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Title: Kent Knowles: Quahaug
Author: Lincoln, Joseph Crosby, 1870-1944
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 "Kent Knowles: Quahaug" ***

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KENT KNOWLES: QUAHAUG


By Joseph C. Lincoln



1914



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

I.     Which is not a chapter at all

II.    Which repeats, for the most part, what Jim Campbell said to me and
       what I said to him

III.   Which, although it is largely family history, should not be skipped
       by the reader

IV.    In which Hephzy and I and the Plutonia sail together

V.     In which we view, and even mingle slightly with, the upper classes

VI.    In which we are received at Bancroft's Hotel and I receive a letter

VII.   In which a dream becomes a reality

VIII.  In which the pilgrims become tenants

IX.    In which we make the acquaintance of Mayberry and a portion of
       Burgleston Bogs

X.     In which I break all previous resolutions and make a new one

XI.    In which complications become more complicated

XII.   In which the truth is told at last

XIII.  In which Hephzy and I agree to live for each other

XIV.   In which I play golf and cross the channel

XV.    In which I learn that all abbeys are not churches

XVI.   In which I take my turn at playing the invalid

XVII.  In which I, as well as Mr. Solomon Cripps, am surprised

XVIII. In which the pilgrimage ends where it began

XIX.   Which treats of quahaugs in general



KENT KNOWLES: QUAHAUG



CHAPTER I

Which is Not a Chapter at All


It was Asaph Tidditt who told me how to begin this history. Perhaps I
should be very much obliged to Asaph; perhaps I shouldn't. He has gotten
me out of a difficulty--or into one; I am far from certain which.

Ordinarily--I am speaking now of the writing of swashbuckling
romances, which is, or was, my trade--I swear I never have called it
a profession--the beginning of a story is the least of the troubles
connected with its manufacture. Given a character or two and a
situation, the beginning of one of those romances is, or was, pretty
likely to be something like this:

"It was a black night. Heavy clouds had obscured the setting sun and
now, as the clock in the great stone tower boomed twelve, the darkness
was pitchy."

That is a good safe beginning. Midnight, a stone tower, a booming clock,
and darkness make an appeal to the imagination. On a night like that
almost anything may happen. A reader of one of my romances--and
readers there must be, for the things did, and still do, sell to some
extent--might be fairly certain that something WOULD happen before the
end of the second page. After that the somethings continued to happen as
fast as I could invent them.

But this story was different. The weather or the time had nothing to do
with its beginning. There were no solitary horsemen or strange wayfarers
on lonely roads, no unexpected knocks at the doors of taverns, no
cloaked personages landing from boats rowed by black-browed seamen with
red handkerchiefs knotted about their heads and knives in their
belts. The hero was not addressed as "My Lord"; he was not "Sir
Somebody-or-other" in disguise. He was not young and handsome; there was
not even "a certain something in his manner and bearing which hinted of
an eventful past." Indeed there was not. For, if this particular yarn or
history or chronicle which I had made up my mind to write, and which I
am writing now, had or has a hero, I am he. And I am Hosea Kent Knowles,
of Bayport, Massachusetts, the latter the village in which I was born
and in which I have lived most of the time since I was twenty-seven
years old. Nobody calls me "My Lord." Hephzy has always called me
"Hosy"--a name which I despise--and the others, most of them, "Kent" to
my face and "The Quahaug" behind my back, a quahaug being a very common
form of clam which is supposed to lead a solitary existence and to
keep its shell tightly shut. If anything in my manner had hinted at a
mysterious past no one in Bayport would have taken the hint. Bayporters
know my past and that of my ancestors only too well.

As for being young and handsome--well, I was thirty-eight years old last
March. Which is quite enough on THAT subject.

But I had determined to write the story, so I sat down to begin it. And
immediately I got into difficulties. How should I begin? I might begin
at any one of a dozen places--with Hephzy's receiving the Raymond and
Whitcomb circular; with our arrival in London; with Jim Campbell's visit
to me here in Bayport; with the curious way in which the letter reached
us, after crossing the ocean twice. Any one of these might serve as a
beginning--but which? I made I don't know how many attempts, but not
one was satisfactory. I, who had begun I am ashamed to tell you how many
stories--yes, and had finished them and seen them in print as well--was
stumped at the very beginning of this one. Like Sim Phinney I had
worked at my job "a long spell" and "cal'lated" I knew it, but here
was something I didn't know. As Sim said, when he faced his problem, "I
couldn't seem to get steerage way on her."

Simeon, you see--He is Angeline Phinney's second cousin and lives in
the third house beyond the Holiness Bethel on the right-hand side of the
road--Simeon has "done carpentering" here in Bayport all his life. He
built practically every henhouse now gracing or disgracing the backyards
of our village. He is our "henhouse specialist," so to speak. He has
even been known to boast of his skill. "Henhouses!" snorted Sim; "land
of love! I can build a henhouse with my eyes shut. Nowadays when another
one of them foolheads that's been readin' 'How to Make a Million Poultry
Raisin'' in the Farm Gazette comes to me and says 'Henhouse,' I say,
'Yes sir. Fifteen dollars if you pay me cash now and a hundred and
fifteen if you want to wait and pay me out of your egg profits. That's
all there is to it.'"

And yet, when Captain Darius Nickerson, who made the most of his money
selling fifty-foot lots of sand, beachgrass and ticks to summer
people for bungalow sites--when Captain Darius, grown purse-proud and
vainglorious, expressed a desire for a henhouse with a mansard roof and
a cupola, the latter embellishments to match those surmounting his own
dwelling, Simeon was set aback with his canvas flapping. At the end of
a week he had not driven a nail. "Godfrey's mighty!" he is reported to
have exclaimed. "I don't know whether to build the average cupola and
trust to a hen's fittin' it, or take an average hen and build a cupola
round her. Maybe I'll be all right after I get started, but it's where
to start that beats me."

Where to start beat me, also, and it might be beating me yet, if I
hadn't dropped in at the post-office and heard Asaph Tidditt telling
a story to the group around the stove. After he had finished, and,
the mail being sorted, we were walking homeward together, I asked a
question.

"Asaph," said I, "when you start to spin a yarn how do you begin?"

"Hey?" he exclaimed. "How do I begin? Why, I just heave to and go to
work and begin, that's all."

"Yes, I know, but where do you begin?"

"At the beginnin', naturally. If you was cal'latin' to sail a boat race
you wouldn't commence at t'other end of the course, would you?"

"_I_ might; practical people wouldn't, I suppose. But--what IS the
beginning? Suppose there were a lot of beginnings and you didn't know
which to choose."

"Oh, we-ll, in that case I'd just sort of--of edge around till I found
one that--that was a beginnin' of SOMETHIN' and I'd start there. You
understand, don't you? Take that yarn I was spinnin' just now--that one
about Josiah Dimick's great uncle's pig on his mother's side. I mean
his uncle on his mother's side, not the pig, of course. Now I hadn't no
intention of tellin' about that hog; hadn't thought of it for a thousand
year, as you might say. I just commenced to tell about Angie Phinney,
about how fast she could talk, and that reminded me of a parrot
that belonged to Sylvanus Cahoon's sister--Violet, the sister's name
was--loony name, too, if you ask ME, 'cause she was a plaguey sight
nigher bein' a sunflower than she was a violet--weighed two hundred and
ten and had a face on her as red as--"

"Just a minute, Ase. About that pig?"

"Oh, yes! Well, the pig reminded me of Violet's parrot and the parrot
reminded me of a Plymouth Rock rooster I had that used to roost in the
pigpen nights--wouldn't use the henhouse no more'n you nor I would--and
that, naturally, made me think of pigs, and pigs fetched Josiah's
uncle's pig to mind and there I was all ready to start on the yarn. It
pretty often works out that way. When you want to start a yarn and you
can't start--you've forgot it, or somethin'--just begin somewhere, get
goin' somehow. Edge around and keep edgin' around and pretty soon you'll
fetch up at the right place TO start. See, don't you, Kent?"

I saw--that is, I saw enough. I came home and this morning I began the
"edging around" process. I don't seem to have "fetched up" anywhere in
particular, but I shall keep on with the edging until I do. As Asaph
says, I must begin somewhere, so I shall begin with the Saturday morning
of last April when Jim Campbell, my publisher and my friend--which is
by no means such an unusual combination as many people think--sat on the
veranda of my boathouse overlooking Cape Cod Bay and discussed my past,
present and, more particularly, my future.



CHAPTER II

Which Repeats, for the Most Part, What Jim Campbell Said to Me and What
I Said to Him


"Jim," said I, "what is the matter with me?"

Jim, who was seated in the ancient and dilapidated arm-chair which
was the finest piece of furniture in the boathouse and which I always
offered to visitors, looked at me over the collar of my sweater. I used
the sweater as I did the arm-chair when I did not have visitors. He was
using it then because, like an idiot, he had come to Cape Cod in April
with nothing warmer than a very natty suit and a light overcoat. Of
course one may go clamming and fishing in a light overcoat, but--one
doesn't.

Jim looked at me over the collar of my sweater. Then he crossed
his oilskinned and rubber-booted legs--they were my oilskins and my
boots--and answered promptly.

"Indigestion," he said. "You ate nine of those biscuits this morning; I
saw you."

"I did not," I retorted, "because you saw them first. MY interior is in
its normal condition. As for yours--"

"Mine," he interrupted, filling his pipe from my tobacco pouch, "being
accustomed to a breakfast, not a gorge, is abnormal but satisfactory,
thank you--quite satisfactory."

"That," said I, "we will discuss later, when I have you out back of the
bar in my catboat. Judging from present indications there will be some
sea-running. The 'Hephzy' is a good, capable craft, but a bit cranky,
like the lady she is named for. I imagine she will roll."

He didn't like that. You see, I had sailed with him before and I
remembered.

"Ho-se-a," he drawled, "you have a vivid imagination. It is a pity you
don't use more of it in those stories of yours."

"Humph! I am obliged to use the most of it on the royalty statements you
send me. If you call me 'Hosea' again I will take the 'Hephzy' across
the Point Rip. The waves there are fifteen feet high at low tide. See
here, I asked you a serious question and I should like a serious answer.
Jim, what IS the matter with me? Have I written out or what is the
trouble?"

He looked at me again.

"Are you in earnest?" he asked.

"I am, very much in earnest."

"And you really want to talk shop after a breakfast like that and on a
morning like this?"

"I do."

"Was that why you asked me to come to Bayport and spend the week-end?"

"No-o. No, of course not."

"You're another; it was. When you met me at the railroad station
yesterday I could see there was something wrong with you. All this
morning you've had something on your chest. I thought it was the
biscuits, of course; but it wasn't, eh?"

"It was not."

"Then what was it? Aren't we paying you a large enough royalty?"

"You are paying me a good deal larger one than I deserve. I don't see
why you do it."

"Oh," with a wave of the hand, "that's all right. The publishing of
books is a pure philanthropy. We are in business for our health, and--"

"Shut up. You know as well as I do that the last two yarns of mine which
your house published have not done as well as the others."

I had caught him now. Anything remotely approaching a reflection upon
the business house of which he was the head was sufficient to stir
up Jim Campbell. That business, its methods and its success, were his
idols.

"I don't know any such thing," he protested, hotly. "We sold--"

"Hang the sale! You sold quite enough. It is an everlasting miracle
to me that you are able to sell a single copy. Why a self-respecting
person, possessed of any intelligence whatever, should wish to read the
stuff I write, to say nothing of paying money for the privilege, I can't
understand."

"You don't have to understand. No one expects an author to understand
anything. All you are expected to do is to write; we'll attend to the
rest of it. And as for sales--why, 'The Black Brig'--that was the last
one, wasn't it?--beat the 'Omelet' by eight thousand or more."

"The Omelet" was our pet name for "The Queen's Amulet," my first offence
in the literary line. It was a highly seasoned concoction of revolution
and adventure in a mythical kingdom where life was not dull, to say the
least. The humblest character in it was a viscount. Living in Bayport
had, naturally, made me familiar with the doings of viscounts.

"Eight thousand more than the last isn't so bad, is it?" demanded Jim
Campbell combatively.

"It isn't. It is astonishingly good. It is the books themselves that
are bad. The 'Omelet' was bad enough, but I wrote it more as a joke than
anything else. I didn't take it seriously at all. Every time I called
a duke by his Christian name I grinned. But nowadays I don't grin--I
swear. I hate the things, Jim. They're no good. And the reviewers are
beginning to tumble to the fact that they're no good, too. You saw the
press notices yourself. 'Another Thriller by the Indefatigable Knowles'
'Barnacles, Buccaneers and Blood, not to Mention Beauty and the
Bourbons.' That's the way two writers headed their articles about 'The
Black Brig.' And a third said that I must be getting tired; I wrote as
if I was. THAT fellow was right. I am tired, Jim. I'm tired and sick
of writing slush. I can't write any more of it. And yet I can't write
anything else."

Jim's pipe had gone out. Now he relit it and tossed the match over the
veranda rail.

"How do you know you can't?" he demanded.

"Can't what?"

"Can't write anything but slush?"

"Ah ha! Then it is slush. You admit it."

"I don't admit anything of the kind. You may not be a William
Shakespeare or even a George Meredith, but you have written some mighty
interesting stories. Why, I know a chap who sits up till morning to
finish a book of yours. Can't sleep until he has finished it."

"What's the matter with him; insomnia?"

"No; he's a night watchman. Does that satisfy you, you crossgrained
old shellfish? Come on, let's dig clams--some of your own blood
relations--and forget it."

"I don't want to forget it and there is plenty of time for clamming. The
tide won't cover the flats for two hours yet. I tell you I'm serious,
Jim. I can't write any more. I know it. The stuff I've been writing
makes me sick. I hate it, I tell you. What the devil I'm going to do for
a living I can't see--but I can't write another story."

Jim put his pipe in his pocket. I think at last he was convinced that I
meant what I said, which I certainly did. The last year had been a year
of torment to me. I had finished the 'Brig,' as a matter of duty, but if
that piratical craft had sunk with all hands, including its creator, I
should not have cared. I drove myself to my desk each day, as a horse
might be driven to a treadmill, but the animal could have taken no less
interest in his work than I had taken in mine. It was bad--bad--bad;
worthless and hateful. There wasn't a new idea in it and I hadn't one
in my head. I, who had taken up writing as a last resort, a gamble which
might, on a hundred-to-one chance, win where everything else had failed,
had now reached the point where that had failed, too. Campbell's surmise
was correct; with the pretence of asking him to the Cape for a
week-end of fishing and sailing I had lured him there to tell him of my
discouragement and my determination to quit.

He took his feet from the rail and hitched his chair about until he
faced me.

"So you're not going to write any more," he said.

"I'm not. I can't."

"What are you going to do; live on back royalties and clams?"

"I may have to live on the clams; my back royalties won't keep me very
long."

"Humph! I should think they might keep you a good while down here. You
must have something in the stocking. You can't have wasted very much in
riotous living on this sand-heap. What have you done with your money,
for the last ten years; been leading a double life?"

"I've found leading a single one hard enough. I have saved something, of
course. It isn't the money that worries me, Jim; I told you that. It's
myself; I'm no good. Every author, sometime or other, reaches the point
where he knows perfectly well he has done all the real work he can
ever do, that he has written himself out. That's what's the matter with
me--I'm written out."

Jim snorted. "For Heaven's sake, Kent Knowles," he demanded, "how old
are you?"

"I'm thirty-eight, according to the almanac, but--"

"Thirty-eight! Why, Thackeray wrote--"

"Drop it! I know when Thackeray wrote 'Vanity Fair' as well as you do.
I'm no Thackeray to begin with, and, besides, I am older at thirty-eight
than he was when he died--yes, older than he would have been if he had
lived twice as long. So far as feeling and all the rest of it go, I'm a
second Methusaleh."

"My soul! hear the man! And I'm forty-two myself. Well, Grandpa, what do
you expect me to do; get you admitted to the Old Man's Home?"

"I expect--" I began, "I expect--" and I concluded with the lame
admission that I didn't expect him to do anything. It was up to me to do
whatever must be done, I imagined.

He smiled grimly.

"Glad your senility has not affected that remnant of your common-sense,"
he declared. "You're dead right, my boy; it IS up to you. You ought to
be ashamed of yourself."

"I am, but that doesn't help me a whole lot."

"Nothing will help you as long as you think and speak as you have this
morning. See here, Kent! answer me a question or two, will you? They may
be personal questions, but will you answer them?"

"I guess so. There has been what a disinterested listener might call
a slightly personal flavor to your remarks so far. Do your worst. Fire
away."

"All right. You've lived in Bayport ten years or so, I know that. What
have you done in all that time--besides write?"

"Well, I've continued to live."

"Doubted. You've continued to exist; but how? I've been here before.
This isn't my first visit, by a good deal. Each time I have been
here your daily routine--leaving out the exciting clam hunts and the
excursions in quest of the ferocious flounder, like the one we're
supposed--mind, I say supposed--to be on at the present moment--you
have put in the day about like this: Get up, bathe, eat, walk to the
post-office, walk home, sit about, talk a little, read some, walk some
more, eat again, smoke, talk, read, eat for the third time, smoke, talk,
read and go to bed. That's the program, isn't it?"

"Not exactly. I play tennis in summer--when there is anyone to play with
me--and golf, after a fashion. I used to play both a good deal, when I
was younger. I swim, and I shoot a little, and--and--"

"How about society? Have any, do you?"

"In the summer, when the city people are here, there is a good deal
going on, if you care for it--picnics and clam bakes and teas and lawn
parties and such."

"Heavens! what reckless dissipation! Do you indulge?"

"Why, no--not very much. Hang it all, Jim! you know I'm no society man.
I used to do the usual round of fool stunts when I was younger, but--"

"But now you're too antique, I suppose. Wonder that someone hasn't
collected you as a genuine Chippendale or something. So you don't 'tea'
much?"

"Not much. I'm not often invited, to tell you the truth. The summer
crowd doesn't take kindly to me, I'm afraid."

"Astonishing! You're such a chatty, entertaining, communicative cuss on
first acquaintance, too. So captivatingly loquacious to strangers. I can
imagine how you'd shine at a 'tea.' Every summer girl that tried to talk
to you would be frost-bitten. Do you accept invitations when they do
come?"

"Not often nowadays. You see, I know they don't really want me."

"How do you know it?"

"Why--well, why should they? Everybody else calls me--"

"They call you a clam and so you try to live up to your reputation. I
know you, Kent. You think yourself a tough old bivalve, but the most
serious complaint you suffer from is ingrowing sensitiveness. They do
want you. They'd invite you if you gave them half a chance. Oh, I know
you won't, of course; but if I had my way I'd have you dragged by main
strength to every picnic and tea and feminine talk-fest within twenty
miles. You might meet some persevering female who would propose
marriage. YOU never would, but SHE might."

I rose to my feet in disgust.

"We'll go clamming," said I.

He did not move.

"We will--later on," he answered. "We haven't got to the last page
of the catechism yet. I mentioned matrimony because a good, capable,
managing wife would be my first prescription in your case. I have one
or two more up my sleeve. Tell me this: How often do you get away from
Bayport? How often do you get to--well, to Boston, we'll say? How many
times have you been there in the last year?"

"I don't know. A dozen, perhaps."

"What did you do when you went?"

"Various things. Shopped some, went to the theater occasionally, if
there happened to be anything on that I cared to see. Bought a good many
books. Saw the new Sargent pictures at the library. And--and--"

"And shook hands with your brother fossils at the museum, I suppose.
Wild life you lead, Kent. Did you visit anybody? Meet any friends or
acquaintances--any live ones?"

"Not many. I haven't many friends, Jim; you know that. As for the wild
life--well, I made two visits to New York this year."

"Yes," drily; "and we saw Sothern and Marlowe and had dinner at the
Holland. The rest of the time we talked shop. That was the first visit.
The second was more exciting still; we talked shop ALL the time and you
took the six o'clock train home again."

"You're wrong there. I saw the new loan collections at the Metropolitan
and heard Ysaye play at Carnegie Hall. I didn't start for home until the
next day."

"Is that so. That's news to me. You said you were going that afternoon.
That was to put the kibosh on my intention of taking you home to my wife
and her bridge party, I suppose. Was it?"

"Well--well, you see, Jim, I--I don't play bridge and I AM such a
stick in a crowd like that. I wanted to stay and you were mighty kind,
but--but--"

"All right. All right, my boy. Next time it will be Bustanoby's, the
Winter Garden and a three A. M. cabaret for yours. My time is coming.
Now--Well, now we'll go clamming."

He swung out of the arm-chair and walked to the top of the steps leading
down to the beach. I was surprised, of course; I have known Jim Campbell
a long time, but he can surprise me even yet.

"Here! hold on!" I protested. "How about the rest of that catechism?"

"You've had it."

"Were those all the questions you wanted to ask?"

"Yes."

"Humph! And that is all the advice and encouragement I'm to get from
you! How about those prescriptions you had up your sleeve?"

"You'll get those by and by. Before I leave this gay and festive scene
to-morrow I'm going to talk to you, Ho-se-a. And you're going to listen.
You'll listen to old Doctor Campbell; HE'LL prescribe for you, don't
you worry. And now," beginning to descend the steps, "now for clams and
flounders."

"And the Point Rip," I added, maliciously, for his frivolous treatment
of what was to me a very serious matter, was disappointing and
provoking. "Don't forget the Point Rip."

We dug the clams--they were for bait--we boarded the "Hephzy," sailed
out to the fishing grounds, and caught flounders. I caught the most of
them; Jim was not interested in fishing during the greater part of the
time. Then we sailed home again and walked up to the house. Hephzibah,
for whom my boat is named, met us at the back door. As usual her
greeting was not to the point and practical.

"Leave your rubber boots right outside on the porch," she said. "Here,
give me those flatfish; I'll take care of 'em. Hosy, you'll find dry
things ready in your room. Here's your shoes; I've been warmin' 'em. Mr.
Campbell I've put a suit of Hosy's and some flannels on your bed. They
may not fit you, but they'll be lots better than the damp ones you've
got on. You needn't hurry; dinner won't be ready till you are."

I did not say anything; I knew Hephzy--had known her all my life. Jim,
who, naturally enough, didn't know her as well, protested.

"We're not wet, Miss Cahoon," he declared. "At least, I'm not, and I
don't see how Kent can be. We both wore oilskins."

"That doesn't make any difference. You ought to change your clothes
anyhow. Been out in that boat, haven't you?"

"Yes, but--"

"Well, then! Don't say another word. I'll have a fire in the
sittin'-room and somethin' hot ready when you come down. Hosy, be
sure and put on BOTH the socks I darned for you. Don't get thinkin' of
somethin' else and come down with one whole and one holey, same as you
did last time. You must excuse me, Mr. Campbell. I've got saleratus
biscuits in the oven."

She hastened into the kitchen. When Jim and I, having obeyed orders
to the extent of leaving our boots on the porch, passed through that
kitchen she was busy with the tea-kettle. I led the way through the
dining-room and up the front stairs. My visitor did not speak until we
reached the second story. Then he expressed his feelings.

"Say, Kent" he demanded, "are you going to change your clothes?"

"Yes."

"Why? You're no wetter than I am, are you?"

"Not a bit, but I'm going to change, just the same. It's the easier
way."

"It is, is it! What's the other way?"

"The other way is to keep on those you're wearing and take the
consequences."

"What consequences?"

"Jamaica ginger, hot water bottles and an afternoon's roast in front of
the sitting-room fire. Hephzibah went out sailing with me last October
and caught cold. That was enough; no one else shall have the experience
if she can help it."

"But--but good heavens! Kent, do you mean to say you always have to
change when you come in from sailing?"

"Except in summer, yes."

"But why?"

"Because Hephzy tells me to."

"Do you always do what she tells you?"

"Generally. It's the easiest way, as I said before."

"Good--heavens! And she darns your socks and tells you what--er lingerie
to wear and--does she wash your face and wipe your nose and scrub behind
your ears?"

"Not exactly, but she probably would if I didn't do it."

"Well, I'll be hanged! And she extends the same treatment to all your
guests?"

"I don't have any guests but you. No doubt she would if I did. She
mothers every stray cat and sick chicken in the neighborhood. There,
Jim, you trot along and do as you're told like a nice little boy. I'll
join you in the sitting-room."

"Humph! perhaps I'd better. I may be spanked and put to bed if I don't.
Well, well! and you are the author of 'The Black Brig!' 'Buccaneers and
Blood!' 'Bibs and Butterscotch' it should be! Don't stand out here in
the cold hall, Hosy darling; you may get the croup if you do."

I was waiting in the sitting-room when he came down. There was a roaring
fire in the big, old-fashioned fireplace. That fireplace had been
bricked up in the days when people used those abominations, stoves. As a
boy I was well acquainted with the old "gas burner" with the iron urn
on top and the nickeled ornaments and handles which Mother polished so
assiduously. But the gas burner had long since gone to the junk dealer.
Among the improvements which my first royalty checks made possible were
steam heat and the restoration of the fireplace.

Jim found me sitting before the fire in one of the two big "wing" chairs
which I had purchased when Darius Barlay's household effects were sold
at auction. I should not have acquired them as cheaply if Captain Cyrus
Whittaker had been at home when the auction took place. Captain Cy loves
old-fashioned things as much as I do and, as he has often told me since,
he meant to land those chairs some day if he had to run his bank account
high and dry in consequence. But the Captain and his wife--who used to
be Phoebe Dawes, our school-teacher here in Bayport--were away visiting
their adopted daughter, Emily, who is married and living in Boston, and
I got the chairs.

At the Barclay auction I bought also the oil painting of the bark
"Freedom"--a command of Captain Elkanah Barclay, uncle of the late
Darius--and the set--two volumes missing--of The Spectator, bound in
sheepskin. The "Freedom" is depicted "Entering the Port of Genoa, July
10th, 1848," and if the port is somewhat wavy and uncertain, the
bark's canvas and rigging are definite and rigid enough to make up.
The Spectator set is chiefly remarkable for its marginal notes; Captain
Elkanah bought the books in London and read and annotated at spare
intervals during subsequent voyages. His opinions were decided and his
notes nautical and emphatic. Hephzibah read a few pages of the
notes when the books first came into the house and then went to
prayer-meeting. As she had announced her intention of remaining at home
that evening I was surprised--until I read them myself.

Jim came downstairs, arrayed in the suit which Hephzy had laid out for
him. I made no comment upon his appearance. To do so would have been
superfluous; he looked all the comments necessary.

I waved my hand towards the unoccupied wing chair and he sat down. Two
glasses, one empty and the other half full of a steaming mixture, were
on the little table beside us.

"Help yourself, Jim," I said, indicating the glasses. He took up the one
containing the mixture and regarded it hopefully.

"What?" he asked.

"A Cahoon toddy," said I. "Warranted to keep off chills, rheumatism,
lumbago and kindred miseries. Good for what ails you. Don't wait; I've
had mine."

He took a sniff and then a very small sip. His face expressed genuine
emotion.

"Whew!" he gasped, choking. "What in blazes--?"

"Jamaica ginger, sugar and hot water," I explained blandly. "It
won't hurt you--longer than five minutes. It is Hephzy's invariable
prescription."

"Good Lord! Did you drink yours?"

"No--I never do, unless she watches me."

"But your glass is empty. What did you do with it?"

"Emptied it behind the back log. Of course, if you prefer to drink it--"

"Drink it!" His "toddy" splashed the back log, causing a tremendous
sizzle.

Before he could relieve his mind further, Hephzy appeared to announce
that dinner was ready if we were. We were, most emphatically, so we went
into the dining-room.

Hephzy and Jim did most of the talking during the meal. I had talked
more that forenoon than I had for a week--I am not a chatty person,
ordinarily, which, in part, explains my nickname--and I was very willing
to eat and listen. Hephzy, who was garbed in her best gown--best weekday
gown, that is; she kept her black silk for Sundays--talked a good deal,
mostly about dreams and presentiments. Susanna Wixon, Tobias Wixon's
oldest daughter, waited on table, when she happened to think of it, and
listened when she did not. Susanna had been hired to do the waiting and
the dish-washing during Campbell's brief visit. It was I who hired
her. If I had had my way she would have been a permanent fixture in the
household, but Hephzy scoffed at the idea. "Pity if I can't do housework
for two folks," she declared. "I don't care if you can afford it.
Keepin' hired help in a family no bigger than this, is a sinful
extravagance." As Susanna's services had been already engaged for the
weekend she could not discharge her, but she insisted on doing all the
cooking herself.

Her conversation, as I said, dealt mainly with dreams and presentiments.
Hephzibah is not what I should call a superstitious person. She doesn't
believe in "signs," although she might feel uncomfortable if she broke a
looking-glass or saw the new moon over her left shoulder. She has a most
amazing fund of common-sense and is "down" on Spiritualism to a degree.
It is one of Bayport's pet yarns, that at the Harniss Spiritualist
camp-meeting when the "test medium" announced from the platform that he
had a message for a lady named Hephzibah C--he "seemed to get the name
Hephzibah C"--Hephzy got up and walked out. "Any dead relations I've
got," she declared, "who send messages through a longhaired idiot like
that one up there"--meaning the medium,--"can't have much to say that's
worth listenin' to. They can talk to themselves if they want to, but
they shan't waste MY time."

In but one particular was Hephzy superstitious. Whenever she dreamed of
"Little Frank" she was certain something was going to happen. She had
dreamed of "Little Frank" the night before and, if she had not been
headed off, she would have talked of nothing else.

"I saw him just as plain as I see you this minute, Hosy," she said to
me. "I was somewhere, in a strange place--a foreign place, I should say
'twas--and there I saw him. He didn't know me; at least I don't think he
did."

"Considering that he never saw you that isn't so surprising," I
interrupted. "I think Mr. Campbell would have another cup of coffee if
you urged him. Susanna, take Mr. Campbell's cup."

Jim declined the coffee; said he hadn't finished his first cup yet. I
knew that, of course, but I was trying to head off Hephzy. She refused
to be headed, just then.

"But I knew HIM," she went on. "He looked just the same as he has when
I've seen him before--in the other dreams, you know. The very image of
his mother. Isn't it wonderful, Hosy!"

"Yes; but don't resurrect the family skeletons, Hephzy. Mr. Campbell
isn't interested in anatomy."

"Skeletons! I don't know what you're talkin' about. He wasn't a
skeleton. I saw him just as plain! And I said to myself, 'It's little
Frank!' Now what do you suppose he came to me for? What do you suppose
it means? It means somethin', I know that."

"Means that you weren't sleeping well, probably," I answered. "Jim,
here, will dream of cross-seas and the Point Rip to-night, I have no
doubt."

Jim promptly declared that if he thought that likely he shouldn't mind
so much. What he feared most was a nightmare session with an author.

Hephzibah was interested at once. "Oh, do you dream about authors, Mr.
Campbell?" she demanded. "I presume likely you do, they're so mixed up
with your business. Do your dreams ever come true?"

"Not often," was the solemn reply. "Most of my dream-authors are
rational and almost human."

Hephzy, of course, did not understand this, but it did have the effect
for which I had been striving, that of driving "Little Frank" from her
mind for the time.

"I don't care," she declared, "I s'pose it's awful foolish and silly of
me, but it does seem sometimes as if there was somethin' in dreams, some
kind of dreams. Hosy laughs at me and maybe I ought to laugh at myself,
but some dreams come true, or awfully near to true; now don't they.
Angeline Phinney was in here the other day and she was tellin' about her
second cousin that was--he's dead now--Abednego Small. He was constable
here in Bayport for years; everybody called him 'Uncle Bedny.' Uncle
Bedny had been keepin' company with a woman named Dimick--Josiah
Dimick's niece--lots younger than he, she was. He'd been thinkin' of
marryin' her, so Angie said, but his folks had been talkin' to him,
tellin' him he was too old to take such a young woman for his third
wife, so he had made up his mind to throw her over, to write a letter
sayin' it was all off between 'em. Well, he'd begun the letter but
he never finished it, for three nights runnin' he dreamed that awful
trouble was hangin' over him. That dream made such an impression on him
that he tore the letter up and married the Dimick woman after all. And
then--I didn't know this until Angie told me--it turned out that she
had heard he was goin' to give her the go-by and had made all her
arrangements to sue him for breach of promise if he did. That was the
awful trouble, you see, and the dream saved him from it."

I smiled. "The fault there was in the interpretation of the dream," I
said. "The 'awful trouble' of the breach of promise suit wouldn't have
been a circumstance to the trouble poor Uncle Bedny got into by marrying
Ann Dimick. THAT trouble lasted till he died."

Hephzibah laughed and said she guessed that was so, she hadn't thought
of it in that way.

"Probably dreams are all nonsense," she admitted. "Usually, I don't pay
much attention to 'em. But when I dream of poor 'Little Frank,' away off
there, I--"

"Come into the sitting-room, Jim," I put in hastily. "I have a cigar or
two there. I don't buy them in Bayport, either."

"And who," asked Jim, as we sat smoking by the fire, "is Little Frank?"

"He is a mythical relative of ours," I explained, shortly. "He was born
twenty years ago or so--at least we heard that he was; and we haven't
heard anything of him since, except by the dream route, which is not
entirely convincing. He is Hephzy's pet obsession. Kindly forget him, to
oblige me."

He looked puzzled, but he did not mention "Little Frank" again, for
which I was thankful.

That afternoon we walked up to the village, stopping in at Simmons's
store, which is also the post-office, for the mail. Captain Cyrus
Whittaker happened to be there, also Asaph Tidditt and Bailey Bangs and
Sylvanus Cahoon and several others. I introduced Campbell to the crowd
and he seemed to be enjoying himself. When we came out and were walking
home again, he observed:

"That Whittaker is an interesting chap, isn't he?"

"Yes," I said. "He is all right. Been everywhere and seen everything."

"And that," with an odd significance in his tone, "may possibly help to
make him interesting, don't you think?"

"I suppose so. He lives here in Bayport now, though."

"So I gathered. Popular, is he?"

"Very."

"Satisfied with life?"

"Seems to be."

"Hum! No one calls HIM a--what is it--quahaug?"

"No, I'm the only human clam in this neighborhood."

He did not say any more, nor did I. My fit of the blues was on again
and his silence on the subject in which I was interested, my work and my
future, troubled me and made me more despondent. I began to lose faith
in the "prescription" which he had promised so emphatically. How could
he, or anyone else, help me? No one could write my stories but myself,
and I knew, only too well, that I could not write them.

The only mail matter in our box was a letter addressed to Hephzibah.
I forgot it until after supper and then I gave it to her. Jim retired
early; the salt air made him sleepy, so he said, and he went upstairs
shortly after nine. He had not mentioned our talk of the morning, nor
did he until I left him at the door of his room. Then he said:

"Kent, I've got one of the answers to your conundrum. I've diagnosed one
of your troubles. You're blind."

"Blind?"

"Yes, blind. Or, if not blind altogether you're suffering from the worse
case of far-sightedness I ever saw. All your literary--we'll call it
that for compliment's sake--all your literary life you've spent writing
about people and things so far off you don't know anything about them.
You and your dukes and your earls and your titled ladies! What do you
know of that crowd? You never saw a lord in your life. Why don't you
write of something near by, something or somebody you are acquainted
with?"

"Acquainted with! You're crazy, man. What am I acquainted with, except
this house, and myself and my books and--and Bayport?"

"That's enough. Why, there is material in that gang at the post-office
to make a dozen books. Write about them."

"Tut! tut! tut! You ARE crazy. What shall I write; the life of Ase
Tidditt in four volumes, beginning with 'I swan to man' and ending with
'By godfrey'?"

"You might do worse. If the book were as funny as its hero I'd undertake
to sell a few copies."

"Funny! _I_ couldn't write a funny book."

"Not an intentionally funny one, you mean. But there! There's no use to
talk to you."

"There is not, if you talk like an imbecile. Is this your brilliant
'prescription'?"

"No. It might be; it would be, if you would take it, but you won't--not
now. You need something else first and I'll give it to you. But I'll
tell you this, and I mean it: Downstairs, in that dining-room of yours,
there's one mighty good story, at least."

"The dining-room? A story in the dining-room?"

"Yes. Or it was there when we passed the door just now."

I looked at him. He seemed to be serious, but I knew he was not. I hate
riddles.

"Oh, go to blazes!" I retorted, and turned away.

I looked into the dining-room as I went by. There was no story in sight
there, so far as I could see. Hephzy was seated by the table, mending
something, something of mine, of course. She looked up.

"Oh, Hosy," she said, "that letter you brought was a travel book from
the Raymond and Whitcomb folks. I sent a stamp for it. It's awfully
interesting! All about tours through England and France and Switzerland
and everywhere. So cheap they are! I'm pickin' out the ones I'm goin' on
some day. The pictures are lovely. Don't you want to see 'em?"

"Not now," I replied. Another obsession of Hephzy's was travel. She,
who had never been further from Bayport than Hartford, Connecticut, was
forever dreaming of globe-trotting. It was not a new disease with her,
by any means; she had been dreaming the same things ever since I had
known her, and that is since I knew anything. Some day, SOME day she
was going to this, that and the other place. She knew all about these
places, because she had read about them over and over again. Her
knowledge, derived as it was from so many sources, was curiously mixed,
but it was comprehensive, of its kind. She was continually sending
for Cook's circulars and booklets advertising personally conducted
excursions. And, with the arrival of each new circular or booklet, she
picked out, as she had just done, the particular tours she would go on
when her "some day" came. It was funny, this queer habit of hers, but
not half as funny as the thought of her really going would have been. I
would have as soon thought of our front door leaving home and starting
on its travels as of Hephzy's doing it. The door was no more a part and
fixture of that home than she was.

I went into my study, which adjoins the sitting-room, and sat down at my
desk. Not with the intention of writing anything, or even of considering
something to write about. That I made up my mind to forget for this
night, at least. My desk chair was my usual seat in that room and I took
that seat as a matter of habit.

As a matter of habit also I looked about for a book. I did not have to
look far. Books were my extravagance--almost my only one. They filled
the shelves to the ceiling on three sides of the study and overflowed in
untidy heaps on the floor. They were Hephzy's bugbear, for I refused to
permit their being "straightened out" or arranged.

I looked about for a book and selected several, but, although they were
old favorites, I could not interest myself in any of them. I tried and
tried, but even Mr. Pepys, that dependable solace of a lonely hour,
failed to interest me with his chatter. Perhaps Campbell's pointed
remarks concerning lords and ladies had its effect here. Old Samuel
loved to write of such people, having a wide acquaintance with them, and
perhaps that very acquaintance made me jealous. At any rate I threw the
volume back upon its pile and began to think of myself, and of my work,
the very thing I had expressly determined not to do when I came into the
room.

Jim's foolish and impossible advice to write of places and people I knew
haunted and irritated me. I did know Bayport--yes, and it might be true
that the group at the post-office contained possible material for many
books; but, if so, it was material for the other man, not for me. "Write
of what you know," said Jim. And I knew so little. There was at least
one good yarn in the dining-room at that moment, he had declared. He
must have meant Hephzibah, but, if he did, what was there in Hephzibah's
dull, gray life-story to interest an outside reader? Her story and mine
were interwoven and neither contained anything worth writing about. His
fancy had been caught, probably, by her odd combination of the romantic
and the practical, and in her dream of "Little Frank" he had scented a
mystery. There was no mystery there, nothing but the most commonplace
record of misplaced trust and ingratitude. Similar things happen in so
many families.

However, I began to think of Hephzy and, as I said, of myself, and to
review my life since Ardelia Cahoon and Strickland Morley changed its
course so completely. And now it seems to me that, in the course of
my "edging around" for the beginning of this present chronicle--so
different from anything I have ever written before or ever expected to
write--the time has come when the reader--provided, of course, the
said chronicle is ever finished or ever reaches a reader--should know
something of that life; should know a little of the family history of
the Knowles and the Cahoons and the Morleys.



CHAPTER III

Which, Although It Is Largely Family History, Should Not Be Skipped by
the Reader


Let us take the Knowleses first. My name is Hosea Kent Knowles--I said
that before--and my father was Captain Philander Kent Knowles. He was
lost in the wreck of the steamer "Monarch of the Sea," off Hatteras. The
steamer caught fire in the middle of the night, a howling gale blowing
and the thermometer a few degrees above zero. The passengers and crew
took to the boats and were saved. My father stuck by his ship and went
down with her, as did also her first mate, another Cape-Codder. I was
a baby at the time, and was at Bayport with my mother, Emily Knowles,
formerly Emily Cahoon, Captain Barnabas Cahoon's niece. Mother had a
little money of her own and Father's life was insured for a moderate
sum. Her small fortune was invested for her by her uncle, Captain
Barnabas, who was the Bayport magnate and man of affairs in those days.
Mother and I continued to live in the old house in Bayport and I went
to school in the village until I was fourteen, when I went away to a
preparatory school near Boston. Mother died a year later. I was an only
child, but Hephzibah, who had always seemed like an older sister to me,
now began to "mother" me, the process which she has kept up ever since.

Hephzibah was the daughter of Captain Barnabas by his first wife. Hephzy
was born in 1859, so she is well over fifty now, although no one would
guess it. Her mother died when she was a little girl and ten years later
Captain Barnabas married again. His second wife was Susan Hammond, of
Ostable, and by her he had one daughter, Ardelia. Hephzy has always
declared "Ardelia" to be a pretty name. I have my own opinion on that
subject, but I keep it to myself.

At any rate, Ardelia herself was pretty enough. She was pretty when a
baby and prettier still as a schoolgirl. Her mother--while she lived,
which was not long--spoiled her, and her half-sister, Hephzy, assisted
in the petting and spoiling. Ardelia grew up with the idea that most
things in this world were hers for the asking. Whatever took her fancy
she asked for and, if Captain Barnabas did not give it to her, she
considered herself ill-used. She was the young lady of the family and
Hephzibah was the housekeeper and drudge, an uncomplaining one, be
it understood. For her, as for the Captain, the business of life was
keeping Ardelia contented and happy, and they gloried in the task.
Hephzy might have married well at least twice, but she wouldn't think
of such a thing. "Pa and Ardelia need me," she said; that was reason
sufficient.

In 1888 Captain Barnabas went to Philadelphia on business. He had
retired from active sea-going years before, but he retained an interest
in a certain line of coasting schooners. The Captain, as I said, went to
Philadelphia on business connected with these schooners and Ardelia
went with him. Hephzibah stayed at home, of course; she always stayed
at home, never expected to do anything else, although even then her
favorite reading were books of travel, and pictures of the Alps, and of
St. Peter's at Rome, and the Tower of London were tacked up about her
room. She, too, might have gone to Philadelphia, doubtless, if she had
asked, but she did not ask. Her father did not think of inviting her.
He loved his oldest daughter, although he did not worship her as he did
Ardelia, but it never occurred to him that she, too, might enjoy the
trip. Hephzy was always at home, she WAS home; so at home she remained.

In Philadelphia Ardelia met Strickland Morley.

I give that statement a line all by itself, for it is by far the most
important I have set down so far. The whole story of the Cahoons and the
Knowleses--that is, all of their story which is the foundation of this
history of mine--hinges on just that. If those two had not met I should
not be writing this to-day, I might not be writing at all; instead of
having become a Bayport "quahaug" I might have been the Lord knows what.

However, they did meet, at the home of a wealthy shipping merchant named
Osgood who was a lifelong friend of Captain Barnabas. This shipping
merchant had a daughter and that daughter was giving a party at her
father's home. Barnabas and Ardelia were invited. Strickland Morley was
invited also.

Morley, at that time--I saw a good deal of him afterward, when he was
at Bayport and when I was at the Cahoon house on holidays and
vacations--was a handsome, aristocratic young Englishman. He was
twenty-eight, but he looked younger. He was the second son in a
Leicestershire family which had once been wealthy and influential but
which had, in its later generations, gone to seed. He was educated, in
a general sort of way, was a good dancer, played the violin fairly well,
sang fairly well, had an attractive presence, and was one of the most
plausible and fascinating talkers I ever listened to. He had studied
medicine--studied it after a fashion, that is; he never applied himself
to anything--and was then, in '88, "ship's doctor" aboard a British
steamer, which ran between Philadelphia and Glasgow. Miss Osgood had met
him at the home of a friend of hers who had traveled on that steamer.

Hephzy and I do not agree as to whether or not he actually fell in love
with Ardelia Cahoon. Hephzy, of course, to whom Ardelia was the most
wonderfully beautiful creature on earth, is certain that he did--he
could not help it, she says. I am not so sure. It is very hard for me to
believe that Strickland Morley was ever in love with anyone but himself.
Captain Barnabas was well-to-do and had the reputation of being much
richer than he really was. And Ardelia WAS beautiful, there is no doubt
of that. At all events, Ardelia fell in love, with him, violently,
desperately, head over heels in love, the very moment the two were
introduced. They danced practically every dance together that evening,
met surreptitiously the next day and for five days thereafter, and
on the sixth day Captain Barnabas received a letter from his daughter
announcing that she and Morley were married and had gone to New York
together. "We will meet you there, Pa," wrote Ardelia. "I know you will
forgive me for marrying Strickland. He is the most wonderful man in the
wide world. You will love him, Pa, as I do."

There was very little love expressed by the Captain when he read the
note. According to Mr. Osgood's account, Barnabas's language was a
throwback from the days when he was first mate on a Liverpool packet.
That his idolized daughter had married without asking his consent
was bad enough; that she had married an Englishman was worse. Captain
Barnabas hated all Englishmen. A ship of his had been captured and
burned, in the war time, by the "Alabama," a British built privateer,
and the very mildest of the terms he applied to a "John Bull" will not
bear repetition in respectable society. He would not forgive Ardelia.
She and her "Cockney husband" might sail together to the most tropical
of tropics, or words to that effect.

But he did forgive her, of course. Likewise he forgave his son-in-law.
When the Captain returned to Bayport he brought the newly wedded pair
with him. I was not present at that homecoming. I was away at prep
school, digging at my examinations, trying hard to forget that I was
an orphan, but with the dull ache caused by my mother's death always
grinding at my heart. Many years ago she died, but the ache comes back
now, as I think of her. There is more self-reproach in it than
there used to be, more vain regrets for impatient words and wasted
opportunities. Ah, if some of us--boys grown older--might have our
mothers back again, would we be as impatient and selfish now? Would we
neglect the opportunities? I think not; I hope not.

Hephzibah, after she got over the shock of the surprise and the pain
of sharing her beloved sister with another, welcomed that other for
Ardelia's sake. She determined to like him very much indeed. This wasn't
so hard, at first. Everyone liked and trusted Strickland Morley at first
sight. Afterward, when they came to know him better, they were not--if
they were as wise and discerning as Hephzy--so sure of the trust. The
wise and discerning were not, I say; Captain Barnabas, though wise and
shrewd enough in other things, trusted him to the end.

Morley made it a point to win the affection and goodwill of his
father-in-law. For the first month or two after the return to Bayport
the new member of the family was always speaking of his plans for the
future, of his profession and how he intended soon, very soon, to look
up a good location and settle down to practice. Whenever he spoke
thus, Captain Barnabas and Ardelia begged him not to do it yet, to wait
awhile. "I am so happy with you and Pa and Hephzy," declared Ardelia.
"I can't bear to go away yet, Strickland. And Pa doesn't want us to; do
you, Pa?"

Of course Captain Barnabas agreed with her, he always did, and so the
Morleys remained at Bayport in the old house. Then came the first of the
paralytic shocks--a very slight one--which rendered Captain Barnabas,
the hitherto hale, active old seaman, unfit for exertion or the cares of
business. He was not bedridden by any means; he could still take short
walks, attend town meetings and those of the parish committee, but he
must not, so Dr. Parker said, be allowed to worry about anything.

And Morley took it upon himself to prevent that worry. He spoke no more
of leaving Bayport and settling down to practice his profession. Instead
he settled down in Bayport and took the Captain's business cares upon
his own shoulders. Little by little he increased his influence over the
old man. He attended to the latter's investments, took charge of
his bank account, collected his dividends, became, so to speak, his
financial guardian. Captain Barnabas, at first rebellious--"I've always
bossed my own ship," he declared, "and I ain't so darned feeble-headed
that I can't do it yet"--gradually grew reconciled and then contented.
He, too, began to worship his daughter's husband as the daughter herself
did.

"He's a wonder," said the Captain. "I never saw such a fellow for money
matters. He's handled my stocks and things a whole lot better'n I ever
did. I used to cal'late if I got six per cent. interest I was doin'
well. He ain't satisfied with anything short of eight, and he gets it,
too. Whatever that boy wants and I own he can have. Sometimes I think
this consarned palsy of mine is a judgment on me for bein' so sot
against him in the beginnin'. Why, just look at how he runs this house,
to say nothing of the rest of it! He's a skipper here; the rest of us
ain't anything but fo'most hands."

Which was not the exact truth. Morley was skipper of the Cahoon house,
Ardelia first mate, her father a passenger, and the foremast hand
was Hephzy. And yet, so far as "running" that house was concerned the
foremast hand ran it, as she always had done. The Captain and Ardelia
were Morley's willing slaves; Hephzy was, and continued to be, a free
woman. She worked from morning until night, but she obeyed only such
orders as she saw fit.

She alone did not take the new skipper at his face value.

"I don't know what there was about him that made me uneasy," she has
told me since. "Maybe there wasn't anything; perhaps that was just the
reason. When a person is SO good and SO smart and SO polite--maybe the
average sinful common mortal like me gets jealous; I don't know. But
I do know that, to save my life, I couldn't swallow him whole the way
Ardelia and Father did. I wanted to look him over first; and the more I
looked him over, and the smoother and smoother he looked, the more sure
I felt he'd give us all dyspepsy before he got through. Unreasonable,
wasn't it?"

For Ardelia's sake she concealed her distrust and did her best to get
on with the new head of the family. Only one thing she did, and that
against Motley's and her father's protest. She withdrew her own little
fortune, left her by her mother, from Captain Barnabas's care and
deposited it in the Ostable savings bank and in equally secure places.
Of course she told the Captain of her determination to do this before
she did it and the telling was the cause of the only disagreement,
almost a quarrel, which she and her father ever had. The Captain was
very angry and demanded reasons. Hephzibah declared she didn't know that
she had any reasons, but she was going to do it, nevertheless. And
she did do it. For months thereafter relations between the two were
strained; Barnabas scarcely spoke to his older daughter and Hephzy shed
tears in the solitude of her bedroom. They were hard months for her.

At the end of them came the crash. Morley had developed a habit
of running up to Boston on business trips connected with his
father-in-law's investments. Of late these little trips had become more
frequent. Also, so it seemed to Hephzy, he was losing something of
his genial sweetness and suavity, and becoming more moody and less
entertaining. Telegrams and letters came frequently and these he read
and destroyed at once. He seldom played the violin now unless Captain
Barnabas--who was fond of music of the simpler sort--requested him to do
so and he seemed uneasy and, for him, surprisingly disinclined to talk.

Hephzy was not the only one who noticed the change in him. Ardelia
noticed it also and, as she always did when troubled or perplexed,
sought her sister's advice.

"I sha'n't ever forget that night when she came to me for the last
time," Hephzy has told me over and over again. "She came up to my room,
poor thing, and set down on the side of my bed and told me how worried
she was about her husband. Father had turned in and HE was out, gone
to the post-office or somewheres. I had Ardelia all to myself, for a
wonder, and we sat and talked just the same as we used to before she was
married. I'm glad it happened so. I shall always have that to remember,
anyhow.

"Of course, all her worry was about Strickland. She was afraid he was
makin' himself sick. He worked so hard; didn't I think so? Well, so far
as that was concerned, I had come to believe that almost any kind of
work was liable to make HIM sick, but of course I didn't say that to
her. That somethin' was troublin' him was plain, though I was far enough
from guessin' what that somethin' was.

"We set and talked, about Strickland and about Father and about
ourselves. Mainly Ardelia's talk was a praise service with her husband
for the subject of worship; she was so happy with him and idolized
him so that she couldn't spare time for much else. But she did speak a
little about herself and, before she went away, she whispered somethin'
in my ear which was a dead secret. Even Father didn't know it yet,
she said. Of course I was as pleased as she was, almost--and a little
frightened too, although I didn't say so to her. She was always a frail
little thing, delicate as she was pretty; not a strapping, rugged,
homely body like me. We wasn't a bit alike.

"So we talked and when she went away to bed she gave me an extra hug and
kiss; came back to give 'em to me, just as she used to when she was a
little girl. I wondered since if she had any inklin' of what was goin'
to happen. I'm sure she didn't; I'm sure of it as I am that it did
happen. She couldn't have kept it from me if she had known--not that
night. She went away to bed and I went to bed, too. I was a long while
gettin' to sleep and after I did I dreamed my first dream about 'Little
Frank.' I didn't call him 'Little Frank' then, though. I don't seem to
remember what I did call him or just how he looked except that he looked
like Ardelia. And the next afternoon she and Strickland went away--to
Boston, he told us."

From that trip they never returned. Morley's influence over his wife
must have been greater even than any of us thought to induce her to
desert her father and Hephzy without even a written word of explanation
or farewell. It is possible that she did write and that her husband
destroyed the letter. I am as sure as Hephzy is that Ardelia did not
know what Morley had done. But, at all events, they never came back
to Bayport and within the week the truth became known. Morley had
speculated, had lost and lost again and again. All of Captain Barnabas's
own money and all intrusted to his care, including my little nest-egg,
had gone as margins to the brokers who had bought for Morley his
worthless eight per cent. wildcats. Hephzy's few thousands in the
savings bank and elsewhere were all that was left.

I shall condense the rest of the miserable business as much as I can.
Captain Barnabas traced his daughter and her husband as far as the
steamer which sailed for England. Farther he would not trace them,
although he might easily have cabled and caused his son-in-law's arrest.
For a month he went about in a sort of daze, speaking to almost no
one and sitting for hours alone in his room. The doctor feared for
his sanity, but when the breakdown came it was in the form of a second
paralytic stroke which left him a helpless, crippled dependent, weak and
shattered in body and mind.

He lived nine years longer. Meanwhile various things happened. I managed
to finish my preparatory school term and, then, instead of entering
college as Mother and I had planned, I went into business--save the
mark--taking the exalted position of entry clerk in a wholesale drygoods
house in Boston. As entry clerk I did not shine, but I continued to keep
the place until the firm failed--whether or not because of my connection
with it I am not sure, though I doubt if my services were sufficiently
important to contribute toward even this result. A month later I
obtained another position and, after that, another. I was never
discharged; I declare that with a sort of negative pride; but when I
announced to my second employer my intention of resigning he bore the
shock with--to say the least--philosophic fortitude.

"We shall miss you, Knowles," he observed.

"Thank you, sir," said I.

"I doubt if we ever have another bookkeeper just like you."

I thanked him again, fighting down my blushes with heroic modesty.

"Oh, I guess you can find one if you try," I said, lightly, wishing to
comfort him.

He shook his head. "I sha'n't try," he declared. "I am not as young and
as strong as I was and--well, there is always the chance that we might
succeed."

It was a mean thing to say--to a boy, for I was scarcely more than that.
And yet, looking back at it now, I am much more disposed to smile and
forgive than I was then. My bookkeeping must have been a trial to his
orderly, pigeon-holed soul. Why in the world he and his partner put up
with it so long is a miracle. When, after my first novel appeared,
he wrote me to say that the consciousness of having had a part, small
though it might be, in training my young mind upward toward the success
it had achieved would always be a great gratification to him, I did not
send the letter I wrote in answer. Instead I tore up my letter and his
and grinned. I WAS a bad bookkeeper; I was, and still am, a bad business
man. Now I don't care so much; that is the difference.

Then I cared a great deal, but I kept on at my hated task. What else was
there for me to do? My salary was so small that, as Charlie Burns, one
of my fellow-clerks, said of his, I was afraid to count it over a bare
floor for fear that it might drop in a crack and be lost. It was my only
revenue, however, and I continued to live upon it somehow. I had a
small room in a boarding-house on Shawmut Avenue and I spent most of my
evenings there or in the reading-room at the public library. I was not
popular at the boarding-house. Most of the young fellows there went
out a good deal, to call upon young ladies or to dance or to go to the
theater. I had learned to dance when I was at school and I was fond of
the theater, but I did not dance well and on the rare occasions when
I did accompany the other fellows to the play and they laughed and
applauded and tried to flirt with the chorus girls, I fidgeted in my
seat and was uncomfortable. Not that I disapproved of their conduct; I
rather envied them, in fact. But if I laughed too heartily I was sure
that everyone was looking at me, and though I should have liked to
flirt, I didn't know how.

The few attempts I made were not encouraging. One evening--I was
nineteen then, or thereabouts--Charlie Burns, the clerk whom I have
mentioned, suggested that we get dinner downtown at a restaurant and "go
somewhere" afterward. I agreed--it happened to be Saturday night and I
had my pay in my pocket--so we feasted on oyster stew and ice cream and
then started for what my companion called a "variety show." Burns, who
cherished the fond hope that he was a true sport, ordered beer with his
oyster stew and insisted that I should do the same. My acquaintance with
beer was limited and I never did like the stuff, but I drank it with
reckless abandon, following each sip with a mouthful of something else
to get rid of the taste. On the way to the "show" we met two young
women of Burns' acquaintance and stopped to converse with them. Charlie
offered his arm to one, the best looking; I offered mine to the discard,
and we proceeded to stroll two by two along the Tremont Street mall of
the Common. We had strolled for perhaps ten minutes, most of which
time I had spent trying to think of something to say, when Burns'
charmer--she was a waitress in one of Mr. Wyman's celebrated "sandwich
depots," I believe--turned and, looking back at my fair one and myself,
observed with some sarcasm: "What's the matter with your silent partner,
Mame? Got the lock-jaw, has he?"

I left them soon after that. There was no "variety show" for me that
night. Humiliated and disgusted with myself I returned to my room at the
boarding-house, realizing in bitterness of spirit that the gentlemanly
dissipations of a true sport were never to be mine.

As I grew older I kept more and more to myself. My work at the office
must have been a little better done, I fancy, for my salary was raised
twice in four years, but I detested the work and the office and all
connected with it. I read more and more at the public library and began
to spend the few dollars I could spare for luxuries on books. Among my
acquaintances at the boarding-house and elsewhere I had the reputation
of being "queer."

My only periods of real pleasure were my annual vacations in summer.
These glorious fortnights were spent at Bayport. There, at our old home,
for Hephzibah had sold the big Cahoon house and she and her father were
living in mine, for which they paid a very small rent, I was happy.
I spent the two weeks in sailing and fishing, and tramping along the
waved-washed beaches and over the pine-sprinkled hills. Even in Bayport
I had few associates of my own age. Even then they began to call me "The
Quahaug." Hephzy hugged me when I came and wept over me when I went away
and mended my clothes and cooked my favorite dishes in the interval.
Captain Barnabas sat in the big arm-chair by the sitting-room window,
looking out or sleeping. He took little interest in me or anyone
else and spoke but seldom. Occasionally I spent the Fourth of July or
Christmas at Bayport; not often, but as often as I could.

One morning--I was twenty-five at the time, and the day was Sunday--I
read a story in one of the low-priced magazines. It was not much of a
story, and, as I read it, I kept thinking that I could write as good
a one. I had had such ideas before, but nothing had come of them. This
time, however, I determined to try. In half an hour I had evolved a
plot, such as it was, and at a quarter to twelve that night the story
was finished. A highwayman was its hero and its scene the great North
Road in England. My conceptions of highwaymen and the North Road--of
England, too, for that matter--were derived from something I had read
at some time or other, I suppose; they must have been. At any rate,
I finished that story, addressed the envelope to the editor of the
magazine and dropped the envelope and its inclosure in the corner
mail-box before I went to bed. Next morning I went to the office as
usual. I had not the faintest hope that the story would be accepted. The
writing of it had been fun and the sending it to the magazine a joke.

But the story was accepted and the check which I received--forty
dollars--was far from a joke to a man whose weekly wage was half that
amount. The encouraging letter which accompanied the check was best of
all. Before the week ended I had written another thriller and this, too,
was accepted.

Thereafter, for a year or more, my Sundays and the most of my evenings
were riots of ink and blood. The ink was real enough and the blood
purely imaginary. My heroes spilled the latter and I the former.
Sometimes my yarns were refused, but the most of them were accepted and
paid for. Editors of other periodicals began to write to me requesting
contributions. My price rose. For one particularly harrowing and
romantic tale I was paid seventy-five dollars. I dressed in my best that
evening, dined at the Adams House, gave the waiter a quarter, and saw
Joseph Jefferson from an orchestra seat.

Then came the letter from Jim Campbell requesting me to come to New York
and see him concerning a possible book, a romance, to be written by me
and published by the firm of which he was the head. I saw my employer,
obtained a Saturday off, and spent that Saturday and Sunday in New York,
my first visit.

As a result of that visit began my friendship with Campbell and my first
long story, "The Queen's Amulet." The "Amulet," or the "Omelet," just as
you like, was a financial success. It sold a good many thousand copies.
Six months later I broke to my employers the distressing news that their
business must henceforth worry on as best it could without my aid; I was
going to devote my valuable time and effort to literature.

My fellow-clerks were surprised. Charlie Burns, head bookkeeper now, and
a married man and a father, was much concerned.

"But, great Scott, Kent!" he protested, "you're going to do something
besides write books, ain't you? You ain't going to make your whole
living that way?"

"I am going to try," I said.

"Great Scott! Why, you'll starve! All those fellows live in garrets and
starve to death, don't they?"

"Not all," I told him. "Only real geniuses do that."

He shook his head and his good-by was anything but cheerful.

My plans were made and I put them into execution at once. I shipped my
goods and chattels, the latter for the most part books, to Bayport and
went there to live and write in the old house where I was born. Hephzy
was engaged as my housekeeper. She was alone now; Captain Barnabas had
died nearly two years before.

Among the Captain's papers and discovered by his daughter after his
death was a letter from Strickland Morley. It was written from a town in
France and was dated six years after Morley's flight and the disclosure
of his crookedness. Captain Barnabas had never, apparently, answered the
letter; certainly he had never told anyone of its receipt by him. The
old man never mentioned Morley's name and only spoke of Ardelia during
his last hours, when his mind was wandering. Then he spoke of and asked
for her continually, driving poor Hephzibah to distraction, for her love
for her lost sister was as great as his.

The letter was the complaining whine of a thoroughly selfish man. I can
scarcely refer to it without losing patience, even now when I understand
more completely the circumstances under which it was written. It was not
too plainly written or coherent and seemed to imply that other letters
had preceded it. Morley begged for money. He was in "pitiful straits,"
he declared, compelled to live as no gentleman of birth and breeding
should live. As a matter of fact, the remnant of his resources, the
little cash left from the Captain's fortune which he had taken with him
had gone and he was earning a precarious living by playing the violin in
a second-rate orchestra. "For poor dead Ardelia's sake," he wrote, "and
for the sake of little Francis, your grandchild, I ask you to extend
the financial help which I, as your heir-in-law, might demand. You may
consider that I have wronged you, but, as you should know and must know,
the wrong was unintentional and due solely to the sudden collapse of
the worthless American investments which the scoundrelly Yankee brokers
inveigled me into making."

If the money was sent at once, he added, it might reach him in time to
prevent his yielding to despondency and committing suicide.

"Suicide! HE commit suicide!" sniffed Hephzy when she read me the
letter. "He thinks too much of his miserable self ever to hurt it. But,
oh dear! I wish Pa had told me of this letter instead of hidin' it away.
I might have sent somethin', not to him, but to poor, motherless Little
Frank."

She had tried; that is, she had written to the French address, but
her letter had been returned. Morley and the child of whom this letter
furnished the only information were no longer in that locality. Hephzy
had talked of "Little Frank" and dreamed about him at intervals ever
since. He had come to be a reality to her, and she even cut a child's
picture from a magazine and fastened it to the wall of her room beneath
the engraving of Westminster Abbey, because there was something about
the child in the picture which reminded her of "Little Frank" as he
looked in her dreams.

She and I had lived together ever since, I continuing to turn out, each
with less enthusiasm and more labor, my stories of persons and places of
which, as Campbell said but too truly, I knew nothing whatever. Finally
I had reached my determination to write no more "slush," profitable
though it might be. I invited Jim to visit me; he had come and the
conversation at the boathouse and his remarks at the bedroom door were
all the satisfaction that visit had brought me so far.

I sat there in my study, going over all this, not so fully as I have
set it down here, but fully nevertheless, and the possibility of
finding even a glimmer of interest or a hint of fictional foundation in
Hephzibah or her life or mine was as remote at the end of my thinking as
it had been at the beginning. There might be a story there, or a part of
a story, but I could not write it. The real trouble was that I could not
write anything. With which, conclusion, exactly what I started with, I
blew out the lamp and went upstairs to bed.

Next morning Jim and I went for another sail from which we did not
return until nearly dinner-time. During that whole forenoon he did not
mention the promised "prescription," although I offered him plenty of
opportunities and threw out various hints by way of bait.

He ignored the bait altogether and, though he talked a great deal and
asked a good many questions, both talk and questions had no bearing on
the all-important problem which had been my real reason for inviting
him to Bayport. He questioned me again concerning my way of spending my
time, about my savings, how much money I had put by, and the like, but
I was not particularly interested in these matters and they were not his
business, to put it plainly. At least, I could not see that they were.

I answered him as briefly as possible and, I am afraid, behaved rather
boorishly to one, who next to Hephzy, was perhaps the best friend I had
in the world. His apparent lack of interest hurt and disappointed me
and I did not care if he knew it. My impatience must have been apparent
enough, but if so it did not trouble him; he chatted and laughed and
told stories all the way from the landing to the house and announced to
Hephzy, who had stayed at home from church in order to prepare and
cook clam chowder and chicken pie and a "Queen pudding," that he had an
appetite like a starved shark.

When, at last, that appetite was satisfied, he and I adjourned to the
sitting-room for a farewell smoke. His train left at three-thirty and
it lacked but an hour of that time. He had worn my suit, the one which
Hephzibah had laid out for him the day before, but had changed to his
own again and packed his bag before dinner.

We camped in the wing chairs and he lighted his cigar. Then, to my
astonishment, he rose and shut the door.

"What did you do that for?" I asked.

He came back to his chair.

"Because I'm going to talk to you like a Dutch uncle," he replied, "and
I don't want anyone, not even a Cape Cod cousin, butting in. Kent, I
told you that before I went I was going to prescribe for you, didn't I?
Well, I'm going to do it now. Are you ready for the prescription?"

"I have been ready for it for some time," I retorted. "I began to think
you had forgotten it altogether."

"I hadn't. But I wanted it to be the last word you should hear from me
and I didn't want to give you time to think up a lot of fool objections
to spring on me before I left. Look here, I'm your doctor now; do you
understand? You called me in as a specialist and what I say goes. Is
that understood?"

"I hear you."

"You've got to do more than hear me. You've got to do what I tell you.
I know what ails you. You've buried yourself in the mud down here. Wake
up, you clam! Come out of your shell. Stir around. Stop thinking about
yourself and think of something worth while."

"Dear! dear! hark to the voice of the oracle. And what is the something
worth while I am to think about; you?"

"Yes, by George! me! Me and the dear public! Here are thirty-five
thousand seekers after the--the higher literature, panting open-mouthed
for another Knowles classic. And you sit back here and cover yourself
with sand and seaweed and say you won't give it to them."

"You're wrong. I say I can't."

"You will, though."

"I won't. You can bet high on that."

"You will, and I'll bet higher. YOU write no more stories! You! Why,
confound you, you couldn't help it if you tried. You needn't write
another 'Black Brig' unless you want to. You needn't--you mustn't write
anything UNTIL you want to. But, by George! you'll get up and open your
eyes and stir around, and keep stirring until the time comes when you've
found something or someone you DO want to write about. THEN you'll
write; you will, for I know you. It may turn out to be what you call
'slush,' or it may not, but you'll write it, mark my words."

He was serious now, serious enough even to suit me. But what he had said
did not suit me.

"Don't talk nonsense, Jim," I said. "Don't you suppose I have thought--"

"Thought! that's just it; you do nothing but think. Stop thinking.
Stop being a quahaug--a dead one, anyway. Drop the whole business, drop
Bayport, drop America, if you like. Get up, clear out, go to China, go
to Europe, go to--Well, never mind, but go somewhere. Go somewhere and
forget it. Travel, take a long trip, start for one place and, if you
change your mind before you get there, go somewhere else. It doesn't
make much difference where, so that you go, and see different things.
I'm talking now, Kent Knowles, and it isn't altogether because it pays
us to publish your books, either. You drop Bayport and drop writing. Go
out and pick up and go. Stay six months, stay a year, stay two years,
but keep alive and meet people and give what you flatter yourself is
a brain house-cleaning. Confound you, you've kept it shut like one of
these best front parlors down here. Open the windows and air out. Let
the outside light in. An idea may come with it; it is barely possible,
even to you!"

He was out of breath by this time. I was in a somewhat similar condition
for his tirade had taken mine away. However, I managed to express my
feelings.

"Humph!" I grunted. "And so this is your wonderful prescription. I am to
travel, am I?"

"You are. You can afford it, and I'll see that you do."

"And just what port would you recommend?"

"I don't care, I tell you, except that it ought to be a long way off.
I'm not joking, Kent; this is straight. A good long jaunt around the
world would do you a barrel of good. Don't stop to think about it, just
start, that's all. Will you?"

I laughed. The idea of my starting on a pleasure trip was ridiculous. If
ever there was a home-loving and home-staying person it was I. The bare
thought of leaving my comfort and my books and Hephzy made me shudder. I
hadn't the least desire to see other countries and meet other people. I
hated sleeping cars and railway trains and traveling acquaintances. So I
laughed.

"Sorry, Jim," I said, "but I'm afraid I can't take your prescription."

"Why not?"

"For one reason because I don't want to."

"That's no reason at all. It doesn't make any difference what you want.
Anything else?"

"Yes. I would no more wander about creation all alone than--"

"Take someone with you."

"Who? Will you go, yourself?"

He shook his head.

"I wish I could," he said, and I think he meant it. "I'd like nothing
better. I'D keep you alive, you can bet on that. But I can't leave the
literature works just now. I'll do my best to find someone who will,
though. I know a lot of good fellows who travel--"

I held up my hand. "That's enough," I interrupted. "They can't travel
with me. They wouldn't be good fellows long if they did."

He struck the chair arm with his fist.

"You're as near impossible as you can be, aren't you," he exclaimed.
"Never mind; you're going to do as I tell you. I never gave you bad
advice yet, now did I?"

"No--o. No, but--"

"I'm not giving it to you now. You'll go and you'll go in a hurry. I'll
give you a week to think the idea over. At the end of that time if I
don't hear from you I'll be down here again, and I'll worry you every
minute until you'll go anywhere to get rid of me. Kent, you must do it.
You aren't written out, as you call it, but you are rusting out, fast.
If you don't get away and polish up you'll never do a thing worth while.
You'll be another what's-his-name--Ase Tidditt; that's what you'll be. I
can see it coming on. You're ossifying; you're narrowing; you're--"

I broke in here. I didn't like to be called narrow and I did not like
to be paired with Asaph Tidditt, although our venerable town clerk is a
good citizen and all right, in his way. But I had flattered myself that
way was not mine.

"Stop it, Jim!" I ordered. "Don't blow off any more steam in this
ridiculous fashion. If this is all you have to say to me, you may as
well stop."

"Stop! I've only begun. I'll stop when you start, and not before. Will
you go?"

"I can't, Jim. You know I can't."

"I know you can and I know you're going to. There!" rising and laying a
hand on my shoulder, "it is time for ME to be starting. Kent, old man, I
want you to promise me that you will do as I tell you. Will you?"

"I can't, Jim. I would if I could, but--"

"Will you promise me to think the idea over? Think it over carefully;
don't think of anything else for the rest of the week? Will you promise
me to do that?"

I hesitated. I was perfectly sure that all my thinking would but
strengthen my determination to remain at home, but I did not like to
appear too stubborn.

"Why, yes, Jim," I said, doubtfully, "I promise so much, if that is any
satisfaction to you."

"All right. I'll give you until Friday to make up your mind. If I don't
hear from you by that time I shall take it for granted that you have
made it up in the wrong way and I'll be here on Saturday. I'll keep the
process up week in and week out until you give in. That's MY promise.
Come on. We must be moving."

He said good-by to Hephzy and we walked together to the station. His
last words as we shook hands by the car steps were: "Remember--think.
But don't you dare think of anything else." My answer was a dubious
shake of the head. Then the train pulled out.

I believe that afternoon and evening to have been the "bluest" of all my
blue periods, and I had had some blue ones prior to Jim's visit. I was
dreadfully disappointed. Of course I should have realized that no advice
or "prescription" could help me. As Campbell had said, "It was up to
me;" I must help myself; but I had been trying to help myself for months
and I had not succeeded. I had--foolishly, I admit--relied upon him to
give me a new idea, a fresh inspiration, and he had not done it. I was
disappointed and more discouraged than ever.

My state of mind may seem ridiculous. Perhaps it was. I was in good
health, not very old--except in my feelings--and my stories, even the
"Black Brig," had not been failures, by any means. But I am sure that
every man or woman who writes, or paints, or does creative work of any
kind, will understand and sympathize with me. I had "gone stale," that
is the technical name for my disease, and to "go stale" is no joke. If
you doubt it ask the writer or painter of your acquaintance. Ask him if
he ever has felt that he could write or paint no more, and then ask
him how he liked the feeling. The fact that he has written or painted a
great deal since has no bearing on the matter. "Staleness" is purely a
mental ailment, and the confident assurance of would-be doctors that its
attacks are seldom fatal doesn't help the sufferer at the time. He knows
he is dead, and that is no better, then, than being dead in earnest.

I knew I was dead, so far as my writing was concerned, and the advice
to go away and bury myself in a strange country did not appeal to me. It
might be true that I was already buried in Bayport, but that was my
home cemetery, at all events. The more I thought of Jim Campbell's
prescription the less I felt like taking it.

However, I kept on with the thinking; I had promised to do that. On
Wednesday came a postcard from Jim, himself, demanding information.
"When and where are you going?" he wrote. "Wire answer." I did not wire
answer. I was not going anywhere.

I thrust the card into my pocket and, turning away from the frame of
letter boxes, faced Captain Cyrus Whittaker, who, like myself, had come
to Simmons's for his mail. He greeted me cordially.

"Hello, Kent," he hailed. "How are you?"

"About the same as usual, Captain," I answered, shortly.

"That's pretty fair, by the looks. You don't look too happy, though,
come to notice it. What's the matter; got bad news?"

"No. I haven't any news, good or bad."

"That so? Then I'll give you some. Phoebe and I are going to start for
California to-morrow."

"You are? To California? Why?"

"Oh, just for instance, that's all. Time's come when I have to go
somewhere, and the Yosemite and the big trees look good to me. It's this
way, Kent; I like Bayport, you know that. Nobody's more in love with
this old town than I am; it's my home and I mean to live and die here,
if I have luck. But it don't do for me to stay here all the time. If I
do I begin to be no good, like a strawberry plant that's been kept in
one place too long and has quit bearin.' The only thing to do with that
plant is to transplant it and let it get nourishment in a new spot. Then
you can move it back by and by and it's all right. Same way with me.
Every once in a while I have to be transplanted so's to freshen up. My
brains need somethin' besides post-office talk and sewin'-circle gossip
to keep them from shrivelin'. I was commencin' to feel the shrivel,
so it's California for Phoebe and me. Better come along, Kent. You're
beginnin' to shrivel a little, ain't you?"

Was it as apparent as all that? I was indignant.

"Do I look it?" I demanded.

"No--o, but I ain't sure that you don't act it. No offence, you
understand. Just a little ground bait to coax you to come on the
California cruise along with Phoebe and me, that's all."

It was not likely that I should accept. Two are company and three a
crowd, and if ever two were company Captain Cy and his wife were those
two. I thanked him and declined, but I asked a question.

"You believe in travel as a restorative, you do?" I asked.

"Hey? I sartin do. Change your course once in awhile, same as you change
your clothes. Wearin' the same suit and cruisin' in the same puddle all
the time ain't healthy. You're too apt to get sick of the clothes and
puddle both."

"But you don't believe in traveling alone, do you?"

"No," emphatically, "I don't, generally speakin.' If you go off by
yourself you're too likely to keep thinkin' ABOUT yourself. Take
somebody with you; somebody you're used to and know well and like,
though. Travelin' with strangers is a little mite worse than travelin'
alone. You want to be mighty sure of your shipmate."

I walked home. Hephzibah was in the sitting-room, reading and knitting
a stocking, a stocking for me. She did not need to use her eyes for the
knitting; I am quite sure she could have knit in her sleep.

"Hello, Hosy," she said, "been up to the office, have you? Any mail?"

"Nothing much. Humph! Still reading that Raymond and Whitcomb circular?"

"No, not that one. This is one I got last year. I've been sittin' here
plannin' out just where I'd go and what I'd see if I could. It's the
next best thing to really goin'."

I looked at her. All at once a new idea began to crystallize in my mind.
It was a curious idea, a ridiculous idea, and yet--and yet it seemed--

"Hephzy," said I, suddenly, "would you really like to go abroad?"

"WOULD I? Hosy, how you talk! You know I've been crazy to go ever since
I was a little girl. I don't know what makes me so. Perhaps it's the
salt water in my blood. All our folks were sailors and ship captains.
They went everywhere. I presume likely it takes more than one generation
to kill off that sort of thing."

"And you really want to go?"

"Of course I do."

"Then why haven't you gone? You could afford to take a moderate-priced
tour."

Hephzy laughed over her knitting.

"I guess," she said, "I haven't gone for the reason you haven't, Hosy.
You could afford, it, too--you know you could. But how could I go and
leave you? Why, I shouldn't sleep a minute wonderin' if you were wearin'
clothes without holes in 'em and if you changed your flannels when the
weather changed and ate what you ought to, and all that. You've been
so--so sort of dependent on me and I've been so used to takin' care of
you that I don't believe either of us would be happy anywhere without
the other. I know certain sure _I_ shouldn't."

I did not answer immediately. The idea, the amazing, ridiculous
idea which had burst upon me suddenly began to lose something of its
absurdity. Somehow it began to look like the answer to my riddle. I
realized that my main objection to the Campbell prescription had been
that I must take it alone or with strangers. And now--

"Hephzy," I demanded, "would you go away--on a trip abroad--with me?"

She put down the knitting.

"Hosy Knowles!" she exclaimed. "WHAT are you talkin' about?"

"But would you?"

"I presume likely I would, if I had the chance; but it isn't likely
that--where are you goin'?"

I did not answer. I hurried out of the sitting-room and out of the
house.

When I returned I found her still knitting. The circular lay on the
floor at her feet. She regarded me anxiously.

"Hosy," she demanded, "where--"

I interrupted. "Hephzy," said I, "I have been to the station to send a
telegram."

"A telegram? A TELEGRAM! For mercy sakes, who's dead?"

Telegrams in Bayport usually mean death or desperate illness. I laughed.

"No one is dead, Hephzy," I replied. "In fact it is barely possible that
someone is coming to life. I telegraphed Mr. Campbell to engage passage
for you and me on some steamer leaving for Europe next week."

Hephzibah turned pale. The partially knitted sock dropped beside the
circular.

"Why--why--what--?" she gasped.

"On a steamer leaving next week," I repeated. "You want to travel,
Hephzy. Jim says I must. So we'll travel together."

She did not believe I meant it, of course, and it took a long time to
convince her. But when at last she began to believe--at least to the
extent of believing that I had sent the telegram--her next remark was
characteristic.

"But I--I can't go, Hosy," declared Hephzibah. "I CAN'T. Who--who would
take care of the cat and the hens?"



CHAPTER IV

In Which Hephzy and I and the Plutonia Sail Together


The week which began that Wednesday afternoon seems, as I look back to
it now, a bit of the remote past, instead of seven days of a year ago.
Its happenings, important and wonderful as they were, seem trivial and
tame compared with those which came afterward. And yet, at the time,
that week was a season of wild excitement and delightful anticipation
for Hephzibah, and of excitement not unmingled with doubts and
misgivings for me. For us both it was a busy week, to put it mildly.

Once convinced that I meant what I said and that I was not "raving
distracted," which I think was her first diagnosis of my case, Hephzy's
practical mind began to unearth objections, first to her going at all
and, second, to going on such short notice.

"I don't think I'd better, Hosy," she said. "You're awful good to ask me
and I know you think you mean it, but I don't believe I ought to do it,
even if I felt as if I could leave the house and everything alone. You
see, I've lived here in Bayport so long that I'm old-fashioned and funny
and countrified, I guess. You'd be ashamed of me."

I smiled. "When I am ashamed of you, Hephzy," I replied, "I shall be on
my way to the insane asylum, not to Europe. You are much more likely to
be ashamed of me."

"The idea! And you the pride of this town! The only author that ever
lived in it--unless you call Joshua Snow an author, and he lived in the
poorhouse and nobody but himself was proud of HIM."

Josh Snow was Bayport's Homer, its only native poet. He wrote the
immortal ballad of the scallop industry, which begins:


     "On a fine morning at break of day,
      When the ice has all gone out of the bay,
      And the sun is shining nice and it is like spring,
      Then all hands start to go scallop-ING."


In order to get the fullest measure of music from this lyric gem you
should put a strong emphasis on the final "ing." Joshua always did and
the summer people never seemed to tire of hearing him recite it. There
are eighteen more verses.

"I shall not be ashamed of you, Hephzy," I repeated. "You know it
perfectly well. And I shall not go unless you go."

"But I can't go, Hosy. I couldn't leave the hens and the cat. They'd
starve; you know they would."

"Susanna will look after them. I'll leave money for their provender. And
I will pay Susanna for taking care of them. She has fallen in love with
the cat; she'll be only too glad to adopt it."

"And I haven't got a single thing fit to wear."

"Neither have I. We will buy complete fit-outs in Boston or New York."

"But--"

There were innumerable "buts." I answered them as best I could. Also
I reiterated my determination not to go unless she did. I told of
Campbell's advice and laid strong emphasis on the fact that he had said
travel was my only hope. Unless she wished me to die of despair she must
agree to travel with me.

"And you have said over and over again that your one desire was to go
abroad," I added, as a final clincher.

"I know it. I know I have. But--but now when it comes to really
goin' I'm not so sure. Uncle Bedny Small was always declarin' in
prayer-meetin' that he wanted to die so as to get to Heaven, but when he
was taken down with influenza he made his folks call both doctors here
in town and one from Harniss. I don't know whether I want to go or not,
Hosy. I--I'm frightened, I guess."

Jim's answer to my telegram arrived the very next day.

"Have engaged two staterooms for ship sailing Wednesday the tenth," it
read. "Hearty congratulations on your good sense. Who is your companion?
Write particulars."

The telegram quashed the last of Hephzy's objections. The fares had been
paid and she was certain they must be "dreadful expensive." All that
money could not be wasted, so she accepted the inevitable and began
preparations.

I did not write the "particulars" requested. I had a feeling that
Campbell might consider my choice of a traveling companion a queer one
and, although my mind was made up and his opinion could not change it,
I thought it just as well to wait until our arrival in New York before
telling him. So I wrote a brief note stating that my friend and I would
reach New York on the morning of the tenth and that I would see him
there. Also I asked, for my part, the name of the steamer he had
selected.

His answer was as vague as mine. He congratulated me once more upon my
decision, prophesied great things as the result of what he called my
"foreign junket," and gave some valuable advice concerning the necessary
outfit, clothes, trunks and the like. "Travel light," he wrote. "You can
buy whatever else you may need on the other side. 'Phone as soon as you
reach New York." But he did not tell me the name of the ship, nor for
what port she was to sail.

So Hephzy and I were obliged to turn to the newspapers for information
upon those more or less important subjects, and we speculated and
guessed not a little. The New York dailies were not obtainable in
Bayport except during the summer months and the Boston publications did
not give the New York sailings. I wrote to a friend in Boston and he
sent me the leading journals of the former city and, as soon as they
arrived, Hephzy sat down upon the sitting-room carpet--which she had
insisted upon having taken up to be packed away in moth balls--to look
at the maritime advertisements. I am quite certain it was the only time
she sat down, except at meals, that day.

I selected one of the papers and she another. We reached the same
conclusion simultaneously.

"Why, it must be--" she began.

"The Princess Eulalie," I finished.

"It is the only one that sails on the tenth. There is one on the
eleventh, though."

"Yes, but that one is the 'Plutonia,' one of the fastest and most
expensive liners afloat. It isn't likely that Jim had booked us for the
'Plutonia.' She would scarcely be in our--in my class."

"Humph! I guess she isn't any too good for a famous man like you, Hosy.
But I would look funny on her, I give in. I've read about her. She's
always full of lords and ladies and millionaires and things. Just the
sort of folks you write about. She'd be just the one for you."

I shook my head. "My lords and ladies are only paper dolls, Hephzy," I
said, ruefully. "I should be as lost as you among the flesh and blood
variety. No, the 'Princess Eulalie' must be ours. She runs to Amsterdam,
though. Odd that Jim should send me to Holland."

Hephzy nodded and then offered a solution.

"I don't doubt he did it on purpose," she declared. "He knew neither you
nor I was anxious to go to England. He knows we don't think much of the
English, after our experience with that Morley brute."

"No, he doesn't know any such thing. I've never told him a word about
Morley. And he doesn't know you're going, Hephzy. I've kept that as
a--as a surprise for him."

"Well, never mind. I'd rather go to Amsterdam than England. It's nearer
to France."

I was surprised. "Nearer to France?" I repeated. "What difference does
that make? We don't know anyone in France."

Hephzibah was plainly shocked. "Why, Hosy!" she protested. "Have you
forgotten Little Frank? He is in France somewhere, or he was at last
accounts."

"Good Lord!" I groaned. Then I got up and went out. I had forgotten
"Little Frank" and hoped that she had. If she was to flit about Europe
seeing "Little Frank" on every corner I foresaw trouble. "Little Frank"
was likely to be the bane of my existence.

We left Bayport on Monday morning. The house was cleaned and swept
and scoured and moth-proofed from top to bottom. Every door was
double-locked and every window nailed. Burglars are unknown in Bayport,
but that didn't make any difference. "You can't be too careful," said
Hephzy. I was of the opinion that you could.

The cat had been "farmed out" with Susanna's people and Susanna herself
was to feed the hens twice a day, lock them in each night and let them
out each morning. Their keeper had a carefully prepared schedule as to
quantity and quality of food; Hephzy had prepared and furnished it.

"And don't you give 'em any fish," ordered Hephzy. "I ate a chicken once
that had been fed on fish, and--my soul!"

There was quite an assemblage at the station to see us off. Captain
Whittaker and his wife were not there, of course; they were near
California by this time. But Mr. Partridge, the minister, was there and
so was his wife; and Asaph Tidditt and Mr. and Mrs. Bailey Bangs and
Captain Josiah Dimick and HIS wife, and several others. Oh, yes! and
Angeline Phinney. Angeline was there, of course. If anything happened in
Bayport and Angeline was not there to help it happen, then--I don't know
what then; the experiment had never been tried in my lifetime.

Everyone said pleasant things to us. They really seemed sorry to have us
leave Bayport, but for our sakes they expressed themselves as glad. It
would be such a glorious trip; we would have so much to tell when we got
back. Mr. Partridge said he should plan for me to give a little talk to
the Sunday school upon my return. It would be a wonderful thing for the
children. To my mind the most wonderful part of the idea was that he
should take my consent for granted. _I_ talk to the Sunday school! I,
the Quahaug! My knees shook even at the thought.

Keturah Bangs hoped we would have a "lovely time." She declared that it
had been the one ambition of her life to go sight-seeing. But she should
never do it--no, no! Such things wasn't for her. If she had a husband
like some women it might be, but not as 'twas. She had long ago given up
hopin' to do anything but keep boarders, and she had to do that all by
herself.

Bailey, her husband, grinned sheepishly but, for a wonder, he did not
attempt defence. I gathered that Bailey was learning wisdom. It was
time; he had attended his wife's academy a long while.

Captain Dimick brought a bag of apples, greenings, some he had kept in
the cellar over winter. "Nice to eat on the cars," he told us. Everyone
asked us to send postcards. Miss Phinney was especially solicitous.

"It'll be just lovely to know where you be and what you're doin," she
declared.

When the train had started and we had waved the last good-bys from the
window Hephzibah expressed her opinion concerning Angeline's request.

"I send HER postcards!" she snapped. "I think I see myself doin' it! All
she cares about 'em is so she can run from Dan to Beersheba showin' 'em
to everybody and talkin' about how extravagant we are and wonderin' if
we borrowed the money. But there! it won't make any difference. If I
don't send 'em to her she'll read all I send to other folks. She
and Rebecca Simmons are close as two peas in a pod and Becky reads
everything that comes through her husband's post-office. All that aren't
sealed, that is--yes, and some that are, I shouldn't wonder, if they're
not sealed tight."

Her next remark was a surprising one.

"Hosy," she said, "how much they all think of you, don't they. Isn't it
nice to know you're so popular."

I turned in the seat to stare at her.

"Popular!" I repeated. "Hephzy, I have a good deal of respect for your
brain, generally speaking, but there are times when I think it shows
signs of softening."

She did not resent my candor; she paid absolutely no attention to it.

"I don't mean popular with everybody, rag, tag and bobtail and all,
like--well, Eben Salters," she went on. "But the folks that count all
respect and like you, Hosy. I know they do."

Mr. Salters is our leading local statesman--since the departure of the
Honorable Heman Atkins. He has filled every office in his native village
and he has served one term as representative in the State House at
Boston. He IS popular.

"It is marvelous how affection can be concealed," I observed, with
sarcasm. Hephzy was back at me like a flash.

"Of course they don't tell you of it," she said. "If they did you'd
probably tell 'em to their faces that they were fibbin' and not speak to
'em again. But they do like you, and I know it."

It was useless to carry the argument further. When Hephzy begins
chanting my praises I find it easier to surrender--and change the
subject.

In Boston we shopped. It seems to me that we did nothing else. I
bought what I needed the very first day, clothes, hat, steamer coat and
traveling cap included. It did not take me long; fortunately I am of the
average height and shape and the salesmen found me easy to please. My
shopping tour was ended by three o'clock and I spent the remainder
of the afternoon at a bookseller's. There was a set of "Early English
Poets" there, nineteen little, fat, chunky volumes, not new and shiny
and grand, but middle-aged and shabby and comfortable, which appealed to
me. The price, however, was high; I had the uneasy feeling that I ought
not to afford it. Then the bookseller himself, who also was fat and
comfortably shabby, and who had beguiled from me the information that I
was about to travel, suggested that the "Poets" would make very pleasant
reading en route.

"I have found," he said, beaming over his spectacles, "that a little
book of this kind," patting one of the volumes, "which may be carried in
the pocket, is a rare traveling companion. When you wish his society
he is there, and when you tire of him you can shut him up. You can't do
that with all traveling companions, you know. Ha! ha!"

He chuckled over his joke and I chuckled with him. Humor of that kind is
expensive, for I bought the "English Poets" and ordered them sent to my
hotel. It was not until they were delivered, an hour later, that I
began to wonder what I should do with them. Our trunks were likely to be
crowded and I could not carry all of the nineteen volumes in my pockets.

Hephzibah, who had been shopping on her own hook, did not return until
nearly seven. She returned weary and almost empty-handed.

"But didn't you buy ANYTHING?" I asked. "Where in the world have you
been?"

She had been everywhere, so she said. This wasn't entirely true, but I
gathered that she had visited about every department store in the city.
She had found ever so many things she liked, but oh dear! they did cost
so much.

"There was one traveling coat that I did want dreadfully," she said.
"It was a dark brown, not too dark, but just light enough so it wouldn't
show water spots. I've been out sailing enough times to know how your
things get water-spotted. It fitted me real nice; there wouldn't have to
be a thing done to it. But it cost thirty-one dollars! 'My soul!' says
I, 'I can't afford THAT!' But they didn't have anything cheaper that
wouldn't have made me look like one of those awful play-actin' girls
that came to Bayport with the Uncle Tom's Cabin show. And I tried
everywhere and nothin' pleased me so well."

"So you didn't buy the coat?"

"BUY it? My soul Hosy, didn't I tell you it cost--"

"I know. What else did you see that you didn't buy?"

"Hey? Oh, I saw a suit, a nice lady-like suit, and I tried it on. That
fitted me, too, only the sleeves would have to be shortened. And it
would have gone SO well with that coat. But the suit cost FORTY dollars.
'Good land!' I said, 'haven't you got ANYTHING for poor folks?' And you
ought to have seen the look that girl gave me! And a hat--oh, yes, I saw
a hat! It was--"

There was a great deal more. Summed up it amounted to something like
this: All that suited her had been too high-priced and all that she
considered within her means hadn't suited her at all. So she had bought
practically nothing but a few non-essentials. And we were to leave for
New York the following night and sail for Europe the day after.

"Hephzy," said I, "you will go shopping again to-morrow morning and I'll
go with you."

Go we did, and we bought the coat and the hat and the suit and various
other things. With each purchase Hephzy's groans and protests at my
reckless extravagance grew louder. At last I had an inspiration.

"Hephzy," said I, "when we meet Little Frank over there in France, or
wherever he may be, you will want him to be favorably impressed with
your appearance, won't you? These things cost money of course, but we
must think of Little Frank. He has never seen his American relatives and
so much depends on a first impression."

Hephzy regarded me with suspicion. "Humph!" she sniffed, "that's the
first time I ever knew you to give in that there WAS a Little Frank.
All right, I sha'n't say any more, but I hope the foreign poorhouses are
more comfortable than ours, that's all. If you make me keep on this way,
I'll fetch up in one before the first month's over."

We left for New York on the five o'clock train. Packing those "Early
English Poets" was a confounded nuisance. They had to be stuffed here,
there and everywhere amid my wearing apparel and Hephzibah prophesied
evil to come.

"Books are the worse things goin' to make creases," she declared.
"They're all sharp edges."

I had to carry two of the volumes in my pockets, even then, at the very
start. They might prove delightful traveling companions, as the bookman
had said, but they were most uncomfortable things to sit on.

We reached the Grand Central station on time and went to a nearby hotel.
I should have sent the heavier baggage directly to the steamer, but I
was not sure--absolutely sure--which steamer it was to be. The "Princess
Eulalie" almost certainly, but I did not dare take the risk.

Hephzy called to me from the room adjoining mine at twelve that night.

"Just think, Hosy!" she cried, "this is the last night either of us will
spend on dry land."

"Heavens! I hope it won't be as bad as that," I retorted. "Holland is
pretty wet, so they say, but we should be able to find some dry spots."

She did not laugh. "You know what I mean," she observed. "To-morrow
night at twelve o'clock we shall be far out on the vasty deep."

"We shall be on the 'Princess Eulalie,'" I answered. "Go to sleep."

Neither of us spoke the truth. At twelve the following night we were
neither "far out on the vasty deep" nor on the "Princess Eulalie."

My first move after breakfast was to telephone Campbell at his city
home. He hailed me joyfully and ordered me to stay where I was, that is,
at the hotel. He would be there in an hour, he said.

He was five minutes ahead of his promise. We shook hands heartily.

"You are going to take my prescription, after all," he crowed. "Didn't
I tell you I was the only real doctor for sick authors? Bully for you!
Wish I was going with you. Who is?"

"Come to my room and I'll show you," said I. "You may be surprised."

"See here! you haven't gone and dug up another fossilized bookworm like
yourself, have you? If you have, I refuse--"

"Come and see."

We took the elevator to the fourth floor and walked to my room. I opened
the door.

"Hephzy," said I, "here is someone you know."

Hephzy, who had been looking out of the window of her room, hurried in.

"Well, Mr. Campbell!" she exclaimed, holding out her hand, "how do you
do? We got here all right, you see. But the way Hosy has been wastin'
money, his and mine, buyin' things we didn't need, I began to think one
spell we'd never get any further. Is it time to start for the steamer
yet?"

Jim's face was worth looking at. He shook Hephzibah's hand mechanically,
but he did not speak. Instead he looked at her and at me. I didn't speak
either; I was having a thoroughly good time.

"Had we ought to start now?" repeated Hephzibah. "I'm all ready but
puttin' on my things."

Jim came out of his trance. He dropped the hand and came to me.

"Are you--is she--" he stammered.

"Yes," said I. "Miss Cahoon is going with me. I wrote you I had selected
a good traveling companion. I have, haven't I?"

"He would have it so, Mr. Campbell," put in Hephzy. "I said no and kept
on sayin' it, but he vowed and declared he wouldn't go unless I did.
I know you must think it's queer my taggin' along, but it isn't any
queerer to you than it is to me."

Jim behaved very well, considering. He did not laugh. For a moment I
thought he was going to; if he had I don't know what I should have done,
said things for which I might have been sorry later on, probably. But he
did not laugh. He didn't even express the tremendous surprise which he
must have felt. Instead he shook hands again with both of us and said it
was fine, bully, just the thing.

"To tell the truth, Miss Cahoon," he declared, "I have been rather
fearful of this pet infant of ours. I didn't know what sort of helpless
creature he might have coaxed into roaming loose with him in the wilds
of Europe. I expected another babe in the woods and I was contemplating
cabling the police to look out for them and shoo away the wolves. But
he'll be all right now. Yes, indeed! he'll be looked out for now."

"Then you approve?" I asked.

He shot a side-long glance at me. "Approve!" he repeated. "I'm crazy
about the whole business."

I judged he considered me crazy, hopelessly so. I did not care. I agreed
with him in this--the whole business was insane and Hephzibah's going
was the only sensible thing about it, so far.

His next question was concerning our baggage. I told him I had left it
at the railway station because I was not sure where it should be sent.

"What time does the 'Princess Eulalie' sail?" I asked.

He looked at me oddly. "What?" he queried. "The 'Princess Eulalie'?
Twelve o'clock, I believe, I'm not sure."

"You're not sure! And it is after nine now. It strikes me that--"

"Never mind what strikes you. So long as it isn't lightning you
shouldn't complain. Have you the baggage checks? Give them to me."

I handed him the checks, obediently, and he stepped to the telephone
and gave a number. A short conversation followed. Then he hung up the
receiver.

"One of the men from the office will be here soon," he said. "He will
attend to all your baggage, get it aboard the ship and see that it is
put in your staterooms. Now, then, tell me all about it. What have you
been doing since I saw you? When did you arrive? How did you happen to
think of taking--er--Miss Cahoon with you? Tell me the whole."

I told him. Hephzy assisted, sitting on the edge of a rocking chair
and asking me what time it was at intervals of ten minutes. She was
decidedly fidgety. When she went to Boston she usually reached the
station half an hour before train time, and to sit calmly in a hotel
room, when the ship that was to take us to the ends of the earth was to
sail in two hours, was a reckless gamble with Fate, to her mind.

The man from the office came and the baggage checks were turned over to
him. So also were our bags and our umbrellas. Campbell stepped into
the hall and the pair held a whispered conversation. Hephzy seized the
opportunity to express to me her perturbation.

"My soul, Hosy!" she whispered. "Mr. Campbell's out of his head, ain't
he? Here we are a sittin' and sittin' and time's goin' by. We'll be too
late. Can't you make him hurry?"

I was almost as nervous as she was, but I would not have let our
guardian know it for the world. If we lost a dozen steamers I shouldn't
call his attention to the fact. I might be a "Babe in the Wood," but he
should not have the satisfaction of hearing me whimper.

He came back to the room a moment later and began asking more questions.
Our answers, particularly Hephzy's, seemed to please him a great deal.
At some of them he laughed uproariously. At last he looked at his watch.

"Almost eleven," he observed. "I must be getting around to the office.
Miss Cahoon will you excuse Kent and me for an hour or so? I have his
letters of credit and the tickets in our safe and he had better come
around with me and get them. If you have any last bits of shopping to
do, now is your opportunity. Or you might wait here if you prefer. We
will be back at half-past twelve and lunch together."

I started. Hephzy sprang from the chair.

"Half-past twelve!" I cried.

"Lunch together!" gasped Hephzy. "Why, Mr. Campbell! the 'Princess
Eulalie' sails at noon. You said so yourself!"

Jim smiled. "I know I did," he replied, "but that is immaterial. You are
not concerned with the 'Princess Eulalie.' Your passages are booked
on the 'Plutonia' and she doesn't leave her dock until one o'clock
to-morrow morning. We will meet here for lunch at twelve-thirty. Come,
Kent."

I didn't attempt an answer. I am not exactly sure what I did. A few
minutes later I walked out of that room with Campbell and I have a hazy
recollection of leaving Hephzy seated in the rocker and of hearing her
voice, as the door closed, repeating over and over:

"The 'Plutonia'! My soul and body! The 'Plutonia'! Me--ME on the
'Plutonia'!"

What I said and did afterwards doesn't make much difference. I know I
called my publisher a number of disrespectful names not one of which he
deserved.

"Confound you!" I cried. "You know I wouldn't have dreamed of taking a
passage on a ship like that. She's a floating Waldorf, everyone says so.
Dress and swagger society and--Oh, you idiot! I wanted quiet! I wanted
to be alone! I wanted--"

Jim interrupted me.

"I know you did," he said. "But you're not going to have them. You've
been alone too much. You need a change. If I know the 'Plutonia'--and
I've crossed on her four times--you're going to have it."

He burst into a roar of laughter. We were in a cab, fortunately, or his
behavior would have attracted attention. I could have choked him.

"You imbecile!" I cried. "I have a good mind to throw the whole thing up
and go home to Bayport. By George, I will!"

He continued to chuckle.

"I see you doing it!" he observed. "How about your--what's her
name?--Hephzibah? Going to tell her that it's all off, are you? Going
to tell her that you will forfeit your passage money and hers? Why, man,
haven't you a heart? If she was booked for Paradise instead of Paris
she couldn't be any happier. Don't be foolish! Your trunks are on the
'Plutonia' and on the 'Plutonia' you'll be to-night. It's the best thing
that can happen to you. I did it on purpose. You'll thank me come day."

I didn't thank him then.

We returned to the hotel at twelve-thirty, my pocket-book loaded with
tickets and letters of credit and unfamiliar white paper notes bearing
the name of the Bank of England. Hephzibah was still in the rocking
chair. I am sure she had not left it.

We lunched in the hotel dining-room. Campbell ordered the luncheon and
paid for it while Hephzibah exclaimed at his extravagance. She was
too excited to eat much and too worried concerning the extent of her
wardrobe to talk of less important matters.

"Oh dear, Hosy!" she wailed, "WHY didn't I buy another best dress. DO
you suppose my black one will be good enough? All those lords and
ladies and millionaires on the 'Plutonia'! Won't they think I'm dreadful
poverty-stricken. I saw a dress I wanted awfully--in one of those Boston
stores it was; but I didn't buy it because it was so dear. And I didn't
tell you I wanted it because I knew if I did you'd buy it. You're so
reckless with money. But now I wish I'd bought it myself. What WILL all
those rich people think of me?"

"About what they think of me, Hephzy, I imagine," I answered, ruefully.
"Jim here has put up a joke on us. He is the only one who is getting any
fun out of it."

Jim, for a wonder, was serious. "Miss Cahoon," he declared, earnestly,
"don't worry. I'm sure the black silk is all right; but if it wasn't
it wouldn't make any difference. On the 'Plutonia' nobody notices other
people's clothes. Most of them are too busy noticing their own. If Kent
has his evening togs and you have the black silk you'll pass muster.
You'll have a gorgeous time. I only wish I was going with you."

He repeated the wish several times during the afternoon. He insisted on
taking us to a matinee and Hephzy's comments on the performance seemed
to amuse him hugely. It had been eleven years, so she said, since she
went to the theater.

"Unless you count 'Uncle Tom' or 'Ten Nights in a Barroom,' or some
of those other plays that come to Bayport," she added. "I suppose I'm
making a perfect fool of myself laughin' and cryin' over what's nothin'
but make-believe, but I can't help it. Isn't it splendid, Hosy! I wonder
what Father would say if he could know that his daughter was really
travelin'--just goin' to Europe! He used to worry a good deal, in his
last years, about me. Seemed to feel that he hadn't taken me around and
done as much for me as he ought to in the days when he could. 'Twas just
nonsense, his feelin' that way, and I told him so. But I wonder if he
knows now how happy I am. I hope he does. My goodness! I can't realize
it myself. Oh, there goes the curtain up again! Oh, ain't that pretty! I
AM actin' ridiculous, I know, Mr. Campbell,' but you mustn't mind. Laugh
at me all you want to; I sha'n't care a bit."

Jim didn't laugh--then. Neither did I. He and I looked at each other
and I think the same thought was in both our minds. Good, kind,
whole-souled, self-sacrificing Hephzibah! The last misgiving, the last
doubt as to the wisdom of my choice of a traveling companion vanished
from my thoughts. For the first time I was actually glad I was going,
glad because of the happiness it would mean to her.

When we came out of the theater Campbell reached down in the crowd to
shake my hand.

"Congratulations, old man," he whispered; "you did exactly the right
thing. You surprised me, I admit, but you were dead right. She's a
brick. But don't I wish I was going along! Oh my! oh my! to think of you
two wandering about Europe together! If only I might be there to see and
hear! Kent, keep a diary; for my sake, promise me you'll keep a diary.
Put down everything she says and read it to me when you get home."

He left us soon afterward. He had given up the entire day to me and
would, I know, have cheerfully given the evening as well, but I would
not hear of it. A messenger from the office had brought him word of the
presence in New York of a distinguished scientist who was preparing a
manuscript for publication and the scientist had requested an interview
that night. Campbell was very anxious to obtain that manuscript and I
knew it. Therefore I insisted that he leave us. He was loathe to do so.

"I hate to, Kent," he declared. "I had set my heart on seeing you on
board and seeing you safely started. But I do want to nail Scheinfeldt,
I must admit. The book is one that he has been at work on for years and
two other publishing houses are as anxious as ours to get it. To-night
is my chance, and to-morrow may be too late."

"Then you must not miss the chance. You must go, and go now."

"I don't like to. Sure you've got everything you need? Your tickets and
your letters of credit and all? Sure you have money enough to carry you
across comfortably?"

"Yes, and more than enough, even on the 'Plutonia.'"

"Well, all right, then. When you reach London go to our English
branch--you have the address, Camford Street, just off the Strand--and
whatever help you may need they'll give you. I've cabled them
instructions. Think you can get down to the ship all right?"

I laughed. "I think it fairly possible," I said. "If I lose my way, or
Hephzy is kidnapped, I'll speak to the police or telephone you."

"The latter would be safer and much less expensive. Well, good-by,
Kent. Remember now, you're going for a good time and you're to forget
literature. Write often and keep in touch with me. Good-by, Miss Cahoon.
Take care of this--er--clam of ours, won't you. Don't let anyone eat him
on the half-shell, or anything like that."

Hephzy smiled. "They'd have to eat me first," she said, "and I'm pretty
old and tough. I'll look after him, Mr. Campbell, don't you worry."

"I don't. Good luck to you both--and good-by."

A final handshake and he was gone. Hephzy looked after him.

"There!" she exclaimed; "I really begin to believe I'm goin'. Somehow
I feel as if the last rope had been cast off. We've got to depend on
ourselves now, Hosy, dear. Mercy! how silly I am talkin'. A body would
think I was homesick before I started."

I did not answer, for I WAS homesick. We dined together at the hotel.
There remained three long hours before it would be time for us to take
the cab for the 'Plutonia's' wharf. I suggested another theater, but
Hephzy, to my surprise, declined the invitation.

"If you don't mind, Hosy," she said, "I guess I'd rather stay right here
in the room. I--I feel sort of solemn and as if I wanted to sit still
and think. Perhaps it's just as well. After waitin' eleven years to go
to one theater, maybe two in the same day would be more than I could
stand."

So we sat together in the room at the hotel--sat and thought. The
minutes dragged by. Outside beneath the windows, New York blazed and
roared. I looked down at the hurrying little black manikins on the
sidewalks, each, apparently, bound somewhere on business or pleasure of
its own, and I wondered vaguely what that business or pleasure might
be and why they hurried so. There were many single ones, of course,
and occasionally groups of three or four, but couples were the most
numerous. Husbands and wives, lovers and sweethearts, each with his or
her life and interests bound up in the life and interests of the other.
I envied them. Mine had been a solitary life, an unusual, abnormal kind
of life. No one had shared its interests and ambitions with me, no one
had spurred me on to higher endeavor, had loved with me and suffered
with me, helping me through the shadows and laughing with me in the
sunshine. No one, since Mother's death, except Hephzy and Hephzy's love
and care and sacrifice, fine as they were, were different. I had missed
something, I had missed a great deal, and now it was too late. Youth and
high endeavor and ambition had gone by; I had left them behind. I was
a solitary, queer, self-centered old bachelor, a "quahaug," as my
fellow-Bayporters called me. And to ship a quahaug around the world is
not likely to do the creature a great deal of good. If he lives through
it he is likely to be shipped home again tougher and drier and more
useless to the rest of creation than ever.

Hephzibah, too, had evidently been thinking, for she interrupted my
dismal meditations with a long sigh. I started and turned toward her.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Oh, nothin'," was the solemn answer. "I was wonderin', that's all. Just
wonderin' if he would talk English. It would be a terrible thing if
he could speak nothin' but French or a foreign language and I couldn't
understand him. But Ardelia was American and that brute of a Morley
spoke plain enough, so I suppose--"

I judged it high time to interrupt.

"Come, Hephzy," said I. "It is half-past ten. We may as well start at
once."

Broadway, seen through the cab windows, was bright enough, a blaze of
flashing signs and illuminated shop windows. But --th street, at the
foot of which the wharves of the Trans-Atlantic Steamship Company were
located, was black and dismal. It was by no means deserted, however.
Before and behind and beside us were other cabs and automobiles bound in
the same direction. Hephzy peered out at them in amazement.

"Mercy on us, Hosy!" she exclaimed. "I never saw such a procession of
carriages. They're as far ahead and as far back of us as you can see. It
is like the biggest funeral that ever was, except that they don't crawl
along the way a funeral does. I'm glad of that, anyhow. I wish I didn't
FEEL so much as if I was goin' to be buried. I don't know why I do. I
hope it isn't a presentiment."

If it was she forgot it a few minutes later. The cab stopped before a
mammoth doorway in a long, low building and a person in uniform opened
the door. The wide street was crowded with vehicles and from them were
descending people attired as if for a party rather than an ocean voyage.
I helped Hephzy to alight and, while I was paying the cab driver, she
looked about her.

"Hosy! Hosy!" she whispered, seizing my arm tight, "we've made a
mistake. This isn't the steamboat; this is--is a weddin' or somethin'.
Look! look!"

I looked, looked at the silk hats, the opera cloaks, the jewels and
those who wore them. For a moment I, too, was certain there must be a
mistake. Then I looked upward and saw above the big doorway the flashing
electric sign of the "Trans-Atlantic Navigation Company."

"No, Hephzy," said I; "I guess it is the right place. Come."

I gave her my arm--that is, she continued to clutch it with both
hands--and we moved forward with the crowd, through the doorway, past
a long, moving inclined plane up which bags, valises, bundles of golf
sticks and all sorts of lighter baggage were gliding, and faced another
and smaller door.

"Lift this way! This way to the lift!" bawled a voice.

"What's a lift?" whispered Hephzy, tremulously, "Hosy, what's a lift?"

"An elevator," I whispered in reply.

"But we can't go on board a steamboat in an elevator, can we? I never
heard--"

I don't know what she never heard. The sentence was not finished. Into
the lift we went. On either side of us were men in evening dress and
directly in front was a large woman, hatless and opera-cloaked, with
diamonds in her ears and a rustle of silk at every point of her persons.
The car reeked with perfume.

The large woman wriggled uneasily.

"George," she said, in a loud whisper, "why do they crowd these lifts
in this disgusting way? And WHY," with another wriggle, "do they permit
PERSONS with packages to use them?"

As we emerged from the elevator Hephzy whispered again.

"She meant us, Hosy," she said. "I've got three of those books of yours
in this bundle under my arm. I COULDN'T squeeze 'em into either of the
valises. But she needn't have been so disagreeable about it, need she."

Still following the crowd, we passed through more wide doorways and into
a huge loft where, through mammoth openings at our left, the cool air
from the river blew upon our faces. Beyond these openings loomed an
enormous something with rows of railed walks leading up its sides.
Hephzibah and I, moving in a sort of bewildered dream, found ourselves
ascending one of these walks. At its end was another doorway and,
beyond, a great room, with more elevators and a mosaic floor, and
mahogany and gilt and gorgeousness, and silk and broadcloth and satin.

Hephzy gasped and stopped short.

"It IS a mistake, Hosy!" she cried. "Where is the steamer?"

I smiled. I felt almost as "green" and bewildered as she, but I tried
not to show my feelings.

"It is all right, Hephzy," I answered. "This is the steamer. I know it
doesn't look like one, but it is. This is the 'Plutonia' and we are on
board at last."

Two hours later we leaned together over the rail and watched the lights
of New York grow fainter behind us.

Hephzibah drew a deep breath.

"It is so," she said. "It is really so. We ARE, aren't we, Hosy."

"We are," said I. "There is no doubt of it."

"I wonder what will happen to us before we see those lights again."

"I wonder."

"Do you think HE--Do you think Little Frank--"

"Hephzy," I interrupted, "if we are going to bed at all before morning,
we had better start now."

"All right, Hosy. But you mustn't say 'go to bed.' Say 'turn in.'
Everyone calls going to bed 'turning in' aboard a vessel."



CHAPTER V

In Which We View, and Even Mingle Slightly with, the Upper Classes


It is astonishing--the ease with which the human mind can accustom
itself to the unfamiliar and hitherto strange. Nothing could have been
more unfamiliar or strange to Hephzibah and me than an ocean voyage and
the "Plutonia." And yet before three days of that voyage were at an end
we were accustomed to both--to a degree. We had learned to do certain
things and not to do others. Some pet illusions had been shattered,
and new and, at first, surprising items of information had lost their
newness and come to be accepted as everyday facts.

For example, we learned that people in real life actually wore monocles,
something, which I, of course, had known to be true but which had seemed
nevertheless an unreality, part of a stage play, a "dress-up" game for
children and amateur actors. The "English swell" in the performances of
the Bayport Dramatic Society always wore a single eyeglass, but he also
wore Dundreary whiskers and clothes which would have won him admittance
to the Home for Feeble-Minded Youth without the formality of an
examination. His "English accent" was a combination of the East Bayport
twang and an Irish brogue and he was a blithering idiot in appearance
and behavior. No one in his senses could have accepted him as anything
human and the eyeglass had been but a part of his unreal absurdity.

And yet, here on the "Plutonia," were at least a dozen men, men of
dignity and manner, who sported monocles and acted as if they were
used to them. The first evening before we left port, one or two were in
evidence; the next afternoon, in the Lounge, there were more. The
fact that they were on an English ship, bound for England, brought the
monocles out of their concealment, as Hephzy said, "like hoptoads after
the first spring thaw." Her amazed comments were unique.

"But what good are they, Hosy?" she demanded. "Can they see with 'em?"

"I suppose they can," I answered. "You can see better with your
spectacles than you can without them."

"Humph! I can see better with two eyes than I can with one, as far as
that goes. I don't believe they wear 'em for seein' at all. Take that
man there," pointing to a long, lank Canadian in a yellow ulster,
whom the irreverent smoking-room had already christened "The Duke
of Labrador." "Look at him! He didn't wear a sign of one until this
mornin'. If he needed it to see with he'd have worn it before, wouldn't
he? Don't tell me! He wears it because he wants people to think he's a
regular boarder at Windsor Castle. And he isn't; he comes from Toronto,
and that's only a few miles from the United States. Ugh! You foolish
thing!" as the "Duke of Labrador" strutted by our deck-chairs; "I
suppose you think you're pretty, don't you? Well, you're not. You look
for all the world like a lighthouse with one window in it and the lamp
out."

I laughed. "Hephzy," said I, "every nation has its peculiarities and the
monocle is an English national institution, like--well, like tea, for
instance."

"Institution! Don't talk to me about institutions! I know the
institution I'd put HIM in."

She didn't fancy the "Duke of Labrador." Neither did she fancy tea at
breakfast and coffee at dinner. But she learned to accept the first. Two
sessions with the "Plutonia's" breakfast coffee completed her education.

"Bring me tea," she said to our table steward on the third morning.
"I've tried most every kind of coffee and lived through it, but I'm
gettin' too old to keep on experimentin' with my health. Bring me tea
and I'll try to forget what time it is."

We had tea at breakfast, therefore, and tea at four in the afternoon.
Hephzibah and I learned to take it with the rest. She watched her
fellow-passengers, however, and as usual had something to say concerning
their behavior.

"Did you hear that, Hosy?" she whispered, as we sat together in the
"Lounge," sipping tea and nibbling thin bread and butter and the
inevitable plum cake. "Did you hear what that woman said about her
husband?"

I had not heard, and said so.

"Well, judgin' by her actions, I thought her husband was lost and she
was sure he had been washed overboard. 'Where is Edward?' she kept
askin'. 'Poor Edward! What WILL he do? Where is he?' I was gettin' real
anxious, and then it turned out that she was afraid that, if he didn't
come soon, he'd miss his tea. My soul! Hosy, I've been thinkin' and do
you know the conclusion I've come to?"

"No," I replied. "What is it?"

"Well, it sounds awfully irreverent, but I've come to the conclusion
that the first part of the Genesis in the English scriptures must be
different than ours. I'm sure they think that the earth was created in
six days and, on the seventh, Adam and Eve had tea. I believe it for an
absolute fact."

The pet illusion, the loss of which caused her the most severe shock,
was that concerning the nobility. On the morning of our first day afloat
the passenger lists were distributed. Hephzibah was early on deck.
Fortunately neither she nor I were in the least discomfited by the
motion of the ship, then or at any time. We proved to be good sailors;
Hephzibah declared it was in the blood.

"For a Knowles or a Cahoon to be seasick," she announced, "would be a
disgrace. Our men folks for four generations would turn over in their
graves."

She was early on deck that first morning and, at breakfast she and I had
the table to ourselves. She had the passenger list propped against the
sugar bowl and was reading the names.

"My gracious, Hosy!" she exclaimed. "What, do you think! There are five
'Sirs' on board and one 'Lord'! Just think of it! Where do you suppose
they are?"

"In their berths, probably, at this hour," I answered.

"Then I'm goin' to stay right here till they come out. I'm goin' to see
'em and know what they look like if I sit at this table all day."

I smiled. "I wouldn't do that, Hephzy," said I. "We can see them at
lunch."

"Oh! O--Oh! And there's a Princess here! Princess
B-e-r-g-e-n-s-t-e-i-n--Bergenstein. Princess Bergenstein. What do you
suppose she's Princess of?"

"Princess of Jerusalem, I should imagine," I answered. "Oh, I see!
You've skipped a line, Hephzy. Bergenstein belongs to another person.
The Princess's name is Berkovitchky. Russian or Polish, perhaps."

"I don't care if she's Chinese; I mean to see her. I never expected to
look at a live Princess in MY life."

We stopped in the hall at the entrance to the dining-saloon to examine
the table chart. Hephzibah made careful notes of the tables at which the
knights and the lord and the Princess were seated and their locations.
At lunch she consulted the notes.

"The lord sits right behind us at that little table there," she said,
excitedly. "That table for two is marked 'Lord and Lady Erkskine.' Now
we must watch when they come in."

A few minutes later a gray-haired little man, accompanied by a
middle-aged woman entered the saloon and were seated at the small table
by an obsequious steward. Hephzy gasped.

"Why--why, Hosy!" she exclaimed. "That isn't the lord, is it? THAT?"

"I suppose it must be," I answered. When our own Steward came I asked
him.

"Yes, sir," he answered, with unction. "Yes, sir, that is Lord and Lady
Erkskine, sir, thank you, sir."

Hephzy stared at Lord and Lady Erkskine. I gave our luncheon order,
and the steward departed. Then her indignant disgust and disappointment
burst forth.

"Well! well!" she exclaimed. "And that is a real live lord! That is!
Why, Hosy, he's the livin' image of Asaph Tidditt back in Bayport. If
Ase could afford clothes like that he might be his twin brother. Well! I
guess that's enough. I don't want to see that Princess any more. Just as
like as not she'd look like Susanna Wixon."

Her criticisms were not confined to passengers of other nationalities.
Some of our own came in for comment quite as severe.

"Look at those girls at that table over there," she whispered. "The two
in red, I mean. One of 'em has got a little flag pinned on her dress.
What do you suppose that is for?"

I looked at the young ladies in red. They were vivacious damsels and
their conversation and laughter were by no means subdued. A middle-aged
man and woman and two young fellows were their table-mates and the group
attracted a great deal of attention.

"What has she got that flag pinned on her for?" repeated Hephzy.

"She wishes everyone to know she's an American exportation, I suppose,"
I answered. "She is evidently proud of her country."

"Humph! Her country wouldn't be proud of her, if it had to listen to
her the way we do. There's some exports it doesn't pay to advertise, I
guess, and she and her sister are that kind. Every time they laugh I
can see that Lady Erkskine shrivel up like a sensitive plant. I hope she
don't think all American girls are like those two."

"She probably does."

"Well, IF she does she's makin' a big mistake. I might as well believe
all Englishmen were like this specimen comin' now, and I don't believe
that, even if I do hail from Bayport."

The specimen was the "Duke of Labrador," who sauntered by, monocle in
eye, hands in pockets and an elaborate affection of the "Oxford stoop"
which he must have spent time and effort in acquiring. Hephzibah shook
her head.

"I wish Toronto was further from home than it is," she declared. "But
there! I shan't worry about him. I'll leave him for Lord Erkskine and
his wife to be ashamed of. He's their countryman, or he hopes he is.
I've got enough to do bein' ashamed of those two American girls."

It may be gathered from these conversations that Hephzy and I had been
so fortunate as to obtain a table by ourselves. This was not the case.
There were four seats at our table and, according to the chart of the
dining-saloon, one of them should be occupied by a "Miss Rutledge of New
York" and the other by "A. Carleton Heathcroft of London." Miss Rutledge
we had not seen at all. Our table steward informed us that the lady was
"hindisposed" and confined to her room. She was an actress, he added.
Hephzy, whose New England training had imbued her with the conviction
that all people connected with the stage must be highly undesirable
as acquaintances, was quite satisfied. "Of course I'm sorry she isn't
well," she confided to me "but I'm awfully glad she won't be at our
table. I shouldn't want to hurt her feelin's, but I couldn't talk to her
as I would to an ordinary person. I COULDN'T! All I should be able to
think of was what she wore, or didn't wear, when she was actin' her
parts. I expect I'm old-fashioned, but when I think of those girls
in the pictures outside that theater--the one we didn't go
to--I--well--mercy!"

The "pictures" were the posters advertising a popular musical comedy
which Campbell had at first suggested our witnessing the afternoon of
our stay in New York. Hephzibah's shocked expression and my whispered
advice had brought about a change of plans. We saw a perfectly
respectable, though thrilling, melodrama instead. I might have
relieved my relative's mind by assuring her that all actresses were not
necessarily attired as "merry villagers," but the probable result of my
assurance seemed scarcely worth the effort.

A. Carleton Heathcroft, Esquire, was not acquainted with the stage, in
a professional way, at any rate. He was a slim and elegant gentleman,
dressed with elaborate care, who appeared profoundly bored with life
in general and our society in particular. He sported one of Hephzibah's
detestations, a monocle, and spoke, when he spoke at all, with a languid
drawl and what I learned later was a Piccadilly accent. He favored us
with his company during our first day afloat; after that we saw him
amid the select group at that much sought--by some--center of shipboard
prominence, "the Captain's table."

Oddly enough Hephzibah did not resent the Heathcroft condescension and
single eyeglass as much as I had expected. She explained her feeling in
this way.

"I know he's dreadfully high and mighty and all that," she said. "And
the way he said 'Really?' when you and I spoke to him was enough to
squelch even an Angelina Phinney. But I didn't care so much. Anybody,
even a body as green as I am, can see that he actually IS somebody when
he's at home, not a make-believe, like that Toronto man. And I'm glad
for our waiter's sake that he's gone somewhere else. The poor thing
bowed so low when he came in and was so terribly humble every time Mr.
Heathcroft spoke to him. I should hate to feel I must say 'Thank you'
when I was told that the food was 'rotten bad.' I never thought 'rotten'
was a nice word, but all these English folks say it. I heard that pretty
English girl over there tell her father that it was a 'jolly rotten
mornin',' and she's as nice and sweet as she can be. Well, I'm
learnin' fast, Hosy. I can see a woman smoke a cigarette now and not
shiver--much. Old Bridget Doyle up in West Bayport, used to smoke a
pipe and the whole town talked about it. She'd be right at home in that
sittin'-room they call a 'Lounge' after dinner, wouldn't she?"

My acquaintance with A. Carleton Heathcroft, which appeared to have
ended almost as soon as it began, was renewed in an odd way. I was in
the "Smoke-Room" after dinner the third evening out, enjoying a cigar
and idly listening to the bidding for pools on the ship's run, that
time-honored custom which helps the traveling gentleman of sporting
proclivities to kill time and lose money. On board the "Plutonia," with
its unusually large quota of millionaires and personages, the bidding
was lively and the prices paid for favored numbers high. Needless to say
I was not one of the bidders. My interest was merely casual.

The auctioneer that evening was a famous comedian with an international
reputation and his chatter, as he urged his hearers to higher bids, was
clever and amusing. I was listening to it and smiling at the jokes when
a voice at my elbow said:

"Five pounds."

I turned and saw that the speaker was Heathcroft. His monocle was in his
eye, a cigarette was between his fingers and he looked as if he had
been newly washed and ironed and pressed from head to foot. He nodded
carelessly and I bowed in return.

"Five pounds," repeated Mr. Heathcroft.

The auctioneer acknowledged the bid and proceeded to urge his audience
on to higher flights. The flights were made and my companion capped each
with one more lofty. Eight, nine, ten pounds were bid. Heathcroft bid
eleven. Someone at the opposite side of the room bid twelve. It seemed
ridiculous to me. Possibly my face expressed my feeling; at any rate
something caused the immaculate gentleman in the next chair to address
me instead of the auctioneer.

"I say," he said, "that's running a bit high, isn't it?"

"It seems so to me," I replied. "The number is five hundred and
eighty-six and I think we shall do better than that."

"Oh, do you! Really! And why do you think so, may I ask?"

"Because we are having a remarkably smooth sea and a favorable wind."

"Oh, but you forget the fog. There's quite a bit of fog about us now,
isn't there."

I wish I could describe the Heathcroft manner of saying "Isn't there." I
can't, however; there is no use trying.

"It will amount to nothing," I answered. "The glass is high and there
is no indication of bad weather. Our run this noon was five hundred and
ninety-one, you remember."

"Yes. But we did have extraordinarily good weather for that."

"Why, not particularly good. We slowed down about midnight. There was
a real fog then and the glass was low. The second officer told me it
dropped very suddenly and there was a heavy sea running. For an hour
between twelve and one we were making not much more than half our usual
speed."

"Really! That's interesting. May I ask if you and the second officer are
friends?"

"Scarcely that. He and I exchanged a few words on deck this morning,
that's all."

"But he told you about the fog and the--what is it--the glass, and all
that. Fancy! that's extremely odd. I'm acquainted with the captain in
a trifling sort of way; I sit at his table, I mean to say. And I assure
you he doesn't tell us a word. And, by Jove, we cross-question him, too!
Rather!"

I smiled. I could imagine the cross-questioning.

"I suppose the captain is obliged to be non-committal," I observed.
"That's part of his job. The second officer meant to be, I have no
doubt, but perhaps my remarks showed that I was really interested in
ships and the sea. My father and grandfather, too, for that matter were
seafaring men, both captains. That may have made the second officer more
communicative. Not that he said anything of importance, of course."

Mr. Heathcroft seemed very interested. He actually removed his eyeglass.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "You know something about it, then. I thought it was
extraordinary, but now I see. And you think our run will be better than
five hundred and eighty?"

"It should be, unless there is a remarkable change. This ship makes over
six hundred, day after day, in good weather. She should do at least six
hundred by to-morrow noon, unless there is a sudden change, as I said."

"But six hundred would be--it would be the high field, by Jove!"

"Anything over five hundred and ninety-four would be that. The numbers
are very low to-night. Far too low, I should say."

Heathcroft was silent. The auctioneer, having forced the bid on number
five hundred and eighty-six up to thirteen pounds ten, was imploring his
hearers not to permit a certain winner to be sacrificed at this absurd
figure.

"Fourteen pounds, gentlemen," he begged. "For the sake of the wife
and children, for the honor of the star spangled banner and the union
jack,--DON'T hesitate--don't even stammer--below fourteen pounds."

He looked in our direction as he said it. Mr. Heathcroft made no sign.
He produced a gold cigarette box and extended it in my direction.

"Will you?" he inquired.

"No, thank you," I replied. "I will smoke a cigar, if you don't mind."

He did not appear to mind. He lighted his cigarette, readjusted his
monocle, and stared stonily at the gesticulating auctioneer.

The bidding went on. One by one the numbers were sold until all were
gone. Then the auctioneer announced that bids for the "high field," that
is, any number above five hundred and ninety-four, were in order. My
companion suddenly came to life.

"Ten pounds," he called.

I started. "For mercy sake, Mr. Heathcroft," I protested, "don't let
anything I have said influence your bidding. I may be entirely wrong."

He turned and surveyed me through the eyeglass.

"You may wish to bid yourself," he drawled. "Careless of me. So sorry.
Shall I withdraw the bid?"

"No, no. I'm not going to bid. I only--"

"Eleven pounds I am offered, gentlemen," shouted the auctioneer. "Eleven
pounds! It would be like robbing an orphan asylum. Do I hear twelve?"

He heard twelve immediately--from Mr. Heathcroft.

Thirteen pounds were bid. Evidently others shared my opinion concerning
the value of the "high field." Heathcroft promptly raised it to
fourteen. I ventured another protest. So far as effect was concerned I
might as well have been talking to one of the smoke-stacks. The bidding
was lively and lengthy. At last the "high field" went to Mr. A. Carleton
Heathcroft for twenty-one pounds, approximately one hundred and five
dollars. I thought it time for me to make my escape. I was wondering
where I should hide next day, when the run was announced.

"Greatly obliged to you, I'm sure," drawled the fortunate bidder. "Won't
you join me in a whisky and soda or something?"

I declined the whisky and soda.

"Sorry," said Mr. Heathcroft. "Jolly grateful for putting me right,
Mr.--er--"

"Knowles is my name," I said. He might have remembered it; I remembered
his perfectly.

"Of course--Knowles. Thank you so much, Knowles. Thank you and the
second officer. Nothing like having professional information--eh, what?
Rather!"

There seemed to be no doubt in his mind that he was going to win. There
was more than a doubt in mine. I told Hephzy of my experience when I
joined her in the Lounge. My attempts to say "Really" and "Isn't it" and
"Rather" in the Heathcroft manner and with the Heathcroft accent pleased
her very much. As to the result of my unpremeditated "tip" she was quite
indifferent.

"If he loses it will serve him good and right," she declared. "Gamblin's
poor business and I sha'n't care if he does lose."

"I shall," I observed. "I feel responsible in a way and I shall be
sorry."

"'SO sorry,' you mean, Hosy. That's what that blunderin' steward said
when he stepped on my skirt and tore the gatherin' all loose. I told him
he wasn't half as sorry as I was."

But at noon next day, when the observation was taken and the run posted
on the bulletin board the figure was six hundred and two. My "tip"
had been a good one after all and A. Carleton Heathcroft, Esquire,
was richer by some seven hundred dollars, even after the expenses of
treating the "smoke-room" and feeing the smoke-room steward had been
deducted. I did not visit the smoke-room to share in the treat. I feared
I might be expected to furnish more professional information. But that
evening a bottle of vintage champagne was produced by our obsequious
table steward. "With Mr. 'Eathcroft's compliments, sir, thank you, sir,"
announced the latter.

Hephzibah looked at the gilt-topped bottle.

"WHAT in the world will we do with it, Hosy?" she demanded.

"Why, drink it, I suppose," I answered. "It is the only thing we can do.
We can't send it back."

"But you can't drink the whole of it, and I'm sure I sha'n't start in to
be a drunkard at my age. I'll take the least little bit of a drop, just
to see what it tastes like. I've read about champagne, just as I've read
about lords and ladies, all my life, but I never expected to see either
of 'em. Well there!" after a very small sip from the glass, "there's
another pet idea gone to smash. A lord looks like Ase Tidditt, and
champagne tastes like vinegar and soda. Tut! tut! tut! if I had to drink
that sour stuff all my life I'd probably look like Asaph, too. No wonder
that Erkskine man is such a shriveled-up thing."

I glanced toward the captain's table. Mr. Heathcroft raised his glass.
I bowed and raised mine. The group at that table, the captain included,
were looking in my direction. I judged that my smoke-room acquaintance
had told them of my wonderful "tip." I imagined I could see the
sarcastic smile upon the captain's face. I did not care for that kind of
celebrity.

But the affair had one quite unexpected result. The next forenoon as
Hephzibah and I were reclining in our deck-chairs the captain himself,
florid-faced, gray-bearded, gold-laced and grand, halted before us.

"I believe your name is Knowles, sir," he said, raising his cap.

"It is," I replied. I wondered what in the world was coming next. Was he
going to take me to task for talking with his second officer?

"Your home is in Bayport, Massachusetts, I see by the passenger list,"
he went on. "Is that Bayport on Cape Cod, may I ask?"

"Yes," I replied, more puzzled than ever.

"I once knew a Knowles from your town, sir. He was a seafaring man
like myself. His name was Philander Knowles, and when I knew him he was
commander of the bark 'Ranger.'"

"He was my father," I said.

Captain Stone extended his hand.

"Mr. Knowles," he declared, "this is a great pleasure, sir. I knew
your father years ago when I was a young man, mate of one of our ships
engaged in the Italian fruit trade. He was very kind to me at that time.
I have never forgotten it. May I sit down?"

The chair next to ours happened to be unoccupied at the moment and
he took it. I introduced Hephzibah and we chatted for some time. The
captain appeared delighted to meet the son of his old acquaintance.
Father and he had met in Messina--Father's ship was in the fruit trade
also at that time--and something or other he had done to help young
Stone had made a great impression on the latter. I don't know what the
something was, whether it was monetary help or assistance in getting out
of a serious scrape; Stone did not tell me and I didn't ask. But, at any
rate, the pair had become very friendly there and at subsequent meetings
in the Mediterranean ports. The captain asked all sorts of questions
about Father, his life, his family and his death aboard the sinking
"Monarch of the Seas." Hephzibah furnished most of the particulars. She
remembered them well.

Captain Stone nodded solemnly.

"That is the way the master of a ship should die," he declared. "Your
father, Mr. Knowles, was a man and he died like one. He was my first
American acquaintance and he gave me a new idea of Yankees--if you'll
excuse my calling them that, sir."

Hephzy had a comment to make.

"There are SOME pretty fair Yankees," she observed, drily. "ALL the good
folks haven't moved back to England yet."

The captain solemnly assured her that he was certain of it.

"Though two of the best are on their way," I added, with a wink at
Hephzy. This attempt at humor was entirely lost. Our companion said he
presumed I referred to Mr. and Mrs. Van Hook, who sat next him at table.

"And that leads me to ask if Miss Cahoon and yourself will not join us,"
he went on. "I could easily arrange for two places."

I looked at Hephzy. Her face expressed decided disapproval and she shook
her head.

"Thank you, Captain Stone," I said; "but we have a table to ourselves
and are very comfortable. We should not think of troubling you to that
extent."

He assured us it would not be a trouble, but a pleasure. We were firm in
our refusal, however, and he ceased to urge. He declared his intention
of seeing that our quarters were adequate, offered to accompany us
through the engine-rooms and the working portions of the ship whenever
we wished, ordered the deck steward, who was all but standing on his
head in obsequious desire to oblige, to take good care of us, shook
hands once more, and went away. Hephzibah drew a long breath.

"My goodness!" she exclaimed; "sit at HIS table! I guess not! There's
another lord and his wife there, to say nothin' of the Van Hooks. I'd
look pretty, in my Cape Cod clothes, perched up there, wouldn't I! A hen
is all right in her place, but she don't belong in a peacock cage. And
they drink champagne ALL the time there; I've watched 'em. No thank you,
I'll stay in the henyard along with the everyday fowls."

"Odd that he should have known Father," I observed. "Well, I suppose the
proper remark to make, under the circumstances, is that this is a small
world. That is what nine-tenths of Bayport would say."

"It's what I say, too," declared Hephzy, with emphasis. "Well, it's
awful encouraging for us, isn't it."

"Encouraging? What do you mean?"

"Why, I mean about Little Frank. It makes me feel surer than ever that
we shall run across him."

I suppressed a groan. "Hephzy," said I, "why on earth should the fact
that Captain Stone knew my father encourage you to believe that we shall
meet a person we never knew at all?"

"Hosy, how you do talk! If you and I, just cruisin' this way across
the broadside of creation, run across a man that knew Cousin Philander
thirty-nine years ago, isn't it just as reasonable to suppose we'll meet
a child who was born twenty-one years ago? I should say 'twas! Hosy,
I've had a presentiment about this cruise of ours: We're SENT on it;
that's what I think--we're sent. Oh, you can laugh! You'll see by and
by. THEN you won't laugh."

"No, Hephzy," I admitted, resignedly, "I won't laugh then, I promise
you. If _I_ ever reach the stage where I see a Little Frank I promise
you I sha'n't laugh. I'll believe diseases of the brain are contagious,
like the measles, and I'll send for a doctor."

The captain met us again in the dining-room that evening. He came
over to our table and chatted for some time. His visit caused quite a
sensation. Shipboard society is a little world by itself and the ship's
captain is the head of it. Persons who would, very likely, have passed
Captain Stone on Fifth Avenue or Piccadilly without recognizing him now
toadied to him as if he were a Czar, which, in a way, I suppose he is
when afloat. His familiarity with us shed a sort of reflected glory upon
Hephzy and me. Several of our fellow-passengers spoke to us that evening
for the first time.

A. Carleton Heathcroft, Esquire, was not among the Lounge habitues; the
smoke-room was his accustomed haunt. But the next forenoon as I leaned
over the rail of the after promenade deck watching the antics of the
"Stokers' Band" which was performing for the benefit of the second-class
with an eye toward pennies and small silver from all classes, Heathcroft
sauntered up and leaned beside me. We exchanged good-mornings. I thanked
him for the wine.

"Quite unnecessary, Knowles," he said. "Least I could do, it seems to
me. I pulled quite a tidy bit from that inside information of yours;
I did really. Awfully obliged, and all that. You seem to have a wide
acquaintance among the officers. That captain chap tells us he knew your
father--the sailor one you told me of, you understand."

Having had but one father I understood perfectly. We chatted in a
inconsequential way for a short time. In the course of our conversation
I happened to mention that I wrote, professionally. To my surprise
Heathcroft was impressed.

"Do you, really!" he exclaimed. "That's interesting, isn't it now! I
have a cousin who writes. Don't know why she does it; she doesn't get
her writings printed, but she keeps on. It is a habit of hers. Curious
dissipation--eh, what? Does that--er--Miss--that companion of yours,
write also?"

I laughed and informed him that writing was not one of Hephzibah's bad
habits.

"Extraordinary woman, isn't she," he said. "I met her just now, walking
about, and I happened to mention that I was taking the air. She said she
wouldn't quarrel with me because of that. The more I took the better
she would like it; she could spare about a gale and a quarter and not
feel--What did she call it? Oh yes, 'scrimped.' What is 'scrimped,' may
I ask?"

I explained the meaning of "scrimped." Heathcroft was much amused.

"It WAS blowing a bit strong up forward there," he declared. "That was a
clever way of putting it, wasn't it?"

"She is a clever woman," I said, shortly.

Heathcroft did not enthuse.

"Oh," he said dubiously. "A relative of yours, I suppose."

"A cousin, that's all."

"One's relatives, particularly the feminine relatives, incline toward
eccentricity as they grow older, don't you think. I have an aunt down in
Sussex, who is queer. A good sort, too, no end of money, a big place
and all that, but odd. She and I get on well together--I am her pet, I
suppose I may say--but, by Jove, she has quarreled with everyone else in
the family. I let her have her own way and it has convinced her that I
am the only rational Heathcroft in existence. Do you golf, Knowles?"

"I attempt something in that line. I doubt if my efforts should be
called golf."

"It is a rotten game when one is off form, isn't it. If you are down
in Sussex and I chance to be there I should be glad to have you play an
eighteen with me. Burglestone Bogs is the village. Anyone will direct
you to the Manor. If I'm not there, introduce yourself to my aunt. Lady
Kent Carey is the name. She'll be jolly glad to welcome you if you
tell her you know me. I'm her sole interest in life, the greenhouses
excepted, of course. Cultivating roses and rearing me are her hobbies."

I thought it improbable that the golfers of Burglestone Bogs would ever
be put to shame by the brilliancy of my game. I thanked him, however.
I was surprised at the invitation. I had been under the impression,
derived from my reading, that the average Englishman required an
acquaintance of several months before proffering hospitality. No doubt
Mr. Heathcroft was not an average Englishman.

"Will you be in London long?" he asked. "I suppose not. You're probably
off on a hurricane jaunt from one end of the Continent to the other. Two
hours at Stratford, bowing before Shakespeare's tomb, a Derby through
the cathedral towns, and then the Channel boat, eh? That's the American
way, isn't it?"

"It is not our way," I replied. "We have no itinerary. I don't know
where we may go or how long we shall stay."

Evidently I rose again in his estimation.

"Have you picked your hotel in London?" he inquired.

"No. I shall be glad of any help you may be kind enough to give along
that line."

He reflected. "There's a decent little hotel in Mayfair," he said, after
a moment. "A private sort of shop. I don't use it myself; generally put
up at the club, I mean to say. But my aunt and my sisters do. They're
quite mad about it. It is--Ah--Bancroft's--that's it, Bancroft's Hotel.
I'll give you the address before I leave."

I thanked him again. He was certainly trying to be kind. No doubt the
kindness was due to his sense of obligation engendered by what he called
my "professional information," but it was kindness all the same.

The first bugle for luncheon sounded. Mr. Heathcroft turned to go.

"I'll see you again, Knowles," he said, "and give you the hotel street
and number and all that. Hope you'll like it. If you shouldn't the
Langham is not bad--quiet and old-fashioned, but really very fair.
And if you care for something more public and--Ah--American, there are
always the Savoy and the Cecil. Here is my card. If I can be of any
service to you while you are in town drop me a line at my clubs, either
of them. I must be toddling. By, by."

He "toddled" and I sought my room to prepare for luncheon.

Two days more and our voyage was at an end. We saw more of our friend
the captain during those days and of Heathcroft as well. The former
fulfilled his promise of showing us through the ship, and Hephzy and I,
descending greasy iron stairways and twisting through narrow passages,
saw great rooms full of mighty machinery, and a cavern where perspiring,
grimy men, looking but half-human in the red light from the furnace
mouths, toiled ceaselessly with pokers and shovels.

We stood at the forward end of the promenade deck at night, looking out
into the blackness, and heard the clang of four bells from the shadows
at the bow, the answering clang from the crow's-nest on the foremast,
and the weird cry of "All's well" from the lookouts. This experience
made a great impression on us both. Hephzy expressed my feeling exactly
when she said in a hushed whisper:

"There, Hosy! for the first time I feel as if I really was on board a
ship at sea. My father and your father and all our men-folks for ever
so far back have heard that 'All's well'--yes, and called it, too,
when they first went as sailors. Just think of it! Why Father was only
sixteen when he shipped; just a boy, that's all. I've heard him say
'All's well' over and over again; 'twas a kind of byword with him. This
whole thing seems like somethin' callin' to me out of the past and gone.
Don't you feel it?"

I felt it, as she did. The black night, the quiet, the loneliness, the
salt spray on our faces and the wash of the waves alongside, the high
singsong wail from lookout to lookout--it WAS a voice from the past, the
call of generations of sea-beaten, weather-worn, brave old Cape Codders
to their descendants, reminding the latter of a dead and gone profession
and of thousands of fine, old ships which had plowed the ocean in the
days when "Plutonias" were unknown.

We attended the concert in the Lounge, and the ball on the promenade
deck which followed. Mr. Heathcroft, who seemed to have made the
acquaintance of most of the pretty girls on board, informed us in the
intervals between a two-step and a tango, that he had been "dancing
madly."

"You Americans are extraordinary people," he added. "Your dances are
as extraordinary as your food. That Mrs. Van Hook, who sits near me
at table, was indulging in--what do you call them?--oh, yes, griddle
cakes--this morning. Begged me to try them. I declined. Horrid things
they were. Round, like a--like a washing-flannel, and swimming in
treacle. Frightful!"

"And that man," commented Hephzy, "eats cold toast and strawberry
preserves for breakfast and washes 'em down with three cups of tea. And
he calls nice hot pancakes frightful!"

At ten o'clock in the morning of the sixth day we sighted the Irish
coast through the dripping haze which shrouded it and at four we dropped
anchor abreast the breakwater of the little Welsh village which was to
be our landing place. The sun was shining dimly by this time and the
rounded hills and the mountains beyond them, the green slopes dotted
with farms and checkered with hedges and stone walls, the gray stone
fort with its white-washed barrack buildings, the spires and chimneys
of the village in the hollow--all these combined to make a picture which
was homelike and yet not like home, foreign and yet strangely familiar.

We leaned over the rail and watched the trunks and boxes and bags and
bundles shoot down the slide into the baggage and mail-boat which lay
alongside. Hephzy was nervous.

"They'll smash everything to pieces--they surely will!" she declared.
"Either that or smash themselves, I don't know which is liable to happen
first. Mercy on us! Did you see that? That box hit the man right in the
back!"

"It didn't hurt him," I said, reassuringly. "It was nothing but a
hat-box."

"Hurt HIM--no! But I guess likely it didn't do the hat much good. I
thought baggage smashin' was an American institution, but they've got
some experts over here. Oh, my soul and body! there goes MY trunk--end
over end, of course. Well, I'm glad there's no eggs in it, anyway.
Josiah Dimick always used to carry two dozen eggs to his daughter-in-law
every time he went to Boston. He had 'em in a box once and put the box
on the seat alongside of him and a big fat woman came and sat--Oh! that
was your trunk, Hosy! Did you hear it hit? I expect every one of those
'English Poets' went from top to bottom then, right through all your
clothes. Never mind, I suppose it's all part of travelin'."

Mr. Heathcroft, looking more English than ever in his natty top coat,
and hat at the back of his head, sauntered up. He was, for him, almost
enthusiastic.

"Looking at the water, were you?" he queried. "Glorious color, isn't it.
One never sees a sea like that or a sky like that anywhere but here at
home."

Hephzy looked at the sea and sky. It was plain that she wished to
admire, for his sake, but her admiration was qualified.

"Don't you think if they were a little brighter and bluer they'd be
prettier?" she asked.

Heathcroft stared at her through his monocle.

"Bluer?" he repeated. "My dear woman, there are no skies as blue as the
English skies. They are quite celebrated--really."

He sauntered on again, evidently disgusted at our lack of appreciation.

"He must be color-blind," I observed. Hephzy was more charitable.

"I guess likely everybody's home things are best," she said. "I suppose
this green-streaked water and those gray clouds do look bright and blue
to him. We must make allowances, Hosy. He never saw an August mornin' at
Bayport, with a northwest wind blowin' and the bay white and blue to the
edge of all creation. That's been denied him. He means well, poor thing;
he don't know any better."

An hour later we landed from the passenger tender at a stone pier
covered with substantial stone buildings. Uniformed custom officers and
uniformed policemen stood in line as we came up the gang-plank. Behind
them, funny little locomotives attached to queer cars which appeared to
be all doors, puffed and panted.

Hephzibah looked about her.

"Yes," she said, with conviction. "I'm believin' it more and more all
the time. It is England, just like the pictures. How many times I've
seen engines like that in pictures, and cars like that, too. I never
thought I'd ride in 'em. My goodness me? Hephzibah Jane Cahoon, you're
in England--YOU are! You needn't be afraid to turn over for fear of
wakin' up, either. You're awake and alive and in England! Hosy," with a
sudden burst of exuberance, "hold on to me tight. I'm just as likely to
wave my hat and hurrah as I am to do anything. Hold on to me--tight."

We got through the perfunctory customs examination without trouble. Our
tickets provided by Campbell, included those for the railway journey to
London. I secured a first-class compartment at the booking-office and
a guard conducted us to it and closed the door. Another short delay and
then, with a whistle as queer and unfamiliar as its own appearance, the
little locomotive began to pull our train out of the station.

Hephzy leaned back against the cushions with a sigh of supreme content.

"And now," said I, "for London. London! think of it, Hephzy!"

Hephzy shook her head.

"I'm thinkin' of it," she said. "London--the biggest city in the world!
Who knows, Hosy? France is such a little ways off; probably Little Frank
has been to London a hundred times. He may even be there now. Who knows?
I shouldn't be surprised if we met him right in London. I sha'n't be
surprised at anything anymore. I'm in England and on my way to London;
that's surprise enough. NOTHIN' could be more wonderful than that."



CHAPTER VI

In Which We Are Received at Bancroft's Hotel and I Receive a Letter


It was late when we reached London, nearly eleven o'clock. The long
train journey was a delight. During the few hours of daylight and dusk
we peered through the car windows at the scenery flying past; at the
villages, the green fields, the hedges, the neat, trim farms.

"Everything looks as if it has been swept and dusted," declared Hephzy.
"There aren't any waste places at all. What do they do with their spare
land?"

"They haven't any," I answered. "Land is too valuable to waste. There's
another thatched roof. It looks like those in the pictures, doesn't it."

Hephzy nodded. "Just exactly," she said. "Everything looks like the
pictures. I feel as if I'd seen it all before. If that engine didn't
toot so much like a tin whistle I should almost think it was a picture.
But it isn't--it isn't; it's real, and you and I are part of it."

We dined on the train. Night came and our window-pictures changed
to glimpses of flashing lights interspersed with shadowy blotches of
darkness. At length the lights became more and more frequent and began
to string out in long lines marking suburban streets. Then the little
locomotive tooted its tin whistle frantically and we rolled slowly under
a great train shed--Paddington Station and London itself.

Amid the crowd on the platform Hephzy and I stood, two lone wanderers
not exactly sure what we should do next. About us the busy crowd jostled
and pushed. Relatives met relatives and fathers and mothers met sons and
daughters returning home after long separations. No one met us, no
one was interested in us at all, except the porters and the cabmen.
I selected a red-faced chunky porter who was a decidedly able person,
apparently capable of managing anything except the letter h. The
acrobatics which he performed with that defenceless consonant were
marvelous. I have said that I selected him; that he selected me would be
nearer the truth.

"Cab, sir. Yes, sir, thank you, sir," he said. "Leave that to me, sir.
Will you 'ave a fourwheeler or a hordinary cab, sir?"

I wasn't exactly certain what a fourwheeler might be. I had read about
them often enough, but I had never seen one pictured and properly
labeled. For the matter of that, all the vehicles in sight appeared to
have four wheels. So I said, at a venture, that I thought an ordinary
cab would do.

"Yes, sir; 'ere you are, sir. Your boxes are in the luggage van, I
suppose, sir."

I took it for granted he meant my trunks and those were in what I, in my
ignorance, would have called a baggage car:

"Yes, sir," said the porter. "If the lidy will be good enough to wait
'ere, sir, you and I will go hafter the boxes, sir."

Cautioning Hephzy not to stir from her moorings on any account I
followed my guide to the "luggage van." This crowded car disgorged
our two steamer trunks and, my particular porter having corraled a
fellow-craftsman to help him, the trunks were dragged to the waiting
cab.

I found Hephzy waiting, outwardly calm, but inwardly excited.

"I saw one at last," she declared. "I'd about come to believe there
wasn't such a thing, but there is; I just saw one."

"One--what?" I asked, puzzled.

"An Englishman with side-whiskers. They wasn't as big and long as those
in the pictures, but they were side-whiskers. I feel better. When you've
been brought up to believe every Englishman wore 'em, it was kind of
humiliatin' not to see one single set."

I paid my porters--I learned afterward that, like most Americans, I had
given them altogether too much--and we climbed into the cab with our
bags. The "boxes," or trunks, were on the driver's seat and on the roof.

"Where to, sir?" asked the driver.

I hesitated. Even at this late date I had not made up my mind exactly
"where to." My decision was a hasty one.

"Why--er--to--to Bancroft's Hotel," I said. "Blithe Street, just off
Piccadilly."

I think the driver was somewhat astonished. Very few of his American
passengers selected Bancroft's as a stopping place, I imagine. However,
his answer was prompt.

"Yes, sir, thank you, sir," he said. The cab rolled out of the station.

"I suppose," said Hephzy, reflectively, "if you had told him or that
porter man that they were everlastin' idiots they'd have thanked you
just the same and called you 'sir' four times besides."

"No doubt they would."

"Yes, sir, I'm perfectly sure they would--thank you, sir. So this is
London. It doesn't look such an awful lot different from Boston or New
York so far."

But Bancroft's, when we reached it, was as unlike a Boston or New
York hotel as anything could be. A short, quiet, eminently respectable
street, leading from Piccadilly; a street fenced in, on both sides, by
three-story, solid, eminently respectable houses of brick and stone. No
signs, no street cars, no crowds, no glaring lights. Merely a gas
lamp burning over the fanlight of a spotless white door, and the words
"Bancroft's Hotel" in mosaic lettering set in a white stone slab in the
pavement.

The cab pulled up before the white door and Hephzy and I looked out of
the window. The same thought was in both our minds.

"This can't be the place," said I.

"This isn't a hotel, is it, Hosy?" asked Hephzy.

The white door opened and a brisk, red-cheeked English boy in uniform
hastened to the cab. Before he reached it I had seen the lettering in
the pavement and knew that, in spite of appearances, we had reached our
destination.

"This is it, Hephzy," I said. "Come."

The boy opened the cab door and we alighted. Then in the doorway of
"Bancroft's" appeared a stout, red-faced and very dignified person, also
in uniform. This person wore short "mutton-chop" whiskers and had the
air of a member of the Royal Family; that is to say, the air which a
member of the Royal Family might be expected to have.

"Good evening, sir," said the personage, bowing respectfully. The bow
was a triumph in itself; not too low, not abject in the least, not
familiar; a bow which implied much, but promised nothing; a bow which
seemed to demand references, but was far from repellant or bullying.
Altogether a wonderful bow.

"Good evening," said I. "This is Bancroft's Hotel, is it not?"

"Yes, sir."

"I wish to secure rooms for this lady and myself, if possible."

"Yes, sir. This way, sir, if you please. Richard," this to the boy and
in a tone entirely different--the tone of a commanding officer to a
private--"see to the gentleman's luggage. This way, sir; thank you,
sir."

I hesitated. "The cabman has not been paid," I stammered. I was a trifle
overawed by the grandeur of the mutton-chops and the "sir."

"I will attend to that, sir. If you will be good enough to come in,
sir."

We entered and found ourselves in a narrow hall, old-fashioned, homelike
and as spotless as the white door. Two more uniforms bowed before us.

"Thank you, sir," said the member of the Royal Family. It was with
difficulty that I repressed the desire to tell him he was quite welcome.
His manner of thanking me seemed to imply that we had conferred a favor.

"I will speak to Mr. Jameson," he went on, with another bow. Then he
left us.

"Is--is that Mr. Bancroft?" whispered Hephzy.

I shook my head. "It must be the Prince of Wales, at least," I whispered
in return. "I infer that there is no Mr. Bancroft."

It developed that I was right. Mr. Jameson was the proprietor of the
hotel, and Mr. Jameson was a pleasant, refined, quiet man of middle age.
He appeared from somewhere or other, ascertained our wants, stated that
he had a few vacant rooms and could accommodate us.

"Do you wish a sitting-room?" he asked.

I was not sure. I wanted comfort, that I knew, and I said so. I
mentioned, as an afterthought, that Mr. Heathcroft had recommended
Bancroft's to me.

The Heathcroft name seemed to settle everything. Mr. Jameson summoned
the representative of royalty and spoke to him in a low tone. The
representative--his name, I learned later, was Henry and he was butler
and major-domo at Bancroft's--bowed once more. A few minutes later we
were shown to an apartment on the second floor front, a room large,
old-fashioned, furnished with easy-chairs, tables and a big, comfortable
sofa. Sofa and easy-chairs were covered with figured, glazed chintz.

"Your sitting-room, sir," said Henry. "Your bedrooms open hoff it, sir.
The chambermaid will 'ave them ready in a moment, sir. Richard and the
porter will bring up your luggage and the boxes. Will you and the lady
wish supper, sir? Thank you, sir. Very good, sir. Will you require a
fire, sir?"

The room was a trifle chilly. There was a small iron grate at its
end, and a coal fire ready to kindle. I answered that a fire might be
enjoyable.

"Yes, sir," said Henry. "Himmediately, sir."

Soon Hephzy and I were drinking hot tea and eating bread and butter and
plum cake before a snapping fire. George, the waiter, had brought us the
tea and accessories and set the table; the chambermaid had prepared the
bedrooms; Henry had supervised everything.

"Well," observed Hephzy, with a sigh of content, "I feel better
satisfied every minute. When we were in the hack--cab, I mean--I
couldn't realize we weren't ridin' through an American city. The houses
and sidewalks and everything--what I could see of 'em--looked so much
like Boston that I was sort of disappointed. I wanted it to be more
different, some way. But this IS different. This may be a hotel--I
suppose likely 'tis--but it don't seem like one, does it? If it wasn't
for the Henry and that Richard and that--what's his name? George--and
all the rest, I should think I was in Cap'n Cyrus Whittaker's
settin-room back home. The furniture looks like Cap'n Cy's and the
pictures look like those he has, and--and everything looks as stiff and
starched and old-fashioned as can be. But the Cap'n never had a Henry.
No, sirree, Henry don't belong on Cape Cod! Hosy," with a sudden burst
of confidence, "it's a good thing I saw that Lord Erskine first. If I
hadn't found out what a live lord looked like I'd have thought Henry
was one sure. Do you really think it's right for me to call him by his
Christian name? It seems sort of--sort of irreverent, somehow."

I wish it were possible for me to describe in detail our first days at
Bancroft's. If it were not for the fact that so many really important
events and happenings remain to be described--if it were not that the
most momentous event of my life, the event that was the beginning of the
great change in that life--if that event were not so close at hand, I
should be tempted to linger upon those first few days. They were strange
and wonderful and funny to Hephzibah and me. The strangeness and the
wonder wore off gradually; the fun still sticks in my memory.

To have one's bedroom invaded at an early hour by a chambermaid who,
apparently quite oblivious of the fact that the bed was still occupied
by a male, proceeded to draw the curtains, bring the hot water and fill
the tin tub for my bath, was astonishing and funny enough, Hephzibah's
comments on the proceeding were funnier still.

"Do you mean to tell me," she demanded, "that that hussy was brazen
enough to march right in here before you got up?"

"Yes," I said. "I am only thankful that I HADN'T got up."

"Well! I must say! Did she fetch the water in a garden waterin'-pot,
same as she did to me?"

"Just the same."

"And did she pour it into that--that flat dishpan on the floor and tell
you your 'bawth' was ready?"

"She did."

"Humph! Of all the--I hope she cleared out THEN?"

"She did."

"That's a mercy, anyhow. Did you take a bath in that dishpan?"

"I tried."

"Well, I didn't. I'd as soon try to bathe in a saucer. I'd have felt as
if I'd needed a teaspoon to dip up the half pint of water and pour
it over me. Don't these English folks have real bathtubs for grown-up
people?"

I did not know, then. Later I learned that Bancroft's Hotel possessed
several bathrooms, and that I might use one if I preferred. Being an
American I did so prefer. Most of the guests, being English, preferred
the "dishpans."

We learned to accept the early morning visits of the chambermaid as
matters of course. We learned to order breakfast the night before and
to eat it in our sitting-room. We tasted a "grilled sole" for the
first time, and although Hephzy persisted in referring to it as "fried
flatfish" we liked the taste. We became accustomed to being waited upon,
to do next to nothing for ourselves, and I found that a valet who
laid out my evening clothes, put the studs in my shirts, selected my
neckties, and saw that my shoes were polished, was a rather convenient
person to have about. Hephzy fumed a good deal at first; she declared
that she felt ashamed, an able-bodied woman like her, to sit around
with her hands folded and do nothing. She asked her maid a great many
questions, and the answers she received explained some of her puzzles.

"Do you know what that poor thing gets a week?" she observed, referring
to the maid. "Eight shillin's--two dollars a week, that's what she gets.
And your valet man doesn't get any more. I can see now how Mr. Jameson
can afford to keep so much help at the board he charges. I pay that
Susanna Wixon thing at Bayport three dollars and she doesn't know enough
to boil water without burnin' it on, scarcely. And Peters--why in the
world do they call women by their last names?--Peters, she's the maid,
says it's a real nice place and she's quite satisfied. Well, where
ignorance is bliss it's foolish to be sensible, I suppose; but _I_
wouldn't fetch and carry for the President's wife, to say nothin' of an
everyday body like me, for two dollars a week."

We learned that the hotel dining-room was a "Coffee Room."

"Nobody with sense would take coffee there--not more'n once, they
wouldn't," declared Hephzy. "I asked Peters why they didn't call it the
'Tea Room' and be done with it. She said because it was the Coffee Room.
I suppose likely that was an answer, but I felt a good deal as if I'd
come out of the same hole I went in at. She thanked me for askin' her,
though; she never forgets that."

We became accustomed to addressing the lordly Henry by his Christian
name and found him a most obliging person. He, like everyone else,
had instantly recognized us as Americans, and, consequently, was
condescendingly kind to strangers from a distant and barbarous country.

"What SORT of place do they think the States are?" asked Hephzy. "That's
what they always call home--'the States'--and they seem to think it's
about as big as a pocket handkerchief. That Henry asked me if the red
Indians were numerous where we lived. I said no--as soon as I could say
anything; I told him there was only one tribe of Red Men in town and
they were white. I guess he thought I was crazy, but it don't make any
difference. And Peters said she had a cousin in a place called Chicago
and did I know him. What do you think of that?"

"What did you tell her?" I inquired.

"Hey? Oh, I told her that, bein' as Chicago was a thousand miles from
Bayport, I hadn't had time to do much visitin' there. I told her the
truth, but she didn't believe it. I could see she didn't. She thinks
Chicago and San Francisco and New York and Boston are nests of wigwams
in the same patch of woods and all hands that live there have been
scalped at least once. SUCH ignorance!"

Henry, at my request, procured seats for us at one of the London
theaters. There we saw a good play, splendidly acted, and Hephzy laughed
and wept at the performance. As usual, however, she had a characteristic
comment to make.

"Why do they call the front seats the 'stalls'?" she whispered to me
between the acts. "Stalls! The idea! I'm no horse. Perhaps they call 'em
that because folks are donkeys enough to pay two dollars and a half
for the privilege of sittin' in 'em. Don't YOU be so extravagant again,
Hosy."

One of the characters in the play was supposed to be an American
gentleman, and his behavior and dress and speech stirred me to
indignation. I asked the question which every American asks under
similar circumstances.

"Why on earth," I demanded, "do they permit that fellow to make such
a fool of himself? He yells and drawls and whines through his nose and
wears clothes which would make an American cry. That last scene was
supposed to be a reception and he wore an outing suit and no waistcoat.
Do they suppose such a fellow would be tolerated in respectable society
in the United States?"

And now it was Hephzy's turn to be philosophical.

"I guess likely the answer to that is simple enough," she said. "He's
what they think an American ought to be, even if he isn't. If he behaved
like a human bein' he wouldn't be the kind of American they expect on
the stage. After all, he isn't any worse than the Englishmen we have in
the Dramatic Society's plays at home. I haven't seen one of that kind
since I got here; and I've given up expectin' to--unless you and I go to
some crazy asylum--which isn't likely."

We rode on the tops of busses, we visited the Tower, and Westminster
Abbey, and Saint Paul's. We saw the Horse Guard sentinels on duty in
Whitehall, and watched the ceremony of guard changing at St. James's.
Hephzy was impressed, in her own way, by the uniforms of the "Cold
Streams."

"There!" she exclaimed, "I've seen 'em walk. Now I feel better. When
they stood there, with those red jackets and with the fur hats on their
heads, I couldn't make myself believe they hadn't been taken out of a
box for children to play with. I wanted to get up close so as to see if
their feet were glued to round pieces of wood like Noah's and Ham's and
Japhet's in the Ark. But they aren't wood, they're alive. They're men,
not toys. I'm glad I've seen 'em. THEY are satisfyin'. They make me more
reconciled to a King with a Derby hat on."

She and I had stood in the crowd fringing the park mall and seen King
George trot by on horseback. His Majesty's lack of crown and robes and
scepter had been a great disappointment to Hephzy; I think she expected
the crown at least.

I had, of course, visited the London office of my publishers, in Camford
Street and had found Mr. Matthews, the manager, expecting me. Jim
Campbell had cabled and written of my coming and Matthews' welcome was a
warm one. He was kindness itself. All my financial responsibilities were
to be shifted to his shoulders. I was to use the office as a bank, as a
tourist agency, even as a guide's headquarters. He put his clerks at my
disposal; they would conduct us on sight-seeing expeditions whenever
and wherever we wished. He even made out a list of places in and about
London which we, as strangers, should see.

His cordiality and thoughtfulness were appreciated. They made me feel
less alone and less dependent upon my own resources. Campbell had
arranged that all letters addressed to me in America should be forwarded
to the Camford Street office, and Matthews insisted that I should write
my own letters there. I began to make it a practice to drop in at
the office almost every morning before starting on the day's round of
sight-seeing.

Bancroft's Hotel also began to seem less strange and more homelike.
Mr. Jameson, the proprietor, was a fine fellow--quiet, refined, and
pleasant. He, too, tried to help us in every possible way. His wife, a
sweet-faced Englishwoman, made Hephzy's acquaintance and Hephzy liked
her extremely.

"She's as nice as she can be," declared Hephzy. "If it wasn't that she
says 'Fancy!' and 'Really!' instead of 'My gracious!' and 'I want to
know!' I should think I was talking to a Cape Codder, the best kind
of one. She's got sense, too. SHE don't ask about 'red Indians' in
Bayport."

Among the multitude of our new experiences we learned the value of
a judicious "tip." We had learned something concerning tips on the
"Plutonia"; Campbell had coached us concerning those, and we were
provided with a schedule of rates--so much to the bedroom steward, so
much to the stewardess, to the deck steward, to the "boots," and all the
rest. But tipping in London we were obliged to adjust for ourselves, and
the result of our education was surprising.

At Saint Paul's an elderly and impressively haughty person in a black
robe showed us through the Crypt and delivered learned lectures before
the tombs of Nelson and Wellington. His appearance and manner were
somewhat awe-inspiring, especially to Hephzy, who asked me, in a
whisper, if I thought likely he was a bishop or a canon or something.
When the round was ended and we were leaving the Crypt she saw me put a
hand in my pocket.

"Mercy sakes, Hosy," she whispered. "You aren't goin' to offer him
money, are you? He'll be insulted. I'd as soon think of givin' Mr.
Partridge, our minister, money for takin' us to the cemetery to see the
first settlers' gravestones. Don't you do it. He'll throw it back at
you. I'll be so ashamed."

But I had been watching our fellow-sight-seers as they filed out,
and when our time came I dropped two shillings in the hand of the
black-robed dignitary. The hand did not spurn the coins, which I--rather
timidly, I confess--dropped into it. Instead it closed upon them tightly
and the haughty lips thanked me, not profusely, not even smilingly, but
thanked me, nevertheless.

At our visit to the Law Courts a similar experience awaited us. Another
dignified and elderly person, who, judging by his appearance, should
have been a judge at least, not only accepted the shilling I gave him,
but bowed, smiled and offered to conduct us to the divorce court.

"A very interesting case there, sir, just now," he murmured,
confidingly. "Very interesting and sensational indeed, sir. You and the
lady will enjoy it, I'm sure, sir. All Americans do."

Hephzy was indignant.

"Well!" she exclaimed, as we emerged upon the Strand. "Well! I must say!
What sort of folks does he think we are, I'd like to know. Divorce
case! I'd be ashamed to hear one. And that old man bein' so wicked and
ridiculous for twenty-five cents! Hosy, I do believe if you'd given him
another shillin' he'd have introduced us to that man in the red robe and
cotton wool wig--What did he call him?--Oh, yes, the Lord Chief Justice.
And I suppose you'd have had to tip HIM, too."

The first two weeks of our stay in London came to an end. Our plans were
still as indefinite as ever. How long we should stay, where we should go
next, what we should do when we decided where that "next" was to be--all
these questions we had not considered at all. I, for my part, was
curiously uninterested in the future. I was enjoying myself in an idle,
irresponsible way, and I could not seem to concentrate my thoughts upon
a definite course of action. If I did permit myself to think I found my
thoughts straying to my work and there they faced the same impassable
wall. I felt no inclination to write; I was just as certain as ever that
I should never write again. Thinking along this line only brought back
the old feeling of despondency. So I refused to think and, taking Jim's
advice, put work and responsibility from my mind. We would remain in
London as long as we were contented there. When the spirit moved we
would move with it--somewhere--either about England or to the Continent.
I did not know which and I did not care; I did not seem to care much
about anything.

Hephzy was perfectly happy. London to her was as wonderful as ever. She
never tired of sight-seeing, and on occasions when I felt disinclined
to leave the hotel she went out alone, shopping or wandering about the
streets.

She scarcely mentioned "Little Frank" and I took care not to remind her
of that mythical youth. I had expected her to see him on every street
corner, to be brought face to face with unsuspecting young Englishmen
and made to ask ridiculous questions which might lead to our being taken
in charge as a pair of demented foreigners. But my forebodings were not
realized. London was so huge and the crowds so great that even Hephzy's
courage faltered. To select Little Frank from the multitude was a task
too great, even for her, I imagine. At any rate, she did not make the
attempt, and the belief that we were "sent" upon our pilgrimage for that
express purpose she had not expressed since our evening on the train.

The third week passed. I was growing tired of trotting about. Not tired
of London in particular. The gray, dingy, historic, wonderful old city
was still fascinating. It is hard to conceive of an intelligent person's
ever growing weary of the narrow streets with the familiar names--Fleet
Street, Fetter Lane, Pudding Lane and all the rest--names as familiar
to a reader of history or English fiction as that of his own town. To
wander into an unknown street and to learn that it is Shoreditch, or to
look up at an ancient building and discover it to be the Charterhouse,
were ever fresh miracles to me, as I am sure they must be to every
book-loving American. No, I was not tired of London. Had I come there
under other circumstances I should have been as happy and content
as Hephzy herself. But, now that the novelty was wearing off, I was
beginning to think again, to think of myself--the very thing I had
determined, and still meant, not to do.

One afternoon I drifted into the Camford Street office. Hephzy had left
me at Piccadilly Circus and was now, it was safe to presume, enjoying a
delightful sojourn amid the shops of Regent and Oxford Streets. When she
returned she would have a half-dozen purchases to display, a two-and-six
glove bargain from Robinson's, a bit of lace from Selfridge's, a
knick-knack from Liberty's--"All so MUCH cheaper than you can get 'em in
Boston, Hosy." She would have had a glorious time.

Matthews, the manager at Camford Street, was out, but Holton, the head
clerk--I was learning to speak of him as a "clark"--was in.

"There are some American letters for you, sir," he said. "I was about to
send them to your hotel."

He gave me the letters--four of them altogether--and I went into the
private office to look them over. My first batch of mail from home;
it gave me a small thrill to see two-cent stamps in the corners of the
envelopes.

One of the letters was from Campbell. I opened it first of all. Jim
wrote a rambling, good-humored letter, a mixture of business, news,
advice and nonsense. "The Black Brig" had gone into another edition.
Considering my opinion of such "slush" I should be ashamed to accept
the royalties, but he would continue to give my account credit for them
until I cabled to the contrary. He trusted we were behaving ourselves in
a manner which would reflect credit upon our country. I was to be sure
not to let Hephzy marry a title. And so on, for six pages. The letter
was almost like a chat with Jim himself, and I read it with chuckles and
a pang of homesickness.

One of the envelopes bore Hephzy's name and I, of course, did not
open it. It was postmarked "Bayport" and I thought I recognized the
handwriting as Susanna Wixon's. The third letter turned out to be not
a letter at all, but a bill from Sylvanus Cahoon, who took care of our
"lots" in the Bayport cemetery. It had been my intention to pay all
bills before leaving home, but, somehow or other, Sylvanus's had been
overlooked. I must send him a check at once.

The fourth and last envelope was stained and crumpled. It had traveled
a long way. To my surprise I noticed that the stamp in the corner was
English and the postmark "London." The address, moreover, was "Captain
Barnabas Cahoon, Bayport, Massachusetts, U. S. A." The letter had
obviously been mailed in London, had journeyed to Bayport, from there
to New York, and had then been forwarded to London again. Someone,
presumably Simmons, the postmaster, had written "Care Hosea Knowles"
and my publisher's New York address in the lower corner. This had been
scratched out and "28 Camford Street, London, England," added.

I looked at the envelope. Who in the world, or in England, could have
written Captain Barnabas--Captain Barnabas Cahoon, my great-uncle, dead
so many years? At first I was inclined to hand the letter, unopened, to
Hephzy. She was Captain Barnabas's daughter and it belonged to her
by right. But I knew Hephzy had no secrets from me and, besides,
my curiosity was great. At length I yielded to it and tore open the
envelope.

Inside was a sheet of thin foreign paper, both sides covered with
writing. I read the first line.


"Captain Barnabas Cahoon.

"Sir:

"You are my nearest relative, my mother's father, and I--"

"I uttered an exclamation. Then I stepped to the door of the private
office, made sure that it was shut, came back, sat down in the chair
before the desk which Mr. Matthews had put at my disposal, and read the
letter from beginning to end. This is what I read:


"Captain Barnabas Cahoon.

"Sir:

"You are my nearest relative, my mother's father, and I, therefore,
address this letter to you. I know little concerning you. I do not know
even that you are still living in Bayport, or that you are living at
all. (N.B. In case Captain Cahoon is not living this letter is to be
read and acted upon by his heirs, upon whose estate I have an equal
claim.) My mother, Ardelia Cahoon Morley, died in Liverpool in 1896. My
father, Strickland Morley, died in Paris in December, 1908. I, as their
only child, am their heir, and I am writing to you asking what I might
demand--that is, a portion of the money which was my mother's and which
you kept from her and from my father all these years. My father told me
the whole story before he died, and he also told me that he had written
you several times, but that his letters had been ignored. My father was
an English gentleman and he was proud; that is why he did not take legal
steps against you for the recovery of what was his by law in England
OR ANY CIVILISED COUNTRY, one may presume. He would not STOOP to
such measures even against those who, as you know well, so meanly and
fraudulently deprived him and his of their inheritance. He is dead
now. He died lacking the comforts and luxuries with which you might
and SHOULD have provided him. His forbearance was wonderful and
characteristic, but had I known of it sooner I should have insisted
upon demanding from you the money which was his. I am now demanding it
myself. Not BEGGING; that I wish THOROUGHLY understood. I am giving you
the opportunity to make a partial restitution, that is all. It is what
he would have wished, and his wish ALONE prevents my putting the whole
matter in my solicitor's hands. If I do not hear from you within a
reasonable time I shall know what to do. You may address me care Mrs.
Briggs, 218 ---- Street, London, England.

"Awaiting your reply, I am, sir,

"Yours,

"FRANCIS STRICKLAND MORLEY.

"P. S.

"I am not to be considered under ANY circumstances a subject for
charity. I am NOT begging. You, I am given to understand, are a wealthy
man. I demand my share of that wealth--that is all."


I read this amazing epistle through once. Then, after rising and walking
about the office to make sure that I was thoroughly awake, I sat down
and read it again. There was no mistake. I had read it correctly. The
writing was somewhat illegible in spots and the signature was blotted,
but it was from Francis Strickland Morley. From "Little Frank!" I think
my first and greatest sensation was of tremendous surprise that there
really was a "Little Frank." Hephzy had been right. Once more I should
have to take off my hat to Hephzy.

The surprise remained, but other sensations came to keep it company. The
extraordinary fact of the letter's reaching me when and where it did,
in London, the city from which it was written and where, doubtless, the
writer still was. If I chose I might, perhaps, that very afternoon, meet
and talk with Ardelia Cahoon's son, with "Little Frank" himself. I could
scarcely realize it. Hephzy had declared that our coming to London was
the result of a special dispensation--we had been "sent" there. In the
face of this miracle I was not disposed to contradict her.

The letter itself was more extraordinary than all else. It was that of
a young person, of a hot-headed boy. But WHAT a boy he must be! What an
unlicked, impudent, arrogant young cub! The boyishness was evident in
every line, in the underscored words, the pitiful attempt at dignity and
the silly veiled threats. He was so insistent upon the statement that he
was not a beggar. And yet he could write a begging letter like this. He
did not ask for charity, not he, he demanded it. Demanded it--he, the
son of a thief, demanded, from those whom his father had robbed, his
"rights." He should have his rights; I would see to that.

I was angry enough but, as I read the letter for the third time, the
pitifulness of it became more apparent. I imagined Francis Strickland
Morley to be the replica of the Strickland Morley whom I remembered, the
useless, incompetent, inadequate son of a good-for-nothing father. No
doubt the father was responsible for such a letter as this having been
written. Doubtless he HAD told the boy all sorts of tales; perhaps he
HAD declared himself to be the defrauded instead of the defrauder; he
was quite capable of it. Possibly the youngster did believe he had a
claim upon the wealthy relatives in that "uncivilized" country, America.
The wealthy relatives! I thought of Captain Barnabas's last years, of
Hephzibah's plucky fight against poverty, of my own lost opportunities,
of the college course which I had been obliged to forego. My indignation
returned. I would not go back at once to Hephzy with the letter. I
would, myself, seek out the writer of that letter, and, if I found him,
he and I would have a heart to heart talk which should disabuse his mind
of a few illusions. We would have a full and complete understanding.

I hastily made a memorandum of the address, "Care Mrs. Briggs," thrust
the letter back into the envelope, put it and my other mail into my
pocket, and walked out into the main office. Holton, the clerk, looked
up from his desk. Probably my feelings showed in my face, for he said:

"What is it, Mr. Knowles? No bad news, I trust, sir."

"No," I answered, shortly. "Where is ---- Street? Is it far from here?"

It was rather far from there, in Camberwell, on the Surrey side of the
river. I might take a bus at such a corner and change again at so and
so. It sounded like a journey and I was impatient. I suggested that I
might take a cab. Certainly I could do that. William, the boy, would
call a cab at once.

William did so and I gave the driver the address from my memoranda.
Through the Strand I was whirled, across Blackfriars Bridge and on
through the intricate web of avenues and streets on the Surrey side. The
locality did not impress me favorably. There was an abundance of "pubs"
and of fried-fish shops where "jellied eels" seemed to be a viand much
in demand.

---- Street, when I reached it, was dingy and third rate. Three-storied
old brick houses, with shops on their first floors, predominated. Number
218 was one of these. The signs "Lodgings" over the tarnished bell-pull
and the name "Briggs" on the plate beside it proved that I had located
the house from which the letter had been sent.

I paid my cabman, dismissed him, and rang the bell. A slouchy
maid-servant answered the ring.

"Is Mr. Francis Morley in?" I asked.

The maid looked at me.

"Wat, sir?" she said.

"Does Mr. Francis Morley live here?" I asked, raising my voice. "Is he
in?"

The maid's face was as wooden as the door-post. Her mouth, already open,
opened still wider and she continued to stare. A step sounded in the
dark hall behind her and another voice said, sharply:

"'Oo is it, 'Arriet? And w'at does 'e want?"

The maid grinned. "'E wants to see MISTER Morley, ma'am," she said, with
a giggle.

She was pushed aside and a red-faced woman, with thin lips and scowl,
took her place.

"'OO do you want to see?" she demanded.

"Francis Morley. Does he live here?"

"'OO?"

"Francis Morley." My answer was sharp enough this time. I began to think
I had invaded a colony of imbeciles--or owls; their conversation seemed
limited to "oos."

"W'at do you want to see--to see Morley for?" demanded the red-faced
female.

"On business. Is Mrs. Briggs in?"

"I'm Mrs. Briggs."

"Good! I'm glad of that. Now will you tell me if Mr. Morley is in?"

"There ain't no Mr. Morley. There's a--"

She was interrupted. From the hall, apparently from the top of the
flight of stairs, another was heard, a feminine voice like the others,
but unlike them--decidedly unlike.

"Who is it, Mrs. Briggs?" said this voice. "Does the gentleman wish to
see me?"

"No, 'e don't," declared Mrs. Briggs, with emphasis. "'E wants to see
Mister Morley and I'm telling 'im there ain't none such."

"But are you sure he doesn't mean Miss Morley? Ask him, please."

Before the Briggs woman could reply I spoke again.

"I want to see a Francis Morley," I repeated, loudly. "I have come here
in answer to a letter. The letter gave this as his address. If he isn't
here, will you be good enough to tell me where he is? I--"

There was another interruption, an exclamation from the darkness behind
Mrs. Briggs and the maid.

"Oh!" said the third voice, with a little catch in it. "Who is it,
please? Who is it? What is the person's name?"

Mrs. Briggs scowled at me.

"Wat's your name?" she snapped.

"My name is Knowles. I am an American relative of Mr. Morley's and I'm
here in answer to a letter written by Mr. Morley himself."

There was a moment's silence. Then the third voice said:

"Ask--ask him to come up. Show him up, Mrs. Briggs, if you please."

Mrs. Briggs grunted and stepped aside. I entered the hall.

"First floor back," mumbled the landlady. "Straight as you go. You won't
need any showin'."

I mounted the stairs. The landing at the top was dark, but the door
at the rear was ajar. I knocked. A voice, the same voice I had heard
before, bade me come in. I entered the room.

It was a dingy little room, sparely furnished, with a bed and two
chairs, a dilapidated washstand and a battered bureau. I noticed these
afterwards. Just then my attention was centered upon the occupant of the
room, a young woman, scarcely more than a girl, dark-haired, dark-eyed,
slender and graceful. She was standing by the bureau, resting one hand
upon it, and gazing at me, with a strange expression, a curious compound
of fright, surprise and defiance. She did not speak. I was embarrassed.

"I beg your pardon," I stammered. "I am afraid there is some mistake.
I came here in answer to a letter written by a Francis Morley, who
is--well, I suppose he is a distant relative of mine."

She stepped forward and closed the door by which I had entered. Then she
turned and faced me.

"You are an American," she said.

"Yes, I am an American. I--"

She interrupted me.

"Do you--do you come from--from Bayport, Massachusetts?" she faltered.

I stared at her. "Why, yes," I admitted. "I do come from Bayport. How in
the world did you--"

"Was the letter you speak of addressed to Captain Barnabas Cahoon?"

"Yes."

"Then--then there isn't any mistake. I wrote it."

I imagine that my mouth opened as wide as the maid's had done.

"You!" I exclaimed. "Why--why--it was written by Francis Morley--Francis
Strickland Morley."

"I am Frances Strickland Morley."

I heard this, of course, but I did not comprehend it. I had been working
along the lines of a fixed idea. Now that idea had been knocked into a
cocked hat, and my intellect had been knocked with it.

"Why--why, no," I repeated, stupidly. "Francis Morley is the son of
Strickland Morley."

"There was no son," impatiently. "I am Frances Morley, I tell you. I am
Strickland Morley's daughter. I wrote that letter."

I sat down upon the nearest of the two chairs. I was obliged to sit.
I could not stand and face the fact which, at least, even my benumbed
brain was beginning to comprehend. The mistake was a simple one, merely
the difference between an "i" and an "e" in a name, that was all.
And yet that mistake--that slight difference between "Francis" and
"Frances"--explained the amazing difference between the Little Frank of
Hephzibah's fancy and the reality before me.

The real Little Frank was a girl.



CHAPTER VII

In Which a Dream Becomes a Reality


I said nothing immediately. I could not. It was "Little Frank" who
resumed the conversation. "Who are you?" she asked.

"Who--I beg your pardon? I am rather upset, I'm afraid. I didn't
expect--that is, I expected.... Well, I didn't expect THIS! What was it
you asked me?"

"I asked you who you were."

"My name is Knowles--Kent Knowles. I am Captain Cahoon's grand-nephew."

"His grand-nephew. Then--Did Captain Cahoon send you to me?"

"Send me! I beg your pardon once more. No.... No. Captain Cahoon is
dead. He has been dead nearly ten years. No one sent me."

"Then why did you come? You have my letter; you said so."

"Yes; I--I have your letter. I received it about an hour ago. It was
forwarded to me--to my cousin and me--here in London."

"Here in London! Then you did not come to London in answer to that
letter?"

"No. My cousin and I--"

"What cousin? What is his name?"

"His name? It isn't a--That is, the cousin is a woman. She is Miss
Hephzibah Cahoon, your--your mother's half-sister. She is--Why, she is
your aunt!"

It was a fact; Hephzibah was this young lady's aunt. I don't know why
that seemed so impossible and ridiculous, but it did. The young lady
herself seemed to find it so.

"My aunt?" she repeated. "I didn't know--But--but, why is my--my aunt
here with you?"

"We are on a pleasure trip. We--I beg your pardon. What have I been
thinking of? Don't stand. Please sit down."

She accepted the invitation. As she walked toward the chair it seemed to
me that she staggered a little. I noticed then for the first time, how
very slender she was, almost emaciated. There were dark hollows beneath
her eyes and her face was as white as the bed-linen--No, I am wrong; it
was whiter than Mrs. Briggs' bed-linen.

"Are you ill?" I asked involuntarily.

She did not answer. She seated herself in the chair and fixed her dark
eyes upon me. They were large eyes and very dark. Hephzy said, when
she first saw them, that they looked like "burnt holes in a blanket."
Perhaps they did; that simile did not occur to me.

"You have read my letter?" she asked.

It was evident that I must have read the letter or I should not have
learned where to find her, but I did not call attention to this. I said
simply that I had read the letter.

"Then what do you propose?" she asked.

"Propose?"

"Yes," impatiently. "What proposition do you make me? If you have read
the letter you must know what I mean. You must have come here for the
purpose of saying something, of making some offer. What is it?"

I was speechless. I had come there to find an impudent young blackguard
and tell him what I thought of him. That was as near a definite reason
for my coming as any. If I had not acted upon impulse, if I had stopped
to consider, it is quite likely that I should not have come at all. But
the blackguard was--was--well, he was not and never had been. In his
place was this white-faced, frail girl. I couldn't tell her what I
thought of her. I didn't know what to think.

She waited for me to answer and, as I continued to play the dumb idiot,
her impatience grew. Her brows--very dark brown they were, almost black
against the pallor of her face--drew together and her foot began to pat
the faded carpet. "I am waiting," she said.

I realized that I must say something, so I said the only thing which
occurred to me. It was a question.

"Your father is dead?" I asked.

She nodded. "My letter told you that," she answered. "He died in Paris
three years ago."

"And--and had he no relatives here in England?"

She hesitated before replying. "No near relatives whom he cared to
recognize," she answered haughtily. "My father, Mr. Knowles was a
gentleman and, having been most unjustly treated by his own family,
as well as by OTHERS"--with a marked emphasis on the word--"he did not
stoop, even in his illness and distress, to beg where he should have
commanded."

"Oh! Oh, I see," I said, feebly.

"There is no reason why you should see. My father was the second son
and--But this is quite irrelevant. You, an American, can scarcely be
expected to understand English family customs. It is sufficient that,
for reasons of his own, my father had for years been estranged from his
own people."

The air with which this was delivered was quite overwhelming. If I had
not known Strickland Morley, and a little of his history, I should have
been crushed.

"Then you have been quite alone since his death?" I asked.

Again she hesitated. "For a time," she said, after a moment. "I lived
with a married cousin of his in one of the London suburbs. Then I--But
really, Mr. Knowles, I cannot see that my private affairs need interest
you. As I understand it, this interview of ours is quite impersonal, in
a sense. You understand, of course--you must understand--that in writing
as I did I was not seeking the acquaintance of my mother's relatives. I
do not desire their friendship. I am not asking them for anything. I am
giving them the opportunity to do justice, to give me what is my own--my
OWN. If you don't understand this I--I--Oh, you MUST understand it!"

She rose from the chair. Her eyes were flashing and she was trembling
from head to foot. Again I realized how weak and frail she was.

"You must understand," she repeated. "You MUST!"

"Yes, yes," I said hastily. "I think I--I suppose I understand your
feelings. But--"

"There are no buts. Don't pretend there are. Do you think for one
instant that I am begging, asking you for HELP? YOU--of all the world!"

This seemed personal enough, in spite of her protestations.

"But you never met me before," I said, involuntarily.

"You never knew of my existence."

She stamped her foot. "I knew of my American relatives," she cried,
scornfully. "I knew of them and their--Oh, I cannot say the word!"

"Your father told you--" I began. She burst out at me like a flame.

"My father," she declared, "was a brave, kind, noble man. Don't mention
his name to me. I won't have you speak of him. If it were not for his
forbearance and self-sacrifice you--all of you--would be--would be--Oh,
don't speak of my father! Don't!"

To my amazement and utter discomfort she sank into the chair and burst
into tears. I was completely demoralized.

"Don't, Miss Morley," I begged. "Please don't."

She continued to sob hysterically. To make matters worse sounds from
behind the closed door led me to think that someone--presumably that
confounded Mrs. Briggs--was listening at the keyhole.

"Don't, Miss Morley," I pleaded. "Don't!"

My pleas were unavailing. The young lady sobbed and sobbed. I fidgeted
on the edge of my chair in an agony of mortified embarrassment. "Don'ts"
were quite useless and I could think of nothing else to say except
"Compose yourself" and that, somehow or other, was too ridiculously
reminiscent of Mr. Pickwick and Mrs. Bardell. It was an idiotic
situation for me to be in. Some men--men of experience with
woman-kind--might have known how to handle it, but I had had no such
experience. It was all my fault, of course; I should not have mentioned
her father. But how was I to know that Strickland Morley was a
persecuted saint? I should have called him everything but that.

At last I had an inspiration.

"You are ill," I said, rising. "I will call someone."

That had the desired effect. My newly found third--or was it fourth or
fifth--cousin made a move in protest. She fought down her emotion, her
sobs ceased, and she leaned back in her chair looking paler and weaker
than ever. I should have pitied her if she had not been so superior and
insultingly scornful in her manner toward me. I--Well, yes, I did pity
her, even as it was.

"Don't," she said, in her turn. "Don't call anyone. I am not ill--not
now."

"But you have been," I put in, I don't know why.

"I have not been well for some time. But I am not ill. I am quite strong
enough to hear what you have to say."

This might have been satisfactory if I had had anything to say. I had
not. She evidently expected me to express repentance for something or
other and make some sort of proposition. I was not repentant and I had
no proposition to make. But how was I to tell her that without bringing
on another storm? Oh, if I had had time to consider. If I had not come
alone. If Hephzy,--cool-headed, sensible Hephzy--were only with me.

"I--I--" I began. Then desperately: "I scarcely know what to say, Miss
Morley," I faltered. "I came here, as I told you, expecting to find
a--a--"

"What, pray?" with a haughty lift of the dark eyebrows. "What did you
expect to find, may I ask?"

"Nothing--that is, I--Well, never mind that. I came on the spur of the
moment, immediately after receiving your letter. I have had no time to
think, to consult my--your aunt--"

"What has my--AUNT" with withering emphasis, "to do with it? Why should
you consult her?"

"Well, she is your mother's nearest relative, I suppose. She is Captain
Cahoon's daughter and at least as much interested as I. I must consult
her, of course. But, frankly, Miss Morley, I think I ought to tell you
that you are under a misapprehension. There are matters which you don't
understand."

"I understand everything. I understand only too well. What do you mean
by a misapprehension? Do you mean--do you dare to insinuate that my
father did not tell me the truth?"

"Oh, no, no," I interrupted. That was exactly what I did mean, but I was
not going to let the shade of the departed Strickland appear again until
I was out of that room and house. "I am not insinuating anything."

"I am very glad to hear it. I wish you to know that I perfectly
understand EVERYTHING."

That seemed to settle it; at any rate it settled me for the time. I took
up my hat.

"Miss Morley," I said, "I can't discuss this matter further just now. I
must consult my cousin first. She and I will call upon you to-morrow at
any hour you may name."

She was disappointed; that was plain. I thought for the moment that
she was going to break down again. But she did not; she controlled her
feelings and faced me firmly and pluckily.

"At nine--no, at ten to-morrow, then," she said. "I shall expect your
final answer then."

"Very well."

"You will come? Of course; I am forgetting. You said you would."

"We will be here at ten. Here is my address."

I gave her my card, scribbling the street and number of Bancroft's in
pencil in the corner. She took the card.

"Thank you. Good afternoon," she said.

I said "Good afternoon" and opened the door. The hall outside was empty,
but someone was descending the stairs in a great hurry. I descended
also. At the top step I glanced once more into the room I had just left.
Frances Strickland Morley--Little Frank--was seated in the chair, one
hand before her eyes. Her attitude expressed complete weariness and
utter collapse. She had said she was not sick, but she looked sick--she
did indeed.

Harriet, the slouchy maid, was not in evidence, so I opened the street
door for myself. As I reached the sidewalk--I suppose, as this was
England, I should call it the "pavement"--I was accosted by Mrs. Briggs.
She was out of breath; I am quite sure she had reached that pavement but
the moment before.

"'Ow is she?" demanded Mrs. Briggs.

"Who?" I asked, not too politely.

"That Morley one. Is she goin' to be hill again?"

"How do I know? Has she been sick--ill, I mean?"

"Huh! Hill! 'Er? Now, now, sir! I give you my word she's been hill
hever since she came 'ere. I thought one time she was goin' to die on my
'ands. And 'oo was to pay for 'er buryin', I'd like to know? That's w'at
it is! 'Oo's goin' to pay for 'er buryin' and the food she eats; to
say nothin' of 'er room money, and that's been owin' me for a matter of
three weeks?"

"How should I know who is going to pay for it? She will, I suppose."

"She! W'at with? She ain't got a bob to bless 'erself with, she ain't.
She's broke, stony broke. Honly for my kind 'eart she'd a been out on
the street afore this. That and 'er tellin' me she was expectin' money
from 'er rich friends in the States. You're from the States, ain't you,
sir?"

"Yes. But do you mean to tell me that Miss Morley has no money of her
own?"

"Of course I mean it. W'en she come 'ere she told me she was on the
stage. A hopera singer, she said she was. She 'ad money then, enough to
pay 'er way, she 'ad. She was expectin' to go with some troupe or other,
but she never 'as. Oh, them stage people! Don't I know 'em? Ain't I
'ad experience of 'em? A woman as 'as let lodgin's as long as me? If it
wasn't for them rich friends in the States I 'ave never put up with 'er
the way I 'ave. You're from the States, ain't you, sir?"

"Yes, yes, I'm from the States. Now, see here, Mrs. Briggs; I'm coming
back here to-morrow. If--Well, if Miss Morley needs anything, food or
medicines or anything, in the meantime, you see that she has them. I'll
pay you when I come."

Mrs. Briggs actually smiled. She would have patted my arm if I had not
jerked it out of the way.

"You trust me, sir," she whispered, confidingly. "You trust my kind
'eart. I'll look after 'er like she was my own daughter."

I should have hated to trust even my worst enemy--if I had one--to Mrs.
Briggs' "kind heart." I walked off in disgust. I found a cab at the next
corner and, bidding the driver take me to Bancroft's, threw myself back
on the cushions. This was a lovely mess! This was a beautiful climax to
the first act--no, merely the prologue--of the drama of Hephzy's and my
pilgrimage. What would Jim Campbell say to this? I was to be absolutely
care-free; I was not to worry about myself or anyone else. That was the
essential part of his famous "prescription." And now, here I was, with
this impossible situation and more impossible young woman on my hands.
If Little Frank had been a boy, a healthy boy, it would be bad enough.
But Little Frank was a girl--a sick girl, without a penny. And a girl
thoroughly convinced that she was the rightful heir to goodness knows
how much wealth--wealth of which we, the uncivilized, unprincipled
natives of an unprincipled, uncivilized country, had robbed her parents
and herself. Little Frank had been a dream before; now he--she, I
mean--was a nightmare; worse than that, for one wakes from a nightmare.
And I was on my way to tell Hephzy!

Well, I told her. She was in our sitting-room when I reached the hotel
and I told her the whole story. I began by reading the letter. Before
she had recovered from the shock of the reading, I told her that I had
actually met and talked with Little Frank; and while this astounding bit
of news was, so to speak, soaking into her bewildered brain, I went on
to impart the crowning item of information--namely, that Little Frank
was Miss Frances. Then I sat back and awaited what might follow.

Her first coherent remark was one which I had not expected--and I had
expected almost anything.

"Oh, Hosy," gasped Hephzy, "tell me--tell me before you say anything
else. Does he--she, I mean--look like Ardelia?"

"Eh? What?" I stammered. "Look like--look like what?"

"Not what--who. Does she look like Ardelia? Like her mother? Oh, I HOPE
she doesn't favor her father's side! I did so want our Little Frank to
look like his--her--I CAN'T get used to it--like my poor Ardelia. Does
she?"

"Goodness knows! I don't know who she looks like. I didn't notice."

"You didn't! I should have noticed that before anything else. What kind
of a girl is she? Is she pretty?"

"I don't know. She isn't ugly, I should say. I wasn't particularly
interested in her looks. The fact that she was at all was enough; I
haven't gotten over that yet. What are we going to do with her? Or are
we going to do anything? Those are the questions I should like to have
answered. For heaven's sake, Hephzy, don't talk about her personal
appearance. There she is and here are we. What are we going to do?"

Hephzy shook her head. "I don't know, Hosy," she admitted. "I don't
know, I'm sure. This is--this is--Oh, didn't I tell you we were
SENT--sent by Providence!"

I was silent. If we had been "sent," as she called it, I was far from
certain that Providence was responsible. I was more inclined to place
the responsibility in a totally different quarter.

"I think," she continued, "I think you'd better tell me the whole thing
all over again, Hosy. Tell it slow and don't leave out a word. Tell me
what sort of place she was in and what she said and how she looked, as
near as you can remember. I'll try and pay attention; I'll try as hard
as I can. It'll be a job. All I can think of now is that
to-morrow mornin'--only to-morrow mornin'--I'm going to see Little
Frank--Ardelia's Little Frank."

I complied with her request, giving every detail of my afternoon's
experience. I reread the letter, and handed it to her, that she might
read it herself. I described Mrs. Briggs and what I had seen of Mrs.
Briggs' lodging-house. I described Miss Morley as best I could, dark
eyes, dark hair and the look of weakness and frailty. I repeated our
conversation word for word; I had forgotten nothing of that. Hephzy
listened in silence. When I had finished she sighed.

"The poor thing," she said. "I do pity her so."

"Pity her!" I exclaimed. "Well, perhaps I pity her, too, in a way. But
my pity and yours don't alter the situation. She doesn't want pity. She
doesn't want help. She flew at me like a wildcat when I asked if she was
ill. Her personal affairs, she says, are not ours; she doesn't want our
acquaintance or our friendship. She has gotten some crazy notion in
her head that you and I and Uncle Barnabas have cheated her out of
an inheritance, and she wants that! Inheritance! Good Lord! A fine
inheritance hers is! Daughter of the man who robbed us of everything we
had."

"I know--I know. But SHE doesn't know, does she, Hosy. Her father must
have told her--"

"He told her a barrel of lies, of course. What they were I can't
imagine, but that fellow was capable of anything. Know! No, she doesn't
know now, but she will have to know."

"Are you goin' to tell her, Hosy?"

I stared in amazement.

"Tell her!" I repeated. "What do you mean? You don't intend letting her
think that WE are the thieves, do you? That's what she thinks now. Of
course I shall tell her."

"It will be awful hard to tell. She worshipped her father, I guess. He
was a dreadful fascinatin' man, when he wanted to be. He could make a
body believe black was white. Poor Ardelia thought he was--"

"I can't help that. I'm not Ardelia."

"I know, but she is Ardelia's child. Hosy, if you are so set on tellin'
her why didn't you tell her this afternoon? It would have been just as
easy then as to-morrow."

This was a staggerer. A truthful answer would be so humiliating. I had
not told Frances Morley that her father was a thief and a liar because I
couldn't muster courage to do it. She had seemed so alone and friendless
and ill. I lacked the pluck to face the situation. But I could not tell
Hephzy this.

"Why didn't you tell her?" she repeated.

"Oh, bosh!" I exclaimed, impatiently. "This is nonsense and you know it,
Hephzy. She'll have to be told and you and I must tell her. DON'T look
at me like that. What else are we to do?"

Another shake of the head.

"I don't know. I can't decide any more than you can, Hosy. What do YOU
think we should do?"

"I don't know."

With which unsatisfactory remark this particular conversation ended. I
went to my room to dress for dinner. I had no appetite and dinner was
not appealing; but I did not want to discuss Little Frank any longer. I
mentally cursed Jim Campbell a good many times that evening and during
the better part of a sleepless night. If it were not for him I should be
in Bayport instead of London. From a distance of three thousand miles I
could, without the least hesitancy, have told Strickland Morley's "heir"
what to do.

Hephzy did not come down to dinner at all. From behind the door of her
room she told me, in a peculiar tone, that she could not eat. I could
not eat, either, but I made the pretence of doing so. The next morning,
at breakfast in the sitting-room, we were a silent pair. I don't know
what George, the waiter, thought of us.

At a quarter after nine I turned away from the window through which I
had been moodily regarding the donkey cart of a flower huckster in the
street below.

"You'd better get on your things," I said. "It is time for us to go."

Hephzy donned her hat and wrap. Then she came over to me.

"Don't be cross, Hosy," she pleaded. "I've been thinkin' it over all
night long and I've come to the conclusion that you are probably right.
She hasn't any real claim on us, of course; it's the other way around,
if anything. You do just as you think best and I'll back you up."

"Then you agree that we should tell her the truth."

"Yes, if you think so. I'm goin' to leave it all in your hands. Whatever
you do will be right. I'll trust you as I always have."

It was a big responsibility, it seemed to me. I did wish she had been
more emphatic. However, I set my teeth and resolved upon a course of
action. Pity and charity and all the rest of it I would not consider.
Right was right, and justice was justice. I would end a disagreeable
business as quickly as I could.

Mrs. Briggs' lodging-house, viewed from the outside, was no more
inviting at ten in the morning than it had been at four in the
afternoon. I expected Hephzy to make some comment upon the dirty steps
and the still dirtier front door. She did neither. We stood together
upon the steps and I rang the bell.

Mrs. Briggs herself opened the door. I think she had been watching from
behind the curtains and had seen our cab draw up at the curb. She was
in a state of great agitation, a combination of relieved anxiety,
excitement and overdone politeness.

"Good mornin', sir," she said; "and good mornin', lady. I've been
expectin' you, and so 'as she, poor dear. I thought one w'ile she was
that hill she couldn't see you, but Lor' bless you, I've nursed 'er same
as if she was my own daughter. I told you I would sir, now didn't I."

One word in this harangue caught my attention.

"Ill?" I repeated. "What do you mean? Is she worse than she was
yesterday?"

Mrs. Briggs held up her hands. "Worse!" she cried. "Why, bless your
'art, sir, she was quite well yesterday. Quite 'erself, she was, when
you come. But after you went away she seemed to go all to pieces like.
W'en I went hup to 'er, to carry 'er 'er tea--She always 'as 'er tea;
I've been a mother to 'er, I 'ave--she'll tell you so. W'en I went hup
with the tea there she was in a faint. W'ite as if she was dead. My
word, sir, I was frightened. And all night she's been tossin' about,
a-cryin' out and--"

"Where is she now?" put in Hephzy, sharply.

"She's in 'er room ma'am. Dressed she is; she would dress, knowin' of
your comin', though I told 'er she shouldn't. She's dressed, but she's
lyin' down. She would 'ave tried to sit hup, but THAT I wouldn't 'ave,
ma'am. 'Now, dearie,' I told 'er--"

But I would not hear any more. As for Hephzy she was in the dingy front
hall already.

"Shall we go up?" I asked, impatiently.

"Of COURSE you're to go hup. She's a-waitin' for you. But sir--sir," she
caught my sleeve; "if you think she's goin' to be ill and needin' the
doctor, just pass the word to me. A doctor she shall 'ave, the best
there is in London. All I ask you is to pay--"

I heard no more. Hephzy was on her way up the stairs and I followed. The
door of the first floor back was closed. I rapped upon it.

"Come in," said the voice I remembered, but now it sounded weaker than
before.

Hephzy looked at me. I nodded.

"You go first," I whispered. "You can call me when you are ready."

Hephzy opened the door and entered the room. I closed the door behind
her.

Silence for what seemed a long, long time. Then the door opened again
and Hephzy appeared. Her cheeks were wet with tears. She put her arms
about my neck.

"Oh, Hosy," she whispered, "she's real sick. And--and--Oh, Hosy, how
COULD you see her and not see! She's the very image of Ardelia. The very
image! Come."

I followed her into the room. It was no brighter now, in the middle of
a--for London--bright forenoon, than it had been on my previous visit.
Just as dingy and forbidding and forlorn as ever. But now there was no
defiant figure erect to meet me. The figure was lying upon the bed, and
the pale cheeks of yesterday were flushed with fever. Miss Morley had
looked far from well when I first saw her; now she looked very ill
indeed.

She acknowledged my good-morning with a distant bow. Her illness had not
quenched her spirit, that was plain. She attempted to rise, but Hephzy
gently pushed her back upon the pillow.

"You stay right there," she urged. "Stay right there. We can talk just
as well, and Mr. Knowles won't mind; will you, Hosy."

I stammered something or other. My errand, difficult as it had been
from the first, now seemed impossible. I had come there to say certain
things--I had made up my mind to say them; but how was I to say such
things to a girl as ill as this one was. I would not have said them to
Strickland Morley himself, under such circumstances.

"I--I am very sorry you are not well, Miss Morley," I faltered.

She thanked me, but there was no warmth in the thanks.

"I am not well," she said; "but that need make no difference. I presume
you and this--this lady are prepared to make a definite proposition to
me. I am well enough to hear it."

Hephzy and I looked at each other. I looked for help, but Hephzy's
expression was not helpful at all. It might have meant anything--or
nothing.

"Miss Morley," I began. "Miss Morley, I--I--"

"Well, sir?"

"Miss Morley, I--I don't know what to say to you."

She rose to a sitting posture. Hephzy again tried to restrain her, but
this time she would not be restrained.

"Don't know what to say?" she repeated. "Don't know what to say? Then
why did you come here?"

"I came--we came because--because I promised we would come."

"But WHY did you come?"

Hephzy leaned toward her.

"Please, please," she begged. "Don't get all excited like this. You
mustn't. You'll make yourself sicker, you know. You must lie down and be
quiet. Hosy--oh, please, Hosy, be careful."

Miss Morley paid no attention. She was regarding me with eyes which
looked me through and through. Her thin hands clutched the bedclothes.

"WHY did you come?" she demanded. "My letter was plain enough,
certainly. What I said yesterday was perfectly plain. I told you I did
not wish your acquaintance or your friendship. Friendship--" with a
blaze of scorn, "from YOU! I--I told you--I--"

"Hush! hush! please don't," begged Hephzy. "You mustn't. You're too weak
and sick. Oh, Hosy, do be careful."

I was quite willing to be careful--if I had known how.

"I think," I said, "that this interview had better be postponed. Really,
Miss Morley, you are not in a condition to--"

She sprang to her feet and stood there trembling.

"My condition has nothing to do with it," she cried. "Oh, CAN'T I make
you understand! I am trying to be lenient, to be--to be--And you come
here, you and this woman, and try to--to--You MUST understand! I don't
want to know you. I don't want your pity! After your treatment of my
mother and my father, I--I--I... Oh!"

She staggered, put her hands to her head, sank upon the bed, and then
collapsed in a dead faint.

Hephzy was at her side in a moment. She knew what to do if I did not.

"Quick!" she cried, turning to me. "Send for the doctor; she has
fainted. Hurry! And send that--that Briggs woman to me. Don't stand
there like that. HURRY!"

I found the Briggs woman in the lower hall. From her I learned the name
and address of the nearest physician, also the nearest public telephone.
Mrs. Briggs went up to Hephzy and I hastened out to telephone.

Oh, those London telephones! After innumerable rings and "Hellos" from
me, and "Are you theres" from Central, I, at last, was connected with
the doctor's office and, by great good luck, with the doctor himself.
He promised to come at once. In ten minutes I met him at the door and
conducted him to the room above.

He was in that room a long time. Meanwhile, I waited in the hall, pacing
up and down, trying to think my way through this maze. I had succeeded
in thinking myself still deeper into it when the physician reappeared.

"How is she?" I asked.

"She is conscious again, but weak, of course. If she can be kept quiet
and have proper care and nourishment and freedom from worry she will,
probably, gain strength and health. There is nothing seriously wrong
physically, so far as I can see."

I was glad to hear that and said so.

"Of course," he went on, "her nerves are completely unstrung. She seems
to have been under a great mental strain and her surroundings are not--"
He paused, and then added, "Is the young lady a relative of yours?"

"Ye--es, I suppose--She is a distant relative, yes."

"Humph! Has she no near relatives? Here in England, I mean. You and the
lady with you are Americans, I judge."

I ignored the last sentence. I could not see that our being Americans
concerned him.

"She has no near relatives in England, so far as I know," I answered.
"Why do you ask?"

"Merely because--Well, to be frank, because if she had such relatives I
should strongly recommend their taking charge of her. She is very weak
and in a condition where she knight become seriously ill."

"I see. You mean that she should not remain here."

"I do mean that, decidedly. This," with a wave of the hand and a glance
about the bare, dirty, dark hall, "is not--Well, she seems to be a young
person of some refinement and--"

He did not finish the sentence, but I understood.

"I see," I interrupted. "And yet she is not seriously ill."

"Not now--no. Her weakness is due to mental strain and--well, to a lack
of nutrition as much as anything."

"Lack of nutrition? You mean she hasn't had enough to eat!"

"Yes. Of course I can't be certain, but that would be my opinion if I
were forced to give one. At all events, she should be taken from here as
soon as possible."

I reflected. "A hospital?" I suggested.

"She might be taken to a hospital, of course. But she is scarcely ill
enough for that. A good, comfortable home would be better. Somewhere
where she might have quiet and rest. If she had relatives I should
strongly urge her going to them. She should not be left to herself; I
would not be responsible for the consequences if she were. A person in
her condition might--might be capable of any rash act."

This was plain enough, but it did not make my course of action plainer
to me.

"Is she well enough to be moved--now?" I asked.

"Yes. If she is not moved she is likely to be less well."

I paid him for the visit; he gave me a prescription--"To quiet the
nerves," he explained--and went away. I was to send for him whenever his
services were needed. Then I entered the room.

Hephzy and Mrs. Briggs were sitting beside the bed. The face upon the
pillow looked whiter and more pitiful than ever. The dark eyes were
closed.

Hephzy signaled me to silence. She rose and tiptoed over to me. I led
her out into the hall.

"She's sort of dozin' now," she whispered. "The poor thing is worn out.
What did the doctor say?"

I told her what the doctor had said.

"He's just right," she declared. "She's half starved, that's what's the
matter with her. That and frettin' and worryin' have just about killed
her. What are you goin' to do, Hosy?"

"How do I know!" I answered, impatiently. "I don't see exactly why we
are called upon to do anything. Do you?"

"No--o, I--I don't know as we are called on. No--o. I--"

"Well, do you?"

"No. I know how you feel, Hosy. Considerin' how her father treated us, I
won't blame you no matter what you do."

"Confound her father! I only wish it were he we had to deal with."

Hephzy was silent. I took a turn up and down the hall.

"The doctor says she should be taken away from here at once," I
observed.

Hephzy nodded. "There's no doubt about that," she declared with
emphasis. "I wouldn't trust a sick cat to that Briggs woman. She's
a--well, she's what she is."

"I suggested a hospital, but he didn't approve," I went on. "He
recommended some comfortable home with care and quiet and all the rest
of it. Her relatives should look after her, he said. She hasn't any
relatives that we know of, or any home to go to."

Again Hephzy was silent. I waited, growing momentarily more nervous and
fretful. Of all impossible situations this was the most impossible. And
to make it worse, Hephzy, the usually prompt, reliable Hephzy, was of no
use at all.

"Do say something," I snapped. "What shall we do?"

"I don't know, Hosy, dear. Why!... Where are you going?"

"I'm going to the drug-store to get this prescription filled. I'll be
back soon."

The drug-store--it was a "chemist's shop" of course--was at the corner.
It was the chemist's telephone that I had used when I called the doctor.
I gave the clerk the prescription and, while he was busy with it, I
paced up and down the floor of the shop. At length I sat down before the
telephone and demanded a number.

When I returned to the lodging-house I gave Hephzy the powders which the
chemist's clerk had prepared.

"Is she any better?" I asked.

"She's just about the same."

"What does she say?"

"She's too weak and sick to say anything. I don't imagine she knows or
cares what is happening to her."

"Is she strong enough to get downstairs to a cab, or to ride in one
afterward?"

"I guess so. We could help her, you know. But, Hosy, what cab? What do
you mean? What are you going to do?"

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm going to take her away from this
hole. I must. I don't want to; there's no reason why I should and every
reason why I shouldn't; but--Oh, well, confound it! I've got to. We
CAN'T let her starve and die here."

"But where are you going to take her?"

"There's only one place to take her; that's to Bancroft's. I've 'phoned
and engaged a room next to ours. She'll have to stay with us for the
present. Oh, I don't like it any better than you do."

To my intense surprise, Hephzy threw her arms about my neck and hugged
me.

"I knew you would, Hosy!" she sobbed. "I knew you would. I was dyin' to
have you, but I wouldn't have asked for the world. You're the best man
that ever lived. I knew you wouldn't leave poor Ardelia's little girl
to--to--Oh, I'm so grateful. You're the best man in the world."

I freed myself from the embrace as soon as I could. I didn't feel like
the best man in the world. I felt like a Quixotic fool.

Fortunately I was too busy for the next hour to think of my feelings.
Hephzy went in to arrange for the transfer of the invalid to the cab and
to collect and pack her most necessary belongings. I spent my time in a
financial wrangle with Mrs. Briggs. The number of items which that woman
wished included in her bill was surprising. Candles and soap--the bill
itself was the sole evidence of soap's ever having made its appearance
in that house--and washing and tea and food and goodness knows what. The
total was amazing. I verified the addition, or, rather, corrected it,
and then offered half of the sum demanded. This offer was received with
protestations, tears and voluble demands to know if I 'ad the 'art to
rob a lone widow who couldn't protect herself. Finally we compromised on
a three-quarter basis and Mrs. Briggs receipted the bill. She said her
kind disposition would be the undoing of her and she knew it. She was
too silly and soft-'arted to let lodgings.

We had very little trouble in carrying or leading Little Frank to the
cab. The effect of the doctor's powders--they must have contained some
sort of opiate--was to render the girl only partially conscious of what
was going on and we got her to and into the vehicle without difficulty.
During the drive to Bancroft's she dozed on Hephzy's shoulder.

Her room--it was next to Hephzy's, with a connecting door--was ready
and we led her up the stairs. Mr. and Mrs. Jameson were very kind and
sympathetic. They asked surprisingly few questions.

"Poor young lady," said Mr. Jameson, when he and I were together in our
sitting-room. "She is quite ill, isn't she."

"Yes," I admitted. "It is not a serious illness, however. She needs
quiet and care more than anything else."

"Yes, sir. We will do our best to see that she has both. A relative of
yours, sir, I think you said."

"A--a--my niece," I answered, on the spur of the moment. She was
Hephzy's niece, of course. As a matter of fact, she was scarcely related
to me. However, it seemed useless to explain.

"I didn't know you had English relatives, Mr. Knowles. I had been under
the impression that you and Miss Cahoon were strangers here."

So had I, but I did not explain that, either. Mrs. Jameson joined us.

"She will sleep now, I think," she said. "She is quite quiet and
peaceful. A near relative of yours, Mr. Knowles?"

"She is Mr. Knowles's niece," explained her husband.

"Oh, yes. A sweet girl she seems. And very pretty, isn't she."

I did not answer. Mr. Jameson and his wife turned to go.

"I presume you will wish to communicate with her people," said the
former. "Shall I send you telegram forms?"

"Not now," I stammered. Telegrams! Her people! She had no people. We
were her people. We had taken her in charge and were responsible. And
how and when would that responsibility be shifted!

What on earth should we do with her?

Hephzy tiptoed in. Her expression was a curious one. She was very
solemn, but not sad; the solemnity was not that of sorrow, but appeared
to be a sort of spiritual uplift, a kind of reverent joy.

"She's asleep," she said, gravely; "she's asleep, Hosy."

There was precious little comfort in that.

"She'll wake up by and by," I said. "And then--what?"

"I don't know."

"Neither do I--now. But we shall have to know pretty soon."

"I suppose we shall, but I can't--I can't seem to think of anything
that's ahead of us. All I can think is that my Little Frank--my
Ardelia's Little Frank--is here, here with us, at last."

"And TO last, so far as I can see. Hephzy, for heaven's sake, do try
to be sensible. Do you realize what this means? As soon as she is
well enough to understand what has happened she will want to know what
'proposition' we have to make. And when we tell her we have none to
make, she'll probably collapse again. And then--and then--what shall we
do?"

"I don't know, Hosy. I declare I don't know."

I strode into my own room and slammed the door.

"Damn!" said I, with enthusiasm.

"What?" queried Hephzy, from the sitting-room. "What did you say, Hosy?"

I did not tell her.



CHAPTER VIII

In Which the Pilgrims Become Tenants


Two weeks later we left Bancroft's and went to Mayberry. Two weeks only,
and yet in that two weeks all our plans--if our indefinite visions of
irresponsible flitting about Great Britain and the continent might
be called plans--had changed utterly. Our pilgrimage was, apparently,
ended--it had become an indefinite stay. We were no longer pilgrims, but
tenants, tenants in an English rectory, of all places in the world.
I, the Cape Cod quahaug, had become an English country gentleman--or a
country gentleman in England--for the summer, at least.

Little Frank--Miss Frances Morley--was responsible for the change, of
course. Her sudden materialization and the freak of fortune which
had thrown her, weak and ill, upon our hands, were responsible for
everything. For how much more, how many other changes, she would be
responsible the future only could answer. And the future would answer in
its own good, or bad, time. My conundrum "What are we going to do
with her?" was as much of a puzzle as ever. For my part I gave it up.
Sufficient unto the day was the evil thereof--much more than sufficient.

For the first twenty-four hours following the arrival of "my niece" at
Bancroft's Hotel the situation regarding that niece remained as it
was. Miss Morley--or Frances--or Frank as Hephzy persisted in calling
her--was too ill to care what had happened, or, at least, to speak of
it. She spoke very little, was confined to her room and bed and slept
the greater part of the time. The doctor whom I called, on Mr. Jameson's
recommendation, confirmed his fellow practitioner's diagnosis; the young
lady, he said, was suffering from general weakness and the effect of
nervous strain. She needed absolute rest, care and quiet. There was no
organic disease.

But on the morning of the second day she was much better and willing,
even anxious to talk. She assailed Hephzy with questions and Hephzy,
although she tried to avoid answering most, was obliged to answer some
of them. She reported the interview to me during luncheon.

"She didn't seem to remember much about comin' here, or what happened
before or afterward," said Hephzy. "But she wanted to know it all. I
told her the best I could. 'You couldn't stay there,' I said. 'That
Briggs hyena wasn't fit to take care of any human bein' and neither Hosy
nor I could leave you in her hands. So we brought you here to the hotel
where we're stoppin'.' She thought this over a spell and then she wanted
to know whose idea bringin' her here was, yours or mine. I said 'twas
yours, and just like you, too; you were the kindest-hearted man in the
world, I said. Oh, you needn't look at me like that, Hosy. It's the
plain truth, and you know it."

"Humph!" I grunted. "If the young lady were a mind-reader she
might--well, never mind. What else did she say?"

"Oh, a good many things. Wanted to know if her bill at Mrs. Briggs' was
paid. I said it was. She thought about that and then she gave me orders
that you and I were to keep account of every cent--no, penny--we spent
for her. She should insist upon that. If we had the idea that she was a
subject of charity we were mistaken. She fairly withered me with a look
from those big eyes of hers. Ardelia's eyes all over again! Or they
would be if they were blue instead of brown. I remember--"

I cut short the reminiscence. I was in no mood to listen to the praises
of any Morley.

"What answer did you make to that?" I asked.

"What could I say? I didn't want any more faintin' spells or hysterics,
either. I said we weren't thinkin' of offerin' charity and if it would
please her to have us run an expense book we'd do it, of course. She
asked what the doctor said about her condition. I told her he said she
must keep absolutely quiet and not fret about anything or she'd have an
awful relapse. That was pretty strong but I meant it that way. Answerin'
questions that haven't got any answer to 'em is too much of a strain for
ME. You try it some time yourself and see."

"I have tried it, thank you. Well, is that all? Did she tell you
anything about herself; where she has been or what she has been or what
she has been doing since her precious father died?"

"No, not a word. I was dyin' to ask her, but I didn't. She says she
wants to talk with the doctor next time he comes, that's all."

She did talk with the doctor, although not during his next call. Several
days passed before he would permit her to talk with him. Meanwhile he
and I had several talks. What he told me brought my conundrum no nearer
its answer.

She was recovering rapidly, he said, but for weeks at least her delicate
nervous organism must be handled with care. The slightest set-back
would be disastrous. He asked if we intended remaining at Bancroft's
indefinitely. I had no intentions--those I had had were wiped off my
mental slate--so I said I did not know, our future plans were vague. He
suggested a sojourn in the country, in some pleasant retired spot in the
rural districts.

"An out-of-door life, walks, rides and sports of all sorts would do your
niece a world of good, Mr. Knowles," he declared. "She needs just that.
A very attractive young lady, sir, if you'll pardon my saying so," he
went on. "Were her people Londoners, may I ask?"

He might ask but I had no intention of telling him. What I knew
concerning my "niece's" people were things not usually told to
strangers. I evaded the question.

"Has she had a recent bereavement?" he queried. "I hope you'll not
think me merely idly inquisitive. I cannot understand how a young woman,
normally healthy and well, should have been brought to such a strait.
Our English girls, Mr. Knowles, do not suffer from nerves, as I am told
your American young women so frequently do. Has your niece been in the
States with you?"

I said she had not. Incidentally I informed him that American young
women did NOT frequently suffer from nerves. He said "Really," but he
did not believe me, I'm certain. He was a good fellow, and intelligent,
but his ideas of "the States" had been gathered, largely, I think,
from newspapers and novels. He was convinced that most Americans were
confirmed neurotics and dyspeptics, just as Hephzy had believed all
Englishmen wore side-whiskers.

I changed the conversation as soon as I could. I could tell him
so little concerning my newly found "niece." I knew about as much
concerning her life as he did. It is distinctly unpleasant to be uncle
to someone you know nothing at all about. I devoutly wished I had not
said she was my niece. I repeated that wish many times afterward.

Miss Morley's talk with the physician had definite results, surprising
results. Following that talk she sent word by the doctor that she wished
to see Hephzy and me. We went into her room. She was sitting in a chair
by the window, and was wearing a rather pretty wrapper, or kimono, or
whatever that sort of garment is called. At any rate, it was becoming. I
was obliged to admit that the general opinion expressed by the Jamesons
and Hephzy and the doctor--that she was pretty, was correct enough. She
was pretty, but that did not help matters any.

She asked us--no, she commanded us to sit down. Her manner was decidedly
business-like. She wasted no time in preliminaries, but came straight to
the point, and that point was the one which I had dreaded. She asked us
what decision we had reached concerning her.

"Have you decided what your offer is to be?" she asked.

I looked at Hephzy and she at me. Neither of us derived comfort from
the exchange of looks. However, something must be done, or said, and I
braced myself to say it.

"Miss Morley," I began, "before I answer that question I should like to
ask you one. What do you expect us to do?"

She regarded me coldly. "I expect," she said, "that you and this--that
you and Miss Cahoon will arrange to pay me the money which was my
mother's and which my grandfather should have turned over to her while
he lived."

Again I looked at Hephzy and again I braced myself for the scene which I
was certain would follow.

"It is your impression then," I said, "that your mother had money of her
own and that Captain Barnabas, your grandfather, kept that money for his
own use."

"It is not an impression," haughtily; "I know it to be a fact."

"How do you know it?"

"My father told me so, during his last illness."

"Was--pardon me--was your father himself at the time? Was
he--er--rational?"

"Rational! My father?"

"I mean--I mean was he himself--mentally? He was not delirious when he
told you?"

"Delirious! Mr. Knowles, I am trying to be patient, but for the last
time I warn you that I will not listen to insinuations against my
father."

"I am not insinuating anything. I am seeking information. Were you and
your father together a great deal? Did you know him well? Just what did
he tell you?"

She hesitated before replying. When she spoke it was with an exaggerated
air of patient toleration, as if she were addressing an unreasonable
child.

"I will answer you," she said. "I will answer you because, so far, I
have no fault to find with your behavior toward me. You and my--and my
aunt have been as reasonable as I, perhaps, should expect, everything
considered. Your bringing me here and providing for me was even kind,
I suppose. So I will answer your questions. My father and I were not
together a great deal. I attended a convent school in France and saw
Father only at intervals. I supposed him to possess an independent
income. It was only when he was--was unable to work," with a quiver in
her voice, "that I learned how he lived. He had been obliged to depend
upon his music, upon his violin playing, to earn money enough to keep us
both alive. Then he told me of--of his life in America and how my mother
and he had been--been cheated and defrauded by those who--who--Oh, DON'T
ask me any more! Don't!"

"I must ask you. I must ask you to tell me this: How was he defrauded,
as you call it?"

"I have told you, already. My mother's fortune--"

"But your mother had no fortune."

The anticipated scene was imminent. She sprang to her feet, but being
too weak to stand, sank back again. Hephzy looked appealingly at me.

"Hosy," she cautioned; "Oh, Hosy, be careful! Think how sick she has
been."

"I am thinking, Hephzy. I mean to be careful. But what I said is the
truth, and you know it."

Hephzy would have replied, but Little Frank motioned her to be silent.

"Hush!" she commanded. "Mr. Knowles, what do you mean? My mother had
money, a great deal of money. I don't know the exact sum, but my father
said--You know it! You MUST know it. It was in my grandfather's care
and--"

"Your grandfather had no money. He--well, he lost every dollar he had.
He died as poor as a church rat."

Another interval of silence, during which I endured a piercing scrutiny
from the dark eyes. Then Miss Morley's tone changed.

"Indeed!" she said, sarcastically. "You surprise me, Mr. Knowles. What
became of the money, may I ask? I understand that my grandfather was a
wealthy man."

"He was fairly well-to-do at one time, but he lost his money and died
poor."

"How did he lose it?"

The question was a plain one and demanded a plain and satisfying answer.
But how could I give that answer--then? Hephzy was shaking her head
violently. I stammered and faltered and looked guilty, I have no doubt.

"Well?" said Miss Morley.

"He--he lost it, that is sufficient. You must take my word for it.
Captain Cahoon died without a dollar of his own."

"When did he LOSE his wealth?" with sarcastic emphasis.

"Years ago. About the time your parents left the United States. There,
there, Hephzy! I know. I'm doing my best."

"Indeed! When did he die?"

"Long ago--more than ten years ago."

"But my parents left America long before that. If my grandfather was
penniless how did he manage to live all those years? What supported
him?"

"Your aunt--Miss Cahoon here--had money in her own right."

"SHE had money and my mother had not. Yet both were Captain Cahoon's
daughters. How did that happen?"

It seemed to me that it was Hephzy's time to play the target. I turned
to her.

"Miss Cahoon will probably answer that herself," I observed,
maliciously.

Hephzibah appeared more embarrassed than I.

"I--I--Oh, what difference does all this make?" she faltered. "Hosy has
told you the truth, Frances. Really and truly he has. Father was poor
as poverty when he died and all his last years, too. All his money had
gone."

"Yes, so I have heard Mr. Knowles say. But how did it go?"

"In--in--well, it was invested in stocks and things and--and--"

"Do you mean that he speculated in shares?"

"Well, not--not--"

"I see. Oh, I see. Father told me a little concerning those
speculations. He warned Captain Cahoon before he left the States, but
his warnings were not heeded, I presume. And you wish me to believe that
ALL the money was lost--my mother's and all. Is that what you mean?"

"Your mother HAD no money," I put in, desperately, "I have told you--"

"You have told me many things, Mr. Knowles. Even admitting that my
grandfather lost his money, as you say, why should I suffer because of
his folly? I am not asking for HIS money. I am demanding money that was
my mother's and is now mine. That I expected from him and now I expect
it from you, his heirs."

"But your mother had no--"

"I do not care to hear that again. I know she had money."

"But how do you know?"

"Because my father told me she had, and my father did not lie."

There we were again--just where we started. The doctor re-entered the
room and insisted upon his patient's being left to herself. She must lie
down and rest, he said. His manner was one of distinct disapproval. It
was evident that he considered Hephzy and me disturbers of the peace; in
fact he intimated as much when he joined us in the sitting-room in a few
minutes.

"I am afraid I made a mistake in permitting the conference," he said.
"The young lady seems much agitated, Mr. Knowles. If she is, complete
nervous prostration may follow. She may be an invalid for months or even
years. I strongly recommend her being taken into the country as soon as
possible."

This speech and the manner in which it was made were impressive and
alarming. The possibilities at which it hinted were more alarming still.
We made no attempt to discuss family matters with Little Frank that day
nor the next.

But on the day following, when I returned from my morning visit to
Camford Street, I found Hephzy awaiting me in the sitting-room. She was
very solemn.

"Hosy," she said, "sit down. I've got somethin' to tell you."

"About her?" I asked, apprehensively.

"Yes. She's just been talkin' to me."

"She has! I thought we agreed not to talk with her at all."

"We did, and I tried not to. But when I went in to see her just now she
was waitin' for me. She had somethin' to say, she said, and she said
it--Oh, my goodness, yes! she said it."

"What did she say? Has she sent for her lawyer--her solicitor, or
whatever he is?"

"No, she hasn't done that. I don't know but I 'most wish she had. He
wouldn't be any harder to talk to than she is. Hosy, she's made up her
mind."

"Made up her mind! I thought HER mind was already made up."

"It was, but she's made it up again. That doctor has been talkin' to her
and she's really frightened about her health, I think. Anyhow, she has
decided that her principal business just now is to get well. She told
me she had decided not to press her claim upon us for the present. If we
wished to make an offer of what she calls restitution, she'll listen to
it; but she judges we are not ready to make one."

"Humph! her judgment is correct so far."

"Yes, but that isn't all. While she is waitin' for that offer she
expects us to take care of her. She has been thinkin', she says, and she
has come to the conclusion that our providin' for her as we have done
isn't charity--or needn't be considered as charity--at all. She is
willin' to consider it a part of that precious restitution she's forever
talkin' about. We are to take care of her, and pay her doctor's bills,
and take her into the country as he recommends, and--"

I interrupted. "Great Scott!" I cried, "does she expect us to ADOPT
her?"

"I don't know what she expects; I'm tryin' to tell you what she said.
We're to do all this and keep a strict account of all it costs, and
then when we are ready to make a--a proposition, as she calls it, this
account can be subtracted from the money she thinks we've got that
belongs to her."

"But there isn't any money belonging to her. I told her so, and so did
you."

"I know, but we might tell her a thousand times and it wouldn't affect
her father's tellin' her once. Oh, that Strickland Morley! If only--"

"Hush! hush, Hephzy... Well, by George! of all the--this thing has gone
far enough. It has gone too far. We made a great mistake in bringing
her here, in having anything to do with her at all--but we shan't go on
making mistakes. We must stop where we are. She must be told the truth
now--to-day."

"I know--I know, Hosy; but who'll tell her?"

"I will."

"She won't believe you."

"Then she must disbelieve. She can call in her solicitor and I'll make
him believe."

Hephzy was silent. Her silence annoyed me.

"Why don't you say something?" I demanded. "You know what I say is plain
common-sense."

"I suppose it is--I suppose 'tis. But, Hosy, if you start in tellin' her
again you know what'll happen. The doctor said the least little thing
would bring on nervous prostration. And if she has that, WHAT will
become of her?"

It was my turn to hesitate.

"You couldn't--we couldn't turn her out into the street if she was
nervous prostrated, could we," pleaded Hephzy. "After all, she's
Ardelia's daughter and--"

"She's Strickland Morley's daughter. There is no doubt of that.
Hereditary influence is plain enough in her case."

"I know, but she is Ardelia's daughter, too. I don't see how we can tell
her, Hosy; not until she's well and strong again."

I was never more thoroughly angry in my life. My patience was exhausted.

"Look here, Hephzy," I cried: "what is it you are leading up to? You're
not proposing--actually proposing that we adopt this girl, are you?"

"No--no--o. Not exactly that, of course. But we might take her into the
country somewhere and--"

"Oh, DO be sensible! Do you realize what that would mean? We should have
to give up our trip, stop sightseeing, stop everything we had planned to
do, and turn ourselves into nurses running a sanitarium for the benefit
of a girl whose father's rascality made your father a pauper. And, not
only do this, but be treated by her as if--as if--"

"There, there, Hosy! I know what it will mean. I know what it would mean
to you and I don't mean for you to do it. You've done enough and more
than enough. But with me it's different. _I_ could do it."

"You?"

"Yes. I've got some money of my own. I could find a nice, cheap, quiet
boardin'-house in the country round here somewhere and she and I could
go there and stay until she got well. You needn't go at all; you could
go off travelin' by yourself and--"

"Hephzy, what are you talking about?"

"I mean it. I've thought it all out, Hosy. Ever since Ardelia and I
had that last talk together and she whispered to me that--that--well,
especially ever since I knew there was a Little Frank I've been thinkin'
and plannin' about that Little Frank; you know I have. He--she isn't
the kind of Little Frank I expected, but she's, my sister's baby and
I can't--I CAN'T, turn her away to be sick and die. I can't do it. I
shouldn't dare face Ardelia in--on the other side if I did. No, I
guess it's my duty and I'm goin' to go on with it. But with you it's
different. She isn't any real relation to you. You've done enough--and
more than enough--as it is."

This was the climax. Of course I might have expected it, but of course
I didn't. As soon as I recovered, or partially recovered, from my
stupefaction I expostulated and scolded and argued. Hephzy was quiet but
firm. She hated to part from me--she couldn't bear to think of it; but
on the other hand she couldn't abandon her Ardelia's little girl. The
interview ended by my walking out of the room and out of Bancroft's in
disgust.

I did not return until late in the afternoon. I was in better humor
then. Hephzy was still in the sitting-room; she looked as if she had
been crying.

"Hosy," she said, as I entered, "I--I hope you don't think I'm too
ungrateful. I'm not. Really I'm not. And I care as much for you as if
you was my own boy. I can't leave you; I sha'n't. If you say for us
to--"

I interrupted.

"Hephzy," I said, "I shan't say anything. I know perfectly well that you
couldn't leave me any more than I could leave you. I have arranged with
Matthews to set about house-hunting at once. As soon as rural England is
ready for us, we shall be ready for it. After all, what difference does
it make? I was ordered to get fresh experience. I might as well get it
by becoming keeper of a sanitarium as any other way."

Hephzy looked at me. She rose from her chair.

"Hosy," she cried, "what--a sanitarium?"

"We'll keep it together," I said, smiling. "You and I and Little Frank.
And it is likely to be a wonderful establishment."

Hephzy said--she said a great deal, principally concerning my generosity
and goodness and kindness and self-sacrifice. I tried to shut off the
flow, but it was not until I began to laugh that it ceased.

"Why!" cried Hephzy. "You're laughin'! What in the world? I don't see
anything to laugh at."

"Don't you? I do. Oh, dear me! I--I, the Bayport quahaug to--Ho! ho!
Hephzy, let me laugh. If there is any fun in this perfectly devilish
situation let me enjoy it while I can."

And that is how and why I decided to become a country gentleman
instead of a traveler. When I told Matthews of my intention he had been
petrified with astonishment. I had written Campbell of that intention. I
devoutly wished I might see his face when he read my letter.

For days and days Hephzy and I "house-hunted." We engaged a nurse to
look after the future patient of the "sanitarium" while we did our best
to look for the sanitarium itself. Mr. Matthews gave us the addresses
of real estate agents and we journeyed from suburb to suburb and from
seashore to hills. We saw several "semi-detached villas." The name
"semi-detached villa" had an appealing sound, especially to Hephzy, but
the villas themselves did not appeal. They turned out to be what we, in
America, would have called "two-family houses."

"And I never did like the idea of livin' in a two-family house,"
declared Hephzy. "I've known plenty of real nice folks who did live in
'em, or one-half of one of 'em, but it usually happened that the folks
in the other half was a dreadful mean set. They let their dog chase your
cat and if your hens scratched up their flower garden they were real
unlikely about it. I've heard Father tell about Cap'n Noah Doane and
Cap'n Elkanah Howes who used to live in Bayport. They'd been chums all
their lives and when they retired from the sea they thought 'twould be
lovely to build a double house so's they would be right close together
all the time. Well, they did it and they hadn't been settled more'n a
month when they began quarrelin'. Cap'n Noah's wife wanted the house
painted yellow and Mrs. Cap'n Elkanah, she wanted it green. They
started the fuss and it ended by one-half bein' yellow and t'other half
green--such an outrage you never saw--and a big fence down the middle
of the front yard, and the two families not speakin', and law-suits and
land knows what all. They wouldn't even go to the same church nor be
buried in the same graveyard. No sir-ee! no two-family house for us if
I can help it. We've got troubles enough inside the family without
fightin' the neighbors."

"But think of the beautiful names," I observed. "Those names ought to
appeal to your poetic soul, Hephzy. We haven't seen a villa yet, no
matter how dingy, or small, that wasn't christened 'Rosemary Terrace'
or 'Sunnylawn' or something. That last one--the shack with the broken
windows--was labeled 'Broadview' and it faced an alley ending at a brick
stable."

"I know it," she said. "If they'd called it 'Narrowview' or 'Cow
Prospect' 'twould have been more fittin', I should say. But I think
givin' names to homes is sort of pretty, just the same. We might call
our house at home 'Writer's Rest.' A writer lives in it, you know."

"And he has rested more than he has written of late," I observed.
"'Quahaug Stew' or 'The Tureen' would be better, I should say."

When we expressed disapproval of the semi-detached villas our real
estate brokers flew to the other extremity and proceeded to show
us "estates." These estates comprised acres of ground, mansions,
game-keepers' and lodge-keepers' houses, and goodness knows what. Some,
so the brokers were particular to inform us, were celebrated for their
"shooting."

The villas were not good enough; the estates were altogether too good.
We inspected but one and then declined to see more.

"Shootin'!" sniffed Hephzy. "I should feel like shootin' myself every
time I paid the rent. I'd HAVE to do it the second time. 'Twould be a
quicker end than starvin', 'and the first month would bring us to that."

We found one pleasant cottage in a suburb bearing the euphonious name of
"Leatherhead"--that is, the village was named "Leatherhead"; the cottage
was "Ash Clump." I teased Hephzy by referring to it as "Ash Dump," but
it really was a pretty, roomy house, with gardens and flowers. For the
matter of that, every cottage we visited, even the smallest, was bowered
in flowers.

Hephzy's romantic spirit objected strongly to "Leatherhead," but I told
her nothing could be more appropriate.

"This whole proposition--Beg pardon; I didn't mean to use that word;
we've heard enough concerning 'propositions'--but really, Hephzy,
'Leatherhead' is very appropriate for us. If we weren't leather-headed
and deserving of leather medals we should not be hunting houses at all.
We should have left Little Frank and her affairs in a lawyer's hands and
be enjoying ourselves as we intended. Leatherhead for the leather-heads;
it's another dispensation of Providence."

"Ash Dump"--"Clump," I mean--was owned by a person named Cripps, Solomon
Cripps. Mr. Cripps was a stout, mutton-chopped individual, strongly
suggestive of Bancroft's "Henry." He was rather pompous and surly when I
first knocked at the door of his residence, but when he learned we were
house-hunting and had our eyes upon the "Clump," he became very
polite indeed. "A 'eavenly spot," he declared it to be. "A beautiful
neighborhood. Near the shops and not far from the Primitive Wesleyan
chapel." He and Mrs. Cripps attended the chapel, he informed us.

I did not fancy Mr. Cripps; he was too--too something, I was not sure
what. And Mrs. Cripps, whom we met later, was of a similar type. They,
like everyone else, recognized us as Americans at once and they spoke
highly of the "States."

"A very fine country, I am informed," said Mr. Cripps. "New, of course,
but very fine indeed. Young men make money there. Much money--yes."

Mrs. Cripps wished to know if Americans were a religious people, as a
rule. Religion, true spiritual religion was on the wane in England.

I gathered that she and her husband were doing their best to keep it up
to the standard. I had read, in books by English writers, of the British
middle-class Pharisee. I judged the Crippses to be Pharisees.

Hephzy's opinion was like mine.

"If ever there was a sanctimonious hypocrite it's that Mrs. Cripps," she
declared. "And her husband ain't any better. They remind me of Deacon
Hardy and his wife back home. He always passed the plate in church and
she was head of the sewin' circle, but when it came to lettin' go of
an extry cent for the minister's salary they had glue on their fingers.
Father used to say that the Deacon passed the plate himself so nobody
could see how little he put in it. They were the ones that always
brought a stick of salt herrin' to the donation parties."

We didn't like the Crippses, but we did like "Ash Clump." We had almost
decided to take it when our plans were quashed by the member of our
party on whose account we had planned solely. Miss Morley flatly refused
to go to Leatherhead.

"Don't ask ME why," said Hephzy, to whom the refusal had been made. "I
don't know. All I know is that the very name 'Leatherhead' turned her
whiter than she has been for a week. She just put that little foot of
hers down and said no. I said 'Why not?' and she said 'Never mind.' So I
guess we sha'n't be Leatherheaded--in that way--this summer."

I was angry and impatient, but when I tried to reason with the young
lady I met a crushing refusal and a decided snub.

"I do not care," said Little Frank, calmly and coldly, "to explain my
reasons. I have them, and that is sufficient. I shall not go to--that
town or that place."

"But why?" I begged, restraining my desire to shake her.

"I have my reasons. You may go there, if you wish. That is your right.
But I shall not. And before you go I shall insist upon a settlement of
my claim."

The "claim" could neither be settled nor discussed; the doctor's warning
was no less insistent although his patient was steadily improving. I
faced the alternative of my compliance or her nervous prostration and I
chose the former. My desire to shake her remained.

So "Ash Clump" was given up. Hephzy and I speculated much concerning
Little Frank's aversion to Leatherhead.

"It must be," said Hephzy, "that she knows somebody there, or somethin'
like that. That's likely, I suppose. You know we don't know much about
her or what she's done since her father died, Hosy. I've tried to ask
her but she won't tell. I wish we did know."

"I don't," I snarled. "I wish to heaven we had never known her at all."

Hephzy sighed. "It IS awful hard for you," she said. "And yet, if we had
come to know her in another way you--we might have been glad. I--I think
she could be as sweet as she is pretty to folks she didn't consider
thieves--and Americans. She does hate Americans. That's her precious
pa's doin's, I suppose likely."

The next afternoon we saw the advertisement in the Standard. George,
the waiter, brought two of the London dailies to our room each day. The
advertisement read as follows:


"To Let for the Summer Months--Furnished. A Rectory in Mayberry, Sussex.
Ten rooms, servants' quarters, vegetable gardens, small fruit, tennis
court, etc., etc. Water and gas laid on. Golf near by. Terms low.
Rector--Mayberry, Sussex."


"I answered it, Hosy," said Hephzy.

"You did!"

"Yes. It sounded so nice I couldn't help it. It would be lovely to live
in a rectory, wouldn't it."

"Lovely--and expensive," I answered. "I'm afraid a rectory with tennis
courts and servants' quarters and all the rest of it will prove too
grand for a pair of Bayporters like you and me. However, your answering
the ad does no harm; it doesn't commit us to anything."

But when the answer to the answer came it was even more appealing than
the advertisement itself. And the terms, although a trifle higher
than we had planned to pay, were not entirely beyond our means. The
rector--his name was Cole--urged us to visit Mayberry and see the place
for ourselves. We were to take the train for Haddington on Hill where
the trap would meet us. Mayberry was two miles from Haddington on Hill,
it appeared.

We decided to go, but before writing of our intention, Hephzy consulted
the most particular member of our party.

"It's no use doing anything until we ask her," she said. "She may be as
down on Mayberry as she was on Leatherhead."

But she was not. She had no objections to Mayberry. So, after writing
and making the necessary arrangements, we took the train one bright,
sunny morning, and after a ride of an hour or more, alighted at
Haddington on Hill.

Haddington on Hill was not on a hill at all, unless a knoll in the
middle of a wide flat meadow be called that. There were no houses near
the railway station, either rectories or any other sort. We were the
only passengers to leave the train there.

The trap, however, was waiting. The horse which drew it was a black,
plump little animal, and the driver was a neat English lad who touched
his hat and assisted Hephzy to the back seat of the vehicle. I climbed
up beside her.

The road wound over the knoll and away across the meadow. On either side
were farm lands, fields of young grain, or pastures with flocks of sheep
grazing contentedly. In the distance, in every direction, one caught
glimpses of little villages with gray church towers rising amid the
foliage. Each field and pasture was bordered with a hedge instead of
a fence, and over all hung the soft, light blue haze which is so
characteristic of good weather in England.

Birds which we took to be crows, but which we learned afterward were
rooks, whirled and circled. As we turned a corner a smaller bird rose
from the grass beside the road and soared upward, singing with all its
little might until it was a fluttering speck against the sky. Hephzy
watched it, her eyes shining.

"I believe," she cried, excitedly, "I do believe that is a skylark. Do
you suppose it is?"

"A lark, yes, lady," said our driver.

"A lark, a real skylark! Just think of it, Hosy. I've heard a real lark.
Well, Hephzibah Cahoon, you may never get into a book, but you're livin'
among book things every day of your life. 'And singin' ever soars and
soarin' ever singest.' I'd sing, too, if I knew how. You needn't be
frightened--I sha'n't try."

The meadows ended at the foot of another hill, a real one this time.
At our left, crowning the hill, a big house, a mansion with towers and
turrets, rose above the trees. Hephzy whispered to me.

"You don't suppose THAT is the rectory, do you, Hosy?" she asked, in an
awestricken tone.

"If it is we may as well go back to London," I answered. "But it
isn't. Nothing lower in churchly rank than a bishop could keep up that
establishment."

The driver settled our doubts for us.

"The Manor House, sir," he said, pointing with his whip. "The estate
begins here, sir."

The "estate" was bordered by a high iron fence, stretching as far as
we could see. Beside that fence we rode for some distance. Then another
turn in the road and we entered the street of a little village, a
village of picturesque little houses, brick or stone always--not a frame
house among them. Many of the roofs were thatched. Flowers and climbing
vines and little gardens everywhere. The village looked as if it had
been there, just as it was, for centuries.

"This is Mayberry, sir," said our driver. "That is the rectory, next the
church."

We could see the church tower and the roof, but the rectory was not yet
visible to our eyes. We turned in between two of the houses, larger and
more pretentious than the rest. The driver alighted and opened a big
wooden gate. Before us was a driveway, shaded by great elms and bordered
by rose hedges. At the end of the driveway was an old-fashioned,
comfortable looking, brick house. Vines hid the most of the bricks.
Flower beds covered its foundations. A gray-haired old gentleman stood
in the doorway.

This was the rectory we had come to see and the gray-haired gentleman
was the Reverend Mr. Cole, the rector.

"My soul!" whispered Hephzy, looking aghast at the spacious grounds, "we
can never hire THIS. This is too expensive and grand for us, Hosy. Look
at the grass to cut and the flowers to attend to, and the house to run.
No wonder the servants have 'quarters.' My soul and body! I thought a
rector was a kind of minister, and a rectory was a sort of parsonage,
but I guess I'm off my course, as Father used to say. Either that or
ministers' wages are higher than they are in Bayport. No, this place
isn't for you and me, Hosy."

But it was. Before we left that rectory in the afternoon I had agreed
to lease it until the middle of September, servants--there were five
of them, groom and gardener included--horse and trap, tennis court,
vegetable garden, fruit, flowers and all. It developed that the terms,
which I had considered rather too high for my purse, included the
servants' wages, vegetables from the garden, strawberries and other
"small fruit"--everything. Even food for the horse was included in that
all-embracing rent.

As Hephzy said, everything considered, the rent of Mayberry Rectory was
lower than that of a fair-sized summer cottage at Bayport.

The Reverend Mr. Cole was a delightful gentleman. His wife was equally
kind and agreeable. I think they were, at first, rather unpleasantly
surprised to find that their prospective tenants were from the "States";
but Hephzy and I managed to behave as unlike savages as we could, and
the Cole manner grew less and less reserved. Mr. Cole and his wife were
planning to spend a long vacation in Switzerland and his "living," or
parish, was to be left in charge of his two curates. There was a son at
Oxford who was to join them on their vacation.

Mr. Cole and I walked about the grounds and visited the church, the
yard of which, with its weather-beaten gravestones and fine old trees,
adjoined the rectory on the western side, behind the tall hedge.

The church was built of stone, of course, and a portion of it was
older than the Norman conquest. Before the altar steps were two ancient
effigies of knights in armor, with crossed gauntlets and their feet
supported by crouching lions. These old fellows were scratched and
scarred and initialed. Upon one noble nose were the letters "A. H. N.
1694." I decided that vandalism was not a modern innovation.

While the rector and I were inspecting the church, Mrs. Cole and Hephzy
were making a tour of the house. They met us at the door. Mrs. Cole's
eyes were twinkling; I judged that she had found Hephzy amusing. If this
was true it had not warped her judgment, however, for, a moment later
when she and I were alone, she said:

"Your cousin, Miss Cahoon, is a good housekeeper, I imagine."

"She is all of that," I said, decidedly.

"Yes, she was very particular concerning the kitchen and scullery and
the maids' rooms. Are all American housekeepers as particular?"

"Not all. Miss Cahoon is unique in many ways; but she is a remarkable
woman in all."

"Yes. I am sure of it. And she has such a typical American accent,
hasn't she."

We were to take possession on the following Monday. We lunched at the
"Red Cow," the village inn, where the meal was served in the parlor and
the landlord's daughter waited upon us. The plump black horse drew us to
the railway station, and we took the train for London.

We have learned, by this time, that second, or even third-class travel
was quite good enough for short journeys and that very few English
people paid for first-class compartments. We were fortunate enough to
have a second-class compartment to ourselves this time, and, when we
were seated, Hephzy asked a question.

"Did you think to speak about the golf, Hosy?" she said. "You will want
to play some, won't you?"

"Yes," said I. "I did ask about it. It seems that the golf course is a
private one, on the big estate we passed on the way from the station.
Permission is always given the rectory tenants."

"Oh! my gracious, isn't that grand! That estate isn't in Mayberry. The
Mayberry bounds--that's what Mrs. Cole called them--and just this
side. The estate is in the village of--of Burgleston Bogs. Burgleston
Bogs--it's a funny name. Seem's if I'd heard it before."

"You have," said I, in surprise. "Burgleston Bogs is where that
Heathcroft chap whom we met on the steamer visits occasionally. His aunt
has a big place there. By George! you don't suppose that estate belongs
to his aunt, do you?"

Hephzy gasped. "I wouldn't wonder," she cried. "I wouldn't wonder if it
did. And his aunt was Lady Somebody, wasn't she. Maybe you'll meet him
there. Goodness sakes! just think of your playin' golf with a Lady's
nephew."

"I doubt if we need to think of it," I observed. "Mr. Carleton
Heathcroft on board ship may be friendly with American plebeians, but on
shore, and when visiting his aunt, he may be quite different. I fancy he
and I will not play many holes together."

Hephzy laughed. "You 'fancy,'" she repeated. "You'll be sayin' 'My word'
next. My! Hosy, you ARE gettin' English."

"Indeed I'm not!" I declared, with emphasis. "My experience with an
English relative is sufficient of itself to prevent that. Miss Frances
Morley and I are compatriots for the summer only."



CHAPTER IX

In Which We Make the Acquaintance of Mayberry and a Portion of
Burgleston Bogs


We migrated to Mayberry the following Monday, as we had agreed to do.
Miss Morley went with us, of course. I secured a first-class apartment
for our party and the journey was a comfortable and quiet one. Our
invalid was too weak to talk a great deal even if she had wished, which
she apparently did not. Johnson, the groom, met us at Haddington on Hill
and we drove to the rectory. There Miss Morley, very tired and worn out,
was escorted to her room by Hephzy and Charlotte, the housemaid. She was
perfectly willing to remain in that room, in fact she did not leave it
for several days.

Meanwhile Hephzy and I were doing our best to become acquainted with our
new and novel mode of life. Hephzy took charge of the household and was,
in a way, quite in her element; in another way she was distinctly out of
it.

"I did think I was gettin' used to bein' waited on, Hosy," she confided,
"but it looks as if I'll have to begin all over again. Managin' one
hired girl like Susanna was a job and I tell you I thought managin'
three, same as we've got here, would be a staggerer. But it isn't.
Somehow the kind of help over here don't seem to need managin'. They
manage me more than I do them. There's Mrs. Wigham, the cook. Mrs. Cole
told me she was a 'superior' person and I guess she is--at any rate,
she's superior to me in some things. She knows what a 'gooseberry fool'
is and I'm sure I don't. I felt like another kind of fool when she told
me she was goin' to make one, as a 'sweet,' for dinner to-night. As nigh
as I can make out it's a sort of gooseberry pie, but _I_ should never
have called a gooseberry pie a 'sweet'; a 'sour' would have been better,
accordin' to my reckonin'. However, all desserts over here are 'sweets'
and fruit is dessert. Then there's Charlotte, the housemaid, and Baker,
the 'between-maid'--between upstairs and down, I suppose that means--and
Grimmer, the gardener, and Johnson, the boy that takes care of the
horse. Each one of 'em seems to know exactly what their own job is and
just as exactly where it leaves off and t'other's job begins. I never
saw such obligin' but independent folks in my life. As for my own job,
that seems to be settin' still with my hands folded. Well, it's a brand
new one and it's goin' to take me one spell to get used to it."

It seemed likely to be a "spell" before I became accustomed to my own
"job," that of being a country gentleman with nothing to do but play the
part. When I went out to walk about the rectory garden, Grimmer touched
his hat. When, however, I ventured to pick a few flowers in that garden,
his expression of shocked disapproval was so marked that I felt I must
have made a dreadful mistake. I had, of course. Grimmer was in charge of
those flowers and if I wished any picked I was expected to tell him to
pick them. Picking them myself was equivalent to admitting that I was
not accustomed to having a gardener in my employ, in other words that
I was not a real gentleman at all. I might wait an hour for Johnson to
return from some errand or other and harness the horse; but I must on
no account save time by harnessing the animal myself. That sort of labor
was not done by the "gentry." I should have lost caste with the servants
a dozen times during my first few days in the rectory were it not for
one saving grace; I was an American, and almost any peculiar thing was
expected of an American.

When I strolled along the village street the male villagers, especially
the older ones, touched their hats to me. The old women bowed or
courtesied. Also they invariably paused, when I had passed, to stare
after me. The group at the blacksmith shop--where the stone coping of
the low wall was worn in hollows by the generations of idlers who had
sat upon it, just as their descendants were sitting upon it
now--turned, after I had passed, to stare. There would be a pause in the
conversation, then an outburst of talk and laughter. They were talking
about the "foreigner" of course, and laughing at him. At the
tailor's, where I sent my clothes to be pressed, the tailor himself, a
gray-haired, round-shouldered antique, ventured an opinion concerning
those clothes. "That coat was not made in England, sir," he said. "We
don't make 'em that way 'ere, sir. That's a bit foreign, that coat,
sir."

Yes, I was a foreigner. It was hard to realize. In a way everything was
so homelike; the people looked like people I had known at home, their
faces were New England faces quite as much as they were old England.
But their clothes were just a little different, and their ways were
different, and a dry-goods store was a "draper's shop," and a drug-store
was a "chemist's," and candies were "sweeties" and a public school was a
"board school" and a boarding-school was a "public school." And I might
be polite and pleasant to these people--persons out of my "class"--but I
must not be too cordial, for if I did, in the eyes of these very people,
I lost caste and they would despise me.

Yes, I was a foreigner; it was a queer feeling.

Coming from America and particularly from democratic Bayport, where
everyone is as good as anyone else provided he behaves himself, the
class distinction in Mayberry was strange at first. I do not mean that
there was not independence there; there was, among the poorest as well
as the richer element. Every male Mayberryite voted as he thought, I am
sure; and was self-respecting and independent. He would have resented
any infringement of his rights just as Englishmen have resented such
infringements and fought against them since history began. But what I am
trying to make plain is that political equality and social equality were
by no means synonymous. A man was a man for 'a' that, but when he was
a gentleman he was 'a' that' and more. And when he was possessed of
a title he was revered because of that title, or the title itself was
revered. The hatter in London where I purchased a new "bowler," had
a row of shelves upon which were boxes containing, so I was told, the
spare titles of eminent customers. And those hat-boxes were lettered
like this: "The Right Hon. Col. Wainwright, V.C.," "His Grace the Duke
of Leicester," "Sir George Tupman, K.C.B.," etc., etc. It was my first
impression that the hatter was responsible for thus proclaiming his
customers' titles, but one day I saw Richard, convoyed by Henry,
reverently bearing a suitcase into Bancroft's Hotel. And that suitcase
bore upon its side the inscription, in very large letters, "Lord Eustace
Stairs." Then I realized that Lord Eustace, like the owners of the
hat-boxes, recognizing the value of a title, advertised it accordingly.

I laughed when I saw the suitcase and the hat-boxes. When I told Hephzy
about the latter she laughed, too.

"That's funny, isn't it," she said. "Suppose the folks that have their
names on the mugs in the barber shop back home had 'em lettered 'Cap'n
Elkanah Crowell,' 'Judge the Hon. Ezra Salters,' 'The Grand Exalted
Sachem Order of Red Men George Kendrick.' How everybody would laugh,
wouldn't they. Why they'd laugh Cap'n Elkanah and Ezra and Kendrick out
of town."

So they would have done--in Bayport--but not in Mayberry or London.
Titles and rank and class in England are established and accepted
institutions, and are not laughed at, for where institutions of that
kind are laughed at they soon cease to be. Hephzy summed it up pretty
well when she said:

"After all, it all depends on what you've been brought up to, doesn't
it, Hosy. Your coat don't look funny to you because you've always worn
that kind of coat, but that tailor man thought 'twas funny because he
never saw one made like it. And a lord takin' his lordship seriously
seems funny to us, but it doesn't seem so to him or to the tailor.
They've been brought up to it, same as you have to the coat."

On one point she and I had agreed before coming to Mayberry, that was
that we must not expect calls from the neighbors or social intercourse
with the people of Mayberry.

"They don't know anything about us," said I, "except that we are
Americans, and that may or may not be a recommendation, according to the
kind of Americans they have previously met. The Englishman, so all the
books tell us, is reserved and distant at first. He requires a long
acquaintance before admitting strangers to his home life and we shall
probably have no opportunity to make that acquaintance. If we were to
stay in Mayberry a year, and behaved ourselves, we might in time be
accepted as desirable, but not during the first summer. So if they leave
us to ourselves we must make the best of it."

Hephzy agreed thoroughly. "You're right," she said. "And, after all,
it's just what would happen anywhere. You remember when that Portygee
family came to Bayport and lived in the Solon Blodgett house. Nobody
would have anything to do with 'em for a long time because they were
foreigners, but they turned out to be real nice folks after all. We're
foreigners here and you can't blame the Mayberry people for not takin'
chances; it looks as if nobody in it ever had taken a chance, as if it
had been just the way it is since Noah came out of the Ark. I never felt
so new and shiny in my life as I do around this old rectory and this old
town."

Which was all perfectly true and yet the fact remains that, "new and
shiny" as we were, the Mayberry people--those of our "class"--began to
call upon us almost immediately, to invite us to their homes, to show us
little kindnesses, and to be whole-souled and hospitable and friendly as
if we had known them and they us for years. It was one of the greatest
surprises, and remains one of the most pleasant recollections, of my
brief career as a resident in England, the kindly cordiality of these
neighbors in Mayberry.

The first caller was Dr. Bayliss, who occupied "Jasmine Gables," the
pretty house next door. He dropped in one morning, introduced himself,
shook hands and chatted for an hour. That afternoon his wife called upon
Hephzy. The next day I played a round of golf upon the private course
on the Manor House grounds, the Burgleston Bogs grounds--with the doctor
and his son, young Herbert Bayliss, just through Cambridge and the
medical college at London. Young Bayliss was a pleasant, good-looking
young chap and I liked him as I did his father. He was at present
acting as his father's assistant in caring for the former's practice, a
practice which embraced three or four villages and a ten-mile stretch of
country.

Naturally I was interested in the Manor estate and its owner. The
grounds were beautiful, three square miles in extent and cared for, so
Bayliss, Senior, told me, by some hundred and fifty men, seventy of
whom were gardeners. Of the Manor House itself I caught a glimpse,
gray-turreted and huge, set at the end of lawns and flower beds, with
fountains playing and statues gleaming white amid the foliage. I asked
some questions concerning its owner. Yes, she was Lady Kent Carey and
she had a nephew named Heathcroft. So there was a chance, after all,
that I might again meet my ship acquaintance who abhorred "griddle
cakes." I imagined he would be somewhat surprised at that meeting. It
was an odd coincidence.

As for the game of golf, my part of it, the least said the better.
Doctor Bayliss, who, it developed, was an enthusiast at the game, was
kind enough to tell me I had a "topping" drive. I thanked him, but there
was altogether too much "topping" connected with my play that forenoon
to make my thanks enthusiastic. I determined to practice assiduously
before attempting another match. Somehow I felt responsible for the
golfing honor of my country.

Other callers came to the rectory. The two curates, their names were
Judson and Worcester, visited us; young men, both of them, and good
fellows, Worcester particularly. Although they wore clerical garb
they were not in the least "preachy." Hephzy, although she liked them,
expressed surprise.

"They didn't act a bit like ministers," she said. "They didn't ask us
to come to meetin' nor hint at prayin' with the family or anything, yet
they looked for all the while like two Methodist parsons, young ones. A
curate is a kind of new-hatched rector, isn't he?"

"Not exactly," I answered. "He is only partially hatched. But, whatever
you do, don't tell them they look like Methodists; they wouldn't
consider it a compliment."

Hephzy was a Methodist herself and she resented the slur. "Well, I guess
a Methodist is as good as an Episcopalian," she declared. "And they
don't ACT like Methodists. Why, one of 'em smoked a pipe. Just imagine
Mr. Partridge smokin' a pipe!"

Mr. Judson and I played eighteen holes of golf together. He played a
little worse than I did and I felt better. The honor of Bayport's golf
had been partially vindicated.

While all this was going on our patient remained, for the greater part
of the time, in her room. She was improving steadily. Doctor Bayliss,
whom I had asked to attend her, declared, as his London associates had
done, that all she needed was rest, quiet and the good air and food
which she was certain to get in Mayberry. He, too, like the physician at
Bancroft's, seemed impressed by her appearance and manner. And he also
asked similar embarrassing questions.

"Delightful young lady, Miss Morley," he observed. "One of our English
girls, Knowles. She informs me that she IS English."

"Partly English," I could not help saying. "Her mother was an American."

"Oh, indeed! You know she didn't tell me that, now did she."

"Perhaps not."

"No, by Jove, she didn't. But she has lived all her life in England?"

"Yes--in England and France."

"Your niece, I think you said."

I had said it, unfortunately, and it could not be unsaid now without
many explanations. So I nodded.

"She doesn't--er--behave like an American. She hasn't the American
manner, I mean to say. Now Miss Cahoon has--er--she has--"

"Miss Cahoon's manner is American. So is mine; we ARE Americans, you
see."

"Yes, yes, of course," hastily. "When are you and I to have the nine
holes you promised, Knowles?"

One fine afternoon the invalid came downstairs. The "between-maid" had
arranged chairs and the table on the lawn. We were to have tea there; we
had tea every day, of course--were getting quite accustomed to it.

Frances--I may as well begin calling her that--looked in better health
then than at any time since our meeting. She was becomingly, although
simply gowned, and there was a dash of color in her cheeks. Hephzibah
escorted her to the tea table. I rose to meet them.

"Frank--Frances, I mean--is goin' to join us to-day," said Hephzy.
"She's beginnin' to look real well again, isn't she."

I said she was. Frances nodded to me and took one of the chairs, the
most comfortable one. She appeared perfectly self-possessed, which I was
sure I did not. I was embarrassed, of course. Each time I met the
girl the impossible situation in which she had placed us became more
impossible, to my mind. And the question, "What on earth shall we do
with her?" more insistent.

Hephzy poured the tea. Frances, cup in hand, looked about her.

"This is rather a nice place, after all," she observed, "isn't it."

"It's a real lovely place," declared Hephzy with enthusiasm.

The young lady cast another appraising glance at our surroundings.

"Yes," she repeated, "it's a jolly old house and the grounds are not bad
at all."

Her tone nettled me. Everything considered I thought she might have
shown a little more enthusiasm.

"I infer that you expected something much worse," I observed.

"Oh, of course I didn't know what to expect. How should I? I had no hand
in selecting it, you know."

"She's hardly seen it," put in Hephzy. "She was too sick when she came
to notice much, I guess, and this is the first time she has been out
doors."

"I am glad you approve," I observed, drily.

My sarcasm was wasted. Miss Morley said again that she did approve, of
what she had seen, and added that we seemed to have chosen very well.

"I don't suppose," said Hephzy, complacently, "that there are many much
prettier places in England than this one."

"Oh, indeed there are. But all England is beautiful, of course."

I thought of Mrs. Briggs' lodging-house, but I did not refer to it. Our
guest--or my "niece"--or our ward--it was hard to classify her--changed
the subject.

"Have you met any of the people about here?" she asked.

Hephzy burst into enthusiastic praise of the Baylisses and the curates
and the Coles.

"They're all just as nice as they can be," she declared. "I never met
nicer folks, at home or anywhere."

Frances nodded. "All English people are nice," she said.

Again I thought of Mrs. Briggs and again I kept my thoughts to myself.
Hephzy went on rhapsodizing. I paid little attention until I heard her
speak my name.

"And Hosy thinks so, too. Don't you, Hosy?" she said.

I answered yes, on the chance. Frances regarded me oddly.

"I thought--I understood that your name was Kent, Mr. Knowles," she
said.

"It is."

"Then why does Miss Cahoon always--"

Hephzy interrupted. "Oh, I always call him Hosy," she explained. "It's a
kind of pet name of mine. It's short for Hosea. His whole name is Hosea
Kent Knowles, but 'most everybody but me does call him Kent. I don't
think he likes Hosea very well."

Our companion looked very much as if she did not wonder at my dislike.
Her eyes twinkled.

"Hosea," she repeated. "That is an odd name. The original Hosea was a
prophet, wasn't he? Are you a prophet, Mr. Knowles?"

"Far from it," I answered, with decision. If I had been a prophet I
should have been forewarned and, consequently, forearmed.

She smiled and against my will I was forced to admit that her smile was
attractive; she was prettier than ever when she smiled.

"I remember now," she said; "all Americans have Scriptural names. I have
read about them in books."

"Hosy writes books," said Hephzy, proudly. "That's his profession; he's
an author."

"Oh, really, is he! How interesting!"

"Yes, he is. He has written ever so many books; haven't you, Hosy."

I didn't answer. My self and my "profession" were the last subjects I
cared to discuss. The young lady's smile broadened.

"And where do you write your books, Mr. Knowles?" she asked.
"In--er--Bayport?"

"Yes," I answered, shortly. "Hephzy, Miss Morley will have another cup
of tea, I think."

"Oh, no, thank you. But tell me about your books, Mr. Knowles. Are they
stories of Bayport?"

"No indeed!" Hephzy would do my talking for me, and I could not order
her to be quiet. "No indeed!" she declared. "He writes about lords and
ladies and counts and such. He hardly ever writes about everyday people
like the ones in Bayport. You would like his books, Frances. You would
enjoy readin' 'em, I know."

"I am sure I should. They must be delightful. I do hope you brought some
with you, Mr. Knowles."

"He didn't, but I did. I'll lend you some, Frances. I'll lend you 'The
Queen's Amulet.' That's a splendid story."

"I am sure it must be. So you write about queens, too, Mr. Knowles. I
thought Americans scorned royalty. And what is his queen's name, Miss
Cahoon? Is it Scriptural?"

"Oh, no indeed! Besides, all Americans' names aren't out of the Bible,
any more than the names in England are. That man who wanted to let us
his house in Copperhead--no, Leatherhead--funny I should forget THAT
awful name--he was named Solomon--Solomon Cripps... Why, what is it?"

Miss Morley's smile and the mischievous twinkle had vanished. She looked
startled, and even frightened, it seemed to me.

"What is it, Frances?" repeated Hephzy, anxiously.

"Nothing--nothing. Solomon--what was it? Solomon Cripps. That is an odd
name. And you met this Mr.--er--Cripps?"

"Yes, we met him. He had a house he wanted to let us, and I guess we'd
have taken it, too, only you seemed to hate the name of Leatherhead so.
Don't you remember you did? I don't blame you. Of the things to call a
pretty town that's about the worst."

"Yes, it is rather frightful. But this, Mr.--er--Cripps; was he as bad
as his name? Did you talk with him?"

"Only about the house. Hosy and I didn't like him well enough to
talk about anything else, except religion. He and his wife gave us
to understand they were awful pious. I'm afraid we wouldn't have been
churchy enough to suit them, anyway. Hosy, here, doesn't go to meetin'
as often as he ought to."

"I am glad of it." The young lady's tone was emphatic and she looked as
if she meant it. We were surprised.

"You're glad of it!" repeated Hephzy, in amazement. "Why?"

"Because I hate persons who go to church all the time and boast of it,
who do all sorts of mean things, but preach, preach, preach continually.
They are hypocritical and false and cruel. I HATE them."

She looked now as she had in the room at Mrs. Briggs's when I had
questioned her concerning her father. I could not imagine the reason for
this sudden squall from a clear sky. Hephzy drew a long breath.

"Well," she said, after a moment, "then Hosy and you ought to get along
first-rate together. He's down on hypocrites and make-believe piety
as bad as you are. The only time he and Mr. Partridge, our minister
in Bayport, ever quarreled--'twasn't a real quarrel, but more of a
disagreement--was over what sort of a place Heaven was. Mr. Partridge
was certain sure that nobody but church members would be there, and Hosy
said if some of the church members in Bayport were sure of a ticket, the
other place had strong recommendations. 'Twas an awful thing to say, and
I was almost as shocked as the minister was; that is I should have been
if I hadn't known he didn't mean it."

Miss Morley regarded me with a new interest, or at least I thought she
did.

"Did you mean it?" she asked.

I smiled. "Yes," I answered.

"Now, Hosy," cried Hephzy. "What a way that is to talk! What do you know
about the hereafter?"

"Not much, but," remembering the old story, "I know Bayport. Humph!
speaking of ministers, here is one now."

Judson, the curate, was approaching across the lawn. Hephzy hastily
removed the lid of the teapot. "Yes," she said, with a sigh of relief,
"there's enough tea left, though you mustn't have any more, Hosy. Mr.
Judson always takes three cups."

Judson was introduced and, the "between-maid" having brought another
chair, he joined our party. He accepted the first of the three cups and
observed.

"I hope I haven't interrupted an important conversation. You appeared to
be talking very earnestly."

I should have answered, but Hephzy's look of horrified expostulation
warned me to be silent. Frances, although she must have seen the look,
answered instead.

"We were discussing Heaven," she said, calmly. "Mr. Knowles doesn't
approve of it."

Hephzy bounced on her chair. "Why!" she cried; "why, what a--why, WHAT
will Mr. Judson think! Now, Frances, you know--"

"That was what you said, Mr. Knowles, wasn't it. You said if Paradise
was exclusively for church members you preferred--well, another
locality. That was what I understood you to say."

Mr. Judson looked at me. He was a very good and very orthodox and a very
young man and his feelings showed in his face.

"I--I can scarcely think Mr. Knowles said that, Miss Morley," he
protested. "You must have misunderstood him."

"Oh, but I didn't misunderstand. That was what he said."

Again Mr. Judson looked at me. It seemed time for me to say something.

"What I said, or meant to say, was that I doubted if the future life,
the--er--pleasant part of it, was confined exclusively to--er--professed
church members," I explained.

The curate's ruffled feelings were evidently not soothed by this
explanation.

"But--but, Mr. Knowles," he stammered, "really, I--I am at a loss to
understand your meaning. Surely you do not mean that--that--"

"Of course he didn't mean that," put in Hephzy. "What he said was that
some of the ones who talk the loudest and oftenest in prayer-meetin' at
our Methodist church in Bayport weren't as good as they pretended to be.
And that's so, too."

Mr. Judson seemed relieved. "Oh," he exclaimed. "Oh, yes, I quite
comprehend. Methodists--er--dissenters--that is quite different--quite."

"Mr. Judson knows that no one except communicants in the Church of
England are certain of happiness," observed Frances, very gravely.

Our caller turned his attention to her. He was not a joker, but I think
he was a trifle suspicious. The young lady met his gaze with one of
serene simplicity and, although he reddened, he returned to the charge.

"I should--I should scarcely go as far as that, Miss Morley," he
said. "But I understand Mr. Knowles to refer to--er--church members;
and--er--dissenters--Methodists and others--are not--are not--"

"Well," broke in Hephzibah, with decision, "I'm a Methodist, myself, and
_I_ don't expect to go to perdition."

Judson's guns were spiked. He turned redder than ever and changed the
subject to the weather.

The remainder of the conversation was confined for the most part to
Frances and the curate. They discussed the village and the people in it
and the church and its activities. At length Judson mentioned golf.

"Mr. Knowles and I are to have another round shortly, I trust," he said.
"You owe me a revenge, you know, Mr. Knowles."

"Oh," exclaimed the young lady, in apparent surprise, "does Mr. Knowles
play golf?"

"Not real golf," I observed.

"Oh, but he does," protested Mr. Judson, "he does. Rather! He plays a
very good game indeed. He beat me quite badly the other day."

Which, according to my reckoning, was by no means a proof of
extraordinary ability. Frances seemed amused, for some unexplained
reason.

"I should never have thought it," she observed.

"Why not?" asked Judson.

"Oh, I don't know. Golf is a game, and Mr. Knowles doesn't look as if he
played games. I should have expected nothing so frivolous from him."

"My golf is anything but frivolous," I said. "It's too seriously bad."

"Do you golf, Miss Morley, may I ask?" inquired the curate.

"I have occasionally, after a fashion. I am sure I should like to
learn."

"I shall be delighted to teach you. It would be a great pleasure,
really."

He looked as if it would be a pleasure. Frances smiled.

"Thank you so much," she said. "You and I and Mr. Knowles will have a
threesome."

Judson's joy at her acceptance was tempered, it seemed to me.

"Oh, of course," he said. "It will be a great pleasure to have your
uncle with us. A great pleasure, of course."

"My--uncle?"

"Why, yes--Mr. Knowles, you know. By the way, Miss Morley--excuse
my mentioning it, but I notice you always address your uncle as Mr.
Knowles. That seems a bit curious, if you'll pardon my saying so. A bit
distant and--er--formal to our English habit. Do all nieces and nephews
in your country do that? Is it an American custom?"

Hephzy and I looked at each other and my "niece" looked at both of us. I
could feel the blood tingling in my cheeks and forehead.

"Is it an American custom?" repeated Mr. Judson.

"I don't know," with chilling deliberation. "I am NOT an American."

The curate said "Indeed!" and had the astonishing good sense not to say
any more. Shortly afterward he said good-by.

"But I shall look forward to our threesome, Miss Morley," he declared.
"I shall count upon it in the near future."

After his departure there was a most embarrassing interval of silence.
Hephzy spoke first.

"Don't you think you had better go in now, Frances," she said. "Seems to
me you had. It's the first time you've been out at all, you know."

The young lady rose. "I am going," she said. "I am going, if you and--my
uncle--will excuse me."

That evening, after dinner, Hephzy joined me in the drawing-room. It was
a beautiful summer evening, but every shade was drawn and every shutter
tightly closed. We had, on our second evening in the rectory, suggested
leaving them open, but the housemaid had shown such shocked surprise
and disapproval that we had not pressed the point. By this time we had
learned that "privacy" was another sacred and inviolable English custom.
The rectory sat in its own ground, surrounded by high hedges; no
one, without extraordinary pains, could spy upon its inmates, but,
nevertheless, the privacy of those inmates must be guaranteed. So the
shutters were closed and the shades drawn.

"Well?" said I to Hephzy.

"Well," said Hephzy, "it's better than I was afraid it was goin' to be.
I explained that you told the folks at Bancroft's she was your niece
because 'twas the handiest thing to tell 'em, and you HAD to tell 'em
somethin'. And down here in Mayberry the same way. She understood, I
guess; at any rate she didn't make any great objection. I thought at the
last that she was laughin', but I guess she wasn't. Only what she said
sounded funny."

"What did she say?"

"Why, she wanted to know if she should call you 'Uncle Hosea.' She
supposed it should be that--'Uncle Hosy' sounded a little irreverent."

I did not answer. "Uncle Hosea!" a beautiful title, truly.

"She acted so different to-day, didn't she," observed Hephzy. "It's
because she's gettin' well, I suppose. She was real full of fun, wasn't
she."

"Confound her--yes," I snarled. "All the fun is on her side. Well, she
should make the best of it while it lasts. When she learns the truth she
may not find it so amusing."

Hephzy sighed. "Yes," she said, slowly, "I'm afraid that's so, poor
thing. When--when are you goin' to tell her?"

"I don't know," I answered. "But pretty soon, that's certain."



CHAPTER X

In Which I Break All Previous Resolutions and Make a New One


That afternoon tea on the lawn was the beginning of the great change
in our life at the rectory. Prior to that Hephzy and I had, golfly
speaking, been playing it as a twosome. Now it became a threesome, with
other players added at frequent intervals. At luncheon next day our
invalid, a real invalid no longer, joined us at table in the pleasant
dining-room, the broad window of which opened upon the formal garden
with the sundial in the center. She was in good spirits, and, as Hephzy
confided to me afterward, was "gettin' a real nice appetite." In gaining
this appetite she appeared to have lost some of her dignity and chilling
condescension; at all events, she treated her American relatives as if
she considered them human beings. She addressed most of her conversation
to Hephzy, always speaking of and to her as "Miss Cahoon." She still
addressed me as "Mr. Knowles," and I was duly thankful; I had feared
being hailed as "Uncle Hosy."

After lunch Mr. Judson called again. He was passing, he explained, on
his round of parish calls, and had dropped in casually. Mr. Worcester
also came; his really was a casual stop, I think. He and his brother
curate were very brotherly indeed, but I noticed an apparent reluctance
on the part of each to leave before the other. They left together, but
Mr. Judson again hinted at the promised golf game, and Mr. Worcester,
having learned from Miss Morley that she played and sang, expressed
great interest in music and begged permission to bring some "favorite
songs," which he felt sure Miss Morley might like to run over.

Miss Morley herself was impartially gracious and affable to both the
clerical gentlemen; she was looking forward to the golf, she said, and
the songs she was certain would be jolly. Hephzy and I had very little
to say, and no one seemed particularly anxious to hear that little.

The curates had scarcely disappeared down the driveway when Doctor
Bayliss and his son strolled in from next door. Doctor Bayliss, Senior,
was much pleased to find his patient up and about, and Herbert, the
son, even more pleased to find her at all, I judge. Young Bayliss was
evidently very favorably impressed with his new neighbor. He was a big,
healthy, broad-shouldered fellow, a grown-up boy, whose laugh was a
pleasure to hear, and who possessed the faculty, envied by me, the
quahaug, of chatting entertainingly on all subjects from tennis and
the new American dances to Lloyd-George and old-age pensions. Frances
declared a strong aversion to the dances, principally because they were
American, I suspected.

Doctor Bayliss, the old gentleman, then turned to me.

"What is the American opinion of the Liberal measures?" he asked.

"I should say," I answered, "that, so far as they are understood in
America, opinion concerning them is divided, much as it is here."

"Really! But you haven't the Liberal and Conservative parties as we
have, you know."

"We have liberals and conservatives, however, although our political
parties are not so named."

"We call 'em Republicans and Democrats," explained Hephzy. "Hosy is a
Republican," she added, proudly.

"I am not certain what I am," I observed. "I have voted a split ticket
of late."

Young Bayliss asked a question.

"Are you a--what is it--Republican, Miss Morley?" he inquired.

Miss Morley's eyes dropped disdainfully.

"I am neither," she said. "My father was a Conservative, of course."

"Oh, I say! That's odd, isn't it. Your uncle here is--"

"Uncle Hosea, you mean?" sweetly. "Oh, Uncle Hosea is an American. I am
English."

She did not add "Thank heaven," but she might as well. "Uncle Hosea"
shuddered at the name. Young Bayliss grinned behind his blonde mustache.
When he left, in company with his father, Hephzy invited him to "run in
any time."

"We're next-door neighbors," she said, "so we mustn't be formal."

I was fairly certain that the invitation was superfluous. If I knew
human nature at all I knew that Bayliss, Junior, did not intend to let
formality stand in the way of frequent calls at the rectory.

My intuition was correct. The following afternoon he called again.
So did Mr. Judson. Both calls were casual, of course. So was Mr.
Worcester's that evening. He came to bring the "favorite songs" and was
much surprised to find Miss Morley in the drawing-room. He said so.

Hephzy and I knew little of our relative's history. She had volunteered
no particulars other than those given on the occasion of our first
meeting, but we did know, because Mrs. Briggs had told us, that she had
been a member of an opera troupe. This evening we heard her sing for the
first time. She sang well; her voice was not a strong one, but it was
clear and sweet and she knew how to use it. Worcester sang well also,
and the little concert was very enjoyable.

It was the first of many. Almost every evening after dinner Frances sat
down at the old-fashioned piano, with the candle brackets at each side
of the music rack, and sang. Occasionally we were her only auditors,
but more often one or both of the curates or Doctor and Mrs. Bayliss or
Bayliss, Junior, dropped in. We made other acquaintances--Mrs. Griggson,
the widow in "reduced circumstances," whose husband had been killed in
the Boer war, and who occupied the little cottage next to the draper's
shop; Mr. and Mrs. Samson, of Burgleston Bogs, friends of the Baylisses,
and others. They were pleasant, kindly, unaffected people and we enjoyed
their society.

Each day Frances gained in health and strength. The care-free,
wholesome, out-of-door life at Mayberry seemed to suit her. She seemed
to consider herself a member of the family now; at all events she
did not speak of leaving nor hint at the prompt settlement of her
preposterous "claim." Hephzy and I did not mention it, even to each
other. Hephzy, I think, was quite satisfied with things as they were,
and I, in spite of my threats and repeated declarations that the present
state of affairs was ridiculous and could not last, put off telling
"my niece" the truth. I, too, was growing more accustomed to the
"threesome."

The cloud was always there, hanging over our heads and threatening a
storm at any moment, but I was learning to forget it. The situation
had its pleasant side; it was not all bad. For instance, meals in the
pleasant dining-room, with Hephzy at one end of the table, I at the
other, and Frances between us, were more social and chatty than they had
been. To have the young lady come down to breakfast, her hair prettily
arranged, her cheeks rosy with health, and her eyes shining with youth
and the joy of life, was almost a tonic. I found myself taking more
pains with my morning toilet, choosing my tie with greater care and
being more careful concerning the condition of my boots. I even began to
dress for dinner, a concession to English custom which was odd enough
in one of my easy-going habits and Bayport rearing. I imagine that
the immaculate appearance of young Bayliss, when he dropped in for the
"sing" in the drawing-room, was responsible for the resurrection of my
dinner coat. He did look so disgustingly young and handsome and at ease.
I was conscious of each one of my thirty-eight years whenever I looked
at him.

I was rejuvenating in other ways. It had been my custom at Bayport to
retire to my study and my books each evening. Here, where callers
were so frequent, I found it difficult to do this and, although the
temptation was to sit quietly in a corner and let the others do the
talking, I was not allowed to yield. The younger callers, particularly
the masculine portion, would not have objected to my silence, I am
sure, but "my niece" seemed to take mischievous pleasure in drawing the
quahaug out of his shell. She had a disconcerting habit of asking me
unexpected questions at times when my attention was wandering, and, if
I happened to state a definite opinion, taking the opposite side with
promptness. After a time I decided not to express opinions, but to agree
with whatever was said as the simplest way of avoiding controversy and
being left to myself.

This procedure should, it seemed to me, have satisfied her, but
apparently it did not. On one occasion, Judson and Herbert Bayliss being
present, the conversation turned to the subject of American athletic
sports. The curate and Bayliss took the ground, the prevailing thought
in England apparently, that all American games were not games, but
fights in which the true sporting spirit was sacrificed to the desire
to win at any cost. I had said nothing, keeping silent for two reasons.
First, that I had given my views on the subject before, and, second,
because argument from me was, in that company, fruitless effort. The
simplest way to end discussion of a disagreeable topic was to pay no
attention to it.

But I was not allowed to escape so easily. Bayliss asked me a question.

"Isn't it true, Mr. Knowles," he asked, "that the American football
player wears a sort of armor to prevent his being killed?"

My thoughts had been drifting anywhere and everywhere. Just then they
were centered about "my niece's" hands. She had very pretty hands and
a most graceful way of using them. At the moment they were idly turning
some sheets of music, but the way the slim fingers moved in and out
between the pages was pretty and fascinating. Her foot, glimpsed beneath
her skirt, was slender and graceful, too. She had an attractive trick of
swinging it as she sat upon the piano stool.

Recalled from these and other pleasing observations by Bayliss's mention
of my name, I looked up.

"I beg pardon?" said I.

Bayliss repeated his question.

"Oh, yes," said I, and looked down again at the foot.

"So I have been told," said the questioner, triumphantly. "And without
that--er--armor many of the players would be killed, would they not?"

"What? Oh, yes; yes, of course."

"And many are killed or badly injured as it is?"

"Oh, yes."

"How many during a season, may I ask?"

"Eh? Oh--I don't know."

"A hundred?"

The foot was swinging more rapidly now. It was such a small foot. My own
looked so enormous and clumsy and uncouth by comparison.

"A--oh, thousands," said I, at random. If the number were large enough
to satisfy him he might cease to worry me.

"A beastly game," declared Judson, with conviction. "How can a civilized
country countenance such brutality! Do you countenance it, Mr. Knowles?"

"Yes--er--that is, no."

"You agree, then, that it is brutal?"

"Certainly, certainly." Would the fellow never stop?

"Then--"

"Nonsense!" It was Frances who spoke and her tone was emphatic and
impatient. We all looked at her; her cheeks were flushed and she
appeared highly indignant. "Nonsense!" she said again. "He doesn't agree
to any such thing. I've heard him say that American football was not as
brutal as our fox-hunting and that fewer people were killed or injured.
We play polo and we ride in steeplechases and the papers are full of
accidents. I don't believe Americans are more brutal or less civilized
in their sports than we are, not in the least."

Considering that she had at the beginning of the conversation apparently
agreed with all that had been said, and, moreover, had often, in
speaking to Hephzy and me, referred to the "States" as an uncivilized
country, this declaration was astonishing. I was astonished for one.
Hephzy clapped her hands.

"Of course they aren't," she declared. "Hosy--Mr. Knowles--didn't mean
that they were, either."

Our callers looked at each other and Herbert Bayliss hastily changed the
subject. After they had gone I ventured to thank my champion for coming
to the rescue of my sporting countrymen. She flashed an indignant glance
at me.

"Why do you say such things?" she demanded. "You know they weren't
true."

"What was the use of saying anything else? They have read the accounts
of football games which American penny-a-line correspondents send to the
London papers and nothing I could say would change their convictions."

"It doesn't make any difference. You should say what you think. To sit
there and let them--Oh, it is ridiculous!"

"My feelings were not hurt. Their ideas will broaden by and by, when
they are as old as I am. They're young now."

This charitable remark seemed to have the effect of making her more
indignant than ever.

"Nonsense!" she cried. "You speak as if you were an Old Testament
patriarch."

Hephzy put in a word.

"Why, Frances," she said, "I thought you didn't like America."

"I don't. Of course I don't. But it makes me lose patience to have him
sit there and agree to everything those boys say. Why didn't he answer
them as he should? If I were an American no one--NO one should rag me
about my country without getting as good as they gave."

I was amused. "What would you have me do?" I asked. "Rise and sing the
'Star Spangled Banner'?"

"I would have you speak your mind like a man. Not sit there like a--like
a rabbit. And I wouldn't act and think like a Methusaleh until I was
one."

It was quite evident that "my niece" was a young person of whims. The
next time the "States" were mentioned and I ventured to speak in their
defence, she calmly espoused the other side and "ragged" as mercilessly
as the rest. I found myself continually on the defensive, and this state
of affairs had one good effect at least--that of waking me up.

Toward Hephzy her manner was quite different. She now, especially when
we three were alone, occasionally addressed her as "Auntie." And she
would not permit "Auntie" to be made fun of. At the least hint of such a
thing she snubbed the would-be humorist thoroughly. She and Hephzy
were becoming really friendly. I felt certain she was beginning to like
her--to discern the real woman beneath the odd exterior. But when I
expressed this thought to Hephzy herself she shook her head doubtfully.

"Sometimes I've almost thought so, Hosy," she said, "but only this
mornin' when I said somethin' about her mother and how much she looked
like her, she almost took my head off. And she's got her pa's picture
right in the middle of her bureau. No, Hosy, she's nicer to us than she
was at first because it's her nature to be nice. So long as she forgets
who and what we are, or what her scamp of a father told her we were, she
treats us like her own folks. But when she remembers we're receivers of
stolen goods, livin' on money that belongs to her, then it's different.
You can't blame her for that, I suppose. But--but how is it all goin' to
end? _I_ don't know."

I didn't know either.

"I had hoped," I said, "that, living with us as she does, she might come
to know and understand us--to learn that we couldn't be the sort she has
believed us to be. Then it seems to me we might tell her and she would
listen to reason."

"I--I'm afraid we can't wait long. You see, there's another thing, Hosy.
She needs clothes and--and lots of things. She realizes it. Yesterday
she told me she must go up to London, shopping, pretty soon. She asked
me to go with her. I put her off; said I was awful busy around the
house just now, but she'll ask me again, and if I don't go she'll go by
herself."

"Humph! I don't see how she can do much shopping. She hasn't a penny, so
far as I know."

"You don't understand. She thinks she has got a good many pennies, or
we've got 'em for her. She's just as liable to buy all creation and send
us the bills."

I whistled. "Well," I said, decidedly, "when that happens we must put
our foot down. Neither you nor I are millionaires, Hephzy, and she must
understand that regardless of consequences."

"You mean you'll tell her--everything?"

"I shall have to. Why do you look at me like that? Are we to use
common-sense or aren't we? Are we in a position to adopt a young woman
of expensive tastes--actually adopt her? And not only that, but give her
carte blanche--let her buy whatever she pleases and charge it to us?"

"I suppose not. But--"

"But what?"

"Well, I--I don't see how we can stop her buying whatever she pleases
with what she thinks is her own money."

"I do. We can tell her she has no money. I shall do it. My mind is made
up."

Hephzy said nothing, but her expression was one of doubt. I stalked off
in a bad temper. Discussions of the kind always ended in just this way.
However, I swore a solemn oath to keep my word this time. There were
limits and they had been reached. Besides, as I had said, the situation
was changed in one way; we no longer had an invalid to deal with. No, my
mind was made up. True, this was at least the tenth time I had made it
up, but this time I meant it.

The test came two days later and was the result of a call on the
Samsons. The Samsons lived at Burgleston Bogs, and we drove to their
house in the trap behind "Pet," the plump black horse. Mrs. Samson
seemed very glad to see us, urged us to remain for tea, and invited
us to attend a tennis tournament on their lawn the following week. She
asked if Miss Morley played tennis. Frances said she had played, but not
recently. She intended to practice, however, and would be delighted to
witness the tournament, although, of course, she could not take part in
it.

"Hosy--Mr. Knowles, I mean--plays tennis," observed Hephzy, seizing the
opportunity, as usual, to speak a good word for me. "He used to play
real well."

"Really!" exclaimed Mrs. Samson, "how interesting. If we had only known.
No doubt Mr. Knowles would have liked to enter. I'm so sorry."

I hastened to protest. "My tennis is decidedly rusty," I said. "I
shouldn't think of displaying it in public. In fact, I don't play at all
now."

On the way home Frances was rather quiet. The next morning she announced
that she intended going to Wrayton that afternoon. "Johnson will drive
me over," she said. "I shall be glad if Auntie will go with me."

Wrayton was the county-seat, a good-sized town five miles from Mayberry.
Hephzy declined the invitation. She had promised to "tea" with Mrs.
Griggson that afternoon.

"Then I must go alone," said Frances. "That is unless--er--Uncle Hosea
cares to go."

"Uncle Hosea" declined. The name of itself was sufficient to make him
decline; besides Worcester and I were scheduled for golf.

"I shall go alone then," said "my niece," with decision. "Johnson will
look after me."

But after luncheon, when I visited the stable to order Johnson to
harness "Pet," I met with an unexpected difficulty. Johnson, it
appeared, was ill, had been indisposed the day before and was now at
home in bed. I hesitated. If this were Bayport I should have bade
the gardener harness "Pet" or have harnessed him myself. But this was
Mayberry, not Bayport.

The gardener, deprived of his assistant's help--Johnson worked about the
garden when not driving--was not in good humor. I decided not to ask
him to harness, but to risk a fall in the estimation of the servants by
doing it myself.

The gardener watched me for a moment in shocked disapproval. Then he
interfered.

"If you please, Mr. Knowles, sir," he said, "I'll 'arness, but I can't
drive, sir. I am netting the gooseberries. Perhaps you might get a man
from the Inn stables, unless you or the young lady might wish to drive
yourselves."

I did not wish to drive, having the golf engagement; but when I walked
to the Inn I found no driver available. So, rather than be disagreeable,
I sent word to the curate that our match was postponed, and accepted the
alternative.

Frances, rather to my surprise, seemed more pleased than otherwise to
find that I was to be her coachman. Instead of occupying the rear seat
she climbed to that beside me.

"Good-by, Auntie," she called to Hephzy, who was standing in
the doorway. "Sorry you're not going. I'll take good care of Mr.
Knowles--Uncle Hosea, I mean. I'll see that he behaves himself and,"
with a glance at my, I fear, not too radiant visage, "doesn't break any
of his venerable bones."

The road, like all English roads which I traveled, was as firm and
smooth as a table, the day was fine, the hedges were green and fragrant,
the larks sang, and the flocks of sheep in the wayside pastures were
picturesque as always. "Pet," who had led an easy life since we came to
the rectory, was in high spirits and stepped along in lively fashion. My
companion, too, was in good spirits and chatted and laughed as she had
not done with me since I knew her.

Altogether it was a delightful ride. I found myself emerging from my
shell and chatting and joking quite unlike the elderly quahaug I was
supposed to be. We passed a party of young fellows on a walking tour,
knapsacked and knickerbockered, and the admiring glances they passed
at my passenger were flattering. They envied me, that was plain. Well,
under different circumstances, I could conceive myself an object of
envy. A dozen years younger, with the heart of youth and the comeliness
of youth, I might have thought myself lucky to be driving along such a
road with such a vision by my side. And, the best of it was, the vision
treated me as if I really were her own age. I squared my shoulders and
as Hephzy would have said, "perked up" amazingly.

We entered Wrayton and moved along the main street between the rows of
ancient buildings, past the old stone church with its inevitable and
always welcome gray, ivy-draped tower, to the quaint old square with the
statue of William Pitt in its center. My companion, all at once, seemed
to become aware of her surroundings.

"Why!" she exclaimed, "we are here, aren't we? Fancy! I expected a
longer drive."

"So did I," I agreed. "We haven't hurried, either. Where has the time
gone."

"I don't know. We have been so busy talking that I have thought of
nothing else. Really, I didn't know you could be so entertaining--Uncle
Hosea."

The detested title brought me to myself.

"We are here," I said, shortly. "And now where shall we go? Have you any
stopping place in particular?"

She nodded.

"Yes," she said, "I want to stop now. Please pull up over there, in
front of that shop with the cricket bats in the window."

The shop was what we, in America, would have called a "sporting-goods
store." I piloted "Pet" to the curb and pulled up.

"I am going in," said Miss Morley. "Oh, don't trouble to help me. I can
get down quite well."

She was down, springing from the step as lightly as a dandelion fluff
before I could scramble down on the other side.

"I won't be long," she said, and went into the shop. I, not being
invited, remained on the pavement. Two or three small boys appeared from
somewhere and, scenting possible pennies, volunteered to hold the horse.
I declined their services.

Five minutes passed, then ten. My passenger was still in the shop. I
could not imagine what she was doing there. If it had been a shop of a
different kind, and in view of Hephzy's recent statement concerning the
buying of clothes, I might have been suspicious. But no clothes were on
sale at that shop and, besides, it never occurred to me that she would
buy anything of importance without mentioning her intention to me
beforehand. I had taken it for granted that she would mention the
subject and, when she did, I intended to be firm. But as the
minutes went by my suspicions grew. She must be buying something--or
contemplating buying, at least. But she had said nothing to me
concerning money; HAD she money of her own after all? It might be
possible that she had a very little, and was making some trifling
purchase.

She reappeared in the doorway of the shop, followed by a very polite
young man with a blonde mustache. The young man was bowing and smiling.

"Yes, miss," he said, "I'll have them wrapped immediately. They shall be
ready when you return, miss. Thank you, miss."

Frances nodded acknowledgment of the thanks. Then she favored me with
another nod and a most bewitching smile.

"That's over," she announced, "and now I'm going to the draper's for a
moment. It is near here, you say?"

The young man bowed again.

"Yes, miss, on the next corner, next the chemist's."

She turned to me. "You may wait here, Mr. Knowles," she said. "I shall
be back very soon."

She hurried away. I looked after her, and then, with all sorts of
forebodings surging in my brain, strode into that "sporting-goods
store."

The blond young man was at my elbow.

"Yes, sir," he said, ingratiatingly.

"Did--did that young lady make some purchases here?" I asked.

"Yes, sir. Here they are, sir."

There on the counter lay a tennis racket, a racket press and waterproof
case, a pair of canvas tennis shoes and a jaunty white felt hat. I
stared at the collection. The clerk took up the racket.

"Not a Slazenger," he observed, regretfully. "I did my best to persuade
her to buy a Slazenger; that is the best racket we have. But she decided
the Slazenger was a bit high in price, sir. However, sir, this one is
not bad. A very fine racket for lady's use; very light and strong, sir,
considering the cost--only sixteen and six, sir."

"Sixteen and six. Four dollars and--Did she pay for it?"

"Oh no, sir. She said you would do that, sir. The total is two pound
eight and thruppence, sir. Shall I give you a bill, sir? Thank you,
sir."

His thanks were wasted. I pushed him to one side and walked out of
that shop. I could not answer; if I answered as I felt I might be sorry
later. After all, it wasn't his fault. My business was not with him, but
with her.

It was not the amount of the purchase that angered and alarmed me. Two
pounds eight--twelve dollars--was not so much. If she had asked me, if
she had said she desired the racket and the rest of it during the drive
over, I think, feeling as I did during that drive, I should have bought
them for her. But she had not asked; she had calmly bought them without
consulting me at all. She had come to Wrayton for that very purpose. And
then had told the clerk that I would pay.

The brazen presumption of it! I was merely a convenience, a sort of
walking bank account, to be drawn upon as she saw fit, at her imperial
will, if you please. It made no difference, to her mind, whether I liked
it or not--whether I could afford it or not. I could, of course, afford
this trifling sum, but this was only the beginning. If I permitted this
there was no telling to what extent she might go on, buying and buying
and buying. This was a precedent--that was what it was, a precedent;
and a precedent once established... It should not be established. I had
vowed to Hephzy that it should not. I would prove to this girl that I
had a will of my own. The time had come.

One of the boys who had been so anxious to hold the horse was performing
that entirely unnecessary duty.

"Stay here until I come back," I ordered and hurried to the draper's.

She was there standing before the counter, and an elderly man was
displaying cloths--white flannels and serges they appeared to be. She
was not in the least perturbed at my entrance.

"So you came, after all," she said. "I wondered if you would. Now you
must help me. I don't know what your taste in tennis flannels may
be, but I hope it is good. I shall have these made up at Mayberry, of
course. My other frocks--and I need so many of them--I shall buy in
London. Do you fancy this, now?"

I don't know whether I fancied it or not. I am quite sure I could not
remember what it was if I were asked.

"Well?" she asked, after an instant. "Do you?"

"I--I don't know," I said. "May I ask you to step outside one moment.
I--I have something I wish to say."

She regarded me curiously.

"Something you wish to say?" she repeated. "What is it?"

"I--I can't tell you here."

"Why not, pray?"

"Because I can't."

She looked at me still more intently. I was conscious of the salesman's
regard also. My tone, I am sure, was anything but gracious, and I
imagine I appeared as disgusted and embarrassed as I felt. She turned
away.

"I think I will choose this one," she said, addressing the clerk. "You
may give me five yards. Oh, yes; and I may as well take the same amount
of the other. You may wrap it for me."

"Yes, miss, yes. Thank you, miss. Is there anything else?"

She hesitated. Then, after another sidelong glance at me, she said:
"Yes, I believe there is. I wish to see some buttons, some braid,
and--oh, ever so many things. Please show them to me."

"Yes, miss, certainly. This way, if you please."

She turned to me.

"Will you assist in the selection, Uncle Hosea?" she inquired, with
suspicious sweetness. "I am sure your opinion will be invaluable. No?
Then I must ask you to wait."

And wait I did, for I could do nothing else. That draper's shop was not
the place for a scene, with a half-dozen clerks to enjoy it. I waited,
fuming, while she wandered about, taking a great deal of time, and
lingering over each purchase in a maddening manner. At last she seemed
able to think of no more possibilities and strolled to where I was
standing, followed by the salesman, whose hands were full.

"You may wrap these with the others," she said. "I have my trap here and
will take them with me. The trap is here, isn't it--er--Uncle Hosea?"

"It is just above here," I answered, sulkily. "But--"

"But you will get it. Thank you so much."

The salesman noticed my hesitation, put his own interpretation upon it
and hastened to oblige.

"I shall be glad to have the purchases carried there," he said. "Our boy
will do it, miss. It will be no trouble."

Miss Morley thanked him so much. I was hoping she might leave the shop
then, but she did not. The various packages were wrapped, handed to
the boy, and she accompanied the latter to the door and showed him our
equipage standing before the sporting-goods dealer's. Then she sauntered
back.

"Thank you," she said, addressing the clerk. "That is all, I believe."

The clerk looked at her and at me.

"Yes, miss, thank you," he said, in return. "I--I--would you be wishing
to pay at once, miss, or shall I--"

"Oh, this gentleman will pay. Do you wish to pay now--Uncle Hosea?"

Again I was stumped. The salesman was regarding me expectantly; the
other clerks were near by; if I made a scene there--No, I could not do
it. I would pay this time. But this should be the end.

Fortunately, I had money in my pocket--two five-pound notes and some
silver. I paid the bill. Then, and at last, my niece led the way to the
pavement. We walked together a few steps in silence. The sporting-goods
shop was just ahead, and if ever I was determined not to do a thing that
thing was to pay for the tennis racket and the rest.

"Frances," I began.

"Well--Mr. Knowles?" calmly.

"Frances, I have decided to speak with you frankly. You appear to take
certain things for granted in your--your dealings with Miss Cahoon and
myself, things which--which I cannot countenance or permit."

She had been walking slowly. Now she stopped short. I stopped, too,
because she did.

"What do you mean?" she asked. "What things?"

She was looking me through and through. Again I hesitated, and my
hesitation did not help matters.

"What do you mean?" she repeated. "What is it you cannot countenance
or"--scornfully--"permit concerning me?"

"I--well, I cannot permit you to do as you have done to-day. You did not
tell your aunt or me your purpose in coming to Wrayton. You did not tell
us you were coming here to buy--to buy various things for yourself."

"Why should I tell you? They were for myself. Is it your idea that I
should ask YOUR permission before buying what I choose?"

"Considering that you ask me to pay, I--"

"I most distinctly did NOT ask you. I TOLD you to pay. Certainly you
will pay. Why not?"

"Why not?"

"Yes, why not. So this was what you wished to speak to me about. This
was why you were so--so boorish and disagreeable in that shop. Tell
me--was that the reason? Was that why you followed me there? Did you
think--did you presume to think of preventing my buying what I pleased
with my money?"

"If it had been your money I should not have presumed, certainly. If you
had mentioned your intention to me beforehand I might even have paid for
your purchases and said nothing. I should--I should have been glad to do
so. I am not unreasonable."

"Indeed! Indeed! Do you mean that you would have condescended to make
me a present of them? And was it your idea that I would accept presents
from you?"

It was on the tip of my tongue to tell her that she had already accepted
a good deal; but somehow the place, a public sidewalk, seemed hardly
fitting for the discussion of weighty personal matters. Passers-by were
regarding us curiously, and in the door of the draper's shop which we
had just left I noticed the elderly clerk standing and looking in our
direction. I temporized.

"You don't understand, Miss Morley," I said. "Neither your aunt nor
I are wealthy. Surely, it is not too much to ask that you consult us
before--before--"

She interrupted me. "I shall not consult you at all," she declared,
fiercely. "Wealthy! Am _I_ wealthy? Was my father wealthy? He should
have been and so should I. Oh, WHAT do you mean? Are you trying to tell
me that you cannot afford to pay for the few trifles I have bought this
afternoon?"

"I can afford those, of course. But you don't understand."

"Understand? YOU do not understand. The agreement under which I came
to Mayberry was that you were to provide for me. I consented to forego
pressing my claim against you until--until you were ready to--to--Oh,
but why should we go into this again? I thought--I thought you
understood. I thought you understood and appreciated my forbearance. You
seemed to understand and to be grateful and kind. I am all alone in the
world. I haven't a friend. I have been almost happy for a little while.
I was beginning to--"

She stopped. The dark eyes which had been flashing lightnings in my
direction suddenly filled with tears. My heart smote me. After all, she
did not understand. Another plea of that kind and I should have--Well,
I'm not sure what I should have done. But the plea was not spoken.

"Oh, what a fool I am!" she cried, fiercely. "Mr. Knowles," pointing to
the sporting-goods store, "I have made some purchases in that shop also.
I expect you to pay for those as well. Will you or will you not?"

I was hesitating, weakly. She did not wait for me to reply.

"You WILL pay for them," she declared, "and you will pay for others that
I may make. I shall buy what I please and do what I please with my money
which you are keeping from me. You will pay or take the consequences."

That was enough. "I will not pay," I said, firmly, "under any such
arrangement."

"You will NOT?"

"No, I will not."

She looked as if--Well, if she had been a man I should have expected a
blow. Her breast heaved and her fingers clenched. Then she turned and
walked toward the shop with the cricket bats in the window.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"I am going to tell the man to send the things I have bought to Mayberry
by carrier and I shall tell him to send the bill to you."

"If you do I shall tell him to do nothing of the kind. Miss Morley, I
don't mean to be ungenerous or unreasonable, but--"

"Stop! Stop! Oh!" with a sobbing breath, "how I hate you!"

"I'm sorry. When I explain, as I mean to, you will understand, I think.
If you will go back to the rectory with me now--"

"I shall not go back with you. I shall never speak to you again."

"Miss Morley, be reasonable. You must go back with me. There is no other
way."

"I will not."

Here was more cheer in an already cheerful situation. She could not get
to Mayberry that night unless she rode with me. She had no money to take
her there or anywhere else. I could hardly carry her to the trap by main
strength. And the curiosity of the passers-by was more marked than ever;
two or three of them had stopped to watch us.

I don't know how it might have ended, but the end came in an unexpected
manner.

"Why, Miss Morley," cried a voice from the street behind me. "Oh, I say,
it IS you, isn't it. How do you do?"

I turned. A trim little motor car was standing there and Herbert Bayliss
was at the wheel.

"Ah, Knowles, how do you do?" said Bayliss.

I acknowledged the greeting in an embarrassed fashion. I wondered how
long he had been there and what he had heard. He alighted from the car
and shook hands with us.

"Didn't see you, Knowles, at first," he said. "Saw Miss Morley here and
thought she was alone. Was going to beg the privilege of taking her home
in my car."

Miss Morley answered promptly. "You may have the privilege, Doctor
Bayliss," she said. "I accept with pleasure."

Young Bayliss looked pleased, but rather puzzled.

"Thanks, awfully," he said. "But my car holds but two and your uncle--"

"Oh, he has the dogcart. It is quite all right, really. I should love
the motor ride. May I get in?"

He helped her into the car. "Sure you don't mind, Knowles," he asked.
"Sorry there's not more room; but you couldn't leave the horse, though,
could you? Quite comfy, Miss Morley? Then we're off."

The car turned from the curb. I caught Miss Morley's eye for an instant;
there was withering contempt in its look--also triumph.

Left alone, I walked to the trap, gave the horse-holding boy sixpence,
climbed to the seat and took up the reins. "Pet" jogged lazily up the
street. The ride over had been very, very pleasant; the homeward journey
was likely to be anything but that.

To begin with, I was thoroughly dissatisfied with myself. I had bungled
the affair dreadfully. This was not the time for explanations; I should
not have attempted them. It would have been better, much better, to have
accepted the inevitable as gracefully as I could, paid the bills, and
then, after we reached home, have made the situation plain and "have put
my foot down" once and for all. But I had not done that. I had lost my
temper and acted like an eighteen-year-old boy instead of a middle-aged
man.

She did not understand, of course. In her eyes I must have appeared
stingy and mean and--and goodness knows what. The money I had refused to
pay she did consider hers, of course. It was not hers, and some day she
would know that it was not, but the town square at Wrayton was not the
place in which to impart knowledge of that kind.

She was so young, too, and so charming--that is, she could be when she
chose. And she had chosen to be so during our drive together. And I
had enjoyed that drive; I had enjoyed nothing as thoroughly since our
arrival in England. She had enjoyed it, too; she had said so.

Well, there would be no more enjoyment of that kind. This was the end,
of course. And all because I had refused to pay for a tennis racket and
a few other things. They were things she wanted--yes, needed, if she
were to remain at the rectory. And, expecting to remain as she did, it
was but natural that she should wish to play tennis and dress as did
other young players of her sex. Her life had not been a pleasant one;
after all, a little happiness added, even though it did cost me some
money, was not much. And it must end soon. It seemed a pity to end it in
order to save two pounds eight and threepence.

There is no use cataloguing all my thoughts. Some I have catalogued and
the others were similar. The memory of her face and of the choke in her
voice as she said she had been almost happy haunted me. My reason told
me that, so far as principle and precedent went, I had acted rightly;
but my conscience, which was quite unreasonable, told me I had acted
like a boor. I stood it as long as I could, then I shouted at "Pet," who
was jogging on, apparently half asleep.

"Whoa!" I shouted.

"Pet" stopped short in the middle of the road. I hesitated. The
principle of the thing--

"Hang the principle!" said I, aloud. Then I turned the trap around and
drove back to Wrayton. The blond young man in the sporting-goods store
was evidently glad to see me. He must have seen me drive away and have
judged that his sale was canceled. His judgment had been very near to
right, but now I proved it wrong.

I paid for the racket and the press and the shoes and the rest. They
were wrapped and ready.

"Thank you, sir," said the clerk. "I trust everything will be quite
satisfactory. I'm sorry the young lady did not take the Slazenger, but
the one she chose is not at all bad."

I was on my way to the door. I stopped and turned.

"Is the--the what is it--'Slazenger' so much better?" I asked.

"Oh, very much so, sir. Infinitely better, sir. Here it is; judge for
yourself. The very best racket made. And only thirty-two shillings,
sir."

It was a better racket, much better. And, after all, when one is hanging
principle the execution may as well be complete.

"You may give me that one instead of the other," I said, and paid the
difference.

On my arrival at the rectory Hephzy met me at the door. The between-maid
took the packages from the trap. I entered the drawing-room and Hephzy
followed me. She looked very grave.

"Frances is here, I suppose," I said.

"Yes, she came an hour ago. Doctor Bayliss, the younger one, brought
her in his auto. She hardly spoke to me, Hosy, and went straight to her
room. Hosy, what happened? What is the matter?"

"Nothing," said I, curtly. "Nothing unusual, that is. I made a fool of
myself once more, that's all."

The between-maid knocked and entered. "Where would you wish the parcels,
sir?" she asked.

"These are Miss Morley's. Take them to her room."

The maid retired to obey orders. Hephzy again turned to me.

"Now, Hosy, what is it?" she asked.

I told her the whole story. When I had finished Hephzy nodded
understandingly. She did not say "I told you so," but if she had it
would have been quite excusable.

"I think--I think, perhaps, I had better go up and see her," she said.

"All right. I have no objection."

"But she'll ask questions, of course. What shall I tell her?"

"Tell her I changed my mind. Tell her--oh, tell her anything you like.
Don't bother me. I'm sick of the whole business."

She left me and I went into the Reverend Cole's study and closed the
door. There were books enough there, but the majority of them were
theological works or bulky volumes dealing with questions of religion.
Most of my own books were in my room. These did not appeal to me; I was
not religiously inclined just then.

So I sat dumbly in the rector's desk chair and looked out of the window.
After a time there was a knock at the door.

"Come in," said I, expecting Hephzy. It was not Hephzy who came,
however, but Miss Morley herself. And she closed the door behind her.

I did not speak. She walked over and stood beside me. I did not know
what she was going to say and the expression did not help me to guess.

For a moment she did not say anything. Then:

"So you changed your mind," she said.

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know. Yet you changed it."

"Yes. Oh yes, I changed it."

"But why? Was it--was it because you were ashamed of yourself?"

"I guess so. As much that as anything."

"You realize that you treated me shamefully. You realize that?"

"Yes," wearily. "Yes, I realize everything."

"And you felt sorry, after I had gone, and so you changed your mind. Was
that it?"

"Yes."

There was no use in attempting justification. For the absolute surrender
I had made there was no justification. I might as well agree to
everything.

"And you will never, never treat me in that way again?"

"No."

"And you realize that I was right and understand that I am to do as I
please with my money?"

"Yes."

"And you beg my pardon?"

"Yes."

"Very well. Then I beg yours. I'm sorry, too."

Now I WAS surprised. I turned in my chair and looked at her.

"You beg my pardon?" I repeated. "For what?"

"Oh, for everything. I suppose I should have spoken to you before buying
those things. You might not have been prepared to pay then and--and that
would have been unpleasant for you. But--well, you see, I didn't think,
and you were so queer and cross when you followed me to the draper's
shop, that--that I--well, I was disagreeable, too. I am sorry."

"That's all right."

"Thank you. Is there anything else you wish to say?"

"No."

"You're sure?"

"Yes."

"Why did you buy the Slazenger racket instead of the other one?"

I had forgotten the "Slazenger" for the moment. She had caught me
unawares.

"Oh--oh," I stammered, "well, it was a much better racket and--and, as
you were buying one, it seemed foolish not to get the best."

"I know. I wanted the better one very much, but I thought it too
expensive. I did not feel that I should spend so much money."

"That's all right. The difference wasn't so much and I made the change
on my own responsibility. I--well, just consider that I bought the
racket and you bought none."

She regarded me intently. "You mean that you bought it as a present for
me?" she said slowly.

"Yes; yes, if you will accept it as such."

She was silent. I remembered perfectly well what she had said concerning
presents from me and I wondered what I should do with that racket when
she threw it back on my hands.

"Thank you," she said. "I will accept it. Thank you very much."

I was staggered, but I recovered sufficiently to tell her she was quite
welcome.

She turned to go. Then she turned back.

"Doctor Bayliss asked me to play tennis with him tomorrow morning," she
said. "May I?"

"May you? Why, of course you may, if you wish, I suppose. Why in the
world do you ask my permission?"

"Oh, don't you wish me to ask? I inferred from what you said at Wrayton
that you did wish me to ask permission concerning many things."

"I wished--I said--oh, don't be silly, please! Haven't we had silliness
enough for one afternoon, Miss Morley."

"My Christian name is Frances. May I play tennis with Doctor Bayliss
to-morrow morning, Uncle Hosea?"

"Of course you may. How could I prevent it, even if I wished, which I
don't."

"Thank you, Uncle Hosea. Mr. Worcester is going to play also. We need
a fourth. I can borrow another racket. Will you be my partner, Uncle
Hosea?"

"_I_? Your partner?"

"Yes. You play tennis; Auntie says so. Will you play to-morrow morning
as my partner?"

"But I play an atrocious game and--"

"So do I. We shall match beautifully. Thank you, Uncle Hosea."

Once more she turned to go, and again she turned.

"Is there anything else you wish me to do, Uncle Hosea?" she asked.

The repetition repeated was too much.

"Yes," I declared. "Stop calling me Uncle Hosea. I'm not your uncle."

"Oh, I know that; but you have told everyone that you were, haven't
you?"

I had, unfortunately, so I could make no better reply than to state
emphatically that I didn't like the title.

"Oh, very well," she said. "But 'Mr. Knowles' sounds so formal, don't
you think. What shall I call you? Never mind, perhaps I can think while
I am dressing for dinner. I will see you at dinner, won't I. Au revoir,
and thank you again for the racket--Cousin Hosy."

"I'm not your cousin, either--at least not more than a nineteenth
cousin. And if you begin calling me 'Hosy' I shall--I don't know what I
shall do."

"Dear me, how particular you are! Well then, au revoir--Kent."

When Hephzy came to the study I was still seated in the rector's chair.
She was brimful full of curiosity, I know, and ready to ask a dozen
questions at once. But I headed off the first of the dozen.

"Hephzy," I observed, "I have made no less than fifty solemn resolutions
since we met that girl--that Little Frank of yours. You've heard me make
them, haven't you."

"Why, yes, I suppose I have. If you mean resolutions to tell her the
truth about her father and put an end to the scrape we're in, I have,
certain."

"Yes; well, I've made another one now. Never, no matter what happens,
will I attempt to tell her a word concerning Strickland Morley or
her 'inheritance' or anything else. Every time I've tried I've made
a blessed idiot of myself and now I'm through. She can stay with us
forever and run us into debt to her heart's desire--I don't care. If
she ever learns the truth she sha'n't learn it from me. I'm incapable
of telling it. I haven't the sand of a yellow dog and I'm not going to
worry about it. I'm through, do you hear--through."

That was my newest resolution. It was a comfort to realize that THIS
resolution I should probably stick to.



CHAPTER XI

In Which Complications Become More Complicated


And stick to it I did. From that day--the day of our drive to
Wrayton--on through those wonderful summer days in which she and
Hephzy and I were together at the rectory, not once did I attempt to
remonstrate with my "niece" concerning her presumption in inflicting her
presence upon us or in spending her money, as she thought it--our money
as I knew it to be--as she saw fit. Having learned and relearned my
lesson--namely, that I lacked the courage to tell her the truth I had
so often declared must be told, having shifted the responsibility to
Hephzy's shoulders, having admitted and proclaimed myself, in that
respect at least, a yellow dog, I proceeded to take life as I found it,
as yellow dogs are supposed to do.

And, having thus weakly rid myself of care and responsibility, I began
to enjoy that life. To enjoy the freedom of it, and the novelty of
the surroundings, and the friendship of the good people who were our
neighbors. Yes, and to enjoy the home life, the afternoons on the tennis
court or the golf course, the evenings in the drawing-room, the "teas"
on the lawn--either our lawn or someone else's--the chats together
across the dinner-table; to enjoy it all; and, more astonishing still,
to accept the companionship of the young person who was responsible for
our living in that way as a regular and understood part of that life.

Not that I understood the young person herself; no Bayport quahaug, who
had shunned female companionship as I had for so long, could be expected
to understand the whims and changing moods of a girl like Frances
Morley. At times she charmed and attracted me, at others she tormented
and irritated me. She argued with me one moment and disagreed the next.
She laughed at Hephzy's and my American accent and idioms, but when
Bayliss, Junior, or one of the curates ventured to criticize an
"Americanism" she was quite as likely to declare that she thought it
"jolly" and "so expressive." Against my will I was obliged to join in
conversations, to take sides in arguments, to be present when callers
came, to make calls. I, who had avoided the society of young people
because, being no longer young, I felt out of place among them, was now
dragged into such society every day and almost every evening. I did
not want to be, but Little Frank seemed to find mischievous pleasure in
keeping me there.

"It is good for you," she said, on one occasion, when I had sneaked
off to my room and the company of the "British Poets." "Auntie says you
started on your travels in order to find something new to write about.
You'll never find it in those musty books; every poem in them is at
least seventy years old. If you are going to write of England and my
people you must know something about those that are alive."

"But, my dear young lady," I said, "I have no intention of writing of
your people, as you call them."

"You write of knights and lords and ladies and queens. You do--or you
did--and you certainly know nothing about THEM."

I was quite a bit ruffled. "Indeed!" said I. "You are quite sure of
that, are you?"

"I am," decidedly. "I have read 'The Queen's Amulet' and no queen
on earth--in England, surely--ever acted or spoke like that one. An
American queen might, if there was such a thing."

She laughed and, provoked as I was, I could not help laughing with her.
She had a most infectious laugh.

"My dear young lady--" I began again, but she interrupted me.

"Don't call me that," she protested. "You're not the Archbishop of
Canterbury visiting a girl's school and making a speech. You asked me
not to call you 'Uncle Hosea.' If you say 'dear young lady' to me again
I shall address you publicly as 'dear old Nunky.' Don't be silly."

I laughed again. "But you ARE young," I said.

"Well, what of it. Perhaps neither of us likes to be reminded of our
age. I'm sure you don't; I never saw anyone more sensitive on the
subject. There! there! put away those silly old books and come down to
the drawing-room. I'm going to sing. Mr. Worcester has brought in a lot
of new music."

Reluctantly I closed the volume I had in my hand.

"Very well," I said; "I'll come if you wish. But I shall only be in the
way, as I always am. Mr. Worcester didn't plead for my company, did he?
Do you know I think he will bear up manfully if I don't appear."

She regarded me with disapproval.

"Don't be childish in your old age," she snapped, "Are you coming?"

I went, of course, and--it may have been by way of reward--she sang
several old-fashioned, simple ballads which I had found in a dog's-eared
portfolio in the music cabinet and which I liked because my mother used
to sing them when I was a little chap. I had asked for them before and
she had ignored the request.

This time she sang them and Hephzy, sitting beside me in the darkest
corner reached over and laid a hand on mine.

"Her mother all over again," she whispered. "Ardelia used to sing
those."

Next day, on the tennis court, she played with Herbert Bayliss against
Worcester and me, and seemed to enjoy beating us six to one. The only
regret she expressed was that she and her partner had not made it a
"love set."

Altogether she was a decidedly vitalizing influence, an influence that
was, I began to admit to myself, a good one for me. I needed to be kept
alive and active, and here, in this wide-awake household, I couldn't be
anything else. The future did not look as dull and hopeless as it had
when I left Bayport. I even began to consider the possibilities
of another novel, to hope that I might write one. Jim Campbell's
"prescription," although working in quite a different way from that
which he and I had planned, was working nevertheless.

Matthews, at the Camford Street office, was forwarding my letters and
honoring my drafts with promptness. I received a note each week from
Campbell. I had written him all particulars concerning Little Frank and
our move to the rectory, and he professed to see in it only a huge joke.

"Tell your Miss Cahoon," he wrote, "that I am going to turn Spiritualist
right away. I believe in dreams now, and presentiments and all sorts
of things. I am trying to dream out a plot for a novel by you. Had a
roof-garden supper the other night and that gave me a fine start, but
I'll have to tackle another one before I get sufficient thrills to
furnish forth one of your gems. Seriously though, old man, this whole
thing will do you a world of good. Nothing short of an earthquake would
have shaken you out of your Cape Cod dumps and it looks to me as if you
and--what's her name--Hephzibah, had had the quake. What are you going
to do with the Little Frank person in the end? Can't you marry her off
to a wealthy Englishman? Or, if not that, why not marry her yourself?
She'd turn a dead quahaug into a live lobster, I should imagine, if
anyone could. Great idea! What?"

His "great idea" was received with the contempt it deserved. I tore up
the letter and threw it into the waste basket.

But Hephzy herself spoke of matrimony and Little Frank soon after
this. We were alone together; Frances had gone on a horseback ride with
Herbert Bayliss and a female cousin who was spending the day at "Jasmine
Gables."

"Hosy," said Hephzy, "do you realize the summer is half over? It's the
middle of July now."

So it was, although it seemed scarcely possible.

"Yes," she went on. "Our lease of this place is up the first of October.
We shall be startin' for home then, I presume likely, sha'n't we."

"I suppose so. We can't stay over here indefinitely. Life isn't all
skittles and--and tea."

"That's so. I don't know what skittles are, but I know what tea is. Land
sakes! I should say I did. They tell me the English national flower is
a rose. It ought to be a tea-plant blossom, if there is such a thing.
Hosy," with a sudden return to seriousness, "what are we goin' to do
with--with HER when the time comes for us to go?"

"I don't know," I answered.

"Are you going to take her to America with us?"

"I don't know."

"Humph! Well, we'll have to know then."

"I suppose we shall; but," defiantly, "I'm not going to worry about it
till the time comes."

"Humph! Well, you've changed, that's all I've got to say. 'Twan't so
long ago that you did nothin' BUT worry. I never saw anybody change the
way you have anyway."

"In what way?"

"In every way. You aren't like the same person you used to be. Why,
through that last year of ours in Bayport I used to think sometimes you
were older than I was--older in the way you thought and acted, I mean.
Now you act as if you were twenty-one. Cavortin' around, playin' tennis
and golf and everything! What has got into you?"

"I don't know. Jim Campbell's prescription is taking effect, I guess.
He said the change of air and environment would do me good. I tell you,
Hephzy, I have made up my mind to enjoy life while I can. I realize as
well as you do that the trouble is bound to come, but I'm not going to
let it trouble me beforehand. And I advise you to do the same."

"Well, I've been tryin' to, but sometimes I can't help wonderin' and
dreadin'. Perhaps I'm havin' my dread for nothin'. It may be that, by
the time we're ready to start for Bayport, Little Frank will be provided
for."

"Provided for? What do you mean?"

"I mean provided for by somebody else. There's at least two candidates
for the job: Don't you think so?"

"You mean--"

"I mean Mr. Worcester and Herbert Bayliss. That Worcester man is a gone
case, or I'm no judge. He's keepin' company with Frances, or would, if
she'd let him. 'Twould be funny if she married a curate, wouldn't it."

"Not very," I answered. "Married life on a curate's salary is not my
idea of humor."

"I suppose likely that's so. And I can't imagine her a minister's wife,
can you?"

I could not; nor, unless I was greatly mistaken, could the young lady
herself. In fact, anything as serious as marriage was far from her
thoughts at present, I judged. But Hephzy did not seem so sure.

"No," she went on, "I don't think the curate's got much chance. But
young Doctor Bayliss is different. He's good-lookin' and smart and he's
got prospects. I like him first-rate and I think Frances likes him,
too. I shouldn't wonder if THAT affair came to somethin'. Wouldn't it be
splendid if it did!"

I said that it would. And yet, even as I said it, I was conscious of a
peculiar feeling of insincerity. I liked young Bayliss. He was all that
Hephzy had said, and more. He would, doubtless, make a good husband for
any girl. And his engagement to Frances Morley might make easier the
explanation which was bound to come. I believed I could tell Herbert
Bayliss the truth concerning the ridiculous "claim." A man would be
susceptible to reason and proof; I could convince him. I should have
welcomed the possibility, but, somehow or other, I did not. Somehow or
other, the idea of her marrying anyone was repugnant to me. I did not
like to think of it.

"Oh dear!" sighed Hephzy; "if only things were different. If only she
knew all about her father and his rascality and was livin' with us
because she wanted to--if that was the way of it, it would be so
different. If you and I had really adopted her! If she only was your
niece."

"Nonsense!" I snapped. "She isn't my niece."

"I know it. That's what makes your goodness to her seem so wonderful
to me. You treat her as if you cared as much as I do. And of course you
don't. It isn't natural you should. She's my sister's child, and she's
hardly any relation to you at all. You're awful good, Hosy. She's
noticed it, too. I think she likes you now a lot better than she did;
she as much as said so. She's beginning to understand you."

"Nonsense!" I said again. Understand me! I didn't understand myself.
Nevertheless I was foolishly pleased to hear that she liked me. It was
pleasant to be liked even by one who was destined to hate me later on.

"I hope she won't feel too hard against us," continued Hephzy. "I can't
bear to think of her doin' that. She--she seems so near and dear to me
now. We--I shall miss her dreadfully when it's all over."

I think she hoped that I might say that I should miss her, also. But I
did not say anything of the kind.

I was resolved not to permit myself to miss her. Hadn't I been scheming
and planning to get rid of her ever since she thrust herself upon us? To
be sorry when she, at last, was gotten rid of would be too idiotic.

"Well," observed Hephzy, in conclusion, "perhaps she and Doctor Bayliss
will make a match after all. We ought to help it all we can, I suppose."

This conversation had various effects upon me. One was to make me
unaccountably "blue" for the rest of that day. Another was that I
regarded the visits of Worcester and Herbert Bayliss with a different
eye. I speculated foolishly concerning those visits and watched both
young gentlemen more closely.

I did not have to watch the curate long. Suddenly he ceased calling at
the rectory. Not altogether, of course, but he called only occasionally
and his manner toward my "niece" was oddly formal and constrained. She
was very kind to him, kinder than before, I thought, but there was a
difference in their manner. Hephzy, of course, had an explanation ready.

"She's given him his clearance papers," was her way of expressing it.
"She's told him that it's no use so far as he's concerned. Well, I never
did think she cared for him. And that leaves the course clear for the
doctor, doesn't it."

The doctor took advantage of the clear course. His calls and invitations
for rides and tennis and golf were more frequent than ever. She must
have understood; but, being a normal young woman, as well as a very,
very pretty one, she was a bit of a coquette and kept the boy--for,
after all, he was scarcely more than that--at arm's length and in a
state of alternate hope and despair. I shared his varying moods. If he
could not be sure of her feelings toward him, neither could I, and I
found myself wondering, wondering constantly. It was foolish for me
to wonder, of course. Why should I waste time in speculation on that
subject? Why should I care whether she married or not? What difference
did it make to me whom she married? I resolved not to think of her at
all. And that resolution, like so many I had made, amounted to nothing,
for I did think of her constantly.

And then to add a new complication to the already over-complicated
situation, came A. Carleton Heathcroft, Esquire.

Frances and Herbert Bayliss were scheduled for nine holes of golf on the
Manor House course that morning. I had had no intention of playing. My
projected novel had reached the stage where, plot building completed, I
had really begun the writing. The first chapter was finished and I had
intended beginning the second one that day. But, just as I seated myself
at the desk in the Reverend Cole's study, the young lady appeared and
insisted that the twosome become a threesome, that I leave my "stupid
old papers and pencils" and come for a round on the links. I protested,
of course, but she was in one of her wilful moods that morning and
declared that she would not play unless I did.

"It will do you good," she said. "You'll write all the better this
afternoon. Now, come along."

"Is Doctor Bayliss as anxious for my company as you seem to be?" I asked
maliciously.

She tossed her head. "Of course he is," she retorted. "Besides it
doesn't make any difference whether he is or not. _I_ want you to play,
and that is enough."

"Humph! he may not agree with you."

"Then he can play by himself. It will do him good, too. He takes
altogether too much for granted. Come! I am waiting."

So, after a few more fruitless protests, I reluctantly laid aside the
paper and pencils, changed to golfing regalia and, with my bag of clubs
on my shoulder, joined the two young people on the lawn.

Frances greeted me very cordially indeed. Her clubs--I had bought them
myself on one of my trips to London: having once yielded, in the matter
of the tennis outfit, I now bought various little things which I thought
would please her--were carried by Herbert Bayliss, who, of course, also
carried his own. His greeting was not as enthusiastic. He seemed rather
glum and out of sorts. Frances addressed most of her conversation to me
and I was inclined to think the pair had had some sort of disagreement,
what Hephzy would have called a "lover's quarrel," perhaps.

We walked across the main street of Mayberry, through the lane past the
cricket field, on by the path over the pastures, and entered the great
gate of the Manor, the gate with the Carey arms emblazoned above it.
Then a quarter of a mile over rolling hills, with rare shrubs and
flowers everywhere, brought us to the top of the hill at the edge of the
little wood which these English people persisted in calling a "forest."
The first tee was there. You drove--if you were skillful or lucky--down
the long slope to the green two hundred yards away. If you were neither
skillful nor lucky you were quite as likely to drive into the long grass
on either side of the fair green. Then you hunted for your ball and,
having found it, wasted more or less labor and temper in pounding it out
of the "rough."

At the first tee a man arrayed in the perfection of natty golfing togs
was practicing his "swing." A caddy was carrying his bag. This of itself
argued the swinger a person of privilege and consequence, for caddies on
those links were strictly forbidden by the Lady of the Manor. Why they
were forbidden she alone knew.

As we approached the tee the player turned to look at us. He was not a
Mayberryite and yet there was something familiar in his appearance. He
regarded us for a moment and then, dropping his driver, lounged toward
me and extended his hand.

"Oh, I say!" he exclaimed. "It is you, isn't it! How do you do?"

"Why, Mr. Heathcroft!" I said. "This is a surprise."

We shook hands. He, apparently, was not at all surprised.

"Heard about your being here, Knowles," he drawled. "My aunt told me;
that is, she said there were Americans at the rectory and when she
mentioned the name I knew, of course, it must be you. Odd you should
have located here, isn't it! Jolly glad to see you."

I said I was glad to see him. Then I introduced my companions.

"Bayliss and I have met before," observed Heathcroft. "Played a round
with him in the tournament last year. How do, Bayliss? Don't think
Miss Morley and I have met, though. Great pleasure, really. Are you a
resident of Mayberry, Miss Morley?"

Frances said that she was a temporary resident.

"Ah! visiting here, I suppose?"

"Yes. Yes, I am visiting. I am living at the rectory, also."

"Miss Morley is Mr. Knowles's niece," explained Bayliss.

Heathcroft seemed surprised.

"Indeed!" he drawled. "Didn't know you had a niece, Knowles. She wasn't
with you on the ship, now was she."

"Miss Morley had been living in England--here and on the Continent," I
answered. I could have kicked Bayliss for his officious explanation of
kinship. Now I should have that ridiculous "uncle" business to contend
with, in our acquaintance with Heathcroft as with the Baylisses and the
rest. Frances, I am sure, read my thoughts, for the corners of her mouth
twitched and she looked away over the course.

"Won't you ask Mr. Heathcroft to join our game--Uncle?" she said. She
had dropped the hated "Hosea," I am happy to say, but in the presence
of those outside the family she still addressed me as "Uncle." Of course
she could not do otherwise without arousing comment, but I did not like
it. Uncle! there was a venerable, antique quality in the term which
I resented more and more each time I heard it. It emphasized the
difference in our ages--and that difference needed no emphasis.

Heathcroft looked pleased at the invitation, but he hesitated in
accepting it.

"Oh, I shouldn't do that, really," he declared. "I should be in the way,
now shouldn't I."

Bayliss, to whom the remark was addressed, made no answer. I judged that
he did not care for the honor of the Heathcroft company. But Frances,
after a glance in his direction, answered for him.

"Oh, not in the least," she said. "A foursome is ever so much more
sporting than a threesome. Mr. Heathcroft, you and I will play Doctor
Bayliss and--Uncle. Shall we?"

Heathcroft declared himself delighted and honored. He looked the
former. He had scarcely taken his eyes from Miss Morley since their
introduction.

That match was hard fought. Our new acquaintance was a fair player
and he played to win. Frances was learning to play and had a natural
aptitude for the game. I played better than my usual form and I needed
to, for Bayliss played wretchedly. He "dubbed" his approaches and
missed easy putts. If he had kept his eye on the ball instead of on
his opponents he might have done better, but that he would not do. He
watched Heathcroft and Miss Morley continually, and the more he watched
the less he seemed to like what he saw.

Perhaps he was not altogether to blame, everything considered. Frances
was quite aware of the scrutiny and apparently enjoyed his discomfiture.
She--well, perhaps she did not precisely flirt with A. Carleton
Heathcroft, but she was very, very agreeable to him and exulted over the
winning of each hole without regard to the feelings of the losers. As
for Heathcroft, himself, he was quite as agreeable to her, complimented
her on her playing, insisted on his caddy's carrying her clubs, assisted
her over the rough places on the course, and generally acted the gallant
in a most polished manner. Bayliss and I were beaten three down.

Heathcroft walked with us as far as the lodge gate. Then he said good-by
with evident reluctance.

"Thank you so much for the game, Miss Morley," he said. "Enjoyed it
hugely. You play remarkably well, if you don't mind my saying so."

Frances was pleased. "Thank you," she answered. "I know it isn't
true--that about my playing--but it is awfully nice of you to say it. I
hope we may play together again. Are you staying here long?"

"Don't know, I'm sure. I am visiting my aunt and she will keep me as
long as she can. Seems to think I have neglected her of late. Of course
we must play again. By the way, Knowles, why don't you run over and meet
Lady Carey? She'll be awfully pleased to meet any friends of mine. Bring
Miss Morley with you. Perhaps she would care to see the greenhouses.
They're quite worth looking over, really. Like to have you, too,
Bayliss, of course."

Bayliss's thanks were not effusive. Frances, however, declared that
she should love to see the greenhouses. For my part, common politeness
demanded my asking Mr. Heathcroft to call at the rectory. He accepted
the invitation at once and heartily.

He called the very next day and joined us at tea. The following
afternoon we, Hephzy, Frances and I, visited the greenhouses. On this
occasion we met, for the first time, the lady of the Manor herself. Lady
Kent Carey was a stout, gray-haired person, of very decided manner and
a mannish taste in dress. She was gracious and affable, although I
suspected that much of her affability toward the American visitors was
assumed because she wished to please her nephew. A. Carleton Heathcroft,
Esquire, was plainly her ladyship's pride and pet. She called him
"Carleton, dear," and "Carleton, dear" was, in his aunt's estimation,
the model of everything desirable in man.

The greenhouses were spacious and the display of rare plants and flowers
more varied and beautiful than any I had ever seen. We walked through
the grounds surrounding the mansion, and viewed with becoming reverence
the trees planted by various distinguished personages, His Royal
Highness the Prince of Wales, Her late Majesty Queen Victoria,
Ex-President Carnot of France, and others. Hephzy whispered to me as we
were standing before the Queen Victoria specimen:

"I don't believe Queen Victoria ever planted that in the world, do
you, Hosy. She'd look pretty, a fleshy old lady like her, puffin' away
diggin' holes with a spade, now would she!"

I hastily explained the probability that the hole was dug by someone
else.

Hephzy nodded.

"I guess so," she added. "And the tree was put in by someone else and
the dirt put back by the same one. Queen Victoria planted that tree the
way Susanna Wixon said she broke my best platter, by not doin' a single
thing to it. I could plant a whole grove that way and not get a bit
tired."

Lady Carey bade us farewell at the fish-ponds and asked us to come
again. Her nephew, however, accompanied us all the way home--that is, he
accompanied Frances, while Hephzy and I made up the rear guard. The next
day he dropped in for some tennis. Herbert Bayliss was there before
him, so the tennis was abandoned, and a three-cornered chat on the
lawn substituted. Heathcroft treated the young doctor with a polite
condescension which would have irritated me exceedingly.

From then on, during the fortnight which followed, there was a great
deal of Heathcroft in the rectory social circle. And when he was
not there, it was fairly certain that he and Frances were together
somewhere, golfing, walking or riding. Sometimes I accompanied them,
sometimes Herbert Bayliss made one of the party. Frances' behavior to
the young doctor was tantalizingly contradictory. At times she was very
cordial and kind, at others almost cold and repellent. She kept the
young fellow in a state of uncertainty most of the time. She treated
Heathcroft much the same, but there was this difference between
them--Heathcroft didn't seem to mind; her whims appeared to amuse rather
than to annoy him. Bayliss, on the contrary, was either in the seventh
heaven of bliss or the subcellar of despair. I sympathized with him, to
an extent; the young lady's attitude toward me had an effect which, in
my case, was ridiculous. My reason told me that I should not care at
all whether she liked me or whether she didn't, whether I pleased or
displeased her. But I did care, I couldn't help it, I cared altogether
too much. A middle-aged quahaug should be phlegmatic and philosophical;
I once had a reputation for both qualities, but I seemed to possess
neither now.

I found myself speculating and wondering more than ever concerning the
outcome of all this. Was there anything serious in the wind at all?
Herbert Bayliss was in love with Frances Morley, that was obvious now.
But was she in love with him? I doubted it. Did she care in the least
for him? I did not know. She seemed to enjoy his society. I did not want
her to fall in love with A. Carleton Heathcroft, certainly. Nor, to be
perfectly honest, did I wish her to marry Bayliss, although I like him
much better than I did Lady Carey's blasé nephew. Somehow, I didn't
like the idea of her falling in love with anyone. The present state
of affairs in our household was pleasant enough. We three were happy
together. Why could not that happiness continue just as it was?

The answer was obvious: It could not continue. Each day that passed
brought the inevitable end nearer. My determination to put the thought
of that end from my mind and enjoy the present was shaken. In the
solitude of the study, in the midst of my writing, after I had gone to
my room for the night, I found my thoughts drifting toward the day in
October when, our lease of the rectory ended, we must pack up and go
somewhere. And when we went, would she go with us? Hardly. She
would demand the promised "settlement," and then--What then?
Explanations--quarrels--parting. A parting for all time. I had reached
a point where, like Hephzy, I would have gladly suggested a real
"adoption," the permanent addition to our family of Strickland Morley's
daughter, but she would not consent to that. She was proud--very proud.
And she idolized her father's memory. No, she would not remain under any
such conditions--I knew it. And the certainty of that knowledge
brought with it a pang which I could not analyze. A man of my age and
temperament should not have such feelings.

Hephzy did not fancy Heathcroft. She had liked him well enough during
our first acquaintance aboard the steamer, but now, when she knew him
better, she did not fancy him. His lofty, condescending manner irritated
her and, as he seemed to enjoy joking at her expense, the pair had some
amusing set-tos. I will say this for Hephzy: In the most of these she
gave at least as good as she received.

For example: we were sitting about the tea-table on the lawn, Hephzy,
Frances, Doctor and Mrs. Bayliss, their son, and Heathcroft. The
conversation had drifted to the subject of eatables, a topic suggested,
doubtless, by the plum cake and cookies on the table. Mr. Heathcroft was
amusing himself by poking fun at the American custom of serving cereals
at breakfast.

"And the variety is amazing," he declared. "Oats and wheat and corn!
My word! I felt like some sort of animal--a horse, by Jove! We feed our
horses that sort of thing over here, Miss Cahoon."

Hephzy sniffed. "So do we," she admitted, "but we eat 'em ourselves,
sometimes, when they're cooked as they ought to be. I think some
breakfast foods are fine."

"Do you indeed? What an extraordinary taste! Do you eat hay as well, may
I ask?"

"No, of course we don't."

"Why not? Why draw the line? I should think a bit of hay might be
the--ah--the crowning tit-bit to a breakfasting American. Your horses
and donkeys enjoy it quite as much as they do oats, don't they?"

"Don't know, I'm sure. I'm neither a horse nor a donkey, I hope."

"Yes. Oh, yes. But I assure you, Miss Morley, I had extraordinary
experiences on the other side. I visited in a place called Milwaukee and
my host there insisted on my trying a new cereal each morning. We did
the oats and the corn and all the rest and, upon my word, I expected
the hay. It was the only donkey food he didn't have in the house, and I
don't see why he hadn't provided a supply of that."

"Perhaps he didn't know you were comin'," observed Hephzy, cheerfully.
"Won't you have another cup, Mrs. Bayliss? Or a cooky or somethin'?"

The doctor's wife consented to the refilling of her cup.

"I suppose--what do you call them?--cereals, are an American custom,"
she said, evidently aware that her hostess's feelings were ruffled.
"Every country has its customs, so travelers say. Even our own has some,
doubtless, though I can't recall any at the moment."

Heathcroft stroked his mustache.

"Oh," he drawled, "we have some, possibly; but our breakfasts are not as
queer as the American breakfasts. You mustn't mind my fun, Miss Cahoon,
I hope you're not offended."

"Not a bit," was the calm reply. "We humans ARE animals, after all, I
suppose, and some like one kind of food and some another. Donkeys like
hay and pigs like sweets, and I don't know as I hadn't just as soon live
in a stable as a sty. Do help yourself to the cake, Mr. Heathcroft."

No, our aristocratic acquaintance did not, as a general rule, come out
ahead in these little encounters and I more than once was obliged to
suppress a chuckle at my plucky relative's spirited retorts. Frances,
too, seemed to appreciate and enjoy the Yankee victories. Her prejudice
against America had, so far as outward expression went, almost
disappeared. She was more likely to champion than criticize our ways and
habits now.

But, in spite of all this, she seemed to enjoy the Heathcroft society.
The two were together a great deal. The village people noticed the
intimacy and comments reached my ears which were not intended for them.
Hephzy and I had some discussions on the subject.

"You don't suppose he means anything serious, do you, Hosy?" she asked.
"Or that she thinks he does?"

"I don't know," I answered. I didn't like the idea any better than she
did.

"I hope not. Of course he's a big man around here. When his aunt dies
he'll come in for the estate and the money, so everybody says. And
if Frances should marry him she'd be--I don't know whether she'd be a
'Lady' or not, but she'd have an awful high place in society."

"I suppose she would. But I hope she won't do it."

"So do I, for poor young Doctor Bayliss's sake, if nothin' else. He's so
good and so patient with it all. And he's just eaten up with jealousy;
anybody can see that. I'm scared to death that he and this Heathcroft
man will have some sort of--of a fight or somethin'. That would be
awful, wouldn't it!"

I did not answer. My apprehensions were not on Herbert Bayliss's
account. He could look out for himself. It was Frances' happiness I was
thinking of.

"Hosy," said Hephzy, very seriously indeed, "there's somethin' else. I'm
not sure that Mr. Heathcroft is serious at all. Somethin' Mrs. Bayliss
said to me makes me feel a little mite anxious. She said Carleton
Heathcroft was a great lady's man. She told me some things about him
that--that--Well, I wish Frances wasn't so friendly with him, that's
all."

I shrugged my shoulders, pretending more indifference than I felt.

"She's a sensible girl," said I. "She doesn't need a guardian."

"I know, but--but he's way up in society, Lady Carey's heir and all
that. She can't help bein' flattered by his attentions to her. Any girl
would be, especially an English girl that thinks as much of class and
all that as they do over here and as she does. I wish I knew how she did
feel toward him."

"Why don't you ask her?"

Hephzy shook her head. "I wouldn't dare," she said. "She'd take my head
off. We're on awful thin ice, you and I, with her, as it is. She treats
us real nicely now, but that's because we don't interfere. If I should
try just once to tell her what she ought to do she'd flare up like a
bonfire. And then do the other thing to show her independence."

"I suppose she would," I admitted, gloomily.

"I know she would. No, we mustn't say anything to her. But--but you
might say somethin' to him, mightn't you. Just hint around and find
out what he does mean by bein' with her so much. Couldn't you do that,
Hosy?"

I smiled. "Possibly I could, but I sha'n't," I answered. "He would tell
me to go to perdition, probably, and I shouldn't blame him."

"Why no, he wouldn't. He thinks you're her uncle, her guardian, you
know. You'd have a right to do it."

I did not propose to exercise that right, and I said so, emphatically.
And yet, before that week was ended, I did do what amounted to that very
thing. The reason which led to this rash act on my part was a talk I had
with Lady Kent Carey.

I met her ladyship on the putting green of the ninth hole of the golf
course. I was playing a round alone. She came strolling over the green,
dressed as mannishly as usual, but carrying a very feminine parasol,
which by comparison with the rest of her get-up, looked as out of place
as a silk hat on the head of a girl in a ball dress. She greeted me very
affably, waited until I putted out, and then sat beside me on the bench
under the big oak and chatted for some time.

The subject of her conversation was her nephew. She was, apparently,
only too glad to talk about him at any time. He was her dead sister's
child and practically the only relative she had. He seemed like a son to
her. Such a charming fellow, wasn't he, now? And so considerate and kind
to her. Everyone liked him; he was a great favorite.

"And he is very fond of you, Mr. Knowles," she said. "He enjoys your
acquaintance so much. He says that there is a freshness and novelty
about you Americans which is quite delightfully amusing. This
Miss--ah--Cahoon--your cousin, I think she is--is a constant joy to him.
He never tires of repeating her speeches. He does it very well, don't
you think. He mimics the American accent wonderfully."

I agreed that the Heathcroft American accent was wonderful indeed. It
was all that and more. Lady Carey went on.

"And this Miss Morley, your niece," she said, poking holes in the turf
with the tip of her parasol, "she is a charming girl, isn't she. She and
Carleton are quite friendly, really."

"Yes," I admitted, "they seem to be."

"Yes. Tell me about your niece, Mr. Knowles. Has she lived in England
long? Who were her parents?"

I dodged the ticklish subject as best I could, told her that Frances'
father was an Englishman, her mother an American, and that most of the
young lady's life had been spent in France. I feared more searching
questions, but she did not ask them.

"I see," she said, nodding, and was silent for a moment. Then she
changed the subject, returning once more to her beloved Carleton.

"He's a dear boy," she declared. "I am planning great things for him.
Some day he will have the estate here, of course. And I am hoping to
get him the seat in Parliament when our party returns to power, as it
is sure to do before long. He will marry then; in fact everything is
arranged, so far as that goes. Of course there is no actual engagement
as yet, but we all understand."

I had been rather bored, now I was interested.

"Indeed!" said I. "And may I ask who is the fortunate young lady?"

"A daughter of an old friend of ours in Warwickshire--a fine family, one
of the oldest in England. She and Carleton have always been so fond of
each other. Her parents and I have considered the affair settled for
years. The young people will be so happy together."

Here was news. I offered congratulations.

"Thank you so much," she said. "It is pleasant to know that his future
is provided for. Margaret will make him a good wife. She worships him.
If anything should happen to--ah--disturb the arrangement her heart
would break, I am sure. Of course nothing will happen. I should not
permit it."

I made some comment, I don't remember what. She rose from the bench.

"I have been chatting about family affairs and matchmaking like a
garrulous old woman, haven't I," she observed, smiling. "So silly of me.
You have been charmingly kind to listen, Mr. Knowles. Forgive me, won't
you. Carleton dear is my one interest in life and I talk of him on the
least excuse, or without any. So sorry to have inflicted my garrulity
upon you. I may count upon you entering our invitation golf tournament
next month, may I not? Oh, do say yes. Thank you so much. Au revoir."

She moved off, as imposing and majestic as a frigate under full sail. I
walked slowly toward home, thinking hard.

I should have been flattered, perhaps, at her taking me into confidence
concerning her nephew's matrimonial projects. If I had believed the
"garrulity," as she called it, to have been unintentional, I might have
been flattered. But I did not so believe. I was pretty certain there was
intention in it and that she expected Frances and Hephzy and me to take
it as a warning. Carleton dear was, in her eyes, altogether too friendly
with the youngest tenant in Mayberry rectory. The "garrulity" was a
notice to keep hands off.

I was not incensed at her; she amused me, rather. But with Heathcroft I
was growing more incensed every moment. Engaged to be married, was he!
He and this Warwickshire girl of "fine family" had been "so fond" of
each other for years. Everything was understood, was it? Then what did
he mean by his attentions to Frances, attentions which half of Mayberry
was probably discussing at the moment? The more I considered his conduct
the angrier I became. It was the worst time possible for a meeting with
A. Carleton Heathcroft, and yet meet him I did at the loneliest and most
secluded spot in the hedged lane leading to the lodge gate.

He greeted me cordially enough, if his languid drawl could be called
cordial.

"Ah, Knowles," he said. "Been doing the round I see. A bit stupid by
oneself, I should think. What? Miss Morley and I have been riding. Had a
ripping canter together."

It was an unfortunate remark, just at that time. It had the effect of
spurring my determination to the striking point. I would have it out
with him then and there.

"Heathcroft," I said, bluntly, "I am not sure that I approve of Miss
Morley's riding with you so often."

He regarded me with astonishment.

"You don't approve!" he repeated. "And why not? There's no danger. She
rides extremely well."

"It's not a question of danger. It is one of proprieties, if I must
put it that way. She is a young woman, hardly more than a girl, and she
probably does not realize that being seen in your company so frequently
is likely to cause comment and gossip. Her aunt and I realize it,
however."

His expression of surprise was changing to one of languid amusement.

"Really!" he drawled. "By Jove! I say, Knowles, am I such a dangerously
fascinating character? You flatter me."

"I don't know anything concerning your character. I do know that there
is gossip. I am not accusing you of anything. I have no doubt you have
been merely careless. Your intentions may have been--"

He interrupted me. "My intentions?" he repeated. "My dear fellow, I have
no intentions. None whatever concerning your niece, if that is what you
mean. She is a jolly pretty girl and jolly good company. I like her and
she seems to like me. That is all, upon my word it is."

He was quite sincere, I was convinced of it. But I had gone too far to
back out.

"Then you have been thoughtless--or careless," I said. "It seems to me
that you should have considered her."

"Considered her! Oh, I say now! Why should I consider her pray?"

"Why shouldn't you? You are much older than she is and a man of the
world besides. And you are engaged to be married, or so I am told."

His smile disappeared.

"Now who the devil told you that?" he demanded.

"I was told, by one who should know, that you were engaged, or what
amounts to the same thing. It is true, isn't it?"

"Of course it's true! But--but--why, good God, man! you weren't under
the impression that I was planning to marry your niece, were you? Oh, I
say! that would be TOO good!"

He laughed heartily. He did not appear in the least annoyed or angry,
but seemed to consider the whole affair a huge joke. I failed to see the
joke, myself.

"Oh, no," he went on, before I could reply, "not that, I assure you. One
can't afford luxuries of that kind, unless one is a luckier beggar than
I am. Auntie is attending to all that sort of thing. She has me booked,
you know, and I can't afford to play the high-spirited independent with
her. I should say not! Rather!"

He laughed again.

"So you think I've been a bit too prevalent in your niece's
neighborhood, do you?" he observed. "Sorry. I'd best keep off the lawn a
bit, you mean to say, I suppose. Very well! I'll mind the notice boards,
of course. Very glad you spoke. Possibly I have been a bit careless. No
offence meant, Knowles, and none taken, I trust."

"No," I said, with some reluctance. "I'm glad you understand my--our
position, and take my--my hint so well. I disliked to give it, but I
thought it best that we have a clear understanding."

"Of course! Stern uncle and pretty niece, and all that sort of thing.
You Americans are queer beggars. You don't strike me as the usual type
of stern uncle at all, Knowles. Oh, by the way, does the niece know that
uncle is putting up the notice boards?"

"Of course she doesn't," I replied, hastily.

His smile broadened. "I wonder what she'll say when she finds it out,"
he observed. "She has never struck me as being greatly in awe of
her relatives. I should call HER independent, if I was asked. Well,
farewell. You and I may have some golf together still, I presume? Good!
By-by."

He sauntered on, his serene coolness and calm condescension apparently
unruffled. I continued on my way also. But my serenity had vanished. I
had the feeling that I had come off second-best in the encounter. I had
made a fool of myself, I feared. And more than all, I wondered, as he
did, what Frances Morley would say when she learned of my interference
in her personal affairs.

I foresaw trouble--more trouble.



CHAPTER XII

In Which the Truth Is Told at Last


I said nothing to Hephzibah or Frances of my talk with Lady Carey or
with Heathcroft. I was not proud of my share in the putting up of "the
notice boards." I did not mention meeting either the titled aunt or the
favored nephew. I kept quiet concerning them both and nervously awaited
developments.

There were none immediately. That day and the next passed and nothing of
importance happened. It did seem to me, however, that Frances was rather
quiet during luncheon on the third day. She said very little and
several times I found her regarding me with an odd expression. My guilty
conscience smote me and I expected to be asked questions answering which
would be difficult. But the questions were not asked--then. I went to my
study and attempted to write; the attempt was a failure.

For an hour or so I stared hopelessly at the blank paper. I hadn't an
idea in my head, apparently. At last I threw down the pencil and gave up
the battle for the day. I was not in a writing mood. I lit my pipe, and,
moving to the arm-chair by the window, sat there, looking out at the
lawn and flower beds. No one was in sight except Grimmer, the gardener,
who was trimming a hedge.

I sat there for some time, smoking and thinking. Hephzy dressed in her
best, passed the window on her way to the gate. She was going for a call
in the village and had asked me to accompany her, but I declined. I did
not feel like calling.

My pipe, smoked out, I put in my pocket. If I could have gotten rid of
my thoughts as easily I should have been happier, but that I could
not do. They were strange thoughts, hopeless thoughts, ridiculous,
unavailing thoughts. For me, Kent Knowles, quahaug, to permit myself to
think in that way was worse than ridiculous; it was pitiful. This was a
stern reality, this summer of mine in England, not a chapter in one of
my romances. They ended happily; it was easy to make them end in that
way. But this--this was no romance, or, if it was, I was but the comic
relief in the story, the queer old bachelor who had made a fool of
himself. That was what I was, an old fool. Well, I must stop being
a fool before it was too late. No one knew I was such a fool. No one
should know--now or ever.

And having reached this philosophical conclusion I proceeded to dream
of dark eyes looking into mine across a breakfast table--our table; of a
home in Bayport--our home; of someone always with me, to share my life,
my hopes, to spur me on to a work worth while, to glory in my triumphs
and comfort me in my reverses; to dream of what might have been if--if
it were not absolutely impossible. Oh, fool, fool, fool!

A quick step sounded on the gravel walk outside the window. I knew the
step, should have recognized it anywhere. She was walking rapidly toward
the house, her head bent and her eyes fixed upon the path before
her. Grimmer touched his hat and said "Good afternoon, miss," but she
apparently did not hear him. She passed on and I heard her enter the
hall. A moment later she knocked at the study door.

She entered the room in answer to my invitation and closed the door
behind her. She was dressed in her golfing costume, a plain white
shirtwaist--blouse, she would have called it--a short, dark skirt and
stout boots. The light garden hat was set upon her dark hair and her
cheeks were flushed from rapid walking. The hat and waist and skirt were
extremely becoming. She was pretty--yes, beautiful--and young. I was far
from beautiful and far from young. I make this obvious statement because
it was my thought at the moment.

She did not apologize for interrupting me, as she usually did when she
entered the study during my supposed working periods. This was strange,
of itself, and my sense of guilt caused me to fear all sorts of things.
But she smiled and answered my greeting pleasantly enough and, for the
moment, I experienced relief. Perhaps, after all, she had not learned of
my interview with Heathcroft.

"I have come to talk with you," she began. "May I sit down?"

"Certainly. Of course you may," I answered, smiling as cheerfully as I
could. "Was it necessary to ask permission?"

She took a chair and I seated myself in the one from which I had just
risen. For a moment she was silent. I ventured a remark.

"This begins very solemnly," I said. "Is the talk to be so very
serious?"

She was serious enough and my apprehensions returned.

"I don't know," she answered. "I hope it may not be serious at all, Mr.
Knowles."

I interrupted. "Mr. Knowles!" I repeated. "Whew! this IS a formal
interview. I thought the 'Mr. Knowles' had been banished along with
'Uncle Hosea'."

She smiled slightly then. "Perhaps it has," she said. "I am just a
little troubled--or puzzled--and I have come to you for advice."

"Advice?" I repeated. "I'm afraid my advice isn't worth much. What sort
of advice do you want?"

"I wanted to know what I should do in regard to an invitation I have
received to motor with Doctor Bayliss--Doctor Herbert Bayliss. He has
asked me to go with him to Edgeboro to-morrow. Should I accept?"

I hesitated. Then: "Alone?" I asked.

"No. His cousin, Miss Tomlinson, will go also."

"I see no reason why you should not, if you wish to go."

"Thank you. But suppose it was alone?"

"Then--Well, I presume that would be all right, too. You have motored
with him before, you know."

As a matter of fact, I couldn't see why she asked my opinion in such a
matter. She had never asked it before. Her next remark was more puzzling
still.

"You approve of Doctor Bayliss, don't you," she said. It did seem to me
there was a hint of sarcasm in her tone.

"Yes--certainly," I answered. I did approve of young Bayliss, generally
speaking; there was no sane reason why I should not have approved of him
absolutely.

"And you trust me? You believe me capable of judging what is right or
wrong?"

"Of course I do."

"If you didn't you would not presume to interfere in my personal
affairs? You would not think of doing that, of course?"

"No--o," more slowly.

"Why do you hesitate? Of course you realize that you have no shadow of
right to interfere. You know perfectly well why I consented to remain
here for the present and why I have remained?"

"Yes, yes, I know that."

"And you wouldn't presume to interfere?"

"Doctor Herbert Bayliss is--"

She sprang to her feet. She was not smiling now.

"Stop!" she interrupted, sharply. "Stop! I did not come to discuss
Doctor Bayliss. I have asked you a question. I ask you if you would
presume to interfere in my personal affairs. Would you?"

"Why, no. That is, I--"

"You say that to me! YOU!"

"Frances, if you mean that I have interfered between you and the Doctor,
I--"

She stamped her foot.

"Stop! Oh, stop!" she cried. "You know what I mean. What did you say to
Mr. Heathcroft? Do you dare tell me you have not interfered there?"

It had come, the expected. Her smile and the asking for "advice" had
been apparently but traps to catch me off my guard. I had been prepared
for some such scene as this, but, in spite of my preparations,
I hesitated and faltered. I must have looked like the meanest of
pickpockets caught in the act.

"Frances," I stammered, "Frances--"

Her fury took my breath away.

"Don't call me Frances," she cried. "How dare you call me that?"

Perturbed as I was I couldn't resist making the obvious retort.

"You asked me to," I said.

"I asked you! Yes, I did. You had been kind to me, or I thought you
had, and I--I was foolish. Oh, how I hate myself for doing it! But I
was beginning to think you a gentleman. In spite of everything, I was
beginning to--And now! Oh, at least I thought you wouldn't LIE to me."

I rose now.

"Frances--Miss Morley," I said, "do you realize what you are saying?"

"Realize it! Oh," with a scornful laugh, "I realize it quite well; you
may be sure of that. Don't you like the word? What else do you call a
denial of what we both know to be the truth. You did see Mr. Heathcroft.
You did speak with him."

"Yes, I did."

"You did! You admit it!"

"I admit it. But did he tell you what I said?"

"He did not. Mr. Heathcroft IS a gentleman. He told me very little and
that only in answer to my questions. I knew you and he met the other
day. You did not mention it, but you were seen together, and when he did
not come for the ride to which he had invited me I thought it strange.
And his note to me was stranger still. I began to suspect then, and when
we next met I asked him some questions. He told me next to nothing, but
he is honorable and he does not LIE. I learned enough, quite enough."

I wondered if she had learned of the essential thing, of Heathcroft's
engagement.

"Did he tell you why I objected to his intimacy with you?" I asked.

"He told me nothing! Nothing! The very fact that you had objected, as
you call it, was sufficient. Object! YOU object to my doing as I please!
YOU meddle with my affairs! And humiliate me in the eyes of my friends!
I could--I could die of shame! I... And as if I did not know your
reasons. As if they were not perfectly plain."

The real reason could not be plain to her. Heathcroft evidently had not
told her of the Warwickshire heiress.

"I don't understand," I said, trying my hardest to speak calmly. "What
reasons?"

"Must I tell you? Did you OBJECT to my friendship with Doctor Bayliss,
pray?"

"Doctor Bayliss! Why, Doctor Bayliss is quite different. He is a fine
young fellow, and--"

"Yes," with scornful sarcasm, "so it would appear. You and my aunt and
he have the most evident of understandings. You need not praise him
for my benefit. It is quite apparent how you both feel toward Doctor
Bayliss. I am not blind. I have seen how you have thrown him in my
company, and made opportunities for me to meet him. Oh, of course, I can
see! I did not believe it at first. It was too absurd, too outrageously
impertinent. I COULDN'T believe it. But now I know."

This was a little too much. The idea that I--_I_ had been playing the
matchmaker for Bayliss's benefit made me almost as angry as she was.

"Nonsense!" I declared. "Miss Morley, this is too ridiculous to go on.
I did speak to Mr. Heathcroft. There was a reason, a good reason, for my
doing so."

"I do not wish to hear your reason, as you call it. The fact that you
did speak to him concerning me is enough. Mr. Knowles, this arrangement
of ours, my living here with you, has gone on too long. I should have
known it was impossible in the beginning. But I did not know. I was
alone--and ill--and I did need friends--I was SO alone. I had been
through so much. I had struggled and suffered and--"

Again, as in our quarrel at Wrayton, she was on the verge of tears. And
again that unreasonable conscience of mine smote me. I longed to--Well,
to prove myself the fool I was.

But she did not give me the opportunity. Before I could speak or move
she was on her way to the door.

"This ends it," she said. "I shall go away from here at once. I
shall put the whole matter in my solicitor's hands. This is an end of
forbearance and all the rest. I am going. You have made me hate you and
despise you. I only hope that--that some day you will despise yourself
as much. But you won't," scornfully. "You are not that sort."

The door closed. She was gone. Gone! And soon--the next day at the
latest--she would have been gone for good. This WAS the end.

I walked many miles that day, how many I do not know. Dinner was waiting
for me when I returned, but I could not eat. I rose from the table, went
to the study and sat there, alone with my misery. I was torn with the
wildest longings and desires. One, I think, was to kill Heathcroft
forthwith. Another was to kill myself.

There came another knock at the door. This time I made no answer. I did
not want to see anyone.

But the door opened, nevertheless, and Hephzy came in. She crossed the
room and stood by my chair.

"What is it, Hosy?" she said, gently. "You must tell me all about it."

I made some answer, told her to go away and leave me, I think. If that
was it she did not heed. She put her hand upon my shoulder.

"You must tell me, Hosy," she said. "What has happened? You and Frances
have had some fallin' out, I know. She wouldn't come to dinner, either,
and she won't see me. She's up in her room with the door shut. Tell me,
Hosy; you and I have fought each other's battles for a good many years.
You can't fight this one alone; I've got to do my share. Tell me,
dearie, please."

And tell her I did. I did not mean to, and yet somehow the thought that
she was there, so strong and quiet and big-hearted and sensible, was, if
not a comfort to me, at least a marvelous help. I began by telling her a
little and then went on to tell her all, of my talk with Lady Carey, my
meeting with Heathcroft, the scene with Frances--everything, word for
word.

When it was over she patted my shoulder.

"You did just right, Hosy," she said. "There was nothin' else you could
do. I never liked that Heathcroft man. And to think of him, engaged to
another girl, trottin' around with Frances the way he has. I'D like to
talk with him. He'd get a piece of MY mind."

"He's all right enough," I admitted grudgingly. "He took my warning in a
very good sort, I must say. He has never meant anything serious. It was
just his way, that's all. He was amusing himself in her company,
and doubtless thought she would be flattered with his aristocratic
attentions."

"Humph! Well, I guess she wouldn't be if she'd known of that other girl.
You didn't tell her that, you say."

"I couldn't. I think I should, perhaps, if she would have listened. I'm
glad I didn't. It isn't a thing for me to tell her."

"I understand. But she ought to know it, just the same. And she ought to
know how good you've been to her. Nobody could be better. She must know
it. Whether she goes or whether she doesn't she must know that."

I seized her arm. "You mustn't tell her a word," I cried. "She mustn't
know. It is better she should go. Better for her and for me--My God,
yes! so much better for me."

I could feel the arm on my shoulder start. Hephzy bent down and looked
into my face. I tried to avoid the scrutiny, but she looked and looked.
Then she drew a long breath.

"Hosy!" she exclaimed. "Hosy!"

"Don't speak to me. Oh, Hephzy," with a bitter laugh, "did you ever
dream there could be such a hopeless lunatic as I am! You needn't say
it. I know the answer."

"Hosy! Hosy! you poor boy!"

She kissed me, soothing me as she had when I came home to our empty
house at the time of my mother's death. That memory came back to me even
then.

"Forgive me, Hephzy," I said. "I am ashamed of myself, of course. And
don't worry. Nobody knows this but you and I, and nobody else shall. I'm
going to behave and I'm going to be sensible. Just forget all this for
my sake. I mean to forget it, too."

But Hephzy shook her head.

"It's all my fault," she said. "I'm to blame more than anybody else.
It was me that brought her here in the first place and me that kept you
from tellin' her the truth in the beginnin'. So it's me who must tell
her now."

"Hephzy!"

"Oh, I don't mean the truth about--about what you and I have just said,
Hosy. She'll never know that, perhaps. Certainly she'll never know it
from me. But the rest of it she must know. This has gone far enough. She
sha'n't go away from this house misjudgin' you, thinkin' you're a thief,
as well as all the rest of it. That she sha'n't do. I shall see to
that--now."

"Hephzy, I forbid you to--"

"You can't forbid me, Hosy. It's my duty, and I've been a silly, wicked
old woman and shirked that duty long enough. Now don't worry any more.
Go to your room, dearie, and lay down. If you get to sleep so much the
better. Though I guess," with a sigh, "we sha'n't either of us sleep
much this night."

Before I could prevent her she had left the room. I sprang after her, to
call her back, to order her not to do the thing she had threatened.
But, in the drawing-room, Charlotte, the housemaid, met me with an
announcement.

"Doctor Bayliss--Doctor Herbert Bayliss--is here, sir," she said. "He
has called to see you."

"To see me?" I repeated, trying hard to recover some measure of
composure. "To see Miss Frances, you mean."

"No, sir. He says he wants to see you alone. He's in the hall now, sir."

He was; I could hear him. Certainly I never wished to see anyone less,
but I could not refuse.

"Ask him to come into the study, Charlotte," said I.

The young doctor found me sitting in the chair by the desk. The long
English twilight was almost over and the room was in deep shadow.
Charlotte entered and lighted the lamp. I was strongly tempted to order
her to desist, but I could scarcely ask my visitor to sit in the dark,
however much I might prefer to do so. I compromised by moving to a seat
farther from the lamp where my face would be less plainly visible. Then,
Bayliss having, on my invitation, also taken a chair, I waited for him
to state his business.

It was not easy to state, that was plain. Ordinarily Herbert Bayliss was
cool and self-possessed. I had never before seen him as embarrassed as
he seemed to be now. He fidgeted on the edge of the chair, crossed and
recrossed his legs, and, finally, offered the original remark that it
had been an extremely pleasant day. I admitted the fact and again there
was an interval of silence. I should have helped him, I suppose. It
was quite apparent that his was no casual call and, under ordinary
circumstances, I should have been interested and curious. Now I did
not care. If he would say his say and go away and leave me I should be
grateful.

And, at last, he said it. His next speech was very much nearer the
point.

"Mr. Knowles," he said, "I have called to--to see you concerning your
niece, Miss Morley. I--I have come to ask your consent to my asking her
to marry me."

I was not greatly surprised. I had vaguely suspected his purpose when
he entered the room. I had long foreseen the likelihood of some such
interview as this, had considered what I should say when the time came.
But now it had come, I could say nothing. I sat in silence, looking at
him.

Perhaps he thought I did not understand. At any rate he hastened to
explain.

"I wish your permission to marry your niece," he repeated. "I have no
doubt you are surprised. Perhaps you fancy I am a bit hasty. I suppose
you do. But I--I care a great deal for her, Mr. Knowles. I will try
to make her a good husband. Not that I am good enough for her, of
course--no one could be that, you know; but I'll try and--and--"

He was very red in the face and floundered, amid his jerky sentences,
like a newly-landed fish, but he stuck to it manfully. I could not help
admiring the young fellow. He was so young and handsome and so honest
and boyishly eager in his embarrassment. I admired him--yes, but I
hated him, too, hated him for his youth and all that it meant, I was
jealous--bitterly, wickedly jealous, and of all jealousy, hopeless,
unreasonable jealousy is the worst, I imagine.

He went on to speak of his ambitions and prospects. He did not intend to
remain always in Mayberry as his father's assistant, not he. He should
remain for a time, of course, but then he intended to go back to London.
There were opportunities there. A fellow with the right stuff in him
could get on there. He had friends in the London hospitals and they had
promised to put chances his way. He should not presume to marry Frances
at once, of course. He would not be such a selfish goat as that. All he
asked was that, my permission granted, she would be patient and wait a
bit until he got on his feet, professionally he meant to say, and then--

I interrupted.

"One moment," said I, trying to appear calm and succeeding remarkably
well, considering the turmoil in my brain; "just a moment, Bayliss, if
you please. Have you spoken to Miss Morley yet? Do you know her feelings
toward you?"

No, he had not. Of course he wouldn't do that until he and I had had our
understanding. He had tried to be honorable and all that. But--but he
thought she did not object to him. She--well, she had seemed to like him
well enough. There had been times when he thought she--she--

"Well, you see, sir," he said, "she's a girl, of course, and a fellow
never knows just what a girl is going to say or do. There are times when
one is sure everything is quite right and then that it is all wrong. But
I have hoped--I believe--She's such a ripping girl, you know. She would
not flirt with a chap and--I don't mean flirt exactly, she isn't a
flirt, of course--but--don't you think she likes me, now?"

"I have no reason to suppose she doesn't," I answered grudgingly. After
all, he was acting very honorably; I could scarcely do less.

He seemed to find much comfort in my equivocal reply.

"Thanks, thanks awfully," he exclaimed. "I--I--by Jove, you know, I
can't tell you how I like to hear you say that! I'm awfully grateful
to you, Knowles, I am really. And you'll give me permission to speak to
her?"

I smiled; it was not a happy smile, but there was a certain ironic humor
in the situation. The idea of anyone's seeking my "permission" in any
matter concerning Frances Morley. He noticed the smile and was, I think,
inclined to be offended.

"Is it a joke?" he asked. "I say, now! it isn't a joke to me."

"Nor to me, I assure you," I answered, seriously. "If I gave that
impression it was a mistaken one. I never felt less like joking."

He put his own interpretation on the last sentence. "I'm sorry," he
said, quickly. "I beg your pardon. I understand, of course. You're very
fond of her; no one could help being that, could they. And she is your
niece."

I hesitated. I was minded to blurt out the fact that she was not my
niece at all; that I had no authority over her in any way. But what
would be the use? It would lead only to explanations and I did not
wish to make explanations. I wanted to get through with the whole inane
business and be left alone.

"But you haven't said yes, have you," he urged. "You will say it, won't
you?"

I nodded. "You have my permission, so far as that goes," I answered.

He sprang to his feet and seized my hand.

"That's topping!" he cried, his face radiant. "I can't thank you
enough."

"That's all right. But there is one thing more. Perhaps it isn't my
affair, and you needn't answer unless you wish. Have you consulted your
parents? How do they feel about your--your intentions?"

His expression changed. My question was answered before he spoke.

"No," he admitted, "I haven't told them yet. I--Well, you see, the Mater
and Father have been making plans about my future, naturally. They have
some silly ideas about a friend of the family that--Oh, she's a nice
enough girl; I like her jolly well, but she isn't Miss Morley. Well,
hardly! They'll take it quite well. By Jove!" excitedly, "they must.
They've GOT to. Oh, they will. And they're very fond of--of Frances."

There seemed nothing more for me to say, nothing at that time, at any
rate. I, too, rose. He shook my hand again.

"You've been a trump to me, Knowles," he declared. "I appreciate it, you
know; I do indeed. I'm jolly grateful."

"You needn't be. It is all right. I--I suppose I should wish you luck
and happiness. I do. Yes, why shouldn't you be happy, even if--"

"Even if--what? Oh, but you don't think she will turn me off, do you?
You don't think that?"

"I've told you that I see no reason why she should."

"Thank you. Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you might
wish to say to me?"

"Not now. Perhaps some day I--But not now. No, there's nothing else.
Good night, Bayliss; good night and--and good luck."

"Good night. I--She's not in now, I suppose, is she?"

"She is in, but--Well, I scarcely think you had better see her to-night.
She has gone to her room."

"Oh, I say! it's very early. She's not ill, is she?"

"No, but I think you had best not see her to-night."

He was disappointed, that was plain, but he yielded. He would have
agreed, doubtless, with any opinion of mine just then.

"No doubt you're right," he said. "Good night. And thank you again."

He left the room. I did not accompany him to the door. Instead I
returned to my chair. I did not occupy it long, I could not. I could not
sit still. I rose and went out on the lawn. There, in the night mist, I
paced up and down, up and down. I had longed to be alone; now that I was
alone I was more miserable than ever.

Charlotte, the maid, called to me from the doorway.

"Would you wish the light in the study any longer, sir?" she asked.

"No," said I, curtly. "You may put it out."

"And shall I lock up, sir; all but this door, I mean?"

"Yes. Where is Miss Cahoon?"

"She's above, sir. With Miss Morley, I think, sir."

"Very well, Charlotte. That is all. Good night."

"Good night, sir."

She went into the house. The lamp in the study was extinguished. I
continued my pacing up and down. Occasionally I glanced at the upper
story of the rectory. There was a lighted window there, the window of
Frances' room. She and Hephzy were together in that room. What was going
on there? What had Hephzy said to her? What--Oh, WHAT would happen next?

Some time later--I don't know how much later it may have been--I heard
someone calling me again.

"Hosy!" called Hephzy in a loud whisper; "Hosy, where are you?"

"Here I am," I answered.

She came to me across the lawn. I could not, of course, see her face,
but her tone was very anxious.

"Hosy," she whispered, putting her hand on my arm, "what are you doin'
out here all alone?"

I laughed. "I'm taking the air," I answered. "It is good for me. I am
enjoying the glorious English air old Doctor Bayliss is always talking
about. Fresh air and exercise--those will cure anything, so he says.
Perhaps they will cure me. God knows I need curing."

"Sshh! shh, Hosy! Don't talk that way. I don't like to hear you. Out
here bareheaded and in all this damp! You'll get your death."

"Will I? Well, that will be a complete cure, then."

"Hush! I tell you. Come in the house with me. I want to talk to you.
Come!"

Still holding my arm she led me toward the house. I hung back.

"You have been up there with her?" I said, with a nod toward the lighted
window of the room above. "What has happened? What have you said and
done?"

"Hush! I'll tell you; I'll tell you all about it. Only come in now. I
sha'n't feel safe until I get you inside. Oh, Hosy, DON'T act this way!
Do you want to frighten me to death?"

That appeal had an effect. I was ashamed of myself.

"Forgive me, Hephzy," I said. "I'll try to be decent. You needn't worry
about me. I'm a fool, of course, but now that I realize it I shall try
to stop behaving like one. Come along; I'm ready."

In the drawing-room she closed the door.

"Shall I light the lamp?" she asked.

"No. Oh, for heaven's sake, can't you see that I'm crazy to know what
you said to that girl and what she said to you? Tell me, and hurry up,
will you!"

She did not resent my sudden burst of temper and impatience. Instead she
put her arm about me.

"Sit down, Hosy," she pleaded. "Sit down and I'll tell you all about it.
Do sit down."

I refused to sit.

"Tell me now," I commanded. "What did you say to her? You didn't--you
didn't--"

"I did. I told her everything."

"EVERYTHING! You don't mean--"

"I mean everything. 'Twas time she knew it. I went to that room meanin'
to tell her and I did. At first she didn't want to listen, didn't want
to see me at all or even let me in. But I made her let me in and then
she and I had it out."

"Hephzy!"

"Don't say it that way, Hosy. The good Lord knows I hate myself for
doin' it, hated myself while I was doin' it, but it had to be done.
Every word I spoke cut me as bad as it must have cut her. I kept
thinkin', 'This is Little Frank I'm talkin' to. This is Ardelia's
daughter I'm makin' miserable.' A dozen times I stopped and thought I
couldn't go on, but every time I thought of you and what you'd put up
with and been through, and I went on."

"Hephzy! you told her--"

"I said it was time she understood just the plain truth about her father
and mother and grandfather and the money, and everything. She must know
it, I said; things couldn't go on as they have been. I told it all. At
first she wouldn't listen, said I was--well, everything that was mean
and lyin' and bad. If she could she'd have put me out of her room, I
presume likely, but I wouldn't go. And, of course, at first she wouldn't
believe, but I made her believe."

"Made her believe! Made her believe her father was a thief! How could
you do that! No one could."

"I did it. I don't know how exactly. I just went on tellin' it all
straight from the beginnin', and pretty soon I could see she was
commencin' to believe. And she believes now, Hosy; she does, I know it."

"Did she say so?"

"No, she didn't say anything, scarcely--not at the last. She didn't cry,
either; I almost wish she had. Oh, Hosy, don't ask me any more questions
than you have to. I can't bear to answer 'em."

She paused and turned away.

"How she must hate us!" I said, after a moment.

"Why, no--why, no, Hosy, I don't think she does; at least I'm tryin' to
hope she doesn't. I softened it all I could. I told her why we took her
with us in the first place; how we couldn't tell her the truth at first,
or leave her, either, when she was so sick and alone. I told her why
we brought her here, hopin' it would make her well and strong, and how,
after she got that way, we put off tellin' her because it was such a
dreadful hard thing to do. Hard! When I think of her sittin' there,
white as a sheet, and lookin' at me with those big eyes of hers, her
fingers twistin' and untwistin' in her lap--a way her mother used to
have when she was troubled--and every word I spoke soundin' so cruel
and--and--"

She paused once more. I did not speak. Soon she recovered and went on.

"I told her that I was tellin' her these things now because the
misunderstandin's and all the rest had to stop and there was no use
puttin' off any longer. I told her I loved her as if she was my very own
and that this needn't make the least bit of difference unless she wanted
it to. I said you felt just the same. I told her your speakin' to that
Heathcroft man was only for her good and for no other reason. You'd
learned that he was engaged to be married--"

"You told her that?" I interrupted, involuntarily. "What did she say?"

"Nothin', nothin' at all. I think she heard me and understood, but she
didn't say anything. Just sat there, white and trembling and crushed,
sort of, and looked and looked at me. I wanted to put my arms around
her and ask her pardon and beg her to love me as I did her, but I didn't
dare--I didn't dare. I did say that you and I would be only too glad to
have her stay with us always, as one of the family, you know. If she'd
only forget all the bad part that had gone and do that, I said--but she
interrupted me. She said 'Forget!' and the way she said it made me
sure she never would forget. And then--and then she asked me if I would
please go away and leave her. Would I PLEASE not say any more now, but
just leave her, only leave her alone. So I came away and--and that's
all."

"That's all," I repeated. "It is enough, I should say. Oh, Hephzy, why
did you do it? Why couldn't it have gone on as it has been going? Why
did you do it?"

It was an unthinking, wicked speech. But Hephzy did not resent it. Her
reply was as patient and kind as if she had been answering a child.

"I had to do it, Hosy," she said. "After our talk this evenin' there
was only one thing to do. It had to be done--for your sake, if nothin'
else--and so I did it. But--but--" with a choking sob, "it was SO hard
to do! My Ardelia's baby!"

And at last, I am glad to say, I began to realize how very hard it had
been for her. To understand what she had gone through for my sake and
what a selfish brute I had been. I put my hands on her shoulders and
kissed her almost reverently.

"Hephzy," said I, "you're a saint and a martyr and I am--what I am.
Please forgive me."

"There isn't anything to forgive, Hosy. And," with a shake of the head,
"I'm an awful poor kind of saint, I guess. They'd never put my image up
in the churches over here--not if they knew how I felt this minute. And
a saint from Cape Cod wouldn't be very welcome anyway, I'm afraid. I
meant well, but that's a poor sort of recommendation. Oh, Hosy, you DO
think I did for the best, don't you?"

"You did the only thing to be done," I answered, with decision. "You did
what I lacked the courage to do. Of course it was best."

"You're awful good to say so, but I don't know. What'll come of it
goodness knows. When I think of you and--and--"

"Don't think of me. I'm going to be a man if I can--a quahaug, if
I can't. At least I'm not going to be what I have been for the last
month."

"I know. But when I think of to-morrow and what she'll say to me, then,
I--"

"You mustn't think. You must go to bed and so must I. To-morrow will
take care of itself. Come. Let's both sleep and forget it."

Which was the very best of advice, but, like much good advice,
impossible to follow. I did not sleep at all that night, nor did I
forget. God help me! I was realizing that I never could forget.

At six o'clock I came downstairs, made a pretence at eating some
biscuits and cheese which I found on the sideboard, scribbled a brief
note to Hephzy stating that I had gone for a walk and should not be back
to breakfast, and started out. The walk developed into a long one and
I did not return to the rectory until nearly eleven in the forenoon. By
that time I was in a better mood, more reconciled to the inevitable--or
I thought I was. I believed I could play the man, could even see her
married to Herbert Bayliss and still behave like a man. I vowed and
revowed it. No one--no one but Hephzy and I should ever know what we
knew.

Charlotte, the maid, seemed greatly relieved to see me. She hastened to
the drawing-room.

"Here he is, Miss Cahoon," she said. "He's come back, ma'am. He's here."

"Of course I'm here, Charlotte," I said. "You didn't suppose I had run
away, did you?... Why--why, Hephzy, what is the matter?"

For Hephzy was coming to meet me, her hands outstretched and on her face
an expression which I did not understand--sorrow, agitation--yes, and
pity--were in that expression, or so it seemed to me.

"Oh, Hosy!" she cried, "I'm so glad you've come. I wanted you so."

"Wanted me?" I repeated. "Why, what do you mean? Has anything happened?"

She nodded, solemnly.

"Yes," she said, "somethin' has happened. Somethin' we might have
expected, perhaps, but--but--Hosy, read that."

I took what she handed me. It was a sheet of note paper, folded across,
and with Hephzibah's name written upon one side. I recognized the
writing and, with a sinking heart, unfolded it. Upon the other side was
written in pencil this:


"I am going away. I could not stay, of course. When I think how I have
stayed and how I have treated you both, who have been so very, very
kind to me, I feel--I can't tell you how I feel. You must not think me
ungrateful. You must not think of me at all. And you must not try to
find me, even if you should wish to do such a thing. I have the money
which I intended using for my new frocks and I shall use it to pay
my expenses and my fare to the place I am going. It is your money, of
course, and some day I shall send it to you. And someday, if I can,
I shall repay all that you have spent on my account. But you must not
follow me and you must not think of asking me to come back. That I shall
never do. I do thank you for all that you have done for me, both of you.
I cannot understand why you did it, but I shall always remember. Don't
worry about me. I know what I am going to do and I shall not starve or
be in want. Good-by. Please try to forget me.

"FRANCES MORLEY.

"Please tell Mr. Knowles that I am sorry for what I said to him this
afternoon and so many times before. How he could have been so kind and
patient I can't understand. I shall always remember it--always. Perhaps
he may forgive me some day. I shall try and hope that he may."


I read to the end. Then, without speaking, I looked at Hephzy. Her eyes
were brimming with tears.

"She has gone," she said, in answer to my unspoken question. "She must
have gone some time in the night. The man at the inn stable drove her
to the depot at Haddington on Hill. She took the early train for London.
That is all we know."



CHAPTER XIII

In Which Hephzy and I Agree to Live for Each Other


I shall condense the record of that day as much as possible. I should
omit it altogether, if I could. We tried to trace her, of course. That
is, I tried and Hephzy did not dissuade me, although she realized, I am
sure, the hopelessness of the quest. Frances had left the rectory very
early in the morning. The hostler at the inn had been much surprised to
find her awaiting him when he came down to the yard at five o'clock.
She was obliged to go to London, she said, and must take the very
first train: Would he drive her to Haddington on Hill at once? He did
so--probably she had offered him a great deal more than the regular
fare--and she had taken the train.

Questioning the hostler, who was a surly, uncommunicative lout, resulted
in my learning very little in addition to this. The young lady seemed
about as usual, so far as he could see. She might 'ave been a bit
nervous, impatient like, but he attributed that to her anxiety to make
the train. Yes, she had a bag with her, but no other luggage. No, she
didn't talk on the way to the station: Why should she? He wasn't the man
to ask a lady questions about what wasn't his affair. She minded her own
business and he minded his. No, he didn't know nothin' more about it.
What was I a-pumpin' him for, anyway?

I gave up the "pumping" and hurried back to the rectory. There Hephzy
told me a few additional facts. Frances had taken with her only the
barest necessities, for the most part those which she had when she
came to us. Her new frocks, those which she had bought with what she
considered her money, she had left behind. All the presents which we had
given her were in her room, or so we thought at the time. As she came,
so she had gone, and the thought that she had gone, that I should never
see her again, was driving me insane.

And like an insane man I must have behaved, at first. The things I
did and said, and the way in which I treated Hephzy shame me now, as I
remember them. I was going to London at once. I would find her and bring
her back. I would seek help from the police, I would employ detectives,
I would do anything--everything. She was almost without money; so far as
I knew without friends. What would she do? What would become of her? I
must find her. I must bring her back.

I stormed up and down the room, incoherently declaring my intentions and
upbraiding Hephzy for not having sent the groom or the gardener to find
me, for allowing all the precious time to elapse. Hephzy offered no
excuse. She did not attempt justification. Instead she brought the
railway time-table, gave orders that the horse be harnessed, helped me
in every way. She would have prepared a meal for me with her own hands,
would have fed me like a baby, if I had permitted it. One thing she did
insist upon.

"You must rest a few minutes, Hosy," she said. "You must, or you'll
be down sick. You haven't slept a wink all night. You haven't eaten
anything to speak of since yesterday noon. You can't go this way. You
must go to your room and rest a few minutes. Lie down and rest, if you
can."

"Rest!"

"You must. The train doesn't leave Haddington for pretty nigh two hours,
and we've got lots of time. I'll fetch you up some tea and toast or
somethin' by and by and I'll be all ready to start when you are. Now go
and lie down, Hosy dear, to please me."

I ignored the last sentence. "You will be ready?" I repeated. "Do you
mean you're going with me?"

"Of course I am. It isn't likely I'll let you start off all alone, when
you're in a state like this. Of course I'm goin' with you. Now go and
lie down. You're so worn out, poor boy."

I must have had a glimmer of reason then, a trace of decency and
unselfishness. For the first time I thought of her. I remembered that
she, too, had loved Little Frank; that she, too, must be suffering.

"I am no more tired than you are," I said. "You have slept and eaten no
more than I. You are the one who must rest. I sha'n't let you go with
me."

"It isn't a question of lettin'. I shall go if you do, Hosy. And a woman
don't need rest like a man. Please go upstairs and lie down, Hosy. Oh,"
with a sudden burst of feeling, "don't you see I've got about all I can
bear as it is? I can't--I can't have YOU to worry about too."

My conscience smote me. "I'll go, Hephzy," said I. "I'll do whatever you
wish; it is the least I can do."

She thanked me. Then she said, hesitatingly:

"Here is--here is her letter, Hosy. You may like to read it again.
Perhaps it may help you to decide what is best to do."

She handed me the letter. I took it and went to my room. There I read it
again and again. And, as I read, the meaning of Hephzy's last sentence,
that the letter might help me to decide what was best to do, began to
force itself upon my overwrought brain. I began to understand what she
had understood from the first, that my trip to London was hopeless,
absolutely useless--yes, worse than useless.

"You must not try to find me... You must not follow me or think of
asking me to come back. That I shall never do."

I was understanding, at last. I might go to London; I might even,
through the help of the police, or by other means, find Frances Morley.
But, having found her, what then? What claim had I upon her? What right
had I to pursue her and force my presence upon her? I knew the shock she
had undergone, the shattering of her belief in her father, the knowledge
that she had--as she must feel--forced herself upon our kindness and
charity. I knew how proud she was and how fiercely she had relented the
slightest hint that she was in any way dependent upon us or under
the least obligation to us. I knew all this and I was beginning to
comprehend what her feelings toward us and toward herself must be--now.

I might find her--yes; but as for convincing her that she should return
to Mayberry, to live with us as she had been doing, that was so clearly
impossible as to seem ridiculous even to me. My following her, my
hunting her down against her expressed wish, would almost surely make
matters worse. She would probably refuse to see me. She would consider
my following her a persecution and the result might be to drive her
still further away. I must not do it, for her sake I must not. She had
gone and, because I loved her, I must not follow her; I must not add to
her misery. No, against my will I was forcing myself to realize that my
duty was to make no attempt to see her again, but to face the situation
as it was, to cover the running away with a lie, to pretend she had
gone--gone somewhere or other with our permission and understanding; to
protect her name from scandal and to conceal my own feelings from all
the world. That was my duty; that was the situation I must face. But how
could I face it!

That hour was the worst I have ever spent and I trust I may never be
called upon to face such another. But, at last, I am glad to say, I
had made up my mind, and when Hephzy came with the tea and toast I was
measurably composed and ready to express my determination.

"Hephzy," said I, "I am not going to London. I have been thinking, and
I'm not going."

Hephzy put down the tray she was carrying. She did seem surprised, but I
am sure she was relieved.

"You're not goin'!" she exclaimed. "Why, Hosy!"

"No, I am not going. I've been crazy, Hephzy, I think, but I am fairly
sane now. I have reached the conclusion that you reached sometime ago,
I am certain. We have no right to follow her. Our finding her would only
make it harder for her and no good could come of it. She went, of her
own accord, and we must let her go."

"Let her go? And not try--"

"No. We have no right to try. You know it as well as I do. Now, be
honest, won't you?"

Hephzy hesitated.

"Why," she faltered; "well, I--Oh, Hosy, I guess likely you're right. At
first I was all for goin' after her right away and bringin' her back
by main strength, if I had to. But the more I thought of it the more
I--I--"

"Of course," I interrupted. "It is the only thing we can do. You must
have been ashamed of me this morning. Well, I'll try and give you no
cause to be ashamed again. That part of our lives is over. Now we'll
start afresh."

Hephzy, after a long look at my face, covered her own with her hands
and began to cry. I stepped to her side, but she recovered almost
immediately.

"There! there!" she said, "don't mind me, Hosy. I've been holdin' that
cry back for a long spell. Now I've had it and it's over and done with.
After all, you and I have got each other left and we'll start fresh,
just as you say. And the first thing is for you to eat that toast and
drink that tea."

I smiled, or tried to smile.

"The first thing," I declared, "is for us to decide what story we shall
tell young Bayliss and the rest of the people to account for her leaving
so suddenly. I expect Herbert Bayliss here any moment. He came to see me
about--about her last evening."

Hephzy nodded.

"I guessed as much," she said. "I knew he came and I guessed what 'twas
about. Poor fellow, 'twill be dreadful hard for him, too. He was here
this mornin' and I said Frances had been called away sudden and wouldn't
be back to-day. And I said you would be away all day, too, Hosy. It was
a fib, I guess, but I can't help it if it was. You mustn't see him now
and you mustn't talk with me either. You must clear off that tray the
first thing. We'll have our talk to-morrow, maybe. We'll--we'll see the
course plainer then, perhaps. Now be a good boy and mind me. You ARE
my boy, you know, and always will be, no matter how old and famous you
get."

Herbert Bayliss called again that afternoon. I did not see him, but
Hephzy did. The young fellow was frightfully disappointed at Frances'
sudden departure and asked all sorts of questions as to when she would
return, her London address and the like. Hephzy dodged the questions as
best she could, but we both foresaw that soon he would have to be told
some portion of the truth--not the whole truth; he need never know that,
but something--and that something would be very hard to tell.

The servants, too, must not know or surmise what had happened or the
reason for it. Hephzy had already given them some excuse, fabricated on
the spur of the moment. They knew Miss Morley had gone away and might
not return for some time. But we realized that upon our behavior
depended a great deal and so we agreed to appear as much like our
ordinary selves as possible.

It was a hard task. I shall never forget those first meals when we
two were alone. We did not mention her name, but the shadow was always
there--the vacant place at the table where she used to sit, the roses
she had picked the morning before; and, afterward, in the drawing-room,
the piano with her music upon the rack--the hundred and one little
reminders that were like so many poisoned needles to aggravate my
suffering and to remind me of the torture of the days to come. She had
bade me forget her. Forget! I might forget when I was dead, but not
before. If I could only die then and there it would seem so easy by
comparison.

The next forenoon Hephzy and I had our talk. We discussed our future.
Should we leave the rectory and England and go back to Bayport where
we belonged? I was in favor of this, but Hephzy seemed reluctant. She,
apparently, had some reason which made her wish to remain for a time, at
least. At last the reason was disclosed.

"I supposed you'll laugh at me when I say it, Hosy," she said; "or at
any rate you'll think I'm awful silly. But I know--I just KNOW that
this isn't the end. We shall see her again, you and I. She'll come to us
again or we'll go to her. I know it; somethin' inside me tells me so."

 I shook my head.

"It's true," she went on. "You don't believe it, but it's true. It's a
presentiment and you haven't believed in my presentiments before, but
they've come true. Why, you didn't believe we'd ever find Little Frank
at all, but we did. And do you suppose all that has happened so far has
been just for nothin'? Indeed and indeed it hasn't. No, this isn't the
end; it's only the beginnin'."

Her conviction was so strong that I hadn't the heart to contradict her.
I said nothing.

"And that's why," she went on, "I don't like to have us leave here right
away. She knows we're here, here in England, and if--if she ever should
be in trouble and need our help she could find us here waitin' to give
it. If we was away off on the Cape, way on the other side of the ocean,
she couldn't reach us, or not until 'twas too late anyhow. That's why
I'd like to stay here a while longer, Hosy. But," she hastened to add,
"I wouldn't stay a minute if you really wanted to go."

I was silent for a moment. The temptation was to go, to get as far from
the scene of my trouble as I could; but, after all, what did it matter?
I could never flee from that trouble.

"All right, Hephzy," I said. "I'll stay, if it pleases you."

"Thank you, Hosy. It may be foolish, our stayin', but I don't believe
it is. And--and there's somethin' else. I don't know whether I ought to
tell you or not. I don't know whether it will make you feel better or
worse. But I've heard you say that she must hate you. She doesn't--I
know she doesn't. I've been lookin' over her things, those she left in
her room. Everythin' we've given her or bought for her since she's been
here, she left behind--every single thing except one. That little pin
you bought for her in London the last time you was there and gave her to
wear at the Samsons' lawn party, I can't find it anywhere. She must have
taken it with her. Now why should she take that and leave all the rest?"

"Probably she forgot it," I said.

"Humph! Queer she should forget that and nothin' else. I don't believe
she forgot it. _I_ think she took it because you gave it to her and she
wanted to keep it to remind her of you."

I dismissed the idea as absurd, but I found a ray of comfort in it which
I should have been ashamed to confess. The idea that she wished to be
reminded of me was foolish, but--but I was glad she had forgotten to
leave the pin. It MIGHT remind her of me, even against her will.

A day or two later Herbert Bayliss and I had our delayed interview. He
had called several times, but Hephzy had kept him out of my way. This
time our meeting was in the main street of Mayberry, when dodging him
was an impossibility. He hurried up to me and seized my hand.

"So you're back, Knowles," he said. "When did you return?"

For the moment I was at a loss to understand his meaning. I had
forgotten Hephzy's "fib" concerning my going away. Fortunately he did
not wait for an answer.

"Did Frances--did Miss Morley return with you?" he asked eagerly.

"No," said I.

His smile vanished.

"Oh!" he said, soberly. "She is still in London, then?"

"I--I presume she is."

"You presume--? Why, I say! don't you know?"

"I am not sure."

He seemed puzzled and troubled, but he was too well bred to ask why I
was not sure. Instead he asked when she would return. I announced that I
did not know that either.

"You don't know when she is coming back?" he repeated.

"No."

He regarded me keenly. There was a change in the tone of his next
remark.

"You are not sure that she is in London and you don't know when she is
coming back," he said, slowly. "Would you mind telling me why she left
Mayberry so suddenly? She had not intended going; at least she did not
mention her intention to me."

"She did not mention it to anyone," I answered. "It was a very sudden
determination on her part."

He considered this.

"It would seem so," he said. "Knowles, you'll excuse my saying it, but
this whole matter seems deucedly odd to me. There is something which
I don't understand. You haven't answered my question. Under the
circumstances, considering our talk the other evening, I think I have a
right to ask it. Why did she leave so suddenly?"

I hesitated. Mayberry's principal thoroughfare was far from crowded, but
it was scarcely the place for an interview like this.

"She had a reason for leaving," I answered, slowly. "I will tell you
later, perhaps, what it was. Just now I cannot."

"You cannot!" he repeated. He was evidently struggling with his
impatience and growing suspicious. "You cannot! But I think I have a
right to know."

"I appreciate your feelings, but I cannot tell you now."

"Why not?"

"Because--Well, because I don't think it would be fair to her. She would
not wish me to tell you."

"She would not wish it? Was it because of me she left?"

"No; not in the least."

"Was it--was it because of someone else? By Jove! it wasn't because of
that Heathcroft cad? Don't tell me that! My God! she--she didn't--"

I interrupted. His suspicion angered me. I should have understood his
feelings, should have realized that he had been and was disappointed
and agitated and that my answers to his questions must have aroused all
sorts of fears and forebodings in his mind. I should have pitied him,
but just then I had little pity for others.

"She did nothing but what she considered right," I said sharply. "Her
leaving had nothing to do with Heathcroft or with you. I doubt if she
thought of either of you at all."

It was a brutal speech, and he took it like a man. I saw him turn pale
and bite his lips, but when he next spoke it was in a calmer tone.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I was a silly ass even to think such a thing.
But--but you see, Knowles, I--I--this means so much to me. I'm sorry,
though. I ask her pardon and yours."

I was sorry, too. "Of course I didn't mean that, exactly," I said. "Her
feelings toward you are of the kindest, I have no doubt, but her reason
for leaving was a purely personal one. You were not concerned in it."

He reflected. He was far from satisfied, naturally, and his next speech
showed it.

"It is extraordinary, all this," he said. "You are quite sure you don't
know when she is coming back?"

"Quite."

"Would you mind giving me her London address?"

"I don't know it."

"You don't KNOW it! Oh, I say! that's damned nonsense! You don't know
when she is coming back and you don't know her address! Do you mean you
don't know where she has gone?"

"Yes."

"What--? Are you trying to tell me she is not coming back at all?"

"I am afraid not."

He was very pale. He seized my arm.

"What is all this?" he demanded, fiercely. "What has happened? Tell me;
I want to know. Where is she? Why did she go? Tell me!"

"I can tell you nothing," I said, as calmly as I could. "She left us
very suddenly and she is not coming back. Her reason for leaving I can't
tell you, now. I don't know where she is and I have no right to try and
find out. She has asked that no one follow her or interfere with her in
any way. I respect her wish and I advise you, if you wish to remain her
friend, to do the same, for the present, at least. That is all I can
tell you."

He shook my arm savagely.

"By George!" he cried, "you must tell me. I'll make you! I--I--Do you
think me a fool? Do you suppose I believe such rot as that? You tell me
she has gone--has left Mayberry--and you don't know where she has gone
and don't intend trying to find out. Why--"

"There, Bayliss! that is enough. This is not the place for us to
quarrel. And there is no reason why we should quarrel at all. I have
told you all that I can tell you now. Some day I may tell you more, but
until then you must be patient, for her sake. Her leaving Mayberry had
no connection with you whatever. You must be contented with that."

"Contented! Why, man, you're mad. She is your niece. You are her
guardian and--"

"I am not her guardian. Neither is she my niece."

I had spoken involuntarily. Certainly I had not intended telling him
that. The speech had the effect of causing him to drop my arm and step
back. He stared at me blankly. No doubt he did think me crazy, then.

"I have no authority over her in any way," I went on. "She is Miss
Cahoon's niece, but we are not her guardians. She has left our home of
her own free will and neither I nor you nor anyone else shall follow
her if I can help it. I am sorry to have deceived you. The deceit was
unavoidable, or seemed to be. I am very, very sorry for you. That is all
I can say now. Good morning."

I left him standing there in the street and walked away. He called after
me, but I did not turn back. He would have followed me, of course, but
when I did look back I saw that the landlord of the inn was trying to
talk with him and was detaining him. I was glad that the landlord had
appeared so opportunely. I had said too much already. I had bungled this
interview as I had that with Heathcroft.

I told Hephzy all about it. She appeared to think that, after all,
perhaps it was best.

"When you've got a toothache," she said, "you might as well go to the
dentist's right off. The old thing will go on growlin' and grumblin' and
it's always there to keep you in misery. You'd have had to tell him some
time. Well, you've told him now, the worst of it, anyhow. The tooth's
out; though," with a one-sided smile, "I must say you didn't give the
poor chap any ether to help along."

"I'm afraid it isn't out," I said, truthfully. "He won't be satisfied
with one operation."

"Then I'll be on hand to help with the next one. And, between us, I
cal'late we can make that final. Poor boy! Well, he's young, that's one
comfort. You get over things quicker when you're young."

I nodded. "That is true," I said, "but there is something else, Hephzy.
You say I have acted for the best. Have I? I don't know. We know he
cares for her, but--but does she--"

"Does she care for him, you mean? I don't think so, Hosy. For a spell
I thought she did, but now I doubt it. I think--Well, never mind what
I think. I think a lot of foolish things. My brain's softenin' up, I
shouldn't wonder. It's a longshore brain, anyhow, and it needs the
salt to keep it from spoilin'. I wish you and I could go clammin'.
When you're diggin' clams you're too full of backache to worry about
toothaches--or heartaches, either."

I expected a visit from young Bayliss that very evening, but he did not
come to the rectory. Instead Doctor Bayliss, Senior, came and requested
an interview with me. Hephzy announced the visitor.

"He acts pretty solemn, Hosy," she said. "I wouldn't wonder if his son
had told him. I guess it's another toothache. Would you like to have me
stay and help?"

I said I should be glad of her help. So, when the old gentleman was
shown into the study, he found her there with me. The doctor was very
grave and his usually ruddy, pleasant face was haggard and careworn. He
took the chair which I offered him and, without preliminaries, began to
speak of the subject which had brought him there.

It was as Hephzy had surmised. His son had told him everything, of his
love for Frances, of his asking my permission to marry her, and of our
talk before the inn.

"I am sure I don't need to tell you, Knowles," he said, "that all this
has shaken the boy's mother and me dreadfully. We knew, of course, that
the young people liked each other, were together a great deal, and all
that. But we had not dreamed of any serious attachment between them."

Hephzy put in a word.

"We don't know as there has been any attachment between them," she said.
"Your boy cared for her--we know that--but whether she cared for him or
not we don't know."

Our visitor straightened in his chair. The idea that his son could love
anyone and not be loved in return was plainly quite inconceivable.

"I think we may take that for granted, madame," he said. "The news was,
as I say, a great shock to my wife and myself. Herbert is our only child
and we had, naturally, planned somewhat concerning his future. The--the
overthrow of our plans was and is a great grief and disappointment
to us. Not, please understand, that we question your niece's worth or
anything of that sort. She is a very attractive young woman and would
doubtless make my son a good wife. But, if you will pardon my saying
so, we know very little about her or her family. You are comparative
strangers to us and although we have enjoyed your--ah--society
and--ah--"

Hephzy interrupted.

"I beg your pardon for saying it, Doctor Bayliss," she said, "but you
know as much about us as we do about you."

The doctor's composure was ruffled still more. He regarded Hephzy
through his spectacles and then said, with dignity.

"Madame, I have resided in this vicinity for nearly forty years. I think
my record and that of my family will bear inspection."

"I don't doubt it a bit. But, as far as that goes, I have lived in
Bayport for fifty-odd years myself and our folks have lived there for
a hundred and fifty. I'm not questionin' you or your family, Doctor
Bayliss. If I had questioned 'em I could easily have looked up the
record. All I'm sayin' is that I haven't thought of questionin', and I
don't just see why you shouldn't take as much for granted as I have."

The old gentleman was a bit disconcerted. He cleared his throat and
fidgeted in his seat.

"I do--I do, Miss Cahoon, of course," he said. "But--ah--Well, to
return to the subject of my son and Miss Morley. The boy is dreadfully
agitated, Mr. Knowles. He is quite mad about the girl and his mother
and I are much concerned about him. We would--I assure you we would do
anything and sacrifice anything for his sake. We like your niece,
and, although, as I say, we had planned otherwise, nevertheless we
will--provided all is as it should be--give our consent to--to the
arrangement, for his sake."

I did not answer. The idea that marrying Frances Morley would entail a
sacrifice upon anyone's part except hers angered me and I did not trust
myself to speak. But Hephzy spoke for me.

"What do you mean by providin' everything is as it should be?" she
asked.

"Why, I mean--I mean provided we learn that she is--is--That is,--Well,
one naturally likes to know something concerning his prospective
daughter-in-law's history, you know. That is to be expected, now isn't
it."

Hephzy looked at me and I looked at her.

"Doctor," she said. "I wonder if your son told you about some things
Hosy--Mr. Knowles, I mean--told him this mornin'. Did he tell you that?"

The doctor colored slightly. "Yes--yes, he did," he admitted. "He said
he had a most extraordinary sort of interview with Mr. Knowles and
was told by him some quite extraordinary things. Of course, we could
scarcely believe that he had heard aright. There was some mistake, of
course."

"There was no mistake, Doctor Bayliss," said I. "I told your son the
truth, a very little of the truth."

"The truth! But it couldn't be true, you know, as Herbert reported it
to me. He said Miss Morley had left Mayberry, had gone away for some
unexplained reason, and was not coming back--that you did not know
where she had gone, that she had asked not to be hindered or followed or
something. And he said--My word! he even said you, Knowles, had declared
yourself to be neither her uncle nor her guardian. THAT couldn't be
true, now could it!"

Again Hephzy and I looked at each other. Without speaking we reached the
same conclusion. Hephzy voiced that conclusion.

"I guess, Doctor Bayliss," she said, "that the time has come when you
had better be told the whole truth, or as much of the whole truth about
Frances as Hosy and I know. I'm goin' to tell it to you. It's a kind of
long story, but I guess likely you ought to know it."

She began to tell that story, beginning at the very beginning, with
Ardelia and Strickland Morley and continuing on, through the history of
the latter's rascality and the fleeing of the pair from America, to
our own pilgrimage, the finding of Little Frank and the astonishing
happenings since.

"She's gone," she said. "She found out what sort of man her father
really was and, bein' a high-spirited, proud girl--as proud and
high-spirited as she is clever and pretty and good--she ran away and
left us. We don't blame her, Hosy and I. We understand just how she
feels and we've made up our minds to do as she asks and not try to
follow her or try to bring her back to us against her will. We think
the world of her. We haven't known her but a little while, but we've
come--that is," with a sudden glance in my direction, "I've come to love
her as if she was my own. It pretty nigh kills me to have her go. When
I think of her strugglin' along tryin' to earn her own way by singin'
and--and all, I have to hold myself by main strength to keep from goin'
after her and beggin' her on my knees to come back. But I sha'n't do it,
because she doesn't want me to. Of course I hope and believe that some
day she will come back, but until she does and of her own accord, I'm
goin' to wait. And, if your son really cares for her as much as we--as I
do, he'll wait, too."

She paused and hastily dabbed at her eyes with her handkerchief.
I turned in order that the Doctor might not see my face. It was an
unnecessary precaution. Doctor Bayliss' mind was busy, apparently, with
but one thought.

"An opera singer!" he exclaimed, under his breath. "An opera singer!
Herbert to marry an opera singer! The granddaughter of a Yankee sailor
and--and--"

"And the daughter of an English thief," put in Hephzy, sharply. "Maybe
we'd better leave nationalities out, Doctor Bayliss. The Yankees have
the best end of it, 'cordin' to my notion."

He paid no attention to this.

He was greatly upset. "It is impossible!" he declared. "Absolutely
impossible! Why haven't we known of this before? Why did not Herbert
know of it? Mr. Knowles, I must say that--that you have been most
unthinking in this matter."

"I have been thinking of her," I answered, curtly. "It was and is her
secret and we rely upon you to keep it as such. We trust to your honor
to tell no one, not even your son."

"My son! Herbert? Why I must tell him! I must tell my wife."

"You may tell your wife. And your son as much as you think necessary.
Further than that it must not go."

"Of course, of course. I understand. But an opera singer!"

"She isn't a real opera singer," said Hephzy. "That is, not one of those
great ones. And she told me once that she realized now that she never
could be. She has a real sweet voice, a beautiful voice, but it isn't
powerful enough to make her a place in the big companies. She tried and
tried, she said, but all the managers said the same thing."

"Hephzy," I said, "when did she tell you this? I didn't know of it."

"I know you didn't, Hosy. She told me one day when we were alone. It was
the only time she ever spoke of herself and she didn't say much then.
She spoke about her livin' with her relatives here in England and what
awful, mean, hard people they were. She didn't say who they were nor
where they lived, but she did say she ran away from them to go on
the stage as a singer and what trials and troubles she went through
afterward. She told me that much and then she seemed sorry that she had.
She made me promise not to tell anyone, not even you. I haven't, until
now."

Doctor Bayliss was sitting with a hand to his forehead.

"A provincial opera singer," he repeated. "Oh, impossible! Quite
impossible!"

"It may seem impossible to you," I couldn't help observing, "but I
question if it will seem so to your son. I doubt if her being an opera
singer will make much difference to him."

The doctor groaned. "The boy is mad about her, quite mad," he admitted.

I was sorry for him. Perhaps if I were in his position I might feel as
he did.

"I will say this," I said: "In no way, so far as I know, has Miss Morley
given your son encouragement. He told me himself that he had never
spoken to her of his feelings and we have no reason to think that she
regards him as anything more than a friend. She left no message for him
when she went away."

He seemed to find some ground for hope in this. He rose from the chair
and extended his hand.

"Knowles," he said, "if I have said anything to hurt your feelings or
those of Miss Cahoon I am very sorry. I trust it will make no difference
in our friendship. My wife and I respect and like you both and I think I
understand how deeply you must feel the loss of your--of Miss Morley. I
hope she--I hope you may be reunited some day. No doubt you will be. As
for Herbert--he is our son and if you ever have a son of your own, Mr.
Knowles, you may appreciate his mother's feelings and mine. We have
planned and--and--Even now I should not stand in the way of his
happiness if--if I believed happiness could come of it. But such
marriages are never happy. And," with a sudden burst of hope, "as you
say, she may not be aware of his attachment. The boy is young. He may
forget."

"Yes," said I, with a sigh. "He IS young, and he may forget."

After he had gone Hephzy turned to me.

"If I hadn't understood that old man's feelin's," she declared, "I'd
have given him one talkin' to. The idea of his speakin' as if Frances
wouldn't be a wife anybody, a lord or anybody else, might be proud of!
But he didn't know. He's been brought up that way, and he doesn't know.
And, of course, his son IS the only person on earth to him. Well, that's
over! We haven't got to worry about them any more. We'll begin to live
for each other now, Hosy, same as we used to do. And we'll wait for the
rest. It'll come and come right for all of us. Just you see."



CHAPTER XIV

In Which I Play Golf and Cross the Channel


And so we began "to live for each other again," Hephzy and I. This
meant, of course, that Hephzy forgot herself entirely and spent the
greater part of her time trying to find ways to make my living more
comfortable, just as she had always done. And I--well, I did my best to
appear, if not happy, at least reasonably calm and companionable. It was
a hard job for both of us; certainly my part of it was hard enough.

Appearances had to be considered and so we invented a tale of a visit
to relatives in another part of England to account for the unannounced
departure of Miss Morley. This excuse served with the neighbors and
friends not in the secret and, for the benefit of the servants, Hephzy
elaborated the deceit by pretending eagerness at the arrival of the
mails and by certain vague remarks at table concerning letters she was
writing.

"I AM writing 'em, too, Hosy," she said. "I write to her every few days.
Of course I don't mail the letters, but it sort of squares things with
my conscience to really write after talking so much about it. As for her
visitin' relatives--well, she's got relatives somewhere in England, we
know that much, and she MAY be visitin' 'em. At any rate I try to think
she is. Oh, dear, I 'most wish I'd had more experience in tellin' lies;
then I wouldn't have to invent so many extra ones to make me believe
those I told at the beginnin'. I wish I'd been brought up a book agent
or a weather prophet or somethin' like that; then I'd have been in
trainin'."

Without any definite agreement we had fallen into the habit of not
mentioning the name of Little Frank, even when we were alone together.
In consequence, on these occasions, there would be long intervals
of silence suddenly broken by Hephzy's bursting out with a surmise
concerning what was happening in Bayport, whether they had painted the
public library building yet, or how Susanna was getting on with the cat
and hens. She had received three letters from Miss Wixon and, as news
bearers, they were far from satisfactory.

"That girl makes me so provoked," sniffed Hephzy, dropping the most
recent letter in her lap with a gesture of disgust. "She says she's got
a cold in the head and she's scared to death for fear it'll get 'set
onto her,' whatever that is. Two pages of this letter is nothin' but
cold in the head and t'other two is about a new hat she's goin' to have
and she don't know whether to trim it with roses or forget-me-nots. If
she trimmed it with cabbage 'twould match her head better'n anything
else. I declare! she ought to be thankful she's got a cold in a head
like hers; it must be comfortin' to know there's SOMETHIN' there. You've
got a letter, too, Hosy. Who is it from?"

"From Campbell," I answered, wearily. "He wants to know how the novel is
getting on, of course."

"Humph! Well, you write him that it's gettin' on the way a squid gets
ahead--by goin' backwards. Don't let him pester you one bit, Hosy. You
write that novel just as fast or slow as you feel like. He told you to
take a vacation, anyway."

I smiled. Mine was a delightful vacation.

The summer dragged on. The days passed. Pleasant days they were, so far
as the weather was concerned. I spent them somehow, walking, riding,
golfing, reading. I gave up trying to work; the half-written novel
remained half written. I could not concentrate my thoughts upon it and I
lacked the courage to force myself to try. I wrote Campbell that he must
be patient, I was doing the best I could. He answered by telling me not
to worry, to enjoy myself. "Why do you stay there in England?" he wrote.
"I ordered you to travel, not to plant yourself in one place and die
of dry rot. A British oyster is mighty little improvement on a Cape Cod
quahaug. You have been in that rectory about long enough. Go to Monte
Carlo for change. You'll find it there--or lose it."

It may have been good advice--or bad--according to the way in which
it was understood, but, good or bad, it didn't appeal to me. I had no
desire to travel, unless it were to travel back to Bayport, where I
belonged. I felt no interest in Monte Carlo--for the matter of that, I
felt no interest in Mayberry or anywhere else. I was not interested in
anything or anybody--except one, and that one had gone out of my life.
Night after night I went to sleep determining to forget and morning
after morning I awoke only to remember, and with the same dull, hopeless
heartache and longing.

July passed, August was half gone. Still we remained at the rectory. Our
lease was up on the first of October. The Coles would return then and we
should be obliged to go elsewhere, whether we wished to or not. Hephzy,
although she did not say much about it, was willing to go, I think. Her
"presentiment" had remained only a presentiment so far; no word came
from Little Frank. We had heard or learned nothing concerning her or her
whereabouts.

Our neighbors and friends in Mayberry were as kind and neighborly as
ever. For the first few days after our interview with Doctor Bayliss,
Senior, Hephzy and I saw nothing of him or his family. Then the doctor
called again. He seemed in better spirits. His son had yielded to his
parents' entreaties and had departed for a walking tour through the
Black Forest with some friends.

"The invitation came at exactly the right time," said the old gentleman.
"Herbert was ready to go anywhere or do anything. The poor boy was in
the depths and when his mother and I urged him to accept he did so. We
are hoping that when he returns he will have forgotten, or, if not that,
at least be more reconciled."

Heathcroft came and went at various times during the summer. I met him
on the golf course and he was condescendingly friendly as ever. Our talk
concerning Frances, which had brought such momentous consequences to
her and to Hephzy and to me, had, apparently, not disturbed him in the
least. He greeted me blandly and cheerfully, asked how we all were, said
he had been given to understand that "my charming little niece" was no
longer with us, and proceeded to beat me two down in eighteen holes.
I played several times with him afterward and, under different
circumstances, should have enjoyed doing so, for we were pretty evenly
matched.

His aunt, the Lady of the Manor, I also met. She went out of her way to
be as sweetly gracious as possible. I presume she inferred from Frances'
departure that I had taken her hint and had removed the disturbing
influence from her nephew's primrose-bordered path. At each of our
meetings she spoke of the "invitation golf tournament," several times
postponed and now to be played within a fortnight. She insisted that
I must take part in it. At last, having done everything except decline
absolutely, I finally consented to enter the tournament. It is not
easy to refuse to obey an imperial decree and Lady Carey was Empress of
Mayberry.

After accepting I returned to the rectory to find that Hephzy also had
received an invitation. Not to play golf, of course; her invitation was
of a totally different kind.

"What do you think, Hosy!" she cried. "I've got a letter and you can't
guess who it's from."

"From Susanna?" I ventured.

"Susanna! You don't suppose I'd be as excited as all this over a letter
from Susanna Wixon, do you? No indeed! I've got a letter from Mrs.
Hepton, who had the Nickerson cottage last summer. She and her husband
are in Paris and they want us to meet 'em there in a couple of weeks and
go for a short trip through Switzerland. They got our address from Mr.
Campbell before they left home. Mrs. Hepton writes that they're countin'
on our company. They're goin' to Lake Lucerne and to Mont Blanc and
everywhere. Wouldn't it be splendid!"

The Heptons had been summer neighbors of ours on the Cape for several
seasons. They were friends of Jim Campbell's and had first come to
Bayport on his recommendation. I liked them very well, and, oddly
enough, for I was not popular with the summer colony, they had seemed to
like me.

"It was very kind of them to think of us," I said. "Campbell shouldn't
have given them our address, of course, but their invitation was well
meant. You must write them at once. Make our refusal as polite as
possible."

Hephzy seemed disappointed, I thought.

"Then you think I'd better say no?" she observed.

"Why, of course. You weren't thinking of accepting, were you?"

"Well, I didn't know. I'm not sure that our goin' wouldn't be the right
thing. I've been considerin' for some time, Hosy, and I've about come to
the conclusion that stayin' here is bad for you. Maybe it's bad for both
of us. Perhaps a change would do us both good."

I was astonished. "Humph!" I exclaimed; "this is a change of heart,
Hephzy. A while ago, when I suggested going back to Bayport, you
wouldn't hear of it. You wanted to stay here and--and wait."

"I know I did. And I've been waitin', but nothin' has come of it. I've
still got my presentiment, Hosy. I believe just as strong as I ever did
that some time or other she and you and I will be together again. But
stayin' here and seein' nobody but each other and broodin' don't do us
any good. It's doin' you harm; that's plain enough. You don't write and
you don't eat--that is, not much--and you're gettin' bluer and more thin
and peaked every day. You have just got to go away from here, no matter
whether I do or not. And I've reached the point where I'm willin' to go,
too. Not for good, maybe. We'll come back here again. Our lease isn't
up until October and we can leave the servants here and give them our
address to have mail forwarded. If--if she--that is, if a letter or--or
anything--SHOULD come we could hurry right back. The Heptons are real
nice folks; you always liked 'em, Hosy. And you always wanted to see
Switzerland; you used to say so. Why don't we say yes and go along?"

I did not answer. I believed I understood the reason for Campbell's
giving our address to the Heptons; also the reason for the invitation.
Jim was very anxious to have me leave Mayberry; he believed travel and
change of scene were what I needed. Doubtless he had put the Heptons up
to asking us to join them on their trip. It was merely an addition to
his precious prescription.

"Why don't we go?" urged Hephzy.

"Not much!" I answered, decidedly. "I should be poor company on a
pleasure trip like that. But you might go, Hephzy. There is no reason in
the world why you shouldn't go. I'll stay here until you return. Go, by
all means, and enjoy yourself."

Hephzy shook her head.

"I'd do a lot of enjoyin' without you, wouldn't I," she observed.
"While I was lookin' at the scenery I'd be wonderin' what you had for
breakfast. Every mite of rain would set me to thinkin' of your gettin'
your feet wet and when I laid eyes on a snow peak I'd wonder if you had
blankets enough on your bed. I'd be like that yellow cat we used to have
back in the time when Father was alive. That cat had kittens and Father
had 'em all drowned but one. After that you never saw the cat anywhere
unless the kitten was there, too. She wouldn't eat unless it were with
her and between bites she'd sit down on it so it couldn't run off. She
lugged it around in her mouth until Father used to vow he'd have eyelet
holes punched in the scruff of its neck for her teeth to fit into and
make it easier for both of 'em. It died, finally; she wore it out,
I guess likely. Then she adopted a chicken and started luggin' that
around. She had the habit, you see. I'm a good deal like her, Hosy. I've
took care of you so long that I've got the habit. No, I shouldn't go
unless you did."

No amount of urging moved her, so we dropped the subject.

The morning of the golf tournament was clear and fine. I shouldered my
bag of clubs and walked through the lane toward the first tee. I never
felt less like playing or more inclined to feign illness and remain at
home. But I had promised Lady Carey and the promise must be kept.

There was a group of people, players and guests, awaiting me at the tee.
Her ladyship was there, of course; so also was her nephew, Mr. Carleton
Heathcroft, whom I had not seen for some time. Heathcroft was in
conversation with a young fellow who, when he turned in my direction,
I recognized as Herbert Bayliss. I was surprised to see him; I had not
heard of his return from the Black Forest trip.

Lady Carey was affable and gracious, also very important and busy. She
welcomed me absent-mindedly, introduced me to several of her guests,
ladies and gentlemen from London down for the week-end, and then bustled
away to confer with Mr. Handliss, steward of the estate, concerning the
arrangements for the tournament. I felt a touch on my arm and, turning,
found Doctor Bayliss standing beside me. He was smiling and in apparent
good humor.

"The boy is back, Knowles," he said. "Have you seen him?"

"Yes," said I, "I have seen him, although we haven't met yet. I was
surprised to find him here. When did he return?"

"Only yesterday. His mother and I were surprised also. We hadn't
expected him so soon. He's looking very fit, don't you think?"

"Very." I had not noticed that young Bayliss was looking either more or
less fit than usual, but I answered as I did because the old gentleman
seemed so very anxious that I should. He was evidently gratified. "Yes,"
he said, "he's looking very fit indeed. I think his trip has benefited
him hugely. And I think--Yes, I think he is beginning to forget
his--that is to say, I believe he does not dwell upon the--the recent
happenings as he did. I think he is forgetting; I really think he is."

"Indeed," said I. It struck me that, if Herbert Bayliss was forgetting,
his memory must be remarkably short. I imagined that his father's wish
was parent to the thought.

"He has--ah--scarcely mentioned our--our young friend's name since his
return," went on the doctor. "He did ask if you had heard--ah--by the
way, Knowles, you haven't heard, have you?"

"No."

"Dear me! dear me! That's very odd, now isn't it."

He did not say he was sorry. If he had said it I should not have
believed him. If ever anything was plain it was that the longer we
remained without news of Frances Morley the better pleased Herbert
Bayliss's parents would be.

"But I say, Knowles," he added, "you and he must meet, you know. He
doesn't hold any ill-feeling or--or resentment toward you. Really he
doesn't. Herbert! Oh, I say, Herbert! Come here, will you."

Young Bayliss turned. The doctor whispered in my ear.

"Perhaps it would be just as well not to refer to--to--You understand
me, Knowles. Better let sleeping dogs lie, eh? Oh, Herbert, here is
Knowles waiting to shake hands with you."

We shook hands. The shake, on his part, was cordial enough, perhaps, but
not too cordial. It struck me that young Bayliss was neither as "fit"
nor as forgetful as his fond parents wished to believe. He looked rather
worn and nervous, it seemed to me. I asked him about his tramping trip
and we chatted for a few moments. Then Bayliss, Senior, was called by
Lady Carey and Handliss to join the discussion concerning the tournament
rules and the young man and I were left alone together.

"Knowles," he asked, the moment after his father's departure, "have you
heard anything? Anything concerning--her?"

"No."

"You're sure? You're not--"

"I am quite sure. We haven't heard nor do we expect to."

He looked away across the course and I heard him draw a long breath.

"It's deucedly odd, this," he said. "How she could disappear so entirely
I don't understand. And you have no idea where she may be?"

"No."

"But--but, confound it, man, aren't you trying to find her?"

"No."

"You're not! Why not?"

"You know why not as well as I. She left us of her own free will and her
parting request was that we should not follow her. That is sufficient
for us. Pardon me, but I think it should be for all her friends."

He was silent for a moment. Then his teeth snapped together.

"I'll find her," he declared, fiercely. "I'll find her some day."

"In spite of her request?"

"Yes. In spite of the devil."

He turned on his heel and walked off. Mr. Handliss stepped to the first
tee, clapped his hands to attract attention and began a little speech.

The tournament, he said, was about to begin. Play would be, owing to the
length and difficulty of the course, but eighteen holes instead of the
usual thirty-six. This meant that each pair of contestants would play
the nine holes twice. Handicaps had been fixed as equitably as possible
according to each player's previous record, and players having
similar handicaps were to play against each other. A light lunch and
refreshments would be served after the first round had been completed
by all. Prizes would be distributed by her ladyship when the final round
was finished. Her ladyship bade us all welcome and was gratified by our
acceptance of her invitation. He would now proceed to read the names
of those who were to play against each other, stating handicaps and the
like. He read accordingly, and I learned that my opponent was to be Mr.
Heathcroft, each of us having a handicap of two.

Considering everything I thought my particular handicap a stiff one.
Heathcroft had been in the habit of beating me in two out of three
of our matches. However, I determined to play my best. Being the only
outlander on the course I couldn't help feeling that the sporting
reputation of Yankeeland rested, for this day at least, upon my
shoulders.

The players were sent off in pairs, the less skilled first. Heathcroft
and I were next to the last. A London attorney by the name of Jaynes
and a Wrayton divine named Wilson followed us. Their rating was one plus
and, judging by the conversation of the "gallery," they were looked upon
as winners of the first and second prizes respectively. The Reverend Mr.
Wilson was called, behind his back, "the sporting curate." In gorgeous
tweeds and a shepherd's plaid cap he looked the part.

The first nine went to me. An usually long drive and a lucky putt on the
eighth gave me the round by one. I played with care and tried my
hardest to keep my mind on the game. Heathcroft was, as always, calm and
careful, but between tees he was pleased to be chatty and affable.

"And how is the aunt with the odd name, Knowles?" he inquired. "Does she
still devour her--er--washing flannels and treacle for breakfast?"

"She does when she cares to," I replied. "She is an independent lady, as
I think you know."

"My word! I believe you. And how are the literary labors progressing? I
had my bookselling fellow look up a novel of yours the other day. Began
it that same night, by Jove! It was quite interesting, really. I should
have finished it, I think, but some of the chaps at the club telephoned
me to join them for a bit of bridge and of course that ended literature
for the time. My respected aunt tells me I'm quite dotty on bridge. She
foresees a gambler's end for me, stony broke, languishing in dungeons
and all that sort of thing. I am to die of starvation, I think. Is it
starvation gamblers die of? 'Pon my soul, I should say most of those I
know would be more likely to die of thirst. Rather!"

Later on he asked another question.

"And how is the pretty niece, Knowles?" he inquired. "When is she coming
back to the monastery or the nunnery or rectory, or whatever it is?"

"I don't know," I replied, curtly.

"Oh, I say! Isn't she coming at all? That would be a calamity, now
wouldn't it? Not to me in particular. I should mind your notice boards,
of course. But if I were condemned, as you are, to spend a summer among
the feminine beauties of Mayberry, a face like hers would be like a
whisky and soda in a thirsty land, as a chap I know is fond of saying.
Oh, and by the way, speaking of your niece, I had a curious experience
in Paris a week ago. Most extraordinary thing. For the moment I began
to believe I really was going dotty, as Auntie fears. I... Your drive,
Knowles. I'll tell you the story later."

He did not tell it during that round, forgot it probably. I did not
remind him. The longer he kept clear of the subject of my "niece" the
more satisfied I was. We lunched in the pavilion by the first tee. There
were sandwiches and biscuits--crackers, of course--and cakes and sweets
galore. Also thirst-quenching materials sufficient to satisfy even the
gamblers of Mr. Heathcroft's acquaintance. The "sporting curate," behind
a huge Scotch and soda, was relating his mishaps in approaching the
seventh hole for the benefit of his brother churchmen, Messrs. Judson
and Worcester. Lady Carey was dilating upon her pet subject, the talents
and virtues of "Carleton, dear," for the benefit of the London attorney,
who was pretending to listen with the respectful interest due blood and
title, but who was thinking of something else, I am sure. "Carleton,
dear," himself, was chatting languidly with young Bayliss. The latter
seemed greatly interested. There was a curious expression on his face.
I was surprised to see him so cordial to Heathcroft; I knew he did not
like Lady Carey's nephew.

The second and final round of the tournament began. For six holes
Heathcroft and I broke even. The seventh he won, making us square for
the match so far and, with an equal number of strokes. The eighth we
halved. All depended on the ninth. Halving there would mean a drawn
match between us and a drawing for choice of prizes, provided we were in
the prize-winning class. A win for either of us meant the match itself.

Heathcroft, in spite of the close play, was as bland and unconcerned as
ever. I tried to appear likewise. As a matter of fact, I wanted to win.
Not because of the possible prize, I cared little for that, but for the
pleasure of winning against him. We drove from the ninth tee, each got
a long brassy shot which put us on the edge of the green, and then
strolled up the hill together.

"I say, Knowles," he observed; "I haven't finished telling you of my
Paris experience, have I. Odd coincidence, by Jove! I was telling young
Bayliss about it just now and he thought it odd, too. I was--some other
chaps and I drifted into the Abbey over in Paris a week or so ago and
while we were there a girl came out and sang. She was an extremely
pretty girl, you understand, but that wasn't the extraordinary part of
it. She was the image--my word! the very picture of your niece, Miss
Morley. It quite staggered me for the moment. Upon my soul I thought it
was she! She sang extremely well, but not for long. I tried to get near
her--meant to speak to her, you know, but she had gone before I reached
her. Eh! What did you say?"

I had not said anything--at least I think I had not. He misinterpreted
my silence.

"Oh, you mustn't be offended," he said, laughing. "Of course I knew
it wasn't she--that is, I should have known it if I hadn't been so
staggered by the resemblance. It was amazing, that resemblance. The
face, the voice--everything was like hers. I was so dotty about it that
I even hunted up one of the chaps in charge and asked him who the
girl was. He said she was an Austrian--Mademoiselle Juno or Junotte or
something. That ended it, of course. I was a fool to imagine anything
else, of course. But you would have been a bit staggered if you had
seen her. And she didn't look Austrian, either. She looked English or
American--rather! I say, I hope I haven't hurt your feelings, old chap.
I apologize to you and Miss Morley, you understand. I couldn't help
telling you; it was extraordinary now, wasn't it."

I made some answer. He rattled on about that sort of thing making one
believe in the Prisoner of Zenda stuff, doubles and all that. We reached
the green. My ball lay nearest the pin and it was his putt. He made
it, a beauty, the ball halting just at the edge of the cup. My putt
was wild. He holed out on the next shot. It took me two and I had to
concentrate my thought by main strength even then. The hole and match
were his.

He was very decent about it, proclaimed himself lucky, declared I had,
generally speaking, played much the better game and should have won
easily. I paid little attention to what he said although I did, of
course, congratulate him and laughed at the idea that luck had anything
to do with the result. I no longer cared about the match or the
tournament in general or anything connected with them. His story of the
girl who was singing in Paris was what I was interested in now. I wanted
him to tell me more, to give me particulars. I wanted to ask him a dozen
questions; and, yet, excited as I was, I realized that those questions
must be asked carefully. His suspicions must not be aroused.

Before I could ask the first of the dozen Mr. Handliss bustled over to
us to learn the result of our play and to announce that the distribution
of prizes would take place in a few moments; also that Lady Carey wished
to speak with her nephew. The latter sauntered off to join the group by
the pavilion and my opportunity for questioning had gone, for the time.

Of the distribution of prizes, with its accompanying ceremony, I seem
to recall very little. Lady Carey made a little speech, I remember that,
but just what she said I have forgotten. "Much pleasure in rewarding
skill," "Dear old Scottish game," "English sportsmanship," "Race not to
the swift"--I must have been splashed with these drops from the fountain
of oratory, for they stick in my memory. Then, in turn, the winners were
called up to select their prizes. Wilson, the London attorney, headed
the list; the sporting curate came next; Heathcroft next; and then I.
It had not occurred to me that I should win a prize. In fact I had not
thought anything about it. My thoughts were far from the golf course
just then. They were in Paris, in a cathedral--Heathcroft had called it
an abbey, but cathedral he must have meant--where a girl who looked like
Frances Morley was singing.

However, when Mr. Handliss called my name I answered and stepped
forward. Her Ladyship said something or other about "our cousin from
across the sea" and "Anglo-Saxon blood" and her especial pleasure in
awarding the prize. I stammered thanks, rather incoherently expressed
they were, I fear, selected the first article that came to hand--it
happened to be a cigarette case; I never smoke cigarettes--and retired
to the outer circle. The other winners--Herbert Bayliss and Worcester
among them--selected their prizes and then Mr. Wilson, winner of the
tournament, speaking in behalf of us all, thanked the hostess for her
kindness and hospitality.

Her gracious invitation to play upon the Manor-House course Mr. Wilson
mentioned feelingly. Also the gracious condescension in presenting the
prizes with her own hand. They would be cherished, not only for their
own sake, but for that of the donor. He begged the liberty of proposing
her ladyship's health.

The "liberty" was, apparently, expected, for Mr. Handliss had full
glasses ready and waiting. The health was drunk. Lady Carey drank ours
in return, and the ceremony was over.

I tried in vain to get another word with Heathcroft. He was in
conversation with his aunt and several of the feminine friends and,
although I waited for some time, I, at last, gave up the attempt and
walked home. The Reverend Judson would have accompanied me, but I
avoided him. I did not wish to listen to Mayberry gossip; I wanted to be
alone.

Heathcroft's tale had made a great impression upon me--a most
unreasonable impression, unwarranted by the scant facts as he related
them. The girl whom he had seen resembled Frances--yes; but she was an
Austrian, her name was not Morley. And resemblances were common enough.
That Frances should be singing in a Paris church was most improbable;
but, so far as that went, the fact of A. Carleton Heathcroft's attending
a church service I should, ordinarily, have considered improbable.
Improbable things did happen. Suppose the girl he had seen was Frances.
My heart leaped at the thought.

But even supposing it was she, what difference did it make--to me? None,
of course. She had asked us not to follow her, to make no attempt to
find her. I had preached compliance with her wish to Hephzy, to Doctor
Bayliss--yes, to Herbert Bayliss that very afternoon. But Herbert
Bayliss was sworn to find her, in spite of me, in spite of the Evil One.
And Heathcroft had told young Bayliss the same story he had told me. HE
would not be deterred by scruples; her wish would not prevent his going
to Paris in search of her.

I reached the rectory, to be welcomed by Hephzy with questions
concerning the outcome of the tournament and triumphant gloatings over
my perfectly useless prize. I did not tell her of Heathcroft's story.
I merely said I had met that gentleman and that Herbert Bayliss had
returned to Mayberry. And I asked a question.

"Hephzy," I asked, "when do the Heptons leave Paris for their trip
through Switzerland?"

Hephzy considered. "Let me see," she said. "Today is the eighteenth,
isn't it. They start on the twenty-second; that's four days from now."

"Of course you have written them that we cannot accept their invitation
to go along?"

She hesitated. "Why, no," she admitted, "I haven't. That is, I have
written 'em, but I haven't posted the letter. Humph! did you notice
that 'posted'? Shows what livin' in a different place'll do even to
as settled a body as I am. In Bayport I should have said 'mailed' the
letter, same as anybody else. I must be careful or I'll go back home
and call the expressman a 'carrier' and a pie a 'tart' and a cracker a
'biscuit.' Land sakes! I remember readin' how David Copperfield's aunt
always used to eat biscuits soaked in port wine before she went to bed.
I used to think 'twas dreadful dissipated business and that the old
lady must have been ready for bed by the time she got through. You see
I always had riz biscuits in mind. A cracker's different; crackers don't
soak up much. We'd ought to be careful how we judge folks, hadn't we,
Hosy."

"Yes," said I, absently. "So you haven't posted the letter to the
Heptons. Why not?"

"Well--well, to tell you the truth, Hosy, I was kind of hopin' you might
change your mind and decide to go, after all. I wish you would; 'twould
do you good. And," wistfully, "Switzerland must be lovely. But there! I
know just how you feel, you poor boy. I'll mail the letter to-night."

"Give it to me," said I. "I'll--I'll see to it."

Hephzy handed me the letter. I put it in my pocket, but I did not
post it that evening. A plan--or the possible beginning of a plan--was
forming in my mind.

That night was another of my bad ones. The little sleep I had was filled
with dreams, dreams from which I awoke to toss restlessly. I rose and
walked the floor, calling myself a fool, a silly old fool, over and
over again. But when morning came my plan, a ridiculous, wild plan from
which, even if it succeeded--which was most unlikely--nothing but added
trouble and despair could possibly come, my plan was nearer its ultimate
formation.

At eleven o'clock that forenoon I walked up the marble steps of the
Manor House and rang the bell. The butler, an exalted personage in
livery, answered my ring. Mr. Heathcroft? No, sir. Mr. Heathcroft had
left for London by the morning train. Her ladyship was in her boudoir.
She did not see anyone in the morning, sir. I had no wish to see her
ladyship, but Heathcroft's departure was a distinct disappointment. I
thanked the butler and, remembering that even cathedral ushers accepted
tips, slipped a shilling into his hand. His dignity thawed at the silver
touch, and he expressed regret at Mr. Heathcroft's absence.

"You're not the only gentleman who has been here to see him this
morning, sir," he said. "Doctor Bayliss, the younger one, called about
an hour ago. He seemed quite as sorry to find him gone as you are, sir."

I think that settled it. When I again entered the rectory my mind was
made up. The decision was foolish, insane, even dishonorable perhaps,
but the decision was made.

"Hephzy," said I, "I have changed my mind. Travel may do me good. I have
telegraphed the Heptons that we will join them in Paris on the evening
of the twenty-first. After that--Well, we'll see."

Hephzy's delight was as great as her surprise. She said I was a dear,
unselfish boy. Considering what I intended doing I felt decidedly mean;
but I did not tell her what that intention was.

We took the two-twenty train from Charing Cross on the afternoon of the
twenty-first. The servants had been left in charge of the rectory. We
would return in a fortnight, so we told them.

It was a beautiful day, bright and sunshiny, but, after smoky, grimy
London had been left behind and we were whizzing through the Kentish
countryside, between the hop fields and the pastures where the sheep
were feeding, we noticed that a stiff breeze was blowing. Further on,
as we wound amid the downs near Folkestone, the bending trees and shrubs
proved that the breeze was a miniature gale. And when we came in sight
of the Channel, it was thickly sprinkled with whitecaps from beach to
horizon.

"I imagine we shall have a rather rough passage, Hephzy," said I.

Hephzy's attention was otherwise engaged.

"Why do they call a hill a 'down' over here?" she asked. "I should think
an 'up' would be better. What did you say, Hosy? A rough passage? I
guess that won't bother you and me much. This little mite of water can't
seem very much stirred up to folks who have sailed clear across the
Atlantic Ocean. But there! I mustn't put on airs. I used to think Cape
Cod Bay was about all the water there was. Travelin' does make such
a difference in a person's ideas. Do you remember the Englishwoman at
Bancroft's who told me that she supposed the Thames must remind us of
our own Mississippi?"

"So that's the famous English Channel, is it," she observed, a moment
later. "How wide is it, Hosy?"

"About twenty miles at the narrowest point, I believe," I said.

"Twenty miles! About as far as Bayport to Provincetown. Well, I don't
know whether any of your ancestors or mine came over with William the
Conquerer or not, but if they did, they didn't have far to come. I
cal'late I'll be contented with having my folks cross in the Mayflower.
They came three thousand miles anyway."

She was inclined to regard the Channel rather contemptuously just then.
A half hour later she was more respectful.

The steamer was awaiting us at the pier. As the throng of passengers
filed up the gang-plank she suddenly squeezed my arm.

"Look! Hosy!" she cried. "Look! Isn't that him?"

I looked where she was pointing.

"Him? Who?" I asked.

"Look! There he goes now. No, he's gone. I can't see him any more. And
yet I was almost certain 'twas him."

"Who?" I asked again. "Did you see someone you knew?"

"I thought I did, but I guess I was mistaken. He's just got home; he
wouldn't be startin' off again so soon. No, it couldn't have been him,
but I did think--"

I stopped short. "Who did you think you saw?" I demanded.

"I thought I saw Doctor Herbert Bayliss goin' up those stairs to the
steamboat. It looked like him enough to be his twin brother, if he had
one."

I did not answer. I looked about as we stepped aboard the boat, but
if young Bayliss was there he was not in sight. Hephzy rattled on
excitedly.

"You can't tell much by seein' folks's backs," she declared. "I remember
one time your cousin Hezekiah Knowles--You don't remember him, Hosy; he
died when you was little--One time Cousin Hezzy was up to Boston with
his wife and they was shoppin' in one of the big stores. That is, Martha
Ann--the wife--was shoppin' and he was taggin' along and complainin',
same as men generally do. He was kind of nearsighted, Hezzy was, and
when Martha was fightin' to get a place in front of a bargain counter he
stayed astern and kept his eyes fixed on a hat she was wearin'. 'Twas a
new hat with blue and yellow flowers on it. Hezzy always said, when he
told the yarn afterward, that he never once figured that there could
be another hat like that one. I saw it myself and, if I'd been in his
place, I'd have HOPED there wasn't anyway. Well, he followed that hat
from one counter to another and, at last, he stepped up and said, 'Look
here, dearie,' he says--They hadn't been married very long, not long
enough to get out of the mushy stage--'Look here, dearie,' he says,
'hadn't we better be gettin' on home? You'll tire those little feet of
yours all out trottin' around this way.' And when the hat turned around
there was a face under it as black as a crow. He'd been followin' a
darkey woman for ten minutes. She thought he was makin' fun of her feet
and was awful mad, and when Martha came along and found who he'd taken
for her she was madder still. Hezzy said, 'I couldn't help it, Martha.
Nobody could. I never saw two craft look more alike from twenty foot
astern. And she wears that hat just the way you do.' That didn't help
matters any, of course, and--Why, Hosy, where are you goin'? Why don't
you say somethin'? Hadn't we better sit down? All the good seats will be
gone if we don't."

I had been struggling through the crowd, trying my best to get a glimpse
of the man she had thought to be Herbert Bayliss. If it was he then my
suspicions were confirmed. Heathcroft's story of the girl who sang in
Paris had impressed him as it had me and he was on his way to see for
himself. But the man, whoever he might be, had disappeared.

"How the wind does blow," said Hephzy. "What are the people doin' with
those black tarpaulins?"

Sailors in uniform were passing among the seated passengers distributing
large squares of black waterproof canvas. I watched the use to which the
tarpaulins were put and I understood. I beckoned to the nearest sailor
and rented two of the canvases for use during the voyage.

"How much?" I asked.

"One franc each," said the man, curtly.

I had visited the money-changers near the Charing Cross station and was
prepared. Hephzy's eyes opened.

"A franc," she repeated. "That's French money, isn't it. Is he a
Frenchman?"

"Yes," said I. "This is a French boat, I think."

She watched the sailor for a moment. Then she sighed.

"And he's a Frenchman," she said. "I thought Frenchmen wore mustaches
and goatees and were awful polite. He was about as polite as a pig.
And all he needs is a hand-organ and a monkey to be an Italian. A body
couldn't tell the difference without specs. What did you get those
tarpaulins for, Hosy?"

I covered our traveling bags with one of the tarpaulins, as I saw our
fellow-passengers doing, and the other I tucked about Hephzy, enveloping
her from her waist down.

"I don't need that," she protested. "It isn't cold and it isn't rainin',
either. I tell you I don't need it, Hosy. Don't tuck me in any more. I
feel as if I was goin' to France in a baby carriage, not a steamboat.
And what are they passin' round those--those tin dippers for?"

"They may be useful later on," I said, watching the seas leap and
foam against the stone breakwater. "You'll probably understand later,
Hephzy."

She understood. The breakwater was scarcely passed when our boat, which
had seemed so large and steady and substantial, began to manifest a
desire to stand on both ends at once and to roll like a log in a rapid.
The sun was shining brightly overhead, the verandas of the hotels along
the beach were crowded with gaily dressed people, the surf fringing
that beach was dotted with bathers, everything on shore wore a look of
holiday and joy--and yet out here, on the edge of the Channel, there was
anything but calm and anything but joy.

How that blessed boat did toss and rock and dip and leap and pitch! And
how the spray began to fly as we pushed farther and farther from land!
It came over the bows in sheets; it swept before the wind in showers,
in torrents. Hephzy hastily removed her hat and thrust it beneath the
tarpaulin. I turned up the collar of my steamer coat and slid as far
down into that collar as I could.

"My soul!" exclaimed Hephzy, the salt water running down her face. "My
soul and body!"

"I agree with you," said I.

On we went, over the waves or through them. Our fellow-passengers curled
up beneath their tarpaulins, smiled stoically or groaned dismally,
according to their dispositions--or digestions. A huge wave--the upper
third of it, at least--swept across the deck and spilled a gallon or two
of cold water upon us. A sturdy, red-faced Englishman, sitting next me,
grinned cheerfully and observed:

"Trickles down one's neck a bit, doesn't it, sir."

I agreed that it did. Hephzy, huddled under the lee of my shoulder,
sputtered.

"Trickles!" she whispered. "My heavens and earth! If this is a trickle
then Noah's flood couldn't have been more than a splash. Trickles!
There's a Niagara Falls back of both of my ears this minute."

Another passenger, also English, but gray-haired and elderly, came
tacking down the deck, bound somewhere or other. His was a zig-zag
transit. He dove for the rail, caught it, steadied himself, took a fresh
start, swooped to the row of chairs by the deck house, carromed from
them, and, in company with a barrel or two of flying brine, came head
first into my lap. I expected profanity and temper. I did get a little
of the former.

"This damned French boat!" he observed, rising with difficulty. "She
absolutely WON'T be still."

"The sea is pretty rough."

"Oh, the sea is all right. A bit damp, that's all. It's the blessed
boat. Foreigners are such wretched sailors."

He was off on another tack. Hephzy watched him wonderingly.

"A bit damp," she repeated. "Yes, I shouldn't wonder if 'twas. I suppose
likely he wouldn't call it wet if he fell overboard."

"Not on this side of the Channel," I answered. "This side is English
water, therefore it is all right."

A few minutes later Hephzy spoke again.

"Look at those poor women," she said.

Opposite us were two English ladies, middle-aged, wretchedly ill and so
wet that the feathers on their hats hung down in strings.

"Just like drowned cats' tails," observed Hephzy. "Ain't it awful!
And they're too miserable to care. You poor thing," she said, leaning
forward and addressing the nearest, "can't I fix you so you're more
comfortable?"

The woman addressed looked up and tried her best to smile.

"Oh, no, thank you," she said, weakly but cheerfully. "We're doing quite
well. It will soon be over."

Hephzy shook her head.

"Did you hear that, Hosy?" she whispered. "I declare! if it wasn't off
already, and that's a mercy, I'd take off my hat to England and the
English people. Not a whimper, not a complaint, just sit still and soak
and tumble around and grin and say it's 'a bit damp.' Whenever I read
about the grumblin', fault-findin' Englishman I'll think of the folks on
this boat. It may be patriotism or it may be the race pride and reserve
we hear so much about--but, whatever it is, it's fine. They've all got
it, men and women and children. I presume likely the boy that stood on
the burnin' deck would have said 'twas a bit sultry, and that's all....
What is it, Hosy?"

I had uttered an exclamation. A young man had just reeled by us on his
way forward. His cap was pulled down over his eyes and his coat collar
was turned up, but I recognized him. He was Herbert Bayliss.

We were three hours crossing from Folkestone to Boulogne, instead of the
usual scant two. We entered the harbor, where the great crucifix on the
hill above the town attracted Hephzy's attention and the French signs
over the doors of hotels and shops by the quay made her realize, so she
said, that we really were in a foreign country.

"Somehow England never did seem so very foreign," she said. "And the
Mayberry folks were so nice and homey and kind I've come to think of 'em
as, not just neighbors, but friends. But this--THIS is foreign enough,
goodness knows! Let go of my arm!" to the smiling, gesticulating porter
who was proffering his services. "DON'T wave your hands like that; you
make me dizzy. Keep 'em still, man! I could understand you just as well
if they was tied. Hosy, you'll have to be skipper from now on. Now I
KNOW Cape Cod is three thousand miles off."

We got through the customs without trouble, found our places in the
train, and the train, after backing and fussing and fidgeting and
tooting in a manner thoroughly French, rolled out of the station.

We ate our dinner, and a very good dinner it was, in the dining-car.
Hephzy, having asked me to translate the heading "Compagnie
Internationale des Wagon Lits" on the bill of fare, declared she
couldn't see why a dining-car should be called a "wagon bed." "There's
enough to eat to put you to sleep," she declared, "but you couldn't
stay asleep any more than you could in the nail factory up to Tremont. I
never heard such a rattlin' and slambangin' in my life."

We whizzed through the French country, catching glimpses of little
towns, with red-roofed cottages clustered about the inevitable church
and chateau, until night came and looking out of the window was no
longer profitable. At nine, or thereabouts, we alighted from the train
at Paris.

In the cab, on the way to the hotel where we were to meet the Heptons,
Hephzy talked incessantly.

"Paris!" she said, over and over again. "Paris! where they had the Three
Musketeers and Notre Dame and Henry of Navarre and Saint Bartholomew and
Napoleon and the guillotine and Innocents Abroad and--and everything.
Paris! And I'm in it!"

At the door of the hotel Mr. Hepton met us.

Before we retired that night I told Hephzy what I had deferred telling
until then, namely, that I did not intend leaving for Switzerland with
her and with the Heptons the following day. I did not tell her my real
reason for staying; I had invented a reason and told her that instead.

"I want to be alone here in Paris for a few days," I said. "I think I
may find some material here which will help me with my novel. You and
the Heptons must go, just as you have planned, and I will join you at
Lucerne or Interlaken."

Hephzy stared at me.

"I sha'n't stir one step without you," she declared. "If I'd known you
had such an idea as that in your head I--"

"You wouldn't have come," I interrupted. "I know that; that's why I
didn't tell you. Of course you will go and of course you will leave me
here. We will be separated only two or three days. I'll ask Hepton to
give me an itinerary of the trip and I will wire when and where I will
join you. You must go, Hephzy; I insist upon it."

In spite of my insisting Hephzy still declared she should not go. It was
nearly midnight before she gave in.

"And if you DON'T come in three days at the longest," she said, "you'll
find me back here huntin' you up. I mean that, Hosy, so you'd better
understand it. And now," rising from her chair, "I'm goin' to see about
the things you're to wear while we're separated. If I don't you're
liable to keep on wet stockin's and shoes and things all the time and
forget to change 'em. You needn't say you won't, for I know you too
well. Mercy sakes! do you suppose I've taken care of you all these years
and DON'T know?"

The next forenoon I said good-by to her and the Heptons at the railway
station. Hephzy's last words to me were these:

"Remember," she said, "if you do get caught in the rain, there's dry
things in the lower tray of your trunk. Collars and neckties and shirts
are in the upper tray. I've hung your dress suit in the closet in case
you want it, though that isn't likely. And be careful what you eat, and
don't smoke too much, and--Yes, Mr. Hepton, I'm comin'--and don't spend
ALL your money in book-stores; you'll need some of it in Switzerland.
And--Oh, dear, Hosy! do be a good boy. I know you're always good, but,
from all I've heard, this Paris is an awful place and--good-by. Good-by.
In Lucerne in two days or Interlaken in three. It's got to be that,
or back I come, remember. I HATE to leave you all alone amongst these
jabberin' foreigners. I'm glad you can jabber, too, that's one comfort.
If it was me, all I could do would be to holler United States language
at 'em, and if they didn't understand that, just holler louder. I--Yes,
Mr. Hepton, I AM comin' now. Good-by, Hosy, dear."

The train rolled out of the station. I watched it go. Then I turned and
walked to the street. So far my scheme had worked well. I was alone
in Paris as I had planned to be. And now--and now to find where a girl
sang, a girl who looked like Frances Morley.



CHAPTER XV

In Which I Learn that All Abbeys Are Not Churches


And that, now that I really stopped to consider it, began to appear more
and more of a task. Paris must be full of churches; to visit each of
them in turn would take weeks at least. Hephzy had given me three days.
I must join her at Interlaken in three days or there would be trouble.
And how was I to make even the most superficial search in three days?

Of course I had realized something of this before. Even in the state of
mind which Heathcroft's story had left me, I had realized that my errand
in Paris was a difficult one. I realized that I had set out on the
wildest of wild goose chases and that, even in the improbable event
of the singer's being Frances, my finding her was most unlikely. The
chances of success were a hundred to one against me. But I was in the
mood to take the hundredth chance. I should have taken it if the odds
were higher still. My plan--if it could be called a plan--was first of
all to buy a Paris Baedeker and look over the list of churches. This I
did, and, back in the hotel room, I consulted that list. It staggered
me. There were churches enough--there were far too many. Cathedrals and
chapels and churches galore--Catholic and Protestant. But there was no
church calling itself an abbey. I closed the Baedeker, lit a cigar, and
settled myself for further reflection.

The girl was singing somewhere and she called herself Mademoiselle Juno
or Junotte, so Heathcroft had said. So much I knew and that was all.
It was very, very little. But Herbert Bayliss had come to Paris, I
believed, because of what Heathcroft had told him. Did he know more
than I? It was possible. At any rate he had come. I had seen him on
the steamer, and I believed he had seen and recognized me. Of course
he might not be in Paris now; he might have gone elsewhere. I did not
believe it, however. I believed he had crossed the Channel on the same
errand as I. There was a possible chance. I might, if the other means
proved profitless, discover at which hotel Bayliss was staying and
question him. He might tell me nothing, even if he knew, but I could
keep him in sight, I could follow him and discover where he went.
It would be dishonorable, perhaps, but I was desperate and doggedly
regardless of scruples. I was set upon one thing--to find her, to see
her and speak with her again.

Shadowing Bayliss, however, I set aside as a last resort. Before that I
would search on my own hook. And, tossing aside the useless Baedeker,
I tried to think of someone whose advice might be of value. At last,
I resolved to question the concierge of the hotel. Concierges, I
knew, were the ever present helps of travelers in trouble. They knew
everything, spoke all languages, and expected to be asked all sorts of
unreasonable questions.

The concierge at my hotel was a transcendant specimen of his talented
class. His name and title was Monsieur Louis--at least that is what I
had heard the other guests call him. And the questions which he had been
called upon to answer, in my hearing, ranged in subject from the hour of
closing the Luxemburg galleries to that of opening the Bal Tabarin, with
various interruptions during which he settled squabbles over cab fares,
took orders for theater and opera tickets, and explained why fruit at
the tables of the Cafe des Ambassadeurs was so very expensive.

Monsieur Louis received me politely, listened, with every appearance of
interest, to my tale of a young lady, a relative, who was singing at one
of the Paris churches and whose name was Juno or Junotte, but, when I
had finished, reluctantly shook his head. There were many, many churches
in Paris--yes, and, at some of them, young ladies sang; but these were,
for the most part, the Protestant churches. At the larger churches, the
Catholic churches, most of the singers were men or boys. He could recall
none where a lady of that name sang. Monsieur had not been told the name
of the church?

"The person who told me referred to it as an abbey," I said.

Louis raised his shoulders. "I am sorry, Monsieur," he said, "but there
is no abbey, where ladies sing, in Paris. It is, alas, regrettable, but
it is so."

He announced it as he might have broken to me the news of the death of
a friend. Incidentally, having heard a few sentences of my French, he
spoke in English, very good English.

"I will, however, make inquiries, Monsieur," he went on. "Possibly I may
discover something which will be of help to Monsieur in his difficulty."
In the meantime there was to be a parade of troops at the Champ de
Mars at four, and the evening performance at the Folies Bergeres was
unusually good and English and American gentlemen always enjoyed it. It
would give him pleasure to book a place for me.

I thanked him but I declined the offer, so far as the Folies were
concerned. I did ask him, however, to give me the name of a few churches
at which ladies sang. This he did and I set out to find them, in a cab
which whizzed through the Paris streets as if the driver was bent upon
suicide and manslaughter.

I visited four places of worship that afternoon and two more that
evening. Those in charge--for I attended no services--knew nothing of
Mademoiselle Junotte or Juno. I retired at ten, somewhat discouraged,
but stubbornly determined to keep on, for my three days at least.

The next morning I consulted Baedeker again, this time for the list of
hotels, a list which I found quite as lengthy as that of the churches.
Then I once more sought the help of Monsieur Louis. Could he tell me a
few of the hotels where English visitors were most likely to stay.

He could do more than that, apparently. Would I be so good as to inform
him if the lady or gentleman--being Parisian he put the lady first--whom
I wished to find had recently arrived in Paris. I told him that the
gentleman had arrived the same evening as I. Whereupon he produced
a list of guests at all the prominent hotels. Herbert Bayliss was
registered at the Continental.

To the Continental I went and made inquiries of the concierge there.
Mr. Bayliss was there, he was in his room, so the concierge believed. He
would be pleased to ascertain. Would I give my name? I declined to give
the name, saying that I did not wish to disturb Mr. Bayliss. If he was
in his room I would wait until he came down. He was in his room, had not
yet breakfasted, although it was nearly ten in the forenoon. I sat down
in a chair from which I could command a good view of the elevators, and
waited.

The concierge strolled over and chatted. Was I a friend of Mr. Bayliss?
Ah, a charming young gentleman, was he not. This was not his first visit
to Paris, no indeed; he came frequently--though not as frequently of
late--and he invariably stayed at the Continental. He had been out late
the evening before, which doubtless explained his non-appearance. Ah,
he was breakfasting now; had ordered his "cafe complete." Doubtless he
would be down very soon? Would I wish to send up my name now?

Again I declined, to the polite astonishment of the concierge, who
evidently considered me a queer sort of a friend. He was called to his
desk by a guest, who wished to ask questions, of course, and I waited
where I was. At a quarter to eleven Herbert Bayliss emerged from the
elevator.

His appearance almost shocked me. Out late the night before! He looked
as if he had been out all night for many nights. He was pale and solemn.
I stepped forward to greet him and the start he gave when he saw me
was evidence of the state of his nerves. I had never thought of him as
possessing any nerves.

"Eh? Why, Knowles!" he exclaimed.

"Good morning, Bayliss," said I.

We both were embarrassed, he more than I, for I had expected to see him
and he had not expected to see me. I made a move to shake hands but he
did not respond. His manner toward me was formal and, I thought, colder
than it had been at our meeting the day of the golf tournament.

"I called," I said, "to see you, Bayliss. If you are not engaged I
should like to talk with you for a few moments."

His answer was a question.

"How did you know I was here?" he asked.

"I saw your name in the list of recent arrivals at the Continental," I
answered.

"I mean how did you know I was in Paris?"

"I didn't know. I thought I caught a glimpse of you on the boat. I was
almost sure it was you, but you did not appear to recognize me and I had
no opportunity to speak then."

He did not speak at once, he did not even attempt denial of having seen
and recognized me during the Channel crossing. He regarded me intently
and, I thought, suspiciously.

"Who sent you here?" he asked, suddenly.

"Sent me! No one sent me. I don't understand you."

"Why did you follow me?"

"Follow you?"

"Yes. Why did you follow me to Paris? No one knew I was coming here,
not even my own people. They think I am--Well, they don't know that I am
here."

His speech and his manner were decidedly irritating. I had made a firm
resolve to keep my temper, no matter what the result of this interview
might be, but I could not help answering rather sharply.

"I had no intention of following you--here or anywhere else," I said.
"Your action and whereabouts, generally speaking, are of no particular
interest to me. I did not follow you to Paris, Doctor Bayliss."

He reddened and hesitated. Then he led the way to a divan in a retired
corner of the lobby and motioned to me to be seated. There he sat down
beside me and waited for me to speak. I, in turn, waited for him to
speak.

At last he spoke.

"I'm sorry, Knowles," he said. "I am not myself today. I've had a devil
of a night and I feel like a beast this morning. I should probably have
insulted my own father, had he appeared suddenly, as you did. Of course
I should have known you did not follow me to Paris. But--but why did you
come?"

I hesitated now. "I came," I said, "to--to--Well, to be perfectly honest
with you, I came because of something I heard concerning--concerning--"

He interrupted me. "Then Heathcroft did tell you!" he exclaimed. "I
thought as much."

"He told you, I know. He said he did."

"Yes. He did. My God, man, isn't it awful! Have you seen her?"

His manner convinced me that he had seen her. In my eagerness I forgot
to be careful.

"No," I answered, breathlessly; "I have not seen her. Where is she?"

He turned and stared at me.

"Don't you know where she is?" he asked, slowly.

"I know nothing. I have been told that she--or someone very like her--is
singing in a Paris church. Heathcroft told me that and then we were
interrupted. I--What is the matter?"

He was staring at me more oddly than ever. There was the strangest
expression on his face.

"In a church!" he repeated. "Heathcroft told you--"

"He told me that he had seen a girl, whose resemblance to Miss Morley
was so striking as to be marvelous, singing in a Paris church. He called
it an abbey, but of course it couldn't be that. Do you know anything
more definite? What did he tell you?"

He did not answer.

"In a church!" he said again. "You thought--Oh, good heavens!"

He began to laugh. It was not a pleasant laugh to hear. Moreover, it
angered me.

"This may be very humorous," I said, brusquely. "Perhaps it is--to you.
But--Bayliss, you know more of this than I. I am certain now that you
do. I want you to tell me what you know. Is that girl Frances Morley?
Have you seen her? Where is she?"

He had stopped laughing. Now he seemed to be considering.

"Then you did come over here to find her," he said, more slowly still.
"You were following her, why?"

"WHY?"

"Yes, why. She is nothing to you. You told my father that. You told me
that she was not your niece. You told Father that you had no claim upon
her whatever and that she had asked you not to try to trace her or to
learn where she was. You said all that and preached about respecting her
wish and all that sort of thing. And yet you are here now trying to find
her."

The only answer I could make to this was a rather childish retort.

"And so are you," I said.

His fists clinched.

"I!" he cried, fiercely. "I! Did _I_ ever say she was nothing to me? Did
_I_ ever tell anyone I should not try to find her? I told you, only
the other day, that I would find her in spite of the devil. I meant it.
Knowles, I don't understand you. When I came to you thinking you her
uncle and guardian, and asked your permission to ask her to marry me,
you gave that permission. You did. You didn't tell me that she was
nothing to you. I don't understand you at all. You told my father a lot
of rot--"

"I told your father the truth. And, when I told you that she had left
no message for you, that was the truth also. I have no reason to believe
she cares for you--"

"And none to think that she doesn't. At all events she did not tell ME
not to follow her. She did tell you. Why are you following her?"

It was a question I could not answer--to him. That reason no one should
know. And yet what excuse could I give, after all my protestations?

"I--I feel that I have the right, everything considered," I stammered.
"She is not my niece, but she is Miss Cahoon's."

"And she ran away from both of you, asking, as a last request, that you
both make no attempt to learn where she was. The whole affair is beyond
understanding. What the truth may be--"

"Are you hinting that I have lied to you?"

"I am not hinting at anything. All I can say is that it is deuced queer,
all of it. And I sha'n't say more."

"Will you tell me--"

"I shall tell you nothing. That would be her wish, according to your own
statement and I will respect that wish, if you don't."

I rose to my feet. There was little use in an open quarrel between us
and I was by far the older man. Yes, and his position was infinitely
stronger than mine, as he understood it. But I never was more strongly
tempted. He knew where she was. He had seen her. The thought was
maddening.

He had risen also and was facing me defiantly.

"Good morning, Doctor Bayliss," said I, and walked away. I turned as I
reached the entrance of the hotel and looked back. He was still standing
there, staring at me.

That afternoon I spent in my room. There is little use describing my
feelings. That she was in Paris I was sure now. That Bayliss had seen
her I was equally sure. But why had he spoken and looked as he did
when I first spoke of Heathcroft's story? What had he meant by saying
something or other was "awful?" And why had he seemed so astonished, why
had he laughed in that strange way when I had said she was singing in a
church?

That evening I sought Monsieur Louis, the concierge, once more.

"Is there any building here in Paris," I asked, "a building in which
people sing, which is called an abbey? One that is not a church or an
abbey, but is called that?"

Louis looked at me in an odd way. He seemed a bit embarrassed, an
embarrassment I should not have expected from him.

"Monsieur asks the question," he said, smiling. "It was in my mind last
night, the thought, but Monsieur asked for a church. There is a place
called L'Abbaye and there young women sing, but--" he hesitated,
shrugged and then added, "but L'Abbaye is not a church. No, it is not
that."

"What is it?" I asked.

"A restaurant, Monsieur. A cafe chantant at Montmartre."

Montmartre at ten that evening was just beginning to awaken. At the hour
when respectable Paris, home-loving, domestic Paris, the Paris of which
the tourist sees so little, is thinking of retiring, Montmartre--or that
section of it in which L'Abbaye is situated--begins to open its eyes. At
ten-thirty, as my cab buzzed into the square and pulled up at the curb,
the electric signs were blazing, the sidewalks were, if not yet crowded,
at least well filled, and the sounds of music from the open windows of
The Dead Rat and the other cafes with the cheerful names were mingling
with noises of the street.

Monsieur Louis had given me my sailing orders, so to speak. He had
told me that arriving at L'Abbaye before ten-thirty was quite useless.
Midnight was the accepted hour, he said; prior to that I would find it
rather dull, triste. But after that--Ah, Monsieur would, at least, be
entertained.

"But of course Monsieur does not expect to find the young lady of whom
he is in search there," he said. "A relative is she not?"

Remembering that I had, when I first mentioned the object of my quest to
him, referred to her as a relative, I nodded.

He smiled and shrugged.

"A relative of Monsieur's would scarcely be found singing at L'Abbaye,"
he said. "But it is a most interesting place, entertaining and chic.
Many English and American gentlemen sup there after the theater."

I smiled and intimated that the desire to pass a pleasant evening was my
sole reason for visiting the place. He was certain I would be pleased.

The doorway of L'Abbaye was not deserted, even at the "triste" hour of
ten-thirty. Other cabs were drawn up at the curb and, upon the stairs
leading to the upper floors, were several gaily dressed couples bound,
as I had proclaimed myself to be, in search of supper and entertainment.
I had, acting upon the concierge's hint, arrayed myself in my evening
clothes and I handed my silk hat, purchased in London--where, as
Hephzy said, "a man without a tall hat is like a rooster without tail
feathers"--to a polite and busy attendant. Then a personage with a
very straight beard and a very curly mustache, ushered me into the main
dining-room.

"Monsieur would wish seats for how many?" he asked, in French.

"For myself only," I answered, also in French. His next remark was in
English. I was beginning to notice that when I addressed a Parisian in
his native language, he usually answered in mine. This may have been
because of a desire to please me, or in self-defence; I am inclined to
think the latter.

"Ah, for one only. This way, Monsieur."

I was given a seat at one end of a long table, and in a corner. There
were plenty of small tables yet unoccupied, but my guide was apparently
reserving these for couples or quartettes; at any rate he did not offer
one to me. I took the seat indicated.

"I shall wish to remain here for some time?" I said. "Probably the
entire--" I hesitated; considering the hour I scarcely knew whether to
say "evening" or "morning." At last I said "night" as a compromise.

The bearded person seemed doubtful.

"There will be a great demand later," he said. "To oblige Monsieur is of
course our desire, but.... Ah, merci, Monsieur, I will see that Monsieur
is not disturbed."

The reason for his change of heart was the universal one in restaurants.
He put the reason in his pocket and summoned a waiter to take my order.

I gave the order, a modest one, which dropped me a mile or two in the
waiter's estimation. However, after a glance at my fellow-diners at
nearby tables, I achieved a partial uplift by ordering a bottle of
extremely expensive wine. I had had the idea that, being in France, the
home of champagne, that beverage would be cheap or, at least, moderately
priced. But in L'Abbaye the idea seemed to be erroneous.

The wine was brought immediately; the supper was somewhat delayed. I
did not care. I had not come there to eat--or to drink, either, for that
matter. I had come--I scarcely knew why I had come. That Frances Morley
would be singing in a place like this I did not believe. This was the
sort of "abbey" that A. Carleton Heathcroft would be most likely to
visit, that was true, but that he had seen her here was most improbable.
The coincidence of the "abbey" name would not have brought me there, of
itself. Herbert Bayliss had given me to understand, although he had not
said it, that she was not singing in a church and he had found the idea
of her being where she was "awful." It was because of what he had said
that I had come, as a sort of last chance, a forlorn hope. Of course she
would not be here, a hired singer in a Paris night restaurant; that was
impossible.

How impossible it was likely to be I realized more fully during the
next hour. There was nothing particularly "awful" about L'Abbaye of
itself--at first, nor, perhaps, even later; at least the awfulness was
well covered. The program of entertainment was awful enough, if deadly
mediocrity is awful. A big darkey, dressed in a suit which reminded me
of the "end man" at an old-time minstrel show, sang "My Alabama Coon,"
accompanying himself, more or less intimately, on the banjo. I could
have heard the same thing, better done, at a ten cent theater in the
States, where this chap had doubtless served an apprenticeship. However,
the audience, which was growing larger every minute, seemed to find the
bellowing enjoyable and applauded loudly. Then a feminine person did a
Castilian dance between the tables. I was ready to declare a second war
with Spain when she had finished. Then there was an orchestral interval,
during which the tables filled.

The impossibility of Frances singing in a place like this became more
certain each minute, to my mind. I called the waiter.

"Does Mademoiselle Juno sing here this evening?" I asked, in my lame
French.

He shook his head. "Non, Monsieur," he answered, absently, and hastened
on with the bottle he was carrying.

Apparently that settled it. I might as well go. Then I decided to remain
a little longer. After all, I was there, and I, or Heathcroft, might
have misunderstood the name. I would stay for a while.

The long table at which I sat was now occupied from end to end. There
were several couples, male and female, and a number of unattached
young ladies, well-dressed, pretty for the most part, and vivacious
and inclined to be companionable. They chatted with their neighbors and
would have chatted with me if I had been in the mood. For the matter of
that everyone talked with everyone else, in French or English, good, bad
and indifferent, and there was much laughter and gaiety. L'Abbaye was
wide awake by this time.

The bearded personage who had shown me to my seat, appeared, followed
by a dozen attendants bearing paper parasols and bags containing little
celluloid balls, red, white, and blue. They were distributed among the
feminine guests. The parasols, it developed, were to be waved and the
balls to be thrown. You were supposed to catch as many as were thrown
at you and throw them back. It was wonderful fun--or would have been for
children--and very, very amusing--after the second bottle.

For my part I found it very stupid. As I have said at least once in this
history I am not what is called a "good mixer" and in an assemblage like
this I was as out of place as a piece of ice on a hot stove. Worse than
that, for the ice would have melted and I congealed the more. My bottle
of champagne remained almost untouched and when a celluloid ball bounced
on the top of my head I did not scream "Whoopee! Bullseye!" as my
American neighbors did or "Voila! Touche!" like the French. There were
plenty of Americans and English there, and they seemed to be having a
good time, but their good time was incomprehensible to me. This was "gay
Paris," of course, but somehow the gaiety seemed forced and artificial
and silly, except to the proprietors of L'Abbaye. If I had been getting
the price for food and liquids which they received I might, perhaps,
have been gay.

The young Frenchman at my right was gay enough. He had early discovered
my nationality and did his best to be entertaining. When a performer
from the Olympia, the music hall on the Boulevard des Italiens, sang a
distressing love ballad in a series of shrieks like those of a circular
saw in a lumber mill, this person shouted his "Bravos" with the rest and
then, waving his hands before my face, called for, "De cheer Americain!
One, two, tree--Heep! Heep! Heep! Oo--ray-y-y!" I did not join in "the
cheer Americain," but I did burst out laughing, a proceeding which
caused the young lady at my left to pat my arm and nod delighted
approval. She evidently thought I was becoming gay and lighthearted at
last. She was never more mistaken.

It was nearly two o'clock and I had had quite enough of L'Abbaye. I had
not enjoyed myself--had not expected to, so far as that went. I hope I
am not a prig, and, whatever I am or am not, priggishness had no part in
my feelings then. Under ordinary circumstances I should not have enjoyed
myself in a place like that. Mine is not the temperament--I shouldn't
know how. I must have appeared the most solemn ass in creation, and if I
had come there with the idea of amusement, I should have felt like one.
As it was, my feeling was not disgust, but unreasonable disappointment.
Certainly I did not wish--now that I had seen L'Abbaye--to find Frances
Morley there; but just as certainly I was disappointed.

I called for my bill, paid it, and stood up. I gave one look about the
crowded, noisy place, and then I started violently and sat down again. I
had seen Herbert Bayliss. He had, apparently, just entered and a waiter
was finding a seat for him at a table some distance away and on the
opposite side of the great room.

There was no doubt about it; it was he. My heart gave a bound that
almost choked me and all sorts of possibilities surged through my brain.
He had come to Paris to find her, he had found her--in our conversation
he had intimated as much. And now, he was here at the "Abbey." Why? Was
it here that he had found her? Was she singing here after all?

Bayliss glanced in my direction and I sank lower in my chair. I did
not wish him to see me. Fortunately the lady opposite waved her paper
parasol just then and I went into eclipse, so far as he was concerned.
When the eclipse was over he was looking elsewhere.

The black-bearded Frenchman, who seemed to be, if not one of the
proprietors, at least one of the managers of L'Abbaye, appeared in the
clear space at the center of the room between the tables and waved
his hands. He was either much excited or wished to seem so. He shouted
something in French which I could not understand. There was a buzz of
interest all about me; then the place grew still--or stiller. Something
was going to happen, that was evident. I leaned toward my voluble
neighbor, the French gentleman who had called for "de cheer Americain."

"What is it?" I asked. "What is the matter?"

He ignored, or did not hear, my question. The bearded person was still
waving his hands. The orchestra burst into a sort of triumphal march and
then into the open space between the tables came--Frances Morley.

She was dressed in a simple evening gown, she was not painted or
powdered to the extent that women who had sung before her had been, her
hair was simply dressed. She looked thinner than she had when I last saw
her, but otherwise she was unchanged. In that place, amid the lights and
the riot of color, the silks and satins and jewels, the flushed faces of
the crowd, she stood and bowed, a white rose in a bed of tiger lilies,
and the crowd rose and shouted at her.

The orchestra broke off its triumphal march and the leader stood up, his
violin at his shoulder. He played a bar or two and she began to sing.

She sang a simple, almost childish, love song in French. There was
nothing sensational about it, nothing risque, certainly nothing which
should have appealed to the frequenters of L'Abbaye. And her voice,
although sweet and clear and pure, was not extraordinary. And yet, when
she had finished, there was a perfect storm of "Bravos." Parasols waved,
flowers were thrown, and a roar of applause lasted for minutes. Why this
should have been is a puzzle to me even now. Perhaps it was because of
her clean, girlish beauty; perhaps because it was so unexpected and so
different; perhaps because of the mystery concerning her. I don't know.
Then I did not ask. I sat in my chair at the table, trembling from head
to foot, and looking at her. I had never expected to see her again and
now she was before my eyes--here in this place.

She sang again; this time a jolly little ballad of soldiers and glory
and the victory of the Tri-Color. And again she swept them off their
feet. She bowed and smiled in answer to their applause and, motioning
to the orchestra leader, began without accompaniment, "Loch Lomond," in
English. It was one of the songs I had asked her to sing at the rectory,
one I had found in the music cabinet, one that her mother and mine had
sung years before.


     "Ye'll take the high road
      And I'll take the low road,
      And I'll be in Scotland afore ye--"


I was on my feet. I have no remembrance of having risen, but I was
standing, leaning across the table, looking at her. There were cries of
"Sit down" in English and other cries in French. There were tugs at my
coat tails.


     "But me and my true love
      Shall never meet again,
      By the bonny, bonny banks
      Of Loch--"


She saw me. The song stopped. I saw her turn white, so white that the
rouge on her cheeks looked like fever spots. She looked at me and I at
her. Then she raised her hand to her throat, turned and almost ran from
the room.

I should have followed her, then and there, I think. I was on my way
around the end of the table, regardless of masculine boots and feminine
skirts. But a stout Englishman got in my way and detained me and the
crowd was so dense that I could not push through it. It was an excited
crowd, too. For a moment there had been a surprised silence, but now
everyone was exclaiming and talking in his or her native language.

"Oh, I say! What happened? What made her do that?" demanded the stout
Englishman. Then he politely requested me to get off his foot.

The bearded manager--or proprietor--was waving his hands once more and
begging attention and silence. He got both, in a measure. Then he made
his announcement.

He begged ten thousand pardons, but Mademoiselle Guinot--That was it,
Guinot, not Juno or Junotte--had been seized with a most regrettable
illness. She had been unable to continue her performance. It was not
serious, but she could sing no more that evening. To-morrow evening--ah,
yes. Most certainly. But to-night--no. Monsieur Hairee Opkins, the
most famous Engleesh comedy artiste would now entertain the patrons of
L'Abbaye. He begged, he entreated attention for Monsieur Opkins.

I did not wait for "Monsieur Hairee." I forced my way to the door. As I
passed out I cast a glance in the direction of young Bayliss. He was
on his feet, loudly shouting for a waiter and his bill. I had so much
start, at all events.

Through the waiters and uniformed attendants I elbowed. Another man with
a beard--he looked enough like the other to be his brother, and perhaps
he was--got in my way at last. A million or more pardons, but Monsieur
could not go in that direction. The exit was there, pointing.

As patiently and carefully as I could, considering my agitation, I
explained that I did not wish to find the exit. I was a friend, a--yes,
a--er--relative of the young lady who had just sung and who had been
taken ill. I wanted to go to her.

Another million pardons, but that was impossible. I did not understand,
Mademoiselle was--well, she did not see gentlemen. She was--with
the most expressive of shrugs--peculiar. She desired no friends. It
was--ah--quite impossible.

I found my pocketbook and pressed my card into his hand. Would he give
Mademoiselle my card? Would he tell her that I must see her, if only for
a minute? Just give her the card and tell her that.

He shook his head, smiling but firm. I could have punched him for the
smile, but instead I took other measures. I reached into my
pocket, found some gold pieces--I have no idea how many or of what
denomination--and squeezed them in the hand with the card. He still
smiled and shook his head, but his firmness was shaken.

"I will give the card," he said, "but I warn Monsieur it is quite
useless. She will not see him."

The waiter with whom I had seen Herbert Bayliss in altercation was
hurrying by me. I caught his arm.

"Pardon, Monsieur," he protested, "but I must go. The gentleman yonder
desires his bill."

"Don't give it to him," I whispered, trying hard to think of the French
words. "Don't give it to him yet. Keep him where he is for a time."

I backed the demand with another gold piece, the last in my pocket. The
waiter seemed surprised.

"Not give the bill?" he repeated.

"No, not yet." I did my best to look wicked and knowing--"He and I wish
to meet the same young lady and I prefer to be first."

That was sufficient--in Paris. The waiter bowed low.

"Rest in peace, Monsieur," he said. "The gentleman shall wait."

I waited also, for what seemed a long time. Then the bearded one
reappeared. He looked surprised but pleased.

"Bon, Monsieur," he whispered, patting my arm. "She will see you. You
are to wait at the private door. I will conduct you there. It is most
unusual. Monsieur is a most fortunate gentleman."

At the door, at the foot of a narrow staircase--decidedly lacking in the
white and gold of the other, the public one--I waited, for another age.
The staircase was lighted by one sickly gas jet and the street outside
was dark and dirty. I waited on the narrow sidewalk, listening to the
roar of nocturnal Montmartre around the corner, to the beating of my own
heart, and for her footstep on the stairs.

At last I heard it. The door opened and she came out. She wore a cloak
over her street costume and her hat was one that she had bought in
London with my money. She wore a veil and I could not see her face.

I seized her hands with both of mine.

"Frances!" I cried, chokingly. "Oh, Frances!"

She withdrew her hands. When she spoke her tone was quiet but very firm.

"Why did you come here?" she asked.

"Why did I come? Why--"

"Yes. Why did you come? Was it to find me? Did you know I was here?"

"I did not know. I had heard--"

"Did Doctor Bayliss tell you?"

I hesitated. So she HAD seen Bayliss and spoken with him.

"No," I answered, after a moment, "he did not tell me, exactly. But I
had heard that someone who resembled you was singing here in Paris."

"And you followed me. In spite of my letter begging you, for my sake,
not to try to find me. Did you get that letter?"

"Yes, I got it."

"Then why did you do it? Oh, WHY did you?"

For the first time there was a break in her voice. We were standing
before the door. The street, it was little more than an alley, was
almost deserted, but I felt it was not the place for explanations. I
wanted to get her away from there, as far from that dreadful "Abbey" as
possible. I took her arm.

"Come," I said, "I will tell you as we go. Come with me now."

She freed her arm.

"I am not coming with you," she said. "Why did you come here?"

"I came--I came--Why did YOU come? Why did you leave us as you did?
Without a word!"

She turned and faced me.

"You know why I left you," she said. "You know. You knew all the
time. And yet you let me believe--You let me think--I lived upon your
money--I--I--Oh, don't speak of it! Go away! please go away and leave
me."

"I am not going away--without you. I came to get you to go back with me.
You don't understand. Your aunt and I want you to come with us. We want
you to come and live with us again. We--"

She interrupted. I doubt if she had comprehended more than the first few
words of what I was saying.

"Please go away," she begged. "I know I owe you money, so much money.
I shall pay it. I mean to pay it all. At first I could not. I could not
earn it. I tried. Oh, I tried SO hard! In London I tried and tried, but
all the companies were filled, it was late in the season and I--no one
would have me. Then I got this chance through an agency. I am succeeding
here. I am earning the money at last. I am saving--I have saved--And now
you come to--Oh, PLEASE go and leave me!"

Her firmness had gone. She was on the verge of tears. I tried to take
her hands again, but she would not permit it.

"I shall not go," I persisted, as gently as I could. "Or when I go you
must go with me. You don't understand."

"But I do understand. My aunt--Miss Cahoon told me. I understand it all.
Oh, if I had only understood at first."

"But you don't understand--now. Your aunt and I knew the truth from the
beginning. That made no difference. We were glad to have you with us. We
want you to come back. You are our relative--"

"I am not. I am not really related to you in any way. You know I am
not."

"You are related to Miss Cahoon. You are her sister's daughter. She
wants you to come. She wants you to live with us again, just as you did
before."

"She wants that! She--But it was your money that paid for the very
clothes I wore. Your money--not hers; she said so."

"That doesn't make any difference. She wants you and--"

I was about to add "and so do I," but she did not permit me to finish
the sentence. She interrupted again, and there was a change in her tone.

"Stop! Oh, stop!" she cried. "She wanted me and--and so you--Did you
think I would consent? To live upon your charity?"

"There is no charity about it."

"There is. You know there is. And you believed that I--knowing what I
know--that my father--my own father--"

"Hush! hush! That is all past and done with."

"It may be for you, but not for me. Mr. Knowles, your opinion of me
must be a very poor one. Or your desire to please your aunt as great as
your--your charity to me. I thank you both, but I shall stay here. You
must go and you must not try to see me again."

There was firmness enough in this speech; altogether too much. But I was
as firm as she was.

"I shall not go," I reiterated. "I shall not leave you--in a place like
this. It isn't a fit place for you to be in. You know it is not. Good
heavens! you MUST know it?"

"I know what the place is," she said quietly.

"You know! And yet you stay here! Why? You can't like it!"

It was a foolish speech, and I blurted it without thought. She did not
answer. Instead she began to walk toward the corner. I followed her.

"I beg your pardon," I stammered, contritely. "I did not mean that, of
course. But I cannot think of your singing night after night in such a
place--before those men and women. It isn't right; it isn't--you shall
not do it."

She answered without halting in her walk.

"I shall do it," she said. "They pay me well, very well, and I--I need
the money. When I have earned and saved what I need I shall give it up,
of course. As for liking the work--Like it! Oh, how can you!"

"I beg your pardon. Forgive me. I ought to be shot for saying that. I
know you can't like it. But you must not stay here. You must come with
me."

"No, Mr. Knowles, I am not coming with you. And you must leave me and
never come back. My sole reason for seeing you to-night was to tell you
that. But--" she hesitated and then said, with quiet emphasis, "you may
tell my aunt not to worry about me. In spite of my singing in a cafe
chantant I shall keep my self-respect. I shall not be--like those
others. And when I have paid my debt--I can't pay my father's; I wish I
could--I shall send you the money. When I do that you will know that
I have resigned my present position and am trying to find a more
respectable one. Good-by."

We had reached the corner. Beyond was the square, with its lights and
its crowds of people and vehicles. I seized her arm.

"It shall not be good-by," I cried, desperately. "I shall not let you
go."

"You must."

"I sha'n't. I shall come here night after night until you consent to
come back to Mayberry."

She stopped then. But when she spoke her tone was firmer than ever.

"Then you will force me to give it up," she said. "Before I came here I
was very close to--There were days when I had little or nothing to eat,
and, with no prospects, no hope, I--if you don't leave me, Mr. Knowles,
if you do come here night after night, as you say, you may force me to
that again. You can, of course, if you choose; I can't prevent you. But
I shall NOT go back to Mayberry. Now, will you say good-by?"

She meant it. If I persisted in my determination she would do as she
said; I was sure of it.

"I am sure my aunt would not wish you to continue to see me, against my
will," she went on. "If she cares for me at all she would not wish that.
You have done your best to please her. I--I thank you both. Good-by."

What could I do, or say?

"Good-by," I faltered.

She turned and started across the square. A flying cab shut her from my
view. And then I realized what was happening, realized it and realized,
too, what it meant. She should not go; I would not let her leave me nor
would I leave her. I sprang after her.

The square was thronged with cabs and motor cars. The Abbey and The Dead
Rat and all the rest were emptying their patrons into the street. Paris
traffic regulations are lax and uncertain. I dodged between a limousine
and a hansom and caught a glimpse of her just as she reached the
opposite sidewalk.

"Frances!" I called. "Frances!"

She turned and saw me. Then I heard my own name shouted from the
sidewalk I had just left.

"Knowles! Knowles!"

I looked over my shoulder. Herbert Bayliss was at the curb. He was
shaking a hand, it may have been a fist, in my direction.

"Knowles!" he shouted. "Stop! I want to see you."

I did not reply. Instead I ran on. I saw her face among the crowd and
upon it was a curious expression, of fear, of frantic entreaty.

"Kent! Kent!" she cried. "Oh, be careful! KENT!"

There was a roar, a shout; I have a jumbled recollection of being thrown
into the air, and rolling over and over upon the stones of the street.
And there my recollections end, for the time.



CHAPTER XVI

In Which I Take My Turn at Playing the Invalid


Not for a very long time. They begin again--those recollections--a
few minutes later, break off once more, and then return and break off
alternately, over and over again.

The first thing I remember, after my whirligig flight over the Paris
pavement, is a crowd of faces above me and someone pawing at my collar
and holding my wrist. This someone, a man, a stranger, said in French:

"He is not dead, Mademoiselle."

And then a voice, a voice that I seemed to recognize, said:

"You are sure, Doctor? You are sure? Oh, thank God!"

I tried to turn my head toward the last speaker--whom I decided, for
some unexplainable reason, must be Hephzy--and to tell her that of
course I wasn't dead, and then all faded away and there was another
blank.

The next interval of remembrance begins with a sense of pain, a
throbbing, savage pain, in my head and chest principally, and a wish
that the buzzing in my ears would stop. It did not stop, on the contrary
it grew louder and there was a squeak and rumble and rattle along with
it. A head--particularly a head bumped as hard as mine had been--might
be expected to buzz, but it should not rattle, or squeak either.
Gradually I began to understand that the rattle and squeak were external
and I was in some sort of vehicle, a sleeping car apparently, for I
seemed to be lying down. I tried to rise and ask a question and a hand
was laid on my forehead and a voice--the voice which I had decided was
Hephzy's--said, gently:

"Lie still. You mustn't move. Lie still, please. We shall be there
soon."

Where "there" might be I had no idea and it was too much trouble to ask,
so I drifted off again.

Next I was being lifted out of the car; men were lifting me--or trying
to. And, being wider awake by this time, I protested.

"Here! What are you doing?" I asked. "I am all right. Let go of me. Let
go, I tell you."

Again the voice--it sounded less and less like Hephzy's--saying:

"Don't! Please don't! You mustn't move."

But I kept on moving, although moving was a decidedly uncomfortable
process.

"What are they doing to me?" I asked. "Where am I? Hephzy, where am I?"

"You are at the hospital. You have been hurt and we are taking you to
the hospital. Lie still and they will carry you in."

That woke me more thoroughly.

"Nonsense!" I said, as forcefully as I could. "Nonsense! I'm not badly
hurt. I am all right now. I don't want to go to a hospital. I won't go
there. Take me to the hotel. I am all right, I tell you."

The man's voice--the doctor's, I learned afterward--broke in, ordering
me to be quiet. But I refused to be quiet. I was not going to be taken
to any hospital.

"I am all right," I declared. "Or I shall be in a little while. Take me
to my hotel. I will be looked after, there. Hephzy will look after me."

The doctor continued to protest--in French--and I to affirm--in English.
Also I tried to stand. At length my declarations of independence seemed
to have some effect, for they ceased trying to lift me. A dialogue in
French followed. I heard it with growing impatience.

"Hephzy," I said, fretfully. "Hephzy, make them take me to my hotel. I
insist upon it."

"Which hotel is it? Kent--Kent, answer me. What is the name of the
hotel?"

I gave the name; goodness knows how I remembered it. There was more
argument, and, after a time, the rattle and buzz and squeak began again.
The next thing I remember distinctly is being carried to my room and
hearing the voice of Monsieur Louis in excited questioning and command.

After that my recollections are clearer. But it was broad daylight when
I became my normal self and realized thoroughly where I was. I was in
my room at the hotel, the sunlight was streaming in at the window and
Hephzy--I still supposed it was Hephzy--was sitting by that window.
And for the first time it occurred to me that she should not have been
there; by all that was right and proper she should be waiting for me in
Interlaken.

"Hephzy," I said, weakly, "when did you get here?"

The figure at the window rose and came to the bedside. It was not
Hephzy. With a thrill I realized who it was.

"Frances!" I cried. "Frances! Why--what--"

"Hush! You mustn't talk. You mustn't. You must be quiet and keep
perfectly still. The doctor said so."

"But what happened? How did I get here? What--?"

"Hush! There was an accident; you were hurt. We brought you here in a
carriage. Don't you remember?"

What I remembered was provokingly little.

"I seem to remember something," I said. "Something about a hospital.
Someone was going to take me to a hospital and I wouldn't go.
Hephzy--No, it couldn't have been Hephzy. Was it--was it you?"

"Yes. We were taking you to the hospital. We did take you there, but as
they were taking you from the ambulance you--"

"Ambulance! Was I in an ambulance? What happened to me? What sort of an
accident was it?"

"Please don't try to talk. You must not talk."

"I won't if you tell me that. What happened?"

"Don't you remember? I left you and crossed the street. You followed me
and then--and then you stopped. And then--Oh, don't ask me! Don't!"

"I know. Now I do remember. It was that big motor car. I saw it coming.
But who brought me here? You--I remember you; I thought you were Hephzy.
And there was someone else."

"Yes, the doctor--the doctor they called--and Doctor Bayliss."

"Doctor Bayliss! Herbert Bayliss, do you mean? Yes, I saw him at the
'Abbey'--and afterward. Did he come here with me?"

"Yes. He was very kind. I don't know what I should have done if it had
not been for him. Now you MUST not speak another word."

I did not, for a few moments. I lay there, feebly trying to think,
and looking at her. I was grateful to young Bayliss, of course, but I
wished--even then I wished someone else and not he had helped me. I did
not like to be under obligations to him. I liked him, too; he was a good
fellow and I had always liked him, but I did not like THAT.

She rose from the chair by the bed and walked across the room.

"Don't go," I said.

She came back almost immediately.

"It is time for your medicine," she said.

I took the medicine. She turned away once more.

"Don't go," I repeated.

"I am not going. Not for the present."

I was quite contented with the present. The future had no charms just
then. I lay there, looking at her. She was paler and thinner than she
had been when she left Mayberry, almost as pale and thin as when I first
met her in the back room of Mrs. Briggs' lodging house. And there
was another change, a subtle, undefinable change in her manner and
appearance that puzzled me. Then I realized what it was; she had grown
older, more mature. In Mayberry she had been an extraordinarily pretty
girl. Now she was a beautiful woman. These last weeks had worked the
change. And I began to understand what she had undergone during those
weeks.

"Have you been with me ever since it happened--since I was hurt?" I
asked, suddenly.

"Yes, of course."

"All night?"

She smiled. "There was very little of the night left," she answered.

"But you have had no rest at all. You must be worn out."

"Oh, no; I am used to it. My--" with a slight pause before the
word--"work of late has accustomed me to resting in the daytime. And I
shall rest by and by, when my aunt--when Miss Cahoon comes."

"Miss Cahoon? Hephzy? Have you sent for her?"

My tone of surprise startled her, I think. She looked at me.

"Sent for her?" she repeated. "Isn't she here--in Paris?"

"She is in Interlaken, at the Victoria. Didn't the concierge tell you?"

"He told us she was not here, at this hotel, at present. He said she
had gone away with some friends. But we took it for granted she was in
Paris. I told them I would stay until she came. I--"

I interrupted.

"Stay until she comes!" I repeated. "Stay--! Why you can't do that! You
can't! You must not!"

"Hush! hush! Remember you are ill. Think of yourself!"

"Of myself! I am thinking of you. You mustn't stay here--with me. What
will they think? What--"

"Hush! hush, please. Think! It makes no difference what they think. If I
had cared what people thought I should not be singing at--Hush! you must
not excite yourself in this way."

But I refused to hush.

"You must not!" I cried. "You shall not! Why did you do it? They could
have found a nurse, if one was needed. Bayliss--"

"Doctor Bayliss does not know. If he did I should not care. As for the
others--" she colored, slightly,

"Well, I told the concierge that you were my uncle. It was only a white
lie; you used to say you were, you know."

"Say! Oh, Frances, for your own sake, please--"

"Hush! Do you suppose," her cheeks reddened and her eyes flashed as I
had seen them flash before, "do you suppose I would go away and leave
you now? Now, when you are hurt and ill and--and--after all that you
have done! After I treated you as I did! Oh, let me do something! Let me
do a little, the veriest little in return. I--Oh, stop! stop! What are
you doing?"

I suppose I was trying to sit up; I remember raising myself on my elbow.
Then came the pain again, the throbbing in my head and the agonizing
pain in my side. And after that there is another long interval in my
recollections.

For a week--of course I did not know it was a week then--my memories
consist only of a series of flashes like the memory of the hours
immediately following the accident. I remember people talking, but not
what they said; I remember her voice, or I think I do, and the touch
of her hand on my forehead. And afterward, other voices, Hephzy's in
particular. But when I came to myself, weak and shaky, but to remain
myself for good and all, Hephzy--the real Hephzy--was in the room with
me.

Even then they would not let me ask questions. Another day dragged by
before I was permitted to do that. Then Hephzy told me I had a cracked
rib and a variety of assorted bruises, that I had suffered slight
concussion of the brain, and that my immediate job was to behave myself
and get well.

"Land sakes!" she exclaimed, "there was a time when I thought you never
was goin' to get well. Hour after hour I've set here and listened
to your gabblin' away about everything under the sun and nothin' in
particular, as crazy as a kitten in a patch of catnip, and thought and
thought, what should I do, what SHOULD I do. And now I KNOW what I'm
goin' to do. I'm goin' to keep you in that bed till you're strong and
well enough to get out of it, if I have to sit on you to hold you down.
And I'm no hummin'-bird when it comes to perchin', either."

She had received the telegram which Frances sent and had come from
Interlaken post haste.

"And I don't know," she declared, "which part of that telegram upset me
most--what there was in it or the name signed at the bottom of it. HER
name! I couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't stop to believe 'em long. I
just came. And then I found you like this."

"Was she here?" I asked.

"Who--Frances! My, yes, she was here. So pale and tired lookin' that I
thought she was goin' to collapse. But she wouldn't give in to it.
She told me all about how it happened and what the doctor said and
everything. I didn't pay much attention to it then. All I could think of
was you. Oh, Hosy! my poor boy! I--I--"

"There! there!" I broke in, gently. "I'm all right now, or I'm going to
be. You will have the quahaug on your hands for a while longer. But,"
returning to the subject which interested me most, "what else did she
tell you? Did she tell you how I met her--and where?"

"Why, yes. She's singin' somewhere--she didn't say where exactly, but it
is in some kind of opera-house, I judged. There's a perfectly beautiful
opera-house a little ways from here on the Avenue de L'Opera, right by
the Boulevard des Italiens, though there's precious few Italians there,
far's I can see. And why an opera is a l'opera I--"

"Wait a moment, Hephzy. Did she tell you of our meeting? And how I found
her?"

"Why, not so dreadful much, Hosy. She's acted kind of queer about that,
seemed to me. She said you went to this opera-house, wherever it was,
and saw her there. Then you and she were crossin' the road and one of
these dreadful French automobiles--the way they let the things tear
round is a disgrace--ran into you. I declare! It almost made ME sick
to hear about it. And to think of me away off amongst those mountains,
enjoyin' myself and not knowin' a thing! Oh, it makes me ashamed to look
in the glass. I NEVER ought to have left you alone, and I knew it. It's
a judgment on me, what's happened is."

"Or on me, I should rather say," I added. Frances had not told Hephzy of
L'Abbaye, that was evident. Well, I would keep silence also.

"Where is she now?" I asked. I asked it with as much indifference as I
could assume, but Hephzy smiled and patted my hand.

"Oh, she comes every day to ask about you," she said. "And Doctor
Bayliss comes too. He's been real kind."

"Bayliss!" I exclaimed. "Is he with--Does he come here?"

"Yes, he comes real often, mostly about the time she does. He hasn't
been here for two days now, though. Hosy, do you suppose he has spoken
to her about--about what he spoke to you?"

"I don't know," I answered, curtly. Then I changed the subject.

"Has she said anything to you about coming back to Mayberry?" I asked.
"Have you told her how we feel toward her?"

Hephzy's manner changed. "Yes," she said, reluctantly, "I've told her.
I've told her everything."

"Not everything? Hephzy, you haven't told her--"

"No, no. Of course I didn't tell her THAT. You know I wouldn't, Hosy.
But I told her that her money havin' turned out to be our money didn't
make a mite of difference. I told her how much we come to think of her
and how we wanted her to come with us and be the same as she had always
been. I begged her to come. I said everything I could say."

"And she said?"

"She said no, Hosy. She wouldn't consider it at all. She asked me not to
talk about it. It was settled, she said. She must go her way and we ours
and we must forget her. She was more grateful than she could tell--she
most cried when she said that--but she won't come back and if I asked
her again she declared she should have to go away for good."

"I know. That is what she said to me."

"Yes. I can't make it out exactly. It's her pride, I suppose. Her mother
was just as proud. Oh, dear! When I saw her here for the first time,
after I raced back from Interlaken, I thought--I almost hoped--but I
guess it can't be."

I did not answer. I knew only too well that it could not be.

"Does she seem happy?" I asked.

"Why, no; I don't think she is happy. There are times, especially when
you began to get better, when she seemed happier, but the last few times
she was here she was--well, different."

"How different?"

"It's hard to tell you. She looked sort of worn and sad and discouraged.
Hosy, what sort of a place is it she is singin' in?"

"Why do you ask that?"

"Oh, I don't know. Some things you said when you were out of your head
made me wonder. That, and some talk I overheard her and Doctor Bayliss
havin' one time when they were in the other room--my room--together. I
had stepped out for a minute and when I came back, I came in this door
instead of the other. They were in the other room talkin' and he was
beggin' her not to stay somewhere any more. It wasn't a fit place for
her to be, he said; her reputation would be ruined. She cut him short
by sayin' that her reputation was her own and that she should do as she
thought best, or somethin' like that. Then I coughed, so they would know
I was around, and they commenced talkin' of somethin' else. But it set
me thinkin' and when you said--"

She paused. "What did I say?" I asked.

"Why, 'twas when she and I were here. You had been quiet for a while and
all at once you broke out--delirious you was--beggin' somebody or other
not to do somethin'. For your sake, for their own sake, they mustn't do
it. 'Twas awful to hear you. A mixed-up jumble about Abbie, whoever
she is--not much, by the way you went on about her--and please, please,
please, for the Lord's sake, give it up. I tried to quiet you, but you
wouldn't be quieted. And finally you said: 'Frances! Oh, Frances! don't!
Say that you won't any more.' I gave you your sleepin' drops then; I
thought 'twas time. I was afraid you'd say somethin' that you wouldn't
want her to hear. You understand, don't you, Hosy?"

"I understand. Thank you, Hephzy."

"Yes. Well, _I_ didn't understand and I asked her if she did. She said
no, but she was dreadfully upset and I think she did understand, in
spite of her sayin' it. What sort of a place is it, this opera-house
where she sings?"

I dodged the question as best I could. I doubt if Hephzy's suspicions
were allayed, but she did not press the subject. Instead she told me I
had talked enough for that afternoon and must rest.

That evening I saw Bayliss for the first time since the accident.
He congratulated me on my recovery and I thanked him for his help in
bringing me to the hotel. He waved my thanks aside.

"Quite unnecessary, thanking me," he said, shortly. "I couldn't do
anything else, of course. Well, I must be going. Glad you're feeling
more fit, Knowles, I'm sure."

"And you?" I asked. "How are you?"

"I? Oh, I'm fit enough, I suppose. Good-by."

He didn't look fit. He looked more haggard and worn and moody than ever.
And his manner was absent and distrait. Hephzy noticed it; there were
few things she did not notice.

"Either that boy's meals don't agree with him," she announced, "or
somethin's weighin' on his mind. He looks as if he'd lost his last
friend. Hosy, do you suppose he's spoken to--to her about what he spoke
of to you?"

"I don't know. I suppose he has. He was only too anxious to speak, there
in Mayberry."

"Humph! Well, IF he has, then--Hosy, sometimes I think this, all this
pilgrimage of ours--that's what you used to call it, a pilgrimage--is
goin' to turn out right, after all. Don't it remind you of a book, this
last part of it?"

"A dismal sort of book," I said, gloomily.

"Well, I don't know. Here are you, the hero, and here's she, the
heroine. And the hero is sick and the heroine comes to take care of
him--she WAS takin' care of you afore I came, you know; and she falls in
love with him and--"

"Yes," I observed, sarcastically. "She always does--in books. But in
those books the hero is not a middle-aged quahaug. Suppose we stick to
real life and possibilities, Hephzy."

Hephzy was unconvinced. "I don't care," she said. "She ought to even if
she doesn't. _I_ fell in love with you long ago, Hosy. And she DID bring
you here after you were hurt and took care of you."

"Hush! hush!" I broke in. "She took care of me, as you call it, because
she thought it was her duty. She thinks she is under great obligation to
us because we did not pitch her into the street when we first met her.
She insists that she owes us money and gratitude. Her kindness to me and
her care are part payment of the debt. She told me so, herself."

"But--"

"There aren't any 'buts.' You mustn't be an idiot because I have been
one, Hephzy. We agreed not to speak of that again. Don't remind me of
it."

Hephzy sighed. "All right," she said. "I suppose you are right, Hosy.
But--but how is all this goin' to end? She won't go with us. Are we
goin' to leave her here alone?"

I was silent. The same question was in my mind, but I had answered it. I
was NOT going to leave her there alone. And yet--

"If I was sure," mused Hephzy, "that she was in love with Herbert
Bayliss, then 'twould be all right, I suppose. They would get married
and it would be all right--or near right--wouldn't it, Hosy."

I said nothing.

The next morning I saw her. She came to inquire for me and Hephzy
brought her into my room for a stay of a minute or two. She seemed glad
to find me so much improved in health and well on the road to recovery.
I tried to thank her for her care of me, for her sending for Hephzy and
all the rest of it, but she would not listen. She chatted about Paris
and the French people, about Monsieur Louis, the concierge, and joked
with Hephzy about that gentleman's admiration for "the wonderful
American lady," meaning Hephzy herself.

"He calls you 'Madame Cay-hoo-on,'" she said, "and he thinks you a
miracle of decision and management. I think he is almost afraid of you,
I really do."

Hephzy smiled, grimly. "He'd better be," she declared. "The way
everybody was flyin' around when I first got here after comin' from
Interlaken, and the way the help jabbered and hunched up their shoulders
when I asked questions made me so fidgety I couldn't keep still. I
wanted an egg for breakfast, that first mornin' and when the waiter
brought it, it was in the shell, the way they eat eggs over here. I
can't eat 'em that way--I'm no weasel--and I told the waiter I wanted an
egg cup. Nigh as I could make out from his pigeon English he was
tellin' me there was a cup there. Well, there was, one of those little,
two-for-a-cent contraptions, just big enough to stick one end of the
egg into. 'I want a big one,' says I. 'We, Madame,' says he, and off
he trotted. When he came back he brought me a big EGG, a duck's egg, I
guess 'twas. Then I scolded and he jabbered some more and by and by he
went and fetched this Monsieur Louis man. He could speak English, thank
goodness, and he was real nice, in his French way. He begged my pardon
for the waiter's stupidness, said he was a new hand, and the like of
that, and went on apologizin' and bowin' and smilin' till I almost had a
fit.

"'For mercy sakes!' I says, 'don't say any more about it. If that last
egg hadn't been boiled 'twould have hatched out an--an ostrich, or
somethin' or other, by this time. And it's stone cold, of course.
Have this--this jumpin'-jack of yours bring me a hot egg--a hen's
egg--opened, in a cup big enough to see without spectacles, and tell
him to bring some cream with the coffee. At any rate, if there isn't
any cream, have him bring some real milk instead of this watery stuff.
I might wash clothes with that, for I declare I think there's bluin'
in it, but I sha'n't drink it; I'd be afraid of swallowin' a fish by
accident. And do hurry!'

"He went away then, hurryin' accordin' to orders, and ever since then
he's been bobbin' up to ask if 'Madame finds everything satisfactory.' I
suppose likely I shouldn't have spoken as I did, he means well--it isn't
his fault, or the waiter's either, that they can't talk without wavin'
their hands as if they were givin' three cheers--but I was terribly
nervous that mornin' and I barked like a tied-up dog. Oh dear, Hosy! if
ever I missed you and your help it's in this blessed country."

Frances laughed at all this; she seemed just then to be in high spirits;
but I thought, or imagined, that her high spirits were assumed for our
benefit. At the first hint of questioning concerning her own life, where
she lodged or what her plans might be, she rose and announced that she
must go.

Each morning of that week she came, remaining but a short time, and
always refusing to speak of herself or her plans. Hephzy and I, finding
that a reference to those plans meant the abrupt termination of the
call, ceased trying to question. And we did not mention our life at the
rectory, either; that, too, she seemed unwilling to discuss. Once,
when I spoke of our drive to Wrayton, she began a reply, stopped in the
middle of a sentence, and then left the room.

Hephzy hastened after her. She returned alone.

"She was cryin', Hosy," she said. "She said she wasn't, but she was. The
poor thing! she's unhappy and I know it; she's miserable. But she's so
proud she won't own it and, although I'm dyin' to put my arms around her
and comfort her, I know if I did she'd go away and never come back.
Do you notice she hasn't called me 'Auntie' once. And she always used
to--at the rectory. I'm afraid--I'm afraid she's just as determined as
she was when she ran away, never to live with us again. What SHALL we
do?"

I did not know and I did not dare to think. I was as certain that these
visits would cease very soon as I was that they were the only things
which made my life bearable. How I did look forward to them! And while
she was there, with us, how short the time seemed and how it dragged
when she had gone. The worst thing possible for me, this seeing her and
being with her; I knew it. I knew it perfectly well. But, knowing it,
and realizing that it could not last and that it was but the prelude to
a worse loneliness which was sure to come, made no difference. I dreaded
to be well again, fearing that would mean the end of those visits.

But I was getting well and rapidly. I sat up for longer and longer
periods each day. I began to read my letters now, instead of having
Hephzy read them to me, letters from Matthews at the London office and
from Jim Campbell at home. Matthews had cabled Jim of the accident and
later that I was recovering. So Jim wrote, professing to find material
gain in the affair.

"Great stuff," he wrote. "Two chapters at least. The hero, pursuing the
villain through the streets of Paris at midnight, is run down by an
auto driven by said villain. 'Ah ha!' says the villain: 'Now will you be
good?' or words to that effect. 'Desmond,' says the hero, unflinchingly,
as they extract the cobble-stones from his cuticle, 'you triumph for the
moment, but beware! there will be something doing later on.' See? If
it wasn't for the cracked rib and the rest I should be almost glad it
happened. All you need is the beautiful heroine nursing you to recovery.
Can't you find her?"

He did not know that I had found her, or that the hoped-for novel was
less likely to be finished than ever.

Hephzy was now able to leave me occasionally, to take the walks which I
insisted upon. She had some queer experiences in these walks.

"Lost again to-day, Hosy," she said, cheerfully, removing her bonnet. "I
went cruisin' through the streets over to the south'ard and they were so
narrow and so crooked--to say nothin' of bein' dirty and smelly--that I
thought I never should get out. Of course I could have hired a hack
and let it bring me to the hotel but I wouldn't do that. I was set on
findin' my own way. I'd walked in and I was goin' to walk out, that was
all there was to it. 'Twasn't the first time I'd been lost in this Paris
place and I've got a system of my own. When I get to the square 'Place
delay Concorde,' they call it, I know where I am. And 'Concorde' is
enough like Concord, Mass., to make me remember the name. So I walk up
to a nice appearin' Frenchman with a tall hat and whiskers--I didn't
know there was so many chin whiskers outside of East Harniss, or some
other back number place--and I say, 'Pardon, Monseer. Place delay
Concorde?' Just like that with a question mark after it. After I say it
two or three times he begins to get a floatin' sniff of what I'm drivin'
at and says he: 'Place delay Concorde? Oh, we, we, we, Madame!' Then a
whole string of jabber and arm wavin', with some countin' in the middle
of it. Now I've learned 'one, two, three' in French and I know he
means for me to keep on for two or three more streets in the way he's
pointin'. So I keep on, and, when I get there, I go through the whole
rigamarole with another Frenchman. About the third session and I'm back
on the Concord Place. THERE I am all right. No, I don't propose to stay
lost long. My father and grandfather and all my men folks spent their
lives cruisin' through crooked passages and crowded shoals and I guess
I've inherited some of the knack."

At last I was strong enough to take a short outing in Hephzy's company.
I returned to the hotel, where Hephzy left me. She was going to do a
little shopping by herself. I went to my room and sat down to rest.
A bell boy--at least that is what we should have called him in the
States--knocked at the door.

"A lady to see Monsieur," he said.

The lady was Frances.

She entered the room and I rose to greet her.

"Why, you are alone!" she exclaimed. "Where is Miss Cahoon?"

"She is out, on a shopping expedition," I explained. "She will be back
soon. I have been out too. We have been driving together. What do you
think of that!"

She seemed pleased at the news but when I urged her to sit and wait
for Hephzy's return she hesitated. Her hesitation, however, was only
momentary. She took the chair by the window and we chatted together,
of my newly-gained strength, of Hephzy's adventures as a pathfinder in
Paris, of the weather, of a dozen inconsequential things. I found it
difficult to sustain my part in the conversation. There was so much
of real importance which I wanted to say. I wanted to ask her about
herself, where she lodged, if she was still singing at L'Abbaye, what
her plans for the future might be. And I did not dare.

My remarks became more and more disjointed and she, too, seemed uneasy
and absent-minded. At length there was an interval of silence. She broke
that silence.

"I suppose," she said, "you will be going back to Mayberry soon."

"Back to Mayberry?" I repeated.

"Yes. You and Miss Cahoon will go back there, of course, now that you
are strong enough to travel. She told me that the American friends with
whom you and she were to visit Switzerland had changed their plans and
were going on to Italy. She said that she had written them that your
proposed Continental trip was abandoned."

"Yes. Yes, that was given up, of course."

"Then you will go back to England, will you not?"

"I don't know. We have made no plans as yet."

"But you will go back. Miss Cahoon said you would. And, when your lease
of the rectory expires, you will sail for America."

"I don't know."

"But you must know," with a momentary impatience. "Surely you don't
intend to remain here in Paris."

"I don't know that, either. I haven't considered what I shall do. It
depends--that is--"

I did not finish the sentence. I had said more than I intended and it
was high time I stopped. But I had said too much, as it was. She asked
more questions.

"Upon what does it depend?" she asked.

"Oh, nothing. I did not mean that it depended upon anything in
particular. I--"

"You must have meant something. Tell me--answer me truthfully, please:
Does it depend upon me?"

Of course that was just what it did depend upon. And suddenly I
determined to tell her so.

"Frances," I demanded, "are you still there--at that place?"

"At L'Abbaye. Yes."

"You sing there every night?"

"Yes."

"Why do you do it? You know--"

"I know everything. But you know, too. I told you I sang there because
I must earn my living in some way and that seems to be the only place
where I can earn it. They pay me well there, and the people--the
proprietors--are considerate and kind, in their way."

"But it isn't a fit place for you. And you don't like it; I know you
don't."

"No," quietly. "I don't like it."

"Then don't do it. Give it up."

"If I give it up what shall I do?"

"You know. Come back with us and live with us as you did before. I want
you; Hephzy is crazy to have you. We--she has missed you dreadfully. She
grieves for you and worries about you. We offer you a home and--"

She interrupted. "Please don't," she said. "I have told you that that is
impossible. It is. I shall never go back to Mayberry."

"But why? Your aunt--"

"Don't! My aunt is very kind--she has been so kind that I cannot bear to
speak of her. Her kindness and--and yours are the few pleasant memories
that I have--of this last dreadful year. To please you both I would do
anything--anything--except--"

"Don't make any exceptions. Come with us. If not to Mayberry, then
somewhere else. Come to America with us."

"No."

"Frances--"

"Don't! My mind is made up. Please don't speak of that again."

Again I realized the finality in her tone. The same finality was in mine
as I answered.

"Then I shall stay here," I declared. "I shall not leave you alone,
without friends or a protector of any kind, to sing night after night in
that place. I shall not do it. I shall stay here as long as you do."

She was silent. I wondered what was coming next. I expected her to
say, as she had said before, that I was forcing her to give up her one
opportunity. I expected reproaches and was doggedly prepared to meet
them. But she did not reproach me. She said nothing; instead she seemed
to be thinking, to be making up her mind.

"Don't do it, Frances," I pleaded. "Don't sing there any longer. Give it
up. You don't like the work; it isn't fit work for you. Give it up."

She rose from her chair and standing by the window looked out into the
street. Suddenly she turned and looked at me.

"Would it please you if I gave up singing at L'Abbaye?" she asked
quietly. "You know it would."

"And if I did would you and Miss Cahoon go back to England--at once?"

Here was another question, one that I found very hard to answer. I tried
to temporize.

"We want you to come with us," I said, earnestly. "We want you.
Hephzy--"

"Oh, don't, don't, don't! Why will you persist? Can't you understand
that you hurt me? I am trying to believe I have some self-respect left,
even after all that has happened. And you--What CAN you think of me! No,
I tell you! NO!"

"But for Hephzy's sake. She is your only relative."

She looked at me oddly. And when she spoke her answer surprised me.

"You are mistaken," she said. "I have other--relatives. Good-by, Mr.
Knowles."

She was on her way to the door.

"But, Frances," I cried, "you are not going. Wait. Hephzy will be here
any moment. Don't go."

She shook her head.

"I must go," she said. At the door she turned and looked back.

"Good-by," she said, again. "Good-by, Kent."

She had gone and when I reached the door she had turned the corner of
the corridor.

When Hephzy came I told her of the visit and what had taken place.

"That's queer," said Hephzy. "I can't think what she meant. I don't know
of any other relatives she's got except Strickland Morley's tribe. And
they threw him overboard long, long ago. I can't understand who she
meant; can you, Hosy?"

I had been thinking.

"Wasn't there someone else--some English cousins of hers with whom she
lived for a time after her father's death? Didn't she tell you about
them?"

Hephzy nodded vigorously. "That's so," she declared. "There was. And
she did live with 'em, too. She never told me their names or where they
lived, but I know she despised and hated 'em. She gave me to understand
that. And she ran away from 'em, too, just as she did from us. I don't
see why she should have meant them. I don't believe she did. Perhaps
she'll tell us more next time she comes. That'll be tomorrow, most
likely."

I hoped that it might be to-morrow, but I was fearful. The way in which
she had said good-by made me so. Her look, her manner, seemed to imply
more than a good-by for a day. And, though this I did not tell Hephzy,
she had called me "Kent" for the first time since the happy days at the
rectory. I feared--all sorts of things.

She did not come on the morrow, or the following day, or the day after
that. Another week passed and she did not come, nor had we received any
word from her. By that time Hephzy was as anxious and fretful as I.
And, when I proposed going in search of her, Hephzy, for a wonder,
considering how very, very careful she was of my precious health, did
not say no.

"You're pretty close to bein' as well as ever you was, Hosy," she said.
"And I know how terribly worried you are. If you do go out at night
you may be sick again, but if you don't go and lay awake frettin' and
frettin' about her I KNOW you'll be sick. So perhaps you'd better do it.
Shall I--Sha'n't I go with you?"

"I think you had better not," I said.

"Well, perhaps you're right. You never would tell me much about this
opera-house, or whatever 'tis, but I shouldn't wonder if, bein' a
Yankee, I'd guessed considerable. Go, Hosy, and bring her back if you
can. Find her anyhow. There! there run along. The hack's down at the
door waitin'. Is your head feelin' all right? You're sure? And you
haven't any pain? And you'll keep wrapped up? All right? Good-by,
dearie. Hurry back! Do hurry back, for my sake. And I hope--Oh, I do
hope you'll bring no bad news."

L'Abbaye, at eight-thirty in the evening was a deserted place compared
to what it had been when I visited it at midnight. The waiters and
attendants were there, of course, and a few early bird patrons, but not
many. The bearded proprietors, or managers, were flying about, and I
caught one of them in the middle of a flight.

He did not recognize me at first, but when I stated my errand, he did.
Out went his hands and up went his shoulders.

"The Mademoiselle," he said. "Ah, yes! You are her friend, Monsieur; I
remember perfectly. Oh, no, no, no! she is not here any more. She
has left us. She sings no longer at L'Abbaye. We are desolate; we are
inconsolable. We pleaded, but she was firm. She has gone. Where? Ah,
Monsieur, so many ask that; but alas! we do not know."

"But you do know where she lives," I urged. "You must know her home
address. Give me that. It is of the greatest importance that I see her
at once."

At first he declared that he did not know her address, the address where
she lodged. I persisted and, at last, he admitted that he did know it,
but that he was bound by the most solemn promise to reveal it to no one.

"It was her wish, Monsieur. It was a part of the agreement under which
she sang for us. No one should know who she was or where she lived. And
I--I am an honorable man, Monsieur. I have promised and--" the business
of shoulders and hands again--"my pledged word to a lady, how shall it
be broken?"

I found a way to break it, nevertheless. A trio of gold pieces and the
statement that I was her uncle did the trick. An uncle! Ah, that was
different. And, Mademoiselle had consented to see me when I came before,
that was true. She had seen the young English gentleman also--but we
two only. Was the young English Monsieur--"the Doctor Baylees"--was he a
relative also?

I did not answer that question. It was not his business and, beside, I
did not wish to speak of Herbert Bayliss.

The address which the manager of L'Abbaye gave me, penciled on a card,
was a number in a street in Montmartre, and not far away. I might easily
have walked there, I was quite strong enough for walking now, but I
preferred a cab. Paris motor cabs, as I knew from experience, moved
rapidly. This one bore me to my destination in a few minutes.

A stout middle-aged French woman answered my ring. But her answer to my
inquiries was most unsatisfactory. And, worse than all, I was certain
she was telling me the truth.

The Mademoiselle was no longer there, she said. She had given up
her room three days ago and had gone away. Where? That, alas, was a
question. She had told no one. She had gone and she was not coming back.
Was it not a pity, a great pity! Such a beautiful Mademoiselle! such an
artiste! who sang so sweetly! Ah, the success she had made. And such a
good young lady, too! Not like the others--oh, no, no, no! No one was to
know she lodged there; she would see no one. Ah, a good girl, Monsieur,
if ever one lived.

"Did she--did she go alone?" I asked.

The stout lady hesitated. Was Monsieur a very close friend? Perhaps a
relative?

"An uncle," I said, telling the old lie once more.

Ah, an uncle! It was all right then. No, Mademoiselle had not gone
alone. A young gentleman, a young English gentleman had gone with her,
or, at least, had brought the cab in which she went and had driven
off in it with her. A young English gentleman with a yellow mustache.
Perhaps I knew him.

I recognized the description. She had left the house with Herbert
Bayliss. What did that mean? Had she said yes to him? Were they married?
I dreaded to know, but know I must.

And, as the one possible chance of settling the question, I bade my cab
driver take me to the Hotel Continental. There, at the desk, I asked if
Doctor Bayliss was still in the hotel. They said he was. I think I must
have appeared strange or the gasp of relief with which I received the
news was audible, for the concierge asked me if I was ill. I said no,
and then he told me that Bayliss was planning to leave the next day, but
was just then in his room. Did I wish to see him? I said I did and gave
them my card.

He came down soon afterward. I had not seen him for a fortnight, for his
calls had ceased even before Frances' last visit. Hephzy had said that,
in her opinion, his meals must be disagreeing with him. Judging by his
appearance his digestion was still very much impaired. He was in evening
dress, of course; being an English gentleman he would have dressed for
his own execution, if it was scheduled to take place after six o'clock.
But his tie was carelessly arranged, his shirt bosom was slightly
crumpled and there was a general "don't care" look about his raiment
which was, for him, most unusual. And he was very solemn. I decided at
once, whatever might have happened, it was not what I surmised. He was
neither a happy bridegroom nor a prospective one.

"Good evening, Bayliss," said I, and extended my hand.

"Good evening, Knowles," he said, but he kept his own hands in his
pockets. And he did not ask me to be seated.

"Well?" he said, after a moment.

"I came to you," I began--mine was a delicate errand and hard to
state--"I came to you to ask if you could tell me where Miss Morley has
gone. She has left L'Abbaye and has given up her room at her lodgings.
She has gone--somewhere. Do you know where she is?"

It was quite evident that he did know. I could see it in his face. He
did not answer, however. Instead he glanced about uneasily and then,
turning, led the way toward a small reception room adjoining the lobby.
This room was, save for ourselves, unoccupied.

"We can be more private here," he explained, briefly. "What did you
ask?"

"I asked if you knew where Miss Morley had gone and where she was at the
present time?"

He hesitated, pulling at his mustache, and frowning. "I don't see why
you should ask me that?" he said, after a moment.

"But I do ask it. Do you know where she is?"

Another pause. "Well, if I did," he said, stiffly, "I see no reason
why I should tell you. To be perfectly frank, and as I have said to you
before, I don't consider myself bound to tell you anything concerning
her."

His manner was most offensive. Again, as at the time I came to him at
that very hotel on a similar errand, after my arrival in Paris, I found
it hard to keep my temper.

"Don't misunderstand me," I said, as calmly as I could. "I am not
pretending now to have a claim upon Miss Morley. I am not asking you to
tell me just where she is, if you don't wish to tell. And it is not for
my sake--that is, not primarily for that--that I am anxious about her.
It is for hers. I wish you might tell me this: Is she safe? Is she among
friends? Is she--is she quite safe and in a respectable place and likely
to be happy? Will you tell me that?"

He hesitated again. "She is quite safe," he said, after a moment. "And
she is among friends, or I suppose they are friends. As to her being
happy--well, you ought to know that better than I, it seems to me."

I was puzzled. "_I_ ought to know?" I repeated. "I ought to know whether
she is happy or not? I don't understand."

He looked at me intently. "Don't you?" he asked. "You are certain you
don't? Humph! Well, if I were in your place I would jolly well find out;
you may be sure of that."

"What are you driving at, Bayliss? I tell you I don't know what you
mean."

He did not answer. He was frowning and kicking the corner of a rug with
his foot.

"I don't understand what you mean," I repeated. "You are saying too much
or too little for my comprehension."

"I've said too much," he muttered. "At all events, I have said all
I shall say. Was there any other subject you wished to see me about,
Knowles? If not I must be going. I'm rather busy this evening."

"There was no subject but that one. And you will tell me nothing more
concerning Miss Morley?"

"No."

"Good night," I said, and turned away. Then I turned back.

"Bayliss," said I, "I think perhaps I had better say this: I have only
the kindest feelings toward you. You may have misunderstood my attitude
in all this. I have said nothing to prejudice her--Miss Morley against
you. I never shall. You care for her, I know. If she cares for you that
is enough, so far as I am concerned. Her happiness is my sole wish. I
want you to consider me your friend--and hers."

Once more I extended my hand. For an instant I thought he was going to
take it, but he did not.

"No," he said, sullenly. "I won't shake hands with you. Why should I?
You don't mean what you say. At least I don't think you do. I--I--By
Jove! you can't!"

"But I do," I said, patiently.

"You can't! Look here! you say I care for her. God knows I do! But
you--suppose you knew where she was, what would you do? Would you go to
her?"

I had been considering this very thing, during my ride to the lodgings
and on the way to the hotel; and I had reached a conclusion.

"No," I answered, slowly. "I think I should not. I know she does not
wish me to follow her. I suppose she went away to avoid me. If I were
convinced that she was among friends, in a respectable place, and quite
safe, I should try to respect her wish. I think I should not follow her
there."

He stared at me, wide-eyed.

"You wouldn't!" he repeated. "You wouldn't! And you--Oh, I say! And you
talked of her happiness!"

"It is her happiness I am thinking of. If it were my own I should--"

"What?"

"Nothing, nothing. She will be happier if I do not follow her, I
suppose. That is enough for me."

He regarded me with the same intent stare.

"Knowles," he said, suddenly, "she is at the home of a relative of
hers--Cripps is the name--in Leatherhead, England. There! I have told
you. Why I should be such a fool I don't know. And now you will go
there, I suppose. What?"

"No," I answered. "No. I thank you for telling me, Bayliss, but it shall
make no difference. I will respect her wish. I will not go there."

"You won't!"

"No, I will not trouble her again."

To my surprise he laughed. It was not a pleasant laugh, there was more
sarcasm than mirth in it, or so it seemed, but why he should laugh at
all I could not understand.

"Knowles," he said, "you're a good fellow, but--"

"But what?" I asked, stiffly.

"You're no end of a silly ass in some ways. Good night."

He turned on his heel and walked off.



CHAPTER XVII

In Which I, as Well as Mr. Solomon Cripps, Am Surprised


"And to think," cried Hephzy, for at least the fifth time since I told
her, "that those Crippses are her people, the cousins she lived with
after her pa's death! No wonder she was surprised when I told her how
you and I went to Leatherhead and looked at their 'Ash Dump'--'Ash
Chump,' I mean. And we came just as near hirin' it, too; we would have
hired it if she hadn't put her foot down and said she wouldn't go there.
A good many queer things have happened on this pilgrimage of ours, Hosy,
but I do believe our goin' straight to those Crippses, of all the folks
in England, is about the strangest. Seems as if we was sent there with a
purpose, don't it?"

"It is a strange coincidence," I admitted.

"It's more'n that. And her goin' back to them is queerer still. She
hates 'em, I know she does. She as much as said so, not mention' their
names, of course. Why did she do it?"

I knew why she had done it, or I believed I did.

"She did it to please you and me, Hephzy," I said. "And to get rid of
us. She said she would do anything to please us, and she knew I did not
want her to remain here in Paris. I told her I should stay here as long
as she did, or at least as long as she sang at--at the place where she
was singing. And she asked if, provided she gave up singing there, you
and I would go back to England--or America?"

"Yes, I know; you told me that, Hosy. But you said you didn't promise to
do it."

"I didn't promise anything. I couldn't promise not to follow her. I
didn't believe I could keep the promise. But I sha'n't follow her,
Hephzy. I shall not go to Leatherhead."

Hephzy was silent for a moment. Then she said: "Why not?"

"You know why. That night when I first met her, the night after you had
gone to Lucerne, she told me that if I persisted in following her and
trying to see her I would force her to give up the only means of earning
a living she had been able to find. Well, I have forced her to do that.
She has been obliged to run away once more in order to get rid of us.
I am not going to persecute her further. I am going to try and be
unselfish and decent, if I can. Now that we know she is safe and among
friends--"

"Friends! A healthy lot of friends they are--that Solomon Cripps and his
wife! If ever I ran afoul of a sanctimonious pair of hypocrites they're
the pair. Oh, they were sweet and buttery enough to us, I give in, but
that was because they thought we was goin' to hire their Dump or Chump,
or whatever 'twas. I'll bet they could be hard as nails to anybody they
had under their thumbs. Whenever I see a woman or a man with a mouth
that shuts up like a crack in a plate, the way theirs do, it takes more
than Scriptur' texts from that mouth to make me believe it won't bite
when it has the chance. Safe! poor Little Frank may be safe enough at
Leatherhead, but I'll bet she's miserable. WHAT made her go there?"

"Because she had no other place to go, I suppose," I said. "And
there, among her relatives, she thought she would be free from our
persecution."

"There's some things worse than persecution," Hephzy declared; "and,
so far as that goes, there are different kinds of persecution. But what
makes those Crippses willin' to take her in and look after her is what
_I_ can't understand. They MAY be generous and forgivin' and kind, but,
if they are, then I miss my guess. The whole business is awful queer.
Tell me all about your talk with Doctor Bayliss, Hosy. What did he say?
And how did he look when he said it?"

I told her, repeating our conversation word for word, as near as I could
remember it. She listened intently and when I had finished there was an
odd expression on her face.

"Humph!" she exclaimed. "He seemed surprised to think you weren't goin'
to Leatherhead, you say?"

"Yes. At least I thought he was surprised. He knew I had chased her from
Mayberry to Paris and was there at the hotel trying to learn from him
where she was. And he knows you are her aunt. I suppose he thought it
strange that we were not going to follow her any further."

"Maybe so... maybe so. But why did he call you a--what was it?--a silly
donkey?"

"Because I am one, I imagine," I answered, bitterly. "It's my natural
state. I was born one."

"Humph! Well, 'twould take more than that boy's word to make me believe
it. No there's something!--I wish I could see that young fellow myself.
He's at the Continental Hotel, you say?"

"Yes; but he leaves to-morrow. There, Hephzy, that's enough. Don't talk
about it. Change the subject. I am ready to go back to England--yes,
or America either, whenever you say the word. The sooner the better for
me."

Hephzy obediently changed the subject and we decided to leave Paris the
following afternoon. We would go back to the rectory, of course, and
leave there for home as soon as the necessary arrangements could be
made. Hephzy agreed to everything, she offered no objections, in fact
it seemed to me that she was paying very little attention. Her lack of
interest--yes, and apparent lack of sympathy, for I knew she must know
what my decision meant to me--hurt and irritated me.

I rose.

"Good night," I said, curtly. "I'm going to bed."

"That's right, Hosy. You ought to go. You'll be sick again if you sit up
any longer. Good night, dearie."

"And you?" I asked. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to set up a spell longer. I want to think."

"I don't. I wish I might never think again. Or dream, either. I am awake
at last. God knows I wish I wasn't!"

She moved toward me. There was the same odd expression on her face and a
queer, excited look in her eyes.

"Perhaps you aren't really awake, Hosy," she said, gently. "Perhaps this
is the final dream and when you do wake you'll find--"

"Oh, bosh!" I interrupted. "Don't tell me you have another presentiment.
If you have keep it to yourself. Good night."

I was weak from my recent illness and I had been under a great nervous
strain all that evening. These are my only excuses and they are poor
ones. I spoke and acted abominably and I was sorry for it afterward. I
have told Hephzy so a good many times since, but I think she understood
without my telling her.

"Well," she said, quietly, "dreams are somethin', after all. It's
somethin' to have had dreams. I sha'n't forget mine. Good night, Hosy."

The next morning after breakfast she announced that she had an errand
or two to do. She would run out and do them, she said, but she would be
gone only a little while. She was gone nearly two hours during which I
paced the floor or sat by the window looking out. The crowded boulevard
was below me, but I did not see it. All I saw was a future as desolate
and blank as the Bayport flats at low tide, and I, a quahaug on those
flats, doomed to live, or exist, forever and ever and ever, with nothing
to live for.

Hephzy, when she did return to the hotel, was surprisingly chatty and
good-humored. She talked, talked, talked all the time, about nothing in
particular, laughed a good deal, and flew about, packing our belongings
and humming to herself. She acted more like the Hephzy of old than she
had for weeks. There was an air of suppressed excitement about her which
I could not understand. I attributed it to the fact of our leaving for
America in the near future and her good humor irritated me. My spirits
were lower than ever.

"You seem to be remarkably happy," I observed, fretfully.

"What makes you think so, Hosy? Because I was singin'? Father used
to say my singin' was the most doleful noise he ever heard, except
a fog-horn on a lee shore. I'm glad if you think it's a proof of
happiness: I'm much obliged for the compliment."

"Well, you are happy, or you are trying to appear so. If you are
pretending for my benefit, don't. I'M not happy."

"I know, Hosy; I know. Well, perhaps you--"

She didn't finish the sentence.

"Perhaps what?"

"Oh, nothin', nothin'. How many shirts did you bring with you? is this
all?"

She sang no more, probably because she saw that the "fog-horn" annoyed
me, but her manner was just as strange and her nervous energy as
pronounced. I began to doubt if my surmise, that her excitement and
exaltation were due to the anticipation of an early return to Bayport,
was a correct one. I began to thing there must be some other course and
to speculate concerning it. And I, too, grew a bit excited.

"Hephzy," I said, suddenly, "where did you go when you went out this
morning? What sort of 'errands' were those of yours?"

She was folding my ties, her back toward me, and she answered without
turning.

"Oh, I had some odds and ends of things to do," she said. "This plaid
necktie of yours is gettin' pretty shabby, Hosy. I guess you can't
wear it again. There! I mustn't stop to talk. I've got my own things to
pack."

She hurried to her own room and I asked no more questions just then.
But I was more suspicious than ever. I remembered a question of hers
the previous evening and I believed.... But, if she had gone to the
Continental and seen Herbert Bayliss, what could he have told her to
make her happy?

We took the train for Calais and crossed the Channel to Dover. This time
the eccentric strip of water was as calm as a pond at sunset. No jumpy,
white-capped billows, no flying spray, no seasick passengers. Tarpaulins
were a drag on the market.

"I wouldn't believe," declared Hephzy, "that this lookin'-glass was
the same as that churned-up tub of suds we slopped through before. It
doesn't trickle down one's neck now, does it, Hosy. A 'nahsty' cross-in'
comin' and a smooth one comin' back. I wonder if that's a sign."

"Oh, don't talk about signs, Hephzy," I pleaded, wearily. "You'll begin
to dream again, I suppose, pretty soon."

"No, I won't. I think you and I have stopped dreamin', Hosy. Maybe we're
just wakin' up, same as I told you."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Mean? Oh, I guess I didn't mean anything. Good-by, old France! You're a
lovely country and a lively one, but I sha'n't cry at sayin' good-by to
you this time. And there's England dead ahead. Won't it seem good to
be where they talk instead of jabber! I sha'n't have to navigate by the
'one-two-three' chart over there."

Dover, a flying trip through the customs, the train again, an English
dinner in an English restaurant car--not a "wagon bed," as Hephzy said,
exultantly--and then London.

We took a cab to the hotel, not Bancroft's this time, but a modern
downtown hostelry where there were at least as many Americans as
English. In our rooms I would have cross-questioned Hephzy, but she
would not be questioned, declaring that she was tired and sleepy. I was
tired, also, but not sleepy. I was almost as excited as she seemed to
be by this time. I was sure she had learned something that morning in
Paris, something which pleased her greatly. What that something might
be I could not imagine; but I believed she had learned it from Herbert
Bayliss.

And the next morning, after breakfast, she announced that she had
arranged for a cab and we must start for the station at once. I said
nothing then, but when the cab pulled up before a railway station, a
station which was not our accustomed one but another, I said a great
deal.

"What in the world, Hephzy!" I exclaimed. "We can't go to Mayberry from
here."

"Hush, hush, Hosy. Wait a minute--wait till I've paid the driver. Yes,
I'm doin' it myself. I'm skipper on this cruise. You're an invalid,
didn't you know it. Invalids have to obey orders."

The cabman paid, she took my arm and led me into the station.

"And now, Hosy," she said, "let me tell you. We aren't goin' to
Mayberry--not yet. We're going to Leatherhead."

"To Leatherhead!" I repeated. "To Leatherhead! To--her? We certainly
will do no such thing."

"Yes, we will, Hosy," quietly. "I haven't said anything about it before,
but I've made up my mind. It's our duty to see her just once more, once
more before--before we say good-by for good. It's our duty."

"Duty! Our duty is to let her alone, to leave her in peace, as she asked
us."

"How do you know she is in peace? Suppose she isn't. Suppose she's
miserable and unhappy. Isn't it our duty to find out? I think it is?"

I looked her full in the face. "Hephzy," I said, sharply, "you know
something about her, something that I don't know. What is it?"

"I don't know as I know anything, Hosy. I can't say that I do. But--"

"You saw Herbert Bayliss yesterday. That was the 'errand' you went upon
yesterday morning in Paris. Wasn't it?"

She was very much taken aback. She has told me since that she had no
idea I suspected the truth.

"Wasn't it?" I repeated.

"Why--why, yes, it was, Hosy. I did go to see him, there at his hotel.
When you told me how he acted and what he said to you I thought 'twas
awfully funny, and the more I thought it over the funnier it seemed. So
I made up my mind to see him and talk with him myself. And I did."

"What did he tell you?" I asked.

"He told me--he told me--Well, he didn't tell me so much, maybe, but he
gave me to understand a whole lot. She's gone to those Crippses, Hosy,
just as I suspicioned, not because she likes 'em--she hates 'em--or
because she wanted to go, but because she thought 'twould please us if
she did. It doesn't please us; it doesn't please me, anyway. She sha'n't
be miserable for our sake, not without a word from us. No, we must go
there and see her and--and tell her once more just how we feel about it.
It's our duty to go and we must. And," with decision, "we're goin' now."

She had poured out this explanation breathlessly, hurrying as if fearful
that I might interrupt and ask more questions. I asked one of them the
moment she paused.

"We knew all that before," I said. "That is, we were practically sure
she had left Paris to get rid of us and had gone to her cousins, the
Crippses, because of her half-promise to me not to sing at places like
the Abbey again. We knew all that. And she asked me to promise that we
would not follow her. I didn't promise, but that makes no difference.
Was that all Bayliss told you?"

Hephzy was still embarrassed and confused, though she answered promptly
enough.

"He told me he knew she didn't want to go to--to those Leatherheaded
folks," she declared. "We guessed she didn't, but we didn't know it for
sure. And he said we ought to go to her. He said that."

"But why did he say it? Our going will not alter her determination to
stay and our seeing her again will only make it harder for her."

"No, it won't--no it won't," hastily. "Besides I want to see that Cripps
man and have a talk with him, myself. I want to know why a man like
him--I'm pretty well along in years; I've met folks and bargained and
dealt with 'em all my grown-up life and I KNOW he isn't the kind to do
things for nothin' for ANYBODY--I want to know why he and his wife are
so generous to her. There's somethin' behind it."

"There's something behind you, Hephzy. Some other reason that you
haven't told me. Was that all Bayliss said?"

She hesitated. "Yes," she said, after a moment, "that's all, all I can
tell you now, anyway. But I want you to go with me to that Ash Dump and
see her once more."

"I shall not, Hephzy."

"Well, then I'll have to go by myself. And if you don't go, too, I
think you'll be awfully sorry. I think you will. Oh, Hosy," pleadingly,
"please go with me. I don't ask you to do many things, now do I? I do
ask you to do this."

I shook my head.

"I would do almost anything for your sake, Hephzy," I began.

"But this isn't for my sake. It's for hers. For hers. I'm sure--I'm
ALMOST sure you and she will both be glad you did it."

I could not understand it at all. I had never seen her more earnest. She
was not the one to ask unreasonable things and yet where her sister's
child was concerned she could be obstinate enough--I knew that.

"I shall go whether you do or not," she said, as I stood looking at her.

"You mean that, Hephzy?"

"I surely do. I'm goin' to see her this very forenoon. And I do hope
you'll go with me."

I reflected. If she went alone it would be almost as hard for Frances
as if I went with her. And the temptation was very strong. The desire to
see her once more, only once....

"I'll go, Hephzy," I said. I didn't mean to say it; the words seemed to
come of themselves.

"You will! Oh, I'm so glad! I'm so glad! And I think--I think you'll be
glad, too, Hosy. I'm hopin' you will."

"I'll go," I said. "But this is the last time you and I must trouble
her. I'll go--not because of any reason you have given me, Hephzy, but
because I believe there must be some other and stronger reason, which
you haven't told me."

Hephzy drew a long breath. She seemed to be struggling between a desire
to tell me more--whatever that more might be--and a determination not to
tell.

"Maybe there is, Hosy," she said, slowly. "Maybe there is. I--I--Well,
there! I must go and buy the tickets. You sit down and wait. I'm skipper
of this craft to-day, you know. I'm in command on this voyage."

Leatherhead looked exactly as it had on our previous visit. "Ash Clump,"
the villa which the Crippses had been so anxious for us to hire, was
still untenanted, or looked to be. We walked on until we reached the
Cripps home and entered the Cripps gate. I rang the bell and the maid
answered the ring.

In answer to our inquiries she told us that Mr. Cripps was not in. He
and Mrs. Cripps had gone to chapel. I remembered then that the day was
Sunday. I had actually forgotten it.

"Is Miss Morley in?" asked Hephzy.

The maid shook her head.

"No, ma'am," she said. "Miss Morley ain't in, either. I think she's gone
to chapel, too. I ain't sure, ma'am, but I think she 'as. She's not in."

She asked if we would leave cards. Hephzy said no.

"It's 'most noon," she said. "They'll be back pretty soon. We'll wait.
No, we won't come in. We'll wait out here, I guess."

There was a rustic seat on the lawn near the house and Hephzy seated
herself upon it. I walked up and down. I was in a state of what Hephzy
would have called "nerves." I had determined to be very calm when I
met her, to show no emotion, to be very calm and cool, no matter what
happened. But this waiting was hard. I grew more nervous every minute.

"I'm going to stroll about, Hephzy," I said. "About the garden and
grounds. I sha'n't go far and I'll return soon. I shall be within call.
Send one of the servants for me if she--if the Crippses come before I
get back."

Hephzy did not urge me to remain. Nor did she offer to accompany me. As
usual she seemed to read my thoughts and understand them.

"All right, Hosy," she said. "You go and have your walk. I'll wait here.
But don't be long, will you."

I promised not to be long. The Cripps gardens and grounds were not
extensive, but they were well kept even if the beds were geometrically
ugly and the color masses jarring and in bad taste. The birds sang, the
breeze stirred the leaves and petals, and there was a Sunday quiet, the
restful hush of an English Sunday, everywhere.

I strolled on along the paths, through the gap in the hedge dividing
the kitchen garden from the purely ornamental section, past the stables,
until I emerged from the shrubbery at the top of a little hill. There
was a pleasant view from this hill, the customary view of hedged fields
and meadows, flocks of sheep and groups of grazing cattle, and over all
the soft blue haze and misty sky.

I paused. And then close beside me, I heard a startled exclamation.

I turned. In a nook of the shrubbery was another rustic seat. Rising
from that seat and gazing at me with a look of amazed incredulity,
was--Frances Morley.

I did not speak. I could not, for the moment. She spoke first.

"You!" she exclaimed. "You--here!"

And still I did not speak. Where was the calm with which I was to meet
her? Where were the carefully planned sentences which were to explain
how I had come and why? I don't know where they were; I seemed to
know only that she was there, that I was alone with her as I had never
thought or meant to be again, and that if I spoke I should say things
far different from those I had intended.

She was recovering from her surprise. She came toward me.

"What are you doing here?" she asked. "Why did you come?"

I stammered a word or two, some incoherences to the effect that I had
not expected to find her there, that I had been told she was at church.
She shook her head, impatiently.

"I mean why did you come here--to Leatherhead?" she asked. "Why did you
come? Did you know--"

I interrupted her. If ever I was to explain, or attempt to explain, I
realized that it must be at that moment. She might listen to me then,
before she had had time to think. Later I knew she would not.

"I knew you were here," I broke in, quickly. "I--we--your aunt knew and
we came."

"But HOW did you know? Who told you?"

"The--we learned," I answered. "And we came."

It was a poor explanation--or none at all. She seemed to think it so.
And yet she seemed more hurt than offended.

"You came--yes," she said. "And you knew that I left Paris because--Oh,
you knew that! I asked you not to follow me. You promised you would
not."

I was ashamed, thoroughly ashamed and disgusted with myself for yielding
to Hephzy's entreaties.

"No, no," I protested, "I did not promise. I did not promise, Frances."

"But you know I did not wish you to do it. I did not wish you to follow
me to Paris, but you did it. I told you you would force me to give up my
only means of earning money. You did force me to give it up. I gave it
up to please you, for your sake, and now--"

"Did you?" I cried, eagerly. "Did you give it up for my sake, Frances?
Did you?"

"You know I did. You must know it. And now that I have done it, now that
I have given up my opportunity and my--my self-respect and my one chance
and come here to this--to this place, you--you--Oh, how could you!
Wasn't I unhappy enough before? And unhappy enough now? Oh, how could
you!"

I was more ashamed than ever. I tried desperately to justify my action.

"But that was it," I persisted. "Don't you see? It was your happiness,
the thought that you were unhappy which brought me here. I know--you
told your aunt how unhappy you had been when you were with these people
before. I know how much you disliked them. That was why I came. To ask
you to give this up as you did the other. To come with us and BE happy.
I want you to come, Frances. Think! Think how much I must want you."

And, for the moment I thought this appeal had some effect. It seemed to
me that her resolution was shaken, that she was wavering.

"You--you really want me?" she repeated.

"Yes. Yes, I can't tell you--I must not tell you how much I want you.
And your aunt--she wants you to come. She is here, too. She will tell
you."

Her manner changed once more. The tone in which she spoke was different.
There were no signs of the wavering which I had noticed--or hoped I
noticed.

"No," she said. "No. I shall not see my aunt. And I must not talk with
you any longer. I asked you not to follow me here. You did it, in spite
of my asking. Now, unless you wish to drive me away from here, as you
did from Paris, you will leave me and not try to see me again. Oh, don't
you see--CAN'T you see how miserable you are making me? And yet you
talk of my happiness!"

"But you aren't happy here. ARE you happy?"

"I am happy enough. Yes, I am happy."

"I don't believe it. Are these Crippses kind to you?"

"Yes."

I didn't believe that, either, but I did not say so. Instead I said what
I had determined to say, the same thing that I should have said before,
in Mayberry and in Paris--if I could have mustered the courage and
decency to say it.

"Frances," I said, "there is something else, something which may have
a bearing on your happiness, or may not, I don't know. The night before
you left us, at Mayberry, Herbert Bayliss came to me and asked my
permission to marry you, if you were willing. He thought you were my
niece--then. I said that--I said that, although of course I had no
shadow of authority over you, I did care for your happiness. I cared for
that a great deal. If you loved him I should certainly--"

"I see," she broke in, scornfully. "I see. He told you I was here. That
is why you came. Did he send you to me to say--what you are trying to
say?"

"Oh, no, no! You are mistaken. You wrong him, Frances. He did not do
that. He's not that sort. He's a good fellow, an honorable man. And he
does care for you. I know it. He cares greatly. He would, I am sure,
make you a good husband, and if you care for him, he would do his best
to make you happy, I--"

Again she interrupted. "One moment," she said, "Let me understand. Are
you urging me to marry Herbert Bayliss?"

"No. I am not urging you, of course. But if you do care for him--"

"I do not."

"Oh, you don't love him?"

I wonder if there was relief in my tone. There should not have been, of
course, but I fear there was.

"No, I do not--love him. He is a gentleman and I like him well enough,
but not in that way. Please don't say any more."

"Very well. I only meant--Tell me this, if you will: Is there someone
you do care for?"

She did not answer. I had offended her again. She had cause to be
offended. What business was it of mine?

"I beg your pardon," I said, humbly. "I should not have asked that. I
have no right to ask it. But if there is someone for whom you care in
that way and he cares for you, it--"

"Oh, don't, don't! He doesn't."

"Then there is someone?"

She was silent. I tried to speak like a man, like the man I was
pretending to be.

"I am glad to know it," I said. "If you care for him he must care for
you. He cannot help it. I am sure you will be happy by and by. I can
leave you here now with more--with less reluctance. I--"

I could not trust myself to go on, although I tried to do so. She
answered, without looking at me.

"Yes," she said, "you can leave me now. I am safe and--and happy.
Good-by."

I took her hand.

"Good-by," I said. "Forgive me for coming. I shall not trouble you
again. This time I promise. You may not wish to write us, but we shall
write you. And I--I hope you won't forget us."

It was a lame conclusion and trite enough. She must have thought so.

"I shall not forget you," she said, simply. "And I will try to write
occasionally. Yes, I will try. Now please go. Good-by."

I went, without looking back. I strode along the paths, scarcely
noticing where I was going. As I neared the corner of the house I heard
voices, loud voices. One of them, though it was not as loud as the
others, was Hephzy's.

"I knew it," she was saying, as I turned the corner. "I knew it. I knew
there was some reason, some mean selfish reason why you were willin' to
take that girl under your wing. I knew it wasn't kind-heartedness and
relationship. I knew it."

It was Solomon Cripps who answered. Mr. and Mrs. Cripps, arrayed in
their Sabbath black and white, were standing by the door of their villa.
Hephzy was standing before them. Her face was set and determined and she
looked highly indignant. Mr. Cripps' face was red and frowning and he
gesticulated with a red hand, which clasped a Testament. His English was
by no means as pure and undefiled as when he had endeavored to persuade
us into hiring "Ash Clump."

"Look 'ere," he snarled. "Don't you talk to me like that. Don't you
suppose I know what I'm doing. You Yankees may be clever at your tricks,
but you can't trick me. Don't I know about the money you stole from 'er
father? Don't I, eh? You can tell 'er your lies about it being stolen by
someone else, but I can see a 'ole through a millstone. You can't trick
me, I tell you. They're giving that girl a good 'ome and care and all
that, but we're goin' to see she 'as 'er rights. You've filled 'er silly
'ead with your stories. You've made 'er think you're all that's good
and--"

I was at hand by this time.

"What's all this, Hephzy?" I asked.

Before Hephzy could reply Mrs. Cripps spoke.

"It's him!" she cried, seizing her husband's arm with one hand and
pointing at me with the other. "It's him," she cried, venomously. "He's
here, too."

The sight of me appeared to upset what little self-control Mr. Cripps
had left.

"You!" he shouted, "I might 'ave known you were 'ere. You're the one
that's done it. You're responsible. Filling her silly 'ead with lies
about your goodness and all that. Making her fall in love with you
and--"

I sprang forward.

"WHAT?" I cried. "What are you saying?"

Hephzy was frightened.

"Hosy," she cried, "don't look so. Don't! You frighten me."

I scarcely heard her.

"WHAT did you say?" I demanded, addressing Cripps, who shrank back,
rather alarmed apparently. "Why, you scoundrel! What do you mean by
saying that? Speak up! What do you mean by it?"

If Mr. Cripps was alarmed his wife was not. She stepped forward and
faced me defiantly.

"He means just what he says," she declared, her shrill voice quivering
with vindictive spite. "And you know what he means perfectly well. You
ought to be ashamed of yourself, a man as old as you and she an innocent
young girl! You've hypnotized her--that is what you've done, hypnotized
her. All those ridiculous stories about her having no money she believes
because you told them to her. She would believe the moon was made of
green cheese if you said so. She's mad about you--the poor little fool!
She won't hear a word against you--says you're the best, noblest man in
the world! You! Why she won't even deny that she's in love with you; she
was brazen enough to tell me she was proud of it. Oh.... Stop! Where are
you going? Solomon, stop him!"

Solomon did not stop me. I am very glad he didn't try. No one could have
stopped me then. I was on my way back along the garden path, and if I
did not keep to that path, but plunged ruthlessly through flower beds
and shrubbery I did not care, nor do I care now.

She was sitting on the rustic seat where I had left her. There were
tears on her cheeks. She had heard me coming--a deaf person would have
heard that--and she rose as I burst into view.

"What is it?" she cried, in alarm. "Oh, what is it?"

At the sight of her I paused. I had not meant to pause; I had intended
to take her in my arms, to ask her if what I had just heard was true, to
make her answer me. But now, as she stood there before me, so young, so
girlish, so beautiful, the hopeless idiocy of the thing struck me with
overwhelming force. It WAS idiocy. It couldn't be true.

"What is it?" she repeated. "Oh, Kent! what is the matter? Why did you
come back? What has happened?"

I stepped forward. True or false I must know. I must know then and
there. It was now or never for me.

"Frances," I stammered, "I came back because--I--I have just
heard--Frances, you told me you loved someone--not Bayliss, but someone
else. Who is that someone?"

She had been pale. My sudden and unexpected appearance had frightened
her. Now as we faced each other, as I stood looking down into her face,
I saw the color rise and spread over that face from throat to brow.

"Who is it?" I repeated.

She drew back.

"I--I can't tell you," she faltered. "You mustn't ask me."

"But I do ask. You must tell me, Frances--Frances, it isn't--it can't be
that you love ME. Do you?"

She drew back still further. If there had been a way of escape I think
she would have taken it. But there was none. The thick shrubbery was
behind her and I was between her and the path. And I would not let her
pass.

"Oh, Frances, do you?" I repeated. "I never meant to ask you. I never
meant that you should know. I am so much older, and so--so unworthy--it
has seemed so hopeless and ridiculous. But I love you, Frances, I have
loved you from the very beginning, although at first I didn't realize
it. I--If you do--if you can--I--I--"

I faltered, hesitated, and stopped. She did not answer for a moment, a
long, long moment. Then:

"Mr. Knowles," she said, "you surprise me. I didn't suspect--I didn't
think--"

I sighed. I had had my answer. Of course it was idiotic. I should have
known; I did know.

"I see," I said. "I understand. Forgive me, please. I was a fool to even
think of such a thing. I didn't think it. I didn't dare until--until
just now. Then I was told--your cousin said--I might have known he
didn't mean what he said. But he said it and--and--"

"What did he say? Mr. Cripps, do you mean? What did he say?"

"He said--he said you--you cared for me--in that way. Of course you
don't--you can't. I know better. But for the moment I dared to hope. I
was crazy, of course. Forgive me, Frances."

She looked up and then down again.

"There is nothing to forgive," she said.

"Yes, there is. There is a great deal. An old--"

"Hush! hush, please. Don't speak like that. I--I thank you. I--you
mustn't suppose I am not grateful. I know you pity me. I know how
generous you are. But your pity--"

"It isn't pity. I should pity myself, if that were all. I love you
Frances, and I shall always love you. I am not ashamed of it. I shall
have that love to comfort me till I die. I am ashamed of having told
you, of troubling you again, that is all."

I was turning away, but I heard her step beside me and felt her hand
upon my sleeve. I turned back again. She was looking me full in the face
now and her eyes were shining.

"What Mr. Cripps said was true," she said.

I could not believe it. I did not believe it even then.

"True!" I repeated. "No, no! You don't mean--"

"I do mean it. I told him that I loved you."

I don't know what more she would have said. I did not wait to hear. She
was in my arms at last and all England was whirling about me like a top.

"But you can't!" I found myself saying over and over. I must have
said other things before, but I don't remember them. "You can't! it is
impossible. You! marry an old fossil like me! Oh, Frances, are you sure?
Are you sure?"

"Yes, Kent," softly, "I am sure."

"But you can't love me. You are sure that your--You have no reason to be
grateful to me, but you have said you were, you know. You are sure you
are not doing this because--"

"I am sure. It is not because I am grateful."

"But, my dear--think! Think what it means, I am--"

"I know what you are," tenderly. "No one knows as well. But, Kent--Kent,
are YOU sure? It isn't pity for me?"

I think I convinced her that it was not pity. I know I tried. And I was
still trying when the sound of steps and voices on the other side of
the shrubbery caused us--or caused her; I doubt if I should have heard
anything except her voice just then--to start and exclaim:

"Someone is coming! Don't, dear, don't! Someone is coming."

It was the Crippses who were coming, of course. Mr. and Mrs. Cripps and
Hephzy. They would have come sooner, I learned afterwards, but Hephzy
had prevented it.

Solomon's red face was redder still when he saw us together. And Mrs.
Cripps' mouth looked more like "a crack in a plate" than ever.

"So!" she exclaimed. "Here's where you are! I thought as much. And
you--you brazen creature!"

I objected strongly to "brazen creature" as a term applied to my future
wife. I intended saying so, but Mr. Cripps got ahead of me.

"You get off my grounds," he blurted, waving his fist. "You get out of
'ere now or I'll 'ave you put off. Do you 'ear?"

I should have answered him as he deserved to be answered, but Frances
would not let me.

"Don't, Kent," she whispered. "Don't quarrel with him, please. He is
going, Mr. Cripps. We are going--now."

Mrs. Cripps fairly shrieked. "WE are going?" she repeated. "Do you mean
you are going with him?"

Hephzy joined in, but in a quite different tone.

"You are goin'?" she said, joyfully. "Oh, Frances, are you comin' with
us?"

It was my turn now and I rejoiced in the prospect. An entire brigade of
Crippses would not have daunted me then. I should have enjoyed defying
them all.

"Yes," said I, "she is coming with us, Hephzy. Mr. Cripps, will you be
good enough to stand out of the way? Come, Frances."

It is not worth while repeating what Mr. and Mrs. Cripps said. They said
a good deal, threatened all sorts of things, lawsuits among the rest.
Hephzy fired the last guns for our side.

"Yes, yes," she retorted, impatiently. "I know you're goin' to sue. Go
ahead and sue and prosecute yourselves to death, if you want to. The
lawyers'll get their fees out of you, and that's some comfort--though
I shouldn't wonder if THEY had to sue to get even that. And I tell you
this: If you don't send Little Frank's--Miss Morley's trunks to Mayberry
inside of two days we'll come and get 'em and we'll come with the
sheriff and the police."

Mrs. Cripps, standing by the gate, fell back upon her last line of
intrenchments, the line of piety.

"And to think," she declared, with upturned eyes, "that this is the 'oly
Sabbath! Never mind, Solomon. The Lord will punish 'em. I shall pray to
Him not to curse them too hard."

Hephzy's retort was to the point.

"I wouldn't," she said. "If I had been doin' what you two have been up
to, pretendin' to care for a young girl and offerin' to give her a home,
and all the time doin' it just because I thought I could squeeze money
out of her, I shouldn't trouble the Lord much. I wouldn't take the risk
of callin' His attention to me."



CHAPTER XVIII

In Which the Pilgrimage Ends Where It Began


We did not go to Mayberry that day. We went to London and to the hotel;
not Bancroft's, but the hotel where Hephzy and I had stayed the previous
night. It was Frances' wish that we should not go to Bancroft's.

"I don't think that I could go there, Kent," she whispered to me, on the
train. "Mr. and Mrs Jameson were very kind, and I liked them so much,
but--but they would ask questions; they wouldn't understand. It would be
hard to make them understand. Don't you see, Kent?"

I saw perfectly. Considering that the Jamesons believed Miss Morley to
be my niece, it would indeed be hard to make them understand. I was not
inclined to try. I had had quite enough of the uncle and niece business.

So we went to the other hotel and if the clerk was surprised to see us
again so soon he said nothing about it. Perhaps he was not surprised. It
must take a good deal to surprise a hotel clerk.

On the train, in our compartment--a first-class compartment, you may be
sure; I would have hired the whole train if it had been necessary; there
was nothing too good or too expensive for us that afternoon--on the
train, discussing the ride to London, Hephzy did most of the talking.
I was too happy to talk much and Frances, sitting in her corner and
pretending to look out of the window, was silent also. I should have
been fearful that she was not happy, that she was already repenting her
rashness in promising to marry the Bayport "quahaug," but occasionally
she looked at me, and, whenever she did, the wireless message our eyes
exchanged, sent that quahaug aloft on a flight through paradise. A
flying clam is an unusual specimen, I admit, but no other quahaug in
this wide, wide world had an excuse like mine for developing wings.

Hephzy did not appear to notice our silence. She chatted and laughed
continuously. We had not told her our secret--the great secret--and if
she suspected it she kept her suspicions to herself. Her chatter was a
curious mixture: triumph over the detached Crippses; joy because, after
all, "Little Frank" had consented to come with us, to live with us
again; and triumph over me because her dreams and presentiments had come
true.

"I told you, Hosy," she kept saying. "I told you! I said it would all
come out in the end. He wouldn't believe it, Frances. He said I was an
old lunatic and--"

"I didn't say anything of the kind," I broke in.

"You said what amounted to that and I don't know as I blame you. But
I knew--I just KNEW he and I had been 'sent' on this course and that
we--all three of us--would make the right port in the end. And we
have--we have, haven't we, Frances?"

"Yes," said Frances, simply. "We have, Auntie--"

"There! do you hear that, Hosy? Isn't it good to hear her call
me 'Auntie' again! Now I'm satisfied; or"--with a momentary
hesitation--"pretty nearly satisfied, anyway."

"Oh, then you're not quite satisfied, after all," I observed. "What more
do you want?"

"I want just one thing more; just one, that's all."

I believed I know what that one thing was, but I asked her. She shot a
look at me, a look of indignant meaning.

"Never mind," she said, decidedly. "That's my affair. Oh, Ho!" with a
reminiscent chuckle, "how that Cripps woman did glare at me when I said
'twas pretty risky her callin' the Almighty's attention to their doin's.
I hope it did her good. Maybe she'll think of it next time she goes to
chapel. But I suppose she won't. All such folks care for is money. They
wouldn't be so anxious to get to Heaven if they hadn't read about the
golden streets."

That evening, at the hotel, Frances told us her story, the story
of which we had guessed a good deal, but of which she had told so
little--how, after her father's death, she had gone to live with the
Crippses because, as she thought, they wished her to do so from motives
of generosity and kindness.

"They are not really relatives of mine," she said. "I am glad of that.
Mrs. Cripps married a cousin of my father's; he died and then she
married Mr. Cripps. After Father's death they wrote me a very kind
letter, or I thought it kind at the time. They said all sorts of kindly
things, they offered me a home, they said I should be like their own
daughter. So, having nowhere else to go, I went to them. I lived there
nearly two years. Oh, what a life it was! They are very churchly people,
they call themselves religious, but I don't. They pretend to be--perhaps
they think they are--good, very good. But they aren't--they aren't. They
are hard and cruel. Mr. Cripps owns several tenements where poor people
live. I have heard things from those people that--Oh, I can't tell you!
I ran away because I had learned what they really were."

Hephzy nodded. "What I can't understand," she said, "is why they offered
you a home in the first place. It was because they thought you had money
comin' to you, that's plain enough now; but how did they know?"

Frances colored. "I'm afraid--I'm afraid Father must have written them,"
she said. "He needed money very much in his later years and he may have
written them asking--asking for loans and offering my 'inheritance' as
security. I think now that that was it. But I did not think so then.
And--and, Oh, Auntie, you mustn't think too harshly of Father. He was
very good to me, he really was. And DON'T you think he believed--he had
made himself believe--that there was money of his there in America? I
can't believe he--he would lie to me."

"Of course he didn't lie," said Hephzy, promptly. I could have hugged
her for saying it. "He was sick and--and sort of out of his head, poor
man, and I don't doubt he made himself believe all sorts of things. Of
course he didn't lie--to his own daughter. But why," she added, quickly,
before Frances could ask another question, "did you go back to those
precious Cripps critters after you left Paris?"

Frances looked at me. "I thought it would please you," she said, simply.
"I knew you didn't want me to sing in public. Kent had said he would be
happier if he knew I had given up that life and was among friends. And
they--they had called themselves my friends. When I went back to them
they welcomed me. Mr. Cripps called me his 'prodigal daughter,' and
Mrs. Cripps prayed over me. It wasn't until I told them I had no
'inheritance,' except one of debt, that they began to show me what they
really were. They wouldn't believe it. They said you were trying to
defraud me. It was dreadful. I--I think I should have run away again
if--if you had not come."

"Well, we did come," said Hephzy, cheerfully, "and I thank the good Lord
for it. Now we won't talk any more about THAT."

She left us alone soon afterward, going to my room--we were in hers,
hers and Frances'--to unpack my trunk once more. She wouldn't hear of my
unpacking it. When she was gone Frances turned to me.

"You--you haven't told her," she faltered.

"No," said I, "not yet. I wanted to speak with you first. I can't
believe it is true. Or, if it is, that it is right. Oh, my dear, do you
realize what you are doing? I am--I am ever so much older than you. I am
not worthy of you. You could have made a so much better marriage."

She looked at me. She was smiling, but there was a tiny wrinkle between
her brows.

"Meaning," she said, "I suppose, that I might have married Doctor
Bayliss. I might perhaps marry him even yet, if I wished. I--I think he
would have me, if I threw myself at his head."

"Yes," I admitted, grudgingly. "Yes, he loves you, Frances."

"Kent, when we were there in Mayberry it seemed to me that my aunt and
you were almost anxious that I should marry him. It seemed to me that
you took every opportunity to throw me in his way; you refused my
invitations for golf and tennis and suggested that I play with him
instead. It used to annoy me. I resented it. I thought you were eager to
get rid of me. I did not know then the truth about Father and--and the
money. And I thought you hoped I might marry him and--and not trouble
you any more. But I think I understand now. You--you did not care for me
so much then. Was that it?"

I shook my head. "Care for you!" I repeated. "I cared for you so much
that I did not dare trust myself with you. I did not dare to think of
you, and yet I could think of no one else. I know now that I fell in
love with you when I first met you at that horrible Briggs woman's
lodging-house. Don't you see? That was the very reason why. Don't you
see?"

"No, I'm afraid I don't quite see. If you cared for me like that how
could you be willing for me to marry him? That is what puzzles me. I
don't understand it."

"It was because I did care for you. It was because I cared so much, I
wanted you to be happy. I never dreamed that you could care for an old,
staid, broken-down bookworm like me. It wasn't thinkable. I can scarcely
think it now. Oh, Frances, are you SURE you are not making a mistake?
Are you sure it isn't gratitude which makes you--"

She rose from her chair and came to me. Her eyes were wet, but there was
a light in them like the sunlight behind a summer shower.

"Don't, please don't!" she begged. "And caring for me like that you
could still come to me as you did this morning and suggest my marrying
him."

"Yes, yes, I came because--because I knew he loved you and I
thought that you might not know it. And if you did know it I
thought--perhaps--you might be happier and--"

I faltered and stopped. She was standing beside me, looking up into my
face.

"I did know it," she said. "He told me, there in Paris. And I told
him--"

"You told him--?"

"I told him that I liked him; I do, I do; he is a good man. But I told
him--" she rose on tiptoe and kissed me--"I told him that I loved you,
dear. See! here is the pin you gave me. It is the one thing I could
not leave behind when I ran away from Mayberry. I meant to keep that
always--and I always shall."

After a time we remembered Hephzy. It would be more truthful to say that
Frances remembered her. I had forgotten Hephzy altogether, I am ashamed
to say.

"Kent," she said; "don't you think we should tell Auntie now? She will
be pleased, I hope."

"Pleased! She will be--I can't think of a word to describe it. She loves
you, too, dear."

"I know. I hope she will love me more now. She worships you, Kent."

"I am afraid she does. She doesn't realize what a tinsel god I am. And
I fear you don't either. I am not a great man. I am not even a famous
author. I--Are you SURE, Frances?"

She laughed lightly. "Kent," she whispered, "what was it Doctor Bayliss
called you when you offered to promise not to follow me to Leatherhead?"

I had told her the whole story of my last interview with Bayliss at the
Continental.

"He called me a silly ass," I answered promptly. "I don't care."

"Neither do I; but don't you think you are one, just a little bit of
one, in some things? You mustn't ask me if I am sure again. Come! we
will go to Auntie."

Hephzy had finished unpacking my trunk and was standing by the closet
door, shaking the wrinkles out of my dinner coat. She heard us enter and
turned.

"I never saw clothes in such a mess in my life," she announced. "And I
packed this trunk, too. I guess the trembles in my head must have got
into my fingers when I did it. I--"

She stopped at the beginning of the sentence. I had taken Frances by the
hand and led her up to where she was standing. Hephzy said nothing, she
stood there and stared at us, but the coat fell to the floor.

"Hephzy," said I, "I've come to make an apology. I believe in dreams
and presentiments and Spiritualism and all the rest of it now. You were
right. Our pilgrimage has ended just as you declared it would. I know
now that we were 'sent' upon it. Frances has said--"

Hephzy didn't wait to hear any more. She threw her arms about
Frances' neck, then about mine, hugged us both, and then, to my utter
astonishment, sat down upon the closed trunk and burst into tears. When
we tried to comfort her she waved us away.

"Don't touch me," she commanded. "Don't say anything to me. Just let me
be. I've done all kinds of loony things in my life and this attack
is just natural, that's all. I--I'll get over it in a minute. There!"
rising and dabbing at her eyes with her handkerchief, "I'm over it now.
Hosy Knowles, I've cried about a million times since--since that awful
mornin' in Mayberry. You didn't know it, but I have. I'm through now.
I'm never goin' to cry any more. I'm goin' to laugh! I'm going to sing!
I declare if you don't grab me and hold me down I shall dance! Oh, Oh,
OH! I'm so glad! I'm so glad!"

We sat up until the early morning hours, talking and planning. We were
to go back to America as soon as we could secure passage; upon that we
all agreed in the end. I was the only one who hesitated. I had a vague
feeling of uneasiness, a dread, that Frances might not wish it, that her
saying she would love to go was merely to please me. I remembered how
she had hated America and Americans, or professed to hate them, in the
days of our first acquaintanceship. I thought of quiet, sleepy, humdrum
old Bayport and the fear that she might be disappointed when she saw it,
that she might be lonely and unhappy there, was strong. So when Hephzy
talked of our going straight to the steamship offices next day I
demurred. I suggested a Continental trip, to Switzerland, to the
Mediterranean--anywhere. I forgot that my means were limited, that I had
been idle for longer than I should have been, and that I absolutely must
work soon. I forgot everything, and talked, as Hephzy said afterward,
"regardless, like a whole kerosene oil company."

But, to my surprise, it was Frances herself who was most insistent upon
our going to America. She wanted to go, she said. Of course she did
not mean to be selfish, and if Auntie and I really wished to go to the
Continent or remain in England she would be quite content.

"But, Oh Kent," she said, "if you are suggesting all this merely because
you think I will like it, please don't. I have lived in France and I
have been very unhappy there. I have been happier here in England, but
I have been unhappy here, too. I have no friends here now. I have no
friends anywhere except you. I know you both want to see your home
again--you must. And--and your home will be mine now."

So we decided to sail for America, and that without delay. And the
next morning, before breakfast, Hephzy came to my room with another
suggestion.

"Hosy," she said, "I've been thinkin'. All our things, or most of 'em,
are at Mayberry. Somebody's got to go there, of course, to pack up and
make arrangements for our leavin'. She--Frances, I mean--would go, too,
if we asked her, I suppose likely; she'd do anything you asked, now. But
it would be awful hard for her. She'd meet all the people she used to
know there and they wouldn't understand and 'twould be hard to explain.
The Baylisses know the real truth, but the rest of 'em don't. You'd have
all that niece and uncle mess again, and I don't suppose you want any
more of THAT."

"I should say I didn't!" I exclaimed, fervently.

"Yes, that's the way it seemed to me. So she hadn't ought to go
to Mayberry. And we can't leave her here alone in London. She'd be
lonesome, for one thing, and those everlastin' Crippses might find out
where she was, for another. It may be that that Solomon and his wife
will let her go and say nothin', but I doubt it. So long as they think
she's got a cent comin' to her they'll pester her in every way they can,
I believe. That woman's nose can smell money as far as a cat can smell
fish. No, we can't leave Little Frank here alone. Of course, I might
stay with her and you might go by yourself, but--"

This way out of the difficulty had occurred to me; so when she seemed to
hesitate, I asked: "But what?"

"But it won't be very pleasant for you in Mayberry. You'd have
considerable explainin' to do. And, more'n that, Hosy, there's all that
packin' up to do and I've seen you try to pack a trunk too often before.
You're just as likely to pack a flat-iron on top of a lookin' glass as
to do the other thing. No, I'm the one to go to Mayberry. I must go by
myself and you must stay here in London with her."

"I can't do that, Hephzy," I said. "How could I?"

"You couldn't, as things are, of course. But if they were different.
If she was your wife you could. And then if that Solomon thing came you
could--"

I interrupted. "My wife!" I repeated. "Hephzy, what are you talking
about? Do you mean--"

"I mean that you and she might be married right off, to-day perhaps.
Then everything would be all right."

I stared at her.

"But--but she wouldn't consent," I stammered. "It is impossible. She
wouldn't think of such a thing."

Hephzy nodded. "Oh, yes, she would," she said. "She is thinkin' of it
now. She and I have just had a long talk. She's a sensible girl, Hosy,
and she listened to reason. If she was sure that you wanted to marry her
so soon she--"

"Wanted to!" I cried. "Hephzy!"

Hephzy nodded again. "Then that's settled," she said. "It's a big
disappointment to me, I give in. I'd set my heart on your bein' married
at our meetin'-house in Bayport, with Mr. Partridge to do the marryin',
and a weddin' reception at our house and--and everything. But I guess
this is the best, and I know it's the most sensible. But, Oh Hosy,
there's one thing I can't give up. I want you to be married at the
American Ambassador's or somewhere like it and by an American minister.
I sha'n't feel safe if it's done anywhere else and by a foreigner, even
if he's English, which don't seem foreign to me at all any more.
No, he's got to be an American and--and, Oh, Hosy! DO try to get a
Methodist."

I couldn't get a Methodist, but by consulting the hotel register I found
an American clergyman, a Congregationalist, who was a fine fellow and
consented to perform the ceremony. And, if we were not married at
the American Embassy, we were at the rooms of the London consul,
whom Matthews, at the Camford Street office, knew and who was another
splendid chap and glad to oblige a fellow-countryman, particularly after
seeing the lady he was to marry.

The consul and his wife and Hephzy were our only witnesses. Frances'
wedding gown was not new, but it was very becoming--the consul's wife
said so, and she should know. Also she said she had never seen a
sweeter or more beautiful bride. No one said anything concerning the
bridegroom's appearance, but he did not care. It was a drizzly, foggy
day, but that made no difference. A Kansas cyclone and a Bayport
no'theaster combined could not have cast a damper on that day.

When it was over, Hephzy, who had been heroically struggling to keep her
vow not to shed another tear during our pilgrimage, hugged us both.

"I--I--" she faltered, "I--I can't say it, but you know how I feel.
There's nothin' I sha'n't believe after this. I used to believe I'd
never travel, but I have. And there in Mayberry I believed I'd never
be happy again, but I am. HAPPY! hap--hap--Oh dear! WHAT a fool I am!
I ca--I can't help it! I expect I look like the most miserable thing on
earth, but that's because I AM so happy. God bless you both! Now--now
don't so much as look at me for a few minutes."

That afternoon she left for Mayberry to do the "packing up" and my wife
and I were alone--and together.

I saw London again during the next few days. We rode on the tops of
busses, we visited Kew Gardens and Hampton Court and Windsor. We took
long trips up and down the Thames on the little steamers. Frances called
them our honeymoon trips. The time flew by. Then I received a note
from Hephzy that the "packing up" was finished at last and that she was
returning to London.

It was raining hard, the morning of her arrival, and I went alone to
meet her at the railway station. I was early there and, as I was walking
up, awaiting the train, I heard someone speak my name. I turned
and there, immaculate, serene and debonair as ever, was A. Carleton
Heathcroft.

"Ah, Knowles," he said, cheerfully. "Thought it was you. Haven't seen
you of late. Missed you at Burgleston, on the course. How are you?"

I told him I was quite well, and inquired concerning his own health.

"Topping," he replied. "Rotten weather, eh--what? And how's Miss--Oh,
dear me, always forget the name! The eccentric aunt who is so intensely
patriotic and American--How is she?"

"She is well, too," I answered.

"Couldn't think of her being ill, somehow," he observed. "And where have
you been, may I ask?"

I said I had been on the Continent for a short stay.

"Oh, yes! I remember now. Someone said you had gone. That reminds me:
Did you go to Paris? Did you see the girl who sang at the Abbey--the one
I told you of, who looked so like that pretty niece of yours? Hope you
did. The resemblance was quite extraordinary. Did you see her?"

I dodged the question. I asked him what he had been doing since the day
of the golf tournament.

"I--Oh, by Jove!" he exclaimed, "now I am going to surprise you. I have
been getting ready to take the fatal step. I'm going to be married."

"Married!" I repeated. "Really? The--the Warwickshire young lady, I
presume."

"Yes. How did you know of her?"

"Your aunt--Lady Carey--mentioned that your--your affections were
somewhat engaged in that quarter."

"Did she? Really! Yes, she would mention it, I suppose. She mentions it
to everybody; it's a sort of hobby of hers, like my humble self, and the
roses. She has been more insistent of late and at last I consented to
oblige her. Do you know, Knowles, I think she was rather fearful that I
might be smitten by your Miss Morley. Shared your fears, eh?"

I smiled, but I said nothing. A train which I believed to be the one
upon which Hephzy was expected, was drawing into the station.

"A remarkably attractive girl, your niece," he went on. "Have you heard
from her?"

"Yes," I said, absently. "I must say good-by, Heathcroft. That is the
train I have been waiting for."

"Oh, is it. Then, au revoir, Knowles. By the way, kindly remember me to
your niece when you see her, will you."

"I will. But--" I could not resist the temptation; "but she isn't my
niece," I said.

"Oh, I say! What? Not your niece? What is she then?"

"She is my wife--now," I said. "Good-by, Mr. Heathcroft."

I hurried away before he could do more than gasp. I think I shook even
his serene composure at last.

I told Hephzy about it as we rode to the hotel in the cab.

"It was silly, I suppose," I said. "I told him on the spur of the
moment. I imagine all Mayberry, not to mention Burgleston Bogs, will
have something to talk about now. They expect almost anything of
Americans, or some of them do, but the marriage of an uncle and niece
ought to be a surprise, I should think."

Hephzy laughed. "The Baylisses will explain," she said. "I told the old
doctor and his wife all about it. They were very much pleased, that was
plain enough. They knew she wasn't your niece and they'll tell the other
folks. That'll be all right, Hosy. Yes, Doctor and Mrs. Bayliss were
tickled almost to death. It stops all their worry about their son and
Frances, of course. He is in Switzerland now, poor chap. They'll write
him and he'll come home again by and by where he ought to be. And he'll
forget by and by, too. He's only a boy and he'll forget. So THAT'S all
right.

"Everybody sent their love to you," she went on. "The curates and the
Samsons and everybody. Mr. Cole and his wife are comin' back next week
and the servants'll take care of the rectory till they come. Everybody
was so glad to see me, and they're goin' to write and everything. I
declare! I felt real bad to leave 'em. They're SUCH nice people, these
English folks. Aren't they, Hosy."

They were and are. I hope that some day I may have, in my own country,
the opportunity to repay a little of the hospitality and kindness that
my Mayberry friends bestowed on me in theirs.

We sailed for home two days later. A pleasant voyage it was, on a good
ship and with agreeable fellow-passengers. And, at last, one bright,
cloudless morning, a stiff breeze blowing and the green and white
waves leaping and tossing in the sunlight, we saw ahead of us a little
speck--the South Shoal lightship. Everyone crowded to the rail, of
course. Hephzy sighed, a sigh of pure happiness.

"Nantucket!" she said, reading the big letters on the side of the little
vessel. "Nantucket! Don't that sound like home, Hosy! Nantucket and
Cape Cod are next-door neighbors, as you might say! My! the air seems
different already. I believe I can almost smell the Bayport flats. Do
you know what I am goin' to do as soon as I get into my kitchen? After
I've seen some of my neighbors and the cat and the hens, of course. I'm
going to make a clam chowder. I've been just dyin' for a clam chowder
ever since we left England."

And the next morning we landed at New York. Jim Campbell was at the
wharf to meet us. His handshake was a welcome home which was good to
feel. He welcomed Hephzy just as heartily. But I saw him looking
at Frances with curiosity and I flattered myself, admiration, and I
chuckled as I thought of the surprise which I was about to give him.
It would be a surprise, sure enough. I had written him nothing of the
recent wonderful happenings in Paris and in London, and I had sworn
Matthews to secrecy likewise. No, he did not know, he did not suspect,
and I gloried in the opportunity which was mine.

"Jim," I said, "there is one member of our party whom you have not met.
Frances, you have heard me speak of Mr. Campbell very often. Here he is.
Jim, I have the pleasure of presenting you to Mrs. Knowles, my wife."

Jim stood the shock remarkably well, considering. He gave me one glance,
a glance which expressed a portion of his feelings, and then he and
Frances shook hands.

"Mrs. Knowles," he said, "I--you'll excuse my apparent lack of
intellect, but--but this husband of yours has--I've known him a good
while and I thought I had lost all capacity for surprise at anything
he might do, but--but I hadn't. I--I--Please don't mind me; I'm really
quite sane at times. I am very, very glad. May we shake hands again?"

He insisted upon our breakfasting with him at a near-by hotel. When he
and I were alone together he seized my arm.

"Confound you!" he exclaimed. "You old chump! What do you mean by
springing this thing on me without a word of warning? I never was as
nearly knocked out in my life. What do you mean by it?"

I laughed. "It is all part of your prescription," I said. "You told me I
should marry, you know. Do you approve of my selection?"

"Approve of it! Why, man, she's--she's wonderful. Approve of YOUR
selection! How about hers? You durned quahaug! How did you do it?"

I gave him a condensed and hurried resume of the whole story. He did
not interrupt once--a perfectly amazing feat for him--and when I had
finished he shook his head.

"It's no use," he said. "I'm too good for the business I am in. I am
wasting my talents. _I_ sent you over there. _I_ told you to go. _I_
prescribed travel and a wife and all the rest. _I_ did it. I'm going to
quit the publishing game. I'm going to set up as a specialist, a brain
specialist, for clams. And I'll use your face as a testimonial: 'Kent
Knowles, Quahaug. Before and After Taking.' Man, you look ten years
younger than you did when you went away."

"You must not take all the credit," I told him. "You forget Hephzy and
her dreams, the dream she told us about that day at Bayport. That dream
has come true; do you realize it?"

He nodded. "I admit it," he said. "She is a better specialist than I.
I shall have to take her into partnership. 'Campbell and Cahoon.
Prescribers and Predictors. Authors Made Human.' I'll speak to her about
it."

As he said good-by to us at the Grand Central Station he asked me
another question.

"Kent," he whispered, "what are you going to do now? What are you going
to do with her? Are you and she going back to Bayport to be Mr. and Mrs.
Quahaug? Is that your idea?"

I shook my head. "We're going back to Bayport," I said, "but how long
we shall stay there I don't know. One thing you may be sure of, Jim; I
shall be a quahaug no more."

He nodded. "I think you're right," he declared. "She'll see to that, or
I miss my guess. No, my boy, your quahaug days are over. There's nothing
of the shellfish about her; she's a live woman, as well as a mighty
pretty one, and she cares enough about you to keep you awake and in the
game. I congratulate you, Kent, and I'm almost as happy as you are. Also
I shall play the optimist at our next directors' meeting; I see signs
of a boom in the literature factory. Go to it, my son. You have my
blessing."

We took the one o'clock train for Boston, remained there over night, and
left on the early morning "accommodation"--so called, I think, because
it accommodates the train hands--for Cape Cod. As we neared Buzzard's
Bay my spirits, which had been at topnotch, began to sink. When the sand
dunes of Barnstable harbor hove in sight they sank lower and lower.
It was October, the summer people, most of them, had gone, the station
platforms were almost deserted, the more pretentious cottages were
closed. The Cape looked bare and brown and wind-swept. I thought of
the English fields and hedges, of the verdant beauty of the Mayberry
pastures. What SORT of a place would she think this, the home to which I
was bringing her?

She had been very much excited and very much interested. New York,
with its sky-scrapers and trolleys, its electric signs and clean white
buildings, the latter so different from the grimy, gray dwellings and
shops of London, had been a wonderland to her. She had liked the Pullman
and the dining-car and the Boston hotel. But this, this was different.
How would she like sleepy, old Bayport and the people of Bayport.

Well, I should soon know. Even the morning "accommodation" reaches
Bayport some time or other. We were the only passengers to alight at the
station, and Elmer Snow, the station agent, and Gabe Lumley, who drives
the depot wagon, were the only ones to welcome us. Their welcome was
hearty enough, I admit. Gabe would have asked a hundred questions if I
had answered the first of the hundred, but he seemed strangely reluctant
to answer those I asked him.

Bayport was gettin' along first-rate, he told me. Tad Simpson's youngest
child had diphtheria, but was sittin' up now and the fish weirs had
caught consider'ble mackerel that summer. So much he was willing to say,
but he said little more. I asked how the house and garden were looking
and he cal'lated they were all right. Pumping Gabe Lumley was a new
experience for me. Ordinarily he doesn't need pumping. I could not
understand it. I saw Hephzy and he in consultation on the station
platform and I wondered if she had been able to get more news than I.

We rattled along the main road, up the hill by the Whittaker place--I
looked eagerly for a glimpse of Captain Cy himself, but I didn't see
him--and on until we reached our gate. Frances said very little during
our progress through the village. I did not dare speak to her; I was
afraid of asking her how she liked what she had seen of Bayport. And
Hephzy, too, was silent, although she kept her head out of the window
most of the time.

But when the depot wagon entered the big gate and stopped before the
side door I felt that I must say something. I must not appear fearful or
uneasy.

"Here we are!" I cried, springing out and helping her and Hephzy to
alight. "Here we are at last. This is home, dear."

And then the door opened and I saw that the dining-room was filled
with people, people whom I had known all my life. Mr. Partridge, the
minister, was there, and his wife, and Captain Whittaker and his wife,
and the Dimicks and the Salterses and more. Before I could recover from
my surprise Mr. Partridge stepped forward.

"Mr. Knowles," he said, "on this happy occasion it is our privilege
to--"

But Captain Cy interrupted him.

"Good Lord!" he exclaimed, "don't make a speech to him now, Mr.
Partridge. Welcome home, Kent! We're all mighty glad to see you back
again safe and sound. And Hephzy, too. By the big dipper, Hephzy, the
sight of you is good for sore eyes! And I suppose this is your wife,
Kent. Well, we--Hey! I might have known Phoebe would get ahead of me."

For Mrs. Whittaker and Frances were shaking hands. Others were
crowding forward to do so. And the table was set and there were flowers
everywhere and, in the background, was Susanna Wixon, grinning from ear
to ear, with the cat--our cat--who seemed the least happy of the party,
in her arms.

Hephzy had written Mrs. Whittaker from London, telling her of my
marriage; she had telegraphed from New York the day before, announcing
the hour of our return. And this was the result.

When it was all over and they had gone--they would not remain for
dinner, although we begged them to do so--when they had gone and Hephzy
had fled to the yard to inspect the hens, I turned to my wife.

"Frances," I said, "this is home. Here is where Hephzy and I have lived
for so long. I--I hope you may be happy here. It is a rather crude
place, but--"

She came to me and put her arms about my neck.

"Don't, my dear, don't!" she said. "It is beautiful. It is home.
And--and you know I have never had a home, a real home before."

"Then you like it?" I cried. "You really like it? It is so different
from England. The people--"

"They are dear, kind people. And they like you and respect you, Kent.
How could you say they didn't! I know I shall love them all."

I made a dash for the kitchen. "Hephzy!" I shouted. "Hephzy! She does
like it. She likes Bayport and the people and everything."

Hephzy was just entering at the back door. She did not seem in the least
surprised.

"Of course she likes it," she said, with decision. "How could anybody
help likin' Bayport?"



CHAPTER XIX

Which Treats of Quahaugs in General


Asaph Tidditt helped me to begin this long chronicle of a quahaug's
pilgrimage. Perhaps it is fitting that Asaph should end it. He dropped
in for a call the other afternoon and, as I had finished my day's
"stunt" at the desk, I assisted in entertaining him. Frances was in the
sitting-room also and Hephzy joined us soon afterward. Mr. Tidditt had
stopped at the post-office on his way down and he had the Boston morning
paper in his hand. Of course he was filled to the brim with war news. We
discuss little else in Bayport now; even the new baby at the parsonage
has to play second fiddle.

"My godfreys!" exclaimed Asaph, as soon as he sat down in the rocking
chair and put his cap on the floor beneath it. "My godfreys, but they're
havin' awful times over across, now ain't they. Killin' and fightin' and
battlin' and slaughterin'! It don't seem human to me somehow."

"It is human, I'm afraid," I said, with a sigh. "Altogether too human.
We're a poor lot, we, humans, after all. We pride ourselves on our
civilization, but after all, it takes very little to send us back to
savagery."

"That's so," said Asaph, with conviction. "That's true about everybody
but us folks in the United States. We are awful fortunate, we are. We
ain't savages. We was born in a free country, and we've been brought up
right, I declare! I beg your pardon, Mrs. Knowles; I forgot you wasn't
born in Bayport."

Frances smiled. "No apology is needed, Mr. Tidditt," she said. "I
confess to having been born a--savage."

"But you're all right now," said Asaph, hastily, trying to cover his
slip. "You're all right now. You're just as American as the rest of us.
Kent, suppose this war in Europe is goin' to hurt your trade any? It's
goin' to hurt a good many folks's. They tell me groceries and such like
is goin' way up. Lucky we've got fish and clams to depend on. Clams
and quahaugs'll keep us from starvin' for a spell. Oh," with a chuckle,
"speakin' of quahaugs reminds me. Did you know they used to call your
husband a quahaug, Mrs. Knowles? That's what they used to call him round
here--'The Quahaug.' They called him that 'count of his keepin' inside
his shell all the time and not mixin' with folks, not toadyin' up to the
summer crowd and all. I always respected him for it. _I_ don't toady to
nobody neither."

Hephzy had come in by this time and now she took a part in the
conversation.

"They don't call him 'The Quahaug' any more," she declared, indignantly.
"He's been out of his shell more and seen more than most of the folks in
this town."

"I know it; I know it. And he's kept goin' ever since. Runnin' to
New York, he and you," with a nod toward Frances, "and travelin' to
Washin'ton and Niagary Falls and all. Wonder to me how he does as much
writin' as he does. That last book of yours is sellin' first-rate, they
tell me, Kent."

He referred to the novel I began in Mayberry. I have rewritten and
finished it since, and it has had a surprising sale. The critics seem to
think I have achieved my first genuine success.

"What are you writin' now?" asked Asaph. "More of them yarns about
pirates and such? Land sakes! when I go by this house nights and see a
light in your library window there, Kent, and know you're pluggin' along
amongst all them adventures, I wonder how you can stand it. 'Twould give
me the shivers. Godfreys! the last time I read one of them yarns--that
about the 'Black Brig' 'twas--I hardly dast to go to bed. And I DIDN'T
dast to put out the light. I see a pirate in every corner, grittin' his
teeth. Writin' another of that kind, are you?"

"No," I said; "this one is quite different. You will have no trouble in
sleeping over this one, Ase."

"That's a comfort. Got a little Bayport in it? Seems to me you ought to
put a little Bayport in, for a change."

I smiled. "There is a little in this," I answered. "A little at the
beginning, and, perhaps, at the end."

"You don't say! You ain't got me in it, have you? I'd--I'd look kind of
funny in a book, wouldn't I?"

I laughed, but I did not answer.

"Not that I ain't seen things in my life," went on Asaph, hopefully. "A
man can't be town clerk in a live town like this and not see things. But
I hope you won't put any more foreigners in. This we're readin' now,"
rapping the newspaper with his knuckles, "gives us all we want to know
about foreigners. Just savages, they be, as you say, and nothin' more. I
pity 'em."

I laughed again.

"Asaph," said I, "what would you say if I told you that the English and
French--yes, and the Germans, too, though I haven't seen them at home as
I have the others--were no more savages than we are?"

"I'd say you was crazy," was the prompt answer.

"Well, I'm not. And you're not very complimentary. You're forgetting
again. You forget that I married one of those savages."

Asaph was taken aback, but he recovered promptly, as he had before.

"She ain't any savage," he announced. "Her mother was born right here in
Bayport. And she knows, just as I do, that Bayport's the best place in
the world; don't you, Mrs. Knowles?"

"Yes," said Frances, "I am sure of it, Mr. Tidditt."

So Asaph went away triumphantly happy. After he had gone I apologized
for him.

"He's a fair sample," I said. "He is a quahaug, although he doesn't know
it. He is a certain type, an exaggerated type, of American."

Frances smiled. "He's not much worse than I used to be," she said. "I
used to call America an uncivilized country, you remember. I suppose
I--and Mr. Heathcroft--were exaggerated types of a certain kind of
English. We were English quahaugs, weren't we?"

Hephzy nodded. "We're all quahaugs," she declared. "Most of us, anyhow.
That's the trouble with all the folks of all the nations; they stay in
their shells and they don't try to know and understand their neighbors.
Kent, you used to be a quahaug--a different kind of one--but that kind,
too. I was a quahaug afore I lived in Mayberry. That's who makes wars
like this dreadful one--quahaugs. We know better now--you and Frances
and I. We've found out that, down underneath, there's precious little
difference. Humans are humans."

She paused and then, as a final summing up, added:

"I guess that's it: American or German or French or anything--nice folks
are nice folks anywhere."


THE END





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