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Title: A Christmas Accident and Other Stories
Author: Trumbull, Annie Eliot, 1857-1949
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 "A Christmas Accident and Other Stories" ***

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A CHRISTMAS ACCIDENT

AND OTHER STORIES

[Illustration]

BY
ANNIE ELIOT TRUMBULL



A Christmas Accident



STORIES BY

ANNIE ELIOT TRUMBULL

[Illustration: Leaf]

          A CHRISTMAS ACCIDENT AND OTHER
            STORIES. 16mo. Cloth                         $1.00

          ROD'S SALVATION AND OTHER STORIES.
            16mo. Cloth                                   1.00

          A CAPE COD WEEK. 16mo. Cloth                    1.00

          MISTRESS CONTENT CRADOCK.
            Cloth. 16mo.                                  1.00

[Illustration: Leaf]

          A. S. BARNES & CO., PUBLISHERS,
          _New York_.



A Christmas Accident

_And Other Stories_

By

Annie Eliot Trumbull

Author of "White Birches," "A Masque of Culture," etc.

[Illustration: Emblem]

          New York
          A. S. Barnes and Company
          1900


          _Copyright, 1897_,
          BY A. S. BARNES AND COMPANY.



          =University Press:=
          JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.



OF the stories included in this volume, the first originally appeared in
the _Hartford Courant_; "After--the Deluge," in the _Atlantic Monthly_;
"Mary A. Twining," in the _Home Maker_; "A Postlude" and "Her Neighbor's
Landmark," in the _Outlook_; "The 'Daily Morning Chronicle,'" in _The
New England Magazine_; and "Hearts Unfortified," in _McClure's
Magazine_. To the courtesy of the editors of these periodicals I am
indebted for permission to reprint them.

                                                        A. E. T.



Contents


                                              Page

          A CHRISTMAS ACCIDENT                   1

          AFTER--THE DELUGE                     32

          MEMOIR OF MARY TWINING                67

          A POSTLUDE                            99

          THE "DAILY MORNING CHRONICLE"        139

          HEARTS UNFORTIFIED                   177

          HER NEIGHBOR'S LANDMARK              210



A Christmas Accident

[Illustration: Leaf]


AT first the two yards were as much alike as the two houses, each house
being the exact copy of the other. They were just two of those little
red brick dwellings that one is always seeing side by side in the
outskirts of a city, and looking as if the occupants must be alike too.
But these two families were quite different. Mr. Gilton, who lived in
one, was a pretty cross sort of man, and was quite well-to-do, as cross
people sometimes are. He and his wife lived alone, and they did not have
much going out and coming in, either. Mrs. Gilton would have liked more
of it, but she had given up thinking about it, for her husband had said
so many times that it was women's tomfoolery to want to have people,
whom you weren't anything to and who weren't anything to you, ringing
your doorbell all the time and bothering around in your
dining-room,--which of course it was; and she would have believed it if
a woman ever did believe anything a man says a great many times.

In the other house there were five children, and, as Mr. Gilton said,
they made too large a family, and they ought to have gone somewhere
else. Possibly they would have gone had it not been for the fence; but
when Mr. Gilton put it up and Mr. Bilton told him it was three inches
too far on his land, and Mr. Gilton said he could go to law about it,
expressing the idea forcibly, Mr. Bilton was foolish enough to take his
advice. The decision went against him, and a good deal of his money went
with it, for it was a long, teasing lawsuit, and instead of being three
inches of made ground it might have been three degrees of the Arctic
Circle for the trouble there was in getting at it. So Mr. Bilton had to
stay where he was.

It was then that the yards began to take on those little differences
that soon grew to be very marked. Neither family would plant any vines
because they would have been certain to heedlessly beautify the other
side, and consequently the fence, in all its primitive boldness, stood
out uncompromisingly, and the one or two little bits of trees grew
carefully on the farther side of the enclosure so as not to be mixed up
in the trouble at all. But Mr. Gilton's grass was cut smoothly by the
man who made the fires, while Mr. Bilton only found a chance to cut his
himself once in two weeks. Then, by and by, Mr. Gilton bought a red
garden bench and put it under the tree that was nearest to the fence. No
one ever went out and sat on it, to be sure, but to the Bilton children
it represented the visible flush of prosperity. Particularly was Cora
Cordelia wont to peer through the fence and gaze upon that red bench,
thinking it a charming place in which to play house, ignorant of the
fact that much of the red paint would have come off on her back. Cora
Cordelia was the youngest of the five. All the rest had very simple
names,--John, Walter, Fanny, and Susan,--but when it came to Cora
Cordelia, luxuries were beginning to get very scarce in the Bilton
family, and Mrs. Bilton felt that she must make up for it by being
lavish, in one direction or another. She had wished to name Fanny, Cora,
and Susan, Cordelia, but she had yielded to her husband, and called one
after his mother and one after herself, and then gave both her favorite
names to the youngest of all. Cora Cordelia was a pretty little girl,
prettier even than both her names put together.

After the red bench came a quicksilver ball, that was put in the middle
of the yard and reflected all the glory of its owner, albeit in a
somewhat distorted form. This effort of human ingenuity filled the
Bilton children with admiration bordering on awe; Cora Cordelia spent
hours gazing at it, until called in and reproved by her mother for
admiring so much things she could not afford to have. After this, she
only admired it covertly.

Small distinctions like these barbed the arrows of contrast and
comparison and kept the disadvantages of neighborhood ever present.

Then, it was a constant annoyance to have their surnames so much alike.
Matters were made more unpleasant by mistakes of the butcher, the
grocer, and so on,--Gilton, 79 Holmes Avenue, was so much like Bilton,
77 Holmes Avenue. Gilton changed his butcher every time he sent his
dinner to Bilton; and though the mistakes were generally rectified,
neither of the two families ever forgot the time the Biltons ate,
positively ate, the Gilton dinner, under a misapprehension. Mrs. Bilton
apologized, and Mrs. Gilton boldly told her husband that she was glad
they'd had it, and she hoped they'd enjoyed it, which only made matters
worse; and altogether it was a dark day, the only joy of it being that
fearful one snatched by John, Walter, Susan, Fanny, and Cora Cordelia
from the undoubted excellence of the roast.

Of course there was an assortment of minor difficulties. The smoke from
the Biltons' kitchen blew in through the windows of the Giltons'
sitting-room when the wind was in one direction, and, when it was in the
other, many of the clothes from the Giltons' clothesline were blown into
the Biltons' yard, and Fanny, Susan, or Cora Cordelia had to be sent out
to pick them up and drop them over the fence again, which Mrs. Bilton
said was very wearing, as of course it must have been. Things like this
were always happening, but matters reached a climax when it came to the
dog. It wasn't a large dog, but it was a tiresome one. It got up early
in the morning and barked. Now we all know that early rising is a good
thing and honorable among all men, but it is something that ought to be
done quietly, out of regard to the weaker vessels; and a dog that barks
between five and seven in the morning, continuously, certainly ought to
be suppressed, even if it be necessary to use force. Everybody agreed
with the Biltons about that,--everybody except the Giltons themselves,
who, by some one of nature's freaks, didn't mind it. Mrs. Bilton often
said she wished Mrs. Gilton could be a light sleeper for a week and see
what it was like. So, too, everybody thought that Mr. Bilton had right
on his side when he complained that this same dog came into his yard,
being apparently indifferent to any coolness between the estate owners,
and ran over a bed of geraniums and one thing and another, that was the
small Bilton offset to the Gilton bench and ball. But when one morning,
for the first time, that dog remained quiet and restful, and was found
cold and poisoned, and Mr. Gilton was loud in his accusations of the
Bilton boys and their father, public opinion wavered for a moment. After
that accident, no member of either family spoke to any member of the
other. That was the way matters stood the day before Christmas.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was snowing hard, and the afternoon grew dark rapidly, and the
whirling flakes pursued a blinding career. In spite of that, everybody
was out doing the last thing. Mrs. Gilton was not, to be sure. Of course
they would have a big dinner, but even that was all arranged for,
although the turkey hadn't come and her husband was going to stop and
see about it on his way home. She shuddered as the possibility of its
having gone to the Biltons occurred to her. But she didn't believe it
had,--they hadn't the same butcher any longer. Meanwhile there was so
little to do. It was too dark to read or sew, and she sat idly at the
window looking out at the passers and the driving snow. Everybody else
was in a hurry. She wished she, too, had occasion to hasten down for a
last purchase, or to light the lamp in order to finish a last bit of
dainty sewing, as she used to do when she was a girl. She seemed to have
so few friends now with whom she exchanged Christmas greetings. Was it
then only for children and youth, this Christmas cheer? And must she
necessarily have left it behind her with her girlhood? No, she knew
better than that. She felt that there was a deeper significance in the
Christmas-tide than can come home to the hearts of children and
unthoughtfulness, and yet it had grown to be so painfully like other
days,--an occasion for a little bigger dinner, that was about all. With
an unconscious sigh she looked across to the Bilton house. Plenty of
people over there to make merry. Five stockings to hang up. She wished
she might have sent something in. To be sure, there was the dog, but
that was some time ago. Very likely the dog would have been dead now,
anyhow. She felt, herself, that this logic was not irrefutable, but she
wished she could have sent some paper parcels just the same. So strong
had this impulse been that she had said to her husband somewhat timidly
that morning,--

"There are a good many of those Bilton children to get presents for."

"More fools they that get 'em presents, then," he had pleasantly
replied.

"I don't suppose he has much to buy them with," she continued.

"He had enough to buy poison for my dog," exclaimed her husband, giving
his newspaper an angry shake.

"I'd almost like to send them in some cheap little toys."

"Well, as long as you don't quite like to, it won't do any harm," he
said with some violence, laying down his newspaper, and looking at her
in a manner not to be misunderstood. "But you see that the liking
doesn't get any farther."

"It's Christmas, you know," said his plucky wife.

"Oh, no, I don't know it!" he replied gruffly. "I haven't fallen over
forty children a minute in the street with their ridiculous parcels, and
I haven't had women drop brown-paper bundles that come undone all over
me when they crowd into the horse car, and I haven't found it impossible
to get to the shirt-collar counter on account of Christmas novelties!
Oh, no, I didn't know it was Christmas!"

After that there was really not much to be said, for we all know
Christmas is dreadfully annoying, and the last thing a man in this sort
of temper wants to hear about is peace and good will.

Notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Gilton looked over to her neighbors'
with an envious feeling this dark afternoon, their Christmas cheer was
not so abounding as it had been in more prosperous times. There was not
very much money to be spent this year, and they were obliged to give up
something. Mr. and Mrs. Bilton had decided that it should be the
Christmas dinner; they would have a simple luncheon, and let all the
money that could be spared go for the stockings. Each child had its own
sum to invest for others, and there was still a small amount for the
older members of the family. That it was a small amount Mrs. Bilton felt
strongly, as she went from shop to shop. But when she reached home again
she was somewhat encouraged; there was such an air of joyous expectation
in the house, and her purchases looked larger now that they were away
from the glittering counters. Then each of the five children came to her
separately and confided to her the nothing less than wonderful results
of judicious bargaining which had enabled them to buy useful and
beautiful presents for each of the others out of the sums intrusted to
their care, ranging in amount from the two dollars of John to the fifty
cents of Cora Cordelia. She felt sure that there were further secrets
yet; secrets attended by brown paper and string, which she had taken the
greatest care for the last two weeks not heedlessly to expose,--riddles
of which the solution lay perilously near her eyes, which would be
revealed to her astonished gaze the next morning.

She had reason to believe that even Cora Cordelia was making something
for her, and though it was difficult for her to ignore the fact that it
was a knit washcloth, she had hitherto avoided absolute certainty on the
subject. So that altogether it was a pretty cheerful afternoon at the
Biltons'.

Meanwhile, down in the main street of the city it was a confusing scene.
It was darker there than where the streets were more open; and although
there were several daring spirits of that adventurous turn of mind which
leads people into byways of discovery, who asserted that the street
lamps were lighted, it was not generally believed. The snow was blowing
down and up and across, and getting more and more unmanageable under the
feet of foot passengers every moment. It was cold and windy and blinding
and crowded, and a good many other disconcerting things, all of which
Mr. Gilton felt the full force of as he stood on the corner where he had
just bought his turkey. It was a fine turkey, and had been a good
bargain, and though he had to carry it home himself, there was nothing
derogatory in that. If it had been anybody else he would have been
thrilled with a glow of satisfaction, but Mr. Gilton was long past glows
of satisfaction--it was years since he had permitted himself to have
such things.

"Jour--our--nal! fi-i-i-ve cents!" screamed an intermittent newsboy in
his ear.

"Get out!" replied Mr. Gilton, the uncompromising nature of his
language being intensified by the fact that he jumped nearly two feet
from the suddenness of the newsboy's attack. Even the newsboy, inured to
the short words of an unfriendly world, and usually quite indifferent
thereto, was impressed by the asperity of the suggestion and moved
somewhat hastily on. Possibly his cold, wet little existence had been
rendered morbidly susceptible by the general good feeling of the hour,
one lady having even spontaneously given him five cents.

After this exchange of amenities Mr. Gilton stepped into his horse car.
It was crowded, of course, as horse cars that are small and run once in
half an hour are apt to be, and he had to stand up, and the turkey legs
stuck out of the brown paper in a very conspicuous way. If Mr. Gilton
had been anybody else he would have been chaffed about his turkey,
because to make up for the conveniences that the horse car line did not
furnish the public, the large-hearted public furnished the horse car
line with an unusual amount of friendliness. There was almost always
something going on in these horse cars. Their social privileges were
quite a feature. To-night they were in unusual force on account of the
season. But nobody said anything to Mr. Gilton. Only when he jerked the
bell and stepped off, one stout man with his overcoat collar turned up
to his ears said, without turning his head:--

"I supposed of course he was going to give the turkey to the conductor."

Everybody laughed in that end of the car except one small old lady in
the corner, who was a stranger and visiting, and who was left with the
impression that the gentleman who got off must be a very kind man. It
was darker and blowier and snowier than when he had left the corner, and
Mr. Gilton floundered through the unbroken drifts up the little path to
the door with increasing grudges in his heart against the difficulties
of Christmas. The lock was off, and he went in slamming the door after
him. There was no light in the hall, and he murmured loudly against the
inconvenience.

"Confound it!" he said, "why didn't they light the gas? I'm not one of
those confounded Biltons; I can afford to pay for what I don't get;"
and, without pausing to take off his hat and coat, he strode to the
sitting-room door and flung it open. That was an awful moment. The
sudden change from the cold and darkness almost blinded him, and
confirmed the impression that he was the victim of an illusion. The
sound of many voices, and then the hush of sudden consternation, was in
his ears. There was a lamp and there was a fire, and there between them
sat Mr. Bilton on one side and Mrs. Bilton on the other, and round
about, in various unconventional attitudes, sat four Bilton children.
And there in the very midst of them, in his heavy overcoat, with snow
melting on his hat, his beard, and his shoulders, stood Mr. Gilton. The
unexpected scene, the amazed faces gazing into his, rendered him
speechless; he wondered vaguely if he were losing his reason. Then, in a
flush of enlightenment, he realized what had happened; thanks to the
storm outside, he had come into the wrong house. Naturally his first
impulse was towards flight, but as his bewildered gaze slipped about the
room it fell upon five stockings hung against the mantelpiece, and
stayed there fascinated. Five foolish, limp, expressionless
stockings,--it was long since he had seen such an unreasonable
spectacle. Then he recollected himself and looked around him. Perhaps
even then, if he had made a dash for the door, he might have escaped and
matters have been none the worse. But in that instant of hesitation
caused by the sudden sight of those five stockings something dreadful
occurred. It must be premised that Cora Cordelia did not know Mr. Gilton
very well by sight, being in the first place small and not noticing,
and in the second, filled with an unreasoning fear that caused her to
flee whenever she had seen him approach. This is the only excuse for
what she did; for while her mother was feebly murmuring, as if in
extenuation, "We thought it was John coming in," Cora Cordelia clasped
her hands in delirious delight, and cried aloud, "It's Santa Claus! Oh,
it's Santa Claus!" Could anything more awful happen to a cross man, a
very cross man, than to be taken for Santa Claus!

Mr. Gilton looked at Cora Cordelia, and wondered why she had not been
slaughtered in her cradle.

"And," exclaimed Susan Bilton, with sudden communicative fervor, "he has
come and brought us a turkey for to-morrow's dinner!"

The truth was that Susan had been coming to the age that is sceptical
about Santa Claus, but she could not resist this sudden appearance.

No one could appreciate the nonsense of the whole situation better than
Mr. Gilton; and yet, strangely enough, together with his annoyance was
mingled a touch of the strange feeling that had dawned upon him first
when he saw the stockings. To be sure, it only added to his annoyance,
but it was there. By this time--it was really a very short time--Mrs.
Bilton had recovered herself and risen, and Mr. Bilton had risen too.

"Hush, children; it is not Santa Claus," she said, "it is Mr. Gilton. We
are glad to see you, Mr. Gilton;" and she held out her hand to him.
"Won't you sit down?" She felt that he had come in the Christmas spirit,
and she was anxious to meet him half-way.

"Yes," said her husband, coming forward, and instantly taking his cue
from his wife,--for he was really a very nice man,--"we are very glad."
To be sure, in his manner there was a certain stiffness, for a man
cannot always change completely in a moment, as a woman can; but Mr.
Gilton was too perplexed to notice this. In the incomprehensible way
that one's mind has of clinging to unimportant things at great crises,
while he was fuming with rage and bothered with this strange feeling
which was not precisely rage, he was wondering how in the world he was
going to sit down with that ridiculous turkey, with its ridiculous legs,
in his arms, and not look more absurd than he did now. In this moment of
absentmindedness he had mechanically taken Mrs. Bilton's hand and shaken
it, and after that of course there was nothing to do except to shake Mr.
Bilton's. Then he began to know it was all up. He had not spoken yet,
but now he made a frantic effort to save what might be left besides
honor. "I came--" he began, "I came--came to your house--" There he
paused a moment, and that unlucky child with that tendency to be
possessed by one idea, which is characteristic of small and trivial
minds, and for which she should have been shaken, burst in with, "And
did the reindeer bring you, and are they outside?"

He almost groaned, so overwhelmed was he by this new idiocy. Reindeer!
If those overworked, struggling car-horses could have heard that! Then
Mrs. Bilton, pitying his evident confusion, came to his assistance.

"Don't mind the children, Mr. Gilton," she said, her cheeks flushing,
and looking very pretty with the excitement of the unusual
circumstances, "we are glad you came, however you made your way here. I
think we may thank Christmas Eve for it. Now do take off your overcoat
and sit down."

Oh, mispraised woman's tact! What complications you may produce! That
finished it, of course. He sat down. In those few moments that strange
feeling had grown marvellously stronger. It seemed to be made up of the
most diverse elements,--a mixture of green wreaths and his own
childhood, and his mother, and a top he had not thought of for years,
and the wide fireplace at home, and a stable with a child in it, and a
picture, in a book he used to read, of a lot of angels in the sky, one
particular one in the middle, and underneath it some words--what were
the words? He'd forgotten they had anything to do with Christmas,
anyway.

"But you _did_ bring us the turkey, didn't you?" said Cora Cordelia,
helping her mother on.

To do the child justice,--for even Cora Cordelia has a right to demand
justice,--her manners were corrupted by Christmas expectancy.

"Cora Cordelia, I'm ashamed of you," said Mrs. Bilton.

"Yes," said Mr. Gilton, the words wrung from his lips, while beads stood
on his forehead,--"yes, I brought you the turkey."

"Did you really?" exclaimed Mrs. Bilton, who thought he had all the
time. "That was very kind of you."

"Will you please take it--take it away?" he said, with that wish to have
something over which we associate with the dentist. So Mrs. Bilton took
the turkey and thanked him, and gave it to Fanny, who carried it out to
the kitchen, and Mr. Gilton gave one last look at its legs as it went
through the door, feeling that now he must wake up from this nightmare.
But things only went farther and became more incredible and upsetting,
only that, strangely enough, that feeling of horror began to wear off,
and that singular strain of association with all sorts of Christmas
things to grow stronger. He himself could hardly believe that it was no
worse, when he found himself seated by the littered table, with Mrs.
Bilton near and Mr. Bilton over by the fire again, listening to first
one and then the other, and occasionally letting fall a word himself,
his conversational powers seeming to thaw out along with the snow on
his greatcoat. These words themselves were a surprise to him. He was
quite sure that he started them with a creditable gruffness, but the
Christmas air mellowed them in a highly unsatisfactory fashion, so that
they fell on his own ears quite otherwise than as he had meant they
should sound. Moreover the general tenor of the conversation was
exceedingly perplexing. It was all about how fine it was of him to come
this evening, and how they had often regretted the hard feeling, and how
things always did get exaggerated. Of course he would not have believed
a word of it, if he had been able to get any grip on the situation, but
he wasn't, and he just went on assenting to it all as if it were true.
There came a time when Mr. Bilton cleared his throat, hesitated a
moment, and then said boldly,--

"I think I ought to tell you, Mr. Gilton, that I had nothing whatever to
do with the death of your dog." Mr. Gilton felt the ground slipping
away from under his very feet. That dog had been his piece of
resistance, as it were. "I wouldn't have poisoned him," went on Mr.
Bilton, "for a hundred dollars. But," he added, with a queer little
smile, "I wasn't going to tell you so, you know."

"Of course you wasn't," exclaimed Mr. Gilton, hurriedly, with a touch of
that unholy excitement that a lapse from grammar imparts.

"We wouldn't any of us," asserted Walter.

"No," said Susan, Fanny, and Cora Cordelia.

Then it came out that the whole family had rather admired the dog than
otherwise. It was here that John did really come in, his entrance
sounding very much as had Mr. Gilton's. He nearly fell over when he saw
the visitor, but he had time to pull himself together, for Cora Cordelia
had snatched that moment for showing Mr. Gilton her gifts for the
family, and he was bound hand and foot with helplessness. Then they all
came and showed him their gifts. While he examined them Mr. and Mrs.
Bilton carefully averted their eyes and gazed hard at the opposite wall,
while Cora Cordelia urged him, in stage whispers, not to let them
suspect. It was pitiable the state to which he was reduced. Of course
resisting this Christmas enthusiasm was out of the question. To be sure
it came over him once with startling force, as she showed him a toy
water-wheel, that went by sand,--which she had purchased for her father
at a phenomenally low rate because the wheel could not be made to
go,--that Cora Cordelia was the very child that he had fallen over as
she came hastening out of a toy-shop with a queerly shaped bundle, the
day before, and so been further imbittered towards Christmas. Susan had
purchased a cup and ball for her mother, and as she went out of the room
for a moment, insisted upon Mr. Gilton's trying to do it and see what
fun it was. If Mr. Gilton lives to be a hundred he will never forget the
mingled feelings with which he awkwardly tried to get that senseless
ball into that idiotic cup. At last he stood up to go--it was after six
o'clock--and they went with him to the door, and wished him Merry
Christmas, and sent Merry Christmas to Mrs. Gilton, and said good-night
several times, and he stumbled on through the snow, this time towards
his own door. It had stopped snowing as suddenly and quietly as it had
begun, and the stars had come out. He gazed up at them,--something he
very rarely did. They seemed a part of Christmas. Just before he turned
in at his own gate, he looked back at the Bilton house and shook his
fist at it, but the expression on his face was such that the very same
newsboy who had accosted him earlier failed utterly to recognize him and
was emboldened to offer him a paper. He too was pushing his way home
with two papers left, in a somewhat dispirited way.

"I'll take 'em both," said this singular customer. "Here's a
quarter--never mind the change. It's Christmas Eve, I believe--" and
this when he knew perfectly well that a copy of that very same journal
was waiting for him on his table. The boy looked at his quarter and
looked again at his customer, and recognized him, and made up his mind
to buy a couple of hot sausages on the corner, and went on his way
feeling that there was a new heaven and a new earth. Mrs. Gilton was
standing at the parlor window, peering out anxiously as he came up the
path. She was in the hall as he entered.

"Why, Reuben," she said, "I was afraid something had happened."

Goodness gracious! As if something hadn't happened! He turned away to
hang up his overcoat and tried to speak crossly.

"Well," he said, "I've lost my turkey. That's happened."

"Never mind," said Mrs. Gilton, quickly; "the other one came later, the
first one, you know--so--so the Biltons didn't get it this time."

"They got the second one, though," said Reuben, hanging up his hat.

"Oh, dear, did they!" said Mrs. Gilton. Then she went on, "Well, I don't
care if they did, so there! I guess they need it for their Christmas
dinner."

"No, they don't," said Reuben, turning around and facing her, "because
they are going to eat part of ours. They are coming in to-morrow to have
dinner with us,--every one of them!" he asserted more loudly, on account
of the expression on his wife's face. "Bilton, and his wife, and all the
five children, down to Cora Cordelia! So we'll have to have something
for them to eat."

If Mr. Gilton will never forget the cup and ball, Mrs. Gilton will never
forget that moment. She went all over it in her mind whether she could
manage him herself to-night, or whether to send Bridget right away then
for the doctor, and if she hadn't better say a policeman too, and
whether he could be kept for the future in a private house, or would
have to be confined in an asylum. She was inclining towards the asylum
when he, who was going into the sitting-room before her, turned round
and laughed an odd little laugh. She began to think then that a private
house would do.

The next day they all dined together, which proved that it was not all a
Christmas Eve illusion. There is a report in the neighborhood that the
fence between the houses is to be taken down to make room for a tennis
court for the Bilton children, but of course this may not be true. It
would have to be done in the summer, and if the effect of Christmas
could be depended upon to last into the summer this would be a very
different sort of world.



After--the Deluge


THE sombre tints of Grayhead were slightly suffused by a pink light
sifting from the west through the clear air. The yachts in the harbor
lay idly beneath the mellow influences of the passing of the summer
day,--idly as only sailboats can lie, a bit of loose sail or cordage now
and then flapping inconsistently in a breath of wind, which seemed to
come out of the west for no other purpose, and to retire into the east
afterward, its whole duty done. On board, men were moving about, hanging
lanterns, making taut here, setting free there, all with an air of utter
peace and repose such as is found only on placid waterways beneath a
setting sun. Occasionally an oar dipped in the still water, a hint of
action, modified, softened into repose. Along one of the quaint streets
of the irregular town, winding where it would, climbing where it
climbed, hurried an angular figure,--that of a woman of about fifty
years, whose tense expression suggested an unrest at variance with the
keen calmness of that of the other faces about the streets and doorways.
Not that it was feverish in its intensity; rather, it was an expression
of resolution, undeviating and persistent, but not sure of sympathy or
support.

"They've gone down yonder, t'other side of the wharf, Mis' Pember," said
a middle-aged sea captain, whose interest in his kind had not been
obliterated by the forced loneliness of northern voyages.

The woman paused and glanced doubtfully down one of the byways that led
between small, weather-beaten houses and around disconcerting abutments
to the water, and then forward, straight along the way she had been
travelling, which led out of the town.

"I'd rather fixed on their going down Point-ways this evening," she
said.

"Well, they ain't," rejoined Captain Phippeny, with that absence of mere
rhetoric characteristic of people whose solid work is done otherwise
than by speech.

Mrs. Pember nodded, at once in acknowledgment and farewell, and, turning
about, followed the path he had indicated, her gait acquiring a certain
precipitancy as she went down the rough, stony slope. At the foot of the
descent she paused again, and looked to the right and left. Captain
Phippeny was watching her from his vantage ground above. His figure was
one unmistakably of the seaboard. His trousers were of a singular cut,
probably after a pattern evolved in all its originality by Mrs.
Phippeny, her active imagination working towards practical effect. In
addition, he wore a yellow flannel shirt ribbed with purple, which would
hopelessly have jaundiced a rose-leaf complexion, but which, having
exhausted its malignancy without producing any particular effect, ended
by gently harmonizing with the captain's sandy hair, reddish beard, and
tanned skin. His mouth was like a badly made buttonhole, which gaped a
little when he smiled. He had a nose like a parrot's beak, and his eyes
were blue, kindly, and wise in their straightforwardness. When he would
render his costume absolutely _de rigueur_, he wore a leathern jacket
with manifold pockets, from one to another of which trailed a gold
watch-chain with a dangling horseshoe charm.

"I wonder the old woman don't take a dog with her and trace 'em out, she
spends so much time on the hunt," he said to himself. "I declare for't,
it's a sing'lar thing the way she everlastin' does get onto them
'prentices; ain't old enough to talk about settin' sail by themselves."

His quid of tobacco again resumed its claim to his undivided attention,
and he leaned back against the fence and waited as idly as the drooping
sails for a breath of something stirring. By and by it appeared in the
shape of another old sailor, between whom and himself there was the
likeness of two peas, save for a slight discrepancy of feature useful
for purposes of identification.

"You told her where they'd gone, I reckon," he remarked, with a slight
chuckle, as he too leaned up against the fence and looked out over the
harbor.

"Yes, I did," replied Captain Phippeny. "I didn't have no call to tell
her a lie."

"Kinder hard on the young uns," observed the new-comer.

"They ain't ever anythin' as hard on the young uns as on the old uns,"
asserted Captain Phippeny, "because--well, because they're _young_, I
guess. That's Chivy's yacht that came in just at sundown, ain't it?"

"Yare. They say she's seen dirty weather since she was here last."

"Has? Well, you can't stay in harbor allers, and git your livin' at the
same time. She's got toler'ble good men to handle her."

There was a pause. The soft twilight was battening down the hatches of
the day, to drop into the parlance of the locality.

"Well, I do suppose old Pember warn't an easy shipmate, blow or no
blow," observed Captain Smart. He was a small, keen-eyed, quickly moving
old man, seasoned with salt.

"I reckon he warn't. And she thinks she can keep that girl of hers out
of the same kind of discipline that she had to take,--that's the truth
of it."

"Cur'ous, ain't it?" ruminated Captain Smart. "A woman's bound to take
it one way or 'nother; there seems to be more sorts of belayin' pins to
knock 'em over with than they, any on 'em, kinder cal'late on at first."

"So there be," assented Captain Phippeny.

Near the water, with its fading, rose-colored reflections, not so far
from the anchored vessels but they might, had they chosen, have spoken
across to those on board, the monotonous, austere, and yet vaguely soft
gray of the old town rising behind them against the melting sky, sat
Mellony Pember and Ira Baldwin.

"If you'd only make up your mind, Mellony," urged the young man.

"I can't, Ira; don't ask me." The young girl's face, which was delicate
in outline, was troubled, and the sensitive curves of her lips trembled.
The faded blue of her dress harmonized with the soft tones of the scene;
her hat lay beside her, an uncurled, articulated ostrich feather
standing up in it like an exclamation point of brilliant red.

The young man pulled his hat over his eyes and looked over to the
nearest boat. Mellony glanced at him timidly.

"You see, I'm all she's got," she said.

"I ain't goin' to take you away from her, unless you want to go," he
replied, without looking at her.

"She thinks I'll be happier if I don't--if I don't marry."

"Happier!"--he paused in scorn--"and she badgerin' you all the time if
you take a walk with me, and watchin' us as if we were thieves! You
ain't happy now, are you?"

"No." Mellony's eyes filled, and a sigh caught and became almost a sob.

"Well, I wish she'd give me a try at makin' you happy, that's all." His
would-be sulkiness softened into a tender sense of injury. Mellony
twisted her hands together, and looked over beyond the vessels to the
long, narrow neck of land with its clustering houses, beyond which
again, unseen, were booming the waves of the Atlantic.

"Oh, if I only knew what to do!" she exclaimed,--"if I only knew what to
do!"

"I'll tell you what to do, Mellony," he began.

"There's ma, now," she interrupted.

Ira turned quickly and looked over his shoulder. Across the uneven
ground, straight towards them, came the figure of Mrs. Pember. The
tenseness of her expression had further yielded to resolution, which had
in turn taken on a stolidity which declared itself unassailable. No one
of the three spoke as she seated herself on a bit of timber near them,
and, folding her hands, waited with the immobility and the apparent
impartiality of Fate itself. At last Mellony spoke, for of the three she
was the most acutely sensitive to the situation, and the least capable
of enduring it silently.

"Which way did you come, ma?" she asked.

"I come down Rosaly's Lane," Mrs. Pember answered. "I met Cap'n
Phippeny, and he told me you was down here."

"I'm obligated to Cap'n Phippeny," observed Ira, bitterly.

"I dono as he's partickler to have you," remarked Mrs. Pember,
imperturbably.

There was another silence. Mrs. Pember's voice had a marked sweetness
when she spoke to her daughter, which it lost entirely when she
addressed her daughter's companion, but always it was penetrated by the
timbre of a certain inflexibility.

The shadows grew deeper on the water, the glow-worms of lanterns
glimmered more sharply, and the softness of the night grew more
palpable.

"I guess I may as well go back, ma," said Mellony, rising.

"I was wonderin' when you cal'lated on going," remarked her mother, as
she rose too, more slowly and stiffly, and straightened her decent black
bonnet.

"I suppose you was afraid Mellony wouldn't get back safe without you
came after her," broke out Ira.

"I guess I can look after Mellony better than anybody else can, and I
count on doing it, and doing it right along," she replied.

"Come, ma," said Mellony, impatiently; but she waited a moment and let
her mother pass her, while she looked back at Ira, who stood, angry and
helpless, kicking at the rusted timbers.

"Are you coming, too, Ira?" she asked in a low voice.

"No," he exclaimed, "I ain't coming! I don't want to go along back with
your mother and you, as if we weren't old enough to be out by ourselves.
I might as well be handcuffed, and so might you! If you'll come round
with me the way we came, and let her go the way she came, I'll go with
you fast enough."

Mellony's eyes grew wet again, as she looked from him to her mother, and
again at him. Mrs. Pember had paused, also, and stood a little in
advance of them. Her stolidity showed no anxiety; she was too sure of
the result.

"No,"--Mellony's lips framed the words with an accustomed but grievous
patience,--"I can't to-night, Ira; I must go with ma."

"It's to-night that'll be the last chance there'll be, maybe," he
muttered, as he flung himself off in the other direction.

The two women walked together up the rough ascent, and turned into
Rosaly's Lane. Mellony walked wearily, her eyes down, the red feather,
in its uncurled, unlovely assertiveness, looking more like the oriflamme
of a forlorn hope than ever. But Mrs. Pember held herself erect, and as
if she were obliged carefully to repress what might have been the signs
of an ill-judged triumph.

Ira prolonged his walk beyond the limits of the little gray town, goaded
by the irritating pricks of resentment. He would bear it no longer, so
he told himself. Mellony could take him or leave him. He would be a
laughing-stock not another week, not another day. If Mellony would not
assert herself against her tyrannical old mother, he would go away and
leave her! And then he paused, as he had paused so often in the flood of
his anger, faced by the realization that this was just what Mrs. Pember
wanted, just what would satisfy her, what she had been waiting
for,--that he should go away and leave Mellony alone. It was an
exasperating dilemma, his abdication and her triumph, or his uncertainty
and her anxiety.

Mellony and her mother passed Captain Phippeny and Captain Smart, who
still stood talking in the summer evening, the fence continuing to
supply all the support their stalwart frames needed in this their hour
of ease. Captain Smart nudged Captain Phippeny as the two figures turned
the corner of Rosaly's Lane.

"So you found 'em, Mis' Pember," remarked Captain Phippeny. He spoke to
the mother, but he looked, not without sympathy at the daughter.

"Yes, I found 'em."

"You reckoned on fetchin' only one of 'em home, I take it," said Captain
Smart.

"I ain't responsible but for one of 'em," replied Mrs. Pember with some
grimness, but with her eyes averted from Mellony's crimsoning face.

"Come, ma," said Mellony again, and they passed on.

"Mis' Pember is likely enough lookin' woman herself," observed Captain
Smart; "it's kind of cur'ous she should be so set agen marryin,' just
_as_ marryin'."

"'Tis so," assented Captain Phippeny, thoughtfully, looking after the
two women.

Without speaking, Mellony and her mother entered the little house where
they lived, and the young girl sank down in the stiff, high-backed
rocker, with its thin calico-covered cushion tied with red braid, that
stood by the window. Outside, the summer night buzzed and hummed, and
breathed sweet odors. Mrs. Pember moved about the room, slightly
altering its arrangements, now and then looking at her daughter half
furtively, as if waiting for her to speak; but Mellony's head was not
turned from the open window, and she was utterly silent. At last this
immobility had a sympathetic effect upon the mother, and she seated
herself not far from the girl, her hands, with their prominent knuckles
and shrunken flesh, folded in unaccustomed idleness, and waited, while
in the room dusk grew to dark. To Mellony the hour was filled with
suggestions that emphasized and defined her misery. In her not turbulent
or passionate nature, the acme of its capacity for emotional suffering
had been reached. Hitherto this suffering had been of the perplexed,
patient, submissive kind; to-night, the beauty of the softly descending
gloom, the gentle freedom of the placid harbor, the revolt of her
usually yielding lover, deepened it into something more acute.

"Mellony," said her mother, with a touch of that timidity which appeared
only in her speech with her daughter, "did you count on going over to
the Neck to-morrow, as you promised?"

"I'll never count on doing anything again," said Mellony, in a voice she
tried to make cold and even, but which vibrated notwithstanding,--"never,
so long as I live. I'll never think, or plan, or--or speak, if I can
help it--of what I mean to do. I'll never do anything but just work and
shut my eyes and--and live, if I've got to!" Her voice broke, and she
turned her head away from the open window and looked straight before her
into the shadowed room. Her mother moved uneasily, and her knotted hands
grasped the arms of the stiff chair in which she sat.

"Mellony," she said again, "you've no call to talk so."

"I've no call to talk at all. I've no place anywhere. I'm not anybody. I
haven't any life of my own." The keen brutality of the thoughtlessness
of youth, and its ignoring of all claims but those of its own happiness,
came oddly from the lips of submissive Mellony. Mrs. Pember quivered
under it.

"You know you're my girl, Mellony," she answered gently. "You're all
I've got."

"Yes," the other answered indifferently, "that's all I am,--Mellony
Pember, Mrs. Pember's girl,--just that."

"Ain't that enough? Ain't that something to be,--all I plan for and work
for? Ain't that enough for a girl to be?"

Mellony turned her eyes from emptiness, and fixed them upon her mother's
face, dimly outlined in the vagueness.

"Is that all you've been," she asked, "just somebody's daughter?"

It was as if a heavy weight fell from her lips and settled upon her
mother's heart. There was a silence. Mellony's eyes, though she could
not see them, seemed to Mrs. Pember to demand an answer in an
imperative fashion unlike their usual mildness.

"It's because I've been,--it's because I'd save you from what I have
been that I--do as I do. You know that," she said.

"I don't want to be saved," returned the other, quickly and sharply.

The older woman was faced by a situation she had never dreamed of,--a
demand to be allowed to suffer! The guardian had not expected this from
her carefully shielded charge.

"I want you to have a happy life," she added.

"A happy life!" flashed the girl. "And you're keeping me from any life
at all! That's what I want,--life, my own life, not what anybody else
gives me of theirs. Why shouldn't I have what they have, even if it's
bad now and then? Don't save me in spite of myself! Nobody likes to be
saved in spite of themselves."

It was a long speech for Mellony. A large moon had risen, and from the
low horizon sent golden shafts of light almost into the room; it was as
if the placidity of the night were suddenly penetrated by something more
glowing. Mellony stood looking down at her mother, like a judge. Mrs.
Pember gazed at her steadily.

"I'm going to save you, Mellony," she said, her indomitable will making
her voice harsher than it had been, "whether you want to be saved or
not. I'm not going to have you marry, and be sworn at and cuffed."
Mellony moved to protest, but her strength was futility beside her
mother's at a time like this. "I'm not going to have you slave and grub,
and get blows for your pains. I'm going to follow you about and set
wherever you be, whenever you go off with Ira Baldwin, if that'll stop
it; and if that won't, I'll try some other way,--I know other ways. I'm
not going to have you marry! I'm going to have you stay along with me!"

With a slight gesture of despair, Mellony turned away. The flash had
burned itself out. The stronger nature had reasserted itself. Silently,
feeling her helplessness, frightened at her own rebellion now that it
was over, she went out of the room to her own smaller one, and closed
the door.

Mrs. Pember sat silent in her turn, reviewing her daughter's resentment,
but the matter admitted no modifications in her mind; her duty was
clear, and her determination had been taken long ago. Neither did she
fear anything like persistent opposition; she knew her daughter's
submissive nature well.

Brought up in a country village, an earnest and somewhat apprehensive
member of the church, Mrs. Pember had married the captain early in life,
under what she had since grown to consider a systematic illusion
conceived and maintained by the Evil One, but which was, perhaps, more
logically due to the disconcerting good looks and decorously restrained
impetuosity of Captain Pember himself. Possibly he had been the victim
of an illusion too, not believing that austerity of principle could
exist with such bright eyes and red cheeks as charmed him in the country
girl. At least, he never hesitated subsequently, not only to imply, but
to state baldly, a sense of the existence of injury. Captain Phippeny
was one of those sailors whom the change of scene, the wide knowledge of
men and of things, the hardships and dangers of a sea life, broaden and
render tolerant and somewhat wise. Pember had been brutalized by these
same things.

The inhabitants of Grayhead were distinguished by the breadth and
suggestiveness of their profanity, and Captain Pember had been a past
master of the accomplishment. Praise from Sir Hubert Stanley could have
been no more discriminating than the local acknowledgment of his
proficiency in this line. No wonder Mrs. Pember looked back at the ten
years of her married life with a shudder. With the rigid training of
her somewhat dogmatic communion still potent, she listened in a
horrified expectancy, rather actual than figurative, for the heavens to
strike or the earth to swallow up her nonchalant husband. Nor was this
all. The weakness for grog, unfortunately supposed to be inherent in a
nautical existence, was carried by Captain Pember to an extent
inconsiderate even in the eyes of a seafaring public; and when, under
its genial influence, he knocked his wife down and tormented Mellony,
the opinion of this same public declared itself on the side of the
victims with a unanimity which is not always to be counted upon in such
cases.

In fact, her married life had, as it were, formalized many hitherto
somewhat vague details of Mrs. Pember's conception of the place of
future punishment; and when her husband died in an appropriate and
indecorous fashion as the result of a brawl, he continued to mitigate
the relief of the event by leaving in his wife's heart a haunting fear,
begotten of New England conscientiousness, that perhaps she ought not to
be so unmistakably glad of it. It was thus that, with Mellony's growth
from childhood to womanhood, the burning regret for her former unmarried
state, whose difficulties had been mainly theological, had become a no
less burning resolve that her child should never suffer as she had
suffered, but should be guarded from matrimony as from death. That she
failed to distinguish between individuals, that she failed to see that
young Baldwin was destitute of those traits which her sharpened vision
would now have detected in Pember's youth, was both the fault of her
perceptive qualities and the fruit of her impregnable resolve. She had
been hurt by Mellony's rebellion, but not influenced by so much as a
hair's-breadth.

Early one morning, two or three days later, Mrs. Pember, lying awake
waiting for the light to grow brighter that she might begin her day,
heard a slight sound outside, of a certain incisiveness out of
proportion to its volume. With an idleness that visited her only at
early day-break, she wondered what it was. It was repeated, and this
time, moved by an insistent curiosity blended with the recognition of
its probable cause, she rose and looked out of the window which was
close to the head of her bed. A little pier was a stone's throw from the
house on that side, at which were moored several boats belonging to the
fishermen about. It was as she thought; a stooping figure, dim and hazy
in the morning fog, which blurred the nearest outlines and veiled the
more distant, was untying one of the boats, and had slipped the oars
into the rowlocks.

"Going fishing early," she said to herself. "I wonder which of 'em it
is. They are all alike in this light."

Then she stood and looked out upon the morning world. It would soon be
sunrise. Meanwhile, the earth was silent, save for the soft rippling of
the untired waves that scarcely rose and fell in this sheltered harbor;
the land had been at rest through the short night, but they had climbed
and lapsed again steadily through its hours; the paling stars would soon
have faded into the haze. The expectation of the creature waited for the
manifestation.

Softly the boat floated away from its moorings. It seemed propelled
without effort, so quietly it slipped through the water. In the bottom
lay the sail and the nets, a shadowy mass; the boat itself was little
more than a shadow, as it glided on into the thicker fog which received
and enveloped it, as into an unknown vague future which concealed and
yet held promise and welcome.

Mrs. Pember glanced at the clock. It was very early, but to go back to
bed was hardly worth while. The sun was already beginning to glint
through the fog. She dressed, and, passing softly the door of the room
where Mellony slept,--rather fitfully of late,--began to make the fire.

The morning broadened and blazed into the day, and the whole town was
making ready for its breakfast. Mellony was later than usual,--her
mother did not hear her moving about, even; but she was unwilling to
disturb her; she would wait a while longer before calling her. At last,
however, the conviction of the immorality of late rising could no longer
be ignored, and she turned the knob of Mellony's door and stepped into
the room.

She had been mistaken in supposing that Mellony was asleep; the girl
must have risen early and slipped out, for the room was empty, and Mrs.
Pember paused, surprised that she had not heard her go. It must have
been while she was getting kindling-wood in the yard that Mellony had
left by the street door. And what could she have wanted so early in the
village?--for to the village she must have gone; she was nowhere about
the little place, whose flatness dropped, treeless, to the shore. Her
mother went again to the kitchen, and glanced up and down the waterside.
There was no one on the little wooden pier, and the boats swung gently
by its side, their own among them, so Mellony had not gone out in that.
Yes, she must have gone to the village, and Mrs. Pember opened the front
door and scanned the wandering little street. It was almost empty; the
early morning activity of the place was in other directions.

With the vague uneasiness that unaccustomed and unexplained absence
always produces, but with no actual apprehension, Mrs. Pember went back
to her work. Mellony had certain mild whims of her own, but it was
surprising that she should have left her room in disorder, the bed
unmade; that was not like her studious neatness. With a certain grimness
Mrs. Pember ate her breakfast alone. Of course no harm had come to
Mellony, but where was she? Unacknowledged, the shadow of Ira Baldwin
fell across her wonder. Had Mellony cared so much for him that her
disappointment had driven her to something wild and fatal? She did not
ask the question, but her lips grew white and stiff at the faintest
suggestion of it. Several times she went to the door, meaning to go out,
and up the street to look for her daughter, but each time something
withheld her. Instead, with that determination that distinguished her,
she busied herself with trifling duties. It was quite nine o'clock when
she saw Captain Phippeny coming up the street. She stood still and
watched him approach. His gait was more rolling than ever, as he came
slowly towards her, and he glanced furtively ahead at her house, and
then dropped his eyes and pretended not to have seen her. She grew
impatient to have him reach her, but she only pressed her lips together
and stood the more rigidly still. At last he stood in front of her
doorstone, his hat in his hand. The yellow shirt and the leathern jacket
were more succinctly audacious than ever, but doubt and irresolution in
every turn of his blue eyes and line of his weather-beaten face had
taken the place of the tolerant kindliness.

"It's a warm mornin', Mis' Pember," he observed, more disconcerted than
ever by her unsmiling alertness.

"You came a good ways to tell me that, Captain Phippeny."

"Yes, I did. Leastways I didn't," he responded. "I come to tell you
about--about Mellony."

"What about Mellony, Captain Phippeny?" she demanded, pale, but
uncompromising. "What have you got to tell me about Mellony Pember?" she
reiterated as he paused.

"Not Mellony Pember," gasped the captain, a three-cornered smile trying
to make headway against his embarrassment as he recalled the ancient
tale of breaking the news to the Widow Smith; "Mellony Baldwin."

"Mellony Baldwin!" repeated Mrs. Pember, stonily, not yet fully
comprehending.

The captain grew more and more nervous.

"Yes," he proceeded, with the haste of despair, "yes. Mis' Pember, you
see Mellony--Mellony's married."

"Mellony married!" Strangely enough she had not thought of that. She
grasped the doorpost for support.

"Yes, she up and married him," went on the captain more blithely. "I
hardly thought it of Mellony," he added in not unpleasurable reflection,
"nor yet of Ira."

"Nor I either." Mrs. Pember's lips moved with difficulty. Mellony
married! The structure reared with tears and prayers, the structure of
Mellony's happiness, seemed to crumble before her eyes.

"And I was to give you this;" and from the lining of his hat the
captain drew forth a folded paper.

"Then you knew about it?" said Mrs. Pember, in a flash of cold wrath.

"No, no, I didn't. My daughter's boy brought this to me, and I was to
tell you they was married. And why they set the job onto me the Lord he
only knows!" and Captain Phippeny wiped his heated forehead with
feeling; "but that's all _I_ know."

Slowly, her fingers trembling, she unfolded the note.

"I have married Ira, mother," she read. "He took me away in a boat early
this morning. It was the only way. I will come back when you want me. If
I am to be unhappy, I'd rather be unhappy this way. I can't be unhappy
your way any longer. I'm sorry to go against you, mother; but it's my
life, after all, not yours,          MELLONY."

As Mrs. Pember's hands fell to her side and the note slipped from her
fingers, the daily tragedy of her married life seemed to pass before
her eyes. She saw Captain Pember reel into the house, she shuddered at
his blasphemy, she felt the sting of the first blow he had given her,
she cowered as he roughly shook Mellony's little frame by her childish
arm.

"She'd better be dead!" she murmured. "I wish she was dead."

Captain Phippeny pulled himself together. "No, she hadn't,--no, you
don't, Mis' Pember," he declared stoutly. "You're making a mistake. You
don't want to see Mellony dead any more'n I do. She's only got married,
when all's said and done, and there's a sight of folks gets married and
none the worse for it. Ira Baldwin ain't any great shakes,--I dono as he
is; he's kinder light complected and soft spoken,--but he ain't a born
fool, and that's a good deal, Mis' Pember." He paused impressively, but
she did not speak. "And he ain't goin' to beat Mellony, either; he ain't
that sort. I guess Mellony could tackle him, if it came to that,
anyhow. I tell you, Mis' Pember, there's one thing you don't take no
reckonin' on,--there's a difference in husbands, there's a ter'ble
difference in 'em!" Mrs. Pember looked at him vaguely. Why did he go on
talking? Mellony was married. "Mellony's got one kind, and you--well,"
he went on, with cautious delicacy, "somehow you got another. I tell you
it's husbands as makes the difference to a woman when it comes to
marryin'."

Mrs. Pember stooped, picked up the note, turned and walked into the
living-room and sat down. She looked about her with that sense of
unreality that visits us at times. There was the chair in which Mellony
sat the night of her rebellious outbreak,--Mellony, her daughter, her
married daughter. Other women talked about their "married daughters"
easily enough, and she had pitied them; now she would have to talk so,
too. She felt unutterably lonely. Her household, like her hope, was
shattered. She looked up and saw that Captain Phippeny had followed her
in and was standing before her, turning his hat in his brown, tattooed
hands.

"Mis' Pember," he said, "I thought, mebbe, now Mellony was married,
you'd be thinkin' of matrimony yourself agen." As Mrs. Pember gazed at
him dumbly it seemed as if she must all at once have become another
person. Matrimony had suddenly become domesticated, as it were. Her eyes
travelled over the horseshoe charm and the long gold chain, as she
listened, and from pocket to pocket. "And so I wanted to say that I'd
like to have you think of me, if you was making out the papers for
another v'yage. The first mate I sailed with, she says to me when she
died, 'You've been a good husband, Phippeny,' says she. I wouldn't say
anythin' to you, I wouldn't take the resk, if she hadn't said that to
me. Mis' Pember, and I'm tellin' it to you now because there's such a
difference; and I feel kinder encouraged by it to ask you to try me. I'd
like to have you marry me, Mis' Pember."

It was a long speech, and the captain was near to suffocation when it
was finished, but he watched her with anxious keenness as he waited for
her to reply. The stern lines of her mouth relaxed slowly. A brilliant
red geranium in the window glowed in the sunlight which had just reached
it. The world was not all dark. The room seemed less lonely with the
captain in it, as she glanced around it a second time. She scanned his
face: the buttonhole of a mouth had a kindly twist; he did not look in
the least like handsome Dick Pember. Mellony had married, and her world
was in fragments, and something must come after.

"I never heard as you weren't a good husband to Mis' Phippeny," she said
calmly, "and I dono as anybody'll make any objection if I marry you,
Captain Phippeny."



Memoir of Mary Twining


THE other day I spent several hours in looking over a lot of dusty
volumes which had fallen to me in the way of inheritance. In the
somewhat heterogeneous collection I came upon a brief memoir which,
after a glance within, I laid aside as worthy, at least, of perusal. The
other books were of little value of any sort--an orthodox commentary, an
odd volume of a county history, one or two cook-books, a worn and broken
set of certain standard British authors,--the usual assortment to be
found in a country farmhouse, whose occupants soon ceased to keep up
with the times. But this little book seemed to me unusual,--an opinion
subsequently confirmed by examination. I had long ago discovered the
fallacy of that tradition of early youth that a memoir is, of necessity,
dull, and I was in nowise unfavorably affected by the title, "Memoir of
Mary Twining." There proved to be something to me singularly quaint and
charming in this little sketch, something fresh and new in this voice
from bygone years. The subject of the memoir attracted me powerfully,
both from the simplicity and naturalness of her own words, and the
freedom and occasional depth of both thought and expression, in a day
when freedom and thinking for one's self were less the fashion of New
England maidens than they have since become. Or, it may be that the
Editor, notwithstanding an occasional stiffness and apparent want of
sympathy, has so well done his work, has understood so well what to give
us and what to keep from us, that the reader's interest is skilfully
fostered from the start. Be this as it may, I have not been able to
resist the temptation to write, myself, a little of this memoir and its
subject, to make a little wider, if I may, the public who have been told
the story of this life. Not that it was an exciting or an eventful one,
though lived in stirring times, but as I have already said, it seems to
have a certain charm which should not be left forgotten in country
garrets or unnoticed in second-hand bookstores. With no further apology
for this review of it, I shall let the book, as far as possible, speak
for itself.

Mary Twining was born in Middleport, Massachusetts, June 27, 1757. Her
father fought with Colonel Washington in the French and Indian War, and
subsequently under General Washington in a later disturbance. Her mother
was a granddaughter of one of the early colonial governors. Mary seems
to have come naturally enough by fine impulses and good breeding.

"It is not," says the conscientious biographer, "from any vain
Partiality for high-sounding names, or any poor Pretense of good blood,
which were most out of place in this our Republic, made so by the Genius
and enduring Fortitude of all classes of Men, that I claim for Mary
Twining stately Lineage, but that when such Accidents fall in the lives
of Human Beings, it is not a thing to make light of, but worthy of study
in its Results. Besides which is General Washington none the less a Good
Soldier in that he is a Gentleman."

I suspect the traditions of a loyal Englishman had not been wholly
eradicated from the mind of this biographer by a few years of plebeian
institutions. With equal truth he goes on, however, to say that what was
"of an Importance swallowing up the Lesser Matter of Lineage and
Station, Richard Twining was an upright and a God-fearing man, and Mary,
his wife, patterned in all things after the Behaviour of her godly
Ancestor." Either Richard or Mary, his wife, must have something
"patterned" after a liberal and occasionally self-willed model, else
whence came the spice of independence in the little Mary's character?
She was an only child, and only children were probably in the middle of
the eighteenth very much what they are in the close of the nineteenth
century,--little beings allowed greater liberties, and burdened with
heavier accountabilities, than where there are more to divide both.
There are several incidents told of her childhood, not particularly
remarkable, perhaps, but showing that her mind and her imagination were
alive. She was not by any means a precocious child; her mind was but
little, if at all, in advance of her years. If one may judge from
detached anecdotes and descriptions, she showed no more than the
receptivity and quickness natural to a bright and somewhat unusually
clear intellect. Through all these anecdotes there runs a vein denoting
what is less common in childhood than a certain precocity,--a keen sense
of justice. She appears to have reasoned of many things, usually taken
by childhood for granted, and assented to their results only if they
seemed to her childishness just. If after life showed her that the
affairs of this life can be but seldom regulated according to the ideas
of finite justice, she never seems to have lost a certain fairness of
judgment and opinion, which is rare in one of her sex and circumstances.
When five years old, her mother, wishing her to give up a pet doll to a
little crippled friend, told her that sympathy should suggest her doing
it; that it was a privilege to make another happy; that it was
selfishness to prefer her own pleasure of possession to that of another.
But Mary listened unmoved to these arguments. Nevertheless the struggle
was not a long one. With a good grace, after a few moments of silence,
she carried the doll to her unfortunate friend. "Mamma," she said
soberly, "she shall have it, for it is right that she should. I feel it.
I shall have many things that she can never have."

For the logic of five years it was no small thing to have settled this
question in this way. It would take too much time and too much space to
dwell on the anecdotes of her childhood. Indeed, the biographer does not
linger on them long himself.

"It is meet," he says, "to speak of these early Years, not from a desire
to show that there was aught in the Childhood of Mary Twining remarkable
or unnatural, that should be the Cause of Wonder or Admiration. But the
rather that there may be evinced the Presence, even in the Germ, of
certain Qualities of Soundness of Judgment and of Thoughtfulness unusual
in a Female, which grew with her Growth, and which were in later Years,
developed into stronger Traits by no unnatural means."

In 1773 she was sent away to a school in which she remained three years,
varied by occasional visits at home. She made several friends here, and
here, for the first time, kept a methodical and somewhat extended
diary. From this diary her biographer makes copious extracts. In fact,
from this period the memoir is chiefly made up from her several
journals, in whose continuity there are now and then large gaps, with
occasional notes. I shall make less copious extracts, principally those
bearing upon that matter of which we always, more or less consciously,
seek traces in the lives of individuals, distinguished or obscure, the
love story. But first for her school life, into which few whispers of
sentiment penetrated. It was no fashionable boarding-school to which she
was sent, attended by young ladies whose dreams of what they will soon
be doing in society monopolize the hours nominally devoted to literature
and the sciences. An old friend of her mother opened her house to a few
representatives of those families with whom she was acquainted, where,
under the best teachers the country afforded, they were trained in such
acquirements as were prescribed by the canons of the day. On the
fifteenth of September she says:--

"I have been something more than a week at the good School which my kind
Parents have chosen for me. There seems, after all, to be little doing
here. The few exercises in Mathematics, and the selections from the
works of the most Highly Endowed of the Authors of England appear to me
to be the most Profitable. As for the matter of Embroidery, I worked
with Patience, ten years ago, a Sampler which was not considered
discreditable, and it seems to me that of the multiplying of Stitches
there is no end, and it were, perhaps, as well to go no farther. My
daily Practice on the Spinet, may, perhaps, be the means of giving
Pleasure at some Future Time, but it is the Occasion of but little
Benefit in the Present, and of the Future can we be never certain."

The question of profitableness of a good many of her employments was
often in her mind during these three years. She cannot help feeling
that there are times when it is hard to contentedly fold the hands over
even the worsted marvels of a "not discreditable" sampler. A year later,
she says again:--

"More Practice and more Embroidery this afternoon. There are those of my
Companions who ask nothing better than such unvarying Exercises. In them
they find room for the employing of their Imagination and their Spirit.
I wonder if it be so great a Fault in me, that I find them wearying. It
is not that they are in themselves so distasteful, as it is that there
seemeth much work waiting to be done, which a woman's Hands might well
do, were it not reckoned somewhat unseemly."

"Her's was a somewhat restless Soul," says her biographer, "perplexing
itself with Questions which it was not for her to answer."

Yes, with questions with which many a restless woman's soul has since
perplexed itself, and which are now only beginning to attain solution.
It is pleasant to find, in these early times, when we fancy New England
maidens well content with their spinning and bread-making, hints that
there were enterprising spirits who thought the prescribed round a too
narrow one.

She finds some fault with one of her teachers for being too lenient with
her.

"I received no Reproof," she says, "to-day when I most Richly deserved
it. A Disturbance in the Hour for Study was entirely of my own making,
but the Person who is Master at that Hour refused, with Persistence, to
see it. I made it most evident, but he remarked, with a frown for a less
Offender, that he should hold Mistress Twining excused. I shall find
Occasion to address him on this Subject, for if I receive due Credit for
that which I do that is Well Done, I shall show no unwillingness to bear
the Brunt of my Superior's Displeasure for what is Ill Done. Moreover, I
will not have it otherwise."

"It were better," is the brief comment, "it were better had Mary
Twining shown more Regret for what she herself confesses was ill done,
rather than that she should take upon herself to correct the Faults of
those towards whom she was somewhat lacking in Reverence." But it is
droll enough to fancy the scene--the pretty schoolgirl gravely rebuking
her delinquent master for the too great partiality her own bright eyes
had won for her. Poor man! His was no sinecure. To hold rule over a
parcel of unruly girls, with the graces of one so tugging at his
heartstrings! His path might at least have been spared the thorn of
having his fault denounced by the very voice that had done the mischief.

During the last year of her stay she writes less. Did the objectlessness
of this education of hers pall upon the energy of her nature more and
more? Or was her woman's heart preparing the way for the answer to this
restless questioning? It is only now and then that we catch a glimpse of
this development, which was singularly mature and singularly free from
restriction.

"I have read many Tales," she says, "how true, in my small Experience, I
know not, of the aptitude of Women, particularly those young women whose
characters are in a state of most Imperfect Development, to yield in
matters essential to their best Happiness to the Opposing Wishes of
Parents and Guardians. I speak of those Matters, perhaps not the most
fitting for the Speculations of a but Partially-schooled Maiden--Love,
and the Choosing of a Husband. While in these matters, as in all others,
the Wishes of Wise and Fond Parents and Guardians are the only safe
Guides for a young and Untrained Spirit, there are other Cases where
Injustice and a Desire to Rule are but slender Grounds for the exercise
of Authority. I know that my Boldness in this Opinion cannot pass even
my own mind unchallenged, but when I read of Unwilling Maids forced to
the very Church Door or Languishing under unmerited sternness, and
Yielding up their own Happiness, and that of another (though he be a
Man) into the Hands of an unwise Judge through inability to resist such
unloving Pressure, my Nature rebels against it. It would seem to me
cause for a Glad and an Unfaltering Resistance. For a Husband is, after
all, a Matter for a Maid's own choosing."

"The beaten path," says the biographer, "had ever but little attraction
for Mary Twining. It had been well had she been less fain to seek
Opportunity for a Lawful Resistance to Bonds. It seemeth ever to the
Young that such opportunities are not long in coming."

It was not only from the consciences of the colonial fathers that the
stirrings of independence went forth. Apparently there was a spirit
abroad that breathed now and then from the lips of but partially-schooled
maidens. Still, it is not unruliness, this protest of a young and
independent spirit against the slavishness now and then upheld in
certain forms of literature. There is little revolutionary, after all,
in Mary's sentiment that "a Husband is a matter for a Maid's own
choosing."

But we must pass over the last few notes of her school life. At nineteen
she left school forever.

"I am about to leave this little Life of School," she writes, "for a
larger Life of Home, and mayhap a Taste of that Life which is called of
the World. And if I be not now, at the age of Nineteen years, equipped
for the change and able to comport myself with a becoming Discretion and
Dignity, then such equipment is not to be found within these Four Walls
or in daily Practice of Music and Mathematics. Which, though I be filled
with no over-weening Distrust of my own Capabilities, seemeth to my eyes
of some Doubt and Difference of Opinion."

"On a certain day of June," her biographer goes on to state, "Mistress
Mary Twining was placed in the Coach which should take her a Two Days'
Journey to her Father's House. She was in Company with an old and
Reverend Gentleman of friendly Disposition, who was well known to her
Father and held in excellent esteem of him. The Fairness of a Maid is
but a vain Toy, but," declares this most staid biographer, with a
refreshing candor, "as it is a matter which is not without its effect on
the Fortunes of many, it is not always to be passed over in the Silence
which would befit a Sober Pen. Mary Twining's Hair was of a golden
Colour and wound itself in small, and not always tidy, Rings about her
Neck and Forehead. Her eyes were of a darker appearance than is common,
and her Mouth, though not without a certain Winsomeness, gave Promise of
a Firmness of Opinion and an Independence which was perhaps but a Sign
of the Times, which her small and shrewdly-set Nose did not deny."

I more than suspect that, disclaim it as he may, our discreet biographer
was in nowise loath to dwell a little on this vain toy of Mary's
personal appearance. I even fancy that he was tempted to employ greater
latitude of expression, which only his stern sense of his
responsibilities led him to reject, in the description of that
uncompromising mouth, not to mention the spice of naughtiness involved
in that nose so "shrewdly set."

Not an unattractive picture in the coach window, this June day, is this
of Mary Twining, in her big poke bonnet, white kerchief and
short-waisted gown. And who is this, who, coming at the last moment,
springs into a vacant place at her side, under the very eyes of the
reverend old gentleman, her father's friend? The three-cornered hat
which he doffs with ceremonious courtesy to the fair vision before him,
the powdered queue, the high boots with jingling spurs, the sword at his
side, are not unpicturesque items in our nineteenth-century eyes. Were
they likely to be so in the eyes of this nineteen-year-old maiden just
out of boarding-school?

"As it happened," says the biographer, "there went down the same day,
and by the same Coach, one of the young Aids of our General. He was a
personable Youth, and the Arrangement of the many Fripperies of the
Costume of a young Gallant did naught to take away from the Face and
Figure which Providence had accorded him. It were better had he or Mary
Twining chosen another Time for the Journey."

Neither, probably, did a natural timidity of disposition do aught to
lessen the impression which a personable young man has it in his power
in any century to make upon a fair and observing girl. Mary herself
says:--

"There rode down with us a young gallant of most holiday Appearance, but
not ignorant withal of the working days of a Soldier. It was not long
before he had entered into Conversation with Mr. Edwards, who had
knowledge of the young Man's Parents, from which Conversation I learned
something of himself, though most modestly told. He would fain have
opened the Way for me to join in my Guardian's Questioning, but I bore
in Mind the Unseemliness of an unwarranted Acquaintanceship, and sought
rather to avoid than to court the Glances which he was not over cautious
in sending in my Direction."

"A Maid's avoidance," observes the biographer, "of a Youth's Glances, is
not of that Nature that is the Cutting off of all Hope."

And Fortune, too, was not of so perverse a disposition in this June
weather as she is sometimes. For, on the second day, when probably
glances, so conscientiously evaded, had become but the accompaniment of
spoken words, there was an accident. The coach, as coaches are apt to
do, was upset, and its occupants "made haste rather as they could than
as they would," to leave it. In the confusion and tumbling about of
heavy boxes Mary might have been badly hurt, had not the young gallant,
quickly springing to his feet, caught her as she was thrown forward by a
second lurch of the unwieldy thing, and, lifting her up, carried her out
of the way of falling luggage and struggling horses to a place of
safety.

"He lifted me as though I had been but a Feather's weight, showing a
Strength which is indeed Goodly in the Sons of Men," says Mary demurely,
"and which was most grateful in the Stress and Confusion, and in its
display most Timely, though perhaps," she adds, with delicious
frankness, "he was not over ready to put me down that he might hasten
back to be of further help."

"My Bonnet was awry," she continues, "my Hair in sad confusion, and my
Face a Milkmaid Red, so that I said with but little Grace, 'Sir, I fear
you have found me a grievous Weight.' Whereupon he answered me that so
light was my weight, that his Heart was the Heavier for the Putting of
me down, which was a Conceit not reasonable but most kindly intended.
Whereon I thanked him, and he vowed such a Burden would he gladly carry
to the World's End had he but Leave given."

Another picture not unpleasant to the mind's eye, the overturned coach,
the esteemed guardian of the youthful beauty delaying a little in its
immediate neighborhood, perhaps to secure the safety of some precious
package, the farm laborers in the green adjacent fields dropping their
tools and running forward to help, the outcry and confusion, and apart,
in the summer sunshine, the handsome fellow with the flashing sword by
his side, listening with bent head and admiring eyes to the thanks which
Mistress Mary, with her untidy hair and lifted eyes, was tendering with
"but little Grace."

"Such chance meeting of the Sexes," says our astute commentator, "where
appear what is most commanding in the One and most dependent in the
Other, are but ill advised. The Uttering of such vain proffers as the
carrying the Burden of Mary Twining to the World's End, and other
Foolishness, hath then a Savour of Reality which concealeth the vain
Delusion."

We have delayed too long over these extracts, and though I am tempted to
delay yet longer, so quaint is the contrast between Mary Twining's
youthful and feminine pen and that of her critical biographer, I pass on
to a time some months after her arrival home. Indeed, she writes little
in the interval. The coming into a new and wider circle, the adapting
herself to new conditions, leave her scant time for writing. There is a
rapid noting of events, for it was an eventful time,--the mention of a
few distinguished names, and that is all. But in order to follow the
thread of Mary Twining's romance, we must pause at the account of a ball
given to one of General Washington's regiments at a time before the
rigor of war had quenched all thoughts of merry-making. It was not her
first ball. She had mixed freely in society, and had measured herself
with the men and women about her,--always an interesting experience to
the free, unprejudiced and thoughtful girl.

"It was a joyous Scene enough," she writes, "but I myself not quite in
the Humour for such Junketing. I had a gloomy Fancy that Reason would
not dismiss, that in these Troublous Times there were Things outside of
the Ball room Door, striving to enter, which having done, they would
have proved of singular Inappositeness. None the less I danced with
those who solicited me in due Form, and gave Heed to little else than
the manner of the Solicitation. Not that there was Lack of Goodly
Partners, but I was mindful of nothing beyond the Observance of the
Courtesies of the Occasion. The only Annoyance of which I was sensible
was the marked Attention of my Cousin Eustace Fleming, who is but
recently come into this our Part of the Country, and claimeth
Relationship. He is a most excellent Young Gentleman, but one who is
likely to weary me with his over Appreciation of my own Qualities. It is
but a Sign of my Stubbornness and Unregeneracy of Heart that, in that he
is most approved and commended of my Parents, he wearieth me the more. I
was fain to tell him, when he asked me a third Time to join the Dance,
that there were fairer Maidens in the Hall who would be less loth to
accord him the Favour, but as this would but have drawn from him a
laboured compliment to my own Person, I prudently refrained."

It was in the weariness of this very encounter that, looking up, she saw
approaching her the hero of her adventure in the coach, the impulsive
youth whose former foolishness had won for him the semi-disapproval of
our commentator. It seems possible that the gloomy fancies of shadowy
things outside lightened a little, and the war ceased to be a background
only for shapes of evil.

"It required not the space of a moment for me to recognize him, though
his Attire had changed with the Circumstance, but as my Father's Friend,
Mr. Edwards, had not deemed it of sufficient Importance to mention our
former Rencontre, it now seemed to me useless to publicly recall that
Incident. Particularly as being now duly presented to me in the Presence
of my Parents, and with due Vouchers of his Credit, our Acquaintance
could make such Progress as we should mutually consider profitable."

Prudent Mistress Mary and delinquent Mr. Edwards!

"After the Cotillion for which he had asked the Honour of my Hand, he
led me to my Seat, but by a somewhat indirect Route. Upon my remarking
upon which, he found Occasion to say that all Ways were short to him now
after traversing the long and difficult one which he had followed that
he might gain Admission to my Presence. I, laughing, said that my
Presence were hardly worth such effort in Gaining, and that it was
generally attained with more Ease, and he, replying with a Grace of
Manner it were impossible not to remark, said hastily that he was well
aware that he had found it easier to enter than he should to again
forsake it."

"And so on with such Vanities," says the biographer, "as pass Current
with young Men and Maidens in their shortsighted Enjoyment of the
moment, and with which Mary Twining was but too fain to dally."

Yes, and so on, the old story. For there follow the frequent meetings,
known and not unapproved of by the watchful parents, the half
confessions, the vague wonderment, and at last the pledge given and
received, and Mary Twining became the affianced wife of the handsome
young officer. All this we trace in her journal, with satiric comments,
now and then, of the Editor; but it is all so familiar that we will not
dwell on it, pretty as it is. Only one shadow seems to have fallen on
the lovers,--that of Mr. Eustace Fleming, the worthy cousin, whose
importunities in the ball-room so tired the patience of Mistress Mary.
The parentally favored candidate for Mary's hand, he finds it,
evidently, too hard to give it up without a struggle. With a lack of
that wisdom unfortunate lovers find it so hard to supply, he disturbed
their interviews, forced himself on Mary's society, yet with no
insolence and no self-betrayal that could lead to an outbreak. He is
apparently a self-contained, and not a bad man, who finds it impossible
to see that he is beaten. Of this period I make one or two extracts from
Mary's journal, and then go on to the end.

"If I once marvelled at the yielding of those weak Women who find it
easier to relinquish the Happiness that they find in the Love of Those
bound to them by mutual attraction, than to contest the matter with all
Dignity, Forbearance, Firmness and Patience, how much the more do I
marvel now at their Shortsightedness! Were he, whom I gladly call my
Betrothed, to be the Victim of Oppression or of Malice, it would seem to
me but the throwing down of the Glove--a challenge to Battle, rather
than a demand for Submission. Methinks it were not as a Suppliant that I
should stoop to pick it up. But why talk of fighting, who am a peaceful
Maid, who would labour, were it but Honourable towards her dear Country,
to remove the Sound of Battle far from her Lover. For indeed he is more
ready to fight than am I to have him. He would see an Opportunity to
strike a Blow in my Cause where is none, so anxious is he to draw his
Sword in my Behalf. Indeed so excellent an Opinion doth he entertain of
my Person and my Mind and my Conditions, that he would not be long in
finding one who should most justly contest the same. Heaven send that he
may hold to the Opinion and forget the Wish to make Proselytes!

"It would seem that some men were created but as a sort of Makeweight,
who, without active Hindrance, make it more difficult to row one's Boat
up the Stream of Life. Of such kind is my Cousin Eustace Fleming. His
most mistaken Admiration of me (for that in him is a Mistake which in
Another is but a most fitting and a most reverenced Creed) serves but to
make a Let and Hindrance where my satisfaction is concerned. I would
that he could more easily learn the Lesson I have been at such Pains to
mark out for him."

"It were vain," is the comment on the last passage, "to expect a
Recognition of sober worth in the Day of Love and Ambition. And
Mistress Twining, after the manner of her kind, pays but little Heed to
lasting Affection before the Time comes when it shall be of Use to Her."

The wedding day approaches. Mary Twining does not lose her independence,
though, woman like, she seems to enjoy losing herself in the love
lavished upon her. Here and there are passages which show that in the
warmth of her romance she thinks and judges and acts for herself, as she
did in her school days. Mary Twining will never merge her individuality
in that of another, however dear to her.

The entries grow briefer and more infrequent, as the month fixed upon
for the marriage draws near. It is to be in June,--two years from that
June when she rode down by coach, in the care of her father's friend.

"The day is fixed for the twenty-seventh of June," is the last entry but
two in her journal. "Two years ago, Fate gave my Life into his Hands.
At least, in giving it to him a second Time, Fate and I are at one."

The next entry is a month later. It is simply the statement,--

"May 24th. I have done my Cousin Eustace wrong." Then on--

"July 27th. And I am but twenty-one!"

And June comes and goes, and there is no word on her bridal day, no
breathings of her new happiness from her ready pen. Is the book closed?
Yes, but her biographer has a word to say.

"On the twenty-seventh of June, Mary A. Twining became the wife of her
Cousin Eustace Fleming. Their Betrothal was but a short one, but in the
eyes of her judicious Parents, there was no unseemly Haste. It had long
been a cherished wish of their Hearts, and Eustace Fleming was a young
man of Promise and of rare Discretion."

There it ends. The record of Mary Twining is finished. With Mary
Fleming he has nothing to do. But where is the girl of ripened
understanding, of freedom of thought, of directness of purpose? We do
not know, for our biographer does not tell us. Was there a tragedy, and
were the details too heart-breaking for even the stoical Editor to
maintain his critical attitude?

Where is the gallant cavalier with his picturesque devotion, and his
vain toys of pretty speech and gesture and his fiery and over-weening
love and admiration for Mistress Mary Twining? He seemed to me a brave
and loyal sort of young fellow enough. I cannot tell. Put the quaint old
book back on the shelf, and let her romance rest again. But
notwithstanding her husband of such promise and rare discretion, I
cannot help sighing, "Poor Mary Twining!"

Fate and she had a difference, after all. And she was but twenty-one!



A Postlude


IT was almost time for the train to leave the station, and the seats
were filling rapidly. The Irishwoman, with four children so near of a
size that they seemed to be distinguished only by the variety of eatable
each one was consuming, had entered the car and deposited her large
newspaper bundle just inside the door, and driven her flock all into the
little end seat, where they were stowed uncomfortably, one on top of
another, gazing stolidly about the car. The young girl from the country
who had been spending Sunday in town, and who was, consequently,
somewhat overdressed for Monday morning, was wandering elegantly up and
down the aisle, losing each possible place for a prospective better one,
which became impossible before she reached it. The woman with a bag too
large for her to carry, rested it on the arm of an occupied seat while
she gazed vaguely about, indifferent to the fact that a crowd of
impatient travellers of more concrete intentions were being delayed by
her indecision. Meanwhile, among these disturbers of travel the man with
a large bag passed rapidly along, found a place, put the bag in the
rack, seated himself, and took out his newspaper. There is something in
a man's management of a large travelling-bag in a railway train that
leads the most unwilling to grudgingly yield him a certain superiority
of sex.

An exchange of good-bys, low-voiced but with a decided note of hilarity,
took place at the door, and two women entered the car, one looking back
and nodding a final smiling farewell before she gave her mind to the
matter in hand. They were attractive women, of late middle age, perhaps,
not yet to be called old. One was large, with fine curves, gray bands of
hair under her autumnal bonnet, and a dignity of bearing which suited
her ample figure and melodious, rather deep voice; the other was paler,
more fragile, her light hair only streaked with gray, and her blue eyes
still shaded with a half-wistful uncertainty of what might be before
her, which the years had not been able to turn altogether into
self-confidence.

"You go on, Lucy," said the former, in her full, decided tones, pausing
at the first vacant seat, "and see if there's a place for us to sit
together farther down. I'll hold this for one of us. You take up less
room than I do, you know, and it's easier for you to slip about;" and
she laughed a little. There was a suggestion of laughter in the eyes and
around the mouth of each of them. It indicated a subdued exhilaration
unusual in the setting forth of women of their years and dignity. Lucy
hesitated a moment, and then moved on somewhat timidly; but she had
taken only a step when the man near whom they stood rose, and, lifting
his hat, said: "Allow me, madam, to give you this seat for yourself and
your friend. I can easily find another."

"Thank you; you are very good," replied the larger of the two women, her
kindly gray eyes meeting his with an expression that led him to pause
and put their umbrellas in the rack and depart, wondering what it was
about some women that made a man always glad to do anything for
them,--and it didn't make any difference how old they were, either.

"How nice people are!" said the one who had already spoken as they
settled themselves. "That man, now--there wasn't any need of his doing
that."

"He seemed to really want to," rejoined Lucy. "People always like to do
things for you, Mary Leonard, I believe," she added, looking at her
companion with affectionate admiration.

"I like to hear you talk," returned Mary Leonard, laughing. "If there
ever was anybody that just went through the world having people do
things for 'em, it's you, Lucy Eastman, and you know it."

"Oh, but I know so few people," said the other, hastily. "I'm not
ungrateful--I'm sure I've no call to be; but I know so few people, and
they've known me all my life; it's not like strangers."

"That hasn't anything to do with it," affirmed Mary Leonard, stoutly;
"if there were more, it would be the same way. But I will say," she went
on, "that I never could see why a woman travelling alone should ever
have any trouble--officials and everybody are so polite about telling
you the same thing over. I don't know why it is, but I always seem to
expect the next one I ask to tell me something different about a train;
and then everybody you meet seems just as pleasant as can be."

"Yes," assented Lucy Eastman, "like that baggageman. Did you notice how
polite the baggageman was?"

"Notice it! Why, of course I did. And our trunks _were_ late, and it
was my fault, and so I told him, and he just hurried to pull them around
and check them, and I was so confused, you know, that I made him check
the wrong ones twice."

"Well, they were just like ours," said Lucy Eastman, sympathetically.

"Well, they were, weren't they? But of course I ought to have known. And
he never swore at all. I was dreadfully afraid he'd swear, Lucy."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Lucy Eastman, distressed, "what would you have
done if he'd sworn?"

"I'm sure I don't know," asserted Mary Leonard, with conviction, "but
fortunately he didn't."

"He got very warm," said Lucy, reminiscently. "I saw him wiping his brow
as we came away."

"I don't blame him the least in the world. I think he was a wonderfully
nice baggageman, for men of that class are so apt to swear when they get
very warm,--at least, so I've heard. And did you hear--"

"Tickets, ma'am," observed the conductor.

"There, I didn't mean to keep you waiting a minute;" and Mary Leonard
opened her pocketbook, "but I forgot all about the tickets. Oh, Lucy, I
gave you the tickets, and I took the checks."

"Yes, to be sure," said Lucy, opening her pocketbook.

"I'll put them in the seat for you, ladies, like this," said the
conductor, smiling, "and then you won't have any more trouble."

"Oh, yes, thank you," said Lucy Eastman.

"What a nice conductor!" observed Mary Leonard.

"Did I hear what, Mary?--you were telling me something."

"Oh, about the baggageman. I heard him say to his assistant, 'Don't you
ever git mad with women, Bobby. It ain't no use. If it was always the
same woman and the same trunk, perhaps you could learn her sometime; but
it ain't, and you've got to take 'em just as they come, and get rid of
'em the best way you can--they don't bear instruction.'"

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman threw back their heads and laughed; it was
genuine, low, fresh laughter, and a good thing to hear. After that there
was silence for a few moments as the train sped on its way.

"I declare," said Mary Leonard, at last, "I don't know when I've been in
the cars before."

"I was just thinking I haven't been in the cars since Sister Eliza died,
and we all went to the funeral," said Lucy Eastman.

"Why, that's--let me see--eight years ago, isn't it?"

"Eight and a half."

"Well, I'm glad you'll have a pleasanter trip to look back on after
this."

"So am I; and I am enjoying this--every minute of it. Only there's so
much to see. Just look at the people looking out of the windows of that
manufactory! Shouldn't you think they'd roast?"

"Yes, they must be hotter than a fritter such a day as this."

"How long is it since you've been to Englefield, Mary?" asked Lucy
Eastman, after another pause.

"Why, that's what I meant to tell you. Do you know, after I saw you, and
we decided to go there for our holiday, I began to think it over, and I
haven't been there since we went together the last time."

"Why, Mary Leonard! I had an idea you'd been there time and again,
though you said you hadn't seen the old place for a long time."

"Well, I was surprised myself when I realized it. But the next year my
cousins all moved away, and I've thought of it over and over, but I
haven't _been_. I dare say if we'd lived in the same town we'd have
gone together before this, but we haven't, and there it is."

"That's thirty-five years ago, Mary," said Lucy Eastman, thoughtfully.

"Thirty-five years! I declare, it still makes me jump to hear about
thirty-five years--just as if I hadn't known all about 'em!" and Mary
Leonard laughed her comfortable laugh again. "You don't say it's
thirty-five years, Lucy! I guess you're right, though."

There was a moment's pause, and the laugh died away into a little sigh.

"We didn't think then--we didn't really _think_--we'd ever be talking
about what happened thirty-five years ago, did we, Lucy? We didn't think
we'd have interest enough to care."

"No," said Lucy, soberly, "we didn't."

"And I care just as much as I ever did about things," went on the other,
thoughtfully, "only there seem more doors for satisfaction to come in at
nowadays. It isn't quite the same sort of satisfaction, perhaps, that
it used to be, not so pressed down and running over, but there's more of
it, after all, and it doesn't slip out so easily."

"No, the bottom of things doesn't fall out at once, as it used to, and
leave nothing in our empty hands."

"That sounds almost sad. Don't you be melancholy, Lucy Eastman."

"I'm not, Mary--I'm not a bit. I'm only remembering that I used to be."

"We used to go to the well with a sieve instead of a pitcher; that's
really the difference," said Mary Leonard. "We've learned not to be
wasteful, that's all."

"What fun we used to have," said Lucy, her eyes shining, "visiting your
cousins!"

"It _was_ fun!" said the other. "Do you remember the husking party at
the Kendals' barn?"

"Of course I do, and the red ears that that Chickering girl was always
finding! I think she picked them out on purpose, so that Tom Endover
would kiss her. It was just like those Chickerings!" There was a gentle
venom in Lucy Eastman's tones that made Mary Leonard laugh till the
tears came into her eyes.

"Minnie Chickering wasn't the only girl that Tom Endover kissed, if I
remember right," she said, with covert intention.

"Well, he put the red ear into my hands himself, and I just husked it
without thinking anything about it," retorted Lucy Eastman, with spirit.

"Of course you did, of course you did," asseverated Mary Leonard,
whereupon the other laughed too, but with reservation.

"And do you remember old Miss Pinsett's, where we used to go to act
charades?"

"Yes, indeed, in the old white house at the foot of the hill, with a
cupola. She seemed so old; I wonder how old she was?"

"Perhaps we shouldn't think her so old to-day. People used to wear caps
earlier then than they do now. I think when they were disappointed in
love they put on caps! Miss Pinsett had been disappointed in love, so
they said."

"They will have old maids disappointed in love," said Lucy, with some
asperity. "They will have me--some people--and I never was."

"I know you weren't. But I don't think it's as usual as it was to say
that about old maids. It's more the fashion now to be disappointed in
marriage."

There had been several stops at the stations along the road. The day was
wearing on. Suddenly Lucy Eastman turned to her companion.

"Mary," she said, "let's play we were girls again, and going to
Englefield just as we used to go--thirty-five years ago. Let's pretend
that we're going to do the same things and see the same people and have
the same fun. We're off by ourselves, just you and I, and why shouldn't
we? We're the same girls, after all," and she smiled apologetically.

"Of course we are. We'll do it," said Mary Leonard, decidedly; "let's
pretend."

But, having made the agreement, it was not so easy to begin. The stream
of reminiscence had been checked, and a chasm of thirty-five years is
not instantly bridged, even in thought.

"I hope they won't meet us at the station," said Mary Leonard, after a
while, in a matter-of-fact voice. "We know the way so well there is no
need of it."

"I hope not. I feel just like walking up myself," answered Lucy. "We can
send our trunks by the man that comes from the hotel, just as usual, and
it'll be cool walking toward evening."

"I'm glad we put off coming till the fall. The country's beautiful, and
there isn't so much dust in case we"--she hesitated a moment--"in case
we go on a picnic."

"Yes," replied Lucy, readily; "to the old fort. I hope we'll have a
picnic to the old fort. I guess all the girls will like to go. It's just
the time to take that drive over the hill."

"If we go," said Mary Leonard, slowly and impressively, "you'll have to
drive with Samuel Hatt."

"Oh, I went with him last time," broke in Lucy, apprehensively. "It's
your turn."

"But you know I just won't," said Mary Leonard, her eyes sparkling, and
the dimples that, like Miss Jessie Brown, she had not left off,
appearing and disappearing. "And somebody _has_ to go with him."

"Perhaps they won't ask him."

"Oh, but they will. They always do, on account of his horses. It
wouldn't be a picnic without Samuel Hatt."

Just then the train drew up at a small station. Lucy Eastman started as
she read the name of the place as it passed before her eyes.

"Mary," said she, "this is where Mr. Hatt always used to get on the
train. There are the Hatt Mills, and he goes up and down every
day,--don't you remember? And how we were--we are--always afraid we'll
meet him on the train."

"Of course," said Mary Leonard, leaning forward and scanning the
platform with its row of idlers and its few travellers. "Well, he isn't
here now. We are going to escape him this time. But my heart was in my
mouth! I don't want Samuel Hatt to be the first Englefield person we
meet."

They looked up with careless curiosity at the people who entered the
train. There was a little girl with a bunch of common garden flowers
following close behind a tired-looking woman, who had been, obviously,
"spending the day;" a florid old gentleman with gold spectacles, who
revealed a bald head as he removed his hat and used it for a fan,--they
had seen him hurrying to the platform just before the train moved out;
a commercial traveller, and a schoolboy.

"No," said Mary Leonard, "he isn't here this time."

The florid old gentleman took a seat in front of them and continued to
fan himself. The conductor came through the car.

"Warm spell we're having for October, Mr. Hatt," he said, as he punched
the commutation-ticket that was offered him.

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman gazed spellbound at the back of Mr. Hatt's
bald head. They were too amazed to look away from it at each other.

"It--it must be his father," gasped Lucy Eastman. "He looks--a
little--like him."

"Then it's his father come back!" returned Mary in an impatient whisper.
"His father died before we ever went to Englefield; and, don't you
remember, he was always fanning himself?"

Their fascinated gaze left the shiny pink surface of Samuel Hatt's head,
and their eyes met.

"I hope he won't see us," giggled Lucy.

"I hope not. Let's look the other way."

In a few minutes Mr. Hatt rose slowly and portentously, and, turning,
made a solemn but wavering way down the car to greet a man who sat just
across the aisle from Mary Leonard. Both the women avoided his eyes,
blushing a little and with the fear of untimely mirth about their lips.

As he talked with their neighbor, however, they ventured to look at him,
and as he turned to go back his slow, deliberate glance fell upon them,
rested a moment, and, without a flicker of recognition, passed on, and
he resumed his place.

There was almost a shadow in the eyes that met again, as the women
turned towards one another.

"I--I know it's funny," said Lucy, a little tremulously, "but I don't
quite like it that we look to him just as he does to us."

"We have hair on our heads," said Mary Leonard. "But," she added, less
aggressively, "we needn't have worried about his speaking to us."

"Englefield," shouted the brakeman, and the train rumbled into a covered
station. Mary Leonard started to her feet, and then paused and looked
down at her companion. This Englefield! This the quiet little place
where the man from the hotel consented to look after their trunks while
their cousins drove them up in the wagon--this noisy station with two or
three hotel stages and shouting drivers of public carriages!

"Lucy," said she, sitting down again in momentary despair, "we've gone
back thirty-five years, but we forgot to take Englefield with us!"

It did not take long, however, to adapt themselves to the new
conditions. They arranged to stay at the inn that was farthest from the
centre of things, and the drive out restored some of the former look of
the place. It was near sunset; the road looked pink before them as they
left the city. The boys had set fire to little piles of early fallen
leaves along the sides of the streets, and a faint, pungent smoke hung
about and melted into the twilight, and the flame leaped forth vividly
now and then from the dusky heaps. As they left the paved city for the
old inn which modern travel and enterprise had left on the outskirts,
the sky showed lavender through a mistiness that was hardly palpable
enough for haze. The browns and reds of the patches of woods in the near
distance seemed the paler, steadier reproduction of the flames behind
them. Low on the horizon the clouds lay in purple waves, deepening and
darkening into brown.

"Mary," said Lucy Eastman, in a low tone, laying her hand on her
companion's arm, "it's just the way it looked when we came the first
time of all; do you remember?"

"Remember? It's as if it were yesterday! Oh, Lucy, I don't know about a
new heaven, but I'm glad, I'm glad it isn't a 'new earth' quite yet!"
There was a mistiness in the eyes of the women that none of the changes
they had marked had brought there. They were moved by the sudden sweet
recognition that seemed sadder than any change.

The next morning they left the house early, that they might have long
hours in which to hunt up old haunts and renew former associations.
Again the familiar look of things departed as they wandered about the
wider, gayer streets. The house in which Mary Leonard's cousins had
lived had been long in other hands, and the occupants had cut down the
finest of the old trees to make room for an addition, and a woman whose
face seemed provokingly foreign to the scene came out with the air of a
proprietor and entered her carriage as they passed.

At another place which they used to visit on summer afternoons, and
which had been approached by a little lane, making it seem isolated and
distant, the beautiful turf had been removed to prepare a bald and
barren tennis court, and they reached it by an electric car. Even the
little candy-shop had become a hardware store.

"Of course, when one thinks of the Gibraltars and Jackson balls, it does
not seem such a revolution," said Mary Leonard; but she spoke forlornly,
and did not care much for her own joke. It looked almost as if their
holiday was to be turned into a day of mourning; there was depression in
the air of the busy, bustling active streets, through which the
gray-haired women wandered, handsome, alert, attentive, but haunted by
the sense of familiarity that made things unfamiliar and the knowledge
of every turn and direction that yet was not knowledge, but ignorance.

"Look here, Lucy Eastman," said Mary Leonard at last, stopping
decisively in front of what used to be the Baptist Church, but which
was now a business block and a drug-store where you could get peach
phosphate, "we can't stand this any longer. Let's get into a carriage
right away and go to the old fort; that can't have changed much; it used
to be dismantled, and I don't believe they've had time, with all they've
done here, to--to mantle it again."

They moved towards a cab-stand--of course it was an added grievance that
there was a cab-stand--but the wisdom of the prudent is to understand
his way.

"Mary," said Lucy Eastman, detaining her, "wait a minute. Do you think
we might--it's a lovely day--and--there's a grocer right there--and
dinner is late at the hotel"--She checked her incoherence and looked
wistfully at Mary Leonard.

"Lucy, I think we might do anything, if you don't lose your mind first.
What is it, for pity's sake, that you want to do?"

"Take our luncheon; we always used to, you know. And we can have a hot
dinner at the hotel when we come back."

Without replying, Mary Leonard led the way to the grocer's, and they
bought lavish supplies there and at the bakery opposite. Then they
called the cab.

"Do you remember, Lucy, we used to have to think twice about calling a
cab, when we used to travel together, on account of the expense," said
Mary Leonard, as they waited for it to draw up at the curbstone.

"Yes," answered Lucy; "we don't have to now." And then they both sighed
a little.

But their smiles returned as they drove into the enclosure of the old
fort. There they lay in the peaceful sun--the gray stones, the few
cannon-balls, sunk in the caressing grass, with here and there a rusty
gun, like a once grim, sharp-tongued, cruel man who has fallen somehow
into an amiable senility.

"I read an article in one of the magazines about our coast defences,"
said Lucy Eastman, breathlessly; "how they ought to be strengthened and
repaired and all, and I was quite excited about it and wanted to give a
little money towards it, but I wouldn't for anything now, enemy or no
enemy."

"Nor I, either," said Mary Leonard, after she had dismissed the driver
with orders to call for them later in the day. They walked on over the
crisp dry grass, and seated themselves on a bit of the fallen masonry.
The reaches of the placid river lay before them, and the hum of the
alert cricket was in their ears. Now and then a bird flew
surreptitiously from one bush to another, with the stealthy, swift
motion of flight in autumn, so different from the heedless, fluttering,
hither-and-yon vagaries of the spring and early summer. The time for
frivolity is over; the flashes of wings have a purpose now; the
possibility of cold is in the air, and what is to be done must be done
quickly.

"We almost always used to come in summer," said Lucy Eastman, "but I
think it's every bit as pretty in the fall."

"So do I," assented Mary Leonard, as she looked down into a hollow where
the purple asters grew so thick that in the half-dusk of the shadow they
looked like magnified snowflakes powdered thickly on the sward. "And it
hasn't changed an atom," she went on, as her eyes roamed over the
unevenness of this combination of man's and nature's handiwork. "It's
just as quiet and disorderly and upset and peaceful as it was then."

"Yes, look up there;" and Lucy Eastman pointed to the higher ramparts,
on the edge of which the long grass wavered in the wind with the
glancing uncertainty of a conflagration. "The last time I was here I
remember saying that that looked like a fire."

After they had eaten their luncheon, which brought with it echoes of
the laughter which had accompanied the picnic supper eaten in that very
corner years ago, they seated themselves in a sheltered spot to wait. It
really seemed as if the old gray walls retained some of the spirit of
those earlier days, so gentle, so mirth-inspiring was the sunshine that
warmed them.

"I'm so glad we came," said Mary,--they had both said it before,--as the
sunny peace penetrated their very souls.

Four o'clock brought the cab, and they drove down the long hills,
looking back often for a final glimpse of the waving grass and the gray
stones. As they turned a sharp corner and lost sight of the old fort,
Mary Leonard glanced furtively at her companion. Her own eyes for the
second time that day were not quite clear, and she was not sorry to
detect an added wistfulness in Lucy Eastman's gaze.

"Lucy," said she, and her voice shook a little, "I'm tired."

"So am I," murmured Lucy.

"And I don't ever remember to have been tired after a picnic at the old
fort before."

"No more do I," said Lucy; and it was a moment before their sadness, as
usual, trembled into laughter.

"Lucy Eastman," said Mary Leonard, suddenly, "this is the street that
old Miss Pinsett used to live on--lives on, I mean. What do you say?
Shall we stop and see Miss Pinsett?" The dimples had come back again,
and her eyes danced.

Lucy caught her breath.

"Oh, Mary, if only she--" her sentence was left unfinished.

"I'll find out," said Mary Leonard, and put her head out of the window.
"Driver," she called out, "stop at Miss Pinsett's."

The driver nodded and drove on, and she sank back pleased with her own
temerity.

The cab stopped in front of the same square white house, with the
cupola, and the same great trees in the front yard. Mary Leonard and
Lucy Eastman clasped each other's hands in silent delight as they walked
up the box-bordered path.

"Tell Miss Pinsett that Lucy Eastman and--and Mary Greenleaf have come
to see her," they said to the elderly respectable maid. Then they went
into the dim shaded parlor and waited. There were the old piano and the
Japanese vases, and the picture of Washington which they had always
laughed at because he looked as if he were on stilts and could step
right across the Delaware, and they could hear their hearts beat, for
there was a rustle outside the door--old Miss Pinsett's gowns always
rustled--and it opened.

"Why, _girls_!" exclaimed old Miss Pinsett as she glided into the room.

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman declared, then and afterward, that she
wasn't a day older than when they said good-by to her thirty-five years
ago. She wore the same gray curls and the same kind of cap. Also, they
both declared that this was the climax, and that they should have wept
aloud if it had not been so evident that to Miss Pinsett there was
nothing in the meeting but happiness and good fortune, so they did not.

"Why, girls," said old Miss Pinsett again, clasping both their hands,
"how glad I am to see you, and how well you are both looking!"

Then she insisted on their laying off their things, and they laid them
off because they always had when she asked them.

"You've grown stout, Mary Greenleaf," said old Miss Pinsett.

"I know I have," she answered, "and I'm not Mary Greenleaf, though I
sent that name up to you--I'm Mary Leonard."

"I wondered if neither of you were married."

"I'm a widow, Miss Pinsett," said Mary Leonard, soberly. "My husband
only lived three years."

"Poor girl, poor girl!" said Miss Pinsett, patting her hand, and then
she looked at the other.

"I'm Lucy Eastman still," she said; "just the same Lucy Eastman."

"And a very good thing to be, too," said Miss Pinsett, nodding her
delicate old head kindly. "But," and she scanned her face, "but, now
that I look at you, not quite the same Lucy Eastman--not quite the
same."

"Older and plainer," she sighed.

"Of all the nonsense!" exclaimed old Miss Pinsett. "You're not quite so
shy, that's all, my dear."

"I'm shy now," asserted Lucy.

"Very likely, but not quite so shy as you were, for all that. Don't tell
me! I've a quick eye for changes, and so I can see changes in you two
when it may be another wouldn't."

Before the excitement of her welcome had been subdued into mere
gladness, there was a discreet tap at the door, and the respectable
maid came in with a tray of sherry-glasses and cake. Mary Leonard and
Lucy Eastman looked at each other brimming over with smiles. It was the
same kind of cake, and might have been cut off the same loaf.

"Never any cake like yours," said Mary Leonard.

"I remember you like my cake," said old Miss Pinsett, smiling; "take a
bigger piece, child."

They wanted to know many things about the people and the town, all of
which Miss Pinsett could tell them.

The shadows grew longer, the room dimmer, and Miss Pinsett had the maid
throw open the blinds to let in the western sunlight. A shaft of
illumination fell across one of the Japanese vases, and a dragon
blinked, and the smooth round head of a mandarin gleamed. There was an
old-fashioned trumpet-creeper outside the window.

"But we must go," exclaimed Mary Leonard at last, rising and taking up
her bonnet. "Oh, no, thank you, we must not stay. Miss Pinsett; we are
going to-morrow, and we are tired with all the pleasure of to-day, and
we have so much--so much to talk over. We shall talk all night, as we
used to, I am afraid."

"But before you go, girls," said Miss Pinsett, laying a fragile, white
slender hand on each, "you must sing for me some of the songs you used
to sing--you know some very pretty duets."

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman paused, amazed, and looked into each
other's faces in dismay. Sing?--had they ever sung duets? They had not
sung a note for years, except in church.

"But I don't know any songs, Miss Pinsett," stammered Mary Leonard.

"I have forgotten all I ever knew," echoed Lucy Eastman.

"No excuses, now--no excuses! You were always great for excuses, but
you would always sing for me. I want 'County Guy,' to begin with."

By a common impulse the visitors moved slowly towards the piano; they
would try, at least, since Miss Pinsett wanted them to. Lucy seated
herself and struck a few uncertain chords. Possibly the once familiar
room, Mary Leonard at her side, Miss Pinsett listening in her own
high-backed chair, the scent of the mignonette in the blue
bowl--possibly one or all of these things brought back the old tune.

          "Ah, County Guy,
           The hour is nigh,
           The sun has left the lea."

The sweet, slender voice floated through the room, and Mary Leonard's
deeper contralto joined and strengthened it.

"Now, I will have 'Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,'" said Miss Pinsett, quite
as if it were a matter of course. And they sang "Flow Gently, Sweet
Afton." It was during the last verse that the parlor door opened
softly, and a tall, fine-looking man, erect, with beautiful silver
curling hair, and firm lines about the handsome, clean-shaven mouth,
appeared on the threshold and stood waiting. As the singing finished,
Miss Pinsett shook her head at him.

"You were always coming in and breaking up the singing, Tom Endover,"
she said.

The two women left the piano and came forward.

"You used to know Mary Greenleaf,--she's Mrs. Leonard now,--and Lucy
Eastman, Tom," she went on.

Apparently Mr. Endover was not heeding the introduction, but was coming
towards them with instant recognition and outstretched hand. They often
discussed afterward if he would have known them without Miss Pinsett.
Mary Leonard thought he would, but Lucy Eastman did not always agree
with her.

"You don't have to tell me who they are," he said, grasping their hands
cordially. "Telling Tom Endover who Mary Greenleaf and Lucy Eastman are,
indeed!" There was a mingling of courteous deference and frank, not to
be repressed, good comradeship in his manner which was delightful. Mary
Leonard's dimples came and went, and delicate waves of color flowed and
ebbed in Lucy Eastman's soft cheeks.

"I'm too old always to remember that there's no telling a United States
senator anything," retorted Miss Pinsett, with a keen glance from her
dimmed but penetrating eyes.

"As to that, I don't believe I'd ever have been a United States senator
if it wasn't for what you've told me, Miss Pinsett," laughed Endover.
"I'm always coming here to be taken down, Mary," he went on; "she does
it just as she used to."

Mary Leonard caught her breath a little at the sound of her Christian
name, but "I didn't know there was any taking you down, Tom Endover,"
she retorted before she thought; and they all laughed.

They found many things to say in the few minutes longer that they
stayed, before Mr. Endover took them out and put them in their cab. He
insisted upon coming the next morning to take them to the station in his
own carriage, and regretted very much that his wife was out of town, so
that she could not have the pleasure of meeting his old friends.

"He's just the same, isn't he?" exclaimed Mary Leonard, delightedly, as
they drove away.

"Yes," assented Lucy Eastman, slowly; "I think he is; and yet he's
different."

"Oh, yes, he's different," replied Mary Leonard, readily. Both were
quite unconscious of any discrepancy in their statements as they
silently thought over the impression he had made. He was the same
handsome, confident Tom Endover, but there was something gone,--and was
there not something in its place? Had that gay courtesy, that debonair
good fellowship, changed into something more finished, but harder and
more conscious? Was there a suggestion that his old careless charm had
become a calculated and a clearly appreciated facility? Lucy Eastman did
not formulate the question, and it did not even vaguely present itself
to Mary Leonard, so it troubled the pleasure of neither.

"What a day we have had!" they sighed in concert as they drove up again
to the entrance of the inn.

"Lucy," called Mary Leonard, a little later, from one of their
connecting rooms to the other, "I'm going to put on my best black net,
because Tom Endover may call to-night." Then she paused to catch Lucy
Eastman's prompt reply.

"And I shall put on my lavender lawn, but it'll be just our luck to have
it Samuel Hatt."

The next morning Mr. Endover called for them, and they were driven to
the station in his brougham.

He put them on the train, and bought the magazines for them, and waved
his hand to the car window.

"You know, Lucy," said Mary Leonard, as the train pulled out, "Tom
Endover always used to come to see us off."

"Of course he did," said Lucy.

"Do you know, I'm rather glad his wife was out of town," went on Mary
Leonard, after a pause. "I should like to have seen her well enough, but
you know she wasn't an Englefield girl."

"What can she know about old Englefield!" said Lucy, with mild contempt.
"I'm very glad she was out of town."

As they left the city behind them, the early morning sun shone forth
with vivid brilliancy. Against the western sky the buildings stood out
with a peculiar distinctness, as if the yellow light shining upon them
was an illumination inherent in themselves, singling them out of the
landscape, and leaving untouched the cold gray behind them. The lines of
brick and stone had the clearness and precision of a photograph, and yet
were idealized, so that in the yellow, mellow, transparent light a tall,
smoke-begrimed chimney of a distant furnace looked airy and delicate as
an Italian tower.



The "Daily Morning Chronicle"


THE village lay still and silent under the observant sun. The village
street stretched in one direction down the hill to the two-miles-off
railway station, and in the other to the large white house with pillared
portico, from which there was a fine view of the sunset, and beyond
which it still continued, purposeful but lonely, until it came suddenly
upon half a dozen houses which turned out to be another village.

Not a man, woman, or child crossed from one house to another; not a dog
or a cat wandered about in the sunshine. The white houses looked as if
no one lived in them; the white church, with its sloping approach,
looked as if no one ever preached in it and no one ever came to it to
listen. It seemed to Lucyet Stevens, as she sat at the little window of
the post-office, behind which her official face looked so much more
important than it ever did anywhere else, as if the village street
itself were listening for the arrival of the noon mail. For it was
nearly time for the daily period of almost feverish activity. By and by
from the station would come Truman Hanks with the leather bag which, in
village and city alike, is the outward and visible sign of the fidelity
of the government. It is probable that he will bring it up in a single
carriage, for though sometimes he takes the two-seated one, in case
there should be a human arrival who would like to be driven up, this
possibility was so slight a one at this time of year that it was hardly
worth considering. Then the village will awake; the two little girls who
live down below the saw-mill will come up together, confiding on the way
a secret or two, for which the past twenty-four hours would seem to
have afforded slender material. Then old John Thomas will come limping
across from his small house back of the church, to see if there is a
letter for "her,"--she being his wife, and in occasional communication
with their daughter in the city. Then the good-looking, roughly clad
young farmer who takes care of the fine place with the pillared portico
on the hill will saunter down to see if "the folks have sent any word
about coming up for the summer." Then Miss Granger, who lives almost
next door, will throw a shawl over her head and run in to see who has
letters and, incidentally, if she has any herself; and then one or two
wagons will draw up in front of the little store, and the men will come
in for their daily papers.

As Lucyet came around to the daily papers she flushed and looked
impatiently out of the door down the street. Not that the thought of the
daily paper had not been all the time in the background of her mind,
but having allowed her fancy to wander towards the attitude of the
village and its prospective disturbance, she returned to the imminence
of the daily paper again with a thrill of emotion. It was not one of the
metropolitan journals which, as a body, the village subscribed for, nor
was it one of the more widely known of those issued in smaller cities;
it was an unpretentious sheet, neither very ably edited nor extensively
circulated,--the chief spokesman of the nearest county town. But with
all its limitations, its readers represented to Lucyet the great harsh,
unknowing, and yet irresistibly attractive public.

It was not the first time that she had thus watched for it with mute
excitement. Such episodes, though infrequent, had marked her otherwise
uneventful existence at irregular intervals for more than a year. It
would be more correct to say that they had altered its entire course;
that such episodes had given to her life a double character,--one side
of calmness, secrecy, indifference, and the other of delight,
absorption, thrilled with a breathless excitement and uncertainty. But
this time there was a greater than ordinary interest. The verses that
she had sent last were more ambitious in conception; they had
description in them, and mental analysis, and several other things which
very likely she would not have called by their right names, though she
felt their presence: her other contributions had belonged rather to the
poetry of comment. She was sure, almost sure, that they had accepted
these.

Unsophisticated Lucyet never dreamed of enclosing postage for return, so
she could only breathlessly search the printed page to discover whether
her lines were there or in the waste-basket. Friday's edition of the
"Daily Morning Chronicle" was more or less given over to the feeble
claims of general literature. To-day was Friday. Lucyet glanced through
her little window--the tastefully disposed corner of which was
dedicated to the postal service--at the tin of animal crackers, the jar
of prunes, the suspended bacon, and the box of Spanish licorice, and
pondered, half contemptuously, half pitifully, on what had been her life
before she had written poems and sent them to the "Daily Morning
Chronicle." Then her outlook had seemed scarcely wider than that of the
animal crackers with their counterfeit vitality; now it seemed extended
to the horizon of all humanity.

There was the sound of horses' feet coming over the hill. Was it the
mail wagon? No, it was a heavier vehicle; and the voice of the farmer,
slow and lumbering as the animals it encouraged, sounded down the
village street. Over the crest of the hill appeared the summit of a load
of hay going to the scales in front of the tavern to be weighed. So
silent were the place and the hour, that it was like a commotion when
the cart drew up, and the horses were unhitched and weighed, and then
the load driven on, and the owner and the hotel-keeper exchanged
observations of a genial nature. Finally the horses and the wagon
creaked along the hot street down the road which led by the pillared
white house, and again the village was at peace. Lucyet glanced at the
clock. Was the mail going to be late this morning? No. The creaking of
the hay wagon had but just lost itself in the silence, when her quick
ear caught the rattle of the lighter carriage. Her first impulse was to
step to the door and wait for it there, but she did not yield to it; she
would do just as usual, neither more nor less. She would not for worlds
have Truman Hanks suspect any special interest on her part. He might try
to find out its cause; and a hot blush enveloped Lucyet as she
contemplated the possibility of his assigning it to the true one. Only
one person in all the village knew that Lucyet Stevens wrote poetry.

"Most time for the mail to be gittin' heavy," said Truman, as he handed
over the limp receptacle; "the summer boarders'll be along now, before
long."

"Yes, I s'pose they will," answered Lucyet, her fingers trembling as
they unlocked the bag.

"It's a backward season, though," he went on, watching her.

"Yes, it is uncommon backward; the apple blossoms aren't but just
beginning to come out."

It seemed to her that there was suspicion in his observation. He leaned
lazily over the counter, while she took out the mail within the little
office with its front of letter-boxes.

"This hot spell'll bring 'em out. It's the first _hot_ spell we've
had."

"Yes," she assented, blushing again, "it will."

She had spoken of the tardy apple blossoms in her poem,--it was entitled
"Spring." Two or three people, having seen the mail go by, dropped in
and disposed themselves in various attitudes to wait for it to be
distributed. She hurried through the work, her fingers tingling to open
each copy of the newspaper as she laid it in its place. At last it was
done; the little window which had been shut to produce official
seclusion was reopened; and the people came up, one by one, without much
haste, and received the papers and now and then a letter. It did not
take long; and afterward they stood about and talked and traded a
little, their papers unopened in their hands. It was not likely that the
news from outside was going to affect any one of them very much; they
could wait for it; and reading matter was for careful attention at home,
not for skimming over in public places.

Lucyet found their indifference phenomenal; they did not know what might
be waiting for them in the first column of the third page. Was it
waiting for them? The suspense was almost overwhelming; and yet she did
not like to open the copy which lay at her disposal until the store was
empty; she had a nervous feeling that they would all know what she was
looking for. Slowly the group melted away, till there was no one left
except the proprietor, who had gone into the back room to look after
some seed corn, and Silas, the young farmer, who had thrown himself down
into a chair to read his paper at his leisure, and was not noticing
Lucyet. Eagerly she opened the printed sheet. She caught her breath in
the joy of assurance. There it was--"Spring." It stood out as if it were
printed all in capitals. After a furtive look out at the quiet street,
where, in a rusty wagon, an old man was just picking up his reins and
preparing to jog away from the post-office door, and a side glance at
Silas's broad back over by the farther window, Lucyet read over her own
lines. How different they looked from the copy in her own distinct,
formal little handwriting! They had gained something,--but they had
lost something too. They seemed unabashed, almost declamatory, in their
sentiment. They had acquired a new and positive importance; it was as if
the assertions they made had all at once become truths, had ceased to be
tentative. She read them over again. No, they did not tell it all, all
that she meant to say; but they brought back the day, and she was glad
she had written them,--glad with an agitated, inexpressible gladness.
She would like to know what people said of them; for a moment it seemed
to her that she would not mind if they knew that she wrote them.

"Well," said Silas, laying down his paper and standing up, "there isn't
a blamed thing in that paper!"

Lucyet looked up at him startled. Had she heard aright? Then the color
slowly receded from her face and left it pale. Silas was quite
unconscious of having made an unusual statement.

"Well, Lucyet," he went on, "going to the Christian Endeavor to-night?"

"I don't know," she stammered. "No," she added suddenly, "I am not." All
endeavor was a mockery to her stunned soul.

"I dunno as I will either," he observed carelessly as he lounged out.

It was nothing to her whether he went or not, though once it might have
been. She sat still for some minutes after he had gone, looking blankly
at the paper. The page which a few minutes ago had seemed fairly to glow
with interest had become mere columns of print concerning trivial
things; for an instant she saw it with Silas's eyes. John Thomas came
limping for his mail. He had been detained on the way, he explained, and
was late. She handed him his paper through the window, dully,
indifferently. She was suffering a measure of that disappointment which
comes with what we have grown to believe attainment, and is so much more
bitter than that of failure. But the revolt against this unnatural state
of mind came before long. The elasticity of her own enthusiasm
reasserted itself. It could not be that there was nothing in her poem.
She read the lines over again. Two or three were not quite what they
ought to be, somehow; but the rest of them the world would lay hold
of,--that big sympathetic world which knew so much more than Silas
Stevens.

When the hour came to close the office at noon, she locked the drawer
and passed out of the door to the footpath with a sense of triumph under
the habitual shyness of her manner. She still shrank from the publicity
she had achieved, but she was conscious of an undercurrent of desire
that her achievement, since it was real, should be recognized.

When the old postmaster died, leaving Lucyet, his only child, alone in
the world, and interest in official quarters had procured for her the
appointment in her father's place, a home had also been offered her at
Miss Flood's; and it was thither that Lucyet now went for her noonday
meal. Miss Delia Flood was of most kindly disposition and literary
tastes. That these tastes were somewhat prescribed in their
manifestation was no witness against their genuineness. It must be
confessed that Miss Delia's preference was for the sentimental,--though
she would have modestly shrunk from hearing it thus baldly stated,--and,
naturally, for poetry above prose. The modern respect for "strength" in
literature would have impressed her most painfully had she known of it.
The mind turns aside from the contemplation of the effect that a story
or two of Kipling's would have produced upon her could she have grasped
their vocabulary; she would probably have taken to her bed in sheer
fright, as she did in a thunderstorm. Poetry of the heart and emotions,
which never verged, even most distantly, upon what her traditions and
her susceptibilities told her was the indecorous, satisfied her highest
demands, and the less said about nature, except by way of an occasional
willow, or the sad, sweet scent of a jasmine flower, the better. Miss
Delia had fostered Lucyet's love for literature; and it was to Miss
Delia that Lucyet hastened with the great news of the publication of her
poem. It was for this acute pleasure that she had hitherto kept the
knowledge of her attempt from her,--and, too, that her joy might be
full, and that she would not have to suffer the alternating phases of
hope and fear through which Lucyet herself had passed.

As she entered the room where dinner stood on the table and Miss Delia
waited to eat it with her, she suppressed the trembling excitement which
threatened to make itself visible in her manner now that the words were
upon her very lips. They seated themselves at the table. Miss Delia was
small and wiry and grave, and never spilled anything on the tablecloth
when helping.

"Miss Delia," said Lucyet, "I've written a poem."

Her companion looked at her and smiled a shrewd little smile. "I've
guessed as much before now," she said.

"But," said Lucyet, laying down her knife and fork, "it has been
printed."

"Printed, child!" exclaimed Miss Delia, almost dropping hers. At last
the cup of satisfaction was at Lucyet's lips; at least she had not
overestimated the purport of the event to one human being.

"Printed," repeated Lucyet, smiling softly. "Here it is in the paper."

Miss Delia pushed aside her plate, seized the paper, and, opening it,
searched its columns. She had not to look long; there was but one poem.
Lucyet watched with shining eyes. This is what it meant; this was the
realization of her dreams--to see the reader pass over the rest of the
page as trivial, to be arrested with spellbound interest at the word
"Spring," to know that the words that held that absorbed attention were
her words--her own.

As Miss Delia read, gradually her expression changed; from eagerness it
faded into perplexity. Lucyet watched her breathlessly, her hands
clasped, her thin arms and somewhat angular elbows resting on the coarse
tablecloth. From perplexity Miss Delia's look was chilled into what the
observant girl recognized, with a dull pain at her heart, as
disappointment. Lucyet averted her gaze to a dish of ill-shaped boiled
potatoes; there was no need of watching longer the face opposite. Miss
Delia read it all through again, dwelling on certain lines, which she
indicated by her forefinger, with special attention; then she looked up
timidly. She met Lucyet's unsmiling eyes for a moment; then she, too,
looked away, hurriedly, helplessly, to the dish of boiled potatoes.

"I'm sure it is very nice--very nice indeed, Lucyet," she said.

"But you don't like it," said Lucyet.

"Oh, yes, I do," poor Miss Delia hastened to say. "I do like it; the
rhymes are in the right places, and all, and it looks so nice in the
column." Mechanically she pulled her plate back again, and Lucyet did
the same. "I'm proud of you, Lucyet," she went on with a forced little
smile, "that you can write real poetry like that."

"But what if it isn't real poetry?" said Lucyet.

The doubt was wrung from her by the overwhelming bitterness of her
disappointment. A rush of tears was smarting behind her rather
inexpressive eyes; but she held them back. Miss Delia was thoroughly
distressed. She put aside her own serious misgivings.

"But it must be," she argued eagerly, "or they wouldn't have printed
it."

Lucyet shook her head as she forced herself to eat a morsel of bread.
How unconvincing sounded the argument from another's lips! and yet she
knew now that secretly it had carried with it more weight than she had
realized. Miss Delia glanced apprehensively at the folded paper as it
lay on the table. She herself was disappointed, deeply disappointed; she
had expected much, and this,--why, this was, most of it, just what any
one could find out for herself. But she must say something more.
Lucyet's patient silence as she went on with her dinner, never raising
the eyes which had so shone when she first spoke, demanded speech from
her more urgently than louder claims.

"I suppose I thought perhaps there would be more about--about
misfortune, and scattered leaves, and dells,"--poor Miss Delia smiled
deprecatingly, while she felt wildly about for more tangible
reminiscences of her favorite poets, that she might respond to the
unuttered questioning of Lucyet,--"and"--she dropped her eyes--"lovers."

"I don't know anything about dells and lovers," said Lucyet, simply;
"how should I?"

Miss Delia started a little. It had never occurred to her that one must
know about things personally in order to write poetry about them. If it
had, she would never have dreamed of mentioning lovers.

"No, of course not," she said hastily; "but writing about a thing isn't
like knowing about it."

Lucyet was not experienced enough to detect any fallacy in this, and she
dumbly acquiesced.

"You have in all the grass and trees and--and such things as you have
in--very nicely, I'm sure," went on Miss Delia; "only next time"--and
she smiled brightly--"next time you must put in what we don't see every
day--like islands and reefs and such things. I know you could write a
beautiful poem about a reef--a coral reef."

Lucyet tried to smile hopefully in return, but the attempt was a
failure. She had finished her dinner, and she longed to get away; she
was so hurt that she must be alone to see how it was to be borne. She
helped Miss Delia clear the table and wash the dishes, almost in
silence. Two or three times they exchanged words on indifferent
subjects; Miss Delia asked who had had letters, and Lucyet told her, but
it was hard work for both. When it was over, Lucyet paused in the
doorway, putting on her straw hat to go back to the post-office.

Miss Delia stood a moment irresolute, and then stepped to her side.
"Lucyet," she said, her voice trembling, "I don't understand it exactly.
It isn't like the poetry I've been used to. There are things in it that
I don't know what they mean. To be sure, that's so with all poetry that
we do like,"--the tears were in her eyes; it is not an easy thing to
disappoint one's best friend and to be conscious of it,--"but it isn't
like what I thought it was going to be, just about what we see out of
the window. But it's my fault, just as likely as not,"--she laid her
hand on Lucyet's arm,--"that's what I want to say; you mustn't take it
to heart--just 's likely 's not, it's my fault."

Miss Delia did not believe a word of what she was saying, which made it
difficult for her to articulate; but she was making a brave effort in
her sensitive loyalty.

"I know," said Lucyet, gently; "but I guess it isn't your fault;" and
she slipped out to the road on her way to the post-office. Miss Delia
went back, picked up the paper, and, seating herself at the window, she
read "Spring" all through again, word by word; then she laid it aside
again, shaking her head sadly.

Lucyet went quietly behind her little window. Her disappointment
amounted to actual physical pain. She found no comfort, as a wiser
person might have done, in certain of Miss Delia's expressions; she only
realized that her best friend and her most generous critic could find
nothing good in what she had done. Her duty this afternoon was only to
make up the mail for the down train; then her time was her own till the
next mail train came up at half-past five. At two o'clock she closed the
office again and started on a long walk. She longed for the comfort of
the solitary hillsides, where warm patches of sunlight lay at the foot
of ragged stone walls, and there were long stretches of plain and meadow
to be looked over, and rolling hills to comfort the soul. As she climbed
a hill just before the place where a weedy untravelled road turned off
from the highway leading between closely growing underbrush and stone
walls, where now and then a shy bird rustled suddenly and invisibly
among last year's dried leaves, she saw three countrymen standing by the
wayside and talking with as near an approach to earnestness as ever
visits the colloquies of the ordinary unemotional New Englander. One of
them held a copy of the "Daily Chronicle," gesturing with it somewhat
jerkily as he spoke.

For a moment the hope that it is hard to make away with revived in
Lucyet's breast. Were they talking of the poem, she wondered, with a
certain weary interest. She dreaded a fresh disappointment so keenly
that it pained her to speculate much on the chance of it. It was not
impossible that they were saying such meaningless stuff ought never to
have been printed. As the pale girl drew near with the plodding, patient
step which so often proclaims that walking is not a pleasure, but a
necessity, of country life, the men did not lower their voices, which
she heard distinctly as she passed.

"Wal, I tell you, 't was that," said one of them. "He didn't live more'n
a little time after he took it."

"Mebbe he wouldn't have lived anyhow."

"Wal, mebbe he wouldn't. 'T ain't for me to say," responded the first
speaker, evincing a certain piety, which, however, was not to be
construed as at variance with his first statement.

"Wal, 't wa'n't this he took, was it?" demanded the man with the
"Chronicle," waving it wildly.

"Wal, no, 't wa'n't," responded the other, reasonably. The third member
of the party maintained an air of not being in a position to judge, and
regarded Lucyet stolidly as she approached.

"Do, Lucyet?" he observed, unnoticed of the other two.

"I tell you this'll cure him. It'll cure anybody. Just read them
testimonies,"--and he pressed the paper into the other's meagre hand.
"Read that one, 'Rheumatiz of thirty years' standin',--it'll interest
ye."

Lucyet went on up the hill, and turned into the weedy road. She had not
a keen sense of the ridiculous. It did not strike her as funny that they
should have been discussing a patent medicine instead of the verses on
"Spring;" but her shrinking sense of defeat was deepened, and she felt,
with an unconscious resentment, that most people cared very little about
poetry. She wondered, without bitterness, and with a saddened distrust
of her own power, if she could write an advertisement. Once within the
precincts of the tangled road, her disquieted soul rejoiced in the
freedom from observation. She felt as bruised and sore from the
unsympathetic contact of her world as if it had been a larger one; and
with the depression had come a startled sense of the irrevocableness of
what she had done. Those printed words seemed so swift, so tangible.
They would go so far, and afford such opportunity for the grasp of
indifference, of ridicule! If she could only have them again, spoken,
perhaps, but unheard!

Yet here, at least, where the enterprising grass grew in the rugged cart
track, and the branches drooped impertinently before the face of the
wayfarer, no one but herself need know that she was very near to tears.
And as she came out of the shut-in portion of the road to a stretch of
open country, where the warm light lay on the hillsides, and the air was
sweetened by the breath of pines, her depression gave way to a keen
sense of elation. She turned aside and, crossing a bit of elastic, dry
grass, climbed to the top of the stone wall and looked about her. Her
heart throbbed with confidence, doubly grateful for the previous
distrust. Her own lines came back to her; it was this that somehow,
imperfectly, but somehow, she had put into words. It was still spring, a
late New England spring, though the unseasonable warmth of the day made
it seem summer. The landscape bore the coloring of autumn rather than
that of the earlier year. The trees were red and brown and yellow in
their incipient leafage. Now and then, among the sere fields, there was
a streak of vivid green, or a mound of rich brown, freshly turned earth;
but for the most part they were bare. Here and there was the crimson of
a new maple; in the distance were the reds and brown of new, not old,
life. Only the birds sang as they never sing in autumn, a burst of
clear, joyous anticipation--the trill of the meadowlark, the "sweet,
sweet, piercing sweet" of the flashing oriole, the call of the catbird,
and the melody of the white-bosomed thrush. And here and there a
fountain of white bloom showed itself amid the sombreness of the fields,
a pear or cherry tree decked from head to foot in bridal white, like a
bit of fleecy cloud dropped from the floating masses above to the
discouraged earth; along the wayside the white stars of the anemone, the
wasteful profusion of the eyebright, and the sweet blue of the violet;
and in solemn little clusters, the curled up fronds of the ferns,
uttering a protest against longer imprisonment--let wind and sun look
out! they would uncurl to-morrow! All these things set the barely
blossomed branches, the barely clothed hillsides, at defiance. It was
the beginning, not the end, the promise, not the regret--it was life,
not death. Summer was afoot, not winter.

It was worth a longer walk, that half hour on the hillside; for it
restored, in a measure, her sense of enjoyment, and substituted for the
burden of defeat the exultation of expression, however faulty and
however limited. But like other moods, this one was temporary; and as
she retraced her steps and turned into the village street, she felt
again the lassitude which follows the extinction of hope and the
inexorable narrowing of the horizon which she had fancied extended.

It was usual for her at this hour to stop at the tavern for the mail
which might be ready there, and herself take it to the post-office. In
midsummer this mail was quite an important item, but at this time of
year it amounted to little; nevertheless, she followed what had become
the custom. She found one of the daughters of the house in the throes
of composition.

"Oh, Lucyet," she exclaimed, "you don't say that's you! I want this to
go to-night the worst way. Ain't you early?"

"Yes, I guess I am," said Lucyet, rather wearily.

"If you'll set on the piazzer and wait, I'll finish up in just a minute.
You see we had to get dinner for two gentlemen as came down to go
fishin' to-morrer, and it sorter put me back. I wish you'd wait."

"Well, I guess I can wait a few minutes," said Lucyet, the line between
her personal and her official capacity being sometimes a difficult one
to maintain rigidly. She seated herself on the piazza, not observing
that she was just outside of the window of the room within which the two
fishermen were smoking and talking in a desultory fashion. Later their
voices fell idly on her ear, speaking a language she only half
understood, blending with the few lazy sounds of the afternoon. The
conversation was really extremely desultory, being chiefly maintained by
the younger man of the two, who lounged on the sofa of unoriental luxury
with a thorough-going perversion of the maker's plan,--his head being
where his feet ought to have been and his feet hanging over the portion
originally intended for the back of his head. The other man wore the
frown of absorption as, a pencil in his hand, he worried through some
pages of manuscript.

"Oh, I say," observed the idler, "ain't you 'most through slaughtering
the innocents? I want to take that walk."

"I told you half an hour ago that if I could have a few uninterrupted
minutes I'd be with you," answered the other man, without looking up.
"They haven't fallen in my way yet."

"It's pity that moves me to speech," rejoined the first speaker, rising
and sauntering to the window,--not that one outside of which Lucyet was
sitting,--"pity for those young souls throbbing with the consciousness
of power who may have forgotten to enclose a stamp for return. I feel
when I interrupt you as if I were holding back the remorseless wheel of
fate."

His companion allowed this speculative remark to pass without reply. The
idler sauntered back to the table.

"What'll you bet, now, before you go any further, that it'll go into the
waste-basket?"

"Stamped and addressed envelope enclosed," observed the patient editor,
absently.

"Well, what odds will you give me of its being not necessarily devoid of
literary merit, but unfitted for the special uses of your magazine?"

The other was still silent as he laid aside another page.

"Half the time," continued the idler, "to look at you, you wouldn't
believe that you speak the truth when you express your thanks for the
pleasure of reading their manuscripts. It would seem that that, too,
was simulated."

The older man picked up a soft felt hat and threw it across the room at
his companion, without taking his eyes from the page.

"Oh, well," went on the other, "I can read the newspaper. I can read
what is printed, while you're reading what ought to be. Of course you
and I know the things are never the same."

Picking up the paper, he resumed, approximately, his former attitude,
and applied himself to its columns for a few moments of silence. Outside
Lucyet sat quietly, her head resting against the white wooden wall of
the house; and the editor made a mark or two.

"Now this is what the public want to know," resumed the idler, with a
gratuitous air of having been pressed for his opinion. "You editors have
a ridiculous way of talking about the public--"

"It strikes me that it is not I who have been making myself ridiculous
talking about anything."

"The public! You just tell the great innocent public that you are giving
them the sort of thing they like, and half the time they believe you,
and half the time they don't. Now this man"--and he tapped the
"Chronicle"--"knows an editor's business."

"Which is more than you do," interpolated the goaded man.

"'The frame for William Brown's new house is up. William may be trusted
to finish as well as he has begun,'" read the idler, imperturbably.
"'Miss Sophie Brown is visiting friends in Albany. The boys will be glad
to see her back.' 'Fruit of all kinds will be scarce, though berries
will be abundant.'"

The older man stood up, his pencil in his mouth. "Confound you,
Richards! Either you keep still or I go to my room and lock the door."

"Oh, I'll keep still," said Richards, as if it was the first time it
had been suggested. Again there was a silence.

The letter must be to Ada's young man, who was doing a good business in
cash registers, it took so long to write it. It was within five minutes
of the time Lucyet should be at the office. She moved to leave the
piazza, when a not loud exclamation from Richards fell on her ear with
unusual distinctness.

"By Jove! I say, just listen to this."

The editor looked up threateningly, and went back to his work again
without a word.

"No, but really--it's quite in your line. Listen."

Lucyet had moved forward a step or two, when she stood motionless. The
words that floated through the window were her own. Richards had an
unusually sweet voice, and he was reading in a way entirely different
from that in which he had rattled off the "personals." There seemed a
new sweetness in every syllable; the warmth of the hillside, the
perfume of opening apple blossoms, breathed between the lines. He read
slowly, and the words fell on the still air that seemed waiting
breathless to hear them. When he finished, Lucyet was leaning against
the side of the house, her hand on her heart, her eyes shining,--and the
editor was looking at the reader.

"There," he concluded, "ain't there something of the 'blackbird's tune
and the beanflower's boon' in that?"

"Copied, of course?" inquired the editor, briefly.

"No. 'Written for the Daily Chronicle,' and signed 'L.' Not bad, are
they? Of course I don't know," Richards scoffed, "and the public
wouldn't know if it read them, but you know--"

"Read 'em again."

A second time, with increased expression, half mischievous now in its
fervor, the lines on Spring fell in musical tones from Richards's lips.
Still Lucyet stood breathless, her whole being thrilled with an impulse
of exultant, inexpressible delight, listening as she had never listened
before. It was as if she stood in the midst of a shining mist.

"She's got it in her, hasn't she?" Richards added, after a pause.

"Yes," said his companion, slowly. "She's got it in her fast enough;"
and he returned to his page of manuscript. "Much good may it do her!" he
added, with weary cynicism.

Richards laughed, and pulled a pack of cards out of his pocket. "I'll
play solitaire," he said.

"Thank Heaven!" murmured the other, devoutly.

Ada arrived breathless. "Here 'tis," said she. "Did you think I was
never comin'? You've got time enough; they ain't very prompt. There
ain't anythin' the matter, is there?" she asked.

Lucyet took the letter mechanically. "No," she said, "there isn't
anything the matter."

As she went swiftly toward the little post-office the rhythm of those
lines was in her ears; the assured, incisive tones of that man's voice
pulsed through her very soul. She was conscious of no hope for the
future; she had no regret for the past; the present was a glory. In that
moment Lucyet had taken a long, dizzying draught from the cup of
success.



Hearts Unfortified


THE observation train wound its way in clumsy writhings along the bank
of the river, upon which the afternoon light fell in modified brilliancy
as the west kindled towards the sunset. But if the sheen and sparkle of
the earlier day had passed into something more subdued and less
exhilarating, the difference was made up in the shifting action and
color that moved and glowed and flashed on, above and beside the soft
clearness of the stream. The sunlight caught the turn of the wet oars
and outlined the brown muscular backs of the young athletes who were
pulling the narrow shells. The Yale blue spread itself in blocks and
patches along the train, and the Harvard crimson burned in vivid
stretches by its side, and all the blue and crimson seemed instinct
with animation as they floated, quivered, and waved in the thrilled
interest of hundreds of men and women who followed with eager eyes the
knife-blades of boats cleaving the water in a quick, silent ripple of
foam. The crowd of launches, tugs, yachts, and steamers pushed up the
river, keeping their distance with difficulty, and from them as well as
from the banks sounded the fluctuating yet unbroken cheers of
encouragement and exhortation, rising and falling in rhythmic measure,
guided by public-spirited enthusiasts, or breaking out in purely
individual tribute to the grand chorus of partisanship. It had been a
close start, and the furor of excitement had spent itself, somewhat,
during the first seconds, and now made itself felt more like the quick
heart-beats of restrained emotion as the issue seemed to grow less
doubtful, though reaching now and then climaxes of renewed expression.

"Alas for advancing age!" sighed a woman into the ear of her neighbor,
as their eyes followed the crews, but without that fevered intensity
which marked some other glances.

"By all means," he answered. "But why, particularly, just now? I was
beginning to fancy myself young under the stress of present
circumstances."

"Because even if one continues to keep one's emotions
creditably--effervescent--one loses early the single-minded glow of
contest."

"A single-minded glow is a thing that should be retained, even at
considerable cost."

"And what is worse yet, one grows critical about language," she
continued calmly, "and gives free rein to a naturally unpleasant
disposition under cover of a refined and sensitive taste."

Ellis Arnold smiled tolerantly.

"They are pretty sure to keep their lead now," he said. "The other boat
is more than a length behind, and losing. They are not pulling badly,
either," he added. "You were saying?"--and he turned towards her for the
first time since the start.

She was a handsome blonde-haired woman, perfectly dressed, with the seal
of distinction set upon features, figure, and expression.

"That was what I was saying," she replied, "that the ones that are
behind are not pulling badly."

"More sphinx-like than ever," he murmured. "I perceive that you speak in
parables."

Miss Normaine laughed a little. The conversation was decidedly
intermittent. They dropped it entirely at times, and then took it up as
if there had been no pause. It was after a brief silence that she went
on: "But you and I can see both boats--the success, and the
disappointment too. And we can't, for the life of us, help feeling that
it's hard on those who have put forth all their strength for defeat."

"But it isn't so bad as if it were our boat that was behind," he said
sensibly.

"Oh, no; of course not. But I maintain that it injures the _fine fleur_
of enjoyment to remember that there are two participants in a contest."

"I suppose it is useless to expect you to be logical--"

"Quite. I know enough to be entirely sure I'd rather be picturesque."

"But let me assure you, that in desiring that there should be but one
participant in a contest, you are striking at the very root of all
successful athletic exhibitions."

She shrugged her shoulders a little.

"Oh, well, if you like to air your powers of irony at the expense of
such painful literalness!"

"The exuberance of my style has been pruned down to literalness by the
relentless shears of a cold world. With you, of course,"--but he was
interrupted by the shouts of the crowd, as the winning boat neared the
goal. The former enthusiasm had been the soft breathings of approval
compared to this outbreak of the victorious. Flags, hats, handkerchiefs
rose in the air, and the university cheer echoed, re-echoed, and began
again.

Arnold cheered also, with an energy not to be deduced from his hitherto
calm exterior, standing up on the seat and shouting with undivided
attention; and Miss Normaine waved her silk handkerchief and laughed in
response to the bursts of youthful joy from the seat in front of her.

"Oh, well," said Arnold, sitting down again, "sport is sport for both
sides, whoever wins--or else it isn't sport at all."

"Ah, how many crimes have been committed in thy name!" murmured Miss
Normaine.

"Katharine, I think you have turned sentimentalist."

"No, it's age, I tell you. I'm thinking more now of the accessories
than I am of the race. That's a sure sign of age, to have time to notice
the accessories."

Arnold nodded.

"There's compensation in it, though. If we lose a little of the drama of
conflict on these occasions, we gain something in recognizing the style
of presentation."

"Yes," and she glanced down at her niece, whose pretty eyes were making
short work of the sunburned, broad-shouldered, smooth-faced, handsome
boy, who was entirely willing to close the festivities of Commencement
week subjected to the ravages of a grand, even if a hopeless, passion.

From her she looked out upon the now darkening river. There had been
some delay before the train could begin to move back, and the summer
twilight had fallen; for the race had been at the last available moment.
Though it was far from quiet, the relief from the tension of the
previous moments added to the placidity of the scene. The opposite
banks were dim and shadowy, and the water was growing vague; there were
lights on some of the craft; a star came out, and then another; there
were no hard suggestions, no sordid reminders. It was a beautiful world,
filled with happy people, united in a common healthy interest; the
outlines of separation were softened into ambiguity and the differences
veiled by good breeding.

"It is only a mimic struggle, after all," she said at last. "The stage
is well set, and now that the curtain is down, there is no special
bitterness at the way the play ended."

"There you exaggerate, as usual," he replied, "and of course in another
direction from that in which you exaggerated last time."

"The pursuit of literature has made you not only precise but didactic,"
she observed.

"There is a good deal, if not of bitterness, of very real
disappointment, and some depression."

"Which will be all gone long before the curtain goes up for the next
performance."

"Ah, yes, to be sure; but nevertheless you underrate the disappointments
of youth,--because they are not tragic you think they are not
bitter,--you have always underrated them."

She met his eyes calmly, though he had spoken with a certain emphasis.

"We are talking in a circle," she replied. "That was what I said in the
first place--that as we grow older we have more sympathy with defeat."

"You are incorrigible," he said, smiling; "you will accept neither
consolation nor reproof."

"Life brings enough of both," she answered; "it does not need to be
supplemented by one's friends."

The train was moving very slowly; people were laughing and talking gayly
all about them; more lights had come out on the water, and a gentle
breeze had suddenly sprung up.

"Just what do you mean by that, I wonder?" he said slowly.

"Not much," she answered lightly. "But I do mean," she added, as he
looked away from her, "that, whether it be the consequence of the
altruism of the day, or of advancing age, as I said at first, it has
grown to be provokingly difficult to ignore those who lose more serious
things than a college championship. Verestchagin and such people have
spoiled history for us. Who cares who won a great battle now?--it is
such a small thing to our consciousness compared to the number of people
who were killed--and on one side as well as the other."

"Except, of course, where there is a great principle, not great
possessions, at stake?"

"Yes," she assented, but somewhat doubtfully, "yes, of course."

"But it shows a terrible dearth of interest when we get down to
principles."

"Yes," she said again, laughing. Meanwhile Miss Normaine's niece was
pursuing her own ends with that directness which, though lacking the
evasive subtlety of maturer years, is at once effective and commendable.

"It was nothing but a box of chocolate peppermints," she insisted. "I'd
never be so reckless as to wager anything more without thinking it over.
I have an allowance, and I'm obliged to be careful what I spend."

He looked her over with approval.

"You spend it well," he asserted.

"I have to," she returned, "or else boys like you would never look at me
twice."

"I don't know about that." He spoke as one who, though convinced, is not
a bigot.

"It's fortunate that I do," she replied decidedly. "I'm mortifyingly
dependent on my clothes. There's my Aunt Katharine now,--she has an air
in anything."

"I like you better than your aunt," he confessed.

"Of course you do. I've taken pains to have you. But it was just as much
as ever that you looked at me twice last night."

"I was afraid of making you too conspicuous."

"A lot you were!" she retorted rudely. "Who was that girl you danced
with?"

He smiled wearily.

"Tommy Renwick's cousin from the West."

"She is pretty."

"Very good goods."

"Is she as nice as Tommy?"

"No. There are not many girls as nearly right as Tommy."

"Except me."

"Well, perhaps, except you."

"But then, I'm not many."

"No, separate wrapper, only one in a box," he admitted handsomely.

Miss Normaine's niece had dark eyes, brown hair that curled in small
inadvertent rings, and a rich warm complexion through which the crimson
glowed in her round cheeks. She was so pretty that she ought to have
been suppressed, and had a way of speaking that made her charming all
over again.

"It was not chocolate peppermints, and you know quite well it wasn't,"
he said, with the finished boldness compatible with hair parted exactly
in the middle and a wide experience. Miss Normaine's niece opened her
eyes wide.

"What was it?"

"Nothing but your heart."

She considered the matter seriously.

"Was it really?"

"It was really."

"And I've lost," she pondered aloud.

"And you've lost."

She raised her eyes with a glance in which he could read perfect faith,
glad acknowledgment, and entire surrender.

"Do you want me to keep telling you?" she demanded with adorable
petulance.

"There is Henry Donald!" exclaimed Miss Normaine. "I didn't see him
before. He has grown stout, hasn't he?"

"Yes, and bald."

"Isn't he young to be bald and stout too? Do tell me that he is," urged
Miss Normaine with pathos. "He seems just out of college to me, and I
don't like to think that I've lost all sense of proportion."

"Oh, no, you haven't," said Arnold, consolingly. "It's only he that has
lost his. He doesn't take exercise enough. He's coming this way to speak
to you. You had better think of something more flattering to say."

"I never thought Harry Donald would get stout and bald," went on Miss
Normaine, to herself. "There was a period when I let my fancy play
about him, most of the time too, but I never thought of that."

"Who's that man squeezing through the crowd to speak to Aunt Katharine?"
asked Alice.

"That? Oh, that's one of the old boys."

"I can see that for myself."

"He's a Judge Donald of Wisconsin. He's pretty well on, but he's a
Jim-dandy after-dinner speaker. Made a smooth speech at his class
reunion."

"They still like to come to the race and things, don't they?"

"Oh, yes, and they're right into it all while they're here too."

Unhappily unconscious of the kindly feeling being extended to him from
the bench in front, Judge Donald seated himself by Katharine, just as
they drew slowly into the station.

"You haven't been on for some years, have you?" she asked him.

"No," he answered, "I've been busy."

"Oh, we know you've been busy," she interpolated, smiling.

"You're the same Katharine Normaine," he rejoined. "I thought you were,
by the looks, and now I'm sure. You don't really know that I've ever had
a case, but you make me feel that my name echoes through two worlds at
the very least."

"And you are still Harry Donald, suspicious of the gifts that are tossed
into your lap," and they both laughed.

"This is the man of the class," went on Judge Donald, turning to Ellis,
who had taken a seat above them. "Your books have gotten out to
Wisconsin, and that's fame enough for any man."

"Have they really?" said Arnold. "I supposed they only wrote notices of
them in the papers."

"Oh, yes," murmured Miss Normaine. "Ellis has turned out clever,--one
never knows."

"I guess they're good, too," went on Donald; "I tell 'em I used to think
you wrote well in college."

"I thought I did, too," answered Arnold. "I don't believe we're either
of us quite so sure I write well now."

They had delayed their steps to keep out of the crowd, for the people
were leaving the train, some hurrying to catch other trains, some
stopping to greet friends and acquaintances; there was a general rushing
to and fro, the clamor of well-bred voices, the calling out of names in
surprised accost, the frou-frou of gowns and the fragrance of flowers,
in the bare and untidy station.

At last the party of which Miss Normaine was one left the car, and with
the two men she made her way down the platform, through the midst of the
hubbub, which waxed more insistent every moment.

"It is with a somewhat fevered anxiety that I am keeping my eye on
Alice," she said.

"She is with a young man," said Judge Donald.

"That statement has not the merit of affording information. She has been
with a young man ever since we left home."

"It isn't the same one, either," supplemented Arnold.

"It never is the same one," said Miss Normaine, somewhat impatiently. "I
am under no obligation to look after or even differentiate the young
men. I simply have to see that the child doesn't get lost with any one
of them."

"She won't get lost with one," said Arnold, reassuringly, as they were
separated by a cross-current of determined humanity. "She has three now,
and they are all shaking hands at a terrible rate."

Judge Donald departed on a tour of investigation, and returned to say
that there was no chance just at present of their getting away. It was a
scene of confusion which only patience and time could elucidate. The
omniscience of officials had given place to a less satisfactory if more
human ignorance; last come was first served, and a seat in a train
seemed by no means to insure transportation. It was as well to wait for
a while outside as in; so with many others they strolled up and down,
until their car should be more easily accessible.

"Alice is an example of the profound truths we have been enunciating,
Ellis," said Miss Normaine. "She has an ardent admirer on the defeated
crew. At one time I did not know but his devotion might shake her
lifelong allegiance to the other university; but now that victory has
fairly perched, you observe she has small thought for the bearers of
captured banners. We were saying, Mr. Arnold and I," she explained to
Donald, "that it is at our time of life that people begin to remember
that when somebody beats, there is somebody else beaten."

Donald grew grave,--as grave as a man can be with the feathers of an
unconscious girl tickling one ear and a fleeting chorus of the latest
"catchy" song penetrating the other.

"Arnold and I can appreciate it better than you, I guess," he said,
"because there have been times when we thought it highly probable we
might get beaten ourselves."

"Highly," assented Arnold.

"But you, Miss Normaine, you've never had any difficulty in getting in
on the first floor," went on the other. "You've quaffed the foam of the
beaker and eaten the peach from the sunniest side of the wall right
along--I'm quite sure of it just to look at you."

"The Scripture moveth us in sundry places," said Katharine, with a
lightness that did not entirely veil something serious, "not to put too
much faith in appearances. Even I am not above learning a lesson now and
then."

He looked at her curiously.

"I'd like to know by what right you haven't changed more," he said.

"Did you expect to find me in ruins, after--let me see, how many years?"
she laughed. "The hand of Time is heavy, but not necessarily
obliterating. _What_ has become of Alice?"

"She can't have gone far," said Arnold. "She was with us a moment ago."

"There she is with some of the rest of your party--I caught a glimpse of
her just now," added Donald. "She's quite safe."

Alice stood talking with a girl of her own age and two or three
undergraduates, on the outskirts of the crowd. One of the youths wore in
his buttonhole the losing color, but he bore himself with a proud
dignity that forbade casual condolences. Alice's eyes were bright, and
her pretty laugh rippled forth with readily communicated mirth, while
the very roses of her hat nodded with the spirit of unthinking gayety.

"There's the car that belongs to our fellows," said, half to himself,
the person of sympathies alien to those of his present companions. "They
must be about--yes, they're getting on," he added, as a car which had
been propelled from a neighboring switch stopped at the farther end of
the station. Alice's head turned with a swiftness of motion that set the
roses vibrating as if a sudden breeze had ruffled their petals.

"The crew?" she asked.

"Yes," assented the young man.

She turned more definitely towards him, away from the rest of the group,
whose attention was called in another direction.

"Will you do something for me, Mr. Francis?"

"Why, of course."

Alice had not anticipated refusal, and her directions were prompt and
lucid.

"Please go into that car and ask Mr. Herbert to come out to the
platform, at the other end, to speak to me. There isn't much time to
lose, so please be quick."

As he lifted his hat and moved away, she joined in the conversation of
the others, which seemed to be largely metaphorical.

"So he got it that time," one of the young men was explaining, "where
Katy wore the beads."

"Well, it served him quite right," said Alice, with the generosity of
ignorance. Her whole attention was apparently given to the matter in
hand, but she was standing so that she could see the somewhat vague
vestibule of the brilliant but curtained car.

"Oh, yes, but it wasn't on the tintype that the other fellow should have
been there at all."

"No, to be sure, but that made it all the better," said Alice's friend,
with sympathetic vision.

"Why, there's Eugene Herbert!" exclaimed Alice. "I really must go and
tell him that he pulled beautifully, if he didn't win, and comforting
things like that! Don't go off without me."

Before comment could be framed upon their lips, she had left her
companions and was slipping quickly down the platform.

"She knows him very well," said the other girl; "she'll be back in a
minute."

"She must have sharp eyes," said another of the group, as he looked
after her. But too many people were about for fixed attention to be
bestowed upon a single figure. There was but one light under the roof of
that part of the station where a young man was standing, looking rather
sulkily up and down. Alice was a little breathless with her rapid walk
when she reached him.

"I thought Francis was giving me a song and dance," he said, as he
grasped the hand she held out.

"No, I sent him," she explained hurriedly. "And I wanted to say--" She
paused an instant as she looked up at him.

He was serious, and wore a look of fatigue, in spite of the superb
physical health of his whole appearance. The light fell across her face
under the dark brim of her hat, and touched its beauty into something
vividly apart from the shadows and sordidness of the place, yet paler
than its sunlit brilliancy.

"I wanted to say," she went on bravely, "that I've changed my mind. At
least, I didn't really have any mind at all. And if you still want me
to--" she paused again, but something in his eyes reassured her--"I
will--I'd really _like_ to, you know, and _please_ be quiet, there isn't
but a minute to say it in--and I'd never have told you--at least not for
years and _years_--if you had won the race. Now let go of my hand--there
are _hundreds_ of people all about--and you can come and see me
to-morrow."

It was all over in a moment. She had snatched her hand away, and was
speeding back with a clear-eyed look of conscious rectitude, and he had
responded to the exhortations of divers occupants of the car, backed by
a disinterested brakeman, and stepped aboard.

"Oh, well, there's another race next year," he said to somebody who
spoke to him as he sat down in the end seat. It was early for such
optimism, and they thought Herbert had a disgustingly cheerful
temperament.

Alice returned just as Miss Normaine and Arnold came up, and they all
went back together, collecting the rest of the party as they went to
their train. It was a vivacious progress along the homeward route. Pæans
of victory and the flash of Roman candles filled the air. At one time,
when some particular demonstration was absorbing the attention of the
men, Miss Normaine found her niece at her side.

"Aunt Katharine, you know I've always adored you," she said, with a
repose of manner that disguised a trifle of apprehension.

"Yes, I know, Alice, but I really can't promise to take you anywhere
to-morrow. I--"

"I don't want you to--I only want to confide in you."

"Oh, dear, what have you been doing now?"

"I think," replied Alice, while the chorus of sound about them swelled
almost to sublimity, "that I've been getting engaged--to Eugene Herbert,
you know."

"Only to Eugene Herbert," breathed Miss Normaine. "I'm glad it occurred
to you to mention it. But why didn't you say so before?"

"It didn't--it wasn't--before," said Alice, faltering an instant under
the calmly judicial eye of her aunt. "You see," she went on quickly, "it
was because they lost the race. It wouldn't have been at all--not anyway
for a long time,"--and again her mental glance swept the vista of the
years she had mentioned to Herbert himself,--"if it hadn't been for
that; but I couldn't let him go back without either the race or--or
me," she concluded ingenuously.

Arnold had been talking with a man of his own age, and hearing things
that were very pleasant to hear about his latest work, and yet, as he
leaned back in his chair and looked across at Katharine Normaine, whose
own expression was a little pensive, he sighed. It was a great deal--he
told himself it was nearly everything--to have what he had now in the
line of effort which he loved and had chosen. It was not so good as the
work itself, of course, but the recognition was grateful. And as his
eyes dwelt again upon the distinction of Miss Normaine's profile, with
the knot of blonde hair at the back of her well-held head, he sighed
again, as he rose and went over to her. She looked up at him, and her
eyes were not quite so calm as usual.

"I am sitting," she said, "among the ruins."

"Indeed?" he said. "Is there room upon a fallen column or a broken
plinth for me?"

"Oh, yes," she answered, "but it is not for a successful man like you,
whose name is upon the public lips, to gaze with me upon demolished
theories."

"I have taken my time in gazing upon them before now," he observed.

"Everybody is talking about your book," she said.

"Oh, no, only a very few people. But about your theories--which of them
has proved itself unable to bear the weight of experience?"

"You may remember I dwelt somewhat at length upon the indifference of
happy youth to the stings of outrageous fortune when supported by some
one else?"

"I remember. I regard it as the lesson for the day."

"It's early to mention it, but I am obliged to give you the evidence of
my error--honor demands it--and Alice will not mind, even if she sees
fit to contradict it to-morrow;" and she told him what had just been
told her.

He smiled as she concluded her statement, and she, meeting his glance in
all seriousness, broke down into a moment's laughter.

"'She does not know anything but that her side is beating,'" he quoted
meditatively.

"I thought my generosity in confession might at least forestall
sarcasm," she said severely.

"It ought to do so," he admitted.

There was a moment's pause.

"Has youth itself changed with the times, I wonder?" he speculated.
"Certainly you did not sympathize overmuch with defeat at Alice's age."

She did not answer, and she was looking away from him through the glass,
beyond which the darkness was pierced now and then by a shaft of
illumination. The pensiveness that had rested on her face, when he had
looked across the car at her, had deepened almost into sadness.

"And now," he went on, "you have called me successful--which shuts me
out from your more mature sympathy."

Still she did not answer. He bent a little nearer to her.

"Believe me, Katharine," he said, "my success is not so very
intoxicating after all. I need sympathy of a certain kind as much as I
did twenty years ago."

She glanced at him.

"Is that all you want?" she asked with a swift smile.

"No," he returned boldly; and she looked away again, out into the
darkness through which they were rushing.

"I had hoped," he went on, "that my so-called success might be something
to offer you after all this time--something you would care for--and now
I find that your ideals are all reversed. I have not won much, but I
have won a little, and you tell me to-day that it is only extreme youth
that cares for the winners."

"And that I have found out that I was mistaken." Her voice was low, but
quite clear. "Have I not told you that, too?"

"And about experience of life making us care the more for those who fail
in everything?"--he waited a moment. "You have not mentioned that that
was a mistake also. I wish you'd stop looking out of that confounded
window," he added irritably, "and look at me. Heaven knows I've failed
in some things!"

She laughed a little at his tone, but she did not follow his suggestion.

"Oh, no," she said, "you have succeeded."

"And that means--what?"

"I told you I was sitting among the ruins of my theories," she said,
while a faint color, which he saw with sudden pleasure, rose in her
cheek.

"That adverse theory--has that gone too?"

"I have had enough of theories," she declared softly. "What I really
care for is success."



Her Neighbors' Landmark


THE sun had not quite disappeared behind the horizon, though the days no
longer extended themselves into the long, murmurous twilight of summer;
instead, the evening fell with a certain definiteness, precursor of the
still later year.

On the step of the door that led directly into the living-room of his
rambling house sat Reuben Granger, an old man, bent with laborious
seasons, and not untouched by rheumatism. The wrinkles on his face were
many and curiously intertwined; his weather-beaten straw hat seemed to
supply any festal deficiency indicated by the shirt-sleeves; and his dim
eyes blinked with shrewdness upon the dusty road, along which, at
intervals, a belated wagon passed, clattering. His days of usefulness
were not over, but he had reached the age when one is willing to spend
more time looking on. He had always been tired at this hour of the day,
but it was only of late that fatigue had had a certain numbing effect,
which disinclined him to think of the tasks of tomorrow. He came to this
period of repose rather earlier nowadays, and after less sturdy
labor--somehow, a great deal of the sturdy labor got itself done without
him; and there was an acquiescence in even this dispensation perceptible
in the fall of his knotted hands and the tranquil gaze of his faded
eyes.

About a dozen yards beyond him, on the doorstep leading directly into
the living-room of a house which joined the other, midway between two
windows (the union marked by a third doorway unused and boarded up,
around whose stone was the growth of decades), sat Stephen Granger. His
weather-beaten straw hat shaded eyes dim also, but still keen; and a
network of curious wrinkles wandered over his tanned and sun-dried
skin. Upon his features, too, dwelt that look of patient tolerance that
is not indifference, that only the "wise years" can bring; and on his
face as well as his brother's certain lines about the puckered mouth
went far to contradict it. If one saw only one of the old men, there was
nothing grim in the spectacle--that of a weary farmer looking out upon
the highroad from the shelter of his own doorway; but the sight of them
both together took on suddenly a forbidding air, a suggestion of
sullenness, of dogged resolution; they were so precisely alike, and they
sat so near one another on thresholds of the same long, low building,
and they seemed so unconscious the one of the other. It was impossible
not to believe the unconsciousness wilful and deliberate. A heavily
freighted and loose-jointed wagon rattled noisily but slowly along the
road.

"Howaryer?" called out one of its occupants.

"'Are yer?" returned Stephen Granger.

Reuben had opened his mouth to speak, but closed it in silence, while he
gazed straight before him, unseeing, apparently, and unheeding. The
leisurely driver checked his horse, which responded instantly to the
welcome indication. Behind him in the wagon two calves looked somewhat
perplexedly forth, their mild eyes, with but slightly accentuated
curiosity, surveying the Grangers and the landscape from the durance of
the cart.

"Been tradin'?" asked Stephen.

"Wal, yes, I have," answered the other, with that lingering intonation
that seems to modify even the most unconditional assent.

"Got a good bargain?"

"Wal, so-so."

"Many folks down to the store this evenin'?"

"Wal, considerable."

"Ain't any news?"

"Not any as I know on."

Stephen nodded his acceptance of this state of things. The other nodded,
too. There was a pause.

"G'long," said the trader, as if he would have said it before if he had
thought of it. But the horse had taken but a few steps when another
voice greeted him.

"Howaryer, Monroe?" said Reuben Granger.

"Whoa," said Monroe. "Howaryer?"

"Been down to the Centre?" asked Reuben.

"Yare."

"Got some calves in there, I see."

"Wal, yes; been doin' some tradin'."

Reuben nodded. "Ain't any news, I take it?"

"None in partickler." Another exchange of nods followed.

"G'long," said Monroe, after a short silence, during which the calves
looked more bored than usual. But the shaky wheels had made but a few
revolutions before the owner of the wagon reined in again.

"Say," he called back, twisting himself around and resting his hand on
the bar that confined the calves. "They've took down the shed back of
the meetin'-house. Said 'twas fallin' to pieces. Might 'a' come down on
the heads of the hosses. Goin' to put up a new one." Then, as his steed
recommenced its modest substitute for a trot, unseen of the Grangers he
permitted himself an undemonstrative chuckle. "They can sorter divide
that piece of news between 'em," he said to his companion, who had been
the silent auditor of the conversation. A moment of indecision on the
part of the Grangers had given him time to make this observation, but it
was not concluded when Reuben's cracked voice sang out cheerfully, "Ye
don't say!" A slight contraction passed over Stephen's face. Much as he
would have liked to mark the bit of information for his own, now that it
had been appropriated by another, he gave no further sign. The noise of
the wagon died along the road, and still Reuben and Stephen Granger sat
gazing straight before them at the hill which faced them from the other
side of the way, at the foot of which the darkness was falling fast. By
and by a lamp was lighted in one half of the house, and a moment later
there was a flash through the window of the other, and slowly and
stiffly the two old men rose and went inside, each closing his door
behind him.

"Them's the Granger twins," had said the owner of the calves in answer
to his companion's question as soon as they were out of hearing. "Yes,
they be sort of odd. Don't have nothin' to say to one another, and
they've lived next door to each other ever since they haven't lived
_with_ each other. It's goin' on thirty years since they've spoke. Yes,
they do look alike--I don't see no partickler difference myself, and it
would make it kinder awk'ard if they expected folks to know which one
he's talkin' to. But they don't. They're kinder sensible about that.
They're real sensible 'bout some things," he added tolerantly. "Oh, they
was powerful fond of each other at first--twins, y' know. They was
always together, and when each of 'em set up housekeepin', nothin' would
do for it but they should jine their houses and live side by side--they
knew enough not to live together, seein' as how, though they was twins,
their wives wasn't. So they took and added on to the old homestead, and
each of 'em took an end. Wal, I dunno how it began--no, it wasn't their
wives--it don't seem hardly human natur', but it wasn't their wives."
The speaker sighed a little. He was commonly supposed to have gained
more experience than felicity through matrimony. "I've heard it said
that it was hoss-reddish that begun it. You see, they used to eat
together, and Stephen he used to like a little hoss-reddish along with
his victuals in the spring, and Reuben, he said 't was a pizen weed.
But there! you can never tell; they're both of 'em just as sot as--as
erysipelas; and when that's so, somethin' or other is sure to come. I
know for a fact that Reuben always wanted a taste of molasses in his
beans, and Stephen couldn't abide anythin' but vinegar. So, bymeby, they
took to havin' their meals separate. You know it ain't in human natur'
to see other folks puttin' things in their mouths that don't taste good
to yours, and keep still about it."

His companion admitted the truth of this statement.

"Sometimes I think," went on Monroe, musingly, "that if they'd begun by
eatin' separate they might have got along, 'cause it's only His saints
that the Lord has made pleasant-tempered enough to stand bein' pestered
with three meals a day, unless they're busy enough not to have time to
think about anythin' but swallerin'. Hayin'-time most men is kinder
pleasant 'bout their food--so long 's it's ready. Wal, however it was,
after they eat separate there was other things. There was the weather.
They always read the weather signs different. And each of 'em had that
way of speakin' 'bout the weather as if it was a little contrivance of
his own, and he was the only person who could give a hint how 'twas run,
or had any natural means of findin' out if 'twas hot, or cold, or
middlin', 'less he took hold and told 'em. It's a powerful tryin' sort
of way, and finally it come so that, if Reuben said we was in for a wet
spell, Stephen'd start right off and begin to mow his medder grass, and
if Stephen 'lowed there was a sharp thunder-shower comin' up, inside of
ten minutes, Reuben'd go and git his waterin'-pot and water every blamed
thing he had in his garden. I dunno when it was they stopped speakin',
but that was about all there was to it--little things like that. They
didn't either of 'em have any children; sometimes I've thought if they
had, the kids might sort of brought 'em together--they couldn't have
kep' 'em apart without they moved away, and of course they wouldn't
either of 'em give in to the other enough to move away from the old
farm. Then their wives died 'bout a year from each other. They kep' kind
o' friendly to the last, but they couldn't stir their husbands no more'n
if they was safes--it seems, sometimes, as if husbands and wives was
sort o' too near one another, when it comes to movin', to git any kind
of a purchase. When Reuben's wife died, folks said they'd have to git
reconciled now; and when Stephen's died, there didn't seem anythin' else
for 'em to do; but folks didn't know 'em. Stephen went up country where
his wife come from and brought home a little gal, that was her niece, to
keep house for him; and then what did Reuben do but go down to Zoar,
where _his_ wife come from, and git her half-sister--both of 'em young,
scart little things, and no kin to one another--and _they_ can't do
nothin' even if they wanted to. Bad-tempered? Wal, no. I wouldn't say
the Granger twins was bad-tempered;" and the biographer dexterously
removed a fly from his horse's patient back. "They're sot, of course,
but they ain't what they used to be--I guess it's been a sort of
discipline to 'em--livin' next door and never takin' no kind of notice.
They're pleasant folks to have dealin's with, and I've had both of 'em
ask me if I cal'lated it was goin' to rain, when I've been goin'
by--different times, o' course--but it 'most knocked the wind out of me
when they done it, 'stead of givin' me p'inters. Yes, you never can
speak to 'em both at once, 'cause the other one never hears if ye do;
but there! it ain't much trouble to say a thing over twice--most of us
say it more'n that 'fore we can git it 'tended to; and," he added, as he
leaned forward and dropped the whip into its socket preparatory to
turning into his own yard, "most of us hears it more'n once."

"Monroe," called a voice from the porch, "did you bring them calves?"

"Yare," said Monroe.

"I told you if you stopped to bring 'em, you wouldn't be home till after
dark."

"Wal?"

"I told you 't would be dark and you'd be late to supper."

"Wal?" and Monroe took down the end of the wagon, and persuaded out the
calves.

The person who was Monroe's companion and the recipient of his
confidences was a young woman who was an inmate of his house for the
present month of September.

Confident and somewhat audacious in her conduct of life, Cynthia Gardner
had felt that this September existence lacked a motive for energy before
it brought her into contact with the Granger twins.

"They are so interesting," she said to Monroe, a day or two later.

"Wal, I guess they be," answered Monroe, amiably. The quality of being
interesting did not assume to his vision the proportions it presented to
Cynthia Gardner's, but he saw no reason to deny its existence. Cynthia
cast a backward glance from the wagon as she spoke, and saw Reuben
slowly and stiffly gathering up dry stalks in his garden, while Stephen
propped up the declining side of a water-butt in his adjoining domain,
one man's back carefully turned to the other.

She walked back from the Centre, and stopped to talk with the twins in a
casual manner. But no careful inadvertence drew them, at this or any
later time when their social relations had become firmly established,
into a triangular conversation. They greeted her with cordiality,
responded to her advances, talked to her with the tolerant and humorous
shrewdness that lurked in their dim eyes, but it was always one at a
time. If, with disarming naïveté, she appealed to Stephen, Reuben turned
into a graven image; and if she chaffed with Reuben, Stephen became as
one who having eyes seeth not, and having ears heareth not. But she
persisted with a zeal which, if not according to knowledge, was the
result of a firm belief in the possibility of a final adjustment of
differences. She did not know, herself, what led her into such
earnestness,--a caprice, or the lingering pathos of two lonely, barren
lives.

Monroe watched her proceedings with tolerant kindliness. It was not his
business to discourage her. He knew what it was to be discouraged, and
he felt that there was quite enough discouragement going about in life
without his adding to it.

"I tell you they would like to be reconciled, Mr. Monroe," said Cynthia.
"They don't know they would like it, but they would."

"Wal, mebbe they would. They're gittin' to be old men. And when you git
along as far as that, you don't, perhaps, worry so much about _bein'_
reconciled, but neither does it seem as worth while _not_ to. There's a
good deal that's sort of instructive about gittin' old," he ruminated.

"It's very lonely for them both, I think;" and Cynthia's voice fell into
the ready accents of youthful pity.

"Their quarrel's been kinder comp'ny for 'em," suggested Monroe.

"It's overstayed its time," asserted Cynthia.

"Mebbe," answered Monroe.

The crisis--for Cynthia had been looking for a crisis--came, after all,
unexpectedly. She had been for the mail, and as she drove the amenable
horse over the homeward road she strained her eyes to read the last page
of an unusually absorbing letter, for it was again sundown, and the
Granger twins again sat in their doorways. There was a decided chill in
the air, this late afternoon. The old men, though they were sturdy
still, had put on their coats, and from behind them the comfortable glow
of two stove doors promised a later hour of warmth and comfort. Their
aspect was more melancholy than usual, whether it were that the
bleakness of winter seemed pressing close upon the bleakness of lonely
age, or that there was an added weariness in the droop of the thin
shoulders and the fixed eyes--it was certain that the picture had gained
a shadow of depression.

For once, Cynthia was not thinking of them as she drew near. The reins
were loose in her hand, and as she bent to catch the waning light, an
open newspaper, which she had laid carelessly on the seat beside her,
was lifted by a transient gust of wind and tossed almost over her
horse's head. No horse, of whatever serenity, can be thus treated
without resentment. He jerked the reins from her heedless hands, made a
sharp turn to avoid the white, wavering, inconsequent thing at his feet,
a wheel caught in a neighboring boulder, and Cynthia was spilled out
just in front of the Granger house and midway between the twins. In a
common impulse of fright the two old men started to their feet. For an
instant they paused to judge of the situation, but it was no time for
fine distinctions. The accident had, to all appearances, happened as
near one as the other, and meanwhile a young and pretty woman lay
unsuccored upon the ground. It became a point of honor to yield nothing
to an ignored companion. As speedily as their years allowed, Stephen and
Reuben marched to the rescue. The horse, meanwhile, had dragged the
overturned wagon but a few yards, and had stopped of his own reasonable
accord. As Cynthia raised herself rather confusedly and quite convinced
that she was killed, her first impression was that the angels were older
than she had fancied, and looked very much like the Granger twins. But
in a few seconds her balance of mind was restored, she realized that
while there was life there was hope, and that for the first time in her
experience the eyes of Reuben and Stephen were fixed solicitously upon a
common object, that each of them had stretched out to her a helping
hand, and that two voices with precisely the same anxious intonation
were saying,--

"Be ye hurt?"

It was a solemn moment, but Cynthia Gardner was of the stuff that
recognizes opportunity. She laid a hand upon each rugged arm, and
steadied herself between them; she perceived that they trembled under
her touch, and she felt that the instant in which they stood side by
side was dramatic.

"I declare, 'twas too bad," said Reuben.

"'Twas too bad," said Stephen.

"Is the horse all right?" asked Cynthia, feebly.

"Yes, Johnny Allen got him," said Stephen.

"Johnny Allen came along," said Reuben, as if Stephen had not spoken,
"and he's got him."

"I can walk," she said, with not unconscious pathos, "if you will walk
with me, but I must go in and rest a moment;" and the three moved slowly
straight forward.

A few steps brought them to the point at which they must turn aside to
reach either entrance. Before them rose the old boarded-up, dismal
doorway, weather-beaten, stained, repellent as bitterness. There was
another fateful pause. Cynthia felt the quiver that ran through the
frames of the old men as for the first time in long years they stood
side by side before the doorway about which as children they had played,
and through which as boys they had rushed together. In Cynthia's
drooping head plans were rapidly forming themselves, but she had time to
be thankful that she did not know which was Reuben and which was
Stephen--it saved her the anxiety of decision; instinctively she turned
to the right, a small brown hand clutching impartially either rough and
shabby sleeve.

The man on her right swerved in an impulse of desertion, but her grasp
did not relax.

"Is the judgment of Solomon to be pronounced!" she said to herself, half
hysterically, for her nerves were a little shaken.

"Oh, I hope I sha'n't faint!" she exclaimed aloud.

Beneath Reuben's rustic exterior beat the American heart that cannot
desert an elegant female in distress. He followed the inclination of the
other two to Stephen's door, and in another never-to-be-forgotten moment
he stepped inside his brother's house.

Stephen's deceased wife's niece was so overcome by the spectacle that
she retained barely enough presence of mind to drag forward a wooden
chair upon which Cynthia sank in a condition evidently bordering upon
syncope. It was a critical moment; she must not give the intruder an
opportunity to escape. She knew the intruder by that impulse of
desertion, and she clung the tighter to his arm when she murmured
pitifully, "If you could get me some water, Mr. Granger."

Stephen hastened towards the kitchen pump--the sight of Reuben in his
side of the house, after thirty years, set old chords vibrating with a
suddenness that threatened to snap some disused string, and his
perceptions were not as clear as usual. He seized the dipper, filled it,
and looked about him.

"Where's the tumbler, Jenny?" he called impatiently.

"It's right there," answered the girl, with the explicitness of
agitation.

"Whar?" he demanded with asperity.

"Settin' on the side--right back of the molasses jug."

"Molasses jug!" he exclaimed. "Nice place for the molasses jug!"

"We was goin' to have baked beans for supper," said the trembling Jenny,
feeling that it was best to be tentative about even a trifling matter
within the area of this convulsion, "and you always want it handy."

It was a simple statement, but it laid a finger upon the past and upon
the future. Cynthia, through her half-closed eyes, saw one old man with
disturbed features, standing with his hand upon her chair, while another
old man shuffled toward her with a glass of water, which spilled a
little in his shaking hand as he came across the humble kitchen. Most
inadequate dramatic elements, yet they held the tragedy of nearly a
lifetime, and the comedy, though more evident, was cast by it in the
shade, and she neither laughed nor cried.

Within a few moments more she was on her homeward way, a trifling break
in the harness tied up with twine, and Johnny Allen in the seat beside
her as guard of honor.

The next evening the people, driving home from the Centre, were saved
from some active demonstration only by the repression of the New England
temperament. Some of them even, after driving past, invented an errand
to drive back again, so as to make sure. For the Granger twins sat side
by side in front of the disused doorway, and their straw hats were
turned sociably towards one another, now and then, as they exchanged a
syllable or two, and there was a mild luminousness of pleasure in the
recesses of their pale-blue eyes. The evening darkened fast into night.
The plaintive half-chirp, half-whistle of a tree-toad fell in monotonous
repetition upon the ear.

"Hear them little fellers!" said Stephen, ruminantly. "I reckon they
think it's goin' to rain."

"Yare," said Reuben. "And," he went on, pushing back his straw hat and
looking up into the sky, "I wouldn't wonder if they was right."

"Mostly are," said Stephen.



_Miss Trumbull's New Story_

       *       *       *       *       *

Mistress Content Cradock

AN HISTORICAL TALE OF NEW ENGLAND LIFE IN THE TIME OF GOVERNOR WINTHROP
AND ROGER WILLIAMS

By ANNIE ELIOT TRUMBULL

_Author of "A Cape Cod Week," "Rod's Salvation," "A Christmas Accident,"
etc._

_1 vol. 12mo., cloth. Illustrated. Price, $1.00._

       *       *       *       *       *

          A charming colonial romance.--_The
          Congregationalist._

          It is in a word a fascinating, strong, well-told
          story.--_The Church Review._

          It is a delightful way to study history--one of
          the best of ways--to read a book written by one
          whose historical information is accurate.--_Boston
          Advertiser._

          The thread of romance and love is rendered most
          attractive by the author's well-known bright and
          attractive style, her delicately fashioned
          descriptions, and her entertaining dialogue.--_N.
          Y. Times._

          Winsome and captivating, Content pleases us of
          to-day as she did the lover who patiently waited
          to obtain the gift of her not too easily engaged
          heart, and the quiet story of her fortunes is well
          worth following.--_Literature._

       *       *       *       *       *

_For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid, on receipt of price, by
the Publishers,_

          A. S. BARNES & CO.
          156 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK



Rod's Salvation.

BY

ANNIE ELIOT TRUMBULL.

Illustrated by Charles Copeland. 12mo, cloth, 285 pages. $1.00.

       *       *       *       *       *

          The volume entitled "Rod's Salvation," contains
          four short stories, some of which are long enough
          to be fairly called novelets.... "Rod's Salvation"
          is a good picture of 'longshore life, telling of
          the devotion of a sister to a scapegrace brother
          and well worthy a reading.--_Springfield
          Republican._

          Miss Trumbull is blessed by a most delightful and
          unpretentious gift of story-telling. Her work
          suggests a twilight musician; she has a certain
          dainty humor in her touch.--_The Citizen._

          "Rod's Salvation" appears to us the most
          interesting sketch of the four in the present
          volume. It proves a thorough comprehension of the
          noblest characteristics of the inhabitants of the
          typical New England fishing village. The author
          shows us diamonds in the rough, and with a most
          happy talent, suddenly reveals to us the gleaming
          beauties beneath their rude exterior. "Rod's
          Salvation" is an inspiring story, the pathos of
          which is accentuated by the delicate satire,
          exquisite humor, and touches of kindly human
          nature which lead one up to the unexpected
          climax.--_The Church Review._



A
Cape Cod Week.

BY
ANNIE ELIOT TRUMBULL.

12mo, cloth, 170 pages. $1.00.

       *       *       *       *       *

          The keenness, quickness, and acuteness of the New
          England mind were, perhaps, never better
          illustrated than in her stories. Her conversations
          are at times almost supernaturally bright; such
          talk as one hears from witty, brilliant, and
          cultivated American women--talk notable for
          insight, subtle discriminations, unexpected and
          surprised terms and persuasive humor.

          "A Cape Cod Week" contains an account of the
          adventures and achievements of three young women
          who sought the seclusion, silence, and scenery of
          Cape Cod, and who enlivened that remote and
          restful country by flashes of talk often
          brilliant, almost always entertaining. Miss
          Trumbull's work is delightful reading: the
          sameness of the commonplace and the obvious is so
          entirely absent from it.--_The Outlook._

          Annie Eliot Trumbull delights in fine descriptions
          of nature as it exists. The book is capital
          reading and its merits can be appreciated the
          whole year round.--_New York Times._

          A delightful, gossipy little sketch of a week's
          holiday on Cape Cod. It is full of bright things,
          imaginative to a degree, and yet based on facts as
          we have all seen them on the sands of the Cape.
          The book is beautifully printed and
          bound.--_Boston Globe._



The "Annie Eliot" Stories

FIVE NEW BOOKS

BY ANNIE ELIOT TRUMBULL

          MISTRESS CONTENT CRADOCK. Illustrated by Chas.
            Copeland. 12mo, cloth, 306 pages. $1.00.

          A CHRISTMAS ACCIDENT AND OTHER STORIES. 12mo,
            cloth, 234 pages. $1.00.

          A CAPE COD WEEK, 12mo, cloth, 170 pages. $1.00.

          ROD'S SALVATION. Illustrated by Charles Copeland.
            12mo, cloth, 285 pages. $1.00.

          AN HOUR'S PROMISE. _New Edition_. 12mo, cloth.
            $1.00.

       *       *       *       *       *

          The reader will enjoy the wit, the delicate
          satire, the happy bits of nature description.--_S.
          S. Times._

          They are New England stories and exhibit a
          delicate comprehension of many types of New
          England character. They are delightfully readable,
          and the books ought to be favorites.--_The
          Congregationalist._

          Miss Trumbull's claim to the attention of her
          readers is undisputed. Her short stories possess a
          freshness, a poignancy and underlying quick-witted
          penetration into human feelings, motives and
          experiences that give them a peculiar charm. Her
          choice of themes is such as appeals to a wide
          circle and her handling of the persons of her
          imagination is exquisite.--_Hartford Post._

       *       *       *       *       *

_For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid, on receipt of price, by
the Publishers,_

          A. S. BARNES & CO.
          156 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 108. "did'nt" changed to "didn't" (We didn't really think then)

Page 108, "appened" changed to "happened" (what happened thirty-five)

Page 135, "hey" changed to "they" (that they stayed)

Page 149, "aquired" changed to "acquired" (They had acquired a)

Page 156, "colyum" changed to "column" (so nice in the column)

Page 238, "CRADDOCK" changed to "CRADOCK" (CRADOCK. Illustrated)

Page 235, "Literature" was obscurred (worth following.--_Literature._)





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