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Title: That Little Girl of Miss Eliza’s
Author: Baird, Jean K. (Jean Katherine), 1872-1918
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "That Little Girl of Miss Eliza’s" ***

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                            THAT LITTLE GIRL
                            OF MISS ELIZA’S

                        A STORY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                             JEAN K. BAIRD

                           ROCK ISLAND, ILL.
                        _Augustana Book Concern_

               _Printed in the United States of America._

                         ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS


“The poorest farming land in all the country,” someone called it. “The
best crop of stones and stumps, I ever saw,” someone else had said.
Everyone smiled and drove on, and Shintown and its people passed from
their knowledge.

“Shintown? Where in the name of goodness did they get such a name?” the
elderly gentleman in the touring car asked his companion.

“Have to use your shins to get here. It used to be that Shank’s mare was
the only one that could travel the miserable roads. They were mere
foot-paths. Even the railroads have shot clear of it. See over there.”

There was truth in the words. Shintown, which was no town at all, but a
few isolated farmhouses, looked down from its heights on one side upon
the main line of the Susquehanna Valley, five miles away. On the other
side, at a little more than half the distance, the branch of the W. N.
P. and P. wound along the edge of the river. Both roads avoided Shintown
as though it had the plague. The name was quite enough to discourage
anyone. Nature had done its best for the place, the people had done
their worst. It stood in the valley, and yet on a higher elevation than
the country adjacent, the mountain being twenty miles distant. It was as
though a broad table had been set in a wide country, with the mountain
peaks as decorous waiters standing at the outer edge.

The houses were sagging affairs. They were well enough at one time, but
were now like a good intention gone wrong. The storm had beaten upon
them for so many years that all trace of paint was gone. The chimneys
sloped as far as the law of gravity allowed. Gates hung on one hinge,
and the fences had the same angle as an old man suffering with lumbago.

The corners of the fields were weed-ridden. The farmers never had time
to plow clear to the corners and turn plumb. The soil had as many stones
as it had had twenty years before. The whole countryside was suffering
from lack of ambition. Crops were small, and food and clothes were
meager. The stock showed the same attributes. It was stunted, dwarfed,
far from its natural efficiency in burden bearing, milk-giving or

There was one place not quite like this—the old Wells place at the cross
roads. The house was neither so large, nor so rambling as the others. It
stood deep among some old purple beeches, and in summer it had yellow
roses clambering over one entire side. The color was peculiar, and
marked its occupant and owner just a little different from other people
in the community. Everyone conceded that point without a question. She
was just a little different. The house was all in shades of golden
brown; brown that suggested yellow when the sun shone. It was a color
that not a man in Shintown or a painter at the Bend or Port would have
thought of putting on a house. Who ever thought of painting a house
anything but white with green shutters or a good, serviceable drab?
Golden browns in several shades! Why, of course, the woman must be
peculiar. She did the work herself too. She arose at daylight to paint
the upper portion and she quit work when travel on the highway began.

That was another peculiarity which the countryside could not understand;
a woman who could be independent enough to choose what color she would,
in defiance of all set laws, and yet afraid to let folks see her
climbing a ladder to the second story.

If peculiar means being different, Eliza Wells was that. She was thirty,
and never blushed at it. She had even been known to mention her
birthdays as “I was twenty-nine yesterday. How time does fly!” And she
said it after the manner of one who might have said, “To-morrow I set
the old Plymouth Rock on a settin’ of Dominick eggs.”

But the country folk were kind enough and overlooked her not being as
themselves. There was a knowing smile now and then, a sage nodding of
the head. Now and then someone went as far as to say, “That’s Liza’s
way. She never did act like other folks.”

Eliza knew she was peculiar and tried her best to be like those about
her. She had never known any other kind of people; for she had been born
and bred in the little place. But do as she could, her own self would
break loose every now and then. In spite of her effort to be like other
people, there were times when she could be nothing but her own unusual,
individual self.

It was not that she admired the ways of life of the people about her.
Had she done so, it might have been easier to have become like them. But
she argued in this fashion: if all these hundred souls lived in one way
and declared that to be the right way, then surely she was wrong, and
her ideas had all gone awry somewhere; for one could not stand against a

The old Wells place had all the finger-marks of having a peculiar
occupant. Hollyhocks all along the walk to the milk-house, nasturtiums
climbing over a pile of rock; wistaria clinging to the trunk of a dead
tree; wild cucumber vines on a trellis shielding the wood-pile and chip
yard. In the recess of the old-fashioned front entrance were old blue
bowls filled with nasturtiums.

The old blue delft had been in the family of Eliza’s grandmother Sampson
for generations. Everybody knew it; but Eliza paraded them and seemed as
proud of them as though they had just been purchased from Griffith’s
“five and ten.” But she couldn’t fool the people of Shintown. They knew
a thing or two and they were certain that the bowls were over a hundred
years old.

On hot days, she ate on her kitchen porch, which she had enclosed with
cotton fly-net, and she stuck a bunch of pansies in a teacup and had
them beside her plate.

That was quite enough to show that she was peculiar. No one else in the
country put flowers on the table. Indeed, no one raised them. What was
the use? They weren’t good to eat.

But Eliza’s place was not a farm, else she could not have wasted so much
time on worthless things. Two acres was all she owned, and she kept half
of that in yard and flowers.

She would have had more room for garden if she would have cut down one
or more of her purple beeches, but she would not do that. When Sam
Houston suggested it to her, saying in his blunt way, “If you’d plant
less of the ‘dern foolishness,’ you’d have more room for cabbages,” she
replied, with a merry glint in her eye, “Sometimes, I think cabbages is
the worst foolishness of all.”

Sam could make no reply to that. A man couldn’t reason with a woman who
had no more sense than that.

Eliza Wells could afford to be a little different from anybody else. In
the vernacular of the country, “she was well-fixed.” This meant not that
she had millions, or even a hundred thousand, but there was money enough
out at interest to bring her in fifteen dollars each month. This, with
her garden truck and home, made her independent.

To have money in the bank was a distinguishing mark of rank. Not a soul
at Shintown except Eliza could boast so much. Sam Houston was the only
one in the countryside who had tales to tell of a father and a
grandfather who lived on interest money.

Her financial independence made Eliza’s peculiarities a little more
bearable. They were the idiosyncracies of the bloated capitalist.

Eliza drove to the Bend the first of each quarter to draw her interest
money. She wore a black silk dress and a little bonnet. How she hated
the stiff shininess of black silk. How miserably awkward she felt with
the caricature of black lace and purple pansies, which custom called a
bonnet, on her head. But she had been reared to believe that black silk
was the only proper dress for a woman, no longer young, and the days
after twenty years were always placed to the credit of age.

So she wore her black silk, although she saw nothing pretty in it. The
women of Shintown envied her the possession of such a mark of gentility
and declared that Eliza had a good bit of style for a woman of her age,
and after a fashion all their own were proud of her.

She always drove Old Prince when she went to the Bend. There was always
a little shopping before she came home. Quarter day fell on the first of
July. The sun was fairly blazing upon the stretch of dusty road which
knew no shadow of tree.

Miss Eliza was anxious to get home. Her hands were sweating in their
heavy gloves. Not a breeze was stirring. The stiff black silk was not an
easy or comfortable dress for a hot day. Yet she let Old Prince take his
time. The flies bothered him considerably, and he shied like a young
colt at every object in the road. He had not been out of the stable-yard
for a week and what energy had been left to him had been bottled up for
this trip to town.

In his youth, some years before, he had been a vicious animal which only
a man with a steady nerve and strong hand could manage. But age had made
him tractable. He went home at a steady gait with the reins hanging
loose on his back, except when Eliza shook them to dislodge an annoying

As they turned the bend of the road at Farwell, Old Prince shied
suddenly and turned the wheels deep in the ditch. Eliza steadied herself
and seized the reins. “There, old fellow, go quiet. There hain’t nothing
here to disturb you.”

Her words sounded brave enough, yet she glanced apprehensively about.
The new railroads had brought their following of tramps, and Eliza was
fearful. She peered into the clump of elder bushes which grew up along
the hillside. It was a beautiful rather than a fearful sight which met
her eyes. A big woman with great braids of yellow hair sat in the shade
of the underbrush. Eliza did not notice that her dress was exceedingly
shabby. She did notice, however, that a little child lay in her arms.
Both were sound asleep as though utterly exhausted by their travels.

They were strangers. Eliza knew that at a glance. She knew all the
residents of the valley. A small traveling bag lay beside the woman. Her
hand resting lightly upon it, as though even in sleep she would keep it
in custody.

Miss Eliza spoke to Prince who would persist in frolicking and garotting
about like a colt. The public road was not a safe sleeping place for a
woman and child. Eliza recognized her duty. Leaning forward, she touched
the woman’s hand lightly with her whip. She did this several times
before the woman’s eyes opened.

“I’ve been trying to waken you,” said Eliza. “The road is not a safe
place to sleep.”

The woman looked wonderingly about, yawned and rubbed her eyes. It was
some minutes before she could get her bearings. When her eyes fell on
the child, she smiled and nodded back at Eliza and then got upon her
feet and began to put herself to rights.

“Where are you going?” asked Eliza.

The woman hesitated, puckered her brows and at last said, “I—I bane gone
to Yameston.”

“Foreign,” said Eliza mentally. She had no idea where ‘Yameston’ was,
but it was reasonable to suppose that the woman was cutting across
country to take the flyer at the Port where it stopped to change engine
and crews.

“It’s no place for a woman to rest. Tramps are thicker than
huckleberries. Climb in and I’ll drive you and your baby part of the

The woman could not understand, but she did grasp the meaning of Miss
Eliza’s moving to the opposite side of the seat and reaching forth her
hand to help her get into the carriage.

When they were safely seated, Miss Eliza touched Old Prince with the
whip. At that instant, the oncoming flyer, as it entered the yard,
whistled like a veritable demon. The two were too much for the old
horse, who had been a thoroughbred in his time and had never known the
touch of a whip. He reared on his hind feet, and then with a mad plunge
went tearing down the road which was hemmed in on one side by the hills,
and whose outer edge lay on the rocky bluffs of the river.

Miss Eliza held to the reins until they cut into the flesh. Bracing
herself against the dash board, she kept Old Prince to the middle of the
road. Just as she felt sure that she could manage him, the rein on the
hillside snapped. The tension on the other side turned the animal toward
the edge of the bank. Eliza dropped the useless rein, seized the child
in her arms and held it close to her breast, hoping by her own body to
protect it from the fall. It was all the work of a second. She shut her
eyes even as she did this.


Eliza never could tell how long it was before she opened her eyes again.
She was conscious at first of the sun beating down upon her face.
Bewildered she opened her eyes only to close them again quickly against
the unbearable light of the sky at midday. She tried to move, but her
muscles were bound. A delicious sense of languor was again stealing over
her, when she moved her hand slightly and felt water running over it.
This aroused her again, and set her thoughts in motion. Little by little
it all came back to her; her drive, the woman and child and the run-away
horse. She knew now where she was. She need not open her eyes to see.
She was lying at the foot of the stone wall at Paddy’s Run hill. She
could hear the noise of running water. She thought of these things in a
dreamy, far-off fashion as though it were something she might have read
sometime. The child! Then she realized the awfulness of what had
happened. Had she killed them both! She did not dare think of anything
so horrible. She lay quite still, straining every nerve to listen for
some sound of life. She heard it at last. It was the most beautiful
sound she had ever heard in all her life. A low gurgly coo and then the
touch of baby fingers on her face.

“Pitty ady—det up. Pitty ady, don’t seep so long.” The laughing dimpled
face of the child looked down at her. It had escaped then. It was with a
delicious feeling of thankfulness that she closed her eyes, not to open
them again for several hours.

She was back in her own home then, lying on the old mahogany davenport
with all the neighbors for miles about bending over her. She could hear
Sam Houston holding forth in the kitchen. She listened, and there came
to her in a listless sort of way that Sam always was a brag.

“I was just settin’ out to walk down to the office,” he was saying, “and
when I came on to the road, who should I see but that old rascal of a
Prince come walking along with one shaft hanging to his heels and the
reins floppin’ down on his side. He looked as quiet as a lamb, for all
the world as though he had been put to grazin’ instead of up to some
devilment. I tell you right here, it didn’t take me long to know that
something was up. I called Jim-boy, and off we started as fast as legs
could carry us, and sure enough there the hull three of them lay—”

“Three! Three! Three of them!” The words kept running off in Eliza’s
mind. There were three—herself, the baby and—she could not remember who
the third was. Then she did remember. Like a flash all was clear. She
raised herself and was about to get up.

“There—there, Liza, you mustn’t.” Mrs. Kilgore would have forced her
back on the pillows.

“I must get up. There’s nothing at all the matter with me.” Pushing
aside the detaining hands, she stood upon her feet. For an instant she
was a little giddy, but she steadied herself. Her muscles ached as she
moved. Her black silk waist had been cut open the full length of the
sleeve and she saw that her arm was black and blue. It was badly
swollen. She could move it though, and bruises will soon heal.

“Where’s the woman—the woman who was with me?” she asked. She looked
about on the faces. Every woman in Shintown was there. Old Granny Moyer
sitting hunched up in the corner, using snuff and gloating. Mrs.
Kilgore, bustling about with liniments and medicine bottles, her face
radiant with the happiness of waiting upon the sick. From the room
beyond came the heavier tones of men’s voices. None of the women had
attempted to answer Eliza’s question. Her head was whirling so that she
forgot in an instant that she had asked it. She listened to the voices
from the parlor. Then, with all the energy of which she was capable, she
moved quickly across the room and entered what the countryside termed
‘the parlor.’ This room was one of the things which Eliza disliked. She
never said so. She never gave her thoughts tangible form even to
herself. She simply avoided the room because she never felt at ease or
comfortable when she sat within it.

There was a heavy Brussels carpet with bold design in bright colors. The
chairs had backs as stiff as a poker. They were upholstered in red plush
with ball fringe everywhere it could be stuck on. The walls were made
hideous with life-sized crayon portraits. Chenille curtains were draped
at the windows and a rope portière impeded the opening and closing of
the door. A large marble-topped table stood in the center of the room.
It was all hideous enough even if the odor of camphor and moth balls had
not been in the air. It was an awful example of clinging to customs
which are hideous.

Eliza never could sit there. She always felt irritated and fussy
whenever she put it to rights, but yet she had not reached the stage of
advancement which seeks the cause and removes it.

Bracing herself against the jamb of the door, she raised her aching,
bruised hand and pushed aside the rope drapery. The center-table with
its marble top had been removed from its accustomed place and something
else was there.

Eliza stood for a moment to look about her. Squire Stout stood by,
leaning on his cane. He was a little shriveled-up creature with snowy
hair. His lips were thin and cruel. There was the air of an autocrat, a
demagogue about him. Near him was Doctor Dullmer, whose face even now
had lost nothing of its helpful, cheery, optimistic expression. There
were other men in the group. They had all been talking; but they ceased
at the sight of Miss Eliza standing in the doorway.

“You?” exclaimed Doctor Dullmer, advancing and extending his arm for
support. “What do you mean? You should be in bed!”

“I am all right. Just bruised. That is all.”

She clung to his arm as she moved toward the little group, which
separated to make room for her as she advanced.

Then she saw why the center-table with its square marble top had been
pushed to the wall The woman lay there. Her beautiful yellow hair was
coiled about her head like a golden crown. She looked so smiling and
happy that Eliza could not feel one pang of sorrow for her. She bent
over and smoothed the stranger’s forehead.

“I wonder who she was,” she said at length.

“Don’t you know?” the question came from every man there and from the
group of women who had packed the narrow doorway. They were too fearful
and too nervous to enter.

“No, I do not,” said Eliza. “I know neither her name nor her

“Sit down,” said Doctor Dullmer brusquely, pushing forward a chair and
forcing her, none too gently, into it. She sat bolt upright and looked
at the men about her. She forgot that her arm was aching with its
bruises, and that a great cut near her temple, which the doctor had
stitched, was making her head throb and tremble like an over-pressure of
caged steam.

“But she was with you.”—“You were driving her.” “We supposed right along
that she was some of your kin.”

Eliza shook her head. “I’ll tell you how it happened so,” she began. “I
never saw her—”

“Don’t talk about it now. Better wait until to-morrow, until you are
better,” advised Doctor Dullmer.

“I must talk now. It’s better to tell about it at once so there can be
no misunderstanding. It will help me to get it off my mind.”

“Well, just as you please,” said he, but he drew a chair beside her and
watched her closely. He alone realized that she was on the point of
collapse which might come suddenly upon her. He thought only of her
physical condition. He had not estimated the power of will which is able
to put aside all physical discomfort and carry a thing through because
it is right to do so.

So Eliza sat bolt upright in the stiff chair, hideous with its red plush
upholstery, and related all that had happened the several hours before.

The men listened with a question at intervals. When the story was ended,
Miss Eliza got upon her feet.

“You’ll go to bed now,” said the doctor.

“Send everyone home but Mrs. Kilgore. I cannot rest with so many about

Mrs. Kilgore had overheard the words and was already ridding the house
of the neighbors.

“You’d better go, Granny. Your old man will want supper soon.”

“I think your baby would be crying for you, Mrs. Duden.”

“Hain’t you afraid to leave the twins alone in the house with matches
and oil about?” So by dint of suggestion, she turned them all homeward
and locked the door.

Miss Eliza went back to the davenport and, arranging the pillows, laid
down her throbbing head and closed her eyes.

Mrs. Kilgore bustled about, closing doors and drawing shades. She was as
happy as could be. She was in her element in the sick-room. She found
thorough enjoyment in officiating at the house of sorrow. She drew down
the corners of her mouth and assumed a doleful expression, but a pleased
excitement showed itself in spite of all.

“Pitty adee—pitty adee.” A few toddling steps, and the child came close
to the davenport where Eliza lay. Her baby hands rested lightly against
the bandaged head.

“Pitty adee—hurted. Me’s sorry. Me kiss ’ou an ’ou get well.” Standing
on tip-toe, she put her lips again and again against the bandage.

Miss Eliza trembled. A strange thrill went through her. She had never
known much about children. She had been the only chick and child of her
parents. She had not realized that a baby could be so sweet. A strange
joy filled her at the touch of the lips. The term ‘Pretty lady’ found a
responsive chord in her heart which vibrated. She had lived alone all
her life. No one had ever touched lips to hers. No one had ever found
her attractive or beautiful. For as many years as she could remember, no
one had ever called her ‘pretty’. She did not think whether it were true
or false. She accepted it as something new and delightful. She was a
human being, though she had always been alone, and she craved affection
just as every one of humanity does.

She drew the child close to her. It cuddled up as though it had known
only love and tenderness and feared no one. At length it crawled up on
the davenport and nestled close in her arms, with the little head on her
breast. All the while, it kept up a prattle of sympathy for the ‘pitty
adee who was hurted’ and the baby hands touched Eliza’s cheek lightly.
So both fell asleep.

The news of the accident had spread quickly enough. Telegrams had
flashed over the country and local newspapers sent reporters at once to
secure particulars. Williamsburg was the nearest city of importance.
_The Herald_ was the daily with the largest circulation. It was always
looking for a “scoop.”

When the telegrams came in telling of the accident, Morris was the only
man in the outer office. McCoy nailed him at once.

“Get to Shintown as fast as you can. Find out everything. Write a column
or two and get back before the press closes for the morning edition.”

Morris started. Until this time, he had written nothing but personals.
He was eager to advance. This looked to him like a rung in the ladder.
He would “make good” for himself and his paper. There was no passenger
train due, but he caught a fast freight and “bummed” his way to the Bend
and walked from there to Shintown.

He was admitted without question to the parlor of the old Wells place.
The men had departed, leaving only a watcher beside the dead.

The boy took out his note-book and asked questions which the man who sat
in waiting and Mrs. Kilgore eagerly answered. He looked at the woman
with her mass of yellow hair about her head like a crown. He had been
brought up inland. He knew little of that great wave of surging humanity
which yearly seek our shores in search of a home. He had seen the German
type with fair skin and yellow hair. It did not come to him that a far
northern country had these characteristics intensified.

The presses closed at midnight. He had four hours to reach the city and
have his copy ready. He fired questions rapidly, and wrote while the
answers came. Then he fairly ran down the country road to the Bend where
he caught the late flyer.

It was almost eleven when he began to make copy. Suddenly he stopped. He
had neglected to ask the sex of the child who had been made motherless
by the accident. He paused an instant. He had no time to find out. He
would use a reporter’s privilege.

The next morning’s edition of the _Herald_ came out with triple headings
on its front page.

                    Accident at Village of Shintown
                       One Killed—Two Badly Hurt
                A German Woman Who Cannot be Identified
                  Killed by Runaway Horse. Her Little
                       Son in Care of Strangers.

Then followed an incorrect account of the accident. The nationality of
the woman, her relation to the child, the sex and age of the latter were
so far removed from the truth, that people hundreds of miles away read
in eager hope, only to lay the paper aside, disappointed that this was
not she for whom they were searching.


No one came to ask concerning the strangers, and she was laid away in
the Wells burial lot, and Miss Eliza paid the bills that necessarily

Mrs. Kilgore and Dr. Dullmer, with Squire Stout standing by and looking
on like a bird of ill omen, went over every article of the attire of
woman and child in the hope of finding some means of identification.
There was a small traveling bag of fine leather. It contained the
articles necessary for a journey of several days. There was a small
drinking cup, a child’s coat, comb and brush. There were neither tickets
nor checks, nor a cent of money. This led Miss Eliza to believe that
somewhere there must have been a second purse. She went with the men
over the scene of accident and retraced every step from the time she had
first seen the woman sleeping in the shade of the bushes. But nothing
was found to help them out of the unfortunate situation. Still, they
believed that checks and tickets were somewhere. A tramp might have
picked them up, or some dishonest, careless person found and retained
possession of them. But after a careful search, all hope in that
direction was given up.

The dead woman’s clothes were ordinary. A coat-suit and shirt-waist of
cheap material, underwear with a bit of hand-made lace of the
old-fashioned kind. Her hat was cheap and rather tawdry; but everything
about her was clean and whole. All gave the appearance of her being a
self-respecting person in poor circumstances.

Two things belied this, however. The dress which the little child wore
and a second one in the traveling case were exquisite in quality and
handiwork. The little petticoats were dainty and showed expenditure both
of money and good taste. The little beauty pins which fastened the dress
were solid gold with the monogram E. L.

In the traveling case was a small box containing several quaint rings
and a brooch.

Miss Eliza knew little of jewelry. The people with whom she had been
reared had never been financially able to indulge themselves along this
line and had consequently put upon it the ban of their disapproval. Her
experience had been so limited that she knew no values. The articles
were rings and pins, and were pretty. That was as far as she gave them
thought. They had no dollar mark attached to them.

There was only one course left to her to follow. She put every article
which the child wore, the traveling case and all its contents safely
away with the few legal documents and valuables she possessed. She had
the business instinct and forethought sufficient to mark each one, and
to write a full letter of explanation as to how they came into her

“You’re taking a heap of trouble,” said Mrs. Kilgore sadly. She had been
following Miss Eliza over the house, always keeping a few steps behind
her. She put on a big, green-checked apron when she dressed in the
morning, and wore it until she prepared for bed at night. She never took
it off at other times unless she had an errand to the store or
post-office. Then she merely removed the work-marked one for that which
was fresh from the iron.

She always had a broom in her hand. She followed in the footsteps of
Eliza and brushed up after her, or stopped to pick up a thread or bit of
lint, or straightened out a misplaced book, or flicked away a bit of
dust with the tail of her apron.

This gave the impression that Mrs. Kilgore was a conscientious,
indefatigable housewife who busied herself from morning until night with
duties. It was all in appearances. Her house was a litter. Garments hung
from parlor to kitchen, from attic to cellar, at every place where a
nail might be driven in wall, beam or door.

She sighed and looked doleful and “put upon” every time she stooped to
pick up a stray bit of lint, but deep in her soul she was happy. She was
posing as an over-worked martyr and was not doing enough to tire
herself. She was getting barrels of credit for a tin cup of effort.

“You’re taking a heap of trouble,” she repeated. “It’s more than I’d

“I’m taking a little now to save a great deal for some one when I’m not
here. The time may come when the girl’s own kin may be found. I want
things to be in order so that they’ll not doubt that she’s their own.
I’m of the opinion that she belongs to folks that are something. Her
little white dress is enough to make me think that. Sometime, somebody
will be coming along to look her up.”

This was a new idea to Mrs. Kilgore. It appealed to the sentimental side
of her nature. In her mind’s eye, she pictured the child’s kin appearing
in splendor and bearing her away with them. Another element of the case
presented itself to her. She paused in her “sweeping up” and looked at
Miss Eliza. She looked at her in a new light.

“They may do a heap for you for being so good to her and burying her
mother decent and respectable in your own folks’ lot and not in the poor
field. They may do a heap for you.”

“I’m not thinking of that. I had a right to do what I did. It was the
very least I could do, and I’ve got to provide for the little girl until
some one comes for her. It was my fault that she’s dead. I hain’t
finding fault with myself for asking her to ride back with me. Any
Christian woman would have done the same; but I didn’t do right to touch
the whip to Old Prince. That’s where I was at fault; but”—pensively,
“who would have thought that an old worn-out brute like him could have
had so much ginger in him. It was my fault at not knowing and not
understanding a brute animal that I’d driven for six years. No; I’ll be
good to the child—as good as I can be. I’ve hurt her a powerful lot by
taking her mother from her. I’ll do what I can to make up for it. It
won’t be for long. Her kin will come to claim her.”

Had Eliza not felt responsible, she could have been nothing but good to
the child. Mothers of the locality fixed the age of the little girl at
about three. Others placed it as high as five. There she was dropped in
among them without a name or even a birthday. She was a well-formed,
beautiful child with brown ringlets clinging about her little plump
neck; and eyes matching in color the blue of the midsummer sky. She was
good-tempered and healthy. She smiled from the time she awoke until she
fell asleep from sheer weariness. She prattled and hummed little tunes,
only a few of the words of which she could remember. She followed Eliza
wherever the woman went, and crawled into her lap and cuddled close to
her the instant she seated herself. “Pity adee” was the only title she
knew for Miss Eliza. After a few days, the name was fixed: “Adee.” The
little girl could not be persuaded to call her foster-parent by any
other name. A child can manage to thrive and yet have no birthday; but a
name it must have. For several days Eliza referred to the stranger as
“the little girl.” This was not satisfactory.

“She must be called something. It’s simply heathenish not to have a name
of some kind. I’ll name her myself if I cannot find out what her name
is,” concluded Miss Eliza. She set about to find the real name. The
monogram E. L. on the pins was the only clue. The child might remember
something. Taking her up in her lap, Eliza began a system of

“What shall Adee call you?”

“Baby.” She smiled back at her interlocutor until the dimples came and

“A prettier name than Baby. Shall I call you Elizabeth—Beth—Bessie?” She
pronounced each name slowly, watching if it might awaken any show of
memory. But it did not. The little girl smiled the more, even while she
shook her head in negation.

“No, no—Izbeth not pitty name. Baby—‘Itta one’ pitty name.”

Eliza would not let herself become discouraged. “Little One” and “Baby”
were pet names given by some adoring fathers and mothers. Perhaps the
child had seldom heard her correct name. Guided by the letters on the
pins, Eliza repeated every name beginning with E; but it was without

“You must be called something,” she at last cried in desperation. “It
must begin with E too. Elizabeth will do as well an anything else. It’s
dignified enough for her when she’s grown up, and Beth or Bess will be
well enough for a child. I’ve just got to call her something.”

So Elizabeth she became. Beth was what Eliza called her. Adee was the
only title that the child could be induced to give to her foster-mother.

“Some one will claim her before the week passes,” Eliza had told herself
again and again. She was hopeful that it would be so. A child is a great
responsibility, and the woman had no desire to take it upon herself.
July passed and no one came. August had come with all the glory of color
and life rampant in yard and field.

Never before had flowers bloomed so luxuriantly even for Miss Eliza. The
nasturtiums were blazing with burnt orange and carmine. Petunias
flaunted their heavily laden stocks. The scarlet sages glowed from every
shaded nook. There was braggadocio in every clump and cluster as though
every flower being in flower-land was proclaiming, “See what we can do
when we try.” High carnival of bloom! Gay revelry of color! Flaunt and
brag! Flaunt and brag through all those wonderful days of August.

Eliza went from flower to flower and Beth followed. There was no need to
tell the child not to step upon them or to pluck them ruthlessly. She
picked her steps. Her fingers touched each petal caressingly. She loved
them as much as the woman herself did.

[Illustration: _With a mad plunge he went tearing down the road._]

Eliza was busy weeding. Bending over, she was patiently removing with
the aid of a kitchen fork the sprouts of chick-weeds which would creep
in among her treasures.

Beth, who had been following her closely, suddenly proved a laggard.
Missing her at last, Eliza retraced her steps to the east side of the
house where she had last seen the child. There she was down on her knees
at the edge of the pansy bed and her head bent close over them.

“Whatever are you doing, Beth? Not hurting Adee’s flowers?”

“No, indeedy. I was ust a tissin ’em. A has so pitty itta faces. A ast
me to tiss em.” There she was, putting her lips to each purple-yellow
face, and talking with them as though they were real live babies. Eliza
had nothing to say. She would have done that same thing herself when she
was a child if she had dared. She knew exactly how Beth felt.

Sam Houston had come around the corner and had been a witness to the
pretty scene. He had come over to borrow a hatchet and some nails. A
board had come off his chicken-yard and the hens had destroyed what they
could of his garden.

“Laws, Eliza!” he exclaimed. “You’ll not be able to get much from that
child. She’ll not be practical. Common sense and not sentiment is what
is needed in this world. She’ll be for settin’ out flowers an’ lettin’
cabbage go. I declare to goodness.” He was yet watching Beth kissing the
pansies. “She’ll be as big a fool as you are about posies an’ sich

“Do you really think so?” cried Eliza joyously, her face brightening up
as though she had been paid a great compliment. Sam sniffed, “I’ve come
over to get the lend of your hatchet and some nails. Those dern chickens
got out somehow. The wimmen-folks must have left the door open.”

During July, Eliza had prefaced the duties of each morning with the
reflection, “Her own kin will come for her before the week is out.”

During August, she changed her views. “’Tain’t likely they’ll come this
week. The weather is so uncertain. There might be a downpour any hour.”

But it was not until September set fairly in that the hope was fixed.
She grew fearful that they would come. Her anxious eyes followed every
strange vehicle which came down the road. She gave a sigh of relief when
it passed her door.

“We’ll have a nice winter together—Beth and me. ‘Hain’t likely that
they’ll come at winter time.”

So she satisfied her longings and kept the child with her.


The months passed. Before Eliza was aware of it, the winter had passed.
They had been strange months, filled with new experiences to the woman.
When twilight fell, Beth had always crawled up into her lap and,
snuggling close, demanded a story.

Eliza had never been fed on stories. She knew absolutely nothing about
them. She had never tried to make up any, for the demand for them had
never come.

“Tory, Adee. Tory, Adee.” There was no resisting that little appeal.
There could be no denial for the tender caressing hands, and the sweet
rose-bud mouth.

“What shall I tell about?” asked Eliza pausing for a time.

“Anyfing. F’owers what talk and tell tories; efefants, and Santa Claus
and fings like that.”

Eliza gasped for breath. Flowers were the only things she knew about.
She did her best with the material on hand. She told a story of a poppy
which was proud and haughty because its gown was gay and because it
stood high above the other flowers. In its pride it ignored the humble,
modest little violet which could barely raise its head above the sod.
But when the second morning had come, the petals of the poppy lay
scattered. Its glory was gone; but the violet yet smiled up from its
lowly place and gave color to all about it.

“I’s booful, Adee. Tell me—a more one.”

Eliza put her off. One story at bed time was quite enough. A strange
sensation of thrills had gone through her body while the story had been
growing. She had never believed herself capable of anything half so
fine. She had created something. The sensation of power was tingling
through every nerve and muscle. She did not know it; neither did the
child whose eyelids were closing in slumber; but with this experience
she had crawled from the shell of dead customs, hide-bound, worn-out
ideas and laws. There had been a real self hidden away for many years.
It had never found a way for self-expression until now.

The black silk gown had undergone renovation since the day of the
accident. A new sleeve had replaced the torn one, and the torn breadth
in the skirt had been hidden by a broad fold. It was quite as good as

The first time Eliza put it on, Beth took exception to it. The child
stood in the middle of the room at a distance from her foster-parent,
and could not be induced to come near her.

“Ug-e, ug-e dwess. Baby don’t like ug-e dwess.”

“Don’t you like Adee’s Sunday dress?” asked Eliza. The child shook her
head to and fro, and persisted in calling it “ug-e dwess”.

“Then I shall wear another,” said Eliza. She made her way upstairs and
Beth toddled after her. Going to the closet, the child began to tug and
pull at a cheap little gown of dimity. Eliza had paid a shilling a yard
for it the season before and had made it for “comfort”. But she could
not keep the artist soul from showing in it any more than she could keep
it from showing in the living room and gardens. The neck was just a
little low and the sleeves reached just to the elbow. The ground was
white with sprigs of pale pink roses scattered over it.

“Pitty dwess—pitty dwess,” Beth kept repeating. To please her, Eliza
took it down and put it on. She looked at herself in the mirror and was
better pleased with what she saw than she had been with the reflection
of the black-robed figure. While she was dressing, Beth danced about
her, exclaiming with delight at her pretty lady and the pretty dress.

So two things became fixed habits in the new household,—a story before
bedtime and the pretty dresses in place of black.

So the year passed. The Jersey cow, the chickens, the vegetables from
the summer provided for their needs. They needed little money. Wood was
supplied from the trees on Eliza’s land.

Beth needed clothes; but her dresses were yet so small that little
material was needed, and the shoes were so tiny that they cost but

Eliza made the little dresses. She went to the Bend for patterns and
material. She even bought a book of styles to see how a child should be
dressed. When she sat in the big living room with needle and thread,
Beth sat beside her sewing diligently at doll clothes, or cutting
fantastic shapes out of paper.

Beth quite fell in love with the pictures in the fashion plates and
selected the finest ones of all as Adee.

“’Is is Adee and ’is is Adee,” she would repeat again and again, laying
her finger on the representations of splendid womanhood shown on the

Eliza began to look beyond the year. She felt now that no one would ever
claim Beth. She would have the child always. She was glad of that. She
would need money to educate her. She would need more each year as the
child grew older. So she watched the pennies closely. She wore shabby
gloves all year in order to lay the money by.

“We’ll both need new clothes by summer time,” she told herself.
“There’ll not be much. We’ll get along on little.”

Indeed they needed little. The people about them had enough to keep them
warm—and no more. So Eliza and the little girl needed, for the time,
only necessities. The flowers which filled the bay windows; the great
fire-place with its burning, snapping logs; Old Jerry, the cat, who made
up the domestic hearth; Shep, the dog, who played guard to them, and the
stories at twilight were sufficient to develop the cultural, sentimental
side of life.

During the winter, few callers came. The roads were not good. Sometimes
for days the drifts would fill them. It was impossible to go out at
night, for no way was lighted. There were services of some kind each
Sunday morning; Sunday-school and prayer meeting combined. Twice a month
the supply minister came from one of the adjoining towns and held
regular services, yet in spite of being alone, these two were never

The following summer, Eliza found that she would find an unexpected
expense in her household account. The sugar box was emptied more quickly
than ever before. Sometimes, she would fill a sugar bowl after the
midday meal and would find it empty before supper time.

Yet Beth did not care for sugar. She would not touch it in her victuals,
if it were there in sufficient amount to be noticeable.

One afternoon, Eliza found Beth standing on a chair before the shelf
which bore the household supplies. Her little fists were crammed with

“What are you doing with it, Beth?” asked Eliza.

“I’se feed’n em. Ey wikes it. Tome and see.”

She made her way out the back door, crossed the yard and garden to
where, at the border of the woodland, was a slight elevation.

Eliza followed. The slopes of the hill were alive with ants hurrying to
and fro, each carrying a burden. Round about the entrance to the ant
hills, Beth had made a circle of sugar.

“Ey wike it so. Ey is so very hungry.” Eliza did not scold her. She
herself had been repressed along such lines when she was a child.
Although she had long since forgotten the experience, the sympathy and
understanding still remained with her.

Later she explained to Beth about not helping herself from the household
store. She compromised, however, by promising to fill, and place where
Beth could reach it, a small tin cup of sugar with which to feed the
ants for the day.

Two years passed in such fashion. There came a time when Beth was
undoubtedly of school age. The township school was a mile or more from
the old Wells place.

Eliza thought little of that. A mile meant little to one accustomed to
walking. She remembered something of the conditions of the school in her
own childhood. She herself had been of such a nature that she had not
been contaminated. Her presence had repudiated all that was not pure and
fine. From the standpoint of a woman, she saw the matters in a different
light. She visited the school several times. Forty children were packed
in one small room. There were classes from primary to grammar grades.
The poor little tots in the chart class sat on hard seats until their
backs ached. At recess and noon—almost all carried their dinners—they
were turned out to play without restraint, the rough and boisterous with
the gentle and timid, the vicious and unruly of older age with the
tractable little folks whose minds were as a sheet of clean paper upon
which no impression had been made.

Miss Eliza decided then that that particular school was not what she
wished for the little girl she was to train for womanhood. For some
months, she had learned all she could of new methods of teaching. For
the first time in her life, she knew that the A, B, C’s were out of date
and that children were taught after a different fashion.

The school at the Bend had grown during the last five years. A
supervisor with new ideas, and trained progressive teachers were making
the grades equal to the best in the country. Eliza had heard of the
work. Because she was interested, she had questioned and investigated.

The Bend was too far away for a child of Beth’s age to walk alone, but
Eliza was not one to give up easily.

“If the main road’s closed against me, I’ll find a foot-path or—I’ll
break a way through the underbrush,” she was accustomed to say. She did
that very thing now.

She visited the primary grades at the Bend. She sat an entire afternoon
drinking in everything she could about teaching children. When the
pupils were dismissed, she talked long with Miss Davis.

This teacher, who thought only of the help she might be to the child,
copied the work she had laid out for the month, gave a first reader and
slate to Miss Eliza, and explained how “Willie has a slate” should be
taught for the first lesson.

Eliza started in her work. At the close of each month she visited Miss
Davis and copied the teacher’s plan for the next four weeks. So the
second year of Beth’s life with Miss Eliza passed. The child learned the
numbers to twelve. She knew the stories which the first grade children
should know, and she read the reader through from cover to cover. Added
to this was a vocabulary of fifty words which she could write.

Miss Eliza was happy. The child had ability to learn. Eliza had a great
admiration for book knowledge. She had lacked so much in that line
herself. It was the unattainable to her; consequently she put great
value upon it.

Miss Davis and her corps of teachers taught Eliza more than methods in
teaching first grade work. They were fully as old as Eliza herself; but
they wore gowns which were quite up-to-date. They arranged their hair to
bring out the very best of their features.

They talked about skating and literary clubs, and calls, and afternoon
teas. One had even gone out with her pupils and coasted down hill, and
not one was shocked or even thrilled when she related it.

Eliza listened. She was not a dullard. To use the vernacular of
Shintown, “Eliza Wells was no one’s fool, in spite of her queer old
ways.” Her queer old way was loving flowers, giving artistic touch to
the dullest places.

She showed her best qualities now in listening and culling the best from
these teachers whose opportunities were broader and whose lives were
fuller than hers had been.

They found her enjoyable; for she had a quaint wit, and a refined,
gentle manner.

That night when she went home to Beth, she cuddled her close in her

“What story to-night, Adee dear?” was the first question.

“A make-believe story which is really true,” she said.

Beth gave a little sigh of satisfaction. The make-believe stories which
were true were better even than fairy stories which never can be true.
This was the story she told:

_The Wood Baby_.

Once upon a time, the angels brought from heaven a little child and
placed her in a little house in the woods and gave her a plain old
farmer and his wife as parents.

The hut in which they lived was small—only four bare walls, a door and a
window. It was night when the angel carried the child to its new home.
The child was asleep. It lay in slumber in the arms of its mother. The
neighbor folk came and looked at it, and spoke dolefully of the cold,
unpleasant world into which it had come.

The child awakened, but it did not open its eyes. It lay and listened.

“It’s only a poor bare hut with smoke-covered walls that I have to give
as a home for my baby,” the mother was saying.

“It will find only work and trouble here,” a neighbor wailed. “It’s a
hard, hard life.”

The baby heard, and being nothing but a baby and knowing nothing of the
world, believed what it heard. It grew as the days and months passed.
The time came for it to walk, but it would only creep upon the floor. It
would not raise itself on its feet to look from the window. It would not
open its eyes. It had never done so since the night that the angel had
carried it to its new home.

Years passed. The baby, now a woman in years, moved about between the
four walls which its great-grandparents had built. Yet she opened not
her eyes; she never let a ray of light enter.

“What is the use?” she told herself. “Is not the world dark and
miserable and barren? Why should I look at anything which is so
painfully homely? As to walking, why should I take the trouble? I cannot
go beyond this hut which my great-grandparents built. Creeping will do
very well.”

Then one morning something happened.——

Eliza paused in her story. She knew what effect it would have on her
listener. Beth immediately sat bolt upright with her eyes brimming with
interest and curiosity.

“What happened?” she cried. She gave a little gasp for breath, she could
wait no longer.

“Something happened,” continued Eliza. “It was a beautiful morning, but
the woman did not know it. Suddenly she heard a song of a bird at her
door. She did not know it was a bird; but the sound was sweet, alluring,
enticing. She listened an instant. Then she got upon her feet and
hurried to the door and flung it wide open.

“A wonderful sight met her eyes. A world, a glorious world with ripening
grain, exquisite coloring of flowers, soft breezes laden with the most
delicate perfume, and the song of birds everywhere.”

“And then—then what did she do?” asked Beth.

“For a time, she stood and felt sorry for herself that she had kept
herself blind for so long. Then she said, ‘But here is all this beauty
for me to enjoy—me and the little song-bird which made me open my eyes.’
Then she took the bird in her hand and held it close up to her cheek,
and went with it out into the beauty of the world, and the little bird
sang all the while.”

“O-o-h,” sighed Beth. “That is beautiful. Who was the baby the angels
brought. Who was the woman? Did you know them?”

“I was both the babe and the woman, and you the little song-bird that
called me out to see the sunshine and hear the music.”


On some of Beth’s visits to town, she had made the acquaintance of Helen
Reed, a girl of her own age and lucky enough to have five brothers and
four sisters. They were the jolliest set imaginable, all packed as close
as matches in a box. Helen’s hair was as yellow as puffed taffy. Her
eyes matched the blueness of the summer sky. It takes a large check to
clothe, feed and educate ten children. The Reed children had early
learned how to make the most of hair ribbons, and to trim over hats from
the season before. They dressed plain enough, goodness knows, but they
had an “air.”

Helen when barely seven would cock up a hat at the side, stick in a
quill, slap it on her head and have the general effect of a French
fashion plate.

She was a dear little girl who looked out for her own rights while she
remembered the rights of others, just as any little girl learns to do
when she has been reared with nine other children.

Helen and Beth fell in love with each other at first sight. The former,
living in a flat in town, found the yard and trees at the old Wells
place most delightful. Early in June when school was out, she came up to
visit Beth.

“Your trees are pretty, Beth. I think you’d feel like a queen sitting
under them.”

Beth looked at them with new eyes. She had always had them, and did not
fully appreciate them.

“Let’s play we’re queens,” cried Helen. “Under that big locust tree on
the bank, we’ll build a palace.”

“It isn’t a locust tree. They don’t grow so. It’s an oak,” said Beth.

“Locust sounds prettier, so I’ll call it that,” said Helen, who did not
know one tree from another. “It doesn’t matter what kind it is. Let’s
build a palace.”

“I don’t see how it can be done,” said Beth.

“Then I’ll show you.” She was already picking her way gingerly across
the public road. The girls were in their bare feet and the skin was yet
tender. They stepped as carefully as they could, for the bits of gravel
and sand could be cruel.

“This will be the drawing room,” cried Helen, moving quickly now that
she had gained the greensward under the trees. “Then we’ll have a wide
hall with a library on one side, a den, and right here will be the
nursery.” She had been jumping about like a cricket from one place to
another, locating the different apartments of the household.

“I’m not sure where I wish the dining-room. I’d like to have something
pretty to look at while I’m eating.”

“Have it on this side and we can look at the trees and Adee’s flowers,”
suggested Beth. She had played second in the game. She could not yet see
how Helen could build such a large and elegant affair from nothing at

“That’s just the thing,” cried Helen. “We’ll play that the yard is the
conservatory. Now, let’s put up the walls.”

“I don’t see how you can,” began Beth.

“Help me carry up these nice stones from the beach and you’ll see.”

She started down the bank, and Beth followed blindly with faith in
Helen’s power to make something from nothing. For an hour they carried
up small flat stones until they had quite a number piled together under
the trees. All the while, their tongues had kept clacking like the
shuttle of a machine.

“Now we’ll build. It’s going to be a gray stone mansion,” said Helen.

“I always did like stone houses,” said Beth. She had never seen one, but
she knew at that moment that she always had preferred them to any other.

Helen had already laid down a line of stones. “Start at this corner and
make a line over to here.” She laid a stone down to mark the corners of
a large rectangle which was to be the living room. “Right here will be
the door on to the front porch. Don’t put stones there,—here will be a
large double door into the library. We’ll leave that open.”

It took a little time to lay the stones around until the general outline
was that of the ground plan of a large house. The stones were the walls.
Open spaces were the doors and windows.

The little girls stood in the drawing room and looked about with an air
of pride. “It’s all ready now but the furnishing,” said Helen. “We must
have some dishes, too, for the china closet.”

“I have some saucers and cups without handles. I’ll get them.” She
started toward the house. Helen gave a scream of horror and clutched at
Beth’s arm.

“Look what you are doing,” she cried. “Do be careful. Come back,” and
she forcibly brought her back.

“What’s the trouble? What ever am I doing? I can’t see that I’ve done
anything wrong.”

“You’ve stepped over the walls. Who ever knew any one to leave a room by
stepping over the wall. Do be careful and go through the doors.”

“Oh, I thought the way you screamed that it was a snake—one of those
little green ones.” She obediently moved through the open space meant
for a door and went for the broken dishes.

By the time she had returned, Helen had furnished the drawing room. A
discarded wash-boiler, turned upside down, served as a piano. A shingle
resting upon two stones did very well as a music rest. Helen was down on
her knees before it, singing with all her might and thumping with her
knuckles until the tin resounded.

Beth had learned her lesson and came into the room by way of the door
rather than over the wall. She surveyed the drawing room with pride.

“Scrumptious, isn’t it?” asked Helen.

“It’s certainly kertish,” replied Beth. Kertish was a new word to Helen.

“Now what does ker-tish mean, Beth Wells? You are forever using it.”

“It means scrumptious and a whole lot more,” said Beth. “I can’t just
exactly explain. It means just what the drawing-room is now.”

“It does look rather nice,” said Helen complacently. “These chairs in
pink velvet and brocade are certainly scrumptious.”

She pointed to several billets of wood which she had stood on end to
serve as chairs. Then she seated herself cautiously upon them, for pink
velvet chairs made from a cross-cut on square timber will wobble
sometimes in spite of one.

“They certainly are ‘kertish’,” said Beth. She had made up that word
herself. It expressed all she had in her mind, and being her very own
word, she could thrust it about to fit any feeling or any condition. She
was moving about the drawing-room in a dignified fashion, arranging at
regular intervals wild roses on the heavy sod. Helen watched her.

“The green velvet carpet with pink roses is just the thing to go with
these chairs,” said Helen. “I must say that in all my travels I never
saw anything more scrumptious.”

“It is the most kertish thing I ever saw,” said Beth.

“Who are we anyhow?” asked Beth at last. “I mean who are we besides

“I am Mrs. Queen of Sheba,” said Helen, “and you can be Mrs. Princess of

So it was. Royalty had set up housekeeping under the shady trees which
covered the bank before the old Wells place.

Royalty is not domestic. Before a second day had passed, Mrs. Queen of
Sheba grew tired of the monotony of housekeeping.

“Princess of Wales, we will take a trip around the world,” she said.
“The ship is ready.” She pointed majestically to an old row boat which,
water-logged and unseaworthy, lay abandoned on the beach. “We will go on
board at once.”

“I am ready, Mrs. Queen of Sheba.”

An hour later, they were ship-wrecked and forced to wade ashore from
mid-ocean. A little accident like this did not deter them. They were on
a voyage of experience and discovery.

“While we are waiting for a ship to rescue us, let us explore the land,”
said the Queen of Sheba.

“It would be the most kertish thing we could do.”

They proceeded slowly, making their way around Great Island, which the
uninitiated might have called the big rock lying out well toward
mid-stream. They crossed Knee-Deep Gulf and came to Cant-Wada Bay where
they were forced to turn back. Along the shore, they had a horrible
experience. Helen screamed and sank down, pulling Beth with her.

“Look,” she whispered, pointing her finger to the opposite shore. “There
are cannibals. Do not let them see us, or they will roast us and eat us

Beth sank down with a shiver, clutching at Helen’s bare feet as though
to find protection in them. At length, she found courage to raise her
eyes and look where Helen pointed. “Those—those—cannibals,” she cried.
Her voice was a mixture of relief and scorn. “They’re only boys in
swimming. That big one is Jimmy—”

“They are cannibals, and that big one is the chief. Don’t let them see
us. Let us creep softly away.” They crept. It was a horrifying
experience. No one could tell what might have happened, had not a
distant sail appeared.

“A ship! A ship! We shall be saved,” cried the Queen of Sheba, kicking
up her sunburnt legs and waving her arms with delight.

“A ship! A ship! We are saved,” and Mrs. Princess of Wales indulged in
antics which are not generally practiced by people of royal blood.

“Put up a signal of distress,” said Mrs. Queen of Sheba.

“Here is a flag. Put it on the pole,” cried the Princess of Wales. She
promptly stuck her sunbonnet on the end of a stick and waved frantically
to and fro.

So while the cannibals were shrieking and performing wild antics on the
opposite shore, the Queen of Sheba and the Princess of Wales crept on
board the water-logged boat and were saved.

These were glorious days. The little girls lacked for nothing. What was
not theirs in actuality, became theirs by the gift of imagination. They
reveled in motor cars, airships, mansions and pink velvet furniture.
They were billionaires, with all the possessions and none of the trouble
of taking care of them.

They were happy together for several weeks. Then Helen invited Beth to
her birthday party, and Beth was heart-broken. Even Adee could not
comfort her for a time.


“Helen Reed was born on the tenth of July. When’s my birthday, Adee?”

Eliza had never foreseen such a question. She could not reply at first.

“When was I born, Adee?”

Eliza was not one given to evasion. To her there could be but aye or

“I do not know,” she replied.

“Why do you not know, Adee? Helen’s mother knows the very day that Helen
was born. I think you would remember about me.”

“But, Beth dearest, you were not a tiny baby when you were sent to me. I
do not know how old you were. I think almost two years old. No one told
me about your birthday.”

“They kept me in heaven longer than most babies, then,” said Beth
sententiously. “Most babies are just a minute old when they are sent
down on earth. The angels must have liked me very much. Don’t you think
so, Adee?”

“I am sure they did,” Eliza assured her. This comforted Beth somewhat.
It is nice to feel that the angels feel pleasure in one’s society. Yet
it had its disadvantages too. One could not be quite sure of one’s
birthday; and thereby one was short of presents and festivities of
various kinds.

“I should think, Adee, that you would have asked them,” she said after
some time. Eliza had let her thoughts go back to her household duties
and, some time having elapsed between this question and the remarks
which had preceded it, she had forgotten the subject of conversation.

“Asked what—of whom?”

“My birthday—of the angels when they brought me.”

“You were not brought directly to me. I am not your real mother.”

“Not my real one?” Beth dropped her play-things and came close to Eliza
and leaned against her knee. There was surprise, consternation, pathos
in her face and voice, as she leaned her head against Adee’s arm.

“Not my real one? I don’t see any different, Adee. You’re just like
Helen’s mother, only you’re a good deal nicer. She’s a real mother, why
hain’t you?”

“I mean, you are not my child by birth.”

“Wasn’t I born your little girl?”

“No,” said Adee. “When you were born you did not belong to me.”

There was nothing more to be said. Beth was quiet—too quiet, Eliza
thought, and turned to look at the child. Beth’s lips were quivering and
trembling, but she was pressing them hard so as to make no outcry. The
tears were very near the surface, but Beth would not let them fall. One
glance at the brave little face, and Eliza turned and, throwing her arm
about here impulsively, hugged her tight to her bosom.

“What is it, Beth?”

“I want to be some one’s born child,” she said. “I want to be your born

Eliza hesitated. What was conventionality in comparison to the little
girl’s peace of mind? She would put aside her own sense of the fitness
of some things and make the child happy. “You may be my born child,
then,” she said. “You may be born in my love, in my heart. You may be my
own little girl, exactly as Helen is her mother’s little girl. Will that
please you?”

“Yes, now what about my birthday?” asked Beth. “Every one of the Reeds
have birthdays, and they are always talking about pulling ears and what
presents they got. They don’t have their birthdays all the same time.
They’ve scattered them about so that one comes after each pay-day.”

“Not a bad idea”, said Eliza, “especially when there is a birthday with
candles. You may have a birthday, too, just like the other girls. You
came to my house the first day of July. We’ll celebrate that; so far as
you and I are concerned that day is correct.”

Beth gave a sigh of satisfaction. That was the only trouble she had had
in her life. It was nice that it was disposed of so satisfactorily.

“We’ll have a cake too, Adee, with candles. How many candles?”

“Seven,” replied Eliza promptly.

Beth had come to the years when a child questions and begins to reach
out for the reason of things. She was not at all stupid. She was quick
to see how people conducted themselves; how they spoke and dressed. She
was always attracted toward the refined and gentle. Eliza’s heart
rejoiced at this. She believed that ‘blood would tell’, and all Beth’s
attributes and natural tendencies were proof that her people were
self-respecting gentlefolk.

Eliza had long since given up wearing black silk and little bits of
bonnets perched on her head, too small for grace or beauty. Beth had not
liked them. Beth had declared them not ‘pitty’, and Eliza had accepted
her decision. There were white dresses and cheap thin prints, but they
were artistic and suited Eliza far better than the dark, somber colors.
Perhaps it was easy to follow Beth’s wishes in regard to the matter of
clothes, for Eliza’s heart had always hungered after daintiness and
brightness. Yet she had never felt herself equal to going against the
conventions and unwritten laws of the narrow little hamlet; but with
Beth’s encouragement, it was easier to follow the dictates of her own

Eliza was really a handsome woman, but she never suspected that herself;
nor did the people of Shintown. Their taste was inclined toward buxom
figures, red cheeks, and black, curly hair. Years before, some one had
declared this the type of beauty, and the folk of Shintown had accepted
it then, and their grand-children looked upon it as a matter of course
even now. So to them Eliza Wells was not beautiful. Her broad, white
forehead with the soft, smooth chestnut hair like a band of velvet; her
big, clear, gray eyes, serene and calm until she was vexed or excited,
when they glowed like embers; her lithe, willowy form, all this meant
nothing to them.

“Eliza’s got a big mouth. Did you ever see the like of it,” had been Sam
Houston’s comment on her appearance for years, and everyone grinned then
and ever afterward whenever he repeated it. It was large, perhaps, but
it displayed beautiful teeth, and its curves were exquisite. There was
strength and sweetness both in it. Yet, in Shintown, she was not even
considered fine looking. It was merely a difference of standards, and
somehow all about her was bigger than their measure.

Beth was arriving at the age when she asked questions and had thoughts
all her own. One afternoon during the heat of summer, Eliza sat in the
living room, taking a few stitches in her weekly mending. The room had
been darkened save where she had raised the blinds sufficiently to let
the light fall on her work. Her profile was distinct against the white
draperies of the inner hangings.

Beth was taking her afternoon nap on the davenport at the end of the
room. It was the same big old affair of mahogany on which Sam Houston
had placed her when Prince had run away—five years before. It was big
and cozy and comfortable. Beth had slept soundly and long. When at last
she opened her eyes, she was dazed and just a little dull. She lay
looking at Adee’s profile against the window draperies.

What was in her mind, what shadow of a far-off dream had come to her, no
one could tell. She watched her foster-mother, and at last said, “You
don’t wear your hair like you used to, Adee. Why don’t you? It was
prettier, much prettier the other way.”

“You’re dreaming, Beth, child. I always wore it just this way—at least,
since I have grown up.”

“No, Adee, I’m sure you didn’t. You used to have fussy little curls
about your face, and you used to wear flowers—pink rosebuds and
carnations. Don’t you remember, Adee?”

Eliza was startled, but wisely did not contradict the child. “When did I
wear flowers in my hair, Little One? Was it in this room, or where? Tell
me about it.”

Beth laughed in a lazy sort of way. She was not fully awake. Was she
partly dreaming, or did some recollections of her babyhood days intrude
themselves? Was a little portion of her brain opening and bringing to
light impressions of the hours when she had been with someone else than

“You’re not one bit of a good ‘rememberer,’” she replied slowly,
dreamily. “You used to wear your hair all fussiness and have flowers in
it, stuck down over your ear so, and your dresses would be long in the
back. Don’t you remember, you’d come in my room and pick me up and hug
me and call me Baby—and something else, but I’ve forgot. What else was
it that you called me, Adee?”

“I’ve forgotten. Go on with your remembering. The other name will come
back after a while.”

Adee’s heart jumped even as she spoke. Perhaps the child could remember
enough that some trace of her people could be found. There was no joy to
Eliza in this thought. Beth gone! Her limbs grew cold and her heart felt
like ice in her breast at the mere thought of it.

“Was it a pretty room, Beth, where you slept?”

“Of course, Adee. There were curtains around the bed. It was shiny and
yellow—the bed. You hadn’t any carpets on the floor. It was pretty, all
right, but not one bit like where I sleep now. Did you give my little
bed away, Adee?”

“You must not ask impertinent questions,” said Eliza with what lightness
she could muster. “You are such a big girl now. Surely you would not
wish to sleep in a little baby-crib.”

“No, but it would be nice for my dolls,” said Beth. “If we had it ready,
we might get a live baby to put in it sometime.”

[Illustration: _“Now we’ll build a gray stone mansion,” said Helen._]

Eliza took her stitches slowly. Beth must be dreaming. Surely, the woman
in gowns with long trains and fluffy, fussy hair in which flowers were
fastened were tricks of the child’s imagination. Eliza had a picture in
her mind of the big, fair woman, shabbily dressed, whom she had found
along the roadside. This woman’s hair had been braided and coiled tight
about her head. It had been beautiful, but it was not fussy, and it was
straight as hair could be.

It was a question in Eliza’s mind, whether she should change the
subject, or whether it would be wiser to encourage the child in these
remembrances or fits of fancy, whichever they were. She concluded that
anything was better than uncertainty.

“What about the big woman with blue eyes and long braids of yellow hair?
She used to have it wrapped close to her head. There were no curls
anywhere. She wore very plain dresses—black skirts—”

“And big white aprons,” cried Beth, sitting up suddenly and clapping her
hands. Then she laughed joyously. “That was Bena, Adee. Wasn’t Bena
funny? She had such funny words.” Then suddenly a new mood came to the
child. Getting down quickly from the davenport, she crossed the room
and, standing directly in front of Eliza, asked with direct tenseness:

“Where is Bena, Adee? What has become of her? What did you ever do to
Bena? She hasn’t been here since I was a little bit of a baby. Where is

Eliza shook her head. “I do not know, Beth. I am sorry, but I do not


There were no playmates at Shintown. The nearest neighbor, Burtsch by
name, was nearly a mile away. The family consisted of the father and
mother, and Rose who was a year older than Beth was supposed to be.
There had been half a dozen children before Rose came, but they had died
when mere babies.

Mrs. Burtsch frequently referred to the loss of her children as “the
strange working of Providence.” She had a thin, high-pitched voice. She
was angular, long-limbed. She wore basques and straight, narrow skirts.
Her hair was in a knob behind and drawn so tight that the muscles of her
forehead and temple had a habitual upward tendency. As though to
maintain an even balance, she always directed her glances toward the
earth, and the lines of her mouth went downward. She was ingratiating,
self-depreciating, and presumably humble. She was always declaring that
she was just as good as Mrs. Somebody-or-other, if she was poor. It was
no disgrace to be poor. But it was in her case. Poverty was her shame,
for had she and her husband been up and about their work, making the
most of their farm in place of trying to sustain themselves with the
maxim, ‘Poverty is no disgrace,’ they would have had all the comforts
desirable and might have been able to help others. Mrs. Burtsch had a
whining voice that got upon one’s nerves after a time. She made a point
of coming in to see Eliza, and in an insinuating way found out all she
could, suggested where she dared and criticised in her exasperating way.
She brought Rose with her. While Mrs. Burtsch talked, the children
played, or presumably did so; but Rose’s ears and eyes were wide open.
She never missed a word that her elders said. She was a skinny,
owlish-looking child who could sit for hours and listen, but whose
tongue could run as long and as easily as a ball-bearing machine. She
knew every bit of gossip of the country-side, and repeated it with all
the insinuating humility which was characteristic of her mother.

Rose and Beth were cutting out paper dolls. Eliza kept at her sewing
while Mrs. Burtsch, rocking slowly, slowly, kept the conversation going.

“Beth looks stout, Miss Eliza. I’ve noticed frequently how stout she
looks. But then that hain’t no sign that she is going to live. Her own
folks might have had consumption. You can never tell. Like mother, like
child, you know. Her mother couldn’t have had a constitution to brag on
when a little thing like falling on a stone killed her quick like it
did. If I were in your place, I’d be mighty careful of her. Don’t let
her breathe no night air, and keep her housed up well.”

Eliza had long since passed this stage in child-rearing. When she
realized that Beth might be with her always, she set about at once to
learn something of bringing up a little girl, just as she had learned
all she could about feeding chickens. She had long since discovered the
futility of discussing any question with Mrs. Burtsch when the latter
had the other view of the case. It was always a harangue and nothing

“She’s healthy enough. She’s never had a cold. I’m not at all concerned
about her.”

“You never can be sure. She’s got a dreadful color in her cheeks, and
her eyes are too bright for health. I’d worry considerable about her.”

“What good would that do? It would not improve her condition even if she
was in the last stage of consumption.”

Eliza smiled to herself. Beth, the picture of health! Her bright cheeks
and dancing eyes were more the result of good, plain food, quiet, happy
home life and fresh air and sunshine. She looked all she had been
breathing in.

“You never can be sure. My William Henry was as strong a baby as you’d
see in a day’s travel, but he went off like a flash with pneumonia. You
remember, Miss Eliza?”

She did remember. She knew how a sick child had been left to drag about
in wet grass, and left lying at home, sick with rising fever, while the
mother dilly-dallied over the fields looking for a weed that the Indians
had found infallible for colds.

Mrs. Burtsch was now well launched on the subject. She discussed in
detail the taking away of each one of her children. She called their
early death “strange and mysterious workings of Providence.” It was far
from just to put the blame on Providence when each death had been the
direct result of careless, ignorant mothering, or lack of mothering.

Miss Eliza listened. She had heard the story all her life. It had been a
quarter of a century since William Henry had died. There was nothing to
do but listen. One could not have turned Mrs. Burtsch from the beaten
path of her conversation. The only thing to do was to let her go on
until she had run herself out.

Eliza listened and threw in a “yes”, an “indeed”, at the proper place;
but for the most part her attention was given to her sewing. It had
required close accounting to make her income provide for herself and
Beth. Each year the expenses would be greater; Eliza tried to lay a few
dollars of her interest money aside. She believed in being ready for
emergencies. Her trunk had, hidden in its capacious depth, all the odd
pennies which came her way.

Now, she was reducing her own wardrobe to fit Beth out. When her
shirt-waists were worn at the collar and cuffs, she took the fronts and
backs and made guimpes for Beth.

Mrs. Burtsch had ultimately spun her story to a finish. Rose and Beth
were yet intent upon cutting out ladies from a magazine. The former paid
little attention to what her mother was saying. She had heard it so
often that its charm had worn off. As far as Rose was concerned, it fell
on dull ears.

Suddenly, Mrs. Burtsch leaned forward and, seizing an end of Eliza’s
sewing, took it up critically. “What do you mean to do with it?” she
asked. “The tucks hain’t so bad, though the rest does look like it went
through the mill. It’s a sin and a shame to throw it away, ‘Liza. I do
hope you hain’t going to be wasteful. It always cuts me up to see
anything throwed away.”

Her own yard was a waste of weeds. Her household a waste in every way.
Hours and hours of each day were spent as she was spending these, at a
harangue that did no one any good, which sapped the energy and left no
gain whatever.

“I don’t think I’ll grow recklessly extravagant;” replied Eliza. “I’ve
worn this white dress for three summers. It’s out at a good many places
and I’ve put on just enough flesh to make it too tight over the hips.
I’m making it over for Beth. I can get quite a nice little dress for
her. The ruffles are just as good as new.” She held up the skirt and
looked it over. “There’s plenty of material to make her a nice little
dress. I’m relieved at the thought of it. She does need one badly
enough, and I could not see my way clear to get her something nice and

Mrs. Burtsch had been fingering the dress with a hypercritical air. At
Eliza’s words, she leaned back in her chair and sighed. That sigh spoke

“You’re very foolish, Miss Liza. Everyone is saying so and has been
saying so ever since Old Prince got away from you. I don’t like to tell
you what folks are saying. I never was no hand at carrying news; but I
feel that it’s my duty to let you know. That’s what a friend’s for, to
set us right when we go wrong. I feel it my duty to tell you.”

“Don’t put yourself out,” said Eliza, biting off a thread closely, and
with just a little touch of vindictiveness. “I’ll not treasure it up
against you.” She was not angry. Amused came nearest to express her
state of mind.

“I wouldn’t be doing right,” continued the visitor in her meek, whining,
apologetic voice. “I never set up to be much. I know I hain’t educated,
and me and John are poor, but that hain’t anything against us. Being
poor hain’t any disgrace, I’ve always tried to do my duty, as I saw it.
If I’ve failed it hain’t because I hain’t tried. It hain’t no matter to
me how I hate to do a thing or how disagreeable it is, if it’s my duty,
I do it. That’s the way I feel about telling you. I hain’t going to
shirk my duty by you living alone as you are.”

The meeker Mrs. Burtsch tried to be, the more “hain’ts” she made use of.
They were the negative expression of herself and her thoughts. Eliza
said nothing at all, but picked her stitches carefully.

“Folks think that you are clean gone crazy about keeping this little
girl. It hain’t as though you was a married woman with a man to provide
for you. Of course you’ve got money, put out on interest, but moths
corrupt and thieves might break in and steal. That means not to count
too much on what you’ve laid by.

“Now, folks say that you have no call to keep this child and treat her
just like she was of your own family. You’re bringing her up just as
fine as a lady.”

“Why not?” asked Eliza. “She’s a little lady now and I hope she’ll be a
big lady by and by. That’s what I’m raising her for.”

Rose’s shears had not missed a snip; but her sharp little eyes narrowed
down to slits and her ears pricked themselves up. This was a new subject
to her. Wasn’t Beth really Miss Eliza’s little girl after all? The
wonder of it was that she had never found out before. Her mouth fairly
watered for this morsel of news. Yet she never so much as turned her
head or lost one snip with her shears.

“Well, to my way of thinking it hain’t right. Every one I’ve spoke to
says the same thing. It hain’t right to take a tramp child and bring her
up as though she was somebody. If you’d train her so she’s be handy for
working out, folks wouldn’t have so much to say, but you’re spoiling her
so that she won’t make even a good hired girl.”

“I don’t want her to be that, Liza Burtsch. She’s just a baby yet. I
really haven’t thought much what I’d like her to be. All I think about
now is to keep her sweet and wholesome and teach her all that other
little girls learn in schools. There’s time enough to think about other
things when ten years more have gone.

“There’s something else, Livia Burtsch, that we’ll settle right here.
Beth is no tramp child and never was. You have no right to call her
that, and I will not allow it.”

“Seems to me that I’ve got a good bit of right. Folks hain’t as blind as
you’re suspicioning them, Liza Wells. Tramp child, now what else could
she be called but tramp. Maybe she’s worse for all I know. You can’t
tell me things, Liza Wells. I’ve lived too long to have the wool pulled
over my eyes. You know and I know that no decent self-respecting woman
what has a home or any folks is tramping on foot through the country
with a baby. No woman that thinks anything of herself is walking through
a strange country and taking naps under bushes by the roadside. You
can’t tell me. The child’s mother was nothing but a worthless scal—.”

“Stop! Not another word.” Eliza’s voice was low—too low for peace. It
was as clear cut and metallic as a blade of steel. Mrs. Burtsch was awed
by it. For an instant she looked at Eliza with wide-open eyes and
hanging jaw, but she soon recovered her rigidity of feature and posture.

“Well, I guess I’ll say what I see fit to say when it’s the truth.
That’s what cuts you, Eliza. It’s the truth and you know it. Tut, tut,
what’s the world coming to if folks can’t speak what’s in their mind.
Beth’s just a tramp—.”

Eliza had risen. She stood like an offended goddess before the woman.
“Not another word in my house, Livia Burtsch. Not another word. You
always have been a news-carrier, making trouble wherever you go. I’ve
borne with you a good many years without saying a word in return. I’ve
put up with it too long. Now, we’ll understand each other. If you can
come in my home and visit without carrying news, and slandering everyone
in the neighborhood, well and good; you may come and I’ll make you
welcome. If you can’t be civil and can’t keep from bothering about my
affairs—stay away.”

Mrs. Burtsch had also arisen. She was fairly trembling with offended
pride. She looked at Eliza as though she had never seen her before.
Indeed, she had never seen such an Eliza before. She could not say a
word. She made an effort, but it only ended in a clack of her tongue
against her false teeth. With what dignity she could command, she turned
and, jerking Rose up by the hand, fairly pulled her from the room.

Her tongue was loosened before she reached home. Rose listened to a
storm of abuse against Eliza and her fosterchild. She learned all the
particulars of Beth’s advent into the Wells home.

When they had gone, Eliza went back to her sewing. Her hand trembled
with nervousness. Beth came and stood back of her chair. “Adee, I think
I’ll fix your hair like you used to wear it when I was a baby.”

She loosened the smooth bands until the soft chestnut locks fell loosely
about the high, broad forehead. The roll of hair was too heavy for the
child to manage, so Adee herself coiled it loosely as Beth wished it to

The child disappeared for a moment, but soon returned with some sweet
peas in a delicate pink.

“This is the way you used to wear them, Adee.” She stuck them in with
her light, easy touch.

“Now, look how sweet you look, Adee,” she cried. Eliza viewed herself in
the big mirror and smiled. She recognized beauty when she saw it
and—well, she was growing to look like her own flowers, and her own


Mrs. Burtsch remained away all the remainder of the summer and until
late in the fall. Rose, of course, was prohibited from visiting Beth.
For her own part, Eliza was better pleased than otherwise with the
arrangement of affairs. She regretted that Beth was cut off from
intimate companionship with those of her own age, yet Rose had never
been the most desirable acquaintance. Being alone was preferable to
undesirable friends.

Eliza made a point of inviting Helen Reed from Friday until Sunday
evening. The two little girls had the best of times. There were bushels
of pop-corn and barrels of apples. When the weather was not too cold,
they spent hours playing in the attic. Eliza had given them each a play
skirt which could trail behind, and they were happy.

There was a box of antiquated hats in the attic. Beth and Helen at once
set up a millinery shop and sewed braids and trimmed hats until their
fingers were sore. They had quite a fine assortment before they had
finished. It was only too bad that they had no customers and were forced
to buy their own goods.

Winter months in the country are never propitious for visiting unless
one is able to keep a driving horse. The people at Shintown had only the
work horses. During the coldest months these were taken to town to haul
ice from the river to the big store houses, and so were unavailable. So
the folks of Shintown ploughed their own way through the snow to church
or Sunday-school which was always held in the school-house.

Eliza caught glimpses of Mrs. Burtsch and tried to speak to her, but the
offended lady would accept no overtures. She took her place opposite
Eliza and never looked in her direction. When Beth after services would
have run after Rose, Mrs. Burtsch drew her offspring away with, “Come,
Rose, this instant. Hain’t I told you that I want you to be particular
who you are friends with.”

Even at the sauer-kraut supper, which was the annual event for the last
week in November, when money was raised to pay the minister’s salary,
Mrs. Burtsch ignored her neighbors of the old Wells place. Eliza was
washing dishes and Mrs. Burtsch carrying plates heaped with pork,
sauer-kraut and mashed potatoes.

After several attempts, Eliza gave up and accepted Mrs. Burtsch’s
attitude as a matter of course. Since the day when Beth had fluffed her
hair and stuck sweet peas in it, Eliza had kept it so. The garden
flowers had all gone. There were plenty of house plants at the Wells
place, however. The evening of the supper, Beth stuck a pink geranium in
her foster-mother’s hair.

“You’ll be the very sweetest one at the party Adee,” said Beth.

She was a true prophet. Eliza’s work and the overheated room had given
her cheeks the same tint as the flower in her hair.

“Eliza Wells haint so bad looking,” said Sam Houston to some one near
him. “It’s wonderful how she does keep her looks. She’s thirty-five if
she’s a day.”

More than one pair of eyes were attracted toward her. Mrs. Kilgore
sighed when she overheard some one mention Eliza’s fine coloring. She
shook her head sadly. “I don’t like the looks of it,” she said. “Old
Sally Caldwell, her great aunt by marriage on her father’s side, had
just such high coloring and she was took off sudden as could be with
galloping consumption. You can’t tell me. Such things are inherited.
Mark my words, Eliza Wells will be took off before the year is out. It
hain’t natural. A woman ought to look a little faded by the time she’s
Eliza’s age. It’s only natural that she should.”

“Don’t let that worry you none,” laughed Mrs. Burtsch in her bitter,
cynical fashion. “Those red cheeks won’t have nothing to do with Eliza’s
going off unless she goes off with just plumb foolishness. We could all
be blooming out and looking like young colts if we wanted to spend our
money at a drug-store. Pink cheeks! Buy them at twenty-five cents a
bottle at Swain’s drug-store.”

Sleet set in before the supper was over. It was almost nine o’clock
before the social event of the season was over and the lights in the
school-house were ready to be turned off. The weather had moderated and
the sleet had become a rain. The walking was bad. Slush with pools of
water had filled the road.

Old Squire Stout had come over with his three-seated “carry-all”.

“I’ll carry you and Beth home,” he said to Eliza. “You’uns folks is
farthest out and you hain’t got no men folks with you. You’d better ride

“I should like to. Beth’s so tired that she can barely keep on her

They were ready to start when Mrs. Burtsch came out of the school-house
with her basket over her arm. “I most forgot my potato-kettle,” she
explained. “I never could get along without that.”

“Oh, is that you, Livia,” cried the squire in his way. “Better climb in
and we’ll carry you home. Always room for one more. Crowd in somewhere.
Let the youngsters sit on the floor.”

Mrs. Burtsch was about to comply when she saw that the only seat not
already crowded to its full capacity, was occupied by Eliza and the
squire’s wife. They had moved closer to make room for her.

“Not to-night, but I thank you kindly just the same, squire. I’ll keep
to Shank’s mare yet awhile. I’ll trot on alone and I’ll be sure to be in
good company.”

“Suit yourself, Livia,” said the squire, touching his whip to the flanks
of the off horse. “It’s a right fool thing to walk two miles on a night
like this when you could just as well ride. But I hain’t no way
responsible for your foolishness. You always was plumb set in your

Later events proved that Mrs. Burtsch was foolish. Sam Houston brought
the news to Eliza. Sam and his wife had the best intentions in the
world. They were “chock-full” to the throat with fine theories about how
to run a farm and anything else that came up for discussion. They meant
to put their theories into practice, but somehow they never got around
to it. He knew when sauer-kraut should be made and just how it should be
made. He got as far in working it out as to have his cabbage piled on
the back porch with bran sacks over it to keep it from freezing. His
“working germ” took a vacation there. The week following the sauer-kraut
supper, he came around to Eliza’s back door. He was careful to “stomp”
the snow from his boots before he entered the kitchen.

“Why—you, Sam?” exclaimed Eliza. “I hope nothing has happened to Mary
Jane.” Sam was not one to make early calls.

“No, the missis is all right. She just sent me over to get the lend of
your kraut-cutter. You hain’t using it, I calculate.”

“Mercy, no. I’ve got mine made long ago. The cutter’s out in the
wash-house. You’ll find it hanging up behind the door.”

“We’re a little slow somehow about making ours. ‘Pears to be so much to
do. There’s chores, and then I had some carpenter work to do on the
chicken-coop. But last night, the cold nipped the top layer of the
cabbage heads, so Mary Jane said we’d better make the kraut right off or
it would all be spoiled. She spoke to set up with Livia Burtsch

“Livia Burtsch?” exclaimed Eliza. “What’s wrong with her?”

“Got water-soaked the night of the church-supper and took ‘monia’.
They’ve had the doctor from the Bend. The parson’s been to see her.
She’s right bad. Somebody’s had to set up with her every night now for
three days. She gets out of her head.”

Sam moved on to get the sauer-kraut cutter. There was no question in
Eliza’s mind as to her duty.

“I’m going over to see Mrs. Burtsch, Beth,” she said. “I’m not sure that
I’ll be back in time for dinner. You can take some bread and milk. I
don’t want you to fuss with the fire and try to cook while I’m away.
Mrs. Burtsch is sick and may need me.”

There were more ways than one in which Mrs. Burtsch would need help.
Eliza knew that. Olivia was not one to “cook up” anything. She was
generally out of bread and never made jelly, or canned what she called
“truck”. Eliza knew how she would find matters in the Burtsch household,
so she took her biggest basket and filled it with some fresh bread, some
jelly and several bottles of home-made grape-juice.

She wasted no time in apology or explaining when she entered the Burtsch

“Well Livia, this is too bad that you’re laid up. Have you had any
breakfast yet?”

“Lem did bring me in some, but I couldn’t eat,” she said.

“A man’s cooking! It wouldn’t be expected of you. I’ll get something for

The kitchen was not the sight to please the eye of a housekeeper. Lemuel
and Rose had made a shift at cooking but had made no attempt at cleaning
up. Dishes were piled high on every available space of the table. The
floor was slippery with grease. The frying pan with bits of what had
been intended for the patient’s breakfast was on the back of the stove.
Eliza sniffed at it. Salt pork! Scarcely a tempting breakfast for an

She prepared toast with an egg and a cup of tea. The neighboring women
had been kind, but they had their families and households to see to, and
had not been able to accomplish all they wished.

When the breakfast was disposed of, Eliza cleared away the accumulation
of dishes. She pressed Rose into service. She put the house into some
semblance of order in the very few hours she had and prepared dinner for
Lemuel Burtsch. She knew what his meals must have been if he had had the
preparation of them himself. She was a slow, deliberate worker. She
could not rush about and do much in a little time. But she was not
irritating in her efforts. Her serene, calm way soothed Olivia.

Rose was of little help. She whined and cried when matters went askew.
Mrs. Burtsch worried about the child’s doing without her meals.
Altogether Rose was of little value in the house.

“Does Rose help you? Is there anything she can do?” Eliza asked Lemuel
as he sat at the dinner table. He looked about bewildered. He had never
been the head of his own house, and now with his wife sick, he was like
a canoe with the paddle gone.

“She hain’t much good. She’s not very old yet Miss Eliza, and her mother
always calculated not to make her work until she was considerable

“She’s really too much of a baby yet to help anyone. If she is no help,
I’ll take her home with me and take care of her until Olivia gets
around, or until you can find a good woman.”

“That’s powerful good, Miss Liza. Your folks was always great hands for
helping other folks out and you’re a chip from the old block. I’ll be
relieved a heap if you’ll sort of look after her.”

It was evident that the child’s mother was quite as relieved as Lemuel

It was long after the dinner hour when Eliza set forth with Rose. Mrs.
Houston had come over to “set” for a spell and promised to see to the
patient until the evening when some one else would relieve her.

Beth was watching at the window. When she saw Eliza and Rose coming, she
ran from the house and down to the gate to meet them. She flung her arms
about Adee’s neck and then hugged Rose who stood as stiff and
irresponsive as an iron post.

“I’m dreadful glad, Rose. Now, we can play. Helen and I made about a
million hats. They’re up in the attic. We’ll play millinery store.”

“Run along and play until I call you to supper. We’ll have it early.
Beth has had only a bowl of milk since breakfast. Run along; I’ll call

They needed no encouragement. Eliza went to the kitchen and began her
preparation. Meanwhile the girls had examined the hats in the attic and
commented on the grace and elegance of several. Rose’s tongue was going
clickety-clack. She talked more freely when her elders were not present.

“Mrs. Kilgore got a new hat before the church supper. She thought she
wouldn’t get it at first. It cost an awful lot,” and so on and so on,
petty details of other people’s affairs which she had heard her elders
discuss, and which was really no business of hers, or theirs either.

“Let’s play store. You be selling hats and I’ll be the Queen of Sheba
come to buy,” suggested Beth. She had learned this particular “stunt”
from Helen Reed who would have no dealings with anybody but royalty when
she played make-believe.

“I’ll have a train. This one is too short and don’t rustle.” Beth
proceeded to pin a half of a curtain to the tail of her gown. Then she
pranced forward where the gable was highest and trailed her gown after

“You’ll be the shop-keeper and I’ll be the Queen,” said Rose.

“No, I’ll be the Queen first. You’ve never played the game and you don’t
know how a queen is supposed to act. They don’t act like just common,
every-day people.” Beth paraded up and down, spreading her train and
looking back over her shoulder to see the effect. So the discussion
continued for several minutes.

“Much you know about queens. You’d better play like you was a tramp.”
There was more than childish teasing in the speaker’s voice. There was
the keen cutting desire to hurt which marked her mother’s conversation.

“I don’t know nothing about tramps. I never saw one in all my life. Oh,
ain’t this train perfectly ‘kertish’?” and she cavorted about to show
off to the best advantage.

“You don’t! You never saw one! Then you’d better look in the
looking-glass. For you’re a tramp yourself. You were found—”

Eliza had come to bring the little girls to supper. She caught the last
remark. Quick as a flash, she stepped into the room and, seizing Rose by
the arm, silenced her. She held her thus while she turned to Beth.

“Go down and eat your supper, Beth, dear. Rose and I will have a little

Sending Beth ahead, Eliza held Rose, cringing and shaking, by the arm
and led her to a bedroom on the second floor, where she took her in and
sat down with her and tried to show how contemptible and mean her act


Two serious questions concerning Beth’s rearing presented themselves to
Eliza. After her experience with Rose, she knew that her foster-child
would be forced to bear the insults and unkind remarks of every ill-bred
person who chose to express themselves.

As for Rose, Eliza felt that she had quieted her only for such time as
she was a visitor at the Wells home. The child was a sort of leader
after a fashion of her own, and what she did the half dozen children
near her age would do.

It meant simply this. Beth would be the subject of the caprice,
ill-temper or ill-breeding of the children. The best thing was to put
her with those who had kindness in their heart. She would be able to
teach her for a year more. Then she would enter her in the schools at

So far the matter was settled. The next question was one of finance.
There were several dollars monthly tuition for pupils who did not reside
in the borough. Eliza had so little to go on. She determined that she
would be ready for the expense when it came. She would not deny Beth,
but she could and would make sacrifices for herself. All winter, not a
cent was spent needlessly. She sold her butter close, and studied her
chicken manual and fed her hens so scientifically and kept the coops so
warm and comfortable that the fowls were under the impression that
spring had come and took to laying at once; this when eggs were forty
cents a dozen.

When Beth was ten years old, she entered the B grammar grade at Farwell.
So far Eliza had kept in touch with her work and had taught her all she
knew. She had a tug at her heart strings that first morning in September
when she walked into town with Beth. It seemed to her that there had
come a parting of the ways when each must walk a little more alone.

Beth was radiant with new tan shoes and stockings. Her white dress was
fresh from the iron. Eliza felt not a little conscience-stricken
whenever she bade her little girl wear this particular dress. It had
been made from the linen sheets which Eliza’s grandmother had woven and
bleached. Eliza loved family traditions. She had thought a long time
before she put her shears into these heirlooms. But she concluded at
last that the welfare and advancement of the living were to be
considered before the traditions of the past.

It was a beautiful morning when they started forth on the road to
knowledge. The way from the Wells homestead led down a gradual slope.
Here one could go by way of the public road, or take a little foot-path
which wound in and out through the woods and at length came in just at
the edge of Farwell.

Eliza and Beth had given themselves plenty of time. The foot-path was
enticing. They took it. Eliza walked slowly, pausing now and then to
look at the scene about her, or to pluck a bit of golden-rod or wild
aster. Beth was flitting from flower to flower like a butterfly. Yet in
the midst of her excitement and haste, she stepped carefully on the tips
of her shoes so that she would not scuff them. Tan shoes were not to be
had for the asking.

The slope of the hill stretched to a ravine through which ran a little
stream. In spring, it was something worth while; but the heat of summer
had dried it up, so that now there was barely enough of it to make a
gurgling sound. Once there had been fields along the stream. An apple
orchard had stretched over the hillside. The trees were still there, to
be sure, but they had degenerated until the fruit was hard, small and

Portions of an old rail fence were to be seen, and close under the one
solitary forest-oak which some generous hand had left standing, was a
small house built of square timbers. Wild ampelopsis were clambering
over it everywhere. A broad stone chimney built for an outlet to the
grate within was standing as intact as the day its rough stones were

No one had ever lived here since Eliza could remember. The windows and
doors had been boarded up for years. Nature had softened the colors and
vines and bending branches of oak had made it a beautiful place. The
Oliver place, people called it; but nothing remained of the Oliver
family but the name of this place. They had come and gone, and that was
all the Shintown folk could tell of them.

Eliza stopped and looked at the place, as she did every time she passed
it. It had always been attractive to her, even when she was a child. It
was mellowed in color; it stood aloof from all life, and suggested
sentiment and romance.

Beth had run on ahead. Seeing that Eliza was not following, she ran back
and stood beside her. There was a moment’s silence, until her mind
grasped what was holding her companion’s attention.

“Isn’t it simply lovely?” she exclaimed. “It would be simply ‘kertish’
for a play-house. When Helen brings her cousin over to spend Saturday,
I’ll bring them down here to make a play-house.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” said Eliza. “The place may be full of
snakes. Old houses like that are often dens of rattlers.”

“We could kill them, couldn’t we?” asked Beth.

“We’ll not risk it,” said Eliza. “Just stay away. Then I’ll feel sure
that you are on the safe side.”

It was barely eight o’clock when Eliza and her charge entered the school
building. Miss Harmon had charge of the B grammar grade. Providence was
being good to Beth when she put her in this woman’s charge. She was a
fine teacher. Her school-room held more than books. Children were built
up, strengthened and made happy. She believed firmly that one can be
happy only by being of some use in the world. She considered it sinful
to be depressed and blue; for such an attitude of mind showed lack of
faith in God. She had a part in every good work in town. She knew every
one and had a kindly word of greeting for each one, from drunken,
worthless Jerry Hennesey to the Judge who stood as a beacon light of
morality and high thinking.

“And Beth is to be with me this year?” she said after greeting her
visitors. “I am glad of that. We’ll have a lovely time.”

“I shall miss her,” said Eliza. “I’ve been teaching her up to this time.
Of course I had to do some studying, but I enjoyed it. I’m sorry to give
it up.”

“Why give it up? Why not continue as you have begun?”

“It would be useless. Two years more and she’ll take up Latin and
Algebra. I’ve never had them. I know nothing of Botany. I know the wild
flowers here about, but nothing about the science.”

“You know the finest part if you know the flowers,” was the reply. “What
matters it if Beth begins Latin! If you keep side by side with her,
could you not begin too?”

“I’m too old. Why, Miss Harmon, I’m thirty—”

“Don’t, please. I don’t wish to know. Years are not counted any more.
Why, you and I are babies yet with a lot of glorious things to learn.
Mind is not subject to years. It can keep working as long as there is a
body to hold it.”

This was a new idea to Eliza. Somewhere hidden in her brain had been
this same thought; but she had pushed it back from the light. It had
been so different from what every one else thought, that she had
believed it must be wrong. She listened to Miss Harmon talk along this
same line. She had little to say; but she did a great deal of thinking.

“Youth can always dwell in the heart and the mind. We can find joy in
living, spontaneity in action, and delight in study as long as we live.”

She paused and then laughed softly while a flush stole over her cheeks.
“I am going to be personal, Miss Wells, just to prove to you that I know
what I’m talking about. I’m ten years older than you—you have been
thinking all the while that I’m much younger. Do you know why? I have
never let myself think I was too old to learn anything. I’ve kept my
mind and muscles flexible and they cannot get stiff.”

“I know you are right,” said Eliza at last. “I used to think a good deal
on that line, but I never could talk of it to any one. It seemed as
though no one thought as I did. They always acted as though I was just a
little peculiar.”

“They called Galileo crazy; Plato was sneered at because he taught the
immortality of the soul when every one else believed something else. We
can’t depend upon our friends for some things. Each one of us must be a
Columbus and discover for himself the unfathomed country of his own
soul. There is no knowing how big and glorious a possession we may

The gong sounded here and the children came trooping in. Miss Eliza
arose to leave. The teacher came with her to the door.

“You will come again and see how Beth is getting along? Don’t give up
your studies. You’ll regret it if you do. Some time when I have leisure
I would like to talk with you about our Club. I know you would be
interested and would like to join.”

Eliza went her way. Already the horizon had broadened. A Columbus to her
own soul! She grasped what that might mean. No one could tell her own
possibilities, her own capabilities, until she cast aside prejudice,
servitude to customs which were accepted only because they had been in
existence for centuries, and started forth to express the sweetness and
strength of her own life.

Eliza hurried along with buoyant step. Her feet were light and her hopes
high. Her white dress had been mended, but it was the perfection of
daintiness. She was good to look at as she went her way, a graceful,
gracious, smiling woman.

“Slow up, or there’ll be a head-on collision,” cried a merry voice. “I
declare I’m always ‘flagging’ people to prevent a wreck.”

Eliza brought herself to a sudden stop. Doctor Dullmer, smiling and
gracious, stood before her.

“I beg your pardon, I didn’t see you. I was preoccupied,” she stammered.

“I believe you. Thoughts in the clouds and heels on the pavements. But
I’m not surprised. That’s the way I’m being treated these days.
Handsome, attractive young women don’t care to notice a fat, seedy old

Eliza laughed at his jest. “It doesn’t matter though how I’m treated.
I’ll not forsake my friends. To prove it, I’ll walk down to the
crossroads with you. It is unseemly that a young girl like you should be
roaming the streets alone at this hour.” His expression was quite grave
and his voice as serious as though he were diagnosing a case.

Doctor Dullmer had a thousand subjects to talk upon. He flitted like a
bee from one to another, taking out a bit of honey everywhere. When they
came to the corner of Champlain Avenue and Sixth Street, which was the
beginning of the State Road, Doctor Dullmer pointed across the river to
where the base of the mountains spread out into a broad level plain,
fully a hundred yards higher than the valley in which Farwell lay. The
view from this elevation must have been magnificent, for it extended so
that the river swept about it and one could see for miles east and west.
Every little village was in sight, and beyond lay the magnificent
heights of the Alleghanies.

“Notice those workmen over there. That means something. That means that
we are going to be society. Next summer we take to swallow-tailed coats
and low-cut vests. We are getting on. We will have a summer hotel there,
and the fashionables will come and tell us what beautiful mountains we
have. As though we didn’t know that the instant we were able to peep
from beneath our perambulator blankets to look at them.”

He turned to gaze quizzically at Eliza.

“You’ll have to do like the rest of them. You’ll be cutting off the
collar of your frock and putting a tail to your skirt. That’s the
fashionable caper for women, they tell me—. Here’s my turning-off
place.” He was gone before Eliza could speak.

She stood a moment looking at the swarm of workmen excavating. She had
heard rumors of a summer hotel being built. It was really true then!

She smiled as she recalled the doctor’s words about evening gowns and
trains. How ridiculous!

Very strange things happen. Before many years had passed, Eliza was
really trailing after her a robe of—. But this is anticipating. Why
speak of it now, when she herself never suspected all the strange
occurrences which would follow from the hotel’s bringing its influx of


Before the year had passed, Beth had learned many things which were not
in books. The first was that school and clothes cost money. She gave no
hint to Adee that she had grown wise in this respect. What was the use
of discussing matters and worrying oneself when no good could come of
it? She could keep her eyes open and look about her, to see in what way
she could help her foster-mother. She saw, for the first time, a great
deal. Adee’s shoes were patched and her gloves shiny. Having her eyes
opened, Beth saw a great deal. At the first opening of spring, she had
had new shoes and a new school-dress. The walk was hard on footwear. A
pair of shoes had lasted her but a month.

She looked at her new shoes and decided that they must last her until
the last of summer. Thereafter when she set out for school, she slipped
around to the front stoop, and when she set forth again, she had a
bundle under her arm. A month passed. Beth had come home from school.
Adee had met her at the foot of the slope. By some strange chance,
Adee’s eyes fell upon the shoes the little girl was wearing.

“It’s wonderful how your shoes are lasting. They are not even scuffed
and you have worn them five weeks. That has been about as long as a pair
lasts you.”

“Yes,” said Beth. Her face grew crimson, and she turned her eyes away
that she might not meet Adee’s glance.

“Did you bring home a library book?” asked Eliza, reaching forth for the
books under Beth’s arm. “I hope it is something worth while. We can read
it aloud.” For the first time, she saw the other bundle under Beth’s

“What is it, Beth?” she asked.

Beth burst into tears. Then with a sudden impulse she opened the bundle
and forced it into Eliza’s hands. It was nothing at all
formidable—nothing to shed tears over.

“Your old shoes! What are you crying about them for, and what ever
possessed you to carry them with you? Were they too valuable to leave at

“I’m crying because I didn’t wish you to know about it, and now you’ve
found out.” Beth dried her tears. “I saw how many shoes I was wearing
out, and that I always had new ones and you had old patched ones. I
thought I’d save. I put on these old ones when I get out of sight of the
house and just at the edge of town I put on the good ones again. I’ve
always looked nice in school, Adee, and I didn’t wear out the good shoes
on the rough road.”

“It’s all right,” said Adee. “But what did you do with your old shoes
while you were in school? I do hope you did not set them up on your desk
as a decoration.”

Beth knew her own Adee, and accepted this remark as a humorous sort of
pleasantry. She laughed, “You know I did not. I hid them under an old
log alongside the road. You’re not vexed, Adee?”

Eliza put her arm around the child and drew her close to her as they
walked up the hill. “No, I think I’m pleased. Indeed, I am quite sure I
am. I’m glad that you think of some one else. But don’t worry about your
shoes, I want you to look well in school. If you stand well in your
class, and behave yourself nicely, I shall be satisfied. Somehow, I
think this is all a little girl need do.”

“It’s all right though to save my shoes this way?”

“Yes, if you wish to. I’ll leave that to you. You may do as you please.
It will save me buying a new pair for some time.”

So Beth continued this. Her shoes lasted through the school term which
closed the last of May.

The high school at Farwell was only a district one of the third class.
There was a three years’ course, and the average age for graduation was
sixteen. Beth entered when she was twelve—or, rather when Eliza thought
she was that age. She may have been eleven or thirteen for all either of
them knew.

The freshman class was made up of pupils from three grammar grades from
different sections of the town, so that at least two-thirds of her
class-mates were strangers to Beth. She and Helen had been put in
different divisions, and Beth found herself virtually alone as far as
any friends were concerned.

Several days passed before the girl back of her spoke to her. Beth
already knew her name, having seen it on the wall slate. It was Tilly
Jones. She was a fat, fair-haired girl—the senior of Beth by several
years. She was rather stupid about books, and her movements slow and
ponderous. Her father was an ignorant, uneducated man, yet with a
certain skill about molding, so that he was able to make the sand
pattern by simply having the blue-print before him, and taking no
measurements. He was a genius in this one line. He was a valuable man in
the foundry and made “big money.” Tilly had ribbons and furbelows. Her
fat, pudgy fingers were covered with rings; she wore a bracelet and a

Friday morning, she leaned forward and asked, “What are you going to
wear this afternoon?”

“Wear? Why, this—” replied Beth.

“But it’s Friday afternoon,” was the reply. Beth could see no reason why
this day of the week would make any difference. Tilly enlightened her.
“Literary society, you know. Everybody fixed up for that. I’m going to
wear a net gown over a blue lining. It looks just like silk. You’d never
tell until you touched it. My mother paid Miss Foster six dollars to
make it. My dress cost almost twenty dollars.”

Beth had nothing to say to this. She could not have said it, had she the
words in her mouth, for the teacher had moved down the aisle and had her
eyes upon the corner from which the sound of whispering came.

At noon Tilly came up to her in the cloak-room and explained the customs
of the school. She had failed in her examinations, consequently this was
her second year in the freshman class and she knew all about the “ins”
and “outs.”

“Everybody who is anything dresses up for Friday afternoon,” she said.

“I can’t,” said Beth. “I don’t go home for dinner. I bring my lunch.”

“It’s too bad. You’ll feel so embarrassed. Your hair ribbons are old
ones, too. This is the first time I’ve worn mine. They cost fifty cents
a yard.”

She talked for some minutes, at the end of which Beth knew how much
every article she wore cost. They were interrupted by the appearance of
two other classmates. Beth knew them only by name. Carrie Laire was
slight, with dark hair and eyes. Sally Monroe was very fair. She was
slender and wiry. Her hair was drawn loosely and hung in a thick braid
down her back.

“I’m the chairman of the Program Committee,” began Sally. “Do you recite
or write poetry? I want you to be on the program for two weeks from
to-day. You can select your own work. You see, I cannot tell what each
one does best.”

“I’ll write a story,” said Beth. “A fairy-tale; will that do?”

“It would be lovely. You’re a perfect dear to help me out.” She was
writing Beth’s name in her note-book.

“Don’t you live in town?” asked Carrie Laire. Beth told her where she

“Is Miss Wells your aunt?” was the next question. Beth had never thought
of that.

“No, she isn’t,” she replied and was about to move away, but Carrie
followed her. The question had made Beth uneasy. Adee was not her aunt.
Why did she live with her then, and why did she not have a home with
brothers and sisters like other girls?

“Is your father dead?” Carrie continued. “I suppose he must be, and your
mother too, or you wouldn’t be living with some one who isn’t even your

Sally overheard the questions. She had always been in Carrie’s classes
and knew how prone that young lady was to ask impertinent questions
about matters which were really none of her business. She came to the
rescue now.

“I’m glad you can write fairy-stories, Beth. It is so hard to get anyone
to do anything of that sort. The girls will recite and sing, but essays
and stories make them nervous.” Slipping her arm within Beth’s she led
her away, ignoring alike Carrie’s presence and her impertinent

“I’ll bring my lunch with me, too,” continued Sally. “I believe you and
I could get along very well. Let us eat together. I haven’t any
particular friend. Mabel Reynolds was, but she is away. I’d dearly love
to have you for a friend.”

“I’d love to be your dearest friend. I never had a real intimate friend,
except Helen Reed, and she’s in the other division.”

In the joy of these friendly overtures, Beth forgot Carrie and her

Just before the afternoon session, Tilly came in breathless. Her fat
body was palpitating like jelly. She wore a net dress made over a lining
of blue near-silk. Her ribbons were new and crisp; her shoes and
stockings white.

“I’ve heard a piece of news,” she began the instant her eyes fell upon
the girls. “There’s a whole party planning to motor over from Point
Breeze to visit school. They’ll be here for our program. They’re swells
everyone of them. Mrs. Laurens is one of them. I’ve seen her. They’ve
been all the summer at the Point Breeze Hotel. Her room costs twenty
dollars a week. I’m glad I’m dressed up. I’m awful sorry for you, Beth.
If I were you I’d sit back so they wouldn’t see me. They may never
notice that you’re in the room. It’s a good thing that I sit in front of
you and that I could go home and dress. I’m glad I wore this sash. My
mother bought it in New York. It’s imported. She paid ten dollars for

“Perhaps the visitors will be looking at your sash and not see us,” said
Beth dryly. “Thank you for your suggestion; but I’ll not sit back away
from your view. If Mrs. Laurens and her friends do not like my looks,
they can turn their eyes some other way. It is my school and my seat and
my dress. If anything about it doesn’t suit them, they know what they
can do.”

It was rather a fiery speech for Beth. Sally squeezed her arm to give
her a sort of moral support. Harvey Lackard, the freckle-faced boy with
the crimson topknot, chuckled aloud.

“Give it to her, Beth,” he encouraged. “I never knew you had so much
spunk. You don’t strike often, but when you do, you give it to them
under the belt.”

Tilly took no offense. She had a good disposition even though the price
mark was attached to everything she said. She turned toward Harvey and
smiled blandly.

Carrie Laire was quite as excited as Tilly.

“Did you know that Mrs. Laurens is coming and Judge Creswell and Colonel
Evans? Why, but I’m all worked up over it. I have a piano solo, and I
just know I’ll break down. Do you know any of them? You may thank your
stars that you’re not on the program. Judge Creswell is awful famous.
Have you any judge in your family? What did your father do?”

Just an instant, Beth’s face flushed. She did not wish to make an enemy
of Carrie, yet she could not put up with these questions. She stiffened
her quivering lip and said lightly, “Are you merely curious, Carrie, or
do you wish the information?” Her companion turned to look at her. Beth
continued, “I’ll take a tablet and write out all the information about
me that you may ever need—age, height, weight, and everything else.”

“Why, Beth Wells, you are just as hateful as you can be. You know that I
only ask you because I’m interested in you, and then you turn on me and
say such sharp things.”

The conversation was interrupted by the gong. The girls moved slowly
toward the assembly room, and were taking their time, when Miss Hanscom
rapped sharply with her ruler. She was a rigid disciplinarian, who could
not discriminate between the magnitude of offense. She had been in the
Farwell schools for five years. Her work had been strenuous. She had
fought her own way, against heavy odds. The result was that she was hard
in manner, self-sufficient and not a little aggressive.

Pupils always spoke of how well she had taught them, but not one had
ever said that she had awakened sympathy. She was nervous now and spoke
sharply, for from her window she had seen two touring cars slow up at
the curb, and she knew that visitors were “upon them.”


Miss Hanscom was nervous when she called the school to order. Her voice
was sharp and her body rigid as steel. Her state of mind was felt all
over the room. The silence was ominous. It was not that of a healthy,
well-disciplined set of boys and girls. It was a condition impelled by

The girls sat bolt upright, not daring to glance at the door through
which the visitors were being ushered by Miss Ward, the vice-principal.
The boys twisted the tops of the ink wells or sat with their hands deep
in their pockets, trying their best to appear unconcerned, while their
eyes were anywhere but upon the visitors.

Miss Ward was a wholly different type from Miss Hanscom. She never
thought of herself or the impression that she might be making. Her
desire was to make everyone about her comfortable and happy. It follows,
of course, that one loves that person who brings out the best in one.
The instant Miss Ward entered the room there was a relaxation of tense
muscles and a sigh went over the room. Unconsciously each boy and girl
felt easier. Miss Ward made them feel at ease. They could do their best
if she were presiding in the school-room.

The guests who were being ushered in were worth notice. The dignified,
stately judge with his silver hair, and judicial, yet kindly bearing;
Colonel Evans, who bore the marks of military training in every move,
although years were heavy upon them. Mr. Laurens, a prominent engineer
and construction man who had built the finest bridges in the world, and
who was always called in for conference whenever any great engineering
feat was in prospect. He was a man in the forties, perhaps. He was
particularly fine appearing, with no thought of self in his bearing or
expression. Indeed, his whole attitude was centered upon his wife. He
was careful of her comfort, and most considerate toward her in every
way. She was a dainty woman, slender in physique, with delicate,
exquisite coloring, and wonderfully expressive eyes. She smiled and
laughed as she talked with Miss Ward, yet her face, when at rest,
expressed only sadness.

Beth’s eyes rested upon her and remained there. She fairly held her
breath. Never in her life had she seen anything so exquisite as this
woman. Her heart gave a great leap. Beth watched her while she was
talking and until she moved across the room and took her place with the
others before the school. Then the woman sat silent, and the peculiar
look of wistful sadness came to her face. Beth felt it. She did not know
what had caused the change in her own feelings; but her heart sank, and
great tears sprang to her eyes.

“She’s so sweet that it makes my heart ache,” she told herself.
“Wouldn’t it be heavenly to be her little girl. I’d love her to death.
I’d hug her until she couldn’t breathe.”

Poor little prosaic Beth had grown sentimental. She sat quite still with
her eyes upon the woman. She neither spoke nor moved. She forgot that
there was any one else in the room. As far as she was concerned, Mrs.
Laurens was the only one.

But the woman’s glance never turned in Beth’s direction. After that
sweet, fleeting glance over the room, she had let her eyes droop upon
her hands folded in her lap, and she did not raise them again. Her
husband sat near her. He talked with those about him and seemed a part
of everything, yet it was evident that his wife engrossed his thoughts,
for his tender, yet uneasy glances were turned upon her. She seemed
unconscious of this and sat quiet as though in deep thought.

The program began. There was a general stiffening of spines. Carrie
Laire leaned over to ask Beth if she didn’t think Mrs. Laurens the most
beautiful creature in the world, and if she was not sorry that she did
not have a mother who would come to visit school. Adee had come and was
sitting up in front among the visitors. Mrs. Laire was near her.

“I have Adee. She’s better than any mother I ever saw. She’s the
prettiest woman there—except Mrs. Laurens,” she said.

Tilly Jones was straightening out her hair-ribbons. She smoothed her
sash and drew it over the edge of the seat that it might not muss. Then
she adjusted her rings and bracelets. Her fussiness brought the eyes of
the visitors upon her. Tilly was not abashed. She met their glances and
turned to give a loving pat to her sash. Then she leaned forward to
speak to Beth. “Look at Mrs. Laurens’ motor-coat. Isn’t it simply
divine? It must have cost fifty dollars. Look at the heels of her shoes.
They’re the most expensive shoes that can be bought. My aunt Tilly—.”
She continued her monologue in a whisper. Beth was not listening to a
word she said. Her eyes and mind were upon the wonderful woman who sat
at the front of the room.

The fairy-stories and “make-believe” tales between Adee and Beth had
continued all the years that they were together, so that the child’s
native imagination had been well developed. This would be such a lovely
story. The lady would be the princess or queen who had had a great
sorrow. Beth thought it all out as she sat there. She would write about
it, and read it at the next meeting of the Literary Society. She was
glad that Sally Monroe had put her on the program.

The exercises were progressing nicely. Some one thumped out a solo on
the piano. There were essays on subjects which a sage would have
hesitated to handle. _The High School Daily_ was presented. Harvey
Lackard, the red-headed, freckle-faced boy, was editor-in-chief and read
the edition. There were editorials and poems. Beth sat up to listen.
This was something new and really worth while. She forgot for a time the
sweet-faced woman sitting before her. She laughed aloud when Harvey
read, “What They Remind Me Of.” There followed a list of the pupils with
some characteristic appended.

    Tilly Jones—An Animated Price List.
    Carrie Laire—The Living Question Mark.
    Sally Monroe—A Lubricating Oil Can.
    Beth Wells—The Verbal Pugilist.

Beth laughed as heartily as any at the gibe at herself. It was a little
odd. Only twice in her life had she spoken sharply. Harvey had been
present. He knew nothing of the thousand times she had maintained a
discreet, though painful, silence.

She laughed, but nevertheless she was sorry that Harvey had received
such an unpleasant impression of her.

Tilly Jones was to recite. When her name was called, there was a little
flutter of excitement about her desk, she straightened her sash and
turned her bracelet about so that the sets might show. She did this
while she walked up the aisle. All the while she watched the visitors to
see how her elegance was impressing them. They smiled. She accepted this
as a sign of admiration, and, self-confident, took her stand in the
middle of the platform. There was a moment’s silence. She twisted her
bracelet, put her hand back of her and coughed. This was followed by a
longer silence. She raised her eyes imploringly toward Miss Ward. The
teacher knew the symptoms.

“The Assyrian came down like a wolf,” repeated Miss Ward.

“The Assyrian came down like a wolf,” cried Tilly confidently. Then she
paused, coughed, and brought her hands to the front.

“The Assyrian came down like a wolf,” she said again. After this, she
straightened herself, changed her weight to her left foot, and caught
the ends of her sash. She bent her head as though trying to recall the
elusive next line. She pressed her lips and fixed her eyes vacantly upon
a picture at the farthest end of the room.

“The Assyrian came down like a wolf—like a wolf—”

“Take your seat,” said Miss Ward.

Tilly obeyed. As she passed Harvey Lackard he whispered, and every one
heard: “All price lists marked down.” Tilly smiled good-naturedly. She
had not grasped the wit of his remark and in no way thought it applied
to her.

Mrs. Laurens’s eyes followed her until she took her seat. Beth had moved
so that her face was in full view. The eyes of the woman fell upon her.
Then she leaned forward, looking intently at Beth, studying her face as
an artist might study that of the subject he would put on canvas.

A moment she sat intent, rigid, with her eyes fixed on Beth’s face. Then
turning to her husband, she laid her hand upon his arm and spoke to him
in a low tone.

He looked startled, surprised. Then he too looked at Beth with more than
passing interest. He turned to his wife and talked with her. Then he
arose and, offering his arm, led her from the room.

“Mrs. Laurens has become faint,” he said. “If you will excuse us, Miss

“Miss Hanscom, escort them to the teachers’ room,” said Miss Ward. The
younger teacher did as requested. The rest room was across the hall. Mr.
Laurens found a chair for his wife.

“You are very foolish, Ermann,” he said gently, ”do give up this
feeling. Control yourself, please do.“

“Have I not up to this? I have kept everything to myself until now. The
resemblance was startling. She looks just like you and your sisters,

“Such resemblances often appear,” he said, sitting down beside her.

“It might be—strange things happen, you know. I’ve always had a queer
feeling about coming here. I’ve had a premonition. You know how I felt.
I have not been so eager for anything for years. She’s such a dear
looking child, Joe, and just about the age that our girl is.”

“Would have been,” he corrected. “You know we decided over a year ago
that we would give up hope of finding her. We’ll think of her as dead.
That will be a better way of looking at it.”

“I try, but I can’t. Something within me will not let me think of her
but living. Who knows, Joe? This might be. We might have been led here.”

“I think it nonsense,” was the reply. “No doubt the child’s parents live
here. You saw that she was dressed well, and looked happy. She looked
like a child of well-to-do parents.”

“But Joe, you might inquire,” she pleaded. No one could resist the
entreaty of her eyes.

“I will, but make up your mind that the thing cannot be true. You know
how you feel after a disappointment. I’ll ask, but you must expect
nothing. I’ll not have you ‘fagged.’ Remember that you have me yet. You
must brace up and be cheerful for my sake.”

“I’ll try, Joe. You’ll ask?”

Miss Hanscom had gone into the class-room adjoining. Mr. Laurens went to

“Who was the little girl who failed in her recitation?” he asked.

“Tilly Jones. We always expect Tilly to do that. We never permit her
name on the program when visitors are present. We always have the same
experience with her. Your coming was unexpected.”

He waved her suggested apologies away.

“And the little girl who sits in front of her?” Walking to the swinging
doors, he pushed them slightly open. “She’s sitting there now. Who is

Miss Hanscom peeped into the room.

“That’s Elizabeth Wells, or Beth, as we call her.”

“Ah, yes. Her face attracted me. Does the family live here?”

Miss Hanscom really did not know, but she never was at a loss at giving
information. She would not say, “I have been here but a few years and do
not know all the people about here.” Not to know was to argue herself
unknown. So she straightened her shoulders and set forth impressions as
though they were facts.

“The Wells family have lived here for a century. Their farm was one of
the first cleared. It’s about two miles out of town. Eliza Wells is the
last of the family, except this little girl who is her brother’s

“If she was a sister’s child, her name would not be Wells,” thought Miss
Hanscom to herself as she justified her last remark.

Mr. Laurens moved away. “You heard, Ermann?” he said to his wife who had
joined them.

“Yes,” she said dully, as though she had lost interest in everything
about her. “Let us go to the car. I wish to go home.”

“Yes, Ermann,” he said. He escorted her, half leaning on his arm, into
the main hall. The girls in the freshman class were preparing for
dismissal and were passing into the cloak room, which was a division of
the main hallway.

Mrs. Laurens dropped her hand from her husband’s and, erect and
intensely interested, watched them. Suddenly, as Beth came near, she
threw out her arms and hugged the girl to her, kissing her on brow and

“Dear little girl, love me a little for the sake of my baby who is

“I do—I did from the first,” said Beth.

“Ermann, dearest,” remonstrated her husband, “you are making a scene.
Come, the car is waiting.”

She loosened her arms about Beth and, without another word or glance in
the direction of the cloak room, permitted her husband to escort her to
the car waiting below.


Beth did not mention this occurrence to Adee. She scarcely knew why she
did not. Perhaps for the same reason that one does not discuss sacred
things. In each one’s heart is a tenderness, a thought which is hers
alone and which she can tell no one. It was this feeling of delicacy
which restrained Beth from speaking of the matter to Adee. She was very
quiet on her way home. Adee was too, for that matter. There had been
something about Mr. Laurens which had impressed her. She had a feeling
that she had met him somewhere. His voice had thrilled her, like a voice
she had heard and forgotten. She found herself trying to recall where
she had met him. She checked herself, however. Her experience had been
limited. She had been but rarely away from her native town. It was
ridiculous to think for a moment that she had known him.

Without a word, the two walked side by side until they came to the
ravine. Here they instinctively paused. “Look at the Oliver place,”
cried Eliza. “I wonder who would be foolish enough to move in there.
Tramps, like enough.”

“Tramps.”—Beth came closer to Eliza’s side. All she knew of them was
that she had a dim remembrance that Rose Burtsch had called her a
tramp’s child and Adee had shaken Rose. A tramp must be a dreadful
creature, so Beth had reasoned. She drew instinctively closer.

As they walked up the slope, they had a better view of the log house.
The boards had been removed from the doors and windows which stood wide
open to the breeze. A narrow path had been cut through the brambles to
the public road. Smoke was coming from the chimney. The sound of some
one whistling came to the ears of Beth and Eliza. There was the sound of
an axe. As they turned the corner, they saw some one cutting the old
fence rails into proper length for wood. He paused when he saw them
coming up the slope and leaned lightly against the axe as he rested.
What a fine looking tramp he was. Fully six feet, with broad shoulders
and long, slender limbs. There were no drooping muscles about him. He
had a white brow with dark hair about it. His eyes were clear and keen.
His mouth was as big and firm and tender as Eliza’s own. He wore
trousers of khaki cloth and a soft shirt open at the throat. The sleeves
were rolled up, exposing his arms to the elbow.

“I did not know that tramps were so nice,” said Beth. “I thought that
they were something dreadful.”

“They are. You can never tell by looks. Hereafter never go or come this
way unless I am with you, and never come to the woods to pick flowers.”

“I’m sorry he’s moved in there. I had planned to camp out here next
summer. Helen Reed and Sally Monroe and I intended to camp out and do
all our own cooking.”

Eliza smiled and wondered if the other two were as ignorant of culinary
arts as Beth herself. The whistling had ceased and a song had taken its

“Just a song at twilight when the lamps are low.”

The words followed them clear up the slope.

“He’s a queer sort of tramp,” said Eliza to herself. “I should not have
believed that they knew such things.”

She might have said something about this to Beth, but at their own gate,
Jim-Boy, Sam Houston’s youngest son, met them. Jim-Boy was in his bare
feet. His apparel consisted of a pair of jean overalls and a
hickory-colored shirt which had belonged to his father. He was a bashful
lad, and braced himself against the post of the gate before he could
find courage to speak. “Say, Miss Liza, pap wants the lend of your log

“Dear me. I do not know whether I have one. It’s been years since I
thought of it.”

“Yes, you have. Pap says it’s hanging up in the old harness room. He’s
coming over to look at your stone-boat. He doesn’t know whether it’s all
right or not. He says it hain’t been used for years. If it’s all right,
he’ll come over and borrow it off you.”

All this was said as though his father’s borrowing would be a great
favor conferred upon Miss Eliza.

“The stone-boat. What does your father intend to do?”

“He’s got a job hauling stone to fix the wall at Paddy’s Run. The man
was up to see him yesterday. The wall’s bulging out. They mean to tear
some away and build it in and higher than it was.”

Miss Eliza shuddered at the mention of the wall. It was a retaining wall
built to hold the public road and railroad from the water. At this
point, the river had come so close to the mountain that the way for the
railroad had been cut out. To make this safe, a high stone wall had been

It had been here that Prince had gone over. That had been ten years
before, but even yet Miss Eliza could recall the sensation of dizziness,
of feeling herself falling, which she had felt then.

“Look for the chain. As to the stone-boat, tell your father that I’ll
sell that to him if he finds he needs it. I’ll never have use for it.”

Jim-Boy went his way. Eliza and Beth went into the house and began the
preparation of the evening meal. Beth was not a cook, but there was a
score of things she could do to help Adee. She arranged the table and
did the errands to the cellar and milk-house.

When the meal had been finished and she sat with Adee in the
living-room, she drew close and began wistfully, “I want to ask you
something, Adee. One of the girls asked me questions. That put it in my
mind. I couldn’t answer anything she asked. I don’t know whether I have
a father or mother, or if I ever had one. I do not know if they are
living or dead. She asked me if I was your niece and I could not tell
her. Am I, Adee?”

There was silence. Eliza had nothing to say. She had known that the time
would come when Beth could not understand and would ask questions. It
had come sooner than she expected.

“Will you tell me, Adee? I do not know what to say when people ask me,
and I feel ashamed that I do not know. Every little girl in school has a
father and mother and I have none. I cannot understand it.”

“Your mother is dead. She is buried near my mother, in our own family
lot. I do not know her name. I saw her but once in my life. I always
feel that I caused her death. This is how it happened.”

Then Eliza recounted the events of that dreadful day when she had asked
the mother to ride. She described Beth’s mother, her dress and manner.

“That accounts for the dreams I have—waking dreams, Adee. Do you
remember that I told you once that you did not look like you used to. It
was some one else I remembered. I can see, as plain as can be, a lady
with coils about her head, and flowers stuck in her hair. She wore
dresses trailing over the floor. I can see her bending over my crib to
kiss me. There was always a man with her.”

“But the woman who had you did not look like a woman who would dress so.
She was a respectable person, but poorly dressed and, I am afraid, not
very cultivated. Do you remember what they called you? Do any names stay
with you?”

“No, except Bena and Baby. I remember that I tried to say those words.
Bena must have been a made-up word. Surely no one was ever called so.”

“No, it seems hardly possible,” said Eliza. “We looked over the ground
everywhere where the accident occurred, but could find no purse. We
thought she might have had her checks or name somewhere in that. I have
a dim remembrance that she had such an article in her hand, but we could
find nothing. I saved everything that you or the woman wore. You had a
little baby pin with E. L. engraved on it. I called you Elizabeth for
that reason.”

“Have you them yet, Adee? Will you show them to me?” There was a
high-strung, nervous eagerness in Beth’s voice. She was trembling from
head to foot. There was a sadness because of the loss of parents she had
never known; and an eagerness to see those things which were part of her
life somewhere else.

“Would it not be better to put it off until tomorrow?” asked Eliza.

“No, please, Adee, this evening—now.” There was no denying the eager,
trembling request. Without another word, Adee arose and, taking up the
lamp, made her way upstairs.

“They are packed away in a trunk in the closet in the spare-room,” she
said. Beth ran ahead, and in the dark had pulled out the trunk on to the
middle of the floor before Eliza appeared.

There was nothing said as they knelt before it and opened the lid. Eliza
had put everything away so that moths nor air could destroy it. She
slowly removed the papers and covers and at last laid out all on the
floor before them.

“This is what your mother wore—that day.”

Beth’s hands touched the plain black skirt, the belt and waist.

“I’ll speak plainly, Beth. It is better so, now. I do not wish you to
raise any false hopes about who your parents were. I really think,
child, that you are as well off, as far as material affairs are
concerned, with me as with them. This is why I think so. Look at the
underwear. It is coarse and very poorly made. I think your mother was a
very good woman. I’m sure she was. She had a good face, and she was
gentle with you; but I am quite sure that she was poor and not well
educated. Here are the rings which were in the traveling bag. I think
they are of some value—not much. I should say ten or twelve dollars.

“I wish you would always keep these until you find your own people. It
may be years from now when I am gone. I have written the date and all
the circumstances down in this little book, so that you may have it, if
you need it.”

She began to fold the articles. She pinned each one close in its
foldings of paper as carefully as though it were a most precious thing,
and laid them away in the trunk.

[Illustration: _“Permit me, madam, to present the roses.”_]

“Some day, we’ll know everything about who you are,” she said as they
were about to leave the room. She tried to speak lightly but failed.
Putting her arm about Beth’s shoulders and drawing her close to her, she
continued, “But just now you are my own little girl, and I’m thankful
for it.”

The scene was hard for them both. It was well that an interruption came.
A knock was heard at the living-room door. Beth hurried downstairs.

“Don’t open the door until I come. It might be a tramp,” Eliza called
after her. Beth hesitated. Eliza came into the living-room with a lamp
in hand. Beth kept close to her while the door was opened.

It really was a tramp—the same one they had seen at the Oliver place.
But he was good looking, clean and smiling. He even removed his hat
while he addressed Miss Eliza.

“Good evening; I have come up to ask a favor,” he said.


“I’m to be your neighbor for the winter,” he said. “My experience as
house-keeper is limited. I set up my Lares and Penates to-day and forgot
that man must eat. Will you sell me bread and fresh eggs?”

“Lares and Penates,” both Eliza and Beth knew the meaning of those
words. Roman mythology! A strange tramp, indeed, who could quote this.

“Will you come in?” asked Eliza. Tramp or not, his clear gray eyes were
too fine and commanding to permit his being kept outside the door.

He entered and took the proffered seat before the grate in which a few
chunks of wood were smoldering.

“These wood-fires are delightful,” he said. “I do not wonder that the
age of poetry and romance have passed away. It was one with the open
grate. What mind of man can conceive of poetry being written before a
register or radiator?”

Eliza had nothing to say to this. The conversation was not just what she
expected from a tramp. She went to the kitchen and counted out the eggs
and took a loaf of fresh bread from the box. She was sorry for the man.
He looked so fine and interesting. It was to be regretted that he
allowed himself to be a wanderer. Miss Eliza felt a sense of duty. It
grieved her to see one who appeared so bright and attractive waste his
life wandering upon the earth. When she heard him sing and whistle in
the woods that afternoon, she had thought him a young man. There was the
joyousness and buoyancy of youth in his looks and voice. To-night,
however, she saw that he was not a boy, but a man fully her own age. She
prepared his basket for him, while her heart was heavy.

He arose when she re-entered the living-room and extended his hand for
the basket, at the same time laying out a dollar upon the table.

Miss Eliza was surprised. “I—I—did not think of pay,” she stammered.

“Surely,” he said. “You do not think that I came up to beg. While we are
on the subject, I’d like to settle about getting milk, eggs and bread
regularly from you. I should like plenty of them. I find they are about
the only reliable things one can find in tramping over the country. All
cooks are not like our blessed Yankee ones.”

“You intend to stay about here?”

“Until spring is fairly settled. I’ve a little place down here in the
woods. I’m sure that I shall be mighty comfortable there all winter.
When the weather permits, I suppose I’ll wander forth again to find new
experiences. When the wanderlust takes possession of one—” He waved his
hand as though the subject were not worth continuing.

“It must be a very unprofitable life,” said Eliza. “You look so well and
strong, I should think you would settle down to some useful work. You
don’t look a bit like a tramp.”

“Ah—a—h,” the word came from the stranger’s lips slowly. A peculiar
twinkle shone in his eyes, and for a moment his lips curled into a
smile. He controlled himself, however, and said, “But what a gay life it
is! One can see so much—now as to the eggs and milk.”

Miss Eliza promised that he could get them daily.

“My name is Hillis,” he said. Again the amused expression came to him.
“Even a tramp must have a name, you know.”

He was gone, leaving Miss Eliza wondering what strange circumstance made
such a man a wanderer upon the face of the earth. Thereafter he came
every morning for milk. During the week, he had fresh bread and eggs. He
always paid for them as he received them.

In personal appearance he was the most exquisite tramp that Eliza had
ever seen. She laid it down to the fact that her acquaintance in the
line had been limited. He always sang or whistled as he came up the
hill, and after a while, Eliza found herself expecting him at a regular
time in the morning and listening for the song which never failed. Such
songs as they were! She could not have believed that words and air could
be so exquisitely sweet. The tears actually came to her eyes when she
heard, for the first time, his voice ringing through the woods:

    “I hear you calling me.
    Through all the years, dear one,
    I hear you calling me.”

One afternoon as he was passing, he paused to speak to Miss Eliza, who
was plucking the last of her chrysanthemums.

“You should see them in Japan,” he said. “We cannot raise them here as
the Japanese do. There’s something lacking, either in our skill or our
soil. You should see the real Japanese flower.”

He continued in this strain for some time, during which Miss Eliza
learned about soils, and chemical compounds and fertilization. She had
lived among farmers all her life, but never realized that in the fields
lay a study for a lifetime, and that the soil needed as scientific
treatment as a child. It was to be fed, to be rested, to be worked, all
with judgment and science. All this, she learned from the tramp. She
attributed his knowledge to the fact that he had traveled widely, and
being naturally of a keen mind, had picked up information from all parts
of the globe.

During the winter, he fell into the habit of bringing magazines to Miss
Eliza. They opened a new world to her—a world of flowers and sunshine;
the world where the artist soul expresses itself in making the world
beautiful in color and form. He sometimes lingered to explain some plant
or variety of flowers of which the magazines treated. Beth would sit and
listen with open eyes. Sometimes she took part in the conversation. Once
she laughingly said in connection with some story of his, “That makes me
think of the poppy story Adee told me when I was a little girl.”

“Tell it to me,” he said, seating himself by the fireside. “I fancy Miss
Eliza would have a story worth telling.”

For some reason which she could not explain, Eliza’s face grew crimson
at something in his voice, rather than his words, and hurriedly excused
herself and went into the kitchen.

“Adee always told me stories when I was little. Because she had never
read any children’s stories, she had to make them up.”

Beth began the story of the poppy, and the “tramp” listened with
interest. When she had finished, he said simply, “Tell me more that Miss
Eliza told you.”

Beth was only too glad to do so. She began at once. Eliza was back in
the room before she had finished.

“Where did you get such fairy-tales?” asked the tramp. “I’ve read all
that ever came in book form, but I missed these.”

Eliza tapped her forehead. “Here,” she said. “Don’t you think it was a
pleasure to get them out?”

“Have you written them?” It was surprising how concise, how direct the
tramp could be when he chose.

“Write them? I never thought of such a thing. I made up the stories
simply to please Beth. I am not an author.”

“You don’t know what you are,” he said. “You have never found yourself,
Miss Eliza. No one knows how great a thing he may be. In each soul lies
an unexplored country. Be a Columbus to your own soul.”

He took up his hat and moved to the door. “I want you to write down
these stories Beth told me. Don’t bother trying to make them fine.
Scribble them. This is not a request, Miss Eliza. This is a command.”

Eliza had no time to remonstrate. The tramp was gone before she could

“I would do it, Adee.” Beth smiled whimsically to herself and added, as
she did when she was a baby, “Please, pretty lady.”

It was impossible to withstand both of these. Eliza began the very next
day when Beth was away at school. She took tablet and pencil and,
sitting down by the open grate, wrote just as she had told the stories
to Beth. There was no attempt at fine writing. Her language was simple
as a child’s. There were even quite serious mistakes in grammar and
punctuation. The hours passed quickly. Beth was home from school before
Eliza realized it. She had been happy all afternoon—happy in a different
way from what she had been all these years.

“I am expressing myself. I am finding my own soul,” she told herself.
She smiled at her own egotism, as she added, “What, if like Columbus, I
should find a great undiscovered country?”

She laid the stories away. What simple little things they were! The
story of an ambitious little seed which was unhappy because it had been
tied up in a paper all winter and then hidden in the ground. It wanted
to do something great. It did not wish to hide from life and light. But
as the days passed, it crept up from the earth into a life of whose
beauty it had no conception. It cast shade and perfume on all about it.
It burst in a hundred glorious flowers. Then it learned that its own way
would have made it a failure, that there is something in one which must
suffer and die before one can be a power.

The following afternoon she wrote again. There was little chance of
interruption, for neighbors were at a distance, and the people of
Shintown did not give themselves to bodily exertion.

One evening she handed them to the tramp when he came for his evening
supply of milk and eggs.

“Quite a package,” he said. “Is this all you can think of, or have you
more in that head of yours?”

“More! My head has turned into a veritable widow’s cruse. The instant I
take out one story, another one slips in to take its place. I do not
know where they come from. I am sure I do not try to think of them. They
just pop in.”

“Let them pop, and keep on writing,” replied the man. “I came across
several books I think you’d like, and a magazine article on the
possibilities of the so-called worked out farm.”

He laid them on the table, took up his milk-pail and went his way down
the slope. His voice rang out clear and strong:

    “Drink to me only with thine eyes,
      And I’ll not ask for wine.”

“I wonder where he found all his songs. Hundreds of them I think I’ve
heard him sing this winter.”

“He must have picked them up tramping about,” said Beth.

Moving to the table, Eliza took up the books and magazines which he had
left her. The book was one on the wild flowers and weeds of the
Alleghanies. It was handsomely illustrated and most comprehensive,
dealing with their medicinal as well as floral values.

“It’s written by Joseph Barnes Hillis,” she said. “Isn’t it strange that
it should be the same name as the tramp’s? The article in the magazine
is by the same writer. How strange! I’ll—”

She did not finish the sentence, for Sam Houston and old Squire Stout
entered without knocking—one of the irregularities of social convention
in the locality.

“Good evening, folks,” said Sam. “Eliza, I’ve come over on strange
business. It’s queer how things do happen.”

The squire took the most comfortable seat in the room and leaned back in
his chair. “It’s certainly a most curious circumstance,” he said. He
opened his coat and took from his pocket a weather-beaten, worn old
leather purse.


The squire laid the purse on the table with an air which spoke volumes.
“It certainly is mysterious how things do work out,” he said. He was
always deliberate in speech, but fortunately, he said little. His
particularly impressive method of procedure was to look wise.

Miss Eliza glanced at the purse. It was not attractive. Touched with
mildew, soiled and almost filthy, it was rather repulsive. She had
learned that Sam was not one to be questioned when he had a story to
tell. The only way was to let him go slowly and interpolate with
indifferent matters of all sorts.

“There ain’t much to tell about the finding of the purse,” he began.
Then Eliza understood. But she did not reach forward to seize what might
contain something which would reveal Beth’s identity. It came to her
that that meant losing Beth. For an instant she felt that she could not
give her up.

“We were fixing the old stone wall at Paddy’s Run,” continued Sam. “The
Morris Brothers have the contract, and Ab Morris came and asked me if
I’d hand—.”

“No use of telling all the details,” said the squire sharply. “Keep to
the point. There’s no use telling what Ab said to you or you to Ab.”

“Well, no need to cut me short. There’s plenty of time to tell details,
as you call them, and everything else that pertains to this here subject
which we have in hand. We’ve been a wantin’ to know these things for ten
years and couldn’t. Then what’s the use of gettin’ in a rush and tell
everything in a minute.”

“There’s no danger of you ever doing those two things—getting in a rush
and telling everything in a minute. You couldn’t do it, Sam.” The squire
was habitually sarcastic.

“We’ll drive slow. It may be a rough road, and we’re driving in the
dark, so to speak. We were fixing the wall, anyway. Bill Yothers, he was
knocking out the loose stone, when he stops and says to me, ‘Sam, that
looks mighty like a purse, that I’ve knocked down there. You’d better
get it.’ Well, I did. I dropped the reins and went over and picked it
up. I examined it carefully before I opened it, and—.”

Eliza had taken up the purse. No doubt it had dropped from the carriage
when Old Prince took his mad leap, and had lodged among the stones in
the wall to be hidden away for over ten years. It had been partially
protected from the weather.

Miss Eliza opened it gingerly. It almost fell to pieces as she did so.
The leather flap at the top fell from it. Within the double compartment
were pieces of paper thick with mildew. These were intact enough to show
that they once were bills. There was a little silver, and a trunk check
of brass. This was green with corrosion, so that the number had been

Without a word, Eliza took it and went to the kitchen. Beth was close at
her side. Neither could speak, but the atmosphere was fairly vibrating
with suppressed emotion. Eliza took down her scouring soap from the
shelf and began rubbing the check.

“This will do little good,” she said after a moment. “I’ll dip it in lye
and scour it with ashes.”

“Yes,” said Beth, hurrying into the wash-house and returning with the
can of lye. Eliza put the check on a saucer and covered it for an
instant with the lye. Then she rubbed it with wood ashes.

The men had grown impatient and had followed her into the kitchen. They
came to the door just as Eliza had finished her inspection. “It has
Baltimore on it,” she said. “The number is 4536. It’s very plain.”

“Little good it will do you,” said Sam. “That just shows you that it was
checked from there. It doesn’t show who sent it.”

“It may tell us a great deal,” said Eliza. Keeping the check in her
hand, she led the way back into the living room. The men followed and
seated themselves. She had been wishing that they would go. She wanted
to be alone and think of the matter. She could see that Beth was very
much excited, although she sat very quiet.

But the fire was too comfortable for Sam to leave. He had taken the most
comfortable chair in the room. He put his legs far apart, bent over so
that his elbows could rest on his knees, and his chin in turn upon the
upturned palm. He began a recital of all the incidents of the day when
Old Prince went wild, and he had first found Eliza and the child, and he
continued telling how strange it seemed that he should be the one to
find the purse.

“But there’ll nothing come of it now,” he concluded. “And to my way of
thinking, it’s just as well. The little girl has been well took care of.
Her mother’s dead, we know that. We buried her out there in the old
Wells’ lot, alongside of your own parents, Eliza. If she had a father,
no doubt he’s gone and married again and has other children. It’s just
as well not to try to hunt ’em up.”

Eliza thought so, too, for other reasons. She could not give her up. She
would be too lonely without her. She simply could not live without her.
While these thoughts were in her mind, another slipped in there too. She
was not conscious that it was there. “The tramp would leave in the
spring.” He had said that weeks before. She never called him that any
more, nor had she permitted Beth to do so.

In her own thoughts she had no name for him. He was just “he,” nothing
more. She told herself that she would miss his magazines and his help
about her flowers. She had kept up with Beth in all her studies. She had
read Latin, and worked out Algebra. Now this would be gone. There would
be nothing at all left to her, except her stories, which she had still
continued, and her club in town. But what would they mean, with Beth and
him gone?

While she thought over these matters, Sam Houston kept up his monologue.
Now and then Squire Stout flung in a sharp word, but Eliza heard nothing
which was being said.

At length the men rose to go. Sam was yet busy narrating the events that
led up to the find. The squire led him away. Eliza came to the door with
them and held a lamp high in her hand to light the way. She heard Sam
talking, as the two men walked on down the slope.

Turning back into the room, she went to where Beth sat huddled up and
took a seat close to her.

“This has disturbed us,” she said. “But it should not. I think the check
will mean nothing at all. It will make no difference to you or me. You
and I have been happy so far and we can continue to be. You will always
be my little girl.”

“I know, Adee, I know.” The tears would have fallen, had not Beth by
pure force of will kept them back. Her lips trembled so that she could
not speak. She was silent a moment, until she was able to control
herself. Then she said again, “I know, I know, Adee, that you will
always want me for your little girl; but it is dreadful to have no
people of your own.”

Eliza could not debate that. It was true, and could not be disputed. She
put her arm about Beth and drew her close. Thus they sat without saying
a word for a long, long time. The log in the grate burned out. Then
Eliza broke the silence.

“Go to bed now, Beth. I must attend to some work before I come up.”

Beth obediently arose, kissed Adee good-night and left the room. She
went to bed, but could not sleep. She could hear Adee moving about in
the room below. When it grew quiet, Beth closed her eyes. She was yet
wide awake, but she could see plainly a picture that had come to her
again and again for as long as she could remember. It was a little white
bed in which she herself lay, and a beautiful woman with flowers in her
hair and a long, soft, shimmering gown stood over her. “That is
something that I saw often before I came to Adee’s,” she told herself.
“It is so clear. Always the woman’s face slips away. I cannot see it.”

Meanwhile Eliza in the room below strengthened herself to do her duty.
She wanted to keep Beth—oh, how much she wanted her; but if she could
find out from where she came, it was only right, for the child’s sake,
to do so. If Beth had kin living, it was Eliza’s duty to do everything
to find them, even if her own heart-strings were torn to shreds in doing

After reaching this decision, she went to her writing desk and wrote to
the baggage agent of that particular road, at Baltimore. She told him
the circumstances of the check and asked him to spare no pains to find
out where it came from or where the trunk was now.

“There may be letters or clothing in the trunk which will lead us to her
people,” she told herself as she sealed the letter.

Neither she nor Beth could sleep much that night. They were two
sorry-looking individuals the following morning. They were heavy-eyed,
tired and listless. They had little to say at the breakfast table. They
had worn themselves out with lying awake and letting their minds dwell
on the matters which lay nearest their hearts.

There is an old adage that “troubles never come singly.” Better change
it to suit the new philosophy of the day, “Joys never come singly.”
Sometimes lives may move serenely on for months and months, or even
years. They are like a broad stretch of level plain. They would grow
monotonous after a time. The finest are lands interspersed with valleys
and mountains. So it is with life—here the valley of humiliation, there
the mountain of joyful exultation.

Eliza mailed her letter. She lost no time, but sent Beth off to the
post-office immediately after breakfast, lest she regret and prove weak
enough to keep it back.

That evening the “tramp” came up the slope earlier than usual. The
ground was white with snow. The drifts were deep in the ravine, but he
had kept the path broken. He stepped more briskly than usual. He
whistled and sang exultingly. He carried a milk-bucket and had under his
arm several letters and magazines. In one hand was a great bouquet of
crimson roses, wrapped in oiled paper to keep them from the biting cold.
His feet were eager to reach the Wells home. He sang and then laughed
aloud to himself. He was a most peculiar sort of tramp. One could tell
that from the great coat he wore. Rough cloth on the outside and black,
shaggy fur within. Wind and weather never kept him back. There was
something unusual in the air this night. He was fairly bubbling over
with excitement.

He knocked at Miss Eliza’s door and entered before she could respond. He
came directly to where she stood, removed the oiled paper and let a
score of crimson roses nod and smile at her.

“I want to be the first to lay my homage at the feet of the famous one,”
he said. “Permit me, madam, to present the roses to her who is making
her name a household word.”

He thrust the flowers between her hands. Eliza was confused. His manner
was strange. Then, too, no one had ever offered her homage, or had
bought her roses. Roses with the mercury ten degrees below zero. Eliza
had never seen roses except in June.

Her face grew crimson. She tried to speak, but could find no words.

“You’re all at sea. This will explain.” Opening one of the magazines, he
laid it on the table, holding it with finger and thumb that it might not

“Why—why—it’s our house,” cried Beth.

“And it’s our Adee,” said the man, turning the page where was a picture
of Eliza herself standing under the trees with the leaves about her.

“I had my camera set for a week before I could get that,” he cried
triumphantly. “I was bound to get it by fair means or foul.”

Eliza was mechanically turning the leaves with one hand. The other held
the roses close in her arm. She could not understand. She tried to read
the titles. A few lines, and the understanding came.

“You have printed my foolish little stories,” she said.

“The editors did not think they were foolish,” he said. “You’ll find a
number there. Here are the checks for them. My, my, you’ll become a
bloated capitalist. Poor Beth and I will take a back seat. It will be
awful hard on the nerves, Beth, to live with a celebrity.”


Before the week passed, Miss Eliza found herself the recipient of many
honors. She had been a member of a club composed of women from Farwell
since Beth had entered school.

These people began to drive out and to call upon Eliza. There were
motors and sleighs in evidence every day.

Mrs. Laire came out and brought Carrie with her. She kissed Eliza

“The idea of your never telling us a word of this. But as I said right
along. It is always those quiet people who are the geniuses. I knew from
the very first time that you attended our Club that you were head and
shoulders above us. We women are not intellectual, you know. I can get
the value of a dollar when it comes to managing a household, but I’d
never even dare to think of writing stories.”

Eliza blushed and tried to disclaim that any honor was due her, but Mrs.
Laire would not listen. She liked to hear herself talk, which she did
after an airy, dainty sort of fashion, like a bird picking a cherry.

“When I mentioned coming, nothing would do but that Carrie would come
along. She thinks so highly of Beth. I’m sorry that she is not at home
now. I wish you would let Beth spend a few days with us. I’m sure she
and Carrie will be great friends.”

“I have such a lovely new writing-desk that I wish her to see. How did
you ever think about writing, Miss Wells?” began Carrie. Then, without
waiting for her to answer, she continued, “Did Beth ever finish the
story she meant to write? She had a fine one last fall for the Literary.
I wonder if she ever wrote the story.”

This was one of the things of which Miss Eliza had not heard. Beth had
planned a story about the beautiful woman who had visited school and who
had kissed her so rapturously. She had written it, too, and had it
hidden away. She could not have shown it to anyone.

Mrs. Laire chatted on and Carrie threw in questions. All Eliza could do
was to sit and listen.

This was not the only visitor. They came by the dozen, and each one
chided Eliza for never telling them, and for modestly keeping her
ability hidden so long. Eliza could not fully explain. She could not
tell them that she herself had never known that she had a wonderful
imagination and artistic spirit. Could she tell them that a wanderer, a
tramp, had bade her to be a “Columbus” to her own soul, and he had
proved her Queen Isabelle who made it possible? She could only listen in
silence and to thank them for their good opinion of her.

When Beth came home from school, she brought the news that the doctor’s
sleigh had just driven away from the Oliver cabin. Furthermore, Sam
Houston’s little Jim-boy had met her and told her that the tramp was

“Did he mean Mr. Hillis?” asked Eliza. She blushed when she said it and
let her glance wander toward the roses which had passed their beauty and
were now but dried leaves. She had not destroyed them. They were the
first flowers that had ever been given her.

“Well, I thought he was a tramp. You know, that very day that we saw him
months and months ago, you told me that he was a tramp.”

“I did not know then. He’s a gentleman, and we will always call him Mr.
Hillis and never think of him as a tramp.”

“I’m very glad to. He never seemed a bit like such a horrid person. I’m
sorry he’s sick. Couldn’t we take him something to eat, or help him some
way, Adee? It must be awful to be sick and alone.”

Adee had been thinking of just that thing. Now, the custom of the
country declared it to be highly improper for an unmarried woman to
visit a man in his home. All the old, trite conventions were live issues
with Adee. On the other hand, all the laws of Christian charity and
gratitude told her to visit the stranger who had been a friend to her
and who had brought inspiration and breadth to her life. She considered
for a moment and decided that there were things bigger and better than

“Yes, we’ll take him something, Beth. Come and help me prepare it.”

Beth needed no urging. In her heart were all the gifts of hospitality
and kindliness. She ran to the closet at Adee’s request and brought out
the best currant jelly and a bottle of grape juice. There was cream and
all the dainties a good cook may have on hand to tempt a sick man. Then
they made their way to the sick man’s house. On the way, they met Sam
Houston. It is strange that it always happens so. One’s best intentions
are often misunderstood. Adee realized that when she made up her mind to
visit at the log house and do what she could to relieve the sufferings
of the sick. She was not at all surprised at Sam’s knowing look and sage
wagging of the head.

“He’s a pretty good-looking fellow, Liza. I thought he’d take your eye.”

“Did you really think? I’m glad something has put your brain-cells into
play, Sam.”

She was vexed with herself the moment she had spoken. Because Sam was
narrowminded and misinterpreting her action was no reason why she should
be sarcastic. She should have had strength and ability to rise above it.

“I’m sorry I spoke as I did, Beth. Nothing is gained by letting oneself
down to that.”

They had come to the hut. Eliza paused at the door. Since she as a child
had come there to pick wild blackberries, she had not been so close. She
remembered it as a miserable old place. The atmosphere had changed. The
low, broad windows, close to the roof, swung outward. The logs formed a
wide sill. Here were boxes glorious with blooming flowers. Outside, the
logs had been covered with a stain or paint which gave them the
appearance of being artistically weathered. The tramp had heard her
footsteps and called to her to enter.

The interior was divided into two rooms. Eliza paused on the threshold.
The fireplace had a great oak log. The plank floor was hidden with
skins. The walls had been washed with something that made them a golden
brown. A great table of some dark wood stretched its length near the low
windows. There was an alcohol-kettle and chafing-dish of brass. Rough
pine shelves of the same restful hue as the walls were filled with
books. A violin and bow lay on the table. There were piles of music and
magazines everywhere. The master himself was seated in an easy-chair by
the fireplace. He arose when Eliza and Beth entered.

“I’m not surprised. I felt that you and Beth would be here the instant
you knew of the doctor’s visit. I was tramping through the snow and had
an accident, and lay for a while in the snow. That’s left me with a cold
and a touch of fever.”

His cheeks were flushed. Eliza bade him go back to his chair.

“I will if you will give me a glass of grape juice at once. You see,
Miss Eliza, I know what you have there without my looking in the basket.
Better than grape juice even will be a cup of good coffee and a poached
egg. I’ll sit here, Miss Eliza, and let you wait upon me. You don’t know
how good it is to be waited upon. I’ve never had any of it in my life,
and I’ve always wanted it.”

Eliza set about it at once. Beth sat down on a low, rough footstool at
the fireplace. The conversation drifted on until the man found himself
telling of the foreign cities he had visited. He knew where the Aztecs
had set up their civilization; he had watched the crocodiles show their
ugly jaws on the banks of the Ganges.

“It must have taken a great deal of money to visit all those places,”
Eliza paused in her serving.

“Not when one is a tramp. The country roads, thank heaven, are free, and
when one has a good pair of feet—.” His eyes danced merrily as he looked
at Eliza, who found herself blushing and turned aside that he might not
observe it.

But his expression was neither one of amusement nor merriment, as his
eyes followed her movements. She worked so easily and deftly, wholly
unconscious that she was doing anything, just as her attitude had been
about her story writing.

“I have always longed to travel,” she said at last. “I presume every one
has the same longing. I have seen no large cities and I am ashamed to
say that I have never seen a steamer. I should dearly love to start out
with some good friend and go where I wish and stay until I am ready to

The man looked down at the log which was just about to break in the
middle. “I can read your future and I see that your wish will be
fulfilled. I see in the coals all that will transpire.” He spoke so
earnestly and kept his eyes on the fire as though he really read
something in the embers. Eliza paused in the act of pouring coffee and
let her glance follow his.

He paused. “Yes,” exclaimed Eliza eagerly, for she wished him to
continue, “Yes.”

“Before the year is out your desire will be realized. I am a true
prophet and I read aright. You will see great cities. You will view the
wonders of the world. You will be a guest in palaces. You will be
feasted and feted everywhere.”

“It sounds beautiful. I only hope it will come true.”

“And I will go with you, Adee!” cried Beth, clapping her hands. “Good,
good. We’ll have a perfectly ‘kertish’ time.”

The man shook his head. “As I read the signs, you will not be with Adee.
I cannot read your future; but you will not be with Adee—not all the

“I should not like to go alone,” said Adee, “I’m very much afraid that
would not be pleasant. Could you not read another story in the coals,
and let Beth be my companion?”

“I cannot change it. It is written there. To be frank, I would not do so
if I could. No fear that you will be lonely. You will not wish Beth with
you when you start on the journey, for your companion will be dearer to
you than even Beth is.”

“Impossible. Beth is—” Eliza had turned and looked at the man as she
spoke. Words failed her. Something, she knew not what, kept her from
saying that Beth would always be the dearest one to her.

The subject was getting too personal to please her. She turned from the
two at the fireside and poured the coffee and brought it to the sick
man. She did not raise her eyes. She did not look at him. The silence
was constrained. Even Beth, who could not understand many things, felt

“Why is every one suddenly glum,” she cried at last. “Talking and
laughing one minute and then as quiet as mice. I’ll tell you this,
though. Nothing will keep me away from Adee. If she goes abroad to see
strange sights, I’ll go too.”

“No, I think not.” He shook his head dubiously.

“It’s beyond my power to change what I have read. You could not go,
Beth. A little bit of a girl as you are. You would not be able to stand
it. It will be a sort of ‘tramp’ trip.” He laughed and looked toward
Eliza, who was drawing on her great coat. “Come, Beth, it is time to
move homeward,” she said.


Spring had passed and summer was at hand before Eliza had her letter
from Baltimore. It would be impossible to trace baggage from checks ten
years old. All goods were sold after lying unclaimed for a certain
length of time. That was all. Eliza was rather glad than otherwise. She
had done her duty, satisfied her conscience, and Beth was still hers.

The same mail bore another letter. Miss Good, the president of the
school, had written her, asking her to be one in the receiving line at
the Club reception which would be held in the parlors of the Point
Breeze. The hotel was filled with summer guests, many of whom were club
members elsewhere, and the affair was planned that they might meet each

Eliza’s writings were appearing in different periodicals. She knew not
how they got in print. She wrote them merely. The man at the Oliver
place managed the business and brought the checks to her. She had won
quite a little fame and her name had become known over the country. This
was the reason that she had been asked to receive in line. Some of the
younger girls were to act as aids. Beth was popular in school. She was
always sunshiny, and took things as they were without looking for
trouble. She had never felt a distinction of class or clothes and
treated every one with fairness and justice. She and Sally Monroe had
kept up their intimacy. With Helen these made a trio as unlike as could
be and as companionable and full of life as any one could wish.

Carrie Laire and Tilly were friends also, but never within the inner
circle. Carrie was yet the interrogation point and Tilly the animated
price list.

When the letter asking Eliza to assist in receiving and Beth to be one
of the younger set was received, the latter executed a war-dance
immediately and cavorted about like a young lamb.

“Don’t be so frolicsome,” cried Eliza. “Really, Beth, you make me think
of the young goats which we used to watch up on Goat Hill. They always
jumped about in just such fashion as you are doing now.”

[Illustration: _She stood as transfixed, her eyes upon Beth’s hands._]

“I’m capricious, Adee. Capra is really Latin for goat. Then if one
gambols around like a goat, one is capricious.”

They were both excited and could scarcely eat their evening meal. There
was so much to talk about.

“Adee, you must have a beautiful dress. Something soft and shimmery.
I’ll fix your hair too sweet for anything. I’ll put a pink rose in it.
I’d get a soft white dress, Adee. You could—couldn’t you? You have money
enough from the stories. Haven’t you, Adee?”

“Yes,” slowly, “but a new dress would cost a great deal. Perhaps, I had
better write a note and tell them I cannot help receive.”

“No, please do not, Adee. You’ll meet the finest people in the world.
Carrie Laire’s mother buys dresses in Williamsport. The place where they
are sold will change them to make them fit. You could go and buy a
dress. You could easily get one to fit you. You’re just the right size
to be easily fitted. You could go in one day. I could stay at home. I
wouldn’t be afraid. I could ask Sally to come over. But then, maybe, I’d
better go with you. You couldn’t see how it would fit, and I’d tell you
perfectly honest. I want you to look perfectly ‘scrumptious.’ I’m just
positive, Adee, that you’ll be the sweetest woman there.”

“Beth, you are a flatterer. You’d make me vain as vain could be, if I
listen to you. I’ll promise you this: if I go to Williamsport, you shall
go with me. I’ll consider the matter.”

“It is only ten days, Adee. I would not consider too long. A soft white
dress with a train—”

Beth sighed with satisfaction. In her mind’s eyes she saw Adee looking
like the Princess in the fairy tale.

Eliza might not have decided in favor of buying a new gown, had not the
man from the Oliver place come in that evening for his customary
supplies. Beth, who could not keep anything to herself when she was
excited, blurted out immediately that Adee was to help receive and that
Sally, Carrie and herself were to be present as aids.

“I can scarcely wait. It’s weeks yet,” cried Beth. “I’ve never been to a
really grown-up party. I know it will be simply grand. I wish it was
this very evening.”

“Nonsense, that would give you no time to get your party togs. They tell
me that for such affairs, women ‘dike’ themselves out as fine as
peacocks. Gowns with trains coming after them like an afterthought,
gloves up to the elbow. No, no, Beth, it is well for you that the
reception is not tonight. It takes time to prepare one’s togs for events
as big as this will be.”

Eliza, keen as she naturally was, never knew why he had spoken so. He
knew how narrow and hemmed-in her social life had been. He would not
have her go dressed unsuitably and made to feel ill at ease and out of
place among other women. Eliza accepted it as a random remark but
profited by it nevertheless.

“We’re going to look fine,” laughed Beth. “Adee and I have a plan. We’ll
not tell you. We’ll keep it as a state secret until we burst upon you in
all our glory. You’ll be overcome. I know you’ll say that we look fine.”

“I’ll believe that you do; but I’ll not be at Shintown to see you. I’m
going away tomorrow. The boards will go up on the log house again for—I
cannot say how long.”

“Going to leave?” Eliza was foolish enough to feel a strange sinking of
the heart.

“Isn’t this departure rather unexpected?”

“I always take to the woods and roads when fair weather sets in. I
should have gone weeks ago. Now some of my old friends have warned me
that the time has come to cut loose and show a good pair of heels. You
see, Miss Eliza, not even a year of happy domesticity can make me break
old habits. I’m starting out to visit old places. New cities have no
attraction for me. By daylight, I’ll be off.”

He took up his milk-jug and was off. He had not even said good-bye or
thanked Eliza for the little kindnesses she had shown him. Yet she felt
herself his debtor. He had given her life a new impulse. He had opened a
new line of work. Her pen would help her provide for her own old age and
educate Beth. More than that, she found joy in expressing herself. She
had gone from the beaten path, and had found the glorious possibilities
which lay within her own soul, just as they lie in the soul of each one;
though some are never discovered.

When Eliza and Beth went down the slope the following day, neither song
nor whistling was heard from the Oliver log house. The windows and door
had been boarded up. Already the place had an appearance of being

“It makes me feel queer—sort of lonesome,” said Beth. “I wonder if we’ll
ever see him again. I thought he was very nice, Adee. I think I never
met any other man that I liked quite so well. I wish he had not gone. I
wish he would come back and live here forever. We’ll miss him
dreadfully. Don’t you wish he’d come back to live here always, Adee?”

Eliza had stopped to pluck a flower and had nothing at all to say.
During the walk to town, Beth did all the talking.

The time until the reception did pass. To Beth it dragged. It was as
though the little god Time had hung leaden balls on his feet. Beth
counted the nights between. They passed at last. The evening of the
Woman’s Club reception was at hand. Adee had yielded to Beth and bought
a soft white gown of embroidered mull. It was just a little low at the
neck and the sleeves ended in soft lace frills, just at the elbow. Best
of all to Beth’s way of thinking, there was a little sweep to it. The
ruffles of val lace floated about Eliza’s feet. Beth had put up her hair
so that it was loose about the forehead and in a great coil like a crown
upon her head. A pink rose finished it, to Beth’s satisfaction.

When all was completed, the girl stood aside to contemplate her work.
“You look like a dream, a perfect poem. You’ll be the sweetest thing
there, Adee. Oh, I’m glad I belong to you. Put on your gloves. Sally
says to let the tops wrinkle; not to draw them tight. There.”

Beth wore a simple white frock that had been made for the senior
reception. When she had finished dressing, she came to the door of
Eliza’s room with a little box in her hand.

“Adee—I’ll have no gloves, you know. The girls do not intend to wear
them; but Sally and Helen both wear rings. Don’t you think it would be
all right if I would wear these?” She opened the box, and taking out the
rings which she believed belonged to the woman who had been killed when
Old Prince had taken fright, she held them up for Eliza to see.

“They fit me, Adee. I’d dearly love to wear them. They’re rather odd,
but I think they are prettier than the ones the girls wear. May I wear
them, Adee?”

Eliza considered. “The only thing against your wearing them is that they
might be lost. You may need them sometime if you ever meet your own
people. You know that I have always had a feeling, Beth, that sometime
you’ll find, somewhere, sisters or brothers; perhaps you have a father

“It’s strange he did not try to find me. Sometime, I feel, Adee, that no
one but my mother wanted me. When she was killed, no one came. If any
one had cared, don’t you think they would have hunted for me everywhere.
I’d walk from town to town until I dropped from weariness. But no one
looked for me, Adee. I’m to be your girl always and forever, Adee. No
one else ever wanted me, it seems.” She smiled up at Eliza. She was
really very happy and contented. Only a few times had she permitted
herself to think that she was without kin of any kind. Sometimes she
longed for her mother. She knew that no one, however kind and lovable,
could ever take a mother’s place. But she loved Adee dearly, and had
made up her mind that she would make neither her foster-mother nor
herself miserable about that which could not be remedied. She stood
looking at Eliza with an appealing look in her eyes.

“Well, I presume it really will make no difference. They are your rings
and you are surely old enough now to take care of them. Wear them if you
wish, Beth.”


The reception parlors were massed with ferns, palms and roses. The soft
strains of an orchestra floated through the rooms. There were men in
full dress and women in soft-tinted gowns, moving about like a swarm of
gay butterflies. The receiving line was made up of a dozen women. Miss
Ellis stood at the head, next to her was Mrs. Laurens who was an officer
in the National Federation of the Club. Then came Eliza. They had barely
time to take their places before the guests began making their way from
the dressing-rooms on the floor above. A colored man, in full evening
dress, stood in the doorway and called out the names of those entering.
The head of the line shook hands, introduced the person to the next in
line, and so each one passed on. There were so many that the names
became but a jumble to Eliza. “Dr. James Smith, Mrs. Ellington Roche,
Miss Brown,” and so on. She smiled, shook hands and handed the guest on
to the next. She was performing her duties in a mechanical sort of way,
forgetting name and person the instant he had passed before her.
Suddenly she started and became very much alert. Mrs. Laurens was
addressing her personally. “Miss Wells, permit me to introduce Dr.
William Barnes Hillis, the scientist. He has asked to be introduced. I
am surprised that you have not met before. Dr. Hillis has been in your
neighborhood for a year, living the life of a hermit in order that he
might finish his new book and win new laurels.”

Eliza extended her hand. Speech failed her. She looked up into the
laughing eyes of the “tramp.” He was dressed in conventional evening

“Miss Wells, I am delighted to meet you.” His smile was radiant. Eliza
could not even smile. She stood quite still and looked at him.

“Beth was right about how fine you would look.” He spoke so low that no
one else might hear, and then moved along the line.

The greater number of guests had arrived. There was time for a word
between the hostesses. Mrs. Laurens turned to Eliza. “I’m sure you will
like Hillis—I presume I should say Dr. Hillis. He is authority on plant
life and has delved deep into all kindred sciences. He shut himself up
somewhere in the wilds the last year in order to devote his time to
writing. He dropped in upon us last night and demanded that I give him a
card to the reception. He told me something else. He’s going to make a
tour of the eastern countries. I think he starts early in the fall. He’s
not going alone. He told me that the prospective Mrs. Hillis would be
here tonight, and defied me to discover her.”

“Yes—how—interesting—romantic.” Eliza did not recognize her own voice.
It was hollow, stilted, false.

The last guest had been bidden welcome. The hostesses moved from the
reception line, and mingled with those they were entertaining.

In a room adjoining, the young girls were serving fruit punch from a
side-table. Helen and Sallie were ladling it from a bowl hidden among
flowers and ferns. Beth and Carrie Laire were hidden amid masses of cut
roses. As the guests came to them, they pinned a rose upon them.

Mrs. Laurens came up with a group of four.

“Roses presenting roses,” said one of the gentlemen as Carrie pinned the
flower on his coat. Beth’s face had been turned away. She was selecting
a fine half-blown rose for Mrs. Laurens. She turned to present it. Her
hands with their peculiar old-fashioned rings were brought into

“Will you have a rose?” Mrs. Laurens did not answer. She stood as though
transfixed, her eyes upon Beth’s hands.

Suddenly she seized them tight into her own. “Your rings! Your rings!
Where did you get them? They are mine. I’d give worlds to know of them.
They’re mine! They’re mine!”

Her voice rang out clear and strong. Everyone in the great room heard.
Poor Beth was frightened so that she could not speak. People came
crowding closer. Eliza and Dr. Hillis, fearing that something had
happened to Beth, hurried forward. There stood Mrs. Laurens clutching
Beth’s hands and crying out, “The rings! The rings are mine. I must know
where you got them, child.”

Dr. Hillis was the first to understand. He came to them. “You and Beth
come with me into this little private parlor. We can explain better
there.” Taking them by the arm, he led them away. “Come with us,” he
said to Eliza. She followed. The door closed upon them, and there the
explanation was given.

Very simple of course it was. Mrs. Laurens was Beth’s mother, to be
sure. It was as clear as could be when one knew it.

When Beth was a baby, Mrs. Laurens had taken her to Florida where Mr.
Laurens had undertaken heavy contracts. She had with her Bena Benson, a
Swedish servant who had been with the family for years and who dearly
loved Beth.

Mr. Laurens was taken ill during the winter and was in the hospital. A
few weeks later, his wife was taken with the same low-running fever. The
physician forbade their being moved north to their home. The little
child could not be left in a hotel in a servant’s care. There was a risk
in staying in the infected region. The only thing to be done was to send
the child and nurse north to friends.

Mrs. Laurens wore several rings which had come down to her from her
mother’s people. She was ill in the hospital. Fearing that the rings
might be lost, she instructed Bena to take them home with her. At
Baltimore, the Swedish woman had become confused. She asked for
information as to the best way to “Yamestown,” as she called it. Her
pronunciation was foreign. Instead of selling her a ticket and checking
her baggage to the right destination, the man in his hurry misunderstood
and sent her hundreds of miles out of her way. She had realized her
mistake when the train reached Farwell. She had left the train there and
was walking to the Lehigh station in the hope of returning to Baltimore.

Weeks had passed before Mr. and Mrs. Laurens heard of her. They were too
ill to be conscious of the lapse of time. When they began the search all
trace was lost, even the newspaper accounts had gone astray.


So Miss Eliza lost Beth after all. I think not. We can never really lose
those we love and those who love us. They are always ours.

She slipped away, leaving the mother and daughter together. She could
not face the people in the drawing-room. She slipped into the open
corridor, where the palms hid her from view and the lights were low.
Here she stood leaning against the heavy columns which supported the

“She was glad—so glad for Beth,” she told herself. She repeated it
mechanically as though she would force herself to believe that she
really was glad.

“I’m glad—for Beth. I’m glad for Beth that she has a real mother.” It
was her lips only which said it. How could she go back to the lonely
house? How could she sit down to her meals alone? How could she live
without her little girl?

She tried bravely to keep back the tears, but they gathered in her eyes
and fell down her cheeks. She choked back a sob. She could not reenter
the room and face the people. She would go home alone. Alone—she could
not do that. She would hang to that pillar all night rather than that.
She could not, she would not go home alone.

“You are troubled, Adee.” It was Dr. Hillis who addressed her. She
controlled herself and said with what brightness she could, “Not
troubled; lonely. Beth has found her mother. I am glad. That is, I am
trying hard to be glad; but I cannot help the thought that I will be

“For that matter, so will I. Strange thing about this being alone. Just
about the time one gets used to it, one finds that he simply cannot
stand another day of it. I have been alone all my life, but I never
realized it until the day I was ill and Beth came down to see me.”

He paused. There was nothing at all that Adee could say to this. Silence
was the only thing. Eliza felt that he was looking at her, keenly, but
she did not raise her eyes.

“You will not be lonely long. You know what I read in the coals. Fall
weather is fine for going about abroad; going where you want to and not
leaving until you are ready. What do you think, Adee? Could you let me
take Beth’s place? Will you let the dream in the coals come true?”

“I’ll not let you take Beth’s place,” she spoke slowly. “You must take
your own place.” She held out her hand. “But I can’t possibly be ready
very early in the fall.”

So it ended like a fairy story. Nay, for it was far better than a fairy
tale. All stories of human life are.

Beth, or Ermann, as her name really was, divided her time between Eliza
and her own mother. It would have been a hard matter to decide which she
loved most.

The prophecy concerning Adee which Dr. Hillis had read in the embers at
the old Oliver Place came true. He and Adee were married and went
abroad, where he was received with ovations because of the fine
scientific work he had done. Adee was feted and feasted and entertained
in palaces. Beth was not with her, of course. Strange to relate, Adee
was not lonely. Sometimes her husband would tease her about her “tramp”
friends. They would laugh heartily over the matter. All the best things
of life had come to Adee because she had sacrificed her ease and denied
herself to take care of a helpless little child. She might have sent
Beth to a foundling asylum. How narrow, little and petty her life would
have always been, had she done this.

Mrs. Laurens had suffered; but good came through it after all. After
losing trace of her own little child she had devoted her money and time
to making happy other motherless children. Through her own suffering,
she herself was strengthened and developed, and hundreds of children
were made comfortable.

Beth, or Ermann, finished a college course and then offered her services
to the Fresh Air Society. She takes charge of babies who are motherless,
or whose mothers are not responsible. She realizes what her life might
have been if Adee had sent her away, and tries to give the little ones
in her care the same love and tenderness that she knew.

So wonderful good came from suffering, because those who suffered were
strong, and fulfilled their duty nobly.

So ends the tale of Beth, or Ermann, just as you choose to think of her.
But in her own thoughts, she thinks of herself as “That little girl of
Miss Liza’s,” and so the old residents of the valley speak of her.

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