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Title: Barbara Ladd
Author: Roberts, Charles George Douglas, Sir, 1860-1943
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 "Barbara Ladd" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Frontispiece: _Leaning over the edge of the porch she dropped the
bundle soundlessly into a bed of marigolds_. (_Page_ 13)]



BARBARA LADD


BY

CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS



  AUTHOR OF

  THE KINDRED OF THE WILD, THE HEART OF THE
  ANCIENT WOOD, A SISTER TO EVANGELINE,
  POEMS, ETC.



ILLUSTRATED BY

FRANK VERBECK



NEW YORK

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1902,

BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
  (Incorporated).

All Rights Reserved.



Published October, 1902


Eighth Impression, April, 1908.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"LEANING OVER THE EDGE OF THE PORCH SHE DROPPED THE BUNDLE
  SOUNDLESSLY INTO A BED OF MARIGOLDS" (_See page 13_) . . . _Frontispiece_

"'WHAT A NICE-LOOKING BOY YOU ARE!' SHE SAID"

"'O MEHITABLE--DEMORALISED--BY BARBARA!' VOWED DOCTOR JOHN"

"HE SANK OFF AGAIN, FALLING BACK INTO BARBARA'S SUPPORTING ARMS"



BARBARA LADD



CHAPTER I.

She knew very well that she should have started earlier; but if there
was one thing that could daunt her wayward and daring little spirit, it
was the dark.  Now, as she stood, wide-eyed and breathless with
suspense, beside her open window, the face of the dark began to change.
A gray pallor came over it, and on a sudden she was aware of a black
horizon line, ghostly, lonely beyond words, far to the eastward over
the yet invisible tree-tops.  With this pallor came a chill which
Barbara felt on her little, trembling hands, on her eyes, and in her
heart: as if the night, in going, had laid aside its benignity and
touched the world in farewell with a cold hand of warning and menace.
Then, here and there a leaf stood out, palely distinct, upon the thick
frondage of the apple-tree whose nearest branches crowded the roof of
the porch below her window.  There was a faint chirping from the heart
of the syringa thicket; and Barbara's ears were so attentive that she
caught the drowsy, awakening flutter of small wings down below in the
dewy gloom.  With the sound came a cool and delicate pungency from the
wet currant bushes, puffed upward to her as if the garden world beneath
the leaves had drawn a long breath in getting ready to awake.  This
tonic scent, which nostrils less keen than Barbara's would scarcely
have discerned, came to the child as a signal for action.  Peculiarly
sensitive to the message and influence of odours, she felt this sudden
fragrance in her nerves as a summons, a promise, and a challenge, all
in one.  Noiselessly she pushed the two diamond-paned leaves of her
window open to their widest.  How the grayness was spreading!  A pang
of apprehension seized her, lest she had delayed too long.  She turned
impulsively, and stepped into the darkness of her room.

In a moment her slim little figure reappeared at the window, this time
heavily encumbered.  In one hand was a round, soft bundle, in the other
a square wicker basket with a white cloth tied over the top.  The white
cloth glimmered conspicuously, but the light was not yet strong enough
to reveal the colour of the bundle.  Setting both the burdens out upon
the roof of the porch, she turned, glanced in at the window, and said,
softly:

"Good-bye, little room!  I haven't been happy with you.  But I hope you
won't be lonely when I'm gone!"

Leaning over the edge of the porch, she dropped the bundle soundlessly
into a bed of marigolds.  The basket, on the other hand, she took up
with care.  Thrusting her left arm through the handle, she swung
herself nimbly into the apple-tree, and thence to the ground; while the
basket tipped and slewed as if it were alive.

"Be still, my babies!" she whispered; and then, picking up the bundle
from the crushed marigolds, and never turning her head to look up at
the stately old house which she was leaving, she fled down the walk
between the currant and gooseberry bushes, the thyme, the sage, and
summer savoury beds,--through a narrow wicket gate half-hidden in
larkspur and honeysuckle,--along the foot-path through the rank and
dripping burdocks back of the barn, where she felt a little qualm of
homesickness at the sound of her dear horses breathing deeply and
contentedly in the stalls,--and thence, letting down one of the bars
and crawling through with her burdens, out into the graying, hillocky
open of the cow-pasture.

By this time a cool and luminous wave of pink, changing to pale saffron
at its northeastern edges, had crept up over the far-off hilltops.
Faint tinges of colour, of a strange and unusual transparency, began to
reveal themselves all over the expanse of pasture.  As the miracle of
dawn thus overtook her, a sense of unreality came upon Barbara's soul.
She felt as if this were not she, this little girl so adventurously
running away--but rather some impossible child in a story-book, who had
so engaged her sympathies for the moment that she could not be sure
which was make-believe and which herself.  With a chill of lonesome
dread she slipped a hand under the cloth and into the basket.  The
touch of warm, live, cuddling fur reassured her, and brought her back
to her own identity.  But stranger and stranger grew the mystical
transparency, only made the more startling by a fleece of vapour here
and there curling up from between the hillocks.  Stumps, weed-tops,
patches of juniper, tufts of blueberry bush, wisps of coarse grass left
uncropped, seemed to detach themselves, lift, and float in the solvent
clarity of that new-born air, that new-born light.  Surely, this was
not her old, familiar world!  Barbara stood still, her great eyes
dilating, her lips parted in a kind of ecstasy, as sense and spirit
alike drank in the marvel of the dawn.  It seemed to her as if she
discovered, in that moment, that the world was made anew with every
morning,--and with the discovery she became aware, dimly but securely,
that she was herself a part of the imperishable, ever-renewing life.

She was brought back to more instant considerations by the sudden
appearance of a red-and-white cow, which got up with a great, windy,
grunting breath, and came toward her out of a misty hollow.  With all
the cows of the herd Barbara was in high favour, but just now the sight
alarmed her.

"Gracious!" she exclaimed to herself, "Abby will be out to milk in
another minute!"--and she broke into a run at the best speed that her
burdens would permit, making for the maple woods which lay to the north
of the pasture.  The cow looked and mooed after her wistfully,
wondering at her flight, and aching for the relief of the milker's
hand.  But Barbara paid no heed to her, nor to the others of the herd,
who now came into view from corners of the pasture as the enchanted
light grew and spread.  She darted on, vanishing in the hollows,
flitting over the hillocks, fleetly threading the crooked and slender
path,--a wisp-like, dark little figure.  Her bundle, now seen to be
tied up in a silk shawl of flamelike scarlet, and the snow-white
covering of her basket, flickered across the mystical transparency of
the landscape like bubbles of intense light blown far in advance of the
morning.

Not till she came to the other side of the pasture and plunged into the
obscurity of the woods did Barbara check her speed.  Here the dawn was
but beginning to penetrate, thrusting thin shafts of pink-amber light
here and there through the leafage, and touching the eastward sides of
trunk and branch with elusive glories.  Breathing quickly, Barbara set
down the bundle and the precious basket; but she snatched them up again
as she caught a sound of panting and running behind her.  On the
instant, however, the alarm faded from her face.

"Down, Keep!" she commanded, sharply, as the gaunt gray form of a
mastiff leaped upon her, almost carrying her off her feet.  Fawning,
and giving little yelps of joy, the huge animal crouched before her,
pounding the sward with ecstatic tail, and implored to lick her hands.
She threw both arms about the dog's head, murmuring to him, poignantly
impetuous, her voice tearful with self-reproach:

"Was his best friend going away, without ever saying good-bye to him?
Well, she was bad, she was very, very bad!"  And she wiped away several
large, surreptitious tears upon the furry folds of his neck.  Then she
sprang up and renewed her journey resolutely; while the mastiff,
bounding in front of her, showed his plain conviction that some fine,
audacious adventure was afoot, and that it would be his great luck to
have a part in it.

For more than a mile Barbara followed the wood-path, the fresh, wet
gloom lightening about her as she went.  Where the maples thinned away,
and the slenderer ash and birch took their place, she got glimpses of a
pale sky overhead, dappled with streamers of a fiery violet.  Here and
there a dripping leaf had caught the colours from above and flashed
elusive jewels upon her vision.  Here and there the dewy thickets of
witch-hazel and viburnum crowded so close about the path that her
skirts and shoulders were drenched with their scented largess.  Here
and there in her path rose suddenly a cluster of night-born
toadstools--squat, yellow, and fat-fleshed, or tall, shadowy-hooded,
and whitely venomous--over which she stepped with wary aversion.  And
once, eager as was her haste, she stopped to pick a great, lucent,
yellow orchid, which seemed to beam like a sacred lamp in its dark
green shrine beneath the alders.

At length the path dipped sharply between rocks overgrown with poison
ivy.  Then the trees thinned away before her, and the day grew at once
full of light; and the mirror-surface of a little lake, shining with
palest crocus-tint and violet and silvery rose, obscured with patches
of dissolving mist, flashed upon her eyes.  She ran down to the very
edge, where the water seemed to breathe among its fringing pebbles, and
there set down the bundle and the basket; while the dog, yelping
joyously, bounded and splashed in the shallows.

When, however, Barbara stepped up the bank to a thicket of Indian
willow, and proceeded, by dint of carefully calculated lifting and
pulling, to drag forth from its hiding-place a ruddy canoe of
birch-bark, the dog's spirits and his flaunting tail fell together.  If
Barbara's venture was to be in the canoe, he knew he should have no
part in it; and his big, doggish heart was dejected.  With his tongue
hanging from his jaws, he sat up on his brindled haunches and looked
on, while slowly and laboriously Barbara worked the frail craft down to
the water.  When it was afloat, and the resined prow pulled up into a
tuft of weeds to keep it from drifting away, Barbara fetched two
paddles from the same hiding-place.  In the bow of the canoe she stowed
her bundle and her basket.  In the stern she arranged a pile of ferns
as a cushion for her knees.  Once more she flung her arms around Keep's
massive neck, kissed his silky ears, wept violently for the smallest
fraction of a minute; and then, stepping into the canoe with the light
precision of one skilled with the birch-bark, she pushed off, and with
quick, vigorous strokes headed straight across the lake.  The dog ran
uneasily up and down the water's edge, whining and fretting after her.
When she was a little way out he made a sudden resolution, plunged into
the water, and swam eagerly after the fugitive.  But Barbara heard the
splash, and understood.  She realised that he would surely upset the
canoe in trying to get into it, and this was the time when she must
seem hard, however her heart was melting.  She looked back over her
shoulder.

"Go home, Keep!  Go home!" she commanded.

The dog turned obediently and made for shore.  And Barbara, her lips
set and the big tears rolling down her cheeks, continued her journey
out across the lake.



CHAPTER II.

It was now clear day.  The ample spaces of blue between the thin clouds
overhead grew pure, as if new bathed.  The sun was not yet visible over
the woods, but sent level shafts of radiance through the sparser
leafage.  Barbara's face was westward, and her prow, as the nervous
cunning of her paddle urged it forward, threw off the water on either
side in long, polished, fluted furrows, dazzlingly bright at the top of
the curve and steel-dark in the depression.  Child as she was, and of a
fairy slightness, Barbara's wrists were strong and she was master of
her paddle.  Her tears presently dried themselves as she noted with
exultation, by the growing depth and abruptness of these furrows from
her prow, that she was making a speed that did credit to her
canoe-craft.  In a few minutes her parting pangs were all forgotten,
and she was absorbed in racing, as it were, against herself.  She knelt
low, working her shoulders freely like a squaw, and bent every energy
to making the passage of the open before a wind out of the morning
should awake to hinder her progress.

A low, green point, deep-plumed with sedge, thrust out from the nearing
shore to meet her.  At its tip, motionless, and eloquent of ancient
mystery, poised the dream-like shape of a blue heron.  Nearer and
nearer slipped the canoe, till Barbara could discern the round,
unwinking jewel of the great bird's eye, watching her inscrutably.
Then, with leisurely spread of spacious wings, it rose and flapped
away, to renew its not wholly disinterested contemplations in a further
reed-bed.

Behind the point of sedges Barbara swept the canoe on a fine curve, and
into the channel of a little river, the quiet outlet of the lake.
Alders, osiers, and thick-starred draperies of clematis came down over
either bank.  The stream was not twenty paces wide, and its deep
current was so gentle that the long weeds on the bottom were hardly
under compulsion to show which way it flowed.

The ancient wood at this place gave back several hundred yards from the
lake, save for scattered outposts and thickets.  Rounding the first
curve of the stream,--which, indeed, seemed all curves in its
reluctance to forsake the parent water,--the canoe ran into a flock of
gray-and-white geese dabbling along the weedy margin.  The birds were
not alarmed, but they lifted their heads and clamoured a sonorous
warning; and straightway from behind the screen of leafage came a
quacking of ducks, a cackling of hens, and the excited barking of a
puppy.  Then a cock crowed shrilly.  The stream rounded to a wider
stretch, and its western bank, flooded with sunshine, showed a grassy
clearing of perhaps two acres in extent, at the back of which, close
against the primeval trees, huddled a low, gray cabin, with wide eaves
and a red door.  A hop-vine covered one end of the cabin and sprawled
over the roof.  Along the base ran a "banking" about two feet high, of
rough boards with the bark on, supported by stakes and filled in with
earth--a protection to the cellar against winter frosts.  Leaned up to
the sun, along the banking, stood wooden tubs and an iron pot; and on a
bench beside the door another tub.  In front of the door was a space of
chips, littered with axe, buck-saw, feed-troughs, parts of a broken
hand-sled, a large wicker basket with the bottom gone, and
indeterminate waifs and strays of human use.  From this space of débris
a foot-path ran down through short grass to the waterside, where a
clumsy punt was hauled up.  The place was alive with ducks and
chickens; and as Barbara came in view a stately turkey-cock swelled,
strutted, and gobbled defiance to her intrusion.

Sitting on the door-step in the sun was a sturdy old woman in greenish
homespun petticoat and bodice, with a dull red kerchief crossed upon
her shoulders and a cap of greenish-yellow linen on her head,--the soft
dye of the "yaller-weed" juice.  She was busy cutting coloured rags
into strips for mat-hooking.  At her side sat a small yellow puppy,
with head cocked and one ear alertly lifted, curious but doubtful as to
the visitor.

Barbara turned her birchen prow to the landing-place, and ran it gently
ashore in the soft mud beside the punt.  At the same moment Mrs.
Deborah Blue--known to Barbara and to all the village of Second
Westings as 'old Debby'--dropped her knitting on the stoop, snatched up
a stout stick that leaned against the door-post, and hobbled with a
heavy briskness down the path to meet the visitor.  The yellow pup
frisked interestedly at her heels.

Barbara had indeed run her prow ashore, but that was for the sake of
stability merely.  She was in haste, and had no idea of stopping now to
indulge her inclination for a gossip with old Debby.  She rested in
silence, one brown hand on the gunwale of the punt, her full, young,
wilful lips very scarlet, her gray-green eyes asparkle with mystery and
excitement, as the old woman hobbled down to greet her.

"Ain't ye comin' in to set awhile, an' eat a cooky, Miss Barby?"
inquired Mrs. Blue, wondering at the child's inscrutable look.  The old
dame's face was red and harsh and strongly lined.  Her chin was square
and thrust forward aggressively, with a gray-bristled wart at one side
of its obtrusive vigour.  A lean and iron-gray wisp of hair, escaped
from under her hat, straggled down upon her red neck.  But her shrewd,
hard, pale-blue, dauntless old eyes beamed upon the child with
unfeigned welcome.  She spoke a little wheezingly, being out of breath
from haste; and Barbara was the only soul in all the township of Second
Westings for whom old Debby would condescend to hasten.

"No, Debby dear, I can't stop one minute.  I'm not coming ashore.  I'm
running away from Aunt Hitty, and I'm going down the river to Uncle
Bob.  I just stopped to say good-bye to you, you old dear, and to ask
you to take this letter for me to Aunt Hitty.  I didn't dare to leave
it in my room, for fear she'd find it and know where I'd gone, and send
after me before I'd got a good start.  I don't like Aunt Hitty, you
know, Debby, but she's been good to me in her way, and I don't want her
to be worrying!"  She held out a folded paper for the old dame to take;
but she held it tentatively, as if she did not want to surrender it at
once.

Knowing Barbara as no one else in the township of Second Westings knew
her, old Debby betrayed neither surprise nor disapproval.  She nodded
several times, as if running away were the most reasonable, and indeed
the most ordinary, thing in the world for a little girl of fourteen
years to do when she found aunts and environments uncongenial.  Old
Debby's smile, at this moment, had just the right degree of sympathy.
Had ever so little of amusement glimmered through its weather-beaten
creases, she knew that the sensitive and wilful girl before her would
have been off in a second with her venture all unexplained.

"I'd take it fer ye, my sweeting, ef I'd got to crawl on my knees all
the way 'round the lake," the old dame answered promptly; but at the
same time, scheming to prolong the interview, and knowing that if once
Barbara started off again there would be no such thing as luring her
back, she kept both hands clasped on top of her stick and made no move
to accept the missive.

"Ain't ye goin' to read it to me?" she went on, coaxingly.  "I'd give a
sight to hear what ye're sayin' to yer Aunt Hitty."

Now this was just what Barbara wanted, in spite of her haste.  She
wanted to hear how her letter would sound.  She wanted to try it on old
Debby, in whom she felt sure of a eulogistic critic.  Without a word
she untied the yellow ribbon, opened the packet, and began to read,
with a weighty impressiveness in her childish voice:


"MY DEAR AUNT HITTY:--This is to say farewell for ever, for I have run
away.  I do not think it would be good for me to live with you any
longer, so I am going to Uncle Bob.  He loves me, and does not think I
am bad.  And I think he needs me, too, because I understand him.  I
know I have often been bad, and have made you unhappy very often, Aunt
Hitty.  But I don't think you ever understand me--and I don't
understand you--and so we cannot be happy together.  But don't be
worried about me, for I will be all right.  And I thank you for all the
trouble you have taken about me.  I don't want any of my old clothes
except what I have brought with me, so please give them to Mercy
Chapman, because she is poor and just about my size, and always kind to
animals, and I like her.  I have taken your nice basket you got from
the squaw last Saturday, to carry my kittens in; but I know you won't
mind, because you offered to give it to me when I did not know I was
going to need it.  I have taken the canoe, too, but I want to pay for
it, of course, Aunt Hitty.  Please keep enough to get a new one, and
paddles, out of the money you are taking care of for me, and send the
rest right away to Uncle Bob, because I'll need some new frocks when I
get to the city, and I don't know whether Uncle Bob has any money or
not.  Good-bye, Aunt Hitty, and I am so sorry that we could not
understand each other.

"Your niece,
  "BARBARA LADD."


She looked up, proud, but a little anxious, and eager for commendation.
Old Debby rose to the circumstances.

"Law, how you kin write, Miss Barby," she said, with a nod and chuckle.
"The parson nor Doctor Jim couldn't 'a' done no better.  I reckon Aunt
Hitty'll understand ye now, a sight better'n she's given to understand
folks as don't jest think as she do.  Give me the letter!"

Barbara's face flashed radiantly.  With a sudden impulse she sprang up,
skipped ashore, thrust the letter into the old woman's hand, and cried
in a high key:

"Oh, I'm so hungry, Debby!  I can't stop a minute, but do give me some
breakfast, there's a dear.  I was too excited to eat before I left.
And do give my kittens a drop of milk.  I've got nothing but cold meat
for them to eat on the journey, poor babies!"

Without waiting for a reply, she skipped back to the canoe, grabbed up
the covered basket, and flew up the path to the cottage; while the old
woman limped after her with astonishing speed, chuckling and wheezing
out a disjointed invitation.  She followed Barbara into the cabin,
shutting the door to keep out the puppy, who whined in an injured voice
upon the stoop.  Then, thinking of the kittens first,--and thereby
showing her deep knowledge of the kittens' mistress,--she set down a
bowl of milk in the middle of the floor; and Barbara, uncovering the
basket, lovingly lifted out three plump, moon-faced little cats, a
yellow-and-white, a black-and-white, and a gray-and-white.  While the
three, with happy tails erect, lapped at the milk, Barbara made haste
to devour thick slices of brown bread and butter, spread to a luscious
depth with moist, sweet-scented maple sugar.  She had no time to talk.
She sat on the edge of the big four-post bed, swinging her slim legs,
and kicking her heels against the dingy, gay patchwork quilt whose
ample folds hung to the floor.  The hidden space under the bed was a
place of piquant mystery to Barbara, containing, as it did, boxes on
boxes of many-coloured rags, out of which, earlier in the season, old
Debby would bring forth precious goose-eggs, duck-eggs, turkey-eggs,
and the specially prized eggs of certain pet and prolific hens,
gathered against the time of setting.  While Barbara broke her fast,
old Debby refrained from questions, having shrewdly grasped the whole
situation.  She knew that Mr. Robert Glenowen, Barbara's uncle, had
lately come north on an errand which nobody seemed to understand, and
had taken a house at Stratford.  Of a nomadic spirit in her younger
days, Debby had moved much here and there throughout her native
Connecticut, and over the bordering counties of New York and
Massachusetts; and she had not only a rough idea of the distance from
Second Westings to Stratford, but a very vivid realisation of the
perils of the journey which Barbara, in her innocence, had so
confidently undertaken.  Till she saw that the appetites of Barbara and
the kittens were nearing satisfaction, she talked with a sort of casual
enthusiasm of her luck with the chickens, the goslings, the young
turkeys, and depicted the prowess of an old speckled hen which had
engaged and defeated a marauding hawk.  Then, when at last Barbara
sprang up, bundled the satiated kittens into the basket, and turned to
her for a fond and final good-bye, the crafty old dame broke into
passionate farewells.  She kissed the child, and even wept over her,
till Barbara's self-centred exaltation was very near collapse.

"_You_ love me, don't you, Debby dear?" she exclaimed, with a
wistfulness in her voice, searching the old woman's face with her
great, eager, strangely alien eyes.  Barbara was one of those who
colour the moods of others by their own, and who are therefore apt to
be at fault in their interpretation of another's motives.  This gave
her, even in childhood, a strangeness, an aloneness of personality,
which she, as well as those who loved her, could seldom break down.  It
was with a kind of heart-break that she now and again, for an instant,
became dimly aware of this alien fibre in her temperament.  It made her
both misunderstanding and misunderstood.

"I can trust you, can't I?" she went on, leaning childishly for a
moment upon the old woman's comfortable breast.

"Trust old Debby, my sweeting!" cried the old dame, in tones which
carried conviction.  "Ye hain't got no lovinger nor faithfuller friend
alive than me.  Don't ye never forgit that, Miss Barby."

For answer Barbara clutched her fiercely around the neck, sobbed and
clung to her for a moment, cried extravagantly, "Yes, you are the best
friend I've got in all the world!" then gathered up her basket of
kittens and fled wildly down the path to the canoe.  Impetuously she
pushed off, the world a golden blur before her eyes; and without once
looking back, she disappeared around the next winding of the stream.
Old Debby stood for some minutes gazing after this meteor-like--and
very Barbara-like--exit.  There was amusement now, unhindered, on her
hard old face, but a kind of fierce devotion withal.  When the stern of
the canoe had vanished behind the leafage, she muttered to herself:
"Well!  Well!  Well! was ever sech a child!  When ye set yer finger
onto her, she ain't there!  I reckon that mincing-mouthed Aunt Kitty's
hed her bad times, too.  But the sooner I git 'round to see Doctor Jim
the better it's goin' to be fer the little wild witch.  Land's sakes
alive!  But 'twon't be 'Debby dear' to me agin fer awhile.  How them
eyes'll blaze!  I'll not go nigh her till she's hed time to git over it
an' to know who's really her friends.  No, Pippin, ye can't come with
me!  Go 'way!"

Turning into the long lean-to of a shed which stretched behind the
cabin, she brought out two stumpy oars.  These under her left arm, her
stalwart stick in her right hand, she limped with massive alertness
down to the waterside, shoved off the punt, climbed into it with a
nicety of balance remarkable in one of her weight, clicked the oars
into the rowlocks, and pulled up-stream toward the lake whence Barbara
had come.



CHAPTER III.

The child who set forth so fearlessly, on so audacious and
ill-regulated a venture, that midsummer morning of the year 1769,--in a
time when audacity on the part of small girls was apt to meet the
discouragement of a peculiarly strenuous discipline,--was an accident
in her period, an irreconcilable alien to her environment.  In her
intense individuality, and in the confident freedom with which she
claimed the right to express that individuality, she belonged to an
earlier or a later day, but not to a New England of the eighteenth
century.  Two years before, at the age of twelve, an age when other
children's personalities were colourless to the eyes of their elders,
she had been projected into the tranquil routine of the little world of
Second Westings.  It was an established, crystallised, unchanging life
there in the back country of Connecticut, where hours, seasons,
actions, habits, revolved in so orderly a fashion as to have worn
themselves grooves out of which they could hardly even look, still less
achieve to deviate.  Into this rigid placidity the dark child came like
a grain of ferment; and presently, no one could tell just how, the mass
began to work.  Barbara was everywhere discussed.  She was rather
unanimously disapproved of.  And, nevertheless, as it were in the teeth
of all probability, she won to herself here and there a friend.

At the time of Barbara's transplanting from the cordial soil of
Maryland to the austere uplands of Connecticut, her father, the
Reverend Winthrop Hopkins Ladd, clergyman of the Established Church,
had been dead over two years, and the child's hurt, as such things
will, had outwardly healed; though the hidden wounds would agonise in
her heart at unexpected times, set vibrating to some poignant touch of
scent or sound or colour.  The child had adored her father with a
tempestuous and jealous devotion, which, however, had not prevented her
waywardness from diversifying his repose with many a wakeful night.
Her mother, who had died when Barbara was scarce out of arms, had been
a bewildering birth from the kiss of North Wales on the warm south of
Spanish passion.  The son of an old Welsh family, adventuring to the
New World to capture himself a fortune, had captured himself also a
wife to beggar envy.  Where or how he got the fortune, no man knew and
few presumed to wonder; but where and how he got the wife was matter of
noonday knowledge.  He saw her at church in New Orleans.  There were
looks that burn and live.  Through that emotional spring Glenowen
sniffed the incense of more masses than he had thought to attend in a
lifetime.  Once there was a stolen word behind a pillar, eyes warily
averted.  Twice notes passed from hand to hand.  Then a girl, the
daughter of one of the haughtiest houses of Colonial Spain, was
audaciously carried off by night from a convent school in the safe
heart of the city.  When next seen of the world, she was Glenowen's
wife, most radiantly and graciously dispensing an accepted hospitality
in Baltimore.

The result that in particular pertains to this history was a small,
flame-like, imperious girl, one Mistress Mercedes Glenowen, who, from
the night of ceremony when she first made her bow to the governor and
joyously turned her disastrous eyes upon the society of Baltimore, for
the space of some three years dispersed vain heartache throughout the
colony.  Into the remotest plantations went the name of her and the
fame of her--and too often, also, the sickness of a hopeless desire of
her.  There were duels, too, discreetly laid to other cause; and old
friendships changed to hate; and wild oaths made perjury.  But the
heart of Mistress Mercedes went free.  A quiet young clergyman, a
kinsman to the governor, came to Baltimore from Boston, on his way to a
country parish on the Pawtuxet, to which he had just been appointed.
Dining at Government House, he met Mistress Mercedes, but his eyes,
being at that moment immersed in dreams, looked not upon but through
and beyond her.  Mercedes could not rest an instant until those
far-wandering, Northern eyes were ensnared, imprisoned, and denied a
range beyond the boundaries of her heart.  But the capture was not a
quick one, and in the interest of it she had the accident to become
herself entangled, to such a degree that she had no longer any use for
freedom.  And so it came about, to the wrathful amaze of her retinue,
but the unspeakable content of the Reverend Winthrop Ladd, that the
dark rose of Maryland was on a sudden removed from Baltimore to bloom
on a churchly plantation by the pale waters of the Pawtuxet.

Mr. Ladd, though a dreamer so far as consisted with outdoor life and
sanity of brain and muscle, was a strong man, one of those who have the
force to rule when they must, and the gentleness to yield when they
may.  In the passionate completeness of her love, Mercedes sloughed the
caprices that would have pained and puzzled him, forgot the very echoes
of the acclamations of her court, and lived in the sanctuary of her
husband's devotion.  For nearly three years the strangely assorted
lovers dwelt in their dream, while the world passed by them like a
pageant viewed through a glory of coloured glass.  Then a sudden
sickness tore them apart; and when the dazed man came slowly back to
the realisation that he had been left to live, all his love, with all
the illusion of it, centred itself fixedly upon the little one,
Barbara, whom Mercedes had left to him.

As Barbara grew more and more like her mother, her ascendency over her
father grew more and more complete.  Tenderly but firmly he ruled his
parish and his plantation.  But he gradually forgot to rule Barbara.
Too nearly did she represent to him all that he had lost in his
worshipped Mercedes; and he could not bring himself to see anything but
freshness of character and vigour of personality in the child's very
faults.  Hence he evolved, to suit her particular case, a theory very
much out of harmony with his time, to the effect that a child--or
rather, perhaps, such a child as this of Mercedes--should not be
governed or disciplined, but guided merely, and fostered in the finding
of her own untrammelled individuality.  This plan worked, for the time,
to Barbara's unqualified approval, but she was destined to pay for it,
in later years, a heavy price in tears, and misunderstandings, and
repentance.  With the growth of her intense and confident personality
there grew no balancing strength of self-control.  Unacquainted with
discipline, she was without the safeguard of self-discipline.  Before
she was eight years old she held sway over every one on the plantation
but herself,--and her rule, though pretty and bewitching, was not
invariably gentle.  As for her father, though ostensively her comrade
and mentor, he was by this time in reality her slave.  He rode with
her; he read with her; he taught her,--but such studies only as
ensnared her wayward inclination, and with such regularity only as fell
in with her variable mood.  The hour for a lesson on the spinet would
go by unheeded, if Barbara chanced to be interested in the more
absorbing occupation of climbing a tree; and the time for reciting
Latin syntax was lightly forgotten if berries were a-ripening in the
pasture.  Under such auspices, however, Barbara did assuredly grow
straight-limbed and active, slight and small indeed, by heritage from
her mother, but strong and of marvellous endurance, with the clear
blood red under her dark skin, her great gray-green eyes luminous with
health.  Her father devoted to her every hour of the day that he could
spare from the claims of his parish.  In a sunny and sandy cove near
the house he taught her to swim.  Rowing and canoeing on the Pawtuxet
were mysteries of outdoor craft into which he initiated her as soon as
her little hands could pull an oar or swing a paddle.  A certain strain
of wildness in her temperament attuned her to a peculiar sympathy with
the canoe, and won her a swift mastery of its furtive spirit.  In the
woods, and in the seclusion of remote creeks and backwaters, her
waywardness would vanish till she became silent and elusive as the wild
things whose confidence she was for ever striving to gain.  Her
advances being suspiciously repelled by the squirrels, the 'coons, and
the chipmunks, her passion was fain to expend itself upon the domestic
animals of the plantation.  The horses, cattle, dogs, and cats, all
loved her, and she understood them as she never understood the nearest
and best-beloved of her own kind.  With the animals her patience was
untiring, her gentleness unfailing, while her thoughtless selfishness
melted into a devotion for which no sacrifice seemed too great.

The negroes of the plantation, who seemed to Barbara akin to the
animals, came next to these in her regard, and indeed were treated with
an indulgence which made them almost literally lay their black necks in
the dust for her little feet to step on.  But with people of her own
class she was apt to be hasty and ungracious.  _Their_ feelings were of
small account in her eyes--certainly not to be weighed for a moment
against those of a colt or a kitten.  There was one sweet-eyed and
lumbering half-grown puppy which Barbara's father--not for an instant,
indeed, believing anything of the sort--used to declare was more
precious to her than himself.  But her old black "Mammy" 'Lize used to
vow there was more truth than he guessed in "Marse Ladd's foolin'."

However, when a fever snatched the gentle priest away from the scene of
his love and kindly ministrations, the child's true self emerged
through its crust of whim and extravagance.  Stricken beyond a child's
usual capacity to feel or realise such a blow, she was herself seized
with a serious illness, after which she fell into a dejection which
lasted for the better part of a year.  In her desolation she turned to
her animals rather than to her human companions, and found the more of
healing in their wordless sympathy.

At last, youth and health asserted themselves, and once more Barbara
rode, paddled, swam, tyrannised, and ran wild over the plantation,
while relatives from Maine to Maryland wrangled over her future.

There was one young uncle, her mother's only brother, whom Barbara
decided to adopt as her sole guardian.  But other guardians came to
another decision.  Uncle Bob Glenowen was an uncle after Barbara's own
heart, but a little more disciplined and reasonable than herself.  The
two would have got on delightfully together--together careering over
the country on high-mettled horses, together swimming and canoeing at
the most irregular hours, together lauding and loving their four-foot
kindred and laughing to scorn the general stupidity of mankind.  But
Uncle Glenowen had little of gold or gear, and his local habitation was
mutable.  He loved Barbara too well not to recognise that she should
grow up under the guidance of steadier hands than his.  It was finally
settled--Barbara's fiery indignation being quite disregarded--that she
should go to her father's younger sister, Mistress Mehitable Ladd, in
Second Westings.

Mistress Ladd was a self-possessed, fair-faced, aristocratic little
lady, with large blue eyes and a very firm, small mouth.  She was
conscientious to a point that was wont to bring her kindness, at times,
into painful conflict with her sense of duty.  The Puritan fibre ran in
unimpaired vitality through the texture of her being, with the result
that whenever her heart was so rash as to join issue with her
conscience, then prompt and disastrous overthrow was the least her
heart could expect for such presumption.  In the matter of Barbara's
future, however, Distress Mehitable felt that duty and inclination ran
together.  She had loved her brother Winthrop with unselfish and
admiring devotion, and had grieved in secret for years over his
defection from the austere fold of the Congregationalists to what she
regarded as the perilously carnal form and ceremony of the Church of
England.  Her hampered spirit, her uncompleted womanhood, yearned
toward Barbara, and she shuddered at the idea of Winthrop's child
growing up untaught, unmothered, uncontrolled.  She made up her mind
that Barbara should come to Second Westings, become a daughter to her,
and be reared in the purity of unsullied Congregationalism.  With a
sigh of concordant relief it was recognised by the other relatives that
Mehitable was right.  They washed their hands of the child, and forgot
her, and were thankful--all but Uncle Bob.  And so Barbara went to
Second Westings.



CHAPTER IV.

Little enough, indeed, would Second Westings ever have seen of the
heartsore and rebellious child, but for this Uncle Bob.  Searching his
own spirit, he understood hers; and maintaining a discreet silence as
to the chief points of his discovery, he set himself the duty of
accompanying Barbara on the long, complicated journey to Connecticut.
Not content with delivering his charge into the hands of Mistress
Mehitable,--whom he liked despite her uneasy half-disapproval of
himself,--he stayed long summer weeks at Second Westings, thus bridging
over for Barbara the terrible chasm between the old life and the new,
and by his tactful conciliation on every side making the new life look
a little less hatefully alien to her.  He took her riding all over the
township; he took her canoeing on the lake, and down the outlet to its
junction with the river; and so not only won her a freedom of movement
hitherto unheard-of among the maidens of Second Westings, but also
showed her that the solace of wild woods and sweet waters was to be
found no less in Connecticut than in her longed-for Maryland.
Moreover, Uncle Bob had "a presence."  Second Westings scrutinised him
severely, all ready to condemn the stranger folk to whom Winthrop Ladd
had turned in his marrying.  But Second Westings felt constrained to
acknowledge at once that Winthrop Ladd had married within his class.
To high and low alike--and the line between high and low was sharply
drawn at Second Westings--it was obvious that the sister of Mr. Robert
Glenowen must have been gently born.  Those who would not let
themselves be warmed by Uncle Bob's bright heartsomeness were unable to
withhold acknowledgment of his good breeding.  Mistress Mehitable,
though antagonised by vague gossip as to his "wildness," nevertheless
recognised with serious relief that no common blood had been suffered
to obscure the clear blue stream whose purity the Ladds held precious.
"Light, I fear--if not, in other surroundings, ungodly; but beyond all
cavil a gentleman!" pronounced the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer, flicking
snuff from his sleeve with white, scholarly fingers.  He was not so
innocent as to attach too much importance to Uncle Bob's devout
attitude through those interminable services which made a weekly
nightmare of the Connecticut Sabbath; but he had found a reserved
satisfaction in the young man's company over a seemly glass and a pipe
of bright Virginia.  He had a feeling that the visitor's charm was more
or less subversive of discipline, and that it would be, on the whole,
for the spiritual welfare of Second Westings if the visit should be
brief; but meanwhile he took what he could of Uncle Bob's society.
Class against creed, and a fair field, and it's long odds on class.

But in the minds of Doctor John and Doctor Jim Pigeon--physicians,
brothers, comrades, fierce professional rivals, justices of the peace,
and divinely self-appointed guardians of the sanctity of caste for all
the neighbourhood--there were no misgivings.  Their instincts accepted
Bob Glenowen at first glance.  Their great, rugged faces and mighty
shoulders towering over him,--and Uncle Bob himself was nowise scant of
stature,--they looked at him and then into each other's eyes; and
agreed, as they did on most subjects outside the theory and practice of
medicine.

"You are right welcome to Second Westings, Mr. Glenowen!" exclaimed
Doctor Jim, in a big, impetuous voice, grasping his hand heartily.

"And we trust that you may be slow to leave us, Mr. Glenowen!" added
Doctor John, in a voice which any competent jury, blindfolded, would
have pronounced identical.

Recognising the true fibre and the fineness of these two big, gentle
autocrats, Uncle Bob made a special point of commending Barbara to
their hearts--in which commending he so well sped, and indeed was so
well seconded by Barbara herself, who loved them from the moment when
her eyes first fell upon them, that they presently constituted
themselves special guardians to the little maid, and indulgent
mitigators of Mistress Mehitable's conscience.  The manner in which
they fulfilled the sometimes conflicting duties of these offices will
appear pretty persistently in the sequel.

It was to Uncle Bob, also, that Barbara owed the somewhat disreputable
friendship of old Debby.  The very first day that he and Barbara went
canoeing on the lake, they explored the outlet, discovered old Debby's
cabin, paid an uninvited call, and captivated the old dame's crusty
heart.  Glenowen knew human nature.  He had the knack of going straight
to the quintessential core of it, and pinning his faith to that in
spite of all unpromising externals.  He decided at once that Debby
would be a good diversion for Barbara after he was gone; and when,
later in the day, he learned that the old woman was universally but
vaguely reprobated by the prim folk of Second Westings, he was more
than ever assured that she would be a comfort to Barbara through many a
dark hour of strangerhood and virtuous misunderstanding.

But Uncle Bob's visit had to end.  He went away with misgivings,
leaving Barbara to pit her careless candour, her thoughtless
self-absorption, her scorn of all opinions that differed from her own,
her caprices, her passionate enthusiasms, her fierce intolerance of
criticism or control, against the granitic conventions of an old New
England village.  The half guilty, half amused support of Doctor John
and Doctor Jim gave importance to her revolt, and so lightened the rod
of Aunt Kitty's discipline as to save Barbara from the more ignominious
of the penalties which her impetuous wilfulness would otherwise have
incurred.  The complete, though forbidden, sympathy of old Debby,
affording the one safe outlet to her tumultuous resentments and
passionate despairs, saved the child from brain-sickness; and once,
indeed, on a particularly black day of humiliation, from suicide.
Barbara had shaken the very foundations of law, order, and religion, by
riding at a wild gallop, one Sunday afternoon, down the wide main
street of Second Westings just as the good folk were coming out of
meeting.  Her rebellious waves of dark hair streamed out behind her
little head.  Her white teeth flashed wickedly between her parted
scarlet lips, her big eyes flamed with the intoxication of liberty and
protest--to these good folk it seemed an unholy light.  Barbara ought
to have been at meeting, but had been left at home, reluctantly, by
Aunt Hitty, because she had seemed too sick to get out of bed.  In very
truth she had been sick beyond all feigning.  Then one of those violent
reactions of recovery which sometimes cause the nervous temperament to
be miserably misunderstood had seized her at an inauspicious moment.
As the tide of young vitality surged back to brain and vein and nerve,
she had felt that she must let herself loose in wild action, or die.
All unrealising the enormity of the offence, she had flung down her mad
defiance to the sanctified and iron-bound repose of the New England
Sabbath.

Such a sacrilege could not be overlooked or condoned.  The congregation
was appalled.  Long upper lips were drawn down ominously, as austere
eyes followed the vision of the fleeing child on the great black horse.
Could it be that she was possessed of a devil?  Pitying eyes were
turned upon Aunt Hitty; and triumphant eyes of gratified grudge,
moreover, for Aunt Hitty was proud, and had virtuous ill-wishers in the
village.  But Mistress Mehitable Ladd was equal to the occasion.  With
a level stare of her blue eyes, a cold tranquillity upon her small,
fine mouth, she froze comment and forestalled suggestion.  The feeling
went abroad, in a subtle way, that the case would be dealt with and the
piety of Second Westings vindicated in the eyes of Heaven.  Doctor John
and Doctor Jim looked grave, and said not a word.  This was a time when
Mistress Mehitable, they well knew, would brook no interference.

Of course there could be no question of such correction as would have
fallen to the lot of any ordinary offender.  There could be no such
thing as putting a _Ladd_ in the stocks.  The regular machinery of
village law rested quiescent.  Equally of course, Mistress Mehitable
would do nothing in anger.  She was humiliated before the whole
village, in a manner that could never be forgotten or wiped out.  But
her first feeling and her last feeling were alike of sorrow only.  She
would do her duty because Winthrop's child must be saved.  But she had
no proud consciousness of virtue in doing it.  First, she attempted to
explain to Barbara the depth, quality, and significance of her sin, its
possible influence upon the ethics of Second Westings if allowed to go
unpunished, the special variety of inherited evil which it revealed in
her nature, and her stupendous need of having this evil eradicated by
devotedly merciless correction.  After the first few words of this
exhortation, Barbara heard no more.  She was at all times fiercely
impatient of criticism, and now, being determined not to fly into a
fury and further complicate her predicament, she shut her eyes,
inwardly closed her ears, and concentrated her imagination on memories
of the longed-for plantation by the Pawtuxet.  This concentration gave
her vivid little face an air of quietude, subjection, and voiceless
sorrow, which Aunt Hitty was glad to construe as repentance.  But it
earned no mitigation of punishment.  For one whole week Barbara was a
prisoner in her room, eating her heart out in hatred of the stupidity
and injustice of life.  Then came around, at last, another Sabbath.
Barbara was taken to church.  There her proud soul was affronted by a
public rebuke from the pastor, who exhorted her from the pulpit,
contented the congregation by a rehearsal of her punishment, and held
her up as an example to the other children of the village.  Barbara
listened with shut eyes and white lips, her heart bursting with rage.
She ached to kill him, to kill her aunt, to annihilate Second
Westings--saving only the animals, old Debby, Mercy Chapman, Doctor
John and Doctor Jim.  But when the good divine went on to say that her
discipline would be concluded with a wholesome chastisement on the
morrow, in the privacy of the house to which her sinful conduct had
brought grief,--then, indeed, her heart stood still.  She felt a great
calmness come over her.  She made up her mind to escape by her window
that very evening and drown herself in the lake.  If life contained
such horrors she would have done with it.

She did not go that night, however, because she feared the dark.  It
was gray dawn when she climbed from her window.  Blind, resolved,
swift-footed, she fled through the woods.  Old Debby, resting in her
punt by the lake's edge, not far from the Ladd landing-place, was
pulling some sweet-rooted water-plants of a virtue known only to
herself, when she was startled by a heavy splash and a little gasping
cry which came from the other side of a steep point some four or five
rods distant.  Her vigorous old arms drove the punt through the water
in mad haste--for there was something in the cry that wrenched at her
heart.  Rounding the point, she stood close in to the foot of a rock
which jutted out into five or six feet of water.  Peering down over the
side of the punt, she saw lying on the bottom a slim, small body.  A
groan burst from her lips, for Barbara's face was half visible; and the
old woman understood at once.  She had heard the village gossip, and
she had feared a tragedy.  She knew that Barbara could swim,--but there
was her long scarf of red silk twisted about the little arms lest
resolution should falter in the face of the last great demand.

For a second old Debby was at fault.  She could not swim.  Then her
brain worked.  Reaching down with one of the oars, she twisted the
blade tightly into the skirt of the child's gown, pulled her up, and
snatched her into the boat.  Experienced and ready in emergency, the
old woman thrust ashore, laid the moveless little figure down upon a
mossy hillock, and in a very few minutes succeeded in bringing it back
to conscious life.  She asked no questions, while Barbara clung to her,
sobbing spasmodically at long intervals.  She murmured pet names to
her, caressed and soothed her, told her she was safe and no one should
abuse her, and finally, lifting her into the punt and laying her gently
on an armful of sweet bracken in the stern, rowed over the lake to her
cabin.  Throughout the journey Barbara lay with closed eyes, while the
young life, slowly but obstinately reasserting itself, brought back the
colour to cheeks and lips.  Only once did she speak.  Lifting her lids,
she gazed fixedly at the hard-lined old face that bent over the swaying
oars.

"Oh, why did you do it, Debby dear?" she asked, weakly.  "If you knew
how I hate to live!"

"Tut! tut! honey!" answered the old woman, with a cheerful positiveness
that made her despair suddenly seem to Barbara unreasonable and unreal.
"Ye don't want to die yet awhile.  An' whatever ye want, ye cain't die
yet awhile, fer I've seen it in yer blessed little hands that ye've got
a long life afore ye.  Moresoever, I read it that life's got a heap of
happiness in store fer ye.  So you be brave, Miss Barby, an' think how
Uncle Bob would 'a' broke his poor heart if ye'd got yer own way an'
drownded yerself."

"Yes," murmured Barbara, drowsily, sinking away into peace after her
long pain, "Uncle Bob would have been sorry!"  Then, after a pause, she
added softly under her breath: "I'll run away and go to Uncle Bob some
day!"

Old Debby heard the words, but made no comment.  She stored them in her
memory, and afterward kept crafty watch whenever she saw, by Barbara's
mood, that a crisis was on at Aunt Kitty's.  For the time, however, she
felt no great anxiety, it being very plain to her that this present
crisis was past, and that Barbara was no longer strung up to the pitch
of violent action or any course that would require initiative.  Nerve
and will alike relaxed, the child was submissive through exhaustion.
At the cabin Debby first made her eat some breakfast, and then got her
interested in a brood of chickens just one day out of the shell.  The
mother hen ruffled her feathers, scolded in shrill protest, and pecked
angrily, but Barbara reached under the brooding wings and drew out a
bead-eyed, golden-yellow, downy ball.  Her face lightened tenderly as
she felt the tiny bill and fragile baby claws snuggling against her
enclosing palms.

"She's all right now!" said old Debby to herself, nodding her head in
satisfaction.  Aloud she said,--as she got a clean white sunbonnet out
of the chest, adjusted it on her sparse locks, and tied its strings
beneath her grim chin,--"I'm goin' to leave ye a bit, honey, to mind
the chickens fer me an' look after the place while I go in to Second
Westings to hev a bit o' talk with Doctor Jim.  Promise me not to quit
the place while I'm gone?"

"I'll take good care of everything till you get back, Debby," answered
Barbara, abstractedly, without turning her head.  She had relinquished
the downy chicken, and was busy conciliating the ruffled hen with
crumbs.



CHAPTER V.

It was without misgiving that old Debby left the child to the healing
of the solitude and the sun, the little wholesome responsibility, the
unexacting companionship of the cat and the fowls.  (This was before
the day of the yellow pup, which did not come upon the scene until the
following summer.)  She had already learned that Barbara's promise was
a thing to depend upon; and she felt that Barbara's heart would now be
medicined more sweetly by silence than by words.

The problem to whose solution the dauntless old woman had set herself
was that of getting Barbara back to her aunt's house on terms that
should ward off any further discipline.  With this end in view she
turned, as a matter of course, to Doctor Jim Pigeon.  Debby's position
in Second Westings was theoretically that of an outlaw.  She had a
mysterious past.  She was obstinately refractory about going to
meeting.  Without actually defying the authorities, she would quietly
and unobtrusively go her own way in regard to many matters which Second
Westings accounted momentous.  Moreover, she was lamentably lacking in
that subservience to her betters which the aristocracy of Second
Westings held becoming.  And she had knowledge that savoured of
witchcraft.  She would certainly have felt the heavy hand of correction
more than once, and probably have been driven to seek a more humane
environment, but for the staunch befriending of Doctor Jim.  Something
in the old woman's fearless independence appealed to both the big,
loud-voiced, soft-hearted brothers--but to Doctor Jim in particular.
He in particular came to perceive her clear common sense, to appreciate
the loyal and humane heart that lurked within her acrid personality.
He openly showed his favour, and stood between her and persecution,
till Second Westings taught itself to regard her offences as
privileged.  So, though an outlaw, she became a useful and tolerated
one.  She served surpassingly to point a moral in family admonitions.
She was much in favour as a bogy to frighten crying children into
silence.  And furthermore, when deadly sickness chanced to fall upon a
household, and skilled help was lacking, and self-righteous prejudice
melted away in the crucible of anguish, then old Debby was wont to
appear unsummoned and work marvels by the magic of her nursing.  Doctor
Jim had been known to declare defiantly that Debby Blue's nursing had
saved patients whom all his medicines could not cure,--whereto Doctor
John had retorted, with brotherly sarcasm, "In spite of your medicines,
Jim--in spite of them!  Debby is the shield and buckler of your medical
reputation."

So it was of course that the old woman turned to Doctor Jim in her
difficulty.  She knew that both brothers loved Barbara, and that both,
individually and collectively, had more influence with Mistress
Mehitable Ladd than any other living mortal could boast.  She would
talk to Doctor Jim.  Doctor Jim would talk to Doctor John.  Doctor John
and Doctor Jim would together talk to Mistress Mehitable.  And Barbara
would be taken back without penalty of further exhortation or
discipline.  If not--well, old Debby's mind was made up as to what she
would do in such a distressing contingency.  She would herself run away
with Barbara that same night, in cunning disguise and by devious ways,
and travel to find Uncle Bob.

But there was to be no need of such audacious adventuring.  When Doctor
Jim heard what Barbara had done, he was sorely wrought up.  He glared
fiercely and wonderingly; his shaggy eyebrows knitted and knotted as he
listened; he dashed his hands through his hair till the well dressed
locks were sadly disarranged.  When Debby ceased speaking he sprang up
with an inarticulate roar, knocking over two chairs and one of the
andirons.

"They have gone too far with the child," he cried out at last,
mastering his ebullient emotions.  "She is too high-strung for our rude
handling.  I swear she shall not be persecuted any longer--not if I
have to take her away myself.  No--not a word, not a word, Debby!  Not
another word!  I'll just step across the yard and speak to Doctor John.
Be good enough to wait here till I return."

Without hat or stick he ramped tempestuously across to his brother's
office, in the opposite wing of the big, white-porticoed, red-doored
house which they occupied together.  He left old Debby well content
with the first step in her undertaking.  She had but a little to wait
ere he returned, noisy, hurried, and decisive.

"Now, my good Debby," he shouted, "I'm ready to accompany you.  I will
fetch Barbara myself.  Doctor John is going over to lay our views
before Mistress Ladd, and I'll warrant that wise and gentle lady will
see the matter clearly, just as we do.  Yes, yes, my good Debby, we
have all been forgetting that the little wild rose of Maryland cannot
be at once inured to the rigours of our New England air.  Eh, what?"

When Doctor Jim and the old woman reached the cabin they found Barbara
sound asleep, curled up in the sun beside the stoop, one arm around the
gray-and-white cat, which lay, fast asleep also, against her breast.
There was a darkness about her eyes, a hurt droop at the corners of her
full red mouth, but the colour came wholesomely under the transparent
tan of her cheeks.  The picture stirred a great ache in Doctor Jim's
childless heart, and with a tender growl he strode forward to snatch
her up from her hard couch.

"S't!  Don't ye frighten the poor baby!" said old Debby.  Whereupon
Doctor Jim went softly, mincing his big steps, and knelt down, and
gathered the little figure in his arms.  Waking slowly, Barbara slipped
her arms around his neck, thrust her face under his chin, drew a long
sigh of satisfaction; and so, the revolt and cruel indignation for the
time all quenched in her wild spirit, she was carried down to the punt.
Everything seemed settled without explanation or argument or promise.
The trouble was all shifted to Doctor Jim's broad shoulders.

"Good-bye, Debby dear!" she murmured to the old woman, reaching down a
caressing hand; "I'll come to see you in a few days, as soon as Aunt
Hitty will let me!"

During the journey homeward Barbara threw off her languor, and became
animated as the punt surged ahead under Doctor Jim's huge strokes.  The
conversation grew brisk, touching briefly such diverse topics as the
new bay mare which the doctor had just purchased from Squire Hopgood of
Westings Centre, and the latest point of exasperation between the
merchants of Boston and the officers of the king's customs at that
unruly port.  This latter subject was one on which Doctor Jim and
Barbara had already learned to disagree with a kind of affectionate
ferocity.  The child was a rebel in every fibre, while Doctor Jim had a
vigorous Tory prejudice which kept his power of polemic well occupied
in Second Westings.  The two were presently so absorbed in controversy
that the rocky point of the morning's attempted tragedy was passed
without the tribute of a shudder or even a recognition.  At last, with
a mighty, half wrathful surge upon the oars, Doctor Jim beached the
punt at the landing-place.  As the distracted wave of his violence
seethed hissing up the gravel and set the neighbour sedges a-swinging,
he leaned forward and fixed the eager girl with a glare from under the
penthouse of his eyebrows.  Open-mouthed and intent, Barbara waited for
his pronouncement.

"Child!" said he, waving a large, but white and fine forefinger for
emphasis, "Don't you let that amiable and disreputable old vagabond,
Debby Blue, or that pestilent rebel, Doctor John Pigeon, stuff your
little head with notions.  It's _your_ place to stand by the _Crown_,
right or wrong.  Remember your blood.  You know right well which side
your father would have stood upon!  Eh, what?"

The disputatious confidence died out of Barbara's face.  For a moment
her head drooped, for she knew in her heart how thoroughly that
worshipped father would have identified himself with the king's party
as soon as occasion arose.  Then she looked up, and a mocking light
danced in her gray eyes, while her mouth drew itself into lines of
solemnity.

"I promise," she exclaimed, leaning forward and laying a thin little
gipsy hand on Doctor Jim's knee, as if registering a vow, "that I won't
harm your dear King George!"

"Baggage!" shouted Doctor Jim, snatching her from her seat and stalking
up the beach with her.

Arriving at the Ladd place from the rear, by way of the pasture and the
barnyard, they found Doctor John awaiting them.  He was leaning over
the little wicket gate at the back of the garden, eating a handful of
plump gooseberries.  With affected sternness he eyed their approach,
not uttering a word till Barbara violently pushed the gate open and
rushed at him.  Then, straightening himself to his full height,--he had
a half-head to the good of even the towering Doctor Jim,--he extended
his hand to her, and said, civilly:

"Do have a gooseberry!"

At this Barbara shrieked with laughter.  Doctor John always seemed to
her the very funniest thing in the world, and his humour, in season and
out of season, quite irresistible.  At the same time she pounded him
impatiently with her fists, and tried to pull him down to her.

"I don't want a gooseberry," she cried.  "I want you to kiss me.  I
haven't seen you for more than a week, and you go and act just as if I
had seen you every day!"

Doctor John stooped, but held her at arm's length, and gazed at her
with preternatural gravity.

"Tell me one thing," he said.

"What?" whispered Barbara, impressed.

"Have you been taking any of Jim Pigeon's physic since I saw you?"

"No!" shrieked Barbara, with another wild peal of laughter.  "Doctor
Jim's a Tory.  He might poison me!"

"Then you shall have one kiss--no, two!" said Doctor John, picking her
up.

"Ten--twenty--a hundred!" insisted the child, hugging him violently.

"There! there!  Enough is as good as a feast!" interrupted Doctor John,
presently, untwining her arms and setting her down.  Then, Doctor Jim
holding one of her hands and Doctor John the other, she skipped gaily
up the path toward the house, like a wisp of light dancing between
their giant bulks.

At this moment the figure of Mistress Mehitable appeared on the porch;
and Barbara felt suddenly abashed.  A realisation of all that had
occurred, all she had done, all she had suffered, rushed over her.  Her
little fingers shut like steel upon the great, comforting hands that
held them, and the colour for a moment faded out of her cheeks.  Doctor
John and Doctor Jim both felt the pang of emotion that darted through
her.  She felt, rather than saw, that their big faces leaned above her
tenderly.  But she did not want them to speak.  She was afraid they
might not say the right thing.  She felt that _she_ must say something
at once, to divert their attention from her plight.  She looked around
desperately and caught sight, in the barnyard behind her, of the hired
man milking the vicious red 'mooley' cow that would not let Abby milk
her.

"Why!" she exclaimed, with a vast show of interest and surprise,
"there's Amos milking Mooley!"

On the instant she recognised the bald irrelevancy of the remark, and
wished she had not spoken.  But Doctor John turned his head, eyed Amos
with critical consideration, and said:

"Goodness gracious! why, so it is!  Now, do you know, _I_ should have
expected to see the parson, or Squire Gillig, milking Mooley.  Dear me,
dear me!"

At this, though the deeper half of her heart was sick with apprehensive
emotion, the other half was irresistibly titillated, and she laughed
hysterically; while Doctor Jim emitted a vast, appreciative guffaw.
Before anything more could be said, the voice of Mistress Mehitable
came from the porch, kindly sweet, familiar, and cadenced as if no
cataclysms whatever had lately shaken the world.

"Supper is waiting," she said, and smiled upon them gently as they
approached.

"We come, fair mistress!" responded Doctor Jim, modulating his voice to
a deferential softness.

"We come--and here we are," broke out Doctor John, snatching up
Barbara, dashing forward, and thrusting her into her aunt's not
unwilling arms.

It was a wise device to surmount the difficulty of the meeting.

"I am truly most glad to see you, my dear child," said Mistress
Mehitable, earnestly, pressing Barbara to her heart and kissing her on
the forehead.  Barbara looked up, searched her aunt's face piercingly
for a second, saw that the gentle blue eyes were something red and
swollen with weeping, and impulsively lifted her lips to be kissed.

"I am sorry I grieved you, Aunt Hitty," she whispered, "I'll try hard
not to."

Mistress Mehitable kissed her again, almost impetuously, gave her a
squeeze of understanding, and with her arm over the child's shoulder
led the way in to supper.



CHAPTER VI.

After this upheaval there was better understanding for a time between
Barbara and Mistress Mehitable.  The lady made an honest effort to
allow for some of the differences in the point of view of a child
brought up on a Maryland plantation, under another creed, and spoiled
from the cradle.  She tried, also, to allow for the volcanic and alien
strain which mingled in Barbara's veins with the well-ordered blood of
the Ladds.  But this alien strain was something she instinctively
resented and instinctively longed to subdue.  Moreover, she lacked
imagination; and therefore, with the most sincere good purpose on both
sides, the peace between herself and Barbara was but superficial,
demanding the price of ceaseless vigilance.  Barbara, on her part,
strove to be more diligent with her tasks, and greatly conciliated
Mistress Mehitable by her swift progress in plain sewing, penmanship,
and playing on the harpsichord; and she quickly learned to read aloud
with a charm and a justness of emphasis which her aunt never wearied of
commending.  But with the elaborate Dresden embroidery and intricate
lace-making, and the flummery art of "papyrotamia"--a cutting of paper
flowers--which then occupied the leisure of young maids of gentle
breeding, Barbara had no patience at all.  She scorned and hated
them--and she purchased her release from them by electing rather the
rigid and exacting pursuit of Latin grammar, which only masculine
intellects were considered competent to acquire.  In this she had had
some grounding from her father; and now, under the sympathetic tuition
of Doctor John, she found its strenuous intricacies a satisfaction to
her restless brain, and made such progress as to compel the reluctant
commendation of the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer himself.

Meanwhile, seeing the restraint under which the child was holding
herself, Mistress Mehitable tried to moderate to some degree her
disapproval of Barbara's vagaries and impetuosities, so that sometimes
her wild rides, her canoeings at unseemly hours, her consortings with
old Debby, her incorrigible absences from the noonday board, were
suffered to go almost unrebuked.  But it was a perennial vexation to
Mistress Mehitable to observe Barbara's haughty indifference to the
other young girls of her own class in the township, who were her
fitting associates and might have redeemed her from her wildness;
while, on the other hand, she insisted on making an intimate of Mercy
Chapman, the daughter of Doctor John's hired man.  Barbara found all
the girls whom her aunt approved hopelessly uninteresting--prim,
docile, pious, uninformed, addicted to tatting, excited over
feather-work.  But Mercy Chapman was fearless, adventurous within her
limits, protectingly acquainted with all the birds' nests in the
neighbourhood, and passionately fond of animals, especially horses and
cats.  Mercy Chapman, therefore, was admitted very cordially to certain
outer chambers of Barbara's heart; while the daughters of Squire
Grannis and Lawyer Perley were treated to a blank indifference which
amounted to incivility, and excited the excoriating comment of their
mammas.

Another severe trial to Mistress Mehitable's patience was Barbara's
unhousewifely aversion to the kitchen.  She vowed she could not abide
the smell of cooking in her hair, averring that all cooks carried the
savour of the frying-pan.  When her aunt pointed out how humiliated she
would be when she came to have a house of her own, she declared there
would be time enough to learn when that day threatened; and she stoutly
asseverated, moreover, that she could cook without learning.  Upon this
rash claim Mistress Mehitable pinned her to a test, being minded to
abase her for her soul's good; but she emerged from the trial with vast
accession of prestige, doing up sundry tasty desserts with a readiness
born of past interest in the arcana of her father's kitchen by the
Pawtuxet.  But for all her aunt's exhortations she would explore no
further in the domain of bake-pan and skillet.  There was antagonism,
moreover, between Barbara and Abby, to the point that if Mistress
Mehitable had prevailed with her niece in this matter, she would have
found herself obliged to change her cook.

There was one department of the household economy, however, in which
Barbara was ever ready to meet her aunt half-way.  It furnished a
common ground, whereon many a threatened rupture was averted, or at
least postponed.  This was the still-room.

Barbara adored cleanliness and sweet smells.  The clean, fragrant
place, wherein bundles of herbs whose odours spoke to her of the South,
and of strange lands, and of longed-for, half-forgotten dreams, and of
desires which she could not understand, was to her a temple of
enchanting mysteries.

Now Mistress Mehitable was a cunning distiller of the waters of
bergamot, rosemary, mint, thyme, and egrimony; but Barbara developed a
subtlety in the combining of herbs and simples which resulted in
perfumes hitherto unknown.  One essence, indeed, which she compounded,
proved so penetrating, lasting, and exquisite, that her aunt, in a
burst of staid enthusiasm, suggested that she should name it and write
down the formula for security.  This was done, to Barbara's great
pride; and thereafter the "Water of Maryland Memories" became the
proper thing to use in Second Westings.  Nothing, perhaps, did more to
make Barbara a personage in the township than this highly approved
"Water of Maryland Memories."

In this way the days passed, so that at times Mistress Mehitable had
hopes that the child was going to assimilate herself, and cease to pine
for her plantation in the South.  In reality, the rebellion in
Barbara's soul but grew the stronger as her nature deepened and
matured.  Throughout her second spring at Second Westings,--when the
mounting sap set her veins athrill in unison, and she saw the violets
come back to the greening meadows, the quaker-ladies and the
windflowers to the little glades of the wood; and the wild ducks
returned from the south to nest by the lake, and the blackbirds chirred
again in the swaying tops of the pine-trees,--her spirit chafed more
fiercely at every bar.  The maddest rides over upland field and pasture
lot at dawn, the fiercest paddlings up and down the lake when the wind
was driving and the chop sea tried her skill, were insufficient vent to
her restlessness.  Her thoughts kept reverting, in spite of herself, to
the idea of seeking her uncle.  Misunderstandings with Mistress
Mehitable grew more frequent and more perilous.  But just as she was
beginning to feel that something desperate must happen at once, there
came to her a responsibility which for a time diverted her thoughts.

The kitchen cat presented the household with four kittens.  Having a
well-grounded suspicion that kittens were a superfluity in Second
Westings, the mother hid her furry miracles in the recesses of a loft
in the barn.  Not until their eyes were well open were they discovered;
and it was Barbara who discovered them.  With joyous indiscretion, all
undreaming of the consequences, she proclaimed her discovery in the
house.  Then the customary stern decree went forth--but in this case
tempered with fractional mercy, seeing that Mistress Mehitable was a
just woman.  One was spared to console the mother, and three were
doomed to death.

Barbara, all undreaming of the decree, chanced to come upon Amos in the
cow-shed, standing over a tub of water.  She saw him drop a kitten into
the tub, and pick up the next.  She heard the faint mewing of the
victims.  For one instant her heart stood still with pain and fury.
Then, speechless, but with face and eyes ablaze, she swooped down and
sprang upon him with such impetuous violence that, bending over as he
was, he lost his balance and sprawled headlong, upsetting the tub as he
fell.  As the flood went all abroad, sousing Amos effectually, Barbara
snatched up the dripping and struggling mewer, clutched it to her
bosom, seized the basket containing the other two, burst into wild
tears, fled to the house, and shut herself into her room with her
treasures.  Straightway realising, however, that they would not be safe
even there, she darted forth again, defying her aunt's efforts to stop
her, ran to the woods, and hid them in the secret hollow of an old
tree.  Knowing that Amos would never have committed the enormity at his
own instance, she hastened to make her peace with him,--which was easy,
Amos being at heart her slave,--with a view to getting plenty of milk
for the tiny prisoners; but against Mistress Mehitable her wrath burned
hotly.  She stayed out till long past supper, and crept to bed without
speaking to any one--hungry save for warm milk supplied by Amos.

This was an open subversion of authority, and Mistress Mehitable was
moved.  In the morning she demanded the surrender of the kittens.
Barbara fiercely refused.  Then discipline was threatened--a whipping,
perhaps, since duty must be done, however hard--or imprisonment in her
room for a week.  Barbara had a vision of the kittens slowly starving
in their hollow tree, and her face set itself in a way that gave
Mistress Mehitable pause, suggesting tragedies.  The next moment
Barbara rushed from the room, flew bareheaded down the street, burst
into Doctor Jim's office, and announced that she would kill herself
rather than go back to her Aunt Hitty.  Past events precluding the
possibility of this being disregarded as an idle threat, it was
perforce taken seriously.  Doctor John was summoned.  The situation was
thrashed out in all its bearings; and finally, while Barbara curled
herself up in a tired heap on the lounge and went to sleep, her two
champions went to confer with Mistress Mehitable.  Hard in this case
was the task, for the little lady considered a principle at stake; but
they came back at last triumphant.  Barbara was to be allowed to retain
the kittens, on the pledge that she would keep them from becoming in
any way a nuisance to the rest of the house, and that she would, as
soon as possible, find homes elsewhere for at least two of them.  This
last condition might have troubled her, but that Doctor John and Doctor
Jim both winked as they announced it, which she properly interpreted to
mean that they, being catless and mouse-ridden, would help her.

So Barbara went back to Aunt Hitty--who received her gravely; and the
kittens came back from their hollow tree; and the shock of clashing
spheres was averted.  But the peace was a hollow and precarious one--an
armistice, rather than a peace.  For about a week Barbara's heart and
hands were pretty well occupied by her little charges, and Mistress
Mehitable found her conciliatory.  But one day there came a letter from
Uncle Bob, accompanied by a box which contained macaroons and
marchpanes, candied angelica, a brooch of garnets, and a piece of
watchet-blue paduasoy sufficient to make Barbara a dress.  The letter
announced that Uncle Bob was at Bridgeport, and about to sojourn for a
time at the adjoining village of Stratford.  Why, Stratford was in
Connecticut--it could not be very far from Second Westings!  Barbara's
heart throbbed with excitement.  The very next day she made excuse to
visit Lawyer Perley, and consult a map of the Connecticut colony which
she had once observed in his office.  She noted the way the rivers
ran--and her heart beat more wildly than ever.  Just at this point
conscience awoke.  She put the dangerous thought away vehemently, and
for a whole week was most studious to please.  But Mistress Mehitable
was still austere, still troubled in her heart as to whether she had
done right about the kittens.  One morning just after breakfast Barbara
was set to hemming a fine linen napkin, at a time when she was in haste
to be at something else more interesting.  She scamped the uncongenial
task--in very truth, the stitches were shocking.  Hence came an
unpleasantness.  Barbara was sent to her room to meditate for an hour.
She was now all on fire with revolt.  Escape seemed within reach.  She
meditated to such purpose that when her hour was past she came forth
smiling, and went about her affairs with gay diligence.

It was on the following morning that, when the first pallor of dawn
touched the tree-tops, she climbed out of the window, down the
apple-tree, and fled with her bundle and her kittens.



CHAPTER VII.

After her breakfast at old Debby's, Barbara urged forward her canoe
with keen exhilaration.  Now was she really free, really advanced in
her great adventure.  A load of anxiety was lifted from her mind.  She
had succeeded in arranging so that the letter would be delivered to her
aunt--a matter which had been fretting at her conscience.  Moreover,
old Debby had shown no surprise or disapproval on hearing of her rash
venture.  It nettled Barbara, indeed, to have so heroic an enterprise
taken so lightly; but she augured therefrom that it was more feasible
than she had dared to hope, and already she saw herself installed as
mistress of Uncle Bob's home in Stratford.

"He'll love us, my babies!" she cried to the kittens in the basket, and
forthwith plied her paddle so feverishly that in a few minutes she had
to stop and take breath.

The river at this point wound through low meadows, sparsely treed with
the towering, majestic water poplar, sycamore, and arching elm, with
here and there a graceful river birch leaning pensively to contemplate
its reflection in the stream.  The trees and flowers were personal to
Barbara, her quick senses differentiating them unerringly.  The low
meadow, swampy in spots, was a mass of herbs, shrubs, and rank grasses,
for the most part now in full flower; and the sun was busy distilling
from them all their perfumes, which came to Barbara's nostrils in warm,
fitful, varying puffs.  She noted the tenderly flushing feathery masses
of meadowsweet, which she could never quite forgive for its lack of the
perfume promised by its name.  From the dry knolls came the heavy scent
of the tall, bold umbels of the wild parsnip, at which she sniffed with
passing resentment.  Another breath of wind, and a turn of the stream
into a somewhat less open neighbourhood, brought her a sweet and
well-loved savour, and she half rose in her place to greet the presence
of a thicket of swamp honeysuckle.  She noted, as she went, pale
crimson colonies of the swamp rose, hummed over softly by the bees and
flies.  Purple Jacob's-ladder draped the bushes luxuriantly, with wild
clematis in lavish banks, and aerial stretches of the roseate
monkey-flower on its almost invisible stems.  Her heart went out to a
cluster of scented snakemouth under the rim of the bank.  She was about
to turn her prow shoreward and gather the modest pinkish blossoms for
their enchanting fragrance, when she observed leaning above them her
mortal enemy among the tree-folk, the virulent poison sumac.  She
swerved sharply to the other side of the stream to avoid its hostile
exhalations.

The little river now widened out and became still more sluggish.  A
narrow meadow island in mid-stream intoxicated Barbara's eyes with
colour, being fringed with rank on rank of purple flag-flower, and its
grassy heart flame-spotted with the blooms of the wild lily.  The still
water along the shores was crowded with floating-heart, and
pale-blossomed arrowhead, and blue, rank pickerel-weed; and Barbara,
who did not mind the heat, but revelled in the carnival of colour, drew
a deep breath and declared to herself (giving the flat lie to ten
thousand former assertions of the like intimacy) that the world was a
beautiful place to live in.  No sooner had she said it than her heart
sank under a flood of bitter memories.  She seemed once more to feel
the water singing in her ears, to see its golden blur filling her eyes,
as on that morning when she lay drowning in the lake.  The glory of the
summer day lost something of its brightness, and she paddled on
doggedly, looking neither to the right hand nor to the left.

But this was a mood that could not long hold dominion over Barbara's
spirit on this day of days, when she was journeying to freedom.  It
took no more than the scarlet flash of a tanager across her bow, the
flapping of a startled brood of ducks from their covert in the sedge,
to lure her back to gladness and the seeing eye.  At last the river
carried her into quite different surroundings.  Still slow, and smooth,
and deep, it entered the neighbourhood of great trees growing close,
the ancient and unviolated forest.  The day grew cool and solemn, the
diffused light floating hushed under the great arches of brown and gray
and green.  By contrast it seemed dark, but the air was of a wonderful
transparency, and Barbara's eyes, opening wide in delicious awe, saw
everything more distinctly than in the open.  She whispered to the
yellow birch, the paper birch, the beech, the maple, and the chestnut,
each by name lovingly, as she slipped past their soaring trunks,
knowing them by the texture and the features of their bark though their
leaves hung far overhead.  Her paddle dipped without noise, lest the
mysteries of the forest conclave should be disturbed by her intrusion.
So keen and so initiated were her young eyes that she discerned the
sleeping nighthawk on his branch, where his likeness to a knotted
excrescence of the bark made him feel secure from the most
discriminating vision.  Passing a dead pine with a small, neatly
rounded hole about ten feet up the trunk, she heard, or thought she
heard, the safe conferring of the nest full of young woodpeckers in its
hollow depth--which, indeed, was probably but the stirring of her own
blood-currents within her over-attentive little ears.  Suddenly the
vast stillness appeared to close down upon her, not with oppression,
but with a calm that was half fearful, half delicious; and it seemed as
if the fever of her veins was being slowly drawn away.  The mystic
shores slipped by with speed, though she hardly knew she was paddling.
And when, suddenly, a great brown owl dropped from a beech limb and
went winnowing soundlessly down the stream ahead of her, she caught her
breath, feeling as if the soul of the silence had taken palpable shape
before her eyes.

Now, as it seemed to Barbara, life and movement began to appear, at the
summons of those shadowy wings.  A little troop of pale-winged moths
drifted, circling lightly, over the stream; and a fly-catcher, with
thin, cheeping cries, dropped some twenty feet straight downward from
an overhanging limb, fluttered and zigzagged for a moment in mid-air,
capturing some small insect darters which Barbara could not see, then
shot back into the leafage.  Then upon a massive, sloping maple-branch
close to the bank, she saw a stocky black-and-white shape slowly
crawling.  The head was small and flattened, the bright little eyes
glittered upon her in defiance, and a formidable ridge of pointed
quills erected itself angrily along the back.  The animal uttered a
low, squeaking grunt, and Barbara, with prompt discretion, steered as
close as possible to the opposite bank, glancing apprehensively over
her shoulder as she passed.  She was strongly inclined to like the
porcupine; but his ill-temper was manifest, and she had faith in the
superstition that he could shoot his needle-like quills to a distance
and pierce the object of his dislike.  Barbara could not contemplate
the possibility of appearing before her uncle like a pin-cushion, stuck
full of porcupine quills.

Barely had she left the resentful porcupine behind, safely out of
quill-flinging distance, when she observed a small, ruddy head cleaving
the water in mid-channel.  A pair of prominent eyes met hers
apprehensively.  Two smooth ripples curved away from the throat of the
small swimmer.  It was a red squirrel whom unwonted affairs had
summoned to the other side of the river.  Whatever the affairs, Barbara
was determined to expedite them as far as she could.  Overtaking the
swimmer with a couple of smart strokes, she politely held out to him
the blade of the paddle.  The invitation was not to be resisted.  With
a scramble and a leap he came aboard, skipped along the gunwale, and
perched himself, jaunty and chipper for all his bedragglement of tail,
on the extreme tip of the bow.  There he twitched and chattered
eagerly, while Barbara headed toward the shore where he would be.
While he was yet a wide space distant from it, he sprang into the air.
Barbara held her breath--but the little traveller knew his powers.  He
landed safely on a projecting root, flicked off behind a tree, and was
gone.  In a few seconds there came echoing from a tree-top far back in
the shadows a loud, shrill chattering, which Barbara took for an
expression of either gratitude or impudence.  Caring not which it was,
she smiled indulgently and paddled on.

And now to her sensitive nostrils there came suddenly an elusive
wafture of wintergreen, and she looked around for the gray birch whose
message she recognised.  The homely, familiar smell reclaimed her from
her mood of exaltation, and she realised that she was hungry.  Just
ahead was a grassy glade, whereinto the sun streamed broadly.  She saw
that it was far past noon.  With a leap of the heart she realised that
she must be nearing the point where the stream would join the great
river which was to bear her, her kittens, and her fortunes, down to the
sea and Uncle Bob.  Yes, she recognised this same open glade, with the
giant willow projecting over the water at its farther end.  She and
Uncle Bob had both remarked upon its fairy beauty as they passed it
going and coming, when they had explored the stream.  She had but two
or three miles farther to go, and her paddle would greet the waters of
the great river.  This was fitting place to halt and renew her strength.

Pulling up the prow of the canoe upon a tuft of sedge, she took out the
basket and the bundle.  From the heart of the bundle she drew a small
leather bag, containing barley cakes, gingerbread, a tiny parcel of
cold meat done up in oiled paper, a wooden saucer, and a little wooden
bottle which she had filled with fresh milk at old Debby's.  Having
poured some of the milk into the saucer, and laid three or four shreds
of the meat around its edges, she released the kittens from their
basket.  For two or three minutes, glad of freedom, the fat, furry
things frisked and stretched and tumbled hither and thither, while
Barbara kept watch upon them with solicitous eyes.  But soon they grew
afraid of the great spaces and the woods, being accustomed to an
environment more straitened.  They came back mewing to Barbara's feet,
and she turned their attention to their dinner.  While they lapped the
milk, and daintily chewed the unaccustomed meat, she dined heartily but
abstractedly on the barley cakes and gingerbread.  Then, having
satisfied her thirst by lying flat on the wet, grassy brink of the
stream and lowering her lips to the water, she decided to rest a few
minutes before resuming her voyage.  Close by was a beech-tree, around
whose trunk the moss looked tempting.  Seating herself with her back
against the tree, and the kittens curled up in her lap, she looked out
dreamily over the hot grasses--and presently fell asleep.

She had slept perhaps half an hour when a crow, alighting on a low
branch some half score paces distant, peered into the shade of the
beech-tree and discovered the sweet picture.  To him it was not sweet
in the least, but indubitably interesting.  "Cah--ah!" he exclaimed
loudly, hopping up and down in his astonishment.  The sharp voice awoke
Barbara, and she rubbed her eyes.

"Gracious!" she exclaimed to the kittens, "what sleepyheads we are!
Come, come, we must hurry up, or we'll never get to Uncle Bob!"

Before she was really well awake, the kittens were in the basket, the
canoe was loaded and shoved off, and the adventurers were once more
afloat upon their quest.  Then only did Barbara give herself time to
stretch and rub her eyes.  After a few strokes she let the canoe drift
with the current, while she laid down the paddle, and cooled her wrists
and refreshed her face with handfuls of water.

As she straightened her brave little shoulders again to her labour, she
was arrested by a strange sound as of the ripping of bark.  It was an
ominous kind of noise in the lonely stillness, and apprehensively she
peered in the direction whence it came.  Then she grew afraid.  On the
other shore, about a couple of rods back from the water, she saw a
large black bear sitting upon its haunches beside a fallen and rotten
tree.  As she stared, wide-eyed and trembling, he lifted his great paw
and laid hold of the dead bark.  Again came the ripping, tearing noise,
and off peeled a huge brown slab.  To the exposed surface he applied a
nimble tongue--and Barbara's terror subsided.  She saw that he was
quite too absorbed in the delights of an ant-log to pay any attention
to a mere girl; and she remembered, too, that the black bear was a
rather inoffensive soul so long as he was not treated contumeliously.
For all this, however, she made as much haste from the spot as was
consistent with a noiseless paddle--and kept furtive watch over her
shoulder until she had put a good half-mile between the canoe and the
ant-log.

By the time her concern about the bear had begun to flag she found that
the current was quickening its pace.  The trees slipped by more
swiftly, and the shores grew bolder.  A mellow, roaring clamour came to
her ears, and with delicious trepidation she remembered a little rapid
through which she must pass.  Around a turn of the stream it came into
view, its small waves sparkling where the forest gave back and admitted
the afternoon sun.  Her experience in running rapids had been slight,
but she remembered the course which Uncle Bob had taken, between two
large rocks where the water ran deep and smooth; and she called to
mind, the further to brace her confidence, that Uncle Bob had
stigmatised this particular rapid as mere child's play.  Her heart beat
rather wildly as she entered the broken water, and the currents gripped
her, and the banks began to flee upward past her view.  But her eye
held true and her wrist firm.  The clamour filled her ears, but she
laid her course with precision and fetched the very centre of the
channel between the big rocks.  From that point all was clear.  The
canoe went racing through the last ripple, which splashed her lightly
as she passed; and in a reach of quiet water, foam-flecked and shining,
she drew a deep breath of triumph.  This, indeed, was to live.  Never
had she experienced a keener consciousness of power.  She felt her
enterprise already successful.  The ancient woods, with their bears,
their porcupines, their wide-winged brown owls, lay behind her.  Second
Westings was incalculably far away.  There in plain view, rising over
its comfortable orchard trees, not half a mile distant, were the roofs
and chimneys of Gault House, overlooking, as she had heard, the waters
of the great river.  And beyond the next turn, as she thought with a
thrill, she would see the great river itself.



CHAPTER VIII.

Barbara rounded the next turn.  There before her, widely gleaming,
spread the waters of the great river itself.  She cried out in her joy,
and paddled madly--then paused, abashed, perceiving that she was the
object of a critical but frankly admiring scrutiny.  Her attention was
diverted from the great river.  Here was a tall boy--of her own caste
unmistakably--poling himself out on a precarious little raft to meet
her.  Her flush of confusion passed as quickly as it had come, and
laying her paddle across the gunwale, she waited with interest to
discover what he might have to say.

Barbara had met but few boys of her own class, and those few had
seemed, under her merciless analysis, uniformly uninteresting.  Their
salient characteristics, to her mind, were freckles, rudeness,
ignorance, and a disposition to tease cats.  But this youth was
obviously different.  Apparently about seventeen years of age, he was
tall and graceful, and the way the clumsy log-raft on which he stood
surged forward under the thrusts of his pole revealed his strength.
Barbara loved strength, so long as delicacy saved it from coarseness.
The boy was in his shirt sleeves, which were of spotless cambric, and
Barbara noted, with approbation, the ample ruffles turned back, for
convenience, from his sinewy brown hands.  She observed that his brown,
long-fronted, flowered vest was of silk, and his lighter brown
small-clothes of a fine cloth worn only by the gentry; that his
stockings were of black silk, and his shoes, drenched most of the time
in the water that lapped over the raft, were adorned with large buckles
of silver.  She admired the formal fashion in which his black hair was
tied back in a small and very precise queue.  But most of all she liked
his face, which was even darker than her own--lean, somewhat square in
the jaw, with a broad forehead, and gray-blue, thoughtful eyes, set
wide apart.

Now, Barbara's fearless scorn of conventions was equalled only by her
ignorance of them.  This boy pleased her, so why should she hesitate to
show it?  When the raft ranged up alongside the canoe, she laid hold
upon it for anchorage and the greater convenience in conversation, and
flashed upon the stranger the full dazzle of her scarlet lips, white
teeth, and bewildering radiance of green eyes.  The boy straightened
himself from the pole in order to bow with the more ceremony--which he
accomplished to Barbara's complete satisfaction in spite of the
unsteadiness of the raft.

"What a nice-looking boy you are!" she said, frankly condescending.
"What is your name?"

[Illustration: "_What a nice-looking boy you are!" she said._]

"Robert Gault, your very humble servant!" he replied, bowing again, and
smiling.  The smile was altogether to Barbara's fancy, and showed even,
strong, white teeth, another most uncommon merit in a boy.  "And I am
sure," he went on, "that this is Mistress Barbara Ladd whom I have the
honour to address."

"Why, how do you know me?" exclaimed Barbara, highly pleased.  Then,
quickly apprehensive, she added, "What makes you think I am Barbara
Ladd?"

The boy noted the change in her countenance, and wondered at it.  But
he replied at once:

"Of course the name of Mistress Barbara Ladd, and her daring, and her
canoe-craft, and her beauty" (this he added out of his own instant
conviction), "have spread far down the river.  When I came up here the
other day to visit my grandmother" (he indicated slightly the distant
roofs of Gault House), "I came with a great hope of being permitted to
meet you!"

Evidently he knew nothing of her flight.  Her uneasiness vanished.  But
she had never had a compliment before--a personal compliment, such as
is dear to every wise feminine heart--and that word "beauty" was most
melodious to her ears.  As a matter of fact, she did not herself admire
her own appearance at all, and even had an aversion to the mirror--but
it occurred to her now, for the first time, that this was a point upon
which it was not needful that every one should agree with her.  It was
practically her first real lesson in tolerance toward an opinion that
differed from her own.

"I'll warrant you heard no good of that same Barbara Ladd, more's the
pity!" she answered, coquettishly tossing her dark little head and
shooting at him a distracting sidelong glance from narrowed lids.
"Anyhow, if you are Lady Gault's grandson, I am most happy to meet you."

She stretched out to him her brown little hand, just now none too
immaculate, indeed, but with breeding stamped on every slim line of it,
and eloquent from the polished, well-trimmed, long, oval nails.
Instantly, careless of the water and his fine cloth breeches, Robert
went down upon one knee and gallantly kissed the proffered hand.

Barbara was just at an age when, for girls with Southern blood in their
veins, womanhood and childhood lie so close entwined in their
personalities that it is impossible to disentangle the golden and the
silver threads.  Never before had any one kissed her hand.  She was
surprised at the pleasant thrill it gave her; and she was surprised,
too, at her sudden, inexplicable impulse to draw the hand away.  It was
a silly impulse, she told herself; so she controlled it, and accepted
the kiss with the composure of a damsel well used to such ceremonious
homage.  But she did not like such a nice boy to be kneeling in the
water.

"Why did you come out on that rickety thing?" she asked.  "Why haven't
you a boat or a canoe?"

"This was the only thing within reach," he explained, respectfully
relinquishing her hand.  "I saw you coming; and I knew it must be you,
because no other girl could handle a canoe so beautifully; and I was
afraid of losing you if I waited."

"That was civil of you.  But aren't you getting very wet there?  Won't
you come into the canoe?"

"Really?" he exclaimed, lifting his chin with a quick gesture of
eagerness.  "Are you going to be so good to me?  Then I must push this
old raft ashore first and secure it.  I don't know whom it belongs to."

As he poled to land in too much haste for any further conversation,
Barbara paddled silently alongside and admired his skill.  When the
raft was tied up, and the pole tossed into the bushes, he took his
place in the bow and knelt so as to face her.

"You must turn the other way," laughed Barbara.

"No, I was proposing, by your leave, to make this the stern, and ask
you to let me paddle," he answered.  "Won't you let me?  You really
look a little bit tired, and I want you to talk to me, if you will be
so condescending.  How can I turn my back to you?"

"I am not the least, leastest bit tired," protested Barbara, a little
doubtfully.  "But I don't mind letting you paddle for awhile, if you'll
paddle hard and go the way I want you to."  And with that she seated
herself flat on the bottom of the canoe, with an air of relief that
rather contradicted her protestation.

The boy laughed, as he turned the canoe with powerful, sweeping strokes.

"Surely I will paddle hard, and in whatsoever direction you command me.
Am I not the most obedient of your slaves?"

This pleased Barbara.  She loved slaves.  She accepted his servitude at
once and fully.

"Paddle straight out into the river, and then down!" she commanded.

At the imperious note in her voice, the boy looked both amused and
pleased.  Obeying without a word of question, he sent the canoe leaping
forward under his deep, rhythmical strokes at a speed that filled
Barbara with admiration.

"Oh, _how_ strong you are and _how_ well you paddle!" she cried, her
eyes wide and sparkling, her lips parted, the crisp, rebellious curls
blowing about her face.  Never had Robert seen so bewitching a picture
as this small figure curled up happily in the bow of the canoe, her
little shoes of red leather and her black-stockinged ankles sticking
out demurely from under her short blue striped skirt, her nut-brown,
slender, finely modelled arms emerging from short loose sleeves.  He
was proud of her praise.  He was partly engrossed in displaying his
skill and strength to the very best advantage.  But above all he was
thinking of this picture, which was destined to flash back into his
memory many a time in after days, with a poignancy of vividness that
affected his action like a summons or an appeal.

In a few minutes the canoe was fairly out upon the bosom of the main
stream, and headed downward with the strongly flowing current.  Barbara
clasped her hands with a movement which expressed such rapture and
relief that the boy's curiosity was excited.  He began to feel that
there was some mystery in the affair.  Slackening his pace ever so
slightly, he remarked:

"I suppose you are staying with friends somewhere in this
neighbourhood.  How fortunate I am--that is, if you will graciously
permit me to go canoeing with you often while you are here."

But even as he spoke, his eyes took in, for the first time, the
significance of the bundle and the basket, which he had been so far too
occupied to notice.  His wonder came forward and spoke plainly from his
frank eyes, and Barbara was at a loss to explain.

"No," she said, "I am not staying anywhere in this neighbourhood.  I
don't know a soul in this neighbourhood but you."

"Then--you've come right from Second Westings!" he exclaimed.

"Right from Second Westings."

"All that distance since this morning?" he persisted.

She nodded impatiently.

"Through those woods--through the rapids--all alone?"

"Yes, all alone!" she answered, a little crisply.  She was annoyed.

In his astonishment he laid down his paddle and leaned forward,
scanning her face.

"But--" said he, embarrassed, "forgive me!  I know it is none of my
business,--but what does it mean?"

"Go on paddling," commanded Barbara.  "Did you not promise you would
obey me?  _I_ know what it means!"  And she laughed, half maliciously.
The boy looked worried,--and it was great fun to bring that worried
look to his face.

He resumed his paddling, though much less vigorously, while she evaded
his gaze, and a wilful smile clung about her lips.  The current was
swift, and they had soon left the imposing white columns of Gault House
far behind.  A tremendous sense of responsibility came over the boy,
and again he stopped paddling.

"Oh, perhaps you are tired!" suggested Barbara, coolly.  "Give me the
paddle, and I'll set you ashore right here."

"I said just now it was none of my business," said he, gravely,
appealingly, "but, do you know, I think perhaps it ought to be my
business!  I ought to ask!"

He retained the paddle, but turned the canoe's head up-stream and held
it steady.

"What do you mean?" demanded Barbara, angrily.  "Give me the paddle at
once!"

Still he made no motion to obey.

"Do you realise," he asked, "that it's now near sundown,--that it will
take till dark to work back against the current to where I met
you,--that there's no place near here where a lady can rest for the
night--"

"I don't care," interrupted Barbara hotly, ready to cry with anger and
anxiety; "I'm going to travel all night.  I'm going to the sea--to my
uncle at Stratford!  I just don't want you to interfere.  Let me put
you ashore at once!"

Robert was struck dumb with amazement.  To the sea!  This small girl,
all alone!  And evidently quite unacquainted with the perils of the
river.  It was superb pluck,--but it was wild, impossible folly.  He
did not know what to do.  He turned the canoe toward shore, and
presently found himself in quieter water, out of the current.

Observing his ready obedience, Barbara was mollified; but at the same
time she was conscious of a sinking of the heart because he was going
to leave her alone, when it would soon be dark.  She had not
considered, hitherto, this necessity of travelling in the dark.  She
made up her mind to tell the nice boy everything, and get him to advise
her as to where she could stay for the night.

"I'm running away, you know, Master Gault," she said, sweetly, as if it
were the most ordinary thing in the world.

"Are you at all acquainted with the river?" he asked, gently, without a
trace of resentment for the way she had spoken to him a moment before.

"No!" confessed Barbara, in a very small voice, deprecatingly.

"A few miles farther down there is a stretch of very bad water," said
the boy.  "Clever canoeist as you are, you would find it hard enough
work going through in broad daylight.  At night you would just be
dashed to pieces in a minute."

"Oh, what shall I do?" cried Barbara, the perils of her adventure just
beginning to touch her imagination.

"Let me take you to my grandmother's," he pleaded.  "And we will paddle
back to Second Westings to-morrow."

Barbara burst into a storm of tears.

"Never! never! never!" she sobbed.  "I'll die in the rapids before I'll
ever go back to Aunt Hitty!  Oh, why did I like you?  Why did I trust
you?  Oh, I don't know what to do!"

The boy's heart came into his throat and ached at the sight of her
trouble.  He longed desperately to help her.  He had a wild impulse to
swear that he would follow her and protect her, wherever she wanted to
go, however impossible her undertaking.  Instead of that, however, he
kept silence and paddled forward resolutely for two or three minutes,
while Barbara, her face buried in her hands, shook with sobs.  At last
he ran the canoe into a shadowy cove, where lily leaves floated on the
unruffled water.  Then he laid down his paddle.

"Tell me all about it, won't you, please?" he petitioned.  "I do want
so much to help you.  And perhaps I can.  And you _shall not_ be sorry
for trusting me!"

How very comforting his voice was!  So tender, and kind, and with a
faithful ring in its tenderness.  Barbara suffered it to comfort her.
Surely he would understand, if old Debby could!  In a few moments she
lifted her wet little face, flashed a smile at him through her tears,
and said:

"How good and kind you are!  Forgive me if I was bad to you.  Yes, I'll
tell you all about it, and then you can see for yourself why I had to
come away."

Barbara's exposition was vivid and convincing.  Her emotion, her utter
sincerity, fused everything, and she had the gift of the telling
phrase.  What wonder if the serious, idealistic, chivalrous boy, upon
whose nerves her fire and her alien, elusive beauty thrilled like
wizard music, saw all the situation through her eyes.  Her faults were
invisible to him ere he had listened a minute to her narrative.  She
was right to run away.  The venture, of course, was a mad one, but with
his help it might well be carried through to success.  As she talked
on, an intoxication of enthusiasm and sympathy tingled along his blood
and rose to his brain.  Difficulties vanished, or displayed themselves
to his deluded imagination only as obstacles which it would be splendid
to overcome.  In the ordinary affairs of life the boy was cool,
judicious, reasonable, to a degree immeasurably beyond his years; but
Barbara's strange magnetism had called forth the dreamer and the poet
lurking at the foundations of his character; and his judgment, for the
time, was overwhelmed.  When Barbara's piercing eloquence ceased, and
she paused breathless, eyes wide and lips parted in expectation, he
said, solemnly:

"I will help you!  To the utmost of my power I will help you!"

The words had the weight and significance of a consecration.

Barbara clapped her hands.

"Oh!" she cried, "How can I ever thank you for being so lovely to me?
But I knew you were nice the moment I looked at you!"  And a load
rolled off her mind.  With such a helper, already was her enterprise
accomplished.

"I will try hard to be worthy of your favour," said Robert, with deep
gravity, feeling that now indeed was boyhood put away and full manhood
descended upon his shoulders.  His brain was racked with the terrific
problem of finding Barbara fit lodging for the night; but meantime he
turned the canoe and paddled swiftly out into the current.  Hardly had
he changed his course when he noticed a light rowboat creeping up along
the shore.  But boats were no unusual sight on the river, and he paid
no heed to it.  As for Barbara, she was so absorbed in watching his
great strokes, and in thinking how delightful it was to have found such
an ally, that the sound of the oars passed her ears unheeded, and she
did not turn her head.



CHAPTER IX.

At length, however, the boy noticed with a tinge of surprise that the
boat was steering as if to intercept his course.  He was about to pass
greeting to its occupants when something in the face of the big man
sitting in the stern arrested his words.  At the same moment the sound
of the oars caught Barbara's attention, and she turned her head.

"Oh!" she cried, shrilly.  "Doctor Jim!--and Doctor John!" she added,
as one of the two rowers looked around and grinned at her in humourous
triumph.  Then, her visions of life at Stratford with Uncle Bob falling
to ruin about her, she wept aloud in her disappointment.

Robert understood, and quick as thought swerved in his course, making a
dart for the swifter water of mid-channel.  His heart swelled with
exultation.

"They can't catch us!" he declared to Barbara.

"Stop! you young rascal!" thundered the mighty voice of Doctor Jim.  "I
know you, Bobby Gault.  Don't I know your father's son?  Stop this
instant!"

"Quit this tomfoolery, Bobby!" roared Doctor John, albeit a little
breathless from his labour.  Barbara lifted her face and stared through
her tears.  But the boy paid no heed, paddling mightily, and the
distance between boat and canoe was surely widening.

But Doctor Jim knew Barbara.

"Very well!" he said, grimly, in a loud voice.  "I'm sorry to do bodily
hurt to the son of my old friend Richard, but it can't be helped."

He drew a long-barrelled pistol from under the flap of his green coat.

"I'll have to wing you, my boy!" he said, taking careful aim, while one
eyelid quivered in the direction of Doctor John.

The boy's face paled a little, but his jaw set firmly, and he kept
right on.

"Stop! stop! stop!" screamed Barbara, but with no result.  She half
arose in the canoe, glancing with horror from the boy's resolute face
to the muzzle of the pistol.

"If you don't stop, Robert, I will throw myself overboard this minute!"
she vowed.

The terror in her face convinced him.  He sullenly drew in his paddle,
laid it down in the canoe, folded his arms, and looked off over the
western hills, as if scornful of all that might take place.

In a few seconds the boat came up alongside of the drifting canoe, the
oars were drawn in, and strong hands laid hold upon the gunwale.  There
were some awful moments of silence, broken only by Barbara's sobbing
and the splashing of waves on the boat and the canoe.  The owner of the
boat, a gaunt farmer from Westings Landing, a few miles down the river,
who had not been initiated into the mystery, looked on in discreet
astonishment.  This was indeed a strange situation in which to see the
grandson of Lady Gault.  At last Barbara, to whom suspense was hideous,
broke out.

"Oh, do say something!" she wailed.  Indeed, neither Doctor John nor
Doctor Jim knew just what to say.  They were embarrassed.  But the
child was right.  Somebody had to say something.  By interchange of
quick glances the lot fell to Doctor John.

"Well, this is pretty gallivanting, running away with a young
man,--carrying him off in your aunt's canoe!" said Doctor John.

Barbara's eyes opened very wide.

"I never!" she cried, indignantly.

"As for you, Bobby Gault," interposed Doctor Jim, severely, and in a
tone that made Robert feel himself hatefully young, "I cannot
comprehend how _you_ should come to be mixed up in this affair.  I know
well what my friend, Richard Gault, your lamented father, with his nice
notions of honour, would have thought of such an escapade."  (Robert's
father and mother had died within a few days of each other, by an
epidemic of typhus, when the boy was only five years old.)  "But I
shall lay the matter before your good grandmother, and your uncle, who
will doubtless deal with you as you deserve."

Robert shut his lips tight and eyed the speaker proudly; but Barbara
made reply in her vehement way.

"It is not Robert's fault at all, I tell you, Doctor Jim!" she cried,
forgetting that she had said nothing whatever on the subject.  "I just
met him, an hour or two ago, on an old raft; and he knew who I was; and
because he was getting his feet wet on the raft, I invited him to get
into the canoe; and I made him promise to paddle me just wherever I
wanted to go.  So there!  And it is not his fault one bit!  And you may
do what you like to me, but I won't have him punished when he has not
done anything at all!"

Doctor John tried to look quite grave; and Doctor Jim, who was really
annoyed, succeeded.

"Oh, ho! young man!" he remarked, sarcastically, "it appears that you
have a champion.  Now, what have you to say for yourself?"

"Mistress Barbara has neglected to add," said he, with all the dignity
that he could assume, "that I insisted upon her narrating to me all the
unhappy circumstances of her life in Second Westings.  The story
commanded my fullest sympathy, and I had just given her my word that I
would aid her in escaping to her uncle, Mr. Glenowen, where she would
be happy, when you came and violently interfered with her purpose.  I
ask you, sir, to consider.  Are you not ashamed to be instrumental in
restoring a young lady to conditions where she has been made to suffer
so cruelly?"

In spite of his indignation, Robert could not help feeling proud of
this effort.  In his own ears it sounded imposing, unanswerable, and
altogether grown up.  Barbara thought it was a miracle of eloquence,
and cast him a grateful look.  But Doctor John could not conceal his
delight in the stilted periods.  He burst into a huge guffaw, at which
Barbara's eyes snapped and Robert's dark skin reddened angrily.  But
Doctor Jim exclaimed, hotly:

"Hoity-toity!  How big we do feel!  To think how often I dandled you on
my knee when you were a mewling baby.  If I had but known enough to
spank you once in awhile, you might not have grown up to be such a
priggish young coxcomb.  Richard's son!  Who would have thought it?
Eh, what?"

Meanwhile the boat and canoe were drifting rapidly down-stream.  Doctor
John looked at the sun, now touching the horizon.

"Don't you think, Master Gault," said he, drily, "that unless you
propose to honour us with your company to Second Westings, we had
better set you ashore hereabouts, that you may stretch your legs in the
direction of Gault House?"

"Thank you!" said Robert, stiffly, his heart bursting with humiliation
and the longing to strangle his huge, supercilious antagonist.  But
Barbara interrupted.

"I'm not going back to Second Westings!" she declared obstinately,
trying hard to set her full red lips together in the resolute way that
Robert's had.  "I will never go back to live with Aunt Hitty.  I'll
drown myself first.  I'm going to Uncle Bob, at Stratford."

The threat, once so effective, seemed now to have lost its potency.  No
one appeared impressed but Robert,--and perhaps the stranger-man who
owned the boat.

"My dear child," said Doctor John, eying her indulgently, "among the
more or less serious obstacles to your plan is one of which I believe
that even you will see the magnitude.  Mr. Glenowen is no longer at
Stratford."

"Uncle Bob not at Stratford?" wailed Barbara, overwhelmed, subjugated
in an instant.  Robert started aghast.

Doctor John paused dramatically, while the full effect of the news
worked upon his victims in the canoe.  Then he said, coolly:

"Mr. Glenowen is just now at Hartford, or has lately left that town.
Mistress Ladd had a letter from him to-day, saying he expected to
arrive at Second Westings not later than the end of next week, I think,
moreover, that I saw a packet on the mantel-shelf addressed to Mistress
Barbara Ladd!"

With one bound Barbara's heart passed from despair to ecstasy.
Everything else was forgotten.  She was as eager now to get back to
Second Westings as she had been to escape from it.  All she knew or
cared for was that Uncle Bob would be there.  He would make everything
right.  Her face was all radiance, as it turned to Doctor John, then to
Doctor Jim, then to Robert,--who eyed her gloomily, feeling himself now
cast out into the cold.  But in her joy Barbara did not forget him
after all.

"Just think, Robert," she cried, "Uncle Bob so near, and we would have
missed him if Doctor John and Doctor Jim, the dears, had not come and
caught us.  They are always _angels_ to me, you know.  Now we will put
you ashore right here.  And you must be sure to come over to Second
Westings and see me,--won't you?--while Uncle Bob is there.  Come next
week."

"I thank you for the gracious invitation," answered the boy, bowing a
little stiffly.  "But I think I had better wait for Mr. Glenowen's
permission, as these gentlemen are not likely to present me to him in a
very favourable light."

"Don't be silly and disagreeable, Robert," said Barbara, impatiently.
"Uncle Bob will think of you just as I do.  We always agree about
people.  Now you must hurry!"

"I think, however," persisted Robert, "I ought to wait for Mr.
Glenowen's invitation."

"Right, my lad!" exclaimed Doctor Jim, much mollified by this attitude.
"That's my old friend Richard's son speaking now.  And I doubt not that
our little mistress here will see to it that the invitation is
forthcoming in good season,--eh, what?"

There was a doubtful expression on Barbara's face, over the lack of
instantaneous obedience to her will on the part of her champion; but
Robert, encouraged by Doctor Jim's commendation, now made a bold
proposal.

"If you would be so kind, sir," he suggested, diffidently, "I should
like to go down with you to the Landing, where I can lodge very well
for the night at the house of an old servant of my grandmother's.  It
will be a long and difficult tramp for me up the shore now, in the
dark, and with no road through the woods.  By going with you to the
Landing I might be of some service, to paddle the canoe.  She will be
an awkward craft to tow; and Mistress Barbara is very tired, I
perceive."

"Sly young dog!" growled Doctor John.  "But, seeing that he is
Richard's son, we'll have to take him along with us as far as the
Landing, eh, Jim?"

"Let him work his passage, then!" roared Doctor Jim.  "Let him paddle
the canoe, and Barbara, and her kittens, and all her contraptions,--and
we'll see about not being too hard on him when we come to tell his
grandmother!"

This arrangement was highly satisfactory to all concerned.  The gloom
fell from Robert's face, and his mouth grew boyish and happy as he
paddled on in musing silence.  He kept the canoe alongside of the boat,
just out of reach of the oars, so that Barbara could talk conveniently
with Doctor John and Doctor Jim, which she did in the most usual manner
in the world, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  But
presently, upon a lull in the conversation came the voice of Robert,
who had been thinking about Barbara's life at Second Westings.

"Is not Mistress Ladd a very harsh, tyrannical sort of woman?" he
inquired, solicitously.

There was a huge roar from Doctor Jim, which made even Barbara jump,
inured though she was to these explosions.

"I'd have you remember, young sir, that you are speaking of the
gentlest, sweetest, truest, most gracious lady that ever lived, for
whose little shoes you are not worthy to sweep the ground!"

Robert stared in confusion, too astonished to be at once ready with an
apology.  Before he could gather his wits, Doctor John spoke up, more
gently.  He was no less loyal a champion to Mistress Mehitable than was
Doctor Jim, but with him his humour was ever at hand to assuage his
wrath.  Subduing his great tones to a quizzical and confidential
half-whisper, that feigned itself not meant for Barbara's ears, he
said, amiably:

"My son, when you come to know well this little firebrand of ours, whom
we have just plucked from a watery burning, this sower of dissension in
our good village of Second Westings, I doubt not that you will spare a
moiety of your sympathies for that very noble lady, Mistress Ladd.  In
truth, for all her tears and anxiety on this mad little maid's account,
I have a misgiving that we are doing the sweet lady no great kindness
in taking Mistress Barbara back to her.  A pretty gallant you are, to
undertake to carry a lady off, and then make a mess of it, and leave
her embarrassed friends to straighten out the snarl!"

Under this daunting blend of rebuke and raillery, Robert fell into a
deeper confusion.  He floundered through a few awkward phrases of
deprecation and apology, but Barbara cut in upon his struggles without
mercy.  The gibes of Doctor John troubled her not a whit, but one thing
which he had said captured her interest.

"_Did_ Aunt Hitty _really_ cry when she found I had gone away?  Did she
really feel so badly about it?  I thought she would be rather glad!"

"She was in great grief, bitter grief, Barbara.  Do you think no one
has feelings but yourself?" answered Doctor Jim, with some severity.

This pertinent question Barbara ignored.  She turned to Robert.

"You must understand, Robert," she explained with care, "that Aunt
Hitty is not really cruel to me,--at least she never intends to be.
But she and I do not understand each other, and so we can't get on!"

"You will simply have to learn some of the rudiments of obedience and
self-control, Barbara," said Doctor Jim.  Never had he spoken to her so
severely before, and she was amazed.  But she saw that this time she
had gone very near to forfeiting the sympathy of her most faithful
allies.  Perhaps, after all, she _was_ in the wrong to run away.  The
suspicion only made her the more obstinate.

"I don't think one ought to obey any one, except one's father and
mother," she proclaimed rebelliously.  "One's father and mother, if
they are good, and wise, and kind," she added, still further enlarging
her freedom.

"And the king!" added Robert, sententiously.  He flung out the word as
a shibboleth.

There was a moment of silence.  Barbara darted upon him a glance of
petulant disappointment.  Doctor John laughed hugely.  But as for
Doctor Jim, his face underwent a swift change, as he scanned the boy
with new interest.

"Well said, well said; spoken as Richard's boy should speak, as a Gault
should ever speak!" he thundered, in high approval.  "I am sorry if I
seemed abrupt a moment ago, Robert.  Pardon my quick temper.  I see
your heart is in the right place, and you have not let them stuff your
head with pestilent and plebeian heresies.  Yes, yes, you must
certainly come to Second Westings.  I shall be honoured if my old
friend's son will be my guest!"

From that moment dated a friendship between Robert and Doctor Jim which
no after vicissitude was ever able to disturb.

But Barbara was of another mind.

"King George is just a stupid old tyrant, and I hate him!" she
exclaimed.  "I'm sorry, Robert, you have not quite so much sense as I
thought you had.  I'm really disappointed in you.  But there are _some_
nice Tories!  You know even dear Doctor Jim is a Tory, though we can't
see why, and he's just as lovely as if he were on the right side.  So
you may come to Second Westings,--though you must promise not to argue
with me.  But I know, Robert, I sha'n't like you now so well as I
thought I was going to!"

"Let the young people fight it out, eh, Jim?" said Doctor John, greatly
amused.  "Let them fight it out between them!"  Then, suddenly grave,
he added, "God grant the differences now distracting our colonies grow
not beyond the point of children's quarrels!"

Doctor Jim shook his head sorrowfully.

"There's trouble ahead, John.  I feel it coming.  This is a
stiff-necked and disloyal people, and I have a foreboding.  There's a
sword in the air, John!"

"It's surely a stiff-necked king, Jim," muttered Doctor John.

"The sword of a Gault will ever leap from its scabbard to serve the
king!" said Robert, loftily, his grave eyes aglow with exaltation.

As he made this proclamation of his faith, devoting himself to a cause
of which she disapproved, and quite ignoring her feelings in the
matter, Barbara felt a sudden pang of loneliness.  She seemed
forgotten, or, at least, grown secondary and trivial.

"Do let us hurry home to Uncle Bob!" she pleaded, her voice pathetic,
her eyes tired and dissatisfied.

Then silence, with the twilight, descended upon the voyaging company;
and in a little while, coming noiselessly to the landing-place, they
stepped ashore into the dewy, sweet-smelling weeds and the evening
peace.



CHAPTER X.

A green lane, little used, but deeply rutted, led up from the wharf to
the main street of Westings Landing.  The village was silent, with no
sign of life, except here and there a glimmer from a candle-lit window.
From the pale sky overhead came the strange twang of swooping
night-hawks, as of harp-strings suddenly but firmly plucked.  In the
intervals between these irregular and always unexpected notes was heard
the persistent rhythm of a whippoorwill, softly threshing the dusk with
his phantom song.  Barbara felt the whole scene to be unreal, her
companions unreal, herself most unreal of all.  Could it be that she
was the girl who had that same morning run away, that same morning made
so brave and triumphant a start upon so splendid a venture?  Now,
somehow, she felt rather than understood the folly of it.  The fact
that she would have missed her Uncle Bob if she had succeeded in her
plan took out of it all the zest, and it became to her a very
ridiculous plan indeed.  But her change of attitude was emotional
rather than intellectual.  She was convinced in mood, not in mind.
Only she felt herself on the sudden a very small, tired girl, who
deserved to be punished, and wanted to go to bed.  Her conviction of
childishness was heightened by the fact that Robert, who was walking
just ahead with Doctor Jim, in grave discussion, seemed not only to
have suddenly grown up, but to have quite forgotten her once imperious
but now discredited existence.  Her exhaustion, her reaction, her
defeat, her disappointment in Robert, these all at once translated
themselves into a sense of hopeless loneliness.  She seized the large,
kind hand of Doctor John, who walked in silence by her side, and clung
to him.

Presently Doctor John felt hot tears streaming copiously down his
fingers.  Without a word, he snatched her up into his arms, carrying
her as if she were a baby; and shaking with voiceless sobs, she buried
her small, wet face in his comforting neck.  She felt as if she wanted
to cry wildly, deliciously, for hours and hours.  But she managed to
remember that even a very small girl may be heavy to carry over a rough
road in the dusk, when the man who carries her has had a hard day's
work chasing her.  And, furthermore, she thought how very, very little,
how poor and pitiful a heroine she would seem in Robert's eyes if he
should chance to remember her existence and look back!  She pulled
herself together with a fierce effort, and choked down her sobs.

"Thank you so much, dear Doctor John!" she whispered in his ear.  "I'm
better now, and you must put me down.  I'm too heavy."

"Tut, tut, sweetheart!" growled Doctor John, softly; "you bide where
you are, and rest.  _You_ heavy!"

"But,"--she persisted, with a little earthward wriggle to show she
meant it,--"I want to get down now, please!  I don't want to look like
quite such a baby.  Doctor John!"

"Tut, tut!" but he set her down, nevertheless, and kept comforting hold
of one cold little hand.  Doctor John was quick in his sympathetic
comprehension of women and children, and tolerant of what most men
would account mere whim.  In a moment he leaned down close to her ear,
and whispered:

"What are you but a baby, after all,--a tired out, bad baby,
sweetheart?  But we'll just keep that a secret between you and me, and
not let Jim Pigeon or Master Robert even guess at it!"  And Barbara
squeezed his hand violently in both of hers by way of answer.

At this moment, Doctor Jim and Robert, reaching the corner of the
street, turned and waited for them to come up.  Doctor Jim had
Barbara's precious basket of kittens on his arm, while Robert was
carrying her little red bundle, which he now handed over to Doctor
John.  A certain reluctance with which he gave it up was quite lost
upon Barbara in her unwonted humility and depression; and it was a very
white, wistful little face which she turned glimmeringly upon him as he
bowed over her hand.

"Why are you leaving us here, Robert?" she asked, in a small voice,
most unlike the wilful tone with which she had talked to him in the
canoe.

"My way lies down the street, sweet mistress," said the boy.  "Your
horses, Doctor Jim tells me, are waiting for you at the Blue Boar
yonder.  This has been a wonderful day for me.  When you think of it,
will you try to remember me kindly as one who would ever be your most
devoted, humble servant?"

Delighted by this elaborate courtesy, so rehabilitating to her
self-esteem, Barbara began to feel herself almost herself again.  She
thought, with a sudden prickling heat of shame, of how childish she had
been during all the past year,--and she almost fifteen!  And here was
Robert, who was certainly very grown-up, treating her with a deference
which he would never dream of paying to a mere little girl!  She
resolved to justify his deference, to conceal her pet childishnesses
till time should mature them away; yet even as she registered this
resolve, she registered a vague but deeper one, that she would cling
for ever to every childish taste and pleasure in spite of the very
utmost that time could do.  But the feeling that came uppermost and
found expression was a sharp little pang at something in his words
which sounded as if he were bidding farewell for a long, indefinite
time.

"But I shall see you again soon, sha'n't I, Robert?" she exclaimed,
impulsively.  "You'll come over to Second Westings right away, won't
you, and meet Uncle Bob?"

"Yes," said the boy, bowing low again, and speaking with a mixture of
hesitation and triumph, "I am promising myself that pleasure, Mistress
Barbara, within a very few days.  You see--Doctor Jim--he has been so
kind--"

"To be sure," broke in Doctor Jim, with an emphasis to preclude any
discussion of consistency,--"I've asked the lad over to visit us, John.
Richard's son!--  And his heart's in the right place,--and his head,
too,--eh, what?  We'll see that Mistress Mehitable is not too hard on
him,--eh, what?  You know you're not going to be too hard on the boy
yourself, John Pigeon, for all you've been so uncommonly unpleasant to
him!"

Doctor John chuckled softly, and squeezed Barbara's left hand, which he
had retained while she was receiving Robert's adieux.

"Tut, tut, Jim!  You know well enough we've got to pardon anything in
breeches, young or old, that gets led into mischief by this little limb
o' darkness here.  It's a peck of trouble she's been getting you and me
into, time and time again.  You needn't make excuses for Robert to me,
Jim Pigeon.  At least, not yet!"

"Thank you, sir," said Robert, a little stiffly, not relishing a
pleasantry at Barbara's expense, though Barbara herself had broken into
a peal of gay laughter, flattered at Doctor John's implications, and
comforted to know that Robert was not slipping beyond her reach.
"Thank you, indeed, sir; but I have no excuse; I was fully committed to
Mistress Barbara's venture, and I'm just as much to blame as she is!"

Barbara's heart glowed.  This was the kind of unreasonable championship
she adored.  But truth compelled her to protest.

"Oh, no, no, Robert, not at all!  It wasn't you that ran away from Aunt
Hitty, and took the canoe, and persuaded a nice, civil gentleman whom
you'd never seen before in your life to do a perfectly crazy thing like
you read of in story-books--"  But, as she paused for breath, Doctor
Jim, too impatient to be amused, interrupted her:

"Well, well, Robert, you and Barbara can settle all that between you
some other time.  We must get away.  Good night--good night.  My best
compliments to your honoured grandmother!  And ride over the first day
you can, lad!"

And Doctor John, shaking his head sorrowfully, exclaimed:

"Tut, tut, tut!  How small a petticoat can turn how great a brain!  I
see trouble ahead for you, Bobby!"

"I shall be so glad to see you at my aunt's, Robert!" cried Barbara,
over her shoulder, as they moved up the street toward the Blue Boar and
the waiting horses.  Robert, standing hat in hand, gazed after them
till they were swallowed up in the shadows.  Still he waited, till a
pulse of light across the gloom and the sound of the inn door closing
told him that he was alone under the night.  Then, suddenly, he became
conscious of the lonely, wonderful night sounds, and suddenly the night
perfumes sank into his heart.  The spicy breaths from the clover field
and blossoming thicket, cooled with dew, gave him a strange
intoxication as he drew them into the depths of his lungs.  The pulsing
rhythm of the whippoorwill seemed to time itself to the pulsing of his
heart and translate it to the terms of an impassioned, inarticulate
chant.  The plucked harp-strings sounding from time to time in the
hidden heights of the sky set all his nerves vibrating mystically.
Walking as if in a dream, he came to the door of the cottage where he
had planned to stay the night.  Then he turned on a swift impulse,
hurried back to the landing, launched Barbara's canoe, and, without
consciousness of weariness or hunger, paddled all the way back to Gault
House against the current.



CHAPTER XI.

From Second Westings that morning, after old Debby's alarm, Doctor John
and Doctor Jim had came posthaste on horseback to Westings Landing.
Now, however, it was found that Barbara was quite too worn out by the
fatigues of her long, strenuous day to sit a horse for a ten mile's
ride over rough roads in the dark.  Priding herself not less on her
endurance than on her horsemanship, she vehemently repudiated the
charge that she was done up, and was determined to ride back on the
liveliest of the Blue Boar's horses.  But Doctor John and Doctor Jim,
scanning critically her white face and the dark rims coming about her
eyes, for once agreed in a professional judgment.  They ordered the
horses hitched to the roomy old chaise, which was one of the landlord's
most cherished possessions; and Barbara had to accept, rebelliously
enough, the supineness of a cushioned seat for the free lift and swing
of the saddle.  Before the lighted doorway of the inn was out of sight,
however, she was glad of the decision.  Her overwrought nerves began to
relax under the soothing of the wood scents and the tender summer dark.
In a little while she was asleep in the strong curve of Doctor Jim's
right arm,--so deep asleep that all the ruts and jolts and corduroy
bridges of an old Connecticut back-country road were powerless to
disturb her peace.  When they woke her up, at her aunt's door, she was
so drenched with sleep that she forgot to dread the reckoning.  With
drowsy, dark eyes, and red mouth softly trustful as a baby's, she
bewildered Mistress Ladd by a warm kiss and "I'm sorry, Aunt Hitty!"
and went stumbling off to bed with her basket of sleeping kittens,
oblivious and irresponsible as they.

Mistress Mehitable looked after her with small, stern mouth, but
troubled eyes.  Then she turned half helplessly to her friends, as if
to say, "What can I--what ought I to do?"

Doctor John threw up both big, white hands in mock despair, and his
sympathetic laugh said, "What do you expect?"  But Doctor Jim, more
direct and positive, said, "Best leave her alone till to-morrow,
Mehitable; and then talk to her with no talk of punishing.  She's not
the breed that punishing's good for."

Mistress Mehitable looked sorrowful, but resolute.

"I fear that would not be right, Jim!" she said.  But there was a note
of deep anxiety in her voice.  "People who do wrong ought to be
punished.  Barbara has done very, very wrong!"

Doctor Jim was as near feeling impatient as he could dare to imagine
himself with Mistress Mehitable.

"Nonsense--I mean, dear lady, punishment's not in itself one of our
numerous unpleasant duties.  It's a means to an end, that's all.  In
this case, it just defeats your end.  It's the wrong means altogether.
Therefore--pardon me for saying it to you, Mehitable--it's wrong.  It's
hard enough to manage Barbara, I know, but to punish her, or talk to
her of punishing, makes it harder still, eh, what?"

"Don't let your conscience trouble you, Mehitable," said Doctor John.
"I'm thinking the little maid will manage to get for herself, full
measure and running over, all the punishment that's coming to her.
She's not the kind that punishment overlooks."

Was there a suspicion of criticism in all this?  Could it be that John
Pigeon and Jim Pigeon, her lifelong cavaliers, in whose sight all she
did was wont to seem perfection, whose unswerving homage had been her
stay through many an hour of faintness and misgiving, were now, at
last, beginning to admit doubts?  Two large tears gathered slowly in
the corners of Mistress Mehitable's blue eyes, the resolution fled from
her mouth, and her fine lips quivered girlishly.  She twisted her
shapely little hands in her apron, then regained her self-control with
an effort.

"Dear friends," said she, "I fear I have made a sad failure of the duty
which I so confidently undertook.  I thought I could surely do so much
for her,--could so thoroughly understand Winthrop's child.  But that
foreign woman--that strange blood!  There is the trouble.  That is what
baffles all my efforts.  Oh, perhaps it is partly my fault, too.
Perhaps the child was right in the very singular letter she left for
me, saying--just as if she were a grown woman and had the same rights
as I had--that the trouble was that we could not understand each other!
Oh, I fear I am not the right woman to have the care of Barbara!"

"You are the rightest woman in the world, Mehitable!" thundered Doctor
Jim, in explosive protest against this self-accusation.  "The rightest
woman in the world to have the care of any man, woman, or child that
ever lived."

"Jim Pigeon's right, Mehitable, as he usually is, outside of medicine
and politics," declared Doctor John.  "The little maid will be ready
enough some day, I'll warrant, to acknowledge how lucky she was in
having her Aunt Hitty to care for her.  But here in Second Westings we
are not just at the centre of things exactly, and it may be we get into
ruts, thinking our ways are the only ways.  Shall we try new ways with
this very difficult little maid, Hitty?"

Mistress Mehitable brushed off the tears which had overflowed, and held
out a hand to each of the big brothers.

"You are the best friends a woman ever had," she averred with
conviction; "and if you both disagree with me, I must be wrong.  It
shall be your way to the best of my power.  After you've had the horses
put up, come back here and I'll have a hot bite ready for you.
But--oh, I do wish Winthrop had married among his own people!"

"It is late, dear lady, and you are tired after your anxieties," said
Doctor Jim.  "But, nevertheless, since you are so gracious, we will
soon return,--eh, what, John?--for a bowl of that hot sangaree which
Mehitable's fair hands know how to brew so delicately."

"Don't misunderstand Jim, Mehitable," said Doctor John, as the two
withdrew.  "The comfort of your punch is nothing to us as the comfort
of your presence.  Had you ever consented to make one man happy, how
miserable would you have made others, Mehitable!"

There was deep meaning and an old reproach under Doctor John's tender
raillery; and Mistress Ladd's cheeks flushed as she stood a few moments
motionless, alone in her low-ceiled, wide parlour.  She was convicted
of failure at every point.  Well she knew how happy she might have made
either one of the big-limbed, big-hearted brothers, had she not shrunk
from making the other miserable.  And she had never been able to decide
which was the dearer to her heart; for, though she was apt to turn
first to Jim in any need, or any joy, the thought of pain for John was
ever hard for her to endure.  Her heart was very full as she set about
preparing the brew which they both loved: and before they came she
stole noiselessly up-stairs to the room over the porch, and softly
kissed the dark, unrepentant waves of the sleeping Barbara's hair.



CHAPTER XII.

It was late morning when Barbara awoke--so late that she saw, by the
position of the square of sunshine on the wall beyond her bed, that the
hour for breakfast was over.  Her first vague waking sense was one of
joy to come, which she presently caught and fixed as the knowledge that
her Uncle Bob would soon be with her.  Then a great flood of depression
rolled over her, blotting out the joy, as she remembered that she had
Aunt Hitty yet to reckon with.  To make matters worse, she had slept
past breakfast time,--which was almost an immorality in that punctual
household.  A lump came up in her throat, and tears ached behind her
eyes, for she had meant to try so hard to make up,--and now she had
gone and sinned again.  She shut her eyes tight, and made a determined
effort to regain hold of the sleepiness which still drenched and
clouded her brain.  This effort was too much, and on the instant the
last vestige of her drowsiness cleared away, and her brain grew keen as
flame.  She sat up, determined to face the conflict and get it over.

As she sat up, her eyes fell upon the little table by her bedside,
whereon she was wont to keep her candle, her filagreed bottle of
lavender water, her much marked copy of Sir Philip Sidney's sonnets,
and her Bible, which was thumbed chiefly at Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, and
the Song of Solomon.  Her eyes opened very wide as she saw there
now,--event unprecedented and unbelievable,--a little tray with white
linen napkin.  On the tray were a glass and a jug of milk, a plate of
the seed-cakes which she particularly loved, a big slice of barley
bread, and a bowl of yellow raspberries.  She stared for half a minute,
and rubbed her eyes, and thought.  Abby, certainly, could not have done
it.  She would neither have dared nor cared to.  Then--it was Aunt
Hitty,--and after the way she had treated her,--and after that cold,
hateful letter!  She reached out a doubtful hand and touched the bread
and berries.  She started to eat a seed-cake, but it stuck in her
throat, quite unable to get past a certain strange, aching obstruction,
which had gathered there all at once.  Tears suddenly streamed down her
face; and springing impulsively out of bed, she ran, barefooted and in
her white nightgown, straight to the little bow-windowed sewing-room,
where she knew that at this hour her aunt would be busy with the needle.

Mistress Mehitable had just time to thrust aside her needle and the
fine fabric she was fashioning before Barbara flung herself into her
arms, sobbing passionately.  The good lady's heart warmed in response
to this outburst, and she held Barbara close to her breast, whispering,
"There, there, dearie, we just won't talk about it at all!  We'll just
try hard to understand each other better in the future!"

At the same moment, while her eyes were filling with tears, she could
not help a whimsical thought of what Doctor John would say.  "He would
say,"--she said to herself at the back of her brain,--"'Seed-cakes may
save a soul quicker than switchings, Mehitable!'"  Mistress Mehitable's
earnest mind had no apprehension of humour save as it reached her by
reflection from Doctor John or Doctor Jim.

Presently Barbara found her voice.

"Forgive me, Aunt Hitty, forgive me!" she sobbed.

Mistress Mehitable held her a little closer by way of reply.

"I'm not worth your while, Aunt Hitty--I'm not one bit worth all the
trouble you take for me--I'm nothing but a wretched little reptile,
Aunt Hitty,--and I just wonder you don't hate and despise me!"

"There, there, dear," murmured Mistress Mehitable, patting her hair.
She was sure of her feelings, but could not be quite sure that words
would rightly express them at this crisis.  If she talked, she knew she
might say the wrong thing.  She'd leave it all to Barbara, and be safe
at least for the moment.

"I knew how bad I was," continued Barbara, justifying the statement by
remembrance of some brief and scattered moments of self-questioning.
"I knew how bad I was, but I couldn't say so, and I never, never knew
how lovely you could be, Aunt Hitty!  I was so dreading to see you this
morning,--and then, oh, you just brought me the seed-cakes, and the
yellow raspberries, and never said one word!"

As she dwelt on this magnanimity, Barbara's sobs broke forth afresh.

"There, there, dear," murmured Mistress Mehitable again, and kissed her
tenderly, still refusing to be drawn from her intrenchments, but deeply
rejoicing in the triumph of her new strategy.

"To think--why, I never really knew you till now, Aunt Hitty!" and
Barbara hugged her with swift vehemence.  "When I saw the things by my
bed, and thought of you stealing in and putting them there, and
stealing out without waking me,--oh, Aunt Hitty, I thought such a lot
all in one instant, and I knew you couldn't have done that, after me
being so bad, unless you loved me,--could you?"

"Indeed I couldn't!" answered Mistress Ladd, with conviction.

"And you will really and truly forgive me?" persisted Barbara.

This was a direct challenge, and Mistress Mehitable was too honest not
to come forth and meet it.  She gently pushed Barbara off, and held her
so she could look straight into her fearless young eyes.

"I really and truly forgive you--and love you, Barbara!" she said.
"And"--she continued, with a slight hesitancy, in an instant's resolve
achieving a resolution,--"I ask you to forgive me for my
misunderstandings of you, and all my many mistakes."

"Why, Aunt Hitty!" exclaimed Barbara, too tender in her mood to agree
with these self-accusations, but too honest to contradict.

"I have failed to realise how, being so different from other girls, you
required different treatment from other girls," went on Mistress
Mehitable, firmly abasing herself.  "I thought there was only one right
mould, and I must try to force you into it, however much the effort
should hurt us both, dear.  I have been blind, very blind, and wrong.
In this remote little world of ours, Barbara, we get into ruts, and
come to think that the only way is our way."

Barbara's eyes were glowing with enthusiasm.  She had discovered Aunt
Kitty's heart,--and now she was discovering a breadth and insight which
she could never have believed possible in that competent but seemingly
restricted brain.  If Aunt Hitty could thus lift herself to look beyond
the atmosphere of Second Westings, and to understand people different
from those she had always been used to, she must be a very great woman.
Barbara's eyes flamed with the ardour of her appreciation.  She did not
know what to say, but her expression was eloquent.

"That's a quotation from Doctor John," said the conscientious Mistress
Mehitable, suddenly afraid from Barbara's glowing look that she was
getting more credit than her due.  "But I have become convinced of its
truth."

"How wise and good you are, Aunt Hitty!  I'll never, never
misunderstand you again!" cried Barbara, rashly, breaking down Mistress
Mehitable's guard, and once more hugging her with vehemence.

Mistress Mehitable smiled, gratified but doubtful.  She was surprised
at her own unexpected appreciation of Barbara's demonstrativeness and
warmth, so unlike anything that had ever before invaded the cool sphere
of her experience.  She felt it her duty, however, to qualify Barbara's
extravagant expectations, not realising that what the impetuous girl
intended to express was rather a hope than a conviction.

"We hardly dare expect quite that, dear," she said, gently.  "But at
least we can agree to trust each other's good intentions.  We can
promise that, can't we?"

"Of course, I'll always trust you now, Aunt Hitty, since I've seen your
lovely heart!" exclaimed Barbara, with flattering fervour.

"I have failed to realise," continued Mistress Mehitable, "that you are
no longer a little girl, but very nearly a grown woman.  Many girls are
grown women at your age, Barbara, so that I have decided on something
that will surprise you.  From this time forward, I shift my
responsibility for you largely to your own shoulders, and shall hope to
be more your friend than your guardian.  I hand you over to yourself,
Barbara.  You must learn to discipline yourself!"

Barbara slipped down to the floor, and leaned against her aunt's knee,
her dark, small face grown very thoughtful.

"All I dare say, Aunt Hitty," she said, slowly, weighing her words with
unwonted care, "is that I'll try with all my might.  But I warn you
that you are leaving me in very bad hands.  I want to be good, but
sometimes I can't help being bad!"

"Well," said Mistress Mehitable, with a curious reflex of Doctor John's
humour, "you'll have to punish yourself after this.  I warn you that
you must not look to me for punishment after this!"

Barbara's eyes got very wide, and danced; and she gave a little shriek
of delight, such as that with which she was wont to greet Doctor John's
whimsical sallies.

"Why, Aunt Hitty," she cried, clapping her hands, "you said that just
like Doctor John!"

Mistress Mehitable flushed faintly, and laughed like a girl.  She
stooped over and kissed Barbara fairly on the mouth.  Then she arose
rather hurriedly.

"I have often wished I could make myself in many ways more like those
two great-hearted gentlemen!" she said.

Barbara remained sitting upon the floor.  Her eyes narrowed
thoughtfully as she stared out of the window.

"They are perfectly dear," she agreed, without reservation, "Isn't it
splendid that they love us so, Aunt Hitty?"

"I'm going to the still-room now," said Mistress Mehitable, moving
toward the door.  "I put in the bergamot just before breakfast."

"I'll come and help you in a little while,--dear!" said Barbara,
suddenly realising the changed relations, and suddenly making practical
application of it.  That caressing, equal, half-protecting "dear"
sounded strange to Mistress Mehitable.  It gave her something of a
shock, yet she was not sure she didn't like it.  It made her feel less
alone than of old.  She appeared not to notice it, however, merely
saying before she vanished:

"If I'm not in the still-room, I'll be down the back garden, gathering
herbs.  The lemon-thyme's in flower, if you're going to distill any
more of your 'Maryland Memories.'  Uncle Robert might like a flask of
it."

"Lovely," said Barbara, dreamily.  "We will make him some.  I'll hurry."

But for a few minutes she did not hurry at all.  Her rich, rebellious
hair all down about her vivid face, her thin little shapely feet
peeping out from under the frills of her white nightgown, she sat in
the square of sunshine and pondered.  Since she fled away yesterday
morning, what a change had come about!  She felt as if that wild and
foolish adventure was years behind her.  A certain vague sense of
responsibility oppressed her, a responsibility to herself hitherto
unacknowledged.  She made the momentous resolve that she would learn to
know herself a little, as a step to enabling other people, Robert Gault
and Aunt Hitty in particular, to understand her.  She got up and
scrutinised herself keenly in the glass.

"You didn't know you were getting so grown up, did you, you ugly,
skinny, little black thing!" she muttered.

Then she flitted back to her own room, poured out a dish of milk for
the hungry kittens, and snatched at her breakfast by mouthfuls, while
she made her toilet and dressed.  Last of all, before going to join
Mistress Mehitable, she sat down on the edge of her bed, and took the
kittens into her lap.  One by one she held up their round, pinky-nosed
faces, and gazed seriously into their enigmatic young eyes.

"I want you to remember, now, my babies," said she, insisting upon
their unwilling attention, "that your missis is now most grow'd
up--she's grow'd up in one night, like old Mr. Jonah's gourd.  I want
you to remember that we mustn't be silly and childish any more, except
just in private, and where we can't help it.  And I want you to
remember that you mustn't try to coax your missis into mischief any
more like you did yesterday, going and helping her run off with the
canoe, and such foolishnesses.  And I want you to remember that after
this, if we can think of it, it isn't going to be 'Aunt Hitty' this,
and 'Aunt Hitty' that, all the time,--but 'dear,' and 'honey' (as we
used to say in Maryland), and 'blue-eyed lady,' and 'small person,'
because we're just as tall as she is,--and we're too big to be punished
any more, if we are bad,--and Uncle Bob's coming next week,--and Robert
Gault may come any day, if he's impatient!"

With a face of unwonted sobriety, but dancing lights in her eyes, she
went to the door.  With her hand on the latch she changed her mind.
Rushing to her glass, with a few deft touches she changed the
arrangement of her hair, heaping it over her ears, and leaving just one
crinkly curl to hang down over her left shoulder.

The change added years to her appearance.  Then, snatching up a pair of
scissors, she swiftly ripped out a deep tuck in her frock, letting the
skirt down a good three inches.  With vigorous brushings and assiduous
pattings she smoothed out the crease so that it was not obtrusive; and
severely checking her wonted rush and skip, she went to join Aunt Hitty
in the fragrant mysteries of the still-room.



CHAPTER XIII.

To both Mistress Mehitable and Barbara the new order of things proved
itself, all through that first day, supremely satisfactory; and each
vowed most solemnly in her heart that she, at least, would not be the
one to blame if it did not last.  During the afternoon, when Doctor
John and Doctor Jim were drinking a pot of tea with them, and wondering
delightedly at the unexpected atmosphere of peace, Barbara asked,
suddenly:

"How did you ever manage, Aunt Hitty, to get Doctor John and Doctor Jim
off after me so quickly.  I thought I had _such_ a good start!  And how
_did_ you know which way I was going?"

Both men looked meaningly at Mistress Mehitable, but failed to catch
her eye.  Doctor Jim began to shake his head violently, but stopped in
confusion under Barbara's look of questioning astonishment.  But
Mistress Mehitable, serenely unconscious, answered at once:

"Old Debby Blue," said she, "with whom you breakfasted, rode over as
fast as she could to Doctor Jim with the news.  The poor old woman was
nearly dead from her exertions, I think you told me, Jim.  She has a
good heart, and truly loves you, Barbara.  I am sorry if I have seemed
harsh to her at times."

Barbara's eyes grew wide, her face darkened ominously, and her full,
bowed lips drew together to a straight line of scarlet.  Doctor John
sat up straight, with twinkling eyes, expecting the outbreak of a
characteristic Barbara storm, such as he always enjoyed in his big, dry
way.  But Doctor Jim made haste to interpose.

"You mustn't be too hard on Debby, Barbara, because she told what she
had promised not to tell.  What else _could_ she do?  You know well
enough she couldn't stop you herself, you headstrong baggage.  I won't
have you unfair to Debby.  She loves you, and nearly killed herself to
save you!"

Barbara's look of anger changed to a sort of obstinate sullenness for
an instant.  Then with an effort she forced herself to smile, while
tears sprang into her eyes.

"Of course, Debby was right," she acknowledged.  "But I wish she'd done
it some other way.  She shouldn't have let me trust her.  She _fooled_
me when I trusted her.  Oh, I'll _forgive_ her, of course," she
continued, bitterly, "but never, never, will I _trust_ her again!"
Then she sprang up impetuously, and ran and flung both arms around
Mistress Mehitable.  "_Of course_ I'd forgive her, anyway, because if
she hadn't fooled me I might have never found out how lovely you
were,--honey!"

Both Doctor John and Doctor Jim were breathless with amazement for a
moment.  What was this miracle?  Whence came this understanding and
this sympathy, all in a night?  They saw a new glad warmth in Mistress
Mehitable's eyes.  They exchanged significant glances.

"All I can say, Barbara," growled Doctor Jim, at length, "is that
you've been a long while finding out what ought to have been as plain
as the nose on your face,--eh, what?"

"For a young lady who was able to discern at first glance the
fascinations of Jim Pigeon," chimed in Doctor John, "I think you have
been rather undiscriminating, Barbara!"

"She could see two battered old tallow dips, when she couldn't see the
moon!" added Doctor Jim, solemnly.

There was always a relish of peril in rallying Barbara, whose audacity
in retort was one of the scandals of Second Westings.  She flashed her
white teeth upon them in a naughty smile, and her eyes danced as she
kissed Mistress Mehitable on both cheeks.

"Of _course_," she cried.  "Nobody knows better than you two great big
dears what a perfect little fool I've been, not to be in love with Aunt
Hitty all this time."

"Barbara!" protested Mistress Mehitable, in a tone of rebuke,--and then
again, bethinking herself, "Barbara, child!" in a tone of appeal.

"But now, you can tell a hawk from a handsaw, eh, baggage?" chuckled
Doctor John; while Doctor Jim exploded noisily, and then, checking
himself, cast upon Mistress Mehitable a glance of apprehension.

But Barbara had heeded neither the rebuke nor the appeal.

"I know, I know," she went on, clapping her hands with delight.  "You
didn't _want_ me to find her out,--you didn't want me to know how
lovely she is!  Conspirators!  I won't love you any more, either of
you.  And I'm going to keep Aunt Hitty all to myself here; and not let
you even _see_ her; and make you both so jealous you'll wish you had
let me run away in the canoe and get drowned in the rapids."

"Barbara, Barbara," murmured Mehitable.

Doctor Jim wagged his great head, and growled inarticulately.

"It's we who are the victims of conspiracy, John," said he.  "If
Mehitable and Barbara have discovered each other, what becomes of us,
I'd like to know!  But it sha'n't last.  We'll sow seeds of dissension
presently,--eh, what?"

"Just let us wait till Bobby Gault comes!" suggested Doctor John, with
gentle malice.

Barbara's face grew grave on the instant.

"Of course, Aunt Hitty, they have told you all about Robert," she said,
earnestly, "but all they know about his reasons is what he told them
himself, you know.  And he was determined to shield me, of course.  But
it was _all_ my fault.  How could he know how bad and foolish I was?  I
just mixed him all up; and it makes me ashamed to think how horrid I
was; and I will never forgive myself.  But you mustn't let them
prejudice you against Robert, honey,--but just wait and see what you
think of him yourself, won't you, please?"

Mistress Mehitable smiled, and exchanged looks with Doctor John and
Doctor Jim.

"Really, dear," said she, "they have not given me any very bad
impressions of Robert.  I think both Doctor John and Doctor Jim knew
where to put the blame.  And _I_ know, too!"

Barbara looked at her doubtfully.  Such complete acceptance of her
position almost seemed unkind and critical.  But her aunt's smile
reassured her.  This was not criticism, but something as near raillery
as Mistress Mehitable would permit herself.

"I believe they have been abusing me behind my back,--and they
pretending to love me!" cried Barbara, tossing her head in saucy
challenge.

"Never, child; we hug our delusions, Jim Pigeon and I," said Doctor
John.

"No, hug me," laughed Barbara, darting around the tea-table and seating
herself on his lap.

"You are our worst delusion, baggage!" said Doctor Jim, shaking a large
finger at her.  "And now I see you're setting out to delude your poor
aunt, after making life a burden to her for two years.  And poor Bobby
Gault,--he'll find you a delusion and a snare!"

"I think you are unkind, even if you are just in fun," protested
Barbara, half offended, half amused.  But at this moment both men rose
to go.  Doctor John, as he raised his towering bulk from the chair,
lifted Barbara with him as if she had been a baby, held her in his arms
for a moment while he peered lovingly and quizzically into her swiftly
clearing face, gave her a resounding kiss, and set her on her feet.

"Bless the child!" said Doctor Jim, noticing now for the first time the
change in appearance.  "What's become of our little Barbara?  How she's
grown up over night!"

"And how her petticoats have grown down!" added Doctor John, backing
off to survey her critically.  "Tut, tut, the wanton hussy!  How did
she dare to kiss me!  Goodness gracious!  To think I had a young woman
like that sitting on my lap!"

"You had better be careful what you say, Doctor John," retorted
Barbara, firmly, "or I _will_ be grown up, and never kiss you or let
you hold me on your lap any more!"

"I humbly crave your pardon, gracious fair.  I am your most devoted,
humble servant!" said Doctor John, setting his heels together at a
precise right angle, and bowing profoundly over her hand till his
brocaded coat-tails stuck out stiffly behind him.

Barbara rather liked this hand-kissing, after Robert's initiation, and
took it with composure as her due.  Why should she not have her hand
kissed, as well as Aunt Hitty?  But Doctor Jim made his farewell in
different fashion.

"I won't have her grow up this way!" he growled, snatching her up and
holding her as if he feared she would be taken away from him.  "She's
just our little Barby, our little, thorny brier-rose!  Eh--what?"

"Our _barby_ brier-rose, you mean!" interjected Doctor John, with a
chuckle.

But every one ignored this poor witticism, and Doctor Jim continued,
while Barbara softly kicked her toes against his waistcoat.  "It would
break my heart to have her grown up, and young missish, and prim.  What
have you done to her, Mehitable?"

Mistress Mehitable gave a clear little ripple of laughter, flute-like
and fresh.  She was feeling younger and gayer than she had felt for
years.

"I have just tried to carry out your own suggestion, Jim!" said she,
cheerfully.  "I must say, I think it was a very wise suggestion.  I
have handed Barbara over to her own care, that's all.  I am sorry you
don't like the results!"

"Don't worry, Doctor Jim!" cried Barbara, purchasing her release by
kissing him hard on both cheeks.  "Don't worry about me being changed.
I was _born_ bad, you know.  And I'm afraid I'll be just as bad as ever
by to-morrow--except to Aunt Hitty!  If I'm bad to you any more,
dear,"--and she turned impetuously to Mistress Mehitable,
"I'll--I'll--" and feeling a sudden imperious threat of tears, she fled
away to her own room.  It had been a wonderful, wonderful day for her,
and she felt that she must have a little cry at once.  On her white bed
she wept deliciously.  Then she thought, and thought, and thought, and
made resolves, in sympathetic communion with her pillow.

In the parlour below, Doctor Jim had said, before leaving:

"I think you are going to get a lot of comfort out of her now,
Mehitable, eh, what?"

And Doctor John, troubled by a maudlin kind of moisture about his eyes,
had said nothing.

And Mistress Mehitable had said, fervently:

"I hope she is going to get a lot of comfort out of me, Jim.  I see
that I have been greatly in the wrong!"



CHAPTER XIV.

All the next morning Mistress Mehitable and Barbara were busy
overhauling Barbara's frocks.  Such as would admit of it were let down
some three or four inches.  Of the others, two of rich material were
laid away in Mistress Mehitable's huge carved oak chest lined with
cedar, a repository of varied treasures of the loom.  The rest, three
in number and plain of weave, were set aside to be given to Mercy
Chapman.  There was much important planning, much interesting
consultation; and in this feminine intimacy they grew ever closer to
each other, throwing off the watchful self-consciousness, the sense of
admiring and reciprocal discovery, which made them more happy than at
ease in each other's company.

Early in the afternoon Barbara decided she would go out to her
favourite apple-tree in the back garden and read.  She openly took down
the second volume of "Clarissa Harlowe,"--having already got through
the first volume in surreptitious moments.  Mistress Mehitable
discreetly, but with difficulty and some soul-questioning, refrained
from admonition.  Barbara felt in her heart a faint quaver of
trepidation, as she thus frankly assumed her independence; but she had
the full courage of her convictions, and outwardly she was calm.

"Mr. Richardson does not seem to me a very strong writer," she remarked
at the door,--"especially after one has read those wonderful plays of
Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Ben Jonson, as I did at home in Maryland!  But
every one should know 'Clarissa,' shouldn't they, dear?"

Mistress Mehitable gasped.  She, too, had read those wonderful plays of
Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Ben Jonson.  But she was thoroughbred, and gave
no sign of her dismay.

"I never liked the lady, myself, dear," she answered, casually.  "She
always seemed to me rather silly."

This was Barbara's own judgment, and confirmed her new appreciation of
her aunt's intelligence.  At the same time, this apparently easy
acceptance, on Mistress Mehitable's part, of Barbara's emancipation,
seemed almost too good to be true.  Her heart swelled passionately
toward this blue-eyed, calm, patrician little woman, whom she had so
long misunderstood.  She came back, put a caressing arm around Mistress
Mehitable's waist, kissed her fervently, and looked deep into her eyes.
Mistress Mehitable actually trembled in the recesses of her soul lest
that searching gaze should discover what she had nearly said about
young girls and novel-reading!  But she kept the blue deeps of her eyes
clear and tranquil, and her lips smiled frank response.

"Oh, you are so good and wonderful and wise, honey," Barbara said, at
length.  "What a foolish, foolish child I've been,--and you, my dear,
dear father's sister!  Why, just to look at you ought to have brought
me to my senses.  So _many_ ways you look like him!"

Then a thing very remarkable indeed took place.  Mistress Mehitable's
fine poise wavered and vanished.  She almost clutched Barbara to her
breast, then buried her head on the firm young shoulders and cried a
little quite unrestrainedly, feeling a great ache in her heart for her
dead brother Winthrop, and a great love in her heart for her dead
brother's child.  Barbara was surprised, but greatly touched by this
outburst.  She held her close, and patted her hair, and called her soft
names suddenly remembered from the soft-voiced endearments of
plantation days; till presently Mistress Mehitable recovered, and
laughed gently through her tears.

"Don't think me silly, dear," she pleaded, "but I've just realised for
the first time that you have your dear father's wonderful eyes.  Your
colouring, and your hair, and your mouth, are all very different from
his.  But your eyes,--they are his _exactly_.  Such wonderful, deep,
clear, _true_ eyes, Barbara, sometimes sea-gray, sometimes sea-green.
Where have my eyes been all this time?"

Barbara sighed happily.  "Isn't it lovely we have found each other at
last, Aunt Hitty?  I don't think it will be so hard now for me to be
good!"

Then she picked up "Clarissa" again, and ran gaily out to the garden.

Barbara's apple-tree had three great limbs branching out at about five
feet from the ground, forming a most luxurious crotch in which to sit
and read.  Smaller apple-trees, interspersed with tangled shrubbery and
some trellised vines, almost surrounded it, so that on three sides it
afforded perfect seclusion.  Sweet airs breathed through it, from the
neighbouring thyme and mint beds; and sunshine sifted down through its
leaves in an intricate and exquisite pattern; and a pair of catbirds,
nesting in the shrubs close by, made it their haunt without regard to
Barbara's presence.  As she looked at this dear nook, with all its
memories of intimate hours and dreams, Barbara thought to herself how
glad she was that she had not succeeded in running away from Second
Westings.  She clambered cleverly into the tree, settled herself with a
long breath of satisfaction, swung her little scarlet-shod feet idly
too and fro, and made a long, absorbing survey of her green realm.
Then, locking her ankles lithely as only a slim girl can, she opened
her book, and was soon engrossed in the fortunes of Lovelace and
Clarissa.

About the time that Barbara was settling herself in the apple-tree,
Robert Gault was triumphantly pushing Barbara's canoe to land through
the gold-green sedges on the Second Westings shore of the little lake.
With pole and paddle he had made the ascent of the stream from Gault
House, having been seized that morning with a violent conviction that
it was his duty to return the canoe without delay.  He had poled
through the rapids, and paddled eagerly through the silent solemnities
of the woods, too intent upon his purpose to be alive to their mystic
influences.  The furtive eyes that watched him from pine-tree boll and
ironwood bush, from skyey branch or moss-veiled root, touched not his
consciousness.  To his self-centred mood the peopled stillness was
empty as a desert.  His eyes, at other times alert and not uninitiated,
were turned inward upon his own dreams.  He emerged from the great
shadows, paddled through the meadowy windings with their iris-beds and
lilies, and passed at length old Debby's clamorous dooryard, giving
hardly a glance to the green slope with its ducks and fowls, the little
red-doored cabin against its trees, or old Debby herself, with the
cock-eared yellow pup beside her, sitting on the stoop.  He was in a
hurry, and had caught glimpses of the open waters of the lake beyond;
and he knew from Barbara's description that Mistress Mehitable's
landing-place was straight across the lake.

But old Debby, sitting knitting in the sun with the cock-eared yellow
pup beside her, saw him, and chuckled at his haste.  She had been over
to Second Westings the day before, and had got the whole story from
Doctor Jim.  She had made up her mind to keep well out of the way, till
Barbara's indignation should have time to cool; but she was mightily
interested in the youth who had been so readily persuaded to the
backing of Barbara's mad venture.  A moment later she made up her mind
that she must have a good look at him, a word with him if possible.
She got up and hobbled actively down to the shore; but Robert's haste
had carried him already beyond earshot.

Following the path up from the lake-shore, Robert crossed the
cow-pasture and climbed the bars back of the barn.  Here he was met and
challenged by Keep, the mastiff, who, with the discernment of a
well-bred dog, appreciated Robert's good clothes, nosed his hand
cordially, and let him pass without protest.  Keep knew a gentleman at
a glance, and was convinced that good manners meant good morals.  He
had no fear of Robert setting fire to the barn.

Seeking a way to the front of the house, Robert passed through the
wicket leading into the back garden.  Suddenly, between the tall clumps
of hollyhocks, he stopped short, and his heart gave a queer little
sliding leap.  His breath came quick and light, in a way that greatly
perplexed him.  What he saw to so disturb him was a pair of little
scarlet shoes, two small ankles, and a few inches of slim, shapely silk
stockings, lithely intertwined, and vividly in evidence beneath a
screen of apple-leaves.

Robert did not need any one to tell him that the rest of the
bewildering picture, hidden behind the screen of apple-leaves, was the
small, inspiring lady, Mistress Barbara Ladd.  He hesitated, and was
almost on the point of slipping away,--he knew not why, for the life of
him.  Then, recovering a part of his composure, he stepped forward in
trepidation, hat in hand, forgot the graceful speeches on which he was
wont to pride himself, and stammered--"Mistress Barbara!--I beg your
pardon!"

The slim ankles unlocked, "Clarissa" fell upon the grass, and lightly
as a bird Barbara sprang down from her perch, unconscious,
unembarrassed, gracious in her greetings.  She smiled him radiant
welcome, frankly pleased, and held out her hand to be kissed.

"Why, how did you come?" she cried, gaily, "stealing in this way
through the back premises?"

"By water, dear lady," he answered, still stammering.  "I brought back
the canoe, you know!"

"By my dear river, and through the great, still woods!" she exclaimed,
looking him over with clear eyes of approval.  "How lovely!  I wish I'd
been with you!"

"I wish you had!" said Robert, with devout conviction.

"But how tired you must be, all that journey against the current.
Really, Robert, it was _very_ nice of you to come so soon!"

Now Robert was in a sad state of bewilderment, dazzled by eyes and lips
and scarlet shoes.  And he was further shaken from his customary poise
by his perception of Barbara's change in the arrangement of her hair,
and by what seemed a sudden increase in her stature through the
lengthening of her frocks.  Otherwise he would not have been so stupid
as to imagine that the promptitude of his coming called for any apology
in Barbara's eyes, whatever might be the opinion of Doctor John, or
Doctor Jim, or Mistress Mehitable Ladd!

"I thought I ought to come at once, you know," he explained, "to bring
back the canoe!  Otherwise I should have waited, as I ought, for Mr.
Glenowen's coming, and an invitation from him."

"Oh!" said Barbara, her face changing slightly, her voice growing a
little cooler.  "That was very thoughtful of you.  I couldn't sleep for
thinking of the canoe!"

Robert looked at her doubtfully, wondering if that were sarcasm in her
voice.

"It's a dear canoe.  I love it!" said he.

"I wonder you did not want to keep it a little longer, then,--at least,
till Uncle Bob could come and send you a proper, formal invitation to
bring it back!" said Barbara.

"But I wanted to bring it back now,--I thought it was such a good
excuse for coming at once, though I knew I _ought_ to have waited for
the invitation, of course," persisted Robert, vaguely worried.

"Oh!" exclaimed Barbara, again, allowing herself to be mollified in
part, but still feeling a shade of disappointment.  She was too
inexperienced to appreciate the tribute of Robert's confusion and
unexpected awkwardness.  She liked him so much better in his grand,
elaborate, self-possessed manner, paying stately compliments, making
her feel important and grown-up by formal homage.  However, he
certainly was very nice, and he certainly looked very distinguished;
and she realised that, for all his apparent solicitude about returning
the canoe, the canoe was not his reason for coming so soon.  She would
forgive him,--but she would punish him!  In fact, she was making
progress in the arts of the imperishable feminine.

"Well, we shall _all_ be glad to see you, Robert," she said.  "And now
you must go straight to Doctor Jim, who did invite you, as you seem to
have forgotten!  You go through that white gate, over there, and turn
to the left, and then the first turn to the right puts you right on the
main street.  You're almost at Doctor Jim's then,--any one will point
it out to you."

"But,--I didn't come to see Doctor Jim," protested Robert, much taken
aback.  "I came to bring back the canoe, you know!"

"Of course, I understand!" said Barbara, sweetly.  "Tell Doctor Jim and
Doctor John that I want them to bring you back here presently, in an
hour or two, to present you to Aunt Hitty, and have tea with us!"

"But can't I stay a _little_ while _now_,--while no one knows I am here
at all?" pleaded Robert.

Ordinarily, this was just what would have seemed reasonable and
delightful to Barbara.  But just now it pleased her to discipline the
boy.

"Decidedly _not_, Robert!" said she.  "You know how careful you are
about etiquette,--so troubled over the idea of coming here at all on
the mere invitation of mere me!  You shall not talk to me any more till
you have been properly presented to Aunt Hitty!  Besides, I am just at
a _most_ interesting place in this lovely book,"--and she snatched
'Clarissa' up from the grass, where it had lain forgotten since
Robert's appearance,--"and I can't really take my mind off it till I
find out what is going to happen.  I will see you in the house, with
Aunt Hitty, in--let me see--about an hour and a half!  Now go right
away!"

Robert looked very miserable, but bowed submission, and backed off.

"How will Mistress Ladd receive me?" he asked, doubtfully.

"Oh," replied Barbara, one small brown hand on the apple-tree as she
waited for Robert to depart ere she climbed back to her nook, "Aunt
Hitty is just perfect.  She will be very nice to you, and will quite
approve of you, I know.  Since everything has turned out for the best,
she has already forgiven you for leading her young niece into mischief
the way you did!"

Robert stared at her in speechless amazement.  But Barbara would not
let him ask any more questions.  With a mocking little grimace at his
confusion, she pointed to the white gate.

"Go away immediately!" she commanded.  "And be sure you come back in an
hour and a half!"

Robert turned and strode off with an aggrieved air, between the
hollyhock rows.  When he was half way to the gate, Barbara, who had
stood looking after him with a smile on her lips, called imperiously:

"Robert!"

He turned quickly, and snatched off his hat.

"What is it, my lady?"

"You forgot to help me into my tree!" said Barbara.

He was beside her in an instant, his face brightening.  He knelt on one
knee, and held out his two hands firmly locked, to form a sort of
stirrup.  Setting one light foot into this support, Barbara sprang up
and in a flash was perched gracefully in her niche.  It was done with
such swiftness that Robert had hardly time to realise her foot had
touched him.  She laughed down upon him with gay commendation.

"That was very handsomely done, indeed, Robert!" she declared.  "Now
hurry right away to Doctor Jim, or you'll never manage to get back in
one hour and a half!"  And she buried her eyes in the first page at
which "Clarissa" chanced to open.

Robert hesitated, opened his lips as if to speak, and went without a
word.  Barbara, watching him from the corner of her eye, was puzzled at
the look upon his face, but felt satisfied that it was not displeasure.
About half-way up the walk toward the gate, when he believed himself
unobserved, Robert gazed curiously at the palms wherein the little foot
had rested for that fraction of a heart-beat.  Light as was the touch,
it had left a subtle tingling behind it.  He pressed the place to his
lips.  This action astonished Barbara, but greatly interested her, and
gave her, at the same time, an inexplicable thrill.  Her heart
understood it, indeed, while it remained an enigma to her brain.  And
purposeless, profitless, absurd though it seemed to her, that Robert
should kiss his own hand, she decided nevertheless that in some way the
action had expressed a more fervent homage to her than when the hand
that he kissed was hers.  She forgot to go on reading the excellent Mr.
Richardson's romance.



CHAPTER XV.

Mistress Mehitable liked Robert, whose bearing and breeding were in all
ways much to her taste.  She had seen him when a babe in arms, just
before his father and mother had taken him away from Gault House to New
York.  So gracious was she, that Robert was filled with wonder as he
thought of the piteous story which Barbara had told him in the canoe.
But this wonder was as nothing, compared to the amazement with which he
viewed the warm affection between Barbara and her aunt.  What could it
all mean?  It was plain that they two understood each other, trusted
each other, admired each other, loved each other.  He had an uneasy
feeling that Barbara had made a fool of him.  Then, as his dignity was
beginning to feel ruffled, and his grave young face to darken, he would
remember other details of that eventful afternoon which forbade him to
question the girl's sincerity.  At this the cloud would lift.  There
was a mystery behind it all, of course, which he would doubtless, in
his determined fashion, succeed in penetrating.  Meanwhile, every one
seemed extremely happy,--Barbara gaily, whimsically gracious, Mistress
Mehitable composedly glad, Doctor Jim as boisterous in his joy as good
manners would permit, Doctor John quizzically approving, and filled
with mellow mirth.  Robert was made to feel himself an honoured guest,
for his own sake as well as for the sake of his parents; and in this
cordial atmosphere he soon justified all good opinions.  Barbara was
intensely gratified with him.  She audaciously claimed credit for
having discovered him, and rescued him from the barbaric wilderness
that lay beyond Second Westings.  She began to plan expeditions and
amusements to make his visit memorable; and when he announced his
intention of returning to Gault House on the morrow, there was a
unanimous protest.  Mistress Mehitable said it was not to be heard of,
for one moment.  Doctor Jim growled that his hospitality was not to be
flouted in any such fashion.  Doctor John levelled bushy eyebrows at
him, and suggested that no true Gault would run away in the hour of
triumph.

"You will do nothing of the kind, Robert," decreed Barbara, with
finality.  "We want you here.  I wonder you are not ashamed, after all
the trouble you made for us so lately, when you were old enough and big
enough to know better!"

Robert's face flushed with pleasure at all this warmth; and he hugely
wanted to stay.  But with astonishing discretion he refused to be
persuaded.  Some intuition taught him the wisdom of timely reserve.
Without at all formulating any theory on the subject, which would have
been impossible to such inexperience as his, he felt instinctively that
at this moment, when she was most gracious to him, a judicious absence
would best fix him in Barbara's interest.  He said there were matters
to be attended to for his grandmother which would not well bear delay.
At this unexpected firmness on the part of her cavalier, Barbara was so
annoyed that for nearly an hour she seemed to forget his existence; but
Robert hid his discomfort under an easy cheerfulness, and no one else
seemed to notice the passing shadow.  Mistress Mehitable insisted that
the guests should stay to sup with her and Barbara; and the boy's
coming was made a little festival.  Mistress Mehitable was one of those
notable housekeepers who seem to accomplish great things with little
effort by being craftily forehanded.  Before anything was said of
supper she had vanished for a few minutes to the kitchen; and in those
few minutes she had planned with Abby for a repast worthy the event.
The larder of the Ladd homestead was kept victualled beyond peril of
any surprise; and Mistress Mehitable, for all her ethereal mould and
mien, believed in the efficacy of good eating and good drinking.  Well
regulated lives, she held, should also be well nourished, and her
Puritan conscience was not illiberal in regard to the seemly pleasures
of the board.

Both Doctor John and Doctor Jim, as befitted their stature, were
valiant trenchermen; and Robert was a boy; and the lavish delicacies of
Abby's serving met with that reception which was the best tribute to
their worth.  Gaiety made herself handmaid to appetite; and the ale was
nutty-mellow from last October; and Mistress Mehitable's old Madeira
wine, of which herself partook but sparingly, was fiery-pungent on the
tongue.  As she toasted him, and her blue eyes sparkled upon him over
the glass, Robert wondered anew how Barbara could have wanted to run
away from so admirable an aunt.  As for Barbara, reduced for a little
to silence by supreme content, she sipped at her Angelica cordial,
surveyed Mistress Mehitable with grateful ardour, and took it all as
largess to herself.

At last, with a happy sigh, she cried, "Oh, if only Uncle Bob could
have come in time for this!"  And so electric with sympathy was the air
that on the word every eye turned and glanced at the door, as if
expecting that a wish so well-timed might bring fruition on the
instant.  There was silence for some seconds.

Then Mistress Mehitable said, "He will be here in a very few days,
dear!  And then you, Robert, must come to us again without delay.  I
agree with Barbara that nothing I can think of except Mr. Glenowen's
presence could add to our happiness to-night!"

After supper there was music in the candle-lit drawing-room, Mistress
Mehitable having a rare gift for the harpsichord, and Doctor Jim a nice
art in the rendering of certain old English ballads of the robuster
sort.  Where they might have seemed to the ladies' ears a trifle more
robust than nice, Doctor Jim had fined them down to a fitting delicacy.
But they suited his rolling bass, and he loved them because, being
Cavalier-born, they appealed to his king-loving sympathies.  Doctor Jim
was an exemplary Congregationalist, but solely by force of environment,
Congregationalism being the creed of all the gentry of that region.
Episcopalianism he looked upon with a distrust mingled with affection;
but in all other respects he was a king's man, through and through, an
aristocrat, and a good-natured scorner of the masses.  It was a
stupendous triumph for accident and atmosphere to have succeeded in
fitting Doctor Jim to his inherited environment of Second Westings.
His Congregationalism was a thing that might conceivably be changed to
meet changed conditions; while his Toryism was bred in the bone.  With
Mistress Mehitable, on the other hand, her Congregationalism was
deep-rooted, a matter of conscience.  It was by conscience, too, no
less than by blood, that she was an aristocrat.  She was a royalist, a
Tory, no less unquestioning than Doctor Jim, but this by a chance
election of that strenuous conscience which, by a different chance
twist, would have made her an equally sincere Whig.

When Doctor Jim had sung till Doctor John told him he was getting
hoarse and spoiling his voice, Barbara, in a burst of daring, started
up a wild plantation song, patting her accompaniment.  To Mistress
Mehitable, as to Robert, this was an undreamed novelty, and their eyes
opened wide in wonder.  At first they thought it barbarous, but in a
few minutes the piquing rhythms and irresponsible cadences caught them,
and they listened in rapture.  Barbara's store of these songs was a
rich one, and she had perfected the rendering in many a secret
performance to the audience of Doctor John and Doctor Jim.  When she
was quite sure of the effect she was producing, she sprang to her feet,
flung her hair loose by a quick movement of both hands, and began to
dance as she sang.  And now, to the ever-growing amazement of Mistress
Mehitable, Doctor Jim took up the patting, while Doctor John, seating
himself at the harpsichord, began a strange staccato picking of the
keys.  Then Barbara stopped singing, and gave herself up wholly to the
dance.  She danced with arms and hands and head and feet, and every
slender curve of her young body.  She moved like flames.  Her eyes and
lips and teeth were a radiance through the live, streaming darknesses
of her hair.  Light, swift, unerring, ecstatic, it was like the most
impassioned of bird-songs translated into terms of pure motion.  Doctor
John played faster and faster his wild, monotonous melody.  Doctor Jim
patted harder and harder.  Barbara's dance grew madder and stranger,
till at last, with a little breathless cry that was half a sob, she
stopped, darted across the room, flung herself down, and buried her
dishevelled head in Mistress Mehitable's lap.

On ordinary occasions Mistress Mehitable would have felt inclined to
hold that anything so extraordinary, so utterly outside the range of
all conceptions, and at the same time so very beautiful, must be wrong.
Now, however, she was under the spell of Barbara and under the spell of
the whole situation.  "I cannot see any possible harm in it!" she said
to herself.  And to Barbara she said, tenderly and deftly arranging the
disordered locks:

"Most beautiful, and most singular, dear.  I suppose that is your
_dance_ of 'Maryland Memories,' is it not?  It seems to me not only
amazingly beautiful, but as if it might be the most wholesome and
desirable of exercises."

Barbara gurgled a gasping laugh from the depths of Mistress Mehitable's
taffeta.  It had never occurred to her that these mad negro dances, in
which she found expression for so much in herself which she did not
understand, could be regarded in the light of exercise.  But she was
glad indeed if they could be so regarded by Aunt Hitty.

"Oh, yes, honey," she agreed, in haste.  "I'm _sure_ it's wholesome;
and I _know_ it's _desirable_,--isn't it?"

This appeal was to every one, but it was Robert, at last awaking from
his rapture and finding breath, who answered:

"There was never anything else so wonderful in all the world," he said,
solemnly.

Doctor John and Doctor Jim, with one impulse, jumped up, each seized
one of Barbara's hands, and plucked her to her feet.  They then stood
hand in hand in a row before Mistress Mehitable and Robert, bowing
their thanks for such appreciation of their poor efforts to please.

"We are going to London to perform before the king!" declared Doctor
Jim.

Mistress Mehitable gravely took a shilling from her purse, and bestowed
it upon Doctor John because he was the tallest.  He pretended to spit
on it, for luck, but kissed it instead, and slipped it into the bosom
of his ruffled shirt.  When the approving laughter had subsided,
Mistress Mehitable said, musingly:

"I see now how you have been teaching Barbara her Latin.  It was that
peculiar dialect of Latin that prevails in Maryland!"

After this a sack posset was mixed by Mistress Mehitable, with the
eager assistance of every one but Robert, who was still too much
possessed by Barbara's dancing to do more than stand about and get in
the way, and smile a gravely fatuous smile whenever spoken to.

When the posset began to go around, calling forth encomiums at every
sip, Doctor Jim demanded the cards.  There was silence.  To Robert,
just from the Tory circles of New York, it seemed the most natural
thing in the world.  To Barbara it seemed natural, but foreign to
Mistress Mehitable and Second Westings.  To Doctor John it seemed right
and desirable, but he chuckled and said nothing, being aware of
Mistress Mehitable's views.  And this time Mistress Mehitable was firm.

"No, Jim," said she, "we won't play.  I know good people do
play,--people who know just as well as I do what is right and what is
wrong.  But for some reason card-playing does not seem right to me.
You know Doctor Sawyer would strongly disapprove!"

"Officially, that's all, dear lady!" corrected Doctor John.

"But you have them in the house,--yonder in that very drawer, most
gracious mistress!" persisted Doctor Jim.

"My dear father used them," confessed Mistress Mehitable.  "Therefore I
would not for a moment think of refusing to have them in my house.  But
I think it is better not to play, Jim."

And though Mistress Mehitable spoke with appeal and apology rather than
with decision, the matter was plainly settled.  There was nothing to do
but tell riddles and drink up the rest of the posset.  The pervading
satisfaction was in no way checked by Doctor Jim's failure, for all
agreed that cards were stupid anyway.  Barbara, in spite of her
excitement, and to her intense self-disgust, began to grow sleepy.  She
was horribly afraid she might show it, which, for one but forty-eight
hours grown-up, would have been humiliating beyond words.  She felt
herself divided between a fear lest so perfect an evening should end
too soon, and an equally harassing fear lest it should end not soon
enough.  At length the keen and loving eyes of Doctor John discerned
her trouble; and at the dissolute hour of half-past ten he broke up the
party.  Adieux were made with a warmth, an abandon of homage held in
fetters of elaborate courtliness, which might have seemed excessive at
a less propitious conjunction of time and sentiment.  At last the
three, Doctor John, Doctor Jim, and Robert, found themselves arm-in-arm
on the street, and all talking at once, overbrimming with happiness and
reciprocal congratulations, as they took their discreet way homeward.

Barbara and Mistress Mehitable, left alone, silently put out the
lights.  Then, each lighting her candle, they paused at the head of the
stairs to say good night.  Each set down her candle on the little
mahogany table under the clock, and looked into the other's eyes.
Barbara was first to break the sweet but too searching scrutiny.  She
flung both arms around Mistress Mehitable's neck, and kissed her with a
tremulous fervour that told much.  Mistress Mehitable, whose eyes were
brighter than Barbara had ever guessed that they could be, pressed her
in a close embrace which concealed much, even from Mistress Mehitable
herself.  Then Barbara, after whispering something to the kittens, went
straight to bed, and straight to sleep.  But Mistress Mehitable sat
looking out of her window.



CHAPTER XVI.

It had been arranged that Robert should borrow a horse from Doctor
John's stables, ride it over to Gault House, and keep it there till his
return to Second Westings.  But as he was strolling down the village
street before breakfast, he saw, in a paddock beside an unpretentious
cottage, a splendid Narragansett pacer, a dark sorrel, one of the
handsomest of the breed that he had ever seen.  He had long coveted one
of these horses, famous in all the thirteen colonies for their easy
gait, speed over rough country, and unparalleled endurance.  With
characteristic promptness in getting to his point, he went in,
interviewed the owner, tried the horse, loved it, and asked the price.
The owner was not anxious to sell; but when he found out who the
would-be purchaser was, and the liberal price he was ready to pay, the
prospect of an immediate draft on the bank at Hartford proved
irresistible, and Robert rode off with his prize.  He knew horse-flesh,
and did not grudge the price; and both Doctor John and Doctor Jim, who
knew this sorrel pacer well, were constrained to commend the purchase,
though to them it seemed that so weighty an action demanded, if but for
form's sake, the tribute of delay and pondering.

"Buy a horse like that, Robert, in three shakes of a ram's tail?  It's
undignified!" roared Doctor Jim, eyeing the beast with unmixed
approbation.  "It's an insult to the horse.  And it's a slight upon the
value of our assistance, you cock-sure young rascal.  But it's just the
mulish way your father would have gone and done it, so I suppose we
must forgive you."

Doctor John, meanwhile, had been handling the beast critically, and
looking at its teeth.

"Worth all you gave for him, Bobby; and not a day over five years old!"
was the verdict.  "I see you're old enough to go about alone.  Don't
you mind what Jim Pigeon says.  He'd have had you run to him and ask if
you might have a horse of your own, and then get him and me to go down
and look at the beast, and come back here and talk it all over in
council, and then go back and bully Enoch Barnes some more about the
price, and then all three of us ride the beast up to Mistress
Mehitable's, to ask the opinion of her and Barbara on the subject, and
then--"

But Robert interrupted at this point in the tirade.

"That _would_ have been a good idea," he asserted, regretfully.  "I
wish I had thought to consult the ladies.  But, you know, I _knew_ that
horse was just the one I'd so long been wanting the moment I set eyes
on him.  So I didn't dare wait, lest some one else should come along
and snap him up.  Of course you both know a thousand times more about
horses than I do,--but I knew enough to know I wanted this one!"

"You _generally_ seem to know what you want, Master Gault!" said Doctor
Jim.  "And you seem like to get it, generally, if I don't mistake the
cut of you,--eh, what?"

"Tut, tut," said Doctor John, scowling upon him quizzically.  "That's
all very well as far as horses are concerned, and men!  But wait till
it comes to women, Robert.  You've a lot to learn, my son.  If I'm not
much mistaken, you'll be taught a lot, and not spared in the teaching!"

"I'm always anxious to learn," answered Robert, modestly.

"You will!  You will!" said Doctor John.

Breakfast was a substantial meal of boiled "Yokeag" with molasses, and
broiled salmon, and venison cutlets, and fried ham, and rich guava
jelly from the West Indies.  Robert was surprised to see each of his
friends preface the repast with a quart mug of the hardest and headiest
old cider, he himself being accustomed to a small cup of light ale
merely, or a sip of claret, at this hour.  Both Doctor John and Doctor
Jim assured him that there was nothing like sound cider to tone up the
stomach for its day's adventures; and on their advice he tried it,
though sparingly, and therefore with no tragic results.

After breakfast, he was so obviously restless that the big-hearted
brothers made no effort to detain him.  With heavy hands upon his
shoulders, they told him to make the least possible delay in his
return, and to bear in mind how warm the welcome ever awaiting him at
Second Westings.

"How like to Richard in the saddle!" exclaimed Doctor John, when Robert
had mounted the sorrel pacer.

"And that's a compliment not many a lad of your age could win, my son!"
said Doctor John.

Robert's dark face flushed with pleasure.

"I try hard to be as like my father as possible," said he.  "Don't you
think I might properly ride around and pay my respects to the ladies
before I leave?"

"Unquestionably you might!  'Pon my word a capital idea!" laughed
Doctor Jim, with huge derision.

"Unquestionably, my boy, you would find yourself in hot water if you
didn't!" said Doctor John.

So Robert, without more ado, turned the head of his Narragansett pacer
toward Westings House, whose wide white gables were partly visible
through the trees.

A very erect, graceful, and masterful young figure he made, as he
reined in his tall sorrel before Mistress Mehitable's porch.  Mistress
Mehitable from her window above had seen him coming, and was on the
steps to greet him.  He flung himself from the saddle, kissed her hand
deferentially, thanked her with fervour for her delightful
hospitality,--and at the same time cast a solicitous eye about the
walks and windows, wondering where Barbara could be.  Mistress
Mehitable had an amused smile, but would not help him.  She said polite
things, and assured him of the pleasure with which she would look
forward to his next visit,--and even added that he had better not
postpone that next visit beyond five or six days, or a week at most, as
Mr. Glenowen was expected at once, and might not be able to stay long
at Second Westings.  But of Barbara she said not a word.  Robert showed
her, with pride, his sorrel pacer, related with an abstracted air the
circumstances of its purchase, and enlarged upon the special merits of
the breed, while Mistress Mehitable patted the silky white nose, and
murmured boundless admiration.  But still no sign, no word, of Barbara.

At last Robert could contain himself no longer.

"I ought to be on the road," he stammered, "but I should be sorry to
leave without making my adieux to Mistress Barbara.  Is she within?"

"She went out about half an hour ago!" said Mistress Mehitable, "and
did not say where she was going!"

Robert's face fell so pathetically that Mistress Mehitable felt a
little flush of resentment against Barbara for her cruelty.

"She left kindest messages for you," she continued, hastily.  "She told
me to say how sorry she was not to see you this morning, and that she
would never forgive you if you did not come again to Second Westings
very soon.  And I was to say good-bye to you for her!"

"I thank you," said Robert, heavily.  "Pray you give her my devotions,
and tell her how grieved I am to be denied the privilege of paying them
in person.  I kiss your hand again, dear Mistress Ladd!"  And with that
he rode off musingly, through a morning whose sunlight had on the
sudden lost its sparkle, whose spicy airs had all at once lost their
zest.  His pride in the new pacer, which he had hoped to show off to
Barbara, was all fallen flat.  He forced the restive beast to walk
soberly for some moments.  Then a swift heat of anger, a sense of
undeserved injury, went over him.  He swore he would come no more to
Second Westings all that summer; and setting spurs to the willing
sorrel, he tore away down the road at a pounding gallop.



CHAPTER XVII.

The road toward Westings Landing, which was the shortest way to Gault
House, was joined about a mile out by another, equally rough and
unfriendly to travel, coming from Westings Centre.  Robert had passed
this junction at full gallop, but a few rods beyond a stretch of mire
compelled him to rein in and pick his way.  As he did so he caught a
sound of beating hoofs behind him, and turned in the saddle to see who
came.

Careering recklessly down the road from Westings Centre, her black
curls flying from beneath the rim of her little white beaver, came a
slim figure in a black habit on a great black horse.  She burst into a
peal of laughter as Robert turned, and cried, gaily:

"I'm coming.  Wait for me, Robert!"

Robert wheeled his horse as if on a pivot, fairly lifted him with voice
and spur, and was with her in a few great strides.

"You!" was all his voice could say; but his face said so much more that
the greeting did not seem curt to Barbara.  Her small face was radiant
with excitement, audacity, and delight.  At the beginning of the miry
ground she reined in, patted her beast's wet neck, and said,
breathlessly:

"I thought you might like me to ride a little way with you, Robert, to
make sure of your getting the right road.  Wasn't it very nice of
me,--when you don't one bit deserve any such attention?"

"You are an angel!" cried Robert, in an ecstasy.

Barbara laughed clear and high at this.

"_Oh!_" she shrilled, melodiously derisive, "that's what _I_ think I
am, of course.  But no one has ever agreed with me after knowing me
more than three days.  This is your third day, Robert.  It's well for
me you're going while you labour under this flattering delusion."

"It's no delusion," averred Robert, stoutly, far past wit, and with no
weapon left but bluntness.  "You are the loveliest thing in the world."

This, in Barbara's own opinion, was nonsense.  But she liked to hear
him say it, nonsense or not.  She pondered for a moment, her face
turned away indifferently, that he might not see she was pleased.

"You contradict yourself," she retorted.  "You know angels are not in
the world!"

"One is!" said Robert.

"I like you so much better, Robert, when you're saying clever things
like that," said Barbara, patronisingly, "than when you are just
stupid, and don't do anything but just look at me, as you do sometimes!"

She was too young to know that when a man can be witty with a woman he
is not, at the moment, so engrossed in her but that he is able to think
of himself.

Before Robert could reply they were past the miry ground, and Barbara
had once more set her black horse at the gallop.  The sorrel needed no
urging to follow,--and indeed, for a few minutes both riders were fully
occupied in preventing the ride from degenerating into a headlong race,
so emulous were the two horses.  The road was still very bad, broken
with ruts, holes, and boulders, and the pace was therefore full of
peril.  The black just escaped plunging his fore legs into a bog-hole,
and the narrowness of the escape seemed to make him lose nerve.  Robert
saw with anxiety that Barbara, though her horsemanship equalled her
canoeing, was just now in a far too reckless mood.

"Wait, please, my dear lady," he begged.  "This is no road for fast
riding.  That good beast of yours just escaped a bad fall, and he's a
bit nervous.  Let's walk them till we get to better ground."

But Barbara had not noticed her escape, and she was thrilling with
exhilaration.  She did not know how beside herself she was.

"If you're afraid, follow at your own pace!" she cried, mockingly.
"_I_ came out to _ride_!"  And with a wild word of encouragement to the
black, and a throwing forward of the reins upon his neck, she shot on
at full speed.

"I _beg_ you don't be so reckless!" cried Robert.  "You will get a bad
fall riding this way on such a road!"  There was intensest anxiety in
his voice, but the faintest tinge of reproof went with it, as Barbara's
sensitive pride was quick to discern.

"I shall ride as recklessly as I please," said she.  "But don't let
that trouble you.  Be careful if you like.  Ride like an old woman if
you like!"

This taunt did not touch Robert, as he knew the quality of his own
horsemanship,--which, indeed, Barbara's attentive eyes had been quick
to note.  But the mood it betrayed alarmed and half angered him.  He
saw in fancy that fleeing, daring, wayward little figure stretched
lifeless on the roadside, the radiant face white and still.  His own
face paled and his jaw set obstinately as he urged forward his big
sorrel in silence.

The new horse proved worthy of Narragansett fame.  Over the worst
ground his peculiar pace carried him with an ease which the big black's
heavy tread could not match.  And when the ground was firmer, and he
could stretch out at full run, he soon closed up the gap between
himself and his rival.  This nettled Barbara, who thought her Black
Prince a record-breaker; and she even went so far as to wave her
riding-crop, as if she might be inclined to use it on this beast, which
had never felt the whip.  Nevertheless, the heavy hoof-beats behind
crept closer; and soon the sorrel's nose was at her stirrup; and then
Robert's stirrup and his knee were level with her own,--and with a
quick sidelong glance she caught the grim resolve on his dark face.
She was feeling by this time the least bit ashamed of herself, and
awaking to the risks of the road, so she said, sweetly:

"That's a _splendid_ horse of yours, Robert.  And you can ride!"

"Thank you, Mistress Barbara!" said Robert, unmollified.  And just then
the road straightened out, a stretch of hard, dry level, inviting to
the loose rein and the unchecked run.

"There's no danger _here_, Master Careful!" cried Barbara.

"No, not here,--except branches!" acknowledged Robert, drawing a deep
breath of relief.

And now for more than a mile the road was good.  It wound in slow
curves, the high-branched ash and white maple meeting over it in
stately arches.  Under foot it was hard and fairly even, with a thin
turf between the shallow ruts.  Sunlight and shadow flecked it in vivid
patches; and the summer winds, which were blowing briskly in the open,
breathed down this sheltered corridor only as half-stirred exhalations
of faint perfume.  Neck by neck the horses galloped, their riders
silent, looking straight ahead, but thrillingly conscious of each
other's nearness.  And the strong rhythm of the hoof-beats beneath them
seemed to time itself to the rushing of their blood.  It was now no
longer with vexation, but with a sort of half pride, that Barbara
realised the superiority of the sorrel over her own mount.  She saw
that only Robert's firm hand on the rein kept his beast from forging
ahead.  Thus they rushed along through the vast solitudes,--really
alone together, although those solitudes were populous with the furtive
kindreds of fur and feather.  For the sound of their coming travelled
far before them, and gave the shy folk time to withdraw from such
unwelcome intrusion.  Even the big black bear,--he whom Barbara had
seen tearing the ant-log,--now withdrew as noiselessly and shyly as the
wood-mouse, not delaying for even a glance at the two wild riders.
Only the red squirrel, inquisitive, daring, and impudent, stuck to his
vantage-post on a high-arched limb and jabbered shrill derision at them
as they raced by.

At length, just as the intoxication of the ride and the companionship
were beginning to bewilder his brain, a turn of the road showed Robert
a stretch of very bad ground right ahead.  The careless roadmakers had
tried, in a half-hearted way, to fill up a long bog with brush and
poles.  Had the attempt been fully carried out, the result would have
been a rough but thoroughly passable piece of "corduroy road."  As it
was, however, the brush and poles together had in spots sunk a foot
below the surface, at one side or the other, and in other spots had
been quite engulfed by the hungry black mire, making that stretch the
curse of wheel-travellers, and perilous enough to any but the most
cautious horsemen.

The sight cooled Robert's nerves.  Instead of reining in, however, he
let his beast push a half-length to the front, that he might the better
control the situation if need should arise.  Then he said, resolutely:

"If you have no care for your own life, dear lady, I beg you to think
of that good beast of yours.  He will break a leg in yon bog-holes, and
then he will have to be shot!"

Barbara had been fully prepared, by now, to listen to reason and check
the pace.  She knew she had been unreasoning in her excitement.  But
the fact that Robert knew she had been unreasonable, and dared to show,
by his tone as well as by his argument, that he knew it, stirred a hot
resentment in her heart.  In a flash she forgot that she had ever been
unreasonable at all.  Her first impulse was to spur on with added
speed.  Had it been her own neck, merely, that she would risk, she
would not have hesitated.  But Robert had hit on the one compelling
plea.  She could not face the risk of hurt to her horse, or to any
kindly beast whatever.  She reined in sharply, therefore, without a
word; and at a walk the two horses began to pick their wary way over
the corduroy.

"There's danger to the good beasts, even at this pace," remarked
Robert, with more truthfulness than tact.

"Did you suppose," retorted Barbara, in a voice of withering scorn,
"that I was going to ride my Black Prince at a gallop over such a piece
of road as this?"

This was exactly what Robert had supposed, of course.  But a sudden ray
of insight entering his candid brain in time, he refrained from saying
so.  He was on the point of saying, however, by way of explanation,
that the ground which Barbara had already insisted upon traversing at
full speed was but little better than this; but here, too, a sharpening
perception checked him.  He kept silence, seemingly absorbed in guiding
his horse between the miry pitfalls, until they found themselves once
again on firm ground,--firm but rough.  The horses, still apprehensive,
showed no disposition to resume their vehement gait.

"It's an outrage," cried Robert, "that the township should permit such
a piece of road as this.  I shall have a voice in affairs here in three
or four years, and then I'll see that the road-work is properly done.
I'll have no traps in this township to break good horses' legs!"

This sentiment was so much to Barbara's taste that she found it an
excuse for being mollified.

"That's right, Robert!" she answered, very graciously.  "Now, be sure
you remember that when the time comes!"

"I'll remember it," cried Robert, with cheerful confidence.

By this time, when the leisurely walking of the horses offered no
affront to the forest quiet, the birds were resuming their busy calls
and the bustle of their intimate affairs; and the less shy members of
the furry fellowship went once more about their business in the busy
precincts of the road.  Barbara's sympathetic and unerring vision
singled them out, differentiating them from their harmonious
surroundings, when Robert's eye, as a rule, could not without help see
anything but lichened stumps and stones, or bunches of brown weed, or
odd-shaped excrescences on the trees.  Yet Robert's eye was the eye of
the hunter, skilled in the ruses of all quarry.  Barbara's woodcraft
went immeasurably beyond his,--and perceiving this, her last resentment
faded out and she began to initiate him.  She named and distinguished
for him birds of which he had never even heard, and corrected him with
gleeful pride when he innocently mistook the cry of a woodpecker for
that of a jay.  As for Robert, his delight in this initiation was
second only to his delight in his wilful initiator, who was now all
earnestness and to him a marvel of abstruse erudition.  He learned very
quickly, however, and so Barbara was pleased not less by his
comparative ignorance than by his superlative aptitude, which was an
incense of flattery to his instructress.  Only on the subject of deer
and grouse Barbara could teach him nothing.

"You know all about those," she cried, reproachfully, "because you have
taken the trouble to learn about them, so you can kill them!"

"It does seem a pity to kill such lovely, interesting creatures,"
acknowledged the lad, thoughtfully.  "But what can we do?  Surely they
were given to us for our use.  Providence intended them for our food.
It must be right for us to kill them!"

"Of course," assented Barbara, unequipped with any philosophy which
might have enabled her to combat this argument.  "Of course, it is
right for us to _eat_ them.  But you, Robert, you _take pleasure_ in
_killing_ them.  I don't quite like you for that!"

Robert's face grew more and more thoughtful, for this was to him a hard
saying, indeed, and he had no answer ready.  He was a skilled shot and
a keen huntsman.

"I could not understand a man not taking pleasure in the chase," said
he, "but I suppose if he got to know the wild things intimately, and
love them, as you do, he could no longer bear to kill them, sweet lady!"

"I'm going to teach you to love them all, Robert," said Barbara, easily
confident in her powers.

"I am taught already," he began, with the little elaborate air which
Barbara liked.  Then he changed his mind quickly.  "No, I don't mean
that at all!  I shall need a great many lessons; but I shall learn at
last, if you teach me faithfully!"

Barbara laughed, a clear, ringing laugh, that astonished the lurking
weasel and made the red squirrel highly indignant.

"You don't mean anything at all you say, Robert.  You just like to say
pretty things!"

Which was wantonly unjust, as Barbara knew, and as her very gracious
glance acknowledged.

A few rods farther on, Barbara suddenly drew rein, wheeled her horse
about, and held out her hand.

"Now I must go home, Robert.  I think I can trust you to find the rest
of the way alone!  Don't forget what I've told you.  And don't forget
to come and see Uncle Bob, the very first of next week.  And thank you
so much for bringing back the canoe."

Robert had promptly taken the little brown hand, and kissed it with
somewhat more fervour than form required, till Barbara, without any
sign of displeasure, snatched it away.  Then, instead of saying
good-bye, he wheeled his big sorrel.  "You must allow me the honour of
riding back with you, Mistress Barbara," said he.

"No, indeed!" cried the girl.  "I cannot think of letting you do any
such thing.  It will be late enough as it is when you get to Gault
House!"

Robert's mind was quite made up, but he scanned her face anxiously to
see if she really meant her inhibition.  Her dancing eyes and laughing
mouth convinced him that she did not mean it with any serious
conviction, so his obstinate jaw relaxed.

"Allow you to ride back through these woods alone, my lady?" he
protested, gaily.  "Do you think the wood spirits would let slip such
an opportunity to carry off their queen?  You are theirs, by rights, I
know.  But I must see you back safely into the hands of Mistress
Mehitable."

So it came about that, in spite of his exigencies, Robert dined at
Mistress Mehitable's, and did not start for Gault House till long past
noon.



CHAPTER XVIII.

Two days later Mr. Robert Glenowen arrived at Second Westings by the
Hartford coach, alighting to be publicly kissed and embraced with a
heedless fervour which would have been a scandal to the community, had
not the community by this time grown accustomed to Barbara's joyous
flouting of its conventions.  Barbara had established for herself a
general privilege, and Second Westings had ceased to do more than lift
its eyebrows.

"It's the same Barbara, the same naughty little baggage of mine I left
two years ago, for all that her petticoats are longer, and her
lovelocks shorter, and she takes the trouble to powder her saucy little
nose!" said Mr. Glenowen, presently, holding her at arms' length, and
eyeing her with critical approval.

Barbara endured the scrutiny for a moment or two, then her dark cheeks
flushed, her lips pouted, and she impetuously thrust herself again into
his arms.

"I have grown up since you saw me, Uncle Bob!" she cried, kissing him
on both cheeks.

"Whose fault is that?" he asked, again pushing her away that he might
search her eyes.

"Aunt Kitty's!" answered Barbara, innocently, her eyes as clear as a
child's.

Mr. Glenowen laughed, held her with his left arm about her slim waist,
and stepped up toward the inn door to greet Doctor John and Doctor Jim,
who had held themselves in the background that Barbara might have the
first greetings uninterrupted.

A few minutes later the four were on the way to Mistress Mehitable's,
walking up the middle of the street.  Barbara and her uncle, arm in
arm, walked between, with the great bulks of Doctor John and Doctor Jim
on either side, seeming to overshadow them; while a little way behind
trudged Amos, in his blue duffle shirt and leather breeches, carrying
the baggage.

In this position, framed as it were and set off by Doctor John and
Doctor Jim, the likeness between Barbara and her uncle came out as
never before, so that both the brothers exclaimed at it together.
Glenowen was a shade above middle height, with square, athletic
shoulders, and no suggestion of leanness; but he had the same
indescribable lightness, swiftness, fineness of bearing, which
characterised Barbara.  Under his very smart three-cornered hat of
black beaver with its fashionable rosette, his thick, bronze-black,
vigorous hair, which was worn in a queue and tied with an ample ribbon,
had the same rebellious wave in it that Barbara's had.  His face, like
Barbara's, was short, with slightly rounded forehead, rounded chin,
firm jaw, cheeks somewhat thin, lips full and passionate.  But
Barbara's mouth was sad, while Glenowen's was laughing, daring, tender;
and Barbara's eyes were of a transparent, fathomless, gray-green,
sometimes flaming, sometimes darkly inscrutable, while Glenowen's were
of a sunny, merry brown, darkening and growing keen as steel when he
was intent.  As he was carrying his gauntlet gloves of light,
American-made goat-leather, the further likeness to Barbara came out in
his bare hands, which were dark and slender and fine like hers, with
long-oval, polished, aristocratic nails.  Barbara herself would never
wear gloves about Second Westings in summer, save at meeting, or when
riding, or in pulling herbs or cutting flowers.  She loved nice gloves,
as a dainty and suggestive article of toilet; but she loved the freedom
of her little, sensitive fingers, and felt that Second Westings had no
atmosphere to fit the suggestion of gloved hands.  It was manifest that
Barbara was chiefly a Glenowen,--but it was equally manifest that her
eyes were the eyes of the Ladds; for they were profoundly different
from those of her Uncle Bob, and so far as enigmatic gray-green could
resemble untroubled sky-blue, they were like to the deep, transparent
eyes of Mistress Mehitable.

Mr. Glenowen brought to Second Westings a lot of presents for Barbara,
a whiff of freshness from the outside world, and an indefinable sense
of ferment and change.  It was as if the far-off tales of strife
between king and colonies ceased on the sudden to be like the affairs
of story-books, and became crystallised, by the visitor's mere
presence, into matters of vital import.  A premonition of vast events
flashed through the quiet heart of the village; and from the day of the
arrival of Mr. Robert Glenowen by the Hartford coach, the repose of
Second Westings was never again quite the same.

Yet Glenowen at this time was no partisan.  He was merely in active
touch with the troubles of the time, and vexatiously divided within
himself.  By sentiment, taste, and tradition a Tory, and by
intellectual conviction a Whig, he shunned rather than courted argument
in which he could heartily support neither side.  Nevertheless, before
dinner was over, all the company, save Barbara, were at him,--Mistress
Mehitable and Doctor Jim on the one side, and Doctor John, with
whimsical insinuations and Parthian shafts, on the other.  As for
Barbara, she was too happy to care whether kings thwarted colonies or
colonies thwarted kings, so long as she might sit in unwonted and
radiant silence and beam upon her Uncle Bob.

But Mr. Glenowen was not to be entrapped into any serious discussions
so soon after his journey.  He showed an unmistakable and determined
desire to play.  Barbara's one curl, where he had been wont to see
many, was of concern to him.  Her one kitten--now admitted to the
dignified precincts of the dining-room since the other two had been
given away, the day before, to Doctor Jim and Mercy Chapman
respectively--appeared to him of more concern than Mr. Adams or Lord
North.  He was brimful of appreciative merriment over the story of
Barbara's adventurous voyage, and troublesomely interrogative as to the
various attributes of Robert.  He had attentive inquiries for old
Debby, and Mercy Chapman, and Keep, and the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer,
and Black Prince, and many others whom none would have dreamed he could
remember after two years of well-occupied absence.  By the time dinner
was over none had achieved to know whether Uncle Bob would call himself
Tory or Whig.  Barbara, of course, felt confident that he was a
joyously established rebel; while Doctor Jim was equally sure he was a
king's man through and through.  The others were in doubt.

Nor was Mr. Glenowen more communicative when the meal was done.  He was
then too impatient even to smoke his pipe, for haste to get at his
travelling-bags and show Barbara what he had brought for her.  As he
pulled out these treasures one by one, Barbara forgot all the dignity
of her lengthened frocks, and screamed with delight, and kissed him
spasmodically, and exhausted her rich vocabulary of endearments in the
vain effort to give her rapture words; till Doctor John and Doctor Jim
vowed they would have to go a journey themselves ere long, if only to
bring Barbara presents and find out in person how sweet she could be.
While Mistress Mehitable remarked demurely that "such knowledge of what
would please a woman could only have been attained by more assiduity in
effort than was quite becoming, surely, in a bachelor!"

"I hope, dear mistress," retorted Uncle Bob, with laughing eyes, "that
the discernment with which you so generously credit me did not fail
when I was selecting this little gift, unmeet as it is to adorn your
charms."  And on one knee he presented to her a bundle in green tissue,
tied delicately with gilt cord.

All crowded about Mistress Mehitable while she undid the cord, and
unfolded, with blushes, and with little breathless exclamations not
unworthy of Barbara herself, an elaborately ruffled and laced French
night-rail, embroidered heavily with silk, and lettered in gold thread
with her initials.

It was such a gown as often served to make bedroom receptions popular.
And Mistress Mehitable, though she held those customs in scorn as
indolent and frivolous, had a healthy feminine delight in such sweet
fripperies of apparel as this creation of French art.  Amid the clamour
of applause it was some moments before she could word her
acknowledgments.  At last she said:

"I shall perhaps thank you less fervently than I do now, Mr. Glenowen,
for this delightful present, when its fascinations keep me from
sleeping.  I'm afraid I shall lie awake just to appreciate it!"

"Sleep, rather, I beg you, fair mistress, and honour me with some small
place in your dreams!" cried Uncle Bob, gallantly.

"Fie!  Fie!  Fie!" said Mistress Mehitable, shaking at him a slim,
reproving finger.  "You must not put such gallantries into these young
people's heads.  Doctor Jim is steady enough, but such notions are very
upsetting to John and Barbara!"

"Glenowen, you young scoundrel, sir!" roared Doctor Jim, "what do you
mean by coming in here and turning our girls' heads with your bold
compliments and French night-rails?  I marvel at your devilish
audacity, sir!  You'll have trouble on your hands before you know what
you're about,--eh, what?"

Uncle Bob was darting around the room like a pleased boy, delighted
with the effect he had produced, delighted with his success in pleasing
Mistress Mehitable, and in bringing out the gayer, brighter side of her
conscience-burdened spirit.

"Pistols, Pigeon!  Pistols let it be, this very night after moonset,
under Mistress Mehitable's window!" he cried, slapping Doctor Jim's
great shoulders.  "I give you fair warning I shall bring the dear lady
a far handsomer one the next time I come!"

Barbara, meanwhile, and Mistress Mehitable, and Doctor John, had their
heads close together over the intricate and beautiful embroidery,
admiring each fine detail in careful succession.

"It is _perfectly beautiful_!" pronounced Barbara, at length, with a
deep breath of satisfaction and a consciousness of duty loyally done.
There were several of her own presents which she admired more
fervently, and she already had five, with the possibility of more yet
to come from Uncle Bob's wonderful bag.  But she felt it would not be
playing fair if she failed to give full measure of time and fervour to
sympathising with Aunt Hitty in her good fortune.  At the same time,
she felt that in her aunt's frank delight in such a frivolous and quite
unnecessarily beautiful garment she had found a new bond of
understanding with that long-misunderstood lady.

But Mistress Mehitable had yet one more word to say before she was
ready, in turn, to give undivided attention to Barbara's fortunes.

"I am going to confess, Mr. Glenowen," said she, with a smiling,
half-shamefaced glance, as she held up the dainty creation of lawn and
lace and silk, caressing her smooth pink and white cheek with it, "I am
going to confess that this lovely garment is just such a thing as I
have longed to have, yet should have considered it wicked
self-indulgence to purchase.  Even so sober and prosy a dame as I may
dearly love the uselessly beautiful.  I'm beginning to doubt whether I
really want to be quite so useful and competent as I am thought to be.
You, Mr. Glenowen, a comparative stranger, and with but a casual,
courteous regard for me, have read my heart as these my dearest and
lifelong friends, who would, I believe, give their right hands to serve
me, could not do."

"Glenowen, you die to-night!" roared Doctor Jim, knitting his great
brows.

But Doctor John was on one knee at Mistress Mehitable's
black-satin-shod small feet, one hand upon his breast.

"Nothing more utilitarian than silk stockings, most dear and
unexpectedly frivolous lady," he vowed, "shall be my tributes of
devotion to you henceforth!"

"And mine shall be garters, fickle Mehitable!" cried Doctor Jim,
dropping on his knee beside Doctor John, and swearing with like
solemnity.  "Silk garters,--and such buckles for silk garters!"

"And little silk shoes, and such big buckles for little silk shoes!"
said Doctor John.

"And silk petticoats!" went on Doctor Jim, antiphonally.  "Brocaded
silk, flowered silk, watered silk, painted silk, corded silk, tabby
silk, paduasoy silk, alamode silk, taffety silk, charrydarry--" till
Mistress Mehitable put her hand over his mouth and stopped the stream
of his eruditions.

"And silk--and silk--" broke in Doctor John, once more, but
stammeringly, because his knowledge of the feminine wardrobe was
failing him.  "Tut, tut, silk night-rails, indeed!  The scoundrel!  The
vagabond Welshman!  May I die of Jim Pigeon's physic if I don't make
shift--make silk shift--"

"John!" cried Mistress Mehitable, in tone of rebuke, and pushing them
both away from her.  "Get up at once, both of you, and don't be so
silly!"

Her eyes shone, and her cheeks were flushed with mingled pleasure and
embarrassment, and Glenowen realised that she was much younger and
prettier than he had been wont to think.

"O Mehitable-demoralised-by-Barbara!" vowed Doctor John, towering over
her.  "Your sweet and now perverted soul shall be satisfied with
gewgaws!  I, John Pigeon, swear it!"

[Illustration: "_O Mehitable-demoralised-by-Barbara!" vowed Doctor
John._]

"Then I want a bosom-bottle, of Venice glass and gold filigree, to keep
my nosegays from withering!" retorted Mistress Mehitable, flashing up
at him a look of her blue eyes.  "I've never had such a chance as this
in all my life!"

"There now, hussy!" growled Doctor Jim, turning upon Barbara.  "See
what you have done.  In three days you have demoralised her completely.
And I see the ruin of John and Jim Pigeon, buying her things!"

But Barbara was by this time too absorbed in her own things to heed the
catastrophe thus impending.  It was plain that Uncle Bob had been
prosperous these past two years,--and equally plain that he was in full
sympathy with Barbara's tastes.  First of all, there were books,--a
handsomely bound copy of Sir Philip Sidney's "Arcadia," an old,
time-stained copy of "England's Helicon," a copy in boards of the
admired "Odes" of Mr. Gray, and a copy of Mr. Thompson's "The Castle of
Indolence."  With these, in strange companionship, a white silk
mask,--a black velvet mask with silver buttons on silver cord behind
the mouth, to enable the wearer to hold it in place with her lips, when
both hands might chance to be occupied,--and a small pistol, inlaid
with silver and mother-of-pearl.  This seductive little weapon Barbara
hugged rapturously to her breast.  Though she would not kill anything
for the world, she loved to feel she could be slaughterous an she
wished!

Then came wonders of the wardrobe.  Barbara hungered to try them on all
at once, and in truth made marvellous efforts toward that unachievable
end.  There were kerchiefs of sheerest lawn and lace, and of
embroidered silk.  There were two pairs of silk garters, three pairs of
silk stockings, and six pairs of fine thread stockings.  She loved the
silk stockings as she did the pistol and Sir Philip Sidney.  There were
shoes, low, shapely, thin-soled shoes of red morocco, and black
chamois, and black satin, and a pair of daintiest slippers of white
satin, all with buckles satisfyingly resplendent.

"I knew your feet would never be any larger than they are now,"
explained Uncle Bob, "so having the opportunity to get some uncommon
fine shoes at a price uncommon reasonable, I thought it just as well to
embrace occasion boldly!"

"But how _did_ you _ever_ guess the right size, Uncle Bob?" cried
Barbara, in ecstasy, trying on a black satin one with supreme
forgetfulness of company manners, and poking out ingenuously the most
bewitching foot in the thirteen colonies.  "Do just look.  It fits like
a glove!"

Stooping quickly as if to examine it, Doctor Jim engulfed it in one
large, white hand; and kissed it just above the glittering buckle.

"There, Bob Glenowen," he growled, as he straightened himself, "is that
the proper civility to show a lady when she pokes out her foot at you?
I suppose you would pocket the shoe and carry off the lady!  Eh, what?"

"How dare you kiss my niece without my leave?" demanded Mr. Glenowen.

"He shall kiss me just whenever he likes, and no one in the world shall
interfere!" declared Barbara, springing up, and pulling Doctor Jim's
neck down to be swiftly hugged.  "But--how _did_ you know the right
size, Uncle Bob?"

A look passed between Mistress Mehitable and Glenowen; and Barbara,
intercepting it, understood in a flash.

"Oh!  Oh!  Aunt Hitty!  _You_ did it!" she shrieked, clapping her
hands.  "You sent him my green silk slipper for a pattern!  And I've
been thinking I had lost it!  And I was ashamed to tell you!  Oh, how
dear, and deceitful of you, honey!"

"Here, indeed, is the delinquent slipper!" acknowledged Uncle Bob,
drawing the green silk toy from his bag.  He handed it over to Mistress
Mehitable, for Barbara was again absorbed, her glowing face, with one
massive black curl hanging straight past her cheek, bent low over her
spoils, among which were lengths of silk,--a rich brocade, a taffeta,
and a silk Damascus, out of which her quick fancy conjured up a dream
of petticoats, panniers, and bodices that should appear most
sumptuously grown-up.  There were gloves, too, and mitts; and a mighty
handsome little "equipage" of silver-gilt, containing scissors,
thimble, nail-trimmer, tweezers, and such small needments, to hang at
the left side of her bodice.  There was a flimsy affair of a
"lovehood," silk and gauze and mystery, from which Barbara's vivid,
petulant, dark little face flashed forth with indescribable
bewitchment.  This love-hood, swore Doctor John, should never be worn
by Barbara on the streets of Second Westings, for reasons affecting the
public weal, as it would bedevil the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer himself
in the very sanctuary of his pulpit.  Barbara suddenly looked forward
with interest to going to meeting on the following Sunday, bedecked in
the disastrous love-hood.

Last, but not least in Barbara's eyes, there was an exceedingly
delicate frivolity in the shape of a carven gilt patch-box, about an
inch and a half in length.  In the top was set a painted china
medallion, representing a richly dressed shepherdess enwreathed in
roses, with the appropriate posy:

  "My love in her attire doth show her wit,
  It doth so well become her!"

On the inside of the cover was a tiny mirror.  When Barbara, silent
with delight, peered into this mirror, she caught a vision of herself
in a gay ballroom, patched and powdered and furbelowed, shattering the
hearts of a host of cavaliers, who every one of them looked like a
relative of Robert Gault.



CHAPTER XIX.

That night, when she was going to bed, came Barbara's really deep
reaction from the exaltation and excitement which had possessed her
since the morning with Mistress Mehitable.  The joy of her uncle's
coming, the whirl of childish delight over the presents he had brought
her, had swept her spirits to a pinnacle which could not be maintained.
She slipped, and fell down on the other side.

First she lighted the four candles that stood, two on each side of the
mirror, on her shining mahogany dressing-table.  Then she undressed,
put on her long, white nightgown, and said her prayers with a troubled
alternation of fervour and forgetfulness.  She was slipping.  Then, one
by one, she looked her presents well over again, noted that each was
just as perfect as it had seemed to her every other one of the dozen
times she had examined it, and wondered with a pang what had become of
all their magic.  Her scintillant delight in them had faded to a mere
dull drab perception of their merits.  Her eyes filled, and a lump rose
in her throat.  She was far over the crest of the pinnacle, on the
cold, enshadowed side of the steep.

The one kitten, whom she had named "Mr. Grim,"--a round-faced,
round-eyed gray and white furred baby, not yet accustomed to the loss
of his two saucer mates,--crept snuggling against her bare ankles and
mewed mildly, begging to be noticed.  Barbara picked it up, fondled it
in her bosom, threw herself down on the bed with it, and burst into a
passion of tears.  She felt as if she had been long, long away.  She
was poignantly homesick for her old self, her old childishness.  The
burden of being grown-up suddenly arose, thrust itself upon her, and
grew great and terrifying and not to be borne.  She was oppressed, too,
with self-reproach.  Absorbed in vivid and novel sensations, during the
past few eventful days she had not thought as much as usual about her
old comrades,--the kittens, Keep, Black Prince, and Mercy Chapman.  And
now in her weakness she thought they had suffered from her neglect.  As
a matter of fact, the difference had been purely in her own mind.  The
kittens, who were quite dependent upon her, had been as tenderly cared
for as ever, but while caring for them she had thought of other things
more novel and significant.  In giving away two of them she had done
just what she had planned and promised from the first.  But now she
scourged herself for heartlessness and inconstancy, pretending she had
sent them away just because she was tired of taking care of them and
wanted to be free for new interests.

"Did its missis forget all about the poor little lonely baby, and send
away her other babies, and get cruel and hard-hearted, just because she
thought she was grown-up, and a new friend came along?" she murmured,
after the first tempest was over, to the gray and white kitten now
purring comfortably against her soft throat.  She sat up in bed with it
to caress it more effectively.

"She is a bad missis, and perfectly horrid!" she went on, between sobs;
and the kitten, who did not mind damp, was highly pleased.  "She has
been perfectly horrid.  But to-morrow she's going to be just her old
self again, and take up the tuck in her petticoats, and fix her hair
like it was before we ran away.  And we'll go to Doctor Jim and Mercy
Chapman and just _snatch_ back those other poor babies; and we'll all
go off together down into the back garden, by our apple-tree, and have
a lovely time.  And--and--yes, we _will_ forgive old Debby, and go and
see her to-morrow.  We'll take Uncle Bob, and then there won't be any
bother about explanations."

Then her tears flowed forth anew, till the kitten was quite
uncomfortably wet; and, with fresh resolves to be all child again on
the morrow, she sobbed herself to sleep, with the thick hair tangled
over her eyes and grieving lips.

But the long, sweet sleep brought complete renewal to Barbara's spent
forces, and waking found her composedly happy, with a blessed sense of
problems solved and desired things coming to pass.  Her heart was
a-brim with sunshine, but the only sunshine in the room was that she
held in her heart, for the light that came through the diamond panes
was gray, and the sky behind the leafy branch was gray, and, as she
looked, the first of the rain came, blown in streaming gusts against
the glass, and shedding a narrow line of drops across the polished
floor.  One leaf of the window was open, and Barbara sprang from bed to
shut it, laughing as the cold drops spattered her feet.  She had no
quarrel with the rain that day, there being enough pleasures indoors to
keep any maid's mind busy.

After breakfast, however, when she found that Uncle Bob was going down
into the village to call on the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer, to drink a
glass with Squire Gillig in his snug office behind the store, and to
pay his respects to Doctor John and Doctor Jim, then Barbara felt the
lure of the rain, and said she would go with him.

"I _love_ the rain," she explained,--"and it's so nice for the
complexion, too!  I'll go and tell Mercy Chapman about my presents, and
take some jellies to her poor sick mother, while you are talking
politics in the squire's back office, Uncle Bob.  Then I'll meet you at
Doctor John's office, and we'll step into Doctor Jim's, and bring both
of them up to dinner with us, so we'll all be together as much as
possible.  Won't we, dear?"  And she paused in the task of strapping on
her goloshes, to appeal to Mistress Mehitable.

"You are proposing to make a lot of trouble for your aunt!" protested
Glenowen.

"Indeed she is not," began Mistress Mehitable, warm to second Barbara's
proposal.  But before she could say more, there was a wilder gust among
the trees outside, a fiercer burst of rain against the windows, and,
with a huge stamping in the vestibule, came Doctor Jim, as if blown in
by storm.  All hurried to meet him, where he stood dripping in the hall
door, and the expedition to the village was postponed.  An hour later
came Doctor John, even wetter and more dishevelled than his brother,
from the bedside of a patient at the opposite end of the village.  The
two had planned that theirs should be the hospitality of that day, but
the storm and Mistress Mehitable together triumphed.  The old house was
merry all day long with gay voices, its maiden fragrances of lavender
and rose touched genially with breaths of the mild Virginia weed.  And
Barbara forgot, completely and for ever, how near she had been to
drowning the furry "Mr. Grim" in the tears of her regret for her lost
childishness.

Toward sunset the rain stopped, and a copper flame was reflected up
from the windows of a cottage visible to the eastward through the
trees; and the western sky, opening along the horizon under great
smoky-purple battlements of cloud, revealed unspeakable glories of
clear gold.  Throughout the rare hour, till dusk fell, the thrushes
sang ecstatically, so unusual an outburst that Barbara dragged every
one out upon the wet porch to listen to the thrilling, cloistral-pure
cadences, the infinite tranquillities of tone.  So inspiring was that
hour in the front of twilight that even the catbird down in the back
garden forgot that he had been for days too busy to sing, and mounted
the topmost bough of a tall cherry, and eased his soul in a chaos of
golden phrases.

Very early the next morning,--the kind of morning when the sunlight
itself seems as if it were just sparkling from a bath in cold
fountains,--Barbara and Glenowen started out for a paddle across the
lake to visit old Debby.  They went through the barn-yard, through the
bars, through the pasture, and through the wood; and in response to his
bounding and wagging appeals, they took Keep, the mastiff, with them.
They went early, in order to be back in time for the dinner with Doctor
John and Doctor Jim.  And Barbara insisted on letting Keep go in the
canoe, that she might erase from his generous heart the memory of her
harshness on the morning of her great adventure.  At her command, the
dog stepped in so circumspectly, and lay down with so nice a balance,
that Uncle Bob was impressed.

"The dog's a born canoeist, Barb," he declared, as he headed up the
shore instead of straight out across the lake.  "I wonder you ever had
the heart to leave him behind,--and to take those kittens, who couldn't
tell a canoe from a horse-trough."

Barbara would have answered that the kittens needed her more than Keep
did, who had all the world for his friend; but her thoughts were
diverted by the direction in which her uncle was steering.

"Why do you go this way, Uncle Bob?" she demanded, looking at him over
her shoulder while her dripping paddle-blade rested on the gunwale.

"I want to examine a certain big rock, where a certain small girl did
certain strange things!" replied Glenowen, gravely.

Barbara flushed, and drooped her head.

"I didn't know you knew about that, Uncle Bob!" she said, in a low
voice.  "Don't let's go there!"

"All right!" assented Glenowen, cheerfully.  He had recalled the old
tragedy of deliberate purpose, because, being of Welsh blood, and
superstitious, he was afraid Barbara's unparalleled high spirits might
bring her some keen disappointment.  He had purposed to discipline her
with a dash of bitter memories, that he might avert the envy of the
gods; and when her head drooped he had accomplished his purpose.  But
Barbara had changed her mind.

"No!" she said.  "Let's go close to the rock, and look right down into
the water, just where I was lying when old Debby pulled me out!"

And they did so.  The sand was clear gold down there, but as they
looked a huge eel wriggled over it.  Barbara shuddered, and seized her
paddle once more to get away.

"It's good for me to be reminded, Uncle Bob," she said.  "I forget,
when I am happy, how wicked and foolish I can be when things go wrong!
But oh, you can never know how unhappy I used to be!  You'd have come
to me if you had known, Uncle Bob!"

"Poor little girlie!" murmured Glenowen, his kind brown eyes moistening
at the corners.

"But I was crazy, both naughty and crazy, and it was all my fault!"
went on Barbara, resting her paddle again as the canoe skimmed fleetly
out across the water, away from the sorrowful spot.  "It's all so
different now!  And it's always going to be different!"

Glenowen smiled to himself, as he was apt to do when confronted with
any of the pathetic ironies of life.  Barbara would not have liked him
to smile, for to her a smile meant amusement or mirth, and she could
never learn to appreciate the depth of tenderness that might lurk
beneath a ripple of laughter.  But she was looking straight ahead.  In
his heart and behind his smile, Glenowen said, "Child, dear child, is
it all so securely different now, and just eight days gone since you
climbed out of your window before daybreak?"  But aloud he said, after
a silence:

"It is indeed most different, Barb, old girl?  Some of your troubles
are really done now, thrown into the dark corner with the discarded
dollies.  The others will keep bobbing up now and then, claiming old
acquaintance.  But just you cut them dead.  They are in sober truth not
the same, now that you are older and more responsible.  Well I know,
what so many forget, that childish sorrows, while they last, are the
most bitter and hopeless of sorrows.  The wall that a man steps over
blots out a child's view of heaven."

"How wonderfully you understand, Uncle Bob!" cried Barbara, with ardent
appreciation.

As they neared the other side of the lake, a kingfisher dropped like an
azure wedge into the ripples, missed his prey, and flew off down to the
outlet clattering harshly in his throat.  From the deep reeds of the
point above the outlet a wide-winged bird got up heavily as the canoe
drew near.

"There goes my old blue heron!" shouted Barbara, gleefully.  "You
should have seen the way he fixed me with his glassy eyes as I passed,
the morning I ran away!"

"He is very old, and very wise, and thinks of lots of things besides
frogs!" said Glenowen.

They entered the outlet, and met old Debby's geese.  The big gray and
white gander, in the pride of many goslings, hissed fiercely at them as
they paddled past, so that Keep raised his head and gave him a look of
admonition over the gunwale.  The next turn brought them out in full
view of Debby's cabin, and straightway rose a clamorous outcry from
watchful drakes and challenging chanticleers.  The yellow pup ran
barking down from the steps, and Keep cocked a sympathetic ear.

"Lie down, sir!" commanded Barbara, and Keep meekly suppressed his
budding interest.

Mrs. Debby Blue was spinning flax, on the hard-beaten clean earth some
paces in front of her threshold, when she saw and recognised her
approaching visitors.  In the presence of Mr. Glenowen she read peace,
for her shrewd perception of Barbara's character told her that the girl
would never have permitted her a glimpse of the cherished uncle except
as a sign of favour.  Nevertheless the grim old woman was conscious of
a sinking qualm at thought of the first straight look of Barbara's
eyes.  She knew she had betrayed her; and that knowledge was not wholly
mended by the fact that she knew she had done right to betray.  Her
lonely old heart so yearned to the child that she feared her reproach
as she feared no other thing in life.  She stopped her wheel, dropped
her roll of flax, picked up her stick, and limped sturdily down toward
the landing.

Before she had got half-way the canoe came to land, and Barbara
unceremoniously skipped ashore.

"Lie down, Keep!" she ordered again, and then, leaving Glenowen to land
and follow at leisure, she ran up the path to greet old Debby.

"This does my old eyes good, Miss Barby!" exclaimed the old woman, her
voice a trifle unsteady.

Barbara seized her, and kissed her heartily on both cheeks.

"You were very bad to me, Debby," she cried, cheerfully, "but you'd
have been worse to me if you hadn't been bad to me!  So I forgive you,
and love you just the same, you old dear.  The most _dreadful_ things
might have happened to me if it hadn't been for you!"

Mrs. Blue heaved a huge sigh of relief; but the subject was too
difficult and delicate a one for her to expand upon.  She gave Barbara
a vehement squeeze, looked her up and down, and exclaimed:

"Land sakes alive, Miss Barby, why, if you hain't been an' growed up
over night.  What've they been doin' to you over there?"

"It was _you_ did it, Debby, much as anybody!"  And Barbara flicked her
petticoats audaciously before the old woman's eyes, to emphasise their
added length.  "Such lovely things have happened; and Aunt Hitty and I
have made up; and I've so much to tell you, that I must come over some
day and spend the whole day with you, after Uncle Bob goes away.  And
here's Uncle Bob himself, who only came day before yesterday, and has
come to see you, Debby dear, before any one else in Second Westings."

As Barbara stopped breathless, Glenowen came up and grasped the old
dame warmly by the hand.

"You're looking ten years younger than when I saw you two years ago,
Debby!" he declared, sweetly and transparently mendacious.

"'Tain't so much my youth, as my beauty, that I set store by, Mr.
Glenowen, thankin' you jest the same!" retorted the old woman, as she
led them into her cabin for refreshment.  She was a cunning cook, if
somewhat unconventional in her recipes, and she remembered with
satisfaction that Barbara's uncle had seemed to share Barbara's
weakness for her concoctions.  Eight days ago she would have offered
Barbara milk to drink; but now she brought out only a strong root wine
for which she was famous, a beverage which was extolled throughout the
township as a most efficacious preventative of all disorders.

"It's a wonder how letting down one's petticoats seems to destroy one's
fondness for milk!" said Barbara.

Instead of sitting on the edge of the high bed and swinging her legs,
as she would have done eight days ago, she sat on a bench and kept her
feet on the floor.  And from this old Debby realised, with a pang, that
the child had truly grown to womanhood.



CHAPTER XX.

Returning about noon to Westings House, early that they might have time
to dress for dinner, Glenowen started to let down the pasture bars.
But Barbara, in high spirits, went over them like a cat, forgetful of
her new dignity.  So Glenowen vaulted after her.  As they rounded the
end of the barn, Amos came leading a tall sorrel across the yard; and
straightway Barbara assumed a more stately air, while a quick radiance
went over her face.

"That's Robert Gault's horse!" she explained.  "I want you to be very
lovely to him, Uncle Bob, for he's such a nice boy, and was so very
civil to me when I made him help me run away.  I gave him a terrible
lot of anxiety, you know!"

Glenowen laughed uproariously.

"I don't doubt you did, dear heart!" he agreed.  "But Lord, oh, Lord,
what a way of commending a young man to a young lady's doting uncle, to
say he mighty civilly helped her to run away!"

"Now, Uncle Bob, I won't like you if you talk nonsense!  You know very
well what I mean.  And you are to be nice to Robert!" retorted Barbara,
crisply.

As they went up the long, box-bordered path, Mistress Mehitable and
Robert came strolling down to meet them; and the warmth of Glenowen's
greetings to Robert fulfilled Barbara's utmost demands.  For her own
part, however, under the sway of a sudden whim, she chose to be by no
means extraordinarily civil.  And Robert's contentment was dashed by a
chilly doubt as to whether or no he had chosen the right day for his
visit.  Before they went to their rooms to dress, however, Barbara
relented.

"You should have come last night, Robert," she said, turning to him
graciously at the foot of the stairs.  "Then Uncle Bob and I would have
taken you over the lake with us this morning, in _the_ canoe, to see
old Debby!"

She threw an intimate emphasis on the "the,"--and watched with a
curious sense of triumph the swift fading of the cloud from Robert's
face.

For this dinner Barbara dressed with unwonted care.  Her plain white
silk petticoat, duly lengthened, worn under her cream brocaded satin
panniers, with buff satin bodice, and white lace short sleeves, gave
her, as she could not but think, a most genteel appearance.  With her
new white silk stockings and white satin shoes, two large red roses in
her bosom, and one in the dark mass of her hair just where the curl
hung down, a tiny patch from the adorable new patch-box discreetly
fixed near the corner of her mouth, and the new love-hood to be thrown
carelessly over her head in due time, she felt herself equipped to be
as imperious and unpleasant to Robert as the caprice of the moment
might suggest.  When she went down-stairs she found Mistress Mehitable
waiting in the hall, in a gayer gown than she had ever before seen her
wear.  It was a silk polonaise, of a tender, gris-de-lin shade, which
became her fair colouring to a marvel; and Barbara was astonished to
see how young and pretty she looked.

"How _perfectly lovely_ you look, dear!" she cried, turning Mistress
Mehitable twice around, and putting a deft touch to the light,
abundant, simply coiffured hair.  "No one will give one look at me
to-day!"

Her aunt flung an arm about her, smiling, then tripped away girlishly,
flushed a pretty pink, lifted the edge of her petticoat, and displayed
a slender ankle encased in embroidered sky-blue silk.  Barbara clapped
her hands with approval.

"It is five years since I have worn them," said Mistress Mehitable.
"Seeing that I failed so, child, in my efforts to lead you along the
paths of gravity, I have concluded to try and let you lead me along the
paths of frivolity--a little!  So I got out my blue silk stockings!"
And spreading her skirts, she was in the act of making Barbara an
elaborate curtsey, when Glenowen, coming up quickly behind her, caught
her and kissed her lightly on the cheek.

Mistress Mehitable, startled and taken aback, blushed furiously, and
stood for a second or two in confusion.  Then she recovered herself.
She made another stately curtsey, and saying, demurely, "Let me turn
the other cheek also, Mr. Glenowen," presented her face again for a
more formal and less hasty salute.

Barbara clapped her hands with gleeful approbation, but her comment
brought a new rose to Mistress Mehitable's face.

"If I didn't love you so much, Uncle Bob," said she, "I'd tell Doctor
John and Doctor Jim."  And from the fact that she felt embarrassed by
this raillery, the conscientious Mistress Mehitable was almost ready to
believe she had done wrong.

The dinner was at two o'clock--an extremely formal hour for Second
Westings; and a further element of formality was added by the presence
of the Reverend Jonathan and Mrs. Sawyer, which effectually removed it
from the category of family affairs.  These outsiders, however, were a
kindly pair, and cast no serious shadow upon the gathering.  The
Reverend Jonathan kept his austerity pretty strictly for the Sabbath;
and being both well-bred and well educated, knew how on occasion to lay
aside his cloth without sacrifice of dignity or prestige.  He was
something of a _bon vivant_, too, in his scholarly way, and among folk
who were unimpeachably of his own class.  And his judgment on a butt of
Madeira or a hogshead of old West India rum was accounted second to
none in Second Westings.  His hands were long and white, and he used
them with impressive pulpit-gestures to point his carefully constructed
witticisms.  His presence was favourably regarded even by Barbara, who
appreciated his brains and breeding in spite of certain disastrous
associations which she could never quite erase from her memory.  His
wife was a non-significant, abundant, gently acquiescent pudding of a
woman, not without her utility as a background; and no one but Barbara
had the slightest objection to her presence.  But Barbara, having a
fierce impatience of nonentities in general unless they chanced to be
animals instead of human beings, felt critical when her eyes fell upon
the good lady's expansive red bosom.  She could not refrain from a
private grimace at Doctor John, and from whispering in his ear an acrid
comment on the inviting of a feather-bed to dinner.  She was greatly
disconcerted, however, when Doctor John roared aloud; and, crediting
the good lady with an intuition quite foreign to her placid substance,
her conscience smote her smartly for the unkind comment.  By calculated
chance she managed to let herself drift into the scant, unoccupied
corner of the sofa on which Mrs. Sawyer was sitting; and for the long
half-hour before dinner was served she beguiled the good lady most
successfully with thrilling descriptions of the presents which Glenowen
had brought.  Mistress Sawyer was dearly fond of dining; but so
enthralled did she become in the description of Mistress Mehitable's
French night-rail that she did not hear when dinner was announced.
Then Barbara escaped, with an appetite and a proud conscience; and
proceeded to deal Robert a cruel blow by seating herself as far away
from him as possible, between Glenowen and Doctor Jim, who wisely
avoided trouble by avoiding interference on the dejected youth's behalf.

Doctor John and Doctor Jim being both tenacious of old Connecticut
customs, the dinner began with a pudding of boiled Yokeag, or maize
meal, stuffed with raisins and suet, and eaten with a rich sauce.  Then
came fish and meats in lavish variety, with ripe old ale, followed by
elaborate confections, nuts and fruits, and a fiery, high-flavoured
Madeira.  With the Madeira came eloquence in conversation, and the
elaborate interchange of repartee and compliment deepened into a
discussion of the great matters which at that hour filled men's minds.
Barbara tried by daring gaieties to stem the tide of seriousness, which
seemed to her incongruous with the nuts and wine.  But she was swept
away, at first reluctantly, then willingly; for, during the past two
years, in the intervals of fighting her aunt and loving her cats, dogs,
and horses, she had studied history, both colonial and English, with a
characteristic, avid zeal, and now had a pretty foundation of theory
under her seemingly reckless conclusions.

In response to many interrogations, Glenowen had given at some length
and with temperate fairness an account of the latest difference in
Virginia between the royal governor and the stiff-necked House of
Burgesses.  As the result of this lamentable clash of authorities, the
House had been dissolved, the Old Dominion was being governed in a
fashion contrary to the terms of her long-cherished charter, and the
trade of the colony was disastrously shrunken, because her people were
refusing to import goods subject to duties which they had not
themselves imposed.  "When men and women begin to deny themselves
voluntarily for the sake of a principle, whether it be right or wrong,"
continued Glenowen, "it is time for those at the helm to consider
clearly the course on which they are steering the ship of state!"

"When kings lay hands on charters, free men rise up armed," said the
Reverend Jonathan Sawyer, rolling the polished phrase with a relish.
The sentiment sounded so at variance with those which he was commonly
held to cherish, that every one looked at him for a moment in silent
question.

"I speak but in the abstract," he explained, waving a white hand
airily.  "In the concrete the question baffles me, and I wait for
light!"

"I confess I am astounded at Virginia," said Doctor Jim, in a great
voice, solemn with reprobation.  "Virginia, colony of gentlemen, siding
with the rabble against the king!  Where are Virginia's aristocrats?"

"Would you impugn the gentility of Mr. Washington?" inquired Doctor
John, mildly.

"Yes, I would, John Pigeon," snapped Doctor Jim, "or of any one else
who did not show his gentility by his deeds.  And so would you, if you
were not a bit tarred with the same dirty brush as Mr. Washington."

"Don't you think," ventured Robert, with diffidence, "that our
grievance--for, of course, there is a grievance, Doctor Jim--is against
the English Parliament?  What is Parliament to us, that we should bow
down to it, when we have always had parliaments of our own?  What's
sacred in Parliament?  But the king,--that's a question of loyalty.
What's a gentleman without loyalty?  Surely the gentry must stand or
fall with the king!  Surely--"

"What nonsense, Robert!" interrupted Barbara, severely scornful,
indignant at him for his views, but grateful to him for the opportunity
to express her own with point.  "Who was it that whipped King John into
submission, and made him sign Magna Charta?  Was it the riffraff or the
gentry, I'd like to know?  Where there is a real aristocracy, Robert,
there is no need of kings!"

"Barbara, dear!" cried Mistress Mehitable, appalled at this sweeping
heterodoxy.  But the others laughed, with varying degrees of sympathy
or dissent.  Doctor Jim wagged his head.

"That's right, Robert, my boy," said he, sympathetically.  "You draw
her fire, and let me skirmish around.  That's the kind of thing I get
continually!"

"Is it true," inquired Doctor John, "that that clear and capacious
intellect, James Otis, is permanently clouded since the wound he got in
the affair with the king's officers?"

"''Tis true, 'tis pity; and pity 'tis, 'tis true!'" quoted Glenowen.
"A fine brain wasted in a smuggler's brawl.  I take it there's no
wisdom to waste, among either Tories or Whigs, these days,--for these
days are big with Fate!"

"Uncle Bob!" said Barbara, fixing him with a wide, level look, "what
are you, Whig or Tory?  You seem so careful!"

Glenowen laughed.

"You insist on pinning me down to it, do you, saucy hussy?  Well, I
wish I knew!  I think there are some hundred thousand or more of honest
men in these colonies who are trying to find out which they really are,
right to the bone.  But I can tell you in part.  For one thing, I am an
Englishman, just as much an Englishman here as if I lived in England!
Do you know what that means?"

"No!" said Barbara, bluntly, dissatisfied at this caution when she
counted on a hot partisanship.

"It means that I will not be taxed save by my own consent!  I am too
good an Englishman to let Englishmen in England treat me as less than
an Englishman because I am a colonist.  But I am no leveller.  I have
no patience with the doctrine of those sentimental Frenchmen who
promulgate the palpable folly that all men are born equal.  I am loyal
to the king,--or, perhaps, rather, I should say, to the throne, which
seems to me just now unfortunate in its occupant.  But I will not pay a
tax imposed by those who have no right to tax me!  I would fight first.
I stand on Magna Charta."

"Then you are a patriot now, Uncle Bob," said Barbara, fairly
satisfied, "and before long you will be a rebel!  You wait and see!
You're all afraid to say it, but before long the colonies will be
fighting King George!"

There were exclamations of protest from every one, even Doctor John,
the avowed and consistent Whig,--every one but Glenowen, who smiled
thoughtfully at Barbara's rashness.

"Tut!  Tut!  You little fire-eater!" exclaimed Doctor John.  "You
mustn't bring discredit on your party!  We will fight with
constitutional weapons for our just rights, and bring that pig-headed
George to his senses.  We must teach him to reign properly, and not to
meddle, that's all.  No throat-cuttings in the English family!"

"It would break my heart to fight against my countrymen," said Robert,
earnestly.  "But if they should be so misguided as to take up arms
against the king, I should have no doubt as to my duty.  The king may
be unjust; but if so, the injustice will doubtless be remedied by and
by.  But better, surely, suffer some injustice than be traitor to your
king."  This speech took courage on Robert's part, with Barbara's eyes
blazing scorn upon him.  But he looked into vacancy, and made his
confession of faith regardless of consequence.

"You fatigue me, Robert!" said Barbara.  "Would you rather betray your
country than your king?  Was the country made for the king?  What's a
king?  Greece and Rome did pretty well without them!"

"What's this stuff and nonsense about fighting?" broke in Doctor Jim,
ignoring Barbara's argument as the chatter of a child.  "Stuff and
nonsense!  The notion of our clodhoppers standing up to the king's
soldiers, who have whipped the armies of the world!  It is easy for
demagogues to rant, but they'd find it still easier to run!"

"I fear you all underrate the peril--except this sauce-box here!" said
Glenowen, soberly.  "And you, Pigeon, are like the king's purblind
advisers in underrating the spirit of the people.  It is not a noisy,
but a sullen temper that seems to be spreading.  And clodhoppers are
not all cowards!  And those who call themselves patriots are not all
clodhoppers."

"But who among our people can be so suicidal as to think of war?" asked
the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer, taking a contemplative pinch of snuff.
"To fight a hopeless battle, and in inevitable defeat lose all!"

"It is not the people who think of war as yet!" said Glenowen.  "But
the arrogant soldiery, the blindly self-confident officials, the
insolent English officers, who seem chosen not to conciliate but to
enrage.  So many of the officers sent out here do dishonour to the
repute of English gentlemen.  They seem to look on colonists as a
subject race.  I have seen them, in New York and in Boston, treat our
ladies with an insufferable condescension, such as they would never
have dared to show toward the same ladies in England.  And I have seen
them studiously insolent to colonial gentlemen of birth and breeding
far above their own, as if the accident of being born in the mother
country instead of in America made them another race.  Such conduct,
while unimportant in itself, rankles deeply, and sets the two branches
of the race in antagonism.  Personal affront is mightier than argument,
and men cannot overlook a slight to their women."

"I should think not!" cried Robert, loftily.  "I would shed the last
drop of my blood for the king, but I should not let the king himself
put slight upon one of our ladies!  I wonder you could endure to see
such things, Mr. Glenowen!"

"I did not!" confessed Glenowen.  "I have had several differences of
late!"

Barbara's eyes sparkled, and her lips parted eagerly over her white
teeth.

"You fought them, Uncle Bob!  You fought them!" she cried.  "Real
duels!  How many did you fight?  Oh, how lovely!"

"Two, sweetheart, I'm sorry to say!" replied Glenowen, modestly.  "It
was very inconvenient and annoying, because I have so many
responsibilities and could not afford to be skewered."

"And how did you come off?" asked Doctor John, leaning far over the
table in his eagerness.

"Nothing but a scratch or two, thanks to the righteousness of my
cause!" said Glenowen.

"And the other chaps?" inquired Doctor Jim.  "Doubtless they were
low-bred scoundrels, whom London would have none of!  I hope you
pricked 'em!"

"I wish I could feel sure that their manners had mended as well as
their wounds!" laughed Glenowen, gaily.

Then, to Barbara's ill-concealed disgust, Mistress Mehitable led the
way into the drawing-room, leaving the men to smoke long pipes and
thrash out problems of constitutional law to the accompaniment of the
fiery old Madeira.  In the drawing-room she was moody and silent,
grudging all the arguments that were going on without her.  And when
Robert, who felt himself too unseasoned to stay with his elders beyond
one pipe and an extra glass, followed the ladies at a decent interval,
Barbara received him far from graciously.  His last speech, in comment
on the insolence of the officers, had mollified her a little, but she
felt a smart resentment at his presumption in maintaining views so
opposite to hers.

"I should think you would stay with the other men," she said, tartly.

"I couldn't stay a moment longer," said Robert, gallantly, "for longing
to be with the most fair if _not_ the most gracious of ladies!"

"You had better go back and learn something about your duty to your
country, by listening to Doctor John and Uncle Bob!" she counselled,
rudely.

Robert bowed low, having himself just now well in hand, though his
heart was sore.

"I take great pleasure in listening to them, as well as to Doctor Jim,
who also seems intelligent!" said he.

"Oh," exclaimed Barbara, much nettled.  "Doctor Jim talks a lot of
nonsense just to tease me; but he doesn't mean it,--at least, not all
of it.  Besides, he is always interesting.  But you, with your pedantic
stuff about loyalty and kings and treason, I don't find you interesting
at all!  Please go and talk to Aunt Hitty and Mrs. Sawyer, and let me
read.  Perhaps I'll be able to forget what you said at dinner!"

"It is my pleasure to obey your lightest wish, fair mistress!" said
Robert, inwardly indignant, but outwardly amused at her ill-humour.  He
went at once to the other side of the room, and exerted himself to such
good purpose that soon Mistress Mehitable's rare and silvery laughter
grew frequent, against an almost ceaseless gurgle of content from Mrs.
Sawyer.  Robert was completely absorbed, while Barbara's interest in
her book was vexatiously divided.  After half an hour she got up and
left the room, but he never noticed her going.  Fifteen minutes later
she came back, with the gray and white "Mr. Grim" on her shoulder; and
he never noticed her coming, so intent he was, and so successful, in
his task of amusing Aunt Hitty and Mrs. Sawyer.  This was carrying
obedience a little too far, and it fretted Barbara.  Then the men came
in from the dining-room, smoky, and a little more fluent than ordinary,
and Robert was ousted from his post by Glenowen and Doctor John.  But
instead of returning now to Barbara, he attached himself with an
engrossed air to Doctor Jim; and Barbara found herself established in
her nook with the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer.  To be sure, his Reverence
made himself most agreeable, flattering her by the attention he would
have paid to a grown woman whom he considered intelligent.  He
appreciated her brains, and acknowledged the lengthening of her
petticoats; and his attitude was a gratifying proof to her that she
really had grown to be a personage, rather than a child, within the
past few days.  But she found herself unable to concentrate her wits on
what he was saying, and passed a rather grievous hour trying to look
the attention which her brain was not giving.  When, at last, Doctor
Sawyer arose to go, she felt that he must think her the most stupid
girl in the world.  Doctor Sawyer, on the contrary, enchanted by the
rapt silence and appreciation with which apparently she had hung upon
his words, went away with the conviction that she was a young woman of
astonishing intellect, whom they had, indeed, wronged greatly in
striving to force her into the narrow Second Westings mould.  From that
hour, when she had watched him with glowing eyes, but hearing scarce a
word of all his wit, the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer was one of Barbara's
staunchest champions.

When she turned from saying good-bye to Mrs. Sawyer, Barbara found
Robert standing close beside her in the hall door, apparently absorbed
in contemplation of Mrs. Sawyer's billowy, retreating figure.  Barbara
touched him on the arm, and he turned to her with a quick apologetic
courtesy, as if his thoughts had been far off.

"What were you thinking of, so far, far away?" she asked, feeling
somewhat left out and forlorn.

"Why--why--I was thinking--" he stammered, as if unwilling to say, yet
unready with an evasion.

"Oh, you needn't tell me, if it is so embarrassing as all that!" said
Barbara, tossing her head.  "I was going to say, that after all the
talk and the excitement, I think the loveliest thing would be some
fresh, sweet air, and the smell of the woods!"

"It would be, indeed--with you!" said Robert.

"Then we will ride till supper-time.  No,--there is a moon.  We will
ride after supper.  You may escort me if you want to!  Do you?"

Robert drew a long breath before he answered--and to Barbara the answer
was sufficient.

"Yes, I want to!" he said, simply.  "I was afraid I was to go away
without really seeing you at all!"

"Go away!" exclaimed Barbara, lifting her brows in sharp displeasure.
"What do you mean, Robert?"

"I must go back to Gault House to-morrow morning, without fail, for I
start for New York the day following, to be gone all winter."

"Oh!" said Barbara; and turned and led the way back into the
drawing-room, leaving Robert completely mystified as to the meaning of
that noncommittal interjection.



CHAPTER XXI.

After supper, when Barbara came down dressed for riding and calmly told
Robert she was ready, Mistress Mehitable gasped, and looked at
Glenowen, expecting that he would meet the emergency by making a third.
As he seemed unconscious of the need of action, she shot an appealing
glance at Doctor Jim and Doctor John in turn.  But they only grinned
inscrutably.  Then she lifted her hands slightly and let them drop into
her lap, as if to say, "Bear witness, Heaven, that I am helpless!" and
thus she stifled the voice of protest in her bosom.  She had given
Barbara freedom, and the responsibility that goes with freedom; and she
would not take back the gift.  But it was one of the notable victories
of Mistress Mehitable's career, when she forced herself to sit in
smiling acquiescence while Barbara flew full in the face of all
convention.  Amos, meanwhile, had brought the horses to the door; and
when the two young riders were gone, the hoof-beats sounding in slow
cadence down the drive, Glenowen said to her, with an understanding
smile, "You did right, sweet lady.  'Tis a filly, that, to be ridden
without the curb.  Give her her head, and you'll have no great trouble!"

"I feel sure you are right, Mr. Glenowen," said Mistress Mehitable,
sweetly.  "But you may well believe it was a hard lesson for me, a Ladd
of Connecticut, to learn.  And I fear I have not more than half learned
it yet!"

"You can learn anything you have a mind to, Mehitable," said Doctor
Jim, with emphasis, "in the time it would take another woman to learn
the A, B, C of it!"


Neither Barbara nor Robert spoke till the horses emerged upon the
highway.  Then Barbara cried:

"Quick!  Quick!  I want the wind in my face!"

With two miles of good road before them, they set their faces to the
night breeze and their horses to the run, and raced madly down the
moonlight, their shadows dancing long and black before them.  The
saddle-leathers creaked a low, exhilarating music, and the galloping
swung like a pulse, and the roadside fence and shrubs fled by, and the
world was white in the moonlight.  And still there was no speech, save
a soft word now and then to the rejoicing horses, whose ears turned
back for it sympathetically from time to time.

At length they came to rougher ground, and slowed to a gentle canter.
Then Robert noticed a narrow wood-road turning off to the right,
vaulted over with lofty trees, and mystical with moon-shadows.

"Where does that road go, my lady?" he inquired.

"Where we are going!" answered Barbara, turning into it at a walk.
Then, as if she thought the answer too whimsical, she continued, "It
will take us back to the village by a longer and more beautiful way!"

"Any longer way would be the more beautiful way!" said Robert.

The reply interested Barbara, and in musing over it she forgot to say
anything more.

The wood-road, thick-carpeted with turf and moss, muffled the horses'
hoofs, and an enchanted silence sank into the hearts of the young
riders.  Here and there the woods gave back for a little clearing with
a lonely cabin; and the moonlight flooded in; and around the edges of
the clearing the thick-leaved branches seemed afloat, bubbles of glass
and silver on a sea of dream.  Then, again, the fairy-lit glooms,
haunted but unterrifying!  And Barbara began to think repentantly of
her harshness toward Robert.  Soon the road dipped sharply, and crossed
a wide, shallow brook, upon whose pebbles the horses' hoofs splashed a
light music.  Here they let the horses drink a mouthful, because
Barbara said the waters of that brook were especially sweet.  When they
emerged on the other side, Barbara discovered she wanted a drink of it
herself, so sovereign were the virtues of that water.

"How shall I bring it to you?" asked Robert, instantly dismounting, and
casting a hasty glance about him in quest of a birch-tree, from whose
bark to make a cup.

"Make me a cup of your hands, of course!" said Barbara.  "Give me your
reins.  I must have the water, at once!"

Robert removed his leather gloves, rinsed his hands in the sliding
sand, and then, with mighty painstaking care, got at least two
mouthfuls of the crystal uplifted to Barbara's lips.  As she sipped,
and light as a moth her lips touched his hands, his heart seemed to
turn over in his breast, and he could not find voice for a word.
Silently he remounted, and in silence they ascended the slope from the
brook.  His apparent unresponsiveness puzzled Barbara; but an awakening
intuition suggested to her that it was perhaps not so uncomplimentary
as it might seem; and she was not displeased.

For half an hour they walked their horses thus, Robert sometimes laying
a light hand on Black Prince's shoulder or satiny flank, but never
daring to touch so much as Barbara's skirt.  Then they saw the highway
opening ahead of them, a ribbon of moonlit road.  Barbara reined up.

"I think my saddle is slipping a little," said she.  "I don't believe
Amos can have girt it tight enough!"

"Why, I--" began Robert, about to remind her that, like a good
horseman, he had himself looked well to the girth before letting her
mount.  But he cut the words short on his tongue, sprang from his
saddle, and busied himself intently with Black Prince's straps.  When
he raised his head, Barbara smiled down upon him, and reached him her
left hand, saying sweetly:

"Thank you, Robert.  You are really very nice, you know!"

Whereupon Robert bent abruptly, kissed the instep of the little
riding-boot which stuck out from under her skirt, and swung into his
saddle.

The action thrilled Barbara somewhat, but at the same time piqued her
interest; and the interest dominated.

"Why did you do that, Robert?" she asked, curiously, looking at him
with wide, frank eyes.  "I didn't mind it a bit, you know!  But it's
funny, to kiss my old shoe!"

Robert gave a little unsteady laugh.

"It was homage, my lady," said he.  "Just my pledge of fealty, before I
go.  You forget--I have the misfortune to displease you by being a
monarchist!"

Barbara was silent a moment.  She was sorry he had reminded her of
their differences of opinion.  But, on the other hand, homage was not
unpleasant; and her scorn of kings did not of necessity extend to
queens.

"_Why_ do you go?" she asked.

"My grandmother is sending me at a moment's notice, to represent her in
a law-scrape which some property of hers--of ours--in New York has
suddenly got into.  You know that, now that I am through college, I
have to get down to work at once in New York, and fit myself to look
after our estates.  But I didn't dream I should have to go so soon!"

"I am sorry!" said Barbara, simply.  "We were having such a pleasant
time together!"

"Were we, dear lady?" asked Robert.

"_Weren't_ we?" demanded Barbara.

"I am broken-hearted at going.  I dare not tell you how
broken-hearted!" replied Robert, gravely.  "But until this ride I have
been rather unhappy to-day, for you have several times made me feel
that you were displeased at my coming!"

Now Barbara hated explanations, and she hated still more to be accused
justly.  Urging Black Prince to a canter, she retorted:

"I have no patience with you, Robert.  I have been an angel to you.
Didn't I ride almost half-way home with you, when you were here before?
And now, haven't I let you come this _perfect_ ride with me,--when I
know Aunt Hitty thought I oughtn't?  And you don't _deserve_ that I
should even let you talk to me one minute, when you are such a stupid,
bigoted Tory."

Robert thought of many things to say in answer to this dashing flank
attack; but each answer seemed to carry unknown perils, so he kept a
prudent silence.  After some time Barbara spoke again, mistaking his
silence for contrition.

"Robert," she began, in a voice of thrilling persuasion, "won't you do
something I very much want you to do?"

"I can think of no other pleasure to compare with the pleasure of
pleasing you, my lady!" he answered, ardently.

"Then, will you not _really study_, without prejudice, the things that
are at the bottom of the trouble between us and King George?  You have
such a good brain, Robert, I cannot think you will be on the side of a
king against your own country, when you have fully informed yourself!"

Robert looked troubled.

"I can honestly promise," said he, "to study the question still more
carefully than I have already.  But I fear you will still consider me
obstinate, even then.  If I could imagine myself disloyal to the king,
I should not consider myself worthy to profess myself your ever loyal
and devoted servant, fair mistress!"

"To serve me, Robert, you must serve your country!"

"And to serve my country, most dear lady, I must serve the king!"
persisted Robert.

Barbara set her lips tight together, and galloped on.

"I wish you better wisdom as you grow older!" she said, coldly, after
some minutes.

"The best wisdom I may ever hope to attain will be all too little to
serve you with, my lady!" answered Robert, half gallantly, yet all in
earnest.  And Barbara could not but vouchsafe a reluctant smile in
acknowledgment of so handsome a compliment.  Thereafter there was
little more said.  They rode through the village, past the lighted inn,
up the dim moonlit road to the porch of Westings House.  But when
Robert, with a sort of bold deference, lifted her from her saddle,
holding her, perhaps, just a shade more closely than was requisite, she
felt in a forgiving mood.  She knew that she liked him, she knew she
had been unpleasant to him, she was most sorry he was going away; and
what were old kings anyway that friends should be at loggerheads about
them?  Answering her own thought, she impulsively pulled off her glove,
and gave Robert her bare hand.

"We will be friends, won't we, king or no king?"

And the radiance of the smile she lifted to him, as he held her thin
little hand in both his own, nearly turned the poor boy's head.  He
bent over her--and just saved himself, with a gasp, from kissing the
ignorantly provocative mouth so rashly upraised.  But he recovered his
balance, in part, and compensated himself by kissing the hand
passionately,--fingers and soft palm, and rosy oval nails, and
wrist,--in a fashion that seemed to Barbara very singular.  At length
she withdrew the hand with a soft laugh, saying, composedly:

"There, don't you think that will do, Robert?  You did not kiss Mrs.
Sawyer's hand like that, did you?"

"Of course I did!" declared Robert.  "There was more of it to kiss, so
I kissed it more!"

"Now you are horrid!" she cried, and ran past him into the house.

But when he said good-bye to them all on the porch the next morning,
and set forth on his long ride back to Gault House, Robert carried with
him in the pocket over his heart what Barbara considered the highest
token of her favour, her well-studied, intimately marked,
oft-slept-with copy of Sir Philip Sidney's sonnets.



CHAPTER XXII.

The life of the individual, within its limits, is apt to present a sort
of microcosmic image of the life of the nation.  There comes a period
of stress, when the germs of change and growth are sown.  Then,
apparently without reason, time drags.  The seasons roll apathetically
in their rut, and all is done as it was done last year.  But in the
deeps the great impulses are maturing, the great forces are gathering.
The hour comes that looses them.  Then in an instant, it seems almost
without warning, the quiet heart is in an insurrection, the people of
ploughshares is become a people of swords.  With a life, or with a
nation, the events of a day may crowd ten volumes, or the annals of ten
years leave a page but meanly filled.  Significance is all.  We live in
our great moments.  The rest is a making ready.

That blue and yellow morning of sweet winds, when Robert rode away from
Second Westings, and Barbara, looking after him, felt three-fourths
regretful for his going and one-fourth for her dear copy of Sir Philip
Sidney's sonnets, was a morning in the late summer of 1769.  He was to
have returned the following June.  But neither that June nor the next,
nor the next following nor the one thereafter, did he return to the
quiet villages of Connecticut and the banks of the great river that had
given him birth.  From year's end to year's end he found himself tied
to the desk in his mother's brother's office, the office with the coat
of arms over the door, and the diamond windows looking out on Bowling
Green.  He worked faithfully; but, being of the king's party yet
sturdily American, a loyalist yet alive to the grievances of the
people, a Tory yet not intolerant of views hostile to his own, an
aristocrat, yet unfettered by the traditions of his clique and clan, he
had all the social diversion that the gay, extravagant, rich, and
foppish little city in the toe of Manhattan Island could afford.
Wealthy, well-born, courtly, and kindly, the garlanded snares of the
mammas of Manhattan were laid thickly but vainly for his feet.  He was
squire to all the fair; but not one, unless by some of those thrilling
fictions with which maids triumph over their rivals, could claim aught
of him that was exclusive or committal.  And he knew Sir Philip
Sidney's sonnets by heart.

About once in two months, or thereabouts, went a letter to Second
Westings, full of coloured comment on the doings of the city,--of
remarks sometimes stilted and sometimes illuminating on the latest
books from London,--of elaborate compliments that concealed rather than
revealed the emotion glowing behind them,--but of the questions of the
day, of Penal Acts, Port Bills, Tea Duties, Coercion, and Continental
Congresses, no word.  Robert had fulfilled to the letter and the spirit
Barbara's demand that he study minutely the points at issue between the
colonies and the king.  He had realised the blindness and folly of the
king, he had acknowledged that the colonies were right to resist, by
every constitutional means, taxation by a parliament in which they were
not represented.  But his loyalty to the throne was unshaken by his
regret that the king should be unjust.  He tried to believe that the
counsels of the great Englishmen whom he adored,--Pitt and Burke, the
friends of America,--would open the eyes of George III. in time to
prevent the cruel arbitrament of war.  But--should it be war,--well,
his ancestors had bled cheerfully for Charles Stuart when they knew he
was in the wrong, and Robert felt that he would maintain, at whatever
cost, the tradition of his ancestors.  To be loyal to a good king, a
king in the right, where was the distinguishing merit of that?  But to
be loyal to king in the wrong, and at great cost,--that, to Robert,
seemed loyalty worth the name.

Meanwhile to Barbara, in her green world of Second Westings, life
seemed to have got caught in a drowsy eddy.  The months went by in
uneventful circuit, for all the echoes of great doings that came up
from time to time and stirred the tranquil air.  She rode, canoed,
read, studied spasmodically, bullied Amos, loved the animals, distilled
strange essences, repudiated the needle and the crochet-hook, as of
old.  As of old, she had wild whims, repentances, indignations, dreams,
and ardours born of dreams.  But all these things had grown paler, in a
way, had lost something of their bite and vividness.  It was as if Fate
had turned a screw and changed the focus.  Moreover, she could no
longer, as before, believe each mood eternal and all-important.  She
had a consciousness that there were other interests lurking in life,
and this kept her in an attitude of waiting.  But the love between her
and Doctor John and Doctor Jim lost nothing in this waiting time, but
grew as Barbara grew in stature and self-knowledge; and she lost
nothing of her delight in the friendship of Mrs. Debby Blue, to whose
cabin she would flee about once a month, when the vagrant blood,
growing riotous in her breast, would make her tolerant of no company
but that of the shrewd old outlaw dame.  As for her aunt, Barbara's
love for the blue-eyed little Puritan spinster, born that crucial
morning of Mistress Mehitable's unexpected forbearance and seed-cakes,
flourished and ripened with not one serious setback.  Of course, a
complete understanding between two such opposite tempers could not
spring up in a day; but Mistress Mehitable was nothing less than heroic
in the consistency with which she held herself to her new policy; and
Barbara, having been astonished into an incongruous devotion, was ready
enough to make sacrifices on the new altar.  Whenever the atmosphere
began to feel overcharged between them, they would say the nicest
things they could think of to each other, and then, with much ingenuity
of chance, keep apart for two or three days.  In this way new
misunderstandings were avoided; till gradually the natural love between
them set deep root into their hearts, and grew strong enough to dare
such tempestuous flurries of the mood as cannot but blow up once in
awhile when two women are living alone together.

But while her own life had seemed to have grown so tranquil that she
wondered if things had forgotten to happen, Barbara knew that in the
outside world it was different, so different as to make her stillness
seem like sleep.  In the outside world she knew events were crowding
and clamouring upon one another's heels, under a sky of strange
portent.  She kept herself informed.  She wrangled lovingly with Doctor
Jim; she argued tactfully, though hopelessly, with Mistress Mehitable;
she debated academically with the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer; she ranted
joyously with Doctor John, and Squire Gillig, and Lawyer Perley, and
old Debby, all four patriots, and the last two frank rebels.  For the
sake of finding out the drift of Second Westings sentiment, she once in
awhile emerged from her prickly exclusiveness to smile upon her fellows
of quality, and was surprised to find them mostly patriots in their
way, with souls that strove to rise above embroidery and tatting.  As
for the common people, the workmen and apprentices and their kind, she
got at their hearts easily in her impulsive fashion, and found the
majority of them slowly heating to rebellion.  In Amos, her devoted
Amos, however, she unearthed a fiery royalist, ready to out-thunder
Doctor Jim himself; so she ceased to do Amos the favour of bullying
him, and Amos grew at times too dejected to care much about King
George.  The results of these observations she conveyed minutely in
frequent letters to her Uncle Bob, who was now committed to the
so-called 'Continental' side.  To Robert Gault, also, in his office
looking out on Bowling Green, Barbara would write about once in three
months.  But in these letters she wrote of the woods and the winds, of
what blooms were out in the river-meadows, of what birds were nesting
or winging,--and never a word of what was in all men's mouths.  She was
waiting for Robert to declare himself converted to her views, after
digesting the course of study to which she had set him.  And she
refused to admit the possibility of a clear-headed gentleman, as she
knew him to be, being so misguided as to cling to opinions different
from her own.  To her mind Truth was a crystal of which but one facet
could be lighted at a time.  One side of a question was apt to present
itself to her with such brilliancy that all the other sides were thrown
into obscurity together.  As for the flamboyant Toryism of Doctor Jim,
she regarded it with an invincible indulgence, as one of those things
preordained from the first,--a thing which she could not even regret,
because without it Doctor Jim, who was in every way adorable, would be
so much the less himself.  Who cared for an eccentricity or two in a
being so big of body and soul as Doctor Jim?  But she could not help
being glad that Doctor John's eccentricity, to which she would have
been equally indulgent in case of need, took a different form from
Doctor Jim's.  The Toryism of her Aunt Hitty she regarded as a part of
the lady's religion, and with that Barbara would never dream of
meddling.  By an unspoken understanding, she and Mistress Mehitable had
agreed to leave each other's sanctuaries unprofaned.

By the time of the "Boston Tea-Party," a little before Christmas in
1773, Second Westings was so established in its stiff-necked, though
indolent, Whiggery, that Doctor Jim and Mistress Mehitable sat
enthroned, as it were, in the lonely isolation of their Toryism, with
Amos proudly humble at their feet.  The Reverend Jonathan Sawyer, whose
interest in the controversy had been almost wholly academic from the
first, and who cultivated on all matters outside his creed a breadth of
mind to compensate for his narrowness within it, had judged it right to
follow his flock where he could not lead it, and had amused himself by
letting Barbara--of whose conquest he was genuinely proud--convert him
to her doctrines.  He was now a constitutional patriot, a temperate and
conservative champion of colonial privilege, as opposed to kingly
prerogative.  When came the soul-stirring news of how the valiant men
of Boston Town had confronted the dread tea-chests in their harbour,
and torn them piecemeal, and cast their fragrant contents into the
tide, then no soul in Second Westings but Doctor Jim, Mistress
Mehitable, and Amos, would drink a drop of tea--except in private.
Certain compromising spirits, anxious to be both patriotic and
comfortable, had laid in a supply betimes, and so without public
scandal could dally in secret with the uninebriating cup.  But Barbara
despised the alien leaf at all times; and Doctor John preferred hard
cider or New England rum; and old Debby had a potent concoction of
"yarbs" which made the Chinese visitor insipid; so Mistress Mehitable
and Doctor Jim were free to victual their strongholds with nearly all
the tea in Second Westings.  Over the achievement of the Boston heroes
Mistress Mehitable was gently sarcastic and Doctor Jim boisterously
derisive; while Doctor John exclaimed, "Tut!  Tut! such child's play
does no good!  Such mummery!  Tut!  Tut!" and Squire Gillig, ardent
"Continental" but cautious merchant, said, "Such wicked waste!  There's
a lot of good money gone!  They should have confiscated the stuff, an'
hid it, an' sold it by an' by cheap, along through the back townships!"

But to Barbara it seemed that the act was one shrewdly devised and
likely to bring matters to a head.  Her reading of it seemed justified
a few months later, when the port of Boston was closed, as a punishment
for rebellious contumacy,--and the charter of Massachusetts
abrogated,---and a military governor, with four English regiments,
established in the haughty city by the Charles,--and the capital of the
province removed to its ancient rival, Salem.

The news of the billeting of the troops on Boston, and the removal of
the capital to Salem, came with a shock to Westings House.  It came in
a copy of the _Connecticut Gazette_, delivered at Mistress Mehitable's
dinner-table while she and Barbara were entertaining Doctor John and
Doctor Jim, Squire Gillig, and the Reverend Jonathan and Mrs. Sawyer.
It had been a gay repast, but when Mistress Mehitable, craving
indulgence by reason of the times, read out the Boston news, a cloud
descended upon the company.  Squire Gillig began to say something
bitter, forgetful of Mistress Mehitable's sentiments, but was stopped
by a level stare from the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer's authoritative
eyes.  Then Doctor John spoke--no longer droll and jibing, but with the
gravity of prescience, and turning by instinct to his brother.

"Jim!  Jim!" said he, "this is going to mean _war_.  I see it!  I see
it!  The people will not stand much more,--and more is coming, as sure
as my name's John Pigeon.  Your precious king's gone mad.  He's going
to force it on us!"

Doctor Jim shook his great head sorrowfully.  "I am sorry for this,
John.  I think the king is not well advised in this--on my word I do.
It is too harsh, too sudden.  But the people won't fight.  They may
riot, and talk,--but they won't fight.  We are too strong for you,
John.  There will be no war.  That would be absurd!"

"There will be war!" repeated Doctor John, still looking into his
brother's eyes.  The two men had forgotten every one else.  "There will
be war, if not this year, the next.  The people will fight,--and that
soon!"

"Then the people will be beaten, and that soon, John!" retorted Doctor
Jim, firmly, but in a low voice.

"The king's armies will be beaten, Jim!  You mark my words!  But it is
going to be a terrible thing!  A horrible and unrighteous thing!  There
will be dividing of houses, Jim!"

There were several seconds of silence, a heavy, momentous silence, and
Barbara held her breath, a strange ache at her throat.  Then Doctor Jim
brought down his fist upon the table, and cried in his full voice:

"A dividing of houses, maybe,--but not a dividing of hearts, John
Pigeon, never a dividing of hearts, eh, what? eh, what?"

He reached out his hand across the table, and Doctor John seized it in
a mighty grip.  The long years of love and trust between them spoke
suddenly in their strong, large faces.

"No, never a dividing of hearts, Jim, in the days that are to come,
when our swords go different ways, and we see each other not for a
time!"

Then their hands dropped apart, and both laughed uneasily, as they
glanced with a shamefaced air about the table.

"Tut!  Tut!" said Doctor John.  "That precious king of yours bids fair
to make life damnably serious, Jim.  Send him away from the table at
once!"

But the diversion came too late; for Barbara was weeping heedlessly,
and Mistress Mehitable, with her white chin quivering, was dabbing her
handkerchief to her eyes with an air of vexation at her own weakness;
while good Mrs. Sawyer gazed at them both in wide-eyed, uncomprehending
wonder.

"If there's a war," sobbed Barbara, "_you sha'nt_ go to it, either of
you!  We need you, _here_.  And--and--you'd both get killed, I know!
You're both so splendid and big and tall,--and you wouldn't--take care
of yourselves, and the bullets _couldn't_ miss you!"

At this picture Mistress Mehitable grew pale, where she had been red,
and cast a frightened look at Doctor Jim, then at Doctor John,--then
back at Doctor Jim.

"Barbara's right, I think," she said, with an air of having weighed the
question quite dispassionately.  "You should not leave your patients,
on any account.  There are so many men who can destroy life, so few who
can save it.  Physicians have no right to go soldiering."

"That's just it, honey!" cried Barbara, flashing radiant eyes through
her tears.  "Oh, what a wise little Aunt Hitty you are!  What would we
ever do without you!"  And her apprehensions laid themselves obediently
to rest.

"Well, well!" cried Doctor Jim.  "What are two graceless old dogs like
us, that the dear eyes of the fairest of their sex should shed tears on
our account?  We should go and kick each other up and down the length
of Second Westings for the rest of the afternoon, for causing such
precious tears,--eh, what, John Pigeon?"

"'Tis the least we can do, Jim!" said Doctor John.  "But now I come to
think of it, we needn't arrange to go to the war before there's a war
to go to, after all."

"And when the war does come, you'll both stay right here, where you
belong!" decreed Barbara, holding the question well settled.

"Who knows what may happen?" cried Doctor Jim.  "You stiff-necked
rebels may experience a change of heart, and then where's your war?"

"Barbara, sweet baggage," said Doctor John, wagging his forefinger at
her in the way that even now, at her nineteen years, seemed to her as
irresistibly funny as she had thought it when a child, "I cannot let
this anxiety oppress your tender young spirit.  Set your heart at rest.
If there be war, Jim Pigeon may go a-soldiering and get shot as full of
holes as a colander, and I'll do my duty by staying at home and looking
after his patients.  There'll be a chance of some of them getting well,
then!  I've never yet had a fair chance to save Jim Pigeon's patients.
_I_ won't desert a lovely maiden in distress, to seek the bubble
reputation at the cannon's mouth!"

"How can you lie so shamelessly, John Pigeon?" demanded Doctor Jim.
"I'll lay you a barrel of Madeira you'll be leaning against the butt of
a musket before I am!"

"Done!" said Doctor John.

"I think you are both perfectly horrid!" cried Barbara.



CHAPTER XXIII.

That day of the news was a boundary day.  It set sharp limit to
Barbara's years of calm.  From that day events came quickly, change
pressed hard on change, and no day, for her, was quite like its
predecessor.  A veering of the current had snatched her from her
shining eddy, and swept her forth into the tide of life.

On the morning following the dinner, while still alive to a sense of
menace in the air, Barbara received a letter from her uncle.  As she
read it, her eyes sparkled, her heart bounded.  Then, as she passed it
to Mistress Mehitable, and Mistress Mehitable took it with cheerful
interest, her heart sank.  She felt a pang of self-reproach, because
she found herself willing to go away and leave her aunt uncompanioned
in the solitude of Westings House.  Glenowen had undertaken certain
business, in the way of searching records and examining titles, which
was driving him at once to New York, and bade fair, he said, to keep
him there for upwards of a year.  He wanted Barbara to go with him.
And Barbara's pulses bounded.  There, she thought, were the lights and
the dances, the maskings and the music, the crossing of swords and
wits, the gallants and the compliments and the triumphs, which she was
longing to taste.  Mistress Mehitable's face grew grave as she read the
letter.  It grew pale as she looked up and saw by Barbara's face the
hunger in her heart.  Mistress Mehitable had a vision of what Westings
House would be, emptied of the wilful, flashing, vivid, restless spirit
which for the past few years had been its life.  But she was unselfish.
She would not say a word to lessen Barbara's delight.

"It will be lovely for you, dear!" said she, with hearty sympathy.
"You are just at the age, too, when it will mean most to you, and be of
most value to you.  I am so glad, dear!"

But Barbara had seen the look in her face, and gave no heed to her
brave words.

"I _can't_ go, honey, and leave you here alone!" she cried,
impetuously, jumping up and hugging the little lady with a vehemence
born of the effort to convince herself that what she said was true.
She felt that she could and must go; but that the joy of going would be
more than damped--drenched, indeed, with tears--at the thought of how
much Mistress Mehitable would miss her, of how empty Westings House
would be without her, of the scar her absence would leave in their
little world.  With her intense individuality, her lively
self-concentration, it almost seemed to her as if their little world
could not even attempt to go on without her, but must sleep dully
through her absence.

"Of course you will go, Barbara dear!" said Mistress Mehitable,
decidedly.  "It is only natural and right you should want to go, and
go.  I cannot pretend that it makes me very happy to think of doing
without you for a whole year.  No words can tell you how I shall miss
you, dear child.  But I should be a thousand times more unhappy if I
were to feel myself standing in the way of your happiness.  No, no,
indeed, don't talk any nonsense about not going.  Besides, your Uncle
Bob has the right to have you with him for a while."

"Oh, I wish you could go, too!" sighed Barbara.  "_Can't_ you?  _Then_
it _would_ be lovely!"

Mistress Mehitable laughed softly.  "Not very well just now, child!"
she answered, assuming a gaiety.  "Perhaps some other time it might be
managed.  Now, we'll have to plan about getting you ready,--and your
uncle has only left us a wretched little week to do it in!"

So it was settled, without any stress or argument whatever, that
Barbara should go to New York with Uncle Bob just eight days from that
day; and so was decreed, with such effort as it might take to order a
breakfast, nothing less than a revolution in Barbara's life.

While the two women were discussing weighty problems of dressmaking,
lingerie, and equipment various,--what should be made at Second
Westings, and what should be left to New York shops and the tried taste
of Uncle Bob,--Doctor Jim came in, less robustious and breezy than his
wont, his eyes big with momentous tidings.  He kissed the ladies'
hands, and sat down thoughtfully opposite, scanning their faces from
under bushy, drawn brows.  They both looked at him with expectant
inquiry.

"You were most intent on whatever you were talking about!" said he,
presently.  "I hope I don't interrupt!  May I hear all about it?  Or
should I run away, eh, what?"

"You never interrupt,--or if you do, you are forgiven beforehand, Jim!"
said Mistress Mehitable.

"What we were talking about will interest _you_, Doctor Jim, you
naughty old thing!" cried Barbara, saucily.  "It was petticoats,
bodices, and silk stockings, and such like feminine frivolities!  But
what have _you_ got to tell _us_?  You are just _bursting_, you know
you are.  Tell us, and we'll tell you something!"

"John Pigeon's going away to-morrow!" said Doctor Jim, and then shut
his mouth hard.

"What?  Going away?" cried both women at once, scarce crediting their
ears.

"Going away to Hartford, to-morrow, to take a hand in organising some
of their rebellious militia!" continued Doctor Jim.  "I'm ashamed to
tell you.  But he was ashamed to tell you himself, thinking you would
not like it, so he sent me ahead to make his peace for him.  It doesn't
mean anything, you know.  Just a sort of bragging counterblast to those
four regiments of ours at Boston.  I wouldn't be down on John for it,
eh, what, Mehitable?"

"When will he return?" asked Mehitable, feeling that her world was
being emptied.

"Down on him!" exclaimed Barbara.  "Why, it's _noble_ of him.  Think
how it will encourage all the patriots of our township!"  Since she was
going away herself, Doctor John's going was easy enough to bear.

"I wasn't talking to you, you saucy rebel!" retorted Doctor Jim.
"We'll have that crazy little black head of yours chopped off for high
treason, one of these days, if you don't mend your naughty manners.
'Patriots,' indeed!  Addle-pated bumpkins!  But"--and he turned to
Mistress Mehitable, "you asked me, dear lady, when John Pigeon would
return.  Within a month, I think.  He will tell you more precisely for
himself!"

"Jim," said Mistress Mehitable, gravely, "we are going to be lonely for
awhile, you and I."

"Lonely!" exclaimed Doctor Jim.  "That's not what bothers me.  It's the
pestilent, low, vulgar business that's taking him!"

"Yes, of course," assented Mistress Mehitable, "but 'tis not Doctor
John only that purposes to forsake us, Jim.  Barbara is going to New
York, to stay a year."

Doctor Jim's face fell.  He glared at Barbara for half a minute, his
shaggy eyebrows working.

"Nonsense, child!" he cried, wilfully incredulous.  "What cock-and-bull
story's this?  I won't have my feelings worked upon!"

"It's true, Doctor Jim.  I'm to go with Uncle Bob, next week!" said
Barbara, very soberly.

"But you sha'n't go!  We can't spare our bad little girl.  You're too
young, Barby, for that wicked city down there.  We _need_ you here, to
keep us from getting too _good_.  You sha'n't go, that's all!  You see
what John Pigeon'll have to say about it, eh, what?"

"I must, Doctor Jim!" answered Barbara.  "Aunt Hitty and Uncle Bob have
both decided on that.  I feel homesick, sort of, already, at the
thought of it.  And I know I shall miss you all just horribly.  But,
oh, I do want to go, after all.  It's all so gay and mysterious to me,
and I know I'll have such fun.  And it will be so lovely, when I'm
tired of it, to come back and tell you all about it!  Won't it?"

"Well!  Well!  I suppose we'll have to let her go," sighed Doctor Jim.
"Thank Heaven, _you're_ not going, Mehitable, dear lady!"

"I'm glad _you're_ not going, Jim,--either to New York or to Hartford!"
said Mistress Mehitable, with a little laugh.  Then she held out her
hand to him, flushing softly.

"It would be hard indeed for me to go anywhere, Mehitable, were you to
bid me stay!" said Doctor Jim, kissing very reverently the hand she had
held out.  Then, without waiting for an answer to this, he hastily
turned again to Barbara, saying:

"By the way, sweetheart, Bobby Gault is in New York, is he not,--eh,
what?  He will be glad to see you again, perhaps!  It is possible he
may help make things pleasant for you, eh, you baggage?"

But Barbara was not in a mood to repay his raillery in kind.

"I don't know that I'll make things pleasant for Robert," she answered,
thoughtfully, "if he still clings to his ridiculous views about kings
and things!"

"Tell that to the marines, you sly hussy!" exclaimed Doctor Jim,
regaining mysteriously his wonted large good humour.  "Don't tell me
this isn't all made up between you and Robert!"

Barbara looked at him soberly for a moment.  Then the old audacious
light laughed over her face, her eyes danced perilously,--and Mistress
Mehitable felt a tremor of apprehension.  She always felt nervous when
Doctor Jim had the hardihood to draw Barbara's fire.

"Do you know, Doctor Jim, I don't feel quite so badly as I did about
leaving you and Aunt Hitty!  I think, you know, you will be quite a
comfort to each other, won't you, even if Doctor John should have to
stay longer than he expects in Hartford!"

At this moment Doctor John himself came in, to Mistress Mehitable's
infinite relief.



CHAPTER XXIV.

When Glenowen came to Second Westings he was in such haste that Barbara
concluded he had other duties in New York than the searching of records
and verification of titles; but with unwonted discretion she asked no
questions.  Affairs of state, it seemed to her, were the more
mysterious and important the less she knew about them; and it pleased
her to feel that the fate of commonwealths, perchance, was carried
secretly within the ruffled cambric of her debonair and brown-eyed
uncle.  From Second Westings they journeyed by coach to New Haven, and
from that city voyaged by packet down the Sound to New York.  Arrived
in New York, they went straight into lodgings which Glenowen had
already engaged, in an old, high-stooped Dutch house on State Street.

From the moment of her landing on the wharf, Barbara was in a state of
high exhilaration.  The thronging wharves, the high, black,
far-travelled hulls, the foreign-smelling freights, all thrilled her
imagination, and made her feel that now at last unexpected things might
happen to her and story-books come true.  Then the busy, bustling
streets, where men jostled each other abstractedly, intent each on his
own affairs, how different from Second Westings, where three passers-by
and a man on horseback would serve to bring faces to the windows, and
where the grass on each side of the street was an item of no small
consequence to the village cows!  And then the houses--huddled
together, as if there was not space a-plenty in the world for houses!
It was all very stirring.  She felt that it was what she wanted, at the
moment,--a piquant sauce to the plain wholesomeness of her past.  But
she felt, too, that it would never be able to hold her long from the
woods and fields and wild waters.

Of her arrival Barbara sent no word to Robert, though she knew by
somewhat careful calculation that his office was but a stone's throw
away from her lodging.  She looked forward to some kind of a dramatic
meeting, and would not let her impatience--which she scarcely
acknowledged--risk the marring of a picturesque adventure.  When
Glenowen, the morning after their arrival, gave her the superfluous
information that Robert's office was close by, right among the
fashionable houses of Bowling Green, and proposed that they should
begin their exploration of the city by strolling past his window,
Barbara demurred with emphasis.

"Well," said Glenowen, thinking he understood what no man ever has a
right to think he understands, "just as you like, mistress mine.  I'll
drop in on him myself, and let him know where we are, so he can call
with all due and fitting ceremony!"

"Oh, Uncle Bob!" she cried, laughing at his density, "don't you know
yet how little _I_ care for ceremony?  'Tis not that--by any manner of
means.  But I want to surprise Robert,--I want to meet him at some fine
function, in all my fine feathers, and see if he'll know me!  You know,
it is five years, nearly, since we saw him.  Have I changed much, Uncle
Bob?"

"Precious little have you changed, sweet minx!" answered Glenowen.
"You're just the same small, peppery, saucy, unmanageable, thin brown
witch that you were then, only a _little_ taller, a _little_ more
good-looking, a little--a very little--more dignified.  No fear but
he'd know you, though he saw you not for a score of years.  'Twere as
easy perhaps for a man to hate you as love you, my Barbe!  But forget
you!  Oh, no!"

So it was that in the walks which they took about the point of
Manhattan Island, during the first three or four days after their
coming, they avoided Bowling Green, save in the dim hours of twilight;
and Glenowen, prone to humour Barbara in everything, had a care to shun
the resorts which Robert Gault affected.  He learned, by no means to
his surprise, that Robert was uncompromisingly committed to the Tory
party, but this he did not feel called upon to tell Barbara.

"Time enough!  Time enough!" said he to himself, half whimsical, half
sorrowful.  "Let the child have her little play with all the mirth
that's in it!  Let hearts not bleed until they must!  She won't forgive
him,--and he won't yield,--or I'm not Bob Glenowen!"

In New York, where most of his life had been spent, Glenowen knew
everybody; and he was _persona grata_ to almost everybody of
consequence.  His standing was so impregnable, his antecedents so
unimpeachable, his social talents so in demand, that even the most
arrogant of the old Tory aristocrats--the Delanceys, the Philipses, the
Beverley Robinsons--were not disposed to let their hostility to his
views hamper their hospitality to his person.

It followed, therefore, as a matter of course, that almost before she
had gathered her wits after the excitement of the journey and the
changed surroundings, Barbara found herself afloat upon the whirl of
New York gaieties.  Every night, in the solitude of her bedroom in the
old Dutch house, in the discreet confidence of her pillow, she was
homesick, very homesick, and a child again.  She would sob for Aunt
Hitty, and Doctor John, and Doctor Jim,--and for big, round-faced,
furry "Mr. Grim," whom she had so tearfully left behind,--and for Black
Prince, who, she felt sure, would let no one else ride him in her
absence,--and for dear old Debby in her lonely cabin.  She would think
very tenderly of Amos,--and then, with a very passion of tenderness, of
her own little room over the porch, now silent and deserted.  With
great surges of pathos she would picture Mistress Mehitable going into
the little room every day, and dusting it a bit, and then sitting down
by the bed and wishing Barbara would come back.  In such a melting mood
Barbara would resolve not to be horrid any more, but to send for Robert
the first thing in the morning, and tell him just how glad she was to
see him.

But when morning came, she would be no more the homesick child, but a
very gay, petulant, spoiled, and sparkling young woman, her head full
of excitements and conquests to come.



CHAPTER XXV.

To her first ball Barbara went in a chair, just five days after her
arrival in New York.  The method of locomotion appealed greatly to her
mood; and as the bearers jogged her gently along, she kept her piquant
face at the window and felt as if she were playing one of the pictures
of court ladies on their way to St. James's,--ladies such as she had
often dreamed over in the London prints.  For this ball, given at the
Van Griff house, just a few blocks from her own lodgings, she was
dressed in the very height of the mode, as to all save her hair.  She
was obstinate in her aversion to the high, elaborate coiffure,--in her
adherence to the simple fashion and the single massive curl which she
had decided upon, after many experiments, as best becoming her face.
She liked her hair, accounting it her only beauty, and rather than
disguise it she would let the mode go hang.  For the rest, her attire
met the severest demands of Uncle Bob, who was even won, at the last,
to approve what he called her eccentricity in the matter of hair.  He
decided that her very precise modishness in other respects would prove
her title to independence in the one respect; and it was with
unqualified satisfaction that he contemplated the effect she would
produce on the New York fashionables.

"Are you sure I look fit to be seen with you, Uncle Bob?" she had
inquired, anxiously, the last thing before they set out.  "You are such
a beau, you dear; and so distinguished-looking!"

"I shall take no discredit by reason of you, I think!" answered
Glenowen, dryly.  "Unless, indeed, by reason of the slayings of your
eyes!  But slay the gallants, slay them, sweetheart!  They be king's
men, mostly,--and there'll be so many the less to fight, by and by, for
the king!"

"I'll do what such a homely little brown thing can!" laughed Barbara,
blithely, an excited thrill in her voice.  But even at the moment her
heart misgave her, at the thought that, more than likely, Robert was
one of these same "king's men!"

This first ball, at the Van Griffs', was to Barbara a whirl of lights,
and colours, and flowers, and bowing, promenading, pirouetting forms.
The spacious rooms and shining floors and smiling faces and stirring
music intoxicated her.  The variety and brightness of the costumes
astonished her, the women's dresses being fairly outshone by the strong
colours of the uniforms worn by the English officers, and by the even
more dazzling garb affected by the civilians.  Yet if all this
bewildered her heart, outwardly she was at ease, composed, and ready;
and Glenowen, across the room, watching her the centre of a group of
eager gallants,--fop, officer, and functionary alike clamouring for her
hand in the dance,--wondered if this could be the headlong, hard-riding
little hussy whom he had brought from the wilds of Second Westings.
The stately belles of Manhattan, beauties serene or beauties gay,
sisters to the lily or sisters to the poppy and the tulip, eyed with
critical half-disfavour this wilding rose from the backwoods, agreed
that she was queer-looking if not ugly, and resented her independence
in wearing her hair so as to display its beauties to full advantage.
That she was well gowned and danced well, they were in general fair
enough to acknowledge; but they could not see why so many men found her
interesting to talk to.  In a word, she was a success from the start.
She went home at last, very wide-eyed, tired, triumphant, excited--and
disappointed.  She had not seen Robert.  She had just once heard his
name, spoken casually, as that of one whose absence seemed a thing
unusual, whose presence seemed a thing to be desired.  She knew that
she had made an impression.  She knew, even, that she had made herself
popular, at least with the men.  With her accustomed candour she had
proclaimed herself a rebel, in response to some jest at the expense of
Boston, and had settled the score thrice over by her witty jibes at
King George.  But even in that royalist circle her audacity had done
her no harm.  The English officers themselves, carried away by her
brilliance and amused by her daring, were loudest in their applause.
They not unreasonably agreed in their hearts that it could do the king
no harm, while it undoubtedly would be a great satisfaction to
themselves, if they could win some favour in the eyes of this most
bewildering and provocative little rebel.  Perceiving this, Barbara had
not spared her shafts; and the most deeply wounded of her victims had
been the most assiduous of her admirers.  But of all the men who had
been presented to her, danced with her, paid court to her, of all the
women whom she had met, favoured, or in clash of glances subtly defied,
she retained but a bright jumble of unassorted names and faces.  One
only had gained a foothold in her remembrance.  A certain young officer
in the colonial militia, one Cary Patten by name, had been presented to
her by her uncle with particular commendation, as being altogether of
his own way of thought; and him, for his laughing blue eyes, his frank
mouth, his broad shoulders, and his boyish swagger, she had liked so
well that he stood out among her impressions, and she felt it would be
pleasant to meet him again.  In fact, to his open and immense elation,
she had told him so.

"Well, mistress mine, how did you like it?" asked Glenowen, as, candle
in one hand and skirts in the other, she held up her face to be kissed
good-night.

"Oh, I loved it, Uncle Bob!" she answered, with conviction.

"Well, it loved you!" said Uncle Bob.

But as he turned away to his own room, he wondered if Barbara was
really quite as satisfied as she professed, or whether her failure to
meet Robert, and include him among the numbers of her slain, had
clouded at all the splendour of her triumph.

Two evenings later there was another ball, an altogether bigger and
more imposing function, at the house of the Surveyor-General half a
mile out of town.  At this, as she was told, every one would be
present, and therefore, she agreed, Robert would certainly appear.
With a view to circumstances which might conceivably arise in the event
of Robert's appearance, she had with great difficulty kept a number of
dances free, when her admiring cavaliers at the Van Griffs' were
striving to fill her cards in advance.  If he should fail to
come,--well, she had reason to think that she would not be left to
languish unattended.

Meanwhile, however, she little knew how violently her pretty scheme was
being brought to nought, she little knew how emphatically Robert was
being enlightened as to her presence in New York.  She should, indeed,
have thought that the story of her triumphs at the Van Griffs' would
reach his ears, for on the day following that event, her maid, a
garrulous West Indian mulatto whom Glenowen had engaged immediately on
their arrival, had told her over her toilet that her name was already
the toast of the finest gentlemen in town.  But somehow it never
occurred to her that Robert would hear anything.  She thought of him
only as riding, or paddling a canoe, or sitting at his desk, or going
to balls and wandering about alone, thinking of her, gravely smiling
now and then, courteous, and silent.  As a vital factor in this
glittering life he had never presented himself to her imagination,--or
it is possible she might have written to him from Second Westings more
often than twice or thrice in the year!

The house of the Surveyor-General stood behind its trees far back from
the road, on a series of terraces set with walks, parterres, trimmed
hedges, statuary, and secret arbours.  The house was a blaze of light.
The terraces were lighted with a gay discretion, here shining, there
enshadowed.  As she drove up with her uncle in the coach, a little
late, and heard the music and the musical babble of voices, Barbara
thrilled deliciously, with a prescience that this was to be an eventful
night.  She was no longer dazzled,--only strung to the highest tension.
She realised that all this was her birthright, to be used, played with,
thrown aside when tired of, but meanwhile enjoyed to the topmost pitch
of relish,--hers just as much as the buttercup fields, the thrush-sweet
orchards, the ancient woods of Connecticut.  She felt herself mistress
of the situation.

"Oh, Uncle Bob," she whispered, drawing a quick breath of anticipation,
as she gave him her hand and stepped daintily from the coach, her
high-buckled, high-heeled white satin slippers and little white silken
ankles glimmering for an instant to the ensnaring of the favoured
eye,--"oh, Uncle Bob, isn't it lovely?"

"You are, my Barbe!" he answered, peering down with high content upon
the small disastrous face half-hidden in the hood of her scarlet
cardinal.

"Let me tell you, Uncle Bob, you look extremely nice yourself!" she
responded, squeezing his hand hard.  "I didn't see one other man at Mr.
Van Griff's so handsome and distinguished-looking as you!"

"Dear me!" retorted Glenowen, musingly, "what is the baggage going to
ask me for to-morrow?  Whatever it be, she must have it!"

Barbara reached her hostess with difficulty, and was given small time
for her greetings.  All through her first dance she was so absorbed in
looking for Robert that she paid scant attention to her partner's
compliments, though she realised that they contained imcomprehensible
veiled reference to something which she was supposed to know all about.
To her partner, one Jerry Waite by name, her ignorance seemed assumed,
and vastly well assumed; and presently with his growing admiration for
her cleverness came a dread lest he should transgress, so he
diplomatically shifted to new ground.  But had she not been quite
absorbed in her quest, Barbara's most lively curiosity would have been
awakened by his meaning words.

At last she sat down by a curtained doorway and sent Mr. Waite to get
her fan, that she might make up her mind as to the advisability of
inquiring frankly about Robert.  Her scheme was working too slowly for
her impatient spirit; and, moreover, it was beginning to dawn upon her
that Robert might not unnaturally feel aggrieved, and perhaps even
prove difficult and exasperating, if she did not see him soon.  She had
about concluded to invoke the aid of Uncle Bob,--with whom she was by
and by to dance the minuet,--when a word behind the curtain caught her
ear.

"La!  Mr. Gault!" cried a pretty, affected, high-pitched voice.  "Who
thought we should be so favoured as to see you here to-night!  Not
dancing, surely!  But 'twere less cruel to us poor maids to stay away
entirely, than to come and let us look and pine in vain.  But you are
very white,--sit down by me and tell me all about it.  La, there's
nothing I so love!"

It was Robert's voice that answered,--Robert's voice, but grown deeper,
stronger, more assured, than as Barbara thought she remembered it.

"It was nothing at all, dear Miss Betty,--a mere scratch!" he answered.
"'Tis but the loss of a little blood makes me paler than ordinary, I
suppose.  But the doctor said there was no reason in the world I should
not look in on the gaieties for a minute or two,--and see what new
wonder of a gown Miss Betty was wearing,--provided I gave my word not
to dance."

Barbara was conscious of the rustle of Miss Betty's flirtatious fan.

"La, sir!" cried the pretty, high voice again, "you make light, of it;
but they tell me it was very handsome done.  And is it true that poor
Carberry is in a bad way?  Fie upon you, Mr. Gault, to spit an officer
of the king and so strengthen the hands of the enemy."

Barbara's heart was beating very fast.  So Robert had been fighting a
duel, had he!  And been wounded,--but slightly!  And the quarrel with
an officer of the king!  This looked as if her anxieties were
unfounded.  But on the other hand, this loquacious girl--whom Barbara
despised instantly and honestly--seemed to claim him as belonging to
the king's party.  Barbara trembled with excitement, and with fear lest
her absent escort should come back too soon.  He did come back, at that
moment; but with a ravishing look that turned his brain she sent off
again for an ice and a glass of punch.  Meanwhile her alert ears had
heard Robert replying cheerfully to Miss Betty.

"Oh, Carberry will be all right in a week or two," said he.  "'Twould
much hasten his recovery were one to send him word of Miss Betty's
solicitude.  A three weeks at most will take him off my conscience and
the doctor's hands!"

Here another voice intervened.

"Traitress!" it exclaimed, "I have been seeking you this half-hour!"

"Let me talk to Mr. Gault one moment more, Jack!" pleaded Miss Betty.
"He was just going to tell me all about it,--weren't you, Mr. Gault?"

"Not if I know Bob Gault," retorted the voice.  "Nay, nay, dear lady, I
will yield you not one minute more to Gault, on any pretext.  Shall I
court disaster by leaving the most fickle as the fairest of her sex to
the wiles of this pale hero, this wounded champion of dames!"

"You're right, Jack!" cried Miss Betty.  "I see he's dying with
impatience to go and find her, and claim a champion's reward!  She's
here, Mr. Gault.  I saw her but a moment back.  Go wherever you see the
men a-crowding fiercest!"

So Robert had fought for some woman, had he?  He had a tie, then!
Barbara felt a tightening about her heart, an impulse to rush from the
room.  Then she said to herself, "What more natural?  What are we but
the best of friends?  And have I ever been really nice to him?"
Promptly anger took the place of the unreasonable hurt; and the anger
made her cool upon the surface, so that she had herself well gathered
in hand when the curtain was pushed aside, and Robert came
through--just at the same moment that her partner came up with the
punch.

Robert sprang forward with face transfigured.  But to Barbara's chagrin
he did not seem at all surprised.

"I am glad to see you, Robert!" she said, gravely, holding out her hand.

Robert bent over it and kissed it in silence, unable, for the moment,
to find his voice.

"Are you not glad to see me--to see an old friend out of the old days?"
asked Barbara.

"I have no words to tell you how glad I am, my dear lady!" he answered,
in a low voice, wishing that Jerry Waite would have sense enough to go
away, instead of standing there in that idiotic fashion with the punch.

"But aren't you _surprised_ to see me, Robert?" Barbara went on,
forgetful of Mr. Waite and the punch.

"I suppose I ought to be surprised, my lady," answered Robert, with
some bitterness in his tone, "surprised that you have condescended to
see me at all, in view of the length of time you have been here without
letting me know!  I learned yesterday of your coming--after every one
in town apparently knew of it!"

To Jerry Waite the scene was utterly incomprehensible.  Oblivious to
all good manners, he was staring open-mouthed.  Barbara saw the
astonishment in his face, quite naturally misunderstood it, and flushed
angrily.  The pain and wrath which she had by such an effort of will
crushed down in her heart crept up again stealthily, and began to
mingle unrecognised with this superficial annoyance.

"I had thought to surprise you,--a harmless little play, Robert, to see
if you would recognise an old, old friend grown up!" she said, in a
cool voice.  "But since you are so dissatisfied, we had better not talk
about it.  You may call and see me some day soon, if you like.  I am
just around the corner, on State Street.  Uncle Bob will give you the
address.  Will you take me back to my seat, Mr. Waite?  Thank you so
much for the punch."

Robert could not believe his ears.  Was he dismissed for the evening?
The blood began to beat fiercely in his head.

"But, Barbara," he exclaimed, "aren't you going to give me at least
_one_ dance?--  Hold on, Waite, just a minute, will you!--  You can't
be engaged for all so early in the evening.  I came at the very first,
in hopes of catching you and getting several."

Barbara paused.  By this time the thought of that other woman, for whom
he had fought,--for whom he was wounded,--for whom he carried now this
pallor,--for whom he had been too impatient to talk to Miss Betty
behind the curtain,--the thought of that other woman was gnawing at her
brain in a way to confuse her judgment.  She was not exactly in love
with Robert, but she was intensely interested, and in the course of the
years a sense of proprietorship had grown up.  The idea of another
woman, with a prior claim, outraged her pride at the same time that it
wrenched her heart with a sense of irremediable loss.

"You are not dancing, I understand, Robert," she said, looking coldly
into his eyes.

Robert's heart gave an exultant leap.  She knew about the duel, then!

"I had thought, my lady," said he, softly, "that you might, under the
circumstances, consent to forego a dance or two, and talk with me about
old times."

The circumstances, indeed!  Barbara's eyes blazed in spite of all her
efforts at self-control.  This was insolence.  Yet she could in no way
show she recognised it.  For a second or two she held her tongue.

"I hear you have been greatly distinguishing yourself, Robert," she
answered, in a voice of somewhat artificial sweetness, "and have taken
some hurt in the affair, and really should not be here at all!"  She
looked at her tablets with hypocritical care.  "You should have found
me earlier.  I shall not be free to give you a dance for _hours_
yet,--not till quite near the last.  You will probably not be able to
stay so long!"

Robert grew tenfold whiter than before, and his mouth set itself like
iron.  She knew,--it was clear she knew,--and yet she could act in this
hopelessly light, cruel, merciless way.  It was inhuman.  Had she no
spark of womanly tenderness?  He would trouble her no more.

"No, I shall not stay," he said, quietly.  "Good-night, Mistress Ladd!
Good-night, Waite!"  He took her outstretched hand so lightly that she
saw rather than felt that he had taken it; bowed over it, so low that
he seemed to kiss it, yet did not actually touch it with his lips; then
nodded civilly to Waite, strode off down the side of the room, through
the door, and was gone.  Barbara little guessed the many eyes that had
watched and wondered at the episode.  She imagined that all were quite
engrossed in the dancing.

"Now please take me to the other room, Mr. Waite!" she commanded.  "I
fear I was engaged for this very dance, and my partner will think me
rude!"

Waite was in hopeless bewilderment.  He particularly liked and admired
Robert Gault.  He was silent for a few moments, and then exclaimed with
seeming irrelevance: "Women do beat me!"

Barbara looked up at him quickly, as she took her seat.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"I beg your pardon, most fair and inexplicable Mistress Ladd," replied
Waite, who had been puzzled almost out of his manners, "but,--if you
will permit me to say it,--if this be the fate of your friends, what,
oh, what must be the fate of your enemies!"

"I don't understand you!" said Barbara, haughtily.  "Pray explain
yourself!"  But just then a young scarlet-coated officer, Nevil Paget,
came up, claiming the hand of Mistress Ladd; and Jerry Waite, who had
begun to realise that he was in deep water, hailed the rescue gladly.

"I shall have the honour to claim you again, gracious mistress," said
he, "and I shall explain myself then, if you bid me.  Meanwhile, I make
way for those more fortunate than I."

And now, in her bitterness and disappointment, Barbara flung herself
heart and soul into the folly.  When the young Englishman started to
speak of a duel, she shut him up so mercilessly that for five minutes
he durst not open his mouth.  But she proceeded to flirt and bedazzle
him, half flouting, half flattering, till in five minutes more he was
nigh ready to fling all the pedigree of all the Pagets at her small,
light-dancing feet and beg her to dance upon it her whole life long.
She danced everything, and between the dances held a court more crowded
and more devoted than that which had paid her homage at the Van
Griffs'.  She was deaf to all attempts to lure her out upon the fairy
terraces, because when she first saw them she had decided that Robert
should take her out there to tell her what a wonderful surprise she had
given him.  But the men whom she refused were not driven away by her
denial.  She mixed bitter and sweet for them all so cunningly that none
could tell in which of the twain lay the magic that held them thrall.
And all the while her heart smouldered in her breast like a hot coal in
the ash.

At length came her minuet with Glenowen; and after it her uncle, who
thought he detected something feverish in her gaiety, and felt moved to
cool it a little if he might without damage, asked her if she had seen
Robert.

"For a moment or two," she answered, with an indifference beyond reason.

Glenowen had heard all the story of the duel, and wondered what had
gone wrong.

"Why did he go home, sweetheart, so soon after our coming?" he inquired.

"Did he go home?" she queried, casually.  "You know he was hardly fit
to be out.  Even heroes can't stand the loss of blood!"

"What did you do to him, child?" persisted Glenowen.

This questioning chafed on Barbara's raw and bleeding nerves.

"Robert made himself very disagreeable," she replied, crisply.  "I
showed that I was disappointed in him, and he seems to have got angry
and gone home!"

"Disappointed in him!" exclaimed Glenowen.  Then he hesitated, and went
on: "Really, Barbara, are you quite human?  Forgive me if I--"

Barbara faced him squarely, and he felt, though he could not see, the
flood of tears pent up behind her shining eyes.

"Uncle Bob!" she whispered, in a tense voice, "if you are going to
criticise, take me home _right away_.  I can't stand one thing more!"

Glenowen knew her better than any one else ever could, and his
displeasure melted as he caught signal of a distress which he did not
understand.  Yet he knew better than to be too sympathetic, having more
than once experienced the perilous relaxing powers of sympathy.

"Well, well, sweetheart," he laughed, lightly, "forgive me.  I've no
doubt it would seem all right if I knew.  And what does it matter to me
about Bobby Gault, anyhow, so long as my little girl is happy?"

"She isn't happy, Uncle Bob!  But that isn't _your_ fault, you dear,
not ever in the world!"

As they moved apart from the promenading throng, and paused at an open
window overlooking the terraces, Barbara's ears, acute as those of the
furtive kindred in Westings forest, again caught a word that was not
intended for them.  She saw two painted and tower-headed dames, sitting
not far from the window, point her out to another who had just taken a
seat beside them; and she heard the newcomer remark, behind her fan:

"That ugly little rebel!  Insult an officer of the king's troops for
her!"

Barbara's face flushed scarlet, and she looked at her uncle.  But he
had heard nothing,--and she remembered that her ears were keener than
those of other people.  The remark, however, puzzled her, and started a
vague, troublesome misgiving.  Thereafter she found it difficult to
resume the spontaneous fervour of her gaiety.  Fits of abstraction
would take her unawares; but her courtiers thought them merely another
touch of art, effective as they were unexpected.  She was now looking
forward to the dance with Jerry Waite, and the explanation which he had
so rashly promised.  She had intended to snub him severely, but when he
came for her at last he found her altogether gracious.

"Would you mind very much if we sat somewhere and talked, instead of
dancing?" she asked.  And Waite, nothing loth, led her to a seat just
beyond the long windows,--nearer to the terrace than any other man had
succeeded in getting her to go.  This filled him with elation, and he
was glad, rather than otherwise, that she had refused to go out among
the walks and arbours.  Here his triumph was visible every moment to
his disappointed rivals.  He was, of course, like the rest, half
infatuated with Barbara; but being a sane youth, with a sense of
humour, he knew the difference between infatuation and half
infatuation.  He imagined there was more between Barbara and Robert
than there really was; and he did not hold himself any match for Robert
in a race for hearts.  Therefore, he was capable of thinking of his own
prestige.  And to heighten that he had an inspiration.  When, after
waiting till she could wait no longer, for him to bring up the subject,
Barbara asked him to give her the promised explanation of his remark,
he fenced cleverly till the time was close at hand when he knew she
would be claimed by another partner.  He saw this prospective partner,
Cary Patten, eyeing her hungrily, ready to swoop down and take
possession at the first permissible moment.  Then he said: "In very
truth, fair mistress, the explanation necessitates a long story.  To
tell you a little would leave me in a worse light than I could endure
you to behold me in.  The story comes first,--and then the explanation
follows with ease!"

"When will you explain?  My curiosity has been most artistically
aroused!" said Barbara, maintaining with an effort her tone of
sprightly merriment.

"If I might have the honour of waiting upon you to-morrow, I am bold to
hope I might succeed in interesting you!" suggested Waite.

"You may come in the morning," answered Barbara, promptly.  "Say about
eleven o'clock."

The delighted Jerry was ceremoniously bowing his gratitude for this
command, conscious that it would make him the envied of all the
gallants of Manhattan, when Cary Patten came up and carried Barbara off
with rather more eagerness than ceremony.  He had been most hard hit of
all her victims at the Van Griffs' ball, and had experienced deep
dejection over the rumour which had that day associated her name with
Robert Gault's.  Robert's early departure from the ball had somewhat
cheered him, however; and now, with that simplicity, not unlike
Barbara's own, born of secure family position and careless disregard of
convention, he determined to find out if the field were open.  He saw
that Barbara was distinctly friendly to him,--whether for his own sake
or for what Glenowen had told her of his sympathies,--and he trusted to
his directness to disarm her possible resentment of his questioning.

"If you will pardon me, gracious lady," he began, after the customary
interchange of compliment, "I am going to ask you something about our
friend Gault.  Carberry was accounted till to-day the best sword in the
colony.  Now he stands second best!  It took uncommon high courage or
uncommon deep interest in the quarrel, to cross swords with such a
master,--but, of course--"

Barbara's face changed, and she interrupted him crisply.  His first
phrases had been interesting enough, but at the words "uncommon deep
interest in the quarrel," the vision of that unknown woman floated up
and laughed in her face.

"I am weary of the subject, Captain Patten.  It seems to me it should
be possible to talk of something else.  If not, let us listen to the
music, please!"

Never before had Cary Patten been so snubbed.  The experience was novel
to him, and he did not like it.  But he found more than ample
compensation in the thought that Barbara's words showed no impassioned
interest in Robert Gault!  If such a fight, and in such a cause, left
her indifferent, then surely he need have no great fear of Robert as a
rival.  To be sure, he thought Barbara's indifference a little cruel, a
little heartless,--but so much the greater the reward if he could
awaken heart in this flashing, audacious, irresistible little witch.
Cary Patten had small knowledge of the feminine heart, being much
absorbed in his boyish ambitions, his dreams of splendid daring; and he
had a healthy, well-founded faith in his own powers.  His bright,
handsome face looked glum for a moment or two; then he laughed frankly
and cried:

"Served me just right, for being so bold, sweet mistress.  I implore
you forgive me, and be friends!  On bended knee I sue--to speak
figuratively.  I dare not do it in fact, you know, else all the men in
the room would be on their knees about you, which would look singular!"

Yes, he was a nice boy, and Barbara not only forgave him, but tried to
resume her old gaiety for his pleasure.  So far as his pleasure was
concerned, she succeeded; though older and keener eyes than Cary
Patten's would have seen that her mirth was forced.  He left her
feeling that he had made no small progress; and he trod on air in his
elation because she had promised him no less than three dances at the
very next ball at which they should meet.  His succeeding partners
found him tender but absent-minded,--a combination which they
interpreted to their advantage or otherwise, according to their
knowledge of men's hearts.

But as for Barbara's heart, it was now yielding to the strain, and she
felt that she could keep up the play no longer.  Her anger had given
out before the need of it, as a stimulant to flirtation, was past.
Only pain, humiliation, disappointment, remained to her, and she felt
that if she did not get away at once something would happen.  With all
the obstinate force of her will she kept a hold upon her imperious
vivacity, and would hear no appeals when her next partner was bidden to
fetch her uncle and call her coach.

"Take me home, _please_, Uncle Bob!" she pleaded; and he, after a
glance into her eyes, yielded comprehendingly.  Her reason for going,
indeed, he did not comprehend; but her need of going he comprehended
instantly.  Till the very last moment she kept herself at pitch,
laughing, sweetly jibing, taunting, provoking, inviting, so that the
men who insisted on helping Glenowen escort her to her coach felt that
the glitter had gone from the dance with her departure.  But once safe
inside the coach, and beyond the lights, she flung herself upon Uncle
Bob's neck and broke into a storm of sobbing.  She vouchsafed no
explanation, and the sagacious Glenowen asked no questions; and she
wept, intermittently, all the way to the high-stooped old Dutch house
on State Street.  To such a bitter end had come the evening, the
wondrous evening, of which she had hoped, expected, claimed so much!



CHAPTER XXVI.

Barbara slept little, but lay late, and Glenowen was away about
business ere she appeared.  By the time her caller arrived she was
fairly herself, only subdued in spirit, sorrowful, and homesick.  She
had taken pains, however, that her morning toilet should be becoming;
and Jerry Waite thought her pallor, the shadows about her great grave
eyes, the wistfulness of her scarlet mouth, even more enchanting than
her radiance and sparkle of the night before.

"This is most gracious of you, fair lady, to let me come so soon!" he
murmured ecstatically, over the rosy brown tips of her slim fingers.
"Did the other men but know of it, I should have feared for my life to
come without a guard!"

Barbara smiled faintly, willing to appreciate his flatteries, but in no
mood for badinage and quip.

"Nay, sir!" she answered, "do not lay it to my graciousness, which is
scant to even so charming a gentleman as Mr. Waite, but to my
curiosity, which I acknowledge to be great and insistent.  Tell me this
wonderful thing you promised to tell me!"

Jerry Waite assumed an air of mock supplication.

"I implore you, dear lady, suffer me for one moment to delude myself
with the ravishing dream that 'twas for my company, no less than for my
story, that you permitted me to come.--  What, no, not for one moment
the sweet delusion?"

Barbara shook her head resolutely.

"No, first deserve favour, before you presume to claim it, sir!" she
retorted.  "Earn my grace by a story as interesting as you have led me
to expect.  Then, perhaps, I may like you well enough to let you stay
awhile, for the sake of your company!"

"So be it, if so the queen decrees!" said Waite.  "My little story is
about a duel, of which, as I gathered last night, the fairest
but--pardon me--not always the most gracious of her sex knows a little,
but not the most interesting details!"

"I have heard too much already of this duel!" interrupted Barbara.  "I
do not understand how it concerns me!"

"Oh, lady, this impatience of yours!" said Waite, watching her keenly.
"How can you expect to understand the manner in which it concerns you,
if you will not let any one tell you the story?  I stand pledged to
make the story interesting on pain of forfeiting your good will!"

"Well," agreed Barbara, with seeming reluctance.  In very truth she was
trembling with eagerness for him to go on.  "But, I pray you, be as
brief as is consistent with justice to your claim as a narrator!"

"I will be most brief!" said Waite.  "For the merit lies in the story
itself, not in the fashion of the telling.  Yesterday, a little after
the noon hour, some half-score gentlemen were gathered by chance in
Pym's Ordinary, where many of us frequent for the latest bit of gossip.
There was talk of this, that, and the other, but most of the charms of
a lady whom we know and reverence--"

"Who was she?" asked Barbara.

But Waite, intent upon his story, paid no heed.

"The praises, the compliments, the eulogiums," he went on, "that were
heaped upon this magical name seemed to show that every man was at her
feet.  All but Carberry.  Captain Carberry is a chill-souled, carping,
sarcastical fellow, and arrogant withal, by reason of the unmatched
agility of his blade.  It had pleased him to be displeased by certain
sweet, if a trifle pungent, sprightlinesses of the lady in question;
and now his comments ran sharply counter to those of the rest of the
company.  He did not admire her at all,--which was, of course, within
his undoubted rights, however it discredited his taste.  But presently
his criticisms became a trifle harsher than was fitting; and there was
a moment of uneasy silence.  Then, clear upon the silence, Gault
spoke,--Gault, who had hitherto been listening without a word.

"'Carberry,' said he, quietly, 'you have said just enough.  One word
more will be too much!'

"Every one held his breath.  There was an ugly look about Gault's
mouth, and we trembled for him.  He is liked, you know; while Carberry,
a man ten years older, is feared.  Carberry looked Bob over, with a
supercilious smile, which meant mischief, as we knew, and then drawled
slowly:

"'I shall say whatever it may please me to say about that damned
little--'  But no one was to hear the sentence finished.  We can never
have our curiosity certainly satisfied as to that word, which just then
got smashed beyond recognition behind Carberry's teeth.  It was
probably not so very bad a word, if the truth were known.  Bob was
taking no risks on that score.  His blow was straight as a bullet; and
Carberry went sprawling over two chairs and a table.

"When he picked himself up he was quite cool,--collected and
businesslike.  That we knew to be his deadly way, and we trembled for
Bob.  Bob, however, seemed as easy in his mind as Carberry.  The two of
them, indeed, were so deuced civil you might have thought they were
arranging to marry each other's sisters.  There was no time lost, you
may be sure.  Seconds were chosen, terms agreed upon, a doctor sent
for, and we promptly made up a little pleasure party to the woods.

"As for the fight, dear lady, I spare your gentle soul the details.  It
lacked just one element of interest to the connoisseur,--both
combatants fought in one fashion.  There was no contrast, such as one
might have expected between a boy of twenty-three and a veteran of
thirty-six.  At the very first Carberry had attacked with fury,--but
when he felt the quality of Bob's wrist he saw it was not a case for
bluster, and settled down to business.  Both fought smiling, alike
cool, wary, dangerous, sure of the result.  Where and when Bob learned
it, we none of us knew.  He is a queer, reticent chap in some ways.
But learned it he had,--and I, who like to study faces, saw the tinge
of surprise in Carberry's face pass to admiration.  His rage was
forgotten in the exhilaration of his favourite game.  I never again
expect to see two blades so nicely matched.  The excitement to us
watchers grew intense, till our knees felt weak.  But they two seemed
as fresh as when they started.

"At last--'a touch!" said Carberry,--and then, by the slight hissing of
the words between his teeth I realised the strain.

"'Not at all!' answered Robert,--and his words, too, came hissingly,
for all the easy smile upon his lips.  Then both grew white.  And for a
few minutes there was no change.  And it seemed to us that our eyes
could follow the blades no longer.  And then--for the life of me I
could not see how it happened--a red stain came on the shoulder of
Bob's shirt; and in the next second Carberry, letting his sword fall,
dropped in a heap.

"Before we could recover our astonishment, Robert and the doctor
together were bending over the wounded man, and had his shirt ripped
open.  'I've got it, eh?' said Carberry, faintly.  'A fair, clean
thrust, an' served me damn well right!'  And he held out his hand to
Bob,--who grasped it with both his, and looked now, all of a sudden,
like a boy ready to cry.

"'Stuff and nonsense, Captain!' exclaimed the doctor.  'You've not got
your quietus with _this_ bare bodkin.  You'll be all right, sound as
ever, in a month, a fortnight maybe!'

"'Thank God!' cried Robert.

"'My sentiments exactly!' said Carberry, his voice stronger with the
knowledge that he was not dying.  'Gault, my compliments, with my best
apologies!  Great sword, my boy, great--' and with that he swooned from
the pain and loss of blood.  And we, very happy that all had ended so
happily, got him to the coach, and so home.  And the rest, dear
Mistress Ladd, you know!"

"A mighty interesting story, I admit!" said Barbara.  "But still I ask,
of what especial, immediate interest to me?"

Waite looked at her curiously.  Was it possible she could be so blind?
But her wide eyes were innocent of all comprehension.  It suddenly
occurred to him that, new come to town as she was, she found it
impossible to imagine _her_ name the theme of tongues.  He began to
understand.

"You know the lady," said he, and paused.

"Well, sir, 'tis possible.  I have met many in the few days that I have
been in New York.  What is her name--since you seem to hold it an
important matter."

"Her name, dear lady--her name is one that stirs a thrill of admiring
homage in all our hearts.  It is--_Mistress Barbara Ladd_!"

Barbara caught her breath, and her eyes dilated.

"What?" she cried, though she had heard quite clearly.

"Her name is Mistress Barbara Ladd!" repeated Jerry Waite.

"Oh, Mr. Waite.  No!  No!  Don't tell me it was on my account that
Robert fought.  Impossible!  He might have been killed!  And I
thought--" but she stopped herself in time, without saying what it was
she had thought.

Jerry Waite became serious.

"It seems to me, dear lady, that your thought, whatever it was, did
Gault an injustice," said he, gently.  "And that is my explanation.  Am
I forgiven?"

Barbara conquered her distress.  This was the easier--after the first
pang of remorse--because the fact that Robert had not failed her soon
overtopped in her mind the fact that she had failed Robert.  That
unknown woman--the hateful vision vanished in a burst of light.  The
ache of loss was healed in her heart.  She was reinstated, too, in her
self-esteem.  New York grew bright again.  Her conquests were once more
worth while.  Robert should behold them all,--and be one of them,--the
most subjugated of them all.  At last her face grew radiant,--her eyes
dancing, her teeth flashing, her mouth the reddest rose, her clear
brown cheeks softly aflush.

"Yes, indeed, Mr. Waite," she cried, holding out her hand.  "It is a
beautiful story, and wins you a very high place in my regard.  You may
stay and talk to me till dinner-time, if you like; and then my uncle
will be glad to have you dine with us!"

The first part of the invitation Waite accepted with alacrity, and
cursed himself bitterly that he had an engagement to prevent him
staying for dinner.  In the conversation that followed Barbara gained
him and chained him fast, not as a mad, intoxicated lover, but as one
of the best and most loyal of her friends.  But the moment he was gone
she rushed to her scrutoir and in fierce haste scribbled a note.  It
ran:


"DEAR ROBERT:--I did not understand at all.  I thought something quite
different from the truth.  I have just found out about things.  Please
come and talk to me till dinner-time, if you like; and then let me tell
you how perfectly horrid I think myself.

"BARBARA."


This she sealed with a care that contrasted curiously with the haste
with which she had written it.  Then she called her maid and sent it
around to the stately-doorwayed office on Bowling Green.

The answer that came was merely a bunch of dark red roses, with never a
written word; but Barbara found it quite satisfactory.  To Robert it
would have seemed superfluous to have said he would come.  Barbara made
her toilet with especial care, selecting everything with a view to
making herself look as nearly as possible like the Barbara of the old
Second Westings days.  As she surveyed herself in the glass, she was
astonished at the result.  Had she really put the hands of time back
five years?  As she remembered, she had looked just so on the afternoon
when Robert came, and found her in the apple-tree reading "Clarissa."
It was three o'clock already,--and Robert had been waiting already half
an hour in the drawing-room below,--but she took yet a few minutes more
for a finishing touch.  She basted up a deep tuck in her
petticoat,--about half an inch off for each year blotted from her
calendar,--and then, with flaming eyes and mouth wreathed in laughter,
she ran down to receive her guest.  It was the direct obverse of the
meeting she had planned.

"Did you ride over, Robert?  Or did you come in the canoe?" she asked,
as if she had but that moment jumped down out of the apple-tree.

"Barbara!" he cried, and seized and kissed both hands.

"I was beginning to fear that you had forgotten the way to Second
Westings!" she went on, in gay reproach.  "Why, it is _weeks_ since you
were over; and the young catbirds in the currant bush have grown their
wings and flown; and the goldenrod's in flower; and the 'Early
Harvests' are beginning to turn red on the old apple-tree over by the
gate; and how will you explain your long absence, sir, to Aunt Hitty,
and Doctor John, and Doctor Jim, I'd like to know!"

Robert was devouring her with his eyes as she spoke.  "Oh, you do
indeed look just as you did that day I found you in the apple-tree!" he
cried, at last.  "So weary long ago,--yet now, sweet lady, it seems but
now!"

"Let us play it is but now," laughed Barbara.

"Yes," said Robert,--"but _please_ don't send me right away to Doctor
Jim, as you did that morning!  I will try not to incur your
displeasure.  And don't be in such a hurry to get back to 'Clarissa' as
you were then!"

So all the afternoon they talked the language and the themes of Second
Westings, with the difference that Barbara was all graciousness,
instead of her old mixture of acid and sweet.  And when Glenowen came
in to supper he was admitted to the game, and played it with a relish.
And when, after supper, the three went riding, they took what they
swore to be the Westings Landing Road,--though certain of the
landmarks, as they could not but agree, looked unfamiliar.  Almost they
persuaded themselves that on their return they might entreat Mistress
Mehitable to brew them a sack posset.

It was not till three days later, when Robert was begging more than his
share of dances for a ball to be given that night at Government House,
that Barbara explained--lightly and laughingly, but in a way that
suffered Robert to understand--her quite inadequate reasons for having
treated him so cavalierly on the evening after his duel.



CHAPTER XXVII.

For the next few weeks Barbara enjoyed herself without stint, and found
New York quite all that she had painted it.  To Robert she now
vouchsafed sufficient favour to keep him fairly happy and good
company,--or, at least, to enable him to make himself good company by
an effort of will.  Yet she held him on the chilly side of that
frontier which separates the lover from the comrade.  He was her
favoured escort, but not so favoured that other admirers could fancy
themselves warned from the field.  And he was kept restless, tormented,
jealous.  He was made to feel--as others were allowed to think--that
his primacy in privilege was based solely upon old friendship and
familiar memories.  But the moment he attempted to crowd aside the new
friends,--among whom Cary Patten, Jerry Waite, and young Paget caused
him especial worry,--Barbara would seem to forget all their intimacy
and relegate him to a position somewhat more remote than that of the
merest acquaintance.  The utmost that he durst claim at any time was a
certain slight precedence in her train of devoted cavaliers.  She
danced, rode, flirted, with something so near approaching impartiality
that she let no moth quite feel itself a fool in scorching its wings at
her eyes.  Yet no one could presume upon her graciousness; and no one
but Cary Patten had the temerity to push his suit to the point where
she was put on the defensive.  Cary Patten was promptly dismissed.  But
when he as promptly came back on the very first occasion, she had
forgotten the matter, and remembered only how she liked his honest
boyishness, his sanguine boldness.  Cary, applying one of those general
rules which were apt to be so inapplicable in the special case of
Barbara, decided that not one, nor indeed a dozen, refusals need reduce
him to despair!  And Barbara, when afterward she came to think of it,
liked Cary Patten the better because he had not sulked over his defeat.

Meanwhile Barbara was exercising a restraint upon one point, which was
in flat contradiction to her wonted directness.  She was carefully
avoiding, in Robert's presence, a discussion of those political
questions with which the whole country, from Maine to Georgia, was then
seething.  This was easier than it would have been even a few weeks
before, for the reason that as the differences grew more deadly society
grew more cautious about letting them intrude themselves among its
smooth observances.  Barbara, in fact, had come to fear the inevitable
discussion with Robert.  She knew he was identified with the Tory
party, but she did not know how far.  And she feared her own heat of
partisanship not less than his resolution--which she called obstinacy.
So, by tacit consent, she and Robert gave wide berth to the perilous
theme; till at length their avoidance of it, when it was thrilling on
the very air they breathed, made it begin to loom all the larger and
darker between them.  Presently the apprehension that it was an
impending peril to their relation drove Robert to speak, precipitately,
on the subject that was bursting his heart night and day.

They had just come in from an afternoon ride, and were alone in the
drawing-room.  Barbara was in high good humour; and Robert seized the
moment to ask leave to return that same evening.

"I'm sorry, Robert!  I'd love to have you come," she replied.  "But
I've promised the evening to Cary Patten.  He wants to bring his fiddle
and try over some new music with me."

Robert's face darkened.

"Cary Patten seems to be here all the time!" he exclaimed, with natural
exaggeration.

"What nonsense!  You know that's not true, Robert.  He's not here
_half_ as much as you are.  But if he were, what of it?  He's very
good-looking, and Uncle Bob and I both like him, and, indeed, he's
_much_ more _entertaining_ than you, Robert!"

Robert walked quickly across the room and back, then seized both her
slim brown wrists in a grip whose severity she rather liked.  She felt
that something disturbing was at hand, however, and she braced her wits
to manage it.

"Barbara,--my lady,--my lady,--I love you!" he said, very quietly.

"Of course, Robert!  I know that," she answered, with composure,
smiling up at him, and making no effort to free her wrists.  Yet in
some way her smile checked him, as he was about to crush her in his
arms.  His breast ached fiercely so to crush her, yet it was impossible.

"With all my heart and soul, my lady," he went on, his voice on the
dead level of intense emotion, "with every drop of blood in my body, I
love you, I have loved you, ever since the old child days in Second
Westings!"

"That is very dear of you, Robert," she responded, her voice and eyes
showing nothing but frank pleasure at his words.  "But, of course, I
have always known that," which was not quite true, though it seemed
true to her at the moment.

He could not tell what there was in this answer to hold him back, or if
it was the frankness of her eyes that daunted him, but he began to feel
that, so far from clasping her to his heart and satisfying his lips
upon her eyes, her hair, her mouth, he had no right even to be holding
her wrists as he was.  He flung them from him, drew back a step, and
searched her face with a desperate look.

"And you--you do not love me at all!"

Barbara looked thoughtful, regretful.

"No, Robert, I don't _love_ you--not in the way you mean.  I'm not in
love with you, you know.  But I do care a lot for you, more than for
_almost_ any one else!"

They had both forgotten--for it was weeks away--how Barbara had felt
about the imaginary unknown lady.

That "almost" was, to Robert, the end of all things.  He thought at
once of Cary Patten.  Pain and jealous madness struggled together in
his breast, strangling him.

"Good-bye!" he said at last, finding his voice, and turning to the
door.  "I shall leave to-night!"

"Robert!" cried Barbara, sharply.  "Come back at once!"

He paused near the door, half turned, as if compelled by mere civility,
but showed no sign of obeying.

"Come back to me!" she commanded.  And he, being a courteous gentleman,
obeyed.

"What is it, lady?"

"What on earth do you mean by being so crazy?" she demanded.

No answer occurred to him as necessary.  He looked at her inquiringly,
his face very white, his eyes deep sunken, his lips straight and hard.
Barbara began to regret that she had not managed in some other way.
She certainly could not let him go.  Yet she certainly did not love him
enough to give up her freedom for him,--to sacrifice all the enchanting
experience of which she had not yet begun to tire, to dismiss all the
interesting men, whose homage was so sweet to her young, unsatiated
vanity.

"Don't you know, Robert," she went on, beguilingly, "that I _couldn't
possibly_ get along without you?  I don't love you, but I do love you
to love me, you know.  I couldn't bear to have you go away and forget
me, and love some other woman,--some kind, sweet, beautiful woman who
could love you and make you happy.  I need you to love me.  Though I
know there is no earthly reason why you should, and I think you are a
crazy goose to do it, and I believe you only think you do, anyhow!"

Robert stood motionless.  The storm raging up and down within him
turned him to steel on the surface.  From a dry throat he tried to
speak clearly and with moderation.

"You said--'almost!'  Who is it--you care more for?--Cary Patten?"

Barbara broke into a clear peal of laughter, and clapped her hands with
a fine assumption of glee.

"Oh, you silly, silly child!" she exclaimed.  "It was Uncle Bob, of
course, that I was thinking of when I said that.  I love Uncle Bob
better than any one else in the world,--_far_ better than I love you,
Robert, I can tell you that.  But I care for you almost as much as for
Aunt Hitty.  Cary Patten!  Why, he and these other nice men who are
making things so pleasant for me, they are just _new_ friends.  I
_like_ them, that's all.  You are altogether different, you know.  But
I'm just not in love with you,--and so you talk of going away and
spoiling everything for me.  I don't call that loving me, Robert,--not
as _I_ would love a girl if I were a man.  But it's not my fault if I'm
not in love myself, is it?  I'm sorry,--but I don't believe I _can_
love, really, the way you mean!  Cary Patten, indeed!  Why, he's just a
boy,--a nice, good-looking, saucy, conceited boy!"

"Can't you try to love me, Barbara?" pleaded Robert, his wrath all
gone.  He flung himself down at her feet, and wildly kissed them.  All
this she permitted smilingly, but the request seemed to her, as it was,
a very foolish one.

"No, I can't!" she answered, with decision.  "Trying wouldn't make me.
And I don't think I want to, anyhow.  I want to enjoy myself here while
I can.  And I want you to be nice, and help me enjoy myself, and not
bother me.  Love me just as much as you like, Robert, but don't tell me
so--too often!  And don't ask me to love you.  And _don't_ go and be
lovely to the other girls, and make believe you are not in love with
me, for that would displease me very much, though I should know it was
making believe because you were cross at me.  So, don't be horrid!"

This seemed to Robert a somewhat one-sided arrangement.  He knew he
would accept it, yet his honesty compelled him to express his sense of
its injustice.

"I certainly would be lovely to the other girls if I wanted to, my
lady," said he, doggedly.  "The trouble is, I _don't_ want to.  And I
sha'n't bore myself just for the sake of trying to make you think I
don't care.  I love you, that's all--better than anything else in
heaven or earth.  And I shall make you love me, my lady!"

This threat amused Barbara, but did not displease her.

"Very well, Robert," she answered, with a teasing, alluring look that
made his heart jump.  "I sha'n't try to prevent you.  I'll even like
you a little better now, at once, if you will go right away this minute
and let me dress."

"Dress for Cary Patten!" muttered Robert, kissing her hand without
enthusiasm, and retiring with sombre brow.  That he should go in this
temper did not please her ladyship at all.

"And, Robert!" she cried, when he had just reached the door.

"Yes, my lady!" and he came back once more.

"You said good-bye as if you were still in a nasty, black temper!"  She
held out her hand to him again.  This time he kissed it with what she
considered a more fitting warmth.

"And, Robert, don't forget that I am _very, very_ good to you, far more
so than you deserve.  I don't think of telling Cary Patten, or any of
the others, not to flirt with the other girls.  Cary Patten may be as
lovely to them as he likes, and I sha'n't mind one bit, so long as it
does not interfere with his being as attentive as he ought to be to me!
Now, it is a great honour I do you, Robert, in not letting you flirt."

"I appreciate it, my lady," he answered, permitting himself to smile.
"A great honour, indeed,--though a superfluous one!"

"I have no objection to that word, 'superfluous,' in that connection,"
said Barbara, thoughtfully, to herself, as Robert disappeared.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

After this Robert was careful, and so was permitted to be fairly happy
when he could keep the fires of jealousy banked down in his heart.
Once in awhile they would begin to get the better of him; and then,
after letting Barbara see just a glimpse of the flame, that she might
not forget it was there, he would leave before she could find him
troublesome and work it under by hours of furious riding.  He skilfully
avoided giving her any further excuse for discipline; and was even so
cunning, at times, as to pique her by his show of self-control.  In
this way he scored continually over the too confident Cary Patten, who,
after a week or two of almost daily calls at the old Dutch house on
State Street, would disappear and not be seen near Barbara for days.
At such times Robert concluded that Cary had been tempting Providence
and suffering the usual disaster of those who so presume.  As for Jerry
Waite, and young Paget, and the rest of the infatuated train, Robert
thought that Barbara was quite too infernally nice to them all, and
cursed them all hotly in his heart; but he could not refrain from
admiring the neat manner in which she held them all in hand.

Early in the autumn, however, it became still more difficult for
Barbara and Robert to keep silent on the great questions which they so
dreaded to discuss.  The First Continental Congress was in session at
Philadelphia, and its deliberations formed a theme to blister men's
tongues.  Made up of Tories, Radical Patriots or potential rebels, and
Moderates, in fairly even proportion, it satisfied neither Barbara nor
Robert.  The latter, in spite of the fact that its New York delegates
were of his own party, viewed it with singularly clear eyes, and saw in
it not merely an instrument for the constitutional redress of just
grievances,--wherein it had his sympathy,--but a forerunner of
revolt,--wherein it called forth his passionate reprobation.  To
Barbara, on the other hand, this Continental Congress, of which she had
hoped so much, seemed a mean-spirited, paltering, blear-eyed thing,
incapable of seeing what destiny had written large across the
continent, or too timorous to acknowledge what it saw.  The strain was
further increased by matters which touched them both personally.  With
the news that Connecticut, stirred up by false rumours of a struggle
with the royal troops in Boston, had thousands of her militia under
arms, came a letter from Mistress Mehitable, saying that Doctor John
was among them, in command of a regiment, and that Doctor Jim was
looking after his patients.  At this tidings Barbara's heart swelled
with mingled pride and anxiety.  She pictured the heroic figure Doctor
John would make, in his uniform, about to fight for the cause which she
held so splendid and so righteous.  At the same time she saw him
already in the fight, waving his sword amid the smoke and slaughter,
and she shook with terror for him.  Both Robert and Glenowen were with
her when the letter came, and as she read it out her voice broke and
the tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Good for John Pigeon!" cried Glenowen, his eyes aglow.

Then there was a heavy stillness on the air, such as that which
sometimes portends an earthquake, and neither looked at Robert.
Robert's face was very grave, but inspiration came to him, and he said
exactly the right thing.

"How lonely Doctor Jim and Mistress Mehitable must be!  Second Westings
must be perfectly desolate!"

The danger was averted.  He had dwelt, not upon the point of
difference, but the point of sympathy; and the difference sank again
out of sight.

"Oh," murmured Barbara, "I almost feel as if I ought to go back to Aunt
Hitty!"

"I know!  But you can't, very well, sweetheart!  For which I am most
thankful!" said Glenowen, promptly.

"And Mistress Mehitable has Doctor Jim," said Robert.  "We need you
more than she does, dearest lady!"

With all the country seething as it was, nowhere else, perhaps, save in
New York, would it have been possible to keep up so long the pretence
of harmony between opposing factions.  New York was full of
"Moderates," men no less determined to resist the tyranny of Parliament
than to retain the supremacy of the Crown.  Extremes were thus held in
check; and men met in apparent social harmony whose opinions, once put
in practice, would have hurled them at one another's throats.  But to
the little company resorting at the old Dutch house on State Street
there entered now a new element of disruption.

At a dance Barbara had met a slender, dark youth, a student at King's
College, who had made himself prominent by his radical eloquence at a
great mass-meeting of the Continental party.  His scholarly breadth of
thought, combined with almost fanatical zeal, delighted her.  And he
had the uncommon merit of expressing unforgettably the very views she
herself had long maintained.  They became too interested in
conversation to dance; and from that evening Mr. Alexander Hamilton
came often to Glenowen's lodgings.  He was a mere boy in years, but
Glenowen felt his power at once,--and even Robert, who was not
unnaturally prejudiced, was too honest not to admit that Barbara's
young Mr. Hamilton was a very remarkable and accomplished youth.

Understanding the sharp divergence of opinion in the little circle,
Hamilton kept a curb upon his tongue save at convenient seasons.  But
to his eager and convicted spirit this soon became too difficult.  One
evening, when there were none to hear him but Barbara, Robert, and
Glenowen, the torrent of his boyish ardour overflowed.  He depicted the
momentous changes toward which each fateful hour was hurrying them.  He
declared it was no more than a matter of days ere all America would be
in the throes of a righteous revolution.  He prophesied the birth of a
great republic, that should establish Liberty in her New World home,
and scourge kings, thrones, and tyrannies into the sea.  Glenowen had
looked at him warningly, but in vain.  Barbara, troubled at first, grew
suddenly hot and resentful at the thought that Robert should be blind
to the splendid dream.  She applauded aggressively.

Robert's brows were knit, but he had no emotion save distress.

"I pray you pardon me, dear lady, and you, Mr. Glenowen, if I take my
departure at once," said he, at the first pause.  "Knowing my
sentiments as you both do, fully, you will understand that I could not
in honour stay and listen to such doctrines as these of Mr. Hamilton's
and not oppose them with all my force."

He bent over Barbara's hand, but she petulantly snatched it away
without letting him kiss it.  Then, having shaken hands heartily with
Glenowen, and bowed stiffly to Hamilton, he withdrew in great trouble
of mind, feeling that now, in truth, had come to an end the truce
between his honour and his love.  He walked the streets half the night,
and in the morning, white and dejected, but determined to know the
worst at once, he went around to State Street at the earliest moment
permissible after breakfast.  Barbara received him coldly.  But he made
haste to face the issue.

"Surely, dearest lady, you see that I had no alternative but to go!" he
pleaded.  "I could not quarrel with him, seeing that he was your guest.
Yet I could not sit and listen to his treason!"

"I think the same treason as he uttered, if treason it be!  And utter
it, too, when I see fit!" said Barbara.

"That's different!" said Robert, and paused.

It was on Barbara's lips to ask, "How?--Why?" but she refrained, lest
she should complicate the discussion.

"That's different," he repeated, "because you are a woman, and because
I love you.  But indeed, my lady, I intended no discourtesy to Mr.
Hamilton.  If discourtesy there were, surely it was his.  I would not
have attacked what he holds sacred.  Yet my sentiments are not less
well known than his.  He knew that I was pledged to the king's side."

Barbara bit her lips hard.  This was just what she had taken such pains
not to know.  Her heart was bitter enough against him for his views
themselves; it was still more bitter against him now for forcing her to
confess knowledge of those views.

"A little discourtesy, one way or the other, what would that matter?"
she asked, scornfully.  "There's just one thing that matters to me now,
Robert.  War is coming.  Have you chosen your side?"

"My side has chosen me, dear lady!" he answered, sorrowfully.

"Listen, Robert," she went on, "I have tried not to know that you hold
opinions which I hate, and loathe, and despise.  It means everything to
me, when I say I love my country and hate the enemies of my country.  I
believe in patriotism."

"And I believe, also, in honour and loyalty, oh, my dearest lady!"

"Your own stupid ideas of honour and loyalty!" cried Barbara, with
fierce impatience.  "I tell you, Robert, the enemy of my country cannot
be my friend."

"But if I am the enemy of your country, so is Doctor Jim!" protested
Robert.

Barbara flushed with annoyance.  She did not like an unanswerable
argument.

"I love Doctor Jim!" she shot back at him, with cruel implication.

"And I love you, Barbara!" answered Robert, also with meaning.  She
tossed her head scornfully.

"A fig for such love!" she cried.  "Years ago, when you were just a
boy, and could not have your opinions fixed" ("About the age of your
Mr. Hamilton!" he interjected, rashly), "I remember asking you, for my
sake, to teach yourself the right things, Robert, and join our side,
and be faithful to your own country.  What do you do?  It's not as if
it were a mere difference of opinion,--but _I_ am _right_!  I am with
all the great and wise of old, who have taught that patriotism is a
man's highest duty.  Yet what have you done, Robert?  You vow you love
me!  Indeed!  And you prefer a stupid, far-off, half-crazy tyrant, whom
you call your king, and whom you have never seen, to your country,
which has borne and cherished you--and to me!"

"Oh, Barbara!" cried Robert, desperately.  "What are king or country,
what are heaven and earth, to me, compared with you?  But what would my
love be worth to you if, for the sake of my own happiness, I could be a
rebel and a traitor?  Should I be worthy to love you, despising myself?
What would you think of me, if I could sell my honour at your bidding!"

"I think our ideas of honour are different, Robert!" retorted Barbara.
"But I am not going to quarrel with you now.  I am disappointed in you,
that's all.  And you need not expect that after this we are going to be
such friends as we have been.  Remember that.  But--you may come and
see us sometimes, of course; and I will dance with you sometimes, of
course--if you ask me!  Only--it is all so different!" and she could
not choke down a little weary sigh.

Robert was on his knees in an instant, kissing her hands; but she
repulsed him resolutely.

"No, you have chosen for yourself," she said, not unkindly.  "It hurts
me, truly.  But I mean what I say!  Now, you must go, for I have much
to do before dinner.  Good-bye!"



CHAPTER XXIX.

Barbara was as good as her word.  From this time forward through that
portentous fall and disastrous winter, she never let Robert forget that
the old footing of familiar friendship was no longer his.  She began to
make a difference, too,--slight but appreciable,--toward all the
declared Tories among her followers.  She was bound to show some
consistency toward Robert.  And moreover, her fiery and dissatisfied
heart was growing restless for the breach that all saw coming but all
strove to postpone.  Oh, she thought, let the cruel line be drawn,--let
the make-believe end,--let us know our friends and enemies apart,--let
the suspense be done, be done!  And--let me get back home to Second
Westings!

Meanwhile the half-mad king went on fashioning the hooks that were to
rend the race in twain,--and an insensate Parliament lent power to his
fatal hands,--and men like Chatham and Burke, Shelburne and Rockingham,
poured out impassioned eloquence in vain, pleading for justice to the
colonies.  By mid-winter (the winter of 1775) it was plain to every one
that the king meant war, if that were the only way to bring the
colonies to their knees.  Ten thousand troops were ordered to Boston,
and plans were laid for organising the Indians on the frontiers.  In
the colonies, though few dared say it, all were making ready for the
struggle.  On every hand there was drilling of militia and gathering of
the munitions of war.  Only in New York, as it seemed, things moved as
usual, and the royal government remained in full force.  As a matter of
fact, there were practically two governments going on side by side; for
the various "committees of safety" went about their ominous
preparations, and the governor well knew it would be unsafe to
interfere.  The air became so tense with impending storm that people
seemed to hold their breath, and when they met their eyes questioned,
"Has it come?"

Then it came!  And those who had longest and most preparedly waited
were most shocked.  The bolt that fell was the news of Lexington and
Concord, of the king's troops,--disciplined, war-toughened, the bravest
in the world,--driven in wild rout before the sharp-shooting colonial
farmers.  For five days of amazement men waited, expecting the bloody
vengeance that would come.  But, instead of vengeance, came the word
that Boston was beleaguered, that Gage with his veteran regiments was
shut up tight in the city by ill-armed and unorganised countryside
militia.  Straightway men drew breath again; and the undecided chose
their side; and masks were thrown away.  Even New York, the prudent,
the divided, the long politic, proclaimed herself at last, threw off
the last empty forms of royal authority, and seized all military
supplies within her borders.

The glittering life, which had been to Barbara so gay an intoxication
all these months, now burst like a bubble, leaving her to realise how
hollow it had been.  She had no regret for it, save as a help to
forgetting regrets.  She was dissatisfied, and wanted Second Westings.
When, therefore, her uncle came to her, a few days after the news of
Bunker Hill, with word that he had accepted a commission under General
Washington, the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental
forces, she was not greatly surprised or shocked.  She had known all
along that Glenowen would be at the front.  She had faced all the fear
of it, and taught herself to think only of the honour.  Now, she turned
very pale, tried to smile encouragement, but sobbed instead, ran to him
and held him and kissed him.

"Of course, Uncle Bob!  You must, I know.  I will be brave about it, I
promise I will, and not worry you with any silliness!" she murmured at
last, finding her voice.  "I wish _I_ were a man, so I could go with
you!"

"And a fiery little fighter you would make, sweetheart!" said Glenowen,
cheerfully.  "But the immediate point is, since you can't go
a-soldiering with your old uncle, what shall we do with you?  I leave
within a week for the general's headquarters at Cambridge."

"You will take me with you, and leave me at Second Westings, Uncle Bob,
with Aunt Hitty and Doctor Jim to keep me cheered up while you are
fighting!"

"That's the best plan, decidedly, Barbe, for more reasons than one," he
answered, suddenly grave.  "But I don't think you can depend on Doctor
Jim for very long!"

"Why, where is he going?" queried Barbara, anxiously.

"Well, you know, he'll _choose_ to go wherever the Royalist volunteers
may be organising their forces; but if he did not choose, he'd probably
have no choice.  Our Connecticut folk left many dead on Breed's Hill,
dear, and the Royalists are beginning to find their homes too hot for
them.  I'm afraid Doctor Jim will be in peril of rough handling, with
his hot temper and his fearless tongue!"

"No one in Second Westings would _dare_ to be rude to Doctor Jim!"
cried Barbara, indignantly.

"You don't know what they will do, sweetheart, when they are stirred
out of their accustomed frame of mind.  Besides, even if the Second
Westings lads should be mindful of their manners, there are the rougher
sort from the neighbouring villages to be thought of.  _They_ owe no
allegiance to a Pigeon, or a Ladd either!  It may be you will find
yourself a very necessary shield to Mistress Mehitable, even!"

"I should like to see them try to interfere with Aunt Hitty!" flamed
Barbara, setting her white teeth and flushing.  "I'd shoot them, if
they _are_ patriots!"

Glenowen nodded approval, but counselled caution.

"You may need to be firm, girlie, but you'll need to be careful and
tactful too, or you may find yourself fighting on the wrong side!" he
laughed.

"Do you really mean to say that our people are beginning to attack the
Tories, just because they think they ought to stick to old King
George?" queried Barbara, her thought turning to Robert, whom she had
not seen or heard of for more than a week.

"That's inevitable," said Glenowen.  "If we are to fight England, we
fight the Tories,--and the Tories with the more bitterness because we
feel that they ought to be with us.  I've heard ugly talk already of
tar and feathers for some of our important men here.  And they have
heard it themselves, and found that business called them urgently
elsewhere!  Other of our Tory friends are getting up volunteer
companies,--a sort of counterblast to our militia battalions.  I hear
talk, too, of forcibly disarming all our Tories,--especially on Long
Island, where they are as thick as hornets!"

"I suppose that's what Robert is doing--getting up a company to fight
against us!  We've not seen him for a week!" said Barbara, with a
bitterness which her affected indifference failed to disguise.

"Exactly that!  He is one of our most dangerous antagonists here!"
answered Glenowen, sadly.  "He would have been seized days ago, to
prevent him doing more mischief; but he's so liked, and respected for
his fairness, by all of our party, that no one cares to take the
necessary action.  He's the sort of man we want on our side!"

"He's as pig-headed as King George himself!" cried Barbara, hotly.

"No, he's true to his colours!" said Glenowen.  "Only he can't see that
he has nailed them to the mast of the wrong ship!"

"I have no patience with him!" muttered Barbara, bitterly, after a
moment's silence.

"Did you ever have, dearie?" inquired Glenowen.

"What do you mean, Uncle Bob?"

"Forgive me, Barbe, if I speak plainly, these being times for plain
speaking!" said Glenowen.  "Truly, I can't understand a man who loves
you being other than wax in your hands, you witch,--if you took the
trouble to manage him.  That may sound cynical, but I hope not.  It's
true.  You owe Robert to our cause!  We want him!"

Barbara looked down, her face scarlet and her lips quivering.  Then she
faced her uncle bravely.

"I begin to fear I want him for myself, as much as for the cause, Uncle
Bob!" she confessed.

"It's not Cary Patten, then?" asked Glenowen.

Barbara smiled enigmatically.  "Cary Patten is extremely charming!" she
answered.  "But do you know, Uncle Bob, if Robert is still in town?"

"I think," said Glenowen, "I can say with confidence that he will get
away from the city to-morrow or next day,---for friends who love him,
in our party, will let him know the danger of remaining!  One must make
such compromises sometimes, if one is a red-blooded human being and not
a bloodless saint!"

"Uncle Bob, I'm afraid you will never be a Lucius Junius Brutus!" said
Barbara.

"No, thank God!" cried Glenowen, with conviction.

"I'm so glad!" said Barbara, who was very human when she was not all
woman.  "Brutus was right, I think!  But I've always hated him!"

Then she turned to her scrutoir and wrote a cool little note to Robert,
asking him to come in and speak to her a moment the next morning.

At an hour almost unseemly Robert came, of course.  And Barbara was
gracious to him.  As if there had been no estrangement, she talked
frankly of Second Westings matters,--of Doctor John's service in the
siege of Boston, of Doctor Jim's danger because of his opinions, of
Mistress Mehitable's need of her presence at Westings House,--just as
if they were Robert's concern as well as hers.  The gladness came back
to Robert's dark face, and for a moment he was forgetting the barrier
between them.

"And what are you doing, Robert?  Is it not becoming a little dangerous
for you in New York now?" she asked, with gentle frankness.

"I am going away to-morrow, dearest lady," he answered, "lest your
fiery Continentals tie me up!"

"And I go back to Second Westings next week!  And you were going away
without seeing me for good-bye?" asked Barbara, reproachfully.  "Is
this the Robert that used to say he loved me a little?"

Robert looked at her in silence.  "I adore the very ground that your
foot treads upon!" he said, presently, in a quiet voice.

"You love me just as much as you used to?" she inquired, almost
wistfully.

"As much!" he exclaimed, with scorn.  "More and more, every day I
breathe.  These months that you have treated me so cruelly have been
hell on earth.  I don't see how I have lived through them."

"I, too, have not been very happy, Robert!" she acknowledged, softly.
"I believe I have needed you more than I thought.  Do you know, I
almost think I might learn to care a great deal--perhaps all that a
woman can--if only, if _only_, dear Robert, there were not this
dreadful barrier between us?  Oh, if you knew how I long to have you in
sympathy with the cause that all my heart is given to,--to talk it all
over with you, to hope and plan and look forward with you, in
comradeship and understanding!  If you knew--but there, I see by your
obstinate mouth it is no use.  I might as well pour out my heart
against a stone wall.  _Nothing_ will soften you!  _Nothing_ will
convince you!  Love me?  _You_ love me?  You have no heart at all in
your breast!  Nothing but a priggish theory!"

She burst into passionate, disappointed tears, flung herself down on
the sofa, and buried her face in the cushions.

Robert was in an anguish.  His mouth was drawn and white.  Why should
_he_ be called upon to face so hideous an alternative?  Why must _he_
pay so appalling a price for loyalty, for fidelity, for honour?  What
was this bourgeois tyrant in England, that the price of loyalty to him
should be the love of the woman who was dearer than heaven?  Robert
felt a fierce hatred of the man George of England, who was so unworthy
of his kingship!  He was mad to throw himself at Barbara's feet, and
tell her all his life was hers to do as she would with, to offer his
faith, loyalty, honour, a living sacrifice to her love, and bid her
send him to fight under whatever flag she called hers!  But--he held
the madness in leash.  The tough fibre of his will gave a little, but
would not break.  The drops stood out on his forehead.  But all he said
was:

"Beloved, beloved, I worship you.  You are all I can dream of
womanhood.  You are all of life, all of love, all of wonder and beauty
that the world can show.  There is nothing my soul can ever desire but
you, you, you, wonderful one!"  And he tried to take her hands from
under her wet face.

Through her sobs, Barbara had listened eagerly for one word that might
show a yielding.  But there was no such word,--no sign that he even
realised that she had been offering her love as the incalculable price
that should purchase him to the service of his country.  This
infinitely precious price,--he spurned it, then!  Angry mortification
surged over her, mixed with a pain that clutched at her heart.  The
humiliation of it--and the loss!  She sat up suddenly.

"Go, go, go!" she cried, pointing to the door.  "I don't want to ever
see you again.  I hate you.  I hate you.  Go--at _once_!"

And then, as Robert made no move, and strove to plead once more, she
sprang to her feet, darted from the room, and fled up-stairs.  He heard
her door close sharply,--like the cutting off of life, it seemed to
him.  And he went away, walking rather blindly, and fumbling for some
moments at the hall door before he could find the latch.  That same
evening he left New York.

It was hours before Barbara was herself again, so Glenowen had to dine
alone.  Late in the afternoon, after having bathed her face back to
presentability, she dressed to go out for a sharp walk.  When her
toilet was almost complete, word came up that Cary Patten was in the
drawing-room.

Now it was at least six weeks since Cary had last attempted to make
love to her, and in the meantime he had been altogether
charming,--attentive, deferential, full of enthusiastic ambition, and
vastly interesting in his large forecasts of what the thirteen colonies
would do with independence when they got it.  Barbara, therefore, had
practically forgotten that he was ever in disgrace, and was unwilling
to refuse him admittance, little though it suited her mood to see him.
She went down at once and received him cordially.

Cary was in a mood of triumphant excitement, dashed with romantic
melancholy.  He looked even straighter, taller, more broad-shouldered
and high-mettled than usual.  His goldy-brown short hair had a crisper
curl, his candid blue eyes sparkled with joy and importance.

"Oh, I know!  You needn't tell me!" cried Barbara, with hearty
sympathy.  "Only one thing in the world could make your face shine as
it does now, Cary!  You are ordered to the front!"

"You've guessed it, sweet mistress!" he cried, in a voice whose boyish
exultation would not be kept down.  "My company is one of those chosen
by the Committee of Safety to go north.  We march _to-morrow_!  In a
few days we will be in the field--we shall be in the thick of it!"

"Oh, you are so fortunate, Cary!" responded Barbara.  "Think what it
must be to be just a woman, and have to stay at home gnawing one's
heart, while others have the glorious joy of fighting for freedom!"

"Only one thing I need to make me happy as I go, sweet lady!" said he,
his voice tender, passionate, caressing.  "It is bitter to leave you.
But I should go thrilling with happiness, to win fame that would make
you proud, or to die willingly for my country,--if I might go wearing
your favour, if I might go as--" but here he paused.  Barbara's face
was cold and discouraging.

There was a moment of strained silence.  Barbara felt a harsh
resentment at his persistence, and an added anger that it should be
thrust upon her on this day when her heart was so bitter sore.  "Yet,"
she was arguing with herself, "the poor boy does love me.  And, unlike
some others, he is going to fight on the right side, to shed his blood,
perhaps, for the land of his birth.  Why should I not be a little kind
to him,--if he does not ask too much!"  On a sudden generous and
pitying, if misleading, impulse, she took a ribbon from her throat and
gave it to him.

"There, boy," she said, gently, "take that, and don't ever say I was
not good to you!  May it be a charm to ward off the bullet and the
steel!"

A glad light flashed into the lad's face.  He went down on one knee and
kissed the hem of her skirt, crying something inarticulately.  Then he
sprang up and seized her in his arms, and would have kissed her but
that she wrenched herself free with some violence.

"How dare you!" she cried, stamping her foot.

Cary looked crestfallen and bewildered.

"But, Barbara," he protested, blundering in his confusion, "don't you
love me?  I thought--why--this dear ribbon--" and he held it out to her
appealingly.

Barbara's anger faded on the instant.  She saw that in desiring to be
kind she had misled him.  She held out her hand to him, and smiled, as
she said:

"Oh, truly, I'm sorry if I seemed rude, Cary.  Forgive me.  But, you
know, I _had_ to be rather hasty, or you would have kissed me.  And I
couldn't let you kiss me, Cary, even though you are going to the war!"

"Why not, dear heart?" persisted he.  "Am I not going as your chosen
cavalier?  Have you not given me your favour?"

"Why, no--at least, not exactly that--" she stammered.  "I thought you
_knew_, Cary, that I don't love you one bit!  I've told you so over and
over again; and I've sent you away over and over again for bothering me
about it when I had told you not to!  But I do like you, ever so much.
And I shall think of you, away fighting bravely--as I know you
will--for our sacred cause.  And so, I gave you the
ribbon--because--because--you said it would make you a little happier
if you had something of the sort to take with you!  Oh, please do try
to understand, Cary!"  And she twisted her hands in distress.

Cary Patten was too much of a boy not to show all the bitterness of his
overthrow.  He had been lifted up to the crest of triumph, and hurled
down disastrously.  He had believed, when Barbara gave him her token,
that the victory, which his confident spirit had never doubted would be
his at last, had come at this high moment of his career.  He was not
only desperately hurt, but sorely humbled.  His mind worked rapidly,
seeking explanations.  One passion after another chased itself over his
transparent face; till at length Barbara saw his features grow harder
and more mature than she had ever before seen them, and the poor little
ribbon was crumpled ruthlessly in his grip.

"I understand!" he exclaimed, fiercely, a strident tone in his voice
which was quite new to her.  "It is that runaway Tory hound, that
traitor Gault, that--" and here he choked.  "If he has not already run
away I shall settle the scoundrel to-night.  I shall--"

"Silence, sir!" cut in Barbara.  The tone, the look in her face,
brought the mad boy to his senses like a drenching in cold water.  He
could have bitten off his tongue for the outburst.

"Mr. Gault _was_ my friend, and his name is entitled to respect in my
presence!" she went on. "And he _is_ a _gentleman_!  Of you I should
have said the same thing--a few moments ago!  Give me back my
ribbon--what you have left of it, Mr. Patten!"

"Oh, no! no!  Forgive me!"  Cary was crying, in abject penitence, even
while she spoke, at the same time thrusting the ribbon into his breast,
as if he feared that Barbara would take it by force.  "I was crazy mad,
dear heart.  I didn't know what I was saying.  I take it all back.  It
was not so.  I know he is a gentleman and a brave man, if he _is_ a
traitor Tory.  Surely you will forgive me, when you have broken my
heart--Barbara."

While he was speaking Barbara had moved away to the other side of the
table; but now, so dejected did he look, so humble, so repentant, and
withal so wholesomely boyish, that her heart softened once more, and
she came back.

"Yes, Cary, I will overlook it, and make allowance, because I see you
are sorry.  And I am still truly your friend, and will think about you
when you are away.  And I am sorry I did anything to make you
misunderstand me, so you _must_ give me back the poor little ribbon
that did the mischief."

"No, you surely can't be so cruel as that!" he pleaded.  "I feel it
would be unlucky to give it back.  Don't kill me, dear.  Let me keep
the dear ribbon!"

Barbara hesitated.  She wanted the ribbon back.  The giving had been
spoiled for her.  Her impulse was to insist.  But events of late had
softened her, had given her more comprehension of feelings other than
her own,--had made her, indeed, a little less self-centred.  She
crushed down her vexation.

"Well, keep it then, Cary,--and my friendship with it," she said,
gravely.  "And to the blessing with which I blessed it for you, I add
many more,--that fame may come your way, and danger turn aside.
Good-bye!"



CHAPTER XXX.

Barbara felt as if a strange great wind had blown upon New York,
scattering and changing everything.  Robert was gone,--when she was
seeing little of him, and not desiring to see more, she had,
nevertheless, had a satisfaction in knowing he was within reach.  Now
Cary Patten was gone, and Jerry Waite was gone, and young Paget was
gone, and the student enthusiast, young Mr. Hamilton, came no more to
the old Dutch house on State Street, being engrossed in matters of
secrecy and import.  And now she herself and Uncle Bob were going.  She
felt as if that separating wind would inexorably have lifted and borne
her somewhere, even if the haven of Second Westings had not been open.
Fate drove indifferently, but left her free to shape her course for
Westings House and Aunt Hitty, and her own apple-tree down in the back
garden.

A few days later she was at home.  Glenowen, resting but an hour or
two, had hastened on to his duties.  Everything seemed to Barbara just
as when she went away, save that Doctor Jim was graver than of old,
seeming weighed down with care; and Doctor John's absence left a void
that ached all the time.  But her little room was just as she had left
it,--fresh dusted, and with a few things lying about out of place, as
she loved to have it.  The dust upon the coverlet where "Mr. Grim"
slept was there as of old.  "He did not, in fact, sleep there once
during all your absence, dear," declared Mistress Mehitable, "till the
very night before your return, when he forsook me and stalked back to
his old place.  Then I knew that you'd be here the next day, and we
were very happy together; and I gave him clear cream for his breakfast,
and made him very sick!"

Within three days the old life had taken Barbara back at every point,
and she felt as if she had awakened from a brilliant but oppressive
dream.  Of course it was interesting telling it all--or not quite
all--to every one; to every one the truth, yet not to each the same
story.  There was one emphasis for Aunt Hitty and Doctor Jim, one for
the Reverend Jonathan Sawyer, one for Mercy Chapman, and one much more
vivid and enlightening for old Debby.  But even as she told it, it
began to seem unreal to herself.  And soon she grew unwilling to talk
of it at all.

As the bright Connecticut summer slipped by, Barbara could not but
notice a change of temper among the villagers of Second Westings.  To
herself they were as civil, as deferential as ever, but, she thought,
with a little difference.  Half a dozen families had representatives in
the army besieging Boston, and two of the village homes were in
mourning.  When she was walking with Doctor Jim she noticed the
sullenness with which his hearty, kindly greetings were returned,--a
sullenness which Doctor Jim never allowed himself to observe.  Then
there was difficulty in getting extra help when special needs arose at
Westings House.  The people were unwilling to work for Mistress
Mehitable.  They positively refused to work with Amos, who had to give
up his innocently convivial evenings at the tavern and remain sulking
in the kitchen, abused and scorned by Abby because he was always in her
way.  In September, when Congress despatched the army of the north to
conquer Canada, seven more men went from Second Westings, and
enthusiasm grew.  With news of the capture of Montreal came word also
that two of the Second Westings men had fallen in the battle.  Then
feelings grew hot.

One morning, when Barbara was visiting Mercy Chapman's mother,--now a
bedridden invalid,--she looked out of the window and saw Mistress
Mehitable coming down the street.  As she passed his office, she was
joined by Doctor Jim, and the two strolled together toward Squire
Gillig's store.  Suddenly she saw Doctor Jim leave Mistress Mehitable's
side, and stride angrily toward the tavern.  She ran out at once to see
what was the matter.  What she saw set her speeding after Doctor Jim in
breathless indignation.

Amos, his arms tied behind him, was struggling and kicking in the hands
of a dozen men and youths, several of whom had bloody noses to prove
that Amos had stood to his colours.  Now they were hurrying him to the
cooper shop.--where they knew there was a barrel of pitch,--amid cries
of "Ride the sneaking Tory on a rail," "Tar and feather him," "Duck
him," "Hang him."  All at once they were confronted by the tall bulk of
Doctor Jim; and they stopped short.  The old habit of deference was
strong upon them, and several drew away, while others, though they
doggedly maintained their grip on the furious and unterrified Amos,
dropped their eyes and hung their heads when Doctor Jim's angry gaze
fell upon them.

"Hands off!  Drop that man!  You cowardly bullies, a dozen against one!
Drop him, do you hear?"  And without waiting for the effect of his
words he strode into the mob, flung the fringes of it to this side and
that with no gentle hand, and reached those who had actual hold upon
the prisoner.

When he found that they were standing their ground, daring to disobey
his orders, his wrath was tremendous.

"You scoundrels!  You dirty scum of the earth!" he roared.  And with
that he plucked the nearest fellow by the scruff of the neck and the
seat of his breeches and flung him into the gutter.  To the next he
gave an open-handed buffet that sent him reeling from the mêlée.
Ignoring the rest, he was proceeding to unpinion Amos, when the leader
of the mob, a big blacksmith from Westings Centre, who was a famous
demagogue, confronted him.

"Look a-here, Doctor Pigeon," he said, defiantly, "we're lettin' _you_
be, leastways for the present!  You let us be, an' jest mind yer own
business.  Hands off yerself!"

Doctor Jim, apparently, never heard him.

The blacksmith therefore seized Amos by the waist and jerked him from
Doctor Jim's grasp.

"Look a-here, you!" he shouted, squaring off.  "You've got to fight me
afore you untie that man!"

Fight him!  Doctor Jim gave an inarticulate roar of scorn and fury at
the idea.  Then his great white hands shot out like lightning.  One
seized the champion's throat; the other laid terrible hold upon his
waistband, with just so much of clothing and skin and flesh as those
iron fingers could compass.  One huge, dislocating shake and the
champion had no more fight in him.  Doctor Jim lifted his demoralised
opponent bodily, carried him several paces, and dropped him over the
horse trough into the dirty, deep-trodden mud.  Then, seeing that Amos
had got himself free, he strode back to where Mistress Mehitable was
waiting, his heavy eyebrows still working with indignation.

Barbara, whom he had not seen, now had a word to say to the discomfited
rabble, who one and all knew her views and admired her prodigiously.
She eyed them for half a minute with slow, eviscerating scorn.  Then
she said: "_You_ call yourselves patriots!  You make me ashamed of the
name.  If all Americans were like you they'd deserve freedom, wouldn't
they?  And what is that ruffian doing here?" pointing to the
bedraggled, discredited, foaming blacksmith.  "Must you go to Westings
Centre for a leader?  You had better send him back where he belongs!"

"You'd better shet your mouth, miss," sputtered the champion, "or you
may git--" but at this moment the men of Second Westings, recovering
their manhood, fell upon him with great unanimity and completed the
discipline which Doctor Jim had left unfinished.  And Barbara walked
away with her head in the air.

After this Mistress Mehitable, who was herself, and for herself,
absolutely fearless behind her quiet blue eyes, yielded to Doctor Jim's
persuasions and let it be known that Barbara, being her heir, was
partly in authority at Westings House.  Whenever extra help was needed,
therefore, Amos was sent down to Doctor Jim's and Barbara hired her
helpers in her own name.  To her employ the Second Westings men came
willingly enough, and showed themselves humourously tolerant of Abby's
caustic tongue, which was given full run whenever they entered the
kitchen.  And the village settled back gradually into a hollow
imitation of its ancient somnolence.

In the winter, however, not long after Christmas, there was another
stirring of the hot embers.  Word came of Montgomery's death and
Arnold's repulse before the walls of Quebec.  There were men of
Connecticut among those who fell that night in the northern snow.
Those at home required an outlet for their feelings.  What were the
Tories for, if not to afford them a chance of evening matters up?  A
rabble of the worser elements from the up-river villages, led by some
noisy fanatics, descended upon Gault House by night, and set it on fire.

Finding old Lady Gault ill in bed, they somewhat regretted their haste,
and carried her, bed and all, with as much of her clothing as they
could conveniently save, to the house of one of the tenants on the
grounds.  The leaders apologised to her, indeed, assuring her that, had
they known it would so inconvenience her to have her house burnt down
just then, they would have turned their avenging attention elsewhere
for that night and awaited her recovery.  The fiery and arrogant old
lady was so overwhelmed with helpless rage, less at the destruction of
the home of the Gaults with all its treasures than at the desecration
she had suffered, that she was seized next morning with an apoplexy and
died in an hour.

This news brought consternation to Westings House.  Doctor Jim came up
to talk it over.  He was too much enraged to find relief in one of his
customary large ebullitions.  It reduced him to a black silence, which
Barbara found much more impressive than his wrath.

"I feel that you ought to go away, Jim," said Mistress Mehitable, with
a tenderness that made Barbara eye them both sharply, and think of
Doctor John.  "These townships are no place for a reckless partisan
like you!"

"There is just one reason why you might urge me to go, sweet mistress!"
said he.  "Lest I be prisoned here, and so lose the chance to fight for
the king!  But my place is here till John comes back.  You and Barbara
cannot be left alone.  And the sick folks,--I cannot desert them.  But
when John comes--"

"If it be not then too late!  Oh, think, Jim!  Every hour now that you
stay here carries the menace of some ignominious violence!  How can I
stand it?"

"My place is here, at present, most dear lady!" answered Doctor Jim,
with a positiveness that left no room for argument.  "But I think the
men of Second Westings would not quite fail Jim Pigeon, even though
they do curse him behind his back for a Tory!"

The destruction of Gault House and the death of Lady Gault filled
Barbara's heart with pity and tenderness toward Robert.  It oppressed
her with a feeling that he was left desolate, a homeless and wandering
outcast.  She wondered where and when the news would reach him,--being
such evil news she felt sure it would journey fast.  No word or rumour
had she heard of him since that day of their harsh parting in the old
Dutch house on State Street.

A few days later she heard from Glenowen, who was now in command of one
of the regiments besieging Boston, that Cary Patten, after covering
himself with glory by his wild daring and desperate exploits, had
fallen with Montgomery before the walls of Quebec.  This news sent
Barbara to her room for the afternoon.  Besides her many tears for the
gallant boy, who had loved her gallantly and truly, she could not for
the moment rid herself of a vague remorse.  Had she been quite fair to
him?  Had she encouraged him even while repelling him?  At first she
called herself guilty.  But after some hours of this self-reproach she
came to a clearer view, and saw that it was sentimental weakness to
accuse herself.  Her grief on his account, however, was deep and
sincere.  "Poor, beautiful, brave boy!" she sighed, at last.  "How
little good to him were my token and my blessings!  I fear I am a
curse, and not a blessing, to any one who greatly cares for me!"  Then
the thought flashed across her--"If it were Robert, instead of poor
Cary!  How do I know that Robert, too, has not been--" and at the
thought her heart stood still.  A sort of numbness came over her, and
she found herself shaking violently.  She had been lying with her face
in the pillow, but now she sat up sharply, brushed the thick, dark
locks back from her eyes, went over to the dressing-table, lit two
candles, and looked at her white, frightened face in the glass.

"I didn't know I cared--like that!" she said to herself, at last.



CHAPTER XXXI.

In the spring, a little before the fall of Boston, Doctor John came
home.  Second Westings learned then for the first time what he had so
studiously and considerately kept concealed,--the fact that he had been
wounded in a skirmish two months before.  As soon as he was well enough
for the journey, he had been ordered home.  He looked gaunt, and walked
with some difficulty, but otherwise seemed fairly well; and he made
haste to take back his old patients, with many expressions of amazement
that they had not died off under Jim Pigeon's treatment.

His coming brought new cheer to Westings House; and to Barbara,
reassured by his explicit accounts of her uncle's abounding health, it
meant such stimulus and diversion as was to be had of endless,
sympathetic talks.  The little group of four were as close to one
another as of old,--yet with a difference.  The love and trust were as
of old, but the dividing of hopes and aims threw Barbara more and more
with Doctor John, Mistress Mehitable more and more with Doctor Jim.
This seemed perfectly natural,--yet it soon began to cause a certain
heaviness on Doctor John's part, which made his whimsical sallies grow
infrequent.  It caused, at the same time, a certain uneasiness on the
part of Doctor Jim; and Mistress Mehitable was seen more than once with
tears in her eyes, when, as it seemed to Barbara, there was no very
definite reason for the phenomenon.  And all these symptoms troubled
Barbara.  She grew more than commonly tender of Doctor John.

One day when she and Doctor John and Doctor Jim had strolled down to
the tavern to see the Hartford coach come in, they found a knot of
eager listeners gathered about two horsemen who were drinking a pot of
ale.  As the little party approached, its members were pointed out, and
the horsemen turned to look at them with sharp interest.  The two came
from up the river, in the next county, and were on their way to join
the Connecticut battalions under Putnam.  They were bitter partisans,
and one of them had lost a brother in the fighting at Quebec.  To them
it was of little account that Doctor John was a good rebel,--such, in
their eyes, all good men were bound to be.  And they did not appreciate
the fact that he was an officer in the army they were about to join.
What they saw was simply Doctor Jim, the declared Tory, shameless and
unafraid.  They eyed him with growing menace, uncertain, by reason of
the fact that he was walking between Barbara and Doctor John, just what
they wanted to do.

Presently Doctor Jim swung away by himself to speak to a lad whose
mother he was treating.  He was giving some little order, when the two
horsemen, riding up to him, thrust him against the icy watering-trough
so unexpectedly that he fell over it.  Bewildered, and not
understanding that he had been deliberately attacked, he was picking
himself up in a sputter of vexation, when one of the riders, a
fierce-eyed, burly fanatic, reached over the trough and cut at him
viciously with his riding-whip, exclaiming, "Take that, you damned Tory
dog!"

The blow missed Doctor Jim's head, but fell smartly across his
shoulders.  The next moment a great hand seized the rider, tore him
from his seat, jammed him furiously against his horse's rump, and
dashed him down upon the dirty snow.  Then Doctor John turned to deal
likewise with the second culprit.  But he had forgotten his wound.  He
grew white, reeled, and would have fallen, but that two of the Second
Westings men sprang to his aid and held him up.

When the stroke of the whip fell on his shoulders, Doctor Jim had
understood.  With one of his wordless explosive roars he had sprung
right over the trough to take Homeric vengeance.  But when he saw
Doctor John he forgot all about vengeance, he forgot all about the
attack.

"What is it, John?" he cried, picking him up as if the huge frame were
a feather, and carrying him to the settee outside the inn door.

"Nothing, Jim, nothing!  The old wound, you know, and the heart not yet
just right," muttered Doctor John, recovering quickly, but leaning on
his brother's shoulder.  Barbara, meanwhile, had run to fetch brandy,
which she now brought, along with the landlord.

The two horsemen had had their wrath for the moment diverted by the
sudden turn of events.  But now--the fellow who had been so mauled in
Doctor John's grip having remounted, bursting with rage--they thought
it time to return to the attack, and made an effort to push through the
little crowd.  Failing in this, they cursed Doctor Jim with varied
vigour, and told him what they intended to do when they could get at
him.  In their righteous wrath they failed to notice that they were not
making themselves popular with the crowd.  Neither Doctor Jim nor
Barbara paid the slightest attention to their curses, not seeming to
hear them; but Doctor John attended.

"Lads!" he said, lifting his head with difficulty.  "Lads of Second
Westings!  Shall we let these insolent scoundrels talk to us that way?"

"No, sir!  No, sir!  No, sir!" shouted a dozen voices,--whereupon
Barbara turned and beamed upon them unutterable favour.  The landlord,
with several other stout fellows, seized the strangers' bridles and
forced the horses back toward the road.

"Ye'd better be gettin' on!" admonished mine host, grinning but
decisive.  "Ye don't rightly understand us here, I calculate!  Better
get on now, for convenience!"

The horsemen seemed to have forgotten their wrath in their astonishment.

"Are you all Tories, too?" they found voice to demand.

"We're as good patriots as ever you be!" rejoined mine host, crisply.
"But if we've got any Tories among us they're our own, and we'll see
about 'em ourselves, our own way.  Now clear out!"  And he hit the nigh
horse a smart slap on the rump, making him bound forward.

By this time the leader and spokesman of the twain had recovered his
full head of anger.  He had no quixotic notion of undertaking to
discipline Second Westings village.  But he conceived a very clear
purpose.  Reining his excited horse down violently, he shook his fist
at the crowd, and shouted:

"If you choose to harbour a dirty Tory, there be men and patriots in
the other townships who'll come right soon an' teach you yer duty!"

"Oh, you clear out!" jeered the Second Westings men.

That evening, at Westings House, while the beginnings of a bleak March
wind storm blustered and whimpered outside, Mistress Mehitable brewed a
hot posset of uncommonly cheering quality.  The cheer was needed; for
all felt that a crisis of some sort, or some grave change, was at hand.
Doctor John, who had quite recovered, tried in vain to make his fooling
sound spontaneous.  The grave eyes of Destiny would persist in looking
out through the jester's-mask.  At length Doctor Jim exclaimed,
abruptly:

"I must go, now!  I must take Amos and slip away in the night, and go
wherever men are gathering to fight for the king.  I'm not needed here
now, John, since you are back to take care of Mehitable and Barbara!"

It was what all had been waiting for, but it came with a shock--the
shock of conviction, not of surprise--to all.  Mistress Mehitable
turned ghost pale, and unconsciously her hand went to her heart.
Doctor John noticed the action, with sad eyes that belied the humour of
his mouth.  Barbara sprang up, rushed over to Doctor Jim, and flung her
arms around his neck.

"_Please_ don't go, Doctor Jim!" she pleaded.  "This is the place for
you.  And here we all love you so we don't care _what_ side you're on.
And as for going to fight for your side,--of course, you want to, we
all know that,--but you _never_ can get through to the coast.  You can
never get through our people.  No, you can't, Doctor Jim!  You must
stay here with us.  Help me hold him, Aunt Hitty!"

"Jim," said Doctor John, his voice trembling with earnestness, "I
appeal to you to stay.  Don't break our hearts by going.  Stay for our
sakes.  I know, brother, how you feel,--and believing as you do, I
don't blame you,--I'll never blame you.  But _Barbara is right_.  _You
can't get through_.  You can stay with a clear conscience!"

Mistress Mehitable, since becoming assured of the attitude of the
Second Westings men, had lost all her dread of having him stay, and
gained a quivering fear of having him go.  Forgetful of all else, she
now laid her slim hand on his, looked at him with her whole soul in her
eyes, and said:

"_Must_ you?  Oh, Jim, are you so sure you ought to go?"

A faint spasm passed over Doctor John's face--Barbara alone observing
it--and seemed to leave it older and sterner.  He opened his mouth to
speak, but Doctor Jim was ahead of him.

"Yes, I know my duty.  If a man sees it, he's got to do it,--eh, what,
dearest lady in the world?  I wish I didn't see it so plain.  Then I
might stay here with you all, you whom I love.  But I see my duty, to
fight for the king, just as plain as you saw yours, John, to fight for
your damned old Congress!"

"I'm not going to fight any more!" interrupted Doctor John, speciously.

Doctor Jim laughed, tenderly derisive.

"No, but you're sending, and equipping, and supporting two able-bodied
substitutes, aren't you?  But another point is, my Barbara,--by staying
I should bring disaster on you all.  The good folk of Second
Westings--and they _are_ good folk, though rebels, alas!--will never
stand by and see the Ladds and Pigeons, whatever their views, molested
by an outside world.  When your fiery patriots from up the river come
to ride me on a rail, Second Westings will stand in the way and get its
honest head broken.  _You_ wouldn't do it, John Pigeon!  You'd cut off
your head, before you'd let the poor souls get their heads broken for
you in a cause that they believe all wrong.  I'd be a coward to let
them, John.  Would you ask me to be a coward?"

"Wouldn't be much use asking," growled Doctor John.  "But you're all
wrong, as usual, Jim!"  Then he turned suddenly to Mistress Mehitable,
with a meaning look.

"You speak, Mehitable!  You _make_ him stay.  Demand it of him--as your
right!  Keep him!"

Doctor Jim searched his brother's face, first with terrible question,
then with the growing light of a great joy.  Barbara watched
breathless, forgetful of the fate of dynasties.  Here, she felt, were
problems that had held long lives in doubt, now working to instant
solution.  Mistress Mehitable turned scarlet, and she, too, questioned
the sombre, tender eyes of Doctor John.  But she said, quite simply:

"I'm afraid, John, if he thinks he ought to go he'll go.  But I do ask
you to stay, Jim."

"_Don't_, Mehitable!" groaned Doctor Jim.

"There, what did I tell you, John?" she said.

But now certain things, uncertain all his life till now, were quite
clear to Doctor John.  Slowly, as if it hurt him, he got up.  He went
over to where Mehitable was sitting, quite close to Doctor Jim.  He
laid a hand on each, caressingly,--and to Mehitable that touch,
suddenly grown bold and firm, was a renunciation.  He had never touched
her that way before.

"It is all right, Jim!  It is all right, Mehitable!" said he, in a very
low but quite steady voice.  "I never was sure till now,--but I ought
to have understood,--for I see now it was always _yours_, Jim.  Forgive
me, brother.  I ought not to have stood in the way."

"John!" cried Doctor Jim, catching the caressing hand in a fervent
clasp.  "God bless you!  But--on my honour I have never said a word!"

"I know, Jim, I know.  We've always played fair to each other.  But now
you can speak.  And now,--you don't need to speak, either of you.  Your
faces speak plain enough, to the eyes of one who loves you both!"

"Is it true, Mehitable?  After all these years that I've kept
silence,--oh, is it true?" asked Doctor Jim, scarcely above a whisper,
reaching out his hands to her longingly.

For one instant she laid hers in his.  Then she withdrew them quickly,
seized Doctor John's hand in both of hers, laid her cheek against it,
and burst into tears.

"Oh, John, dear John," she sobbed.  "How can I bear that you should be
unhappy?"

Doctor John blinked, and made a little noise in his throat.  Then, with
a brave levity, he exclaimed:

"Tut!  Tut!  Don't you worry about me, either of you, now.  As for you,
Jim Pigeon, you Tory scoundrel, I'm getting the best of you, after all.
For I stay right here and take care of her, Lord knows how long, while
you go off, Lord knows where, and get yourself poked full of holes for
your old King George--  Eh, what, baggage? as Jim would say!"  And he
turned unexpectedly toward Barbara, who had been standing by the
window, and peering diligently out into the blackness for the past ten
minutes,--and surreptitiously wiping her eyes as well as her nose.

"Yes, indeed you _do_ get the best of the bargain," she cheerfully and
mendaciously agreed.

Two days later, in the dark before moonrise, Doctor Jim and Amos
slipped away on horseback by the road to Westings Landing.  And Doctor
John went with them as far as the Landing, to put them into trusty
hands for their night voyage down the river.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A few days after Doctor Jim's going, came the news that Washington had
entered Boston, the troops of the king having given up the defence and
sailed away to Halifax.  Soon afterward there was bustle in Second
Westings, and camp talk, and military swagger; for a portion of the
army was moving down to New York, and many men had leave to visit their
homes in passing; and some, who had enlisted for a short service, had
come home to get in the crops before reënlisting; and some, grudging
souls, had come home to stay, saying that it was now the time for
others to sweat and bleed for their country.

Amid all this excitement, which had some effect even upon Mistress
Mehitable, antagonistic though she was to it, the palely brilliant
Connecticut spring rushed over the land with promise.  Never before, it
seemed, did the vanguards of the song-sparrows and thrushes so crowd
the blowing thickets with melody; never before the bright hordes of the
dandelions so suddenly and so goldenly over-flood the meadows.  But to
Barbara the iridescent glory was somehow more sad than gloom.  The fact
that her cause was everywhere prospering, that success had fallen to
the Continental arms beyond anything that she had dared to hope,
brought her no elation.  She felt the sorrow that had come into Doctor
John's life in spite of the big, whimsical gaiety with which he kept it
covered up.  She felt the fierce tugging at Mistress Mehitable's
heart-strings, though that thoroughbred little lady never revealed,
save by the dark eye-shadows of sleepless nights, the pangs it cost her
to be deprived in a day of the lover whom she had been half a lifetime
in finding out.  Barbara felt, too, the absence of Doctor Jim, who
seemed to her so big and boyish and reckless and unfit to take care of
himself that he could not fail to get into trouble if not kept at home
and mothered by small women like herself and Aunt Hitty.  And most of
all she felt the crushing uncertainty as to Robert.

When summer was approaching high tide, Second Westings grew quiet
again, the soldiers being all called back to their colours to make
ready the defences of New York.  Then, by hard-riding express
messengers, the tidings flew over the country that Congress at
Philadelphia, on the fourth day of July, had declared independence, and
set up a republic to be known as the "United States of America."
Second Westings went wild with enthusiasm, and that night there was a
terrific consumption of old tar barrels and dry brush.  And there was a
select little dinner at Squire Gillig's, to which Barbara and Doctor
John felt in duty bound to go,--and from which Mistress Mehitable, with
an equal devotion to duty, stayed away.  She had taken the news
gracefully enough, however, merely suggesting to Barbara and Doctor
John that possibly all the rejoicing might turn out to be a little
premature.

Thereafter it seemed to Barbara that events moved furiously, one piece
of vital news following close upon the heels of its predecessor.  Early
in August came word that a great English army for the capture of New
York was landing at Staten Island.  Then, the first tidings of
Robert,--reaching Barbara in a letter from her uncle, whose regiment
was holding Brooklyn.  Glenowen wrote that from certain neutrals,
country-folk of Long Island, who had no party but their cabbage-patch,
he had learned of both Robert Gault and Doctor Jim.  Doctor Jim, as
representing one of the oldest and most distinguished families of
Connecticut, and himself widely known, had been attached to the staff
of the English general, Sir William Howe, while Robert Gault, with the
rank of captain, was in command of a troop of irregular Loyalist Horse.
With the unspeakable relief that these tidings brought her, Barbara
regained for a few days her old vivacity, imperiousness, and daring.
She tore about the country wildly as of old, on horseback,--no longer,
as a rule, on Black Prince, who had grown too sedate to fully fall in
with her caprices, but on a fiery young sorrel which she had bought for
herself, choosing it partly for its own qualities, and partly for its
resemblance to Robert's old Narragansett pacer.  She resumed her
canoeing on the lake.  She sang again her old plantation songs, to
Doctor John's accompaniment and Mistress Mehitable's diversion.  She
put a new and gayer ribbon on the neck of the furry "Mr. Grim."  She
even remembered that the bergamot was in flower, and set herself with
interest to the distilling of her half-forgotten "Water of Maryland
Memories," laughing indulgently the while at the girlishly sentimental
name of it.  Meantime she was conscious of a curiously divided interest
in the war,--conscious that her interest was divided in a fashion that
would, a year ago, have seemed to her wicked and impossible.  Just as
passionately as ever was her heart set upon the triumph of her cause.
But she felt an irrational desire that Robert and Doctor Jim should win
each a splendid victory on his own account.  She was full of pity that
they should be on what she held the surely losing side, and she wanted
some measure of glory to be theirs.

But the next news that came dashed her spirits.  It told of the battle
of Long Island, and the defeat of the Continentals by the ordered
British lines.  It told of the panic flight of patriot regiments.  It
told of General Washington's retreat from Long Island and entrenching
of the army at New York.  A few days later came a letter to Barbara
from Glenowen,--whose regiment had stood firm and suffered heavily,--in
which he said that he did not think it would be possible to hold New
York with the troops at Washington's command, and that there would
doubtless soon be a further retreat to some position beyond the Harlem.
The letter made no mention of Doctor Jim,--which caused Barbara to
remind Mistress Mehitable that no news was good news,--but it spoke
with somewhat bitter praise of Robert Gault.  It said that Robert's
little squadron of mad Tories had gone through the Continental ranks
like flame, irresistible and deadly, and had done more than anything
else to cause the breaking of Putnam's lines.  Robert had had his horse
shot under him, and his hat shot off, but had himself, as report said,
escaped without a scratch, though with a much diminished troop.  As she
was reading this out to Mistress Mehitable, all at once and to her deep
mortification her scrupulously matter-of-fact voice thrilled and broke.
Mistress Mehitable shot her a glance of swift understanding and
sympathy, and then pretended that she had noticed nothing unusual.
Barbara coughed, and went on.  But her voice had become unmanageable.
With an impatient gesture and a toss of her head she handed over the
letter.

"You'll have to read it yourself, honey!  It upsets me to hear of our
poor fellows beaten like this!" she cried, hypocritically.

"Of course, dear, I quite understand!" replied Mistress Mehitable,
keeping her eyes strictly upon the letter, that she might the more
easily seem deceived.

A few days later, Glenowen's prediction was fulfilled, and the news
that came to Second Westings was of Washington's hasty retreat from New
York to the Harlem Heights, leaving his artillery and heavy baggage
behind.  Then for a month there was expectancy, and to Barbara in her
quiet green land it seemed marvellous that the two armies could lie
facing each other in this way, day after day, and not be stirred to
decisive action.  She wondered how their nerves could bear the strain
of such waiting.

The bright September dragged by in drowsy fashion, and October ran on
in its blue and golden-brown; and then the word that came was of yet
another retreat.  The British had enlarged their narrow borders, and
Washington had drawn back to the line of the Bronx, where he fortified
himself strongly so as to hold the roads leading inland.  Would he
never stop retreating, questioned Barbara, anxiously, echoing the cry
that went up all over the infant Union.  "I think not, dear!" responded
Mistress Mehitable, cheerfully.  But Doctor John, who understood the
conditions, declared that this Fabian policy was the only sound one,
while the Continental troops were getting seasoned and learning the
arts of war.  Even while this teaching was being digested, came word of
the fierce battle of White Plains, where the two armies, in numbers
closely matched, long held each other by the throat without decisive
advantage.  When, two days later, the Continentals again withdrew, this
time to hasty entrenchments at New Castle, Doctor John had hard work to
convince Barbara that this long-drawn-out and bloody struggle was not
an American defeat.  For days thereafter word kept coming in, telling
of the losses on both sides, and supplying vivid details; and the
blinds of mourning were drawn down in more than one modest Second
Westings home.  A brief message came from Glenowen, saying that he was
safe and well.  But of Doctor Jim no word; of Robert not a word.  And
Barbara and Mistress Mehitable durst not meet each other's eyes lest
either should read therein, and cry aloud, the fear in the other's
heart.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

With the coming in of this tumultuous November, there came to Second
Westings a few days of Indian summer magic.  The moveless air seemed a
distillation of dreams.  The faint azure haze hung everywhere, soft yet
cool, with an elusive fragrance as of clean smoke and fading roses and
fresh earth-mould and lofts of grain.  And on one of these consecrated
days Barbara set out early in the morning to paddle across the lake and
see old Debby.

As on a morning long ago, but not so early, she ran down the back
garden path, and behind the barn, and climbed the pasture bars.  This
time she called to Keep; and the big mastiff, who now slept later than
of old, came somewhat stiffly gamboling from his manger bed in the
horse stable.  She tripped along the pasture path, between the
hillocks.  She trod rapidly the black earth of the old wood-road, where
the shadows were lighter now, and no sound broke the stillness save the
eerie sigh and footfall of the dropping leaves.  She launched the canoe
with easy vigour, motioned Keep to his place in the bow, and pushed out
with strong, leisurely strokes across the enchanted mirror.  That
far-off morning of her flight came back to her with strange poignancy,
and she wondered if the blue heron would be standing at the outlet to
admonish her with his enigmatic gaze.

As she approached the outlet, the point was vacant.  But suddenly a
strange, dishevelled figure, hatless, and in a blood-stained British
uniform, emerged from the trees near by, came down amid the tall yellow
grasses, and stood staring across the lake.  He stood thus with blank
eyes for a moment, apparently not seeing the canoe, then pitched
forward, and lay on his face close to the water's edge.

With one sharp cry of his name, Barbara surged upon the paddle and shot
the canoe toward land, wasting no mare breath on words.  She sprang
ashore, turned the still form over, loosened the low vest and the
throat of the shirt, and dashed water in the white, stained, deathlike
face.  At first she thought he was dead, and she felt things growing
black before her eyes.  Then she caught herself, and held herself
steady for the need.  If she could not be strong now, what right had
she to call herself a woman, or to love a man.  She felt at his heart
and found that he was alive.  She saw that he was sorely wounded.  She
told herself that he had swooned from loss of blood, weariness,
hunger,--but that he had lived, would live, must live.  Then she
dragged him further back into the grass, where he was hidden.

Calling Keep from the canoe, she sat down for a moment with Robert's
head in her lap, and planned what should be done.  He must not be found
in Second Westings, that she knew.  For an English prisoner of war it
would be all very well,--but for a Tory it might be different.  She
could take no risks.  In a moment or two her mind was made up.  She
bent over, and kissed the unresponding mouth.  Then she rose, and
turned to Keep, who had stood sniffing at Robert's clothes with
sympathetic interest.  They were shocking clothes, but Keep dimly
remembered the man within them.  Barbara pointed to the helpless
figure, saying:

"Lie down, Keep!"

And Keep lay down, with his muzzle on Robert's arm.

"Guard, sir!" commanded Barbara.  And Keep rolled upon her a
comprehending and obedient eye.  Then she pushed off the canoe, and
paddled hastily down the river to fetch old Debby.

During all these years since Barbara's interrupted flight, no one had
really read her heart, or been the unacknowledged recipient of her
confidences, so fully as Mrs. Debby Blue.  Now, when Barbara arrived,
breathless, with great, strained eyes, tears in her voice, but her red
mouth sternly set, the old woman understood with few words.  At another
time, Barbara would have been amazed at this swift understanding.  Now,
she was only grateful for it.  While she was explaining, Debby was
rummaging on shelves and in boxes, looking for sundry simples of her
cunning extraction.  At last she said:

"Don't you be worried, my sweeting.  If Mr. Robert kin be cured up, old
Debby's the one that kin cure him up, well as any doctor in the land,
not even exceptin' Doctor Jim.  An' I've got the place where we kin
hide him, too, an' keep him safe till he gits well.  An' now, I'm after
you, Miss Barby, sweetheart!"

"God bless your dear, true heart, Debby," cried Barbara, leading the
way in hot haste to the canoe.

When they arrived at the point, Robert was just recovering
consciousness, in a dazed fashion.  They saw him make an effort to sit
up; and they saw Keep, who was nothing if not literal in his
interpretation of Barbara's commands, put his two huge fore paws on
Robert's breast and firmly push him down again.  The tears jumped to
Barbara's eyes at this, and she gave a little hysterical laugh,
exclaiming:

"Just look at that, Debby!  Good _dear_ old Keep!  Even he knows that
Robert must be kept hidden!"

When they got to him, he sat up determinedly, and recognised Barbara
with a look of utter content.

"You, my lady!  I have come a very long way to look--" and then he sank
off again, falling back into Barbara's supporting arms.

[Illustration: _He sank off again, falling back into Barbara's
supporting arms_.]

"Why, he's _starved_, that's what he is!" exclaimed Debby, examining
him critically and feeling his pulse.  "An' he's lost pretty nigh all
the blood was ever in him.  An' he's got two wounds here, either one
enough to do for a man!"

She forced some fiery liquor down his throat, and then, as a faint
colour came back to his lips, she gave him to drink from a bottle of
milk.  He drank eagerly, but automatically, without opening his eyes.

"He's been wounded at White Plains, poor dear!" murmured Barbara,
leaning over him a face of brooding tenderness.

"An' he's wandered all the way up here, a-lookin' for you, Miss Barby!"
responded the old woman.

"Do you really think so?" murmured Barbara.

"No manner of doubt!" said old Debby, positively, as she set about
dressing and binding Robert's wounds.

In a little while Robert was able to sit up again; and then to be
helped to his feet; and then to be half guided, half carried to the
canoe.  There he was placed on a bed of heaped armfuls of dry grass.
Old Debby squatted precariously in the bow,--she was more at home in a
punt than in a canoe,--and Barbara thrust out from shore, heading down
the little river.

Robert was still too far gone in exhaustion to explain his strange
appearance at Second Westings, or to ask any questions, or to care
where he was going, so long as he was able to open his eyes every once
in awhile and look at Barbara.  When he did so, Barbara would smile
back reassuringly, and lay a slim brown finger on her lips, as a sign
that he was not to talk.  And happily he would close his eyes again.

Barbara paddled down past Debby's landing, past the ducks and hens and
turkeys, now too lazy to make more than casual comment.  Keep,
meanwhile, followed anxiously along the shore, close to the edge, and
now and then splashing in belly deep.

"How far is it, Debby dear?" asked Barbara, presently.

"Jest a little mite furder," answered the old woman, who relished the
situation immensely.  "A matter of half a mile, maybe!"

And so they slipped noiselessly on, in that enchanted light, over that
enchanted water with its reflections of amber and blue.  Some crows,
grown suddenly garrulous over private matters, cawed pleasantly in the
pine-tops a little way off against the sky, and then subsided again
into silence.

On both banks of the stream the trees held out their leaves, russet and
gold, amethyst and bronze and scarlet, like so many little elfin hands
attesting that all fair dreams come true at last for those who have the
key to the inner mysteries.

Barbara was paddling in a dream herself, when suddenly old Debby said,
"Turn in here, my sweeting!  Here to your right!"

"But where?" asked Barbara, puzzled.  "I don't see any place to turn
in!"

"Straight through them dripping branches yonder by the water-logged
stump!" directed the old woman.  "Straight on through!"

As the prow of the canoe came up to what was seemingly the shore, old
Debby parted the branches.  As the canoe pushed onward, she continued
this process,--and a few feet in from the main stream they entered a
long, narrow deadwater, deep and clear, and perfectly hidden from the
world.  It was perhaps a hundred yards in length, slightly winding; and
at its head, on a gentle rise, stood a little deserted log cabin.

"Oh, _Debby_!" cried Barbara.  "How did you ever find such a place?"

"It's been empty this ten year!" answered Debby.  "An' folks has
forgotten, that ever knowed.  An' I've been keepin' it to myself, when
I wanted to get away from the ducks an' hens a mite.  An' I've kep' it
from fallin' to pieces.  I'll nurse Master Robert here till he's able
to get away, if it takes a year.  An' I'll come back and forward in my
punt.  There's a bunk ready now, full of pine-needles; an' when we get
him into it we'll go back to make it all right with Aunt Hitty.
_Ain't_ I got a head on my old shoulders, now, Miss Barby?"

Even as Debby had so swiftly and fully planned, it was done.  Robert
was still so far gone in exhaustion, and so wandering in his mind, that
Barbara would not let him talk; and before they left him--with Keep an
incorruptible sentry at the door--he had fallen into a deep sleep.
When they returned a couple hours later, he was awake and quite clear,
and so determined to talk that Barbara could not but let him.  He sat
up in the bunk, but Barbara, bending shining eyes down close to his,
laid him back upon the pillow.

"Debby says you must not sit up at all, Robert!" she said.

"And what do you say, my lady?" he asked, devouring her radiant dark
face with his eyes.

"I say so, too!" she answered, laughing softly.

"Why, my lady?" he persisted.

"Because it will hinder you getting well, Silly!" she replied, touching
his hair with cool fingers.

"What matter about a 'damned Tory' getting well?" he began, being very
weak and foolish.  But the slim hand sweetly closed his mouth.

"How did you get here--to me?" Barbara asked, changing the subject.

He smiled up at her.

"We charged through the rebels!" he explained, frankly.  "We cut them
down, and scattered them, and chased them till we were within the
enemy's lines.  Then we could not get back.  They surrounded us.  They
overwhelmed us.  We were annihilated.  I escaped, I shall never know
how, hatless and horseless, as you found me, my lady, I tried to get
back to my regiment.  It was no use.  Then, somehow, a spirit in my
feet led me back here, to you.  I just escaped capture a score of
times.  I had nothing to eat for days, save roots and leaves.  I
remember coming to the shore of the dear lake, and straining my eyes
across it, to see the chimneys of the house where my love lay.  Then I
saw no more, knew no more, till I saw my love herself in very truth,
leaning her face over mine.  And I thought I was in heaven, my lady."

"You still love me, Robert, after the hideous way I treated you?"
questioned Barbara, her voice a little tremulous.

He started again to sit up; but being again suppressed, was fain to
content himself with clutching both her hands to his lips.

"There is nothing in the world but you, Barbara," he said.  "There is
nothing I want but you, wonderful one!"

"Then--you may take me, Robert, I think!" she whispered, dropping her
face, and brushing his lips with her hair.

"Me?" he cried, in a voice suddenly strong, glad, and incredulous.
"Me?  Sick near to death, hunted near to death, a beaten and fleeing
enemy, a Tory?  I may take you, my queen, my beloved?"

"Whatever you are, dear, I have found that you are my love," she
answered.  "I don't care much what you are, so long as you are mine.  I
find I am just a woman, Robert--and in my conceit I thought myself
something more.  I love my country, truly.  But I love my lover more.
I shall not ask you whether you bow to King or to Congress,--but only
ask you to get well!"

He reached up both arms, and slowly pulled down her still averted face
till it was close to his.  Then she turned her face suddenly to him,
and her lips met his.  A moment later she untwined his arms, went to
the door, and glanced unheeding down at old Debby, gathering wood.
Then, her face and eyes still glowing, she came back, smoothed his
hair, kissed him lightly on the forehead, and said, "Now you must be
quiet, dear.  Debby will scold me if I let you talk any more!"

But Robert was excited, drunk with new joy after long despair.

"Just one word, and I will obey, dear heart!  Listen, my lady.  I will
draw sword no more in this quarrel.  I have given my blood, my
lands,--I have given, as I thought, my love,--for a cause already lost,
for a cause that I felt to be wrong from the day of Lexington, But
whichever side wins, I will stay in my own country, if my country, when
it is all over, will let me stay.  When I am well enough to go
away--love, love, will you go with me, to return, when the fighting and
the fury cease, to our own dear river and our own dear woods?"

"Yes, you know I will, Robert," answered Barbara, kneeling down and
looking into his eyes.  "You know that is what I am planning, dear one.
Now go to sleep, and get well, and take me away when you will!"  And
holding her hand against his neck he forthwith went to sleep, like a
child, tired and contented.

Barbara knelt for a long time unmoving, her hand warm in his weak
clasp, and was grateful to old Debby for staying so long away.  As she
knelt, the side of her face to the door, she heard a soft _thud, thud_
on the threshold, and looked around out of the corners of her eyes
without turning her head.  She saw two wild rabbits, filled with
curiosity at finding the cabin door open.  They hopped in warily, and
went bounding all about the room, sniffing with their sensitive, cleft
nostrils; waving their ears back and forth at every faint whisper; and
from time to time sitting up to ponder their discovery.  One of them
bounded over Barbara's little foot, turned to examine it, and nibbled
tentatively at the heel of her shoe till she had to make the muscles
tense to keep him from pulling it off.  Then, standing up together for
a moment, they seemed to take counsel and conclude that they had
business elsewhere.  As they hopped lazily away from the door, Barbara
got up and followed to look after them.  The wonderful day was drawing
to its close; and long, straight beams of rosy gold, enmeshed with the
haze, were streaming through the trees to her very feet.  She laughed a
little happy laugh under her breath.  Those bright paths leading to the
sun seemed a fair omen.



THE END.



A FEW OF GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

Great Books at Little Prices

NEW, CLEVER, ENTERTAINING.


GRET: The Story of a Pagan.  By Beatrice Mantle.  Illustrated by C. M.
Relyea.

The wild free life of an Oregon lumber camp furnishes the setting for
this strong original story.  Gret is the daughter of the camp and is
utterly content with the wild life--until love comes.  A fine book,
unmarred by convention.


OLD CHESTER TALES.  By Margaret Deland.  Illustrated by Howard Pyle.

A vivid yet delicate portrayal of characters in an old New England town.

Dr. Lavendar's fine, kindly wisdom is brought to bear upon the lives of
all, permeating the whole volume like the pungent odor of pine,
healthful and life giving.  "Old Chester Tales" will surely be among
the books that abide.


THE MEMOIRS OF A BABY.  By Josephine Daskam.  Illustrated by F. Y. Cory.

The dawning intelligence of the baby was grappled with by its great
aunt, an elderly maiden, whose book knowledge of babies was something
at which even the infant himself winked.  A delicious bit of humor.


REBECCA MARY.  By Annie Hamilton Donnell.  Illustrated by Elizabeth
Shippen Green.

The heart tragedies of this little girl with no one near to share them,
are told with a delicate art, a keen appreciation of the needs of the
childish heart and a humorous knowledge of the workings of the childish
mind.


THE FLY ON THE WHEEL.  By Katherine Cecil Thurston.  Frontispiece by
Harrison Fisher.

An Irish story of real power, perfect in development and showing a true
conception of the spirited Hibernian character as displayed in the
tragic as well as the tender phases of life.


THE MAN FROM BRODNEY'S.  By George Barr McCutcheon.  Illustrated by
Harrison Fisher.

An island in the South Sea is the setting for this entertaining tale,
and an all-conquering hero and a beautiful princess figure in a most
complicated plot.  One of Mr. McCutcheon's best books.


TOLD BY UNCLE REMUS.  By Joel Chandler Harris.  Illustrated by A. B.
Frost, J. M. Conde and Frank Verbeck.

Again Uncle Remus enters the fields of childhood, and leads another
little boy to that non-locatable land called "Brer Rabbit's Laughing
Place," and again the quaint animals spring into active life and play
their parts, for the edification of a small but appreciative audience.


THE CLIMBER.  By E. F. Benson.  With frontispiece.

An unsparing analysis of an ambitious woman's soul--a woman who
believed that in social supremacy she would find happiness, and who
finds instead the utter despair of one who has chosen the things that
pass away.


LYNCH'S DAUGHTER.  By Leonard Merrick.  Illustrated by Geo. Brehm.

A story of to-day, telling how a rich girl acquires ideals of beautiful
and simple living, and of men and love, quite apart from the teachings
of her father, "Old Man Lynch" of Wall St.  True to life, clever in
treatment.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

DRAMATIZED NOVELS

A Few that are Making Theatrical History


MARY JANE'S PA, By Norman Way Illustrated with scenes from the play.

Delightful, irresponsible "Mary Jane's Pa" awakes one morning to find
himself famous, and, genius being ill adapted to domestic joys, he
wanders from home to work out his own unique destiny.  One of the most
numerous bits of recent fiction.


CHERUB DEVINE.  By Sewell Ford.

"Cherub," a good hearted but not over refined young man is brought in
touch with the aristocracy.  Of sprightly wit, he is sometimes a
merciless analyst, but he proves in the end that manhood counts for
more than and?  cut lineage by winning the love of the fairest girl in
the flock.


A WOMAN'S WAY.  By Charles Somerville.  Illustrated with scenes from
the play.

A story in which a woman's wit and self-sacrificing love save her
husband from the toils of an adventuress, and change an apparently
tragic situation into one of delicious comedy.


THE CLIMAX.  By George C. Jenks.

With ambition luring her on, a young choir soprano leaves the little
village where she was born and the limited audience of St. Jude's to
train for the opera in New York.  She leaves love behind her and meets
love more ardent but not more sincere in her new environment.  How she
works, how she studies, how she suffers, are vividly portrayed.


A FOOL THERE WAS.  By Porter Emerson Browne, Illustrated by Edmund
Magrath and W. W. Fawcett.

A relentless portrayal of the career of a man who comes under the
influence of a beautiful but evil woman; how she lures him on and on,
how he struggles, falls and rises, only to fall again into her net,
make a story of unflinching realism.


THE SQUAW MAN.  By Julie Opp Faversham and Edwin Milton Royle.
Illustrated with scenes from the play.

A glowing story, rapid in action, bright in dialogue with a fine
courageous hero and a Beautiful English heroine.


THE GIRL IN WAITING.  By Archibald Eyre.  Illustrated with scenes from
the play.

A droll little comedy of misunderstandings, told with a light touch, a
venturesome spirit and an eye for human oddities.


THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL.  By Baroness Orczy.  Illustrated with scenes
from the play.

A realistic story of the days of the French Revolution, abounding in
dramatic incident, with a young English soldier of fortune, daring,
mysterious as the hero.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


A FEW OF

GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

Great Books at Little Prices


CY WHITTAKER'S PLACE.  By Joseph C. Lincoln.  Illustrated by Wallace
Morgan.

A Cape Cod story describing the amusing efforts of an elderly bachelor
and his two cronies to rear and educate a little girl.  Full of honest
fun--a rural drama.


THE FORGE IN THE FOREST.  By Charles G. D. Roberts.  Illustrated by H.
Sandham.

A story of the conflict in Acadia after its conquest by the British.  A
dramatic picture that lives and shines with the indefinable charm of
poetic romance.


A SISTER TO EVANGELINE.  By Charles G. D. Roberts.  Illustrated by E.
McConnell.

Being the story of Yvonne de Lamourie, and how she went into exile with
the villagers of Grand Pré.  Swift action, fresh atmosphere, wholesome
purity, deep passion and searching analysis characterize this strong
novel.


THE OPENED SHUTTERS.  By Clara Louise Burnham.  Frontispiece by
Harrison Fisher.

A summer haunt on an island in Casco Bay is the background for this
romance.  A beautiful woman, at discord with life, is brought to
realize, by her new friends, that she may open the shutters of her soul
to the blessed sunlight of joy by casting aside vanity and self love.
A delicately humorous work with a lofty motive underlying it all.


THE RIGHT PRINCESS.  By Clara Louise Burnham.

An amusing story, opening at a fashionable Long Island resort, where a
stately Englishwoman employs a forcible New England housekeeper to
serve in her interesting home.  How types so widely apart react on each
others' lives, all to ultimate good, makes a story both humorous and
rich in sentiment.


THE LEAVEN OF LOVE.  By Clara Louise Burnham.  Frontispiece by Harrison
Fisher.

At a Southern California resort a world-weary woman, young and
beautiful but disillusioned, meets a girl who has learned the art of
living--of tasting life in all its richness, opulence and joy.  The
story hinges upon the change wrought in the soul of the blasé woman by
this glimpse into a cheery life.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


A FEW OF

GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

Great Books at Little Prices


THE MUSIC MASTER.  By Charles Klein.  Illustrated by John Rae.

This marvelously vivid narrative turns upon the search of a German
musician in New York for his little daughter.  Mr. Klein has well
portrayed his pathetic struggle with poverty, his varied experiences in
endeavoring to meet the demands of a public not trained to an
appreciation of the classic, and his final great hour when, in the
rapidly shifting events of a big city, his little daughter, now a
beautiful young woman, is brought to his very door.  A superb bit of
fiction, palpitating with the life or the great metropolis.  The play
in which David Warfield scored his highest success.


DR. LAVENDAR'S PEOPLE.  By Margaret Deland.  Illustrated by Lucius
Hitchcock.

Mrs. Deland won so many friends through Old Chester Tales that this
volume needs no introduction beyond its title.  The lovable doctor is
more ripened in this later book, and the simple comedies and tragedies
of the old village are told with dramatic charm.


OLD CHESTER TALES.  By Margaret Deland.  Illustrated by Howard Pyle.

Stories portraying with delightful humor and pathos a quaint people in
a sleepy old town.  Dr. Lavendar, a very human and lovable "preacher,"
is the connecting link between these dramatic stories from life.


HE FELL IN LOVE WITH HIS WIFE.  By E. P. Roe.  With frontispiece.

The hero is a farmer--a man with honest, sincere views of life.  Bereft
of his wife, his home is cared for by a succession of domestics of
varying degrees of inefficiency until, from a most unpromising source,
comes a young woman who not only becomes his wife but commands his
respect and eventually wins his love.  A bright and delicate romance,
revealing on both sides a love that surmounts all difficulties and
survives the censure of friends as well as the bitterness of enemies.


THE YOKE.  By Elizabeth Miller.

Against the historical background of the days when the children of
Israel were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, the author has
sketched a romance of compelling charm.  A biblical novel as great as
any since "Ben Hur."


SAUL OF TARSUS.  By Elizabeth Miller.  Illustrated by André Castaigne.

The scenes of this story are laid in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome and
Damascus.  The Apostle Paul, the Martyr Stephen, Herod Agrippa and the
Emperors Tiberius and Caligula are among the mighty figures that move
through the pages.  Wonderful descriptions, and a love story of the
purest and noblest type mark this most remarkable religious romance.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


A FEW OF

GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

Great Books at Little Prices


QUINCY ADAMS SAWYER.  A Picture of New England Home Life.  With
illustrations by C. W. Reed, and Scenes Reproduced from the Play.

One of the best New England stories ever written.  It is full of homely
human interest * * * there is a wealth of New England village
character, scenes and incidents * * * forcibly, vividly and truthfully
drawn.  Few books have enjoyed a greater sale and popularity.
Dramatized, it made the greatest rural play of recent times.


THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF QUINCY ADAMS SAWYER.  By Charles Felton
Pidgin.  Illustrated by Henry Roth.

All who love honest sentiment, quaint and sunny humor, and homespun
philosophy will find these "Further Adventures" a book after their own
heart.


HALF A CHANCE.  By Frederic S. Isham.  Illustrated by Herman Pfeifer.

The thrill of excitement will keep the reader in a state of suspense,
and he will become personally concerned from the start, as to the
central character, a very real man who suffers, dares--and achieves!


VIRGINIA OF THE AIR LANES.  By Herbert Quick.  Illustrated by William
R. Leigh.

The author has seized the romantic moment for the airship novel, and
created the pretty story of "a lover and his lass" contending with an
elderly relative for the monopoly of the skies.  An exciting tale of
adventure in midair.


THE GAME AND THE CANDLE.  By Eleanor M. Ingram.  Illustrated by P. D.
Johnson.

The hero is a young American, who, to save his family from poverty,
deliberately commits a felony.  Then follow his capture and
imprisonment, and his rescue by a Russian Grand Duke.  A stirring
story, rich in sentiment.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


A FEW OF

GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

Great Books at Little Prices


BRUVVER JIM'S BABY.   By Philip Verrill Mighels.

An uproariously funny story of a tiny mining settlement in the West,
which is shaken to the very roots by the sudden possession of a baby,
found on the plains by one of its residents.  The town is as
disreputable a spot as the gold fever was ever responsible for, and the
coming of that baby causes the upheaval of every rooted tradition of
the place.  Its christening, the problems of its toys and its illness
supersede in the minds of the miners all thought of earthy treasure.


THE FURNACE OF GOLD.  By Philip Verrill Mighels, author of "Bruvver
Jim's Baby."  Illustrations by J. N. Marchand.

An accurate and informing portrayal of scenes, types, and conditions of
the mining districts in modern Nevada.

The book is an out-door story, clean, exciting, exemplifying nobility
and courage of character, and bravery, and heroism in the sort of men
and women we all admire and wish to know.


THE MESSAGE.  By Louis Tracy.  Illustrations by Joseph C. Chase.

A breezy tale of how a bit of old parchment, concealed in a figurehead
from a sunken vessel, comes into the possession of a pretty girl and an
army man during regatta week in the Isle of Wight.  This is the message
and it enfolds a mystery, the development of which the reader will
follow with breathless interest.


THE SCARLET EMPIRE.  By David M. Parry.  Illustrations by Hermann C.
Wall.

A young socialist, weary of life, plunges into the sea and awakes in
the lost island of Atlantis, known as the Scarlet Empire, where a
social democracy is in full operation, granting every man a living but
limiting food, conversation, education and marriage.

The hero passes through an enthralling love affair and other adventures
but finally returns to his own New York world.


THE THIRD DEGREE.  By Charles Klein and Arthur Hornblow.  Illustrations
by Clarence Rowe.

A novel which exposes the abuses in this country of the police system.

The son of an aristocratic New York family marries a woman socially
beneath him, but of strong, womanly qualities that, later on, save the
man from the tragic consequences of a dissipated life.

The wife believes in his innocence and her wit and good sense help her
to win against the tremendous odds imposed by law.


THE THIRTEENTH DISTRICT.  By Brand Whitlock.

A realistic western story of love and politics and a searching study of
their influence on character.  The author shows with extraordinary
vitality of treatment the tricks, the heat, the passion, the tumult of
the political arena, the triumph and strength of love.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


A FEW OF

GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

Great Books at Little Prices


HAPPY HAWKINS.  By Robert Alexander Wason.  Illustrated by Howard Giles.

A ranch and cowboy novel.  Happy Hawkins tells his own story with such
a fine capacity for knowing how to do it and with so much humor that
the reader's interest is held in surprise, then admiration and at last
in positive affection.


COMRADES.  By Thomas Dixon, Jr.  Illustrated by C. D. Williams.

The locale of this story is in California, where a few socialists
establish a little community.

The author leads the little band along the path of disillusionment, and
gives some brilliant flashes of light on one side of an important
question.


TONO-BUNGAY.  By Herbert George Wells.

The hero of this novel is a young man who, through hard work, earns a
scholarship and goes to London.

Written with a frankness verging on Rousseau's, Mr. Wells still uses
rare discrimination and the border line of propriety is never crossed.
An entertaining book with both a story and a moral, and without a dull
page--Mr.  Wells's most notable achievement.


A HUSBAND BY PROXY.  By Jack Steele.

A young criminologist, but recently arrived in New York city, is drawn
into a mystery, partly through financial need and partly through his
interest in a beautiful woman, who seems at times the simplest child
and again a perfect mistress of intrigue.  A baffling detective story.


LIKE ANOTHER HELEN.  By George Horton.  Illustrated by C. M. Relyea.

Mr. Horton's powerful romance stands in a new field and brings an
almost unknown world in reality before the reader--the world of
conflict between Greek and Turk on the Island of Crete.  The "Helen" of
the story is a Greek, beautiful, desolate, defiant--pure as snow.

There is a certain new force about the story, a kind of
master-craftsmanship and mental dominance that holds the reader.


THE MASTER OF APPLEBY.  By Francis Lynde.  Illustrated by T. de
Thulstrup.

A novel tale concerning itself in part with the great struggle in the
two Carolinas, but chiefly with the adventures therein of two gentlemen
who loved one and the same lady.

A strong, masculine and persuasive story.


A MODERN MADONNA.  By Caroline Abbot Stanley.

A story of American life, founded on facts as they existed some years
ago in the District of Columbia.  The theme is the maternal love and
splendid courage of a woman.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


A FEW OF

GROSSET & DUNLAP'S

Great Books at Little Prices


WHEN A MAN MARRIES.  By Mary Roberts Rinehart.  Illustrated by Harrison
Fisher and Mayo Bunker.

A young artist, whose wife had recently divorced him, finds that a
visit is due from his Aunt Selina, an elderly lady having ideas about
things quite apart from the Bohemian set in which her nephew is a
shining light.  The way in which matters are temporarily adjusted forms
the motif of the story.

A farcical extravaganza, dramatized under the title of "Seven Days."


THE FASHIONABLE ADVENTURES OF JOSHUA CRAIG.  By David Graham Phillips.
Illustrated.

A young westerner, uncouth and unconventional, appears in political and
social life in Washington.  He attains power in politics, and a young
woman of the exclusive set becomes his wife, undertaking his education
in social amenities.


"DOC." GORDON.  By Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman.  Illustrated by Frank T.
Merrill.

Against the familiar background of American town life, the author
portrays a group of people strangely involved in a mystery.  "Doc."
Gordon, the one physician of the place, Dr. Elliot, his assistant, a
beautiful woman and her altogether charming daughter are all involved
in the plot.  A novel of great interest.


HOLY ORDERS.  By Marie Corelli.

A dramatic story, in which is pictured a clergyman in touch with
society people, stage favorites, simple village folk, powerful
financiers and others, each presenting vital problems to this man "in
holy orders"--problems that we are now struggling with in America.


KATRINE.  By Elinor Macartney Lane.  With frontispiece.

Katrine, the heroine of this story, is a lovely Irish girl, of lowly
birth, but gifted with a beautiful voice.

The narrative is based on the facts of an actual singer's career, and
the viewpoint throughout is a most exalted one.


THE FORTUNES OF FIFI.  By Molly Elliot Seawell.  Illustrated by T. de
Thulstrup.

A story of life in France at the time of the first Napoleon.  Fifi, a
glad, mad little actress of eighteen, is the star performer in a third
rate Parisian theatre.  A story as dainty as a Watteau painting.


SHE THAT HESITATES.  By Harris Dickson.  Illustrated by C. W. Relyea.

The scene of this dashing romance shifts from Dresden to St. Petersburg
in the reign of Peter the Great, and then to New Orleans.

The hero is a French Soldier of Fortune, and the princess, who
hesitates--but you must read the story to know how she that hesitates
may be lost and yet saved.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK


      *      *      *      *      *


BRILLIANT AND SPIRITED NOVELS

AGNES AND EGERTON CASTLE

Handsomely bound in cloth.  Price, 75 cents per volume, postpaid.


THE PRIDE OF JENNICO.  Being a Memoir of Captain Basil Jennico.

"What separates it from most books of its class is its distinction of
manner, its unusual grace of diction, its delicacy of touch, and the
fervent charm of its love passages.  It is a very attractive piece of
romantic fiction relying for its effect upon character rather than
incident, and upon vivid dramatic presentation."--_The Dial_.  "A
stirring, brilliant and dashing story."--_The Outlook_.


THE SECRET ORCHARD.  Illustrated by Charles D. Williams.

The "Secret Orchard" is set in the midst of the ultra modern society.
The scene is in Paris, but most of the characters are English speaking.
The story was dramatized in London, and in it the Kendalls scored a
great theatrical success.

"Artfully contrived and full of romantic charm * * * it possesses
ingenuity of incident, a figurative designation of the unhallowed
scenes in which unlicensed love accomplishes and wrecks faith and
happiness."--_Athenaeum_.


YOUNG APRIL.  With illustrations by A. B. Wenzell.

"It is everything that a good romance should be, and it carries about
it an air of distinction both rare and delightful."--_Chicago Tribune_.
"With regret one turns to the last page of this delightful novel, so
delicate in its romance, so brilliant in its episodes, so sparkling in
its art, and so exquisite in its diction."--_Worcester Spy_.


FLOWER O' THE ORANGE.  With frontispiece.

We have learned to expect from these fertile authors novels graceful in
form, brisk in movement, and romantic in conception.  This carries the
reader back to the days of the bewigged and beruffled gallants of the
seventeenth century and tells him of feats of arms and adventures in
love as thrilling and picturesque, yet delicate, as the utmost seeker
of romance may ask.


MY MERRY ROCKHURST.  Illustrated by Arthur E. Becher.

In the eight stories of a courtier of King Charles Second, which are
here gathered together, the Castles are at their best, reviving all the
fragrant charm of those books, like _The Pride of Jennico_, in which
they first showed an instinct, amounting to genius, for sunny romances.
"The book is absorbing * * * and is as spontaneous in feeling as it is
artistic in execution."--_New York Tribune_.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers,--New York


      *      *      *      *      *


THE MASTERLY AND REALISTIC NOVELS OF

FRANK NORRIS

Handsomely bound in cloth.  Price, 75 cents per volume, postpaid.


THE OCTOPUS.  A Story of California.

Mr. Norris conceived the ambitious idea of writing a trilogy of novels
which, taken together, shall symbolize American life as a whole, with
all its hopes and aspirations and its tendencies, throughout the length
and breadth of the continent.  And for the central symbol he has taken
wheat, as being quite literally the ultimate source of American power
and prosperity.  _The Octopus_ is a story of wheat raising and railroad
greed in California.  It immediately made a place for itself.

It is full of enthusiasm and poetry and conscious strength.  One cannot
read it without a responsive thrill of sympathy for the earnestness,
the breadth of purpose, the verbal power of the man.


THE PIT.  A Story of Chicago.

This powerful novel is the fictitious narrative of a deal in the
Chicago wheat pit and holds the reader from the beginning.  In a
masterly way the author has grasped the essential spirit of the great
city by the lakes.  The social existence, the gambling in stocks and
produce, the characteristic life in Chicago, form a background for an
exceedingly vigorous and human tale of modern life and love.


A MAN'S WOMAN.

A story which has for a heroine a girl decidedly out of the ordinary
run of fiction.  It is most dramatic, containing some tremendous
pictures of the daring of the men who are trying to reach the Pole * *
* but it is at the same time essentially a _woman's_ book, and the
story works itself out in the solution of a difficulty that is
continually presented in real life--the wife's attitude in relation to
her husband when both have well-defined careers.


McTEAGUE.  A Story of San Francisco.

"Since Bret Harte and the Forty-niner no one has written of California
life with the vigor and accuracy of Mr. Norris.  His 'McTeague' settled
his right to a place in American literature; and he has now presented a
third novel, 'Blix,' which is in some respects the finest and likely to
be the most popular of the three."--_Washington Times_.


BLIX.

"Frank Norris has written in 'Blix' just what such a woman's name would
imply--a story of a frank, fearless girl comrade to all men who are
true and honest because she is true and honest.  How she saved the man
she fishes and picnics with in a spirit of outdoor platonic friendship,
makes a pleasant story, and a perfect contrast to the author's
McTeague.'  A splendid and successful story."--_Washington Times_.



GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers,--New York


      *      *      *      *      *





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