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Title: New Faces
Author: Kelly, Myra, 1876-1910
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 "New Faces" ***

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



NEW FACES

BY

MYRA KELLY

AUTHOR OF "LITTLE CITIZENS" "WARDS OF LIBERTY" "THE ISLE OF DREAMS"
"ROSNAH" "THE GOLDEN SEASON" "LITTLE ALIENS"

[Illustration: Printers Mark]

_Illustrations by_

CHARLES F. NEAGLE


G.W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY PUBLISHERS NEW YORK



_Copyright, 1910, By_ G.W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY



NEW FACES

[Illustration: "THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT IT," HE RETORTED. "SHE KNOWS
THAT I SHALL MARRY HER."]


    "Oh give me new faces, new faces, new faces
    I have seen those about me a fortnight or more.
    Some people grow weary of names or of places
    But faces to me are a much greater bore."

    _Andrew Lang._



CONTENTS

THE PLAY'S THE THING                17
THERE'S DANGER IN NUMBERS           57
MISERY LOVES COMPANY                83
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST                115
WHO IS SYLVIA?                     147
THE SPIRIT OF CECELIA ANNE         187
THEODORA, GIFT OF GOD              219
GREAT OAKS FROM LITTLE ACORNS      263



ILLUSTRATIONS


"There's no question about it," he retorted. "She knows that I shall
marry her."

Burgess gained an interest and an occupation more absorbing than he had
found for many years

Uncle Richard's face, as he met John's eyes, was a study

She swooped under the large center table, dragging Patty with her

The changeless smile and the drooping plumes made three complete
revolutions, and nestled confidingly upon the shoulder of the law

Celia Anne shut her eyes tightly and fired the rifle into the air



NEW FACES



"THE PLAY'S THE THING"


A business meeting of the Lady Hyacinths Shirt-Waist Club was in
progress. The roll had been called. The twenty members were all present
and the Secretary had read the minutes of the last meeting. These
formalities had consumed only a few moments and the club was ready to
fall upon its shirt waists. The sewing-machines were oiled and
uncovered, the cutting-table was cleared, every Hyacinth had her box of
sewing paraphernalia in her lap; and Miss Masters who had been half
cajoled and half forced into the management of this branch of the St.
Martha's Settlement Mission was congratulating herself upon the ease and
expedition with which her charges were learning to transact their
affairs, when the President drew a pencil from her pompadour and rapped
professionally on the table. In her daytime capacity of saleslady in a
Grand Street shoe store she would have called "cash," but as President
of the Lady Hyacinths her speech was:

"If none of you goils ain't got no more business to lay before the
meetin' a movement to adjoin is in order."

"I move we adjoin an git to woik," said Mamie Kidansky promptly. Only
three buttonholes and the whalebones which would keep the collar well up
behind the ears lay between her and the triumphant rearing of her shirt
waist. Hence her zeal.

Susie Meyer was preparing to second the motion. As secretary she
disapproved of much discussion. She was always threatening to resign her
portfolio vowing, with some show of reason, "I never would 'a' joined
your old Hyacinths Shirt-Waists if I'd a' known I was goin' to have to
write down all the foolish talk you goils felt like givin' up."

It seemed therefore that the business meeting was closed, when a voice
from the opposite side of the table broke in with:

"Say, Rosie, why can't us goils give a play?"

"Ah Jennie, you make me tired," protested the Secretary.

"An' you're out of order anyway," was the President's dictum.

"Where?" cried Jennie wildly, clutching her pompadour with one hand and
the back of her belt with the other, "where, what's the matter with me?"

"Go 'way back an' sit down," was the Secretary's advice, "Rosie meant
you're out of parliamentry order. We got a motion on the table an' it's
too late for you to butt in on it. This meetin' is goin' to adjoin."

But Jennie was the spokesman of a newly-born party and her supporters
were not going to allow her to be silenced. Even those Lady Hyacinths
who had not been admitted to earlier consultations took kindly to the
suggestion when they heard it.

"I don't care whether she's out of order or not," one ambitious Hyacinth
declared, "I think it would be just too lovely for anything to have a
play. They have 'em all the time over to Rivington Street an' down to
the Educational Alliance."

"Rebecca Einstein," said the Secretary darkly, "if you're goin' to fire
off your face about plays an' the Educational Alliances you can keep
your own minnits, that's all! Do ye think I'm goin' to write down your
foolishness? Well, I ain't."

Again the President plied her gavel. "Goils," she remonstrated, "this
ain't no way to act. Say, Miss Masters," she went on, "I guess the whole
lot of us is out of order now. What would you do about it if you was me?"

"I should suggest," Miss Masters answered, "that the motion to adjourn
be carried and that the whole club go into committee on the question
raised by Miss Meyer."

"I move that we take our woik into committee with us," cried Miss
Kidansky, not to be deflected from her buttonholes. And from such humble
beginnings the production of Hamlet by the Lady Hyacinths sprang.

Hamlet was not their first choice. It was not even their tenth and to
the end it was not the unanimous choice. During the preliminary stages
of the dramatic fever Miss Masters preserved that strict neutrality
which marks the successful Settlement worker. She would help--oh, surely
she would help--the Hyacinths, but she would not lead them. She had
never questioned their taste in the shape and color of their shirt
waists. Some horrid garments had resulted but to her they represented
"self expression," and as such gave her more pleasure than any servile
following of her advice could have done. She soon discovered that the
latitude in the shirt waist field is far exceeded by that in the
dramatic and she discovered too, that the Lady Hyacinths, though they
seldom visited the theatre had strong digestions where plays were
concerned.

"East Lynne" was warmly advocated until some one discovered a
grandmother who had seen it in her youth. Then:

"Ah gee!" remarked the Lady Hyacinths, "we ain't no grave snatchers. We
ain't goin' to dig up no dead ones. Say Miss Masters, ain't there no new
plays we could give?"

Miss Masters referred them to the public library, but not many plays are
obtainable in book form, and the next two meetings were devoted to the
plays of Ibsen, Bernard Shaw, Vaughan Moody. When Miss Masters descried
this literature in the hands of the now openly mutinous Secretary she
felt the time had come to interfere with the "self activity" of her
charges. She promptly confiscated the second volume of "G.B.S." "For,"
she explained "we don't want to do anything unpleasant and the writer of
these plays himself describes them as that."

"Guess we don't," the President agreed. "We got to live up to our name,
ain't we? An' what could be pleasanter than a Hyacinth?"

"Nothing, of course," agreed Miss Masters unsteadily.

"There's one in this Ibsen book might do," Jennie suggested. "It's
called 'A Dolls' House,' that's a real sweet name."

"I am afraid it wouldn't do," said Miss Masters hastily.

"What's the matter with it?" demanded Susie Meyer.

"Well, in the first place, there are children in it--"

"Cut it! 'Nough said," pronounced the President. "Them plays wid kids in
'em is all out of style. We giv' 'East Lynne' the turn down an' there
was only one kid in that. What else have you got in that Gibson book?
Have you got the play with the Gibson goils in it? We could do that all
right, all right. Ain't most of us got Gibson pleats in our shirt
waists?"

"I don't see nothin' about goils," the Secretary made answer, "but
there's one here about ghosts. How would that do?"

"Not at all," said Miss Masters firmly.

"What's the matter with it?" asked one of the girls abandoning her
sewing-machine and coming over to the table. "I seen posters of it last
year. They are givin' it in Broadway. The costoomes would be real easy,
just a sheet you know and your hair hanging down."

"It's not about that kind of ghost," Miss Masters explained, "and I
don't think it would do for us as there are very few people in the cast
and one of them is a minister."

"Cut it," said the President briefly, "we ain't goin' to have no hymn
singin' in ours. We couldn't, you know," she explained to Miss Masters,
"the most of us is Jewesses."

"Katie McGuire ain't no Jewess," asserted the Secretary. "She could be
the minister if that's all you've got against this Gibson play. I wish
we _could_ give it. It's about the only up-to-date Broadway success we
can find. The librarian says you can't never buy copies of Julia
Marlowe's an' Ethel Barrymore's an' Maude Adams' plays. I guess they're
just scared somebody like us will come along an' do 'em better than they
do an' bust their market. Actresses," she went on, "is all jest et up
with jealousy of one another. Is there anythin' except the minister the
matter with 'Ghosts?'"

"Everything else is the matter with it," said Miss Masters. "To begin
with, I might as well tell you, it never was a Broadway success. It's a
play that is read oftener than it's acted and last year, Jennie, when
you saw the posters, it only ran for a week."

"Cut it," said the President. "We ain't huntin' frosts."

The brows of the Hyacinths grew furrowed and their eyes haggard in the
search. Everyone could tell them of plays but no one knew where they
could be found in printed form and whenever the librarian found
something which might be suitable Miss Masters was sure to know of
something to its disadvantage.

And then the real stage, the legitimate Broadway stage intervened.
Albert Marsden produced Hamlet and the Lady Hyacinths determined to
follow suit.

"It's kind of old," the President admitted, "but there must be some
style left to it. They're playin' it on Broadway right now. An' we'll
give it on East Broadway just as soon as we can git ready. Me and Mamie
went round to the library last night an' got it out. It's got a dandy
lot of parts in it: more than this club will ever need. An' it's got
lots of murders an' scraps, an' court ladies an' soldiers an' kings.
It's our play all right!"

The sea of troubles into which the Lady Hyacinths plunged with so much
enthusiasm swallowed them so completely that Miss Masters could only
stand on its shore, looking across to Denmark and wringing her hands
over the awful things that were happening in that unhappy land.
Fortunately she had a friend to whom she could appeal for succour for
the lost but still valiant Hyacinths. He was the sort of person to whom
appeals came as naturally as honors come to some men and, since he had
nothing to do and ample time and money with which to do it, he was
generally helpful and resourceful. That he had once loved Miss Masters
has nothing to do with this story. She was now engaged to be married to
a poorer and busier man, but it was to Jack Burgess that she appealed.

"Of course I know," said he when he had responded to her message and she
had anchored him with a tea-cup and disarmed him with a smile, "of
course I know what you want to say to me. Every girl who has refused me
has said it sooner or later. You are saying it later--much later--than
they generally do, but it always comes. 'You have found a wife for me.'"

"I have done much better than that," she answered, "I have found work
for you." And she sketched the distress of the Hyacinths in Denmark and
urged him to go to their assistance.

"But, my dear Margaret," he remonstrated, "What can I do? You have
always known that 'something is rotten in the state of Denmark,' and
yet you have let these poor innocents stir it up. I have often thought
that poor Shakespeare added that line after the first performance. I
intend to write that hint to Furniss one of these days."

"You will write it," said Margaret Masters, "with more conviction after
you have seen _my_ Denmark."

"Very well," said he, "I'll visit Elsinore to-night, but I insist upon a
return ticket."

"You will be begging for a season ticket," she laughed. "They have
reduced me to such a condition that I don't know whether they are
amusing me or breaking my heart. Tell me, come, which is it? Did you
ever hear blank verse recited with tense and reverent earnestness and a
Bowery accent?"

"I never did," said he.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Shakespeare was right," whispered Burgess to Miss Masters. "There is
something rotten in Denmark. I've located it. It's the Prince." They
were sitting together in a corner of the kindergarten room of the
settlement: a large and spacious room all decked and bright with the
paper and cardboard masterpieces of the babies who played and learned
there in the mornings. Casts and pictures and green growing things added
to its charm and the Lady Hyacinths so trim and neat and earnest did not
detract from it.

The sewing-machines and the cutting-table had been cast into corners and
well in the glare of the electric light the President was exclaiming in
a voice which would have disgraced an early phonograph, "Oh that this
too too solid flesh would melt."

It was not a dress rehearsal but the too solid Prince wore his hair low
on his neck and a golden fillet bound his brows. Silent, he was noble.
His walk as he came in at the end of a procession of court ladies and
gentlemen was magnificent--slow, dejected, imperious, aloof. But
Wittenberg had a great deal to answer for, if he had contracted his
accent there.

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, was a Hyacinth who worked daily at hooks and
buttonholes for an East Broadway tailor. On this night she wore none of
her regalia save her crown and the King had done nothing at all to
differentiate himself from Susie Lacov who officiated as waitress in a
Jewish lunchroom.

The Hyacinths had wisely decided to edit Hamlet. In this they followed
an almost universal principle and their method was also time-honored.
All the scenes in which unimportant members of the club or cast "came
out strong," were eliminated. So far the Hyacinths were orthodox, but
Rosie Rosenbaum, Prince, President and Censor, went a step further.

"Git busy. Mix her up, why don't you!" she commanded later from the
wings. The other players were laboriously wading through persiflage and
conversation. "You folks ain't _done_ nothin' the last ten minutes only
stand there and gas. Is that actin'? Maybe it's wrote in the book. What
I want to know is--is it actin'?" Burgess sat suddenly erect and his
eyes glowed. Miss Masters half rose to assume authority but he
restrained her.

"You shut up and leave me be," Polonius cried. "Ain't I got a right to
say good-bye to my son?"

"You can say good-bye all right," Rosie reminded her, "without puttin'
up that game of talk. Give him a 'I'll be a sister to you' on the cheek
an' git through sometime before to-morrow. Cut it, I tell you."

This "off with his head" attitude on the President's part delighted
Burgess. But the caste enjoyed it less and when the ghost was docked of
a whole scene it grew rebellious.

"If you give me any more of your lip," said the princely stage manager,
"I'll trow you out altogether. There's lots of people wouldn't believe
in ghosts anyway. Me grandfather seen this play in Chermany and he told
me they didn't use the ghost at all. Nothin' but a green light with a
voice comin' out of it."

"Well, I could be the voice, couldn't I?" the ghost argued; and it was
at this point that Miss Masters took charge of the meeting and
introduced Mr. Burgess.

"Who has offered," she went on in spite of his energetic pantomime of
disclaimer, "to help us with our play."

"That's real sweet of you, Mr. Burgess," said the President graciously.

"Not at all--not at all," he answered. "It will be a pleasure, I assure
you."

"You'll excuse me, I'm sure," the Secretary broke in, "if we go right on
with our woik while you're here. We're makin' our own costoomes, as
much as we can. That was one reason us young ladies chose Hamlet. It's a
play what everyone wears skoits in. It's easier for us and it ain't so
embarrassing, and I guess our folks will like it better. You _have_ to
think of your folks sometimes. Even if they are old-fashioned. Miss
Masters got us pictures of Mr. Marsden's production an' every last one
of the characters has skoits on. Hamlet's ain't no longer than a bathin'
suit, but anyway it's there. I don't think it's real refined, myself,
for young ladies to wear gents' suits on the stage."

"And of course," a gentle-eyed little girl looked up from her sewing to
remark,--"of course this club ain't formed just for makin' shirt waists.
We've got a culture-an'-refinement clause in the club constitution, so
we wouldn't want to do nothin' that wasn't real refined."

[Illustration: BURGESS GAINED AN INTEREST AND AN OCCUPATION MORE
ABSORBING THAN HE HAD FOUND FOR MANY YEARS.]

"I understand," said Burgess more at a loss than a conversation had
ever found him, "And what may I ask, is your part of the play?"

"Mamie Conners is too nervous," the lady President explained "to come
right out and act. She's 'A flourish of trumpets within an' a voice
without an' a lady of the court an' a soldier an' a choir boy at the
funeral.'"

"Ah, Miss Conners," Burgess assured this timid but versatile Hyacinth,
"that's only stage fright, all great actresses suffer from it at one
time or another."

       *       *       *       *       *

During the weeks that followed, order gradually gained sway in Denmark
and Burgess gained an interest and an occupation more absorbing than he
had found for many years.

"My dear Margaret," he was wont to assure Miss Masters, when she
remonstrated with him upon his generosity, "Why shouldn't I order
supper to be sent in for them? and why shouldn't I ask them up to the
house for rehearsals? There's the big music room going to waste and
those lazy beggars of servants with nothing to do, and you saw yourself
how it brightened up poor old Aunt Priscilla. She likes it--they like
it--I like it--you ought to like it. And you certainly can't object to
my having taken them _en masse_ to see Marsden in the play. By George!
I'll drag him to theirs. We'll show him an Ophelia! that Mary Conners is
a little genius."

"She is wonderful," agreed Miss Masters. "The grace of her! The dignity!
What she herself would call the culture-an'-refinement!"

"All my discovery. That tyrant of a Rosie Rosenbaum had cast her as a
quick change, general utility woman. And in the day-time you tell me
she's a miserable little shop-girl in a Grand Street rookery!"

"That is what she used to be. But I went to the shop a day or two ago
to ask her to come up to my house to rehearse with the new Hamlet. I
watched her for a few moments before she noticed me. She was Ophelia to
the life. She conversed in blank verse. She walked about with that
little queenly air you have taught her. She was delicious, adorable. At
first she said that she could not rehearse that night, but I told her
you wished it and she came like a lamb. I often wonder if I did a wise
thing in introducing them to you. Your sort of culture-an'-refinement'
may rather upset them when the play is over and we all settle back to
the humdrum."

"You did a great kindness to me," said he, "and the best stroke of
missionary work you'll do in a dog's age. I'm going to work."

"You are not," she laughed.

"I am. Shamed into it by the Lady Hyacinths."

"Then perhaps the balance will be maintained. If you turn them against
labor they will have turned you toward it."

But Miss Masters' fears were groundless: the Lady Hyacinths though
dedicated to a flower of spring were old and wise in social
distinctions. The story of King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid would have
drawn only a contemptuous "cut it out" from the lady President. Every
Hyacinth of them knew her exact place in nature's garden--all except
Mary Conners--now Ophelia--and she knew herself to be a foundling with
no place at all. The lonely woman who had adopted her was now dead and
Mary was quite alone in her little two-room tenement, free to dream and
play Ophelia to her heart's content and to an imaginary Hamlet who was
always Burgess. To her he was indeed, "The expectancy and rose of the
fair state." "The glass of fashion and the mould of form." He was "her
honoured lord"--"her most dear lord." But in Monroe Street she never
deceived him. Never handed his letters over to interfering relatives.
She could quite easily go mad and tuneful when she knew that each
rehearsal--each lesson taught by him and so quickly learned by
her--brought the days when she would never see him so close that she
could almost feel their emptiness.

It was well that she played to an idealized Hamlet for the real Hamlets
came and went bewilderingly. One of Burgess's first triumphs of tact had
been to pry the part away from the lady President and give it to the
sturdy Secretary. There followed two other claimants to the throne in
quick succession and then the lot fell to Rebecca Einstein and stayed
there. Each change in the principal role necessitated readjustment
throughout the cast and at every change the lady President was persuaded
not to over exert herself.

And still Burgess in the seclusion of the homeward bound hansom railed
and swore.

"I tell you, Margaret, that girl will ruin us. All the rest are funny.
Overwhelmingly, incredibly funny! And pathetic! Could anything be more
pathetic! But that awful President strikes a wrong note: Vulgarity. Take
her out of it and we'll have a thing the like of which New York had
never seen, for Ophelia is a genius or I miss my guess and all the rest
are darlings."

"But we can't throw out the President of the club. She must have a part.
You have moved her down from Hamlet to Laertes--to the King--"

"I did," groaned Burgess. "Will you ever forget her rendering of the
line, "Now I could do it, Pat," and then her storming up to me to know
"Who Pat was anyway?""

"I do," laughed Margaret, "and then how you moved her on to Guildenstern
and now you have got her down to Bernardo with all her part cut out and
nothing except that opening line, "Who's there?" and the other: "'Tis
now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.""

"Yes, and she ruins them. I've drilled her and drilled her till my
throat is sore and still she says it straight through her nose just as
though she were delivering an order of 'ham and' at her hash battery.
Just the same truculent 'Don't you dare to answer back' attitude. She's
impossible. She must be removed."

Meanwhile the Lady Hyacinths scattering to their different homes
discussed their mentor. Ophelia and Horatio and Hamlet were going
through Clinton Street together. Ophelia was still at Elsinore but
Horatio was approaching common ground again.

"I suppose he's Miss Masters' steady," said he to Hamlet. "He wouldn't
come down here every other night just to help us goils out."

But Ophelia was better informed. She knew Miss Masters to be engaged to
quite another person.

"Then I know," cried Horatio triumphantly. "He's stuck on Rosie
Rosenbaum. It's her brings him."

Ophelia said nothing, and Horatio having experienced an inspiration, set
about strengthening it with proof.

"It's Rosie sure enough. Ain't he learned her about every part in the
play? Don't he keep takin' her off in corners an' goin' 'Who's there,
'Tis now struck twelve' for about an hour every night? I wouldn't have
nothin' to do with a feller that kept company that way, but I s'pose
it's the style on Fifth Avenue. You know how I tell you, Ham, in the
play that there's lots of things goin' on what you ain't on to. Well
it's so. None of you was on to Rosie an' his nibs. You didn't ever guess
it did you 'Pheleir?"

"No," admitted Ophelia. "No, I never did."

"Well it's so. You watch 'em. The style in wives is changin'. Actresses
is goin' out an' the 'poor but honest workin' goil' is comin' in. One of
our salesladies has a book about it. "The Bowery Bride" its name is. All
about a shop goil what married a rich fellow and used to come back to
the store and take her old friends carriage ridin'. If Rosie Rosenbaum
tries it on me, I'll break her face. If she comes round me," cried the
Prince's fellow student: "with carriages and a benevolent smile, I'll
claw the smile off of her if I have to take the skin with it!"

When Horatio and Hamlet left her, she wandered disconsolate, down to the
river. But no willow grows aslant that brook, no flowers were there with
which to weave fantastic garlands.

"I've gone crazy all right," said poor Ophelia as she watched the lights
of the great bridge, "but I don't drown myself until Scene VII. And I'm
goin' up to his house to-morrow night to learn to act crazy. I guess I
don't need much learning."

       *       *       *       *       *

The performance of Hamlet by the Lady Hyacinths is still remembered by
those who saw it as the most bewildering entertainment of their
theatrical experience. The play had been cut down to its absolute
essentials and the players, though drilled and coached in their lines
and business, had been left quite free in the matters of interpretation
and accent. The result was so unique that the daily press fell upon it
with whoops of joy and published portraits of and interviews with the
leading characters. People who had thought that only ferries and docks
lay south of Twenty-third Street penetrated to the heart of the great
East Side and went home again full of an altruism which lasted three
days. And on the last night of the "run" of three nights, Jack Burgess
brought Albert Marsden to witness it. Other spectators had always
emerged dumb or inarticulate from the ordeal but the great actor was not
one of them. He was blusterous and garrulous and, to Burgess' amazement,
not at all amused.

"Who is that girl who played Ophelia? Is she an East Side working girl
or one of the mission people?"

"She's a shop-girl," answered Burgess. "There's no good in your asking
me to introduce you to her for I won't. That's been one of our rules
from the beginning. We don't want the children to be upset and
patronized."

"Who taught her to act?"

"Well, I coached them all as you know, but she never seemed to require
any special teaching. Pretty good, isn't she?"

"Pretty good! She is a genius--a wonder. This is all rot about my not
meeting her. I am going to meet her and train her. I suppose you have
noticed that she is a beauty too."

"But she's only a child," Burgess urged. "She's only eighteen. She
couldn't stand the life and the work and she couldn't stand the people.
You have no idea what high ideals these girls have, and Mary
Conners--that's the girl's name--seems to be exceptional even amongst
them."

"Too good for us, eh?" asked the actor.

"Entirely too good," answered Burgess steadily.

"And do you feel justified in deciding her future for her! In condemning
her to an obscure life in the slums instead of a successful career on
the stage?"

"I do not," answered Burgess, "she must decide that for herself. I'll
ask her and let you know."

To this end he sought Miss Masters. "I want you," said he, "to ask Mary
Conners to tea with you to-morrow afternoon. It will be Sunday so she
can manage. And then I want you to leave us alone. I have something very
serious to say to her."

Margaret looked at him and laughed. "Then you were right," said she,
"and I was wrong; I had found a wife for you."

"For absolute inane, insensate romanticism," said he, "I recommend you
to the recently engaged. You used to have some sense. You were clever
enough to refuse me and now you go and forever ruin my opinion of you by
making a remark like that."

"It is not romanticism at all," she maintained. "It is the best of
common sense. You will never be satisfied with anyone you haven't
trained and formed to suit your own ideals. And you will never find such
a 'quick study' as Mary."

It was the earliest peep of spring and Burgess stopped on his way to
Miss Masters' house and bought a sheaf of white hyacinths and pale
maiden hair for the little Lady Hyacinth who was waiting for him.

As soon as he was alone with her he managed to distract her attention
from her flowers and to make her listen to Marsden's message. He set the
case before her plainly. Without exaggeration and without extenuation.

"And we don't expect you," he ended, "to make up your mind at once. You
must consult your relatives and friends."

"I have no relatives," she answered.

"Your friends then."

"I don't think I have many. Some of the girls in the club perhaps. The
old book-keeper in the store where I work, perhaps Miss Masters."

"And you have me," he interrupted. But she smiled at him and shook her
head. "You were real kind about the play," said she, "but the play's all
over now. I guess you'd better tell your friend that I'll take the
position. I have been getting pretty tired of work in the store and I'd
like to try this if he don't mind."

"Oh, but you mustn't go into it like that," Burgess protested, "just for
the want of something better. Acting is an art--a great art--you must be
glad and proud."

"I'll try it," she said without enthusiasm. "If you feel that way about
it I'll try it. It can't be worse than the store. The store is just
horrible. Oh! Mr. Burgess you can't think what it is to be Ophelia in
the evening with princes loving you and then to be a cashier in the
day-time that any fresh customer thinks he can get gay with. Maybe if I
was an actress I could be Ophelia oftener. I'd do anything, Mr. Burgess,
to get away from the store."

Burgess did not answer immediately. Her earnestness had rather overcome
her and he waited silently while she walked to the window, surreptitiously
pressed her handkerchief against her eyes and conquered
the sobs that threatened to choke her. Burgess watched her. The trimness
of her figure, the absolute neatness and propriety of her dress, the
poise and restraint of her manner. Then she turned and he rose to meet her.

"Mary," said he, "you never in all the time I've known you have failed
to do what I asked you. Will you do something for me now?"

"Yes, sir," she answered simply.

"Then sit down in that chair and take this watch of mine in your hand
and don't say one single, solitary, lonely word for five minutes. No
matter what happens: no matter what anyone says or does. Will you
promise?"

"Yes, sir," she answered again.

"Well then," he began, "I know another man who wants you--this stage
idea is not the only way out of the store. Remember you're not to
speak--this other man wants to marry you."

A scarlet flush sprang to Mary's face and slowly ebbed away again leaving
her deadly pale. She kept her word in letter but hardly in spirit for
she looked at him through tear-filled eyes, and shook her head.

"Of course you can't be expected to take to the idea just at first,"
said he, as if she had spoken, "but I want you to think it over. The man
is a well-off, gentlemanly sort of chap. Miles too old for you of
course--for you're not twenty and he's nearly forty--but I think he
would make you happy. I know he'd try with all the strength that's in him."

Blank incredulity was on Mary's face. She glanced at the watch and up at
him and again she shook her head.

"This man," Burgess went on, "is a friend of Miss Masters and it was
through her that he first heard of the Lady Hyacinths. He was an idler
then. A shiftless, worthless loafer, but the Lady Hyacinths made a man
of him and he's gone out and got a job."

Comprehension overwhelming, overmastering, flashed into Mary's eyes. But
her promise held her silent and in her chair. Again it was as though she
had spoken.

"Yes, I see you understand--you probably think of me as an old man past
the time of love and yet I love you."

    "Doubt thou the stars are fire;
    Doubt that the sun doth move;
    Doubt truth to be a liar;
    But never doubt I love."

"That's all I have to offer you, sweetheart. Just love and my life," and
he in turn went to the window and looked out into the gathering dusk.

Mary sat absolutely still. She knew now that she was dreaming. Just so
the dream had always run and when the five minutes were past, she rose
and went to him: a true Ophelia, her arms all full of hyacinths.

"My honored Lord," said she. He turned, and the dream held.



THERE'S DANGER IN NUMBERS


The Pennsylvania Limited was approaching Jersey City and the afternoon
was approaching three o'clock when Mr. John Blake turned to Mrs. John
Blake, née Marjorie Underwood, a bride of about three hours, and
precipitated the first discussion of their hitherto happy married life.

"Your Uncle Richard Underwood," said he--the earlier discussions in the
wedded state are usually founded upon relations--"is as stupid as he is
kind. It was very good of him to arrange that I should meet old
Nicholson. Any young fellow in the country would give his eyes for the
chance. But to make an appointment for a fellow at four o'clock in the
afternoon of his wedding day is a thing of which no one, except your
Uncle Richard, would be capable. He might have known that I couldn't go."

"But you must go," urged the bride, "it's the chance of a lifetime.
Besides which," she added with a pretty little air of practicality, "we
can't afford to throw away an opportunity like this. We may never get
another one, and if you don't go how are you to explain it to Uncle
Richard when we dine there to-morrow night?--you know we promised to,
when he was last at West Hills."

"But what," suggested her husband--"what if, in grasping at the shadow,
I lose the reality? I'd rather lose twenty opportunities than my only
wife, and what's to become of you while I go down to Broad Street? Do
you propose to sit in the station?"

"I propose nothing of the kind," she laughed. "I shall go straight to
the Ruissillard and wait for you. Dick and Gladys may be there already."

Although Mr. John Blake received this suggestion with elaborate
disfavor and disclaimer it was clear to the pretty eyes of Mrs. John
Blake that he hailed it with delight, and she was full of theories upon
marital co-operation and of eagerness to put them into practice. None of
her husband's objections could daunt her, and before he had adjusted
himself to the situation he had packed his wife into a hansom, given the
cabman careful instructions and a careless tip, and was standing on the
step admonishing his bride:

"Be sure to tell them that we must have out-side rooms. Have the baggage
sent up, but don't touch it. If you open a trunk or lift a tray before I
arrive I shall instantly send you home to your mother as incorrigible."

"Very well," she agreed; "I'll be good."

"And then, if Gladys is there--it's only an off-chance that they come
before to-morrow--get her to sit with you. But don't go wandering about
the hotel by yourself. And, above all, don't go out."

"Goosie," said she, "of course I shan't go out. Where should I go?"

"And you're sure, sure, sure that you don't mind?" he asked for the
dozenth time.

"Goosie," said she again, "I am quite, quite sure of it. Now go or you
will surely miss your appointment and disappoint your uncle."

After two or three more questions of his and assurances of hers the cab
was allowed to swing out into the current. John had given the driver
careful navigation orders, and Marjorie leaned back contentedly enough
and watched the busy people, all hot and haggard, as New York's people
sometimes are in the first warm days of May. Her collection of
illustrated post-cards had prepared her to identify many of the places
she passed, but once or twice she felt, a little ruefully the difference
between this, her actual first glimpse of New York and the same first
glimpse as she and John had planned it before the benign, but hardly
felicitous, interference of Uncle Richard. This feeling of loneliness
was strongly in the ascendent when the cab stopped under an ornate
portico and two large male creatures, in powdered wigs and white silk
stockings, emerged before her astonished eyes. Open flew her little
door, down jumped the cabman, out rushed other menials and laid hands
upon her baggage. Horses fretted, pedestrians risked their lives, motors
snorted and newsboys clamored as an enormous police-appearing person
assisted her to alight. He had such an air of having been expecting and
longing for her arrival that she wondered innocently whether John had
telephoned about her. This thought persisted with her until she and her
following of baggage-laden pages drew up before the desk, but it fell
from her with a crash when she encountered the aloof, impersonal,
world-weary regard of the presiding clerk. In all Marjorie's happy life
she had never met anything but welcome. The belle of a fast-growing town
is rather a sheltered person, and not even the most confiding of
ingénues could detect a spark of greeting in the lackadaisical regard of
this highly-manicured young man.

Marjorie began her story, began to recite her lesson: "Outside rooms,
not lower than the fourth nor higher than the eighth floor; the Fifth
Avenue side if possible--and was Mrs. Robert Blake in?"

The lackadaisical young man consulted the register with a disparaging eye.

"Not staying here," Marjorie understood him to remark.

"Oh, it doesn't matter--but about the rooms?"

"Front!" drawled the young man, and several blue-clad bellboys ceased
from lolling on a bench and approached the desk.

"Register here," commanded the clerk, twirling the big book on its
turn-table toward Marjorie so suddenly that she jumped, and laying his
pink-tinted finger on its first blank line.

"No, thank you," she stammered, "I was not to register until my
husband--" and her heart cried out within her for that she was saying
these new, dear words for the first time to so unresponsive a
stranger--"told me not to register until he should come and see that the
rooms were satisfactory. He will be here presently."

"We have no unsatisfactory rooms," was the answer, followed by: "Front
625 and 6," and fresh pages and bellboys fell upon the yellow baggage,
and Marjorie, in a hot confusion of counting her property and wondering
how to resent the young man's impertinence, turned to follow them.

"One moment, madam," the clerk murmured; "name and address, please." The
pages were escaping with the bags, and Mrs. Blake hardly turned as she
answered, according to the habit of her lifetime:

"Underwood, West Hills, N.J.," and flew to the elevator, which had
already swallowed her baggage and the boys. Up to suite Number 625 and 6
she was conducted by her blue-clad attendants, who opened the windows,
pushed the furniture about--then waited; who fetched ice water, drew
down shades--and waited; who closed the windows, drew up the shades,
shifted the baggage from sofa to armchair, unbuckled the straps of a
suitcase, indicated the telephone--and waited; who put the bags on the
bed, opened the windows, pushed the furniture back against the wall--and
waited. Marjorie viewed all these manoeuvres with amused but
unsophisticated eyes. She smiled serenely at the smiling bellboys--while
they waited. She thanked them prettily for their assistance--and they
waited. She dismissed them still prettily, and it is to be regretted
that, in the privacy of the hall, they swore.

She then took possession of her little domain. The clerk, however
unbearably, had spoken the truth, and the rooms were charming. There
could be no question, she decided, of going farther. She spread her
pretty wedding silver on the dressing-table, she hung her negligée with
her hat and coat in the closet. She went down on her knees and
investigated the slide which was to lead shoes to the bootblack; she
tested, with her bridal glove-stretcher, the electrical device in the
bathroom for the heating of curling irons. She studied all the pictures,
drew out all the drawers, examined the furniture and bric-a-brac, and
then she looked at her watch. Only half an hour was gone.

She went to the window and watched the hats of the passing multitude,
noting how short and fore-shortened all the figures seemed and how
queerly the horses passed along beneath her, without visible legs to
move them. Still an hour before John could be expected.

And then their trunks, hers large and his small, made their thumping
entrance. The porter crossed to the window and raised the shade, crossed
to her trunk and undid its straps, dried his moistened brow--and waited.
Marjorie thanked him and smiled. He smiled and waited, drying his brow
industriously the while. No village black-smith ever had so damp a brow
as he. She sympathized with him in the matter of the heat; he
agreed--and waited. He undid the straps of John's trunk; he moved her
trunk into greater proximity to the window and the light; he carried
John's trunk into the sitting-room; he performed innumerable feats of
prowess before her. But she only smiled and commended in an unfinancial
way. Finally he laid violent hands upon his truck and retreated into the
hall, swearing, as became his age, more luridly than the bellboys.

Once more Marjorie looked out into the street for a while and began to
plan the exact form of greeting with which she should meet John. It
already seemed an eternity since she had parted with him. She drew the
pretty evening dress which she had chosen for this and most important
evening from its tissue-paper nest in the upper tray of her trunk. Its
daintiness comforted and cheered her, as a friend's face might have
done, and under its impetus she found calm enough to rearrange her hair,
and, with many a shy recoil and shy caress, to lay out John's evening
things for him, as she had often laid out her father's. How surprised,
she smiled, he would be. How delighted, when he came, to find everything
so comfy and domestic. Surely it was time for him to come. Presently it
was late, and yet he did not come. She evolved another form of greeting:
he did not deserve comfort and domesticity when he did not set more
store on them than on a stupid interview in a stuffy office. He should
see that an appointment with old Nicholson could not be allowed to
interfere with their home life; that, simply because they were married
now, he could not neglect her with impunity.

She practised the detached, casual sort of smile with which she would
greet him, and the patient, uninterested silence with which she would
listen to his apologies. Then, realizing that these histrionics would be
somewhat marred by a pink negligée, she struggled into her dinner dress.

It was then seven o'clock and time to practise some more vehement reception
for the laggard. It went well--very well. Any man would have been
annihilated by it, but there was still no man when half-past seven came.

Quite suddenly she fell into a panic. John was dead! She had heard and
read of the perils of New York. She had seen a hundred potential
accidents on her drive from the ferry. Trolley, anarchist, elevated
railroad, collapsed buildings, frightened horses, runaway automobiles.
Her dear John! Her mangled husband! Passing out of the world, even while
she, his widowed bride, was dressing in hideous colors, and thinking so
falsely of him!

He must be brought to her. Some one should go and say something to
somebody! Telephone Uncle Richard! She flew to the directory, which had
interested her so little when the polite bellboy of the itching palm had
pointed it out to her, and presently she had startled a respectable old
stockbroker, so thoroughly and so hastily that he burst into his wife's
presence with the news that John Blake had met with a frightful accident
and was being carried to the hotel in the automobile of some rich
gentleman from Paterson, New Jersey.

"Hurry down there at once," commanded Aunt Richard, who was as staid
and practical as the wife of a stockbroker ought to be, "and bring the
two poor lambs here in your car. Take the big one. They'll want plenty
of room to lay him flat. I'll have the nurse and the doctor here and a
room ready. Get there if possible before he does, so as not to move him
about too often."

Meanwhile Mrs. John Blake, bride now of nearly eight hours, lay in a
stricken heap upon the bed, bedewing with hot tears the shirt she had so
dutifully laid ready for Mr. John Blake, and which now he was never more
to wear. And Mr. John Blake, in a hurricane of fear, exasperation and
bewilderment, a taxicab, and the swift-falling darkness, fared from
hotel to hotel and demanded speech with Mrs. John Blake, a young lady in
blue with several handbags and some heavy luggage, who had arrived at
some hotel early that afternoon.

His interview with old Nicholson had been short and satisfactory, and
at about five-thirty o'clock he was at the Ruissillard inquiring for Mrs.
J. Blake's number and floor with a confidence he was soon to lose. There
was no such person. No such name. Then could the clerk tell him whether,
and why, she had gone elsewhere. A slim and tall young lady in blue.

The clerk really couldn't say. He had been on duty for only half an
hour. There was no person of the name of Blake in the hotel. Sometimes
guests who failed to find just the accommodation they wanted went over
to the Blinheim, just across the avenue. So the bridegroom set out upon
his quest and the clerk, less world-weary than his predecessor, turned
back to the telephone-girl.

Presently there approached the desk a brisk, business-like person who
asked a few business-like questions and then registered in a bold and
flowing hand, "Mr. and Mrs. Robert Blake, Boston."

"My husband," she announced, "will be here presently."

"He was here ten minutes ago," said the clerk, and added particulars.

"Oh, that's all right," replied the slightly-puzzled but quite unexcited
lady; "he'll be back." And then, accompanied by bags and suitcases, she
vanished aloft.

"Missed connections, somehow," commented the clerk to the stenographer,
and gave himself to the contemplation of "Past Performances" in the
_Evening Telegram_, and to ordinary routine of a hotel office for an
hour or so, when, to prove the wisdom of the lady's calm, the excited
Mr. John Blake returned.

"There must be some mistake," he began darkly, "I've been to every
hotel--"

"Lady came ten minutes after you left," said the genial clerk. "Front,
show the gentleman to 450." And, presently, John was explaining his
dilemma to Gladys, the pretty wife of his cousin Bob. "She is somewhere
in this hotel," he fumed, "and I'll find her if I have to search it room
by room."

The office was hardly quiet after the appearance and disappearance of
Mr. John Blake, when the clerk and the telephone-girl were again
interrupted by an excited gentleman. His white whiskers framed an
anxious, kindly face, his white waistcoat bound a true and tender heart.

"Has Mr. Blake arrived?" he demanded with some haste.

"Just a minute ago," the clerk replied, and was surprised at the
disappointment his answer caused.

"I must see him," cried the old gentleman. "You needn't announce me.
I'll go right up. I'm his wife's uncle, and she telephoned me to come."

"Front!" called the clerk. "This gentleman to 450."

At the door of 450 he dismissed his guide with suitable _largesse_, and
softly entered the room. It was brightly illuminated, and Uncle Richard
was able clearly to contemplate his nephew of eight hours in animated
converse with a handsome woman in evening dress.

"I think, sir," said the woman, "that there is some mistake."

"I agree with you, madam," said Uncle Richard, "and I'm sorry for it."

"But you are exactly the man to help us," cried the nephew; "we are in
an awful state."

"I agree with you, sir," repeated Uncle Richard.

"You _must_ know how to help us," urged the nephew. "I've lost
Marjorie."

"So I should have inferred. But she had already thrown herself away."

"She's _lost_!" stormed the bridegroom. "Don't you understand? Lost,
lost, lost!"

"I rather think he misunderstands," the handsome woman interrupted.
"You've not told him, John, who I am."

"You are mistaken," replied Uncle Richard with a horrible suavity; "I
understand enough. That poor child telephoned to me not twenty minutes
ago that her husband was injured, perhaps mortally, and implored my
help. I left my dinner to come to his assistance and I find
him--here--and thus."

"Twenty minutes ago?" yelled John, leaping upon his new relative and
quite disregarding that gentleman's last words. "Where was she? Did she
tell you where to look for her?"

"So, sir," stormed Uncle Richard, "the poor, deluded child has left you
and turned to her faithful old uncle! Allow me to say that you're a
blackguard, sir, and to wish you good-bye."

"If you dare to move," stormed John Blake, "until you tell me where my
wife is, I'll strangle you. Now listen to me. This is Mrs. Bob Blake,
wife of my cousin Robert. She's an old friend of Marjorie's. We had a
half engagement to meet here this week. Bob is due any minute, but
Marjorie is lost. There is only one record of a Blake in to-day's
register and that's this room and this lady--when Marjorie left me at
the ferry she was coming here, straight. I've been to all the possible
hotels. She is nowhere. You say she telephoned to you. From where?"

"She didn't say," answered Uncle Richard, shame-facedly, and added still
more dejectedly, "I didn't ask. She said in a letter her aunt received
this morning that she was coming here. So I inferred that she was here."

"Then she is here," cried Gladys. "It's some stupid mistake in the
office."

"I'll go down to that chap," John threatened, "and if he doesn't
instantly produce Marjorie I'll shoot him."

[Illustration: UNCLE RICHARD'S FACE, AS HE MET JOHN'S EYES, WAS A STUDY.]

"You'll do nothing of the sort," his uncle contradicted, "the child
appealed to me and I am the one to rescue her. I shall interview the
manager. I know him. You may come with me if you like."

Down at the desk they accosted the still-courteous clerk. Uncle Richard
produced his card, and, before he could ask for the manager the clerk
flicked a memorandum out of one pigeon-hole, a key out of another, and
twirled the register on its turn-table almost into the midst of the
white waistcoat.

"The lady has been expecting you for hours, Mr. Underwood," said he.
"Looked for you quite early in the afternoon, so the maid says. Register
here, please. Quite hysterical, she is, they tell me, and the maid was
asking for the doctor--Front! 625!"

Uncle Richard's face, as he met John's eyes, was a study. The
telephone-girl disentangled the receiver from her pompadour so that she
might hear without hindrance the speech which was bursting through the
swelling buttons of the white waistcoat and making the white whiskers
quiver.

"I know nothing whatever about _any_ lady in _any_ of your rooms," he
roared, greatly to the delight of the bellboys. "I know nothing about
your Underwood woman, with her doctors and her hysterics. I want to see
the manager."

"If," said the telephone maiden, adjusting her skirt at the hips and
shaking her figure into greater conformity with the ideal she had set
before it--"If this gentleman is 2525 Gram., then the lady in 625 rang
him up at seven-thirty and held the wire seven minutes talkin' to him
and cryin' to beat Sousa's band. All about her uncle she was talkin'. I
guess it was him, all right, all right. His voice sounds sort of
familiar to me when he talks mad."

But John had neither eyes nor ears for Uncle Richard's wrath. He
snatched the key and the paper upon which the supercilious clerk had
inscribed, at Marjorie's embarrassed dictation, "Mrs. Underwood, West
Hills, N.J. (husband to arrive later), 625 and 6," and, since love is
keen, he jumped to the right conclusion and the open elevator without
further delay.

An hour or so later the attention of the clerk and the telephone-girl
was again drawn to the complicated Blakes. A party of four sauntered out
of the dining-room and approached the desk.

"I'll register now, I think," said John. And when he had finished he
turned to the star-eyed girl behind him.

"Look carefully at this, Marjorie," he admonished. "Mr. and Mrs. John
Blake. _You_ are Mrs. John Blake. Do you think you can remember that?"

"Don't laugh at me," she pleaded, "Gladys says it was a most natural
mistake, and so does Bob. Don't you, Gladys and Bob?"

"An almost inevitable mistake," they chorused mendaciously, "but," added
Bob, "a rather disastrous mistake for your uncle to explain to his wife,
the doctor and the nurse. He'll be able for it, though; I never saw so
game an old chap."

"And I'll never do it again," she promised. People never do when they've
been married a long, long time, and I feel as though I had been married
thousands and thousands of years."

"Poor, tired little girl," said John, "you have had a rather indifferent
time of it. Say good-night to Dick and Gladys. Come, my dear."



MISERY LOVES COMPANY.


"But, Win," remonstrated the bride-elect, "I really don't think we
_could_. Wouldn't it look awfully strange? I don't think I ever heard of
its being done."

"Neither did I," he agreed. "And yet I want you to do it. Look at it
from my point of view. I persuade John Mead to stop wandering around the
world and to take an apartment with me here in New York. Then I meet
you. The inevitable happens and in less than a year John is to be left
desolate. You know how eccentric he is, and how hard it will be for him
to get on with any other companion--"

"I know," said Patty, "that he never will find any one--but you--to put
up with his eccentricities."

"And then, as if abandoning him were not bad enough, I go and maim the
poor beggar: blind him temporarily--permanently, if he is not taken care
of--and disfigure him beyond all description. Honestly, Patty, you never
saw anything like him."

"I know," said she, "I know. A pair of black eyes."

"Black!" he cried, "why, they're all the colors of the rainbow and two
more beside, as the story-book says. All the way from his hair to his
mustache he is one lurid sunset. I don't want to minimize this thing. It
has only one redeeming feature: he will be a complete disguise. No
amount of rice or ribbon could counteract his sinister companionship. No
bridal suspicions could live in the light of it. Doesn't that thought
help?".

The conversation wandered into personalities and back again, as a
conversation may three days before a wedding, but Patty was not entirely
won over to Hawley's view of his responsibility for having with
unprecedented dexterity and precision planted a smashing "right" on the
bridge of his friend's nose in the course of an amicable "bout."

"And the oculist chap says," Winthrop urged, "that he simply must not be
allowed to use his eyes. I'm the only one who takes any interest in him
or has any control over him, and to abandon him now would be an awful
responsibility. Can't you see that, dear? If we stay at home to take
care of him he will understand why we're doing it, and he'd vanish. Do
let me put him into a motor mask and attach him to the procession."

"Well, of course, Win," Patty answered, "of course we must have him if
you feel so strongly about it. It's a pity," she ended mischievously,
"that he dislikes me so much."

"That's because you dislike him. But just wait till you know one
another."

"I will," she answered with a spirit which promised well for the future.
"I'll wait."

And Winthrop was so touched and gratified by her complaisance that he
had no alternative, save to duplicate it, when the following evening
brought him this communication:

"Kate Perry and I were playing golf this morning. And, oh! Win, it seems
just too dreadful! I banged her between the eyes with my driver. I can't
think how I ever did it. She's not fit to be seen. Awful! worse than Mr.
Mead can possibly be. She can't stay here and she can't go home to
Washington.

"So, now, if you will consent, we shall be four instead of three. Let me
take poor Kate. She can wear a thick veil and sit in behind with Mr.
Mead, in his goggles, and leave the front seats for us. They'll be
company for one another."

Winthrop questioned this final sentence. A supercilious, spoiled
beauty--a beauty now doubly spoiled and presumedly bad tempered--was
hardly an ideal companion for the misanthropic Mead.

       *       *       *       *       *

The wedding took place in the morning and the beginning of the honeymoon
was prosaic enough. Winthrop and Patty sat in the front seat of the
throbbing touring car, while hysterical bridesmaids and vengeful
groomsmen showered the requisite quantities of rice, confetti and old
slippers upon them.

It was at the New York side of the ferry that a shrouded female joined
them, and it was at the Hoboken side of the river that a be-goggled
young man was added unto her. The bride rushed through the formula of
introduction: a readjustment of dress-suit cases and miniature trunks
was effected, and the disguise which the bridegroom had predicted was
complete. The most romantic onlooker would not have suspected them of
concealing a honeymoon about them.

It was nearly six o'clock when at last they reached their destination,
the little town of Rapidan, in New Jersey, and stopped before the
Empress Hotel. Hawley had visited Rapidan once before, as a member of
his college glee club, and he had recalled it instantly when Mead's
disfigurement made sequestration imperative.

The motor sobbed itself to a standstill: several children and dogs
gathered to inspect it, and then finding more interest and novelty in
Mead's mask turned their attention to him.

The Empress had evidently been dethroned for some years, and the
hospitality she afforded her guests was of an impoverished sort. Hawley,
approaching the desk to make enquiries, was met by a clerk incredibly
arrayed, and the intelligence that the whole house was theirs to choose,
except for two small rooms on the third floor occupied by two gentlemen
who "traveled" respectively in sarsaparilla and molasses.

Hawley returned to his friends and repeated this information.

"How perfectly sweet of them," cried the irresponsible bride. "Oh! Win,
we must stay here and see them. Isn't it the dearest sleepy hollow of a
place?"

Attended by the impressed and impressive clerk, they made an inspection
of the house. Mr. and Mrs. Hawley settled upon a suite just over the
main entrance. Mead was established across the hall. But Kate found a
wonderful panorama which could only be seen from the rooms on the third
floor, and there, down a dreary length of oil-clothed hall, she bestowed
herself and her belongings.

"For I must," she explained to Patty, "I simply _must_ get out of this
veil and breathe, and I shouldn't dare to do it within reach of that
horribly supercilious friend of Winthrop's. I'm going to plead headache
or something, and have my dinner sent up here."

Mead, meanwhile, was unfolding similar plans to Hawley. "I should have
joined you," said he, "if your wife's friend had been a little less
self-sufficient and unsympathetic. Of course, I don't require any
sympathy; but I don't want ridicule either. So, while she is of the
party I'll have my meals in my room. I can't act the 'Man in the Iron
Mask' forever. You just leave the ladies together after dinner and come
up here for a pipe with me."

And when Mr. and Mrs. Hawley next encountered one another and reported
the wishes of their friends, he suggested and she rapturously agreed,
that they should dine in their horse-hair-covered sitting-room.

"I have a reason, dear," she told him, "for not wishing to go to the
dining-room for our first meal together. I'll explain later."

"Your wishing it is enough," he answered before the conversation sank to
banalities.

And when these several intentions were made clear to the conscientious
clerk, he sent for the police force of the town--it consisted of a mild,
little old man in a uniform and helmet which might have belonged to some
mountainous member of the Broadway Squad in its prime--and implored him
to spend the evening in the hall.

"They're beginning to act up funny already," the clerk imparted. "This
eatin' all over the house don't seem just right to me. What do they
think the dining-room's for anyway? Sam was up with the bag belonging to
the single fellow, and he says he's got the worst looking pair of black
eyes he ever saw. Here, Sam, you come and tell Jimmie what he looks
like."

Sam, a middle-aged combination of porter, bellboy, furnace-man, office
assistant and emergency barkeeper was but newly launched upon his
description of Mead's face, when the chambermaid, who was also the
waitress and housekeeper, broke in upon them with the intelligence that
never in all her born days _or_ nights had she seen anything like the
face of the young lady on the third floor.

"What's the matter with her," said the clerk suspiciously, with a look
which warned Jimmie to be at once a Bingham and a Sherlock Holmes.

"Why, Horace," she answered tragically, "that girl has two of the most
awful black eyes. The whites of them is red and then comes purple and
green and yellow. I guess they was meant to be blue."

This chromatic scale was too much for Jimmie. He reeled where he sat and
then, the postman opportunely arriving, sent word to Mrs. Jimmie that
duty would keep him from her all the night.

"Tell her," he huskily charged his messenger, "that there is suspicious
circumstances going on in this house."

"You bet there is," the clerk agreed. "It looks like a case of attempted
murder to me."

"Divorce, more likely," was Jimmie's professional opinion, but he had
scant time to enlarge upon it before the waitress, outraged to the point
of tears, broke out of her domain. She brought with her an atmosphere of
long-dead beefsteak, chops and onions, and she shrilled for an answer to
her question.

"What's the matter with 'em anyway? Ain't the dining-room good enough
for 'em to eat in? It done all right for Judge Campbell's funeral this
afternoon, and I found a real sweet wreath on that there whatnot in the
corner. The candles wasn't all burnt up neither, an' I set out four of
'em on the four corners. It looks elegant, an' them tube-roses smells
grand. An' when I told that young lady what's got the use of her eyes
how glad I was they happened in when we was so well fixed for
decorations, she looked awful funny. Most like she was cross-eyed."

"They all seem to have eye-trouble," Jimmie commented. "Do you suppose
they're running away from one of these here blind asylums."

"Lunatic asylum, most likely," the cheerful clerk contributed.

When the other two guests ceased from traveling in molasses and
sarsaparilla and returned to their quiet hostelry, all these surmises
had hardened into certainties, and were imparted to them with a new maze
of suspicion, more dense, more deadly, and more strictly in accordance
with the principles laid down in "Dandy Dick, the Boy Detective."

Madeline, the waitress, reported further particulars as she ministered
to the creature-comforts of the traveling gentlemen dining alone among
the funeral-baked meats. So interested and excited did these gentlemen
become that they determined to interview, or at least to see, their
mysterious fellow guests.

When their elaborate supper had reached its apotheosis of stewed prunes
and blue-boiled rice, Hawley and Mead had gone out for a meditative and
tobacco-shrouded stroll. They passed through the hall and inspiration
awoke in Jimmie.

"By gum," said he, "I know them now. I suspicioned them from the first
by what Horace told me. But now I've got them sure. You mind that time I
was down to New York and was showed over Police Headquarters, by
professional etiquette?"

"Sure," they all agreed. It was indeed a reminiscence, the details of
which had been playing havoc with Rapidan's nerves for the past fifteen
years. They felt that they could not bear it now.

"Well," continued Jimmie, gathering his auditors close about him by the
husky whisper he now adopted, "I see them two fellers then. Mebbe 'twas
in the Rogue's Gallery and mebbe it was in the cells. I ain't worked it
down that fine yet, but I'll think and pray on it and let you know when
I get light."

When the staff and the commercial guests of the Empress Hotel were
waiting to see illumination burst through the blue-shrouded protector,
the bridal party was veering momentarily further from the normal. For
the deserted bride, alone in the desolate best sitting-room, laid her
head upon her arms and laughed and laughed. She had made one cautious
descent to the ground floor in search of diversion, and meeting Jimmie,
she found it. After a conversation strictly categorical upon his side
and widely misleading upon hers, she had gone up stairs again and halted
in the upper hall just long enough to hear Jimmie's triumphant:

"Well, we know _her_ name anyway."

"What is it?" hissed Horace, while the porter relieved himself of a quid
of tobacco so that nothing should interfere with his hearing and
attention.

"Huh!" ejaculated Jimmie, "you bin a hotel clerk two years and sold
seegars all that time (when you could) and you don't know Ruby
Mandeville when she stands before you."

A box of the "Flor de" that gifted songstress, was soon produced and
pried open, and the effulgent charms of its godmother compared with the
less effulgent, but no less charming figure which had just trailed away.

"It's her, sure as you're born," cried the gentleman who traveled in
molasses, absent-mindedly abstracting three cigars and conveying them
surreptitiously to his coat pocket.

"She's fallen off some in flesh," commented Horace, as with careful
presence of mind he drew out his daybook and entered a charge for those
three cigars.

"But she don't fool me," said Jimmie, "she can put flesh on or she can
take it off--"

"My, how you talk!" shrilled the chambermaid-bellboy, "you'd think you
was talkin' about clothes."

"It ain't no different to them," Jimmie maintained. "That's one of the
things us detekitives has got to watch out for."

"What do you s'pose she's doing here?" asked the porter.

"Gettin' married again most likely. That's about all she does nowadays."

Patty was still chuckling and choking over these remarks, when the door
of the sitting-room opened cautiously and Kate Perry, swathed in her
motor veil, looked in.

"Are we alone?" she demanded with proper melodramatic accent.

"We are," the bride answered, "Winthrop and Mr. Mead have gone out for a
smoke."

"Then I want you to tell me if I'm fading at all. I've been looking at
it upstairs, in a little two-by-three mirror, and taken that way, by
inches, it looks awful. Tell me what you think?" She removed the veil
and presented her damaged face for her friend's inspection. There was
not much improvement to report, but the always optimistic Patty did what
she could with it.

[Illustration: SHE SWOOPED UNDER THE LARGE CENTER TABLE, DRAGGING PATTY
WITH HER.]

"The left cheek," she pronounced, "is really better, less swollen,
less--Oh! Kate, here they come."

Miss Perry began to readjust her charitable gray chiffon veil. It was
one of those which are built around a circular aperture, and as the
steps in the hall came ever closer she, in one last frantic effort
succeeded in framing the most lurid of her eyes in this opening. Casting
one last look into the mirror, she swooped under the large center-table,
dragging Patty with her, and disposing their various frills and ribbons
under the long-hanging tablecover.

"If they don't find either of us," she whispered, "they'll go away to
look for us."

She had no time to say more, and Patty had no time to say anything
before the door opened and presented to their limited range of vision,
two utterly strange pairs of shoes and the hems of alien trousers.

"I hope you will excuse me, Miss," began the molasses gentleman, so full
of his entrance speech that he said the first part of it before he
noticed that the room was empty. And then turned to rend his fellow
adventurer, who was laughing at him.

"Didn't Horace tell us," he stormed, "that she was here, and wasn't you
going to say how you had saw her in the original 'Black Crook?'"

"I seen her all right," said his more grammatical friend, with heavy
emphasis.

"Do you see her now?" demanded the irate molasses traveler.

"I do not, but I'll set here 'til she comes."

They both sat. Not indeed until the arrival of Ruby Mandeville, but
until Hawley and Mead made their appearance, and made it, too, very
plain that they had not expected and did not enjoy the society of the
travelers.

"Where are the ladies?" asked Hawley.

"Search us," responded the travelers.

"They must have gone to their rooms," said the bridegroom. "If these
gentlemen don't object to our waiting here," he went on with a fine and
wasted sarcasm.

"Set right down," said the genial sarsaparilla man, and to further
promote good feeling he tendered his remaining "Ruby Mandeville" cigar.

"Your friend," said he affably, "does he always wear them goggles?"

"Always," answered Hawley. "Eats in them, sleeps in them."

"Born in them," supplemented Mead savagely.

They sat and waited for yet a few moments, and though Mead did not add
geniality to the conversation, he certainly contributed interest to it.
For his views on honeymoon etiquette being strong within him, and an
audience made to his hand, he went on to amplify some of the theories
with which he had been trying to undermine Winthrop's loyalty.

"I am persuaded that most of the disappointments of married life are due
to the impossible standards set up at the beginning. Look at it this
way. You know the fuss most wives make about the hours a husband keeps.
Well! suppose Mr. Hawley comes out in the car with me to-night. I know
some fellows who have a summer studio near here. We'll run over and make
a night of it."

"Say," the molasses gentleman broke in, "be you married, mister?"

"No!" said Mead.

"Sounds like it," said the molasses gentleman. "Marriage will sort of
straighten you out on these here subjects."

"Oh, leave 'em be," admonished the sarsaparilla man. "If I had 'a met up
with him thirty years ago, mebbee I wouldn't be in the traveling line
now. He's got a fine idee."

Hawley, meanwhile, was wrestling with his manners and the "Ruby
Mandeville," until the lady, as was her custom, triumphed.

He hurriedly and incompletely extinguished the cigar, and attracted by
the same opportunity for concealment which had appealed to Kate and
Patty, he lifted a corner of the heavy-fringed tablecover and sent Ruby
to join the other ladies.

Now, a lighted cigar applied suddenly to the ear of an excited and
half-hysterical conspirator, will generally produce results. In this
case it produced a scream, the bride, and after an interval, the
shrouded confidential friend.

"See where amazement on your mother sits," the ghost remarks in Hamlet,
but amazement never sat so hard on the wicked Gertrude of Denmark as it
did upon the four men who saw the tablecloth give up its ghosts.

At first there was silence. One of those throbbing, abominable silences
whose every second makes a situation worse and explanation more
impossible.

The "Black Crook" speech of welcome and appreciation died in the heart
of the molasses traveler. It did not somehow seem the safest answer to
Hawley's threatening--

"I think you gentlemen had better explain how you happen to be in my
private sitting-room. Perhaps we had better step out into the hall."

They did, and the echoes of their conversation brought Jimmie, that
trusty sleuth, upon the scene. With him he brought Horace as witness.
Also, he carried his dark lantern. He directed its glare fitfully at the
two strangers until Mead, catching a beam in his eye, turned and drove
Jimmie and his cohorts from the scene. They retreated in exceedingly
bad order to the bar, and then Jimmie announced in sepulchral whispers
that he had further identification to impart. He required much liquid
refreshment to nerve him to speech, and his audience required to be
similarly strengthened to hear.

"I've got 'em," he began, "I know 'em now. Horace, this is the biggest
thing you'll ever be anywhere near." And, as his hearers drew close
about him, he whispered "counterfeiters. The hull kit and bilin' of 'em."

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile, Kate and Patty wrestled afresh with the automobile veil, and
had succeeded in getting it tied in a limp string around the
bridesmaid's neck, leaving all her head and face uncovered. And when the
groom and the groomsman returned she, with a muffled gurgle, dived back
into the seclusion of the tablecover.

"We've got rid of those bounders," Hawley announced, and--

"Hello!" cried Mead, "Miss Perry gone already?"

"She was very tired," said Patty veraciously, but evasively.

"Awfully jolly girl, isn't she Mead?" said Hawley, with the
expansiveness of the newly-wed. "Handsome, too?"

"Perhaps she is, but so long as she dresses like a veiled prophet it is
hard to tell."

"If you two can get on without me," said Patty, disregarding a muffled
protest from under the table, "I'll go up and fetch," she made these
comforting words very clear, "my green motor veil."

Instantly, when he closed the door after her, Mead turned to Hawley.

"There's something wrong with this confounded mask," said he. "This
strap-thing that goes round my head must be too tight. I've been mad
with it the last half hour. How do I look?" he asked genially as he took
it off, and proceeded to tamper with the buckles and elastic. "Howling
Jupiter!" he cried a moment later, "I've busted it."

As the two friends stood and stared at one another aghast, they heard
the click of Patty's returning heels, and Mead, abandoning dignity,
courage--everything except the broken mask--dived into Miss Perry's
maiden bower.

Mrs. Hawley watched this procedure with wide and fascinated eyes. No
ripple shook the walls of the bower. No sound proceeded from it as the
moments flew. Then Patty fell away into helpless laughter and wept tears
of shocked and sudden mirth into the now useless motor veil.

"Patty!" remonstrated her husband, but she laughed helplessly on. "At
least come out into the hall and laugh there," he urged, "the poor chap
will hear you." And when he had followed her and listened to her shaken
whisper, he broke into such a shout as forced the indignant and
outraged Kate into a shudder of protest and disgust.

Instantly Mead threw an arm past the table's single central support and
grasped a handful of silk chiffon and two fingers.

He, being of an acquisitive turn, retained the fingers. She being of a
dictatorial turn, rebuked him.

"Finding is keeping," he shamelessly remarked. "Even in infancy I was
taught that."

Now, a certain pomp of scene and circumstance is necessary to the sort
of dignified snubbing with which Miss Perry was accustomed to treat
possible admirers. Also, a serene consciousness of superlative good
looks. But Kate Perry disfigured, cramped into a ridiculous hiding
place, and suffering untold miseries of headache and throbbing eyes, was
a very different creature.

And Mead, flippant, hard, and misanthropic in the state of nature,
softened wonderfully as he sat in the gloom of the tablecover, in
silent possession of those two slim fingers.

His words grew gentle, his manner kind, and her answers were calculated
to petrify her long-suffering family if they could have overheard them.

"Mr. Mead," she said at last, "will you be so very kind as to stay here
quietly under the table while I scramble out and go up to my room?"

No tongue of angel could have made a more welcome suggestion. Mead
uttered feeble and polite proffers of escort, and silently called down
blessings upon the head he had never seen. He had just allowed himself
to be dissuaded from knight errantry, when the door opened and Jimmie
flashed his dark lantern about the brightly lighted room. He then beckoned
mysteriously to the still vigilant Horace, who lurked in the hall.

"Have you found them?" whispered that youth.

"Not a trace of them," answered Jimmie triumphantly. "They ain't gone
out. They ain't in their rooms, and I'm studyin' how I can round 'em up.
They're the most suspicious characters I ever see, Horace, and this
night's work may cost us our lives."

This disposition of his existence did not seem to cheer Horace.

"Counterfeiters," Jimmie went on, "is the desperatest kind of criminals
there is. Still we got to git 'em. I'll look round this room just so as
nothing won't escape us, and then we'll go up to the next floor. It's
good we got two of them located in the bridal suite."

Jimmie, with his prying dark lantern and his prodding nightstick, soon
reached the space under the table, and the counterfeiters secreted there.

"I got 'em," he cried delightedly. "Hi, you. Come out of there and show
yourselves."

They came. There was nothing else to do.

"Moses's holy aunt," cried Jimmie, falling back upon Horace, who
promptly fell back upon the sofa.

"Here, you," said Mead. "You get out of this, both of you. Don't you
know this is a private sitting-room?"

"No settin'-room," said Jimmie, recovering somewhat, "is private to them
as sets under tables blackening one another's eyes."

"You ridiculous idiot," snorted Mead. "Do you dare to think that I hurt
this lady?"

"Lady? Ain't she your wife?"

"She is _not_," snapped Kate.

"Then why did you hit her?" demanded Jimmie. "If she ain't your wife
what did you want to hit her for? An' anyway, she'd ought to be. That's
all I got to say."

       *       *       *       *       *

The same idea occurred to Mr. and Mrs. Hawley, crouched guiltily against
their door to hear their victims pass, for their amazed ears caught
these words--the first were Kate's:

"You must let me give you some of my lotion."

And then came Mead's:

"I shall be _most_ grateful. It must be hot stuff. You know you're
hardly disfigured at all."

"The saints forgive him," Patty gurgled.

Later on in the darkness, Jimmie's idea visited Mead and was received
with some cordiality. And at some time later still, it must have been
presented to Miss Perry, for the misanthropic Mead--no longer
misanthropic--now boasts a massive and handsome wife whom he calls his
Little Kitty. But the idea was originally Jimmie's.



THE CHRISTMAS GUEST


On the day before Christmas eve John Sedyard closed his desk, dismissed
his two clerks and his stenographer two hours earlier than usual, and
set out in quest of adventure and a present for his sister Edith. John
Sedyard had a habit of succeeding in all he set forth to do but the
complete and surprising success which attended him in this quest was a
notch above even his high average.

Earlier in the month, his stenographer had secured the annual pledges of
his affection for all the relatives, friends and dependants to whom he
was in the habit of giving presents: all except his mother, his
unmarried sister, Edith, who still lived at home, and his fiancée, Mary
Van Plank. The gifts for these three, he had decided, must be of his
own choice and purchase. He had provided for his mother and for Mary
earlier in the week. Neither excitement nor adventure had attended upon
the purchase of their gifts. Something for the house or the table was
always the trick for elderly ladies who presided over large
establishments and gave their whole souls to the managing of them. He
bought for his mother a set of colonial silver candlesticks. For Mary,
he bought a comb of gold--all gold, like her own lovely hair. The dark
tortoise shell of the one she wore always seemed an incongruous note in
her fair crown. But Edith was as yet unpresented, and it was on her
account that Mr. Sedyard deserted his office and delighted his
subordinates at three o'clock in the afternoon.

Edith was much more difficult than the other two had been. She was
strong-minded, much given to churchwork and committees. Neither the
home, as represented by the candlesticks, nor self-adornment as
typified by the golden comb could be expected to appeal to her
communistic, altruistic nature. And Sedyard, having experienced two
inspirations, could think of nothing but combs and candlesticks. So he
threw himself into the current, which swept along Broadway, trusting
that some accident would suggest a suitable offering. Meanwhile, he
revelled in the crowd, good-humored, holiday-making, holly-decked, which
carried him uptown, past Wanamaker's and Grace Church, swirled him
across old "dead man's curve," and down the Fourteenth Street side of
Union Square. Here the shops were smaller, not so overwhelming, and here
he was stopped by seeing a red auction flag. Looking in over the heads
of the assembled crowd, he saw that the auctioneer was holding up a
feather-crowned hat and addressing his audience after the manner of his
kind:

"Buy a hat for your wife. A waste-paper basket by night and a hat by
day. Genuine ostrich feathers growing on it. Becoming to all styles of
feminine beauty. What am I bid on this sure tickler of the feminine
palate? Three dollars? Why, ladies and gents, the dooty on it alone was
twelve. It's a Paris hat, ladies. Your sister, your mother, your maiden
aunt--"

Sedyard hearkened, but absently, to the fellow's words, but his problem
was solved. He would buy Edith something to look pretty in. She was a
pretty girl and in danger of forgetting it. And she had been decent,
John reflected, awfully decent about Mary. He knew that the _entente
cordiale_ which existed between Mary and his mother was largely due to
Edith, and he knew, too, that Edith, an authority on modern-housing and
model-living, surely but silently disapproved of Mary's living alone in
a three-roomed studio and devoting her days to painting, when there was
so much rescue work to be done in the world.

"I get my uplift," Mary would explain when Edith urged these things upon
her, "from the elevator. Living on the eighth floor, dear, I cannot but
help seeing the world from a very different angle."

Yes, John reflected as he chuckled in retrospect over such
conversations, Edith had certainly been awfully decent.

During these meditations several articles of feminine apparel had come
and gone under the hammer. The crowd had decreased somewhat and his
position now commanded a clear view of the auctioneer's platform, and he
realized that the fierce light of the arc lamps beat down upon as
charming a costume as he had seen for many a day. All of corn-flower
blue it was, a chiffon gown, a big chiffon muff and a plumed hat. Oh! if
he had been allowed to do such shopping for Mary! how quickly he would
have entered into the lists of bidders! Mary's eyes were just that
heavenly shade of blue, but Mary's pride was as great as her poverty,
and the time when he could shower his now useless wealth upon her was
not yet. And then his loyal memory told him that Edith was blue-eyed
like all the Sedyards and he knew that his sister's Christmas gifts
stood before him. He failed, however, to discern in the bland presence
of the lay figure, upon which they were disposed to such advantage, the
companion of one of the most varied adventures in his long career.

The chiffon finery was rather too much for the Fourteenth Street
audience. The bidding languished. The auctioneer's pleadings fell upon
deaf ears. In vain his assistant, a deft-fingered man with a beard,
twirled the waxen-faced figure to show the "semi-princesse back" and the
"near-Empire front." Corn-blue chiffon and panne velvet are not much
worn in Fourteenth Street. The auctioneer grew desperate. "Twenty-five
dollars," he repeated with such scorn that the timid woman who had made
the bid wished herself at home and in bed. "_Twenty-five_ dollars!"

"Throw in the girl, why don't you?" suggested a facetious youth, chiefly
remarkable for a nose, a necktie and a diamond ring. "She's a peach all
right, all right. She's got a smile that won't come off."

"All right, I'll throw her in," cried the desperate auctioneer. "What am
I bid for this here afternoon costume complete with lady."

"Twenty-seven fifty," said a woman whom three years of banting would
still have left too fat to get into it.

"Twenty-eight," whispered the first bidder.

"Thirty," said John Sedyard.

There was some other desultory bidding but in a few moments Sedyard
found himself minus fifty-four dollars and plus a chiffon gown and
muff, a hat all drooping plumes and a graceful female form,
golden-haired, bewitching, with a smile sweetly blended of surprise,
incipient idiocy and allure.

"She's a queen all right, all right," the sophisticated youth cheered
him. "Git onto them lovely wax-like hands. Say, you know honest, on the
level, she's worth the whole price of admission."

John, still chaperoned by this sagacious and helpful youth, made his way
to the clerk's desk and proceeded to give his name and address and
request that his purchases should be delivered in the morning.

"Deliver nothin'," said the clerk pleasantly. "Do you suppose we'd 'a
let you have the goods at that price if we could 'a stored 'em
overnight? Our lease is up," he continued consulting his Ingersoll
watch, "in just fifteen minutes. In a quarter of an hour we hand over
the keys and what's left of the fixtures to the landlord. He's let the
store for to-morrow to a Christmas-tree ornaments merchant."

"Then I suppose I'll have to get an expressman. Where is the nearest, do
you know?"

"Expressman!" exclaimed the sharp youth. "Well, I guess the nearest
would be about Three Hundred and Fifty-second Street and _then_ he'd
have a load and a jag. No, sir, it's the faithful cab for yours. There's
a row of cabs just on the edge of the square. I could go over and get
you a hansom."

"Thank you," said John, "I wish you would." But a glance at his
languishing companion made him add, "I guess you had better make it a
four-wheeler. Hansom-riding would be pretty cold for a lady without a
coat."

"All right," said the sharp youth. "You bring her out on the sidewalk
and I'll get the hurry-up wagon. Say!" he halted to suggest, "you know
what you'll look like, don't you?--riding around with that smile. When
the lights flush you, you'll look just like a bridal party from
Hoboken."

Leaving this word of comfort behind him, he proceeded to imperil his
life among trolley cars and traffic, while John engaged the lady and
urged her to motion.

He discovered that, supported at the waistline, she could be wheeled
very nicely. He forced the muff over her upraised right hand, so that it
somewhat concealed her face, and through an aisle respectfully cleared
by the onlookers he led her to the open air. There he propped her
against the show-window and turned in search of the cab and his new
friend. In doing so he came face to face with an old one.

"Why, hello John!" said Frederick Trevor, a man who had an office in his
building and an interest in his sister. "Who would have thought of
meeting you here?"

"Or you," retorted John. "But since you are here, you can help me in a
little difficulty."

"Not now, old chap," said Frederick, "I'm in a bit of a hurry. See you
about it to-morrow. Well, so long. Don't let me keep you from your
friend."

"Friend!" stormed John and then following the directions of Trevor's
eyes, he descried a blue-clad, golden-haired young lady lolling against
the window, trying with a giant chiffon muff to smother a fit of
hilarious laughter. One arched and smiling eye showed above the muff and
the whole figure was instinct with Bacchanalian mirth. "Why that's," he
began to explain, but young Trevor had vanished into the crowd.

Presently the cab with the smart youth inside drew up to the curb and
Sedyard, with a new self-consciousness, put his arm around the blue
figure and trundled her across the sidewalk. The cabman threw his rug
across his horse's quarters and lumbered down to assist at the
embarkation of so fair a passenger. The smart youth held the door
encouragingly open and John proceeded, with much more strength than he
had expected to use, to heave the passenger aboard.

Even these preliminaries had attracted the nucleus of a crowd and the
smart youth grew restive.

"Aw, say Maudie," he urged when the lady stuck rigid catty-cornerwise
across the cab with her blue feathers pressed against the roof in one
corner, and her bird-cage skirt arrangement protruding beyond the
door-sill. "Aw, say Maudie, set down, why don't you, and take your
Trilbys in. This gent is going to take you carriage riding."

"What's the matter with her anyway," demanded the cabman. "Don't she
know how to set in a carriage?"

"No, she doesn't, she's only a wax figure," said John, "but I bought
her and now I'm determined to take her home. She'd better go up on the
box with you."

"What! her?" demanded the outraged Jehu. "Say, what do you take me for
anyway? Do you suppose I ain't got no friends just 'cause I drive a cab?
Why! I wouldn't drive up Broadway with them goo-goo eyes settin' beside
me, not for nothing you could offer, I wouldn't."

By this time the crowd had reached very respectable proportions although
there was nothing to see except the end of a blue gown hanging out of
the cab's open door. The sharp youth, the cabman and John took turns in
trying to adjust the lady to her environment. The rigidity and fragility
of her arms and head made this very difficult, and presently there
rolled upon the scene a policeman, large, Irish and chivalrous. It took
Patrolman McDonogh but a second, but one glance at the tableaux and one
whisper from the crowd to understand that a kidnapping atrocity was in
progress.

With wrath in his eye, he shouldered aside Sedyard and the cabman,
grabbed the smart youth, whose turn at persuasion was then on, and threw
him into the face of the crowd.

"Oh! but you're the villyans," he admonished them, and then addressed
the captive maid in reassuring tones.

"You're all right, Miss, now. You're no longer defenceless in this
wicked city. The arrum of the law is around you," he cried, encircling
her waist with that substantial member. "You're safe at last, come here
to me out of that."

"Oh! noble, noble man," cried an emotional woman in the crowd. "If all
officers were like you!"

Heartened by these words the noble, noble man exerted the arm of the
law and plucked the maiden out of the cab amid great excitement and
applause. But above the general murmur the shrill voice of the sharp
youth rent the air:

"Fathead," he cried, "you've broke her neck. Can't you see how her
head's goin' round and round?"

[Illustration: THE CHANGELESS SMILE AND THE DROOPING PLUMES MADE THREE
COMPLETE REVOLUTIONS AND NESTLED CONFIDINGLY UPON THE SHOULDER OF THE
LAW. Page 129.]

At this the emotional woman dropped to the sidewalk. "Lady fainted here,
officer," cried a gentleman. But the noble, noble officer had no time
for faints, and the lady was obliged to revive with only the assistance
of the cold stones and curiosity.

For the shrill voice had spoken truth. Something had given away in
Maudie's mysterious anatomy; the fair head, the changeless smile and the
drooping plumes made three complete revolutions and nestled confidingly
upon the shoulder of the Law.

"Here, none o' that," yelled Patrolman McDonogh quite reversing his
earlier diagnosis of the situation. "None of your flim-flams, if you
please. You go quiet and paceable with this gentleman. A little ride in
the air is what you need."

"That's right, officer," Sedyard interrupted. "That's how to talk to
her. I can't do a thing with her."

"Brute!" cried the emotional woman now happily restored. "It's officers
like him that disgraces the force."

Patrolman McDonogh turned to identify this blasphemer and Maudie's head,
deprived of its support, made another revolution and then dropped coyly
to her left shoulder. She looked so unspeakable in that attitude that
the cabman felt called upon to offer a little professional advice:

"She needs a checkrein," he declared, "an' she needs it bad," a remark
which so incensed Patrolman McDonogh that Sedyard decided to explain:

"Just disperse those people, will you," said he, "I want to talk to you."

The sharp youth relieved the officer of law of his fair burden and
posed her in a natural attitude of waiting beside the cab. McDonogh
cleared the sidewalk and hearkened to Sedyard's tale.

"So you see," said John in conclusion, "what I'm up against. I really
didn't want the dummy when I bought it and you can bet I'm tired of it
now. What I wanted was the clothes, and I guess the thing for me to do
is just to take them in the cab and leave the figure here."

"What!" thundered McDonogh. "You're going to leave a dummy without her
clothes here on my beat? Not if I see ye first, ye ain't, and if ye try
it on I'll run ye in."

"Say! I'll tell you what you want," piped up the still buoyant, smart
youth. "You need one of them open taxicabs.

"He needs a hearse," corrected the disgruntled cabman. "Somethin' she
can lay down in comfortable an' take in the sights through the windows."

"Now, he needs a taxi. He can leave her stand in the back all right,
but I guess," he warned John, "you'll have to sit in with her and hold
her head on."

And thus it was that Maudie left the scene. She left, too, the smart
youth, the cabman and the noble, noble officer. And as the taxi bumped
over the trolley tracks she, despite all Sedyard's efforts, turned her
head and smiled out at them straight over her near-princesse back.

"Gee!" said the smart youth, "ain't she the friendliest bunch of
calico."

"This case," said the noble Patrolman McDonogh with unpunctual
inspiration, "had ought to be looked into by rights."

"Chauffeur," said John Sedyard to the shadowy form before him, "just
pick out the darkest streets, will you?"

"Yes, sir," answered the chauffeur looking up into the bland smile and
the outstretched hand above him. "I'll make it if I can but if we get
stopped, don't blame me."

A year later, or so it seemed to John Sedyard, the taxicab, panting with
indignation at the insults and interferences to which it had been
subjected, turned into Sedyard's eminently respectable block and drew up
before his eminently handsome house.

He paid and propitiated the chauffeur, took his lovely burden in his
arms and staggered up the steps with the half regretful feeling of one
who steps out of the country of adventure back to prosaic things. He
found his latchkey, opened his door and drew Maudie into the hall. And
on the landing half-way up the stairs stood his sister Edith, evidently
the bearer of some pleasant tidings.

Maudie's smile flashed up at her from John's shoulder. Edith stared,
stiffened, and retraced her steps. John wheeled the figure into the
reception-room and thus addressed it:

"Listen to me, you dumbhead. You may think this adventure is over.
Well, so did I, but I tell you now it's only just beginning. If you are
not mighty careful you will be wrecking a home. So keep your mouth
shut," he charged her, "and do nothing till you hear from me!"

Maudie smiled archly, coyly, confidentially, and he went upstairs.

In the sitting-room, he found gathered together his mother, his sister
and Dick Van Plank, Mary's young brother and a student at Columbia. John
was supported through Edith's first remark and the look with which she
accompanied it by the memory of her goodness to Mary and by the
anticipation of the fun which Maudie might be made to provide.

"I wish to say, John," she began, before any one else had time to speak,
"that I've said _nothing_ to mother or Dick, and I think it would be
better if you didn't. I can attend to the case if you leave it to me."

"Like you," said John shortly. "Who told you she is a 'case.' Mother,"
he went on addressing that gentle knitter by the fire, "I want you to
come downstairs."

"She shall do nothing of the kind!" cried Edith, and as Mrs. Sedyard
looked interrogatively from one to another of her children, her daughter
swept on. "John must be crazy, I saw him come in with a--a person--who
never ought to be in a house like this."

"I'd like to know why not?" stormed John. "You don't know a thing about
her. _I_ don't know much for that matter, but when I came across her
down on Union Square, just turned out of a shop where she had been
working, mother, I made up my mind that I would bring her right straight
home, and that Edith would be decent to her. You can see that Edith does
not intend to be."

"But my dear boy," faltered Mrs. Sedyard, "was not that a very reckless
thing to do? I know of an institution where you could send her."

"Oh! yes, yes," said John. "And I suppose I might have handed her over
to a policeman," he added, thinking of his attempt in this direction,
"but I didn't. The sight of her so gentle and uncomplaining in that
awful situation at this time of general rejoicing was too much for me."

He felt this to be so fine a flight and its effect upon Dick was so
remarkable, that he went on in a voice, as his mother always remembered,
"that positively trembled at times."

"How was I, a man strong and well-dowered, to pass heartlessly by like
the Good Samaritan--"

"There's something wrong with that," Dick interposed.

But John was not to be deflected. "What, mother, would you have thought
of your son if he left that beautiful figure--for she is beautiful--"

"You don't say," said Dick.

"To be buffeted by the waves of 'dead man's curve?'"

"Oh, how awful!" murmured the old lady. "How _perfectly_ dreadful."

It was at this point that Dick Van Plank unostentatiously left the room.

"But I didn't do it, mother," cried John, thumping his chest and anxious
to make his full effect before the return of an enlightened and possibly
enlightening Dick. "No, I thought of this big house, with only us three
in it, and I said 'I'll bring her home.' Edith will love her. Edith will
give her friendship, advice, guidance. She will even give her something
to wear instead of the unsuitable things she has on. And what do I
find?" He paused and looked around dramatically and warningly as Dick,
with a beautified grin, returned. "Does Edith open her heart to her?
No. Does Edith open her arms to her? No. All that Edith opens to her is
the door which leads--who can tell where, whither?"

"I can tell," said Dick, "it leads right straight to my little diggings.
If Edith throws her out, I'll take her in."

"Oh, noble, noble man," ejaculated John remembering the emotional woman,
"but ah! that must not be. I took her hand in mine--by the way, did I
tell you, she has beautiful little hands, not at all what I should have
expected."

"You did not," said Dick. "And now that'll be about all from you. You're
just about through."

"My opinion is," said Edith darkly, "that you are both either crazy or
worse."

"Go down and see her for yourself," urged Dick, "so quiet, so
reserved--hush! hark! she's coming up. Now be nice to her whatever you
feel! I'll be taking her away in a minute or two."

But it was Mary Van Plank who came in. Mary, all blooming and glowing
from the cold.

"Who's that in the reception-room?" she asked when the greetings were
over and she was warming her slender hands before the fire. "She's the
prettiest dear. She was standing at the window and she smiled so sweetly
at me as I came up the steps."

John looked at Dick.

"Yes," admitted that unabashed delinquent, "I left her at the window
when I came up."

"Alas! poor child," sighed John, looking out into the night. "She'll be
there soon."

"What is she going out for at this time?" Mary demanded. "I quite
thought that she, too, had come to dinner. Who is she, Mrs. Sedyard?"

Upon her mother's helpless silence, Edith broke in with the story as
she felt she knew it. Union Square, the discharged shopgirl, John's
quixotic conduct. And John watched Mary with a lover's eye. He had not
intended that she should be involved. A moment of her displeasure, even
upon mistaken grounds, was no part of his idea of a joke.

But there was no displeasure in Mary's lovely face.

"Why, of course, he brought her home," she echoed Edith's indignant
peroration. "What else could he do?"

"Well, for one thing he could have taken her to the Margaret Louise
Home, that branch of the Y.W.C.A., on Sixteenth Street, only a few
blocks from where he found her."

"Oh! Edith," Mary remonstrated. "The Maggie Lou! And you know they would
not admit her. Who would take a friendless girl to any sort of an
institution at this season? John couldn't have done it! I think he's an
old dear to bring her right straight home. Let's go down and talk to
her. She must be wondering why we all leave her so long alone."

"No, you don't," said Dick. "Edith didn't tell you the whole story. The
girl," and he drew himself up to a dignity based on John's, "is under
_my_ protection."

"Your protection!" repeated his amazed sister.

"Precisely. _My_ protection. Edith declines to receive this helpless
child. Therefore, I have offered her the shelter of my roof."

"His roof," explained Mary to Mrs. Sedyard, "is the floor of the hall
bedroom above his. It measures about nine by six. So the thing to do,
since of course, Dick is only talking nonsense, is to let me take the
girl around to the studio until John and I can plan an uninstitutional
future for her."

"You may do just as you please," said Edith coldly. "I have given my
opinion as to what should be done with her. It has been considered, by
persons more experienced than you, the opinion of an expert. Girls of
her history and standards are not desirable inmates for well-ordered
homes. I shall have nothing to do with her."

"How about it, Mary?" asked her brother. "Are you willing to risk her in
the high-art atmosphere of the studio?"

"I'm glad to," Mary answered. "It's not often that one gets a chance of
being a little useful, and doesn't the Christmas Carol say, 'Good will
to men.' I'm going down to see her now."

"You're a darling," cried John. "True blue right through. Now, we'll all
go down and arrange the transfer. But, first, I want to give Edith one
more chance. Do you finally and unreservedly--"

"I do," said Edith promptly.

"And you, Mary, are you sure of yourself? Suppose that, when you see
her, you change your mind?"

"I've given my word,", she answered. "I promise to take her."

"That's all I want," said John.

       *       *       *       *       *

"How could you, John? How could you?" sobbed Edith. "How could you tell
us--?"

"I told you nothing but the absolute truth. I meant her to be your
Christmas present, but you have resigned her 'with all her works and all
her pomps' to Mary."

"Ah! but if I refuse to take her from Edith?" Mary suggested.

"Then I get her," answered Dick blithely, "and she'd be safer with me. I
know what you two girls are thinking of. You are going to borrow her
clothes and make a Cinderella of her. They are what you care about. But
I love her for herself, her useless hands, her golden hair, her lovely
smile--well, no, I guess we'll cut out the smile," he corrected when
Maudie, agitated by the appraising hands of the two girls, swung her
head completely round and beamed impartially upon the whole assembly.
"It don't look just sincere to me."

But there was no insincerity about Maudie. She was just as
sweet-tempered as she looked. Uncomplainingly, she allowed herself to be
despoiled of her finery and wrapped in a sheet while Mary wriggled
ecstatically in the heavenly blue dress, pinned the plumed hat on her
own bright head and threw the muff into a corner of the darkened
drawing-room when she found that it interfered with the free expression
of her gratitude to John.

And some months later when the trousseau was in progress, the once
despised Christmas guest, now a member in good-standing of Mary's
household, did tireless service, smilingly, in the sewing-room.



"WHO IS SYLVIA?"


"Lemon, I think," said Miss Knowles, in defiance of the knowledge, born
of many afternoons, that he preferred cream. She took a keen and
mischievous pleasure in annoying this hot-tempered young man, and she
generally succeeded. But to-day he was not to be diverted from the
purpose which, at the very moment of his entrance, she had divined.

"Nothing, thank you," he answered. "I'll not have any tea. I came in
only for a moment to tell you that I'm going to be married."

"Again?" she asked calmly, as though he had predicted a slight fall of
snow. But her calm did not communicate itself to him.

"Again?" he repeated hotly. "What do you mean by 'again?'"

"Now, Jimmie," she remonstrated, as she settled herself more
comfortably among her pillows and centered all her apparent attention
upon a fragile cup and a small but troublesome sandwich, "don't be
savage. I only mean that you always tell me so when you find an
opportunity. That you even manufacture opportunities--some of them out
of most unlikely material. A chance meeting in a cross-town car; an
especially _forte_ place in an opera; the moment when a bishop is saying
grace or a host telling his favorite story. And yet you expect me to be
surprised to hear it now! Here in my own deserted drawing-room with the
fire lighted and the lamps turned low. You forget that one is allowed to
remember."

"You allow yourself to forget when you choose and to remember when you
wish: You are--"

"And to whom are you going to be married? To the same girl? Do you
know, I think she is not worthy of you?"

"She is not," he acquiesced, and she, for a passing moment, seemed
disconcerted. "Yet she is," he continued, cheered by this slight
triumph, "the most persistent, industrious and deserving of all the
young persons who, attracted by my great position and vast wealth, are
pressing themselves or being pressed by designing relatives upon my
notice."

His hostess laughed softly.

"Make allowances for them," she pleaded. "You know very few men can
rival your advantages. The sixth son of a retired yet respectable stock
broker, and an income of four thousand a year derived from a small but
increasing--shall we say increasing--?"

"Diminishing; incredible as it may seem, diminishing."

"From a small but diminishing law practice. And with these you must
mention your greatest charm."

"Which is?"

"Your humility, your modesty, your lack of self-assertiveness. Do you
think she recognizes that? It is so difficult to fully appreciate your
humility."

Jimmie grinned. "She's up to it," said he. "She knows all about it.
She's as clever, as keen, as clear-sighted."

"Is she, perhaps, pleasing to the eye?" asked Miss Knowles idly. "Clever
women are often so--well, so--"

Jimmie gazed at her across the little tea-table. He filled his eyes with
her. And, since his heart was in his eyes, he filled that, too. After a
moment he made solemn answer:

"She is the most beautiful woman God ever made."

"Ah, now," said Miss Knowles, returning her cup to its fellows and
turning her face, and her mind, more entirely to him, "now we grow
interesting. Describe her to me."

"Again?" Jimmie plagiarized.

"Yes, again. Tell me, what is she like?"

"She is like," he began so deliberately that his hostess, leaning
forward, hung upon his words, "she is exactly like--nothing." The
hostess sat back. "There was never anything in the least like her. To
begin with, she is fair and young and slim. She is tall enough, and
small enough and her eyes are gray and black and blue."

"She sounds disreputable, your paragon."

"And her eyes," he insisted, "are gray in the sunlight, blue in the
lamplight, and black by the light of the moon."

"And in the firelight?"

He rose to kick the logs into a greater brightness; and when he had
studied her glowing face until it glowed even more brightly, he
answered:

"In the firelight they are--wonderful. She has--did I tell you?--the
whitest and smallest of teeth."

"They're so much worn this year," she laughed, and wondered the while
what evil instinct tempted her to play this dangerous game; why she
could not refrain from peering into the deeper places of his nature to
see if her image were still there and still supreme? Why should she,
almost involuntarily, work to create and foster an emotion upon which
she set no store, which indeed, only amused her in its milder
manifestations and frightened her when it grew intense? He showed
symptoms of unwelcome seriousness now, but she would have none of it.

"Go on," she urged. "Unless you give her a few more features she will be
like little Red Riding Hood's grandmother."

"And she has," he proceeded obediently, "eyebrows and eyelashes--"

"One might have guessed them."

"--beyond the common, long and dark and soft. The rest of her face is
the only possible setting for her eyes. It is perfection."

"And is she gentle, womanly, tender? Is she, I so often wonder, good
enough to you?"

"She treats me hundreds of times better than I deserve."

"Doesn't she rather swindle you? Doesn't she let you squander your
time?"--she glanced at the clock--"your substance?"--she bent to lay her
cheek against the violets at her breast--"your affection upon her--?"

"And how could she be kinder? And when I marry her--"

"And _if_," Miss Knowles amended.

"There's no question about it," he retorted. "She knows that I shall
marry her." Miss Knowles looked unconvinced. "She knows that she will
marry me." Miss Knowles looked rebellious. "She knows that I shall never
marry anyone else." Miss Knowles took that apparently for granted.

"Dear boy!" said she.

"That I have waited seven years for her."

"Poor boy!" said she.

"That I shall wait seven more for her."

"Silly boy!" said she.

"And so I stopped this afternoon to tell her that I'm coming home to
marry her in two or three months."

"Coming home?" she questioned with not much interest. "Where are you
going?"

"To Japan on a little business trip. One of the big houses wants to get
some papers and testimony and that sort of thing out of a man who is
living in a backwoods village there for his health--and his liberty.
None of their own men can afford time to go. And I got the chance, a
very good one for me--but I tire you."

"No; oh, no," said Miss Knowles politely. "You are very interesting."

"Then you shouldn't fidget and yawn. You lay yourself open to
misinterpretation. To continue: a very great chance for me. The firm is
a big firm, the case is a big case, and it will be a great thing for me
to be heard of in connection with it."

"Some nasty scandal, of course."

"Not exactly. It is the Drewitt case. I wonder if you heard anything
about it."

"For three months after the thing happened," she assured him with a
flattering accession of interest, "I heard nothing about anything else.
Poor, dear father knew him, to his cost, you know. I heard that there
was to be a new investigation and another attempt at a settlement. And
now you're going to interview the man! And you're going to Japan! Oh,
the colossal luck of some people! You will write to me--won't you?--as
soon as you see him, and tell me all about him. How he looks, what he
says, how he justifies himself. O Jimmie, dear Jimmie, you will surely
write to me?"

"Naturally," said Jimmie, and his thin, young face looked happier than
it had at any other time since the beginning of this conversation;
happier than it had in many preceding conversations with this very
unsatisfying but charming interlocutor. "I always do. Sometimes when
your mood has been particularly, well, unreceptive, I have thought of
going away so that I might write to you. Perhaps I could write more
convincingly than I can talk." A cheering condition of things for a
lawyer, he reflected.

"But this is a different and much more particular thing," she insisted
with a cruelty of which her interest made her unconscious. "I have a
sort of a right to know on account of poor, dear father. I shall make a
list of questions and you will answer them fully, won't you? Then I
shall be the only woman in New York to know the true inwardness of the
Drewitt affair. When do you start?"

"To-morrow morning. I shall be away for perhaps three months, and then,"
doggedly, "then I'm coming home to be married. I came in to tell you."

"And if I don't quite believe you?"

"I shall postpone the ceremony. Shall we say indefinitely, some time in
the summer?"

"Not even then. Never, I think. That troublesome girl is beginning--she
feels that she ought to tell you--"

"That there is another 'another'?"

"Yes, I fear so."

"Who will be in town for the next three months?"

"Again, I fear so."

"Then that's all right," said the optimistic Jimmie. "There never was a
man--save one, oh, lady mine--who could, for three months, avoid boring
you. When he holds forth upon every subject under the sun and stars you
will think longingly of me and of the endless variety of my one topic,
'I'm going to marry you.'"

"But if he should make it his?"

"I defy him to do it. There is no guise in which he could clothe the
idea which would not remind you instantly of me. If he should be
poetical: well, so was I when we were twenty-one. If he should give you
gifts of great price: well, so did I in those Halcyon days when I had an
allowance from my Governor and toiled not. If his is an outdoor wooing,
you will inevitably remember that I taught you to ride, to skate, to
drive, and to play golf. If he should attack you musically, you will be
surprised at the number of operas we've heard together and of duets
we've sung together. And so, in the words of my friend, fellow-sufferer,
and name-sake, Mr. Yellowplush, 'You'll still remember Jeames.'"

"That's nonsense!" cried Miss Knowles. "I've tried to be fond of you--I
_am_ fond of you and accustomed to you. The fatal point is that I am
accustomed to you. You say you never bore me. Well, you don't. And that
other men do. Well, you're right. But people don't marry people simply
because they don't bore each other."

"Your meaning is clearer than your words and much more correct. This
really essential consideration is, alas, frequently not considered."

"People should marry," said Miss Knowles with a sort of consecrated
earnestness--the most deadly of all the practiced phases of her
coquetry--"for love. Now, I'm not in love with you. If I were, the very
idea of your going away would make me miserable. And do I seem
miserable? Am I lovelorn? Look at me carefully and tell the truth."

Jimmie obeyed, and the contemplation of his hostess seemed to depress him.

"No," he agreed gloomily, "you seem to bear up. No one, looking at your
face, could guess that your heart was in--was in--" Jimmie halted,
vainly searching for the poetical word. Miss Knowles supplied it.

"In torn and bleeding fragments," she supplemented. "No, Jimmie, I'm
sorry. You've laid siege to it in every known way, and yet there's not a
feather out of it."

"There are two ways," Jimmie pondered audibly, "in which I have not
wooed you. One is _à la_ cave dweller. I might knock you on the head
with a knobby club and drag you to my lair. But since my lair is some
blocks away, and since those blocks are studded with the interested
public and the uninterested police, the cave dweller's method will not
serve. There remains one other. I stand before you, so; I take your
hand, so; I may even have to kiss it, so. And I say: 'Dear one, I want
you. Every hour of my life I want you. I want you to take care of, to
work for, to be proud of. I want you to let me teach you what life
means. I want you for my dearest friend, for my everlasting sweetheart,
for my wife.' And when I've said it, I kiss your hand, so; gently, once
again, and wait for your answer."

"Dear boy," said she with an unsteady little laugh, for--as always--she
shrank from his earnestness after she had deliberately roused it, "I
wish you wouldn't talk like that. You make me feel so shallow-pated and
so small. I don't want to talk about life and knowledge and love. And I
don't want any husband at all. What makes you so tragic this afternoon?
You're spoiling our last hour together. Come, be reasonable. Tell me
what you think of Drewitt. Why do you suppose he did it? Did his wife
and daughter know?"

"You're quite sure about the other thing?"

"Unalterably sure. And, Jimmie, dear old Jimmie, there are two things I
want you to do for me. The first is, to abandon forever and forever this
'one topic' of which, you are so proud. Will you?"

"I will not," said Jimmie.

"And the second is: to fall in love with a girl on the boat. There is
always a girl on a boat. Will you?"

"I will," said Jimmie promptly. "It would be just what you deserve."

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Knowles bore the absence of her most persistent and accustomed
suitor with a fortitude not predicted by that self-confident young man.
She danced and drove, lunched and dined, rode and flirted with
undiminished zest, bringing, each day, new energy and determination to
the task of enjoying herself.

The enjoyment of her neighbors seemed less important. She preferred that
her part in the cotillion should be observed by a frieze of unculled
wall-flowers. A drive was always pleasanter if it were preceded by a
skirmish with her mother in which Miss Knowles should come off
victorious with the victoria, while Mrs. Knowles accepted the _coup de
grâce_ and the coupé. A flirtation--if her languid, seeming innocent
monopoly of a man's time and thoughts could be called by so gross a
name--was more satisfying if it implied the breaking of vows and hearts
and the mad jealousy of some less gifted sister; if it had, like a
Russian folk song, a sob and a wail running through it.

Jimmie had never approved of these amusements and had never hesitated to
express his opinion of them in terms which were intelligible even to her
vanity. From the days when they had played together in the park she had
dreaded his honesty and feared his judgments. "You're such a poacher,
Sylvia," he told her once, "such an inveterate, diabolical Fly-by-Night,
Will-o'-the-Wisp poacher. I sometimes think you'd condescend to take a
shot at me if you didn't know that I'm fair game. But you like to kill
two birds with one stone; smash two hearts with one smile."

During the weeks immediately following the departure of her mentor she
devoted herself whole-heartedly to her favorite form of sport. Besides
her unscrupulousness she was armed with her grandfather's name, the
riches of her dead father, her own beauty, and a mind capable of much
better things. And, since Jimmie's presence would have seriously
interfered with the pleasures of the chase, she was rather glad than
otherwise that he was not there to see--and comment.

Her mother bore his absence with a like stoicism. That astute matron had
long and silently deprecated the regularity with which her Louis Quinze
had groaned beneath one hundred and eighty pounds of ineligibility, the
frequency with which a tall troup horse of spectacular gait and
snortings could be descried beside her daughter's English hunter in the
park, the strange chain of coincidence by which at theater, house party,
dinner, or even church, Jimmie smiling and unabashed, would find his
way to her daughter's side and monopolize her daughter's attention.

In the excitement of the first stages of one of her expeditions into
another's territory, Jimmie's first letter arrived. It was mailed at
Honolulu, and consisted obediently of the cryptic statement: "There is
no girl on the boat. She is a widow, but lots of fun." And it changed
the character of the invasion from a harmless survey of the land to a
determined attack upon its fortresses. And so Gilbert Stevenson,
millionaire dock owner, veteran of many seasons and more campaigns,
found himself engaged to Miss Sylvia Knowles just when, after a long and
careful courtship, he had decided to bestow his hand and name upon the
daughter of the retired senior partner of his firm: "that dear little
girl of old Marvin's," as he described the lady of his choice, "his only
child and a good child, too." He bore his surprise and honors with a
courteous pomposity. Miss Knowles bore the situation with restraint and
decorum. But that "dear little girl of old Marvin's" could not bring
herself to bear it at all and wept away her modest claims to prettiness
and spirit in one desolate month.

Like many a humbler poacher, Sylvia Knowles found an embarrassment in
disposing of her victims after she had bagged them, and Mr. Gilbert
Stevenson was peculiarly difficult in this regard. She did not want to
keep him. In fact, the engagement upon which she was enduring
congratulations had been as surprising to her as to her fiancé. And the
methodical manifestations of his regard contrasted wearyingly with the
erratic events in another friendship in which nothing was to be counted
upon except the unaccountable. So that when vanquished suitors withdrew
discomfited and returned to renew an earlier allegiance or to swear a
new one; when "that good child of old Marvin's" had withdrawn her
pitiful little face and her disappointment into the remote fastness of
settlement work; when her mother resigned all claims upon the victoria
and loudly affirmed her preference for the brougham, then things in
general--and Mr. Stevenson in particular--began to bore Miss Knowles,
and she began to look forward, with an emotion which would have
surprised her betrothed, to foreign mails and letters. She considerately
spared Mr. Stevenson this disquieting intelligence, having found him in
matters of honor and rectitude as archaic and as fastidious as Jimmie
himself. "Has a nasty suspicious mind," she reflected, "and a nasty
jealous disposition. I wonder if he will expect me to give up all my
friends when I marry him."

Yet even Mr. Stevenson could have found no cause for jealousy in the
matter of the letters. He might have objected to their being written at
all, but beyond that they were innocuous. For all the personality they
contained they might have been transcripts of Jimmie's reports to his
firm. He clung doggedly to his prescribed topics, and he could not have
devised a surer method of arousing the curiosity and the interest of
this spoiled young person. She spent hours, which should have been
devoted to the contemplation of approaching bliss, in reading between
the prosaic lines, in searching for sentiment in a catalogue of railway
stations, for tenderness in description of eccentric _tables d'hôte_.
Finding no trace of his old gallantry in all the closely written pages,
she attributed its absence to obedience and accepted it as the higher
tribute to her power. She was forced to judge her lover's longing by the
quantity rather than by the ardor of his words, and to detect the
yearning of a true lover's heart through such effectual disguise as:

"Drewitt is a fine old chap; as placid and as bright as this country
and a great deal more so than anyone you'll see in the windows of the
Union League Club. He received me so cordially that I felt awkward about
introducing the object of my visit, but when I had admired everything in
sight from the mountains in the distance to the rug I was sitting on, I
finally faced the situation and did it.

"'Dear me,' said he, 'are those directors still troubling themselves
about their transaction with me?' I admitted apologetically that they
were; that their books refused to close over the gap left by the
vanishing of $50,000, and that he was earnestly requested to return to
New York and to lend his acknowledged business acumen, etc., etc. He
never turned a hair. Said they--and I--were very kind. Nothing could
give him greater pleasure. But the ladies preferred Japan. Therefore he,
etc., etc., etc. But he would be delighted to explain the matter fully
to me; to supply me with all the figures and information I desired. (And
that, of course, is as much as I am expected to bring back.) But he
would have to postpone his return until--and you should have seen the
whimsical, quizzical old eye of his--until the nations would agree upon
new extradition treaties. Then, of course, etc., etc., etc. Meanwhile,
as there was no immediate urgency about the matter, as he hoped that I
would stay with them for as long a time as I cared to arrange, he would
suggest that we should join Mrs. Drewitt in the garden. She would
welcome news of our American friends. 'I need not ask you,' he added as
we went out through the wall-like people in a dream or a fairy tale, to
be discreet and casual in your conversation with the ladies. My daughter
is away this week visiting an old friend of hers who is married to a
missionary in a neighboring village. She knows the reason for our being
here. My wife does not. It need not be discussed with either of them.'
I should think not!

"And there in the garden was Mrs. Drewitt, a fat little old lady in a
flaming kimono and spectacles. She wears her hair as your Aunt Matilda
does, stuck to her forehead in scrolls. 'Water curls,' I think, is the
technical term. She was holding the head of a dejected marigold while a
native propped it up with a stick. It seemed she remembered my mother,
and we spent a delightful tea-time in a garden which was a part of the
same dream as the phantom wall. Then the old gentleman led me off by
myself and wanted to hear all about Broadway. Whether Oscar was still at
the Waldorf. Whether Fields and Weber made 'a good thing of it' apart.
Then the old lady led me off by myself and wanted to know who was now
the pastor of the Brick Church, and what was Maude Adam's latest play,
and whether skirts were worn long or short in the street.

"'You see this dress,' she said, 'is not really made for a woman of my
age. In fact, in this country all the bright and pretty colors are worn
by the waitresses. Geishas they call them. But Mr. Drewitt always liked
bright colors, and red is very becoming to me.' She was such a wistful,
pathetic, and incongruous little figure that I said something about
hoping that she would soon be in New York again. 'But,' she said, 'Mr.
Drewitt cannot leave his work here. Didn't you know that he is stationed
here to report the changes of the weather to Washington? It is very
important, and we can't go home until he is recalled. And, besides,'"
she went on with a half sob in her voice and a look in her eyes that
made her seem as young as her own daughter, 'and, besides, I would much
rather be here. In New York my husband was too busy. He had so many
calls upon his time, so many people to meet, and so many places to go,
that sometimes I hardly felt as though he belonged to me. But now for
days and weeks at a time we are together. And he has no business
worries. And his salary,' she brightened up to tell me, 'is almost as
good here as it used to be in the Trust Company for _much_ harder work.'
She's a sweet old thing--must have been quite a beauty once--and I wish
you could see old Drewitt's manner with her--so courteous and
affectionate--and hers with him--so adoring and confiding. It's
wonderful!

"It will take some time to get all the information I want from the old
man. He has the papers and he is quite willing to explain everything,
but we spend the larger part of every day in entertaining the old lady
and keeping her happy and unsuspicious."

A series of such letters covering several placid weeks reduced Miss
Knowles to a condition of moodiness and abstraction which all the
resources at her command failed to dissipate. In vain were the
practical blandishments of Mr. Stevenson; in vain her mother's shopping
triumphs; in vain were dinners given in her honor and receptions at
which she reigned supreme. None of her other experiments had resulted in
an engagement--an immunity which she now humbly attributed to the
watchful Jimmie--and she was dismayed at the determined and
matter-of-fact way in which she was called upon to fulfil her promise.
"If only Jimmie were at home!" she realized, "he would save me." This
was when the happy day was yet a great way off. "If only Jimmie would
come home," she wailed as the weeks grew to months, and even the comfort
of his letters failed her. For two months there had been no news of him,
and Fate--and Mr. Stevenson--were very near when, at last, she heard
from him again. He sent a telegram nearly as brief as his first letter.

"I am coming home," it announced, "I am coming home, and I'm going to
be married."

And the simple little words, waited for so long, remembered so clearly,
and coming, at last, so late, did what all Jimmie's more eloquent
pleadings had failed to do.

Sylvia Knowles, a creature made of vanities, realized that she loved
better than all her other vanities her place in this one man's regard.
No contemplation of Mr. Stevenson's estate on the Hudson, his shooting
lodge on a Scottish moor, his English abbey, and his Italian villa could
nerve her for the first meeting with Jimmie, could fortify her against
his first laughing repetition:

"_You_ married to Gilbert Stevenson," or his later scornful, "You
_married_ to Gilbert Stevenson."

So she dismissed Mr. Stevenson with as little feeling as she had annexed
him, and sought comfort in the knowledge that her mother was furious,
her own fortune ample, and that marrying for love was a graceful,
becoming pose and an unusual thing to do.

Her rejected suitor bore his disappointment as correctly as he had borne
his joy. He stormed the special center of philanthropy in which old
Marvin's little girl had buried herself, and she was most incorrectly
but refreshingly glad to see him. She destroyed forever his poise and
his pride in it when she sat upon his unaccustomed knee, rested her
tired head upon his immaculate shirt front, and wept for very happiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

"And I remember," said Miss Knowles, "that you always take cream."

"Nothing, thank you," Jimmie corrected. "Just plain unadulterated tea. I
learned to like it in Japan. But don't bother about it. I haven't long
to stay. I came in to tell you--"

"That you're going to be married."

"How did you guess?"

"You didn't leave me to guess. Your telegram."

"Ah, yes!" quoth Jimmie. "I sent a lot of them before I sailed. But in
my letters--"

"You mentioned absolutely nothing but that stupid old Drewitt affair.
Never a word of the places you saw, the people you met, or even the
people you missed. Nothing of the customs, the girls, the clothes.
Nothing but that shuffling old Drewitt and his stuffy old wife. Nothing
about yourself."

"Orders are orders," quoth Jimmie, "and those were yours to me. I
remember exactly how it came about. We had been talking personalities. I
have an idea that I made rather a fool of myself, and that you told me
so. Then you, wisely conjecturing that I might write as foolishly as I
had talked, made out a list of subjects for my letters. My name, I noted
with some care, was not upon that list."

"Jimmie," said Miss Knowles, "I was cruel and heartless that day. I've
thought about it often."

"You've thought!" cried the genial Jimmie. "How had you time to think?
Where were all those 'anothers'?"

"There were none," lied Miss Knowles soulfully with a disdainful
backward glance toward Mr. Stevenson. "For a time I thought there was
one. But whenever I thought of that last talk of ours--you remember it,
don't you?"

"Of course. I told you I was going to be married as soon as I came home.
Well, and so I am."

"So you are. But I used to think that if you hesitated to tell me; if
you felt that I might still be hard about it and unsympathetic; if you
decided to confide no more in me--"

"But you would be sure to know. Even if I had not telegraphed I never
could have kept it a secret from you."

"Not easily. I should have been, as you observe, sure to know. Do you
remember how I always refused to believe you? It was not until you were
in that horrid Japan, where all the women are supposed to be
beautiful--"

"Yes," Jimmie acquiesced. "It was when I was in Japan."

"It was then that it began to seem possible that you would be married
when you came home. It was then that I began to realize that I didn't
deserve to be told of your plans. For I had been a fool, Jimmie. You had
been a fool, too, but not in the way you think. And so, if you will sit
where I sat that horrid day, we will begin that conversation all over
again and end it differently. The first speech was yours. Do you
remember it?"

"But I'm going to be married," said Jimmie.

"Good boy. He knows his lesson. And now I say, 'To the most beautiful
woman in the world?'"

"To the most beautiful woman God ever made. The dearest, the most
clever, the most simple."

"Simple," repeated Miss Knowles with some natural surprise. "Did you say
simple?"

"Simple and jolly and unaffected. As true and as bright as the stars.
And I'm going to marry her--"

"Now this," Miss Knowles interjected, "is where the difference comes.
You are to sit quite still and listen to me because a thing like
this--however long and carefully one had thought it out--is difficult in
the saying. So, I stand here before you where I can look at you; for
four months are long; and where you may, when I have quite finished,
kiss my hand again; for again four months are long. And I begin thus:
Jimmie, you are going to be married--"

"I told you first," cried Jimmie.

"But I knew it first," she countered, "to a woman who has learned to
love you during the past three months, but who could not do it more
utterly, more perfectly, if she had practiced through all the years that
you and I have been friends."

"So she says," Jimmie interrupted with sudden heat. "So she says. God
bless her!"

"And, ah, _how_ she is fond of you. 'Fond' is a darling of a word. It
keeps just enough of its old 'foolish' meaning to be human. Proud of
you, glad of you, fond of you--I think that this is, perhaps, the time
for you to kiss my hand."

"You're a darling," he said as he obeyed. "But what I can't
understand--"

"It's not your turn. You may talk after I finish if I leave anything for
you to say. See, I go on: You are going to marry--"

"The most beautiful woman in the world."

"That reminds me. What is she like? I've not heard her described for ages."

"Because there was no one in New York who could do justice to her."

"You are the knightliest of knights. Go on. Describe her."

"Well, she is neither very tall nor very small. But the grace of her,
the young, surpassing grace of her, makes you know as soon as your eyes
have rested on her that her height, whatever it chances to be, is the
perfect height for a woman. And then there is the noble heart of her.
What other daughter would have buried herself, as she has done, in a
little mountain village--"

Miss Knowles looked quickly about the luxurious room, then out upon the
busy avenue, then back at him, suspecting raillery. But he was staring
straight through her; straight into the land of visions. His eyes never
wavered when she moved slowly out of their range and sat, huddled and
white-faced, in the corner of a big chair.

"And all," Jimmie went on, "so bravely, so cheerily, that it makes
one's throat ache to see. And one's heart hot to see. Then there is the
beauty of her. Her hair is dark, her eyes are dark, but her skin is the
fairest in the world."

Miss Knowles pushed back a loose lace cuff and studied the arm it had
hidden. _La reine est morte_, she whispered, _morte, morte, morte_.

"But what puzzles me,", said the genial Jimmie, "is your knowing about
it all. I never wrote you a word of it, and as for Sylvia--by the way,
did you know that her name, like yours, is Sylvia?"

"Yes," said Miss Knowles, "I had even guessed that her name would be
Sylvia."

"You're a wonderful woman," Jimmie protested. "The most wonderful woman
in the world."

"Except?"

"Except, of course, Sylvia Drewitt."

"Ah, yes," said Miss Knowles. "Yes, of course."



THE SPIRIT OF CECELIA ANNE


"And all the rest and residue of my estate," read the lawyer, his
voice growing more impressive as he reached this most impressive clause,
"I give and bequeath to my beloved granddaughter and godchild Cecelia
Anne Hawtry for her own use and benefit forever."

The black-clothed relations whose faces had been turned toward the front
of the long drawing-room now swung round toward the back where a
fair-haired little girl, her hands spread guardian-wise round the new
black hat on her knees, lay asleep in her father's arms. For old Mrs.
Hawtry's "beloved granddaughter Cecelia Anne" was not yet too big to
find solace in sleep when she was tired and uninterested, being indeed
but nine years old and exceedingly small of stature and babyish of
habit. So she slept on and missed hearing all the provisions which were
meant to protect her in the enjoyment of her estate but which were
equally calculated to drive her guardian distracted.

"I leave nothing to my beloved son, James Hawtry," the document
continued, "because I consider that he has quite enough already. And I
leave nothing to his son, James Hawtry, Junior, the twin-brother of
Cecelia Anne Hawtry, because, though he and I have met but seldom, I
have formed the opinion that he is capable of winning his way in the
world without any aid from me."

James Hawtry, Junior, sitting beside the heiress, failed to derive much
satisfaction from this clause. If things were being given away, he was
not quite certain as to what "rest and residue" might mean, but if
things of any kind were being doled out he would fain have enjoyed them
with the rest.

Presently the lawyer read the final codicil and gathered his papers
together, then addressed the blank and disappointed assemblage with: "As
you have seen that all the minor bequests are articles of a household
nature--portraits, tableware and the like, 'portable property' as my
immortal colleague, Mr. Wemmick, would have said--I should suggest the
present to be an admirable time for their removal by the fortunate
legatees who may not again be in this neighbourhood. And now I have but
to congratulate the young lady who has succeeded to this property, a
really handsome property I may say, though the amount is not stated nor
even yet fully ascertained. If Miss Cecelia Anne Hawtry is present, I
should like to pay my respects to her and to wish her all happiness in
her new inheritance. I have never had the pleasure of meeting the
principal legatee. May I ask her to come forward and accept my
congratulations."

"Take her, Jimmie," commanded Mr. Hawtry, setting Cecelia down upon her
thin little black legs, while he tried to smooth her into presentable
shape in anticipation of the anxious cross-examination he was sure to
undergo when he returned with the children to his New York home and wife.

"She looked as fit as paint," he afterward assured that anxious
questioner. "I stood the bow out on her hair and pushed her dress down
just as I've seen you do hundreds of times. Jimmie helped, too, and I
declare to you, you'd have been as proud of those two kids as I was when
that boy led his little sister through the hostile camp. Funny, he felt
the hostility instantly, though of course, he didn't understand it. But
she--well, you know what a confiding little thing she is, and having
been asleep made her eyes look even more babyish than they always
do--walked beside him, smiling her soft little smile and looking about
three inches high in her little black dress."

"If I had been there," interrupted Mrs. Hawtry warmly, "I should have
murdered your sister Elizabeth before I allowed her to put that baby
into mourning. The black bow I packed for her hair would have been quite
enough."

"Well, she had it on. I saw it bobbing up the room while tenth and
fifteenth cousins seven or eight times removed, stared at it and at her.
But the person most surprised was old Debrett when Jimmie introduced them."

"'This is her,' remarked your son with more truth than polish, and I'm,
well, antecedently condemned, if that dry-as-dust old lawyer didn't
stoop and kiss her as he wished her joy."

"Ah, I'm glad he's as nice as that," said Mrs. Hawtry, "since he is to
be your co-trustee. However," she added a little wistfully, "I don't
like the idea of anybody dictating to us about the baby. It makes her
seem somehow not quite so much our very own. And we could have taken
care of her quite well without your mother's money and advice."

"Why, my dear," laughed her husband, "that's a novel attitude to adopt
toward a legacy. The baby is ours as much as she ever was. The advice is
as good as any I ever read. And the money will leave us all the more to
devote to Jimmie. There's the making of a good business man in Jimmie."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was part of what Mrs. Hawtry for a long time considered the
interference of Cecelia Anne's grandmother that the child should have a
monthly allowance, small while she was small and growing with her
growth. She was to be allowed to spend it without supervision and to
keep an account of it. At the end of each year the trustees were to
examine these accounts and to judge from them the trend of their ward's
inclinations. They would be then in a position to curb or foster her
leanings as their judgment should dictate.

Now, Cecelia Anne, restored to her friends from a wonderland sort of
dream, called going--West--with--papa--on--the--train--and--living--
with--Aunt--Elizabeth, was too full of narration and too excited by the
envious regard of untraveled playmates to trouble overmuch about that
scene in the long drawing-room which she had never clearly understood.
The first monthly payment of her allowance failed to connect itself in
her mind with the journey. Her predominant emotion on the subject of
legacies was one of ardent gratitude to Jimmie. He had given her a
quarter out of the change they had received at the toyshop where they
had purchased the most beautiful sloop-yacht they had ever seen or
dreamed of. A quarter for her very own; Jimmie's generosity and
condescension extended even further than this. He also allowed her, the
day being warm, to carry the yacht for a considerable part of their
homeward journey, and, when the treasure was exhibited upon the topmost
of their own front steps, he allowed her twice to pull the sails up and
down. When he went to Central Park to sail the _Jennie H_, that being as
near the feminine form of Jimmie Hawtry as their learning carried them,
James, Junior, frequently allowed his sister to accompany him and his
envious fellows. Then it was her proud privilege to watch the _Jennie
H's_ wavering course and to rush around the margin of the lake ready to
"stand by" to receive her beloved bowsprit wherever she should dock.
Then all proudly would she set the rudder straight again and turn the
_Jennie H_ back to the landing-stage where Jimmie, surrounded by his
cohorts, all calm and cool in his magnificence, awaited this first
evidence of "the trend of Cecelia Anne's inclinations."

Not quite a year elapsed before Mr. Hawtry's genial co-trustee visited
his little ward. The reading of the will had taken place in November,
and on the last week of the following June, Mr. Debrett, chancing to be
in New York, decided to cultivate the acquaintance of Cecelia Anne. Mrs.
Hawtry and the twins were by this time settled in their country home in
Westchester, and Debrett, driving up from the station in the evening
with Mr. Hawtry, found it difficult to accept the freckled, barelegged,
blue-jumpered form which he saw in the garden, polishing the spokes of a
bicycle, as the ward who had lived all these months in his memory: a
fragile little figure in funeral black. Never had he seen so altered a
child, he assured Mrs. Hawtry with many congratulations. She seemed
taller, heavier, more self-assured. But the smile with which she put a
greasy little hand into his extended hand was misty and babyish still.

Presently, while the two men rested with long chairs and long glasses
and Mrs. Hawtry ministered to them, Jimmie appeared on the scene and
after exchanging proper greetings turned to inspect Cecelia Anne and her
work. "I think you've got it bright enough," he said with kindly
condescension. "You can go and get dressed for dinner now. And to-morrow
morning if I'm not using the wheel maybe I'll let you use it awhile."

"Oh, fank you!" said Cecelia Anne who had never quite outgrown her
babyhood's lisp, "and can I have the saddle lowered so's I can reach the
pedals?"

"Oh, I s'pose so," said Jimmie grudgingly. "Sometimes you act just like
a girl. You give 'em something and they always want, more. Now you run
on and open the stable door. I'm goin' to try if I can ride right into
the harness-room without getting off. Don't catch your foot in the door
and don't get too near Dolly's hind legs."

When the children had vanished around the corner of the house, Mrs.
Hawtry turned to Mr. Debrett.

"There's the explanation of Cecelia Anne's ruggedness," said she. "She
and Jimmie are inseparable. He has taught her all kinds of boys'
accomplishments. And she's as happy as a bird if she's only allowed to
trot around after him. It doesn't seem to make her in the least ungentle
or hoydenish and I feel that she's safer with him than with the gossipy
little girls down at the hotel."

"Not a doubt of it," Debrett heartily endorsed. "She couldn't have a
better adviser. Her grandmother, a very clever lady by the way, had a
high opinion of your son's practical mind. A useful antidote, I should
say, to his sister's extreme gentleness."

He found further confirmation of old Mrs. Hawtry's acumen when Mr.
Hawtry proposed that they should look over Cecelia Anne's disbursement
account, kept by herself, as the will had specified.

Cecelia Anne was delighted with the idea. Jimmie had wandered out to see
about the sports that were going to be held on the Fourth of July, and
so the burden of explanation fell upon the little heiress. She drew her
account book from its drawer in her father's desk, settled herself
comfortably in the hollow of his arm and proceeded to disclose the
"trend of her inclinations" as is evidenced by her shopping list:

"One sloop yat _Jennie H_ swoped for hockey skates when it got cold.

One air riffle.

Three Tickets.

One riding skirt.

Two Tickets.

Six white rats two died.

Four Tickets.

Leather Stocking Tales. Three Books.

Three Tickets.

Four Boxing Gloves.

Eight Tickets.

One bull tarrier dog and collar he fought Len Fogerty's dog bit him all
up and father sent him away."

"I remember him," said Mr. Hawtry, "a well-bred beast but a holy terror,
go on dear."

"One Byccle.

Three Tickets.

Stanley's Darkest Africa two books but not very new.

One printing press.

Two Tickets.

Treasure Island. One Book."

"And that's all the big things," finished Cecelia Anne in evident
relief. "Jimmie wrote down the prices, wouldn't you like to see them?"

And she crossed to Mr. Debrett and laid the open book on his knee.

Mr. Debrett, as Cecelia Anne teetered up and down on her heels and toes
before him, read the list again, counted up the total expenditure and
admitted that his ward had got remarkably good value for her money.

"But what are all these 'tickets,' my dear?" he asked her.

"Eden Musee," answered Cecelia Anne. And the very thought of it drew her
to her mother's knee. "Jimmie and the boys used to take me there
Saturday afternoons in the winter to try to get my nerve up. They say,"
she admitted dolefully, "that I haven't got much. So they used to take
me to the Chamber of Horrors so's I'd get accustomed to life. That's
what Jimmie thought I needed. They used to like it, and I expect I'd
have liked it, too, if I could have kept my eyes open, but I never
could. I couldn't even _get_ them open when the boys stood me right
close to that gentleman having death throes on the ground after he'd
been hung on a tree. You can hear him breathing!"

"I know him well," said Mr. Debrett. "He is rather awful I must admit.
And now we'll talk about the books. Don't you care at all about 'Little
Men' and 'Little Women' or the 'Elsie Books?'"

"Jimmie says," Cecelia Anne made reply, "that 'Darkest Africa' is better
for me. It tells me just where to hit an elephant to give him the death
throes. He says the 'Elsie Books' wouldn't be any help to us even with a
buffalo. We're going to buy 'The Wild Huntress, or Love in the
Wilderness' next month. Jimmie thinks that's sure to get my nerve
up--being about a girl, you see--"

"And 'Treasure Island' now;" said her guardian, "did you enjoy that? It
came rather late in my life, but I remember thinking it a great book."

"It's great for nerve. Jimmie often reads me parts of it after I go to
bed at night. There's a poem in it--he taught me that by heart--and if
I think to say it the last thing before I go to sleep he says I'll get
so's _nothing_ can scare me."

"Recite it for Mr. Debrett," urged Mrs. Hawtry. And Cecelia Anne
obediently began, with a jerk of a curtsey and a shake of her delicate
embroideries and blue sash.

    "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest
    Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
    Drink and the devil had done for the rest
    Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"

Mr. Debrett's astonishment at this lullaby held him silent for some
seconds.

"You see, sir," Cecelia Anne explained, "if you _can_ go to sleep
thinking about that it shows your nerve. I can't. Not yet. But it never
makes me cry any more and Jimmie says that's something."

"I should say it was!" he congratulated her. "It's wonderful. And now in
the matter of dolls," he went on referring to the list, "no rag babies,
eh?"

"Oh, but she has beautiful dolls, Mr. Debrett," interposed her mother.
"She'll show them to you to-morrow morning, won't you honey-child? But
she did not buy them. They were given to her at Christmas and other
times. But really, since we came out here for the summer they've been
rather neglected. Their mother has been so busy."

"And Jimmie made me a house for them!" Cecelia Anne broke in. "And
furniture! And a front yard stuck right on to the piazza! But I don't
know, mother, whether I'd have time to show them to Mr. Debrett in the
morning. I'm pretty busy now. It's getting so near the race. And I pace
Jimmie _every_ morning."

"Ah! that reminds me," said her father, "Jimmie told me to send you to
bed at eight o'clock--one of the rules of 'training', you know--so say
good night to us all and put your little book back in the drawer.
You've kept it very nicely. I am sure Mr. Debrett agrees with me."

When the elders were alone, Mrs. Hawtry crossed over into the light and
addressed her guest.

"I can't have you thinking badly of Jimmie," she began, "or of us, for
allowing him to practically spend the baby's income. Every one of the
things on that list mark a stage in Cecelia Anne's progress away from
priggishness and toward health. I don't know just how much she realizes
her own power of veto in these purchases but I am sure she would never
exercise it against Jimmie. She's absolutely wrapped up in him and he's
wonderfully good and patient with her. Of course, you know, they're
twins although no one ever guesses it. They've shared everything from
the very first."

"In this combination," laughed Debrett, "the boy is 'father to the
girl' and the girl is 'mother to the boy.'"

"Precisely so," Mr. Hawtry replied, "and the mother part comes out
strong in this race and training affair. An old chap down at the
hotel--one of those old white-whiskered 'Foxey Grandpas' that no summer
resort should be without--has arranged a great race for his friends, the
children, on Fourth of July morning. The prize is to be the privilege of
setting off the fireworks in the evening."

"They'll run themselves to death," commented Debrett, who knew his young
America, "and is Jimmie to be one of the contestants?"

"He is," replied Hawtry, "it's a 'free for all' event and even Cecelia
Anne _may_ start if Jimmie allows it. She's not thinking much about that
though. You see, Jimmie has gone into training and she's his trainer. I
went out with them last Saturday morning to see how they manage. They
marched me down to an untenanted little farm, back from the road. Jimmie
carried the 'riffle' referred to in Cecelia Anne's text and a handful of
blank cartridges. Cecelia Anne carried Jimmie's sweater, a bath towel, a
large sponge, a small tin bucket and a long green bottle. I carried
nothing. I was observing, not interfering."

"Oh, that dear baby!" broke in Mrs. Hawtry, "such a heavy load!"

"She's thriving under it, my dear." Well, presently we arrived at our
destination, and I saw that those kids had worn a little path, not very
deep of course, all round what used to be rather a spacious 'door yard.'
The winning-post was the pump. By its side Cecelia Anne disposed her
burden like a theatrical 'dresser' getting things ready for his
principal. She hung her tin pail on the pump's snout and pumped it full
of water, laid it beside the bath towel, threw the sponge into it,
gave a final testing jerk to her tight little braids and divested
herself of her jumpers and the dress she wore under them. Then she
resumed the jumpers, took the rifle and crossed the 'track.' Jimmie,
meanwhile, had stripped to trousers and the upper part of his
bathing-suit, had donned his running shoes, set his feet in holes kicked
in the ground for that purpose and bent forward, his back professionally
hunched and in his hands the essential pieces of cork. Cecelia Anne
gabbled the words of starting, shut her eyes tightly, fired the rifle
into the air, threw it on the ground and set off after the swiftly
moving Jimmie. Early in his first lap she was up to him. As they passed
the pump, she was ahead. In the succeeding laps she kept a comfortable
distance in the lead, until the end of the third when she sprinted for
'home,' grabbed the towel and, as Jimmie came bounding up, wrapped him
in it, rubbed him down, fanned him with it, moistened his brow with
vinegar from the long bottle, tied the sweater around his neck by its
red sleeves and held the dripping sponge to his lips. Then she found
time for me.

[Illustration: CELIA ANNE SHUT HER EYES TIGHTLY AND FIRED THE RIFLE INTO
THE AIR.]

"Oh, father," she cried, "did you _ever_ see _any_body who could run as
fast as Jimmie? Don't you just know he'll win that race?"

"There's but one chance against it," said I. "And really, Mr. Debrett,
that boy can run. He's a little bit heavy maybe, but he holds himself
well together and keeps up a pretty good pace. I timed him and measured
up the distance roughly afterward. It was pretty good going for a little
chap. Cecelia Anne is so much smaller that we often forget what a little
fellow he is after all. But that baby--whew--I wish you'd seen her fly.
It wasn't running. She just blew over the ground and arrived at the pump
as cool as a cucumber although Jimmie was puffing like an automobile of
the vintage of 1890."

"You see," said Jimmie to me as he lay magnificently on the grass
waiting to grow cool while Cecelia still fanned him with the towel, "you
see it don't hurt her to pace me round the track."

"Apparently not," said I, and although he's my own boy and I know him
pretty well, I couldn't for the life of me decide whether he, as well as
Cecelia Anne, had really failed to grasp the fact that she beats him to
a standstill every morning. I suppose we'll know on the Fourth. If she
runs, then he does not know. But if he refuses to let her run; it will
be because he does know."

"I'm not so sure of that," said Mrs. Hawtry.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cecelia Anne _was_ allowed to run. First, in a girl's race among the
giggling, amateurish, self-conscious girls whom she outdistanced by a
lap or two and, later, in the race for all winners, where she had to
compete with Charlie Anderson, the beau of the hotel, Len Fogarty, the
milkman's son, and her own incomparable Jimmie.

The master of ceremonies gave the signal and the event of the day was
on. First to collapse was Charlie Anderson. Jimmie was then in the lead
with Len Fogarty a close second, and Cecelia Anne beside him. So they
went for a lap. Then Jimmie, missing perhaps the blue little figure of
his pacemaker, wavered a little, only a little, but enough to allow Len
Fogarty to forge past him. Len Fogarty! The blatant, hated Len Fogarty,
always shouting defiance from his father's milk-wagon! Then forward
sprang Cecelia Anne. Not for all the riches of the earth would she have
beaten Jimmie, but not for all the glory of heaven would she allow any
one else to beat him. And so by an easy spectacular ten seconds, she
outran Len Fogarty.

Then wild was the enthusiasm of the audience and black was the brow of
Len Fogarty. A chorus of: "Let a girl lick you," "Call yourself a
runner," "Come up to the house an' race me baby brother," has not a
soothing effect when added to the disappointment of being forever shut
off from the business end of rockets and Roman candles. These things
Cecelia Anne knew and so accepted, sadly and resignedly, the glare with
which Len turned away from her little attempts at explanations.

But she was not prepared, nothing in her short life could ever have
prepared her, to find the same expression on Jimmie's face when she
broke through a shower of congratulations and followed him up the road;
to expect praise and to meet _such_ a rebuff would have been sufficient
to make even stiffer laurels than Cecelia Anne's trail in the dust.

"Why Jimmie," she whimpered contrary to his most stringent rule. "Why
Jimmie what's the matter?"

"You're a sneak," said Jimmie darkly and vouchsafed no more. There was
indeed no more to say. It was the last word of opprobrium.

They pattered on in silence for a short but dusty distance, Cecelia Anne
struggling with the temptation to lie down and die; Jimmie upborne by
furious temper.

"Who taught you how to run?" he at last broke out. "Wasn't it me? Didn't
I give you lessons every morning in the old lot? And then didn't you go
and beat me when Len Fogarty, Charlie Anderson, Billy Van Derwater, and
all the other fellows were there?"

Cecelia Anne returned his angry gaze with her blue and loyal eyes.

"I didn't beat you 't all," she answered. "I didn't beat anybody but Len
Fogarty."

Her mentor studied her for a while and then a grin overspread his once
more placid features.

"I guess it'll be all right," he condescended. "Maybe you didn't mean it
the way it looked. But say, Cecelia Anne, if you're afraid of
fire-crackers what are you going to do about the rockets and the Roman
candles? You know sparks fly out of them like rain. And if the smell of
old cartridge shells makes you sick, I don't know just how you'll get
along to-night."

The victor stopped short under the weight of this overwhelming spoil.

"I forgot all about it," she whispered. "Oh, Jimmie, I guess I ought to
have let Len Fogarty win that race. He could set off rockets and Roman
candles and Catherine wheels. I guess it'll kill me when the sparks and
the smoke come out. Maybe I'd better go and see Mr. Anstell and ask to
be excused."

"Aw, I wouldn't do that," Jimmie advised her, "you don't want everyone
to know about your nerve. You just tell him your dress is too light and
that you want me to attend to the fireworks for you."

In the transports of gratitude to which this knightly offer reduced her,
Cecelia Anne fared on by Jimmie's side until they reached the house and
their enquiring parents. Mrs. Hawtry was on the steps as they came up
and she gathered Cecelia Anne into her arms. For a moment no one spoke.
Then Jimmie made his declaration.

"Cecelia Anne beat Len Fogarty all to nothing. You ought to have been
there to see her."

"Was there any one else in the race?" queried Mr. Hawtry in what his son
considered most questionable taste.

"Oh, yes," he was constrained to answer. "Charlie Anderson was in it.
She beat him, too. And I _started_ with them but I thought it would do
those boys more good to be licked by a little girl than to have me 'tend
to them myself." And Jimmie proceeded leisurely into the house.

"But I don't have to set off the fireworks," Cecelia Anne explained
happily. "Jimmie says I don't have to if I don't want to. He's going to
do it for me."

"Kind brother," ejaculated Mr. Hawtry. And across the bright gold braids
of her little Atalanta, Mrs. Hawtry looked at her husband.

"_Did_ he know?" she questioned, "or did he not? You thought we could be
sure if he let her start."

"Well," was Mr. Hawtry's cryptic utterance, "he knows now."



THEODORA, GIFT OF GOD


"And then," cried Mary breathlessly, "what did they do then?"

"And then," her father obediently continued, "the two doughty knights
smote lustily with their swords. And each smote the other on the helmet
and clove him to the middle. It was a fair battle and sightly."

But Mary's interest was unabated. "And then," she urged, "what did they
do then?"

"Not much, I think. Even a knight of the Table Round stops fighting for
a while when that happens to him."

"Didn't they do anything 'tall?" the audience insisted. "You aren't
leaving it out, are you? Didn't they bleed nor nothing?"

"Oh, yes, they bled."

"Then tell me that part."

"Well, they bled. They never stinteth bleeding for three days and three
nights until they were pale as the very earth for bleeding. And they
made a great dole."

"And then, when they couldn't bleed any more nor make any more dole,
what did they do?"

"They died."

"And then--"

"That's the end of the story," said the narrator definitely.

"Then tell me another," she pleaded, "and don't let them die so soon."

"There wouldn't be time for another long one," he pointed out as he
encouraged his horse into an ambling trot. "We are nearly there now."

"After supper will you tell me one?"

"Yes," he promised.

"One about Lancelot and Elaine?"

"Yes," he repeated. "Anything you choose."

"I choose Lancelot," she declared.

"A great many ladies did," commented her father as the horse sedately
stopped before the office of the Arcady _Herald-Journal_, of which he
was day and night editor, sporting editor, proprietor, society editor,
chief of the advertising department, and occasionally type-setter and
printer and printer's devil.

Mary held the horse, which stood in need of no such restraint, while
this composite of newspaper secured his mail, and then they jogged off
through the spring sunshine, side by side, in the ramshackle old buggy
on a leisurely canvass of outlying districts in search of news or
advertisements, or suggestions for the forthcoming issue.

In the wide-set, round, opened eyes of his small daughter, Herbert
Buckley was the most wonderful person in the world. No stories were so
enthralling as his. No songs so tuneful, no invention so fertile, no
temper so sweet, no companionship so precious. And her nine happy years
of life had shown her no better way of spending summer days or winter
evenings than in journeying, led by his hand and guided by his voice,
through the pleasant ways of Camelot and the shining times of chivalry.

Upon a morning later in this ninth summer of her life Mary was perched
high up in an apple tree enjoying the day, the green apples, and
herself. The day was a glorious one in mid July, the apples were of a
wondrous greenness and hardness, and Mary, for the first time in many
weeks, was free to enjoy her own society. A month ago a grandmother and
a maiden aunt had descended out of the land which had until then given
forth only letters, birthday presents, and Christmas cards. And they had
proved to be not at all the idyllic creatures which these manifestations
had seemed to prophesy, but a pair of very interfering old ladies with a
manner of over-ruling Mary's gentle mother, brow-beating her genial
father and cloistering herself.

This morning had contributed another female assuming airs of instant
intimacy. She had gone up to the last remaining spare chamber, donned a
costume all of crackling white linen, and had introduced herself,
entirely uninvited, into the dim privacy of Mary's mother's room, whence
Mary had been sternly banished.

"Another aunt!" was the outcast's instant inference, as in a moment of
accountable preoccupation on the part of the elders she had escaped to
her own happy and familiar country--the world of out-of-doors--where
female relatives seldom intruded, and where the lovely things of life
were waiting.

When she had consumed all the green apples her constitution would
accept, and they seemed pitifully few to her more robust mind, she
descended from the source of her refreshment and set out upon a
comprehensive tour of her domain. She liked living upon the road to
Camelot. It made life interesting to be within measurable distance of
the knights and ladies who lived and played and loved in the
many-towered city of which one could gain so clear a view from the
topmost branches of the hickory tree in the upper pasture. She liked to
crouch in the elder bushes where a lane, winding and green-arched,
crossed a corner of the cornfield, and to wait, through the long, still
summer mornings for Lancelot or Galahad or Tristram or some other of her
friends to come pricking his way through the sunshine. She could hear
the clinking of his golden armor, the whinnying of his steed, the soft
brushing of the branches as they parted before his helmet or his spear;
the rustling of the daisies against his great white charger's feet. And
then there was the river "where the aspens dusk and quiver," and where
barges laden with sweet ladies passed and left ripples of foam on the
water and ripples of light laughter in the air as, brilliant and fair
bedight, they went winding down to Camelot.

This morning she revisited all these hallowed spots. She thrilled on the
very verge of the river and quivered amid the waving corn. She scaled
the sentinel hickory and turned her eyes upon the Southern city. It was
nearly a week since she had been allowed to wander so far afield, and
Camelot seemed more than ever wonderful as it lay in the shimmering
distance gleaming and glistening beyond the hills. Trails of smoke waved
above all the towers, showing where Sir Beaumanis still served his
kitchen apprenticeship for his knighthood and his place at the Table
Round. Thousands of windows flashed back the light.

"I could get there," pondered Mary, "if God would send me that goat and
wagon. I guess there's quite a demand for goats and wagons. I could
dress my goat all up in skirts like the ladies dressed their palfreys,
an' I'd wear my hair loose on my shoulders--it's real goldy when it's
loose--an' my best hat. I guess Queen Guinevere would be real glad to
see me. Oh, dear," she fretted as these visions came thronging back to
her, "I wish Heaven would hurry up."

Between the pasture and the distant city she could distinguish the roofs
of another of the havens of her dear desire--the house where the old
ladies lived. Four old ladies there were, in the sweet autumn of their
lives, and Mary's admiration of them was as passionate as were all her
psychic states. She never could be quite sure as to which of the four
she most adored. There was the gentle Miss Ann, who taught her to recite
verses of piercing and wilting sensibility; the brisk Miss Jane, who
explained and demonstrated the construction of many an old-time cake or
pastry; the silent Miss Agnes, who silently accepted assistance in her
never-ending process of skeletonizing leaves and arranging them in prim
designs upon cardboard, and the garrulous Miss Sabina, who, with a
crochet needle, a hair-pin, a spool with four pins driven into it,
knitting needles and other shining implements, could fashion, and teach
Mary to fashion, weavings and spinnings which might shame the most
accomplished spider. Aided by her and by the re-enforced spool above
mentioned, Mary had already achieved five dirty inches of red woollen
reins for the expected goat. But the house was distant just three
fields, a barb-wire fence, a low stone wall, and a cross bull, and Mary
knew that her unaccustomed leisure could not be expected to endure long
enough for so perilous a pilgrimage.

Her dissatisfied gaze wandered back to her quiet home surrounded by its
neatly laid out meadows, cornfield, orchard, barns, and garden. And a
shadow fell upon her wistful little face.

"That old aunt," she grumbled, "she makes me awful tired. She's always
pokin' round an' callin' me."

Such, indeed, seemed the present habit and intent of the prim lady who
was approaching, alternately clanging a dinner-bell and calling in a
tone of resolute sweetness:

"Mary, O Mary, dear."

Mary parted the branches of her tree and watched, but made no sound.

"Mary," repeated the oncoming relative, "Mary, I want to tell you
something," and added as she spied her niece's abandoned sunbonnet on
the grass, "I know you're here and I shall wait until you come to me."

"I _ain't_ coming," announced the Dryad, and thereby disclosed her
position, both actual and mental. "I suppose it's something I've done
and I don't want to hear it, so there!" Then, her temper having been
worn thin by much admonishing, she anticipated: "I _ain't_ sorry I've
been bad. I _ain't_ ashamed to behave so when my mamma is sick in bed.
And I don't care if you _do_ tell my papa when he comes home to-night."

The intruding relative, discerning her, stopped and smiled. And the
smile was as a banderilla to her niece's goaded spirit.

"Jiminy!" gasped that young person, "she's got a smile just like a
teacher."

"Mary, dear," the intruder gushed, "God has sent you something."

The hickory flashed forth black and white and red. Mary stood upon the
ground.

"Where are they?" she demanded.

"They?" repeated the lady. "There is only one."

"Why, I prayed for two. Which did he send?"

"Which do you think?" parried the lady. "Which do you hope it is?"

Even Mary's scorn was unprepared for this weak-mindedness. "The goat, of
course," she responded curtly. "Is it the goat?"

"Goat!" gasped the scandalized aunt. "Goat! Why, God has sent you a baby
sister, dear."

"A sister! a baby!" gasped Mary in her turn. "I don't _need_ no sister.
I prayed for a goat just as plain as plain. 'Dear God,' I says, 'please
bless everybody, and make me a good girl, an' send me a goat an' wagon.'
And they went an' changed it to a baby sister! Why, I never s'posed they
made mistakes like that."

Crestfallen and puzzled she allowed herself to be led back to the
darkened house where her grandmother met her with the heavenly
substitute wrapped in flannel. And as she held it against the square and
unresponsive bosom of her apron she realized how the "Bible gentleman"
must have felt when he asked for bread and was given a stone.

During the weeks that followed, the weight of the stone grew heavier
and heavier while the hunger for bread grew daily more acute. Not even
the departure of interfering relatives could bring freedom, for the
baby's stumpy arms bound Mary to the house as inexorably as bolts and
bars could have done. She passed weary hours in a hushed room watching
the baby, when outside the sun was shining, the birds calling, the
apples waxing greener and larger, and the shining knights and ladies
winding down to Camelot. She sat upon the porch, still beside the baby,
while the river rippled, the wheatfields wimpled, and the cows came
trailing down from the pasture, down from the upland pasture where the
sentinel hickory stood and watched until the sun went down, and, one by
one, the lights came out in distant Camelot. She listened for the light
laughter of the ladies, the jingling of the golden armor, the swishing
of the branches and of the waves. Listened all in vain, for Theodora,
that gift of God, had powerful lungs and a passion for exercising them
so that minor sounds were overwhelmed and only yells remained.

But the deprivation against which she most passionately rebelled was
that of her father's society. Before the advent of Theodora she had been
his constant companion. They were perfectly happy together, for the poet
who at nineteen had burned to challenge the princes of the past and to
mold the destinies of the future was, at twenty-nine, very nearly
content to busy himself about the occurrences of the present and to edit
a weekly paper in the town which had known and honored his father, and
was proud of, if puzzled by, their well-informed debonair son. Even
himself he sometimes puzzled. He knew that this was not to be his life's
work, this chronicling of the very smallest beer, this gossip and
friendliness and good cheer. But it served to fill his leisure and his
modest exchequer until such time as he could finish his great tragedy
and take his destined place among the writers of his time. Meanwhile, he
told himself, with somewhat rueful humor, there was always an editor
ready to think well of his minor poems and an audience ready to marvel
at them, "which is more, my dear," he pointed out to his admiring wife,
"than Burns could have said for himself--or Coleridge."

And when his confidence and his hopes flickered, as the strongest of
hopes and confidence sometimes will, when his tragedy seemed far from
completion, his paper paltry, and his life narrow, he could always look
into his daughter's eyes and there find faith in himself and strength
and sunny patience.

Formerly these fountains of perpetual youth had been beside him all the
long days through. From village to village, from store to farm, they
had jogged, side by side, in a lazy old buggy; he smoking long, silent
pipes, perhaps, or entertaining his companion with tales and poems of
the days of chivalry when men were brave and women fair and all the
world was young. And, Mary, inthralled, enrapt, adoring her father, and
seeing every picture conjured up by his sonorous rhythm or quaint
phrase, was much more familiar with the deeds and gossip of King
Arthur's court than with events of her own day and country.

So that while Mary, tied to the baby, yearned for the wide spaces of her
freedom, Mr. Buckley, lonely in a dusty buggy, jogging over the familiar
roads, thought longingly of a little figure in an irresponsible
sunbonnet, and found it difficult to bear patiently with matronly
neighbors, who congratulated him upon this arrangement, and assured him
that his little play-fellow would now quickly outgrow her old-fashioned
ways and become as other children, "which she would never have, Mr.
Buckley, as long as you let her tag around with you and filled her head
with impossible nonsense."

It was not a desire for any such alteration which made him acquiesce in
the separation. It was a very grave concern for his wife's health, and a
very sharp realization that, until he could devise some means of
increasing his income, he could not afford to engage a more experienced
nurse for the new arrival. He had no ideas of the suffering entailed
upon his elder daughter. He was deceived, as was every one else, by the
gentle uncomplainingness with which she waited upon Theodora, for whose
existence she regarded herself as entirely to blame. Had she not,
without consulting her parents, applied to high heaven for an increase
in live stock, and was not the answer to this application, however
inexact, manifestly her responsibility.

"They're awful good to me," she pondered. "They ain't scolded me a
mite, an' I just know how they must feel about it. Mamma ain't had her
health ever since that baby come, an' papa looks worried most to death.
If they'd 'a' sent that goat an' wagon I could 'a' took mamma riding.
Ain't prayers terrible when they go wrong!" And in gratitude for their
forbearance she, erstwhile the companion, or at least the audience, of
fealty knight and ladies, bowed her small head to the swathed and
shapeless feet of heaven's error and became waiting woman to a flannel
bundle.

Only her dreams remained to her. She could still look forward to the
glorious time of "when I'm big." She could still unbind her dun-colored
hair and shake it in the sun. She could still quiver with anticipation
as she surveyed her brilliant future. A beautiful prince was coming to
woo her. He would ride to the door and kneel upon the front porch while
all his shining retinue filled the front yard and overflowed into the
road. Then she would appear and, since these things were to happen in
the days of her maturity, perhaps when she was twelve years old, she
would be radiantly beautiful, and her hair would be all goldy gold and
curly, and it would trail upon the ground a yard or two behind her as
she walked. And the prince would be transfixed. And when he was all
through being that--Mary often wondered what it was--he would arise and
sing "Nicolette, the Bright of Brow," or some other disguised
personality, while all his shining retinue would unsling hautboys and
lyres and--and--mouth organs and play ravishing music.

And when she rode away to be the prince's bride and to rule his fair
lands, her father and her mother should ride with her, all in the
sunshine of the days "when I'm big"--the wonderful days "when I'm big."

Meanwhile, being but little, she served the flannel bundle even as Sir
Beaumanis had served a yet lowlier apprenticeship. But she still stormed
high heaven to rectify its mistake.

"And please, dear God, if you are all out of goats and wagons, send
rabbits. But anyway come and take away this baby. My mamma ain't well
enough to take care of it an' I can't spare the time. We don't need
babies, but we do need that goat and wagon."

And the powers above, with a mismanagement which struck their petitioner
dumb, sent a wagon--only a wagon--and it was a gocart for the baby, and
Mary was to be the goat.

With this millstone tied about her neck she was allowed to look upon the
scenes of her early freedom, and no inquisitor could have devised a more
anguishing torture than that to which Mary's suffering and unsuspecting
mother daily consigned her suffering and uncomplaining daughter.

"Walk slowly up and down the paths, dear, and don't leave your sister
for a moment. Isn't it nice that you have somebody to play with now?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Mary. "But she ain't what I'd call playful."

"You used to be so much alone," Mrs. Buckley continued. Mary breathed
sharply, and her mother kissed her sympathetically. "But now you always
have your sister with you. Isn't it fine, dearie?"

"Yes, ma'am," repeated the victim, and bent her little energies to the
treadmill task of wheeling the gocart to the orchard gate, where all
wonders began, and then, with an effort as exhausting to the will as to
the body, turning her back upon the lane, the river, and the sentinel
tree, to trundle her Juggernaut between serried rows of cabbages and
carrots.

Then slowly she began to hate, with a deep, abiding hatred, the flannel
bundle. She loathed the very smell of flannel before Theodora was six
short weeks old, and the sight of the diminutive laundry, which hung
upon the line between the cherry trees, almost drove her to arson.

The shy, quick-darting creature--half child and half humming bird--was
forced to drag that monstrous perambulator on all her expeditions. After
a month's confinement to the garden, where knights and ladies never
penetrate, she managed to bump her responsibility out into the orchard.
But the glory was all in the treetops, and Mary soon grew restless under
her mother's explicit directions. "Up and down the walks" meant
imprisonment, despair. Theodora should have tried to make her role of
Albatross as acceptable as it might be made to the long-suffering
mariner about whose neck she hung, but she showed a callousness and a
heartless selfishness which nothing could excuse. Mary would sometimes
plead with all gentleness and courtesy for a few short moments' freedom.

"Theodora," she would begin, "Theodora, listen to me a minute," and the
gift of God would make aimless pugilistic passes at her interlocutor.

"O Theodora, I'm awful tired of stayin' down here on the ground.
Wouldn't you just as lieves play you was a mad bull an' I was a lady in
a red dress?"

Theodora, after some space spent in apparent contemplation, would wave a
cheerful acquiescence.

"An' then I'll be scared of you, an' I'll run away an' climb as high as
anything in the hickory tree up there on the hill. Let's play it right
now, Theodora. There's something I want to see up there."

Taking her sister's bland smile for ratification and agreement, Mary
would set about her personification, shed her apron lest its damaged
appearance convict her in older eyes, and speed toward her goal. But
the mad bull's shrieks of protest and repudiation would startle every
bit of chivalry for miles and miles around.

Several experiences of this nature taught Mary, that, in dealing with
infants of changeable and rudimentary mind, honesty was an impossible
policy and candor a very boomerang, which returned and smote one with
savage force. So she stooped to guile and detested the flannel all the
more deeply because of the state to which it was debasing an upright
conscience and a high sense of honor.

At first her lapses from the right were all negative. She neglected the
gift of God. She would abandon it, always in a safe and shady spot and
always with its covers smoothly tucked in, its wabbly parasol adjusted
at the proper angle, and always with a large piece of wood tied to the
perambulator's handle by a labyrinth of elastic strings. These Mary had
drawn from abandoned garters, sling shots, and other mysterious sources,
and they allowed the wood to jerk unsteadily up and down, and to soothe
the unsuspecting Theodora with a spasmodic rhythm very like the
ministrations of her preoccupied nurse.

Meanwhile the nurse would be far afield upon her own concerns, and
Theodora was never one of them. The river, the lane, the tall hickory
knew her again and again. Camelot shone out across the miles of hill and
tree and valley. But the river was silent and the lane empty, and
Camelot seemed very far as autumn cleared the air. Perhaps this was
because knights and ladies manifest themselves only to the pure of
heart. Perhaps because Mary was always either consciously or
subconsciously listening for the recalling shrieks of the abandoned and
disprized gift of God.

"Stop it, I tell you," she admonished her purple-faced and convulsive
charge one afternoon when all the world was gold. "Stop it, or mamma
will be coming after us, and making us stay on the back porch." But
Theodora, in the boastfulness of her new lungs, yelled uninterruptedly
on. Then did Mary try cajolery. She removed her sister from the
perambulator and staggered back in a sitting posture with suddenness and
force. The jar gave Theodora pause, and Mary crammed the silence full of
promise. "If you'll stop yellin' now I'll see that my prince husband
lets you be a goose-girl on the hills behind our palace. Its awful nice
being a goose-girl," she hastened to add lest the prospect fail to
charm. "If I didn't have to marry that prince an' be a queen I guess I'd
been a goose-girl myself. Yes, sir, it's lovely work on the hills behind
a palace with all the knights ridin' by an' sayin', 'Fair maid, did'st
see a boar pass by this way?' You don't have to be afraid--you'd never
have to see one. In all the books the goose-girls didn't never see no
boars, and the knights gave 'em a piece of gold an' smiled on 'em, and
the sunshine shined on 'em, an' they had a lovely time."

Having stumbled into the road to peace of conscience, Mary trod it
bravely and joyously. Theodora's future rank increased with the decrease
of her present comfort, but her posts, though lofty and remunerative,
were never such as would bring her into intimate contact with the person
of the queen.

She was betrothed to the son of a noble, and very distant, house after
an afternoon when the perambulator, ill-trained to cross-country work,
balked at the first stone wall on the way to the old ladies' house. It
was then dragged backward for a judicious distance and faced at the
obstacle at a mad gallop. Umbrella down, handle up, wheels madly
whirring, it was forced to the jump.

Again it refused, reared high into the air, stood for an instant upon
its hind wheels and then fell supinely on its side, shedding its
blankets, its pillows, and Theodora upon the cold, hard stones.

After that her rise was rapid, and the distance separating her from her
sister's elaborate court more perilous and more beset with seas and
boars and mountains and robbers. She was allowed to wed her high-born
betrothed when she had been forgotten for three hours while Mary learned
a heart-rending poem commencing, "Oh, hath she then failed in her troth,
the beautiful maid I adore?" until even Miss Susan could only weep in
intense enjoyment and could suggest; no improvement in the recitation.

On another occasion Mary was obliged to borrow the perambulator for the
conveyance of leaves and branches with which to build a bower withal;
and Theodora, having been established in unfortunate proximity to an
ant hill, was thoroughly explored by its inhabitants ere her
ministering sister realized that her cries and agitation were anything
more than her usual attitude of protest against whatever chanced to be
going on. By the time the bower was finished and the perambulator ready
for its customary occupant that young person was in a position to claim
heavy damages.

"Don't you care," said Mary cheerfully, as she relieved Theodora from
the excessive animation. "I can make it up to you when I'm big. My
prince husband--I guess he'd better be a king by that time--will go over
to your country an' kill your husband's father an' his grandfather an'
all the kings an' princes until there's nobody only your husband to be
king. Then you'll be a queen you see, an' live in a palace. So now hush
up." And one future majesty was rocked upside down by another until the
royal face of the younger queen was purple and her voice was still.

Mary found it more difficult to quiet her new and painful agnosticism,
and in her efforts to reconcile dogma with manifestation she evolved a
series of theological and economical questions which surprised her
father and made her mother's head reel. She further manifested a
courteous attention when the minister came to call, and she engaged him
in spiritual converse until he writhed again. For a space her
investigations led her no whither, and then, without warning, the man of
peace solved her dilemma and shed light upon her path.

A neighbor ripe in years and good works had died. The funeral was over
and the man of God had stopped to rest in the pleasant shade of Mrs.
Buckley's trees and in the pleasant sound of Mrs. Buckley's voice. Mary,
the gocart, and Theodora completed the group, and the minister spoke.

"A good man," he repeated, "Ah, Mrs. Buckley, he will be sadly missed!
But the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be--"

"When?" demanded Mary breathlessly. "When does he take away?"

"In His own good time."

"When's that?"

"'Tis not for sinful man to say. He sends His message to the man in the
pride of his youth or to the babe in its cradle. He reaches forth His
hand and takes away."

"But when--" Mary was beginning when her mother, familiar with the
Socratic nature of her daughter's conversation and its exhaustive effect
upon the interlocutor, interposed a remark which guided the current of
talk out of heavenly channels and back to the material plain.

But Mary had learned all that she cared to know. It was not necessary
that she should suffer the exactions of the baby or subject her family
to them. The Lord had given and would take away! The minister had said
so, and the minister knew all about the Lord. And if the powers above
were not ready to send for the baby, it would be easy enough to deposit
it in the Lord's own house, which showed its white spire beyond the
first turn in the road which led to Camelot. There the Lord would find
it and take it away. This would be, she reflected, the quiet, dignified,
lady-like thing to do. And the morrow, she decided, would be an
admirable day on which to do it.

Therefore, on the morrow she carefully decked Theodora in small finery,
hung garlands of red and yellow maple leaves upon the perambulator,
twined chains of winter-green berries about its handle, tied a bunch of
gorgeous golden rod to its parasol, and trundled it by devious and
obscure ways to the sacred precincts of God's house.

"They look real well," she commented. "If I was sure about that goat I
might keep the cart, but it really ain't the right kind for a goat. I
guess I'd better take 'em back just like they are an' when the Lord sees
how I got 'em all fancied up, he'll know I ain't a careless child, an'
maybe I'd get that goat after all."

So the disprized little gifts of God were bumped up the church steps,
wheeled up the aisle, and bestowed in a prominent spot before the
chancel rail. Some one was playing soft music at the unseen organ, but
Mary accepted soft music as a phenomenon natural to churches, and failed
to connect it with human agency. Sedately she set out Theodora's bows
and ruffles to the best advantage. Carefully she rearranged the floral
decorations of the perambulator, and set her elastic understudy in
erratic motion. Complacently she surveyed the whole and walked out into
the sunshine--free. And presently the minister, the intricacies of a new
hymn reconciled to the disabilities of a lack of ear and a lack of
training, came out into the body of the church, where the gifts of God,
bland in smiles and enwreathed in verdure, were waiting to be taken
away.

"Mrs. Buckley's baby," was his first thought. "I wonder where that queer
little Mary is," was his second. And his third, it came when he was
tired of waiting for some solution of his second, was an embarrassed
realization that he would be obliged to take his unexpected guest home
to its mother. And the quiet town of Arcady rocked upon its foundations
as he did it.

"In the church," marveled Mrs. Buckley. "How careless of Mary!" she
apologized, and "How good of you!" she smiled. "No, I'm not in the least
worried. She always had a way of trotting off to her own diversions when
she was not with her father. And lately she has been astonishingly
patient about spending her time with baby. I have felt quite guilty,
about it. But after to-day she will be free, as Mr. Buckley has found a
nurse to relieve her. He was beginning to grow desperate about Mary and
me--said we neither of us had a moment to waste on him--and yet could
not find a nurse whom we felt we could afford. And yesterday a young
woman walked into his office to put an advertisement in his paper for
just such a position as we had to offer. She is a German, wants to learn
English, and she will be here this afternoon."

"Perhaps your little girl resented her coming," he suggested vaguely.
"Perhaps that was the reason."

"Mary resentful!" laughed Mrs. Buckley.

"She doesn't, bless her gentle little heart, know the meaning of the
word. Besides which we haven't told her about the girl, as we are rather
looking forward to that first interview, and wondering how Mary will
acquit herself in a conversational Waterloo. She can't, you know, make
life miserable and information bitter to a German who speaks no
English. 'Ja' or 'nein' alternately and interchangeably may baffle even
her skill in questioning."

Mary, meanwhile, was hurrying along the way to Camelot. She had not
planned the expedition in advance. Rather, it was the inevitable
reaction toward license which marks the success of any revolution. She
had cast off the bonds of the baby carriage, her time and her life were
her own, and the road stretched white and straight toward Camelot.

It was afternoon and the sun was near its setting when at last she
reached the towered city and found it in all ways delightful but in some
surprising. She was prepared for the moat and for the drawbridge across
it, but not for the exceeding dirtiness of its water and the dinginess
of its barges. She had expected it to be wider and perhaps cleaner, and
the castles struck her as being ill-adapted to resist siege and the
shocks of war since nearly all their walls were windows. And through
these windows she caught glimpses of the strangest interiors which ever
palaces boasted. Miles and acres of bare wooden tables stood under the
shade of straight iron trees. From the trees black ribbons depended. In
the treetops there were wheels and shining iron bars, and all about the
tables there were other iron bars and bolts and bands of greasy leather.

"I don't see a round table anywhere," she reflected. "What do you s'pose
they do with all those little square ones?" She sought the answer to
this question through many a dirty pane and many a high-walled street.
But the palaces and the streets were empty and the explorer discovered
with a quick-sinking heart and confidence that she was alone and hungry
and very far from home. She was treading close upon the verge of tears
when her path debouched upon the central square of Camelot. And
straightway she forgot her doubts and puzzlements, her hunger and her
increasing weariness, for she had found "The Court." Across a fair green
plaisance, all seemly beset with flower and shrub, the wide doors of a
church stood open. Tall palaces were all about, and in every window, on
every step, on the green benches which dotted the plaisance, on every
possible elevation or post of observation, the good folk of Camelot
stood or hung or even fought, to watch the procession of beauty and
chivalry as it came foaming down the steps, broke into eddies, and
disappeared among the thronging carriages. Mary found it quite easy to
identify the illustrious personages in the procession when once she had
realized that they would, of course, not be in armor on a summer's
afternoon, and at what even, to her inexperienced eyes, was manifestly a
wedding.

First to emerge was a group of the younger knights, frock-coated,
silk-hatted, pale gray of waistcoat and gloves, white and effulgent of
_boutonnière_. Excitement, almost riot, resulted among the
much-caparisoned horses, the much-favored coachmen, and the
much-beribboned equipages of state. But the noise increased to clamor
and eagerness to violence when an ethereal figure in floating tulle and
clinging lace was led out into the afternoon light by a more resplendent
edition of black-coated, gray-trousered knighthood.

The next wave was all of pink chiffon and nodding plumes. The first
wave, after trickling about the carriages and the coachmen, receded up
the steps again to be lost and mingled in the third, and then both swept
down to the carriages again and were absorbed. Then the steady tide of
departing royalty set in. Then horses plunged, elderly knights fussed,
court ladies commented upon the heat, the bride, the presents, or their
neighbors. Then the bride's father mopped his brow and the bridegroom's
mother wept a little. Then there was much shaking or waving of hands or
of handkerchiefs. Then the bridal carriage began to move, the bride
began to smile, and rice and flowers and confetti and good wishes and
slippers filled the air. Then other carriages followed, then the good
folk of Camelot followed, an aged man closed the wide church doors, and
the square was left to the sparrows, pink sunshine, confetti, rice, and
Mary.

The little pilgrim's sunbonnet was hanging down her back, her hair was
loose upon her shoulders, "an' real goldy" where it caught the sun, and
her eyes were wide and deep with happiness and faith. She crossed the
wide plaisance and stood upon the steps, she gathered up three white
roses and a shred of lace, she sat down to rest upon the topmost step,
she laid her cheek against the inhospitable doors, and, in the language
of the stories she loved so well, "so fell she on sleep" with the tired
flowers in her tired hands.

And there Herbert Buckley found her. He had traveled far afield on that
autumn afternoon; but it is not every day that the daughter of the owner
of one-half the mills in a manufacturing town is married to the owner of
the other half, and when such things do occur to the accompaniment of
illustrious visitors, a half-holiday in all the mills, perfect weather,
and unlimited hospitality, it behooves the progressive journalist and
reporter for miles around to sing "haste to the wedding," and to draw
largely upon his adjectives and his fountain pen. The editorial staff of
the Arcady _Herald-Journal_ turned homeward, and was evolving phrases in
which to describe that gala day when his eye caught the color of a
familiar little sunbonnet, the outline of a familiar little figure. But
such a drooping little sunbonnet! Such a relaxed little figure! Such a
weary little face! And such a wildly impossible place in which to find a
little daughter. Then he remembered having seen Miss Ann and Miss Agnes
among the spectators and his wonder changed to indignation.

It was nearly dark when Mary opened her eyes again and found herself
sheltered in her father's arm and rocked by the old familiar motion of
the buggy.

"And then," she prompted sleepily as her old habit was, "what did they
do then?"

"They were married," his quiet voice replied.

"And then?"

"Oh, then they went away together and lived happily ever after."

For some space there was silence and a star came out. Mary watched it
drowsily and then drowsily began:

"When I was to Camelot--"

"Where?" demanded her father.

"When I was to Camelot," she repeated, cuddling close to him as if to
show that there were dearer places than that gorgeous city, "I saw a
knight and a lady getting married. And lots of other knights were
there--they didn't wear their fighting clothes--and lots of other
ladies, pink ones. An' Arthur wore a stovepipe hat an' Guinevere wore a
white dress, an' she had white feathers in her crown. An' Lancelot, he
was there, all getting married. Daddy, dear," she broke off to question,
"were you ever to Camelot?"

"Oh, yes, I was there," he answered, "but it was a great many years
ago."

"Did you find roses?" she asked, exhibiting her wilted treasures.

"I found your mother there, my dear."

"And then, what did you do then?"

"Well, then we were married and lived happily ever after."

"And then--?"

"There was you, and we lived happier ever after."

And Mary fell on sleep again in the shelter of her father's arm while the
stars came out and the glow of joyant Camelot lit all the southern sky.



GREAT OAKS FROM LITTLE ACORNS



Among the influences which, in America, promote harmony between alien
races, the public school plays a most important part. The children, the
teachers, the parents--whether of emigrant or native origin--the
relatives and friends in distant countries, are all brought more or less
under its amalgamating influences. In the schoolroom the child finds
friends and playmates belonging to races widely different from his own;
there Greek meets not only Greek, but Turk, American, Irish, German,
French, English, Italian and Hungarian, and representatives of every
other nation under the sun. The lion lying down with the lamb was
nothing to it, because the lamb, though its feelings are not enlarged
upon, must have been distinctly uncomfortable. But in the schoolroom
Jew and Gentile work and play together; and black and white learn love
and knowledge side by side.

And long after more formal instruction has faded with the passing of the
years a man of, perhaps, German origin will think kindly of the whole
irresponsible Irish race when he remembers little Bridget O'Connor, who
sat across the aisle in the old Cherry Street school, her quick temper
and her swift remorse.

Of course, all these nationalities are rarely encountered in one
district, but a teacher often finds herself responsible for fifty
children representing five or six of them. In the lower grades eight or
ten may be so lately arrived as to speak no English. The teacher
presiding over this polyglot community is often, herself, of foreign
birth, yet they get on very well together, are very fond of one another,
and very happy. The little foreigners, assisted by their more
well-informed comrades, learn the language of the land, I regret to say
that it is often tinctured with the language of the Bowery, in from six
to twelve weeks, six weeks for the Jews, and twelve for the slower among
the Germans' children. And again, it will be difficult to stir Otto
Schmidt, at any stage of his career, into antagonism against the Jewish
race, when he remembers the patience and loving kindness with which
Maxie Fishandler labored with him and guided his first steps through the
wilderness of the English tongue.

These indirect but constant influences are undeniably the strongest, but
at school the child is taught in history of the heroism and the strength
of men and nations other than his own; he learns, with some degree of
consternation, that Christopher Columbus was a "Dago," George Washington
an officer in the English Army, and Christ, our Lord, a Jew. Geography,
as it is now taught with copious illustrations and descriptions, shows
undreamed-of beauties in countries hitherto despised. And gradually, as
the pupils move on from class to class, they learn true democracy and
man's brotherhood to man.

But the work of the American public school does not stop with the
children who come directly under its control. The board of education
reaches, as no other organization does, the great mass of the
population. All the other boards and departments established for the
help and guidance of these people only succeed in badgering and
frightening them. They are met, even at Ellis Island, by the board of
health and they are subjected to all kinds of disagreeable and
humiliating experiences culminating sometimes in quarantine and
sometimes in deportation. Even after they have passed the barrier of the
emigration office, the monster still pursues them. It disinfects their
houses, it confiscates the rotten fish and vegetables which they
hopefully display on their push-carts, it objects to their wrenching off
and selling the plumbing appliances in their apartments, it interferes
with them in twenty ways a day and hedges them round about with a
hundred laws which they can only learn, as Parnell advised a follower to
learn the rules of the House of Commons, by breaking them.

Then comes the department of street cleaning, with its extraordinary
ideas of the use of a thoroughfare. The new-comer is taught that the
street is not the place for dead cats and cabbage stalks, and other
trifles for which he has no further use. Neither may it be used, except
with restrictions, as a bedroom or a nursery. The emigrant, puzzled but
obliging, picks his progeny out of the gutter and lays it on the
fire-escape. He then makes acquaintance of the fire department, and
listens to its heated arguments. So perhaps he, still willing to please,
reclaims the dead cat and the cabbage stalk, and proceeds to cremate
them in the privacy of the back yard. Again the fire department, this
time in snorting and horrible form, descends upon him. And all these
manifestations of freedom are attended by the blue-coated police who
interdict the few relaxations unprovided for by the other powers. These
human monsters confiscate stilettos and razors; discourage
pocket-picking, brick-throwing, the gathering of crowds and the general
enjoyment of life. Their name is legion. Their appetite for figs, dates,
oranges and bananas and graft is insatiable; they are omnipresent; they
are argus-eyed; and their speech is always, "Keep movin' there. Keep
movin'." And all these baneful influences may be summoned and set in
action by another, but worse than all of them, known as the Gerry
Society. This tyrant denies the parent's right in his own child, forbids
him to allow a minor to work in sweatshop, store, or even on the stage,
and enforces these commands, even to the extreme of removing the child
altogether and putting it in an institution.

In sharp contrast to all these ogres, the board of education shines
benignant and bland. Here is power making itself manifest in the form of
young ladies, kindly of eye and speech, who take a sweet and friendly
interest in the children and all that concerns them. Woman meets woman
and no policeman interferes. The little ones are cared for, instructed,
kept out of mischief for five hours a day, taught the language and
customs of the country in which they are to make their living or their
fortunes; and generally, though the board of education does not insist
upon it, they are cherished and watched over. Doctors attend them,
nurses wait upon them, dentists torture them, oculists test them.

Friendships frequently spring up between parent and teacher, and it
often lies in the power of the latter to be of service by giving either
advice or more substantial aid. At Mothers' meetings the cultivation of
tolerance still goes on. There, women of widely different class and
nationality, meet on the common ground of their children's welfare. Then
there are roof gardens, recreation piers and parks, barges and
excursions, all designed to help the poorer part of the city's
population--without regard to creed or nationality--to bear and to help
their children to bear the killing heat of summer. So Jew and Gentile,
black and white, commingle; and gradually old hostilities are forgotten
or corrected. The board of education provides night schools for adults
and free lectures upon every conceivable interesting topic, including
the history and geography and natural history of distant lands.
Travelers always draw large audiences to their lectures.

The children soon learn to read well enough to translate the American
papers and there are always newspapers in the different vernaculars, so
that the emigrant soon becomes interested not only in the news of his
own country, but in the multitudinous topics which go to make up
American life. He soon grasps at least the outlines of politics,
national and international, and before he can speak English he will
address an audience of his fellow countrymen on "Our Glorious American
Institutions."

It is not only the emigrant parent who profits by the work of the public
school. The American parent also finds himself, or generally herself,
brought into friendly contact with the foreign teachers and the foreign
friends of her children. The New York public school system culminates in
the Normal College, which trains women as teachers, and the College of
the City of New York, which offers courses to young men in the
profession of law, engineering, teaching, and, besides, a course in
business training. The commencement at these institutions brings
strangely contrasted parents together in a common interest and a common
pride. The students seem much like one another, but the parents are so
widely dissimilar as to make the similarity of their offspring an
amazing fact for contemplation. Mothers with shawls over their heads and
work-distorted hands sit beside mothers in Parisian costumes, and the
silk-clad woman is generally clever enough to appreciate and to admire
the spirit which strengthened her weary neighbor through all the years
of self-denial, labor, poverty and often hunger, which were necessary to
pay for the leisure and the education of son or daughter. The feeling of
inferiority, of uselessness, which this realization entails may
humiliate the idle woman but it is bound to do her good. It will
certainly deprive her conversation of sweeping criticisms on lives and
conditions unknown to her. It will also utterly do away with many of her
prejudices against the foreigner and it will make the "Let them eat
cake" attitude impossible.

And so the child, the parent, the teacher and the home-staying relative
are brought to feel their kinship with all the world through the agency
of the public school, but the teacher learns the lesson most fully, most
consciously. The value to the cause of peace and good-will in the
community of an army of thousands of educated men and women holding
views such as these cannot easily be over-estimated. The teachers, too,
are often aliens and nearly always of a race different from their
pupils, yet you will rarely meet a teacher who is not delighted with her
charges.

"Do come," they always say, "and see my little Italians, or Irish, or
German, or picaninnies; they are the sweetest little things," or, if
they be teachers of a higher grade, "They are the cleverest and the most
charming children." They are all clever in their different ways, and
they are all charming to those who know them, and the work of the public
school is to make this charm and cleverness appreciated, so that race
misunderstandings in the adult populations may grow fewer and fewer.

The only dissatisfied teacher I ever encountered was a girl of old
Knickerbocker blood, who was considered by her relatives to be too
fragile and refined to teach any children except the darlings of the
upper West side, where some of the rich are democratic enough to
patronize the public school. From what we heard of her experiences,
"patronize" is quite the proper word to use in this connection. A group
of us, classmates, had been comparing notes and asked her from what
country her charges came. "Oh, they are just kids," she answered
dejectedly, "ordinary every-day kids, with Dutch cut hair, Russian
blouses, belts at the knee line, sandals, and nurses to convey them to
and from school. You never saw anything so tiresome."

It grew finally so tiresome that she applied for a transfer, and took
the Knickerbocker spirit down to the Jewish quarter, where it gladdened
the young Jacobs, Rachaels, Isadors and Rebeccas entrusted to her care.
Her place among the nursery pets was taken by a dark-eyed Russian girl,
who found the uptown babies, the despised "just kids," as entertaining,
as lovable, and as instructive as the Knickerbocker girl found the Jews.
Well, and so they are all of them, lovable, entertaining and
instructive, and the man or woman who goes among them with an open heart
and eye will find much material for thought and humility, and one
function of the public school is to promote this understanding and
appreciation. It has done wonders in the past, and every year finds it
better equipped for its work of amalgamation. The making of an American
citizen is its stated function, but its graduates will be citizens not
only of America. In sympathy, at least, they will be citizens of the
world.


FINIS





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