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Title: Jewel Weed
Author: Winter, Alice Ames, 1865-1944
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jewel Weed" ***

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Author of "The Prize to the Hardy"

With Illustrations by Harrison Fisher

[Illustration: "Surely you must have read it long ago"--Page 360]

Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers New York

Copyright 1906
The Bobbs-Merrill Company

                          MY FATHER AND MOTHER
                      CHARLES G. AND FANNY B. AMES


   CHAPTER                                                PAGE

         I  A Light from the Far East                        1
        II  Mother and Son                                  28
       III  An Occidental Luminary                          41
        IV  At Madeline's                                   54
         V  Salad Days                                      77
        VI  Jewel Weed                                      99
       VII  Lena's Progress                                116
      VIII  The Falls                                      132
        IX  An Invitation                                  152
         X  Bitter-Sweet                                   173
        XI  Politics and Play                              194
       XII  An Engagement                                  210
      XIII  An Awakening                                   222
       XIV  The Return of Ram Juna                         242
        XV  The Honeymoon                                  269
       XVI  Lena's Friends                                 298
      XVII  Grape-Shot                                     324
     XVIII  Easter                                         344
       XIX  Oriental Rubies                                365
        XX  A Light from the East Goes Out                 391
       XXI  A Light in the West Goes Down                  401
      XXII  Another Beginning                              424




In the mists of the infinite, events poise invisible, awaiting their
opportunity to incarnate themselves. They fasten, each after his kind,
on these human lives of ours, as germs find the culture soil they love;
so it follows that to the commonplace comes a life of dull routine,
foolish happenings seek out the sentimentalist, sordid events seek the
sordid and on the mystic dawns the mysterious. Calamities wait there,
too, until Fate points out a weak spot in character on which they may
pounce relentless with the temptation that pierces it. As there are
certain things that would scarcely dare to happen to certain people, so
other greater events would hardly condescend to those whom they
recognize as being their own inferiors.

Once in a while, particularly when a man is young or beginning a new
phase of life, there come times when the things that are to be seem
almost tangible. They press until he feels them crowd, while he waits
with tense expectation for them to become visible to the crude eye of
outer experience.

Perhaps it was due to a certain occultism in the atmosphere that Ellery
Norris felt this pressure of the future on the afternoon of Mr. Early's
reception to Ram Juna. Norris was a new young man in a new young city,
and he had come West to live. However short and futile life may look to
the old, it appears a big and long thing to twenty-three. Here in St.
Etienne he was to work and work hard; among these people, now all
strangers, he was to find the friends of his lifetime; here were to come
all the experiences of struggle, failure, success, perhaps of love.

He turned and glanced with a little sense of relief at Richard Percival
seated beside him. Dick was the one stanch thing out of his past; Dick
he had known and loved at college; Dick was even now showing himself a
friend; and all these other folk were but the ghosts of things to come.
Then he laughed lightly at himself for his own fantasy, and returned to
the survey of his surroundings.

The vast new hall in which they sat, a hall young in years but old
Gothic in pretense, might have suggested a possessor of the stately and
knightly type rather than a little cockatoo like Mr. Early; but man has
this advantage over the snail, that, whereas, the snail is obliged to
construct a home around its slimy little body, man may build his
habitation to match his imagination and ambition. In the West, moreover,
it is the custom to leave the low-vaulted past and build more stately
mansions as fast as the increasing purse will permit.

The great room was cool, even on a glowing summer day. Its heavy walls
shut out the heat and its narrow windows gave but a creeping light which
lost itself in the vaulted spaces above. It was archaic in a modern
fashion, too archaic to be quite convincing when combined with
present-day ornaments and luxuries, too splendid to belong to any one
except Mr. Early, and yet, withal, a satisfying place, dim and fragrant
on this July afternoon. The pale summery gowns of the women and the
sprinkling of dark coats of the few men present modified its

To-day Mr. Early surely had reason to congratulate himself on his
amplitude of space, for if ever a big background was needed, it was when
the public had come in its hundreds to look upon the huge Hindu who
stood beside the host, dwarfing him as well as the throng in front.
Swami Ram Juna overtopped them all in inches, as in serenity.

Mr. Early, whose physique was of the Napoleonic order, just as much body
as was necessary to incase a mighty soul, had, in spite of his few
inches, an air of distinction which demanded and received attention. Ram
Juna, on the other hand, betrayed no expectation of adulation. Rather
was he utterly oblivious of it. Over the heads of those to whom he had
been speaking his far-seeing eyes gazed into that nothingness which is
popularly supposed to be full of spiritual significance. He was
oblivious of the earth.

Here, then, before the group of guests, in fine contrast, like a
tropical bird caught among thrushes, stood this big bronze creature,
magnificently gowned in a long flame-colored garment touched upon its
borders with strange embroideries and girdled about its ample waist
with a wide sash of dull oriental red. The polished face was set off by
a turban of snowy white, in whose center blazed, like a bloodshot eye, a
single enormous ruby. Everything about Ram Juna was superlative--his
size, his raiment, his rapt gaze, his doctrine.

But after all, though the Hindu occupied the position of honor in the
social stage, Norris found it hard to keep his attention fixed on that
bird of paradise, who, at best, was sure to be but a temporary interest
in these western states of America, where facts, not theories, loom
large. The new young man's eyes wandered to the audience, made up of
people like himself. The unknown catches us for an instant, but our own
kind are perennially absorbing. Since he and Dick were perched on a deep
window-sill, which brought them at right angles to the row of chairs, he
began to study the faces on this side and that.

A little in front of them a woman of thirty or more, exquisitely dressed
in summer white, pretty and complacent, leaned back in her chair.
Happening to catch Percival's eye he looked inquiry.

"Mrs. Appleton," whispered that young man, and lifted his eyebrows as
if to express astonished admiration, then made a wry face. Norris smiled
his understanding and glanced back at the self-satisfied prosperity
beneath her filmy hat. Then, suddenly, at the far end of the room,
another face caught him--a profile of a girl's head, outlined against a
high bench-back, her dreamy eyes fixed on the speaker. It was a
cameo-like face, not animated, but delicate and finely lined. Norris
knew her in a flash. This was the girl whose photograph had stood on
Dick's mantel at college and of whom Dick had sometimes spoken in those
rare intimate hours when he talked of his mother or of his purposes in
life. Ellery forgot the rest of the room and watched her until a sudden
forward lunge of Mrs. Appleton's hat shut her off, and brought him back
to consciousness of the place and the supposed interests of the day. He
turned back with a sigh to Ram Juna, telling himself with some amusement
that other minds than his own were wandering far afield, and that the
attitude of polite interest came as much from the conviction that
Esoteric Buddhism was "the thing," as from any real absorption.

Already the Hindu had been talking to them for an hour. His speech had
that precision and purity both of word and of enunciation by which a
foreigner, trained in our classics, often shames our slovenly every-day
English. He spoke, not as one who wishes to convert others to his own
point of view, but, rather, as though unconscious of their presence, he
poured out the fullness of his meditations in self-communion. The
upward-turned eyes were half closed. Occasionally there was a flicker of
the eyelids or a touch of scorn when he contrasted the eastern ideal of
eternal repose with the western reality of endless struggle. Then for a
moment he seemed to realize the presence of his auditors, ashamed now of
their telephones, their public schools and even of their philanthropies,
in the face of this supreme contempt for the things that fade.

Suddenly he opened wide his great eyes.

"And you," he said, "you, with your guns, your armies and your
ignorances, you think to rule us. Well, so be it! We grant to you
dominion as a man gives to a child the sticks and straws for which it
loudly clamors in its petty plays. But our treasures are the higher
thoughts which alone are worthy of the man. These we reserve."

The great oriental ruby above his forehead seemed to burn more
brilliantly than ever as if to shame the frivolous occidental jewels
that twinkled before it.

"Yes," he went on, "these gems we do not submit to force. They are not
to be ravished by blood and iron. Yet even these, our sacred treasures,
we gladly share with those who, in humility and in the life of
meditation, seek with us the universal truths. And truth, what is it? It
eludes the scalpel of reason. It is the master and not the servant of
logic. The only truths worthy to be known are those which are to be
experienced by the soul in her hours of solitude. Then does she cease to
think. Then does she cease to reason. Then does she know."

He was dogmatic and they fell under his sway. A hush deeper than silence
lay upon his audience as the Swami stood for a moment as though lost in
himself. Recalling his surroundings he spoke again.

"My friends in this land, who are coming to understand with us, and we
are not numerous even in India--the land of inspiration--my friends,
whom you call by some long name which I have forgotten, ask me to tell
you a little of what we know concerning the order of the universe. I
will unfold." As though giving instruction in elementary arithmetic,
Swami Ram Juna began to sketch the adventures of the soul as it flies
from one existence to another. His words were vivid and definite.

At this point Dick Percival's lips began to move with the cynical
amusement of youth.

"Pretty positive, isn't he, about the things no mortal knows?" he
whispered to Norris.

Softly spoken though the words were, Ram Juna instantly fixed his eyes
upon the guilty youth. It was a habit of the Hindu to hear everything
that rose above the sound of a thought.

"You think I speak of mysteries!" he demanded, suddenly breaking his
discourse and leaning like a pine tree toward Percival. "You think that
in a closet some one weaves a fantastic theory of life and lives. But
no! What have I told you? What I speak, that has my soul known, as has
many another soul. I tell of astral bodies. I have acquaintance with
them as have you with the body of the young friend who sits beside you.
I could show you--even you, whose eyes are covered with a film--I could
show you! But no! It is too petty to demonstrate by a show."

He moved a step backward and looked in a half-questioning way at the
silent group in front.

"Perhaps," he murmured hesitatingly, "perhaps it is by childish methods
that one must teach the child."

He muttered a few unknown words with his eyes still fixed on guilty Dick
Percival, then he turned to Mr. Early.

"My kind host," he said with a courteous gesture, "will you permit that
I show to the unbelieving young gentleman an astral body?"

He turned and strode away toward dimness dimmer than that of the great
hall, in the direction of that wing where rooms had been assigned him. A
little rustle of pleased anticipation ran through the petticoats of the
room. Interest ceased to be perfunctory and became genuine. This was
more fun than doctrine, after all. Who wouldn't be gratified at the
chance of meeting an astral body--at least in a crowd? Alone, in a dark
room, at midnight, it might prove less enjoyable.

Presently the Hindu returned, carrying in his hand a strangely twisted
retort and something that looked like a primitive brazier.

"Look," he said, "let us take some simple thing. I shall destroy the
body of flesh and show you the body of shadow. I see roses in the
strange jar yonder. You call them American beauties? Yes. Very well, I
shall show you the ghost of an American beauty. Perhaps the unbelieving
young gentleman will pluck one for me."

Dick rose, pulled one of the flowers from among its fellows and handed
it across heads to the Swami, who took it gravely.

"Even this simple form of life," he explained, "has its astral
existence. With seeing eyes it would be visible to you now, hidden
inside the flesh of the flower. In order to make it the plainer, I shall
destroy the body of the blossom and leave its spirit. That spirit you
shall see. Look, I lay this beautiful rose upon this metal plate and
cover it that the heat may be more intense. I consume it with the flame
until the fire devours its shape and leaves only its ashes."

A tense silence fell upon the waiting room, as Ram Juna thrust the
covered rose into the brazier. At last he lifted the cover and displayed
a little gray shapeless heap.

"The rose is dead," he observed quietly. He turned now toward the glass
phial, in the bottom of which lay a few grains of pinkish dust. Into
this he poured the ashes of the burned flower. He lifted it high in air
and surveyed it.

"The rose is dead," he repeated, "but under the right conditions you
shall see what we may call its ghost. See. A gentle warmth. I hold it
not too close to the devouring flame. A gentle warmth."

Those at the back of the room were rising now to peer over the hats of
the more fortunate in front, but the hush remained unbroken. The dark
eyes of the Hindu were bent on the glass before him, and a mystical
smile played about his mouth.

In the bottom of the retort, in the bluish heap, began a movement, as
though something alive were striving to free itself from bonds and rise.
It heaved and struggled in the dusty mass, grew stronger, and instead of
a shapeless writhing there came an upshooting pyramid, which gradually
took upon itself form. A ghostly apparition of stem, of leaves, of a
dusky red rose, grew more and more distinct until it glowed from its
prison of glass, and Ram Juna smiled.

"The rose is dead!" he said for the third time.

A gasp of appreciation and awe passed through the room. The Swami
turned to Dick Percival.

"That which I know, I speak," he said simply.

Then with a sudden abrupt movement he shook the phial away from the
warmth and held it up.

"Now only the poor body of ashes is within," he went on. "The spirit is
truly fled, until it shall find itself another incarnation, and we say
that the flower is for ever dead. What then is this death with which we
play and which plays with us? But I weary you with my too long
discourse. Give me your pardon. I shall no more."

There rose the sound of moving skirts and loosening tongues. The spell
of oriental mysticism was broken and this became but one of many
entertaining things to be chattered about in moods that varied from
credulity to amusement. The ordinary reception atmosphere took
possession, and the tinkle of animated feminine voices filled the air.

On the outskirts of the throng, which pressed forward to greet the host
and to press the fingers of the seer, lingered the two young men, one of
whom had stirred the unstirable. Norris looked vaguely around as at
unknown faces, and Dick nodded in this or that direction in that offhand
manner which invites people to keep their distance rather than to seek
further intercourse, but the woman who was handsome and thirty refused
to be held at arm's length.

"How-do, Mr. Percival? Glad to see you back. You have the genius of
distinction, even in small things. How natural that the Swami should
single you out for notice and so announce your home-coming to the

"Is this the world?"

"Our little world," Mrs. Appleton laughed; and as she spoke she peered
curiously at Norris with the air of a naturalist who needs as many
specimens of young men as possible for her collection. Dick smiled,
whether with amusement or with cordiality it would be impossible to say.

"Mrs. Appleton, may I introduce Mr. Norris, who has come here as a new
citizen. Apart from other considerations, we are grateful to anybody
that swells the census, aren't we?"

"So glad!" she murmured. "Mr. Percival must bring you to my lawn-party
next week."

But even while Norris expressed his thanks, Dick's eyes wandered, until,
with a cheerful start, he caught his companion's arm.

"There she is, Ellery," he said. "This way."

Norris knew in his heart that he was waiting for that summons, and he
turned and followed as Percival began a slow progress through the crowd
toward that uncompromising stiff-lined bench of the kind that Mr. Early
affected, where sat the girl like a cameo, beside a woman somewhat older
than herself.

The younger woman lifted her eyes and caught from afar the greeting of
the advancing men. That there should be no sudden illumination, no swift
blush in her nod of recognition, gave Dick a slight feeling of
irritation. He had regarded a little polite display of delight as in
some way his right. But if she was undemonstrative, she had the virtues
of her failing, for there was a certain serenity even in the broad curve
with which her hair clung to her temples, and in the over-crowded room
her smile was as refreshing as a draft from a cool spring. Both of these
women were marked by a repose of manner which distinguished them from
the eager crowd that was pushing toward the latest new apostle. It was
the elder who put out a welcoming hand.

"Ah, Dick," she said, "you are at home at last. How good it is to see
you! When did you come?"

"Last night. Mother sent me over here to-day with the promise that I
should see you--and Madeline." His eyes traveled to the girl beyond.
"And this, Mrs. Lenox, Miss Elton, is my good friend, Norris. You
already know that we were lovely together in college, and in life we
hope not to be divided. You'll be good to him, won't you?"

In Mrs. Lenox's greeting there was that mixture of kindliness with
shrewd instant analysis that becomes a habit with women of the world,
and Norris stiffened with fresh realization that he was raw and
unaccustomed to her suave atmosphere. He would have liked to be his best
self before Percival's friends, and he felt like an oyster. Even the
gentle eyes of Miss Elton seemed to measure him. Fortunately they
thought chiefly of Dick, and when did Dick's facile tongue fail him?

"Of course this would be the first spot on which to reappear. No one but
Mr. Early would dare to give a reception in July," Mrs. Lenox

"And the absurd thing," Dick retorted, "is that you all come--back into
town, leaving birds and waters--at Mr. Early's bidding."

"Yes, my respect for my sex rises when I see them so eager to prostrate
themselves before a simple seeker after truth with a turban and a ruby.
A turban and a ruby do so illuminate the search for truth!"

"You are a scoffer," laughed Dick. "Why are you here?"

"Foolish one, I came to scoff. I must see all there is to be seen. If
there is an apple to be bitten, I must bite. I have floated in with the
flood and out with the ebb of almost every fad from crystal-gazing to
bridge. I always hope that one of them is going to be worth while."

"But you can't call the Swami's philosophy 'a fad'," objected Norris.

"No, perhaps that wasn't fair. Ram Juna is really very celestial in a
ponderous kind of way, isn't he? When he talked the simple old truths I
liked him, but not in the esoteric explanations and profounder
mysteries. I have chased Mystery for more years than I shall own, and,
so far as I can see, whenever you open the door on her secret chamber,
she shuts a door on the other side and is gone into a further holy of
holies. I've come to disbelieve in those who tell me that they have
caged her at last."

"That's what I say," exclaimed Dick. "A man knows too much when he tells
you that Mystery is five feet three, weighs a hundred and twenty-six
pounds and eats no meat."

"It's too much like a mixture of legerdemain and theology."

"I always liked juggling!" exclaimed Miss Elton. "And I like the ruby.
See it now, gleaming over the ranks of war-paint and hats."

"I believe the ruby interests you both more than the search for truth,"
Dick laughed.

"And well it may!" Mrs. Lenox flashed back. "Once it belonged to a
magnificent rajah ancestor, who hugged it to his soul, and held it too
precious to be worn by his favorite wife. But now Swami Ram Juna has
renounced the pomps and indulgences of courts and become, as I said, an
humble seeker. He, too, loves the ruby--not from any vulgar love of
display--but because to his soul it is a mystic symbol of Adhidaiva--the
life-giving energy, refulgent as the sun behind dark clouds. Isn't that
a pointer for those of us who want diamonds and things? I believe I'll
ask Mr. Lenox for a symbol or two this very evening."

"You seem well-informed."

"Oh, Mr. Early posted me. It's humiliating to think that perhaps he
designed that as an easy way of getting the facts spread abroad and so
preparing a way for the truth-seeker. And he also told me that they have
very good copies of the _Bagavad Gita_ at McClelland's for a quarter, so
you may keep up with the advance guard at small expense. I have to know
things in order to keep my husband posted with entertaining gossip. Men
always want to know every little thing and then lay the blame of gossip
at the door of women."

"I doubt if it is a difficult task for you to keep Mr. Lenox amused,"
said Norris, smiling at her.

"Moreover," added Percival, "I understand that when your frivolities
cease to amuse, Mr. Lenox can divert himself by helping your father in
the building of a new little railroad or something of that kind."

"True, but building new railroads, beguiling though it be, proves more
wearing to the nerves than does my conversation, so I must still
practise the art of rattling. But I needn't practise it on you," she
went on, glancing at Miss Elton under her eyelids. "Now, Dick, I am
going to give you my very uncomfortable seat on this bench and let you
and Madeline talk over old times, and new times which are to be still
better. Perhaps Mr. Norris will go about with me and meet some of the
people--beard the western prairie-dog in his den, so to speak."

"Now that is really good of you, Mrs. Lenox. You know this is the first
time Madeline and I have come together since we got through college and
have been recognized as grown up. In fact, I'm not used to her in long
dresses yet."

He glanced at the smiling girl as Mrs. Lenox nodded and turned.

"How lovely Miss Elton is!" exclaimed Norris as they moved away
together. "Of course I've seen her picture in Dick's room, but it did
not do her justice."

"Lovely, indeed!" Mrs. Lenox answered heartily. "You have chosen the one
word to be applied to Madeline Elton, both to her spirit and to her
face--not thrilling, perhaps, but satisfying, which is better. She and
Dick were inseparables through their childhood. It is rather a
taken-for-granted affair, you know."

"I guessed as much, though Dick never said anything."

There was something so confidential and kindly in her manner that Norris
forgot his awkwardness and felt moved to confidence in return.

"Dick was born to all good things," he went on. "I sometimes wonder how
that feels." Then, seeing that she glanced at him inquiringly: "Dick
always seems to me one who needs only to stand still, and Fortuna takes
pains to hunt him up and offer him her choicest wares. Life looks to him
more like a birthday party than like a battle-field. I say it not in
envy, but with the awe of one who has had to scrabble and who sees
endless scrabbling ahead. But I believe part of the charm that I feel
about Dick is his manifest predestination to good luck."

"One piece of his luck, if I am not mistaken, is in your coming here.
There is no friend like a college friend for every-day wear," she
answered kindly.

"Well, I owe my position here to him," Norris went on. "When he found
that I had an uncle back in Connecticut who owned a share in the _St.
Etienne Star_, he began to pull wires both at that end and this to get
me a place on the editorial staff. I'm afraid that nothing but wires
would have got it for me. So here I am making my first bow to society
under the shadow of his cloak."

"Of course you came here."

"What, really, is Mr. Early?"

"Apostle, expounder of the universe, business man, prophet."

Norris laughed.

"He's our display window. The way in which he manages to keep a little
lion always roaring on the bargain-table astonishes us all every day.
And when he runs short of foreign lions he roars a bit himself.
Privately, I think he's more entertaining than the imported article. St.
Etienne would be merely a western city without him.

"Now," she went on, "I'm going to introduce you to some other girls. To
me, as to Dick, Miss Elton may be the bright particular star, but she is
not the only light."

So Miss Elton and Percival were left alone in the crowd.

"Madeline," said the young man, "does this getting through college make
you feel as though you had suddenly had your cellars taken away and
your attics left foundationless in space? The question is 'what next?'
That's what I used to ask you in the good old days when we played
mumbly-peg together. What shall we play now?"

"I know what I shall play. There is home, with mother enraptured to have
me at her beck and call again; and, of course, there are musical and
social 'does'. They are going to be such fun that I do not know if I
shall have room to tuck in a little study. But I suppose you must have a
harder game. Yes, you must."

"And are you so contented with the dead level? I fancied you were going
to be ambitious."

She turned her head and looked out through the narrow mullioned window
beside her as though to avoid his eyes, but she answered quietly:

"If I have any ambitions, they are not very imposing. Let's talk about
yours; or rather let's not talk about yours here. There are too many
people and too much Swami. We are out at the lake, at the old summer
home. Run out and dine with us to-morrow. Father is almost as anxious to
see you as I am. You know you are his chief consolation for the fact
that I am not a boy."

"Thanks. May I bring Norris? Not that I'm afraid of the dark by myself,
but that I really want you to know him."

"Bring him of course, Dick," she said without enthusiasm.

"And now do you suppose I can get you a cup of coffee or a sherbet?"

"Hush, I don't know whether anything so vivid is possible. I believe,
out of deference to Ram Juna, the refreshments are light almost to
Nirvana. You can't insult a man who lives on a few grains of rice by
making him watch the herd gorge on salads and ices, can you?"

"And do you really believe that great mountain of flesh was built out of
little grains of rice?"

"Mrs. Appleton--you remember her?"

"She has pounced on me already. She remembers that I waltz like a

"Dick," said Miss Elton scornfully, "don't make the mistake of
considering yourself a plum. Mrs. Appleton told me that the Swami feeds
on dew and flaming nebulae."

"Humph!" said Dick, "I think he's a big bronze fraud."

"Oh, come, men may be great without playing foot-ball," she laughed.

"Well, he's not for me. I can believe in almost any kind of a prophet
except one that works miracles."

"Who knows? The Swami may be the molder of your destiny," said Madeline
gaily, with youth's lightness in referring to the vague future.

"He may; but I'd lay long odds against it."

"I must be going." Miss Elton rose. "The crowd is thinning, and Mrs.
Lenox looks impressively in my direction. We are going out together on
the train. Their new country place is near us, you know. And you,
ungrateful one, I suspect, have not even spoken to Mr. Early yet. Go and
'make your manners,' like a good boy. I'll expect you to-morrow
afternoon. Mr. Norris, Dick has promised to bring you with him to dinner
to-morrow. Till then, good-by."

"Come, Ellery, we'll face the music, now that the real attractions are
gone," said Dick.

Mr. Early extended two hands, ponderous in proportion to the rest of his
body, in fatherly greeting.

"Ah, Percival, my dear fellow, so you are done with Yale and back again
in St. Etienne? I welcome you out of the fetters of mere bookishness
into the freedom of real life, where it is man's business to serve, and
not to absorb."

Dick blushed guiltily as several surrounding ladies turned their
lorgnettes on him, but Mr. Early went on, undisturbed and very audible:

"I do not introduce you to Swami Ram Juna, because introductions belong
to the world of conventionalities, and he lives in that world where real
human relations are the only things that count; but I put your hand in
his, in token of the contact in which your spirit may meet his great

"Very good of you, I'm sure," murmured Dick, as the Swami bent his head
and gave him a penetrating look.

"You, too, then, are a seeker?" Ram Juna inquired in a low tone, but
with his delicate and distinct enunciation.

"Ah--I hope so," Dick answered hastily, and with an evident desire to
push the topic no further. "And this, Mr. Early, is my old chum, Norris,
who has come West to be on the editorial staff of the _Star_."

"The _Star_? It is the symbol of illumination. Is then your _Star_
devoted to the enlightenment of mankind?" asked Ram Juna, transferring
his fixed gaze.

"In a sense--yes," Norris faltered with a swift guilty recollection of
certain head-lines in last night's edition.

"He who writes must think. He who thinks goes below the surface. He who
goes below the surface is moving toward the center," said the Swami

Mr. Early's broad face expanded into a benevolent smile, and an oncoming
instalment swept the young men away.

"Does Mr. Early learn his remarks by heart?" asked Norris.

"I don't know. But let us be seekers. Let us seek dinner, and fresh air.
Give me fresh air--anything but Nirvana!"



To have been captain of the foot-ball team, which some student of
sociology has called the highest office in the free gift of the American
people, might seem glory enough for one life; but Richard Percival was
of such stuff that all past triumphs became dust and ashes. He was
greedy of the future. Now that the doors of college were fairly closed,
that career became to him but as a half-dreaming condition, before one

On this summer evening, however, it was easy to prolong the dream, since
the hour was one for quiet of body and for wandering visions. The room
was large and suffused with that restfulness which comes to homes where
serene and thoughtful lives have been lived. There were long straight
lines; there was a scarcity of knickknacks; there were pictures gathered
because they were loved and not to fill a bare space on the wall; there
were books and books and books, many of them with the worn covers of
old friends. Here, clasped in the arms of another old friend of a chair,
half-sat, half-lay his mother, and near her lounged Ellery Norris, the
friend whose delicate mingling of love and admiration was as fragrant
wine to Dick, who believed in himself because others had always believed
in him. The dying twilight, laden with rose-spiciness and with the first
shrill notes of the warm night, came in through high narrow windows.
Everywhere was the sweet repose that comes after sweet activity, and the
center of it was the fragile woman who lay back in her chair, caressing
with light hand the head of the young man who sat upon the rug and
leaned against her knee.

Norris was looking at Mrs. Percival with a kind of wondering admiration
which the son saw with a touch of pity. Poor old Norris! It must have
been tough to grow up without a home. As for this fragrant type of
femininity, young Percival took it for granted--at least in the women
that belong to a man; and the other women hardly count.

Everything made Dick feel very tender toward his past, very well
satisfied with his present, very secure about his future. All would be
good. That was the natural order of the universe. He had always found it
easy to do things and to be a good deal of a personage.

He stared up silently at the space above the mantel where hung a
portrait that gazed back at him, with features pale in the fading light.
Singularly alike were the boyish face that looked up and the boyish face
that looked down, though the painted Percival, a little idealistic about
the eyes, wholly firm about the mouth, appeared the more determined of
the two. Perhaps this came from the shoulder-straps, the blue uniform,
and the military squareness of the shoulders.

"Yes, you are like him, Dick." Mrs. Percival spoke to his thoughts. The
boy looked up startled.

"Am I?" he asked. "I wish I might be. I wish I might be half so much of
a man."

"And I hope you will be more--no, not that. He was my all. I can hardly
wish you to _be_ more, but I hope you will _do_ more. At least you don't
have a drag on you from the beginning, as he had. Has Dick told you the
story, Ellery?" She turned with a gentle smile toward the other man.
"You see I can't help calling you Ellery. Dick's letters have made you
partly mine already. We are not strangers at all."

Norris flushed and impulsively laid his firm square hand over the
slender one that was stretched upon the chair arm nearest him.

"You don't know how glad I am to be yours, and to have you for mine," he
said. "I never knew my mother."

"You know then how Minnesota was a pioneer state, and how she sent a
fifth of her population to the war, and Dad among the first? You know
how the First Minnesota held the hill and turned the day at Gettysburg,
though few of them lived to tell of their own bravery? It makes the lump
come up in my throat even to remember it, just as it did when I first
heard the news and knew that my boy-lover was there."

There was silence a moment.

"Ah, Dick, you have a young body to match your heart," Mrs. Percival
went on, "but Dad, before he was twenty, carried a bullet in his side.
He had to conquer pain before he could spend strength on other things."

Dick rubbed his cheek with the mother's trembling hand.

"Yes," he said soberly, "it must have been harder to endure the
sufferings that clung to him and killed him at last than it would have
been to give everything in one swift sacrifice. Endurance,--that's a
word I don't know, do I, mother?"

"No, dear, that's the word you know least; but you'll have to learn it."

"Ellery, I guess that's where you have the advantage of me." Dick looked
up with a smile.

"If I have, it's been a dour lesson," Norris answered with a wry face.

"Well, if Dad gave his life to his country by dying, I mean to give mine
by living," Dick went on. "There must be things that need doing."

"More than there are men to do them," said his mother softly. "You have
his spirit and his genius. You have health, too. Don't put a bullet in
your young manhood."

"What do you mean, mother?"

"There are a thousand wounds besides those from a gun. I'm counting on
you to live his life as he would have liked to live it--to be his son,

"You mustn't expect the sun and the moon to stand still before me."

"Oh, well, I dare say I'm as foolish as other mothers." Mrs. Percival
laughed as though she must do that or cry. "But you were certainly born
to something, Dick. You've shown it ever since you organized your first
militia company and whipped the five-year-olds in the next street."

"And he's kept right on bossing his particular gang ever since. Richard
Dux," smiled Ellery.

The boy grinned up at them, and his mind traveled to those later days
when that leadership of his was so easily acknowledged as to be
axiomatic. He saw in panorama the stormy joys of college life with the
victories of the field. He beheld again the quieter hours when the young
men saw visions together and felt themselves called to put shoulder to
the car of righteousness, while they discussed with the sublime
self-sufficiency of inexperience the politics and sociology of the
world. The fellows all believed in him as one of those who are destined
to be prime pushers at the wheel. Perhaps he would be among those
conquerors who climb aboard and ride, forgetful of the plodding crowd
which toils at the drudgery of progress but does not taste its glory. So
many oblivions go to make one reputation.

Dick knew that power was in him. To others it showed in his unconscious
self-confidence of carriage, in his eyes that glowed, in the electric
something that compelled attraction.

But now college visions were fading into "the light of common day". The
boys had gone home to be men. Success began to look not like an aurora,
but like a solid structure built of bricks that must be carried in hods.
Hods are uninspiring objects.

Dick stared at the pile of unlit logs in the fireplace and felt the
rhythmic strokes of his mother's hand upon his well-thatched head as she
watched him in sympathetic silence; but he saw the eyes of his fellow
classmen and felt their good-by hand-clasps. Again the train thumped
with monotonous rolling as it brought him ever westward and homeward.
Farm after farm, village and town, city upon city, long level prairies
that cried out of fertility, the rush and roar and chaos of Chicago, and
then more cities and rivers and hills and lakes, and now the blessed
restfulness of home and twilight. He had seen it all many times
before--two thousand miles of space to be covered between New Haven and
St. Etienne. On this last journey it had taken on a new significance to
his eyes,--a significance which matched his dreams. It was instinct
with meaning of which he was a part.

This was his country, huge, half-formed, needing men. Its bigness was
not an accident of geography, but a pregnant fact in the consciousness
of a people as wide as itself. Thousands of redmen once covered it, and
it was then only a big place, not a great country. It must be a mighty
race who would master those miles of inert earth.

God breathed His spirit into the earth and it became a living man.
Man--His image--must breathe the spirit into the earth and make it a
living civilization.

His father, with a Gettysburg bullet bruising his life, had nevertheless
played the part, and done his share toward turning a frontier village
into a noble city. With a thrill Dick saw himself building the structure
higher on its firm foundations, making it great enough to match the wide
fertile acres that lay about it, and the dazzling Minnesota sky that
hung above. So he built his castle of achievement in the air, where his
own glory lay mistily behind his service to his fellow men. Already the
thing seemed done--vague and yet, somehow, concrete.

"Pooh, what is time? A mere figment of the imagination!" exclaimed Dick
suddenly. "Was it day before yesterday that I came home? Forty-eight
hours have put a gulf between the old and the new me. Condensed
time,--just add hot water and it swells to six times its original bulk."

His mother smiled indulgently at her son's vagaries of speech, and he
went on:

"Moreover, I've been away four years,--years of vast importance, it
seems to me. I come back and everything is going on in the same old way.
Every one is interested in the same old things. They don't seem to think
anything exciting has happened, except that the city has doubled in size
and there has been another presidential election. They aren't a bit
stirred up over me. They aren't even deeply moved because Ellery over
there is wielding an inexperienced editorial pen. Everything is
familiar, but I've forgotten it all. It's hard to pick up the threads."

"More than that, boys. The threads are not all done up in a neat bunch
and handed to you as they are in New Haven. St. Etienne's point of view
is not always that of the gentleman and the scholar. Its great men are
not of the campus, but those who control the destinies of others,
sometimes by wealth, oftener by the genius of power. But, after all,
this is the real world."

Dick laughed again.

"And a world after my own heart, mother."

"Yes, I think you will fit in," she said with maternal complacency.
"Both of you," she added with sudden remembrance.

"The fitting-in on my part will have to be a process of swelling, I
guess," Norris said whimsically. "Small and narrow as is the berth I
have at the _Star_ office, I shall have to be bigger than I am before I
fill it."

"Oh, you're all right. You're fundamentally all right, and that means
you'll rise to every opportunity you get." Dick's voice took on some of
the patronage of a leader for his follower. "I'd bank on Ellery Norris
if the rest of the world turned sour."

"Thanks," said Ellery briefly, and their eyes met in that interchange of
assurance which is the masculine American equivalent for embrace and
eternal protestation. Mrs. Percival smiled to herself, amused yet
pleased by the frank boyish affection.

"What kind of a time did you have at Mr. Early's reception?" she asked

"Oh, it was a circus with three rings. In the middle ring there was a
performing hippopotamus of a Hindu. He was really a sunburst. Then in
the farthest ring there were a thousand women with big hats, all talking
at once. But in the nearest there were just Madeline and Mrs. Lenox, and
that was a good show. By Jove! Madeline is prettier than ever, and
hasn't found it out yet. That's the advantage of sending a girl off to a
women's college where there is no man to enlighten her."

"Pretty! That's not the word to describe Miss Elton. She's too simple
and dignified," remonstrated Norris.

"Bowled over already, are you?" Dick jeered.

"Ellery is quite right," Mrs. Percival interrupted. "Madeline has
something Easter-lily-like about her."

"You grow enthusiastic, mother."

"I love her very dearly, Dick."

"Norris and I are going out to see her to-morrow. We'll take the motor, I

Mrs. Percival beamed down at him and gave his head an affectionate pat,
and the son glanced up with a blandness that might easily have become a
smirk. Yet his mother's complacent satisfaction with the inevitable
irritated him. Madeline Elton might be the most admirable combination
of the virtues and the graces, but he wanted to find it out for himself.

Mrs. Percival rose with the air of one who has heard and said what she

"Good night, dear boy," she purred as Dick struggled to his long legs.
"How good it is to have you to lean on and trust! These have been lonely
years while you were away. Now I shall leave you two to your quiet

Dick kissed her hand and then her lips, as though to show both reverence
and love. Norris, too, stooped and kissed her hand, and the two watched
her as she moved in her slow way up the stairs. As she disappeared,
Norris turned and laid an arm over Dick's shoulder.

"That's the kind of thing, Percival, that you do not wholly appreciate
unless you've gone without it. I grew up without any atmosphere to speak
of, and I've been gasping for breath all my life. I wonder if I shall
ever get a full allowance of air to live in."

As they looked, friendly eye into friendly eye, Ellery seemed to review
his own life in contrast with Dick's. Dick had background; he had to
begin everything for himself. He had earned most of his way through
college; he had earned his standing among the men as he had earned his
standing in scholarship, by dogged persistence instead of by the right
of eminent domain to which Dick was born. He had never envied Percival's
readier brain, wider popularity, more profuse fortune; but something
close to envy crept upon him now for this refinement of home, this
delicate mother-love. This was a loss not to be made good by pluck or
perseverance. Love was the gift of the gods.



Over next door, beyond the thick laurel hedge, on this same evening, Mr.
Sebastian Early, now that the last of his guests had withdrawn the
silken wonder of her reception skirts, was settling down to a quiet
evening with his turbaned guest.

Now Mr. Sebastian Early is far too intricate a person to be dismissed,
as Mrs. Lenox disposed of him, with a phrase and a laugh. In early life,
it is true, he had seemed a commonplace and insignificant young man. His
first appearance before the public was as the inventor of a
hook-and-eye, but his hook-and-eye had such unusual merits that it
seemed, according to the engaging pictures and verses in the
street-cars, to simplify most of the sterner problems of every-day life.
As its lineaments began to stare at passers-by from thousands of huge
bill-boards over the length and breadth of the land, dimes turned to
dollars in Mr. Early's ever-widening pockets, and for the time he felt
himself a man of distinction. Yet in these later and regenerate days,
Mr. Early sometimes had a moment's anguish as he remembered those miles
of unesthetic bill-boards, which once marred the meadows and streams of
his native land; for with a widening horizon, there had crept upon him a
rising spirit of discontent.

Perhaps it was that divine discontent, which William Morris celebrates,
that makes men yearn for higher things. Department stores still rolled
out their multitudinous cards of hooks-and-eyes, but the person of
Sebastian Early passed unnoticed in the crowd. He yearned for fame, not
for his product, but for himself, and the same ability that led him to
serve the wants of the public in hooks now drove him to study its social
demands. Like many another unfortunate, he began to perceive that
dollars alone were not enough of a key to unlock the magic door. In this
over-fed land, people with money are growing too common. Therefore to
gold one must add power and distinction, if one would keep one's head
above the herd. This must one do and not leave the other undone.

Sebastian determined to make himself interesting. The public has a
fawning respect for fame. One or two abortive attempts convinced Mr.
Early that his literary efforts would bring him not even the distinction
of infamy. At last he hit upon an idea. He would be a patron of the
Arts--not one of your little ordinary buyers, but a man whose purse was,
so to speak, regilded by mind. He spent six months of hard work as a
student of the situation and then he made his début. He selected a few
gems of half-forgotten eighteenth century literature--gems that deserved
to be given life-preservers on that stream of oblivion into which they
were too surely being sucked. These he brought forth in tiny volumes,
wide-edged and thick-papered, illuminated as to capitals and bound in
ooze or in old brocade on which were scattered a few decorations,
calculated, so unthinkable were they, to upset the reasoning power of
the average reader, and thus prepare him for the literary matter which
he should find within.

These books naturally "took." They invited no man to read, but they were
interesting to look at and therefore particularly adapted to those
occasions when one must make a small gift to a friend. Scarce a
center-table in the country but held at least one. The beauty of it was
that the literary matter cost him nothing, and the books were their own
advertising bill-boards; for wherever they went they lay in conspicuous

From books Mr. Early passed on to furniture; and he begot strange
shapes, wherein forgotten Gothic forms were commingled with forms that
never man saw before; and these also took. So the circle widened, until
glass pottery and rugs were gathered into the potpourri of Mr. Early's

Finally he established his magazine, _The Aspirant_, for he began to
feel the need of explaining things--chiefly himself--to his expanding
circle. _The Aspirant_ had covers of butcher's paper; and the necessity
for self-defense at last developed in Mr. Early that literary style
which he had found it impossible to cultivate while he still had nothing
to say. He grew a peculiar ability for self-glorification and for
slugging the other man. Particularly caustic did his pen become in
respect to those, whether painters, musicians, poets, novelists or
reformers, who had endeared themselves to the great mass of the public.
_The Aspirant_ always called the public "the rabble," and you can't damn
humanity more easily and cheaply than by calling it "the rabble."
Naturally every one hastened to buy Mr. Early's furniture, his rugs and
his pottery, and diligently to read _The Aspirant_, in order that he or
she might escape the universal condemnation. Be _outré_ and you'll be
right; be right and you'll be _outré_; be _outré_ anyway: was the simple

To those penniless celebrities to whom purchase of Mr. Early's
commodities was over-expensive, there was another way out from under.
They might visit Mr. Early's hospitable home, and so contribute their
mite to the halo of distinction that surrounded him. The great ones came
to St. Etienne. They ate and drank and were exhibited to an admiring
throng. They gave lectures, introduced from the platform by Mr.
Sebastian Early; they went away and _The Aspirant_ chronicled their
satellite excellences. No such ex-guest need fear a blow in the face
upon its pages. All these things came before the public--more and more
before the public every year. They kept Mr. Early's growing corps of
assistants busy, inventing new furniture and new forms of invective.

It is needless to say that the hook-and-eye was never included in the
illustrious list of Mr. Early's productions. That gentleman frequently
blessed himself in private that his first commodity had been put upon
the market as the "Imperial," and not as the "Bright and Early" as he
had once half-resolved. Only a few knew who was responsible for the

Still even his new enterprises paid. He was a good business man, and he
shared with "the rabble" an appetite for cold cash. Nor did the crafty
Arts exhaust either his abilities or his desires; for though he had no
wish to pose before the world in the over-done rôle of a millionaire,
still he needed money and ever more and more money. To get it he kept
his hand in many a business enterprise and his eye on many a speculation
of which the gaping world did not dream. Even his right-hand editorial
writer knew not of his left-handed dip into an electric light company
here or a paving contract there, for his left hand had assistants
too,--quiet, unobtrusive, even shy,--men who could lobby a bill "on the
quiet," or wreck an opposing company, even though they did not know the
difference between Hafiz and chutney. And Mr. Early's mind was of such a
broad catholicity that it would be hard to tell which side of his
career he most enjoyed, the variety-show or the still-hunt.

Thus it will be seen that this great man, who was a credit to the new
art movement of our time, and of whom St. Etienne, a young western city,
felt justly proud, was in his usual element when he introduced to the
society, in which he was now a fixed star, a light from the Far East.
And Swami Ram Juna seemed so sure that he himself was right and all the
rest of the world was wrong, that Mr. Early felt him to be a kindred

The impression deepened as he found himself alone with the Hindu. He had
rather dreaded the strange demands and customs that might meet him; but
the man of bronze and the snowy turban proved himself to be the best of
table companions, suave, courteous and sympathetic. He seemed even to
take a kindly interest in such matters of a day as Mr. Early's
incursions into the realms of art and literature. Through dinner they
chatted almost gaily, and afterward, while Mr. Early smoked, the Swami
joined him in the slow sipping of a liqueur.

There is a frankness of those who have nothing to hide; there is a
frankness which makes a mask for him who is, below the surface, all
mystery. As Sebastian studied his companion, he told himself that this
simple creature was after all a man, perhaps adapting himself to public
demands as any clever fellow would; and, as this thought occurred to
him, Mr. Early's benevolence increased.

"You ought to write a book," he said with the air of one projecting a
novel thought. "With your gift for expression, and your--ah--insight
into realities, you couldn't fail to make a success of it."

"It is my intention," said the Hindu.

Mr. Early looked a little taken aback, but brightened again with a new

"Why not do it here?" he asked. "Come, where could you find a more
fitting place? You have your rooms in a wing of the house all to
yourself. That gives you perfect solitude. I should be delighted to have
you for my guest while you do your work; and when you finish, I know
enough of the tricks of the trade to help you push it a bit."

"Of a certainty truth is self-vigorous, and needs no tricks to keep it

"Ah, yes," the man of business answered cheerfully. "But one may boost
it,--one may boost it, my dear fellow."

The Swami bent his great head and appeared to meditate. When he looked
up, his spiritual eyes were narrowed to a speculative slit, and he
studied the face on the other side of the comfortable log fire.

"My friend, you are generous. You offer me a home, and I am fain to
accept it, if I may put the offer in another form. For the present I
must return to India. Too long already have I been away from the
atmosphere which is to me life. I must see some of the brothers of my
soul. I must saturate myself with repose and with the underlying--with
Karma. Also, in this too-vigorous country, that is unattainable. But
here, in this place, one who is filled with the message might give it
forth to his brothers--or perhaps to the sisters, who appear the more
anxious for it. Here the very energy of the air says 'give' rather than
'grow'. If I might a year--six months hence--accept your hospitality?"
He looked tentatively at Mr. Early.

"My home is yours. Do what you like with it," said Mr. Early benignly.
He was thinking how well a picturesque cut of the Hindu's head would
look on the covers of _The Aspirant_, combined with a judicious puff

The Swami smiled serenely.

"I observe," he went on in his delicate voice, "that the wing on the
ground floor, in which you have given me room, has two apartments,
divided by a little passage, and that the little passage gives not upon
the public highway, but upon a garden, quiet and lovely, that faces the
sun and is shut in by brick walls and hedges. The farther one of these
rooms is bare and but slightly furnished, though my bedroom is sumptuous
like that of a maha-rajah. Still the bare small room pleases me best. If
I might have this room when I come again! If I might keep the bare room
sacred to my meditations, all unentered save by myself! It means to me
much that no alien mind, no soul of a common servant, should mar the
serenity of the atmosphere in that spot where I sit alone with myself. I
would have it dedicated to the greater Me. It would be the cap-sheaf--do
you not so say in this land of great harvests?--thus to give shelter not
only to my body, but to my soul, in this bare and quiet little room."

"Why, certainly, certainly!" Mr. Early could not help thinking that a
guest who spent most of his time alone in an empty room would prove no
great tax upon his entertainer.

"I thank you," said Ram Juna, rising and making a salaam of curious
dignity and courtesy. "You bid me lecture. You bid me write and instruct
in the sacred truths. That will I do when I come again; and my
consolation shall be the unblemished hours when I sit alone in the
little room which faces the sun. You comprehend me? You understand?"

And Mr. Early, who never, if he could help it, spent a half-hour in
either solitude or idleness, answered again:

"Why, certainly, certainly."

"In some months, then, I may return, noble friend. And now I will bid
you farewell until the dawn."

The Swami, with marvelous lightness of foot in spite of his huge body,
made off for his own domain. If Mr. Early, who now sat and yawned alone
by the dying fire, could have peeped in on the excellent Ram Juna, he
would have been much gratified by the evident satisfaction with which
the Oriental surveyed the quarters which were one day to be his. The
Swami strode at once across the bedroom, across the little passage that
opened into the garden, into the unused room beyond. Here with a swift
thrust he turned on the electric light, then moved from window to
window, opened them, examined the heavy wooden shutters which he closed
and unclosed, craning his bull-neck through the opened sashes. Around
and under each piece of furniture he peered, nodding and smiling his
approbation of everything. As he came out, he paused for some moments to
examine the lock on the door.

"Quite inadequate, quite inadequate," he muttered with a frown. "We must
do better than that."

He stood and thought a moment, then put out the light, stepped to the
garden door and disappeared into the night.

With so light a tread did he come back that Mr. Early, should he have
been listening, could have heard no warning footstep to tell him that
his guest was returning.

Back in his own bedroom, Ram Juna peeped into the luxurious bath-room
with placid delight.

"So much water, so easily hot," he said. "It is admirable. All is
admirable." He sank in a heap, cross-legged, in the middle of the floor,
with large hands folded over his stomach, and large eyes narrowed, while
a kindly smile spread over his face, and his head nodded at rhythmic
intervals, for all the world like a benevolent Buddha. The ruby glowed
and sparkled like a living thing in the light and movement; and thus he
sat for some hours.



"Now," said Richard Percival, as he and Norris stowed themselves away in
his automobile, "we shall leave the city, in which are contained how
many loves and struggles and silk umbrellas at reasonable prices, and go
to the lake where there is no civilization to bother and distract. The
lake is 'The Lake' _par excellence_ to St. Etienne. It was created by
Providence for summer homes. Therefore it was placed only ten miles from
the Falls. Providence was a good business woman. Generations of savages
lived and died--chiefly died--here. They came where the Father of Waters
roared and tumbled and they made their prayers to the Great Spirit, but
the sight never suggested to them a great city. Then came the
Anglo-Saxon, whatever he is, and harnessed the power of the river, and
built ugly gray mills, dusty with flour, and turned his log huts into
houses of brick and stone, and erected saloons and department stores.
And when he had worked like Dædalus--and you've probably forgotten who
Dædalus was, now that you have been a few weeks out of college--when he
had worked like Dædalus, I say, and got the hardest of it done, he began
to look at something besides the Falls and to pine for means of
dalliance. Behold then at his hand, Lake Imnijaska! And now Madeline
Elton is the best thing on its shore. Gee up, old motor!"

They sped along and Dick took up the tale. He was used to talking while
Norris listened and appreciated.

"Evidently you don't know who Dædalus was or you would have answered
back. What kind of an omniscient editor are you going to make, think
you? Never mind, Dædalus is dead; and, anyway, Edison has beaten him by
six holes.

"The lake, as I was saying, twists and turns so that it gets in more
shore to the square inch than any other known sheet of water. Therefore
the real-estate dealer loves it. And if you elevate your longshore nose
and sniff at our lake because no salt codfish dry upon smelly wharves
and no sea anemones or crabs appear and disappear with the tides, then
will the entire population of St. Etienne rise and howl anathemas at
you. They will run you out of town on the Chicago Express, and as you
fly for your life they will shriek after you, 'Well, anyway, we feed the
world with flour!' Yes, sir, that is the way we Westerners argue."

Dick halted at the top of the hill up which the faithful motor had
coughed, and the two looked down on the shimmering blue that stretched
below them with arms of broken opals sprawling for miles, now here, now
there. Long tortuous passages opened out anew into ever more bays, as
though the water were greedy to explore. Around it rolled the woodland
in billows of intense green with sandy beaches in the troughs and
straight cliffs at the crests. The green islands were vivid in color. So
was the sky above, like the flash in a sapphire. A half-dozen sails
fluttered gull-like, and as many launches darted along, suggesting
living water creatures.

"By Jove!" Ellery exclaimed, moving uneasily. "When you sniff this air
it makes you want to stand on tiptoe on a hilltop and shout. And when
you look at these colors, they are too brilliant to be true."

"Even you, you old conservative slow-poking duffer!" cried Dick. "This
is the land to wake you up. It calls 'harder--harder!' every-day."

"It's a different kind of beauty from what I'm used to." Ellery sobered
down again. "I've been trying to analyze it ever since I came West. It
wouldn't appeal to the tired or the world-weary. Its charm is for the
vigorous and the confident and the hopeful--for the young."

"For us, my boy," Dick said.

"At Madeline's," as Dick called it, with that obliviousness of the older
generation shown by the younger, Norris felt as they entered, as he had
felt at Mrs. Percival's, that he was in a candid, human, refined home,
with a full appreciation of the finer sides of life. They passed through
the drawing-room and by long glass doors to the broad piazza, with every
invitation to laziness, easy chairs, cushions, magazines, all made
fragrant by a huge jar of roses and another of sweet peas. And there was
not too much. The veranda in turn gave upon a wide expanse of green that
stretched steeply down to that cool wet line where the lapping waters
met the lawn. The trees whispered softly around. Every prospect was
pleasing, and only man was vile; for there was another man, sitting in
the most comfortable of chairs and engaging Madeline all to himself, as
he contentedly sipped the cup of tea that he had taken from her hand.
This other man, whose name was Davison, was making himself agreeable
after the fashion of his kind, a fashion quite familiar to every girl
who has been so unfortunate as to get a reputation, however little
deserved, for superior brains.

"Afternoon," he said, "I didn't suppose any other fellows except myself
were brave enough, to call on Miss Elton. I hear she's so awfully
clever, you know. Taken degrees and all that sort of thing. Give you my
word it comes out in everything around her. Why, this very napkin she
gave me has a Greek border. Everything has to be classic now."

"Not everything, Mr. Davison," said Madeline indulgently. "You know I am
delighted to have you here." She turned abruptly to the new-comers as
though she had already had a surfeit of this subject. It is a pleasant
thing to have had a good education, but one does not care to spend one's
time thinking about it, any more than about how much money there is in
one's pocket.

"You had a fine ride out?" Madeline asked.

"Great!" answered Dick. "To be young, on a summer day, seated in a good
motor with a thoroughly tamed and domesticated gasoline engine, and to
be coming to see you--what more could we ask of the gods?"

"You see Percival feels that he must lard the gods into his intercourse
with you, Miss Elton," Mr. Davison interjected.

"That's because the gods have become nice homey things," retorted Dick.
"Even in the West we couldn't keep house without Dionysius assisted by
Hebe to superintend our afternoon teas, and Hercules as a patron of

Madeline laughed and cast a grateful look in his direction.

"You see how pleasant it is to feel familiar with the gods so that you
can use them freely," she said.

"So you don't think it's necessary, in order to be clever, to despise
everything that's done nowadays, because the Greeks used up all the
ideas first?" asked Davison.

"Not at all. Nature conducts a vast renovating and cleaning
establishment, and whenever any old ideas look the least bit frayed or
soiled around the edges, pop, in they go, and come out French
dry-cleaned and as fresh as ever. They're sent home in a spick-span box
and you couldn't tell 'em from new."

"If we don't get anything new I hope that we, at least, get rid of some
of the old things--fears and superstitions," said Madeline. "Things that
are holy rites in one age are so apt to be holy frights in the next."

"Say, did you ever go down the streets of Boston and notice the number
of signs of palmists and astrologers and vacuum cures?" exclaimed
Davison. "But perhaps it ain't fair to take Boston for a standard."

Ellery, a true New Englander, stared at him in astonishment, as one who
heard sacred things lightly spoken of.

"Most of us can see how funny we are," Davison pursued.

"Can we?" murmured Dick.

"But Boston," he went on calmly, "has lost her sense of humor. She peers
down at everything she does and says, 'This is very serious.' That's why
she takes astrologers in earnest. They're in Boston. Anyway, I think you
were mighty sensible to come back to us, Miss Elton, rather than to stay
in the unmarried state, alias Massachusetts. A girl really has a much
better chance in the West."

"Yes, that's where Miss Elton showed a long head," said Dick with
evident glee.

"But really now, joking apart," Davison went on, having made his
opening, "don't you think it's unsettling to a girl to do too much

"I hope you are not deeply agitated over the eradication of
womanliness," Madeline remonstrated. "Really, Mr. Davison, it isn't an
easy thing to stop being a woman--when you happen to be born one."

"But there are plenty of unwomanly women," he objected.

"That's true," she answered, "but I believe womanliness is killed--when
it is killed--not through the brain, but through the heart. It's not
knowledge, but hard-heartedness that makes the unwomanly woman."

She glanced up and met Norris' eyes. It was not easy for him to join in
the chatter of the others, but he was thinking how she illuminated her
own words. Manifestly she was not lacking in mind, and quite as
evidently her brain was only the antechamber of her nature. She gave him
the impression of "the heart at leisure from itself". There was the
unconsciousness of sheltered girlhood, but already, in bud, the
suggestion of that big type of woman who, as years mellow her, touches
with sympathy every life with which she comes in contact. What she now
was, promised more in the future, as though Fate said, "I'm not through
with her yet. I've plenty in reserve to go to her making."

"Intelligence," said Dick pompously, "is the tree of life in man, and
the flower in woman--and one does not presume to criticize flowers."

Mr. Davison changed his method of attack.

"Oh, of course I'm up against it," he said, "with you three fresh from
the academic halls. But I can tell you you'll feel pretty lonely out
here. The street-car conductors don't talk Sanskrit in the West. They
talk Swede."

"Oh, this,--this is home!" cried Madeline, springing up as if to shake
off the conversation. "You don't know how I love it! It's fresh and
vigorous and its face is forward." She flung out her arms and smiled
radiantly down on the three young men, as though she were an embodiment
of the ozone of the Northwest.

"Sing to us, please, Madeline," said Dick.

"Very well, I will," she said. "I'll sing you a song I made myself
yesterday, when I was happy because I was at home again. Perhaps it will
tell you how I feel, for it's a song of Minnesota." She turned and
nodded to Mr. Davison, and then slipped through the doors to the room
where the piano stood.

The long shadows of afternoon lay across the lawn, and the grass, more
green than ever in the level light, clasped the dazzling blue of the
quiet waters. The three men stretched themselves in their easy chairs,
as a stroked kitten stretches itself, with a lounging abandon which is
forbidden to their sisters, as Madeline's voice rose fresh and true and
touched with the joy of youth.

    "Ho, west wind off the prairie;
       Ho, north wind off the pine;
    Ho, myriad azure lakes, hill-clasped,
       Like cups of living wine;
    Ho, mighty river rolling;
       Ho, fallow, field and fen;
    By a thousand voices nature calls,
       To fire the hearts of men.

    "Ho, fragrance of the wheat-fields;
       Ho, garnered hoards of flax;
    Ho, whirling millwheel, 'neath the falls;
       Ho, woodman's ringing ax.
    Man blends his voice with nature's,
       And the great chorus swells.
    He adds the notes of home and love
       To the tale the forest tells.

    "Oh, young blood of the nation;
       Oh, hope in a world of need;
    The traditions of the fathers
       Still be our vital seed.
    Thy newer daughters of the West,
       Columbia, mother mine,
    Still hold to the simple virtues
       Of field and stream and pine."

The song stopped abruptly, and Dick sprang to his feet.

"Good, Madeline!" he exclaimed. "You make me feel how great it is to be
part of it."

"Do I?" she said. "I thought of you when I wrote it. Oh, here come
father and mother back from their drive."

Mr. Davison rose hastily.

"I'd no idea it was so late," he said. "I must be going. Miss Elton, I
didn't mean a word of all that about your being so clever. You're all

"Thanks for the tribute," Madeline smiled as he disappeared down the
drive. "Dick, I wish you'd always be on hand when he comes. He makes my
brain feel like a woolly dog."

"Rummy chap," said Norris.

The older people came in to greet the boy they had known all his life,
to ask the innumerable usual questions, to say the inevitable things
through dinner.

Afterwards, when the last fragments of sunset burned through and across
the water, they gathered on the piazza. It was that dreamy hour when
women find it easy to be silent and men to talk. Madeline and her mother
sat close, with hands restfully clasped in their joy at being together.
Mr. Elton eyed the two young men from his vantage of years of shrewd
wisdom. Both the boys were clean-shaven, after the manner of the day, a
fashion that seems to become clean manliness, vigorous and
self-controlled. Both were good to look at; but here the resemblance
ended, for Dick's long slender face and body lithe with its athletic
training, was alive and restless, as though he found it difficult to
keep back his passion for activity; Ellery, big but loosely joined, had
the dogged look of one that held some of his energy in reserve. A good
pair, Mr. Elton concluded, and felt a sudden spasm of longing for a
son--not that he would have exchanged Madeline for any trousered biped
that walked, but it would be a great thing to own one such well of young
masculine vigor as these.

"It's going to be great fun for us old fellows to sit back and watch you
young ones," the elder man ejaculated. "There are several good-sized
jobs waiting for you."

"That's a good thing," said Dick. "When there's nothing to do, nobody'll
do it."

"And it will be a tame sort of a world, eh? Well, thank the Lord, it's
none of our responsibility any longer. You've got to tackle it. The new
phases of things are too much for me, with a brain solidified by years."

"You might at least help us by stating the problem," said Norris.

"You see, it's like this. Until a few years ago every census map of the
United States was seamed by a long line marked 'frontier.' That line is
gone. That's the situation in a nutshell. Our work, the subjugation of
the land, is about done, and the question is now up to you; what are you
going to do with it? You know the old story of the man who said he had a
horse who could run a mile in two-forty. And the other fellow asked,
'What are you going to do when you get there?' We've done the running
and our children are there. Now what? You must develop a whole set of
new talents--not trotting talents, but staying talents."

"I suppose," said Norris slowly, for Dick was silent, "circumstances
bring out abilities. That's the law that operated in the case of the
older generation, and we'll have to trust to it in ours."

"That's true. But I sometimes wonder if, after all, we are helping you
to the best preparation. We send you back to get the old education. The
tendency of old communities is to rehash the traditions until they
become authority. New communities have to face problems for themselves
and solve them by new ways. The first kind of training makes scholars.
The second brings out genius. The old makes men think over the thoughts
of others. Heaven knows we need men who will think for themselves!"

"Well, 'old and young are fellows'," said Dick. "To-day grows out of

"Yes, if it grows. The growing is the point. It mustn't molder on
yesterday. You must have enough books to get your thinkers going, but
not more. You must not feast on libraries until you get intellectual
gout and have to tickle your palate with dainties. A good deal of stuff
that's written nowadays seems to me like literary cocktails,--something
to stir a jaded appetite. That's my friend Early's specialty--to serve
literary cocktails. But the appetite you bolster up isn't the equivalent
of a good healthy hunger after a day out-of-doors."

"When nature wants a genius, I suppose she has to use fresh seed," said

"And genius is creative," Mr. Elton went on. "So far, the genius this
country has developed is that which takes the raw material of forest and
river and creates civilization. And let me tell you that's a very
different job from heaping up population."

Silence fell on the little group and they became suddenly aware of
lapping waters and the sleepy twitter of birds, and even of a long
slender thread of pale light that struck across the lake from a
low-lying star. Madeline gave a little sigh and pressed her mother's

Dick flushed and hesitated in the darkness, with youth's confidence in
its own great purposes and youth's craving for sympathy in its
ambitions. Mr. Elton's combination of kindness and shrewdness seemed to
draw him out.

"It sounds impertinent and conceited for a young fellow like me to talk
about what he means to do."

"Fire away. I knew your father, Dick."

"Then you'll know what I mean when I say that it has always been my
ambition to live up to his traditions--his ideal of a man's public

Mr. Elton nodded and Dick went on, while Ellery eyed him with some of
the old college respect, and Madeline leaned eagerly forward.

"I don't mean any splurge, you understand, but the same quiet service he
gave. Father left his affairs in such good order that there isn't any
real necessity for me to try to add to my income. Of course, it isn't a
great fortune, but it's more than enough; and my ambitions don't lie
that way. There's a certain amount of business in taking care of it as
it stands. Mother is glad to turn the burden of it over to me. She's
done nobly--dear little woman--but--"

"I understand. It's a man's business."

"Yes," said Dick, with the simple masculine superiority of four and
twenty. "That's enough of a background for life, you see; but I long
since made up my mind that public affairs--affairs that concern the
whole community--are to be my real interest."

"So you're going into politics, Dick?" said the older man slowly.

"Well, not to scramble for office," Percival answered with a flush. "We
fellows have been well-enough taught, haven't we, Ellery? to know that
it is rather an ugly mess--I mean municipal affairs in this country. The
local situation, here in St. Etienne, I have yet to study; and I don't
mean to lose any time in beginning."

Mr. Elton made no reply for a moment, and when he spoke there was an
unpleasant cynicism in his voice that galled Dick's pride.

"The young reformer! Well, I suppose a decent man with a little ability
could do something here, if he knew what he was going to do. It's a good
thing to get on your sea-legs before you try to command a ship."

"Father!" Madeline cried out, unable to contain herself. "Don't you be a
horrid wet blanket!"

The three looked at her to see her face aglow with the lovely feminine
belief in masculinity that also belongs to the early twenties.

"That's all right," said the elder Elton unemotionally. "I wasn't
wet-blanketing--I know things are needed. There's plenty of corruption
wanting to be buried, and most of us are content to hold our noses and
let it lie. Or perhaps we give an exclamation of disgust when it is
served up in the newspapers. Reform if you must, but don't reform all
day and Sundays too; and build your cellars before you begin your

Then he went on a shade more heartily: "It's a mighty good thing for
some of you young fellows to be going into politics; perhaps that's the
chief work for the next generation. And Norris--what of you?"

Ellery started. It had been a silent evening for him, but his silence
had glowed with interest, not so much in the conversation as in his own
thoughts. Two things had forced themselves home,--the first when he
looked down on that expanse of vivid water, vivid sky, vivid green. Here
a man, even a young man, might waken to all his faculties and make
something of life. He need not plod dully through years, to reach
success only when he is old and tired. The landscape poured like wine
into Ellery Norris' veins.

And now here was the other side. He had watched with fascination the
restfulness of Miss Elton's hands, the one that held her mother's, the
one that lay quietly in her lap. He watched her steady eyes that kept
upon her father and Dick as they talked. He saw her face glow with
sympathy and interest and yet remain calm, as if secure in the goodness
of the world; and he told himself that he was glad this wonderful thing
belonged to Dick. Dick's restlessness would be held in leash, as it
were, by this steadfastness.

Once she half turned as though she felt his scrutiny, and queer pains
darted through his body when her eyes met his.

Now when Mr. Elton attacked him, he came back from his far-away
excursion with a sense of surprise that there was a present, but he
smiled cheerfully.

"Oh, I'm not a very important person. I'm just beginning to learn the
trade of a newspaper man, and I'm afraid I shan't be able to think about
much but city news and bread and butter for the next few years."

"No telling what may happen, with his Honor, the mayor here, backed up
by the power of the press. We'll make St. Etienne a model city in the
sight of gods and men, eh, boys?" said Mr. Elton good-humoredly, but
rising as if to cut short the conversation.

"Can't we take a walk before Ellery and I go back to town?" asked Dick.

"Go, you kid things. I haven't seen the evening paper yet, and that's
more to my old brain than moonlight strolls." Mr. Elton dismissed them.

The three young people set out upon a path that twisted by the lake
shore, bordered on its inner side by trees that had become in the
darkness mere shapeless masses out of which an occasional mysterious
thread of light brought into sight some uncanny shape. The purple of the
evening zenith had sunk into deeper and deeper blue, pricked here and
there with stars. Bats were wheeling in mysterious circles among the
tree-tops, and the air was full of sounds that seem to come only at

"Isn't it strange that though every one of those trees is an old friend,
I should be frightened at the very idea of being alone among them at
night? And yet there's nothing in the dark that isn't in the day," said

"Oh, yes, there is," Dick rejoined. "There's more being afraid in the

She laughed and they went on in silence.

"Who's been building a new house, just on the very spot I always meant
to own some day--right here next to your father?" Dick demanded,
stopping abruptly.

"Oh, you haven't seen that, have you?" said Madeline. "Let's sit down on
this log and look at the stars. That's Mr. Lenox's new house; and I'm so
sorry for them!"

"Why grieve for the prosperous? Reserve your tears for the suffering."

"Why, you know, in town, they live with Mr. Windsor, who is Mrs. Lenox's
father, and he's a multimillionaire; and it's a great establishment; and
the world is necessarily very much with them. So when Mr. Lenox proposed
that they should build a country house of their own and spend their
summers here, I think he wanted to get out to some primitive simplicity,
where the children could go barefoot if they wanted to. But as soon as
it was suggested, Mr. Windsor presented his daughter with a big tract,
and insisted on building this great palace, and they have to keep so
many servants that Mr. Lenox says it is a regular Swedish
boarding-house. And there are so many guest-rooms that it would be a
shame not to have them occupied; and extra people run out in their
motors every day; and the children have to be kept immaculate all the
time. So they've brought the world out with them. Mr. Lenox has to dress
for dinner, instead of putting on old slippers and going out to weed the
strawberry-bed, which is what he would like to do when he gets out on
the evening train."

"Poor things, in bondage to their house!" said Norris, and they all
looked solemnly at the multitude of lights shining through the trees.

"There are ever so many disadvantages about being among the few very
rich people in a western town, where most of your friends aren't
opulent," Madeline went on. "When Mrs. Lenox makes a call, she has to
wait while the woman changes her dress. And nobody says to her, 'Oh, do
stay to lunch,' when they've nothing but oysters or beefsteak, but they
wait till they get in an extra chef and then send her a formal
invitation. I believe ours is one of the half-dozen houses where people
don't pretend to be something quite different from what they are when
Mrs. Lenox appears. And yet she's the most simple-minded and genuine
person, and would rather have beefsteak and friendship than _paté de
fois gras_ and good gowns any day."

"Poor things!" said Dick again.

"I think they are out on the terrace now. Would you like to go over and
see them?" Madeline asked.

"No, thank you," said Dick politely. "We won't make their life any more
complicated. Besides, I prefer the society of you and the stars to that
of the miserable too-rich. And they are not alone."

"Of course not. They never are. But Mrs. Lenox said yesterday that late
this fall, when every one else has gone into winter quarters, she is
going to ask you and me and perhaps one or two others to visit her; and
we'll have a serene and lovely time."

"Do you think that there is any hope that they will have lost part of
their money by that time?" asked Dick.

"Father says Mr. Windsor has forgotten how to lose money, and of course
Mr. Windsor and Mr. Lenox are all one."

"I must see to it that I don't marry a millionaire's daughter," said



The most desirable thing in life is to have the sense of doing your duty
without the trouble of doing it. Therefore days of preparation are
always delicious days. There is the mingling of repose with all the joys
of activity. To be planning to do things has in it more of triumph than
the actual doing. It carries the irradiating light of hope and purpose,
without the petty pin-prick of detail which comes when reality parodies

Dick's first summer at home was a period of delight. He absorbed ideas
and so felt that he was doing something in this city of his birth which
now, in his manhood, came back to him as something new and strange. The
weeks drifted by and he seemed to drift with them, though both mind and
body were alert. All the things he learned and all the things he meant
to do were tripled and quadrupled in interest when he passed them on to
his two counselors-in-chief, Norris, solid and appreciative, Madeline,
even more believing and more sympathizing, but glorified by that charm
of sex which gilds even trifling contact of man and maid, making her
friendship not only gilt but gold.

So he spent his days in prowling about and meeting all sorts and
conditions of men, while Ellery slaved in a dirty and noisy office; but
when Saturday came and the _Star_ went to press at three, Norris, with
the blissful knowledge that there was no Sunday edition, would meet
Percival, stocked with a week's accumulation of experiences. In the
hearts of both would be deep rejoicing as, at week-end after week-end,
they stowed themselves in Dick's motor and betook themselves lakeward,
nominally to go to the Country Club and play golf, but with the
subconsciousness for both that the lake meant Madeline.

There were, to be sure, other people, girls agreeable, pretty and
edifying, men of their own type and age, older men who did less sport
and more business, but all of these were neither more nor less than a
many-colored background to the little three-cornered intimacy which, as
Dick said, "was the real thing."

It came to be understood that the three should spend their Sunday
afternoons together, not on the cool piazza, where intrusion in its
myriad forms might come upon them, but off somewhere, either on the
bosom of the waters or on the bosom of the good green earth, who
whispers her secret of eternal vitality to every one that lays an ear
close to her heart.

The season was like the placid hour before the world wakes to its daily
comedy and tragedy; and yet, with all its superficial serenity, this
summer carried certain undercurrents of emotion that hardly rose to the
dignity of discontent, but which, nevertheless, troubled the still
waters of the soul. At first Madeline half resented the continual
presence of Norris at these sacred conclaves. He seemed so much an
outsider. Dick she had known all her life and she could talk to him with
perfect freedom, but his friend often sat silent during their chatter,
as though he were an onlooker before whom spontaneity was impossible.
Yet as Sunday after Sunday the two young men strode up together, she
grew to accept Ellery. First he became inoffensive; then she became
aware that his eyes spoke when his lips were dumb; and finally, when
words did come, they were the words of a friend who understood moods and
tenses. In some ways it was a comfort to have this buffer between her
and Dick. It helped to prolong the period of uncertain certainty.

Dick never spoke of love, but the way was pointed not only by the easy
restfulness of their comradeship, but in the very atmosphere that
surrounded them. She read it half-consciously in the looks of father and
mother as they met and accepted Dick's intimacy in the house, in the
warmth of Mrs. Percival's motherly affection when Madeline ran in for
one of her frequent calls. Life was full of it, like the gentle
half-warmth that comes before the sun has quite peeped over the horizon
on a summer morning; and it was well that this dawn to their day should
be a long one. Madeline had been away the greater part of four years,
and she was now in no hurry to cut short her reunion with the old home
life. Dick, too, had his beginnings to make, man-fashion, and they ought
to be made before he took on himself the full life of a man. So she was
happily content to drift, conscious in a vague dreamy way that the drift
was in the right direction, feeling the situation without analyzing it.
It was a condition of affairs like Madeline herself, gently
affectionate, but not passionate or deeply emotional. She was not of the
type of women who rise up and control destiny.

Norris, for all his passive exterior, had undercurrents that were fervid
and powerful, and this first summer in the West, unruffled on its
surface, stirred them and sent his life whirling along their
irresistible streams. He never lost the sense that he was an outsider,
admitted on sufferance to see the happiness of others and allowed to
pick up their crumbs. If hard work, oblivion and lovelessness were to be
his lot, the hardest of these was lovelessness. Much as he loved Dick he
continually resented that young man's careless acceptance of the good
things of life, and most of all did his irritation grow at Percival's
way of taking Madeline for granted, enjoying her beauty, her sympathy,
the grace that she threw over everything, and yet, thought Ellery, never
half appreciating them. He himself bowed before them with an adoration
that was framed in anguish because these things were, and were not for
him. More and more cruel grew the knowledge that the currents of his
life were gall and wormwood, flowing through wastes of bitterness.

Yet, along with the new grief came a new awakening, at first dimly felt
by Madeline alone, then read with greater and greater clearness.

But of all undercurrents, Dick, prime mover and chief talker, remained
unconscious, absorbed in his own dawning career, delighting in his two
friends chiefly as hearers and sympathizers with his multitudinous

So it happened that one August afternoon, when it was late enough for
the sun to have lost its fury, a not too strenuous breeze drove their
tiny yacht through a channel which stretched enticingly between a wooded
island and the jutting mainland.

"Let's land there," Madeline exclaimed suddenly. "It looks like a jolly

She pointed toward a stretch of beach caught between the arms of trees
that came to the very water's edge, and enshrined in a great wild
grape-vine that had climbed from branch to branch until it made a
tangled canopy.

Dick turned sharply inward and ran their prow into the twittering sand.

"Thou speakest and it is thy servant's place to obey," he said.

"How does it feel to keep slaves? I've often wondered," Ellery said as
he jumped ashore and Dick began tossing him rugs and cushions.

"Very comfy, thank you, and not at all un-Christian," she answered
saucily. "Dick, don't throw the supper basket, under penalty of
liquidating the sandwiches. I think there's a freezer of ice-cream under
the deck, if you'll pull it out. Now, are you ready for me?"

She stepped lightly forward under Dick's guidance, took Ellery's
outstretched hands and sprang to the shore, where a kind of throne was
built for her against a prostrate log,--all this help not because it was
necessary, but as the appropriate pomp of royalty.

"I suspect," said Dick, looking about him with great satisfaction, "that
this was a favorite picnic place for Gitche Manito and Hiawatha, in the
morning of days."

"That shows how nature can forget," Madeline retorted. "Surely you know
the real story, Dick."

"I don't," said Ellery. "Tell it to me."

She snuggled comfortably down into her rugs.

"In early days, which is the western equivalent for 'once upon a time,'
a furious storm raged down the lake and tore the water into long
ribbons of purple and green. A beautiful girl stood, perhaps on this
very spot, with a savage who had rescued her from a sinking canoe and
brought her here, dripping but safe. Over there on the mainland her
father came running out of the woods in an agony of fear. He saw her
here, saw her signals, but the shriek of the storm and the roar of the
waters drowned out the words that she frantically screamed toward him.
He saw her point to the Indian, who was always feared, always counted
treacherous, and his dread of the hurricane changed to terror of the
savage. He raised his rifle and the girl's deliverer dropped dead at her

"Then fifty years went by, and this became a bower for the eating of
sandwiches," added Dick.

Norris was lying on his back and staring through the tangle of grape and
maple leaves at the flecks of blue beyond.

"That's a noble story," he said. "I didn't suppose this new land had any
legends. It all gives me the impression of being just old enough to be

"Isn't that the conceit of the Anglo-Saxon? He calls this a new land
because he's lived here only about a half-century. Things did happen
before you were born, my dear boy," said Dick.

"Indeed! What things?" Norris asked placidly.

"Suppose you enlarge your mind by looking up the stories of the old
_coureurs du bois_ who used to stumble through these woods when they
were the border-land between Chippewa and Sioux." Dick threw a pebble at
Norris' face. "Suppose you go up to that inky stream in the north, which
twists mysteriously through the forests, black with the bodies of dead
men rotting in its mire. I don't wonder they thought the rough life more
fascinating than kings and courts. I'd like to have seen sun-dances and
maiden-tests; I'd like to have eaten food strange enough to be
picturesque, and to have found new streams and traced them to their
sources, and to have come unexpectedly on new lakes, like amethysts.
It's as much fun to discover as to invent. And then the Jesuit fathers,
half-tramp, half-martyr,--they were great old fellows."

"And the Frenchman--where is he?" said Madeline. "Gone, and left a few
names for the Swede and the American to mispronounce; but you may come
down later, Mr. Norris, and find how law and order, in our own people,
fought with savagery out here on the frontier. It's a thrilling story."

"You love it all and its legends, don't you?" Ellery looked from one to
the other.

"Don't you?" Madeline asked.

"By Jove, I do!" he cried, sitting suddenly upright as though stirred
with genuine feeling. "I love it without its legends. It does not seem
to me to have any past. It is all future. It makes me feel all future,

"Do you know what's happened to you?" Dick laughed exultantly. "Gitche
Manito the Mighty has got you--the spirit of the West--which, being
interpreted, is Ozone."

"Something has got me, I admit," Norris cried. "What is it? What is it
that makes the sky so dazzling? What is it that makes the leaves fairly
radiate light? What is it that, every time you take a breath, makes the
air freshen you down to your toes? I feel younger than I ever did before
in all my life."

The other two were looking at him.

"Well, our height above the sea-level--" Dick began.

"Oh, rot!" Ellery exclaimed. "It's something more than air--it's
atmosphere. You feel here that it's glorious to work."

"You make me proud of you, old boy."

"It's funny how universally you fellows call me 'old boy'. I suppose I
was older than the rest of you. I had to take the responsibility for my
own life too soon and it took out of me that assurance that most of you
had--that complacent confidence that things would somehow manage
themselves. But I'm getting even now. I'm appreciating being young,
which most men don't."

"Bully for you!" Dick cried. "If you couldn't be born a Westerner, you
are born again one. I am moved to tell you something that gave me a
small glow yesterday. I met Lewis--the editor of the _Star_, you know,
Madeline--and he insisted on stopping me and congratulating me on having
brought Mr. Norris to St. Etienne; said he was irritated at first by
having a man forced on him by influence, when there was really no
particular place for him, but, he went on, 'Mr. Norris is rapidly making
his own place. We think him a real acquisition.'"

"Oh, pooh!" Norris lapsed sulkily into his usual quiet manner. "Of
course I can write better than I can talk. My thoughts are just slow
enough, I guess, to keep up with a pen."

Dick laughed softly as though he were pleased at things he did not tell.
Madeline, for the first time, gave her real attention to Mr. Norris,
whom she had not hitherto thought worth dwelling on--at least when Dick
was about. Never before had this young man talked about himself.

A silence fell.

"Was that a wood-thrush?" Norris asked, manifestly grasping at a change
of subject.

"I don't know, and I don't intend to know," Madeline cried, with such
unusual viciousness that the two men stared. "Poor birds!" she said.
"I've nothing against them, but I'm in rebellion against the bird fad.
I'm so tired of meeting people and having them start in with a gushing,
'Oh, how-de-do! Only fancy, I have just seen a scarlet tanager!' and you
know they haven't, and they wouldn't care anyway, and their mother may
be dying."

Ellery laughed, and Dick said:

"Well, what are you going to do about it?"

"I'm going to invent a fad of my own."

"Let us in on the ground floor."

"If you like. I'm learning the notes of the wind in the tree-tops. It
has such variety! No two trees sound alike. Hear that sharp twitter of
the maples? The oak has a deep sonorous song, and the elm's is as
delicate as itself. I believe I could tell them all with my eyes shut."

"One breeze with infinite manifestations. I suppose our souls twist the
breath of the spirit to our own likenesses in the same way," Ellery

Madeline looked at him and he smiled.

"You're getting poetical, old codger," said Dick. "You must be in love."
Ellery blushed, but Dick went on, oblivious of byplay. "I move that we
celebrate the occasion by a cold collation. Last week, your mother
kindly made inquiries about my tastes that led me to infer that
everything I most affect is stowed away in that comfortable-looking

So they had supper, and Norris fished a volume of Shelley from his
pocket and read _The Cloud_, which Dick followed by a really funny story
from a magazine. They fell to talking about their own affairs, which to
the young are the chief interests. It takes years "that bring the
philosophic mind" to make abstractions stimulating. Finally they wafted
homeward under a sky dark at the zenith and becoming paler and paler,
violet, rose, wan white, with a line of intense violet along the
horizon, and, as they sailed, Madeline sang softly as one does in the
immediate presence of nature.

This was one day. On another Dick was full of his adventures of the
week. He was learning to know his St. Etienne in all its phases. He told
them of the lumber mills down by the river, where brawny men, primitive
in aspect, fought with a never-ending stream of logs which came down
with the current and raised themselves like uncanny water-monsters, up a
long incline, finally to meet their death at the hands of machinery that
ripped and snarled and clutched. Who would dream, to look at the great
commonplace piles of boards that lined the riverbank for miles, that
their birth-pangs had been so picturesque?

Or again, Dick told them of those other mills, which were the chief
foundation of St. Etienne's wealth, piles of gray stone, for ever
dust-laden and dingy, into which poured a never-ending stream of grain,
and out of which poured an equally unceasing stream of bags and barrels
laden with flour. Around the wide interiors wandered a few men, gray
too, who peeped now and then into caverns where hidden machinery did all
the work. Outside, locomotives whistled and puffed and snorted, as they
switched the miles of cars to and from the mills. Great vans rolled up
with their burdens of fresh empty barrels to be filled and rolled away

It was the commonplace of daily toil, but Dick made it vivid, because it
was in him to see all things as the work of men, and whenever you catch
them doing real work, men are interesting.

Sometimes Dick had other stories to tell. In his collegiate days, he had
grown familiar with the typical slum and its problems. The class in
sociology had visited such. So he went to the slums of St. Etienne, and
behold, they were not slums at all, for the slum can not be grown, like
a mushroom, in a night. It must have a thousand nauseous influences
stagnating for a long time undisturbed. But here were meager little
wooden huts, flanked by rusting piles of scrap-iron, or flats along the
river-bottom where the high waters of spring were sure to send the
dwellers in these shabby apologies for homes scrambling to the roofs,
or drive them to the shelter of the neighboring brewery. Here as the
waters swept under the stony arches of the bridges, old women tucked up
their petticoats and fished for the richness with which a city befouls
its river. Here they made themselves neat woodpiles of the drift of the
sawmills, and turned an honest penny by exhibiting on their roofs gaudy
advertisements of plug-tobacco, that those who passed on the bridge
above might look down and read and resolve to avoid the brand thus
obnoxiously glorified.

Sometimes Dick had to relate a picturesque interview with a policeman
who unfolded to him unknown phases of life, for though he believed in
himself, Percival also believed in the other man, and therefore made him
a friend. Every one likes a jolly friendly prince, and that was Dick's

Or he would dip into a police court where all the stages of wretchedness
were pitchforked into one another's evil-smelling company, so that it
ranged from the highest circle of purgatory to the lowest depths of

"Why do you go to such places, Dick? It's nauseating," Madeline

"Why?" he demanded. "I suppose that sometime, when I've made over my
information into the neat systematic package that you prefer, I shall
start a soul-uplifting row. I look forward to that as my career. You
ought to get a career, Madeline."

"A career? I know the verb, but not the noun," she retorted saucily.
"I'm afraid mine is nothing but the trivial task, flavored with all the
flavors I like best."

Sometimes, when they went home together at night, Percival had stories
to unfold to Norris alone--stories he could not tell Madeline, of things
found in the mire, upon which the healthy happy world turns its back
when every night it goes "up town" to pleasant hearthstones and to
normal life. These were tales of foul sounds and foul air, where men and
women gathered and drank and gambled and laughed with laughter that was
like the grinning of skulls, hollow and despairing. They were stories of
girls with sodden eyes and men with wooden faces--of innumerable schemes
to suck money by any means but those of honor. And these were the phases
of his study that Dick looked upon with a kind of anguished fascination,
as more and more he saw how the hands stretched out of that mire
smirched the city which he hoped to serve.

Sometimes, and this was when they were with Madeline again, Ellery would
have his experience to tell, redolent of printer's ink, and full of the
interest of that profession which is never two days the same--stories of
how business toils and spins and is not arrayed like Solomon. Norris,
too, was beginning to run up against human nature both in gross and in
detail, and to know the world, from the fight last night in Fish Alley
up to the doings of statesmen and kings. Madeline had little to tell,
for she was living quietly at home, taking the housekeeping off her
mother's hands and driving her father to the morning train. She had few
episodes more exciting than an afternoon call or a moonlight sail. But
the young men brought her their lives, and when she had made her gay
little bombardment of comment, they felt as though some new light had
fallen upon familiar facts. The very simplicity of her thought put
things in the right relation and gave the effect of a view from a higher

There were many times when they did not discuss, but gave themselves to
the joy of young things. They sailed, and Madeline held the tiller;
and, when evening came on, they curled down with cushions in the bottom
of the boat and sang and chattered the twilight out. They played golf
and tennis, and the blood leaped in their veins, for whatever they did,
they did it with heart and soul. As for their relations with one
another, these were taken for granted, and what they meant, not one of
the three stopped to question. It was enough that they were sweet and
satisfying in silence.

Late in the season there came a Sunday, memorable to Ellery, when Dick
had gone away for some purpose, and, after a little self-questioning,
Norris ventured alone for his afternoon with Madeline. She welcomed him
with such serene unconsciousness that he wondered why he had hesitated.

"I'm not so good a sailor as Dick, Miss Elton," he said. "Will you trust
yourself with me?"

"Being an independent young woman, I'm willing to depend on you."

"A truly feminine position."

"It means that I am quite capable of seizing the helm myself if you
should fail me," she laughed.

"And I am masculine enough to determine that you shall get it only by
favor, not by necessity," he retorted.

"That suits me quite well," Madeline answered gravely.

"And you are not apprehensive of storms in the vague far-away?"

"Don't. I'm so contented with things as they are that I do not want to
think of far-aways or of anything that means change."

"You are satisfied with to-day?" he persisted.


Ellery flushed with traitorous rejoicing that Dick was absent. It was a
day of sunshine--not the ardent blaze of summer, but the crisp glow of
October that seems all light with little heat. The lake was so pale as
to be hardly blue, and girdled with soft yellow, touched only here and
there with the intenser red of the rock maples. Back farther from shore
rose the tawny bronze of oaks. The light breeze flung the _Swallow_
along with those caressing wave-slaps that are the sleepiest of sounds.

To sail under that sky, with Madeline leaning on her elbow near at hand,
they two separated from the rest of the world by wide waters, was like a
brief experience of Paradise. Ellery watched the light tendril of hair
that touched her cheek, lifted itself and touched again, near that
lovely curve above her ear. The cheek was warm and creamy but untouched
by deeper color. He fell into that mood of blessed silence that, as a
rule, comes only when one is solitary.

As they rounded at the dock he came back to himself with a sudden wonder
if she had missed the titillation of Dick's chatter, for she had been as
silent as he.

"I'm afraid I have been very dull. I enjoyed myself so much that I
forgot to try to amuse you."

"It's been a heavenly sail, exactly to match the day," Madeline answered
with a deep contented sigh that filled him with delight. "I was this
moment thinking what a comfort it was to know you well enough so that I
didn't have to talk. It's a test of comradeship, isn't it?"

As they smiled at each other, his heart leaped with the consciousness of
a bond below the surface.

He treasured this crumb of her kindness, not because she was niggardly,
but because there was little that belonged to him and to him alone.
Sometimes, in the rush and roar of the office, came the memory of her
eyes and her voice of assurance.

"What will our comradeship be like, when--when she is Dick's wife?" he
questioned himself, and then fell to work with fury.

Thus the delightful summer died into the past; there came a winter only
less good, with its dinners and dances, with quiet fireside evenings,
and yet another summer of the same close friendship that began to take
on the semblance of a permanent thing in life, all the richer as
experience grew deeper and knowledge wider and the best things dearer.

Whether they read or sang or discussed, though the world saw little
done, these three young people had the inestimable happiness of knowing
one another.



Along the wide straight street of the city surged the usual shopping
crowd. Largely petticoated was it, for o'daytimes man must be busy at
his office that woman may have this privilege of going shopping. Surely
there is no other stream in the wide world that is so monotonous as this
human never-ending current. The same types, the same clothes, the same
subjects of conversation in the fragments that catch the ear. And seldom
does one see a face that looks even cheerful, much less happy,--all
intent on matching ribbons.

    "The world is too much with us; late and soon;
    Getting and spending we lay waste our powers."

Thus might they cry aloud, if they were condemned to proclaim their
sins, like the long banner of bat-like souls that Dante saw passing in
similar fashion beneath his eye.

And yet, in spite of its monotony, humanity is perennially interesting
to itself. Therefore among the strenuous, the hurrying, and the
anxious-eyed, one girl loitered on dilatory foot from wide window to
wide window.

"Girl" seems an inadequate word to describe Lena Quincy. It may be
applied to any youthful feminine person, and Lena, in spite of her
carefully-groomed shabbiness, was by no means one of the herd. She
affected one like a bit of Tiffany glass, shimmering, iridescent,
ethereal; and no ugliness in her surroundings could take away that

Every one who looked at her at all looked twice. She had grown so used
to this tribute that it hardly affected her unless it came from one who
merited her interest in return.

Now she was wandering from one to another of the ladies with the waxen
faces, the waxen hands and the wooden hearts, who gazed back unmoved
from behind their plate-glass; though it was not the fixed and amiable
smiles of the lay-figures that caught her attention, but rather the
curious way in which this one's braid was laid on the gown, or the new
device in buttons, there beyond.

Now she turned and studied the human flux in front. She was not
shopping, save in sweet imagination. This was her theater, and she was
fain to make the show last as long as possible. Her absorbent gaze saw
everything. Yet it was selective too, for it passed swiftly over the
chaff of the shabby and fixed itself on the wheat of the properly
gowned. Sometimes she wove romances about her swiftly-disappearing
actors, romances not of heart and soul but of garments, of splendors and
of money; but even such entrancing tissues of her brain vanished like
pricked soap-bubbles when there passed in the body one of those select
few whose skirts proclaimed perfection. Could dreams stand against
reality? Yet the dreams were blissful, though, when they were gone, the
girl was left steeped in the bitterness of envy.

It is said that there is a consolation in being well-dressed that
religion itself can not afford. It is to be remembered that there is
also the pharisaism which always forms a hard shell about every kernel
of religion; and the pharisaism of the correct costume is the most
complacent of all forms of self-righteousness. Lena's lips grew
positively pale as she saw it pass, drawing its rustling petticoats
close to its side. She hungered and thirsted for this form of

It was early April, and there was a savage nip in the air, for Winter
shook his fist at the world long after he dared to come out of his lair.
Spring refused to sit in his lap for more than an instant, but leaped
from that affectionate position, ashamed of her intimacy with the hoary
sinner, and the buds swelled slowly and swelled exceeding small.

Other women hurried, but Lena did not feel the cold except when she saw
a set of magnificent Russian sables with a cordial invitation to "Buy
now". Her eyes suddenly filled with tears at her own impotence. Why had
God created her such as she was and then denied her the perquisites of
her desires? It was as though nature should make the heart of a rose and
should leave off all the out-shaken wealth of petals, whose reflected
lights and shadows make the flower's heart lovely.

With the mist clearing from her eyes Lena walked onward to the next big
sheet of glass, and looked through a wealth of Easter hats and bonnets
at the mirror that was meant to manifold their charms. She did not see
the millinery, but there was comfort in the really good glass, not like
her parody at home which cast a pale green tinge over a distorted image.

On Lena nature had really spent herself. The very texture of her skin
made the fingers itch to caress its transparent delicacy that let
through a tender flush. Every curve of her body suggested hidden beauty,
and the way she turned her head on her shoulders left one feeling how
music and painting fall short of expressing the loveliest loveliness.
But, having accomplished a miracle, fate had left it without a meaning
and thrown it on an ash heap. No wonder that it resented its position.

Every man who passed Lena on the street looked at her; some of them
spoke to her; but she was possessed of a self-respect that kept her from
responding to such overtures. She prided herself on her virtue. Certain
it was that the admiration of the other sex never set her vibrating with
delicate emotions, never increased by a single beat the pulses of her
heart, except when it suggested some definite benefit to herself. With
reason, Lena congratulated herself on her firm resistence to the
many-formed temptations that come to beauty housed with poverty.

Now, as she looked in the milliner's glass, she saw her own face,
rose-like and delicate. She saw the great violet eyes, so innocent that
they almost persuaded herself, as they did others, that some creature
more celestial than ordinary humanity wondered from behind them at the
world. She saw the fair soft curls that clung about her forehead, and
the sight of these things gave a momentary peace to her soul. Then she
surveyed the dingy felt hat that rested brutally on the silken wonder of
her hair, and rebellion rose again.

"It's a comfort that my collar fits so well," she reassured herself.
"After all, there is nothing more important than a collar. I don't look
in the least 'common'."

Among the hats stood a photograph of a popular actress, pert and pretty.
The sight of it sent Lena's thoughts afield into new wastes of

The idea of the stage had once come to her like an inspiration. Nothing
could be more easy and natural to her than to act; nothing more
delectable than the tribute paid to the star. Money, flowing gowns,
footlights, tumults of applause had seemed inevitable. Lena shivered
now, with something else than cold inside her flimsy jacket, as she
remembered the crumbling of her dream. She saw again the fat man with
the sensual mouth who had given her a job; and felt again her tingling
resentment when she found how small the part was, and how poorly paid.
She remembered how she had held herself aloof from the other girls, who,
like herself, had trivial parts, and how they had snubbed her in return;
how even the little that she did was made ridiculous through the trick
of a hook-nosed, gum-chewing rival, and how the first audience that she
faced had tittered at her stumble. A wave of heat succeeded the shiver
at this point in her remembrance. Then she recalled her impertinent
answer to the vituperation of the manager, and how he had sworn at her
for a damned minx, who thought herself a professional beauty.

"Vulgar! Vulgar! Vulgar!" she said to herself in impotent anger. She
wished they could all know how she despised them. For she could act! She
was still sure that she could play any part--except that of patient
endurance. Yet, so far, hardship was all that life had offered her. A
chance! That was it. So far, she had never had a ghost of a chance.
Would fate--or luck--or Providence--or whatever it is that rules, never
give her a turn of the wheel?

Next to the art of the milliner was displayed the art, less interesting
to Lena, of the brush. Before the picture store a span of horses shook
their jingling harness, and a brightly-buttoned coachman waited, with
impassive face turned steadily to the front. There came from the doorway
a girl who was lifted above the pharisaism of clothes into the purer
ether. She was calm-eyed and well-poised, and Lena hated her for the
rest of her life for her obliviousness of the sordid. Behind her walked
a young man who now opened the carriage door and lingered a moment and
laughed as he talked with the girl who had taken her seat. Lena
involuntarily drew her feet closer beneath her skirts that no careless
glance of that girl should fall upon their shabbiness. She looked at the
man as she looked at the Russian sables. He was a type of that
delectable world from which she was shut out.

"I should be ashamed to be silly about fellows, the way some girls are,"
was her inward comment. "But I'd just like to have people see me with a
thing like that dangling around me. And I shall, some time. I'm a whole
heap prettier than she is."

The carriage door shut abruptly. Lena's too thin boots, out of plumb,
suddenly slipped on a half-formed piece of ice. She made a desperate
grab at the smooth surface of the window and then came ignominiously
down--not wholly ignominiously, however, since her accident brought to
her aid the man who was a type.

She didn't have to stop to consider that the man would notice neither
her hat nor her boots. She knew it instinctively and instantly. But the
rose-petal face and the big eyes were overwhelmingly present to her
consciousness. She saw them reflected in the look on his face as he bent
over her.

"I hope you're not hurt."

"Not in the least. Only humiliated." Lena smiled, because people are
always attracted by cheerfulness.

"You are sure you have not twisted your ankle?" he insisted.

"Nothing but my hat and my hair," she pouted. "Thank you for coming to
my rescue."

"It wasn't much of a rescue," he said.

"Are you sorry I didn't have a tragedy and give you a chance to play
hero?" she inquired naïvely.

"When you are in need, may I be the one to help?" he said with growing

Lena flushed and nodded as he lifted his hat and was gone. She walked
slowly homeward, actually forgetting to stop at her favorite window in
the lace store, so occupied was she with the latest story she was
telling herself. It was a story in which a large house with soft rugs
and becoming pink lights occupied the foreground, and somewhere in the
background hovered a man who was a type and who loved to spend money on
diamonds. The vision was so lovable that she lived with it all the way,
even through the narrow entrance of the lodging-house and up the narrow
stairs, saturated with obsolete smells--smells of dead dinners--to the
very instant when she opened the upper door and faced bald reality and
her mother. Mrs. Quincy sat by the window in a room on the walls of
which the word "shabby" was written in a handwriting as plain, and in
language far simpler than ever Belshazzar saw on the walls of Babylon.
It fairly cried itself from the big-figured paper, peeling along its
edges; from the worn painted floor; from the frayed rug of now
patternless carpet; from the sideboard that looked like a parlor organ.
Even from the closet door it whispered that there was more shabbiness
hidden in the depths.

Mrs. Quincy herself was a part of it, for she was to Lena what the faded
rose is to the opening one, a once beautiful woman, whose skin now
looked like wrinkled cream.

Lena shut the door and came in without speaking. She flung her hat and
coat on the bed in the corner, where a forlorn counterpane showed by the
hollows and hills beneath that it had given up all attempt to play even.
The girl sat down listlessly with her hands in her lap.

"You've been gone a long time, Lena," said the mother in a delicately
querulous voice. "You're fortunate to be able to get out instead of
being cooped up in this little room the way I am." Mrs. Quincy coughed
with conscious pathos. "I sometimes wonder if you ever think of your
poor mother and how lonely she is most of the time. But I'd ought to be
used to people's always forgetting me."

"Much I have to come home to!" Lena answered. "You're about as cheerful
as barbed wire. But you can comfort yourself! I shan't be able to go
out at all much longer, any way."

"Why, what's the matter now?"

"Do you expect me to wear a felt hat all summer?" Lena asked sharply.
"I'm ashamed to be seen in that old thing and I should think you'd be
ashamed to be so stingy with me."

Her mother sighed and lapsed into the creaking comfort of her

"I ain't stingy," she said at last. "But if you had your way you'd spend
every last cent of the pension the very day it comes. I've got to look
out we don't starve. If you'd only make up your mind to work and earn a
little instead of livin' so pinched! I'm sure I'd work if I could. But
there! there ain't nothing for me to do but to set and suffer, and
nobody knows what I endure."

"I wasn't born to be a working girl," said Lena sullenly. "I've got the
blood of a lady if I haven't got the clothes of one."

"Well, when it comes to eating and drinking, blood don't count much.
Everybody's got the same appetite."

"No, everybody hasn't," retorted the girl. "I haven't any appetite for
canned baked-beans and liver."

"You eat them, anyway."

"I know it, worse luck!"

There was a tingling silence for a moment and then Lena spoke with
sudden energy.

"Mother, what can I do? I'm not one of those girls who can go ahead and
don't care. I haven't been brought up as they have. The only thing
you've taught me is that my father was a gentleman and that I am a
beauty. And what good does that do me?"

"Teachin' is respectable."

"I can't teach. I couldn't pass a teacher's examination to save my life.
I don't know how to do anything. And I won't sink below the level of
decent society. I'd starve first. Do you suppose I haven't thought it
all over a hundred times?"

"You can sew very nicely. I'm sure everything you make has real style."

"Go into a shop at starvation wages to make pretty things for other
girls to wear? I stopped along near Madame Cerise's to-day and looked at
some of the girls near the window, with their hair all lanky and their
faces sunk in, working for dear life on finery. Mother, is that what you
want for me?"

There was hungry appeal in Lena's voice, that some mothers would have
felt; but Mrs. Quincy was not on the lookout for other people's shades
of emotion.

"Well, if you'd any sense you'd take Joe Nolan, as I've told you fifty
times if I've told you once. He's got real good wages, and you could
twist him around your little finger."

Lena's teeth came together with a click.

"Joe! Well, perhaps, when there's nothing else left but the poorhouse.
It's pretty tough if I have to marry a mechanic."

"Joe's a good deal of a man. He won't always be a mechanic, Lena. He's
got too much ambition."

"He may, or he may not. Anyway, he'll bear the marks of a mechanic all
his days. I'm not his kind."

Lena rose and went across the room to lean on the little dressing-table
and survey herself in the old green glass. This was her panacea for
every woe. The little pucker in her forehead straightened itself out.

"Look at me, mother," she demanded, turning around. "Do you think all
this is meant to scrub and sew and cook for the foreman in locomotive
works? Because I don't."

She was smiling, but her mother did not smile in return.

"I believe I was most as pretty as you are when I was a girl," Mrs.
Quincy said. "And that was all the good it did. I thought I was making a
grand marriage when I got your father; but he seemed to sort of flatten
out and lose all his ambition after we was married. He didn't seem to
care about anything, though I used to give him my opinion pretty plain.
And it's mighty little he left me when he was took," she added

Her daughter eyed her speculatively.

"Well, I'm not going to be taken in the way you were," she said sharply.
"You thought a good old name and a promising career were enough; and
father didn't keep his promises. I want money and not the promise of

"And where will you find him?" sniffed Mrs. Quincy, to whom "it" and
"he" were synonymous. "I don't notice any millionaires crowding up to
you, for all your big eyes and your great opinion of yourself."

"That's just it. If I could only meet them!" Lena got up and walked
restlessly about the room. Her eyes fell on the last night's copy of the
_Star_, opened to that chatty column headed "Woman's Fancies". She had
read it with absorbed interest. Her body halted now, for the muscles
often stop work when the mind becomes possessed of a great idea. She
stood for a long time and looked from the unwashed window-pane while a
new resolve slowly hardened itself within.

"I'll try, I'll try, I'll try," she said to herself, and her heart
thumped uncomfortably. "And if I take it to the office myself, when they
see me perhaps they--"

Aloud she said nothing, for she had early learned the great lesson that
the best way of getting her own will with her mother was to do what she
wished first and argue about it afterward.

"What have we got for supper, mother?" she asked.

"Nothing," said Mrs. Quincy sharply.

"Nothing? Well, give me some money and let me go and get something."

Mrs. Quincy reluctantly lifted her skirt and began to explore her
petticoat below. She shook open the mouth of a pocket into which she
dived to return with a knotted handkerchief. Lena looked on impatiently
as the knot was slowly untied and a small hoard of silver disclosed.

"There," said Mrs. Quincy. "You can take this quarter, Lena, and do get
something nourishing. Don't buy cream-cakes. I feel the need of what
will stay my stomach."

"I'll get baked-beans," answered the girl with a short laugh.

"Yes, do. I shan't have another cent till next pay-day comes. We've got
to make this last. Get some tea, Lena--green, remember. The beans won't
cost more than twelve cents. I don't see how you can have a new hat."

"Well, give me ten cents, anyway," Lena answered with unexpected

"What do you want it for?"

"Please, mammy," Lena said coaxingly. "I won't buy cream-cakes or
anything to eat. I want to invest in a gold mine."

Mrs. Quincy gave her a sharp look and grudgingly handed out a dime; for
Lena's voice was instinct with hope, and hope was such a rare visitor in
the dingy little lodgings that Mrs. Quincy grew generous under its
magnetic warmth.

"Now what'd you want that ten cents for?" she asked curiously when the
girl came back. "My land! Only paper and pencil? I thought you was going
to do something grand."



About a month after Lena had made her investment in the raw materials of
the writer's art, Dick Percival happened to drop into the sooty and
untidy office where for more than a year Norris had been engaged in
manufacturing public opinion.

"Hello!" he cried as he opened the door. Then he stood transfixed at the
vision that met his sight, for a very blond and fuzzy head was bent over
Ellery's desk and a very startled pair of blue eyes was raised to meet
his own. There stood a rosebud dressed in gray. Is there anything more
demure and innocent than a pinky girl in a mousy gown? Dick's hat came
off and a deferential look replaced the careless one.

"Hello, yourself!" said Norris. "You announce yourself like a telephone
girl. Come in. What do you mean by troubling the quiet waters of my
daily toil?"

"I beg your pardon," said Dick politely. "If you are busy I--"

"That's all right. Miss Quincy and I can postpone our confab without
inconveniencing the order of the universe." Miss Quincy was already
gathering her notes, and she smiled at Dick in a half-shy way that said,
"I remember you very plainly." As she disappeared slowly down the hall,
Dick started after her.

"Great Scott, Ellery!" he ejaculated. "How you have lied to me about the
grubbiness of your work! If this is your daily grind, I don't mind
having a whirl at the editorial profession myself."

Norris laughed.

"It isn't the sum total of my duties," he said.

"Who is Hebe?" asked Dick.

"Well, she's rather a problem," Ellery replied. "I believe she appeared
a few weeks ago at Miss Huntress' office--the woman editor, you
know--with a catchy little article on fashions. It happened that the
boss was in the office, and we consider it rather a grind on him, for he
was much taken by either the article or the eyes, and she got a little
job as a sort of reportorial maid-of-all-work. Funny, isn't it? If a
man is buying a rug, he wouldn't think of deciding on it because it was
green, without testing its wearing qualities; but in nine cases out of
ten a girl gets chosen because of her eyes. That's all I know about her.
Pretty, isn't she?"

"Pretty! Is that all the command you have of your native language? You
ought to lose your job for that. Why she's--never mind--I haven't time

"Neither have I," answered Norris sharply. He remembered that long ago
Dick had called Madeline pretty. It is a cheap and easy word. "I haven't
time for you, either. Will you go away; or will you keep still while I
finish this work?"

"Waltz away." Dick sat down on the window-sill and fell into a
meditative state of mind. Once or twice he walked to the door and looked
down the hall, while Norris plugged steadily away and ignored the
presence of his friend.

After a prolonged silence, Dick spoke again, solemnly:

"I should like to meet her."


"Miss--Quincy, did you call her?"

"Oh! Isn't she rather out of your class?"

"Pshaw! Don't talk of classes, now that you're out of college. Do you
know anything about her?"

"Nothing," said Ellery shortly. "I don't consider it my business to go
beyond my official relations."

"Well, I haven't any business relations not to go beyond," said Dick.
"So I mean to pursue the inquiry."

"Do as you like," Ellery answered. "Is that what you came down here to
talk about?"

"No," said Dick, changing his manner. "I came to talk up an editorial
campaign. You don't know my chum, Olaf Ericson, do you? He's the biggest
man on the force, and he's a corker. I've learned more from him about
bad smells than I did in two years of chemistry at New Haven. He knows
this town from the seventh sub-cellar up, and 'him and me is great
friends'. Seriously, Norris, I've begun to get hold of just the facts I
wanted about 'the combine', and it's information that is so very
definite and to the point that I believe I can make it hot for them. I
want the public to be kept informed on everything that is to their
discredit. Now the _Star_ is a fairly clean paper, as papers go. I want

"You'll have to go up higher for that, my boy. It's not for a freshman
like myself to direct the policy of the paper. It would be a pretty
serious matter to run up against those fellows. Mr. Lewis, the old man,
is out, but when he comes back we'll go and have a talk with him."

"Talk to him! I should think so!" Dick exclaimed, and he began to pace
the room and pour out the floods of his information, in wrath of soul
and glow of spirits at his resolve to clean things up.

Meanwhile in Miss Huntress' office, farther down the hall, Lena was
discussing with that determined person the possibility of supplying the
public with more of the kind of literature for which women, in
particular, are supposed to have a mad desire. Miss Huntress was an
adept at filling her page with personalities by which those who know
nobody may have almost as great a knowledge of the great as those who
have achieved the proud distinction of being "in it". Lena had written a
highly successful series of articles on "St. Etienne as seen from the
shop windows," and she longed for new and similar fields to conquer.

"I've been wondering," said Miss Huntress, "if you couldn't get up some
catchy little things on private libraries and picture galleries. If you
can raise some photographs to go with them, you might make quite a hit.
That's the kind of thing that takes. You see it makes people able to
talk about the inside of rich folk's houses."

"I suppose you would want me to begin with Mr. Early," said Lena, hardly
knowing what reply to make.

"Never mind Mr. Early. Everybody knows just what he's got and how his
place looks. You might include him later, but I should start with people
who are more exclusive and yet whose names everybody knows. Now there's
Mr. Windsor and Mrs. Percival. By the way, Mr. Norris is awfully
intimate at the Percivals'. Perhaps he'd help you to an introduction. If
Mrs. Percival would let you write up her library, you may be sure
there'd be a lot of others who would follow her example. You might try
it, anyway. Go and see her. Tell her what a hard time you are having to
earn your own living. Your looks will carry you a long way."

"I think young Mr. Percival is in Mr. Norris' office now. Some one came
in while I was there and I think he called him Percival," said Lena

"Say! is that so?" exclaimed Miss Huntress. "Now's your chance! Go in
and ask while he's there. He'll find it hard to refuse to your face."

"You go," interposed Lena. "If I go, it will look as though I knew. But
you can walk in all innocent."

Therefore the conversation on matters which were to change the destiny
of a city was interrupted by a smart knock on the assistant editor's
door, and Miss Huntress, eminently self-possessed, walked in on the two
young men.

"Beg pardon, Mr. Norris, I didn't know you had any one here," she began.
"But I won't keep you a moment. The truth is, I want a series of
articles on the private libraries of the city, and, knowing that you are
acquainted with Mrs. Percival, I thought you'd help the paper to an
opening there."

"Let me introduce Mr. Percival," said Norris. "He can give you more
information than I can."

"Well, this is lucky!" ejaculated Miss Huntress.

"Our library isn't a show affair," Dick said stiffly. "My mother, I am
sure, would be very unwilling to submit to that kind of a write-up. My
father was a book-lover, not a book-fancier. It's essentially a private

"I'm sorry you feel that way about it," Miss Huntress rejoined equably.
"Of course, nowadays, I can't admit that there's any such thing as
privacy. And it isn't only that I want the articles, Mr. Percival. I
want to help along a girl that needs the work, and an awfully nice girl
she is. We haven't any regular job for her, and all I can do is to throw
odd bits of work in her way. She has an old mother to support, and it
would be a real charity to her if you'd look at it in that light. Miss
Quincy is a perfect lady, and you may be sure she'd take no advantage of
you to write up anything sensational or impertinent."

Dick started and glanced consciously at Norris, who grinned back.

"Of course that puts another light on it," Mr. Percival said after a
decent pause, and trying to compose his face to a judicial expression.
"I'd hate to put a stumbling-block in the way of a girl like that.
Ah-um--I'll speak to my mother about it, Miss Huntress, and I dare say
I can persuade her to allow it."

"That's very good of you," Miss Huntress answered,--with sad
comprehension that a complexion like Lena's was a great aid to a
literary career. "You couldn't manage to let Miss Quincy go up this
afternoon, could you?" she went on with characteristic energy in pushing
an advantage. "It would be a good thing if she could get her first stuff
ready for the Saturday-night issue."

"My mother, I suppose, is driving this afternoon," Dick said
hesitatingly. He went through a hasty calculation and saw reasons for
cutting out certain of his own engagements. "See here, Miss Huntress, if
you're in such a hurry, I don't mind taking Miss Quincy up and telling
her what I know about old editions and rare folios. I'll make it right
with mother afterward."

Miss Huntress' face cleared perceptibly.

"You're awfully good, Mr. Percival. Won't you come down to my office
now, and I'll introduce you to Miss Quincy? This is a real favor." Dick
shot a glance of triumph at Ellery, believing himself a skilled sly dog
of a manipulator, and not knowing that he was the manipulated. Norris
spoke in scorn.

"I suppose righteousness and reform can wait now."

"You can bet they will. I'll call on you to-morrow afternoon, Norris."

"That's the usual fate of reform. Don't be a fool, Dick." But Dick was
already disappearing down the corridor in pursuit of the able woman

The girl waiting in the disordered office looked more than ever like a
bridesmaid rose, pink and ruffled and out of its proper setting, as she
saw Mr. Percival coming.

"Miss Quincy," said Dick, "I have a motor down stairs, and I'll take you
up to the house right away, if you don't mind."

If she didn't mind!

When youth starts out to revolutionize the world, it meets with many
distractions. Even in the hour that Dick spent in the quiet old library
with Miss Quincy, he met with distractions. He tried to keep her mind on
missals and Aldine editions, but she persisted in poring over old copies
of _Godey's Lady's Book_, which she found tucked away in a forgotten
corner. Nobody but Lena could have scented them out.

"The fashions are so funny, Mr. Percival!" she insisted. "Do look at
these preposterous hoop-skirts and the little short waists. Did you say
that no one knows how that gold leaf was put on that ugly old book? How
absurd! I must put that down. I suppose that is the kind of thing I have
to write up."

"Be sure you don't get mixed up and describe monkish fichus and gold
leaf on the bias, or you'll be everlastingly disgraced in the office."

"Never mind. I'll learn your horrid old pieces of information in a few
minutes. Do let me look at this a little longer," Lena answered so
prettily, and pointed with so dainty a finger, and glanced up so
pathetically, that Dick too became absorbed in _Godey's Lady's Book_.

"Weren't they frightful guys?" Lena went on. "But I dare say the men of
that time--what is the date?--1862--thought they were lovely."

"Very likely, poor men! You see they hadn't the privilege of knowing the
girls of to-day and they thought their own women were the top-notch."

"Now you are horrid and sarcastic," said Lena.

"Never a bit. I find it impossible to believe that there was ever
before so much beauty in the world. There was here and there a pretty
girl, like Helen of Troy, and they made an awful fuss over her."

"But she must have been really wonderful."

"Yes, if a girl is as much run after as that, she must either be a
raving beauty or else she lives in the far West."

"But, you know, there aren't so very many real beauties nowadays, are
there?" She glanced sidewise at him in an adorable manner.

"I can't remember more than one--or two," said Dick judicially.

Lena laughed softly.

"I think it must have been very nice to be one of the few and be made a
fuss over, instead of--"

"Instead of what?"

"Instead of having to grub and struggle for your bread," Lena
answered,--and there was a misty look in the big eyes she turned up to

"Poor little girl!" said Dick. "You certainly are not of the kind who
ought to battle with the world. Haven't you any man who could shelter
you a little?"

Lena shook her head, with an air of patient suffering.

"My father is dead," she said. "He was of a good family, as you might
know by my name, but he was wounded in the war, and he never got over
it. Of course he was very young then. He wasn't married till long
afterward. He died when I was a little thing."

"That was the history of my father, too!" Dick felt a glow of kindred
experience. "See, that is his portrait over the mantel."

Lena looked very lovely and spiritual as she gazed up at the quiet face
that looked back at her, and Dick watched her. Then she drew a full
breath and turned her eyes on him.

"You are like him," she said softly, and something in her voice made the
words a thrilling tribute.

Then she added: "Yes, but he left you in comfort, and we--my mother and

"Will you let me come to see your mother some time?"

Lena's heart beat fast with mingled fear and hope, but all Dick saw was
a startled and sweet surprise.

"I should be almost ashamed to have you come," she said with a soft
blush and a look of shy invitation. "We are so poor and we live in such
a shabby place."

"If your shabbiness comes because of your father's sacrifice for his
country it is something to be proud of," Dick answered.

Through Lena's mind there passed a swift memory of quarrels and
bickerings, of daily smallnesses, which were her chief recollection of
her father. She looked frankly up into Dick's face.

"Yes," she said. "That ought to make it easy to bear. Now I must not
talk about myself any more. What did you tell me about that funny old

"And I may come to see you and your mother?" Dick persisted.

"If you do not forget us to-morrow,"--Lena glanced at him out of the
corner of her eyes in a way calculated to make him remember.

"I shan't forget," said Dick.

He took out a small note-book and wrote down the address she gave him.
And she gave herself a little shake and pulled out a much larger
note-book. "I ought not to waste my time and yours this way, but, you
see, I'm not much of a business woman. I sometimes forget altogether."

Dick thought her very preposterous and charming as she set to work with
an air of severity; and so she was--the last thing on earth made to do
serious work. They leaned together over one treasure after another, in
that electric nearness that moves youth so easily, and sends a tingling
sensation up the backbone.

When she suddenly rose, her cheeks were pinker and more transparent than
ever, and her eyes softer and dreamier.

"Let me take you home in the motor," said Dick.

"Dear me, no," Lena exclaimed. "I'm afraid you think me entirely too
informal already. I--I'm so stupid and impulsive. I'm always doing wrong
things and not thinking till afterward. Good-by, and thank you, Mr.

After he had bowed her out, Dick plunged into a big chair and spent a
few moments in analyzing his own character. He perceived that in some
ways he differed from most of his friends. Now Ellery and Madeline and
most of the others lived along certain conventional lines, with certain
fixed interests and habits. That kind of existence would be intolerable
to him. He liked to star his days with all kinds of colored incidents
that had no particular relation to his main work. He liked to run down
every by-path, explore it a bit, and then come back to the highway.
Those small excursions were apt to take a man into leafy dells where
there were ferns and flowers too shy to fringe the dusty plodding
thoroughfare. Dick liked that figure. It revealed to him a certain
lightness of heart and poetry in himself that distinguished him from the
prosy grubbers. This sprinkling of life with episodes was like a little
tonic. It kept him vivid and alive.

Take this very afternoon just passed. It meant little, of course, either
to him or to the pretty little pathetic reporter girl, but it had
injected a bit of pleasure into her routine, and given him an insight
into another kind of maiden from the well-kept, sheltered women he knew
best. Such things help a man's larger sympathies. He was glad that he
could enjoy many types of men and women.

A rumble of wheels outside brought him out of this particular by-path
into the highway.

"What a dispensation that the mater didn't come home in the middle of
it!" he said with a sigh of satisfaction.



According to his promise, Dick presented himself at Ellery's office on
the next afternoon. He wore a brisk and moving air.

"Miss Quincy is not here to-day," Norris said without looking up.

"I know it," Dick answered promptly. "Are you through yet?"

"I've finished with the ephemeræ of this particular Tuesday, and before
I begin on those of Wednesday, I have a few precious moments to waste on
you." Ellery wheeled his chair around.

"Do you know that this is Decoration Day and a holiday?"

"Is there anything a sub-editor does not know?"

"Have you ever been to the Falls of Wabeno?"


"And you call yourself a true citizen of St. Etienne? Come with me and
see the populace chew gum amid scenes of natural beauty."

"I thought we were going to agitate civic reform."

"We'll agitate as we go along. Come, Ellery, it's a superb day. I feel
like the bursting buds. Let's get out."

"My dear Dick," said Norris, "the trouble with you is that you never
want to do anything; you always want to do something else. I begin to
think that there are compensations to a man in having fate hold his nose
to the grindstone. He learns persistence, willy-nilly."

"Stop your growling. Up, William, up, and quit your galley-proof. I am
willing to bet that my flashes in the pan will do things before I am

"I dare swear they will get way ahead of my grubbing," Ellery rejoined,
slamming his desk. "Come, I'll go with you."

On the southern outskirts of the city lay a park where art had done no
more than retouch nature. Here a placid stream suddenly transformed
itself into an imposing waterfall, plunging with roars over a rocky
cliff, and sending its spray whirling high in air to paint a hundred
illusive rainbows amid outstretching tree-branches or against a somber
background of stone.

Dick left his motor near the brink of the cliff above the Falls and the
two climbed down the steep bank, stopping now and again to yield to the
fascination of rushing water and to snuff the fresh-flying mist as it
swept into their faces.

Caught in the gully below, the stream, which had suddenly contracted a
habit of unruliness, tumbled onward under trees and through overhanging
rocks until it joined the Mississippi a half-mile away.

There were other people, hordes of them, tempted by May sunshine.

"What is it, Ellery," Dick demanded, "what deep-seated idealism is it
that draws these crowds to the most beautiful spot near town as soon as
spring offers more than half an invitation?"

"It certainly isn't a poetry that crops out in their clothes or in their
conversation," Norris grumbled. "The staple remark seems to be, 'Gee,
ain't it pretty?'"

"You mustn't expect to see aristocracy here; this is too cheap, and too
easy to reach. Your aristocrat prefers less beauty at greater effort
and more cost. This is the place to touch elbows with the populace."

They had climbed down the long winding steps by this time, and were
leaning against the parapet of a small rustic bridge that crossed below
the Falls.

"Let's sit down on that bench," said Dick, "and let the sunshine trickle
through the trees and through us, and feel the spray in our nostrils,
and delight in hanging maidenhair ferns, and watch the girls go by--the
girls in pink and blue dresses, each leaning on the arm of a swain who
grins. It's vastly more fun than a fashionable parade."

The branches met overhead, darkening the narrow chasm; the steep banks
were spattered with dutchman's breeches that fluttered like butterflies
poised for a moment; down stream a few yards, where the valley widened,
lay a tiny meadow where the sun fell full on a carpet of crow-foot
violets that gave back the May sky. Two squirrels chased each other
around a big maple, and a blue jay looked on and commented.

"Why is this stream of girls and men out for their holiday like baked
ice-cream?" asked Dick. "That isn't a conundrum; it's a philosophic

"I know, they give you the same sense of incongruity," Ellery answered

"But I like them," Dick pursued. "I like a great many more kinds of
people than you do, Norris. You are narrow-minded. You want to associate
only with the good and true and bathed."

"Oh, I wish well to the majority of the race, but there are some that I
do not care to eat with."

Something in Ellery's voice made his friend turn and survey him.

"You look tired. You're working too hard. Don't make the western mistake
of thinking frazzled nerves mean energy."

"That isn't my kind," Ellery smiled. "I'm all right. Let me spurt for a
while. I got my position through favor, Dick, yours and Uncle Joe's. I
didn't particularly deserve it, and I didn't know anything about the
work; so, for your sake as well as my own, I have determined to make
good. Friendship may give a fellow his chance, but it doesn't hold down
a job, you know."

"Pooh! You've made good already. A man can be tremendously
experienced--for the West--when he's been at a thing a year. Look at me
and my work."

"What do you consider your work? Road inspector?" For, to tell the
truth, Norris was not wholly satisfied with Dick's year of dawdling
around the streets.

"My profession," Dick answered with oracular gravity, "is a combination
of hard work and fine art. It requires both toil and genius. I think I
may say, with all natural modesty, that I have shown great natural
aptitude for it. My profession is making friends. I have made friends
useful and ornamental, friends great and small, friends beautiful and
friends the opposite--which reminds me of your previous question, city
politics. Whom do you suppose I supped with last night?"


"With the Honorable, or by courtesy dubbed Honorable, William Barry,"
Dick replied triumphantly.

"'Piggy' Barry?" ejaculated Ellery, turning on Dick in surprise.
"Alderman Barry? The boss?"

"'Piggy' does somehow sound more appropriate than 'Honorable'," Dick
said meditatively.

"And is he one of the people you like?" questioned Ellery with unfeigned

"For business purposes, yes. If I'm going to get into politics some day,
it becomes me to cultivate local statesmen, doesn't it? I took the great
man to the theater, or at least to something that called itself the
theater, and I gave him an excellent supper afterward. He seemed to
appreciate it and my society."

"I dare say you made yourself agreeable. Do you expect he will help you
in your public career?"

"Not voluntarily, perhaps; but I wanted to know him, better and better.
Under benign influences, he is indiscreet. He reminded me last night of
Louis XIV. He might have said, 'St. Etienne, it is I,' but in his
simpler and less sophisticated language, he was content to remark, 'I'm
the whole damn show, see?'"

"I'm glad he knew enough to put the appropriate adjective before show,"
said Ellery grimly.

"And yet I suspect that, even in that statement, he lied," Dick went on.
"I studied him last night. You'll never persuade me that that man, whose
head is all face and neck, does the intricate planning and wire-pulling
that runs this city. I've an idea Barry is only the two placards on each
side of the sandwich-man. He may be the adjective show, but I doubt if
he's the man."

"Have you discovered who is the real sandwich-man?"

"No, I haven't. My reasoning is inductive. I see numerous little holes
with small tips of threads sticking through them, but when I try to get
hold of the threads to pull them out and examine them, the ends are too
short or my fingers are too big. But get hold of them I shall, sooner or
later, by hook or crook. If I don't give some of those fellows the
slugging of their lives, my name isn't Richard Percival."

"I suspect that it is Richard Percival," said Ellery with a whimsical
glance of affection.

"This, as I read it, is the history," Dick went on. "Six years ago, when
you and I were sub-freshmen, and unable to take an active part, there
was a brief spasm of reform. It was a short episode of fisticuffs and
fighting, which is for a day--a very different thing from governing,
which goes steadily on from year to year. But this reform movement did
result in giving the city a good charter."

"The Garden of Eden was once fitted out with an excellent system of

"Exactly. Charters, left to themselves, do not regulate human nature.
The good citizens of St. Etienne went their own busy business way and
left the less occupied bad citizens to adapt the charter to the needs of
life; and that was an easy job, so easy that it has apparently been
possible for one man to manage it. The charter put great power into the
hands of the mayor. There have been three mayors elected under it, and
they have all been 'friends' of Billy Barry."

"I wonder if the next will be," queried Ellery thoughtfully.

"And the majority of every working committee appointed by the city
council is made of 'friends' of Piggy, who shows a fine disregard of
party lines in his affiliations. William is one more product of this
horseless wireless age--a crownless king."

"What makes you think that he isn't the power he seems?"

"A lot of things. The business interests behind him do not seem to be
wholly his. That is another field for investigation."

"You started yesterday to tell me about a big policeman."

"Yes, Olaf Ericson, with the eyes and mustache of a viking above a blue
uniform. When I met him last he had just had the melancholy duty of
cutting down a poor wretch that had hung himself, and of sending for the
coroner. He told me that the pathetic part of it was that the dead man
was a total stranger in the city; and then he winked and asked if I knew
that though the city paid the coroner his salary, the state guaranteed
an extra fee of 'saxty dollar' to that official for every stranger who
met with sudden death within our limits? I didn't know, but I do now. I
took pains to look up last year's records and, curiously enough, out of
one hundred and seventy-six cases that required the services of a
coroner, one hundred and fifty-one were those of strangers. That would
add about nine thousand dollars to a quite moderate salary. Another
queer thing is that Doctor Niger--the coroner, you know--is Billy
Barry's brother-in-law."

"Great Scott!" said Ellery.

"Great Barry, say I. Now it may be my historic sense, or it may be mere
curiosity, but I mean to hunt up the personal history of those
hundred-odd strangers who died forlorn and lonely within our gates."

"Work quietly, Dick, and get your facts well in hand."

"I intend to. But when I have it all, don't you suppose your chief,
Lewis, will be willing to publish the record?"

"I hope so."

"I dare say the day will come when Barry and I shall cease to be
friends," said Dick cheerfully. "One must submit to the inevitable. But
let's keep the papers dribbling out information to the public. By the
time the coroner story is finished, I expect to have another ready."

"Tell me."

"Not yet. What used old Eddy to preach to us in rhetoric? 'Before you
attempt composition, be sure that you have a rounded thought.' This
isn't round, it's elliptical. Big Olaf is a friend useful. He's a shrewd
fellow, who's been looking stupid for some time. The 'bunch' hasn't been
treating him square. You can guess what that means. Anyway, he is sore
as well as shrewd, and now I fancy he belongs to me."

Norris turned with a start and stared Dick in the face.

"How did you get possession of him?" he asked sharply.

"Well, what if I bought him?"

"Do you mean that you are making up to him what Barry's dirty hands
have failed to give? You are bribing him to act as your spy?"

"I do not suppose there is any harm in my hiring a private detective."

"That depends on whether he is already a public official, and on how you
pay him, and what you pay him for."

"Ellery, those fellows have sentries and pickets and fortifications and
guns always in battle-array against us and our kind. The only thing to
do is to gather hosts and ammunition on the other side."

"True. But there isn't any use in fighting dishonesty with dishonor.
Dick, don't lower your standard to the mere flinging of mud."

But Dick did not appear to listen. His eyes were caught by one of the
passing couples and he sprang to his feet.

"Let's follow the stream a little farther," he said, moving as he spoke.
"The gorge grows wilder and more enticing the farther you go."

He walked hurriedly down the path, and Ellery, whose mind seldom leaped,
but progressed by orderly steps, followed in some bewilderment. An
instant before Dick's face had worn the profound air of a man on whose
shoulders rested mighty problems. Now every movement was boyish and
exultant. He laughed to himself. The stream thundered and one does not
ask a friend to shout out his minor moods, so Ellery forbore to

Suddenly the brook burst through overhanging cliffs of party-colored
sandstone out of its thread-like gorge into the wide chasm of the
Mississippi. A small steamer lay at anchor and tooted a discordant horn
to signify to the world that she intended to be up and doing. A crowd of
phlegmatic-faced revelers stood upon the bank and watched her with
absorbed indifference, while a smaller number pushed aboard and prepared
for true joy by laying in a store of cracker-jack and peanuts at a
diminutive counter.

"Just in time!" Dick ejaculated and he shoved Ellery on to the swaying
deck as the hawsers were swung loose.

They whirled out into mid-stream and exchanged the fine feminine
delights of the brook for the bold masculine ones of the great river,
whose craggy banks rose high, like fortifications, forest-crowned.
Tangles of woodbine, clematis and bitter-sweet sprawled down over
striated rocks. The boat twisted its way through a current that boiled
up from below in whirlpools. Here and there huge logs plunged downward
like water-monsters, as they threaded between wooded islands, where
meek-looking cottontails squatted and twiddled their noses at the
passing craft; on, on, until, far off, loomed the boldest highest cliff
of all, its top crested by a quaint old slit-windowed round tower of a
fort, once a border defense against Chippewa and Sioux, now backed by
the sleek lawns of well-groomed officers.

Ellery looked around at his fellow passengers, contentedly munching
their peanuts and conversing in broad English flavored with Norse. They
were a good-natured assemblage, who choked and snorted and chuckled and
whinnied in their laughter. Norris' eyes were caught by one girl,
conspicuously because plainly dressed. As she turned her profile, he
glanced at Dick. Dick too was staring at her, and even while Ellery eyed
him, he raised his hat and bowed gravely, with a deferential air that
became him.

"So," exclaimed Norris under his breath, "that was why we tore like
madmen to catch this boat!"

"It would have been a pity to lose it," Dick responded innocently. "It
is a delicious bit of scenery from here to the fort. I wanted you to see

"Pink and white scenery with yellow curls," jeered Ellery.

Dick made no reply and Ellery went on.

"She has a young man already. You can't go and take her away from him.
That wouldn't be playing fair."

"The man with her is an oaf. He has a loose mouth that wabbles when he
opens it to pick his teeth."

"So you think that though you may not snatch her bodily, you may make
her wish to be with you instead of with him, and that the wish will lie
fallow in her heart. Dick, you are a student of human nature," Ellery
said, half amused, half irritated.

"I dare say he is a gentleman at heart. Oafs always are."

"What you really do," Ellery continued, "is to make her uncomfortable
and conscious of his clothes and his sprawl. She flushed when she saw
you, and she has been sitting stiffly ever since."

"Oh, drop it, Norris."

Ellery shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't know what you want to do it for," he said. "You're a queer
combination, Dick, of the whole-souled reformer and the abject goose."

"Nothing inconsistent about being a philanthropist and a philogynist. By
Jove! She's pretty in her _malaise_, pink, and pecking like a little
wren at her oaf. Ellery, it's a brute of a shame that such as she should
be cast before him--she, a fine lacy creature who shows her breeding
through it all."

"How much are you in earnest?"

"There you go again!" Dick turned on his friend with a kind of
exasperation. "You belong to that period of social development when they
ask a man's intentions if he looks twice at the girl he dances with. I
don't have to be in earnest, thank Heaven! But when I get a chance to
look at anything so lovely as that girl, I mean to do it, just as I look
at a flower or a picture. I don't mean to lose all the delicious froth
of life. Do you happen to know her first name?"

"Lena," answered Ellery shortly.

"Lena! It's a delicate fragile little name--not meant for a girl who has
to plug her way through life. Her real name is Andromeda, poor
child--chained to the rock and momently expecting the jaws of poverty."

"You know, Dick, the attention that seems like a trifle to you, with a
life full of interests, may look like a serious affair to her."

"See here, old man, you needn't be so snippy. Must I confine my
philanthropy to the old and ugly to keep it above suspicion? I'm just so
far interested in this, and no more, that I'm sorry for that little
girl, and if I saw a chance, I'd do her a good turn, as I pass along;
and if I didn't think more of you than of any other man, I wouldn't give
you the satisfaction of rendering so much of an account of myself."

Ellery was silent and looked at the river with its whirlpools, at the
cliffs, gray with stone and pale green with May, and sometimes at Dick,
who leaned forward with his chin in his hand, apparently absorbed in
thought, but occasionally shooting a glance at Lena who laughed and
chattered with Mr. Nolan in a sort of intermittent fever.

The steamer tooted and splashed at the landing below the fort, and
turned herself about for the return trip. Sand-martins dropped from
their holes in the cliffs and skimmed across the bows, and the breeze
blew fresher as they headed up stream. Still the two friends sat in
silence, though once Percival looked across and laughed, as though he
enjoyed the other's seriousness.

"Norris, you are funny," he said.


"You always see consequences to things."

"Most things have both causes and effects," Ellery retorted, ruffled.

"I deny it," said Dick.

When they creaked at the dock, Dick suddenly pushed forward so that he
almost touched Lena in the crowd that was hurrying to shore.

"Good afternoon, Miss Quincy," he said. "I hope you have enjoyed this
little sail as much as I have."

Knowing that he had watched her ever since they started, she looked up
at him with flushed inquiry.

"Yes, it was lovely," she said.

"Come on, Lena," exclaimed her escort, seizing her arm. "I guess we
ought to hurry. There'll be an awful crowd on the street-cars."

"If you'll allow me," said Dick, "I have an automobile up near the
Falls, and I'd be delighted to--"

"We come by the cars and I guess they're good enough for us to go home
by," Mr. Nolan interrupted roughly. "We're blocking the way here. Come,
Lena." He glowered at Dick's lifted hat and added quite audibly:
"Confound the dude! Thought he could cut in, did he?"

"Now then," said Dick as he dropped back, "the oaf made a mistake. If
he'd gracefully accepted my offer, he'd have gone up several pegs in her
estimation. As it is, when her pretty little feet get trodden on by the
crowd on the back platform, she will view us with regret as we whizz by.
Poor little Andromeda!"

They loitered as the other "trippers", now filled with zeal to catch the
trolley, pushed past them up the glen, and soon they were practically
alone. Nature reasserted her sway as though there had never been
laughter and babble along the musical stream and under the over-arching
trees. The friends walked more and more slowly. A white thing lay on the
path before them, and Dick stooped to pick it up, while Ellery looked on
with mild curiosity.

"It's a letter, stamped and sealed." Percival peered at it closely, for
though the level sunlight flooded the tops of the trees, down here by
the stream it was fast growing dark.

"Not much sealed, either," he added, noticing what a tiny spot of the
flap stuck tight to the paper beneath. "Some one has dropped it here. By
Jove, Ellery, it's addressed to William Barry! I'd give a farm in North
Dakota to know what's in it."

He turned it again and stared at the back.

"I noticed," said Ellery, "that there was a mail-box near where we left
the automobile. You can post it as we go along."

"Yes," assented Dick. He glared at the name of William Barry as though
it fascinated him. Then he tucked the letter into his breast pocket.

As the motor began to champ its bit, Norris remarked:

"You forgot to mail that letter, Dick."

"So I did," said Dick. "No matter. I'll post it in town. It will go all
the quicker."



A full month slipped away after the little excursion down the river
before Dick saw Lena Quincy again. In fact he had almost forgotten her.
That day, if it was recalled at all, was chiefly memorable because it
marked a change in his attitude toward his chosen occupation. It seemed
that revelation after revelation poured upon him. The intricate threads
of city politics fascinated him more and more as he began to understand
whence they led and whither.

But one day on the street Dick met and passed Lena. She gave him a
little bow--wistful, it seemed to him, and she looked tired and thin.
His conscience smote him. He had really meant to do a common kindly
thing to cheer this girl, but it had slipped his mind. That night he
hunted up her address in his note-book and found his way to the dismal

Four cheap-looking young persons were loitering in the parlor, two were
drumming on a piano that was out of tune, and the room smelled fusty.
The assembled group giggled and disappeared upon his entrance, and Lena,
when she came down the stairs, flushing with embarrassment and pleasure,
looked as much out of place as he felt. He stood before her, hat in
hand. It would be impossible to talk to her in such a room.

"Miss Quincy," he said, "it is such a perfect night that it is neither
more nor less than self-torture to stay indoors. Can't you be a bit
unconventional and go out with me to the band concert in the park?" He
remembered that she went about with the oaf.

Lena hesitated. She realized that this call was a crucial affair to her,
though his long delay in coming proved it to be a casual matter to Mr.
Percival. She must make no mistake. In her instant's hesitation, while
her soft eyes were looking inquiringly into his face, she had an

"I should love it, Mr. Percival," she said with that little air of
reserve that set her apart. "But don't you see, I--I--can't go with
you--until--until you know my mother and unless she approves."

"Of course," said Dick, quite unconscious of Lena's play-acting.

Lena turned and twisted a bit of worn blue plush trimming on the shelf
over the gas-log before she showed him a blushing face.

"The only thing I can do is to ask you to come up stairs and meet
mother. She can hardly move about enough to come down."

She led the way with anxiety in her heart as to how her mother would
behave. Would she show irritable astonishment if Lena treated her with
gentle deference, and asked her permission to be out in the evening with
a strange young man? But Mrs. Quincy knew a thing or two as well as her
daughter, and Dick saw only that the room was very ugly, that Lena moved
about with lips compressed and voice gentle and full of tender
consideration, to make her mother as comfortable as possible before she
went away.

"And I shan't keep you up late, mother, dear," Lena said with a final
kiss that made Mrs. Quincy wink to keep back the statement that she saw
herself waiting for the return of her daughter.

The fresh evening air was delicious after this. Dick felt all his
chivalry again stirred. It made no difference that Lena said little to
keep up her share in the conversation. Dick was content to do the
entertaining himself, and satisfied when Lena laughed. He bubbled over
with fancies old and new, and even the old ones took fresh life. The
college stories and jokes that everybody knew, the commonplaces of his
world, set Lena exclaiming with delight. The excitement of the night,
and they two alone in the crowd, made the little girl cling to his arm
for fear they might be separated! There were quieter moments when they
wandered to the outskirts and found a bench for a moment's rest.

Once he spoke of some of the rough sides of her work, and she answered
quietly that she was used to such things and managed to forget their
hardship. Dick glanced at her face, self-contained in the gas-light. He
remembered her mother and the ugly room. He had a vision of a sweet
spirit bearing an adverse fate with dignity, and now giving him, in
return for his small act of courtesy, the perfume of her presence, her
beauty, her wondering admiration. For the time it seemed to Lena herself
that she was what he fancied her. She was only showing him, she thought,
the best side of herself. It was natural that she should hide the

The clock in the steeple far above tinkled out ten, and Lena drew
herself to attention.

"Oh, not yet," Dick exclaimed. "Let's go somewhere and get an ice."

Again Lena hesitated. Even so small a luxury tempted her for its own
sake, and she liked to be with Mr. Percival. With Jim Nolan she would
have gone in a moment, but she was determined that this man should not
think her too easy of access.

"I think not," she said reluctantly. "I must go home to mother. She
isn't used to being up late, and she needs my help."

She knew that she had answered well when he urged:

"Very well, then. If you will give such very little nibbles of your
time, you must give me more of them. Will you come out again--to the
theater--off in the motor--anywhere?"

Lena could hardly speak, but she smiled up her thanks.

"Oh, Mr. Percival!" she said.

As he walked away after seeing her home, he felt himself irritated with
the other women, the women to whom ease and pleasure are a matter of

So they fell into the way of making little expeditions together, and
Dick no longer joked with Ellery about this delectable morsel of
pinkness, but kept his growing intimacy to himself. This dell by the
way, into which he had strayed by accident, was becoming more
fascinating than the crammed highway with its buzzing life.

July and August and September passed and, in spite of her reserve, Dick
felt that he was coming to know little Lena well. He had told her all
about himself, his mother, his three-cornered intimacy with Norris and
Madeline, his plans for his own future, and to all she listened,
sometimes with a dreamy far-off look in the big eyes, sometimes with a
swift smile of sympathy, in spite of the fact that he and his point of
view were often puzzling to her. And he brought dainties and flowers to
the dingy room.

Lena, on her side, thoroughly enjoyed some phases of her acquaintance
with Mr. Percival. Apart from all other considerations, it was a real
pleasure to prove herself the actress she knew she was. She pretended,
when she was with him, that she was a wholly different kind of person.
It was fun to do it well and convincingly and deliberately. It was

But deeper, far deeper than her histrionic satisfaction lay the hope
that Dick Percival might be the key to some other kind of life than that
she led; and as the months went by, this hidden intimacy, delicious to
him because of its very remoteness, began to irritate her. Was he
ashamed of her? Was he playing with her? Privately she found Prince
Charming, unless he meant something more than a half-hour now and again,
something of a bore. Of what pleasure could it be to her that he was
rich and happy and full of plans and in touch with all that was
delightful, if he gave none of this to her?

One evening she seemed listless as she sat enduring an account of a
garden party he had been to the day before. He had thought it might
amuse her, but it evidently didn't.

"I'm always telling you of my affairs," he said half querulously. "Why
don't you give me your experiences?"

"There's nothing to tell," she said dully. "You've had so many
interesting things happen, and you expect ever so many more lovely
things to come, but I've always been pinched, and I shall have to keep
on pinching for ever, I guess."

"Nonsense!" Dick answered impulsively. "The future is sure to bring you
better things."

She looked down a moment, and Dick had an impression that she was
holding back tears. At any rate, when she lifted her head again, her
face wore a cold little stare that he had never seen before, and that
seemed to hold him at arm's length.

"I'm quite alone with the people I have to live among," she said. "I'm
not like them, and I don't care for them."

"Am I one of your kind?" Dick asked. He reviled himself the next moment
for having said so much, but Lena seemed to draw no inferences, though
her color heightened a little as she answered:

"Oh, you! There's only one of you, unfortunately. You are a little oasis
in my desert. I'm very grateful for you, but--"

Lena had said such things before. Dick began to revolve plans for a
larger kindness, and, in his slow masculine intellect, fancied that it
was all his own idea to try and bring this small person into contact
with those who would appreciate her and with whom she could be
happy,--for of course Lena herself was quite submissive to her lot.

To Dick's friends this long summer dawdled itself away much as the
previous one had done. There were the same week-ends at the lake, with
Dick more full of vivacity than ever, Ellery growing more certain of
himself, Madeline rounding slowly out of girlhood into womanhood. Yet
there was a difference. Half a dozen Sundays, when Percival was too
busy, Ellery, half-irritated with his friend, half-exultant in his
desertion, spent the quiet afternoons _à deux_ with Madeline.

It seemed to Norris that some indefinable change was coming over Dick.
At times he was vivid, even fantastic, and again he lapsed into erratic
silences out of which he came at new and unexpected points. He developed
ideas that appeared to his friend not quite in keeping with the sterling
Dick of old. He was less sensitive, so thought Ellery, in his code of
honor as he saw more and more of the crooked ways of men. Once Norris
met him walking with one of the cheaper aldermen, and he wore a
duplicate--in gilt--of the alderman's walk and swagger. He talked
politics and reform, but with less emphasis on his ideals and more on
the game, which seemed to mean the fun of catching the rascals
red-handed and turning them out.

Madeline, as Ellery studied her, was unaware of any change either in
Dick himself or in his attitude toward her. It was like her to be above
suspicions or small jealousies.

So summer slipped into October, and there came a month of lovely days.
Winter, after a feint, slunk into hiding again, and the only result of
his excursion was a more splendid red on the maples, a more glowing
russet on the oaks. Indian summer reigned in his stead, flinging
broadcast her gorgeous colors and her melting mellowness. That men might
not surfeit of her sweets, she tempered her daytime prodigality of heat
by nights of frost. People were coming back to town, a few, very few, in
velvet gowns, but mostly in rags and anxious about their autumn
wardrobes; and yet these were days to make one long, as one does in
spring, for the smell of the good brown earth and the sniff of untainted
country air. The atmosphere was full of glowing warmth that penetrated
to the heart and made every face on the street reflect some of its
delight; for autumn with her thousand charms and witcheries was proving
that she died, not from gray old age, but in the fullness of her prime.

Madeline Elton, therefore, wished herself back again with the fallen
maple leaves and the pines that held their own; and Mrs. Lenox was
fitting temptation to desire as the two hobnobbed over cups of tea in
easy friendliness. When Dick Percival appeared, Mrs. Lenox saw the way
to make her bait irresistible.

"Dick," she cried, "just the man! Don't you pine for sunshine in your
nostrils instead of city smoke? Doesn't the thought of winter coming,
cold and long, make you appreciate these last heavenly gleams? Do you
remember what a delicious week you and Mr. Norris and Madeline spent
with me a year ago?"

"Yes, to everything," said Dick. "All of which means--what? No cream,
please, Madeline."

"All of which means," answered the lady, "that Mr. Lenox and I are wise
in our generation and do not fly to the city when the first birds go
south; that I want Madeline to come and pay me a visit; that, as a kind
of sugar-plum, a chromo, if you please, to induce her to buy my wares, I
propose that you and Mr. Norris should join us on the Sunday of next
week. What do you say?"

"May the Lord prosper you, and I'll do my part as an attraction," Dick
replied heartily. "But I choose to be a sugar-plum rather than a chromo,
especially if Madeline is going to eat me."

"I didn't need any additional inducement, Mrs. Lenox," said Madeline.
"Yourselves and all out-doors are surely sufficient. It will be good to
get away from the grime. Now what bee have you in your bonnet, Dick?"
For a new look had come into his face as she spoke.

Percival had been glancing around the cheerful comfortable room whose
very books and pictures suggested peace of mind. It seemed to him that
he looked with Lena's longing eyes rather than with his own, familiar
with these surroundings. He was thinking how little his small courtesies
counted, and how much these women could do if they chose. Why shouldn't
he be bold? Madeline and Mrs. Lenox were simple-hearted enough to take
his plea at its true value, and not misunderstand his motives. They
would be interested in Lena in exactly the same way he was. He smiled at
Madeline's serenely inquiring face.

"Well, Dick?" she asked again.

"I was wondering whether I dared to suggest a little act of human
kindliness to you two. You women are so much more ready to do such
things than men are, but we are more apt to run up against the cases
where it is needed. There's a pathetic little girl doing some hack work
for the _Star_. Norris knows her. She's just one of those delicate
creatures that ought to live in the sheltered corner of a garden, and
she's out on a bleak prairie. She's about as much like the people she
has to associate with as an old-fashioned single rose is like a cabbage.
Even her mother, who is the only relative she has, is nothing but a
fretful porcupine of a woman. I've been to see them a few times and the
situation seems to me almost intolerable. If ever a girl needed a friend
or two, it's she--not for charity, you understand, but just for real
contact with people of her own kind. Now a man's not much use in such
circumstances, is he? But naturally I think you are about the best kind
of a friend in the world, so I came up this afternoon partly to see if
you wouldn't give her a hand."

"It sounds as though it might be more of a pleasure than a painful

"So it would. You'd take to her, I know," the young man went on eagerly.
Mrs. Lenox watched him in somewhat irritated amusement. "She hasn't
your brains, of course, Madeline, but she has such charm, such
simplicity and freshness, that you can't help liking her. And she grubs
away at perfectly uncongenial work, and lives with this fusty old mother
in a fusty little lodging-house. It makes me sick to think of such daily
crucifixion. I've no business to say it, I know; but when you spoke
about a week at the lake, I couldn't help thinking what such a thing
would mean to her. She'd think herself in Paradise."

"I suppose, Dick, that this is your adroit and tactful way of suggesting
that I should ask her," Mrs. Lenox said, laughing.

And Madeline, who, if Dick had proposed that Mrs. Lenox should turn her
very charming summer home into an orphan asylum, would have considered
that the proposition, as coming from him, was entitled to consideration,
put in:

"I think it would be a lovely thing to do, Vera."

"And we should probably let ourselves in for a frightful bore."

"And you might entertain an angel unawares," said Dick.

Mrs. Lenox knit her brows and meditated. She didn't quite like Dick's
championship of this unknown girl, nor did she trust to his judgment;
but, like a wise woman, she wanted to know what was the thing that had
attracted him, and was big enough in heart to be willing to do a good
turn wherever she could.

"This is the oracle of the Pythia," she said at last. "We will not
commit ourselves to anything at the behest of Richard Percival. On my
way to the station, now, in fact, Madeline and I will go to see this
rose among cabbages. We will introduce ourselves as your friends, Dick.
If we think you are a mere deluded male thing, there the matter ends. If
we, too, are carried away by enthusiasm, we will invite her on the spur
of the moment, and Mr. Lenox, who, like most married men, is a
connoisseur in pretty girls, can talk to her. Will this suit you, Dick?"

"Excellently," said Dick, "I know the result."

"Then you'll come next Saturday? Madeline is coming day after to-morrow
and I'll write to Mr. Norris. Heaven send these days of sun continue.
Now if we are to pay this call, and I am to catch my train, we must be

Miss Quincy, having quarreled with her mother over her extravagance in
buying a feather boa with the proceeds of her last small check, was
seated by the window, industriously concocting a new hat. The Swedish
"girl", whose unfortunate fate it was to minister to the wants of Mrs.
Olberg's lodgers, gave a kind of defiant pound on the door, opened it
and thrust in a disheveled blond head, followed by a hand puckered from
the dish-water.

"Haar's cards, Miss Quincy," she said, "Dar's twa ladies down staars."

She dropped the cards on the floor and disappeared. Lena, in great
curiosity, picked them up and read aloud:

"'Mrs. Francis Lenox; Miss Elton.'"

"For the land's sake! Who air they?" asked her mother.

"Two of the biggest swells in town."

"Well, what on earth do they want here? We ain't very swell."

"Perhaps they want me to report some party or something," said Lena.

She was losing no time in giving her hair one or two becoming jerks and
going through a series of wriggles meant to impart grace and style to
her costume.

"Perhaps they want to give you a million dollars," said Mrs. Quincy

Lena, with heart burning with mingled shame at her own shabby
surroundings, curiosity at their errand, and awe for the mighty names,
entered the little parlor which gave the impression of never having been
cleaned since it was born with its cheap worn plush furniture, its
crayon portraits and its two vases of gaudy blue and gold. She faced the
two ladies seated on the impossible chairs. Lena was almost as startling
an apparition in that room as was Ram Juna's rose in the dusty
phial--whether a miracle or a clever trick. She looked so untouched by
any vulgarity in her surroundings, so fresh and true, so instinct with
virgin dignity, that the eyes that met her own were filled with the
tribute of surprise; and she exulted in some hidden corner of her soul.

In the half-hour that they spent together she measured her new
acquaintances carefully.

"And these are women of the world!" she said to herself. "Why, they're
boobies. I could do them up any time."

For Lena did not know that women of this type are the most protected
creatures on the face of the earth. The knowledge of good is given
them, but not the knowledge of evil.

So she told them all about herself, which was what they seemed to want
to hear, and when they went away Madeline said:

"I wonder if there are many such born to blush unseen. What an exquisite
little tragedy she is!"

And Mrs. Lenox answered: "U--u--m! Well, I've asked her, haven't I? I
think the microbe of Dick's impulsiveness must have got into me."

Lena stood back in the shadow of the room to watch her departing guests.
Then she ran up stairs with light steps, ruffling her plumes like a
cocky little lady-wren as she went back to the dreariness where Mrs.
Quincy sat rocking her inevitable creaking chair.

"Well!" asked her mother after a pause, a pause just long enough, the
daughter knew, to fill her with irritable curiosity.

"Well," Lena answered smartly, "and what do you think? They came to
call, if you please, because Mr. Percival asked them to; and they were
sweet as honey. And Mrs. Lenox asked me to spend a whole week at her
country place."

"For the land sake!"

"I guess," Lena went on with complacence, "Mr. Percival must have said
something pretty nice."

Her mother stared at her speechless, and it was such an unusual thing
for Mrs. Quincy to be struck dumb that Lena was correspondingly elated
as she rattled on.

"Such dresses! I'd give anything to have such clothes and wear them with
that kind of an every-day, don't-care air. My, but Mrs. Lenox is a
stunner! But the Lenoxes are just rolling in money; and they say Mr.
Lenox hadn't a red cent when she married him and gave him his start.
It's lucky I have another check coming from the _Star_. I'll need more
things than ever it will buy to go out there. I must begin to get ready
right away."

The mention of expenditure brought Mrs. Quincy back to her normal state
of mind, and she resumed her rocking. Lena's means and extremes in
shopping were her standard grievance.

"I might know that 'ud be the next thing. Of course you'll be spending
every penny you can rake and scrape on clothes, so's to look fine for
your new fine friends. It's no matter about me. I can go without a
decent rag to my back, so long as you've got feathers and flummery."

"Well, I earned the money. I don't see why I shouldn't spend it. I'm not
robbing you," said Lena sulkily.

"You might contribute a mite to your own board."

"I'll save you my board for a week," snapped the girl.

Mrs. Quincy changed her tack. "And leave me shut up in town," she
resumed. "I should think you'd think twice, Lena, before you went off
gallivantin' and left your poor old mother here alone. Nobody seems to
think I need any pleasure."

"I'll write and ask Mrs. Lenox if she won't take you instead of me."

"Take me! I should think not! I wouldn't be hired to leave my own place
and go off like a charity case among a lot of rich people who looked
down on me because I was poor. I've got too much self-respect to jump at
an invitation, like a pickerel at a frog. But there! You never think
twice about things."

"Suppose I did refuse. You'd fly out at me for not making the most of my
chances," said poor Lena, on the verge of tears.

Mrs. Quincy was temporarily silenced by the truth of this reply, and
Lena pursued her advantage.

"Come now, mother, do you want me to get out of it?"

"Oh, I suppose you'll have to go, or I won't have no peace to my life,"
Mrs. Quincy grudgingly responded.

"Yes, you shall. If you say so, I'll give it up now and never say
another word about it."

"And _act_ injured to death," said her mother. "No, you go!"

"After you've done everything you can to spoil it for me," answered
Lena, not half realizing how well she spoke the truth, and how both by
inheritance and by precept her mother had trailed the serpent over her
life. To Lena, fortune and misfortune were still things of outward
import, and almost synonymous with possession and non-possession. Yet,
in spite of Mrs. Quincy's dour looks, Lena found herself singing as she
moved swiftly about the room. Spontaneous joy was a rare thing with her.
The first peep into the delectable world was entrancing.



It was all charming, if a little strange--the friendliness of Miss Elton
when Lena met her at the station, the smart trap and groom that met them
at the end of their short journey, the very way in which Miss Elton took
possession of those awe-inspiring objects, and the respectful curiosity
of the loungers at the country station. As she stepped into the
carriage, Lena caught a glimpse of a cart-horse with so many ribs as to
suggest that the female of his species had yet to be created. He looked
so like her mother, that he gave her a spasm of anguish which she tried
to forget, as they were whirled down the road with its fringe of
straight-limbed trees. Never had the world looked more lovely. Her
spirits were lifted up.

Mrs. Lenox met them at the door with hospitable effusiveness, but Lena's
crucifixion began from that moment.

"The man will carry your bag up for you," said Mrs. Lenox.

As Olaf obediently stepped forward, Lena flushed and thought: "They both
noticed that it was only imitation leather."

Mrs. Lenox walked up stairs with them, chattering gaily with Madeline,
and Lena followed in embarrassed silence at the charming freshness and
daintiness of everything about her.

"I've put you and Miss Elton in adjoining rooms," said Mrs. Lenox,
smiling kindly at her, "so that you needn't feel remote and lonely on
your first visit here."

The man put down the bag and disappeared, and a trim maid came forward
to help Lena off with her coat which, with a sudden pang, she wished
were lined with satin instead of sateen.

"Sall Ay unpack you bag?" said the little maid politely.

"No, thank you. I prefer to do it myself," said Lena desperately. It was
more than she could endure to have a strange girl spying out the
nakedness of the land. Yet when the little maid said, "Vary well,
ma'am," and walked into the next room, Lena wondered if she had made a
mistake. She heard Miss Elton's cheerful address of the appalling
personage with the puffed up bit of hair and the saucy cap.

"How do you do, Sophie?"

"Good day, mees. As thar anything Ay can do for you?"

"I fancy my dress would be better for a good brushing after the dusty
train, and the gown I want is in the top tray of the little trunk,

The door closed and Lena wondered in terror what of her small store of
finery she ought to put on, and when she ought to go down stairs. She
solved the first question to the best of her ability and sat down on the
edge of a very clean beflowered chair in despair about the other, when
there came voices in the hall, and Madeline tapped on her door, and

"Don't you want to come out and see the baby?"

Now Lena detested babies as sticky and order-destroying vermin, but in
relief she said: "A baby? Oh, how lovely!"

"Come," said Mrs. Lenox. "The proper study of womanhood is baby." Lena
went out to find a very small person in a very tottering condition,
steered up and down the hall by another be-capped maid who was holding
tight to his rear petticoats, while Mrs. Lenox trotted by his side,
pulling a woolly lamb that baa'd with enchanting precision, and allowing
her skirts to be worried by a small puppy, whose business in life was to
bite anything hard that lay on the floor or that wiggled. Mrs. Lenox and
Miss Elton sat down on the floor to towsle and to be towsled amid
laughter and hair-pulling and frantic yelps from the puppy, while Lena
looked on and said: "Isn't he cunning?" and wondered whether she ought
to sit on the floor or not. She wondered if this were indeed the
millionaire Mrs. Lenox of whom she read with awe from the "In the swing"
column as being present at such and such "society functions", thus and
thus attired.

Somehow Mrs. Lenox, seated on the floor, with her hair over one eye,
disconcerted Lena more than any amount of grandeur would have done. She
felt as one might who should catch the Venus of Melos cutting capers.
Then the redoubtable lady jumped up, tucked in a few hair-pins, gave a
final shake to her small son and said:

"I dressed little Frank myself this afternoon. Don't you think I did a
good job? Dressing a baby combines all the pleasures of the chase with
the requirements of the exact sciences, Miss Quincy. Now let's go down
and have some tea before big Frank gets home. I think we've time for a
little friendly chat."

This time Lena followed with greater sense of security. She knew her
dress was pretty and becoming, though inexpensive; and as for
conversation, that to Lena's mind meant clothes and society, with which
she felt a journalistic familiarity.

"Perhaps you prefer cream in your tea?" said Mrs. Lenox, with hand
poised over the little table.

"No, thank you, I like lemon," answered Lena, who had never tasted it
before and now thought it very nasty indeed. Then she wondered why she
had told such a small useless lie.

But it was comfortable to be in a big lovely room with a pile of logs
blazing in a great fireplace, and soft lamps shedding a glow rather than
making spots of light. She wished she had, like Madeline, picked out a
very easy chair instead of the stiff one she had selected, but she felt
too shy to move until Mrs. Lenox suggested it, and then she was
embarrassed because she was embarrassed. She wondered if she should ever
be able to do things like these women, without thinking of what she was

Madeline was idly turning the pages of a magazine and now she held it

"Look at these illustrations. Aren't they stunning?"

"I don't know," said Mrs. Lenox. "I'm growing tired of that kind of
thing. It isn't art; it's a fad. The trouble with most of this modern
work is that it is too smart and fashionable. The clothes are more
important than the people."

"Quite a contrast to ancient art, where the people were everything and
the clothes nothing," Madeline retorted. "After all, I rather like the
modern way. The old Greeks were not a bit more real people. They were
nothing but types."

"And very decapitated and de-legged types," said Mrs. Lenox with a
laugh. "And dirty, too--like the Sleeping Beauty. Do you know, it gives
me the shivers to think of the Sleeping Beauty, lying there for ages,
with dust and cobwebs accumulating on her. I'm sure I hope the prince
gave her a thorough dusting before he kissed her."

"You are horribly realistic, Vera--a person with no imagination."

"I think I have just shown a truly vivid imagination."

"It is the business of imagination to build up a world of loveliness and

"I don't agree with you. I think it is the business of imagination to
project things as they really are. I don't want to slip out from under
reality and see only beauty. Beware, Madeline, or you will degenerate
into a mere optimist."

"Isn't it funny that if your opponent can call you an optimist, he feels
that he has delivered a knock-down blow to all your arguments?" Mrs.
Lenox suddenly pulled herself together and turned toward Lena, who sat
silently drinking her tea and taking no part in the conversation.

"Did you tell me that your mother is an invalid, Miss Quincy?"

"Not exactly; but she can't go about much. It seems to play her out to

"It must be very hard on her to stay in the house all the time. I wonder
if I might take her to drive with me once in a while?" A scarlet flush
passed over Lena's face at the very idea of her mother's querulous
vulgarity being displayed to this woman, and Mrs. Lenox could not help
seeing her embarrassment.

A little wave of pity swept over the older woman. It must be a cruel
fate to be ashamed of one's surroundings. Mrs. Lenox herself was one of
those serious-minded persons who regard their opportunities as
responsibilities. She waged constant warfare with the dominion of
externals, and believed with all her heart that the life was more than
raiment; but a momentary doubt assailed her as to whether, after all, it
might not be easier to conquer things when one owned them, rather than
when one had to do without them. It has generally been Dives who is
represented as enslaved by the goods of this world. Perhaps Lazarus, if
his heart is absorbed in sordid longing for what others have and he has
not, stands just as poor a chance of the kingdom of Heaven.

What could she do to make Miss Quincy feel at ease? The girl certainly
had brains and character. Dick had told them of her brave bearing of
burdens. This stiff back and this silence were but the tribute of
shyness to new surroundings. So ran Mrs. Lenox's swift thoughts and she
set herself to make Lena talk about the things with which she was
familiar, to link her past to this present.

Evidently the same thought was flitting through Madeline's brain, for
before Mrs. Lenox spoke she began:

"Do you know, Miss Quincy, I have felt a little envy of you ever since
Dick first told us about you."

"Envy! Of me?" Lena exclaimed, moved to genuine surprise.

"Yes," Madeline went on, leaning forward, eager to explain herself. "You
see, I seem to have had a good deal of training, which looks as though
it should prepare me to do something, and then--then I don't do
anything. It makes me feel flat and unprofitable. I'd like to feel like
you every night--as though I'd really accomplished a thing or two."

"Isn't it like Madeline to try to make the girl feel the dignity of
drudgery!" Mrs. Lenox said to herself.

"The stuck-up thing!" thought Lena; "rubbing it into me that she does
not have to work for her living."

She was tempted to make a sharp answer, but remembered her diplomacy and
held it in.

"Work isn't always so pleasant when you're in it," she said.

"Everything is apt to look rough around the edges until you hold it off
and get a view of it as a whole," Mrs. Lenox put in. "Even
love--sometimes. But I think that, next to love, work is about the best
thing in life."

"Oh, that depends," Madeline cried. "When I read papers at clubs, people
talk about my 'work', but nobody thinks that it is worth while. I'd like
to earn a dollar, just as a guaranty that some one thought the thing I
did was worth it."

"Gracious!" Lena exclaimed in genuine surprise. "Do you really feel that
way about earning money?"

"Don't you?" Madeline asked in return; and each looked at the other

"No, I don't," Lena burst out sullenly, but forgetting to be shy. "I
feel degraded by every dirty five-dollar bill I get by being a slavey.
People make you feel that way. You get it rubbed into you every day."

"No, no," Mrs Lenox cried, remorseful now that their talk had drifted
into such intimate personalities. "I am sure, Miss Quincy, nobody feels
that way about a woman that works, except, perhaps, people whose
opinion you can well afford to despise." This was a shaft that struck so
near home that Lena could hardly hold back the tears. "I am sure I think
a thousand times more of a woman who does her honest share than I do of
the helpless ones who lie down on somebody else and whine," Mrs. Lenox
went on.

Madeline was inwardly bemoaning her own lack of tact. She really wanted
to make a friend of this girl, because Dick had asked her to, and here,
at the very beginning, she had stumbled, and all that was meant to show
her regard and sympathy but served to make a gulf between them.

Mrs. Lenox darted a look at her and sprang suddenly to her feet.

"Oh, here's Frank," she exclaimed with an air of relief. "Come in, boy,
and have some tea and fire. It was good of you to come so bright and

"Earlier than bright, I'm afraid," he said.

Lena looked with interest toward the door. Frank Lenox was great in St.
Etienne, first because he was the son-in-law of old Nicholas Windsor, a
potentate of the first local magnitude, and second, because he was
pushing to still greater success the enterprises that the elder man had
begun. So people talked about him in the street-cars by his first name.
Lena felt that it was a privilege to look at him, big, clean, with that
mingling of alertness with power which is the characteristic of the
American business man. It was an experience of absorbing interest to see
the half underhand caress he gave his wife in passing, and to find
herself actually shaking hands with him. He seemed imposing and friendly
and yet quite like other people, as he looked around for a capacious
chair and his wife handed him a cup of tea. She was conscious that he
looked at her with great interest. She recognized the expression in
masculine eyes and it soothed her ruffled spirit. It was the constant
affirmation of her beauty, a beauty which had in it something dream-like
that made men's eyes dream. After all, she could always get along with

"If you'd know what brought me home before my time, it was not your
charms, my dear, but a mad desire to get away from Harris, who cornered
me and opened up the negro question. I saw nothing for it but to take to
the woods."

"It makes my traditional abolition blood boil to see how public opinion
seems to be settling down and dallying with heresy and injustice
again," Madeline exclaimed. She looked flushed and vigorous, and Lena
stared at her and wondered how she could care for such things. Was it
pure affectation?

"Oh, you're young, my dear," said Mrs. Lenox laughingly. "You must hold
all your opinions violently. And you haven't been South. Things can't
help looking different down there."

"Vera!" cried Miss Elton so explosively that Lena sat up straighter than
ever, "you're not really a renegade yourself, are you?" and she spoke as
though her life depended on the answer.

"Certainly not," Mrs. Lenox answered. "But I'm growing tolerant toward
the poor old world as it is. I'm willing to let it grow slowly instead
of insisting that it shall all be immediately as good and wise as I am.
I'm learning to respect other people's point of view and to suspect that
my mind is not such an ingenious mechanism as I once supposed it to be."

"Moreover, since she has married, she has contracted a habit of taking
the opposite point of view," said her husband.

"Oh, that's one of the jokes that has successfully withstood the
ravages of time," said Mrs. Lenox scornfully.

"Very well, then, I'll say that you are getting on toward middle life
and have had your enthusiasms corrupted by a worldly-wise father and
husband. But I dare say that Miss Quincy, being young, is quite as
explosive as you are, Madeline. So we shall be two against two."

He looked with a challenge toward the girl, and perhaps Lena might have
managed the expected saucy answer if she had not suddenly remembered
that her shoes were shabby and she had meant to keep them hidden under
her skirts. This memory destroyed her new-found equilibrium, so she
blurted out a weak, "I really don't know anything about it," and then
blushed hotly at her own awkwardness.

"It's a stupid subject, anyway," said Mr. Lenox. "I fled from town to
avoid it. Let's not talk about negroes."

"Tell us what has happened in the great world," said Mrs. Lenox, leaning
forward with her elbows on her knees and chin in hands.

"Another Jap victory," he said. "And I'll take a second one of those
little cakes please, if Miss Quincy will leave one for me. It cuts me
to the heart to see how the young girls of our generation stuff on
little cakes. If they'd only take example by these same Japanese, who
develop strategy and patriotism on rice, cherry blossoms and gymnastics,
there'd be some hopes for us as a people."

He glanced again at Lena in a very amiable manner, as though he expected
her to be saucy in return, but she blushed with mystification and
mortification. She had felt doubtful as to whether she ought to take
another of the little cakes, but they were very good, and she was young
enough to love goodies, without many chances at anything so delectable
as these particular bits. And now to be detected and made fun of! She
began to question if she should be able to get along with these men,
after all.

"Thank you," he went on after a pause. "And now that I'm comforted with
cake, another cup of tea, Vera; and then, if you would complete my
happiness, just give me a posy out of that bouquet for my buttonhole."

His wife rose, pulled a flower from a vase and pinned it to his coat.

"Here's mignonette! That's for dividends," she said, and she put her
fingers in his hair and gave his head a little shake.

"Don't infringe on my head,--it's patented," he said. "Now go and sit
down, and I will tell you something really exciting as well as
instructive. I know about it because I have the privilege of helping the
good work with a few dollars. Professor Gregory has dug up two or three
hundred old manuscripts somewhere near Thebes, and he cables that they
belong to the first century after Christ, that he expects them to
illuminate most of the dark recesses of the time, and that I am
privileged to share the glory by making an ample contribution. Doesn't
that stir your young blood? I never hear of these things without a
passionate desire to go to some respectably aged land and dig and dig
and dig. It's a choice between doing so and making things in this very
new land for some other fellow to dig up six thousand years from now.
Which would you choose, Miss Quincy?"

Lena was extraordinarily pretty, and he had a theory that pretty girls
were made to be talked to. Lena thought so too, yet all she said was, "I
should think the digging would be very dirty work, though."

He glanced at her swiftly, and, though there was nothing unfriendly in
the look, she felt an uncomfortable shiver. She fell into a miserable
silence which she hardly broke when the others addressed her with a
deliberate question or made some manifest effort to include her in
topics introduced for her benefit. These attempts were only too apparent
to her and rasped her soul the more. These people had such a perplexing
way of saying whatever came into their heads. They were serious and
frivolous at unexpected places. They were not at all "elegant"; they
were natural, but their naturalness was not of Lena's kind. Mr. Lenox
rose and smiled at his wife.

"I think I must go and have a look at my latest son," he said. "He is a
very interesting person. At present he seems to be composed of two
simple but diverse elements, a stomach and a sense of humor." At the
door he paused again and said, "Have you seen our new coat of arms,
Madeline?--two kids rambunctious?"

He went away and sounds of manifest hilarity floated down the stairs.
And then dinner was announced, and he looked so good-tempered when he
returned and gave Lena his arm that her spirits were again lifted up.
She had never before been escorted to a meal as though it were an affair
of ceremony.

"I met an old fellow to-day," her host began with persistent attempt to
draw her out, "that told me that for two years he had dined on bread and
milk. And then I felt that I was a favorite of fortune to be able
fearlessly to storm the dining-room. Happy the appendix that has no

Lena giggled helplessly. Was it amusement that she saw in Mr. Lenox's
eyes as he unfolded his napkin and surveyed her?

"It's an awesome thing, isn't it, to be living in a world darkened on
one side by the servant question and on the other by the appendix, like
Scylla and Charybdis?"

She found herself sitting down to face the mysteries of a meal whose
type was different from any hitherto met in her brief experience of
life. Her internal summing up was, "Of course I can't make any
impression on Mr. Lenox. He likes the other kind of woman."

She looked at Mrs. Lenox, a woman of restraint and dark hair and
straight lines, and contrasted her with herself, a thing of curves and
sunshine colors. She did not know that a man never cares for a type of
woman, but only for woman in the concrete. Poor little Lena! When the
evening was over and she found herself at last in her too-splendid
bedroom, she put arms and head down on the dressing-table and sobbed.
These people were simple where she was complicated and complicated where
she was simple. It was all uncomfortable and different. She thought of
Jim Nolan's unfrilled conversation, of his clumsy, rather inane
compliments, of his primitive amoeba-like type of humor. She saw the
whole course of her life of mean shifts and wranglings with her mother;
and though its moral niggardliness was unappreciated, its physical
meagerness sickened her in contrast to the ease and beauty of these
newer scenes. She must climb out of that life, somehow, by hook or
crook; if this were the alternative, she must grow to its likeness, no
matter how the birth-pangs hurt. She would face it. She would even
rejoice in the opportunity to study these women and mold herself to
their outward form of _bien aise_. She would--she would. Faint and
far-away voices came to her, and she wondered if Mr. and Mrs. Lenox were
discussing her and laughing, as she would do in their place, at her
gaucheries. The meaner you are yourself, the easier it is to believe in
the meanness of others. It was the most godlike of men who taught the
godliness of all men. Lena could not imagine that these people could
either like or respect her unless she were molded after their pattern
and had as much as they had.

And Miss Elton! She hated Miss Elton for that irritating calmness, for
that easy appropriation of the good things of life. She hated with a
hate that tingled her spine and shook her small body. The tragedy of
littleness made her grit her teeth as she thought of the unconscious
girl now going to bed in the next room.

"I'll get even with her somehow," was Miss Lena's resolve. "Just let me
get the hang of things a little, and I'll show her!" Miss Quincy was
conscious that though she as yet lacked knowledge of their world, she
had the advantage of the inheritance of guile.

But things! things! things! Lena thought a little of the irony of
it--that all her life she had pined to be set in luxury, and yet now and
here the very rugs and chairs and soft lights, the pictures of
unrecognized subjects, the unfamiliar delicacies before her at the
table, all seemed to loom up and crush her into insignificance by their
importance and expensiveness. They were her masters still.

But it was not Lena's way to waste her time on abstractions. While she
sat and watched her fire crumble away into ashes, she was chiefly
occupied with the concrete, and there entered into her soul and took
possession of its empty chambers and began to mold her to her own
purposes the demon of social ambition, which is not the desire to do or
to be, but rather the longing to appear to be and to seem to do--to take
the chaff and leave the wheat.

Mastered by this powerful spirit, Lena actually did make great strides
in the next few days. She learned to lounge quite comfortably, to
pretend with verisimilitude, even to chatter a little, helped chiefly by
a certain persistent light-weight on the part of Mr. Lenox; but the life
was hard and the rewards meager. All the time she suspected Miss Elton
and Mrs. Lenox of despising her, because she had so much less than they.
Their kindliness was but an added insult.



It was with joy that Lena stood, on Saturday night, with Mrs. Lenox and
Miss Elton on the veranda, and hailed the advent of a large red
automobile, which disgorged, besides Mr. Lenox, two dress-suit cases and
two young men. Mr. Percival had liked her in her natural state and with
him she would not need to "put on style". He was to her the shadow of a
great rock in a desperately thirsty land. The only kind of pretense that
he demanded was that she should be a dear innocent little girl, and that
rôle came easily. She smiled and blushed and saw that there was a
difference in his eyes when he greeted her from the look he bent on the
other two ladies. It was balm to her spirit to think that this man, who
admired her, was himself admired by the people whom she suspected of
despising her; and that they did admire him was evident. They were
hardly seated at dinner before Mrs. Lenox began:

"Dick, I have just been reading your last night's speech at the
Municipal Club and I'm quite effervescing with it. I want to put you up
on a pedestal and call the attention of Mr. Frank Lenox to you. He is
one of the innumerable excellent gentlemen, over the length and breadth
of the land, who are so busy running everything else that they let city
politics go to the place that I'm not allowed to mention. It does my
heart good to see you taking it up in earnest."

"It was a good speech, all right. I've read it, too," said Mr. Lenox.
"And I'm all the wretch my wife calls me. I wish I'd heard you in your
frenzy, Percival, though I have less faith in speeches and principles
than she has. Reform is only a seed, you know, and most seeds never come
to maturity or bear fruit. So most people justly doubt the reformer."

"Do you think we're thin sound-waves who do nothing but vibrate?" said

"Not at all; but I mean there are no such things in the world as
abstractions. There are only men and women. Thoughts don't seethe; men
and women seethe. Principles don't reform or corrupt; men and women do
the reforming and corrupting. If you want to do things, don't begin by
making the air resound with denunciations of wickedness; but make people
believe in you and despise the other fellow. When they like you they'll
begin to think about your ideas."

"I don't know any better way to make people believe in me than to stand
up for what I think to be right," said Dick sharply.

"Stand up all you like," Lenox answered. "But the trouble with most good
people is that they are contented to stand up. To arrive anywhere you've
got to get right down and scrap."

"Oh, I'm only trying my muscle a bit," Dick answered laughingly. "I do
not intend to do much generalizing except in the way of advertisement.
I'm planning to put a spoke in the wheels of a few particular wrongs."

"That's what I hope. It's easier to fulminate than to fight."

"Then you'll be glad to know that Dick has already been answerable for
galvanizing the Municipal Club into new life," Ellery put in. "It has
been, as you know, a delightfully scholarly affair, any of whose members
were quite capable of writing a text-book on civics; but Dick has roped
in a lot of new men and stirred up the old ones."

"To what end?"

"Well, for two things; we have appointed committees to keep close tab on
all of the proceedings of the council--to attend every meeting--and
others to work up the ward organizations so that we shall be prepared to
work intelligently and together by the next election. We want to get
some clean business man, who is well known, to stand for mayor. There's
a chance for you, Lenox."

Lenox laughed. "You've caught me there, haven't you? I am condemned for
being still in the stage where I am content to mention things with
indignation. However, if you have really gone so far, I'm more than
willing to trail after you. I'll at least back you with a few facts,
such as every business man knows, and I'm good for a substantial
contribution toward any campaign you may undertake. And what I do there
are others who will do, too."

"I'll not forget your promise," said Dick.

As usual, when men talk public affairs, the women had been content to
listen, but Madeline's temperament was too strong for her restraint.

"It's all very well for you to put your hand in your pocket, Mr. Lenox,"
she cried, "but I don't want to hear you trying to undermine Dick's
idealism. If he does not have the comfort of some purpose higher than
the daily fight, how can he endure it? Don't persuade him to run through
life on all fours and never look at the stars."

Mr. Lenox looked at her warmly.

"Thank the Lord for you women," he said. "You do not forget that there
are stars and sky above the city smoke. If it were not for you and your
kind, I'm afraid most of the world would be tied to the ground like

"Oh, I fancy nature has liberated a few of you, and I am glad to believe
that Dick is among the free," she said.

She sat beside Dick, but she turned from him and spoke to Mr. Lenox.
When Percival, softened by her words and the tone of belief in which
they were spoken, looked up, he saw, not her eyes, but, across the
table, those of Lena, big and sympathetic. As he gazed into them he saw
all of Madeline's confidence in him, all of Madeline's ideals, but the
more spiritual, the more feminine, because they were unspoken. Lena's
eyes were eloquent even if she was silent; internally she was really
resenting Madeline's tone, which seemed to her to assume that Dick was
somehow Miss Elton's particular property. "Perhaps you needn't be so
sure, missy," she thought.

[Illustration: "You look like incarnate song"--Page 199]

After dinner, when the three men found their way to the drawing-room,
Mrs. Lenox had started Madeline on a career of song. She was already in
the midst of a curious weird Roumanian thing, and Norris made straight
for the piano. Lena, ethereal in pale blue, was sympathetically
listening to perfection. She had lost her look of incongruity with her
surroundings. The dreamy eyes and the transparent skin found their
setting in her filmy gown and the rich soft light. Dick drew in his
breath. He seemed never to get used to her. Naturally he found a seat
near her. She was his protégée.

"Don't you sing, Miss Quincy?" was his inevitable query.

And she replied with inward anguish, "Not at all."

"But I'm sure you do. You look like incarnate song," he persisted.
"You're playing modest."

Lena cast down her eyes and said, "I am a very truthful little girl."

"Have you had a good time here?"

Then she looked up with kindling face. "Oh, so good! You can't know how
I thank you, Mr. Percival. I know I owe it to you. I feel as though I
were breathing the air I belong in, at last. It's so different from--but
you know all about my life," said Lena brokenly. "And Mrs. Lenox is so
sweet and kind, I just love her!"

"And Miss Elton?"

Lena stiffened and made no reply for an instant.

"Miss Elton is quite as clever as you men, isn't she?" Lena asked, in
quite another tone of voice.

"Infinitely more so," said Dick cordially.

"Do you like it?" she asked in a breathless way.

"Why, yes, in Madeline," he answered. "She isn't a bit priggish, you
know, but just naturally interested in everything good. Why? Don't you
and she get on?"

Lena gave an uneasy little twist as though she did not enjoy the
question, and she sighed.

"Why, frankly, I don't wholly. It's my own stupid little fault, of
course. I'm not clever. She's very charming; but she gets a little
tiresome to me."

"Does she?" said Dick ponderingly.

"It's very hateful of me to say such things about your particular
friend," said Lena contritely. "Besides, I don't mean--what do I mean? I
never thought it out. But it's so easy to tell you everything, Mr.
Percival. And I think it's rather nice for a girl to be more silly and
inconsequential part of the time." She laughed in a gurgling little

"I believe it is," said Dick speculatively, as he looked at her. "But
Madeline's awfully jolly, you know. I've had more good times with her
than with any other girl I know. No nonsense about her."

"That's it,--no nonsense," said Lena, and this time her laugh was not so
pleasant; and Dick glanced across at Madeline with a kind of resentment.
"It isn't like Madeline to go back on a fellow that way," he said to
himself. "Of course she's had all kinds of advantages over this poor
little thing; but it's small of her not to forget them. I trusted her to
make things sweet; and for the first time she has disappointed me." He
looked at Madeline with a distinct feeling of irritation as she rose
from the piano. Mr. Lenox came and absorbed Lena, whom he was teaching
to answer him saucily. Lena enjoyed this process, and it had inspired
her to a really clever device, namely, to say vulgar little things in a
whimsical way, as though she knew better all the time but wanted to be
humorous. A good many other people have had the same brilliant idea, but
it was none the less original to Lena, and it saved a lot of trouble and
pretense. Norris and Miss Elton were hobnobbing and laughing at the
other end of the room, and Dick followed them.

"Have you been out of town, Dick?" Madeline asked as he came up. "I
tried to get you over the telephone a day or two ago, and they told me
you were away."

"Yes." He laughed exultantly as he sat down. "I ran down to the
penitentiary at Easton, just to make sure that I wasn't mistaken in a
fact or two."

"What now?" asked Norris.

"I've been told that Barry--the lord of St. Etienne, Madeline--is at
last tired of his humble but powerful place, and intends to show himself
the master that he really is by running himself for our next mayor. Now
even this docile city would hardly exalt a man whom it knew to be a
criminal with a record of two years in the pen,--under another name, of

"Is it possible that Barry--"

"I've verified my facts. There is only one man in the city besides
myself that knows this, and he's Barry's closest friend. There'll be a
jolly old sensation in the bunch, when I spring my mine."

"If nobody knows it, how did you happen to find out?" asked Madeline

There was just a moment's silence, and in that instant Norris had a
flash of memory. He seemed to see Dick eying a letter addressed to
William Barry, Esquire. Even while he remembered, he hated himself for
daring to suspect that Dick would be capable of anything really shabby
or dishonorable. Yet he did suspect--nay, more--he was sure; and the
pause, the look of innocent inquiry on Madeline's face grew intolerable.
If Dick would say nothing, he, Norris, must.

"We newspaper men," he rushed in gaily, "get hold of a vast amount of
information that people flatter themselves is secret."

Percival looked at him and grinned. The girl turned slowly from her
amused survey of Dick to study Ellery's face, which showed his
discomfort in its flush. If a girl so gentle could feel scorn, Ellery
would have thought he detected a touch of it. Certainly there was a hint
of grieved surprise as she spoke, with her eyes still fixed on Norris.

"I'm very sorry, Dick," she said humbly. "I didn't mean to be prying.
I've grown so used to asking you about everything. Mr. Norris ought to
get a better mask."

She laughed lightly, but Ellery's face grew hotter. He wondered if she
suspected him of some underhand trickery, and Dick realized it, yet kept
amused silence. For an instant he hated Dick, and felt a wild impulse to
defend himself; but second thoughts came quickly. She loved Dick and was
therefore slow to impute evil to him. Dick loved her, and if he had for
once played the petty knave, it was the place of a friend to protect her
against that knowledge. That had been the instinctive reason for Norris'
words, and he was not going back on them now. Yet Ellery's brain whirled
to think how swiftly and by what simple means he might have toppled her
slowly-ripening friendship into the mire. Ellery's imagination piled
superlatives on every act and expression of his lady. If she looked
light disapproval, it was worse than another's scorn. And Dick--for
whom he had thrown away the thing he most valued in the world--Dick
exclaimed gaily:

"Don't be suspicious, Madeline. Are all secrets disgraceful? Can't you
trust your old friends?"

"Of course I'm not suspicious," she answered indignantly. "I only mean
to beg your pardon, Dick, and I assure you again that I'm not curious,
even. I asked this question as I have asked a thousand others, and that
would have been the end of it----except for Mr. Norris' face."

She smiled as she turned away, and Dick lifted his eyebrows and shrugged
his shoulders as much as to say, "What difference does it make, anyway?
What difference!" Dick didn't care whether she despised Ellery or
not--he didn't care enough to speak an honorable word of explanation.

Mrs. Lenox came up crying, "Come, my triple alliance, Frank has carried
Miss Quincy off to the billiard-room to give her a lesson. Let us go,
too, to see that they do not get into mischief."

Dick hurried away to usurp Mr. Lenox's place, Madeline tucked her arm
through that of Mrs. Lenox, and Norris was left to follow in outer

When bedtime came, Norris detained Percival.

"Come out for a smoke and a turn," he said. "The night is frosty, and
you'll sleep all the better for a sniff of fresh air."

"What are you so glum about?" he asked, as Dick tramped in silence.

He was moody and enraged himself, but too proud to let his anger be

"Not mad, most noble Norris, only thinking."

"Unfold your thoughts."

"I was thinking about Madeline," answered Dick, and Norris' heart
thumped, for he too was thinking about Madeline. "I wonder if the kind
of training that she and all girls of her class get is the thing, after
all. I'm not talking about knowledge, you understand. I'm not such a cad
as to grudge a girl the best there is in the world. But there's
something else. It's the electric feminine, I suppose, that makes them
the powers behind every throne. Fate is always represented in
petticoats, you know. It sometimes seems as though the better-trained
girls had all that side of them kept out of sight and polished into
nothingness. Why are they taught to ignore the biggest power that's in
them? Why, even that untrained little Miss Quincy is vivid with some
sex-fascination that the more fortunate girls do not often have."

"Oh, she is only a colored light. The sunlight has all other colors
latent in itself. How do you dare to make any comparison between Miss
Quincy and your lovely Miss Elton?"

"Great Scott! Don't say 'my Miss Elton'!" Dick exclaimed. "Madeline
doesn't belong to me." And he added politely, "Worse luck! She and I
have always been like brother and sister. That's all there is to it."

"Are you sure?" demanded Ellery, with hot thrusts of mingled anguish and
exultation stabbing through his bosom.

"Sure!" said Dick equably. "Why, even if I loved her, my dear fellow, I
should know, from her unruffled serenity, that there was no hope for me.
But Madeline isn't a very emotional creature, Ellery. She has too much
brains for that,--a girl to cheer but not inebriate."

"I don't want a girl to make me drunk," ejaculated Norris.

"Well, I do," rejoined Dick.

"And though Miss Elton's emotions do not lie on the surface, I'll
warrant they are there," Ellery went on as though letting off pent-up
steam. "They are like her voice--like all her motions--neither loud nor
faint, but exquisitely modulated. She seems to me like the embodiment of
innocence,--not the innocence of ignorance, but the untaintedness of a
mind that goes through the world selecting the best, as the bee takes
honey and leaves the rest. There's no subject, so far as I can see, on
which she is afraid to think; but I can not imagine that any subject
would leave a deposit of mire in her mind."

"Gee whizz!" scoffed Dick. "How fluent your year of journalism has made
you! What a great thing it is to be a serious-minded young man with
eye-glasses, engaged, while yet in youth, in molding public opinion
through the mighty agent of the press! And Madeline is another of the
same kind."

"I wish I were of her kind," said Ellery stiffly. "You may poke fun at
me as much as you like, Dick, but it's beneath you to jeer at her."

"You old duffer, aren't you two the best friends I have in the world? I
like the clear and frosty mountain peaks."

"How did you find out about Barry?" Ellery asked abruptly.

"I do not have to tell you any more than Madeline." Seeing the grim look
on Norris' face, Dick went on, "Let's go in and to bed. We seem to rub
each other the wrong way to-night. If we don't separate soon we shall be
having a French duel."



The gates of the delectable world, it seemed to Lena, opened very
slowly, and the mild fragrance and warmth that dribbled out to her
through their narrow crack intensified her outer dreariness. Once in a
while Mrs. Lenox or Miss Elton did her some little kindness.
Occasionally Mr. Percival came to see her, but her shame of her mother
and her home made these visits a doubtful pleasure. The sordid monotony
of her work oppressed her every morning and depressed her every night.
The little money that she earned fell like a snow-flake into the yawning
furnace of her desires. Bitter is the fate of her to whom the goods of
this world are the final good, and to whom those goods are denied.

There came a night when a certain great lady gave a dance, and Lena was
deputed by the feminine head of the staff of the _Star_ to report these
doings of society. At first the chance looked to her delightful. She was
to have a peep into the world of charm which was her dream and her
ambition. She walked through the wide empty rooms with their soft lights
and masses of flowers. She surveyed the dining-room, a wilderness of
candles, orchids and maiden-hairs. She felt her feet sink luxuriously
into the rugs, oh, so different from the threadbare ingrain carpet at
home! She peeped into the ball-room, smilax-draped and glowing as if
eager to welcome the guests to come. Through it all she carried a prim
air, making businesslike notes on her little pad; but beneath her very
demure exterior raged a storm of rebellion that these things should be
and not be for her. The world was one huge sour grape; and yet she must
smile as though it tasted sweet. There were blurs in her eyes as she
stumbled up the back stairs, whither her way was pointed, that she might
stand in a corner of the dressing-room where the now fast-arriving
ladies were laying off their wraps. She swallowed a lump in her throat
and winked hard in the attempt to forget or ignore the careless looks
thrown at her by these ladies, as the maids removed the long cloaks made
more for splendor than for warmth, or drew up the gloves on bare arms
less lovely than her own. Many of the women looked twice at her, and
she thought, and resented the fact, that they were surprised to see so
much beauty. She could not be impersonal like the other
reporters,--sensible girls, taking all this as a part of the day's work,
and whispering names to one another, which Lena, too, must catch and
treasure for her reportorial harvest. She must glance with swift
inclusiveness at the more striking gowns, that later she may serve them
up in the technical slapdash of the social column.

An hour of it left her faint and sick, not with cynical scorn of the
spectacle, but with longing and self-pity. The crowd in the
dressing-room was thinning now, but, whether she had finished her duty
or not, she must escape. She could endure it no longer. Again she made
her way down the narrow non-angelic stairs and out at a little side
door. The night air was sweet and cold. She paused for a moment under
the light of the porte-cochère to watch the string of carriages and the
swirl of silk and laces that passed through the opening door, to listen
to gusts of music that came to an abrupt end as the outside door shut on

Suddenly a figure loomed beside her, and she look up to see Dick
Percival, straight and big, with the electric light gleaming on his
white shirt-front, where his overcoat fell back. There was an unpleasant
sternness in his deeply-shadowed eyes.

"Miss Quincy!" he exclaimed. "What are you doing here!"

"I was sent to report it," said Lena weakly. "I'm going home now."

"Going home alone? Nearly midnight?"

"What else can I do? It's what the other girls--reporters, I mean--have
to do."

"I shall walk home with you," said Dick sharply, and he drew her aside
into the shadow, as though ashamed of being seen, and piloted her in
silence to the sidewalk. Lena gave a little sob as he drew her arm
through his, and still they walked on until the lights of the great
house grew dim in the distance and only the quiet of the city streets by
night enveloped them.

"Ought you not to go back now? You'll lose all the pleasure," said Lena

"Are you doing much of this kind of thing?" Dick demanded.

"This is the first time."

"I hope it will be the last," he answered glumly.

"So do I--I don't like it," whispered Lena.

"I--I can't endure it--Lena!" Lena started as she heard her name. "Lena,
come over here into the park for just a moment. I want to talk to you."

"I can't. It's awfully cold, and--" said Lena, but she followed his lead
as she remonstrated.

"And you have on a wretched little thin coat. Why aren't you decently

"I haven't anything." Lena spoke under her breath. Dick stamped his foot
as a substitute for a curse, whipped off his heavy great-coat, wrapped
her in it, and pushed her down on to a bench.

"Lena," he said, standing squarely in front of her, "I know I've no
right to hope for anything--no right to speak, even, when you know me so
little; but, by Heaven, I can't endure to see you grinding out your life
in this way, when there's even a chance that you will let me prevent it.
You flower of a girl, you! Oh, Lena, I love you--I love you!"

He caught a small white hand that held together the heavy coat, and
kissed it in a kind of frenzy, while Lena, rigid with desire to be quite
sure what this signified, peered stolidly at him from over the big
collar. She was too wise in her generation to leap to conclusions about
the ultimate meaning of Dick's passion. She would not unbottle any
emotion until she knew.

"Lena, if you could see how I love you, you'd trust me, I think, even
with yourself. If you will be my wife--"

Something in Lena seemed to break, and she gave a gasp of relief and
gratitude that was almost prayer and approached love. Then she buried
her face in her hands and sobbed aloud, as Dick put both arms around her
and drew her head to his shoulder.

"Lena, can you--do you love me a little?" he whispered, as if in awe.

"Oh, Mr. Percival," said Lena, "I do! How could I help it? But I could
not dream of your loving poor little insignificant me."

"And how could I help it?" he said, mocking her. "Little, you may be,
but this part is bigger than the whole world. You belong to me now, and
I won't have you depreciate yourself."

"Oh, Mr. Percival, is it true?"

"Suppose you say 'Dick', and thank God that it is."

"Dick, Dick, Dick--it is," said Lena very softly, and she frankly put
her arms around his neck, and her soft lips to his cold cheek, so that
he lost himself in an ecstasy of delight and wonder.

So they sat in the doubtful shadow of a leafless maple, on a hard park
bench, on a chilly November night, and though Dick was half frozen they
were both more than happy. And they talked, in lovers' fashion, over the
great fact, and how it all happened.

The mellow chimes of the city hall began to strike twelve--a most
persistent hour, and Lena started into consciousness.

"Dick, I must go home," she said. "None of those girls, the nice girls,
Miss Elton or any one like that, would do such an improper thing, would

"I should think not," said Dick. "I wouldn't ask them to."

"And I wouldn't allow them," laughed Lena. "Now come, like a dear boy,
and walk home with me."

"There are so many more things that I want to say," remonstrated Dick.
"Stop a moment under this light and let me see your eyes, Lena. You'll
have to look up. I want to talk plain business to you. First, you'll
give up this reporting folly, won't you?"

"To-morrow," said Lena joyously.

[Illustration: They talked in lovers' fashion--Page 216]

"What an admirably obedient wife you are going to make! But I'm glad you
hate it. If ever you feel a mad desire to take it up again, we'll go
into the library together and write up _Godey's Lady's Book_. I want
your life to be sweet and sheltered and filled with good things now."

"Oh, Dick, to think of that kind of a life coming to me!"

"It ought to have come to you long ago. It was bound to come, because it
belongs to you. But things being as they are, you must give yourself
into my keeping as soon as possible, sweetheart. There's no reason why
we shouldn't be married at once, or nearly so, is there, dear?"

Here Lena hesitated, a little in doubt whether she ought to show maiden
reluctance, and her lover went on with his argument.

"You are so alone, dear. Don't let any foolish hesitation prolong this
bad time of yours."

"What about my mother?" demanded Lena, with a sudden descent to the
region of hard facts.

"Do you want her to live with us?" Dick asked with a gulp.

"No, I don't!" Lena answered so sharply that Dick started in surprise,
and she gathered herself together.

"It would take a long time for me to explain things to you," she went on
in gentler accents. "But, Dick, mother and I are not very happy
together. I'll tell you all about it some time. Perhaps she would be
just as contented to live somewhere else."

"Very well," said Dick with a sense of relief. "We must make her
comfortable, of course." In reality nobody else's comfort made a rap's
difference just then. "I dare say we can find some jolly little
apartment and somebody to take care of her."

"Hire somebody for her to find fault with," said Lena, with a return of
acid. "What about your mother?"

"Oh, I couldn't let mother live anywhere but in the dear old home. It's
too big and lonely for her by herself, so we must share it with her. And
no other place would ever have the flavor of home, either to her or to

Lena stopped short in her progress.

"Does the house belong to you or to her?"

"Technically to me, I believe--not that it makes the slightest
difference, dear."

"Then I should be mistress of it, not she?"

"I'm sure she'd be only too glad to turn the housekeeping cares over to
your pretty little hands," said Dick, smiling, but a little uneasily.
"She's a good deal of an invalid, you know. But there's plenty of time
to think of all these details. I suppose you've had to worry about the
little things until it's become a habit," he added in a kind of apology
to himself.

"I've been a bond-slave so long," said Lena, "that I'd like to feel
perfectly free and mistress of everything around me." She straightened
her back and squared her soft shoulders.

"So you shall be!" answered Dick happily. "Even of your husband."

"Oh, that, of course," said Lena with an enchanting pout. "Now here we
are, and it's very late. You must go. Good night."

"Good night," said Dick. "I suppose I must not keep you. To think I have
the unbelievable good fortune to kiss you good night, sweetheart."

Mrs. Quincy turned over in the lumpy bed which she and her daughter
shared and said, with a querulousness undiminished by her sleepiness,
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Lena Quincy, gallivanting around
at this hour of night. It ain't decent. But there!"

"I guess I know my business," Lena snapped.

She turned out the gas to undress in the dark rather than encourage her
mother's conversation. She needed to think. An awful problem had just
presented itself. How was she to get a trousseau?

It was in another mood that Dick Percival walked home. Whenever anything
very great and wonderful happens to us, we are apt to bow our heads and
cry, "What am I, that this should be given to me?" Doubtless he is the
noblest man who most often feels this exultant humility. This was Dick's
hour on the mountain. The depth of his own tenderness, the deliciousness
of his passion swept over him like a revelation, as he asked himself in
wonder how it could be that this love had sprung up at once, like
Aphrodite from the waves, where no one could have suspected such a
marvel. He himself had been without realization of how his passing
interest had deepened its roots until now they fed on every part of him.
Love had startled him like a stroke of lightning out of a clear sky, but
it was evident that it was no light that flashed out and then
disappeared. It had come to stay.

Then came self-reproach. He remembered with hot cheeks that he had
actually joked with Ellery about her in early days, and let himself be
bantered in return--cad that he was, incapable of appreciating at first
sight the woman he was to love. He had thought her an exquisite trifle,
almost too illusive to be taken seriously. Now that very illusiveness
was the thing that gripped him closest, like poetry and music and all
the finer elements of life, the most impossible to explain, the most
supreme in their dominion. Beauty meant all this. He found himself
repeating, "Beauty is truth. Truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth,
and all ye need to know." And Lena was beautiful. How beautiful! He
trembled in flesh and spirit at the vision of her face turned up to him
out of the black November darkness, at the memory of the fine texture of
her cheeks and lips.

He did not stop to ask himself whether he and Keats were agreed in their
definition of beauty. Moreover, poor Keats never had the delight of
anything so pink and golden and blue-eyed as Lena Quincy.



A little scrawl of a note, delivered just after breakfast at Mr. Elton's
door, brought Madeline to visit Mrs. Percival, who, like her mother,
seemed to be in continual need of her.

She found that lady lying in her favorite chair in the library--the
chair that had been her refuge in the days of her early widowhood, that
had comfortably housed her when books carried her away from her own
world of sorrows and problems into the world of illusions, the chair in
which she had dreamed of the great things that were to come into a
younger life, not her own, and yet deeply her own,--her son's.

Now she lay back in it with clasped hands, thinner than usual and with
eyes sadder. Madeline came in like a young Hebe, glowing with health and
vigor, and infinitely tender toward fragility.

"You are ill, dear mother Percival," cried the girl, dropping to her
knees and slipping an arm behind her friend's back in an unconscious
attitude of protection.

Mrs. Percival's fingers followed the soft curve that the girl's hair
made around her forehead.

"No, dear," she said slowly, "but I had something to tell you. I wanted
to speak to you myself, before any one else had the chance."

"Please tell me quickly."

"So many of my dearest hopes have come to nothing!" Mrs. Percival went
on, with a little bitterness that Madeline thought unlike her. "Each
blow, as it falls, seems the hardest to bear. I've tried to accept
whatever happens, graciously. It isn't always easy, Madeline, dear."

"Yes?" said Madeline.


"Is anything the matter with Dick?" Madeline rose with a little cry.

"Dick does not think so," his mother answered. "My child, you have seen
something of this little Miss Quincy?"

Madeline's eyes dropped for the tenth of a second and a heaviness took
possession of her body; then she lifted her head bravely.

"Yes," she answered, "I know Miss Quincy--quite the most beautiful girl
I have ever seen."

"Very beautiful," echoed Mrs. Percival. "So I too thought, the only time
I ever saw her. Well, Madeline, what I have to tell you is that Dick is
to marry her."

The girl saw that the older woman's hands were trembling, and she laid
her own warm young palms over the cold old ones.

"I hope Dick will be very happy," she said softly. "I--I'm not a bit
surprised. We ought to have seen that it was coming. And Dick loves

And she laid her cheek against Mrs. Percival's, but the other pushed her
away and stared into the eyes so near her own.

"And you can take it so quietly?" she asked. "Forgive me, dear, if for
once I break down the barriers of reserve. I love you so much, let me be
frank. Surely you know what I hoped, what I thought."

"You thought Dick and I loved each other," Madeline said bravely.

"I hoped so. Heaven knows I hoped so."

"We are too good friends for that, dear Mrs. Percival. One needs a
little something unexplored and unexpected in a lover; don't you think
so? Dick and I knew each other in kilts and pig-tails."

"Well, it seems I am as much of an old fool as Dick is a young one,"
Mrs. Percival said bitterly. "I'm good for nothing but to lie here and
comfort myself with dreams."

"You're an old dear, and Dick is a young one," Madeline tried to laugh.
"And Miss Quincy is exquisite--charming."

"An old fool," repeated Mrs. Percival. "Now listen, sweetheart! If Dick
marries this girl, I have no intention of forgetting that he is my son,
and that she is his wife. I shall do all I can to help her to be worthy
of him; but before that happens, I am going to have the satisfaction of
speaking to just one person in the world--you--exactly what I think
about it. From what Mrs. Lenox told me, after her visit in the country,
and from what I saw myself, I think she is a vulgar little image
overlaid with tinsel."

"Oh, don't!" Madeline cried. "You and I do not really know her, but we
can trust Dick. He's too fine himself to be attracted by anything but
fineness. She must have character to have made the fight she has with

"Attracted by character! Pins and figs! My son is just like all the
others, I am finding. He's attracted by pink flesh. And as for heart
and soul--all the women that Dick has known well have been women of
refinement. He takes their purity and nobility for granted, as a part of
womanhood. He thinks he's marrying you and me. His reason has nothing to
do with it."

For the moment Madeline had no answer, and Mrs. Percival went on:

"It's foolish to care what people say about your tragedies. Oh, you
needn't shake your head. This is a tragedy, Madeline. And I do care
about the world. I hate to think of the whispering and gossiping because
my son--my son--has fallen a victim to a cheap adventuress."

"Nonsense," Madeline broke out. "Miss Quincy isn't an outcast, just
because she has had the world's cold shoulder. And people aren't so
silly as to let such external things prejudice them."

"Don't mistake me, dearie. I'm not taking exception to the girl because
she works. We're all--those of us that are good for much--the mothers
and wives and daughters of men who work, and we share in their labor. I
could admire and love a real worker, but this butterfly creature affects
me like a parasite--a woman who wants to get and not to give. It's just
because I feel that she isn't a real worker that I am afraid of her."

"And that, even if it is true, may be only the result of sordid
surroundings." Madeline's heart misgave her, for she had learned to
respect Mrs. Percival's judgments. "She'll blossom out and add
womanliness to beauty in such an atmosphere as you and Dick will give

"Spontaneous generation will not do everything. You must have the germ
of a heart before you can develop the whole thing. Do you think you can
really change a girl who has lived for twenty years in the wrong

"You are judging cruelly," Madeline cried. "Of course every one has the
germs of good."

"And did it ever occur to you that the kind of love that Dick will give
his wife may be too good--so far above a coarse-grained woman that it
will not touch her comprehension? A lower grade of man might bring her
out better."

"It's impossible to think of so exquisite a creature being
coarse-grained," Madeline exclaimed. "I, for one, am going to believe in
her, and in a year, with you and Dick and mother and Mrs. Lenox and
myself all backing her, you'll be proud of her loveliness and tact. I
shall be only Cinderella's ugly sister. But you must not ever quite
forget me, Mrs. Percival." And Madeline laughed most cheerfully.

Mrs. Percival smiled in return. "Well, I have had my explosion. It's
extraordinary what a relief it is, once in a while. I'm not often so
guilty, am I, Madeline? After all, I've told you my fears rather than my
convictions. The situation does not seem so bad, now that I have said
even more than I think. Hereafter I shall find it easy to hold my

"And you will try to like her?" Madeline asked anxiously.

"Of course, my dear. I shall try harder than any one else. I am going in
state to pay her a motherly call this very afternoon, feeling all the
time like a plated volcano." Mrs. Percival leaned back with a small
_moue_, then sat up again. "There's my boy's latch-key in the
lock now," she said.

Dick halted at the door when he saw the two and knew that they must have
been talking of him. He had something of an air of defiance thickly
overlaid with innocence; but Madeline went to meet him with hands

"Dick," she exclaimed, "I congratulate you with all my heart. She's the
prettiest creature in the world."

Dick, manlike, regarded this as the highest possible tribute to his
beloved and glowed in return. His defiance dropped like a shell and he
shook Madeline's hands with enthusiasm.

"You're a trump," he said. "I shall not forget how good you have been to
her; and I hope you two will always be friends."

"I should think so! I should like to see your trying to prevent us,
Dick," said Madeline saucily. "And your mother is going to love her,
too, when--"

"When we are married," Dick answered with silly masculine

"And that is to be soon!"

"As soon as I can manage it. I can't bear to have Lena living as she
does now; and there's no reason why we shouldn't cut it short."

"No reason at all. I don't wonder you feel so. Good-by, both of you."

Dick saw her to the door and Madeline walked out with her usual
deliberate serenity.

She found her way home with bottled-up emotions, as a hurt child holds
in the cry until he gets to the spot where mother's breast waits for the
inarticulate sobs. Everything she had done and said seemed to have been
the act of some far-away self, that had hardly any connection with the
real Madeline. The earth danced around her and she was incapable of real
thought. And yet the well-trained, automatic body that was her outer
shell conducted itself with reason. It even stopped in the living-room
to kiss her mother; it apparently skimmed a new copy of _Life_; it
convoyed her slowly up stairs to her own room, where it shut and locked
her door. But here her real self resumed control, as she threw herself
into an easy chair by the window and stared out at the desolation of
December where dead leaves went whirling in elfin eddying clouds.

For a few moments she let the solar system rock and reel around her, and
watched everything she had thought stable go up in smoke. Then upon the
world, swirling and pounding meaninglessly, there came an intense quiet.
She knew that the outer world was as serene as ever; but a great
throbbing pain within showed her that it was only her own little atom of
self that was revolutionized. Nature was not upset. There was still
order for her to hold fast to. For the first time she began to analyze
herself and her emotions.

She could not say that she had planned her future, but it had seemed so
natural and inevitable that she had accepted it without planning, almost
without thought. Dick and she had belonged to each other ever since they
could remember. At ten they had been outspoken lovers, and ever since
there had been that intimate comradeship that seemed to her to imply the
unspoken relation, behind, above, below. All this she had taken for
granted, like mother-love and her own dawning womanhood. And now Dick,
the chief corner-stone of her edifice, was torn away, and the whole airy
structure toppled and dissolved.

"I've been assuming all this," she said to herself, "and marriage isn't
a thing to take for granted. Shouldn't I have resented it if Dick had
appropriated me as though I belonged to him and had lost my freedom of
choice? I've been unfair to him. And now--if I should never marry--there
are surely plenty of good things left in the world. But are there?"

Madeline had always been characterized by those who knew her as lovely
and placid. And why not? What else should life draw out of a girl of
normal nature, surrounded by protecting love, given the good things of
life as by right, shielded from the knowledge of evil, never facing a
problem more exciting than those of Euclid. But now something began to
stir in the unknown depths of her nature. For the first time in her life
she had had a blow. There rose before her a vision of endless
maidenhood. She saw herself as she had seen other women--uninteresting
women, she had thought them. Now they seemed to her like
tragedies--women whose lives did not count, either to themselves or to
the world, middle-aged, somber, unrelated. To be childless, to eat and
dress and wear the semblance of womanhood, even to play a little part in
society, and yet to be but half a woman! To be no link in the
generations! This was unendurable. The first demand of every soul is for
life, and yet life is life only when it is part of the future. To live
oneself one must live in others. All the mother hidden in the depths of
her rose and cried out against any destiny that shut her out from the
great stream of humanity.

"I shall be a side-eddy in the current. I shall grow stagnant and slimy
and lead nowhere. And the rushing waters will go leaping and laughing

She got up and moved restlessly up and down the room. She looked again
out of the window at the sober end of the winter day. In the tree
branches that clattered outside, her eyes fell on an empty nest.

"And am I to be such a thing?" she said. "Surely all the world must bow
down in pity for the solitary woman." Some half-forgotten lines came
back to her:

    "Mine ear is full of the rocking of cradles.
    For a single cradle, saith Nature, I would give every one of my graves."

By her little practice piano her eyes fell on the pages of Schubert's
unfinished symphony.

"Unfinished!" she said. "And yet even there is the phrase that comes and
comes again, sweeter and more full of meaning in every renewed variety.
So I must have love to play through my life, or else it will be nothing
but a medley. It must be my music's theme; even if the symphony is
unfinished. Are there women who can do without it, who can take a life
alone and make it sweet and satisfying? Not I, oh God, not I! I'm no
exceptional creature. I'm just a plain woman. And if life doesn't give
me wifehood and motherhood, it gives me nothing. I wonder if all women
feel this way. This pretty little Lena,--is she bursting with primal
need of giving and taking? At any rate she has put something in Dick's
face that was never there before--that I'd give my soul to see in a
man's face when he looks at me."

Hitherto the world had ambled along in an amiable way; and now it
suddenly turned and delivered a blow in the face. Every one is destined
to receive such blows, some get little else. But the test comes in the
way they are received. You may use belladonna as a poison, or you may
use it to help the blind to see. So when pain comes, you may take it to
your bosom and suckle it till it becomes a fine healthy child, too heavy
for you to carry; or cast out the changeling and leave it on the
doorstep to die. It matters little how much anguish skulks about the
outside of life, so long as it finds no lodgment in the sacred shrines
of the heart. Madeline met her first grief and fought it off; and, even
while she thought it had given her a mortal wound, came the revelation
of the powerlessness of the poor thing. She put her arms down on the
window-sill to cry deliberately, but something dried her tears.

"I couldn't put that look in Dick's face, but could he put it in mine?
Was this taking of things for granted the best love of which I am
capable? I've found out to-day that there are all kinds of things in me
that I have never dreamed of before, and passion is one of them, and
rebellion. Great heavens! I might have married him and been serene and
never found things out."

She seemed to be looking at a new Madeline; and while she stared,
startled, this self grew greater and stronger.

"This is not the end of life; it is the beginning," she whispered. "I've
been looking down the wrong road. Dick has no such power over me as to
consign me to misery everlasting. I am mistress of my own fate. I have
not handed it over to him. Happiness is not a thing to get. It is a
state of mind to live in. It is my own affair, not that of others." She
rested her chin in her hands and fell into a girl's day-dream, in which
the nightmare was forgotten.

Twilight fell at last, and faint sounds came up to her to remind her
that down stairs there were well-beloved people who did not know and
should never know of her little vigil. Her father must be coming home.
It was time for her to put on her armor and go down. Armor is one of the
necessities of life. If we can't wear it in steel plates on the outside,
we must mask the face with impenetrability and the manner with pretense.
Never let the heart be vulnerable. Yet, try as we may, something of our
weakness is laid bare. Hereafter Miss Elton might be serene, but would
never again be placid.

But now she was quite herself.

Down stairs her father read the paper and her mother sat near the big
table, hem-stitching. For them everything was settled, and settled
satisfactorily. They knew whom they were going to marry, and whether
love was to be a success, and where they were going to live, and what
they were going to do. Henceforth, for them the game meant only
pleasantly plodding onward along paths already marked out. Just a
wholesome common marriage, planted with the seed of love and watered
with small self-sacrifices. How could they possibly remember the
restlessness of youth, to whom all these things are hidden in the mists
of the future, and who is longing for everything and sure of nothing?

Madeline sat down at the piano and her hands fell inevitably into
phrasing the "unfinished symphony." She became aware that her mother
laid down the stitching and Mr. Elton's evening paper ceased to crackle.
As she stopped her father stood behind her. He bent and kissed the
little parting in her hair.

"Your music grows sweeter and richer day by day, little girl," he said.
"I suppose as more comes into your life you have more to give. I'm glad
that you give it out to us old folks at home."

Madeline wheeled about and sprang to her feet.

"Ah," she exclaimed, "if you have finished with your stupid old paper,
I'll give you a real piece of news. It's a 'scoop' too, for no reporter
has got hold of it yet. Dick Percival is engaged to little Miss Quincy."

Both father and mother stared at her in silence. She stood a little
behind the chandelier, where the light shone full on her face, and in
neither mouth nor eyes could they see the trace of shadow. On the
contrary, there was a radiant loveliness about her that astonished those
that loved her best.

Then Mr. Norris was announced.

Now when Miss Elton had her first peep into her soul, and so stirred up
the possibilities in her nature, she also awoke to new insight into what
was going on behind other people's eyes. The day when she could look a
young man squarely in the face and say to him whatever she thought had
passed. The period of unconscious girlhood, much prolonged in her case,
came to an end. Since, in this world, shadow goes with sunshine, so
demons tag after angels; and with the dawn of her sweeter womanhood,
Madeline developed a new spirit of contrariety and coquetry that
astonished no one so much as herself.

When Mr. Norris came in, his apologetic glance told her at once that she
had hardly spoken to him since she had turned up her straight little
high-bred nose and informed him and Dick that she despised their
underhand ways; told her, also, what had not dawned on her before, that
here was an abject creature, and that it was the province of womanhood
to batter and buffet him who is down, perhaps in secret fear of that day
when outraged manhood will rise and claim a tyranny of its own.

So she put out her hand with that stiffness that holds at arm's length
and said:

"Oh, how dy' do, Mr. Norris," just as though they had never sailed
together in dual solitude, and she allowed her lip to curl in evidence
of her disapproval of the much warmer greeting of her elders.

She sat down and eyed and tapped a small bronze slipper, while she
ignored the reproachful glances of her mother at her rank desertion of
conversational duties. Her father hardly noticed it. He himself so liked
young men that he frequently forgot that his daughter and not himself
might be the object of their quest. So he plunged cheerfully into an
animated discussion of the new tide in civic politics, while Norris
dully and conscientiously tried to bear up his end.

Ellery's eyes, however, as well as the thoughts behind those superficial
thoughts that guided his words, were absorbed in the other side of the
room, where Miss Elton canvassed with her mother the merits of various
embroidery silks. She was lovelier than ever. He had thought her perfect
before, but to-night she had added a sheen to perfection and made herself
entrancing, both reposeful and vivid. He wondered if she had heard of
Dick's engagement and if her color covered a pale heart.

Suddenly she flung up her head impatiently, and came behind her father's
chair to clap a small hand over his mouth in the middle of a sentence of
which Norris had entirely lost track.

"Father, father," she cried, "do you think Mr. Norris wants to come here
and maunder over stupid politics all the evening, after he has been
writing stupid editorials about them all day? They _are_ stupid--I've
read some of them." She smiled at the young man. "Wouldn't you both
infinitely rather hear me sing?"

Mr. Elton kissed the offending hand before he put it gently down.

"I know I should."

Norris sprang up.

"May I turn your music?" he asked eagerly, but she shook her head as she
moved away.

"There isn't going to be any music to turn."

She began to sing the same little Roumanian song that he remembered on
their last evening in the Lenox house, and his spirits, lifted for a
moment by her smile, went down again.

    "Into the mist I gazed and fear came on me,
    Then said the mist, 'I weep for the lost sun.'"

She sang passionately and he could have cried aloud. It was true then
that she was grieving for Dick.

"The music is uncanny, isn't it?" she said, as she ended and found him
near her. "How does it make you feel?"

"If I should find an image for my feelings just at present, you would
scorn me for my base material thoughts."

"Find it," she commanded.

"I think I feel like a mince-pie--a maddening jumble of things delicious
and indigestible."

She laughed and grew friendly. This, he thought, is, after all, her
permanent mood; but before he could take advantage of it another caller,
Mr. Early, appeared; and again she basely deserted Norris to the mercies
of her father and mother, and devoted herself to the evident
beatification of the apostle of the new in art.



One gloomy evening in January Mr. Early sat alone. He had so many
tentacles spread out through the world of men and women that solitude
was unusual to him. Indeed it had often occurred to him, as an example
of the fallacy of ancient sayings, that there was nothing in that old
epigram about the loneliness of the great. The higher he had risen in
the scale of greatness the more insistently and persistently had the
world invaded his life, until even his appreciation of solitude had

This particular day had been a hard one. The problems of glass and rugs
were unusually complicated, and the interruptions to continuous thought
more numerous than usual. Moreover, without warning, like a meteor of
magnificent proportions, Swami Ram Juna, with many paraphernalia of
travel, had suddenly reappeared to ask for that once-proffered
hospitality. Not without state and courtesy could such a being be
welcomed; and courtesy takes time.

Finally, to discuss the matter of the outer cover for the next issue of
_The Aspirant_, a henchman invaded his privacy. Sebastian looked over a
pile of designs, and chose a flat but lurid young woman, in a
sphinx-like attitude against a background of purple trees. Then came the
more difficult question of an aphorism to be printed on the table
against which the lurid young woman leaned. It was the habit of _The
Aspirant_ to convey, even on its outside, wisdom to the world, and the
thinking up of smart young aphorisms is not always an easy task. Mr.
Early at length evolved: "It has been said of old: 'Know thyself.' I say
unto thee, 'Forget thyself. Know thy brother.'"

"That sounds fairly well," said Mr. Early wearily, and he dismissed the
henchman and settled himself in a particularly benevolent arm-chair, in
front of a cheerfully-roaring fire. The place was a remote room,
decorated not for public inspection but for comfort. Mr. Early was
tired. A certain new question had been waiting in the antechambers of
his mind, and to-night he determined to give it leisurely attention;
for of late it had several times been borne in him that he was getting
along in years and that if he did not intend to die a bachelor, it
behooved him to move swiftly. The thought had been quickened into
livelier vitality when, at a dinner a few nights before, he had watched
the face and studied the figure of Miss Madeline Elton.

She was certainly a rare creature. There was a verve, a magnetic quality
to her, that he hardly remembered before. Her beauty, her nobility, her
purity he felt to be the artistic attributes of womanhood. No, he not
only admired them, they charmed him.

"Yes," said Mr. Early. "By Jove, if she'd lift her little finger at me I
believe I'd make a fool of myself over her! And why shouldn't I? Why
shouldn't I let myself go? I've got everything else now. A woman of her
bigness likes a man who can do things and who controls other men. By
Heaven, I believe we were made for each other!"

Mr. Early grew so excited by the strength of his new passion that he
sprang to his feet and walked up and down to luxuriate in the idea.

Proportionately great was his annoyance when a knock invaded his
self-communion, and his man's face appeared at the door to tell him that
Mr. Murdock would like to speak with him. While he was yet opening his
mouth to anathematize Mr. Murdock, that gentleman entered, familiar and

The man who came in was, in his way, a force almost as great and as
worthy of regard as Mr. Sebastian Early himself--in fact no less a
personage than the power behind the throne of that uncrowned king,
William Barry. Though he did not sit on Olympian heights and play with
the thunderbolts of jobs and contracts, as Barry did, yet he had an
occasional way of interfering in the game, just as in Greek legend Fate
loomed large behind the back of Zeus.

Mr. James Murdock was a business genius who dipped into politics, not
for office nor yet for glory, but only for gain. Originally a partner of
Mr. Early's, when, just as some one else invented a better hook-and-eye,
their business was sold out, Murdock let his many-sidedness run riot in
a dozen directions. While Mr. Early's abilities led him to "get all
there was in it" out of the public on its imaginative side, Murdock
worked out his fortune in more practical necessities. St. Etienne was a
western city, full of growth and therefore full of needs. There were
miles and miles of asphalt to be laid; there were wooden sidewalks
crying out to be replaced by stone; there were lighting and watering and
park-making; and it was astonishing in how many companies, doing these
things, Mr. Murdock had a share, and how frequently his companies
secured the contracts for doing them. When rival contractors attempted
these public works, there were apt to be strikes and complications which
seldom occurred when Murdock had the job. Then all went smoothly and
merrily. And this shows how friendship rules the world. For Murdock was
the friend of Barry; and Barry was the friend of the strike-ordering
walking-delegates. If these three elements, representing the city
fathers, the contractors and the laborers, were all satisfied with the
way the city's work was being done, who remained to cavil? Certainly not
the citizens. St. Etienne's wheels moved almost without friction.

But Murdock went further than this. His was a fine instinct for
organization. He used Barry like a fat pawn, moved down to the king row,
until the boss alderman was able to look abroad on his noble army of
small officeholders and contractors, who could be trusted, not only to
vote as directed (for to vote is a simple and ineffectual thing), but
also to bring up their hundreds and thousands of well-trained dogs to
vote, and, if need be, to vote again, and then to see that the votes
were properly counted.

It was to Murdock's far-reaching mind that Barry was indebted for the
regulation of interests by which almost every man who served the city,
and particularly those who served it badly and expensively, was tied to
Barry by ties closer than those of brotherly love. Whether official,
contractor or working-man, they owed job or contract to the influence
that Barry seemed to exercise in the councils of the city. It was by
Murdock's advice that the better residence district was well-policed,
well-lighted, well-paved and generally contented with things as they
were. By Murdock's suggestion the city's interests were zealously
guarded in the discussions of the council.

When a committee of the Municipal Club visited that august body to
listen to a debate on a certain paving contract, they could not help
being impressed by the large knowledge of materials and methods
displayed by their representatives, and the unanimity with which they
agreed that a particular bid was, if not the cheapest, the most deeply
satisfying of those offered. What they could not know was the ingenuity
with which Murdock saved both the brain and the time of the council by
arranging its debate beforehand. But the committee did mention, among
themselves, the incongruity between the actual condition of St.
Etienne's streets and the wisdom of the Solons.

But, though Murdock's was the brain to originate and systematize schemes
of plunder for which Barry alone had been incapable, once in a while the
"boss" grew restive under dominion, in spite of the knowledge that, if
he should once break with the master mind, he would soon make some fatal
mistake and another would become the whole show. So, if the reign of
King Barry was for long temperate and orderly, it was because Murdock
impressed upon him that royal arrogance breeds discontent and finally
revolt, and that by big rake-offs, on the quiet, enough could be gained
to satisfy the ambition of a well-regulated man; and that while
plundering was done with decency, the reform-talk of the Municipal
Clubites would prove no more useful nor ornamental than a Christmas

"Don't hog everything!" as Murdock sagely put it. "Let the other fellow
have the small end of the trough, and as long as he ain't hungry, he
won't squeal."

With equal sternness he repressed Billy's fancy for fast horses and Mrs.
Billy's taste for green velvet and diamonds.

"It don't look well on a salary of eighteen hundred," he said. "Just you
be contented with having things your own way without talking about it.
Throw all the dust you like, but don't let it be gold dust."

"You cut a pretty wide swath yourself," Billy growled.

"I ain't a alderman, serving the city for pure love and a small salary,"
grinned the other. "A contractor's got a right to make money."

"You make money out o' me," said Billy sourly. "You keep me under your
big fat ugly thumb. I guess I can run this business alone. I got all the
strings pretty well in my own hand."

"All right, Barry. I'll be sorry to be on the other side, but if you say
so, all right."

Barry swore a moment under his breath and changed the subject. So
matters went on, with Barry still subservient, but growing daily more
inclined to believe himself the autocrat he seemed, daily a little less
cautious, a little more fixed in his assurance that the officeholders,
the delegates and the saloon men constituted, in themselves, a
sufficient prop for his dominion, and that Murdock was a nuisance.

"Of course, it's to his interest to keep me under," he said to himself,
"and I dunno' whether I'm a fool to let him do it, or whether I'm a fool
to try to break away."

He began to try flyers on his own hook; he gathered many rake-offs of
which he said nothing to his mentor; he drank a little more and splurged
a little more and looked a little more like a bulldog and less like a
man. That the spirit of rebellion was growing up and that the pawn began
to take credit to itself for the position of power in which it was
placed, came gradually home to Mr. Murdock. It made him at first
annoyed, then anxious. So it was that the confidence bred from years of
business coöperation drove him this night to look up his old partner.

"Evening, Early," he said as the door closed behind him. "Beastly cold
night out. Wish you'd order me a little something hot to induce me to
stay by this comfortable fire of yours."

Mr. Early waved his hand toward a chair and settled himself without
ceremony. There was this comfort in Murdock: they had known each other
too long for pose, and, though the old hook-and-eye partnership was
dissolved, and Mr. Early had soared into the realms of Art, they were
still closely bound by common interests. So Sebastian met him with
cheerful resignation.

"Sit down, Jim," he said. "I don't mind a nip myself. What's up?"

"What's down, you'd better ask. Lord save us! What's that?" exclaimed
Mr. Murdock, as he caught sight of the lurid lady lying amid the litter
on the table.

"That's the cover of my next magazine. Never mind it. It's not in your

"Well, I should say not," said the other with a slow grin. "I've been
pretty much vituperated for some of my business deals, but I never
sprung a thing like that on the public. 'Forget thyself!' That's good,
Early." He winked a wink that came more from the soul than from the eye.

"Oh, drop it, Jim," said Mr. Early, relapsing into the old vernacular.
"I'm sick of everything to-night. Here's your cocktail. Help yourself to
a cigar."

"You ought to get married, instead of sitting here with the blues all by
yourself. Tell you, a warm little wife is a nice thing to come home to."

"Thank you, Jim," said Mr. Early dryly.

They sank into silence, a comfortable silence, permeated with the
fragrance of tobacco, with warmth in the cardiac region, and with that
crackle of burning logs that satisfieth the soul. But occasionally Mr.
Early shot a sharp glance at his companion, and his study did not
reassure him. At last he spoke.

"Well, out with it, Jim. It's evident that you've something on your

"You're right, I have," said Murdock with sudden emphasis. "I don't know
whether you can help me, but it's second nature for me to try you. I'm
getting anxious about Barry and affairs connected with him."

"What about Barry? I thought you had him in your pocket."

"Oh, I've still got him in the pocket over my heart, and buttoned down
tight," said Mr. Murdock grimly. "It's because he belongs to me that I'm
looking out for him."

"Well," said Mr. Early, and he leaned forward nervously to poke the fire
that needed no poking.

"Well! In spite of me, Billy's getting restless. He's getting worse than
restless, and I'm afraid to think how he may break out. You know how he
loses his sense once in a while. Have you noticed how the _Star_ has
been running him of late?" Mr. Murdock slowly gathered force in stating
his grievances.

"Yes, I've noticed it," said Mr. Early.

"The _Star_ is the only paper I haven't got a strangle hold of--at least
so I thought. But some of the other dailies are butting in. Say they're
afraid not to. Of course, an occasional black eye is all in the day's
work. It rather helps things along. Billy expects it, and he isn't
thin-skinned. It doesn't make much difference as long as our own organs
print what they're told. But, say, this thing is going beyond a joke.
Billy has been really cut up over the way this coroner business is
getting home to the public. He says if there is going to be squirming,
he'll look out that there are other people squirming besides himself. I
suppose that's meant as a threat for me. You know there are things--even
affairs that you are interested in, Sebastian--that are all on the
square, you know, and perfectly right, but they take too much explaining
for the public ever to understand them."

"I know," said Mr. Early, still poking the fire.

"And do you know who is back of the whole rumpus?"

"Who?" demanded Mr. Early sharply, looking up.

"Primarily this infernal next-door neighbor of yours."


"Percival. He's too much of a kid to put himself forward, but he's
really the whole thing. He's been sneaking around town for months,
picking up information. He has a confounded cheerful way of making
friends that has cut him out for the job of politics, if he would just
put himself on the right side. Of course he has no more idea of
practical politics than--" Mr. Murdock looked around for an object of
comparison and concluded lamely, "than that girl on your magazine cover.
And what do you think is the latest?"


"He's stirred up that mare's nest of a dude club till they've taken to
sending a committee to attend every meeting of the council--which is

"But not necessarily serious."

"Not in itself, though it's getting on Barry's nerves, as you people of
fashion say. To tell you the truth, I've had to make a concession to
Barry, just to keep him in order. I preferred him right on the council
where he is, but he's got a bee in his top-hat. He wants to run for
mayor. I suppose he wants to show people what a great man he really is.
I gave in to him on that point. Now here comes in the thing that made me
look you up. Barry has some sort of an acquaintance with this Percival
fellow, and when he proclaimed his intentions, Percival jumped on him
with a flat defiance--told him that he had proof of a disreputable
affair in Barry's career that would queer him with the whole community.
How your neighbor got hold of this thing, I'm jiggered if I can guess. I
thought I was the only man in the city that knew it, and it has been my
chief club to keep Barry in order. But however he got them, Percival's
facts were all square, and Barry collapsed. Now, these two patched up an
agreement. Barry promised to give up his candidacy for mayor, and stay
in his seat in the council, and Percival, on his part, agreed to keep

"Well, that suits you all right."

"It would if it ended there, but what I started out to tell you is this:
the Municipal Club is beginning to take up city politics in earnest.
They are organizing systematically in every ward to be ready for a fight
for the council in next fall's election, and, to cap the climax, I was
told to-day that they had succeeded in getting Preston to run for mayor.
Now you know they could hardly have picked out a worse man, so far as we
are concerned. Preston is popular and strong, and he's perfectly
unapproachable. I'd as soon tackle the law of gravitation. It isn't even
pleasant for respectable citizens, like you and me, to come out publicly
against the whole movement. We can't afford to do it. Everything we do
has got to be done on the quiet."

"You needn't get so hot, Jim. It'll blow over. This kind of thing always
does. It's only spasmodic. You ought to know that."

"Well, it's taking a very inconvenient time for its spasms. It may
result in spasmodically losing Billy his seat in the council in
November. Nice thing if we didn't have a clear majority of aldermen next
winter, wouldn't it?" Mr. Murdock was becoming finely sarcastic in his

"I suppose it would be inconvenient," assented Mr. Early.

"Inconvenient!" growled Murdock. "Is that the strongest swear word you
can raise? Do you happen to remember that the lighting franchise expires
next fall? Now do we want it renewed, or do we not? Can we afford to
lose the biggest thing we've got? Do we want Billy to see it through, or
do we not?"

"We certainly do."

"Well, what do you propose to do about it?"

"I don't see that there is much to do except to sit pat, and let it blow

"Suppose when it blew over it should be a cyclone and you and me in the
cellar? No siree, I'm no sitter-down. I'm a fighter, even when I fight
in secret. Damn this feller, Percival, and his gift for making friends
and stirring up enthusiasm for himself! I suspect he has ambitions. So
much the worse for him, if James Murdock is in the ring against him. Do
you know my inferences? I am sure he is not one of the invulnerables.
The fact that he made a concession to Barry gives him away. He didn't
need to. If Barry can work him by a little flattery and an appeal to
their shoddy friendship, he's not one of your out-and-out,
no-compromise, reform-or-die fellows. Say, Early, you know him well.
Can't you get at him?"

Mr. Early gave one of those roundabout motions that suggest a desire to
wriggle out of the whole matter, and answered slowly:

"I shouldn't wonder if the entire business petered out, anyway. It's
almost a year to the next election, and Percival is going to be married
in a few weeks to a pretty little girl, who would never stir a man's
ambitions to anything more than a smart carriage and pair. He's turned
idiotic about her, and let's hope he'll stay so. Just at present I don't
believe all the boodle and graft in the world would turn a hair on him.
Love and politics, my boy, are no more congenial than water and
oil--especially if the politics is rancid."

"We'll have to go into partnership with the lady to keep him down," said
Murdock with a grin. "I've formed more unlikely alliances than that in
my time. Why, good Lord! what's that?" he exclaimed for the second time
that night.

His eyes had fallen upon a tall white column at the back of the room,
and at his words the column moved forward and displayed the flowing
robes, the snowy white turban, the gleaming ruby of Ram Juna.

"Pardon my interruption," said the Hindu courteously. "I have been out.
I am but just returned. And I come to assure myself that all is well
with my admirable host."

"Ah, Murdock, this is my friend, the Swami. He's going to stay with me
while he writes a book. I've given him the west ell, off in the quiet of
the garden, you know," said Mr. Early.

"With kindness you give it. Obligation is mine," said the Swami, with a
deferential movement of his hands. "And I go at once to devote myself to
my greatest work. But now I have visited a lady, Mrs. Appleton, who has
great interest in me, and who desires to form what she calls a class. I
call it, rather, a circle of my friends."

"And what do you do with them?" asked Mr. Murdock, with the same bald
curiosity that one displays at the zoo before the performing seals.

"We increase the sum of nobility in the world," said the Swami softly.
"We sit together in long white robes, such as you see on me, and we pour
out love upon the universe."

"Oh!" said Mr. Murdock. He was too astonished to pursue his

"It is a serene and blessed occupation," said the Swami.

"And do they--does the class pay for that?" Murdock recovered so far as
to ask.

"Pay? Not so!" said the Swami indignantly. "I ask of life no more than a
bare existence and that, a thousand times that, is mine, by the
benevolence of Mr. Early."

"They're devilish pretty women, some of 'em, though. You have that
reward," said Mr. Early jocularly.

The Swami cast on him a glance of cow-like anger, but Mr. Murdock went
on persistently: "And they don't give you any money at all?"

"For myself, no. Some, if it harmonize with their desires, make
contribution through me to the great temple in India, where the brothers
may assemble, a sacred spot among the lonely hills. Some give to that,
but not to me. But I must no longer interrupt. I have made my salute. I
go to my remote room."

With a reverential movement of the head, the white column moved away.

"Gee!" said Mr. Murdock. "Can you stand that kind of thing around all
the time?"

"Oh, I'm interested in all kinds of people," said Mr. Early. "And he's
the most inoffensive creature. I shall hardly see him. He intends to
lock himself up out there in his room most of the time. He meditates in
silence ten hours a day and comes forth to give a lecture that nobody
understands. He's going to be all the rage."

"And, of course, if he's the rage, you have him. I wish you'd make Billy
Barry the rage," said Murdock.

"It's all I can do to popularize myself," said Early whimsically. "I'll
think over the situation a bit, Jim, and see if I can see any way out
from under. Of course, Percival hasn't any record by which you can
discredit him and keep his mouth shut--at least not yet."

As Mr. Murdock took a last sip at the cocktail and made an unceremonious
exit, again Mr. Early settled himself for a period of repose, and again
he was interrupted.

"Pardon," said the deep voice of the Swami. "You sit alone. Is it
permitted that I repose here and join your meditations? For a few
moments? In silence, if you will?"

"I wish you'd pour out a little rest," said Early. "I'm tired."

"In spirit and in body," answered the Swami. "The rush of the wheel of
life, it exhausts. But I comprehend. I also am a man. The great world of
business has its necessities and its value. My outer nature shares in
it. Ah, you know not. You think of me only on one side of being. But,
like you, I have my sympathies with many things."

Mr. Early made no reply, but sank deeper into his chair. The two sat
long in silence. Sebastian looked at the fire and began to build up a
picture of Madeline's face. The Hindu was apparently lost to the
surrounding world, and yet he occasionally darted a glance of swift,
animal-like inquiry at his host.

"Neither do I like the young man Percival," he said placidly, and Mr.
Early started.

"It is your next neighbor, Percival, is it not, who annoys?" the Swami
inquired equably. "The youth who sneers when first I speak at your
house? In India, now, one may do many things that are here impossible.
Ah, but yes, you say, here you may do many things that are in India
impossible. So goes it. Still more. The same forces exist everywhere;
but we in India, we understand the forces that you, brilliant workers
with the superficial, you do not understand. I shall be glad to help
the benevolent Early, if at any time my services are of value. I know to
do many things besides to meditate."

Mr. Early stared in amazement at the unmoved face before him, a face
almost as round and mystifying as the syllable "Om", on which its
thoughts were supposed to be centered.

"And, remember, I, too, dislike the young man Percival," pursued the
Swami blandly.

Mr. Early's mind suddenly stiffened with horror.

"See here," he exclaimed, sitting up, "you understand Mr. Percival is no
enemy of mine. He is, in fact, a friend. You mustn't think you'd be
doing me a kindness by--ah--injuring him in any way."

"My understanding," said the Swami, still unmoved. "Fear no midnight
assassination, noble friend. That is petty--and dangerous. I am not
oblivious of the conventionalities. But the mind may be reached, as well
as the body. Percival may do as I--you--we--wish. The higher animal at
all times controls the lower. Perhaps, at some time, I may serve you.
But you weary. The body makes demands. I bid you good night."

He put out a great paw, and Mr. Early grasped it weakly, feeling that he
was in the position of one who has started an oil "gusher" and can not
control its flow. He might have to light it to get rid of it.

To his own room went Ram Juna, occasionally nodding his head in his
serene manner. He carefully locked behind him the door which connected
his wing with the rest of the house. A few moments he paused listening,
then he crossed his bedroom and the narrow passage that opened on the
garden and entered the little unused room beyond. Here all was dark,
inky dark, for the heavy shutters on the street side of the room were
closed and barred and the shades on the garden front were drawn,
shutting out what dim rays the departed sun had left the night. The
Swami apparently had no need of greater light, for, neglecting the
electric button near the door, he groped quietly about, struck a match
and lighted a single candle, with which he returned to the hallway and
opened the garden door, standing for a moment with the taper flickering
in the rush of cold air that poured in from outside. When he stepped
back and closed the door, there stood beside him another man,
clean-shaven, lean, sharp-nosed and ferret-eyed, whose footstep was
almost as light as that of the Swami himself. Neither of them spoke
until they reached the smaller room and the door was locked.

"You shiver, my friend," said Ram Juna. "The night is cold."

"Freezin', an' so'm I," said the other shortly. "You keep me waiting a
devil of a time."

"Business, oh my friend, business. Can I utter a word to the ears of
your nationality more convincing? I was necessitated to converse with my
host, the rich and amiable Early. Ah, the nature of humanity is
eternally interesting."

His companion grinned.

"Which means, being interpreted, you've got some lay, I suppose. What is

"Abruptness is to me foreign," said the Swami, waving his great hand
with its combination of fat palm and taper fingers. "It disturbs me.
Perhaps, some day, I shall need tell you. The amiable Early is as are
all mankind. On the one side he gropes among infinities. Do we not all
so? On the other side he is tied by this body of clay to the groveling
earth. Are we not all so? Am not even I myself?" The Swami turned
benevolently toward the other.

"You bet! And you can sling language about it!" said the man, and he
opened his rat's mouth and laughed without noise. Even Ram Juna's face
relaxed into its Buddha smile, calm, inscrutable, as the two gazed on
each other. Suddenly the younger drew himself together.

"Well, I ain't got no time to spare," he said. "Are they ready?"

"I, as well as you Americans, can be the votary of business," answered
Ram Juna. "The first principle of business is promptitude. My friend,
they are ready."

"Well, hand 'em over," said the little man. "Now my job begins; and I
guess it's as ticklish as yours. You may need the skill, but I need the

"The daring of the leopard when it leaps from the bush where it
crouches, the daring which is half cunning, eh, my friend?" said the
Swami comfortably. "Here, take the package and go thy way. There will be
more in the future. These I brought with me from India, and even the
eagle customs found them not. Many night-hours have I spent in preparing
them, and mine eyes have been robbed of sleep. It is no slight task to
produce a masterpiece."

"Well, you certainly are a dandy," said the man, examining the contents
of his package. "I never seen anything like it. And those big hands,

"My hands obey the skill of my mind. And here, under the shadow of the
Early, I can work with purer courage. This is the perfection of a place.
It was the idea of genius to come here. Hold, let me examine the way
before thou goest."

"Aw, there won't be any body in the garden at this time o' night, and at
this time o' year."

"Nay, but it is the wise man who leaves no loophole for mistake," said
the Hindu, with practical caution.

He blew out the light and stepped in darkness to the entrance with the
air of one who would refresh his soul by gazing at the stars and wiping
out the trivialities of the day. After he had looked at the heavens, his
eyes fell with piercing swiftness upon the shadows of the garden, its
bushes, manlike or animal-like in the night.

It was as complete a piece of acting as though a large audience had been
there to see, but all thrown away on silence and solitude.

"Coast clear?" said a voice behind him.

"All is well," said the Swami. "Go forth to fortune."

The door closed softly, and Ram Juna sought the repose he had earned.



The first months of winter were full of excitement to Lena. She
frequently assured herself that she was rapturously happy, but, while
intellectually she accepted the fact, no genial warmth pervaded her
consciousness. The entrance to her new life was too brier-sprinkled for
bliss. Daily to face her mother's mingling of complaisance, self-pity
and fault-finding; to meet Dick's friends, whom Lena, in her suspicions,
regarded as thinly-disguised enemies; to scrimp together some little
show of bridal finery for her quiet wedding; all this filled her with
mingled irritation and gratification.

Most aggravating of all were the persistent attentions of Miss Madeline
Elton. No one likes to be loved as a matter of duty, certainly not Lena
Quincy, whose shrewd little soul easily divined that this equable warmth
of manner, which she dubbed snippy condescension, sprang from affection
for Dick and Mrs. Percival and not for herself. Madeline set Lena's
teeth on edge, and it must be confessed that Lena often did as much for
Madeline, but each politely kept her sensations to herself. Miss Elton
always assured her optimistic soul that things would come out all right,
that love was a great developer, that small vulgarities of mind were the
result of association.

Lena, on the other hand, might have broken friendly relations once and
for all except that she found Miss Elton both useful and interesting. A
friendly and very sly conspiracy between Madeline and Mrs. Percival had
for its object the helping out of Lena's meager trousseau by certain
little gifts, and even of money delicately proffered so that it might
not wound a sensitive pride; and since Mrs. Percival was a victim to
invalidish habits, it fell to Madeline to act as executive committee.
But they need not have troubled themselves about delicacy, for Miss Lena
greedily gobbled everything that was offered to her, with pretty
expressions of gratitude, to be sure, but internal irritation because
the donors were not more lavish.

Madeline, who would have shrunk from accepting a gift except from one
she really loved, of course expected Lena to feel the same way, and
every one of these presents given and taken was to her an assurance
strong of a new bond between them. So they shopped together, and Lena
modestly picked out some appallingly cheap affair and said:

"You know I feel that is the best I can afford." And Madeline would
whisper, "Take the other, dear, and let the difference be a small
wedding present from me. Won't you be so generous?" and Lena was so
generous; but she told herself that they were not doing it for her, but
only because they were ashamed that Dick should have a shabby bride. And
perhaps she was right. It is pretty hard to analyze human motives, so
you may always take your choice, and fix your mind either on the good
ones or on the bad ones, whichever suit you best. Doubtless they are
both there.

Sometimes Lena wished that she had been given a lump sum and allowed to
browse alone, for she felt her taste pruned and pinioned by the very
presence of Miss Elton, who, though she never ventured to criticize, had
yet a depressing influence on Lena's exuberant fancies.

Once, after such a silent sacrifice on her part, Madeline and she drove
up to the Percivals' for five-o'clock tea. Her future mother-in-law was
in the accustomed seat, and Lena found a footstool near at hand, with a
pretty air of affectionate proprietorship that brought a glow to Dick's

"Yes," said Lena with a charming pout, "I'm utterly played out, getting
myself ready for your approval, sir."

"Poor little girl," he whispered. "If you only knew what an easy task
that ought to be!"

"I'm so glad Madeline can go with you," Mrs. Percival said, patting the
girl's hand approvingly. "I always think she has such perfect taste.
Some people get fine clothes and then make an heroic effort to live up
to them, but Madeline has the supreme gift of managing clothes that seem
a part of herself."

It is impossible to tell how a speech like this rankled in Lena.
Sometimes she had a wild impulse to stand up and stamp and scream out,
"I hate the whole lot of you!" but she never did. She kept on smiling
and purring and longing for the freedom which would come when she was
safely married, had passed her initiation ceremonies, and could command
her own money.

But it was wonderful what a fascination she felt for everything that
concerned Miss Elton. Every act, every garment, every inflection of the
girl she hated most was interesting to her. She watched Madeline like a
cat, and disliked her more and more.

At length came the new year, and the day when Lena sat in a carriage by
Dick's side and was whirled away on that journey that was to take her
out of the old and into the new. Her hour-old husband looked at her with
an expression half-quizzical, half-adoring as she sat back and glanced
up with a heartfelt sigh, secure at last of her position as the wife of
Richard Percival. Until this moment she had never wholly believed it.

"I'm glad the wedding's over," she said.

"And I. More glad that our married life has begun. Lena, Lena, how
beautiful you are! When you came down the aisle, I hardly dared to look
at you; and yet it seems to me now that you are more lovely here alone
with me. I should think God would have been afraid to make such eyes and
lips and hair, sweetheart, knowing that He could never surpass them."

He softly touched the little curl that crept out from below her hat and
kissed the upturned mouth in that ecstasy that borders on awe.

"Now," he said, "you are never so much as to think of anything
unpleasant for the rest of your life. I wonder what you will most like
to do?"

"Buy all the clothes I want," cried Lena with such a deliciously
whimsical twist of her little lips that Dick laughed at her irresistible
wit. That was coming to be one of Lena's most fetching little ways, to
say what she meant as though it were the last thing in the world that
could be expected of her. It was piquant.

It was no time of year to dally in true lovers' fashion under pine trees
in some remote solitude, so Dick took her to cities and theaters and big
shops and got his fun out of watching her revel with open purse. Their
honeymoon was more full of occupation and less of rapture and sweet
isolated intimacy than Dick could have wished, but it was much to watch
the color come and go on her cheek in her moments of excitement, to
fulfil every capricious whim of her who had been starved in her feminine
hunger of caprice, to punctuate the rush of life by celestial moments
when she rested a tired but bewildering head against his shoulder and
listened silently with drooping lids to all he had to say, to feel that
he could answer the admiring glances of other men with the triumphant
knowledge, "All this loveliness is mine--only mine." Lena was so happy,
so outrageously happy,--and so shyly affectionate, what could the young
husband do but take with content the gifts the gods provided; and Dick
was lavish and easily cajoled. The simple trousseau helped out by Miss
Elton suddenly swelled to new and magnificent proportions. Lena
blossomed and glowed; she tricked herself out in the finery that he
provided and paraded before him and the glass until they both laughed
with delight. Dick felt that he was playing with a new and sublimated
doll, it was all so amusing, so inconsequential, and such fun. Although
he wondered a little where it would be appropriate to wear the enormous
pink hat with drooping plumes which perched on the showily fluffy head
now facing him, he quite appreciated the effect.

"Oh, of course you think I'm stunning," Lena pouted. "But the question
is, what will other people think?"

"Other people aren't the question at all," retorted Dick. "Who cares
what they think so long as you and I know that you are the very
loveliest woman on this whole wide earth--this good old earth."

When they came home, Lena exulted again in the luxurious rooms that Dick
had fitted up for her in fashion more modern than the somber dignity of
the rest of the house. Here was another new sensation--a household
without bickerings. The elder Mrs. Percival, having accepted the
situation, was no niggard in her spirit of courtesy, but very gracious
as was her wont, and Lena was astonished to find that she and her new
mother-in-law ran their respective lines without collisions. The
half-invalid older woman breakfasted in her own room and occupied
herself with quiet readings and sewings and drivings, but when she did
appear on the family horizon, it was always as a beneficent presence.

Lena purred in the presence of comfort; but when you see a kitten
serenely snoozing before the fire, it does not do to leap to the
conclusion that this kitten would not know what was expected of her on
the back fence at midnight.

If storm and stress should ever come, Dick had himself helped her to
feel that beauty would fill the measure, wherever it fell short; that
however she might sin, beauty was her sufficient apology.

Mrs. Quincy, established in a little flat with a middle-aged submissive
slavey, was as nearly reconciled to fate as her nature would allow. Her
rooms were pleasantly furnished, but Lena's mother was full of the
genius of discord, and almost automatically she so rearranged her
surroundings that each particular article made strife with its neighbor.
Harmony and Mrs. Quincy could not live in the same house. When Lena paid
her duty visits (and she was irritated at the frequency with which
Dick's and Madame Percival's expectations seemed to exact them) she had
not only to listen in nauseated impatience to Mrs. Quincy's minute
questions and comments on people and things, but she had also to feel
her rapidly-developing tastes offended by her mother's domestic order.

"Miss Elton's real kind. She's been here twice since you was here. And
she brought flowers."

"Mother! And did you have a newspaper on top of that pretty little

"Land sakes! And if I didn't I should have to watch Sarah every minute
to see she didn't put something hot on it or scratch the mahogany top. I
can't afford to have everything I've got spoiled. No knowin' when I'll
git anything more--dependent as I am on other people."

"I'll bring you a pretty table-cover then."

"I'd like a red one. But I didn't suppose you'd think of gittin' one."

"Oh, mother, red wouldn't look well in this room."

"Now, I just think a bit of real bright red would hearten it up. If you
don't git red, you needn't git any, Lena Quincy, for I won't use it. Are
you goin' now? Seems to me you got precious little time for your old
mother since you put on all your fine lady airs."

And Lena? Have you ever watched a cecropia moth when it crawls out of
its dull gray prison of chrysalis? It is a moist, frail, tottering
creature with tiny wings folded against its quivering body, but as the
spring sunshine brings to play its magic and infuses its "subtle heats,"
there come shivers of growth. Great waves seem to pulsate from the body
into the wings, and with each wave goes color and strength. In quick
throbs they come at last until they look like a continuous current, and
before your eyes is a glorious bird-like creature, with damask wings
outspread, and flecked with peacock spots, hiding the slender body
within. It feels its strength, spreads and preens itself, and is away to
the forest to meet its fate.

Such was Lena in the first months of her marriage. The world's warmth
welcomed her, partly in curiosity, and partly because she was in truth
Richard Percival's wife, and the protégée of Mrs. Lenox, who took every
pains to shield her and help her. The ways of that little sphere that
calls itself society she found it not difficult to acquire, when to
beauty she added the paraphernalia of luxury. A little trick of holding
oneself, a turn of speech, a familiarity with a certain set of people
and their doings, and the thing is accomplished. Was there ever yet an
American girl, whose supreme characteristic is adaptability, who could
not learn it in a few months, if she set her mind to it?

As she experienced the true pleasure of being inside, which is the
knowledge that there are outsiders raging to make entrance, she spread
her wings, did Madame Cecropia, and the only wonder was that she was
ever packed away in the dull gray chrysalis. And now every one forgot
that ugly thing, when Lena changed her sky but not her heart.

Dick and she lived in a whirl; and if he would have liked, after
strenuous days spent in spreading political feelers, to have found at
home quiet evenings and old slippers, he was rapidly learning that the
position of husband to a young beauty is no sinecure. And he admired and
loved her too much to fling even a rose leaf of opposition in her path.
The very hardship of her past made him tender to every whim of the
present. Dick's chivalry was deep-grained, as it is in men who have
lived among pure and simple women. In everything that wore petticoats he
saw something of his mother, fragile, noble, ambitious for those she
loved and forgetful of self. When Lena began to show him things that he
could not admire, he laid the blame of them, not to her, but to the
world that had played the brute to her. And if he tried to change her it
was with apology in his heart for daring to criticize. But as Lena came
to take for granted the ease and comfort of her new life, she more and
more laid aside the pose with which she had at first edified her lord,
and spoke her real mind. She had fully acquired the manner and the
garments of a lady. She could not see that more was needed.

One gray wintry day, as they walked homeward together from a midday
musicale, they passed a grimy little girl who whimpered as she clutched
her small person.

"What's the matter, girlie?" asked Dick, and as he stopped his wife,
too, halted perforce.

"My pettitoat's comin' down," sobbed the child.

"Is that all?" said Dick. "I wouldn't cry about such a little thing.
I'll soon fix it for you." And he stooped.

"Dick," said Lena imperatively, "there's a carriage coming!"

"Let it come!" said Dick. "Sorry I haven't a safety-pin, girlie, but I
guess this one will do till you get home." That impulsive interest in
all varieties of human nature was so natural to him that he took for
granted that it was a part of our common nature.

He looked up with a smile to see Lena's face crimson with wrath and
shame. Her expression sobered him.

"What's the matter?" he demanded.

"It was Mrs. Lenox who drove by," she urged. "And she looked so

"I don't wonder. I'm amused myself," he replied gaily.

"A nice thing for a gentleman to be seen doing," Lena went on, with a
voice growing shrill like her mother's. "To play nursemaid to a dirty
little street brat!" She had said things like this to him before, but
always with that little smile and naughty-child air. Now, for the first
time she forgot the smile, and this small omission made an astonishing
difference in the impression.

"I don't know what else a gentleman should do," answered Dick; "or a
lady, either. Mrs. Lenox would have done as much for any baby, her own
or another."

"Much she would!" said Lena sharply. "I've been at her house. She has
rafts of nurses to do all the waiting on her children. I guess she
doesn't let them trouble her any more than she can help. If she's
unlucky enough to have the squally little things, she keeps away from

Even as she spoke, Lena realized that her acid voice was a mistake, but
she said to herself that she was tired of acting, and it did not make
any difference what Dick thought now. She was his wife.

"Perhaps you don't know the whole, Lena," Dick answered. "I happen to
have seen Mrs. Lenox when she was devoting herself to a sick baby, and
Madeline has told me of the kind of personal care she gives."

"The more fool she, when she can get some one else to do it for her,"
said Lena, with feminine change of front.

"Is that the way you feel about children?" asked Dick soberly.

"I suppose they are necessary evils," said Lena with a smart laugh. "But
I'd rather they'd be necessary to other women than to me."

"Well, perhaps that's a natural feeling, when we're young and like to be
irresponsible; but I fancy, dear, that things look pretty different as
we get along and are willing to pay the price for our happinesses--to
pay for love with service and self-sacrifice. As for me, I pray that you
and I may not some day be childless old folks."

Lena glanced at him sidewise as they walked, and his somber face showed
her that her mistake went deeper than she had suspected.

"I'm sorry I was cross," she said with pretty contrition, but her
prettiness and contrition did not have their usual exhilarating effect
on Dick. Lena even turned and laid her hand softly on his arm. Still he
did not look at her.

"I wasn't hurt by your crossness, dear," he said gently.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Among those to open hospitable doors to the bride and groom was Mr.
Early. His house adjoined theirs, and only a hedge separated the two
gardens, old-fashioned, with comfortable seats under wide trees on the
Percival place, elaborately Italian on Mr. Early's domain, but spacious
both, for St. Etienne had the advantage of doing most of its growth
after rapid transit was invented, and had therefore never cribbed and
cabined its population into solid blocks of brick and mortar, but had
given everybody elbow-room, so that its residence district looked much
like the suburbs of older cities.

So Dick and Lena went to dine with Mr. Early, and the bride had the
thrilling delight of sitting between her world-famous host and an
equally illustrious scholar, who had his head with him, extra size, and
was plainly bored to death by his own erudition. It was a large dinner,
and Lena was alert to study every one, both what he did and how he did
it; but chiefly, from her vantage point at the right hand of her host;
did she watch Miss Madeline Elton, who sat near the middle of the table
on the other side, where Lena could study her face over a sea of
violets. Lena was puzzled. Madeline seemed less reposeful and more
charming than she remembered. For an instant she wondered if her own
beauty, now tricked out by jewels, was not cheap beside Miss Elton's
undecorated loveliness. She noted that the men around the table looked
often in Madeline's direction. Even Mr. Early occasionally let his
attention wander from his suave courtesy toward herself, and Lena
resented this. She deeply admired Mr. Early. His was the big and blatant
success which she could easily comprehend, and she exulted at the idea
of sitting at the post of honor beside a man distinguished over the
length and breadth of the land. Once, even her own husband, Richard
Percival, leaned forward and gazed at Madeline as she spoke across the
table, and there was a look in his face that Lena treasured in her
cabinet of unforgiven things. She flushed with anger. Her hatred of Miss
Elton was as old as her acquaintance with her husband, and its growth
had been parallel.

Then her eyes met the glowing glance of a dark face under a turban of
soft white silk, and she turned hastily away.

"I see you are looking at my ceiling, Mrs. Percival," said Mr. Early.
"It is a reproduction of the beautiful fan-tracery in the Henry VII
chapel at Westminster. Doubtless you recognize it. But, alas, it is
impossible to attain the spiritual beauty of the original until age has
laid its sanctifying hand on the carving. This has had but a year of
life for each century that the chapel tracery can boast. And, of course,
I admit that the effect must be modified by the surroundings. A
dining-room can never have the atmosphere of a church, can it, my dear
Mrs. Percival? Though I assure you, I have tried to be consistent in all
the decorations and the furniture of this room."

"It's very beautiful," said Lena. "And who is the large gentleman with
the long white mustaches?"

"Surely you have met Mr. Preston. He is one of our best type of business
men, and the candidate that the new reform element, in which your
husband is playing an honorable part, is hoping to set up for mayor. It
would be a notable thing for this community if we might have a man of
his stamp represent our municipality."

"I have heard Dick speak of him," said Lena, "And is that the wonderful
Hindu of whom I've heard? All the ladies are crazy about him, but I
never happened to see him before."

"That is Ram Juna. He has been with me now for two months, and is to
stay indefinitely. He is engaged on a work that will, I am convinced,
add one more to the sacred books of the world. We need such men in this
age of materialism, do we not? And I feel gratefully the beneficent
effect of such a presence in my house."

So Mr. Early went on with ponderous sentences and a sharp look in his

But Lena hardly heard him. She was absorbed in the soft lights and the
flowers and the wonderful china, most of which, her host told her, had
been made in his own works and was unique in the world. But strange as
were all these things, her eyes kept coming back, as if fascinated, to
the man-mountain in the silky white robe. The big ruby on his forehead
seemed to wink and flash at her, and as often as she looked she met the
sleepy eyes fixed on her face. Then she was irresistibly drawn to look
again to see if he was still watching. For once, she forgot her big blue
eyes and her bright little fluffs of hair and all the execution that
they were meant to do on the masculine heart, because there was
something different in the way this Oriental surveyed her. It was an
unblinking and unemotional study.

Fortunately Mr. Early was content to talk and let her answer in brief.
Talking was not Lena's strong point. Mr. Early went on with his
monologue, in platitudes about art, and Lena looked interested, or tried
to, while she caught scraps of conversation from farther down the table.

Miss Elton was telling a story of her cooking-class in a certain poor
district. She had shown a flabby wife, noted even in that region for her
lack of culinary skill, how to make a dish at once cheap, palatable and

"And I said, 'Now Mrs. Koshek, if you'd give that to your husband some
night when he comes home tired, don't you think it would be a pleasant
surprise?' But all I could get out of her was, 'I'd ruther eat what I'd
ruther; I'd ruther eat what I'd ruther.' And I'm afraid Mr. Koshek is
still living on greasy sausages."

"That might teach you, Miss Elton," said Mr. Preston, "the futility of
trying to improve women by reason. Now a man--"

"Oh, pooh, reason! reason!" exclaimed Mrs. Lenox, turning upon him, "I'm
sorry for you poor men, you mistaken servants of boasted reason! Reason
is the biggest fallacy on earth. It leads men by the straight path of
logic to pure foolishness."

"And how is your woman's reason to account for that?" he asked

"Oh, I suppose your premises are never true. Or, if they are, another
man's opposite premises are equally true. So there you are. Two
contradictions are equally valid, but being a reasonable man you can't
see more than one of them."

"And women can see both sides, of course."

"Truly. And flop from one to the other with lightning rapidity. We are
too completely superior to reason to have any respect for or reliance on
it. Do you think I try reason on my husband when he is in the wrong in
his arguments with me! Not at all. I just say, 'I'm afraid you are not
feeling well, dear.' And I put a mustard plaster on him. It's
extraordinary how seldom he disagrees nowadays. Or when he's very
obstinately set on an objectionable course, it's a good plan to say
sweetly, 'I'll do just as you like, dear.' He invariably comes back with
an emphatic, 'No--we'll do as _you_ like.'"

"I relinquish all claims to be called a reasonable being," said Mr.
Lenox with a wry face.

"When we, the unmarried, hear confessions of this kind," said Madeline,
"it gives us an incongruous feeling to remember how happy you, the
married, seem, after all."

"Getting along becomes a habit," retorted Dick. "Matrimony is like
taking opium. It fixes itself on you. I suppose when the hero of
Kipling's poem found out that she was only 'a rag and a bone and a hank
of hair,' he kept on loving the rag, even while he felt like gnawing the
bone and pulling the hair."

He knew he had said an ugly thing. It wasn't like him. He flushed as he
saw Mrs. Lenox glance sharply at him.

"Dick, Dick, that is heresy," she exclaimed gaily. "We must pretend
there aren't any vampires, and that we do not know what they are made
of. If we tell the naked truth, how can we cry out with conviction that
the old world is an harmonious and beautiful place?"

"That isn't your real philosophy," he said.

"No, it isn't," she said. "I sometimes wish it were. If one could have
the temperament to shut one's eyes and say, 'I don't see it; therefore
it isn't true,' what a very easy thing life would be."

"I don't know," answered Dick. "Going it blind with a dog and a string
doesn't generally make it easier to walk."

"That's true," Madeline put in. "A little dog isn't a very good guide up
the hilly road of righteousness. As for me, I prefer open-eyed obedience
to blind obedience."

"I'll be bound you prefer obedience anyway," Dick said in an undertone,
and he looked at her as though something in her hurt him. He turned
abruptly to Mr. Preston.

"Preston," he said, "I wish we could hold a special election and put you
into the executive chair before your time. Every kind of evil thing is
taking advantage of our present lax administration. I believe the crooks
of other cities are flying to us on the wings of the wind. One of the
plain-clothes men told me to-day that the government detectives have
traced a gang of counterfeiters to our beloved city, though they have
not succeeded in spotting the rascals' whereabouts. It's rather
humiliating to find St. Etienne picked out as a good hiding-place for
any villany there is going."

"You needn't be so sure that a special election or any other kind would
carry us in," laughed Mr. Preston. "I'm not so confident as you seem,
Percival, that this community is overwhelmed with the consciousness of
its rare opportunity."

And so the talk drifted on, as usual, to politics.

After dinner, in the drawing-room, Lena saw her husband in conversation
with Ram Juna. The two crossed the room, and Dick introduced the new

"I fear my too constant inspection disturbed you. Myriad pardons for
me," began the Swami in his mellifluous voice. "It is the tribute. When
I feel deep interest I am prone to forget all but my study. See, I am
the last of a family once powerful and wealthy; yet I hardly regret that
heritage that I have lost. I look at you. You are the type of another
fate. You are a bride, young, lovely, with the vigor and glory of this
new race of America. I envy not, but I wonder. So I look too long."

Lena glanced discomfited at the retreating back of her husband and
said, "I'm sure I didn't notice anything peculiar."

A curious gleam came into Ram Juna's sleepy eyes.

"Ah, then you, like me, love to examine the soul, your own or another's.
You have fellow feeling. So you forgive. May I sit here beside you?"

Lena drew aside her petticoats and the Swami shared her little sofa.

"You see that while you make study of others, I make study of you. I
should wish to be your friend. I should in fact fear to have you count
me an enemy."

Lena blinked at him in an uncomprehending way with her big eyes, and he
smiled innocently in return.

"A woman who is an enemy is a danger. But men are tough-skinned and hard
to kill. Is it not so? And even a woman enemy is often powerless to
hurt. But when a woman hates a woman, then the case is different. A
woman is easy to hurt. A little blow, even a breath on her reputation or
to her pride, and the woman is wounded beyond repair. Is it not so?"

Still Lena stared blankly at him, but as he did not return her gaze, her
eyes followed his to the other side of the room where Miss Elton bent
over a table, with Mr. Early on one side of her and Dick Percival on the

"Oh!" she said with a little gasp. "Oh!" And Ram Juna looked back at her
and smiled again.

"Therefore I was right to desire your friendship and not your enmity,
was I not?" said he. "I, too, am a good friend and a bad enemy. See, Mr.
Early shows some wonderful Japanese paintings. Shall we join them in the

And Lena went with wonder, and in her mind there began to form vague
clumsy purposes which the Hindu would have despised if he had read them.

Nor did her conversation with her husband in the home-returning carriage
tend to soften Lena's heart.

Dick was in an uncomfortable and irritable state of mind which was
strange and disconcerting even to himself. Instead of giving her the big
hug that was his habit when they found themselves safely alone, he said

"Lena, you use too much perfume about you. I wish you wouldn't."

"Do I?" asked Lena ominously. "Is there anything else?"

"Well, since you give me the chance to say it, dear," Dick's tone was
now apologetic, "I'd a little rather you wore your dinner gowns higher.
I know many women do wear things like yours to-night, and your
dressmaker has dictated to you; but I think the extremes are not
well-bred. Just look at the best women. Look at Mrs. Lenox and

But here Lena gave so sharp a little cry of anger that Dick stopped

"How dare you?" she screamed. "How dare you hold up a girl you know I
hate as an example to me! If she's so perfect, why didn't you marry her?
I'm sure she wanted you badly enough."

Dick shrank back a little. To him love--the desire for marriage--was
hardly a thing to be touched by outside hands. He wished Lena would not
tear down the veils of reticence so ruthlessly.

"Lena, she did not want me at all. Be reasonable."

"Well, then, you took me just because you couldn't get her, did you?
Everything she does and wears is perfection. And there's nothing about
me that's right!" Lena had now come to the point of angry tears.

"There's one thing about you that's right; and that's my arms,
sweetheart." Dick spoke sturdily in spite of trepidation, for this was a
new experience to him. "You know I love you, Lena, I did not mean to
hurt you. I thought only that you were a sweet little inexperienced
woman, and that you would welcome any hints from your husband's worldly
wisdom. Come, don't turn into an Undine, dear, and get the carriage all
wet,"--for his wife was now sobbing on his shoulder.

"You've told me lots of times that I was perfect," she cried. "I don't
see why you want to change me now. You're so inconsistent, Dick."

"I wish that I could make up for my brutality," said Dick. "How can I,
Lena? I feel like the fellow that threw a catsup bottle at his wife's
head at the breakfast-table and then felt so badly when he saw the nasty
stuff trickling down her pretty curls that he brought her home a pair of
diamond earrings for dinner."

"What a horrid vulgar story!" exclaimed Lena.

"Isn't it?" Dick rejoined. "But vulgar things are frequently true, as
we learn with sorrow. Lena, can't we believe that our marriage
certificate had an affection insurance policy given with it? Don't let
us indulge in little quarrels. As you say, they are vulgar. I want love
to be not only a rich solid pudding full of plums, but I want it to have
a meringue on top."

As he hoped, this made Lena laugh, and she pulled out her over-scented
handkerchief to wipe her eyes. Dick shut his lips tightly, grown too
wise to speak.



Lena sat one morning behind the coffee-urn so self-absorbed and smiling
that Dick wondered.

"Mrs. Percival," he remonstrated, "you have a husband at this end of the
table. Have you forgotten it? What are you thinking about?"

"Dick, I believe I have found a friend--a real friend," Lena jerked out.

"A good many of them, I should say. Who is this fortunate person?"

"Mrs. Appleton."

"Mrs. Appleton!" Dick gulped at his coffee and stared at his wife in
some perplexity. "Isn't she a--well, for one thing, a good deal older
than you?"

"She'll be all the better guide," Lena retorted with one of her demure
pouts. "You know she invited me to join the class she has gotten up for
Swami Ram Juna. You needn't grin in that horrid way, Dick. I shall be
so wise very soon that you'll be afraid of me."

"Heaven forbid, you dear little inspirer of awe."

"At any rate, she's taken the greatest fancy to me, and I to her. She
came here yesterday in the pouring rain, and we spent a long afternoon
talking together. We feel the same way about everything. She says that
with my beauty, I ought to make a great hit, and she's going to give a
big reception in my honor. Of course, with her experience, she can be a
great help to me."

"I see." Dick forgot his breakfast entirely, and meditated.

"What is Mr. Appleton like?" Lena persisted.

"He has enough money to make me pale my ineffectual fires, and he adds
to that the personality of the great American desert. But I suspect his
wife is so wholly satisfied with the golden glow that the latter fact
has never penetrated to her consciousness. I think Mrs. Appleton has not
yet recovered from her astonishment at finding herself wedded to
profusion. It appears to delight her afresh from day to day."

"You can be very nasty about people when you choose." Lena's tone was
unmistakably vexed.

"Frankly, Lena, I do not like Mrs. Appleton or her attitude toward life.
She is the kind of woman who refuses to take the simplest thing simply,
the kind that thinks subscription dances and clubs and private cars and
family tombs were invented chiefly to show our exclusiveness."

"Well, what are they for?"

Dick laughed. "Most of them to get all the fun there is in things, I
should say; and the tombs, to show that love holds even after death."

"I like her, anyway," said Lena. "I like her better than the stuck-up
kind of women." The words sound bald. Lena's lips made them seem
humorous. It was so easy to avoid disapprobation just by that little
smile and whimsical twist of the mouth.

"And whom do you mean by that!"

"You know whom I mean," Lena answered defiantly. "And I consider Mrs.
Appleton a great deal more of a society woman than Mrs. Lenox. At any
rate she goes a great deal more. And she does not neglect her church
duties or her charities, either. She has told me things that she is

"I should say she does not neglect them," ejaculated Dick. "She has the
art so to regild them that even philanthropy and religion become mere
appendages to society. Does Mrs. Lenox belong to Ram Juna's class,

"No. Mrs. Appleton asked her, but she wrote that though she was
interested in oriental thought, she, personally, found it more
satisfactory to get it by reading. Now wasn't that snobby, Dick?"

"Is it snobbish to choose what really suits you, instead of following a
craze like a sheep woman?"

But Lena shut her lips tightly. If she had not will, she had obstinacy.
She could be resolute in behalf of her realities, luxury, beauty and
self. From the moment when Mrs. Appleton first dawned on her horizon,
she had recognized her ideal. Here was a woman who was at once showy,
fashionable and virtuous. The things that Mrs. Lenox took for granted or
ignored were to her matters of absorbing importance. She magnified the
office of every detail of social conduct and every minutia of society's
"functions". It was worth while to spend a week of soul-fatiguing labor
in order that a tea should be just right; and her preparations were not
made in silence, but with an amount of discussion and red-tape that
filled every crevice of life. She had learned the art of so cramming the
days with trifles that there was no room for the big things and she
could conveniently forget them.

Mrs. Appleton seemed to recognize in Lena the same curious mingling of
deep-down barbaric egotism and love of display, with the longing to be
civilizedly correct. The two were drawn together.

"I like her," said Lena positively.

"I'm sorry," Dick said gently. "I can't say that I do, and I should be
glad if you could find your friends among those I love and respect."

"You needn't try to dictate my friendships," said Lena sharply.

"I did not think of dictating, sweetheart. But when we love each other,
we naturally long for sympathy in all things." Dick was making a brave

But there was little use in making this appeal to Lena, to whom love was
but a beneficent masculine idiosyncrasy. Dick glanced at her and at his

"I must be off," he said. "I have an engagement to meet Preston and
plan out our campaign."


"I'm going to run for alderman of this ward," Dick laughed as Lena
flushed. "Don't you approve?"

"How can you be interested in running for alderman?" she asked. "It is
such a mean little ambition. I wish you would try for something big. It
would be grand to have you a senator, so that we could go to Washington.
I should love to be in all the gaieties and meet all the distinguished

"Why, sweetheart, you don't suppose I care for the great name of city
father, do you?" Dick answered laughing. "That's only the end of a
lever. I do care immensely to be one of those who will clean up this
city and keep it clean. Perhaps, if we do these near-by things, the big
ones will come, by and by."

"A sort of public housemaid," said Lena scornfully.

"Exactly!" Dick laughed and nodded.

But Lena shrugged her shoulders and pouted as the door shut and she idly
watched her husband's final hand-wave.

He walked down town and the fresh northern air set his pulses
quickening. He noted how few gray heads there were, how full everything
seemed of the vitality of youth. On the piazzas were groups of happy
well-kept children, bundled up for winter play and bubbling over with
exuberance. To any passer-by they told that these were the homes of
young married people. Everywhere life looked sweet and normal and
vigorous. And he knew that for miles in every direction there were more
such homes of more such people.

But when he reached the part of town whither his steps were bent, all
this was reversed. Here was dirt, if not of body, then of spirit. Here
were a thousand evil influences at work. Here was public plundering for
private greed; here were wire-pullings and bargainings and selfishness
reigning supreme. And these forces were the nominal rulers of a city,
the greater part of whose life was good.

However, he was getting the ropes in his hands. These things were no
longer vague generalities floating in his mind, as rosy clouds might be
backed by thunder-heads on the horizon. They were growing definite. He
began to know who were the evil-workers and how they did it. He had the
art of making friends, and he made friends among publicans and sinners
as well as--well, there weren't any saints in St. Etienne to make
friends with. At any rate some of the powers that were began to say that
Dick Percival knew entirely too much. And some of the powers that ought
to be, but still slept, namely the good citizens of St. Etienne, found
their slumbers disturbed by his straight and convincing words.

But to-day all his labors seemed not worth while. There was a sour taste
in his mouth. To do the little thing with a big heart was after all
nothing but a sham. His ideals, he thought, had simmered down to petty
things. He was spending his time in nosing out small evil-smelling
scandals and in running for a mean inferior office. He felt nauseated
with himself. Worse, he felt a horrible new doubt of his wife. Mrs.
Appleton had been to him the type of woman he disliked, worldly,
shallow, busy with the sticks and straws; yet now there would creep in a
suspicion that some of the things he had forgiven to Lena's beauty and
lack of sophistication were close of kin to the older woman's more
blatant materialism. Materialism was the thing Dick had not learned to
associate with his own women.

This radiant morning, then, he felt himself under the dominion of the
grand inquisitors who invented the torture of little things. Life
consisted in having slow drops of water fall on his head, one at a time.
Family life was slimed with small bickerings, children were a nuisance,
society a bore, and the most beautiful woman in the world defiant and
uninspiring at the breakfast-table.

It does not take Cleopatra long to wither the ideals.

Dick began to analyze his wife, which is a dangerous thing for a man to
do. If a husband wishes to preserve the lover's state of mind, he must
continue to think of his wife as a single indivisible creature, not a
compound of faults, virtues and charms, lest in some unlucky moment he
find that the faults are the biggest ingredient.

Dick, however, was thinking, and the substance of his thoughts was that
this little girl, who bore his name, had her seamy side. Up to now, if
he noticed a defect, he instantly and chivalrously put it out of his
mind, but now certain doubts had knocked so long that by sheer
persistence they forced an entrance. Lena, who began by being a sweet,
innocent, much-enduring little thing, now that he knew her more and
more intimately, was less and less the creature he imagined. To the
world in general she was still the big-eyed ingenue, learning to take
her place in society. To him alone, it seemed, to him whose love and
reverence she ought to have desired, she was becoming indifferent as to
the impression she made. Was the other side of her a pose? Dick found
himself walking very fast, and he slackened his pace to a respectable
gait. If Lena the lovable was a pose, then the inspiration and ideals
and joy of his life were frauds. That thought was too appalling. He
deliberately stopped thinking about it and turned his thoughts to frauds
in city politics, which were easier to endure.

Lena, on the other hand, sitting idly by the window, indulged in a
little reflection on her own part. She was revolving with some
bitterness her disappointment and disillusionment. She remembered what a
glorious gilded creature Dick had appeared to her at one time. Now he
was sunk to be a very ordinary young man, with curious and stupid
idiosyncrasies, and not nearly so rich and important as many of the
people she came in contact with. Might she have done better if she had
waited? She too stopped regretting and turned her attention to a novel.
She was just beginning to discover the charms of "Gyp." She looked up to
see Mr. Early come up the pathway, and a moment later he stood beside

"Mrs. Percival," he said, "I have brought you this little vase, the
first of its kind that my artists have produced. I thought it so really
beautiful that I could not resist laying one before you as a kind of

"Oh, it is lovely. And am I really the only person in the world who has

"You and Miss Elton." A pang of small jealousy shot through Lena's
heart. It was always and everywhere Miss Elton. "I sent her another, but
of slightly different shape. I am, as you know, a worshiper of beauty,
but all these creations of man's hands are but parodies, are they not,
Mrs. Percival, on absolute beauty? They are like ourselves, the
creatures of a day. Nature herself, in sea and air and woodland,
produces exquisite loveliness, and yet even her achievements are dwarfed
when one stands face to face with one of creation's masterpieces--a

And Mr. Early made a ponderous bow as he presented his work of art. Lena
was so impressed by this compliment that she wrote it out while it was
fresh in her memory, and when Dick came home, she read it to him. He
gave a great bellowing laugh that grated harshly on Lena's nerves; and
then at sight of her reproachful eyes, he drew himself together and gave
her a friendly pat on the shoulder, affectionate, to be sure, but quite
different from Mr. Early's chivalrous manner, and said:

"Thinks you better than his old straight-legged tables, does he? Well, I
should say so! Serves him right for being an old bachelor, and having
nothing but furniture and Ram Juna to illuminate existence. I should
expect that combination to drive a man either to drink or to blank

"I don't think it is nice of you to swear, Dick," Lena answered
severely, but on the verge of tears.

"Swear, sweetheart? Why, what do you mean?"

"Well, it's almost the same thing to talk about 'blank' verse." Dick
laughed again and went directly to the library without even noticing the
extremely lovely new dress which his wife had put on for his

Dick's limitations were becoming manifest to young Mrs. Percival. He
might be a gentleman, but she feared that he would never be more. There
was nothing imposing about him. He had lifted her out of sordid want,
but he would not raise her to the pinnacle of greatness. The bland flat
face of Mr. Early and his commanding slowness of movement impressed her
imagination much as a great stone image might its votary. Here was
indeed the truly illustrious. She devoured every floating newspaper
paragraph that concerned Sebastian; for she was still under the dominion
of the idea that greatness in the dailies constituted greatness indeed.
She would have been proud to touch the hem of his frock-coat. How much
greater her elation when, on public occasions, he singled her out and
stalked across the room to utter in loud tones, intended for the ears of
half a hundred, some well-rounded compliment. A conquest of Mr. Early
would have been, for Lena, the consummation of achievement; but she
could not help seeing that his eyes turned more frequently upon Miss
Elton than upon Mrs. Percival--upon Miss Elton, of whom she felt
constant jealousy and abnormal curiosity.

Jealousy rose to its height when, on a certain afternoon, from her
favorite post beside a window, Lena watched a carriage drive up to Mr.
Early's door, and Miss Elton dismount and run up the steps. Mrs.
Percival leaned forward to make sure of her eyes, and then she sat and
eyed the hole where the mouse had disappeared.

Of course she could not know what was going on inside. When Madeline
received a note from Mr. Early, asking her to come and see some very
wonderful tapestries that he had just hung, it seemed the most natural
thing in the world. Sebastian's house was always more like a museum than
bachelor's quarters. He was continually turning it inside out for public
inspection, so Madeline went in all innocence, expecting to find a dozen
or so of her friends sharing the private view. She was embarrassed, but
hardly seriously, as Mr. Early came forward to welcome her.

"Am I all alone?" she said with a little laugh.

"Apparently you are. But I dare say some others will drop in on us in a
moment," Mr. Early made answer. "Meanwhile I am favored, for your
opinion is what I particularly want. These queer old tapestries have
been sent to me from France, but whether I keep them or not depends on
whether they seem the right thing in the right place. Will you come this

The big hall had a singularly impersonal aspect. Madeline had never
before seen it except when thronged with people, and now that they two
stood alone in its wide empty space, she was struck with a certain
desolation in it.

"Well?" inquired Mr. Early.

"I can't tell at once," said Madeline slowly. "Beauty is a thing that
takes time to unfold itself upon one, isn't it? But I think they are
beautiful. They are certainly strange and solemn, and they intensify the
dignity of this big room; but they make it seem less homelike than ever.
They seem to me things to look at rather than to live with. I suppose
their appropriateness depends a little on what you want to make of this
place. And you do want it only for a public room, do you not, Mr.

"I am afraid that is all I am capable of," said Sebastian, looking
pensively at her. "You see the home feeling is beyond my achievement. It
needs the feminine touch to create that ideal atmosphere. That, Miss
Madeline, is above art."

"It is so common, are you sure it is not below art?" Madeline smiled.

"I am sure," responded Mr. Early with conviction. "It is a subject on
which I have thought much since you came home last year. Never until
then did I wholly realize the lack in my home and in my life. If now, in
all humbleness, I am consulting your taste, it is because I have
sometimes dared to hope that you, my dear lady, would one day give that
final grace to this which would make it indeed a home, instead of the
mere abiding place that it is now."

Madeline turned upon him sharply.

"Mr. Early," she said, "it isn't wholly courteous in you to take
advantage of my being alone with you in your own domain to speak to me
in this way."

"I beg your pardon," Sebastian answered. "It was a wholly unpremeditated
expression of what has long been an ardent desire. I did not mean to
speak, but your own words seemed to break down the barriers of my
passion. I could wish that you would permit me to put it in the form
which my heart prompts; but perhaps you are right. Your fine sense of
the proprieties must be my rule of conduct. I shall only trust that I
may soon find a time to speak when I shall not offend your delicacy,
and when, I pray, I may not offend your heart."

"Neither now nor at any other time should I advise you to go any
further," said Madeline laughingly, for it was hard to take the bombast
of Mr. Early very seriously. He made her think now of a sort of pouter
pigeon. And Sebastian remained only partly satisfied as to the effect
which he wished to produce. He wanted to give her something to think
about, and so make way for the more impassioned wooing that he was
resolved should follow. He was convinced that to stand alone with him in
the midst of his splendors would make a strong impression on the mind of
any sensible girl. The great hall was certainly a place to capture the
imagination--not only from its stately proportions and the mellow
coloring that melted into shadow in the far-off roof, but from the
multitude of smaller details, the intricate carvings, gathered abroad or
made under Mr. Early's own eye, the few priceless paintings, the great
jars whose exquisite decorations blended their richer tones with the
deeper shades around. In a wide alcove was gathered a collection of
portraits of distinguished men and women, statesmen, artists and
literati of this country and of Europe, and each picture was accompanied
by an autograph letter to the well-beloved Sebastian Early. It could be
no small thing to contemplate the possession of this house of
notabilities and of the man who had built it up around himself. This,
Mr. Early meant, should be the artistic opening of his campaign. And
Miss Elton had laughed.

There was silence for a long minute, and Madeline, glancing nervously at
her host, saw that his face was grave and that his eyes were fixed upon
her in a melancholy way. She began to feel uncomfortable.

"I think I must be going now," she said.

"You have not told me whether I am to keep the tapestries," Mr. Early
humbly objected.

"Oh, I couldn't possibly decide for you. But they seem to harmonize
beautifully with this room."

"I am grateful for your decision. Permit me to see you to your carriage,
Miss Madeline."

Lena, watching hungrily from her vantage post, noted Mr. Early's
obsequious courtesies, Madeline's flushed face, and drew angry
conclusions. Nevertheless, she leaned forward and bowed graciously as
Madeline drove past.

"If she should marry Mr. Early, I shouldn't feel as if I had triumphed a
bit in getting Dick away from her," she said to herself, with a bald
comprehension of her true state of mind. For Lena made up for her pose
toward others by a certain unimaginative frankness in her

Then, catching a glimpse of another figure, she exclaimed, "Oh, there
comes Miss Huntress!" and immediately settled herself with an air of
elegant leisure to receive her former superior. Miss Huntress was a
source of continual satisfaction to Lena, the opposite of a skeleton at
the feast, a continual reminder of present prosperity as compared with
past nonentity. To meet her gave Madame Cecropia the same thrill of
satisfaction that it still did to draw her dainty skirts around her and
step into her carriage, half hoping that some envious girl was viewing
her perfections as she had once eyed those of others. On the other hand,
Miss Huntress derived almost equal pleasure out of her acquaintance with
Lena, whose littleness she measured, and whose small successes she
looked upon with amusement, unflecked by envy. Emily Huntress was a
plodding person, with much business on hand and an earnest necessity for
earning money, and though her canons were not over fine, still she had
her standards and lived up to them. She found Lena useful as a source of
social information.

"You want to know what is going on?" inquired Mrs. Percival. "Well, of
course you know it's Lent, and there isn't anything much. But if you
will come up to my boudoir, I will look over my engagement book, and
perhaps I can help you to a paragraph or two."

The word boudoir was a sweetmeat to Lena's palate, combined, as it was,
with the knowledge that her visitor, with a sister, kept house in three

So they went up stairs, and Lena babbled and preened herself, while Miss
Huntress frowned and pondered on the difficulties of making anything
readable out of her small kernel of information. The arrival of a cup of
tea, Miss Huntress, being a woman as well as a reporter, found
mollifying to the hardness of life.

"I see," she said with an acid little laugh, "you have the _Chatterer_
up here in your unholy of unholies." Her eyes fell on a small magazine
which made a speciality of besmirching the good names of the entire
country. "Everybody reads it, and everybody pretends to despise it."

"It's awfully interesting," said Lena, and she went on with a little
giggle, "I think I'll just tuck it away before my husband comes in. He
doesn't approve of it, you know. Men don't care for gossip. I think it
is perfectly wonderful what an amount of scandal it gets hold of. I
don't see how they do it. And they've such a naughty way of writing it
up, too."

"Nothing very remarkable. In every town of importance they have some one
always on the lookout for a promising piece of mud." Miss Huntress eyed
Lena speculatively for a moment. "I'll tell you in confidence," she went
on, "and I trust you to keep mum about it, for the sake of the times
when I helped you--I write for it here. I don't exactly like it, but you
know I can't afford to despise dollars and cents. It's just plain
business, after all. There's a demand for that kind of thing and it
falls to my lot to supply it."

"And did you write that awful thing about Mrs. Clarke?" cried Lena,
sitting up with big blue eyes, and gazing earnestly at Miss Huntress
with, awe as an arbiter of reputations.

"Yep," replied that lady with a gulp of tea.

"Gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Percival. "I hope you'll never send them
anything about me."

"Then you'd better never do anything indiscreet," Miss Huntress laughed
maliciously. "But I don't think you would," she went on speculatively.
"You're too clever and too ambitious for that. Do you know, I've rather
come to the conclusion that it's only rather simple-hearted people who
do those things. Take that Mrs. Clarke, now. Of course her husband was a
brute, and when the other man came along she fell so much in love with
him that she didn't even think of any one else in the world except their
two selves. A woman who was incapable of whole-souled passion would have
kept an eye on the world and walked the narrow path of virtue."

"Why, you're defending her!" exclaimed Lena.

"Not in the least," said Miss Huntress grimly. "I helped to make her pay
the price."

"Oh, well," Lena said with an air of greatness, "there are some of us
who can combine the deepest love with decent behavior you know."

"Of course," answered Miss Huntress.

"Now Miss Elton is just that other kind. I believe she never thinks what
people say about her," Lena observed. "Not that she'd do anything out of
the way, you understand."

"Certainly not." Miss Huntress began to prick up her professional ears.
"She's a particular friend of yours, isn't she?"

"Intimate," said Lena. "You know they used to say that Mr. Percival--but
of course that was before he met me, and anyway there was nothing in

"I know," said Miss Huntress. "I sent a line to the _Chatterer_ once
about it."

"Did you really? Well, of course, for form's sake, she has to be as nice
as ever to me and Mr. Percival. But she has reconciled herself. It's all
Mr. Early now."

"You don't say!" ejaculated Miss Huntress with interest.

"She's regularly throwing herself at his head. Why only this afternoon I
saw her do the most unconventional thing."

"What was it?"

"Oh, I dare say she was just getting him to subscribe to some charity or
something equally innocent. Still, it was queer. But I know her too
well to suspect her of any impropriety. She's really the dearest,
sweetest girl, Miss Huntress, and I'm the last person in the world to
criticize her."

"But aren't you going to tell me?"

"Well, she came, quite alone, you understand, to Mr. Early's this
afternoon, and was closeted there the longest time. I couldn't help
wondering what it was all about. What do you suppose?"

"That was funny," meditated Miss Huntress.

"I'm certain there's some perfectly natural explanation, if we only knew
it," Lena went on. "But she looked awfully flushed when she came out."

"Thank you," said Miss Huntress. "I must be going now."

"Oh, won't you have another cup of tea? Of course, I'm on very good
terms with Miss Elton," said Lena, fingering the tray cloth a little
nervously. "I shouldn't like her to think I'd criticized her behavior,
even to you."

"You needn't be afraid," rejoined Miss Huntress. "I never let on how I
get my information. I'd lose my job if I did. Much obliged to you, Mrs.
Percival. Things are so dull during Lent that we're thankful for even a
few crumbs. I guess that's your husband's step. It must be getting

"Oh, good-by! Dick, you dear boy, how glad I am to see you," cried Lena,
fluttering to the door to meet her returning lord. "Miss Huntress, this
is my husband. Good-by, again. Don't you remember?" she went on, as Dick
followed her back into her room. "She used to be my 'boss' when I was a
poor little slavey in the _Star_ office, before my best beloved prince
came and rescued me from dragons and printers' devils."

"And are you so fond of her that you keep up the acquaintance?"

"Oh, I remember how hard it used to be to get 'matter'; and I don't mind
helping her out a bit when she's hard pressed."

"You are a kind-hearted little soul, Lena,"--and her husband stooped and
kissed her fondly, doing penance in his heart for his doubts of a day or
two ago, thoughts cruel, unjust, unwarranted. Lena had never looked more
delectable than now, with her head on one side, pouring his tea. She
kissed each lump of sugar as she put it in and laughed at her own
conceit; and she brought the cup over to his chair and rubbed her apple
blossom of a cheek against his with a little purr.

"I'm afraid you think me very silly, Dick," she laughed. "I do not seem
to get a bit wiser or better behaved, do I, for all Mrs. Appleton and
Ram Juna, and even your lovely high-bred mother? Dick, do you despise

"Despise! Why I love and love you and love you all over," said Dick.



Mrs. Quincy, in her solitary confinement, unloved and complaining, might
be considered a figure either repulsive or pathetic, according to the
onlooker's point of view. Fortunately there are always a few big enough
at heart to turn towards the world a face of affection rather than of
criticism, to whom woe appeals more than vulgarity.

So, once in a while in her busy life, Mrs. Lenox found time to drop in
as the bearer of a cheerful word and a friendly look to the ugly little
apartment where Mrs. Quincy lived in the third story height of domestic

On an April afternoon she came, like a dark-eyed Flora, her hands loaded
with daffodils that might bring a glow of the beauty of spring even to
an inartistic spirit. The front door stood open, and a flat has an
unrelenting way of laying bare all the skeletons that find no closet
room. Mrs. Lenox surprised a scene of domestic economy in the tiny
parlor. The curtains had been taken down for fear they would fade, and a
large piece of newspaper lay where the sunlight struck the carpet. In
the middle of the room sat Mrs. Quincy, and before her on a kitchen
chair stood a little tub of foamy soap-suds. A maid was stationed at
hand with a bar of soap and a bottle of ammonia, and the steam of homely
cleanliness filled the air.

"Good gracious, I declare!" ejaculated Mrs. Quincy, "if it ain't Mrs.
Lenox! Come right in. I'm just washin' out my under-flannels and my
stockin's. I can't bear the slovenly ways of servants, and it's only
myself as can do 'em to suit myself. There, Sarah, you take the things
away, and I'll let you rinse 'em out this once. And mind you do it good.
Be sure to use four rinsin's. And soft water, mind. And hand me a towel
to wipe off my hands. It's real good of you to come and see a forlorn
old woman, that I know can't be much pleasure to you, Mrs. Lenox. There
ain't many that takes the trouble. And yet time was when I was
considered as good-lookin' as that ungrateful daughter of mine, that I
slaved for for years. Put them flowers in water, Sarah. I guess a
butter jar's the only thing I got that's big enough to hold them."

Mrs. Lenox sat down, wondering if time and life could ever transform the
smooth beauty of Lena's features to this semblance of failure which they
so closely resembled. Mrs. Quincy's face was like a grain field over
which the storms had swept, changing what was its glory to a horror.

The scarlet-faced Sarah hustled tub and chair and dripping garments
kitchen-ward. The visitor took up her task of cheerfulness, and Mrs.
Quincy cackled and grumbled to her heart's content.

"Lena'd be 'shamed to death if she knew you'd caught me doin' my wash,"
she whined. "I hope you won't tell her. She can come down on me pretty
hard sometimes, I tell you."

"Oh, I won't tell," Mrs. Lenox laughed. "I only wish you had let me
help. I was thinking what fun it must be--with a maid to hold the soap.
It took me back to nursery days. I used to love to wash dolls' clothes."

"I don't do it for fun," Mrs. Quincy snapped. "But I ain't provided with
a servant that's worth her salt. If anybody's dependent, like I am, on a
whipper-snapper son-inlaw, that ain't got affection enough for me to
spend an hour a week with me--why, I guess I have to pinch and scrape
wherever I can. No knowin' when I'll git more. I've worked hard all my
life for other folks, Mrs. Lenox. You can see by my hands how I've
worked. And what do I get for it? A stranger like you is kinder to me
than my own flesh and blood. And I know well enough that if Richard
Percival throws me a crust, it's only because he would be ashamed to
have folks say his mother-in-law was starving. Oh, I let him know that I
see through him whenever he comes near me--which ain't very often. And
Lena goes days and days and never comes to see me." Her voice and her
garrulity were rising, but here a sob gave pause, and Mrs. Lenox rushed
in, repressing an impulse to say a word on the elementary laws of give
and take in love.

"Well, I think you are very sensible to do the washing. One must have
some occupation to fill the days, mustn't one? And there aren't many
things, when one is tied to the house. If to-morrow is warm, I wonder if
you would feel up to a little drive in the afternoon?"

"I shouldn't be surprised if I would."

"And do you care for reading? I've brought you a rather clever little
story. I see you have all the magazines."

"Yes, Lena sends 'em. She thinks they'll occupy me and save her the
trouble of comin' herself. But, good land, I don't care for 'em beyond
lookin' at the pictures and the advertisements--except the _Ladies' Home
Companion_. That has good recipes in it; only Sarah can't make nothin'
that's fit to eat. But I did read that thing in the _Chatterer_ about
Miss Elton. You've seen it, of course!"--and she laughed with cheerful
malice and licked her lips like a cat.

"About Miss Elton? In the _Chatterer_? I haven't the least idea of what
you are talking," said Mrs. Lenox in a dazed way.

"It's over there," returned the lady, with a comprehensive wave of the
thumb. "You can read it. Lena said it couldn't be anybody else." Mrs.
Lenox rose and took the magazine from the table. She walked over to the
window and deliberately turned her back on her hostess. Her hands shook
a little as she turned page after page till her eyes fell on this little

"In a certain western city which is famous for its flour and lumber
interests, there lives a bachelor who has made it still more
illustrious in the realms of art and literature. It is a standing insult
to feminine humanity that a man both famous and wealthy should remain
single, but, so far, all attacks upon the citadel of his heart have
proved futile. Rumor now has it that a capitulation is imminent, but the
besieging force has been driven to unusual measures to secure it. A
college training gives a girl the advantage over her fellows, both in
expedients and in determination. Not content with the extraordinary
attractions conferred on her by her own beauty, the young lady who is
ahead in the race for the gay bachelor's heart has been carrying the war
into Egypt. Gossip saith that there are quiet hours spent by these two
in the seclusion of the bachelor's stately home, when, doubtless, his
masculine heart melteth within him, and the bonds of his servitude are
tightened. Still, it is a dangerous game for a supposedly reputable girl
to play, isn't it? and a little--well, let us call it unconventional."

Mrs. Lenox shut the magazine and her own teeth.

"It is inconceivable that such stuff should be printed, and that people
should buy it," she said. "But you see it is so vague that it might
refer to any one at any place, and even if we knew who was meant, it is
too insignificant a piece of small malice to receive anything but
contempt. And now good-by, Mrs. Quincy. I hope these coming spring days
are going to help you to better health."

"Good-by. I always appreciate your visits," whined Mrs. Quincy. "I'm
sure, with all you have to do, I don't wonder you don't come oftener. I
know there's nothin' to draw you."

Mrs. Lenox went away with a deep breath and a longing for fresh air. She
shook her head at the waiting coachman and said, "I am going to walk,

She moved along in a cloud of conjectures, not that the small paragraph
seemed to her very important, but she was a little sickened by the
sudden glimpse of petty minds, who, being rich, stay by preference in
the slums.

"Mrs. Quincy, like Mrs. Percival, makes me feel that life is not a big
thing to be lived for some big reason, but an affair to be scrambled
through day by day, grabbing everything you can, and hating those who
have grabbed more. What a way to worry through seventy or eighty years!"
she groaned to herself.

Almost at her own door she met Ram Juna, who turned with her to make one
of his ponderous calls, while she sat and talked with him of emptiness
and philosophy, with that vivacious patience that becomes a habit with
women of the world; but when the door opened and her husband appeared,
accompanied by Dick Percival and Ellery Norris she heaved a distinct
sigh of relief.

"We know that the dinner hour is looming on the horizon, and we're not
going to stay," said Dick. "But your husband has some civic reform
monographs that I thought I would borrow while he was in the lending

"You needn't apologize, Dick," she laughed. "You are more than tolerated
in this house."

There came a sharp noise, and Madeline Elton, with pale face and eyes
big, stood in the doorway. Every one knew that something had happened,
and Mrs. Lenox, who saw the rolled magazine in the nervous hand, guessed
its purport in a flash.

"My dear girl!" she cried, running forward, "you are not going to let
such a pin-prick hurt you!"

"Oh, Vera," exclaimed the girl, putting her face down on her friend's
shoulder, "you know! It does hurt. I can't help it," and she sobbed.

The three men looked on in puzzled helpless masculinity, and the Swami
surveyed the scene as the two women clung to each other.

"Vera," said Mr. Lenox, "are we permitted to know what this means?" Mrs.
Lenox kept her arm around Madeline's shoulder as she turned.

"It's only an ugly little fling in the _Chatterer_, Frank," she said,
"and it sounds as though it might refer to Madeline. It is nothing, but
I dare say my dear girl does not enjoy a bit of dirt even on her outer
garment. And, Madeline, very likely it is not meant for you."

"Oh, yes, it is," cried the girl. "Some one sent me this marked copy.
And I went there once when I thought he had invited a crowd to see some
tapestries. There was no one else there. There is just so much truth in

"Would you rather that we should not see it?" asked Mr. Lenox.

"I'm afraid every one will see it," said Madeline shamefacedly, as she
held out the guilty pages. The three men leaned their heads over the
table with a curiosity that would have done credit to women, while Ram
Juna still looked on.

"I have already beheld the writing," he said suavely. "Mr. Early gave
way to unwonted anger when he saw. The lady must have an enemy."

"That is it," cried Madeline, turning upon him swiftly. "I think I am
not so much hurt by the scandal--every one who knows me will believe
better of me--but what cuts is that there should be some one who wants
to hurt me. I--I've always thought of the world as a friendly place. Who
is it that hates me?"

"Bah, it is a very small enemy who seeks small revenge," said the Swami,
whose own heart was filled with contempt and irritation. This was not
according to his plan. "In India, we do not so revenge."

Mr. Lenox stepped back to the fireplace, from which point a man always
surveys the world at an advantage.

"It isn't worth an extra heart-beat, Miss Elton," he said. "Ignore it
and your world will promptly forget it."

"But, Mr. Lenox, you do not understand. It is not the question of the
truth or falsehood of the story that shakes me. As you say, that is too
absurd. But I shall always wonder who is my enemy, and why."

Norris was looking at her with awakened terror. With the intuition of
love, he had read the processes of her self-conquest at the time of
Dick's marriage. But here was a new possibility. Could it be that this
fair and delicate creature was now to be enwoofed by Sebastian Early,
whom at this juncture Ellery characterized to himself as a "fat toad"?
He made up his mind that it would not do to trust, as he had been doing,
to time to stand his friend. He must also bestir himself.

"I wonder," he said aloud, "I wonder if Miss Huntress knows anything
about it. I have a dim idea that some one told me that she wrote things
for the _Chatterer_. Our society editor, you know."

"But even if she did dislike me--and I don't know her from Adam--how
could she know?" said Madeline, turning on him. "You see I was alone
with Mr. Early, and I am sure, for certain reasons," here Ellery was
horrified to see a little flush creeping over her face, "that he would
not be guilty of any attempt to besmirch me. And no one else knew that I
was there--except--" A sudden startled look came over her face and she
looked involuntarily at Dick. "Except--" she said, and her voice trailed

"Besides, these small acts are those of women," said the Swami placidly.
Dick had caught Madeline's look of astonished comprehension and he
turned pale as he saw. Now, with Ram Juna's words, conviction flashed
upon him. He remembered Lena's dislike for Madeline, of which he had
made light; he remembered the little insignificant woman whom he had met
in his wife's boudoir; the fact that he was Mr. Early's nearest neighbor
clapped assurance on suspicion, and his muddled mind was capable of only
one idea. No one else, least of all, Madeline, must suspect her little

"Dick, you have an inkling," said Mr. Lenox abruptly, but in all

"Not in the least," said Dick hurriedly. "I assure you that if I had the
slightest reason to suspect any one, I would be the first to speak.
I--you know I think everything of you, Madeline." He went toward her in
a futile way, with outstretched hand, but Madeline's eyes were down, and
apparently she did not see the friendly overture. His face looked pale,
strained and old as he stood for a moment before her, and the others
surveyed them in silence.

"As you say," said Dick, in sprightly fashion, "the best thing is to
forget the whole incident. Lenox, if you will give me those papers, I
must be off."

"Our lines lie parallel," said the Swami. "Will you permit that I walk
with you?"

The four who remained stood awkwardly during the departure, and with the
closing of the door, Mr. Lenox gave an inarticulate ejaculation.

"Miss Elton," he said, "I think your problem is solved."

"You mean it was Mrs. Percival?"

"You are as sure as I."

"And Dick knew," said Ellery. He blushed as he spoke.

"Oh no, Mr. Norris!" cried Madeline in sharp distress. "That would he
unendurable. And besides, he said he didn't."

"Dick lied," Ellery stated calmly.

"I will never believe that Dick would lie."

"He certainly lied," Ellery persisted. "Any man would lie to protect the
woman he loves."

"Never!" exploded Mrs. Lenox. "Frank, you would not lie for me!"

"Assuredly I would," her husband answered quietly, "if you needed lying

She looked at him with speechless dismay.

"Therefore," Ellery went on, "it behooves a man to love a woman who
demands truth and not untruth as her reasonable service. The
responsibility rests with you women. You can not only make men lie, but
you can make them believe that there is no such thing as truth in the
universe. Isn't it so, Lenox?"

Mr. Lenox smiled and nodded, Jove-like.

"Oh, yes, they pull some strings," he said; "but don't cocker them up
too much. Don't make them think we are nothing but clay in their hands."

"You couldn't, because, to our sorrow, we know better," retorted his

"Nevertheless, you've unsettled everything," said Madeline dejectedly.

"But, Miss Elton," Norris put in, "you must not think that I believe
that a man is without responsibility for the kind of woman he loves.
That is where the first turning up or down comes in. He's no right to
give his soul to the thing that is mean or base. He has the right to
choose his road, but after he's chosen, he has to travel wherever the
road leads. Dick's disintegration began from the moment that he met
Miss Quincy. I've known it for a long time."

"Poor little thing!" said Madeline. "She is so small. I hope she will
grow to be something like a mate for Dick."

"Do not flatter yourself with wishes," cried Mrs. Lenox. "There's only
one soil in which the soul can grow, and that is love. Unless I misread
her, there is no room in her for anything but Lena Quincy Percival."

"And yet," objected Ellery, "she is certainly not a person weighted with
intellect. I should say she is all impulse and emotion."

"Anomalous but by no means uncommon, Mr. Norris," she rejoined. "All
emotion, yet without emotion of the heart. In her little world, self
lies at the equator, and every one else is pushed off to the frozen

The others looked at her doubtfully.

"Don't you think I have studied her? She has been a bald revelation to
me of things I have only half understood in better-bred women. She's
like a weed transplanted from her lean ground to a garden and grown more
luxuriant in her weediness. Do you know what I think? I believe that
when the last judgment shall strip her of her sweet pink flesh, there
will be nothing found inside but a little dry kernel, too hard to bite,
and labeled 'self'."

"You are positively vicious, Vera," said her husband gravely.

The tears came to her eyes as she turned to him.

"I really loved Dick, and she has stung him."

"But all this does not explain her hatred for Madeline."

"Do you not understand that even petty people can see how dreary and
stupid their lives are when a person like Madeline comes along? So they
hate her."

"It's good of you to consider my feelings how they grow, and to try to
bolster them up," Madeline smiled. "But I am fearfully tired. I must go
home. I hope that my father and mother will never hear of this."

"Why should they?" said Mr. Lenox. "It's only a trifle after all,
though, to be true to her nature, Vera must needs philosophize about it.
It's only a trifle."

"Except for Dick," Ellery exploded.

"Except for Dick," Mr. Lenox echoed.

"It's a great pity," Mrs. Lenox meditated, "that Dick can't knock her
down and then they could start again on a proper basis."

"It is a disadvantage to be a gentleman," laughed her husband.

"Vera," said Madeline impulsively, "you won't let this make any
difference between us and Mrs. Percival? If she is a little twisted,
poor child, she has had a cruel training; and she needs decent women all
the more. I--I really have quite got over my anger with her--and don't
let us lose Dick. Dick is like my brother. I mustn't break with him. We
must all be good to him."

"I do not know that I feel any large philanthropy," answered Mrs. Lenox,
with something between a laugh and a wry face. "But as I have invited
them as well as you to spend Easter with us in the country, I suppose
the ordinary laws of society will require me to behave myself." The
older woman kissed Madeline warmly, and Ellery moved out with her. He
had so entirely made up his mind to walk home with her that he quite
forgot to ask her permission.

He began to talk to her about himself, for almost the first time in his
reticent intimacy, and she forgot her own affairs, as he meant she
should, in listening.

Afterward she could not remember his words because parallel with them
she was reading her own interpretation. Already in a vague way she
understood him, but his little story gave her the crystallized

She had a picture of a lonely childhood, fatherless and motherless and
pervaded with a longing for love that early learned to keep silence.
That had been the first step in his self-possession. Education had been
hard to get, and yet he had got what to the sons of rich men comes
easily, and because to him it meant struggle, it had been the more
treasured. Knowledge came hard because his mind worked slowly and
painfully; therefore his grip was the tighter, and the habits of thought
wrought out by exercise were now giving him a facility that cleverer men
might envy. He could not know how the simple history gave her an
impression of slow irresistible manhood, always, without drifting,
moving toward its chosen end.

When they halted at her door, she had a feeling that she could not let
him go, just yet.

"You'll come in and dine with us, will you not?" she asked impulsively.

"I wish I might," he answered with that longing tone one falls into when
surveying an impossible and alluring temptation. "I simply have to work
to-night. I'm already late for my engagement. May I come sometime

"I wish you would. Father is really very fond of you," she went on,
defending her warmth. "He likes young men. He has a sneaking longing for
them that no mere girl satisfies. Dick used to be a great deal to him,
but--Dick has drifted away. You have not been to see us for a long

"Not since the day that Dick's engagement was announced," he answered,
looking her boldly in the face. "I couldn't. You made me feel then that
you despised me."

"I despised you?" she spoke with bland innocence but rising color.


Madeline hesitated and looked down. She was scarlet.

"I'm not going to pretend to misunderstand you," she said, and turned
laughing eyes toward him. "I knew all the time that it was Dick who had
done some shabby thing, and you were trying to shield him."

"You knew?"

"Of course I knew."

"But you told me I ought to get a mask," Ellery fumbled.

"I meant when you try to tell lies. You don't do it with the grace and
conviction of an accomplished hand. Pooh, I can read you like an open

"I am very glad you can," he said deliberately. "I thank God you can,
because on every page you will read the truth--that I love you--I love
you. I'm wanting you to read it in your own way, but some time I am
going to let the passion of it loosen this slow tongue of mine and tell
you in my own fashion how much it is."

He turned and strode abruptly away. Madeline went in to the firelight of

"Why, you look as bright as though you'd heard good news," exclaimed Mr.
Elton, peering over his newspaper in welcome.

"Do I, father?" Madeline stooped to rub her cheek softly against his and
laughed to herself. "Why, I believe I have. That shows what a whirligig
I am. I went out thinking life was a tragedy, and I come back thinking

"What, little girl?"

"A divine comedy," said Madeline and laughed again. "Just see what a
walk in the open air will do for a body."



Easter came late in April, when, to match man's mood, it should come;
for the world was alive with new vitality. The south winds were infusing
their wonder-working heats, and the bluebirds flashing their streaks of
color through branches that felt the stir of sap, amid buds that
strained to burst. There was the smell of growth where bits of "secret
greenness" hid behind the dead leaves of last fall.

On Saturday evening Mrs. Lenox welcomed the same circle that had met at
her home the November before, and Lena's little heart glowed with the
soul-satisfying sense of the difference to her. Then she had been a
social waif, received on sufferance. Now she was one of them. She could
even afford to have her own opinions. The very memory of past
discomforts doubled the present blessedness, and Mr. Lenox looked only
half the size that he had six months before. It was a long stride to
have taken in half a year, and with reason she congratulated herself on
her cleverness. In Mr. Lenox's gravity of manner as he took her in to
dinner, she perceived only respect for Mrs. Percival, not knowing that
he had in mind the small episode of the _Chatterer_, which his wife and
Miss Elton had agreed to ignore.

"What very sensible people we are!" exclaimed Mrs. Lenox as she surveyed
her small table party. "We shall spend to-morrow in hunting for anemones
instead of looking at our neighbors' spring fineries; we shall catch the
first robin at his love song, instead of listening to the cut and dried,
much-practised church music; and we shall find rest to our souls. Dick,
I am sure you need it. You look worn out. I'm afraid politics is proving
a hard mistress."

"I wonder if it is possible to do too much," said Dick, rousing himself,
with manifest languor. "It's only the way he does it that plays a man
out. Here's Ellery, now, who works like a galley slave and looks as
fresh as the proverbial daisy."

"Well, come, you are criticizing yourself even more severely," Mr. Lenox
said. "You'll have to learn the secret, Dick, of letting your arms and
legs and brain work for you, while your inner man remains at peace.
That's the only way an American man can live in these hustling days; and
if you don't master it, the young men will come in and carry you out by
the time that you are fifty."

"And there are worse things than that," rejoined Dick. "I suppose it is
the universal experience that when one gets out of the freedom of
extreme youth and settles down to the jog-trot, harnessed life, the way
looks rather long and monotonous. A fellow can't help feeling tired to
think how tired he'll be before he gets to the end. To-night I feel as
old and dry as a mummy. If you touch me, I'll crumble."

"Mrs. Lenox and I have been longer in the game than you, Dick," answered
his host whimsically. "We are getting dangerously near the equator; and
we do not find ourselves exhausted. On the contrary, I rather think the
scenery improves, in some respects, as we go along."

"You are hardly capable of measuring the common fate. You have had the
touchstone of success, and the world has opened up before you. But what
depress me and impress me are the sodden people whom I meet by the
hundred; and I can't help reading my fate in the light of theirs. There
are such millions of us, obscure and uncounted except on the census."

"If you will persist in talking serious things," said Ellery, "isn't
obscurity, after all, an internal and not an external quality? You've
got to believe that you are a creature that is worth while. There is no
bitterness in belonging to the myriads if the myriads are themselves
dignified by nature."

"But are they?" cried Dick, now rousing himself. "I look at every face I
pass on the street. I'm always on the search for some ideal quality; and
what do I see? Egotism and greed answer me from all their eyes. The
ninety and nine have gone astray."

"Then it belongs to you to be the hundredth who does not go astray; and
who gives a satisfactory answer to the same eternal questioning that
meets you in the eyes of other men. It's not given to any man to play a
neutral part in the world conflict. In all the magnificent interplay of
forces, I doubt if there is any force strong enough to keep one standing

"Yes, my dear Ellery. And it is just that eternal motion that I am
complaining about. It is burdensome to the flesh and wearisome to the
imagination to look forward to a future of eternal rushing and striving.
I have a multitude of experiences every year, and I straightway forget
them; and that deepens the impression that all these little affairs of
ours, about which we make such an infernal racket at the time, are
matters of very small importance in the march of the centuries. The
march of the centuries may be majestic, but the waddle of this little
ant of a man is not. It's insignificant."

"That's a dangerous state of mind to be in, Dick," said Lenox.

"And after all, you can't help being a very important thing to
yourself," said Madeline. "And it must be of eternal significance to you
whether your soul is walking with the centuries or against them."

"My dear Madeline," answered Dick, "when I am with you and such as you
who live on a little remote mountain, eternity seems a very important
matter; but when I am with most people, next Wednesday, when taxes are
due, looms up and shuts out eternity. And you will permit me to think
that you women who are sheltered and who sit with the good things of
life heaped about you, don't know very much about practical conditions."

"But why isn't my conscience as practical as my clothes?" persisted
Madeline. "And why is the fortune made to-day in Montana mines and lost
to-morrow in Wall Street any more practical than this same majestic
march of the centuries and the great thoughts that circle about it?
'Practical' is such a foolish word, Dick."

"Undoubtedly, to you," said Dick with a little sneer. "But to most of
the race to which we have the honor to belong it is the word that makes
the dictionary heavy. It is because you do not know its meaning that you
women, or perhaps I ought to use the despised term, 'ladies,' become the
very beautiful and useless articles that you are--works of art, which
may thrill and charm a man for a moment, when he has time to look at
them, but which bear little relation to the stress of life which you can
not comprehend."

"Dick!" Madeline spoke almost with tears in her eyes. "It is not like
you to have a fling at women."

"You see I'm gathering wisdom as I go along."

"Gathering idiocy, you mean," interposed Mr. Lenox. "Dick, you young
fool, the ideal woman is the goal toward which the rest of humanity must
run; and the sooner you bend all your practical faculties in that
direction, and there abase the knee, the better for you."

He nodded down the table toward his wife, and she pursed up her lips and
said, "You nice goose! That's the way to keep us sweet-tempered."

"I hope you're not going to turn cynic, Dick," said Ellery. "The rôle
does not fit you."

"A cynic," interposed Mrs. Lenox, "always thinks that he has discovered
the sourness of the world. In reality all he has found is his own bad
digestion. I should hate to think there was anything on my table to
cause acute indigestion, Dick."

"Perhaps there is a cog loose in his brain so that his wheels do not
work together," added Ellery.

"At any rate, cynicism is self-confessed failure; so don't give way to
it," Mr. Lenox concluded.

"Oh, I give up. Spare me," cried Dick.

Mrs. Lenox rose with a little nod, and as Madeline swept past him
towards the door, Dick turned for an instant and stopped her

"Forgive me," he said. "I did not mean it. I felt like saying something

"But you always used to want to be nice, Dick," she answered.

"Miss Elton," Mrs. Percival spoke severely, as a matron to a heedless
girl, "perhaps the gentlemen would prefer to have their smoke alone. Are
you coming to the drawing-room with us?"

Later, much later, Lena, in the privacy of her own room, awaited the
coming of her husband who seemed to her to prolong outrageously the game
of billiards which made his excuse for sitting up a little longer than
herself. She shook out her fluff of hair, and arrayed herself in a
bewildering pink dressing-gown from beneath which she toasted some very
pink toes before the fire. She knew what arguments told on the masculine
intellect. And at last Dick came.

"Sit down over there," she commanded. "No, you shan't come near me,
Dick, until I've said my say. I'm really much displeased, and you need
not act as though you thought it was a trifling matter."

Dick sat humbly in the spot appointed.

"Dick, I don't want you to say any more horrid little things about
women. You've done it several times lately. The other day you said
something to Mr. Early about his 'glorious freedom'; and you made a
sneering remark to Mr. Preston about women's small dishonesties."

"Only jokes, I assure you."

"Everybody knows that women are a great deal better than men."

"They must be," said Dick. "Literature is full of statements to that

"And marriage is far more desirable than 'glorious freedom'."

"It is," answered Dick. "So long as there are things to disagree about,
marriage will not lose its savor."

"You say that in a perfectly mean way, as though you did not really
believe anything nice. But whether you believe it or not, I am going to
ask you not to talk so any more," Mrs. Percival went on with dignity,
"because it sounds exactly like a criticism of me, and I think you owe
it to me to treat me with respect. What must people think of me when you
fling in--what do you call them--innuendoes like that around?"

Mr. Percival looked at his wife in silence; then he picked her up,
chair and all, and whirled her around in front of a long pier glass.

"Do you see that?" he demanded.

Lena saw and dimpled.

"Now I propose," Dick went on, "to carry you down stairs, just as you
are! I shall then arouse the whole household by my shouts and gather
them around you; and when every man jack of them is there, I shall say
'Ladies and gentlemen, is it possible for a man whose wife looks like
this to utter any serious accusation against femininity?'"

"Dick, don't be silly," said Lena, pouting with pleasure, and she
glanced again at herself in the glass. "I am nice, am I not?"

"Nice!" ejaculated Dick, "Huyler and Maillard and Whitman and Lowney,
all rolled into one big candy man, never dreamed of anything so sweet.
Did you really think I was disrespectful? Why, little Lena!"

Easter morning dawned, a God-given splendor of blue and spring softness,
and the six stood, after breakfast, on the veranda and looked at the

"Time and the world are before you. Choose how you will spend the
forenoon," said Mrs. Lenox.

"I should like to drive," Lena promptly replied. "Mr. Lenox was telling
me last night about his new pair of horses. I know he is pining to show
them off."

She cast one of her most fascinating glances at her unmoved host.

"Just the thing. How shall we divide up?" And Mrs. Lenox looked vaguely

"Miss Elton and I," said Norris boldly, "are going to row, just as we
used last summer."

Madeline glanced sidewise at him with some astonishment, as he made this
radical statement, but although she pondered a moment, she offered no
objection. Dick also glanced at him longingly as he said "last summer".
Our lives seem made of little bits that have small relation with each
other. Things just happen. And yet, when we look back over a long
stretch we realize that life is a coherent whole, that it leads
somewhere, and Dick's life had led a long way in the past year. So he
too became grave but said nothing, as he resigned himself to a back seat
beside Mrs. Lenox and watched Lena perched airily beside her host.

"Now I hope that matter will be amicably settled," Mrs. Lenox began,
looking with a satisfied air at the two unmarried people who were
starting toward the boat-house.

"What!" Dick exclaimed with a sudden start.

"Are you a bat that you can not see daylight facts?" she cried, turning
upon him.

"I dare say I am." And he looked very sober. "Yes, I suppose it is all
right. Norris is one of those fellows who always knows what he wants,
and just plods along until he gets it."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"I said 'row'," Ellery remarked as he pushed the boat out from shore,
"but I meant 'loaf and invite the soul'. The sunlight is too delectable
for anything strenuous."

"But inviting the soul is always a solitary experience," objected

"Perhaps. But it is delightful to know that there is a sister soul also
inviting herself close at hand. I hope yours will accept the invitation.
'At home--the soul of Mr. Ellery Norris, to meet the soul of Miss
Madeline Elton'."

A soft flush rose over Madeline's face and she devoted herself to the
tiller ropes.

"P.S. Please come," Ellery went on with a laugh. "R.S.V.P."

"Aren't you 'flouting old ends'?" she smiled.

"I hoped I was flouting new beginnings," he answered soberly, and he
rowed languidly in a silence which Madeline rushed to fill.

"I've been thinking ever since last night about Dick," she said. "He is
so different from the buoyant creature of last summer. And it is only a

"Well, perhaps this is a phase." He rested on his oars and looked at
her. "Dick is healthy, and joy is his normal state. He ought to be able
to recover from his malady."

"Sometimes I think it is permanent."

"I am almost afraid, too. But you see you can not get any bargains in
the department store of this world. You have to pay full price for
everything. If you want self-indulgence, you have to pay your health; if
you want health, you have to pay self-control. You never pay less than
the value of what you get, and you are often horribly over-charged for a
very inferior article. Now Dick wanted Lena Quincy. He bought a little
gratification, and paid--"


"Everything he had," answered Norris abruptly. "Do you think I have not
watched his courage and ideals wither as if they had been frosted? He is
numb. 'Heavy as frost,' Wordsworth said, and that's the weightiest
figure he could find. It did not take her a month to begin to change
him. In three months she has him well started. Isn't it a pity that the
worse one of the two should have the controlling force? But Dick's very
volatility that we love has laid him open to this thing."

"I'm glad," said Madeline slowly, "that he has his political interest."

"Yes, he's going into it with a kind of fury."

"Won't that give him a big outlet?"

"He may get a lot of satisfaction and do a really creditable thing."

"Your tone does not sound very hopeful."

"A single interest in life may accomplish more for the world, but I
don't believe it is very satisfactory for one's self."

Madeline looked at him inquiringly.

"God gives us of His own creative power," he said reverently, and there
came into his very practical face that dreamy look which she had seen
there once or twice before. "He supplies us with the raw materials of
the universe, gold and beauty and food and desire--and love--and He bids
us out of these things to build a man. We can't build a successful man
if we use only one ingredient. We get a complete man only when we use
them all."

Madeline stared off across the waters, and Ellery watched her over
shipped oars. At last he said, "But are you going to think only of Dick,
and Dick, and Dick for ever?"

She turned on him a face flushed but utterly frank.

"I know what you are thinking," she said. "But you are mistaken, quite
mistaken." And she met his eyes squarely in spite of her heightened
color. "At this very moment I was thinking more of you than of him," she

"And what of me?"

"I was thinking how I misread you at first. I thought you a kind of

"And now?"

"That you are dogged and persistent; and that therefore you stick to
your ideals better than he."

"Do you know how comparatively easy that is, even for a plodder, when
his ideals are set up before him in visible form, so that he can not
forget them by day or by night? I wonder if you can realize what it
means to have a face like yours looking up from every dirty strip of
galley-proof, and a voice like yours sounding under the rumble of the
big presses. It's something of a possession for an every-day man." A
soft glow that might have been a trick of the spring sun spread over
Madeline's face. There is no thought more intoxicating to a girl than to
feel that she stands to a man for his ideals. A long sweet silence fell
between them, while she mused on this thing, and he watched her in tense

"Madeline!" he cried, suddenly leaning forward and catching her hands.
"I must tell you! You must know, and I must know!"

With the grasp of his fingers, the first physical touch of love, an
electric pang seemed to leap through the girl's body; and in the flash
were shown to her new heights and depths in herself, and a thousand dim
things in the future. She felt, in the man, the revelation of that
mystery by which the body's passion slips into passion of the soul--that
soul-love, which by its very nature can never know lassitude nor
revulsion. And what was actual in him, grew radiant with possibility in

She looked up to meet his eager face and his eyes like lamps. "No, no!"
she cried. "Don't tell me."

"But do you know without telling?"

"I must think."

"But surely you must have read it long ago."

"I only glanced at it. I never looked it in the face."

"Don't examine it too closely now, or I'm afraid you will find it a poor
thing," he said whimsically. "Take it on impulse, Madeline."

But she waved him away with her hand, turning her face to one side, and
leaned back in her cushions, while Ellery waited, hardly breathing.
There was a deep hush on the opal waters under the April morning sky,
and no sound but the far-off note of a wood-thrush.

"Madeline!" he cried at last. "Be merciful, and speak to me."

She gathered her self-possession and turned to face him with smiles and
dimples, and one swift look full in the face.

"Mr. Norris," she said airily, and then laughed as his face fell at the
title, "we are in the middle of a big sheet of water, and I do not want
you to upset the boat; we are visible from many miles of shore, and the
world and his wife are driving and motoring on this most beautiful of
days; but over on our right there is a lovely little beach, and a clump
of willows that have forced the season a bit. Perhaps, if we went there,
I might listen to what you have to say."

"Oh, Madeline, my Madeline," he said, "I can never tell you because the
words are not made that will hold it, and it will take a lifetime to
tell it all. But, if you are willing, we will make a beginning over
there by the dipping willows." He shot a stormy glance at her as he
caught the oars, and she met it bravely. "Please don't trail your
fingers in the water," he said. "You are delaying the progress of the

"Heaven forbid delay!" she cried in mock horror, and showered him with
the drops from her lifted hand.

The keel grated, and Ellery sprang ashore and held out his arms to help

"Madeline," he said, sternly holding her at arm's length, "this spot is
so evidently created for a lovers' bower, that I suspect you of having
had your eye on it for a long time. How did you come to direct me

"Instinct," she laughed. "That wonderful instinct of woman."

"Shall we stay here for ever and let the world wag?"

"And live on locusts and wild honey?" she asked.

"Yes, if you will be my wild honey. I'm going to begin to devour you
right away." And he caught her at last.

"Who gave you permission?" she whispered with cheek close to his.

"Who? Haven't you heard the universe shouting aloud? The sky, and the
sun and the lake and the woods. They've been crying 'Mine! Mine! Mine!'
for the last ten minutes. You'll never contradict them, sweetheart?"

"Never," said she.

For a long moment they looked into each other's eyes, and she read in
his that mastery without tyranny which for some inexplicable reason sets
a woman's heart beating with unimagined bliss.

Ten minutes later, or so it seemed, Madeline pulled his watch from his
pocket and started in dismay.

"Ellery," she cried, "do you know that we have been sitting here for
four hours? What will Mrs. Lenox and all the others think?"

"Who cares what they think? Let them think the truth, if their
imaginations can soar to that height."

"We must hurry back."

"Don't you think it is a little brutal to invite a man to leave Heaven
and go back to earth?"

"Perhaps we need a dose of the world. Medicine is good for one."

"Not unless he is ill; and I was never well till now."

"Come, Ellery, we really must go," she said with severity.

"Well, there's lunch," he meditated. "I confess that I can view the
prospect of luncheon with something like equanimity. There are certain
advantages about the world, Madeline."

It was long after the driving party had returned when Miss Elton and Mr.
Norris strolled up the path from the boat-house, quite indifferent to
the fact of their lateness. Dick on the piazza watched their coming and
needed no handwriting on the wall. The girl glowed and Ellery reflected
her light.

"It would be a perfect woman who should unite her spirit with Lena's
soul-delighting body," Percival said to himself. "And Ellery chooses
the spirit, and I, God help me, love and choose the body. But I can not
bear to meet them."

He was turning to slip away when he met his wife face to face, and
stopped half in curiosity to see what she would notice and hear what she
would say. Lena, too, gazed at the oblivious advancing pair.

"Well, of all things!" exclaimed Mrs. Percival. "I should think she'd
feel pretty cheap."

"Why?" asked Dick, startled.

"Coming down to a nobody like that!" Lena retorted in scorn. "But I
think she has been going off in her looks lately, and I dare say she
knows it, and is glad to get even him."

The billiard room was empty, and Dick went in and shut the door.



As the months drifted into summer, young Mrs. Percival often felt very
dull. She had not even the excitement of envy left her for, with the
engagement of Miss Elton and Mr. Norris, much of her old enmity for
Madeline faded. Ellery looked to her like a fate so inferior to her own
that she could afford to drop her jealousy; and since Mr. Early and Dick
were now wholly released from thrall, she considered Madeline a creature
too inoffensive to be reckoned an enemy. She could even share the
tolerant and amused pleasure with which the world surveys a love match.
This pair was so evidently and rapturously content that they diffused
their own atmosphere. Lena could not understand that variety of love,
but its presence was patent to her.

Most of the "real people" as Mrs. Appleton called them, in improvement
on their Maker's classification, were leaving town either for the lake
or for some more distant breathing place, but she was tied at home,
first because Mrs. Percival the elder, whom Dick refused to desert,
preferred the wide quiet of her rooms, and second because Dick himself
grew daily more absorbed in his political labors.

Lena went to say good-by for the summer to Mrs. Appleton and was bidden
to come up stairs to a disordered little room where that matron
superintended a flushed maid busy with packing.

"I am really quite played out with all this turmoil," Mrs. Appleton
sighed. "Truly, dear Mrs. Percival, I think you are to be congratulated
on staying at home. The game is not worth the candle."

"I think, if Madame is tired, I could finish alone." Marie lifted a face
that manifested hope from the bottom of a trunk, but Madame shook her
head. It was one of her principles to see to everything herself and so
gain the proud consciousness of utter exhaustion in doing her duty.

Lena glanced enviously about the heaped up gowns and lacy lingerie. It
made her own stock seem mean.

"Perhaps it will amuse you to look these over while I am busy," Mrs.
Appleton went on good-humoredly, pushing a leather-bound case across the
table toward Lena's arm. Mrs. Percival lifted out one little tray after
another with growing sullenness. The profusion of jewels gave her no
pleasure. She slammed the trays back in place.

"Did Mr. Appleton give you all of these?" she demanded.

"Yes. Isn't he generous? But he says that my type of beauty is one that
can stand lavish decoration."

"He's certainly more free than Dick," Lena said with bald envy,
reviewing her own small store that a few short months ago had seemed to
her like the wealth of Ormus and of Ind.

"My dear," Mrs. Appleton exclaimed with a self-conscious laugh, "you can
hardly expect Dick Percival to rival Humphrey."

Mrs. Percival felt bitterly her friend's loftiness of position. It was
of course impossible for a woman to feel superior to what she owns and
Mrs. Appleton owned more and always would own more than Lena Percival.
"Do you know, my love," Mrs. Appleton pursued, "I think your husband is
making a great mistake in going in for petty politics. With his pull,
and his fair amount of capital to start with, he ought to be able to
make a fortune. He's just throwing his life away."

"Don't you suppose I know it?" Lena cried tearfully. "I've told him so a
hundred times. He's just crazy over these nasty little things. He's
willing to sacrifice anything to get the place of ward alderman away
from some miserable Swede. Think of me tied in town all summer!"

"I wouldn't stand it," Mrs. Appleton answered absently, her eyes on
Marie, stuffing tissue paper in a sleeve. "A woman has such influence on
her husband. Take matters in your own hands, my dear."

Lena, rebellious at heart, found her only diversion in occasional
week-ends at other people's country houses, or in long flights by
evening in Dick's motor. Her husband was self-absorbed and often silent,
another person, as she frequently and querulously rubbed into him, from
the ardent creature of a few months before.

Sometimes he made attempts to open to her his subjects of thought, but
Lena never attempted to understand things that did not interest her, and
now that she was safely married, it was too much trouble to make much
pretense at it; so she was often alone, and frequently bored.

Even Mr. Early was away most of the time, and the great blank eyes of
closed windows blinked down at her from his closed house beyond the
dividing hedge that flanked the garden. His place stood on a corner, and
on the two sides that fronted the streets, Sebastian had hidden the
wonders of his terraces and trimmed trees by high walls, but toward the
Percivals he had been less exclusive. Most of the houses in St. Etienne,
like their own, had no property dividing line, but lawn melted into lawn
with a park-like openness that hinted at communistic kindliness. This
had its disadvantages in lack of privacy, and hence it was that in spite
of quite an extensive demesne, Lena found in her own garden no spot
absolutely hidden from curious eyes of passers, except in one thicket of
trees and shrubbery over near the Early boundary. Here there was
seclusion, and here, therefore, young Mrs. Percival had her hammock and
her group of chairs and tables; and here she spent long indolent
afternoons in sleepy reading and sleepier dreaming, which was only less
agreeable than the social triumphs of which she dreamed. And yet she
often found herself weary of nothing, and wished she had some one
exactly to her taste to keep her company and talk to her about little
things in that "fool's paradise of laziness" where, it is said, Satan is
entertainer in chief. Once in a while, on his brief home-stays, Mr.
Early illuminated her retreat with his presence.

Toward the middle of the summer, certain business interests called Dick
to North Dakota, and then life was duller than ever.

Therefore it was a not wholly unwelcome diversion when, late on an
August afternoon, she saw the thick laurels of the hedge near her part a
little and the form of Ram Juna stand in the cleft, snowy white from
turban to slippers save for the gleaming ruby and the polished bronze
face. He looked like the day itself, glowing, sultry, indolent.

"Pardon me, dear lady," he said, "that through the bush I spied you. I
was solitary. You are solitary. The heat suits not with the severer
thought. The weak body refuses to yield to the commands of mind. I fail
to write; and perhaps you fail to read."

"I guess your thinking is harder work than my reading. Won't you come
over and sit down?" said Lena cordially.

"Then you, like me, would welcome companionship?"

"Yes. Isn't this a nice shady place?" Lena answered. "The maid is just
bringing me some iced drinks, and I dare say they'll taste good to you
if you have been trying to write that wonderful book of yours in all
this blaze."

The Hindu pushed the hedge still farther asunder and swept with a sigh
of content over to a cushioned reclining chair.

"If one's heart were set on the things that fade, what greater
satisfaction? Shadow, deep shadow from the heat, cool drafts, the voice
of a fair woman."

"You must not count me among the things that fade, though," laughed
Lena, as she handed him a tall glass of clinking fragrance. "I shan't
like you a bit if you do."

"Everything fades, the rose, the lady, even thought, which is after all
but a grub on the tree of truth. All, all fade."

"I wish you wouldn't talk that way," objected Lena. "You make me feel
quite creepy."

"Ah," said Ram Juna, "you love the things of to-day. To me the thought
that all is transitory is bliss. Is it not so?"

"Yes," said Lena, "I'm sure I like roses and jewels and iced minty stuff
to drink. And Ram Juna, I wish you would tell me the really-truly
history of your ruby. I've heard so many stories about it." He put up
his hand, detached the great jewel from its place and laid it in her
small outstretched palm.

"That is a mark of my confiding," he said. "There are few to whom I
would give to handle my treasure. It may truly be called a stone of
blood. Such angry storms of greed and passion, such murders of father by
son and husband by wife link their story to it. And now it rests at last
on the head of a man of peace. For how long? For how long?" Lena looked
at it with the eyes of fascination as it lay in her open hand.

"It charms you like a serpent?" asked her companion, leaning forward
with indolent amusement. "You are true woman. You love the glitter.
Would you like to see others?"

"Have you others?" cried Lena. "Oh--oh, I should like to see them!" He
rose, made her a salaam of grace, parted the hedge once more and
disappeared only to return bringing in his hands a curious box of
carven ivory, which he set on the table between them and proceeded to
unlock with a key of quaint device.

Lena gave a cry of rapture and astonishment as the lid fell back. Ram
Juna laid his hand on her arm.

"Silence!" he commanded, "would it be well that the flippant public who
pass near at hand on the pavement should know that there are such
treasures in this thicket?"

"I did not know that there was so much splendor in the world," whispered
Lena in admiration.

"Rubies--all rubies! They were the stones beloved of my ancestors. This
dangled once on the neck of a maha-ranee, more beautiful than itself,
only, unfortunately, she lost her neck, murdered by a rival queen."

He twisted the string of gems about her arm, bare to the elbow, and Lena
gasped with pleasure.

"Let me add this bracelet--a serpent. See of curious carved gold the
scales, and the eyes again two wicked rubies to beguile men's souls. Yet
it becomes the arm, does it not? Look, at your pleasure, at the rest of
the box."

He pushed the case toward her and Lena began to finger its profuse
contents with occasional sighs of envious delight and glances at her
white flesh enhanced by its ornaments. Ram Juna sat in silence.

"How do you dare to carry such things around with you?" she asked.

"Not much longer," he answered with a shrug. "To me they are delusions
inappropriate. I see that is your thought. Is it not so? What have I to
do with necklaces and rings of princesses? I had forgotten that I had
them, until a chance thought recalled it. I had long since meant to sell
them and give the money to the great cause for which I labor. That is my
treasure, is it not? I shall never take them back to India. I must
hasten to get rid of them, for I purpose to return there at once."

"Why, are you going away?"

"To-morrow I leave this city. My work here is done. It is the last of
work. Hereafter I shall find some solitary spot and end my life in
meditations. And the rubies--I might give them away; but perhaps the
trifle I should receive for them would help the Brothers in their
service. I shall not expect or wish their value."

"Oh, I wish I might buy some of them!"

"Why not? No lady could wear them with greater dignity. Young,
beautiful, beloved, and clothed with jewels. It is the frame for the
picture, Madame."

"Oh!" said Lena.

"To you, whom I reverence, they should cost but a trifle."

"How much?" gasped Lena.

"The necklace, now," said Ram Juna, and he leaned over and twisted it
about her arm as he seemed to hesitate, "I would give you that for five
thousand dollars--and you can see that it is worth--ah, I know not how
many times that sum. I do not understand these things."

"But my husband is away, and I have not any thing like that sum.
Besides, I could not buy it without asking him, you know. Oh, I should
like it!"

"Bah, it is a trifle to a lady in your position. You could in many ways
raise so paltry an amount. I can not, unfortunately, give you time to
deliberate." He was speaking very rapidly with many gestures, quite
unlike his usual calm. "I tell you I return to India without delay. If
you would wish those beautiful things you must hasten--to-day. Any
person, I think, would lend you such money. Mr. Early--ah, yes--Mr.

"Mr. Early is away, isn't he?"

Lena was growing confused. She turned the glittering string around and
around on her arm, and her heart was big with foolish longing. The
necklace seemed the only thing in life worth while. Ram Juna's quick
movements and urgent words quite took away her powers of reasoning.

"Mr. Early? Yes. He returned this morning. Shall I tell you a great
secret, Madame? A man loves the one for whom he does a favor. Would it
not be wise to let Mr. Early do this thing for you? I know he will lend
you without question. It will hereafter bind him to you. See. I make the
arrangements with him myself. Ladies know nothing of business, and I not
much. But I talk with him, he understands, and I make all smooth. Will
you? Shall I? Yes or no? Do not lose such a treasure by hesitancy. Your
husband shall thank you when he comes again. Yes? See the sunlight comes
through the trees and makes the rubies like itself."

"Oh, if Mr. Early would," said Lena. "I don't see why I shouldn't. And
if Mr. Percival thinks I can't afford it, the rubies are worth more
than I paid for them anyway."

"You are reasonable. Hold it. I trust you while I go to see Mr. Early,
and return. The necklace is yours, beautiful lady."

Ram Juna was awakened from his usual serenity and full of tiger-like
restlessness. Again he plunged through the hedge, and Lena saw the white
turban flying toward the house. Even Mr. Early looked around startled as
his usually torpid guest burst into the little den.

"Hello!" he said. "What's up?"

"Early, I bring you opportunity, the greatest of gifts. The favor I
shall confer, is it less than the favor I have received from you?"

"What do you mean?" asked Sebastian.

"Once you say that you will give much to get the young Percival in your

"Yes. What of it?"

"It is done."

A look of real interest began to illuminate Mr. Early's face. "Well?" he
said sharply.

"I have rubies--rubies to lure the heart of a woman from her bosom.
Madame, the young wife would give her soul--if she but had one. That is
too hard. Let her give her note." The Swami laughed gently. "You would
lend her five thousand dollars, my friend, to buy rubies from me. That
is an empty show. She gives you the note. I give her the necklace that
she must have. That is all. There is no need to give me money. I return
your hospitality thus."

"Well, suppose I did all this. Dick Percival could easily discharge his
wife's debt."

"Not so fast. Not so fast. The young wife is a fool as well as a knave.
To the note she shall sign her husband's name. That I will bring to
pass. But you know nothing of this. Of course not. You suppose that the
signature is genuine. You are unaware that Percival is out of town. And
I--if I am guilty--I am with my guilty knowledge in the hut in the
mountains of India. Do you not think that while you hold that note young
Percival will gladly serve you in any fashion that you may choose,
rather than that so foolish a piece of wife's knavery should come

"Gee whizz!" exclaimed Mr. Early, gazing at the simple seeker after
truth, whose face shone with a radiant smile. "Gee whizz! Ram Juna, but
you are a business man! But she won't sign her husband's name."

Ram Juna's smile expanded cheerfully.

"Let that remain to me. You have but to play your part," he said.

Mr. Early thought hard for a moment.

"There is need to haste," said the Swami gently. "She is now in the
garden where access is easy. Make the note. I will take it to her to
sign. Hasten, my friend."

Mr. Early drew toward him pen and ink.

"It's a little flyer, and there may be something in it," he said. "I
don't see that I get into trouble any way. But see here, Swami, you
deserve something for your work. I'm not going to see you lose that five
thousand. When you bring me this I O U with Dick Percival's signature,
I'll give you my check for the amount. Understand?"

"Be that as you will," said the Hindu, and he caught the piece of paper
and fled toward the thicket where Lena still played with her toy.

"Have I not told you?" he began suavely. "The necklace, less fair than
its owner, is yours. But one moment. Will you first do me a favor?"

He lifted the great white turban from his hot forehead and set it on the
table before her.

"A simple bit of the skill of my country," he said. "Will you look
fixedly into the great ruby that remains mine? And, as you look, will
you yield your mind to me, and let me show you a vision? So--even deeper
let your eyes penetrate to the heart of the jewel. Deeper and yet

He made a swift motion or two before her, and her eyes grew fixed.

"What do you see?"

"Myself," she answered.

"Naturally. What else could you ever see? But you are different. You are
a thousand times more beautiful. The world lies at your feet. It is a
world of adulation. Do you see this?"


"Very well. Now look away. We must not longer see the beautiful picture.
You remember we have business. Mr. Early, your friend, and my friend,
will lend you money. But how are you to repay him? You have nothing of
your own. It must be your husband who secures you. In the front of the
book which you are reading it is written 'Richard Percival'. You will
copy this with your utmost care, here on this paper. Ah, for you it is
not hard to do this thing. For some it would be hard to persuade them.
You make but a poor copy. That is of indifference. I will return this to
Mr. Early. You will await me here."

The August afternoon was closing, and the shadows grew strong here where
vines knit the trees into close brotherhood. Lena lay back in her chair
and clutched her treasure in a kind of stupor, until, in an incredibly
short time Ram Juna again appeared, tucking a scrap of yellow paper into
some inner pouch as he came. The Buddha smile still played about his
lips. He seated himself on the ground and stared unblinkingly at the
girl, and she gazed almost as fixedly back, except that once in a while
her eyes wandered to the big red stone which still hung in the turban on
the table. Ten minutes--fifteen minutes--they sat in silence, as though
the Swami enjoyed the experience, then the bronze man rose and moved
slowly toward her.

"Awake!" he whispered. "You must never forget that you wrote your
husband's name when you had not the right. Ah, in India, our knaves are
not also fools."

There was a sudden sharp noise and a cry in the garden behind the hedge;
and the Swami leaped into attention with the swift motionlessness of a
wild animal. Lena roused herself heavily and blinked about. There was no
Swami to be seen. His turban lay on the table, but he himself had
disappeared in a twinkling. She heard a rush of feet and voices raised
in excitement and then a sharp command. Even while she listened,
confused, a blue-coated starred man appeared at the opening in the hedge
and over his shoulder she saw Mr. Early's face, startled out of its
decorum into bewildered anxiety.

"Beg pardon, miss," said the officer. "Have you seen anything of that
nigger preacher?"

"The Swami?" asked Lena.

The man nodded.

"He was here a moment ago--at least I think he was. I--I'm not sure. And
he seems to have gone away. I don't know where he is." She looked
vaguely around.

"Left this in his hurry, I guess," said the man, taking possession of
the turban. "He must be hiding somewhere near. With your permission, I
will search the house, miss," and he moved off without waiting for the
said permission.

"Mrs. Percival," said Mr. Early.

"Beg pardon, Mrs. Percival," the man threw back with an added air of
respect. "It is an unpleasant duty, ma'am, but you'll not object, I
know." He beckoned sharply to two or three others who stood behind Mr.
Early, and turned toward the open door.

"What does all this mean, Mr. Early?" Lena gasped.

He tumbled as if exhausted into the same easy chair that Ram Juna had
occupied a few moments before.

"I am completely staggered," he exclaimed. "The police seem to think
they have reason to suspect my guest of being implicated with a gang of
counterfeiters. In fact they say that it is his extraordinary cunning of
hand that produced the bills that have been appearing everywhere.
And--great heavens!--he used my house as--as--as a fence! My house!
Pardon me, my dear Mrs. Percival, but I am horribly upset. They've found
dies and all kinds of queer things in the little room that he kept
sacred to his meditations. But of course I can't be suspected of
knowing. Why, all my servants can bear testimony to the fact that I know
nothing about that room."

"Of course, Mr. Early, no one would think of accusing you."

"Still, my house, you know--and my friend. It's horrible!" In fact Mr.
Early was shivering as though he had the ague. "It would drive me mad if
any one should think--why, Mrs. Percival, think of the scandal of having
him with me for months. Of course, if they catch him, I'll make him
clear me at once. But, take it how you will, it is awful. The least I
can expect is to be laughed at over the whole civilized world for being
his dupe. I've always prided myself on my clean skirts. You think I'm
raving, Mrs. Percival. I am nearly mad." Mr. Early suddenly leaped up
with horror newly reborn in his eyes. "And I had just given him a large
check. That is bound to look bad. There is no knowing how it may be
misconstrued. Great heavens, what am I to do?"

Lena flushed.

"I'm afraid that check was for me," she said. "Mr. Early, I want to
thank you--for--for being so generous to me; and when Dick comes back
from North Dakota, he will repay you at once."

Mr. Early caught himself up and remembered that he had a part to play in
the present drama.

"When Dick comes back," he said in a stupefied way, "what do you mean by
'when Dick comes back'? Isn't he here now? Why, he must be. It isn't an
hour since he signed--"

"Didn't you know he was away?" asked Lena timidly, her heart sinking,
for Mr. Early's tone was sharp.

"I certainly thought he signed a note made out to me. Was it another
piece of the Swami's clever forgery?"

"He--I--" cried poor Lena in confusion. "Oh, Mr. Early, do you call it
forgery?--my own husband's name? Oh, I--oh, Mr. Early, what are you
thinking?" At this moment she was the picture of confused innocence.

Mr. Early looked at her and gave a long-drawn breath of astonishment.

"I understand," he said at last, while Lena hung her head. "You wrote
Dick's name for him, and he knows nothing about it. Well, let it go at
that. It is a matter of no consequence. And, my dear Mrs. Percival, I
would suggest that this matter be kept a secret between you and me.
We'll never mention the debt again. I'm sure you will accept the rubies
as a little gift from one of the most humble of your admirers." He bent
forward and kissed her finger-tips in his most gallant manner.

"Oh, Mr. Early, you are so good!" Lena's voice expressed manifest
relief. The memory came back to her of what Ram Juna had said about the
bond created by favor. It flashed into her mind, "He thinks it is sweet
and innocent and womanly in me to do such a thing in ignorance. Dick
would think so, too. How should I know?"

"But suppose Dick shouldn't like to have me take them from you, such a
magnificent gift?"

"I would suggest," Mr. Early's manner was regaining some of its
self-possession, "that you speak of the necklace--is that it in your
hand? a really wonderful thing, with curious settings, carved by
hand--as I was saying, I would suggest that you speak of it as a gift
from the Swami, who, as is well known, was much impressed by your
charms. A present from such a creature, who hardly comes into the
category of ordinary men, would create no such remark as might a gift
from me. Do you not see? We will let the truth remain a little secret
between us two. I have an idea that we shall not be likely to see Ram
Juna again. I fancy he is a fellow of greater cunning than any of us
dreamed; and if he has a little start of the detectives, I doubt if they
have so much as a glimpse of his heels; though, to be sure, he is rather
a marked figure, and difficult to disguise. Now don't forget. The Swami,
with oriental profuseness, gave you the rubies."

"You are a dear," gushed Lena. "Oh, I do hope he is gone!" After all, it
was a relief that Dick should not know.

"One favor I must ask, my dear Mrs. Percival," Mr. Early went on
hesitatingly. "If, by any chance, Dick should ever come to know of this,
will you assure him that I supposed his signature to be genuine? I
wouldn't have him suspect that I--that I was a party--or at least that I
knew that you wrote it for him. For really, little woman, it wasn't
strictly honest, you know."

"I'm afraid it wasn't," Lena confessed with charming blushes. "But I
didn't think. I don't know much about such things, you know."

"Of course you don't. No nice woman does," said Mr. Early comfortingly.
"And now let us forget it."

"Here come the officers," said Lena.

"It ain't no use," said the captain disgustedly. "He's given us the
slip, somehow. And we'd watched the house and made sure we'd nab him."

"What are you going to do?" asked Mr. Early.

"Take his kit, and set guards and send telegraph descriptions of him in
all directions. 'Taint likely he can get clean away. He'll be a marked
man wherever he goes."

"If there is anything I can do to help you," said Mr. Early
grandiloquently, "you can command me, though you may imagine that it is
very offensive to me to be mixed up in this kind of affair."

"Well, rather," said the officer dryly. Then, seeing the flush rising on
Mr. Early's face, he went on with the patronage of the majesty of the
law: "You needn't fear that you'll suffer any personal inconvenience.
We've had you under surveillance for a long time--ever since we began to
suspect your nigger friend; and we know you are all right." But the
assurance seemed to add to Mr. Early's discomfiture. "Looks as if it was
going to blow up a storm. A dark night would be a good thing for him and
a nuisance to us. But we'll catch him sure."

They were gone, and Lena lingered a moment, fastening her dearly-bought
bauble around her neck and gathering her books, while a maid came
scudding from the house to bundle rugs and cushions away in face of the
thunder-heads looming in the southwest. A sudden sibilant sound brought
Lena to attention.

"Mrs. Percival!" she heard. "Look up."

Among the branches over her head the leaves were drawn so closely
together that only a few faint glimmers of white showed, and the
brilliant eyes that glared down at her were the most conspicuous things
she saw.

"Listen and reply not," he said. "You will bring a dark and large
great-coat, and other dark garments that you can find, and leave them
here with swiftness and secrecy. I command you. If you do not obey, I
will make it the worse for you."

He snarled suddenly, and Lena jumped back as though a tiger had sprung
at her throat.

The face disappeared among the leaves, and Lena sped toward the house,
hastened by a crash of thunder and a few great drops, that seemed to her
frightened imagination like the servants of the savage creature that
she had left in the tree-tops. She slipped out again, in spite of wind
and rain, obedient to his command, and as she dropped her bundle at the
foot of the tree trunk, she whispered,

"I hope, oh, I hope that you will get away!" But she heard no reply. The
storm came down and the night fell, seamed with lightning.

Lena quietly ate her dinner, and listened to the well-bred calm voice of
her mother-in-law as she wondered what Dick was doing, and when he would
be at home again. But Lena wondered what Ram Juna was doing, and whether
she should ever see him again.



To be in the heart of a great country, fifteen hundred miles from the
Atlantic, and two thousand miles from the Pacific, to be forbidden the
public highway of the train, and to have one's objective point
India,--this is by no means an easy problem, even to the oriental mind.
And who could know what was going on in the being that crept away into
the storm, strong with the instinct of hiding and of cunning. He must
have balanced all things. To go westward, where the great steamers plied
toward the Orient, this would seem the natural course; and yet that way
lay interminable prairies and empty stretches, and again deserts and
piled mountains, without shelter and without food. It is easier to hide
among people than amid solitudes. On crowded city streets, we jostle
without seeing.

It was no great feat to transform the once Swami of the flowing robes
and lofty port into a hulking skulking negro tramp, like the sturdy
villains of ancient days, sleeping in woody nooks by day, and pursuing
his slow journey under the stars, answering the look of such human
beings as he met with suspicion, keeping to the hamlets where police
officers were scarce and knowledge of the criminal world scarcer, and
where solitary house-wives, whose men were in the field, could be
persuaded, half through charity and half through fear, to dole out food.
Ah, but it was a weary journey. The world, of whose littleness we boast
when we think of steam and electricity, grows very sizable again when a
man comes back to the elemental means of progress--his own two legs. As
for the smaller world in which he had been living--the world of luxury
and of worshiping disciples--he laughed silently to think what a mirage
it was and always had been.

Down the Mississippi he crept, sometimes peering from between the great
trees that flanked its steep banks, as the red Indians did long ago, to
see the boats of the white man go serenely up and down that mighty
swirling current, and stopping even in his self-absorption to feel a
little of the beauty when the great river spread itself into the
shimmering expanse of Lake Pipin, or to remember, at Winona, the
picturesque legend that he had heard of the deserted Chippewa maiden who
here threw herself from the overhanging rocks into the pitiless rush of
waters below, and left only her ghost and her sweet-sounding name to the
spot. He halted to inspect the great monolith, a hundred feet in height,
of Sugar Loaf.

He had an idea that in some little town to the south he might venture to
board a straggling cross-country train to Chicago; and, once in the
thick of men again, he believed himself safe. He had always been wary
enough to keep on his person a certain sum of money. Such as it was, it
might serve his purpose. It also tickled his sense of humor to think
that--shabby black wayfarer that he was--he had in his pocket a check
for five thousand dollars, that he could not cash, and a handful of
rubies that were enough to awaken the suspicions of the least
suspicious. But still, day after day and night after night, he plodded
patiently on his way down the water course, until at last, at Prairie du
Chien, two hundred miles from St. Etienne, he felt that he might comfort
his inner man with hot food, and his weary legs with a bed and a
pillow. He prowled along the streets of the country town looking for
some cheap lodging-house where such as he, a humble, cringing, dog-like
fellow, might find shelter. He looked through a dusty window and saw a
shaggy-bearded, roughly-dressed man shoveling food with a knife, and he
felt that he had found the right place.

The proprietor of the establishment sat at a small table absorbed in the
perusal of a week-old Sunday newspaper. He growled out a "Guess so.
Sausages; baked beans; coffee," to Ram Juna's polite inquiry. It neither
looked nor smelled inviting, but the Hindu submitted to fate and
swallowed a hasty and unpalatable meal.

"Can you tell me where I can get a bed for the night?" he asked, turning
to his host.

The evident refinement in his voice made that worthy look up from his
literary occupation in some startled curiosity.

"They ain't many places where they take niggers," he said with an
unpleasant grin. "But I guess you might find a berth at Sally Munn's, if
you ain't too particular about morals. She's a merlatter herself; keeps
a place 'bout six houses down, first street to the left." The man
stared impudently as he spoke, but Ram Juna said, "Thank you," with his
usual politeness as he went out. The Hindu noted the impudent stare, but
he went away with an indifferent air.

"See here!" said the proprietor to his single other customer, "ain't
this picture in the paper the very image of that black feller that just

"Say, it's him!"

"We'd ought to look this up. There's a big reward offered."

While Ram Juna slept, lying in all his day clothes, some subtle
subconsciousness kept watch, became aware of disturbance, and roused his
body to attention. He got up, tiptoed to the open window and looked out
at the group of men standing below in the darkness.

"Aw, shut up, Sal," one of them was saying to an angry woman in the
doorway. "We ain't goin' to raid ye, though Lord knows you wouldn't have
no kick comin' if we did. What we want is that black feller that come
to-night. We suspect he's one of a gang of counterfeiters that the St.
Etienne police are after; and we ain't goin' to lose the chance of the
reward. You fellers keep right under the window, and I'll take you six
up stairs with me. He's big and he may show fight. Get your guns ready.
Don't shoot to kill. We want to deliver him alive. But you needn't be
afraid to use a ball on him."

Ram Juna drew away from the window and smiled his old Buddha smile. With
clumsy creaking precautions they mounted the stair. The moment for the
climax came; there was a rush all together, a breaking down of the shaky
door. The crew burst into the room--an empty room--and stared puzzled
and stupefied at the walls and at each other.

"Well, if that don't beat all!" ejaculated the sheriff. "Where in ----
has that fellow disappeared to?"

"They say," said Josiah Strait, a lank westernized Yankee, "that them
Hindu jugglers and lamas, and so forth, has supernatural gifts, and I
begin to believe it."

                 *       *       *       *       *

Something over a month later, Mr. Early burst in on Mr. and Mrs.
Percival as they dawdled over the breakfast-table.

"It's no time to be paying calls, I know," he apologized, "but I've had
such a sensation this morning that I had to come over and share it.
Yes, there are times when a man wishes that he had a wife to talk to!"

"What is it, Early?" Dick asked indifferently.

Mr. Early was waving a bit of paper about in a way quite hysterical.

"Do you see that?" he cried exultantly. "I never expected to see it
again, but I declare it is worth its price. I was going over my bank
accounts the first thing this morning and I found it."

"How do you expect us to know what it is when you're fanning it about
that way?" Dick demanded.

"It's a check, man, a check for five thousand that I gave Ram Juna the
very day of his unceremonious departure." Lena turned scarlet, and Mr.
Early noticed it with fresh glee. "A check I gave Ram Juna," he
repeated. "It's been cashed, with four indorsements, in New Orleans. Now
how did he manage that, tell me. The Swami is one of the great geniuses
of the age. Of course I wanted to see the rascals punished, and it makes
me hot to think how they used my house and all that, but, by Jove! I'm
glad they haven't Ram Juna. From New Orleans, a seaport, mind you! I am
willing to make a good-sized bet that he's well on his way to his
favorite Himalayas by this time, ready to meditate on the syllable 'Om'
for the rest of his life. Oh, it's too good! How he must laugh in his
sleeve at the rest of the world! But how did he get that check cashed?"

"Well, if I were in your place, I should have it traced back," said
Dick, the practical.

"Of course I shall," exclaimed Mr. Early. "Of course I shall. I shall
put it in the hands of the police at once, for I'm sure of one thing, if
it helps to root out any sinners, Swami Ram Juna won't be among them.
He's gone for good, take my word for it; and as for the other rascals, I
hope with all my heart they may suffer." He nodded jubilantly at Mrs.
Percival, and she flushed again.

"It's a very good joke, certainly," said Dick, "but rather an expensive
one for you, I should say, Early."

"Oh, I shall get five thousand dollars' worth of satisfaction out of
it," Mr. Early went on enthusiastically. "And I'm proud of the Swami,
proud of him. And the splendid simplicity of him! I was talking
yesterday with the detective that ferreted him out. The plunder they
found in my little room was perfectly primitive. He had practically no
tools to make the cleverest counterfeits in years. A deft hand and a
wonderful thumb had the Swami."

"What are they going to do with the big ruby in his turban?" asked Lena.

"Oh, that is one of the chief things that I came to tell you about. You,
my dear Mrs. Percival, have especial reason to be interested in this."
He turned, brimming with information, to Lena, "The captain of police
took it to Brand's--the jeweler, you know--to be appraised. Now isn't
this the crown of the whole story? Brand tells him that it is paste!"

Dick sat back in his chair and laughed with abandon, and laughed again.

"And what about my rubies'?" screamed Lena, springing to her feet.

"I have not the slightest doubt that they are paste, too. Everything he
touched was fraud."

"I'm glad of it! I'm glad of it!" cried Dick, with a new access of
mirth. "The old rascal! Giving my wife jewels! Why, Lena, you couldn't
wear his stuff anyway, after all this fracas. It will do to trim a
Christmas tree."

But Lena, with angry face, tapped the floor nervously with her gaudy
small slipper, and made no reply to her husband's hilarity.

Even to her slow-working mind it was evident that she had paid a high
price for some worthless bits of glass. This conferring of a favor was
indeed a bond.

She wondered what Mr. Early thought of her; what Dick would say if he
ever discovered.



The strenuousness of the fall campaign almost wiped these events from
Dick's mind. Day after day he spent in bringing home his points to the
man on the street and in the workshop. Much of it was dreary and
monotonous work, but he kept doggedly at it. It seemed his whole life,
now. And night after night Mr. Preston, Dick and Ellery tried to put
fire into some dingy little hall-full of men. To Percival's surprise,
Norris developed a plain common-sense variety of eloquence that appealed
to his audiences quite as much as did Dick's more fervid eloquence.
Ellery invariably spoke straight to some well-known condition. But they
hammered and pounded and reasoned and explained; they tried emotion, and
logic and everything except bribes to win their ground, until their
speeches began to sound automatic to themselves, their voices grew
hoarse, and they moved like men in a dream.

"If there were one day more of this," Dick said to Norris, as they
tramped home late on the night before election, and felt a certain
restfulness in the November starlight, "I should send down a wheezing
nasal phonograph to grind out my speech. I am played out. Everything I
say sounds like tommy-rot."

"It does grow hollow. The worst of it is it robs me of my evenings with

"Um!" said Dick. "When are you to be married?"

"About Christmas. The death of Golden, poor fellow, shoves me up a peg
on the editorial staff, and justifies me in facing matrimony. Mr. Elton
is good enough to give us a little home. They are a family to hang to,
Dick. I feel as though I had 'belongings' for the first time since I
lost my own father and mother. Madeline and I shall make rather a small
beginning, but, as you know, she has not set her heart on luxuries."

"No," said Dick slowly. "You are a lucky fellow, Ellery. You're going to
get away ahead of me in the long run. Preston said yesterday that the
honors of this campaign were yours. He has been a fine figure-head, and
I have hollered loud, but you've hollered deepest, and the public knows
it. I guess that's the real reason that you've been shoved ahead on the
staff. Here's your boarding-house. Good night, old fellow. To-morrow
night our labors will be over."

"I hope yours will have just begun, Mr. Alderman," Norris retorted.

The polls closed in uncertainty and for three days speculation filled
the papers, and election bets remained unpaid. Then the decks cleared.
Mr. Preston was elected mayor by a narrow plurality; and out of the
eighteen aldermen, the reform element had carried seven, Dick Percival
among them, to victory. The Municipal Club counted its gains and was
jubilant, for this meant that, if the city council passed any
objectionable measure, their iniquity could be vetoed by the mayor, and
the bad men of the city fathers lacked one of the two-thirds majority
which they would need to carry their legislation over the executive's

Dick took Lena and went away for a fortnight's rest, but came back
looking old and dissatisfied.

It was understood that the first battle in the new council would be over
the lighting franchise, which was about to expire and which the company
in power wished to renew. There had been some talk of an attempt to
force it through before the old council went out of power, but even
Billy Barry's henchmen refused to commit themselves to so unpopular a
measure on the very eve of election; for St. Etienne had been paying a
notoriously high price for notably bad lighting, and the citizen,
usually a meek animal, had been stirred to a realization of his injuries
by wholesale exposition of the truth.

But now there were new councils of war, and Billy swore more intricate
oaths than he had ever been known to produce in days of yore. He was
still in possession of his aldermanic seat, but a little uncertain
whether it was a throne or a stool of repentance. Still Billy talked
loudly of the things he meant to do; and, as usual in his troubles, went
to consult the delphic Mr. Murdock; and Mr. Murdock went to see Mr.
Early; and Mr. Early, after very much demur, went to see Mr. Percival.
Sebastian did not like to mix himself publicly in politics, and the
reformers were his friends.

Still, one evening just before the franchise was introduced, Mr. Early
did drop in on Dick in a friendly sort of way. Percival took him to his
own sanctum, and settled down with him to the friendly communion of

Mr. Early hesitated and was manifestly ill at ease, which gave Dick a
pleasurable amusement while he waited to hear the discomfort unfolded.

At last Sebastian said: "Dick, you know I am a man of art rather than of
politics, and of course I am in entire sympathy with the idea of clean
government; but I want to talk to you about this lighting business."

"Well?" said Dick, as he took out his cigar.

"It's a matter of some importance to one or two of my friends, and I may
say, to myself, that the old contract should be renewed," said Mr.
Early, gaining confidence. "I want to ask you to look at it in a
reasonable light. I suppose you fellows had to be a little outrageously
virtuous to make your campaign; but now it's time to drop that and get
down to business."

Dick resumed his cigar with an air of settling the question.

"Mr. Early," he said, "I do not think it necessary for us even to
discuss this matter. This was one of the main issues in the campaign.
Some of us were elected on purpose that we might rid the city of this
kind of thing; and we propose to carry out our pledges. There is
nothing more to be said."

"There are personal considerations to every question, Percival,"
answered Mr. Early, shading his face with his hand, and watching Dick's
expression with artistic appreciation of the changes that he felt sure
he should see.

"Not for me," said Dick. "Thank Heaven my hands are clean, and I can do
whatever I believe to be right."

"Yes, for you," answered Mr. Early suavely, and then he broke into a
suppressed laugh. "Why, you young idiot, if you care to be told, your
feet are limed, and the sooner you recognize the fact the better."

"What do you mean?" cried Dick with fierce resentment.

"Oh, sit down, my boy," said Mr. Early, still amiable. "There's no use
in rampaging. I just want to tell you a little story and show you a
little piece of paper."

Dick sat down and glared at his guest.

"Your wife--" Dick started up with something like a groan. "Yes, your
wife, Percival. You see a man does not always stand alone. Your wife has
a necklace of worthless rubies, which she has told you was a present
from our dear departed Swami. If people only knew about it, there might
be a certain amount of scandal about a young woman's receiving a
supposedly valuable gift from a swindler who was also a social idol.
Don't go off your head, Dick. You've got to listen to me. As a matter of
fact, she lied to you when she told you he gave them to her. She bought
them; and she had not the money to pay for them. I suppose it was at his
suggestion that she borrowed the sum from me. That would have been all
right, except that she gave me a note signed by Richard Percival, and
she quite omitted to tell me that her husband was away at the time. I
found that out by chance afterward, after I had supplied her demand.
Would you like to see the forgery, Dick? It's an ugly word, but we might
just as well be plain with each other."

Dick's tongue had grown dry and speechless, so that he seemed to have no
power to check this recital, and now all he could do was to reach out an
eager hand.

"Not so fast," said Mr. Early. "It's mine, not yours. And it will take
more than the five thousand dollars out of which it swindled me to buy
it back. It sounds bad, doesn't it? A forgery, connected with a rascal
who was the talk of the country. I should not myself care to pose again
as the dupe of a woman and her friendly counterfeiter, but that would be
a small matter compared with the hail of scandal that would whir around
the head of that pretty little butterfly, your wife."

"Scandal! My wife!" Dick staggered to his feet.

"That is what we all want to avoid, don't we?" Mr. Early asked with his
fat smile.

They looked at each other in silence. Dick had a wild impulse to fling
himself on his knees, spiritually speaking, and to beg for mercy; but
the expression of Mr. Early's face suggested that all sentiment would
fall into cold storage in his breast.

"You've been devoting yourself, with a certain amount of success, to
digging out the hidden things in other men's careers," the tormentor
went on with a cheerful sneer. "I suppose it has amused you. I know it
amuses me, and it would doubtless amuse the public, to fix attention on
this little affair of your own. You must remember that you have this
disadvantage: you and your kind are thin-skinned. Billy Barry and his
kind are pachyderms."

He settled back comfortably in his chair and smiled benevolently at
Dick's white face.

"Well?" Dick asked at last hoarsely.

Mr. Early carefully refolded the slip of paper, and tucked it away in
his vest pocket, but he spoke with engaging openness.

"It's yours, my dear boy, the day after the lighting franchise passes
over the mayor's veto. If they fail to pass it, I shall know that you
and Mrs. Percival are willing to stand a little public obloquy for the
sake of what you consider right. Very creditable to you, I am sure, and
damned uncomfortable for your wife."

Dick still stared at him, and he went on: "I'll leave you to think it
over. In fact, I do not know that it is necessary for me to learn your
decision except by your action. Sorry to have to take extreme measures,
but it's every one for himself, in this world."

He went out, and Dick sank into a chair and stared at his toes and the

"What's the use?" he said to himself. "She didn't know what she was
doing. I can't change it or her."

Winter went on, and Ellery and Madeline were married. Dick squandered
himself on their wedding present, and looked like a thunder-cloud as he
watched the ceremony. On the day after he returned from his brief
honeymoon, Norris started down town to take up the routine of life,
irradiated now by love and purpose. The world seemed fresh and fair, and
even the face of Billy Barry less unlovely than usual as they met near
Newspaper Row.

"Morning," said Mr. Barry. "You look ripping. My congratulations. Sorry
you could not come around to the council meeting, last night. You'd have
been pleased to see the old franchise waltz through."

"What do you mean?" demanded Norris, stopping short.

"Haven't even read the morning paper? Good land, that's what it means to
be a bridegroom!" Barry went on with a chuckle. "Couldn't stop looking
at her face behind the coffee-pot!"

Norris restrained an impulse to throttle him and allowed Barry to

"Why, yes, we passed the old thing. I always said we would. Your friend
Percival voted with the combine. He's the real stuff. When he saw how
truth and justice lay, he buckled down and did the square thing. Have a
cigar? No? Oh yes, it's straight goods I'm givin' you. You needn't look
so queer. And say, on the quiet, I'm rather stuck on you reform
fellers. All they need is argument. So when you get 'em, you get 'em
cheap. Say, it's better than cash, any day."

Norris ran up the steps and snatched a morning's paper. Yes, it was
true. Percival had voted against his friends and had given the victory
to the other side. Ellery flung into his office and whirled into his
day's work in a kind of daze. There was much to do and no time for
outside thought, but when the afternoon was over, instead of rushing
back to the little home, as he had expected, Norris hurried into his
coat and hastened to find Dick. Mr. Percival was at home; and, without
waiting to be announced, Ellery sprang up the stairs to the little
sanctum where the two had confabbed on many a day. He plunged in on
Dick, pale and unresponsive, and blurted out his question.

"Yes," said Dick, "I voted for it. I became convinced that it was the
best thing the city could do. I've been telling the boys so for the past
two weeks. I really didn't understand the matter before. Don't get so
excited, Norris."

He spoke quietly, but without meeting his friend's eyes, and Ellery's
heart sank.

"I don't know what it means, Dick," he said bitterly, "but it seems to
me that, like Lucifer, you've been falling from dawn to dewy eve, and
now you are likely to consort with the devils in the pit. Are you the
old Dick who used to be my idol?"

"Oh, bosh!" said Dick. "You are making mountains out of mole hills. The
franchise is all right."

"It's not all right; and you're not all right," cried Norris, in a
frantic grasping after the truth of the matter. "The old relationships
are slipping away and something that was as dear to me as myself is
going with them."

He turned away and Dick suddenly rose.

"Ellery," he cried hoarsely, and Norris turned to see anguish in Dick's
face and outstretched hand, "I--I--can't explain to you," cried
Percival; "but, Ellery--" he moved forward, "don't cut the bonds of old
friendship, for God's sake! I need you now, as I never did before. If
you desert me, I shall lose my grip."

Norris stepped back, and the two took each other's hands and looked
steadfastly, eye into eye. And Norris saw something that took on him the
hold that death has on us, and made him ready to forgive. Death is the
big problem of every mind. We may perhaps master and solve the question
when the death is of the body, but when the soul dies out, the problem
is too great.

Ellery sank into a chair with weariness.

"Tell me about it," he said.

Then Dick stiffened again.

"There isn't anything to tell."

"See here," said Norris. "This isn't only a question of the lighting
franchise. The city may walk in darkness and be damned for all I care;
but I can't bear that you should walk in darkness. Do you realize what
it means? You have fought your first public battle on a basis of truth.
You make your first public appearance in league with evil. You are
killing the hope of your public career before it is fairly in bud."

"I know it," said Dick.

"Percival, you've stirred this city into consciousness. It's been
wonderful how you have done it so swiftly, for it is your doing. The
decent elements are marching forward into control and it belongs to you
to march at their head. The thing has got to go on. If you don't lead
it, some one else will."

"I know it."

"And you are going to give up?" Ellery urged, incredulous.

"I haven't decided. Perhaps I have done with politics."

"And if you abandon your public career, what are you going to do?"

"What do other failures do?"

"Oh, stuff!" exclaimed Norris, and began to pace the room. "Then you did
not vote for the franchise because you believed in it. Somebody has a
pull on you. I'd never have believed that any man in this wide world
would get a pull on Dick Percival."

"Well, somebody has," said Dick shortly. "I wouldn't say so much as that
to any mortal but yourself. Now spare me, Ellery, and don't carry it any
further. Do you think," he went on bitterly, "that I have not gone over
the whole ground and told myself the old truths that never mean anything
to you until life rams them home on your consciousness? A man may creep
out from under the machinery of state law, and escape from the
punishment he deserves; but from the laws under which we really live,
there is no escape. It is reap what you sow; hate and you shall be
hated; sin and suffer. And it isn't as though one went out to sow. One
sows perforce, every minute, whether he will or not. In some instances
the reaping is singularly little fun, Ellery."

"Well, whatever hold this mysterious some one has on you, be a man.
Stand up and own yourself and let the consequences go hang."

"I know some men could. You could. That's the advantage of having taken
a good many hard blows. You learn to stand up against them," Dick
answered slowly. "You know other people's opinion has always been a god
to me. I haven't the strength to defy it now."

There was a short silence, then Dick laid his arms across his friend's
shoulders, quite in the old friendly way.

"Now may we drop that subject and be good pals again?"

"Not yet," Ellery said sharply. "We won't drop it till I've had one more
say. Dick, don't be knocked out by a single blow. You! Why, I thought
you had a grip like a bulldog. I can't believe even in this ugly mess.
Still less will I believe that you haven't the courage--that you aren't
man enough to own your defeat, and then go on as though you hadn't been

Dick poked at the andirons with his toe. Suddenly he looked up with a
flash of his old brilliance and buoyancy.

"Suppose I do!" he exclaimed. "What a fellow you are, Ellery, to stick
to me this way! But don't underestimate my difficulty. I'm not an
absolute coward, but I've been beaten not only once, but on both flanks
and in the middle. Everything in life seemed to be giving me a kick. I
was at the bottom when you came in, but if you believe in me, perhaps
I'll begin to believe in myself again. You've always been telling me how
much I did for you. You've done more for me to-night than I ever dreamed
of doing for you."

Ellery's face cleared. They stood with clasped hands, and there seemed
no need of further explanations or assurances. Norris drew a long breath
of relief.

"So we are friends still?" asked Dick.

"Till the Judgment Day and beyond."

"Now good-by," said Dick, as though anxious to get rid of him, "till

"Till to-morrow."

A moment later a radiant vision stood in the doorway making a pouting

"Dick," said Lena.

Dick started and stiffened himself as though to give battle, his hands
rested on the chair-back in front of him, but an instant's survey of
his wife's rose-leaf face, her well-groomed masses of hair, her dainty
evening gown, seemed to inspire another attitude. He threw his arms
passionately around her.

"Oh, Lena," he cried, "love me! You must love me--you have cost me so

"Nonsense!" Lena gave him a sharp push and spoke resentfully. "I'm not
half so extravagant as most of the women we know."

Dick drew away and became rigid again.

"Extravagant!" he exclaimed as though to himself. "You have cost me my
self-respect, a big part of my future and the cream of my best
friendship. What higher price could a man pay for the thing he loves?"

"I do think, Dick," said Lena severely, "that you can talk the silliest
nonsense of any person I ever heard. What on earth is the meaning of all
this? No--no--" as she saw that he was getting ready to reply. "I have
not time to hear. I thought that tiresome Mr. Norris would never go.
What can you see in him?--Have you forgotten that we are going to the
Country Club for dinner? It's long past time for you to dress."

"Imagine it! I had forgotten that dinner!" Dick answered bitterly. For a
moment he turned away as though, he would not see her while he
readjusted something in himself. He felt like a different man and looked
to her indefinably strange when he faced her again quietly. To himself
he was saying, "What would Ellery do?" and on his answer to his own
question he was readjusting his whole life.

"We will not go out this evening, Lena," he said. "We've come to a
crisis in our affairs more important than a club dinner."

"What, have you been losing money?" cried Lena, startled and resentful.

Dick looked at her with a very unpleasant smile.

"No," he answered. "I wonder what you would say if I told you that I was

Lena gasped with horror. For the moment she could not speak. A gulf of
poverty--no one knew better than she what that meant--yawned before her.
A blind fury against Dick, if he should have plunged her into this,
possessed her; and Dick watched her and read her as he had never done

"Will you sit down?" he asked courteously. "I want to talk with
you--just by our two selves. I haven't lost any money, Lena. Let me
relieve your mind of its worst apprehension." Her face smoothed, but
she seated herself quietly, puzzled and foreboding. Dick was so
singularly inaccessible.

"I've lost no money," he repeated, "but I've come desperately near ruin
for all that. Lena, a moment ago I made a real appeal to your love. You
answered me by a shrug and a push for fear that I might muss that very
pretty and exceedingly becoming gown. It was a kind of illustration of
all our married life."

Lena still stared at him dumbly, vague with uncomprehending fear. This
didn't seem like the easy-going husband she knew. She wished he would
look at her.

"When we were married," he went on, "I had a dream that a man's wife
stood for his ideals, that he might mold his life by her purity and
nobleness and love. I've always been saying, in effect, 'Lead on, Mrs.
Percival and I will follow where you lead!' You've led me into the
depths, Lena, and I'm never going to say that to you any more. You and I
have got to remold our relations and start again."

"What has happened?" Lena asked faintly, and feeling very helpless. She
seemed suddenly to realize how very big Dick's body was, and how little
chance she stood against it. If he was inaccessible in spirit she had no
hold over him. She wished he would get angry. That would be something
concrete. She would know how to meet it.

"What has happened?" she repeated.

"Only this," Dick said. "I am going to refuse to delude myself any
longer; and it is fair to you as it is to me that you should know it. I
am going to stop telling myself that you are my ideal woman, when you
have shown me, for instance, your unwillingness to make such tender
self-sacrifice as a mother must give to a child--that you are true and
honest when you are guilty of an underhand thrust like that little squib
about Madeline--that--"

"Ah," shrieked Lena, leaping to her feet with the light beginning to
come into her eyes. "So that's what's the matter! That girl--"

"No," said Dick evenly, "that is not what cuts most. What hurts through
and through, Lena, is the knowledge that you don't even love me enough,
in spite of all my wasted passion, to keep from intriguing with another
man behind my back for the sake of a few bits of red glass."

"How--did Mr. Early--?" Lena began, but he interrupted her again.

"Did it seem such a simple thing to keep me perpetually blinded? Last
night, Lena, I paid your debt to Mr. Early. I sold my vote in the
council, along with my self-respect and my honor in the sight of others
to get back this shred of paper. Once I might have thought you sinned
ignorantly, but I know you better now. Here is that priceless scrap." He
drew it from his pocket and threw it into her lap. "Now I've swept away
all the mists! There can't be any sweet illusions between you and me,
Lena." He drew a sharp breath.

Lena's heart was beating very fast and her eyes were down. She saw
shrewdly that there was no need of argument on any of these topics. The
less she said about them the better for her. And Dick, with his hands in
his pockets, was watching her from the other side of the room. She
twisted the piece of paper in her hands. She had always a bald way of
telling herself the truth. Now she would face Dick in the same spirit.
After all, she was his wife. He couldn't get away from that.

"Well," she said, "I suppose you don't love me any more?" Her voice was
like her mother's, acid and selfish.

"Do you love me?" asked Dick.

"No!" said Lena. She saw him writhe and felt glad that she had the power
to hurt him, but he answered very gently.

"Then I still have the advantage of you, Lena. I love you, not in the
old way I once dreamed of loving--but still I love you. All this that
I've said to-night was not spoken in the heat of anger. I've known these
facts for a long time, and you have never felt any change in my manner;
but gradually I have come to see that there could never be any genuine
relations between us--you and me--so long as you thought me just a silly
dupe for you to get everything you could from, to be played on as you
pleased. We must begin again, a new way. You don't love me, you say. I
do love you, sweetheart, not for what I thought you were, but for what
you are, because you are my wife, because you need my tenderness and
help. But I'm not going to let you lead any longer. We can't even walk
side by side as some husbands and wives do." Dick seemed to hear the
voices of Ellery and Madeline by their own fireside, and he went on
hurriedly. "You needn't look at me that way, Lena, as if you were
afraid of me. I shall want you to be comfortable and happy. I shall try
to give you the things you want--things--things--things! But I have some
purposes in life, and they, not you, are to be my master-spirits."

Dick turned away and stared out of the winter window, stirred by his own
words into a strange new understanding of himself--a mere fatuous
self-believer, a man who trusted to fate not fight, to fortune not to
mastery, who had not made his standards, but let them make themselves.
And now it was come to this, that a half-hour in a room with a foolish
girl was the turning-point in his life.

He seemed strange to himself, as though he were examining a life from
the outside rather than from the inside, and fumbling at its real

He had done no wrong; but what does the march of events care whether the
failure be intentional or careless? Results follow just the same.

There flashed before his inward eye the face of his long-dead father,
white and set with some inward pain of which he did not speak. Dick
remembered that as a boy that had seemed to him a pitiful thing. Now he
saw it somewhat as the believers once saw the face of the martyr, the
visible manifestation of triumph--the success of being true to yourself
in spite of all the world.

Dick drew a long breath and dropped his boyhood without even a regret.
He knew he could accept conditions and limitations and not kick against
the pricks, but quietly, as one who is capable of being superior to
them. The bitterness, the depression of an hour, two hours, ago faded
into trifles, and the thing nearest to his consciousness was that dead
father who had had his wound and lived his life in spite of it; nearer,
infinitely nearer, than the living wife whom a slight noise brought to
his remembrance. He had forgotten her. She belonged now to the elements
outside his dearest life.

He turned toward Lena, waiting, silent, uncomprehending,--poor little
Lena, a woman who could never be anything more. He felt a wave of
strange new pity for her, unlike the pity he had once experienced for
her poverty of body, a sorrow, this, for what she was in herself, his
wife--poor, poor little child!

Lena sat still, picking at the bit of paper, but she looked up now,
moved in spite of herself by the exultant ring in Dick's voice, as he
strode over to her and held out both his hands.

"And so we begin again--honestly, this time. Perhaps some day you'll
come to accept my standards inwardly as well as outwardly. Perhaps
you'll even come to love me, some day, little wife."

Lena took his hands submissively. Her small tyranny, her stock of little
ambitions had slipped from her and she shivered as though she was
stripped and cold; but behind there was a kind of delight in this new
Dick, with authoritative eyes into which she stared, wondering still,
with trepidation, what he was going to make of her life.



Norris, as he left Percival's house, had a glimpse of Lena coming down
the hall, wonderful in her shimmering evening gown, brave in jewels. She
dazzled him, though he despised his eyes for admiring her and told
himself that she was tinsel.

He bowed in response to her curt nod, well aware that she thought him
too unimportant to merit her courtesy, while she resented her husband's
inexplicable regard for him. He went out into a cold winter drizzle and
turned his face toward home and Madeline, those new and thrilling
possessions. For the moment, however, there was no exhilaration in his
heart, rather a depressed questioning whether, after all, everything
beautiful was a sham. Was the daily grind a mechanical millwheel? Dick
and Dick's marriage, were they but samples of the way life deals with
hope? A pang stabbed through him as his own marriage rose and stood
beside Dick's in his mind. It meant so much to him; yet only a few
months before his friend had been bubbling with an exultation more
open-voiced than his own.

There are not only great Sloughs of Despond waiting here and there for
the pilgrim, but there are in almost every day little gutters of despond
that must be jumped if one does not wish cold and soiled feet; so here
his healthy mind cried out against morbid thoughts and he reviled
himself for companioning the thing he held sacred with the thing he had
always felt foredoomed to failure. He told himself that middle-age was
not a dead level of hopes grown gray and withered, but rather a
heightening of the contrasts between success and failure. A word of Mr.
Elton's spoken long ago, flashed back to him: "Don't build your attics
before you've finished your cellars." That, after all, was a test. If
one could but get a good solid foundation under hope, one might trust it
to lift its pinnacle as far toward Heaven as the ethereal upper air.
Alas for Dick!

Then, though he still loved his one-time hero, Ellery put Dick from his
mind. His feet quickened and his heart began to beat joyously again. He
ran up his steps, delighting in the commonplace performance of putting a
latch-key into a lock. The cold and drizzle were shut outside, and
Madeline waited in the warmth and light of the hall to insist on helping
him off with his overcoat, a task so absurdly difficult that when it was
finished they laughed and kissed each other in mutual delight at their
own foolishness.

Then Madeline took his hand and drew him into the living-room, where the
light was low and shaded, but blazing logs painted even far-shadowed
corners with warmth, and pranked the girl's white dress into glowing
pink, while the fire hummed and crackled its own triumph:

    "I consumed the deep green forest with all its songs,
    And all the songs of the forest now sing aloud in me."

Ellery stood with his arm around his wife's waist and looked about with
a quizzical expression that made her ask,

"What are you thinking?"

"I was remembering."

"And pray what business have you, sir, to live in anything but the

"Perhaps I get more from to-day because I don't forget yesterday. When I
first came to St. Etienne, sweetheart, Dick took me to his home. You
know, with your mere mind, but you can not appreciate, how unrelated my
life had been. You can't imagine how hungrily I looked at that restful
room and at Dick's mother. I felt as though I would give anything--my
soul--to have a home. And now, behold, I have one."

"And you had to pledge your soul to me to get it."

"True. I paid dearly," he said. "But I was wondering how it was that you
had managed to put so much atmosphere into so untried a place. It looks
to me as impossible as a miracle. Here are some new walls, and new
furniture and new curtains and new vases and new pictures. Even the
books are mostly new. I always resented new books. They are like green
fruit. A book isn't ripe until it begins to be frayed around the edges.
It would seem to me a hopeless job to make a home out of all this raw
material. Yet this room already reminds me of Mrs. Percival's library,
Madeline, and it isn't only because it is a long room with a big

"I think it is a good beginning," she answered. "Now all we have to do
is to live in it."

"You talk as though 'living' were a very easy matter," he remonstrated.
"I think it must be the hardest thing in the world, judging by the
failures. I know heaps of people who are drifting, or grubbing, or
wallowing, or stumbling, or racing, but only a handful that are living.
The thought of it made me blue all the way home."

"Dick?" Madeline asked with ready intuition.

"Yes, Dick. He voted with the combine and against the reform element in
last night's council meeting; and he did it on some one's compulsion. I
can't tell you how it has stirred and disheartened me."

"Have you seen him?"


"What did he say?"

"That he could not explain."

"Then," said his wife decisively, "it is some of Lena's doings. About
anything else--anything--he would have told you, Ellery."

"Very likely, though it is hard to see how Mrs. Percival could be mixed
up in affairs like this."

Madeline was moving about restlessly.

"Ellery," she said at last, "I feel as though you and I had to be a sort
of pair of god-parents to Dick. He is so dear, so lovable, so fine--and
so unable to go alone. You, particularly, dearest, are the stanchest
thing he has. I know just how he feels about you, for I feel so, too.
You are going to push behind him and understand him and back up all his
resolves, aren't you, even if he does half disappoint you? You aren't
going to let anything alienate you or come between your friendship and
his, are you? I know you love him, and I'm sure he needs you."

Ellery smiled down at her questioning eyes and the intoxicating appeal
of her confidence in him--Madeline's!

"I rather think I am Dick's friend for all I'm worth," he said slowly,
at last. "Even if I were tempted to disloyalty, I should be ashamed to
harbor it with your faithfulness standing before me. And I believe this
very afternoon was a kind of crisis with him--that he was gathering
himself together when I came away."

"And by your help, I dare say," added his wife.

"I hope so. I know but one thing that seems to me more worth while than
the purpose of helping Dick Percival to be what it is in him to be."

"And what is that other better thing?"

"You arrant fraud! Do you need to ask?" he said, laughing.

"Well, comfort yourself. You are to go on fulfilling your two purposes
in life--you and I together."

"I pray we may. I believe we shall," answered her husband earnestly.

"I know we shall, doubting Thomas. I'm one of the women who are strong
in unreasoning faith."

They stood silently smiling at each other for a moment.

"Shall we celebrate the beginning of home with pomp and music?" she
asked. "There's a little time before dinner. Make yourself comfortable.
Push Mrs. Percival up to the fire."

"Mrs. Percival!" Ellery exclaimed, dropping his guilty arm and looking
about in a startled manner.

"Oh, I forgot you didn't know. I've been all over the house this
afternoon, christening our things with the names of the people that gave
them to us. Doesn't it make all the wedding presents seem very friendly
and not at all new? Wouldn't you know, even if you hadn't been told,
that this particular chair was Mother Percival--it's so graceful and
comforting. Dump yourself into it, Ellery."

She pushed him down laughing.

"Ah, I begin to see that you stole your atmosphere. The things aren't so
new after all. They're old acquaintances."

"Of course they are. Isn't it jolly to have 'your loving friends' tucked
around in spirit in every nook and corner of the house, without the
nuisance of having the good people here in the body to disturb our

"I see," he meditated, then went on ungratefully: "After all, I think
I'm more taken with the privacy than with the spiritual presences,
though they can hardly be considered skeletons at the feast."

"I should think not," exclaimed Madeline indignantly. "I love them each
and all--well, with a few exceptions, Ellery. You needn't grin
sarcastically. Now there's the piano--such a piano as I have always
dreamed of but never hoped to own. If I called it a Steinway Grand, I
should know that it was an excellent instrument; but when I call it
'Vera,' it warms and delights my heart a thousand times."

Ellery rose and bowed ceremoniously to the piano.

"Vera, will you and Mrs. Norris favor me with Schubert's _Serenade_,
while I sit on Mrs. Percival?" he asked. "I am ragingly hungry, but
perhaps the _Serenade_ will keep me harmless and quiet for a little."

He sat and listened and looked into the warm deep heart of the friendly
fire. Dreams and hopes came back to him, as things once seen through a
glass darkly, but now face to face. Without turning, he was conscious of
Madeline, across the room, filling life with music.

When a small maid, as new as the books, appeared to announce dinner, he
looked up startled.

"Shall we go?" asked Madeline, rising.

"To our own private particular family communion-table," he answered,
drawing her arm through his.

      *      *      *      *      *


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