
the cry of an angel in a vision, and raised his head with a startled
movement from the desk where he was writing. Offitt heard it, too, as
he raised his hand to strike a deadly blow; and though it did not
withhold him from his murderous purpose, it disturbed somewhat the
precision of his hand. The hammer descended a little to the right of
where he had intended to strike. It made a deep and cruel gash, and
felled Farnham to the floor, but it did not kill him. He rose, giddy
and faint with the blow and half-blinded with the blood that poured
down over his right eye. He clapped his hand, with a soldier's
instinct, to the place where his sword-hilt was not, and then
staggered, rather than rushed, at his assailant, to grapple him with
his naked hands. Offitt struck him once more, and he fell headlong on
the floor, in the blaze of a myriad lights that flashed all at once
into deep darkness and silence.

The assassin, seeing that his victim no longer moved, threw down his
reeking weapon, and, seizing the packages of money on the desk, thrust
them into his pockets. He stepped back through the open window and
stooped to pick up his shoes. As he rose, he saw a sight which for an
instant froze him with terror. A tall and beautiful form, dressed all
in white, was swiftly gliding toward him over the grass. It drew near,
and he saw its pale features set in a terrible expression of pity and
horror. It seemed to him like an avenging spirit. He shut his eyes for
a moment in abject fright, and the phantom swept by him and leaped like
a white doe upon the platform, through the open window, and out of his
sight. He ran to the gate, quaking and trembling, then walked quietly
to the nearest corner, where he sat down upon the curb-stone and put on
his shoes.

Mrs. Belding followed, as rapidly as she could, the swift flight of her
daughter; but it was some minutes after the young girl had leaped
through the window that her mother walked breathlessly through the
front door and the hall into the library. She saw there a sight which
made her shudder and turn faint. Alice was sitting on the floor,
holding in her lap the blood-dabbled head of Farnham. Beside her stood
a glass of water, a pitcher, and several towels. Some of them were red
and saturated, some were still fresh and neatly folded. She was
carefully cleansing and wiping the white forehead of the lifeless man
of the last red drop.

"Oh, Alice, what is this?" cried her mother.

"He is dead!" she answered, in a hoarse, strained voice. "I feared so
when I first came in. He was lying on his face. I lifted him up, but he
could not see me. I kissed him, hoping he might kiss me again. But he
did not. Then I saw this water on the stand over there. I remembered
there were always towels there in the billiard-room. I ran and got
them, and washed the blood away from his face. See, his face is not
hurt. I am glad of that. But there is a dreadful wound in his head."
She dropped her voice to a choking whisper at these words.

Her mother gazed at her with speechless consternation. Had the shock
deprived her of reason?

"Alice," she said, "this is no place for you. I will call the servants
and send for a surgeon, and you must go home."

"Oh, no, mamma. I see I have frightened you, but there is no need to be
frightened. Yes, call the servants, but do not let them come in here
for awhile, not till the doctors come. They can do no good. He is
dead."

Mrs. Belding had risen and rung the bell violently.

"Do, mamma, see the servants in the hall outside. Don't let them come
in for a moment. Do! I pray! I pray! I will do anything for you."

There was such intensity of passion in the girl's prayer that her
mother yielded, and when the servants came running in, half-dressed, in
answer to the bell, she stepped outside the door and said, "Captain
Farnham has been badly hurt. Two of you go for the nearest doctors. You
need not come in at present. My daughter and I will take care of him."

She went back, closing the door behind her. Alice was smiling. "There,
you are a dear! I will love you forever for that! It is only for a
moment. The doctors will soon be here, and then I must give him up."

"Oh, Alice," the poor lady whimpered, "why do you talk so wildly? What
do you mean?"

"Don't cry, mamma! It is only for a moment. It is all very simple. I am
not crazy. He was my lover!"

"Heaven help us!"

"Yes, this dear man, this noble man offered me his love, and I refused
it. I may have been crazy then, but I am not now. I can love him now. I
will be his widow--if I was not his wife. We will be two widows
together--always. Now you know I am doing nothing wrong or wild. He is
mine.

"Give me one of those towels," she exclaimed, suddenly. "I can tie up
his head so that it will stop bleeding till the doctors come."

She took the towels, tore strips from her own dress, and in a few
moments, with singular skill and tenderness, she had stopped the flow
of blood from the wound.

"There! He looks almost as if he were asleep, does he not? Oh, my love,
my love!"

Up to this moment she had not shed one tear. Her voice was strained,
choked, and sobbing, but her eyes were dry. She kissed him on his brow
and his mouth. She bent over him and laid her smooth cheek to his. She
murmured:

"Good-by, good-by, till I come to you, my own love!"

All at once she raised her head with a strange light in her eyes.
"Mamma!" she cried, "see how warm his cheek is. Heaven is merciful!
perhaps he is alive."

She put both arms about him, and, gently but powerfully lifting his
dead weight of head and shoulders, drew him to her heart. She held him
to her warm bosom, rocking him to and fro. "Oh, my beloved!" she
murmured, "if you will live, I will be so good to you."

She lowered him again, resting his head on her lap. A drop of blood,
from the napkin in which his head was wrapped, had touched the bosom of
her dress, staining it as if a cherry had been crushed there. She sat,
gazing with an anguish of hope upon his pale face. A shudder ran
through him, and he opened his eyes--only for a moment. He groaned, and
slowly closed them.

The tears could no longer be restrained. They fell like a summer shower
from her eyes, while she sobbed, "Thank God! my darling is not dead."

Her quick ear caught footsteps at the outer door. "Here, mamma, take my
place. Let me hide before all those men come in."

In a moment she had leaped through the window, whence she ran through
the dewy grass to her home.

An hour afterward her mother returned, escorted by one of the surgeons.
She found Alice in bed, peacefully sleeping. As Mrs. Belding approached
the bedside, Alice woke and smiled. "I know without your telling me,
mamma. He will live. I began to pray for him,--but I felt sure he would
live, and so I gave thanks instead."

"You are a strange girl," said Mrs. Belding, gravely. "But you are
right. Dr. Cutts says, if he escapes without fever, there is nothing
very serious in the wound itself. The blow that made that gash in his
head was not the one which made him unconscious. They found another,
behind his ear; the skin was not broken. There was a bump about as big
as a walnut. They said it was concussion of the brain, but no fracture
anywhere. By the way, Dr. Cutts complimented me very handsomely on the
way I had managed the case before his arrival. He said there was
positively a professional excellence about my bandage. You may imagine
I did not set him right."

Alice, laughing and blushing, said, "I will allow you all the credit."

Mrs. Belding kissed her, and said, "Good-night," and walked to the
door. There she paused a moment, and came back to the bed. "I think,
after all, I had better say now what I thought of keeping till
to-morrow. I thank you for your confidence to-night, and shall respect
it. But you will see, I am sure, the necessity of being very
circumspect, under the circumstances. If you should want to do
anything for Arthur while he is ill, I should feel it my duty to forbid
it."

Alice received this charge with frank, open eyes. "I should not dream
of such a thing," she said. "If he had died, I should have been his
widow; but, as he is to live, he must come for me if he wants me. I was
very silly about him, but I must take the consequences. I can't now
take advantage of the poor fellow, by saving his life and establishing
a claim on it. So I will promise anything you want. I am so happy that
I will promise easily. But I am also very sleepy."

The beautiful eyelids were indeed heavy and drooping. The night's
excitement had left her wearied and utterly content. She fell asleep
even as her mother kissed her forehead.

The feeling of Offitt as he left Algonquin Avenue and struck into a
side street was one of pure exultation. He had accomplished the boldest
act of his life. He had shown address, skill, and courage. He had done
a thing which had appalled him in the contemplation, merely on account
of its physical difficulties and dangers. He had done it successfully.
He had a large amount of money in his pocket--enough to carry his bride
to the ends of the earth. When it was gone--well, at worst, he could
leave her, and shift for himself again. He had not a particle of regret
or remorse; and, in fact, these sentiments are far rarer than moralists
would have us believe. A ruffian who commits a crime usually glories in
it. It exalts him in his own eyes, all the more that he is compelled to
keep silent about it. As Offitt walked rapidly in the direction of Dean
Street, the only shadow on his exultation was his sudden perception of
the fact that he had better not tell Maud what he had done. In all his
plans he had promised himself the pleasure of telling her that she was
avenged upon her enemy by the hands of her lover; he had thought he
might extort his first kiss by that heroic avowal; but now, as he
walked stealthily down the silent street, he saw that nobody in the
universe could be made his confidant.

"I'll never own it, in earth or hell," he said to himself.

When he reached Matchin's cottage, all was dark and still. He tried to
attract Maud's attention by throwing soft clods of earth against her
window, but her sleep was too sound. He was afraid to throw pebbles for
fear of breaking the panes and waking the family. He went into the
little yard adjoining the shop, and found a ladder. He brought it out,
and placed it against the wall. He perceived now for the first time
that his hands were sticky. He gazed at them a moment. "Oh, yes," he
said to himself, "when he fell I held out my hands to keep his head
from touching my clothes. Careless trick! Ought to have washed them,
first thing." Then, struck by a sudden idea, he went to the well-curb,
and slightly moistened his fingers. He then rubbed them on the
door-knob, and the edge of the door of the cottage, and pressed them
several times in different places on the ladder. "Not a bad scheme,"
he said, chuckling. He then went again to the well, and washed his
hands thoroughly, afterward taking a handful of earth, and rubbing
them till they were as dirty as usual.

After making all these preparations for future contingencies, he
mounted the ladder, and tried to raise the window. It was already open
a few inches to admit the air, but was fastened there, and he could not
stir it. He began to call and whistle in as low and penetrating a tone
as he could manage, and at last awoke Maud, whose bed was only a few
feet away. She started up with a low cry of alarm, but saw in a moment
who it was.

"Well, what on earth are you doing here? Go away this minute, or I'll
call my father."

"Let me in, and I will tell you."

"I'll do nothing of the sort. Begone this instant."

"Maud, don't be foolish," he pleaded, in real alarm, as he saw that she
was angry and insulted. "I have done as you told me. I have wealth for
us both, and I have"--he had almost betrayed himself, but he
concluded--"I have come to take you away forever."

"Come to-morrow, at a decent hour, and I will talk to you."

"Now, Maud, my beauty, don't believe I am humbugging. I brought a lot
of money for you to look at--I knew you wanted to be sure. See here!"
He drew from his pocket a package of bank bills--he saw a glittering
stain on them. He put them in the other pocket of his coat and took out
another package. "And here's another, I've got a dozen like them.
Handle 'em yourself." He put them in through the window. Maud was so
near that she could take the bills by putting out her hand. She saw
there was a large amount of money there--more than she had ever seen
before.

"Come, my beauty," he said, "this is only spending-money for a bridal
tour. There are millions behind it. Get up and put on your dress. I
will wait below here. We can take the midnight train east, be married
at Clairfield, and sail for Paris the next day. That's the world for
you to shine in. Come! Waste no time. No tellin' what may happen
tomorrow."

She was strongly tempted. She had no longer any doubt of his wealth. He
was not precisely a hero in appearance, but she had never insisted upon
that--her romance having been always of a practical kind. She was about
to assent--and to seal her doom--when she suddenly remembered that all
her best clothes were in her mother's closet, which was larger than
hers, and that she could not get them without passing through the room
where her parents were asleep. That ended the discussion. It was out of
the question that she should marry this magnificent stranger in her
every-day dress and cotton stockings. It was equally impossible that
she should give that reason to any man. So she said, with dignity:

"Mr. Offitt, it is not proper for me to continue this conversation any
longer. You ought to see it ain't. I shall be happy to see you
to-morrow."

Offitt descended the ladder, grinding out curses between his set teeth.
A hate, as keen as his passion, for the foolish girl fired him.
"Think," he hissed, "a man that killed, half an hour ago, the biggest
swell in Buffland, to be treated that way by a carpenter's wench."
"Wait awhile, Miss; it'll come my innings." He lifted up the ladder,
carried it carefully around the house, and leaned it against the wall
under the window of the room occupied by Sleeny.

He hurried back to his lodging in Perry Place, where he found Sam
Sleeny lying asleep on his bed. He was not very graciously greeted by
his drowsy visitor.

"Why didn't you stay out all night?" Sam growled. "Where have you been,
anyhow?"

"I've been at the variety-show, and it was the boss fraud of the
season."

"You stayed so long you must have liked it."

"I was waiting to see just how bad a show could be and not spoil."

"What did you want to see me about tonight?"

"The fact is, I expected to meet a man around at the Varieties who was
to go in with us into a big thing. But he wasn't there. I'll nail him
to-morrow, and then we can talk. It's big money, Sammy, and no
discount. What would you think of a thousand dollars a month?"

"I'd a heap rather see it than hear you chin about it. Give me my
hammer, and I'll go home."

"Why, I took it round to your shop this evening, and I tossed it in
through the window. I meant to throw it upon the table, but it went
over, I think from the sound, and dropped on the floor. You will find
it among the shavings, I reckon,"

"Well, I'm off," said Sam, by way of good-night.

"All right. Guess I'll see you to-morrow."

Offitt waited till he could hear the heavy tread of Sleeny completing
the first flight of stairs and going around to the head of the second.
He then shut and locked his door, and hung his hat over the keyhole. He
turned up his lamp and sat down by the table to count his night's
gains. The first package he took from his pocket had a shining stain
upon the outside bill. He separated the stained bill carefully from the
rest, and held it a moment in his hand as if in doubt. He walked to his
wash-stand, but at the moment of touching his pitcher he stopped short.
He took out his handkerchief, but shook his head and put it back.
Finally, he lighted a match, applied it to the corner of the bill, and
watched it take fire and consume, until his fingers were scorched by
the blaze. "Pity!" he whispered--"good money like that."

He seated himself again and began with a fierce, sustained delight to
arrange and sort the bank-bills, laying the larger denominations by
themselves, smoothing them down with a quick and tender touch, a
kindling eye and a beating heart. In his whole life, past and future,
there was not such another moment of enjoyment. Money is, of course,
precious and acceptable to all men except idiots. But, if it means much
to the good and virtuous, how infinitely more it means to the
thoroughly depraved--the instant gratification of every savage and
hungry devil of a passion which their vile natures harbor. Though the
first and principal thing Offitt thought of was the possession of Maud
Matchin, his excited fancy did not stop there. A long gallery of
vicious pictures stretched out before his flaming eyes, as he reckoned
up the harvest of his hand. The mere thought that each bill represented
a dinner, where he might eat and drink what he liked, was enough to
inebriate a starved rogue whose excesses had always been limited by his
poverty.

When he had counted and sorted his cash, he took enough for his
immediate needs and put it in his wallet. The rest he made up into
convenient packages, which he tied compactly with twine and disposed in
his various pockets. "I'll chance it," he thought, after some
deliberation. "If they get me, they can get the money, too. But they
sha'n't get it without me."

He threw himself on his bed, and slept soundly till morning.



XVIII.


OFFITT PLANS A LONG JOURNEY.


The bright sun and the morning noises of the city waked Offitt from his
sleep. As he dressed himself the weight of the packages in his pockets
gave him a pleasant sensation to begin the day with. He felt as if he
were entering upon a new state of existence--a life with plenty of
money. He composed in his mind an elaborate breakfast as he walked
down-stairs and took his way to a restaurant, which he entered with the
assured step of a man of capital. He gave his order to the waiter with
more decision than usual, and told him in closing "not to be all day
about it, either."

While waiting for his breakfast, he opened the morning "Bale Fire" to
see if there was any account of "The Algonquin Avenue Tragedy." This
was the phrase which he had arranged in his mind as the probable
head-line of the article. He had so convinced himself of the efficacy
of his own precautions, that he anticipated the same pleasure in
reading the comments upon his exploit that an author whose incognito
is assured enjoys in reading the criticisms of his anonymous work.
He was at first disappointed in seeing no allusion to the affair in
the usual local columns; but at last discovered in a corner of the
paper this double-leaded postscript:

"We stop the press to state that an appalling crime was last night
committed in Algonquin Avenue. The mansion of Arthur Farnham, Esq., was
entered by burglars between ten and eleven o'clock, and that gentleman
assaulted and probably murdered.

"Full particulars in a later edition."

"LATER. Captain Farnham is still living, and some hopes are entertained
of his recovery. The police have found the weapon with which the almost
fatal blow was struck--a carpenter's hammer marked with a letter S. It
is thought this clew will lead to the detection of the guilty parties."

Offitt was not entirely pleased with the tone of this notice. He had
expected some reference to the address and daring of the burglar. But
he smiled to himself, "Why should I care for Sam's reputation?" and ate
his breakfast with a good appetite. Before he had finished, however, he
greatly modified his plan, which was to have the threads of evidence
lead naturally, of themselves, to the conviction of Sleeny. He
determined to frighten Sam, if possible, out of the city, knowing that
his flight would be conclusive evidence of guilt. He swallowed his
coffee hurriedly and walked down to Dean Street, where by good fortune
he found Sam alone in the shop. He was kicking about a pile of shavings
on the floor. He turned as Offitt entered and said: "Oh, there you are.
I can't find that hammer anywhere."

Offitt's face assumed a grieved expression. "Come, come, Sam, don't
stand me off that way. I'm your friend, if you've got one in the world.
You mustn't lose a minute more. You've got time now to catch the 8.40.
Come, jump in a hack and be off."

His earnestness and rapidity confused Sleeny, and drove all thoughts of
the hammer from his mind. He stared at Offitt blankly, and said, "Why,
what are you givin' me now?"

"I'm a-givin' you truth and friendship, and fewest words is best. Come,
light out, and write where you stop. I'll see you through."

"See here," roared Sam, "are you crazy or am I? Speak out! What's up?"

"Oh! I've got to speak it out, raw and plain, have I? Very well! Art.
Farnham was attacked and nearly murdered last night, and if you didn't
do it who did? Now come, for the Lord's sake, get off before the police
get here. I never thought you had the sand--but I see you've got too
much. Don't lose time talking any more. I'm glad you've killed him. You
done just right--but I don't want to see you hung for it."

His excitement and feigned earnestness had brought the tears to his
eyes. Sam saw them and was convinced.

"Andy," he said solemnly. "I know you're my friend, and mean right.
I'll swear before God it wasn't me, and I know nothing about it, and I
won't run away."

"But how will we prove it," said Offitt, wringing his hands in
distress. "Where was you last night from ten to eleven?"

"You know where I was--in your room. I went there just after nine and
fell asleep waiting for you."

"Yes, of course, but who knows it? Sam, I believe you are innocent
since you say so. But see the circumstances. You _have_ talked about
goin' for him. You _have_ had a fight with him, and got put in jail for
it, and--" he was about to mention the hammer, but was afraid--"I wish
you would take my advice and go off for a week or so till the truth
comes out. I'll lend you all the money you want. I'm flush this week."

"No, Andy," said Sleeny, "nobody could be kinder than you. But I won't
run away. They can't put a man where he wasn't."

"Very well," replied Offitt, "I admire your pluck, and I'll swear a
blue streak for you when the time comes. And perhaps I had better get
away now so they won't know I've been with you."

He went without a moment's delay to the chief of police and told him
that he had a disagreeable duty to perform; that he knew the murderer
of Captain Farnham; that the criminal was an intimate friend of his, a
young man hitherto of good character named Sleeny.

"Ah-ha!" said the chief. "That was the fellow that Captain Farnham
knocked down and arrested in the riot."

"The same," said Offitt. "He has since that been furious against the
Captain. I have reasoned with him over and over about it. Yesterday he
came to see me; showed me a hammer he had just bought at Ware &
Harden's; said he was going to break Arthur Farnham's skull with it. I
didn't believe he would, he had said it so often before. While we were
talking, I took the hammer and cut his initial on it, a letter S." The
chief nodded, with a broad smile. "He then left me, and when I came
back to my room a little before midnight, I found him there. He looked
excited, and wanted me to go and get a drink with him. I declined, and
he went off. This morning when I heard about the murder I said: 'He's
the man that did the deed.'"

"You have not seen him since last night?"

"No; I suppose, of course, he has run away."

"Where did he live?"

"Dean Street, at Matchin's the carpenter."

The chief turned to his telegraphic operator and rapidly gave orders
for the arrest of Sleeny by the police of the nearest station. He also
sent for the clerks who were on duty the day before at Ware & Harden's.

"Mr. ----, I did not get your name," he said to Offitt, who gave him
his name and address. "You have acted the part of a good citizen."

"The most painful act of my life," Offitt murmured.

"Of course. But duty before everything. I will have to ask you to wait
a little while in the adjoining room till we see whether this man can
be found."

Offitt was shown into a small room, barely furnished, with two doors;
the one through which he had just come, and one opening apparently into
the main corridor of the building. Offitt, as soon as he was alone,
walked stealthily to the latter door and tried to open it. It was
locked, and there was no key. He glanced at the window; there was an
iron grating inside the sash, which was padlocked. A cold sweat bathed
him from head to foot. He sank into a chair, trembling like a leaf. He
felt for his handkerchief to wipe his wet forehead. His hand touched
one of the packages of money. He bounded from his chair in sudden joy.
"They did not search me, so they don't suspect. It is only to make sure
of my evidence that they keep me here." Nevertheless, the time went
heavily. At last an officer came in and said he was to come to the
police justice's for the preliminary examination of Sleeny.

"They have caught him, then?" he asked, with assumed eagerness and
surprise. "He had not got away?"

"No," the man answered curtly.

They came to the court-room in a few steps. Sam was there between two
policemen. As Offitt entered, he smiled and slightly nodded. One or two
men who had been summoned as witnesses were standing near the justice.
The proceedings were summary.

One of the policemen said that he had gone to Matchin's shop to arrest
the prisoner; that the prisoner exhibited no surprise; his first words
were, "Is Mr. Farnham dead yet?"

Offitt was then called upon, and he repeated, clearly and concisely,
the story he had told the chief of police. When he had concluded he was
shown the hammer which had been picked up on the floor at Farnham's,
and was asked, "Is that the hammer you refer to?"

"Yes, that is it."

These words were the signal for a terrible scene.

When Sleeny saw Offitt step forward and begin to give his evidence, he
leaned forward with a smile of pleased expectation upon his face. He
had such confidence in his friend's voluble cleverness that he had no
doubt Offitt would "talk him free" in a few minutes. He was confused a
little by his opening words, not clearly seeing his drift; but as the
story went on, and Offitt's atrocious falsehood became clear to his
mind, he was dumb with stupefaction, and felt a strange curiosity
wakening in him to see how the story would end. He did not, for the
moment, see what object Offitt could have in lying so, until the
thought occurred to him: "May be there's a reward out!" But when the
blood-stained hammer was shown and identified by Offitt, all doubt was
cleared away in a flash from the dull brain of Sleeny. He saw the whole
horrible plot of which he was the victim.

He rose from his seat before the officer could stop him, and roared
like a lion in the toils, in a voice filled equally with agony and
rage:

"You murdering liar! I'll tear your heart out of you!"

There was a wide table and several chairs between them, but Sleeny was
over them in an instant. Offitt tried to escape, but was so hemmed in,
that the infuriated man had him in his hands before the officers could
interpose. If they had delayed a moment longer all would have been
over, for already Sleeny's hands were at the throat of his betrayer.
But two powerful policemen with their clubs soon separated the
combatants, and Sleeny was dragged back and securely handcuffed.

Offitt, ghastly pale and trembling, had sunk upon a bench. The justice,
looking at him narrowly, said: "The man is going to faint; loosen his
collar."

"No," said Offitt, springing to his feet. "I am perfectly well."

In his struggle with Sleeny a button of his coat had been torn away. He
asked a by-stander for a pin, and carefully adjusted the garment. The
thought in his mind was, "I don't mind being killed; but I thought he
might tear off my coat, and show them my money." From this moment he
kept his hand in such position that he might feel the packages in his
pockets.

Sleeny was still panting and screaming execrations at Offitt. The
justice turned to him with sternness, and said, "Silence there! Have
you not sense enough to see how your ferocious attack on the witness
damages you? If you can't restrain your devilish temper while your
friend is giving his evidence, it will be all the worse for you."

"Judge," cried Sam, now fairly beside himself, "that's the murderer! I
know it. I can prove it. He ain't fit to live. I'll break his neck
yet!"

Offitt raised his hands and eyes in deprecating sorrow.

"This is the wild talk of a desperate man," said the justice. "But you
may as well tell us how you passed last evening."

"Certainly," said Offitt, consulting his memory. "Let me see. I took
supper about seven at Duffer's; I went to Glauber's drug-store next and
got a glass of soda water; if they don't know me, they'll remember my
breaking a glass; then I made a visit at Mr. Matchin's on Dean Street;
then I went to the Orleans theatre; I come out between the acts and got
a cup of coffee at Mouchem's--then I went back and stayed till the show
was over, that was about half-past eleven. Then I went home and found
Mr. Sleeny there."

"You had better go with Mr. Fangwell, and let him verify this
statement," said the justice.

He then called the policeman who arrived first at Farnham's house the
night before. He told his story and identified the hammer which had
been shown to Offitt. A young man from Ware & Harden's swore that he
had sold the hammer the day before to Sleeny, whom he knew. The justice
held this evidence sufficient to justify Sleeny's detention.

"I should think so," said some of the by-standers. "If it don't hang
him, there's a loud call for Judge Lynch."

"Silence!" said the justice. "The prisoner will be taken for the
present to the city jail."

Sam was led out, and Offitt accompanied the chief of police back to the
room he had just quitted. He remained there several hours which seemed
to him interminable. At last, however, the detective who had been sent
to inquire as to the truth of the account he had given of himself,
returned with a full confirmation of it, and Offitt was suffered to go,
on his own engagement to give further evidence when called upon.

He left the City Hall with a great load off his mind. It was not
without an effort that he had sworn away the character, the freedom,
and perhaps the life of his comrade. If he could have accomplished his
purpose without crushing Sleeny he would have preferred it. But the
attack which his goaded victim had made upon him in the court-room was
now a source of lively satisfaction to him. It created a strong
prejudice against the prisoner; it caused the justice at once to
believe him guilty, and gave Offitt himself an injured feeling that was
extremely comforting in view of what was to happen to Sleeny.

He went along the street tapping his various pockets furtively as he
walked. He was hungry. His diverse emotions had given him an appetite.
He went into an eating-house and commanded a liberal supper. He had an
odd fancy as he gave his order. "That's the sort of supper I would
have, if it was my last--if I was to be hanged tomorrow." He thought of
Sleeny and hoped they would treat him well in jail. He felt
magnanimously toward him. "Who would have thought," he mused, "that Sam
had such a devil of a temper? I most hope that Farnham won't die--it
would be rough on Sam. Though perhaps that would be best all round," he
added, thinking of Sam's purple face in the court-room and the eager
grip of his fingers.

He came out of the eating-house into the gathering twilight. The lamps
were springing into light in long straight lines down the dusky
streets. The evening breeze blew in from the great lake tempering the
stale heat of the day. Boys were crying the late editions of the
newspapers with "Full account arrest o' the Farnham burglar!" He bought
one, but did not stop to open it. He folded it into the smallest
possible compass, and stuffed it into his pocket, "along with the other
documents in the case," as he chuckled to himself; "I'll read all about
it in the train to-morrow--business before pleasure," he continued,
pleased with his wit.

Every moment he would put his hand into his side pocket and feel the
package containing the largest bills. He knew it was imprudent--that it
might attract the attention of thieves or detectives; but to save his
life he could not have kept from doing it. At last he scratched his
hand on the pin which was doing duty for the button he had lost in his
scuffle with Sleeny. "Ah!" he said to himself, with humorous banter,
"it won't do to be married in a coat with the buttons off."

He went into a little basement shop where a sign announced that
"Scouring and Repairing" were done. A small and bald Hamburger stepped
forward, rubbing his hands. Offitt told him what he wanted, and the man
got a needle and thread and selected from a large bowl of buttons on a
shelf one that would suit. While he was sewing it on, he said:

"Derrible news apout Gabben Farnham."

"Yes," said Offitt. "Is he dead?"

"I don't know off he ish tet. Dey say he ish oud mid his het, und tat
looksh mighty pad. But one ting ish goot; dey cotch de murterer."

"They have?" asked Offitt, with languid interest. "What sort of fellow
is he?"

"Mutter Gottes!" said the little German. "De vorst kind. He would
radder gill a man as drink a glass bier. He gome mighty near gillin'
his pest vrient to-day in de gourt-house droben, ven he vas dellin' vat
he knowed apout it alleweil."

"A regular fire-eater," said Offitt. "So you've finished, have you? How
much for the job!"

The German was looking at a stain on the breast of the coat.

"Vot's dish?" he said. "Looksh like baint. Yust lemme take your coat
off a minute and I gleans dot up like a nudel soup."

"Say, mind your own business, won't you?" growled Offitt. "Here's your
money, and when I want any of your guff I'll let you know."

He hurried out, leaving the poor German amazed at the ill result of his
effort to turn an honest penny and do a fellow-creature a service.

"Vunny beebles!" he said to himself. "But I got a kevarter off a tollar
for a den-cent chob."

Offitt came out of the shop and walked at a rapid pace to Dean Street.
He was determined to make an end at once of Maud's scruples and
coquetry. He said to himself: "If we are both alive to-morrow, we shall
be married." He believed if he could have her to himself for half an
hour, he could persuade her to come with him. He was busy all the way
plotting to get her parents out of the house. It would be easy enough
to get them out of the room; but he wanted them out of hearing, out of
reach of a cry for help even.

He found them all together in the sitting-room. The arrest of Sleeny
had fallen heavily upon them. They had no doubt of his guilt, from the
reports they had heard, and their surprise and horror at his crime were
not lessened but rather increased by their familiar affection for him.

"To think," said Saul to his wife, "that that boy has worked at the
same bench, and slept in the same house with me for so many years, and
I never knowed the Satan that was in him!"

"It's in all of us, Saul," said Mrs. Matchin, trying to improve the
occasion for the edification of her unbelieving husband.

Maud had felt mingled with her sorrow a suspicion of remorse. She could
not help remembering that Sam considered Farnham his rival, with how
little reason she knew better than any one. She could understand how
her beauty might have driven him to violence; but when the story of the
robbery transpired also--as it did in the course of the morning,--she
was greatly perplexed. When she joined in the lamentations of her
parents and said she never could have believed that of Sam Sleeny, she
was thinking of the theft, and not of the furious assault. When they
had all, however, exhausted their limited store of reflections, a thing
took place which increased the horror and the certainty of Mr. and Mrs.
Matchin, and left Maud a prey to a keener doubt and anxiety than ever.
Late in the afternoon a sharp-faced man, with a bright eye and a red
mustache, came to the house and demanded in the name of the law to be
shown Sam's bedroom. He made several notes and picked up some trifling
articles, for which he gave Mr. Matchin receipts. Corning out of the
room, he looked carefully at the door-knob. "Seems all right," he said.
Then turning to Matchin, he said, with professional severity, "What
door did he generally come in by?"

"Sometimes one and sometimes another," said Saul, determined not to
give any more information than he must.

"Well, I'll look at both," the detective said.

The first one stood his scrutiny without effect, but at the second his
eye sparkled and his cheek flushed with pleasure, when he saw the
faint, red-dish-brown streaks which Offitt had left there the night
before. He could not express his exultation; turning to Saul, "There's
where he came in last night, any way."

"He didn't do no such a thing," replied Saul. "That door I locked
myself last night before he came in."

"Oh, you did? So you're sure he came in at the other door, are you. We
will see if he could get in any other way."

Walking around the corner, he saw the ladder where Offitt had left it.

"Hello! that's his window, ain't it?"

Without waiting for an answer the detective ran up the ladder, studying
every inch of its surface as he ran. He came down positively radiant,
and slapped Saul heartily on the shoulder.

"All right, old man. I'll trouble you to keep that ladder and that door
just as they are. They are important papers. Why don't you see?" he
continued--"bless your innocent old heart, he comes home with his hands
just reg'larly dripping with murder. He fumbles at that door, finds it
locked, and so gets that ladder, histes it up to the window, and hops
into bed as easy as any Christian schoolboy in town, and he thinks he's
all right--but he never thinks of Tony Smart, your humble servant."

This view of the case was perfectly convincing to Saul and also to his
wife when he repeated it at the supper-table; but it struck Maud with a
sudden chill. She remembered that when she had dismissed Offitt from
that midnight conference at her casement, he had carefully taken the
ladder away from her window, and had set it against the house some
distance off. She had admired at the time his considerate chivalry, and
thought how nice it was to have a lover so obedient and so careful of
her reputation. But now, the detective's ghastly discovery turned her
thought in a direction which appalled her. Could it be possible--and
all that money--where did it come from? As she sat with her parents in
the gathering darkness, she kept her dreadful anxiety to herself. She
had been hoping all day to see her lover--now she feared to have him
come, lest her new suspicions might be confirmed. She quickly resolved
upon one thing: she would not go away with him that night--not until
this horrible mystery was cleared up. If she was worth having she was
worth waiting for a little while.

They all three started as the door opened and Offitt came in. He wasted
no time in salutations, but said at once, "It's a funny thing, but I
have got a message for each of you. The district attorney saw me coming
up this way, Mr. Matchin, and asked me to tell you to come down as
quick as you can to his office--something very important, he said. And,
stranger than that, I met Mr. Wixham right out here by the corner, and
he asked me if I was comin' here, and if I would ask you, Mrs. Matchin,
to come right up to their house. Jurildy is sick and wants to see you,
and he has run off for the doctor."

Both the old people bustled up at this authoritative summons, and
Offitt as they went out said, "I'll stay a while and keep Miss Maud
from gettin' lonesome."

"I wish you would," said Mrs. Matchin. "The house seems creepy-like
with Sam where he is."

Maud felt her heart sink at the prospect of being left alone with the
man she had been longing all day to see. She said, "Mother, I think I
ought to go with you!"

"No, indeed," her mother replied. "You ain't wanted, and it wouldn't
be polite to Mr. Offitt."

The moment they were gone, Offitt sprang to the side of Maud, and
seized her hands.

"Now, my beauty, you will be mine. Put on your hat and we will go."

She struggled to free her hands.

"Let go," she said, "you hurt me. Why are you in such a terrible
hurry?"

"Why can you ask? Your parents will be back in a few minutes. Of
course you know that story was only to get them out of our way. Come,
my beautiful Maud! my joy, my queen! To-morrow New York! next day the
sea, and then Europe and love and pleasure all your life."

"I want to talk with you a minute," said Maud, in a voice which
trembled in spite of her efforts. "I can't talk in the dark. Wait here,
till I get a lamp."

She slipped from the room before he could prevent her and left him
pacing the floor in a cold rage. It was only a moment, however, until
she returned, bringing a lamp, which she placed on a table, and then
asked him to be seated, in a stiff, formal way, which at once irritated
and enchanted him. He sat down and devoured her with his eyes. He was
angry when she went for the lamp; but, as its light fell on her rich,
dark hair, her high color, and her long, graceful figure, as she leaned
back in her chair, he felt that the tenderest conversation with her in
the darkness would lose something of the pleasure that the eyes took in
her. This he said to her, in his coarse but effective way.

She answered him with coquettish grace, willing to postpone the serious
talk she dreaded so. But the conversation was in stronger hands than
hers, and she found herself forced, in a few minutes, to either go with
him, or give a reason why.

"The fact is, then," she stammered, with a great effort, "I don't know
you well enough yet. Why cannot you wait a while?"

He laughed.

"Come with me, and you will know me better in a day than you would here
in a year. Do not waste these precious moments. Our happiness depends
upon it. We have everything we can desire. I cannot be myself here. I
cannot disclose my rank and my wealth to these people who have only
known me as an apostle of labor. I want to go where you will be a great
lady. Oh, come!" he cried, with an outburst of pent-up fire, throwing
himself on the floor at her feet, and laying his head upon her knee.
She was so moved by this sudden outbreak, which was wholly new to her
experience, that she almost forgot her doubts and fears. But a remnant
of practical sense asserted itself. She rose from her chair, commanded
him once more to be seated, and said:

"I am afraid I am going to offend you, but I must ask you something."

"Ask me anything," he said, with a smile, "except to leave you."

She thought the phrase so pretty that she could hardly find courage to
put her question. She blushed and stammered, and then, rushing at it
with desperation, she said:

"That money--where did you get it?"

"I will tell you when we are married. It is a secret."

He tried still to smile, but she saw the laughter dying away from his
face.

Her blood turned cold in her veins, but her heart grew stronger, and
she determined to know the worst. She was not a refined or clever
woman; but the depth of her trouble sharpened her wits, and she
instinctively made use of her woman's wiles to extort the truth from
the man who she knew was under the spell of her beauty, whatever else
he was.

"Come here!" she said. Her face was pale, but her lips were smiling.
"Get down there where you were!" she continued, with tender
imperiousness. He obeyed her, hardly daring to trust his senses. "Now
put your hands between my hands," she said, still with that pale,
singular smile, which filled him with unquiet transports, "and tell me
the truth, you bad boy!"

"The truth," with a beating of the heart which made his utterance
thick, "the truth is, that you are the most glorious woman in the
world, and that you will be mine to-morrow."

"Perhaps," she almost whispered. "But you must tell me something else.
I am afraid you are a naughty boy, and that you love me too much. I
once told you I had an enemy, and that I wanted somebody to punish him.
Did you go and punish him for me--tell me that?"

Her voice was soft and low and beguiling. She still smiled on him,
leaving one hand in his, while she raised the forefinger of the other
in coquettish admonition. The ruffian at her feet was inebriated with
her beauty and her seductive playfulness. He thought she had divined
his act--that she considered it a fine and heroic test of love to which
she had subjected him. He did not hesitate an instant, but said:

"Yes, my beauty, and I am ready to do the same for anybody who gives
you a cross look."

Now that she had gained the terrible truth, a sickening physical fear
of the man came over her, and she felt herself growing faint. His voice
sounded weak and distant as he said:

"Now you will go with me, won't you?"

She could make no answer. So he continued:

"Run and get your hat. Nothing else. We can buy all you want. And
hurry. They may come back any moment."

She perceived a chance of escape and roused herself. She thought if she
could only get out of the room she might save herself by flight or by
outcry.

"Wait here," she whispered, "and be very quiet."

He kissed his fingers to her without a word. She opened the door into
the next room, which was the kitchen and dining-room of the family, and
there, not three feet from her, in the dim light, haggard and wan,
bareheaded, his clothes in rags about him, she saw Sam Sleeny.



XIX.


A LEAP FOR SOMEBODY'S LIFE.


When Sleeny was led from the room of the police justice in the
afternoon, he was plunged in a sort of stupor. He could not recover
from the surprise and sense of outrage with which he had listened to
Offitt's story. What was to happen to him he accepted with a despair
which did not trouble itself about the ethics of the transaction. It
was a disaster, as a stroke of lightning might be. It seemed to him the
work had been thoroughly and effectually done. He could see no way out
of it; in fact, his respect for Offitt's intelligence was so great that
he took it for granted Andy had committed no mistakes, but that he had
made sure of his ruin. He must go to prison; if Farnham died, he must
be hanged. He did not weary his mind in planning for his defence when
his trial should come on. He took it for granted he should be
convicted. But if he could get out of prison, even if it were only for
a few hours, and see Andy Offitt once more--he felt the blood tingling
through all his veins at the thought. This roused him from his lethargy
and made him observant and alert. He began to complain of his
handcuffs; they were in truth galling his wrists. It was not difficult
for him to twist his hands so as to start the blood in one or two
places. He showed these quietly to the policemen, who sat with him in a
small anteroom leading to the portion of the city jail, where he was to
be confined for the night. He seemed so peaceable and quiet that they
took off the irons, saying good-naturedly, "I guess we can handle you."
They were detained in this room for some time waiting for the warden of
the jail to come and receive their prisoner. There were two windows,
both giving view of a narrow street, where it was not bright at
noonday, and began to grow dark at sunset with the shade of the high
houses and the thick smoke of the quarter. The windows were open, as
the room was in the third story, and was therefore considered
absolutely safe. Sleeny got up several times and walked first to one
window and then to another, casting quick but searching glances at the
street and the walls. He saw that some five feet from one of the
windows a tin pipe ran along the wall to the ground. The chances were
ten to one that any one risking the leap would be dashed to pieces on
the pavement below. But Sleeny could not get that pipe out of his head.
"I might as well take my chance" he said to himself. "It would be no
worse to die that way than to be hanged." He grew afraid to trust
himself in sight of the window and the pipe: it exercised so strong a
fascination upon him. He sat down with his back to the light and leaned
his head on his hands. But he could think of nothing but his leap for
liberty. He felt in fancy his hands and knees clasping that slender
ladder of safety; he began to think what he would do when he struck the
sidewalk, if no bones were broken. First, he would bide from pursuit,
if possible. Then he would go to Dean Street and get a last look at
Maud, if he could; then his business would be to find Offitt. "If I
find him," he thought, "I'll give them something to try me for." But
finally he dismissed the matter from his mind,--for this reason. He
remembered seeing a friend, the year before, fall from a scaffolding
and break his leg. The broken bone pierced through the leg of his
trousers. This thought daunted him more than death on the gallows.

The door opened, and three or four policemen came in, each leading a
man by the collar, the ordinary riffraff of the street, charged with
petty offences. One was very drunk and abusive. He attracted the
attention of everybody in the room by his antics. He insisted on
dancing a breakdown which he called the "Essence of Jeems' River"; and
in the scuffle which followed, first one and then the other policeman
in charge of Sleeny became involved. Sleeny was standing with his back
to the window, quite alone. The temptation was too much for him. He
leaped upon the sill, gave one mighty spring, caught the pipe, and slid
safely to the ground. One or two passers-by saw him drop lightly to the
sidewalk, but thought nothing of it. It was not the part of the jail in
which prisoners were confined, and he might have been taken for a
carpenter or plumber who chose that unusual way of coming from the
roof. His hat blew off in his descent, but he did not waste time in
looking for it. He walked slowly till he got to the corner, and then
plunged through the dark and ill-smelling streets of the poor and
crowded quarter, till he came by the open gate of a coal-yard. Seeing
he was not pursued he went in, concealed himself behind a pile of
boards and lay there until it was quite dark.

He then came out and walked through roundabout ways, avoiding the
gas-lights and the broad thoroughfares, to Dean Street. He climbed the
fence and crept through the garden to the back door of the house. He
had eaten nothing since early morning, and was beginning to be hungry.
He saw there were no lights in the rear of the house, and thought if he
could enter the kitchen he might get a loaf of bread without alarming
the household. He tried the back door and found it fastened. But
knowing the ways of the house, he raised the cellar door, went down the
steps, shut the door down upon himself, groped his way to the inner
stairs, and so gained the kitchen. He was walking to the cupboard when
the door opened and he saw Maud coming toward him.

She did not seem in the least startled to see him there. In the
extremity of her terror, it may have seemed to her that he had been
sent especially to her help. She walked up to him, laid her hands on
his shoulders and whispered, "Oh, Sam, I am so glad to see you. Save
me! Don't let him touch me! He is in there."

Sam hardly knew if this were real or not. A wild fancy assailed him for
an instant--was he killed in jumping from the window? Surely this could
never happen to him on the earth; the girl who had always been so cold
and proud to him was in his arms, her head on his shoulder, her warm
breath on his cheek. She was asking his help against some danger.

"All right, Mattie," he whispered. "Nobody shall hurt you. Who is it?"
He thought of no one but the police.

"Offitt," she said.

He brushed her aside as if she had been a cobweb in his path, and with
a wild cry of joy and vengeance he burst through the half-open door.
Offitt turned at the noise, and saw Sam coming, and knew that the end
of his life was there. His heart was like water within him. He made a
feeble effort at defence; but the carpenter, without a word, threw him
on the floor, planted one knee on his chest, and with his bare hands
made good the threat he uttered in his agony in the court-room,
twisting and breaking his neck.

Sleeny rose, pulled the cover from the centre-table in the room, and
threw it over the distorted face of the dead man.

Maud, driven out of her wits by the dreadful scene, had sunk in a
rocking-chair, where, with her face in her hands, she was sobbing and
moaning. Sam tried to get her to listen to him.

"Good-by, Mattie, I shall never see you again, I suppose. I must run
for my life. I want you to know I was innocent of what they charged me
with----"

"Oh, I know that, Sam," she sobbed.

"God bless you, Mattie, for saying so. I don't care so much for what
happens, now. I am right glad I got here to save you from that----" he
paused, searching for a word which would be descriptive and yet not
improper in the presence of a lady, but his vocabulary was not rich and
he said at last, "that snide. But I should have done that to him
anyhow; so don't cry on that account. Mattie, will you tell me
good-by?" he asked with bashful timidity.

She rose and gave him her hand; but her eyes happening to wander to the
shapeless form lying in the corner, she hid her face again on his
shoulder and said with a fresh burst of tears. "Oh, Sam, stay with me a
little while. Don't leave me alone."

His mind travelled rapidly through the incidents that would result from
his staying--prison, trial, and a darker contingency still, rearing its
horrible phantom in the distance. But she said, "You will stay till
father comes, won't you?" and he answered simply:

"Yes, Mattie, if you want me to."

He led her to a seat and sat down beside her, to wait for his doom.

In a few minutes, they heard a loud altercation outside the door. The
voice of Saul Matchin was vehemently protesting, "I tell ye he ain't
here," and another voice responded,

"He was seen to climb the fence and to enter the house. We've got it
surrounded, and there's no use for you to get yourself into trouble
aidin' and abettin'."

Sam walked to the door and said to the policeman, with grim humor,
"Come in! you'll find two murderers here, and neither one will show any
fight."

The policemen blew their whistles to assemble the rest, and then came
in warily, and two of them seized him at once.

"It's all very well to be meek and lowly, my friend," said one of them,
"but you'll not play that on us twice--least ways," he added with
sarcastic intention, "not twice the same day. See here, Tony Smart,"
addressing a third, who now entered, "lend a hand with these
bracelets," and in a moment Sam was handcuffed and pinioned.

"Where's the other one you was talking about?" asked the policeman.

Sam pointed with his foot in the direction where Offitt lay. The
policeman lifted the cloth, and dropped it again with a horror which
his professional phlegm could not wholly disguise.

"Well, of all the owdacious villains ever I struck ---- Who do you
think it is?" he asked, turning to his associates.

"Who?"

"The witness this afternoon,--Offitt. Well, my man," he said, turning
to Sam, "you wanted to make a sure thing of it, I see. If you couldn't
be hung for one, you would for the other."

"Sam!" said Saul Matchin who, pale and trembling, had been a silent
spectator of the scene so far, "for heaven's sake, tell us what all
this means."

"Mind now," said the officer, "whatever you say will be reported."

"Very well, I've got nothing to hide," said Sam. "I'll tell you and
Mother Matchin" (who had just come in and was staring about her with
consternation, questioning Maud in dumb show) "the whole story. I owe
that to you for you've always used me well. It's a mighty short one.
That fellow Offitt robbed and tried to murder Captain Farnham last
night, and then swore it onto me. I got away from the officers
to-night, and come round here and found him 'saulting Mattie, and I
twisted his neck for him. If it's a hanging matter to kill snakes, I'll
have to stand it--that's all."

"Now, who do you think is going to believe that?" said the captain of
the squad.

Maud rose and walked up to where Sam was standing and said, "I know
every word he has said is true. That man was the burglar at Captain
Farnham's. He told me so himself to-night. He said he had the money in
his pocket and wanted to make me go with him."

She spoke firmly and resolutely, but she could not bring herself to say
anything of previous passages between them; and when she opened her
lips to speak of the ladder, the woman was too strong within her, and
she closed them again. "I'll never tell that unless they go to hang
Sam, and then I won't tell anybody but the Governor," she swore to
herself.

"It's easy to see about that story," said the officer still
incredulous.

They searched the clothing of Offitt, and the face of the officer, as
one package of money after another was brought to light, was a singular
study. The pleasure he felt in the recovery of the stolen goods was
hardly equal to his professional chagrin at having caught the wrong
man. He stood for a moment silent, after tying up all the packages in
one.

"It's no use dodging," he said at last. "We have been barking up the
wrong tree."

"I don't know about that," said the one called Tony Smart. "Who has
identified this money? Who can answer for this young lady? How about
them marks on the door and the ladder? Anyhow there's enough to hold
our prisoner on."

"Of course there is," said the captain. "He hadn't authority to go
twisting people's necks in this county."

At this moment the wagon which had been sent for arrived. The body of
Offitt was lifted in. The captain gathered up the money, notified
Matchin that he and his family would be wanted as witnesses in the
morning, and they all moved toward the door. Sam turned to say
"Farewell." Pinioned as he was, he could not shake hands, and his voice
faltered as he took leave of them. Maud's heart was not the most
feeling one in the world, but her emotions had been deeply stirred by
the swift succession of events; and as she saw this young fellow going
so bravely to meet an unknown fate, purely for her sake, the tears came
to her eyes. She put out her hand to him; but she saw that his hands
were fastened and, seized with sudden pity, she put her arms about his
neck and kissed him, whispering, "Keep up a good heart, Sam!" and he
went away, in all his danger and ignominy happier than he had been for
many a day.

The probabilities of the case were much discussed that night at police
head-quarters, in conferences from which the reporters were rigorously
excluded, and the next morning the city newspapers revelled in the
sensation. They vied with each other in inventing attractive head-lines
and startling theories. The _Bale-Fire_ began its leader with the
impressive sentence: "Has a carnival of crime set in amongst us? Last
night the drama of Algonquin Avenue was supplemented by the tragedy of
Dean Street, and the public, aghast, demands 'What next?' A second
murder was accomplished by hands yet dripping with a previous crime.
The patriotic witness who, yesterday, with a bleeding heart, denounced
the criminality of his friend, paid last night with his life for his
fidelity." In another column called for a "monument, by popular
subscription for Andrew Jackson Offitt, who died because would not tell
a lie." On the other hand, _The Morning Astral_, representing the
conservative opinion of the city, called for a suspension of judgment
on the part of its candid readers; said that there were shady
circumstances about the antecedents of Offitt, and intimated that
documents of a compromising character had been found on his person;
congratulated the city on the improved condition of Captain Farnham;
and, trusting in the sagacity and diligence of the authorities,
confidently awaited from them a solution of the mystery. Each of them,
nevertheless, gave free space and license to their reporters, and
Offitt was a saint, a miscreant, a disguised prince, and an escaped
convict, according to the state of the reporter's imagination or his
digestion; while the stories told of Sleeny varied from cannibalism to
feats of herculean goodness. They all agreed reasonably well, however,
as to the personal appearance of the two men, and from this fact it
came about that, in the course of the morning, evidence was brought
forward, from a totally unexpected quarter, which settled the question
as to the burglary at Farnham's.

Mrs. Belding had been so busy the day before, in her constant
attendance upon Farnham, that she had paid no attention to the story of
the arrest. She had heard that the man had been caught and his crime
clearly established, and that he had been sent to jail for trial. Her
first thought was, "I am glad I was not called upon to give evidence.
It would have been very disagreeable to get up before a court-room full
of men and say I looked with an opera-glass out of my daughter's window
into a young man's house. I should have to mention Alice's name, too,--
and a young girl's name cannot be mentioned too seldom in the
newspapers. In fact, twice in a life-time is often enough, and one of
them should be a funeral notice."

But this morning, after calling at Farnham's and finding that he was
getting on comfortably, she sat down to read the newspapers. Alice was
sitting near her, with hands and lap full of some feminine handiwork. A
happy smile played about her lips, for her mother had just repeated to
her the surgeon's prediction that Captain Farnham would be well in a
week or two. "He said the scalp wound was healing 'by the first
intention,' which I thought was a funny phrase. I thought the maxim was
that second thoughts were best." Alice had never mentioned Farnham's
name since the first night, but he was rarely out of her mind, and the
thought that his life was saved made every hour bright and festal. "He
will be well," she thought. "He will have to come here to thank mamma
for her care of him. I shall see him again and he shall not complain of
me. If he should never speak to me again, I shall love him and be good
to him always." She was yet too young and too innocent to know how
impossible was the scheme of life she was proposing to herself, but she
was thoroughly happy in it.

Mrs. Belding, as she read, grew perplexed and troubled. She threw down
one newspaper and took up another, but evidently got no more comfort
out of that. At last she sighed and said, "Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall
have to go down there after all. They have got the wrong man!"

Alice looked up with wondering eyes.

"These accounts all agree that the assassin is a tall, powerful young
man, with yellow hair and beard. The real man was not more than medium
height, very dark. Why, he was black and shiny as a cricket. I must go
and tell them. I wonder who the lawyer is that does the indicting of
people?"

"It must be the prosecuting attorney, Mr. Dalton," said Alice. "I heard
he was elected this spring. You know him very well. You meet him
everywhere."

"That elegant young fellow who leads germans? Well, if that is not too
absurd! I never should have thought of him, outside of a dress-coat. I
don't mind a bit going to see _him_. Order the carriage, while I get my
things on."

She drove down to the City Hall, and greatly astonished Mr. Dalton by
walking into his office and requesting a moment's private conversation
with him. Dalton was a dapper young man, exceedingly glib and well
dressed, making his way in political and official, as he had already
made it in social life. He greeted Mrs. Belding with effusion, and was
anxious to know how he might serve her, having first cleared the room
of the half-dozen politicians who did their lounging there.

"It is a most delicate matter for a lady to appear in, and I must ask
you to keep my name as much in reserve as possible."

"Of course, you may count upon me," he answered, wondering where this
strange exordium would lead to.

"You have got the wrong man. I am sure of it. It was not the blonde
one. He was black as a cricket. I saw him as plainly as I see you. You
know we live next door to Captain Farnham----"

"Ah!" Dalton cried. "Certainly. I understand. This is most important.
Pray go on."

With a few interruptions from him, full of tact and intelligence, she
told the whole story, or as much of it as was required. She did not
have to mention Alice's name, or the opera-glass; though the clever
young man said to himself, "She is either growing very far-sighted, or
she was scouring the heavens with a field-glass that night--perhaps
looking for comets."

He rang his bell and gave a message to an usher who appeared. "I will
not ask you to wait long," he said, and turned the conversation upon
the weather and social prospects for the season. In a few minutes the
door opened, and Sleeny was brought into the room by an officer.

"Was this the man you saw, Mrs. Belding?" asked Dalton.

"Not the slightest resemblance. This one is much taller, and entirely
different in color."

"That will do"; and Sleeny and the officer went out.

"Now may I ask you to do a very disagreeable thing? To go with me to
the Morgue and see the remains of what I am now sure is the real
criminal?" Dalton asked.

"Oh, mercy! I would rather not. Is it necessary?"

"Not positively necessary, but it will enable me to dismiss the
burglary case absolutely against young Sleeny."

"Very well. I'll go. I am so glad," she said to herself, "that I did
not bring Alice."

They went in her carriage to the Morgue. Dalton said, "I want to make
it as easy as I can for you. Please wait a moment in your carriage." He
went in and arranged that the face of Offitt, which was horrible,
should be turned away as much as possible; the head, and shoulders and
back being left exposed, and the hat placed on the head. He then
brought Mrs. Belding in.

"That is the man," she said, promptly, "or at least some one exactly
like him."

"Thank you," he said, reconducting her to her carriage. "The first
charge against Sleeny will be dismissed, though of course he must be
held for this homicide."


A few weeks later Sleeny was tried for the killing of Offitt, on which
occasion most of the facts of this history were given in evidence. Mrs.
Belding had at last to tell what she knew in open court, and she had an
evil quarter of an hour in the hands of Mr. Dalton, who seemed always
on the point of asking some question which would bring her opera-glass
into the newspapers; but he never proceeded to that extremity, and she
came away with a better opinion of the profession than she had ever
before entertained. "I suppose leading germans humanizes even a lawyer
somewhat," she observed, philosophically.

Maud Matchin was, however, the most important witness for the defence.
She went upon the stand troubled with no abstract principles in regard
to the administration of justice. She wanted Sam Sleeny to be set free,
and she testified with an eye single to that purpose. She was perhaps a
trifle too zealous--even the attorney for the defence bit his lip
occasionally at her dashing introduction of wholly irrelevant matter in
Sleeny's favor. But she was throughout true to herself also, and never
gave the least intimation that Offitt had any right to consider himself
a favored suitor. Perhaps she had attained the talent, so common in
more sophisticated circles than any with which she was familiar, of
forgetting all entanglements which it is not convenient to remember,
and of facing a discarded lover with a visage of insolent unconcern and
a heart unstirred by a memory.

The result of it all was, of course, that Sleeny was acquitted, though
it came about in a way which may be worth recording. The jury found a
verdict of "justifiable homicide," upon which the judge very properly
sent them back to their room, as the verdict was flatly against the law
and the evidence. They retired again, with stolid and unabashed
patience, and soon reappeared with a verdict of acquittal, on the
ground of "emotional insanity." But this remarkable jury determined to
do nothing by halves, and fearing that the reputation of being queer
might injure Sam in his business prospects, added to their verdict
these thoughtful and considerate words, which yet remain on the record,
to the lasting honor and glory of our system of trial by jury:

"And we hereby state that the prisoner was perfectly sane up to the
moment he committed the rash act in question, and perfectly sane the
moment after, and that, in our opinion, there is no probability that
the malady will ever recur."

After this memorable deliverance, Sam shook hands cordially and gravely
with each of the judicious jurymen, and then turned to where Maud was
waiting for him, with a rosy and happy face and a sparkling eye. They
walked slowly homeward together through the falling shadows.

Their lives were henceforth bound together for good or evil. We may not
say how much of good or how much of evil was to be expected from a
wedlock between two natures so ill-regulated and untrained, where the
woman brought into the partnership the wreck of ignoble ambitions and
the man the memory of a crime.



XX.


"NOW DO YOU REMEMBER?"


Farnham's convalescence was rapid. When the first danger of fever was
over, the wound on the head healed quickly, and one morning Mrs.
Belding came home with the news that he was to drive out that
afternoon. Alice sat in the shade by the front porch for an hour,
waiting to see him pass, and when at last his carriage appeared, she
rose and waved her handkerchief by way of greeting and congratulation.
He bowed as he went by, and Alice retired to her own room, where she
used her handkerchief once more to dry her wet and happy eyes.

It was not long after, that Farnham came to dine with them. They both
looked forward to this dinner as an occasion of very considerable
importance. Each felt that much depended upon the demeanor of the
other. Each was conscientiously resolved to do and to say nothing which
should pain or embarrass the other. Each was dying to fall into the
other's arms, but each only succeeded in convincing the other of his or
her entire indifference and friendship.

As Farnham came in, Mrs. Belding went up to him with simple kindliness,
kissed him, and made him sit down. "You dear boy," she said, "you do
not know how glad I am to see you here once more."

Alice looked on, almost jealous of her mother's privilege. Then she
advanced with shy grace and took Arthur's hand, and asked: "Do you
begin to feel quite strong again?"

Farnham smiled, and answered, "Quite well, and the strength will soon
come. The first symptom of returning vitality, Mrs. Belding, was my
hostility to gruel and other phantom dishes. I have deliberately come
to dinner to-day to dine."

"I am delighted to hear of your appetite," said Mrs. Belding; "but I
think you may bear a little watching at the table yet," she added, in a
tone of kindly menace. She was as good as her word, and exercised
rather a stricter discipline at dinner than was agreeable to the
convalescent, regulating his meat and wine according to ladylike ideas,
which are somewhat binding on carnivorous man. But she was so kindly
about it, and Alice aided and abetted with such bashful prettiness,
that Farnham felt he could endure starvation with such accessories. Yet
he was not wholly at ease. He had hoped, in the long hours of his
confinement, to find the lady of his love kinder in voice and manner
than when he saw her last; and now, when she was sweeter and more
tender than he had ever seen her before, the self-tormenting mind of
the lover began to suggest that if she loved him she would not be so
kind. He listened to the soft, caressing tones of her voice as she
spoke to him, which seemed to convey a blessing in every syllable; he
met the wide, clear beauty of her glance, so sweet and bright that his
own eyes could hardly support it; he saw the ready smile that came to
the full, delicate mouth whenever he spoke; and instead of being made
happy by all this, he asked himself if it could mean anything except
that she was sorry for him, and wanted to be very polite to him, as she
could be nothing more. His heart sank within him at the thought; he
became silent and constrained; and Alice wondered whether she had not
gone too far in her resolute kindness. "Perhaps he has changed his
mind," she thought, "and wishes me not to change mine." So these two
people, whose hands and hearts were aching to come together, sat in the
same drawing-room talking of commonplace things, while their spirits
grew heavy as lead.

Mrs. Belding was herself conscious of a certain constraint, and to
dispel it asked Alice to sing, and Farnham adding his entreaties, she
went to the piano, and said, as all girls say, "What shall I sing?"

She looked toward Farnham, but the mother answered, "Sing
'Douglas'----"

"Oh, no, Mamma, not that."

"Why not? You were singing it last night. I like it better than any
other of your songs."

"I do not want to sing it to-night."

Mrs. Belding persisted, until at last Alice said, with an odd
expression of recklessness, "Oh, very well, if you must have it, I will
sing it. But I hate these sentimental songs, that say so much and mean
nothing." Striking the chords nervously she sang, with a voice at first
tremulous but at last full of strong and deep feeling, that wail of
hopeless love and sorrow:

   "Could you come back to me, Douglas, Douglas,
     In the old likeness that I knew,
   I would be so faithful, so loving,
     Douglas, Douglas, Douglas, tender and true."

There had been tears of vexation in her eyes when her mother had forced
her to sing this song of all others; but after she had begun, the music
took her own heart by storm, and she sang as she had never sung
before--no longer fearing, but hoping that the cry of her heart might
reach her lover and tell him of her love. Farnham listened in transport;
he had never until now heard her sing, and her beautiful voice seemed to
him to complete the circle of her loveliness. He was so entranced by
the full rich volume of her voice, and by the rapt beauty of her face
as she sang, that he did not at first think of the words; but the
significance of them seized him at last, and the thought that she was
singing these words to him ran like fire through his veins. For a
moment he gave himself up to the delicious consciousness that their
souls were floating together upon that tide of melody. As the song died
away and closed with a few muffled chords, he was on the point of
throwing himself at her feet, and getting the prize which was waiting
for him. But he suddenly bethought himself that she had sung the song
unwillingly and had taken care to say that the words meant nothing. He
rose and thanked her for the music, complimented her singing warmly,
and bidding both ladies good night, went home, thrilled through and
through with a deeper emotion than he had yet known, but painfully
puzzled and perplexed.

He sat for a long time in his library, trying to bring some order into
his thoughts. He could not help feeling that his presence was an
embarrassment and a care to Alice Belding. It was evident that she had
a great friendship and regard for him, which he had troubled and
disturbed by his ill-timed declaration. She could no longer be easy and
natural with him; he ought not to stay to be an annoyance to her. It
was also clear that he could not be himself in her presence; she
exercised too powerful an influence upon him to make it possible that
he could go in and out of the house as a mere friend of the family. He
was thus driven to the thought which always lay so near to the surface
with him, as with so many of his kind; he would exile himself for a
year or two, and take himself out of her way. The thought gave him no
content. He could not escape a keen pang of jealousy when he thought of
leaving her in her beautiful youth to the society of men who were so
clearly inferior to her.

"I am inferior to her myself," he thought with genuine humility; "but I
feel sure I can appreciate her better than any one else she will ever
be likely to meet."

By and by he became aware that something was perplexing him, which was
floating somewhere below the surface of his consciousness. A thousand
thoughts, more or less puzzling, had arisen and been disposed of during
the hour that had elapsed since he left Mrs. Belding's. But still he
began to be sure that there was one groping for recognition which as
yet he had not recognized. The more ho dwelt upon it, the more it
seemed to attach itself to the song Alice had sung, but he could not
give it any definiteness. After he had gone to bed, this undefined
impression of something significant attaching itself to the song
besieged him, and worried him with tantalizing glimpses, until he went
to sleep.

But Farnham was not a dreamer, and the morning, if it brought little
comfort, brought at least decision. He made up his mind while dressing
that he would sail by an early steamer for Japan. He sent a telegram to
San Francisco, as soon as he had breakfasted, to inquire about
accommodations, and busied himself during the day with arranging odds
and ends of his affairs. Coming and going was easy to him, as he rarely
speculated and never touched anything involving anxious risks. But in
the afternoon an irresistible longing impelled him to the house of his
neighbor.

"Why should I not allow myself this indulgence?" he thought. "It will
be only civil to go over there and announce my departure. As all is
over, I may at least take this last delight to my eyes and heart. And I
want to hear that song again."

All day the song had been haunting him, not on account of anything in
itself, but because it vaguely reminded him of something else--
something of infinite importance, if he could only grasp it. It hung
about him so persistently, this vague glimmer of suggestion, that he
became annoyed, and said at last to himself, "It is time for me to be
changing my climate, if a ballad can play like that on my nerves."

He seized his hat and walked rapidly across the lawn, with the zest of
air and motion natural to a strong man in convalescence. The pretty
maidservant smiled and bowed him into the cool, dim drawing-room, where
Alice was seated at the piano. She rose and said instinctively to the
servant, "Tell mamma Captain Farnham is here," and immediately repented
as she saw his brow darken a little. He sat down beside her, and said:

"I come on a twofold errand. I want to say good-by to you, and I want
you to sing 'Douglas' for me once more."

"Why, where are you going?" she said, with a look of surprise and
alarm.

"To Japan."

"But not at once, surely?"

"The first steamer I can find."

Alice tried to smile, but the attempt was a little woful.

"It will be a delightful journey, I am sure," she faltered, "but I
can't get used to the idea of it, all at once. It is the end of the
world."

"I want to get there before the end comes. At the present rate of
progress there is not more than a year's purchase of bric-a-brac left
in the empire. I must hurry over and get my share. What can I do for
you?" he continued, seeing that she sat silent, twisting her white
fingers together. "Shall I not bring you the loot of a temple or two?
They say the priests have become very corruptible since our
missionaries got there--the false religion tumbling all to pieces
before the true."

Still she made no answer, and the fixed smile on her face looked as if
she hardly heard what he was saying. But he went on in the same light,
bantering tone.

"Shall I bring you back a Jinrickishaw?"

"What in the world is that--but, no matter what it is--tell me, are you
really going so soon?"

If Farnham had not been the most modest of men, the tone in which this
question was asked would have taught him that he need not exile
himself. But he answered seriously:

"Yes, I am really going."

"But why?" The question came from unwilling lips, but it would have its
way. The challenge was more than Farnham could endure. He spoke out
with quick and passionate earnestness:

"Must I tell you then? Do you not know? I am going because you send
me."

"Oh, no," she murmured, with flaming cheeks and downcast eyes.

"I am going because I love you, and I cannot bear to see you day by
day, and know that you are not for me. You are too young and too good
to understand what I feel. If I were a saint like you, perhaps I might
rejoice in your beauty and your grace without any selfish wish--but I
cannot. If you are not to be mine, I cannot enjoy your presence. Every
charm you have is an added injury, if I am to be indifferent to you."

Her hands flew up and covered her eyes. She was so happy that she
feared he would see it and claim her too soon and too swiftly.

He mistook the gesture, and went on in his error.

"There! I have made you angry, or wounded you again. It would be so
continually, if I should stay. I should be giving you offence every
hour in the day. I cannot help loving you, any more than I can help
breathing. This is nothing to you or worse than nothing, but it is all
my life to me. I do not know how it will end. You have filled every
thought of my mind, every vein of my body. I am more you than myself.
How can I separate myself from you?"

As he poured out these words, and much more, hot as a flood of molten
metal, Alice slowly recovered her composure. She was absolutely and
tranquilly happy--so perfectly at rest that she hardly cared for the
pain her lover was confessing. She felt she could compensate him for
everything, and every word he said filled her with a delight which she
could not bear to lose by replying. She sat listening to him with
half-shut eyes, determined not to answer until he had made an end of
speaking. But she said to herself, with a tenderness which made her
heart beat more than her lover's words, "How surprised he will be when
I tell him he shall not go."

The rustling of Mrs. Belding's ample approach broke in upon her trance
and Farnham's litany. He rose, not without some confusion, to greet
her, and Alice, with bright and even playful eyes, said, "Mamma, what
do you think this errant young cavalier has come to say to us?"

Mrs. Belding looked with puzzled inquiry from one to the other.

"Simply," continued Alice, "that he is off for Japan in a day or two,
and he wants to know if we have any commissions for him."

"Nonsense! Arthur, I won't listen to it. Come over to dinner this
evening and tell me all about it. I've got an appointment this very
minute at our Oriental Gospel rooms and cannot wait to talk to you now.
But this evening, you must tell me what it all means, and I hope you
will have changed your mind by that time."

The good lady did not even sit down, but rustled briskly away. Perhaps
she divined more of what was toward than appeared--but she did as she
would have wished to be done by, when she was young, and left the young
people to their own devices.

Farnham turned to Alice, who was still standing, and said, "Alice, my
own love, can you not give me one word of hope to carry with me? I
cannot forget you. My mind cannot change. Perhaps yours may, when the
ocean is between us, and you have time to reflect on what I have said.
I spoke too soon and too rashly. But I will make amends for that by
long silence. Then perhaps you will forgive me--perhaps you will recall
me. I will obey your call from the end of the world."

He held out his hand to her. She gave him hers with a firm warm grasp.
He might have taken courage from this, but her composure and her
inscrutable smile daunted him.

"You are not going yet," she said. "You have forgotten what you came
for."

"Yes--that song. I must hear it again. You must not think I am growing
daft, but that song has haunted me all day in the strangest way. There
is something in the way _you_ sing it--the words and your voice
together--that recall some association too faint for me to grasp. I can
neither remember what it is, nor forget it. I have tried to get it out
of my mind, but I have an odd impression that I would better cherish
it--that it is important to me--that life or death are not more
important. There! I have confessed all my weakness to you, and now you
will say that I need a few weeks of salt breeze."

"I will sing you the song first. Perhaps we may pluck out its mystery."

She preluded a moment and sang, while Farnham waited with a strained
sense of expectancy, as if something unspeakably serious was impending.
She sang with far more force and feeling than the night before. Her
heart was full of her happy love, as yet unspoken, and her fancy was
pleased with that thought that, under the safe cover of her music, she
could declare her love without restraint. She sang with the innocent
rapture of a mavis in spring, in notes as rich and ardent as her own
maiden dreams. Farnham listened with a pleasure so keen that it
bordered upon pain. When she came to the line,

   "I would be so tender, so loving, Douglas,"

he started and leaned forward in his chair, holding his hands to his
temples, and cried,

"Can't you help me to think what that reminds me of?"

Alice rose from the piano, flushing a pink as sweet and delicate as
that of the roses in her belt. She came forward a few paces and then
stopped, bent slightly toward him, with folded hands. In her long,
white, clinging drapery, with her gold hair making the dim room bright,
with her red lips parted in a tender but solemn smile, with something
like a halo about her of youth and purity and ardor, she was a sight so
beautiful that Arthur Farnham as he gazed up at her felt his heart grow
heavy with an aching consciousness of her perfection that seemed to
remove her forever from his reach. But the thought that was setting her
pulses to beating was as sweetly human as that of any bride since Eve.
She was saying to herself in the instant she stood motionless before
him, looking like a pictured angel, "I know now what he means. He loves
me. I am sure of him. I have a right to give myself to him."

She held out her hands. He sprang up and seized them.

"Come," she said, "I know what you are trying to remember, and I will
make you remember it."

He was not greatly surprised, for love is a dream, and dreams have
their own probabilities. She led him to a sofa and seated him beside
her. She put her arms around his neck and pressed his head to her
beating heart, and said in a voice as soft as a mother's to an ailing
child, "My beloved, if you will live, I will be so good to you." She
kissed him and said gently,

"Now do you remember?"

THE END.


     *     *     *     *     *     *


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