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Title: What's-His-Name
Author: McCutcheon, George Barr, 1866-1928
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 "What's-His-Name" ***

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[Illustration: Copyright, 1911, by Dodd, Mead & Company
Nellie Duluth]









Copyright, 1910, 1911



Published March, 1911


 CHAPTER                                                          PAGE
      I. Our Hero                                                    1
     II. Miss Nellie Duluth                                         31
    III. Mr. Fairfax                                                71
     IV. Luncheon                                                   95
      V. Christmas                                                 124
     VI. The Revolver                                              150
    VII. The Lawyer                                                176
   VIII. Blakeville                                                201


 Nellie Duluth                                            Frontispiece

 Fairfax was sitting on a trunk, a satisfied
 smile on his lips                                                  67

 Phoebe                                                            134

 He stopped, aghast, petrified                                     238




Two men were standing in front of the Empire Theatre on Broadway, at
the outer edge of the sidewalk, amiably discussing themselves in the
first person singular. It was late in September and somewhat early in
the day for actors to be abroad, a circumstance which invites
speculation. Attention to their conversation, which was marked by the
habitual humility, would have convinced the listener (who is always
welcome) that both had enjoyed a successful season on the road,
although closing somewhat prematurely on account of miserable booking,
and that both had received splendid "notices" in every town visited.

These two loiterers serve a single purpose in this tale--they draw
your attention to the principal character, to the person who plays the
title rôle, so to speak, and then, having done so, sink back into an
oblivion from which it is quite unnecessary to retrieve them.

The younger of the two players was in the act of lighting a
cigarette, considerately tendered by the older, when his gaze fell
upon the figure of the approaching hero. He hesitated for a moment,
squinting his eyes reflectively as if to make sure of both vision and
memory before committing himself to the declaration that was to

"See that fellow there? The little chap with his hands in his

The other permitted a vague, indifferent glance to enter the throng of
pedestrians, plainly showing that he did not see the person indicated.
(Please note this proof of the person's qualifications as a hero.)

"The fellow in front of Browne's," added the first speaker, so eagerly
that his friend tried once more and succeeded.

"What of him?" he demanded, unimpressed.

"That is What's-His-Name, Nellie Duluth's husband."

The friend's stare was prolonged and incredulous.


"Yes. That's the fair Nellie's anchor. Isn't he a wonder?"

The object of these remarks passed slowly in front of them and soon
was lost in the crowd. Now that we know who he is we will say thank
you to the obliging Thespian and be off up Broadway in his wake, not
precisely in the capacity of spies and eavesdroppers, but as
acquaintances who would know him better.

He was not an imposing figure. You would not have looked twice at him.
You could not have remembered looking once at him, for that matter. He
was the type of man who ambles through life without being noticed,
even by those amiably inclined persons who make it their business to
see everything that is going on, no matter how trivial it is.

Somewhere in this wide and unfeeling world the husband of Nellie
Duluth had an identity of his own, but New York was not the place.
Back in the little Western town from which he came he had a name and a
personality all his own, but it was a far cry from Broadway and its
environments. For a matter of four or five years he had been known
simply as "Er--What's-His-Name? Nellie Duluth's husband!" You have
known men of his stripe, I am sure; men who never get anywhere for the
good and sufficient reason that it isn't necessary. Men who stand
still. Men who do not even shine by reflected glory. Men whose names
you cannot remember. It might be Smith or Brown or Jones, or any of
the names you can't forget if you try, and yet it always escapes you.
You know the sort I mean.

Nellie Duluth's husband was a smallish young man, nice-looking, even
kind-looking, with an habitual expression of inquiry in his face, just
as if he never quite got used to seeing or being seen. The most expert
tailor haberdasher could not have provided him with apparel that
really belonged to him. Not that he was awkward or ill-favoured in the
matter of figure, but that he lacked individuality. He always seemed
to be a long way from home.

Sometimes you were sure that he affected a slight, straw-coloured
moustache; then, a moment afterward, if you turned your back, you were
not quite sure about it. As a matter of fact, he did possess such an
adornment. The trouble came in remembering it. Then, again, his eyes
were babyish blue and unseasoned; he was always looking into shop
windows, getting accustomed to the sights. Trolley cars and
automobiles were never-decreasing novelties to him, if you were to
judge by the startled way in which he gazed at them. His respect for
the crossing policeman, his courtesy to the street-car conductor, his
timidity in the presence of the corner newsboy, were only surpassed by
his deference to the waiter in the cheap restaurants he affected.

But, ah! You should have seen him in that little Western town! He was
a "devil of a fellow" out there! He knew the policemen by their first
names and had no respect for them; street-car conductors were
hail-fellows well met, and the newsboys wore spectacles and said "Yes,
sir," to him. As for the waiters, he knew them all by their Christian
name, which usually was Annie or Mamie or Katie.

On Broadway he was quite another person. He knew his Broadway from one
end to the other--that is to say, he knew that side of the "Great
White Way" which stares you in the face and rebukes you for staring
back--the outside of Broadway. He had been on and off Broadway for a
matter of five years and yet he had never recovered from the habit of
turning out for every pedestrian he met, giving the other man the
right of way instead of holding to his own half of it, sometimes
stepping in puddles of water to do so and not infrequently being edged
off the curbstone by an accumulation of the unexpected.

Once in a while during his peregrinations some one recognised him and
bowed in a hesitating manner, as if trying to place him, and at such
times he responded with a beaming smile and a half-carried-out impulse
to stop for a bit of a chat, but always with a subsequent acceleration
of speed on discovering that the other fellow seemed to be in a hurry.
They doubtless knew him for Miss Duluth's husband, but for the life of
them they couldn't call him by name. Every one understood that Nellie
possessed a real name, but no one thought to ask what it was.

Moreover, Nellie had a small daughter whose name was Phoebe. She
unquestionably was a collaboration, but every one who knew the child
spoke of her as that "darling little girl of Nellie's." The only man
in New York who appeared to know Nellie's husband by name was the
postman, and he got it second-hand.

At the stage door of the theatre he was known as Miss Duluth's
husband, to the stage hands and the members of the chorus he was
What's-His-Name, to the principals he was "old chap," to Nellie
herself he was Harvey, to Phoebe he was "daddy," to the press agent he
was nameless--he didn't exist.

You could see Nellie in big red letters on all the billboards. She was
inevitable. Her face smiled at you from every nook and corner--and it
was a pretty face, too--and you had to get your tickets of the
scalpers if you wanted to see her in person any night in the week,
Sundays excepted. Hats, parasols, perfumes, and face powders were
named after her. It was Nellie here and Nellie there and Nellie
everywhere. The town was mad about her. It goes without saying that
her husband was not the only man in love with her.

As Harvey--let me see--oh, never mind--What's-His-Name--ambled up
Broadway on the morning of his introduction into this homely narrative
he was smiled at most bewitchingly by his wife--from a hundred
windows--for Nellie's smile was never left out of the lithographs (he
never missed seeing one of them, you may be sure)--but it never
occurred to him to resent the fact that she was smiling in the same
inviting way to every other man who looked.

He ambled on. At Forty-second Street he turned to the right, peering
at the curtained windows of the Knickerbocker with a sort of fearful
longing in his mild blue eyes, and kept on his way toward the Grand
Central Station. Although he had been riding in and out of the city on
a certain suburban train for nearly two years and a half, he always
heaved a sigh of relief when the gate-tender told him he was taking
the right train for Tarrytown. Once in a great while, on matinée days,
he came to town to luncheon with Nellie before the performance. On
Sundays she journeyed to Tarrytown to see him and Phoebe. In that way
they saw quite a bit of each other. This day, however, he was taking
an earlier train out, and he was secretly agitated over the
possibility of getting the wrong one. Nellie had sent word to the
theatre that she had a headache and could not have luncheon with him.

He was not to come up to her apartment. If he had known a human being
in all New York with whom he could have had luncheon, he would have
stayed in town and perhaps gone to a theatre. But, alas, there was no
one! Once he had asked a low comedian, a former member of Nellie's
company, but at the time out of a job and correspondingly meek, to
luncheon with him at Rector's. At parting he had the satisfaction of
lending the player eleven dollars. He hoped it would mean a long and
pleasant acquaintance and a chance to let the world see something of
him. But the low comedian fell unexpectedly into a "part" and did not
remember Nellie's husband the next time he met him. He forgot
something else as well. Harvey's memory was not so short. He never
forgot it. It rankled.

He bought a noon extra and found a seat in the train. Then he sat up
very straight to let people see that they were riding in the same car
with the great Nellie Duluth's husband. Lucky dog! Every one was
saying that about him, he was sure. But every one else had a noon
extra, worse luck!

After a while he sagged down into the seat and allowed his baby-blue
eyes to fall into a brown study. In his mind's eye he was seeing a
thousand miles beyond the western bank of the Hudson, far off into
the quiet streets of a town that scarcely had heard the name of Nellie
Duluth and yet knew him by name and fame, even to the remotest nook of

They were good old days, sweet old days, those days when he was
courting her--when she was one among many and he the only one. Days
when he could serve customers in his shirt-sleeves and address each
one familiarly. Every one was kind. If he had a toothache, they
sympathised with him and advised him to have it pulled and all that
sort of thing. In New York (he ground his teeth, proving that he
retained them) no one cared whether he lived or died. He hated New
York. He would have been friendly to New York--cheerfully, gladly--if
New York had been willing to meet him halfway. It was friendly to
Nellie; why couldn't it be friendly to him? He was her husband. Why,
confound it all, out in Blakeville, where they came from, he was
somebody while she was merely "that girl of Ted Barkley's." He had
drawn soda water for her a hundred times and she had paid him in
pennies! Only five years ago. Sometimes she had the soda water
charged; that is to say, she had it put on her mother's bill. Ted
couldn't get credit anywhere in town.

And now look at her! She was getting six hundred dollars a week and
spurned soda water as if it were poison.

His chin dropped lower. The dreamy look deepened.

"Doggone it," he mused for the hundredth time, "I could have been a
partner in the store by this time if I'd stuck to Mr. Davis."

He was thinking of Davis' drug store, in Main Street, and the striped
blazer he wore while tending the soda fount in the summer time. A red
and yellow affair, that blazer was. Before the "pharmacy law" went
into effect he was permitted to put up prescriptions while Mr. Davis
was at meals. Afterward he was restricted to patent medicines,
perfumes, soaps, toilet articles, cigars, razor strops, and all such,
besides soda water in season. Moreover, when circuses came to town the
reserved-seat sale was conducted in Davis' drug store. He always had
passes without asking for them.

Yes, he might have been a partner by this time. He drew a lot of trade
to the store. Mr. Davis could not have afforded to let him go

Five years ago! It seemed ages. He was twenty-three when he left
Blakeville. Wasted ages! Somehow he liked the ready-made garments he
used to buy at the Emporium much better than those he wore
nowadays--fashionable duds from Fifth Avenue at six times the price.
He used to be busy from seven A.M. till ten P.M., and he was happy.
Nowadays he had nothing to do but get up and shave and take Phoebe for
walks, eat, read the papers, tell stories to Phoebe, and go to bed. To
be sure, the food was good and plentiful, the bed was soft, and the
cottage more attractive than anything Blakeville could boast of;
Phoebe was a joy and Nellie a jewel, but--heigh-ho! he might have been
a partner in Davis' drug store if he'd stayed in the old town.

The man in the seat behind was speaking to him. He came out of his
reverie with a glad rush. It was so unusual for any one to take the
initiative that he was more than ready to respond.

"I see the Giants lost again yesterday," said the volunteer

"Yes. Six to four," said our hero, brightly, turning in his seat. He
always read the baseball news. He could tell you the batting average
of every player in the big leagues for ten years back.

"Lot of bone-heads," said the other sourly. At first glance our friend
thought he looked like an actor and his heart sank. But perhaps he
might be a travelling salesman. He liked them. In either event, the
stranger's estimate of the New York ball team pleased him. He rejoiced
in every defeat it sustained, particularly at the hands of the

"Not in it with the Cubs," he announced, blitheness in his manner.
Here was a man after his own heart.

But the stranger glared at him. "The Cubs?" he said, his voice
hardening, his manner turning aggressive.

"They make the Giants look like two-spots," went on our friend,

The stranger looked him over pityingly and then ended the conversation
by deliberately hiding himself behind his newspaper. Our hero opened
his lips to add further comment, but something in the way the paper
crackled caused him to close them and turn back to his bitter survey
of the Hudson. And the confounded fellow had invited his confidence,

He got down at Tarrytown and started up the hill. The station-master
pointed him out to a friend.

"That's--er--What's-His-Name--Nellie Duluth's husband."

"That guy?"

"She keeps him up here in a cottage to take care of the baby. Away
from the temptations of the city," said the agent, with a broad wink.

"I didn't know she was married," said his friend, who lived in

"Well, she is."

Mr.--(I declare, his name escapes me, so I will call him by his
Christian name, Harvey)--Harvey, utterly oblivious to the pitying
scrutiny of the two men, moved slowly up the road, homeward bound. He
stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to light a "Sweet Cap," threw
back his unimposing shoulders, and accelerated his gait a trifle in
deference to his position as the master of a celebrity.

It was his habit to take a rather roundabout way up to the little
cottage on the hill. The route led him past a certain drug store and
a grocer's where he was on speaking terms with the clerks. They knew
him. He did the marketing, but the account was in Miss Duluth's name.
A livery stable, too, was on the line of progress. He occasionally
stopped in to engage a pony phaeton for a drive in the afternoon with

To-day he passed these places by. Every one seemed to be busy. He
could see that at a glance. So there wasn't any use stopping. That was
what he got for coming home from town in the middle of the day. He
nodded to several acquaintances--passing acquaintances in both senses
of the word. They turned to look after him, half-smiles on their

One woman said to another, "I wonder if he's really married to her?"

"If he wasn't, he'd be living in the city with her," was the complete

"He seems such a quiet little man, so utterly unlike what a husband of
hers ought to be. He's from the far West--near Chicago, I believe. I
never can remember his name. Can you?"

"I've never heard it."

"It's not an uncommon name."

"Why doesn't he call himself Mr. Duluth?"

"My husband says actresses are not supposed to have husbands. If they
have them, they keep them in the background."

"That's true. I know I am always surprised when I see that they're
trying to get divorces."

Harvey was never so far in the background as when he appeared in the
foreground. One seldom took notice of him unless he was out of sight,
or at least out of hearing.

He was not effeminate; he was not the puerile, shiftless creature the
foregoing sentences may have led you to suspect. He was simply a
weakling in the strong grasp of circumstance. He could not help
himself; to save his life, he could not be anything but Nellie
Duluth's husband.

Not a bad-looking chap, as men of his stamp go. Not much of a spine,
perhaps, and a little saggy about the shoulders; all in all, rather a
common type. He kept his thin moustache twisted, but inconsistently
neglected to shave for several days--that kind of a man. His trousers,
no matter how well made, were always in need of pressing and his coat
was wrinkled from too much sitting on the small of his back. His
shirts, collars, and neckties were clean and always "dressy." Nellie
saw to that. Besides he always had gone in for gay colours when it
came to ties and socks. His watch-fob was a thing of weight and
pre-eminence. It was of the bell-clapper type. In the summer time he
wore suspenders with his belt, and in the winter time he wore a belt
with his suspenders. Of late he affected patent-leather shoes with red
or green tops; he walked as if he despised the size of them.

Arriving at the snug little cottage, he was brought face to face with
one of the common tragedies of a housekeeper's life. The cook and the
nursemaid, who also acted as waitress and chambermaid, had indulged in
one of their controversies during his absence, and the former had
departed, vowing she would never return. Here it was luncheon time and
no one to get it! He knew that Bridget would be back before dinner
time--she always did come back--but in the meantime what were they to
do? There wasn't a thing in the house.

He found himself wishing he had stayed in the city for luncheon.

Annie's story was a long one, but he gathered from it that Bridget was
wholly to blame for the row. Annie was very positive as to that.

"Have we any eggs?" asked the dismayed master.

"Eggs? How should I know, sir?" demanded Annie. "It's Bridget's place
to know what's in the pantry, not mine. The Lord knows I have enough
to do without looking after her work."

"Excuse me," said he, apologetically. He hesitated for a moment and
then came to a decision. "I guess I'd better go and see what we've
got. If we've got eggs, I can fry 'em. Bridget will be back this

"I'm not so sure of that," said Annie, belligerently. "I told her this
was the last time, the very last."

"I'll bet you a quarter she comes back," said he, brightly.

"Gee! What a sport you are!" scoffed Annie.

He flushed. "Will you please set the table?"

"It's set."


"I'll help you make the toast, if you'd like," said she, a sudden
feeling of pity for him coming into her niggardly soul.

"Thanks," he said, briskly. "And the tea, too?"

"I think we'd better have coffee," said she, asserting a preference
for the housemaid's joy.

"Just as you say," he acquiesced, hastily. "Where is Phoebe?"

"Next door with the Butler kids--children, I mean. Maybe they'll ask
her to stay to lunch."

He gave her a surprise. "Go over and tell her to come home. I don't
want her staying to luncheon with those damned Butlers."

She stared, open-mouthed. "I'm sure, sir, they're quite as good as--as
we are. What have you got against 'em?"

He could not tell her that Butler, who worked in a bank, never took
the trouble to notice him except when Nellie was out to spend Sunday.

"Never mind. Go and get Phoebe."

He made a dash for the kitchen, and when the exasperated Annie
returned a few minutes later with Phoebe--rebellious Phoebe, who at
that particular moment hated her father--he was in his shirt-sleeves
and aproned, breaking eggs over a skillet on the gas stove. His face
was very red, as if considerable exertion had been required.

Phoebe was pouting when she came in, but the sight of her father
caused her to set up a shriek of glee.

"What fun, daddy!" she cried. "Now we'll never need Bridget again. I
don't like her. You will be our cook, won't you?"

Annie's sarcastic laugh annoyed him.

"I used to do all the cooking when the Owl Club went camping," he
announced, entirely for Annie's benefit.

"In Blakeville?" asked Annie, with a grin.

"Yes, in Blakeville," he exploded, almost dropping the cigarette from
his lips into the skillet. His blue eyes flashed ominously. Annie,
unused to the turning of the worm, caught her breath.

Suddenly obsessed by the idea that he was master in his own house, he
began strutting about the kitchen, taking mental note of the things
that needed attention, with a view to reproving Bridget when she came
back to the fold. He burnt his fingers trying to straighten the
stovepipe, smelt of the dish-cloths to see if they were greasy,
rattled the pans and bethought himself of the eggs just in the nick of
time. In some haste and embarrassment he removed the skillet from the
fire just as Annie came out of the pantry with the bread and the
coffee can.

"Where's the platter?" he demanded, holding the skillet at arm's
length. "They're fried."

"They'll be stone cold," said she, "waiting for the coffee to boil.
You ain't got any water boiling."

"I thought, perhaps, we'd better have milk," he said, gathering his

To his surprise--and to her own, for that matter--she said, "Very
good, sir," and repaired to the icebox for the dairy bottles. He was
still holding the skillet when she returned. She was painfully red in
the face.

Phoebe eyed the subsequent preparations for the meal with an
increasing look of sullenness in her quaint little face. She was
rather a pretty child. You would say of her, if you saw her in the
street, "What a sweet child!" just as you would say it about the next
one you met.

Her father, taking note of her manner, paused in the act of removing
his apron.

"What's the matter, darling?"

"Can't I go over to Mrs. Butler's for luncheon?" she complained.
"They're going to have chicken."

"So are we," said he, pointing to the eggs.

"I want to go," said Phoebe, stubbornly.

He coloured. "Don't you want to stay home and eat what daddy has
cooked?" he asked, rather plaintively.

"I want to go."

He could only resort to bribery. "And daddy'll take you down to see
the nickel show as soon as we've finished," he offered. The child's
face brightened.

Here Annie interposed.

"She can't go to see them nickel shows; Miss Duluth won't stand for
it. She's give me strict orders."

"I'll take good care of her----" began Phoebe's father.

"Miss Duluth's afraid of diphtheria and scarlet fever," said Annie,
resolutely, as she poured out a glass of milk for him.

"Not likely to be any diphtheria this time of year," he began again,
spurred by the kick Phoebe planted on his kneecap.

"Well, orders is orders. What Miss Duluth says goes."

"Ah, come now, Annie----"

"Say, do you want her to ketch scarlet fever and die?" demanded the
nurse, putting the bottle down and glaring at him with a look of mixed
commiseration and scorn.

"Good Heavens, no!" he ejaculated. The very thought of it brought a
gush of cold water to his mouth.

"Well, take her to see it if you must, but don't blame me. She's your
kid," said Annie, meanly, with victory assured.

"Make her say 'Yes,'" urged Phoebe, in a loud whisper.

He hedged. "Do you want to have the scarlet fever?" he asked,

"Yes," said Phoebe. "And measles, too."

The sound of heavy footsteps on the back porch put an end to the
matter for the time being. Even Phoebe was diverted.

Bridget had come back. A little ahead of her usual schedule, too,
which was food for apprehension. Usually she took the whole day off
when she left "for good and all." Never before in the history of her
connection with Miss Duluth's menage had she returned so promptly.
Involuntarily the master of the house glanced out of the window to see
if a rain had blown up. The sun was shining brightly. It wasn't the

The banging of the outer door to the kitchen caused him to jump ever
so slightly and to cast a glance of inquiry at Annie, who altered her
original course and moved toward the sitting-room door. In the kitchen
a perfectly innocent skillet crashed into the sink with a vigour that
was more than ominous.

A moment later Bridget appeared in the door. She wore her best hat and
gloves and the dress she always went to mass in. The light of battle
was in her eye.

"We--we thought we wouldn't wait, Bridget," said Mr.--er--What's-His-Name,
quickly. "You never come back till six or seven, you know, so----"

"Who's been monkeyin' wid my kitchen?" demanded Bridget. She started
to unbutton one of her gloves and the movement was so abrupt and so
suggestive that he got up from his chair in such a hurry that he
overturned it.

"Somebody had to get lunch," he began.

"I wasn't sp'akin' to you," said Bridget, glaring past him at Annie.

He gulped suddenly. For the second time that day his eyes blazed.
Things seemed to be dancing before them.

"Well, I'm speaking to you!" he shouted, banging the table with his
clenched fist.

"What!" squealed Bridget, staggering back in astonishment.

He remembered Phoebe.

"You'd better run over to the Butlers', Phoebe, and have lunch," he
said, his voice trembling in spite of himself. "Run along lively

Bridget was still staring at him like one bereft of her senses when
Phoebe scrambled down from her chair and raced out of the room. He
turned upon the cook.

"What do you mean by coming in here and speaking to me in that
manner?" he demanded, shrilly.

"Great God above!" gasped Bridget weakly. She dropped her glove. Her
eyes were blinking.

"And why weren't you here to get lunch?" he continued, ruthlessly.
"What do we pay you for?"

Bridget forgot her animosity toward Annie. "What do yez think o'
that?" she muttered, addressing the nursemaid.

"Get back to the kitchen," ordered he.

Cook had recovered herself by this time. Her broad face lost its stare
and a deep scowl, with fiery red background, spread over her features.
She imposed her huge figure a step or two farther into the room.

"Phat's that?" she demanded.

She weighed one hundred and ninety and was nearly six feet tall. He
was barely five feet five and could not have tipped the beam at one
hundred and twenty-five without his winter suit and overcoat. He moved
back a corresponding step or two.

"Don't argue," he said, hurriedly.

"Argue?" she snorted. "Phy, ye little shrimp, who are you to be
talkin' back to me? For two cents I'd----"

"You are discharged!" he cried, hastily putting a chair in her
path--but wisely retaining a grip on it.

She threw back her head and laughed, loudly, insultingly. Her broad
hands, now gloveless and as red as broiled lobsters, found
resting-places on her hips. He allowed his gaze to take them in with
one hurried, sweeping glance. They were as big and as menacing as a

"We'll discuss it when you're sober," he made haste to say, trying to
wink amiably.

"So help me Mike, I haven't touched a----" she began, but caught
herself in time. "So yez discharge me, do yez?" she shouted.

"I understood you had quit, anyway."

"Well, me fine little man, I'll see yez further before I'll quit now.
I came back this minute to give notice, but I wouldn't do it now for
twenty-five dollars."

"You don't have to give notice. You're discharged. Good-bye." He
started for the sitting-room.

She slapped the dining-table with one of her big hands. The dishes
bounced into the air, and so did he.

"I'll give this much notice to yez," she roared, "and ye'll bear it in
mind as long as yez stay in the same house wid me. I don't take no
orders from the likes of you. I was employed by Miss Duluth. I cook
for her, I get me pay from her, and I'll not be fired by anybody but
her. Do yez get that? I'd as soon take orders from the kid as from
you, ye little pinhead. Who are yez anyhow? Ye're nobody. Begorry, I
don't even know yer name. Discharge me! Phy, phy, ye couldn't
discharge a firecracker. What's that?"

"I--I didn't say anything," he gasped.

"Ye'd better not."

"I shall speak to--to Miss Duluth about this," he muttered, very red
in the face.

"Do!" she advised, sarcastically. "She'll tell yez to mind yer own
business, the same as I do. The idee! Talkin' about firing me! Fer the
love av Mike, Annie, what do yez think av the nerve? Phy Miss Duluth
kapes him on the place I can't fer the life av me see. She's that
tinder-hearted she----"

But he had bolted through the door, slamming it after him. As he
reached the bottom of the stairs leading to his bedroom the door
opened again and Annie called out to him:--

"Are you through lunch, sir?"

He was halfway up the steps before he could frame an answer. Tears of
rage and humiliation were in his baby-blue eyes.

"Tell her to go to the devil," he sputtered.

As he disappeared at the bend in the stairs he distinctly heard Annie

"I can see myself doing it--not."

For an hour he paced the floor of his little bed-chamber, fuming and
swearing to himself in a mild, impotent fashion--and in some dread of
the door. Such words and sentences as these fell from his
lips:--"Nobody!" "Keeps me on the place!" "Because she's
tender-hearted!" "I will fire her!" "Can't talk back to me!" "Damned
Irisher!" And so on and so forth until he quite wore himself out. Then
he sat down at the window and let the far-away look slip back into his
troubled blue eyes. They began to smart, but he did not blink them.

Phoebe found him there at four when she came in for her nap. He
promised to play croquet with her.

Dinner was served promptly that evening, and it was the best dinner
Bridget had cooked in a month.

"That little talk of mine did some good," said he to himself, as he
selected a toothpick and went in to read "Nicholas Nickleby" till
bedtime. "They can't fool with me."

He was reading Dickens. His wife had given him a complete set for
Christmas. To keep him occupied, she said.



Nellie Duluth had an apartment up near the Park, the upper end of the
Park, in fact, and to the east of it. She went up there, she said, so
that she could be as near as possible to her husband and daughter.
Besides, she hated taking the train at the Grand Central on Sundays.
She always went to One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street in her electric
brougham. It didn't seem so far to Tarrytown from One Hundred and
Twenty-fifth. In making her calculations Nellie always went through
the process of subtracting forty-two from one-twenty-five, seldom
correctly. She had no difficulty in taking the two from the five, but
it wasn't so simple when it came to taking four from two with one to
carry over. It was the one that confused her. For the life of her she
couldn't see what became of it. Figures of that sort were not in her

Nellie's career had been meteoric. She literally had leaped from the
chorus into the rôle of principal comédienne--one of those pranks of
fortune that cannot be explained or denied. She was one of the
"Jack-in-the-Box" girls in a big New York production. On the opening
night, when the lid of her box flew open and she was projected into
plain view, she lost her bearings and missed the tiny platform in
coming down. To save herself from an ignominious tumble almost to the
footlights she hopped off the edge of her box, where she had been
"teetering" helplessly, and did a brief but exceedingly graceful
little "toe spin," hopping back into the box an instant later with all
the agility of a scared rabbit. She expected "notice" from the stage
manager for her inexcusable slip.

But the spectators liked it. They thought it was in the play. She was
so pretty, so sprightly, so graceful, and so astoundingly modest that
they wanted more of her. After the performance no fewer than a dozen
men asked the producer why he didn't give that little girl with the
black hair more of a chance.

The next night she was commanded to repeat the trick. Then they
permitted her to do it over in the "encore." Before the end of a
fortnight she was doing a dance with the comedian, exchanging lines
with him. Then a little individual song-and-dance specialty was
introduced. At the close of the engagement on Broadway she announced
that she would not sign for the next season unless given a "ripping"
part and the promise to be featured.

That was three years ago. Now she was the feature in the big, musical
comedy success, "Up in the Air" and had New York at her feet. The
critics admitted that she saved the "piece" in spite of composer and
librettist. Some one is always doing that very thing for the poor
wretches, Heaven pity them.

Nellie was not only pretty and sprightly, but as clever as they make
them. She never drew the short straw. She had a brain that was quite
as active as her feet. It was not a very big brain; for that matter,
her feet were tiny. She had the good sense to realise that her brain
would last longer than her feet, so she got as much for them as she
could while the applause lasted. She drove shrewd bargains with the
managers and shrewder ones with Wall Street admirers, who experienced
a slim sense of gratification in being able to give her tips on the
market, with the assurance that they would see to it that she didn't

She put her money into diamonds as fast as she got it. Some one in the
profession had told her that diamonds were safer than banks or
railroad bonds. She could get her interest by looking at them and she
could always sell them for what she paid for them.

The card on the door of her cosey apartment bore the name, "Miss
Nellie Duluth."

There was absolutely nothing inside or outside the flat to lead one to
suspect that there was a Mr. Duluth. A husband was the remotest figure
in her household. When the management concluded to put her name in the
play-bill, after the memorable Jack-in-the-Box leap, she was requested
to drop her married name, because it would not look well in print.

"Where were you born?" the manager had asked.


"Take Duluth for luck," said he, and Duluth it was. She changed the
baptismal name Ella to Nellie. At home in Blakeville she had been
called Eller or Ell.

Her apartment was an attractive one. Her housemaid was a treasure. She
was English and her name was Rachel. Nellie's personal maid and
dresser was French. Her name was Rebecca. When Miss Duluth and Rebecca
left the apartment to go to the theatre in the former's electric
brougham, Rachel put the place in order. So enormous was the task that
she barely had it finished when her mistress returned, tired and
sleepy, to litter it all up again with petticoats, stockings, roses,
orchids, lobster shells, and cigarette stubs. More often than
otherwise Nellie brought home girls from the theatre to spend the
night with her. Poor things, they were chorus girls, just as she had
been, and they had so far to go. Besides, they served as excuses for
declining unwelcome invitations to supper. Be that as it may, Rachel
had to clean up after them, finding their puffs, rats, and switches in
the morning and the telephone number at their lodgings in the middle
of the night. She had her instructions to say that such young ladies
were spending the night with Miss Duluth.

"If you don't believe it, call up Miss Duluth's number in the
telephone book," she always concluded, as if the statement needed

Nellie had not been in Tarrytown for a matter of three weeks; what
with rehearsals, revisions, consultations, and suppers, she just
couldn't get around to it. The next day after Harvey's inglorious
stand before Bridget she received a letter from him setting forth the
whole affair in a peculiarly vivid light. He said that something would
have to be done about Bridget and advised her to come out on the
earliest day possible to talk it over with him. He confessed to a
hesitancy about discharging the cook, recalling the trouble she had
experienced in getting her away from a neighbour in the first place.
But Bridget was drinking and quarrelling with Annie and using strong
language in the presence of Phoebe. He would have discharged her long
ago if it hadn't been for the fear of worrying her during rehearsals
and all that. She wasn't to be bothered with trifling household
squabbles at such an important time as this. No, sir! Not if he could
help it. But, just the same, he thought she'd better come out and talk
it over before Bridget took it into her head to poison some one.

"I really, truly must go up to Tarrytown next Sunday," said Nellie to
the select company supping in her apartment after the performance that
night. "Harvey's going to discharge the cook."

"Who is Harvey?" inquired the big blond man who sat beside her.

"My teenty-weenty hubby," said she, airily.

There were two other men besides the big blond in the party, and the
wife of one of them--a balance wheel.

The big blond man stared at his hostess. He expected her to laugh at
her own joke, but she did not. The others were discussing the relative
merits of the Packard and Peerless cars. He waited a moment and then
leaned closer to Nellie's ear.

"Are you in earnest?" he asked, in low tones.

"About what, Mr. Fairfax?"

"Hubby. Have you got one?"

"Of course I have. Had him for six years. Why?"

He swallowed hard. A wave of red crept up over his jowl and to the
very roots of his hair.

"I've known you for over a month, Nellie," he said, a hard light in
his fishy grey eyes, "and you've never mentioned this husband of
yours. What's the game?"

"It's a guessing game," she said, coolly. "You might guess what I'm
wearing this little plain gold ring on my left hand for. It's there
where everybody can see it, isn't it? You just didn't take the trouble
to look, Mr. Fairfax. Women don't wear wedding rings for a joke, let
me tell you that."

"I never noticed it," he said, huskily. "The truth is, it never
entered my head to think you could be a married woman."

"Thought I was divorced, eh?"

"Well, divorces are not uncommon, you know. You girls seem to get rid
of husbands quite as easily as you pick them up."

"Lord bless you," said Nellie, in no way offended, "I have never done
anything to give Harvey cause for divorce, and I'm sure he's never
done the tiniest thing out of the way. He never treats me cruelly, he
never beats me, he doesn't get tight and break things up, and he never
looks at other women. He's the nicest little husband ever."

She instructed Rachel to fill up Mr. Fairfax's glass and pass the ripe
olives. He was watching her, an odd expression in his eyes. A big,
smooth-faced man of fifty was he, fat from high living,
self-indulgence, and indolence, immaculately dressed to the tips of
his toes.

"Speaking of divorce," she went on, without looking at him, "your wife
didn't have much trouble getting hers, I've heard."

It was a daring thing to say, but Nellie was from the West, where
courage and freshness of vision are regarded as the antithesis of tact
and diplomacy. Tact calls for tact. The diplomatist is powerless if
you begin shooting at him. Nellie did not work this out for herself;
she merely wanted to put him in a corner where he would have to stand
and get it over with.

Fairfax was disconcerted. He showed it. No one ever presumed to
discuss the matter with him. It was a very tender subject. His eyes

"I like your cheek," he growled.

"Don't you like to talk about it?" she inquired, innocently.

"No," he replied, curtly. "It's nobody's business, Miss Duluth."

"My, how touchy!" She shivered prettily. "I feel as if some one had
thrown a pail of ice water over me."

"We were speaking of your--this husband of yours," he said, quietly.
"Why have you never mentioned him to me? Is it quite fair?"

"It just slipped my mind," she said, in the most casual way. "Besides,
I thought you knew. My little girl is four--or is it five?"

"Where do you keep them?"

"I've got 'em in storage up at Tarrytown. That's the Sleepy Hollow
neighbourhood, isn't it? I guess that's why Harvey likes it so well."

"What is his business?"

She looked up quickly. "What is that to you, Mr. Fairfax?"

"Nothing. I am in no way interested in Mr. Duluth."

"His name isn't Duluth," she flashed, hotly. "If you are not
interested in him, let's drop the subject."

"I retract what I said. I am always interested in curiosities. What's
he like?"

"Well, he's like a gentleman, if you are really interested in
curiosities," she said.

He laughed. "By Jove, you've got a ready wit, my dear." He looked at
her reflectively, speculatively. "It's rather a facer to have you turn
out to be a married woman."

"Don't you like married women?"

"Some of 'em," he answered, coolly. "But I don't like to think of you
as married."

"Pooh!" she said, and there was a world of meaning in the way she said

"Don't you know that it means a great deal to me?" he demanded,
leaning closer and speaking in a lowered voice, tense and eager.

"Pooh!" she repeated.

He flushed again. "I cannot bear the thought of you belonging----"

She interrupted him quickly. "I wouldn't say it, if I were you."

"But I must say it. I'm in love with you, Nellie, and you know it.
Every drop of blood in my veins is crying out for you, and has

Her face had clouded. "I've asked you not to say such things to me."

He stared in amazement. "You are dreaming! I've never uttered a word
of this sort to you. What are you thinking of? This is the first time
I've said----"

Nellie was dismayed. It was the first time he had spoken to her in
that way. She stammered something about "general principles," but he
was regarding her so fixedly that her attempt at dissembling was most

"Or perhaps," said he, almost savagely, but guardedly, "you are
confusing me with some one else."

This was broad enough to demand instant resentment. She took refuge in
the opportunity.

"Do you mean to insult me, Mr. Fairfax?" she demanded, coldly, drawing
back in her chair.

He laughed harshly.

"Is there any one else?" he asked, gripping one of her small hands in
his great fist.

She jerked the hand away. "I don't like that, Mr. Fairfax. Please
remember it. Don't ever do it again. You have no right to ask such
questions of me, either."

"I'm a fool to have asked," he said, gruffly. "You'd be a fool to
answer. We'll let it go at that. So that's your wedding ring, eh? Odd
that I shouldn't have noticed it before."

She was angry with herself, so she vented the displeasure on him.

"You never took much notice of your wife's wedding ring, if tales are

"Please, Miss Duluth, I----"

"Oh, I read all about the case," she ran on. "You must have hated the
notoriety. I suppose most of the things she charged you with were

He pulled his collar away from his throat.

"Is it too hot in the room?" she inquired, innocently.

His grin was a sickly one. "Do you always make it so hot?" he asked.
"This is my first visit to your little paradise, you must remember.
Don't make it too hot for me."

"It isn't paradise when it gets too hot," was her safe comment.

Fairfax's wife had divorced him a year or two before. The referee was
not long in deciding the case in her favour. As they were leaving
Chambers, Fairfax's lawyer had said to his client:--"Well, we've saved
everything but honour." And Fairfax had replied:--"You would have
saved that, too, if I had given you a free rein." From which it may be
inferred that Fairfax was something of a man despite his lawyer.

He was one of those typical New Yorkers who were Pittsburgers or
Kansas Citians in the last incarnation--which dated back eight or ten
years, at the most, and which doesn't make any difference on
Broadway--with more money than he was used to and a measureless
capacity for spending. His wife had married him when money was an
object to him. When he got all the money he wanted he went to New York
and began a process of elevating the theatre by lending his presence
to the stage door. The stage declined to be elevated without the aid
of an automobile, so he also lent that, and went soaring. His wife
further elevated the stage by getting a divorce from him.

"This is my first time here," he went on, "but it isn't to be the
last, I hope. What good taste you have, Nellie! It's a corking little

"I just can't go out to Tarrytown every night," she explained. "I must
have a place in town."

"By the way," he said, more at ease than he had been, "you spoke of
going to Tarrytown on Sunday. Let me take you out in the motor. I'd
like to see this husband chap of yours and the little girl, if----"

"Nay, nay," she said, shaking her head. "I never mix my public affairs
with my private ones. You are a public affair, if there ever was one.
No, little Nellie will go out on the choo-choos." She laughed
suddenly, as if struck by a funny thought. Then, very seriously, she
said:--"I don't know what Harvey would do to you if he caught you with

He stiffened. "Jealous, eh?"


"A fire-eater?"

"He's a perfect devil," said Nellie, with the straightest face

Fairfax smiled in a superior sort of way, flecked the ashes from his
cigarette, and leaned back in his chair the better to contemplate the
charming creature at his side. He thoroughly approved of jealous
husbands. The fellow who isn't jealous, he argued, is the hardest to
trifle with.

"I suppose you adore him," he said, with a thinly veiled sneer.

"'He's the idol of me 'art,'" she sang, in gentle mimicry.

"Lucky dog," he whispered, leering upon her. "And how trustful he is,
leaving you here in town to face temptation alone while he hibernates
in Tarrytown."

"He trusts me," she flashed.

"I am the original 'trust buster,'" he laughed.

Nellie arose abruptly. She stretched her arms and yawned. The trio
opposite gave over disputing about automobiles, and both men looked at
their watches.

"Go home," said Nellie. "I'm tired. We've got a rehearsal to-morrow."

No one took offence. They understood her ways.

Fairfax gave her his light topcoat to hold while he slipped into it.
She was vaguely surprised that he did not seek to employ the old trick
of slipping an arm about her during the act. Somehow she felt a little
bit more of respect for him.

"Don't forget to-morrow night," he said, softly, at the door. "Just
the four of us, you know. I'll come back for you after the play."

"Remember, it has to be in the main restaurant," she warned him. "I
like to see the people."

He smiled. "Just as you like."

She laughed to herself while Rebecca was preparing her for bed,
tickled by the thought of the "fire-eating" Harvey. In bed, however,
with the lights out, she found that sleep would not come as readily as
she had expected. Instead her mind was vividly awake and full of
reflections. She was thinking of the two in Tarrytown asleep for hours
and snugly complacent. Her thoughts suddenly leaped back to the old
days in Blakeville when she was the Town Marshal's daughter and he the
all-important dispenser of soft drinks at Davis'. How she had hung on
his every word, quip, or jest! How she had looked forward to the
nights when he was to call! How she hated the other girls who divided
with her the attentions of this popular young beau! And how different
everything was now in these days of affluence and adulation! She
caught herself counting how many days it had been since she had seen
her husband, the one-time hero of her dreams. What a home-body he was!
What a change there was in him! In the old Blakeville days he was the
liveliest chap in town. He was never passive for more than a minute at
a stretch. Going, gadding, frivolling, flirting--that was the old
Harvey. And now look at him!

Those old days were far, far away, so far that she was amazed that she
was able to recall them. She had sung in the church choir and at all
of the local entertainments. The praise of the Blakeville _Patriot_
was as sweet incense to her, the placid applause of the mothers'
meetings more riotous than anything she could imagine in these days
when audiences stamped and clapped and whistled till people in the
streets outside the theatre stopped and envied those who were inside.

And then the days of actual courtship; she tried to recall how and
when they began. She married Harvey in the little church on the hill.
Everybody in town was there. She could close her eyes now and see
Harvey in the new checked suit he had ordered from Chicago especially
for the occasion, a splendid innovation that caused more than one
Lotharial eye to gleam with envy.

Then came the awakening. The popular drug clerk, for all his show of
prosperity and progress, had not saved a cent in all his years of
labour, nor was there any likelihood of his salary ever being large
enough to supply the wants of two persons. They went to live with his
mother, and it was not long before he was wearing the checked suit for
"everyday use" as well as for Sunday.

She was stagestruck. For that matter, so was he. They were members of
the town dramatic club and always had important parts in the plays. An
instructor came from Chicago to drill the "members of the cast," as
they were designated by the committee in charge. It was this
instructor who advised Nellie to go to Chicago for a course in the
school he represented. He assured her she would have no difficulty in
getting on the stage.

Harvey procured a position in a confectioner's establishment in State
Street and she went to work for a photographer, taking her lessons in
dancing, singing, and elocution at odd hours. She was pretty,
graceful, possessed of a lovely figure not above the medium height;
dark-haired and vivacious after a fashion of her own. As her pleased
husband used to say, she "got a job on the stage before you could say
Jack Robinson." He tried to get into the chorus with her, but the
management said, "No husbands need apply."

That was the beginning of her stage career, such a few years ago that
she was amazed when she counted back. It seemed like ten years, not

She soared; he dropped, and, as there was no occasion for rousing
himself, according to the point of view established by both of them,
he settled back into his natural groove and never got beyond his
soda-fountain days in retrospect.

The next night after the little supper at Nellie's a most astonishing
thing happened. A smallish man with baby-blue eyes appeared at the
box-office window, gave his name, and asked for a couple of good seats
in Miss Duluth's name. The ticket-seller had him repeat the name and
then gruffly told him to see the company manager.

"I'm Miss Duluth's husband," said the smallish man, shrinking. The
tall, flashily good-looking man at his elbow straightened up and
looked at him with a doubtful expression in his eyes. He was Mr.
Butler, Harvey's next-door neighbour in Tarrytown. "You must be new

"Been here two years," said the ticket-seller, glaring at him. "See
the manager."

"Where is he?"

"At his hotel, I suppose. Please move up. You're holding the line

At that moment the company's press representative sauntered by.
Nellie's husband, very red in the face and humiliated, hailed him, and
in three minutes was being conducted to a seat in the nineteenth row,
three removed from the aisle, followed by his Tarrytown neighbour, on
whose face there was a frozen look of disgust.

"We'll go back after the second act," said Harvey, struggling with his
hat, which wouldn't go in the rack sideways. "I'll arrange everything

"Rotten seats," said Mr. Butler, who had expected the front row or a

"The scenery is always better from the back of the house," explained
his host, uncomfortably.

"Damn the scenery!" said Mr. Butler. "I never look at it."

"Wait till you see the setting in the second----" began Harvey, with
forced enthusiasm, when the lights went down and the curtain was
whisked upward, revealing a score of pretty girls representing merry
peasants, in costumes that cost a hundred dollars apiece, and
glittering with diamond rings.

Mr. Butler glowered through the act. He couldn't see a thing, he

"I should think the husband of the star could get the best seats in
the house," he said when the act was half-over, showing where his
thoughts were.

"That press agent hates me," said Harvey, showing where his had been.

"Hates you? In God's name, why?"

"I've had to call him down a couple of times," said Harvey,
confidentially. "Good and hard, too."

"I suppose that's why he makes you take a back seat," said Butler,

"Well, what can a fellow do?" complained the other. "If I could have
seen Mr.--"

A man sitting behind tapped him on the shoulder.

"Will you be good enough to stop talking while the curtain's up?" he
requested, in a state of subdued belligerency.

Harvey subsided without even so much as a glance to see what the
fellow was like.

After the act Butler suggested a drink, which was declined.

"I don't drink," explained Harvey.

His companion snorted. "I'd like to know what kind of a supper we're
going to have if you don't drink. Be a sport!"

"Oh, don't you worry about that," said Harvey. "Ginger ale livens me
up as much as anything. I used to simply pour the liquor down me. I
had to give it up. It was getting the best of me. You should have seen
the way I was carrying on out there in Blakeville before----"

"Well, come out and watch me take a drink," interrupted Butler,
wearily. "It may brace you up."

Harvey looked helplessly at the three ladies over whom they would have
to climb in order to reach the aisle and shook his head.

"We're going out after the next act. Let's wait till then."

"Give me my seat check," said Butler, shortly. "I'm going out."
Receiving the check, he trampled his way out, leaving Harvey to
ruminate alone.

The joint presence of these two gentlemen of Tarrytown in the city
requires an explanation. You may remember that Nellie's husband
resented Butler's habit of ignoring him. Well, there had come a time
when Butler had thought it advisable to get down from his high horse.
His wife had gone to Cleveland to visit her mother for a week or two.
It was a capital time for him to get better acquainted with Miss
Duluth, to whom he had been in the habit of merely doffing his hat in

The morning of his wife's departure, which was no more than eight
hours prior to their appearance at the box office, he made it a point
to hail Harvey in a most jovial manner as he stood on his side porch,
suggesting that he come over and see the playroom he had fixed up for
his children and Phoebe.

"We ought to be more neighbourly," he said, as he shook hands with
Harvey at the steps. Later on, as they smoked in the library, he
mentioned the fact that he had not had the pleasure of seeing Miss
Duluth in the new piece.

Harvey was exalted. When any one was so friendly as all this to him he
quite lost his head in the clouds.

"We'll go in and see it together," said he, "and have a bit of supper

"That's very good of you," said Butler, who was gaining his point.

"When does Mrs. Butler return?" asked Harvey.

Butler was startled. "Week or ten days."

"Well, just as soon as she's back we'll have a little family

His neighbour shook his head. "My wife's in mourning," he said,

"In mourning?" said Harvey, who remembered her best in rainbow

"Yes. Her father."


"Certainly," said Butler, a trifle bewildered. He coughed and changed
the current of conversation. It was not at all necessary to say that
his wife's father had been dead eleven years. "I thought something of
going in to the theatre to-night," he went on. "Just to kill time. It
will be very lonely for me, now that my dear wife's away."

Harvey fell into the trap. "By jinks!" he exclaimed, "what's the
matter with me going in, too? I haven't been in town at night for six
weeks or more."

Butler's black eyes gleamed.

"Excellent! We'll see a good play, have a bite to eat, and no one will
know what gay dogs we are." He laughed and slapped Harvey on the

"I'll get seats for Nellie's show if you'd like to see it," said
Harvey, just as enthusiastically, except that he slapped the arm of
the chair and peeled his knuckle on a knob he hadn't seen.


"And say, I'd like you to know my wife better, Mr. Butler. If you
don't object I'll ask her to go out with us after the show for
something to eat."

"Permit me to remind you, Mr.--Mr.--er----"

"Call me Harvey," said the owner of the name.

"----to remind you that this is my party. I will play host and be
honoured if your wife will condescend to join me--and you--at any hour
and place she chooses."

"You are most kind," said Harvey, who had been mentally calculating
the three one-dollar bills in his pocket.

And that is how they came to be in the theatre that night.

The curtain was up when Butler returned. He had had a drink.

"Did you send a note back to your wife?" he asked as he sat down.

"What for?"

"To tell her we are here," hissed the other.

"No, I didn't," said Harvey, calmly. "I want to surprise her."

Butler said something under his breath and was so mad during the
remainder of the act that everybody on the stage seemed to be dressed
in red.

Miss Duluth did not have to make a change of costume between the
second and third acts. It was then that she received visitors in her
dressing-room. She had a sandwich and a glass of milk at that time,
but was perfectly willing to send across the alley for bottled beer if
her callers cared to take anything so commonplace as that.

She was sitting in her room, quite alone, with her feet cocked upon a
trunk, nibbling a sandwich and thinking of the supper Fairfax was to
give later on in the evening, when the manager of the company came
tapping at her door. People had got in the habit of walking in upon
her so unexpectedly that she issued an order for every one to knock
and then made the injunction secure by slipping the bolt. Rebecca went
to the door.

"Mr. Fairfax is here, mademoiselle," she announced a moment later.
"Mr. Ripton has brought him back and he wants to come in." Except for
the word "mademoiselle" Rebecca spoke perfect English.

Nellie took one foot down and then, thinking quickly, put it up again.
It wouldn't hurt Fairfax, she argued, to encounter a little

"Tell Ripton I'm expecting some one else," she said, at random. "If
Mr. Fairfax wants to wait in the wings, I'll see him there."

But she had not the slightest inkling of what was in store for her in
the shape of visitors.

At that very moment Harvey and his friend were at the stage door, the
former engaged in an attempt at familiarity with the smileless

"Hello, Bob; how goes it?" said he, strutting up to the door.

Bob's bulk blocked the passage.

"Who d'you want to see?" he demanded, gruffly.

"Who d'you suppose?" asked Harvey, gaily.

"Don't get fresh," snapped the door man, making as if to slam the iron
door in his face. Suddenly he recognised the applicant. "Oh, it's you,
is it?"

"You must be going blind, Bobby," said Harvey, in a fine effort at
geniality. "I'm taking a friend in to show him how it's done. My
friend, Mr. Butler, Bob."

Mr. Butler stepped on Harvey's toes and said something under his

"Is Miss Duluth expecting you, Mr.--er--Mr.--Is she?" asked old Bob.

"No. I'm going to surprise her."

Bob looked over his shoulder hastily.

"If I was you," he said, "I'd send my card in. She's--she's nervous
and a shock might upset her."

"She hasn't got a nerve in her body," said Harvey. "Come on, Butler.
Mind you don't fall over the braces or get hit by the scenery."

They climbed a couple of steps and were in the midst of a small,
bustling army of scene shifters and property men. Old Bob scratched
his head and muttered something about "surprises."

Three times Harvey tried to lead the way across the stage. Each time
they were turned back by perspiring, evil-minded stage hands who
rushed at them with towering, toppling canvases. Once Harvey nearly
sat down when an unobserving hand jerked a strip of carpet from under
his feet. A grand staircase almost crushed Mr. Butler on its way into
place, and some one who seemed to be in authority shouted to him as he

"Don't knock that pe-des-tal over, you pie face!"

At last they got safely over, and Harvey boldly walked up to the
star's dressing-room.

"We're all right now," he said to Butler, with a perceptible quaver in
his voice. "Just you wait while I go in and tell her I am here."

Butler squeezed himself into a narrow place, where he seemed safe
from death, mopped his brow, and looked like a lost soul.

Two men, sitting off to the left, saw Harvey try the locked door and
then pound rather imperatively.

"Good Lord!" exclaimed one of them, staring.
"It's--it's--er--What's-His-Name, Nellie's husband! Well, of all the

"That?" gasped Fairfax.

"What in thunder is he doing here this time o' night! Great Scott,
he'll spoil everything," groaned Ripton, the manager.

Harvey pounded again with no response. Nellie was sitting inside,
mentally picturing the eagerness that caused Fairfax to come
a-pounding like that. She had decided not to answer.

Ripton called a stage hand.

"Tell him that Nellie isn't seeing anybody to-night," he whispered.
"Do it quick. Get him out of here."

"Shall I throw him out, sir?" demanded the man, with a wry face. "Poor
little chap!"

"Just tell him that Nellie will see him for a few minutes after the
play." Then, as the man moved away:--"They've got no business having
husbands, Mr. Fairfax. Damned nuisances."

Fairfax had his hand to his lips. He was thinking of Nellie's "perfect

"I fancy he doesn't cut much of a figure in her life," said he, in a
tone of relief.

In the meantime the stage hand had accosted Harvey, who had been
joined by the anxious Mr. Butler.

"Miss Duluth ain't seeing any one to-night, sir," he said. "She gave
strict orders. No one, sir."

Harvey's blue eyes were like delft saucers. "She'll see me," he said.
"I'm her husband, you know."

"I know that, sir. But the order goes, just the same."

"Is she ill?"

"Yes, sir. Very ill," said the man, quickly.

Butler was gnawing his moustache.

"Rubbish!" he said, sharply. "Come away, you. She's got a visitor in
there. Can't you see the lay of the land?"

The little husband turned cold, then hot.

"A--a man visitor?"

"Certainly," snapped the aggrieved Mr. Butler. "What else?"

Without another word, Harvey brushed past the stage hand and began
rattling the door violently.

"Nellie!" he shouted, his lips close to the paint.

In a second the door flew open and the astonished actress stood there
staring at him as if he were a ghost. He pushed the door wide open and
strode into the dressing-room, Nellie falling back before him. The
room was empty save for the dismayed Rebecca.

"There!" he exclaimed, turning to address Butler in the doorway, but
Butler was not there. The stage hand had got in his way.

"Wha--what, in the name of Heaven, are you doing here, Harvey?" gasped

"How are you, Nell? Nothing serious, I hope."

"Serious?" she murmured, swallowing hard, her wits in the wind.

"Ain't you ill?"

"Never was better in my life," she cried, seeing what she thought was
light. "Who brought you to town with such a tale as that? I'm fine.
You've been fooled. If I were you, I'd take the first train out and
try to find out who----"

"It's all right, Butler," he called out. "Come right in. Hello! Where
are you?" He stepped to the door and looked out. Mr. Butler was being
conducted toward the stage door by the burly stage hand. He was trying
to expostulate. "Hi! What you doing?" shouted Harvey, darting after
them. "Let my friend alone!"

Up came Ripton in haste.

"O'Brien, what do you mean? Take your hand off that gentleman's
shoulder at once. He is a friend of Mr.--Mr.--ahem! A terrible
mistake, sir."

Then followed a moment of explanation, apology, and introduction,
after which Harvey fairly dragged his exasperated friend back to
Nellie's room.

She was still standing in the middle of the room trying to collect her

"You remember Mr. Butler, deary," panted Harvey, waving his hand.
Nellie gasped in the affirmative.

At that instant Fairfax's big frame appeared in the door. He was
grinning amiably. She glared at him helplessly for a moment.

"Won't you introduce me to your husband?" he said, suavely.

Nellie found her tongue and the little man shook hands with the big

"Glad to meet you," said Harvey.

"I am glad to see you," said Fairfax, warmly.

"My friend Butler," introduced Harvey.

Mr. Butler was standing very stiff and pallid, with one knee propped
against a chair. There was a glaze over his eyes. Fairfax grinned

"Oh, Butler and I are old acquaintances," said he. "Wife out of town,

"Sure," said Harvey, before Butler could reply. "And we're in town to
see the sights. Eh, Butler?"

Butler muttered something that sounded uncommonly like "confounded
ass," and began fanning himself with his derby hat and gloves and
walking-stick, all of which happened to be in the same hand.

"We're going to take Nellie--I mean Miss Duluth--out for supper after
the play," went on Harvey, glibly. "We'll be waiting for you, dearie.
Mr. Butler is doing the honours. By the way, Butler, I think it would
be nicer if Nellie could suggest an odd lady for us. We ought to have
four. Do you know of any one, Nell? By George, we've got to have a
pretty one, though. We insist on that, eh, Butler?" He jabbed Butler
in the ribs and winked.

"Don't do that!" said the unhappy Mr. Butler, dropping his stick. It
rolled under a table and he seized the opportunity thus providentially
presented. He went down after it and was lost to view for a
considerable length, of time, hiding himself as the ostrich does when
it buries its head in the sand and imagines it is completely out of

Nellie's wits were returning. She was obliged to do some rapid and
clever thinking. Fairfax was watching her with a sardonic smile on his
lips. Ripton, the manager, peered over his shoulder and winked

"Oh, Harvey dear," she cried, plaintively, "how disappointed I am. I
have had strict orders from the doctor to go straight home to bed
after every performance. I really can't go with you and Mr. Butler
to-night. I wish you had telephoned or something. I could have told

Harvey looked distressed. "What does the doctor say it is?"

[Illustration: Copyright, 1911, by Dodd, Mead & Company
Fairfax was sitting on a trunk, a satisfied smile on his lips]

"My heart," she said, solemnly.

"Don't you think you could go out for a--just a sandwich and a bottle
of beer?" he pleaded, feeling that he had wantonly betrayed his
friendly neighbour.

"Couldn't think of it," she said. "The nurse will be here at eleven.
I'll just have to go home. He insists on absolute quiet for me and I'm
on a dreadful diet." A bright thought struck her. "Do you know, I have
to keep my door locked so as not to be startled by----"

The sharp, insistent voice of the callboy broke in on her flow of

"There! I'll have to go on in a second. The curtain's going up.
Good-night, gentlemen. Good-night, Harvey dear. Give me a kiss."

She pecked at his cheek with her carmine lips.

"Just half an hour at some quiet little restaurant," he was saying
when she fled past him toward the stage.

"Sorry, dear," she called, then stopped to speak to Mr. Butler.
"Thank you so much, Mr. Butler. Won't you repeat the invitation some
time later on? So good of you to bring Harvey in. Bring Mrs. Butler in
some night, and if I'm better we will have a jolly little spree, just
the four of us. Will you do it?"

She beamed on him. Butler bowed very low and said:--

"It will give me great pleasure, Miss Duluth."

"Good-night, then."


When she returned to her dressing-room later on, she found Fairfax
there, sitting on a trunk, a satisfied smile on his lips. She left the
door open.

Mr. Ripton conducted the two men across to the stage door, leading
them through the narrow space back of the big drop. Chorus girls threw
kisses at Harvey; they all knew him. He winked blandly at Butler, who
was staring straight before him.

"A great life, eh?" said Harvey, meaning that which surrounded them.
They were in the alley outside the stage door.

"I'm going to catch the ten-twenty," said Butler, jamming his hat down

"Ain't you going to see the last act?" demanded the other, dismayed.

Butler lifted his right hand to heaven, and, shaking it the better to
express the intensity of his declaration, remarked:--

"I hope somebody will kick me all over town if I'm ever caught being
such a damned fool as this again. I honestly hope it! I've been made
ridiculous--a blithering fool! Why, you--you----" He paused in his
rage, a sudden wave of pity assailing him. "By George, I can't help
feeling sorry for you! Good-night."

Harvey hurried after him.

"I guess I'll take it, too. That gets us out at eleven-thirty. We can
get a bite to eat in the station, I guess."

He had to almost trot to keep pace with Butler crossing to the Grand
Central. Seated side by side in the train, and after he had recovered
his breath a bit, he said:--

"Confound it, I forgot to ask Nellie if it will be wise for her to
come out on Sunday. The heart's a mighty bad thing, Butler."

"It certainly is," said Butler, with unction.

At the station in Tarrytown he said "Good-night" very gruffly and
hurried off to jump into the only cab at the platform. He had heard
all about Blakeville and the wild life Harvey had led there, and he
was mad enough to fight.

"Good-night, Mr. Butler," said Harvey, as the hack drove off.

He walked up the hill.



He found the nursemaid up and waiting for him. Phoebe had a "dreadful
throat" and a high temperature. It had come on very suddenly, it
seems, and if Annie's memory served her right it was just the way
diphtheria began. The little girl had been thrashing about in the bed
and whimpering for "daddy" since eight o'clock. His heart sank like
lead, to a far deeper level than it had dropped with the base
desertion of Butler. Filled with remorse, he ran upstairs without
taking off his hat or overcoat. The feeling of resentment toward
Butler was lost in this new, overpowering sense of dread; the
discovery of his own lamentable unfitness for "high life" expeditions
faded into nothingness in the face of this possible catastrophe. What
if Phoebe were to die? He would be to blame. He remembered feeling
that he should not have left her that evening. It had been a
premonition, and this was to be the price of his folly.

At three in the morning he went over to rouse the doctor, all the time
thinking that, even if he were capable of forgiving himself for
Phoebe's death, Nellie would always hold him responsible. The doctor
refused to come before eight o'clock, and slammed the door in the
disturber's face.

"If she dies," he said to himself over and over again as he trudged
homeward, "I'll kill that beast of a doctor. I'll tear his heart

The doctor did not come till nine-thirty. They never do. He at once
said it was a bad attack of tonsilitis, and began treatment on the
stomach. He took a culture and said he would let Mr.--Mr.
What's-His-Name know whether there was anything diphtheritic. In the
meantime, "Take good care of her."

Saturday morning a loving note came from Nellie, deploring the fact
that she couldn't come out on Sunday after all. The doctor said she
must save her strength. She instructed Harvey to dismiss Bridget and
get another cook at once. But Harvey's heart had melted toward
Bridget. The big Irishwoman was the soul of kindness now that her
employer was in distress.

About nine o'clock that morning a man came up and tacked a placard on
the door and informed the household that it was in quarantine. Harvey
went out and looked at the card. Then he slunk back into Phoebe's room
and sat down, very white and scared.

"Do you think she'll die?" he asked of the doctor when that gentleman
called soon afterward. He was shivering like a leaf.

"Not necessarily," said the man of medicine, calmly. "Diphtheria isn't
what it used to be."

"If she dies I'll jump in the river," said the little father,

"Nonsense!" said the doctor. "Can you swim?" he added, whimsically.

"No," said Harvey, his face lighting up.

The doctor patted him on the back. "Brace up, sir. Has the child a

Harvey stared at him. "Of course," he said. "Don't you know whose
child you are 'tending?"

"I confess I--er--I----"

"She is the daughter of Nellie Duluth."

"Oh!" fell from the doctor's lips. "And you--you are Miss Duluth's
husband? I didn't quite connect the names."

"Well, I'm her husband, name or no name," explained the other. "I
suppose I ought to send for her. She ought to know."

"Are you--er--separated?"

"Not at all," said Harvey. "I maintain two establishments, that's all.
One here, one in the city."

"Oh, I see," said the doctor, who didn't in the least see. "Of course,
she would be subject to quarantine rules if she came here,

"They couldn't get along without her at the theatre," groaned the

"I'd suggest waiting a day or two. Believe me, my dear sir, the child
will pull through. I will do all that can be done, sir. Rest easy."
His manner was quite different, now that he knew the importance of his
patient. He readjusted his glasses and cleared his throat. "I hope to
have the pleasure of seeing Mrs.--er--your wife, sir."

"She has a regular physician in town," said Harvey, politely.

For two weeks he nursed Phoebe, day and night, announcing to the
doctor in the beginning that his early training made him quite
capable. There were moments when he thought she was dying, but they
passed so quickly that his faith in the physician's assurances rose
above his fears. Acting on the purely unselfish motive that Nellie
would be upset by the news, he kept the truth from her, and she went
on singing and dancing without so much as a word to distress her. Two
Sundays passed; her own lamentable illness kept her away from the
little house in Tarrytown.

"If we tell her about Phoebe," said Harvey to Bridget and Annie,
"she'll go all to pieces. Her heart may stop, like as not. Besides,
she'd insist on coming out and taking care of her, and that would be
fatal to the show. She's never had diphtheria. She'd be sure to catch
it. It goes very hard with grown people."

"Have you ever had it, sir?" asked Annie, anxiously.

"Three times," said Harvey, who hadn't thought of it up to that

When the child was able to sit up he put in his time reading "David
Copperfield" to her.

Later on he played "jacks" with her and cut pictures out of the comic
supplements. By the end of the month he was thinner and more "peaked,"
if anything, than she. Unshaven, unshorn, unpressed was he, but he was
too full of joy to give heed to his own personal comforts or

His mind was beginning to be sorely troubled over one thing. Now that
Phoebe was well and getting strong he realised that Nellie would be
furious when she found out how ill the child had been and how she had
been deceived. He considered the advisability of keeping it from her
altogether, swearing every one to secrecy, but there was the doctor's
bill to be paid. When it came to paying that Nellie would demand an
explanation. It was utterly impossible for him to pay it himself.
Thinking over his unhappy position, he declared, with a great amount
of zeal, but no vigour, that he was going to get a job and be
independent once more. More than that, when he got fairly well
established in his position (he rather leaned toward the drug or the
restaurant business) he would insist on Nellie giving up her arduous
stage work and settling down to enjoy a life of comfort and
ease--even luxury, if things went as he meant them to go.

One afternoon late in October, when the scarlet leaves were blowing
across his little front yard and the screens had been taken from the
windows, a big green automobile stopped at his gate and a tall man got
out and came briskly up the walk. Harvey was sitting in the library
helping Phoebe with her ABC's when he caught sight of the visitor
crossing the porch.

"Gentleman to see you," said Annie, a moment later.

"Is it the butcher's man? I declare, I must get in and attend to that
little account. Tell him I'll be in, Annie."

"It ain't the butcher. It's a swell."

Harvey got up, felt of the four days' growth of beard on his chin, and

"Did he give his name?"

"Mr. Fairfax, he said."

He remembered Fairfax. His hand ran over his chin once more.

"Tell him to come in. I'll be down in fifteen minutes."

He went upstairs on the jump and got his razor out. He was nervous.
Only that morning he had written to Nellie telling her of Phoebe's
expensive illness and of her joyous recovery. The doctor's bill was
ninety dollars. He cut himself in three places.

Fairfax was sitting near the window talking with Phoebe when he
clattered downstairs ten minutes later, deploring the cuts but pleased
with himself for having broken all records at shaving. The big New
Yorker had a way with him; he could interest children as well as their
mothers and grown sisters. Phoebe was telling him about "Jack the
Giant Killer" when her father popped into the room.

"Phoebe!" he cried, stopping short in horror.

Fairfax arose languidly.

"How do you do, Mr.--ah--ahem! The little girl has been playing
hostess. The fifteen minutes have flown."

"Ten minutes by my watch," said Harvey, promptly. "Phoebe, dear, where
did you get that awful dress--and, oh, my! those dirty hands? Where's
Annie? Annie's the nurse, Mr. Fairfax. Run right away and tell her to
change that dress and wash your hands. How do you do, Mr. Fairfax?
Glad to see you. How are you?"

He advanced to shake the big man's hand. Fairfax towered over him.

"I was afraid you would not remember me," said Fairfax.

"Run along, Phoebe. She's been very ill, you see. We don't make life
any harder for her than we have to. Washing gets on a child's nerves,
don't you think? It used to on mine, I know. Of course I remember you.
Won't you sit down? Annie! Oh, Annie!"

He called into the stair hallway and Annie appeared from the

"Ann--Oh, here you are! How many times must I tell you to put a clean
dress on Phoebe every day? What are her dresses for, I'd like to
know?" He winked violently at Annie from the security of the portière,
which he held at arm's length as a shield. Annie arose to the occasion
and winked back.

"May I put on my Sunday dress?" cried Phoebe, gleefully.

"Only one of 'em," said he, in haste. "Annie will pick out one for

Considerably bewildered, Phoebe was led away by the nurse.

"She's a pretty child," said Fairfax. If his manner was a trifle
strained Harvey failed to make note of it. "Looks like her mother."

"I'm glad you think so," said the father, radiantly. "I'd hate to have
her look like me."

Fairfax looked him over and suppressed a smile.

"She is quite happy here with you, I suppose," he said, taking a

"Yes, sir-ree."

"Does she never long to be with her mother?"

"Well, you see," said Harvey, apologising for Nellie, "she doesn't see
much of Miss--of her mother these days. I guess she's got kind of used
to being with me. Kids are funny things, you know."

"She seems to have all the comforts and necessities of life," said the
big man, looking about him with an affectation of approval.

"Everything that I can afford, sir," said Harvey, blandly.

"Have you ever thought of putting her in a nice school for----"

"She enters kindergarten before the holidays," interrupted the

"I mean a--er--sort of boarding school," put in the big man, uneasily.
"Where she could be brought up under proper influences, polished up,
so to speak. You know what I mean. Miss Duluth has often spoken of
such an arrangement. In fact, her heart seems to be set on it."

"You mean she--she wants to send her away to school?" asked Harvey,

"It is a very common and excellent practice nowadays," said the other,

The little man was staring at him, his blue eyes full of dismay.

"Why--why, I don't believe I'd like that," he said, grasping the arms
of his chair with tense fingers. "She's doing all right here. It's
healthy here, and I am sure the schools are good enough. Nellie has
never said anything to me about boarding school. Why--why, Mr.
Fairfax, Phoebe's only five--not quite that, and I--I think it would
be cruel to put her off among strangers. When she's fifteen or
sixteen, maybe, but not now. Nellie don't mean that, I'm sure."

"There is a splendid school for little girls up in Montreal--a sort of
convent, you know. They get the best of training, moral, spiritual,
and physical. It is an ideal life for a child. Nellie has been
thinking a great deal of sending her there. In fact, she has
practically decided to----"

Harvey came to his feet slowly, dizzily.

"I can't believe it. She wouldn't send the poor little thing up there
all alone; no, sir! I--I wouldn't let her do it." He was pacing the
floor. His forehead was moist.

"Miss Duluth appreciates one condition that you don't seem able to
grasp," said Fairfax, bluntly. "She wants to keep the child as far
removed from stage life and its environments as possible. She wants
her to have every advantage, every opportunity to grow up entirely out
of reach of the--er--influences which now threaten to surround her."

Harvey stopped in front of him. "Is this what you came out here for,
Mr. Fairfax? Did Nellie tell you to do this?"

"I will be perfectly frank with you. She asked me to come out and talk
it over with you."

"Why didn't she come herself?"

"She evidently was afraid that you would overrule her in the matter."

"I never overruled her in my life," cried Harvey. "She isn't afraid of
me. There's something else."

"I can only say, sir, that she intends to put the child in the convent
before Christmas. She goes on the road after the holidays," said
Fairfax, setting his huge jaw.

Harvey sat down suddenly, limp as a rag. His mouth filled with
water--a cold, sickening moisture that rendered him speechless for a
moment. He swallowed painfully. His eyes swept the little room as if
in search of something to prove that this was the place for
Phoebe--this quiet, happy little cottage of theirs.

"Before Christmas?" he murmured.

"See here, Mr.--ah--Mr., here is the situation in a nutshell:--Nellie
doesn't see why she should be keeping up two establishments. It's
expensive. The child will be comfortable and happy in the convent and
this house will be off her hands. She----"

"Why don't she give up her flat in town?" demanded Harvey, miserably.
"That's where the money goes."

"She expects to give it up the first of the year," said Fairfax. "The
road tour lasts till May. She is going to Europe for the summer."

"To Europe?" gasped Harvey, feeling the floor sink under his feet.

He did not think to inquire what was to become of him in the new

"She needs a sea voyage, travel--a long vacation, in fact. It is fully
decided. So, you see, the convent is the place for Phoebe."

"But where do I come in?" cried the unhappy father. "Does she think
for a minute that I will put my child in a convent so that we may be
free to go to Europe and do things like that? No, sir! Dammit, I won't
go to Europe and leave Phoebe in a----"

Fairfax was getting tired of the argument. Moreover, he was
uncomfortable and decidedly impatient to have it over with. He cut in
rather harshly on the other's lamentations.

"If you think she's going to take you to Europe, you're very much
mistaken. Why, man, have you no pride? Can't you understand what a
damned useless bit of dead weight you are, hanging to her neck?"

It was out at last. Harvey sat there staring at him, very still; such
a pathetic figure that it seemed like rank cowardice to strike again.
And yet Fairfax, now that he had begun, was eager to go on striking
this helpless, inoffensive creature with all the frenzy of the brutal
victor who stamps out the life of his vanquished foe.

"She supports you. You haven't earned a dollar in four years. I have
it from her, and from others. It is commonly understood that you won't
work, you won't do a stroke toward supporting the child. You are a
leech, a barnacle, a--a--well, a loafer. If you had a drop of real
man's blood in you, you'd get out and earn enough to buy clothes for
yourself, at least, and the money for a hair cut or a shoe shine. She
has been too good to you, my little man. You can't blame her for
getting tired of it. The great wonder is that she has stood for it so

Words struggled from Harvey's pallid lips.

"But she loves me," he said. "It's all understood between us. I gave
her the start in life. She will tell you so. I----"

"You never did a thing for her in your life," broke in the big man,
harshly. He was consumed by an ungovernable hatred for this little man
who was the husband of the woman he coveted.

"I've always wanted to get a job. She wouldn't let me," protested
Harvey, a red spot coming into each of his cheeks. "I don't want to
take the money she earns. I never have wanted to. But she says my
place is here at home, with Phoebe. Somebody's got to look after the
child. We've talked it over a----"

"I don't want to hear about it," snapped Fairfax, hitting the arm of
his chair with his fist. "You're no good, that's all there is to it.
You are a joke, a laughing stock. Do you suppose that she can possibly
love a man like you? A woman wants a man about her, not the caricature
of one."

"I intend to get a job as soon as----" began Harvey, as if he had not
heard a word his visitor was saying.

"Now, see here," exclaimed Fairfax, coming to his feet. "I'm a man of
few words. I came out here to make you a proposition. It is between
you and me, and no one need be the wiser. I'm not such a fool as to
intrust a thing of this kind to an outsider. Is there any likelihood
of any one hearing us?"

Nellie's husband shrank lower into his chair and shook his head. He
seemed to have lost the power of speech. Fairfax drew a chair up
closer, however, and lowered his voice.

"You've got a price. Men of your type always have. I told Nellie I
would see you to-day. I'll be plain with you. She's tired of you, of
this miserable attachment. You are impossible. That's settled. We
won't go into that. Now I'm here, man to man, to find out how much you
will take and agree to a separation."

Harvey stiffened. He thought for a moment that his heart had stopped

"I don't believe I understand," he muttered.

"Don't you understand the word 'separation'?"

"Agree to a separation from what? Great God, you don't mean a
separation from Phoebe?"

"Don't be a fool! Use your brain, if you've got one."

"Do--you--mean--Nellie?" fell slowly, painfully from the dry lips of
the little man in the Morris chair.


"Does she want to--to leave me?" The tears started in his big blue
eyes. He blinked violently.

"It has come to that. She can't go on as she has been going. It's
ridiculous. You are anxious to go back to Blakeville, she says. Well,
that's where you belong. Somebody's drug store out there you'd like to
own, I believe. Now, I am prepared to see that you get that drug store
and a matter of ten or twenty thousand dollars besides. Money means
nothing to me. All you have to do is to make no answer to the charges
she will bring----"

Harvey leaped to his feet with a cry of abject pain.

"Did she send you here to say this to me?" he cried, shrilly, his
figure shaking with suppressed fury.

"No," said Fairfax, involuntarily drawing back. "This is between you
and me. She doesn't know----"

"Then, damn you!" shrieked Harvey, shaking his fist in the big man's
face, "what do you mean by coming here like this? What do you think I
am? Get out of here! I'm a joke, am I? Well, I'll show you and her and
everybody else that I'm a hell of a joke, let me tell you that! I was
good enough for her once. I won her away from every fellow in
Blakeville. I can do it again. I'll show you, you big bluffer! Now,
get out! Don't you ever come here again, and--don't you ever go near
my wife again!"

Fairfax had arisen. He was smiling, despite his astonishment.

"I fancy you will find you can't go so far as that," he sneered.

"Get out, or I'll throw you out!"

"Better think it over. Twenty-five thousand and no questions asked.
Take a day or two to think----"

With a shriek of rage Harvey threw himself at the big man, striking
out with all his might. Taken by surprise, Fairfax fell away before
the attack, which, though seemingly impotent, was as fierce as that of
a wildcat.

The New Yorker was in no danger. He warded off the blows with ease,
all the time imploring the infuriated Harvey to be sensible, to be
calm. But with a heroism born of shame and despair the little man
swung his arms like windmills, clawing, scratching, until the air
seemed full of them. Fairfax's huge head was out of reach. In his
blind fury Harvey did not take that into account. He struck at it with
all the power in his thin little arms, always falling so far short
that the efforts were ludicrous.

Fairfax began to look about in alarm. The noise of the conflict was
sure to attract the attention of the servants. He began backing toward
the doorway. Suddenly Harvey changed his fruitless tactics. He drove
the toe of his shoe squarely against the shinbone of the big man. With
a roar of rage Fairfax hurled himself upon the panting foe.

"I'll smash your head, you little devil," he roared, and struck out
viciously with one of his huge fists.

The blow landed squarely on Harvey's eye. He fell in a heap several
feet away. Half-dazed, he tried to get to his feet. The big man, all
the brute in him aroused, sprang forward and drove another savage blow
into the bleak, white face of the little one. Again he struck. Then he
lifted Harvey bodily from the floor and held him up against the wall,
his big hand on his throat.

"How do you like it?" he snarled, slapping the helpless,
half-conscious man in the face with his open hand--loud, stinging
blows that almost knocked the head off the shoulders. "Will you agree
to my proposition now?"

From Harvey's broken lips oozed a strangled--


Fairfax struck again and then let him slide to the floor.

"You damned little coward!" he grated. "To kick a man like that!"

He rushed from the room, grabbed his hat and coat in the hall, and was
out of the house like a whirlwind.

The whir of a motor came vaguely, indistinctly to Harvey's ears. He
was lying close to the window. As if in a dream he lifted himself
feebly to his knees and looked out of the window, not knowing exactly
what he did nor why he did it.

A big green car was leaving his front gate. He was a long time in
recalling who came up in it.

His breath was coming slowly. He tried to speak, but a strange,
unnatural wheeze came from his lips. A fit of coughing followed. At
last he got upon his feet, steadying himself against the window
casing. For a long time he stood there, working it all out in his
dizzy, thumping brain.

He put his hand to his lips and then stared dully at the stains that
covered it when he took it away. Then it all came back to him with a
rush. Like a guilty, hunted thing he slunk upstairs to his room,
carefully avoiding the room in which Phoebe was being bedecked in her
Sunday frock. Her high, shrill voice came to his ears. He was weeping
bitterly, sobbing like a whipped child.

He almost fainted when he first peered into the mirror on his bureau.
His eyes were beginning to puff out like great knobs, his face and
shirt front were saturated with his own plucky blood. Plucky! The word
occurred to him as he looked. Yes, he had been plucky. He didn't know
it was in him to be so plucky. A sort of pride in himself arose to
offset the pain and mortification. Yes, he had defended his honour and
Nellie's. She should hear of it! He would tell her what he had done
and how Fairfax had struck him down with a chair. She would then deny
to him that she had said those awful things about him. She would be
proud of him!

Carefully he washed his hands and face. With trembling fingers he
applied court-plaster to his lips, acting with speed because his eyes
were closing. Some one had told him that raw beefsteak was good for
black eyes. He wondered if bacon would do as well. There was no
beefsteak in the house.

His legs faltered as he made his way to the back stairs. Bridget was
coming up. She started back with a howl.

"Come here, Bridget," he whispered. "Into my room. Be quick!" He
retreated. He would employ her aid and swear her to secrecy. The Irish
know a great deal about fighting, he reflected.

"In the name av Hivvin, sor, what has happened to yez?" whispered
Bridget, aghast in the doorway.

"Come in and I'll tell you," said he, with a groan.

Presently a childish voice came clamouring at the locked door. He
heard it as from afar. Bridget paused in her ministrations. He had
just said:--

"I will take boxing lessons and physical culture of your brother,
Bridget. You think he can build me up? I know I'm a bit run down. No
exercise, you know. Still, I believe I would have thrashed him to a
frazzle if I hadn't stumbled. That was when he kicked me here. I got
this falling against the table."

"Yis, sor," said Bridget, dutifully.

In response to the pounding on the door, he called out, bravely:--

"You can't come in now, Phoebe. Papa has hurt himself a little bit.
I'll come out soon."

"I got my Sunday dress on, daddy," cried the childish voice. "And I'm
all spruced up. Has the nice gentleman gone away?"

His head sank into his hands.

"Yes, dearie, he's gone," he replied, in muffled tones.



For several days, he moped about the house, not even venturing upon
the porch, his face a sight to behold. His spirits were lower than
they had been in all his life. The unmerciful beating he had sustained
at the hands of Fairfax was not the sole cause of his depression. As
the consequences of that pummelling subsided, the conditions which led
up to it forced themselves upon him with such horrifying immensity
that he fairly staggered under them.

It slowly dawned on him that there was something very sinister in
Fairfax's visit, something terrible. Nellie's protracted stay in town,
her strange neglect of Phoebe, to say nothing of himself, the presence
of Fairfax in her dressing-room that night, and a great many
circumstances which came plainly to mind, now that he considered them
worth while noticing, all went a long way toward justifying Fairfax in
coming to him with the base proposition that had resulted so seriously
to his countenance.

Nellie was tired of him! He did not belong to her world. That was the
sum and substance of it. As he dropped out of her world, some one else
quite naturally rose to fill the void. That person was Fairfax. The
big man had said that she wanted a separation, she wanted to provide a
safe haven for Phoebe. The inference was plain. She wanted to get rid
of him in order to marry Fairfax. Fairfax had been honest enough to
confess that he was acting on his own initiative in proposing the
bribe, but there must have been something behind it all.

He had spoken of "charges." What charge could Nellie bring against
him? He was two days in arriving at the only one--failure to provide.
Yes, that was it. "Failure to provide." How he hated the words. How he
despised men who did not provide for their wives. He had never thought
of himself in that light before. But it was true, all true. And Nellie
was slipping away from him as the result. Not only Nellie but Phoebe.
She would be taken from him.

"I don't drink," he argued with himself, "and I've never treated her
cruelly. Other women don't interest me. I never swear at her. I've
never beaten her. I've always loved her. So it must be that I'm 'no
good,' just as that scoundrel says. 'No good!' Why, she knows better
than that. There never was a fellow who worked harder than I did for
Mr. Davis. I drew trade to his store. Anybody in Blakeville will swear
to that. Haven't I tried my best to get a job in the same shows with
her? Wasn't I the best comedian they had in the dramatic club? I've
never had the chance to show what I could do, and Nellie knows it. But
I'll show them all! I'll make that big brute wish he'd never been
born. I'll--I'll assert myself. He shan't take her away from me."

His resolutions soared to great heights, only to succumb to chilly
blasts that sent them shrivelled back to the lowest depths. What could
he do against a man who had all the money that Fairfax possessed? What
could he offer for Nellie, now that some one else had put a stupendous
price on her? He remembered reading about an oil painting that
originally sold for five hundred francs and afterward brought forty
thousand dollars. Somehow he likened Nellie to a picture, with the
reservation that he didn't believe any painting on earth was worth
forty thousand dollars. If there was such a thing, he had never seen

Then he began to think of poor Nellie cast helpless among the
tempters. She was like a child among voracious beasts of prey. No
wonder she felt hard toward him! He was to blame, terribly to blame.
In the highest, most exalted state of remorse he wept, not once but
often. His poor little Nellie!

In one of these strange ever-growing flights of combined self-reproach
and self-exaltation he so vividly imagined himself as a rescuer, as an
able-bodied defender against all the ills and evils that beset her,
that the fancy took the shape of positive determination. He made up
his mind to take her off the stage, back to Blakeville, and to an
environment so sweet and pure that her life would be one long season
of joy and happiness.

With the growth of this resolution he began to plan his own personal
rehabilitation. First of all, he would let his face recover its
natural shape; then he would cultivate muscle and brawn at the
emporium of Professor Flaherty; moreover, he would devote considerable
attention to his own personal appearance and to the habits of the
"men about town." He would fight the tempters with their own
weapons--the corkscrew, the lobster pick, the knife and fork, and the

He did not emerge from the house for five days. By that time he was
fairly presentable.

It was Annie's day out, so he took Phoebe for a little walk. As for
Phoebe, she never passed a certain door upstairs without kicking at it
with first one, then the other of her tiny feet, in revenge for the
way it had hurt her father by remaining open so that he could bump
into it on that bloody, terrifying day. She sent little darts of
exquisite pain through him by constantly alluding to the real
devastator as "that nice Mr. Fairy-fax." It was her pleasure to regard
him as a great big fairy who had promised her in secret that she would
some day be like Cinderella and have all the riches the slipper
showered upon that poor little lady.

As they were returning home after a stroll through a rather remote
street, they came upon Mr. Butler, who was down on his knees fixing
something or other about his automobile. Harvey thought it a good
opportunity to start his crusade against New York City.

"Hello," he said, halting. Butler looked up. He was mad as a wet hen
to begin with.

"Hello," he snarled, resuming his work.

"I've been thinking about that little----"

"Get out of the light, will you?"

Harvey moved over, dragging Phoebe after him.

"That little scheme of ours to dine together in town some night. You
remember we talked about it----"

"No, I don't," snapped Butler.

"We might lunch together early next week. I know a nice little place
on Seventh Avenue where you get fine spaghetti. We----"

"I'm booked for a whole month of luncheons," said Butler, sitting back
on his heels to stare at this impossible person. "Can't join you."

"Some other time, then," said Harvey, waving his hand genially. "Your
wife home yet?"

Butler got upon his feet.

"Say," said he, aggressively, "do you know she's heard about that
idiotic trip of mine to town that night? Fairfax told everybody, and
somebody's wife told Mrs. Butler. It got me in a devil of a mess."

"You don't say so!"

"Yes, I do say so. Next time you catch me--But, what's the use?" He
turned to his work with an expressive shrug of his shoulders.

"I'll have my wife explain everything to Mrs. Butler the first time
she comes out," said Harvey, more bravely than he felt. He could not
help wondering when Nellie would come out.

"It isn't necessary," Butler made haste to assure him.

Harvey was silent for a moment.

"Fixing your automobile?" he asked, unwilling to give it up without
another effort.

"What do you suppose I'm doing?"

"It's wonderful how fast one of these little one-seated cars can go,"
mused Harvey. "Cheap, too; ain't they?"

Butler faced him again, malice in his glance.

"It's not in it with that big green car your wife uses," he said,

"Big green----" began Harvey, blankly. Then he understood. He
swallowed hard, straightened Phoebe's hat with infinite care and
gentleness, and looking over Butler's head, managed to say, quite
calmly:--"It used to be blue. We've had it painted. Come along,
Phoebe, Mr. Butler's busy. We mustn't bother him. So long, Butler."

"So long," said Mr. Butler, suddenly intent upon finding something in
the tool-box.

The pair moved on. Out of the corner of his eye Butler watched them
turn the corner below.

"Poor little guy!" he said to the monkey wrench.

The big green car! All the way home that juggernaut green car ran
through, over, and around him. He could see nothing else, think of
nothing else. A big green car!

That evening he got from Bridget the address of her brother, Professor
Flaherty, the physical trainer and body builder.

In the morning he examined himself in the mirror, a fever of
restlessness and impatience afflicting him with the desire to be once
more presentable to the world. He had been encouraged by the fact that
Butler had offered no comment on the black rims around his eyes. They
must be disappearing.

With his chin in his hands he sat across the room staring at his
reflection in the glass, a gloomy, desolate figure.

"It wouldn't be wise to apply for a job until these eyes are all right
again," he was saying to himself, bitterly. "Nobody would hire a man
with a pair of black eyes and a busted lip--especially a druggist.
I'll simply have to wait a few days longer. Heigh-ho! To-morrow's
Sunday again. I--I wonder if Nellie will be out to see us."

But Nellie did not come out. She journeyed far and fast in a big green
car, but it was in another direction.

Thursday of the next week witnessed the sallying forth of Harvey
What's-His-Name, moved to energy by a long dormant and mournfully
acquired ambition. The delay had been irksome.

Nellie's check for the month's expenses had arrived in the mail that
morning. He folded it carefully and put it away in his pocketbook,
firmly resolved not to present it at the bank. He intended to return
it to her with the announcement that he had secured a position and
hereafter would do the providing.

Spick and span in his best checked suit, his hat tilted airily over
one ear, he stepped briskly down the street. You wouldn't have known
him, I am sure, with his walking-stick in one hand, his light spring
overcoat over the other arm. A freshly cleaned pair of grey gloves,
smelling of gasoline, covered his hands. On the lapel of his coat
loomed a splendid yellow chrysanthemum. Regular football weather, he
had said.

The first drug store he came to he entered with an air of confidence.
No, the proprietor said, he didn't need an assistant. He went on to
the next. The same polite answer, with the additional information, in
response to a suggestion by the applicant, that the soda-water season
was over. Undaunted, he stopped in at the restaurant in the block
below. The proprietor of the place looked so sullen and forbidding
that Harvey lost his courage and instead of asking outright for a
position as manager he asked for a cup of coffee and a couple of fried
eggs. As the result of this extra and quite superfluous breakfast he
applied for the job.

The man looked him over scornfully.

"I'm the manager and the whole works combined," he said. "I need a
dish-washer, come to think of it. Four a week and board. You can go to
work to-day if----"

But Harvey stalked out, swinging his cane manfully.

"Well, God knows I've tried hard enough," he said to himself,
resignedly, as he headed for the railway station. It was still six
minutes of train time. "I'll write to Mr. Davis out in Blakeville this
evening. He told me that my place would always be open to me."

It was nearly one o'clock when he appeared at Nellie's apartment.
Rachel admitted him. He hung his hat and coat on the rack, deposited
his cane in the corner, and sauntered coolly into the little
sitting-room, the maid looking on in no little wonder and uneasiness.

"Where's my wife?" he asked, taking up the morning paper from the
centre table and preparing to make himself at home in the big

"She's out to lunch, sir."

He laid the paper down.


Rachel mentioned a prominent downtown café affected by the

"Will you have lunch here, sir?" she inquired.

"No," said he, determinedly. "Thank you just the same. I'm lunching
downtown. I--I thought perhaps she'd like to join me."

Rachel rang for the elevator and he departed, amiably doffing his hat
to her as he dropped to the floor below.

At one of the popular corner tables in the big café a party of men and
women were seated, seven or eight in all. Nellie Duluth had her back
toward the other tables in the room. It was a bit of modesty that she
always affected. She did not like being stared at. Besides, she could
hold her audience to the very end, so to speak, for all in the place
knew she was there and were willing to wait until she condescended to
face them in the process of departure.

It was a very gay party, comprising a grand-opera soprano and a tenor
of world-wide reputation, as well as three or four very well-known New
Yorkers. Manifestly, it was Fairfax's luncheon. The crowd at this
table was observed by all the neck-craners in the place. Every one was
telling every one else what every one knew:--"That's Nellie Duluth
over there."

As the place began to clear out and tables were being abandoned here
and there, a small man in a checked suit appeared in the doorway. An
attendant took his hat and coat away from him while he was gazing with
kaleidoscopic instability of vision upon the gay scene before him. He
had left his walking-stick in a street car, a circumstance which
delayed him a long time, for, on missing it, he waited at a corner in
the hope of recognising the motorman on his return trip up Madison

The head-waiter was bowing before him and murmuring, "How many, sir?"

"How many what?" mumbled Harvey, with a start.

"In your party?" asked the man, not half so politely and with a degree
of distance in his attitude. It did not look profitable.

"Oh! Only one, sir. Just a sandwich and a cup of coffee, I think."

There was a little table away over in the corner sandwiched between
the doors of entrance and egress for laden waiters and 'bus boys.
Toward this a hastily summoned second or third assistant conducted
the newcomer. Twice during the process of traversing this illimitable
space Harvey bumped against chairs occupied by merry persons who
suddenly became crabbed and asked him who the devil he was stumbling

A blonde, flushed woman who sat opposite Nellie at the table in the
corner caught sight of him as he passed. She stared hard for a moment
and then allowed a queer expression to come into her eyes.

"For Heaven's sake!" she exclaimed, with considerable force.

"What's the matter? Your husband?" demanded Nellie Duluth, with a

"No," she said, staring harder. "Why, I can't be mistaken. Yes, as I
live, it's Mr.--Mr. What's-His-Name, your husband, Nellie."

"Don't turn 'round, Nellie," whispered Fairfax, who sat beside her.

"I don't believe it!" cried Nellie, readily. "It isn't possible for
Harvey to be here. Where is he?" she demanded in the same breath,
looking over her shoulder.

Harvey was getting out of the way of a 'bus boy and a stack of
chinaware and in the way of a waiter with a tray of peach Melbas when
she espied him.

"For the land's sake!" she gasped, going clear back to Blakeville for
the expression. "I don't dare look, Carrie. Tell me, has he got a--a
fairy with him? Break it gently."

"Fairy?" sneered Fairfax, suddenly uncomfortable. "Why, he's lost in
the wood. He's alone on a desert isle. What the deuce is he doing

Harvey gave his order to the disdainful waiter and then settled back
in his chair for the first deliberate look around the room in quest of
his wife.

Their eyes met. She had turned halfway round in her chair and was
looking at him with wide-open, unbelieving eyes. He felt himself
suddenly tied hand and foot to the chair. Now that he had found her he
could do no more than stare at her in utter bewilderment. He had come
tilting at windmills.

The flush deepened in her cheek as she turned her attention to the
dessert that had just been set down before her. She was very quiet, in
marked contrast to her mood of the moment before.

Fairfax made a remark which set the others to laughing. She did not
smile, but toyed nervously with the dessert fork. Under cover of the
laughter he leaned over and whispered, an anxious, troubled note in
his voice:--

"I'll call the head waiter and have him put out before he does
anything crazy."

"Put out?" she repeated. "Why, what do you think he'd try to do?"

"He's got an ugly look in his eye. I tell you, he'll create a scene.
That's what he's here for. You remember what happened----"

She laughed shrilly. "He won't shoot any one," she said in his ear.
"Harvey create a scene! Oh, that's rich!"

"He hasn't forgotten the thrashing I gave him. He has been brooding
over it, Nellie." Fairfax was livid about the eyes.

"Well, I respect him for trying to thrash you, even though he got the
worst of it." She looked again in Harvey's direction. He was still
staring steadily at her. "He's all alone over there and he's
miserable. I can't stand it. I'm going over to sit with him."

As she arose Fairfax reached out and grasped her arm.

"Don't be a fool," he said, in dismay.

"I won't," she replied, sweetly. "Trust me. So long, people. I'm going
over to have coffee with my husband."

If the occupants of the big café were surprised to see Nellie Duluth
make her way over to the table and sit down with the queer little
person in checks, not so Harvey. He arose to greet her and would have
kissed her if she had not restrained him. He was gratified, overjoyed,
but not surprised.

"Hello!" she said, sharply, to cover the inward disquiet that
possessed her. She was looking intently into his eyes as if searching
for something she dreaded.

"Hello!" was his response. He was still a trifle dazed.

She sat down opposite him. Before she could think of anything further
to say the head waiter rushed up to inquire if Miss Duluth and her
friend wouldn't prefer a table at one of the windows.

"No, this will do," she said, thankful for the interruption.

"We are doing very nicely," said Harvey, rather pompously, adding in a
loud voice of authority:--"Tell that fellow to hustle my luncheon
along, will you?" Then, turning to Nellie, he said:--"You don't look
as though you'd ever been sick a day in your life, Nellie."

She laughed uncomfortably. "How are you, Harvey? And Phoebe?"

"Fine. Never better. Why don't you come out and see us occasionally?"

"May I order a cup of black coffee?" she asked, ignoring the question.
She was sorely puzzled.

"Have a big one," he urged, signalling a waiter.

Her curiosity conquered. "What in Heaven's name brought you here,

He told her of the word Rachel had given him. Nellie made a mental
note of the intention to speak plainly to Rachel.

"Who are your friends?" he asked. Just then he caught a glimpse of
Fairfax's face. He turned very cold.

"Mr. Fairfax is giving a luncheon for two of the grand-opera people,"
she explained.

He forced his courage. "I don't want you to have anything more to do
with that man," he said. "He's a scoundrel."

"Now, don't be silly," she cried. "What train are you going out on?"

"I don't know. Maybe I'll stay in. I'll go up to your flat, I guess,
for a couple of days. Phoebe's all right. She's over the diphtheria

"Diphtheria?" gasped Nellie, wide-eyed, overlooking his other
declaration, which, by the way, was of small moment.

"Almost died, poor kiddie."

She flared up in an instant. "Why wasn't I told? What were you
thinking of, you little fool?"

"If you had taken the trouble to come out to Tarrytown, you could have
found out for yourself," he retorted, coolly. "Now, see here, Nellie,
I've come in to see you and to have a very plain talk with you. So
just hold your horses. Don't fly off the handle. I am the head of this
family and I'm going to boss it from this time on."

"You----" she began, in a furious little shriek, her eyes blazing. She
caught herself up in time. Two or three people nearby looked up at the
sound of her raised voice. She lowered it to a shrill, intense
half-whisper. "What do you mean by coming here in this way? Everybody
is laughing at me. You make me ridiculous. I won't stand for it; do
you hear?"

He was colder if possible than before, but he was resolute.

"We've got to have an understanding, the sooner the better," he said,

"Yes, you're right," she repeated; "the sooner the better."

"We can't talk here," he said, suddenly conscious that the eyes of
many were upon them. "Go over and ask that infernal sneak to excuse
you, and we'll go up to the flat."

"I'm going motoring this aft----"

"You do as I tell you!" said he, in a strange voice.

"Why, Harvey----" she stammered, catching her breath.

"When you've had your coffee," he added.

She sipped her coffee in silence, in wonder, in bitter resentment. He
munched the club sandwich and sucked the coffee through his thin
moustache with a vehemence that grated on her nerves terribly.

"I've had all I want," she said, suddenly putting the little cup down
with a crash.

"Then go over and tell 'em you've got to go home."

She crossed the room, red-faced and angry. He watched her as she made
an announcement to the party, saw them laugh uproariously, and smiled
in triumph over the evidence of annoyance on the part of Fairfax.
Nellie was whispering something close to the big man's ear, and he was
shaking his head vigorously. Then she waved her hand to the party and
started away. Fairfax arose to follow her. As he did so, Harvey came
to his feet and advanced. The big man stopped short, with a look of
actual alarm in his eyes, and went back to his seat, hastily motioning
to the head waiter.

Five minutes later Miss Duluth emerged from the café, followed by the
little man in the checked suit.

An attendant blew his whistle and called out down the line of waiting

"Mr. Fairfax's car up!"

"Get me a taxi," ordered Nellie, hastily.

The man betrayed his surprise. She was obliged to repeat the order.

"What does a taxi to--to our place cost?" demanded Harvey, feeling in
his pocket.

"Never mind," she snapped. "I'll pay for it."

"No, you won't," he asserted. "I raised seventeen dollars yesterday on
the watch mother gave me. It's my own money, Nellie, remember that."

Rachel was plainly amazed when the couple walked into the apartment.
The two at once resumed the conversation they had carried on so
vigorously in the taxicab on the way up from downtown. Nellie did not
remove her hat, sharply commanding Rachel to leave the room.

"No," she said, "she simply has to go to the convent. She'll be safe
there, no matter how things turn out for you and me, Harve, I insist
on that."

"Things are going to turn out all right for us, Nellie," he protested,
a plaintive note in his voice. It was easily to be seen which had been
the dominating force in the ride home.

"Now, you've got to be reasonable, Harve," she said, firmly. "We can't
go on as we have been going. Something's just got to happen."

"Well, doggone it, haven't I said that I'll agree to your trip to
Europe? I won't put a stop to that. I see your point clearly. The
managers think it wise for you to do a bit of studying abroad. I can
see that. I'm not going to be mean. Three months' hard work over there
will get you into grand-opera sure. But that has nothing to do with
Phoebe. She can go to Blakeville with me, and then when you come back
next fall I'll have a job here in New York and we'll----"

"Don't talk foolishness," she blurted out. "You've said that three or
four times. First you wanted me to go back to Blakeville to live. You
insisted on it. What do you think I am? Why, I wouldn't go back to
Blakeville if Heaven was suddenly discovered to be located there
instead of up in the sky. That's settled. No Blakeville for me. Or
Phoebe either. Do you suppose I'm going to have that child grow up
like--like"--she changed the word and continued--"like a yap?"

"All I ask is that you will give me a chance to show what I can do,"
he said, earnestly.

"You can do that just as well with Phoebe in the convent, as I've said

"She's as much my child as she is yours," he proclaimed, stoutly.

"Then you ought to be willing to do the sensible thing by her."

"Why, good Lord, Nell, she's only five," he groaned. "She'll die of

"Nonsense! She'll forget both of us in a month and be happy."

"She won't forget me!" he exclaimed.

"Well, I've said my say," she announced, pacing the floor. "Suppose we
agree to disagree. Well, isn't it better to have her out of the

"I won't give her up, derned if I do!"

"Say, don't you know if it comes to a question of law, the Court will
give her to me?"

"I'm not trying to take her away from you."

"You're trying to ruin my career."

"Fairfax has put all this into your head, Nellie, dear. He's a
low-down rascal."

"He's my friend, and a good one, too. I don't believe he offered you
that money to agree to a separation."

"Darn it all, you can still see the scar on my lip. That ought to
prove something. If I hadn't stumbled, I'd have knocked him silly. As
it was, he kicked me in the face when I was down."

"He told me you assaulted him without cause."

"He lied."

"Well, that's neither here nor there. I'm sorry you were beaten up so
badly. It wasn't right, I'll admit. He said you were plucky, Harve. I
couldn't believe him at first."

His face brightened.

"You give me a chance and I'll show you how plucky I am!" he cried.
"Come on now, Nellie, let's make a fresh start."

She was silent for a long time. At heart she was fair and honest. She
had lost her love and respect for the little man, but, after all, was
that altogether his fault? She was sorry for him.

"Well, I'll think it over," she said, at last.

"I'll write to Mr. Davis to-night!" he cried, encouraged.

"All right. I hope he'll give you a job," said she, also brightening,
but for an entirely different reason.

"You'll give up this awful thing of--of separating; won't you?"

"I'll promise one thing, Harvey," said she, suddenly sincere. "I won't
do anything until I come back from the road. That's fair, isn't it?
And I'll tell you what else I'll do. I will let Phoebe stay with you
in Tarrytown until the end of the tour--in May."

"But I'm going to Blakeville," he protested.

"No," said she, firmly, "I won't agree to that. Either you stay in
Tarrytown or she goes to the convent."

"I can't get work in Tarrytown."

"You can tell Mr. Davis you will come out to Blakeville in time for
the opening of the soda-water season. I'll do the work for the family
till then. That's all I'll consent to. I'll ask for a legal separation
if you don't agree to that."

"I--I'll think it over," he said, feebly; "I'll stay here with you for
a couple of days, and----"

"You will do nothing of the sort!" she cried. "Do you suppose I'm
going to spoil my chances for a separation, if I want to apply, by
letting you live in the same house with me? Why, that would be wasting
the two months already gone."

He did not comprehend, and he was afraid to ask for an explanation.
The term "failure to provide" was the only one he could get through
his head; "desertion" was out of the question. His brow was wet with
the sweat of a losing conflict. He saw that he would have to accept
her ultimatum and trust to luck to provide a way out of the
difficulty. Time would justify him, he was confident. In the meantime,
he would ease his conscience by returning the check, knowing full well
that it would not be accepted. He would then take it, of course, with
reservations. Every dollar was to be paid back when he obtained a
satisfactory position.

He determined, however, to extract a promise from her before giving

"I will consent, Nellie, on the condition that you stop seeing this
fellow Fairfax and riding around in his big green car. I won't stand
for that."

Nellie smiled, more to herself than to him. She had Fairfax in the
meshes. He was safe. The man was madly in love with her. The instant
she was freed from Harvey he stood ready to become her
husband--Fairfax, with all his money and all his power.

And that is precisely what she was aiming at. She could afford to
smile, but somehow she was coming to feel that this little man who
was now her husband had it in him, after all, to put up a fierce and
desperate fight for his own. If he were pushed to the wall he would
fight back like a wildcat, and well she knew that there would be
disagreeable features in the fray.

"If you are going to talk like that I'll never speak to you again,"
she said, banishing the smile. "Don't you trust me?"

"Sure," he said, and he meant it. "That's not the point."

"See here, Harve," she said, abruptly putting her hands on his
shoulders and looking squarely into his eyes, "I want you to believe
me when I say that I am a--a--well, a good woman."

"I believe it," he said, solemnly. Then, as an after-thought, "and I
want to say the same thing for myself."

"I've never doubted you," said she, fervently. "Now, go home and let
things stand as they are. Write to Mr. Davis to-night."

"I will. I say, won't you give me a kiss?"

She hesitated, still calculating.

"Yes, if you promise not to tell anybody," she said, with mock
solemnity. As she expected, he took it seriously.

"Do you suppose I go 'round telling people I've kissed my wife?"

Then she gave him a peck on the cheek and let it go as a kiss.

"When will you be out to see us?"

"Soon, I hope," she said, quickly. "Now go, Harve, I'm going to lie
down and rest. Kiss Phoebe for me."

He got to the door. She was fairly pushing him.

"I feel better," he said, taking a long breath.

"So do I," said she.

He paused for a moment to frown in some perplexity.

"Say, Nell, I left my cane in a street car coming down. Do you think
it would be worth while to advertise for it?"



The weeks went slowly by and Christmas came to the little house in
Tarrytown. He had become resigned but not reconciled to Nellie's
continued and rather persistent absence, regarding it as the sinister
proclamation of her intention to carry out the plan for separation in
spite of all that he could do to avert the catastrophe. His devotion
to Phoebe was more intense than ever; it had reached the stage of
being pathetic.

True to his word, he wrote to Mr. Davis, who in time responded, saying
that he could give him a place at the soda fountain in May, but that
the wages would of necessity be quite small, owing to the fact that
the Greeks had invaded Blakeville with the corner fruit stands and
soft-drink fountains. He could promise him eight dollars a week, or
ten dollars if he would undertake to come to the store at six A.M. and
sweep up, a task now performed by the proprietor himself, who found
himself approaching an age and a state of health that craved a feast
of luxury and ease hitherto untasted.

Harvey was in considerable doubt as to his ability to live on ten
dollars a week and support Phoebe, as well as to begin the task of
reimbursing Nellie for her years of sacrifice. Still, it was better
than nothing at all, so he accepted Mr. Davis' ten-dollar-a-week offer
and sat back to wait for the coming of the first of May.

In the meantime he would give Nellie some return for her money by
doing the work now performed by Annie--or, more advisedly speaking, a
portion of it. He would conduct Phoebe to the kindergarten and call
for her at the close of sessions, besides dressing her in the morning,
sewing on buttons for her, undressing her at night, and all such jobs
as that, with the result that Annie came down a dollar a week in her
wages and took an extra afternoon out. In this way he figured he could
save Nellie at least thirty dollars. He also did the janitor's work
about the place and looked after the furnace, creating a salvage of
three dollars and a half a month. Moreover, instead of buying a new
winter suit and replacing his shabby ulster with one more comely and
presentable, he decided to wear his fall suit until January and then
change off to his old blue serge spring suit, which still seemed far
from shiny, so far as he could see.

And so it was that Nellie's monthly check for $150 did very nicely.

Any morning at half-past eight, except Sunday, you could have seen him
going down the street with Phoebe at his side, her hand in his, bound
for the kindergarten. He carried her little lunch basket and whistled
merrily when not engaged in telling her about Santa Claus. She
startled him one day by asking:--

"Are you going to be Santy this year, daddy, or is mamma?"

He looked down at the rich little fur coat and muff Nellie had
outfitted her with, at the expensive hat and the silk muffler, and

"If you ask questions, Santy won't come at all," he said, darkly.
"He's a mighty cranky old chap, Santy is."

He did not take up physical culture with Professor Flaherty, partly on
account of the expense, partly because he found that belabouring
cannel coal and shaking down the furnace was more developing than he
had expected. Raking the autumn leaves out of the front yard also was
harder than he had any idea it would be. He was rather glad it was not
the season for the lawn mower.

Down in his heart he hoped that Nellie would come out for Christmas,
but he knew there was no chance of it. She would have two performances
on that day. He refrained from telling Phoebe until the very last
minute that her mother would not be out for the holiday. He hadn't the
heart to do it.

He broke the news then by telling the child that her mother was
snowbound and couldn't get there. An opportune fall of snow the day
before Christmas gave him the inspiration.

He set up the little Christmas tree in the back parlour, assisted by
Bridget and Annie, after Phoebe had gone to bed on Christmas Eve. She
had urged him to read to her about Tiny Tim, but he put her off with
the announcement that Santa was likely to be around early on account
of the fine sleighing, and if he saw that she wasn't asleep in bed he
might skip the house entirely.

The expressman, in delivering several boxes from town that afternoon,
had said to his helper:--

"That little fellow that came to the door was Nellie Duluth's husband,
Mr.--Mr.----Say, look on the last page there and see what his name is.
He's a cheap skate. A dime! Wot do you think of that?" He held up the
dime Harvey had given him and squinted at it as if it were almost too
small to be seen with the naked eye.

Nellie sent "loads" of presents to Phoebe--toys, books, candies,
fruits, pretty dresses, a velvet coat, a tiny pair of opera glasses,
strings of beads, bracelets, rings--dozens of things calculated to set
a child mad with delight. There were pocketbooks, handkerchiefs,
squirrel stoles and muffs for each of the servants, a box of cigars
for the postman, another for the milkman, and a five-dollar bill for
the janitor.

There was nothing for Harvey.

He looked for a long time at the envelope containing the five-dollar
bill, an odd little smile creeping into his eyes. He was the janitor,
he remembered. After a moment of indecision he slipped the bill into
another envelope, which he marked "Charity" and laid aside until
morning brought the mendicant who, with bare fingers and frosted lips,
always came to play his mournful clarionet in front of the house.

Surreptitiously he searched the two big boxes carefully, inwardly
hoping that she had not forgotten--nay, ignored--him. But there was
nothing there, not even a Christmas card! It was the first Christmas
she had....

The postman brought a small box addressed to Phoebe. The handwriting
was strange, but he thought nothing of it. He thought it was nice of
Butler to remember his little one and lamented the fact that he had
not bought something for the little Butlers, of whom there were seven.
He tied a red ribbon around the sealed package and hung it on the

After it was all over he went upstairs and tried to read "Dombey &
Son." But a mist came over his blue eyes and his vision carried him
far beyond the printed page. He was not thinking of Nellie, but of his
old mother, who had never forgotten to send him a Christmas present.
Ah, if she were alive he would not be wondering to-night why Santa
Claus had passed him by.

He rubbed his eyes with his knuckles, closed "Dombey & Son" for the
night, and went to bed, turning his thoughts to the row of tiny
stockings that hung from the mantelpiece downstairs--for Phoebe had
put to use all that she could find--and then let them drift on through
space to an apartment near Central Park, where Kris Kringle had
delivered during the day a little packet containing the brooch he had
purchased for his wife out of the money he had preserved from the sale
of his watch some weeks before.

He was glad he had sent Nellie a present.

Bright and early the next morning he was up to have a final look at
the tree before Phoebe came down. A blizzard was blowing furiously;
the windows were frosted; the house was cheerless. He built the fires
in the grates and sat about with his shoulders hunched up till the
merry crackle of the coals put warmth into his veins. The furnace! He
thought of it in time, and hurried to the basement to replenish the
fires. They were out. He had forgotten them the night before. Bridget
found him there later on, trying to start the kindling in the two

"I clean forgot 'em last night," he said, sheepishly.

"I don't wonder, sor," said Bridget, quite genially for a cold
morning. "Do you be after going upstairs this minute, sor. I'll have
them roaring in two shakes av a lamb's tail. Mebby there's good news
for yez up there. Annie's at the front door this minute, taking a
telegram from the messenger bye, sor. Merry Christmas to ye, sor."

"Merry Christmas, Bridget!" cried he, gaily. His heart had leaped at
the news she brought. A telegram from Nellie! Hurrah! He rushed
upstairs without brushing the coal dust from his hands.

The boy was waiting for his tip. Harvey gave him a quarter and wished
him a merry Christmas.

"A miserable day to be out," said he, undecided whether to ask the
half-frozen lad to stay and have a bite of breakfast or to let him go
out into the weather.

"It's nothin' when you gets used to it," said the blue-capped
philosopher, and took his departure.

"But it's the getting used to it," said Harvey to Annie as she handed
him the message. He tore open the envelope. She saw the light die out
of his eyes.

The message was from Ripton, the manager, and read:--

  "Please send Phoebe in with the nurse to see the matinée to-day."
The invitation was explicit enough. He was not wanted.

If he had a secret inclination to ignore the command altogether, it
was frustrated by his own short-sightedness. He gulped, and then read
the despatch aloud for the benefit of the maid. When it was too late
he wished he had not done so.

Annie beamed. "Oh, sir, I've always wanted to see Miss Duluth act. I
will take good care of Phoebe."

He considered it beneath his dignity to invite her into a conspiracy
against the child, so he gloomily announced that he would go in with
them on the one-o'clock train and stay to bring them out.

The Christmas tree was a great success. Phoebe was in raptures. He
quite forgot his own disappointment in watching her joyous antics. As
the distributor of the presents that hung on the gaily trimmed and
dazzling cedar, he came at last to the little package from Butler. It
contained a beautiful gold chain, at the end of which hung suspended a
small diamond-studded slipper--blue enamel, fairly covered with rose

Phoebe screamed with delight. Her father's face was a study.

"Why, they are diamonds!" he murmured. "Surely Butler wouldn't be
giving presents like this." A card fluttered to the floor. He picked
it up and read:--"A slipper for my little Cinderella. Keep it and it
will bring good luck."

There was no name, but he knew who had sent it. With a cry of rage he
snatched the dainty trinket from her hand and threw it on the floor,
raising his foot to stamp it out of shape with his heel. His first
vicious attempt missed the slipper altogether, and before he could
repeat it the child was on the floor clutching it in her fingers,
whimpering strangely. The servants looked on in astonishment.

He drew back, mumbling something under his breath. In a moment he
regained control of himself.

"It--it isn't meant for you, darling," he said, hoarsely. "Santy left
it here by mistake. We will send it back to him. It belongs to some
other poor little girl."

"But I am Cinderella!" she cried. "Mr. Fairy-fax said so. He told
Santy to bring it to me. Please, daddy--please!"

He removed it gently from her fingers and dropped it into his pocket.
His face was very white.

"Santy isn't that kind of a man," he said, without rhyme or reason.
"Now, don't cry, dearie. Here's another present from mamma. See!"

Later in the morning, after she had quite forgotten the slipper, he
put it back in the box, wrapped it carefully, and addressed the
package to L. Z. Fairfax, in New York City, without explanation or

[Illustration: Copyright, 1911, by Dodd, Mead & Company

Before the morning was half over he was playing with Phoebe and her
toys quite as childishly and gleefully as she, his heart in the fun
she was having, his mind almost wholly cleared of the bitterness and
rancour that so recently had filled it to overflowing.

The three of them floundered through the snowdrifts to the station,
laughing and shouting with a merriment that proved infectious. The
long-obscured sun came out and caught the disease, for he smiled
broadly, and the wind gave over snarling and smirked with an
amiability that must have surprised the shivering horses standing
desolate in front of certain places wherein their owners partook of
Christmas cheer that was warm.

Harvey took Phoebe and the nurse to the theatre in a cab. He went up
to the box-office window and asked for the two tickets. The seller was
most agreeable. He handed out the little envelope with the words:--

"A packed house to-day, Mr.--Mr.--er--ah, and--sold out for to-night.
Here you are, with Miss Duluth's compliments--the best seats in the
house. And here is a note for--er--yes, for the nurse."

Annie read the note. It was from Nellie, instructing her to bring
Phoebe to her dressing-room after the performance, where they would
have supper later on.

Harvey saw them pass in to the warm theatre and then slowly wandered
out to the bleak, wind-swept street. There was nothing for him to do;
nowhere that he could go to seek cheerful companions. For an hour or
more he wandered up and down Broadway, his shoulders hunched up, his
mittened hands to his ears, water running from his nose and eyes, his
face the colour of the setting sun. Half-frozen, he at last ventured
into a certain café, a place where he had lunched no fewer than
half-a-dozen times, and where he thought his identity might have
remained with the clerk at the cigar stand.

There were men at the tables, smoking and chatting hilariously. At one
of them sat three men, two of whom were actors he had met. Summoning
his courage, he approached them with a well-assumed air of

"Merry Christmas," was his greeting. The trio looked at him with no
sign of recognition. "How are you. Mr. Brackley? How are you, Joe?"

The two actors shook hands with him without much enthusiasm, certainly
without interest.

Light dawned on one of them. "Oh," said he, cheerlessly, "how are you?
I couldn't place you at first." He did not offer to introduce him to
the stranger, but proceeded to enlighten the other players. "It's--oh,
you know--Nellie Duluth's husband."

The other fellow nodded and resumed his conversation with the third
man. At the same time the speaker leaned forward to devote his
attention to the tale in hand, utterly ignoring the little man, who
stood with his hand on the back of the vacant chair.

Harvey waited for a few moments. "What will you have to drink?" he
asked, shyly dropping into the chair. They stared at him and shook
their heads.

"That seat's engaged," said the one called "Joe," gruffly.

Harvey got up instantly. "Oh," he said, in a hesitating manner. They
went on with their conversation as if he were not there. After a
moment he moved away, his ears burning, his soul filled with
mortification and shame. In a sort of daze he approached the cigar
stand and asked for a box of cigarettes.

"What kind?" demanded the clerk, laying down his newspaper.

Harvey smiled engagingly. "Oh, the kind I usually get!" he said,
feeling sure that the fellow remembered him and the quality he

"What's that?" snapped the clerk, scowling.

The purchaser hastily mentioned a certain kind of cigarette, paid for
it after the box had been tossed at him, and walked away. Fixed in his
determination to stay in the place until he was well thawed out, he
took a seat at a little table near the stairway and ordered a hot

He was conscious of a certain amount of attention from the tables
adjacent to the trio he had accosted. Several loud guffaws came to his
ears as he sipped the boiling drink. Taking an unusually copious
swallow, he coughed and spluttered as the liquid scalded his tongue
and palate. The tears rushed to his eyes. From past experience he knew
that his tongue would be sore for at least a week. He had such a
tender tongue, Nellie said.

For half an hour he sat there dreaming and brooding. It was much
better than tramping the streets. A clock on the opposite wall pointed
to four o'clock. The matinée would be over at a quarter to five.
Presently he looked again. It was five minutes past four. Really it
wasn't so bad waiting after all; not half so bad as he had thought it
would be.

Some one tapped him on the shoulder. He looked up with a start. The
manager of the place stood at his elbow.

"This isn't a railway station, young feller," he said, harshly.
"You'll have to move on. These tables are for customers."

"But I've bought----"

"Now, don't argue about it. You heard what I said. Move along."

The man's tone was peremptory. Poor Harvey looked around as if in
search of a single benevolent face, and then, without a word of
protest, arose and moved quickly toward the door. His eyes were fixed
in a glassy stare on the dancing, elusive doorway. He wondered if he
could reach it before he sank through the floor. Somehow he had the
horrible feeling that just as he opened it to go out some one would
kick him from behind. He could almost feel the impact of the boot and
involuntarily accelerated his speed as he opened the door to pass into
the biting air of the now darkening street.

"I hate this damned town," said he to himself over and over again as
he flung himself against the gale that almost blew him off his feet.
When he stopped to take his bearings, he was far above Longacre Square
and still going in the wrong direction. He was befuddled. A policeman
told him in hoarse, muffled tones to go back ten blocks or so if he
wanted to find the theatre where Nellie Duluth was playing.

A clock in an apothecary's shop urged him to hurry. When he came to
the theatre, the newsboys were waiting for the audience to appear. He
was surrounded by a mob of boys and men shouting the extras.

"Is the show out?" he asked one of them.

"No, sir!" shouted the boy, eagerly. "Shall I call up your automobile,

"No, thank you," said Harvey through his chattering teeth. For a
moment he felt distinctly proud and important. So shrewd a judge of
humanity as a New York "newsy" had taken him to be a man of parts. For
awhile he had been distressed by the fear, almost the conviction, that
he was regarded by all New York as a "jay."

Belying his suddenly acquired air of importance, he hunched himself up
against the side of the building, partly sheltered from the wind, and
waited for the crowd to pour forth. With the appearance of the first
of those home-goers he would repair to the stage door, and, once
behind the scenes, was quite certain that he would receive an
invitation from Nellie to join the gay little family supper party in
her dressing-room.

When the time came, however, he approached the doorman with
considerable trepidation. He had a presentiment that there would be
"no admittance." Sure enough, the grizzled doorman, poking his head
out, gruffly informed him that no one was allowed "back" without an
order from the manager. Harvey explained who he was, taking it for
granted that the man did not know him with his coat-collar turned

"I know you, all right," said the man, not unkindly. "I'd like to let
you in, but--you see----" He coughed and looked about rather
helplessly, avoiding the pleading look in the visitor's eyes.

"It's all right," Nellie's husband assured him, but an arm barred the

"I've got strict orders not to admit you," blurted out the doorman,
hating himself.

"Not to admit me!" said Harvey, slowly.

"I'm sorry, sir. Orders is orders."

"But my little girl is there."

"Yes, sir, I understand. The orders are for you, sir, not for the
kid." Struck by the look in the little man's eyes he hastened to say,
"Maybe if you saw Mr. Ripton out front and sent a note in to Miss
Duluth, she'd change her mind and----"

"Good Lord!" fell from Harvey's lips as he abruptly turned away to
look for a spot where he could hide himself from every one.

Two hours later, from his position at the mouth of the alley, he saw a
man come out of the stage door and blow a whistle thrice. He was
almost perishing with cold; he was sure that his ears were frozen. A
sharp snap at the top of each of them and a subsequent warmth urged
him to press quantities of snow against them, obeying the old rule
that like cures like. From the kitchens of a big restaurant came the
odours of cooking foodstuffs. He was hungry on this Merry Christmas
night, but he would not leave his post. He had promised to wait for
Phoebe and take her out home with him in the train.

With the three blasts of the whistle he stirred his numb feet and
edged nearer to the stage door. A big limousine came rumbling up the
alley from behind, almost running him down. The fur-coated chauffeur
called him unspeakable names as he passed him with the emergency
brakes released.

Before he could reach the entrance, the door flew open and a small
figure in fur coat and a well known white hat was bundled into the
machine by a burly stage hand. A moment later Annie clambered in, the
door was slammed and the machine started ahead.

He shouted as he ran, but his cry was not heard. As the car careened
down the narrow lane, throwing snow in all directions, he dropped into
a dejected, beaten walk. Slowly he made his way in the trail of the
big car--it was too dark for him to detect the colour, but he felt it
was green--and came at last to the mouth of the alley, desolate,
bewildered, hurt beyond all understanding.

For an instant he steadied himself against the icy wall of a building,
trying to make up his mind what to do next. Suddenly it occurred to
him that if he ran hard and fast he could catch the train--the
seven-thirty--and secure a bit of triumph in spite of circumstances.

He went racing up the street toward Sixth Avenue, dodging head-lowered
pedestrians with the skill of an Indian, and managed to reach
Forty-second Street without mishap or delay. Above the library he was
stopped by a policeman, into whose arms he went full tilt, almost
bowling him over. The impact dazed him. He saw many stars on the
officer's breast. As he looked they dwindled into one bright and
shining planet and a savage voice was bellowing:--

"Hold still or I'll bat you over the head!"

"I'm--I'm trying to make the seven-thirty," he panted, wincing under
the grip on his arm.

"We'll see about that," growled the policeman.

"For Heaven's sake, Mr. Policeman, I haven't done anything. Honest,
I'm in a hurry. My little girl's on that train. We live in Tarrytown.
She'll cry her eyes out if I----"

"What was you running for?"

"For it," said Harvey, at the end of a deep breath.

"It's only seven-five now," said the officer, suspiciously.

"Well, it's the seven-ten I want, then," said Harvey, hastily.

"I guess I'll hold you here and see if anybody comes chasin' up after
you. Not a word, now. Close your trap."

As no one came up to accuse the prisoner of murder, theft, or
intoxication, the intelligent policeman released him at the expiration
of fifteen minutes. A crowd had collected despite the cold. Harvey was
always to remember that crowd of curious people; he never ceased
wondering where they came from and why they were content to stand
there shivering in the zero weather when there were stoves and steam
radiators everywhere to be found. To add to his humiliation at least a
dozen men and boys, not satisfied with the free show as far as it had
gone, pursued him to the very gates in the concourse.

"Darned loafers!" said Harvey, hotly, but under his breath, as he
showed his ticket and his teeth at the same time. Then he rushed for
the last coach and swung on as it moved out.

Now, if I were inclined to be facetious or untruthful I might easily
add to his troubles by saying that he got the wrong train, or
something of the sort, but it is not my purpose to be harder on him
than I have to be.

It was the right train, and, better still, Annie and Phoebe were in
the very last seat of the very last coach. With a vast sigh he dropped
into a vacant seat ahead of them and began fanning himself with his
hat, to the utter amazement of onlookers, who had been disturbed by
his turbulent entrance.

The newspaper Annie was reading fell from her hands.

"My goodness, sir! Where did you come from?" she managed to inquire.

"I've been--dining--at--Sherry's," he wheezed. "Annie, will you look
and see if my ears are frozen?"

"They are, sir. Good gracious!"

He realised that he had been indiscreet.

"I--I sat in a draught," he hastened to explain. "Did you have a nice
time, Phoebe?"

The child was sleepy. "No," she said, almost sullenly. His heart gave
a bound. "Mamma wouldn't let me eat anything. She said I'd get fat."

"You had quite enough to eat, Phoebe," said Annie.

"I didn't," said Phoebe.

"Never mind," said her father, "I'll take you to Sherry's some day."

"When, daddy?" she cried, wide awake at once. "I like to go to places
with you."

He faltered. "Some day after mamma has gone off on the road. We'll be
terribly gay, while she's away, see if we ain't."

Annie picked up the paper and handed it to him.

"Miss Duluth ain't going on the road, sir," she said. "It's in the

He read the amazing news. Annie, suddenly voluble, gave it to him by
word of mouth while he read. It was all there, she said, to prove
what she was telling him. "Just as if I couldn't read!" said Harvey,
as he began the article all over again after perusing the first few
lines in a perfectly blank state of mind.

"Yes, sir, the doctor says she can't stand it on the road. She's got
nervous prosperity and she's got to have a long rest. That Miss Brown
is going to take her place in the play after this week and Miss Duluth
is going away out West to live for awhile to get strong again.
She----What is the name of the town, Phoebe?"

"Reno," said Phoebe, promptly.

"But the name of the town isn't in the paper, sir," Annie informed
him. "It's a place where people with complications go to get rid of
them, Miss Nellie says. The show won't be any good without her, sir. I
wouldn't give two cents to see it."

He sagged down in the seat, a cold perspiration starting out all over
his body.

"When does she go--out there!" he asked, as in a dream.

"First of next week. She goes to Chicago with the company and then
right on out to--to--er--to----"

"Reno," said he, lifelessly.

"Yes, sir."

He did not know how long afterward it was that he heard Phoebe saying
to him, her tired voice barely audible above the clacking of the

"I want a drink of water, daddy."

His voice seemed to come back to him from some far-away place. He
blinked his eyes several times and said, very wanly:--

"You mustn't drink water, dearie. It will make you fat."



He waited until the middle of the week for some sign from her; none
coming, he decided to go once more to her apartment before it was too
late. The many letters he wrote to her during the first days after
learning of her change of plans were never sent. He destroyed them. A
sense of shame, a certain element of pride, held them back. Still, he
argued with no little degree of justice, there were many things to be
decided before she took the long journey--and the short step she was
so plainly contemplating.

It was no more than right that he should make one last and determined
effort to save her from the fate she was so blindly courting. It was
due her. She was his wife. He had promised to cherish and protect her.
If she would not listen to the appeal, at least he would have done his
bounden duty.

There was an ever present, ugly fear, too, that she meant, by some
hook or crook, to rob him of Phoebe.

"And she's as much mine as hers," he declared to himself a thousand
times or more.

Behind everything, yet in plain view, lay his own estimate of
himself--the naked truth--he was "no good!" He had come to the point
of believing it of himself. He was not a success; he was quite the
other thing. But, granting that, he was young and entitled to another
chance. He could work into a partnership with Mr. Davis if given the

Letting the midweek matinée slip by, he made the plunge on a Thursday.
She was to leave New York on Sunday morning; that much he knew from
the daily newspapers, which teemed with Nellie's breakdown and its
lamentable consequences. It would be at least a year, the papers said,
before she could resume her career on the stage. He searched the
columns daily for his own name, always expecting to see himself in
type little less conspicuous than that accorded to her, and
stigmatised as a brute, an inebriate, a loafer. It was all the same to
him--brute, soak, or loafer. But even under these extraordinary
conditions he was as completely blanketed by obscurity as if he never
had been in existence.

Sometimes he wondered whether she could get a divorce without
according him a name. He had read of fellow creatures meeting death
"at the hand of a person (or of persons) unknown." Could a divorce
complaint be worded in such non-committal terms? Then there was that
time-honoured shroud of private identity, the multitudinous John Doe.
Could she have the heart to bring proceedings against him as John Doe?
He wondered.

If he were to shoot himself, so that she might have her freedom
without going to all the trouble of a divorce or the annoyance of a
term of residence in Reno, would she put his name on a tombstone? He

A strange, a most unusual thing happened to him just before he left
the house to go to the depot. He was never quite able to account for
the impulse which sent him upstairs rather obliquely to search through
a trunk for a revolver, purchased a couple of years before, following
the report that housebreakers were abroad in Tarrytown, and which he
had promptly locked away in his trunk for fear that Phoebe might get
hold of it.

He rummaged about in the trunk, finally unearthing the weapon. He
slipped it into his overcoat pocket with a furtive glance over his
shoulder. He chuckled as he went down the stairs. It was a funny thing
for him to do, locking the revolver in the trunk that way. What
burglar so obliging as to tarry while he went through all the
preliminaries incident to destruction under the circumstances? Yes, it
was stupid of him.

He did not consider the prospect of being arrested for carrying
concealed weapons until he was halfway to the city, and then he broke
into a mild perspiration. From that moment he eyed every man with
suspicion. He had heard of "plain clothes men." They were the very
worst kind. "They take you unawares so," said he to himself, with
which he moved closer to the wall of the car, the more effectually to
conceal the weapon. It wouldn't do to be caught going about with a
revolver in one's pocket. That would be the very worst thing that
could happen. It would mean "the Island" or some other such place, for
he could not have paid a fine.

It occurred to him, therefore, that it would be wiser to get down at
One Hundred and Tenth street and walk over to Nellie's. The policemen
were not so thick nor so bothersome up there, he figured, and it was a
rather expensive article he was carrying; one never got them back from
the police, even if the fine were paid.

Footsore, weary, and chilled to the bone, he at length came to the
apartment building wherein dwelt Nellie Duluth. In these last few
weeks he had developed a habit of thinking of her as Nellie Duluth, a
person quite separate and detached from himself. He had come to regard
himself as so far removed from Nellie Duluth that it was quite
impossible for him to think of her as Mrs.--Mrs.--he had to rack his
brain for the name, the connection was so remote.

He had walked miles--many devious and lengthening miles--before
finally coming to the end of his journey. Once he came near asking a
policeman to direct him to Eighty-ninth Street, but the sudden
recollection of the thing he carried stopped him in time. That and the
discovery of a sign on a post which frostily informed him that he was
then in the very street he sought.

It should go without the saying that he hesitated a long time before
entering the building. Perhaps it would be better after all to write
to her. Somewhat sensibly he argued that a letter would reach her,
while it was more than likely he would fall short of a similar
achievement. She couldn't deny Uncle Sam, but she could slam the door
in her husband's face. Yes, he concluded, a letter was the thing.
Having come to this half-hearted decision, he proceeded to argue
himself out of it. Suppose that she received the letter, did it follow
that she would reply to it? He might enclose a stamp and all that sort
of thing, but he knew Nellie; she wouldn't answer a letter--at least,
not that kind of letter. She would laugh at it, and perhaps show it to
her friends, who also would be vastly amused. He remembered some of
them as he saw them in the café that day; they were given to
uproarious laughter. No, he concluded, a letter was not the thing. He
must see her. He must have it out with her, face to face.

So he went up in the elevator to the eleventh floor, which was the top
one, got out and walked down to the sixth, where she lived. Her name
was on the door plate. He read it three or four times before
resolutely pressing the electric button. Then he looked over his
shoulder quickly, impelled by the queer feeling that some one was
behind him, towering like a dark, threatening shadow. A rough hand
seemed ready to close upon his shoulder to drag him back and down. But
no one was there. He was alone in the little hall. And yet something
was there. He could feel it, though he could not see it; something
sinister that caused him to shiver. His tense fingers relaxed their
grip on the revolver. Strangely the vague thing that disturbed him
departed in a flash and he felt himself alone once more. It was very
odd, thought he.

Rachel came to the door. She started back in surprise, aye, alarm,
when she saw the little man in the big ulster. A look of consternation
sprang into her black eyes.

He opened his lips to put the natural question, but paused with the
words unuttered. The sound of voices in revelry came to his ears from
the interior of the apartment, remote but very insistent. Men's voices
and women's voices raised in merriment. His gaze swept the exposed
portion of the hall. Packing boxes stood against the wall, piled high.
The odour of camphor came out and smote his sense of smell.

Rachel was speaking. Her voice was peculiarly hushed and the words
came quickly, jerkily from her lips.

"Miss Duluth is engaged, sir. I'm sorry she will not be able to see

He stared uncertainly at her and beyond her.

"So she's packing her things," he murmured, more to himself than to
the servant. Rachel was silent. He saw the door closing in his face. A
curious sense of power, of authority, came over him. "Hold on," he
said sharply, putting his foot against the door. "You go and tell her
I want to see her. It's important--very important!"

"She has given orders, sir, not to let you----"

"Well, I'm giving a few orders myself, and I won't stand for any back
talk, do you hear? Who is the master of this place, tell me that?" He
thumped his breast with his knuckles. "Step lively, now. Tell her I'm

He pushed his way past her and walked into what he called the
"parlour," but what was to Nellie the "living-room." Here he found
numerous boxes, crates, and parcels, all prepared for shipment or
storage. Quite coolly he examined the tag on a large crate. The word
"Reno" smote him. As he cringed he smiled a sickly smile without being
conscious of the act. "Wait a minute," he called to Rachel, who was
edging in an affrighted manner toward the lower end of the hall and
the dining-room. "What is she doing?"

Rachel's face brightened. He was going to be amenable to reason.

"It's a farewell luncheon, sir. She simply can't be disturbed. I'll
tell her you were here."

"You don't need to tell her anything," said he, briskly. The sight of
those crates and boxes had made another man of him. "I'll announce
myself. She won't----"

"You'd better not!" cried Rachel, distractedly. "There are some men
here. They will throw you out of the apartment. They're big enough,

He grinned. His fingers took a new grip on the revolver.

"Napoleon wasn't as big as I am," he said, much to Rachel's distress.
It sounded very mad to her. "Size isn't everything."

"For Heaven's sake, sir, please don't----"

"They seem to be having a gay old time," said he, as a particularly
wild burst of laughter came from the dining-room. He hesitated. "Who
is out there?"

Rachel was cunning. "I don't know the names, sir. They're--they're
strangers to me."

At that instant the voice of Fairfax came to his ears, loudly
proclaiming a health to the invalid who was going to Reno. Harvey
stood there in the hall, listening to the toast. He heard it to the
end, and the applause that followed. If he were to accept the
diagnosis of the speaker, Nellie was repairing to Reno to be cured of
an affliction that had its inception seven years before, a common
malady, but not fatal if taken in time. The germ, or, more properly
speaking, the parasite, unlike most bacteria, possessed but two legs,
and so on and so forth.

The laughter was just dying away when Harvey--who recognised himself
as the pestiferous germ alluded to--strode into the room, followed by
the white-faced Rachel.

"Who was it, Rachel?" called out Nellie, from behind the enormous
centrepiece of roses which obstructed her view of the unwelcome

The little man in the ulster piped up, shrilly:--

"She don't know my name, but I guess you do, if you'll think real

There were ten at the table, flushed with wine and the exertion of
hilarity. Twenty eyes were focussed on the queer, insignificant little
man in the doorway. If they had not been capable of focussing them on
anything a moment before, they acquired the power to do so now.

Nellie, staring blankly, arose. She wet her lips twice before

"Who let you in here?" she cried, shrilly.

One of the men pushed back his chair and came to his feet a bit

"What the deuce is it, Nellie?" he hiccoughed.

Nellie had her wits about her. She was very pale, but she was calm.
Instinctively she felt that trouble--even tragedy--was confronting
her; the thing she had feared all along without admitting it even to

"Sit down, Dick," she commanded. "Don't get excited, any of you. It's
all right. My husband, that's all."

The man at her right was Fairfax. He was gaping at Harvey with horror
in his face. He, too, had been expecting something like this.
Involuntarily he shifted his body so that the woman on the other side,
a huge creature, was partially between him and the little man in the

"Get him out of here!" he exclaimed. "He's just damned fool enough to
do something desperate if we----"

"You shut up!" barked Harvey, in a sudden access of fury. "Not a word
out of you, you big bully."

"Get him out!" gasped Fairfax, holding his arm over his face. "What
did I tell you? He's crazy! Grab him, Smith! Hurry up!"

"Grab him yourself!" retorted Smith, in some haste. "He's not gunning
for me."

What there was to be afraid of in the appearance of the little
ulstered man who stood there with his hands in his pockets I cannot
for the life of me tell, but there was no doubt as to the
consternation he produced in the midst of this erstwhile jovial crowd.
An abrupt demand of courtesy urged him to raise his hand to doff his
hat in the presence of ladies. Twenty terrified eyes watched the
movement as if ten lives hung on the result thereof. Half of the
guests were standing, the other half too petrified to move. A husband
is a thing to strike terror to the heart, believe me, no matter how
trivial he may be, especially an unexpected husband.

"Go away, Harvey!" cried Nellie, placing Fairfax between herself and
the intruder.

"Don't do that!" growled the big man, sharply. "Do you suppose I want
him shooting holes through me in order to get at you?"

"Is he going to shoot?" wailed one of the women, dropping the
wineglass she had been holding poised near her lips all this time. The
tinkle of broken glass and the douche of champagne passed unnoticed.
"For God's sake, let me get out of here!"

"Keep your seats, ladies and gents," said Harvey, hastily, beginning
to show signs of confusion. "I just dropped in to see Nellie for a few
minutes. Don't let me disturb you. She can step into the parlour, I
guess. They'll excuse you, Nellie."

"I'll do nothing of the sort," snapped Nellie, noting the change in
him. "Go away or I'll have a policeman called."

He grinned. "Well, if you do, he'll catch me with the goods," he said,

"The goods?" repeated Nellie.

"Do you want to see it?" he asked, fixing her with his eyes. As he
started to withdraw his hand from his overcoat pocket, a general cry
of alarm went up and there was a sudden shifting of positions.

"Don't do that!" roared two or three of the men in a breath.

"Keep that thing in your pocket!" commanded Fairfax, huskily, without
removing his gaze from the arm that controlled the hidden hand.

Harvey gloated. He waved the hand that held his hat. "Don't be
alarmed, ladies," he said. "You are quite safe. I can hit a silver
dollar at twenty paces, so there's no chance of anything going wild."

"For God's sake!" gasped Fairfax. Suddenly he disappeared beneath the
edge of the table. His knees struck the floor with a resounding

"Get away from me!" shrieked the corpulent lady, kicking at him as
she fled the danger spot.

Harvey stooped and peered under the table at his enemy, a broad grin
on his face. Fairfax took it for a grin of malevolence.

"Peek-a-boo!" called Harvey.

"Don't shoot! For the love of Heaven, don't shoot!" yelled Fairfax.
Then to the men who were edging away in quest of safety behind the
sideboard, china closet, and serving table:--"Why don't you grab him,
you idiots?"

Harvey suddenly realised the danger of his position. He straightened
up and jerked the revolver from his pocket, brandishing it in full
view of them all.

"Keep back!" he shouted--a most unnecessary command.

Those who could not crowd behind the sideboard made a rush for the
butler's pantry. Feminine shrieks and masculine howls filled the air.
Chairs were overturned in the wild rush for safety. No less than three
well-dressed women were crawling on their hands and knees toward the
only means of exit from the room.

"Telephone for the police!" yelled Fairfax, backing away on
all-fours, suggesting a crawfish.

"Stay where you are!" cried Harvey, now thoroughly alarmed by the turn
of affairs.

They stopped as if petrified. The three men who were wedged in the
pantry door gave over struggling for the right of precedence and
turned to face the peril.

Once more he brandished the weapon, and once more there were shrieks
and groans, this time in a higher key.

Nellie alone stood her ground. She was desperate. Death was staring
her in the face, and she was staring back as if fascinated.

"Harvey! Harvey!" she cried, through bloodless lips. "Don't do it!
Think of Phoebe! Think of your child!"

Rachel was stealing down the hall. The little Napoleon suddenly
realised her purpose and thwarted it.

"Come back here!" he shouted. The trembling maid could not obey for a
very excellent reason. She dropped to the floor as if shot, and,
failing in the effort to crawl under a low hall-seat, remained there,
prostrate and motionless.

He then addressed himself to Nellie, first cocking the pistol in a
most cold-blooded manner. Paying no heed to the commands and
exhortations of the men, or the whines of the women, he announced:--

"That's just what I've come here to ask you to do, Nellie; think of
Phoebe. Will you promise me to----"

"I'll promise nothing!" cried Nellie, exasperated. She was beginning
to feel ridiculous, which was much worse than feeling terrified. "You
can't bluff me, Harvey, not for a minute."

"I'm not trying to bluff you," he protested. "I'm simply asking you to
think. You can think, can't you? If you can't think here with all this
noise going on, come into the parlour. We can talk it all over quietly
and--why, great Scott, I don't want to kill anybody!" Noting an abrupt
change in the attitude of the men, who found some encouragement in his
manner, he added hastily, "Unless I have to, of course. Here, you!
Don't get up!" The command was addressed to Fairfax. "I'd kind of like
to take a shot at you, just for fun."

"Harvey," said his wife, quite calmly, "if you don't put that thing
in your pocket and go away I will have you locked up as sure as I'm
standing here."

"I ask you once more to come into the parlour and talk it over with
me," said he, wavering.

"And I refuse," she cried, furiously.

"Go and have it out with him, Nellie," groaned Fairfax, lifting his
head above the edge of the table, only to lower it instantly as
Harvey's hand wabbled unsteadily in a sort of attempt to draw a bead
on him.

"Well, why don't you shoot?" demanded Nellie, curtly.

"No! No!" roared Fairfax.

"No! No!" shrieked the women.

"For two cents I would," stammered Harvey, quite carried away by the
renewed turmoil.

"You would do anything for two cents," said Nellie, sarcastically.

"I'd shoot myself for two cents," he wailed, dismally. "I'm no use,
anyway. I'd be better off dead."

"For God's sake let him do it, Nellie," hissed Fairfax. "That's the
thing; the very thing."

Poor Harvey suddenly came to a full realisation of the position he was
in. He had not counted on all this. Now he was in for it, and there
was no way out of it. A vast sense of shame and humiliation mastered
him. Everything before him turned gray and bleak, and then a hideous

He had not meant to do a single thing he had already done. Events had
shaped themselves for him. He was surprised, dumfounded, overwhelmed.
The only thought that now ran through his addled brain was that he
simply had to do something. He couldn't stand there forever, like a
fool, waving a pistol. In a minute or two they would all be laughing
at him. It was ghastly. The wave of self-pity, of self-commiseration
submerged him completely. Why, oh why, had he got himself into this
dreadful pickle? He had merely come to talk it over with Nellie, that
and nothing more. And now, see what he was in for!

"By jingo," he gasped, in the depth of despair, "I'll do it! I'll make
you sorry, Nellie; you'll be sorry when you see me lying here all shot
to pieces. I've been a good husband to you. I don't deserve to die
like this, but----" His watery blue eyes took in the horrified
expressions on the faces of his hearers. An innate sense of delicacy
arose within him. "I'll do it in the hall."

"Be careful of the rug," cried Nellie, gayly, not for an instant
believing that he would carry out the threat.

"Shall I do it here?" he asked, feebly.

"No!" shrieked the women, putting their fingers in their ears.

"By all means!" cried Fairfax, with a loud laugh of positive relief.

To his own as well as to their amazement, Harvey turned the muzzle of
the pistol toward his face. It wabbled aimlessly. Even at such short
range he had the feeling that he would miss altogether and looked over
his shoulder to see if there was a picture or anything else on the
wall that might be damaged by the stray bullet. Then he inserted the
muzzle in his mouth.

Stupefaction held his audience. Not a hand was lifted, not a breath
was drawn. For half a second his finger clung to the trigger without
pressing it. Then he lowered the weapon.

"I guess I better go out in the hall, where the elevator is," he
said. "Don't follow me. Stay where you are. You needn't worry."

"I'll bet you ten dollars you don't do it," said Fairfax, loudly, as
he came to his feet.

"I don't want your dirty money, blast you," exclaimed Harvey, without
thinking. "Good-by, Nellie. Be good to Phoebe. Tell 'em out in
Blakeville that I--oh, tell 'em anything you like. I don't give a

He turned and went shambling down the hall, his back very stiff, his
ears very red.

It was necessary to step over Rachel's prostrate form. He got one foot
across, when she, crazed with fear, emitted a piercing shriek and
arose so abruptly that he was caught unawares. What with the start the
shriek gave him and the uprising of a supposedly inanimate mass, his
personal equilibrium was put to the severest test. Indeed, he quite
lost it, going first into the air with all the sprawl of a bronco
buster, and then landing solidly on his left ear where there wasn't a
shred of rug to ease the impact. In a twinkling, however, he was on
his feet, apologising to Rachel. But she was crawling away as fast as
her hands and knees would carry her. From the dining-room came
violent shouts, the hated word "police" dominating the clamour.

He slid through the door and closed it after him. A moment later he
was plunging down the steps, disdaining the elevator, which, however
fast it may have been, could not have been swift enough for him in his
present mood. The police! They would be clanging up to the building in
a jiffy, and then what? To the station house!

Half-way down he paused to reflect. Voices above came howling down the
shaft, urging the elevator man to stop him, to hold him, to do all
manner of things to him. He felt himself trapped.

So he sat down on an upper step, leaned back against the marble wall,
closed his eyes tightly, and jammed the muzzle of the revolver against
the pit of his stomach.

"I hate to do it," he groaned, and then pulled the trigger.

The hammer fell with a sharp click. He opened his eyes. If it didn't
hurt any more than that he could do it with them open. Why not? In a
frenzy to have it over with he pulled again and was gratified to find
that the second bullet was not a whit more painful than the first.
Then he thought of the ugly spectacle he would present if he confined
the mutilation to the abdominal region. People would shudder and say,
"how horrible he looks!" So he considerately aimed the third one at
his right eye.

Even as he pulled the trigger, and the hammer fell with the usual
click, his vision centred on the black little hole in the end of the
barrel. Breathlessly he waited for the bullet to emerge. Then, all of
a sudden, he recalled that there had been no explosion. The fact had
escaped him during the throes of a far from disagreeable death. He put
his hand to his stomach. In a dumb sort of wonder he first examined
his fingers, and, finding no gore, proceeded to a rather careful
inspection of the weapon.

Then he leaned back and dizzily tried to remember when he had taken
the cartridges out of the thing.

"Thank the Lord," he said, quite devoutly. "I thought I was a goner,
sure. Now, when did I take 'em out?"

The elevator shot past him, going upward. He paid no attention to it.

It all came back to him in a flash. He remembered that he had never
loaded it at all. A loaded pistol is a very dangerous thing to have
about the house. The little box of cartridges that came with the
weapon was safely locked away at the bottom of the trunk, wrapped in a
thick suit of underwear for protection against concussion.

Even as he congratulated himself on his remarkable foresight the
elevator, filled with excited men, rushed past him on the way down. He
heard them saying that a dangerous lunatic was at large and that he
ought to be----But he couldn't hear the rest of it, the car being so
far below him.

"By jingo!" he exclaimed, leaping to his feet in consternation.
"They'll get me now. What a blamed fool I was!"

Scared out of his wits, he dashed up the steps, three at a jump, and,
before he knew it, ran plump into the midst of the women who were
huddled at Nellie's landing, waiting for the shots and the death yells
from below. They scattered like sheep, too frightened to scream, and
he plunged through the open door into the apartment.

"Where are you, Nellie?" he bawled. "Hide me! Don't let 'em get me.
Nellie! Oh, Nellie!"

The shout would have raised the dead. Nellie was at the telephone. She
dropped the receiver and came toward him.

"Aren't you ashamed of yourself!" she squealed, clutching his arm.
"What an awful spectacle you've made of yourself--and me! You
blithering little idiot. I----"

"Where can I hide?" he whispered, hopping up and down in his
eagerness. "Hurry up! Under a bed or--anywhere. Good gracious, Nellie,
they'll get me sure!"

She slammed the door.

"I ought to let them take you and lock you up," she said, facing him.
The abject terror in his eyes went straight to her heart. "Oh, you
poor thing!" she cried, in swift compassion. "You--you wouldn't hurt a
fly. You couldn't. Come along! Quick! I'll do this much for you, just
this once. Never again! You can get down the back steps into the alley
if you hurry. Then beat it for home. And never let me see your face

Three minutes later he was scuttling down the alley as fast as his
eager legs could carry him.

Nellie was holding the front door against the thunderous assault of a
half dozen men, giving him time to escape. All the while she was
thinking of the depositions she could take from the witnesses to his
deliberate attempt to kill her. He had made it very easy for her.



He was dismally confident that he would be arrested and thrown into
jail on Friday. It was always an unlucky day for him. The fact that
Nellie had aided and abetted in his undignified flight down the
slippery back steps did not in the least minimise the peril that still
hung like a cloud over his wretched head. Of course, he understood:
she was sorry for him. It was the impulse of the moment. When she had
had time to think it all over and to listen to the advice of Fairfax
and the others, she would certainly swear out a warrant.

As a measure of precaution he had slyly tossed the revolver from a car
window somewhere north of Spuyten Duyvil, and, later on at home,
stealthily disposed of the box of cartridges.

All evening long he sat huddled up by the fireplace, listening with
all ears for the ominous sound of constabulary thumpings at the front
door. The fierce wind shrieked around the corners of the house,
rattling the shutters and banging the kitchen gate, but he heard
nothing, for his own heart made such a din in response to the
successive bursts of noise that all else seemed still by comparison.

His efforts to amuse the perplexed Phoebe were pitiful. The child took
him to task for countless lapses of memory in his recital of oft-told
and familiar fairy tales.

But no one came that night. And Friday, too, dragged itself out of
existence without a sign from Nellie or the dreaded officers of the
law. You may be sure he did not poke his nose outside the door all
that day. Somehow he was beginning to relish the thought that she
would be gone on Sunday, gone forever, perhaps. He loved her, of
course, but distance at this particular time was not likely to affect
the enchantment. In fact, he was quite sure he would worship her a
great deal more comfortably if she were beyond the border of the

The thought of punishment quite overshadowed a previous dread as to
how he was going to provide for Phoebe and himself up to the time of
assuming the job in Davis' drug store. He had long since come to the
conclusion that if Nellie persisted in carrying out her plan to
divorce him he could not conscientiously accept help from her, nor
could he expect to retain custody of the child unless by his own
efforts he made suitable provision for her. His one great hope in the
face of this particular difficulty had rested on the outcome of the
visit to her apartment, the miserable result of which we know. Not
only had he upset all of his fondest calculations, but he had heaped
unthinkable ruin in the place he had set aside for them.

There was nothing consoling in the situation, no matter how he looked
at it. More than once he regretted the emptiness of that confounded
cylinder. If there had been a single bullet in the thing his troubles
would now be over. Pleasing retrospect! But not for all the money in
the world would he again subject himself to a similar risk.

It made him shudder to even think of it. It was hard enough for him to
realise that he had had the monumental courage to try it on that never
to be forgotten occasion. As a matter of fact, he was rather proud of
it, which wouldn't have been at all possible if he had succeeded in
the cowardly attempt.

Suppose, thought he with a qualm--suppose there had been a bullet! It
was now Saturday. His funeral would be held on Saturday. By Saturday
night he would be in a grave--a lonesome, desolate grave. Nellie would
have seen to that, so that she could get away on Sunday. Ugh! It was
most unpleasant!

The day advanced. His spirits were rising. If nothing happened between
then and midnight he was reasonably secure from arrest.

But in the middle of the day the blow fell. Not the expected blow, but
one that stunned him and left him more miserable than anything else in
the world could have done.

There came a polite knock at the door. Annie admitted a
pleasant-faced, rather ceremonious young man, who said he had business
of the utmost importance to transact with Mr.--Mr.--He glanced at a
paper which he drew from his pocket, and supplying the name asked if
the gentleman was in.

Harvey was tiptoeing toward the dining-room, with Phoebe at his heels,
when the stranger entered the library.

"Pardon me," called the young man, with what seemed to Harvey
unnecessary haste and emphasis. "Just a moment, please!"

Harvey stopped, chilled to the marrow.

"It was all a joke," he said, quickly. "Just a little joke of mine.
Ha! Ha!" It was a sepulchral laugh.

"I am John Buckley, from the offices of Barnes & Canby, representing
Miss Duluth, your wife, I believe? It isn't a pleasant duty I have to
perform Mr.--Mr--er--but, of course, you understand we are acting in
the interests of our client and if we can get together on this----"

"Can't you come some other day?" stammered Harvey, holding Phoebe's
hand very tightly in his. "I'm--I'm not well to-day. We--we are
waiting now for the health officer to--to see whether it's smallpox or
just a rash of----"

The pleasant young gentleman laughed.

"All the more necessary why we should settle the question at once. If
it is smallpox the child would be quarantined with you--that would be
unfortunate. You don't appear to have a rash, however."

"It hasn't got up to my face yet," explained Harvey, feebly. "You
ought to see my body. It's----"

"I've had it," announced the young man, glibly; "so I'm immune." He

"What do you want?" demanded Harvey, bracing himself for the worst.
"Out with it. Let's see your star."

"Oh, I'm not a cop. I'm a lawyer."

The other swallowed noisily.

"A lawyer?"

"We represent Miss Duluth. I'll get down to tacks right away, if
you'll permit me to sit down." He took a chair.

"Tacks?" queried Harvey, a retrospective grin appearing on his lips.
"Gee! I wish I'd thought to put a couple----But, excuse me, I can't
talk without my lawyer being present."

The visitor stared. "You--do you mean to say you have retained

"The best in New York," lied Harvey.

Buckley gave a sigh of relief. He knew a lie when he heard one.

"I'd suggest that you send the little girl out of the room. We can
talk better if we are alone."

After Phoebe's reluctant departure, the visitor bluntly asked Harvey
which he preferred, State's prison or an amicable adjustment without

"Neither," said Harvey, moistening his lips.

Thereupon Mr. Buckley calmly announced that his client, Miss Duluth,
was willing to forego the pleasure of putting him behind the bars on
condition that he surrendered at once the person of their child--their
joint child, he put it, so that Harvey might not be unnecessarily
confused--to be reared, educated, and sustained by her, without let or
hindrance, from that time forward, so on and so forth; a bewildering
rigmarole that meant nothing to the stupefied father, who only knew
that they wanted to take his child away from him.

"Moreover," said Mr. Buckley, "our client has succeeded in cancelling
the lease on this cottage and has authorised the owner to take
possession on the first of the month--next Wednesday, that is. Monday
morning, bright and early, the packers and movers will be here to take
all of her effects away. Tuesday night, we hope, the house will be
quite empty and ready to be boarded up. Of course, Mr.--Mr.--er--, you
will see to it that whatever trifling effects you may have about the
place are removed by that time. After that, naturally, little Miss
Phoebe will be homeless unless provision is made for her by--er--by
the court. We hope to convince you that it will be better for her if
the question is not referred to a court of justice. Your own good
sense will point the alternative. Do I make myself quite clear to

"No," said Harvey, helplessly.

"Well, I'll be a little more explicit," said the lawyer, grimly. "A
warrant will be issued for your arrest before two o'clock to-day if
you do not grasp my meaning before that hour. It is twelve-ten now. Do
you think you can catch the idea in an hour and fifty minutes?"

Harvey was thoughtful. "What is the smallest sentence they can give me
if I--if I stand trial?"

"That depends," said Mr. Buckley, slightly taken aback, but without
submitting an explanation. "You don't want to bring disgrace on the
child by being branded as a jailbird, do you?"

"Nellie won't have the heart to put me in jail," groaned the unhappy
little man. "She--she just can't do it. She knows I'd die for her.

"But she isn't the State of New York," explained her counsel, briskly.
"The State hasn't anything in the shape of a heart. Now, I'm here to
settle the matter without a contest, if that's possible. If you want
to fight, all right. You know just what you'll get. Besides, isn't it
perfectly clear to you that Miss Duluth doesn't want to put you in
jail? That's her idea, pure and simple. I don't mind confessing that
our firm insisted for a long time on giving you up to the authorities,
but she wouldn't have it that way. She wants her little girl, that's
all. Isn't that perfectly fair?"

"She's--she's going to give up the house?" murmured Harvey, passing
his hand over his eyes.


"It's a mighty inconvenient time for us to--to look for another

"That's just what I've been saying to you," urged Buckley. "The
Weather Bureau says we'll have zero weather for a month or two. I
shudder to think of that poor child out in----"

"Oh, Lord!" came almost in a wail from the lips of Phoebe's father. He
covered his face with his hands. Mr. Buckley, unseen, smiled

At four o'clock Phoebe, with all her childish penates, was driven to
the station by Mr. Buckley, who, it would appear, had come prepared
for the emergency. Before leaving he gave the two servants a month's
wages and a two weeks' notice dating from the 18th of December and
left with Harvey sufficient money to pay up all the outstanding bills
of the last month--with a little left over.

We draw a curtain on the parting that took place in the little library
just before the cab drove away.

Phoebe was going to Reno.

Long, long after the departure her father lifted his half-closed blue
eyes from the coals in the grate and discovered that the room was

                  *       *       *       *       *

He understood the habits of astute theatrical managers so well by this
time that he did not have to be told that the company would journey to
Chicago by one of the slow trains. The comfort and convenience of the
player is seldom considered by the manager, who, as a rule, when there
is time to spare, transports his production by the least expensive
way. Harvey knew that Nellie and the "Up in the Air" company would
pass through Tarrytown on the pokiest day train leaving New York over
the Central. There was, of course, the possibility that the affluent
Nellie might take the eighteen-hour train, but it was somewhat

Sunday morning found him at the Tarrytown station, awaiting the
arrival or the passing of the train bearing the loved ones who were
casting him off. He was there early, bundled in his ulster, an old
Blakeville cap pulled down over his ears, a limp cigarette between his
lips. A few of the station employés knew him and passed the time of

"Going in rather early, ain't you, Mr.--Mr.--" remarked the station
master, clapping his hands to generate warmth.

"No," said Harvey, leaving the inquirer in the dark as to whether he
referred to a condition or a purpose.

A couple of hours and a dozen trains went by. Harvey, having exhausted
his supply of cigarettes, effected the loan of one from the ticket

"Waiting for some one, sir?" asked that worthy. "Or are you just down
to see the cars go by?"

"What time does the Chicago train go through?" asked Harvey.

"Any particular one?"

"No; I'm not particular."

"There's one at eleven-forty."

"I'm much obliged."

He was panic-stricken when the train at last appeared and gave
unmistakable signs of stopping at Tarrytown. Moved by an inexplicable
impulse, he darted behind a pile of trunks. His dearest hope had been
that Phoebe might be on the lookout for him as the cars whizzed
through, and that she would waft a final kiss to him. But it was going
to stop! He hadn't counted on that. It was most embarrassing.

From his hiding place he watched the long line of sleepers roll by,
slower and slower, until with a wheeze they came to a full stop. His
eager eyes took in every window that passed. There was no sign of
Phoebe. Somewhat emboldened, he ventured forth from shelter and
strolled along the platform for a more deliberate scrutiny of the

The feeling of disappointment was intense. He had never known
loneliness so great as this which came to him now. The droop to his
shoulders became a little more pronounced as he turned dejectedly to
re-enter the waiting-room. The train began to move out as he neared
the corner of the building. The last coach crept by. He watched it

A shrill cry caught his ear. His eyes, suddenly alert, focussed
themselves on the observation platform of the private car as it picked
up speed and began the diminishing process. Braced against the garish
brass bars that enclosed the little platform was Phoebe, in her white
fur coat and hood, her mittened fingers clutching the rail, above
which her rosy face appeared as the result of eager tiptoeing. The
excellent Rachel stood behind the child, cold and unsmiling.

"Hello, daddy!" screamed Phoebe, managing to toss him a kiss, just as
he had hoped and expected.

The response cracked in his throat. It was a miserable croak that he
sent back, but he blew her a dozen kisses.

"Good-bye, daddy!" came the shrill adieu, barely audible above the
clatter of the receding train.

He stood quite still until the last coach vanished up the track. The
tears on his cheeks were frozen.

Some one was speaking to him.

"Ain't you going West with 'em, Mr.--, Mr.--?" queried the baggage

Harvey gazed at him dumbly for a moment or two. Then he lifted his

"I--I've got to wait over a few days to see to the packing and storing
of my household effects," he said, briskly. Then he trudged up the

Sure enough, the packers appeared "bright and early" Monday morning,
just as Buckley had said they would. By nine o'clock the house was
upside down and by noon it was full of excelsior, tar paper, and
crating materials. The rasp of the saw and the bang of the hammer
resounded throughout the little cottage. Burly men dragged helpless
and unresisting articles of furniture about as if they had a personal
grudge against each separate piece, and pounded them, and drove nails
into them, and mutilated them, and scratched them, and splintered
them, and after they were completely conquered marked their pine board
coffins with the name "Nellie Duluth," after which they were ready for
the fireproof graveyard in Harlem.

Dazed and unsteady, Harvey watched the proceedings with the air of one
who superintends. He gave a few instructions, offered one or two
suggestions--principally as to the state of the weather--and was on
the jump all day long to keep out of the way of the energetic workmen.
He had seen Marceline at the Hippodrome on one memorable occasion.
Somehow he reminded himself of the futile but nimble clown, who was
always in the way and whose good intentions invariably were attended
by disaster.

The foreman of the gang, doubtless with a shrewd purpose in mind,
opened half the windows in the house, thus forcing his men to work
fast and furiously or freeze. Harvey almost perished in the icy
draughts. He shut the front door fifty times or more, and was
beginning to sniffle and sneeze when Bridget took pity on him and
invited him into the kitchen. He hugged the cook stove for several
hours, mutely watching the two servants through the open door of their
joint bedroom off the kitchen while they stuffed their meagre
belongings into a couple of trunks.

At last it occurred to him that it would be well to go upstairs and
pack his own trunk before the workmen got to asking questions. He
carried his set of Dickens upstairs, not without interrogation, and
stored the volumes away at the bottom of his trunk. So few were his
individual belongings that he was hard put to fill the trays compactly
enough to prevent the shifting of the contents. When the job was done
he locked the trunk, tied a rope around it and then sat down upon it
to think. Had he left anything out? He remembered something. He untied
the knots, unlocked the trunk, shifted half of the contents and put in
his fishing tackle and an onyx clock Nellie had given him for
Christmas two years before.

Later on he repeated the operation and made room for a hand saw, an
auger, a plane, and a hatchet; also a smoking-jacket she had given
him, and a lot of paper dolls Phoebe had left behind. (Late that
night, after the lights were out, he remembered the framed motto, "God
Bless Our Home," which his dear old mother had worked for him in yarns
of variegated hues while they were honeymooning in Blakeville. The
home was very cold and still, and the floor was strewn with nails, but
he got out of bed and put the treasure in the top tray of the trunk.)

Along about four in the afternoon he experienced a sensation of
uneasiness--even alarm. It began to look as if the workmen would have
the entire job completed by nightfall. In considerable trepidation he
accosted the foreman.

"If it's just the same to you I'd rather you wouldn't pack the beds
until to-morrow--that is, of course, if you are coming back

"Maybe we'll get around to 'em and maybe we won't," said the foreman,
carelessly. "We've got to pack the kitchen things to-morrow and the

"You see, it's this way," said Harvey. "I've got to sleep somewhere!"

"I see," said the foreman, and went on with his work, leaving Harvey
in doubt.

"Have a cigar?" he asked, after a doleful pause. The man took it and
looked at it keenly.

"I'll smoke it after a while," he said.

"Do the best you can about the bed in the back room upstairs," said
Harvey, engagingly.

An express wagon came at five o'clock and removed the servants'
trunks. A few minutes later the two domestics, be-hatted and cloaked,
came up to say good-bye to him.

"You're not leaving to-day?" he cried, aghast.

"If it's just the same to you, sor," said Bridget. "We've both got
places beginnin' to-morry."

"But who'll cook my----"

"Niver you worry about that, sor; I've left a dozen av eggs, some
bacon, rolls, and----"

"All right. Good-bye," broke in the master, turning away.

"Good luck, sor," said Bridget, amiably. Then they went away.

His dismal reflections were broken by the foreman, who found him in
the kitchen.

"We'll be back early in the morning and clean up everything. The van
will be here at ten. Is everything here to go to the warehouse? I
notice some things that look as though they might belong to you

There were a few pieces of furniture and bric-à-brac that Harvey could
claim as his own. He stared gloomily at the floor for a long time,
thinking. Of what use were they to him now? And where was he to put
them in case he claimed them?

"I guess you'd better store everything," he said, dejectedly.
"They--they all go together."

"The--your trunk, sir; how about that?"

"If you think you've got room for it, I----"

"Sure we have."

"Take it, too. I'm going to pack what clothes I need in a suitcase. So
much easier to carry than a trunk." He was unconsciously funny, and
did not understand the well-meant guffaw of the foreman.

It was a dreary, desolate night that he spent in the topsy-turvy
cottage. He was quite alone except for the queer shapes and shadows
that haunted him. When he was downstairs he could hear strange
whisperings above; when he was upstairs the mutterings were below.
Things stirred and creaked that had never shown signs of animation
before. The coals in the fireplace spat with a malignant fury, as if
blown upon by evil spirits lurking in the chimney until he went to bed
so that they might come forth to revel in the gloom. The howl of the
wind had a different note, a wail that seemed to come from a child in
pain; forbidding sounds came up from the empty cellar; always there
was something that stood directly behind him, ready to lay on a
ghostly hand. He crouched in the chair, feeling never so small, never
so impotent as now. The chair was partially wrapped for crating. Every
time he moved there was a crackle of paper that sounded like the
rattle of thunder before the final ear-splitting crash. As still as a
mouse he sat and listened for new sounds, more sinister than those
that had gone before; and, like the mouse, he jumped with each
recurring sound.

Towering crates seemed on the verge of toppling over upon him, boxes
and barrels appeared to draw closer together to present a barrier
against any means of escape; cords and ropes wriggled with life as he
stared at them, serpentine things that kept on creeping toward him,
never away.

Oh, for the sound of Phoebe's voice!

"Quoth the raven, nevermore!" That sombre sentence haunted him. He
tried to close his ears against it, but to no purpose. It crept up
from some inward lurking place in his being, crooning a hundred
cadences in spite of all that he could do to change the order of his

Far in the night he dashed fearfully up to his dismantled bedroom, a
flickering candle in his hand. He had gone about the place to see that
all of the doors and windows were fastened. Removing his shoes and his
coat, he hurriedly crawled in between the blankets and blew out the
light. Sleep would not come. He was sobbing. He got up twice and
lighted the candle, once to put away the motto, again to take out of
the trunk the cabinet size photograph of himself and Nellie and the
baby, taken when the latter was three years old. Hugging this to his
breast, he started back to bed.

A sudden thought staggered him. For a long time he stood in the middle
of the room, shivering as he debated the great question this thought
presented. At last, with a shudder, he urged his reluctant feet to
carry him across the room to the single gas jet. Closing his eyes he
turned on the gas full force and then leaped into the bed, holding the
portrait to his heart. Then he waited for the end of everything.

When he opened his eyes broad daylight was streaming in upon him. Some
one was pounding on the door downstairs. He leaped out of bed and
began to pull on his shoes.

Suddenly it occurred to him that by all rights he should be lying
there stiff and cold, suffocated by the escaping gas. He sniffed the
air. There was no odour of gas. With a gasp of alarm he rushed over
and turned off the stopcock, a cold perspiration coming out all over

"Gee, I hope I'm in time!" he groaned aloud. "I don't want to die.
I--I--it's different in the daytime. The darkness did it. I hope
I'm----" Then, considerably puzzled, he interrupted himself to turn
the thing on again. He stood on his toes to smell the tip. "By jingo,
I remember now, that fellow turned it off in the meter yesterday. Oh,
Lord; what a close call I've had!"

He was so full of glee when he opened the door to admit the packers
that they neglected, in their astonishment, to growl at him for
keeping them standing in the cold for fifteen or twenty minutes.

"Thought maybe you'd gone and done it," said the foreman. "Took poison
or turned on the gas, or something. You was mighty blue yesterday,
Mr.--Mr. Duluth."

With the arrival of the van he set off to pay the bills due the
tradespeople in town, returning before noon with all the receipts, and
something like $20 left over. The world did not look so dark and
dreary to him now. In his mind's eye he saw himself rehabilitated in
the sight of the scoffers, prospering ere long to such an extent that
not only would he be able to reclaim Phoebe, but even Nellie might be
persuaded to throw herself on his neck and beg for reinstatement in
his good graces. With men like Harvey the ill wind never blows long or
steadily; it blows the hardest under cover of night. The sunshine
takes the keen, bitter edge off it, and it becomes a balmy zephyr.

Already he was planning the readjustment of his fortunes.

At length the van was loaded. His suitcase sat on the front porch,
puny and pathetic. The owner of the house was there, superintending
the boarding up of the windows and doors. Harvey stood in the middle
of the walk, looking on with a strange yearning in his heart. All of
his worldly possessions reposed in that humble bag, save the cotton
umbrella that he carried in his hand. A cotton umbrella, with the
mercury down to zero!

"Well, I'm sorry you're leaving," said the owner, pocketing the keys
as he came up to the little man. "Can I give you a lift in my cutter
down to the station?"

"If it isn't too much bother," said Harvey, blinking his eyes very

"You're going to the city, I suppose."

"The city?"

"New York."

"Oh," said Harvey, wide-eyed and thoughtful, "I--I thought you meant
Blakeville. I'm going out there for a visit with my Uncle Peter. He's
the leading photographer in Blakeville. My mother's brother. No, I'm
not going to New York. Not on your life!"

All the way to the station he was figuring on how far the twenty
dollars would go toward paying his fare to Blakeville. How far could
he ride on the cars, and how far would he have to walk? And what would
his crabbed old uncle say to an extended visit in case he got to
Blakeville without accident?

He bought some cigarettes at the newsstand and sat down to wait for
the first train to turn up, westward bound.



If by any chance you should happen to stop off in the sleepy town of
Blakeville, somewhere west of Chicago, you would be directed at once
to the St. Nicholas Hotel, not only the leading hostelry of the city,
but--to quote the advertisement in the local newspaper--the principal
hotel in that Congressional district. After you had been conducted to
the room with a bath--for I am sure you would insist on having it if
it were not already occupied, which wouldn't be likely--you would
cross over to the window and look out upon Main Street. Directly
across the way you would observe a show window in which huge bottles
filled with red, yellow, and blue fluids predominated. The sign above
the door would tell you that it was a drug store, if you needed
anything more illuminating than the three big bottles.

"Davis' drug store," you would say to your wife, if she happened to be
with you, and if you have been at all interested in the history of
Mr.--Mr.--Now, what is his name?--you would doubtless add, "It seems
to me I have heard of the place before." And then you would stare hard
to see if you could catch a glimpse of the soda-water dispenser, whose
base of operations was just inside the door to the left, a marble
structure that glistened with white and silver, and created within you
at once a longing for sarsaparilla or vanilla and the delicious after
effect of stinging gases coming up through the nostrils, not
infrequently accompanied by tears of exquisite pain--a pungent pain,
if you please.

At the rush periods of the day you could not possibly have seen him
for the crowd of thirsty people who obstructed the view. Everybody in
town flocked to Davis' for their chocolate sundaes and cherry
phosphates. Was not Harvey behind the counter once more? With all the
new-fangled concoctions from gay New York, besides a few novelties
from Paris, and a wonderful assortment of what might well have been
called prestidigitatorial achievements!

He had a new way of juggling an egg phosphate that was worth going
miles to see, and as for the manner in which he sprinkled nutmeg over
the surface--well! no Delsartian movement ever was so full of grace.

Yes, he was back at the old place in Davis'. For a year and a half he
had been there. So prosperous was his first summer behind the "soda
counter" that the owner of the place agreed with him that the fountain
could be kept running all winter, producing hot chocolate, beef tea,
and all that sort of thing. Just to keep the customers from getting
out of the habit, argued Harvey in support of his plan--and his job.

You may be interested to learn how he came back to Blakeville. He was
a fortnight getting there from Tarrytown. His railroad ticket carried
him to Cleveland. From that city he walked to Chicago, his purpose
being to save a few dollars so that he might ride into Blakeville. His
feet were so sore and swollen when he finally hobbled into his Uncle
Peter's art studio, on Main Street, that he couldn't get his shoes on
for forty-eight hours after once taking them off. He confessed to a
bit of high living in his time, lugubriously admitting to his uncle
that he feared he had a touch of the gout. He was subject to it,
confound it. Beastly thing, gout. But you can't live on lobster and
terrapin and champagne without paying the price.

His uncle, a crusty and unimpressionable bachelor, was not long in
getting the truth out of him. To Harvey's unbounded surprise the old
photographer sympathised with him. Instead of kicking him out he took
him to his bosom, so to speak, and commiserated with him.

"I feel just as sorry for a married man, Harvey," said he, "as I do
for a half-starved dog. I'm always going out of my way to feed some of
these cast-off dogs around town, so why shouldn't I do the same for a
poor devil of a husband? I'll make you comfortable until you get into
Davis', but don't you ever let on to these damned women that you're a
failure, or that you're strapped, or that that measly little wife of
yours gave you the sack. No, sir! Remember who you are. You are my
nephew. I won't say as I'm proud of you, but, by thunder! I don't want
anybody in Blakeville to know that I'm ashamed of you. If I feel that
way about you, it's my own secret and it's nobody's business. So you
just put on a bold front and nobody need know. You can be quite sure
I won't tell on you, to have people saying that my poor dead sister's
boy wasn't good enough for Ell Barkley or any other woman that ever

"But it's a lesson to you. Don't--for God's sake, don't--ever let
another one of 'em get her claws on you! Here's ten dollars. Go out
and buy some ten-cent cigars at Rumley's, and smoke 'em where
everybody can see you. Ten-centers, mind you; not two-fers, the kind I
smoke. And get a new pair of shoes at Higgs'. And invite me to eat
a--an expensive meal at the St. Nicholas. It can't cost more'n a
dollar, no matter how much we order, but you can ask for lobster and
terrapin, and raise thunder because they haven't got 'em, whatever
they are. Then in a couple of days you can say you're going to help me
out during the busy season, soliciting orders for crayon portraits.
I'll board and lodge you here and give you four dollars a week to
splurge on. The only thing I ask in return is that you'll tell people
I'm a smart man for never having married. That's all!"

You may be quite sure that Harvey took to the place as a duck takes
to water. Inside of a week after his arrival--or, properly speaking,
his appearance in Blakeville, for you couldn't connect the two on
account of the gout--he was the most talked-of, most envied man in the
place. In the cigar stores, poolrooms, and at the St. Nicholas he was
wont to regale masculine Blakeville with tales of high life in the
Tenderloin that caused them to fairly shiver from attacks of the
imagination, and subsequently to go home and tell their women folk
what a gay Lothario he was, with the result that the interest in the
erstwhile drug clerk spread to the other sex with such remarkable
unanimity that no bit of gossip was complete without him. Every one
affected his society, because every one wanted to hear what he had to
say of the gay world on Manhattan Island; the life behind the scenes
of the great theatres, the life in the million dollar cafés and
hotels, the life in the homes of fashionable New Yorkers,--with whom
he was on perfectly amiable terms,--the life in Wall Street. Some of
them wanted to know all about Old Trinity, others were interested in
the literary atmosphere of Gotham, while others preferred to hear
about the fashions. But the great majority hungered for the details of
convivial escapades--and he saw to it that they were amply satisfied.
Especially were they interested in stories concerning the genus
"broiler." Oh, he was really a devil of a fellow.

When the time came for him to begin his work as a solicitor for crayon
portraits his reputation was such that not only was he able to gain
admittance to every home visited, but he was allowed to remain and
chat as long as he pleased, sometimes obtaining an order, but always
being invited to call again after the lady of the house had had time
to talk it over with her husband.

Sometimes he would lie awake in his bed trying in vain to remember the
tales he had told and wondering if the people really believed him.
Then he was prone to contrast his fiction with the truth as he knew
it, and to blame himself for not having lived the brightly painted
life when he had the opportunity. He almost wept when he thought of
what he had missed. His imagination carried him so far that he cursed
his mistaken rectitude and longed for one lone and indelible
reminiscence which he could cherish as a real tribute to that
beautiful thing called vice!

In answer to all questions he announced that poor Nellie had been
advised to go West for her health. Of the real situation he said

No day passed that did not bring with it the longing for a letter from
Nellie or a word from Phoebe. Down in his heart he was grieving. He
wanted them, both of them. The hope that Nellie would appeal to him
for forgiveness grew smaller as the days went by, and yet he did not
let it die. His loyal imagination kept it alive, fed it with daily
prayers and endless vistas of a reconstructed happiness for all of

Toward the end of his first summer at Davis' he was served with the
notice that Nellie had instituted proceedings against him in Reno. It
was in the days of Reno's early popularity as a rest cure for those
suffering from marital maladies; impediments and complications were
not so annoying as they appear to be in these latter times of ours.
There was also a legal notice printed in the Blakeville _Patriot_.

The shock laid him up for a couple of days. If his uncle meant to
encourage him by maintaining an almost incessant flow of invectives,
he made a dismal failure of it. He couldn't convince the heartsick
Harvey that Nellie was "bad rubbish" and that he was lucky to be rid
of her. No amount of cajolery could make him believe that he was a
good deal happier than he had ever been before in all his life; he
wasn't happy and he couldn't be fooled into believing he was. He was
miserable--desperately miserable. Looking back on his futile attempts
to take his own life, he realised now that he had missed two golden
chances to be supremely happy. How happy he could be if he were only
dead! He was rather glad, of course, that he failed with the pistol,
because it would have been such a gory way out of it, but it was very
stupid of him not to have gone out pleasantly--even immaculately--by
the other route.

But it was too late to think of doing it now. He was under contract
with Mrs. Davis, Mr. Davis having passed on late in the spring, and he
could not desert the widow in the midst of the busy season. His last
commission as a crayon solicitor had come through Mrs. Davis, two
months after the demise of Blakeville's leading apothecary. She
ordered a life-size portrait of her husband, to be hung in the store,
and they wept together over the prescription--that is to say, over the
colour of the cravat and the shade of the sparse thatch that covered
the head of the departed. Mrs. Davis never was to forget his
sympathetic attitude. She never quite got over explaining the
oversight that had deprived him of the distinction of being one of the
pall-bearers, but she made up for it in a measure by insisting on
opening the soda fountain at least a month earlier than was customary
the next spring, and in other ways, as you will see later on.

Just as he was beginning to rise, phoenixlike, from the ashes of his
despond, the _Patriot_ reprinted the full details of Nellie's
complaint as they appeared in a New York daily. For a brief spell he
shrivelled up with shame and horror; he could not look any one in the
face. Nellie's lawyers had made the astounding, outrageous charge of
infidelity against him!


He was stunned.

But just as he was on the point of resigning his position in the
store, after six months of glorious triumph, the business began to
pick up so tremendously that he wondered what had got into people.

His uncle chucked him in the ribs and called him a gay dog! Men came
in and ordered sundaes who had never tasted one before, and they all
looked at him in a strangely respectful way. Women smirked and giggled
and called him a naughty fellow, and said they really ought not to let
him wait on them.

All of a sudden it dawned on him that he was "somebody." He was a

The New York paper devoted two full columns to his perfidious
behaviour in the Tenderloin. For the first time in his life he stood
in the limelight. Nellie charged him with other trifling things, such
as failure to provide, desertion, cruelty; but none of these was
sufficiently blighting to take the edge off the delicious clause which
lifted him into the seventh heaven of a new found self-esteem! His
first impulse had been to cry out against the diabolical falsehood, to
deny the allegation, to fight the case to the bitter end. But on
second thought he concluded to maintain a dignified silence,
especially as he came to realise that he now possessed a definite
entity not only in Blakeville, but in the world at large. He was a
recognised human being! People who had never heard of him before were
now saying, "What a jolly scamp he is! What a scalawag!" Oh, it was
good to come into his own, even though he reached it by a crooked and
heretofore undesirable thoroughfare. Path was not the word--it was a
thoroughfare, lined by countless staring, admiring fellow creatures,
all of whom pointed him out and called him by his own name.

Mothers cautioned their daughters, commanding them to have nothing to
do with him, and then went with them to Davis' to see that the
commands were obeyed. Fathers held him up to their sons as a dreadful
warning, and then made it a point to drop in and tell him what they
thought of him with a sly wink that pleased and never offended him.

He mildly protested against the sensational charge when questioned
about it, saying that Nellie was mistaken, that her jealousy led her
to believe a lot of things that were not true, and that he felt
dreadfully cut up about the whole business, as it was likely to create
a wrong impression in New York. Of course, he went on, no one in
Blakeville believed the foolish thing! But in New York--well, they
were likely to believe anything of a fellow there!

He moved in the very centre of a great white light. Reporters came in
every day and asked him if there was anything new, hoping, of course,
for fresh developments in the great divorce case. Lawyers dropped in
to hint that they would like to take care of his interests. But there
never was anything new, and his New York lawyers were perfectly
capable of handling his affairs, particularly as he had decided to
enter no general denial to the charges. He would let her get her
divorce if she wanted it so badly as all that!

"I'd fight it," said the editor of the _Patriot_, counselling him one

"You wouldn't if you had a child to consider," said Harvey,
resignedly, quite overlooking the fact that there were nine growing
children in the editor's household.

"She's too young to know anything about it," argued the other,

Harvey shook his head. "You don't know what it is to be a father, Mr.
Brinkley. It's a terrible responsibility."

Mr. Brinkley snorted. "I should say it is!"

"You'd think of your children if your wife sued you for divorce and
charged you with----"

"I'd want my children to know I was innocent," broke in the editor,

"They wouldn't believe it if the lawyers got to cross-examining you,"
said Harvey, meaning well, but making a secret enemy of Mr. Brinkley,
who thought he knew more of a regrettable visit to Chicago than he

Late in the fall several important epoch-making things happened to
Harvey. Nellie was granted a divorce and the custody of the child. His
uncle fell ill and died of pneumonia, and he found himself the sole
heir to a thriving business and nearly three thousand dollars in bank.
Mrs. Davis blandly proposed matrimony to him, now that he was free and
she nearing the halfway stage of mourning.

He was somewhat dazed by these swift turns of the wheel of fate.

His first thought on coming into the fortune was of Phoebe, and the
opportunities it laid open to him where she was concerned. His uncle
had been dilatory in the matter of dying, but his nephew did not have
it in his kindly heart to hold it up against the old gentleman.
Still, if he had passed on a fortnight earlier, the decree might have
been anticipated by a few days and Phoebe at least saved for him.
Seeing that the poor old gentleman had to die anyway, it seemed rather
inconsiderate of fate to put it off so long as it did. As it was, he
would have to make the best of it and institute some sort of
proceedings to get possession of the child for half of the year at the

He went so far as to slyly consult an impecunious lawyer about the
matter, with the result that a long letter was sent to Nellie setting
out the facts and proposing an amicable arrangement in lieu of more
sinister proceedings. Harvey added a postscript to the lawyer's
diplomatic rigmarole, conveying a plain hint to Nellie that, inasmuch
as he was now quite well-to-do, she might fare worse than to come back
to him and begin all over again.

The letter was hardly on its way to Reno, with instructions to
forward, when he began to experience a deep and growing sense of
shame; it was a pusillanimous trick he was playing on his poor old
woman-hating uncle. Contemplating a resumption of the conjugal state
almost before the old gentleman was cold in his grave! It was
contemptible. In no little dread he wondered if his uncle would come
back to haunt him. There was, at any rate, no getting away from the
gruesome conviction, ludicrous as it may seem, that he would be
responsible for the brisk turning over of Uncle Peter, if nothing

On top of this spell of uneasiness came the surprising proposition of
Mrs. Davis. Between the suspense of not hearing from Nellie and the
dread of offending the dead he was already in a sharp state of nerves.
But when Mrs. Davis gently confided to him that she needed a live man
to conduct her affairs without being actuated by a desire to earn a
weekly salary he was completely stupefied.

"I'm afraid I don't understand, Mrs. Davis," he said, beginning to
perspire very freely.

They were seated in the parlour of her house in Brown Street. She had
sent for him.

"Of course, Harvey, it is most unseemly of me to suggest it at the
present time, seeing as I have only been in mourning for three months,
but I thought perhaps you'd feel more settled like if you knew just
what to expect of me."

"Just what to expect?"

"Yes; so's you could rest easy in your mind. It would have to be quite
a ways off yet, naturally, so's people wouldn't say mean things about
us. They might, you know, considering the way you carried on with
women in New York. Not for the world would I have 'em say or even
think that anything had been going on between you and me prior to the
time of Mr. Davis' death, but--but you know how people will talk if
they get a chance. For that reason I think we'd better wait until the
full period of mourning is over. That's only about a year longer, and
it would stop----"

"Are--are you asking me to--to marry you, Mrs. Davis?" gasped Harvey,
clutching the arms of the chair.

"Well, Harvey," said she, kindly, "I am making it easy for you to do
it yourself."

"Holy----" began he, but strangled back the word "Mike," remembering
that Mrs. Davis, a devout church member, abhorred anything that
bordered on the profane.

"Holy what?" asked she, rather coyly for a lady who was not likely to
see sixty again unless reincarnated.

"Matrimony," he completed, as if inspired.

"I know I am a few years older than you, Harvey, but you are so very
much older than I in point of experience that I must seem a mere girl
to you. We could----"

"Mrs. Davis, I--I can't do it," he blurted out, mopping his brow. "I
suppose it means I'll lose my job in the store, but, honestly, I can't
do it. I'm much obliged. It's awfully nice of you to----"

"Don't be too hasty," said she, composedly. "As I said in the
beginning, I want some one to conduct the store in Mr. Davis' place.
But I want that person to be part owner of it. No hired man, you
understand? Now, how would a new sign over the door look, with your
name right after Davis? Davis &--er--er----Oh, dear me!"

"I'll--I'll buy half of the store," floundered he. "I want to buy a
half interest."

"I won't sell," said she, flatly. "I'm determined that the store shall
never go out of the family while I am alive. There's only one way for
you to get around that, and that's by becoming a part of the family."

"Why--why, Mrs. Davis, I'm only thirty years old. You surely don't
mean to say you'd--you'd marry a kid like me? Let's see. My mother,
if she was alive, wouldn't be as old as----"

"Never mind!" interrupted she, with considerable asperity. "We won't
discuss your mother, if you please. Now, Harvey, don't be cruel. I am
very fond of you. I will overlook all those scandalous things you did
in New York. I can and will close my eyes to the wicked life you led
there. I won't even ask their names--and that's more than most women
would promise! I won't----"

"I can't do it," he repeated two or three times in rapid succession.

"Think it over, Harvey dear," said she, impressively.

"I'll buy a half interest if you'll let me, but I'll be doggoned if
I'll marry a stepmother for Phoebe, not for the whole shebang!"

"Stepmother!" she repeated, shrilly. "I don't intend to be a

"Maybe I meant grandmother," he stammered in confusion. "I'm so

"Nellie has got Phoebe. She's not yours any longer. How can I be her
stepmother? Answer that."

"You can't," said he, much too promptly.

"Well, promise me one thing, Harvey dear," she pleaded; "promise me
you'll take a month or two to think it over. We couldn't be married
for a year, in any event, so what's the sense of being in such a hurry
to settle the matter definitely?"

Harvey reflected. He found himself in a very peculiar predicament. He
had gone to her house with the avowed intention of offering her three
thousand dollars and the studio in exchange for a half interest in the
drug store. Now his long cherished dream seemed to be turning into a

"I will think it over," he said, at last, in secret desperation. "But
can't you give me a year's option?"

"On me?"

"On the store."

"Well, am I not the store?"

"No ma'am," said he, hastily. "I can't look at you in that light. I
can't think of you as a drug store."

"I am sure I would make you a good and loving wife, Harvey. If Davis
were alive he could tell you how devoted I was to him in all

"But that's just the trouble, he isn't alive!" cried poor Harvey, at
his wits' end. "Give me eight months."

"In the meantime you will up and marry some one else. Half the girls
in town are crazy--no, I won't say that," she made haste to interrupt
herself, suddenly realising the tactlessness of the remark. "Come up
to dinner next Sunday and we will talk it over again. It is the best
drug store in Blakeville, Harvey; remember that."

"I will remember it," he said, blankly, and took his departure.

As he passed Simpson's book store he dashed in and bought a New York
dramatic paper. Hurriedly looking through the route list of companies,
he found that the "Up in the Air" company was playing that week in
Philadelphia. Without consulting his attorney he telegraphed to
Nellie:--"Am in trouble. Uncle Peter is dead. Left me everything. Will
you come back? Harvey."

The next day he had a wire from Nellie, charges collect:--"If he left
you everything, why don't you pay for telegrams when you send them?

He replied:--"I was not sure you were with the company, that's why.
Shall I come to Philadelphia? Harvey."

Her answer:--"Not unless you are looking for more trouble. Nellie."

His next:--"There's a woman here who wants me to marry her. Won't you
help me? Harvey."

Her last:--"There's a man here who is going to marry me. Why don't you
marry her? Naughty! Naughty! Nellie."

He gave up in despair at this. On Sunday he allowed Mrs. Davis to
bullyrag him into a tentative engagement. Then he began to droop. He
had done a bit of investigating on his own account before going up to
dine with her. She had been married to Davis forty-two years and then
he died. If their only daughter had lived she would be forty-one years
of age, and, if married, would doubtless be the mother of a daughter
who might also in turn be the mother of a child. Figuring back, he
made out that under these circumstances Mrs. Davis might very easily
have been a great-grandmother. With this appalling thought in mind,
he was quite firm in his determination to reject the old lady's
proposal. Mrs. Davis taking Nellie's place! Pretty, gay, vivacious
Nellie! It was too absurd for words.

But he went home an engaged man, just the same.

They were to be married in September of the following year, many
months off.

That afternoon he saw a few gray hairs just above his ears and pulled
them out. After that he looked for them every day. It was amazing how
rapidly they increased despite his efforts to exterminate them. He
began to grow careless in the matter of dress. His much talked of
checked suits and lavender waistcoats took on spots and creases; his
gaudy neckties became soiled and frayed; his fancy Newmarket overcoat,
the like of which was only to be seen in Blakeville when some
travelling theatrical troupe came to town, looked seedy, unbrushed,
and sadly wrinkled. He forgot to shave for days at a time.

His only excuse to himself was, What's the use?

During the holidays, in the midst of a cheerful season of buying
presents for Phoebe--and a bracelet for Nellie--he saw in the
_Patriot_, under big headlines, the thing that served as the last
straw for his already sagging back. The announcement was being made in
all the metropolitan newspapers that "Nellie Duluth, the most popular
and the most beautiful of all the comic opera stars," was to quit the
stage forever on the first of the year to become the wife of "the
great financier, L. Z. Fairfax, long a devoted admirer."

The happy couple were to spend the honeymoon on the groom's yacht,
sailing in February for an extended cruise of the Mediterranean and
other "sunny waters of the globe," primarily for pleasure but actually
in the hope of restoring Miss Duluth to her normal state of health. A
breakdown, brought on no doubt by the publicity attending her divorce
a few months earlier, made it absolutely imperative, said the
newspapers, for her to give up the arduous work of her chosen

Harvey did not send the bracelet to her.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The long winter passed. Spring came and in its turn gave way to
summer. September drew on apace. He went about with an ever
increasing tendency to look at the wall calendar with a fixed stare
when he should have been paying attention to the congratulations that
came to him from the opposite side of the counter or showcase. His
baby-blue eyes wore the mournful, distressed look of an offending dog;
his once trim little moustache drooped over the corners of his mouth;
his shoulders sagged and his feet shuffled as he walked.

"Harvey," said Mrs. Davis, not more than a fortnight before the
wedding day, "You look terribly peaked. You must perk up for the

"I'm going into a decline," he said, affecting a slight cough.

"You are going to decline!" she shrilled, in her high, querulous

"I said 'into,' Minerva," he explained, dully.

"I do believe I'm getting a bit deaf," she said, pronouncing it

"It will be mighty tough on you if I should suddenly go into quick
consumption," said he, somewhat hopefully.

"You mustn't think of such a thing, dearie," she protested.

"No," said he, letting his shoulders sag again. "I suppose it's no

Just a week to the day before the 6th of September--the one numeral on
the calendar he could see with his eyes closed--he shuffled over to
the tailor's to try on the new Prince Albert coat and striped trousers
that Mrs. Davis was giving him for a wedding present. He puffed weakly
at the cigarette that hung from his lips and stared at the window
without the slightest interest in what was going on outside.

A new train of thought was taking shape in his brain, as yet rather
indefinite and undeveloped, but quite engaging as a matter for

"Do you know how far it is to Reno?" he asked of the tailor, who
paused in the process of ripping off the collar of the new coat.

"Couple of thousand miles, I guess. Why?"

"Oh, nothing," said Harvey, blinking his eyes curiously. "I just

"You're not thinking of going out there, are you?"

"My health isn't what it ought to be," said Harvey, staring westward
over the roof of the church down the street. "If I don't get better I
may have to go West."

"Gee, is it as bad as all that?"

Harvey's lips parted to give utterance to a vigorous response, but he
caught himself up in time.

"Maybe it won't amount to anything," he said, noncommittally. "I've
got a little cough, that's all." He coughed obligingly, in the way of

"Don't wait too long," advised the kindly tailor. "If you get after it
in time it can be checked, they say, although I don't believe it. In
the family?"

"Not yet," said his customer, absently. "A week from to-day." A
reflection which puzzled the tailor vastly.

Whatever may have been in Harvey's mind at the moment was swept away
forever by the sudden appearance in the shop door of Bobby Nixon, the
"boy" at Davis'.

"Say, Harvey," bawled the lad, "come on, quick! Mrs. Davis is over at
the store and she's red-headed because you've been away for more'n an
hour. She's got a telegram from some'eres and----"

"A telegram!" gasped Harvey, turning pale. "Who from?"

"How should I know?" shouted Bobby. "But she's got blood in her eye,
you can bet on that."

Harvey did not wait for the tailor to strip the skeleton of the Prince
Albert from his back, but dashed out of the shop in wild haste.

Mrs. Davis was behind the prescription counter. She had been weeping.
At the sight of him she burst into fresh lamentations.

"Oh, Harvey, I've got terrible news for you--just terrible! But I
won't put up with it! I won't have it! It's abominable! She ought to
be tarred and feathered and----"

Harvey began to tremble.

"Somebody's doing it for a joke, Mrs. Davis," he gulped. "I swear to
goodness I never had a thing to do with a woman in all my life.
Nobody's got a claim on me, honest to----"

"What are you talking about, Harvey?" demanded Mrs. Davis, wide-eyed.

"What does it say?" cried he, pulling himself up with a jerk. "I'm
innocent, whatever it is."

"It's from your wife," said Mrs. Davis, shaking the envelope in his
face. "Read it! Read the awful thing!"

"From--from Nellie?" he gasped.

"Yes, Eller! Read it!"

"Hold it still! I can't read it if you jiggle it around----"

She held the envelope under his nose.

"Do you see who it's addressed to?" she grated out. "To me, as your
wife. She thinks I'm already married to you. Read that name there,

He read the name on the envelope in a sort of stupefaction. Then she
whisked the message out and handed it to him, plumping herself down in
a chair to fan herself vigorously while the prescription clerk
hastened to renew his ministrations with the ammonia bottle, a task
that had been set to him some time prior to the advent of Harvey.

Suddenly Harvey gave a squeal of joy and instituted a series of hops
and bounds that threatened to create havoc in the narrow,
bottle-encircled space behind the prescription wall. He danced up and
down, waving the telegram on high, the tails of his half-finished
wedding garment doing a mad obbligato to the tune of his nimble legs.

"Harvey!" shrieked Mrs. Davis, aghast.

"Yi-i-i!" rang out his ear-splitting yell. Pedestrians half a block
away heard it and felt sorry for Mrs. Wiggs, the unhappy wife of the
town sot, who, it went without saying, must be on another "toot."

"Harvey!" cried the poor lady once more.

"She's going to faint!" shouted the prescription clerk in

"Let her! Let her!" whooped Harvey. "It's all right, Joe! Let her
faint if she wants to."

"I'm not going to faint!" exclaimed Mrs. Davis, struggling to her feet
and pushing Joe away. "Keep quiet, Harvey! Do you want customers to
think you're crazy? Give me that telegram. I'll attend to that. I'll
answer it mighty quick, let me tell you. Give it to me."

Harvey sobered almost instantly. His jaw fell. The look in her face
took all the joy out of his.

"Isn't--isn't it great, Minerva?" he murmured, as he allowed her to
snatch the message from his unresisting fingers.

She glared at him. "Great? Why, you don't think for a moment that I'll
have the brat in my house, do you? Great? I don't see what you can be
thinking of, Harvey. You must be clean out of your head. I should say
it ain't great. It's perfectly outrageous. Where's the telegraph
office, Joe? I'll show the dreadful little wretch that she can't shunt
her child off on me for support. Not much. Where is it, Joe? Didn't
you hear what I asked?"

"Yes, ma'am," acknowledged Joe, blankly.

"You can't be mean enough--I should say you don't mean to tell her we
won't take Phoebe?" gasped Harvey, blinking rapidly. "Surely you can't
be so hard-hearted as all----"

"That will do, Harvey," said she, sternly. "Don't let me hear another
word out of you. The idea! Just as soon as she thinks you're safely
married to some one who can give that child a home she up and tries to
get rid of her. The shameless thing! No, sir-ree! She can't shuffle
her brat off on me. Not if I know what I'm----"

She fell back in alarm. The telegram fluttered to the floor. Harvey
was standing in front of her, shaking his fist under her nose, his
face contorted by a spasm of fury.

"Don't you call my little girl a brat," he sputtered. "And don't you
dare to call my wife a shameless thing!"

"Your wife!" she gasped.

He waved his arms like a windmill.

"My widow, if you are going to be so darned particular about it," he
shouted, inanely. "Don't you dare send a telegram saying Phoebe can't
come and live with her father. I won't have it. She's coming just as
fast as I can get her here. Hurray!"

Mrs. Davis lost all of her sternness. She dissolved into tears.

"Oh, Harvey dear, do you really and truly want that child back again?"
she sniffled.

"Do I?" he barked. "My God, I should say I do! And say, I'd give my
soul if I could get Nellie back, too. How do you like that?"

The poor woman was ready to fall on her knees to him.

"For Heaven's sake--for my sake--don't speak of such a thing. Don't
try to get her back. Promise me! I'll let the child come, but--oh!
don't take Nellie back. It would break my heart. I just couldn't have
her around, not if I tried my----"

Harvey stared, open-mouthed. "I didn't mean that I'd like to have you
take her back, Minerva. You haven't anything to do with it."

She stiffened. "Well, if I haven't, I'd like to know who has. It's my
house, isn't it?"

"Don't make a scene, Minerva," he begged, suddenly aware of the
presence of a curious crowd in the front part of the store. "Go home
and I'll send the telegram. And say, if I were you, I'd go out the
back way."

"And just to think, it's only a week till the wedding day," she choked

"We can put it off," he made haste to say.

"I know I shall positively hate that child," said she, overlooking his
generous offer. "I will be a real stepmother to her, you mark my
words. You can let her come if you want to, Harvey, but you mustn't
expect me to treat her as anything but a--a--an orphan." She was a bit
mixed in her nouns.

A brilliant idea struck him.

"You'd better be nice to her, Mrs. Davis, if you know what's good for
you. Now, don't flare up! You mustn't forget you've broken the law by
opening a telegram not intended for you."


"It isn't addressed to you," he said, examining the envelope. "Your
name is still Mrs. Davis, isn't it?"

"Of course it is."

"Well, then, what in thunder did you open a telegram addressed to my
wife for? That's my wife's name, not yours."

"But," she began, vastly perplexed, "but it was meant for me."

"How do you know?" he demanded.

Her eyes bulged. "You--you don't mean that there is another one,

He winked with grave deliberateness. "That's for you to find out."

He darted through the back door into the alley, just as she collapsed
in the prescriptionist's arms. In the telegraph office he read and
re-read the message, his eyes aglow. It was from Nellie and came from
New York, dated Friday, the first.

  "Am sending Phoebe to Blakeville next Monday to make her home with
  you and Harvey. Letter to-day explains all. Have Harvey meet her
  in Chicago Tuesday, four P.M., Lake Shore."

He scratched his chin reflectively.

"I guess it don't call for an answer, after all," he said as much to
himself as to the operator.

Nellie's letter came the next afternoon, addressed to Harvey. In a
state of great excitement he broke the seal and read the poignant
missive with eyes that were glazed with wonder and--something even
more potent.

She began by saying that she supposed he was happily married, and
wished him all the luck in the world. Then she came abruptly to the
point, as she always did:--"I am in such poor health that the doctors
say I shall have to go to Arizona at once. I am good for about six
months longer at the outside, they say. Not half that long if I stay
in this climate. Maybe I'll get well if I go out there. I'm not very
keen about dying. I hate dead things; don't you? Now about Phoebe.
She's been pining for you all these months. She doesn't like Mr.
Fairfax, and he's not very strong for her. To be perfectly honest, he
doesn't want her about. She's not his, and he hasn't much use for
anything or anybody that doesn't belong to him. I've got so that I
can't stand it, Harvey. The poor little kiddie is so miserably
unhappy, and I'm not strong enough to get out and work for her as I
used to. I would if I could. I think Fairfax is sick of the whole
thing. He didn't count on me going under as I have. He hasn't been
near me for a month, but he says it's because he hates the sight of
Phoebe. I wonder. It wasn't that way a couple of years ago. But I'm
different now. You wouldn't know me, I'm that thin and skinny. I hate
the word, but that's what I am. The doctors have ordered me to a
little place out in Arizona. I've got to do what they say, and what
Fairfax says. It's the jumping-off place. So I'm leaving in a day or
two with Rachel. My husband says he can't leave his business, but I'm
not such a fool as he thinks. I won't say anything more about him,
except that he hasn't the courage to watch me go down by inches.

"I can't leave Phoebe with him and I don't think it best to have her
with me. She ought to be spared all that. She's so young, Harvey.
She'd never forget. You love her, and she adores you. I'm giving her
back to you. Don't--oh, please don't, ever let her leave Blakeville!
I wish I had never left it, much as I hate it. I remember your new
wife as being a kind, simple-hearted woman. She will be good to my
little girl, I know, because she is yours as well. If I could get my
health back, I'd work my heart out trying to support her, but it's out
of the question. I have nothing to give her, Harvey, and I simply will
not let Fairfax provide for her. Do you understand? Or are you as
stupid and simple as you always were? And as tender-hearted?"

There was more, but Harvey's eyes were so full of tears he could not

                  *       *       *       *       *

He was waiting in the Lake Shore station when the train pulled in on
Tuesday. His legs were trembling like two reeds in the wind and his
teeth chattered with the chill of a great excitement. Out of the blur
that obscured his vision bounded a small figure, almost toppling him
over as it clutched his not too stable legs and shrieked something
that must have pleased him vastly, for he giggled and chortled like
one gone daft with joy.

A soulless guard tapped him on the shoulder and gruffly ordered him
to "get off to one side with the kid," he was blocking the exit--and
flooding it, he added after a peep at Harvey's streaming eyes.

Rachel, tall and sardonic, stood patiently by until the little man
recovered from his ecstasies.

"I thought you were staying with my--with Mrs. Fairfax," he said,
gazing at her in amazement. He was holding Phoebe in his arms, and she
was so heavy that his face was purple from the exertion.

"You'd better put her down," said Rachel, mildly. "She's not a baby
any longer." With that she proceeded to pull the child's skirts down
over the unnecessarily exposed pink legs. Harvey was not loath to set
her down, a bit abruptly if the truth must be told. "Mrs. Fairfax is
still in the drawing-room, sir. She doesn't want to get off until the
crowd has moved out."

Harvey stared. "She's--on--the--train?"

"We change for the Santa Fe, which leaves this evening for the West.
I'll go back to her now. The way is quite clear, I think. Good-bye,
Phoebe. Be a good----"

[Illustration: Copyright, 1911, by Dodd, Mead & Company
He stopped, aghast, petrified]

"I'm going with you!" cried Harvey, breathlessly. "Take me to the

Rachel hesitated. "You will be surprised, sir, when you see her. She's
very frail, and----"

"Come on! Take me to my wife at once!"

"You forget, sir. She is not your wife any----"

"Oh, Lordy, Lordy!" fell dismally from his lips.

"And you have a new wife, I hear. So, if I were you, I'd avoid a scene

But he was through the gate, dragging Phoebe after him. Rachel could
not keep up with them. The eager little girl led him to the right car
and he scurried up the steps, bursting into drawing-room B an instant

Nellie, wrapped in a thick garment, was lying back in the corner of
the seat, her small, white face with its great dark eyes standing out
with ghastly clearness against the collar of the ulster that almost
enveloped her head.

He stopped, aghast, petrified.

"Oh, Nellie!" he wailed.

She betrayed no surprise. A wan smile transfigured her thin face.
With an effort she extended a small gloved hand. He grasped it and
found there was so little of it that it seemed lost in his palm. The
sweat broke out on his forehead. He could not speak. This was Nellie!

Her voice was low and husky.

"Good-bye, Harvey. Be good to Phoebe, old fellow."

He choked up and could only nod his head.

"We can get out now, Mrs. Fairfax," said Rachel, appearing at the
door. "Do you think you can walk, or shall I call for a----"

"Oh, I can walk," said Nellie, with a touch of her old raillery. "I'm
not that far gone. Good-bye, Harvey. Didn't you hear me? Don't stand
there watching me like that. It's bad enough without----"

He turned on Rachel furiously.

"Where is that damned Fairfax? Why isn't he here with her? The dog!"

"Hush, Harvey!"

"He's mean to mamma," broke in Phoebe, in her high treble. "I hate
him. And so does mamma. Don't you, mamma?"

"Phoebe! Be quiet!"

"Where is he?" repeated Harvey, shaking his finger in Rachel's face.

"What are you blaming me for?" demanded the maid, indignantly.
"Everybody blames me for everything. He's in New York, that's where he
is. Now, you get out of here!"

She actually shoved him out into the aisle, where he stood trembling
and uncertain, while she assisted her mistress to her feet and led her
haltingly toward the exit.

Nellie looked back over her shoulder at him, quite coquettishly. She
shook her head at him in mild derision.

"My, what a fire-eater my little Harvey has become," she said. He
barely heard the words. "Your new wife must be scared half out of her
wits all the time."

He sprang to her side, gently taking her arm in his hand. She lurched
toward him ever so slightly. He felt the weight of her on his arm and
marvelled that she was so much lighter than Phoebe.

"I'm not married, Nellie dear!" he cried. "It's not to be till Friday.
You got the date wrong. And it won't be Friday, either. No, sir! I'm
not going to let you go all the way out there alone. I said I'd look
out for you when we were married, and I'm going to. You've got a
husband, but what good is he to you? He's a brute. Yes, sir; I'm going
with you and I don't give a cuss who knows it. See here! See this wad
of bills? Well, by jingo, there's more than three thousand dollars
there. I drew it out this morning to give to you if you were hard up.

"Oh, Harvey, what a perfect fool you are!" she cried, tears in her
eyes. "You always were a fool. Now you are a bigger one than ever. Go
away, please! I can get along all right. Fairfax is paying for
everything. Put that roll away! Do you want to be held up right here
in the station?"

"And I've still got the photograph gallery," he went on. "It's rented
and I get $40 a month out of it. I'll take care of you, Nellie. I'll
see you safely out there. Then maybe I'll have to come back and marry
old Mrs. Davis, God help me! I hate to think of it, but she's got her
mind set on it. I don't believe I can get out of it. But she'll have
to postpone it, I can tell you that, whether she likes it or not.
Maybe she'll call it off when she hears I've eloped with another
man's wife. She thinks I'm a perfect scamp with women, anyway, and
this may turn her dead against me. Gee, I hope it does! Say, let me go
along with you, Nellie; please do. You and I won't call it an
elopement, but maybe she will and that would save me. And that beast
of a Fairfax won't care, so what's the harm?"

"No," said Nellie, looking at him queerly. "Fairfax won't care. You
can be sure of that."

"Then I'm with you, Nellie!" he shouted.

"You are a perfectly dreadful fool, Harvey," she said, huskily.

"I know it!" he exclaimed.


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